Monday, June 4, 2018

The Death Toll in Puerto Rico Was 72x More Than Trump Said and Also He Wants to Pardon His Own Crimes

It isn't easy, these days, to recognize a real scandal when we see one.

We're all so busy watching the Trump Show on re-runs: reading and sharing hot takes on what female comedian crossed the line this time and how far (Roseanne Barr? Michelle Wolf? Samantha Bee? Kathy Griffith?) and the mysterious whereabouts of Melania(e) (Turning State's evidence? Getting plastic surgery? Filing for divorce? Dealing with Baron drama?) that we tend to miss the forest of authoritarianism for the trees of twitter.

So here's a real scandal--actually, two. Two separate scandals: (1) The Trump administration underreported the deaths in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria on 9/20/17 by 72 (seventy-two) times. His administration claimed 64 people died when in fact that number was likely closer to 4,600. Which, by the way, is about 2,000 more people than died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, and about 4,500 more than died in Hurricane Harvey in Houston the same month.

But Trump doesn't care, of course. Not because Puerto Ricans aren't American citizens, which of course they are. But because they are predominantly brown, poor, Spanish-speaking, and didn't help put Trump in office with their "support," "love," and "loyalty." 

This is as far as Trump's shallow accountability extends: to white people in red states--not the diverse nation and its territories that he purports to be leading and "Making Great Again." And even then, Trump's only use for his own supporters is as a deep well for his own narcissism supply: he drinks in their adoration as he continues to lie to their faces and perpetuate the most epic grift on American democracy in living memory.

Which leads me to unrelated scandal #2: Trump's ongoing treatment of the United States Constitution--the founding document of our democracy--like a dusty roll of one-ply Angel Soft toilet paper you'd pick up at a bodega for $1.47 on your walk home from the D train.

The power of the American executive is disproportionately strong relative to the other two branches of government, notwithstanding the checks and balances built into our system of government. Congress and the courts move slowly by design, and the executive is therefore entrusted with the country's welfare in ways the legislative and judicial branches of government are not, and can't necessarily catch up to. 

Up until now, the vulnerability of that imbalance hasn't been obvious because we have not had: (a) a President openly committing white collar crimes and treason while in office; (b) asserting his "absolute right" to "pardon himself" of those crimes; and (c) a Congress wholly unable and/or unwilling to do anything about it. (whether Trump actually can technically pardon himself is the subject of legal debate with no precedent in constitutional jurisprudence, due to the unprecedented nature of Trump's actions).

There is nothing to suggest that Trump is governed by any native sense of ethics, morals, character, principle, or rectitude. To the contrary: his entire volatile "thought" process (such as it is) pinballs back and forth from one idea to the next depending on one thing and one thing only: Donald Trump. Loyalty to Trump, amplification of Trump as rich and powerful, and the enrichment and promotion of the Trump brand. 

That's it. Full stop.

He doesn't give a single, solitary fuck about anyone else or what the constitution lets him do: he will threaten private citizens to keep them off of television where they can insult him and his family, malign his own justice department when he feels the heat drawing close, and pretend to his own supporters that he didn't promise them jobs in coal and a big, beautiful wall. 

Trump is a genuine, bona-fide socipath, or at best an anti-social personality
  • Disregard for society's laws
  • Violation of the physical or emotional rights of others
  • Lack of stability in job and home life
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Lack of remorse
  • Consistent irresponsibility
  • Recklessness, impulsivity
  • Deceitfulness
Each day, it becomes more and more obvious what a clear and present danger this individual presents to us all. We must NOT give up the fight to vote him out of office and prevent him from stripping America for parts before it's too late.

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