John McCain Says Trump Admin’s Rhetoric Was ‘Partially to Blame” for Chemical Attack in Syria

Donald Trump’s demonstration of impotent machismo last week is beginning to get the scrutiny it deserves. The national press initially fawned over his missile attacks on Syria, suggesting that he had finally become “presidential.” It was an embarrassing display of the media’s war fetishism.

Donald Trump

It didn’t take but a few hours for reality to set in regarding the wisdom (or lack thereof) of Trump’s pointless aggression. The bombed airstrips were back in use the next day, and there was no perceptible impact on Assad’s barbarism.

On Face the Nation (video below), host John Dickerson asked Sen. John McCain about the strike. McCain indicated his general support for military action and the “message” it would deliver to Assad and other brutal tyrants. However he also noted that the failure to do any sustained damage rendered the mission ineffective. But McCain went on to express an even more startling opinion regarding Trump’s first act as Commander-in-Chief:

Dickerson: Do you think the administration did anything to encourage this behavior by the Syrians by saying that the Syrian people would determine Assad’s fate? And that removing him is not a priority? Things that were said before the use of chemical weapons?

McCain: I think it probably was partially to blame. And Secretary Tillerson basically is saying the same thing. After kind of contradicting himself and then saying the same thing, argues vigorously for a plan and a strategy.

That’s a rather damning assertion coming from a senior Republican and chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. It’s the sort of blame that Republicans usually reserve to malign President Obama. But it isn’t the first time that a Republican has observed the potential harm of weak leadership. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney, seeking to ramp up the fear quotient during George W. Bush’s reelection, said this:

“Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness.”

The unintended implication of that is that the 9/11 terrorists perceived weakness on the part of Bush which invited them to attack. The same could be attributed now to Assad perceiving such weakness in Trump. After all, after Obama forced Assad to relinquish the chemical weapons he had at the time, Assad never tried to use them again during Obama’s tenure. It wasn’t until Trump came into office that he felt he could risk it.

It’s more than a little curious that both Bush and Trump had a foreign policy crisis early in their terms. In Bush’s case, he was suffering from low poll numbers and much of the nation didn’t consider him legitimate due to the Florida election controversies and the Supreme Court eventually deciding the presidency. His invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq bolstered his public image. Similarly, Trump has the worst poll numbers ever for a new president. And now he has an excuse to start another war. Does this prove anything conclusively? Nope. I’m just sayin. Particularly in light of this tweet by Trump in 2012:

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

TBT: Trump’s Twitter Rants on Syria are a Steaming Heap of Hypocrisy

The videos of Syrian children suffering and dying from chemical bombings are almost too awful to watch. But even as Donald Trump castigates Assad, he pivots to blame President Obama for the atrocity. Trump’s public comments so far manage to produce nothing but bluster and impotent finger-pointing. He chastises Obama for not having done enough, but over the past couple of years Trump has repeatedly argued for doing nothing at all.

Donald Trump

Now CNN is reporting that:

“President Donald Trump has told some members of Congress that he is considering military action in Syria in retaliation for this week’s chemical attack, and recognizes the seriousness of the situation, a source familiar with the calls tells CNN.”

In light of that news, let’s revisit his Twitter posts for the past three years:

Those last two tweets have particular significance. Any military action has the potential of going awry. Civilians are too often the victims, even in well-intentioned missions. And already Trump has presided over more than 1,400 civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq, according to some reports. More than 200 in one incident alone. And he’s been in office less than three months. Is this what he meant during the campaign when he said that he would “bomb the hell” out of ISIS?

Also, it will be interesting to see if Trump will comply with his demand to get congressional approval before taking any military action. Needless to say, Trump has not exactly been a bastion of consistency. But on this matter he will be challenged by his Republican colleagues on Capital Hill. Sen. Rand Paul has already said publicly that he will oppose any military moves on Syria without authorization from Congress.

There really are no good solutions to this problem. Surface level analyses that advocate sending in the Marines will almost certainly result in painful losses. That includes both innocent Syrians and American troops. But more complex combinations of diplomacy and international cooperation are seemingly beyond Trump’s mental capacity to comprehend. And none of these routes guarantee a desirable outcome.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Unfortunately, America is now burdened with a leader who has no experience addressing these kinds of problems. Nor does he have any relationships with other world leaders. And he has recruited a staff that is just as unfit as he is. Does anyone really think that Jared Kushner or Rex Tillerson will find a path to peace? That leaves us with little more than crossed fingers and anxious hopes that the Pentagon will muster up some common sense and be able to exert some influence over our incompetent president. It isn’t much to hang onto, but it’s all we’ve got.

After Falling For Hoax News Site, Sean Hannity Takes On PolitiFact’s ‘Stupidity’

You really have to give the wingnut media credit for standing firm in the face of flagrant ridicule. On Sean Hannity’s Fox News program last week he cited a statistic that was not only wildly implausible, it was sourced to an Internet website that was obviously satirical.

Sean Hannity Dumbass

The hoax website, Real News Right Now, also prominently displayed plainly absurd (and humorous) articles like “Starbucks Opens Five Stores in Jordan’s 2nd Largest Refugee Camp,” and “Trump: I Would Have Prevented the Asteroid From Killing the Dinosaurs.” The author of these articles is R. Hobbus J.D, who the website says is the recipient of the Stephen Glass Distinction in Journalistic Integrity (Glass was caught making up stories for the New Republic), and the Oscar Mayer Award for Journalistic Excellence. And from this source Hannity reported that…

“You see the backlash emerging now in Europe over the refugee problem from Syria and Iraq. The president said he’s going to bring in 250,000 refugees into this country.”

Of course, President Obama never said any such thing. The fallacy of this statement was reviewed by PolitiFact who gave it their lowest rating of “Pants On Fire.” They noted that neither the President, nor anyone in his administration, had ever articulated a policy to allow anything close to 250,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq. In fact, they note that that number is three times bigger than the total number of refugees Obama has asked to bring in during 2016 from all around the world.”

Following the exposé of Hannity’s gullibility, he went on the air to denounce PolitiFact as a “liberal website” that was “attacking” him. And after saying that he doesn’t normally waste his time “responding to stupidity” (because he’s normally creating it), he proclaims that “this one time, I’m going to break my rule.” Whereupon he delivers his rebuttal to PolitiFact:

Hannity: Let me teach you simple addition. I was quoting an AP article, entitled ‘Kerry: US to accept 85,000 refugees in 2016, 100,000 in 2017.’ Well, that equals 185,000 right? But that’s not all; according to the same report, the State Department is accepting 70,000 refugees in 2015. In other words, they said the 85 on top of the 70 they took in this year, that equals 255,000. That’s how I came to the number. And by the way, for the record, if you watch my TV show, I never said all of the refugees were Syrian.

As it turns out, addition must not be as simple for Hannity as he suggests. The AP article he referenced did cite John Kerry’s statement that there would be 85,000 refugees in 2016 and 100,000 more in 2017. However, he was referring to “the number of worldwide migrants,” not just those from Iraq and Syria. What’s more, the other 70,000 refugees Hannity mentioned were also worldwide and not exclusively from the troubled region.

So Hannity found a month old article from the Associated Press and distorted the numbers to try to come up with a justification for his prior disinformation. He failed miserably. He also blatantly lied when he said that he “never said all of the refugees were Syrian.” If you read the verbatim quote above, it’s clear that he was explicitly talking about “the refugee problem from Syria and Iraq.” Consequently, it’s Hannity who is stupid and partisan, not PolitiFact. And to top it off, he’s also a liar. It seems like he might have been better off had he just apologized for the incorrect data and moved on to a new bit of dishonest propaganda. But then he’s Hannity and he’s on Fox News. He’s fulfilling his “Special Purpose.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.