Quote of The Week: “Will you shut up, man?” ~Joe Biden
Quote #2 of The Week: “A legal career is but a means to an end. And that end is building the Kingdom of God.” ~the weird crazy lady Trump picked for the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, aka Michelle Bachman with self-control.
Week #194 of The Trump Era was careening along as usual, like the flaming runaway train it has always been, once again testing our capacity to still feel shock after 3-1/2 years of unrelenting pandemonium. Well, shock us he did for the second week running, in an unbelievably demented debate performance (yet again, even for him), an assault on the senses and an acid test of one’s mental capacity to process raw madness on display, that moment when even his most ardent supporters finally recoiled in that what-have-I-done horror that Dr. Frankenstein had to feel when his monster started slaying any villager who got on his nerves.
And yet, that turned out to be only the second biggest news of the week.
Week #194 of the Trump Era begins on Friday in Statuary Hall in the Capitol Building Rotunda, with the Speaker of The House of Representatives presiding over the solemn tributes to Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, lying in State, featuring moving eulogies by women members of the House, whose abundant presence in Congress was the most powerful tribute to Ginsburg’s legacy imaginable. High-ranking military officers showed up, Joe Biden showed up, Senators, business leaders, celebrities, ordinary citizens showed up and wept, and even Justice Ginsburg’s personal trainer, who dropped down for one last set of pushups with his favorite client.
Who didn’t show up was Trump, McConnell or Lindsey Graham, wary of being showered with boos like Trump had been the day before on the steps of the Supreme Court, and too busy callously scheming to reshape the Supreme Court into a New Inquisition.
We learned Friday of the Department of Justice turning documents over to allies of Trump that appeared to undermine aspects of the 2016 investigation into the campaign’s ties with Russia, supposedly the Michael Flynn trial-fix Trump keeps looking for, even as the FBI stood by the validity and the findings of the investigation that reveals that Russia interfered in the 2016 Election “in a sweeping and systematic manner” on behalf of Donald Trump. The fact that Trump got away with with it is not good enough for him, he wants to rewrite history to blame someone else for his crimes, 38 convictions and a dozen prison terms notwithstanding.
The State Department confirmed the Administration’s policy of erasing criticism of Trump when it reneged on awarding their Courageous Women Award to a Finnish journalist for her work exposing Russian disinformation campaigns at considerable personal risk, after they found out she has also criticized Trump. It seems the real problem here (other than the obvious crass manners and political thuggery) was that the State Department higher-ups are Trump appointees, and as such don’t read past the first few sentences of anything, but that’s a whole other story.
One of Trump’s main cheerleaders was outed by his own TV network as being a frivolous asshole when Fox News had a lawsuit tossed out on the basis that Tucker Carlson is a ridiculous person and habitual liar (sound familiar?), making the legal argument that (!) “no reasonable viewer would think Tucker Carlson is news,” a risky legal maneuver given the dearth of reasonable Fox viewers, but the evidence of Carlson himself was irrefutable. The lawsuit was brought by former Trump lover Karen McDougal for defamation after Carlson accused her of extortion because Trump gave her $150,000 in hush money.
And oh, Friday happened to be the day the USA recorded its highest daily number of new Covid-19 cases, a staggering 59,759 cases, and we are now averaging 43,000 per day, higher numbers than the bad old days of this past Spring.
On Saturday Trump nominated a woman who speaks in tongues for the Supreme Court, Judge (for less than 3 years) Amy Coney Barrett, the intellectual lightweight and religious zealot who said her legal career is but a means to building the Kingdom of God, and views women as subservient baby machines. Take that, 21st Century!
To celebrate Judge Coney Barret’s nomination, Trump held a Rose Garden ceremony that violated every public health protocol his own government has designed, with Republican leadership and our own Secretary of Health Alex Azar parading around maskless and intermingling as if it was pre-Covid days. The Rose Garden was decorated for the occasion, with huge American flags being used as drapes, and (!) dragging in the floor, reminding us that indeed this is a Trump event, which of course he turned into a mini-campaign rally.
Speaking of judges, a Federal judge in Montana has ordered William Perry Pendley, the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, to leave the position after finding that he had served unlawfully as acting director for 424 day (the second Cabinet Secretary recently found by the courts to be serving illegally), and that he has no authority make any decisions regarding Federal lands.
Then it was off to Pennsylvania for Trump, another stop in the Superspreader Tour 2020, where he once again attacked mail in ballots, saying “the election will be a disaster” (well, he’s on the ballot, so…) and threatened to invoke something called a Contingency Vote, a never-used option for when the election results are unclear, whereby the State delegations of the House of Representatives picks the President. While there are more Democratic Representatives than Republicans, the Contingency vote is conducted by Republican or Democratic delegations and not by individual vote, and there are more Red States than Blue.
Then a Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General James Herbert went all Captain Obvious on William Barr with these accusations; “From his misleading summary of the Mueller Report, to his selective intervention in cases against political allies of the president, to his accusation that victims such as George Floyd are being used as mere ‘props’ by those calling for racial justice, to his baseless claims about mail-in ballots, William Barr has done the president’s bidding at every turn.”
And speaking of doing Trump’s bidding, on Sunday Senator Tom Cotton claimed that Biden’s hypothetical nominee for Supreme Court Justice will federally fund abortion (!) “after birth.” He seemed so earnest and convinced that no one had to he heart to tell Tom that all killings after a person is already born were already illegal. Then Trump’s pool boy-adopting flunky Matt Gaetz approached the Florida District Attorney to (!) prosecute politician and multibillionaire Michael Bloomberg for the “crime” of paying millions of dollars to the Florida treasury to satisfy the fines of former felons seeking to vote.
In a rare Sunday court hearing, a Judge dropkicked Trump’s attempt to blackball TikTok and WeChat from American app stores, apparently unsatisfied that Sarah Cooper’s hilariously wicked TikTok videos making fun of Trump going globally viral did not constitute the dire National Security threat one might have imagined after all.
That afternoon, Trump’s high-living former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, recently demoted to desk-filler status, was subdued by police after suffering some sort of mental breakdown, armed with a gun and threatening to do himself in outside the Fort Lauderdale home he is suspected of buying with campaign funds, along with a matching pair of expensive foreign sports cars in the driveway where he was tackled and cuffed. He landed in Broward County Hospital for mental health evaluation under Florida’s Baker Law, and would soon face charges of embezzling $40 million from the campaign, with the suspicion that Parscale is but the inept patsy in a huge money laundering scheme.
Then on Sunday night, what would have been the greatest scandal of any other presidency and rocked the nation, somehow became only the 3rd most shocking story of Week #194. The New York Times got their hands on and released 12 years of Trump’s tax returns, revealing him to be the opposite of the successful guy he played on the TV show that made him famous, and is in reality a fraud with a string of failures of epic proportions and a history of paying less income tax than an undocumented immigrant.
Turns out Trump personally owes $421 million, with the notes coming due between one and four years from now, his businesses are hemorrhaging money, the IRS has a strong $73 million tax fraud case against him for years, and he paid either $0 or no more than $750 in Federal income tax since 2015, or $129,350 less than the price of a porn star’s silence.
After going to extraordinary lengths to keep his taxes secret for years, even appealing to the Supreme Court, naturally Trump wailed like a banshee when an anonymous whistleblower let the cat out of the bag. He cried fake news, Democratic hoax, claimed he paid more than his tax returns plainly said he did, but did not offer to prove the NY Times wrong by providing his own copies. Tearing a page from his ever-impending Health Care Plan rollout, Trump Tweeted on Monday morning “I will release a statement of ‘all properties, assets and debts.’ It is a very IMPRESSIVE Statement, That will be released soon.” Most guesses on “released soon” narrow the likely time frame down to “never.“
Unimpressed with Trump’s claims of financial acumen, the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission on Tuesday accusing the Trump campaign of (!!) laundering $170 million through numerous companies, some with connections to former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, presumably comfortably numb while in custody at a psychiatric ward, and already voted “Most Likely To Take the Fall.”
Trump was at the White House Monday announcing a plan to distribute 150 million rapid coronavirus tests purchased by the Federal government to States, Native America tribes and others in the coming months, while CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield ripped Trump’s new Coronavirus Task Force Director a new asshole, saying about Dr Scott Atlas “Everything he says is false.”
Then Lindsey Graham burst one of Trump’s History Reboot balloons when said on Monday that he was the one who told Senator John McCain to give the FBI the dossier on the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, after years of Trump repeatedly attacking McCain over the issue, even after his death.
On Tuesday, American intelligence officials reported seeing a significant uptick in Russian disinformation about mail-in ballots, coinciding exactly with President Trump escalating his attacks on voting by mail using the exact same talking points. Must be another one of those weird coincidences that keep happening with Trump and Russia.
Tuesday night would be debate night, and Trump was so excited at the prospect that he claimed victory 2 hours before the debate when he Tweeted “I just finished debating Joe Biden.” You know, the guy who Trump says is confused. If anyone was still harboring doubts that Trump is a dangerous madman, Tuesday night gave us Exhibits A though Z as Trump delivered the craziest, aggressively rudest, most out of control and delusional performance of not only his own career, but of anyone imaginable ever, an unraveling of immense dimensions.
It was absolutely stunning to witness, even for a nation long hardened to Trumpshock, with his nearly indecipherable staccato speed-lying avoiding every question, his outrageous repeated interruptions of his opponent and angry exchanges with the debate’s moderator Chris Wallace. It was nothing short of an assault on human behavior and dignity. Joe Biden rebuked him several times as a clown and at one point even said “will you shut up, man! You are the worst President we’ve ever had,” but did manage to keep calm enough to address the American people directly with solid information on his policy proposals in between Trump’s unhinged outbursts.
And this was only the second-most shocking thing of Week #194
On Wednesday we learned of Post Office workers all over the country resisting Postmaster Louis DeJoy’s vandalizing of their work places, refusing to dismantle sorting machines, making sure drug prescriptions and ballots got high priority even as DeJoy tried to slow the US Mail to a crawl in order to help Trump sabotage the November election. Many Postal workers even delivered important mail on their own time, not wishing to be complicit in letting Old Man Johnson drop dead because his insulin got lost in the mail.
Senate Republicans sought on Wednesday to promote Trump’s and AG Barr’s efforts to rewrite the narrative of the Trump-Russia investigation before Election Day, using a hearing with the former F.B.I. Director James Comey to cast doubt on the entire inquiry by highlighting problems with a narrower aspect of it. Comey was uncooperative however, defending the FBI’s motives and integrity, and charging that Barr has repeatedly put the Justice Department’s independence in jeopardy, “When the Attorney General starts acting like the personal lawyer for the president, it threatens that, and that is a priceless thing.”
Also priceless was a Cornell University Study released that day saying “Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and falsehoods seeding the internet on the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump.” This view was confirmed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, responding to misleading claims Trump had made about his scientific advice regarding the wearing of masks: “Anybody who has been listening to me over the last several months knows that a conversation does not go by where I do not strongly recommend that people wear masks.”
On Thursday morning we learned the truth of why the White House became a mask-free zone (and thus a hotbed for Covid infections). Early on in the pandemic, the National Security Council, doing the job it is designed to do, shipped masks and other PPE to the White House to protect the President, his family and key government personnel, but the President decided that masks (!) “would not be a good look” for the White House. Shoe lifts, corsets, orange greasepaint and a yellow fright wig are just fine, though.
Trump thought this would be a good time to defend White Supremacists again, on a day when we learned a bit more about one of their offshoot groups, Q-Anon, a movement so extreme that is is even on the fringes of the fringe Aryan extremist movement, but a group Trump embraced, and thus legitimized, because “they seem to like me.”
You may remember Q-Anon’s entrance into the media spotlight, their unbelievably insane claim that Hillary Clinton was (!!) “running a child sex slave ring from the basement of a pizza parlor,” a proclamation that in pre-Internet days would have remained inside the subway car where it was scrawled instead of gaining popularity among the uber gullible.
Which would have been a questionable but harmless dirty political trick if not for the fact that some nimrod with an assault rifle stormed the place demanding that the children be set free, but the pizza parlor in question didn’t even have a basement, never mind kiddie dungeons and criminal masterminds. Which of course Q-Anon chalked up as the ring getting tipped off in advance and moving locations. Yep, that kind of nuts.
Q-Anon’s website is owned by pig farmer Jim Watkins of the Philippines, a former American GI also known for running websites featuring Japanese pornography, and serving as the face of one of the web’s most notorious sites, 8chan, defending the anonymous message board as a beacon of free speech that somehow becoming a place where some worthies celebrated (!) famous mass murders.
While the Senate Republicans blocked a unanimous vote on a resolution condemning White Supremacy that had just passed the House unanimously, Trump was showing us why they did so when he began once again earnestly chipping away at the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” part of the Emma Lazarus poem, “The New Colossus” when he lowered the number of refugees allowed into the USA to just 15,000 a year. The Golden Lamp is flickering.
And so is democracy, as Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, our second-most populous state, joined Postmaster DeJoy as an accomplice in the 2020 election sabotage when he ordered that there can be only one ballot drop box per county for mail-in ballots, with some counties containing millions of residents and others covering vast open spaces requiring long travel hours to vote. Same guy who tried to order Texans not to wear masks before people starting dying in droves in Houston.
Then to close out the week, on Thursday evening Trump’s personal assistant, Hope Hicks, tested positive for Covid 19, which was big news for about 15 minutes, when it was announced that both Trump and the First Lady also tested positive, a true bombshell to top all the other horrific bombshells of Week #194. The First couple immediately went into quarantine, with Melania so far asymptomatic and Trump experiencing cold-like symptoms.
So, has the President who denied the virus was real, who threatened to remain in office if he loses the election, refused to disavow White Supremacists and openly called on them to intimidate voters, encouraged election sabotage from within and without, nominated a Handmaiden to the Supreme Court and denied the reality that his tax returns have exposed him as a fraud at best if not a felon, has he finally met his comeuppance in Covid-19 just like 205,000 of his fellow Americans? Tune in on Week #195.
The plot thickens.