Make California Rake Again: Trump’s Fire Propaganda Video Callously Ignores the Victims

On Saturday Donald Trump took a trip to California to see for himself the devastation caused by the fires that have taken dozens of lives and destroyed thousands of homes. It was a purely PR affair that he thinks will make people forget his insensitive threat – while people were still suffering – that he would make “no more Fed payments” to the state. Those were his first public comments on the conflagration that he absurdly blamed on poor forest management.

Donald Trump Rake

Apparently someone on his White House Nanny Brigade eventually convinced him that insulting the victims was a bad idea. Particularly since his assessment was so idiotic and ill-informed. He was schooled by everyone, from the head of the California firefighters union (who called Trump’s comments “demeaning”), to prominent scientists, that forest management had nothing to with this blaze and that “raking the forest floor,” as Trump advised, was a ludicrous proposal to prevent future tragedies.

So Trump boarded Air Force One and ventured off to the West Coast that he is so fond of disparaging. He brought along a few Republican Nationalist Party pals, but no Democrats were among the delegation. Although he did meet with California’s Governor Jerry Brown, and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom (who was married to Don Jr’s current girlfriend), both of whom are Democrats that Trump has frequently and viciously maligned. And afterward he posted a video on Twitter of his time in the Golden State:

Well, isn’t that a pretty propaganda piece? Complete with emotional music and heart-tugging scenes of destruction and the charred remains of people’s lives. What less would you expect from the White House whose new Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications is Bill Shine, the former president of Fox News? This is exactly the sort of Trump-fluffing disinformation that Shine was brought aboard to manufacture. The public relations purpose of this video is painfully obvious. Along with the burnt out buildings and countryside, it featured numerous clips of Trump standing near some piles of ashes and conferring with firefighters as if he were actually directing these “great heroes” on how to proceed.

However, there is something fairly important that this video has left out. There is not a single shot of any of the victims or survivors of the fire. There are no images of Trump consoling the people who were hurt or meeting with those who lost their life’s possessions, work, or family. The absence of Trump engaging in activities that any other normal person would regard as essential – or human – under the circumstances is emblematic of his profoundly callous and neglectful behavior throughout his public life. And it underscores his comments to date that belittle the victims and distort the reality of the tragedy and its causes.

In his own words, this experience in no way altered Trump’s stubbornly twisted view of the world. He told reporters that it didn’t affect his opinion about climate change, which experts agree was a critical factor in these fires. But he did utter this rhetorical mutation: “I want great climate,” as if it were something that could be served up like a cup of coffee or built in a factory. And he reiterated his nonsense about forest management, comparing California’s situation to Finland, a tiny frozen nation that gets more than 200 days of rain annually, with sixty-four of those days in the summer. Even Finland disputed Trump’s comparison.

That’s the sort of ignorance that America has to put up with every day. But on days when Americans are grieving over painful losses it would be nice if we had a president who wasn’t so selfish and uneducated and bullheaded about his factless prejudices. Instead we are stuck with Trump and his Fox News production team making these lame videos for an audience of dimwits who think they display leadership.

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

Is Meg Whitman A Whore? A Whore? A WHORE?

Reports have surfaced today that a member of Jerry Brown’s campaign staff inquired as to whether their opponent, Meg Whitman, could be portrayed as a “whore” due to her doling out positions in exchange for endorsements. The comment about Meg Whitman being a whore came during a voice mail that somehow continued to record after Brown thought the phone call was disconnected.

The recording picked up a private conversation about whether Meg Whitman could be regarded as a whore due to her promising a police union official that she would protect pension benefits if he threw the union’s support to her campaign. This is how the Brown campaign addressed the whore subject:

BROWN: I have been warned if I crack down on pensions, I will be – that they’ll go to Whitman, and that’s where they’ll go because they know Whitman will give them, will cut them a deal, but I won’t.
AIDE: What about saying she’s a whore?
BROWN: Well, I’m going to use that. It proves you’ve cut a secret deal to protect the pensions.

The acknowledgment by Brown that he might use Whitman’s willingness to sell her positions for an endorsement (i.e. be a political whore) has generated significant buzz in the media. It also generated a response from Whitman’s camp who were critical of Brown for not repudiating the staffer who suggested calling Whitman a whore:

“The use of the term ‘whore‘ is an insult to both Meg Whitman and to the women of California,” said Sarah Pompei, a campaign spokeswoman. “This is an appalling and unforgivable smear against Meg Whitman.”

Of course everyone knows that Whitman isn’t really a whore, but this dialog can’t do her much good. For it’s part, the Brown campaign apologized for the use of the term whore:

“This was a jumbled and often inaudible recording of a private conversation,” Steven Glazer, Brown’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “We apologize to Ms. Whitman and anyone who may have been offended.”

Whitman may be justified in complaining about the language used by Brown’s aide. I’m sure she doesn’t like being characterized as a whore. However, in context, the conversation showed that Whitman was indeed offering a special treat in exchange for something of value – an endorsement. It also showed Brown acting with integrity in that he was unwilling to waver in his position with regard to the union pension just to win their support.

It seems to me that if Whitman continues to harp on the slur of having been called a whore, she will only be reinforcing the notion that she is a whore. Every time her campaign complains about being called a whore the voters will be reminded that she offered up her position on union pensions for a “fee.”

Does Whitman really want to cement the notion into the public mind that she can be had for a price? Because that’s exactly what she will be doing if she prolongs this controversy over a candid campaign discussion that just happened to wonder if her being a whore could be used to their political advantage.

If I were her I would drop the whore business ASAP. She already asked for and received an apology. The only thing she can accomplish now by pursuing it is to make sure that people continue to associate her with being a whore. And since it isn’t much of a stretch to regard any politician as a whore, it can’t possibly do her any good.

p.s. I apologizing for using the word “whore” eighteen times in this article. That’s a whore lot more than I should have.

p.p.s. Make that twenty times. Although that last one may have been a typo.

Bonus From the Archives: This may be a good time to revisit the Motor City Jackass and Tea Party hero Ted Nugent, who said:

“I was in Chicago last week I said, ‘Hey Obama, you might want to suck on one of these, you punk?’ Obama, he’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on one of my machine guns. Let’s hear it for them. I was in New York and I said, ‘Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset you worthless bitch.’ Since I’m in California, I’m gonna find Barbara Boxer she might wanna suck on my machine guns. Hey, Dianne Feinstein, ride one of these you worthless whore.

Funny…I don’t think I’ve heard Meg Whitman, the GOP, or any of the conservative establishment repudiate these remarks. Yet Nugent continues to be invited to Republican and Tea Party affairs.