Our News Media, The Big Lie And Bullsh*t Kabuki

A few days ago, I blogged about “Republicans, The Big Lie And Bullshit Kabuki”. The whole notion of “A Big Lie” should stop us in our tracks. The fact that The Big Lie exists as a thing we all acknowledge — and acknowledge what it is and what it means — yet haven’t cut the legs out from under it — that’s a clue to us both how powerful Bullshit Kabuki is and how susceptible our news media is to it. The fact that Republican Congresspeople who six months ago decried the mob now want to forget there ever was one is a piece of Bullshit Kabuki all by itself.

Anyone’s who’s had kids knows what I’ mean by “Bullshit Kabuki”. You ask your kid a question where the answer’s going to be uncomfortable for them. You’ve caught them out but they refuse to give in. And, so, the theatrics begin — the kabuki. The words really don’t matter (it’s all bullshit, right?) because it’s all an improv based on a lie. At any moment, the details could change one hundred eighty degrees because the storyteller just bumped into a logic problem. Here’s where good parents ignore what’s being said and focus instead on the performer’s eyes. For starters, those eyes won’t meet yours except fleetingly — when they shoot a glance in your direction to see if you’re buying the crap they’re selling. If your kids are older — teenagers — they jump right to belligerence. They don’t care if you’re buying what they’re selling, that’s what they’re selling, take it or leave it.

Literally the entire Republican Party — minus Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger (who both enabled this vile behavior up to the point where even they couldn’t tolerate the bullshit anymore) — has committed one hundred percent to The Big Lie. That should be the end of all conversations. We should be grinding to a halt at the very notion of a “Big Lie” just as we should have ground to a halt at “Mexicans are rapists”. Think of how far this vile waste of carbon, Donald Trump, has pushed what should have been the envelope. With the GOP, it turns out, the envelope was always an illusion. Given the right stimulus, the conservative movement in America was always capable of what they’re doing — slowly rolling out a violent coup d’etat. To their credit, the Republicans are clever. If they can’t overthrow the last election (which they’re STILL trying to do), they’ll simply give themselves the means to overturn all future elections when the results don’t go their way.

If that’s the case — that any election result can be tossed because the losing party doesn’t like it — the losing party ALWAYS being the Republicans — then elections stop meaning anything since their results can always be “fixed”. For the record, this is not a problem that cuts both ways as both sides don’t think the same. It would never occur to Democrats to alter an election’s outcome because it went against them. That’s why they’re Democrats instead of Republicans because Democrats believe in democracy while Republicans don’t. That’s why Republicans gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters while Democrats don’t gerrymander (though they did in the past — to be fair) or ever even consider suppressing Republican voters. If every election’s results can be tossed for entirely political reasons then every election becomes a question mark rather than a statement.

To appreciate the GOP’s theatricality, you have to see the theater around them (as they do). Unfortunately, that’s beyond most of our news media. Our press remains determined that each and every Republican is an honest actor, there to tell the god’s honest truth. If they say they’re patriots, they must be patriots (because they say they are!) If they pooh-pooh the notion that they’re racist then, clearly, they can’t be racist. If they say the January 6 insurrection was a tourist event — or didn’t happen — then we have to consider the possibility that that could be true — because they said it.

Funny irony? Whenever our news media tries to quote the line “Well, who’re you gonna believe? Me or your own eyes?” they get it wrong. They don’t even get who SAID the line right (it’s Chico, not Groucho – from the movie “Duck Soup“).

It is absurd that more than six months after the Republican Party attempted but failed at a coup d’etat, our news media still can’t decide if anything actually happened. If I’m honest with myself, I understand them; I kept a secret from myself for 45 years that I’d been sexually molested (twice by the same man) when I was 14. I understand lying to oneself as an act of self defense. We don’t need that here; we need the truth!

As I’ve said here repeatedly, any framing of the GOP that doesn’t include the fact that they’ve always known Trump was a Russian military intelligence asset (as current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it upon entering a room filled with GOP leaders a month BEFORE the GOP nominated Trump in 2016, “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump, swear to God!”) is based on a lie. Per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s advice to his collaborators at the time (that’s how he spoke to them), everyone there agreed to “keep it in the family”. You know, like a MAFIA FAMILY.

From the get-go, Trump has tried to hide the true nature of his relationship with Vlad Putin. Why, is not a mystery: the relationship’s true nature has always been clear and distinct. Putin is the alpha and Trump is the beta.

That’s the exact same reason why Donald Trump is the alpha in his relationship with the GOP and they are the out-and-out beta. It’s kind of mind-boggling that professional journalists can stare at something as evident as Putin’s literal control of Trump and — after five bloody years of it! — STILL not ask the obvious question: “what is UP with that?” Oh, sure, they ask that question — amongst themselves and on TV while scratching their heads. It wouldn’t be journalistically unethical to consider — merely as one of the possible explanations — that the reason Trump’s so beholden to Putin is that Trump’s a traitor to America and has been the whole time. One doesn’t have to present it as stone cold fact; like any good journalist, one is just asking a question. If the facts damn it then that’s what will happen. But, if the facts suggest it’s the right answer…

The problem is, our press loves bullshit kabuki. They crave it. While they happily make fun of the GOP’s Bullshit Kabuki, they also find it strangely compelling. They love Bullshit Kabuki’s rabbit hole nature.

Avoid the rabbit hole — that’s the trick. Bullshit Kabuki must be consumed in small doses; it’s surprisingly potent. One second you’re gazing at it dismissively, the next, you’re falling through space and time, the walls of the rabbit hole blurring as you plunge faster and faster.

Kevin McCarthy & How Bullsh*t Metastasizes

The Republican Party is a case study of what happens when bullshit is given credence. Here’s current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy explaining at a news conference today why Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi rejecting Trump’s nutsack warmer Jim Jordan and professional seditionist Jim Banks is tantamount to destroying the Institution Of The House Of Representative. Fact: Kevin McCarthy hasn’t an honest bone in his body. Not an honest atom in fact. Even the space between the atoms of Kevin McCarthy’s body lacks integrity. But then, Kevin has ALWAYS known that Donald Trump was a traitor. A month before the GOP nominated Trump to bear their standard in 2016, Kevin walked into a room of GOP leaders in Washington, DC and said — out loud (it was recorded and played later for reporters)“There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump. Swear to God!” Kevin said “Swear to God” in response to the nervous laughter that broke out in the room.

Think about this. A month BEFORE they nominate Trump, the GOP leadership has a conversation about the fact that Trump “could be” taking money from a hostile foreign government who everyone in that room KNOWS means us no good in the long run. If this was true — if Kevin’s suspicion was confirmed — it would mean disaster for America because a person running for president wasn’t what he said he was. You would think something like your presidential candidate being owned by Russia would set off the alarm bells. Kevin certainly was alarmed when he walked into the room.

But no one else in the room seemed surprised. No one said “Whaaaaat? Kevin — dude — are you SURE about that? Are you SURE our presidential nominee has been compromised like that?” There was nervous laughter instead. The few times McCarthy HAS been asked about this episode, he’s insisted (as Trumpanistas always do) that it was all just a “joke” and not a very good one. Wow. Those Trumpanistas are remarkably consistent when it comes to failing at comedy. I guess it’s just one more way all Trump World tries to be like Trump.

The correct response in that roomful of Republicans that Kevin walked into back in 2016 would have been to pick up the phone right then and there and call the FBI. That they didn’t is bullshit (worse, it’s treason!). That Kevin McCarthy insisted he was joking is bullshit. That no reporter since then has asked Kevin about this odd moment — that’s bullshit. That journalists actually think a traitor like Kevin McCarthy could become Speaker Of The House despite everything the press knows about him — and it’s impossible since January 6 to think of Kevin as being anything other than a fellow traveler among insurrectionists — is oppressive.

Kevin McCarthy is a case study in what happens when bullshit metastasizes — in Kevin’s case, he went from thinking “Putin pays Rohrbacher and Trump” (making Kevin a co-conspirator to commit treason) into being one of treason’s ringleaders.

Anyway — here’s Kevin doing his bullshit kabuki at the presser —

“Whatever It Is, I’m Against It!”

We all have a special song. Okay, we all have lots of special songs but there’s one in particular that, as you go through life, it never stops being deeply relevant. It’s the one that pops into your head with remarkable regularity because it applies in so many ways to so many things. This is the song that spoke TO you and FOR you in equal measure like no other song. The trick is, you have to get pretty far down the road to realize which song that is and why that song was “it”. The first instant I saw the Marx Brothers — Groucho in particular — I knew they were kindred spirits. And then, after decimating the room with a barrage of brilliant barbs, Groucho starts to sing.

The movie is “Horse Feathers” The setting is Huxley College — an institution of higher education successful enough to have a faculty and a football team but, apparently, no capacity to do any sort of meaningful executive search considering as they just hired Groucho’s Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff to take over running the joint. But then, real life logic doesn’t play inside a Marx Brothers movie. That, too, made them appealing when I was ten years old. At ten, you’re starting to fall into line, doing what the adults tell you to do even as you’re just starting to sense (your teenage years not too, too far ahead) that every adult is full of shit. When, suddenly, one of the adults wheels around — breaking the fourth wall — and tells you some stone cold truths about adults that makes them look foolish? I’m all ears.

Groucho’s Professor Wagstaff sings:

I don’t know what they have to say
It makes no difference anyway
Whatever it is, I’m against it
No matter what it is or who commenced it
I’m against it

This born contrarian heard those words and felt immediate kinship. The target was always authority. In every Marx Brothers movie, the rich look fatuous and silly. In “Horse Feathers”, academia gets hosed. In the brilliant “Duck Soup”, it’s political power. In “A Night At The Opera”, it’s stuffy, white culture and rich people again. Groucho best summarized the persistent sentiment this way: “I would not want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member”. I’m even against me if ever I become the power.

The song’s theme is reflected in the name of this blog. “How to live bullshit free” has focused its attention on bullshit itself as the “it” in the “whatever it is”. And, if we’re talking about bullshit –mine especially (since my bullshit is what matters to me as yours should matter most to you) — then I am absolutely one hundred percent against it.

Everyone May Have Their Point Of View But Not Every Point Of View Has A Valid Point

There was a terrific Monty Python sketch called “The Argument Clinic” where — pure theatre of the absurd — a customer (played by Brian Jones) goes to an argument clinic where he pays to have an argument with an argument counselor played by John Cleese. Right off the bat, Cleese’s counselor is disagreeable and argumentative but, has he started the customer’s argument session or is he just arguing on his own time? At one point, they argue over what constitutes an argument versus, say, just back and forth gainsaying. In the end, bringing the whole absurd idea around again, Jones, exasperated by Cleese, mutters on his way out the door “What a stupid concept”. Arguing — all by itself — is easy. Any idiot can do that. Making a real, valid point however — that’s much harder to do — in part because not everyone has a valid or justifiable point. This is what makes social media such a lure but also such a losing proposition. Everyone brings their point of view to the par-tay. It’s remarkable how few of those points of view actually have a valid point.

Even if we stripped away the shield of anonymity from social media, I bet few of those extreme positions would change. Fewer might get expressed out loud — because cowardice or because insincere — but they’d represent the very same political positions. The racist thugs who don’t care that The Big Lie is a lie have a very distinct point of view. Does their point of view have a valid point though? Corruption has a point of view — as do the corrupt. But does corruption or the corrupt have a point (other than self-enrichment at everyone else’s expense)? No. The guy who steals your car or breaks into your house or molests your kid — he has his reasons for doing what he’s doing. If you got to face that bastard in court, you’d present your side of what happened — describing a crime victim’s point of view. They were living their life quite happily until the criminal who victimized them entered the picture. What valid point — what reason — might this criminal have for doing what they did? As valid points go, this is a null set.

Donald Trump has his point of view. Does Donald Trump have any sort of “point”? We could ask the same question about Vladimir Putin but we’ll get a very different answer. Of course Putin has his point of view. But, Putin also has a point. We may not agree with his point — the restoration of “Greater Russia” and the diminishment of American power and liberal democracy — but Putin has one. He’s even stated that point out loud. That he resorts to nefarious means to achieve his points? It’s part of his larger point. Trump isn’t trying to achieve anything other than his own enrichment and staying out of prison.

“Both sides do it” brand journalism — in love with its own false neutrality — credits every argument with being valid just because the people arguing it say so. This was how we got years of talking heads segments on the cable news networks where climate scientists and climate science deniers were pitted against each other. In those segments, the climate scientist would sit on one side — taking up 50% of the screen — while the climate science denier took up the other 50% of the screen. In the visual language — which we all now understand because visual information flows at us constantly — that means the argument is between two equal points. Fifty-fifty. It’s up to the audience to decide who’s telling the truth and who’s being deceptive, between who’s right here and who’s wrong. The fact is, it’s NOT a fifty-fifty. The climate scientist has it 100% right while the denier has it 100% wrong. But a NEWS show is telling us (even if unintentionally) that bullshit could be true. It’s up to us.

Nothing good can come from news organizations refusing to call bullshit “bullshit”.

Anonymity exacerbates bullshit’s potency and the speed with which it spreads. “I heard that…” is how someone with bullshit in mind intends to put that bullshit into YOUR mind. It’s the tell that a pointless point of view is trying to weasel its way into the conversation.

It’s a rabbit hole. Avoid it.

“Karma’s A Stone Cold Bitch: Mitch McConnell Thinks He Can Kneecap Democracy Edition”

Gulp! Moscow Mitch McConnell looks behind — sees Karma gaining on him fast! Inside his turtle head, he thinks “Please, Turtle feets, don’t fail me now!

In the pantheon of corruption, Mitch McConnell holds a very special place.

Mitch is all about money and power. Those are his constituents and the people of Kentucky can go eff themselves as far as Mitch is concerned. Same goes for the rest of We The People. Mitch McConnell wants to save the filibuster and stop Americans from voting and become majority leader one last time before he withers away. Mitch’s problem is he doesn’t want to die in federal prison. He’s guilty of multiple instances of public corruption, obstruction of justice and outright TREASON. He’s always counted on getting away with it all — as white, Christian men of privilege always have in America.

Unfortunately for Mitch, that’s about to change. Even if we set Russia aside for the moment, it’s a stone cold fact that the investigation into the January 6 insurrection will find and prove clear cooperation and planning between the insurrectionists and the Trump White House. Nothing about the insurrection was spontaneous — including Trump’s reaction to it. Considering Russia’s involvement in everything else Trump did, it defies logic to expect that Russia had zero to do with the insurrection. Of course they did. The insurrectionists, whether they know it or not (it does not matter), allied themselves with Russia’s purposes. And Russia, we know, is actively engaging in a cyber war against us. And cyber war is as much “WAR” as any other sort of war.

If we ask the question “Which side of the cyber war does Mitch McConnell fight for?” the answer is Russia. Take this to the bank: Mitch’s name will soon replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet Americans use when they want to brand someone a “traitor”.

When we get to the end of this sorry-assed saga, Mitch McConnell will stand as one of American history’s uberest Uber-Villains. His name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet hurled when you want to call someone a “traitor”. If you want to know just how severely damaged Moscow Mitch is — he’s a lonely bully having his revenge on the rest of the schoolyard — read Jane Meyer’s excellent piece on Mitch in the New Yorker. The schoolyard is about to put an end to that.

Even so, the schoolyard isn’t Mitch’s biggest problem. THAT would be Karma. And Karma has big, BIG plans for Mitch because Mitch has created so much horrible Karma himself. At the end of the day, it will be Karma that has the very last laugh where Mitch is concerned. I think it’ll go something like this…

The end comes… Mitch dies and finds himself reincarnated as “Mitch McConnell:  Toilet Brush” —

A Toilet Brush or Mitch

Poor Mitch. What a come down! Ah, but that’s not the worst of it… ‘MITCH THE TOILET BRUSH‘ lives HERE —

WORST TOILET

Mitch is the “Official Toilet Brush” for the most horrible toilet in the world. Ah, but even that isn’t the bottom. Mitch’s toilet lives at a REFUGEE CAMP where CHOLERA just broke out!

Refugee Camp

And there’s already a LINE to use Mitch’s Toilet (and every last person in line has EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA) —

line of refugees 1

  And that line goes on…

Line of Refugees 2

And on…

Refugees3

And on… And STILL, it gets worse for Mitch — Cos THIS is the creature at the very end of that line…

Monster at end of line

And it doesn’t make ‘dainty’ piles like THIS —

pileofcrap

Nope — it produces an endless stream of foul-smelling poison as toxic as Mitch’s ‘soul’. And just as Mitch sees how massive and unending that STREAM OF LIQUID SHIT IS

He wakes up — and realizes it was all in his head — A DAYDREAM!

And that makes Mitch happy (even happier than Koch Money does when it lines his pockets — and that’s a lot of happy).

Happy Mitch

Everything, Mitch realizes, is back to normal.  And he turns to go about what he was doing (before that awful daydream) and he reaches out TO SHAKE THE HAND of THIS MAN —

THE HANDSHAKE

And the KARMA TREE starts all over again…

Forever and ever and ever… Hey, Karma: Three, two, one — GO!

If You Haven’t Sampled The Faitheism Project Podcast, This Is A Good One To Sample

Our sister site — The Faitheism Project Podcast — just dropped its latest podcast and (okay, I’m biased), I really recommend it.

In “The Faitheism Project Podcast”, a devout atheist (me) and a Presbyterian Pastor (my friend Randy Lovejoy) sit down to discuss spirituality — as opposed to religion. They are, in fact, two very different things. And, once you make that distinction, a conversation about religion becomes less contentious because, as Randy and I keep discovering, all of us, really, are on the same kind of spiritual journey; we just use different vocabulary to describe it. The Faitheism Project Podcast opens up the discussion by removing judgment. It’s not about winning an argument. It’s about discovering our commonality where we least expect to find it.

In this episode, Randy lets his hair down. He talks with remarkable candor about his actual spiritual process — the path that led him to where he is. It’s been challenging in ways both spiritual and physical. He’s been to some pretty remote places, put himself in harm’s way because he truly wanted to help those who most needed help by going TO them and directly helping. We’ve all got a horrible travel story or two in our past — especially one where either food or water and our gut went to war with each other.

Randy’s stories beat anything I’ve got hands down — for which I am grateful.

In this podcast, I also do a tribute to my old boss the action movie director Dick Donner. Dick was my boss back when I ran “Tales From The Crypt” for HBO. Dick — if you don’t know — produced and directed the “Lethal Weapon” movies, “Scrooged”, “The Goonies”, “Timeline”, a gazillion TV shows (back in the 60’s) and the horror classic “The Omen”.

Dick had a theory as to why “The Omen” succeeded as massively as it did. And his theory had something to do with the family Bible that sat in many American homes (unread of course).

There’s also a YouTube version (if you prefer to watch).

Please enjoy!

Republicans, The Big Lie And Bullsh*t Kabuki

Anyone’s who’s had kids knows what I’m talking about. You ask your kid a question where the answer’s going to be uncomfortable for them. You’ve caught them out but they refuse to give in. And, so, the theatrics begin — the kabuki. The words really don’t matter (it’s all bullshit, right?) because it’s all an improv based on a lie. At any moment, the details could change one hundred eighty degrees because the storyteller just bumped into a logic problem. Here’s where good parents ignore what’s being said and focus instead on the performer’s eyes. For starters, those eyes won’t meet yours except fleetingly — when they shoot a glance in your direction to see if you’re buying the crap they’re selling. If your kids are older — teenagers — they jump right to belligerence. They don’t care if you’re buying what they’re selling, that’s what they’re selling, take it or leave it.

Literally the entire Republican Party — minus Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger (who both enabled this vile behavior up to the point where even they couldn’t tolerate the bullshit anymore) — has committed one hundred percent to The Big Lie. That should be the end of all conversations. We should be grinding to a halt at the very notion of a “Big Lie” just as we should have ground to a halt at “Mexicans are rapists”. Think of how far this vile waste of carbon, Donald Trump, has pushed what should have been the envelope. With the GOP, it turns out, the envelope was always an illusion. Given the right stimulus, the conservative movement in America was always capable of what they’re doing — slowly rolling out a violent coup d’etat. To their credit, the Republicans are clever. If they can’t overthrow the last election (which they’re STILL trying to do), they’ll simply give themselves to overturn all future elections when the results don’t go their way.

If that’s the case — that any election result can be tossed because the losing party doesn’t like it — the losing party ALWAYS being the Republicans — then elections stop meaning anything since their results can always be “fixed”. For the record, this is not a problem that cuts both ways as both sides don’t think the same. It would never occur to Democrats to alter an election’s outcome because it went against us. That’s why they’re Democrats instead of Republicans because Democrats believe in democracy while Republicans don’t. That’s why Republicans gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters while Democrats don’t gerrymander (though they did in the past — to be fair) or ever even consider suppressing Republican voters. If every election’s results can be tossed for entirely political reasons then every election becomes a question mark rather than a statement.

To appreciate the GOP’s theatricality, you have to see the theater around them (as they do). Unfortunately, that’s beyond most of our news media. Our press remains determined that each and every Republican is an honest actor, there to tell the the god’s honest truth. If they say they’re patriots, they must be patriots (because they say they are!) If they pooh-pooh the notion that they’re racist then, clearly, they can’t be racist. If they say the January 6 insurrection was a tourist event — or didn’t happen — then we have to consider the possibility that that could be true — because they said it.

That’s our news media going toe to toe in a cynicism fight with the Republican Party. Who’s going to win? Maybe a better question is “can’t they both lose?”

It is absurd that more than six months after the Republican Party attempted but failed at a coup d’etat, our news media still can’t decide if anything actually happened. If I’m honest with myself, I understand them; I kept a secret from myself for 45 years that I’d been sexually molested (twice by the same man) when I was 14. I understand lying to oneself as an act of self defense. We don’t need that here; we need the truth!

As I’ve said here repeatedly, any framing of the GOP that doesn’t include the fact that they’ve always known Trump was a Russian military intelligence asset (as current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it upon entering a room filled with GOP leaders a month BEFORE the GOP nominated Trump in 2016, “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump, swear to God!”) is based on a lie. Per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s advice to his collaborators at the time (that’s how he spoke to them), everyone there agreed to “keep it in the family”. You know, like a MAFIA FAMILY.

From the get-go, Trump has tried to hide the true nature of his relationship with Vlad Putin. Why, is not a mystery: the relationship’s true nature has always been clear and distinct. Putin is the alpha and Trump is the beta.

That’s the exact same reason why Donald Trump is the alpha in his relationship with the GOP and they are the out-and-out beta. It’s kind of mind-boggling that professional journalists can stare at something as evident as Putin’s literal control of Trump and — after five bloody years of it! — STILL not ask the obvious question: “what is UP with that?” Oh, sure, they ask that question — amongst themselves and on TV while scratching their heads. It wouldn’t be journalistically unethical to consider — merely as one of the possible explanations — that the reason Trump’s so beholden to Putin is that Trump’s a traitor to America and has been the whole time. One doesn’t have to present it as stone cold fact; like any good journalist, one is just asking a question. If the facts damn it then that’s what will happen. But, if the facts suggest it’s the right answer…

The problem is, our press likes bullshit kabuki. It’s easy for them to poke at and make fun of. Yet, also they find it strangely compelling. They love bullshit kabuki’s rabbit hole nature.

Avoid the rabbit hole — that’s the trick. Bullshit kabuki must be consumed in small doses; it’s surprisingly potent. One second you’re gazing at it dismissively, the next, you’re falling through space and time, the walls of the rabbit hole blurring as you plunge faster and faster.

Teams v Mobs

Successful teams do historic things. So do mobs. While both rely on the “groupiness” of their effort, the team needs clear organization and a process; everyone needs to know and do their part. Teamwork rewards everyone who puts in the work to help the team succeed. Even the greatest of great ideas require teamwork in order to move from the abstract to the real. And, ask any athlete — even the ones who play individual sports — if they really accomplished greatness entirely on their own. No, they’ll tell you, they didn’t. Others had to sacrifice in order for them to realize their greatness. That’s not a bad thing. It’s how greatness happens — even spontaneously.

Mobs also can happen spontaneously except their energy doesn’t go in the same direction that a team’s does. Whoever’s calling out the mob — or directing their efforts once the mob has formed — THAT’S the mob’s “organizing principle”. The mob isn’t working as a team, it’s working as a cynical chaos machine at someone’s behest. Sometimes however, mobs can be organized so that they behave like mobs while not exactly looking like mobs. The January 6 insurrectionists looked like a mob but they weren’t the mob’s organizing principle. As we’re learning, the January 6 insurrection wasn’t spontaneous. Not even remotely. People (some inside the White House) planned it and planned for it. Then they directed the mob where they wanted it to spend its rage.

What Joe Biden pulled off — becoming the POTUS — required a lot of teamwork. Overcoming Trumpism required (and still requires) teamwork. Everyone had to put their personal comforts aside and make the group their priority even if it meant standing in nine for hours to vote — in the midst of a pandemic — and despite the weather. I don’t recall seeing Republicans standing in line for hours. That’s because most Republicans didn’t have to. Their precincts had enough voting machines and enough volunteers to handle any situation. Hmmmmm… Sounds like teamwork of a kind, doesn’t it? But this was a “team” working at the behest of corruption at the top. People working for a crime boss can be remarkably efficient. Their efforts don’t benefit the larger “we” however. They only benefit a handful of people — a “me”.

Getting vaccinated demands that every one of us think of ourselves as part of a team. Getting vaxxed makes us better teammates because we won’t get sick (or anywhere near as sick as if we didn’t get vaxxed). We won’t transmit the virus, should we get it, to others. Not getting sick, we won’t tax the health care system. We’ll give the economy a chance to get better faster. The team that is We The People will get back to something like “normal” sooner. NOT getting vaxxed has all the opposite effects. Unless your immune system is compromised, there is no excuse not to do what the team demands. There are only crap excuses for selfish behavior.

The Delta Variant is now raging through all the unvaccinated parts of America — except for Nevada, all red states. This time, young people are landing in over-taxed hospitals. Some are dying. It’s tragedy heaped upon tragedy and it’s all preventable. I just saw a clip on MSNBC. A reporter asks a high school students in Arkansas — one of the few getting vaccinated at the vaccination event set up at their high school — why THEY are getting the stick while most of their classmates aren’t.

Turns out, most of those kids getting vaxxed in this now anti-vax red state are athletes. And the reason they’re all getting it? TEAMWORK. If anyone on their team gets sick, the whole team will have to sit down. One member’s fate is everyone’s fate.

Ironically, even when they rely on teamwork, Republicans view teamwork as something for suckers. Criminals, of necessity, need to be able to turn on their co-conspirators at the drop of an indictment. In several recent interviews, Donald Trump’s niece Mary Trump has stated that her cousin Ivanka will probably flip before Allen Weisselberg, Trumpco’s money man, does. That either would “flip” shouts volumes. That Ivanka would flip — that bellows at the top of its lungs. These people don’t even see a “team” where it should be most firmly entrenched — in their own family.

Oh, the irony… as “team-like” as organized criminals can be, we call them “the mob”. And as every good cop can tell you, it takes significant teamwork to bring down a mob.

Things Both Sides Don’t Do

The fundamental flaw of “both sides do it” journalism is that it’s inherently untrue. Democrats and Republicans both seek public office and both want to run he country “their way”, but aside from that? The two sides — conservative and progressive (let’s stick a pin in “Democrat” & “Republican”) — have almost nothing in common. They see the world in diametrically opposite terms. Conservatives value the past as much as they fear the future and any prospect for change. The past isn’t an abstraction for conservatives, it’s their goal; they want to take America back into a time in its past (the 1850’s) where everyone knew their place — men, women, Black people… . The problem with democracy and everyone voting — from the Republican point of view — is that when more Americans exercise their right to vote, they vote against Republicans. Who can blame them? No one wants to return to an era when only white, wealthy, land-owning, Christian men held power — except white Christian men.

Both sides did not condone slavery. The Republican Party that Lincoln joined is not the Republican Party that worships Donald Trump. Hell, it’s not even the same political party that, until Trump, revered Saint Ronnie Reagan. In her terrific history of the Republican Party “To Make Men Free”, historian Heather Cox Richardson describes a party that, if you only read its founding principles, you’d swear was the modern Democrats. When Teddy Roosevelt felt his progressivism shining brightly inside of him, he quit the GOP and formed a third party (the Bull Moose Party) because the Republicans had already strayed far beyond their principles. When the Republican Party formed itself, it WAS the “progressive” party.

Eisenhower was probably the last Republican with a conscience. The next Republican to take the White House was Nixon. Until Reagan, Nixon was the Republican rallying point. On the day he resigned from office — because of Watergate — Nixon’s approval rating sat at 29%. That same psychotic faction now sits above 30%. They’re nowhere near half of us however nor will they ever be. That will be our saving grace. When Eisenhower warned us about the “military-industrial complex”, it wasn’t progressives that Republican president was worried about, it was fellow Republicans.

Eisenhower was a decent man. But, decency aside, it still took him years to finally condemn Joe McCarthy in public. Both sides do not declare war on other Americans’ patriotism the way Republicans — excuse me, the way CONSERVATIVES do. Only one side does that — and, ironically, Republicans aren’t shy about questioning each others’ patriotism either.

Both sides don’t live in the past. Both sides don’t emulate the past. Both sides don’t revere the past. Both sides don’t harbor a secret desire to return to slavery days again. Both sides don’t see diversity as terrifying. Both sides don’t preach Christianity from one side of their heads while hypocritically contradicting every last bit of it. Both sides don’t stand with racists.

By the same token, both sides don’t stand with RAPISTS either. Only the GOP does that. Only the GOP.

Both sides don’t favor profits over people.

By the same token — both sides don’t back a living minimum wage. Only the Democrats back that. Only one side favors free public education all the way up through college or trade school. Only one side prefers to see as many Americans as possible saddled with massive student debt. Only one wide believes health CARE (not insurance, CARE) is a human right. It ain’t the Republicans. One side believes every single eligible American should get to vote — and that their votes should be counted. Again — NOT the Republicans.

One side believes that the best possible America will arise when the most Americans possible benefit from our freedoms. One side believes in altering how America thinks of “Infrastructure” to include what it always should have — the human infrastructure that keeps our whole society running. Only one side believes in fairness across the board, believes that rich people should pay their FAIR share in taxes.

Only one side believes in a woman’s right to choose her own reproductive future. Only one side believes that racism and bigotry and misogyny are evils.

Only one side declared Cultural Holy War against the other (a war Newt Gingrich declared on the left — a war the right is still waging).

Only one side saw demographic oblivion in a diversifying America — and made the CHOICE to undermine our democracy as a result. Only one side cynically hitched its wagon to Donald Trump even though they KNEW for a fact that Russia owned him.

Only one side — having chosen to commit treason alongside Trump — has done everything in its power to obstruct every facet of oversight or investigation into what Trump and the Republican Party did. Only one side has perjured itself and lied on a regular basis.

Only one side took part in the January 6 Insurrection. Only one side now calls what happened a “non event” or just “regular tourism”. Only one side is doing everything in its power to restrict voting rights in the face of the most secure election ever — where more Americans voted than ever.

Only one side refuses to vaccinate itself or its children. Only one side doesn’t care if it infects you or me or everyone they know — including their children.

I could go on.

Both sides do not behave like thugs, bullies and pirates. Only Republicans are good at marching in lock step like the wannabe Nazis they are. Democrats are still every bit the group of whom Will Rogers famously said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”.

When our run-in with history finally begins to slow down a little (which won’t be until we’re well into the punishment phase a few years from now), we’ll need to turn our focus on the news media and the myriad ways they failed America. They confused skepticism with cynicism — the most visible evidence of “both sides do it” and painted every American with the exact same brush. They see a bully trying to take away another American’s right to vote the same way they see the American who’s being bullied of their vote. They’re both just being “political” from our press’s point of view.

We The People deserve far, far better from our news media. They’re not going to fix themselves; hell, most of them can’t even see how deeply complicity they were in creating Trump. It’s going to be incumbent on all of us — the progressives — to “help” our news media become all they’re capable of becoming. They’ll kick and scream every bit of the way, like the recalcitrant children they are.

Why Change Is Anathema To Conservatives

I take conservatives at their word. They call themselves “conservatives” because their mission can best be summed up with that word: conservatives want to CONSERVE. Nothing is more important to a conservative than “what is” except for “what was“. What “was” really is the target — the past is what any conservative wants to conserve or as much of the past that still remains in the present. If they could suspend time and capture this moment in amber — and then force the rest of the world to live inside that frozen amber — that would make them supremely happy. White supremely happy. That’s the part of our human past conservatives point to with pride — when the descendants of white Northern Europeans ran America with zero interference from Black or brown people and also women. The Confederacy remains a high water mark in white culture TO white culture. In fact, I bet that if there was some way to put a “Bring Back Slavery” referendum on the ballot in some crazy Republican-run state, some Republican would do it, knowing that every other Republican now thought he was a god.

By its very nature, conservatism resists change at all costs. Whatever change it agrees to, it agrees to gradually and unwillingly. Conservatives know that change doesn’t just happen. It begins, often, with curiosity in the face of a problem: “Why are things the way they are (broken) — and what can we do to fix them or make them work better?” Conservatism will organically assert that the old way still works (“If it ain’t broke, don’t ‘fix’ it”) when, in fact, the old way NEVER worked for a significant portion of the population — the part that wasn’t rich, white and Christian. What conservatives mean is “If it ain’t broke for US, we have zero intention of letting YOU ‘fix it’.” All change, conservatives understand, begins with “new information”. Add “new information” to any environment and the environment instantly changes. Immediately, the old environment is gone — transformed into something, well, “new” because of that new information.

That terror has always been behind the conservative refusal to ever go along with sex education for kids. Right off the bat, the conservative assumption was that a young person armed with information about sex and their own sexuality would do the obvious: use it to start having informed sex. Or, worse, a young person armed with good information about human sexuality might go to the worst possible extreme. They’ll come out of the closet or confess to masturbating or, worst of all, find a modicum of happiness and contentment within their own skins. That’s the hold moral authority (usually in the form of a religious institution) has over many of us: they get to tell US what happiness is rather than each of us seeking the happiness that best suits us.

The last thing conservativism wants from those under its thumb is any sort of independent thinking. That’s ironic considering how married conservatives are to their notion that THEY are the “independent thinkers”. But, independent thinking and conservatism are mutually exclusive propositions. The commercial interests that started the American experiment — before the French Enlightenment had a chance to temper some of that exploitative thinking into at least the notion that “All men are created equal” — were conservative in their thinking. They didn’t see this continent as a place where everyone might be free, they saw it as a place where THEY might be free — at everyone else’s expense. Good thing the rest of the world grasped the magnificence of America’s founding concepts — the Black people the white people enslaved especially. Even better that they tolerated white people expropriating this magnificent idea for themselves as long as they did without surrendering. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

What’s changing — what’s making conservatives rise up in full grievance kabuki makeup — is that at long last America is beginning to realize the greatness of its ideals. That will not require a single white person losing what they have. In fact, it will make what they have even better. As more people — across the full spectrum of e pluiribus unum — benefit and prosper, the more fully EVERYONE will. Oh, the richest of the rich might not make quite as much as they used to — but then again, they might — because there will be exponentially more customers out there with money in their pockets.

When I think of what it is conservatives want to conserve, I almost feel sorry for them. They’re a sad, old spider protecting a wretched, old web, unaware that the future will eat them regardless. They might go kicking and screaming into that good night, but they’re going.

That’s the weirdest part: it doesn’t have to be. But change is so impossible for conservatives to accept that they’ll even blow a massive hole in their own foot to try and resist it. Then, still unsatisfied, they’ll turn that same weapon on themselves.