Trumplandia: Jan. 4 — 11, 2020

Imminent Threat Edition

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APPROVAL ALERT AT PRESS TIME:
FiveThirtyEight Poll: 41.9% — down from 42.5% last week
Rasmussen Poll: 48% — down from 50% last week

64% Of World has No Confidence in Trump — 1/8/20 — Pew Research Poll

Welcome to Trumplandia, a place where with a bit of wit and snark, we keep the world caught up on all of the tasty Nuggets-O-Trump you may have heard about but were too busy to care. Because most of this minutia occurs just below the massive headlines about the POTUS, it’s in a land of its own. Here, an infusion of social media, video clips and print media meld with our outdated political views to make more delicious “Fake News” about our Commander-in-Chief.

So just like the president, we start it all with a little tweet like this:

Risk!

The week of our Trump — Jan. 4, 2020: Members of the Trump administration this week dealt with the aftermath of the killing of a top Iranian general by launching a multifaceted explanation as to why it was necessary to kill the man on another nation’s sovereign soil.

Possibly facing the start of a war with a nuclear-ready ally and the destabilization of one of the most volatile areas in the world, Democrats in Congress pushed for answers about the drone strike that was ordered by President Donald Trump that seemed to have undone 40 years of diplomacy in the blink of an eye.

Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed near Baghdad International Airport in Iraq last week. No one seemed to have prior warning about the action, and although not at war with either nation, top White House officials defended the assassinations as necessary to thwart an imminent attack against American interests.

It was like all of our fears had to come true and the nut job in the White House was playing some kind of sick game, not with our legal system, political system or the rule of law, but with our nuclear arsenal and the stability of the world.

Threats had been exchanged with Iranian officials over the last month, but it was not until Jan. 7, around 5:30 p.m. EST, when the big bad we’d been fighting for 40 years retaliated, firing 15 ballistic missiles into the Ain al-Asad Air Base in Iraq and destroying several structures. The exchange served as a shot across the bow and did not injure any Iraqi or Americans troops stationed there.

Many saw the response from Iran as a necessary evil to save face among the thousands of supporters of Soleimani, but it was termed an off-ramp to war and a move to de-escalate tensions in the region.

However, as the week marched forward, the strike on the Iranian general was tied first to protests at the U.S. embassy and to Iranian attacks on U.S. contractors just after Christmas. Next, it was blamed on  past behaviors by Soleimani, then more specifically, by Jan. 9, it was due to attacks he was planning on several U.S. embassies.

Even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seemed to join in on the fun, by appearing on several television news shows and stating that Soleimani posed a threat, but he was not sure where and when that threat would be carried out.

On Jan. 8, the day after Iran’s retaliatory attacks, a defiant Trump addressed the nation in an afternoon press conference filled with slurred speech and threats of greater sanctions.

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More muddled than the president’s speech were the assortment of reasons Trump said he gave the order to kill Soleimani. Democrats pushed and prodded for answers, but came away from the White House with more questions.

Even loyal Republicans senators like Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky) seemed frustrated about why Soleimani was killed and where was the imminent threat from a nation with which we were not at war.

Lee, for one, seemed more outraged after being briefed by the administration about Iran. He initially called it the worst military briefing he’d received during his almost a decade in Congress.

“What I found so distressing about the briefing is one of the messages we received from the briefers was, ‘Do not debate, do not discuss the issue of the appropriateness of further military intervention against Iran.’ If you do, ‘You will be emboldening Iran.’ ”

Lee and Paul were cast aside for their divergent views while fellow Republicans like Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) focused on those members of Congress who not only questioned the president’s motives, but also passed a bill to limit Trump’s ability to order further attacks without congressional oversight.

The hasty and reckless strike had all the markings of a temper tantrum from the American toddler-in-chief, who had been generally embarrassed by Iranian leaders since December, when proxy forces killed an American business contractor and several service members at a military base in Kirkuk.

Those attacks led to American airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that in turn killed more than 20 Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah fighters. By the end of 2019, protesters, many of whom were shouting “death to America,” attacked the U.S. embassy in Iraq over the deadly U.S. airstrikes just days before. By New Year’s Eve, the embassy was declared safe despite video of protesters spray painting the facility and bashing in its doors and breaking windows.

Vacationing in Florida, Trump wished the world a Happy New Year by sending members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne to the site and threatening that Iran would pay a “very BIG PRICE” for the protests in Iraq. He also urged that Iraqis should protect the embassy.

Then came a taunting tweet from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei:

“Firstly, You can’t do anything and secondly, If you were logical — which you’re not — you’d see that your crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan . . . have made nations hate you. If the Islamic Republic decides to challenge and fight, it will do so unequivocally. We’re not after wars, but we strongly defend the Iranian nation’s interests, dignity and glory. If anyone threatens that, we will unhesitatingly confront and strike them.”

With the protests quelled by U.S. military action, it appeared all would be quiet for New Year’s, but that was not to be. On Jan. 2, Soleimani was killed, leaving a hole in Iranian military leadership and making the world question our strategy for the region.

But not even Trump could be stupid and petty enough to risk destabilizing the Middle East in order to carry out a macho display in front of one of our adversaries, right? But during a Jan. 9 rally in Toledo, Ohio, Trump celebrated the assassination and demeaned his now dead adversary. To a cheering crowd, Trump crowed:

“He loved planting the roadside bombs, so now he’s gone.”

Then he changed the narrative and introduced a new reason for the strike, evidently Soleimani had plans to target four U.S. embassies.

Without adding any more specifics, even when questioned yesterday, Trump said the general planned a major attack on the embassy in Baghdad, as well as undisclosed military installations in the region. The new information seemed to correlate with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s statement suggesting the attacks may have been slated against U.S. facilities in Lebanon and Syria.

Further muddying the waters, a report in the Wall Street Journal suggested the drone strike came amid pressure from Senate Republicans viewed as critical to the president’s defense in his upcoming impeachment trial.

Collateral Damage

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In the fog of war, rules are compromised and objectives are expected to be uncertain. However, when you have an arrogant narcissist defining the rules of engagement, things can go wrong very quickly.

During a funeral celebration for Soleimani, dozens of people were trampled while paying their respects. A mourner anecdotally called for a bounty to be placed on Trump’s head of $80 million:

“If each one of us puts aside on American dollar, we will have 80 million American dollars, and we will reward anyone who brings us [Trump’s] head with that amount.”

Unidentified and not endorsed by the Iranian regime, the bounty on Dopey Donnie’s head proved to be fake but concerns over the looming retaliation proved to be very real. Although Iran’s retaliatory missile strike did not kill any U.S. service personnel or Iraqi military, when the smoke settled it was discovered that a Ukrainian International Airline passenger jet had crashed or was shot down, killing 167 passengers and nine crew members. The bulk of the deceased were from Canada.

U.S. officials immediately blamed the crash on the Iranians, and soon Canada would follow suit. Iranian officials initially said they wanted to investigate the catastrophe, but it was soon confirmed that the Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737 was struck by a surface to air missile from Iranian forces shortly after it took off in Tehran.

Iranian leadership said that its military had in fact “unintentionally” fired upon the civilian aircraft. Citing “human error,” the statement brings to an end speculation about how the jetliner was downed. But it also leads one to imagine if Soleimani had not been assassinated, would the passenger jet even have been in harm’s way?

What the Trump?

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Trump has been in office for exactly 1,087 days, and despite his orange skin and strange, blondish coif, he and his family always manage to astound with their ability to lower the standard of the office and act in poor taste.

I know we should be immune at this point, but with the Trumps, every day is a veritable box of chocolates. You truly never know what you’re going to get. This week we look at a few items that would normally end up on the cutting room floor, but were too odd, in a Trumpian kind of way, to ignore:

Trump’s oldest spawn, Dumb Don Jr., showed us how low he could go when he posed for yet another hunting picture on social media. Sporting his trademark shit-eating grin, the bearded Don Don showed his ass-ault rifle in a post to his personal Instagram account.

Toting an AR-15, Trump Jr. gleefully posed with the deadly weapon that was fitted with a magazine sporting an image of former Sen. Hillary Clinton behind bars. The rifle itself was modified to resemble the helmet of Christian crusaders with the Jerusalem Cross.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller may have found Donnie Jr. too dumb to collude with Russian agents, but we can’t give him a pass.

For most people it would be inappropriate to broach the topic of the Crusades after your purportedly Christian father killed a Muslim leader with a missile, but this was Don Jr. we’re talking about, so he showed off a symbol of the war with Islam from the Middle Ages.

What could make it worse?

The ancient symbol he was showcasing is also used by white supremacists and right-wing extremist groups.

I did say he was stupid.

Not be outdone, Poppa Trump managed to piss off the nice people at the American Cancer Society (ACS) in his spare time between annoying congressional Democrats, along with a few million Iranians and Iraqis.

According to a new ACS report, cancer deaths saw the largest single-year drop from 2016–17, a positive trend it has been reporting for the past 26-years. Where most would celebrate the downward trend in deaths among Americans as well as the strides the organization has been making to eradicate the disease, our needy commander-in-chief distorted the news and used it as a prop for his re-election campaign.

In a Jan. 9 tweet, Trump took credit for the lower death rate as a byproduct of his administration’s work. It did not go over well.

CNN reported that Gary Reedy, chief executive officer of the ACS said the Trump administration has done nothing to cause a decline in cancer deaths:

“Since taking office, the president has signed multiple spending bills that have included increases in funding for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute — though the impact of those increases are not reflected in the data contained in this report.”

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