WEEK # 155 of the Trump Era just might be the week Trump sets the world on fire, or at least a large portion of it. Stuck in impeachment limbo and holed-up in his Winter White House at Mar A Lago for the Holidays, the combination of too much time on his hands, too much pent up anger, and too little to do but whine about everything being unfair and everyone being mean to him, Trump blew a gasket when confronted with a real crisis that nasty Tweets and vicious insults could not solve.
Unfortunately for the world, the President of the United States has at his disposal a frightening array of lethal options to vent his rage besides Twitter and Fox News, and vent it he did, to the point where the week ended with hasty and thoughtless acts of war that provided the President with one of his patented Reality Show Cliffhangers to end all cliffhangers, whether or not the next day would find us in another costly and lethal war in the Middle East.
The Week began quietly enough (for The Trump Era, anyway). It was Friday, 2 days after Christmas, Congress still not in session for the Holidays and Trump passing the downtime at Mar A Lago engaged in his usual presidential pursuits, golfing, whining and lying.
The government released a Captain Obvious Report on the effects of Trump’s Trade War tariffs on the American people that day, buried neatly in the quiet news cycle of a holiday weekend, detailing how his tariffs are not only costing American consumers billions in price hikes for material goods, but the tariffs are costing American jobs as well. Turns out China is paying the same amount in tariffs that Mexico is chipping in for the wall.
Trump found time between rounds of golf on Saturday to retweet the name of the alleged Whistleblower, along with other inappropriate re-tweets which Twitter hid from public view “due to a glitch.” The alleged whistleblower Tweet was soon deleted from Trump’s Twitter account, but not before we learned that this person lives with a large 24/7 armed security detail and an FBI escort to and from work. The target on this person’s back is sort of why the Whistleblower Law was written the way it was written, to protect the lives of those who expose crimes and corruption, and the lives of their families. The fact that it is The President of The United States violating the privacy and endangering the life of a Whistleblower is at least worth passing mention.
Trump told off New York and California good, through Official Presidential Channels (Twitter), telling them that there are Federal funds available to help with homelessness, but only if they do him a favor, though, the quid pro quo of “calling politely” to ask for homeless aid. Perhaps that is where Puerto Rico went wrong, by failing to call politely to ask for the $10 billion in disaster aid approved by Congress. Trump also found the time for a phone chat Vladimir Putin that day, which was kept secret by the Administration until the Kremlin announced it, and the official Russian TV station mentioned once again how Trump is “our agent.”
Then the unthinkable happened on Saturday night in Monsey, New York, where a gruesome machete attack on a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home severely injured 5 people before the deranged attacker fled to NYC and was arrested after he crossed the George Washington Bridge into Harlem. Instead of the sensational anti-Semitic hate crime most people saw, Trump’s Acting Director of Homeland Security, Ken Cuccinelli, turned it into an immigration thing because (!) the father of the America-born attacker “was an illegal immigrant,” who obviously did not teach his son American values. He did not specify which country’s values teach their children that mass murder is an option, but his statements were a sufficiently disrespectful distraction from one more hate-fueled mass attack in Trump’s America.
Sunday found Trump unloading a typical Tweet Storm, most notably this love note to his home State: “So sad to see that New York City and State are falling apart. All they want to do is investigate to make me hate them even more than I should. Governor Cuomo has lost control, and lost his mind. Very bad for the homeless and all!”
So much for give my regards to Broadway.
Later that day, the President unleashed an entirely different kind of storm when he okayed 5 air raids on Syrian positions, in retaliation for the death of an America contractor at the hands of Iranian-backed militias. Twenty-six militia fighters were killed in the air raids, with the usual threats of retaliation, and retaliation for any retaliation, etc, etc.
Monday found Trump praising the Stock Market just weeks after dismissing it as meaningless, while praising a job market so robust that working couples are routinely splitting 3 and 4 low-paying jobs just to remain desperate. But at least we do share that warm feeling of knowing that wealthy investors are getting so rich so fast that something is surely bound to shake loose and trickle down any day now. After all, who can carry all that gold and not spill some on the floor?
We also learned on Monday that the CIA and other Intelligence agencies are abandoning parts of Africa in a shift of priorities that leaves a power vacuum for extremists and/or China and Russia to fill, and in more Bad Foreign Policy News, Kim John Un announced that North Korea is “no longer bound by Nuclear moratorium” and “will unveil a new strategic weapon in the near future.” Kim has played Trump like a bongo for 3 years, attaining global statesman status thanks to Trump, and North Korea is now officially a serious international problem.
Unable to accept that Kim fell out of love with him, Trump responded to this news by saying that Kim really meant the exact opposite of what he said, and that “he is a man of his word.” Problem is, Kim is a man of his word. You know, the words that he keeps telling anyone who will listen over and over again that he will keep on building nuclear weapons and building more powerful rockets until North Korea is a global threat. Talk about your nasty breakups…
Did somebody say retaliation? On Tuesday the American Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq was attacked and besieged by (yes, you guessed it!) several Iranian-backed militias. The reception building was burned down and 100 US Marines were dispatched to the Embassy to protect Anerican personnel and assets, with 1,000 more US troops deployed to the region.
In a different sort of retaliation, one of Rudy Giuliani’s shady associates in the Ukraine fiasco that got Trump impeached, Lev Parnas, asked for permission to turn over more documents to Congress, to go with the previous ducuments he has already provided. Problem is, the documents and tapes are now seized evidence in the criminal case against Parnas and in the possession of Bill Barr’s Justice Department. Mr. Parnas had to fire one of his lawyers for lack of money, and is apparently a man who does not take kindly to being the one left twisting in the wind while his criminal accomplices attend State Dinners in tuxedos like he used to do.
Trump’s response to the crisis was swift and decisive. He played another round of golf and claimed be would be signing “a China Trade Deal” on January 15th, a surprise to everyone involved in the negotiations, especially the Chinese. Then Trump rang in the New Year in style at Mar A Lago, while Trump Winery used to change in the calendar to finally fire its many undocumented workers as long-promised, but only after they had completed the hard manual labor for the season.
On Wednesday Trump woke to a New Year, and 2 new crises still simmering in the Middle East and North Korea. This of course called for Golf, Twitter and dire threats to Iran, Democrats and (!) crooked cops, bitter complaints about the gross unfairness of all things to Donald Trump, and the lack of gratitude for all the greatness he has bestowed on an America that Barack Obama had turned into a shithole country. Luckily, the Iranian militia besieging the Baghdad Embassy dispersed and left the area on New Year’s Day with no loss of life on either side, melting away to fight another day.
The last day of the week began with declassified material from the Departments of Justice, Defense and the Office of Management and Budget being released to the public, confirming that it was Trump himself who directed the withholding of military aid to Ukraine until they met his demand to open a criminal investigation into his main political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.
There were also some new documents released from the Mueller Report, details of how and why Trump fired James Comey, how Paul Manafort used (!!) TV host Sean Hannity as a backchannel to Trump, how Trump himself actively sought the infamous 30,000 Hillary Clinton e-mails stolen by Russia, and ignored advice from the lawyer for the National Security Council not to break the law.
Lost in the momentous news which would come later in the day was 200 Republicans in Congress petitioning the Supreme Court as “A Friend of the Court” (with friends like these…) to reopen Roe v Wade and overturn it, effectively outlawing abortion in America. Wiser heads decided not to call it the Wire Hanger Petition.
And speaking of retaliation against acts of retaliation, Trump ordered an airstrike on the Baghdad Airport that killed the second most powerful man in Iran, General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guard and Ayatollah Khamenei’s right hand man. This is a huge deal in Iran, where Soleimani was a popular and beloved public figure, and the howls for the upcoming revenge for revenge are loud and menacing, and no one is quite sure if we are in a brand new war with Iran or not.
The week ends with American combat troops on crowded transport planes flying off to “parts unknown” as the world holds it breath while an unstable American Present has blundered into a fatal confrontation with an unstable country, with a potential outcome that might spark a catastrophic war spreading across the entire Middle East. As Reality Show cliffhangers go, this is the one with the fewest possible happy endings.