Thursday, March 02, 2017

Making A Scene

We seem to have a difference of opinion (hat tip to Crooks and Liars).   Van Jones watched President Trump's speech on Tuesday night and concluded

There are a lot of people who have a lot of reason to be frustrated with him, to be fearful of him. But that was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period. And he did something extraordinary. And for people who have been hoping that he would become unifying, hoping that he might find some way to become presidential, they should be happy with that moment. For people who have been hoping that maybe he would remain a divisive cartoon, which he often finds a way to do, they should begin to become a little bit worried tonight, because that thing you just saw him do, if he finds a way to do that over and over again, he's going to be there for eight years. Now, there was a lot that he said in that speech that was counterfactual, that was not right, that I oppose and will oppose. But he did something tonight that you cannot take away from him. He became president of the United States.

Keith Olbermann was not amused, tweeting "You mean if he keeps sending SEALS to their deaths in the planned raids he approved for his glory and then exploited the widow, Van? STFU"

Instead of determining who is right, ask me a more difficult question: Is climate change influenced by human activity? Is the earth round? Is the world older than 9,000 years? Let's ask NBC News, shall we?

Last month's deadly commando raid in Yemen, which cost the lives of a U.S. Navy SEAL and a number of children, has so far yielded no significant intelligence, U.S. officials told NBC News.

Although Pentagon officials have said the raid produced "actionable intelligence," senior officials who spoke to NBC News said they were unaware of any, even as the father of the dead SEAL questioned the premise of the raid in an interview with the Miami Herald published Sunday.,,,

Trump was echoing the remark of Presidential Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who on Monday commented

I can tell him that on behalf of the president, his son died a hero and the information that he was able to help obtain through that raid, as I said before, is going to save American lives.The mission was successful in helping prevent a future attack or attacks on this nation.

Multiple senior officials told NBC News they have not seen evidence to support that claim. 

If there was any downside to the raid- and President Trump will never admit any- it is not only the death of Ryan Owens but that

six other U.S. service members were wounded. And at least 25 civilians were killed, including nine children under the age of 13, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. One of them was the 8-year-old daughter of U.S.-born al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

A Pentagon official told NBC News today the Pentagon does not dispute these numbers.

A $70 million U.S. aircraft also was destroyed.

There was never any doubt the former star of "The Apprentice" understands political theatre. However, Jones underestimates the intelligence of the American voter, most of whom voted against Trump, if he believes Trump can successfully act his way through the next four years.  Even George W. Bush needed a flak jacket, a war, and same-sex marriage on the Ohio ballot to transform turn his triumphant, choreographed appearance on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln into re-election.

U.S. officials now are claiming the military is pursuing "leads" picked up in the raid, according to CNN. Whether or not those leaks (ones which Donald Trump is not likely to condemn) are accurate, there was an awfully large price to pay.

Part of the cost, less valuable than human lives but still significant, is the wish of the father of Ryan Owens.  Bill Owens, himself a veteran, slammed the raid, about which "almost everything went wrong."  "Don't hide behind my son's death to prevent an investigation," pled Mr. Owens. The President's masterful use of the widow as a prop Tuesday night does not bode well for that humble request.

Mr. Owens had charged "For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen – everything was missiles and drones – because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?" When Jones turned down an offer to talk to the President, he noted "I didn't want to make a scene."

President Trump is of a different sort. He made a big display of Yemen in late January and of Mrs. Owens on Tuesday. That makes of Donald Trump a lot of things, but not a President, as Keith Olbermann so tersely informed Van Jones.

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