Monday, February 25, 2019


Walter Sobchak: Were you listening to The Dude's story, Donny?
The Dude: Walter...
Donny : What?
Walter: Were you listening to The Dude's story?
Donny: I was bowling.
Walter: So you have no frame of reference here, Donny. You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know…
The Dude: Walter! Walter! What's the point, man?
Walter: There's no reason – here's my point, Dude – there's no fucking reason why these two…
Donny: Yeah, Walter, what's your point?
-- The Big Lewbowski, 1998

I have no idea.

I have no idea what you're talking about.

No idea.

I logged into social media a few days back to discover hundreds of responses to a comment I’d made the previous night.

The vast majority of those comments began with, “I have no idea…” or words to that effect.

It was there that I began to hear Walter Sobchak raging inside my head.

I have no idea what you could be talking about.

Shut the fuck up up, Donny!

The humor palled fairly quickly, however.

No idea. I have no idea. I don’t know what’s going on. I just got here and I missed the whole thing. So I have no idea.

However, I feel compelled to respond anyway.

Yes, that’s right, I have no idea what going on but instead of first looking for context so that I might discover for myself what you’re talking about, I’m just going to wade right on in.

This is the age we live in. From climate change to politics to vaccination to whatever the subject of the moment. This is the age we live in. All the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, all of us shouting our opinion into the void, recorded every minute of every day, but it’s too much effort to look for context, do a little digging, maybe see what somebody is talking about before announcing publicly that you have no idea what’s going on – but you feel compelled to comment anyway.

I have no idea, so I’ll need you to fill me in right after I tell you why you’re wrong!

That’s where the problem begins, that intellectual laziness, that expectation of being spoon-fed context that you won’t listen to anyway. 

Here’s what I said:

Pretty terrible, right?

Sure. There I am, attacking poor liberals.

Just terrible. If you read it in isolation.

If you see something and get instantly mad because being insulted is your default setting and you don’t bother to look any further.

Sure. Pretty terrible.

But, see, my rather blunt admonishment was made specifically in the context of a conversation that was then happening between myself and regular readers on my Twitter timeline.

Let me repeat that for the late arrivals: The comment was part of a larger conversation between myself and several hundred people.

That conversation was about the coming 2020 elections and my comment was made, again, specifically in response to those self-declared liberals who were shouting that the sky was falling, that Trump would declare another national emergency and cancel the elections and so there was no point in voting, no point in fighting, no point in turning out. Woe! Woe!

That sort of defeatism tends to give rise in me the impetus to smack people hard across the face. Slap! Slap! Maybe that’s the wrong impulse and maybe it isn’t. Nevertheless, that’s where my comment came from. Snap out of it! We’re not beaten yet! Slap! Slap!

That’s the context. You had to be there.

Now, Twitter limits each tweet to 280 characters. But even if that limit didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t feel any compulsion whatsoever to caveat every comment I make with a detailed summary of everything that occurred previously to prompt it.

If you show up late for the party, then look around before wading in.

If you want to know why I made a comment, then look.

If you want to know why anybody made a particular comment, then look.

And you should want to know. You shouldn’t expect to be fed out of an eyedropper like a baby bunny. It’s social media, by definition the context is freely available.

All you have to do is look.

On my social media feeds, this intellectual laziness is a minor irritation, but it’s indicative of a much larger problem.

Given that I was bullied mercilessly throughout school and called a loser every day, that last one is particularly amusing, ironically speaking. But I digress.

Do you see it?

The common denominator?

The implication is that because they didn’t personally see something, it must therefore not be true.

Who does that remind you of? Think on all those times there was a hate crime or a sexual assault or something terrible happened and the denials of those who didn’t personally witness it and thus loudly questioned if the crime even happened. I don’t know anybody that was raped. I don’t know anybody who was assaulted because of their race or gender identity. I don’t believe it ever happens. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

It never even occurred to the above commenters that they might not be seeing everything, or that my viewpoint might be different from their own, or that given my social media footprint is several orders of magnitude larger than theirs my data sampling volume might be vastly greater as well.

It never occurred to any of them to look beyond their own viewpoint.

Who does that remind you of?

Then there’s this guy.

Buck up, I said. Or see yourself out. Slap! Slap!

That made him mad. Belligerent. How dare you tell me to buck up or get out? How dare you!

He didn’t bother to look at the context of my comment.

He didn’t bother to see who it might have been directed at.

Instead, he arrived late, had no idea what was going on, and was determined to take personally a comment not aimed at him, determined to be insulted, determined to interpret “see yourself out” as some sort of missive to leave the country instead to just depart my social media timeline. All of these things would have been clear, if he’d only looked. But he didn’t. Instead, he got mad. Because mad is his default setting. Pay me! he demanded, and I’ll move. I’ll just wait here for you to live up to this strawman fallacy I’ve created by not bothering to look for any context at all.

Let’s you and me fight.


Folks, you don’t need to wrestle with every belligerent who happens along.

You’re not required to fight people, just because they want to fight.

You’re not required to feed the mob out of an eyedropper, just because some loudmouth demands it.

They throw down the gauntlet, I’ll wait here while you walk your walk! Great. I accept your terms. By all means, wait, right there. Wait until the stars burn out. Because I’m not required to live up to the expectations of every random belligerent from the internet.

You come at me with that attitude, you go out the airlock. Feel free to wait outside.

And that’s what happened to this guy, he got himself blocked.

Twitter, for some reason, continued to show me his comments for a while afterward, though he couldn’t see mine.

And that made him mad.

Take a look:


See how entitled this guy is?

He thinks that people are obligated to listen to him and he’s damned put out when they won’t.

This is a guy, a supposed “progressive,” who advocates shooting down the government “firing squad style.”

He didn’t bother to look for context. He didn’t need any. He just charged in, guns hot, demanding to be heard even though he has no idea what’s going on, demanding a fight, threatening violence.

Tell me, how is that different from the ideology he supposedly stands against?

How? Go on, take you time. Compare and contrast. Don’t forget the guns.

Or how about this guy?

Hey, Dickwad!

Charming. His bio says he’s a “progressive living in the backward state of Idaho” and that he very much dislikes the GOP. His timeline suggests he’s a Vietnam Era veteran. And yet, here he is, hey Dickwad!

Who does he sound like?

He wades into my timeline like it’s a rice paddy, guns blazing, determined to be insulted, looking for a fight, doesn’t bother to check for the context of my comment, doesn’t bother to first determine who he might be talking to, makes a number of very wrong assumptions, and then proceeds to act exactly like the very people he claims to hate.

Again, tell me how is this any different from Donald Trump or those in the red hats who support him?

These last two examples are symptoms of the larger problem.

Do you see it?

Do you see it? Look closely. Leave aside the insults and the personal attacks. Don't get emotional. Turn off your reflexive need to be insulted. Look at these comments dispassionately.

Do you see the common thread?

I look at the profiles.

I look at their Twitter timelines and their Facebook pages.

They have a handful of followers. They interact with a handful of people. They follow a handful of accounts carefully selected to show them only what they want to see.

I don’t see it, so it must not have happened.

Folks, there is an enormous difference between blocking out those belligerents who are just looking for a fight and deliberately limiting your viewpoint to information that only shows you what you want to hear. That’s bad enough at the personal level, scale it up and you might find your nation invading another looking for weapons of mass destruction that don’t actually exist.

Now, of course, we all limit our viewpoints in some way, me included. But as a former intelligence officer, I was trained to recognize my own bias and to look beyond it. This is no different from science – it is science – where you deliberately seek to challenge your assumptions and viewpoints. That doesn’t mean you have to entertain discredited theories or give any respect to junk science and woowoo. But critical thinking requires you to continuously test your worldview.

Unfortunately, social media reinforces the human tendency to form assumptions based on incomplete data and then become vested in that faulty position no matter what. Here’s a rather pointed example:

He begins by admitting that he doesn’t understand the situation.

He could have looked for context. In the time it took him to type his first demand for information, he could have found that information in detail. All he had to do was look. Instead, he demanded to be spoon fed, like a baby bunny. And I could have told him anything, I could have shined him on, how would he know if I was telling the truth if he didn't go look? But he really wasn’t interested in finding out. He just wanted to fight. He’d already made up his mind. He’d already decided who I was.

He didn’t need to know anything else and he wasn’t interested in finding out.

He’d already decided who I was – even though he admitted right up front that he had no idea whatsoever who I was or what I was talking about.

By the time he showed up, I’d fielded hundreds of similar responses and I was already thinking that I might turn them into this article. So, in the spirit of the topic, I went looking for more information. Despite his belligerent self-introduction, I wondered if he might be amenable to reason? So I asked him if he had even considered looking for context.

Instead, he not only doubled down, he created a strawman right on the spot and stapled my face to it.

That explains it all, he said.

And it surely does. It does. And that’s the problem, right there.

That’s the larger problem with the Information Age itself.

We’ve been given the tools and access to god-like awareness, but not the training or the intellect or the self-discipline to manage it.

This, this right here, is the problem with America.

On my timeline, aimed at me, well, it’s just an annoyance. One easily dealt with. But out in the real world this tendency to assumption without data, without context, without intellectual curiosity, and a refusal to admit and correct error, has very real consequences. See the last election, see the rise of conspiracy theory treated as fact, see the increasing divide and those who can be easily convinced to daily act against their own best interest, et al.

Or see that comment I made up above about the invasion of Iraq. We killed half a million people, or more. I know, I was there.

Do you see it?

Do you see the common thread running through all of these responses? The lack of intellectual curiosity? The confidence of their assumptions, unaware of the incompleteness of their worldview?

Do you see it?

Who does that remind you of?

All of the responses in this essay are from self-declared progressive, liberals, Democrats, people on the left of the political divide.

None of them are conservatives, no Republicans, no libertarians, no rightwing independents. Only liberals.

Do you see it?

I mean, you do see it, don't you?

No intellectual curiosity.

No attempt to find out the larger picture or to see context beyond reflexive anger at some perceived insult.

Assumptions treated as fact.

Refusal to acknowledge mistakes.

Personal attacks.

You do see it, don’t you?

The similarity?

The same exact irrational rage.

The same exact lack of critical thought.

The same willingness to gleefully attack, throw personal insults, and willfully engage in faulty reasoning?

Tell me who these progressives remind you of?

Yes, that’s right. This is how Donald Trump himself views information and arrives at his own defective worldview.

Trump acts on "gut feeling" instead of seeking fact, instead of looking for context, instead of reading intelligence reports that conflict with his viewpoint, instead of consulting experts. He only watches infotainment that confirms his views – views that he arrived at via instinct instead of fact. You daily see his lack of mental discipline and self-control, his impulse to insults and personal attacks. He’s not ashamed of it, just the opposite. He considered it a strength. So do his supporters.

See it?

What’s that?

Oh. Right. Of course.

But, but, I hear you protest. These people, these horrible examples you’ve shown us, why they can’t be liberals! They can’t be progressives! No! They’re bad actors. Fake news! Trolls! Bots! They’re not true “resistors!” Fake! Fake! I won’t believe it.

No true Scotsman, right?

And why?

Well, because nobody I know, no liberals I know, no progressive on my Twitter timeline or on my Facebook wall, act like that!

So, it didn’t happen.


It didn’t happen.

Except, of course, it did. You just didn't look.

I received hundreds of responses.

So I had plenty of samples to chose from when I started writing this article. And I made sure to check each one. They’re all real. Real people. Not bots. Not fakes. Real people who claim to be progressives, liberals, moderates, “resistors” vehemently opposed to Trump. Oh, sure, there were plenty of bots too, plenty of agents provocateur. I don’t deny it. But the real liberals were perfectly willing to go along – because the shit-stirrers were telling them exactly what they wanted to hear.

What are you talking about?

I don’t see it!

Not anybody I know!

Walter! Walter, what’s the point, man?

Don’t take my word for it, go look for yourselves. My Twitter timeline is public.

Just like Trump voters, for them that unfocused rage isn't a means to an end, but rather it's the whole point.

Hell, they were mad at me, they didn't even know why or even care to find out. The rage was enough.

And the assumption was enough to trigger the rage.

You have to do better than this.

Anger is one thing, mindless rage another.

It’s okay to be angry at this world we live in, at the injustice and foolishness and the self-destruction. Hell, I’m angry too. If you look around, you can’t help but be angry.

Anger can give you focus and drive you forward to right that injustice, to face down the fools, to build a decent future.

If we weren’t angry, nothing would ever get better.

But you have to have more than just anger.

Without reason, without intellectual curiosity, without looking beyond your own bubble, anger is just rage.

And rage only destroys.

Rage makes you no different than those you rage against.

Hillary Clinton once said of Trump, "A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons."

Like her. Hate her. It doesn’t matter. If nothing else, these last two years have daily proven the wisdom of Clinton’s words.

But that caution applies to a much larger context as well.

Those you can bait with a tweet, who lack intellectual curiosity and a willingness to always look for meaning, who are driven by rage instead of intellect, by conspiracy instead of fact, who see enemies at every turn and who rush heedless into battle, well, those are not people who should be deciding our future either – and their political ideology, whether it be left or right, is irrelevant.

You have to do better than this.

We have to do better than this.

We have been given the tools and god-like awareness, we must develop the discipline to use this power wisely.

We owe it to the future. To our children. To our country and to the world.

If you want a better nation, you have to be better citizens.

This is where it starts.

We’re not in an information age anymore. We’re in the Information Management Age
-- Chris Hardwick, writer, actor, humorist, social commenter

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Never Say Never

You see, idealism detached from action is just a dream. But idealism allied with pragmatism, with rolling up your sleeves and making the world bend a bit, is very exciting. It’s very real. It’s very strong.
-- Bono

He’s in.

It’s not exactly a surprise.

He’s been hinting at it for a while.

So, earlier this week when Bernie Sanders announced that he’s running for president in 2020, well, I wasn’t exactly caught unawares.

Huzzah! shouted Sander’s supporters! Bernie or bust!

Motherfucker! swore everybody else. Not this asshole again!

And the fight was joined.

I was lucky. Sort of. I take Tuesdays off to spend with my wife and so I was mostly away from social media for Announcement Day and thus didn’t have to watch the inevitable screaming shitfest that began the moment Sanders declared his intention.

I came home to find my inbox overflowing like a ripe Port-O-Pottie.

That trend has continued. This morning I quit reading at a hundred emails asking what I thought.

What are you gonna to do, Jim? What are you going to do?

Will you vote for Bernie? Will you vote against him? What are you going to do?

What am I going to do?

Same as I always do. Watch. Listen. Question. Acquire information. Analyze.

And then act when the times comes.

But this isn’t the time, not yet.

Will I vote for Bernie?

Will I vote against Bernie?

We’re getting far, far ahead of ourselves here.

I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t like Bernie Sanders.


Why not.

I don’t like him. I don’t like how he looks. He’s like some old hippy refugee from the 60s, probably reeks of Werther’s Originals and burning rope. I don’t like his stupid hair. I don’t like his snotty New England accent. I don’t like…


What’s that?

Those aren’t valid dislikes? Those are just personal attacks on his appearance? Those are strawmen I just made up? My complaints have nothing to do with his actual positions or platform? I’m not being rational?

Well, yes. You’re absolutely correct.


So what?

Why should Bernie get any special treatment? It was okay to hate “Shillary” for her shrill Hillary voice, for her appearance, for her pantsuits, for her age, for the person she presumably was back in the 60’s, wasn’t it?

I mean, wasn’t it?


No. Huh. Well, okay, fine. Then I hate him because I don’t think he’s authentic enough. Yes, that’s right. He’s not authentically an old white Jewish socialist. He doesn’t really believe in free medicine for all, his promise of free college is eyewash, it’s just a con to get my vo…

You again?

Yes, that’s what I said. Authenticity. Bernie ain’t got no authenticity, man. I mean, we can determine Kamala Harris’s authenticity as a woman of color from her awkward use of hot sauce, right? That’s fair, isn’t it? Why should Bernie get a pass? I wanna see this guy eat some potato salad.

What do you mean that’s silly?

Okay, geez. Fine. Fine.

Fine. I hate Bernie because he’s too …

For the love of … what now?

How much longer am I going to do this?

Well, that depends on how much more of this silliness it takes for me to make my point.  I mean we’ve got Biden, Booker, Beto, Buttigeg, and maybe Bloomberg – and that’s just the b’s. I haven’t even gotten to all the reasons why my social media feed hates Castro, Delany, Gabbard Gillibrand, Klobuchar, and, of course, Warren.

And if you really want to have fun, there’s Oprah’s spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson.

I mean, I could probably do this all day.

But, sure, I’ll stop.

Folks, we’re year and half out. Take a breath.

Sincerely? I admit that I’m not a huge fan of Sanders.

So what? I don’t particularly hate him, but there are all kinds of things about him that bug me. I’m not going to go into detail on that because, at the moment – because at the moment – it’s irrelevant. Sanders has declared his intention to run, that’s it. He’s putting together his campaign. He’s raising money. But he’s just another politician in a field of similar hopefuls. All those candidates who’ve declared their intention to run, from Kamala Harris to Elizabeth Warren to Joe Biden to, hell, Howard Schultz, all of them have things I don’t like -- some have things I really don’t like and it’s got nothing to do with appearance or their facility with condiments. And some things I might like, depending.

I’m not excited, or enraged, over any of them.


What I am, is glad to see a huge crop of possible candidates in opposition to the current nightmare.

I’m happy to see a wide selection, something for everybody, lots of ideas, and I’d like to see more.

If one of them happens to be Bernie Sanders, that’s fine with me.

No candidate for office is perfect. Not one.

I don’t support any of them at the moment.

I don’t prefer any of them. I am glad they’re here. Even Howard Schultz.

But we are a long ways out from me endorsing any of them.

I want to know more.

I want to know a lot more.

Some of these people have run before. So what? That means nothing.

No. Stop. I’m not even vaguely interested in refighting The Bernie Hillary Battle of 2016.

Try to relight that fight and I’ll either ignore you or toss you out the airlock depending on how I’m feeling.

Every candidate reinvents themselves every new time that they run. I don’t care (mostly) who they were back in the day, or what they campaigned on previously. I want to know who they are now. Who they expect to be in the future. I want to see how the campaign shapes them, how they respond to criticism, how they respond to Trump. Where I do think the past matters is if they’ll admit their past mistakes, up front, without excuse, and tell us how they’ve changed and what they’ve learned. I want to see how ideas – yes, even Bernie’s socialism, for example – from other candidates change and modify their own positions. I want to know where their money comes from – they have to have money, that’s how America works at the moment. So I want to know where it comes from and what those who provide it expect in return. I want to know where they stand on the issues. I want to know who they’ll pick for their cabinet, their Supreme Court Justices, their advisors, their confidants. I want to know what their priorities are. I want to know if they’ll fight for the things I believe in, even if it means their ruin.

I want to see how they treat each other.

And I especially want to see how they treat us. You and me, Citizen.

My loyalty is to the Republic, not to any politician or political ideology.

I don’t know enough yet.

And I wager you don’t either.

Watch. Listen. Acquire information. Analyze. Act at the appropriate moment, armed with as much knowledge and verifiable fact and reasoned consideration as is possible in that moment, for the Republic, for the good of the nation, as best we are able.

Here’s what it comes down to: I don’t yet know who any of these people really are this time.

I don’t. Not yet.

But I for goddamned sure know who Donald Trump is.

Would I vote for Bernie Sanders?

If he’s the only viable alternative to Trump? You bet I would.

If the next year shakes out, water flows under the bridge and Bernie is not only the survivor but he’s the number one candidate in opposition to Trump, then I will support and vote for him without reservation.

Just as I did Hillary Clinton – someone else I didn’t particularly like.


Oh just stop. Like is irrelevant. I don’t have to like somebody to vote for them. I spent most of my military career working for leaders who I didn’t much like. They were competent (most of them anyway), experienced, and out front. They got the job done. But I wouldn’t care to have a beer with most of them. We weren’t friends and that’s perfectly fine.

I’m not looking for a friend or somebody to have a drink with. I’ve got plenty of friends.

What I’m looking for is a leader to take this country into the future.

Those are in short supply.

Citizen, your duty to the Republic has nothing to do with who you like.

It’s a long way to the primaries.

Democracy is messy, loud, and fractious. That’s how it supposed to work, it was designed that way on purpose. Your job as a citizen right now is to look, listen, question, acquire information, analyze.

If you’ve already made a decision, picked a candidate and don’t intend to budge no matter what, you’re a dogmatic fool and you risk all of our futures.

It’s a long way to the election. Between now and then I’ll opine, I’ll cajole, I’ll shout, I’ll fight, I’ll curse, I’ll demand answers, and I’ll likely do my damnedest to convince you of whoever my favorite is whenever he or she emerges. Because that’s what primaries are for.

But, in the end, when that primary election is over, then I will support whoever stands in opposition to Donald Trump.

If that’s Bernie Sanders, if Bernie Sanders is the Democratic Party Candidate, then it’s Bernie Sanders and I’ll be there. I will.

But, if it’s Kamala Harris, then that’s where I’ll be. All the way.

If it’s Joe Biden, then I’ll be there.

If it is Oprah’s goddamned Fortune Teller, well, then I’ll be there.

I expect the same of you in return.

No more. No less.

Idealism loses to pragmatism when it comes to winning elections.
-- Danny Strong, actor, writer, director.

Sunday, February 17, 2019


I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States
-- Oath of Office, President of the United States
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
-- Amendment I, Constitution of the United States of America.
Here we are.

Another day in America.

Another day that begins with Trump raging like a madman on social media – and then departing for another round of golf.

Another day when Trump again declares his fellow Americans and American institutions to be enemies of the people.

This has become our norm. Just another day in America.

Just another day when Donald Trump wipes his ass with the Constitution.

Look at that.

No, I mean it. Look at that.

You don’t even have to look carefully, it’s right out in open.


Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC! Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real Collusion!

Now, of course, when you protest, Trump himself says that he doesn't mean all the Press, just those he deems to be "fake news" and the implication is that Trump himself should be the sole arbiter of what constitutes truth.

The President of the United States of America is quite literally declaring this morning, again, that the oath he swore means nothing to him.

The President of the United States is literally saying that he considers the fundamental institutions of liberty and democracy to be a roadblock to his personal power and ambition -- which, of course, they are, exactly as they were designed to be – but Trump considers this to be a defect instead of the fundamental institution of our Republic.

By design, the President’s power is supposed to be restricted.

That’s what the presidential oath of office directly implies, that’s why it requires the office holder to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and not a political ideology, or the government, or even the country.

The fact that Trump does not understand this, is in point of fact utterly incapable of understanding this, is evident in every word he speaks and every action he takes from his assertion that the Press is the enemy of the people to his declaration of a national emergency to override congress and thus the will of those self same people.

When it comes to Speech and to the Press, the Constitution is quite specific: “…or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

There is no caveat on those rights, no qualifier, no restriction.

In point of fact, the Press is the only private enterprise whose rights are specifically enumerated in the Constitution. No qualification was placed on that freedom, none, not even the minimum caveat “being necessary to the security of a free State” as was placed upon the oh-so-sacred Second Amendment.

Nor was any such qualifier leveraged upon a citizen’s freedom of speech.

This is because the Press is the watchdog of liberty and the enemy of tyrants.

Now, an argument can certainly be made that the Press as an institution does not always, or perhaps not often, live up to that responsibility.

But the Press is not required to.

Again, the Constitution places no qualification or restriction upon the right. None.

The Press is free to publish articles at the highest levels of journalistic integrity or to print the alleged sexual escapades of popular entertainers. The Press is a private enterprise, a business – often (hopefully, if you work there) for profit – and so I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader which type of story actually sells more newspapers or garners a higher number of viewers on TV and the Internet. Fox News is popular with the right, because it tells conservatives what they want to hear. It’s the same everywhere else. The National Enquirer publishes stories of space alien babies, claims Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered by a hooker, or names Hillary Clinton’s Secret Lesbian Lovers, because that’s what Americans want to read. Sex sells. Violence sells. Conspiracy sells. This is less a condemnation of the Press, and more a statement on human nature. Alex Jones isn’t popular because he’s talented or attractive or sane, he’s popular because he entertains the lunatic fringe – which isn’t so far out on the fringe any more. Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, these people aren’t “journalists” in any professional sense, but the Constitution doesn’t require any particular credentials to call yourself such.

Because the Press is a private enterprise, for profit, we get the Press that we want.

We get the the Press that sells.

We get the Press we deserve -- just like government.

The Framers, the men who wrote the Constitution, they knew this.

The Press was no different in their day and in fact it was even more lurid, more prone to titillation and hyperbole, and more free of fact than it is nowadays. And yet – and yet – they granted the Press unqualified freedom, the only such institution called out and given enumerated rights in the Constitution.

This is also true, the unrestricted part anyway, of Freedom of Speech.

Because despite the many drawbacks of a for-profit press and an unruly and mouthy population, liberty cannot exist without such unrestricted freedoms.


What’s that?

Oh. I see. You have a problem with the qualifier.

Those rights are not “unrestricted,” you say? You can’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater, for example. Our rights, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, these rights are not unrestricted.

This is true.

But it’s also wrong.

See, you can shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater (or in a more modern example, “gun!”). You can. But you’re responsible – at least in part – for what happens next. We have laws prohibiting the incitement of public panic (called “Inducing Panic Laws”). Conversely if there actually is a fire, or a gun, and you don’t sound the alarm, you can be held liable for failure to warn people. Now, Failure To Warn in a case like this is not particularly common, it’s more for cases involving large companies with defective or harmful products, but does happen at the personal level and is likely to increase (see cases involving mass shootings where people knew or had reason to suspect the shooter’s intent prior to the act. Particularly in school shootings involving teen perpetrators).

Likewise, the Press can be held accountable for publishing deliberately malicious information.

In fact, there’s an entire branch of law dedicated to such, and ironically it involves a common target of Trump’s ire: The New York Times.

At the height of the Civil Rights era, The New York Times published an article – a full-page advertisement really, paid for by The Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Freedom In The South. The Public Safety Commissioner of Montgomery, Alabama, one L. B. Sullivan, was incensed by what he called called inaccuracies – what Trump would today call “Fake News” – and he took it personally. He demanded the Times print a retraction.

The Times refused.

The Governor of Alabama then demanded a retraction and this time the Times complied, citing new information and that the intention hadn’t been to defame Alabama the state.

Sullivan was not mollified. He felt his character had been libeled and he sued in Alabama state court.

Unsurprisingly, for the time, he won.

He was awarded $500,000 by the Alabama state trial court and the Alabama Supreme Court declared “The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not protect libelous publications.”

So the New York Times appealed the case to the US Supreme Court.

In 1964, the Supreme Court of the United States decided New York Times Co. v. Sullivan in favor of the New York Times unanimously

Justice William J. Brennan, writing the Court’s opinion, cited a previous case:

Mr. Justice Brandeis, in his concurring opinion in Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 375-376, gave the principle its classic formulation:

Those who won our independence believed . . . that public discussion is a political duty, and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government. They recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies, and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones. Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced by law -- the argument of force in its worst form. Recognizing the occasional tyrannies of governing majorities, they amended the Constitution so that free speech and assembly should be guaranteed.

Thus, we consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.

New York Times Co. v. Sullivan is a landmark.

The Supreme Court established the Actual Malice Standard, it is one of the key decisions guaranteeing Freedom of the Press, and was made specifically to ensure that public officials could not use the courts to stifle freedom of speech or to suppress political criticism.

Without this protection, the South could have prevented the Press from reporting on police brutality and government abuses during the Civil Rights Movement. Without this protection, Nixon could have used the courts to suppress reports of his chicanery as libelous to himself.  Reagan could have tried to hide the Iran-Contra Affair for the same reason. Or Bill Clinton could have tried to sue the Press to hide his affair.

The press is not free to engage in willful libel or malice.

But there is a significant difference between libel and a “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”

That, that right there, is what the President of the United States swears an oath to preserve, protect and defend. That.

The Constitution places no qualification on Freedom of Speech or Freedom of the Press. With great, great care and deliberation, the Court does.

This is the Judicial Branch’s Constitutional duty. Not the Executive’s.

It is not within the President’s power to decide what constitutes Freedom of Speech or Freedom of the Press.

It is not within the President’s power to decide truth for the American people.

Nor is it within the President’s power to declare the fundamental institutions of our Republic as enemies of the people.

The President is sworn to uphold the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court: I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

That is the limit of his power.


No more.

No less.

The Constitution was not written to place restrictions upon liberty.

The Constitution was very specifically written to place restrictions upon the President.

The very fact that Donald Trump does not, will not, can not, acknowledge this makes him fundamentally unqualified for the office.

It is much easier to pull down a government, in such a conjuncture of affairs as we have seen, than to build up, at such a season as the present.
John Adams, letter to James Warren, 1787

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

State of Confusion

Near as I can figure, the message last night was: America won WWII

So, that's good. Huzzah. I was wondering how that whole thing turned out.

But I’m getting ahead ofmyself.

Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans:

And right out of the box, he leads off with an insult.

What’s that?

What insult?

Well, what did you think that was? It’s traditional for the President to congratulate the new Speaker on their election. It’s customary to wait for the new Speaker to introduce the President. Trump did neither.  He just started talking, while Mike Pence smirked. Pelosi was obviously expecting it and remained unperturbed.

But if ever there was a metaphor for this boorish Chud, there it was.

We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential. As we begin a new Congress, I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans.

I stand ready to work with you. Now that I’ve led off with a slight, I’m ready to work with you.

    Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as two parties but as one Nation.

    The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is the agenda of the American people.

    Neither a Republican or Democrat agenda (because he can never bring himself to say Democratic).

    An agenda of the American people forsooth.

    Which just happens to look exactly like the Republican agenda. Shocking coincidence!

    Many of us campaigned on the same core promises: to defend American jobs and demand fair trade for American workers; to rebuild and revitalize our Nation's infrastructure; to reduce the price of healthcare and prescription drugs; to create an immigration system that is safe, lawful, modern and secure; and to pursue a foreign policy that puts America's interests first.

    You know, it’s funny.

    You read the transcript in your own voice. In your own speech patterns. It flows along in your head.

    It’s completely different to hear Trump say it.

    It’s painful. The halting speech patterns. The strange emphasis on random words. The over exaggeration of odd syllables. The periodic pauses while his 8-bit brain catches up with his 16-bit mouth, or he tries to read something off the teleprompter. The stumbling over the unfamiliar words and ideas.

    Many of Us camPAIGNed on the … same core “Promises” to DEfend AMERICAN joBs and demanD … fair … TRaDah for

    He talks like he tweets.

    There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage to seize it. Victory is not winning for our party. Victory is winning for our country.

    Everybody drink!

    Victory is not winning for our party. Victory is winning for our country.

    And, again, it’s just a coincidence that “winning” is defined as his party and that he calls the opposition a bunch of losers.

    Totally a coincidence.

    This year, America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of America's mission, and the power of American pride.

    Ratification of the Constitution?

    Emancipation Proclamation?

    The Nineteenth Amendment?

    The Civil Rights Act?

    What could it be? These anniversaries that show the majesty – the majesty, no less – of America’s mission and the power of American pride.


    Back up. We have a mission? What’s our mission? What’s America’s mission?

    What is the power of American Pride? What are we proud of?


    Well, I guess we need to see the examples and find out.

    In June, we mark 75 years since the start of what General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the Great Crusade -- the Allied liberation of Europe in World War II. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the sky, and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea, to save our civilization from tyranny. Here with us tonight are three of those heroes: Private First Class Joseph Reilly, Staff Sergeant Irving Locker, and Sergeant Herman Zeitchik. Gentlemen, we salute you.


    So, seventy-five years ago America did a thing. Huge effort. Lot of people turned out, lot of people sacrificed. A lot died. World War II. D-Day. Sure. That was a big deal. It was, I’m not running it down. I spent all of my life in the military. I’ve walked the beaches at Normandy, walked the American graveyard there. I’m not dismissing the effort and the sacrifices of those people all those years ago.

    But … what does it have to do with the state of our union now?

    Don’t get me wrong here, it’s great that they invited those old veterans to the show, but what does that have to do with the state of our union today?

    Trump didn’t have anything to do with D-Day. His family sat it out, same as every other war America has been involved in. And the only Nazis I’ve seen around here lately are are literally wearing MAGA hats and spray on hair.

    So, I’ll ask again, what does this have to do with the state of our union? That’s what the speech was supposed to be about, right?

    More: What does this have to do with this supposed “mission” our country has been assigned.

    That’s what he was talking about, America’s mission.


    In 2019, we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the moon. Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag: Buzz Aldrin. This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets.

    Fifty years ago.

    Fifty years since America went to the moon and then came home and quit. Crapped out.

    And there’s Buzz Aldrin, American Hero, in some cartoon necktie that’s about six inches short. And again, that’s great. Glad he got invited. But what does that have to do with the state of our union today?

    It’s been half a century since a human being has left low earth orbit and there’s some staggering irony here.

    That landing, that moment when Armstrong and Aldrin set that fragile tinker-toy of a moon lander down in Mare Tranquillitatis, well, folks, that landing, that great moment in American history was due in no small part to … illegal aliens.

    And not just any illegal aliens, but Nazis.

    Operation Paperclip, 1600 German scientists, engineers – including the father of the American manned space program, Werner von Braun – were taken from Germany in the aftermath of World War II and brought secretly to the United States.

    They didn’t come here legally.

    In fact, it was a real problem. And so a number of those illegal immigrants were made legal via some State Department sleight of hand by smuggling them across the US border into Mexico, then granting them US residency via the US consulate in Juarez, and then driving them back across the border into the United States via a Port of Entry with their newly minted green cards.

    That’s who got us to the moon.


    Illegal Immigrant Nazis.

    And since that day when human beings first set foot upon the moon, Republicans have retreated steadily from the very science that got Armstrong and Aldrin there the first place. Today conservatives are the ideology of religious fanaticism. Trump himself is the very epitome of science denial, of proud ignorance writ large.

    And if that wasn’t enough, there’s this: “This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets.”

    If that happens – if that happens – it’ll be through no agency of Donald Trump or Republicans, or Democrats for that matter.

    It’s not American “pride” that powers the new rockets, it’s the drive and vision of Elon Musk, another immigrant.

    And so I must ask yet again, what does this have to do with America’s alleged “mission?”

    In the 20th century, America saved freedom, transformed science, and redefined the middle class standard of living for the entire world to see. Now, we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure, and we must create a new standard of living for the 21st century. An amazing quality of life for all of our citizens is within our reach.

    Was the theme of the speech supposed to be irony?

    All those things, freedom, science, middle class standards of living, those are the very things Trump has been hell bent on dismantling.

    We can make our communities safer,

    Safer for … who?

    our families stronger,

    Define “families.”

    Define “stronger.”

    our culture richer,

    Describe “our” culture.

    Describe what you mean by “richer.”

    our faith deeper,

    There it is again. Our.

    “Our” faith?

    When you say “our,” who do you mean.

    Define our faith. What “faith” are we talking about? Faith in what? Are we talking about God? Which God? Whose God. Which faith? Or are we talking about something else? And why is it the business of government to make “our faith deeper?” Or our culture richer? Or to measure the supposed strength of our families?

    and our middle class bigger and more prosperous than ever before.

    But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution -- and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.

    You first.

    This guy has no more awareness of his own actions than a dog licking its own asshole in public.

    We we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution.

    Goddamn. I was right. The theme is irony.

    Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America's future. The decision is ours to make.

    We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction.

    It’s like whoever wrote this had never even heard of Donald Trump.

    Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.

    If by “greatness” he means “whiskey,” well, we’re on the same page at last.

    Over the last 2 years, my Administration has moved with urgency and historic speed to confront problems neglected by leaders of both parties over many decades.

    In just over 2 years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before. We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs -- something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.

    Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades, and growing for blue collar workers, who I promised to fight for, faster than anyone else. Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps. The United States economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world. Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low. More people are working now than at any time in our history --- 157 million.

    We passed a massive tax cut for working families and doubled the child tax credit.

    We virtually ended the estate, or death, tax on small businesses, ranches, and family farms.

    We eliminated the very unpopular Obamacare individual mandate penalty -- and to give critically ill patients access to life-saving cures, we passed right to try.

    My Administration has cut more regulations in a short time than any other administration during its entire tenure. Companies are coming back to our country in large numbers thanks to historic reductions in taxes and regulations.

    We have unleashed a revolution in American energy -- the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world. And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.

    After 24 months of rapid progress, our economy is the envy of the world, our military is the most powerful on earth, and America is winning each and every day. Members of Congress: the State of our Union is strong. Our country is vibrant and our economy is thriving like never before.

    On Friday, it was announced that we added another 304,000 jobs last month alone -- almost double what was expected. An economic miracle is taking place in the United States -- and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations.

    He’s essentially recapping his Twitter feed for the last six months.

    And you’ll note that just like his Tweets, just like his campaign rallies, he provides no references, no evidence, no facts to back up his statements.

    If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn't work that way!


    I had to play that back during the speech. Because I could not believe that he said it. I thought I heard it wrong.

    No peace.

    No government.

    Not if you keep investigating me.

    And Republicans applauded him. The people who describe themselves as the Law and Order Party, as “Constitutional Conservatives,” applauded him.

    Irony, indeed.

    We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.

    And by “united” he means “don’t investigate me.” Don’t question me. Fall in line.

    In the last two weeks, Donald Trump himself has personally attacked Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr, the FBI, The US Intelligence Community, Senator Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, declared Democrats the enemies of America who want to murder babies and have more crime, Senator Blumenthal, Howard Schultz, non-Christians, the American News Media, and, of course, Hillary Clinton.

    Tell me again, about unity.

    This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate -- some after years of waiting. The Senate has failed to act on these nominations, which is unfair to the nominees and to our country.

    I am glad to see him finally going after Mitch McConnell’s obstructionism…

    Now is the time for bipartisan action. Believe it or not, we have already proven that it is possible.

    Funny how he doesn’t mention the bipartisan legislation that would have reopened the government after a month of being shut down, but that both he and Mitch McConnell refused to even consider.

    A new era of cooperation apparently doesn’t actually include any actual cooperation on Trump’s part.

    In the last Congress, both parties came together to pass unprecedented legislation to confront the opioid crisis, a sweeping new Farm Bill, historic VA reforms, and after four decades of rejection, we passed VA Accountability so we can finally terminate those who mistreat our wonderful veterans.

    And just weeks ago, both parties united for groundbreaking criminal justice reform. Last year, I heard through friends the story of Alice Johnson. I was deeply moved. In 1997, Alice was sentenced to life in prison as a first-time non-violent drug offender. Over the next two decades, she became a prison minister, inspiring others to choose a better path. She had a big impact on that prison population -- and far beyond.

    Alice's story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing -- and the need to remedy this injustice. She served almost 22 years and had expected to be in prison for the rest of her life.

    In June, I commuted Alice's sentence -- and she is here with us tonight. Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have the power to shape our own destiny.

    When I saw Alice's beautiful family greet her at the prison gates, hugging and kissing and crying and laughing, I knew I did the right thing.

    Inspired by stories like Alice's, my Administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the First Step Act into law. This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African-American community. The First Step Act gives non-violent offenders the chance to re-enter society as productive, law-abiding citizens. Now, States across the country are following our lead. America is a Nation that believes in redemption.

    As someone noted during my live blog of the speech last night: Oh look, he brought his own black person.

    We are also joined tonight by Matthew Charles from Tennessee. In 1996, at age 30, Matthew was sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs and related offenses. Over the next two decades, he completed more than 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk, and mentored fellow inmates. Now, Matthew is the very first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act. Matthew, on behalf of all Americans: welcome home.

    I’m not saying that I have any problem with this. These people should have been set free. Their sentences should have been commuted.

    So, he freed two black people. That’s great.

    Meanwhile the laws that disproportionally penalize People of Color still stand.

    Meanwhile he attacks those People of Color who protest this inequality by taking a knee.

    Meanwhile he defends the system that perpetuates this inequality without question.

    So, he freed two black people and now he thinks he’s Abraham Lincoln.

    As we have seen, when we are united, we can make astonishing strides for our country. Now, Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis.

    The Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our Government, protect our homeland, and secure our southern border.

    Now is the time for the Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business.

    As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the march to the United States. We have just heard that Mexican cities, in order to remove the illegal immigrants from their communities, are getting trucks and buses to bring them up to our country in areas where there is little border protection. I have ordered another 3,750 troops to our southern border to prepare for the tremendous onslaught.

    This is a moral issue. The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well‑being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today, who followed the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our Nation and strengthen our society in countless ways. I want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally.

    Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country.

    No issue better illustrates the divide between America's working class and America's political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.

    This guy shits in a golden toilet, in a gilded penthouse on top of a tower with his name on it in 30 foot high letters, reached by a private elevator guarded by a private security force.

    Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration -- reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.

    And a depleted social safety net and up above he was bragging about how he personally made healthcare even less accessible for 40 million Americans.

    Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate -- it is cruel. One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country.

    Ah, the old Compassionate Conservatism we’ve heard so much about.

    Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.

    I admit I’m a little impressed that he didn’t yet again describe in detail how to tape a woman’s mouth shut. Apparently he can learn.

    Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities -- including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl.

    The savage gang, MS-13, now operates in 20 different American States, and they almost all come through our southern border. Just yesterday, an MS-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York City. We are removing these gang members by the thousands, but until we secure our border they're going to keep streaming back in.

    Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed every years by guns.

    Odds are pretty good that members of this MS-13 gang Trump is so worried about don’t buy their guns legally. He wants to build a wall to reduce the availability of drugs and gang members, but is adamantly opposed to building a wall around illegal guns.

    Why is that?

    Guess the NRA pays better.

    But here’s the part I find most perplexing:  Up above Trump said “This is a moral issue.”

    A moral issue.

    A moral. Issue.


    How then is it moral to round up gang members – who by Trump’s own words are vicious and violent criminals – and send them to some Central American country, free to prey on that society? We don’t want you here, but we don’t care if you rape and murder people in a different country?


    How is that moral?

    Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens.

    Again, 30,000 Americans are killed by guns every year.


    I've gotten to know many wonderful Angel Moms, Dads, and families -- no one should ever have to suffer the horrible heartache they have endured.

    And yet, Trump and members of his administration and his supporters and his political party daily attack the survivors and families of gun violence, like the Parkland students.

    Here tonight is Debra Bissell. Just three weeks ago, Debra's parents, Gerald and Sharon, were burglarized and shot to death in their Reno, Nevada, home by an illegal alien. They were in their eighties and are survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren. Also here tonight are Gerald and Sharon's granddaughter, Heather, and great‑granddaughter, Madison.

    To Debra, Heather, Madison, please stand: few can understand your pain. But I will never forget, and I will fight for the memory of Gerald and Sharon, that it should never happen again.

    Not one more American life should be lost because our Nation failed to control its very dangerous border.

    And that is certainly a terrible thing.

    It is.

    And Trump’s right, no one should ever have to suffer the horrible heartache those people have to endure.

    But it seems gun violence only matters to Republicans when it happens at the hands of an illegal immigrant.

    In the last 2 years, our brave ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those charged or convicted of nearly 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 killings.

    We are joined tonight by one of those law enforcement heroes: ICE Special Agent Elvin Hernandez. When Elvin was a boy, he and his family legally immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic. At the age of eight, Elvin told his dad he wanted to become a Special Agent. Today, he leads investigations into the scourge of international sex trafficking. Elvin says: "If I can make sure these young girls get their justice, I've done my job." Thanks to his work and that of his colleagues, more than 300 women and girls have been rescued from horror and more than 1,500 sadistic traffickers have been put behind bars in the last year.

    Special Agent Hernandez, please stand: We will always support the brave men and women of Law Enforcement -- and I pledge to you tonight that we will never abolish our heroes from ICE.

    No one of any importance is seriously proposing we get rid of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Certainly, some have suggested it in anger, but not as any serious legislation. There is no chance whatsoever than such legislation would make it out of committee, let alone actually come up for a vote and pass both houses of Congress. Is this really such a concern that Trump needed to invite a guy and reassure him personally?

    This is just another empty gesture by Trump.

    Another easy cheer from his base who never have to think very hard about anything.

    My Administration has sent to the Congress a commonsense proposal to end the crisis on our southern border.

    It includes humanitarian assistance, more law enforcement, drug detection at our ports, closing loopholes that enable child smuggling, and plans for a new physical barrier, or wall, to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry. In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall -- but the proper wall never got built. I'll get it built.

    This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier -- not just a simple concrete wall. It will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need, and as these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way down.

    San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in the country. In response, and at the request of San Diego residents and political leaders, a strong security wall was put in place. This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings.

    The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime -- one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our Nation's most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.

    Simply put, walls work and walls save lives. So let's work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe.

    I’ve written extensively about this goddamned wall. Most of that is summed up here in my essay, Walls, Damned Lies, and Statistics. So, I’m not going to rehash it here.

    As we work to defend our people's safety, we must also ensure our economic resurgence continues at a rapid pace.

    No one has benefitted more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the new jobs created in the last year. All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before -- and exactly one century after the Congress passed the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.

    This was probably the moment that most people remember.

    When Trump tried to take credit for the number of women now serving in congress – much the same way, I guess, as the Titanic disaster took credit for improved maritime safety regulations which required ships to carry enough lifeboats for everybody and slow down when driving blind into an icefield.

    This was an astounding moment, especially when female Democrats leaped to their feat en masse and started shouting USA! USA! and forced Trump to acknowledge their presence as more than just a talking point.

    You weren’t supposed to do that, Trump said.

    Women are doing a lot of things guys like Trump think they aren’t supposed to do.

    Better get used it.

    As part of our commitment to improving opportunity for women everywhere, this Thursday we are launching the first ever Government-wide initiative focused on economic empowerment for women in developing countries.

    To build on our incredible economic success, one priority is paramount -- reversing decades of calamitous trade policies.

    We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end.

    Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods -- and now our Treasury is receiving billions of dollars a month from a country that never gave us a dime. But I don't blame China for taking advantage of us -- I blame our leaders and representatives for allowing this travesty to happen. I have great respect for President Xi, and we are now working on a new trade deal with China. But it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.

    Trump repeatedly demonstrates that he has no idea who pays for his tariffs or where those “billions of dollars a month” come from.

    They come from Americans.

    It’s the importer who pays the tariff, not China.

    But then, what do you expect from a guy who has “great respect” for every foreign despot that comes along but can’t seem to muster any for his own countrymen.

    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 NAFTA. For years, politicians promised them they would negotiate for a better deal. But no one ever tried -- until now.

    Our new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement -- or USMCA -- will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers: bringing back our manufacturing jobs, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with four beautiful words: made in the USA.

    Tonight, I am also asking you to pass the United States Reciprocal Trade Act, so that if another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the same product that they sell to us.

    United States Reciprocal Trade Act.

    I doubt very many Americans have heard of this legislation before last night.

    Basically it gives Trump free rein to impose whatever protectionist trade policies and tariffs he likes without having to consult congress. It gives the president almost unlimited power over foreign trade, power he does not currently have.

    Even the conservative US Chamber of Commerce really hates this legislation.

    The Chamber of Commerce, which represents American business said this act will “undermine US economic growth and elicit damaging retaliatory tariffs against US exports.”

    Trump’s own supporters say this is a bad idea.

    Fortunately, it’s unlikely to pass.

    Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America's crumbling infrastructure.

    Yes, they should.

    I know that the Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill -- and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting edge industries of the future. This is not an option. This is a necessity.

    They should. But they won’t.

    The next major priority for me, and for all of us, should be to lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs -- and to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.

    This was the moment for me. Right here.

    After watching this fool attack and eliminate every healthcare safety for the last two years, here it is.

    Already, as a result of my Administration's efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years.

    But we must do more. It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place. This is wrong, unfair, and together we can stop it.

    I am asking the Congress to pass legislation that finally takes on the problem of global freeloading and delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients. We should also require drug companies, insurance companies, and hospitals to disclose real prices to foster competition and bring costs down.

    The irony of this moment is Nancy Pelosi, the very Speaker who pushed through the ACA, who did her damnest to give exactly that to every American, the very woman Trump led off this speech with by insulting, sitting right there directly behind Trump as he said this.

    No force in history has done more to advance the human condition than American freedom. In recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach. My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. Together, we will defeat AIDS in America.

    What the hell does “American freedom” have to do with curing HIV/AIDS?

    I suppose at this point we should just be grateful he didn’t compare HIV research to Nazi scientists.

    Tonight, I am also asking you to join me in another fight that all Americans can get behind: the fight against childhood cancer.

    Joining Melania in the gallery this evening is a very brave 10-year-old girl, Grace Eline. Every birthday since she was 4, Grace asked her friends to donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She did not know that one day she might be a patient herself. Last year, Grace was diagnosed with brain cancer. Immediately, she began radiation treatment. At the same time, she rallied her community and raised more than $40,000 for the fight against cancer. When Grace completed treatment last fall, her doctors and nurses cheered with tears in their eyes as she hung up a poster that read: "Last Day of Chemo." Grace -- you are an inspiration to us all.

    Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My budget will ask the Congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research.

    I have no criticism of this.

    We should be funding this research and more. Including finding the cure for HIV/AIDS he mentioned up above.

    $500 million he said. $500 million over ten years.

    But, I wonder how much further $5 billion in one year would go?

    How many little girls could be saved for what he wants to spend on that goddamned wall? Or the trillion plus we spent on the F-35 strike fighter. Or… well, yeah. In the grand scheme of things, little girls with cancer make great moments when you need a cheer and a tear at a political speech.

    Other than that they’re not worth much. A paltry $50 million per year, I guess, not even the cost of one half of an F-35.

    To help support working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for America's children. I am also proud to be the first President 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.

    I’m shocked that his pants didn’t literally catch on fire.

    There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our Nation saw in recent days. 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 before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth.

    To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother's womb.

    Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children -- born and unborn -- are made in the holy image of God.

    The Governor of Virginia “basically stated he would execute a baby after birth?”


    This is the Holy Grail itself for evangelicals, for religious fanatics. This, right here, this is what they’ve been waiting for. This is why they’ll excuse any and all of Trump’s vile behavior and name him their God’s anointed one.

    They’ll burn the country down.

    Hell, did I say country? They’ll burn just as many people as it takes to impose their religion on the rest of us. To make abortion illegal. In the name of their God. Ironic, given that in their bible, their horrible God murders more babies, more children, more human beings by a factor of millions than that poor sap Lucifer ever did.

    The final part of my agenda is to protect America's National Security.

    Over the last 2 years, we have begun to fully rebuild the United States Military -- with $700 billion last year and $716 billion this year. We are also getting other nations to pay their fair share. For years, the United States was being treated very unfairly by NATO -- but now we have secured a $100 billion increase in defense spending from NATO allies.

    As part of our military build-up, the United States is developing a state-of-the-art Missile Defense System.

    Under my Administration, we will never apologize for advancing America's interests.

    For example, decades ago the United States entered into a treaty with Russia in which we agreed to limit and reduce our missile capabilities. While we followed the agreement to the letter, Russia repeatedly violated its terms. That is why I announced that the United States is officially withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF Treaty.

    Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can't --- in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.

    As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months. If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea with potentially millions of people killed. Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. And Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.

    Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim President, Juan Guaido.

    We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom -- and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.

    Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence --- not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.

    One of the most complex set of challenges we face is in the Middle East.

    Our approach is based on principled realism -- not discredited theories that have failed for decades to yield progress. For this reason, my Administration recognized the true capital of Israel -- and proudly opened the American Embassy in Jerusalem.

    Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years. In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded. We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East.

    As a candidate for President, I pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars.

    When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers.

    Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.

    I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan. Our troops have fought with unmatched valor -- and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a political solution to this long and bloody conflict.

    In Afghanistan, my Administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban. As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement -- but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.

    Above all, friend and foe alike must never doubt this Nation's power and will to defend our people. Eighteen years ago, terrorists attacked the USS Cole -- and last month American forces killed one of the leaders of the attack.

    We are honored to be joined tonight by Tom Wibberley, whose son, Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, was one of the 17 sailors we tragically lost. Tom: we vow to always remember the heroes of the USS Cole.

    My Administration has acted decisively to confront the world's leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran.

    To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. And last fall, we put in place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country.

    We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people. We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism, or those who spread its venomous creed. With one voice, we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere it occurs.

    Just months ago, 11 Jewish-Americans were viciously murdered in an anti-semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. SWAT Officer Timothy Matson raced into the gunfire and was shot seven times chasing down the killer. Timothy has just had his 12th surgery -- but he made the trip to be here with us tonight. Officer Matson: we are forever grateful for your courage in the face of evil.

    Tonight, we are also joined by Pittsburgh survivor Judah Samet. He arrived at the synagogue as the massacre began. But not only did Judah narrowly escape death last fall -- more than seven decades ago, he narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps. Today is Judah's 81st birthday. Judah says he can still remember the exact moment, nearly 75 years ago, after 10 months in a concentration camp, when he and his family were put on a train, and told they were going to another camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. A soldier appeared. Judah's family braced for the worst. Then, his father cried out with joy: "It's the Americans."

    A second Holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau Concentration Camp. He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks. "To me," Joshua recalls, "the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky."

    I began this evening by honoring three soldiers who fought on D-Day in the Second World War. One of them was Herman Zeitchik. But there is more to Herman's story. A year after he stormed the beaches of Normandy, Herman was one of those American soldiers who helped liberate Dachau. He was one of the Americans who helped rescue Joshua from that hell on earth. Almost 75 years later, Herman and Joshua are both together in the gallery tonight -- seated side-by-side, here in the home of American freedom. Herman and Joshua: your presence this evening honors and uplifts our entire Nation.

    He speaks of the Holocaust and ignores America’s role in it.

    That decade when we turned back desperate immigrants seeking refuge from the horror.

    Just as we turn away those seeking refuge today.

    And in the same breath he tells America how he intends to walk away from the treaties that made our world safer, that helped to reduce the likelihood of total war and he proudly proclaims the development of new weapons, of a new nuclear arms race, one that pushes the world ever closer to immolation at the hands of madmen.

    When American soldiers set out beneath the dark skies over the English Channel in the early hours of D-Day, 1944, they were just young men of 18 and 19, hurtling on fragile landing craft toward the most momentous battle in the history of war.

    They did not know if they would survive the hour. They did not know if they would grow old. But they knew that America had to prevail. Their cause was this Nation, and generations yet unborn.

    Why did they do it? They did it for America -- they did it for us.

    I guess they weren’t lucky enough to have a rich father and a family doctor to keep them out of harm’s way.

    Everything that has come since -- our triumph over communism, our giant leaps of science and discovery, our unrivaled progress toward equality and justice -- all of it is possible thanks to the blood and tears and courage and vision of the Americans who came before.

    Think of this Capitol -- think of this very chamber, where lawmakers before you voted to end slavery, to build the railroads and the highways, to defeat fascism, to secure civil rights, to face down an evil empire.

    Here tonight, we have legislators from across this magnificent republic. You have come from the rocky shores of Maine and the volcanic peaks of Hawaii; from the snowy woods of Wisconsin and the red deserts of Arizona; from the green farms of Kentucky and the golden beaches of California. Together, we represent the most extraordinary Nation in all of history.

    What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered?

    How indeed?

    I ask the men and women of this Congress: Look at the opportunities before us! Our most thrilling achievements are still ahead. Our most exciting journeys still await. Our biggest victories are still to come. We have not yet begun to dream.

    We must choose whether we are defined by our differences -- or whether we dare to transcend them.

    We must choose whether we will squander our inheritance -- or whether we will proudly declare that we are Americans. We do the incredible. We defy the impossible. We conquer the unknown.

    This is the time to re-ignite the American imagination. This is the time to search for the tallest summit, and set our sights on the brightest star. This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots.

    This is our future -- our fate -- and our choice to make. I am asking you to choose greatness.

    No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together.

    We must keep America first in our hearts. We must keep freedom alive in our souls. And we must always keep faith in America's destiny -- that one Nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise and the light and the glory among all the nations of the world!

    Thank you. God Bless You, God Bless America, and good night!

    The achievements he idolizes are long behind us, fifty years and more, the works of other people, other generations.

    As a nation we are not capable of such greatness today, largely because of men just like Donald Trump. Those who’ve robbed this nation blind and conned her people out of their very lives. He promises freedom and speaks of dreams, but his entire life has been bent to stealing that freedom from others and the only dreams he truly cares about are the ones a hundred stories tall with his name on the front in thirty-foot high golden letters.

    This is indeed the sad state of our nation.

    This bombastic fool and his halting empty words and his transparent promises of unity and cooperation and I’m left to wonder, what was that “mission” he led off with?

    You didn’t forget about that, did you?

    This mission of America, what is it?

    I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to find out.

    Thank you. May Mike Pence’s Christian God bless you even if you don’t want it. God bless America.

    And good night.