Week #81 saw President Trump singled out for censure by the United Nations Human Rights Council for the second time in 2018, this time for his relentless attacks on the free press, saying these “attacks are strategic, designed to undermine confidence in reporting and raise doubts about verifiable facts.”
To prove the UN correct in their withering assessment, Trump levied a tariff on newsprint imported from Canada, dealing another severe blow to a newspaper industry already struggling to survive, then spending the week attacking Freedom of The Press relentlessly and viciously, even as his own daughter and White House staffer Ivanka Trump Kushner contradicted him by defending the role of a free press in our American democracy.
Trump is on board with America, just not the “democracy” part of it, that description of our country that keeps him from doing what he has done all his life, impose his will on everyone around him in order to get his way, no matter who gets hurt or cheated in the process.
Week #81 began on Friday with Trump’s sponsor Vladimir Putin indicating the would be glad to visit the White House when the time is right, and extended an invitation to Trump to visit the Kremlin, which he gleefully accepted (He likes me, he really likes me!).
Delivering his usual rambling and incoherent weekly address that day, Trump claimed that America’s pre-Trump immigration policies were a major cause of the 9/11 attack (carried out by exactly no immigrants), and that the 4% growth rate for the last quarter represented economic expansion unmatched by any other president, if you don’t count his immediate predecessor Barrack Obama, whose economies topped that figure 5 times, and every other American president dating back to Lyndon Johnson.
One can only assume that President Trump missed those history lessons back in college due to those nasty recurring bouts of bone spurs that also prevented him from singlehandedly turning the tide and winning the Vietnam War.
Reality once again ruined another of Trump’s silly boasts on Saturday when Turkish President Recep Erdoğan denied they had a deal for releasing an America pastor held in Turkish prison as Trump had claimed, stating unequivocally that he “won’t be bullied by Trump,” shortly after Trump had claimed the opposite.
That didn’t help the president’s already black mood, and on Sunday he unleashed 35 incredibly insane and vicious (even for him) Tweets condemning the things bothering him (pretty much everything going in is America, especially reality itself, which has been very unfair to him).
What was bothering him most is Robert Mueller, the news media and the lack of funding for his proposed wall along America’s southern border, in no particular order.
He lied about and slandered Mueller, lied about a meeting with New York Times publisher AG Sulzberger where he implored Trump to end his war on the First Amendment, and threatened a government shutdown if Congress does not give him funding for his precious wall, the same wall for which he spent 2 years promising that he would make Mexico pay.
On Monday, Trump announced plans that would make it more difficult for Congress to fund anything at all when he announced plans to give away another $100 billion in tax cuts to the very wealthy, and would circumvent Congress to do so.
Then Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department was forming something called The Religious Liberty Task Force, to protect the tender sensibilities of White Christians. You know, those people who got such a raw deal here in America. Sessions has so far been unable or unwilling to explain how this does not violate the Constitutional mandate of Separation of Church and State, or why one of the tasks of the task force is not protecting any of the other religions practiced here by tens of millions of Americans, or defending the task force from accusations that it is simply an underhanded tool to violate the rights and freedoms of American citizens without the legislative authority conferred only on Congress and not the Justice Department.
Also on Monday, Trump met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, praising Italy’s immigration policies, making the usual insane boasts and transparent lies while failing to be able to name a single Italian product other than to say “I own some.” To his credit, Prime Minister Conte stoically acted as polite as a European gentleman can manage when seeking to mollify an odious madman.
For good measure, he again threatened a government shutdown, and then said he will meet “without conditions” with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani a week after tearing him apart on Twitter and threatening his nation with nuclear holocaust, matched Tweet for Tweet by an “unimpressed” Rouhani, who ripped into Trump in kind.
Such is the state of presidential diplomacy the days, a measured, civil and civilized approach to international relations that Trump reserves only for Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom Trump is always on his best behavior.
On Tuesday the Paul Manafort trial began, with the government laying out a powerful case of money laundering, tax evasion and treasonous conspiracy to defraud the United States against Trump’s former campaign manager, prompting Trump to claim that (!) Al Capone was treated better that Manafort. He claimed Manfort was being held in solitary confinement for being “an international political operator” and repeated his “no collusion” mantra before tearing a page from his crazy lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s book by saying “collusion is not a crime” (it most certainly is when colluding to break the law) before claiming that it doesn’t matter anyway because he did not collude with Russia but Hillary Clinton did and she should be locked up for this heinous (non)crime.
Yes, that really was his chain of what passes for logic in his fevered mind.
Rather than stick around Washington Tuesday and sulk, Trump fled to his safe space, a campaign rally in Florida, where he called for photo ID cards for voting, making the insane (again, even for him) claim that you need a photo ID to (!!) buy groceries in America, a gift to joke writers everywhere. He also called for 25% tariffs on Chinese imports, up from the 10% figure he originally floated.
Bigly sad for the president, the rally did not do much ease his pent up fury, and on Wednesday he demanded that Attorney General Sessions end Robert Mueller’s investigation “right now,” something that can’t happen for a number of legal reasons, further infuriating a man who thinks that laws do not apply to him (or even the most minimal standards of civilized behavior).
Special Counsel Mueller noticed, and is exploring a separate set of charges against Trump by examining his Tweets for possible obstruction of Justice, including this latest one about disbanding his investigation.
Trump did manage another petty swipe at President Obama, a man of whom Trump is insanely jealous and whose shoes he can never hope to fill, by rolling back Obama’s Federally mandated mileage standards for American automobiles. Trump’s mania for undoing Obama’s legacy of health care, diplomacy and pollution reduction comes at a steep price for his country in measurable terms of human misery and lives lost, but personal vendettas have always been more important and personally satisfying to Trump than petty considerations like quality of life, or life itself (as long as it’s not his own life and wellbeing that is affected).
That glow of undoing a better man’s work didn’t last long, though, since The Koch brothers picked that day to go to war with the president and his majority party that they helped elect, threatening to support Democrats because of Trump’s trade war, his draconian immigration polices his “harmful divisive rhetoric,” infuriating Trump and other Republicans who were counting on the cash cow that is The Koch Network, a group of ultra wealthy mega-donors led by Charles and David Koch and designed to exert real and lasting influence on American politics.
Biting the hand that handed him a complete majority in Congress, Trump lashed out at the Koch brothers, denying their universally-acknowledged impact on the 2016 election, saying “their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn,” ignoring reality once again at the peril of others who do indeed owe their elective offices to these corporate kingmakers. Trump finally picked a fight against an equally abhorrent opponent, giving ordinary Americans no one to root for in this battle of slime buckets, except to hope that they inflict serious damage on one another.
In response to all this fire and fury, White House aides, ever mindful of Trump’s well-being (and their own peace of mind in an environment dominated by an unpredictable, cruel and volatile lunatic), say they’re working to schedule more political rallies to boost Trump’s mood and distract him from the headlines about Russiagate.
Towards that end, the very next day Trump was addressing a political rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on behalf of a Republican Senatorial candidate he mentioned only in passing, then went Full-Trump Crazy in his attack on the press, inciting the assembled crowd to heckle and threaten the reporters there to cover the event. He also whipped out his Greatest Hits, calling Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” again, calling Bernie Sanders crazy, babbling about “Crooked Hilary” and “Crying Chuck Schumer,” and wondering out loud if he should shut down the government that he (supposedly) leads before or after the November 8th Midterm elections.
Then his own people conspired to harsh his mellow when his own national security chiefs accused Russia of pervasive attempts to influence the Midterm elections and announced they will put a stop to it, while the Senate introduced a bill that would levy even more and harsher sanctions against Russia in response to their ongoing attacks on our electoral system.
Which brings us to our final item for Week #81 of the Trump Era, the unresolved disaster of refugee children still imprisoned for the crime of existing. It seems that about 400 of them have slipped though the cracks of a court order to reunite them with their parents, who have been deported to their home countries with no one keeping track of whose child is whose.
In court on Thursday, the Federal government argued that the financial burden of the extensive detective work involved in undoing this callous catastrophe should be borne not by its perpetrators (the United States Government), but by the defenders of human rights who fought against this horrific policy.
The government wants help finding the parents of the remaining imprisoned children, demanding the court to order the American Civil Liberties Union to spend their own “considerable resources” to locate the deported parents and reunite the families the government has shattered.
In summation, reality has been very unfair to Donald Trump, and those pesky “verifiable facts” mentioned by the UN are not Fake News, and the American presidency and the governing of a large nation is not a game.