Hello there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. It’s another hot, humid late summer day. Currently, the temperature is 87˚F (31˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 57% and the wind blowing from the southeast at 4 MPH (7 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 98˚F (37˚C). Today’s forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies and a high of 92˚F (33˚C) Tonight, the skies will be mostly cloudy, and the low will be 74˚F (23˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 68 or Moderate.
Well, I’m still switching back and forth between A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America and I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year, both by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. Presently I am focusing more on A Very Stable Genius so I can review it soon. They’re both well-researched and nicely written, and they confirm what most of us who do not like Donald Trump believed from the moment in late 2015 when he announced his candidacy: Trump was never fit to be President because he lacked the necessary skills set to govern. Full stop.
I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll repeat this when I get around to reviewing A Very Stable Genius, but the more I read about the Trump White House the less respect I feel toward the people who voted for him in 2016 and again in 2020. I specifically feel a special sort of disdain toward Rupert Murdoch, Robert Herring Sr., Stephen K. Bannon, and all of the other founders or editors of right-wing media who willingly became part of Trump’s propaganda machine and helped convince the Make America Great Again crowd that “the Donald” is “the greatest President” in U.S. history.
One of the many myths that Trump supporters accept as fact is the notion that Trump is the U.S. military’s best friend and that he almost single-handedly rebuilt our defense establishment after “those evil Demonrats” allegedly gutted it during Barack Obama’s two terms as President. Many Trump supporters are retired veterans and swear that Trump not only loves the U.S. and wants to put “America First,” but that he is the Pentagon’s best friend.
Sadly, neither of those assertions is true. Trump might have gone to the private New York Military Academy as a high school student and publicly expressed his admiration for Marine generals James Mattis – his first Secretary of Defense – and John Kelly – his first Secretary of Homeland Security and, later, second White House Chief of Staff – and a few other senior military officers, but he was often ignorant about American military history and disdainful about military personnel in general.
For instance, in November of 2017, when Trump and his wife Melania stopped in Hawaii before going on to Asia on their first trip to the region as President and First Lady, the man who avoided the Vietnam era draft by getting a doctor to diagnose him with “bone spurs” did not know what had happened at Pearl Harbor and had to be schooled on the subject.
The first couple was set to take a private tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, which sits just off the coast of Honolulu and straddles the hull of the battleship that sank into the Pacific during the Japanese surprise attack in 1941. As a passenger boat ferried the Trumps to the stark white memorial, the president pulled Kelly aside for a quiet consult.
“Hey, John, what’s this all about? What’s this a tour of?” Trump asked his chief of staff.
Kelly was momentarily stunned. Trump had heard the phrase “Pearl Harbor” and appeared to understand that he was visiting the scene of a historic battle, but he did not seem to know much else. Kelly explained to him that the stealth Japanese attack here had devastated the U.S. Pacific Fleet and prompted the country’s entrance into World War II, eventually leading the United States to drop atom bombs on Japan. If Trump had learned about “a date which will live in infamy” in school, it hadn’t really pierced his consciousness or stuck with him.
“He was at times dangerously uninformed,” said one senior former adviser. 
Earlier in the book, Rucker and Leonnig describe a harrowing national security briefing at the Pentagon held for the president on July 29, 2017. A Very Stable Genius shows us a Trump who “would not read written materials or have the patience for a lecture.”
At the July 29 briefing in a secure conference room known as the Tank, Trump not only said he wanted to pull out U.S. troops from South Korea if Seoul did not pay for the costs of stationing them in-country, but he also insulted the general officers who commanded American forces in Afghanistan.
Before they could debate the Iran deal, Trump erupted to revive another frequent complaint: the war in Afghanistan, which was now America’s longest war. He demanded an explanation for why the United States hadn’t won in Afghanistan yet, now sixteen years after the nation started fighting there in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. Trump unleashed his disdain, calling Afghanistan a “loser war.” That phrase hung in the air and disgusted not only the military leaders at the table but also the men and women in uniform sitting along the back wall behind their principals. They all were sworn to obey their commander in chief’s commands, and here he was calling the war they had been fighting a loser war.
“You’re all losers,” Trump said. “You don’t know how to win anymore.”
Trump questioned why the United States couldn’t get some oil as payment for the troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. “We spent $7 trillion; they’re ripping us off,” Trump boomed. “Where is the fucking oil?”
And yet, many veterans – mostly white, Republican, and Christian – swear that Trump loves the military and was the veterans’ best pal after what they perceive was neglect by the previous (and Democratic) Administration. This myth is often repeated in the comments sections of news articles posted on Facebook, comments that accuse the “left” of putting “illegal immigrants ahead of our veterans and homeless” when doling out government assistance.
They also claim that President Obama hated the military and cut the defense budget so much that our men and women fighting overseas – including in what Trump called the “loser war” – were running out of bullets.
(Seriously, you have no idea how many times I’ve seen this claim on Facebook, especially in 2019 and 2020, when Trump was running for re-election.)
I never cease to be amazed by how easy it is to hoodwink humans into believing stuff that is untrue. All one has to do, as the owners of Fox News, Breitbart, One America News, and other right-wing media outlets have done, is to take pages out of Adolf Hitler’s playbook on manipulating the hearts and minds of people who are angry, afraid, and resisting societal and cultural changes: play upon feelings of victimhood and resentment, pick convenient boogeymen on whom to cast blame, and use repetition of short, simple, and emotional messages, even if you have to tell lies. In fact, lies are an essential element in propaganda. Hitler knew this. So does Trump, a man who, according to his first ex-wife Ivanka, read a book of the Nazi dictator’s speeches regularly.
Well, I don’t have any interesting personal news to share, so I will close this post here. Adios, Dear Reader. Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
 Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America, page 169.
 A Very Stable Genius, page 135