Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Trump's State of the Union Speech

The actual state of the union in the US is dire if by "union" we mean a general, if vague, belief in the existence of an implicit contract between the government and its citizens or agreement about the actual contents of such a contract.  The state of the union from that angle is in the divorce courts, because the Republicans and the Democrat desire quite different types of governments.

Yes, I know that this is not what the SOTU speech is all about.  But I baked a delicious lemon-almond tart and had a wedge while watching our Supreme Leader deliver the speech.  The tart was sweet yet tart and it made my worldview too benign for a sharp criticism, especially of a speech which certainly was not written by Trump or the Rasputin behind his throne, Stephen Miller, but by someone capable of writing rousing speeches not intended to directly frame one half of the country as the Real Enemies of Trump.

The transcript of the speech can be found here, and here are the major corrections to Trump's statements.  They are fairly fundamental ones and well worth learning about.


I was struck by the Supreme Leader's weird statement that his next priority in health care includes protecting patients with pre-existing conditions, given that his own Justice Department has argued that the provisions in the Affordable Care Act which actually do just that protecting are unconstitutional.  So this part is probably just one of those verbal libations to the gods and goddesses of lies.

And so were several other parts.  But the most fascinating part of the speech for me was this:

Don’t sit yet, you’re going to like this. And exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before. That’s great. Really great. And congratulations. 

Does Trump suggest that the increased number of women serving in Congress is somehow his doing?   Or that it is  due to efforts by the Republicans?

The reverse is the case.  The Republican Party has so few women in the Congress that they could be declared an endangered species, and that is, of course, how the Republican Powers That Be like it.  Women belong in the kitchens and bedrooms.

From a different vantage point Trump is, indeed, a major cause of the increase in female representation in the Congress.  That's because of his sexist views and the misogynist policies of his administration.  Those created the Women's March, the great rise in female political involvement, and, ultimately a larger number of female Congress-critters.

Never mind that.  In this speech Trump promises 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. 
That would be awesome!  But a cynical goddess like me cannot wonder how Trump's base will react to that.  Neither the fundies nor the billionaires like ideas of that sort (they smell of Scandinavian socialism with possibly even fathers taking time off).  This makes me fear that the promise will not amount to anything more.

And note that he doesn't seem too worried about those parents whose children were taken from them at the border.  In fact, his administration suggested that reuniting those family units could be traumatic to the children...

What else has Trump done for us ladies?

Well, he is pleased that so many women have jobs now, presumably because of the great economic record of his administration.*  But wait a little:

A look at one of President Donald Trump’s statements from his State of the Union address on Tuesday night and how it compares with the facts:
TRUMP: “All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before.”
THE FACTS: Of course, there are more women working than ever before. But that’s due to population growth — and not something that Trump can credit to any his policies.

In any case, many in his Alt Right base would not be proud of women having jobs because the jobs belong to menz.

The speech also had the obligatory abortion nod to Trump's evangelist base, having to do with very late abortions:

Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments from birth. 
I was going to write quite a bit about his arguments**, but got stuck with my utter inability to find data about the percentage of all abortions which are carried out after the twenty-seventh week of pregnancy.  The Guttmacher Institute tells us that only 1.4% of all abortions take place at or after the twenty-first week of pregnancy, but that's not the beginning of the third trimester, the twenty-eighth week is. 

My intuition suggests that most of those later abortions are performed before the third trimester, but I cannot find data on it.  Neither can I find good data on the reasons for very late abortions, though the only ones I have actually heard or read about had to do with severe and tragic non-viability cases.

In any case, it's extremely unlikely that medical professionals would agree to a late-term abortion for the kinds of trivial reasons as the pro-lifers so often hint at.  And late-term abortions do require the agreement of at least one medical professional.

All in all, Trump's speech was an odd one.  He gave all sorts of nods to women, the group he likes to chase almost as much as his party likes to chase them away. But he also included his usual hobby-horses about the frightening people walking to invade us through the southern border, Iran as somehow the major state source of terrorism,  how he kicked NATO in the nuts, the enormously humongous amount of winning we are all experiencing and so on.

If there's any take-home message in it, it's probably how he plans to start his campaign for a second term (how I hate to contemplate that).  Note this bit:

Another historic trade blunder was the catastrophe known as NAFTA. I have met the men and women of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire, and many other states whose dreams were shattered by the signing of NAFTA. For years, politicians promised them they would negotiate for a better deal. But no one ever tried — until now. 

As Nicholas Fandos notes at that link, Trump carefully names swing states that he needs to win in 2020.  Do you hear him, Vlad?

*  Two general points to be aware of when attributing a particular economic situation to the sitting president, whether the situation is good or bad, are these:

First, no administration has complete power over business cycles.  Second, it's quite possible that the good economic times existing under one administration have more to do with what the previous administration did than what the current administration has so far done.  The latter effects might be perceivable in, say, another two years.

**  See here for a more realistic description of the New York bill.  The reasons for it are ultimately in the possibility that the Supreme Court (coughKavanaughcough) will overturn Roe v. Wade.  The new bill guarantees the right to abortion in New York state should that happen.