Quote of the Week: “They are devastated in Saudi Arabia.”
Week #152 of The Trump Era began on Friday with the House of Representatives getting a short letter from Trump’s lawyers explaining that the President is declining their invitation to participate in his own impeachment hearing, deciding not to mount any legal defense, declining to call or question witnesses, and to continue to disobey Congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony from this immediate staff.
This is either a reflection of his complete insanity, hubristic arrogance and contempt for the power-sharing arrangement of the Constitution that he lied about defending when he took his oath of office, or his confidence that he will be swiftly acquitted by a compromised and compliant Senate. Whatever the case, he decided on Friday to continue his defiance of Congress and the United States Constitution.
Indeed, the entire Republican party is now owned and run by Trump and Mitch McConnell, as complete a takeover of an American political party as has ever been accomplished. Once-respected elected officials are tripping over each other to humiliate themselves publicly by repeating a complete fantasy cooked up by Russian intelligence and propagated by Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, clumsily trying to frame Ukraine for Russia’s 2016 Election Heist and the Biden family for an ever-changing smorgasbord of imaginary crimes. It is as if Nixon’s defenders put the blame for the Watergate burglary of Democratic Headquarters on Portugal and George McGovern, and then stuck to that crazy story long after it had been thoroughly exposed and debunked.
Trump agreed on Friday to “delay” his designation of Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations (code for abandoning yet another asinine impulse) and defending himself for continuing to use his private cell phone for official business, pretty much insuring an easy job for the many foreign spies routinely monitoring his calls, before knocking off his exhausting 2-hour workday by hosting a Christmas reception at the White House.
He did, however, manage to leave us with one more eye-popping glimpse into the psyche of this petty little madman when he waxed eloquent about water and how it often comes in the form of rain (thanks, professor!), and about the toilet habits of Americans (or at least one of them), and that he is directing the Environmental Protection Agency to look into why he has to flush the toilet 10 or 15 times (please don’t share that with us, EPA, please!). His rambling dissertation on the topic was as embarrassing as it was infuriating that no one in his immediate proximity sedated him, slapped him in a straitjacket and hauled him away on a gurney.
Saturday was the 78th anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, ironically marked by a smaller attack on a U.S. Naval Base, this time a mass shooting by a Saudi Air Force officer receiving flight training at a Navy base in Pensacola, Florida, the second mass murder on a US military base in as many days. This prompted President Trump to immediately rush to the defense of… no, not the families of the 3 slain victims, but (!) the King of Saudi Arabia, who Trump assured us would “take care of the victims’ families,” conjuring up images of the Saudis giving big houses and bank accounts to the family of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi so they would shut the hell up about The Royal Family murdering and dismembering him with a bone saw for from the “crime” of criticizing them.
There has been no word yet from the families of the dead American officers if the Saudi blood money will make everything okay for them again.
If these reactions to a terror attack on a US Naval base by a President seem counterintuitive and downright weird, it was at least consistent for a President who does very little that resonates as normal behavior or rational impulses. His refusal to designate this mass shooting as a terror attack was soon corrected by the Pentagon and every law enforcement and intelligence agency in America, all of whom demonstrated a callous disregard for the feelings of the Saudi Royal Family that has been a lucrative source of income for President Trump.
Then Representative Jerrold Nadler announced that the House would release its Impeachment Report on Monday. Trump’s response was to retreat to not one, but 2 safe spaces, as he spoke at two political events in Florida, one at the American Council of Jewish Voters, and the other at something called “the Florida Republicans’ Annual Statesman’s Dinner,” where he introduced to the crowd (!!) two convicted war criminals that he had recently given full pardons, over the strenuous objections of our senior military leaders.
Speaking of repeating the deeds that got you in trouble, on Saturday we learned that Trump is still illegally withholding $18 billion in FEMA funds from Puerto Rico, almost 2 years after Hurricane Maria laid waste to this American island, before announcing (speaking of lucrative sources of presidential income) the opening “the Winter White House at Mar A Lago,” a monetary bonanza not only for the President, but also for the scores of undocumented immigrants that Trump hires to run the place (just don’t you try it!).
Sunday gave us 105 Tweets from Trump, a whiny and pathetic litany of slander, lies and fake victimhood best left for professional psychoanalysts (emphasis on the “psycho”) to decipher. He did remember to revisit his profound sympathy for the Saudi King for the stinging words of Americans outraged over one of his military officers shooting up an American naval base.
Perhaps the explanation is no deeper than his need for a new sweetheart since Sunday was the day Trump demanded the return of his class ring from his former steady squeeze Kim John Un when he announced “an end to our special relationship.” And those two crazy kids were just so much in love!
And just to prove that he was not done disrespecting NATO after abruptly stalking out of last week’s NATO Summit in a huff because Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron hurt his feelings, Trump had his political appointee Ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, cancel a speaker at a NATO event because that speaker had once criticized Trump, so NATO cancelled the event rather than capitulate to Ambassador Sand’s plan to feature a pro-Trump speaker at what was supposed to be a completely nonpolitical event concerning global strategies.
On Monday the House Judiciary Committee convened again, this time to provide a summary report of the previous hearings and to allow counsel to both Democrats and Republicans to make their cases for and against impeachment. As in all previous Impeachment Hearings, the Republican Caucus went ballistic, exhibiting a childish petulance that their repetitions of Giuliani’s invented delusions not being allowed to be entered into evidence, and whining about the FBI having a vendetta against Trump.
Serendipitously, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General released his report into the origins of the Russia Investigation of 2016 that day, and Republicans managed it have entered into evidence, even though it demolished their theory that the original FBI investigations into the coziness between the Trump campaign and Russia was improperly begun. Although procedural errors were found on the part of the FBI, the IG Investigation concluded that the investigation was properly begun, employed no “spies” against Trump, and did not illegally wiretap the Trump Campaign at the behest of President Obama or anyone else.
Of course the truth did not matter to the Republicans, who were already too heavily invested to back down from their promotion of the Russian Intelligence narrative being pushed by Trump and Giuliani, and they carried on as if the IG report confirmed their insane claims, and their shrieking denials and crocodile tears humiliated not only themselves, but the nation they represent.
Tuesday showed us that these hysteria-prone Republican Representatives were merely towing the official party line when Attorney General Willian Barr announced that he doubted his own Inspector General’s report and would keep on ordering investigations into the investigations of the investigations until one of them hands him the “evidence” of imaginary crimes that the last investigation failed to find.
So too did President Trump completely ignore the contents to the IG Report when he lashed out at “current FBI Director” Christopher Wray because he actually read the IG report instead of going along with Trump’s lies about it, effectively numbering his own days on the job by almost certainly becoming the third FBI Director to be fired by Trump.
Tuesday was also when Trump was forced to pay $2 million to eight charities as part of a settlement in which he admitted misusing funds raised by the now-defunct (by court order) Trump Foundation to promote his political campaign and pay off business debts. A federal judge also issued a permanent injunction barring his attempt to transfer $3.6 billion in military construction funds to build his imaginary. So much for the “national emergency” he declared to justify looting military funds.
Naturally, this called for a soothing MAGA really, this one in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where he mocked the “stupid impeachment” and called it “Impeachment Lite,” since there were only two crimes mentioned in the Articles of Impeachment; Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress.
On Wednesday, perhaps out of disappointment that the number of charges was a very un-Trumpian small number, the President began calling for a long Senate trial with lots of witnesses to corroborate that his phone call to Zelinskiy was “perfect” and that “the real culprits were the Bidens.” Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is leaning towards a fast acquittal without giving Trump or his insufferable lackeys a chance to open their big yaps and forcing the Senate to convict and remove a president crazy enough to sign anything they put on front of him as long as it’s in a fancy leather binder.
The rest of the Senate, however, did not help McConnell’s case when they had the Inspector General of the Justice Department testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee that day in an attempt to make the Giuliani/Trump/Russia narrative sound real. Unfortunately for Senator Lindsey Graham and company, Inspector General Michael Horowitz is an old school fuddy-duddy unwilling to embrace delusion and false criminal accusations as either evidence or public policy, no matter how much the President lied about his report, or how ardently the Senators attempted to get him to lie his ass off like a good Republican.
Once again Trump’s military commanders mentioned the unpleasant truth about Trump’s disastrous handling of his abrupt pullout from Syria when the Pentagon identified the armed forces of Turkey and Russia as the biggest threat to US troops in Syria. You know, the U.S. armored troops that Trump was forced to remobilize in the face of Turkish genocide against our Kurdish allies and Russia’s power grab in the region? Yeah, those American soldiers, the ones suddenly having their roles as peacekeepers turned into that of active combatants deployed against any number of potential hostile forces, including those of a NATO ally.
And speaking of screwing up the Middle East, Trump signed an executive order that makes being a Jew its own nationality to be included in the protections of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, supposedly as a tool to combat anti-Semitism, but in reality to be used as a blunt instrument to suppress college campus protests against the policies of Israel in general and Benjamin Netanyahu in particular, a close Trump ally and fellow wannabe dictator. The potential for abuse implied by this definition of a religion as a nationality had many informed observers worried, with one prominent Rabbi voicing concerns that this action was “the first step towards forcing Jews to wear Yellow Stars on their clothing.”
Then Time Magazine picked 16 year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg as their Person of The Year, unleashing Trump’s very worst instincts and personality traits (as if they could possibly get any worse) as he viciously lashed out at this little girl with Asperger’s Syndrome who captured the world’s hearts and minds, rendering his wife’s phony anti-bullying campaign even more ridiculous than it already was.
In the midst of all this chaos, laws were actually passed and signed as Trump’s Mexico-Canada trade agreement was signed into law (basically identical to the existing NAFTA deal with some commas moved around and Trump’s name affixed to it in place of President Clinton’s), and an agreement on a Federal budget was reached, with even a provision for starting up Trump’s beloved boondoggle that is not even it the preliminary planning stages, Space Force.
Thursday featured a 14-hour temper tantrum by House Republicans doing their best to outdo one another in sheer assholery, trying without any success to use the final Judiciary Committee Hearing on Impeachment to build their phony case against the Biden family and putting forth one crazy rationale after another for Trump’s crimes, eventually forcing Chairman Nadler to postpone the final vote on the Articles of Impeachment until the next day, fittingly enough Friday the 13th and the beginning of Week #153, and costing them all the chance the attend the Annual Congressional Ball at the White House and bask in the glory of Melania’s spectacular Christmas decorations.
Then another Inspector General made news when the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Defense announced that it will investigate a $400 million contract for border wall construction awarded to a North Dakota company after President Trump privately pushed the deal, saying said company “did not meet the operational requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its prototype project came in late and over budget.” File this one with the hundreds of other Trump crimes and scandals destined to slip though the cracks.
Trump ended his week by once again mocking Greta Thunberg for being Time’s Person of the Year with this schoolgirl-style Tweet: “So ridiculous! Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!” This wise young lady then threw him some wicked shade by changing her Twitter bio to: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”
All in all, it was nice having the last word of a Trump week come from a delightful person for a change. At this point in our interminable national nightmare, we will take our joy wherever it can be found.