Comeback for truth? Criminal comeuppance for Trump’s reign of terror, impoverished for lying?

A tsunami of criminal indictments, buoyed by massive civil penalties – who cares then if Trump ends up a jailbird?

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Considering five punishing years wherein Truth was pommeled, knocked silly and almost knocked out, let’s applaud its remarkable, surprisingly rapid comeback. “Science is back” declares the Washington Post, as the newly-approved EPA chief, Michael Regan, commits to “scientific integrity” and using factual reality  to “move forward and make some very important decisions.” Downright radical, a reality-based EPA supporting depoliticized regulators committed to making “significant strides:” to lower greenhouse emissions, improve air and water quality PLUS “create lots of jobs in a fair and equitable manner.” What an epic reversal from Trump’s mania to magnify greenhouse gasses, poison what we breathe and drink, and lessen work safety standards – all the while letting job losses go through the roof. Wonder to behold? There’s no conflict between stronger regulations, cleaner resources and job growth?

White House truth-telling on the whole is back. Find any terrible Biden fibs, say, in his prime time address? One “exaggeration” and two “misleading” claims, sniffs the NY Times, so modest and inconsequential they didn’t budge the Trumpometer. Really, what’s this new guy trying to pull? Name one policy whopper from Biden since taking over vs. the endless (ongoing) torrent of Trumpian mendacity that 1) expanded the pandemic disease and countless deaths, 2) fed fake patriotic fervor inciting our worst civil insurrection, and 3) maxed out deadly hate crimes against black, Hispanic and Asian minorities. What a vote of confidence for government — and all change needed was one lousy national vote?

Overcoming his record, Biden tells the truth

As intended, Trump lies stoked disgust, hostility, and hatred – mocking reality with crude smears and cruder sneers. I know, Biden talks in liberal code that only elitist Dem predators can decode: round up those babies, start the BBQ, and get the marinade going. As Trump was to Obama, Biden is to Trump: not one crime, no impeachable offenses, no corruption. Okay, it’s early. Plus, compared to Pence, is there one meaningful lie yet from VP Harris, despite sometimes having to play the attack-dog role?

Torrential lying abominates any democratic system, feeding fanaticism and assaulting reality. Like a rising, contagion-filled flood, political lying infects and poisons public life, elections, and governance. Ask Moscow Mitch, who corralled only rightwing lie in four years: that Trump wasn’t responsible for the insurrection. No decent democracy endures without relative majority agreement on consensual reality – across common knowledge and values. How can democracy survive without confidence in the government voters hire? That way lies more sectarian divisions, the tyranny of deranged minorities, and violent prospects. Though Trumpism still stands for criminal insurgency, the worst has passed. For one thing, the Disgraced One seethes and plots with only 37% national approval. The adult majority is back in control, having dispatched the unalloyed corruption of an entire party – pitifully reduced to obstruction, sabotage and perfidy.

Sleazy politicians, sexual harassers, “innocent” criminals, and dicey CEOs, plus FOX pundits, all knowably fudge the truth, whether by cherrypicking, indirection, or weasel words. Most usually escape punishment for lying, and those caught usually trap themselves with moronic coverups. Because lying isn’t strictly illegal (except with fraudulent financial statements, voting registration, or committing slander/libel) and there is no official, empowered Truth Commission, lying won’t exit politics.

But wait, Trump’s sordid lying spree could now get him convicted – and that’s news. If lying proves intent or state of mind before criminal actions, that testimony could sink a lawless president guilty (and stupidly on a taped phone!!) of trying to corrupt a GA election official. Yes, the Liar of all political liars, the Cheater of all election cheaters, should not get away with stiff arming state vote certification. Georgia remains the best shot to convict and seize truckloads of Trump’s unholy dollars, with NY close behind.

Lying as vital criminal testimony

The linkage of a blackmail conviction to public lying is an important, rare positive oozing up from four nightmare years. Relying on an old Ku Klux Klan law that forbids blocking elected officials from carrying out mandated duties, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) started federal litigation against the demoted president, his son Don Jr., his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.). Is there any doubt this creepy gang conspired to impede Congress from discharging official mandates with mob violence? Point, game and match.

What if the post-insurrection, Trumpian propaganda is the icing on the conviction cake, exposing motive, mindset and the opposite of remorse? Per the Washington Post, “As civil and criminal proceedings press forward, the CPAC speech and others like it could be admissible in court as evidence to shed light on Trump’s intent in inciting the attack on the Capitol.” Swalwell’s new suit joins a matching one by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) again Trump and Giuliani plus the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Is there a better path towards justice, proving no one is above the law?

People forget just how much democratic institutions depend on good faith. Mostly trusting politicians is as necessary as believing election tabulations are legitimate – otherwise, Trump succeeds as the cancerous, super-spreader poisoning the idea of functional government. The Trump assault on the election exactly matches his negligent dismissals of science, the pandemic, even the indisputable importance of masks and isolation. Inciting the insurrection parallels the death trip “medical” advice he dished out, pushing bleach, disinfectants, or hydroxychloroquine as lunatic Covid cures.

Justice separate from jail time

There are other civil blessings separate from criminal convictions: enough lawsuits (and there are almost 30 now) will cost Trump much family fortune – exactly what he tried often illegally to grow every day in office. Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance listed longterm positives: whether or not Trump gets indicted, “any criminal process would be lengthy and involve years of appeals. Civil lawsuits provide an alternate path to learning the truth and achieving a measure of accountability. I am reminded that the Ku Klux Klan was broken in Alabama not by criminal prosecutions but by a civil lawsuit that led to its bankruptcy.”

Ah, what a thought: a tsunami of criminal indictments, plus massive civil penalties – then who cares if Trump ends up a jailbird? Who won’t relish the entire Trump brood on the brink of bankruptcy and dishonor, let alone pauperism for the rich. Bloomberg already projects pandemic impacts and crushing blows to the Trump brand cost him upwards of $700 million in lost assets, reducing his estimated worth in 2016 ($3 billion) to just over $2.3 billion. Reality is a sobering master, and now let justice return to prominence, with this most logical, consequential outcome – legal bills mounting to the sky for all of Trump’s remaining days.

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Robert S. Becker
For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.

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