Who Knew What When Redux
I think its safe to say at this point the the patience of the American people is wearing thin. I also think that it is becoming clear that there are deeper questions, not just about Russia and the Trump administration, but also about the obstructionist Republican majority.
Remember all the way back in September, when President Obama called together the Gang of12 leaders to address the evolving Russia scandal in a bi-partisan manner? Way back then, before the election, before the nominations, before the recusals and resignations, when America still had Democratic elections and some degree of respect and standing in the world, there was Obama holding out a stick, saying to the Republican leadership: let’s get on top of this, together?
Remember how Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell decided it was in the best interest of America not to come public with the allegations of Russian interference?
Instead, he threatened Obama, saying that any public disclosure by the White House would be construed as partisan interference in the election.
This skewed notion of partisanship, advanced by McConnell and his fellow Republicans, put Obama in a bad way. If he moved forward without their support, and they knew he wouldn’t take that risk, then the election that Hillary was presumed to win would be tarnished. Their obstructionist ploy had payed off once again.
But why would they resist the President’s bipartisan appeal while our Democracy hung in the balance? Why take the low road?
You would think, from all the rhetoric, that the Republicans, after all, were for fair and impeccable elections, and would in no way stand for interference by a foreign power, much less by Russia.
How could they ignore the consequences of looking the other way?
They must have known what was at stake, given the recent hacking at the DNC, and also by the nature of the intelligence they were seeing.
What about the sanctity of our democratic elections? If I didn’t know any better I’d say they didn’t care. I’d say they were prepared to win at all costs.
So I guess the question becomes: Who knew what when, and what’s being done about it?
The short answer, of course, is that the Republican leadership knew from having already seen the intelligence prior to the election, that there were improper contacts between certain would-be members of Trump’s cabinet, and they decided to unanimously approve them anyway.
The long answer is what we’ve been experiencing as a result of this impudence, as fallout.
What we are seeing is a slow trickle, a duck and cover operation whereby the Administration and its allies in the GOP are running damage control as the Russian scandal unfolds, confident in the end, that though they may suffer casualties along the way in terms of appointments, their primary agenda will remain intact, because ultimately it is the conservative faction in congress (with the backing of their chief benefactors in the private sector) that is orchestrating the new era of American politics that we see unfolding with every Presidential order, and every piece of legislation that seeks to de-regulate the environment, privatize our public lands, or compromise the social safety net. This is for all the marbles, and even the Republicans must be thinking that this might be the last hurrah - that there will be no more chances on this scale to pillage and plunder - and you can be sure that while the face of the cabinet may change, what’s inside does not. Its the same old, moth-eaten, trickle-down, pro-corporate, shrink-wrapped citizens united, stack the court blather. Follow the money.
Which brings me to Wilbur Ross, who wore $500 velvet slippers to Trump’s speech to Congress the other night. He’s the next domino. Mark my words. Its all right there: his financial controlling interest in the Cyprus bank where the Russian Oligarchs (we really need to start referring to them as the mafiosa that they are) park their money. And again, congress knew of the connections ahead of time. There were letters of inquiry from congressional Democrats that went unanswered. The White House went dark on the subject. So why waste our time and money and appoint him?
Are Republicans engaging in the strategy of let’s just throw everything at them and see what sticks? Governance by sheer overload?
And what’s being done about it really? This who-knew-what-when business reminds us of another time, when certain people were eventually held accountable. Its on the lips of every newscaster and budding prosecutor in the country, but are we going far enough?
Did Mitch McConnell and his posse have knowledge before the election that Russian associates of the Trump campaign were intervening in favor of Trump and the Republican Party? They sure acted like it when they threatened a partisan brawl, if Obama didn’t agree, then and there, to sweep it under the rug, and proceed to the election like nothing was amiss. So what are we doing about it? The elephant in the room?
Clearly, McConnell and his cohorts stood only to gain. Which brings up another point: We cannot continue to let our obstructionist leaders investigate themselves and each other. They are incapable of honesty when the foundations of their existence are imperiled, and who can blame them? Its a self-preservation instinct, but we have to recognize it, and quit letting them off the hook. That goes for the media and the American public both. I believe we are at one of those historical, defining moments in the history of, not only our country, but of the world - just think back to the day of the Women’s March as it unfolded globally and beyond anyone’s expectations. I think its fair to say that on that day the earth shifted a little on its axis. And I think as Americans at this important juncture in our history, its also fair to say that we cannot afford let our leaders sell us short. We have to hold them and ourselves accountable. I mean at some point, don’t we have to ask ourselves, how does this keep happening? Why do we keep letting our leadership off so easily? One domino at a time? I mean didn’t the Republicans knowingly put our country in jeopardy just so they could win? Isn’t that treason?
How desperate are we? Do we really need to believe that they know what’s best? Why do we cling to the notion that they have our interests at heart? Can anyone still believe that? In other words, what are we holding onto?
I do believe we are in a moment in this country. It is in the air, and it is in our town halls and it is in our homes and offices and schools and churches and now finally our media. But most importantly, it is in each of us, and we must take steps now to properly define this moment, and not let ourselves be ruled by it.
We need to define who we are as a people, as Americans, as citizens. The rest of the world is waiting and watching, and the well-being of this planet is hanging in the balance. Imagine if our founders had never sat down to write the Declaration or the Bill of Rights - what would the world would look like, never mind America?
Imagine if the civil rights movement, or the suffragette movement, or the labor movement had never happened.
What would the country look like without the Emancipation Proclamation?
Those were moments too. Moments where we sometimes had to tear ourselves apart and put ourselves back together. Moments where we put our collective selves on the block. We as a nation. We as a country ruled by law. We the People. And we didn’t always know how it was going to turn out, but we came through anyway, because as Doctor King said, the time is always right to do what is right.
He knew we were in a moment.
We like to say over and over again that one of our defining strengths is that we are a nation of laws. But it does not serve justice to back into those laws, simply to avoid being caught, to hide under the protections that those laws afford. Its time for a bi-partisan, independent, citizen commission to launch a full investigation into our Government’s collusion with Russia. And if that investigation takes us all the way back to Senate leadership then so be it.
I think the American public is getting tired of watching a bunch of beltway lawyers play whack-a-mole.
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