When you hear the president claim hoax, dig deeper

Five biographers have noted long ago, the president has a problem with the truth. I often use the quote of Thomas Wells, an attorney that worked for Trump, who wrote in 2016, “Donald Trump lies every day, even about things of no consequence.” So, when Donald Trump claims something is hoax, dig deeper.

The Russian bounty story has now been called a hoax by the president, created by the media and Democrats. These words eerily track the words he uttered repeatedly about COVID-19 as late as February 28. Ironically, that was the night of the first official American death from COVID-19. This hoax has now killed over 127,000 Americans and the misinformation continues.

The Russian investigation was a called a hoax, but The Mueller Report, did not exonerate Trump noting he likely obstructed justice, had a campaign with too many unusual contacts with Russians and he was untruthful on more than a few occasions. And, this so-called hoax sent several folks to jail.

The Ukraine arm-twisting for personal gain was called a hoax, but we saw a parade of duty-bound and honorable public servants testify under oath at great risk over their concerns. These folks knew they would likely be fired by a well-known vindictive person. This led to his impeachment by the House. It should be noted former National Security Advisor John Bolton, in his book “The room where it happened,” corroborated the testimony of Dr. Fiona Hill, who was one of the more impactful testifiers.

The hoax term has been pulled out of the holster on several occasions on other mistakes or misstatements made by this president both here and abroad. Often, he adds a heavy dose of ridicule to those who dare ask him a tough question. Sadly, what his ardent followers fail to realize is the problem is the person crying “hoax.”

One of the dilemmas is the problem goes beyond the lying. Per two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” which is based on 750 recorded interview hours, the president does not invest the time to read briefings. This is not new, as his short attention span matches his short fuse, also prevalent in this and other books about the Trump White House. He does not read and his staff is scared of his volatile temper. On the Russian bounty issue, he said he was not briefed, because he didn’t do his work.

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Trump is unfit for the role he is in, saying “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try.” A GOP legislator named Shawn Lemmonds (former local mayor and state house representative) who is helping organize an alternative Republican convention of anti-Trumpers said today in The Charlotte Observer, “he considers the ‘Trump cult’ the biggest threat to the country since World War II and the biggest threat to the party since Nixon.”

In essence, the US president has a job he is unsuited for and does not care to learn. If he would tweet less, he may have more time to read what we need him to know. As Former Secretary of Labor (and advisor to two Democrat and one Republican president), Robert Reich noted “Trump is a clear and present danger to America and the world.” Sadly, that is not is hoax.

A fool’s errand

The president of the United States said yesterday that reporters are trying to get the coronavirus so that they can infect him. In a long list of bizarre, blatant and mere exaggerated lies, this comment may be his most idiotic. Mind you, there is a lot of competition for the prize as most idiotic. But, to think someone would endanger themselves and their family to get the president sick is just beyond reason.

The fact the president is untruthful is not news. Even Tucker Carlson admitted to such on his Fox News program last fall. Why that is not more of a problem to Carlson is beyond me? Lately, I have been using the following phrase to define how we should react to the president’s persistent untruthfulness. “Taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand.”

When Trump supporters tell me I just don’t like the president, the truthful response is I do not like that I cannot trust the president of the United States. But, I am not alone. In a poll of Europeans several weeks ago, 64% said they do not trust the president of the United States. Even more alarming is they trust Vladimir Putin and Xi Jingpeng more.

The president should not lie in everyday matters. Senator Bernie Sanders rightfully calls him a “pathological liar.” Trump’s former National Economic Advisor Gary Cohn called him a “prodigious liar.” John Dowd, an attorney working on the Mueller investigation on behalf of Trump called him a “f**king liar.” And, the list goes on, but I often use Thomas Wells, an attorney for Trump, who wrote in 2016, “Donald Trump lies everyday, even about things of no consequence.” The only thing Wells got wrong is the frequency is higher. He lies several times a day.

Yet, in times of crisis, we must look to the president for telling us what is going on. But, we cannot with this person. He protects his image or the perception over the truth. He simply cannot be accountable or own the truth. He said earlier this week it is the media that is causing the stock market to fall. Per the president, it has nothing to do with the coronavirus unpreparedness and impact it is having on people doing things. And, it has nothing to with Saudi Arabia and Russia causing an oil glut or the general softening of the growth in the global economy.

As I have said to others, I no longer watch the president as it is unsettling to count the lies in real time. I prefer to read them and judge for myself. I start from the bottom not believing a word he says or tweets. Then, I go from there. To me, it is sad to feel that way about the president. Other presidents have lied, but not with the frequency and volume that the incumbent does.

-George W. Bush told us there were weapons of mass destruction as reason for invading Iraq. That was a lie.
-Bill Clinton said he did not have sexual relations with that woman. That was a lie.
-Barack Obama said if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. That was a lie.
-Ronald Reagan told us he did not sell arms to Iran to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. That was a lie.
-George HW Bush said read my lips, no new taxes. That turned out to be a lie.
-Richard Nixon said I am not a crook. That was a lie.

Yet, while I can likely note a few others by the above, I can easily name a half dozen lies the incumbent has said in about five minutes. Given more time, I can think of a few dozen. Googling would list a host more.

So, to the Trump fan who said he is just rough around the edges, or to the one in the commercial who said you can trust Donald Trump, please note the following. Trump is more than rough around the edges. And, the US is less trustworthy because our president cannot be trusted. So, my strong advice to people is “taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand.”

Pandora’s Box is a foreboding example for the GOP

Per Wikipedia, “Pandora’s box is an artifact in Greek mythology connected with the myth of Pandora in Hesiod’s Works and Days. In modern times an idiom has grown from it meaning ‘Any source of great and unexpected troubles’ or, alternatively, ‘A present which seems valuable but which in reality is a curse.’ Later depictions of the fatal container have been varied, while some literary and artistic treatments have focused more on the contents of the idiomatic box than on Pandora herself.”

This literary example comes to mind as the Republican Senators may now be fully opening Pandora’s Box, if they acquit the US president with no admonishment. They may not ever get a chance to put the president back in the box and my guess is they won’t be able to. Mind you, I believe the evidence is pretty compelling that the president is every bit as guilty and more. Sadly, he has dragged others into his mess, as is his usual modus operandi.

What they are missing because of fear and blind allegiance is this is the point of reckoning where they could have saved their party and democracy. This point may be looked back on in history as the watershed moment when the GOP leaders failed to act upon. The argument that the president’s position is above the law is absolute BS. We are not a kingdom and, if our president is corrupt and untruthful as this one is, he needs to be removed from office.

As an independent and former GOP and Democrat voter, I do not care what party is represented in the White House. But, when the incumbent dishonors the position to the point where 63% of Europeans do not trust him, trusting Putin and Xi more, what does that tell you?

Taking the US president at his word is fool’s errand. But, this is not new. His attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen said under oath, “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is a cheat.” Under oath, Cohen said he sent out over 500 strong arm letters to people and entities to not reveal any negative news about Trump. The most succinct quote about Trump comes from Thomas Wells, another attorney who worked with Trump, when he wrote before the election, “Donald Trump lies everyday, even about things of no consequence.”

The evidence is overwhelming in my view, based on the testimony of duty bound public servants under oath who testified at great risk. But, the key reason I know Trump is guilty beyond his modus operandi, is because he said he is not. When one lies like the president, the story is fluid, like retreating lines drawn in the sand.

Two powerful quotes

Two quotes. One from Carl Sandburg, the other from Samuel Clemens, or Mark Twain, as he is better known.

I was reminded this weekend of the quote from Sandburg in an editorial by Ned Barnett of the Raleigh News and Observer. The context for the editorial which included the quote, is the receved death threats toward Michael Gerhardt, an impeachment expert after he testified that Trump should be impeached.

Referencing the “histrionics of the Republican members,” Gerhardt cited Sandburg, “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.”

I have cited the Twain quote several times. It defines the difficulty in changing the impressions of Trump supporters. Twain said “It is easier to fool someone, than to convince them they have been fooled.” Sadly, this quote needs an addendum to update it for modern social media and biased news sources.

The addendum is “It is even harder when the person doing the fooling controls the sources of information of those fooled.”

Per Trump, the impeachment document is filled with “fake news.” As I have said countless times, the biggest purveyor of fake news in America is Donald J. Trump and it is not even close. Sadly, his sycophants are oblivious to this observation. As Thomas Wells, an attorney who worked for Trump for years, wrote before the election, “Donald Trump lies everyday, even about things of no consequence.”

Think about this third quote as you ponder the more famous two.

Off with his head

Given former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci’s (the Mooch) recent comments that his former boss is “off the rails,” I started to write a post about the Mad Hatter. But, there is a more appropriate caricature of the president in “Alice in Wonderland;” he acts more like the Queen of Hearts.

Any one who dares to criticize the Queen, will lose his or her proverbial head. The Mooch has been criticized for his remarks and advocacy to see the president is NOT reelected. The president said he did not know (the Mooch) that well. Yet, one would ask why he picked him to be his Communications Director, which was such a square peg/ round hole placement that it lasted eleven days.

Eugene Robinson’s latest editorial is called “Trump panicking that reality presidency won’t be renewed.” His opening and closing paragraphs are priceless. Here is the opening:

“Uh-oh. President Trump is in such a state of panic about his dimming reelection prospects that he’s getting his lies mixed up and occasionally blurting out the truth.” Robinson goes on to note Trump said it is hard for Amazon to compete with Samsung when the former has to pay tariffs, forgetting his lies that China paid the tariffs.

When the liar lies so much, he cannot keep track of them. It makes his staff panic as well. And, it has consequences. The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats had to resign because he told the truth. And, his number two in command had to go as well, as she copied her boss and told the truth.

The Queen of Hearts president cannot tolerate someone disagreeing with him, especially when that person speaks the truth. Only the president can disagree with himself. After changing his tune, he will say he never said that or it is fake news he said that. He does not seem to care that he is on record saying such.

Sadly, his sycophants (let’s call them by the less flattering synonym “toadies”) are too scared to push back as the Queen will turn his base on them. So, the toadies go silent or offer milquetoast criticism of the latest regal faux pas. They do not want to risk the vindictiveness of the Queen.

Or, the toadies will do worse and actively berate people saying uncomfortable truths. Right now, his toadies are piling on the Mooch for his remarks. Further, the Queen’s attorney fixer Michael Cohen was berated as untruthful to obfuscate his testimony in front of a House committee. But, the irony is they were accusing him of lying to protect Trump, while they were admonishing him to protect Trump.

What should have been heeded from Cohen’s testimony are two clear messages. First, Cohen’s job was to bully and threaten people and entities who knew of Trump’s poor behavior into not releasing it. He said he wrote over 500 letters threatening institutions not to release any of Trump’s history they possessed.

Second, the words he opened with should be heeded. “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con artist and he is a cheat.” This man knows him better than many. Why did he say that? The reason these words are not heeded is an age old practice in Washington. If you denigrate the critic (i.e., cut off his head), then you need not pay any attention to what he said.

Yet, what Cohen said gibes with comments of others. Attorney Thomas Wells said about his former boss, “Trump lies everyday, even about things of no consequence.” Former economics advisor called his former boss a “prodigious liar.”

This is why each of us must push back when the president is untruthful, bullying or hateful in his actions and remarks. Showing Republican legislators there are consequences for their acquiescence and even toadiness to this person, is the only way to embolden them.

Stable genius

A few quotes to ponder:

“I am a stable genius,” said Donald J. Trump on several occasions, most recently after he threw a tantrum to abruptly end a meeting to discuss infrastructure.

“You have been telling me you are a genius since you were seventeen. In all the time I have known you, I still don’t know what you mean,” sang Steely Dan in “Reeling in the Years.”

“We were out-prepared,” testified former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson under oath to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as he described a meeting between Putin and Trump.

More colorfully, Tillerson commented while Secretary of State after the President changed his mind again, “He is a f**king moron.”

Testifying under oath to a House Committee, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer said “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-man and a he is a cheat.”

“You will have to do a deal with the European Union,” said German Chancelor Angela Merkel eleven times in one sitting to Trump until it finally sank in he could not do a trade deal just with Germany.

“Donald Trump lies every day even about things of no consequence,” said former Trump attorney Thomas Wells.

Finally, former National Economic Advisor Gary Cohn said after witnessing the President lie about what he said to the Australian Prime Minister, “He is a prodigious liar.”

Lastly, at 60 years-old, I am hard pressed to recall a very smart person bragging on how smart he or she is. These folks need not brag.

I could go on, but that will give you a sense. The title of this post depict two words that are not top of mind to me to define the US President – stable or genius.

Instead of labels, consider these thoughts

I do not like labels. I think they are shortcuts to demean. There are plenty of labels used by people Trump appointed that are quite caustic as they crudely define Trump’s relative smarts and inconsistent truth-telling, some from Woodward’s book and some from earlier reporting. Rather than repeat those labels, I would prefer to cite comments about his actions from people who have worked with Trump or know of his organization.

From Woodward’s book, there are two stories attributed to Gary Cohn which I find telling. Cohn, who is Jewish and was the head of the White House Economic Council, said the biggest mistake he made was not resigning after Trump’s comments on Charlottesville which gave the White Supremacists a hall pass. The other is he is one of the people who took things off Trump’s desk. Mind you, Cohn was one of Trump’s most proficient hires, who openly disagreed with his tariffs and trade policies. Cohn resigned over the latter issues.

The other one I often cite comes from Thomas Wells, an attorney who worked for Trump for years. Among many other observations around his lack of interest in understanding issues and job requirements, he said “Donald Trump lies everyday, even about things of no consequence.” Mind you, there are far more succinct quotes in the Woodward book that state this premise, but I prefer Wells’ comments as they focus on the act of lying not the person lying. If his base would react to more succinct critique, I refer them to what his attorney John Dowd said in the Woodward book.

The final one came from a contractor familiar with the Trump organization who was asked in a voter panel, what he thought of candidate Trump. He succinctly said, “Word on the street is if you deal with the Trump organization, get paid up front.” This is consistent with a modus operandi of Trump stiffing contractors because of bad service. Wells noted if Trump did this a few times, that would be one thing, but he regularly cited bad service to get out of paying, one reason for the large number of Trump’s lawsuits. Many a contractor got stiffed, accepted less payment or went out of business because of one Donald J. Trump. What the contractor panelist did was corroborate what has been published.

The above paint a picture with actual examples. I do wish Cohn had resigned with the Charlottesville issue, as it would have been a major statement. I also like the contractor’s statement as it tell us a story that is at odds with his “I am on your side” message to supporters. From what I have observed and read, Trump is only on one side – Donald J. Trump’s.