Point of View Columns

Four Days in the Life of America

August 20, 2020

5,530,247–173,193 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Barack Obama took the gloves off and repaid Trump for a decade’s worth of lies, accusations, more lies, misrepresentation and attacks. Up until recently Obama did not think it was worthy of his own self-image to give Trump the recognition that he so clearly craves.

Up until now his most personal attack on Trump came at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011 when he virtually barbecued Trump for all the world to see. Indeed, he stripped Trump naked with a smile on his face. And there are more than a few people who believe that it was on that night that Trump swore to run for president and erase and/or degrade Obama’s legacy.

Last night was different. In reciting the many crimes and sins of Trump, Obama concluded that Trump was “treating the presidency like another reality show in order to get the attention that he craves”. That had to leave a mark.

The day progresses after last night’s Trump Twitterstorm when he responded to Obama’s takedown. Certainly, for a committed racist and an absolute white supremacist like Trump, being termed incompetent by not one, but three Black people – two of them Black women (!!!!) had to get under his remarkably thin skin.

But, since wit is not one of Trump’s few attributes (another being the ability to walk upright and not drag his knuckles), the best rejoinder he could summon could be summarized as “I know you are but what am I?” which certainly taxed Trump’s capacity for creativity to its limit.

Later in the day a story burst on to the news cycle that could have been written by Mel Brooks or the Coen brothers or Monty Python. Former presidential advisory Steve Bannon was indicted and arrested for being a central player in a $25 million scheme to raise money for the “Build the Wall Foundation” and then pocketing the proceeds for his personal life style and that of his coconspirators (Bannon was arrested on a yacht off the shores of Connecticut- cannot make this stuff up).

This scam is made all the more implausible when we learned that Donald Trump, Jr. was one of the promoters of this scheme and that one of the other promoters assured the public that Donald Trump the Elder supported this initiative. And these basic facts raise all kinds of questions.

First and foremost, wasn’t one of the foundational principles of the Trump Movement that Mexico was going to pay for the wall? And then, even the most modest wall budget estimates were in the billions, so how did ordinary citizens, even well to do ordinary citizens, imagine that the princely sum of $25 million was going to build more than a few yards of wall? Perhaps a 1000-mile velvet rope, but

Then there is the issue of the venal nature of Bannon and his cohorts. Whatever their many flaws, the population of MAGA nation truly believes in Trump. To take advantage of these people is beyond crass, it is cruel. And it is truly sad that they would take advantage of the people that truly believe, no matter how misguided they might be.

And then there is this:

 Nine former Trump administration or campaign officials have been indicted or convicted of a catalogue of crimes which now includes Steve Bannon being indicted for masterminding a “Build the Wall” scheme (soliciting funds from the MAGA faithful, keeping in mind that it used to be that Mexico was going to pay for the wall) and using the proceeds to support the lifestyle to which he believes he deserves. However, if he is convicted of these crimes, his lifestyle will change radically for a very long time.

Either Trump is the worst judge of character of any president with the possible exception of Ulysses Grant and Warren G. Harding who presided over epic scandals or……. he chooses to be closest with people who are just like him – kind of an Ocean’s 45 instead of Ocean’s 11. I am going with Door Number 2.

August 21, 2020

5,530,247–173,193 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Joe Biden did his very best to draw the inevitable contrast between Trump and himself. So last night he was everything that Trump is not. He was compassionate, empathetic, insightful and most of all, intelligent.

Meanwhile Trump seems to moving closer and closer to fully embracing the QAnon movement. That would be QAnon that preaches a gospel that speaks to the existence of a cabal of Satan-worshipping, blood drinking pedophiles who are embedded in the Deep State. QAnon followers who also believe that George Soros and Bill Gates have conspired to utilize 5G technology for mind control purposes.

Several QAnon followers have been successful in Republican primaries in deeply red districts. That means that in all likelihood several QAnon followers will be in the United States Congress in January of next year. It will be like the Tea Party of steroids (and acid) coming to D.C. with the sole aim of disrupting.

If Trump is still president, this country will be in worse trouble than it already is. It will certainly be helpful to pray….it will also be important to vote.

August 22, 2020

5,624,721–175,416 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day spins around the axis of the release by Trump niece Mary Trump of comments by Trump sister Judge Maryanne Trump Barry. You will recall that Mary Trump wrote a book, “Too Much and Never Enough”, that was released several weeks ago. Mary Trump revealed the not too surprising fact that the egotistical megalomaniac that we have come to know is an egotistical megalomaniac in private.

Clearly, Mary Trump was not through barbecuing her uncle. Last night she released an audio tape of Trump’s sister referring to her infamous brother in the most unflattering terms, unconsciously echoing Barack and Michelle Obama in saying that Trump just doesn’t want to do the work. And that was probably the best thing that she had to say about him – as a distillation of her taped comments was that she was appalled, dismayed and disgusted – but in no way surprised – by Trump’s behavior as president as the office has not changed him – it simply revealed him to the rest of the world.

 August 23, 2020

5,668,564–176,371 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Yesterday Trump accused the leadership of the FDA as being part of the “Deep State”, malevolently delaying vaccine approvals in order to favor the Democrats in November. Today Trump announced that the FDA is approving the use of convalescent plasma as a therapeutic treatment of COVID-19 virus victims.

This is all coming from the man who brought you Trump University. This is coming from the man who recommended bleach, the internal use of ultraviolet rays and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for the pandemic. And now, this accelerated conditional approval of the use of convalescent plasma. And it is certainly far, far away from being a “cure” for pandemic.

It is important to realize that having scientists defer to political considerations at the Environmental Protection Agency (degrading environmental issues) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (degrading climate change). And we know that in those two instances that Americans and citizens of the world are already suffering the consequences.

Watching FDA officials fawn and grovel at the feet of Trump will serve to vitiate and deteriorate the credibility of FDA in the near future and in years to come. Hearing the FDA officials and other members of the administration almost reflexively referring to “your leadership” with Trump hovering nearby, looks like something out of a press conference in Pyongyang today or Berlin circa 1936. And clearly, politicizing the FDA is as dangerous a Trump move as anything that he has done since January 20, 2017.

And it is important to note that Trump dragged FDA officials in front of cameras to announce a faux historic achievement with respect to battling the pandemic. One need not even read the fine print on this one – the second paragraph of the announcement makes it very clear that this is not a great achievement and will do next to nothing to ease the pain, suffering and misery of the American people.

But it will make a great sound bite at the opening of the Republican National convention tomorrow.

And then there is the matter of the RNC Convention which begins tomorrow. It is scheduled to be a four-day affair, and guess which egomaniac president has decided that he should be a featured speaker for all four days? It was going to be difficult to watch this Trump extravaganza, now it may require hypnosis or very strong sedatives to endure the next 96 hours.

At the DNC convention Barack Obama spoke of Trump using the presidency to get the attention that he craves. This coming week Trump is providing all the evidence necessary to prove Obama’s point – appearing on stage on all four days of the convention not only has never been done by a party nominee, it is so far over the top that no one could see the benefit of going there.

But Trump craves attention, if not affection. Trump does not care. In the canyons and caverns of his mind all eyes will be on him, and for Trump that is more than enough.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Three Days in the Life of America

August 15, 2020

5,316,637–168,481 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans t4he beginning of the day)

Were it not for the fact that we are in the Age of Trump in the United States of Crazy, the fact that the first three attacks on Kamala Harris’s presumptive Vice Presidential candidacy were epic. Here they are in order of stupidity:

  1. She is angry, mad (as in angry, not mad as in Trump) and she is nasty;
  2. She sounds like Marge Simpson (Marge Simpson immediately issued a strongly worded expression of outrage at being “disrespected by Team Trump – I cannot make this stuff up); and
  3. Harris is not a natural U.S. citizen, even though she was born in Oakland, California, because both of her parents were immigrants making her an “anchor baby” (spoiler alert – there is no such exception of “anchor babies” in the Constitution.

One has to wonder if this is what amounts to Team Trump’s best shot. Or is this some Machiavellian strategic plan to lull the Biden-Harris team into a sense of complacency – kind of a Trump-style Rope A Dope. And since Trump can’t even spell Machiavelli, the smart money is betting that items 1,2 and 3 represent the Trump Team’s best shot.

The smart money is also betting that Team Trump will go back to sewer diving and gutter hunting and will come up with something a lot more offensive.

 August 16, 2020

5,361,613–169,489 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans t4he beginning of the day)

The day begins with what is supposed to be a good day in the new reality of Trump World because “only” 1,000 Americans died yesterday. The phenomenon of Trumpthink will result in the devastation of the Republic.

Meanwhile it was announced that former Republican Governor John Kasich will speak at the Democratic convention. What might have been a moment of apostasy a few years ago seems very much like common sense who senses the lurking abyss in a second Trump term as president.

And the Trump Sound Machine continues to beat the birther drum at Kamala Harris while claiming that it isn’t. The latest Trump strategy is to blame the entire birther controversy on “the media” even though everyone watches Trump peddling bizarro theories regarding her citizenship that do indeed originate from sources outside of the White House. But of course it is the White House remix that gives the these theories legitimacy in the fevered minds that inhabit MAGA World.

And tomorrow, the Democrats host the first national convention that will be totally virtual.

Welcome to the Brave New World.

 August 17, 2020

5,404,115–170,052 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The countdown begins as the virtual Democratic National Convention will begin this evening. Trump will be hosting rallies throughout several swing states this evening in an effort to distract attention from this evening’s events. And somehow we are not supposed to notice that we are in the middle of a cataclysmic pandemic while the President of the United States is hopping around the country as if the American people don’t have a care in the world.

As if tens of millions of Americans haven’t lost their jobs. As if close to 200,000 Americans have lost their lives while another 5,000,000 Americans have been infected. As if millions of businesses haven’t closed for good, turning lifelong hopes, dreams and aspirations into bitter ashes. As if fear stalks even the bravest as well as the most foolish because it is clear that no one knows what tomorrow may promise.

Ostensibly we are supposed to take some comfort in knowing that Trump is doing his damnedest (an intentional choice of words) to confuse, confound and derail the upcoming election by effectively dismantling key elements of the U.S. Postal, never mind that millions of Americans rely on the postal system not only to vote, but to receive medication, checks, and a range of goods and services. Clearly, Trump doesn’t know and/or doesn’t care.

Meanwhile the latest polls have the race between Biden and Trump narrowing to the point where it is virtually a statistical dead heat (an apt choice of words here). And one has to wonder who is it that, upon seeing the carnage that Trump has visited upon this country is convinced that he should be reelected?

Can it be, that with the death and disruption occasioned by the incompetence and intentional ignorance of the Trump regime being clear for all the world to see, that half of the American voting public will still want him to continue in office.

Clearly there is still a place for racism and stupidity and vile hatred in American politics…….and we should all be very afraid.

And now, the most unusual Democratic National Convention in history will start shortly and we shall see what the new normal looks like.

And then Michelle Obama decided it was time to eviscerate Trump in real time. As she recounted his many faults and multiple missteps she concluded with, “….he’s in over his head. It is what it is.” Ouch.

And if that last part sounds familiar it is because she was repeating Trump’s response when questioned about the (then) 150,000 American COVID-19 fatalities – “it is what it is was Trump’s memorable expression of empathy and sorrow for the deaths of so many Americans.

Standard