Quote of The Week: “It’s not worth following a president who has no remorse for leading his followers to an early grave.” – Caroline Gohmert, daughter of Covid-stricken Congressman Louie Gohmert, who called Covid -19 a hoax, refused to wear a mask unless forced to, then blamed the mask for his infection.
Quote #2 of The Week: “It is what it is.” – Donald Trump validating Ms. Gohmert’s assessment by shrugging off 155,000 deaths and 5 million infections as a small price for America to pay for the privilege of benefitting from his unprecedented magnificence.
Week #186 begins on Friday morning with the testimony of Dr. Anthony Fauci before the House of Representatives’ Special Select Committee investigating the Trump administration’s response, or rather their glaring lack of a response, to the Coronavirus pandemic, where we were treated to Fauci exposing Representative Jim Jordan as the rabid Chihuahua that he is, as Jordan repeatedly tried to browbeat Fauci to get him to endorse his own and Trump’s hateful political views, but Fauci would not bite, dismissing him like Jordan used to dismiss sexually abused students.
While this was going on, the entire country was furious at Trump for his new “delay the election” campaign, with even hardcore enablers like Mitch McConnell pointing out that we have held our elections on time even during Civil war, the Great Depression and two World Wars. Which of course led Trump to defend the indefensible again and renew his attack on fair voting practices, one more case of the whole world being wrong and Trump being right.
Not that he is relying on voter suppression exclusively, since we learned from Todd Chapman on Friday, the American Ambassador to Brazil, that he told (!) Brazilian officials they could help get President Trump re-elected by changing their trade policies, instantly elevating Brazil to Most Favored Election Meddler status, even as US Intelligence agencies publicly discounted the possibility of foreign countries mass producing fake ballots to interfere in the November elections, another of Trump’s desperate and imbecilic claims.
Then we learned of Acting Homeland Security Secretary, Chad F. Wolf, suspending investigations of reporters covering the unrest in Portland, and the demotion and transfer of those responsible for carrying out yet another illegal Trump policy, while Trump stewed over the success of Sarah Cooper, the comedienne who makes numerous viral videos on TikTok using Trump’s own words to hilarious effect.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he headed to Tampa, Florida for a campaign stop disguised as official business, the main business being a $5,600 a head fundraising dinner. Two tickets and a photo with Trump were being sold for $35,000, and for a $100,000 donation, rich people could attend “a roundtable discussion with the president.” No word on whether the discussion was actually about shapes of tables, round or otherwise.
His usual airport rally, complete with a 30-minute speech featuring lies, boasts, delusions and a bunch of police officials standing behind him, attracted only 90 supporters, who were outnumbered by the security staff and the press. In the State that is now the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic, Trump and his retinue wore no masks as he assured Floridians, many of whom will be dead of Covid-19 soon thanks to him, that “it will just go away soon.”
Small wonder the Trump 2020 Campaign decided to suspend all campaign advertising for a week as his new Campaign Manager tried to figure out a better message than showing images of Trump’s America in flames and chaos and pretending they are from the future, in “Joe Biden’s America.” Few were fooled.
Trump was scheduled to remain in Florida to play golf on Saturday, but Hurricane Isaias forced his return to Washington, where he made another “unscheduled” visit to Walter Reed Hospital, quickly denied by his staff, and giving America false hopes that were dashed when he emerged upright.
It was also on Saturday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave his “permission” to Republican Senators to distance themselves from Trump to avoid losing the Senate in November, while Trump colluded with his new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to cripple the United States Post Office in order to make good on his claims that mail-in ballots would be compromised. Republican Senators needed no prompting from Moscow Mitch to put daylight between themselves and Trump’s insanely ruthless and criminal sabotage of yet one more American institution, leading to Trump repeating the only true thing he has said lately; “Nobody likes me. It can only be my personality.” Wellnoshit.
On Sunday, the head of the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence branch, Brian Murphy, was officially removed over the illegal dossier compilations on civilians and reporters. Undismayed at losing a partisan warrior from what is supposed to be a politically neutral position, Trump gained another one when he appointed retired Brigadier General Anthony Tata to a senior role in the Defense Department, which needs to be the definition of a neutral player, just days after his nomination hearing was cancelled amid bipartisan opposition due to his numerous Islamaphobic and offensive comments, promotion of conspiracy theories calling former President Barack Obama a “Muslim” and “terrorist leader,” Speaker of the House Pelosi “a radical left wing threat,” and claimed (!) the CIA was trying to assassinate Trump. In other words, a perfect fit for Trump’s dog & pony show.
Then Trump announced yet another “first” for an American President when he announced that the Republican National Convention convention would be held in private in Charlotte, North Carolina, strictly off-limits to (!!) the press, making it more like a summit of mob bosses than the traditional transparent political process of a democracy. Again, this is dead wrong, but fitting.
Trump repeated his bogus claims that Obama “left the cupboard bare,” even as we heard confirmation on Sunday that the Obama Administration had left Trump 16,660 working ventilators and had ordered 10,000 more from China to be delivered in 2019, but Trump aide Peter Navarro held up their delivery and Uncle Sam wound up paying an extra $5,000 per unit, a $50 million ego mistake.
Speaking of reckless mistakes, Russia announced an upcoming mass vaccination of their people on Sunday, even though no reliable vaccine for Covid-19 has been successfully tested anywhere on Earth, which got Trump’s attention. Then Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Covid response team pulled a Fauci on Sunday by dropping truth bombs, how Trump “has no plan” and that the pandemic is entering a new phase as it spreads to rural communities nationwide, “Americans in multi-generational families should start wearing masks in their home and assume that they already have the disease. What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas.”
On Sunday evening, the Nevada State Legislature concluded an emergency session by voting to provide mail-in ballots to every registered Nevada voter, a responsible act designed to safeguard both the integrity of our elections and the health of voters, which of course Trump took as a personal insult.
Monday morning naturally found Trump attacking both Dr. Birx as “pathetic,” and the entire State of Nevada as likely election cheats, with Dr. Fauci vigorously defending his colleague Dr. Birx, even as he continues to be the target of numerous death threats from Trump’s science-denying hardcore numbskulls. To add to Trump’s snit fit, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office suggested it has been investigating Trump and his company for possible bank and insurance fraud, serious offenses that are State and not Federal crimes, and thus Presidential Pardon-proof.
Trump resumed his daily Coronavirus Briefings on Monday, leading off in a rather subdued manner with warnings about the dangerous hurricane battering the Eastern Seaboard, before launching into a series of crazy lies about “the Jynah plague,” basically telling us it was all China’s fault and that he was doing the greatest job imaginable in a week that ended with a death toll north of 160,000, prompting his dismissive “it is what it is” quote when asked by a reporter about this heartrending human carnage.
Then he absolutely freaked out at length over Nevada’s decision to conduct mail-in elections, again claiming that a Post Office that handles 2 billion Christmas cards a year without breaking a sweat would be overwhelmed by 130 million mail-in ballots, crying treachery and election rigging, then citing various newspaper articles detailing mail-in voting errors, while neglecting to read past the headlines of any of them, otherwise he would have found out they all reported less than one quarter of one percent of (.025%) voting errors and that every single study of mail-in voting finds it to be efficient and honest.
Speaking of reporters, a name Tump won’t be repeating very often is Jonathan Swan, an Australian political correspondent for Axios, who Trump sat down with for an unbelievably disastrous (even for him) interview on Monday night. To say that Mr. Swan was meticulously prepared and Trump was the opposite would be a gross understatement, as he exposed Trump as the intellectually-challenged blowhard that he always was, again and again and again. Of course, Mr. Swan had a lot of help from Trump himself in making him look like a sorry asshole who, as always, simply did not know when to shut the hell up before saying something incredibly stupid, or holding up yet another meaningless graph that said the opposite of what he claimed it said.
And speaking of digging himself deeper and deeper holes, on Tuesday Trump decided to attack John Lewis, the recently departed Civil Rights icon whose body had lain in State the week before and whose death had caused an outpouring of grief, love, praise and admiration for Representative Lewis, not only nationally, but globally. “I don’t know John Lewis. I can’t say how great he was or not. And he chose not to come to my inauguration.”
None of which stopped him when he signed a John Lewis-authored bill into law that day, an actual good thing done by Trump for a change, that set aside funds for the acquisition and preservation of public lands, a signing to which he invited no Democrats and never once mentioned the name John Lewis, acting like it was his idea to preserve the natural beauty of America, even after his well-documented history of trying to sell off and/or catastrophically pollute national landmarks, crucial fisheries and tribal lands.
Trump also reversed himself on mail-in ballots, but for only the State of Florida, which he desperately needs for reelection and where he is trailing Joe Biden badly in every poll, declaring that Florida’s electoral system was safe and honest, and presumably the Post Offices there are better than in the other 49 States. And speaking of other States, Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan overruled an order prohibiting some private schools from conducting on-campus learning, including Barron Trump’s school, so we’ll soon find out if Trump is willing to risk the life of his youngest son to prove his Covid-19 delusions correct.
At his Tuesday afternoon Coronavirus briefing, Trump proved he had learned nothing from his disastrous interview with Jonathan Swan as he pulled out all kinds of bogus charts to cherry-pick facts and statistics to make himself look better but only made a damned fool of himself again, lying copiously, knowing full well that every lie he tells about Covid-19 translates into more and more his hardcore followers refusing to obey health protocols, inexorably leading to ever more unnecessary infections and deaths (See: “It is what it is.”). Dr Fauci, ousted from these public briefings, did manage a public reply to Trump’s false boasts about our testing abilities. “It’s unacceptable, period.”
No Trump Era Week would be complete without an adverse judicial ruling or several, and Week #186 delivered when a Federal judge ruled that it’s unconstitutional to deny Puerto Ricans living in a U.S. Territory access to three federal welfare programs, essentially reaffirming for the umpteenth time in America that a citizen is a citizen is a citizen, and there are no different degrees of American.
Lest we forget the recent spate of Inspectors General firings and resignations for investigating in-house corruption, now we hear that another State Department Inspector General resigns, one Stephen J. Akard, who just replaced the guy they fired for investigating Secretary of State Pompeo. It’s hardly surprising news anymore when one more lifelong State Department professional in an amateur administration gets a sudden desire to “spend more time with his family.” Straight arrows who think the job is on the level get in the way of the players.
Undermining his claim to be the champion of blue collar workers, Trump gave his support to giving the fossil fuel giants legal immunity when their workers get sick. The liability shield proposed by Senate Republicans even allows firms to (!) sue their own workers should they seek recompense if they get sick. In the middle of a pandemic.
And speaking of putting workers’ lives and livelihoods in grave danger, Trump’s reelection campaign is suing Nevada over their mail-in voting decision. Having learned nothing from the Jonathan Swan interview, Trump again sat for an interview to publicly defend his decisions, this time for his usual stooges on Fox & Friends, where he basically ignored their friendly questions with lie after lie, some old and some new, very irresponsibly claiming “children are immune” from Covid-19 (they are not), bringing up that absurd “testing creates cases” drivel again, repeating “It will go away like things go away,” the ventilator lie again, lies about India, falsely claiming there was voter fraud in New York, again saying (!) “absentee and mail-in votes are different” (nope) and “Nevada lets anyone vote,” which is utter nonsense, said Germany owed NATO money when it does not, said Obama never mentioned it but he did, told border, tariff and immigration lies, claimed a horrific explosion in Beirut was an attack with no information about it, said Biden is avoiding debates when 3 are scheduled, claimed George Soros funds Antifa because their (!) “nice signs from a high-class printing shop” prove it, perhaps a forgivable lapse given the misspelled and gravy-stained signs he’s accustomed to seeing at his own rallies. And this was not that long of an interview.
And where was his trusted sidekick all this time? The Director of the Coronavirus Task Force, Vice President of the United States and Lord First Admiral of Space Force made it unanimous in the Trump Cabinet by looking the other way and mumbling when the boss loses his mind in public again, when all Mike Pence could say about the week’s mayhem was how (!) Chief Justice John Roberts “has been a disappointment to conservatives.” No one thought to ask the Vice President what the hell that had to do with anything, never mind the life and death crisis that is America right now, that he is supposed to be helming.
Thursday, the mercifully last day of Week #186, saw those of us wondering whatever happened to Jared Kushner’s blockbuster super duper government project to test people for Covid all over the country find our answer. It was very big news early on in the pandemic, until they did some calculations before quietly killing the project. Trump and Kushner made the assessment that Covid-19 was going to stay in Blue States, so only Democrats would die and that was good for Trump’s reelection chances. Or so it appeared, and so they deny, and now the pandemic is everywhere on the map, ravaging Red States and Blue, with the testing still a complete disaster, reinforcing Trump’s conviction that he is Covid-19’s biggest victim, and saving Jared Kushner from actually having to do anything important.
In normal times it’s harder to be criticized for what you do when you do nothing, but these are not normal times and Trump and Kushner have taken the “I don’t take responsibility for anything” mantra to the extreme, with an all-too predictable outcome. As far as responsibility and other States of the Union go, Trump refuses to help any of them recover from the economic disaster of fighting Covid-19 unless their Governors kiss his signet ring. Only Florida and Texas have personally petitioned the President for both relief from paying for National Guard deployments but also direct financial aid, but States whose Governors won’t bend the knee are denied.
It was off to Ohio for Trump, where their Governor, Mike DeWine tested positive for Covid-19 by Trump’s handlers, but later in the day tested negative, making one wonder if the poor quality and reliability of the testing used to protect the President is a serious breach of national security, if Governor DeWine’s second test was the unreliable one, or if this signals a passive attempted coup by Admiral and Mother Pence. If we have learned anything in 4 years, it is that nothing is out of the realm of possibility in the Trump Era.
The State Department thought this would be a good day for lifting its advisory warning US citizens against traveling abroad. Not that anyone wants us, since most of them have us on their shithole country list and won’t allow Americans in for fear of one of us starting a new Covid outbreak, an altogether reasonable assessment given the circumstances.
In a bombshell announcement, New York State Attorney General Leticia James announced she was breaking up the National Rifle Association for fraudulent practices. Registered as a charitable foundation in New York since its founding in 1871, the NRA, according to charges brought by the State of New York, has been run by thieving pirates in suits for decades, with Wayne LaPierre and his 3 top lieutenants using NRA donations as their personal ATM machines to the tune of millions annually, living like decadent royalty on their members’ dime.
Trump naturally went ballistic over this attack on one of his greatest political allies, and immediately condemned “the New York elites” before urging the NRA to break the law and flee the jurisdiction for the badlands of Texas, something they are prohibited from doing while under litigation. Trump should know what happens next, same as what happened to the Trump Foundation. It gets dissolved, its assets redistributed to legitimate charities by the courts, and its principals banned for life from running a nonprofit organization in New York State. That happened to the Trump Foundation and the Trump family while he was President, about a thousand scandals ago.
Another NY judge handed Trump more bad news that day when he ruled that the man who was at that moment saying that (!!) “Joe Biden hurts God,” can in fact be sued by E. Jean Carroll for sexually assaulting her in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman department store, then a Federal judge in Washington dismissed the Republican lawsuit trying to forbid remote voting in the House of Representatives during the pandemic, wishing instead to force every member of Congress to gather close together during an airborne pandemic, even as several of their own have been infected.
There was a shakeup in the State Department again as the Special Envoy to Iran resigned and was immediately replaced by the Special Envoy to (!) Venezuela, signaling a sputtering end to any semblance of formal engagement with Iran, one more indication of a complete lack of foreign policy in the Middle East (Remember Jared’s Middle East peace plan? Neither does the Middle East.). Trump’s Middle Eastern buddy, Saudi Crown Prince Bone Saw was in the news again, this time for sending a hit squad to Canada to kill his cousin, sort of a hobby for the jaunty prince.
And speaking of the powder keg that is the Middle East, we learned that Trump’s advisers and military leaders hesitated to give him military options for every international crisis, fearing he might accidentally take us to war. Not only that, they deliberately informed their counterparts in foreign countries that they did not know what the President would do next. While perhaps setting a bad precedent for future presidents who aren’t crazy, this is at least reassuring that some adults remain in the room.
So we end the week with 160,660 dead, the second round of stimulus talks near collapse because rich men live in fear of poor men who are not desperate and a world where they have to pay for their own 3-Martini lunches, and Trump is taking his cue from Putin by saying we will have a vaccine magically available by election day, when no such thing is going to happen and everyone knows it. In Fauci we trust.