The Russians Are Coming 


There was a package addressed to me on our front porch the other day. This is not an uncommon occurance at our house in this, the age of Amazon. I've even been surprised by something I ordered and forgot about — perhaps after a couple of cocktails. Like 12 pounds of Benton's bacon, or that $14 Larry Dahlberg bass fly that appeared one day. And we shall never speak again of the blue folding deck chair.

So, anyway, I opened the package, not sure what to expect, and found a DVD (so practical!) of the old movie The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming. I was momentarily puzzled, but then I realized it had to have come from my Trump-loving Arkansas friend, Maurice Lipsey. The note inside confirmed it — something along the lines of, "nothing new to see here."

Maurice, a former Memphian, sent me a big safety pin after Trump won last November, and urged me to find a "safe space." And he's sent a couple other gag gifts in recent months, all poking fun at my misery and frustration with the idiot currently serving as our president.

On Maurice's birthday, I sent him a video of a woman singing "Happy Birthday" in Russian.

But, unlike his hero, Maurice isn't an idiot. He's truly a great guy, even if his politics aren't, in my opinion. I've known him for 12 years or so, ever since I started going over to fly-fish at his place, Fat Possum Hollow, on the Little Red River. Maurice has built a dozen or so nice cabins on the stream, practically in the shadow of Sugar Loaf Mountain. I go for a long weekend every couple months or so. It's my happy place.

After a day on the stream, most of the visitors end up in Maurice's "bar" in his barn, drinking beverages and talking fishing, Grizzlies, Tigers, Memphis, Razorbacks, and who knows what else. It's a nice way to wind down in a place where you don't have to drive home — and Maurice has a great jukebox. If it gets down to the two of us, late of an evening, we might venture into politics, where we will cordially but vociferously disagree on just about everything.

But that's the thing — we're cordial. I recognize that he's a sentient American with the right to hold whatever (misguided) political views he wants to. He treats me the same. Yes, we make fun of each other's politics, but we don't call each other names, and we end the evening with a hug, as friendly as when we started. We need more of that kind of interaction in this country. Maybe somebody somewhere will even change somebody else's mind.

Through talking with Maurice and a couple of other friends, I sort of get how some folks can find Trump appealing. They believe — as Trump, his allies and supporters, and the official state media (Fox News) would have us believe — that the Russia stuff is all made up, just sour grapes; that the Fake News media and the Deep State and Hillary Clinton are conspiring to bring down a great American president. Lots of people buy into that narrative and believe it with all their heart. To which I say, "Really?"

I believe, on the other hand, that the autocratic, strong-man cult that is being promulgated by Mr. Trump will eventually be brought down by the rule of law and the investigation of multiple nefarious Russian political and business connections. I believe Jared Kushner was in on this up to his little eyeballs, as were Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., Carter Page, Mike Flynn, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, all of whom have publicly and repeatedly lied about their meetings and interactions with Russians. Innocent people don't do that.

And I believe Trump is trying to "bad vibe" and insult Sessions into quitting, so he can name a loyalist toady to that supposedly independent position — a loyalist who will fire special counsel Robert Mueller. I believe we are headed for a Constitutional crisis in the coming months, as all this shakes down.

But no, I don't believe the Russians are coming. I believe they're already here.

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