Quote of The Week: “Not so fast, Sharpiebreath!” ~ The Supreme Court to President Trump, deciding that the Founding Fathers were indeed serious about equality, and that the Statue of Liberty still means something.
Which is funny when you consider that Lame Duck President Donald Trump opened up Week #178 of his interminable Groundhog Day Presidency trying to make his emergency pandemic restrictions on immigration permanent, unerringly seizing every opportunity out of the chaos he personally created to boost both his own ego and inflict pain and suffering on everyone else alive. You know, all of us whose lives conspire to make things very very unfair to a billionaire who squandered both an unearned fortune and a stolen presidency.
Ruining being President of the United States is not as easy as one would think. The office commands enormous global power and respect, and the Federal Government is generally manned by bright, dedicated and experienced professionals who keep the place on an even keel even under the occasional bad President. With the largest organization on earth, brilliant Cabinet Secretaries and advisors, The US Government doesn’t always need to be run by a genius (but it helps), but at the very least someone competent enough not to break shit all day long and blame it on someone else. The Republic always survives such ordinary men with our functions and reputation relatively intact, with succeeding Presidents smoothing things over and correcting mistakes.
But it took a special talent to break the Presidency itself, a man who had already done the near-impossible by bankrupting multiple gambling casinos, an almost incomprehensible failure too monumental to even process rationally. The Cardinal Rule of gambling is “The House always wins,” every day, 7 days a week. Forever. Rule #2 is “Always refer to the Cardinal Rule.” People travel great distances and form long lines to throw their money at you. How one even person thought that a man that could screw up that simple formula should be President of the United States remains this Era’s enduring mystery.
But that’s a question for nihilistic French poets, not Face-First Americans who will try anything once, no matter how pigheaded (Prohibition, anyone?). Especially if you dare them. Which is why it is now safe to call Donald Trump a lame duck president, as the multiple crises he is facing provide him double the opportunities to never rise to the occasion, and twice the platform to stick his foot in his mouth, with every toxic reaction and word becoming a vote for Joe Biden and a Democratic sweep in November.
We also learned that day about Lame Duck First Lady Melania Trump shrewdly renegotiating her Prenuptial agreement before agreeing to move to the White House in 2017, how the President doesn’t like choke holds while simultaneously liking them a lot, about the millions in expenses rung up by gathering and isolating over 1,000 Cadets for 16 days just so Trump can conduct a campaign Photo Op at West Point, and about how Mnuchin and Trump got their way with a half trillion dollars in PPE loan funds being controlled by no one but them, with no official oversight or publicly-released list of loan beneficiaries. In other words, a Friday in the Trump Era.
But wait, there’s more. There’s always more. Donald Trump all at once revealed his complete ignorance about the existence or meaning of Juneteenth (“Almost nobody knows about it.” Trumptranslation: “I never heard of it.”) and simultaneously declaring that he did Juneteenth (!) a favor with his ignorance when he said “I made it famous.” You know, sort of like his brainstorm that resulted in our new way to exchange holiday greetings, with “Merry Christmas” instead of staring at one another uncomfortably not knowing what to say.
And that was how Trump moved his first Post-Covid MAGA rally to Saturday, June 20th, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which must have drawn the short straw among Red State cities for that dubious honor.
Then yet another of his former National Security Advisors caused an uproar by revealing what a clueless, selfish and mean asshole is this President, pretty much making it unanimous among former high-ranking Trump Administration officials. This time it was John Bolton, himself in possession of one of the worst reputations in American politics, and timing his revelations about Trump with the publication of his tell-all book, information that he refused to share with the House of Representatives during the impeachment process, and with the Senate during Trump’s subsequent Senate Impeachment Trial.
Now that he is poised to make a fortune on his book sales, Bolton boasts of knowing of even worse crimes that Trump committed in the year and a half that Bolton worked with him every single day, carefully omitting his own failure to report these crimes he witnessed to the authorities at the time. The few teasers leaked from the book paint the picture of Trump as a mean-spirited ignoramus who didn’t know (!) Finland was a country and is obsessed only with his own personal agenda, with the function and weight of the entire US Government bent to carrying out his fickle will, to the point of Trump bluntly telling President Xi of China that “you have to help me get reelected,” praising Xi’s use of concentration camps to detain ethnic minorities, and promising the President of Turkey to kill an active criminal investigation into one of his friends by (!) firing the prosecutor assigned to the case in exchange for political favors.
For those keeping score at home, all of the above are serious crimes except not knowing that Finland is a country, even if that seems like something it is impossible not to know after 74 years of breathing.
Naturally Trump threatened to sue Bolton and his publisher to stop distribution of the book, which is already in the hands of bookstores and online booksellers, as well as having been widely leaked to the press, so we are treated to the rare spectacle of the second-most hated man in America being sued by the most hated man in America over the release of the most hateful details of the most hateful President ever. We’re just lucky that way, one supposes. They say if you live long enough you see everything, but what the sages neglected to mention was that not all of what we see will be Hallmark Moments for the old scrapbook. Some of it is decidedly grim.
Ignored were the twin crises enveloping America, the deadly Coronavirus Pandemic that was rapidly growing in 2 dozen States even as they reopened, and the millions of protestors still filling America’s streets to protest police brutality 3 weeks after the murder of George Floyd by 4 Minneapolis police officers. The protests would take on special urgency due to events late on Friday Night, when an Atlanta police officer shot and killed another young Black man. His name was Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year old married father of 3 daughters, shot twice in the back, kicked and stepped on as he lay dying in a Wendy’s parking lot while the cops delayed calling an ambulance for crucial moments.
This news exploded on Saturday, and so did Atlanta, as angry demonstrators filled its streets, their Chief of Police resigned, and demonstrators nationwide found new reasons to brave a deadly plague and keep up the pressure that has already seen numerous states and municipalities rethink their police forces and both Houses of Congress get to work on serious national police reform laws.
But Trump mentioned none of this at his West Point Commencement speech on Saturday afternoon, content instead to lie his ass off about America’s military to its newest officers, claiming that giving them bullets for their guns was his idea and that we were weaker than Monaco before he showed up and made America great again, in spite of mean Nancy and Chuck and those nasty enemies of the people carrying notebooks and cameras. On the plus side, our newest military officers learned right off the bat of the dangers of being used as pawns in a political game. On the minus side, their superiors now have grave concerns about how many of our young best and brightest, trained at incredible public expense, will fall victim to Covid-19 and Trump’s ego for this superfluous public gathering that put so many lives in danger.
On Sunday, the Wendy’s where the murder occurred was burned down as the Atlanta protests turned ugly, and uglier still when the Atlanta police force staged a work slowdown in a protest of their own over the arrest of the officers involved in Rayshard Brooks’ killing. It was yet another sizzling cultural moment when the kind of people that used to be our President would seize the moment and a microphone and call the nation together, to share our pain and grief and vow to take action to make the change that this moment calls for. But that was then and this is now, when our President never met a bonfire he couldn’t make bigger.
Monday was when the Supreme Court ruled that existing Civil Rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, a stunning victory for humanity, cutting the legs out from under yet another of Trump’s petty Executive Orders and his Administration’s campaign to aggressively discriminate against transgender people in every aspect of life, a singularly weird obsession reflecting exactly no one else’s priorities at a time when our country is facing more vexing problems than Eric Trump taking on a Rubik’s Cube.
Monday brought us fresh news of State governments slashing their budgets after being hit with the astronomical expense of fighting the pandemic with no Federal help. It seems that Trump and McConnell’s government refuses to extend to States of the Union the same courtesy they extended to their corporate buddies, trillions of our tax dollars. Ironically, hospitals will be among those vital State services taking a financial hit, even as many of these States are experiencing dramatic spikes in Covid-19 infections and deaths.
And speaking of trillions in tax dollars, House Democrats got awfully curious about that remaining half trillion in PPP funds that Trump and Mnuchin are determined to distribute without oversight or transparency, and the string of fired Inspectors General, and launched an investigation into yet another instance of the same crime that got Trump impeached, diverting approved Congressional funds for other purposes.
Then Trump came up with a rationale for trying to ban Bolton’s book, suddenly claiming that Bolton breaks the law by revealing classified information in the book, then in the next breath rendered his own argument ridiculous by claiming that (!!) “every conversation with me is considered classified.” That’s a pretty curious statement considering that his conversations that became famous are famous only for their idiotic and insane content, or his almost comic ignorance of common knowledge (Seriously, Finland?).
On Tuesday Trump pretended to respond to the universal demand for drastic police reform by signing an Executive Order mandating very watered down and ambiguous police reforms, then launched into one of his patented disjointed diatribes, against “the China plague,” and about how he did so much for “the Blacks,” citing (!) school choice, the very issue his Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is using to destroy pubic education.
And that was the day that once again, William Barr’s Justice Department pursued a case that just so happens to coincide with Trump’s personal wishes when The DOJ sued Bolton and his publishers for releasing classified information, some good news for Trump that was tempered by the bad news of the cancellation of the G-7 meetings scheduled for the USA this year, after Trump annoyed his international counterparts by insisted on readmitting Russia, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to never again be in the same room with Trump under any circumstances. That went well…
Then Coronavirus Czar Mike Pence was briefly reactivated after having his Covid Response Team sidelined 3 weeks ago for trafficking in too much bad news. The Vice President was sent by Trump to Tulsa for one final Covid-related mission, to lie to the people of Oklahoma about the trajectory of the virus in their State in order to head off opposition to Trump’s Saturday MAGA rally that will violate every Federal emergency health regulation that his own government ordered. It seems upstart civic-minded citizens are suing the City of Tulsa and the Trump Campaign to stop his MAGA rally and the infection and deaths it will surely bring into the community, and Pence was there to lie the Administration’s way out of it by saying Covid cases were declining in Oklahoma when they were in fact skyrocketing.
On Wednesday morning the mayor of Tulsa, a Republican named G.T. Bynum, warned Oklahomans about the rally, saying “no rational person would not fear covid” and “some think it is great, some think it is reckless,” then counted himself among the latter by declining to attend the rally himself, perhaps mindful of the day’s news that informed the world of a major new Covid-19 outbreak in Beijing, a flash occurrence catching Chinese health authorities unaware, with large areas of the city under forced lockdown in the capital city of a country thought to have the virus contained.
Small wonder Tulsa residents were freaking out over being used as Trump’s guinea pigs as over 100,000 people were expected to flood the area on Saturday, both for and against Trump, in a smallish city ill-equipped and underfunded to handle such an event in the midst of 2 serious crises.
Then Facebook joined Twitter in tormenting Trump when it gave its users the option to block political ads, thwarting the earnest labors of dedicated Trumpropagandists specializing in lies and slander, and this news coming hot on the heels of all their years of gerrymandering and vote suppression work in the swing State of Ohio being rendered moot when Ohio’s government decided to hold their election by mail-in ballot in November. The last thing Trump and Republicans want is fair and tamperproof elections in Swing States.
On Thursday Trump went ballistic over the Supreme Court deciding against him on the matter of the DACA law, ruling that the Obama Era law allowing a path to citizenship by so-called Dreamers, millions of young undocumented immigrants brought here as young children and raised and educated as Americans, was valid and Constitutional, and Tump’s attempts to void the law and renege on the government’s commitment was as legally flawed as it is morally bankrupt, which is as good an analogy for Trump himself as is imaginable.
Forgetting that he was the one who appointed the Justice who wrote the Majority Opinion, Neil Gorsuch, Trump angrily Tweeted “We need NEW JUSTICES of the Supreme Court!” and other assorted victim porn about how nasty and unfair it all is to him to be denied the opportunity to shatter millions of young lives.
So he settled for shattering a mere tens of thousands of lives when the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the federal health agency, abruptly notified companies and researchers that it was halting funding for treatments for a severe form of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, that leaves some patients with permanent lung damage if not treated properly and swiftly with this expensive course of treatment.
One such patient in Washington State, who survived his ordeal thanks to this advanced therapy, was presented a hospital bill of $1.2 million, after the President of the United States had publicly pledged than no American would have to pay for Covid-19 treatment. Surely this patient will understand that the President was merely saying that to raise public morale and had no intention of letting sick people off the hook, or perhaps Trump was thinking that patients would use his own lifelong remedy for unmanageable bills – declaring bankruptcy.
Whatever Trump’s unfathomable intentions, we can only endure the waning months of this Lame Duck President and brace ourselves for a few more jarring jolts on our spin around the Crazy Carousel. And the painted ponies go up and down…