By the time you read this we will most likely have 80,000 American deaths attributed to the coronavirus (that number is a severe undercount). The American justice system has problems and the current regime is exacerbating them. There has long been a disparity between the prosecution and punishment for white collar and other crimes. It is now to the point that Trump connected or condoned white collar crime goes unpunished. Unemployment is officially at Great Depression levels and increasing. If that weren’t bad enough we know the reporting system is such that the numbers do not include all the unemployed many of whom have not been able to access an overwhelmed system. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, called his chamber back into session last week not to address any of those problems but to push often unqualified Trump nominees through. Yes, it’s that bad and come along with me as I make another, what will prove to be incomplete, attempt to catchup.
I’ll make a not so bold prediction that before May is in the rearview mirror Trump will up his coronavirus death toll prediction which is now at 100,000. In reality we are there now but even in the incomplete official total we will most likely reach that mark before May 31st.
Among the nominations Massacre Mitch called the Senate back into session to consider are those of Justin Walker and John Ratcliffe. Walker is nominated to fill a not yet vacant spot on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. That court is generally considered the “AAA farm club” of the Supreme Court. In October of 2019 McConnell got Walker confirmed (by a party line vote) to a federal judgeship despite the American Bar Association rating him, “Not qualified”. You have to either believe that he learned a lot in a few months of something stinks. Hint: I’m holding my nose.
John Ratcliffe appeared before Richard “Bank Run” Burr’s Senate Intelligence Committee as the DNI nominee. If you are thinking he withdrew his name a few months ago because of question marks in his resume and being unqualified for the position you are correct.
Walker’s main qualification is that McConnell likes him. In Ratcliffe’s case just swap Trump for McConnell and it’s the same story. Since all McConnell needs for confirmation is a majority vote I predict both will be confirmed. At least we get rid of Ratcliffe when Trump exits; Walker is in his 30’s and theoretically will be around for decades. What damage two Dons can do!
On the justice front, AG/Trump Consigliere Bill Barr announced the Justice Department was dropping all charges against Michael Flynn. Flynn is a Trump favorite and figuratively knows where a lot of bodies are buried. It is in Trump’s best interest that he be placated and protected. It will be interesting to see how the presiding judge handles this. Flynn has already pled guilty to a plethora of crimes that would land you or me in federal prison for an extended stay.
The official unemployment number is 14.7%. If you do a decent job of analyzing other related data the real rate has to be in the 20% neighborhood. I think we have crossed over from the Trump Recession to the Trump Depression. The catalyst (not the entire cause) is the coronavirus pandemic. With the premature opening of several states’ economies a spike is inevitable. Despite right wing mythology and Republican happy talk that will have to further depress consumer demand and actually prolongs our current battle with the disease. The economy will get worse before it gets better and we are a long way from the end of this tunnel.
To a large degree Americans are doing a good job of social distancing, protecting themselves and their neighbors in the process. There is a thankfully small element causing problems that will literally kill others. In addition to inane protests, there have been several incidents around the country of violent confrontations over issues like keeping bars closed and wearing masks in public. All I can do is go back to the words of my conservative Republican neighbor (and best friend in the neighborhood), “Common sense ain’t all that common.”
Not only is the Trump administration incapable of protecting the citizens, it appears they are too incompetent or stupid to protect themselves. Two White House staffers in close contact to both Trump and Vice President Pence tested positive last week. Both Trump and Pence continue to make public appearance sans masks. I could go a lot further here and in multiple directions but I’ll leave that to you to ponder.
For those of you who doubt the racist element in the Trump/Republican/right wing reaction to the coronavirus I offer the “wisdom” of Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack. During the oral arguments in a Tuesday hearing on social distancing regulations she interrupted counsel who was presenting infection numbers to state, “These were due to the meatpacking though.…It wasn’t just the regular folks in Brown County.” I guess she meant it didn’t count because it was “those people”.
Oh, by the way it appears Trump had his Bay of Pigs moment with a botched (and far from brilliant) attempt to invade Venezuela. You may not have heard of this event because it’s so difficult to get much attention on the news these days. For those of us of a certain age we remember that the Bay of Pigs was the biggest scandal of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. In the Trump administration its present day counterpart has trouble getting coverage.
There is more but I’m running out of space. Before I close, to all those to whom it is applicable, Happy Mothers’ Day!
I’m sure a lot of people feel I’m getting a bit dramatic and hyperbolic when I warn of evil deeds I expect this fall. There is plenty of evidence to expect enhanced election interference and voter suppression. Two books come to mind when reflecting on Trump’s America: Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 book It Can’t Happen Here and Phillip Roth’s 2004 effort The Plot Against America. It’s happening and only YOU can stop it. Don’t let the forces of evil stop you from voting.
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