Bearing Witness to Trump Month 42 July 12-18

Trump can’t lead a national effort to fight a war against the coronavirus, much less organize a national testing program, but he can organize the federal government to fight a war against its own citizens in the streets of major cities like Portland. The administration has sent federal forces into cities like Portland, and is threatening to do the same to others, to supposedly protect federal buildings from what Trump alleges are anarchists and left wing mobs. These armed unmarked units, believed to be from Homeland Security and Border Patrol, behave as bad as the China-backed Hong Kong police who were attacking peaceful protesters in the streets over there that Trump himself has been protesting. Now in the streets of America, largely peaceful protesters were reported to have been rounded up by unidentifiable federal forces dressed in military garb, thrown into unmarked vans, and then detained without probable cause, all without being told why they had been apprehended.  Trump’s Troops were also seen firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd, and in general acting more like the gestapo than police. On the East Coast in New York City dozens of protestors are hurt, as well as the police,  by what was described as a police riot using disproportionate violence, taking out their frustrations in policing, many of which are understandable, on the public, which is not. It seems the whole country has become a powder keg under Trump that is one flicker or tweet from blowing up.

President Trump can’t resist injecting himself into the controversy surrounding a rich white couple aiming their guns at protesters passing by their mansion on a private street in St. Louis, Missouri. Trump lied about everything in his comments on the incident including they “were going to be beat up badly” and “the house was going to be totally ransacked and probably burned down.” No, that is not true like much of which spews out of Trump’s mouth. It only served to fire up his white power base. The Governor of Missouri Mike Parsons, Senator Josh Hawley, and AG William Barr all pile on to defend Trump and the couple along with their 2nd amendment rights. (Even though state law prohibits displaying a weapon in a threatening manner.) Just imagine if the couple had been black and in the presence of police had pulled out then displayed then carelessly aimed their weapons at white people. Is there any doubt that some if not most police officers would have felt compelled to shoot them dead as they have done to so many Blacks who were thought to be only reaching for a gun that was never found.

After a nearly two-decade lull, the federal government this week resumed execution of federal prisoners who had been sentenced to death. Two inmates were executed after the conservative-leaning Supreme Court gave the go ahead. The law-and-order Republicans, many who claim to be pro-life Christians, must be quite pleased with resumption of the death penalty by the United States.

The federal budget experienced its largest monthly deficit in history of some $864 million dollars. This is just for one month! The deficit for the first nine months of the current fiscal year now totals a staggering $2.74 trillion dollars. It is expected to rise to $3.7 trillion for the entire year. Despite this, the White House has floated the idea of a payroll tax reduction on the withholding taxes paid by employers. There is never a bad time to lower taxes for most Republicans; deficits be damned when they are in office. Trump is running the country like he did his other bankrupted businesses. His arrogance, hubris and mistakes result in taking on more and more debt which becomes unsustainable until it all collapses. Maybe he can get his Russian banking friends to bail out America just like many think happened to his other businesses.

Another week and another 1.3 million Americans filed for unemployment for the first time. It is the 17th week of claims exceeding 1 million. The total of all first-time filings must now be close to 55 million. However, the Labor Department claims that only 17 million laid off employees are continuing to receive unemployment with an additional 14 million self-employed and gig workers seeking expanded unemployment assistance as part of the pandemic cares act. That total is still 31 million out of work. This is not a recession, but a depression, yet the stock market keeps performing for the wealthy, largely backed up by the Fed’s low interest rates and guarantees of so much corporate debt. Hum, it seems maybe they like corporate socialism after all.

The International Monetary Fund has projected that the US economy will shrink by nearly 7% in 2020. They went on to say that the crisis is hitting poor Americans and minorities the worst which may result in social unrest. Well, duh. They added that the U.S. population as a whole will experience a deteriorating standard of living, growing poverty levels, big increases in public and private debt, and economic hardship for years to come.  We are sure not hearing this frank talk from Washington DC to help us plan forward.

The controversy about opening schools back up next month continues to expand this week when White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that “science should not stand in the way” of schools reopening. Yes. She. Said. That. Trump must have been proud of her joining the anti-science ranks of his administration. Trump kept pushing for states to relax restrictions and reopen businesses prematurely, and look where that got us. This follows the week after Missouri Governor defending his call to reopen schools said that yes, some kids will get sick, as if this is just the way it has to be and ill children will not be a threat to their parents or teachers. Not.

The administration’s attack on environmental rules takes no break during a pandemic and economic crisis. This week the President signed into law a rollback of Nixon-era rules that protected the environment by requiring environmental reviews of big infrastructure projects. The new ruling limits when federal reviews will be required and how long the public has to provide comments. One environmental group said this was the single biggest giveaway to polluters in the last four decades.

After attacking the environment, Trump turned his ire onto China once again. He signed an executive order targeting police actions and members of the Communist China party who have cracked down on Hong Kong protesters that were demanding reforms and democracy. We are doing the same in America, and being met with the same response from our own federal government.

Despite the assurances that census data would be protected and not used by the federal government for purposes other than those intended, some Republican-led states have begun to turn over driver’s license data to the Census Bureau to help them determine the citizenship status of every resident. This is just Trump’s way of doing an end run around the Supreme Court ruling that blocked placing a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

The Washington Post now says that Trump has surpassed 20,000 falsehoods over his 42 months of president. We are all so exhausted but hopefully have only another 6 months of President Pandemic.

The above news items have been taken from a number of international, national, regional, and local news media sources including print, digital, and broadcast. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.

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