Curtain Raiser

Beware the Snake Oil Pitch, Colltalers

President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address, in 2009, was about a healthcare proposal that’d cover for at least a few years over 20 million of uninsured Americans, despite fierce opposition. It was also the first time he was called a liar in public.
Tomorrow’s SOTU, however, Trump’s second, is expected to be about at least three debunked lies: that there’s a border invasion; that immigration is our biggest problem; and a national emergency needs to be declared. No one may call him out on that though.
Whether Democrats should, is up to contention. What is not is whether Americans are given the full picture about what it really means to send even more money to turn our borders into war zones, and troops to try to top a foreign government as in Venezuela.
That at this point, in the third year of the Trump administration, we’re cherry picking which of his lies has the most impact on the future shows that these are pretty treacherous times. Whereas Obama was in fact telling the truth, and Obamacare did save lives, the current White House occupant is ready to send more Americans to die abroad, along the most valuable truths about this nation.
Ideals of solidarity among people, of self determination, and specially, the sacred concept of sovereignty, are being gutted by this president. But few see Republicans growing a spine and wrestling their party away from him. Instead, they’ll stand up and applaud.
The word ‘wall’ is also expected to be uttered a few too many times, and so is calls of innocence (the president never wastes a public forum without saying that ‘there’s no collusion’ with Russia). Plus any one out of his 2018 average of 15 daily false claims.
The 35-day, longest shutdown in U.S. history, which wound up costing $11 billion to the economy, ruined the holidays of almost a million public employees, while stiffing thousands of contractors, will also be missing from the teleprompter. Even more unlikely

is that the president will take responsibility for the his failed attempt at strong-arming the country into building his frivolous wall.
It was a cruel stunt, that exposed the realities of most Americans, living by their next paycheck, unable to afford health care, or save for retirement, and all but helpless when crisis strikes. And that’s only considering the minority who has a regular, 9 to 5 job.
More meaningful may be Stacey Adams, a rising Democrat star, who will deliver the party’s response – CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra will give the Spanish-language response. Fresh from a contentious defeat to Brian Kemp, who as an ex-Georgia chief elections officer, did what he could to deny thousands their right to vote, Adams surely has what it takes to a big take down.
Some of the consequences of Trump’s shutdown are even more heartbreaking to grasp. The Oglala Lakota people of South Dakota, for instance. Already battered by complex social issues, Native Americans in general, and the Oglala in particular, were badly hit by the lack of a functioning government. Worse: people forget why they’re so relevant to America, in this age of climate change.
Despite all odds stacked against them, such as prejudice and an unfair justice system, they remain dignified and at the forefront of the Standing Rock movement, which seeks to shut down the environmentally-disastrous Dakota Access Pipeline project. But when they and other tribes marched in Washington, D.C., two weeks ago, such protest message, surprise surprise, got lost by the media.
After elderly chief Nathan Phillips was publicly disrespected by an smug-smiling Catholic brat and his peers, there to protest women’s rights, it was the spoiled kids who got interviewed on prime time, not the warriors risking their lives to save the planet.
Another upsetting news slated for tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s personal monster, from which he’s amassed over $65 billion, that has now a life of its own, and goes around destroying democracies throughout the world.
Like Trump, Brexit, Bolsonaro, Conte, and so many others, we’ve got only ourselves to blame; most of us is among the 2.3 billion worldwide FB users, who carelessly surrendered to it our identifying data, plus some pretty harry intimate secrets, now stored in its servers, in exchange for not feeling disconnected from the world. Increasingly, though, that world is getting far from being real.
But the happiest news marking this busy Feb. 5 is the Chinese New Year of the Pig. To celebrate it there’s no need to be a believer. Besides, people born under the Pig is said to be ‘cheerful, sincere, and brave,’ three characteristics we could all use more today.
It’s time for those still pondering how fast we dove into this swamp of inequality and political dishonesty, to make Obama – but not the Bushes – look like a visionary president, to wake up and grab the bull by its horns. That is, to stand up and point the finger at the president. If Congress and the Supreme Court won’t do it, and the House needs a hand, then it’s up to us, Americans, to do it.
No, we won’t build any wall, or spend another cent on ‘border security;’ we no longer will split up families, or chase immigrants and asylum seekers to death; no, there won’t be any ‘national emergency,’ or invasion of Venezuela for its oil, for that matter.
We have now powerful allies, elected to lead us into a radical change of priorities, one that puts people and their needs first, and asserts our resolve into making America better than it ever was, and yes, the wealthy and corporations will have to pitch in. We won’t hear that tomorrow night, so we must proclaim it to the world: Trump doesn’t speak for us, and his days are counted. Cheers. WC


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