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General Interest, Politics

WEEK #180 OF THE TRUMP ERA IN REVIEW, FRIDAY, 6/19/20 TO THURSDAY, 6/25/20

Quote of the Week: “It looks bad.” ~ Lame Duck President Trump

Yes, the man who began the week threatening peaceful protestors with bodily harm and ended it by asking the Supreme Court to help him take away the health care of 23 million Americans in the middle of the deadliest pandemic in a century now thinks that the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic is… wait for it… wait for it… testing more Americans for Covid-19!

If you are starting to get the impression that George Orwell was a piker, you are not alone. We passed Orwell territory 3 years ago and now reside in some disorienting hybrid Hunter S.Thompson/Steven King gonzo-horror reality, the likes of which no novelist ever dared to imagine in even their darkest apocalyptic fantasies, for fear of getting laughed out their publishers office for going too far in describing the depths of human depravity.

Mister Human Depravity himself, Lame Duck President Donald Trump, began Week #180 of his interminable first and only term in office with this warning to American citizens: “Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene!”

Trump was planning the first MAGA rally of his reelection campaign since the Covid-19 crisis began the following day in Tulsa, Oklahoma, against all medical, scientific and political advice, at a time when the country was in the grip of not only a deadly pandemic, but of 3 weeks of furious protests against the unending police brutality towards minorities that Trump himself has often enthusiastically encouraged.

Of course Trump knew his rally would be met by protestors, so he conjured up images of Barr’s Charge in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House only a week before, when Attorney General Barr got confused over what the “General” in his title means and assumed command of his own secret little army of prison guards and other federal employees conscripted to do Trump’s dirty work, then ordered them to attack peaceful protestors in order to clear the way for Trump to stage a bizarre and awkward Photo Op with an upside-down Bible in front of a boarded-up church.

And speaking of the odious Barr, he once again confused his job as Attorney General with a different job, that of Trump’s personal lawyer, when he fired the District Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, by announcing his firing on social media, without having informed Mr. Berman beforehand. Mr. Berman, who was appointed by a panel of Federal judges, immediately replied to AG Barr that no, he was not resigning and no, you don’t have the authority to fire me, forcing Barr to reveal the truth about the matter, that Trump wanted him fired because he was the lead prosecutor investigating serious criminal cases against Lame Duck President Trump, the Trump Organization, the Trump Foundation, Trump’s personal corrupt banker at Deutsche Bank, and the Trump Ogre, Rudy Giuliani.

So Barr’s Friday Night Massacre had to wait a day, until Trump personally signed off on the firing after previously denying he had anything to do with his Attorney General’s decision to make his crimes and the crimes of his family and associates go away. And yes, this was done publicly thanks to Berman refusing to go along with the charade, declaring “I will step down when a presidentially-appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate.”

Saturday was to be Trump’s big day, his “I’m back!” moment when he would once again fill arenas to overflow capacity and reverse his horrible poll numbers that have stuck the Lame Duck nickname on his back like a “Kick Me” sign. But first he had to deal with explaining his firing of Berman and appointing his own political crony to take his place, Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a man with exactly no prosecutorial experience, to run one of the most important and influential Federal Districts Attorney’s offices in the country, famous not only for its independence and integrity, but for successfully prosecuting some of the most challenging and complex cases in our history. It was not the success of the office or their landmark legal work that bugged Trump, but that completely unacceptable “independence and integrity” label that runs counter to his Administration’s universal policy of loyalty-based corruption.

Then there was the matter of the Department of Homeland Security admitting that it has been monitoring protest marches in 15 cities, with drones, helicopters and airplanes, to compile potentially damaging data on American citizens, especially suspected “members” of Black Lives Matter and Antifa, in spite of the fact that both are popular movements requiring membership in nothing more than the human race. No word was forthcoming on whether the protestors there to greet Trump in Tulsa would qualify for the same service.

That tawdry business out of the way, a euphoric Trump boarded Air Force One in anticipation of renewing his passionate love affair with himself in his only remaining safe space, at the podium before an arena full of adoring imbeciles chanting hate slogans together, with no inhibiting masks, hand sanitizer or social distancing to put a damper on their joyful mayhem.

Not even halfway there, the rain started falling on Trump’s homecoming parade, when he found out that the pre-rally speech in the arena’s parking lot for the overflow crowd would not be necessary since there was no overflow crowd, and technicians began disassembling the outdoor stage erected for the purpose. At least, he thought, there would still be that capacity crowd of 19,000 to regale, and the nation would marvel once again at his powerful grip on the rank and file.

Well, as it turned out, not so much. While Trump Tweeted out damage control before his plane landed, claiming that violent leftist activists were preventing his loyal followers from approaching the arena, a very different reality was revealed to the American public on live TV, which showed a very small and peaceful group of protestors who blocked no one’s access to anywhere, and an even smaller group of rally attendees who walked unmolested into the Bank of Oklahoma Center, filling only 6,200 of the arena’s 19,000 seats. After claiming that the rally got a million requests for tickets, there was no opportunity to inflate his crowd size, as cameras inside and outside the arena showed the event for what it really was, the last hurrah of a touring act well past its prime and unable to fill large venues anymore. Perhaps the club circuit is a better bet for the rest of the Trump 2020 campaign.

Still, Trump had a speech to make and his beloved poorly educated to fire up, and he did his best, but his renderings of his greatest hits fell flat, so for some reason he felt compelled to include a bizarre 10-minute monologue on (!) walking down a ramp, referring to his adventures at West Point a week prior, when descending a slightly inclined ramp presented Trump with a challenge on the order of scaling Mount Everest, detailing his courageous soldiering on even though he was (?) “wearing leather-soled shoes” on a surface as slick as black ice. He neglected, however, to praise the soldier accompanying him down the ramp, much like a patient and kindly attendant for the elderly, for having no trouble at all negotiating the slight decline.

Then he field-tested a new Bogeyman for his crowd, this time not an actual human but the Covid-19 virus, which he called the “Kung Flu” in a gratuitous racist slap at China, then repeated his claim that we only have so many cases of the virus because we do so much testing, which is like saying our birth rate would be cut to zero if we eliminated pregnancy tests. He vowed to “slow down testing” before accidentally revealing the real reason why he was doing so: “The problem we have with all these numbers that don’t help me is that they don’t help me.” 

Bizarre and incoherent ramblings by Trump were not the story here, that’s par for the course for the past 4 years now, but instead that his bizarre and incoherent ramblings were delivered to a near-empty house and were received politely and somewhat indifferently, with almost no one being whipped into a mouth-foaming frenzy except for Lame Duck Trump. Covid-19 was also the story as 6 Tulsa-based Trump campaign staffers tested positive for the virus and an equal number of Secret Service Agents from Trump’s personal security detail had to be quarantined for 14 days due to their exposure to the infected individuals. 

On Sunday Trump lashed out at his campaign staff, in particular Brad Parscale, his Campaign Manager who has been making news for openly ripping off the Trump Campaign for Ferrari sports cars, expensive jewelry and high-end real estate. None of that larceny bothered Trump one bit (and perhaps endeared him to the man as a kindred spirit), but a near-empty arena infuriated him. Not once did it occur to Trump that the fault was his own due to his unrelenting corruption and destruction of American institutions, his horrible response to a pandemic that has directly caused at least 40,000 more deaths than needed to be, his impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors, his children’s concentration camps, his blatant racism and complete incompetence at his job, his ass-kissing of Russia even as they continue to attack our electoral system on his behalf, his re-polluting of America, his own attacks on our election and a thousand other unacceptable things. The truth is that Mr. Parscale has an impossible job as the weight of Trump’s disastrous presidency drags America deeper and deeper into shithole country status.

On Monday, even the White House was forced to admit that it is bracing for a second wave of Covid-19 in the Fall even as the first wave continues to devastate the country in State after State. No word on what this preparation would entail, but Trump hinted at it when he decided to discontinue Federal aid to distressed States for Coronavirus testing, perhaps figuring to deny the pandemic into submission and defeat.

It got no better on the Police Brutality Protest front when Mary Elizabeth Taylor, Assistant Secretary Of State for Legislative Affairs and a loyal aide since the start of Trump’s presidency, accused the Lame Duck President of confronting the country’s recent upheaval in ways that “cut sharply against my core values and convictions” and resigned in protest, leaving Trump with only Ben Carson as the last prominent Official Token Black in his Administration. On the plus side, Trump needs to look no further than The Department of Housing and Urban Development the next time he asks “Where’s my African American?”

On Tuesday The House Energy and Commerce Committee heard from Doctors Anthony Fauci, Steven Hahn, Robert Redfield and Bret Giroir about the many missteps the Administration has made in handling the Pandemic. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told members of Congress that the “nation does not yet have the coronavirus under control” and is seeing a “disturbing surge” of infections in some parts of the country, as Americans ignore social distancing guidelines and States reopen without adequate plans for testing and tracing the contacts of those who get sick.

Trump responded by whining about Fauci’s 72% approval rating compared to his own 40% rating before heading to Yuma, Arizona to put even more people in danger of catching Coronavirus at an event to celebrate “200 miles of border wall,” being completed, when in fact that 200 miles was not new at all, but only a repaired section of an older barrier (the reality is that in 3-1/2 years, only 3 miles of new wall have been built along the 2,000 mile border). None of which stopped Trump from telling a lot more lies and boasting about things that never happened as he later filled a local church with people for another speech, unmasked and keeping no social distance, yet another Trump-created Covid spike waiting to happen.

Meanwhile, in The United Kingdom, one of Trump’s dodged bullets (the very incriminating Mueller Report findings) came back to life as accusations by the press and members of Parliament were hurled at both former Prime Minister Theresa May and current PM Boris Johnson that the UK government covered up evidence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “likely hold” over US President Donald Trump to protect the UK’s relationship with the US Intelligence and Security agencies. This information was compiled by the Moscow office of the British military intelligence agency (the legendary MI6), headed at the time by (remember him?) Christopher Steele, and was due to publish its report last year. However, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to publish it before the UK general election last December, and it remains unpublished. So far, anyway, and Trump hopes it stays buried. 

On Wednesday, the Lame Duck President’s brother Robert Trump sued their niece Mary Trump, daughter of the late Fred Trump Junior, to try to prevent another account of Trump’s perfidy from being published. Mary Trump’s book is due out in August and titled “Too Much and Never Enough: How my Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.” Ms. Trump is in the unique position of being both a trained clinical psychologist and a member of the Trump Family, and her uncle Robert’s lame attempt to censor her work in order to spare his own family the shame of hearing the truth was laughed out of court by a judge the very next day. Then another military man joined the chorus of prominent generals and powerful politicians in condemning Trump when 4 Star General John Allen, USMC, published an Op-Ed piece accusing Trump of, among other foul things, “pushing for the end of American democracy.”

Later that day the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on Attorney General William Barr’s unlawful abuse of the Department of Justice by turning it into the political instrument of Trump’s will. Several current and former DOJ officials testified about Barr’s illegal interference into cases that either did not reflect well on the Lame Duck President, or were loudly objected to by Trump himself. Never before has an Attorney General surrendered the Department of Justice’s independence to enforce the political will of a President, Banana-Republic style. Coming under Congressional scrutiny were, among other crimes, Barr’s dismissal of charges against Michael Flynn even after he pled guilty, and 2 high-level DOJ officials interfering in the case of Trump’s old crony Roger Stone’s case. Neither Barr nor Trump came up smelling anything like roses, more like rancid putrefaction.

And speaking of rancid putrefaction, Trump finally decided to take decisive action after weeks of nonstop demonstrations against police brutality against Black Americans, by (!) ordering U.S. Marshals to protect the statues of slaveholders and Confederate traitors and calling peaceful demonstrators “scum.”

Thursday dawned no friendlier on Trump than the other days of Week #180 when former GOP Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina announced she was voting for Joe Biden in November, and The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation 22 to 1 to expand the authority of the Justice Department’s inspector general to act as a check on William Barr’s rogue behavior. The only vote against reining in Barr and Trump was by the star of Joe Biden’s and Jaime Harrison’s campaign ads, Senator Lindsey Graham, a man (sort of, anyway) who turned 180º from calling Trump “a xenophobic, race-baiting bigot” in 2016, to kissing his ample orange butt at every opportunity since his election, forcing us into uneasy speculation on what horrible photos of what aberrant activities Trump has on Graham.

Trump added to his own problems by contradicting his own aides’ hard work at spinning his multiple statements about fewer tests meaning fewer cases by saying “the President was only kidding” when he told reporters “I don’t kid. Let me just tell you. Let me make it clear.” Then to make it crystal clear that he really thinks more tests create more cases, he removed Federal support for State testing sites. Then the National Institutes of Health cut off funds to research projects on coronaviruses only after the White House specifically told it to do so, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

There was some good news on the Coronavirus front, but unfortunately, not for the USA. The European Union announced it was soon opening its borders to international travel again, except for those backward authoritarian nations that have not yet gotten the virus under control, places like Brazil, Russia and the United States of America.

And speaking of travel, 3 US States, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, among the very few American States who responsibly battled Covid-19 down to manageable levels, imposed a 14-day mandatory quarantine on visitors from a number of other US States that are currently undergoing horrific spikes in infections and deaths. Immediately, President Lame Duck announced he would soon repair to his golf resort in New Jersey, and had no intention of obeying their quarantine or mask-wearing orders, public health be damned (and “public health be damned” seems to Trump’s new mantra). A presidential spokesperson explained “The President of the United States is not a civilian,” a debatable assertion that nevertheless still does not explain his intention to defy a public safety order that is binding on both civilians and non-civilians alike for the common good, the “common good” part being a phrase that has no meaning to Trump. To him, there are “things that are good for Donald Trump,” and then there’s everything else.

After shrugging off the news that the Treasury Department sent a million dead people stimulus checks to the tune of $1.4 billion, Trump flew to Wisconsin to visit a shipyard that makes missile cruisers for the US Navy for a campaign appearance disguised as official business so that Uncle Sam would have to pay for it instead of his Campaign committee, where he put even more people at risk in an unnecessary ceremony where he delivered more crazy lies and empty boasts than could be kept track of, while his country exploded with new Covid-19 breakouts from coast to coast, with even Trump Lite Governor Abbott of Texas putting a stop to their reopening plans and cancelling all elective surgery as almost every major city in that State went into to full blown crisis mode as their healthcare facilities were swamped nearly to the breaking point.

A dozen other states are also in deep trouble as the week closed with 123,161 Covid-19 deaths to date, so Trump once again took swift and decisive action late in the day on Thursday, when he asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act, thus stripping 23 million Americans of their health care (again, that irritating “common good” thing!). All things considered, that was a very Trumpian way to end a very Trumpy week.

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