Sunday, September 13, 2020



Web of Deceit: Deadly Sands, by Big Fish Games.

Sometimes with Trump it's really fish in a barrel:

Not to mention that the contributions in question were given only to Jill McCabe's campaign, not to "him and his wife" (way to acknowledge that you do regard campaign contributions as personal income, to be spent any way you choose, Donald, which is what young Duncan Hunter got 11 months for doing, and I do hope laundering campaign money into your wallet through your businesses is one of the things you get charged with), nor in any sense illegal, and had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton but were from Terry McAuliffe, the incumbent governor of Virginia. It's at least mildly amusing that he doesn't remember he's the one who gave McCabe the job.

I'm pretty much running out of what passed for a sense of humor since what is to my mind the most sinister of Trump's confessions to Woodward, on the order of Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman to a team of his thugs to murder the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, spiriting away the remains after dismembering them with a bone saw, in October 2018:

"The people at the Post are upset about the Khashoggi killing," Woodward told Trump on January 22, his book says. "That is one of the most gruesome things. You yourself have said."

"Yeah, but Iran is killing 36 people a day, so —" Trump began, before Woodward redirected the conversation and continued to press Trump about MBS's role in ordering Khashoggi's killing.

"I saved his ass," Trump had said amid the US outcry following Khashoggi's murder, the book says. "I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop."... >

During his January 22 conversation with Woodward, the president said: "Well, I understand what you're saying, and I've gotten involved very much. I know everything about the whole situation."

Trump added that Saudi Arabia spent billions of dollars on US products. He also stressed MBS's claim that he's innocent, though US intelligence and other foreign intelligence agencies have concluded otherwise.

Note the rhetorical sequence:

  1. Whataboutism: Iran is worse (no idea what he's referring to, but it might be the 36 people per month alleged to die in work-related accidents because of deregulation analogous to the destruction of OSHA in the US); 
  2. Triumphalism: It's a victory for Trump;
  3. Transactionalism: I/we get a lot of money from those Saudis; and
  4. Presumption of innocence: He says he didn't do it...

Working through three reasons why the murder was OK before getting around to the perfunctory note that the crown prince could have been (contrary to the CIA's findings) not involved at all, because the denial is "very strong", like Putin's denial (also contradicted by US intelligence) that he or his country had anything to do with attacking the 2016 US election. Like a defense attorney saying, "It was self-defense! And besides my client wasn't there when it happened!"

I mean, you know what I'm saying? He's not just admitting it but bragging about it: "I saved his ass." I guess we knew something along these lines (there are all sorts of credible stories about the complicity of Jared Kushner, in his bromance with the prince), just as we knew he was lying about the danger of the Covid-19 pandemic, but now he's saying how pleased he is with himself. He helped a brother strongman get away with murder by lying about his guilt, and he's delightedly telling Woodward about it.

Coming out this week alongside the news of some huge attempts by the administration to mislead the public, at the Department of Homeland Security under (illegally) appointed acting secretary Chad Wolf, who has apparently commanded employees to stop talking about threats from domestic white-nationalist terrorists and Russian intelligence and focus on bogus threats from "antifa", and Health and Human Services under the unspeakable Michael Caputo (racist, misogynist, former Putin minion, and Roger Stone confederate) censoring and rewriting reports from the CDC

since Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the Health and Human Services department's new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump's statements, including the president's claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether....

"CDC to me appears to be writing hit pieces on the administration," appointee Paul Alexander wrote, calling on Redfield to modify two already published reports that Alexander claimed wrongly inflated the risks of coronavirus to children and undermined Trump's push to reopen schools. "CDC tried to report as if once kids get together, there will be spread and this will impact school re-opening . . . Very misleading by CDC and shame on them. Their aim is clear."

This isn't just Trump telling silly, easily disconfirmed lies about wind turbines slaughtering eagles and Covid patients getting UV light injections. It's a massive frontal assault on our ability to recognize reality, and Trump, stupid as he is, is really in charge.

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