Dear American News Media: America Needs YOU To Do Better

The last four years turned me from a news consumer into a news junkie. I bet I’m not alone. In fact, I know I’m not. But, let’s be clear: the fix I’m after isn’t “news”, it’s Truth. They aren’t necessarily the same thing. That, right there, is our problem. It’s why I watch the news so obsessively now — not because I need them updating me but because I feel compelled to point out every time they confound “spouting information” with telling truth. In the age of Trump, every piece of information spewing from people notorious for lying should be seen as suspect first and true only after rigorous examination.

And, by the way? Both sides don’t “do it”.

First problem? The apparent inability to AGGREGATE information the way storytellers are supposed to. Information from one scene gets added to what we know — and that information directs us toward more questions which, in turn, produce more information that adds to what we know. Except that process has broken down with our news media.

The moment Donald Trump insisted that “Mexicans are rapists”, the correct response from our news media shouldn’t have been “Oh, well — we guess he’s just a different kind of presidential candidate”, it should have been “Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist”. Everything they reported after that fact would have built upward from our FIRM KNOWLEDGE (based on Trump’s own words!) that Donald Trump is a racist.

Every story about Trump thereafter should have included the background that everything Trump said or says is in the context of “he’s a racist”. But, because we allow racists to decide whether or not they’re racist, Trump got to claim HE was the “least racist person in the whole world”. Oy.

See how we let a racist determine the context — to the detriment of the story and our ability to understand it? Imagine, if you will, how different a place we’d be in today if we WEREN’T still debating (if the news media wasn’t still debating) whether or not racist Donald Trump is a racist or not.

If you can’t aggregate simple, evidence-based information into a narrative, journalism (storytelling in general) baffles you. Find another line of work.

Once the news media started down the “He’s just a different kind of POTUS” path, they were lost. “He’s a different kind of…” is what a journalist says to affirm that they’ve normalized what should never be normalized.

They did the same thing with pussy-grabbing, preferring to chase “But, her emails” instead. Keep in mind the perspective: pussy-grabbing plus 20+ accusations of rape, sexual assault and indecent behavior. It’s what real storytellers call CONTEXT.

Quick reminder — when Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017 (the Republican-led committee was desperate to undermine the Steele Dossier’s integrity), he described Fusion’s process after they’d been hired by the conservative-run Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump. The very first thing Fusion did, Simpson testified, was their due diligence. They got their hands on every piece of publicly available information about or by Donald Trump — newspaper stories, magazine articles, Howard Stern appearances, TV interviews. They visited Amazon and used book stores. They even went to the public library looking for publicly available material.

What Fusion found — in publicly available material — convinced them that Trump had been involved with criminal behavior for years and that he’d likely laundered Russian mob money through his (now bankrupt) Atlantic City casinos. In other words, Fusion found enough evidence of criminal conduct that they felt compelled to do MORE research. By then, Jeb Bush (the Free Beacon’s choice) had dropped out and Democrats backing Hillary Clinton were paying Fusion’s fees. The whole reason Fusion sub-contracted the Russian part of the oppo research out to Christopher Steele is because he’d run MI6’s Moscow desk and had top tier contacts inside Russia.

Until Fusion hired Steele, they were doing something every news organization could have done on their own, by themselves: due diligence. Like Fusion, THEY could have gotten THEIR hands on every piece of publicly available material on Trump. Like Fusion, THEY could have met the minimal obligation before beginning their formal work of reporting on Donald Trump.

Except they didn’t.

Steele’s work product is raw intel — and needs to be understood that way. That’s just context. Take away the context and Steele’s product becomes “unverified” meaning “probably untrue”. But, raw intel is all about context. There’s rarely a smoking gun but there can be the preponderance of the evidence. Plenty of smoke flows from that.

Lacking context and convinced that “both sides do it”, our news media has spun a relentless false narrative flowing from the mis-reporting that “Trump won in 2016”. We will arrive at this conclusion: take away intense voter suppression in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin (the product of Paul Manafort handing Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data from those three states plus Minnesota) and the Comey Letter 10 days before the 2016 election and Trump’s not close enough for the machine flipping operation.

Remember — Trump won by a combined 77,000 votes across those three states in order to secure the Electoral College votes. If Trump committed treason to win those three states (and win the election) then he did not “win”. Cheating to win can NEVER equal winning. Committing treason to win — that should go double. We KNOW for a fact that any voting machine that connects IN ANY WAY to the internet is hackable. We KNOW these systems have been hacked and are still being hacked. The reason vote-by-mail horrifies Trump and the Republicans in this election is because their whole cheating op is based on using disinformation to foster low turnout by disenchanted voters. Then, with the race inside the polled margin of error, the hacking op can flip or add just enough votes for the result to look dicey but within the margin of error and therefore “possible”.

Also remember — Trump asked repeatedly — OUT LOUD — for Russia to help him. Also remember — Trump was impeached for doing the exact same thing with the Ukraine except in THIS election. You know, the one he’s currently running in?

That fact alone seems not to have been aggregated: Donald Trump is the first (and only) president to EVER run for re-election having been IMPEACHED for cheating in the very election he’s running in. You’d think that fact alone would keep the news media actively engaged. You’d think an impeached president running for office — while STILL cheating — would be grist for plenty of great, Pulitzer-worthy reportage.

And yet…

None of us wants the news media to fail. On the contrary, we NEED the news media to succeed. That’s why it breaks our hearts when most of them continue to trip over themselves daily. It’s not just personal failure they’re courting as they try to disentangle themselves from themselves, it’s our collective failure they’re flirting with. Their inability to see the larger story is going to kill us.

The first trick with helping an alcoholic or a drug addict is getting them to SEE their own weakness. There’s nothing wrong with having weaknesses. It comes with being human. But we don’t have to be prisoners of our weakness. We CAN overcome them with a little, um, due diligence. The news media needs to acknowledge that it HAS a problem: a lack of perspective born of a failure of imagination.

Our news media still can’t “imagine” the enormity of Trump’s crime. Therefore they under-report and normalize what they see. A talking head round table might examine all the possible explanations for Trump’s behavior. They’ll ALWAYS include the possibility that there’s some innocent explanation (he’s just a “different” kind of POTUS). They’ll NEVER include the opposite possibility — that Trump is guilty of criminal behavior; he’s a “different” kind of POTUS all right, just not in a good way.

These are all fixable. But, like a good 12-step program, freedom from addiction starts with acknowledging that one HAS an addiction.

One last suggestion to help our news media (especially televised news media) be all they can be. Forget about primping before you go on air. Spend more time prepping instead. Got that? “Prepping Instead Of Primping”.

What’s your size, American News Media? I’ll put it on a t-shirt for you…

You Are The Voice Inside Your Head

For Donald, even inside his head, it’s “outdoor voice” all the time.

What must the voice inside Donald Trump’s bloated orange head sound like? If the one driving US nuts is bad, the one driving Donald must be exponentially worse. I imagine it sounds even more like him than he does. And as undisciplined, erratic, illogical, hateful and disgusting as “Public Trump” is, “Trump Unbound” has got to be a whole other kind of hell none of us wants to be anywhere near.

Think of it: no one except you will ever get to hear what your inner voice sounds like. You can repeat what it says (as we do), but you can’t reproduce its voice outside your head. When you consider how much our inner voices are there, backing us up, putting words to our thoughts, that’s a big piece of us that we know but that no one else can ever know.

My inner voice is much nicer to me now than it used to be back when I was in the throes of a deep, dark depression. Back then, darkness poisoned my inner voice and convinced me that I deserved every rotten thing that was (at the time) happening to me. That’s the thing about our inner voices: they can and do lie to us.

Maybe Donald Trump’s problem is he’s broadcasting his inner voice more effectively than almost anyone else ever has. What shocks us almost daily is that, mental decline aside, this guy’s a stone cold racist. And a bigot. And a misogynist pig. And corrupt in myriad ways. And a traitor. And an asshole.

All those qualities, I’m dead certain, come through to Donald Trump loud and clear via his inner voice. They tell him: Donald, go be these things. Be them bigger and louder than even YOU think is appropriate. Then be them some more and be them bigger and worse.

Trump’s inner voice loves the sound of itself. It’s damned sure we all love it just as much.

And Trump trumpets that voice so we all can hear it.

Lucky us.

What Soccer (Football To The Rest Of The Civilized World) Can Teach Us About Life

Soccer’s a simple sport. That’s why it’s universal. Kick the ball into the other guy’s goal more than he kicks it into yours and you win. Now, throw a few off side rules into the mix, some great strategic thinking and some talent to pull it off and that simple sport becomes exactly what they call it: the beautiful game. Few things are as sublime as when eleven players hitch their collective will to putting a ball into the back of the other team’s net and then do it with surgical precision. Achieving that collective perfection might not be as hard as hitting a Major League fastball, but it’s not far behind. It’s absolutely do-able. But only by a few.

And yet — perfection aside — almost anyone can play this game and enjoy it for its own sake.

I’m a Tottenham Hotspur fan, I thing I came into being via marriage to a Brit whose family were Spurs supporters (well, my wife is and her brother is; their sister is a Liverpool supporter — splitter!). I’ve always loved soccer, back to when I first learned to play it at sleepaway camp when I was six. Growing up in Baltimore, I even attended Bays games (they played in the National Professional Soccer League for three seasons 1967 – 1969) at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.

When my son wanted to play rec center soccer here in LA (he was five), I didn’t just sign him up, I volunteered to coach. Then I created a club team (Silver Lake FC). By the time I stepped aside (my son unfortunately got injured), SLFC had six teams and almost a hundred players. So, soccer has already informed my life in plenty of ways.

But, something that happened Saturday drove home (a baseball metaphor being apt as the LA Dodgers are about to start the World Series today against the Tampa Bay Rays) a particularly important lesson at a particular time. On Sunday, the Spurs counted their chickens before said chickens had hatched. They put three points in the win column before finishing the game they were playing in.

That will almost always bite you in the ass.

After years of struggling to figure out who it was, Spurs have got an amazing new stadium, a new top tier coach (Jose Morinho) and, after picking eight new pieces in the transfer window (they just acquired Welsh international defender Joe Rodon from Swansea for eleven million pounds — when they could have gotten as much as twenty million), seem two-deep at every position for the first time ever. Two weeks ago, Spurs thumped Manchester United 6-1 (after thumping Tel Aviv Maccabee 7-1 in a Europa League game). With Gareth Bale now back in the squad (and with the other new signings finding their feet), Spurs walked onto their pitch to face West Ham this past Sunday, feeling a little like football’s next gods.

When they had West Ham down 3-0 within fifteen minutes, they were convinced: they WERE gods. And, being gods, they could rest on their laurels instead of playing the rest of the game. That worked out to a 3-3 tie, West Ham shocking Spurs with 3 goals in the last ten minutes including a dunderheaded own goal by Spurs defender Davinson Sanchez.

When West Ham took the field in the second half, they played as if the game still mattered. Having nothing to lose, they pressed Spurs — and Spurs let them. They figured, why spend any more energy than necessary? Their three point lead was insurmountable.

And therein is the Life Lesson. You still have to PLAY the game. Talent without effort is worthless. Assuming you have anything in the bag will end up with you IN the bag.

Donald Trump is not going to win this election. If he finds some way to “win” it, it will not be a legitimate win in any way, shape or form. Just like the “win” in 2016 was illegitimate. FFS, Trump himself kept telling us it was illegitimate; our news media to this day refuses to believe him.

The Democratic primary process drew from a deep, deep bench with plenty of philosophical heft. The candidates (for the most part) were authentic, their public servant bona fides genuine. While Joe Biden may not have been the embodiment of Progressive aspirations, the Progressive’s aspirations have already become the embodiment of the party’s ideals. The door will be open to the full Progressive agenda — socialized medicine, debt-free education, UBI; the only way out of this fiasco will BE through Progressive policies like those.

Conservatism after all is what brought us to the cliff’s edge.

The first goal West Ham scored against Spurs came during a set play — a free kick into the box that West Ham converted via a beautiful header. Set plays into the box — usually in the form of corner kicks — are perfect examples of how random chaos works. In essence, you can have twenty-one players moving in various directions, trying to anticipate the flight pattern of a ball and where it might land or bounce. Balls ricochet. Even a mis-directed kick can re-direct into the back of the net.

Our current situation, two weeks before perhaps the most important election in America’s history, is a lot like the chaos inside the goal box — as a corner kick flies toward it — as an important match expires.

Turns out We The People have way more players in the box than the Republicans do — and we’re poised to score and take the points. But the Republicans aren’t playing fairly. Their pal Vladimir is hiding another ball that he plans to introduce just as the official ball reaches the box.

Vladimir — and the Republicans — will insist that THAT ball’s the real ball and the one we’ve been chasing — the real ball — isn’t.

Vlad, Don and the Re-thug-licans plan to run their fake ball to the other end of the field and literally throw it into our net, claiming an incredible shock-victory. They’ll insist that they absolutely followed the rules to a “T”.

Unfortunately for them, that “T” also stands for Trump. To borrow again from baseball, America needs to keep its eye on THE ball.

Just In Time For Christmas — Books For Your Republican “Friends”…

If we think Thanksgiving is going to be bad this year with pro-Trump family members — still butt-sore from the electoral scorching they just took — forced to eat outside because they STILL refuse to wear a damned mask, just wait till we get to Christmas. But there’s hope now that divided families can talk to each other over egg nog and yule logs and Christmas gifts. We’re recommending this great new series of helpful how-to guides. When you give them, it says to your still recalcitrant family member or friend — “All is not forgiven, but, here — let me help you finish the work you started”.

Let’s say you’re Kellyanne Conway’s daughter Claudia. What do you get for the mom who has zero skills as a parent, no empathy, and no maternal instincts but plenty of money to pay therapy bills? You get them “Hey, Nitwit: Here’s How NOT To Screw Up Your Kids”.

Got friends in the news media? This “Hey, Nitwit!” guide’s the perfect gift since most members of America’s news media HAVE NO sense of context. They think both sides do it. If you can’t get your news media friends to read the book, consider dropping it on their heads repeatedly. They might actually get through to them…

Got friends running for office? Here’s their Christmas gift. “Shoving one’s racism down everyone’s throat” is what Republicans actually do whenever they legislate anything. Also available: “Here’s How NOT To Shove Your BIGOTRY Down Everyone’s Throat” and “Here’s How NOT To Shove Your Misogyny Down Everyone’s Throat”. Your Republican “friends” will probably want all three!

Finally, here’s the guide none of your nitwit friends actually need. But give it to them anyway.

American Television News Sucks In Large Part Because They Don’t Understand How Their Own Medium Works

To listen to Donald Trump speak, you’d think he had no idea how to speak English. Whatever lie he’s trying to convey can’t survive the whirling word salad of death spewing from his bloated orange pie hole. He’s a liar who can’t get that the rest of us won’t buy into his lies because he tells them so badly. America’s news media has a similar problem but with the visual language. Just as words befuddle Donald Trump so badly that they’ve limited his vocabulary, the visual medium befuddles American news producers so badly that they, too speak with a limited vocabulary. Trump’s inability to communicate reveals every single flaw in his character. That’s a good thing. The visual media’s inability to use their medium correctly undermines their ability to convey the truth — the very thing they’re supposedly in the business of conveying.

That’s a really, really bad thing.

Last night — the woman seated behind Trump — the one circled — repeatedly nodded and gave Trump’s ludicrous answers an enthusiastic thumbs up. The town hall concept NBC News insisted, would surround Trump with “uncommitted voters” whose questions he’d answer. Except Mayra Joli, the woman, was NOT an uncommitted voter. In fact, she’s an immigration attorney and pro-Trump activist. I’d love to know how SHE got THAT seat.

I didn’t watch NBC’s town hall live by the way. On principle. I switched between watching Joe Biden behave like an adult and the LA Dodgers behave like a minor league team facing major league pitching. Despite taking heavy fire for a very, VERY poor decision, NBC News and its apologists insist that they performed a public service.

I suppose if you focus entirely on Trump and his inability to communicate, you might think NBC News is right. But then, we knew this going in — that Trump isn’t a great communicator just like he isn’t a great businessman. You have to swallow a whole lot of bullshit before you can think Trump is either of those things. But then, that’s been the story the last four plus years — the news media’s stunning inability to see Donald Trump for who and what he is — despite all the evidence of it.

On television, the visual matters. The contemporary audience is incredibly sophisticated in its understanding of and ability to use the visual language. Anyone and everyone can be a filmmaker these days. Close ups and tight shots create a feeling of intimacy. Wide shots create a feeling of space. And 50-50 shots — where two people are presented in the frame with the exact same amount of screen space — suggest a discussion of two equal points.

It doesn’t matter if one person is arguing that the world is round while the other insists it’s flat or that climate change is absolutely real while the other insists it’s not or that the “science still isn’t complete”.

While our ears are hearing a nonsensical argument, our eyes are seeing something else entirely — a more equal argument between two equally valid points. They must be of equal value because that’s how they’re being presented onscreen — 50-50. That’s how our brains read it. That creates a conflict in our heads because we’re being fed two conflicting pieces of information. Bullshit is being given the same visual weight as the Truth — and we know intrinsically that that cannot be.

In a way, our news media is like a well meaning nitwit who uses high-falutin’ words that they really don’t understand. While they wrestle with the language, their audience grows increasingly frustrated with them and stops believing them. That’s already Donald Trump’s operating principle — make the news media unbelievable. The news media really doesn’t need to help him accomplish it.  

At the bottom of it all sits “both sides do it” journalism and its cynical, perspective-free assertion that everyone’s the same.

No, we’re not. Too bad our news media can’t see it.

Dear American News Media: Republicans Have A “Point Of View”; That Doesn’t Mean They Have A “Point”

“Both sides do it” journalism is a scourge because it starts from a false premise — that everyone’s exactly alike and does things for the exact same reasons. Nothing could be further from the truth. If Democrats could march in lockstep with each other, they’d be Republicans. And if Republicans could care about people over money, they’d be Democrats. All you have to do is listen to a progressive speak to appreciate that their aspirations are hopeful, wanting as much happiness and success for as many people as possible. Listen to a conservative and you get cynicism. Expect the worst of people (meaning non-white, non-Christian people) and legislate accordingly. Meanwhile, suck up every dollar you can.

A rapist and his victim both have stories to tell. The rapist — needing to justify a criminal act — will insist his victim “wanted it” or was asking for it. Or maybe even consented to it and is lying now. That’s a point of view. It’s a “side” in the story. It’s just not an honest side. In fact, it’s flat out dishonest. That means, if we’re discussing “sides” to a story meaning legitimate reasons for doing a thing as opposed to, say, just because you’re a bully, it’s going to be hard for the bully to ever justify their bullying. Except maybe to other bullies.

We’ve heard more than enough — way, way, WAAAAAAAY more than enough — to appreciate that cruelty for cruelty’s sake (and corruption for corruption’s sake) is now baked into the Republican brand. Want to dissuade desperate people from fleeing to America in search of hope? Imprison their children at the border. Want to steal an election you’re losing overwhelmingly? Pack the federal bench — up to and including the SCOTUS — with lifetime appointments you denied Barack Obama. For some reason, our Big Story-loving news media can’t keep it in its head that Donald Trump is the first POTUS ever to run for re-election HAVING BEEN IMPEACHED. Icing on the cake? He was impeached for cheating in the very election he’s now running in.

And still cheating!

We’ve now openly heard Republicans saying “own voter suppression!” In other words, be proud of your cheating and naked attempts to undermine the integrity of our democratic system of self-government. That is their point — their “side of the argument”. End it all. Cease to be a self-ruled democratic republic. Become instead a minority-ruled authoritarian hell hole. As we speak, We The People are going to the polls in numbers We The People don’t ever go to the polls.

Take this to the bank: people standing in line for eight hours to vote are not doing that so they can vote for Donald Trump. We’re saying something right out loud by our individual and collective actions: we don’t want what Donald Trump and the Republican Party are doing. We never did. When Americans show up en masse to vote — that’s what our votes say: “whatever the Republicans want, we want the opposite”.

If we were having a conversation with the Republicans instead of voting against them, we’d be telling them: “you have no point”.

Considering as how Republicans rely on cheating to win elections rather than arguing their points (and letting the marketplace of ideas dictate the results), they must not believe their own crap either. Even THEY don’t think they have a point.

And yet — because a Republican spouts the party line — unfounded on anything substantive as it might be — our news media trips over itself trying to present this shotgun blast of bullshit with the other side’s point of view. If, that point of view represents the truth (say climate science versus climate denial) then the news media — in trying to be “fair” presents these two arguments (before they realized how stupid they were being) — would have a conversation that presented truth and bullshit as a fifty-fifty proposition.

Truth and bullshit were given equal weight — as if they weighed the same — and it was left to the news media’s audience to decide if bullshit was truer than truth.

That is the false premise that flows from “both sides do it”. Bullshit and the truth might as well be the same thing. It’s not the journalist’s job to discern between them — having already elevated bullshit and demeaned truth.

Trump smiles at “The Boss” while our allies don’t.

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 Ghislane Maxwell or any of Jeff’s other pervy 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.

Dear NBC NEWS: What You Are Doing Is Wrong And Wrong-Headed; The LAST Thing America Needed Tonight Was “Counter-Programming”

Having turned in a (not unexpected) horrible performance at the first presidential debate, Donald Trump ducked the second debate (that is what he effectively did) by refusing to address his own diseased status. That’s the headline here, NBC News: Donald Trump is diseased. And not just with coronavirus. He’s decimated every bit of our whole way of doing things — in large part because YOU (and the rest of the news media) have, to this day, refused to hold Donald Trump accountable for any of the overtly criminal, deceitful acts we’ve watched him perpetrate right in our faces.

The Republican Party is waging a culture war on the rest of America — and YOU continue to carry its water. Donald Trump continues to tell YOU you’re full of shit while YOU put his shit on the air often without contextualizing his shit as shit. And you look at yourselves in the mirror…

Now, in your defense, at least you now say openly that Trump is, on average, a liar. But you don’t behave as if that means anything to you. Though you know the odds are what Trump says is a lie, you still present it, first, as if it “might” be true. In other words — right off the bat, sight unseen, you are giving bullshit all the credence of Truth. Or, as you call it, the benefit of the doubt.

The benefit of the doubt is a “But, what if bullshit was true…?” question. What if pigs could fly. What if the Pope did shit in the woods? What if Donald Trump could declare himself emperor for life? The moment you give bullshit credence, you make bullshit results possible. That’s what happens when un-reason triumphs over reason. That never works out in the end.

Never.

America is more polarized than ever in part because corruption is rarely if ever held accountable. That’s happened in part because our news media sees everyone they cover in cynical terms. Everyone’s a cartoon character who acts exactly the same regardless of whether they’re Democrat or Republican. Oh, the Democrats might say they want to make peoples’ lives better but they’re no different from the Republicans who just want to get rich and keep power in the hands of white people. See? They even sound the same.

Who does NBC News thinks is going to watch Donald Trump tonight? Trust me, NBC News — people who hate Donald Trump (and, right now, people are willing to wait in line 12 hours to vote Trump out) are not going to tune in to you tonight. If they do, it’s because you’ve done and are doing the nation — and our democracy — a gross disservice. Donald Trump doesn’t want to stand toe-to-toe with Joe Biden because he can’t. Rather than expose that weakness (something one would think a news operation would WANT to do), you’ve allowed Trump to have his forum all to himself.

Please don’t ask us to trust you — that you will hold Trump’s feet to the fire when he refuses to answer anyone’s question. You haven’t done it for four years. You’re not starting now. You’re not.

Some ideas (“Manimal” comes to mind) should die on the vine.

This bit of “counter programming” was one of them. This isn’t just a bad idea, NBC News, it’s the kind that harms a news organization’s integrity — and (after the way you’ve handled sexual assault allegations inside your ranks) your integrity wasn’t exactly healthy. Never mind how angry some of us are today. Surely you can think longer term than that.

America is going through a massive sea change in its political culture. Women and people of color are taking the power they deserved to have eons ago. The truth is, we’ve never had a level playing field here. Before we can really be the country we aspire to be, we need to address that. Now that so many of us have come out to vote — to hold political power in our hands — more of us will recognize that democracy works only when we make it work. And we will work to make it work.

There’s a circle of fire ahead. The process of rooting out the corruption that nearly destroyed us will be brutal. It has to be. Just as you can’t compromise with evil, nor can you compromise with corruption. The act of compromising immediately corrupts you. One of the questions we’ll have to ask is how did corruption come so close to overwhelming us? Where were the critical voices that should have guarded the commonweal more vigilantly?

When that question comes up, all eyes will look to our news media.

I sure hope they’ll be ready for their close up.

Dear American News Media: Stop Asking The Democrats To Compromise With Republicans; No One Should Compromise With Evil

“Evil” is a loaded word. It’s a little like “Nazi” or comparing people to Hitler. Back when Donald Trump was sworn in — and some of us noticed how evil and Nazi-like Trump was already behaving — “Godwin’s Law” was invoked (Godwin’s Law says that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”) to poo-poo any such comparisons. Donald Trump — per the news media — was just a “different kind of potus”. You know, the kind that doesn’t follow rules. Or the law. Or the Constitution.

Donald Trump is not a “different” kind of president, he’s a criminal. He’s a rapist and a thief and a money launderer and a traitor (not necessarily in that order). That’s all in the public record. It would be how we already think of Trump — except the news media keeps setting side all the details they learn about Trump in order to start each day’s reporting from that “he’s a different kind of potus” perch.

Oy.

If Donald Trump walked into the house of each of those journalists who can’t put the proper names to Trump’s criminal, corrupt, treasonous behavior and deliberately infected them and their whole families, I bet those brave journalists would call out Trump for being not just evil but Evil. I guess once their families are in the game, shit gets too real. But what about other families?

Evil is evil is Evil. Raping women is evil. Donald Trump is a rapist. Money laundering is evil. Trump has laundered copious amounts of Russian mob money. Separating children from their parents and putting them in cages is evil. Trump has done that. Committing treason is evil — as is stealing an election (then trying to steal your re-election) and lying about a pandemic because it hurts your electoral chances.

Mitch McConnell — he’s evil, too. Where to begin?

Mitch’s pandemic relief proposal is designed to be too little to do anyone any good. Remember: it’s Mitch’s game plan to kill off any possibility of “socialized” government. Pandemic relief — to the RW money behind Mitch — is the same as UBI (universal basic income). That’s even worse than socialized medicine to these crony capitalists. As horrified as Mitch is by Nancy Pelosi’s $2.2 billion dollar demand for relief, he was even more horrified by Trump spitting and spewing how he wants to shell out way more (he’s at that desperate “buy all the votes you can!” place).

The point: Mitch isn’t negotiating. His starting point was meant as his end point — and he was reluctant to be that generous. By design, Mitch’s proposal won’t pay anyone nearly enough to stay home and wait out the pandemic (like most other countries have done). Like Trump, he’s happy with everyone rushing into the pandemic’s maw — so long as he gets to stay safely at home.

Quick reminder: In the leadup to election 2016, Mitch refused to let We The People in on the dirty secret that Russia was weighing in to the election, bent on making Trump president. It was Mitch who tossed aside the sanctions against Oleg Deripaska so he could score a $400 million Russian aluminum factory in Kentucky. Deripaska, remember, was sanctioned for his role in subverting the 2016 election.

Mitch McConnell is evil — with a turtle face.

The news media — and a few wavering Democrats — want Nancy Pelosi to compromise with Mitch and the Republicans. They want us to take Mitch’s bullshit proposal seriously. They want us to make a deal with bullshit. With evil bullshit.

While some very desperate people will get relief the desperately need, that very short term fix won’t solve their long term problem. In fact, it will exacerbate their long term problem. Evil will have gained greater leverage.

How might the Jews have compromised with the Holocaust hunting them? How might the Armenians have compromised with the Turks hell bent on slaughtering them? How about the Croats being snipered by the racist Serbs? I could go on.

The people urging compromise with evil have never been subjected to evil. Or, if they have, they’ve sold out as a response — hoping like hell that by selling out, they can avoid the slaughter. Like the Jewish capo’s who worked with the Germans in the Warsaw Ghetto — offering to fill the railroad cars bound for the camps themselves. These Judenrats — Jewish councils — did all of Hitler’s dirtiest work for him — and then got tossed onto the same pile of bodies anyway.

All compromise bought was a little time — at the expense of one’s soul.

That’s a terrible deal.

It’d be like compromising with Donald Trump — and letting him inside your house to harangue you (while infecting you and your entire family).

Only a fool — or, apparently, an American journalist — would do such a thing.

Dear Republicans: We The People Are Angrier At You Than You Realize

It’s a line that sends chills through the spine of every married man who ever cheated: “I will NOT be ignored, Dan.” That’s what Glenn Close’s character in “Fatal Attraction”, Alex, says a few screen minutes before she boils a pet rabbit. She’s pissed and her feelings will have to be assuaged before the rage dies down. We The People know just how Alex feels. Donald Trump and the Republican Party have done us wrong every which way. The bastards have boiled our rabbit even. And, for that, they must atone.

The Republicans are now all-in on their power grab. The soft coup d’etat they started in 2016 (Donald Trump, we will learn, won neither the popular NOR the Electoral College votes — now that we account for and remove Russia’s impact on the results. Russia cannot win an American election. Neither can the political party that aligned themselves with a hostile foreign power carrying out an act of cyber war.

That’s something else the Republicans don’t realize they’ve done. The anger at them isn’t simple. It isn’t about one thing. It’s about a whole bunch of things — that ultimately come down to one thing (greed). But, as we stand here in the midst of the most important election this country will ever have, what will strike us is how many terrible, criminal, corrupt things the Republicans have done — and how much they deserve to be punished for every last bit of it.

Were it just the treason alone, of course, that would be bad enough. Perversely, the catalogue of Trumpian criminality is so vast that we’ve already forgotten that Donald Trump is the first president EVER to run for re-election having been IMPEACHED for cheating in the very election he’s now running in. We ain’t in Kansas here, Toto. Even Kansas isn’t in Kansas anymore.

Republican greed and selfishness have now resulted in actual American death. Their response to the pandemic can never be forgiven. They’ve effectively gutted the rule of law. That can’t be forgiven either. We will get it back in working order though — and when we do, Republicans will be shocked by how many of them suddenly have giant legal problems. Pretty much all of them will actually. See something, say something. See something, say nothing? We have to ask “Why?”

Why did so many Republican say nothing when they KNEW it was morally, ethically and legally wrong?

We’re angry now because we see the Republican Party and Donald Trump cheating out in the open. We see how we outnumber them. We see how we are the majority and they are not. That they are still trying to impose their will over us — well, frankly, that’s really pissing us off. Having been on the receiving end of sexual assault when I was 14, I know what this feeling on the back of my neck is. Donald Trump and the Republicans may not be physically assaulting us but the impact on our minds is no different.

We feel under assault because we are under assault. And, having told them to stop repeatedly, now that we’ve gotten to our feet, we intend to make the Republican Party stop. They will not like how this ends.

I’m not saying the feeding frenzy around the Republicans as the accusations start to land won’t be fun to watch. It absolutely will be. But the catharsis will be exquisite. That’s what will drive us, drive our fury: our need to catharsis our way past this moment of epic awfulness.

There’s an “uh oh” moment coming to the GOP as more and more Republicans realize that not only are they losing the election, but also they’re entering a winter wilderness of shame, investigation, indictment and financial hardship. You can already hear them begging for a deal if only to lighten their brutal sentencing.

And the sentencing for what the Republicans have done will be brutal — at least it will seem that way to them. As we all know, most Republicans are nothing but soft, white underbelly. They’re bullies at heart, good at kicking their victims when they’re down — but only if someone is holding them down. They’re charmless sociopaths out on a joyride.

In their calculus, the Republicans must think we’ll feel obligated to keep what they did because… that’s how criminals think. They don’t want to give back what they stole but then — IT’S NOT UP TO THEM. We The People are the victims of a crime perpetrated upon us by the Republican Party. In 2016, We The People voted one way — for Hillary Clinton and whatever she wanted to make of her presidency — but, instead, were given Donald Trump because the Republican Party had conspired with Russia to alter the results in three key states: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

We will arrive here: Donald Trump is not now nor has he ever been the legitimate president. He had no right or business taking any oath of office (that he would break even as he spoke it). He’s the only fake in our fake news cavalcade. Having never been the legitimate potus with the legitimate authority vested in him, at no point did he ever have the authority to sign legislation into law, make presidential pronouncements, put together a cabinet or even nominate judges. IOW Donald Trump never had the authority to nominate a single one of the unqualified hacks he nominated up to and including Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barnett.

There really are a thousand very good reasons for Americans to be angry at Donald Trump. What he’s done to this country is, well, criminal.

The Best Thing One Can Say About Originalism Is That It’s Total, Utter Nonsense

Antonin Scalia — the King of Originalism — should have taken originalism to the grave with him. Not that the worms deserve either. Intellectually, originalism is the quintessential make-it-up-as-you-go-along, “White Guy” argument. “But the rules! But the rules!” says the one who wrote the rules, then broke them repeatedly then got upset when others threatened to write the rules instead. Even on its surface, originalism stinks. Scratch that surface and you unleash a whole sewage system of awfulness.

Never mind the fact that the King of Originalism, Scalia, set originalism aside to write the decision that will most define him: Bush v Gore. Not only did he set originalism aside to write that bit of flaming horse shit, he made Bush v Gore a one-time deal. It followed no rules then made itself unique — all in one neat, corrupt, decision.

Originalism insists the Constitution is stuck in time; therefore so is America. If not for those nasty amendments, America would still be a bastion for rich, white, Christian land owners. Like in the 1780s. The opposite view sees the Constitution as a living, breathing, dynamic document (designed) to serve America’s living, breathing, dynamic population. You know, what that famous Republican president called “Government OF the People, BY the People and FOR the People.”

Originalism is about controlling the mythology and pretending it’s the law. It’s Magical Thinking written in lawyer font.

It’s about pretending words say things they don’t.

It’s all about cynicism.

The only correct response when some right wing nitwit hauls originalism onto the table is “Oh, shut up”. The goal is to make you chase them down their rabbit hole because that’s what originalism is: a damned rabbit hole.

“Oh, shut up.” See? Easy!