Tuesday Reads: Another Crazy Day In Trump World

Good Morning!!

This morning Trump appeared on Fox and Friends and rambled on for 47 minutes. At the end of the interview, Steve Doocy expressed some surprising hostility toward the fake “president.”

Wow! Doocy’s getting a little fed up with Trump’s word salad, I guess. He even offered equal time to Joe Biden.

In another headline-grabbing moment, Trump told his Fox and Friends pals that he wanted to assassinate Syria’s Bashar al-Assad awhile back.

The Washington Post: Trump confirms he wanted to assassinate Assad. In 2018, he denied it was even considered.

In the Fox interview, Trump criticized former defense secretary Jim Mattis, who has in recent months warned the country strongly against reelecting Trump. But in the course of making that case, Trump offered an odd claim: He said Mattis had effectively stood in the way of his efforts to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“I would’ve rather taken him out,” Trump said. “I had him all set. Mattis didn’t want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general.”

When asked whether he regretted not taking Assad out, Trump added: “No, I don’t regret that. … I had a shot to take him out if I wanted. Mattis was against it.”

The first problem with this argument is that Trump is disparaging Mattis for opposing something that Trump doesn’t even say he regrets. The second is that the commander in chief makes these decisions, full stop. If Trump wanted to do it, Mattis couldn’t block him.

That’s not what Trump said in 2018.

In 2018, Woodward published “Fear.” In the book, he reported that Trump had considered assassinating Assad. Trump, on Sept. 5, 2018, flatly denied it.

“I heard somewhere where they said the assassination of President Assad by the United States. Never even discussed,” Trump said, adding: “No, that was never even contemplated, nor would it be contemplated.”

He even held it up as evidence that the book shouldn’t have been published.

Breaking news: Trump is a pathological liar.

Lets see . . . what else is happening in the United States of crazy?

As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, Trump seems determined to continue holding super-spreader rallies that threaten the lives of his own supporters and staff. The Washington Post suggests that Trump is using these events to “rebuke” Democratic governors and mayors who have established restrictions on public behavior in order to protect their citizens.

President Trump’s first indoor rally in months was staged as a rebuke to Democrats he accuses of using coronavirus restrictions against him, but the campaign event in Nevada also prompted sharp denunciations from critics on Monday as a symbol of the president’s failure to effectively confront the deadly covid-19 crisis.

The Sunday night gathering came as the pandemic has caused at least 190,000 deaths in the United States, with the number expected to pass 200,000 sometime before Trump holds his next official campaign events on Friday. The Nov. 3 election had already become a referendum on the president’s often dismissive approach to the pandemic before revelations last week that he had told Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward he knew the severity of the virus but preferred to play it down in public….

On Monday, Trump held another indoor campaign event at a luxury hotel in Phoenix that was billed as a roundtable with Latino supporters. The White House pool reporter traveling with Trump described the scene as looking much like a rally, with more than 100 people crowded closely together inside a ballroom. Television footage showed mask-free supporters waving campaign signs.

“I know this was supposed to be, you know the fake news, they said that this is supposed to be a roundtable, but it looks like a rally,” Trump said. “But it is a rally because we love each other.” He then added that “it is a roundtable.”

AP: Trump defies virus rules as ‘peaceful protest’ rallies grow.

President Donald Trump is running as the “law and order” candidate. But that hasn’t stopped him and his campaign from openly defying state emergency orders and flouting his own administration’s coronavirus guidelines as he holds ever-growing rallies in battleground states.

Democratic governors and local leaders have urged the president to reconsider the events, warning that he’s putting lives at risk. But they have largely not tried to block the gatherings of thousands of people, which Trump and his team deem “peaceful protests” protected by the First Amendment.

“If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino, or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the 1st Amendment to hear from the President of the United States,” Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesperson, said in a statement….

Trump’s campaign insisted that it takes appropriate health precautions, including handing out masks and hand sanitizer and checking the temperatures of rallygoers.

But images of thousands of maskless supporters standing shoulder to shoulder remain jarring in a country where sports are still played in empty arenas and concerts have been largely banned. That’s especially true for those who have lost loved ones or spent months isolating at home and worry that rallies will further spread infection, undermining hard-fought progress. An indoor rally that Trump held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June was blamed for a surge of virus infections there.

In an interview yesterday, Trump demonstrated that he couldn’t care less about threatening the health of his supporters, as long as he himself is protected. The New York Times: Trump Defends Indoor Rally, but Aides Express Concern.

President Trump and his campaign are defending his right to rally indoors, despite the private unease of aides who called it a game of political Russian roulette and growing concern that such gatherings could prolong the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m on a stage, and it’s very far away,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday, after thousands of his supporters gathered on Sunday night inside a manufacturing plant in a Las Vegas suburb, flouting a state directive limiting indoor gatherings to fewer than 50 people.

The president did not address health concerns about the rally attendees, a vast majority of whom did not wear masks or practice any social distancing. When it came to his own safety, he said, “I’m not at all concerned.”

He is simply incapable of caring about anyone but himself.

Yesterday afternoon, Trump met with California officials and told them they are clueless about how to deal with wildfires. Forbes: ‘I Don’t Think Science Knows, Actually’: Trump Dismisses Climate Science In California Wildfire Discussion.

After multiple California officials confronted President Donald Trump Monday about ignoring climate change’s role in the raging west coast wildfires, the president dismissed their concerns and raised skepticism about the “science” that has concluded the Earth is warming.

“It’ll start getting cooler,” Trump said in response to California Natural Resource Secretary Wade Crawfoot, who pressed the president to acknowledge the fact untamed vegetation is not solely responsible for the wildfires in the Golden State.

“I wish science agreed with you,” Crawfoot replied back, to which the president replied, “I don’t think science knows, actually.”

Trump’s solution to the wildfire problem:

In other insane news, Trump loyalist Michael Caputo, who “interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19” made wild claims about a conspiracy involving the CDC and “left-wing hit squads.” The New York Times: Trump Health Aide Pushes Bizarre Conspiracies and Warns of Armed Revolt.

The top communications official at the powerful cabinet department in charge of combating the coronavirus made outlandish and false accusations on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election.

Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Trump, even if that opposition bolsters the Covid-19 death toll.

Mr. Caputo, who has faced intense criticism for leading efforts to warp C.D.C. weekly bulletins to fit Mr. Trump’s pandemic narrative, suggested that he personally could be in danger from opponents of the administration. “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get,” he urged his followers.

He went further, saying his physical health was in question, and his “mental health has definitely failed.”

“I don’t like being alone in Washington,” Mr. Caputo said, describing “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long.” He also said the mounting number of Covid-19 deaths was taking a toll on him, telling his viewers, “You are not waking up every morning and talking about dead Americans.” [….]

To a certain extent, Mr. Caputo’s comments in a video he hosted live on his personal Facebook page were simply an amplified version of remarks that the president himself has made. Both men have singled out government scientists and health officials as disloyal, suggested that the election will not be fairly decided, and insinuated that left-wing groups are secretly plotting to incite violence across the United States.

Read more at the NYT link.

Also at The New York Times, Jamelle Bouie argues that there’s a serious side to these conspiracy theories, even though they make no sense to normal people: Trump’s Perverse Campaign Strategy: If the president’s allies are talking about the moment “shooting will begin” and “martial law,” it’s not by accident.

On Sunday, Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, warned of left-wing insurrectionists and “sedition” within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during a video he hosted live on his Facebook page. After predicting victory for President Trump in the upcoming election, Caputo warned that Joe Biden wouldn’t concede. “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.” [….]

…Trump isn’t actually running for re-election — or at least, not running in the traditional manner. He has a campaign, yes, but it is not a campaign to win votes or persuade the public outside of a few, select slivers of the electorate. Instead, it’s a campaign to hold on to power by any means necessary, using every tool available to him as president of the United States. Caputo, in that sense, is only taking cues from his boss.

Of course, Trump would like to obtain a proper victory. But it’s clear he’s not counting on it. That is why the most visible aspect of Trump’s campaign for continued power is his attack on the election itself. If he doesn’t win, he says again and again, then the outcome isn’t legitimate….

Along with this warning comes Trump’s call for supporters to act as “poll watchers” to prevent imaginary fraud at voting locations….

There’s also the president’s rhetoric toward his political opponents. Asked on Fox News about “riots” if he wins re-election, Trump said he would “put them down very quickly,” before adding:

Look, it’s called insurrection. We just send in and we do it, very easy. I mean, it’s very easy. I’d rather not do that because there’s no reason for it, but if we had to we’d do that and put it down within minutes.

Trump also indicated that he supports extrajudicial killings.

Later in the interview, Trump commented on the Sept. 3 killing of Michael Forest Reinoehl by U.S. marshals. Reinoehl was suspected of shooting a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer during a protest in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 29. Trump, who swore to uphold the Constitution when he was inaugurated, claimed to have essentially called for an extrajudicial killing:

Now we sent in the U.S. marshals for the killer, the man that killed the young man in the street. Two and a half days went by, and I put out “when are you going to go get him.” And the U.S. marshals went in to get him. There was a shootout. This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. marshalls killed him. And I’ll tell you something — that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution.

Instead of making a conventional appeal to voters to give him another term in office, Trump is issuing a threat, of sorts: I cannot lose. If I do lose, the election was stolen. Anyone protesting my effort to hold onto power is an insurrectionist. And sometimes, “there has to be retribution.”

I guess that’s enough crazy for today. Take care of yourselves folks and check in if you can to let us know what’s happening where you are. We’ll be thinking of those of you who are in the paths of wildfires and hurricanes.


Crazy Caturday Reads: Trump Is Not Well.

Cat Bath, c. 1955

Good Afternoon!!

NOTE: The paintings of cats in this post are by Walter Inglis Anderson.

Trump held another super-spreader event yesterday in New Hampshire. His speech was just as hate-filled and incoherent as usual. Here’s what it looked like–no masks, no social distancing.

 

On the way up the three steps to the podium, he lost his balance and came close to falling down.

Why don’t we know why he was rushed to Walter Reed last year? Did he have a stroke?

“Trump is not well” is trending on Twitter this morning. A highlight from the speech was Trump talking about his “ass.”

There was more weirdness this morning.

It’s still difficult to believe that this clown is POTUS.

From Politicus USA: Not Well Trump Nearly Falls Down Trying To Walk Up Steps.

These events are happening more and more frequently. Trump has struggled to drink a glass of water in public. He infamously could not walk down a ramp after delivering a commencement address, and he delivered a Republican convention acceptance speech, where he illegally didn’t leave the White House, with apathy and a lack of energy.

Trump has made secret unscheduled visits to Walter Reed, and the White House has never given a complete explanation for why he was there. Trump has never released his medical records, so the American people have no verifiable medical history on the current president.

One does not need to be a doctor to look at each of these incidents and see that something is not right. None of these episodes individually are proof, but taken together they build a perception that Trump is not well, and a White House that regularly hides information from the American people could be keeping a secret about Donald Trump’s health and wellness.

Be Kind to our Cat(s), 1955

There’s a new documentary coming out about Trump’s lack of fitness for the job he holds. Here’s a review at The Wrap: ‘#Unfit’ Film Review: Documentary Offers a Scary Diagnosis of Donald Trump, But Will Voters Listen?

“#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump” is a frightening documentary that can leave you scared to death about the prospect of Donald Trump remaining in the Oval Office a day longer than is absolutely necessary. It’s a cautionary tale that can offer some degree of insight into the mind of our commander in chief. But it’s also a political documentary that can make you wonder whether film is even the right medium with which to take on Trump, and whether a movie like this can connect with anybody who doesn’t already believe everything it has to say.

The film by director Dan Partland is timely, of course, hitting select theaters and virtual cinemas on August 28, at the end of the week of the Republican Convention, and heading to streaming and VOD on Sept. 1. And it is tied into current news: Its focus on psychoanalyzing the president fits with the approach in Mary Trump’s recent book about her uncle, “Too Much and Never Enough,” while its use of George Conway as a prominent talking head coincides with Conway’s weekend announcement that he is stepping away from his work with the anti-Trump Lincoln Project while his wife, Kellyanne Conway, departs from her White House job so the couple can devote more time to family matters….

But that timeliness could in some ways be problematic for “#Unfit” — because today’s politics, particularly in the era of a Twitter-driven presidency and an around-the-clock barrage of revelation, accusation and condemnation, simply move too fast for any film to not seem a step or two behind the times.

(In a clear sign of how difficult it is to keep up with the news in a feature film, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t even mentioned until 1 hour and 15 minutes into the movie, which also happens to be less than 10 minutes before it ends.)

“#Unfit” tries to make up for this by being deep and comprehensive, though it mostly does a stylish job of trotting out experts we’ve seen over the last three years on MSNBC and CNN and occasionally Fox News. And as the title suggests, it hitches its wagon to the idea of explaining Trump by using psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose what they see as a clear case of malignant narcissism.

Black Eyed Susans, c. 1955

Here’s another take on what is wrong with Trump. The Daily Edge: Diagnosis: Psychopath. A clinical psychologist explains the one disorder that trumps all others.

He’s a liar. He’s a conman. He’s a cheat. He’s a narcissist. Or a “malignant narcissist.” He’s broken. He has no shame. He has Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Everyone has an opinion about what’s wrong with Donald J. Trump.

But as Vince Greenwood, Ph.D., argues in a recent Medium article, too many opinions have become the problem….

Dr. Greenwood believes that clinically diagnosing Trump as a Psychopath, based on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist — Revised (PCL-R), renders all other diagnoses obsolete—and allows us to focus on the real problem.

Seriously. We saw what four years of a cancer on conservatism did to the GOP. The cancer has metastasized. Stochastic terrorism is the new norm—we’ve seen the party shrug at the MAGA bomber, the El Paso shooter and now the Kenosha killer. We’ve seen the President exchange love letters with dictators, defend wife beaters, endorse pedophiles, and hail the success of QAnon candidates. Imagine what four more years led by a psychopath who no longer has to worry about getting himself re-elected would do to the country and the world.

With less than 10 weeks to the election, America is facing a choice: Divorce Trump. Or renew its vows. If America was your friend, and you knew it had married a psychopath, wouldn’t you urge it to get the divorce?

Read the interview with Greenwood at the link.

More reporting on Trump’s unhinged speech last night in New Hampshire:

The Washington Post: Trump escalates rhetoric on unrest in cities, looking for a campaign advantage.

LONDONDERRY, N.H. — President Trump threatened Friday to invoke the Insurrection Act in American cities and told supporters in New Hampshire they must vote for him to “save democracy from the mob,” an escalation of his campaign rhetoric against demonstrators in the streets.

Trump opened his speech in a suburban airport hangar here with a harsh, fiery depiction of major American cities and a detailed monologue about agitators chasing and taunting his supporters and allies outside the White House following his convention speech Thursday night, describing scenes he had viewed on television in vivid detail. Even after he moved on to other topics, he circled back to the cities, sounding apocalyptic at times.

“Look at what happened in New York, look what happened in Chicago. All Democrats. All radical left Democrats,” Trump said. He added: “You know what I say about protesters? Protesters, your ass. I don’t talk about my ass. They’re not protesters, those are anarchists, they’re agitators, they’re rioters, they’re looters.”

Campaign aides said the lengthy remarks about unrest in cities are part of a broader strategy, driven by Trump, in an attempt to win suburban voters and convince Americans that violence in cities is the fault of his Democratic rival, former vice president Joe Biden — and not his. The goal: to convince voters that Trump would like to fix it, and is tougher on criminals but is being blocked by Democratic mayors, and that demonstrators are Biden supporters dangerous to their neighborhoods.

Biden recently condemned violence at protests and has urged calm while expressing support for those taking to the streets in response to the recent police shootings of Black men.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Yahoo News: Trump resumes campaign rallies and utters the unthinkable: ‘If Biden wins…’

LONDONDERRY, N.H. — One night after accepting the Republican nomination, Donald Trump resumed campaigning for reelection as though the coronavirus pandemic was a thing of the past, rallying hundreds of supporters at an airport hangar. But with the virus looming over the race, the president for the first time acknowledged even the theoretical possibility of defeat.

White Cat in Azaleas, c. 1955

“If Biden wins, which I honestly can’t believe would happen, I will have lost to a low IQ individual,” Trump told a boisterous crowd in the low hundreds gathered at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

His standing position has been that “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if this election is rigged.”

The president’s supporters stood shoulder to shoulder, most not wearing face masks that health experts say can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 181,000 Americans. On Friday, more than 45,000 new cases were reported in the U.S.

Yet Trump seemed eager to pack more people into his rally, boasting that on his approach to the airport he had seen “thousands and thousands” more supporters lined up who were denied entry out of health concerns, a twist on his usual rally mantra, that “fire marshals” had limited the size of his audience.

“Sir, we couldn’t let them in,” Trump said, recounting what he said an aide had told him, to which he said he responded, “Why not? Let ’em in.”

Brenda Guvin, a retiree from Londonderry, was one of those who did make it inside. She wore a red Trump face mask that had been distributed by the campaign — wrapped around her wrist — and said she wasn’t worried about standing in the packed crowd without a mask.

“I’m not. I’m really not. I’m 74, I’ve had all the tests. I’m fine,” Guvin told Yahoo News. “I don’t know anybody that’s had it. So, we’ll see, but I don’t think there’s going to be any problems.”

Famous last words.

Four Kittens

More stories to check out:

The New York Times: Rival Themes Emerge as Race Enters Final Weeks: Covid vs. Law and Order.

Slate Magazine: What Is Ivanka Smiling About? America is crumbling. But the president’s daughter is just thrilled to be here.

The Washington Post: Amid fears that Trump might not leave office, two lawmakers press for Pentagon assurances on the election.

The Washington Post: Secret Service copes with coronavirus cases in aftermath of Trump appearances.

The Daily Beast: Trump Advisers: He Was ‘Triggered’ by Talk of White Supremacy.

Michael Gerson at The Washington Post: Trump’s speech was nasty, brutish and interminable.

Vanity Fair: “Melania Did. Not. Care”: In A Blistering New Book By Stephie Winston Wolkoff, Melania Trump Sounds A Lot Like Her Husband.

HuffPost UK: Melania Trump Wore A ‘Green Screen Dress’ And It Played Out Just As You’d Expect.