Donald Trump is learning he can’t escape the ominous death toll resulting from decisions he made in handling Covid-19.
So this week brought on more attacks on the rule of law and a shocking level of callousness in Donald Trump.
There was that moment when he admitted that he doesn’t like testing because it gives him numbers he doesn’t like. Even with the low proportion of testing, the numbers were so devastating that we saw an even uglier version of Donald Trump lurking beneath the surface.
Who compares unprotected staff at hospitals and assisted living facilities to soldiers running into bullets and describes it as “beautiful”?
The man sitting in the White House declaring that the country will re-open vaccine or not, that’s who.
Of course, his understanding of Covid-19 is that anyone who gets close to him must wear a mask and be tested daily. After all, they might have cooties and since the diagnostic test the White House uses is fast but highly inaccurate, it wouldn’t be so beautiful if someone infected the POTUS with a “hoax” that may well have killed 90,000 Americans by the time you read this article.
That’s a big number. In the past few months, America has seen more deaths than in a combination of the worst modern wars and events.
Former Obama Administration Cabinet Secretary, Chris Lu, tweeted the horrifying numbers for the war in Afghanistan, 9-11, the Iraq war and the war with Vietnam. In combination, they don’t put a dent in the amount of death resulting from Trump’s decisions.
Some other death totals that were “a tiny percentage” of Americans:
War in Afghanistan: 2,400— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) May 15, 2020
9/11 attacks: 3,000
War in Iraq: 4,400
Vietnam War: 58,000
We’ve now exceeded all of those other totals combined https://t.co/JAwA76ANLu
That doesn’t begin to reflect the waves of devastation that come with record-breaking levels of people losing their jobs and businesses and seeing everything they’ve worked for slip through their hands.
It gets even worse when you consider that the Republicans believe in corporate welfare, but not in food stamps, housing subsidies or a temporary guaranteed income that would make the difference in millions of people’s lives. It doesn’t get more absurd that while Republican governors and the DOJ are trying to kill Obamacare in the courts, some Republicans are saying fear not, dear voters. Even if you lost your healthcare because you lost your job, you can apply for Obamacare.
And all the things that were wrong before remain wrong. A 32 year old black women got shot by police for sleeping in her own bed in her own home while black. Her name was Breonna Taylor and she was an EMT. She was in two wars at the same time. There was nothing romantic about the way she died.
A 26 years young black man was shot dead by a white father and son for jogging while black. His name was Ahmaud Arbery, It took two months before law enforcement got around to arrest his killers.
We still see the greatest amount of suffering among the people who have the least and the greatest amount of grumbling from many people privileged enough to have time to grumble.
It feels as if Trump brought the worst elements of hell together.
Our hells are admittedly relative and some are literally a matter of life and death, as we see by the jaw-dropping numbers of meat processing plant workers testing positive.
For a political writer, hell means never having anything good to say about what government is doing week after week. Calling that “hell” seems incredibly selfish compared to the reality for people risking their lives to feed their families. Those risks could not have been foreseen as part of the daily routine.
Doctors and nurses went into providing healthcare to save lives. They didn’t buy into every day at work being such a risk that they would have to live away from their families. People processing meat or serving drinks never thought that a day at work could be a death sentence for them or for someone they love.
While police officers live with risk as part of their jobs, they live with the same risks all other people who go to work every day live with. Now those risks include sickening and dying in a pandemic.
As bleak as the pandemic is, the state of our democracy is just as bleak. Trump seems to believe he needs some gigantic deflections to distract from a pandemic that’s making the obituary section big again.
This week, several significant assaults on the rule of law have been added to those we’ve seen since he took office. Each new assault would be dangerously distractive and destructive in its own right.
Trump showed us what appears in the Dictatorship for Dummies playbook as the final multi-pronged assault on justice. Mitch McConnell summoned the Senate back in session to continue packing courts with people you’d think got their law degrees in Russia, China or anywhere else where his hero “strong men” rule.
Tim Shea, William Barr’s protege in the DC District Attorney’s office, sought to get charges against Michael Flynn dropped. His argument was as Alice in Wonderland as everything else about the Trump presidency. It goes like this. Even though Flynn confessed to lying to the FBI and even though Donald Trump admitted that he fired Flynn for lying to the FBI (and to Mike Pence) there never should have been an investigation. Therefore the real confession to real crimes shouldn’t count.
While there is a saving grace in Judge Sullivan’s decision to litigate the case further, no one can understate the implications for the rule of law if charges can be dropped against someone who confessed to the crime – when that person is a friend of the president.
Similarly, we saw the levers of s-hole justice at work when, magically, Michael Cohen was going to be released from jail and, as magically, that decision changed earlier this month. Paul Manafort, who remained “loyal” to Trump is out of prison serving the remainder of his term under house arrest. This is the right response to the corona virus crises for all non violent prisoners, not only people who Trump knows and likes. But, many people who have been imprisoned, including people imprisoned on civil violations being an undocumented immigrant will die the horrific death that goes with Covid-19 – an excessive punishment.
We saw the tyrannical character of a Trump legal system again when Senator Richard Burr resigned as Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee – after the FBI decided to seize his cell phone over that little insider trading matter.
The fact of the matter is Burr should be arrested because of his involvement in insider trading. But since the DOJ is okay with dropping charges against friends of Trump who confess to crimes, my guess is the seizure of Burr’s cell phone had more to do with the Senate Intelligence committee report about Russia’s role in helping Trump cheat his way to the presidency in 2016.
Even Trump’s most loyal lapdogs were taken a bridge too far when Trump said he wanted Barack Obama ordered to testify before the Senate Judiciary committee. Lindsey Graham is always willing to please, but this was too far over the top even for him.
When that failed, Trump played out the fantasy that he was victorious in the political takeover of a Banana-Republic. Naturally, that means accusing the previous leader of unspecified crimes that we all know about, but no one in the press mentions because they hate Trump. Or something like that.
There actually is a positive side in all this. It seems impossible to find, but it is excellent news that Republicans are losing the senior vote because silly seniors don’t want to roll over and die for the stock market.
That means Donald Trump is losing core components of his base. It seems small, but we’re also living with a President who believes that infecting someone with a deadly virus is a right and living is a privilege.
There cannot be a deflection big enough to wipe out that delusion, let alone beat down the hell Trump’s incompetence brought on.