Hope on Halloween Edition
APPROVAL ALERT AT PRESS TIME:
FiveThirtyEight Poll: 43.6% — up from 42.5% last week
Rasmussen Poll: 51% — same as last week
Hill-HarrisX Poll, Oct. 28: Biden, 46% – Trump, 42%
Welcome to Trumplandia, a place where, with a bit of wit and snark, we keep the world caught up on the tasty Nuggets-O-Trump you may have heard about but were too busy to care. Because most of this minutia occurs just below the massive headlines, it’s in a land of its own. Here, an infusion of social media, video clips and print media meld with our political views to make more delicious “Fake News” about our Commander-in-Chief.
So just like the president, we start it all with a little tweet like this:
No Surprise this October
The week of our Trump — October 24, 2020: Unlike this time in 2016, the opportunity for the time-old tradition of an “October Surprise” appears to have come and gone, with the presidential election now just three days away.
Impeached President Donald J. Trump had hoped for a vaccine to stop the raging novel coronavirus, but none was ready.
He hoped for indictments from his final report commissioned to investigate Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether he colluded with Russia to win the White House in 2016, but that too was not ready.
He hoped a story that re-explored Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s son’s employment with a Ukrainian gas company would hit the New York Post and allow him to again trip the light fantastic and create at least the appearance of a scandal to ease his path re-election. It did not gain enough traction.
Despite proclaiming the Hunter Biden situation the “biggest political crime in American history” and trying again to label his opponent and his entire brood as an “organized crime family” in league with gangsters, Russian oligarchs and Chinese politicians, little happened.
Without a spectacle on the level of an FBI investigation into his opponent, Trump cruises into November without an obvious advantage and behind in the polls. The lack of a glitzy distraction has robbed the Trump campaign of the element of surprise, leaving only the painfully predictable.
His handpicked U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, was confirmed by the Republican-led Senate along party lines on October 26 — Hillary Clinton’s birthday. Trump then predictably put the cherry on top of his party’s hypocrisy by recklessly swearing in the 48-year-old Handmaiden to undo the legacy of the most important Supreme Court Justice for women’s rights, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Of course, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas performed the swearing in — old misogynists got to stick together.
The move was only one of the dastardly deeds set forth by Trump this Hallows Eve.
At rally after rally, Trump continues to attract crowds, spread the virus and lie about his opponent’s record and what will happen if he loses. At one point in Minnesota last night, he returned to the xenophobic message that started his presidential campaign more than four years ago, falsely stating that Biden has pledged to increase “refugees from the most dangerous and violent terrorist hot spots on the earth” by 700 percent.
Trump tweeted yesterday:
“Biden’s deadly migration policies will overwhelm taxpayers and open the floodgates to terrorists, jihadists and violent extremists.”
However, COVID-19 was immovable.
Said to be kicking his campaign into “overdrive” by some on Fox News, Trump continued his ghoulish approach to spreading the pandemic by holding even more large, congested public rallies in red state after red state, all across America.
Beginning in Lumberton, N.C., and sprinting through Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin again, Nebraska, Arizona and return trips to Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin yet again, the Super Spreader-in-Chief ignored science and all his health officials by zigzagging across the country, continuing to falsely proclaim that the COVID crisis was over and the byproduct of a “unified chant of the ‘lame-stream media’ campaign” overly focused on the contagion.
The Biden campaign’s focus on the administration’s COVID fumble has been an obvious point of attack as the president’s anger swelled over how reporting about the contagion was being used against him.
Trump was unfazed by the staggering number of infections — number one in the world — with the United States reporting 9.3 million infections since February. More than 235,000 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus.
To put it into perspective, as you read this, the United States will have roughly 1 million more infections than it did exactly one week ago.
With an election still to win, Trump family members have been following their script by unleashing a drone of misinformation that questions science and blames the pandemic on skewed media.
Donald Trump Jr. appeared on Fox News’ “Laura Ingraham Show” on Oct. 29 and continued the tried-and-true campaign of his father, which revolves around mocking and downplaying the spread of the virus:
“I mean, give me a break, Laura, the reality is this . . . if you look, I put it up on my Instagram a couple of days ago, because I went through the CDC data because I kept hearing about new infections, but I was like, ‘Well, why aren’t they talking about deaths?’ Oh, oh, because the number is almost nothing.”
Mission Accomplished Against the Invisible Enemy?
Although the president has been saying at his rallies that we are turning the proverbial corner or “rounding the turn” on ending the whole pandemic thing, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy took things a step further this week by listing the end of the outbreak as an accomplishment of the Trump administration.
The list was included in a press release from the office that credits the Trump administration for taking “decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry and government to understand, treat and defeat the disease.”
The news came as the nation hit all-time highs for infections yesterday.
At press time, the U.S. flirted with 100,000 COVID-19 infections, with an estimated 99,382 yesterday. The volume of cases shattered the previous record set the day before by almost 10,000. Illinois again led the parade of daily infections with 6,799. Texas, Florida, Wisconsin and California were not far behind.
The tsunami of infections comes as Trump barnstorms the country, holding multiple jam-packed campaign events that are perfectly suited for spreading the virus far and wide.
England, Germany, France and Belgium have also experienced huge spikes in the number of reported cases of COVID-19 in the past week. Belgium announced a national lockdown yesterday.
With the infection rate increasing in Europe, nonessential businesses like hair salons were ordered to close from Monday until the middle of December. All gatherings in public spaces must be limited to a maximum of four people in Belgium.
However in the United States, despite an obvious and anticipated autumn rise in cases, Trump continues to mock and defy the professionals who warn that gathering in large crowds, not social distancing and not wearing masks can spread the disease.
White House officials attempted to walk back the statements in the document released by its own Office of Science and Technology Policy, stating the press release was “poorly worded.”
Alyssa Farah, White House strategic communications director, told Fox News this week:
“The intent was to say that it is our goal to end the virus. Cases are still rising and we need the American public to remain vigilant. This is the top priority of the president, defeating this virus and rebuilding our economy.”
Farah’s message was in stark contrast to those of Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who told reporters on a Sunday morning talk show that the administration had given up attempting to control the spread of COVID.
Meadows, who appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” hosted by Jake Tapper, said the administration was aware that more than 230,000 people had died of coronavirus since February, but the country’s leaders were more concerned with the development of ways to treat COVID rather than working to slow its spread.
Meadows told Tapper:
“We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.”
Further pressed, Meadows recklessly referred to the global pandemic as “contagious like the flu,” then backtracked to say the administration was “making efforts to contain” coronavirus. Meadows said the focus is on treatments, therapies or vaccines that will ensure people do not die from the disease.
Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of Health, Adm. Brett Giroir, who leads the nation’s coronavirus testing response, is concerned the spread is getting worse. He reiterated the need to wear masks when in public, the need to avoid crowds, and called for increased testing.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has stated he is worried about the current rate of infection in the United States.
Although he has resisted what he earlier stated was an “authoritarian” move by the federal government to require the wearing of protective masks, he said the current rise in cases may call for extreme action.
“Well, if people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it,” Fauci told CNN last week.
He said it would be great if everyone began wearing a mask, adding that a mandate would be difficult to enforce, but might help everyone pull together to stem the spread of the virus.
Such concepts have been supported by the president, who says he is in favor of masks, but is rarely seen wearing one. During a rally in Michigan yesterday, he mocked Fox News host Laura Ingraham for wearing a mask while attending his rally in Waterford, Michigan, as trying to be “politically correct.”
A survivor of the disease himself, Trump, who was given experimental drugs not available to all Americans, falsely stated, “If you get it, you’re going to get better and then you’re going to be immune.”
He later went on to repeat the ignorant belief that America’s record numbers of infection are due to increased testing and to suggest that it is in the best interest of doctors to increase reporting of COVID cases where people die from the disease in order to get paid more money.
At a Michigan rally yesterday, Trump blurted:
“You know, everything is ‘COVID, COVID, COVID. You know that. You turn on the news, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID.’ And you know cases are up. Why are cases up? Because we test more than anyone in history.”
Because it’s almost Halloween and possibly nearing the end of the Trump presidency, we threw together a few spooky odds and ends from the week that may have gone unnoticed.
In another terrible week for the 45th president, a federal judge denied a Department of Justice (DOJ) effort to end a defamation lawsuit against him by one of the women he allegedly raped. And the mysterious “Anonymous,” who penned a tell-all about Trump in the New York Times, finally came forward.
Also, Twitter, Trump’s favorite vehicle for communicating lies to his followers, refused to allow any Hunter Biden material to run, and blocked an apparently false claim that mail-in balloting was having problems and that there were discrepancies. The Oct. 26 post was labeled as “disputed and misleading” and then removed.
The next day, hackers gained access to the president’s campaign website and to several devices tied to the campaign and allegedly to Trump and his family.
The hackers even left a ransom note:
“The world has had enough of the fake-news spreaded (sic) daily by President Donald J. Trump,” they wrote. “We have evidence that completely discredits Mr. Trump as a president.”
The pirates then encouraged viewers to donate to an address tied to “Monero” a cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin. The page was shut down by 6:30 p.m. and a message said the site was “currently offline.” The site again became operational about five minutes later.
A Trump Campaign spokesperson acknowledged the hack and said they were working with authorities to investigate the breach. It was the second in as many weeks.
Hackers are alleged to have stolen $2.3 million from the Wisconsin Republican Party’s account last week. Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt said the organization noticed “suspicious activity” on the site on Oct. 22. The hacked account was being used to help re-elect Trump, who won the battleground state by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016. The theft is being investigated by the FBI and the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Also this week, Peter Berkowitz, the director of policy planning at the State Department, returned from London only to test positive for coronavirus. Berkowitz also met with government officials in Paris and Hungary.
Yesterday the New York Times reported Trump had canceled plans to appear at his Trump International Hotel in D.C. for an Election Night party.
The president addressed the issue at a press conference yesterday where he said the change of plans was tied to the District’s coronavirus restrictions.
Trump told reporters:
“We haven’t made a determination. We have certain rules and regulations. You know, Washington, D.C., is shut down. The mayor shut it down,. We have a hotel. I don’t know if you’re allowed to use it or not, but I know the mayor has shut down Washington, D.C., and if that is the case we will probably stay here to pick another location.”
Washington, D.C., is currently under orders to limit public gatherings to 50 people or fewer due to coronavirus.
Trump’s son Eric said a change in plans may instead place the celebration on White House grounds.
Finally, Madame Tussauds Berlin location decided to reimagine its Trump exhibit, by “86ing” the current commander-in-chief from inside the museum and relegating the wax likeness of Agent Orange to a nearby dumpster.
Trump’s likeness was moved yesterday into the dumpster and surrounded by bags of trash that included a “Make America Great Again” hat and a number of “tweet bubbles” that included the phrases: “Fake News!” “You are fired! and “I love Berlin” as part of what management called a “symbolic gesture.”
Orkide Yalcindag, the museum’s marketing manager said:
“Today’s activity is rather of a symbolic character ahead of the elections in the United States. We here at Madame Tussauds Berlin removed Donald Trump’s waxwork as a preparatory measure.”
The new exhibit was wheeled in front of its Trump Tower display.