War Fever In Trump White House

We are not at the point of the 3:00 A.M. phone call in the residence of the White House which is often a talking point in presidential campaigns.  But we are probably well past two in the morning.  And that is most concerning, given what now sits in the Oval Office.

The explosions yesterday which has ratcheted up tension in the Middle East is particularly troubling given the fact Donald Trump has sought to confront and contain Iran since he took office.  He has made deals with the Saudi Kingdom which underscores the larger game plan in the region.  The international community is breathing tightly to see how the most unhinged and erratic holder of the White House will respond to this latest episode.  There was a determination yesterday to assign blame for the explosions on Iran amid skepticism about what really happened.   That mindset continues today.

But that is not the whole story, obviously.  While Trump wants to sell his version of events, it is necessary to know what actually happened.

The Japanese owner of a tanker attacked in the Gulf of Oman states that it was struck by a flying projectile, thereby contradicting reports by U.S. officials and the military on the source of the blast. U.S. Central Command said the two vessels were hit Thursday by a limpet mine, which is attached to boats below the waterline using magnets. Central Command released video it claimed showed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers, the Kokuka Courageous.

But the owner of the Courageous said sailors saw something flying toward the vessel just before the explosion and that the impact was well above the waterline. “We are absolutely sure that this wasn’t a torpedo,” he said. “I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship.”

This is all most serious.  And history is proof as to why there needs to be strict attention to facts.  The international community is most mindful of Washington’s exaggerations and outright misrepresentations of intelligence leading up to the Iraq war.  All have seen the fast and loose nature of how the Trump Administration abuses the truth and is disdainful of facts.

That last point is something I have long stressed on this blog.  The absence of truth on a daily basis from this White House is dangerous when events occur where the integrity and confidence in their leader matters.   No citizen can claim they have trust in what Trump says.  And the clock is ticking towards that morning phone call.

Hard evidence which can be shared with constituencies worldwide is the only way to proceed.  Nothing short of that will be tolerated by voters as a whole.  Not after the invasion of Iraq which was predicated on lies.

War fever warms parts of the Trump base, and there can be a political rationale as to why bombastic moves by Trump on the military front will find much appeal with that segment of the electorate. I readily admit that as a reason the Trump reelection campaign would salivate over such a policy move.

But such a drastic and costly move must not be made on anything other than absolute facts. This time we must not allow for a war based on gut feelings or a messianic complex.

Gaslighting With Sarah Huckabee Sanders

I stand with reporters, the right to be informed, knowing fully the value of the Fourth Estate.  So when it comes to Sarah Huckabee Sanders there is nothing but contempt for her on this blog.  She disgraced the office of the press secretary, the nation, and ultimately herself.   Today there is a truly worthwhile read about this matter in the Washington Post.

When Sarah Sanders said Thursday that she hopes to be remembered for her transparency and honesty, the first impulse was to laugh.

But lying to citizens while being paid by them really isn’t all that funny.

Sanders took on an impossible job when she became Trump’s spokeswoman, a job that’s about to reach a welcome conclusion.

She would claim to represent the truth on behalf of a president who lies.

She did it disrespectfully, and apparently without shame or an understanding of what the role of White House press secretary should be.

She misled reporters or tried to, and through them, misled the American people. And all with her distinctive curled-lip disdain.

Thus, she delivered on what New York University professor Jay Rosen has called the “brand promise” of the Trump administration’s treatment of the press: “Watch, we will put these people down for you.”

Her quintessential moment came in the May 11, 2017, White House press briefing in which she was skeptically questioned by Michael Shear of the New York Times about her statements that she’d heard from “countless” FBI employees about how grateful they were that Trump had fired the agency’s director, James B. Comey.

“Really?” asked Shear.

She replied without a shred of doubt, and as if Shear were the dumbest guy she’d ever seen.

“Between, like, email, text messages, absolutely. Yes,” Sanders said. “We’re not going to get into a numbers game. I mean, I have heard from a large number of individuals that work at the FBI that said that they’re very happy with the president’s decision.”

Eventually, she was forced, under oath, to admit that this was made-up nonsense.

The report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III: “Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from ‘countless members of the FBI’ was a ‘slip of the tongue.’ . . . She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made ‘in the heat of the moment’ that was not founded on anything.”

Utterly unfounded, but insisted on as if it were carved on tablets, and don’t you dare doubt it. That is a pretty good description of gaslighting.

And gaslighting was a Sanders specialty, day in and day out. (After a while, of course, that became week in and week out, then month in and month out, and finally, not at all, as the once-daily briefings were phased out. The last one was more than 90 days ago.)