via White House

There are dozens of more important things than football and what a person does or doesn’t do during the inane spectacle that serves as the uber-patriotic display at the beginning of them. However, thanks to President Trump, the talk around America’s water-coolers — e.g. on Facebook and Twitter — was solely focused on the anthem (and, inexplicably, the flag) and which NFL players took a knee during it and which didn’t. Yet, we didn’t realize how lucky we were, because on Monday President Donald Trump turned his attention back towards policy, and further disgusted a nation already disgusted with him.

In a series of tweets, President Trump finally addressed the millions of U.S. citizens in crisis in Puerto Rico, who faced Hurricane Maria which had the wind-speed of Irma and the record-flooding of Harvey all rolled into one nightmare of a storm. In his message to the U.S. territory, Trump essentially told them to pay their debts before they could get help.

He wrote:

Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble. It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars wed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities — and doing well.

While it’s true that Puerto Rico has been battling a crippling debt crisis for years now, the president is either incorrect or lying about the people of this island in limbo “doing well.”

Much of the island is without power, and it could be out for most of the winter before it’s restored. Area hospitals are struggling to treat injuries with no electricity, running water, and a dwindling stockpile of medical supplies. The island is also staring down the barrel of starvation, with the storm destroying almost all of the crops, devastating both the island’s economy and access to fresh food. Homes, businesses, structures of all kind were obliterated, and areas of the island are still under water.

As Resident Commissioner for Puerto Rico Jenniffer Gonzalez put it to the Associated Press:

“The devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years…. I can’t deny that the Puerto Rico of now is different from that of a week ago. The destruction of properties, of flattened structures, of families without homes, of debris everywhere. The island’s greenery is gone.”

That National Weather Service noted that on Sunday, the island tied it’s previous maximum temperature record at 94 degrees. People are suffering through this oppressive heat with little access to fresh water, no air conditioning, and no shelter. Ports and airports are devastated, so travel to and from the island is limited.

Reporter David Begnaud of CBS News filed a report from San Juan airport, calling the conditions in the airport “inhumane” and a “sweatbox.” He said people have been sleeping in the airport for at least four nights. There is no food or water, and no employees manning the counters. As the conditions in the airport grow ever more dangerous and tense — as confrontations happen between would-be airline passengers — these folks refuse to leave lest they “lose their place in line.”

The Guajataca Dam, a structure holding back millions of gallons of water, was built in 1929 to help generate power and it is likely going to collapse. The communities of San Sebastián, Quebradillas, and Isabela rest underneath it, and they are threatened because the dam is failing. More than 70,000 people have been ordered to evacuate should the rest of the dam fall and send a wall of water rushing to wash away whatever Maria left standing. Since at least 95 percent of the wireless communication on this island is out of service, local authorities had to go house-to-house to warn residents to evacuate.

Puerto Rico is not a state, but its citizens are United States citizens nonetheless. Faced with the greatest crisis in any of their lifetimes, their president had the baldfaced audacity to bring up Puerto Rico’s debt now. It’s something he’s mentioned before, also on Twitter, in the spring. However, what he fails to mention is that he left Puerto Rican taxpayers on-the-hook for some $33 million.

In 2008, Trump entered into a licensing deal for a struggling resort formerly known as the Coco Beach Golf and Country Club. He also signed a deal to manage the property, boasting that his world-class business acumen could turn around the struggling property. The then-reality TV star promised that he would personally oversee this property. Like most Trump promises, he didn’t keep it.

The club, renamed the Trump International Golf Club, did not see it’s fortunes turn around. Still, by 2012, the Trump organization saw a profit of $600,000. By 2015, they changed the name back to the Coco Beach Golf and Country club, filing bankruptcy. Even though Eric Trump said his father had no financial stake in the club, he filed a personal claim during the bankruptcy for $927,000 in unpaid fees. “ Bankruptcy court records show that the Puerto Rico Tourism Development Fund, the largest creditor, filed a claim for $32.67 million for the real estate mortgage in 2015,” Politifact reported.

That $33 million loss was taken by taxpayers in Puerto Rico, while the Trump Organization walked away with a profit. A man who claims to be worth $10 billion (he’s not), bilked the taxpayers and his investors (as he’s done many times before) by profiting off a failing business and then going bankrupt.

Since the election, I have tried my best to not attack Trump the man, but simply to critique his words and actions as I would any president. But after days of his infantile tweets about the NFL and “the flag” and the national anthem amid a series of news stories that would rock any previous administration to the core, there is no getting around what a festering blight Trump is, not just on the face of America but of humanity itself.

Despite the protests of his Chief of Staff, President Trump did his best impression of a tinpot dictator demanding the supposedly free citizens of the country he couldn’t care less to actually run observe fealty to national symbols that are empty without principle behind them. This blathering ignoramus believes whoever waves the flag the hardest is the biggest patriot. Yet, a man who has never given of himself in service to the country or to any higher cause than his own stupid name doesn’t know the first thing about patriotism.

While campaigning for Alabama Senate candidate — and acting Senator from the state — Luther Strange, Trump basically said he didn’t care who won the race and went on a rant about these NFL protests. He called the players who took a knee during the national anthem sons of bitches. Even though the white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville were “very fine people,” those who silently take a knee to protest racial injustice at the hands of the police get no such benefit of the doubt.

I have written extensively about how the right to protest the government and national symbology is one of the founding princples of this nation (and, in so doing, actually honors those symbols). Authoritarians like Trump hate this sort of thing, but also love it. It’s such an easy argument to rally his base and those who have affection for these national symbols, especially when climbs on the backs of dead soldiers, like former NFL player Pat Tillman. (Despite the fact that his doing so offended and hurt his widow and family.)

Trump says this is all about “respect” for the troops and the flag and the anthem, but of course it isn’t. Trump doesn’t care about any of those things, he just cares about the respect he can get from it and how he can use this argument to silent dissent in a nation where half of its people don’t really want to be free anymore, but rather serve their God-Emperor Trump.

A veteran friend of mine — who happens to be married to an immigrant and is the father of biracial children — is part of this cult of personality. Even though he agrees that criminal justice reform is one of the most important issues of our time (and that the GOP is on the wrong side of this issue) he lambasted these protesters simply because Trump told him to do so. For him, and so many others, the issue they are protesting doesn’t matter because the act of taking a knee is “disrespectful.” But that is just bullshit.

When this protest first started with then-backup San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, he didn’t take a knee but simply stayed seated during the anthem. When his teammate Eric Reid wanted to join his protest, they worked on a strategy to alter what they did to show respect for the anthem but still make their point.

As Reid wrote in The New York Times on Monday:

After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former N.F.L. player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.
It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel. We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite.

So while Trump spent his weekend standing atop the graves of men and women who served in the military he was too frightened or disinterested to join and talking about respect, he continued to do his best to show that he has no fucking clue what that word even means.

Putting aside the tone-deafness and base cruelty in his Puerto Rico tweets, Trump also decided to honor the vets by trashing a dying one because he wants to sign literally anything he can call a “repeal” of the Affordable Care Act.

On 60 Minutes this Sunday, Sen. John McCain revealed that he has, at best, a 14 percent change to beat the terminal cancer that is killing him. In the interview, he essentially acknowledges that he will soon be dead. Sitting next to his wife, Cindy, he accepted his fate with a kind of courageous dignity that Trump could never muster, even if he was paid to.

As McCain said:

“You know, it’s a very poor prognosis. So I just said, ‘I understand. Now we’re gonna do what we can, get the best doctors we can find and do the best we can.’ And, at the same time, celebrate with gratitude a life well lived.”

Since Trump spent the weekend draped in the flag, one would think that even though McCain and he have never gotten along, the president wouldn’t further antagonize him. After telling Puerto Rico to pay up or die, he tweeted a video of McCain talking about Obamacare as a way to humiliate him for not supporting the moronic bills offered up by the GOP, who spent seven years trying to get rid of a law without even once considering what they would put in its place.

If Trump deserved the benefit of the doubt, and he doesn’t, it’s fair to say that a sitting Senator can be criticized on such a policy position, especially one that seems like a flip-flop. Perhaps, facing the high cost of cancer treatment and facing his own mortality (again), McCain has reconsidered his position. Perhaps he’s just doing it as a “fuck you” to the president who denigrated his service and time as a prisoner of war. One would think that a president who just spent a week keening for veterans like an Irish grandmother at a funeral, he might consider letting a full 24 hours pass before he antagonized the dying McCain.

There are those who believe that Trump chose now to wage this culture war of stupidity and phony reverence was a way to distract from other stories that, in any normal administration, would each be front-page news for weeks to come. If everyone is talking about him and football, they aren’t paying attention to other stories that would reflect much more poorly on the Trump administration.

There is the looming failure of this latest Senate healthcare bill. There is the crisis with North Korea that Trump continues to escalate on Twitter, even after convincing China to support and enforce economic sanctions. There is the new version of the travel ban — dubbed “extreme vetting” even though it’s a complete nonsense term — that adds North Korea, Venezuela, and Chad to a list of five majority-Muslim nations. Of course, there is also the Russia investigation which is moving much more quickly than most anticipated.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is in deep trouble with the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller. Facebook recently revealed that some 3,000 ads were purchased by a “shady” Russian company and information related to those ad buys were turned over to Mueller’s team this week. There was the revelation that there is infighting amongst Trump’s legal team — truly the hallmark of Trump “leadership,” bringing out the worst of everyone he employs — because two lawyers loudly discussed the case while sitting next a reporter for The New York Times.

Finally, there is the revelation that despite frequent calls from Trump and his team to have Hillary Clinton “locked up” for her use of private email while doing government business, some six Trump staffers have been using private email to the people’s business in the White House. A report from The Times found that Ivanka Trump, Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, Stephen Miller, and Gary D. Cohn have all used private email, likely breaking federal records laws. Chances are this is not really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, especially if they are forced to turn over their emails. But in light of how they lambasted Clinton for doing a similar thing, it’s either the height of hypocrisy or mind-blowing incompetence.

Yet to say that Trump chose to discuss the NFL protests to distract from these stories suggests a presence of mind and impulse control that he lacks. The president is a fool, a 71-year-old man trapped by arrested development in the mental state of a spoiled toddler. He lashes out with no thought of consequence or any thought at all, simply because he craves the love and adoration of rubes who will wait in line to watch him campaign for an office he already won.

There has never been a president in the modern age so despicable, so loathsome, so woefully uninformed about the business of governance and American values in the modern age. In their own ways, even Nixon and George W. Bush were “patriots.” They at least understood that if America were to crumble, nobody would make any money. For this Vienna sausage-fingered buffoon, making money while everything else crashes and burns is the only way he knows how to operate.