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General Interest, Politics, Trump Week in Review

WEEK #158 OF THE TRUMP ERA IN REVIEW, FRIDAY, 1/17/20 TO THURSDAY, 1/23/20


Quote of The Week: “If you don’t know, now you know.” ~Representative Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, channeling Biggie Smalls

Week #158 of the Trump Era marked not only the introduction of Hip Hop poetry into significant history as well as the Permanent Senate Record on Wednesday, but the week kicked off on Friday marking second day of the Senate trial to remove President Donald J. Trump from office, and… oh yeah, the third Anniversary of his presidency, beating the over/under odds for being impeached by 7 to 10 months, depending on the bookie.

As an anniversary gift to himself, Trump hired 2 famous lawyers to join his defense team for the upcoming trial, rounding out his “TV-Ready Team.” The new legal luminaries are Professional Faux Outraged Puritan, Kenneth Starr of Clinton Impeachment fame, and renowned media whore Alan Dershowitz, who rode Johnny Cochran’s coattails to OJ Simpson acquittal fame, with both Starr and Dershowitz teaming up to get Jeffrey Epstein off the hook with a slap on the wrist for raping children in Florida a dozen years ago, before he went on to make national headlines again by raping a hell of a lot more children over the next decade before conveniently killing himself in Federal custody this past Fall.

The fact that both Dershowitz and Trump were friends and frequent guests of Jeffry Epstein at his “debutante balls” for years will no doubt serve as a welcome bonding opportunity for attorney and client, perhaps sharing their mutual pride in having had such a profound influence on so many young lives.

Speaking of damaging young lives, Trump led off his own workweek by rolling back the Federal nutritional requirements for (!) school lunches on Friday, in what is seen as a victory for high-profit, low-nutrition junk food conglomerates, and a severe blow to the health and learning abilities of tens of millions of our nation’s youngest children.

“They know the kids in their area best” was the President’s lame excuse, as if human children had different nutritional requirements in different localities, as different as rabbits from goats. These children’s nutritional loss and the resulting poor grades leading to millions of diminished futures are well worth it, however, since the name “Obama” was attached to the healthy nutritional rules, and just had to go. Okay it was Michelle Obama’s name, but still… an obsession is an obsession.

Saturday found Trump going full Hamlet. No, not contemplating ending it all, more’s the pity, but aimlessly repeating “Why are they doing this to me?” over and over to anyone within earshot, seemingly disoriented and repeatedly claiming he had no idea why he was being impeached. Then he did a 180 from the Woe-Is-Me mode and promoted his “high profile, TV-Ready legal team that can perform on television,” like it was next week’s episode of his Reality Show, all at once rendering frivolous this most somber and perilous of governmental functions.

Yeah, we kind of get it, Mr. President, television is your go-to reference to everything that exists, the only thing that makes something “real” to you. Didn’t happen if it wasn’t on TV! Yeah, we get that about you, but our introduction to your TV Ready Team didn’t exactly invite favorable comparisons to Clarence Darrow, Johnny Cochran, or even the fictional Atticus Finch.  

Their official reply in the name of the President to the Articles of Impeachment, creatively titled “The Answer of President Donald J. Trump,” was basically a shrieking mess sounding more like Trump’s whining complaints translated into slightly better English and labeled a legal brief. 

Sure Trump is unhinged (what else is new?), but one can’t help but question his attorneys’ legal strategy to mimic their client’s unhinged rage rather than write a proper legal brief with point-by-point denials of the criminal charges in calm and measured legal language, laying off the hysterics. A clever trick? One supposes that’s why they make the big money, with at least one of them reportedly charging Uncle Sam $10,000 per hour.

On Sunday, the ubiquitous Lev Parnas, with a growing reputation as the Zelig of Republican politics, gave the House Intelligence Committee numerous audio and video recordings and photographs that include both Trump and Giuliani, which House members will seek to introduce into evidence in the Senate trial, as well as documents being withheld from Congress by the intelligence community regarding the issue of Ukraine  (“the NSA in particular”), a doubtful quest considering that Mitch McConnell vowed to acquit Trump weeks before the trial began and is now contriving to prevent any witnesses or evidence from being introduced.

Towards that end, McConnell had the Senate limit the press coverage of Trump’s trial to the in-house C-Span cameras, and banning reporters in the gallery any access to their phones and electronic devices, which, to his dismay, did not in any way hamper its live broadcast on countless TV stations nationwide and globally. 

On Monday we were also treated to Professor Dershowitz’s advanced legal opinion that “Abuse of power is not impeachable,” and not even necessarily a crime, and then, no doubt rehearsing for his upcoming defense of the indefensible, he tried his deft hand at explaining away his earlier advanced legal opinions regarding the Clinton impeachment 20 years ago to curious reporters who had the nerve to go through the archives to dig up his old opinions that sound to the untrained ear to be the exact opposite of his new opinions. To which he patiently replied that if you look real close they are in reality the same, only with rainbow sprinkles this time. His furrowed brow and distracted and dismissive air sealed the deal, at least to the great professor’s satisfaction, if no else’s.

That was the day that Trump’s new National Security Council’s Russia expert, Andrew Peek, was placed on administrative leave indefinitely after being marched out of the White House under armed guard pending “a security-related investigation,” right before he was scheduled to accompany Trump to Davos World Economic Forum on Monday night, a curious event yet to be officially explained.

Monday was Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday that Trump, as always, managed to make all about himself with cheesy racial pandering and his usual barrage of cheap boasting (lying). That was the day his Dream Team of lawyers presented the Senate with their 111-page brief defending Trump, angry in tone and not exactly written in textbook legalese, just like their client. Then McConnell revealed that he would unveil the rules for the trial that was beginning the very next day… just as soon as he damned well pleased.

On that note, Trump flew off to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum to make a nuisance of himself in front of his fellow Heads of State and influential business leaders, as the country hunkered down to binge watch the TV marathon of only the third Senate Impeachment Trial in our nation’s history the next day. 

Good as their word, the Senate Trial began at the crack of 1PM, with the House Managers spending hours arguing amendments to allow witnesses and evidence to be introduced just like a real trial, and being turned down every time, alternating with the President’s team responding, taking up over 12 hours before wrapping up about 2AM.

TV Ready lead attorney Jay Sekulow proved himself to be a credit to Trump with 4 blatant lies right off the bat, claiming (1) the House denied the President the right to call witnesses (he refused to do so), (2) to cross examine witnesses (Republican Counsel Steve Castor questioned them in his defense for hours), (3) to review evidence (Trump was the one who ordered all evidence withheld) or (4) to appear in person (he was invited repeatedly but refused.)

And speaking of lying your ass off, Trump was in Davos doing just that, with gusto, alienating world leaders, announcing he would expand his travel ban, undermining and maligning NATO again, and dismissing his Senate trial as a hoax. You know, his usual completely repulsive song and dance schtick that is usually guaranteed to capture every headline on the planet. Not this time.

Trump was completely upstaged this week, sadly, not only by the coverage of his trial but his new and hated nemesis, Greta Thunberg, the 17 year-old conscience of the planet. As boorish as he acted, as crazy as his lies were, no matter who he insulted or which longtime European allies he threatened with tariffs, Trump-could not buy a headline.

Overshadowed by Greta again at yet another important international forum and playing second-banana to Congressmen exposing his criminal schemes, Trump basically whined about young people shitting all over his economic progress by refusing to shut up about things like pollution and the resulting climate change that is certain to outlast any spikes or dips in material prosperity. You know, those billions of little bigmouths who will have to live and raise their families on a compromised planet long after Trump is but a bad memory.

Indeed, Trump touted his Brave New Deregulated World at Davos, saying he had “unshackled the American economy,” which was already booming at a record pace when he was sworn in 3 years ago. He took credit for “allowing” the USA to build profitable new energy businesses and become energy independent (something that occurred during Obama’s second term), no longer needing to rely what he labeled as “hostile countries,” presumably those “shithole countries” like Iran. Or perhaps Syria, of which he recently boasted “I kept the oil.”

Unwittingly, Trump encapsulated in those 4 words, “I kept the oil,” the main reason for almost every war since the Industrial Revolution mechanized warfare into mutual slaughter on an ever-grander scale.

On Wednesday, with the question of introducing evidence and calling witnesses tabled until the case was presented, the Prosecution presented their case with a master opening statement, where the Impeachment Managers, led off by Congressman Schiff, presented a gripping timeline narrative of the entire Ukraine scheme, its unravelling, and the frantic coverup and obstruction of justice that followed in the wake of the exposure of a criminal enterprise directed by the President of the United States.

The case that unfolded in world headlines and culminated in Trump’s impeachment was now being tried, not in a court of law, but in the Untied States Senate, before 100 jurors (who get to make the rules) and one judge, who so far has been little more than a timekeeper and whose only rulings so far have been to approve Mitch McConnell’s bathroom breaks and mealtime schedules. One hopes he is reminding some of the more elderly Senators to take their meds on schedule.

In other news, also rendered obscure by the Senate trial, we learned that the infamous hacking of the cell phone of Trump’s enemy, Jeff Bezos, that led to sensational headlines and Bezos’ own divorce, had been conducted personally by Trump’s pal and the guy in charge of Saudi Arabia now, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It seems that Prince Bone Saw was miffed with the Bezos-owned Washington Post for publishing truthful things about Saudi Arabia (a capital crime in the Kingdom), and felt the need to remind Bezos and the Washington Post exactly who chopped one of their reporters into tiny little pieces.

In Switzerland, in an attempt to wrest at least some headlines away from his Senate trial, Trump needed to be especially irritating. Challenge accepted. The President’s daughter Ivanka was somehow elevated in stature from White House Window Dressing (and the subject of endless unsavory speculation) to powerful trade envoy sitting down as an equal with experienced foreign trade envoys and world class business representatives, her presence an insult to the serious minds gathered there, and a clear signal to America’s counterparts that we are no longer a serious player on the international stage.

What pushed the needle into the red on the Irritation Meter, however, was another attack on American soldiers by their own Commander-in-Chief with his callous dismissal of the many injuries sustained by US troops during the Iranian rocket attack following Trump’s killing of their popular General and #2 man, Qassim Suleimani. You know, the attack where his first response was an “All is Well!” Tweet from Trump while rockets were still landing, followed by insisting we had sustained no casualties. Well, it turns out that 11 soldiers were med-evacked to hospitals for brain concussions.

Trump’s’ response? “I heard they had headaches, and no, I don’t consider them very serious injuries, relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.” Not only did that outrage millions of people, but seems curious coming from a man who so many people are convinced was dropped on his head as a baby, and as such would be empathetic to our soldier’s suffering. 

For good measure he assured the world that the United States has the deadly Chinese coronavirus “totally under control” and there are “no worries of a pandemic,” at about the same time as China expanded its quarantine to about 25 million people following a regional outbreak and scores of deaths. Then, in a last-ditch attempt to stir up controversy, he announced be would be the first President ever to address an anti-abortion rally, scheduled for Friday in Washington, DC.

Still, neither world events nor Donald Trump could not eclipse the Senate Trial for media coverage as the Impeachment Managers meticulous opening statements continued all through Wednesday right through Prime Time, earning the coveted TV ratings that obsess Trump. 

But Trump being Trump, he finally had one of his signature breakthrough media moments on his final day at the Davos Summit when he unleashed a diatribe about Intellectual Property before launching into what was (once again, even for him) a jaw-dropping exposure of an ignorance so vast and uncharted that it is frightening to contemplate that this is the President of the United Sates not knowing very much. About anything.

Things like “we must protect our geniuses,” (okay fair enough), and specifically (and here’s where the kayak overturns) “the inventor of lightbulbs and the wheel,” which means either he thinks (a) Thomas Edison is still alive or (b) he has been around since 3500 BCE, a “discuss amongst yourselves” talking point if ever there was one. Then he expounded on Elon Musk, the electric car and rocket guy, pointing out the obvious with the Chauncey Gardiner-esque “Elon Musk is very good at rockets.” Wellokaythen! Your handbag-designer daughter ought to be just the person to negotiate on behalf of geniuses and innovators and the complexities of their intellectual property.

That fell flat, so Trump again raised the bar and lavishly praised Rudy Giuliani, the second-most mentioned name in Trump’s trial, as “New York’s Greatest Mayor,” which is debatable, before dropping this unintentional revelation about America’s Night Mayor: “Nobody knows corruption like Rudy!” (more than amply borne out in the Impeachment Managers’ Ukraine narrative and as bewildering in its transparency and incompetence as it is infuriating). 

Commenting from Europe on his trial back home, he called his political opponents “sleazebags,” the trial “a hoax,” and the investigation that led to the trial “a witch-hunt,” then made the astounding claim that (!!) “the 9/11 terrorists had better trials than me.” Few mentioned that every one of the 9/11 hijackers died in a burning instant on September 11, 2001, along with 3,000 victims, and that 9/11 is not a political football to be trotted out and thrown around, something generally considered disrespectful to the memories of the fallen (except by Giuliani, who made his fortune trading on the heroism and sacrifice of better people.). A man who would do such a thing just might dismiss the brain injuries of soldiers under his command… ohwait!

What did not go unnoticed, however, was Trump’s announcing his plans to “deal with” (eviscerate) Social Security and Medicare by the end of this year, calling those worker-funded institutions “entitlements,” when they are no such thing. American workers pay for these essential programs out of every paycheck they earn, and none of them is on board with “taking America back” to a time when senior citizens were routinely impoverished, sickly and neglected, cast aside like so many worn out tools and a burden to their families.

In the name of looting our hard-earned funds, Trump and his cronies would eliminate the prosperous citizen senior demographic from American society, a major engine driving the American economy, providing jobs and hard income to millions in every age group across a broad spectrum in all 50 states. But if Trump and McConnell (something that has been on Old Mitch’s bucket list for decades) are successful in their quest, at least our seniors can die happy knowing that America’s wealthy will be sure to Trickle Down the dough they stole from them to their great great grandchildren.

You know, “when the time is right,” that future Tuesday when Popeye’s pal Wimpy promises to pay for today’s hamburger, and when Lucy Van Pelt swears that this time, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die, she will hold the football for Charlie Brown to kick through the goalposts of life.

Then to really shove it up the business end of Congress, Trump loudly gloated to the press about how they will never convict him because he was withholding evidence and witness testimony, saying (!) “We have all the material and they don’t!”

That’s like a serial murder suspect bragging about how good he is at hiding bodies, but saying no one is allowed to see the list of their locations that he taped to his refrigerator door, so there! He’s certainly not making Mitch McConnell’s mission to acquit him at all costs any easier by boasting about obstructing Congress during his trial for obstructing Congress.

Meanwhile, with Friday scheduled to be the final day of the House Managers’ opening arguments, America has yet to hear the TV-Ready Dream Team’s opening arguments in defense of President Donald J. Trump, the contents of which we can only guess, and are scheduled to begin on Saturday during a short session.

There is one thing, however, of which we can be fairly certain: None of them will quote Biggie Smalls.

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