SOTU: Disingenuous

* Despite President Donald Trump’s scripted call for unity, no one on either side of the aisle could realistically have thought: “Bye, partisanship.” That’s not how a solipsistic authoritarian stays in power. Trump’s SOTU speech–from economic touting to flowery clichés on unity and American ideals to references ranging from our border “crisis” to “socialism” caveats to “ridiculous partisan investigations”–sounded more like a 2020 campaign speech. That was underscored by: “I will get it built.” As in more divisiveness.

One notable topic wasn’t broached–climate change. It speaks volumes about his–and his party’s–priorities that an existential national and planetary threat doesn’t check any SOTU boxes.

“Trump boasted of a ‘revolution in American energy’ that included nothing revolutionary–just the same old embrace of fossil fuels,” pointed out Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor. “The President refuses to acknowledge the urgency and escalating costs of climate crisis on American families. The cost of doing nothing is very high. Instead the Trump Administration sides with dirty fossil fuel corporations and installs oil industry lobbyists at the EPA, Department of Interior and other agencies that protect our health and economic wellbeing.”

* It’s beyond disturbing when an uninformed, largely unread president calls out his own intelligence chiefs for being “passive and naive.” Then he calls out the press for “misquoting” them in their congressional testimony, which was carried on live television. The bottom line: A U.S. president needs to know how the world really works. Earning a reputation for “willful ignorance,” being disengaged from intelligence experts and ignoring their expertise is a recipe for foreign policy disaster. Undodged bullets are still out there.

* “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. referring to why he was speaking out about Vietnam in 1967. As a diversion from his civil rights agenda, it cost him support. But it was the right thing to do. More than half a century later, that quote still resonates–and could now apply to Congressional Republicans, who need to speak out against the threat posed by Donald Trump.

* So Russia says it too will formally abandon the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty after the U.S. announced it will be pulling out as a result of Russian violations. Too bad there isn’t a savvy White House negotiator available to America to save a treaty that helps rein in missile deployments. Obviously, negotiating with leverage-challenged subcontractors and bankruptcy courts back in the day is not preparation enough for the ultimate big time.

* Maybe it’s just happenstance, but could it be more than coincidence that a society that has fallen for e-cigarette nicotine alternatives is the same society that fell for a reality TV-populist alternative to Hillary Clinton.

* Donald Trump. Vladimir Putin. Xi Jinping. I miss Mikhail Gorbachev.

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