Bearing Witness to Trump Month 45 Sept 27-Oct 3

A coronavirus infection strikes the President of the United States this week who after two days of illness is transported to Walter Reed Hospital in Marine One helicopter. The President is said to be at high risk due to his age, high blood pressure, and obese weight. However so ironic, and yes sad, is that it struck a man who had shunned wearing masks, refused to practice social distancing, held public events, disputed the guidance of his public health officials, bickered with his pandemic task force members, openly mocked others including Joe Biden for wearing masks, and admitted to intentionally delaying the country’s response to the growing health emergency back in the early spring.

Not even the handling of the President’s health emergency was done well and honestly by the White House when the President’s doctors refused to answer questions and disclose details to the American public who have a right to know. They would not even disclose the last date the President tested negative to help alleviate the justifiable fears of those, including their family members, who had contact with him or an associate. Trump’s doctors gave an overly rosy optimistic report, while insiders described a perilous highly concerning period of time before Trump left the White House for the hospital.

Once at the hospital, and after he claimed to have learned a lot about Covid, did the President as a supposed conservative start taking his personal responsibility more seriously to protect others? Of course not; this is Donald Trump.  He had his secret service agents drive him to the front gates of the medical complex so that he could be worshipped by supporters who had gathered and stage one of several photo opps over the next several days.

Earlier during the week the President fell ill, he presided over a large Rose Garden celebration, participated in a debate debacle with Joe Biden (where members of his family in the audience refused to wear masks because they too are above rules and agreements), hosted a Gold Star military reception, held a campaign fund raiser, led a public rally in Minnesota, visited his New Jersey golf course to meet with supporters, traveled on Air Force One with a large contingent of staffers and aides, and spoke to the press at several occasions. It was reported that after receiving his first positive test the President did not immediately quarantine himself but continued on with meetings and public events until he fell ill the next day. After all, rules are made for losers, not kings.

In the following week the virus strikes another dozen-plus members of the President’s family, cabinet members, senior advisers, White House staff, campaign managers, and fellow Republicans in Congress. The list includes First Lady Melania, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany , Campaign Manager Bill Stepien, Adviser Hope Hicks, Spokesperson Kellyanne Conway, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, Utah Senator Mike Lee, former Governor Chris Christie, members of the White House press corps, and others who will likely follow in the coming weeks (including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, most who had to quarantine.)  Nearly all of those infected had in common of working closely with the President, attending a Rose Garden event for Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett where few wore masks or practiced social distancing, or traveled with the President onboard Air Force one. It appears that the President and one or more of his events may have been the super-spreader common denominator. The White House refused to say whether they were performing contact tracing nor if the CDC or other public health officials had been called in to do so. Has or will the President take responsibility for any of this? Of course not.

Prior to the President falling ill to Covid, it had already been a historic week. It started out with more fallout from information about the President’s taxes, income, and losses reported by the New York Times. Trump is said to have paid no taxes for 10 of the past 15 years, incurred business losses of hundreds of millions of dollars, has $400 million of loans due soon to who knows who, has an on-going audit dispute with the IRS that could cost him over $100 million, paid family members huge fees as consultants, deducted tens of thousands of dollars for hair care, and got away with paying only $750 in federal income taxes for his first year in office when he claimed investment losses of over $15 million dollars. Trump responded like he always does by misleading, obfuscating, lying, and blaming the fake news media.  He obviously thinks taxes, like serving and dying for the country in the military, is only for suckers and losers, not for “smart” businessmen like he claims to be. Democrats among retired intelligence officials rightfully have asked if a sitting president who owes hundreds of millions to other countries poses a national security threat.

The next calamity to strike the nation during the week was the first presidential debate between Trump and Biden. Trump completely disregarded and disrespected the traditions, norms, and agreements for the debate. Trump constantly interrupted, spoke over, mocked, insulted, bullied, bellowed, blamed, name-called, heckled, baited,  blustered, played the aggrieved victim, revised history, fear mongered, ignored rules and of course lied throughout the entire debate. Both sides resorted to personal attacks with Trump claiming there was “nothing smart” about the former Vice President and later attacked Biden’s son Hunter. Biden claimed that Trump was the “worst president” America has ever had and asked if he would just “shut up, man.” Trump behaved like a pestilent spoiled brat that has always gotten away with everything in his rich life. It was reported before the debate that he spent little time preparing for it. But when facts, policy, truth, history, and knowledge don’t matter, and only viciously attacking opponents does, what is there to prepare for especially when you have been doing the latter your entire life? It was 90 minutes of sheer chaos that embarrassed the nation. Even Trump’s family in the audience could not conduct themselves properly as they sat in the auditorium without masks, as they too think rules are not for them.

In one of the most stunning moments of the debate, the President when given the opportunity by the moderator refused to disavow or condemn white-nationalist extremist groups like the Proud Boys militia. Instead, Trump said they should “stand back and stand by.” Not stand down, not dissolve, not stop, not cease and desist, but stand by as if awaiting orders to take up arms in defense of the President. The Proud Boys immediately began using the President’s comments in their propaganda saying they were ready and standing by.

Trump was also given an opportunity to honor the Constitution by committing to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose.  He could not bring himself to do this, and instead warned that “this is not going to end well.” This may have been the only honest thing he said all night long. He added that there was no way the election could be conducted without fraud. For a sitting American president to declare on a debate stage that this country cannot hold a fair election, and that he may not accept the results of the election, is extraordinarily shocking without comparison in our country’s history. How can anyone vote for someone who says they will not accept the results of the election? And he has the gall to claim that he is the patriot and defender of the country, just like countless other autocrats, dictators, and despots. Putin must be quite proud of his proud boy.

Not surprising Trump clamed he won the debate. The American people say otherwise with 2:1 giving Biden the higher marks largely for his presidential behavior. Many Americans finally saw Trump for the man he is (not), and it was not pretty. The debate was such a debacle that the commission came under pressure to scrap or reformulate the remaining debates. The moderator, Chris Wallace, claimed he never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did. What? Has he not been reporting on the personal behavior, tweets, threats, misdeeds, and actions of this President for the past 4 years? How could anyone be surprised. and how will anyone of us be surprised when after the election the President refuses to concede and calls out his dogs as if a Nazi-like night of long knives.

Trump and the RNC continue preparations to suppress voting at the national, state, and local levels. Republican operatives are being asked by the President to come out by the thousands as an “Army for Trump” to “monitor” polls, then challenge or invalidate as many ballots as possible. Some have already done this in recent primaries and absentee voting lines. The President alleges that mail-in voting will result in a fraudulent election. In more blatant gaslighting Donald Junior claimed that the “radical left are laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father.” They are the ones scheming to steal the election, and like always are blaming the victim of their crime. Commentators, editors, and politicians alike have begun warning that the democracy and republic are under grave danger . Will this become America’s Reichstag moment when in Germany an evil man and his sycophants exploited the loopholes of their democracy to turn it into a totalitarian state led by a fascist with deep personality disorders and grand delusions. Sound familiar?

It was reported this week that the White House called upon red-state governors last June to send their National Guard troops to Washington DC to help quell Black Lives Matter protests. The Pentagon went so far to plan for airlifting thousands of citizen soldiers into the nation’s capitol. The request and response is without precedent. Nearly 4,000 National Guard troops from 11 states including Utah, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee were sent. During the protests it was reported that the President also considered the rare action of invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807 in order to use Federal Troops against US citizens at home. We can only imagine what will happen if Trump loses the election, refuses to vacate the White House, shreds up the Constitution, and millions of Americans are forced to take their outrage into the streets to fight to preserve democracy and the republic.

Congress continues to rush ahead with hearings to seat Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court before the election. She may be a qualified college professor, legal scholar, and a devout Christian Catholic, but her willingness to accept a nomination from an immoral, lawless and out-of-order President like Trump shows her complete lack of judgement and willingness to put the country and constitution above her personal ambitions, regardless of what her spiritual guides may advise her to do about career decision. She has already failed her first case and may ultimately live with the shame of having been a Trump-appointed justice.

In another tell-all book, this time from former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, the author claims that Trump repeatedly asked what others thought about making his daughter Ivanka Vice President. Are we surprised? This is just what aspiring autocrats do to keep the power and office all in the family.  Gates, like several other former advisers and campaign officials, is a convicted felon for failing to register as a foreign agent and making false statements to the Justice Department as part of the Mueller investigation.

In an interview this week Trump’s former national security adviser Lt. General H.R. McMaster said that Trump is “aiding and abetting” Russia President Putin’s efforts to influence American elections because the President is not confronting Putin, defending the country, or leveling with the American public. Gates joins other retired military leaders who have said they are dismayed by the President’s actions and inactions.

The Trump administration just can’t attack the environment enough. This week the Labor Department said it would restrict workplace 401K retirement accounts from holding investments in socially responsible investments. These type of investments consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in their approach.

A nonpartisan organization projects that total spending by federal candidates and political action committees during 2020 will surpass $10 billion dollars. The Trump campaign has already spent $1 billion. All this to educate, influence, pander, talk-down, misrepresent, lie, and fear-monger voters into electing their candidates. Just how can anyone be undecided and prone to being influenced by this spending; have they been living under a rock? Just imagine if instead of all this TV and social media advertising we had simply bought every American family a newspaper subscription for the past four years. They too could have been reading all the news that I have been devouring as a news nerd to author the Bearing Witness in the Heartland journal.

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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