Baghdad Bob is back!

Do you remember during the opening days of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, when Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, better known to the world as "Baghdad Bob” or “Comical Ali,” the Information Minister under Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, gained worldwide notoriety for his daily press briefings in Baghdad?  His briefings included claiming that American soldiers were committing suicide "by the hundreds" outside the city, and one in which he denied, on camera, that there were any American tanks in Baghdad, while they were only several hundred feet away from his briefing room while he was speaking and the combat sounds of the American forces could clearly be heard in the background.  On another occasion he spoke of how previous foreign attempts to invade Iraq spelt disaster for the invaders, citing some Western history book which he declined to name and inviting the journalists at the briefing to come over to his house so they could read it.

His last public appearance as Saddam’s Information Minister was on April 8, 2003, when he said that the Americans "are going to surrender or be burned in their tanks. They will surrender, it is they who will surrender;” when asked where he got his information, he replied, "authentic sources — many authentic sources.”

Yah, he was a clown.  But this is the kind of sycophant you get in a dictatorship.  Officials behaving obsequiously toward the despot is the hallmark of these cults of personality.  Anything remotely resembling the truth, if it is unflattering to the leader to whom they owe their position, must be quashed or spun showing their boss in the best possible light.  It’s the sort of thing that happens in totalitarian regimes, in “banana republics," or in the Catholic Church — one only has to read anything put out by a diocesan newspaper or Bill Donohue at the Catholic League to see “information” totally divorced from reality.  We expect this sortof blind devotion and massive delusional denial toward secular and religious authoritarians the world over as they seek to shape a narrative that serves their interests or covers up their shortcomings.  We don’t expect it from the government of the United States.

Donald Trump is a pathological liar, a narcissist, and a buffoon.  He has been on an ego trip without any luggage for at least the last three years (and then some) while his enablers at Fox and in the administration egg him on.  Why should this moment in time, when the country is facing a serious health crisis affecting millions of people, be any different?

Trump at the CDC

Last Friday, while touring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) inappropriately wearing a “Keep America Great” hat — which is a campaign slogan for his 2020 reelection bid — President Trump said that because he had an uncle who taught physics at MIT he is an expert in medical research!  “I like this stuff. I really get it,” Trump bragged, adding, “People are really surprised I understand this stuff, every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability.”

Oh for fucks sake!  Are you kidding me?  In 2018, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates revealed that twice, not once but twice, Donald Trump asked him what the difference was between HIV (human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS) and HPV (human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted infection that causes genital warts or cervical cancer).  Yah, he really gets it!  Beyond that, his “expertise” is the result of having an uncle who was a physicist.  My dad was a structural engineer, but I couldn’t tell you the first thing about weight distribution on a suspension bridge!

Here’s my point, though.  It’s not that the president makes crazy, demonstrably false, refuted by the evidence statements.  If that comes as a surprise to you today thoughtful reader, you are not who I have in mind when I refer to you as a thoughtful reader because you would have had to be hiding under a rock for the last three years; our president is a liar, an exaggerator, a charlatan, a danger to our way of life, and an existential threat to the planet.  That much we know.  But look at that scene above; there are at least two officials from the CDC on his left (your right) and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, on his right (your left).  Not a single one of them speaks up; no one corrects this delusional moron or raises anything like an objection.  This is the ongoing institutional cowardice that puts us all in danger, every last one of us.

As an immunocompromised individual (on account of my HIV/AIDS, not my HPV/genital warts Mr. President), I am in a high risk group for novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  I rely on experts from WHO (World Health Organization), NIH (National Institutes of Health), and CDC (Centers for Disease Control) TO KEEP ME SAFE AND ALIVE.  What Mr. Trump said is not only scandalous, it is irresponsible.  One of those officials listening to him should have immediately cut him off and said, “You know nothing about this subject Mr. President.  Your uncle’s competence in physics is not heritable and is irrelevant here.  Physics is about as different from epidemiology as a tomato is from a suspension bridge.  I guarantee you that none of the scientists you’ve talked to actually respect your knowledge of science.  Your ignorance is not only irresponsible, it has turned deadly.  We need leadership, not self-aggrandizement.”

The Trump Administration’s response to this burgeoning crisis has been and continues to be as idiotic as Baghdad Bob’s pronouncements.  I can only hope that someone steps up, and soon, to take the reins so that our fate is not similar to that of Iraq post-invasion.  The nuclear threat from Iran, the economic threat from China, the security and sovereignty threat from Russia, the threat to our climate from science-deniers right here in the good ol’ USA — these very real threats get ignored or dismissed because the disasters they portend are far off.  But this disaster is happening — right now, today, March 8th.

Donald Trump, PhD., Scientist

We cannot afford to dismiss this threat or humor scientist Donald Trump, PhD** anymore.  As the kids say, "shit got real.”

( **Piled high & Deep )

Copyright © 2021 — all rights reserved.