Friday, December 21, 2018

Rats, All The Way Down

My next newspaper column:
Everybody loves somebody someday. Domestic abusers get bailed out by the abused, escaped felons find shelter on the outside. Human nature being what it is, even serial killers get fan mail and marriage proposals. Let’s assume, however, that few saw attempts to bring such people to justice as nothing more than politically motivated hit-jobs. Or, even as the bodies piled up, witch hunts. (American Wiccans are protesting current usage of the term.) In societies that value the rule of law, it’s accepted that criminals should be punished, and people about whom there’s reason to suspect outlaw behavior should be subject to scrutiny.  
In the US, not long ago considered the world’s greatest democracy, on whose constitution other countries based their own, thirty-eight-percent of the population still believes any suggestion that the current “president” is the common denominator in a conflagration of crimes is merely the stuff of sore losers. How comforting to consider such criticism to be born of irrational hate, rather than reckoning with the implications for our country and the world in having a “president” who’s a constant, and possibly criminal, liar. 
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If a well-worn cliché, Californians can testify to the truth of it. By now, the smog of scandal in the center of which Trump lies requires medical-grade respirators. Yet hardcore Trumpists frolic outside, breathing deep, claiming, eyes tearing, that coughing is good for us all. 
Leaving much of our public lands ready for ruin, trailing the fumes of fifteen separate ethics investigations, Ryan Zinke is the latest of Trump’s “best people” to work the revolving door. Courts just smocked the EPA, ordering reversal of the damage Scott “Also the Best” Pruitt would have done to our environment and children by lifting restrictions on a poison banned by President Obama. 
There are plenty more liars, incompetents, and thieves Trump has gathered close, but they’re not even the prime evidence of his flagitious conduct. He, his family, and businesses, his campaign, inaugural committee, transition team, and his fake “foundation” (which he just agreed to shutter under court supervision) have attracted investigations; seventeen so far. That’s a lot of boil, boil, toil, and trouble to have been cooked up from nothing. 
There’s also smoke signaling Trump’s dalliances with crime networks, home-grown and foreign, for his whole career. It was, at least in part, because of his connections with criminals, laundering money, and phony, failed business deals, that when he was on the verge of personal bankruptcy, no US bank would bail him out. Forced to turn to Russians, Saudis, and Deutsch Bank, he left himself, and now us, vulnerable. Don’t believe it? Plug “Trump mafia ties” into your favorite search engine. And ask yourself: is a temporary tax break, or the deportation of immigrants, fourteen-thousand kids incarcerated at the border, or however else Trump is floating your boat, a fair return for de-facto complicity? 
Even a Fox “news” commentator suggested to Trump that he stop calling Michael Cohen a “rat,” because that’s what mobsters call a guy who sings to the cops. You can’t “rat” with lies, but rats do leave a sinking ship of state. Trump’s rodents see the rising water.  
Trumpists would have us believe it’s “entrapment” by Mueller, et al., that’s causing the exodus from S.S. Trump. Hardly. Even Mike Flynn’s lawyers admitted he wasn’t entrapped. It’s the writing on the walls: prison walls. Grifters and crooks who, seeing Trump’s own malfeasance and greed as protection, once believed themselves untouchable, are reading between the bars. This includes Trump’s ironically-named pal and fake-news-purveyor. Could it be a Pecker that brings down the p---- grabber?  
From a new report to the Senate, we’ve learned Russia’s 2016 disinformation efforts were even more extensive, sophisticated, and purposeful than was known. Also revealed is that a letter of Russian intent (cf: Steele dossier) which didn’t exist, actually did. But wasn’t signed. Was. Trump’s lies about Russian connections may be the least of his legal problems, but colluding with a foreign adversary is still kinda serious. If confirmed (smoke/fire), there’s a word for it. 
Even conservative news outlets like WSJ and Forbes are making his corruption undeniable. So Trump suggests criticizing him should be illegal. Baseless hate? Well, admittedly, it’s hard to love.  
As the winds of investigations blow the smokescreen from the rubble, Trumpists may have to look for their missing conscience and reconsider where they stand. Blaming messengers isn’t a forever firewall.
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