THE TRUMP EFFECT
TEACHING ALL OF US TO DISTRUST & INVESTIGATE EVERYTHING
One of the unintended consequences of the Trump Administration and Trump himself is the increased need by we the people to check every single statement – word by word, in some cases – for veracity. That’s right. Since his inauguration, there has been a veritable torrent of “inaccurate,” “misleading,” and/or “downright false” pronouncements by Trump and his Trump Team members. Take the latest “misstatement” by Trump for example: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"
When Trump the Tweeter in Chief made this pronouncement, we did not know for sure if it was “true,” “mainly true,” “partially false,” or a four Pinocchio, Pants on Fire “outright lie.” Right off, I assumed the Tweet was false on its face. No President, even the Anti-Christ Obama, can order a wiretap himself. Theoretically, a President could order the Justice Department – Presidents do not make such recommendations directly to the FBI – to undertake an investigation into pretty much anyone and anything, but it’s up to DOJ to mount such an investigation if it deems such a probe justified. But, from what we know now, this is not the case when it comes to the wiretapping or not of Trump Tower. Whatever surveillance was undertaken, and FBI Director Comey was pretty much forced to state publicly that yes, indeed, there is an ongoing investigation into Russia’s influence in the 2016 Presidential election and anyone and everyone who might have assisted or cooperated or coordinated with Russia in its extensive efforts to undermine America’s democratic processes. It is assumed that such investigations are being undertaken through a FISA court order. If Trump Tower was “bugged” then it is through this mechanism that Trump and or Trump Team members may have been caught speaking with or otherwise communicating with Russian agents or are suspected to have engaged in criminal activities.
What transpired after Comey’s announcement, the Nunes caper, the Flynn immunity request, the Acting Attorney General, DOJ’s Sally Yates, proposed testimony, the White House attorneys’ turnover of classified information, Sean Spicer’s astounding statements, has all the hallmarks of one of Mack Sennett’s famous 1940’s Keystone Cops slapstick movie series or his hilarious films starring Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle.
The fact that Trump and Sean Spicer are still pushing the idea that it’s all Obama’s fault has been thoroughly debunked by every media outlet to the left of Fox News. But, and here’s where it is vital that we and the press do our due diligence, the latest right wing fake news outlet that Trump is relying on for information is Fox’s Sean Hannity and some other right wing fake news outlet pushing the falsehood that Evelyn Farkas, former Obama official, in an interview stated that there was an effort by the Obama Administration to ensure that the information they had gathered would not simply disappear. And, as it turns out, according to Ms. Farkas, a list of documents with serial numbers went not only to Executive Branch agencies but to House and Senate Intelligence Committees as well. It’s worthwhile noting that Ms. Farkas left the Obama Administration in 2015 long before we the people were aware of Russiagate.
This long foray into Russiagate is to illustrate just how the Trump Administration has forced the press to quickly evaluate the truth of virtually everything that comes out of the White House, from Executive Branch agencies and every single Trump spokesperson. This is what Trump has done after years of the media playing the “they all do it,” “there’s always another side to the story” and “we must balance opposing views,” an attitude and practice that’s gone on for years. It’s why we had years of witnessing the continued reporting about Trump’s years long birther campaign to slime Barack Obama. Well, just days into the Trump Presidency, those days are long gone. And rightly so.
Some of the other Trump pronouncements that we’ve been forced to evaluate the veracity of:
Ending Obama era environmental protections will bring back coal jobs. It’s now been a month or so and there has been much written about how the country’s 76,500 coal jobs – number of people employed by the bowling industry (69,088) and skiing (75,036) industries, travel agencies (99,888), used-car dealerships 138,000 jobs, theme parks 144,000, carwash employment tops 150,000 – are simply not coming back due primarily to the cheap cost of natural gas and other non-coal fuels and not EPA job killing regulations.
One early Trumpism that has been thoroughly debunked by facts, is that illegal Mexicans were pouring over the border and assisted in invading America by the Mexican Government. As it turns out, reality has bitten this lie in the ass. Seems that Mexicans are pouring over the border in a such a small trickle not seen in 20 years. In fact, there has been a net out-migration of Mexicans from the U.S. back to Mexico.
Trump tweeted after the FBI’s James Comey’s and NSA’s Mike Rogers Congressional testimony on March 20: "The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process." This was from the official White House Twitter account, @POTUS. The rest of us who actually watched the testimony knew that this is not what they said. The press debunked this outright lie the same day it was tweeted.
President Trump stated that “ "The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years." This outright falsehood was debunked by the press in a matter of hours.
“Activities by foreign governments had "absolutely no effect on the outcome of this election." Trump concluded this from a previously classified intelligence report. Here’s what the report actually said according to the newly vigilant press: A declassified version of the report found that "Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate (Trump’s opponent, Hillary) Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency."
There are so many more examples that it defies the imagination. But in what seems to be the abject ignorance of Trump and his Administration, he and they do not seem to realize that 1) there are more people in the country who did not vote for and do not support him and his policies than do. 2) Trump’s attacks on the media have goaded them into becoming far more serious about ferreting out facts and truth than ever before. 3) the effectiveness of over-the-top propaganda when overdone and is proven false again and again, destroys credibility. 4) constant bashing of our democratic institutions by Trump – the courts, the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, Congress, investigative procedures, etc. – might work for Trump’s die-hard supporters but not for the rest of us.
So here we are on day 72 of the Trump Administration. I had posited some time ago that it looked as if we were going to be subjected to years of a Watergate style scandal with drips and drabs of info coming into the public domain slowly. While I’m not yet ready to bet that it might take less time for Russiagate to be resolved, it does look as if the ignorance and incompetence of the White House is actually speeding up Trump’s demise.
Problem is that we will still be faced with the “revenge against liberals and progressives” campaign that his Administration is engaged in much to the detriment to our environment, to our international reputation, to our economy and to our Republic.