Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
Everyone knows that the proper response to “how do I get to Carnegie Hall?” is “practice.” Baseball’s all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, once said, “my father taught me that the only way you can make good at anything is to practice, and then practice some more.” And kung fu legend Bruce Lee promised that, “after a long time of practicing, our work will become natural, skillful, swift, and steady.”
Benjamin Franklin is believed to have coined the phrase, “practice makes perfect.” But that cliché raises a question: How might one explain the Trump regime’s inability to lie convincingly?
According to The Washington Post’s fact-checker, which “analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement he has uttered,” Donald Trump had made 15,413 “false or misleading claims” through December 10 of last year. During the previous two months, he had averaged 32 lies per day so he’s probably closing in on 16,000 as of this writing. He lies about important things, but he also lies about meaningless stuff–like the size of the crowds at his inauguration or whether a hurricane was likely to hit Alabama. And that doesn’t count all of the bullshit that members of his cabinet and a series of hapless press secretaries have offered to the American public. Imagine what the total would be including their mendacity, and then consider that they don’t even conduct press briefings anymore.
And yet small children caught in the act of stealing sweets are better liars than this crew of miscreants. Their floundering attempts to justify Trump’s drone attack on Iranian general Qassim Suleimani at the Baghdad airport is just the latest example. A US defense official told The New York Times that “intelligence indicated [that it was] ‘a normal Monday in the Middle East’ — Dec. 30 — and General Suleimani’s travels amounted to ‘business as usual’,” but Trump and his apologists have lurched from one story of imminent threat to another. “Again and again,” reported CNN, “Trump’s national security officials have contradicted each other about how imminent a threat Qasem Soleimani posed, whether they had specific intelligence on the threat and even what that threat was, with Trump saying one thing then another, while officials offered varying explanations.”
Trump has most recently settled on the claim that Suleimani was planning to attack four US embassies, which nobody but the members of his cult could possibly take seriously given his track record and all the fumbling around for a justification that preceded it.
Why couldn’t they just get their stories straight? Are they just lazy? Is it impossible to coordinate their messaging because Trump’s short attention span doesn’t permit it? Or do they simply not care about being viewed credibly outside the Fox News bubble because they know their nonsense will be well-received within it?
Trump claims someone told him it was the best briefing they’ve ever seen in ten years. He then claims someone else told him it was the best briefing they’ve ever seen in twenty years. pic.twitter.com/fjFirkB4JU
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) January 11, 2020
It’s a mystery, but one thing is clear: Lying over and over again all the time doesn’t hone one’s skills at deception. Apparently, practice doesn’t always make perfect.
Speaking of Trump’s blundering Mideast policy, The New York Times reported that “the American-led coalition in Iraq and Syria halted its yearslong campaign against the Islamic State” while it prepared for retaliation from Iran, and that’s not the only problem plaguing the fight against what is widely regarded as among most brutal terror organizations in the world…
THREAD: Over the past few days, I’ve spoken extensively with career U.S. government officials as they’ve worked around the clock to try and mitigate the damage from Trump’s ineptitude on Iran. With their permission, I’m sharing a small taste from our lengthy conversations. Enjoy.
— Reza Marashi (@rezamarashi) January 6, 2020
“We have no functional national security decision-making process in place. We have no plan for what comes next. They are woefully unprepared for what’s about to pop off, and they’re too stupid to realize it. People here are freaking out, and rightfully so.”
— Reza Marashi (@rezamarashi) January 6, 2020
As you probably know, a group of red state attorneys general are trying to get the courts to kill the Affordable Care Act based on the ludicrous argument that Congress zeroing out the penalty for not carrying insurance coverage rendered the whole enchilada unconstitutional. And the Trump regime is on board, refusing to defend the law.
But they don’t want the highest court in the land to hear the case before the election. Politico reports that in a filing this week, they “argued the Supreme Court has no pressing need to intervene since the law remains in effect while it’s on appeal.”
If you’re sensing a pattern here, you’re not alone.
“The Trump administration is seeking to delay a Democratic effort to require the Secret Service to disclose how much it spends protecting President Trump and his family when they travel — until after the 2020 election,” reported WaPo.
Remember that most of those taxpayer dollars are being dropped at Trump’s own properties and end up in his pocket.
Speaking of which, ProPublica reports that “New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that he had asked Manhattan’s district attorney to investigate discrepancies… between what President Donald Trump’s company reported in filings to city tax officials and what it reported in loan filings. The discrepancies made his properties seem more profitable to a lender and less profitable to the city’s tax authorities.”
NBC reports: “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday became the first governor in the country to refuse to take in refugees, but 18 of his 26 Republican counterparts have chosen to open the door to refugees, much to the surprise of the Trump administration.”
Daily Beast: “The Trump administration has been preparing to expand its travel ban — which bars individuals from seven countries from entering the US — to restrict certain immigrants from several more nations around the world, according to internal government documents.”
Note the bolded text–he’s trolling us…
Donald Trump has signed another executive order aimed at eliminating regulations that he claims are damaging to the U.S. economy, but some worry that the measure will roll back critical environmental protections.
The order, called “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” directs each government agency to create a task force to evaluate existing federal regulations and recommend whether they should be kept, repealed or modified.
The president was flanked by leaders of major U.S. corporations, including Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson, Dow Chemical Co. and Campbell Soup.
Dow Chemical Co. chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris, who leads Trump’s advisory council on manufacturing and received the presidential signing pen. Just yesterday, Liveris praised the Trump administration for being “the most pro-business administration since the Founding Fathers.” [Via: EcoWatch]
After 31 years in the United States, a country where she had built a life and raised three children, including a son now in the United States Army, Ms. Gomez was deported to Tijuana, Mexico, where she had little family left.
That son, Second Lt. Gibram Cruz, 30, who has been in the Army for five years and rushed to be with her the day after Christmas, said he was “shocked” at the way his mother was treated and called the actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement “completely inhumane.”
Ms. Gomez, 51, was previously scheduled to self deport and that plan was known to ICE, the family’s lawyer, Tessa Cabrera, said on Friday.
Instead, as the family went to an ICE office to discuss her case, Ms. Gomez was taken across the border to Tijuana without a chance to say goodbye, Ms. Cabrera said. [NYT]
Speaking of cruelty being the point, if history is any guide, this will probably cost more to administer than it saves from kicking people off of their benefits.
Some Americans could lose Social Security Disability Insurance benefits under a recent Trump administration proposal ― a change that could affect thousands of people but that has received little attention since it was first floated in November.
Under the proposed change, the government would look more closely at whether certain disability insurance recipients still qualify as “disabled” after they’ve already been awarded those benefits. While recipients already have to demonstrate their continuing disability every few years, the proposal would ramp up the examinations, potentially running still-eligible beneficiaries out of the program. [Via: The Huffington Post]
They’ll still vote for him…
The state of Wisconsin, famous for its cheese, lost 10% of its dairy farms in 2019, Dairy Herd Management reported on Thursday. The loss of 818 dairies was the largest decline in Wisconsin history.
Trouble for dairy farmers started in 2018, when Donald Trump engaged in a protracted trade war with China. In retaliation for increased tariffs from the United States, China placed tariffs on a number of U.S. agricultural exports. [American Independent]
And the story that should have gotten more attention this week, given how significant it was in helping Trump get elected, was that the Justice Department probe of the investigation into Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One that Donald Trump promised would unearth all sorts of serious crimes turned up bupkis, because of course it did. More details at The Washington Post.