This is not Reality TV. This is reality.
Donald Trump, the most powerful man in the world, has become infected with a deadly virus. He has spent the weekend receiving an emergency medical regimen injecting him with more drugs than an 80s rock star. These include steroids, widely known for their mood-altering behavior.
Trump has clearly demanded that his doctors lie to the nation and world about his treatment, which they have done. He just ordered up America’s first-ever photo-op motorcade ride– empirically endangering the health and lives of Secret Service officers– in a macabre display that made pen pal Kim Jong Un blush. Maybe this is just Trump being Trump, but we truly don’t know that for certain. So, we wait.
As a script, it sounds rather intriguing. In real life, it is terrifying. It’s one thing to have a psychotic narcissist in the White House. It’s another to have him suffering from an unpredictable illness, under the influence of an untested mixture of medications. Worse, no one around Trump seems capable of protecting him from himself, in turn placing the entire human race in jeopardy.
So, the nation turns its lonely eyes to Mike Pence? Or the merry band of miscreants and sycophants in Trump’s inner circle and Cabinet? Good luck with that.
These are truly uncharted waters in the first week of October in the year 2020. The moment at hand renders mundane the first week of October in the year 2016, which featured the release of The Donald’s Access Hollywood tapes and the ensuing WikiLeaks dump of stolen emails from his challenger’s presidential campaign.
We’re all numbed to 24/7 news cycles in the year 2020 that routinely include two or three breaking news stories in a week that would be the Story of the Year, in any other year. It is seriously hard for people to process the sensory overload.
Perhaps in the next day, Trump will return triumphantly to the White House and things will return to abnormal, but at a level to which Americans are accustomed. Maybe by this time next week, the eerie motorcade thing will have become ancient history as seamlessly as the worst presidential debate in history did, some five long days ago.
In case it doesn’t work out so well, there’s Amendment 25 to the U.S. Constitution, entitled “Presidential Disability and Succession.” Hopefully, the nation will not need to familiarize itself with its language–most notably Section 4 on the involuntary transfer of power–but here it is: https://bit.ly/3ipBwfS.
To understand the gravity of this moment, it’s worth “reading the transcript,” as they say, of the words today of one Dr. Sean Conley, who at least appears in charge–such that it is–of Trump’s treatment as White House physician. Conley, who the Washington Post reports today “this spring confided to workers that he was laboring under intense personal stress in his job as White House physician,” seemed to show as much today.
Conley was confronted about having blatantly misled the public about the severity of Trump’s condition so egregiously that he had been publicly fact-checked–albeit on background–by none other than White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. If you have to get fact-checked by Meadows, you are one lying, dog-faced pony soldier, or worse.
After Conley gave a rosy report Saturday morning that effectively said there was really nothing to see here about Trump’s little bout with the flu, Meadows revealed that the White House had had grave concerns that Conley’s patient was in a heap of trouble when forced to depart to Walter Reed Hospital.
Conley had to admit that he had scandalously failed to reveal–one would think or orders of the commander-in-chief–that his presidential patient had needed supplemental oxygen, at least twice. And that he was being treated with a steroid reserved for severely ill coronavirus patients.
Conley’s unedited words speak for themselves:
“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team the president, through the course of illness has had. I didn’t want to give any information that might uh, steer, the course of illness, uh, in another direction and in doing came off, you know. Like we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true…the fact of the matter is that he’s doing really well.”
Sorry, but you lost us at the parts about steering the course of illness in another direction–COVID-19 apparently having grown quite sensitive to criticism–and then the accidental-yet-telling reference to how you hadn’t “necessarily” been trying to hide something.
It’s a little hard to believe, in this context, that the American public should take comfort that Trump is “doing really well.” But as badly as the nation needs to rid itself of the worst president in its history, let’s hope that’s the case.
We don’t want to see this man on steroids.
REVEALED: Far-right extremists are circulating plans to lock down Arizona streets if Trump is re-elected
On Saturday, The Arizona Republic reported that far-right paramilitary groups are circulating plans to lock down neighborhoods in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area in the event that President Donald Trump is re-elected, supposedly to police left-wing protesters.
"In Arizona, the head of the Prescott-area chapter of the Oath Keepers group, which recruits military and law enforcement officers, has warned residents to be prepared to protect their neighborhoods from feared extreme left-wing protesters who would be upset should President Donald Trump be re-elected," reported Richard Ruelas. "Part of that the pro-Trump group'splan involved closing streets and assigning monitors to control access, according to a planning document shared with The Republic."
America’s crimes against humanity aren’t on the ballot this year — but they should be
The 2020 presidential election is a life-and-death decision for thousands of people vulnerable to COVID-19, for a globe under the assault from the climate crisis, and for the future of American democracy. And yet for all the urgency, the political campaign still suffers under the weight and stench of bullshit.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Philosopher Harry Frankfurt warns in his bestselling pamphlet "On Bullshit" that "bullshit" is more injurious than the blatant lie. One reason among many is that bullshit blurs the line between reality and fiction, offering a manipulative incorporation of truth to strengthen its own capacity to persuade. Absolute falsity, in contrast, is obvious to anyone with minimal awareness of the facts. When the Trump administration recently declared that one of its grand achievements was "ending the pandemic," most people laughed in disbelief. This is a lie fit for consumption only from inhabitants of a collective similar to the Rev. Jim Jones' notorious People's Temple settlement in Guyana.
Conservatives are hopping mad that their clumsy Hunter Biden smear is a flop
Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
In 2016, Steve Bannon did an amazing job rolling out the Clinton Foundation nontroversy. He gave The New York Times and CNN early access to Peter Schweizer's book, Clinton Cash, and the outlets gave it mainstream credibility. Later, when the Uranium One story was thoroughly debunked, it didn't matter. The foundation remained under a pall of fuzzy suspicions.