It’s hard to decide what to be more ashamed of this week, our president has been so prolific in that department. Here’s a president who has learned to overcome catastrophic natural disasters, rival statesmen’s funerals and exciting Super Bowl games to reclaim “his” headlines, making everything everywhere somehow all about himself. His hurricanes, after all, are the “biggest ever,” his floods (!) “the wettest in terms of water.” This needy behavior was getting old before disaster struck, and the man has shrunken, not grown in office.
An unspeakable tragedy occurred in Pittsburgh on Saturday, the largest mass murder of Jews in American history in a sabbath attack on worshippers in a synagogue by a psychotic Antisemite. Among the 11 people killed was a Holocaust survivor, a 97 year-old woman who survived Hitler’s Germany, but not Trump’s America. This was naturally a watershed moment for Trump, to address this unspeakable atrocity and stand up and be a president.
President of the headlines, that is. Any news of other people and non-Trump events is an affront to a man committed to dominating every news cycle, All Trump All The Time.
Before the dead were buried he turned atrocity into attention grabbing, grief into tears of rage. His first reaction was to defend guns. His second reaction was to suggest that if there were guns in the synagogue “maybe there would have been a different result.” Aside from that being a monstrous statement, this mad killer shot 4 police armed officers too, and most of the dead were elderly people gathered to pray and celebrate the naming of an infant boy. At some point one of his aides composed a hasty statement with the standard issue Thoughts & Prayers, showing some semblance of proper sentiment and a normal person’s reaction. That would be repudiated swiftly.
This stunning national moment was a time to pause, to grieve, to comfort and reflect.
Or… you could go to 3 political rallies during the immediate aftermath of this horrific mass killing and then crash funerals you were specifically asked not to attend. Everyone reacts differently to grief, one supposes, and maybe there are those who deal with it best by callously exploiting it for personal gain. There’s always that, if excuse-making for heinous behavior is your thing…
Week #94 started in the wee hours on Friday, The Tweeting Hours, Trump Time. Crazy stuff, like questioning whether or not the 14 mail bombs were real or a hoax to “make me look bad.” (as if he needed any help there), hours before the FBI nailed the pipe bomber, an Industrial Strength Trump fan living in a van decorated like an Aryan Nation Website.
Never mentioning the names of the dozen prominent Americans who were targeted by this mad bomber, Trump’s biggest complaint was that “it might slow our momentum” at the polls. Once it was revealed that the bomber was a rabid Trumpophile who targeted only the people repeatedly singled out for vicious abuse and crazy accusations by Trump, the President of the United States was put in the unique position of having to deny inspiring these attempted bombings, and claim this was the most unlikely coincidence in the history of unlikely coincidences. And he called the Saudis’ excuses for killing Khashoggi lame?
And speaking of denying the obvious, the message of his rallies, Tweets and political ads has been distilled into 100 Proof Moonshine called “Old Racism & Crime” as the election draws close. The Democrats are “an angry mob,” he screams to his angry mobs, “who want open borders, MS13, rapists and crime.” The dogwhistle is out, the bullhorn is in. Trump has made racism cool again and empowered White Supremacists and Nazis (some of whom are “very fine people”) as never before, and now they’re not even bothering to try to disguise it.
When the President of the United States declares “I am a Nationalist,” there is no one on Earth unaware of the ramifications of that statement, or the overtly racist connotations of the word “Nationalist” in the USA. Combine that with Angela Merkel’s retirement and the elevation to power of far-rightwing fanatic Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and the world is a darker place this week.
Then Trump went full Banana Republic Dictator and ordered 15,000 active duty soldiers to the border to meet the “threat of invasion” posed by a caravan of unarmed desperate refugees from Central America more than thousand miles away from America, a caravan he recently said includes (!) Middle Eastern ISIS fighters using women and children as “human shields,” and claiming the caravans were organized by Democrats so these foreigners could vote in this election, which will be months in the past if and when they ever reach the USA (they are walking) some time around the New Year.
His own military leaked a document to the public informing the president that the threat that this caravan posed to America was nonexistent, and none of the military’s business. But what the hell do they know? Generals don’t have to run for office, and Trump has made these Midterm Elections his own 2016 Presidential Election 2.0, a referendum on all things Trump. So he will deploy armed troops in his own country unnecessarily and, according to their Commander in Chief, with orders to answer rock-throwing protestors with a hail of deadly bullets. He really said that rocks will be considered “firearms” and met with deadly force.
Then Trump replaced the bullhorn with a loudspeaker to unveil his plan to alter both the essential nature of this country and the United States Constitution with an Executive Order when he vowed he would end Birthright Citizenship, one of the wonderful things that make America America. The fact is that the Constitution is unambiguous in stating that if you are born here you belong here, upheld by the Supreme Court repeatedly since the 14th Amendment’s ratification in 1848.
You know, the same 14th Amendment that says the son of an illegal immigrant from Scotland who is the Anchor Baby Daddy to 4 of his 5 children can grow up to the President of The United States? Yeah, that 14th Amendment.
The fact that a president is powerless to change the Constitution did not stop him from attacking outgoing Speaker of the House and beaten puppy Paul Ryan for “knowing nothing about Birthright Citizenship” and claiming the USA was “the only country to have this insane policy.” He was only off by 33 countries, but was confident his base would not read beyond the headlines and Tweets, and when his proposal inevitably goes nowhere, they will easily be convinced that Trump was once again thwarted by “the George Soros Deep State.”
Trump admitted that he did come close to cancelling one rally in the aftermath of the synagogue massacre, due to having (!) a bad hair day. Yes he really said that too. When criticized for not pausing his hyperactive campaigning for a moment of solemnity, Trump reverted to 2016 form, lying about 9/11. He claimed his “friend” (as if he had any of those) heroically reopened the New York Stock Exchange on September 12th, when it fact it remained closed until September 17th of 2001.
In Trump Administration developments, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has been the subject of numerous ethics investigations, and one such probe resulted in a “criminal referral’ to the Justice Department this week when it turned out that the only “interior” Zinke cared about was lining the inside of his wallet.
Another entertainer spoke out against Trump when Pharrell Williams sent a cease and desist order to Trump for playing his infections feel-good song “Happy” at a rally on the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged (yes, you guessed it) self-proclaimed Nationalist. Lot of that going around lately.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, observing the Justice Department policy of not making any bombshell revelations close to an election, nonetheless made headlines himself when a plot to frame Mueller for sexual assault blew up in the faces of the plotters. In a bizarre case of attempted political sabotage, character defamation and outrageous incompetence, a young punk and Twitter Star (whatever that is) who just so happens to be a fanatic Trump supporter, Jacob Wohl, along with another minor celebrity, right-wing conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman (the poor man’s Alex Jones), tried to frame Robert Mueller with bogus rape accusations.
One of the women they offered $20,000 for claiming Mueller sexually assaulted her did not know Mueller, and had never even met the man, but she did turn over Wohl’s (are you fucking serious?) written offer to Robert Mueller, who handed it to the FBI, and now we have another curious side scandal going on within the Special Counsel’s investigation. Truly the Trump Era is one giant Faberge Egg of scandals, opening one to find another one within, then opening that one to find another, then opening that scandal to find yet another dirty deed. etc, etc.
Robert Mueller, however, is the patient and methodical sort, well-suited to peeling back layers of lies, intrigue and criminal acts. That’s pretty much what he has done for his entire career, and quite successfully, much to the continuing discomfort of Donald J. Trump and his army of apologists and coconspirators.
So, what of all this is most shaming? Killing kids throwing rocks? Being an attention whore during a national tragedy? Trying to redefine citizenship? Declaring oneself a Nationalist? Amassing troops at an ally’s border? Making light of the assassination attempts on his rivals even as he continues to demonize them? Or… all the above?