Previous “This Week in Trump” posts

Donald Trump Is Bored 

Friday, May 8th, 2020

It’s natural to try to understand just what those in power are thinking and planning for America, as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. Far too often in the past few weeks, the federal government has utterly failed in its duties to coordinate a national response. Often, it has seemed that the plan is to have no plan.

However, even that requires a level of foresight that doesn’t seem to reflect the reality of who Donald Trump is. Instead, consider this quote, from Amanda Marcotte:

It’s tempting to imagine that Trump is motivated by some clever political strategy — or by any strategy at all — in making this move now. But it’s probably just that he’s getting bored with this whole coronavirus crisis and, now that things are getting really hard, he’s ready to abandon it and move on. That’s exactly what he did during his entire career in the real estate business — and in his marriages — abandoning one failed venture after another the second things turned rocky. Now he’s doing it to the entire country.

Marcotte’s piece for Salon is the most cogent read I’ve yet seen.

Don’t Be a Pence

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

It’s been several weeks since I wrote about how we should all wear a mask when going out in public. Hopefully by this point, you’re on board. Just in case you still need convincing, this article from the Atlantic lays things out with wonderful clarity. Put simply, your mask helps me, my mask helps you, and when enough people wear masks, the spread of COVID-19 is drastically reduced.

Wearing a mask is a simple and effective action we can all take to help move the world back to something closer to normal. Frankly, if I see someone’s nose and mouth out in public right now, I consider them rude and selfish. Wearing a mask should be viewed as an act of patriotism, as taking part in a collective effort akin to rationing or buying bonds during wartime. Refusing to wear a mask isn’t brave, it’s practically treasonous.

Nevertheless, there are still many people who have yet to see the light. Most egregious among them is Vice President Mike Pence, who toured the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday with his maw on full display. This occurred despite an established policy that all visitors must mask up.

It’s disappointing that the medical experts at the Mayo even allowed Pence to enter the premises. Even more cravenly, their Twitter account first tweeted confirmation that Pence had been informed of the policy before his arrival, then later deleted the tweet. At this point, no one’s coming out of this looking good. But hey, just to be fair, let’s see how Pence defended his actions:

“As vice president of the United States, I’m tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis, and everyone who is around me is tested for the coronavirus,” he told reporters, saying he is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

“And since I don’t have the coronavirus, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health care personnel, and look them in the eye and say ‘thank you.’ “

No test is going to be perfect, and even if the results are extremely reliable, they’re also sure to be a lagging indicator. At the very least, despite what he’s saying, it’s impossible for Pence to be certain he doesn’t have the virus. When interacting with frontline medical workers, staff, and sick patients, it’s inexcusable to fail to exercise caution and follow policy, no matter how recently he received an all-clear test.

Even if Pence actually could be certain there was no chance he’d spread the virus, his decision not to wear a mask was also a failure of leadership. Good leaders know how to lead by example. In 1969, Fred Rogers shared a foot bath with a black man to promote racial equality at a time when swimming pools in America were often still segregated. To teach the world that HIV couldn’t be transmitted by touch, Princess Diana shook the hand of an AIDS patient on television. But Mike Pence? He shrank from the opportunity to set a good example.

Hang on, though. Let’s re-read part of that feeble defense:

I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to…look them in the eye and say ‘thank you.’ “

Does Mike Pence not know the difference between a mask and a blindfold?

OK, You First, Mr. President

Friday, April 24th, 2020

Yesterday, at the daily White House train wreck press briefing on COVID-19, Donald Trump went on an ill-informed digression about light and disinfectants. From the official transcript:

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. So I asked Bill a question that probably some of you are thinking of, if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too. It sounds interesting.

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY BRYAN: We’ll get to the right folks who could.

THE PRESIDENT: Right. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.

That none of the “medical doctors” who were present rushed the stage to dispute this truly dangerous notion is but a sad footnote in the insanity that is Donald Trump’s presidency.

Thankfully, Trump’s hazardous ideas were swiftly condemned by the press, as well as anyone with even an ounce of goddamned common sense. Private businesses like Clorox and Reckitt Benckiser (makers of Lysol), as well as government agencies like the EPA and the Consumer Products Safety Commission, found themselves needing to issue statements warning the public not to ingest or inject bleach or other disinfectants.

Now, Trump is claiming he was being sarcastic, stating:

  • I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen.

Two things:

First, no. He very, very clearly was not being sarcastic. For my own mental well-being, I avoid listening to Trump shitting at the mouth whenever possible. In this case, though, the video is clear, and available for you to see with your own eyes.1 It’s just over a minute long, and it is entirely clear that he is not being sarcastic in any way. Donald Trump has such a poor understand of health, and how the human body works, that he believed these were solutions worth looking in to. That would be disturbing to hear from any adult. It’s truly horrifying to hear from the president of America.

Second, let us briefly, against all reason and evidence, accept this obvious lie. Let us temporarily accept the clearly false premise that Donald Trump was asking this question sarcastically, “just to see what would happen”. Is that a good use of time and energy? Is that what the leader of the nation should be doing, while Americans are stuck at home and businesses are closed, while hospitals are being overwhelmed, while people are dying?

Of course it is not. This presidency can’t end soon enough. I urge you to register to vote. I urge you to get your friends and family registered. And then I urge you to vote in November to make certain the Trump presidency ends on January 20th, 2021.


Footnotes:

  1. The video is archived here. ↩︎

Learn From Their Mistakes

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

At around 12 PM on Monday, April 13th, shoemaker Rothy’s sent an email to their customers which included this ill-conceived note:

An email noting that Rothy's is donating masks with every purchase of shoes.

You, a tremendously intelligent reader of this site, may already be able to guess what happened next. Just nine hours later, Rothy’s sent an apologetic follow-up:

An email apologizing, and removing the sales-related portion of their mask donations.

In 2020, it seems far too many people view apologizing and taking responsibility as a sign of weakness. President Trump is an egregious offender in this department. He sets a terrible example for the entire country, and indeed, the world. His recent pathetic statement regarding America’s failures at testing for COVID-19 was hardly the stuff of great leadership:

“I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump said defiantly, pointing to an unspecified “set of circumstances” and “rules, regulations and specifications from a different time.”

Compare that against the words of past presidents:

“I’m the responsible officer of the government,” John F. Kennedy said of the Bay of Pigs. “This happened on my watch,” Ronald Reagan said of Iran-Contra. “I take full responsibility for the federal government’s response,” George W. Bush said of Hurricane Katrina.

Rothy’s screwed up, a fact they were undoubtedly informed of by many customers. Within hours, they set about apologizing and making things right. That’s an example many companies, and many people, could learn to emulate.

Perhaps this incident might also serve as a more general warning to other marketers. Our already overfull inboxes are now absolutely bursting with COVID-19 related nonsense. Every day, innumerable emails assure us that so-and-so company is “there for us” in these “uncertain times”. If you’re a marketer, stop and think if your company actually needs to email your customers right now. You probably don’t, and ideally, you’d just stay quiet for a bit. If you do insist on emailing, at least take some time to think about your message. Maybe that way, you won’t need to send a follow-up apology email as well.

Wear a Mask

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

Let’s start with this: Right now, you should wear some sort of basic mask when you leave the house. You shouldn’t waste high-grade N95 respirators, which can be used by medical personnel. You should also continue to remain home as much as possible, keep washing your hands frequently, and stay six feet away from others when you do go out, even with a mask on. But when you’re out in public, a mask of any sort will be beneficial to both you and society.

You’ve likely seen that advice on wearing a mask has shifted over time in the United States, but since last week, the CDC has recommended it. One individual who’s been on the wrong side of nearly everything related to this pandemic has suggested he won’t wear a mask, noting nonsensically that it’s “just a recommendation”. This same gasbag has asked “What do you have to lose?” when suggesting taking a prescription drug with many serious side effects for an unproven off-label purpose. Such a person should clearly be ignored as much as possible.

Common sense tells us that wearing a covering over the mouth and nose will help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you have the virus and don’t know it, a mask will reduce the chances of you spreading it.1 It also reduces the odds of someone else transferring the virus to you. If you need more convincing, Maciej Cegłowski has you covered. If not, just remember that a mask protects others, it protects you, and hey, it’s something novel to do in a world that feels a bit stale.

Also, if you suddenly get the urge to rob a bank, you’ll already be dressed for the job.

Your humble author, wearing a face mask and looking not unlike a wild west bandit
At this point, I’m more likely to rob a barber, or at least put him to work.

As pictured above, I have winter running masks which I’ve found work well for daily use. Many people are using simple handkerchiefs and scarves, sewing their own masks, or digging out manufactured masks from home improvement projects. This is all excellent. Get on board!

Of course, businesses are jumping on the trend as well, in hopes of selling you a mask. Recently, I received an email from clothing retailer Jiffy Shirts, announcing their new cloth face covers available for sale (just $189 for 120 masks!). I was rather taken aback by the picture they used:

A man wearing a face mask with his ears sticking out in fairly ridiculous fashion
If that’s just how your ears are, well, I’m sorry my dude.

To be blunt, this is not a very appealing image. There seem to be two possibilities. Either these masks really pull your ears out in a most unattractive way, or Jiffy Shirts selected a model whose ears just stick out. Whichever the truth is, I think I’ll keep my $189, and keep using my running masks.

I hope you’ll all find suitable masks to wear in public as well. If you do purchase some of these (they have a 10 pack for $20), please send me some photos.


Footnotes:

  1. If you have the virus and do know it, you absolutely shouldn’t be going out at all. ↩︎

Train Wrecking

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

In California, a train engineer has admitted to deliberately running a train off the tracks near the USNS Mercy hospital ship, in an apparent attempt to…well, it’s not entirely clear. Almost certainly, it involves some sort of conspiracy theory though.

In his first interview with Los Angeles port police, Moreno acknowledged that he “did it,” saying he was suspicious of the Mercy and believed it had an alternative purpose related to COVID-19 or a government takeover, the affidavit states.

The Mercy was brought in to help treat non-COVID-19 patients, as a way of reducing the strain on the local health care system. Unfortunately, conspiracy theorizing has found tremendous new life in Donald Trump’s America, and it’s bad for us all.

On a related note, who knew “train wrecking” was a federal crime?

Avoid Touching Your Face, but Sometimes a Facepalm Is Required 

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci seems to be one of the only adults in the room when it comes to the White House’s pandemic response, and I’m not sure how he can stand it. His chat with Science magazine was enlightening.

This Was a Scripted Speech 

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

Last night, Donald Trump briefly addressed the nation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to accidentally airing the president of the United States muttering “Aww, fuck”, the speech contained a rather shocking number of errors and falsehood, which needed to be corrected immediately afterwards.

Rather than allaying fears, the speech proved the most clear evidence yet that Donald Trump is dangerously unqualified for his present job.

Impeached President Donald Trump 

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

Yesterday evening, the US House of Representatives voted in favor of two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. The articles of impeachment charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, in relation to his withholding crucial military aid from Ukraine to pressure the country for personal favors.

Despite a mountain of evidence, not a single registered Republican in the House had the backbone to put country over party. There’s little hope we’ll see better from the Senate, where a 67 senator supermajority would need to vote to remove Trump from office, and Republicans hold control. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated outright that he’s “not an impartial juror”, despite the fact that he must soon swear an oath to be impartial. It is likely Trump will be acquitted in 2020, and this nightmare will continue for at least one more year.

Nevertheless, this impeachment is important. Regardless of the outcome in the Senate, these articles of impeachment signal that illegal and unconscionable behavior by officials is dangerous for the perpetrator, and unacceptable to the system. I hope to be pleasantly surprised by a Senate that does what it clearly ought to do, but I doubt very highly that that’s what will happen. Still, at the very least, Donald Trump can now forever be referred to as “Impeached President Donald Trump”. It’s not nothing.

I Want Any Reality But This 

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

You likely already saw the viral photograph of Donal Trump’s ridiculous notes, shot just yesterday. Here it is again:


Not to be overlooked, there’s also a printed-out tweet under there, likely part of a stack of “reading matrial” for Trump’s helicopter ride.

Wired has a brief interview with Mark Wilson, who captured the likely-to-be-iconic shot.