Quote of the Week: “In our judicial system, ‘the public has a right to every man’s evidence.’ Since the earliest days of the Republic, ‘every man’ has included the President of the United States.”- John Roberts, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of The United States of America
Quote # 2 of The Week: “His taxes are under audit, and when they’re no longer under audit he will release them.” – White House Press Secretary Kyleigh McEnany, confirming that Trump’s tax returns will never be released voluntarily since every sitting President and Vice President have their taxes audited every year as a matter of IRS policy.
We begin Week #182 on Friday, July 3rd, in the shadow of historic Mount Rushmore, where a great stone face looked down upon an assembled crowd, while the 4 Presidents carved into the mountain far above the podium rolled their granite eyes in mute exasperation. President Donald J. Trump, who everyone knows invented 4th of July celebrations singlehandedly (the same year his prolific imagination gave us “Merry Christmas!”), decided to throw another mass rally in the midst of a deadly airborne virus pandemic that would claim 136,000 American lives by week’s end, hosted by the Republican Governor of South Dakota, the shiny-eyes crazy Kristi Noem.
Ms Noem is an intellectual featherweight and (!!) virus denier, and gushed that there would be “no masks and no social distancing!” at her State’s holiday party. To enforce the lack of social distancing, the rows of folding chairs were (!!) zip-tied together, a potentially homicidal act in this time of Coronavirus, where one infected person has already spread the disease to hundreds of people, not once (America never learns from once of anything) but on scores of occasions in every region of the country. Turns out that, contrary to earlier Republican claims that New Yorkers were a different species than the rest of Americans and that’s why they had so many cases, Covid-19 is the only undivided thing about America right now, a truly bipartisan disease embracing every variety of American in every State of the Union.
Against the wishes of Mount Rushmore’s landlords, the Sioux Nation, a great fireworks display was given in spite of the grave danger of forest fires due to a drought in the region. The fireworks, however, were anticlimactic after Trump’s slash and burn speech, the most hateful, racist, divisive and insane speech since, well… Trump’s last hateful, racist, divisive and insane speech, sounding more like the acceptance speech of a newly inaugurated Grand Wizard of the KKK than a President of the United States addressing his nation on our National Day.
According to Trump, our nation is beset by people of “unspeakable evil” responsible for “our children being taught in school to hate their own country.” He was not speaking of foreign invaders or sworn enemies of America, but instead of the great majority of the American people. You know, the 70% of Americans who are sick of his shit.
In the midst of a deadly pandemic and the brand new scandal about an American President ignoring Russian bounties on US troops, Trump concentrated instead on preserving the “legacy” of slaveholders and traitors to the country whose birthday we were celebrating. He declared he was ordering the creation of a “National Garden of American Heroes” to defend what he calls “our great national story” against those who vandalize statues (of his favorite slaveholders and traitors). He even demanded (!) creative control, mandating “the statues must be lifelike, not abstract or modernist,” perhaps still stung by the sight of all those “Baby Trump” balloons wherever he goes.
Trump repeated this performance the next day in Washington DC, with the added wrinkle of outdoor dining for VIPs on the White House lawn, followed by a flyover of military jets, then a 4th of July Speech by Trump to another large crowd, with another grand fireworks display to follow, with none of these events following the pandemic health protocols handed down by his own Administration.
At least the President mentioned the raging pandemic this time, if only to tell a huge crazy lie about it: “99% of coronavirus cases are totally harmless” (not even on the same continent as reality), before giving the nation’s humorists this gift: “I’ve been briefed on every contingency you can possibly imagine, many contingencies. A lot of positive. Different numbers. All different numbers. Very large numbers. And some small numbers too, by the way. It’s really working and a lot of good things are going to happen.” And this: “We followed them with this terrible China virus. We are likewise getting under control… We’re putting out the fires. It’s like life, it’s got a life, and we’re putting out that life ’cause that’s a bad life we’re talking about.”
Later on Saturday we learned that Donald Trump Jr’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle has Covid-19, perhaps contracted from one or more of the National Parks employees who worked the Mount Rushmore event, since they (!) did not get tested before working with the President and his family, an incredible lapse of security as well as protocol. Junior and Ms Guilfoyle were required to self-quarantine for 14 days and had to drive back to Washington DC from South Dakota to do so, since Covid-infected people are not allow to fly.
On Sunday, the commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration declined to defend Trump’s “99% of coronavirus cases are totally harmless” claim, making it unanimous that it was as idiotic a lie as it is an insanely dangerous sound bite of propaganda, the danger part being underscored by the news that the Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, desperately seeking testing materials to gauge the scope of the outbreak that threatens to overwhelm their hospitals, was told by FEMA that “they are getting out of the testing business,” sort of like telling the Mayor of New Orleans they were getting out of the “rescuing drowning people” business following Hurricane Katrina.
Trump took out his pique on his greatest ally, Fox News, for having the nerve for once in their lives to point out the obvious, that Trump was getting trounced in the polls by Joe Biden and had “Pathetic One-Termer” written all over him. Trump rage-tweeted all day, things like this bit of victim porn from his Twitter feed: “@Fox News gladly puts up the phony suppression polls as soon as they come out. We are leading in the REAL polls because people are sick & tired of watching the Democrat run cities, in all cases, falling apart. Also, now 96% Approval Rating in the Republican Party. Another 2016!” Presumably, the “REAL polls” are listed somewhere, or perhaps he referred to those available only to Presidents. Hard to tell since none of us have seen them.
Monday was a day for “blame China for all our troubles Tweets,” and a series of Tweets implying that NASCAR’s decision to prohibit Confederate flags at its races was a mistake, and demanding (!) an apology from the only Black NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace, for reporting finding a noose hanging in his racing garage, with Trump once again fighting Lester Maddox and George Wallace’s battles, 55 years and a transformed America later. The Black Mr. Wallace politely told the President where he can stick it.
Still stinging from the protest by the Sioux Nation in South Dakota, Trump revived another hateful scandal with this Tweet designed to debase Native Americans and a political rival in one shot: “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct. Indians, like Elizabeth Warren, must be very angry right now!” Native People had the last laugh, however, when a federal judge ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline to shut down pending further environmental review, a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
All of these developments of course led inevitably, like all her predecessors, to the Rite of Passage for every new Trump Press Secretary – defending his blatant racism, with Kayleigh McEnany choosing to characterize his racism as “not being racist,” and his “99% harmless” claim as ”a harmless generalization.” You know, “Racist Lite” and “Number-Flexible,” certainly different from “racist” and “liar,” right? And when she puts it so charmingly, well… no, it isn’t any more convincing that the previous mindless puppets on Trump’s string.
We were also treated to the news on Monday that large chunks of the $2.5 trillion in business bailout loans went to wealthy connected insiders who either didn’t need them or did not qualify for the Payroll Protection Program, places like Trump-supporting megachurches ($3.4 billion), Senator Mitch McConnell’s wife’s China-based shipping company, Jared Kushner’s real estate company, Representative Devin Nunes’ wine-making operation, Karl Rove’s (!) Small Government Think Tank, and something called Cloud Commerce—a company associated with Trump’s 2020 Election Campaign Chairman, Brad “Two Ferraris” Parscale, which received $780,680 from the Paycheck Protection Program, despite the company’s execs having been sued for and/or pled guilty to fraud.
Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Fauci, banished once again from public events by Trump for insisting on acting responsibly, went guerilla, appearing on television at every opportunity to warn the American people and get us up to speed on new scientific developments. The only reliable source of Coronavirus information in this Administration informed us that we are “Still knee-deep in the first wave” and that this is “a serious situation we need to address immediately” and remind us not to listen to “the false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death.”
Fauci praised the more successful approach of other nations, specifically the European Union’s effective responses, one of which was to ban travel to the EU by Americans. He was again backed up by the FDA Chairman Hahn, who said “we will see a lot of lethality,” and Trump’s former Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert, who said “we are now in big trouble” and at the point where America is “adding a Wuhan a day to the case totals, and in the next week or two we will get to a level where we add a new China a day.” Current events more than confirm their analyses.
So on Tuesday, naturally Trump (as he has from Day 1 of this pandemic), made things much worse.
After hearing the news that half a million new cases had been reported in the previous week, Trump thought this would be the optimum time to give America’s formal notice of withdrawal from the World Health Organization, effective in 2021, and to challenge Dr Fauci by saying “I disagree with him” about schools reopening at full capacity in August and September, saying “Well, I think we are in a good place,” providing exactly no scientific evidence on just how good a place that could possibly be while recording 60,000 new cases a day.
Buoyed by his own rosy fantasy, Trump decided to do his favorite thing, inflict pain on the vulnerable, when he put pressure on the nation’s universities, most of whom are beginning the September semester teaching virtually, to open their doors to death by announcing that foreign students would be deported if they did not attend at least one in-person class, knowing full well that an Exchange Student’s visa is their lifeline to a better future, but in-person classes might just erase that future, to say nothing of those of their teachers and staff.
To Trump these are mere trifles compared the potential of getting a boost in his go-to gauge of success, TV ratings, which he is convinced will translate to votes, even though at this point he has to know damned well that half the people who watch his speeches are hoping to watch him have a stroke.
And speaking of TV ratings, his plans for a big splashy TV Rating magnet of a nominating convention in Jacksonville, Florida this August are (much like Trump himself) rapidly unraveling. The entire State of Florida is undergoing a horrific spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths, while their thuggish Governor hides the truth from the public by refusing to release the statistics crucial to Floridians’ chances of survival.
As a result, the Mayor of Jacksonville, Lenny Curry is imposing mandatory mask and distancing regulations that will make a normal convention impossible, infuriating Trump, who has had no problem with local officials so far when he put thousands of his supporters in mortal peril in order to feed his insatiable ego. Mayor Curry is a Republican, and several top Republican luminaries have already said they would skip the Republican National Convention; Senators Chuck Grassley, Lamar Alexander, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and several senior House members, due to Covid concerns, and many Republican voices questioned the wisdom of a live convention, calling on the President to instead conduct a Virtual Convention like the Democrats are planning.
And if that wan’t enough irritation in one day for Trump, his niece Mary Trump’s book about him and the Trump family began being quoted all over every media outlet there is, telling us the reasons why Trump is such a nasty piece of work; basically because be he was a nasty little shit as a child, raised by nasty ass parents, hence the title “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Raised the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”
We get that, and have long figured out that everything that can possibly be wrong with a person is wrong with Donald Trump, plus a bunch of new things that aren’t wrong with anyone else. A clinical explanation of his monstrous personality by his psychologist niece doesn’t make anything okay or even remotely understandable, but perhaps will serve as a handy reference guide some day for his defense attorneys.
On Wednesday, Trump doubled down on insisting upon reopening schools, all of them, down to the toddler grades and even the very vulnerable child care centers, all to free up the labor pool in order to make his economy look good before the election. This strategy is a gamble on the President’s part, betting that not too many of them drop dead, a risk Trump is more than willing to take. After all, anything that happens as a result of his callous manipulations will happen to other people, something that does not factor into his calculations.
Trump threatened to withhold federal funding from schools that don’t reopen in the fall, and lashed out at federal health officials over school reopening guidelines that he says are impractical and expensive. Vice President Pence immediately announced that the Centers for Disease Control would revise guidelines on reopening schools, catching CDC Director Robert Redfield off guard. Pence promised “less strict guidelines for opening up our schools,” ever the smug and blameless hangman, while Redfield stammered in disbelief and promised “to provide additional information soon,” leading to horrified speculation that Trump had corrupted the CDC too.
When Redfield recovered himself the following day, he defied Pence and Trump by refusing to dumb down lifesaving measures for our nation’s children. Dr. Fauci also countered Trump’s noise by advising the States undergoing severe Covid spikes to shut down, at the same time we received reports of a sharp Covid spike happening in Tulsa, Oklahoma, two weeks (as widely predicted) after Trump held his first Covid-defying rally there, which at least gives South Dakota something they can rely on 2 weeks from now, a rare commodity in these uncertain times.
Then the Russian bounties stories earned the nickname “Bountygate” as we learned that Trump knew as early as mid-2017 that Russian intelligence agents were offering $100,000 bounties for American scalps, and his first reaction was to (!!) order the CIA to share intelligence information on counterterrorism with the Kremlin, even though the CIA vehemently objected to aiding and abetting the enemy.
Attorney General Barr, who opened (!) criminal investigations into the investigators that uncovered Russian intervention in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf, did his best to detract from Bountygate and the exploding Covid-infection scandal in Federal prisons by announcing that the Federal Government would be (!) getting back into the execution business for the first time in 15 years, addressing a non-problem that exactly no one else was pursuing at this time of deadly pandemic, nationwide civil unrest and severe economic hardship. Sure, let’s execute a few bad guys to take our minds off Armageddon.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman retired from The US Army on Wednesday, having been subjected to a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” by the President of the United States, according to his attorney, for the crime of doing his job superbly. This represented just one more monumental waste of talent, intellect, integrity, courage and loyalty that has marked Trump’s purge of anyone who is on the level.
In the midst of all this madness on Wednesday was Mexico’s President Andres Ogrador, in Washington on a State Visit to sign the “new” North American Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico (NAFTA with some shifted commas and Trump’s signature in place of Clinton’s), who was treated to a Trump suddenly in love with Mexico as he groveled for at least some portion of the Latino vote, as if the past 4 years of his vicious insults and anti-Mexico rhetoric never happened, no doubt providing President Obrador with bizarre Trump stories to swap with other world leaders when they get together for some laughs.
On Thursday the Supreme Court pointed out the obvious to President Trump yet again when they voted 7-2 to affirm that indeed, the President is not above the law or beyond the reach of a legal subpoena. The Court decided that yes, the Manhattan District Attorney is allowed to subpoena Trump’s tax returns as part of criminal investigations into the President’s alleged violations of New York State law, and yes, the United States Congress can gain access to the President’s financial statements if the subpoenas are legally warranted and properly executed.
Of course, this latest reminder by the court from which there is no appeal was lost on Trump, who immediately began pouting like a little girl and and whining like a stuck pig, Tweeting out ”Political Witch hunt!”, accusing Obama and Biden of crimes, and this very self-revealing Tweet: “Courts in the past have given ‘broad deference.’ BUT NOT ME!”
Deference is what kings get, not leaders of governments of the people who overthrew kings and replaced them with laws.
And speaking of things Judiciary, the recently fired US Attorney for the Southern Disctrict of New York, Jeffrey Berman, testified before the House Judiciary Committee in a closed session, but his opening statement was made public, and it provided some details to what everyone already knows, that Attorney General Barr has transformed the United States Department of Justice into a weapon for investigating political rivals, pardoning Trump’s henchmen and squashing any investigation into the criminal activities of the boss and his family, along with the dismissal of any number of Assistant District Attorneys who get in their way by taking their titles, and their oaths of office, seriously.
Acting in the opposite manner from William Barr was one Peggy E. Gustafson, The Department of Commerce’s Inspector General, who began an official review of the propriety the Commerce Department’s hiring of Nathaniel Cogley as policy advisor, whose qualifications are that he wrote Pro-Trump, anti-Impeachment blogs, and Adam Korzeniewski as senior adviser to the deputy director for policy (whatever that is), who previously was an advisor to “Joey Salads,” a 25-year-old openly racist social media mini-celebrity who registered as a Republican candidate for Congress in New York.
Week #183 ended with State after State inundated with overwhelming outbreaks of Covid-19 and the now all-too-familiar sight of American medical personnel forced to reuse single-use PPE, hospitals and morgues overflowing, testing abilities breaking down, and patients medevacked to distant hospitals in search of empty beds. The World Health Organization announced the latest discoveries about the Coronavirus on Thursday, emphasizing how easily it spreads indoors, more bad news for Trump’s proposed comeback tour to packed houses in the big arenas. Small wonder he pulled the USA out of WHO, one more slain messenger.
Then in a comic note from The Revenge of the IGs, The National Weather Service apologized for reprimanding a local weather office for a Tweet that contradicted Trump’s Sharpie addition to a storm map of Hurricane Dorian in 2019 to include Alabama when there was no storm in Alabama, but Trump was on record as saying there was a storm in Alabama, so rather than correcting his mistake, immortalized it on a weather map like a 5 year-old with a crayon. The Inspector General’s report found no wrongdoing on the part of weather officials, or any reason not to enshrine the Hurricane Sharpie moment in the Dumbass Hall of Fame.
Of course Trump felt compelled to add to his Hallmark Dumbass Moments file by once again adamantly insisting that fewer tests means fewer cases of Covid-19, like a boy convinced that the rabbit really vanished into thin air when the magician made it disappear. What no Sharpie can alter, however, and no sleight of hand or dimwitted Press Secretary can explain away, was the 68,000 new Covid cases reported on Thursday alone, and 136,000 deaths since January.