|BILL O'LEARY/THE WASHINGTON POST|
Sharpiegate, the name that inevitably has attached itself to Donald Trump's hissy fit over being caught out misstating that Alabama was at risk from Hurricane Dorian, has now outlived the ferocious storm that prompted the president's bloviations. And while all of this may seem like just another silly distraction, it is far more ominous.
The government scientists and weather forecasters tasked with warning us when meteorological dangers loom are being accused of being the president's enemies and their careers threatened because they were more concerned about conveying accurate information than covering the president's big ass.
Make no mistake about it, this is what fascist governments do.
In this case, the apolitical National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was pressured to release a statement -- notable because it was unsigned -- backing Trump's false claim that NOAA's National Weather Service had warned Alabamians that they were at risk. He had backed up his contention by altering a NOAA map at an Oval Office press availability as Dorian bore down on the Carolina coast showing its projected path with a Sharpie pen in a crudely amateurish effort to reinforce his lie.
Lest anyone in government still not get the message, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Mills, easily the most corrupt yes man in Trump's Cabinet, reinforced it.
Ross, whose department oversees NOAA, threatened to fire the agency's top political appointees because in contradicting the president about Dorian's path, the NWS's Birmingham office staff was, in the words of an administration official quoted by The New York Times, "motivated by a desire to embarrass the president more than concern for the safety of people in Alabama."
There you have it. And astonishing until you consider that this was just the latest instance in which an administration heavy did a pretty good imitation of being a henchman for Adolph Hitler or Josef Stalin in accusing government employees merely trying to do their jobs of being the big, bad autocrat's enemies because they didn't toe his line.
Other instances included Justice Department lawyers who dared contradict the president, environmental scientists who happened to believe that climate change is a very real threat and not a Chinese government hoax, and Postal Service administrators who were loath to punish Trump arch-enemy Jeff Bezos and Amazon by obeying Trump and raising the online giant's shipping rates.
Pardoning the analogy, but Trump has turned Dorian into the perfect storm, justifying with yet another racist swipe at people of color the U.S.'s refusal to allow refugees fleeing devastation in the Bahamas into the U.S. if they don't already have visas. This although Bahamians have long been allowed to enter the U.S. without visa if they have a passport.
"I don't want to allow people that weren't supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States," as Trump callously put it, because they include "some very bad people and very bad gang members."
As I am now weary of repeatedly writing, as Trump loses his shit with each passing outrage, he further weaponizes his pathologies. And this folks, is how democracies die.
Are you paying attention, Nancy Pelosi?
Scandals in the Age of Trump tend to be short lived because there always is another one waiting in the wings. But Trump's firing of John Bolton (who claims he resigned) on Tuesday kind of breaks the mold even as it reinforces the West Wing as being one big revolving door.
This is because of all the war-mongering neoconservatives to emerge in the run-up to the Iraq war, a fool's errand resulting from the need for the Dubya administration to take down Saddam Hussein even though he didn't have squat to do with the 9/11 attacks, Bolton was the worst of the American Exceptionalism clique.
As well as the latest big shot who thought he could bend Trump to his will and ended up losing his dignity, a frangible concept in this case.
Trump had repeatedly mocked Bolton as a warmonger, which is rich, sometimes ticking off the names of countries and joking that Bolton would want to invade them, and said he had axed his third national security adviser because he "disagreed strongly with many of my suggestions."
Read the president's failed North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Venezuela and ISIS containment policies, and most recently his insistence that Russia be allowed to rejoin the G7. (Have I missed any?) One of the areas in which Trump and Bolton did agree was pissing on America's staunchest allies.
There always is the chance that Trump will replace Bolton with someone even more willing to spill the blood of young Americans. But for the moment, at least, a very dangerous man is out of circulation while an even more dangerous man clings to power.