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Category: Politics

Something's Wrong on the Right
I blame the Republicans. Doesn’t everybody? Even other Republicans hold them responsible for our current pickle. And by “other Republicans” I mean Rs who are still operating within a belief system that values national security, law and order, old-fashioned morality, honor, duty, and the supremacy of the Constitution. I am sad to say that their kind is declining in numbers. I’m honestly going to miss those guys when the Grand Old Party as we know it finally gags its last.

We’re not there yet, though. Those other Rs are still out there, and we’re starting to hear more from them now, even though the pushback is pretty weak. That is partly because they are powerless now that they have been replaced by Trump Republicans in Congress. With one or two exceptions, all the rest who remain in office have made the transition from anti-Trump to pro-Trump — for the most part, it seems, completely without fanfare.

It is those Republicans who are screwing over the Republic. But even as we blame them, we are puzzled by their failure of conscience. Surely they will stop and realize, I keep imagining, that all the principles they hold dear as patriots, all the reasons they got into politics in the first place, all the faith they have in our system of government, are under threat from the current president. Not only under threat, but under attack and being shredded even as we all watch. I wait for resistance to form in their ranks, but so far, no one has dared.

Where is their decency, their shame? It doesn’t make sense. Their behavior has been so inexplicable, in fact, that I decided recently to step back and take another look at my assumptions in this matter. Perhaps I have been misjudging the participants in some fundamental way, and that has thrown off my calculations. And perhaps I have been a sucker.

I can report that my second look turned up something right away. Now that I see this new possibility, however, I am hesitant to suggest it. It brings with it ramifications that are even more troubling than the original ones. But the stakes are too high to just turn away, so here it is:

What if the Republicans who aren’t simply spineless and venal? What if they are willing partners in undermining our free society? What if, in other words, they are not just enablers but collaborators? Co-conspirators, that is, in a treasonous corruption of our democracy?

You’ll have to admit the idea is chilling. And maybe a bit nutty. This is just the kind of thinking we usually ascribe to right-wing conspiracy theorists. How could these duly-elected public servants really be okay with ushering in Emperor Trump? It seems so far-fetched, and yet you can’t deny the Republicans’ track record of strong anti-democracy activism.

Want evidence? They regularly purge voter rolls, often using the laughable excuse of voter fraud. They shut down polling places, usually in areas where the Democrats are strong, often without good reason. They limit the hours and days available for voting. They jealously guard (much more so than the Democrats) their gerrymandered districts, enshrining minority rule and defying the will of the people. And even now, in the face of a direct attack on our electoral process by the Russians, they refuse to bring up a single bill in the Senate to protect our system. The effect of all this, as we have seen, is to undermine the very essence of democracy — the sanctity of the ballot box.

So there’s all that. Would a full corruption of our institutions just to take power once and for all really be such a stretch? It’s even possible, I suppose, that there hasn’t been a real Republican in office for decades, and that all these Constitution-thumping fascists have just been waiting for the right moment to realize their mad dreams of power.

I hesitated to suggest all of this because I really don’t want this new analysis of mine to be correct. I was comfortable with my old, rosy assessment of human nature. Under these new assumptions, I not only have to worry about the country finding its way back to normal, I also have to worry about getting me back there too. But if I don’t, at least I’ll know whose fault it is.

I blame the Republicans.
Under Lying
Trump apologists are now running with the argument that there can be no obstruction of justice if we can’t find the underlying crime of conspiracy with the Russians. Setting aside for the moment that there is no law to support such a notion, let me suggest this very real possibility:

What if the reason Mueller didn’t find sufficient evidence of conspiracy was that Trump’s well-documented efforts to kill or stymie the investigation (pages 194 through 347 of the report) ended up working?

If so, we are left with the hall-of-mirrors conclusion that obstruction, if it is ultimately successful, is not a crime. Similarly, if you hide your victim’s body carefully enough, then it’s perfectly legal to hide it — and to get away with murder.
The Wrong Arm of the Law
Maybe I’ve been watching too many of those British mysteries on the telly. In those stories, the slightly dotty sleuth is always able to sort through a haystack of clues and false leads to find, at last, the needle of proof that sends the wrongdoer to the nick for keeps.

Real life, as I have recently been reminded, is not like that. Robert Mueller, though he seems to be quite thorough when it comes to haystacks, does not appear to have come up with that elusive needle. Not for a conspiracy with the Rooskis, anyway. It may in fact may be there, but if it is, he couldn’t find it. That he didn’t find it does not establish Trump’s innocence or exonerate him or prove it was all a hoax. The guilty, in real life anyway, sometimes go free.

Collusion, on the other hand, was abundantly established long ago. Don Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting with the Russians and the President’s subsequent efforts to cover up the purpose of that meeting have long ago proved that wrongdoing. But collusion is not a crime. It is simply “plotting, intrigue, or connivance.” That, we have here in spades.

But that’s not what Inspector Morse would be looking for. Conspiracy, with its very particular (and difficult to prove) legal definition, is the crime we’re talking about, and conspiracy is what Mueller could not find proof of in the haystack. Not enough to convict, anyway. We might suspect, as I do, that there was a conspiracy, but we haven’t got the proof. All we have is suspicion, and that doesn’t count for much — unless you’re into conspiracies, which I am not. I have no reason to believe that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, for instance, are running a child prostitution ring out of Comet Pizza in D.C., or that the Deep State is in league with them. I’ll leave such theories to the fevered psyches of the right.

Still, the Miss Marple in us is left to puzzle over some alarming behavior by Trump when it comes to Russia. How do we explain that he apparently continues to accept the word of Putin over the findings of our highly trained, and demonstrably patriotic intelligence professionals? What was that fawning, beta male behavior in Helsinki all about? Why has he done nothing — nothing! —about the Russian corruption of our elections that is so thoroughly detailed in the Mueller probe? Why does everyone in Trump’s orbit have one lie in common, and that lie is about talking to Russians? I have no real proof that Bad Vlad has something on our President, but it still remains the most viable hypothesis in answering these questions.

Hercule Poirot might be very happy, however, with the trove of evidence for our President’s felonious obstruction of justice. Unfortunately, however, we may never get to that satisfying ending we’ve come to expect from TV whodunits. Mueller’s report lays out the crime with sleaze to spare, but we are denied our outcome by DOJ policy. He done it, alright, and we’ve got the needles to prove it, but it seems we are not permitted to indict a sitting President.

And then there’s Attorney General William Barr. As much as I try, I can’t imagine what motivation he has for misleading the American public. An abiding love for DT? I don’t think so. Material gain? Maybe. A character with such an unclear rationale for his own wrongdoing wouldn’t be much use to DCI Banks. In any mystery I’ve ever seen, an Attorney General might be drawn as a detective’s pain-in-the-ass boss, but in the end he would at least side with the rule of law. Barr, though, is trying to undermine the rule of law by declaring that the needle we found was not a needle at all, but just another piece of hay. That could easily bring our inquiry —and our plot — to a screeching halt.

So, to be clear: there’s a real-life crook in the White House — a felon, in fact. If there ever was a mystery about that, it was solved long ago. But since our crook lives where he does, not even Sherlock Holmes himself can put the cuffs on him. And with the Trump-appointed Attorney General now derelict in his duties, the power to make Trump answer to the law rests with the U.S. Congress. Are they the Hetty Wainthropps and George Gentlys I’ve been waiting for?

I hope so, because otherwise it’s up to me and my fellow citizens…and many of them, it seems, haven’t got a clue.
Poor Tax
Tax breaks for the rich. The concept seems just plain wrong on its face. And yet, they keep passing both houses of Congress and getting signed into law by (Republican) presidents. It’s just so stupid.

In fact this whole tax thing in general, where money is amassed in huge quantities, then taken away, then given back — it’s an enormous drain on our economy. Wouldn’t it be better just to let the rich keep all their money?

I mean, really. If it weren’t for rich people — and those other great people our, country’s great corporations — where would we all be? Jobless, hopeless, utterly screwed.

And so, here is my modest proposal: Forget tax breaks! Forget taxes! Instead, eliminate the middleman and simply have the poor make direct payments to the rich. Like a tribute, sort of, or a special “thank you” for all those jobs? It would be voluntary, of course, because we live in a free society. Or, if not voluntary, then at least withheld from wages so we’d hardly miss it.

Everyone would benefit…eventually. Or their next of kin, if it came to that.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon