Media (437)

 

Trump’s Pyrrhic Strategy

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

One day after the US had passed the number of 200,000 COVID deaths Trump proclaimed that the virus ‘affects virtually nobody,’ at a rally without social distancing and with very few people wearing masks, except in the stand behind the president, so that he would not get infected.  It capped a week in which CDC guidelines about testing (not needed if there are no symptoms) and the virus being airborne (under consideration) were re-written respectively pulled by the White House.  The CDC Director was scolded for emphasizing the importance of masks and giving a realistic timeline for when a vaccine might be available, and Trump pointed out that masks are dangerous because waiters might touch them before touching your food.  The president argued that the number of American deaths is not too bad ‘if you leave the blue states out,’ and seemed to consider ‘herd mentality’ an acceptable alternative for a vaccine.  A former task force aide revealed that Trump considers it a benefit of the virus that he doesn’t have to shake hands with ‘disgusting people,’ and his goons booed the Lt. Gov. of Ohio for urging them to wear masks.  

Maybe the president got carried away by the thought that the death of RBG would push his deliberate mishandling of the pandemic off the front pages, but this is a part of reality he cannot change with wishful thinking.  Because the ACA is on the Supreme Court’s docket in November the replacement of Justice Ginzberg is inextricably linked to the access to healthcare of millions of Americans, the coverage of pre-existing conditions, of which there will be many more due to COVID-19, and the future of Roe v. Wade, which 70% of the population wants to keep in place. Considering the amount of money flowing to Democratic Senate candidates voters realize what’s at stake, and even if the Republicans succeed in getting a sixth conservative on the court – going against the final wish of RBG that she be replaced by the newly elected president, a wish with which 8 in 10 Democrats and 5 in 10 Republicans agree – the increased chance that Democrats will win both the Senate and the White House while holding on to the House gives them plenty of options, blowing up the filibuster and expanding SCOTUS to 11 or 13 members being only one.

Like a suicidal sperm whale approaching a beach at maximum speed Trump announced that he was going to appoint a replacement for RBG while she was not even lying in state yet, en passant effectively calling her granddaughter, who had conveyed the final wish, a liar, and like a parade of lemmings ready to jump off the cliff GOP senators who in 2016 swore that they would never do such a thing announced that they would vote for the appointee.  Obviously it’s altogether fitting and proper that Trump’s shamelessness and Republicans’ hypocrisy peak at the end of his term.

In spite of his busy agenda the president found time to attack FBI Director Chris Ray for flagging a Russian threat to the elections, and to send $13 billion in belated aid to Puerto Rico for a hurricane that hit the island in 2017, hoping to buy its refugees’ votes in Florida.  He also announced the creation of a Commission for Patriotic Education, with the task of developing a ‘pro-American’ curriculum from which presumably all references to black history would be effectively removed.

Never one to stay far behind when there are norms to be violated and opponents to be roughed up Attorney General Barr announced that he was considering sedition charges against mayors of and demonstrators in ‘Democrat’ cities, even though the government is trying as hard as it can to overthrow itself and will most likely be successful long before the first demonstrators would get a court date.


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Trump’s Mass Manslaughter

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

The last four years, when an issue became too toxic for Trump he came up with something out of left field and changed the topic.  Most recently he tried to leave COVID and the economy behind him by only talking about riots and law and order, but this week his tactics backfired.  First Bob Woodward brought back COVID with his book ‘Rage,’ revealing that in early February 2020 the president knew how dangerous the corona virus is and that it can be airborne, in March calling it ‘a killer.’ Meanwhile in public Trump called it ‘a Democratic hoax,’ said that it would ‘just go away in April,‘ urged his armed goons to ‘liberate’ states under lockdown, criticized the wearing of masks, organized superspreader events and pushed for schools to fully reopen, potentially putting millions of children at risk.  The president’s response to Woodward’s revelations was a classic doubling down.  He had not wanted to create a panic by ‘jumping up and down’ yelling ‘this is a disaster.’  Apparently either that or lying to the American people were the only options he saw, and the idea that he could have managed the crisis and saved lives never entered his mind.

This week nature put climate change on top of the agenda, with the largest wildfires in known history raging in the western states and another major hurricane hitting the gulf coast.  Visiting California Trump repeated his earlier opinion, expressed during the 2018 Paradise fire, that climate change is a fable and that the fires are caused by dead leaves and underbrush that haven’t been removed, conveniently forgetting that 57% of the California forests are owned by the federal government.  He told environmental scientists he met with that it ‘would get colder,’ and that he ‘doesn’t think science knows’ anything about climate change, before he flew off to another indoors rally in Nevada, violating that state’s Governor’s orders.  When asked if he didn’t worry about getting infected because only few attendees wore masks the US President said ‘no, because I’m on a podium, far enough removed from the crowd.’  Before attending such events Trump’s followers still have to sign a waiver stating that they won’t sue the Trump campaign if they get infected, which may absolve the president legally but not morally from the carnage he causes.

The Russian front was also full of action.  A whistleblower revealed that DHS had been directed to no longer focus on Russian election interference, ‘because it could embarrass the president,’ after oral reporting to Congress had been halted.  Simultaneously the monitoring of white supremacist groups, according to official intelligence reports the number one internal security threat in the US, would have to be toned down.  It turned out that Giuliani worked with a Russian agent to smear Biden, and John Durham’s main associate quit for fear of DOJ pressure on his probe.

Other than by threatening to selectively and prematurely bring out information about Durham’s investigation of the FBI’s surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016, Bill Barr is helping Trump by having his department substitute for the president in the defamation suit of E. Jean Carroll, who accuses Trump of rape.  And to top it off the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into John Bolton’s book ‘The Room Where it Happened’ for possibly having revealed state secrets.

It’s now obvious that Trump is not trying to regularly win the election but that he’s just trying to consolidate power.  ‘If I don’t win it’s rigged,’ is his mantra, and made men of his mafia family like Michael Caputo, who freaked out in his misinformation job at DHSS and will soon check into a funny farm, and Roger Stone, are urging his followers to stack up on ammo respectively for Trump to institute martial law.


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Trump is a One Trick Pony

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

The US is facing three major crises, but the president is addressing only one, and not by trying to solve it but by trying to make it worse.  First there is the COVID pandemic.  Trump has made it clear that the administration will just wait for a vaccine that according to him might be available by Election Day.  This is his wettest dream, but both the executive in charge of operation Warp Speed and nine pharmaceutical companies have already promised that there will be no shortcuts in getting a vaccine approved, and a majority of Americans doesn’t trust anything the president says about vaccines anymore.  Secondly there is the economy.  Trump is taking credit for its pre-pandemic strength, which was really created by Obama and the Fed, while its partial collapse due to the pandemic the product was of his ineptitude.  The refusal of senate Republicans to pass an adequate second relief package means that the recession will intensify and well over 10 million mostly low income workers and their families will continue to suffer.  And then there is the crisis in race relations, caused by numerous police killings of black Americans, the one crisis Trump has decided to take care of.

Violence in the streets is a necessary condition for the president’s law and order strategy, his Hail Mary pass to save his re-election chances, so he’s doing everything he can to stoke the flames in ‘Democrat’ cities, attacking both Mayors and demonstrators and urging his own armed goons to confront the latter, even defending a murderer who shot two BLM activists.   It isn’t working all that well, because in Wisconsin, which had the latest riots in Kenosha, Trump’s poll numbers went down while Biden’s went up.  To complement his strategy with a fitting insult to America’s minorities the president ordered an end to all diversity training within the government, calling it ‘anti-American.’  A fourth crisis Trump faces is entirely of his own making.  The Atlantic reported that the president, who had refused to visit a cemetery in France where 1,800 US Marines are buried because his hair might get wet, had referred to the fallen soldiers as ‘losers,’ and on another occasion had said that only ‘suckers’ went to Vietnam.  It was nothing new, in light of Trump’s earlier remarks about John McCain and George H.W. Bush, but it sounded harsher than ever before.  

The article came out a few days after a poll showed that the president is no longer supported by a majority of service members, and a good rule says that when you’re in a hole you should stop digging, but Trump doubled down.  Simultaneously he posed as a champion of the military’s rank and file by pretending that he wants to bring them home while top generals want to keep going to war, so that weapons producers can continue to profit.  It was a peculiar statement from a president who prides himself in having significantly raised the Pentagon’s procurement budget.

A budget that wasn’t managed too well was that of the Trump campaign, where $800 million of $1.1 billion disappeared without much to show for it.  Of the spent money $60 million went to Trump’s lawyers, $38 million to Brad Parscale’s digital business, and an unknown amount to the Trump Organization for space rentals, lodging and catering.  The new campaign manager, Bill Stepien, who replaced Parscale, halted advertising in a number of states and now operates on a shoestring.

With all this going on there are the books.  First Mary Trump’s about her uncle, then a book about Melania by her former BFF, now Michael Cohen’s farewell to the Trump mafia family and soon Bob Woodward’s ‘Rage,’ for which the president was interviewed multiple times but that he’s already attacking.  With those titles and a number of earlier publications Trump can have quite a library after his presidency.

 

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Trump Promises Fascism

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

In an unguarded moment Trump said that if order is not maintained you get fascism, a couple of days after his advisor Kellyanne Conway in an even more unguarded moment said that the president will benefit from violence and chaos in the streets.  The logical conclusion is that Trump will bring fascism, and he’s already delivering on that promise.  In Kenosha, Wi, a black man was shot in the back seven times by a policeman.  The president called it a mistake, the result of ‘choking’ by the officer, comparable to a golfer who misses a three foot-putt.  During protests that followed the shooting a 17-year old Trump-addict, who had come from out of state with an assault rifle, shot and killed two left wing demonstrators.  Trump defended the murderer, saying that he ‘would probably have been killed’ if he had not defended himself, possibly because the president had been told that one of the victims was armed with a skateboard.  Similarly, Trump defended the ‘Great Patriots’ who drove around Portland in pickup trucks shooting paintballs at demonstrators.  ‘Paintballs are not bullets but are defensive weapons,’ the president pontificated.

Trump’s statements since the Trump Cult Convention, where speakers tried to paint the president as a champion of women’s and black causes, and that ended with an illegal superspreader event on the White House South Lawn last Thursday, have made abundantly clear what his election strategy is: foment and focus on violence in ‘Democrat’ cities, hoping that Americans will forget about his mismanagement of the corona pandemic and the economic recession resulting from it.  A crucial element of that strategy is painting Joe Biden as a crypto-radical who endorses left-wing violence or at least refuses to condemn it.  It requires solid faith in Trump’s superpowers to think that that might work.  On multiple occasions Joe Biden has already strongly condemned violence on all sides, while the president is publicly promoting violence from right wing militias.  Moreover, over 6 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19 and 183,000 have died, and in spite of parts of the economy re-opening the official unemployment rate is around 10%, which means that real unemployment is over 15%, and millions have lost their extra monthly benefits.

Trump realizes that encouraging violence is not enough, so he is adding a dimension that would take the US straight back to the Jim Crow era: Biden will bring ‘low income housing’ to the suburbs, Trump-speak for black men, who will threaten the white women who live there.  The nakedness of the president’s racism is on full display here but a large majority of the population has moved on since the 1870s, where Trump evidently got stuck in US history.   Less than a week after the convention that suggested the opposite it is once more clear that he is running a blatantly racist campaign.    

Yesterday Trump visited Kenosha, although the mayor and the governor asked him not to come. It was a campaign stop in the most conservative part of Wisconsin, where he absolutely has to win ‘bigly’ to carry the state. The president started by calling the mayor a fool, for not asking him to send federal agents to his city, which would undoubtedly generate more violence, and ended with an event with law enforcement officers that included one black couple, of which the man was not allowed to talk, only to say a prayer.

Afraid to lose any part of his base Trump refuses to distance himself from Klansmen and anti-Semites, nazis and white nationalists, QAnon maniacs and vigilantes. He’ll have to continue showing his support for all those miscreants while trying to hide it from the ‘suburban housewives’ he is courting, which would be an impossible assignment even for a brilliant actor, let alone for a former reality TV star who is well beyond his prime.

 

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It’s all about Trump now

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

The Republican Party does not have a platform anymore and has officially transformed itself into the Trump-cult that unofficially it has become since 2016.  Instead of presenting policies for the next four years the GOP convention is all about Trump, and the policies are whatever comes up in his head, something even the president doesn’t know yet.  Other than with an empty to-do list the party also seems to operate in a social vacuum.  The corona pandemic is the biggest problem in the USA today and the main challenge for the next president, but you wouldn’t know it if you listened to the convention speeches but dozed off for the one minute Melania Trump expressed sympathy for the victims and thanked the first responders, to subsequently lecture America about social media bullying, something her husband excels at.  After COVID-19 was thus removed from reality Larry Kudlow claimed that Trump built the greatest economy ever in three years, disregarding that the Obama-expansion continued but only with less growth, Pam Biondi blamed the Bidens for nepotism, and Matt Gaetz said that Joe Biden wanted MS13 to move in next door.

Meanwhile it is clear that apart from hysterical lies about Biden told by Kimberly Guilfoyle, Don Jr. and Eric Trump, Trump’s strategy is two-fold.  Pre-election he tries to discourage voting by mail by sabotaging the USPS and to intimidate in-person voters by threatening to send sheriffs to polling stations, hoping that many voters will consider it useless or too dangerous to vote.  Post-election he will claim widespread fraud and refuse to accept the result unless he wins, saying that ‘we may not know for weeks, months, or maybe never who won the election.’ He pursues this strategy in spite of the fact that his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, is all for voting by mail.  Grilled by members of Congress Postmaster General Louis DeJoy promised that mail-in ballots will be processed on time, but promises from Trump appointees are usually not worth more than a diploma from Trump University, in this case especially because DeJoy refused to undo the removal of mailboxes and sorting machines that has already taken place.  A tweet from the president that ballot boxes have not been sanitized was flagged by Twitter as misleading.

The corona crisis was not entirely ignored by Trump, who at a Sunday presser announced that the FDA had issued an emergency authorization for the use of ‘convalescent plasma‘ to treat COVID patients, in spite of obstruction by the ‘Deep State.’  The president claimed that for 35% of the patients the treatment was effective, but FDA commissioner Hahn later withdrew his support for that statement.  This episode is seen by pundits as a test run to announce an even more dangerous approval of an equally untested vaccine before the November election.

Asked at a White House presser about his support for a QAnon cult member who is running for a House seat Trump was told that QAnon believes he will protect the world from a cabal of satanic worshippers and cannibalistic pedophiles.  ‘Is that a bad thing?’ he asked, after claiming that he doesn’t know much about QAnon other than that they like him very much.  It may have inspired Charlie Kirk to say that Trump is ‘the bodyguard of Western civilization’ at the GOP convention.

During the convention Trump and his family members are repeatedly breaching the boundaries between campaigning and governing.  The president used a pardon and a small naturalization ceremony as propaganda material, and his wife gave her speech from the White House rose garden she just mutilated, all violations of the Hatch Act, but hey, who is going to prosecute?


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