Quote of the Week: “It’s morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money.” – W.C. Fields, in “Never Give A Sucker An Even Break.”
Quote #2 of the Week: “The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away.” – Tom Waits
Week #200 of the Trump Era began on Friday with spontaneous dancing in the streets in thousands of American cities and towns, and all over the world, immediately following the announcement that Joe Biden was indeed confirmed to be our next president. Church bells rang in Paris, dozens of foreign capitals burst out in song, and the entire world sang and danced as one for the first time since VJ Day marked the end of World War II, 75 years ago.
Even Trump’s American opponents and harshest critics were astounded at the size and passion of the global celebrations, most notably in those nations that suffered disaster after disaster after Europe’s failure to defeat Fascism in time to avert the global catastrophes of the 1930s and 1940s, serving to underscore the fact that the identity of the US President is a crucial factor in the relative stability of world affairs, and the world is only as stable as its leadership. The toppling of a madman before he can do irreparable harm is reason enough for a planet to rejoice.
Here in the USA, however, Trump was doing his level best to rob Americans of our joy and collective sigh of relief, shrieking like a stuck pig about election fraud and “cheating Democrats,” refusing to concede he lost the election and insisting he won’t leave office. Anyone who has ever had to drag a child home from a playground can relate to the President’s tantrum, but unlike toddlers, when presidents run amok and lose their little minds, no government business gets conducted while a deadly pandemic rages out of control as new cases and unnecessary deaths skyrocket.
One particular new case that made news when it was announced on Friday was Trump’s latest victim, his own Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, something the White House initially tried to keep a secret, as secret as Trump’s schedule since the election, hunkered down in the White House and keeping eerily silent to the press, making no public appearances since Election Day, an eternity for President Spotlight.
Instead, Trump let his Tweets do his talking, everything from firing the Secretary of Defense via Twitter to making numerous insane allegations about the election, claiming victory, issuing threats and dispatching lawyers on fool’s errands to try to upend the most closely-examined American election ever held. Joining Meadows in the Trump Circle Covid Club was Representative Matt Gaetz (a ‘confirmed bachelor’ in the parlance of a more genteel age), who is also suspected of “not keeping any social distance” between himself and his adopted teenage son.
After more than a year of Trump shrieking about how the 2020 Election would be rigged against him if he lost, every Board of Elections and every single poll worker in every State of the Union were hyper-motivated to do this one not only as strictly by the book as usual, but to absolute perfection, in spite of the twin disasters of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the Federal Government throwing roadblocks in their way by trying to dismantle the Post Office itself. And deliver they did, the States taking their methodical time, counting every vote, knowing the eyes of the world (as well as poll watchers and security cameras) were upon them. Trump himself even hired an independent election-monitoring group, which reported an honest election and rebuked him for being a whiny sore loser asshole who needs to stop breaking the furniture and go away. Or words to that effect.
And speaking of breaking the furniture, the Trump administration purged the leadership of three Federal agencies that oversee important stuff like (!) the nuclear weapons stockpile and electricity and natural gas regulation; Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Agency, Bonnie Glick, deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and Neil Chatterjee, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission were inexplicably removed from office, while the Pentagon went about tampering with the balance of power in the Middle East, always a recipe for potential disaster, when they decided to sell 18 armed drones to the United Arab Emirates for $2.9 billion, part of a larger $10 billion arms package, on top of the 50 F-35 jets already negotiated, instantly making the UAE a major military player in a region already steeped in volatile macho militarism equipped with high-tech death machinery.
For good measure, another scientist got fired from the Administration that day. Michael Kuperberg, executive director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, who was responsible for the National Climate Assessment, just never seemed to grasp the concept of Advanced Alternate Explanations, and whom everyone knew to be “extremely sciencey” and “inflexible” in his messaging.
The world celebration revved into overdrive on Saturday, typified by the masked and Covid-distanced dance parties in Times Square and in front of Trump Tower, while the President was driven through a dance marathon right outside the White House, so he could take to the golf course rather than face the music of the official announcement of his certain defeat, an event most of humanity was earnestly celebrating, in spite of a pandemic.
Talk about your “you know you’re unpopular when… “ moments.
Then, that gift that keeps on giving, Rudy Giuliani, proved once again that he will always be remembered for providing some of the most surreal and disturbing episodes of what has been one of history’s strangest eras. It seems that America’s Night Mayor announced an afternoon press conference promising to reveal evidence of voter fraud at “the Four Seasons in Philadelphia,” a famous luxury hotel, according to a White House Tweet. Shortly thereafter, after The Four Seasons Hotel said this was news to them, another Tweet clarified the location as (!!!) The Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a garage in a dirt yard on a gritty industrial block at the outskirts of the city, right next to a porno emporium and across the street from a crematorium, a block where presumably you can fuck off, die, and hire a landscaper to tend your grave.
The only other group of people holding press conferences in such settings are generally homicide detectives seeking help from the public in identifying the headless bodies someone dumped there the night before.
Fittingly enough, Rudy’s first featured “witness,” one Daryl Brooks, was a self-appointed “poll watcher,” and also happens to be a man who went to prison in the 1990s for displaying his own pole to little girls. This august gentleman claimed about the Philadelphia counting rooms; “They did not allow us to see anything. Was it corrupt or not? But give us an opportunity as poll watchers to view all the documents, all of the ballots.”
The nefarious reasons why Pennsylvania officials did not share all that much with the poll-watching Mr. Brooks? He’s not from the State, but lives and votes in New Jersey. When a convicted sex offender from out of State is your best shot, suffice to say that Rudy did not win the day, unless of course you count Guinness World Book entries for the weird and disturbing, or episodes of “Believe It Or Not.”
That evening, Joe Biden addressed the nation for the first time as President-Elect of the United States. As gracious a winner as Trump is a sore loser, Mr. Biden hardly mentioned Trump, but spoke commandingly and calmly about healing, inclusion and a rededication to science, an unassuming man who will soon be assuming the incredible burden of gaining control of the pandemic Trump keeps making far worse than it had to be, and of repairing the monumental damage on every level possible that he has inflicted on this country for 4 years.
One Sunday, former President Bush formally congratulated Biden, joining only a tiny handful of Republicans that have done so, as they wait for Mount Trump to stop erupting and threatening vengeance on anyone even thinking of looking for a new job or congratulating Joe Biden, while America nudged past 130,000 new Covid cases a day.
Trump was back to work on Monday, not at being President and conducting the people’s business, or finally formulating a plan to fight the Rona, but doing what he does best, launching another confidence scheme.
Knowing he has his followers right where he wants them, convinced (and infuriated) that the Democrats are stealing the election, Trump is squeezing one last Presidential Payday out of his marks by launching a “Leadership PAC,” a different category of political action committee, nominally a PAC engaged in Legal Defense fundraising donations, but with loose rules allowing Trump to divert said donations to paying down his campaign’s mountainous debts after The Trump 2020 Campaign foolishly squandered billions and was accused of running an international money laundering operation.
The fine print on the donation form reads like the side effects warnings on magazine medicine ads, this time telling donors than any donation (!) less than $8,000 goes to (!) paying Trump’s debts, and so does a percentage of the donations over the 8k mark go to debt service too, so how much goes to any “Election Legal Defense Fund” is anyone’s guess. There’s one born every minute…
Perhaps some of their hard-earned will find its way to lame duck Congressman, failed Senate candidate and long-time Trump Pit Bull Doug Collins, who will “lead the Georgia recount,” in spite of him having no standing or authority to do so, what with each individual State being in charge of their own electoral processes with no Federal oversight for 240 years without a hitch.
The Leader of The Free World chimed in when German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly congratulated President Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris, speaking highly of a man she already knows and trusts, and expressed both her own country’s and the European Union’s eagerness to work with the new Administration, tactfully refraining to mention the ongoing World Party ignited by Trump’s defeat.
Unwilling to admit that stinging defeat, Trump responded by firing Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who fell out of favor with Trump for refusing to deploy American troops against civilians this past Spring, or to station armed soldiers at polling places on Election Day, and well as his Chief of Staff and senior deputies, replacing them in acting roles with inexperienced Trump loyalists, including the crazy Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata (Ret.), who promotes fringe conspiracy theories and calls Obama a terrorist, raising alarm bells in the military and intelligence communities that Trump was leaving America very vulnerable and possibly planning a coup against President Elect Biden.
Biden spoke that day, telling us that the top priority will be the containment of Coronavirus, and named his Covid Advisory Board, led by Dr. Rick Bright, one of the world’s top 2 or 3 virologists and a man fired by Trump for excessive candor while at the CDC. Biden is moving forward with his plans and forming his team in spite of Trump denying him the legal and mandatory official transition process.
In a normal Presidential Transition, the General Services Administration provides the President Elect’s Transition Staff a $9 million budget, computers, office space and access to government databases, during which time they interface with experts from every agency for extensive briefings on the current situations facing each. Biden has a 500 member Transition team already assembled and working to learn the ins and outs of what is the largest and most complex organization in existence, the US Government.
Only problem is that Trump ordered the head of the GSA to deny Biden’s team the funds, the facilities and the access required, on the grounds that he really won the election, and Biden’s team is working where they can.
Attorney General William Barr, who never met a Trump crime he didn’t love, got the Justice Department involved in Trump’s attempts to subvert the results of the election when he told Federal Prosecutors to investigate “credible allegations of voter fraud,” of which there have been so far approximately zero, causing the Justice Department official who oversees investigations of voter fraud, Richard Pilger, to resign within hours in protest of this unethical power grab.
Mitch McConnell met with Barr that afternoon and, in what appeared to be a coordinated strategy, made a speech on the Senate floor later that day in support of Trump’s legal challenges to the election results, the same behavior that got Trump’s Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany cut off by, of all sources, Fox News, for “disseminating false information” when she tried to repeat Trump’s lies about illegal votes being cast and Trump ballots being destroyed or “deleted” by a certain brand of voting machine (not the ones his daughter Ivanka imports from China).
CIA Director Gina Haspel also met with William Barr for reasons unknown, but it is unlikely he found in her an ally to his cause since both she and current FBI Director are rumored to be in line to get fired for, among other things, insisting on reporting only the criminal activity they uncover and not the imaginary crimes of a delusional president (so unsporting!), and stubbornly standing by their assessments that the greatest imminent threats to national security are the White Supremacist terrorists that Trump has made household names.
On the heels of learning that HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who is a doctor, and Trump Defense Team legal advisor David Bossie, who is (!) not a lawyer, or even a college graduate, both tested positive for Covid-19 after attending Trump super-spreader events, we got the exciting news that a vaccine developed by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals has been testing 90% effective in a trial of 40,000 volunteers, and might be available as early as January of 2021 for first responders and our most vulnerable citizens, with mass vaccination a possibility for the entire country before next year is out.
This encouraging development was of course mentioned by President Trump. No, not expressing profound relief that the deep suffering and death in our country finally has a possible end in sight, perhaps thanking the brilliant scientists, or bonding with his countrymen in the joy of the moment after a year of a ravaging pandemic but, as we remind ourselves for the about the bazillionth time, that guy ain’t our President anymore.
Nope, what we got was Trump making the deaths of nearly a quarter of a million Americans all about himself when he moaned that Pfizer purposely delayed their announcement until after the election to make him lose, when in fact, for Pfizer to have done so before the data lined up would be reckless, if not criminal. “Reckless and criminal,” however, is basically a Trump biography subtitle waiting to happen.
Which brings us to some senior lawyers at Jones Day, one of the country’s largest law firms, who are engaged in Trump’s attempts to have the legal system negate our electoral system, who are worried that they are “advancing arguments that lack evidence” and “may be helping Mr. Trump and his allies undermine the integrity of American elections.” Once again it needs to be pointed out that “lacking evidence and undermining the integrity of American elections” are also Trump calling cards. At another large firm retained by Team Trump, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur out of Columbus, Ohio, lawyers have held internal meetings to voice similar concerns about their firm’s election-related work for Trump and the Republican Party.
First Lady Melania Trump earned loyalty points by refusing to meet with incoming First Lady Jill Biden, while her husband tried to keep his grip on the reins of the Republican Party with his new PAC, “Save America,” and one of Trump’s former bitches, the volatile Turkish President Recep Erdogan, echoed Chancellor Merkel’s congratulations and warm welcome to Biden and Harris, sort of shoving it up Trump’s ass as their tempestuous and complex relationship comes to as poor an ending as that of Trump and Stormy Daniels, and represents a potentially far greater monetary cost to Trump than the $130,000 he shelled out to part ways with Ms Daniels, since revenue from Turkey represents a large part of Trumps tax(dodge)able income.
While Trump was instructing his staff to proceed with their work on next year’s budget, due in February (when the next Federal Budget will be submitted by President Biden), all 50 States were reporting that there were no instances of voter fraud, while the Senate Judiciary Committee was still trying to discredit the Mueller Report by having former FBI Director Andrew McCabe testify about the 2016 Russia Election interference before the Senate’s already discredited “Investigation of The Investigators” (by, among many other agencies, a DOJ Inspector General’s report that found that “the F.B.I. had sufficient reason to open the Russia investigation and that investigators acted without political bias in doing so.”).
McCabe was not intimidated, and echoed the legal findings of every investigator who looked into the case when he told Senator Lindsey Graham and his assembled minions “Let me be very clear: We didn’t open a case because we liked one candidate or didn’t like the other one. We didn’t open a case because we intended to stage a coup or overthrow the government.”
On Wednesday, Veterans Day, Trump made his first public appearance since the election, a Photo Op at Arlington National Cemetery, killing a big 10 minutes before ducking back in out of the rain. Also on Wednesday, we established a new average for daily Covid cases at 140,000, with a steady 900 deaths a day and 64,000 Covid hospitalizations, while yet one more of Trump’s inner circle tested positive for the disease, White House political affairs director Brian Jack, as well as Trump campaign advisor Corey Lewandowski, who contracted the virus while attending Rudy’s Four Seasons fiasco.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went on record as supporting Trump’s attempted usurpation by telling reporters “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” and by having his State Department withhold congratulatory messages to President Elect Biden from various world leaders, refusing Biden even the time of day.
On Thursday the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency addressed Trump’s claim that compromised voting machines “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide,” directly contradicting the President by declaring flatly that the 2020 Election “was the most secure in American history” and that “there is no evidence” any voting systems were compromised.
Then Biden was declared the winner in Arizona, pushing his Electoral College vote tally even further out of reach from Team Trump’s feeble legal flailing. Trump’s supporters, infuriated that they are being mocked and laughed at on Facebook for believing Trump’s insane lies about the election being “stolen,” flocked to join something called Parler, a social media platform swiftly earning a reputation as “Facebook for White Supremacists,“ and a place where (!) Saudi Nationalists call virtual home, whatever it may be that being a Saudi Nationalist entails.
Trump is still holed up in the White House, still doing no work outside of Rage Tweeting and declaring himself the victor in a race be lost by 5 million votes, PPE is again growing scarce in the nation’s hospitals, no Federal response to the virus or the economic devastation it has wrought is forthcoming. It appears as if Trump’s final 9-1/2 weeks in office will be every bit as chaotic and irritating as his first 200 Weeks. Brace yourselves.