Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Trumpergency Speech. Or The National Emergency Which Isn't National.

I watched Trump's speech declaring a state of national emergency.  Now I am very tired, even though the emergency he is declaring is not a national emergency.  It's a Trumpergency, a state of great (the greatest!) Trump-anxiety, caused by his inability to get his way through mere temper tantrums.

But that's not what made me tired.  It was taking notes of the speech while desperately trying to understand what kinds of "facts" his assertions might have been based on. 

So while I listened to his speech, I scribbled down key words and phrases: 

Very talented people, extremely well (negotiations with China went), very good relationship (with a North Korean dictator), couldn't be done before by others (repeated boasting about how he has disarmed North Korea), finally the US is respected, phenomenal (North Korea's location), phenomenal US economy created by Trump, tremendous stock market figures created by Trump, wasn't done before by others (fixing the southern border), economy he created going to the roof (!), never done before (China trade deals), nobody else could do it.


And so on.  This was very tiring. 

Then he got going on illegal border crossings.  It's an invasion of the country!  Violent gang monsters, human traffickers (who specialize in duct-taping women's mouths shut) and drugs flow across the southern border, and if we don't act now, by building the wall, we are all gonna drown in that flow!  

When a reporter asked him why the situation at the southern border is to be regarded as a national emergency now, given that data collected by his own government  show illegal border crossings at a record low and violence at the border also reduced, Trump  says that this particular reporter is lying and gestures at the Angel Moms (mothers of those who were killed by undocumented immigrants) in the audience as proof of... what?

When it was pointed out that most drugs enter the country through ports of entry, Trump simply said that this was a lie, because we have people at the ports of entry checking all vehicles and they are great people.

So there you go.  Facts are whatever he decides they are, and an invasion is an equally flexible concept.

At this point in the speech (and earlier!) I was ready to weep.  Trump is a little bit like Detritus, the troll police officer in Terry Pratchett's fantasy books who counts "one, two, many." 

In other words, Trump is unable or unwilling to distinguish between smaller and larger numbers when they are both greater than what can be counted on the fingers of two hands.  And he seems to think that anecdotal evidence about the existence of a problem (Angel Moms in the audience showing that undocumented immigrants do kill people) also proves that the problem is widespread.

When another reporter asked where he gets his data from he said that it came from many, many sources, including from the Department of Homeland Security.  But I think a lot of his data is propaganda coming from various right-wing pundits.  He praised quite a few of them in his speech:

Sean Hannity is terrific! Rush Limbaugh is great!  Laura Ingraham is great!  Tucker Carlson is great!

Sigh.  Donald wants his wall and he will have it, by hook or by crook.  The meaning of the wall is mostly symbolic, both to him and to his followers.  After all, it would be fairly straightforward to bring ladders to the wall or to dig tunnels under it, or to simply go around it, perhaps by sea.

So I doubt that it has great practical value.  But its symbolic value is immense.  After decades of right-wing political propaganda based on eliciting fear, fear and more fear from those who have Fox News on 24/7, something that symbolically offers safety is the obvious solution, and it doesn't really matter how much it will costs.

And Trump gets his monument.

The rest of the speech, an odd mix of announcements about meetings with foreign leaders and about that southern invasion, is pretty much summarized in the word salad I listed above*.  Everything Trump has done is terrific and fantastic**, he kicks the butts of all other countries but he is also very good friends with sadistic, torturing dictators and so on.

The general tone of the speech was militaristic, very much focused on praising certain professions in this country:  the military, the law enforcement, the customs and ICE. 

These are all male-dominated professions.  It's not an oversight that Trump chose to focus on those fields.  He did exactly the same in his campaign speeches, possibly because his views about women are, to put it kindly, antediluvian.

* One reporter asked him about the national debt which has grown during his Reich from twenty trillion to twenty-two trillion.  Trump promised to reduce it in his campaign speeches.  His excuse for the increase:

He had to fix the sorely depleted military (heh) first, he believes that economic growth will take care of most of it and that he will straighten the rest out later. 

Those Trump tax cuts for the rich aren't exactly helping here, of course.  But not to worry, spending on the poor and/or the elderly will be cut later to reduce the debt.

**  Except that he initially seemed to admit that he made mistakes in the first eighteen months of his Reich.  But then he said it was other people who didn't step up when that was needed.  But now those others do.