Woodward, Mattis, and Coats: the West Coast is burning, and those three are to blame.

The pathway from those three men to the current state of the America West is neither complicated nor tortuous. It's a straight line that picks up others along the way, figures as disparate as John Bolton and Lindsey Graham, Kellyanne Conway and Nikki Haley, Susan Collins and Tom Cotton.


They're all responsible for the state of this country today: they knew what needed to be done and did nothing.


Imagine if an investigative reporter possessed a recording of a Japanese general discussing an attack on a naval base in 1941...and saved the information to write a book in 1942. How would that literary effort have been received? And would we have lauded the author for coming clean, or screamed treason to atone for the 2500 dead at Pearl Harbor. Or if an author knew of the attack on the Cole, or 9/11, or Newtown, or even had knowledge that a new plane hid a deadly flaw but "saved" the information for a book, or an article, or a blog. How would we respond?


Add together the deaths from all those incidents and we arrive at staggering toll of nearly 6000 lives lost. As horrible as that may be—and as much as the surviving family members suffered—contrast that with 190,000 lives lost to Covid-19 so far. Imagine seventy-five Pearl Harbors, one a day from Dec 7 to the end of February. How would we have responded to the ceaseless loss of life if we learned it could have been stopped?


In Woodward's Book Rage, Gen. Jim Mattis, Mr. Trump’s former defense secretary, is quoted as describing Mr. Trump as “dangerous” and “unfit,” while Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence at the time, believed that Moscow had “something” on the president. They even agreed mutually that it was time to take collective action. Neither ever did.


Oh yes, the fires—what experts refer to as the predictable consequence of climate change. I'll be revisiting that because they do not exist in a vacuum.


A recent survey places the United States at 28th in the world in the area of social progress, worse off than when the index began nine years ago. Only two other countries have slipped: Brazil and Hungary. Specifically the United States ranks No. 1 in the world in quality of universities, but No. 91 in access to quality basic education. The U.S. leads the world in medical technology, yet ranks 97th in access to quality health care, statistically similar to Jordan and Albania. (Read more here.)


Trump is not the cause of all this, or of the well-documented rises in depression and mental distress in America, but he has been the accelerant; and people like Mattis, Coats, the enablers from his own party, and now Bob Woodward knew about it and did nothing. They stood and watched, held their tongues, while their country abandoned social mores, countenanced all manner of racism, xenophobia, and misogyny, and lowered its expectations of a better life ahead.


And then there are the fires.


Another upshot of the Trump presidency which an impeachment or an invocation of the 25th Amendment could have ended, has been our ignorance of climate warnings and our willingness to grant the Trump administration free rein over the eradication of any law or statute or custom designed to slow global warming. Polluters can burn, dump, and buy more of whatever they please, and our only recourse is to breathe it in and—in this awful September of 2020—watch helplessly while thousands of families lose their homes in Washington, Oregon, and California, then add those to the thousands who lost their homes in 2019 and 2018. In Washington State alone, an area the size of Connecticut is gone. And like the pandemic, the fires rage on with no end in sight.


We've all enjoyed scapegoating Jim Comey for his well-intentioned but botched investigation, and blaming Hillary for not campaigning in Wisconsin and not being liked enough; but at a time when Covid-19 continues to ravage the country, when the president has dishonored America's military, and when yet another exposé threatens to blow the lid off the Trump presidency (it won't), let's make sure some of the blame lands where it belongs, with people who knew and lied like Conway, who knew and remained silent like Mattis, and who knew but had a book deal and some editing to do instead, like Woodward.

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