Week #205 of The Trump Era opened on Friday with the best news of the day being that the Trump Era would be over in just 38 more days. Of course, much like Dog Years, every Trump Day seems like 7 of them. Seven chaos-filled days of trauma and destruction as Trump tries desperately to squeeze the neck of the hour glass to prevent those last few grains of sand from sliding through and marking the very last moment of anyone giving a damn about Donald J. Trump and his petty neuroses.
As the nation digested the sobering figure of 3,110 Covid deaths the previous day, the Food and Drug Administration sat in emergency session to approve a promising vaccine from Pfizer Pharmaceutical while President Trump Tweeted in the 3rd Person, demanding credit for the work of an international team of scientists with (!) “Donald Trump must get the credit for the vaccines. It is a miracle.” Then he had his Chief of Staff call the FDA director to demand his resignation if he did not approve the vaccine.
While that snarky Reality TV style “you’re fired” threat didn’t help matters, the FDA did approve the Pfizer vaccine that day and a light suddenly shined at the far end of our dark tunnel, as UPS and Fed-Ex split the country in half at the Mississippi and began delivering millions of doses of the 2-part vaccine.
The day’s second biggest headline was a unanimous Supreme Court putting the final nail in the coffin of Trump’s attempted coup against President Elect Biden when they took one look at the submitted briefs from the State of Texas, the District Attorneys of 17 other States and Trump’s own legal team, the self-named (!) Elite Strike Force, and issued another short snub, barely 2 curt sentences, the equivalent of a dismissive grunt coming from the usually voluble Supreme Court.
On Saturday, Trump responded to this defeat exactly like the Black Knight in the famously hilarious scene from the movie “Monty Python and The Holy Grail,” when the completely overmatched swordsman grew more and more belligerent with each limb that gets hacked off by his opponent, until he’s just a shouting torso, when his first Tweet of the day was “WE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!” (there is no Supremer Court, so…), followed by “The Supreme Court really let us down. No Wisdom, No Courage!”
We gained a little insight into the swift thumbs down of every Supreme Court Justice when we found out on Saturday that 2 US States that do not exist tried to join the lawsuit to invalidate the votes of four states that do exist. Entities calling themselves (!) “New California State” and (!!) New Nevada State” filed a brief to the Supreme Court in the case Texas brought against Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, asking the Court to throw 20 million votes into the dumpster.
The amicus brief for the fake states was filed by one Robert E. Thomas III, who excuses this bizarre buffoonery by explaining the movement is rooted in the (!) “Founding Fathers’ fear of democracy,” saying “we ought to be a Republic.” These are “new states in waiting,” he explained as if he were a regular person and not a batshit crazy fringe extremist, and that “each was a registered 501(c)(4) organization attempting to form a new State using the proper Constitutional process.” Then the man who made such a claim accused States like Pennsylvania of administering their elections in a way that was “arbitrary and capricious.”
After all, who would know arbitrary and capricious as intimately as a man representing 2 invisible States before the Supreme Court of The United States? That is what experts call World Class Arbitrary and Capricious, a conclusion also drawn by a Federal court in Milwaukee when Judge Brett Ludwig tossed out Team Trump’s latest legal effort (see above: ”Elite Strike Force”) to overturn the election results in Wisconsin, saying the case “failed as a matter of law and fact,” thereby inadvertently encapsulating the entire Trump Era in 8 words.
On Sunday, a small group of Trump’s most loyal backers in Congress began plotting a “final-stage challenge” on the floor of the House of Representatives on January 6th, the day Congress ratifies the Electoral College vote, to try to reverse Mr. Biden’s victory.
These stalwarts, all high-level senior leaders of our government who can’t shut up about anything under the sun for more than 5 minutes running, fell suddenly silent over the stunning revelations that Russian government hackers were behind the breach at the US Treasury and Commerce Departments in a cyberattack whose breadth and scope were only beginning to be realized. Not a peep or even a Tweet was uttered about this stunning defeat at the hands of Russia, from senior Republicans or from our Collaborator in Chief.
Instead, Trump chimed in about vetoing the new Defense Spending bill because Congress refused to turn his whim into law when they declined to include his pet clause designed to punish his perceived “enemies” on social media (anyone who criticizes him, basically, or about 80% of humanity). For lack of a willingness to give his real reason, he Tweeted about his Go-To Bogeyman: “The biggest winner of our new defense bill is China! I will veto!”
That was about the same time it was announced that the hotel chain Motel 6 agreed to pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the State of Washington after several locations gave information on thousands of guests to Immigration and Customs Enforcement without warrants. This was the second identical conviction for Motel 6, which pled guilty and paid $9 million in 2018 for being illegal ICE informants.
On Monday we learned that Trump turned down a second offer from Pfizer to sell the government additional doses only weeks ago, just as daily Covid deaths were breaching the 3,000 per-day number that this week would leave in the dust. Maybe that was Trump’s reasoning for asking White House staffers to receive the coronavirus vaccine “somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary,” a reckless request considering the fact that the few remaining uninfected staffers in the White House are the only thing between America and anarchy.
And speaking of anarchy, the Electoral College met on Monday to officially ratify the results of the November election, normally a very dry proceeding that is the furthest thing imaginable from drama or anarchy. Enter President Lumpy Soreloser, and the staid decorum of one of our democratic institutions goes out the window as State Electors in a number of locations found themselves under armed siege by some of the fine people on Trump’s side, and in Arizona, fake “Trump Electors” tried to pull a fast one by trying to gain admission to the Electors’ Chamber using poorly-forged documents that falsely showed Trump won the State’s 11 Electoral College votes.
None of which provided the slightest glimmer of hope for the S.S. Trumptanic as it creaked and groaned its death throes on its way to the ocean floor, since the Electoral College vote exactly reflected the popular vote tally and Joe Biden was formally confirmed as President Elect, with exactly no “rogue Electors” changing their States’ votes. This quirk of American Democracy was always considered the final hurdle in confirming our election results, but Trump’s most devoted minions in Congress plan one more futile act of insurrection when Congress ratifies the Electoral College vote on January 6.
On the plus side, these inane antics provided those Americans who slept through Civics Class with a golden opportunity to observe the entire process by which our Presidents are elected, and a compelling tutorial on how elected officials should never behave.
Speaking of Government Officials Behaving Badly, Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien was revealed to be planning to take his wife on a holiday tour of the romantic Mediterranean and European capitals, using the excuse of “official business” while traveling on Uncle Sam’s dime, including the very unofficial request for a private tour of the Louvre, the iconic Paris art museum which is of course closed to non-VIPs due to coronavirus restrictions. This unnecessary and unethical trip was quietly cancelled later in the week.
That night President Elect Joe Biden addressed the nation to celebrate the Electoral College vote and to demonstrate that this country conducts peaceful transfers of power only, and in his strongest attack on Trump since the election campaign, roundly vilified Trump for his ridiculous extended egomaniacal melodrama, and the 126 Republican members of Congress who signed their names to the direct challenge to the US Constitution and our democratic process of free and fair elections that the Supreme Court just tossed in the round file.
The Electoral College vote, Biden’s claiming of the job he won fair and square, and his spirited defense of democracy were not, however, the lead stories on Monday, since that was when the first Covid-19 vaccinations were given, a ray of joy tempered by the fact that we will endure 3 more hellish moths of exploding infections and high daily death tolls before enough of us get vaccinated for America to be considered out of grave danger.
Going without saying is that no one is ecstatic over the fact that the person most responsible for creating these horrific statistics is the same one who insists on taking credit for the vaccine that will end it.
On Tuesday, Vladimir Putin congratulated President Elect Biden, thus making it okay for Mitch McConnell to finally do the same. Moscow Mitch even went as far as strongly urging Republicans in both Houses of Congress not to act like total assholes on January 6th by trying to hijack the election one last time like some were planning.
McConnell’s belated recognition of reality allowed other Republicans to end the craziest and most bizarre charade in our history that saw far too many once-respected members of the world’s most influential legislative body actively engaged in humoring a madman’s insistent delusions that he won an election that he lost by over 7 million votes. Not even King Canute’s most loyal subjects volunteered have a picnic on the sea floor when the good king promised to command the tides in his favor.
Speaking of commanding the tides and other unaccountably insane ideas, one of the finalists for America’s Most Toxic Governor Award, Florida’s Ron DeSantis, currently presiding over a disastrous rate of Covid infections and deaths that he is credibly accused of actively falsifying to make the pandemic seem less lethal, decided to theorize out loud this day that (!) only one dose of the 2-shot Covid-19 vaccine “may be enough,” endangering the lives of anyone stupid enough to take the advice of such a ridiculous person. Sadly, there are such.
Practically going unmentioned amid the news juggernaut of Trump’s refusal to leave office was Crede Baily, Director of the White House Security Office, who is recovering from Covid-19 after a difficult three-month hospitalization which involved the (!) amputation of his right foot and lower leg, one of the most horrific cases among the wave of infections that has swept Trump’s petri dish of a White House.
While that might not be that shocking in this age of hourly shocks, what is a surprise is the fact that a GoFundMe page had to be started in November to help raise money to pay Mr. Bailey’s “staggering medical bills,” a curious state of affairs for a man in such a crucial White House job to not be covered for the Covid infection he almost certainly caught at work.
And speaking of White House jobs, the Proud Boys say they have had one of their members working inside the White House for 4 years, which just may be the idle boast of an extremist group seeking to boost their public profile, but they made this claim during the only Presidency during which such a prospect would be imaginable.
While the topic is insiders, we get to meet one Ralph Mastromanaco, an engineer who worked on Seven Springs Estate for the Trump Organization, and the man who Judge Arthur Engoron of the New York County State Supreme Court ruled must provide documents between the Trump Organization and that one particular Trump property, relating to New York State Attorney General Leticia James’ tax fraud case against the President, alleging that Trump and his associates inflated assets to obtain millions of dollars in tax benefits to which they were not legally entitled.
Reportedly, New York State is sitting on 70 criminal cases against Trump, members of his family, and his company, cases that have been pending until the day he no longer enjoys the criminal immunity granted a sitting President, which is good news at least for Rudy’s Elite Strike Force team of legal eagles, ensured of paydays for years to come. This also sheds light on Trump’s consideration of a pardon for Allen Weisselberg, the longtime Trump family accountant, confidante, and a principle of the Trump Organization, even though the man has not been charged with, never mind convicted of, a single crime, which is the actual criteria for getting a pardon. Unless you’re a convicted criminal, there’s nothing to pardon.
Small wonder Trump changed his home State from New York to Florida. The good news is that he saves a bundle on State income taxes. The bad news? His new neighbors want no part of him, and remind him he signed a legal agreement in 1993 not to make Mar A Lago his permanent residence, and to stay there only for a maximum of 31 days per year. As of January 20th, there are no Presidential exceptions to Palm Beach zoning laws, so no one is quite sure where Trump will land permanently after January, including Trump.
Speaking of raining on parades, Tuesday evening gave us Mike Pompeo’s grand Holiday/Farewell Tour Wrap Party at the State Department, to which 900 Republican luminaries were invited for the gala festivities in an enclosed space in the midst of a severe pandemic of an incredibly contagious airborne virus. In a rare testimonial to Republican prudence, only 70 worthies showed up for Mike’s big bash and, true to Trump Administration form, at least one of them brought the ‘Rona, forcing Pompeo to self-quarantine for the next 14 days.
Wednesday morning found Trump pushing to have a Special Counsel appointed to undertake a federal tax investigation into Hunter Biden, letting us know what will be the marching orders for incoming Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, and perhaps defining the line that even the integrity-starved William Barr refused to cross.
Very quietly, First Lady Melania beat it out of a hostile White House to Mar A Lago with Barron and her parents, for how long no one knows, not even her husband, who never mentioned their absence in the midst of his never-ending rage Tweeting and conspiracy-promoting, the crazier the conspiracy theory, the better. What wasn’t a theory was Governor Joe Wilson of North Carolina becoming the 10th State Governor to contract the Coronavirus, the 3,611 dead, the 230,000 new cases, the 130,000 hospitalized and 15 million infected with Covid-19, with elective surgeries being cancelled all over the country because our hospitals are almost broken.
The country was paying dearly for the widespread breach of health discipline over the Thanksgiving weekend as Dr. Fauci and every other scientist and health official practically begged Americans to stay at home over the upcoming holiday season and to celebrate only with members of their own household, and to double down on strict public health rules or we will face the deadliest Winter in a century. What better time for Trump to announce he was cutting health care funding to California by $200 million next year for the crime of being California?
Moving on to crimes narrowly averted, we were treated on Wednesday to new details about how the Administration tried to pursue a policy of herd immunity that involved (!!) infecting everyone in the country with Covid-19, with one enthusiastic pseudo scientist waxing enthusiastic about America’s children, exclaiming “We want them infected!” No word if this abandoned initiative was called, as was rumored, “The Mengele Project” in honor of the symbolic 6 million deaths that reaching herd immunity would cost.
On Thursday, just as we learned the sad news that French President Emmanuelle Macron has tested positive for Covid-19, we heard the wonderful news that that the FDA would approve a second vaccine, another double-shot dosage, this one from Moderna Pharmaceutical and much easier to ship and handle than Pfizer’s ultra-low temperature requirements. Which is very fortunate since there was an immediate (what else?) scandal with the distribution of the one virus, with Pfizer saying they shipped 2.9 million units, but up to 40% of them “disappeared” according to medical facilities that had to disappoint hundreds of thousands of people scheduled for vaccination.
The Administration then (!!) reduced its following order to just 2 million doses, then claimed “Pfizer was having a problem delivering doses” when in fact Pfizer announced they have “millions of doses ready” in their US facilities and are only awaiting the order to ship them. It’s hard to tell if there is a vaccine Black Market developing, a fatal Covid outbreak at DHS, or if everyone in the Administration is on their own while leadership is too focused on Trump’s final tilt at the windmill instead of doing their jobs and making important decisions, things like making out the payroll, calling meetings, giving out work assignments and, oh… ordering fucking vaccines during a pandemic!
The feeling that the Trump Administration had come full circle by ending its days with a pardon of Michael Flynn was emphatically reinforced by the horrifying news that Russia’s recent cyberattack was far larger than earlier suspected, and went (!) undetected for a month, with our government suffering penetration in almost every Federal Agency, including the one that controls our nuclear weapons. Experts are still unsure what was stolen, what damage to crucial systems was done, or what cyber booby traps are waiting for them in the future.
This attack just so happened to commence just a week after Trump fired Christopher Krebs, the Department of Homeland Security’s Director of Cybersecurity (and you know what Sherlock Holmes thinks of coincidences), an attack Trump won’t even mention, never mind respond to in kind.
Week #205 of The Trump Era did manage to end with at least one uplifting story when we enjoyed hearing about the resourceful and enterprising Mayor of Atlantic City coming up with a doozy of a fundraiser idea for the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City. Mayor Marty Small is auctioning off the chance for the highest bidder to blow up the former Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino that is slated to be demolished soon, with the detonation button as a souvenir of an unforgettable experience. Form a line!