APPROVAL ALERT AT PRESS TIME:
FiveThirtyEight Poll: 42.6% — down from 42.7% last week
Rasmussen Poll: 45% — same as last week
Welcome to Trumplandia, a place where, with a bit of wit and snark, we keep the world caught up on all of the tasty Nuggets-O-Trump you might 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:
May Old Acquaintances Be Forgot
The week of our Trump — Dec. 26, 2020: When last we saw our heroes Dimwit Donnie and Complicit Mike, they were on their way back to the nation’s capital to continue their campaign against American democracy and the results of the last election.
Trump, who is the first incumbent president to lose a re-election bid since George H.W. Bush lost to President Bill Clinton in 1992, has refused to concede the Nov. 3 election he lost to challenger Joe Biden. Trump lost both the popular vote by roughly 7 million votes and the Electoral College by a count of 306 to 232.
Since his loss, Trump spun farfetched yarns of widespread voter fraud and even challenged the victory in about 50 failed lawsuits. Two of Trump’s challenges made it all the way to the Supreme Court where they were rejected for lack of evidence.
Despite certified results, failed legal challenges and dismissals by a court in which he appointed three Supreme Court justices, Trump has rejected reality and continues to rail against the will of the voters.
This week, he continued an ongoing Twitter war with officials in Georgia, a state he lost by more than 12,000 votes, even fighting at one point from his private golf course at Mar-a-Lago.
However, Trump and First Lady Melania unexpectedly returned to Washington on the morning of New Year’s Eve, missing their annual gala there to preside over what many see as the last gasps of an imploding Republican Party.
The two boarded Air Force One from Palm Beach International Airport at about 11:15 a.m. EST and returned to the White House for unknown reasons. Throngs of supporters lined the motorcade route to the airport on what was expected to be his final trip from his resort as president.
Trump’s return did nothing to derail yesterday’s vote in the U.S. Senate on the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) defense policy bill. In a rare New Year’s Day session, the GOP-controlled Senate overrode Trump’s veto by a vote of 81-13. Trump’s veto was already overridden in the House of Representatives by a vote of 322-87.
The bill commits a 3 percent raise for U.S. troops and guides defense spending. Defense bills are usually bipartisan and have been seamlessly passed into law for the last 60 years. Trump vetoed the bill last week presumably because it did not limit social media companies and allowed for the renaming of military bases that honor Confederate military leaders.
Trump said the first override of his veto by the Senate was a lost opportunity by the body and again pushed for a $2,000 stimulus payment to each American, something he had rejected this summer from Democrats. Although not tied to the NDAA, Trump appeared to believe vetoing the defense bill would give him leverage over those members of his party he had asked to support a $2,000 payment to Americans as part of a bipartisan stimulus.
Against Trump’s wishes, Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked a bill backed by Democrats that would have raised stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. Trump contradicted his own party and pushed for the higher amount, belatedly agreeing with his political opponents.
Adding to the tumult was a new push by Republicans to overturn the 2020 election.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) filed a lawsuit against Vice President Mike Pence to broaden the powers of the vice presidency to allow Pence to overturn Biden’s electoral win ahead of the Jan. 6 certification meeting of Congress.
The lawsuit asked to invalidate the 134-year-old law and allow the vice president to choose among competing claims of victory. The Gohmert suit advanced the idea that any vice president “may exercise the exclusive authority and sole discretion in determining which electoral votes to count for a given State.”
The veep’s role in presiding over the joint session of Congress has historically been ceremonial. Governed by an 1887 federal law known as the Electoral Count Act, the vice president, in his role as president of the Senate, oversees the session and officially declares the winner of the election. Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party, a former state senator, joined Gohmert in suing Pence in an attempt to expand his authority.
Pence, on the last day of the year, asked a federal judge to reject the lawsuit, essentially charging that it should target not the vice president, but Congress itself for establishing the practice and giving states the power to resolve election disputes.
Federal Judge Jeremy Kernodle of Texas ruled yesterday that Gohmert’s lawsuit was without standing and quickly dismissed the desperate legal request. Kernodle wrote that Gohmert “alleges at most an institutional injury to the House of Representatives. Under well-settled Supreme Court authority, that is insufficient to support standing.”
Gohmert’s antics served as the backdrop for more Republican sedition.
Another Republican, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), said he plans to object to the certification of Biden. He is joined by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who also plans to object to the election results in the House of Representatives. A reported 140 Republican members of the House plan to join Brooks and Hawley in what has been termed by Republican leadership as “an exercise in futility.”
For his part, Trump attacked Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) for recognizing Biden as president-elect. He relabeled Thune a “RINO” (Republican in name only) and urged South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to primary Thune for his seat in 2022.
He later called for a protest rally on Jan. 6, the day of the certification. His tweet suggested he would schedule the protest once he found an appropriate time.
Meanwhile, Biden took to the airwaves this week to bring some tough love and realism to the effort to get people vaccinated under “Operation Warp Speed.”
In two public addresses this week. Biden criticized the Trump led plan for not moving fast enough, stating the goal of 20 million vaccinations by the end of 2020 was not possible. Unfortunately, he was right.
According to information from the Center of Disease Control (CDC), days before year’s end, 11.4 million doses of vaccine had been distributed to states but only 3.1 million people had received the first dose of the vaccine.
While our nation’s very stable genius spent the last days of 2020 golfing at his Florida resort, Biden took to the airwaves and said under the current rate of inoculation, it could take almost 10 years to vaccinate enough Americans to get the pandemic under control.
The president-elect said he would immediately employ programs to ramp up distribution of vaccines. He pledged to get 100 million doses to the public within the first 100 days of his taking office, saying he would use the Defense Authorization Act to further increase the supply of vaccines.
Despite his plan to expedite vaccinations, he still warned of tough days ahead:
“We need to be honest — the next few weeks and months are going to be very tough, very tough for our nation. Maybe the toughest during the entire pandemic.”
At press time, the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 355,000 and infected more than 20 million in the United States. During an unprecedented uptick in cases, hospital emergency rooms across the country are filling at alarming rates despite the approval of two vaccines, with another edging toward approval.
The U.S. added more than 200,000 new cases of COVID yesterday with more than 2,000 people perishing. The increased spread comes after a more virulent variant of the virus emerged in the United Kingdom and has now emerged in the U.S.
Just this week, Sen. David Perdue, one of two Georgia Republicans involved in a runoff election for Senate seats, announced he had been in close contact with an infected person and would be self-quarantining. Perdue and his wife have initially tested negative.
Earlier in the week 41-year-old Rep. Luke Letlow, a Republican congressman-elect from Louisiana, died from COVID-19 after contracting the disease around Dec. 18. Letlow won a runoff earlier this month in the state’s 5th congressional district.
Just yesterday, Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin Jr., also a Republican, died after contracting COVID last month. He was 60.
Numbers are expected to soar after the holidays with a tired populous experiencing pandemic fatigue. Many have ignored safety precautions by gathering in groups and not wearing protective face coverings or social distancing during the weeks between Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s.
Although vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna were rolled out early last month, the Trump aspiration of having 20 million Americans inoculated by Dec. 31 fell woefully short. Trump, always the deflector-in-chief, of course denied responsibility in a Dec. 29 tweet that stated:
“It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government. We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly, but gotten to the states.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany added:
“While partisan critics offer nothing but empty rhetoric to frighten Americans for political ends, President Trump delivers results.”
Despite the exit of its guests of honor, the annual New Year’s Eve shindig at Mar-a-Lago went off without a hitch, this time featuring the children of Donald Trump and their wealthy friends exhibiting very few protective masks and no social distancing.
The garish event was highlighted by rapper/reality television star Vanilla Ice and the appearance of newly engaged Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla) and his fiancée, Ginger Luckey.
Hosted by the Trump children, the $1,000-a-person event was held in the ballroom of the Palm Beach resort and served as a birthday celebration for Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr. Don-Don, who turned 43, joined with his nasty girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, to wish their social media followers a happy new year!
More than 500 people were expected to attend the annual gala in the middle of the 2020 pandemic and they began posting pictures just around suppertime.
“We just wanted to wish you guys an incredible new year. Obviously 2020 has been a little bit nuts and rather crazy, I don’t think anyone’s going to be upset about moving on from this one.”
The event was also attended by Trump’s son Eric, along with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner with their children. Tiffany Trump was also there with her boyfriend, Michael Boulos.
With tables set for 10 and no social distancing, each table featured a white floral centerpiece and candles encased in a sculpture meant to look like the New Year’s Eve ball from Times Square in New York City.
Guests were treated to menu items like “Mr. Trump’s Wedge Salad” and cheese tortellini and Wagyu beef. Guests presumably enjoyed performances by ’80s rapper Robert Van Winkle/Vanilla Ice and the rock group Berlin.
The New Year’s Eve gala is an annual tradition that predates Trump’s time as president. Attendees must be a member of Mar-a-Lago or a guest of a member to attend.
The resort itself has been in the news in recent days with residents of the Florida community balking at the possibility that Trump could return to live there after his time in the White House expires.
Trump reportedly was less than happy with the changes made to his private quarters at the resort. Renovated to make the approximately 3,000-square-foot space feel larger, Trump did not like the new look, which was overseen by the FLOTUS. CNN reported Trump was so displeased with the changes that he ordered the mostly white marble and dark wood be removed.