Bearing Witness to Trump Month 44 Sept 1-5

President Trump continues to lay the groundwork to contest the results of the fall election should he lose by claiming that mail-in voting will lead to rampant fraud. And then he encourages the very same fraud, as if to prove his point, by telling voters in North Carolina “send it in early and then go and vote.”  Yes, he asked his supporters to commit a crime by voting by mail then show up at the polls and vote in person for a second time, as if it was just to test the system. That is a felony in N.C. and illegal in all 50 states. Just how do Trump supporters square this with law and order?  How masterful of a con man Trump is at instigating the very crimes, which he can then accuse others of committing, and then taking advantage of it all blaming the victims in the process. And he does this so out in the open we are all left incredulous and gaslighted. He is like an arsonist masquerading as a firefighter who goes around setting fires, then trying to put them out as if the hero, all while blaming someone else for causing them to begin with.

The President has his consigliere, oops I mean Attorney General, sounding alarms about voter fraud in the upcoming election. Attorney General Barr did not come to the defense of the nation or constitution, but that of Trump, when he doubled down saying voting by mail was playing with fire. It is obvious he is helping Trump to lay the groundwork to challenge the results should he lose. Meanwhile, hundreds of lawyers are being signed up on both sides ready to do battle after the polls close on November 3.

An article in the Atlantic magazine alleged that Trump mocked veterans and world war I dead calling them losers and suckers. He was said to have made those comments preparing to attend services at the American Cemetery in France in 2018. It was reported that Trump’s helicopter was grounded by weather and he whined that traveling by motorcade was just too difficult to join up with Germany’s Merkel and France’s Macron who did make it to the cemetery to honor the fallen. Yes, thousands of Americans have died across in Europe and the President could not make it to a cemetery because he did not want the inconvenience of traveling in a motorcade. Are we surprised by his sentiments given what he has already said about veterans like John McCain, whom he also called a loser, and that he himself used the excuse of bone spurs to avoid the Vietnam draft? He was reported to have berated his generals in a 2017 Pentagon meeting where he called them losers, dopes, and babies he would not go to war with cause they did not know how to win. Trump once joked that his Vietnam sacrifice was dodging STDs as New York City playboy.   I rather do imagine he thinks anyone who could not get out of the draft was a sucker. His whole warped world view about politics, economics, culture, and life in general is that of winners who dominate and suckers who are losers.

Trump visited Kenosha, Wisconsin this week despite the pleas of the Mayor and Governor to stay away as he will just inflame racial tensions in a community that needs healing. The nation is crying out for someone to bring us together, but he used the visit mostly for partisan self-promotion and blaming Black Lives Matter protesters for causing the violence that was directed at them. He has yet to distance himself from right-wing violence, and only attacked protesters for being anarchists and rioters. We all know by now that Trump always blames his victims for what becomes of them. Trump did not meet with the family of the slain Jacob Blake who was shot in the back seven times nor did he even mention his name. He did not condemn the white teenager, Kyle Rittenhouse, acting as a vigilante who shot three protesters. He did not take any responsibility for having the gun-totting McCloskeys from St. Louis speak to the convention the day before Rittenhouse felt so motivated that he drove across state lines with his own guns to defend against protesters. During Trump’s visit he went on to assert that there was no systemic racism in policing but that occasionally someone chokes in a bad situation as if it was a golf game.

In a Fox News interview the President says that there are trouble makers and thugs dressed in black uniforms with gear flying on planes filled with looters and anarchists looking for trouble on behalf of the Democrats. H goes on to say that Biden is not in control of these people; people in the dark shadows we have never heard of are. He previously claimed some very rich people were financing the racial protesters and that Antifa anti-fascists anarchists are responsible for the violence.  Let the history books show that cabinet members and Republican leaders are once again silent. The next day reports circulate that the President may have suffered a stroke earlier in his term requiring the Vice President to standby. If only the excuse for his crazy behavior would be that reasonable we might have sympathy.

The last few months should have not been good for our relations with Russia, but Trump as well as Barr have let it pass without mention. First, intelligence agencies confirm that Russian operatives are busy interfering with upcoming elections trying to help Trump win. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter also warn of fake users,  networks, and websites from Russian-state actors sowing division among Americans and harming Biden. Then it is alleged that President Putin was responsible for the poisoning, using a military grade nerve agent, of his political opposition leader, Aleksei Navalny. (Please, let’s not give Trump any ideas because be probably believes he could get away with it and his supporters would cheer him on.) In Syria a Russian vehicle rams into an American injuring seven soldiers, all while a Russian helicopter pursued the US convoy.  Six Russian patrol planes buzzed the Alaskan coast and Russian fighter jets veered in front of a US bomber over the Black Sea. Not a word of protest from Trump for any of this aggression. For being such a tough guy, who has attacked everyone he comes near, Trump has become such a subservient lackey to Russia and Putin. Where is the outrage from all the God-Bless-America’s-Might Republicans?

Timed perfectly to impact the presidential election on Nov. 3 – as if the Russians are not doing enough – the CDC has notified states to be prepared to distribute a vaccine in late October or early November.  Phase 3 clinical trials to validate safety and efficacy have just begun on the leading vaccines. The FDA says it may issue an emergency use order before clinical trials have been completed. Some believe that is overly optimistic propaganda, and just more politicization of public health. This administration has not been able to get a nationwide testing program in place so why should we believe them about a nationwide vaccine program? And who wants to be the first in line for a vaccine that was rushed out because of someone’s blind loyalty to President Trump?

Another 880K Americans filed for unemployment this week in addition to 760K gig and contract workers. It is lower than recent weeks which were all over 1 million, but the Labor Department said it has changed how it makes seasonal “adjustments” to the data. Yeah right, just like how they manipulate inflation data. It is said that over 13 million are still unemployed, but 30 million are still collecting unemployment, out of the 60 million who have at one time or perhaps several times had to file for unemployment not including gig workers. Yet, the Feds say that official unemployment rate has dropped dramatically in the last month from over 10% to 8.4% and half of the 22 million jobs originally lost have been regained. Does anyone else think these numbers don’t make sense?

During this the hopefully last year of the President the total national debt is now over $20T. That exceeds the size of our economy’s entire GDP for the first time since World War II. The $1.5 trillion tax cut of 2017 did not help as corporate tax payments are down by over a third. This year’s deficit alone is expected to reach $3.3 trillion. The pandemic has already added over $2T in unplanned funding.  Funny, there was no mention of the deficit at this year’s Republican National Convention. In the 2016 campaign, President Trump said he would have the national debt paid off in eight years. Oh, I forgot, debt only matters to Republicans when a Democrat is in the White House.   And investors don’t seem to care either as the stock market climbs.

President Trump’s newest pandemic task force member, Scott Atlas, continues to tout the benefits of lifting restrictions to help the country obtain herd immunity. He argues that letting young healthy people get the disease is a good thing, not bad, and that children cannot pass on the virus to others. He also says we should be doing less testing, not more, and that there is no need to test people not showing symptoms even if they have been in close contact with someone who is infected. Just don’t tell any of this to the older teachers and less healthy family members they may come into contact with. Some experts say that to get the US to a 65% herd-immunity infection rate, before we have treatments or a vaccine, would precipitate over 2 million deaths. Like many of Trump’s appointees that have no experience in the function they are suppose to be leading, Dr. Atlas is a neurologist with little background in epidemiology or public health policy. But he is a conservative that promotes policies the president likes which conflicts with those of the other members, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx. It is said that the President first heard of Dr. Atlas by watching him on Fox News. Of course, that is likely where Trump gets most of his talking points if not from Putin.

President Trump along with other Republicans claimed this week by Twitter that the death count from Covid-19 was greatly exaggerated. He was referring to the CDC report that only 6% of all the deaths listed Covid as the only cause of death. No, what he said is once again not true. As in many deaths, the doctors, hospitals, and CDC lists all the other comorbidities which contributed to the deaths. And also as in many diseases, including most cancers, the underlying disease triggers an avalanche of health problems which together finally take a human life.

The White House announced this week another go-it-alone strategy that the US will not participate in a 170-country international effort to develop and distribute a vaccine globally because the World Health Organization is involved. For all those evangelicals who support Trump, well, this certainly shows the world who truly has Christian values and that the rest of the world can go suffer on its own without our help. Separately, the White House said it was not going to pay the $60M in back dues it owes the WHO.  A tear must be falling from Lady Liberty.

In another attack on the role of the press in a democracy, the White House went after a Washington Post reporter who had written about the costs incurred by the Secret Service who stayed in Trump hotels. The White House accused the reporter of blatantly interfering with a business relationship and that, fitting of any aspiring kleptocracy, they were building a substantial dossier on the many stories of the reporter. The reporter, David Fahrenthold, had previously exposed irregularities in Trump’s history of supposedly non-profit activity.

In a late Friday attack on the environment, hoping it misses the news cycle, the administration proposed that habitat protection for endangered species be weakened. This occurs the same week that thousands are being evacuated from California wildfires is what is expected to be the worst fire season on record. Record hot temperatures exceeding 110 degrees have fueled the explosion of fires across the state which scientists say are in part due to a changing climate.

Next to be attacked are the retirement savings of Americans when the administration starts socializing that private equity funds, with their far more risky investments and higher fees, are appropriate for workplace 401K accounts.

The final attack reported this week was on the independence of the US Agency for Global Media which runs the venerable and widely-respected Voice of America. It’s new CEO Michael Pack, a political appointee of President Trump, says he will drain the swamp and root out corruption. We all know so very well that this is code for draining the agency of anyone not completely loyal to the President and replacing them with those who will dismantle the independence of yet another federal agency.

As Trump promotes himself as the law and order president – who is ironically presiding over a country out of order during his term in office – the sight of armed vigilantes if not militias roaming American streets, intimidating largely peaceful protesters, is becoming normalized. Earlier in the week in Portland, after nearly 100 days of protests, a member of the right-wing Patriot Prayer organization that traveled in a pro-Trump caravan into Portland was shot in a skirmish with a left-wing agitator. The President called the caravanners “great patriots” and blamed the Democrat mayor of Portland for the death. Trump keeps edging them on thinking, as Kellyanne Conway said out loud last week, that street violence is good for his reelection as it is for all wannabe authoritarians and dictators. Gun dealers continue to report record sales of arms and ammunition. Nearly 23 million background checks have been performed this year with 40% first-time buyers.

This is the America that Trump has made.

The above news items have been taken from a number of local, regional, national and international news media  including print, broadcast, and digital sources, but no social media. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.

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