Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Come For the Swamp, Stay for the Everglades

     When I was growing up in Tampa, Florida in the 60's, it seemed every other damned thing I saw on TV were fanboats blowing their way through the everglades. It seemed like a horribly noisy contraption to a visit a glorified swamp that was better left to itself.
     Trump might as well be ferried around on one of those airboats instead of the presidential limousine because he's turned the United States into a gigantic everglade.
     Indeed, the man who once famously boasted he would "drain the swamp", and was wholeheartedly believed by 63,000,000 mostly inbred mouth-breathers, has instead not done that. And rather than restock the swamp's old alligators for new and improved ones, he's actually expanded that swamp so that the United States is now a massive everglade.
     In fact, as Rachel Maddow asked last night, how can we call out corruption if our "president" isn't even ashamed of his own and announces his corruption on Twitter and if we have become part of that culture? Take the case of the Trump inaugural fund, which raised a whopping $107,000,000 from corporate donors such as Sheldon Adelson and Robert Murray. It's essentially been revealed as nothing more than a massive slush fund. a financial digestive tract, if you will, into which bribes are crammed and favors get extruded out the other end. Toward the end, this is what Maddow had said:
This is like the Platonic ideal of corruption. Murray pays Trump — and Trump uses the presidency to direct a public agency to pay Murray. To prop up Murray’s business, use federal resource, use the taxpayers’ resources, use the country’s assets to reward the guy that gave him money.
     And unlike the inaugural fund, which is being protected by an iron veil of secrecy by both conspirator and federal investigator alike, the news of Murray Energy essentially buying a massive raft of 16 favors for a mere $300,000 from Robert Murray after the inauguration is not a scoop on a par with Watergate. In fact, it doesn't even come close to reaching the level of Deflategate. And that's because Trump nakedly and brazenly announced on his Twitter account just two days ago that the Tennessee Valley Authority's Paradise #3 should continue using its half century-old coal firing plant. A plant, incidentally, that uses Murray Energy coal.
     And this is Trump's dubious genius. He's nakedly open with his corruption and robs any journalist of the opportunity to get a scoop that would have exponentially more power than a simple admission of corruption on a social media platform.
     You admit to your corruption, then there's no comeuppance, in other words.
     It's akin to what  George Washington Plunkitt, a 19th century Tammany Hall boss, once described as "honest graft." It was different from "dishonest graft" in which one or more parties takes money from the public trough and gives nothing back to the community. "Honest graft," averred Plunkitt, was or should be perfectly acceptable because, in the very act of enriching oneself, one also gives something back to the community. It was a bedrock of Tammany Hall philosophy staunchly believed in from the bosses and sachems to the lowest ward heelers who did the street-level enforcement. Boss Tweed enriched himself until he was richer than Croesus but the city got in return school, hospitals and libraries that still stand to this day.
     Trump, never a man burdened with a surfeit of intelligence or critical thinking skills, obviously thinks he meets the Plunkittian definition of "honest graft." But it doesn't. It meets the definition of the obverse, or "dishonest graft" and the infamously corrupt Plunkitt would have called Trump on it immediately. Trump took bribes laundered through the committee of an inauguration that had long since faded into history and in return slashed countless regulatory jobs and slashed countless more energy regulations to make a coal baron's wish list come true.
     Boss Tweed finally had his downfall in 1871. So why hasn't Trump had his after over two years of naked public corruption? It's as if Trump and most of his cronies are coated with this weird alien Teflon that inoculates them from any Congressional oversight or prosecutorial comeuppance.
     And this is where Trump's "dubious genius" comes in. He seems to think if he's open about his own personal corruption, he'll be forgiven or people will soon forget about it like a seven year-old admitting to his benevolent parents that he broke a cheap vase bought at Walmart.
     It's not supposed to work that way nor should it. Trump's inaugural was held nearly 25 months ago yet donations, millions in donations, kept coming in months after the festivities. Why? And why did it take New York federal investigators all these months to get around to investigating where a whopping $40,000,000 of that $107,000,000 went? Indeed, the federal response to this has been sluggish at best.
     And to those of us who still care and are angered that our government and its resources, starting with the Oval Office, are being sold to coal barons and other self-interested psychopaths are being given the impression that this is the new way of doing things. That as long as you're open with your "honest" graft, all will be forgiven even as the environment once again reaches pollution levels unseen since the 1960s and political corruption reaches levels unseen since the 1860's.


At February 17, 2019 at 4:55 PM, Anonymous CC said...

The entire country has become like a cheap vase bought at Wal-mart. Or Amazon.


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