Between incessant waves of applause breaks and standing ovations, President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address Tuesday night. Boasting about economic growth and military prowess, the president made several misleading statements while failing to disclose numerous politically inconvenient facts.
“Let me start with the economy and a basic fact,” Obama stated on Tuesday. “The United States of America right now has the strongest, most durable economy in the world.”
Compared to China’s recent economic instability and Russia’s rampant military spending, the U.S. economy appears slightly more stable while continuing to recover from the 2008 financial crisis. But according to the U.S. National Debt Clock, the U.S. National Debt currently stands at more than $18.8 trillion with federal spending continuing to rise.
“It’s not too much of a stretch to say some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job in the same place with a health and a retirement package for 30 years are sitting in this chamber,” Obama momentarily paused as arrogant laughter and adulation filled the room. “For everyone else, especially folks in their 40s and 50s, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher.”
While briefly addressing wealth inequality and the necessity of immediate campaign finance reform, the president also called for strengthening Social Security and Medicare programs. Praising Vice President Joe Biden for his work with cancer research, Obama suggested leading a path toward obtaining a cure for cancer.
“For the loved ones we’ve all lost,” Obama declared. “For the families that we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer for once and for all. What do you say, Joe?”
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), cannabis has been studied in the clinic and found that it may have benefits in treating the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of cancer therapies. Cannabis has also been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory. Although the FDA has approved two cannabinoids (dronabinol and nabilone) for the prevention and treatment of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, the FDA still has not approved cannabis as a cancer treatment.
While supporting the need for more scientific research on cannabinoids, the American Cancer Society recognizes the necessity “for better and more effective therapies that can overcome the often debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment. The Society also believes that the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration imposes numerous conditions on researchers and deters scientific study of cannabinoids. Federal officials should examine options consistent with federal law for enabling more scientific study on marijuana.”
Although cancer researchers have found that cannabis kills cancer cells, the labeling of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, classified as dangerous as heroin or meth, has prevented further research into a possible cure. Instead of pledging millions of taxpayer dollars to big pharma, the federal government could simply stop caging people for possessing this amazing plant and let doctors and scientist experiment with its potential to cure cancer.
Changing the subject to national security, Obama stated, “Now as someone who every day receives an intelligence briefing, I know this is a dangerous time.”
On September 10, 2012, an op-ed from The Washington Post accused the president of missing over half of his daily intelligence meetings. Two days later, the Post published a second op-ed by another opinion writer claiming Obama had not missed more than half of his intelligence briefings because the president no longer has daily intelligence meetings.
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“Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks,” Obama continued, while ignoring the fact that the U.S. has a history of arming and funding terrorist organizations. An investigation by renowned journalist Seymour Hersh recently uncovered that the CIA secretly armed and funded several extremist groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, in an attempt to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“With nearly 10,000 air strikes, we’re taking out their leadership, their oil, their training camps, their weapons,” Obama stated, while failing to include the bombings of hospitals, weddings, tribal council meetings, and at least eight U.S. citizens with no concern for due process or a constitutionally mandated fair trial. The Obama administration is also responsible for allowing the CIA to deploy drone strikes against a Yemeni wedding and a Pakistani tribal council meeting with total impunity.
On October 3, 2015, a U.S. airstrike killed at least 20 patients and MSF staff at a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, occupied by the group Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the French charitable organization, “Doctors Without Borders.” On January 10, Saudi-led coalition forces bombed another MSF-supported hospital in Yemen, killing at least five people.
“When you come after Americans, we go after you,” Obama asserted after invoking the missing corpse of Osama bin Laden. “And it may take time, but we have long memories and our reach has no limits.”
That statement is factually inaccurate. Far from omnipotent, the U.S. government has failed to capture its countless "enemies." According to CIA agent Frank Sturges, the Agency failed on numerous occasions to assassinate Fidel Castro. NSA whistleblower hero, and enemy of the state, Edward Snowden continues to reside at an undisclosed location in Moscow. And the Justice Department has failed to extradite Julian Assange in connection with Chelsea Manning’s conviction.
Returning to the subject of the economy, Obama stated, “That’s how we forged a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open markets and protect workers and the environment and advance American leadership in Asia. It cuts 18,000 taxes on products made in America, which will then support more good jobs here in America. With TPP, China does not set the rules in that region. We do.”
Buried within the TPP is a provision that would undermine U.S. sovereignty in favor of multinational corporations. Instead of protecting workers and the environment, the provision allows foreign corporations to bypass U.S. courts if they are caught breaking the law. If the company manufactured an illegal toxic chemical responsible for poisoning its employees and contaminating the local environment, the American taxpayers would be held responsible for paying the damages.
Immediately following the State of the Union address, MSF Executive Director Jason Cone responded, “The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is gravely concerned about the impact that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will have on access to medicines around the world. In his comments on the TPP tonight, the President continued to promote a trade deal that will export the policies that have made medicines unaffordable in the U.S. to close to half a billion people around the world.”
“The TPP will lock-in high, unsustainable drug prices, delay the availability of price-lowering generic medicines, and price much-needed medical care out of the reach of millions of people,” Cone wrote.
“MSF continues to urge the US government to remove harmful provisions for access to medicines from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement before it is too late. If these provisions are not removed, the TPP will be the most damaging trade agreement ever for access to medicines,” Cone concluded.
Instead of blowing hot air to a room of his elite peers for an hour, Obama could have saved time and done the US and the rest of the world a favor by simply firing everyone and then quitting.