The Trump inaugural address and the lies it told

The Trump inaugural address and the lies it told
January 24, 2017
Elizabeth May MP

The web of lies in the narrative spun in 16 minutes by President Donald Trump represents a chilling foreshadowing of his world view.

Of course, no one can know for sure if Donald Trump believes the things he says.  His performance the day after his inauguration in denying the evidence of everyone’s own eyes, satellite photos and universal media and even US government services’ reports on the crowd size for his inauguration suggests that he may fervently believe things that are obviously untrue. Or he may believe that he can, through force of will, convince his followers that they should deny reality. I am not sure which is the scarier prospect.

Whether he believes his “alternative facts” or not, Trump made some very dangerous claims in his Inaugural Address.

It is certainly true that many Americans are not as well off as they once were. Their society has been ravaged by budget cuts, the collapse of the housing markets and the sub-prime real estate criminality of Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and others.  The life expectancy of the average American white male is declining. I learned this from Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz in his address last fall at University of British Columbia. He related that white American men are dying younger due to a combination of alcohol, drugs and suicide.  And he linked it very clearly with the failed policies of the Reagan-Thatcher era.  The chasm between the 1% and the 99% has been growing. Tax cuts, deregulation, trade liberalization and privatization are a prescription for hollowing out the public sphere – creating a precarious climate of every man for himself. The policies of Neo-Liberalism are an empirical failure having eroded the middle class and the aspirations of a generation.

Trump presents the front of opposition to globalization. He blames trade deals, but not corporate rule. He blames other countries and by extension, their workers, but not the reorganization of the societies to put transnational corporations in charge.  Trump wants Americans to find imaginary culprits for the damage done to their country.  No wonder he does not want to accept Joseph Stiglitz’s view. He has appointed a gang of profiteers to his Cabinet.  His hand-picked billionaires club has in common virtually no experience in public service and bank accounts bloated by profits gained at the expense of the very people Trump claims to represent.  His Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, was a Goldman Sachs executive.  As the housing bubble burst, Mnuchin formed a new firm, OneWest, to buy the bad mortgages of the poor and middle class, and then made a fortune in foreclosures. In one case, his firm foreclosed on the home of a 90 year old woman due to an outstanding discrepancy of 30 cents.

Trump certainly would not want Americans looking for those really responsible.

Instead, his inaugural address put the blame on the excessive generosity of the elites in Washington.

Previous governments, he claimed “spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We have made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.”

In a blatant appeal to selfishness, Trump wants Americans to believe they are poorer because of development assistance to the poor of the world.  But the truth is US aid is far lower than that in other countries.  While the total dollar amount is not exceeded by any nation, the expression of dollars as a percentage of GDP is not keeping pace. Working for a United Nations commission, former Prime Minister Lester B Pearson set the target for development assistance at 0.7% of a country’s GDP. Sweden, the UK, Norway, and a few others have hit this target. Germany is over 0.4%. Canada is only at 0.28% of GDP. And the US? Its aid is only 0.19% of GDP.  Of the $32 billion the US gives other nations in aid, the largest recipient country, Israel, receives $3 billion.  But given everything Trump has said about increasing support for Netanyahu, even if it means abandoning the two-state solution, it is unlikely Trump will cut support for Israel. More likely, he will end aid to the poorest of the poor.  He has already signed an executive order cutting aid to any health facilities that offer abortion access.

Trump also blasted policies that he claimed had weakened the US military: “We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own.”

This bizarre claim flies in the face of the economic dominance of the military-industrial complex and the fact that the US spends more on its military than any country on earth. In fact 54% of the US discretionary budget in 2015 was spent on the military. Trump has made clear he does not like international partnerships, whether NATO or the United Nations.

His version of “America First” is not the usual and expected responsibility of any national leader to protect the interests of their nation. Trump’s is a dangerous vision designed to turn Americans against the rest of the world.

Trump’s “America First” doctrine is a declaration of selfishness and isolationism.

Originally published by Island Tides newspaper. See for more breaking West Coast news, views and enterprise.