In Post-Trump America, There Will Need To Be An Opposition Party To The Democrats; It Will NOT Be The Republican Party

Stone cold fact: the Republican Party will not survive Donald Trump. A lot of them knew that going in. Lindsey Graham, for instance:

As former Republican Rick Wilson put it, “Everything Trump Touches Dies”. He could have added “Or gets destroyed.” They may not have known just how corrupt Donald Trump was, just how tied in to Russia — but they suspected as much. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously said to a roomful of the GOP leadership during the 2016 GOP convention that “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump“. Paul Ryan, then Speaker of the House was unsurprised. He made everyone there swear to keep it “in the family”.

Thing is, plenty of Republicans were already compromised by Russia. They’d been taking Russian money into their campaign coffers forever — some via the NRA. In some cases — Lindsey Graham’s, I bet — the compromises went even deeper. It isn’t just inconvenient and suspicious campaign money that’s making Lindsey the ultimate Trumpian lap dog. I bet if Senator John McCain were to return from the dead and visit his old pal Lindsey, his old pal couldn’t look McCain in the eye.

But then, can the Republican Party really look America in the eye anymore?

Republicans are now the party of putting children in cages and police violence and mask politicization and racism and sexism and sanctimony and hypocrisy and white male Christian supremacy. They’re the party that has no interest in following the Constitution or the rule of law. They’re the party that puts children in cages, takes pandemic relief money out of the pockets of its struggling constituents and puts it into the pockets of its wealthiest friends.

Republicans are the party that says voting by mail is “dangerous” — even as they vote by mail. They’re the party that gives lip service to protecting elections while doing everything they can to limit who votes. They’ll protect themselves from the coronavirus pandemic but have no interest in protecting you.

If Republicans were a literal salesman going door to door, he’d be selling poison wrapped in an American flag.

But, the GOP’s problem is the same one a salesman has. What do you do when no one wants what you’re selling? The salesman is shit out of luck. The GOP however is unusually innovative when it comes to corruption. Republicans are used to no one wanting them so they developed a way to shove their product down America’s throats.

As the Republicans will learn, while that may work for the first moment or two, we’re in fighting back mode now.

The Whig Party was active from the 1830’s to the 1850’s. They were progressive in many ways; among other things, they were strong advocates of the rule of law. Slavery split them in two, the norther Whigs being completely opposed to it while the southern Whigs were not. The defeat of Whig presidential candidate General Winfield Scott by Democrat Franklin Pierce (keep in mind, Democrats in 1850 were very different from Democrats today) finished them off. The party went out of business, replaced ultimately by what became the nascent Republican Party.

The Republican Party began its life as the more Progressive of the two parties (for a better understanding, read Heather Cox-Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party). Their willful descent into racist policy came about after Nixon’t southern strategy turned all those racist southerners from Dixiecrats into Republicans.

The Republican Party wouldn’t be here if the Whigs had lived on. Similarly, some new group of moderate conservatives will live on once the GOP is formally laid to rest. And, rest assured — the GOP will be formally laid to rest — right alongside the Whigs though I doubt that will make the Whigs happy.

No doubt the Whigs will think — as the Republican Party is buried beside it — “There goes the neighborhood”.

In the end, some conservative party will find its footing and endure — so long as they don’t try to pull the same crap. But the conservative of the future — whatever they call themselves — won’t look a whole lot like the conservative party of right now. They won’t have a choice if they want to endure. America is about make a giant leap to the left.

There’s no conservative way out of this mess. Conservatives keep making that point for us. The Progressive solutions (UBI, health care for all, a playing field that’s actually level) will, in time, become ubiquitous. We’ll even start to think of America as a center-left country.

There’s no good outcome for Republicans or republicanism. They are facing extinction and there’s absolutely nothing they can do to stop it.

Republicans Have Made Themselves The New Face Of Authoritarianism & Treason

Show me a Republican and I’ll show you a traitor.

The Republican Party is making a calculated gamble that they can get away with altering our form of government right in front of our faces — despite the fact that the majority of Americans not only didn’t vote for them to do this, the majority of Americans clearly voted to do the opposite. The GOP intends to create the illusion of democracy while actually ruling the country as permanent authoritarian minority dictators.

Republicans didn’t suddenly hit on the idea of doing this — down deep, conservatives and Republicans have always regarded representative democracy with disdain. The idea of non-white, possibly non-Christian, non-penis-possessing people having political power petrifies these pirates. That’s why the Kochs and the Mercers dug into their pockets to stop such a thing from happening. They employed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to shepherd their plan — first by denying Obama the lifetime appointments to the federal bench to which he (and his voters) were entitled — having WON multiple elections. Then by denying Obama the SCOTUS seat he and his voters were entitled to. Merrick Garland, recall, didn’t get so much as a polite conversation from the Republicans.

When Trump landed among the Republicans in 2016, they did their best to resist — at first. But, being so easily compromised, being so corrupt, the Republican Party quickly fell under Trump’s influence. Russia’s influence. The Republicans knew that too — that Trump and Russia were in it together. During the 2016 GOP convention, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of GOP muckety mucks and announced “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump” to which then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan responded “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

Instead of being patriots — and calling the FBI, the Republicans kept it a secret.

If Bill Barr — the most corrupt AG ever to hold that office (and that includes other corrupt Republican AG’s like John Mitchell (Nixon’s AG who went to jail!) and W’s Alberto Gonzalez. Even when Republicans follow the rule of law, they’re being cynical. They may be following it to the letter but rest assured, at the same time, they’ll be violating its spirit like Kossacks fomenting a pogrom.

There will be coming back from this — for the Republican Party or for the rest of America. Their betrayal is unforgivable. To show these traitors the merest hint of mercy will encourage them to start all over again. The simple fact is — they’ve never been that into “us”. They want what they want and will do whatever it takes to get it.

And they’re arrogant enough — throw in utterly lacking in self awareness — to think they can get away with enslaving the whole nation just like they once did Black people.

Boy, are they in for a shock.

A Lesson On “Cheating”: If You Cheat To Win, It Means “YOU DID NOT WIN”

Some things should be more self-evident than they apparently are. For instance — if I cheat to win at a game, I did not therefore “win” the game. Wins outside the rules do not count as wins. How can they?

Just because the “winner” says he won, that doesn’t mean anything. Cheaters are usually biased toward their cheating. An adulterer who tells his partner he wasn’t cheating isn’t just an adulterer, he’s a liar too. When Donald Trump claims he “won” the 2016 election, he’s both a cheater and a liar. He didn’t win anything; the best that can be said is that Russia won the election for him.

But then, Russia can’t — by law — do any such thing. If Russia helped him in any way, it means Trump did not “win” and we know for a fact that Russia helped him — exposing Hillary Clinton’s stolen emails on request. Donald Trump made his presidency illegitimate right in front of our faces.

The onus is on us for not holding him accountable. Just like the onus is on us for not enforcing the rule of law. That’s not a reflection on the rule of law or its effectiveness, it’s a reflection on us — and our fecklessness.

It’s a reflection on our news media and its refusal to aggregate the most important story any of them will ever cover. When they get to the retrospect part of their careers, an awful lot of American journalists are going to feel profoundly disappointed in themselves. At least they better.

In any other situation, a cheater revealed would be relieved of his spoils. Thieves don’t get to keep what they stole. But, for some reason, a lot of otherwise reasonable Americans have it in their heads that a presidency is different somehow. A stolen presidency is a thing apart — and regardless of how egregious the theft and how damaging the outcome, we’re… “obligated” to maintain everything the criminal did even if it’s antithetical to how the majority of us voted — and even if the criminal’s whole intent was act contrary to what the majority want.

Someone please explain where the logic is in this. Spoiler alert — there isn’t any.

We need to understand a stolen election result as a real, viable thing. It’s not an abstraction beyond real action. If someone cheated to win one of Trump phony beauty pageants, the cheater wouldn’t get to keep her crown, her prizes or any of the money. She’d have to give it back — because it belongs to the REAL winner.

Our 2016 election did not and does not belong to Donald Trump and the Republicans. We’re finally beginning to grasp how easily (and likely) Russians or other malignant actors could have altered voting machine tallies. Any voting machine that connects to the internet is vulnerable. Just like our phones and computers. If someone wants to hack in, they’re likely to get in. And Russia wanted to hack in in the very worst way. The election results belong, in fact, to We The People.

Here’s another thing We The People should remain clear on. As I said, we stopped enforcing the rule of law. That doesn’t mean it ever stopped being in effect. The rule of law has ALWAYS been in effect. Hell, we’ve been using it against people like Reality Winner who was among the first to warn us that Donald Trump and Russia had an overly tight relationship. Various police departments around the country have been “using” (abusing actually) the rule of law as the basis for punishing black and brown people.

Republicans will want us to agree with them that while they were running amok, the rule of law wasn’t in effect so therefore their running amok could’t be criminal. We need to disabuse them of this nonsense. The rule of law didn’t let us down, we let it down. But that’s going to change starting right now. The rule of law has always been in fine working order but it cannot prosecute itself. We are going to not only return to enforcing the rule of law but we will make it explicitly clear: henceforth, we will prosecute the rule of law evenly.

That means any time anyone violates it, they must answer for it. Any time & any one.

That way, we’ll know when people cheat — and, hopefully, we’ll get better at responding to it in real time. It should never again take us four years to realize we’re being bamboozled.

And, once we do realize we’ve been taken? We need to act swiftly so that the criminal acts stop immediately.

Why Doesn’t The American News Media Ever Ask “WHY?”

Our news media tirelessly report every vile utterance that tumbles from Donald Trump’s bloated orange lie hole. On the bright side, at least a few of them have begun to find the courage to stand up to Trump — to refuse to accept his bullshit — refusing to accept the lies. But, unfortunately, most of the press still fears losing access and so refuse to do anything that might anger Trump or his snowflake staff.

When they cut back to the “studio” (whatever & wherever that is these days), the host plus talking heads will ask why Trump behaves this way. They’ll ask why most Republicans continue to follow Trump blindly. They’ll wonder how anyone could run on the things Trump and the Republicans are doing. Some journalists will scratch their heads so hard, they’ll create permanent divots in their scalps.

They’ll all ask “why” as if it was a mystery deeper than the Mona Lisa’s smile.

But, problem is, they’re not actually asking “why”. They’re using the word as a kind of shrug. What they’re really saying is “I guess they ‘do it’ just because they do”.

How “it is what it is” of them. Except, no. No one does anything “just because”. People doing bizarre things might not be able to articulate why they’re doing it but something inside them is causing them to do it. There’s a motive. It may not be satisfying to outsiders or even logical. But there’s a motive.

Donald Trump lies because he’s a sociopath. He behaves like a spoiled child because that’s what he is (ask his niece Mary Trump; better yet, read her very good book). He kowtows to Vladimir Putin because he’s beholden to him — because Putin knows things about Trump that are absolutely, positively criminal. But then, so do we. We’re staring at them all.

Why does Donald Trump do what he does? Basically, because he’s a criminal. There’s a whole mountain range of evidence. Shame the news media refuse to either look at it or, having looked at it, refuse to accept what that evidence is telling them.

Maybe the better question is why does our news media suck at its job?

And How Exactly DOES One “Compromise” With Evil?

Too much of the American news media still has it in their heads that “both sides do it”. Whatever rotten things Republicans do, plenty of reporters, before they get to the rotten things, will remind their audience that it’s not just Republicans who do this rotten thing, “both sides do it”. Got proof?

Do both sides work tirelessly to suppress the other sides voters? No, actually, only one side does that.

Did both sides visit Russia on July 4, 2018 as 8 Republicans did, inexplicably spending America’s Independence Day not with their families but with Russians — for no apparent reason that no one’s ever explained?

Do both sides put children in cages?

Do both sides stand with racists and bigots and misogynists?

Do both sides politicize the wearing of masks?

Do both sides stand by Donald Trump regardless of the clear and evident danger he presents?

Do both sides openly ignore the rule of law & the Constitution? Do both sides happily pour our tax dollars into the pockets of their rich friends while regular Americans spend hours in line at food banks?

Take the current fracas over unemployment benefits to all the Americans who’ve been crushed economically by the pandemic and by our government’s thieving, contradictory, inept & flat out corrupt response to it. Democrats want to maintain the $600/week most Americans receiving that money are now relying on to pay their bills. Republicans wanted to knock it down to $200/week.

Trump, in his executive “whatever’s” signed last night at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ to a room of cheering, maskless golf buddies (well, maskless before the press complained), wanted to give everyone $400. Looks like a compromise, right?

It’s not. A person who needs $600 to pay their bills needs $600. Every bill not paid remains unpaid — and the pressure to pay it mounts.

The Republicans scream that paying people more in unemployment than their unemployment pays disincentivizes them to go back to work. That’s the slave master screaming about his slaves not wanting to be slaves. The fact that $600 means so much to so many people isn’t about people being lazy, it’s about people being horribly underpaid. What Republicans are really afraid of — and they should be — is the lab experiment America is now conducting about economics and reality.

Americans are getting a first hand look at how Universal Basic Income (UBI) works. Unlike a bank, when sustenance income lands in the pockets of a regular person, they spend it. They buy groceries or pay their electric bill. They pay for their kids’ braces or ballet classes. They pay to fix the car or repair the leaking roof. The thing regular people don’t do with UBI? They don’t bank it like banks do.

They don’t hoard it. They use the money and that, in turn, cash flows the economy from the bottom up. Because other regular people are getting paid — their jobs are supported by all that UBI — they pay their taxes and use their money to pay other people for goods and services. UBI is dynamic. UBI — paid at the federal level because only the federal government can do this — is how America will finally get the coronavirus pandemic under control. We need to incentivize people to stay home without fearing they’ll end up homeless.

In a non-pandemic environment, UBI allows people to wait for employment that suits them, suits their skill sets, suits their needs. It makes for happier people, more productive people. Wealthier people. Everywhere they’ve experimented with UBI or systems like it, it has succeeded.

Why would one oppose such a thing? Usually, it’s greed. Greed plus ignorance — especially after one gets to eyewitness all UBI’s obvious benefits. As we now know — also from experience — greed + ignorance = evil. Greed + ignorance also equals authoritarianism. That means authoritarianism = evil. No one with half a brain disputes that the Republican Party has gone full authoritarian.

So — when the yakking heads at CNN & MSNBC get Democrats on their air to interview them about things like the economic support packages the Democrats are pushing vs the packages the Republicans are pushing, those “journalists” go right to the politics of it. They “both sides do it” an argument about regular Americans putting food on their tables. They equate Democrats wanting to maintain the $600/week Americans need with the $200/week the Republicans wanted in the deal as if these were two sides to two legitimate arguments.

Except they’re not. The $600 is a legitimate attempt to deal with real people having real problems.

The $200 (and even the $400) aren’t trying to address anything. They’re just numbers being thrown down on the table as part of a negotiation — AWAY FROM what struggling Americans need and toward what would cause them greater hardship. Never mind the fact that the money in question? IT BELONGS TO THOSE AMERICANS. It does not belong to the politicians trying to withhold it.

What kind of compromise do these reporters have in mind? If THEY needed that money to pay THEIR families, would they feel so “you should compromise because compromise is good”? Would they be cool with looking their children in the eyes to explain that they’re going hungry tonight because “both sides do it”? Would THEY be down with compromising — especially when they know they’re not compromising with a legitimate argument but with a specious, corrupt, cynical attempt to stiff them?

Of course they wouldn’t.

So, why do they think We The People should compromise with evil?

Once we scrub our body politic clean of Republicans and Republicanism, we’ll need to turn our focus on the news media. They have failed us spectacularly. Worse, most of them still don’t see it or acknowledge it. They’re like addicts who still refuse to acknowledge their addiction.

No worries. We’ll throw an intervention.

When they try to make us compromise? We’ll say no.

Failure Of Imagination — As Much As Treason — Got Us Here

It sucks waking up every day, feeling exactly what former first lady Michelle Obama described yesterday in her podcast — a persistent mild depression. I’d quibble with the word “mild” but then I’m a quibbler by nature.

Mrs. Obama was speaking more to the relentless parade of racist cop incidents. Yesterday’s wasn’t deadly but it was horrifying nonetheless. Cops in Aurora, CO stopped a van with a family of African Americans in it — a mom, her daughters and some other kids. The cops were looking for a stolen MOTORCYCLE. They drew up alongside the van, GUNS POINTED at it — AT CHILDREN.

This would never have happened to a white family. Listen to the sound of those terrified children and then look to the WHITE COPS (a female included). Wonder what could be going through their minds. Wonder at the inhumanity.

Think about the trauma that will haunt all of them forever.

I sure hope the people in that van can sue the Aurora, CO Police Department. They’re going to need the money to pay for their therapy. And, it seems, the only way to drain racism from a police department is to, first, drain it of money. At least the money that supports the racism inside a police department.

It gets extra disgusting when you consider that the people inside the van are paying the tax dollars that resulted in them lying on the pavement, terrified for their lives. They paid for that. They will pay for it the rest of their lives.

This has been going on FOREVER. Black people have been saying it. Racists have an excuse. They’re the cause. What about the rest of us white people? Why have we put up with it?

Down deep? Most of us didn’t believe it. Not so much because it strained credulity but because it was too monstrous for our tender, white minds to process. We couldn’t imagine it. Our imaginations failed.

Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia has also revealed a failure of imagination — on the part of most Americans but, worst of all, on the part of our news media. Plenty of them STILL can’t imagine that Donald Trump has any sort of “unseemly” relationship with Vlad Putin. They still wonder aloud why Trump is always so beholden to Putin.

If they scratched their heads any harder, they’d create permanent divots in their skulls.

The truth about Donald Trump has always sat there in clear view. FFS — the first concerted oppo research carried out against Trump established that. Paul Singer, the money behind the Washington Free Beacon (a conservative news organization awarded for its journalism by the extremely conservative Heritage Foundation) hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump. Fusion was a research company run by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Thomas Catan. For the record — no one here is a raving socialist.

Simpson testified before the House Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017 for ten hours. Back then, the House was run by Republicans who were trying to undermine all investigations into Trump’s 2016 campaign and its strange relationship with Russia. Simpson testified that the first thing Fusion did after getting the oppo research gig was their due diligence. They got their hands on every piece of Trump-related anything (newspapers, magazine articles, TV interviews, radio interviews, books). They scoured the internet, shopped at Amazon, visited actual bookstores and even the public library.

What they found — in publicly available material, in other words, information ANYONE could find — convinced them that Donald Trump could well be an international criminal who’d used his bankrupted Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. If that was the case, they understood, then Trump was completely compromised. To do the dirty work inside Russia, Fusion sub-contracted the work to Orbis, a London-based private intelligence firm run by Christopher Steele — former head of MI6’s Russia desk.

That’s why the Steele Dossier exists. It’s Steele’s raw intel. Let me repeat: it’s RAW INTEL. If you don’t understand the difference between raw intel and news reporting, you should put down the raw intel. It will confuse you.

In the shadow world of spies, one can’t rely on a “smoking gun”. One has to rely on context — the most complete picture one can form so as to discern real objects from fog. The Steele Dossier paints a picture that has remained mostly accurate about Trump and the many ways Russia has compromised him.

And yet, our news media STILL describes this document as fake.

Because Donald Trump and the Republicans describe the dossier as fake. Of course, they have to — they’re all compromised toghether. Hell, the Republicans knew Trump was in bed with Russia during their 2016 convention. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously walked into a meeting of Republican muckety-mucks and said “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wasn’t shocked by that news. He was so un-shocked in fact that 1) he didn’t call the FBI and 2) he swore the whole room to secrecy. “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

From the get-go, Donald Trump has openly given away our secrets to Russia. He famously told Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that firing Comey took all the pressure about Russia off his back. How hard would it be to imagine what that really meant? And yet, our news media couldn’t make that leap.

We don’t know what secrets Trump has shared directly with Vladimir Putin — his chief handler — because Trump has never let Americans in on the meetings. The Russians always seem to know what went down though. How much imagination does it take to connect dots here?

Look at these two photos of Donald Trump and Vlad Putin. How much imagination does it take to extrapolate what these photos are shouting at us?

Donald Trump violated the Constitution the moment he took an oath to uphold and protect it. We knew it as he did it — and yet did nothing. Failure of imagination — to act but also to recognize what the ripple effects of our failure would be. Our imaginations failed to tell us that there would even be ripple effects.

Yet, here we are.

Racism is failure of imagination. Extreme religiosity is failure of imagination. Of course it is — you’re letting an imaginary creature or creatures do all your thinking for you. Misogyny is failure of imagination. So’s bigotry and fear of LGBTQ people and intolerance and ignorance of any stripe. It’s all failure of imagination.

Fortunately, failure of imagination is fixable. All one has to do is step outside the box you’re living in, take off your normalcy bias blinders and open your damned eyes.

LOOK at what is instead of assuming you know what is. Actually LISTEN to people and what they need. Imagine solutions that aren’t earthbound. Yes, we can’t make the impossible possible. But we have to be willing to challenge the impossible. Better yet, let’s give our imaginations a chance.

We may find that what we thought was impossible isn’t.

Republicans Have A “Point Of View”; They Do Not Have A “Side”

A thief — having just ripped you off — has a thief’s point of view of what he just did. The thief’s victim — you — also has a point of view.

The cops show up. They’ve caught the thief red-handed with stolen object literally in hand.

You tell your story — your side. The cops look to the thief — who they saw with the stolen object in hand. What “side” does the thief have in this story? That you gave the stolen object to him?

“Nuh-unh,” you say to the cops when they shoot you a look. Back to the thief. Unless he has a long, sad tale of why he’s a thief, he better keep his mouth shut. He doesn’t have a “side” here — meaning, he has no justifiable explanation for why he took something that did not belong to him.

Neither “I felt like it” nor “I dunno why” are acceptable or justifiable. It’s a fact — thieves don’t “have a side” unless they’re Jean Valjean. And nobody with an “R” next to their name will ever be mistaken for Jean Valjean.

What “side” could Donald Trump possibly have for backing Vladimir Putin time and time again?

What “side” could Lindsey Graham have for ferociously backing a man he said would be the destruction of the Republican Party?

What “side” could anyone possibly have for putting children in cages?

What “side” could anyone possibly have for turning mask-wearing into a political statement?

What “side” could any of the eight Republicans have for spending July 4, 2018 in Moscow?

What “side” could Jeffrey Epstein possibly have had? What side could any of his friends have had? What side could Bill Barr possibly have — in ANYTHING?

What “side” does Mitch McConnell have for refusing to let We The People in on the secret that Russia was actively backing Donald Trump in the 2016 election?

What “side” does former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have for not calling the FBI when, during the 2016 GOP convention, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy told him “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”?

What “side” does any Republican Senator have for refusing to convict Trump and remove him from office?

What “side” does anyone have for keeping that “R” next to their name?

As we know — they’re happy to tell us — Republicans always have their point of view. But, being as it’s the point of view of corrupt, racist, bigoted, misogynist traitors, no “side” goes with that.

The Rule Of Law Never Stopped “Being”; We Stopped Enforcing It…

That’s an important framing. We’ve watched Donald Trump and the Republican Party violate the rule of law with impunity. They act as if the rule of law didn’t exist anymore. We have acted the same way — like the rule of law had ceased “to be”.

That’s not true. It’s a matter of perspective. We’re still inside an active crime scene.

Think of it this way: we’re not talking about our government being hijacked. We’re talking, say, about a car. A bloated orange car thief has just stolen our car at gunpoint. And, as we get back to our feet and watch the car thief drive off with our car, it absolutely feels as if the thief is getting away with the crime — as if the rule of law stopped “being”.

But there were cameras all around, seeing and recording what happened. We have tons of evidence. It’s not a question whether or not a crime was committed.

Let’s say, to keep the metaphor going, that we call the police and report the crime. But the police are shockingly unhelpful. The top cop is worst of all. And while a few of the others in power are going along with him, the majority of cops aren’t. We get it: there’s corruption in the police department.

The rule of law STILL is in effect. We’ve simply uncovered the fact that even more people are violating it — and violating it by not prosecuting it. All duly noted.

The majority of us understand exactly what’s happening. We never agreed to stop prosecuting the rule of law. We’ve come to see however what happens when you don’t follow the rule of law to the letter. If you don’t apply it equally to everyone? It will break down eventually. Not because the rule of law is flawed but because we haven’t followed it. If we had followed it, we wouldn’t have had a problem in the first place.

I think we’ve learned our lesson. Correction — those who’ve suffered from our unequal application of the rule of law — they’ve learned. And, as they take political power, they will insist not that we start the rule of law again, but that we start APPLYING IT again.

See the difference? It means that we’re still obligated by the rule of law to apply it during the times when we’d stopped applying it. The rule of law was still in effect. We also have to ask now WHY we stopped applying it equally — and who was responsible for that. The rule of law will insist.

That’s the thing about the rule of law. It takes the decision-making (whether to apply it or not) out of our hands. The answer’s always “Yes — we apply the rule of law”.

The Moment We START re-enforcing the rule of law again, every single Republicans will have a serious problem. Conspiracy works this way: see something, say something; see something, say nothing? We need to know WHY. Why did you say nothing when you saw something (potentially) unlawful going on? The rule of law says you cannot remain silent. Even if you only suspect someone is violating the rule of law, you are obligated by it to act. If you don’t? You are violating it. And the rule of law demands we act against you.

Back during the 2016 Republican convention, current GOP leader Kevin McCarthy famously entered a meeting of GOP muckety-mucks and said “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan just as famously told everyone there to “keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.”

They all agreed to keep a secret rather than call the FBI. They knew what would happen to them all if the rule of law was applied to them. They knew they were violating it.

That’s the thing that will surprise us when it happens — as it should happen. As it must: the rule of law will make it explicitly clear that Donald Trump, in legal fact, was never President of the United States. Not in any legal way. He couldn’t have been because he violated the rule of law in order to become president and the rule of law says explicitly that you cannot do that. Cheating to win means YOU DID NOT LEGALLY WIN.

That, too, is an important distinction to the rule of law and how we apply it. An election is not an abstraction. Its results — from the rule of law’s point of view — belong to the people. The rule of law is all about securing equality before the law for everyone. An election’s results — if they reflect how the electorate actually voted — should be the winning candidate’s marching orders. We elected you to do these things for us, now go do them!

What the Republicans did — with their Russian pals helping significantly — is alter the election’s outcome. Did they flip votes in machines — directly stealing the outcome (the icing on the cake)? We don’t know. No one’s ever done an official forensic investigation. The evidence is mounting that they should. But if that’s the only metric we’ll use for “stealing an election”? We’ll lose every election going forward.

We’ve been living through a new kind of asymetrical warfare using information, data and social media as weapons. Bombs and bullets are completely unnecessary to bring another country to its knees. If the Russians (or Chinese or Saudis or Iranians or North Koreans or some 400 pound guy in his basement) cut off our power grid tomorrow, we’d sue for peace, white flags raised high.

That’s not hypothetical war, it’s real war that we are really losing. But that’s only because we stopped using our most important asset: the rule of law.

It will take longer than it should for all the uncorrupted people at the police department to isolate the “bad apples” among them and hunt down the bloated orange scumbag who jacked our ride. We will get our car back.

And we will prosecute everyone — EVERYONE — who participated in the carjacking in any way, shape or form. It won’t be up to us whether we do that or not. We’ll have to.

Because the rule of law says so.

If You Think Living During A Pandemic Is A Bitch, Try Storytelling In It

And we thought things for storytellers were bad because Donald Trump’s awfulness supersedes anything any writer could ever think up.

And then the coronavirus walked in our door. Of all the gin joints in all the world…

We know how ya feel, Bogie, we know how ya feel…

Trump’s story is so hard to tell that our news media hasn’t gotten within miles of even figuring out how to tell it — never mind actually telling it. In their defense, what can you do about a candidate or president who lurches quite happily from calamity to calamity? I don’t know… maybe stop lurching after him? Maybe stop following him down every damned rabbit hole? But, I digress.

If you make your living by making up stories, it sucks when reality keeps belching out content far more inventive than anything you could imagine. Donald Trump isn’t even the worst villain riding this supersonic shitwagon. There are plenty of others: Mitch McConnell, Bill Barr, Mikes Pompeo, Pence & Flynn. Every one of these characters would fill one story all by themselves as villain. What did we ever do to deserve a whole Justice League Of Villains?

Oh, right — slavery.

I digress again.

Fictional storytelling before the coronavirus landed was already a fool’s errand. The coronavirus pandemic just made it hopeless.

Never mind what anyone says. Dialogue’s gonna be rewritten ten thousand times before it even gets to the actors — and then it’ll get rewritten ten thousand more times. First thing visual storytelling demands is being clear on what the audience sees. If you’re working in a visual media — as a screenwriter or TV writer — this is job one.

Think of it this way: before the pandemic you were a show taking place in real time — and half of your episodes were in the can when the lockdown came. Your show took place in a time when people didn’t social distance or wear masks. Bars were open and packed. Restaurants, too. People could go on a date — to a movie.

Then the pandemic hit. Production stopped for months. And months. But, let’s say circumstances ease enough so that — if your company can successfully follow 20 pages of protocols and requirements without anyone getting sick — you can go back to work, finishing your season. One problem. While your show was in hiatus, reality changed.

The literal reality in which the show had been taking place is not the literal reality we live in anymore. People can’t go to movies on dates. There are no movie theaters. And dating — it’s more complicated now (though no less essential). Coronavirus is like an STD on steroids. A show about a person with an active sex life has a problem now it didn’t have before.

And did I mention everyone wears masks now? Yeah, they wear masks — and they’re likely to be wearing masks for the foreseeable future because of the wretched hash Donald Trump and his band of pirates made of our response to the virus. That means that if your show takes place in real time — in our collective real time where we all live? Everyone better be wearing masks.

If our show said “I don’t care!” and shot the rest of the season the same way they shot the first part of their season — with no one social distancing or wearing masks, acting as if the virus never existed — they would be making a period piece.

People NOT wearing masks would be as costumed, in a sense. The same way good wardrobe is meant to draw our eye toward it (and reflect elements of character and environment), someone maskless will get our attention. We no longer live in a world where people walk around maskless. But we used to. That’s what the audience knows. Stories rely on immediacy — especially stories that take place in our contemporary world. Put that story in the past and — even if we love the characters deeply — we’ve still surrendered a big piece of the story’s drive — it’s immediacy.

I just finished a Zoom story meeting with another writer. It’s a TV project about a fish out of water who lands in LA. It’s based on a real person. She’s genuinely fascinating — and Russian. The work we’d done all had to be re-evaluated; a draft was written before the pandemic and the lockdown.

Now we had to try to imagine what our character — who’s single and sexually active — would do in a world where being single and sexually active just got harder? Keep in mind — if we got super, SUPER lucky, we could be in front of the cameras with our TV show in… super, SUPER lucky — 6 months. It’s never going to happen but let’s say. The soonest we could possibly be on air so people could binge us? A year. If we’re super, SUPER lucky.

What will THAT world look like? We’ll probably still be wearing masks. Will bars be open? Will restaurants? Or will most of them be gone — victims of the economy that started to come back far too late to save them. Will movie theaters still be off limits? Will spectating at live sports events? It’s hard to write scenes that take place in a setting that might not realistically be open anymore. That might not even exist as we knew it.

No one’s going to go with a story that says “He walked into a bar. Or maybe he didn’t because they’re all closed so he stood outside where the bar used to be.” Chrissakes — shoot the table read instead. On Zoom. It’ll be easier.

Are Republicans Hard Wired To Be Mediocre?

There’s a moment at the end of the movie “Amadeus” where the character Salieri — the court composer to the Hapsburg Empire — looks to the priest weeping in front of him. The priest had come to hear Salieri’s confession but got way more than that.

Salieri has just confessed to, more or less, murdering Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — a thing Salieri claims he did because God had implanted such incredible talent inside Mozart instead of him. Mozart’s remarkable abilities have made it clear to Salieri just how mediocre he is.

Salieri looks to the speechless priest, tears running down his cheeks. “I will speak for you, Father,” says Salieri, “I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint.”

Salieri is the institutionalist. The inside-the-box guy whose imagination ends where the box does. Mozart, on the other hand, lives outside the box — where genius can take flight and flourish.

Republicans are a lot like Salieri. They’re rich and privileged. They’re connected to power. They haven’t an original idea in their heads — because original ideas, they know, are dangerous. To them.

Look at the lineup of Congresspeople working either to investigate or defend Trump. On the Democratic side you have Adam Schiff and Kamala Harris and Katie Porter and Val Demmings and Stacy Abrams — outside-the-box problem solvers and thinkers.

On the Republican side? Matt Gaetz… Jim Jordan… Devin Nunes…

Is there a more mediocre person on the planet than sexual-assault enabler Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan? Piss ants laugh at Jim for being so useless.

It shouldn’t be a mystery why Republican excel at not excelling. At being mediocre. It’s a function of being conservative. Conservatives — as their name implies — want to conserve. Since you can’t conserve the future (it doesn’t exist), you focus on conserving the present because it contains the past — and the past, really, is every conservative’s goal: conservatives want to conserve the past. They want to regress the country back to how it was when everyone understood that white, male Christians were the alpha dogs of American politics.

Those mediocrities will tell you that those alpha dogs made America. Hog wash. Manifest Destiny was thievery. Slavery should have been criminalized, not institutionalized. America has been way better at preaching democracy than practicing it. How mediocre of us.

The one thing we can definitely say about Donald Trump is that, for everything he is, he ain’t mediocre. When it comes to being corrupt or treasonous or racist or misogynist or bigoted or greedy or ignorant or just plain awful, Donald Trump is exceptional.

When it comes to being a human being?

He ain’t even mediocre.