Trump and his at­tempts to be­head the ‘thou­sand-leg­ger’

The Saline Courier Weekend - - OPINION - GE­ORGE D. ELLIS

When I was in grade school we all went to a summer church camp on Petit Jean Moun­tain. At the time, it was in­fested with a rather large cater­pil­lar with lots and lots of legs.

We called the crea­ture a thou­sand-leg­ger. If I ever knew its real name, I’ve long since for­got­ten it. The thou­sand-leg­gers were ap­par­ently harmless. I never knew of anyone to be bit­ten.

As soon as we saw one in the leaves and rocks we would scream “thou­san­d­leg­ger!” The girls would screech and shiver, and the boys would swing into ac­tion, chasing the poor crit­ter, but rarely catch­ing it. On the rare oc­ca­sion that one was caught, it was slain quickly and mer­ci­fully. Sir Gala­had was our role model and sure nuff, that thou­sand-leg­ger was a real dragon.

This week, we watched Don­ald Trump at­tempt to slay thou­sand-leg­gers. In an ef­fort to stop the af­ter­math of the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Trump has be­gun to scream. He has even taken to re­fer­ring to him­self in the third per­son. Freud would no doubt make some ob­ser­va­tions about that. The pol­i­tics of griev­ance has been el­e­vated by Trump to a new high.

First, he’s had some harsh things to say about the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee vote to hold At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr in con­tempt. Trump has lit­tle knowl­edge of gov­ern­ment, but he un­der­stands me­dia, and I’m sure he knew that the Democrats would over-play their hand.

They started in Wed­nes­day morn­ing, and finally got to a vote that af­ter­noon.

It was a to­tal waste of time. Both sides used the time to speechify. At the end of the day, it was a party-line vote. No minds were changed. The Democrats just could not shut up. “That’s what they do,” as one com­men­ta­tor put it. That said it was the cor­rect call.

Barr is con­de­scend­ing, smug and unc­tu­ous and went out of his way to of­fend com­mit­tee mem­bers. He dissed a co-equal branch of gov­ern­ment and should be held ac­count­able.

How the con­tempt ci­ta­tion will be en­forced is a mys­tery.

Sec­ond, the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee has sub­poe­naed Don­ald Trump Jr. It seems that the Mueller Re­port is at odds with Ju­nior’s previous tes­ti­mony re­gard­ing the in­fa­mous Trump Tower meet­ing and other get-to­geth­ers with Rus­sian agents. He had said he had only “pe­riph­eral” knowl­edge of those events.

The com­mit­tee wants the dis­crep­ancy ex­plained and one would think that Ju­nior would jump at the chance to do that.

In­stead, he’s threat­en­ing, as this is writ­ten, not to show up, dis­hon­or­ing the sub­poena, or if he does show up, tak­ing the Fifth Amend­ment against self-in­crim­i­na­tion.

Bad idea.

A former law part­ner and ace crim­i­nal de­fense at­tor­ney taught me that tak­ing the Fifth Amend­ment was as bad as com­mit­ting per­jury in the eyes of the pub­lic. Prob­a­bly shouldn’t be, but it is.

Third, Trump’s tax sit­u­a­tion is breath­tak­ingly stun­ning. The New York Times got its hands on a pe­riod from the late 1980s and 1990s, and found that for eight years he wrote off a bil­lion dol­lar loss.

Yes that’s bil­lion with a B.

Ex­cept for two years, he paid no tax. None.


For the two years that he did pay taxes, they were min­i­mal. This, of course, will have lit­tle im­pact on his solid core of vot­ers. With all of the good eco­nomic news, he’s still hov­er­ing down around 35 to 40 per­cent. No mat­ter what good he does (very lit­tle), or bad he does (a lot), his per­cent­age num­bers re­main the same.

Fourth, and this is the big and se­ri­ous “thou­sand-leg­ger,” Trump con­tin­ues to demon­strate an in­tense dis­like for rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­racy. It goes along with his ad­mi­ra­tion for banana repub­lic and third-world dic­ta­tors and tyrants.

Mo­hamad bin Salmon had a Wash­ing­ton Post re­porter killed, but that’s fine with Trump because they’re buy­ing airplanes from us.

The pres­i­dent of the Philip­pines, Duterte, has his cit­i­zens gunned down rou­tinely. Putin is a mur­derer. The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, killed an Amer­i­can pris­oner. The list is long. But Trump likes these peo­ple, in part because they don’t have to put up with a leg­isla­tive branch of gov­ern­ment.

That’s a very large thou­sand-leg­ger to be slain in Don­ald Trump’s world.

Ge­orge D. Ellis is a Ben­ton at­tor­ney. He can be con­tacted at gel­lis­in­ben­ton

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