Despite a pandemic that is reemerging across the South the Trump reelection campaign went ahead with its rally in Tulsa, confirming that the feeding of Trump’s ego is more important than protecting the health of his own followers and staff. Public health experts widely condemned the irresponsible and reckless event that would be the largest mass gathering in the US, if not the world, since the pandemic took its deadly grip across the globe. Prior to the event Trump claimed it would be a huge success with tens of thousands attending and filling overflow venues. During the week he warned that protesters and “lowlifes” who were going into conservative Oklahoma to protest for BLM or against the President would be treated badly.
While many Trump supporters may think that COVID-19 is a hoax to keep Trump from being reelected, there were many who must have thought differently as fewer than 7,000 attended in a facility that could accommodate 19,000. Both before and after the event it was announced that members of the campaign team working the rally tested positive, not surprising since many of the organizers. Yet, most campaign staff and attendees refused to wear masks or practice social distancing. Upon returning home Trump was reported to have thrown a tantrum about the lack of attendees and not surprising blamed everyone – except his own (mis)leadership – including the news media, BLM protestors, left wing extremists, and public health officials for scaring attendees away.
On Monday the President said if we stopped testing right now we would have very few cases of coronavirus. He also said that the virus will go away. Then at his rally in Tulsa on Saturday night he doubled down and said he told his people to “slow the testing down please” so there would not be so many cases. Yes, he said that. Later the White House would try to walk it back saying the President was joking. No. He. Was. Not. Even the President admitted later in the week he was not kidding.
The CDC this week revised its expectation of deaths in the U.S. to rise as high as 145,000 by midsummer. Candidate Joe Biden summarized it rather succinctly when he said this week “Donald Trump wants to style himself as a wartime president. Unlike any other wartime leader, he takes no responsibility, he exercises no leadership, now he has just flat surrendered the fight.” (Read more about the pandemic this month at https://bearingwitnessheartland.com/category/pandemic/.)
The administration sued to halt the release of the book “The Room Where it Happened” from Trump’s former and third National Security Adviser John Bolton. As sections of the book became public, Trump responded by calling Bolton “wacko” and a “sick puppy.” He then threatened to have Bolton prosecuted as a criminal, which all despots usually try to do sooner or later to their critics. The White House claimed that what Bolton wrote in the book was sharing highly classified material. Yet, Trump called the book full of lies, pure fiction, and made-up stories; so how could it disclose confidential material if it was all fabricated? Trump obviously does not want Americans to read Bolton’s scathing criticism including: accusations of Trump asking China’s Xi to help his reelection by buying more American farm products while offering to ignore China’s human rights violations, Trump’s obstruction of justice during the Ukraine investigation, his lack of interest in intelligence briefings and ignorance of basic world facts, offering to intercede on behalf of Turkey’s President Erdogan in a Justice Department investigation of a Turkish bank, and that everything the President did was within the context of how it would benefit him personally or politically, not the country. Sadly, few of us are shocked anymore by accusations like these. And neither are we surprised by the vitriol against John Bolton, a hawk who championed America first around the world even if it meant preemptive wars. While Trump and Bolton may deserve each other, Americans deserve neither one.
This week’s target of Trump’s wrath is the Supreme Court who ruled to block the President’s attempt to end DACA’s legal protection for immigrant “dreamer” children and then voted to include the LGBTQ community as being protected against job discrimination because of sexual orientation. Just last week the administration had started to remove LGBTQ patients from being discriminated against in delivery of healthcare. Predictably, Trump lashed out at the court for delivering “horrible and politically charged decisions” and then threatened to remake the court after his reelection. A Trump sycophant in Congress went so far to suggest the Chief Justice Roberts, a conservative appointed by Republican George W. Bush, should resign.
In a largely symbolic staged photo op in the Rose Garden the President signed executive orders to help reform policing by offering incentives for better training and a national database of police misconduct. Yes, rest assured that these too little too late reforms will surely remedy the overuse of deadly force and racism that exists within many local police departments. This new executive action is from the same White House that had the Justice Department roll back the use of consent decrees put into place by the Obama administration which had started to have an affect. Trump uses the occasion to mostly promote himself as a “law and order” president, which is laughable considering his own corrupt, criminal, seditious, impeachable, and disgraceful behavior over the past 41 months.
Another 1.5 million people applied for unemployment this week which was the 13th consecutive week with over 1 million filings. The total count now having filed exceeds 45 million workers. The good news is that millions are now being recalled back to work, although many complain that they never were able to receive unemployment assistance due to them.
North Korea, after blowing up an inter-Korean liaison office on the border with South Korea, has begun to redeploy troops along the border and resume military exercises in an upmost provocative action. Kim Jong Un has played Trump so well over three years that even our chaos-loving President has tired of their stunts and is now apparently ignoring them. If only we Americans could ignore Trump.
Trump can’t seem to leave any living thing in America free from his attacks and cruelty. This week the administration announced a rollback of Obama-era restrictions on wildlife hunting in Alaska. Now hunters can use such cruel methods as baiting mother bears out of their dens, using spotlights at night, and shooting animals from boats and aircraft. This just Makes America Sad Again.
Trump’s EPA continues its environmental destruction policies when it rejected imposing federal drinking water limits on the neurotoxin perchlorate. It is said that runoff containing this hazardous chemical contaminates the drinking water of over 16 million Americans.
As expected, managers within the once world-respected Voice of America have begun to resign or be forced out after conservative activist and filmmaker Michael Pack took office as their boss. What an irony that the VOA was formed in 1942 to combat Nazi propaganda, and later truly fake news from Communist Russia, but is now within the corrupt reach of another aspiring autocrat who calls the free press an enemy of the state, just like Hitler and Stalin once did.
Facebook removed dozens of ads from the Trump reelection campaign that included a controversial symbol once used by Nazis to identify political enemies and prisoners. Some of the posts were attacking Antifa protestors as dangerous far-left mobs running through the streets causing mayhem. Antifa is an anti-fascist organization. Trump’s continued attacks on them would make him, let me see, could it be, acting exactly like a fascist would? And he calls them the extremist.
The White House has walked away from yet another set of negotiations on a global treaty. This time it was talks on how to tax international digital commerce involving American technology companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. Do we have any global relationships left that have not been threatened or dismantled by the Trump administration?
Trump is proceeding with the withdrawal of up to 25,000 troops out of Germany, which we can imagine is a gift on the wish list of his pal Putin. Even Republican Congressmen think this is a bad idea. Trump is reported to be doing this to punish Germany’s Angela Merkel for not agreeing to a G7 summit in the US, much less expanding it to include Russia who was kicked out after they invaded Crimea.
A new Associated Press poll shows that the majority of Americans are unhappy and believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. Count me in. There’s certainly plenty of crises to fret about including the coronavirus pandemic, economic recession, police brutality and treatment of Black Americans, our deteriorating public health, violence in the streets, international trade standoffs, an partisan-locked Congress, and least we forget the looming fall elections. Even more than 60% of Republicans were said to think that the country is going down the wrong direction. 37% of them said that the President was making America more divided. Trump’s overall approval rating is now below 40%, which is rare for a sitting president during national emergencies when the country typically rallies behind its president. Someone like Trump makes us reminisce for the days of President George W Bush and yes even shadow President Dick Cheney.
The above news items have been taken from a number of international, national, regional, and local news media sources including print, digital, and broadcast. The presentation of this news within the Bearing Witness in the Heartland blog is not intended to be a replacement to or alternative to the details and references offered by the original media sources. Instead, it is to succinctly chronicle the overarching history of the Trump administration which is hard to construct from the width of traditional media reporting or the noise of social media news feeds. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.