Media (415)

 

Freedom of Speech

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

There are many firsts in the Trump presidency, because there has never been a more dishonest, incompetent and vulgar occupant of the Oval Office, but, as per Maureen Dowd’s observation, a remarkable novelty is that the president has become the leader of the opposition against policies his own clownish administration has implemented.  Every day Trump encourages bands of his deplorables, often armed with assault weapons and flying the confederate flag, to break rules that have been imposed by governors who are following White House directives.  In a desperate gamble that reopening the country will bring back a flourishing economy just in time for him to be re-elected the president is sending his dumbest minions to their potential deaths at a pace that makes D-Day and the Wilderness pale by comparison.  And Trump’s attack on public health doesn’t stop there.  Contrary to official guidelines and the opinion of experts that universal wearing of masks in public settings reduces the spread of the virus by 80% he mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask and demanded that a reporter take his mask off, subsequently sarcastically calling the man’s refusal ‘politically correct.’

Next to politicizing public health the president also found time to attack democracy itself.  In a series of tweets he claimed that widespread voting by mail, a logical solution for problems that will occur if the pandemic persists or there is a second wave in the fall, would inevitably lead to massive voter fraud.  Since vote-by-mail is already an established practice in many states and there are absolutely no data supporting Trump’s prediction, for the first time executives at Twitter felt compelled to fact-check and contextualize two of his tweets.  Furious because his ‘freedom of speech,’ which in his opinion apparently allows the US President to lie about and obstruct the electoral process, had been ‘violated,’ Trump threatened with executive action against the social media platforms, for instance by taking away some of their protections.  Since projection is always the president’s porcupine reaction when criticism is leveled at him it’s not surprising that in defense of his ‘right’ to produce blatant falsehoods that serve both his interests and the GOP, for which voter suppression is an art form, he is willing to attack instruments of freedom of speech.

Trump should be grateful that Twitter didn’t close his account altogether for his outrageous insinuation that MSNBC host and former Congressman Joe Scarborough murdered a female intern – who had a seizure and a deadly fall in his Florida office while Scarborough was in DC – according to the president because the two had an affair.  The husband of the woman asked Twitter to take down Trump’s tweets, writing ‘the president of the United States has taken something that doesn’t belong to him: the memory of my wife,’ but so far Twitter has allowed the lies to stand.

Pretending that everything is becoming normal again Trump played golf twice last weekend and demanded that there be a jam-packed arena for the GOP convention in Charlotte, NC, threatening to otherwise move the event.  In spite of his busy schedule the president found time to feud with Jeff Sessions on Twitter, called Hillary Clinton a ‘skank,’ fatshamed Stacey Abrams and asked reporters if he should start taking insulin, ‘because he has heard that a lot of seniors take it.’

On the day the US death toll passed 100,000 and confronted with his own prediction that the number would remain much lower Trump still bragged about his decision to shut down entries from China, which as is now obvious didn’t have any effect whatsoever, and said that the death toll could have easily been one or two million, effectivey claiming the current number as a huge victory.

 
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More Stupidity Every Day

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Donald Trump’s election prospects are rapidly diminishing and it literally drives him nuts.  Since there is nothing he can do about it other than tweet, rant, lie, insult and seek confrontations with the press he is only making things worse for himself and nobody can stop him, certainly not his campaign manager Brad Parscale, who decided that filling his own pockets is more important than getting Trump re-elected and may not stay in his position until November.  Early this week the president informed the nation that he is taking hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic for the corona virus, probably for fear that it is hanging around in his residence.  Informed about the lack of evidence that the drug offers any protection against becoming infected and told that it could have serious side effects Trump claimed that thousands of first line workers are taking it for the same reason, which turned out to be a blatant lie.  He also produced a statement from his doctor saying  that he had discussed the medication with the president, but not that he had prescribed it.  By the middle of the week Trump announced that he was ending the regimen, presumably sufficiently protected by now.

When Nancy Pelosi commented that she would rather not have the president take a dangerous drug, especially in light of his ‘morbidly obese’ condition, Trump responded by saying that the Speaker has a lot of mental problems.  It was the beginning of a fusillade of insults, the first one directed at the Jury Forewoman in the Roger Stone trial, the second at ‘Morning Joe’ anchor Joe Scarborough, whom the president accused of being responsible for the death of an intern when he was a member of the House, and the third at the governor of Michigan, who was attacked because her state sent out applications for absentee ballots.  Trump mistook the action for an attempt to promote mail-in voting, which would have been perfectly legal as well by the way, and in his comments made clear that he would do anything in his power to suppress the vote in November.  The president went as far as threatening to withhold funding from Michigan if it promoted voting by mail, a federal crime and an impeachable offense, which was even more shameless and disgusting because the state is not only fighting the corona virus but also its worst flooding in 500 years.

Trump’s formally grown up sons followed in his footsteps, and while Don Jr. tweeted that Joe Biden is a pedophile but later claimed that it was a joke, showing that he has not only inherited his father’s bad taste but also his sense of humor, Eric told Jeanine Pirro on Fox News that the corona virus is a ploy to keep the president from having mass rallies, taking away his most powerful campaign tool, and that it will magically disappear after November 3rd.  It’s not clear if this was also a joke but it sure sounded funny, as is to be expected from the family clown.

And although Trump would definitely love to hang Obama he refuses to hang Obama’s portrait in the White House, breaking a long tradition.  The president defended his firing of the State Department’s Inspector General by explaining that he doesn’t want Mike Pompeo to do the dishes ‘because his wife isn’t at home.’  Asked about the mounting number of deaths in meatpacking plants Trump said that ‘the plants are much cleaner now,’ adding that he doesn’t know what that means.

After sending a letter to the WHO in which he lied about the time the corona outbreak was first reported the president was asked if in retrospect he would have done anything differently, and over 1.5 million infections and almost 100,000 deaths later he said ‘no’ and called it ‘a badge of honor’ that the US ranks #1 in the world in controlling the number of deaths, together with Germany.  In reality the US is 131st.

 

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Transition to Greatness

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

It’s Trump’s latest slogan and it stands for the following pipe dream: in a matter of weeks the US will be fully open for business again, people will be back at work, the economy will start recovering in the third quarter of 2020 and thanks to pent-up demand will do even better in the fourth quarter, and in 2021 America will have the greatest economy ever, even greater than the economy that was shut down by the corona virus.  Obviously Donald J. Trump, who masterminded this miracle, will be re-elected.  However, there are some irritating obstacles that need to be removed for this to happen: the CDC produced guidelines for a responsible gradual reopening of parts of counties and states that would significantly slow down the process, so they will never see the light of day.  Officially there are now over 85,000 COVID-19 deaths in the US, but according to a Harvard study the real number is over 110,000, and that is too high to give people confidence in anything the president says or does, so the number needs to be lowered by questioning the cause of death in many cases.  And then there is the exasperating Dr. Anthony Fauci with his dire predictions for the fall.

At a Monday presser Trump tried to frame his optimistic scenario by lying about where America ranks in the world in testing and death rates, saying: ‘We have met the moment and we have prevailed.’  Sadly he was contradicted by Dr. Fauci, who warned in Senate testimony that reopening the country too soon and without adequate testing and attention for local conditions would generate a new wave of infections and deaths in the fall that would jeopardize any chance of an economic recovery in the near future.  The president called Fauci’s remarks ‘unacceptable’ and took particular offense with the doctor’s admonition that prematurely opening schools would increase health risks for children, parents and grandparents.  Trump appears to understand that as long as children don’t go to school many parents won’t be able to go to work, assuming that their jobs still exist, but he is not in a position to argue with Fauci.  When it comes to matters of life and death a majority of Americans want to be told the truth, something the president has never been able to do.  To make things worse for him, today Fauci’s warnings were augmented by Dr. Rick Bright.

Bright, who was fired from his position as the government’s point man for vaccine development because he refused to promote the drug Chloroquine, testified in the House that the White House was unprepared for the pandemic in spite of frequent warnings, and predicted ‘the darkest winter in modern history.’  Among the things the administration failed to do was stockpiling medical supplies, something Trump consistently blames Obama for, conveniently disregarding that the previous administration was stymied in all its efforts to make such purchases by the Tea Party.

Although the president will probably be trumpeting about greatness for a while it won’t get him re-elected, so he’s already pivoting to a last resort ‘whatabouttism’ he calls ‘Obamagate.’  In the cockamamie narrative under this title Obama, and by association Joe Biden, conspired even before the 2016 election to undermine a potential Trump administration by using the FBI to spy on the president’s campaign and profiling Trump confidants like General Flynn as agents for the Russians.

In spite of the shameless assistance he is getting from AG Barr this gibberish won’t get Trump elected either, and with the corona virus having entered his residence he has entirely different problems to deal with.  All staffers and housekeepers in the White House have to be tested daily and wear a mask now, but the president doesn’t wear one.  He expects to be protected by everybody without protecting anybody.

 

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Every Day a 9/11

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

While the corona crisis is still developing and the virus spreads across the US it’s fascinating, albeit in a perverse way, to watch Trump rewrite history and fantasize about the future.  The president clearly is not well.  He spends hours at night tweeting insults about those who have criticized him – as long as the criticism has been on TV, otherwise he wouldn’t know about it – and changes positions faster than Secretariat at the 1973 Belmont Stakes.  Not long ago Trump considered limiting the number of deaths in America to 65,000 a ‘spectacular job,’ but now he’s looking at more than double that number by late July, when 3,000 Americans are expected to die every day.  As the number of deaths increases the standard against which the president measures his performance changes drastically.  Originally it was 100K but now it’s 2.5 million deaths, which makes his accomplishments even more impressive.  However, for everything Trump does and sacrifices for the American people he receives very little appreciation.  ‘I’m being treated worse than Lincoln’ he said during a Fox News Town Hall, briefly forgetting that Lincoln was assassinated.

Asked whether his decision to ‘open up’ the economy will be the hardest decision he’ll ever make the president said that the decision to close it down was even harder, which is interesting because neither of those decisions were his to make.  For the latter he could only issue guidelines that he subsequently urged governors and demonstrators to ignore, and for the former he can only be a cheerleader.  Responding to the question why there were almost two months of inactivity after the first corona patient had been diagnosed in the US Trump said that Obama had not left enough supplies and a vaccine, which would have been tough since the virus didn’t emerge until 2019.  To a follow-up question why he had not used the first three years of his presidency to stock supplies he answered that he had been too busy with the Russia hoax, followed by the Ukraine hoax.   But once the urgency of the situation manifested itself a key role in the acquisition of supplies was given to Jared Kushner, who assembled a team of bumbling amateurs from the private sector that by comparison made the Keystone Cops look like Elliot Ness and his men.

As a reward for his abysmal performance or just to keep Ivanka happy Kushner has now been put in charge of operation ‘Warp Speed,’ that has to produce a vaccine by the end of the year, a move that for starters resulted in the US being absent from a global teleconference about vaccine development.  Also in that vein the White House started floating the message that the Corona Task Force would soon be disbanded, because managing the economy would now be more important than fighting the virus, so Fauci and Birx would have to take a back seat to Navarro and Hassett.

Changing the policy focus and replacing the two top pandemic experts by two economic cranks disturbed even some of Trump’s closest advisors, so the decision was put on hold, not in the least because there was no other plan than to let tens or even hundreds of thousands of Americans die and spread the blame from Obama to Biden and from China to Europe.  The president doesn’t have daily pressers anymore to convey the latter  message, but he’ll trumpet it any which way he can.

Silencing Dr. Fauci instead of letting him testify in the House relayed another message: if Trump cannot talk, nobody talks.  Yesterday the president visited a mask factory wearing safety goggles but not a mask, setting another terrible example.  This kind of behavior is inexplicable but for a serious mental disorder, and someone who understood it played ‘Live and Let Die’ in the background.

 
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Definitely not a Docta

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Occasionally Donald Trump barks, with a heavy Queens accent, ‘I’m not a docta,’ followed by ‘but I am, you know, a pretty smart guy.’  On those occasions the president is speculating – or in Dr. Birx’s terms ‘having a dialogue’- about a medical issue he doesn’t understand the first thing about.  Last Thursday Trump brought a scientist from the Department of Homeland Security to his daily presser, who explained how sun- and UV light, but also disinfectants, can make the corona virus rapidly disappear from various surfaces.   Eager to re-open the economy and win the November election the president suggested that somehow bringing UV light into the human body or injecting it with a disinfectant might take care of COVID-19.  His words were directed at Dr. Birx, who didn’t respond but slowly turned ash grey, and triggered such a negative public response that on Twitter Trump had to come up with the falsehood that he had only been sarcastic.  Later reporting showed that for quite some time producers of disinfectants have been peddling their products as useful in fighting COVID infections and might have inspired the president.

As a result of his potentially deadly suggestion Trump didn’t take questions at his Friday presser, and the next two days no press conferences were held.  Instead the president vented his anger at a New York Times article that described how he spends the mornings in his bedroom watching TV, eating hamburgers and drinking diet coke, and doesn’t get into the Oval Office until noon.   He defended himself by claiming that he works from early in the morning until late at night, which is unlikely since he tweets about morning news shows in real time.  In his fury Trump had to correct the word ‘hamberger’ in one tweet and wrote about a ‘Noble’ prize for journalism in another, later claiming that this too had been an expression of his sarcastic creativity.  More serious than the NY Times’s reporting was a Washington Post article that detailed how through January and February the president had received more than twelve warnings about the corona pandemic in his daily intelligence briefings, of which he never reads the material, precisely when he was claiming that the virus was a hoax and there were only five infections in the US.

Clearly it was time for a reset in the White House, and the news trickled out that there would be fewer press conferences and that Trump’s criticism would no longer be directed at the states but only at China.  A possible Monday presser was on, then off, and finally on again, as it was clear that the president could not let go of this platform, no matter how much it hurts his approval ratings.  In his introductory remarks Trump mysteriously declared that the pandemic had been ‘unnecessary’ but that ‘someone long ago’ had decided that it was going to occur.

Subsequently, without giving us a clue whether that someone was a Chinese functionary or maybe Obama, the president introduced executives of large pharmacy chains and testing labs,  who all declared that they are going to do a hell of a lot of testing, very similar to five weeks ago when representatives of the same companies made the same promise at another presser.  Trump meanwhile keeps claiming that the US is #1 in testing, which is untrue by all relevant standards.

The president also promised that the US would soon be testing 5 million people per day, which prompted the admiral in charge of testing to say in an interview that that was not going to happen ‘on this planet or on any other planet.’  Meanwhile during a conference call with campaign staffers Trump got so pissed off with his tanking poll numbers that he threatened to sue his campaign manager, Brad Parscale.

 

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