Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Most Moving and Inspiring State of the Union in Memory (Full Text and Video)


Most State of the Union speeches are boring and unmemorable. Or one remembers the oddities or ironies, like President Clinton declaring that the "era of big government is over."

This one was different.

A year and a half ago, I remarked on President Trump's speech in Poland"Together, let us all fight like the Poles -- for family, for freedom, for country, and for God". I called it the "speech of his presidency". Of course, his presidency was still then quite young.

But President Trump's 2019 State of the Union speech was his best yet for many reasons. I thought it incredibly moving and inspiring.

And it, sometimes coupled with the behavior and reactions of those in the audience - good and bad - was righteous and telling.

I'm thinking of the chants of "USA!", the spontaneous singing of "Happy Birthday" to a survivor of both the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the Nazi concentration camps, and of course the ghoulish silence of the Democrat "women in white" to Trump's denunciation of New York's recent "pro-infanticide" legislation.  

Though most of the speech was designed to be unifying, the effect couldn't fail to draw a stark contrast between Trump and what one would hope is the growing political consensus in America against the bitter, spiteful and yes, often hateful agenda and conduct of the liberal opposition.

If you have read this blog for three or more years, you may have noticed my own evolution from an opponent of Trump and "Trumpism" (at the beginning of the Republican primaries) to a bemused neutral to, finally, a strong supporter. But even after I "came over" I always thought of Trump as, well, Trump. He was a political anomaly, which was always part his charm for some, as well as the reason he often inspired annoyance even among many supporters. And of course it's much of the reason he engenders such strong dislike from so many.

Trump still is Trump, of course. But he has also become something more.

The last third of his speech was more Reaganesque than ReaganWho would have thought it? And I can tell you that more than one viewer in our house shed a tear.

Trump continues to surprise and amaze. He continues to surprise and amaze this oft-cynic.

God bless President Trump, and may God continue to bless and watch over this presidency and our country.  

***********

A note on the speech transcription: I thought the reactions of the audience - among them the Republican and Democrat legislators - were an important part of it, but I tried to describe them neutrally.

But if you intentionally skipped this State of the Union address (as I did on a number of previous occasions), I urge you to also watch it for the full effect. If you wish to skip the initial entrances, the president's entrance and speech begins at about 26:30.



Cheers and sustained applause as President Donald Trump walks into the hall, shakes hands and mounts the podium. It has been noted that he began his speech without waiting for the Speaker of the House, Mrs. Nancy Pelosi, to introduce him.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Thank you very much, madam speaker, vice president, members of Congress, the first lady of the United States.

Applause. Melania Trump stands. My impression is that most of the applause was for her.

And my fellow Americans. 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. Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us, gathered in this great chamber, hoping we will govern not as two parties, but as one nation.


Cheers and applause. All Republicans and most Democrats (eventually) stand.

The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or Democrat agenda, it is the agenda of the American people. Many of us have 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 health care 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. There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage together to seize it.

Republicans cheer and applaud.

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

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud. Most Democrats stand and applaud.

This year, America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of America's vision and the power of American pride. In June, we marked 75 years since the start of what General Dwight D. Eisenhower called "the great crusade," the Allied liberation of Europe in World War II.

Applause.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the skies, and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea to save our civilization from tyranny. Here with us tonight are three of those incredible heroes. Private First Class Joseph Riley, Staff Sergeant Erving Locker — and Sergeant Sartman Zeitcheck.

Sustained cheers, standing and applause. Two of the veterans stand and wave.

Gentlemen, we salute you. 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.

Sustained cheers, standing and applause. Mr. Aldrin bows.

Thank you, Buzz. This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets.

Applause. Many in both parties stand.

In the 20th century, America saved freedom, transformed science, redefined the middle class, and when you get down to it, there is nothing anywhere in the world that can compete with America.

All stand and applaud.

Now, we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure. We must create a new standard of living for the 21st century. An amazing quality of life for all of our citizens is within reach. We can make our communities safer, our families stronger, our culture richer, our faith deeper, and our middle class bigger and more prosperous than ever before.

Republicans stand and applaud.

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

Republicans and some Democrats stand and applaud.

Together we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge all 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.Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.

All Republicans and a few Democrats cheer, stand and applaud.

Over the last two 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 two years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom, a boom that has rarely been seen before. There has been nothing like it. 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.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades, and growing for blue-collar workers, who promise to fight for. They are growing faster than anyone else. Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps.

Republicans applaud.

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. Not even close.

Republicans applaud.

Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in over half a century.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

African-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low.

Republicans cheer and applaud.

More people are working now than at anytime in the history of our country. 157 million people at work.

Republicans cheer and applaud.

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

Republicans cheer and applaud.

We virtually ended the estate tax, or death tax that is — as it is often called, on small businesses, ranches and family farms.

Republicans stand and applaud.

We eliminated the very unpopular Obamacare individual mandate penalty.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

And to give critically ill patients access to life-saving cures, we passed very importantly, right to try.

Republicans applaud. New Democrat Senator Kyrsten Sinema, very conspicuously stands and applauds.

My administration has cut more regulations in a short period of time than any other administration during its entire tenure.

Republicans cheer and applaud.

Companies are coming back to our country in large numbers, thanks to our historic reductions in taxes and regulations.

Republicans applaud.

And we have unleashed a revolution in American energy. The United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.

Republicans whoop, cheer, stand and applaud.

And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

After 24 months of rapid progress, our economy is the envy of the world. Our military is the most powerful on Earth, by far, and America . . .

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

America is again winning each and every day.

Republicans cheer and applaud.

Members of Congress, the state of our union is strong.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud. The crowd begins chanting "USA!"

That sounds so good.

Laughter.

Our country is vibrant and our economy is thriving like never before. On Friday it was announced we added another 304,000 jobs last month alone, almost double the number expected.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud. A few Democrats applaud.

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.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

If there is going to be peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just does not work that way.

A small chorus of noise (boos? cheers?) from some, momentarily interrupts.

We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad. This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate, in some cases years and years waiting— not right.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

The Senate has failed to act on these nominations, which is unfair to the nominees, and very unfair to our country. Now is the time for bipartisan action. Believe it or not, we have already proven that is possible. 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 a VA accountability, so we can finally terminate those who mistreat our wonderful veterans.

Republicans and a few Democrats cheer, stand and applaud.

And just weeks ago, all parties united for groundbreaking criminal justice reform. They said it couldn't be done.

Many on both sides cheer, stand and applaud.

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, nonviolent drug offender. Over the next 22 years, 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 total injustice.

She served almost 22 years, and had expected to be in prison for the remainder of her life. In June, I commuted Alice's sentence. When I saw Alice's beautiful family greet her at the prison gates, hugging and kissing and crying and laughing,

Mrs. Johnson wipes away tears.

I knew I did something right. Alice is with us tonight, and she is a terrific woman. Terrific. Alice, please.

Mrs. Johnson stands. All stand and applaud.

Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have that power to shape— the power to shape our own destiny. Thank you very much.

Applause.

Inspired by stories like Alice's, my administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the First Step Act into law. Big deal. That is a big deal.

Applause.

This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African-American community. The First Step Act gives nonviolent offenders the chance to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens. Now, states across the country are following our lead. America is a nation that believes in redemption.

We are also joined tonight by Matthew Charles from Tennessee.

Mr. Charles stands.

In 1996, at the age of 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 many of his fellow inmates. Now, Matthew was the very first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act.

All stand and applaud.

Matthew, please.

Mr. Charles bows. Applause.

Thank you, Matthew. Welcome home.

Applause.

Now, Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis. Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our government, protect our homeland, and secure are very dangerous southern border.

Now is the time for 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.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the march to the United States.

Boos.

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.

Murmurings (boos?).

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 follow the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud. Many Democrats stand and applaud.

I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

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

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

Meanwhile, working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal immigration, reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools, hospitals that are so crowded you can't get in, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.

Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate, it is actually very cruel.

Republicans applaud.

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.

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.

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 at least 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 are going to keep streaming right back in.

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

I've gotten to know many wonderful angel moms and dads and families. No one should ever have to suffer the horrible heartache that they have had to endure.

Here tonight is Deborah Bissell, just three weeks ago her parents were burglarized and shot to death in their Reno, Nevada, home by an illegal alien. They were in their 80s 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. Thank you and thank you for being here. Very much.

Mrs. Bissell and her family stand. All stand and applaud.

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.

In the last two 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 or murders.

We are joined tonight by one of those law enforcement heroes, ICE special agent Elvin Hernandez.

Mr. Hernandez stands, salutes and gives the thumbs up sign. All stand and applaud.

Thank you. When Elvin was a boy, his family legally immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic. At the age of eight, he told his dad he wanted to become a special agent. Today, he leads investigations into the scores of international sex trafficking. Elvin says that if I can make sure these young girls get their justice, I've really done my job. Thanks to his work and that of his incredible colleagues, more than 300 women and girls have been rescued from the horror of this terrible situation and more than 1,500 sadistic traffickers have been put behind bars.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud. Some Democrats applaud.

We will always support the brave men and women of law enforcement and I pledge to you tonight that I will never abolish our heroes from ICE. Thank you.

Republicans cheer and applaud.

My administration has sent to the Congress a common-sense 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 will get it built.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

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 these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way, way down.

Republicans stand and applaud.

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. The border city of El Paso, Texas, 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. Simply put, walls work and walls save lives.

Republicans stand and applaud.

So let's work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe. As we work to defend our people's safety, we must also ensure our economic resurgence continues at a rapid pace. No one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58% of the newly created jobs created last year.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud. Democrat women legislators, many newly elected, and sitting together dressed in white, look amongst themselves and then spontaneously stand and applaud, some holding up their arms in victory. More cheers from all.

You were not supposed to do that.

Laughter and cheers.

Thank you very much. Thank you very much. All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before.

All cheer, stand and applaud, many looking at the female legislators.

Don't sit yet. You are going to like this.

Laughter.

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.

All cheer, stand and applaud. Many of the Democrat women give each other "high-fives". Chants of "USA" break out from the gallery. All join in and the Democrat women clap along with the chant.

That's great.

Laughter.

Very great.

Cheers, exclamations.

And congratulations. That's great. 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.

Applause.

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

Republicans and some Democrats cheer, stand and applaud.

Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods — and now our Treasury is receiving billions of dollars a month from — 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.

Republicans stand and applaud.

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 like they have not had delivered to for a long time. I hope you can pass the USMCA into law so we can bring back our manufacturing jobs in greater numbers, expand American agriculture, protect intellectual property, and ensure that more cars are proudly stamped with our four beautiful words — "made in the USA".

Republicans and some Democrats stand and applaud.

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.

Republicans stand and applaud.

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

All stand and applaud.

I know that 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. The next major priority for me, and for all of us, should be to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs — and to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.

All stand and applaud.

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

Republicans applaud.

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 will stop it. And we will stop it fast.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

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. Finally

Many Republicans applaud.

We should also require drug companies, insurance companies, and hospitals to disclose real prices to foster competition and bring costs way down.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

No force in history has done more to advance the human condition than American freedom. 
In recent years . . .

Republicans cheer, whoop, stand and applaud. Some Democrats stand and applaud.

. . . 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. We have made incredible strides. Incredible.

All stand and applaud.

Together, we will defeat AIDS in America. And beyond.

Applause

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

All stand and applaud.

Joining Melania in the gallery this evening is a very brave 10-year-old girl, Grace Eline.

Miss Eline stands, smiles and waves. All stand and applaud.
Every birthday . . . Hi, Grace.

Miss Eline waves back. Laughter.

Every birthday since she was 4, grace asked her friends to donate to St. Jude children's hospital. She did not know that one day she might be a patient herself. That's what happened. 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.

All cheer, stand and applaud.

When Grace completed treatment last fall, her doctors and nurses cheered — they love her, they still love her. With tears in their eyes as she hung up a poster that read, "last day of chemo."

All cheer, stand and applaud.

Thank you, Grace. You are a great inspiration to everyone in this room. Thank you very much. Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My budget will ask Congress for 500 million dollars over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research.To help support working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for American's children.

Republicans stand and applaud.

I am also proud to be the first president to include in my budget a plan for nationwide paid family leave (exclamation from audience) — so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.

All cheer, stand and applaud.

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 stated he would execute a baby after birth. 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 the mother's womb.

Loud exclamations and cheers from the Republicans who stand and applaud. Virtually every Democrat remains seated and silent.

Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth — all children — born and unborn— are made in the holy image of God. 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 dollars last year and 716 billion dollars this year. We are also getting other nations to pay their fair share.

Many Republicans  and a few Democrats stand and applaud.

Finally.


For years, the United States was being treated very unfairly by friends of ours, by members of NATO, but now we have secured over the last couple of years more than 100 billion dollars increase in defense spending from NATO allies. They said it could not be done.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

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 and the rules to the letter, Russia repeatedly violated its terms. It has been going on for many years. That is why I announced that the United States is officially withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, or INF treaty.

Republicans stand and applaud.

Perhaps . . . We really have no choice. 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.

Republicans stand and applaud.

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 (murmurings) we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea.

Murmurings, applause from some Republicans.

Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27th and 28th in Vietnam.

Applause.

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

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud. Many Democrats stand or applaud.

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.

Applause.

Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country.

A few boos.

America was founded on liberty and independence - not government coercion, domination, and control.

Republicans cheer, whoop, stand and applaud. As far as I can tell, virtually all Democrats remain silent and seated.

We are born free, and we will stay free.

Chants of "USA!"

Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.

All Republicans cheer, stand and applaud. Some Democrats stand and applaud. Chants of "USA!" again break out.

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 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.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

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 dollars in the Middle East. As a candidate for president, I loudly pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars.

Republicans stand and applaud. Some democrats stand or applaud.

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 blood-thirsty monsters. 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 if possible a political settlement in Afghanistan. The opposing side is also very happy to be negotiating. Our troops have fought with unmatched valor — and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a possible political solution to this long and bloody conflict.

Applause. Some stand.

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's presence and focus on counterterrorism. And we will indeed focus on counterterrorism. We do not know whether we'll achieve an agreement — but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace. And the other side would like to do the same thing. It's time.

Applause. Some Democrats stand.

Above all, friend and foe alike must never doubt this nation's power and will to defend our people. 18 years ago, violent terrorists attacked the USS Cole — and last month American forces killed one of the leaders of that attack.

All stand and applaud.

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.

Mr. Wibberley stands. All stand and applaud.

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.

Republicans cheer, stand and applaud.

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.

Republicans and many Democrats stand and applaud.

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. And he was very successful. Timothy has just had his 12th surgery and he is going in for many more, but he made the trip to be here with us tonight. Officer Matson, please.

Officer Matson stands. All cheer, stand and applaud.

Thank you. We are forever grateful. Thank you very much. Tonight, we are also joined by Pittsburgh survivor Judah Samet.

Mr Samet stands.

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.

Mr. Samet waves and blows a kiss. All cheer stand and applaud. The song "Happy Birthday" breaks out and most of the crowd joins in. Mr. Samet yells "Thank You!"

They would not do that for me, Judah.

Laughter.

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, it's the Americans."

All cheer, stand and applaud. Mr. Samet stands again.

Thank you. A second Holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau. 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. They came down from heaven.”

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.

Mr. Kaufman and Mr. Zeitchik stand. All stand and applaud.
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 is very much appreciated. Thank you very much.

All stand and applaud, again. Mr. Kaufman and Mr. Zeitchik salute and wave. 

Thank you. 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. Everything that has come since — our triumph over communism, our giant leaps of science and discovery, our unrivaled progress towards 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, and defeat fascism, to secure civil rights, and to face down evil empires.

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? 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 conquered the unknown.

This is the time to reignite 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, and God bless America. Thank you very much.

All Republicans and some others cheer, stand and applaud.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The True Meaning and Context of that Koran Quote in the Vatican's New Document - "whoever kills a person is like one who kills the whole of humanity"

Francis and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan review a line of Muslim warriors at Abu Dhabi Airport

Yesterday, we pointed out that the Vatican's "Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together" was co-signed by a Muslim scholar who advocates punishing apostates from Islam with death.

The Document has already become infamous for a number of other reasons, including that it contained the obviously blasphemous and heretical claim (for a Catholic) that the "plurality and diversity" of religions are "willed by God in His wisdom."

But it also paraphrases an oft-quoted verse in the Koran:
In the name of innocent human life that God has forbidden to kill, affirming that whoever kills a person is like one who kills the whole of humanity, and that whoever saves a person is like one who saves the whole of humanity [this is the Document's gloss on part of Sura 5:32]
This is perhaps the most misunderstood and mis-cited claim in the entire Koran, though the reasons for that are clear - it seems to indicate that Islam is a "religion of peace", against murder and terrorism, etc.

Muslims have a clear incentive to roll this quote out at every opportunity when addressing Western audiences, and Western pro-Muslim apologists obviously have every reason to repeat it ad nauseam.

The Vatican just reproduced it in an official Church document.

The whole thing is a crock.

Far from being a peaceful prohibition against murder, Sura 5:32 originally functioned merely as a Koranic attack (yet another) on the Jews. And the rest of Sura 5 goes on to explicitly endorse, among other things, war and terrorism against non-Muslims.

I hope readers will indulge me if I again reprint an earlier Mahound's Paradise post, this time from 5 July, 2016.

On that Fake Koran Quote, "if anyone slew a person, it would be as if he slew all mankind"

"If anyone slew a person..."

After each horrific Muslim terrorist attack, apologists for Islam - Muslim and non-Muslim - can be counted on to trot out this alleged excerpt from the Koran:
If anyone slew a person, it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity.
It sounds like a lovely piece of mystical Eastern wisdom, doesn't it? The problem is, the alleged excerpt doesn't appear in the Koran in precisely that form, and the context in which it does appear might surprise you.

First, a bit of background. Some imagine that the Koran systematically lays out a coherent ethical system. It does not. That's not a criticism per se - the New Testament is also not systematic in that sense - but it is important to note. Often critics of Islam are accused of taking the nasty sounding bits of the Koran out of context. But it is actually the apologists that almost always do this, and almost always for a non-Muslim audience that is largely unfamiliar with the Koran.

The alleged quote comes from Verse 32, Sura (or Chapter) 5 of the Koran - whose title is variously translated as "The Food," "The Repast," "The Dinner Table" and so on. There are two themes to the sura. The first is a fairly detailed exposition on what is and what is not permitted for a Muslim regarding food and the killing of animals.

But the bulk of it is on relations between Muslims and various non-Muslims groups - Jews, Christians, Polytheists and Pagans. The sura is almost uniformly hostile - in places aggressively and violently so - towards non-Muslims, which makes it all the more notable that apologists use one of its verses to argue that "Islam is a religion of peace."

To recap, the excerpt allegedly says:
If anyone slew a person, it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity.
But what does 5:32 actually say?
On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person - unless it be in retaliation for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.
(I have highlighted the parts that aren't usually cited).
The context is a discussion of a somewhat embellished version of the story of Cain and Abel - the murder of Abel is the precise slaying in question - which began six verses earlier. The context of that is a sort of list of various occasions where the Jews did bad things.

Thus, the context is actually yet another Koranic attack (of which there are literally hundreds) on those perfidious Jews. Allah originally ordained the rule in question for "the Children of Israel" and (as the previous verses make clear) they disobeyed him. Typical Jews.

Many commentators also view it as a warning to contemporary Jews.

Of course, even if the moral rule is meant to apply generally (which a number of other verses arguably contradict), the real verse contains an exception that you could drive a truck bomb through - or for spreading mischief in the land.

To underline the point, here is the very next verse (5:33):
The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter; Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case, know that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
That's right, the very next verse after "if anyone slew a person..." is a prescription for carrying out ISIS-style punishments on those who - as traditionally interpreted by Muslim scholars - resist or oppose the spread of Islam.

The rest of Sura 5 contains a number of other interesting verses, which strangely you never hear about alongside 5:32. For example, Verse 51:
O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors.
Another verse tells us that Allah punished some of the Jews by turning them into apes and pigs (5:60).

As if to rub it in, another verse tells us that Christians aren't as bad as Jews. It's the Jews and Pagans who are the worst. (Presumably when this late sura was released, Muhammed was strategically trying to cozy up to some Christian tribe.)
Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant (5:82).
Tucked into the anti-infidel stuff is a command to cut off the hands of thieves (5:38). Then we're back to rules about eating and the killing of animals interspersed with a few additional pokes against Christians for thinking Jesus was God.

Sura 5 and specifically Verse 33
was among the primary texts used by Muhammed to justify (before and after the fact) the assassination of opponents - the satirical poetess Asma Bint Marwan was impaled with a sword as she was nursing her child - and his aggressive military campaigns on the Arabian peninsula to conquer or wipe out all non-Muslims - such as for example, the Jews of Khaybar.

That apologists use a bowdlerized version of 5:32 for their "Religion of Peace" claim is ironic.

Ironic in a sick way.

As some readers may already been aware, the "as if they had killed there whole world" idea isn't exactly original with Muhammad. He got it from somewhere else. I'll look at that in Part 2.

[I never did that Part 2, which is why I edited that out of the new title. Maybe now I can finally deliver it.]