Living Large In Carson City: And The Hits Just Keep On Coming Edition

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend
The end of our elaborate plans
The end of ev’rything that stands
                    The end   The Doors 

Okay, so I am not as pessimistic as Jim Morrison and his fanciful cohorts of the LA music scene, but I will confess to having a certain number of questions about just what the hell is going on in the country. The pandemic is, of course, skewing reality into totalling uncharted waters with no end in sight. Trump is said to be considering winding down the coronavirus task force while the death toll is inching its way to 80,000 deaths. Now, Axos reports Trump and some senior administration officials are questioning whether those fatality numbers are accurate. They maintain the numbers are smaller while health officials believe the 80,000 deaths is probably much lower than it should be.

Now, America finds out that Trump is not only an inept commander in chief but totally lacks the interest needed to do his job. Who’s in charge one might ask? Knowing the president’s lack of trust in anyone but his closely knit family, the obvious choice (and one not too surprising) is son-in-law Jared Kushner. In an article in GQ titled “Jared Kushner Is the “De Facto President of the United States”, Luke Darby quoted Gabriel Sherman  from a story for Vanity Fair  who stated, 

“Jared is running everything. He’s the de facto president of the United States,” a former White House official told me. The previous chief of staff John Kelly, who’d marginalized Kushner, was long gone, and Mick Mulvaney, a virtual lame duck by that point, let Kushner run free. “Jared treats Mick like the help,” a prominent Republican said. GQ

Kushner was the guy who was going to bring peace to the Middle East and took up the mantel as savior of America from the pandemic crisis. Neither happened. On peace in the Middle East, he was widely criticized as little more than a dilettante with no experience and few ideas. The extent of his mishandling of the virus supply chain is still being investigated, but it is safe to say that his cadre of frat boy gofers at his leadership bungled everything while helping out people who Kushner favored. Did anyone vote for Kushner for president?

Recently, Trump barred Dr. Anthony Fauci director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases from testifying before House panels investigating the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic saying, “The House is set up. The House is a bunch of Trump Haters.” Instead, Fauci will testify in the more friendly Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Trump went on to say no corona task force members will appear before the House without the permission of newly installed House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Considering the Constitution sets up the House as one of the important oversight entities that is meant to rein in out of control executive branch actions, it begs the question, “Who will?” Mitch McConnell? I don’t think so.

Today, word came that Fauci and two other prominent doctors from the coronavirus task force have been exposed to someone who had the virus and will be in self quarantine for the next two weeks. Yesterday, the administration revealed that Stephen Millers wife has been tested positive for the virus. This is important because she is the vice president’s press secretary.  Also, one of Trump’s valets also tested positive. Part of his duties was serving the president his meals. So, now, the virus has entered the inner sanctum of the White House, a virus that Trump said would magically go away with a few days back at the beginning. California marks week eight of the original stay at home order. And so it goes.

Trump’s earlier call to shut down the coronavirus task force received such a public outcry that Trump saw a chance to use its popularity and now says the task force will transform into guiding the nation back to work. Germany, South Korea and China have what appears to be a second wave of confirmed cases of the virus as they too have tried to reopen their economy. It would be nice to have someone in the president’s chair who did not cater to the forces of capitalism and big corporation that are surely going to make things worse, but rather, listens to health experts and what can be see as proof rather than speculation.

The one thing that is becoming clearer as each day passes is that the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic has been bungled from the get go. His inability to grasp the seriousness of the problem has been breathtaking. His administration is made up of mindless sycophants who’s only motive is to keep their jobs. This means, of course, kowtowing to Trump’s every whim and not asking the hard questions or give accurate scientifically based information that would help mitigate the pandemic to some degree.

And that’s not all. Attorney Bill Barr took the unprecedented step Friday to throw out the case against Michael Flynn. Flynn admitted not once, but twice that he had lied the FBI about his conversations with Russian officials before withdrawing his pleas. If there was any doubt that Barr is an evil force in the administration, there is little doubt now that he is the head asskisser in support of Trump and the politicalization of the Justice Department. In a story in USAToday written by Savannah Berhmann titled “Michael Flynn: What we know about Trump’s former national security adviser”, Behrmann quotes Rep. Adam Schiff from California as saying,

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, said the Flynn decision “does not exonerate” Flynn and rather “incriminates” Attorney General William Barr, adding that this is “the worst politicization of the Justice Department in its history.” USAToday

Finally, in an effort to reframe the news as his polling numbers plummet, Trump and his minions are pushing the false narrative that China developed the coronavirus in a lab. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is so outfront with this lie that world leaders and his own staff are angry and upset that an official of his stature would would be party to spreading a demonstrably false narrative. Leaders around the world seem to have their feet more firmly planted on the ground than the yahoo leader of the State Department. At a time when cooperation, not false controversy, should be the goal of all world leaders, Trump seems to see his reelection prospects more important than making “big boy” decisions for the good of, not only America, but the world. But we already knew that. Maybe Morrison and the Doors were on to something.

Wacko of the week

In First Briefing, Trump’s Press Secretary Pledges Not to Lie 


Living Large In Carson City: America Ain’t Got Time for That

White House economic adviser: People don’t care about Trump corruption


When asked in an interview hosted by NPR’s Steve Inskeep on May 29 about the seemingly clear case of Donald Trump and his family profiting from doing the business of the country, Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, was both a little perturbed and short with his answer.

I think it’s unfortunate when anybody takes the discussion in that direction,” Navarro said. “I think the American people would rather focus on how to stop China from taking the seed corn of our future prosperity, so that’s what I’m focused on. Can we stay on that, sir?

A little unfortunate? Maybe, but put that aside for the moment. I do agree with Navarro that it is important to focus on getting the best terms when negotiating trade deals with all the countries America does business with around the world. China needs to be held to a standard that benefits all parties as much as feasibly possible. We have a trade deficit with China, and it truly is a bad deal for the United States. It should be a priority to level the playing field where everyone prospers, and in the case of China, stops them for the irksome practice of stealing intellectual property from their trading partners.

Getting back to the “a little unfortunate” allusion, it is mind boggling how Trump sycophants sidestep questions about obvious greed-fueled corruption in the way these people do business. The article covering the NPR interview by Aaron Rupar of goes on to examine the controversy of the Chinese company ZTE that was hit with severe penalties for doing business with Iran and North Korea contrary to America’s sanctions on those countries.

When a Chinese state-owned construction company invested $500 million in a Trump- branded property in Indonesia, the Orange One suddenly became concerned with the high unemployment that the penalties on ZTE would create for the Chinese economy. In a bizarre turn the other cheek moment, Trump found it in his heart to forgive ZTE, despite a warning from one of his own newly installed cabinet members and the military that ZTE was a national security threat, but wait, it gets better.


PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 25: Ivanka Trump attends the 4-man Boblseigh on day sixteen of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Olympic Sliding Centre on February 25, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Ivanka Trump is on a four-day visit to South Korea to attend the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Photo by Eric Gaillard-Pool/Getty Images)Getty Images

Tied into the mix is Trump’s daughter, Ivanka. Shortly, before Trump found it in his heart to forgive ZTE their transgressions, Ivanka secured seven trademark deals from the Chinese government that will undoubtedly line her pockets for years to come. She had already been awarded three trademarks after dining with the Chinese president last year. All toll, the young Ms. Trump has received 34 trademark deals since her dad took office. Now, maybe, just maybe, Ivanka is a skilled business woman and made these deals on her own. While she has supposedly put her business dealings on hold, it seems a little odd that the Chinese government is singling her out of all the businesses in the world to heap these golden eggs on her without regard to her father’s vaunted position in Chinese and America’s relationship.

But I digress . . .

My issue is with Navarro and his dismissal of concerns that the Trump clan is not acting on the up and up despite the appearance of something underhanded going on in the Trump administration. He may believe people really don’t care what the president does in his private businesses dealings, or as Rupar put it,

Navarro did not try and reassure people that Trump is actually acting in the national interest. Instead, he suggested that the question itself is offensive, and argued that people have more important things to worry about.

When I read that comment the first time, I actually gasped, and I am normally not a gasper. The sheer audacity of someone in Navarro’s position trying to turn the table on the American people and imply it is “offensive” to question, not just the Trumps, but any public official dealing in corrupt acts is anathema to all that is right and holy in this country.

Is this the new reality in America today where a cabal of rich white people are above the law? The list is endless from Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency, an oxymoronic title under Pruitt’s watch, to Ryan Zinke at the Department of Interior, to Tom Price at Health and Human Services (fired), to Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development, to Steven Mnuchin at Treasury (think solar eclipse escapade), to Mike Mulvaney director of Office and Budget (he’s the one who told lobbyists to pay to play), and on and on. These people don’t even reflect the worst of the worst (Okay maybe Pruitt does), but this leaves out Betsy DeVos and Wilbur Ross who have their own ethical challenges.

People don’t care about Trump’s corruption? I think they do. The only real issue of import to the American people, our democracy, and the integrity of the United States depends on driving these criminals out of office at the first chance the voting booths offers. What is offensive is that a member of the president’s entourage would have the balls to say something this offensive in public and think it was okay.

It’s not.