Media (451)

 

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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Trump Interrupted

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

It was too early for an October surprise, but a surprise it was.  Yesterday the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report about its investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016.  The conclusions of the report go beyond what Robert Mueller found earlier:  there was intensive collusion between the campaign and Russians, of which at least one was connected to his country’s security services; Trump had welcomed the Russian interference in the election; his campaign manager had regularly provided the Russians with campaign data, and on at least one occasion the president had committed perjury answering Mueller’s written questions.  The committee characterized the collusion as ‘a grave counter-intelligence threat.’  The report came as a blow to Trump, who had been planning a further roll-out of the ‘Obamagate’ narrative by Bill Barr, arguing that Obama and Biden had illegally spied on his campaign while there was no reason to suspect that anything fishy was going on.  The president even said that he should get a third term because of what had happened to his first campaign.

Potentially an even bigger blow was the reversal of changes at the postal service that would have made voting by mail difficult or even impossible.  On Fox News Trump spoke the quiet part out loud, stating that if the Democrats don’t make a deal on his very limited corona relief package they won’t get money for the USPS, and without that money they cannot have universal mail-in voting.  Without evidence the president keeps claiming that mail-in voting will lead to massive fraud, even saying that in California ‘they send ballots to everybody and their dogs, even dead people.’ But his Postmaster General, who milked the postal service for millions via one of his companies before he started destroying it, was forced – by threatening legal action by state AGs and congressional Democrats – to issue a statement that all changes would be delayed until after the elections.  Even Trump suddenly tweeted ‘SAFE THE POST OFFICE,’ probably after he was told that the USPS is twice as popular as he is, but it is still unclear if the changes that have already been made, the removal of mailboxes and high-speed sorting machines, will be undone.

Even if the postal service is restored to full capacity in time for the elections there may be major damage, because by constantly sowing doubt about voting by mail Trump could have made numerous voters decide that to even try to vote isn’t worth it, while it also gives him an ‘argument’ to challenge the result of the election if he loses, and possibly even to demand that all votes that have not been counted on election day be discarded.  It goes to show that the president knows that at this point he’s losing and will do everything to stay in power, just like the autocrats he admires.

After launching a new racist ‘birther’ campaign, this time against Kamala Harris, Trump issued some strong opinions on cities with Democratic majorities.  About New York City, which has strict gun laws, he said ‘if you take their guns away they’ll sue you,’ earning him the endorsement of Pat Lynch, the head of the largest police union.  More in general the president said ‘let Democrat cities die,’ but about Wisconsin, where he badly trails Biden, he said ‘every lawn has a Trump sign.’

Trump visited his brother, Robert, in the hospital for less than an hour on the day before Robert died, and then went golfing.  Speaking about his brother the president as usually made it all about himself, saying that Robert had been ‘very happy’ with his presidency and was very angry with China.  Trump expected to meet his brother again, but it is of course possible that Robert doesn’t end up in hell.


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Trump’s Worst Nightmare

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Donald Trump doesn’t sleep a lot, and it won’t get any better soon.  The president is a racist and a misogynist, so Joe Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris, a black woman, as his VP candidate is about the worst thing that could have happened to him.  Harris’s race and gender are sufficient to launch Trump into the curtains of the Oval Office, let alone her political and legal skills and electrifying laugh.  In the Vice Presidential debate she’ll send Mike Pence crying to the wife he calls ‘mother,’ and on the campaign trail she’ll be a formidable asset.  Trump undoubtedly considers it ‘unfair’ that Biden did this to him, after he had just shown such gracious generosity to the American people.  First he signed an executive order that pre-existing conditions have to be covered by health insurance plans.  Nasty slanderers call that an empty gesture, because those conditions are already covered by Obamacare, which Trump is trying to get invalidated by the courts, but the president argues that even if the ACA is overturned pre-existing conditions  will still be covered, just not for the 25 million Americans who will lose their coverage altogether.

Next, the president signed four executive orders at his country club in New Jersey, surrounded by members who mostly didn’t wear masks and didn’t care about social distancing, violating the directives of NJ’s governor but just how Trump likes it.   The orders, some of which are really just suggestions, pertain to halting evictions and deferring student loan payments, and extending unemployment benefits by $400/week as well as deferring payroll taxes.  The latter two are the most controversial because the president expects the states to contribute $100 of the $400, money the states simply don’t have, and taxation is a responsibility of Congress, not of the executive branch.  Moreover, payroll taxes fund Social Security, so any cuts in these taxes threaten a program most Americans rely on, now and in the future.  On the corona front Trump has given up on protecting the American people.  He would rather not talk about the pandemic, but when asked he says that the US is doing great, much better than the world, and that it will all go away, while Americans are still getting sick in record numbers and testing becomes a bigger mess every day.

It’s fairly obvious that Trump sees a vaccine as his only way out of this predicament, and therefore he keeps announcing that a safe and effective vaccine might be available on or just before Election Day, no matter how unlikely that is.  And nobody would be surprised if the president would take a shortcut and start touting his BFF Putin’s vaccine, of which the safety and effectiveness has not been demonstrated in any way.  Peter Navarro may already be negotiating the purchase of millions of doses that will probably end up next to his hydroxychloroquine collection.

In his attempt to sabotage the upcoming elections Trump’s Postmaster General, after creating a mess by ‘re-aligning’ USPS management and changing delivery procedures, is now trying to inflate costs by raising the postage on mail-in votes by 300%, something the states cannot afford.  With a pandemic raging in the country Trump will force people to either risk their life or lose their vote, and even pro-Trump Republicans realize that it affects his voters as well as Biden’s.

As always the president was good for a few laughs this week.  First it came out that he inquired with the governor of South Dakota if and how he could get his countenance added to Mount Rushmore, and then he stated that the Spanish Flu pandemic, which lasted from 1918 to 1920, ended WW II in 1945.  Only when it comes to gaffes can Trump compete successfully with Joe Biden and come out a winner.


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