Monday, August 6, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied for political purposes about a natural disaster his government is supposed to be responding to.

In the wake of yesterday's Russia revelations, Trump hid from the media today, with nothing on his schedule except for a private dinner with political donors. But he had a busy day on Twitter, including seemingly bizarre claims about the wildfires burning in California. In two separate tweets, five hours apart, Trump said that the fires were "magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized."

The reaction from Peter Gleick, a scientist specializing in water resource management in California, was fairly typical.

To the extent that this year's wildfires are more severe than usual, the culprit is climate change, which Trump claims not to believe in--except when it affects his golf courses.

But Trump has political reasons for inventing fake water shortages. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who actively sabotaged his own committee's investigation into the Russian attack when it threatened to implicate Trump, wants the federal government to let agribusinesses drain California rivers dry. This would have disastrous environmental effects, which Nunes believes are a (literal) communist plot.

Why does this matter?

  • It's wrong to try to score political points off of dangerous and destructive natural disasters.
  • It matters whether the president, whose branch includes FEMA, is completely wrong about the facts related to an ongoing emergency.