The least popular American president; Donald Trump, whose popularity hovers around 30%, took the podium to address the American people about the state of the union on Tuesday January 30th. Although the words of the speech were very carefully selected, and Trump seemed to be intensely coached to be serious, he could not completely hide his narcissistic, self-aggrandizing conceited arrogant personality. He addressed his audience in lofty mannerism with a raised chin and smirky smiles, clapping for himself and at times inviting others; Democratic half of the audience, to clap for him.
It was so pathetic to watch the Republican half of the audience giving Trump stand ovations almost at the end of every sentence, I thought their hands would need an acupuncture treatment at the end of the speech. The Democrats sat there with somber faces, stunned looks, and many were reading/texting on their phones.
Trump started his speech praising himself and his administration for achieving “extraordinary success”, creating 2.4 million jobs (thanks to military sale to Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan), low unemployment (although many corporations had laid off thousands of employees while many others dropped of unemployment list) especially among African and Hispanic Americans (a claim met with somber faces of African congress men), smashed record in stock market (artificially inflated and will soon have to drastically correct itself otherwise will crash in a year or so), raises in wages (4 cents an hour for regular employee and millions in bonuses for corporate CEOs), the biggest tax cuts and reform (reducing corporate tax from 35% to 21%, meager tax cut for the poor and increasing taxes on the hard working middle class), protecting the Second Amendment to bear arms (to commit more crimes), and “historic actions to protect religious liberty” (spreading Islamophobia).
Trump seems to be full of himself and confident of our stupidity when he threw in our face nonsense contradictory terms such as “ending the war on clean coal” and trying to convince us that America has become “an exporter of energy to the world.” This twisted perception could be the reason why he withdrew from Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It is not just the twisted perception that Trump’s mind is endowed with, but also the economic stupidity in believing that halting the government mandates on auto industry would lead Chrysler to move its major plant from cheap labor Mexico to the very expensive labor Michigan, and for Toyota and Mazda to open up a plant in Alabama.
Trump also wants us to believe that he can reduce the price of prescription drugs and fight the opioid epidemic by getting tougher on drug dealers and pushers, when the pharmaceutical corporations are imbedded very deep in the Congress, and are contributors to the opioid epidemic by pushing physicians to prescribe addictive medications. If the price of prescription drugs is far less in other countries than the US, wouldn’t it make more sense and cheaper to import them? Also, someone needs to draw Trump’s attention to the fact that the CIA is the biggest drug dealer in the world, and that the American troops have been protecting the opioid industry in Afghanistan for the last 17 years.
Trump announced that he will end “the era of economic surrender” caused by unfair trade deals that shipped away American companies, jobs and wealth by fixing these trade deals and negotiating new ones to make them “fair” and “reciprocal”; two terms that he is fond of using. The fact is that America has been imposing unfair trade deals since the end of WWII on European and Asian countries, whose industries had been decimated due to war while American industries stayed intact. Within few generations after the war those inflicted countries had revived their industries and started competing against America offering compatible goods, products and services for a lot cheaper prices. Previous American administrations had laxed regulations allowing American corporations to close shops in the US and move to the cheaper and unregulated countries in south east Asia and Latin America.
A seemingly good action Trump will take is the rebuilding of the American crumbling infrastructure that will cost trillions of dollars. Since there would be a huge budget deficit due to Trump’s “biggest tax cuts” for corporations his plan for this project is to dedicate relatively the small amount of $1.5 trillion and to encourage states to sell/lease public land to private sector investors (Wall Street), who would generate return on their investment by imposing heavy tolls and fees on commuters.
Trump moved then to his new legislation to bring the immigration system into the 21st century closing the loopholes such as visa lottery, chain migration and open border allowing drug dealers, criminals, gangs such as MS-13, and low-wage workers to break into the country to perpetrate crimes and to grab American jobs as he put it. Trump proposed four pillars for his reform.
The first pillar is a path to citizenship for DACA children, whose parents had brought them into the US at a young age. Those children, many had become adults and hold jobs, who meet education, work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens, Trump explained. Then softly he added “within 12-year period.”
The second pillar includes building a wall along the southern border with Mexico (by the same Israeli company that built the apartheid wall in occupied Palestine) and hiring more ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) personnel. The cost of building such wall is estimated between $25 to $30 billion and will not be paid by Mexico as Trump asserted, but by American tax payers, not mentioning the expenses of hiring more ICE personnel.
The third pillar is supposed to end the visa lottery that randomly hands out green cards to foreigners without regard to American safety. He did not mention that his as well as previous administrations had sold green cards to foreign corrupt and wanted political criminals, to spying defectors, and to rich drug dealers.
The fourth pillar “protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration” by limiting sponsorship to spouses and minor, not adult, children. Trump does not have the logical sense of understanding that excluding adult children would break not protect nuclear families.
To restore American strength and standing abroad to face rogue regimes and terrorist groups, and Chinese and Russian economic rivalry Trump asked the Congress to end the “dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military” because “unmatched power (bullying) is the surest means of our defense.” This includes the modernizing and rebuilding American nuclear arsenal “making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression.” Doesn’t this violate the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) that the US had ratified in 1968? How does this compare with North Korea, who is not a member of the NPT, and who is modernizing and building its nuclear weapons as deterring self-defense against the continuous American threats of “nuclear utter destruction, total destruction, fire and fury, and bigger nuclear button” that started since WWII? Is it part of the “American Manifest Destiny and Exceptionalism” to give itself certain rights while denying them for other countries?
Trump was not ashamed to claim that the American coalition had defeated ISIS terrorist groups when everybody in the whole world knows very well that Syria/Russia/Iran/Hezbollah coalition is the one who defeated ISIS, that had been created, financed, trained, and armed (including chemical weapons) by American/Israeli/Saudi/Turkish coalition. American troops are still saving, transporting and arming remnants of ISIS in the Middle East. Trump wants to keep those terrorists; “unlawful enemy combatants”, specifically mentioned al-Baghdadi, who was sponsored by Senator John McCain with the approval of the Congress, in detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. Would Trump, also, consider Obama, McCain and many other Congressmen as enemy combatant and detain them in Guantanamo too?
The most shameful point of Trump’s speech is when he argued that it is America’s “sovereign right” to recognize al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of the terrorist colonial entity of Israel in violation of the sovereign rights of the indigenous Palestinians. His contorted conviction in the American exceptionalism led him to criticize the vote of some UN member countries against his recognition clearly indicating that he has violated international law. He demonstrated his arrogance when he asked the Congress to pass legislation to ensure that American foreign aid (bribes) should go only to friends of America within the UN, who would vote for, not against, American decisions regardless of their legality. The reality is that such financial aid to other countries is conditional to be invested in economic ventures that mostly benefit American corporations many times on the expense of the receiving country.
Trump’s alleged support for people of Iran, who demonstrated into the streets, “in their courageous struggle for freedom” is so hypocritical since he does not support the Palestinians in their own rightful struggle against Israeli occupation. It is worth noting that these Iranian demonstrators were few and paid for by the American administration in the hope to spread chaos leading to regime change as was done in 1953 CIA coup toppling down the regime of the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh. Instead, the majority of Iranians demonstrated in the streets in support of, not against, the present regime. In service to nuclear terrorist Israel Trump asked the Congress to “address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.” Unlike Israeli nuclear weapons programs, and American rebuilding its nuclear arsenal, the Iranian nuclear program is peaceful as certified many times by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In justification for his past so-called accomplishments and for his future policies Trump did not hesitate to take advantage of stories of selected victims and heroes as testaments for their yearning for freedom similar to the yearning of great men like Washington and Jefferson and many others that “gave birth to a special place called America” as he stated. It seems that Trump had forgotten that these great men, whom he cited, have been actually illegal immigrants, ruthless occupiers, slave owners and butchers of indigenous native Americans rather than peace makers.
At this note Trump concluded his speech with the Republicans clapping and roaring “U S A” for some time. I could not help by compare their cheering and callings of “making America great again” and “America first” with the Nazi German calls of “Deutchland über alles.”
Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab American from a Palestinian descent. His family was evicted from Haifa, Palestine, after the 1948 Nakba when the Zionists stole his family’s property. Then the family was evicted again from the West Bank during the 1967 Naksah, after the Zionist, again, occupied the rest of Palestine.