Quote of The Week: “A domestic political errand.” – Dr. Fiona Hill
Quote #2 of the Week: “Hah!” – Coronavirus.
Turns out that Dr. Hill repeated this quote from her impeachment hearing testimony for a TV interviewer, not in reference to Rudy Giuliani’s inept bagman act that got Trump impeached, but to his monstrously callous and ineffective response to an exploding deadly pandemic, delaying our ability to respond and limit the contagion (already crippled when he strip-mined the government’s pandemic response team 2 years earlier) and costing American lives, lives sacrificed to a President’s insatiable ego. He spent the entire week lying about the deadly Covid-19 virus, purposely keeping life-saving information from the public, trying to downplay the danger and worrying about how this would (!) make him look.
Week #165 of The Tump Era continues to highlight the Trump Administration’s one unifying theme: Personal Gain. From the moment Trump descended the escalator in Trump Tower it was The Me Show, in what most observers at the time saw as a marketing exercise to boost the flagging Trump brand. There is no downside to running for President of the United States, something that has made household names of the obscure, and bestowed political superstar status on famous also-rans. Right off the bat Trump sought and gratefully received Russian help to cheat his way to winning the election, a strategy so appealing he is repeating it for the 2020 Election, and he even added the twist of trying unsuccessfully to enlist Ukraine in his scam. The Me Show never ends.
Treating a deadly pandemic like a political problem found him firing his Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney via Twitter on Friday, claiming that (!) “the virus was getting beyond Mick,” and appointing one Mark Meadows to replace him, another low-information incompetent like Mulvaney but, unlike Mulvaney, one whose main character traits are rage, deceit and a rabid loyalty to Trump, someone far more likely to defend even the President’s most absurdly false statements and most vicious insults.
The Coronavirus responded to Trump’s attempt to sweep it under the rug by killing a dozen more Americans and infecting uncounted thousands.
The reason why the number of people infected is “uncounted” is because no one who is not wealthy or well-connected can get tested, even as the President of the United States insisted over and over again that testing is available (and free) to anyone who requests it, and that all incoming airline passengers at every American airport were being tested for the virus, and that a vaccine would be produced shortly, all barefaced lies.
America, despite ample warning, was completely unprepared thanks to Trump, and remains unprepared thanks to Trump, no matter how many Chiefs of Staff he fires or foreign countries he blames, and he is literally killing people and, ironically, destroying the economy he tried so desperately to save at the expense of human life. By week’s end, all his lies would come home to roost as every American life would be disrupted, with no American citizen feeling safe, not only from this easily-spread virus, but from its own government, a government that wasted valuable weeks by deliberately keeping crucial information from its own people while spreading a fatally false narrative.
Speaking of purposely endangering lives to protect a blatant lie, a union representing Federal Asylum Officers said on Friday that a Trump administration policy that diverts migrants at the southwestern border to Guatemala unlawfully sends vulnerable people to a country “in which their lives and freedom are directly threatened.” Again, speaking of false narratives, a federal judge sharply criticized Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the Mueller Report, saying that Mr. Barr put forward a “distorted and misleading account of its findings” and “lacked credibility on the topic,” in what turned out to be a continuing pattern of Barr defending Trump’s lies and crimes with the full weight of the United States Department of Justice.
Barr’s disemboweling of the Justice Department caught on in the Senate, where on Saturday Mitt Romney abandoned his brief experiment with having a backbone by signing on to Senator Ron Johnson’s plan for issuing a subpoena to Hunter Biden for the purpose of holding Senate hearings in a desperate attempt to resuscitate Giuliani’s completely debunked (and universally ridiculed) Ukrainian conspiracy fantasy.
As one US State after another gave up on any leadership from the Federal Government on the Coronavirus emergency by declaring a State of Emergency, a cruise ship off the coast of California became the focal point of Trump’s failed attempt to shove the Corona Genie back in the bottle. The ship was quarantined and refused permission to dock, with thousands of passengers and crew on board, including 20 reported cases of Covid-19. Trump insisted that they all remain on the ship indefinitely so as “not to increase the numbers” of cases in the USA, as if in Trump’s mind a ship full of Americans sailing in circles off our own coastline is a foreign country, and that “higher numbers” of sick people are the exact opposite of higher numbers for TV Ratings, his only measure of personal success. California finally took matters into its own hands and allowed the ship to dock and the people to debark, forcing the Federal government’s hand when it had to find quarantine space for them in military bases across the USA.
Also on Saturday, we were treated to another installment of The Further Adventures of Erik Prince, brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Trump administration covert operative, and the corporate mercenary CEO who rents armies to tyrants, when it was revealed he has been hiring former spies to infiltrate American political organizations for the purpose of benefitting Donald Trump’s election campaign by gathering damaging information or, in the absence of any juicy scandals, creating havoc within the ranks of the opposition.
Sunday found First Lady Melania Trump defending her plans to build a (!) “White House Tennis Pavilion” in the midst of a worldwide pandemic that will take every spare penny to defeat, and regaled the assembled press corp with her best Marie Antoinette impersonation, while her husband was busy censoring the administration’s health crisis report by striking the language advising senior citizens to avoid flying.
Indeed, every instance where the President expounded on this crisis only deepened the peril to America and the perception of Trump as a blithering idiot who is a clear and present danger to everyone and everything in his vicinity. Once again he mentioned his dead uncle being a renowned scientist who somehow automatically transferred his knowledge to his nephew. “Maybe I have a natural ability,” he mused at one point, going off on a tangent that perhaps he should have pursued a career in science (a topic he has spent his entire presidency denying), then predicted “a miracle” to dispel the danger, even saying, for some unfathomable reason, that (!) “the tests are beautiful.”
Even as he announced plans to spend the next 2 weeks fiddling in his New Jersey golf resort while America burns, global markets collapsed, forcing the New York State Stock Exchange to suspend trading after recording a 7% drop in an hour, resuming only later in the day. Trump’s response was to describe his Administration’s Coronavirus response as (the incomprehensibly absurd) “almost as perfect as the Ukraine phone call,” a reminder of Presidential malfeasance no one needed at a time when America needs a focused and realistic President the most.
Tuesday found the specter of former Vice President Joe Biden growing in Trump’s review mirror as he soundly defeated Senator Bernie Sanders in that day’s multiple-state primaries to determine who will get to face Trump in November’s election. Trump’s plans for disgracing Biden with his Ukraine frame-up blew up his face with Biden’s string of primary victories, so Trump was reduced to feebly babbling on about his non-response to the existential crisis of coronavirus and his nonexistent plans for the many different and unpleasant scenarios that might unfold, saying only “we have been looking at many contingencies. Big numbers, small numbers…”
Both remaining Democratic candidates agreed to cancel their upcoming rallies because of the Covid-19 outbreak and to hold their upcoming debate with no audience in attendance, then challenging Trump to do the same with his MAGA rallies and finally admit that reality does indeed apply to the President and his loyal base of Deporables. Unwilling to give up his only remaining safe space where no one questions his insane lies, Trump refused to consider the possibility.
On Wednesday, just as Trump was touting a plan to defeat climate change by evicting home owners who live too close to the rising seas, the World Health Organization put a damper on his announcement by declaring the Coronavirus to be a worldwide pandemic. We also learned that Trump insisted that all meetings of the nation’s public health organizations regarding our nation’s response to the pandemic be kept secret from the American people, mandating that only those individuals with Top Secret Security Clearances could participate, a recklessly dangerous approach to public safety.
Trump’s loyal GOP Senate was no help either when they voted to overturn Secretary of Education DeVos’ policy of making it harder to get student loans forgiven, and Senator Johnson gave up the idea of subpoenaing the Biden family indefinitely, perhaps out of an abundance of caution regarding being made to look ridiculous and getting laughed out of office along with Trump this November.
Now imagine Trump with no rallies as the White House reluctant agreed to suspend his MAGA campaign rallies for the duration of the crisis. With so much stressful bad news piling up, Trump decided to act decisively to refocus the nation’s attention to the only place where it belongs, on Donald John Trump. Towards that end, Trump ordered 5 airstrikes at Iranian-backed militias inside Iraq, risking a new and widespread foreign war in order to distract from his mountain of domestic failures.
Well, Thursday brought an abrupt halt to all of that when Trump’s lies and fantasies were roundly rejected as America’s States, municipalities and private enterprises cancelled parades, shows, sporting events, conventions and any gathering of 250 or more people. 30 States of the Union declared a State of Emergency and mobilized their own resources and instituted rules to fight the pandemic.
Every American was urged to practice something called “social distancing” and to avoid leaving their homes unnecessarily. Trump instituted a useless travel ban from all countries of Europe except for the United Kingdom, substituting his petty grudges against the European Union for effective action against a common enemy.
Negotiations with Congress over a proper virus response bill were undertaken, with Trump calling for a $1.5 trillion bailout of our wealthiest corporations, while Congressional leaders were foolishly wondering what about Joe and Jane Average (we’re screwed, by the way). Businesses all over the country are failing, consumers are panic-hoarding as basic necessities disappear from store shelves, schools are closing, jobs are being lost rapidly, and house-bound Americans with very little to do won’t even have baseball to keep them company as we embark on the next dangerous phase of this spreading contagion.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of Week #165 of the Trump Era is that the renowned immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, has not been fired by Trump yet for reckless truth-telling. Doctor Fauci has been the Trump Administration’s lone voice of truth, reason and hard factual information, a voice that finally convinced a reluctant Administration to finally deal in reality.
Trump himself has been exposed to coronavirus due to personal contact with multiple individuals who have the virus, but refuses to be tested, as has Vice President Pence. While many prominent American politicians, celebrities and world leaders have already responsibly gone into quaratine, Trump remains resistant to reality to the last, even while being forced to admit that this deadly pandemic was really not a Democratic hoax designed to “get him” after all, but a real and dangerous threat to mankind, even the American portion of it.
In what has accidentally become a case study in how to completely shut down human society, Trump is finally contemplating declaring a National Emergency and, for the first time in 3 years, finally doing what normal people do when confronted by hard facts. At least that is the hope, but never forget that this is Donald Trump we are talking about, not a reasonable or responsible person.