Wednesday, September 4, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He spent a fourth day arguing about whether or not he knows where Alabama is.

With Hurricane Dorian's outer bands sweeping Florida's east coast, and the storm itself taking aim at the Carolinas, Trump's main contribution was to defend a four-day old claim he'd made that the storm would hit Alabama.

The entire saga of Trump's insistence that Alabama was in the forecasted path of the storm is a lengthy one, and one that has taken up a great deal of his time during the period in which he has supposedly been "monitoring" Dorian—mostly from the golf course

But in simplest terms, Trump accused the media, and his own government's meteorologists, of lying about Dorian's path and conspiring to make him look bad.

Today, he took it to a new level. He presented a map from last Thursday—three days before he claimed Alabama was in Dorian's path when none of the world's meteorologists had said so— marked by what looks like his trademark Sharpie marker, extended to (almost) the Alabama coast.

Again, to be clear, this is a map from Thursday, August 28th—presented as an "update" on the hurricane by Trump on Wednesday, September 4th—to justify his claim from Sunday, September 1st that Alabama was where Dorian was headed. 

This was what the actual NOAA map looked like at the time Trump first made his Alabama claim.

Trump told reporters today, "Actually, we have a better map than that which is going to be presented, where we had many lines going directly — many models, each line being a model — and they were going directly through. And in all cases Alabama was hit if not lightly, in some cases pretty hard. ... They actually gave that a 95% chance probability."

"Actually," this number is made up. As the Associated Press noted, no place in the United States, including Florida, has ever been given more than a 60% chance at any time of being hit by Dorian. (This remains the case as of Wednesday evening: while the winds and storm surge and flooding threatens much of the eastern seaboard, Dorian may never technically make landfall in the United States.)

It is a federal crime to publish "any counterfeit weather forecast" bearing the name of a government agency, as Trump's marked-up and week-old NOAA forecast did.

Why should this bother me?

  • It's dangerous to give false information about impending natural disasters.
  • A mentally healthy person could simply have admitted that they misspoke.
  • Even by Trump's standards for lying and inability to admit error, this is bizarre.