Schwab: Self-dealing, election-fixing bitter pills to swallow

Nov. 3 election may be the only sure remedy to the abuses of the Trump administration and the GOP.

By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist

Anyone having any two of five human senses operating at 50 percent capacity or greater recognizes that Trump’s government is a kleptocracy.

The latest of many examples: Rudy Giuliani bought $2 million worth of stock in Novartis, the company that makes the malaria drug he began hyping as a miracle cure for Covid-19 immediately after the purchase. Trump, Inc., has a stake, too. Trump’s “administration” purchased a million doses of the unproven drug, with our money. Anyone surprised? Remember that Novartis paid Michael Cohen $1.2 million for access to Trump. It’s all of a piece with several Republican Congress-dwellers cashing in by buying and selling related stocks right after being briefed on the coronavirus, before the rest of us knew anything.

Serving in Vietnam, I took the Trump-drug as malaria prophylaxis. Despite seeing several cases while there, I stopped, because it made me sick. That the drug is innocuous is another of Trump’s endless lies. Is it effective for coronavirus victims? We don’t know. But the studies touted by such unreliables as Rudy and Trump and Fox “news” fabricators and, unbelievably, Trump’s second-most egregious groveler, William Barr, are equivocal at best, and they’ve been the opposite of scientific. Either way, Trump will take credit for everyone who recovers after taking it, true or not.

Fear of truth is why Trump fired two inspectors general this week and last, and attacked the integrity of another who’d accurately reported that hospitals across the country are in desperate need of protective equipment. Trump assumes his followers will believe him when he says everything is fine, because he’s done a “fabulous” job. It’s not, and he hasn’t. Our local hospital, where I’m assisting in surgery, is in better shape than most. Still, PPE is under strict control. Having changed masks between cases for my whole career, it’s now necessary to reuse them throughout the day. Other locations are facing far worse.

The first inspector general that Trump fired was the one who fulfilled his duty by informing Congress of the infamous whistle-blower complaint. Informed. Didn’t opine. Informed, as required by law. Trump’s vilification of him was as illuminating as it was disgraceful. The second fired inspector general was chosen, independently, by IGs from several agencies, to oversee the dispensing of the trillions of taxpayer dollars in the rescue package. A respected, reportedly “dogged” inspector, fired summarily. Has it anything to do with Trump’s hotels’ eligibility to cash in? (ProPublica: tinyurl.com/cash4don)

The thievery isn’t just about our money. They’re stealing elections, too. Wisconsin’s this week was the Party of Trump epitomized, demonstrating the ways by which democracy will die they’re allowed to pilfer another four years. Which is, explicitly, their goal.

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has a majority of unqualified right-wing ideologues, selected by no-longer-governor Scott Walker, whose “conservative” policies, like Gov. Brownback’s in Kansas, ruined his state’s economy. One of those judges is up for election, facing a credible Democratic opponent. Like the national Republican Party, Wisconsin’s is desperate to keep its compliant court majority. Because of Covid-19, far more people than usual requested absentee, mail-in ballots. Surprise: the state was slow in delivering them, especially to minority areas. Days after the election, some still hadn’t gotten theirs.

To allow time to receive late-arriving ballots, in consideration of the pandemic, Wisconsin’s Democratic governor ordered a delay. Republicans ran to their reliable judges, who invalidated the order. SCOTUS, predictably 5-4, upheld the invalidation. Issued remotely so as not to endanger themselves in person, their decision forced thousands to endanger themselves in person. Trump, who voted by mail in Florida, “because I’m allowed to,” says mail-in voting is corrupt (it’s the least corruptible, as Washingtonians know). He also lied about when and why Wisconsin Democrats requested the delay.

In cities most populated by Democratic constituencies, polling places were drastically reduced. Milwaukee, which has the highest black population, a demographic hit disproportionately hard by the virus, went from 180 polling sites to five. Choosing democracy over threat to life, people waited in lines for hours, just as their Republican legislature wanted, though they must have figured more would stay away.

A political Amber Alert, Wisconsin warns of nationwide voter suppression, ideologically activist courts, disregard for public health, disadvantaging minorities. With more Democrats voting but Republican-controlled, by virtue of gerrymandering sanctioned by their corrupted court, Wisconsin is Trumpism’s future America. Like Wisconsin’s, Trump’s judges won’t protect voting rights or democracy. Absent massive, united Democratic turnout in November (Trump/Russia is already sewing dissension, effectively), it’s over.

Email Sid Schwab at columnsid@gmail.com.

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