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Est. April 5, 2002
February 07, 2019 - Issue 775

SOTU: Call for Unity
From a President Who Divides


"In his StaIte of the Union speech, he made no mention
of the state of large segments of our population, namely
the marginalized: black citizens and native Americans,
schools in the poorer (minority) communities, substandard
housing in cities across the country, rural poverty that
could be compared to Third World countries, mass
incarceration, environmental destruction, and a list of other
ills that should be addressed by the president and Congress. 
No mention."

Most of the news reporting after the “state of the union” speech this week by Donald Trump concentrated on such things as the immigration “crisis” at the southern frontier and his fake calls for unity among all Americans.

There has hardly been a president who has divided (some would say shattered) the country as much as Trump has, virtually every day of his presidency. There is no accounting for his obsession of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, despite a wall's potential to destroy the social ties between the two peoples at that frontier and, as important, is the environmentally destructive nature of a wall that would severely restrict the movement of endangered species in their natural habitat. But, a healthy environment that we all need to live healthy lives is the last thing on the president's mind.

The president's ignorance of the routine activities of the U.S. has shown itself in his paranoia about keeping all of those brown people from seeking asylum or otherwise entering the U.S. He is either unaware or never read a book about U.S. imperialist hegemony over the entire Western Hemisphere or he is ignoring the result of the exploitation of natural and human resources in any country in Central America and South America, not to mention coups that have been perpetrated in any country that does not obey the U.S. And, that's not to mention the historic U.S. actions that have exploited Mexico and its resources and the U.S. corporations that have impeded the development of that country.

He has made clear what he thinks of people of color, no matter who they are and where they come from. On Tuesday in his State of the Union speech, he made no mention of the state of large segments of our population, namely the marginalized: black citizens and native Americans, schools in the poorer (minority) communities, substandard housing in cities across the country, rural poverty that could be compared to Third World countries, mass incarceration, environmental destruction, and a list of other ills that should be addressed by the president and Congress. No mention.

The decline of civil rights, along with basic human rights, was avoided by Trump, who apparently thinks that, because he's personally doing alright, the rest of the country should follow suit. Let us not forget that his commerce secretary expressed shock during the government shutdown which withheld pay from some 800,000 federal workers, that they didn't just go to the bank and get a loan until they received their back pay. (GOP candidate Trump said on the campaign trail that Americans make too much money, making the U.S. uncompetitive in the world economy.) Trump didn't mention voter suppression in many states, mostly a benefit to the Republican Party, along with gerrymandering, which also has mostly benefitted the GOP.

The boast that there have been so many jobs created since he took office falls flat when the wage scale of those jobs is revealed. Even if manufacturing companies return to the U.S., their pay scales are much lower than they were when the workers had strong unions. And, so many of the jobs that have been created in the past three decades have been service jobs that are notoriously low paying. All of this contributes to shrinking local economies.

In the past half-century, the military, government jobs at all levels, and education have been job generators for minorities, since the desegregation of the military after World War II. In the rush to privatize everything since then, the source of well-paying jobs has been threatened for minority communities, since the corporations that take control pay less, provide few if any benefits, and are reluctant to provide any pension or significant retirement plan.

In the Trump Administration, those sources of jobs have dried up because of the drive to privatize everything, from the U.S. Postal Service, to education, to the prison-industrial complex, to various social and health programs, anything that can be given to corporations, the friends of the president and those in the top 1 percent of wealth and income. Because health care industry jobs, along with fast food jobs, are the few sources of employment in poorer communities, they are among the lowest paid. Those are the jobs, however, that are seeing the greatest push for raising the pay and, generally, they are supported by unions. Unionization of those jobs (along with the rest of workers) is the way to make them living wage jobs, because a union contract brings them a voice in working conditions, health care, and retirement benefits. The relentless attack on worker rights (human rights) started long before Trump, but he has continued the ruling class efforts with enthusiasm; almost with as much enthusiasm as he has shown for his southern wall that the American people don't want.

The $5.7 billion he wants for his wall would go a long way toward improving housing, rural and urban, across the country. It also could fund improvement in poor city school districts and bring urgent care centers and clinics to those atrociously underserved communities. But no, he has concentrated on the might of America, the “exceptional” nation, the biggest and most powerful military and an economy that is bigger than the rest. He made no mention that the bloated military and “defense” budget is what is strangling the nation with some 800 overseas bases and a budget that is 10 times the military and defense budget of the Russian Federation.

Rather, he is concentrating on building a new nuclear force and expanding the military even further, pushing for a new Cold War with Russia and China, which could become a very hot war in an instant, with all of the possibilities of human or technological error that could trigger an exchange of nuclear bombs and missiles that would signal the end of life as we know it.

Also, he has failed in another area that will be just as devastating as nuclear war: environmental degradation that will result in a planet that is unhabitable for most creatures, including human beings. But he doesn't believe in science, because he apparently believes that his money and gold will allow him to continue to live as he has all his life: privileged and apart from the world of most humans. He and his fellow rich will be subject to the same punishment that he is visiting on the rest of us.

His blindered view of the world is limited by his upbringing as a child of privilege and of lording it over the rest of the world that, if they haven't achieved his level of riches, consists of a “bunch of losers.” In many ways, he has ignored the very real effects of environmental destruction, because he sees regulation of industry as an assault on the moneymaking efforts of Corporate America. Never mind that those regulations are what would have given the nation time to adjust to the need to change the way of life in America. Regulations would have been the way to bringing clean water, air, soil, and food to all Americans, but Trump's goal is to stamp out all regulation so that big business will have a free hand to pollute the land and poison the people and other life.

In his State of the Union speech this week, he mouthed several platitudes and mealy-mouthed slogans, but there was little meat in his words and, because of his pathological lying over the past two years very few could take him at his word. He called for unity, but it rings hollow, because his modus operandi is to split and divide the electorate, through the power of a bully. In this he is a journeyman actor. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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