SOTU 2019: President Camacho holds forth
So, the State of the Union 2019 finally happened. If you just read the transcript, it’s a speech which any other President could have given. Go ahead: read the first few paragraphs of it in Obama’s voice—it will seem perfectly natural. This isn’t a “Trump” speech, it’s an “American president” speech—given by the imperator of the world. The speech and its implications exist independent of the figurehead—it is an expression of the State, of the Empire.
U.S.A! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
President Camacho’s speech sparked Olympics-style jingoistic and enthusiastic chanting from the august, legislative body of the U.S. at three points. The 30-second video below points them out; I include full quotes below.
First up was women:
“[…] we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.” At this point, all of the women, dressed in white, many of them Democrats, stood up and cheered, then started chanting U.S.A. repeatedly. You can even see Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez kind-of dancing in the front.
Next up was socialism:
“We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom—and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair. Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence—not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”
Chants of U.S.A filled the chamber.
Trump’s broadside against Venezuela is based nearly in its entirety on a pile of fabrication. Of course, it has broad bipartisan support in America, which has never seen a regime-change it couldn’t wholeheartedly get behind. Regardless of party affiliation—including, unfortunately, Bernie Sanders—they will almost all support economic warfare and empire.
“We have unleashed a revolution in American energy—the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world. And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy. After 24 months of rapid progress, our economy is the envy of the world, our military is the most powerful on earth, and America is winning each and every day.”
Chants of U.S.A. filled the chamber.
As with empire, the legislature knows that fossil fuels power the American economy. An increase in those means short-term gains at the expense of future generations. America’s politicians are stupid and mean, but they understand that the votes of future generations don’t mean anything to them today. When re-election is paramount, the opinions of large and financially gargantuan industrial lobbies override everything.
On the Campaign Trail
Trump spent plenty of time—about half of the speech—talking about immigration. Unfortunately, he was clever (devious?)—he couched his “concern” in non-racist, security-conscious language that is going to speak clearly to over half of the country. An overwhelming hatred of Trump would lead most detractors to miss this point, but Trump used a “classist” justification, not a racist one.
“We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.
“This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today, who followed the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our Nation and strengthen our society in countless ways. I want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally.
“Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country. No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration − reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net. (Emphasis added.)”
It’s incredible the swipes that Trump is allowed to take against the rich—his donors understand that this is the way to get him back into office. This is pure lip service, but it’s almost certainly going to work again. Because “Baaaaa”—we’re sheep, made all the more ignorant and manipulable by our increasingly soporific media landscape.
Budgeting and Propaganda
He went on,
“Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration − reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.”
How is it that the police are heroes and get more and more budget, but crime keeps getting worse? Answer: crime is going down every year—but we have to keep fear high in order to justify pumping more money in that direction anyway.
Why is the social-safety net depleted? It’s not because of immigrants or moochers—it’s because we pour money without concern into empire, but starve social programs. The same goes for why school and hospitals are overburdened—these programs are in shambles because that’s how they are designed. Their inability to provide proper services is a logical outcome of how they are funded. There is no mystery; it’s deliberate policy. It is only mysterious if you believe the espoused guiding principles of America rather than those inferred from its actions.
Many of Trump’s facts and figures are technically true but are used in a way to suggest things that are not true. For example, mentioning that “More people are working now than at any time in our history – 157 million” makes no sense outside the context of how many people are in the country. There are economic indicators for this—but they’re probably not favorable for Trump.
The unemployment numbers in most Western countries—the U.S. included—are heavily manipulated to deliver the desired message. A single number—be it unemployment percentage nationwide or minimum wage nationwide—doesn’t indicate the number of hours worked, percentage of living wage earned, local cost of living, or any of myriad other factors that are actually relevant in determining how people actually live or how secure they feel financially.
That a large majority of American households can’t handle an unexpected $500 cost without immediately going into debt is a far stronger indication that things suck for most people.
Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children!
These two proposals came in between the long tirade against immigration and a broadside against abortion rights.
“To help support working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for America’s children. I am also proud to be the first President to include in my budget a plan for nationwide paid family leave − so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.”
As usual, Trump’s all over the place. With “school choice”, he means “put more money into charter schools, starving the public-school system in favor of privatized schools that only benefit the rich”. I don’t know what he actually means by “paid family leave”, but I suspect it’s probably not as good as it sounds.
The foreign-policy part of Trump’s speech was an unhinged ball of misrepresentation—it sounded like Alex Jones wrote it for him. His characterization of events had little to do with reality. It’s hard to accuse him of prevarication because he probably believes every word wholeheartedly—and probably no major media source in the U.S. would fact-check him on it because they’re “all aboard” for the American mythos train, as well. This is a heedless, reckless vehicle for the most powerful nation to be on.
U.S. behavior can be likened to that of an insanely jealous husband who goes on the warpath basely purely on his own paranoid ravings and fantasies. Trump is channeling a nationwide mental illness directly through a ludicrously overpowered military. In this, he is no different than any other president,
in my lifetime… since WWII…ever.
Every few paragraphs, he says something that’s at least somewhat true. Obama used to do this, too. As stated at the top, the techniques employed by Trump in this speech are not unique to him—they come with the office.
“If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea with potentially millions of people killed. Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one.”
That’s kind of true. I would give far more credit to President Moon of South Korea, but it is true that the threat of war with North Korea has diminished. The threat of war in Venezuela and with Russia and Iran has escalated, but that doesn’t belie the statement above—it just makes it nearly meaningless. In real life, nobody’s going to pat you on the back for washing one car while totaling several others.
“Above all, friend and foe alike must never doubt this Nation’s power and will to defend our people.”
“Eighteen years ago, terrorists attacked the USS Cole − and last month American forces killed one of the leaders of the attack.”
Once more, with Feeling: Iran
The more unhinged Trump got, the less likely he was to be called out by the “liberal” media—they heartily believe in the same talking points, as doled out by the thought leaders at AIPAC, Brookings and so on.
“My Administration has acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran. To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. And last fall, we put in place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country.”
This paragraph is a work of art: nearly every non-filler word is mendacious. Iran is not the leading terror state—the U.S. is. Iran is not “radical”—it’s quite restrained. Iran is not a dictatorship (it has elections). Iran has never had a nuclear-weapons program. Iran has never broken any of its deals. It has submitted and conformed to the most draconian inspection regimes.
The U.S. has been crippling that country with sanctions for decades, relieved only partially and temporarily for a year or so during the Obama years.
Sanctions are war, clear and simple. They are a weapon of war directed at civilians, more devastating than most military weapons. In any sane world, levying such draconian sanctions on a country would be tantamount to contravening the Geneva Convention.
“We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people.”
Trump is throwing meat to the lions here: Democrats and Republicans alike eat this up with a spoon. This is the kind of stuff that will get Trump elected again, in a heartbeat. It’s wildly counterfactual—i.e. deeply disingenuous and out of context—but it fits squarely into the U.S. mythos.
The segue here is masterful, though: Trump moves on to denouncing Antisemitism—going out on quite a limb—and then to lauding the “greatest generation” with a stemwinder about concentration camps, liberation and general WWII fluff.
Bring it on Home(land)
Trump—or his speechwriters—certainly knows how to take advantage of American myths and which buttons to press. He lays it on with a trowel:
“Everything that has come since − our triumph over communism, our giant leaps of science and discovery, our unrivaled progress toward equality and justice − all of it is possible thanks to the blood and tears and courage and vision of the Americans who came before.”
What person in their right mind would denounce him for supporting any of those things? It’s complete bullshit and I personally can call him on it, but my ability to support myself isn’t contingent on monetizing this blog.
However, the American left—and much of the media—are so anti-Trump that they will denounce him, no matter what he says. When he says things that they actual agree with, their knee-jerk response is to fly off the handle and tweet and twit about his madness.
They will disagree with him rather than just denounce him. When they’re forced to walk back their words, chastened by their handlers at organizations that butter their bread for them, they look stupid and untrustworthy.
Read the last few paragraphs in Obama’s, or Clinton’s voice; would it have sounded any different? No. It’s pure pablum, but it’s America’s favorite food—intellectually empty, mendacious and inspiring to the zombified.
According to the article, the guy to whom Trump is referring had already been killed at least twice—once in 2010 and once in 2012:
↩“For instance, in October 2010, news leaked that Fahd al Quso, a top Al Qaeda leader and suspect in the U.S.S. Cole bombing, had been killed by a drone strike in Waziristan. Two years later, he was reported killed again in a strike in Yemen.”
I’m not kidding, either. He continues in this vein for long minutes:
“we will proudly declare that we are Americans. We do the incredible. We defy the impossible. We conquer the unknown.This is the time to re-ignite the American imagination. This is the time to search for the tallest summit, and set our sights on the brightest star. This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots.”
Literally any President of the U.S. would happily have read those parts of the speech. Meat to the lions.↩