On Sunday, initially at least, there was no White House briefing on the president’s public schedule. But the bad news kept coming. Coronavirus deaths continued to climb and reports of the heartland being unprepared for what may be on its horizon continued to ricochet around the media.
In the words of one administration insider, to the Guardian: “The Trump organism is simply collapsing. He’s killing his own supporters.”
Members of the national guard, emergency workers, rank-and-file Americans: all are exposed. Yet Trump appears incapable of emoting anything that comes close to heart-felt concern. Or just providing straight answers.
Rather, he is acting like Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America: repeatedly letting governors know the burden of shoring up their sick, their doctors and their people falls on their shoulders first. The national government? It’s the world’s greatest backstop.
Remember when the Republican party freaked out about Barack Obama and the US “leading from behind” abroad? Remember the howls that evoked from GOP leaders? Those days are gone. Welcome to what Martin O’Malley, a Democratic former governor of Maryland, calls the “Darwinian approach to federalism”.
There is nothing like populism marinated in wholesale contempt for the populace
Trump is telling NFL owners he wants the season to start on time. He is disregarding Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice on wearing facemasks in public. And he is touting untested coronavirus cures live on national TV.
Think Trump University on steroids, only this time we all stand to be the victims.
When Dr Anthony Fauci says there is no evidence to back up Trump’s claims surrounding hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, pay attention. The fact Jared Kushner is on the case is hardly reassuring. He’s the guy who thought firing James Comey was win-win politics and promised Middle East peace in our time.
While all this is going on, the Wisconsin Republican party is giving America a taste of the campaign to come in the fall. Right now, the Badger State GOP is fighting in the US supreme court efforts to extend mail-in voting for this Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
In other words, voters will be forced to choose between foregoing their rights and risking their lives. Democracy shouldn’t work that way.
There is nothing like populism marinated in wholesale contempt for the populace. In case Trump and the Republicans forgot, “We the People” are the constitution’s first three words.
If you can leave your soldiers to suffer then no American is truly safe
Sadly, once again we are reminded that Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe’s masterpiece, Gladiator, is the movie for this presidency and its tumultuous times. In one scene, a senator, Gracchus, attempts to confront Commodus, the emperor, about a plague spreading through Rome. The emperor declines, threatens the senator and muses about disbanding the Senate.
On Thursday, Trump forced the removal of Captain Brett Crozier from his command of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, for having the temerity to plead his sailors’ case as more than 100 of them tested positive for coronavirus.
Hours after dismissing Crozier, Trump sacked Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general, for simply doing his job. Trump’s Ukraine call was never perfect, however many times he says it was.
Whether Trump wins reelection is an open question. For now, the economy is cratering and the coronavirus death toll has exploded. Not a promising combination. Herbert Hoover faced a depression, not a plague. Trump may contend with both.
According to Chris Christie, a former New Jersey governor and the man who sent Charlie Kushner, Jared’s father, to prison, November will be a referendum on Trump. Joe Biden is nearly irrelevant.
For the moment, Trump holds a commanding lead among Republicans. Seven months from now, we will learn if party loyalty is enough to secure a second term.
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Rodney Howard-Browne: Florida Megachurch Pastor Arrested
Rodney Howard-Browne. Credit: Hernando County Detention Center
Rodney Howard-Browne, the leader of a Pentecostal megachurch in Tampa Bay, Florida, has been arrested after continuing to hold large church services amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff announced on March 30 that he had obtained an arrest warrant for the pastor’s arrest. About an hour later, Howard-Browne was booked into the Hernando County Detention Center, inmate records show.
Although the governor of Florida has not issued a statewide “stay at home” order, local communities have taken steps to curb the spread of the virus. In Hillsborough County, gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people and residents are instructed to remain at their homes as much as possible. In the order, which can be read here, religious institutions are not included in the list of essential businesses.
Howard-Browne has been dismissive of the threat from COVID-19. During a sermon on March 16, he told the River at Tampa Bay congregation that the church would never close and encouraged people to shake hands.
1. Rodney Howard-Browne Has Said Only the Rapture Could Force His Church to Close & Referred to Those Concerned About COVID-19 as ‘Pansies’
Rodney Howard-Browne told his congregation during a service on March 15 that his church would remain open and that only the end of the world could force him to close it. He retweeted a portion of his sermon that was shared to Twitter from that day. The clip is embedded above.
In the clip, Howard-Browne urged everyone to shake hands. “I know they don’t want us to do this, but just turn around and greet two, three people. Tell them you love them, Jesus loves them.” He reassured the congregation, “This has to be the safest place. If you cannot be saved in church, you in serious trouble.”
Howard-Browne then said, “This church will never close. The only time the church is closed is when the rapture is taking place.” In Christianity, the rapture refers to the second coming of Jesus Christ, when he will destroy the devil and the “Last Judgement” of mankind will take place.
Howard-Browne then suggested that his congregation is not afraid of contracting the coronavirus and that anyone who does it weak. “This Bible school is open because we’re raising up revivalists, not pansies.”
The Orlando Weekly reported that during one of his sermons, Howard-Browne insisted the coronavirus was less of a threat than the flu. “Suddenly we are demonized because we believe that God heals, that the lord sets people free, and they make us out to be some kook… we are free in America to worship God freely.”
2. Sheriff: Howard-Brown’s ‘Reckless Disregard For Human Life’ Put Thousands of People’s Lives in Danger
Sheriff Chad Chronister of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office said his office received an anonymous tip that Rodney Howard-Browne was continuing to hold services with hundreds of people, even after legal orders were enacted barring large gatherings. The sheriff explained during a news conference on March 30 that law enforcement officials attempted to speak with the pastor at his church days earlier, but that he refused to see them.
Officials instead met with the pastor’s attorneys. Sheriff Chronister said the goal had been to “educate” the pastor about the “dangerous environment” he was creating by continuing to hold large services with hundreds of people packed into one room. Officials pointed out that Howard-Browne has the capability to broadcast his sermons over the internet, and therefore does not need to have services in-person during this pandemic. The River already streams its services online each week.
The sheriff added that other religious institutions have adopted this practice and encouraged their own congregations to practice social distancing. But Howard-Browne instead insisted on members of the congregation attend in-person and provided bussing to the church.
Howard-Browne’s defense has been that holding the services is within his first amendment rights. Hours before his arrest, the pastor even retweeted the sheriff office’s statement that his church was violating “the President’s guidelines for America, recommendations made by the CDC, and orders from the Governor.” Howard-Browne wrote that his attorneys were “meeting with authorities to resolve any issues!” He used the hashtags #thestand and #1stamendment.
But the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s office disagreed with his argument that the first amendment was applicable in this case, because large gatherings had been designated as temporarily illegal. Sheriff Chronister argued that the health and safety of the community has to come first, stating that Howard-Browne’s “reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk, and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week, in danger.”
Howard-Browne is charged with unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency rules. Both charges are second-degree misdemeanors. He turned himself into authorities and was booked into the Hernando County Detention Center around 2:20 p.m. on March 30, inmate records show.
He was taken into custody there instead of Hillsborough County, because that is where he lives, the sheriff explained. Sheriff Chronister added that his office worked with Howard-Browne’s attorneys to allow him to turn himself in order to protect the safety of law enforcement. He referenced Howard-Browne’s past statements about possessing an arsenal of weapons and having private security. In 2017, the pastor posted on Instagram that the church was “heavily armed,” the Miami Herald reported at the time. The post was shared after a gunman killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
3. Rodney Howard-Browne Claimed He Cured Zika & Promised to Rid Florida of the Coronavirus
Right Wing Watch reports on the extreme rhetoric and activities of key right-wing figures and organizations by showing their views in their own words. In this clip, right-wing pastor Rodney Howard-Browne issues a “restraining order” to the Antichrist and the global cabal that seeks to destroy America.
Rodney Howard-Browne has made large claims in regards to his abilities as a religious leader. In a clip shared by Right Wing Watch in February 2020, Howard-Browne claimed that he cured Florida of the zika virus “in the name of Jesus” and vowed that he would do the same against the coronavirus.
In the clip, the pastor said he had been asked why he couldn’t rid the entire world of these viruses. He said it was because he “can’t be responsible” for every city in the world.
In July of 2018, Howard-Browne took credit for saving the planet from the devil. During a sermon, he claimed that he had issued a “restraining order” against the Antichrist. “If you think I’m crazy, that’s fine. I didn’t come here, I don’t care what people think. I’m here to deliver a message whether people like it or not. I’m not gonna change anything. I’m not looking to become accepted. I’m already accepted by Him. I’m just a messenger boy.”
4. Howard-Browne Prayed Over President Trump In 2017 & Said Jesus Would Have ‘Beat the Crap’ Out of John Bolton For ‘Turning On’ the President
Rodney Howard-Browne and his wife, Adonica Howard-Browne, has previously spent time at the White House. He shared a photo to Facebook on July 11, 2017, as he stood over President Donald Trump with his hands on the president’s back. Vice President Mike Pence can be seen amongst the men in the group, with his head bowed in prayer. Howard-Browne and his wife were invited by televangelist Paula White-Cain, Vanity Fair reported.
Howard-Browne explained, “Yesterday was very surreal for @ahowardbrowne & I. 30 years ago we came from South Africa to America as missionaries. Yesterday I was asked by Pastor Paula White-Cain to pray over our 45th President – what a humbling moment standing in the Oval Office – laying hands and praying for our President – Supernatural Wisdom, Guidance and Protection – who could ever even imagine – wow – we are going to see another great spiritual awakening.”
Facebook Rodney Howard-Browne and Donald Trump
President Trump appears to have met Howard-Browne along the campaign trail. The pastor gave the opening prayer before a rally at the Florida State Fair Grounds in November 2016.
In January 2020, Howard-Browne also made headlines for his defense of President Trump amid the impeachment hearings. He specifically addressed former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s decision to write a book about his time in the administration. Howard-Browne wrote on Twitter, “You are a slime ball of the highest order. I should have knocked your sorry butt through the door of the Oval Office into the rose garden when I saw you. I would have gladly been arrested … what a Benedict Arnold … I am glad you were fired!!!” In a follow-up tweet, Howard-Browne wrote that Jesus would have “made a whip and beat the crap” out of Bolton.
5. Rodney Howard-Browne Said He & His Wife Were ‘Called By God’ to Be Missionaries In the United States
Revival Ministries Rodney Howard-Browne and wife Adonica
Rodney Howard-Browne was born and raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. His wife, Adonica, was born in Zimbabwe before her family relocated to Johannesburg, according to their church’s website.
After getting married in 1981, the couple traveled around South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia as ministers. They had three children together: Kirsten, Kelly May, and Kenneth.
Howard-Browne explained that the family moved to the United States in 1987 in order to answer a calling from God to spread the faith in the United States.
He wrote, “The Lord had spoken through Rodney in a word of prophecy and declared: ‘As America has sown missionaries over the last 200 years, I am going to raise up people from other nations to come to the United States of America. I am sending a mighty revival to America.’”
Howard-Browne added, “The Lord supernaturally provided for their air tickets and they came to America with only $300, four suitcases, and their three children, then aged five, three and seven months.”
The couple founded The River at Tampa Bay Church in December 1996.
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