On today's BradCast, it's like deja vu all over again. But with a Commander-in-Chief who is completely clueless about any of it and powerful adversaries who claim they are prepared to shoot back. [Audio link to show follows below.]
The President of the United States has no idea what he's doing, and is simply making up policy from minute to minute, according to a Washington Post report last night, detailing how White House aides are forced to scramble each day to either explain Donald Trump's actions "or clean them up."
"There is no proactive strategic thinking," one staffer told the paper. Another senior administration official conceded that aides are often forced to "reverse-engineer a policy process to match whatever the President said" on any given day. That may be workable, sort of, when it comes to something like Trump's announcement today that, after years of bashing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and pulling the U.S. out of it shortly after taking office, he is now considering rejoining the TPP after all.
But when it comes to sending the U.S. to war, Trump's erratic behavior poses a very serious danger. To that end --- as Trump has flip-flopped over the past week between demanding the U.S. pull its troops out of Syria within 48 hours, to publicly warning Syria's main ally Russia to "get ready" for incoming missiles, to reversing positions yet again to declare a U.S. attack on the war-torn nation "could be very soon or not soon at all" --- his Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis was busy conceding to lawmakers in the U.S. House on Thursday that the Pentagon lacks evidence of the alleged chemical attack in over the weekend, reportedly carried out by the Syrian government against its own citizens in one of the last rebel-held areas near Damascus.
While noting that he "believe[s] there was a chemical attack," Mattis told lawmakers on Capitol Hill today "we're looking for the actual evidence" and admitted that even if inspectors from the international Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) get access to the site of the alleged attack, "we will not know who did it. They can only say that they found evidence or did not."
It's not the first time that Mattis has conceded we've attacked Syria in response to purported chemical attacks for which the U.S. had "no evidence".
Nonetheless, the media continue to report the weekend attack in Syria --- said to have killed more than 40 civilians with some form of poison gas --- as having been carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Even as Mattis was admitting the lack of evidence the U.S. has to support the charge, NBC News was busy reporting breathlessly and unskeptically, in an eerie echo of the run-up to the U.S. war(s) against Iraq, on claims from two unnamed "U.S. officials" citing "blood and urine samples from last Saturday's deadly attack in Syria that have tested positive for chemical weapons." It's like deja vu all over again, but with a clueless President and powerful countries like Russia and Iran already having warned that they are prepared to retaliate against any attack against the Syrian government by the U.S. or its allies.
In not-entirely-unrelated news today, as Trump continues to lie about "voter fraud" in the 2016 election (and about everything else), an alarming new study from Politico finds that voters with less access to local news voted in larger numbers for Trump in 2016 than they did for Mitt Romney in 2012. At the same time, the study reveals, those with more access to such news sources voted in higher proportion for Hillary Clinton.
The findings come as the rightwing Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the nation's largest owner of local TV news outlets, attempts to receive FCC approval to buy up enough local stations to reach some 72% of American households. While public push-back against the effort builds, the pro-Trump broadcast behemoth is revealed to be using the public airwaves at their own currently-owned stations (and websites) to lie about the mounting criticism against their practices.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on Shell's recently revealed decades long knowledge that their products cause global warming, and the mountain of scandal that continues to engulf Trump's embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)