Quote of The Week: “He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.” ~General John Kelly (Ret.), echoing the unanimous impression of every person who ever met Donald J. Trump
Week #197 of the Trump Era begins on Friday with Trump’s staff and cabinet members engaged in a feeding frenzy to enact regulatory changes that will be harmful to millions of Americans, and are in such a huge hurry because they are convinced Trump will be defeated on November 3rd, and they need to be able to claim their own piece of the Trump Era legacy, with the lingering annual body counts that each repealed regulation represents, knowing they will be long out of office when that first freight trainload of highly flammable liquefied natural gas lights up some lucky city’s sky.
Trump held a campaign rally in Ocala, Florida on Friday in an attempt to reclaim the polling lead in a State he thought he had in the bag. Instead of laying out his plan for a second term, he instead made the rally one of his trademark gripe fests, including whining about how unfair the virus is to him and making this bizarre statement, (!?!) “We’re a winner in the excess mortality.” Then he decided to blame Governor Ron DeSantis if he loses Florida, when the man who never jokes said “If we don’t win it, I’m blaming the governor. I’m gonna fire him somehow. I’ll find a way.”
While in Florida, the Trump 2020 Campaign lawyers found the time to do some work for a Congressional candidate aligned with Q-Anon, the batshit crazy conspiracy theory group centered on the notion that (!) a pig farmer and pornographer in the Philippines is a mastermind government insider poised to expose the (!!) Satan-worshipping child rapists that really run America. You know, the people Trump “never heard of,” but is “happy they like me.” Yeah, those fine people.
We also learned that, in the grand tradition of Autocracy, Trump has installed two political operatives (apparatchiks) at the Centers for Disease Control to try to control the information it releases about the coronavirus pandemic as the administration seeks to paint a positive outlook, no matter what the scientific evidence says. They are tasked with “keeping an eye on Dr. Robert Redfield,” the agency director, as well as those over-truthing CDC scientists. Nina Witkofsky and her deputy Chester “Trey” Moelle immediately began sitting in on scientific meetings, even though they have no scientific standing at all, any official titles, or even an office.
The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to take up the validity of Trump’s policy, blocked by a lower court, to exclude people living in the U.S. illegally from the census count that will be used to allocate seats in the House of Representatives, as per the “every person residing in the United States” Constitutional mandate. Aside from the laziness of leaving another job unfinished, an incomplete census can distort federal money allocations for the next 10 years.
Then it was on to Macon, Georgia for another Rally/Pity Party, where Trump whined about the interviewer who sliced and diced him on national TV a few days earlier and gave him the nickname “Crazy Uncle,” one Savannah Guthrie, saying “She was out of line” when she pointed out a lot things Trump has said and done, things that are on public record and happen to be eminently crazy uncle-worthy. That evening his former Chief of Staff, the permanently exasperated John Kelly, confirmed he is even worse than a crazy uncle when he said “The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.”
On Saturday the Trump administration took steps to weaken the Affordable Care Act in a key battleground state, when it approved Georgia’s waiver request to provide Medicaid coverage to certain low-income residents if they work or participate in other qualifying activities for at least 80 hours a month, a ploy that elsewhere has been halted by federal courts or state officials. With only weeks to go until Election Day, and while the Supreme Court arguments are being heard that could determine the Affordable Healthcare Act’s future, Trump tried to gut poor people’s healthcare in the middle of a pandemic in at least one State, presumably just to bask in that feel-good Scroogean glow.
Trump’s crazy new head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr Scott “The Grim Reaper” Atlas, sought to undermine the importance of the general pubic wearing face masks on Saturday, drawing instant rebuke from the entire medical and scientific community for deliberately endangering American lives in order to strengthen Trump’s delusional message that our worries are over because our president feels better after catching Covid-19.
That day’s Superspreader Trump 2020 Tour stop was Muskegon, Michigan, where Trump expressed irritation that Twitter won’t post Rudy Giuliani’s crazy lies, and played to his new target, suburban women, with this pathetic line “Would you like a nice low-income housing project next to your suburban beautiful ranch style house? Generally speaking, no. I saved your suburbs, women, suburban women, you’re supposed to love Trump.”
Then to prove how much he loved Michigan women, he once again viciously attacked their Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, whose own kidnapping and execution was recently foiled by the FBI when they arrested a gang of White Supremacist imbeciles inspired by Trump’s earlier attacks on Governor Whitmer, even leading his crowd in a chant of “lock her up, lock her up!” before he concluded with “lock them all up!”
On Sunday, Governor Whitmer responded to Trump, “You know, it’s incredibly disturbing that the President of the United States, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial and execute me, 10 days after that was uncovered, the President is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci added that he is “absolutely not” surprised President Donald Trump contracted Covid-19, while Trump seemed to be endorsing his rival when he said about Joe Biden, “He’ll listen to the scientists,” before deflating that balloon with “If I listened to the scientists we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression, instead of, we’re like a rocket ship. Take a look at the numbers.”
Well, a quick look at the numbers tells us 225,000 are dead, over 8 million infected, 70,000 new cases a day with 2.6% of the infected dying, tens of millions out of work, hungry and facing eviction, only 1 available ICU bed in a State Capital as regional Covid-119 outbreaks explode in the West, and your opponent outpolling you nationally by 14 points. Those numbers, Mr. President?
Of course Trump could not allow Fauci’s observation to go unmentioned, and on Monday said in a phone interview “If Fauci were in charge. 500,000 would be dead. People are tired of Covid. I have these huge rallies. People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots!”
People would gladly “leave them alone” if not for the trail of infections and death that follow Trump’s campaign like slackers following a Dave Matthews tour.
The Justice Department announced indictments on Monday of six Russian military intelligence officers in connection with major computer hacks worldwide, including of the Winter Olympics and elections in France, as well as an attack in 2017 aimed at destabilizing Ukraine that spread rapidly and caused billions in damage, but curiously remained silent on the ongoing Russian hacking attacks on our November 3rd election, pending a review and spin polishing by the uber-partisan head of National Security John Ratcliffe for later in the week.
That was when the FBI held a press conference announcing that Russia, Iran and China were all active players hacking our November election, but the proceedings were hijacked by Ratcliffe, who made sure that very little actual information was released on how these attacks would be stopped, or even if they would be stopped by anyone other than tech companies and social media executives.
While we learned that the Ghislaine Maxwell case documents were ordered unsealed, including her self-incriminating deposition, Trump studiously ignored any mention of the woman he very recently wished well, opting instead for the bizarre claim that (!) “Biden will cancel the Christmas Season,” calling reporters criminals for not reporting his crazy conspiracy bullshit, and moaning out loud that (!!) “If I had a better Attorney General, Biden would be in jail.”
His apparently inferior Attorney General William Barr made news on Tuesday when he announced that the Justice Department would bring an antitrust suit against Google and its parent company for monopolistic practices, while other government agencies were expressing thanks to Google for exposing and shutting down a multitude of Russian election hackers, perhaps lending credence to the DOJ’s charges that Google was so big it was even doing their job of fighting crime.
None of which mollified Trump, who renewed his attacks on his soon-to-be former Attorney General, when he called on Barr to immediately launch an investigation into unverified claims about Biden and his son Hunter, effectively demanding that the Justice Department bash a sitting president’s political opponent and trash its historic resistance to electioneering. “We’ve got to get the Attorney General to act. He’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption, and this has to be known about before the election.”
The only problem with that being that Barr has investigated the Biden family thoroughly, with the full resources of the Justice Department, and found no wrongdoing, not even an unpaid parking ticket, but Trump remains furious that Barr just won’t get it through his head that leading Trump in the polls is a certain indication of sordid criminal activity.
And speaking of government officials that worked with and hate Trump, Admiral William McRaven, the former head of US Special Operations Command who oversaw the successful raid that killed Osama bin Laden, joined the 500 or so former military officers and senior intelligence officials when he said he is voting for Joe Biden, and so did the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele.
First Lady Melania Trump begged off attending a high-profile interview with “60 Minutes” with Trump, citing “a lingering cough” from her own bout of Covid-19, while another woman in his Administration suffered a setback in her efforts to crush student debtors when a judge scrapped a settlement over the Trump administration’s slow processing of loan forgiveness for borrowers who have accused their colleges of fraud. Ruling that the Department of Education undermined the deal, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said in a sharply worded decision that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos undercut the settlement by denying large swaths of the claims without sufficient explanation.
While we learned that Trump has been concealing poison attacks on American embassy personnel in Cuba, China and Russia, we revisited another embassy misadventure when Hatice Cengiz, the fiancé of slain Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, sued Trump’s pal Crown Prince Bone Saw in US civil court for the murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi inside a Saudi embassy, a crime Trump rewarded by selling Saudi Arabia the means to kill Yemeni citizens by the tens of thousands in their religious war on their neighbor.
While Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell advised Trump not to strike a stimulus deal with the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Trump’s own campaign appeared to need some financial help as cash shortages, unpaid bills, charges of money laundering and rumors of embezzlement on a grand scale piled up, with one veteran Republican campaign operative remarking “You could literally have 10 monkeys with flamethrowers go after the money, and they wouldn’t have burned through it as stupidly.”
And speaking of the Trump campaign being every bit the deadbeat as its namesake, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero ordered the upcoming Trump rally in her city to obey the CDC guidelines for large gatherings or face law enforcement penalties, and to finally pay their bill for their 2016 campaign stop in Tucson before showing their faces again.
Then Trump sat down in the White House for what was to be a solo interview with Leslie Stahl of the enormously popular and influential news program “60 Minutes,” and then one alongside Vice President Pence. Well, that lasted just 45 minutes before Trump stormed out in a snit, whining like a sniffly little boy that she likes Joe Biden best, refusing to return for his segment with Pence.
For his part, the Vice President was able to manfully shoulder the burden and filled his segment alone, nimbly parroting the delusional rantings of his endlessly virtuous and praiseworthy leader, rivaling even the fabled Baghdad Bob for staying on message even as his surroundings crumbled around him.
Funniest part of the 60 Minutes charade was Trump’s Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany presenting Leslie Stahl with a sizable book that Ms. McEnany said was “all that President Trump has done for health care,” and it turned out to be a book filled with blank pages.
The Justice Department, fulfilling its new function as Trump’s personal attorneys, sued the author of a book about First Lady Melania Trump, claiming that Stephanie Winston Wolkoff broke a nondisclosure agreement that barred her from revealing confidential information obtained during her work for the president’s wife, the work in question being the planning of Trump’s inauguration party, the very definition of a public event.
Less pressing to the Attorney General of the United States was the fate of 545 children that the Trump Administration kidnapped and now has lost track of their parents, or the revelation that Trump had a secret Chinese bank account and paid the Chinese government $188,561 in taxes, or $187,811 more than he paid Uncle Sam.
On Wednesday Purdue Pharmaceutical went belly up after having to pay an $8 billion fine for impeding the opioid recovery efforts of countess addicts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws, months after the Sackler family that owned the company looted its treasury of $10 billion for their own personal accounts, leaving the company no other option but to become a public benefit company governed by a trust. The ultra-wealthy Sackler family lost their ownership, but is off the hook criminally and rolling in money, while many of their former executives may face criminal charges.
A man in Maryland was arrested on charges he threatened to kidnap and kill Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, while Trump was busy trashing them both at a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, before telling his crowd that I’m only in this shithole because I am desperate for votes, or words to that effect, the second time that week he let his disdain for his surroundings slip from “inside thought” to “just say it out loud” status, giving the crowds on the rest of his Ronapalooza Tour 2020 something for which to warmly look forward.
Another speech occurred in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, in Philadelphia, one that got the entire nation’s attention when former President and current Ghost-in-Residence inside Trump’s skull, Barack Obama delivered a blistering takedown of Donald Trump, including this: “Can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account? You think Fox News would have been a little concerned about that? They would have called me Beijing Barry!”
The nation swooned at the return of Obama, and with him, linear thought, complete sentences, concise reasoning and the full array of human emotions that the nation will never again take for granted in a President. In the year 2020, normalcy, articulation, responsibility and knowledge are as manna from heaven, eyesight to the blind and an oasis in the desert all rolled into one, as everything our current President is not was embodied by our previous one.
On Thursday, Senate Democrats boycotted the Judiciary Committee’s vote on the recommendation to the Senate on the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney-Barrett to the Supreme Court, forcing the postponement of the proceedings until a quorum was met. That problem was easily overcome by Committee Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham, who simply “waived” (broke) the rule and rubber-stamped the nomination to be sent to the full Senate for confirmation hearings next week.
Trump figured this was as good a time as any for another meaningless Executive Order, this time creating a new classification of “policy-making” federal employees that could strip much of the federal workforce of civil service protections just before the next president is sworn into office, in effect trying to rewrite existing Civil Service law that insures we have a merit-based system where government employees are beholden to no one or have their job security subject to the caprices of partisan politics. This one is headed straight for some judge’s shredder.
After hearing his own intelligence people report that Russia is still the main player in actively hacking the 2020 election on his behalf (again), Trump moaned about Iran trying to help Biden while saying nothing about China getting in on the act, while intelligence officials remained far more concerned about Russia, which has hacked into state and local computer networks, possibly allowing Moscow broader access to American voting infrastructure.
All of which was forgotten by the week’s closing event, the long awaited second and final debate between Trump and Biden, after the last one was cancelled due to Trump’s Covid diagnosis and the first one was turned into a joke by Mary Trump’s crazy uncle going ballistic. This time there were anti-psychotic measures taken when a mute button was installed on microphones to prevent Trump’s constant interruptions and bellicose outbursts that made the first debate so ridiculous.
To everyone’s surprise, Trump was on his best behavior, admittedly a very low bar, and exhibited what was probably his notion of how a normal person behaves, minus of course the part of acting like a normal person that involves not lying every time you speak and not constantly repeating insane conspiracy theories. Every time he spoke he lied, boasted and/or whined, and made exactly no policy proposals for his second term, repeated Giuliani’s latest discredited Ukrainian frame-up of the Biden family, claimed he has done more for Black Americans than any other President with (!!) “Lincoln as a possible exception,” and mocked Biden for appealing to the same American families that Trump has made to suffer for so long and so harshly.
Moderator Kristen Welker did a yeoman’s job of moving the proceedings along, with a judicious use of the mute switch and her withering glare, and her efficiency in effect provided Trump a showcase for his ability to tell crazy stupid lies about every issue, while Biden exhibited deep knowledge of same, and cohesive plans to address every problem.
Then, in response to Biden’s passionate condemnation of Trump’s concentration camps losing track of the parents of 545 children inmates, Trump’s ice cold response was to (a) falsely claim that human traffickers brought the children here when in fact all 545 of them accompanied their parents, then (b) to complain that “no one mentions how well these children are being treated!”
Which is like a kidnapper wondering why his little hostage is still crying for Mommy and Daddy when he gave him all the doughnuts he can eat and bought him a teddy bear.