24

The Trump Files

The Trump Files
Gene L. Ford By

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Having observed—from a safe distance—president Donald Trump's pathetic and propaganda-driven response to the coronavirus pandemic, the nation's collapsing economy, the horrific death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the coast-to-coast protests that have followed, your intrepid reporter was moved to present (as Fox News would assert) a more "fair and balanced" narrative and safeguard it for posterity in a series he calls "The Trump Files." The reportage was begun in mid-April and should, if all goes well, end in early November.

April 24, 2020

After suggesting that ultraviolet light inside the body might kill the coronavirus, Donald J Trump, MD (Mental Deficient) said this to all Americans and his "colleagues" in the medical profession:

"I see disinfectant, where it knocks [the coronavirus] out in a minute—one minute—and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it'd be interesting to check that. So you're going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me."

Yes, you'd have to use actual medical doctors to pursue that line of inquiry.

Isn't it time we called a spade a spade?

If he weren't president, Donald J Trump, MD, would be in a STRAITJACKET!!!

Just for fun, I went to Webster's and looked up the word "trumpery." Here's what it says (among other things):

"rubbish, trash, junk, nonsense, gibberish, babbling, blather, drivel, gobbledegook, humbug, balderdash, hogwash, swill, horsefeathers."

Neatly sums up his daily press briefings, doesn't it?

April 25. 2020

One of my friends has come up with a great idea:

Trump, Pence, cabinet members and Trump's fat-cat donors should volunteer to be the first to try Trump's coronavirus "cures"—UV light, internal disinfectants—as a "patriotic gesture."

At least Jim Jones only commanded his followers to drink Kool-Aid (well, there may have been some "disinfectant" involved there too)...

In other news:

Did anyone notice the look on medical adviser Deborah Birx's face as Trump heralded his latest "miracle cures" for the coronavirus? It was like "OMG, the man is stark raving mad! How do I resist the urge to holler 'Noooooooooo!' so I can keep my job?"

As it turns out, not only did Birx resist the urge, she provided cover for the doctor-in-chief the following day on national TV, saying he was only "digesting" the briefing materials he had received that afternoon—which is a helluva lot better than our "digesting" the coronavirus "cures" he was hawking!

From Day 1, I pegged Trump as the second coming of Professor Harold Hill from "The Music Man" lightly seasoned with Professor Marvel from "The Wizard of Oz." No, my friends, River City's never gonna have that boys' band, at least not while the Professor's in town and in charge. But you do have "trouble," with "a capital T," and there's really no need to ask what that stands for . . .

April 29, 2020

Donald J Trump, VSG (Very Stable Genius) says the U.S. "is doing more testing (for coronavirus) than all other countries in the world COMBINED." Not true, but what else can we expect from the prevaricator-in-chief? On the other hand, the U.S. HAS recorded more DEATHS from COVID-19 than Spain, Italy, Germany, Canada and Russia COMBINED! When it comes to people losing their lives to coronavirus, there's no doubt who's No. 1—and it isn't even close!

What does that mean? Well, according to first-son-in-law Jared Kushner, MBS (Master of Bullshit), it represents a "great success story" in the administration's valiant struggle with the virus. Yes, more than a million Americans have been stricken with coronavirus, almost 59,000 of whom have died (in only two months, compared to a similar number in the 19-year-long Vietnam War), but geez, it could have been so much worse if Trump and Co. hadn't been on top of it from the start. Yes, the daily PDB memos may have mentioned something in January and February about the threat of a possible pandemic, but the president thought "pandemic" meant a surplus of cookware. So he takes "no responsibility" for the government's failure to recognize the problem and act accordingly, as well he shouldn't. A simple misunderstanding, that's all. Could happen to any genius.

In other news...

Vice president Mike Pence, who leads the president's Coronavirus Task Force, set a splendid example for everyone who is able to be tested for COVID-19 every hour on the half-hour, as he is, by refusing to wear a mask during this week's visit to the Mayo Clinic, taking the task force's own guidelines (and the Mayo Clinic's) and tossing them in the nearest dumpster. "That'll show him," Pence boasted, referring, of course, to the only audience that matters, his master at 1600 PA Avenue. Dr Anthony Fauci shouted, "There will be a resurgence of masks in the fall!" while Dr Deborah Birx simply shuddered, closed her eyes and bit her tongue.

April 30, 2020

Having proven his point during a visit this week to the Mayo Clinic ("I won't let no freakin' coronavirus scare ME—will I, Mr President?"), vice president Mike Pence donned a protective mask and goggles on Thursday while touring to a GM plant in Indiana. Although no reason for the change was given, it may have been an attempt to stop the rest of the world from laughing at him between groans of disbelief. As Pence did so, the president (a.k.a Bozo), never one to shy away from his administration's guidelines about social distancing and sheltering at home (or the spotlight), was making plans of his own for a trip to Arizona and a second to Ohio, saying he hoped soon to see "crowds of 25,000 or more" at his rallies, like in the good old days before he zigged when he should have zagged and helped COVID-19 take the lives of more than 60,000 of his fellow Americans. Having accomplished that, he reasoned, what's the big deal about a couple thousand more citizens testing positive? Especially when it's for such a good cause— helping get him re-elected in November. Trump, however, sees no danger ahead, as he has a "secret weapon" stashed aboard Air Force One that he is confident will take care of any trivial problems with the virus—thousands of bottles of Clorox bleach, ready to hand out to those who throng to his photo-ops. "Once they've ingested that," he told close advisers, "believe me, there'll be no more whinin' about COVID-19." He has, in fact, proposed a new campaign slogan that aides are said to be "considering": "VOTE FOR TRUMP: EVEN STRONGER AND MORE EFFECTIVE THAN CLOROX!"

In other news....

First-son-in-law Jared Kushner was on Fox News this week, saying the U.S. economy "should be rocking" by July (as 3.8 million more Americans applied for unemployment insurance). Confronted with that figure, and a GDP of minus 4.8 in the first quarter, Jared claimed he had been misquoted. What he'd actually said, he explained, was that the economy "should hit rock-bottom" by July. But that's really a good thing, he added; after all, his father-in-law "has been there many times, and look where he is now—playing president! Not just on TV, but president of the whole forty-eight states!" After pausing to take a phone call—"from the Pope, who often asks my advice on matters of faith," he said— Jared donned a pair of glasses— rose-colored, it should be noted—and completed his economic forecast: "Mike Pence says the pandemic will be 'behind us' by Memorial Day, and I have no reason to doubt him," he said. "After all, he has been right about everything else so far. I can only add," he said, flashing an impish grin, "that the day is coming soon when we'll have 'trumped' this coronavirus for good." And with that, he took a large swig of Trump's patented elixir and headed straight for the ER.

May 4, 2020

Every once in a while (once in a blue moon, actually), the country's charlatan-in-chief inadvertently allows a nugget of truth to pass his lips. As for example, in a rose garden appearance wherein he said that when you compare our response [to the coronavirus pandemic] to those of other countries, "it has been incredible." Yes, truly incredible, as in "preposterous, crazy, ridiculous, absurd, unreal, hard to believe" [per Webster's]. As of today (May 4), the US has recorded more than 1.1 million cases of COVID-19, more than the next six countries (Spain, Italy, the UK, Germany, Russia and France) COMBINED, with a death toll of 68,700, roughly 36 percent of the world's total. Yes, that is indeed "incredible." Or, as first-son-in-law Jared Kushner describes it, a great "success story." That "success" is based in part on the president's refusal to read or acknowledge the facts in the PDB (President's Daily Briefing), which warned as early as late February of the chance that a pandemic might be heading our way via China. "We were blindsided," Dr Trump later explained. "No one could have seen this coming." Unless, of course, that someone were able to read plain English and to absorb facts placed at his disposal on an almost daily basis (at least a dozen times in the PDB before he stopped watching Fox News long enough to pay attention). Now, our internist-in-chief is hell- bent on "reopening" the country (a code word for "get me re-elected at any cost!"), even though most medical experts are warning that the coronavirus could make a strong comeback and last as long as two years before an effective vaccine is ready and available. If you'd like to see a more measured and effective way to combat COVID-19 and protect those whose lives are at risk, simply tune out the president's deceptively trumped up mumbo jumbo and watch NY Gov Andrew Cuomo's daily press briefings instead.

May 5, 2020

Someone on the mailing list asked, after reading one of my anti-Trump, pro-truth broadsides, "Do you write them yourself?" The answer is yes— and no. Yes, I do place the words on paper in some semblance of order. But as to the actual writing, as long as Dr Strangelove (pardon, president Trump) is in charge they literally write themselves. In other words, you can't make this stuff up. Like when he told Fox News—while seated at the foot of Abraham Lincoln's statue!—that he has been treated more unfairly than any president in history. Really? Even worse than Lincoln, who was not only mocked and vilified but actually assassinated? Well, it's Trump's word against history's. And by the way, what president sits for press interviews using the Lincoln Memorial as a backdrop? Actually, none—until now. Which begs the question, are there no depths to which Trump will not sink in order to seek re-election? As to that, the jury is still out—but I for one wouldn't bet against even darker and more devious machinations as November draws near. But whatever else presidents 45 and 16 share in common, Lincoln bore a nickname that will never be ascribed to Trump: Honest Abe.

In other news...

Recent polls show that upward of 40 percent of Americans believe the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic has been, as Jared Kushner would say, a "success story." My question is, who are these people? And on what planet have they been living? More than 1.2 million cases, nearly 69,000 deaths—and, thanks in part to the administration's denial and inaction, it's going to get even worse! "Reopening" the country, Trump's latest scam to help ensure his re-election, has caused health experts to revise UPWARD their forecasts of deaths in this country, almost doubling the previous models. Even Trump himself, who predicted the pandemic would "magically disappear" in short order, now says we may see as many as 100,000 deaths in the U.S. before this is over. And by "over," he means the first wave; according to those who know, we may be living with coronavirus for two years or more before an effective vaccine is developed and available for widespread use. In the meantime, the government continues to release inflated figures about how many Americans are being tested ("We're the kings of testing," Trump says) and tracing, which, by the way, is the business of state and local government, not the federales. Testing above par? Give Trump the credit. Testing below par? Trump "takes no responsibility." But we should count our blessings; when Trump was at Camp David last weekend we had a full two-day respite from his misinformation and attacks on the press (one of the few institutions standing between us and monocracy)...

May 6, 2020

With the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. topping 1.2 million and the number of virus-related deaths approaching 73,000 and rising, what better time to dismantle the Trump administration's Corona Virus Task Force. Actually, the decision isn't as ludicrous as it may appear. Even though the "task force" includes in its ranks a number of sharp and highly-qualified medical experts, it has served basically as a platform from which our pseudo physician-in-chief could deliver almost-daily campaign speeches under the guise of "medical updates." Once Trump learned that the public wasn't buying the snake oil (and disinfectant) he was selling, and his poll numbers began to tank, the task force had to go. As simple as that. Trump won't be upstaged by anyone, especially those like Dr Anthony Fauci who actually know what they are talking about. That applies even at long-distance. If there were a way that Trump could end NY Gov Andrew Cuomo's widely watched, solidly informative and hugely popular press briefings, he wouldn't hesitate to do so. But unlike ignorance and apathy, Cuomo is out of his reach.

Stop the presses! This just in . . .

The president has decided NOT to terminate the Coronavirus Task Force, saying it will "continue to operate indefinitely," as he hadn't realized "how popular it is." No, not how "valuable" or "informative" it is, but how "popular!" If a program or council is "popular," OF COURSE it must continue! So instead of telling Fauci and his colleagues "You're fired!" they are being told to keep doing what they've been doing, because it's really "popular!" And what happens tomorrow? Stay tuned . . .

In other news...

Jolted to life by the imminent threat to his beloved burgers and fries, the president signed an executive order commanding that the nation's meat-processing plants remain open in spite of a truly alarming number of positive COVD-19 tests, widespread illness and a growing number of deaths among their employees. Of course, the order includes rigid and explicit instructions for keeping those employees safe and infection-free (just kidding; the order says they are basically on their own, as do the tepid "suggestions" offered by the CDC, whose normally decisive voice has been effectively muzzled by the president and his cohorts). Centuries after the fact, Marie Antoinette still elicits scorn for her avowal, "Let them eat cake!" And centuries from now, history will remember and revile our gourmet-in-chief for his ill-advised proclamation, "Let them eat meat!"

May 7, 2020

As John Cleese would say:

...and now for something completely different.

Setting aside the soapbox for a moment...

There are few stories these days that can bring me to tears. Here's one that did:

Brian Williams ended his "11th Hour" telecast last night with this heartwarming narrative. During the great Irish Potato Famine in 1847, a tribe of Choctaw Indians raised all the money they could—$170 (a large sum in those days)—and sent it across the Atlantic to Ireland to help the beleaguered residents who were literally starving to death in a time of great peril and suffering.

Commemorated by a large and beautiful sculpture in Ireland, it was a gesture that has not been forgotten. Recently, a group in Ireland decided to return the favor by creating a GoFundMe account for Native Americans who have for a number of reasons been disproportionately hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. To date, thanks to the generosity and remembrance of the Irish, the fund stands at roughly $3 million and counting, all of which is being sent to American Indians to help repay that sacrificial gift of $170 some 173 years ago.

That's the whole story. And if that doesn't touch your heart, you'd better check to make sure it's still beating...

May 11, 2020

With the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. nearing 1.4 million and the death toll above 80,000, governors in some thirty states have decided this is a great time to "reopen" for business. CDC guidelines? Nah. They are merely "suggestions." Testing and tracking? Well, our glorious Dr-in-chief, a very stable genius who always knows what he is talking about, says the U.S. "has done more testing than every other country in the world COMBINED!" [Editor's note: the U.S. has conducted more than 9,670,000 tests, which sounds impressive on paper; but on a PER CAPITA basis, which is what really counts, the U.S. has tested around 29,000 people per million, as compared, say, to 52,000 per million in Spain, 38,000 in Russia, 43,000 in Italy and 32,000 in Germany. And as to the total number of tests, the U.S. has conducted more total tests than any single country but that is surpassed by the combined total of the next three countries on the list: Spain, Russia and Italy, at roughly 10,700,000-plus. We are, however, far and away No. 1 when it comes to the daily number of new COVID-19-related deaths, with 668; France is a distant second with 263 per day. So let us eat, drink and be merry—and as Ernest Hemingway wrote, there's no need to ask for whom the [coronavirus] bell tolls. We are well aware of that.

In other news:

Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, arrested and charged with the murder of black (and unarmed) jogger Ahmaud Arbery, are pleading not guilty by reason of ignorance. According to their attorneys, the McMichaels had no idea it was illegal to kill a black man in Georgia. "When did they pass that law?" one of them asked, clearly bewildered that they could be charged in such a case. "If we'd known that we'd have moved to Florida where the law makes more sense." Not to worry, one of the lawyers said, winking; a "jury of their peers" would almost surely "show them mercy," a verdict that has a long history of precedent in the Peach State.

Meanwhile, in DC, the president and his strong right arm, vice president Pence (a.k.a The Great Stone Face), continue to dodge the coronavirus in spite of their best efforts to invite him in for a drink and some bear hugs. While exhorting the rest of us to wear masks and gloves, Trump and Pence seem to specialize in group-hanging, hand-shaking and generally thumbing their noses at protective measures. There are signs, however, that the virus is creeping closer to their testing-on-the-hour neighborhood, as a number of close aides have tested positive for COVID-19. White House staff are being encouraged to wear masks at work, even though vanity would prevent Trump from even considering that. In other words, he'd rather die than cover his mouth—I mean, his face—with a protective mask. At least that has been his stance so far. As the grimmer reality draws nearer, we shall have to see if the resistance to common sense continues or if president bone spurs shows his true color (no, not orange) as he did during the Vietnam war.

May 15, 2020

Having gained no traction in his efforts to "battle" the coronavirus pandemic by blaming its origins and spread on China, state governors and Donald Duck, president Strangelove has turned to a more familiar and accessible punching bag: former president Barack Obama. In brief, Trump has accused Obama of perpetrating "the most horrific crime in American history." What he has failed to offer is any proof of said crime or any sort of explanation about what that "crime" may be. Asked by a reporter, "What is the specific crime he [Obama] committed?" President Doublespeak replied, "You know very well what the crime is." Well, no, actually; that's why he asked the question. As Trump so often says, details of the crime will be revealed "in the near future" or "a matter of weeks," which is why he still has agents in Kenya searching for Obama's "authentic" birth certificate. Don't think for a moment we've forgotten about that, Barack! The truth will come to light!

Meanwhile, Trump has commissioned huge posters proclaiming that "The U.S. Leads the World in Testing." Not true, of course, except that the U.S. has administered more tests than any other single country; however, on a per capita basis, which is what really counts, the U.S. still lags behind a large number of other countries, having tested roughly 3% of the population. Where we do lead the world, of course—and by a wide margin—is in the number of virus-related deaths, which has now passed 87,000. Yes, as first-son-in- law Jared Kushner would say, it's a great "success story," but it does compare rather unfavorably with, say, Singapore (21 deaths), Thailand (56), Uzbekistan (11), Guinea (14), Kuwait (96), Guatemala (29), Ivory Coast (24), Israel (266), Bahrain (10), Hong Kong (4), Qatar (14), Australia (98), Iceland (10), Saudi Arabia (292), Senegal (25), South Korea (260), Cuba (79), New Zealand (21), Sri Lanka (9), Costa Rica (8), Kenya (95), Zambia (7), Venezuela (10), Jamaica (9), Taiwan (7), Ethiopia (5), Haiti (20), Guyana (10), Libya (3), Sudan (91), Syria (3), Zimbabwe (4), even China (4,633) and many other countries that have somehow managed to keep the death toll below 87,000. Perhaps they've been drinking Clorox?

In other news...

Police in Colorado are searching for a man who entered a store there wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood as a face mask. Although it hasn't been confirmed, it is said that he was last seen leaving a face mask manufacturing plant in Allentown, PA . . .

May 17, 2020

Talk about symbolism: there was president knows-it-all, standing behind a podium in the White House rose garden, bellowing to his base, "Vaccine or no [coronavirus] vaccine, we're back!" And there behind him, standing inanimate and motionless as statues in a park, were Drs Fauci and Birx, their voices of reason and wisdom muzzled by face masks, their disheartened eyes resembling those of enemies in war who had been vanquished and were about to step forward and sign a peace treaty. Indeed, their voices had been rendered all but irrelevant in the rush to "reopen" the country, their warnings to be cautious and prudent no more than an irksome detour on the road to "normality." By week's end, almost every state in the union was reopening to some degree or other. So how is that going? Well, the U.S. death toll has now passed 88,000, Texas has recorded its two highest daily totals of infections, and the number of cases continues to rise there as well as in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, California, Nebraska, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and the District of Columbia. In other words, it looks like we're doing really well! The question in most states seems to be not how fast or how safely to reopen, but how many deaths can be tolerated to move the economy forward and satisfy the president's ambitious re-election agenda. When all is said and done, those we lose are only people, but we're talking dollars and cents here! Meanwhile, in New York state, where Gov Andrew Cuomo continues to take the pandemic seriously and urge discretion, the window is slowly opening, but whenever it does, he makes sure it is based on science and data, not gut feelings or partisan bias. Party pooper.

In other news...

Major League Baseball has been trying desperately to make a comeback—without fans, and with some other modifications that may hardly be noticed by the average enthusiast. For example, there will be bases but no bats, and no pitchers or catchers. Instead, players will social distance at home plate and either throw the (sanitized) ball as far as they can or try to roll it past the infielders. Once a ball has been caught it must be sanitized again before play can continue. Umpires may no longer call runners safe or out, as that could spread the coronavirus. Instead, they must use hand signals such as thumbs up or thumbs down. Players who disagree with a call may signal that by using their middle finger. Any player who steps in the batter's box at home plate without first using hand sanitizer is automatically called out, not by the umpire but by Dr Fauci. Baseball officials are confident that, with these changes, a full season can begin sometime within the next five or six years.

May 19, 2020

So now El Presidente claims he is protecting himself against COVID-19 by taking the unproven drug hydroxychoroquine (I say "claims" because almost no assertion that passes his lips can be verified as truthful). This comes as reports of his erratic behavior continue to leak from the White House. Trump has been described by those who should know as frustrated, angry, depressed, unable to understand or deal with unpleasant facts, or simply overwhelmed by their sheer enormity—none of which is apparent during his frequent rallies, briefings or press conferences, where for the most part he appears calm, self-assured and in control.

How can that be? The answer is simple, really. Trump is an actor. Not a great one, like Olivier or Brando, but an actor nonetheless, one who has spent a lifetime developing his style and persona. The face that Trump presents to the public isn't the one he shows to others behind closed doors where he is free to cease "acting." Of course, most people are able in some degree to mask their appearance and emotions to suit the occasion, but Trump has turned that aptitude into an art form. What you see is always what he wants you to see, not what is going on behind the mask (or the curtain). Those for whom acting replaces life, as it has for Trump, can relate to that; however, the vast majority of people, for whom life and not acting is real, find it hard to believe that the performance they are seeing isn't genuine. Trump has relied on such naivete and played to it all his life. He has always been playing a part, and now he has reached the summit of elite roles, "playing" president.

Ironically, it was a role he neither wanted nor expected. The signs that Trump never thought he'd be elected president are clear (to cite one example, he didn't bother to write an acceptance speech). He thought he would run a decent campaign, lose to Hillary and go home. Once in office, however, he quickly realized this was truly a dream job: he could watch television until noon, issue executive orders that had the force of law, squander other people's money instead of his own, stay up all night heaping scorn on his enemies, real or imagined, via tweets, and, best of all, command everyone in his orbit to swear abiding loyalty and respond instantly to his every command. All things considered, not a bad gig at all. It's no wonder that re-election has become the bumbler-in-chief's paramount and inflexible goal. And thanks to his remarkable ability to deflect and deceive, even in the face of a lethal pandemic, it is a goal that is at least within reach.

In other news...

The sulker-in-chief has set another precedent by refusing to unveil in the White House the official portrait of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and Obama's wife, Michele. That would necessitate a visit to the White House by the Obamas, and His Pettiness couldn't possibly tolerate that, especially as Obama is widely known to be a "criminal" (widely known, that is, within one head, the only one that counts). Once again, Trump has shown himself to be arrogant and vindictive; and yet once again, he is making the headlines and controlling the narrative, which is precisely the goal he has in mind.

May 21, 2020

In trying to find a word that best describes the nudnik that is Donald J Trump, I chose "actor." Not bad, but not quite accurate either. Yes, our president is a ham actor struggling to stay on-script as he plays the most important role of his life, but there is so much more there to elicit awe and incredulity. There had to be a better word, I thought; if only I could put my finger on it. And then, from out of the blue, it came to me! Well, not exactly from out of the blue, but in the form of an e-mail from my wife's cousin's wife. The reason I couldn't find the word I was looking for is because it's not English, it's Scottish, and I don't speak the language. But the Scots, bless their bagpipe- beating hearts, have the perfect word to describe our bumpkin-in-chief, and that word is:

COCKWOMBLE!

Allow me to explain: In Scottish, cockwomble is a noun that depicts "a person, usually male, [who is] prone to making outrageously stupid statements and / or [displaying] inappropriate behavior while generally having a very high opinion of their own wisdom and importance."

Took the word right out of my mouth! I can envision the campaign signs now: COCKWOMBLE FOR PRESIDENT 2020.

In other news...

President Einstein says the 1.5 million coronavirus cases and 94,000+ deaths in the U.S.—more than five times greater than any other country—should be looked on not as a woefully inept and disastrous response to the pandemic but as a "badge of honor." Why? Because, using Trumpian logic (and who could argue with that?), it means that testing in the U.S. is going gangbusters. If there were no tests, he "reasons," there could be no new cases because we wouldn't be able to find them. Simple as that. But our testing is so vastly superior to others, he opines, that we have countless more cases (and deaths) than anyone else, which means we are, in Trump's words, "the kings of testing." What a feather in our cap! Imagine how excited he might be if we had tested more than 4% of the population! The truth, of course (and don't let him know we ever used that word), is that the pandemic continues apace, testing or no testing, and our country will soon reach the Mt Everest of COVID-19 "testing" success—100,000 coronavirus-related deaths in about three months. Try beating that, losers!

Scenes from a pandemic: May 23, 2020.

NY Gov Andrew Cuomo (at his daily press briefing): "When COVID-19 takes a day off, I'll take a day off."

President Donald J Trump: "Fore!"

In other news:

It's been said there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. It seems that the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 98,000 American lives in three months (and wouldn't it be ironic if that figure reached 100,000 on Memorial Day?), has traversed the spectrum of grief but not necessarily in that order. Clearly, there has been anger (especially from Trump's well-armed base) and bargaining (let's try "opening" the country and see what happens) coupled with some depression from those who have been forced to stay at home to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus. We've even seen some acceptance from the pollyanna-in-chief (1.6 million cases? 98,000 deaths? let's call it what it is: a "badge of honor," a glorious tribute to how great our testing has been!). And now at last we are seeing Stage 1: denial, as in "if we pretend the virus isn't here it will simply go away," an attitude exemplified by crowded beaches, bars, parks and houses of worship from coast to coast. "Look, everything is returning to normal," the throngs exclaim, "and nothing bad is happening!" What they don't seem to understand is that the incubation period for COVID-19 is four to fourteen days, and that those who are infected but asymptomatic can pass the virus to others who are unaware that they have been exposed to a carrier. Let's determine in about two weeks from now whether "nothing bad is happening." It it isn't, the deniers were right and coronavirus is on the run. On the other hand, if they were wrong, those 100,000 deaths may represent no more than the opening skirmish in a long-running war destined to claim countless more lives before anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance set in. We'll see ...

May 25, 2020

As Sgt Joe Friday (Jack Webb) used to say on the popular radio / TV show Dragnet, "We just want the facts, ma'am (or sir)."

On Sunday, President Svengoolie gazed into his crystal ball and announced that "cases, numbers and deaths [from COVID-19] are going down all over the country."

Not quite the facts. In fact, not even close. Yes, the dreaded stats are trending down in some places, but hardly "all over the country." The fact is, new cases of coronavirus increased from May 17-24 relative to the previous week in 30 of the 50 states, while the number of deaths increased relative to the previous week in 15 states.

Of course, if you subtract the 30 states where new cases are rising, and the 15 where the number of deaths is on the upswing, then, yes, "cases, numbers and deaths" are going down "all over the country." That is what Trump's supporters (and the many others wearing blinders instead of masks last weekend) want to hear, and so that is what they are told by the "leader" in whom they have placed their trust and confidence. Which is only fair, as Trump is a born, bred and absolutely incurable confidence man.

May 27, 2020

CNN this week ran an interesting profile of The National Enquirer, given weight by commentary from reporters and editors who once worked there. It seems The Enquirer has a modus operandi that almost never fails: take a story with a grain of truth and "elaborate" on it, usually to the detriment of those in its crosshairs. Most of the tabloid's "targets" have neither the time nor the resources to challenge whatever appears in print, no matter how ruinous it may be, although The Enquirer has been sued (and has lost) a number of times, setbacks it merely shrugs off as necessary expenses as it continues to distort and sensationalize the "news." For example, Celebrity A, who is married, is seen having dinner with Celebrity B, therefore Celebrities A and B must be having an affair. Front-page news. True or not, Celebrities A and B would be hard-pressed to deny it, especially as they have been seen together in public, and so they choose not to challenge the story, hoping their fans will soon forgive and forget, which they usually do.

Here's another example, this one advanced by no less than the president of the United States via his ever-present arsenal of malicious Tweets. This one concerns MSNBC host (and Trump nemesis) Joe Scarborough:

"So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? . . . A blow to the head? Body found under his desk? [Scarborough] left Congress suddenly? . . . An affair? What about the so-called investigator?"

Notice that President Clouseau hasn't ACCUSED Scarborough of anything! He's merely "asking questions"—nineteen years after the fact. It's a tactic that is classic National Enquirer, ripped right from the tabloid's tawdry playbook. And like The Enquirer, Trump always leaves himself ample wiggle room. The whole idea of a possible crime and cover-up, he says, wasn't "original with him." Of course it wasn't—President Scuttlebutt probably hasn't had an original idea in his lifetime! If a scheme didn't arise from Fox News or right- wing radio / TV, there's almost zero chance you'll see it appear in Trump's late night / early morning Tweets. He simply stumbles across a "conspiracy"—especially when it relates to someone on his extensive enemies list— and dives right in.

And now the last example, using Trump's and The Enquirer's infallible logic:

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