As the nation lurches closer towards being ruled by a tyrannical dictator with unwavering support from the Republican Party, the American people are ignoring an even greater threat to their waning secular democracy – rule by tyrannical theocrats.
The rise of theocrats in powerful positions of authority is particularly disconcerting because not only was America created as a secular nation with a secular Constitution, but because the theocrats running the federal government represent a very small minority of the population. And now Trump has given that vicious minority what theyelected him to do in the first place; another radical Christian extremist, William Barr, in a powerful federal government position.
J. Beauregard Sessions was a legitimate threat to America’s secular government as Trump’s attorney general, but his theocratic aspirations paled in comparison to Trump’s latest theocratic cabinet member – a conservative Catholic malcontent who is unlikely to ever defend the U.S. Constitution because it is a secular document. It is noteworthy that Sessions only stated that, according to his mind, the separation of church and state in the Constitution is a concept that is unconstitutional. However, his replacement ardently believes that America’s government is duty-bound to enforce god’s laws because there is no place for secularism.
In a 1995 essay, Barr expressed the extremist Christian view that “American government should not be secular;” secularism is an abomination in Barr’s theocratic mind despite the law of the land is unmistakably secular. Furthermore, Barr contends America’s government is supposed to be imposing “a transcendent moral order with objective standards of right and wrong that flows from God’s eternal law;” eternal law best dictated by the Vatican and taught in public schools at taxpayer’s expense.
It is true that as attorney general William Barr will defend Trump’s criminality and corruption; it is one of the only reasons Trump nominated him. However, the real danger to the nation is Barr’s belief that the government’s primary function should be defending and enforcing his god’s moral edicts while ardently opposing any legislative branch effort to make secular laws according to the secular Constitution.
As noted by Michael Stone a couple of weeks ago, in addition to the racism and misogyny one expects from a radical conservative Christian, “Barr is also a bigot when it comes to non-religious people and others who respect the separation of church and state.”
Barr epitomizes the typical extremist religious fanatic by blaming everything from crime to divorce to sexually transmitted diseases on what he alleges is “the federalgovernment’s non-stop attacks on traditional religious values.” In fact, he joins no small number of Republican evangelical extremists who demand that taxpayers fundreligious instruction, specifically Catholic religious instruction, in public schools. Barr, as a matter of fact, has called for the United States government to subsidize Catholic education and categorically called for federal legislation to promote Vatican edicts to “restrain sexual immorality;” an explicit reference to his religion’s ban on homosexuality, extramarital sex, and “artificial” birth control. Don’t believe it?
In an address to “The Governor’s Conference on Juvenile Crime, Drugs and Gangs,” Barr condemned the idea of adhering to the U.S. Constitution’s mandated separation of church and state in the public education system. The theocrat said:
“This moral lobotomy of public schools has been based on extremist notions of separation of church and state or on theories of moral relativism which reject the notion that there are standards of rights or wrong to which the community can demand adherence.”
Barr also penned an article in The Catholic Lawyer where he complained vehemently about what he asserted was “the rise of secularism;” something he claims is anathema to a nation he believes should be ruled by theocrats. Barr attempted to give an answer to “the challenge of representing Catholic institutions as authorities”on what is considered right and wrong, or morally acceptable in a secular nation. In discussing what Barr termed was “The Breakdown of Traditional Morality,” the new attorney general complained thus:
“We live in an increasingly militant, secular age… As part of this philosophy, we see a growing hostility toward religion, particularly Catholicism. This form of bigotry has always been fashionable in the United States. There are, today, even greater efforts to marginalize or ‘ghettoize’ orthodox religion…”
Barr is also a bigot when it comes to people who respect the Constitution’s separation of church and state in providing equal rights for all Americans whether theocrats agree or not. Barr’s belief that government is bound to enforce Vatican dictates is what drives his assertion that, for example, equal rights laws demanding that colleges treat homosexual groups like any other student group is inherently wrong.
He claims treating LGBTQ people like everyone else is detrimental because:
“[Equality] dissolves any form of moral consensus in society. There can be no consensus based on moral views in the country, only enforced neutrality.”
It is noteworthy that what Barr considers “enforced neutrality” is what most Americans understand is the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights for allAmericans. If this country was not plagued with religious extremists, bigots, misogynists, and hate-driven conservatives there would never be a need to “enforce neutrality,” or protect all Americans’ equal rights guaranteed according to secularlaw. There is no such thing as equality in Barr’s theocratic mind and the idea of the government not enforcing the privilege and superiority the religious right has enjoyed for too long is abominable, and now he wields federal government authority to right that abomination.
It is too bad that Barr’s religious mind incites him to believe the federal government’s job is enforcing his religion’s concept of “morality,” and that the purposely-conceived “secular” law of the land is “militant” and “hostile toward religion, particularly Catholicism.” If any American believes Barr will defend the Constitution, or equal rights, or freedom from religious imposition, they are deluded beyond belief. As the religious right’s attorney general, Barr will be the de facto enforcement arm of the evangelical extremists and aid in implementing all of the horrors a theocratic dictatorship entails – beginning with an increased government assault on women.
For an idea of how an avowed anti-choice theocrat leading the Justice Department will be the enforcement arm of the evangelical extremist cult, consider Trump’s latest evangelical edict forbidding medical professionals from giving women medical options the religious right and Vatican oppose.
Trump and Pence issued a gag order banning the term “abortion” as a woman’s option to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. The order will certainly face lawsuits, but instead of defending a medical professional’s ability to practice medicine, or exercise their freedom of speech, the theocratic-led DOJ will defend the religious right’s assault on women and medical professionals’ free speech because such speech is opposed by evangelicals. Trump’s latest theocratic edict was, by the way, a direct result of the evangelical right’s strict adherence to Vatican dictates banning women’s bodily autonomy and self-determination regarding reproduction.
There is no good outcome going forward with an avowed theocrat serving as the nation’s top law enforcement official. This is particularly true since Barr has made no secret that he considers the secular government “militant” and “bigoted” for not promoting “god’s eternal laws” of right and wrong. The very inconvenient truth for Americans is that long after Trump and Barr are out of power, the theocratic authorities will continue unimpeded because Trump has dutifully created a hard-line conservative judiciary specifically to ensure that America as a secular nation is, for all intents and purposes, coming to an end after resisting theocracy for over two centuries.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Trump called for bipartisan unity while he attacked Democrats and the Robert Mueller investigation, denounced efforts to expand abortion rights in Virginia and New York, attacked immigrants and reiterated his demand for a border wall — with no mention of the longest government shutdown in US history, which delayed his address by a week. Women in Congress wore all white to the speech in a nod to the movement for women’s suffrage. We’re joined by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, the first Somali American elected to the House of Representatives and one of the first Muslim women in Congress. Her guest at last night’s presidential address was a Liberian woman who fled to Minnesota in 2000 due to civil war and is now facing the threat of deportation from the United States.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Trump called for bipartisan unity while he attacked Democrats and the Robert Mueller investigation.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: 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. If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The president spent much of his speech focused on the southern border. He repeated his vow to build a border wall.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: 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 this 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 America.
AMY GOODMAN: On the international front, President Trump announced plans to hold another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. When we come back, we’ll be speaking with Congressmember Ilhan Omar. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “I’m an Alien” by Rebel Diaz. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González, as we continue to look at President Trump’s State of the Union address. On the international front, he announced plans to hold another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam beginning February 27th. He also defended his decision to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a landmark nuclear arms deal with Russia. Trump went on to threaten a new nuclear arms race.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: 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.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In other international news, President Trump warned against endless wars in the Middle East, while boasting about recent US-backed efforts to topple the Venezuelan government. On the domestic front, he criticized the state of New York for passing a law codifying a woman’s right to an abortion.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children, who can feel pain in a mother’s womb.
AMY GOODMAN: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo responded on Twitter by writing, quote, “Breaking: @realDonaldTrump just proposed rolling back Roe — the law of our nation for 46 years affirmed & reaffirmed by numerous Supreme Courts. Never. NY has a message to those who spread lies & fear to control women’s reproductive health: Not gonna happen. Not now, not ever,” Cuomo tweeted.
Trump did not mention the longest government shutdown in US history, which even delayed his speech by a week. But former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams did, as she made history as the first African-American woman to give the Democratic response.
STACEY ABRAMS: Just a few weeks ago, I joined volunteers to distribute meals to furloughed federal workers. They waited in line for a box of food and a sliver of hope, since they hadn’t received paychecks in weeks. Making livelihoods of our federal workers a pawn for political games is a disgrace. The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the president of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people but our values.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined right now by another history-making woman, Democratic Congressmember Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. She’s the first Somali American elected to the US House of Representatives, one of two Muslim women elected to Congress and the first hijab-wearing congressmember. She is a Somali-American refugee.
We welcome you to Democracy Now! and want to start off by asking you: As you sat there wearing red, white and blue last night, your hijab blue, what was your response to President Trump’s State of the Union address?
REP. ILHAN OMAR: Thank you, Amy, for having me.
It was a really bizarre State of the Union address, that kind of went along with the bizarrely scripted “House of Cards” scene that we just recently witnessed with the longest shutdown of our nation’s history of 35 days. You know, I expected there to be a presidential address. I expected there to be an acknowledgment of the workers that he just used as a political football. I expected there to be some imagination, a plan. It really felt like a pedestrian address. And I was taken aback by the lack of planning, vision and interest that really went into bringing a unified message.
Also, I would also say, for this particular address, there seemed to be lots of hypocrisies. You know, he talked about welcoming legal immigration as much as possible. But we know that he limited the number of refugees that could enter this country. One of my guests was a legal immigrant from Liberia who has a DEDstatus, that he signed to end in March. He talked about ending endless wars in the Middle East, while he seemed to be excited about showing our military might. He talked about working with us in regards to reducing pharmaceutical prices, you know, getting an infrastructure bill, while at the same time he talked about the Democrats and the constitutionally called-for check and balance that we have in continuing the investigation to his administration.
So, it just did not feel very well thought out. It didn’t feel like, you know, that this was the address that the people were waiting for. And I would say my sister Stacey and Bernie delivered more of a State of the Union address than the occupant of the White House did.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I wanted to ask you, Congressmember, there were many — obviously, many of the Democratic women were wearing white, in this striking visual. At one point, the president remarked about the progress of women in the workforce in America, and all of the Democratic women stood up and cheered. And it seemed to unnerve him a little bit. I’m wondering if you could comment on the impact of that, of the solidarity among especially all the new women, like yourself, who are now members of Congress.
REP. ILHAN OMAR: I think when he made that point, I don’t think he was clued in to the fact that he was celebrating this wave of women who have now been elected to Congress. So, we took that opportunity to really celebrate ourselves. Most of us are in Congress also replacing male members. So, the fact that Congress now looks more representative was one that we wanted to celebrate. And I don’t know if he actually understood that.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to that clip. This is President Trump talking about what Juan just described, the women in Congress.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before. And exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before.
CONGRESSMEMBERS: USA.! USA.! USA.! USA.! USA.! USA.!
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: That’s great. Very great. And congratulations. That’s great.
AMY GOODMAN: We also wanted to get your response, Congressmember Omar, to what’s happening in Venezuela. Two weeks ago, you tweeted, “A US backed coup in Venezuela is not a solution to the dire issues they face. Trump’s efforts to install a far right opposition will only incite violence and further destabilize the region. We must support Mexico, Uruguay & the Vatican’s efforts to facilitate a peaceful dialogue.” Let’s go to President Trump’s comments on Venezuela.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [Two weeks ago, the United States officially] recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela and its new president, Juan Guaidó. 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 the new calls to adopt socialism in our country.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: America was founded on liberty and independence, and not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free, and we will stay free.
CONGRESSMEMBERS: USA.! USA.! USA.! USA.! USA.! USA.! USA.!
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s President Trump, speaking at his State of the Union address, the camera focusing in on Bernie Sanders as he spoke. Congressmember Ilhan Omar, if you could respond on both of those issues, on Venezuela and socialism?
REP. ILHAN OMAR: The president seems to be divorced from reality, really. We saw that when he made the comment in celebrating the wave of new members of Congress who are women. He didn’t seem to recognize that most of us got elected in resisting his disastrous policies and steering our country into the right direction.
He also seems to be divorced from reality when we’re talking about the situation that’s unfolding in Venezuela. You know, we understand that there is a crisis, and we believe in furthering democracy, but it is really important that we caution ourselves from getting involved and further — furthering suffering in countries like Venezuela. When he talks about the humanitarian crisis, when he talks about the need for the people of Venezuela to have self-determination, you know, I think back to what’s happening in Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen, that the United States is assisting, that is the worst humanitarian crisis. Over 800,000 people have faced starvation. And so, when we see this president make remarks, it really becomes easily visible to see how divorced he truly is from reality.
I remember that most of us were laughing when he made the comment around socialism. What we advocate for, what Bernie, myself, you know, Alexandria, Rashida, what we advocate for, is an America that is prosperous, an America that makes sure that everybody has access to jobs, everybody has access to housing, everybody has access to healthcare, that we don’t have an America where people are dying because they can’t afford insulin, that we don’t have an America where people are dying because they don’t have a home and they’re freezing outside, and an America where we deal with our homeless crises.
And so, when I hear him speak, there is a reality that he seems to be clearly divorced. I don’t know if he knows how popular Medicare for all is. I don’t know if he understands how popular freeing students from the shackles of debt is. I don’t know if he understands how popular it is for us to critically address climate change. So, clearly, clearly, he lacks leadership, and it’s going to be really important for the next year for us to find someone who can lead our nation into prosperity and who is not going to be a liar-in-chief in the White House.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Ilhan Omar, do you consider yourself a Democratic Socialist?
REP. ILHAN OMAR: I consider myself a Democrat.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Congresswoman, I’d like to ask you about another portion of the president’s speech. In his address, he criticized Iran, calling the country, quote, “the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.” This is what he said.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: My administration has acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, the radical regime in Iran. It is a radical regime. They do bad, bad things. 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 by us on a country. We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants “Death to America” and threatens genocide against the Jewish people.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was President Trump last night. Your response not only to the confrontational, extremely confrontational, attitude of the United States administration of President Trump via Iran, and, of course, most of the other European countries that participated in the negotiations of the accords with Iran don’t agree with the United States?
REP. ILHAN OMAR: Again, another example of how he’s clearly divorced from reality. This is a president who has cozied up to Saudi Arabia. And to make a statement like that with a straight face really showed how disillusioned he is with reality. And I think, you know, the kind of hypocrisy that goes with saying that we can’t continue to fight endless wars, but he stands there and also speaks of, you know, aggressions that he wants to be part of in, again, that part of the world, to me, just shows how this president is a liar-in-chief, how this president isn’t really rooted in any reality, how this president can no longer lead this country, and the work that we need to do to make sure that we have a leader that understands that there is a difference between diplomacy, and there’s a difference between starting or aggravating wars.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you about Trump’s applauding the decision, his own, to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This is what he said.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: One of the most complex set of challenges we face, and have for many years, is in the Middle East. Our approach is based on principle, 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.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Omar, I wanted to get your response to that. And also, just before the State of the Union address yesterday, senators passed a bill that included the controversial “anti-BDS” provision aimed at preventing opposition to the Israeli government here in the United States by allowing state and local governments to sanction US companies who boycott Israel. The bill also includes an amendment opposing an immediate withdrawal of troops from Syria. If you could respond to all of these things?
REP. ILHAN OMAR: The move of the embassy was one that was widely criticized. It is not, I think, a move that lends itself to creating a positive environment, a peaceful environment in that region. I have, you know, for a long time spoken about the kind of policies that we need to have in that part of the region, what it means for there to be peace, and how we can’t divorce justice from peace. And it’s going to be really important that we have people not only in Congress, but in the White House, who truly understand that.
And the bill that passed was one that is similar to one that I voted against in the Minnesota House. It’s one that has been making the rounds around the country in different statehouses. It’s one that exists really to drive a wedge between Democrats and score political points for Republicans. And I just urge my colleagues to not take the bait. It’s really important for us to focus on protecting the constitutional rights of people and making sure that there is an opportunity for people in this country to fully utilize their First Amendment.
AMY GOODMAN: I also wanted to ask you about The Intercept’s reportthat a top aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told health insurance executives from Blue Cross Blue Shield that Democratic leadership had major objections to Medicare for all and would continue to try to block single-payer healthcare. In a December presentation, Pelosi adviser Wendell Primus said strengthening the Affordable Care Act, lowering drug prices were instead the priorities for the party. Can you respond to this, Congressmember?
REP. ILHAN OMAR: We have a guarantee that the bill will have a hearing. So, I’m looking forward to finally having that scheduled. I know that Congresswoman Jayapal has been working really hard. And there — as the whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, I look forward to not only having conversations with our caucus members, but with the Democratic Caucus, and maybe even getting some Republicans on board.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted —
REP. ILHAN OMAR: Because this is — this is a policy that is supported by the majority of Americans. And I know that when we are talking about policies like that, we can’t just talk about them as a bipartisan policy here in Congress, but we have to look at it as a bipartisan issue with the American people. And it’s in the interest of all members of Congress to legislate on behalf of the people who elected them.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Congressmember, I’d like to ask you about the portion of the president’s speech that he spent the most time on, which is on the issue of immigration and the wall that he insists needs to be built, although he’s changing the definition of the wall or concept of the wall with every day. I wanted to ask you about his continued urging that Congress must pass legislation that includes money for his wall.
AMY GOODMAN: If you could respond?
REP. ILHAN OMAR: Ah. That really — that part of the speech was very difficult to be present for. You know, I am someone who fully understands the struggles that people go through to get here, to look for an opportunity in the United States. There is a famous poem that says, you know, no one leaves for the mouth of the shark unless the mouth of the shark is safer than home. And to have a president that continues to demonize immigrants and to speak of humans as aliens and to not recognize that seeking asylum isn’t illegal is really devastating.
I brought a recipient of DED, which is delayed enforced departure, from Liberia, who arrived in this country in 2000 because of the civil war that was happening in Liberia. And for me, it’s someone I fully connect with. I left my home country of Somalia because of the civil war. I am the few fortunate ones who come here with a refugee status who automatically have a permanent status in this country. Hers was a temporary one. And because of our immigration system, she is now living with the challenges of not being able to permanently start a life here. For 18 years, she has lived through this broken immigration system, trying her best to go to school, to work, to become a taxpayer, to contribute to her society, to become a member of her church, to give back in every way that she can. She left a 2-year-old son that she hasn’t seen, and for over a decade she has been applying for a permanent status. Her brother, who is a citizen of the United States, has filed papers for her. But because the system is so broken, people don’t really have a path to permanency.
And so, what we wanted to hear from the president was a plan, a plan on how we give people a peace of mind, a permanent status to be here, to continue their lives. Being in this country for 18 years, for 20 years, for 30 years, means that you no longer have a home elsewhere. This is home. This is where your friends are. This is where the members of your church, the members of your mosque, the members of your synagogue — whatever the case may be, this is home. And so, for the president not to recognize that these are humans, there are humans behind the policies that we debate, is really dangerous, because he continues to fan the flames of hate, and he continues to use the issues around immigration as one that is divisive and one that continues to instill fear in our communities.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Ilhan Omar, we want to thank you for being with us for today’s response to the State of the Union address. Congressmember Omar represents the 5th Congressional District in Minnesota, first Somali American elected to the US House of Representatives, one of two Muslim women first elected to the House of Representatives and the first hijab-wearing member of the House of Representatives.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we speak with an activist who was invited to the State of the Union address by New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “If I Was President” by Las Cafeteras, here onDemocracy Now! in the Democracy Now! studios. You can see the wholeinterview with them at Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
If you happened to fall to Earth from space last night and found a working television, like as not you saw the president of the United States doing a passable imitation of a man giving a speech. A first-molecule surface impression, thoroughly devoid of context, would leave you thinking this person did relatively fine. Not a fireball on the stump, to be sure, but not a calamity, either. He did not fall down, throw things or curse anyone’s mother. No fake emergencies were declared.
The best thing one can say about Donald Trump’s State of the Union performance last night — and it was a performance, nothing more — was that he did not treat the assembled members of Congress, the high court, the joint chiefs, special guests and television audience like they were one of his howling rally crowds outside some abandoned airplane hangar in Alabama or western Pennsylvania. No, Mr. Trump stuck to the script on the teleprompter, and that’s when the trouble began.
As promised during the pro forma pre-speech leaks to the press, the first third of the address was suffused with fluffy bipartisan pabulum no one in the building believed for a second, least of all the speech-giver himself. Pretending at it was a hard hustle from the jump. Before he spoke a word, Trump barreled his way through House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ceremonial introduction of the president, oafishly denying her even a sliver of the spotlight he so desperately craves. So much for bipartisanship.
Trump cribbed 19-year-old lines from Bill Clinton about greeting the 21st century, bragged about the US being the world leader in oil exports and fracking, and strutted out a few right-wing legislative victories like cutting the estate tax and wrecking the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Of course, he got the whole room to stand and cheer for the hyper-expensive might of the military more than once. When he leaned into the microphone and intoned, “The state of our union is strong,” there was Speaker Pelosi, perched over his left shoulder like Poe’s raven, shaking her head and mouthing, “Nope.”
Then it got weird.
“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States,” said Trump about 30 minutes in, “and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.” He capstoned these strange and poorly assembled comments with one last penetrating line: “We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.” It took half an hour, but he attempted in that moment to tie the ongoing Robert Mueller investigation inextricably to terrorism, war and political dysfunction.
The infamous border wall made its first appearance at the 9:33 pm mark, put up its feet and stayed a while. A word cloud of this portion of the speech would include “onslaught,” “MS-13,” “caravans,” “cruel,” “troops,” “sexual assault,” “dangerous” and “countless Americans murdered,” putting it on par (minus the ubiquitous blue duct tape) with virtually every public statement Trump has made since he first began threatening to shut down the government two months ago. No mention was made of Mexico footing the bill. He did, however, have the gall to complain about walls around the estates of the wealthy while, behind his own walls, undocumented workers are being panic-fired by the score. “Walls save lives,” he claimed. “I will get it built.” Quoth Pelosi: nevermore.
There were several moments beyond Trump’s not-so-subtle Mueller jab and his hectoring about the wall that truly made the bile rise. A few minutes after explaining how everyone was doomed without his precious “barrier,” Trump did a quick riff on repairing the nation’s infrastructure. In the aftermath of the lethal polar vortex that descended upon half the country last week, talking up infrastructure repair moments after blathering about his useless and expensive wall was Perfect Trump.
Context, from last week’s Washington Post:
Frigid temperatures across the Midwest taxed the infrastructure that was keeping the coldest parts of America warm. Electrical grids collapsed, airline fuel lines froze and authorities encouraged the largely homebound population of the hardest-hit states to turn thermostats down to ease the burden on utility systems.
While Trump was beating the nation over the head with his wall last week, people in the center of the country were told to turn down the heat even as they risked freezing to death because the infrastructure tasked with keeping them alive and safe was groaning on the edge of collapse. The polar vortex killed at least 24 people and sent dozens more to the hospital. Not a single one of them would have been spared their fate by a wall on the southern border, but money tasked to build it could be well-used to help keep the heat on for millions. Unsurprisingly, this did not merit a mention last night.
“Already, as a result of my administration’s efforts,” said Trump during the second third of his marathon ramble, “in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years.” This, as it turns out, was one of almost 30 bald-faced lies he told last night. “A recent analysis of brand-name drugs by The Associated Press found 96 price increases for every price cut in the first seven months of 2018,” reports the science and medicine journal STAT. “At the start of last year, drug makers hiked prices on 1,800 medicines by a median of 9.1 percent, and many continued to increase prices throughout the year.”
Trump’s inaccurate crowing about lower drug prices also managed to cruise right past the pharmaceutical elephant in the room: insulin. “Insulin products cost very little to manufacture,” reports Mike Ludwig for Truthout, “but prices have skyrocketed in recent years. A vial of insulin that once cost around $25 now goes for about $400 to $500. Standing between people living with Type 1 diabetes and the insulin that keeps them alive are a number of wealthy corporations that value profit margins over human health. When people die from lack of access to medicine, health care profiteers should expect resistance.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 100 million people in the US have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, a number that is sure to rise as our population grows older and our diets grow worse.
For all that, the evening was not, in fact, a comprehensive dumpster fire. The Democratic congresswomen, rookies and veterans all garbed in whiteto honor a century of suffrage, owned the night. When Trump claimed credit for the number of women in the workforce, those white-robed women erupted in cheers and smiles, high-fiving each other as they leveled derisive laughter at the man behind the podium. Without downplaying their individually earned success at the polls, they made their message clear: We have this job because of you, putz. Thanks for that.Trump gave them his standard patronizing sneer, but even he knew he’d been aced.
And then there was Stacey Abrams, former candidate for governor of Georgia, who delivered the Democratic response. Abrams filled her short remarks with more dignity and truth than Trump could manage in his 90 grueling minutes. The Georgia gubernatorial election was perhaps the most blatant and destructive recent example of racist voter suppression in the US. Abrams’s words — including her call to voting rights — carried profound weight, and her vividly hopeful demeanor shined through even as she spoke of the darkest corners of modern politics. If Abrams does not announce her candidacy for the Senate soon, I will eat this keyboard at high noon on Main Street.
The State of the Union address is nothing more or less than a television show. Under normal circumstances and for most of the assembled, it is an opportunity for all the political peacocks to strut for the cameras before returning to the business of screwing us over in the holy name of someone else’s profit margin. With Trump involved, however, it is absolute farce. Nothing last night made this more obvious than the pre-speech announcement that Rick Perry had been tapped to be the designated survivor. If the building had exploded with all hands lost, we would have greeted the morning snug in the capable hands of a guy who couldn’t remember the name of the agency he currently heads.
These speeches are supposed to be about big ideas, our furthest hopes and greatest dreams. Here’s to hoping this is the last time we see Donald Trump delivering this particular address.
President Trump leaned hard on the strength of the American economy during his second State of the Union address on Tuesday, but with a blend of precise statistics and gauzy superlatives that are much more difficult to measure.
He also returned to a theme that dominated the second year of his presidency — a quest for a border wall with Mexico to cope with what he said is a crisis of crime and drugs in the United States caused by illegal immigration.
The two issues dominated his address, which in tone was more measured than his biting Twitter feed, but in substance contained numerous claims that were false or misleading.
Here is what Mr. Trump said and how it stacked up against the facts.
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“The U.S. 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.”
This is false.
The American economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2018. Growth in Latvia and Poland was almost twice as fast. Same for China and India. Even the troubled Greek economy posted stronger growth. And a wide range of economic analysts estimate that the growth of the American economy slowed in the fourth quarter, and slowed even further in the first month of 2019.
“We recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods — and now our Treasury is receiving billions and billions of dollars.”
This is true.
Since Mr. Trump imposed tariffs on certain imports from China — and imported steel and aluminum from around the world — federal tariff revenues have increased. Revenues from customs duties, which include tariffs, rose by $13 billion in the third quarter of 2018 compared with a year earlier, the Commerce Department reported. Technically, that money is paid by Americans who bring the goods across the border, and it is often passed on to American consumers in the form of higher prices.
“My administration has cut more regulations in a short period of time than any other administration during its entire tenure.”
This is false.
The Trump administration has slowed the pace of adopting new rules, and it has moved to roll back some existing or proposed federal regulations, particularly in the area of environmental protection. The White House claimed that as of October, a total of $33 billion worth of future regulator costs had been eliminated. But experts say the scale of the rollbacks in the Trump era still does not exceed extensive cuts in federal rules during the Carter and Reagan administrations, when rules governing airline, truck and rail transportation were wiped off the books, among other changes.
“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.”
This is false.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that since January 2017, when Mr. Trump took office, the economy has added 4.9 million jobs, including 454,000 jobs manufacturing jobs. Far from being “impossible,” that is closely comparable to the pace of job creation during some two-year periods during the Obama administration, and significantly slower than the pace of job creation in manufacturing in the 1990s.
Wages were “growing for blue-collar workers, who I promised to fight for. They are growing faster than anyone thought possible.”
This is true.
Wages are rising faster for construction and manufacturing workers than workers in service occupations, according to the Labor Department.
“More people are working now than at any time in our history.”
This is misleading.
While the total number of people working in the United States is higher than ever, it is not because of the president’s policies. It is because more people than ever live in the United States.
“The border city of El Paso, Tex., used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the entire country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country.”
This is false.
El Paso was never one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, and crime has been declining in cities across the country — not just El Paso — for reasons that have nothing to do with border fencing. In 2008, before border barriers had been completed in El Paso, the city had the second-lowest violent crime rate among more than 20 similarly sized cities. In 2010, after the fencing went up, it held that place.
“San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in our country. In response, a strong security wall was put in place. This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings.”
This is misleading.
Border apprehensions decreased by 91 percent in the San Diego sector between the 1994 fiscal year, right after the original border fencing was completed, to the 2018 fiscal year. But, according to the Congressional Research Service, that fence alone “did not have a discernible impact” on the number of immigrants crossing the border into the United States illegally.
“As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the march to the United States.”
This is exaggerated.
At the end of January, a new caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America was headed north, and some of the travelers said they intended to try to cross into the United States. But many in the caravan have said they plan to remain in Mexico, thanks in part to policies put in place by the new Mexican government. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made it easier for Central Americans to get visas and work in Mexico. President Trump’s warnings of an imminent invasion from new caravans is overstated.
“I hope you can pass the U.S.M.C.A. into law, so we can bring back our manufacturing jobs in even greater numbers, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with the four beautiful words: Made in the U.S.A.”
This is exaggerated.
The revised trade deal with Canada and Mexico, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, does include provisions that are intended to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States — like minimum wage provisions for some auto manufacturing. But some economists have said those provisions could ultimately push more manufacturing — and jobs — outside North America. The deal does allow American farmers to sell more dairy products to Canada. But the trade pact has yet to be approved by Congress, and both Democrats and Republicans say that is unlikely to happen without significant changes.
“When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. Just two years ago. Today, we have liberated virtually all of the territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty monsters.”
This is true.
The Defense Department reports that the Islamic State now controls only around 20 square miles of territory in Syria, down from 34,000 in 2014. But many of the gains against the Sunni extremist caliphate began under President Barack Obama, with the Trump administration continuing Obama administration policy. And the top American military commander in the Middle East told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that the Islamic State could return if the United States and its allies abandoned the fight. In December, Mr. Trump announced he was withdrawing American troops from Syria.
“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.”
This is misleading.
This has become a popular talking point among American conservatives. It is true that the rule of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela has brought that country to economic ruin. Inflation is at astronomical rates, and ordinary people are struggling to get basic food and health supplies. Three million citizens have fled. Some of the collapse can be traced to Mr. Maduro’s economic policies, which do fall under the broad label of socialism. But analysts say that corruption, the lack of rule of law and the absence of democracy — all the hallmarks of a dictatorship — have played just as big or larger roles.
“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.”
There is no evidence.
In 2016, at the end of the Obama administration, there was no sign that the United States and North Korea were about to go to war, though Pyongyang had been conducting nuclear tests and Mr. Obama had continued economic sanctions. In Mr. Trump’s first year in office, he increased tensions with North Korea by attacking its leader, Kim Jong-un, in a series of Twitter posts, which prompted hostile statements from Pyongyang. Mr. Trump wrote that North Korea’s actions would be met with “fire and fury” and called Mr. Kim “Little Rocket Man.” Analysts said at the time that the chances of war between the two nations had grown because of these exchanges.
“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 from birth.”
This is misleading.
On Jan. 22, the 46th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision Roe v. Wade, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Democrat of New York, signed the Reproductive Health Act. The new law ensures a woman’s right to an abortion in New York if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned. It does not broadly allow abortions until shortly before birth, as Mr. Trump suggested. Instead, it will allow for an abortion after 24 weeks to protect the mother’s health or if the fetus is not viable. Under the prior law, abortions were allowed after 24 weeks only if the woman’s life was in jeopardy.
“We had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth.”
This is false.
In an interview last month, Gov. Ralph Northam said that he supported a late-term abortion bill that would loosen restrictions on the procedure, and allow women to consult with a doctor on an abortion up to, but not including, the time of birth.
The governor, a pediatric neurologist, also talked about some of the dangerous medical emergencies that pregnant women could face, such as carrying a nonviable fetus. He said that in such a case, the mother would deliver the infant and then, “the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” While Mr. Northam was talking about an end-of-life care discussion in the case of a child that would not live, Republicans seized on his remarks as evidence that Mr. Northam supported killing babies after their birth.
Reporting was contributed by Eileen Sullivan, Michael Tackett, Linda Qiu, Edward Wong, Eric Lipton, Eric Schmitt, Adam Liptak, Binyamin Appelbaum, Caitlin Dickerson, Charlie Savage, Coral Davenport, Glenn Thrush, Helene Cooper, Jim Tankersley, Julian E. Barnes, Katie Benner, Matt Phillips, Robert Pear and Thomas Gibbons-Neff.
Curious about the accuracy of a claim? Email email@example.com
For the past three years, National Geographic has been tracking how this administration’s decisions will influence air, water, and wildlife.
SINCE THE TRUMP administration took office, it has been fighting what they call an “anti-growth” agenda put in place by the Obama administration. Regulations that required businesses to spend time and money to meet the former administration’s environmental standards were swiftly reviewed and, in many cases, rolled back.
National Geographic has been tracking the decisions that will impact America’s land, water, air, and wildlife. What started with curtailing information when the president took office in 2017 has evolved into actions like executive orders that open public land for business.
States, municipalities, and NGOs have responded to these changes by filing lawsuits to block the administration. Some, like lawsuits against the Keystone XL pipeline, have successfully kept public land closed to additional development.
Below are 15 influential decisions made by the Trump administration that could impact the future of our nation.
1. U.S. pulls out of Paris Climate Agreement
This is perhaps the decision that set the tone for the Trump administration’s approach to the environment: when he moved to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement in June of 2017. To many, it signaled less U.S. leadership in international climate change agreements. (Read more about this decision.)
2. Trump EPA poised to scrap clean power plan
The Clean Power Plan was one of the Obama’s signature environmental policies. It required the energy sector to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, but in October 2017 it was rolled back by Trump’s EPA. Among the reasons cited were unfair burdens on the power sector and a “war on coal.” (Read more on why Trump can’t make coal great again.)
3. EPA loosens regulations on toxic air pollution
This regulation revolved around a complicated rule referred to as “once in, always in” or OIAI. Essentially, OIAI said that if a company polluted over the legal limit, they would have to match the lowest levels set by their industry peers and they would have to match them indefinitely. By dropping OIAI, the Trump EPA forces companies to innovate ways to decrease their emissions, but once those lower targets are met, they’re no longer required to keep using those innovations. (Read more about air pollution.)
4. Rescinding methane-flaring rules
Under the Affordable Clean Energy rule issued in August 2018, states were given more power over regulating emissions. In states like California, that means regulations would likely be stricter, whereas states that produce fossil fuels are likely to weaken regulations. The following month, the EPA announced they would relax rules around releasing methane flares, inspecting equipment, and repairing leaks. (Read more about methane.)
5. Trump announces plan to weaken Obama-era fuel economy rules
Under the Obama administration’s fuel economy targets, cars made after 2012 would, on average, have to get 54 miles per gallon by 2025. In August 2018, the Trump Department of Transportation and EPA capped that target at 34 miles per gallon by 2021. The decision created legal conflict with states like California that have higher emission caps. (Read more about speed bumps in the way of super-efficient cars.)
6. Trump revokes flood standards accounting for sea-level rise
In August 2017, President Trump revoked an Obama-era executive order that required federally funded projects to factor rising sea levels into construction. However, in 2018, the Department of Housing and Urban Development required buildings constructed with disaster relief grants do just that. (Read more about how rising sea levels may imperil the internet.)
7. Waters of the U.S. Rule revocation
What are the “waters of the U.S.?” President Trump issued an executive order in 2017 ordering the EPA to formally review what waters fell under the jurisdiction of the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers according to the 1972 Clean Water Act. The proposed change narrowed the definition of what’s considered a federally protected river or wetland. (Read more about Trump’s plans to roll back the Clean Water Act.)
8. NOAA green lights seismic airgun blasts for oil and gas drilling
Five companies were approved to use seismic air gun blasts to search for underwater oil and gas deposits. Debate over the deafening blasts stem from concerns that they disorient marine mammals that use sonar to communicate and kill plankton. The blasts were shot down by the Bureau of Energy Management in 2017 but approved after NOAA found they would not violate the Marine Mammal Protection Act. (Read more about how scientists think seismic air guns will harm marine life.)
LEARN WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN ENDANGERED SPECIES
9. Interior Department relaxes sage grouse protection
The uniquely American sage grouse, a bird resembling a turkey with spiked feathers, has become the face of the debate between land developers and conservationists. In both 2017 and 2018, the Trump administration Department of Interior eased restrictions on activities like mining and drilling that had been restricted to protect the endangered bird. (Read more about how the sage grouse become caught in the fight over who owns America’s west.)
10. Trump officials propose changes to handling the Endangered Species Act
In July of 2018, the Trump administration announced its intention to change the way the Endangered Species Act is administered, saying more weight would be put on economic considerations when designating an endangered animal’s habitat. (Read more about the rollbacks facing endangered animals.)
11. Migratory Bird Treaty Act reinterpretation
Companies installing large wind turbines, constructing power lines, or leaving oil exposed are no longer violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act if their activities kill birds. This controversial change was declared by the Trump administration in December of 2017. (Read more about why legally protecting birds is important.)
Opening public lands for business
12. Trump unveils plan to dramatically downsize two national monuments
Unlike national parks, which have to be approved by Congress, national monuments can be created by an executive order, which the president said means they can be dismantled just as easily. Such was the case for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, which President Trump reduced and opened for mining and drilling companies in 2017. Tribes and environmental groups are challenging that interpretation in court. (Read more about the impacts of downsizing these two monuments.)
13. Executive order calls for sharp logging increase on public lands
Just a day before the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, President Trump issued an executive order that called for a 30 percent increase in logging on public lands. The decision was billed as wildfire prevention, though environmental groups say it ignores the role climate change plays in starting wildfires. (Read more about California’s historic wildfires.)
Security & Enforcement
14. Trump drops climate change from list of national security threats
The Trump administration’s decision to delist climate change from national security threats in December of 2017 meant less Department of Defense research funding and a nationalistic viewpoint on the potential impacts of wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. (Read more about how climate change is forcing migration in Guatemala.)
15. EPA criminal enforcement hits 30-year low
The size and influence of the EPA has shrunk under the Trump administration, and it’s illustrated by their diminished prosecuting power. Criminal prosecutions are at a 30-year low, and many violations that would have been prosecuted in the past are now being negotiated with companies. The administration says this is streamlining its work, but environmentalists have warned it could lead to more pollution. (Read more about the scientists pushing back against President Trump’s environment agenda.)
Trump tweeted, “What the hell is going on with Global Warming?” Well, it’s still happening.
More than a year after President Donald Trump nixed climate change from his administration’s list of national security threats, the Pentagon has released an alarming report detailing how dozens of U.S. military bases are already threatened by rising seas, drought and wildfire.
“The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans, and installations,” states the 22-page document, which was published Thursday.
The congressionally mandated analysis looked at a total of 79 military installations around the country. The Defense Department found that 53 sites are currently vulnerable to repeat flooding. Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, for example, has experienced 14 inches of sea level rise since 1930. Additionally, more than half of the 79 bases are at risk from drought, while nearly half are vulnerable to wildfire.
These climate impacts are expected to pose a risk to several other installations over the next two decades, and the report notes that “projected changes will likely be more pronounced at the mid-century mark” if climate adaptation measures are not taken.
While the report is a clear recognition of the immediate threat that climate change poses to the nation’s military infrastructure, it makes no mention of the greenhouse gas emissions driving the crisis. It also doesn’t mention some of the most recent climate-related devastation to military bases, including the estimated $3.6 billion in damages that Camp Lejeune in North Carolina suffered during Hurricane Florence last year.
The Pentagon’s assessment comes just over a year after Trump eliminated any reference to climate change from the White House’s 2017 National Security Strategy report, breaking with two decades of military planning.
Even then, there was dissonance between the Defense Department and the White House.
A week earlier, Trump had signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which devoted about 870 words to the “vulnerabilities to military installations” over the next two decades and warned that rising temperatures, droughts and famines might lead to more failed states ― which are “breeding grounds of extremist and terrorist organizations.” “Climate change is a national security issue,” the legislation said, quoting then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and four other former top military commanders. And it said that the Air Force’s $1 billion radar installation on a Marshall Islands atoll “is projected to be underwater within two decades.”
Yet a month later, in January 2018, the Pentagon followed Trump’s lead and scrubbed its National Defense Strategy of all references to climate change.
In Thursday’s report, the Defense Department describes climate change as “a global issue” and says it is “continuing to work with partner nations to understand and plan for future potential mission impacts.”
The department said in a statement to HuffPost that the report delivers a “high-level assessment of the vulnerability of DOD installations.”
“DOD must be able to adapt current and future operations to address the impacts of a wide variety of threats and conditions, to include those from weather, climate and natural events,” Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb said by email. “DOD will focus on ensuring it remains ready and able to adapt to a wide variety of threats ― regardless of the source ― to fulfill our mission to deter war and ensure our nation’s security.”
The department did not respond to HuffPost’s questions about any White House role in the report.
Oddly, the new analysis omits the Marine Corps. It also doesn’t identify the top 10 military bases within each service branch that are most vulnerable to climate impacts, a requirement of the defense bill that Trump signed into law in December 2017.
“They don’t have the prioritization of impact. That’s confusing,” said John Conger, a former principal deputy under secretary of defense in the Obama administration and current director of the research group Center for Climate and Security.
Conger said he expects that Congress will tell the Pentagon to go back and fulfill its request.
Climate change was first publicly recognized as a major concern for the Pentagon in May 1990, when the U.S. Naval War College issued a 73-page report, titled “Global Climate Change Implications for the United States,” which found that “Naval operations in the coming half century may be drastically affected by the impact of global climate change.”
The issue gained prominence under President George W. Bush, despite that administration’s embrace of climate change denialism. In October 2003, the National Defense University published a report stating that “global warming could have a chilling effect on the military.”
Today, the military still walks a fine line when discussing climate issues, particularly given that many congressional Republicans reject the realities of human-driven warming. Officials at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, the world’s largest naval station, have admitted to avoiding language such as “sea level rise” when requesting maintenance funds to raise docks, according to journalist Jeff Goodell’s recent book The Water Will Come.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the new report “inadequate” and criticized the Trump-era Defense Department for “treating climate change as a back burner issue.”
“President Trump’s climate change denial must not adversely impact the security environment where our troops live, work, and serve,” Reed said in a Friday statement. “Whether the Trump Administration wants to admit it or not, climate change is already costing the Department significant amounts of taxpayer resources and impacting military readiness.”
Ivanka Trump’s children, Joseph and Arabella, requested a vegetarian
thanksgiving after watching the president – their grandfather – pardon the
Thanksgiving turkeys this year.
Presidents and turkeys go way back, with reports of gifts of the animal
being sent to the White House dating back to 1870. However, it was in 1989
– when George H.W. Bush was the American head of state – that the White
Houses’ official turkey pardoning ceremony tradition was cemented.
According to White House History
after being presented with a turkey – wary of animal rights activists
picketing nearby – Bush stated, *“Let me assure you, and this fine tom
turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, not this guy —
he’s granted a Presidential pardon as of right now — and allow him to live
out his days on a children’s farm not far from here.”*
This year, it was the turn of turkeys Peas and Carrots to be pardoned by
and his grandchildren were quite taken with the pair. According to Trump
who posted pictures of Arabella, Joseph, and Theodore meeting the turkeys
on her Instagram account, *“After watching their Grandpa pardon Peas and
Carrots at the White House on Tuesday, Joseph and Arabella have sworn off
turkey and are insisting on a vegetarian Thanksgiving!”*
The children are not alone in asking for a turkey-free holiday. A number of
celebrities urged their fans to leave meat off the table this year,
including star of “The Big Bang Theory” Kaley Cuoco.
In a video for the animal rescue organization Farm Sanctuary, the
vegetarian actor said, *“Each year 46 million turkeys
inhumanely raised and slaughtered for Thanksgiving. The majority of these
birds are raised on factory farms, which are linked to numerous
environmental problems hurting us and our planet.”*
Filmmaker Kevin Smith
who turned vegan at the beginning of this year following a heart attack –
also asked consumers to consider choosing a cruelty-free option over a
turkey ahead of this years’ Thanksgiving
Speaking to two of the animals – again in a video for Farm Sanctuary –
Smith, who appeared alongside his daughter Harley Quinn, said, *“You have
my solemn word ladies, I will never eat another turkey. And I will go out
of my way to see that others might not as well.”*