Nel's New Day

September 14, 2020

Jamil Smith: ‘The No Lives Matter President’

From The Rolling Stone:

“Trump’s damning admissions on the Woodward tapes betray not merely his duty and the country, but even his promises to white America to keep them safe.”

Oregon governor Kate Brown, until Friday, could not get President Donald Trump on the phone. She noted this the day before, when she also revealed her state has never seen this amount of uncontained wildfire. The skies have turned into a literal hellscape and more than one million acres have burned to date, double what the state normally sees in a year. Right now, about half a million Oregonians are facing evacuation orders. At least five people there have died, and dozens more are missing. And yet, the White House hadn’t returned a governor’s call for aid.

Trump finally spoke with Brown that night, she said Friday. By her account, he said that “you have all of our support, please let us know what you need, and God bless Oregon.” But she already had been making it clear: the day before, Brown told reporters the state needed the Department of Defense to send an active battalion trained in firefighting. It needed National Guard assistance from other states. The emergency declaration didn’t even come until the middle of this week, and the fires have been burning, uncontained, since August. [Ed. Note: Trump’s Defense Department sent six large firefighter Chinook helicopters and 60 trained firefighters to Afghanistan in May to move cargo. They are still there.]

Oregon was founded just before the Civil War as a segregationist’s promised land. It didn’t allow black people to live there until 1926. It still has a lot of white people. They make up nearly 87 percent of the state. Granted, they live in a state that tends to vote Democratic. But their being white, one might think, would have interested Trump and made Brown’s plea unnecessary.  This president of late has made it crystal clear that his primary, if not sole, desire is to paint himself as the man to keep white people safe.

He’ll guard federal employees from the scourge of terms like “white privilege” and “critical race theory,” and will keep children from learning about the country’s fraught history with racism by reading the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project, published last summer. The white suburbanites, he’ll protect from the supposed hordes of poor, black people who are threatening to further diversify their neighborhoods.

When those neighborhoods are on fire, though, where is this supposed “defender of white America,” as a New York Times report labeled him last week? We know that both he and his son can stick up for the young terrorist who killed two in Kenosha, Wisconsin. But what about doing something about racist terrorism, which provably endangers people of all backgrounds? And where was this concern for white people when the nation needed to know what he knew about the novel coronavirus back in February, when that knowledge could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives?

As we mark the 19th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks this week, we are faced with new evidence and allegations that underscore why the president is himself a national security threat. First, he is indifferent to actual threats of terrorism. Whistleblower Brian Murphy came forward this week to claim that to protect the president’s ego and his political interests, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli ordered officials to both “cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference” and to downplay the nation’s top domestic terror threat, white-supremacist violence, in favor of prosecuting leftists.

Trump’s audiotaped interviews with journalist Bob Woodward further revealed a president with an utter disregard for both the truth and human life. They’ll try, but it may be tough for the “All Lives Matter” crowd to justify their president saying, out loud and on the record, that he was deliberately lying to the American public about the lethality of Covid-19.

The disease has killed more [almost 200,000] people to date, and yes, the toll has been disproportionately heavy on black, Latina, and indigenous communities. Trump made it clear to Woodward that he couldn’t give a damn about us, scoffing when the author asked him whether they as white men of privilege have a duty to “understand the anger and pain” of black Americans. But Covid-19 has also killed tens of thousands of white people, which is something, theoretically, Trump would care about. Nearly all of them have died in the time since he told journalist Bob Woodward on February 7th that “you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed.” Trump also confessed that Covid-19 was “more deadly than even your strenuous flu” and that “this is deadly stuff,” noting that the death rates could be as high as 5% of the American population. But he later compared it to the flu several times in the days, weeks, and months afterwards, even as he would tell Woodward privately that “playing down” the crisis was done to project strength.

Trump repeated that defense to ABC’s Jon Karl at the White House, who bluntly asked the president why he’d lied to the public and why he should be believed at all going forward. In an alarming display of toxic bravado, Trump said that “I want to show a level of confidence, and I want to show strength as a leader.” Without recognizing that faith without works is dead, Trump added that “I want to show that our country is going to be fine one way or the other whether we lose one person.”

The presidency’s real draw for Trump is clear: the ability to use the government to service his personal desires and transform his ethnic hatreds into policy. He has been immensely successful, in many respects, in institutionalizing white power within the courts and through his legislation and rhetoric. His stupidity and incompetence can cloud our ability to recognize his evil.

Trump has governed with malevolence from the very start, issuing unnecessary travel bans and locking up immigrant children. But with regards to the pandemic and the threat of domestic terrorism, Trump also has been utterly cavalier with virtually every American life but his own. What we now know, because it’s on tape, is that he consciously allowed his misbegotten notions of masculinity and fortitude to place millions of Americans in danger. Moreover, not only did he falsely profess Covid-19 would go away and promote dangerous miracle cures, Trump purposefully undermined the people who were trying to make it go away. And that is not merely unforgivable, in an ideal world, it would be prosecutable.

It may have taken learning that he has a kind of Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy, and has allowed the nation to get sick, for many to understand how evil he is. The Woodward tapes show that he obscures his malice with stupidity and incompetence, and too many fall for it. I don’t have much hope for a national moment of clarity, even after this. Asking Americans to vote altruistically is a sucker’s bet. If the pandemic has taught us anything, catering to their self-interest is essential. I can only pray, perhaps quixotically, that others who feel less threatened by his willful negligence now understand how he endangers them, as well.

That, however, is the dilemma of elevating a president on a platform of misogyny and white supremacy. Both of those social maladies are watered by violence and death, and never in our nation’s history has that violence and death touched merely those marginalized people whom it is meant to target. Bigotry kills us all, and as this administration began discouraging safe practices shown to stem the coronavirus pandemic, its danger should have been evident to every sick and bereaved white person in America.

Trump should resign the presidency today. He won’t, and we’ll just have to wait until the November election for the chance to fire him. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be demanding it. The offenses revealed by Woodward’s tapes are that egregious. Iif the whistleblower’s complaint is accurate, that is only further justification.

Moreover, his quotes to Woodward about the coronavirus only belie his promises to make life safer for white people in America, underscoring that whatever security he provides them is false. Frankly, for the sake of the republic, we can only hope that this week’s revelations scare white people in ways that he never intended.

I say that because the time for winning hearts and minds is over. This is a frightening America Trump has constructed. It is past time that those Americans who do not regularly feel threatened in it come to share our dread. When compared to the reality that we face — threatened by climate change, by domestic terrorism, and by a pandemic that Trump lets spread with abandon — will enough white people vote to preserve themselves, or instead their feelings of safety and superiority? The election will likely turn on that question.

September 10, 2020

DDT: ‘I’m Not to Blame’

The mantra of the “leader” of the free world,” the man sitting in the Oval Office: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is fighting back at Bob Woodward’s book Rage with this excuse

“If Bob Woodward thought what I said was bad, then he should have immediately, right after I said it, gone out to the authorities, so they can prepare and let them know.”

DDT was defending his lies to the public about COVID-19 not being dangerous at the same time he was telling Woodward, on tape, he knows how dangerous the virus is. He started out by claiming he didn’t want to panic the public—despite the crises he constantly describes—by telling them the truth. “I don’t want to jump up and down and start screaming ‘Death!,’” DDT said at the same rally when he said his opponent Joe Biden would destroy the suburbs.

On The Bulwark, Charlie Sykes wrote:

“This is the same president who has stoked fears about an invasion of Mexican rapists, caravans of marauding immigrants, and is now basing his re-election campaign on warnings about rigged elections, burning cities, thugs on planes, Antifa, anarchists, American carnage, Cory Booker invading the suburbs, and the Marxist apocalypse of a Biden presidency.”

ABC White House correspondent Jonathan Karl asked DDT at his press conference, “Why did you lie to the American people and why should we trust what you have to say now?” DDT said, “I didn’t lie.” Philip Rucker asked why he told Woodward the virus is airborne but wouldn’t tell the public. DDT said, “Everybody knew it was airborne. This was no big thing.” He continues to have large rallies with no masks and no social distancing because he doesn’t communicate any danger of the disease.

The U.S. COVID-19 statistics continue to grow at the usual rate, in the last 24 hours another 38,811 cases putting the total over 6.5 million at 6,588,163 cases and 1,090 deaths, closing in on 200,000 at 196,328. Look for a COVID-19 surge to sweep across the nation from the 400,000 people who went to the Sturgis (SD) biker rally because of DDT’s irresponsible lying. A model shows the spread of infections through 61 communities will create at least 250,000 infections at a public cost of $12.2 billion—but mostly not in the home state of South Dakota. The study from IZA Institute of Labor Economics tracked cellphone data from the rally during and after the ten-day event.

Criticized by some reviewers for not sharing DDT’s comments earlier, Woodward said that no one would have believed him. They still don’t as a crowd cheered when DDT said he was going to open up the entire country, proves. He also attacked Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) after she claimed she wouldn’t trust DDT’s credibility on a vaccination after his outrageous claims about COVID-19 cures such as swallowing disinfectant. Conservatives such as Marc Thiessen also believe Moncef Slaoui, co-director of President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, who has massive conflicts of interest in selling the vaccine.

DDT also blamed the Democrats for his being short of money in his reelection campaign war chest—down $800 million from the $1.1 billion collected since January 2019 . He claimed the money went to justify his “handling” of the virus situation. 

Dubbed the “Death Star” by former campaign manager Brad Pascale, the name may be prescient: this fictional mobile space station and galactic superweapon created for Star Wars is a symbol of evil, destroyed by outgunned heroes who defeated the Empire’s foolhardy tyrants. Susceptible to any form of attack, one explosion came from a shot into the thermal exhaust port.

DDT runs his campaign fund in the same way he does both his business and the federal government—at a great loss. Until he went into politics, DDT persuaded banks to keep lending him money and then declaring bankruptcy. Now, he demands donations and yells at people if they stop giving to him. In 1990, banks gave money to DDT, an allowance of $450,000 a month, with the “sunk cost fallacy,” the hope they could recoup from of the money if they kept his real estate empire afloat. The 2016 donations from the wealthy paid off with the 2017 tax cut law for the wealthy and big business, but benefits in 2020 may be more doubtful.

Salon reported the campaign may be trying to hide payments to senior adviser Jason Miller or new campaign manager Bill Stepien. Court documents, however, show $35,000 a month salary to Miller (down from $60,000) at the $420,000 annual salary higher than the U.S. president. Parscale had made about $47,700 a month, but Stepien may make slightly less as DDT’s campaign manager. Joe Biden’s campaign manager Greg Schultz gets about $7,700 a month. An FEC complaint alleges DDT’s campaign had hidden at least $170 million in shell company payments, perhaps for more salaries, for example to Eric Trump’s wife and Donald Trump Jr’s wife, and $2.3 million to DDT’s private businesses.

Before Parscale was demoted to senior adviser, he put over $350 million into fundraising with a large, well-paid staff in a well-appointed office in the Virginia suburbs. Another $100 million went to a television advertising blitz before his convention, and $11 million for Super Bowl ads because DDT wanted to match Michael Bloomberg’s buy.

Parscale wasn’t the only person to gut the campaign funds; money went to DDT’s legal expenses. Using the fund for his personal piggy bank, DDT ran up almost $60 in expenses since 2015. Cases include a campaign worker claiming to be the target of sexual discrimination and harassment by another aid, investigations related to Russia and Ukraine, the request for the release of his taxes in a mélange of business interests, defense against Russia investigation, impeachment, and penalties against rivals. Donors to the account have benefitted from DDT’s patronage, including the Jones Day law firm receiving $18.8 million for 20 of DDT’s cases.

DDT may be facing more lawsuits. An ad in Wisconsin uses images of a man, a little girl, and several others supposedly cleaning up after the ad’s representation of Joe Biden’s violence, looting, etc. to protect “Wisconsin families,” footage owned by a French news organization objecting to their being taken out of context. The man in the ad is also a strong supporter of Biden and Black Live Matter.

More campaign money went into DDT’s shift of his convention from Charlotte (VA) to Jacksonville (FL) and then on to Washington. Smaller expenses included highly-paid consultants, planes for aerial banners, and magnetic pouches for cellphones to keep donors from secretly recording and leaking DDT’s remarks.  

In a possibly illegal action, USDA is putting campaign letters from DDT in food boxes with fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and meat for millions of people who need this food to stave off hunger. All government officials except for president and vice-president cannot engage in electioneering. That includes White House staff and agencies. DDT’s letter supposedly reinforced the CDC public health measures but contradicts the actual guidelines. The food box program has problems with questionable vendors and failing to match supplies with needs. The USDA contractor selection failed to consider regional equity, causing some areas to be “underserved.” Only 70 percent of vendors provided 90 percent of their orders.

DDT laughs at Biden’s “basement” philosophy, but it included Zoom fundraisers with top donors asking for as much as $720,000. DDT has the advantage of taxpayers providing travel funds for his campaign rallies, but Biden is spending more on advertising, especially in battleground states. During September 1-7, 2020, DDT spent under $4 million for V and radio compared to Biden’s almost $20:

Arizona: Biden $2 million, Trump $0

Florida: Biden $5.1 million, Trump $1.9 million

Michigan: Biden $2.6 million, Trump $0

North Carolina: Biden $3.0 million, Trump $1.3 million

Pennsylvania: Biden $4.7 million, Trump $0

Wisconsin: Biden $2.2 million, Trump $670,000

Biden brought in $364.5 million in just August. DDT made $150 million less.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel expressed concern to DDT about his ads not appearing in Michigan and Florida after Biden spent $90 million in a month, over four times DDT’s $18 million. Stepien said he had no choice; he couldn’t cut back on staffing or headquarters.

DDT tried to cover up for the lack of donations with this tweet:

“Because of the China Virus, my Campaign, which has raised a lot of money, was forced to spend in order to counter the Fake News reporting about the way we handled it (China Ban, etc.). We did, and are doing, a GREAT job, and have a lot of money left over, much more than 2016….”

As ill-considered as many of DDT’s campaign decisions, the dumbest one may have been to be interviewed on tape for Bob Woodward’s book. The campaign, possibly Jared Kushner, thought it was a good idea.

In mid-July, DDT was tracked at telling 20,000 lies. He’s built up lots of them in the past two months.

September 9, 2020

DDT as a ‘Loser’

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may be made of Teflon so nothing sticks to him, but the stench is growing around him as his fear about losing the election builds. He has three major disasters thus far this week: Bob Woodward’s new book, “Losergate,” and DHS whistleblower Brian Murphy’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said DDT “has never lied to the American public on COVID,” but DDT has been taped saying he knew he was aware of the dangers of COVID-19 at the same time he told everyone the virus was no more dangerous than the flu. He went on record with Bob Woodward, who has published his private comments in February in his new book Rage, sequel to Fear. And DDT said he lied to people about the virus more than once because he didn’t “want to create a panic.” By April, he talked about how horrible the virus is while he ridiculed people for wearing masks and keeps on creating chaos. Just days ago, he told a Reuters reporter he wouldn’t answer questions from him until the reporter took off his mask.

In late January, national security adviser Robert O’Brien told DDT that the deadliness of the virus “will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency. This is going to be the roughest thing you face.” In March, in the White House’s first week of “15 Days to Slow the Spread” and after DDT told Woodward how serious the virus threat is, DDT pushed for states to eliminate their stay-at-home orders.

 Woodward’s book, due to be released on September, is based on 18 taped interviews from December 5, 2019, and July 21, 2020. Interview subjects include former Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Mattis calls DDT “dangerous” and “unfit” to be commander in chief, and Coats said Putin must have “something on Trump.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease expert, told others DDT’s leadership was “rudderless” and his “attention span … like a minus number.” Fauci was also told to say nothing about children becoming ill or dying of COVID-19 during his television interviews. Over 500,000 children in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus, 9.8 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the nation. They can have long-lasting effects and spread the disease.

DDT also gave Woodward information which is most likely classified:

“But I have built a nucle- a weap- I have built a weapons system- weapons system, that nobody’s ever had in this country before. We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before. There’s nobody. What we have is incredible.”

When DDT threatened to put active-duty military troops in U.S. cities and cleared Lafayette Park of protesters with tear gas, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he was following the path of racist George Wallace, according to Rage. Woodward also obtained 27 “love letters” between him and Kim Jong-Un, 25 of them not announced. Transcripts for two of them are here. More revelations from Woodward’s book.

DDT’s “Losergate” problems continue, and he spent Labor Day bad-mouthing his own Pentagon. He claimed he never called wounded, dead, and captured military members “losers” and “suckers,” but he attacked military leadership: 

“The soldiers are in love with me. The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else, stay happy.”

Evidence fails to support his claims about the military: 

The soldiers” aren’t “in love with” DDT: According to the Military Times Polls, troops’ opinion has become more negative. Over half the troops surveyed in late July and early August hold an unfavorable opinion of DDT, compared to under 38 percent of them with a favorable view. In a poll, over 43 percent plan to vote for Joe Biden, compared to 37.4 percent going for DDT. Another 12.8 percent will opt for a third party, and the remainder will skip the election. Of the troops surveyed, 40 percent identify as GOP or Libertarian, 16 percent Democrats, and 44 percent independent or another party. Evidently, they aren’t all “in love” with him.  

DDT isn’t standing up to the Military Industrial Complex: He named Raytheon lobbyist Mark Esper as Defense secretary, and arms manufacturers have almost unlimited access to power players in his administration. He also incessantly brags about how much money he gives the Pentagon for “the bombs and the planes and everything else.” 

DDT isn’t getting the United States “out of the endless wars.”  To falsify the number of military members at war in 2017, the Defense Department stopped including numbers of troops in 2017 serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—sort of like having fewer COVID-19 cases by not testing people. Yet the number of service members serving abroad is higher under DDT than President Obama.

DDT worshipper and former press secretary Sarah Sanders tried to cover for her further boss and lied in her claim she was in the room when DDT “let a parent know that their son had been killed.” Military protocol, always followed, informs families of dead service members in person within eight hours of learning about the casualty. Sanders finally texted the calls expressed condolences. This lie represents all her other lying statements while she worked in the White House. Sanders hopes to run for Arkansas governor.

In a demonstration of how little respect the Executive branch has for the military, the Pentagon wants a $2 billion cut in military healthcare for the 9.5 million active-duty personnel, retirees, and dependents during the next five years. Congress approved $740 billion for the 2021 Defense Department, the pandemic is still flourishing, and DDT steals money from the military for his vanity wall. Yet Secretary Mark Esper asserts service members can get healthcare from the private health system.

The denigration DDT displays for military members doesn’t stop there: he thinks anyone in public service is less intelligence than people who want only personal profit—like himself. Trump falsely believes career officials who dedicate their lives to public service are of lesser intelligence because their primary motivation isn’t personal profit. He is as disdainful of people like Robert Mueller and former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch as he is of former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.

According to whistleblower Brian Murphy’s complaint to the House Intelligence Committee, DHS has changed intelligence assessments to match DDT’s public remarks. Murphy accused DHS of a two-year “pattern of abuse of authority, attempted censorship of intelligence analysis and improper administration of an intelligence program related to Russian efforts to influence and undermine United States interests.” The complaint lists actions of former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, now-acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, Miles Taylor, who served as Nielsen’s chief of staff, and the acting deputy director for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Kash Patel. Wolf and Cuccinelli have not legally have these position. Wolf gave Murphy orders from White House National Security adviser Robert O’Brien to disregard Russian interference and focus on China’s and Iran’s threats. Murphy said he did not comply because he believed it would put the U.S. “in substantial and specific danger” and then faced retaliation by being excluded from relevant meetings.

Early last July, Wolf told Murphy to hold intelligence notification about Russian disinformation because it “made the President look bad.” This would be intelligence sent to agencies to help them block the Russian interference supporting DDT in his reelection. Wolf also told Murphy to change his assessments to match DDT’s statements about antifa and “anarchist” groups. Murphy also refused that order, and Wolf demoted him from his position in charge of intelligence and analysis at DHS.

More details of Murphy’s complaint:

He was illegally directed to manipulate intelligence for aggressive border policies.

Former DHS Secretary Kirtjen Nielsen deliberately and repeated lied to Congress to exaggerate the border threat.

Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli illegally tried to distort intelligence reports he considered too favorable to asylum seekers.

DDT almost fired Under Secretary David Glawe for his testimony about the Russian election interference threat.

The weekend is over and the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are rolling in. Another 35,244 cases totaling 6,549,475 and another 1,209 deaths totaling 195,239.

 

September 4, 2018

Kavanaugh, Woodward, Plus More News

Democrats may not win the fight to keep Brett Kavanaugh out of the Supreme Court, but they’re putting up a good show. Only two nominees—Robert Bork and Harriet Miers—had lower poll ratings, and neither one was confirmed. Only 38 percent of people want Kavanaugh on the high court, and 39 percent think he should not be confirmed. Women in particular dislike him in their 46 percent opposition. One reason might be that he tried to imprison a 17-year-old immigrant pregnant from a rape although the Supreme Court has ruled that she had the right to one. Rachel Maddow has a 21-minute segment about Kavanaugh’s behavior on the bench that doesn’t match his assurance to gullible Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) that Roe v. Wade is “settled law.” In her opening statement at the hearing, Sen. Diane Feinstein explained how Kavanaugh has already ruled against Roe v. Wade. [visual]

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Kavanaugh started today, less than 15 hours after the White House finally released 42,000 pages of documents about him. In a fit of speed-reading, Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) claimed that he and his staff had reviewed all these documents in less than three hours. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) still withholds 93 percent of the records from the time when Kavanaugh was White House counsel and staff secretary for George W. Bush by invoking presidential privilege although Bush cleared the records for release. Some of these may have had to do with Kavanaugh’s support for torture. The White House alerted reporters to the Democrats’ comments, perhaps to show their obstruction. But instead the message may have been that an unindicted co-conspirator has nominated a justice for the nation’s highest court, one who he hopes will exonerate him by ruling that the president is above the law and refuses to release the nominee’s records.

Kavanaugh may also face questions about his possible lying under oath in an earlier confirmation hearing.

In a bad photo op for Kavanaugh, he refused to shake hands with the father of Jamie Guttenberg who was murdered at the Parkland (FL) high school earlier this year. Feinstein had introduced Fred Guttenberg (left) in the committee chambers so Kavanaugh knew who he was. Kavanaugh stared at him for a short time before he turned and walked away. When Kavanaugh returned, he bragged about coaching his daughter’s basketball team. Footage of the interaction with Guttenberg shows that the White House lied to cover up for Kavanaugh’s rude behavior.

Just when people thought that DDT had stopped fighting with AG Jeff Sessions, DDT spent the last day of his Labor Day weekend lambasting Sessions for the indictments of Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Chris Collins (R-NY) for misusing campaign funds/fraud and insider trading/securities fraud. DDT’s objection is that he wants the DOJ to hold off on prosecuting the charged congressional members so that they can win their districts. He is a loser in this argument; almost two-thirds of people oppose firing Sessions and back investigator Robert Mueller.

“So I have another bad book coming out. Big deal,” said DDT in a conversation with Bob Woodward about his new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, about DDT’s time in the White House. DDT spent most of the talk either claiming that he would have liked to talk to Woodward for the book, saying that no one had ever told him, and explaining what a wonderful job he was doing. Woodward told at least six people with access to DDT that he wanted to talk to DDT, but DDT claims that no one except maybe Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had mentioned it to him. Kellyanne Conway admitted on the conversation that Woodward had talked with her about an interview with DDT.

Woodward writes that DDT’s closest aides, including Gary Cohn and Rob Porter, hid papers from his desk to keep him from signing them because they viewed DDT as a danger to national security. Woodward reported that Chief of staff John Kelly described Trump as an “idiot” and “unhinged,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said DDT has the understanding of “a fifth or sixth grader,” and former personal lawyer John Dowd called DDT “a fucking liar,” telling DDT he would end up in an “orange jump suit” if he testified to special counsel Robert Mueller. Dowd resigned the day after DDT told him that he would be a “real good witness.” DDT called AG Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and a “dumb Southerner”; DDT told Rudy Giuliani what he’s “like a little baby that needed to be changed.” Explaining his strategy in Afghanistan, DDT told his generals, “You should be killing guys.” Fortunately, Mattis didn’t kill Bashar al-Assad in April 2017 as DDT requested. The book portrays DDT as lonely and increasingly paranoid, obsessed with the media’s perception of him and with his base.

Fox analyst Howard Kurtz debunked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ defense by pointing out that sources for Woodward’s book are current as well as past employees.

U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia forces are deliberately bombing dozens of Yemeni civilians—some of them at least 40 children riding on a school bus in Yemen when they were taking a rare field trip. On the day of the attack, the head of the coalition stated that the bus was a “legitimate military target.” Later the report indicated that the attack was “unjustified” but only because the suspect was not on the bus, not that they had killed children. The U.S. sold the bomb to Saudi Arabians after DDT lifted the ban on these sales. DDT has said nothing about the tragedies in Yemen.

Desperate for new headquarters, the FBI lost their chance to move out of downtown Washington, D.C. across DDT’s hotel to the suburbs. DDT likely scuttled the deal to keep another hotel from moving into the area. Federal employees were ordered to not discuss any of his comments. To keep the FBI headquarters in place, officials greatly underestimated the cost of not moving the facility.

The white man who murdered two people at a video game tournament in Jacksonville (FL) and then turned the gun on himself to commit suicide has been described as having a mental illness. His easy access to guns was not responsible for the tragedy according to the state AG Pam Bondi; she blames the gathering of people to play video games, for example the football video game Madden. Intent on wiping out any taint of domestic terrorism by white men in the United States, Politico joined the myth by exonerating Timothy McVeigh of any terrorism. In 1995, the 27-year-old white man bombed a government building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring over 680 others. Sam Anderson maintains that McVeigh was no terrorist—he was just depressed because his favorite football team, the Buffalo Bills, had started losing. Given his sad life, Anderson claims, “it is easy to imagine how this young man might have been lured into making a bad decision.” The article was abstracted from Anderson’s book Boom Town. Is it possible that the United States could reduce the murder and domestic terrorism rate by banning video games and football?

Pope Francis has a solution for the allegations that he covered up sex abuse by church leaders and lied about knowing nothing regarding his meeting with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples. He called for silence.

When he ran for president, DDT’s name was on 19 brands; now it’s on just one—furniture sold by a Turkish company selling Trump furniture.

DDT has reached 60 percent—in his disapproval rating. His approval rating is 36 percent, and 53 percent think that his interference with Mueller’s investigation is obstruction of justice. At 63 percent, an additional ten percent support the investigation. Mueller’s case against Manafort received 67 percent believing it was justified, and two-thirds oppose DDT’s pardoning Manafort. Sessions also gets 64 percent support from being fired, and 61 percent believe that DDT committed a crime if he told Cohen to make hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

DDT makes up his own approval ratings. In a call to a radio talk show, he said that he adds “another 7 or eight points’ to the existing approval rating, and at a rally in North Dakota, he recommended adding 12 to any of his polls.

DDT has greatly helped ratings for MSNBC and Rachel Maddow in particular. In August, MSNBC was the second-most-watched network across all of basic cable, and The Rachel Maddow Show was number one for total viewers on cable TV for the last week of August and top the 25-54 demographic throughout August, beating Sean Hannity. While MSNBC’s ratings rose over that in 2017, both CNN and Fox went down. All the MSNBC shows—Chris Hayes, Laurence O’Donnell, Brian Williams, Ari Melber, Hallie Jackson, Nicolle Wallace, Katy Tur, and Ali Velshi—had substantial gains and record-breaking numbers. Kudos to genuine news instead of screaming people and fake propaganda.

March 25, 2013

Woodward Teaches Readers to Question

Ever since I saw the movie All the President’s Men, I have considered Bob Woodward my hero because he was instrumental in bringing down a corrupt president using illegal actions to win his second presidential election . What a difference 40 years makes. Compared to George W. Bush, Richard Nixon doesn’t look too bad, and Woodward has become almost a villain.

Woodward’s legendary reputation may have finally ended when he accused White House senior official Gene Sperling of trying to intimidate the journalist. According to Max Holland, however, this fictionalizing seems to be a pattern for Woodward throughout his entire career. In adopting the style of New Journalism, Woodward and his co-author, Carl Bernstein, employed a novelistic style for what should have been a non-fiction book. Newspaper editor Barry Sussman said that the two were “wrong often on detail” about what happened in the newsroom and that they tended to “sentimentalize” their information.

Since the Woodward/Berstein papers were opened in 2007, other problems can to light in the inconsistencies between the notes of interviews with Deep Throat, aka Mark Felt, and how these notes were used in the book. It appears that statements attributed as quotes in the book may not have been Felt’s words and may be substantially altered. The book also has information not included in the notes.

References to the so-called Canuck letter, a 1972 letter to the editor of the Manchester Union-Leader, also never appeared in the notes. This letter alleged that then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Edmund Muskie had used the term Canuck to refer to constituents of French-Canadian descent around the time of the New Hampshire primary, and Woodstein alleged that the letter typified the “dirty tricks” thought up by the Nixon White House or campaign.

When Holland asked Woodward about these discrepancies, Woodward said, “I may have had a distinct recollection [while we were writing the book, and reviewing the notes] that something was in quotes … and so I may have put quotes in it.” These discrepancies also appeared in reporting aboutJudith Hoback, the bookkeeper for the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP). The book quotes Hoback as saying, “But Sally [Harmony, burglar Gordon Liddy’s secretary]—and others—lied.” In Bernstein’s notes from the interview, however, Hoback never asserts that anyone at the CRP “lied.”

All the President’s Men gave the impression that Mark Felt was leaking the information out of principle. The authors wrote that Deep Throat “was trying to protect the office [of the presidency], to effect a change in its conduct before all was lost.” Evidence shows, however, that Felt may have used these leaks as a tactic to undermine L. Patrick Gray, acting director of the FBI, and become FBI director after J. Edgar Hoover’s death. A top Justice Department official said, “[Felt] had enough contact with the press that he might have tried to use his Watergate information to hurt Gray.” Yet Woodward has always called Felt a “truth-teller.”

Since Watergate, Woodward has diligently tried to show that his investigation into Watergate wasn’t just a fluke. Like Orson Welles and his one-time success withCitizen Kane, Woodward spent his life looking for another success like the one he had at the age of  30. He never lost the craving to retain the high respect he gained from revealing the Nixon scandals.

Yet Woodward continued to have questionable episodes. In 1987, he reported a four-minute interview with CIA director William Casey; the family disagreed with Woodward’s description of its unfolding and conclusion. In the Valerie Plame affair, Woodward ridiculed a investigation into the leak of a CIA officer’s name without telling the public that he was the first reporter to be told about the leak.

Worse was his treatment of Jeff Himmelman, hired to research Woodward’s 2000 book Maestro, a “fawning tribute to Alan Greenspan,” according to Holland. Greenspan was the Fed chairman whose ideology brought about the worst recession since the Great Depression. At the same time, Himmelman gained access to the papers of Woodward’s former editor Ben Bradlee and found an interview. Among these were notes showing that Bradlee felt that the representation of Woodward’s meeting with Deep Throat in the underground garage was inaccurate. Disturbed by Himmelman’s report of Bradlee’s statement, Woodward smeared his book, calling it “alarmingly dishonest” and a “total dishonest distortion.” Woodward compared Himmelman with Nixon on Politico.

Describing All the President’s Men and its aftermath, Holland wrote:

 “[Woodward and Bernstein] wrote a self-glorifying account of their role, seemingly altered information from their notes, apparently reneged on a pledge to Deep Throat, then later downplayed evidence that Mark Felt was leaking for self-interested reasons. And finally, when a former Woodward lieutenant came across some facts that undermined the narrative that Woodstein had dined out on for decades, Woodward responded to this heresy by attacking the writer’s integrity.”

As Dennis Johnson writes,

How reliable is Bob Woodward? From the very first there have been those who thought, well, he was making shit up. Lots of people questioned whether there ever really was a Deep Throat, for example, when All the President’s Men came out. Even after former FBI associate director Mark Felt claimed to have been Deep Throat, doubts continued that the former agent–his mind clearly fogged by age–was quite the drama-prone informer depicted in the book.

“Nixon White House counsel Leonard Garment noted one of the better known counterpoints in his book, In Search of Deep Throat–that Simon and Schuster editor Alice Mayhew, who edited All the President’s Men, “told [former presidential counsel John] Dean that she was the one who had invented the detective story structure for the reporters’ book.

“Woodward’s second book, The Bretheren, co-authored by Scott Armstrong, contained so many outlandish assertions about the behavior of Supreme Court Justices behind the scenes that, in a front page review for the New York Times Book Review, Renata Adler famously declared that every sentence in the book should end “with the caveat ‘if true.’”

After riding on the Watergate explosion for almost 40 years, Bob Woodward lost all credibility when he appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox show and attacked President Obama’s past relationship with Ayers. The release of emails between Woodward and Sperling show a collegiality far from Woodward’s accusations of being threatened. It is a sad ending for a formerly venerable reporter.

The message from Woodward’s debacle is that so-called journalists’ reporting is always subject to doubt. So-called non-fiction books may be enjoyable reading, but their accuracy must always be questioned.

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