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General Interest, Politics, Trump Week in Review

WEEK #171 OF THE TRUMP ERA IN REVIEW, FRIDAY, 4/17/20 TO THURSDAY, 4/23/20

Week #172 of The Trump Era leaves Americans with a difficult choice, on top of all our other troubles in the midst of a traumatic plague that has ground America to a screeching halt while we’re tucked into our houses like 330 million Barbies & Kens. The quandary was deciding what was the craziest thing Trump did all week, inciting armed insurrection against State governments, or encouraging people to drink stuff we keep under the kitchen sink. Tantalizing choice.

Quote of the Week: “The committee found no reason to dispute the intelligence community’s conclusions.” – Senate Intelligence Committee Report confirming the obvious.

Released on Tuesday, the Senate Report in question was the result of a 3 year-long investigation into every American Intelligence Agency as to why they all came to the same conclusion about the 2016 Election; that Russia had aggressively and methodically interfered with our election in order to get Trump elected. “Because it is true” is their conclusion. In a rare unanimous agreement by every Senator on the Committee, what was already well known was now part of the Congressional record.

But that was a hundred Trump scandals ago, yesterday’s papers for all anyone cares, and for those who thought stealing an election with Russia’s help was the worst thing Trump could ever do, the Covid-19 Pandemic is Trump’s “hold my beer” moment. As effective leaders emerged to meet this crisis from every corner of the country but Washington DC, Trump has shrunken to Lilliputian dimensions, a crazy, desperate imp throwing wrenches in the machinery of government.

Faced with the first truly dangerous crisis of this Presidency, the Trump Administration’s response has been chaotic at the very top, with the President himself being a counterproductive liability to the effort to contain the most easily transmissible virus ever seen, and on Friday Trump basked in the inevitable results of his habitual anti-science rhetoric. The day before, thousands of Trump supporters, fired up by his crazy lies, staged mass demonstrations in several State Capitals and surrounded the State Houses, violating the emergency public health regulations that were keeping them alive, with many of them carrying (?) firearms.

Open rebellion against emergency measures during a life-threatening National Emergency is a serious violation of public safety rules, as well as a callous disregard for human life. Friday morning, Donald Trump made history as the first US President to support such armed rebellion against State governments with these Tweets: “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!”, then (and here comes the “fomenting armed rebellion” part) “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York (the TV ratings thief!) gave Trump hell Friday morning about his inflammatory rhetoric that is causing anti-State insurrection at the worst possible time in history (not that there is an ideal time for presidents to incite armed rebellion against States they are the boss of), even before before Trump Tweeted his support of these illegal demonstrations, and lied about the demonstrators keeping a safe social distance while every network showed them cheek by jowl like college kids at a tailgate party.

The backstory to the Nursery Rhyme “Ring Around The Rosy” is literally the deadly consequences of failing to maintain social distancing during a deadly plague. Hence, the “all fall down” part. Just don’t spoil it for the little ones.

Trump did get an early start on Week #171, burning the midnight oil, hard at work into the wee hours on Twitter, concerning a matter unrelated to the pandemic, re-tweeting the insane rants of one Charlie Kirk, a 26 year-old jackass and prominent internet Trump sycophant, targeting “Obama Judge” Amy Berman-Jackson for refusing Trump’s old buddy Roger Stone a new trial and ordering him to begin serving his prison sentence.

Later on he cozied up to Vladimir Putin again about getting world oil markets under control, and included all US territories in the National Emergency, marking the very first time that every square inch of American soil is undergoing the same national emergency (who says he’s not a uniter?), another historic milestone to go along with the insurrection thing.

His evening briefing had less to do with the Covid pandemic than Donald Trump lying his ass off about it, while abler people handled the reality portion of the show when they could squeeze in a few words, then the President announced a website called OpeningAmerica.gov as he continued to defy science and reality by dismissing all 50 State Governors’ complaints about “our tremendous testing capabilities” that are “better than the other 184 countries with Covid cases,” then going off about “quickly rebuilding the best economy ever” even as 4 Americans per minute are dying and scientists were unanimously saying that thousands of unnecessary deaths will be the result of a premature lifting of the business closings and social distancing regulations.

On Saturday Trump went nuts in public once again, stoking the anti-science flames he lit in the past week by saying “Some Governors got carried away with the social distancing” (you know, the ‘saving lives’ part), claiming the Governors were “refusing to use Federal testing” while claiming a Federal testing capacity that does not exist (highlighting his chaotic Administration’s refusal to coordinate a 50-State testing effort everyone involved is telling him is required), and once again erroneously claimed that “no one saw this coming” (except for multiple warnings over 2 years, and a dozen clanging alarm bells in December and January), and tried to rewrite the history of his blithe disregard of science and intelligence reports.

He also tried to erase living memory of those 7 MAGA rallies he held in January and February (that were videotaped and televised), claiming he had “not left the White House in months” and “cannot recall” any rallies in those crucial, clock-ticking months. This denial only served to focus attention on not only these rallies, but the President’s words and actions at the time as well, or rather, his multitude of words, and lack of action. 

Fortunately, the government that he inherited and claimed was “a broken system” was able to mobilize its extensive resources against the pandemic, and has proven to be run by some amazingly capable and dedicated people, doing their best to save American lives in spite of their own President’s repeated sabotage of their work.

This government was built piece by piece for 243 years by better minds than Trump’s, and provides him with an extraordinary array of options and tools to deploy, but he is either unaware of their existence or reluctant to use them, preferring instead to confront a deadly virus like he has every other challenge to his presidency, with bluff and bluster, making it a political issue requiring a narrative simple enough to be sold to the masses. Bigly sad for Trump, Covid-19 is an independent, and doesn’t seem to mind killing Red and Blue voters at the same clip.

Then it was MAGA Rally Greatest Hits time for Trump, starting with this lie: “We started off with a broken system. We inherited a broken, terrible system. And I always say it, our cupboards were bare. We had very little in our stockpile. Now we’re loaded up. I inherited broken junk.” A brief fact check reveals that the Strategic National Stockpile was not empty, and that the “faulty Covid-19 tests” he “inherited from Obama” was an impossibility, since Covid-19 did not exist during the Obama years. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s initial test for the coronavirus was created in early 2020, and was scrapped as faulty.  

Then he reprised his old John Kerry riff about Kerry needing to go to prison for violating the Logan Act for obeying a Court Order and returning Iran’s property, and blah blah blah on that stale old routine, then built on the bare cupboard theme by claiming the military “didn’t have ammunition,” before he got them bullets for their guns, and boasted like one of the mean boys in Lord of the Flies about his ability to inflict suffering on other nations (Iran in particular), then finished with a flourish with this Oldie But Goodie, the fable about other countries paying the tariffs that we can see with our own eyes and skinny wallets that we are already paying for in higher-priced consumer goods.

On Sunday Trump was back to being palsy-walsy with New York Governor Cuomo, calling him “Andrew” once again, for agreeing that testing was up to the States, neglecting the part where Cuomo described in detail the roadblocks the Federal Government had put in the way of said States attempting to perform that testing without the necessary chemicals that only the Feds can distribute. And the other part, where Cuomo bitterly criticized both Trump and Congress for refusing to fund State governments, many of them on the verge of financial collapse due to this pandemic.

Nope, those parts were too “big-wordy” and off-message to showcase at a Trump Ego Fest. Better to attack who he calls “the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats,” who have exactly no executive power, and blame them for the worst failure of leadership in the face of global health catastrophe imaginable, his own. 

In another instance of guerrilla truth-spreading, Dr. Fauci warned about the potentially catastrophic human cost of reopening the country prematurely, predicting a severe spike in cases if the methods of personal mediation are abandoned, as Trump has been openly encouraging in violation of his own Executive-ordered public health guidelines.

On Monday, Trump and Putin’s collaborative wizardry in “controlling” the international petroleum market collapsed the oil industry as the price of oil dropped to (!!) $0 barrel. Tempting, since that’s about what most of us have on us right now, being that our livelihoods went poof over a month ago.

And speaking of people freaking out over loss of money and being cooped up with an irritable spouse all day every day, irresponsible oafs in 7 States heeded Trump’s battle cry to take to the streets to demand their Constitutional right to take other people down with them when they flatline in some isolation ward from the virus they caught from a shared flagpole waving the Gadsden Flag. 

With his beloved poorly education so motivated, what better time to bring up the Wall, which has gotten him more mileage than Pink Floyd, even interrupting the US Army Corps of Engineers Commanding General Todd Semonite from his important presentation on coordinated State and Federal life-saving projects that the public needs to know about, in order to report on the last thing on anyone else’s mind, the (!) progress made on the border wall (which at this point in Trump’s Presidency one would think Mexico would offer to complete, only a lot higher). Only problem was, General Semonite is one of those misguided souls given to blurting out the truth, and he dutifully reported the structural soundness of the (!) “64 new miles of wall” (on a 2,000 mile-long border) that have been erected in 3-1/2 years. 

maga ‘n shit

Trump again quoted Cuomo about how testing is up to the States, again neglecting to mention that he is the one making that practically impossible. Cuomo and every other State Governor, both Democrats and Republicans, are clamoring for the missing testing chemicals that only the Feds control, and are publicly and privately demanding that their State budgets get the same Federal assistance that rescued America’s wealthiest corporations (for the umpteenth time), those private financial juggernauts collectively in possession of trillions of dollars in idle capital, untaxed fortunes hidden from Uncle Sam in offshore banks.

The one guy on Trump’s team who recognizes America for what it is, once again the voice of reason in Dr. Anthony Fauci, told us on Monday that there needs to be “a partnership between the federal government and states (the precise definition of our American Union) on coronavirus testing.” Fauci was, as usual in the impossible position of being forced to diplomatically contradict one series of outrageous claims after another, and dismiss the false hopes offered by Trump’s “hunches,” forever trying to undo another day’s Presidential distractions and setbacks.

And back to comparisons of what was the craziest Trump thing of Week #171, he announced out of the blue that he is (?) suspending immigration for 60 days to “save American jobs,” even as American farmers are forced to destroy their crops in the fields because there are few actual Americans willing to work as hard as migrant laborers, who are an essential bedrock of our food chain, a food chain suddenly under immense strain. This Executive order would allow certain exceptions, of course, since Mar A Lago doesn’t make its own beds or mow its own lawns, and the Slavic Trophy Wife Trade would suffer undue hardship.

On Tuesday Trump had a face to face meeting with Governor Cuomo in the White House to hash out the Federal responsibilities regarding the chemicals required to perform the virus tests. Cuomo spent 8 years at HUD, 4 of them as HUD Secretary under Bill Clinton, supervising the Federal response to numerous national disasters, and knows exactly how all this federal apparatus is supposed to work, how FEMA is to be used, which agencies perform which duties, who can respond quickly, where military deployment helps, etc.

There is a playbook for disasters and plagues, and huge teams of brilliant and effective professionals on our side, and luckily including enough automatic triggers to initiate agency response no matter who is President. In theory, these safeguards and automatic emergency responses were installed to operate in the event of a deceased or otherwise incapacitated President, with Trump falling squarely in the otherwise incapacitated category.

Wednesday morning gave us some early cray-cray from our President, sent via the usual official channel, Twitter, when he let us all know he thinks Iranians have flying boats and the US Navy needs to “Shoot down Iranian gunboats,” and oh, by the way, America is opening for business!

While we were pondering any possible reasonable explanation for Trump’s flights of fancy, we heard from Dr. Rick Bright, who was until the day before the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the man in charge of developing the Covid 19 vaccine. He confirmed what most people already assumed, that he was removed from his post because he pressed for a rigorous vetting of a coronavirus treatment repeatedly touted by President Trump and proven to be a failure, the now-infamous hydroxychloroquine.

The fact that Dr. Bright is one of the world’s best vaccinologists and was the leader of the vaccine development team is almost certain to set back the timeline for a vaccine, but perhaps someone will write a beautiful poem about the last person to die before the vaccine is finally available, so there’s alway that consolation.

It is too well known at this point that Trump’s ego far outweighs any single consideration, every time, for every issue, under any circumstances, even when that consideration is more dead Americans than there needs to be.

Brushing aside reporters’ questions about Dr. Bright’s assertion, Trump denied knowing the man leading his own vaccine team, or even that he had been removed, instead deciding to get all 50 US Governors furious again for shits and giggles by staying “Ultimately, we’re doing more testing, I think, than probably any of the governors even want,” after weeks of every Governor saying every day that they desperately need Federal help to do many times more testing than they are now.

Another disheartening bit of sabotage of the collective effort was revealed to us on Wednesday when we learned that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, had assigned a man to lead the agency’s day-to-day response to COVID-19, one  Brian Harrison, a (!!) dog breeder by trade, with (being as kind as possible here) “minimal public health experience.” Harrison’s aptitude for this demanding, critical and complex job is basically being man’s best friend (Azar’s, anyway).

Trump said more confusing and contradictory things about “Jynah” again, throwing a bunch of imaginary numbers around that meant nothing, then took the same baffling approach to the State of Georgia and its crazy Governor Brian Kemp, who decided suddenly to not only reopen the State’s bowling alleys and movie theaters, but its (!!) massage parlors, barber shops and tattoo parlors for good measure, potential Petri dishes even in the best of times. While even Trump openly acknowledged that this was way too much being opened way too soon, he declined to tell Governor Kemp to knock that shit off before he kills a whole bunch of his people.

Because States Rights.

Besides, after all his own disastrous decisions and statements destined to sabotage America’s Covid-19 response, criticizing Kemp might appear to be a far too transparent Pot-Kettle-Black moment, so it just seemed safer to repeatedly lie that “the Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” even as all the scientific data indicates the exact opposite, with the data even predicting the return of another broad Covid-19 contagion in the Autumn, perhaps causing another disastrous nationwide shutdown.

This prospect panicked Trump. No, not the prospect of more dead Americans and impoverished families, they are only numbers to him, having never once mentioned any of their names, but the widespread perception of his own failure peaking right before Election Day. He repeatedly denied these scientific reports and declared there will be no resurgence of Covid-19 with the same confident certainty with which he told us back in March that those first 15 cases would “very soon soon shrink to 5 cases, then 2 cases, then 1 case, and then just disappear.” That same tone of voice that reminds you to guard your wallet at a sideshow.

Also on Wednesday the Department of Education joined the fight against, no, not the Coronavirus, but … wait for it… immigrants! Determined to have her very own Let Me Just Make Things Even Worse moment, Betsy DeVos decided to prevent colleges from providing Federally-funded emergency assistance to undocumented students, even those currently under Federal protection, once again persecuting a favorite Trump target, our America-raised, American-educated DACA students, the so-called Dreamers brought here as children who know no other country but the USA, many of them serving honorably in the US military, with some giving their lives. We can at least thank Ms. DeVos for reminding us once again exactly who she is. 

Now comes Thursday, last day of Week #171 and an absolute mind blower, even by Trumpian standards, and one of the strangest days imaginable this side of The Twilight Zone. First we get Mitch McConnell saying that States would get no assistance for their exploding budgets and should declare bankruptcy instead, as callously cruel as it is economically catastrophic, and declared “there will be no Blue State bailouts” (a.k.a. places where 175 million Americans live) and that Democrats should not expect the time of day from his Senate, never mind communal assistance in a time of deadly crisis. And so we must thank Majority Leader McConnell as well, for reminding us once again exactly who he is.

McConnell also echoed Trump’s pledge not to rescue the Post Office, the one thing that defines a serious country, and the only thing uniting this self-isolated nation right now, and the agency that may hold the key to the 2020 Election. Both McConnell and Trump know that National Mail-In Voting is the morally right thing to do for a country that will possibly still be in the throes of a deadly pandemic, but morality is a burden neither man chooses to bear, and they realize that the vast turnout produced by mail-in ballots would ruin their chances of reelection, and both would rather strip their nation of its Postal Service rather than face a fair election process. 

Presumed Democratic Nominee for President Joe Biden saw the handwriting on the wall and publicly speculated that Trump just might be trying to use this crisis to postpone and/or sabotage the election by destroying the Post Office, something you would think even Trump is not crazy enough to try. 

Until Thursday evening, that is, when any imagined boundary you may have harbored about the depth and breadth of the Trump’s narcissistic madness disappeared in a flash. There are no limits, and no words to accurately describe the feeling of listening to the President of the United States sharing his theories about injecting humans with disinfectants and sticking Ultraviolet lights inside their bodies, then turning to world-renowned scientists seated beside him for reassurance that “you’re going to look into that, right?

That bears repeating, that the President of the United States wants you see what you have under the sink that will knock out this virus, and while you’re playing doctor, maybe search the internet for a UV light small enough to insert someplace or other. There are bug-eyed sidewalk orators on every Skid Row and subway station making more sense. Thing is, no one thought that any of the Skid Row demagogues should be put in charge of the most dangerous health crisis in modern American history just because they bellowed louder and longer the the next guy. But here we are.

So far public cooperation with the mediation protocols has slowed the horrific death rate where it is widely practiced, but hundreds still die every day, upwards of 50,000 nationwide by week’s end, and too many State Governors are foolishly tempting fate by reopening too soon, guaranteeing even more preventable deaths.

There is one number, however, that has remained constant throughout this deadly pandemic, and that is 0, the number of messages of condolences Trump has offered to the grieving families.

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