Saturday, December 1, 2018



I know I’ve said I would refrain from nominating President Trump for any future IGGY awards. He is a certified ignominious person, worthy of a lifetime, not just a monthly, award. With the midterm election focusing so much attention on the Trumpster, the mass media seems to have lost interest in reporting on the usual array of absurdities from others. Trump lies and absurdities on anything from tariffs, to wildfires, to international events, to alleged election fraud, and, of course, on Russia, have dominated November news cycles.  Such a record, horrific to most of us, is fuel for Trump; it plays right into his hands. He thrives on adversaries, loves the fight, and welcomes news that’s about him. In devouring everything Trump, the media has been complicit in boosting his popularity among his base, if not beyond. I’ve tried to avoid this Trump trap but have not been very successful.

I’ve decided to devote the November IGGY exclusively to Trump absurdities. This will mark the last time I will include any of his false, deceitful, racist, xenophobic, insulting pronouncements for IGGY recognition—at least I will strive to make it the last time. I wish journalists with wide followings would do the same. Why continue to make him the story? (I’d love to see CNN and other media outlets boycott the White House in protest of Jim Acosta’s banning.) Nothing would piss off Trump more than losing his megaphone.

November was a big month for Trumpian lies, misrepresentations, insults, recriminations and hair-brainers. But, really, it was no different from other months. I’m including six below, but I could have listed several more, like his comment on climate change that he trusts his non-believing gut more than the brains of scientists, his declaration of a political victory in using force against asylum seekers on the Mexican border, his assertion that he wouldn’t take a pardon for the lying, deceitful Paul Manafort “off the table,” and his insistence that the Saudi crown prince cannot, with certainty, be blamed for the death of the journalist Jamai Khashoggi, despite the contrary conclusion from his own intelligence community. With this acknowledgment, I offer the following November Trumpian ignominious absurdities. For this month, I'm calling it the TRIGGY.

1. President Donald Trump.  The outright lies continue. I’ll pass over all the false statements he made about the midterm election, and claims that he did not know Mathew Whitaker before appointing him as Attorney general, and focus here on his latest whopper on China. At a news conference, the president answered a question about healing national divides by saying that he had forced China to back down from a plan to strengthen its manufacturing industry.

After declaring that because of his tariffs China had suspended its so called “China-25” plan to bestow greater privileges on its own companies over foreign competitors in the Chinese market, and would now not “supersede the U.S. economy in two years as he falsely claimed Beijing boasted, he went on to say:

“But I have to say this: Billions of dollars will soon be pouring into our Treasury from taxes that China is paying for us.”

Of course, this is a blatant falsehood. When the U.S. places tariffs on Chinese imports, China doesn’t pay them. American importers do, and this usually means passing along the extra costs to American consumers. Things will worsen when/if the spiraling trade war leads to even higher tariffs. The only thing that appears to be "pouring" is the exodus of American jobs.  So long GM.

2. More Trump. The ignominious one didn’t miss a beat in once again criticizing California for what he called “gross mismanagement” of the state’s forests, saying :

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.”

Somebody needs to tell Trump that California’s current wildfires are not forest fires. The Camp and Woolsey fires, which are ravaging Northern and Southern California, began in areas known known as the wildland-urban interface: places that are close to undeveloped areas, making it easier for fire to move from forests or grasslands into neighborhoods. People are moving into urban-wildland interface areas, which now accounts for one in three of all homes in the U.S. Concentrations are particularly high in California.

Somebody should also tell Trump that only about 3 percent of California’s forests are owned and managed by state and local agencies, the rest being owned and managed by federal agencies (57 percent) or by families, native American tribes, and private companies, including the timber industry. It is mainly the fed that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management in California.

And somebody needs to tell Trump about climate change, because in a warming world vegetation dries out faster and burns more readily. Open fields parched by the effects of global warming are ripe for fires. Low humidity, geography, and high winds add fuel to the fires.

Of course, none of this would matter to the ignorant, close-minded Trump.

As is his custom, Trump moves on from his false claims to then punish his perceived wrong-doers. This time he’s threatening to discontinue federal financial relief to the fire-ravaged state.

Trump’s attack on California officials and environmentalists, and his threat to withhold aid to victims, is, as Brian Rice, the California Professional Firefighters president put it, ill-informed, ill-timed, and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines.”

Trump’s crass suggestion to cut off federal assistance reveals not only a troubling lack of comprehension about the cause of devastating wildfires, but also a perverse insensitivity to the crucial life-saving work being done by firefighters and relief workers.

Once again, he shows his complete lack of humanity for victims, be it of extreme weather events, shootings, or wildfires. And this man is our president.

3. Trump. President Trump has proudly boasted that his landmark diplomacy has eliminated the nuclear threat from North Korea; he’s achieved what no other President has—or could. Most informed observers have had serious doubts about Trump’s claim. Now it appears they have good reason.

New commercial satellite images have identified 16 new hidden ballistic missile bases, a network long known to American intelligence agencies but left unmentioned as President Trump claims to have neutralized the North Korean threat. It is now clear that the threat is actually getting worse. While North Korea halted flight missile tests, its production of nuclear material, new nuclear weapons, and missiles that have been placed on mobile launchers (not vulnerable underground silos), has continued. They are being hidden in mountains at the secret bases.

It appears that Trump’s love-child, Kim Jong-un, has pulled a fast one on the ignorant, gullible, self-promoting president. Could we have expected less? So intent on achieving the appearance of a landmark deal—a “peace” agreement that finally ends the Korean War—Trump appears ready to accept Kim’s token concessions--revealing a single test site, suspending some flight tests, and dismantling a few marginal things--as a sufficient condition for his “big deal.” Meanwhile Kim moves ahead with his nuclear buildup. And for this Trump expects a Nobel Peace Prize.

4. Trump. The Trumpster has a sordid history of false, bigoted, and incendiary comments about Hurricane Maria- ravaged Puerto Rico. This month he added another whopper: Now he's claiming that Puerto Rico’s government is using the federal money for disaster recovery to pay off its debts.  As he put it:

“The people of Puerto Rico are wonderful, but the inept politicians are trying to use the massive and ridiculously high amounts of hurricane/disaster funding to pay off other obligations. The U.S. will NOT bail out long outstanding & unpaid obligations with hurricane relief money!”

None of this is true. There’s no evidence that funds are being used for anything other than disaster relief. And according to Axios, there are measures in place to ensure that recovery aid does not go to paying off Puerto Rico’s debt. Congress took steps to keep disaster relief funds from being used to pay down the island's debt, and as Bloomberg reported at the time, "neither the island's leaders — nor the board installed by the U.S. to oversee its budget — are proposing using disaster recovery aid to directly pay off bondholders or other lenders."

Truth, of course, doesn’t matter when it comes to Donald Trump. This is a convenient narrative that furthers his belief that an island full of brown people (whom he either still doesn’t realize or doesn’t care are actually Americans) are corrupt, lazy grifters who don’t know how to manage their money. So, he wants to convince Congress not to give the island anymore aid and could go so far as to refuse to sign any spending bills that include money for Puerto Rico’s recovery.

This is shameful and horrific but is totally aligned with the hate and cruelty coming out of this White House. If Donald Trump really wants to find corrupt, lazy grifters who don’t know how to manage their money, he doesn’t need to look at Puerto Rico to find them. He only needs to look at his very own family. They’re the biggest fraudsters of all. It's sad that Puerto Ricans and the rest of us are stuck with them for now.

5. Trump. We’ve come to expect close elections to bring out the political vermin. As on cue, razor-thin close voting in Florida, Georgia and Arizona has instigated righteous cries of election fraud. President Trump can always be counted on to lead the most vicious attacks—always with no basis in evidence. For days he has lobbed a series of misleading and baseless claims about the midterm election results in Florida, Georgia and Arizona. His latest missive is about alleged missing and forged ballots in Florida:

“The Florida election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible—ballots massively infected. Must go with election night.”

Later he ramped his diatribe about fraudulent voting up a notch:

“When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again.” Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.”

There is absolutely no evidence supporting claims of election fraud. In Florida, election officials said they found no evidence of criminal activity. The Associated Press reported that a federal judge also said he had seen no evidence of wrong-doing in vote tallying.

Of course, none of that matters to Trump and his fellow GOP partisans. The name of the game is winning, no matter what it takes. If in striving for victory you tarnish our bedrock democratic values, soil the legitimacy of our elections, insight wing-nut partisans to spew hate and commit acts of violence, so be it. Those cheating liberals deserve what they get.

What kind of human being gives absolutely no thought to the possible harmful consequences of what he/she says or does? Donald Trump—that type.

6. Trump. President Trump didn’t skip a beat in stoking fear about a caravan of migrants streaming from Central America toward the Mexican border with the U.S. He referred to the caravan as a fearsome mix of criminal and “unknown Middle Easterners.” Our national security was in peril.

Since the midterm election he has been conspicuously silent about the danger, underscoring his true intent in ramping up fear: to exploit the migration for partisan political gain in the election. The ploy may have energized his base, but exit polling suggests it alienated independents, suburban voters, and pushed a majority of voters who made up their mind in the last three days to vote Democrat.

While the caravan has faded from the news, the costs of Trump’s deployment of American troops to the border have not. Budget officials believe it could reach $200 million if all 15,000 troops that Trump pledged are ultimately sent. Meanwhile the deployed troops have little to do other than pitch tents and string concertina wire waiting for the fictitious invaders to attack. Let’s just say, troop morale is not high.

Admiral James G. Stavridis, a former commander of the military’s Southern Command, aptly summed up the reality of the situation:”

“Now that the political utility of troops on the southern border to face a fictitious caravan invasion threat is over, let’s hope the president will stand down the troops so they can be with their families—especially over the holidays.

Trump stand down? No way. His instinct is always to double-down when challenged. Expect him to authorize active-duty troops to enforce laws inside our borders—in violation of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act which prohibited such use. Tear gas has been deployed. What’s next?
And the winner of the November TRIGGY is. of course. Donald Trump.

1 comment:

  1. I agree reporters should boycott covering the White House. Actually a black commentator suggested if/when he has another press conference the only reporters who should be there would be women, and black or brown ones! Great idea.


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