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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Federal Fox News Investigation Widens Beyond Sex Harassment Payouts, Report Says

The federal Fox News investigation now reportedly includes potential mail and wire fraud cases. (photo: Mary Altaffer/AP)
The federal Fox News investigation now reportedly includes potential mail and wire fraud cases. (photo: Mary Altaffer/AP)

By Christopher Brennan, New York Daily News
28 April 17
 
ederal investigators' probe into Fox News has expanded beyond questions over its sexual harassment payouts, according to a report.

The Justice Department investigation of the conservative news network has seen interviews being conducted with former Fox staffers, with the Postal Inspection Service overseeing potential mail and wire fraud cases, CNN reported Thursday. 

The Daily News first reported in February that Fox News was under “ongoing criminal investigation” by the Justice Department, after a lawyer for former host Andrea Tantaros said that one of his other clients had received a subpoena.

That investigation was being led by the department’s securities unit, attorney Judd Burstein said at the time, adding that Fox’s failure to disclose sexual harassment payouts could violate federal law.

Fox News confirmed in February that the company had been in communication with the U.S. attorney’s office for months.

CNN reported Thursday that federal investigators were looking beyond the settlement payments toward consultants of Roger Ailes, the disgraced former head of the network.

The Justice Department has not commented on the Fox investigations.

Burstein said previously that the subpoena came from the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by President Trump in March.

Trump's praise of Fox News has been effusive while he lambasts other media he sees as “fake news,” leading to uncertainty about the future of the federal investigation.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Failure of Trump's First 100 Days a Win for America




By Frank Rich, New York Magazine

 

his weekend marks the end of President Trump’s first 100 days — a chance to evaluate not only his progress (or lack thereof), but how the nation will change under a Trump administration. What are the early signs of the changes he’s brought to Washington, to our understanding of politics and political journalism, and to our sense of civic engagement? 

As someone is writing every ten minutes now, Trump’s first hundred days have been marked by no major achievements beyond the successful nomination of a Supreme Court justice. Every other attempt to do something big has been shot down by a Republican-controlled Congress or the courts. Even by his own campaign yardstick his administration is thus far a failure. While the White House busily promotes the sheer number of executive orders the president has signed since January 20, a Washington Post fact-checker found that of the 60 promises candidate Trump made in his self-proclaimed “contract” with Americans, he has kept five, broken five, and taken no action on 34 others. In other words, that “contract” has roughly the same value as a diploma from Trump University: It’s a scam designed to bamboozle a credulous public while he and his family pick its pockets. Kleptocracy — surfacing everywhere from State Department web sites tasked with promoting Mar-a-lago to a tax proposal that benefits Trumps and Kushners ├╝ber alles — remains the only consistent ideology at this White House.

It’s good news that Trump thinks governing is as easy as picking up a phone and calling room service at a Trump hotel. The more lazy, ineffectual, and incompetent he is, the less damage he can inflict. The most patriotic act he can perform is to play more golf. But in some ways the young Trump administration is nonetheless a roaring success. For all the attention paid to the president’s historically low standing in the polls, he has nonetheless held on to a unified, intractable base that thinks he’s doing fine. Trump’s approval number in the Washington Post-ABC News survey released this week, 42 percent, may be dismal, but his approval rating among his own voters is 94 percent. Only 2 percent of those who voted for Trump in November regret doing so — even as he shows no sign of creating jobs with a trillion-dollar infrastructure program but every determination to gut those voters’ health care. He could still pull out a gun and shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing any of his faithful.

Yes, Trump voters are a minority of the country. But they are a powerful minority that has brought to heel a major political party — the party that holds the most power at the federal and state levels alike. The craven Vichy Republican leadership remains so cowed by these voters that it thinks nothing of abandoning its own most cherished principles — a detestation of government deficits, a hawkish stance toward Putin’s Russia — to curry favor with Dear Leader. Even nominal Democrats collaborating with the administration are reduced to Jell-O by the prospect of accruing more power by proximity to Trump: Witness the humiliating prevarication of the Goldman Sachs alum turned White House economic chieftain, Gary Cohn, as he helped promote the president’s tax proposal in a dog-and-pony show this week.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party remains short of national leadership and anything but unified. The disarray and lack of focus was most recently symbolized — for me, anyway — by a dustup in which some in its ranks took umbrage at Bernie Sanders for answering “I don’t know” when asked by a reporter if Jon Ossoff, the favored Democrat in the Georgia special congressional election, could be called “a progressive.” Really, who cares? Is this the kind of ephemera the left should be debating during the Trump presidency? (Sanders, it might be remembered, doesn’t even call himself a Democrat.) What ultimately mattered is that Ossoff didn’t win the majority vote needed to lock down that Georgia seat in the primary. For all the passion and fledgling power of the Resistance, exemplified by the Women’s March and the raucous town-hall confrontations that shook GOP members of Congress visiting their home districts, that great energy is as yet untethered from a national political apparatus that might reverse Republican rule at the ballot box in 2018 and 2020.

The press, for its part, has shown renewed vigor since the election; the investigative work by the Times and the Post on the administration has been relentless and impressive even if all but 2 percent of Trump’s voters dismiss the findings as “fake news.” But in some corners of the commentariat we are already seeing some grading on a curve: Note the heretofore Trump-phobic pundits who suddenly declared him presidential because he read from a teleprompter without mishap when addressing Congress, or bombed Syria, or manifested inchoate signs of “a learning curve.” (The only thing Trump has learned since taking office, as far as I can tell, is to specifically cite the Jewish victims when talking in public about the Holocaust.) Another form of normalization that’s creeping in could be seen in this week’s White House tax rollout.

Almost without exception television journalists and print headline writers reflexively referred to it as Trump’s “tax plan.” It was not a plan: It was a publicity stunt rushed before the public to beat the 100-day report-card deadline — a one-page assemblage of campaign bullet points full of hyperbole, bereft of most crucial details, and tied to no legislation. It too has all the value of a Trump University degree. To label it a plan is a surrender, however slight, to the White House’s propagandistic ambitions. A lot of small surrenders can add up.

Even now, Trump’s effect on our culture — not just our political culture and civic discourse — has been profound. He is nothing if not a brilliant showman. By bombarding us with outrageous statements and policy feints, then shamelessly contradicting those bombshells hours or days later with a new round of outrageous actions or rhetoric, he holds our attention as surely as the cheesiest soap opera. And it’s a soap opera on steroids, with something happening constantly, even in the wee hours on Twitter, to encourage binge-watching — the perfectly calibrated short-attention-span theater for a citizenry with an ever-shorter attention span.

I know people who claim they can turn Trump off and tune him out, and I congratulate them on their self-discipline and mental health. For the rest of us, living through the chaotic first hundred days of his presidency has often felt like standing under an enormous fire hose raining down a nonstop deluge of raw sewage.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sanders: Trump Tax Plan 'Would Slash Taxes for Himself and His Billionaire Friends'

Sen. Bernie Sanders. (photo: Getty)
Sen. Bernie Sanders. (photo: Getty)
By Max Greenwood, The Hill
27 April 17
 
en. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday railed against President Trump's proposed tax plan, saying it would make the "rigged economy" even worse.

"At a time when we have a rigged economy designed to benefit the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations, President Trump’s new tax plan would only make that system worse," Sanders said in a statement.

"He would slash taxes for himself and his billionaire friends and significantly increase the deficit, while doing little to help rebuild the collapsing middle class," he added.

The White House unveiled a list of sweeping reforms to the tax code on Wednesday aimed at simplifying the system and doing away with most deductions. The plan would lower the number of tax brackets from its current seven to three and would wipe out all deductions for individuals, except for the mortgage interest and charitable donation deductions.

But the plan also calls for an end to the estate tax and alternative minimum tax and would dramatically slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.

"Rather than making large profitable corporations — many of which pay nothing in federal income tax — finally contribute their fair share, Trump wants to give them a huge tax break," Sanders said.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Obama's Barrage of Complete Sentences Seen as Brutal Attack on Trump

Barack Obama. (photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Barack Obama. (photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
25 April 17

n an appearance at the University of Chicago on Monday, former President Barack Obama unloaded a relentless barrage of complete sentences in what was widely seen as a brutal attack on his successor, Donald Trump.

Appearing at his first public event since leaving office, Obama fired off a punishing fusillade of grammatically correct sentences, the likes of which the American people have not heard from the White House since he departed.

“He totally restricted his speech to complete sentences,” Tracy Klugian, a student at the event, said. “It was the most vicious takedown of Trump I’d ever seen.”

“About five or six sentences in, I noticed that all of his sentences had both nouns and verbs in them,” Carol Foyler, another student, said. “I couldn’t believe he was going after Trump like that.”

Obama’s blistering deployment of complete sentences clearly got under the skin of their intended target, who, moments after the event, responded with an angry tweet: “Obama bad (or sick) guy. Failing. Sad!”

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Former FOX NEWS Anchor Reveals That Roger Ailes Demanded Submission Sexually AND Politically


WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 25: Chairman and CEO of the Fox News Network Roger Ailes participates in the "America's Best Leaders: How do they lead? Where are they taking us?" National Issues Briefing hosted by U.S. News and World Report October 25, 2005 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The talk was held in collaboration with the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images for U.S. News and World Report) 
Ultra rightist slant at Fox News is readily visible on the air everyday
The culture of sexual harassment at Fox News has been well documented in the past few months. The most notorious consequences have been the staggering dismissals of Fox's CEO Roger Ailes and its ratings leader Bill O'Reilly. However, the whole story has still not been told. More women are said to be coming forward with more allegations aimed at more of Fox News' abusive personnel. 

Sunday morning on CNN's Reliable Sources another victim of Fox's depraved work environment told her story. Alisyn Camerota, currently an anchor on CNN, worked for sixteen years at Fox News. She was interviewed about her experience by Brian Stelter. Her story was disturbing, but not unlike the stories of many other women who suffered harassment at Fox.

Stelter began the segment by noting that "The culture of harassment at Fox News came from the top down. It came from Roger Ailes." Then he pointedly asked Camerota if Ailes had ever sexually harassed her. She replied "Yes. Roger Ailes did sexually harass me." She continued:

"He was often grossly inappropriate with things that he would say. And I think that many of us experienced that. He would talk about body parts. He would say 'give me spin.' He'd want to be greeted with a hug."
Then Camerota unveiled a more salacious incident in detail. She said that Ailes told her that in order to advance her career she would have to "work with him." They would have to get to know each other better, and that would have to be done away from the office in a hotel. Then he asked suggestively, "Do you know what I'm saying?" Of course she did.

Camerota then goes on to describe what happened following her refusal to comply with Ailes' sexual demands. And while not as personally repulsive, his behavior illustrates something else that makes Fox News a wholly disreputable source of journalism. Camerota confirms that the network's "fair and balanced" pretense is a sham. "In Roger's world view," she says, "there was no other side. Liberals were always wrong, conservatives were generally right, and that’s what he felt that we should be reflecting on the air." Ailes aimed his insistence on political bias directly at Camerota:

"Roger Ailes ruled with an iron fist. He wanted us all to fall in line and have his world view and say the things that he wanted us to say on Fox News. And he targeted me because he sort of figured out early on that I didn’t share his world view. He said, 'You’re not saying the conservative things that I want you to say. You could be a real model and you could be a real star if only you could sound conservative.'"
The evidence of the ultra rightist slant at Fox News is readily visible on the air everyday. But there aren't very many personal accounts of the pressure people were under to conform to its conservative orthodoxy. Camerota's first-hand account is a valuable contribution to the case against Fox News. And the fact that her experience transverses from the lurid to the professional makes it that much more compelling.

Monday, April 24, 2017

AP interview provides your handy reminder that Donald Trump is nucking futs

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05:  U.S. President Donald Trump  speaks during a news conference with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Rose Garden of the White House April 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump held talks on Middle East peace process and other bilateral issues with King Abdullah II.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Since Donald Trump took office—before Donald Trump took office—there was a sudden burst of interest in the 25th Amendment, that little bit of text that describes how the president may be removed from office if unfit to serve. But of course, the application of that rule is just a fantasy. There’s no way that Donald Trump’s cabinet or the Republican Congress would actually pull the switch.

It’s just that with every interview which passes, Donald Trump shows why they really, really should.

There’s the unreasoning arrogance of a grade-school bully,
AP: Can you tell me a little bit about how that came about?
TRUMP: No, just — you know, I asked the government to let her out. … You know Obama worked on it for three years, got zippo, zero.
There’s the Greek chorus of imaginary praise that speaks to him from everywhere on everything.
TRUMP: Many people, human rights people, are talking about it. ...
TRUMP: People have given me credit for having great chemistry with all of the leaders, including el-Sissi.  …
TRUMP: People said they've never seen anything like what's going on right now. 
And the persecution he feels because that praise doesn’t end up on the front page of every paper.
TRUMP: I've developed great relationships with all of these leaders. Nobody's written that. ...
TRUMP: And the media, some of them get it, in all fairness. But you know some of them either don't get it, in which case they're very stupid people, or they just don't want to say it.
And there’s the just plain delusional.
TRUMP: A little before I took office there was a terrible article about the F-35 fighter jet. It was hundreds of billions of dollars over budget. It was seven years behind schedule. It was a disaster. So I called in Lockheed and I said, "I'm sorry, we're going to have to bid this out to another company, namely Boeing," or whoever else. But Boeing. And I called in Boeing and I started getting competing offers back and forth. ...
TRUMP: I saved $725 million on the 90 planes. Just 90. Now there are 3,000 planes that are going to be ordered. On 90 planes I saved $725 million. It's actually a little bit more than that, but it's $725 million. Gen. Mattis, who had to sign the deal when it came to his office, said, "I've never seen anything like this in my life." We went from a company that wanted more money for the planes to a company that cut. And the reason they cut — same planes, same everything — was because of me. I mean, because that's what I do.
TRUMP: Now if you multiply that times 3,000 planes, you know this is on 90 planes. In fact, when the Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe of Japan came in because they bought a certain number of those ... The first thing he said to me, because it was right at the time I did it, he said, "Could I thank you?" I said, "What?" He said, "You saved us $100 million." Because they got a $100 million savings on the 10 or 12 planes that they (bought). Nobody wrote that story. Now you know that's a saving of billions and billions of dollars, many billions of dollars over the course of — it's between 2,500 and 3,000 planes will be the final order. But this was only 90 of those 2,500 planes.
None of which — none — makes sense. Here’s what really happened. Trump saw an article about the F-35. He made a noise about Boeing building a “super F-18” instead, a plane which doesn’t exist. Trump was then told that the price of the F-35 was dropping, because those initial prices included the high cost of developing the plane and setting up production. The end. That’s the whole story. The planes are going to cost exactly what they were going to cost. Trump saved not a penny.

But he now relates doing nothing as a great, unprecedented triumph—his example for one of the most important things to happen in his presidency.

This story is actually a great example of something. It’s a great example of how the media aids Trump’s delusions and fails to call him on a giant lie that happened in public, with full knowledge of everyone. But with rare exceptions, the press decided that nodding and reporting what Trump said was sufficient coverage.

Trump isn’t just convinced that he’s saved insane amounts of money, but he’s also fixed the world, just by being there.
TRUMP: You know because of a couple of them said, "He didn't call them a currency manipulator." Well, for two reasons. Number One, he's not, since my time. You know, very specific formula. You would think it's like generalities, it's not. They have — they've actually — their currency's gone up. So it's a very, very specific formula. And I said, "How badly have they been," ... they said, "Since you got to office they have not manipulated their currency." That's Number One, but much more important, they are working with us on North Korea. Now maybe that'll work out or maybe it won't. Can you imagine? ...
Stupid previous presidents didn’t fix this because … they weren’t Donald Trump. And the media might say that Donald Trump didn’t do anything, but he really did. He was Donald Trump. And that’s what all this really needed. It needed Donald Trump to just sit down and Donald Trump the hell out of it.
And, perhaps best of all …
AP: So in terms of the 100-day plan that you did put out during the campaign, do you feel, though, that people should hold you accountable to this in terms of judging success?
TRUMP: No, because much of the foundation's been laid. Things came up. I'll give you an example. I didn't put Supreme Court judge on the 100 (day) plan, and I got a Supreme Court judge.
AP: I think it's on there.
TRUMP: I don't know. …
Go read the whole thing. If you dare.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

GOP Rape Advisory Chart






UPDATE 8/30/15: THE GOP RAPE ADVISORY CHART NOW HAS IT'S OWN WEBSITE AT http://goprapeadvisorychart.com AND IS UP TO 10 VOLUMES.
A week or so ago, connecticutie posted her version of the GOP Rape Advisory Chart to help sort out all of the confusion about the wide variety of rape "flavors" that today's Republican Party seems so hell-bent on bringing to light.

I thought she did a fantastic job, but, given the latest entries into the "rainbow of rape flavors" yesterday and today by Richard Mourdock and John Cornyn, I decided to create a revised version that plays it straight--I'm just including the actual quotes themselves. Feel free to repost on FB, TW or wherever you wish.

So, without further ado, I present the updated Republican Party Rape Advisory Chart:

Wow. I'm beyond flattered (if "flattered" is the appropriate term...seems a bit inappropriate in this case).

Anyway, just to reiterate, since I've had at least one person contact me directly about it, please feel free to repost the graphic anywhere you wish, and don't worry about "credit" or "attribution"...the color-code chart was connecticuties, as noted above, and I certainly don't want "credit" for the disgusting statements by the GOP jackasses in the chart.

Also, if you want to attach a link to the chart, I'd recommend either a) ANY of the Democrats running against the scumbags who made the quotes (there's too many to list again) or, alternately, RAINN, which seems appropriate.

I should probably also note that the chart above is far from all-inclusive. Several additional quotes are listed in the comments, and there's many (far, far too many) more that haven't been yet.

Unfortunately, I don't think Photoshop could handle that large of an image file if I tried to include them all, and I'd quickly run out of background colors to use.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

White House sends press release featuring White House praise for White House


I had to come up with a good quote or Trump wouldn't let me go to Mar-a-Lago anymore.

Do you remember the last Republican National Convention, where private citizen after private citizen came up to praise Donald J. Trump and, uncannily, pretty much every one of them turned out to either be on Donald J. Trump's current payroll or was engaged in some financial venture with him? Team Trump has carried that grand tradition into the White House, with a press release praising their latest executive order filled out with quotes from da Team Trump people that wrote it.

“I am proud to stand with the President as he leads on prioritizing American workers and American products first. These ‘Buy American, Hire American’ initiatives will stimulate economic and wage growth, while ensuring that our government is using high quality products that are Made in the U.S.A.” – Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury [...] “This historic act of leadership from President Trump makes unequivocally clear that this Administration will serve and protect the American worker – fighting for fair trade and immigration policies that promote rising wages and employment for our hardworking citizens.” – Stephen Miller, Senior Advisor to the President for Policy
The press release is in fact titled Senior Administration Officials Praise President Donald J. Trump’s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, perhaps because Executive Order Praised By White House Staffers Who Would Be Fired If They Didn't was a bit too on-the-nose.

I realize that praise for Donald Trump has, throughout his entire life, been damn hard to come by. That's why Trump himself would pretend to be his own publicist and cold-call people to heap praise on himself; If he didn't, who would? But the White House releasing a press release consisting of nothing but people hired by Trump saying nice things about him seems a bit like making one of the core points in your doctoral thesis "and my mom agrees with me."

Not saying you can't do it. Just saying maybe you should try harder.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Top 5 Ways Bill O'Reilly Gave Us Trump and Cheapened America

Bill O'Reilly. (photo: Fox News)
Bill O'Reilly. (photo: Fox News)

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment
20 April 17
 
ill O’Reilly is off the airwaves, but it doesn’t really matter. The despicable strategy of presslord Rupert Murdoch of orienting his Fox Cable “news” toward the nativist far right in the United States will continue. They’ll just find another O’Reilly. Worse, there is more or less an O’Reilly in the White House now, with the nuclear codes. Murdoch and O’Reilly in many ways gave us the Trump presidency, running the Republic into a brick wall.

1. Trump’s ridiculous and very expensive plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico? That was an O’Reilly idea. I remember seeing O’Reilly trot it out in an interview with the late thriller writer Tom Clancy after 9/11:
O’REILLY: Now, I’ve been banging this drum for more than a year, and I did a “Talking Points” tonight on it, is that the borders are so chaotic and they’re not secured, and we’re very vulnerable from both Canada and Mexico for people who want to bring stuff in and come in here, and the INS can’t control it. Am I wrong there?
CLANCY: No, it’s one of the problems of, you know, one of the consequences of living in a free and open society. You know, the Statue of Liberty invites people in. She’s not holding a machine gun to keep people away.
Clancy wasn’t exactly left wing. But he tried to warn O’Reilly that crackpot plans like the Wall were a long step toward the US becoming a new Soviet Union. The latter, he said, had failed. Now we have a president with squirrels running around in his cranium, who saw O’Reilly push this nonsense and wants to charge us billions in taxes to build it.

It all comes out of a wounded white nationalism, buffeted by globalization, where African-Americans and immigrants are allegedly stealing jobs (they aren’t).

2. O’Reilly beat the drum nightly for George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. He repeatedly alleged that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was behind al-Qaeda, with the implication that Iraq blew up New York and Washington, D.C. He repeatedly alleged that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” and that he was training al-Qaeda operatives in chemical weapons use at Salman Pak. There is no evidence that that was the case. Iraq had nothing to do with al-Qaeda and was clearly afraid of it. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

O’Reilly had said that if there turned out to be no WMD in Iraq, he would become more skeptical of the Bush white house. But despite the collapse of the case against Iraq, O’Reilly went on cheerleading for Bush/ Cheney.

3. O’Reilly said on “The View” that “Muslims hit us” on 9/11. Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walked off the set when O’Reilly doubled down on his hate speech and gross generalization. When Trump said last fall “Islam hates us,” he was just echoing O’Reilly. 


4. O’Reilly has repeatedly said racist things, and his current troubles began when he said of senior Congresswoman Maxine Waters that he could not get past her “James Brown wig.” In a famous incident on his now-defunct radio show, O’Reilly had professed himself shocked, on eating at a restaurant owned by African-Americans, that the patrons seemed perfectly respectable. He had recently said that Trump won’t be able to help African-Americans because “ill-educated and have tattoos on their foreheads.”

Then there was all the other bigotry, as when he compared gay marriage to Goat Marriage. 

5. O’Reilly’s denial that any practical measures need to be taken to limit CO2 emissions, because they would disadvantage American corporations. Climate denialism is the original fake news, and O’Reilly & Fox were one major source that Trump scans for news like this.

He’s a mean, mean man. And a bad historian, which yours truly holds against him, hard. He managed to cheapen my America and then he made millions writing “fake history.”

The O’Reilly Factor is dead. But Fox will just go on polluting the airwaves.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Trump rattles seaborne saber at North Korea, but his fleet was in wrong ocean headed the wrong way


The USS Carl Vinson, a US nuclear powered aircraft carrier, is seen in Hong Kong waters on December 27, 2011.   The USS Carl Vinson, which was commissioned in 1982, is in Hong Kong for a three day visit.  AFP PHOTO / AARON TAM (Photo credit should read aaron tam/AFP/Getty Images)
Where in the world is ... our 100,000 ton 1,000' long aircraft carrier?
Great powers never bluff. They just lie outright about the location, direction, and intent of entire carrier groups. As the New York Times reports, a few ships are not where the Trump White House said they were.
As worries deepened last week about whether North Korea would conduct a missile test, the White House declared that ordering an American aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan would send a powerful deterrent signal and give President Trump more options in responding to the North’s provocative behavior.
Because nothing comforts people and soothes international tension like reporting that you’re bringing in a fleet of warships. However, in this case, there’s an issue other than bringing in some ships to show the flag.
The problem was, the carrier, the Carl Vinson, and the four other warships in its strike force were at that very moment sailing in the opposite direction, to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula.
They … lied about where the ships were, where they were going, and what they were doing? Didn’t they think that someone might notice when a 100,000 ton ship that’s better than 1,000 feet long and carrying a crew of 5,000 didn’t show up?

Actually, it appears that the Trump regime wasn’t so much lying about the ships. They just screwed up—in pretty much every way you can think of.
White House officials said on Tuesday they were relying on guidance from the Defense Department. Officials there describe a glitch-ridden sequence of events, from a premature announcement of the deployment by the military’s Pacific Command to an erroneous explanation by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — all of which perpetuated the false narrative that an American armada was racing toward the waters off North Korea.
Well then. Wouldn’t it have been hilarious if Trump had ordered some action confident that the Vinson and her companions were on hand to support his play? And how much better can it get in the “Showing North Korea we’re really serious this time” category than threatening them with ships that were sailing in the other direction?

Next up: Trump orders Navy to stop taking pictures so no one will know when he’s wrong.

Your reminder for the day: This is not normal.