SQUIRREL!

With his poll numbers slumping, the COVID-19 pandemic getting worse, and most Americans agreeing that Black lives actually do matter, Donald Trump keeps trying to change the subject, since that's always worked for him before. We're generally skeptical of the idea that any given outrage from Trump is a distraction from some other issue, because EVERYTHING he's been doing forever has just been one outrage piled on another. But the pandemic and the marches against police brutality and institutional racism have continued, one because it's a deadly virus that refuses to be contained by the news cycle, and the other because millions of people are demanding change. So when Trump tries to parade another insane idea in front of us, our focus soon shifts — but not to whatever new steaming turd Trump is throwing. Instead, we can't ignore fundamental questions about how we're going to stay alive, both in a clinical sense, and in terms of reining in the institutionalized violence that truly is inherent in the system.

Trump gave it another shot today, with a pair of tweets threatening to remove tax exemptions from all schools and universities that are too darn radical:

Maybe Fox News and the Wingnuttosphere will spend a day or two recycling all the Tenured Radicals crap that's always gotten righties mad, going back to when Joe McCarthy still had a functioning liver. But we don't see this one having any staying power, given that the virus is still spreading, and now a number of states are considering reimposing various forms of lockdown to bring it under control.

After three years of Trump's Chaos Circus, we have two genuine crises on our hands and we're not inclined to look away, because too many lives are at stake.


Up until the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, Trump had benefited from constant tumult, because there's just so much of it in his maladministration that no one had time to focus too long on any one thing. It's like we'd all been infected by Trump's own mayfly-on-Red Bull attention span.

As Amanda Marcotte writes at Salon, the constant string of scandals

has, impossibly, redounded to Trump's advantage. Because no one scandal lingers in the headlines and cable chyrons too long, his scandals and failures have taken on an ephemeral nature. Much of the public, which only half watches the news at best, has no idea how serious the situation is, since no single story sticks around long enough to make an impression on voters who aren't compulsive political junkies. Even those of us who spend 12 hours a day engaged with the news cycle lose track of how serious the situation is.

In 2020, however, we're just not willing to stay on the scandal treadmill. The scandals keep coming, but they aren't throwing us for a loop, because Jesus Christ on a ventilator, we have two far bigger things to think about now, and Donald Trump's utter inability to fix either one, or even to say anything meaningful about them, leaves us disgusted. Trump demanded that the nation deal with the pandemic without him, and while state governments and doctors and hospitals and ordinary Americans have all pitched in, we all can see that the Emperor has no PPE, and nobody but the most faithful toadies are fooled by the constant insistence that Donald Trump is doing a great job. Trump abdicated the federal government's duty to actually protect Americans in a crisis, and we can all see it hasn't been working.

Same goes for the marches against police violence: again and again, police themselves reacted to protests by roughing up demonstrators and journalists, making the case that they're out of control far better than any protest sign could. And instead of doing much beyond an executive order that was so paltry we've already forgotten what it was, Trump waded in behind mounted police and tear gas to wave a Bible and tell us that the protesters, not the police busting the protesters' heads, were the real danger.

Says Marcotte, "It's no longer background noise. People are paying attention, finally, to how bad this president really is."

She points out that Trump can't even rely on his old reliable deplorables anymore. Trump tried to gin up the same old magic by holding a big rally in Tulsa.The rally fizzled, failing to draw the overflow crowd Trump and his cheerleaders insisted would show up. Oh, but the pandemic, that story that won't go away, has even swallowed up Trump's comeback attempt. We're talking about the Tulsa rally again, but not because of the cheering crowds demanding Hillary or Fauci go to jail. Instead, it's because of this New York Times headline:

Just this afternoon, the Trump campaign cancelled a rally in New Hampshire that had been planned for tomorrow, citing the supposed risk of Tropical Storm Fay, although weather forecasts for the rally site predict only cloudy weather for Portsmouth tomorrow.

Maybe Trump will grab a sharpie and insist he saved tens of thousands of people who surely would have been imperiled. But it seems likely not many people wanted to be the "next Tulsa."

So Donald Trump will go golfing in Florida instead, and nobody seems to be getting particularly riled up about those radical schools. But Politico did at least note that while most schools and universities are indeed tax-exempt, the IRS's rules are quite clear that

the "advocacy of a particular position or viewpoint" can still qualify as educational for tax purposes "if there is a sufficiently full and fair exposition of pertinent facts to permit an individual or the public to form an independent opinion or conclusion."

Gosh, guess those crackdowns on schools may not be coming either.

[Salon / Politico / NYT / Guardian]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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