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What the Devil won't tell you

Unmasked: Trump comes to Az for us to praise him for CV-19 response

How do you get a do-nothing president to confront a pandemic without flattering him for his failures?

Can you imagine being Myron Lizer?

The vice chairman of the Navajo Nation has some legitimate and historical gripes about treatment by Washington, D.C. His people have had to eat crow for more than a century, stranded and impoverished on reservations far from commercial centers, under a paternalistic Bureau of Indian Affairs and now there's pandemic ripping through his rez.

And here comes Donald John Trump, POTUS 45, springing himself from quarantine on the White House grounds and making Arizona his first trip since the pandemic broke.

Lizer, his wife, and Gila River Indian Community Chairman Stephen Lewis were forced to be props in Trump's reality TV show but then again, we're all props in Trump's reality TV show, even if it kills us.

So he's forced to kowtow — as all in Trump's presence must — to a petulant, stir-crazy president who needs praise like an infant needs diaper changes. The federal government is supposed to send $8 billion to the tribes but the Treasury Department has basically been toying with native peoples like bullies holding some kid's lunch box up too high. "What? Can't you reach it?"

The money was supposed to go out weeks ago but the Trump administration is only now getting 60 percent of it out the door. And for this, Trump congratulated himself ... because of course he did.

Lizer told a town hall that the delay was a "slap in the face of Indian Country yet again." But to Trump, he had to thank him and feign a snicker at the president's joke that maybe he should renegotiate the $600 million being sent to the Navajo Nation's 356,000 people.

COVID-19 is tearing through the Navajo rez. If the rest of Arizona were hit as hard as the Four Corners region, the state would have 46,000 cases. Instead it has about 7,000. One in 150 Navajo have been infected so far.

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“The numbers are still rising, and we are hoping that it flattens,” Lizer said. “Health officials have said the peak would be mid-May and it’s kind of uncanny and has fallen that way; 2,400 infected, 73 have succumbed — that’s too many.”

Trump then gasped at the news, promised to take personal responsibility, gave Lizer his contact info and said "If you ever need anything ..." just before the Tooth Fairy came in and gave the Navajo a back check for their shitty Peabody Coal deal negotiated for them by an undercover Peabody attorney. That happened. The Tooth Fairy crap did not. And Trump took responsibility for nothing but the good news (such as it is).

And Lizer has to show gratitude for the administration's hamfisted response and utter lack of national leadership because every leader of every people know the only way to get anywhere with Trump is to salute him as he salutes his own perceived awesomeness.

There aren't enough showers for Lizer just like there aren't enough coronavirus tests for the rest of us. But hey, Trump's got other stuff going on.

Lizer and Lewis need things out of the Office of the President and Trump is the one who voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania gave us for four years.

Premature past tense

Trump has a re-election to secure and he sees that Arizona's gone wobbly on him. Without Arizona, Wisconsin doesn't matter and Trump is evicted from the White House. He wants to campaign on a strong economy and he's done with this coronavirus bullshit.

If only COVID-19 were done with us, he might be onto something.

He basically told America that he's alright with a tens of thousands of people dying if it means he can run for re-election on the prospect of a strong economy. This from a guy who is personally afraid of stairs.

Gov. Doug Ducey also was required to thank the president as he tries to open up Arizona for business, while discussing the pandemic in the past tense.

“We have our arms around our public health emergency,” Ducey said sitting next to Trump. “Arizona is not New York state. It wasn’t hit first. It wasn’t hit that hard.”

What do you mean “wasn’t?”

I get how Trump can confuse the outbreak’s waning in New York City with it waning nationally. Trump is a New Yorker and nothing matters to Trump but Trump. New York matters to Trump. But Ducey is an Ohio native transplanted to Arizona. Arizona's numbers should matter to Ducey.

The governor might be interested to know that the number of Arizona cases is waxing, not waning. The numbers hop around but are following a through line that is trending upward from around 220 cases a day in late April to 350 cases a day right now. After a much-touted day in which no new deaths were reported, we had 33 new deaths reported on Tuesday, and another 30 freshly reported deaths on Wednesday. 426 Arizonans have died as of Wednesday morning's tally.

And that's with an economic slow-down, "stay at home, sorta" order in place.

The fact that Arizona is “not New York,” somehow suggests that the coronavirus is a Red Sox fan. Except it’s slaughtering Boston. There is a point to be made about how the virus explodes through high urban density. It may very well be that Toyota Camrys and Dodge Rams are the ultimate social-distancing machines.

Ever been to Shiprock? No one is going to confuse that Navajo community – ever – for Brooklyn.

Well, we're about to be mixing and mingling again because Trump wants to seek re-election during a good economy. He's winding down his personal coronavirus task force's work because "we can't shut down the economy for five years." Spoken like a Tween Queen. Those are not the only two options.

In seeking nothing but praise for himself, he repeatedly let slip that how public health won't get interrupt the plot line of Insane Clown President Season Five: Get Rich and Re-elected.

“One day they came to me and said: ‘Sir, we’re going go have to close it down,” Trump said at the Honeywell plant in Phoenix, where ventilators roll off the line. “We had the greatest economy we ever had.’”

Hold on a sec, President Fake Golf Tan. You had Obama’s economy – about 2 percent growth and around 200,000 jobs a month. You could have had a great economy but he insisted on a stupid trade war for a stupid trade deal and don’t get me started. Just because you kept going bust in the '80s and '90s doesn’t mean the rest of us were.

Many people actually have said that when Trump kicks off an anecdote with the word "sir," it's a total fabrication.

Trump's make-believe story arc remains threatened by a global pandemic that he tried for all the ever-changing world in which we live in to ignore as long as possible. “It was a terrible thing. We did what was right. And now we’re re-opening our country,” he said. The COVID thing is so April 2020.

If it fell from the sky

I want you to pretend for a second that five jumbo jets a day were falling out of the skies over America. There was a glitch somewhere and 2,000 people were day-after-day augering into the dirt in hurtling, failing airframes.

Now tell people to go ahead and fly because the problem isn’t that the sky is raining Boeings; the problem is that the economy is shuddering to a halt. C'mon! Time’s a wasting! I got 270 electoral votes to win if it kills you!

All this to save the economy? How is the economy going to recover if restaurants are opened to half capacity? How many Americans are going to stay inside and rather than put their lives in danger as 2,000 - 3,000 - 4,000 people a day are dying?

And how many deaths will it take to force another economic shutdown?

Murdered and missing

Trump gave the tribes one more present he thanked himself for, and that was a proclamation solidarity with murdered and missing tribal women.

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Navajo Nation Second Lady Dottie Lizer pressed Trump to raise awareness of the problem and he did — sort of.

Yes, this is a serious issue on reservations. One study found that more than 5,000 tribal and native women and girls went missing in 2016.

Lest you believe there's no such thing as racism in America, just imagine if five of them were blond girls competing in beauty pageants. Oh, that would lead to a national nervous breakdown. Nancy Grace would be on three channels at once.

So Trump declared May 5 to be National Murdered and Missing Indigenous Americans and Alaskan Natives Awareness Day.

Imagine for a second if all he told Exxon-Mobile and Goldman Sachs "You aren't getting a tax cut and I'm not going to let you wreck the world but I am going to declare its not OK to murder your women."

I'm sure they'd consider that sufficient.

Global conglomerates and Toddler Kings aren't craven, no. It's not like them and Trump would expect us to put our lives on the line to prop up their stock price and electoral college prospects.

Who? Them? Noooooo.

Blake Morlock is a journalist who spent 20 years reporting on government in Arizona and also worked in Democratic political communications. Now he’s telling you things that the Devil won’t.


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Shealah Craighead/White House

President Trump's Arizona visit kicked off his fall campaign focused on the economy because the coronavirus is so April 2020.

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