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General Interest, Politics, Trump Week in Review

WEEK #116 OF THE TRUMP ERA IN REVIEW, FRIDAY, 3/29/19 TO THURSDAY, 4/4/19

Count Week #116 of The Trump Era as one more week the Mueller Report was kept secret from Congress and the American people while Trump got to sell his version of the report to America 24/7 with his new mantra “Fully exonerated.”

Flush with a claimed victory that would be disputed later in the week, the President flew to Mar A Lago for another 3-day weekend of golf and compromised national security. Trump shrugged off the disclosure that defunding the Special Olympics had been his idea all along to pay for his wall, and he just left Betsy DeVos twisting in the wind to bear the brunt of the universal condemnation of such cruelty. The trick was Trump riding in like a knight in shining armor to “save” the beloved (and very high-profile) Special Olympics, while very quietly slashing other vital programs for (!) blind children and children with a myriad of other disabilities.

Which answers the riddle, “If not Mexico, then who pays for the wall?” The Answer is… “disabled American children is who!” Our stricken youngsters can now be proud to be so deeply a part of mainstream American culture, with this noble sacrifice of their very futures for the sake of National Security serving as a shining example to America’s poor, who perhaps aren’t donating enough to the wall between Good and Evil. 

So evil does he consider our next door neighbors that Trump threatened to completely close the entire US/Mexico border within a week unless Mexico halts “all illegal immigration,” which was greeted unanimously as being hands down the most idiotic idea of the year, costing billions a day in lost revenue, jobs, and agricultural goods, while severely compromising America’s security.

Saturday interrupted Trump’s winning streak when a Federal judge struck down his Executive Order overturning an Obama Era ban on drilling for oil in the parts of Arctic controlled by America, averting a potential ecological disaster for indigenous wildlife. Trump was sorely disappointed, mostly because he could not erase Obama’s name from something else.

After someone in the White House apparently explained the facts of life to Trump about the dire consequences of closing an active border, he announced he was putting off his border closing to “next week” (and this time, I really mean it!), then later in the week amending it to “next year after a review” and added “ending the flow of drugs” to Mexico’s new responsibilities. Needing someone to lash out at, and to prove to his base that he is still actively hurting Latino people, the President announced he was cutting off foreign aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, doing the one thing that is certain to make the refugee problem that makes him so crazy a lot worse (bringing to mind the wisdom of my Irish Granny: “Some people are not happy unless they’re miserable.”).

On Sunday Trump’s new Chief of Staff  Mick Mulvaney filled in for Rudy Giuliani on the latest episode of “How Is This Helping?” as Mulvaney made a statement about the potential Trump campaign’s Russian collusion, saying (!) “the issue is not whether it’s unethical,” leaving us to wonder under what circumstances is Russian collusion ethical and/or helpful, and why did he bring this up in quite that way.

Trump didn’t exactly make a case for his humanitarian nature that day when he started a Death Watch for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, saying about potential future Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Barret, “I’m saving her for Ginsburg.” The diminutive Justice Ginsburg responded to the President by celebrating her 86th birthday this week in fine health, and returning to her rigorous daily fitness regimen.

And speaking of diminutive women, Monday bought us news of Tricia Newbold, a White House Security expert turned whistle-blower. Ms Newbold told a House committee that senior Trump administration officials granted security clearances to at least 25 individuals whose applications had been denied by career security employees for a variety of offenses, including “two very senior” administration officials (Jared and Ivanka for those keeping score at home).

Another “Monday sucks” moment for Trump was Mitch McConnell treating Trump like an attention-challenged child (“I repeatedly told him to listen to me.”) and clearly explaining in short words that any legislation regarding health care would have to wait until after the 2020 election, a tacit admission that Obamacare is working well, remains very popular and that the GOP has exactly no plan in existence to replace it. Besides, then who would treat all those cases of Black Lung in McConnell’s home State of Kentucky that McConnell has ignored for decades?

Naturally Trump tried to save face by saying this was his idea and he would make health care the centerpiece of his reelection campaign, fooling no one after McConnell’s deadpan explanation, an ominous sign that the Machiavellian Majority Leader has reached his limit in humoring Trump after 2 years as his protector and willing accomplice.

Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security and walking Blonde Joke Kirstjen Nielson also made herself useful (alas, useful only in the Giuliani sense) when she claimed that refugees were “using sick children as pawns” to gain entry to the USA, assigning a monstrous inhumanity to the motives of desperate refugees trying to save their children from danger.

And speaking of Latino suffering (one of our new National Pastimes), Trump made a slight mathematical error of $80 billion when he said Puerto Rico received $91 billion in federal disaster aid after Hurricane Maria, and he insisted that Puerto Rico is “draining the USA.” As it happens, Puerto Rico is the USA and every Puerto Rican a full US Citizen. Who knew? (besides everyone but Trump) The island received $11 billion after Maria destroyed much of its infrastructure. 

Armed with this new awareness, Trump declared, “The best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico is President Donald J. Trump.” Puerto Rico is very relieved that Trump is treating them better than anyone has ever treated anybody in all of history. After all, he did bring the paper towels!

To be fair to Puerto Rico, Trump’s $80 billion math booboo was not even his biggest or craziest lie of the week (he is truly the master of ‘hold my beer!’). In his continuing battle against the wind (it’s a hair weave thing, okay?), he claimed that wind turbines not only slash the value of your home by 75%, but the sound they make will (!!) give you cancer, all of which which he implied was part of (!) Hillary Clinton’s master plan. Then there was the speech he made when he said “I better be careful what I say, someone will leak the speech.” He said this looking straight into a video camera lens.
On national television. 

In the movies this is the part where the Men in The White Coats show up with a soothing injection and an ambulance ride to the mental ward strapped to a gurney. Instead, we have the Men in The White Skins, those Senate Republicans willing to groom Fat Old Caligula’s horse when he appoints him Senator.

NATO was Trump’s random beef on Tuesday, again insisting our allies join us in a massive arms buildup when there are no military rivals mobilizing against the Alliance, or even capable of challenging the combined might of NATO in the field. Unless of course someone was actively sabotaging the Alliance, that is, someone on the inside. Someone, say… of substantial power, the leader of a wealthy NATO member nation, and one who has already identified the European Union as our economic enemy. But that’s just crazy talk! Who would do such thing?  

Besides, didn’t President Trump just prove his deep love for Europe by forgetting where his father was born? He assured his audience “my father is German, was German. Born in a very wonderful place in Germany.” Fred Trump was born in The Bronx, by the way, and it was his Mother who was born in Europe, an immigrant from Scotland. 

Which either makes us wonder if the Scottish pronunciation of the word origins” sounds anything like “oranges,” or if Trump’s dementia has simply short-circuited a few more synapses this past week.  

This was also the day when a woman, Chinese national Yujing Zhang, invaded Mar A Lago armed with 4 cell phones, a laptop computer and a thumb drive armed with malware designed to hack and then disable computer systems, and was thwarted only by the hotel receptionist who could not help but notice the woman’s flimsy and conflicting cover stories that the Secret Service and Mar A Lago Security somehow managed to overlook. 

She was peripherally connected to the Chinese-American former madame (pimp), Cindy Yang, who runs a Presidential Access business out of Mar A Lago nowadays, showing up with an invitation (written in Chinese) to one of Ms. Yang’s events that she regularly holds there, but one that had been cancelled. Thanks to the desk clerk, Yujing Zhang is under arrest and her electronic devices are being thoroughly examined. If all this sounds peculiar and raises some red flags, relax. Trump chalked it up as “a fluke, nothing.” Phew!

On Wednesday, Congress subpoenaed the full Mueller report, tired of waiting for Attorney General Barr to finish redacting it before handing it over, the House Committee Chairmen insisting upon getting the full, unedited report as well as the underlying evidence, saying they “have good reason to believe the President wants portions of the report hidden.” Geez, ya think?

Confirming these suspicious were members of Mueller’s own team no longer under a gag order, prosecutors who had written summaries of their sections of the report designed to be released to the public immediately without compromising national security (that Barr never released), reports that completely contradicted Barr’s mild interpretation that handed a propaganda victory to the President, with these attorneys claiming the offenses were “far more acute” than described, and came nowhere near exonerating Trump from anything.

Just how “acute” is what Congress wants to know (also 90% of the American people), while the Justice Department defends Barr’s Pollyanna Preview of Mueller’s report and their snail-swift redaction process. Which (speaking of things Trump desperately wants hidden), is not Trump’s only problem with Congress (or several States’ criminal courts for that matter), since the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal has formally requested Trump’s tax returns from 2013 to 2018 from the Internal Revenue Service, which he is empowered to do by law, with or without the President’s consent.

Meanwhile, the House Intelligence committee requested the financial records of the Trump Inaugural Committee, long rumored to be guilty of Russian money-laundering, and will interview Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Melania Trump’s (!) interior designer and friend who was somehow assigned as the (!!) main organizer of inauguration events, for which she was paid (!!!) $26 million. 

This means that while he was dead wrong about his inauguration crowd size, Trump may yet set some impressive inauguration records, numbers like no one has seen before. In the “Most Millions of Dollars Simply Disappeared” category, but still…

And then there’s the “Most People Put in Danger of Malnutrition” record when Trump announced plans to take Food Stamps away from 750,000 Americans. In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson said “Hunger in America ends now,” never dreaming another president would one day wax nostalgic for widespread starvation in the world’s most bountiful nation just for shits and giggles.

The Trump Administration is also setting records for being sued. On top of the multiple criminal investigations of the President his family, his businesses and his phony charity foundation, many States have banded together to file a class action lawsuit over the Administration’s downgrading of the Nutritional Content Standards for school lunches. The House of Representatives is also taking Trump to court for using his Emergency Powers illegally by declaring the border a National Emergency, calling it a hoax, a political stunt and a power grab designed to defy the Constitutionally-mandated Congressional oversight on Executive spending (aka theft). 

Trump ended the week on Thursday with one more ridiculous move, nominating Herman Cain to be new Chairman of The Federal Reserve Board, the same Herman Caine the pizza chain CEO whose presidential bid ended abruptly in 2012 amid a flurry of sexual abuse accusations and whose incomprehensible “9-9-9” economic plan was that campaign’s most memorable laughingstock, just as loopy as Trump’s limited grasp of economic ethics (6 personal and business bankruptcies and a trillion dollar tax break where the rich got 95% of the money while trickling down none of it). 

This laissez-faire attitude towards financial rules actually applying to the elite was reflected in Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s troubles when it was revealed that he, just like his boss, violated federal ethics rules when it comes to divesting himself of a film company that does business with China by selling it to his wife, a potential conflict of interest (also much like his boss, who has his personal line of products made in the same China he claims to treat as an adversary, the China that just granted Trump’s daughter dozens of potentially very lucrative trademarks). 

Unlike the president, however, Mnuchin is not coated with legal teflon, and the Senate Ethics Committee will make him the second Cabinet Secretary (Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is the other) that the Senate has recently refused to certify his 2018 Financial Disclosure Form. Funny how the people handling the money end of the government are kind of shady, and now here comes crazy and inexperienced Herman Caine to set the rules for the largest economy on earth. Might as well just back up a dump truck to Fort Knox and deliver our gold right to the doorsteps of the wealthy.

On the bright side, sales of aluminum foil, garlic and wooden crosses are booming as the result of Trump & Company’s increasingly bizarre public statements, hallucinatory Tweets and insane deeds. There is no “lull” in the Trump Era, no quiet times when nothing threatening is happening and no incendiary statements are made. 

With the daily headlines remaining Trump, Trump and more Trump, one can’t help but feel nowhere near as well informed about events we once followed closely, information that piques our curiosity and the individual passions that bring us joy, whether it is keeping up with events in the rest of the world, non-political domestic news in our own very large and very interesting country, new cultural trends, the arts, sports, scientific and technological advances, intriguing hobbies, new ideas or simply the latest news in fly fishing, we’re enjoying less and less of it, as news of this ever-unfolding emergency of a presidency pounds a relentless beat through all media.

Is it any wonder why painkiller addiction and overdose deaths are at an all-time record high? Those are also numbers we’ve never seen before either. Until the Trump Era.

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