Smoke Screen or Strategy?

Donald Trump’s ceaseless stream of controversial executive orders & statements has been a defining factor of his Presidency. If anything, these have ramped up in recent weeks. Politico’s recent deep dive into the matter recognizes that this is where Trump is at his Trumpiest and where he knows he has Democrats over a barrel given their multi-cultural base & platform:

On that battlefield, Trump is the Jason Bourne of trolls: a superhuman, indefatigable one-man army. The man weaponizes rallies and turns tweets into grenades. The barely veiled racial comparison of his succeeding President Barack Obama to a lunar eclipse. The “good people” among the neo-Nazis who just don’t like disrespect for their Confederate “heritage.” The “son of a bitch” black athletes who should be fired for protesting racism during a sporting event. Trump doesn’t shrink from these fights; these fights are his oxygen.

Which is not to say it’s working for him. As a result of producing minimal policy and maximum conflict, Trump today retains majority support among only one demographic: white males without college degrees.

…When Trump wages culture war, Democrats fire back and most other issues get lost in the noise. Or if a bread-and-butter issue does break through—and break in the Democrats’ favor, as with health care—Trump will quickly launch a new culture war front. The president was not going to let Jimmy Kimmel hog the spotlight forever; he made sure to turn it to Colin Kaepernick and Steph Curry as soon as possible.

Culture war as diversionary tactic is the common interpretation, but could there be another angle for the historically unpopular President than simply performing an interpretive culture war dance for his base? Could the primary purpose be not distraction, but testing the walls of his prison? Consider:

  • “The Russia Stuff” definitely heating up. On Friday Mueller’s team interviewed Reince Priebus, former Trump Chief of Staff and man mostly likely to sing like a canary. White House counsel Don McGahn, director of communications Hope Hicks, and former press secretary Sean Spicer are in the on-deck circle. To use the fire metaphor – which might go over Trump’s head given his lack of concern – the flames the Mueller Wildfire are closing in on him.
  • At the same time, Trump’s firewall of a GOP hungry for tax cuts and reducing health coverage for the poorest Americans is starting to crumble in the face of the President’s attacks on GOP leaders.
  • He has already tested his most serious weapon, firing, with Jim Comey. While the Comey firing drew significant backlash and led to the Special Counsel, it also showed such actions were possible by demonstrating that the action had very little effect on public opinion of the President.
  • In the meantime, Trump’s surrogates and media binkies like Trump supergroupie and probably third Press Secretary Sean Hannity are banging the drum for an end to Mueller’s investigation.

We’ve already seen Trump make and survive controversial orders & moves like the travel ban, (55% disapproval, 45% support), pulling out of  the Paris Climate Agreement (59% opposed, 28% support), LGBT transgender military ban (58% opposed, 27% support), and so far his health care order (66% for fixing Obamacare, 28% supporting the move).

Could it be that the culture war is at its heart a test of the limits of his ability to survive deeply unpopular moves?

If so, it appears that the red line the GOP has placed around Mueller’s investigation could well be tested in the next few weeks.

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Mission Accomplished: 2017 remake stars Donald Trump

ACT ONE: THE TODDLER-IN-CHIEF TAKES TO TWITTER

The President’s ridiculously reality-blind twitterfart last week when the Adult Day Care was apparently short-staffed:

 

He and he alone is in charge of FEMA. Did anyone ever believe that a President with the resources, ability and Goddamn DUTY to help American citizens in mortal danger just THREE WEEKS after a devastating hurricane would talk as if doing his job were some sort of an option?

We can’t keep the Federal Emergence Management Agency in Puerto Rico forever? Oh really? Are we also getting impatient with the recovery efforts in Texas & Florida? FEMA is also spending over $1 billion on both Hurricane Matthew (2016) and Hurricane Sandy from way back in 2012. And what could possibly be the difference between those four hurricane recovery efforts and Puerto Rico’s?

ACT TWO: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?

Trump prefers to use his own facts or (better yet) have them pre-chewed and fed into his baby-brain by the mother birds of Fox & Friends or made up from whole cloth by the team of toadies he’s surrounded himself with. This bullshit bubble wrap may help to protect his fragile ego, but it bears no relation to the reality on the ground in Puerto Rico.

Some current numbers via Crooked CNN:

So far, Maria has claimed the lives of 45 people in Puerto Rico, and that number may climb, as 117 others remain unaccounted for. “You can expect that most of those missing people are dead,” said John Mutter, a Columbia University disaster specialist who studied the death toll after Hurricane Katrina. Mutter believes the number of dead in Puerto Rico is considerably higher. “It’s just seems implausible that it could be so low,” he said.

83% of Puerto Ricans have no power. That means no internet, no way to get cell phones working, and limited means to communicate or get information.

The drinking water situation is particularly dire. Thirty-six percent of Puerto Ricans are without potable water. That’s more than 1.2 million people who are struggling to find a most critical resource. The situation is so bad that the US Environmental Protection Agency recently revealed some desperate citizens are trying to break into wells at hazardous wastes sites just to get water, even though the water there is unsafe to drink.

Waterways on the island provide no safe relief. Raw sewage continues to spill into rivers and streams. Urine and fluids from animals, dead and alive, mix with chemicals and human sewage, meaning the water isn’t just dangerous for drinking. It’s dangerous to be around at all.

The entire article is well worth your time.

I was shaken by the number of people without access to drinkable water and drinking from toxic Superfund sites. Are we beginning to see why the “fake news” label is so desperately important to President Trump?

Also check out San Juan Mayor Carmen Cruz on the water emergency with a lot of footage of Puerto Rico’s devastation in the background: