Black Rats

When I read about so many of our politicians who are so filthy with corruption and greed, it hits me that there is a giant black rat filling up our pleasant democracy and stinking up the place, and that rat is corruption. And I'm sick of it.


Black Rats
Photo: Banksy

A black sculpture of a giant rat was one of the featured new pieces at the Seattle Art Museum's reopening party. The museum reopened after over a year of renovations and expansions, at a cost of $1 billion, and the party was lavish. Admission was free, by invitation only, and there were butlers with hors d'oeuvres, free beer and a live band.

Upstairs, the giant black rat in the middle of the room was both offensive and poignant. I am not an expert on art, but I must say, the rat sculpture confused me. As a non-artist, I had to wonder why the rat was there, offending what was otherwise a very pleasant room.

But this morning, when I read about so many of our politicians who are so filthy with corruption and greed, it hits me that there is a giant black rat filling up our pleasant democracy and stinking up the place, and that rat is corruption. And I'm sick of it. Sick, sick, sick.

I used to be a lawyer in the federal government, and let me just say that although I was the smallest of fish in a vast and powerful organization, I saw corruption all around me, and it was there before George W. Bush came to office. The corruption now goes all the way from top to bottom, and vice versa. But hell, I wasn't really surprised. My law school (like most business schools today) was rife with cheating and favoritism, and there were multiple scandals and investigations, and one guy was expelled.

The black rat reminds me of my ex-boss at Social Security, who had the same sickening personality as Alberto Gonzales. It reminds me of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, and Duke Cunningham. It reminds me of the Democratic Leadership Council and Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton and William Jefferson.

Like my father and mother before me, I am a long time liberal. I love my country, and until recently, I loved the federal government. I still love our political system, and the rule of law. I even like cops. I respect and admire our men and women in uniform overseas, and I believe in humility, peace and justice for all.

But I despise multi-millionaire, religious charlatans, the filthy, slimy, black rats on the tv screen preaching the end of the world. Those hypocritical fools worship the almighty dollar above all else, and all the while they lie about their so-called family values and get butt-fucked by meth-dealing gay prostitutes. And I despise the endlessly greedy CEOs and stockbrokers and arms dealers.

When I was a child, my family took a vacation to Washington, DC, and we saw the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, both under glass, in the Capitol dome. I saw moon rocks and the Spirit of St. Louis, and we climbed the Washington Monument and Lincoln's statue. We missed the Jefferson Memorial, but toured Monticello. And that's why it pains me to see the rats today all over Washington, defiling those noble buildings, burrowing in the walls, crapping on the carpets.

On the first floor of the brand new Seattle Art Museum are seven white cars hanging from the ceiling. Each is positioned so that it looks like the progression of a white car flipping over, end to end. I liked it, but I had no opinion at first. It just seemed groovy and weird.

But the tumbling cars are more than weird. They are metaphors for civilization. The installation is our society reeling out of control.

While New Orleans lies in ruins, Cheney and his evil minion Bush have systematically destroyed our military, and thereby our ability to defend ourselves, by starting an illegal and immoral war in the Middle East, against a country that never attacked us or even threatened us. It is obvious that Halliburton's Cheney perpetrated the crime of the Iraq War to choke the supply of oil, driving up oil prices, allowing ExxonMobil and Halliburton to make record-breaking profits.

The President has confessed on television to serious felonies, but none of the rats are brave enough to impeach this man who behaves like a dictator. None dare accuse the man whose policies have literally mimicked every play out of Hitler's playbook.

The rats have looted our US Treasury with tax cuts to the wealthiest ten percent and one percent of Americans. They looted FEMA, and Medicare, and almost looted Social Security. They looted the Treasury with their trillion-dollar war. They eviscerated our National Guard.

Meanwhile, the environment is collapsing worldwide, millions of Americans go without health care, and public schools are closing. Post offices and libraries are cutting back their hours and their staff, and the cost of a loaf of bread keeps going up. Bushism is Reaganism run amok (even David Stockman, the inventor of "trickle-down economics," admitted that Reaganomics was a fraud).

My mother and father have been flying the American flag every day for the last 25 years. They never let the flag touch the ground, or get dirty or ragged. And when their flags get too old, they burn them properly and with dignity, just as they were taught to do when they were children.

My group and I also went to some galleries on the First Thursday tour, and enjoyed other political art. The place with the floor of fresh, pure soil was super-cool. But it was the giant black rat that disturbed me. It reminds me of all the rats, the thieves and sociopaths, that crawl throughout our historic landmarks, quietly destroying the world. We should be chasing them out with brooms and pitchforks.

_Steve Hood is an attorney and an activist for Washington Public Campaigns.