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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Alex Shephard, New Republic: It's hard to accurately characterize President Donald Trump's habit of making consistently false, frequently self-contradictory, often hypocritical, and always flamboyant statements. No word quite captures their all-encompassing magnitude, their frequency, and, often, their sheer pointlessness. "Lies" is always a good place to start, but in Trump's case it only begins to cover the problem. "Bull---" is too cute for the rolling crisis we find ourselves in. "Gaslighting" implies that something strategic is happening, and Trump appears to be working on pure intuition. We don't have the language to convey how serious the president's lies -- or obfuscations or exaggerations or feints or whatever else you want to call them -- are. read more

A former ethics chief in the George W. Bush administration condemned President Donald Trump's mishandling of calls to families of fallen soldiers, and said Trump lacks compassion because he ducked his own military service.

Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer, told CNN on Wednesday night that Trump's public references to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's son, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, were "atrocious."

"He has no empathy, no understanding of the human emotions of what people go through because he never did it himself, he stayed home during Vietnam with his sore foot or whatever it was," Painter said. "What he's done to Gen. Kelly is atrocious."

Trump's medical deferment for bone spurs in his feet in the 1960s allowed him to avoid being drafted for Vietnam service. He couldn't remember which foot was affected when asked about it in 2015. His campaign said it was both. read more

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

In normal, non-Trumpian times, it might come as a surprise to learn that the president of the United States had offered to personally send a grieving military father $25,000 to make up for the loss of his dead son. It would be even more shocking to learn that after making that strange, unusual promise, he never actually followed through. Obviously, though, these past 10 months have not been normal times. The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump, who has spent the last week falsely claiming that he‘s "called every family of somebody that's died" since he became president, did both of those things earlier this year. read more

If this doesn't wake up the Republicans, what will? read more

Trump in a tweet Wednesday denied that he had told the widow of a soldier killed in an ambush in Africa this month that her husband "must have known what he signed up for."

But the mother of the fallen soldier stood behind the account, saying that Trump "did disrespect" the family with his comments during a phone call. read more


"Speaking of the Republicans, let's be honest here. Americans learned the name La David Johnson mostly this morning, two weeks after he was killed," Tomasky writes. " But here's a question that isn't stupid: When do you think Americans would have learned Sergeant Johnson's name if Hillary Clinton were in the White House?"

I'll tell you when. Two weeks ago. We'd already have been hearing for those two weeks that Clinton was responsible for his death, because there wasn't sufficient air cover (which was true in this case) or for a host of other reasons. There'd be Niger hearings up and running. The politicization of Johnson's death would be off to the races. And imagine if President Clinton had waited two weeks to call Myeshia Johnson? Hoo boy.

And all that would be on top of the renewed Benghazi hearings (which they promised last fall in the event of a Clinton win), and the email hearings (which they also promised), and the Harvey Weinstein hearings (hey, they'd have found a way).

So no, let's not look to them to save us from this man. Although maybe this will spur some of the party's still living but retired elder statesmen and women to say "enough." One hopes against hope. Meanwhile, the candidate who made fun of physically handicapped people, joked that Second Amendment enthusiasts might want to take aim at his opponent, launched a racist tirade against a federal judge, and mocked a grieving Gold Star mother has just belittled a soldier's service to his bereft widow, with two small children and a third on the way.

Unless of course he has the proof! Right. But speaking of proof, here's some proof the president could make public. His tax returns. His records of business dealings with Russia. The Apprentice Tapes. If he's as clean as he says, why not?
The world he is creating, which he has the power to create because he's the president of the United States, is a world where every known moral law is turned upside down. We're headed to a very dark place.

From the essay:

The effects of this war on knowledge extend beyond the borders of the United States. The policy to cut the admission of refugees contradicts "expert" studies demonstrating that these desperate asylum seekers are net contributors to the US economy and less of a crime risk than the general population. Even these harms pale in comparison to the havoc that America and the planet must expect from climate change. Trump not only abandoned the Paris Climate Agreement; he found in Scott Pruitt the perfect person, approved by the fossil-fuel industry, to enact his suicidal anti-environmental policies on the domestic level. The dark prince of the EPA, a department he seems to wish to dismantle, is perhaps the most dangerously ill-informed of Trump's appointees. He has already insisted that carbon dioxide is not the "primary contributor to the global warming that we see," withdrawn requests for oil and gas companies to report sources of methane emissions, rejected a petition to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, and gutted the climate science advisory council of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the body that studies rising sea levels and helps predict hurricanes.
Still more urgently apocalyptic than these policies is the "oppressive ignorance" -- to borrow Tom Nichols's phrase from The Death of Expertise -- President Trump has displayed when he threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea. Trump evidently neither knows nor cares that such an action would violate the Geneva Conventions, the conclusions of the Nuremberg Tribunal, and the UN Charter. It is frightening that this felonious stupidity has not aroused more revulsion among US citizens. Until recently, about eighty percent of Republicans who voted for Trump still supported him, and 55 percent of Americans believe he is "intelligent" (although that is the only favorable result for Trump in an otherwise dismal report card of negative views).

"This is what it looks like when your government cares more about ratings than results," writes Justin Roasario at The Daily Banter.

Not that he needed to, of course. It's obvious that in an administration obsessed with the illusion of competence (just the illusion, mind you, becuase actual competence is hard!), any information that casts them in a bad light is to be disappeared down the memory hole as rapidly as possible. 6 months from now, when power and water are fully restored (hopefully), Trump will go on television and tell the world that Puerto Rico barely suffered any hardship at all and anyone that says otherwise, including the Puerto Ricans themselves, is lying to you.

It's impossible to convey how dangerous this willingness to hide damaging facts from the public is. Republicans already wage a war on facts by removing references to sea level rise and climate change from government reports but the Trump administration is taking it to unprecedented new levels, literally deleting its own data that contradict its preferred messaging. This is not how a free and open democracy works. This is how a classic dictatorship operates.

And it will only get worse the longer they get away with it.

Puerto Rico is still a humanitarian crisis and Trump must be held accountable for his appallingly slow response. He's going to direct his lackeys to rewrite history and bury the truth both at the top of their lungs and as quietly as possible. We cannot let that happen. The suffering 3.5 million American citizens are going through because of Trump's racism and incompetence deserves to be seen and heard, not silenced and erased.

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