Quote of The Week: “The American people can have 100% confidence in this election.” – Christopher Krebs, Trump’s own DSA Chief of Cybersecurity, in charge of making sure the 2020 Election was honest, and the guy Trump fired for saying this out loud to the American people
Week #203 of the Trump Era, much like the previous 3 weeks since Election Day, does not so much begin or end, instead folds neatly into the longest and loudest death throes of a mortally wounded buffalo imaginable, the uninterrupted blood-curdling bellows lasting a full month since the mortal blow was delivered on November 3rd.
It was a loss destined to be repeated over 70 times and counting thanks to real life cartoon characters like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as every lawsuit, every bizarre press conference, every phony “hearing” at a Motel 6, and every recount keeps confirming that yes, Joe Biden took Trump’s lunch and his job, and the jig is up.
After January 21st, this dilapidated rollercoaster passing for a presidency stops, and so does the crazy antics of those in Trump’s orbit. All those things we swore in 2017 that we would never allow to become the new normal, but nevertheless became a way of life, will now be over forever. President Biden will not assail our senses 10 times a day with outrageous lies and conspiracy theories. President Biden will not boast about himself endlessly, or whine about how everything imaginable is very unfair to him alone.
Biden won’t dispatch his shady personal attorney to engage foreign powers in illegal American political intrigue. President Biden will not consider half the country to be haters and losers, nor will he make up childish nicknames for respected political rivals, or appoint embarrassingly incompetent political hacks as his Cabinet Secretaries. President Biden will have real plans and formulate actual policies, and emotional public outbursts will once again be returned to their proper owners, toddlers and pop stars.
Nor will Biden begin his weeks in office like Trump began his 203rd Week on Friday, obsessively Tweeting schoolgirl gibberish before disappearing to the golf course while his country exploded with infection and death, his negligence only broken by feverish episodes of active sabotage of the country in order to render it ungovernable by Biden, or anyone else.
Last week we learned that cooler heads in the White House prevailed when his top aides narrowly resisted Trump plunging us into war with Iran by bombing their nuclear facilities, but on Friday Iran’s top nuclear scientist was assassinated in the streets of Teheran, throwing a 55 gallon drum of jet fuel into the already-raging inferno that is the Middle East, a murder eerily similar to a recent joint Israeli/US operation in Iraq, only this time the target was not a terrorist or a military threat, but a scientist, and while both the USA and Israel vehemently deny involvement, the image of murdering science is as inescapably identified with Trump as his elaborate hairdo.
No matter who is or is not the culprit, Biden now inherits another potentially disastrous situation, to accompany a disastrous pandemic that could be at its deadliest peak on Inauguration Day, and a stagnant, dangerously lopsided economy. Friday is also when the country’s most populous county re-instituted strict Covid Stay-at-Home orders in Los Angeles, in a State that California Governor Newsom would shut down before the week was out, locking down 1 in 8 Americans to battle the rising death tolls resulting from an overwhelmed public health capacity nearly unable to absorb more cases.
While letting this news sink in, we learned that before Trump pulled America out of the World Health Organization in the first chaotic months of the pandemic, he presented the world’s most effective public health organization with a list of 7 demands that they could not ethically accept, by no means history’s first instance of science refusing the political yoke.
As if to rebuke science and conservationism in a single blow, Trump decided this was a good day to (!) roll back protections for migratory birds, of all things, those hardy and majestic creatures that fuel our imaginations and who, at last report, don’t have a string of atrocities linked to them that would warrant giving corporations a license to slaughter the inconvenient among them without repercussion, especially after spending years very graphically lamenting the gruesome fates of such birds at the hands of cancer-causing wind turbines, all of which happened and is on tape and, no, you can’t make this stuff up.
What you can make up, however, and what Trump’s “Elite Strike Force” of a legal team has made up, is a stunning array of insane conspiracy theories, unsworn hearsay spun into invisible “evidence,” masquerading as election fraud charges being laughed out of scores of courtrooms nationwide, right up to Federal Appeals and State Supreme Courts, just so the higher echelons of the judiciary can get in on the fun of dropkicking Trump’s presidency high and far.
As undaunted and on-message as the fabled Baghdad Bob in the face of certain calamity, Trump began issuing Royal Edicts via Twitter, declaring he won’t let Biden enter the White House until he can (!!) prove his votes (all 80 million of them?) were real, the equivalent of asking Black voters in the Jim Crow South to sign their names on wax paper or guess the number of jellybeans in a jar before they could vote.
Behold: “Biden can only enter the White House as President if he can prove that his ridiculous ’80,000,000 votes’ were not fraudulently or illegally obtained. When you see what happened in Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia & Milwaukee, massive voter fraud, he’s got a big unsolvable problem!” Then he declared “I think it’s not right that he’s trying to pick a Cabinet,” which is pretty much the job description of a President Elect.
On Saturday, there were rumblings of a mutiny in the ranks at the Environmental Protection Agency over the wholesale removal of regulations designed to save American lives and avoid poisoning our environment for future generations, which is exactly the mission of the EPA. Lucky for America, Trump’s strategy of appointing enemies of the government to run the agencies they hate the most (see: DeVos, Education) ran into the reality of people whose personal makeup, sworn oaths and training compel them to do what is right and good in the service of their country.
Speaking of selfless and dedicated service without regard to politics, that can get you fired in the Trump Era (see: Christopher Krebs, Alexander Vindman, Marie Yovanovich, et al) and, in the case of Carter Page and thanks to William Barr, it can get you sued.
Yes, Barr’s bogus investigation of the Russia investigators of 2016 has prompted one of Trump’s sleaziest political operatives, Carter Page, to sue the FBI for catching him in the act of colluding with Russia. Or rather, of catching him in the act of colluding with Russia in a slightly improper way, or perhaps for catching him in the act of colluding with Russia without anyone saying “Simon Says,” that’s for yet another Federal Judge to laugh out of yet another Federal Court in the near Federal Future.
As far as the near future is concerned, Trump pondered Inauguration Day on Saturday. No, not contemplating his own attendance at Biden’s inauguration to do his part in our democracy’s most solemn ceremony, the handing off of the baton in the peaceful transition of power we have celebrated for 244 years, but whether or not to to (!) hold a competing rally on Inauguration Day to announce his 2024 run for the White House, envisioning 4 solid years of doing his favorite thing ever, running for President, in packed arenas and selling piles of merchandise in the process.
Of course such reveries are constantly interrupted by visions of State of New York Attorney General Leticia James and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. holding press conferences about the multitude of criminal charges committed against the State of New York by Trump and his 3 grown children, said voluminous criminal cases having long been prepared, and far beyond the reach of Presidential pardons.
Then it was back to Operation Sabotage Biden when the head of another Trump operation, one Moncef Slaoui, who is running the race for the vaccine called Operation Warp Speed, told reporters he has been instructed by the White House “not to share vaccine information with the Biden team.” Perhaps the thinking there is that the lives this decision is sure to cost will be on Biden’s watch, not his own, and so do not matter.
Then we learned that Jared Kushner and a few White House aides were heading to to Saudi Arabia and Qatar on “a presidential mission,” leaving us wondering what other fresh fuckery in the Mideast is afoot now.
Trump sought refuge with a new set of Fox News stooges after he gradually wore out his welcome with most of his dim bulb enablers there when he was interviewed on something called “Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures,” where he accused the Department of Justice and the FBI of being “missing in action” in his war on the will of the people, then intimated that he intends to (!!) “fight on past Biden’s inauguration.”
He also claimed “many world leaders” have supported his insane claims of election fraud, when in fact most of them very publicly congratulated President Elect Biden after witnessing millions of their people spontaneously dancing in the streets of word capitals in joyous celebration of Trump’s defeat, images of international solidarity and joy not seen since VJ Day ended World War 2, and captured on every TV screen, newspaper and mobile device on the planet.
Inhabiting a parallel (and very different) universe was Trump and his increasingly smaller circle of diehard loyalists, who he spoon-fed these insane lies: “many mailmen are in trouble for selling ballots… They cheat, and they cheat like crazy… They stuffed the ballot boxes… People were not allowed to vote… and this lustrous gem: “They found ballots under rocks.”
The last word on election security, however, was delivered on Sunday night during a 60 Minutes interview when Christopher Krebs described the Federal Government’s Election Security Team that Krebs assembled and directed from his position at the Department of Homeland Security and in close coordination with every Federal Agency and the Boards of Elections of every State of the Union, and no foreign, domestic or internal interference penetrated the system on any level. The hard lessons of 2016 were successfully applied and the result was that the 2020 Election was “the most secure in American history.” Krebs added emphatically on Sunday: “The American people can have 100% confidence in this election.”
On Monday, Joe Biden continued to announce policy goals and to unveil his Cabinet, a polyglot crew having little in common but expertise, integrity and a suspicious lack of private agendas, with not a single one of them being a sworn enemy of the government before taking an oath to serve it, a curious personnel option that may take some getting used to.
Meanwhile, a true Trump-style appointee resigned on Monday when Dr Scott “Herd Immunity” Atlas resigned his post as Chief Advisor to the President on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, a disastrous 4 months during which he promoted quack science to answer a deadly pandemic and at one point even condoned (!!!) infecting every person in the United States with Covid-19, killing untold millions in the process.
Trump thanking Dr Atlas for his service was like congratulating the navigator of the Titanic for maneuvering past Ireland, but with no trace of irony or humor in the Trump White House, we settle for another transparent sendoff of another expendable pawn. Unless Donald Trump is an even better straight man than the great Bud Abbot, the White House is a pretty grim place, devoid of laughter. The odds of having a chuckle with the likes of Trump, Steven Miller, William Barr or Melania seem remote at best.
On Tuesday, Trump advisor and television entertainer Sean Hannity advised the President to pardon himself and his family “to avoid a witch hunt,” something Trump and his White House staff would soon be discussing in earnest, along with one for Rudy Giuliani, who’s just crazy enough to make Trump look like a cosmic joke, but not crazy enough to forget where all the bodies are buried. “Pre-emptive Pardons” is the working title here.
Bill Barr returned Trump’s favor of a day or two earlier by throwing him under the bus for a change, declaring publicly that “the Justice Department has not uncovered voting fraud at a scale that could have affected the results of the presidential election.” He added “FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but they’ve uncovered no evidence that would change the outcome of the election.”
Barr is perhaps calculating that getting fired by Trump is the only way to erase from his résumé the black stain of his tenure as Trump’s Attorney General, an odious reputation he earned by doing things like he did on Tuesday, giving extra protection to the prosecutor he appointed to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe that culminated in the Mueller Report, bestowing on US Attorney John Durham the authority of a special counsel to complete the work without being easily dismissed by Biden’s Attorney General, a dead-end quest for criminal activity on the part of the FBI that has already been investigated and dismissed as baseless by every single intelligence and law enforcement agency.
Then Trump threatened to veto a defense policy bill unless it ends protections for internet companies that shield them from being held liable for material posted by their users (bad things about Trump, end of objectionable content) which, ironically, would put Twitter on the hook for criminal and/or civil liability when Trump’s own lawyer called for Christopher Krebs to be shot and killed.
Tuesday was when the Vaccine Advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted 13-1 to recommend that health care workers and residents of long term care facilities be first in line for coronavirus vaccines once they get emergency authorization from the FDA, without even having the loyalty and decency to formally thank President Trump for not abolishing science altogether.
Then the evening ended with another dagger in the back to Trump by William Barr, when the Justice Department announced it had broken up a “Pardon For Pay” scheme involving wealthy “Federal inmates” bribing “highly-placed Administration officials.” While DOJ officials did indicate that “there is no evidence of the President’s involvement,” it was added that “we cannot comment further on a still-pending investigation.” (translation: ‘Rudy’s not the only one with a map of the graveyard, Donnie Boy! – your pal, Bill’)
And speaking of recipients of Trump Pardons, the recently pardoned Michael Flynn showed Trump that he made the right choice when Flynn publicly reaffirmed his loyalty. Not, not to the America he was convicted of betraying to Russia, silly, but to Donald Trump, when Flynn re-posted a message on social media that urged Trump to declare “limited martial law” while “temporarily suspending the Constitution” and holding a new, do-over election, this time (!) “supervised by the military,” then adding his personal touch; “Freedom never kneels except for God.” And, presumably, Trump.
While we learned that Trump is conducting an attempted purge of the Pentagon since firing Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, attempting to install Trump loyalists in a Pentagon that will be Trump-free in less than 2 months, we also learned that his son Donald Jr, who has no official standing at all, is included in Jared Kushner’s official mission to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Trump Junior can only be representing either the Trump Organization or the Trump Election Campaign, neither of which can legally conduct business with a foreign power on such a mission.
Then came horrible news from the the Immigration and Naturalization Service of a severe outbreak of influenza in Trump’s refugee concentration camps that is killing many of his child captives, since no one thought them important enough to immunize with a simple flu shot, their plight practically ignored behind the headlines about Covid 19 and the staggering numbers that saw 195,695 new cases, over 100,000 hospitalized and 2,733 dead on Wednesday alone, and our numbers of infected skyrocketing past 14 million.
Truly this was one of those historical moments crying out for a serious Presidential address, a crisis when a leader seizes the moment and faces his people to speak painful truths about the shared dangers ahead, and to reaffirm our mutual resolve to work together as one people to conquer our mutual enemy. But hell, who are we kidding?
This is Donald J. Trump we’re talking about, the Reality TV President, and what we got was a 46 minute monologue that was so bonkers, so un-newsworthy and embarrassingly self-revelatory that few news outlets would broadcast it.
Calling it “maybe the most important speech I will ever make,” it was a Facebook video tour of his parallel universe, an all-out assault on the outcome of the election he lost, by what he claimed were “Dark Forces” (no, not Black voters but, yeah, them too), promising to show his evidence “soon” (kinda like his Schrödinger’s healthcare plan), using meaningless charts and graphs, laying out a carefully calibrated list of insane lies, describing events that never happened and quoting imaginary people, revealing a universe that is not only very unfair to Trump, but is constantly conspiring against him.
Which is not altogether an unreasonable assumption to Trump’s way of thinking, given his unbroken string of failures that are always someone else’s fault and a life literally built on lies, all of which finally culminated in the entire world dancing in the street at the news of his downfall. During a pandemic, no less. By any measure, that’s one darned effective conspiracy, successful even in these Covid days of being forced to use Zoom meetings to set its anti-Trump agenda.
On Thursday, as if we needed another reminder that this is still the year 2020, a series of destructive cyberattacks were launched worldwide by unknown cyberterrorists, aimed at the companies and government organizations that will be (!!) distributing Covid-19 vaccines all over the world, potentially crippling the world’s response to the pandemic, particularly in poor and/or remote countries.
Then Dr Anthony Fauci, who Joe Biden has already asked to stay at his job, rang the fire bell when he made a forceful and passionate plea to every American to cancel all holiday travel plans and celebrate with only household members, since the Winter surge of the virus is very real and will explode infections beyond our ability to save lives if we ignore scientific advice. He implored all of us to remain masked and socially distanced in every situation outside our homes where other people are present, particularly indoors.
Of course the Trump Administration only heard the phrase “ignore scientific advice” from Fauci’s dire warning, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent out (!) 900 invitations to a State Department holiday party in an enclosed space, which is 890 more than are allowed to gather by Trump Administration Emergency Health Regulations. Lucky for Pompeo (and not so lucky for his guests), those regulations do not apply to Federal property.
Meanwhile, Trump plans upwards of 20 holiday events, starting with this day’s party for the unveiling of Melania’s final Fahking Kreesmas decorations, with none of these White House affairs expected to require masking or the practice of safe social distancing. Trump’s Superspreader Events have become a macabre game of Russian Roulette for the rich, even more so as his power fades and the I-don’t-give-a-fuck-anymore factor increases geometrically.
Speaking of not giving a fuck, Trump ordered the Bureau of Land Management to begin selling oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska in early January, part of Trump’s last-ditch effort to allow drilling there. The Bureau said the sale would take place on Jan. 6, following the publication next Monday of a notice of sale in the Federal Register, requiring a 30-day comment period before the cutting of Paradise into digestible chunks can commence.
While Rudy sunk to even lower lows in the Phony TV Hearing Department, this time featuring as his most prominent witnesses two absolutely hilarious Drunk Housewives of Pennsylvania and introducing a strange young lawyer with phony credentials named Jenna Ellis (and once again handing the Saturday Night Live writing staff free material), the Department of Justice gave the boot from DOJ premises to President Trump’s “personal legal liaison to the White House,” sent there to report on Barr’s progress in uncovering the election fraud that does not exist.
For the record, American Presidents don’t get to have “personal liaisons” to the Department of Justice, legal or otherwise.
President Elect Joe Biden, who promised to reunite the imprisoned refugee children with their “lost” parents as a top priority, ended Week #203 by asking every American to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his Presidency, while many of us are seriously considering the option of adding a blindfold and earplugs to our masks for the 46 remaining days of The Trump Era.