Thursday, October 3, 2019

Melting Down


My next column in The Everett Herald:
You know what they say: there are two types of people in the world; those who say there are two types of people in the world, and those who don’t.  
There are three types of people in the world. The smallest group consists of Trump, his Caligari Cabinet, his spokespeople, enablers, accomplices, and consiglieri, and his Congressional apologists… The people, in other words, committing obvious crimes and those directly abetting them. Lying. Covering-up. Threatening. Hallucinating conspiracies.  
More densely populated are the remaining two groups, consisting of those who see what’s happening, describe it, recognize the implications, and try to do something about it; and those holding their hands tightly over their eyes with their thumbs in their ears. 
We’ve always had criminals, and we’ve always had people trying to expose and stop them. But there’s never been such a blatantly corrupt administration, in which the corruption is spread among so many people; and we’ve never “elected” a “president” who had a lifelong history of corrupt business practices in the first place, whose children were of the same mold, and whose transgressions were widely known before the election. 
Nevertheless, the first two kinds of people, qua categories, aren’t particularly groundbreaking. Who hasn’t played cops and robbers as a kid, right? It’s that third category that’s so baffling. How much energy it must take to refuse to deny, to excuse what’s going on. Worse, to like it. Even as the daily revelations are becoming a torrent. 
Some people cheered Bonnie and Clyde. This is altogether different. Donald Trump has no understanding of America. He’s calling Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a traitor. He’s demanding to know who that whistleblower is; has implied such people should be killed. He’s calling six Congresswomen (four women of color, two Jews) “savages.” He’s encouraging “civil war” if he’s impeached. Pompeo says no State Department employees will honor Congressional subpoenas. Lindsey Graham, who led the Clinton impeachment trial, says Trump’s not getting due process! What’s more “due” than a process outlined in the Constitution? Nevertheless, Trump calls it a “coup.” Rudy Giuliani says… well, who the heck knows WHAT Rudy says? Other than admitting to forgery.  
But they know how to speak to Group Three. They know the can’t-miss buzzwords: plot, fake, set-up. And, of course, “deep state.” Know what that really is? It’s career government employees wanting to do their jobs: protecting the food supply, the electric grid, small farmers and small businesses. Keeping vital research going, feeding the hungry, funding promising ideas that banks and other NGOs and banks won’t take a chance on. Oh, Solyndra, you say? One failed business out of hundreds funded, paying back their loans, giving innovation a chance? Dig deeper. 
In Group Three are two sub-categories: the deceived (of which there are another two: the willing and the unknowing), and the nasty. One of Fox “news” nastiest, Laura Ingraham recently did a “hilarious” bit on her show: using a straw to “drink” a steak peppered with broken incandescent light bulbs. Get it? You know, stuff liberals hate: straws, red meat, and wasting energy. Good one, right?  
But it explains why many in Group Three stick with Trump despite his mounting destruction of Constitutional governance, despite his lying and abuses of power, despite turning the departments of state and justice into nothing more than henchmen. Despite behaving in a way at which they’d be outraged were it a Democrat. 
They stick with him because, like Laura Ingraham, they love sticking it to liberals. What a great reason. How patriotic. How thoughtful. 
How deplorable.  
If there are any Trumpists who’d like to learn what our government really does, including indispensable and highly beneficial things about which they clearly have no idea, there’s a book they’ll find enlightening, if they could disencumber their minds long enough to read it. It’s called “The Fifth Risk,” by Michael Lewis, who also wrote “Moneyball” and “The Big Short,” among others. For those who believe in some sort of evil “deep state” and in the uselessness of government, it ought to be required reading. 
Or just note how, under pressure of impending impeachment, Trump is melting down at increasing speed, making ever-wilder accusations and anacoluthons, acting more and more the mad king. No matter the outcome of this Constitutionally-created process, he’s becoming so unhinged that even Group Three loyalists might come to recognize the obvious. 
One can hope.

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