Media (437)

 

No Power to Block

Vice President Mike Pence told President Trump on Tuesday that he did not believe he had the power to block congressional certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the presidential election despite Mr. Trump’s baseless insistence that he did, people briefed on the conversation said.

Mr. Pence’s message, delivered during his weekly lunch with the president, came hours after Mr. Trump further turned up the public pressure on the vice president to do his bidding when Congress convenes Wednesday in a joint session  to ratify Mr. Biden’s Electoral College win.      

   

 

Trump Scorches the Earth All Around

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

A scorched earth military strategy aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy.  It can be applied to keep a losing enemy from regrouping, as William Tecumseh Sherman did in the southern states, or to keep a winning enemy from advancing too fast, as Nazi Germany did in Russia.  The bizarre thing about Trump’s ‘strategy’ is that it affects his own forces more negatively than the enemy’s.  His obstruction of the transition process frustrates the Biden team, but also threatens the security of the American people, of which 46.8% voted for him.  His vetoing the National Defense Authorization Act would hurt the military – where he has a lot of support – if there is no override in the Senate, and it puts Republicans in a bind because they have to choose between loyalty to the president and loyalty to the troops.  His initial refusal to sign the COVID relief bill and his demand to increase payments to $2,000 created a similar dilemma for members of his own party, who looked like sheep if they followed Trump and voted along with Nancy Pelosi and like assholes if they didn’t.  Delaying the 2021 omnibus spending bill would have hurt all Americans.

Trump is furious because he has convinced himself with the help of a couple of lunatics that the election was stolen from him, so he lashed out at the Democrats who are the culprits, at the ‘fake news’ media for not reporting the theft and at Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans for not supporting his campaign for ‘electoral justice.’ Paradoxically he is also angry at the American people for not in majority voting for him.  In his convoluted attempts to hurt all of the above his raging brain came up with ridiculous arguments, like refusing to sign the budget bill because it contains items from his own budget proposal that were put in there by his Treasury Secretary, Mnuchin.  Meanwhile his delayed signing of the relief bill has already cost the neediest Americans $300 in unemployment benefits, and his bringing $2,000 relief checks into play put Georgia’s senators Perdue and Loeffler in a pickle, because they had to choose between being loyal to McConnell or to Trump and most of their electorate.   This coming weekend the president will campaign for them and if they still change their minds and go with McConnell he might as well go golfing.

With 1 in every 17 Americans infected with COVID and over 1 in every 1,000 Americans dead because of the virus neither Trump, who spends most of his days on the golf course, nor Pence, who is skiing in Colorado, have spoken out about the surge or tried to boost the vaccination campaign.  Mike Pence is the president’s last hope, because Trump seems to think that the Vice President can refuse to accept the result of the Electoral College vote on January 6th and declare him the winner, although for backup he has urged his hoodlums to come to DC for a ‘wild’ day.

It is fitting that in the current situation Representative Louie Gohmert, a former judge who would fall off the bottom of the scale if he ever took an IQ test, filed a lawsuit to compel a federal judge to tell Pence to violate the Constitution and commit an auto-coup in the middle of the Congress.  Even Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell have not come up with something so ludicrous, although Hizzoner would probably pull the hair out of his head because he didn’t think of it if he had hair.

More important than the pandemic was for Trump that Melania has not been on magazine covers as First Lady, which caused him to air an undoubtedly heartfelt complaint, and out of the blue Ivanka Trump, whose three children have one grandfather pardoned by the other grandfather, tweeted ‘Iowa,’ suggesting that maybe the president’s idiot daughter considers running in 2024.


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Dereliction of Duty

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Every blog entry needs a title, but ‘dereliction of duty’ is too kind for what Trump is doing at this point in time. However, it is probably too early for ‘treason’ and it may never come to that no matter how hard the president tries.  With the COVID pandemic raging and over 320,000 US deaths, the vaccine roll-out facing serious logistical challenges, a minimal disaster relief package passing Congress via a last minute vote and a large-scale Russian invasion of US computer systems of which the damage cannot yet be assessed, Trump was laser focused on reversing the result of the presidential election Joe Biden won by 7 million votes.  Strengthened by a report produced by his trade advisor Peter Navarro covering ‘six dimensions of election irregularities’ and claiming that 379,000 possibly illegal votes were cast, which, if reversed, would make him the winner in all the swing states, the president set out to finally claim his prize, his war cabinet consisting of Sidney Ponson, who suggested grabbing and investigating voting machines, Michael Flynn, who argued for invoking martial law and re-running the election, and Rudy Giuliani, who filed yet another bizarre lawsuit.

The main problem of Navarro’s report is that all its ‘facts’ have been rejected in courts in the states they pertain to.  Giuliani, in an assist of Sidney Ponson, inquired with the Department of Homeland Security if voting machines can be confiscated but found no support there, and his latest suit, filed with the Supreme Court, will be rejected as expeditiously as the last one, and was probably only filed to give Trump false hope and keep him from doing something really stupid.  While these plots were being hatched the president lost quite a few friends.  Mitch McConnell was already on his shitlist because he urged Republican senators not to challenge the election results, and White House Counsel Pat Cippolone joined him for disapproving of Flynn’s cockamamie idea.  Giuliani and Mark Meadows, who also rejected both Ponson’s and Flynn’s nefarious schemes, are still hanging by a thin thread, but not Bill Barr, who fell off the pedestal Trump had put him on by refusing to appoint Special Counsels to investigate voting machines and Hunter Biden and by declaring Russia responsible for the computer hacking, an opinion expressed earlier by Mike Pompeo to Trump’s chagrin. 

Regarding the hacking of government computer systems the president tweeted that he had been fully briefed and that it wasn’t a big deal, while a declaration about Russia’s culpability was shot down at the eleventh hour by the White House.  It raises the question of Trump’s allegiance to Moscow once again, with explanations ranging from anger about his presidency being delegitimized by the ‘Russian collusion hoax’ to financial dependency and possibly even blackmail.  Hopefully criminal investigations under way in the Manhattan DA’s office will shed light on this matter.   

In a late night Oval Office meeting, attended by his looniest advisors including a new QAnon House member, but also by Mike Pence, the president charted a course towards disrupting the Electoral College’s reporting to Congress on January 6th.  This is an empty and rather pathetic gesture that at worst will make the ceremony more time consuming than necessary, but it will force Pence to fold himself into a complex pretzel because he will ultimately have to accept the report.

Last night Trump granted pardons and commutations to 20 crooks in one of the most corrupt and immoral acts of his presidency. Among the beneficiaries are two people indicted by Robert Mueller, three former GOP congressmen and four ex-contractors convicted for killing 17 unarmed civilians in Iraq. Surprisingly, the president also threatened to veto the COVID relief bill, probably to piss off McConnell.

 

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The Snake and the Turtle

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Yesterday Mitch McConnell, nicknamed ‘the Turtle,’ finally congratulated President-Elect Joe Biden.  He waited until another creature, Vladimir Putin a.k.a. ‘the Snake,’ had done the same, enforcing the notion that he is indeed Moscow Mitch, who waited for permission from his boss.  Trump was still in denial, having explained in an interview before Monday’s Electoral College vote that he was driven by concern about the possibility that someone might become president who has not been elected by a majority of the voters (!).  After he lost that EC vote the president became an electoral luddite, tweeting that ‘tremendous’ problems have been found with voting machines that showed a 68% error rate in Michigan.  It was the prelude to Trump’s last act, for which Stephen Miller announced the appointment of alternate Electors who could still replace the official Electors if Congress questioned the election results in particular states when the Electoral College reports on January 6th.  This is a putschist’s wet dream the president and Miller share, but Mike Pence will have to accept the report and acknowledge Biden’s victory and then it will all be over.

After almost a year of mixed messaging, attacking science and making fun of mask-wearing, as well as staging a superspreader election campaign and even this month still organizing an X-mas party with 400 largely un-masked guests in the White House, not outdone by a party at the State Department where only 70 guests showed up, Trump takes full credit for the roll-out of the first COVID vaccine, claiming that ‘the world has never seen anything like it’ and ‘Biden couldn’t have done this,’ in spite of the fact that by consistently disparaging scientists he has considerably contributed to the vaccine-scepticism that threatens the development of herd immunity in the US.  And after initially prioritizing White House staffers to be injected the president took a step back and indicated that nobody would jump the line, although it’s pretty certain that preferential treatment is available for him and his cronies, like it was for Rudy Giuliani, who had access to Regeneron’s anti-body cocktail and therefore only lost his legal reputation but not his life, and Chris Christie, who was treated with a similar medication, although Trump probably regrets that now.

Around the time Joe Biden broke the 270 vote barrier in the Electoral College that secured his victory the White House announced the resignation of AG Barr, giving the president a share of the limelight.  Trump was furious because Barr had declared that the Department of Justice had not identified any consequential election fraud and because an investigation of Hunter Biden’s finances had not been made public, in compliance with DOJ policy.  It is more than likely that Barr’s successor is already under orders to appoint a Special Counsel to continue this probe.  

As long as the president keeps pretending that there is still a chance that he might stay in office he keeps scamming his followers for money, and for that he leaves no stone unturned.  Next to his re-tweeting a demand of jail time for the GOP Governor and Secretary of State of Georgia Trump solicited financial contributions for the senate races in that state, with in the small print of his request the specification that the money would be split in 75% for him and 25% for the RNC.   

While Melania is already packing her bags there is some concern about the well-being of the Trumps at Mar-a-Lago, where they will have to do with a 3,000 square feet suite after the 55,000 square feet White House residence and their similarly sized Trump Tower apartment.  It looks like Ivanka and Jared, who just bought a $30 million property in Florida, will have more space.


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The Art of Losing

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

From his early childhood on Donald Trump’s father told him that in life there are only winners and losers, and that the latter, a plurality of mankind, are worthless and despicable.  It explains why Trump has always put on charades to present his many losses as triumphs of savvy business practices, a habit that was facilitated by the fact that the president genuinely enjoys lying, not just for practical purposes but also for his own amusement, as his niece Mary explained.  Therefore the first thing Trump said at his Georgia rally last Saturday was ‘I won the election,’ followed by his ‘arguments’ why he couldn’t possibly have lost: the fact that he won Florida and Ohio and his claim that he won 18 of 19 bellwether counties.  Looking for companionship in his suffering of electoral injustice the president told his audience ‘you’re all victims,’ and in a rare moment of truth telling added that he never in his life worked as hard as the last couple of weeks, implicitly acknowledging that stealing an election is harder than scamming his followers out of a quarter of a billion dollars. Meanwhile his court cases are not going anywhere with more than 50 losses, including one yesterday in the Supreme Court, and only a bizar lawsuit filed by the indicted Texas Attorney General still pending there.

With the end of Trump’s legal campaign to overturn the election’s outcome symbolized by Rudy Giuliani’s ending up in the hospital with COVID and Hizzoner’s sidekick Jenna Ellis also infected the president has turned to illegitimate means to achieve his goal.  After failed entreaties with Michigan legislators to have them appoint a slate of pro-Trump electors he called Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp under the false pretense of compassion with the death of a family friend to press him to convene the legislature in an emergency session and do the same thing.  Even Kemp, a staunch Trump supporter, refused to take that illegal action, but instead urged his state’s congressional delegation to take a good look at the now – after two recounts – trice certified results when they are presented to Congress on January 6th, a totally empty gesture just to appease the president.  Not yet discouraged Trump called the Speaker of Pennsylvania’s House, undoubtedly with a similar request but now pretending that it was just a social call.  After yesterday’s ‘Safe Harbor Day,’ when certified results can no longer be overturned, the president is entirely out of options, although he may hope for help from the more than 200 Republican Members of Congress who have not yet processed that Biden won.

In an attempt to take a victory lap before the race is over the White House on Tuesday organized a ‘vaccine summit’ from which the producers of the most promising vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, were absent because the companies considered participating inappropriate.  Simultaneously it became known that the government failed to secure more than 50 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine last summer, so that there is already talk of a shortage before vaccinations have started, and with another empty gesture Trump signed an ‘America First’ Executive Order regarding the vaccine.

The art of the grift sits deep with the Trump family, and during a disposition by Ivanka in a DC court it turned out that the president’s hotel charged the Trump Inauguration Committee 35 times its normal non-profit rate, which explains why one year Ivanka took $4 million in profits home from the hotel.  Next to this self-dealing there were over 200 companies, special interest groups and foreign governments, all of whom benefitted from Trump’s policies, using his facilities and services.

According to all reporting Trump is still bouncing between rage and delusion, and during the presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to wrestling coach Dan Gable on Monday his feelings spilled over.  When asked if he was going to attend Biden’s inauguration the president abruptly left the Oval Office, leaving Gable and his family flabbergasted and without official pictures.


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