Tag Archives: Trump

H.R. McMaster shreds the Honor Code

You are undoubtedly familiar with the Honor Code H.R. McMaster was required to adhere to when he was a cadet at West Point. Everyone knows “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” A seemingly simple rule that anyone can comprehend and follow, but you may not know the rest of it. In this case it is clear beyond clear that McMaster violated the Code by quibbling.

LYING: Cadets violate the Honor Code by lying if they deliberately deceive another by stating an untruth or by any direct form of communication to include the telling of a partial truth and the vague or ambiguous use of information or language with the intent to deceive or mislead. The term for this kind of evasive, misleading statement is “quibbling”, and it is considered a violation of the Code.

In the administration’s effort to discredit the report of the president revealing sensitive classified intelligence to Russian officials in the White House, they had McMaster make this statement:

The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false. … At no time, at no time, were intelligence sources or methods discussed. The president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. … I was in the room. It didn’t happen.

This was a clear attempt to lead the listener to conclude that the press story was false, but it did so in what has been termed a classic non-denial denial. He categorically denied certain actions, discussing intelligence sources or methods and disclosing military operations that were not already publicly known. By listening to his statement we are expected to conclude that the story reported by the Post and others was false and shouldn’t be relied upon. If you look more closely, though, you see that the stories in question never claimed that he discussed sources and methods or military operations.

In other words, in order to give the false impression that the Post story was wrong McMaster denied facts that were never alleged. That is, he told a partial truth and used vague or ambiguous language with the intent to mislead.

I don’t know if a military officer remains bound to the Honor Code when he is no longer a cadet, but at a minimum he violated the most basic principles that those seeking a commission in the armed forces are expected to follow.

Can you possibly argue that this can be tolerated?

Thank you, Donald Trump!

Someone once observed that a faux pas is when someone accidentally blurts out the truth.

The short-fingered vulgarian did that today, and it caused such a reaction that he had to say he didn’t mean it.

It was a discussion of abortion, and particularly whether the extreme right could trust Trump’s commitment to the anti-abortion cause. After all, he is on record years ago being pro-choice, right? So he was being interviewed by Chris Matthews, and Matthews kept pushing the anti-abortion to the logical conclusion: if abortion is illegal, should women who get abortions be punished for it?

It makes total sense. Anti-choicers claim to believe that aborting a fetus is exactly the same as killing a living human being. If it is, then anyone who does it should be prosecuted for murder, right?

And what’s more, even if you don’t pull the trigger but you hire someone to do it you also get prosecuted for murder.

And Trump went along with the whole thing. For someone who is ” very smart, really very, very smart, believe me,” he apparently wasn’t smart enough to see where this was leading, or the likely consequences of this argument (kind of a habit with him, no?), so he plunged on ahead.

“The answer is there has to be some form of punishment,” Trump said.

“For the woman?” Matthews said.

Trump said, “Yes,” and nodded. Matthews pressed further: 10 days or 10 years? Trump said he didn’t know, and that it’s “complicated.”

“It will have to be determined,” Trump said.

Of course, by the end of the day he was walking back his statements because the anti-choicers had called him to heel. They say that they never supported punishment for the woman who obtains an abortion, and I suspect that this is true for several reasons.

First, it’s bad PR. I continue to believe that the anti-choice movement is composed primarily of people who think they don’t know anyone who has had an abortion.  Still, they realize they’re out there, and they know they would seem heartless if they were calling for women who get abortions to go to prison, so they have decided not to pursue that remedy.

Second, and this is one area in which they are actually telling the truth, they consider the women who obtain abortions to be victims. Patronizing doesn’t even cover it. What they are really saying is that women do not have moral agency, so they are not responsible for their actions. Therefore, why prosecute them?

Finally, and they will never tell you this, deep down they really don’t consider fetuses full human beings the way they claim. They say they do, but they recognize that even when it’s a painful choice it’s not the same as murder. If they did, to be morally consistent they would have to push to prosecute the women for murder, just as they would like to prosecute the doctors.

So at the end of the day we owe Trump something. It won’t happen often, but on Wednesday he blurted out the truth and exposed the malevolent core of the anti-choice movement.

So thanks, Donald. You probably won’t hear it from me again.

A Pox on Both Their Houses

Now that Donald Trump‘s suit of alligator armor has suffered a rent in Iowa, I feel it is safe to say that on one thing we agree: Ted Cruz’s campaign is guilty of fraud.

No matter how you parse the story, Ted Cruz’s tightly run campaign dispersed a false story to Iowa Caucus goers, that Ben Carson was stepping down and his supporters should switch their vote to Cruz. The record of communications clearly demonstrates that this was an attempt to move voters over to Cruz by deliberate deception.

The Cruz campaign attempted to hand-off the blame to CNN. Fortunately, in this era of wall-to-wall records, it’s perfectly clear that the Cruz campaign took the legitimate story carried on CNN that Cruz was not flying to New Hampshire that night but rather to Florida “for a change of clothes,” and transformed it into a boldface lie.

That goes well beyond ‘dirty tricks,’ of which Donald Trump has no doubt played plenty.

Cruz has apologized to Ben Carson, and it is questionable how much of an effect the ruse had on the outcome; but defrauding voters is ‘voter fraud’…something which Republicans are always allegedly combatting in their efforts to suppress votes by minorities.

How is this kind of voter fraud consistent with Ted Cruz’s supercilious holier-than-thou Christian values?

Cruz’s surrogates are dismissing Donald Trump’s call for redress as the predictable whining of a sore loser. ‘True enough; but it’s not as simple as that.

What happened to that great Christian value of accepting responsibility for your actions? Apparently, if you have the credentials of a certified pious zealot, you are entitled to a ‘get-outta-hell’ card every now and again. Just say ‘sorry’ and you’re good to go.

I hope Trump does sue Cruz’s campaign. By all rights, he might just win that one…and he does love to win.

Bernie’s revolution had a promising night.

Last night’s Iowa primary was a wild ride as befit the first official vote in this extraordinary year.

Even though cable news awarded the win to Clinton, the clearness of victory most certainly remains questionable and must be bitter-sweet for the once presumptive nominee.

Establishment pundits on the same cable networks still insist Bernie doesn’t stand a chance against Hillary when minorities are factored in, but his long-time supporters know how compelling his arguments are among almost any demographic once he is able to reach them on their home turf.

Conventional wisdom treats minorities as monolithic voting blocs, likely to herd in one accustomed direction. When you think about it, that’s a pretty demeaning assumption. If we are learning anything from this election cycle, it is the folly that lies in making assumptions.

The only question is whether there is sufficient time left for Bernie to make contact with all those voters in crucial southern states who are just now becoming familiar with his name.

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that Bernie is likely to get his revolution in the long run, if his support among young people is anything to go by.

Last night was far more of a moral victory for Bernie Sanders than it was for Hillary Clinton.

With Iowa, he has already proven that, even after Citizens United, a principled candidate relying solely on small donations can still be viable against the kind of money Hillary Clinton is able to summon from establishment and corporate interests.

It must be hugely gratifying for a man who has devoted his long political career to fighting for the little guy, often suffering ridicule for his idealism.

There is an overarching theme of populism driving both the Democratic and Republican primary races. Make no mistake though; while some glib pundits suggest they are drawing from the same pool of discontent, the theme plays in a wildly different key on either side of the two party divide. Suggestions, by the same pundits, that Bernie supporters could ultimately be recruited by Trump in the event of a Hillary nomination, demonstrate how clueless the mainstream media is about the values of Bernie voters. This is hardly surprising when you consider how little attention they paid to his candidacy throughout the summer and fall.

Bernie Sanders’ revolutionary message appeals to our evolved and ‘better’ selves, while that of Donald Trump appeals to the primitive and selfish id, which instinctively responds with an adrenaline rush to fear and prejudice.

The same kind of anti-minority, nationalistic drum-beat that recruited God-fearing German citizens to join Hitler’s brownshirts is calling the extreme right flank of the Republican party to renounce the traditional American values of personal liberty, tolerance and generosity that underly our constitution.

No matter who ends up the Democratic nominee, to imagine Bernie’s followers could ever fall-in behind Donald Trump is truly laughable.