Media (415)

 

The Empty Presidency

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Some pundits speculate that Trump is issuing ever more absurd statements to distract the US population from his abysmal failure in handling the corona crisis, but the president doesn’t think tactically, let alone strategically, and the simple truth is that he has nothing but dangerous nonsense to offer.  In one interview he touted his ability to remember the words ‘person, woman, man, camera, TV’ for more than twenty minutes as proof of his acuity, and in an interview with Axios’s Jonathan Swan he argued that the COVID-19 mortality rate should be calculated as a percentage of known cases, not as a percentage of the population.  As Swan’s eyebrows reached Olympic heights Trump tried to illustrate his bizarre point that the US is doing much better than ‘the world’ with colored pages prepared by his staffers, and at a press conference on Wednesday he said that COVID would just ‘go away,’ as in ‘everything at some point goes away.’  In the context of the debate on whether schools should be opened the president posted the falsehood on Facebook and Twitter that kids are ‘almost immune for COVID,’ and both platforms took his message down.

Regarding the upcoming election Trump keeps griping about voting-by-mail, which according to him will lead to massive fraud and rigged elections, which has never been shown to be the case.  The Postmaster General, a Trump-appointee, has already made delivery procedures harder, so that completed ballots may not arrive in time to be counted, but the president is now getting pushback from Republicans whose constituents also vote by mail and who fear that they’ll lose their election if that is no longer an option.  It is particularly galling that Trump keeps trying to disrupt the elections right after the funeral of John Lewis, who literally bled for voting rights.  Asked about Lewis the president said he didn’t have a high opinion of a Congressman who didn’t attend his inauguration and his State of the Union speeches, calling that “a big mistake” and thus making it all about himself again.  Some reporters see an acknowledgement that he’s in deep trouble in Trump’s actions, and an open invitation for Russia and China to interfere in his favor, without him realizing that they would only do that because they want America as weak as possible.

Sunday August 2nd, the day the White House was supposed to unveil a national health care plan to replace Obamacare, came and went without Trump announcing the policy that was going to knock our socks off.  In the ongoing negotiations in DC about corona relief the president limits himself to sniping at ‘Chuck and Nancy’ from the sideline without making any contribution, and when asked about his plans for a possible four-year extension of his presidency the only thing he can offer is a complaint that he’s been treated ‘very unfairly’ during the first four years.

It turns out that already in 2019 the Manhattan DA has asked Deutsche Bank for information about ‘extensive and protracted criminal activity at the Trump Organization’ and has received what he (now she) asked for, which doesn’t bode well for Trump and his eldest sons once the president leaves office.  Meanwhile Trump allies are trying to get Kanye West, a bipolar black man in serious need of professional help, on the ballot in battleground states, in hopes that he’ll take votes away from Joe Biden.

An important part of the president’s campaign is making it look like Biden is not playing with a full deck anymore, by showing video clips, sometimes doctored, of Biden speaking incoherently or mispronouncing certain words.  Unfortunately for Trump though Project Lincoln has produced a video with the occupant of the Oval Office misspeaking and misreading words at a level that Biden can only aspire to approach, so that’s not working too well.

 
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Panic in the Oval

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

From the polls, national and local, it is clear that Trump is in deep trouble, but the clearest sign is his statement that the Presidential Election needs to be postponed because it promises to become the most unreliable election in the history of the country. The president’s hypocrisy would be amusing if it wasn’t so serious, because in many states that until now were Republican-dominated administrations have made voter suppression a local past-time, reducing the opportunity to vote for low income voters by locating the few polls far from their residences, disenfranchising felons who have paid their dues to society and insisting on in-person voting, only to mention some of the shenanigans. If there is one way to reduce voter turnout it is the latter in a time of a deadly pandemic, and in that context Trump’s ranting about voting by mail because he claims it is a very fraudulent process, which has never been shown to be the case, is no less than criminal. The good news is that the president has nothing to say about the election, because the date is fixed by the US Constitution and can only be changed by an amendment.

In the meantime Trump’s campaign is still on multiple tracks. He tries to show that he’s taking charge of controlling the COVID pandemic by sending Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci to what he calls ‘embers’ in the country that could flare up, although it’s unclear what they can do there while their services are much more needed in DC, which makes this a typical part of Trump’s permanent reality show. Meanwhile the testing is still a mess, with in some parts of the country a wait time of ten days or longer before results come back, so that tracing of those who have been in contact with someone who is infected is impossible. Knowing that the pandemic won’t be over and the economy won’t be recovered by election time the president’s second track is running a ‘law and order’ campaign like Nixon ran in 1986, but Nixon had plenty of demonstrators in the streets and Trump knows that he needs that too. His first step was sending federal agents to Portland, allegedly to protect federal property but in reality to provoke violence from BLM demonstrators, some of whom were illegally arrested by Trump’s goons.

Federal agents are only allowed to operate in cities at the request of the authorities or to protect federal property, but in Portland they have not shown much respect for the rules. If and when they show up in other cities they’ll have to stay close to federal buildings, otherwise their agency will be sued. Meanwhile the president is sowing fear for ‘anarchist terror’ by trying to panic ‘suburban housewives,’ a part of the electorate he is about to lose of which the majority definitely doesn’t want to be addressed that way.

So far Trump has only threatened to send his Feds to cities like Chicago and New York, but as the COVID pandemic keeps raging he’ll be more and more tempted to do so, in spite of legal repercussions. Tim Snyder identifies in his book ‘On Tyranny’ the mingling of federal and local police forces as a clear sign of totalitarianism, and we’re almost there. The fact that Trump won’t say that he’ll step down if he loses the election completes the picture.

Typical Trump was his brusk refusal to pay his respect to John Lewis, who was laying in state in the Capitol, and maybe even more his announcement that he would throw out the first pitch at the Yankees home opener. He was clearly jealous of Dr. Fauci, who threw out the first pitch at the Nationals game, but unfortunately he had to cancel because he was not invited.


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Trump’s Balloon is Empty

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Six months after the beginning of the COVID pandemic and 144,000 deaths later, on Tuesday Donald Trump said at a press conference: ‘We are in the process of developing a strategy.’  It was news of the worst possible kind, because it confirmed that in spite of all his bluster about ‘doing a great job,’ his predictions that the virus would ‘just go away,’ his suggestions about various ‘medications‘ and his constant lies about the seriousness of the corona crisis the president had nothing but failure to show for.   His handlers did a relatively good job in keeping the crazy stuff off the teleprompter, although some blatant lies still remained, for instance that the US has the lowest COVID mortality rate in the world, something Trump also said in a Fox News interview on Sunday, while in reality it’s the 16th lowest and the 6th highest compared with other industrialized countries.  The president still maintained that he had done a great job at the beginning of the pandemic but acknowledged that ‘it will get worse before it gets better’ and urged Americans to wear masks.  Looking back on his presidency at Fox News he said he had been treated ‘very unfairly.’

Both the rambling Fox News interview, where Trump repeated that he may not accept the result of the November election, and the press conference, were attempts to give him an audience while his poll numbers are tanking.  Recent attempts to have the kind of mass rallies Trump thrives on failed, and it’s unlikely that any rallies will be held in the near future.  Even the Republican Party’s convention in Jacksonville is in doubt, now that the local sheriff has said that he cannot provide security.  The president chose to resume the daily pressers because 5 pm is ‘a good slot’ and they had ‘great ratings,’ but his staff remembers that his poll numbers sank with every insanity he produced, such as injecting detergents or disparaging Dr. Fauci – something Trump still did on Fox, calling Fauci ‘a bit of an alarmist’ – so it’s unclear what he can say from now on, other than reading depressing numbers or lying about them.   It is possible that Trump will use the press conferences to provide the promised details about the ‘very powerful great things’ that ‘nobody has ever thought of’ he announced a week ago, but he has probably already forgotten about that.

And while the president tries to present a more sensible version of himself, if only for one day, he continues to push policies that go straight against what the US needs and a large majority of Americans want.  In negotiations about the next corona relief bill the administration tries to reduce spending for testing and tracing, and Trump has promised to veto a military spending bill that includes the removal of the names of Confederate generals from military installations.  He also claimed as a major achievement having undermined the National Environmental Policy Act.

Trump’s racism is on full display in ads predicting that Joe Biden will desegregate white suburbs and bring blacks into the neighborhood, and he threatens to expand his ‘stormtrooper’ operation that started in Portland into large cities with Democratic mayors, first Chicago, which has a black female mayor.  The president thinks that he’ll benefit electorally from chaos in the streets and he knows that federal bullies in unmarked camouflage gear acting illegally will generate a response.

Asked about the upcoming trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, who recruited young, vulnerable girls and groomed them for sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein, Trump said ‘I wish her well,’ which sent a shock through DC and the media, and the New York Times revealed that in 2018 the president instructed his UK ambassador to ask the British Government for help in getting the Open to his Turnberry golf resort.


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It’s All About Trump

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

After Trump’s rally in New Hampshire had been canceled – according to the Trump campaign because of the weather but in reality because there had been very little demand for tickets – the president went looking for an audience, and he found one yesterday in the Rose Garden.  Invited for a presser about punishment for China’s actions in Hong Kong reporters were treated to a rambling speech of almost an hour in which China was barely mentioned, but that shifted from COVID-19 to Joe Biden to the economy to Trump’s accomplishments and how he had always been sabotaged.  His staffers had urged him to make the speech not about himself but about Biden, knowing that running on Trump’s merits would be a loser, but Trump can only talk about himself and dug every hole that he’s in a little deeper.  En passant he broke the law, because it is illegal to campaign on government property, but that was peanuts compared to his commuting of the sentence of Roger Stone, who had been convicted for lying in order to protect the president who now kept him out of jail to return the favor, a genuine mafia two-step if ever there was one.

With the pandemic raging in most states Trump doubled down on his earlier falsehoods, now claiming that doctors are lying about the virus to make him lose the election and that schools are being kept closed for the same reason.  Addressing the first issue the White House produced an ‘oppo research’ paper stating that Dr. Fauci had frequently been wrong, and directed that from now on hospitals send their COVID numbers to a data-base in DC, where they are not public and can easily be manipulated, instead of to the CDC.  And in spite of the unbelievable testing mess in the US the president keeps repeating his bizarre claim that testing produces infections.  With regards to the schools Trump answers every question by saying ‘schools must be open,’ like a person on the extreme left side of the autism spectrum, and inexplicably states that parents and children are dying because schools are closed, and that if administrators don’t want to open a school parents have to find ‘someone who will.’ His proclamations fly in the face of CDC guidelines that identify fully re-opened schools as representing the highest public health risk.

Asked about the Confederate flag the president said that he understands why people like it and that he doesn’t mind having it wave at his rallies, calling it ‘freedom of speech’ and criticizing NASCAR for having banned it from its races.  In response to a question about blacks being killed by the police Trump responded that whites are being killed more often, which disregards statistics showing that blacks are twice as likely to be killed by police violence.  It was one more example of Trump’s racism getting the worst of him and his self-sabotaging his re-election bid.

The president’s attempt to blackmail universities into opening by threatening to take visas away from foreign students who only take on-line classes failed and was reversed, because both the universities and the US are too dependent on those students.  Trump didn’t fare well in the courts this week, because his financial information will be made available to the Manhattan DA and his estranged niece, Mary, is now allowed to give interviews about the dysfunctional Trump family.

Mary’s cousin, Ivanka, who qualifies as the most idiotic member of that family in spite of heavy competition, broke the law with a commercial for Goya beans after its CEO had endorsed her father, and as his senior advisor on employment matters she displayed her profound knowledge of that field by urging the newly unemployed to ‘find something else’ in the middle of the corona pandemic.


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Trump versus Black America

(Door Hugo KIjne te Hoboken USA)

Donald Trump has always been a racist.  He and his father refused to rent apartments to potential black tenants, black employees had to be whisked off the floors when he came visit his casinos, he demanded the death penalty for the innocent Central Park Five and wouldn’t accept their final acquittal, and he started the ‘birther’ movement to undermine the first black president.  With the COVID-pandemic still raging in most of the country and ‘the best economy ever’ in shambles he  decided that he has nothing else to run on than racist sentiments, so he’s going all out on it.  In his Fourth of July speeches he revived the ‘American carnage’ theme of his inauguration speech in reference to the Black Lives Matter demonstrations and the removal of Confederate statues and symbols.  Subsequently he criticized NASCAR for having banned the battle flag of Northern Virginia from its races and demanded an apology from its only black driver Bubba Wallace, who sounded the alarm when he had found a noose hanging in his garage, and finally he criticized the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians for considering to change their team’s names. 

It is unclear what the president expects to achieve with his whining and often half-crying racist rants.  In 2016 he also ran a racist campaign, but at that time his targets were colored immigrants and Muslims, while he is now disparaging the descendants of black Christians who have been in the US much longer than the Trump family.  His use of the term ‘cancel culture’ makes no sense, because the fact that America was built on stolen land exploiting a stolen people, as the Avett Brothers sing, cannot be canceled.  The president already has all the racist support he can get, while he is losing suburban and elderly voters due to his mishandling of the corona crisis.  The only rational explanation is that Trump, expecting defeat in November, is solidifying his base for them to be milked by a future business venture, unless he is preparing his deplorables for a new Civil War.  Stoking hatred as a distraction from the pandemic doesn’t explain his behavior either, because instead of staying silent Trump tells Americans ‘to live with it,’ falsely claiming that 99% of the new cases are harmless and lying that the US has the lowest mortality rate in the world.

The president demanded with an all caps tweet that the schools be opened in the fall, starting the latest fight in the corona crisis.  For him restoring economic activity to increase his electability is the only objective, and parents would obviously be delighted to have schools reopening, but only if it is safe, both for the children and their grandparents.  Teachers unions have their own safety concerns, and instead of making extra funding available for allowing social distancing in schools the government threatens to take money away from states where the schools will not be open.

Yesterday advance copies of Trump’s niece Mary’s tell all book were issued and it’s a doozy.  She describes how the president grew up learning that cheating and lying is the only way of life, and as a trained psychologist she adds more depth to the analysis of Trump’s sociopathic narcissism, having had the advantage of extended direct observation.  Unless Trump remains as teflon as he has been so far, this book may hit him harder than any other, John Bolton’s included.

The president still has not acted upon the information that Russia offered bounties for killed American soldiers in Afghanistan, but instead confirmed that the US would withdraw from the WHO.  Considering the seriousness of the corona crisis this is the equivalent of taking the ball and going home with the game on the line, instead of offering the global leadership America used to provide.

 

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