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General Interest, Politics

WEEK #196 OF THE TRUMP ERA IN REVIEW, FRIDAY, 10/9/20 TO THURSDAY, 10/15/20

Quote of the Week: “I feel so powerful, I’ll walk into that audience. I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience.” ~ President Trump, kicking off the first tour date of Ronapalooza 2020, just days after being hospitalized for Covid-19 and (even more) addled by steroids.

Quote #2 of The Week: “You’re the president, you’re not like someone’s crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever.” ~Savannah Guthrie remonstrating a petulant and childish Trump at his disastrous Town Hall, to which Mary Trump replied “Excuse me!

Week #196 of the Trump Era broke on Friday with 2 crazy, misinformed and portly old coots having a phone conversation live on the radio when President Trump called into the Rush Limbaugh talk radio show for 2 hours, where Trump claimed he was “cured of Coronavirus,” undermined his own team’s negotiating position on the stimulus package, called the Black Lives Matter movement (!) “racist and Marxist,” verbally assaulted a basketball player, a TV show host, a Senator, the current Speaker of the House, the former Speaker of the House, and even his own Attorney General and Secretary of State for not arresting Joe Biden and exposing him as a James Bond villain secretly controlling foreign governments to drain their treasuries in order to finance a vast global conspiracy to make certain that everything is always very unfair to Donald Trump. For his part, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced he would release Hillary Clinton’s infamous emails after his investigators found no wrongdoing.

What the 2 men discussed seemed to make perfect sense to them, and gave the rest of us a welcome learning experience of what it must have been like to be an orderly in Bedlam, with Rush proclaiming the show “a Mega-MAGA Rally” and Trump speed-lying as only he can.

That evening he was scheduled to appear on the Sean Hannity Fantasy Hour on Fox News for a phony “remote medical evaluation” which of course was no such thing, just one more instance of Trump finding malleable quacks with questionable professional bona fides and a gift of gab to mislead the public about his health.

The New York Times could not have helped his blood pressure when they published details of some of Trump’s shady tax-evasion schemes, as per usual involving his perennial codefendant, Deutsche Bank of New York. Tax experts weighed in, characterizing Trump’s financial sleight of hand as anywhere from “highly unusual” to “highway robbery.”

While a judge in Texas prevented Governor Abbot from sabotaging the 2020 election in his State, Trump was rattling cages by declaring he needed to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan in order to get ready to (!!) fight wars with North Korea, China or Russia. Then he issued a proclamation that he will emerge from his Covid-forced isolation on Saturday to make a speech from the White House balcony, to which he invited thousands of “guests,” his latest criminal use of Federal property for political purposes, and yet another highly irresponsible (and illegal) violation of his own Administration’s emergency health regulations.

Saturday gave us a televised debate, not between Joe Biden and the Covid-infected Trump, but between the Covid-tested Jaime Harrison and the man he is trying to unseat in the Senate, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, who refused to be tested after attending the Rose Garden super-spreader event that caused over 30 cases. His refusal to be tested naturally turned the event into twin remote video appeals, with no interaction between the 2 men, which was just as well since Graham felt comfortable enough to dust off his Jim Crow dogwhistles, declaring that (!) “If you’re a young African American or an immigrant, you can go anywhere in this state, you just need to be conservative, not liberal,” and that Black Americans “can go as far as you want to go” in state politics if they have conservative values associated with the state. That lets out almost every Black person in South Carolina.

Then it was time for the Great Balcony Speech, Trump’s long-awaited Mussolini Moment, his adoring crowd cheering beneath the balcony of the White House that was once a global symbol of power and influence. To say the speech and the assembled “crowds” were a carefully-orchestrated political rally would be an understatement, as Trump put the current 15-Minutes of Fame media star, Candace “The Black Karen” Owens in charge of recruiting “spontaneous” crowds of cheering young minorities.

Well, Ms Owens managed to do so, gathering hundreds of paid actors dressed in blue T-Shirts and Brown skin, all of whom looked as out of place at a Trump rally as eyeglasses on a poodle. Which, as it turned out, mattered very little since Trump only lasted 17 minutes. Usually, 17 minutes is not even the length of his introductory boasts, gripes and insults, but his hoarse voice and tentative physical manner limited the amount of crazy vicious lies he was able to spread at his Covid Coming-Out party. Which was just fine with the Blue T-Shirt crowd, eager to get away from the unmasked Deplorables and happy to earn a quick payday in these days of Covid-induced poverty for those in the entertainment industry.

On Sunday Trump ran into another campaign problem when Doctor Anthony Fauci complained that his image and words were being used out of context and without his permission in a Trump television campaign ad. The most trusted man in America explained “In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate. The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.” Fauci insisted the Trump campaign remove the ad, and they responded by preparing another TV ad featuring Fauci.

Then, as Trump bellowed “I’m immune, so the President is in very good shape to fight the battles” and claimed he tested negative without evidence, we learn that his frantic staff only barely managed to prevent him from tearing his shirt off during the balcony speech to reveal a Superman shirt, a bit of theater an amusement-starved nation might have enjoyed.

Monday was Columbus Day, with Trump back out on the campaign trail, as much out of necessity as false bravado. It seems his campaign is too short of cash to pay for enough TV advertising, so he tours the country and relies on the media for free publicity, an old Trump trick and one the media has fallen for again and again. Of course the Ronapalooza Tour 2020 means sacrificing the health and lives of a certain percentage of his supporters in his undisciplined and illegal rallies, but that is a price Trump has proven himself more than willing to pay.

In another blow to Trump’s reelection chances, Microsoft revealed on Monday that it disrupted a massive hacking operation that would be dangerous to the upcoming election if allowed to continue, attacking the electronic infrastructure of States’ electoral systems and designed to change vote tally outcomes as well as “to sow chaos and distrust.” Sowing chaos and distrust in our election is Trump’s only campaign strategy remaining at this point as it becomes clearer and clearer that no one outside his fanatical base wants him back as record numbers of mail-in ballots have been cast and voters are waiting in long lines for early voting, things that do not occur when people are happy with the status quo.

Meanwhile the Senate Judiciary Committee began conducting very rare holiday hearings on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney-Barrett to the Supreme Court, in an effort to rush the process before both Trump and a Republican Senate majority are things of the past. Judge Coney-Barret is seen by Conservatives as an insurance policy against the nation turning left while they are out of power, and by Trump as a ticket to rig a lost election in his favor, destroy heath care in America and outlaw abortion, the last of which would pave the way for Evangelicals to declare him the Second Coming of Christ and President for Life. Senate Majority Leader (for now) Mitch McConnell knows he has the votes to confirm Judge Coney-Barrett, rendering the hearings little more than a show of partisan accusations and countercharges.

Lucky for William Barr, the Senate hearings got all the attention, so when his “Unmasking” investigation unmasked nothing but honest people doing their jobs diligently and came to a close without even a whiff of criminal accusations, Barr declined to even issue a public report of what was supposed to have been the sensational announcement of criminal charges against Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, James Comey, Robert Mueller and Joe Biden, an October Surprise designed to hand Trump the election on a sliver platter and to finally “lock her up.” So much for that.

To add insult to injury, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Trump’s use of emergency powers to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funds for the border wall is illegal, and then 2 main players in the Covid-19 vaccine race halted their testing after alarming illnesses hit test subjects, putting the kibosh on Trump’s last sliver of hope for any positive vaccine news before Election Day.

The hearings on Judge Coney-Barett continued on Wednesday, remaining stagnant in their pattern of the judge being asked important questions and having absolutely no opinions or feelings on any matter asked of her, practically taking the 5th Amendment to avoid answering questions, as if she were a defendant dodging criminal accusations and not a potential Supreme Court Justice revealing her judicial philosophy. The best illustration of the hearings was the note pad that sat in front of Judge Coney-Barrett for 4 days, remaining blank and unblemished by the judge’s impressions. With only 3 years experience as a judge, Ms. Coney-Barrett proved herself a natural at the political skill of the Non-Answer, sporting the sort of beatific smile that always seems to presage the drawing of daggers.

In response to losing a court case that would compel him to hand over his taxes to the New York State Attorney General, Trump appealed to the Supreme Court, hopefully with enough of a delay to have his new Justice tip the scales in his favor.

Also on Wednesday, in response to charges that Trump cozies up to dictators and human rights abusers, one Prabowo Subianto, Defense Minster of Indonesia, arrived in America to meet with top officials at the Pentagon on Thursday. Mr. Prabowo was prohibited from visiting the United States under the past 3 Presidents for Human Rights atrocities committed under his command. Until now, that is, when Defense Secretary Mark Esper decided this was a good time to give this odious man the United States’ seal of approval.

Secretary of Sate Mike Pompeo announced a “review and release” of the Hillary Clinton emails following the collapse of Barr’s “Unmasking” investigation, but denied it was because of Trump’s pressuring him to do so, even as reports surfaced of Trump being furious with Barr and Pompeo for not being any better at ginning up false charges against his rivals than Rudy Giuliani was in Ukraine.

Giuliani, by the way, surfaced once again, this time with phony “proof” of the false charges he leveled against Hunter Biden that got Trump impeached, claimed Covid-19 was “a big nothing,” spewed a mouthful of weird about who-knows-what and, for reasons known only to himself, posted a bizarre video of himself on YouTube doing a crude and insulting mockery of Chinese people, once again admirably fulfilling his unofficial role of Secretary of How Is This Helping, even as we learned on this day that American intelligence agencies warned the White House last December that Russian intelligence officers were using Giuliani as a conduit for disinformation aimed at undermining Biden. Turns out that Rudy being in possession of “Hunter Biden’s laptop” was false and that the “incriminating Hunter Biden emails” were forgeries, obviously the work of a rank amateur, perhaps an older and not very tech-savvy gentleman with an axe to grind…

Then Melania Trump shared something that must have slipped the President’s mind, that their 15 year-old son Barron has also contracted Covid-19, but like herself was recovering with no symptoms. Certainly Trump meant to mention his wife and son contracting a potentially deadly illness, but he was understandably too preoccupied with his own heroic recovery and claims of miraculously renewed vigor to comment on anything other than himself or his reelection campaign.

And speaking of his campaign getting in trouble for using unauthorized images of public figures in a political advertisement, the Trump 2020 campaign committed the ultimate Political No-No when they used Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley in a TV ad without his permission, who then issued this statement. “As a matter of long-standing policy, military service members and federal employees acting in their official capacity may not engage in activities that associate the DOD with any partisan political campaign or elections, candidate, cause or issue.”

In more Trump campaign turmoil, Twitter recently suspended a slew of fake accounts pretending to be Black supporters of President Donald Trump, people who were paid to open accounts and make such phony claims. Twitter’s suspicions were immediately aroused when more than one Black person expressed a positive opinion of Donald Trump, so the counterfeit accounts were unceremoniously deleted.

Then we heard how Trump invited a Who’s Who of elite Wall Street investors and traders (big Trump donors) to a secret White House briefing in early February, informing them of the upcoming deadly pandemic and the economic devastation it would surely cause, giving the ultra-wealthy time to protect and grow their vast fortunes while the public was still being deceived about the deadly dangers headed their way.

Speaking of being deceived, some Americans prefer to remain that way, as Trump supporters at his super-spreader rallies lapped up his stale proclamation that Mexico is paying for his wall, his new theories that masks are useless and herd immunity is the way to go, and that “the pandemic is almost over!” At Wednesday’s stopover, he even resorted to alternately begging for approval (his lifelong quest) with “Suburban women, will you please like me?” and then right to the racist dogwhistle “I saved your damn neighborhood!”

At one point, when asked an uncomfortable question about restoring The American Dream, he rambled on incoherently about “doing great things” and “the best economy ever” before excitedly addressing a man in the crowd, saying “How about that beautiful red hat? Stand up!” Literally pointing at a bright red object to avoid answering a question.

Doctor Fauci responded to Trump’s claim that people wearing a mask can still contract Covid-19 with “That’s sort of like saying somebody was speeding in a car at 95 miles an hour and didn’t get in an accident, so I can go ahead and speed and not get in an accident.”

On Thursday, the final day of Week #196, Covid-19 refuted Trump’s assertion that it is “almost gone” by infecting 62,000 more Americans, our highest number since July, and bringing our death toll to over 215,000 people as it moves, unimpeded by an informed and disciplined population, into rural areas and small towns in all 50 States, places where the loss of a mere dozen lives can devastate entire communities. Individual States and communities, however, are not Trump’s concern, as he proved by turning down California’s request for federal disaster relief from their record-setting forest fires, marking the first time our Federal government refused to respond to a natural disaster on American soil.

Thursday was also the day when the second presidential Debate was scheduled to occur, but Trump’s bout with Covid-19 and his subsequent irresponsible behavior caused the Debate Committee to order it cancelled. Joe Biden moved on with his campaign and booked a Town Hall Meeting on a major network, which is how we wound up with Dueling Town Halls on Thursday night when Trump decided he would have a Town Hall meeting of his own on a competing network in the same time slot. 

The contrast between the two was stunning, with Joe Biden taking questions from voters and having relatively few exchanges with the event’s moderator, George Stephanopoulis. The event was professionally run and the questions crisply answered by a well-informed and prepared Biden, while Trump’s Town Hall featured Donald Trump, with all that entails, with the expected chaos and insane blathering interrupted only by antagonizing his moderator, a young woman with a steel spine named Savannah Guthrie, who deservedly earned broad acclamation for her “Weird Uncle” designation.

And boy did Trump live up to that moniker as he declared that “85% of the people that wear masks catch Covid,” that “ballots with my name on them are being thrown in the garbage,” that (!) “Joe Biden will take away your cars,” before refusing to say whether or not he believed Democrats were running (!!) a satanic pedophile ring (“I have no idea.”) and asked out loud if the Navy Seals lied about killing Osama bin Laden and instead killed “his body double,” without bothering to explain where a body double for the six-foot, six inches-tall Arab was found on the fly in Pakistan, or to apologize to the elite US Navy personnel for accusing them of such dishonesty and a serious breach of their oaths and their honor.

So here we are at the Balcony Speech Stage of domestic affairs, with the world baffled by how this bumbling and staggering giant that is the United States of America has become the world’s laughingstock in just 4 years after occupying a position of respect and admiration for a century.

Crazy Uncle Donald, furious over having lost in his revered TV ratings battle (his only measure of success) to Joe Biden, has moved way past disrupting family holiday dinners with inappropriate and offensive comments, and is now actively planting explosives underneath our chairs.

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