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Monday, January 30, 2023

Hamberders by any other name & more chilling news


Tuesday began with the oddity of Lindsay Graham mistaking Michael Steele for Christopher Steele, the retired MI-6 agent known for the much maligned by Trump and the GOP, but never disproved, dossier.

I started my morning watching the Barr hearing. I thought this was interesting enough for a tweet but I never thought I’d end up writing a column about the oddities, amusements, and outrages of the day.

In his first round of questioning William Barr this morning Lindsay Graham in his attacks on the FBI trying to discredit them for being out to get Donald Trump he referred to Michael Steele as the author of the infamous (yet to be disproved) Steele Dossier. Of course this was written by retired MI-6 agent Christopher Steele. Perhaps he has been watching anti-Trumper Michael Steele who is a regular commentator on MSNBC. He might have looked at his Twitter account where he actually does look like he could be a retired spy. “Man of Steele” should have been a hint.

Hopefully our friends at MSNBC will take this as an indication that the senior senator from South Carolina and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee watches their shows and tailors some of their messaging to him.

Then we had the “hamberger” story which was ridiculed on Twitter. However there is more to it than just a silly tweet. From RawStory: Burger King mocks Trump for misspelling ‘hamburgers’ in incoherent early morning tweet

You might surmise he was dictating because we know Trump has developed something of a lisp, hamburgers could sound like hamberders. However, since he often adds extraneous capital letters for emphasis which you can’t do with an oral command it would seem that he types his tweets.

This is how it would looked when I dictated it using the iPhone Twitter app. Note hamburger is correctly spelled. This is why I don’t think he dictated his tweet. It is clear he typed it.

First of all the “e” is nowhere near the “u” on the keyboard so it wasn’t a slip of the finger. If he typed hamburger with an “e” it before he clicked the space bar the word would first be spelled correctly for him as shown below so nobody could miss it, and once he hit the space bar it would be underlined in red dots.

Once he typed the next word the word remained misspelled as shown below.

From this perhaps tedious analysis (which required me to spend 10 minutes downloading the Twitter app to my iPhone and longer taking photos) it seems likely that Trump not only thinks hamburger is spelled hamberger, but that he ignored electronic advice as to the correct spelling. He knows how to spell better than a damn machine. Potato/potatoe, how very Dan Qualyean:

In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle was visiting Rivera Elementary School in Trenton, New Jersey, and jumped in to help facilitate a spelling bee. William Figueroa, age 12, was called to the board to demonstrate how to spell “potato.” With a stick of chalk and perfect penmanship, Figueroa carefully spelled the word correctly on the board. The student stepped back, satisfied—until the Veep himself urged the young man to tack another letter on to the end to make the spelling “correct.” (from Mental Floss)

It is a minor but telling example of the arrogance of the uniformed lazy mind of a narcissistic president. How very Trumpian!

A couple of days ago there was another Trump “oddity.” President Trump tweeted about how much he was looking forward to his trip to Nashville: “Getting ready to address the Farm Convention today in Nashville, Tennessee. Love our farmers, love Tennessee – a great combination! See you in a little while.” The farmers were meeting in New Orleans.

Back to the “bergers.” Trump’s “berger-fest” at the White House is prompted creative photoshopping by folks more adept at it than me:

This also prompted a marvelously titled story in Salon: Cold Whoppers in the White House: A visual metaphor for the Trump presidency — The Clemson Tigers won a championship so they were invited to Trump’s “hamberder” dream meal. Here’s an excerpt:

Over the last two years, Trump’s chaotic presidency has slid up and down a spectrum of bizarre to terrifying, so little that the president does anymore is particularly surprising. But still, the dollar menu millionaire spectacle broke new ground even in Trump’s White house, and  people on social media had a field day with the visuals. Adam Serwer from the Atlantic tweeted, “there’s a certain cleverness to the fast food for college football champs at the White House as a metaphor for Trump presidency as false advertising and underwhelming results.”

This is how Burger (with a “u”) King responded to the hamberder tweet:

Now we get a matter of true national importance: the appointment of a Trump toady to oversee the Mueller investigation.

There were several troubling aspects of the hearing, but two stood out to me. One came when Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein was questioning Barr about any limits on a sitting executive. Barr gave a rehearsed answer saying that “if a president attempts to intervene in a matter he has a stake in, to protect himself, that should first be looked at as a breach of his constitutional duties. Whether it also violates a statute … depending on what comes into play and what all the facts are.”

Sen. Feinstein, who isn’t even a lawyer (she got her BA in history at Stanford) is no slouch on the law and is adept at asking the gotcha prosecutorial questions. She is well aware of the mountain of evidence about Trump profiting personally from being president asked “… including the emoluments clause of the Constitution?”

Barr’s answer was astounding:  “I … Well … I think there’s a dispute about what the emoluments clause relates to. I had not personally researched the emoluments clause. I can’t even tell you what it says at this point.”

No doubt Barr tried to anticipate all the questions Democrats would ask and have ready answers. He must be kicking himself for not preparing an answer to this one considering how mired in likely emolument clause violations the president is.

Here’s another one that is downright mind-boggling and chilling. Senator Klobuchar asked if he would jail reporters for doing their jobs — and he didn’t say no.

Klobuchar: asked: “If you’re confirmed, will the Justice Department jail reporters for doing their jobs?” Barr did not answer directly.  He said he “can conceive of situations” where as a “last resort” that could happen, especially if a news outlet has run through a “red flag” whatever that means it sounds – here’s that word again – chilling.

Throughout the day yesterday commentators on MSNBC were shaking their heads in disbelief that he had to pause a long time before offering his “red flag” answer.


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