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General Interest, Politics, Trump Week in Review

WEEK #132 OF THE TRUMP ERA IN REVIEW, FRIDAY 7/19/19 TO THURSDAY 7/25/19


Week #132 of the Trump Era brings us a new standard for the prosecution of crimes: Even if the evidence is overwhelming, no criminal charges may be filed if a prosecutor’s on-camera performance and TV ratings are poor.

Trump claimed a victory after Robert Mueller’s decidedly undramatic testimony before 2 House Committees this week, and not without justification. While anyone who has read the Mueller Report can be fairly certain that Trump and his associates have committed numerous very serious crimes (6 are in prison so far), his victory consists of completing the transformation of the Government of the United States of America into a Reality TV Show, where perception replaces reality and empty grandstanding replaces substance, and now even Congress is on board, refusing to act on the crimes of a president because not enough people are willing to read anything longer than a slogan or watch gravely serious proceedings on television.

Week #132 began on Friday with Iran seizing a British oil tanker in the Straits of Hormuz, affording Trump a fresh opportunity to threaten to go to war with Iran, suddenly valuing our allies after 2-1/2 years of demonizing NATO in particular and Western democracies in general. For good measure, he threatened China for buying Iranian oil, which China has been doing for decades without seeking America’s approval, or paying the slightest attention to whatever sanctions Trump dreams up on a whim, oblivious to global strategic and economic realities.

He had little time for saber rattling, however, since he had a brief Photo Op to attend commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing with some elderly astronauts, which he squeezed in before heading to his golf resort in New Jersey for a long weekend to play golf, goof off and send out more of his trademark inane drivel via Twitter. For fans of his disjointed semiliteracy, he did not disappoint, defending his vicious racist attacks on four minority Congresswomen and lying his ass off about leading a cheer of “Send Her Back” about one of them at a political rally a few days before. Then the man who calls two thirds of American citizens “haters and losers” claimed that these women “hate our country” because they had the temerity to oppose Trump’s locking children in dog kennels.

He reluctantly returned to Washington DC on Sunday evening, gearing up for a busy week of pretending to work hard running the country. There was a budget to be ironed out, a political rally for which to prepare, a Special Counsel to slander, and reporters to attack for (!) “always asking questions” (their job description). So many haters and losers to insult, so little time…

On Monday, Attorney General Barr ordered Robert Mueller not to stray from the findings of his report during his upcoming testimony before Congress, an unnecessary admonishment to a man as rigid, dour and cryptic as Mueller, who has already thrown down the gauntlet to Congress to read his report and act on its findings since he himself was not allowed to prosecute a sitting president, and was unwilling to perform like an overwrought marionette for the cameras, a very serious man of the Old School, far out of step with the frivolous new Reality TV norm.

On the running the country (into the ground) front, Congress agreed to a $1.3 trillion budget, and eliminated the debt ceiling limits for 2 years that put the Trump Administration, according to his Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, in danger of running out of money before September, when the new budget kicks in. Apparently adding several trillion to the National debt and running a trillion dollar annual deficit is the New Fiscal Conservatism, another Trump revision of established norms and longstanding Republican claims. 

To their credit, however, Republicans only call for spending limits and worry about our National Debt when a Democrat is the President, since Democrats have a knack for cleaning up the fiscal mess left behind after spendthrift Republican administrations bring us to the brink of economic ruin. Their lack of a spine for standing up to Trump is perhaps understandable since they are, after all, Republicans.

The bad news for Trump on Monday was the American Civil Liberties Union vowing to go to court to block the “Fast Tracking Deportation” that he ordered to be implemented, which would dispense with the niceties of adherence to the law, with its mandatory recourse to the courts. So miffed was the President that he petulantly sent out a classic Projection Tweet at the four freshmen Representatives that he calls “The Squad,” calling these women of color and constant targets of his racist attacks (!!) “the real racists.” Peewee Herman must be torn between being proud that his early work is still relevant enough for a President to reference, and wanting to sue Trump for uncredited infringement of his trademark schtick “I know you are, but what am I?”

Even though nobody asked him, Trump waxed eloquent on Monday about ending the Afghanistan War “in just a few days, but I don’t want to kill 10 million people.” Apparently he was angling for a Nobel Peace Prize by refraining from starting a nuclear war even though he really really, really wants to.

Speaking of the Nobel Prize, this was the week where he hosted a young Yazidi woman from Iraq named Nadia Murad in the White House, who was there as part of her campaign to seek humanitarian relief for her people from the raging war between Iraqi and Kurdish forces. Her short prepared entreaty for help from Trump required his brief silence, one of those times when our heroic President endures the droning word sounds coming from other people’s mouths that sadly interrupt his own voluminous vocalizing, so he must be forgiven for not paying attention.

When Ms, Murad described how ISIS killed her mother and 6 brothers, Trump replied (!!!) “where are they now?” “In a mass grave” was her rather creeped out reply, which still did not penetrate his thick skull, as he blurted out “but ISIS is gone!” and then went on to lie about “knowing that area very well” just to break his minutes-long silence, then gave his standard meaningless reply, “We’re going to look into it very strongly.” 

What did rivet his attention, however, was the fact that the woman was the recipient of a Nobel Prize, an honor that Trump covets even more that he covets his daughter Ivanka. That he wanted to hear all about, how she got it, and for what, and who nominated her, until it became apparent that there was no way to make this all about him. Meeting over, strong looking promised!

On Tuesday Trump had occasion to mend fences with one of our allies that he has spent most of his presidency alienating when the United Kingdom chose Mister Brexit himself as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. Johnson is basically a younger Trump (minus the hairspray, orange skin and about 100 pounds), every bit as ignorant, pompous and crude, and already being called “the British Trump,” never in a complimentary way, which is lost on Trump, who keeps acting as if he were elected British PM instead of, as Trump called Johnson repeatedly, “Britain Donald Trump,” thus giving Europeans one more opportunity to mock Trump and tape a virtual “Kick Me” sign on his ample backside. 

Tuesday also saw yet another Trump associate, Bijon Rafiekian (alias Bijon R. Khan for you potboiler spy novel fans) convicted of a serious crime. Mr. Rafiekian was found guilty of being an unregistered foreign agent and submitting false documents to the US Justice Department. He was a not only a Trump Campaign fundraiser and illegal lobbyist, but the business partner of Trump’s disgraced and convicted National Security Advisor General Michael T. Flynn (Ret.), who both had secret illicit dealings with Turkey, Ukraine and the Kremlin, collecting millions in mysterious “fees,” as well as engaging in shady dealings with Trump’s other convicted buddy and former Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, now cooling his heels for the next 7 years in Federal prison.

Not one to let Rafiekian and Flynn hog all the corruption headlines that day, Secretary of The Interior David Bernhardt took a turn on the hot seat. It seems that the Interior Department’s internal ethics watchdog has opened an investigation into whether top Trump appointees at the agency have violated federal open-record laws by withholding or delaying the release of public documents, emails and policy memos, including Secretary Bernhardt himself, a prime candidate for being the next Trump Administration official to leave office in disgrace.

And not being one to let a subordinate hog his headlines, Trump sued New York State and the United States Congress to block New York from sharing his State Tax Returns with the House of Representatives Oversight Committee that is investigating his shady business dealings, and NY State criminal prosecutors investigating Trump and his family for insurance fraud and real estate fraud.

Then the ACLU made good on their promise to stop Trump from changing immigration law when a court threw out yet another one of Trump’s ill-considered and arbitrary Executive Orders, this time when he tried to rewrite a law formerly used to fast-track deportations for migrants who had been in the United States for just a few weeks and were still within 100 miles of the southwestern border, instead decreeing that he could fast track deportations for anyone he felt like deporting, no matter how long they have been in America or where they were located. Trump of course vowed to appeal, but the Constitution allows only Congress to write laws, providing the president with one more flagrant instance of the Founding Fathers being very unfair to him.

Then on Wednesday came Mueller Time, When Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified for 7 hours before both the House Judiciary Committee and Intelligence Committee, when Mueller delivered his characteristically undramatic and terse presentation that pleased no one but Donald Trump. Mueller refused to be drawn into political infighting, refused to answer almost 200 question because they would interfere with other ongoing investigations in the Trump Administration, and refused to grandstand in any way, but he did in fact confirm that, even though he was personally forbidden to indict and prosecute a sitting president, that Donald Trump had indeed committed a number of serious crimes, and willingly and eagerly accepted Russian help in influencing the 2016 election on his behalf.

Democrats were disappointed he did not provide them with a smoking gun, and Republicans humiliated themselves disgracefully as they tried unsuccessfully to discredit Mueller and his team of investigators, their efforts rewarded with Mueller stating that Trump could very well be prosecuted and convicted after he leaves office. Mueller insisted that the evidence speaks for itself (anyone who has read the report can confirm the presence of dozens of smoking guns, whether or not Mueller shouts it out loud on television), and that only Congress can prosecute a sitting President, a legal point that is the topic of much heated debate and speculation, but nevertheless has been the guiding principle of Mueller’s investigation.

So naturally Trump claimed victory and total vindication, when the exact opposite occurred, citing “Mueller’s poor performance” repeatedly, cementing his view that governing is simply a higher stakes version of being the Reality TV Game Show Host that made him famous outside of New York City.

Sadly, the Democrats ceded his point when support for introducing Articles of Impeachment eroded following what they called “Mueller’s lackluster performance,” a tacit admission that we are indeed a reality show and not a country anymore when they decided they did not have enough support to vote him off the island because nothing is valid anymore until it is confirmed by being shouted out loud on a TV show.

Trump celebrated by vetoing a Senate bill prohibiting him from selling more weapons to Saudi Arabia to fuel their war of genocide against Yemen, then flew to West Virginia to lead another MAGA rally where he could hurl racist insults at his fellow Americans with lusty impunity, and claim that he was completely exonerated from all the crimes attributed to him in the Mueller Report in painststaking detail. 

William Barr got in on the celebrations Thursday by announcing that Trump’s Justice Department was getting back in the Execution Business in a big way after a 20 year hiatus, with 5 (count ’em!) executions scheduled for December of this year. 

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell heeded Robert Mueller’s most dire warning, that foreign interference would become “the new norm” if we didn’t do something about it swiftly, and sprung into action. He blocked two bills that would have done something about it by securing our elections from foreign interference, but Old Mitch refused to even consider that, not wishing to bite the hand that fed him both his powerful position and this oafish patsy of a president who helped him achieve his political goals by signing anything you put in front if him in a fancy leather binder, the same unseen hand that has enriched McConnell personally to the tune of millions.

There was one bright spot ending the week on Thursday when American automobile manufacturers rejected Trump’s rollback of pollution and safety standards that would have cost many lives and wrought devastating ecological damage when they signed agreements with California to honor the elevated mileage and safety standards instituted by President Obama. In effect, they reversed Trump’s reversal, and made it binding on a nationwide scale, since California is our most prosperous and influential State, and of itself boasts the World’s 5th largest economy.

Now to get Congress to grow at least as rigid a spine as auto executives, who recognized that giving in to Trump in the short run will only spell disaster in the long run. To paraphrase the great Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi, “Use the Report, Luke, use the Report.”

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