Commentary with a little News with a Twist
As Trump and his gang evolve their Iran attack rationale, you can’t help but make fun
I posted a column last week entitled “It’s not funny anymore.” The sub-head was, “Note to Andy Borowitz: There’s a time and place for satire; this isn’t that time or place.”
I wrote the column right after the assassination of Qasem Soleimani and the escalating conflict with Iran in response to a satirical Borowitz Report about the incident. What I said in part was, “Here’s the problem – what Trump did, how he did it and how he’s following up on it, is not funny. It doesn’t call for satire or jokes…”
Click here to read the entire “It’s not funny anymore.” https://around-the-block.com/2020/01/06/its-not-funny-anymore
With that as a preface, today’s Around the Block continues the sober reporting of the Iran crisis but, based on the inane justifications of their actions by Trump and his gang, there’s a little Twisted news at the end.
As I write this, Trump and his gang of enablers continue to say anything to justify their increasingly unjustifiable and erratic actions. And those “anythings” seem to evolve over time, contradicting previous disreputable justifications.
This weekend, the Washington Post ran a story today headlined: “Trump now claims four embassies were under threat from Iran, raising fresh questions about intelligence reports”
Here are some excerpts:
- “President Trump said on Friday that a senior Iranian general killed by a U.S. drone strike had been planning attacks on four U.S. embassies, a claim made to justify the decision but that was at odds with intelligence assessments from senior officials in Trump’s administration.”
- “In an interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham Trump expanded on comments from a day earlier, when he initially told reporters that Soleimani’s forces ‘were looking to blow up our embassy’ in Baghdad. He later said at a rally in Toledo that ‘Soleimani was actively planning new attacks, and he was looking very seriously at our embassies, and not just the embassy in Baghdad.’”
- “’Did [Soleimani] have large-scale attacks planned for other embassies?’ Ingraham asked. ‘And if those were planned, why can’t we reveal that to the American people? Wouldn’t that help your case?’”
- “’I can reveal that I believe it probably (emphasis Around the Block) would’ve been four embassies,’” Trump said.”
The Post went on to report how administration officials reacted to Trump’s evolutionary story
- “…a senior administration official and a senior defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information, said they were only aware of vague intelligence about a plot against the embassy in Baghdad and that the information did not suggest a fully formed plot. Neither official said there were threats against multiple embassies.”
- “The senior administration official said that Trump has been fixated on not allowing an attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility, out of fear of being compared unfavorably to his predecessor.”
- “Trump is ‘totally obsessed with not letting something like Benghazi happen to him,’ the official said, referring to the 2012 attack on a U.S. facility in Libya that has achieved totemic status among Trump allies, who see it as evidence of former president Barack Obama’s alleged weakness in the face of terrorism.”
- “The embassy in Baghdad did not receive an alert commensurate to the threat Trump described*, said a person familiar with the situation, who was not authorized to comment publicly. When the U.S. government has specific information about threats to embassies, warnings or alerts are often sent to embassy personnel to be vigilant.”
*Note: On today’s Sunday news shows, new National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, whose national security credentials are, well, minimal, was questioned about why the embassy in Baghdad was not warned of an “imminent” attack. O’Brien responded, “Well listen, we’re not going to cut and run every time someone threatens us.” Yes, he really said that. And just to bring this note to a close, O’Brien came to this job with this most relevant resume item: “…special envoy for hostage affairs where he traveled to Sweden to observe the trial of the American rapper A$AP Rocky on assault charges. Really? Really!
The Post then went on to report on what lawmakers who had been briefed on the intelligence justifying the attack said. Remember, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), a strong Trump supporter left the briefing saying, “it was the worst briefing” he had been “exposed to in seven years in the Senate”. That sentiment was summed up by Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn):
- “’I feel like I would have remembered if they would have presented that kind of intel at the briefing. It sounds to me like the administration is panicking a little bit about the soundness of their rationale and deciding to share information with Fox News that they aren’t willing to share with Congress.’”
- “Murphy said the briefers — who included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark A. Milley — mentioned the Baghdad embassy only in the context of protests that occurred there in late December following a U.S. strike on a militia group that had killed a U.S. citizen in a rocket attack.”
- “’Had they presented threats about four embassies, there would have been a very different disposition from senators coming out of that briefing,’ Murphy said.”
- “Speaking of the president, he added: ‘I don’t trust what he said.’”
So no, it’s not funny. It’s pathetic. It’s dangerous. And frankly, it’s beyond comprehension that we are being led by this man, supported by sycophantic toadies whose only objective is to hold on to their jobs and their power. And unwaveringly supported by his base, who support him…well, I frankly don’t know why they support him.
What a country! What a mess!
But after saying all that, and as promised, let me close with four “News with a Twist” reports:
News with a Twist
WaPo: Pinocchio out; Trump in
The Washington Post announced today, that after a heated internal debate, the editorial board has decided that their highly regarded “fact-checking” department, whose objective is to “truth squad” the statements of political figures regarding issues of great importance, awarding one to four “Pinocchios” based on the degree of “untruth.” is, effective immediately, retiring Pinocchio. Beginning in tomorrow’s edition, untruthful facts will be awarded “Trumps.” The one to four scale will be retained (although WaPo insiders believe in rating this administration’s statements, four Trumps will predominate).
News with a Twist
Pompeo: Imminent “No”; Eminent “Yes”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, tiring of trying to explain that the assassination of Qasem Soleimani was carried out because of intelligence that suggested the general was planning an “imminent” attack, released the following statement: “I wanted to clear something up, and this is important. Reports that the president, with my agreement, authorized the attack because Soleimani was going to carry out an “imminent” attack are false. What I said, and what the President said, was he was going to carry out an “eminent” attack. ‘Eminent,’ meaning ‘big-time.’ Now we didn’t know when, where or how. But, as the President said, it ‘I believe it probably would have been four embassies.”
On a related note, following Mike Pompeo’s incredulous statement, Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo (above), stated unequivocally that she is not related to Mike Pompeo telling Around the Block, “No way, no how!”
News with a Twist
Saudi’s pays $1B for US troops; Trump deploys 101st Hessian Division
In an interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham, Trump said that he’s willing to send U.S. troops to “rich” countries to help them…as long as they pay for the troops. In that regard, Trump said he’s deploying U.S. forces to Saudi Arabia after the Saudi’s gave us $1 billion. It is not clear which bank account the money went to (the Trump organization’s?) but the Pentagon did confirm that the troops are from the 101st Hessian Division based in Germantown, TN.
News with(out) a Twist
Poll: Trump ranks below Putin in trust*
U.S President Donald Trump ranked below Russian President Vladimir Putin and just ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping in a new worldwide Pew poll that asked respondents about their confidence in global leaders to “do the right thing” in world affairs. Trump, at 64%, ranked highest in the “no confidence” rating above Putin (57%) and Xi (43%).
It’s a sad statement regarding the state of world affairs that the leader the world has the most confidence in is Angela Merkel. And she’s stepping down.
By the way, don’t you think it’s ironic that the most trusted world leader in 2020 is the German Chancellor? Just saying!