Quote of The Week: “I promised you numbers like no one has seen before, and I delivered.” ~ Coronavirus
In a week that ended with Lame Duck President Trump holding a press conference bragging of imaginary records being set and making up crazy numbers that don’t exist, Coronavirus silently spent Week #181 of The Trump Era delivering real record-setting numbers, albeit of the tragic variety, then topping itself daily. To be fair to the Lame Duck President, however, Coronavirus could have set none of these records on its own, and owes a great deal of its astounding success in America to Donald Trump.
Like CEOs bragging about their unparalleled business acumen while pointing to the skyrocketing profits that are the result of nothing more than tax evasion, Covid-19 has been given a free pass in America. For 3 years, Trump remade this country’s government in his own image; lawless, corrupt, disruptive and self-serving, providing the ideal conditions for rot, corruption and disease to fester. In the 4th year, the inevitable happened.
The Week began on Friday with the first Coronavirus Task Force press briefing since April 27, a schizophrenic mix of Vice President Pence’s Pollyanna lies and Dr. Fauci’s pointed warnings. Located pointedly away from the White House proper, Trump, who skipped the proceedings, only allowed Pence to get the band back together because Covid-19 was doing the worst possible thing imaginable to President Donald J. Trump, stealing his headlines and doing its best to sabotage his chances of getting reelected in November.
Ignoring the problem clearly hasn’t worked its usual magic, nor has committing a dozen other outrageous acts to make us forget about yesterday’s scandals and bring the focus back to where it belongs, only on Trump, a man certain to take permanent possession of the World Champion Attention Whore title when he retires this January.
With the country in the throes of a worsening pandemic and nationwide civil unrest over systemic racism and brutality, the president decided to focus on preserving the roots of systemic racism and brutality by issuing an Executive Order obligating US Marshals to defend statues and memorials of Confederate traitors who fought to uphold slavery. We all have our priorities.
Even as he was forced to cancel a scheduled trip to his golf resort in New Jersey, as his government was forced to back off cutting off funding for Covid-19 testing sites in Texas, and as the State of Florida banned the sale of alcohol in bars (a huge step in a State where there is 1 bar for every 4 people) due to deadly Covid spikes and stringent public health rules, Trump claimed he was staying in Washington “to monitor the protests,” said monitoring coming via a series of assorted barks and grunts in Tweet form. Speaking of unrest in Washington, DC, The House of Representatives passed a law granting Statehood for Washington DC so that they would not be the President’s political plaything during the next crisis, and instead have a say in their own affairs in the Senate and Congress. Look for this law to get nowhere near Trump’s desk.
Two judges added to his misery that day, when Judge Amy Berman ordered Trump’s old pal and coconspirator Roger Stone to report to prison on July 14 to resume serving his 3-1/2 year sentence for his part in the Russian Election Sabotage of 2016. The same Roger Stone Trump promised to pardon a few weeks back. Another Federal Judge ordered The Federal Government to release all the children from Trump’s Kiddie Koncentration Kamps over Covid-19 fears, and we were treated to the sight of children being released from razor-ribboned compounds to uncertain futures, with no guarantee that their captors even know the whereabouts of their parents.
Attorney General Barr, reacting to Congressional attempts to strengthen the powers of the Justice Department’s Inspector General, struck back by undermining his own IG’s report confirming the fairness and professionalism of the FBI when investigating the 2016 Russian Election tampering. Barr issued a memo threatening to “take down” any FBI agents who (!) investigate foreign election interference, in effect granting Russia official status as a legitimate player in American elections.
And as serendipity would have it, we learned later on Friday that Russia would indeed be a major player in the 2020 Election as the news broke of a team of Russian intelligence agents offering $100,000 bounties on the lives of American and Coalition troops in Afghanistan, and Trump knowing all about it but doing nothing. Well, technically, you can’t really say he did nothing, since President Lame Duck tried very hard a couple of weeks ago to get Russia reinstated in the G-7, and sent them thousands of ventilators to battle Covid-19. Guess he showed them, eh?
On Saturday, deprived of his New Jersey vacation, Trump managed to play golf at his local Trump-branded golf course in Maryland just outside DC, then, suitably refreshed and focused, announced the formation of another Federal Task Force. No, not a Task Force that would finally take charge and formulate a coordinated Federal National Response to Covid-19, a true 50-State plan, and no, not a Task Force designed to root out the racism and brutality plaguing our nation’s law enforcement infrastructure, but instead, a task force to combat “anti-government extremists.” You know, those nefarious social media Meme-Makers with no actual organization, hierarchy, budget or announced agenda beyond voting for someone other than Donald Trump.
Then yet another Federal Judge rained on Trump’s most cherished delusion, his Wall (exactly 3 new miles built in 3-1/2 years), when a court said he was breaking the law by diverting money from the defense budget to his vanity project, once again teaching Trump a lesson he refuses to learn, even to the point of getting himself impeached; that Congress alone is allowed to approves funds for specific purposes, and no one is allowed to repurpose those stacks of cash into walls, or anything else the legislation does not specifically mention (see: ‘Civics 101, Ukraine, Impeachment’).
On Sunday The Trump Administration came up with a new way to torment the working poor by allowing food corporations to steal their servers’ tips, working stiffs earning only $7.25 an hour and dependent upon gratuities to feed their families. Meanwhile Tump passed the time Tweeting, including sharing a White Power video that Trump’s aides later deleted in a panic, but not until news of him sharing it went viral, and widely taken as a slap in the face by the President to Black Lives Matter.
Then some of the State governments that were willing to sacrifice lives to appease Trump began breaking ranks with the White House as Covid-19 deaths in their States skyrocketed exactly like Trump said the economy would. Well, he was right about the skyrocketing part, anyway, so there’s that. Both Governor Abbot of Texas and DeSantis of Florida, at first lamely endorsing Trump’s delusional ranting about “more testing means more cases,” finally had to admit, even as they spoke those lies, that virus infections in both their States were spiraling out of their control.
Then Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson strongly urged Trump to invoke The War Powers Act to increase testing capacity because his State and other States were being inundated with Covid-19 patients and they were running out of tests to even find out exactly how big a problem they were facing. Apparently, Governor Hutchinson’s brain trust came to a different conclusion than the “fewer tests = fewer cases” theory, soundly rejecting the official “You Don’t Want to Know!” policy.
Yet another solid Republican State Government put a crimp in Trump’s campaign to preserve the sacred legacy of racism when the Mississippi legislature voted to get rid of the Confederate Battle Flag emblem from their State Flag. When the State of Mississippi is miles ahead of you on the major Civil Rights issue of the day, well…
Then it came time to deny being briefed about the Russian bounty on American and Coalition soldiers, when Trump stammered “Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us,” which translates to “I am denying it and have no idea how many attacks there have been.”
On Monday, just to prove for the bazillionth time that he never learns, Trump retweeted another viral video, this time of a wealthy white couple waving guns at peaceful Black Lives Matter marchers in front of their mansion in St Louis, Missouri, a reckless bit of finger-on-the-trigger intimidation that might have gotten them shot by police 41 times in a different city.
Then our chameleon-like Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, cancelled out his courageous declaration that “this country does not have Covid-19 under control” earlier in the week, by telling Americans to (!!) “Go on faith on what would replace Obamacare” (and just let us go ahead and rip away the health care from 23 million Americans in the midst of a deadly pandemic). Seems an undue burden to place on the Lord when these people already had quality health insurance in place, especially with these days being so fraught with entreaties to the Almighty for urgent help with all kinds of dire problems. Why “fix” what isn’t broken and stack the Celestial In-Box needlessly?
Then New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held a press conference condemning Trump’s catastrophic handling of the pandemic and said “the Federal government has abandoned its responsibility in fighting the coronavirus” (that that, Captain Obvious!), and challenged the President to issue a nationwide mandatory masking order. Trump’s response to the wildfires of a super-contagious virus raging across the American South and West? This: “there are embers that need to be put out.”
Meanwhile, his chip off the old blockhead son, Don Junior, suggested a way out of the Confederate Statue controversy his father created, to (!!!) erect statues of Daddy Dearest in their place, leading the rest of us to ask: “is there the tiniest flickering candle that a Trump cannot build into a raging bonfire?”
Also on Monday we heard from an old friend of the people, investigative reporter Carl “Watergate” Bernstein, about how Trump was “a near-sadistic bully” when talking to women heads of State, calling them abusive names and treating them with contempt, like he once treated female Reality Show contestants. It is fitting that this was the day that the Supreme Court sided with women over Trump when it struck down a Louisiana abortion law as unconstitutional.
On Tuesday, American intelligence officials confirmed that they “provided a written briefing in late February to President Trump laying out their conclusion that a Russian military intelligence unit offered and paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan,” a succinct claim to which Trump could only respond but… but… but… Confederate statues! American heros! Our sacred heritage!
Then Doctor Anthony Fauci told a Senate Committee hearing that he fears that the day’s 50,000 reported new Covid cases would balloon to “100,000 per day very soon” if the country did not change its undisciplined ways immediately. In other words, we will soon have 100,000 new cases every single day.
Wednesday found more States slowing down or reversing their re-openings, or shutting down again altogether as State after State reported record numbers of infections and hospitalizations, so Trump responded with a press conference when he finally said “I’m all for masks,” some 3 months and 40,000 unnecessary deaths after this same admission from Trump himself would have saved them.
On Thursday, even Mike Pence uttered this lukewarm endorsement of the practice that protects mask wearers 95% better than non-mask wearers, that (?) “I support the concept” of masks, for once forgetting to say “under the inspired and powerful leadership of President Trump.” You know, just in case Trump changes his inspired and powerful mind again in the afternoon and calls masks a hoax or fake news or something. Being a favored member of Trump’s Court means flexibility above all else.
That morning, Trump gave one of the most delusional press conferences of his career, and that is really saying something, more of a free-form beat poem about “record numbers of new jobs,” referring to people who were in reality returning to their old jobs after 4 idle months, “record stock market gains” for companies who have yet to recoup their pre-Covid numbers after staggering losses and mass layoffs, and predicting Third Quarter earnings of astounding proportions that will be the doorway to unprecedented prosperity, as if Covid-119 never happened, and half the country was not on the balls of its ass, once again dismissing this raging inferno as “a few fires to put out.”
Which kind of put into perspective his Press Secretary Kylie McEnany’s spirited defense of Trump’s (!) literacy a day or two prior, when she was put into the unenviable position of having to convince a public that knows better than Trump actually does read his daily briefings, and is (!) “very well-informed on matters of National Security.” We have had mediocre Presidents before, but never one that was widely suspected of having poorer reading habits than Huckleberry Finn.
In a week where the Russia, Russia, Russia scandal is being revisited with gusto, we got treated to a Deja-vu encore of another horrible Trump scandal as Jeffery Epstein’s procurer of underage girls, Ghislane Maxwell was arrested on Thursday following a spirited chase, another potential powder keg of damaging information on the rich and powerful, most prominently including one Donald J. Trump. One hopes Ms Maxwell’s Death Certificate is not already filled out, with the boxes “despondent” and “suicidal” checked off, awaiting only a date.
And speaking of Russia, Russia, Russia, the Senate Intelligence bill working its way through the legislative process somehow found the law summarily stripped of the language “requiring presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election help.” This backdoor move to avoid reporting Russia’s largesse to the President and to Senate Republicans dovetailed nicely with William Barr’s preemptive strike on another Justice Department Office in order to squash criminal investigations of Trump and his crooked cronies.
A week after Barr eviscerated the leadership in the prosecutor’s office of the Department of Justice’s Southern District of New York branch, he crossed the East River to Brooklyn, headquarters of the Eastern District of New York District Attorney’s Office, also knee-deep in investigating potential Trump & Friends crimes, when US Attorney Richard Donoghue was “reassigned to a new role in the Justice Department” (fired).
And speaking of “being reassigned a new role,” it seems that that the Trump Administration is finally repurposing the barn door. It seems that Trump fired the National Security Council’s entire Pandemic Response Team and closed its White House Office in 2018 in order to save taxpayers a cool billion dollars (an idea that no one not named Donald J. Trump thought was a good idea at the time). Now, after a response to the coronavirus pandemic that has failed on every level imaginable, they are planning to launch a similar office, the new wrinkle being that this time it will be a branch of the State Department.
You know, to avoid the inevitable stench of the Obama name if they just restart the program that was already in place and had worked superbly through previous pandemics, and perhaps read the detailed instruction booklet left behind. Chalk that up to one more item on the “He’s incapable of learning curve,” along with the news that Black Lives Matter has now become the largest mass movement American history, in spite of a President who thinks his bag of bright shiny objects will hide 25 million people marching in the streets forever.
And finally, speaking of “He’s incapable of learning,” Trump was preparing, against the advice of anyone with a pulse and half a brain, to depart for South Dakota to preside over yet another mass gathering of people for a 4th of July bash in the shadow of a place where he will never be enshrined, Mount Rushmore, complete with a large fireworks display against the wishes of local authorities due the the danger forest fires in the current dangerously dry conditions, and against the wishes of the Oglala Sioux, who claim such a gathering would be a desecration of their sacred tribal lands.
The Lame Duck President will be eagerly aided and abetted by perhaps the most Trumpian of Trump Groupie Governors, South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, who breathlessly gushed that their party would feature “no masks and no social distancing!” While she earns her place in history as a quisling of the first order (and on Madame DeFarge’s quilt of names), perhaps Trump will remember her fondly when she comes begging to the Feds for ventilators and PPE during the coming long hot Summer. Or perhaps not.