Wednesday, March 1, 2017
First Off, The speech last night was good....The best Speech Donald Trump has given in his short term as President...I was surprised that he could stay focused for an hour like that....but otherwise....It was the same old nonsense we have come to expect from him...
President Donald Trump gave a surprisingly conventional first speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.
This is not an ordinarily high or even notable bar. But amid a first several weeks that have been marked by chaos, ineptitude and dark pugnaciousness, conventional can seem exceptional – and pundits immediately started praising this as his best performance. It may have been, but that is also not a high bar, considering all other things!
Republicans especially must be delighted at the appearance of a subdued rather than raving Donald Trump. This performance might even revive talk among pundits of all stripes of a long-hoped-for pivot to a more presidential mien. But make no mistake, Donald Trump has patterns and his brief bouts with a sober tone are inevitably followed by an eruption of the Twitter-troll-in-chief. You can't hope to stop Donald Trump, merely to contain him.
In any case, the underlying delusion and deceit of Trumpism was still present even if it was not adorned with his more florid rhetorical flights: Absent were fake news, so-called judges, the media as enemy of the American people, "American carnage" and so on. He might have eschewed throwing bombs but what he did say was still a typical vision of another America, unrelated to the country in which we live and, in several cases, his own policies and utterances.
So Donald Trump's opening denunciation of threats against Jewish centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries was a bit rich coming from someone who had reportedly earlier in the day suggested that they might actually be some sort of false-flag operation.
His proclamation that "our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead" was startling coming from someone who ran on an a neo-isolationist, "America first" platform and wants to cut the State Department budget by 37 percent.
Mr.Trump apparently believes that American can lead from behind the wall he famously wants to build on our border and lead from afar a world from which he would have us disengage.
He once again reimagined the 2016 election as a grand endorsement for his leadership, hailing a political "earthquake." And while he's right that there was an earthquake it was not one of a popular uprising but instead one of a flawed system denying the will of the voters and installing a second place candidate in the presidency. The aftershocks of that earthquake have been seen in the protests that took place en masse in Washington and around the country in the wake of Trump's inauguration and the flare-ups of anger that Republican lawmakers have faced even in the most conservative states since.
But Donald Trump makes an art of reinterpreting reality, often sundering words and concepts from their meaning. So the man who refuses to release his tax returns or divest himself from his sprawling family business and has turned what his administration styles as the "winter White House" into an pay-for-play ATM machine lectured piously about starting to "to drain the swamp of government corruption." He's not draining the swamp; he's developing it and adding an expensive golf course.
On the budget he bemoaned the alleged fiscal irresponsibility of his predecessor but then spent much of his speech ticking of his own budget-busting list of goodies: corporations will get a “big, big [tax] cut,” while the middle class will also get a “massive” one (not as massive, it’s important to note, as what the wealthiest Americans would get); the Pentagon will get one of the “largest increases in national defense spending in American history,” including eliminating the defense sequester; he wants to build a border wall that could cost up to $25 billion (and no, Mexico is not going to pay for it) ... and plans to pay for it all with a combination of a magically “revved up economy” and budget cuts which are so fantastically draconian that they’ve already been pronounced “dead on arrival” in Congress.
But budgeting is about priorities. And while he talked a good game Tuesday night about investing in women's health and promoting clean air and clean water, he wants to cut funding for Planned Parenthood and slash the Environmental Protection Agency's budget by nearly a quarter.
Indeed, Donald Trump might style himself as a fearless anti-politician shaking up the ways of Washington but in promising goodies for all while eliding whether and how he plans to pay for it he proved to be nothing if not a run-of-the-mill politician.
Of course Donald Trump took his usual tour of the dark, dystopian country which he would have us believe we inhabit: He complained about "lawless chaos," a country allowing "uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting [of immigrants] cannot occur," one with a dead economic engine and soaring crime rates.
The truth is that illegal immigration is near zero, refugees from war-riven countries don't have unlimited access to the country and are carefully scrutinized, crime is close to half-century lows and the economy has had a record 76 straight months of job growth. "We must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited," said Mr.Trump, who seems incapable of honestly acknowledging anything.
Perhaps the best example of Trumpian myth-making, delusion and deception came in his recitation of the case against the Affordable Care Act. As is par for the course on the right he could only pronounce it a disaster, utterly ignoring the 20 million people who have gained health coverage from the law and the 15 million or so who would lose it if the law was repealed. He promised to "expand choice, increase access, lower cost and at the same time provide better health care." Note "access," which is the GOP buzzword – they'll talk about expanding access while actual coverage declines, and then call it a victory. So if people are worried about keeping their health insurance, even if they have pre-existing conditions, once Obamacare is history, Donald Trump promised that a principle of his reform is that they will have "access" to coverage.
Access and actual coverage are different things – I have access to a private plane in the sense that I could buy one if I had the money. See what I mean?
Perhaps the most incredible moment in the health care section of the speech was when Donald Trump promised to lower – not curb or restrain but lower – the cost of health insurance. How? He trotted out the hoary chestnut about allowing insurance companies to sell nationally. No, that's not the magic elixir to lower costs, but even beyond that ask yourself: When was the last time health insurance costs went down? Ever? But Trump and the GOP – which is famously incapable of lining up behind an Obamacare replacement plan – are going to do it. Sure they are?
Internationally, Donald Trump mixed his usual fear-mongering with his also-characteristic reversals of sentiment. So he praised NATO after declaring it obsolete in January; he patted himself on the back for telling the Pentagon to come up with a plan to defeat the Islamic State group after campaigning on the risible notion that he knew more than the generals about the matter and had a secret plan to do so. We have yet to see this secret plan and if the raid on Yemen is an example...I'm good....I don't need to see anything else he has to drag out!
It was perhaps most illustrative that in his closing Mr. Trump listed a series of potential accomplishments that he sees as ambitious but achievable, including safe schools, a prosperous economy and "American footprints on distant worlds."
It's fitting that he seems to think that domestic prosperity is of a similar likelihood to Americans walking on distant planets.
Like I said...A technically good speech , but the usual nonsense from him we have come to expect.