Previous “This Week in Trump” posts

Just Stay in Your Bunker 

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

You should wear a mask. You should wear a mask when you leave the house, you should wear a mask while you’re donating platelets, you should wear a mask when you’re wearing Rothy’s, and you should obviously wear a mask when you’re visiting the Mayo Clinic.

Another time you should wear a mask is when you’re touring a factory making sterile swabs for use in detecting COVID-19. As you can surely guess, Donald Trump chose not to do so when he visited Maine’s Puritan Medical Products last Friday.

“The running of the factory machines is very limited today and will only occur when the president is touring the facility floor,” Virginia Templet, the company’s marketing manager told USA TODAY in response to questions about the event. “Swabs produced during that time will be discarded.”

The above statement is obviously an attempt to downplay the problem here, but even a small number of wasted swabs is too many. The underlying arrogance of Trump’s refusal to wear a mask in even the most straightforward of situations really shouldn’t be glossed over. However, the fact that the machines ran in a very limited capacity on the day of Trump’s tour is also a major problem, given this:

Nearly a third of Maine nursing homes reported last month they had no nasal swabs to collect specimens, the Portland Press Herald reported. Nearly 61% of those that responded to a Maine Medical Directors Association survey said they had seven or fewer at their disposal.

National shortages of swabs was part of what severely hampered early coronavirus testing efforts…Puritan, which received millions of dollars from the federal government to double production, is one of only two companies that make the kind of swabs needed in coronavirus testing.

Despite major shortages of testing swabs, the president’s actions disrupted one of the only active factories making this critical product, leaving workers play-acting instead. In any sane world, this would be a major scandal. In 2020, and Trump’s America, it’s just a scantily reported story garnering little attention as we lurch to the next massive screwup from this ill-equipped administration.


Voting Information: There are many things we can do to end the Trump presidency, but it all starts with voting. Visit https://vote.gov to register to vote, or to check your registration status. Once you’ve done that, get your friends and family registered next.

This Is What She Does Now 

Friday, June 5th, 2020

On Monday night, Reverend Gini Gerbasi was among those who were forced away from St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square. Her account of the shameful events is well worth reading.

Additionally, while I trust my disgust was obvious, my previous post about Trump’s church stunt was sardonic. I want to be sure my feelings are not mistaken in any way. There is absolutely nothing funny about the way excessive force was used, at the behest of the president, and against peaceful protestors striving toward an end to police brutality, in order to make this hollow photo op possible. In one word, it is a disgrace. The same word neatly sums up Donald Trump himself.

The Church Stunt

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

By now, you’ve likely seen photographs or even video of Donald Trump’s Monday night church stunt. In short, the world’s least likely Christian, a twice-divorced admitted sexual assailant who states that he has never asked God for forgiveness, wasted government resources in an attempt to wash away the fact that he’d spent part of the previous weekend hiding in a secure bunker, by having his picture taken in front of St. John’s Church. I won’t bother to reproduce one of the photographs here, because even that is giving them what they want, but it is exactly as stupid and empty as it sounds.

I found this publicity stunt to be deeply offensive, though not because I am at all religious. Instead, I am offended at how goddamned incompetently it was executed. After nearly four years of the hellish Trump administration, I certainly don’t expect any better. Still, the myriad ways in which this was bungled are remarkable. It is at least slightly uplifting to spell them out, though, so let’s do that!

Many of the details below come from the Washington Post’s timeline, but corroborating sources are abundantly available.

Minimal Traveling

Despite the fact that the President can go pretty much anywhere he wants in America, these lazy monsters opted to go the minimal distance possible, to the absolute nearest church to the White House. Yes, this church was damaged during Sunday night’s protests, but that fact wasn’t even acknowledged. The only way they could have exerted less effort to get their staged photograph is if they’d printed a picture of a church and taped it to a wall in the White House.

Maximal Tear Gas

Despite its proximity to the White House, to get access to this church, the administration decided they needed to order authorities to clear out peaceful protestors from Lafayette Square. Seemingly under noxious bullfrog Bill Barr’s direction, flash-bangs were set off and tear gas was deployed against both protestors and church officials. Apparently, no one considered the optics on that.

Too Early For The Curfew

Washington, D.C. had a curfew in effect Monday night, beginning at 7 PM. At that point, authorities would have had at least a paper-thin justification to clear people out. And yet, the clearing out instead began just after 6:30 PM, well ahead of the curfew. Not content with being merely incompetent, the team had to be impatient as well.

A Lack of Substance

As he finished his short speech in the White House’s Rose Garden, Trump declared “I’m going to pay my respects to a very, very special place”. At that point, Trump and his toadies toddled over to St. John’s. However, the president didn’t permit a few pictures to be captured as he went inside to pray, because he did not go inside to pray. Nor did photographers capture him as he conferred with church leaders, as he didn’t do that either.

Instead, he simply stood in front of the church as pictures were taken. It should be expressly stated, this was not an event which happened to offer a photo op. Instead, it was nothing but the nakedly opportunistic photo op itself. There was no event, and there certainly was no respect to the church, which served solely as a backdrop.

Oh For The Love Of God, Just Lie!

As Trump stood awkwardly in front of his sacrilegious backdrop, he answered a few questions. That led to this hilarious exchange:

“Is that your Bible?”

“It’s a Bible.”.

The president has been a liar his entire life, and he hasn’t slowed the pace of lies during his time in office. Why was this the time he opted to make a truthful statement? Just lie! And did no one think that question might come up? Did they not spend even just a few minutes rehearsing Q&A? Apparently not.

An Awkward Prop

In addition to not rehearsing for possible questions, it’s clear Trump didn’t even practice holding a Bible. Frankly, it like he’s never held a book before. The entire event was about getting a picture holding a Bible in front of a church. Wouldn’t it have made sense to spend just 90 seconds determining how he’d pose?

How did they let this happen?

It would not be unreasonable for you to wonder about how Trump’s team let all this happen. How did no one stop to think about any of the above? While Trump has shown himself to be a fool of limitless vacuity, surely others could have foreseen the backlash this event would cause, if they possessed even a modicum of foresight. And yet, they do not, so they did not.

That’s a natural result of Trump’s stated M.O, which is literally to surround himself with people less intelligent than he is. That would be a bad idea for even a genius, and it’s an irredeemable disaster for this witless dunderhead. It’s also a disaster for America, and the world. This stunt is simply the latest sad example of that.


Voting Information: There are many things we can do to end the Trump presidency, but it all starts with voting. Visit https://vote.gov to register to vote, or to check your registration status. Then, get your friends and family registered.

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.