Nel's New Day

May 31, 2020

Week 175 – Sunday Good News

In the midst of protesting George Floyd’s killing throughout at least 75 cities where police attack and arrest law-abiding reporters, one place in the United States provides a model of reaction to demonstrations. In Flint (MI), a sheriff and his officers put down their riot gear and joined with protesters. Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson (left) told the crowd marching on the Flint Township police station he wanted to hear them. He added he and his officers are in service of their demands and their protest. The leaders talked with Swanson, and law enforcement joined with protesters to “make this a parade, not a protest.”

Local photographer Leni Kei Williams documented the event in a photo essay posted to Facebook. He wrote about the inception of the interaction:

 

“When we reached the police station, the officers were lined up and everyone immediately took a knee. The Sheriff asked one question… ‘We are mad too! What can we do?’ and the crowd responded, ‘Join us.’”

“You got little ones here, you got dogs,” the sheriff said to the crowd in remarks caught on camera. “So listen, I’m just telling you, these cops love you. That cop over there, hugs people. So you just tell us what to do.”

Later, Swanson said:

“We can’t forget on all our police cars across the nation it says, ‘protect and serve.’ That means all people, that means all people deserve the same dignity. If you can’t call out what’s wrong, try to make it right. And that’s the magic we saw tonight. Nobody’s arrested, nobody got hurt. This is how it’s supposed to be.

“This is the way it’s supposed to be—the police working with the community. When we see injustice, we call it out on the police side and on the community side. All we had to do was talk to them, and now we’re walking with them. … The cops in this community, we condemn what happened. That guy [who killed George Floyd] is not one of us.”  

More of Williams’ photographs.

Similar actions happened in Camden (NJ), Coral Gables (FL), Santa Cruz (CA), Norfolk (VA), and probably other areas.

As DDT grows more desperate in his opposition to mail-in ballots, including raving about bands of children stealing ballots from mail boxes to get them signed and mailed in, a large majority of people in the nation, including 57 percent of Republicans, want mail-in ballots. We all feel we can safely cast our votes without long lines or dangers of crowded places. A new Brennan Center poll finds 80 percent of U.S. people, 90 percent of them registered to vote, want all voters to have the option of mail ballots for the 2020 election.  A Reuters poll found 65 percent of Republicans want the mail ballot option. In addition, two-thirds of people in a poll want voting available for as long as two weeks to eliminate long lines. Republicans are also creating organizations supporting mail ballots, for example former Pennsylvania GOP governor Tom Ridge who has co-founded “VoteSafe.” 

Ridge’s definition of democracy differs from Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons who said, “If you don’t [feel safe], don’t go out and vote.” He’s the same guy who passed on the question about who was responsible for the massive crowds at the Lake of the Ozarks who kept gathering because the county said it was the state’s responsibility. With an answer fitting every question, Parsons said, “It is what it is.” And about the tragic death of George Floyd, Parsons said, “It didn’t look too good.” [Parsons may not fit the “good” part of Sunday’s blog post, but his comments are too good to pass up.]

The Texas absentee voting lawsuit is still ping-ponging through the courts. State AG Ken Paxton wants mail-in ballots greatly restricted, but people want to maintain social distancing by voting from home. The latest state Supreme Court ruling is that concern about COVID-19 is insufficient to obtain a mail-in ballot. But the news for people isn’t all bad. The court also decided voters can assess their personal health to see if they have a disability, defined as a “sickness or physical condition” preventing a voter from appearing in person without the risk of “injuring the voter’s health.” Voters are also not required to explain what their disability is; they just check the box on the application form. And Paxton cannot prevent local election officials from sending ballots to voters who cited lack of immunity to the virus.

In an attempt to exonerate Michael Flynn and DDT, Congress released what the media calls “transcripts” of Flynn’s communications with then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak when Flynn personally negotiated with a foreign country while Barack Obama was president. The conversations followed President Obama’s sanctions on Russia because of the country’s interference in the U.S. 2016 election. Flynn asked Kislyak to be “even-keeled” about the president’s punishment because “we can have a better conversation” about the relationship between U.S. and Russia after DDT’s inauguration. What has been released is enough of a condemnation of Flynn, who lied to the FBI in denying details of the conversation and undercutting a sitting president. Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA) said the conversations also prove Flynn liked to VP Mike Pence. DDT had fired Flynn for his lies and admitted Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The released material, however, is only a summary of the interactions with some quotation—transcripts of every part of their conversations. DDT’s allies are still claiming Flynn did nothing wrong, and AG Bill Barr called Flynn’s actions “laudable.”

After protests from media such as The Rachel Maddow Show and legislators including Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Gary Peters (D-MI) and Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Max Rose (D-NY), DDT extended the deployment of over 40,000 National Guard troops fighting COVID-19 through mid-August. He originally removed the deployment on June 24, 89 days, to refuse Guard troops any federal retirement and education benefits. Earlier deployment would also have caused problems for states depending on the Guard in new hot spots caused by reopening economies. Troops help understaffed and underfunded public health agencies with testing, contact tracing and other health services. Deploying on June 24 would have meant troops would leave by Jun 10 to quarantine for two weeks. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and National Guard Chief General Joseph Lengyel endorsed an extension last week, and 42 governors sent DDT a letter demanding continued federal support for the Guard.

Paul Manafort got out of prison because of COVID-19. So did Michael Cohen. But DDT wanted to leave all the other prisoners in danger of infection in place despite a virus hot zone in a federal prison in Ohio. For once, the Supreme Court disagreed—at least temporarily—with DDT. 

Late Friday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to reject a California church’s challenge to the restrictions intended to protect people’s health. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that Gov Gavin Newsom could impose these restrictions because he didn’t single out specific places of worship. The court also turned down a request for Illinois churches to reopen. Both states had already removed some restrictions and permitted in-person services on last Sunday’s Pentecost, 50 days after Easter.

In the midst of DDT’s fight with Twitter, one of his judges rejected a lawsuit alleging Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Google conspired to silence conservative voices. Right-wingers accused the four companies of stifling First Amendment rights. Washington, D.C. appeals court Judge Trevor McFadden said First Amendment rights regulates the government, not the private sector and the plaintiffs didn’t prove the companies are “state actors.”

Opponents of Keystone XL and other pipelines picked up another victory from the 9th Circuit Court in a ruling that upheld a lower court ruling suspending a federal fast-track permit for the tar sands project. The court’s ruling stated the government and fossil fuel companies behind the project “have not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits and probability of irreparable harm to warrant a stay pending appeal.” This decision followed a U.S. district court in Montana which ruled DDT’s Army Corps of Engineers violated the Endangered Species Act when it used the fast-track “Nationwide Permit 12.”

The League of Women Voters of Michigan has the right to be interveners in a lawsuit attempting to stop the mandate for Detroit to conduct an aggressive purge of voters, some of them most likely eligible because of the questionable and unsubstantiated data used in the process. The purge risks removing voters with similar names and allegedly “deceased” voters who are still alive. The League asserts federal law doesn’t require purges from third parties using questionable data, Detroit meets federal law requirements, and the process would threaten voters’ rights.

Twenty-three U.S. states, four cities, and the District of Columbia are suing DDT’s administration for weakening fuel efficiency standards. The lawsuit also pits auto manufacturers against each other: GM, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and others support DDT, and Ford, Honda, BMW, and other automakers oppose him.

President Trump’s job approval sank to 42 percent last week in a two-year low from the highly conservative Rasmussen poll. During several days of protesting, DDT’s rating dropped four points from the previous Friday.

DDT: Week 175 – How Much Worse Can the News Be?

During a week marked by a pandemic, unemployment, and riots throughout the United States—all issues that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) seems totally unable to handle, the other news keeps rolling.  

The riots roll across the U.S. as DDT and AG Bill Barr blame far-left groups of protesting and looting without any evidence. Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said that white supremacist organizations may be looting and destroying local businesses. He said that protesters are being traced, and the Minnesota governor said that 80 percent of arrested people are from out of state. DDT is worsening the violence by threatening anyone coming “close to breaching the [White House] fence” with “the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.” Geraldo Rivera, once a DDT supporter, said to Fox about DDT threats against protesters in Minneapolis, “All he does is diminish himself.”

DDT postponed his dream G-7 summit until September after Angela Merkel said she wouldn’t come to the White House for the meeting in June because of the pandemic. He was able to get only two confirmations for the meeting of world leaders—Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The other three from Canada, France, and Italy either declined or were doubtful. Perhaps looking for friendly faces, DDT said he was also going to invite Russia, South Korea, Australia, and India. Russia has been disinvited from the smaller group, then G-8, after Russians invaded Crimea. DDT insists on re-inviting him whereas the other members oppose the idea. The other six of G-7 may not even attend the summit if DDT makes the decision without them. DDT has already invited the additional four countries and wants the meeting before the election. The G-20 is already scheduled for November 21-22 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia—after the election. 

With the Senate on vacation and the GOP leaders trying to persuade older judges to retire to be replaced by younger, more conservative ones, nothing about a fifth coronavirus bill has happened for almost a week. After Republicans gave trillions to their friends in big business, they are dragging their heels about giving individuals, true small businesses, and state/local governments any part of the pie. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to wait for a while before taking any action, but senators up for re-election such as Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Susan Collins (R-ME) worry about their states’ response. A major GOP argument is that states don’t deserve any money. Three different times, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) has blocked a bill giving states more flexibility. McConnell also refuses any infrastructure funding, something that Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) want. The red line for McConnell is keeping employees from any liability for mismanaging safety from COVID-19.

While almost one-third of workers in the U.S. lost their jobs and 20 percent of families don’t have enough food to feed their children in April, corporations put away $1 trillion in institutional money market funds, parking money they don’t immediately need. Commercial bank deposits grew from 4.6 percent to 15.8 percent since mid-March. Billionaires personally gained over $500 billion. The amount of cash in the U.S. grew at an annual 42 percent between February 3 to May 4, almost twice the highest rate ever—22.5 percent in 2011—and almost seven percent the average 6.3 percent annual growth in basic money supply since 1976. More cash would have “trickled” to the top without rejection from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democrats. Companies used their massive tax cuts to buy back stock, and DDT wants to further cut their taxes. In the most recent coronavirus act, people with annual incomes of more than $1 million got 80 percent of the tax saving.

DDT is in trouble with foreign countries. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the U.S. to stay out of his shipment of oil headed for Venezuela that he’s trading for gold. Rouhani posted a statement on his website the U.S. had created “unacceptable conditions” in different parts of the world, but that Iran would “by no means” be the one to initiate conflict. He added, “We hope the Americans will not make a mistake.” A fourth tanker has reached Venezuela, and a fifth one is on its way. Yet a desperate DDT is threatening anyone—foreign governments, seaports, shipping companies, and insurers—with stiff sanctions if they help the flotilla.   

Earlier this month, DDT vetoed a bill requiring him to get authorization before using military force against Iran, and he’s shown no letup in sanctions killing Iranians. Yet the country is no more repressive than Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle East countries, and keeping an antinuclear treaty with frequent inspections would be safer than turning the country loose. Wealthy U.S. conservatives, however, fund United against a Nuclear Iran (UANI) to help Israel, Saudi Arabia, and UAE spread violence, chaos, and extremism in the Middle East. Despite its supposed goal of searching for extremism and terrorism, UANI chose not to report on the Saudis and UAE. A Saudi Embassy official had provided invaluable assistance to two 9/11 hijackers. Saudi Arabia gave shelter to the Wahhabi Muslims behind Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Muslim terrorists and funded Al-Qaeda forces destroying Syria since 2011. The UAE supplied massive amounts of weapons to Libyan rebels.

DDT told Congress he plans to sell another $478 million of precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia, even if lawmakers don’t approve. He will also approve licenses for Raytheon to manufacture more high-tech bomb parts inside the kingdom. DDT had defended the weapons sales as vital for U.S. jobs. Members of both political parties were also furious when DDT bypassed Congress for an $8 billion arm sales to the Saudis and other Middle East countries.

As part of his campaign strategy, DDT wants to take all U.S. soldiers out of Afghanistan before November. Unfortunately for him, the Taliban agreement from last February set a timetable of more than one year for U.S. troop withdrawal. If U.S. military leave before then, the Taliban can see the action as disregarding the agreement. The Taliban will take over Afghanistan again, and the U.S. will get the blame.

Yesterday, DDT arrived 45 minutes late for an announced press conference, spoke for nine minutes attacking China, and refused to answer questions about the man killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. About China, he complained about their actions in Hong Kong, said he would revoke Hong Kong’s special trade status to punish China, and promised to immediately end the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization. He blamed WHO and President Obama for China’s actions.

China has good reason to ridicule DDT, with large cities on fire every night and his giving authoritarian orders to private businesses such as Twitter. Using executive orders to control private businesses such as social media is practicing socialism.  

DDT had another imaginary conversation, this time with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who supposedly said that he’s not happy with India’s conflict with China. Modi has not talked to DDT since April 4, and Indian officials were “taken by surprise” by DDT’s comment about Modi being not “in a good mood.” Last summer, DDT lied about Modi wanting him to help solve the conflict in Kashmir.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is being supported in a multibillion-dollar money laundering scheme by 28 North Korean and five Chinese citizens with 250 shell companies, more proof that DDT can’t stop Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear weapons program with his faulty diplomacy. Kim has said since last year that it would continue testing this year, and DDT said that he didn’t want to meet with Kim until after the November election.

In any other time, DDT’s veto of a bipartisan resolution days after Memorial Day would be considered a conflict of interest; after almost four years since he was inaugurated, it’s just “normal.” Congress recommended overturning a policy creating more problems for students defrauded by colleges to have their education loans canceled. Veterans are one group preyed upon by corrupt schools to take their GI Bill education benefits, thanks to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ regulatory action. The Education Department has received over 300,000 claims for debt relief and for-profits chain college such as Corinthian, ITT Technical Institute, Argosy University, and the Art Institutes closed. Part of DDT’s business has been the now-defunct Trump University, described in the conservative National Review as a “massive scam.” DDT paid $25 million to settle three lawsuits for fraud.

In a cowardly action, DDT is breaking with decades of precedent by not publishing a mid-year economic forecast. The projections come from the director of OMB, chair of DDT’s economic advisers, and the treasury secretary. As comic writer Gerry Conway tweeted:

“Trump figures if he doesn’t tell people they’re out of work, they won’t know they’re out of work.”

Alabama Media Group columnist Kyle Whitmire said:

“It’s like refusing to release a weather forecast that says a hurricane will make landfall tomorrow. Eventually, the truth will tell itself.”

With DDT in the Oval Office, the United States—and the world—are in a mess because officials are afraid of telling him bad news. No one can effectively plan for disasters without getting fired.

May 29, 2020

DDT: Week 175 – Creation of a Banana Republic

Over 100 years ago, U.S. writer O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) coined the term “banana republic” in describing the fictional Republic of Anchuria. A century later, the term expanded from being a small country economically dependent on a single export commodity to one which is poor, corrupt, and badly ruled, typically by a dictator or the armed forces. Since the election of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), the United States, although a large country, has grown closer dto fitting this description, and this week puts the U.S. on the edge of Banana Republic classification.

On Memorial Day, a police officer, now discharged and arrested, killed George Floyd while at least three other police officers watched. The former officer pressed down on Floyd’s neck with his knees for over eight minutes. Floyd cried out “I can’t breathe” until he lost consciousness after a little more than five minutes. He died because he literally could not breathe. Floyd had complied with police requests after he tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. National protests followed the lack of action regarded the police officer’s crime. Video from the store shows that Floyd did not resist.

This morning, black/Latino CNN reporter Omar Jimenez (left), his producer Bill Kirkos, and his Latino photojournalist Leonel Mendez were arrested by several white Minnesota state police officers while the video was playing live on air. Police claimed crew refused to move when instructed, but the video footage shows only courtesy on the part of Jimenez. Later, the state patrol tweeted an insinuation that they didn’t know the men were reporters. The three men were wearing CNN identification, and Jimenez politely explained to the police that he was standing where they had told him to be. Jimenez said that he would go anyplace that they told him, but they handcuffed him and led him away. The police refused to answer his question about why he was being arrested before they arrested Kirkos and Mendez. The camera, still running, chronicled the arrest

At the same time, white CNN correspondent Josh Campbell was reporting about a block away. He said that the police were “polite” when they asked him the name of his outlet. The arrested men were released about an hour later after the Gov. Tim Walz intervened and apologized to CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker. Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis city council vice-president, told CNN in an interview that the arrest was another example of systemic racism and asked local and state officials to declare racism in Minnesota a public health emergency.

Since his inauguration, DDT has been complaining about the media violating the First Amendment by publicizing facts about him. The arrests of Jimenez, Kirkos, and Mendez are a real violation of the First Amendment.

Yet DDT whines about Twitter stifling his free speech because the company suggested a fact-check on the outrageous lies DDT tweets about mail-in voting. DDT has not talked to Floyd’s family, but he did have time to tweet about the protesters, calling them “THUGS” and blaming the events on “the very weak Radical Left Mayor.” In the same tweet, he threatened to kill protesters: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter responded with a warning that reads:

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

Twitter followers can read the tweet by clicking on the warning but cannot, like, dislike, or retweet the message. Thus far, DDT seems to have backed down from an attack on Twitter, merely tweeting that looting can lead to shooting. The weekend isn’t over, however.

DDT has a history of glorifying racist protesters, beginning almost three years ago when he called violent white supremacists in Charlottesville (VA) “very good people.” When protesters who tried to open up all business in Michigan carried assault-like rifles and broke into the capitol, DDT told Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to give them what they wanted. He praised them as “very good people.” He may be partially correct about the term “thugs.” Members of the “boogaloo movement”—gun enthusiasts who have found a home with white supremacists—have decided to infiltrate the protests about the killing of George Floyd, perhaps to encourage a race war. The boogaloo-ers were behind the protests in Michigan. Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher at the ADL Center on Extremism in Chicago said:

“There’s two versions of boogaloo. There’s the white supremacist burn society down and build a white ethno-stage. And then there’s the anti-government resist tyranny at all costs, and if it creates a civil war, so be it version.”

Yesterday, DDT signed a threatening executive order that may lack any power. It claims to remove immunity from lawsuits against Twitter for removing conservative tweets after Twitter posted a suggestion to fact-check his rabid lies about mail-in voting.  Although studies show he is wrong, DDT firmly believes that mail-in voting favors Democrats and will make all Republicans lose in the fall election. He tweeted:

“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives [sic] voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”

DDT’s frantic behavior comes from his losing to Joe Biden in the polls. He’s setting up the scene to be the victim if Biden wins the votes in the electoral college to become president. Four years ago, DDT shouted at his rallies that the election was “rigged.” Once he won the electoral votes, he quit mentioning a “rigged” election until his polls looked bad.  DDT’s fixer Michael Cohen said:

“Given my experience working for Mr. Trump. I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

As always, DDT was careful with his language: his order directed federal officials to examine Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. In the same way, the media reported that he opened up all the meatpacking plants when he told Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to tell them to follow OSHA. DDT’s order did state that companies could lose legal protection from lawsuits if they restrict the views that can be expressed on their websites. According to the order, online platforms “are engaging in selective censorship that is hurting our national discourse.”

Legal experts disagree with the order’s premise. Conservative legal UCLA scholar Eugene Volokh said:

“Twitter, Facebook and the like are immune as platforms regardless of whether they edit, including in a politicized way. Like it or not, this was a deliberate decision by Congress.”

The order tells the FCC to draft regulations regarding actions to expose Twitter to liability if it would “restrict speech in ways that do not align with those entities’ public representations about those practices.” About this demand, Eric Goldman, who teaches internet law at Santa Clara University, said:

“The FCC has no authority over this, because Congress hasn’t delegated that authority.”

Goldman added:

“The First Amendment protects those words that Twitter added. It means Twitter can say that there are additional facts that readers should consider.”

Marc Rasch, an expert on internet law at Kohrman, Jackson and Krantz, said websites are private entities and therefore can restrict content in the same way shopping malls can keep out protesters.

DDT’s regulation could backfire if social media protects themselves by deleting posts or blocking users. 

The complaints about Twitter in DDT’s executive order project DDT’s own actions. These objections about Twitter describe the way DDT operates and benefits:

  • “Hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet [to] exercise a dangerous power.”
  • “Shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.”
  • “Flaunt[ing] his political bias in his own tweets.”
  • “Profiting from and promoting the aggression and disinformation spread by foreign governments.”
  • “Use … power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.”
  • “Engage in deceptive or pretextual actions … to stifle viewpoints with which they disagree.”
  • “Problematic vehicles for government speech due to viewpoint discrimination, deception to consumers, or other bad practices.”
  • “Unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.”
  • “Suppress content … based on indications of political alignment or viewpoint.”

DDT’s demands against mail-in ballots may already cause him problems: the Pennsylvania GOP fears offending DDT by promoting mail-in ballots. All people in the state can vote by mail without a reason, and the GOP pushed the practice—until now. As of yesterday, about 1.3 million registered Democrats requested mail ballots for the June 2 primary election, compared with about 524,000 Republicans, only 29 percent of the requests from the GOP that represents 38 percent of registered voters.  

Meanwhile, 104,542 have died of COVID-19, and the number of confirmed cases is spiking, almost at 1.8 million by today, May 29.

May 27, 2020

DDT’s Cruelty, Defined by Peter Wehner

Although Twitter permitted, without comment, the constant disproved accusations from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) that former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL) was responsible for the death of a staffer, Peter Wehner used DDT’s lies for an Atlantic article, “The Malignant Cruelty of Donald Trump”:

“I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him—the memory of my dead wife—and perverted it for perceived political gain.”

There may be a more damning thing that’s been said about an American president, but none immediately comes to mind.

This sentence is from a heartbreaking May 21 letter written by Timothy Klausutis to Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, asking Dorsey to delete a series of tweets by Donald Trump. Klausutis is the widower of Lori Kaye Klausutis, who died nearly 20 years ago. (Timothy Klausutis, who never remarried, still lives in the house he shared with his wife.) The autopsy conducted at the time of Lori’s death confirmed that it was an accident; she had fainted as the result of a heart condition, hitting her head on a desk. There’s not a thimble of evidence of foul play.

But here’s where things go from being tragic to being twisted.

When Lori Klausutis died, she worked for then–Republican Representative Joe Scarborough. Today, Scarborough is a fierce critic of the president from his perch at MSNBC, where he co-hosts Morning Joe. That is why the president has been peddling a cruel and baseless conspiracy theory that Scarborough had Klausutis murdered.  

This is a topic most journalists are inherently reluctant to cover, given the danger that it will draw more attention to a vile lie. But with the president and his son Don Jr., who between them have more than 85 million Twitter followers, sending out lunatic tweets and calling for “the opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough,” human decency requires a response.

That Donald Trump would resort to conspiracy theories to attack his perceived enemies is hardly a revelation. After all, Trump employed a racist conspiracy theory against Barack Obama, which helped him gain political prominence in the Republican Party, and later claimed that President Obama had wiretapped his phones. During the 2016 primary, Trump linked Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and retweeted a supporter who claimed that Marco Rubio was ineligible to run because his parents were not natural-born U.S. citizens. Trump suggested that the suicide of Vince Foster, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, and the death of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were murders; that childhood vaccines cause autism; and that windmills cause cancer. He’s claimed that climate change is “a total and very expensive hoax” by China’s government, that a cybersecurity company framed Russia for election interference, that Ukraine was hiding Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, and that voter fraud cost him the popular vote in 2016. (Business Insider provided a useful summary of more than two dozen of Trump’s conspiracy theories in October.) 

Conspiracy theories have long been evidence of Trump’s twisted psychology. He has always traveled quite easily from the real world to the twilight zone, depending on which reality suits his needs at the moment. And when someone holds him accountable—when someone calls him out for his incompetence and ethical wrongdoing—conspiracy theories often become his weapon of choice. At such moments, conspiracy theories are fine, but conspiracy theories with the added element of cruelty are even better. Which brings us back to the heartbreaking letter from Timothy Klausutis.

Donald Trump doesn’t merely want to criticize his opponents; he takes a depraved delight in inflicting pain on others, even if there’s collateral damage in the process, as is the case with the Klausutis family. There’s something quite sick about it all.

A lot of human casualties result from the cruelty of malignant narcissists like Donald Trump—casualties, it should be said, that his supporters in the Republican Party, on various pro-Trump websites and news outlets, and on talk radio are willing to tolerate or even defend. Their philosophy seems to be that you need to break a few eggs to make an omelet. If putting up with Trump’s indecency is the price of maintaining power, so be it. Will Trump’s white evangelical supporters—Franklin Graham Jr., Robert Jeffress, Eric Metaxas, Mike Huckabee, Ralph Reed—defend his behavior as the perfect embodiment of the New Testament ethic, the credo of Jesus, the message from the Sermon on the Mount? “Blessed are the brutal, for they shall inherit the Earth.”

Some people will argue that Trump’s promotion of this conspiracy theory is just his latest distraction, a shiny object to pull our focus away from the human and economic cost of COVID-19. Maybe. But I’m not at all convinced that this will help Trump politically.

Remember, Trump’s approval rating was often well under 50 percent even when the economy was doing well and America was at relative peace abroad. There’s plenty of evidence, including the 2018 midterm elections, that Trump’s dehumanizing tactics erode his support, especially among white suburban women. And I rather doubt that people will have forgotten Trump’s reckless handling of the pandemic by November; defaming the memory of a woman who died nearly two decades ago and causing renewed grief for her family isn’t likely to help him with most voters, either.

But whatever the political ramifications of this current lie being promulgated by the president, the rest of us need to name it, and to make Trump supporters own it. They are his, and he is theirs.

In his letter to Jack Dorsey, Timothy Klausutis wrote that his wife’s death, in 2001, was “the single most painful thing that I have ever had to deal with in my 52 years and continues to haunt her parents and sister.” He added:

“I have mourned my wife every day since her passing. I have tried to honor her memory and our marriage. As her husband, I feel that one of my marital obligations is to protect her memory as I would have protected her in life. There has been a constant barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo and conspiracy theories since the day she died. I realize that may sound like an exaggeration, unfortunately it is the verifiable truth. Because of this, I have struggled to move forward with my life.”

And this:

“The frequency, intensity, ugliness, and promulgation of these horrifying lies ever increases on the internet. These conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage.”

Near the end of his letter to Dorsey, asking him to delete Trump’s tweets—which Dorsey has declined to do—Klausutis wrote:

“I would also ask that you consider Lori’s niece and two nephews who will eventually come across this filth in the future. They have never met their Aunt and it pains me to think they would ever have to ‘learn’ about her this way.

“My wife deserves better.”

There is a wickedness in our president that long ago corrupted him. It’s corrupted his party. And it’s in the process of corrupting our country, too.

He is a crimson stain on American decency. He needs to go.

[PETER WEHNER is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Egan visiting professor at Duke University. He writes widely on political, cultural, religious, and national-security issues, and he is the author of The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.]

Some conservatives hoped that the news about DDT’s behavior would move on, but DDT doesn’t allow it—frequently pursuing his vitriol on Twitter. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy) and the conservative editorial boards of the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Examiner asked DDT to drop it. WSJ wrote that DDT “is debasing his office, and he’s hurting the country in doing so.” The Examiner wrote about DDT’s “slanderous attack” that “one could hardly be blamed for reading it and doubting his fitness to lead. Earlier, Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) tweeted: “Completely unfounded conspiracy. Just stop. Stop spreading it, stop creating paranoia. It will destroy us.”  

The other GOP lawmakers remain silent, however, while DDT stays satisfied with his control over legislators. DDT can continue with his cruelty.

As of today, May 27, COVID-19 has killed 357,432 people out of 5,790,103 cases around the world. The U.S. has 1,745,803 infections with 102,107 deaths. Over 11 percent of the 15,875,473 tested people in the U.S. have the virus, and almost six percent of those infected have died. The 102,107 cases that DDT has not mention in his Twitter tantrums are the equivalent of 8 swine flu deaths in 2009, 22 Iraq wars, 33 Sept. 11 attacks, 41 Afghanistan wars, 42 Pearl Harbors, or 25,000 Benghazis—all in three months with no indication of stopping. This is a disaster without leadership.

May 26, 2020

‘Donald Trump, the Most Unmanly President’

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:35 PM
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Tom Nichols’ observations about the man in the Oval Office:

Why do working-class white men—the most reliable component of Donald Trump’s base—support someone who is, by their own standards, the least masculine man ever to hold the modern presidency?

The men I grew up with think of themselves as pretty tough guys, and most of them are…. These are men whose fathers and grandfathers came from a culture that looks down upon lying, cheating, and bragging, especially about sex or courage. (My father’s best friend got the Silver Star for wiping out a German machine-gun nest in Europe, and I never heard a word about it until after the man’s funeral.)

They are, as an American Psychological Association feature describes them, men who adhere to norms such as “toughness, dominance, self-reliance, heterosexual behaviors, restriction of emotional expression and the avoidance of traditionally feminine attitudes and behaviors.” … They are men like my late father and his friends, who understood that a man’s word is his bond and that a handshake means something. They are men who still believe in a day’s work for a day’s wages….

I am noting that courage, honesty, respect, an economy of words, a bit of modesty, and a willingness to take responsibility are all virtues prized by the self-identified class of hard-working men, the stand-up guys, among whom I was raised.

And yet, many of these same men expect none of those characteristics from Trump, who is a vain, cowardly, lying, vulgar, jabbering blowhard. Put another way, as a question I have asked many of the men I know: Is Trump a man your father and grandfather would have respected?

As the writer Windsor Mann has noted, Trump behaves in ways that many working-class men would ridicule: ‘He wears bronzer, loves gold and gossip, is obsessed with his physical appearance, whines constantly, can’t control his emotions, watches daytime television, enjoys parades and interior decorating, and used to sell perfume.’

One must first grasp how deeply [men who support Trump] are betraying their own definition of masculinity by looking more closely at the flaws they should, in principle, find revolting.

Is Trump honorable? This is a man who routinely refused to pay working people their due wages, and then lawyered them into the ground when they objected to being exploited. Trump is a rich downtown bully, the sort most working men usually hate.

Is Trump courageous? Courtiers like Victor Davis Hanson have compared Trump to the great heroes of the past, including George Patton, Ajax, and the Western gunslingers of the American cinema. Trump himself has mused about how he would have been a good general. He even fantasized about how he would have charged into the middle of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, without a weapon. ‘You don’t know until you test it,’ he said at a meeting with state governors just a couple of weeks after the massacre, ‘but I really believe I’d run in there, even if I didn’t have a weapon, and I think most of the people in this room would have done that too.’ Truly brave people never tell you how brave they are. I have known many combat veterans, and none of them extols his or her own courage. What saved them, they will tell you, was their training and their teamwork. Some—perhaps the bravest—lament that they were not able to do more for their comrades.

Trump is an obvious coward. He has two particular phobias: powerful men and intelligent women.

Whenever he is in the company of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to take the most cringe-inducing example, he visibly cowers. His attempts to ingratiate himself with Putin are embarrassing, especially given how effortlessly Putin can bend Trump to his will. When the Russian leader got Trump alone at a summit in Helsinki, he scared him so badly that at the subsequent joint press conference, Putin smiled pleasantly while the president of the United States publicly took the word of a former KGB officer over his own intelligence agencies.

… In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, he is eager to criticize China, until he is asked about Chinese President Xi Jinping. In the course of the same few minutes, Trump will attack China—his preferred method for escaping responsibility for America’s disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic—and then he will babble about how much he likes President Xi, desperately seeking to avoid giving offense to the Chinese Communist Party boss.

[Trump] can never stop talking. The old-school standard of masculinity is the strong and silent type, like Gary Cooper back in the day or Tom Hardy today. Trump, by comparison, is neither strong nor capable of silence.

And when Trump talks too much, he ends up saying things that more stereotypically masculine men wouldn’t, like that he fell in love with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. ‘He wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters,’ Trump told a rally in West Virginia. ‘We fell in love.’ One can only imagine the reaction among working-class white men if Barack Obama, or any other U.S. president, had talked about falling in love with a foreign leader. (George W. Bush once said he saw into Putin’s soul, and he has never lived it down among his critics.)

Is Trump a man who respects women? This is what secure and masculine men would expect, especially from a husband and a father of two daughters.

Leave aside for the moment that the working-class white men in the president’s base don’t seem to care that Trump had an affair with a porn star while his wife was home with a new baby, something for which many of them would probably beat their own brother-in-law senseless if he did it to their sister. Trump’s voters, male and female, have already decided to excuse this and other sordid episodes.

Women clearly scare Trump. ‘Donald doesn’t like strong women,’ Senator Ted Cruz said back in 2016 of the candidate who attacked Cruz’s wife as ugly, but who is now his hero as president. “Strong women scare Donald. Real men don’t try to bully women.”

Trump never seems more fearful and insecure than when women question him. His anxiety at such moments—for example, when he calls on female reporters in the White House press room—is palpable. He begins his usual flurry of defensive hand gestures, from the playing of an imaginary accordion to a hand held up with a curled pinky finger like some parody of a Queens mobster, while he stammers out verbal chaff bursts of ‘excuse me’ and ‘are you ready?’

Does Trump accept responsibility and look out for his team? Not in the least. In this category, he exhibits one of the most unmanly of behaviors: He’s a blamer. Nothing is ever his fault. In the midst of disaster, he praises himself while turning on even his most loyal supporters without a moment’s hesitation. Men across America who were socialized by team sports, whose lives are predicated on the principle of showing up and doing the job, continually excuse a man who continually excuses himself. This presidency is defined not by Ed Harris’s grim intonation in Apollo 13 that ‘failure is not an option,’ but by one of the most shameful utterances of a chief executive in modern American history: ‘I take no responsibility at all.’

Trump’s lack of masculinity is about maturity…. He is a boy. To be a man is to be an adult, to willingly decide, as St. Paul wrote, to ‘put away childish things.’ Trump is a hero to a culture in which so many men are already trapped in perpetual adolescence. And especially for men who feel like life might have passed them by…. Trump is a walking permission slip to shrug off the responsibilities of manhood.

Cheat on your wife? No problem. You can trade her in for a hot foreign model 20 years younger. Is being a father to your children too onerous a burden on your schedule? Let the mothers raise them. Money troubles? Everyone has them; just tell your father to write you another check. Upset that your town or your workplace has become more diverse? Get it off your chest: Rail about women and Mexicans and African Americans at will and dare anyone to contradict you.

In the end, Trump will continue to act like a little boy, and his base, the voters who will stay with him to the end, will excuse him. When a grown man brags about being brave, it is unmanly and distasteful; when a little boy pulls out a cardboard sword and ties a towel around his neck like a cape, it’s endearing. When a rich and powerful old man whines about how unfairly he is being treated, we scowl and judge; when a little boy snuffles in his tears and says that he was bullied—treated worse than Abraham Lincoln, even—we comfort.

Donald Trump is unmanly because he has never chosen to become a man…. He is, instead, working-class America’s dysfunctional son, and his supporters, male and female alike, have become the worried parent explaining what a good boy he is to terrorized teachers even while he continues to set fires in the hallway right outside.

Perhaps Howard Stern, of all people, said it best: “The oddity in all of this is the people Trump despises most, love him the most. The people who are voting for Trump for the most part … He’d be disgusted by them.” The tragedy is that they are not disgusted by him in return.

May 25, 2020

DDT Golfs, Spreads Hate during Time of Remembrance

On Memorial Day weekend, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) celebrated the dead–both in wartime and in his COVID-19 disaster–by golfing on both Saturday and Sunday.

DDT’s furious Sunday tweets before Memorial Day also reflect his obsession with himself on the day set aside to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the military. Combat fatalities of over 432,000 since World War I may share with the almost 100,000 COVID-19 fatalities because DDT calls himself the “wartime president.” In addition to playing golf, however, DDT managed to tweet a large number of vicious statements against his perceived enemies and in favor of false conspiracy theories:

  • Mocked former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’s weight, tweeting she had “visited every buffet restaurant in the State” in a doctored retweet of Abrams.
  • Ridiculed the looks of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), retweeting a statement about using duct tape instead of PolyGrip: “she won’t be able to drink booze on the job as much.” (According to Pelosi’s office, she, like DDT, does not drink alcohol.)
  • Retweeted a message callins former Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State a “skank.”
  • Insinuated through his repetition of the debunked conspiracy that MSNBC news host Joe Scarborough murdered a staff member after an affair with her.
  • Declared, with no evidence, that mail-in voting routinely stuffs the ballot box.
  • Claimed “tremendous rave reviews” for hydroxychloroquine, shown to be dangerous to life for COVID-19 patients and retweeted the day before hydroxychloroquine “Is Most Effective EARLY” for treating COVID-19—a completely false statement.
  • Blamed former AG Jeff Sessions, who he nominated, of having “no courage.”
  • Mandated the immediate opening of schools after hearing this request from Fox’s Steve Hilton, who also called social distancing rules “over-prescriptive” and “arbitrary.” DDT ignored social distance during his golf games. 
  • Lied about “cases, numbers and deaths … going down all over the country!” (This was the only tweet about the epidemic—no reference to people dying on his watch.)

Rural counties with some of the highest rates of covid-19 cases and deaths in the country are topping infection and death rates of even the hardest-hit New York City boroughs as states lift shelter-in-place mandates. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported a “second peak” in infections, and North Carolina had its biggest one-day increase of confirmed cases. Ohio’s number of deaths doubled on Saturday from Friday.  determined. Nine days ago, Texas, determined to be open, reported 1,801 new COVID-19 cases, the biggest single-day jump in cases since the pandemic began, from a growing outbreak in the Panhandle. Maryland hit a new high mark with 1,784 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases on one day, just four days after reopening its economy. The number was one-fourth of tests performed that day. Many of the cases were between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.

Numbers of infections and deaths in the U.S. are higher than May 10-11

Four days ago, the coronavirus still spread at epidemic rates in 24 states, particularly in the South and Midwest and in states that had reopened. The model shows what happens if people move around as they did before the epidemic and fail to take precautions. Many of these place are depending on individual responsibility for actions. As one leader in western Iowa said, “Families need to make their own decisions.” Bad decisions created pockets of infections as this tourist spot in Missouri soon will provide 

I live in a popular tourist area on the Oregon coast. Over the weekend, I drove around to see what was happening since the county was granted Phase I permission to open lodging and restaurants. The Bayfront had many people not observing social distancing, and the parking lots were packed where people were launching their boats. No masks and no seeming concern—back to “normal” on a Memorial Day weekend.

Although DDT read a speech with no voice inflection this morning at Arlington Cemetery, he continued his threats and ranting throughout the day, four of them about moving the RNC from Charlotte if North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) tries to limit capacity at the August event through social distancing to protect workers and attendees from the virus. He tweeted if the arena can’t be “fully occupied,” the GOP will take “all of the jobs and economic development” someplace else. Social media has suggested that DDT may try to move the RNC to one of his resorts, even Mar-a-Lago, because he already suggested that the event can be held in “a hotel ballroom in Florida.” The RNC is considering limiting convention goers to delegates, leaving alternative delegates at home for the August 24-27 event.

After the DNC postponed its convention in Milwaukee (WI) from July to August 17-20, it plans to vote by mail to leave final convention decisions to a state and local team of health and elected officials. Five days ago, city health commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said she preferred a “more virtual” convention. An alternative might be smaller regional events for delegates and party leaders accompanying a minimized main event, preferably held in five or six battleground states. Several DNC-related venues have been canceled, and a large number of delegates report not attending

Another all-about-DDT event was his speech at Fort Henry after Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan and Baltimore’s mayor Bernard C. Young asked him not to come to the state during the health crisis. Republican Hogan did not attend the speech. Young said the city couldn’t afford the costs of his visit and DDT’s “deciding to pursue nonessential travel sends the wrong message to our residents.” DDT’s spokesman justified DDT’s presence at Fort Henry by comparing him to the military service members because he didn’t “stay home” just as they didn’t.

In an interview with ultra-conservative Sinclair before golfing, DDT called himself the victim—not the 100,000 dead people and the almost 1.7 million infected people—because a model shows that two weeks’ earlier action on stopping COVID-19 could have saved about half these lives. DDT complained that Fox is “doing nothing to help Republicans, and me, get re-elected on November 3rd.” He sees that as the responsibility of a news network that has claimed to be “fair and balanced” until three years ago. About Fox, Rolling Stone reported:

“The network, at its core, is a giant soundstage created to mimic the look and feel of a news operation, cleverly camouflaging political propaganda as independent journalism. The result is one of the most powerful political machines in American history. One that plays a leading role in defining Republican talking points and advancing the agenda of the far right.”

Gone is the builder of Fox, Roger Ailes, who was media consultant for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush before he advised DDT’s 2016 campaign. DDT wants to switch to the king of conspiracy theories, OANN, especially after the family of Tommy Hicks, RNC co-chair and close friend of DDT’s son Donald Jr., is negotiating to buy the network.

CDC officials say that science is taking a back seat to politics, and DDT’s latest maneuver to put all COVID-19 decisions under his thumb in the State Department demonstrates the CDC complaint. Because Dr. Deborah Birx has been effective at agreeing with DDT about his outrageous comments and doesn’t argue against him, DDT may move the global pandemic response from an infectious expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and give it to Birx in a State Department health organization. That puts decisions under the control of far-right evangelical anti-science Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State comfortable with lying to give DDT anything he wants. The World Health Organization would be gone, and the State Department would be in charge of COVID-19 treatment and vaccines. The new State Department authority on the virus even has a name—PRO, or President’s Response to Outbreaks. It just has no experts in epidemiology, health policy, and medical logistics. 

On May 25, 2020—Memorial Day—confirmed deaths from COVID-19 are just 195 short of 100,000 although the number is more because some states are lying to keep their numbers down and their reopening more possible. That’s an average of 1,111 a day since the first recorded death in the U.S. on February 26. Seven states hit hard by COVID-19 reported almost 50 percent higher total deaths—9,000 more—than normal between March 8 and April 11. That was almost seven weeks ago (another 15,000 extra deaths?) and before states like Florida, Georgia, and South Dakota were shown to be hiding some of their cases.  

Combat fatalities in Gulf Wars from both Bushes—5,818—averaged .75 each day. At an average of at least 1,111 fatalities per day during the past 90 days, the 100,000 in DDT’s “war” is higher than the under 87,000 combat fatalities in all the “conflicts” since 1950 in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East are under 87,000.

That’s the record for Memorial Day 2020. We have another year for hundreds of thousands of more deaths if DDT continues to value his stock market over people’s lives.

May 24, 2020

Week 174 – Some Good News, Voting Squabbles

A federal judge overturned a new Florida law requiring felons to pay court fines and fees before they can register to vote, as permitted by an initiative passed in 2018 by 65 percent of the voters. The constitutional amendment expanded voting rights for those who completed “all terms of their sentence including probation and parole.” Judge Robert L. Hinkle compared the state law to a tax, unconstitutionally illegal.

In addition to using security agents as servants, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had them pack household goods and move his mother-in-law into a retirement home. Pompeo also ordered state Department officials to fabricate a justification for the emergency authorization to force an $8 billion arms deal without congressional approval and then hide it. To keep from firing Pompeo, DDT is trying to persuade him to run for Kansas senator. June 1 is the deadline for filing for candidacy.

Rachel Maddow is off the hook, at least temporarily, for a $10 million defamation lawsuit by One America News Network (OANN) after she said a writer for the right-leaning channel publishes the same material for Russia’s state propaganda network. On July 22, 2019, Maddow cited a Daily Beast article on her show, saying it reported OANN “has a full-time on-air reporter who covers U.S. politics, who is also simultaneously on the payroll of the Kremlin.” Maddow added, “The most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda.” OANN plans to appeal the lawsuit’s dismissal.

Two Democratic FCC commissioners claim a $48 million fine with no admission of guilt for Sinclair is insufficient punishment for the conservative network’s violations of regulations and asked for harsher punishments and greater scrutiny into whether Sinclair should be allowed to own any television stations.  Sinclair lied for an FCC review in its attempt to buy Tribune Media, causing the merger to collapse; didn’t report its providing accounting services to TV stations it didn’t own to the FCC; and aired sponsored programming 1,723 times without telling viewers the content was paid by a hospital group and not news.

The EPA admitted ignoring serious problems with rolling back the regulation to reduce automobile pollution through mileage standards. The agency had not seen about two-thirds of the 1,000-page document that Transportation Department staffers gave the White House as justification for the changes, and the top EPA official said that the Transportation had not addressed over 250 comments from EPA experts. Documents about objections from EPA staff may create legal problems for the rule mandating an improvement of average fuel efficiency because of the rules that the EPA broke. In the margins of the new regulation, agency staff wrote:

“The action revising the [greenhouse gas] standards will result in increased climate impacts and air pollution emissions compared to the existing standards.”

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) wrote that the EPA failed to enter document into the public record, changed the rule after it was signed, and didn’t follow it obligation to write part of the mileage rule:

“The result is a policy that fails to protect public health, fails to save money, fails to result in safer vehicles and will, ultimately and undoubtedly, fail in court.”

Even without protection from DDT’s EPA, scientists say that the worldwide drop in carbon emissions from coronavirus shutdowns could be the largest in recorded history. The 17-percent decrease from the same month last year is the same as emission levels in 2006, according to an analysis of the 69 countries responsible for 97 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Forty-three percent of the decrease came from reduced surface transportation.

DDT is launching the latest phase of his pre-election smear campaign against Democrats, and faithful loyalist Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chair of Senate Homeland Security Committee, wants to help him. He declassified an email former White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote herself as a reminder immediately before DDT’s inauguration about a discussion with President Obama and his team concerning Michael Flynn. Rice’s email states:

“[President Obama] stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”

Rice – 1; Johnson – 0. And Flynn – 0. 

Rice called on DDT to release the transcripts of phone calls between Flynn and the Russian ambassador during the transition while Barack Obama was president. Flynn pled guilty—twice—to his private conversations with a foreign country with the goal of undermining his own country’s foreign policy. No release is impending.

Watching judicial decisions regarding Texas absentee voting is like watching a ping-pong game. The state’s AG, Ken Paxton, has fought to keep from expanding the extremely narrow parameters for absentee voters, even if people are in danger of being infected and dying from COVID-19. With no evidence, his excuse is “fraud.” The latest ruling from a Texas federal judge permits absentee ballots for voters afraid of catching the virus, applying the law to all registered voters who “lack immunity from Covid-19 and fear infection at polling places.” This ruling supersedes the decision from the state Supreme Court stopping five counties from issuing mail-in ballots. The next Texas election is July 14, and July 2 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot. Paxton filed an appeal.

COVID-19 caused almost 30 states to change rules or practices for this year’s primaries or the general election, affecting roughly 86.6 million registered voters and more than 40 million people who now have the temporary right to cast an absentee ballot. Over a dozen states postponed primaries because of the virus, and 11 states requiring an excuse to vote by mail may use the virus for a reason. Another 12 states and the District of Columbia are proactively sending absentee ballot applications or request forms to voters specifically because of the coronavirus. Roughly 34.7 million people will receive the forms. Maryland, Montana, Nevada, and New Jersey sending absentee ballots for the primaries to approximately 11.3 million voters joined five other states that already mailed ballots to voters. In the 34 states that already do not require an excuse to vote absentee or by mail, the number of requests have shot up by ten times over 2016. Before the onset of the virus, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah already conduct elections by mail. Only Kentucky made voting more onerous by requiring government-issued photo IDs. ID-issuing offices are closed in the state.

With no evidence, DDT told reporters that mail-in ballots lead to “forgeries” and “thousands and thousands of fake ballots.” He added a diatribe about people printing “fraudulent ballots” and said “a lot of things can happen.” “To really vote, and without fraud, you have to go and you have to vote at the polling place,”  said DDT, the man who voted by mail from an address that Florida says he can’t have as a legal residential address. Previously, he said that Republicans need to block mail-in ballots to keep electing Republicans. DDT’s family also votes by mail.

DDT is so desperate to keep blue states from voting by mail that he threatened to block funding to Michigan and Nevada because he was under the impression that the states were mailing ballots. In fact, the states mailed applications for absentee ballots. GOP-led states such as Nebraska, West Virginia and Georgia made similar plans to offer applications for absentee ballots, but DDT has no comments about these red states. Interference with elections is unconstitutional.

Colorado, the third state after Washington and Oregon to legislate complete vote by mail, found the practice popular and relatively free of fraud—only 0.0027 percent out of 2.5 million ballots. In 2018, the state had the second highest turnout rate in the country after a 9.4 percent increase among registered voters. In April, 79 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans supported mail-in ballots for 2020. Yet the RNC and DDT’s re-election campaign are paying $20 million to fight voting changes in battleground states. Many Colorado Republicans advocate mail voting, and supporters say it’s safe because of paper ballots, signature verifications, a risk-limiting audit, and voter list checks make it safe. Research shows that neither party benefited from the mail-in system.

Vote by mail is also safer health wise. Wisconsin’s in-person primaries on April 7, mandated by the state Supreme Court and the GOP legislators, led to a “large” spread of coronavirus, according to a study.  

DDT may think that he can postpone the November election, mandated by the U.S. Constitution. About postponement, DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said, “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan.” Backlash forced Kushner to backtrack to the media: 

“I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of any discussions about trying to change the date of the Presidential election.”   [photo – Kushner]

A  federal judge allowed a federal lawsuit against DDT, his three oldest children, and his company of collaboration with a fraudulent marketing scheme to prey on investors. The case involves an exchange of “secret” payments for use of DDT’s former reality TV show The Celebrity Apprentice and other promotional events to boost ACN Opportunity, a telecommunications marketing company linked to a nonprofit that used Trump’s brand to appeal to teens. According to the lawsuit, the Trumps profited off the poor and vulnerable by “systematically defrauding economically marginalized people.”

May 24: COVID-19 deaths are 99,300—just 700 short of 100,000.

May 23, 2020

DDT: Week 173 – Wall to Wall Corruption

For black humor about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his fake cures, read Dana Milbank’s “If Trump Likes Hydroxychloroquine, He’ll Love Camel Urine.” And now to the real news which also read like black humor. 

What COVID-19 is covering up

Five agency watchdogs fired within less than two months to keep them investigating DDT’s corruption. (More about that later.)

A $1.3 billion federal contract for a small section of the southern wall with no bid to a firm that DDT found on Fox news when the owner begged for the contract. Note: the company’s earlier contract faced an inspector general audit over improper political influence—but firing the IG will take care of that.

One of the few medical experts, this one for vaccines, fired because he didn’t approve of DDT’s drug of choice, hydroxychloroquine.

Jared Kushner’s staffing of the PPE procurement team with young investment bankers who were told to prioritize DDT’s political allies and business cronies.

AG Bill Barr trying to drop charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn who pled guilty twice about his corrupt vole in the Russia investigation with DDT’s lawyers arguing that he is above the law and immune from investigation.

DDT’s possibly launching the first nuclear weapon test since 1992 to threaten China and Russia.

DDT withdrawing from the Treaty on Open Skies, an almost 30-year pact to reduce accidental wars by permitting reconnaissance flights for the 34 countries in the agreement on short notice. DDT also doesn’t want to continue the START pact with Russia that limits nuclear platforms such as bombers, submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, George W. Bush’s senior intelligence officials, tweeted about DDT’s withdrawal, “This is insane.”

Possibility of White House commission, the FEC, and the FCC investigating online bias and censorship by social media companies to force them into allowing more far-right material.

DDT celebrating almost 99,000 deaths from COVID-19 by golfing on his resort in Virginia two days after a spike in the state provided the largest number of cases in one day.

Michigan suffering from massive flooding because private companies failed to care for dams while DDT threatens to pull funding from blue states, including Michigan, if they insist on allowing people to vote by mail.

The husband of Sen. Kelly Loefler (D-GA), worried about her reelection this fall after her appointment earlier this year, giving $1 million to DDT’s super PAC.

Republicans spending $20 million to recruit 50,000 volunteers in 15 key states to “observe” (aka intimidate) voters on Election Day. Four confirmed cases of voter fraud in 2016 were three people caught trying to vote for DDT twice and an election worker caught trying to fill in a bubble on someone else’s ballot for mayor.

DDT’s campaign recruiting pro-DDT doctors for a coalition that supports his handling of a health crisis killing almost 100,000 people thus far to open up the country no matter what.  

DDT writing a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) so filled with lies that the fact-checker required 2280 words and it was called “factually incorrect” by the highly reputable British medical journal, Lancet.  The letter lies about the reasons that DDT is removing the U.S. from WHO.  

DDT concealing his addition of workers for foreign arms sales to “essential work” in mid-April, a classification of people needed “to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily.” Employees questioned why they weren’t such essential items as masks and ventilators. COVID-19 cases and deaths occurred at the plants, probably because of lack of care in protecting workers.

Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) attempt to abolish the 164-member World Trade Organization (WTO) after 90 years of success, a move to damage U.S. businesses and give a victory to China. Hawley can only withdraw U.S. membership if he gets permission from Congress. Even USTR Robert Lighthizer finds the WTO important to the U.S.: global trade liberalization has increased U.S. economy by $1.2 billion between 1950 and 2016. Eliminating WTO and trade agreements would decrease $2.8 trillion in global GDP and put the U.S. at a serious financial and political disadvantage.

The VA refusing to remove Nazi symbols on markers in its national cemetery at For Sam Houston in San Antonio (TX) for two German POWs buried there in 1943. Swastikas cannot be legally displayed for the German display, and all known monuments that feature the Nazi symbol have been removed or replaced.

Eight weeks ago, DDT “dumped” Steve Linick, the fourth inspector general in a late Friday evening tweet. The news burgeoned throughout the week. First, the firing was attributed to an investigation into the way that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife used security agents as servants. The next investigation in the news was that DDT’s use of an emergency declaration last year to fast-track weapons sales to Saudi Arabia with no congressional permission at the request of Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) for the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Congress passed three resolutions to block the sales and stop Saudi’s support for the war in Yemen, but DDT vetoed them. DDT catered to Saudi Arabia even after the Crown Prince’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and journalist in its embassy in Turkey. Lawmakers—even some GOP ones such as Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA), Mitt Romney (UT), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), and John Thune (SD)— want a justification for Linick’s firing.

Pompeo refused to be interviewed by Linick about his pressure for the “emergency” arms sale. Heather Cox Richardson wonders if the arms sales are connected to the nuclear deal that DDT made with Saudi Arabia. Lawmaker opposed that deal also, concerned that the Saudis will use the nuclear materials to develop weapons, but “Energy Secretary Rick Perry secretly approve six authorizations by March 2019.”

Next DDT told the media that he fired Linick because Pompeo asked him to do so. Pompeo said that “Linick wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to, that was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he’s supposed to be doing.” Inspectors general are supposed to be independent, not follow the agencies’ directions.

By the middle of the week, the media released information about Linick investigating the highly expensive parties that Pompeo gave for possible donors for a political run, possibly senator from Kansas. The two dozen elite gatherings, known as “Madison Dinners” and regularly scheduled until the onset of the coronavirus, developed a master list of about 500 Republicans: 29 percent from the corporate world; 25 percent from media or entertainment; 30 percent from politics or government; and 14 percent diplomats or foreign officials. NBC has the list. No one has a record of any other secretary of State having these dinners that taxpayers funded. 

Pompeo’s diplomatic trips also included stops for campaigning, for example dropping off at a retirement area with GOP donors on his way to Latin America this year. In London, he also met with GP donors just after a trip to Kansas where he met with Charles Koch. The visits were not on his public schedule, and he didn’t tell reporters with him about the meeting.

To protect another Cabinet member, DDT fired the Transportation Department inspector general last week. Mitch Behm was investigating Secretary Elaine Chao for political favoritism for her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Chao can fire the new acting IG, Howard “Skip” Elliott, a former railroad executive who also oversees the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, if she wishes. And it’s not the only conflict of interest that Chao has. Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, stated Chao’s office “actually seems to be trying to defend the idea that someone can serve both as a political appointee reporting directly to the Secretary and as an independent Inspector General charged with overseeing the Secretary’s actions.” DDT’s new appointee, Eric Soskin, is a DOJ trial lawyer “involved in some hot-button immigration and civil rights cases.”

“With the firings [of internal government oversight officials], [Trump] is demolishing the ideal that inspectors general can operate independently without fear of retribution as they attempt to uncover waste, fraud and abuse that does not serve the interests of the American people,” CNN’s Maeve Reston writes in an analysis of the consequences of Trump’s “oversight purge.” 

In his pursuit of collecting loyalists, DDT got John Ratcliffe confirmed by the GOP Senate, 49-44, for director of 17 intelligence agencies. Ratcliffe has a history of lying to make himself look better and protected a company a company accused of reprisal against a whistleblower to get donations. He also nominated a new U.S. attorney, Justin Herdman, to head up the Washington office to oversee cases that prosecute DDT’s friends. Timothy Shea, Herdman’s acting predecessor and AG Bill Barr’s friend whose time had run out, had protected Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.

And then there’s DDT’s threats against any blue states that allow mail-in voting—but that’s for another day.

May 23 COVID-19: 1,666,828 cases; 98,683 deaths.

May 22, 2020

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Somebody Else’s Death

Protesters paid by far-right organizations have been carrying their assault rifles across the nation and encouraging people to infect others. A study using cellphones show they may be successful as they travel hundreds of miles to events and take infections back home. A Denver event showed participants heading back to neighboring states such as Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Utah.

Shutdown orders crossed the nation on March 15, beginning with Illinois, Ohio, and New York City. Starting social distancing just one week earlier—while DDT was still denying COVID-19 was any problem—could have prevented 36,000 deaths, over 36 percent of fatalities reported today. Two weeks earlier, these measures could have saved 54,000 lives. Other than banning some travel from China on January 28 and from Europe on March 13, DDT took no steps to prevent the spread of the virus. Researchers said the U.S. needs to remember this lesson for the future because DDT says he will not be closing down the nation even with a resurgence of COVID-19. A CDC official said the agency was “muzzled.”

Other dangers to human life continue from the federal government. The federal government—including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin—fought against giving Native American tribes the money allotted by Congress. He finally gave the tribes the money instead of to related organizations, but Native Americans still get substandard treatment. DDT’s former chief of staff Zach Fuentes got a contract to sell masks to the government just days after registering his company and bought possibly faulty masks from China. Navajo hospitals got $3 million of these respirator masks; 247,000 of the masks, valued at $800,000, are perhaps unsuitable for medical use. Another 130,400, worth about $422,000, are not the kind specified in the order. Fuentes charged the Navajo Nation $3.24 per mask, compared to the $1.31 he charged the Bureau of Prisons. Pre-pandemic cost per mask was $1. As of today, the Navajo Nation reported 4,434 COVID-19 cases and 147 death—a higher rate than New York’s worst rate.

The government’s incompetence also lets people go hungry. The Northeast, hardest hit by COVID-19, received $46 million, the second-lowest funding of any region, from DDT’s $1.2 billion fresh food aid program. The Southwest, including Texas, received over five times as much money as the Northeast for one-fourth as many coronavirus cases. In short, the Northeast has 10 percent of the country’s population, 33 percent of COVID-19 cases, and 4 percent of food relief dollars. The USDA claimed one rejected Maine distributor was missing a signature, but the distributor said signature was present when he rechecked his paperwork. Food bank demand in Maine increased 35 percent, but USDA blocked Maine’s growers from selling their fresh produce to the program. The USDA also refused both bids from Alaska, meaning the state could not take part in the program until Food Bank found one way to get a winning bidder for fruits and vegetables. Shipments, however, can’t go outside Anchorage, and no meat or dairy is included.

Instead of using the three largest food distribution companies and nonprofits with long histories of feeding the poor on a large scale, USDA hired inexperienced private contractors–$107 million to a San Antonio event planner, an avocado mail-order company, a health-and-wellness airport kiosk company, and a trade finance corporation. The only criterion on where the food was distributed was who won the bids, some of them companies with no USDA license. California Avocados Direct, which received $40 million, can’t start until it pages a road to its facility, buy three cargo containers, and hire 130 people.

DDT plans to keep what he calls his “badge of honor” for a high number of COVID-19 cases and deaths if the virus returns this fall. When illegally touring a Michigan Ford Motor factory making masks without wearing a mask, he announced he would keep the nation open. DDT also attacked the Michigan Attorney General who had asked him to wear a mask, citing a “legal responsibility” under state law and a “social and moral responsibility.” He excused his refusal by saying, “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.” In a tweet, DDT called the female AG, Dana Nessel, “The Wacky Do Nothing Attorney General of Michigan” and gave himself credit for bringing back auto companies to Michigan. Ford Motor closed two U.S. assembly plants because COVID-19 has not been contained.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, DDT’s virus expert, said a second wave would be “inevitable.” CDC Director Robert Redfield said any decision on shelter-in-place would be “data-driven.” ER physician Megan Ranney, researcher at Brown University, testified before Congress the U.S. is not “currently prepared for a second wave” because of lack of financial support and adequate science. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll cited 77 percent saying they worry about a second wave of coronavirus happening as more businesses across the country reopen.

In an attempt to regain his voting base, DDT said he will “override” governors to open churches this Sunday. He lacks the power to do so but declared houses of worship as “essential places that provide essential services.” At least two reopened churches in Georgia and Texas closed because of attendees testing positive for COVID-19, and three dozen cases spread by a pastor and his wife after a March opening in a rural Arkansas church also killed three people thus far. DDT also indicated he was ordering CDC to make churches essential because he thinks the “timeline that I think is right.” DDT’s desperation comes from his dropping polls with white evangelicals (-11 percent), white Catholics (-12 percent), and white mainline Protestants (-18 percent).

DDT also panics about his re-election because it may require a good economy. Even Larry Kudlow, top economic official, said any economic rebound numbers “are downright bad in most cases” because of the virus’ unpredictability. Another 2.4 million people filed jobless claims last week, bringing the total to almost 39 million in less than two months. months. Mortgage delinquencies skyrocketed to 6.45 percent in April, three times the previous single-month record of 2008, and over double that of 3.06 percent in March. Only 21 percent of the 4.75 million homeowners in forbearance made their May payments. DDT is still claiming the stock market comeback at a “V,” but forecasters are predicting a “Nike swoosh” taking well into 2021 or beyond.

New guidance from CDC states one-third of infections are asymptomatic, and 40 percent of transmission occurs before people feel sick. Its “best estimate” is 0.4 percent of people who show symptoms and have COVID-19 will die, but estimates are based on data collected almost a month ago. Carl Bergstrom of the University of Washington called the projected mortality rate “optimistic,” “way out of line” with estimates of numbers infected in places such as New York City and don’t reflect “behavioral changes, social distancing, or other interventions.”

Counties with DDT’s base are the new hot zones of COVID-19. During the past four weeks, counties who voted for DDT in 2016 are more likely to show a high prevalence of the virus—100 or more cases per 100,000 people. From May 10 to May 17, 176 new counties joined the list of hundreds of counties in that category. All the new ones voted for DDT by a 12 percent margin in 2016, and he won 151 of them outright.

An analysis determining where people are most at risk for COVID-19 looked at above-average rates of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and obesity. Risks on this map go from lowest (white) to highest (darkest purple).  [visual COVID-19 risk]

Six months ago, DDT claimed his unscheduled visit to Walter Reed hospital and staying out of public view for two days was a head start on his annual physical. No report on the results was ever made, and DDT hasn’t completed his mandatory annual examination. In early March, he said he was “so busy, I can’t do it” when asked when he would complete the physical. Since that time, he has dodged reporters’ questions about the timing. His 2018 physical showed heart disease common for men in his age group. Normal presidents have this examination at the beginning of a new year.

According to a new study of 96,000 people, Covid-19 patients who took hydroxychloroquine, DDT’s drug of choice he claims to be taking, showed no special improvement and were significantly more likely to develop dangerous heart conditions.

The Merriam-Webster word-of-the-day for yesterday, “per capita,” was defined as “per unit of population; by or for each person” and “equally to each individual.” https://www.alternet.org/2020/05/he-aint-bright-trump-brutally-mocked-for-nonsensically-insisting-there-are-many-per-capitas/   Earlier, DDT tried to explain almost 100,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 aren’t too bad in response to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore statistics that the U.S. has the ninth highest coronavirus death rate, per capita, in the world and the highest numbers of coronavirus deaths period:

“And, you know, when you say “per capita,” there’s many per capitas. It’s, like, per capita relative to what? But you can look at just about any category, and we’re really at the top, meaning positive on a per capita basis, too. They’ve done a great job.

On May 22, the U.S. had 1,645,094 COVID-19 cases and 97,647 deaths with some states lying to lower the numbers. Florida fired the person in charge of COVID-19 data because she wouldn’t doctor it to get the state opened. An analysis of deaths for five weeks ending April 25 show 1,358 to 1,831 unexpected deaths, suggesting that the epidemic death toll could be 17 percent to 58 percent higher.

 

May 20, 2020

DDT Plays Doctor, Goes Goofy

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 10:44 PM
Tags: , , , ,

President Trump told reporters on Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for about a week and a half and that the White House physician knows he is taking the anti-malaria drug despite the fact he continues to test negative for the coronavirus. No one knows if he’s taking the drug or just lying. His doctor’s memo of May 18, 2020, merely said that that he had discussed the issue with DDT, and they “concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.” Even without saying that he had prescribed the drug, the doctor helps persuade vulnerable and gullible people to take a drug that can kill them. Fox’s Neil Cavuto made that very clear by tweeting:

“If you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment … it will kill you. I cannot stress enough. This will kill you.”

DDT made his fury at Cavuto and Fox very clear in a tweet barrage last Monday. One of DDT’s retweets showed that he missed the black humor from the tweeter:

Neil Cavuto: It’ll kill you!!!

Laura Ingraham: Take it! Take it! Take it!

Fox has had a reputation for attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, who disagrees with DDT about the efficacy of a dangerous unapproved drug for COVID-19.  The GOP website Bulwark compared medical expert Fauci with DDT and asked, “To whom would you go if you get sick?” But DDT needs to get rid of 29 million dosages that he’s stockpiled.

DDT’s claims seems to be just another simple assertion that he’s right, no matter what, and that he needs to distract people from his weekly firing of an inspector general.

Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, has some questions for the doctor who wrote a memo indicating approval of DDT taking hydroxychloroquine. He has these questions:

Is DDT’s “statement that he is taking the drug … true?” Prominent pundits think not.

“If it is not true that Trump is taking the drug, why has Dr. Conley lied in violation of (Food and Drug Administration) guidelines, medical standards, ethics and professionalism? Who instructed or encouraged him to lie?” (It should be noted that the FDA is covering for Conley by softening the guidelines in prescribing the drug.)

“The 25th Amendment was passed, in part, because the White House physician for President Franklin D. Roosevelt covered up his debilitating heart disease. Is Dr. Conley violating the spirit of that constitutional amendment?”

Will Conley’s actions “be reviewed and held to account by the Department of Defense given that he is a military officer?”

Could the drug have an affect on DDT’s mental health?  Blumenthal wrote, “Medical researchers have concluded that hydroxychloroquine may cause neuropsychiatric symptoms, ‘including agitation, insomnia, confusion, mania, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, catatonia, psychosis and suicidal ideation. Has Dr. Conley properly assessed his patient, President Trump, for his susceptibility to these symptoms? Since Trump has been taking the drug, has Dr. Conley observed that it has produced or exacerbated any of these symptoms in President Trump?”

DDT’s campaign manager Brad Parscale, frantically trying to keep his job after DDT’s re-election polls keep dropping, approves of DDT’s taking the drug because the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons endorses hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19. Anyone who hears that also needs to know that the 2,500-member organization doesn’t believe in the connection between AIDS and HIV, considered “scientifically conclusive” since 1988 by the National Academy of Sciences. Judd Legum also reported the AAPS published an article in 2008 claiming Jewish people were hypnotized to vote for Barack Obama and his campaign logo “resembles a crystal ball, a favorite of hypnotists.” According to AAPS, nicotine is not addictive, and Michael L. Marlow’s paper criticizes “government efforts to encourage people to stop smoking as costly and ineffective”—research financed by Philip Morris.”

If DDT is truly taking a dangerous drug, it’s his problem. VP Mike Pence is waiting in the wings. But millions of people see DDT as a leader; some of them even swallowed bleach after his deadly advice. DDT’s vigorously push of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 leads to a public health hazard when he reassures his audiences that the drug “doesn’t harm you.”

According to research, seriously adverse side effects include heart problems, an issue for DDT because of his medical history, leading to death. Yet DDT refuses to accept any problems from hydroxychloroquine: this week he called the research from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs a “Trump enemy statement.” He accused VA scientists of conspiring against him, also claiming at a Cabinet meeting, “That study was a phony study put out by the VA.” Far from being “political,” as DDT claimed, the research has no evidence of VA researchers involved in a political conspiracy. Mental problems caused by taking hydroxychloroquine include sudden bouts of anger, depression, and even suicidal impulses. White House officials have reported that DDT has recently been have severe changes in mood. He became worse after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) referred to him as “morbidly obese.”

DDT may be behaving even more strangely these days. During his unveiling of a $19 billion COVID-19 agricultural aid package covering farmers’ losses of over five percent, he declared:

“We’re going after Virginia, with your crazy governor. They want to take your Second Amendment away. You’ll have nobody guarding your potatoes.”

Virginia has the smallest potato crop of any state, and there have been no reports of anyone attacking potatoes in the state.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths from COVID-19 is still rising although several states are hiding their data. As of May 20, the U.S. has almost 95,000 deaths in almost 1.6 million cases; the world just topped 5 million.              

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