Whoppers Big and Small in Trump’s Speech

This is classic dumb guy wedding speech writing: “The chorus of their dating became an earthquake of their love.” – Samantha Bee on Trump’s speech

Donald Trump just gave a fact-free, and detail-free, speech to a joint session of Congress.  Early on in the evening, the president – who has loaded his cabinet with billionaires and his administration with former Goldman Sachs executives – earned audible guffaws from the assembled lawmakers when he declared, in all seriousness, “We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption…”

With illegal border crossings at the lowest level since 1972, Trump devoted a good portion of his speech to spreading fear of undocumented immigrants. But only those from the south.  There are twice as many immigrant visa “overstays” by Canadians as Mexicans.  Meanwhile back in the real world, net migration from Mexico  is below zero – more are leaving than coming

Trump claimed our borders are “wide open…for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.” But not only are our borders more secure than ever, our country’s much-publicized opioid addiction problem is the result of pharmaceutical company marketing, not Mexican drug gangs.  American physicians have legally prescribed enough painkillers – largely in Trump-voting states – to stupefy people enough to, well, elect Trump.

Trump also spoke of immigrants committing crimes, asking what would those in Congress say to an American family when immigrants take “a loved one” from them.  However, the New York Times reports that “Contrary to Trump’s Claims, Immigrants Are Less Likely to Commit Crimes.”  Oh well.

But rather than run the risk that facts might distract the public from his agenda of fear, Trump showcased family members of people who had been killed by immigrants, then announced that he is setting up an official Ministry of Fear, saying,

I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American Victims.  The office is called VOICE — Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement.  We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.

Trump stressed that immigrants take jobs and income from American families.  The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) took a 2014 look at this claim, “there is broad agreement among academic economists that in the long run, immigration has a small but positive impact on the labor market outcomes of native-born workers, on average.”

Then Trump went after Muslims, saying, we can’t allow “allow uncontrolled entry” to our country because – “the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.”  Pushing the fear further, he said,

“We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America — we cannot allow our Nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.”

Trump conveniently neglected to mention the severe vetting process refugees and immigrants from Muslim countries already face, or the fact over half of the people the Department of Homeland Security has determined were inspired by a foreign  group to attempt terrorist attacks in the U.S. were born in the U.S. And he certainly wasn’t about to bring up native-born white, Christian terrorists.

Trump promised to “work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately.”  This promise comes less than a month after this headline, “After meeting with pharma lobbyists, Trump drops promise to negotiate drug prices“.

On the very day that headlines read, “Trump signs executive order to roll back clean water rule“, he said, “My administration wants to work with members in both parties to…promote clean air and clear water…”

Trump also presented environmental destruction as a jobs program, saying for example,

We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.

In fact, as DeSmogBlog points out, Like Keystone XL, Much of Dakota Access Pipeline Steel Made by Russian Company Tied to Putin.  And the jobs?  A few thousand construction jobs, for a few months while the pipelines are constructed, in an economy adding more than 200,000 jobs a month, and then “Operation of the proposed Project would generate 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, primarily for routine inspections, maintenance, and repairs.

These are just a few examples of what we are dealing with when we hear Trump speak.  Big whoppers, little whoppers, bamboozlements, empty promises, detail-free policy mumblings, flat-out intentional lies, trickery, and always the fear and the fear and the fear and the fear and the fear.

But this time his “tone” was supposedly easier to stomach.  Did anyone fall for it?

Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture.  It also appeared on March 1, 2017 on Seeing the Forest, a website featuring commentary by Dave Johnson, frequent public speaker and talk-radio guest and a leading participant in the progressive blogging community.  It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Johnson.

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