Friday, October 27, 2017

Trump's Big CON: "He's So Pretty", Dead Soldier Edition (AKA Trump is a Psycho-Narcissistic Con Man (CONt., Part 19))

UPDATE XVI:  "Dear Mr. President, . . .

Probably nothing is more humbling than when your role as commander in chief turns into 'comforter in chief' in the wake of fallen soldiers abroad. . .

You hold the most powerful position in the world, so the fact that you thought of them to make a call will mean far more than the substance of what you say. In fact, it’s best to swallow your pride and admit that you don’t know what to say. . .

Just acknowledge and validate their pain and their sacrifice. Nothing you can say will make it go away. . .

These calls are not supposed to be about photo-ops or news releases or poll numbers. They are private calls focused on listening to the family and letting them know that the nation appreciates their loved one’s service.

You were right to refuse to release a transcript of the calls you made. This should be between you and them. They don’t need grandstanding. They don’t need a politician to become their hero. They already have a hero for their family — one who has given his life in service of this country. . .

Don’t think you can provide satisfactory answers about why this happened. Instead, ask them to tell you a few stories about the deceased service member and sit back and listen. Your goal should be to get to know that person, if only for a moment. The family wants empathy, not platitudes. . .

Rather than explanations or proclamations of revenge, families just want to be assured of one thing. They need to know that the nation weeps with them, Mr. President. And they need to know those tears are real.

Read the Washington Post, Dear Mr. President: Don’t make military deaths about you.

UPDATE XV: Do you think Kelley is "an incredible leader who is beyond reproach"?

Read the Washington Post, John Kelly said ‘women were sacred.’ That attitude perpetuates the military’s culture of misogyny.

Read also the Washington Post, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is wrong about John Kelly, which states:

"Of all the repellent statements issued by President Trump or his aides, the one that came out of the mouth of Sarah Huckabee Sanders last week was maybe the most chilling. There she stood, asking a White House reporter who the hell he thought he was to question the veracity of John F. Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, who had just smeared a congresswoman. 'If you want to go after General Kelly, that’s up to you,' she cautioned. 'If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.'

Well, sorry to pull rank, but I would not hesitate to criticize Kelly. In the first place, Kelly was dead wrong to say that Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) made the noise of 'empty barrels' when she helped memorialize the death of two FBI agents in a Florida speech. Wilson had not used the occasion to beat her own drum, as Kelly alleged, but instead insisted on proper respect for the slain agents and for the FBI in general.

Had Trump gotten things so bolloxed up it would have been par for the course. After all, he gets almost nothing right. But Kelly is one of the so-called adults, brought in to bring some order to the White House Romper Room. He’s the details guy, the one who has taken charge of the paper flow, who would have — had Trump been about to deliver such a speech — checked YouTube to see if Wilson had actually grandstanded in her Florida remarks. This was his task. Yet, he failed miserably.

Did Kelly lie or did he misremember? I prefer the second choice, but either way, the stars he once wore on his shoulder do not immunize him. The rank I referred to above — mere citizen — is the one you and I hold. It is the one George Washington chose when he resigned his commission before becoming president of the United States. It is way higher than general. . .

Sanders was relying on the current veneration of the military to deflect criticism of Kelly. It was tawdry of her to do so, if only because it was Kelly and no one else who managed to call into question his vaunted competence. He brought dishonor to his office — the presidency is now too tarnished to dishonor — and signaled he is a better heel-clicker than he is a proud soldier. He should resign — and so, for good measure, should Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She knows how to be a press secretary, but not an American." [Link in original, emphasis added.]

UPDATE XIV: The Donald could learn something from this ex-Marine, who served his last assignment as a military casualty notification officer, one of "the guys who knocked on your door with the bad news", if he wanted to.

Read the Washington Post, This Marine told families when a loved one was killed. It was harder than combat.

The article notes that the Marine "knew how to take a punch, how to have humility and humanity when facing a fellow American’s lowest moment. That’s called leadership. We could use more of it."

As the story notes:

"'What it’s really all about is common sense, use your feelings. Go in there with what’s in your heart.

'Pretend that’s your mom you’re talking to. Think of how you react if someone knocked on your door with that news.'

Merna knew how to take a punch, how to have humility and humanity when facing a fellow American’s lowest moment. That’s called leadership. We could use more of it."

Therein lies the problem, The Donald lack humility, humanity or any ounce of leadership.

BTW, it was a real punch, not like the verbal punches The Donald so bravely trades with military widows.

UPDATE XIII:  "The drama began last Monday with a falsehood by Trump. A reporter asked him during a news conference why he had been silent for 12 days about the deaths of four soldiers in Niger, the deadliest combat incident since he took office. Trump responded defensively, falsely asserting that his predecessors, including President Barack Obama, never or rarely called family members of service members who were killed on their watch. In fact, they regularly did.

Trump’s actions since then have followed a careful formula that he long ago devised for winning a skirmish and that has been described by senior White House advisers: Make it a fight, use controversy to elevate the message and never apologize.

The conflict bears all the hallmarks of a typical Trump rumble: over-broad boasts, inconsistent official accounts, tweeted name-calling, partisan attacks, aides ensnared in controversy and a steady effort to pin the blame for the whole hullabaloo on the news media.

'Trump grew up in a New York PR and media environment of Page Six beefing and gossiping, so he looks at his whole life through that window,' said Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist and a vocal Trump critic. 'His philosophy of always fighting back is morally divorced from any other situation. And to stay in Trump’s good graces, his aides have to play that game.' . .

Without Trump’s rules of engagement, the bungled effort to soothe a mourning widow could easily have been resolved with a simple statement of clarification from the president. But Trump chose otherwise, and Kelly followed him into the breach, along with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. . .

In close adherence to the Trump rules, the president and his aides escalated the fight, welcomed the controversy and refused to apologize. And it might have worked more effectively had the whole enterprise not ended with the president in a standoff with a mourning widow."

Red the Washington Post, In sparring with a grieving widow, Trump follows his no-apology playbook.

UPDATE XII:  "Republicans and Democrats alike have been deluding themselves for some time about White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly. They were certain that Kelly was a 'grown-up' who understood that the president the American people elected was hobbled — morally, intellectually, temperamentally — and it was Kelly’s job to steer the ship of state away from the rocks. He wouldn’t lie to the American people as President Trump did, these Kelly fans believed.

Recognition is now sinking in that Kelly is not so different than all the other politicians and officials who come in contact with Trump. To serve him requires suspension of integrity, and therefore those who serve become morally corrupted. (The sole exception to this seems to be Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who from day one simply refused to act as Trump’s political flack.) One can hear a palpable sense of sadness after last week’s events, a sense of disillusionment. . .

Kelly’s fall from grace was swift and senseless. It was all so unnecessary; he need not have gone out to spin for the president. . .

So from adult day-care shift supervisor to enabler in a short week, Kelly sacrificed a good deal of his utility to the president for nothing. In seeking to elevate the military above the rest of us, he ironically undercut his own stature as a guarantor of our democratic norms . . .

Those harboring unrealistic expectations about Kelly have learned once again: None of Trump’s advisers can make up for the deficits of this president; and with a lonely exception of Mattis, all of them look worse for having tried."

Read the Washington Post, We’re down to Mattis, I suppose.

UPDATE XI:  "The United States is in the middle of a very unfortunate experiment in how disoriented a great nation can become before it loses its moorings entirely.

At times, politics seems fairly conventional with Republicans and Democrats arguing about health care and tax cuts, as they long have done. But former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama reminded us last week that there is nothing normal about this moment. They issued searing, overlapping condemnations of Trumpism without naming President Trump. Former commanders in chief of opposing parties don’t do this sort of thing unless the country faces an emergency.

Our disorientation is reflected further in the way honorable men and women allow themselves to be pushed into defending the indefensible and twisting noble concepts into cheap and ultimately shameful talking points. These are designed to get the president through one more news cycle or around some controversy he could easily quell if he had any familiarity with the words 'I’m sorry.'

In the realm of political commentary, the now-daily detonations set off by a man who sees the common good as the pursuit of suckers drown out any serious discussion of the problems his voters thought he might try to solve. . .

For all the talk about Trump being something other than a Republican, he always falls back on the party’s old ideas because he has none of his own beyond promising to build a big wall, stop NFL players from kneeling during the national anthem and fix bad trade deals while offering few details.

But we can’t even have predictable, if necessary, partisan and ideological debates. These are blocked by self-involved spectacle and ruthless attacks against any who raise their voices to criticize the president.

We can try to resist being drawn into this swamp of petty invective, knowing that we are being pulled away from the consequential questions. Yet doing so would mean overlooking the central fact of our political situation: that Trump is systematically sapping our democratic capacities through his routine behavior. As Bush put it, 'We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. . . . Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization.'

This is why all except the most blind Trump partisans had to be heartsick over the performance of White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly on Thursday. The retired Marine Corps general, who devoted his life to service and suffered stoically when he lost a son in combat, stepped out as a hatchet man against Rep. Frederica S. Wilson.

It was Wilson, a Florida Democrat, who revealed that the president told the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson that the slain soldier 'knew what he signed up for.' Kelly could not back up Trump’s claim that Wilson had 'totally fabricated' the president’s conversation. In fact, Kelly seemed indirectly to confirm her account. So he resorted to a vicious rebuke of the African American congresswoman.

Kelly didn’t even have the decency to use Wilson’s name, and he compared her to noisy 'empty barrels.' It was hard to hear him and not think of Bush’s warnings about 'dehumanization.' Kelly went on to give a false account of gracious, bipartisan comments Wilson made at the dedication of a Florida FBI building.

Thus is our world turned upside down: A genuine patriot is reduced to the role of propagandist for a boss whose idea of sacrifice, as Trump once explained on ABC News, is running a business from which he profited.

We are numbed to the squalor we see daily. It’s common to hear the president called a 'disrupter.' But unlike the tech-world heroes to whom the label is typically applied, he builds nothing, creates nothing and moves a majority of our fellow citizens only toward rage or a sense of helplessness.

But helplessness is not an option, and rage alone will change nothing." [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, What Trump did to Kelly shows how far we have fallen.

Read also the Washington Post, Gold Star father Khizr Khan knocks White House chief of staff on military condolence controversy, which noted that Kelley should have advised Trump to show respect, restraint and dignity to the widow.

UPDATE X:  "[F]or reasons that are not entirely clear, Kelly then went after Wilson with a vengeance. He didn’t say she lied; to the contrary, he said Trump had delivered the line Kelly had recommended. Rather, he skewered Wilson for politicizing the call (he was stunned, he repeated) and then falsely accused her of bragging at a ceremony dedicating an FBI building to two slain officers that she had gotten the money for the building. That accusation was apparently untrue as well, not to mention irrelevant. . .

We’ve grown sadly accustomed to watching Trump behave badly, punching 'down' at those who call him out. The focus must always be on him, the perpetual victim.

Kelly’s conduct was a sad revelation, however, and a reminder that while he looks upon himself as serving the country (and he is), he is also enabling a dishonest, morally detestable politician. As The Post reported: 'There was evident irony in Kelly’s making that particular point in defense of Trump, whose presidential campaign last year was marked by name-calling, harsh rhetoric about Muslims, Mexicans and other minorities, and allegations of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women.' I would call it hypocrisy, not irony. He’s after all standing next to and by someone who truly treats nothing — people, the truth, democracy — as 'sacred.' He’s using his reservoir of honor and credibility to shield a president who is lacking both.

Moreover, Kelly’s presence brings us back to the unprecedented number of military-men-turned-civilian-counselors in this administration. Stocking an administration with generals diminishes the military (by forcing revered figures to play politics) and undermines the concept of civilian control, especially in an administration in which the ex-military and military advisers are taking 'adult day care' shifts to mind an unfit president, as Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) memorably said.

Our men and women placing themselves in harm’s way and their families deserve better than the Trump crowd. The country deserves honest civilian leaders. Unfortunately, like all Americans, our fighting men and women are stuck with Trump — and his reckless saber-rattling — for the time being."

Read the Washington Post, Trump makes himself, John Kelly and everyone around them look rotten yet again.

UPDATE IX:  "President Trump appears unable to opt for the higher moral ground when the gutter beckons so invitingly, and so it is that his battle over his response to the death of La David Johnson, one of four U.S. service members gunned down in Niger, has now entered its fourth day. Trump tweeted:

Donald J. Trump

The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!
9:53 PM - Oct 19, 2017
In so doing, Trump slathered additional layers of ugliness and dishonesty on top of comments by White House chief of staff John Kelly, who yesterday told reporters that 'it stuns me that a Member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation,' adding: 'I thought at least that was sacred.' . .

But instead of treating this as mere theater of high dudgeon, there is actually a way to at least try to evaluate who is right in this situation. As a start, we can look at the process by which these presidential calls to the families of fallen soldiers come together.

Here’s the short version: It is not unusual for multiple people to be listening in on calls to the families of the fallen. The living next-of-kin generally is deferred to when it comes to who listens in, and it is not that unusual for the president to be placed on speakerphones."

Read the Washington Post, John Kelly’s defense of Trump was absurd. And he surely knows it., which explains the call process in detail.

The article notes that Kelley used "the 'sacredness' of women while defending Trump, who is accused of multiple counts of sexual assault and has repeatedly and very publicly denigrated women in horrifying ways, but Kelly is of course not responsible for Trump’s actions. What is worse is the sleight of hand Kelly used to align Trump culturally and morally with the military and the families of the fallen while casting the Congresswoman as belonging to a kind of cultural category that, in the minds of people of Kelly’s generation, which came of age during the country’s searing divisions over Vietnam, is characterized by empty, valueless showboating and doesn’t have sufficient respect for the military and the ultimate sacrifice made by fallen soldiers and their loved ones. . .

[T]the decision as to who listened in on the call was a personal one made by the next-of-kin. And Kelly should respect that. Instead, he helped Trump play the aggrieved party. But in this case, Trump apparently botched the call to a family. . . Trump and the White House could simply have let this die down or even apologized to the family and treated their feelings as more important than Trump’s personal pique or political fortunes. Yes, this this might mean taking a few lumps that the White House considered unfair, without retaliating. So what? Is it really that awful or unthinkable for Trump to lose a round? Yet the White House chose not to show restraint — even though Kelly understands as well as or better than anyone else what the family is going through." [Bold emphasis added.]

Kelly, just another enabler, should be ashamed for propping up The Donald, who will never change if not forced to do so.

And as the next article highlights, an ego and a lack of empathy are very dangerous.

UPDATE VIII: "Context matters. From another person, at another time, observing that Sergeant La David Johnson 'knew what he signed up for' by joining the Army wouldn’t have sparked outrage. But consider what else Representative Frederica Wilson—with the backing of Johnson’s mother—has alleged: that Trump didn’t know Johnson’s name; he repeatedly called him 'your guy.' And that Trump’s tone was oddly jovial: 'He was almost, like, joking.'

Above all, consider what we know about the way Trump discusses pain and death. This is the man who congratulated Puerto Ricans—whose island had been utterly devastated—for losing only “16” and not 'thousands of people.' The man who told a crowd in Corpus Christi on August 29, while 30,000 Texans were displaced, 'It’s going well.' And who said after touring the convention center where thousands of Houstonians were taking refuge that, 'We saw a lot of happiness.'

Donald Trump minimizes suffering for which he might be held responsible. That’s likely what he was doing in his conversation with Myeshia Johnson. And it’s not just insensitive; it’s dangerous. As the former Missouri Senate candidate, and former Army intelligence officer, Jason Kander observed on Wednesday night on CNN, people say, 'He knew what he signed up for' because 'they are seeking emotional distance from the situation. People say that because they want to avoid feeling that pain.' That’s worrying, Kander added, because 'I want the president, any president … when they’re making a decision about sending people to a dangerous place, I want them to have as one of the things in their mind, the visceral, emotional feeling' that comes from absorbing a widow’s inconsolable grief.

That’s the key point. Trump’s comments bespeak a refusal to face the human costs of violence and war that could have frightening consequences for American foreign policy. . .

Trump still finds the WWE paradigm—candy-corn violence—attractive. . .

By ignoring, or even celebrating, [the horror of real violence and war], he gives himself permission to delight in its pageantry and power. He relishes calling his defense secretary 'Mad Dog.' He dropped the 'mother of all bombs' in Afghanistan. He shocked Chinese president Xi Jinping when he informed him, over chocolate cake, that he had bombed Syria. He relishes public displays of weaponry: In June he flew to France to witness 'one of the greatest parades I have ever seen … two hours' of 'military might,' and then proposed something similar along Pennsylvania Avenue.

And he relishes threatening war against North Korea. . .

'I’m really good at war. I love war in a certain way,' Trump told an Iowa rally in 2015, 'But only when we win.' It’s plausible that Trump will avoid war with North Korea because he fears America cannot prevail. It is far less likely that he will avoid war because he can’t bear the human cost. He never bears it.

That’s what Myeshia Johnson—who has a six-year-old, a two-year-old, and is pregnant, and who said she doesn’t know what she’ll do without her 'soulmate'—confronted Trump with: the human cost. The human cost that doesn’t exist in professional wrestling. The human cost, which proves that violence and war aren’t always grand, manly spectacles, and that America doesn’t always win. The human cost, for which Trump, as commander in chief, bears responsibility.

He couldn’t handle it. His attacks on Wilson suggest he still can’t. He won’t abandon his decades-old intoxication with pretend violence and pretend war. And that makes him a very dangerous man to be leading the most powerful military on earth. "

Read The Atlantic, Why Trump Can't Handle the Cost of War.

UPDATE VII:  "Offering succor to the families of service members killed in the line of duty is one of the most solemn exercises a president must undertake. It is a task requiring, above all, a sense of humility. 'In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the memory of . . . your brave and early fallen child,' Abraham Lincoln wrote to the parents of a deceased Union soldier.

Unlike true leaders, however, Trump seems to associate humility with weakness. . . He always seeks to deflect responsibility. Somebody else is really at fault. Others who came before him have done worse. Bad people in the media are treating him unfairly.

Trump is a weak, narcissistic man in a job that requires strength and empathy. I’m not sure that empathy is a concept he even understands. He acts as if he believes that feeling someone else’s pain is strictly for losers, not winners.

None of this is a surprise. We learned a lot about Trump during the campaign when he attacked the Khan family, who lost a son in Iraq, for having the temerity to criticize him politically. We have a president who believes that making the ultimate sacrifice for the nation is less important than supporting or opposing Trump.

The Post reported Wednesday that earlier this year, Trump phoned the father of Army Sgt. Dillon Baldridge, who was killed June 10 in Afghanistan. In the course of the conversation, Trump offered to send the father a personal check for $25,000 — but did not follow through. The check was finally sent this week only after The Post asked about it.

Sadly, that’s typical Trump. He makes a grand promise, which allows him to feel big and generous — which is the whole point. Even in interactions with Gold Star families, it’s all about him. Later, having played the role of Trump the Munificent, he forgets about it and goes in search of the next opportunity to shore up his fragile ego.

No one should expect him to grow in office. He’s 71. At that age, either you have compassion, self-knowledge and a conscience, or you don’t." [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s mindless cruelty to a soldier’s widow speaks to the core of his character.

UPDATE VI:  ANOTHER MUST READ, the Washington Post, Trump does not possess an ounce of compassion, which states in full:

"Just when you think that President Trump cannot go lower, he goes lower. First, he managed to turn the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in Niger into a spectacle of narcissism. The victims included not only the dead soldiers but also the president who had to call the bereaved and offer his — and the nation’s — condolences. 'It’s the toughest calls I have to make,' the president said. Actually, it’s the toughest call a family ever has to receive.

Then Trump said that President Barack Obama did not make such calls. He contrasted Obama’s alleged indifference to the deaths of American soldiers to his own practice of making such calls. Trouble was, Obama did make such calls. Trump never misses an opportunity to take a cheap shot at this predecessor. Each time, Obama rises in stature and Trump descends. He is pretty close to the floor already.

You will notice that everything so far is about Trump. He must have noticed, too, because he’s been on a roll. He then took another shot at Obama. He said Obama never called Gen. John F. Kelly after his son, 1st Lt. Robert M. Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan while on patrol in 2010. Kelly himself has refrained from using his son’s death in a political context, but Trump did not. He used the death to once again go at Obama and defend his own actions.

Then Tuesday, Trump did indeed call the widow of one of the slain soldiers. Her name is Myeshia Johnson and her husband was Sgt. La David T. Johnson. She is the mother of two children and is pregnant with a third. Trump reached her in a car and supposedly said that Johnson 'must have known what he signed up for.' It was an odd way to extend sympathy and Trump later insisted he said nothing of the sort. A witness, Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.), who was in the car at the time, also said she heard it. So did the sergeant’s mother, another passenger in the car.

It nevertheless remains possible that either Trump was misunderstood or that he failed to say what he meant to say. We all do that from time to time. And when we do, we offer our apologies. We concede that we might have been misunderstood, and we reiterate what we meant to say — what we should have said. Trump did not do that. Instead, he said his words were 'fabricated' and he dared Wilson to repeat her words.

Trump does not possess an ounce of compassion. He is reptilian, knowing only to show his fangs, hiss and attack. This is why he mocked a physically disabled reporter for the New York Times, why he derided the heroism of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and why he dismissed the authenticity of the Khans, who had lost their son in Iraq.

This inability to feel the pain of others — even to acknowledge it — is not a minor tick in an otherwise good man. It is the salient characteristic of a sadist, of someone so wrapped up in himself that he has contempt for victims. Trump’s name for them is 'losers.' They are the poor and the unlucky. They deserve what they get.

Trump is not a conservative nor a nationalist nor some reality show creation. He is a mean S.O.B., base in his motives and cruel in his targets and, until he won in November, unthinkable in American history — a brat in the Oval Office. He’s not man enough to throw an arm around a grieving widow. He disgraces his office and will be remembered by history as a lout. It is now a fate he cannot escape. Sorry, but he knew what he was signing up for." {Emphasis added.]

UPDATE V: What do you think of The Donald's condolence call to the familes of service members killed under his presidency: 'The President sends his condolences on the death of ______ (please fill in the blank, he is to busy to bother) but he "must have known what he signed up for".

Read the Washington Post:

Fallen soldier’s mother: ‘Trump did disrespect my son’;

Trump’s alleged ‘knew what he signed up for’ comment to widow is worth caution, but fits a clear pattern, which noted that:

"[T]he widow was in tears after the call and lamented that Trump 'didn't even remember his name', and
"And whatever you think about Trump, displaying empathy is not his strong suit. The way he talks about tragedy is routinely awkward, at best, and tasteless, at worst. Puerto Rico is dealing with the fallout of a devastating hurricane, and Trump talks about how it will pay for the relief effort, suggests the island is at fault for its poor situation, and attacks San Juan's mayor. He turned a death during a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville from a tragedy into a political football when he blamed 'both sides.' While in Florida for the Hurricane Irma relief effort, he seemed to be more reserved, but then he asked a man to attack Obama on camera. When Navy sailors were missing after a tanker collided with a destroyer near Singapore, Trump responded, 'That’s too bad, too bad.' There are plenty more examples. [Links in original.]; and

Yet again, Trump’s defensiveness makes his handling of a Gold Star family’s grief worse.

The Donald says there is a recording.  He should release it, or resign.

BTW, in an attempt to remedy his lack of empathy, how about an offer of money, which will never be sent.

Read the Washington Post, Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 in a call, but didn’t follow through.

Who wants to admit they voted for this disgusting despicable person?

UPDATE IV:  "White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that President Trump’s chief of staff is 'disgusted' that the death of his son has become politicized — even though it was Trump who thrust the Marine's death into the political glare.

In an interview with Fox News radio this week, Trump cited John Kelly, his chief of staff, as he attempted to bolster his false claim a day earlier that President Barack Obama had never called families of fallen U.S. service members."

Read the Washington Post, White House decries ‘politicized’ death of chief of staff’s son — which Trump thrust into the spotlight.

The lesson here: if you work for a psycho-narcissistic con man, expect to be shamelessly exploited and used.

UPDATE III:  "Every once in a while, a politician says something so outrageous that it produces not the feigned outrage that has become so familiar, but genuine outrage. That’s what President Trump managed yesterday, when in a news conference he was asked about his public silence on the four American soldiers who were killed in Niger, and claimed that while he calls the families of those killed in action to express his condolences, previous presidents, particularly Barack Obama, hadn’t done so.

This was a particularly despicable lie, because it painted Obama — and other presidents, but let’s be honest, mostly Obama — as cruel and dismissive when it comes to the sacrifice of those in uniform, while portraying Trump as the only one who truly cares. . .

It’s obvious from his [statements] that Trump had absolutely no idea what presidents before him did or didn’t do in this situation, which he admitted again today ('I don’t know what Obama’s policy was'). But he went ahead and claimed that only he calls the families.

This is quite familiar to anyone who has been watching Trump these past couple of years. He takes his own limited experience and characterizes it as unique, extraordinary and unprecedented. No one has ever done this before, no one has accomplished so much, no one knows more than I do. There’s an element of the salesman’s puffery at work, but it also comes from a place of pure ignorance. . .

When a normal person is in a state of ignorance, he or she might exercise some caution, and refrain from making a volatile accusation that, for instance, his or her predecessors were callous to Gold Star families. But not Trump. You’ll notice that the first time he says it, he asserts it as simple fact: 'if you look at President Obama and other Presidents, most of them didn’t make calls.' When he’s challenged, he equivocates: 'I don’t know if he did … President Obama I think probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told.'

Now here’s why this matters. Yes, many news outlets pointed out that Trump wasn’t telling the truth. But there are probably three interns at Fox News who are now scouring old news reports to find some family member of a fallen soldier who didn’t get a call from Obama. If they find it, that person’s story will then become the subject of a segment on Sean Hannity’s show, and it will then get retold on a hundred talk radio programs and conservative websites as proof that Obama was a monster and the media are all lying about this. (Trump’s insistence that there was 'fake news' at work is another way of telling his supporters not to believe whatever they hear about this subject that comes from sources not explicitly supporting him.) And I promise you that if you took a poll two weeks from now, you’d find that 40 percent of the public (or more) believes that Obama never called the family of any fallen soldier, and only Trump has the sensitivity to do so.

And that’s how Trump takes his own particular combination of ignorance, bluster and malice, and sets it off like a nuclear bomb of misinformation. The fallout spreads throughout the country, and no volume of corrections and fact checks can stop it. It wasn’t even part of a thought-out strategy, just a loathsome impulse that found its way out of the president’s mouth to spread far and wide.

If you’re one of those who marvel at the fact that Trump’s approval ratings aren’t even lower than they are, this is a big reason. It’s absolutely necessary to correct Trump’s falsehoods, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into believing that any poisonous lie he tells won’t find an eager audience. And the whole country gets dumber and dumber."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s lie about Obama and fallen soldiers shows how he makes America dumber.

UPDATE II:  There is nothing The Donald can not shamelessly lie about.

Read the Washington Post, ‘Disrespectful lie’: Anger grows over Trump’s claims about past presidents and fallen troops.

UPDATE:  As the article notes, normal people don't brag about contacting the "families of soldiers who died in combat".

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s claim that Obama ‘didn’t make calls’ to families of the fallen.

''This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner — and to lie about how previous Presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers — is as low as it gets.'" [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, ‘A soulless coward’: Gregg Popovich slams Trump’s comments on slain soldiers.

I do disagree on one point, I'm sure The Donald will find a way to impress us yet again with his narcissistic focus on his greatness.

Let's not forget the danger he faced down in his "persoanl Vietnam . . [as] a great and very brave solider".

Trump's Big CON: He Might Be the Devil

UPDATE:  "At the Family Research Council’s recent Values Voter Summit, the religious right effectively declared its conversion to Trumpism.

The president was received as a hero. Stephen K. Bannon and Sebastian Gorka — both fired from the White House, in part, for their extremism — set the tone and agenda. . .

There is no group in the United States less attached to its own ideals or more eager for its own exploitation than religious conservatives. Forget Augustine and Aquinas, Wilberforce and Shaftesbury. For many years, leaders of the religious right exactly conformed Christian social teaching to the contours of Fox News evening programming. . .

Do religious right leaders have any clue how foolish they appear?"

Read the Washington Post, The religious right carries its golden calf into Steve Bannon’s battles.

For evangelical conservatives Trump is a "God-chosen president [who] can do no wrong, tell no lie, make no error. And that, it seems, has been the default setting for many of Trump’s most loyal supporters among the religious right.

The notion that lies don’t matter, that politics is akin to a religious mission, strikes many Americans as a scary repudiation of the Constitution’s establishment clause. Protecting Trump and dodging critics who raise legitimate issues about his behavior have now become acts of faith. . .

We’ve tracked the evolution of Christian conservative leaders from public moralists to leaders of tribal identity. Their most visible leaders increasingly consider themselves the vanguard of white rural America (where so many of their flock reside), a group resentful of its demographic and cultural decline. Trump’s coterie of evangelical pastors is among the inaptly named 'values voters' leadership that, having lost on gay marriage, on legalized abortion and on cultural decay, now takes refuge in nativism, xenophobia and white grievance. For these evangelical figureheads, 'us vs. them' has replaced a message of brotherly love and Christian charity.

Robert P. Jones, author of 'The End of White Christian America,' observes, 'One of the most astounding shifts in modern politics has been the utter transformation of white evangelical Protestants from being confident self-described ‘values voters,’ who measured candidates for office against a high bar of moral character, to anxious and unwavering Trump supporters who have largely dropped these standards for a candidate they believe will deliver policies that benefit them.' He explains that 'white evangelicals have exchanged an ethic of principle that might hold a political leader accountable to consistent standards for a consequentialist ends-justify-the-means posture that simply stops interrogating character, the quality of leadership, or the morality of actions when it’s beneficial.' . .

Under a president who now actively courts theocratic leaders and seeks to widen racial and religious division, the United States is being seriously tested. It will take people of faith and of no faith committed to democratic norms and American diversity to repel this assault on the country’s animating principles."

Read the Washington Post, Evangelical conservatives are proving their harshest critics right.