It's true, folks, I was actually rooting for Smollett to beat the rap. Credit: Dominick D / FLICKR

In the days since a Cook County jury declared Jussie Smollett guilty, guilty, guilty I’ve been wondering how Republicans will use the verdict to squeeze even more money from the suckers and saps who finance the MAGA cause.

This ongoing shakedown of MAGA by MAGA is something I know a lot about. As I receive no fewer than a dozen or so e-mail shakedowns, I mean solicitations, for various MAGA movements every hour.

Yes, it’s true. In the course of a day, I can expect a solicitation, or two or three, from the likes of Donald Trump, Junior Trump, Stephen Bannon, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, and more. Many more.

I don’t know what sins I committed in a previous lifetime to be the recipient of so much love from MAGA, but it must have been a whopper.

Thanks to all these e-mails, I’ve become a bit of an expert on the MAGA shakedown appeal. And so, I wondered—would they use the Smollett guilty verdict to denounce the media, feel sorry for themselves, or blame everything that’s wrong in America on “CRT” (critical race theory)?

In time, they did all three—a real soak-the-suckers trifecta.

It started with a little media bashing. Apparently, the mainstream media—most notably Don Lemon—was either not hard enough on Smollett or didn’t pay enough attention to his case.

I was a little disappointed that they didn’t mention me in any of the e-mails. First of all, I could use the hits if they linked to my column or podcast in their fundraising appeals.

And second of all—I went well beyond anything Don Lemon or Rachel Maddow had to say about this case. I was actually rooting for Smollett to beat the rap.

I’m not really proud of this. And I may be the only person in Chicago who will confess to this sin—well, me and Almas, Rummana Hussain’s younger sister. 

Like Almas, I never, ever, even for one little moment, thought Smollett was innocent. I guess I sorta got to give him credit for mostly keeping his composure under special prosecutor Dan Webb’s withering cross-examination. But, c’mon, the story he told on the stand was about as believable as Mayor Rahm swearing up and down he never saw or knew what was on that Laquan McDonald tape.

It’s just that the crime for which Smollett will be punished—as egregious as it is—seems a lot less hideous in contrast to some of the other unpunished crimes in the news these days.

And now I will do a little bipartisan criminal bashing, starting with MAGA’s crimes.

Kyle Rittenhouse kills two people—shoots them dead. Not only does he walk away, he’s being celebrated as a great American hero.

Tucker Carlson calls him a “sweet kid.” And conservative podcaster Sydney Watson tells Rittenhouse that it’s “kind of impressive” that “of all the people that you shot at, you killed probably two of the worst on the planet.”

Good lord, if Trump takes back the White House, he’ll probably give Rittenhouse the presidential medal of freedom.

And then there’s the aforementioned Mayor Rahm. He buries evidence of Laquan McDonald’s murder and gets rewarded by being nominated to serve as ambassador to Japan.

Oops, I should say “allegedly” buried evidence of murder. Guess we’ll just have to see what the city turns over in regards to my FOIA request on this matter.

But Smollett makes up a hate crime? Oh, the outrage. The opprobrium. The outcry. You’d think Smollett was the first guy to tell a lie around here.

Yes, Smollett should be punished for what he did. He made it more difficult for real hate crime victims to be heard or believed. But, c’mon people, you don’t really think that protecting future hate crime victims is what’s motivating MAGA’s hysteria.

Hell, no. They see this as an opportunity to turn themselves into the victims. As though the history of race relations going back to the slave ships of 1619 was all about crimes against white people.

And then there’s the local outrage, starting with Mayor Rahm. After Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx clumsily (to put it mildly) dropped the charges against Smollett, Rahm felt no hesitation to go on any talk show that would have him so he could denounce Smollett. As opposed to his hesitancy to say, much less do anything about, the video that showed Laquan McDonald getting killed.

He didn’t want to politicize the Laquan McDonald investigation, remember? But he had no problem politicizing the Smollett one.

Every now and then the leaders of our fair city work themselves up into a lather over some unsympathetic target who nobody likes and is relatively helpless to fight back.

It reminds me of the fury during the impeachment of Governor Blagojevich back in 2009. By then Blago had lost his power and was universally despised, so all the pols who used to kiss his ass felt free to pound away.

Perhaps beating Blago made them feel self-righteous about taking a stand against corruption. And meanwhile they didn’t say a thing about old Alderman Ed Burke continuing as chairman of the council’s Finance Committee while allegedly shaking down city vendors to hire his property tax appeal law firm.

Hold it! This just in! A fundraising e-mail from Cicely Davis, a conservative Black Republican running against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in Minnesota.

“The details of the Jussie Smollett case are as sensational as they are disturbing,” Davis writes in her e-mail. “For years, progressives have sought to weaponize identity politics and wield it as a tool of political power. You’ve likely heard many of the associated phrases bandied around, such as critical race theory (CRT).”

Bingo! Told you it was only a matter of time before they blamed it all on CRT.

Thinking about Blago gives me an idea for Smollett. Blago’s now one of Trump’s strongest supporters in Illinois. As such, he’s won over MAGA. I contend he’d be a frontrunner to win the Republican nomination for governor if his impeachment conviction didn’t prevent him from running.

My advice to Jussie is make like Blago. Go full MAGA. 

As Blago has learned, MAGA loves former Democrats who tell them what they want to hear almost as much as they love Trump himself.

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