What Happened to Draining the Swamp?

Quick… What’s the “swampiest” political move you can think of?

If you answered, “Making sure your cronies don’t pay for their crimes,” you’re right.

Using your elective office for personal gain is pretty swampy. So is appointing your unqualified buddies to high office. But getting your cronies off scot-free after they’ve committed crimes? That takes swampy balls the size of watermelons.

Which has got to make Donald Trump the King of Swamp Monsters.

He Came to Drain the Swamp

In December 2016, Trump tweeted, “Someone incorrectly stated that the phrase ‘DRAIN THE SWAMP’ was no longer being used by me. Actually, we will always be trying to DTS.”

And that’s one of the few truths I can find among Trumps many tweets and quotes. He used the phrase in June 2020 to push for Sen. David Purdue’s reelection. Trump needs Purdue, he said, to help Drain the Swamp and Make America Great Again.

Side note: Well over than three years after becoming president, Trump admits he has neither drained the swamp nor made America great again. Sounds to me he’s admitting he’s failed. But, moving on…

In February 2020, Trump tweeted, “DRAIN THE SWAMP! We want bad people out of our government!”

Wait a minute. This guy took office in January 2017. Three years after taking the reins – and installing his hand-picked team at the head of every executive branch… Three years after taking office with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress… Three years after launching an unprecedented campaign to install friendly judges…

He’s still whining about draining the swamp?

Again, that sounds like failure to me. But here’s why he’s had such a hard time…

Bad Actors Don’t Make for Good Government

Back in February 2018 – barely a year after Trump took office – CNBC reported on his scandal-plagued administration. At that point, eight of Trump’s cabinet-level officials were already implicated in scandals.

  • Health and Human Services head Tom Price spent $900,000 of taxpayers’ money for trips on private or military jets… when commercial aircraft could have served the purpose.

 

  • David Shulkin, the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, made a rather shady trip to Europe. To begin with, Shulkin improperly charged his wife’s travel expenses to taxpayers. He also allowed staff to handle disallowed personal travel details. And wrongly accepted tickets to a sporting event

 

  • Environmental Protection Agency secretary Scott Pruitt also came under fire for travel. CNBC points out Pruitt improperly flew first class – at a substantial cost to taxpayers. Over a 3-month period, Pruitt was absent from his office 46% of the time.

 

  • Ben Carson? Trump’s head of Housing and Urban Development was accused of nepotism. His wife’s firm even “won” a $485,000 government contract in an unusual no-bid situation.

 

  • Ryan Zinke? The former Interior Department secretary had a little travel problem. He charge the government $12,735 for one trip from Las Vegas to Montana. The department inspector general (IG) complained that Zinke failed to keep complete records of his travel.

 

  • Steve Mnuchin? His use of military jets instead of commercial flights was questioned by Treasury’s IG. Not the least of his offenses: Charging taxpayers for his wife’s travel to Fort Knox.

 

I could go on… but what’s the point?

Wilbur Ross sleeps through meetings. Rick Perry didn’t know the Department of Energy was responsible for the nation’s nuclear weapons. Betsy DeVos knows almost nothing about education. Ad infinitum.

The point is, you can’t “drain the swamp” by putting crooked, greedy, or ignorant people in positions of power.

Which is exactly what Trump has done. To your detriment.

So how do you fight back?

Should We Really Drain the Swamp?

First, let’s think about swamps. They’re not bad places at all. In fact, swamps support healthy ecosystems around the Earth. The problem with swamps is when someone introduces toxins… which then leak out into other ecosystems.

The key isn’t to drain swamps – which destroys ecosystems. It’s to keep out the toxins.

Swamps are healthy ecosystems. Ecosystems that promote a healthy environment. Draining swamps leads to the death of healthy ecosystems.

Only short-sighted, destructive people say, “Drain the swamp,” without considering the consequences.

But that’s the point of the Trump administration. They want to drain the swamp… regardless of the consequences. Because they see short-term gain.

But the swamp is where countless creatures start their lives. The “swamp” is the primordial ooze of Democracy. And the antithesis of Trump’s fascist goals.

Should we drain the swamp? Or should we rid it of the toxic ooze that threatens its very existence? Maybe we should go with Mother Nature.

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“Drain the Swamp,” Trump Twitter Archive. Jul 11, 2020.

Mangan, D., “Trump’s Cabinet has been rocked by a number of ethics scandals — here’s a complete guide,” CNBC. Feb 16, 2018.

Donald Trump, the “Chinese” Virus, and the Future of America

We all saw the picture of President Trump’s speech. A Washington Postphotographer snapped a frame of Trump’s prepared speech. And there it was: The word “Corona” was crossed out – with Trump’s beloved “Sharpie” – and replaced with “Chinese.”

Here he was again… assigning blame and, at the same time, tossing a little racism in the mix for his base. Is it any wonder we’ve seen a sharp uptick in racist acts against Asians? Of course, Trump has an excuse. “That’s where it originated,” he says.

But when he talks about H1N1, he doesn’t call it “the American virus.” Even though it was first identified here. I wonder how the President would feel if all the other countries called H1N1 “the American virus.” Can you imagine him remaining calm? I can’t.

But here we are, facing a deadly pandemic with our national response depending on the moods of a paranoid narcissist. Who seems comfortable with a little racism, to boot.

So, what’s really happening here? Let’s look at the timeline.

Donald Trump vs. COVID-19

When asked how he’d rate his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Trump was quick to respond.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job…” was his immediate response.

But here’s how Trump’s darling – Fox News – described it…

“President Trump on Monday gave his administration high marks for its response to the coronavirus,” Fox wrote, “despite criticisms for a shortage of testing kits and for his downplaying the severity of the pandemic.”

Even Trump’s most ardent cheer squad had to hedge its comments. Because – let’s face it – the White House response hasn’t been stellar.

In fact, the President tried to downplay the severity of the pandemic for weeks. And thus delayed our nation’s response. In the end, this could cost thousands of lives.

Most of Trump’s moves since then have followed suit: Delaying action that could slow the spread and save lives.

And making Trump’s response of “I’d rate it a 10” accurate only if it were on a scale of 1 – 100.

Trump Did Something Right… Almost. Then…

On Jan 31, Trump blocked entrance to the U.S. for most people who’d traveled to most of China in the last 14 days. But this didn’t apply to Macau or Hong Kong… or to U.S. citizens or lawful residents.

With these gaping exceptions, Trump made the only smart move he’d make for weeks. Weeks? His comments to downplay the severity date back to at least Jan 22.

On Feb 2 – in spite of a quiet move by HHS Secretary Alex Azar to declare the novel coronavirus a public health emergency – Trump tells Fox’s Sean Hannity, “Well, we pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

On Feb 24, Trump asked for more than $1.75 billion in new and moved funding to fight the coronavirus threat. At the same time, Trump tweeted, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

By Feb 25, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) was saying a coronavirus pandemic wasn’t a matter of if, but of when. At the same time, Mitt Romney – a Republican – said he was disappointed the administration wasn’t doing more to prepare.

On the same day, Trump tweeted, “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus…” On the 28th, he blamed the spread of coronavirus on the Democrats.

On March 5, Trump claimed partial victory. He compared U.S. numbers to those of other countries. And blamed “MSNDC” for publishing fake news.

On March 9, Trump tried to compare seasonal flu with COVID-19. We don’t shut down over the seasonal flu, he argued… so why should we over this novel coronavirus?

On March 10, Trump promised tests people couldn’t get. On the same day, he demanded more work on the wall to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The only problem? Cases were far more widespread in the U.S. than in Mexico.

On the 11th, he announced “payroll tax relief” and blamed the Democrats for slowing response. (In spite of the fact that payroll tax relief largely benefits employers.)

March 12 found Trump boasting about 4 million test kits soon to be available. “If you go to the right agency,” he claimed, “if you go to the right area, you get the test.”

On March 13 – more than seven weeks after COVID-19 arrived in the U.S.  – Trump declared a public health emergency. Meanwhile, the disease had spread widely.

March 17: Trump called for people to work at home, limit travel, and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

On March 23, Trump tweeted, “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself…” Breitbart News said Trump was ready to start relaxing coronavirus restrictions.

On the 24th, he told America he’d “… love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go by Easter.”

Of course, Trump has since reversed himself on this… along with pretty much everything else he’s said about the COVID-19 virus.

But that’s the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Trump Ignored Specific Warnings

Trump claims nobody could have known such a pandemic could arise. But the Obama administration warned him of just such a threat during the transition.

In those days, the outgoing president’s team walked Trump’s incoming team through exactly the situation we face now. Along with all the necessary steps to take to defeat it.

Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, downplayed the exercise. “There’s no briefing,” Spicer said, “that can prepare you for a worldwide pandemic.” At least two Trump cabinet members – Wilber Ross and Rick Perry – attended the exercise.

Yup. Nobody could have foreseen exactly what you were warned about.

Then in January and February of 2020, the Trump administration was warned of the severity – and potential – of the coronavirus pandemic. By their own national security team. They chose to ignore those warnings.

Trump’s own intelligence agencies were warning of the severity of COVID-19. And Trump chose to ignore the warnings.

According to one Trump administration official, “Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were – they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it.”

Could the U.S. have reacted more quickly? It’s clear the answer is yes. Could we have saved lives? Unquestionably. Was the Trump administration part of the problem? That’s pretty hard to deny.

Should we give a second term to a man who deliberately and actively led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds – if not thousands – of Americans?

Not in our wildest dreams.

Donald Trump’s actions – or lack thereof – clearly led to many deaths. He should not be rewarded for this travesty. He should be relegated to the dumpster of history… A fate he richly deserves.

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Sources:

Casiano, L., “Trump, asked about coronavirus response, gives himself a 10 out of 10,” Fox News. Mar 16, 2020.

Dilanian, K., et al, “Timeline: Trump administration’s response to coronavirus,” NBC News. March 17, 2020.

Spiering, C., “Donald Trump on Coronavirus Restrictions: ‘We Cannot Let the Cure Be Worse than the Problem’,” Breitbart News. Mar 23, 2020.

Greenberg, J., “President Donald Trump delivers a prime-time address to the nation about the coronavirus from the Oval Office on March 11,” Politifact(dot)com. March 20, 2020.

Toosi, N., et. Al., “Before Trump’s inauguration, a warning: ‘The worst influenza pandemic since 1918’,” Politico(dot)com. Mar 16, 2020.

Harris, S., et al, “U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic,” MSN(dot)com. Mar 22, 2020.

Out of Step… Out of Touch… Out of Excuses

President Trump wasn’t able to rally enough support to build his southern border wall when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. So, once Democrats took control of the House, he suddenly couldn’t live without it.

Trump’s allies and apologists made light of the predicament of some 800,000 federal workers who were left wondering how they’d feed their families… pay their mortgages… or meet other financial obligations.

This all points to a Republican Party that’s out of step with America… out of touch with the average voter… and out of excuses for such bizarre behavior.

Just listen to what Trump’s apologists were saying…

“A Little Pain”

Want to know how out of touch Trump’s allies are? Just listen to his daughter-in-law. Speaking to furloughed federal workers, Lara Trump said, “… this is so much bigger than any one person. It is a little bit of pain, but it’s going to be for the future of our country.”

“A little bit of pain.” To a Trump, that’s apparently what losing your home is. Or scraping to feed your family. As you teeter on the brink of losing healthcare. Do you think Lara Trump might be just a little out of touch with reality?

You’d have to be to think Trump’s wall is more important than the food on the table and roof over the heads of 800,000 federal workers and their families.

The numbers show most undocumented aliens arrive here with valid visas… and simply overstay them. And most drugs coming through the southern border pass through legal, established checkpoints.

Of course, none of the Trump children will feel the pinch of mommy and daddy having to choose between paying the mortgage and buying food.

And Lara Trump is hardly alone.

“I Don’t Really Quite Understand Why”

Trump’s Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, weighed in on the crisis, too. Of federal workers going to homeless shelters for food, Ross said, “Well, I know they are… and I don’t really quite understand why.”

Ross’s solution to no paychecks? Federal workers should just borrow against future earnings. By the way, the Commerce Department’s credit union currently charges almost 9% interest.

Food bank vs. 9% interest? If you don’t understand that, you’re hopeless. Cut any worker’s pay by 9% and tell them it won’t be a problem.

Trump tried to defend Ross’s words. Ross, he said, just didn’t express himself well. He meant to point out how local banks and grocery stores would “work with” furloughed workers. Are these the same grocery stores Trump thinks demand a photo ID before they’ll sell you a box of cereal?

Ross – who has $700 million in assets – hardly has to worry about losing a paycheck. And neither does Lara Trump, whose husband earns millions from the Trump organization.

Now, just weeks after the longest partial shutdown In U.S. history, Trump appears poised to hold 800,000 federal workers hostage yet again. Even before some federal workers have been paid for the last shutdown.

Barring that, he’s threatened to declare a non-existent emergency to side-step Congress. Or divert funds designated for other purposes.

However, many Republican lawmakers don’t have a taste for more Trump shenanigans. The worse his behavior, the better the chances they’ll lose their jobs. Trump may not understand the message of the midterms, but they do.

Let your representatives in Washington know the wall is a no-go. It’s easy. Just visit https://www.congress.gov/members to get their contact info, and send an e-mail.

Let them know you oppose Trump’s wall. And that you won’t vote for anyone who enables his bad behavior.