Quote of The Week: “He’s leaving Washington with a whole series of conspiracy theories and things that are so nutty and loopy that people are shaking their head wondering what in the world has gotten into this man.” – Senator Mitt Romney (R), in one of his occasional experiments in showing courage and integrity
Week #206 of the Trump Era begins on Friday right where the Trump Era began, with Russia, and ends on a bleak and lonely Christmas Eve that found President Scrooge cancelling everybody’s presents and heading to the golf course. In between we had about 25,000 people die of Covid-19 and saw our Covid cases balloon to nearly 19 million as the President ignores the whole nasty business when he’s not making things worse.
With still no Federal response 10 months into the deadliest pandemic in a century, hospitals are once again taxed to their breaking points and plagued yet again by critical shortages of PPE, bed space and personnel, unless one chooses to call the Mike & Mother show an official response, when Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence got vaccinated on live TV after speeding most of the year denying Covid-19 was a big problem.
In his capacity as Head of the White House Coronavirus Taskforce, Pence for some reason decided that at the deadliest heights of a catastrophic pandemic, during a traumatic and isolated holiday season for a suffering nation, that this would be the ideal time to reveal his (!) choice of names for Space Force enlistees, who will henceforth be known as “Guardians,” removing at least that one bit of angst from our national ordeal. Guardians it is then, Mr. Vice President!
Speaking of our armed forces, you know, the ones that, unlike Space Force, actually exist, the Pentagon released what they call their “Diversity Map,” a plan to make our military and its leadership more closely reflect the America population, a clear sign that the Pentagon can read the handwriting on the wall that Joe Biden’s Cabinet choices have painted in bold letters, an undertaking that sends the opposite message from Trump’s to our troops. Our veterans under Trump have seen their benefits and healthcare erode in the same ratio that he boasts about treating them better than any other President has treated veterans, while the families of soldiers are deported as they serve in combat, and record numbers of veterans are now jobless, with 22 of them a day committing suicide.
Friday was when the news of the recent Russian cyberattack on multiple US government agencies got even worse as we found out that hackers from a Russian military unit also accessed the systems of a “major U.S. internet provider” and, for unknown reasons, a county government in Arizona, perhaps to show that they could, as officials scrambled to protect our vulnerable power and communication grids from Russian sabotage.
As reliably as one of Pavlov’s dogs, Trump defended Russia and blamed China again, while every US law enforcement and intelligence-gathering agency, joined by the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and every ranking Senator and Congressman from both parties, declared unequivocally that Russia alone attacked us and that the attack is still underway.
The Supreme Court that evening upheld a challenge to Trump’s Census plan to exclude undocumented aliens, calling Trump’s request to dismiss this challenge “premature,” perhaps mindful of the Constitution’s mandate for the Federal Government to count “all persons residing within the United States” every 10 years, even if the people you are counting irritate you.
On Saturday, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated his blaming of Russia when he admitted that the State Department’s cybersecurity was breached too, Trump was in full spin mode on Twitter with “The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control. Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!).”
The he deftly turned this into an opportunity to make an unrelated crime support his attempted overthrow of the US Government with this beaut: “There could also have been a hit on our ridiculous voting machines during the election, which is now obvious that I won big, making it an even more corrupted embarrassment for the USA.”
Between bouts of obsessive Rage-Tweeting, Trump remained hunkered down in the White House with a tiny but insane inner circle of remaining loyalists, 3 of whom have no official standing and one who was just pardoned for lying to the FBI. It seems Trump is down to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, suspected Russian asset Michael Flynn, and perhaps America’s 2 most bizarre lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.
These worthies spend their days debating the merits of Flynn’s plan to (!) declare Martial Law, overturn the results of a presidential election and deploy the military to “supervise” a do-over election, an idea instantly shot down by his advisors and military leaders who are not part of his Bunker Crew when their musings were shared at a general staff meeting where Trump embraced these extreme measures to reverse his election loss.
Trump did manage some official business during all this chaos. No, not finally being a man and addressing the pandemic that is killing an American every 30 seconds, you got the wrong guy here, but instead rushing to approve a final wave of large-scale mining and energy projects on federal lands, encouraged (bribed) by investors who want to try to ensure the projects move ahead even after Biden takes over.
No scenic wonders or sacred tribal lands are crossed off Trump’s dance card here, as the National Forest service in Arizona prepared to sign off on the transfer of federal forest land considered sacred by a neighboring Native American tribe, to allow construction of one of the nation’s largest copper mines.
In Utah, the Interior Department is considering a rush approval as soon as next week to grant leases to a team of energy speculators targeting a remote spot inside an iconic national wilderness area, where new energy leasing is currently banned (by the dreaded Obama!) so they can start drilling into what they believe is a huge underground supply of helium. In Nevada, the department is close to granting approval to construct a sprawling open-pit lithium mine on federal land that sits above a prehistoric (and what could go wrong there?) volcano site.
And it is not only the (formerly) Wild West to suffer, as a natural gas pipeline was announced to be built in the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia and West Virginia, at one point running underneath the historic and still heavily-traveled Appalachian Trail.
Shot down by the military in his Martial Law coup attempt, Trump floated the idea of appointing the delusional Sidney Powell as Special Counsel to investigate the nonexistent 2020 Election Fraud, while Rudy Giuiani personally petitioned the Department of Homeland Security to seize the voting machines in 4 States. Giuliani called Ken Cuccinelli, second in command at DHS, and asked him whether DHS could seize voting machines, but Cuccinelli admitted the agency does not have that authority.
Meanwhile, we learned (from non-governmental sources of course) of a new, faster-spreading strain of Covid-19 raging through the UK, resulting in a travel ban from the UK to 30 other nations, and American State Governors began formulating their own plans to counter this strain in the absence of a coordinated federal response in the crucial early stages of the new outbreak.
On Sunday we learned, perhaps in response to intelligence agencies almost never telling him what he wants to hear, that the Trump administration pushed to make major adjustments to the Pentagon organizations charged with cybersecurity and signals intelligence, at a time when we are under direct attack. The proposal would split the commands of US Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, two organizations currently being led by the same four-star military officer, a man who is certain to be soon handicapped in his career path by not being an avid Trump loyalist willing to compromise national security to mollify a delusional monster.
Congress also passed a stimulus bill along with the annual budget on Sunday, with the separate Stimulus Bill called by many The Peanuts Bill for its insultingly small $600 stimulus check for struggling Americans while handing over the bulk of the $900 billion package (as usual) to the wealthy. Trump threatened to veto the Defense Spending Bill, thus torpedoing the entire budget, over Congressional refusal to include several of his petty gripes in their bill. The resulting loss of unemployment insurance to millions is but one disaster this veto will cause.
Speaking of national disasters (and when haven’t we been these past 4 years?), Personal Protection Equipment shortages returned to America with a deadly vengeance to add fuel to the Covid fire as cases exploded all over the country, so Trump sprung into action; by (!) granting immunity to his old pal, Crown Prince Bone Saw of Saudi Arabia, weighing a request to declare Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman immune from a federal lawsuit accusing him of targeting for assassination a former top intelligence officer who could disclose damaging secrets about the prince’s ascent to power, and a decision that could absolve him from civil penalties stemming from bin Salman ordering the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post reporter Adnan Khashoggi.
Trump also tightened up the messaging coming out of the White House when he prevented his staff from releasing a report that agreed with every other person on the government payroll and blamed Russia for the cyberattack. Trump, however, had more pressing issues on his plate than responding to a foreign attack on our country, like hearing out Michael Flynn and Sydney Powell as Flynn offered to share intelligence with “friendly governors” for when they declare Martial law (apparently being a double agent is a hard habit to shake), and the President insisting that private citizen Ms. Powell be given a Top Secret security clearance “to pursue her work.”
Attorney General William Barr held his final press conference on Monday before his resignation goes into effect on Wednesday, when he announced that the DOJ had indicted Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud for the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing, a bomb expert already in Libyan prison, and whose extradition would be sought by the USA. Then he dropped a bomb of his own on all of Trump’s recent desperate plans to overturn the election, declaring that he would not appoint a Special Counsel to investigate election fraud, or for Hunter Biden’s tax case either, nor would there be any seizing of voting machines in any states for any reason, and oh, by the way, it is beyond any doubt that Russia and no other country attacked us.
As Sidney Powell took it upon herself to attack everyone in Trump’s administration who is not on board her Kamikaze flight of insane theories and allegations, even accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Pence of being “weak and disloyal,” Rudy Giuliani once again tried to distance himself from Ms. Powell, even though the names Rudy & Sidney have become as linked in the public’s mind as Bonnie & Clyde.
Trump echoed Ms. Powell’s sentiments in a Tweet that called McConnell “the first one off the ship,” proving without a doubt he has no absolutely no idea who Mitch McConnell is, even after 4 years. He also said Vice President Pence “is not fighting hard enough for me” (in a fight that’s over), while rumors swirled of White House counsel Pat Cippolone being fired for taking the results of a national election seriously.
And speaking of delusional proclamations, Trump issued an executive order on Monday that attempted to control how future government buildings are designed, to ensure that federal buildings feature “beautiful” architecture, expressing a preference for classical architecture over modernist designs, which is a curious preference given the gaudy gold-trimmed kitsch of his own buildings.
He also managed to nominate himself to have an airport named after him, just before firing out this All-Caps Tweet: “THE DEMOCRATS DUMPED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF BALLOTS IN THE SWING STATES LATE IN THE EVENING. IT WAS A RIGGED ELECTION!!!” And this gem as well, “Our Country, and indeed the World, will soon see the great miracle of what the Trump Administration has accomplished.”
Not feeling the miracle were the doctors and scientists at Centers for Disease Control, who went public about the damaging White House interference in the CDC’s work, including censorship attempts and the installation of blatantly unqualified political appointees who attempted to “manage the scientific information given to the public“ (lie to them) and publicly dispute the findings of the world’s leading scientists and public heath experts.
Wednesday was Pardonpalooza for Trump, who issued 26 Pardons and Acts of Clemency, including pardoning his old criminal cronies Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, as well as his son-in law’s father and a man said to have a big voice in Trump policy making, Jared’s dad Charles Kushner, who spent years in Federal prison for tax evasion after hiring a hooker to seduce his sister’s husband and sending her the resulting sex tape because he wanted to ensure his sister’s silence in court, a stunt that had the exact opposite effect, and her testimony sealed his fate.
Also pardoned that day were 4 convicted mass murderers serving long prison terms for massacring 17 unarmed civilians, including 2 small children, in Baghdad. These men were mercenaries in Erik Prince’s army for hire, Blackwater, who Trump just hired (under a new corporate name) to replace the US military in Somalia, 4 pardons about which President Elect Biden said he will sue to have reversed.
Meanwhile, it was announced that White House aides are planning to start a nonprofit organization aimed at advancing Trump’s policies (and who knew Trump even had policies?) after he leaves the White House. Domestic policy adviser Brooke Rollins and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow are the lead dogs in this new dog & pony show, with Kudlow telling a reporter from Politico that “the president is very enthusiastic about this,” and that National Security advisor Robert O’Brien and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry would also be involved.
As Trump flew to Mar A Lago for Christmas, it was announced that 100 million more Pfizer vaccine doses were ordered by the USA, but not before Trump threw the Covid Relief Stimulus bill into doubt along with the budget, by refusing to sign it until the individual stimulus checks were upped from $600 to $2,000, something that Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats have been fighting for since March but were vehemently opposed by Republicans and the White House. Trump’s sudden change of heart is seen as either a ploy to try and win the 2 Georgia Senate races on January 5th, or just Trump being Trump and fucking things up just because he can.
On Thursday it was Christmas Eve, and the day when the United Kingdom finally reached their exit deal with the European Union, the elusive Brexit agreement pushed by Trump ally and man who looks like Trump straight out of the dryer, Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister who screwed up the UK Coronavirus response almost as thoroughly as Trump has fouled up America’s.
The manufacturers of Dominion voting machines, meanwhile, sued Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and several Fox News luminaries for defamation over their continued insistence that Dominion machines were controlled remotely by George Soros from inside his hollowed out mountain on an island in the Black Sea to change Trump votes to Biden votes.
The House of Representatives tried to pass Trump’s $1400 raise into law and get the stimulus checks out to a hurting nation, but again was blocked by Republicans, so we enter the Christmas holiday with more balls in the air than a team of jugglers as 2 Americans die of Covid every minute and dire poverty looms for nearly half the country.
As for Trump, having successfully thrown the country into chaos yet again, and as an added bonus left us vulnerable to the onslaught of Russia’s continuing cyberattacks, he considered his work done, and went golfing while Rome burned on Christmas.