OPERATION ROLLING ORANGE PRIVILEGE: DOWNHILL, BACKWARDS, ON SKATES
Picking up plus-or-minus where we left Orange Privilege a fort-night ago, the Trump administration continues with all the focus and purpose of a beach ball at a Phish concert. Excepting that such a beach ball would be inflated with good will and kept aloft by nice people.
This segment’s theme is best put by one of Trump’s top aides, remarking after the ballyhooed address to Congress “For once, we had the wind at our sails . . .We decided not to shit on ourselves.” Until, of course, the new Attorney General fired up the shit show again.
Despite incessant bragging and bullying that make Trump come off like the Foghorn-Leghorn of Queens, NY, let’s be clear: Donald John Trump has not served so much as a minute in any actual, fighting military. His teen years spent towel-snapping at the New York Military Academy during Vietnam prior to his five medical draft deferments do not count, and no appreciable military knowledge appears to have leached into his skull.
Trump made this quite plain for all to see when he wondered aloud why the U.S. doesn’t just use its nukes and why he shouldn’t spread ‘em around to other countries; when he had no clue what the nuclear triad was; when he spoke of the most successful military alliance for peace in human history as if it were a dysfunctional condo association with a few slow-pay members.
It again became apparent when he appointed a known head-case and paranoid malcontent, the now-fired Michael Flynn of the 24 days, as national security adviser. The lack of martial instinct may also be seen in Trump’s approval of the ill-fated Yemen raid, an operation he green-lighted not from the situation room, but at the dinner table.
Worse still, it was painfully obvious Tuesday Night when Trump shamelessly exploited the widow of a fallen Navy Seal in service to himself and his feud with the man’s grieving father, a Gold-Star parent who knows his son perished in part for the cause of impulsivity.
And yet, the disrespect, the blithe incuriosity, the sheer ignorance of the biggest part of his job persists.
Six days after Flynn was forced out over repeated, undisclosed meetings with the Russians, Trump appointed Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster to the vacant post. And four days after that, McMaster advised Trump “at an all-hands meeting of the National Security Council . . . jihadist terrorists aren’t true to their professed religion and that the use of the phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ doesn’t help the US in working with allies to defeat terrorist groups,” as was confirmed by CNN.
So what happened next? “We are going to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country,” crowed Trump to the nerd-prom attendees at the CPAC show less than 24 hours later. Both Drs. Dunning and Kruger couldn’t make this stuff up.
Trump finished his defense department debacle tour with a flourish, pitching a $54 billion increase in military spending, a move roundly panned in an open letter from 120 retired admirals and generals; this against a backdrop of flame-outs for the secretaries of both the Army and Navy. Lastly, Trump relished the chance to play sailor aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford, the world’s most advanced eventual fighting vessel still under construction since 2005.
“We will have the finest equipment in the world. Planes, ships and everything else,” said Trump from the deck of an incomplete ship two years behind schedule and $2.4 billion over budget.
What a difference a day makes
The aforementioned Tuesday Night found Trump making his first address to Congress, in a speech even CNN’s Van Jones could love. “That was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period, and he did something extraordinary,” cooed the overexposed Jones in post-game. “Donald Trump did indeed become presidential tonight, and I think we’ll see that reflected in a higher approval rating,” echoed Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Indeed. And despite numerous inaccuracies, lies, damn lies and fake statistics on topics ranging from Middle East military costs to immigration to claiming nearly 100 million Americans (one-third our total population) are still looking for work, Trump more than pleased his base and a queasy GOP. And that glow lasted as long as a pony keg at a frat party.
Early Wednesday Night came confirmation from the Department of Justice that Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions had twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during last year’s campaign. Worse yet, while any Russia love is under heightened suspicion these days, Sessions had compounded the sin by repeatedly lying about it during his confirmation process.
In response to Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) clear question regarding “any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign,” Sessions, under oath, replied, “I’m not aware of any of those activities.” Ruh-roh.
The push-back from both the White House and much of the GOP ranged from misdirection to reality-denial. “There’s nothing to recuse himself (over), he was 100 percent straight with the committee, and I think people who are choosing to play partisan politics with this should be ashamed of themselves,” a pugnacious Sean Spicer quipped. “Total witch hunt!” his boss chirped.
“There’s no way I think he lied in the hearing. Not at all. That’s a false narrative. I completely reject it,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-SC). “What we are seeing is a lot of political theater,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) Thursday Morning, adding the episode was a “nothing-burger.” But despite best efforts, within hours the nothing burger became a barbecued crow-sandwich as Sessions beat a mealy-mouthed retreat, recusing himself from “any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.”
Rounding third here, perhaps even more ominous was the second Russia-love story broken Wednesday, to wit the Times reported intel from British, Dutch and other sources confirming meetings in Europe between Russian officials and representatives of Trump’s campaign and transition teams.
This within the context of a recent evidence-preservation letter from the Senate Intelligence Committee to the White House, prompted John Dean to tweet “Hey Donald, a tip: Cover-ups don’t get easier as they proceed. Russia tie leaks drown your joint session speech in less than 24 hrs.” Yup.
Don’t just pout, Tweet it out
In a pattern as predictable as it is pathetic, Trump responded to all of the above truths with a tirade of memorable tweets. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” he exclaimed in the wee hours of Saturday from Mar-a-Lago.
“Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” He then asked his 20 million-member Twitter legal team “How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
“Just nonsense,” said one former senior US intelligence official, dismissing the wiretap accusations. Another former senior US official with direct knowledge of FISA investigations said Trump’s phones were never tapped. “This did not happen. It is false. Wrong.” Going Tweet-for-Tweet, former deputy-NSC adviser Ben Rhodes retorted “No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.”
Forced yet again to back up his boss’s tantrums, Sean Spicer demanded Congress investigate the Obama Administration and warned “Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted.” This is akin to a little boy lighting the sofa on fire, then demanding he be given a new pony before the fire gets put out.
Now 43 days into this nonsense, I still can’t for the life of me imagine a world where Barack Obama, or any of the other previous 43 Presidents could get away with a single day of this crap.
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