I have been up and I have been down. I have run major TV shows & made feature films and thought for sure I would never work again. I have stared into the abyss and walked away better for it.
If there's one thing I have learned from the experience, it's this: Bullshit is killing us all.
Let’s not mince words: Mitch McConnell is a traitor. His name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet Americans use when they want to call someone a “traitor”. Every mealy-mouthed word that Mitch mumbles is literally soaked in cynicism. He is the banality of evil writ large. But, make no mistake, Mitch IS evil. And the banal way he expresses that evil demands our attention. First, one has to realize that the words droning from Mitch may sound like English, but they’re not. They’re a language spoken by Mitch and a coterie of wealthy, white, Christian Republicans: “white bamboozlement”.
Example — re reparations to Black people for what slavery did to their families, to their rights, to their wealth, to their lives, to their history, to their status in America today, to justice, to fairness, to ever doing the right thing for the right thing’s sake, Mitch said THIS in 2019:Republican C
“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea. We’ve, you know, tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African-American president. I think we’re always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for that. And I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it. First of all, it would be pretty hard to figure out who to compensate. We’ve had waves of immigrants, as well, who have come to the country and experienced dramatic discrimination of one kind or another. So, no, I don’t think reparations are a good idea.
Betcha if the roles were reversed, Mitch wouldn’t feel that way. But then, Mitch’s attitude is based on the fact that Mitch and people like him have ALWAYS had the advantage, ALWAYS abused the advantage and ALWAYS will resist giving up that advantage. They believe advantage is their birth right.
A shame they’re wrong. White Bamboozlement is white people thinking everyone they’ve abused should just forgive and forget the abuse.
Today, Mitch asserts all kinds of bullshit, phrased in that special way he has. But, when Mitch says he speaks for America or “the American people”, he most certainly is not. Registered Republicans account for just 29% of Americans vs Democrats who account for 33% of us. Independents make up the largest part — 34%. Of those Independents, 49% either identify as Democrats or lean to the party, while 44% identify as Republicans. Contrary to decades of Republican mythmaking, America is not now (nor has it been for a long, long time) a “middle-conservative” country. Now, more than ever, America is a centrist-Progressive country with so much yet to learn but also so much to teach.
One thing we’ve learned — People like Mitch who speak “White Bamboozlement”, aren’t interested in making America the best it can be even when it sounds like it. That’s the genius of “white bamboozlement” as a language. Those who speak it, understand intrinsically that none of the words actually mean anything.
It almost always sucks when an unintended consequence punches far above its weight and delivers a knockout blow. That’s the filibuster. This bizarre tactic gives one person — one US Senator — the ability to stop what the majority wants in its tracks. In the 1960’s, Southern Democrats (now known as Republicans — as Heather Cox Richardson writes in her excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party” our two parties, the Democrats and Republicans have, in essence, switched names since the Republican Party’s founding in the 1850’s) used the filibuster to block passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Back then, filibusterers were made to actually filibuster. The Senate’s Racist Coalition had to filibuster for 75 hours straight including a 14-hour and 13 minute address by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia (before Byrd had his “come to Jesus” moment and repented his racist ways). The filibuster failed when the Senate invoked cloture for only the second time since 1927. The filibuster is antithetical to democratic governance — that’s why it’s the tool-of-choice of racists.
The filibuster has to go. Screw its giving the minority a voice against a hostile majority. That bullshit celebration of the “rugged individual” standing heroically against the forces of evil is actually a lone racist stemming the tide of equality. Or a handful of racists as with the Southern Democrats. It’s the few holding sway over the many. In America, that always means rich, Christian white men having power far beyond what they’re entitled to. That the filibuster still exists is a quirk of American politics and history. It arises from an accommodation made in 1806 to Aaron Burr — then the Vice President — before he left office. It was never intended to be used for ordinary business; (this is from Wikipedia: “a small number of super-majority requirements were explicitly included in [the Constitution], including conviction on impeachment charges (2/3 of Senate), expelling a member of Congress (2/3 of the chamber in question), overriding presidential vetoes (2/3 of both Houses), ratifying treaties (2/3 of Senate) and proposing constitutional amendments (2/3 of both Houses) — see the Wikipedia article “Filibuster In The US Senate” for footnotes and sources).
By 1846, the Senate tired of even casual abuse of the filibuster “rules” such as they were. This “addition by subtraction” was regularly bringing the Senate and its business to a dead stop while one Senator dead set on having HIS way, got up on his little pegs and spewed until either he got his way or 2/3 of the Senate (finally!) told him to shut the hell up already. Not the point of the exercise.
In the 1970’s, the Senate — trying to have it both ways — voted to keep the filibuster alive but make it more “practical” to apply: just what WAS NOT needed. Now, instead of having to actually get up in the Senate and speak for as long as they possibly could, Senators could now “threaten” to filibuster — and get all the benefits of a filibuster’s obstruction without having to any of the heavy lifting of actually filibustering. How white guy of them!
The fear is that destruction of the filibuster will make most every Senatorial decision a simple majority proposition. That proposition scares conservatives more than it does Progressives.
Let’s remind ourselves — the Senate, like the Electoral College, is, by nature and design unfair. The EC stands between each American voter and the president they vote for. We only pretend to vote for president; the Electoral College is the actual mechanism that picks a POTUS. And make no mistake — the EC exists solely to soothe the furrowed brows of slavers. There has always been dynamic tension in America between the populated, diverse cities — Blue America — and the unpopulated, white-ruled rural parts — Red America. On a map, all that red ink represents real estate way more than it does any people who might live on it.
Imagine a presidential campaign where voters in Ohio or Florida didn’t have the potential to literally decide a presidential contest for the whole country. Think of the undue but very real political weight this gives voters in one state over another — almost always rural over urban. Candidates chase “undecided voters” in specific states because their eye’s on the EC. That’s why they’ll go to diners in Iowa and listen to farmers like they were sages. Hey, they might indeed be very bright people with smart things to say. But how they vote should have far less impact on my life than it does just as how I vote should have less impact on theirs.
That the farmer’s vote matters more than mine at present — that’s a problem. The Senate’s design exacerbates it. Again, by design, rural voters get hyper-represented while urban voters get hypo-represented. Wyoming’s 445,000 voters get two US Senators. Same goes for California’s 45 MILLION voters. Each Wyomingite has a far better chance of getting their Senator on the phone — and doing what THEY need than any Californian does (unless they’re super rich). So, a sheep rancher in Wyoming stands a better shot at seeing his needs legislated than a Black single mom in Los Angeles who’s struggling to pay her bills. Such is equality in a system designed to deliver the opposite.
Fixing the Senate is a Big Job that will take a super majority of Democrats to accomplish. Don’t pooh-pooh the possibility. In “normal times”, the coming off year election in 2022 (and why the hell is anyone thinking about THAT already?) would advantage the party OUT OF power because the party IN POWER screwed up. But — cue the “Breaking News” banner — these aren’t “normal times”. The first job the Democrats now controlling the reins of power must accomplish is to undo as much of the damage Trump did as possible. That’s not the Democrats being political. That’s the Democrats GOVERNING.
Our news media — drunk off their asses on the “Both Sides Do It” kool aid — have convinced themselves and half of America that anything anyone does is motivated first by politics. This isn’t just cynical, it’s flat out wrong. They now think that both sides behave the same way and for the exact same reasons. Oy. Just… oy. Before the Democrats can even think about putting forward their “socialist wet dreams”, they FIRST have to solve the pandemic. Do that, they can solve the economy. In between all of that, the Democrats have to deal with the fact that the GOP just sponsored a coup d’etat against the rest of us.
And, on top of THAT, the Democrats have to deal with the fact that the entire Republican Party either participated in multiple acts of treason or stood by while treason and traitors threatened America. Countries that allow traitors to walk free will not be countries for very much longer. The traitors will see to it.
Right now, Mitch McConnell — our Treason Turtle MINORITY LEADER — is attempting to keep the filibuster alive both to protect racism but also to protect the traitors in his party. The fact that racists, bigots and seditionists would benefit — well, to Mitch, that’s all just icing. Odds are, if Mitch McConnell is FOR something? That something is rotten. Or Mitch is doing it for rotten reasons.
Repeat: the filibuster has to go. The people defending it have to disabused of their bullshit excuses (history, fairness, the tyranny of the majority) and made to fess up: they are standing in the majority’s way mostly because they’re racist — and keeping racism alive in America is more important to them than almost anything.
People around the globe felt the dark cloud lifting from America yesterday as Donald Trump returned to his Florida swamp and Joe & Kamal were sworn in. Ding dong, the witch is dead! Hit the road, Jack — don’t ya come back no more, no more! People are still talking today about how good yesterday felt. I bet we’ll still be talking about it tomorrow. Donald Trump was the equivalent of America getting cancer — nearly dying from it — but surviving, if just. But, the thing is, cancers like Trumpism are rare. They may infect parts of a body politic like ours, but killing the patient entirely? That suggests our body politic had other co-morbidities undermining our health at the same time.
Republicanitis, you could call it. Our Republicans are all infected and they came shockingly close to killing us with it.
In their defense, most Republicans tried to protect themselves from Trump at first. They supported other candidates in 2016. Yet, one by one even the other Republican candidates all succumbed — Ted Cruz (whose wife Trump called ugly and whose dad he accused of conspiring to assassinate JFK)… Marco Rubio (who honestly HE could win the nomination — HA!)… Even Mitt Romney who was just a Republican eminent gris…
Want to know what it looks like when your soul flees your body, its hair on fire? Look at Mitt Romney’s eyes. You can practically hear the sound of Mitt’s soul: “Feets, don’t fail me now!” Mitt, to his credit, was the only Republican Senator to vote FOR convicting Trump during his first impeachment trial. That’s worth a lot. But so is the fact that Mitch still keeps plenty of Republican secrets. Mitch doesn’t have to KNOW for a fact that his fellow travelers are corrupt, seditionist traitors, but if he so much as suspects it, he’s obligated by the law — OBLIGATED — to say something to someone who might could stop it.
Strangely, Moscow Mitch McTreasonTurtle decided to zip it up good and tight.
Some time just as the Reagan years were ending, the Big Republican money (the Koch Brothers, the Mercers, etc) came to a stark realization: their day in the sun was done. In a generation or so, white, Christian males would be a minority in America and, they feared, likely to lose the political power they’d held onto since the republic’s founding. It never occurred to them that they might share political power with the growing, diversifying majority of Americans. Maybe they doubted they could learn. Instead, America’s right wing declared war on the rest of us.
Newt Gingrich himself said as much out loud. During the Clinton years, the Republicans committed themselves to NOT working the Democrats, to doing everything they could to deny the majority its voice and engineer a state of permanent minority rule. To do this, they first went after the judiciary. After Reagan, the Republicans have lost pretty much every single popular vote. If not for the Electoral College’s weighting our presidential elections toward slavery’s vote, Republicans would never win another presidential contest. Imagine presidential campaigns that didn’t focus on states like Ohio or Florida because there’d be no point. Every Floridian’s vote has the same weight as a Californian’s vote.
The reason Republicans can’t bear the thought of losing the EC is because the Republican Party (ironically) NEEDS slavery’s vote in order to stay relevant.
Without extraordinary measures, the GOP muckety-mucks realized, a Republican winning the presidency had become unlikely bordering on impossible. That left the Congress and the judiciary. The House is too tricky to try and control. Everyone has to run every two years. The Senate is easier to control and maintain. Like the EC, the Senate is weighted toward real estate rather than people. California with its almost 40 million people (39.78 million to be exact) gets the same number of US Senators as North Dakota which (hooray for them) just broke 800,000. See how much political power that gives each North Dakotan relative to each Californian? Hey, ever wonder WHY there are TWO Dakotas? It wasn’t because one Dakota wasn’t enough to contain all the Dakotans.
Republicans have been gaming our system for years. It’s WHY DC is not yet a state. Ditto Puerto Rico. And Republicans have been suppressing Democratic voters (especially the Black and brown ones) pretty much forever. You’d think Republicans have NEVER had faith in what they were selling and ALWAYS had to resort to cheating in order to win elections.
Democrats taking the Senate this election was a shocker to Republicans. Mitch has been playing forever with the electronic voting machines padding his numbers. There’s simply no other reasonable way to explain how Mitch McConnell keeps winning elections by a ton in a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans and where Mitch is only slightly more popular than herpes.
Mitch knows how to steal elections. He knows how to run the Senate to his corrupt advantage. When his right wing money task masters decided the only way forward was to hijack the judiciary and fill as many lifetime posts as possible with young, delusional, conservative minds, the loopier the better, they turned to Mitch and said “Do it”. And damned if the Treason Turtle didn’t say “Yes, sirs!”.
While a handful of Republicans — Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney again — have forcefully condemned what the rest of their co-religionists have done, the overwhelming majority of Republicans haven’t. The Ted Cruz’s, the Josh Hawley’s, the Devin Nunes’, the Jim Jordan’s and the Matt Gaetz’s are all in for the long haul. They’re riding the crazy train all the way off the cliff and all the way down onto the rocks below.
I suggest “I Alone Can Fix It” for Donald Trump’s tombstone. Unfortunately, Trump has no sense of humor so the irony will be wasted on him. The biggest punch in the line is how staggeringly untrue it is. “I alone can fix it” isn’t true of anyone, least of all Trump. That includes how Trump “fixed” America.
Trump alone did not do this to us. He had plenty of help. Granted, plenty has a Russian accent. But the “R” next to MOST OF the names on the list of Trump’s co-conspirators stands for “Republican”.
Yesterday felt like we finally got over the worst bout of food poisoning imaginable. We knew the moment America “swallowed” Trumpism that Trump would put every single one of our systems through hell. I know I wasn’t alone in literally weeping with joy as I watched Joe and Kamala be sworn in, watched Lady Gaga and Garth Brooks both tear it up, watched Amanda Gorman speak a poem that seemed to drill right into our souls. Damn, what Ms. Gorman recited was incredible — it was like a warm, burbling stream that you could step into at any point and instantly feel what she was thinking about. All day, our collective reaction to Donald Trump exiting stage right felt like a dark cloud lifting.
Trump exited the building as gracelessly as he entered it. Shocking, right? Just to go the eff away, he needed pomp and circumstance. He needed every last bit of smoke he could generate from the wreckage he’d left behind blown up his bloated orange ass. I wish we had delivered Trump directly TO Mar a Lago yesterday — from 35,000 feet sans parachute. Perhaps, as the indictments start to appear at his front door, demanding attention, Trump will start to feel like he’s falling from 35,000 feet with no way to stop it.
Pariah-hood for Trump is a good beginning. It’s what he’s deserved his whole life. It will sting way more now because, at his age, he’s completely incapable of adapting or finding other alternative ways to keep it cash flowed. The adoration of money is what Trump has instead of feelings. Threaten his money, you threaten his feelings. Stomp on his wallet, you’ve wounded his heart.
Freeze Donald Trump’s bank account — you’ve pulled the plug on his existence. Without money, Trump can’t keep justice at bay. If justice comes calling — like a wolf at Trump’s door — Trump will have no way to stop it from devouring him and his whole family. Never mind Trump surviving years of being a federal prisoner (or a state prisoner if that happens first). Trump may not get through one night in detention without every physical ailment his diet and lifestyle have exacerbated suddenly becoming an existential emergency. Of course Trump fears going to jail. Who doesn’t?
But, for Trump, it means the literal end. Contemplating prison is contemplating mortality. As he flew home on Air Force One, his empire of bullshit collapsing around him, Trump knew he’d be landing as much in hot water as in Florida.
I bet the SDNY is already moving to convert Donald Trump from his status as the “unindicted co-conspirator” known as “individual 1” in Michael Cohen’s felony election fraud conviction to a fully INDICTED co-conspirator. The only thing ever standing between Trump and that indictment was time — and Trump losing the election — and therefore losing the “immunity” from prosecution he benefited from (though he should never have benefitted from it). Trump is about to meet the E. Jean Carroll buzz saw head on — and that will be even uglier for Trump.
The last 36 hours of Trump’s presidency was increasingly bizarre because so many forces were actively at work. The big overhanging question — aside from who-all would Trump pardon before leaving — remains “will the Senate convict Trump?” Trump needs the Senate to NOT convict him — desperately. If the Senate were to convict Trump (making him the first POTUS ever 1) to be impeached twice and 2) first POTUS ever to be impeached AND convicted), they’d move on to the next question they’re obligated to ask: “shall this person to be allowed to run for public office again EVER?” For Trump, THAT’S the danger inherent in being convicted by the Senate.
Trump doesn’t want anyone asking that question about him because if they’re asking, the answer’s going to be “no”. Trump can never run for public office ever again. That will mean Trump can’t raise campaign cash to theoretically use for getting elected (but that he’d actually use to cash flow his life or pay his legal bills). With the Trump brand’s collapse — caused partly by the pandemic and partly because who wants to give money to a traitor — he can’t rely on the hospitality business to keep him afloat.
Trump’s in desperate financial straits. His presidency has now completely and utterly destroyed his brand. The Trump name is synonymous with corruption, sedition and (soon enough) treason. Think Coca Cola wants to co-brand with that? That’s what would happen if they gave a traitor campaign cash. It’d be “Hey, drink Coca Cola! It’s the official cola of traitors everywhere!” Think Ford wants its trucks to be how “seditionists sedition”? Only traitors want to be a traitor’s pal — or the co-conspirator who keeps stuffing cash in the traitor’s pocket.
Treason, as most Fortune 500 companies will tell you, is terrible for business.
With his properties losing value and huge, balloon payments on ridiculous loans coming due, Trump’s somewhere north of $400 million in the hole. He owes — in total — north of a billion. And Deutschebank, one of his main financial bitches, just told him “Enough!” They don’t want to be in business with him anymore either. With other money sources drying up or, like Sheldon Adlestein, actually dying, Trump needs the sucker bait factory that a having Political Action Committee (a PAC) legally permits the way a vampire needs a fresh blood supply.
Donald Trump’s election sent this country into a psychological tailspin unequaled in history. I betcha that will be duly noted in history books — how, in the aftermath of November 2016, a significant portion of America sought intense therapy to deal with the trauma they felt. Trumpism was bad for plenty of Americans, but it was awfully good for the psychotherapy business. Considering how long the PTSD is likely to last, therapy should continue to be growth industry for quite a while longer.
What America needs — what it yearns for — is justice. Donald Trump assaulted us (like the rapist he is). That can’t go unmarked or unpunished. As a victim of sexual assault who’s on the mend, let me assure you — until you 1) admit something was done to you, 2) that it’s not your fault, and 3) that the person who did this is a bad person for doing this to you, you can’t 4) start to heal. There is right, there is wrong. We need both to acknowledge these things and we need to acknowledge that we’re acknowledging it.
Trump didn’t just violate the law with impunity, he violated our sense of decency. While he unintentionally exposed some terrible truths about who America really is, Trump wanted to exploit those terrible truths and ride them to a state of permanent minority rule. Too bad democracy got in his way.
Merrick Garland will both revert Justice back to how it was when Obama was POTUS and make it even better at carrying out its mission. Trumpian corruption is like the ugliest Christmas sweater ever knit by human hands. It’s also badly made. Pull one of the many threads hanging off it and the whole rotten garment will instantly fall apart.
Just like Donald Trump’s life is about to.
Yesterday was a terrible, terrible day for Trump. Today will be even worse and tomorrow will make today look like a picnic.
E. Jean Carroll’s success against Trump will create a cottage industry. Once it’s safe to go after Trump — his NDA’s now being toothless because they covered criminal activity — I bet most of the women we know about and plenty that we’ve never heard of will seek justice and satisfaction from Trump.
Charges of tax fraud and insurance fraud will land on Trump. His taxes will finally see the sunlight. His adult children will find themselves in deeper shit than they ever imagined shit could be piled. We don’t think Trump pardoned himself or his adult children but that doesn’t mean he didn’t. It would have cost Trump nothing to do a silent pardon for himself and his family. That is a possibility and it’s completely legal — these will only ever come to light if Trump or his family are charged with something. That’s when they’d have to pull their “get outta jail” cards from their corrupt pocket.
Then we’ll take it to the SCOTUS where — rest assured — Trump will lose. By then, Trump and his crime family will stand utterly naked, utterly alone, utterly exposed.
The only place left to run will be Russia. Putin will welcome them — with open arms even. He’ll greet them as the heroes that they are — to Russia. For a year or so, things will go swimmingly. On the surface anyway. But, once Trump stops being useful to Putin, he stops being worth keeping around. Or alive.
One night — quite suddenly — a group of thugs will round up every last Trump and take them to a secret location where they’ll all be “Romanov-ed” just like the last Czar’s family. Perhaps, being vain and stupid, the Trumps — like the Romanovs — will think they’re about to pose for a picture — something they’re all fond of doing. I’m not sure if they’ll all be ready for that day’s “close up”, but I feel pretty certain the rest of the world will be.
Fess up: how many people, other man me, half expected one more terrible Trumpian twist before he boarded Air Force One for his last pony ride? As I write this, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are still about an hour-and-a-half away from being sworn in. Trump, still airborne, is still POTUS. If we could manufacture justice on the spot and manifest it in reality, either law enforcement would be awaiting the Trumps when they land in Florida — and every last one of them would be taken into custody (might as well do it now, it WILL happen eventually) — or, instead, we’d deliver the Trumps directly to Mar-A-Lago from 35,000 feet without parachutes. By the time the Trump Crime Family had crammed onto AF1, pretty much everyone in Washington, DC had abandoned them; aside from Mark Meadows, no one with an official parking spot of value showed up at Andrews AFB to wave goodbye to them.
Mitch McConnell? He’s attending church with the Bidens — and Nancy Pelosi. Mike Pence? He’s got a chair waiting for him at the Inauguration. And both Mitch & Mike know their futures are cloudy. They’re not making nice to the Democrats because they want to — they know what’s coming. They need all the friends they can get especially now that the Department of Justice has taken down Bill Barr’s shingle and hung up Merrick Garland’s. The DoJ has just as much on its plate at the start as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris do. Not only do they have today’s work to plow into, they have four years worth of oversight to catch up with first — including the counter-intelligence investigation into Donald Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin that Rod Rosenstein ended.
It isn’t Democrats having the presidency that terrifies Republicans, it’s Democrats having the Department of Justice. That’s incorrect. Democrats don’t “have” the DoJ, We The People do. That’s the difference (it damned well better be!) Under Bill Barr, the Department of Justice became Trump’s consigliere. Under Merrick Garland, it will revert to being the nation’s overseers of justice and chief practitioners of the rule of law. If Merrick Garland does his job the way we need him to, a culture of fairness — of justice serving the public equally — will permeate every nook and cranny of the DoJ. That’s how good management works — by example and from the top down. Remember how much corruption there was during eight years of Obama’s presidency? ZERO. There was zero corruption because Barack Obama made it crystal clear that HE PERSONALLY would not tolerate it.
We know — having been the lab rats — how the opposite conditions work out.
As mentally and emotionally exhausted as we feel — if I may project “me” onto “we” for a second — watching Donald Trump leave was heartening. It felt good watching him cross from the White House to Marine One — the helicopter that flew him to Andrews. It felt even better watching him cross from Marine One to the podium where, for once, it was tolerable to hear him speak (if only because we knew it was for the very last time as president). It belt best of all when Trump and his viperous family climbed aboard Air Force One for their trip “home”.
I know, looking back, what four years of Trumpism did to my psyche and sense of mental well-being. Hell, my suicide attempt came six weeks after Trump “won” the election. I know what election day 2016 did to me — it struck something deep. I wasn’t alone that night, feeling that something terrible had just happened. This wasn’t just the woe the comes from losing an election. We could feel it — something… untoward had happened. Something not on the up-n-up. Something not quite “legit”. Something, in fact, downright criminal. If only we could “prove” that these feelings weren’t just… feelings.
Four years ago felt awful — though the Women’s March the day after Trump was inaugurated felt like we were collectively picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off and preparing for what turned out to be four years of hard, relentless battle with the darkest part of our nation. We sought relief and thought it was coming! It breaks my heart still to think how deluded we were all were by Team Mueller. It’s not that they didn’t do good work — they absolutely did. But, wishful thinking gave them a far bigger mandate than they, in fact, worked from. We assumed that even as Team Trump obstructed justice, in the background, plenty of heavy lifting was going on; intelligence professionals and law enforcement were carrying on an extensive, intensive counter-intelligence investigation into every last nuance of Donald Trump’s treasonous relationship with Vladimir Putin.
The thing people like me didn’t count on — this story really did run far darker than imagined — was the extent of Republican complicity. I know I kept thinking that surely the third rail of going to prison forever would keep the Republican leadership from letting Trump run completely amok. But, it turns out, once you’ve committed treason — as pretty much the entire Republican leadership has — it really doesn’t matter anymore if you let a treasonous POTUS run amok since — if the other side wins the election — you’ll be going to prison, too, now. Because that’s how conspiracy works.
See something, say something. See something, say NOTHING? We have to ask: “Why?” Why say nothing? Whose interests are you protecting here — since, clearly, they’re not ours? Perfect example? Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (who — ironically — attended church this morning with Mitch and Nancy and Kamala and Joe) who, a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their 2016 standard-bearer, walked into a roomful of the Republican leadership and famously said “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” The correct, moral, patriotic response in the room would have been “Wait, WHAT? Why do you say that, Kev’? Holy shit — if that’s even remotely true, we gotta tell the FBI!” That, alas, is NOT how that roomful of Republicans responded to hearing that their presidential candidate was likely already compromised by a hostile foreign power. No, instead, they all followed then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s lead and “kept it in the family”.
What we felt settle over us on election day 2016 — like the blackest cloud imaginable — was Trumpian corruption. Today, that cloud officially lifts.
The air — filled with coronavirus as it is — smells fresher. The sun feels warmer. And we now have a president who doesn’t wear orange face paint because he thinks it improves his appearance.
Donald Trump, true to his “Project-Everything-I’m-Guilty-Of-Onto-The-World” self, began projecting his own illegitimacy early in his presidency. The late Congressman John Lewis, a man who understood intrinsically what courage was, was the first member of Official Washington to state what everyone felt about Trump’s surprise victory — especially his remarkable win — by a total of 77,000 votes collectively — that delivered Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Electoral College votes to Trump (0.057 percent of total voters cost Clinton the presidency). Fact: if Trump’s win had been legit, he’d have been one hundred percent behind an investigation because he KNEW his win would have been verified. But, Trump knew any investigation into how exactly he became POTUS would end with him going to prison forever: because TREASON.
Some things just seem obvious — or they should. Commit treason in order to become president? You are NOT president. Just break the law to become POTUS and you should be disallowed from being POTUS because that’s how the rule of law is supposed to work — ditto the Constitution. But, of course, in America, we’ve lived by two sets of rules from the get-go — one for white people and another for everyone else. That’s about to change. As we help the rule of law back onto its feet, we need to make damned sure we apply it EQUALLY this time. One of the reasons it failed so spectacularly is our inability to execute it. That’s not on the rule of law, it’s on us. WE need to do better. I have faith we will.
And one of the FIRST ways we can prove we’re doing better is by APPLYING the rule of law — finally and firmly — to Donald John Trump.
The nature of our representative democracy is that rather than take active part in governing ourselves, we elect other people to do that for us. The understand is simple: if we elect you, we grant you the authority to work on our behalf. So long as that authority is legitimate, whatever you do theoretically has our blessing. But, if Donald Trump used Russia to gain the White House — which he most certainly did — right in front of us (“Russia, if you’re listening!”). Just because a guy commits a crime in broad daylight, that doesn’t make it any less of a crime.
We’re not going to debate the Mueller Report. Anyone who’s bothered to actually read it knows what it says. In the very narrow slice of the larger crime Trump committed — the thing Team Mueller was allowed to investigate — Team Mueller could not assert with enough certainty to convict in a court of law whether or not Team Trump had conspired with Wikileaks and Julian Assange to undermine the integrity of election 2016 because of so much obstruction of justice. The obstruction of justice, they felt, was real and very criminal. Team Mueller fretted about that Department of Justice rule — created to block Spiro Agnew pardoning Richard Nixon during Watergate — that said a sitting POTUS could not be indicted. Though the rule wasn’t meant to apply to Trump — no one imagined a POTUS as thoroughly corrupt as Trump — Team Mueller allowed the rule’s letter to win out over its spirit. Corruption beat truth and justice mostly because white people seem to hate prosecuting other white people for crimes they’d happily prosecute anyone else for committing.
See what happens when you screw with the rule of law and how you apply it?
We need to keep reminding ourselves: the rule of law is a fiction we invented so as to better self-govern. We made it up. It’s just a bunch of words that articulate an idea — a great idea — that should transcend our occasional inability to get the words right. We have to be more protective of any law’s spirit than how it got written. Trust me here — this country’s founders did NOT intend for a treasonous president to pardon his way out of legal peril. Trump is exactly the kind of demagogue the country’s founders most feared — and yet, here we are indulging that demagogue, his followers — and even his treason.
I repeat: one cannot commit TREASON in order to become POTUS. It may not be written that way in any of our laws, but it IS the spirit of the law. You can’t betray us in order to govern us.
Questions about Trump’s legitimacy scare the Republican Party even more than it scares Trump. Trump’s problem is prison for the rest of his life. Hey — that’s the GOP’s problem now, too. But they also fear losing political power — and never ever getting it back. The craven lust for political power, born of “white man’s greed” — that’s what causes Republican hearts to beat like a Sousa march. Ah, but the terrible concessions to self respect one must make to answer that craven lust…
I bet Lindsey Graham is just aching to stop being Trump’s bitch. I bet Lindsey would be more relieved than anyone to finally confess to every terrible thing he’s done. Yeah, prison won’t be fun — and Lindsey will spend the rest of his life in federal lock up — but, you can see the exhaustion in Lindsey’s red-rimmed eyes every time he gets in front of the cameras. He may not sleep comfortably in his prison cell (neither the mattress nor the thread count of his sheets will be what he’s used to), but he’ll sleep better than now.
Mitch McConnell, too, dreads a legitimate investigation into all HIS illegitimate activities. Mitch needs to explain — under oath — his relationship w Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska, you see, is HOW Trump “won” Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, taking the EC. During the 2016, Paul Manafort — then Trump’s campaign manager — famously handed Konstantin Kilimnik proprietary polling data for those three states plus Minnesota.
Manafort wanted Kilimnik to pass the polling data to Deripaska — an “associate” of his. Manafort’s problem was he owed Deripaska money — $17 million and was afraid of what Deripaska might do to him. Manafort hoped that by 1) becoming Trump’s campaign manager and 2) providing the proprietary polling data, he might cancel that debt and get himself out of peril. That’s just a hint at what that polling data was worth to Kilimnik, to Deripaska, to Vladimir Putin and to Russia. Kilimnik was known as being GRU — Russian military intelligence. Same goes for Deripaska. Both are oligarchs — and, in Russia, you don’t get to be or stay an oligarch without Putin’s explicit okay. Putin, let’s not forget, isn’t just the Russian head of state, he’s one of the biggest criminals on the planet.
If we took Putin and Russia’s direct impact on the 2016 out of the equation, Donald Trump would never have gotten through the primaries. But Russia was behind Trump and pretty much every single Republican knew it. They chose to “keep it in the family”.
So — not only is Trump’s entire presidency illegitimate, so is the Republican Party’s response to Trump’s illegitimacy. They deliberately covered it up — benefitted from the illegitimacy — then tried to make that illegitimacy permanent. THAT evolved into the point of the exercise. No one — Trump included — expected Trump to win. Trump did not want to win, in fact; he was so certain he’d lose — needed it to happen so badly that he promised Melania he would lose. That’s what she was expecting.
That’s what most everyone was expecting. Oh, the things we’ll learn. The Comey Letter’s impact on the election was significant: it closed the polling gap between Clinton and Trump to within the margin of error in places like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. And the Comey Letter itself — let’s remind ourselves — was caused by Rudy Giuliani, Jason Chaffee and the rogue New York City FBI office threatening to spew all sorts of nonsense they’d read in Clinton Cash, a book as truthful as the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion. Comey had been asking the NYC FBI office about the notebook computer with the mysterious, possibly new Clinton emails (they were copies of old) for MONTHS but the rogue FBI agents — collaborating with Rudy Giuliani — refused to answer Comey’s question until late October — when they suddenly announced “We don’t KNOW about these emails — they COULD be new.”
Horse shit. The goal was “make noise”, distract, disillusion — on multiple fronts at the very same time.
Keep in mind — part of that relentless thump-thump-thump was directed at Black voters in those three states. That proprietary polling data? It showed up on their personal Facebook pages as ads directed directly at them that implied Hillary Clinton was a closet racist. The goal wasn’t to flip those votes, it was to suppress them — lie them into staying home election day instead of voting. Considering all the illegality surrounding it, every single suppressed vote is a crime against an individual voter and our system as a whole.
Once the race got close enough — brought there via the Comey Letter’s false premise of more dirt on Clinton and the constant thump-thump-thump of Russian propaganda filtered through Wikileaks and our own useful idiot news media — voting machine manipulation became an option. As we’ll eventually learn from what happened in 2020, if one has access to internet-connected electronic voting machines (because companies like ES&S and Diebold are owned by Republicans who donate heavily to Republicans and on whose boards of directors sit nothing but Republicans), one does not FLIP votes — that’s too risky! While it’s damned hard to verify an electronic machine that leaves no paper trail, it’s damned easy to pad vote totals without anyone catching on. Just for reference, as of 2019 ES&S claimed a U.S. market share of more than 60 percent in customer voting system installations. That’s a lot of the country that votes on machines with zero accountability.
You’d need three co-conspirators max. You need the guy running ES&S to open the back door every single machine has.
You’d need the guy writing the computer code that will enter voting machine or tabulator via that back door having gotten there via internet connectivity. The code says simply something like “For ever ten Republican votes, add one”. So, every ten Republican votes now becomes eleven. Twenty becomes twenty-two, thirty becomes thirty-three and so on. The machines have added ten percent. If you didn’t go back and compare the number of votes to the number of voters in order to see the discrepancy, you’d probably never find it. In this case, everyone would simply accept that Republican result — where they got a ten percent bump. If the race in question was within the margin of error, that ten percent bump could give an otherwise losing candidate the win.
The last co-conspirator would be the politician pulling the trigger on such a theft of the voters’ intent. Plenty of journalists are beginning to wonder if Mitch McConnell is just such a politician. On paper, Mitch shouldn’t be able to get elected turtle catcher in Kentucky yet there he is — unbeatable (in a state with more registered Democrats than Republicans!) Want to know why it doesn’t seem to add up? Because it doesn’t.
In the case of 2016, all one would have need to have done was send code like that to far flung voting machines in the hinterlands of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Vote totals in the cities, they hoped, were already dinged by propaganda. By now adding just enough votes electronically (hoping ya got the percentages right), one could close a seemingly impossible deal, capturing three blue states for candidate red. It was all done illegally — with full on criminal intent — the only question is will We The People ever get to ask it.
Well, now, we are getting to ask it.
If the answer comes back “Trump was elected illegitimately via illegal means and as an act of treason, then we will have two possible paths to travel. Path One — we do nothing. We shrug our shoulders and say “We’ll do better next time, we hope”. We literally allow a traitor to pardon his own treason — making it crystal clear: want to betray America? Run for president — and get away with it! Any country that lets that happen to them won’t be a country for very much longer.
If Trump had run in one of his bullshit beauty pageants and they’d learned that the winner had bamboozled them all? Do you really think the phony would get to keep her title, her crown, her loot? Of course she wouldn’t! Same goes for a guy who steals your car. Just because he’s sitting in it outside your house at three a.m., honking the horn, that doesn’t make him the car’s owner. And when we catch up to him? He won’t get to keep the car. If it’s still in one piece, he’ll have to give it back. The rule of law never lets thieves keep what they stole after they’ve been caught. The rule of law doesn’t let murderers get away with murder, polluters get away with polluting or traitors get away with betraying us. We may do that to ourselves, the rule of law does not.
It’s just a stone cold fact — Donald Trump NEVER had the legitimate authority that flows from We The People and, sociopath that he is, Donald Trump recognized that fact himself. He said as much out loud repeatedly.
Since he never had the authority vested in him, he didn’t have the authority or right to nominate a single judge, SCOTUS judges included. Throw in the deliberate intent behind Mitch McConnell’s blocking of most every Obama judicial nominee. Not allowing Merrick Garland so much as a hearing might not have been technically illegal, when re-framed from the perspective of McConnell’s treasonous relationship w Oleg Deripaska and Konstantin Kilimnik, the connected dots make Mitch’s intent look a lot more sinister. Mitch and the GOP want permanent minority rule. While they’d made great strides to get there prior to Trump’s presidency, Trump presented not just the darkly charismatic figurehead they needed, he also provided a partner in crime who, the Republicans now realized, had already seduced them into useful idiot-hood.
They’d all, like Rohrbacher, taken copious amounts of money from Russia. That money was not “free”. As most money does, it came with strings. More like rope actually. The Russians wanted something for their investment. When Trump sewed up the Republican nomination, Russia became the central driver of all things Republican, all things Trump.
If we do this right — and we’d be insane to do it otherwise — literally everything Trump did gets voided. All those judges? They’re gone. They have to be — Trump never had the authority to nominate them. That goes for EVERY judge Trump nominated, his three SCOTUS judges included. In point of fact, the authority to nominate those three judges belonged to Hillary Clinton, the rightful winner of the 2016 election.
The crime victim here, ya see, is We The People. Our CHOICE was stolen from us in 2016. When we elected Hillary by more than three million popular votes (and, minus all the criminality via the EC, too), we gave her the authority to create legislation and nominate judges whose values reflected ours. We did NOT give Trump any such authority. He TOOK IT. He STOLE IT. And then, like a car thief, he drove around in it, speeding, recklessly changing lanes and tossing garbage out the window.
The Good Cops will be back in power starting tomorrow. Merrick Garland — the moderate judge Obama chose for SCOTUS who Mitch wouldn’t even give a hearing to — will take over at the DoJ. Oh, the irony… Merrick Garland will be the guy who brings Mitch McConnell down. And then the entire GOP. These are not brave people. They’re all criminal co-conspirators. It won’t take more than a few gentle tugs on this ugly-as-sin, corrupt Christmas sweater for it to completely fall apart. It’s that ugly, it’s that badly made.
And, like any badly made sweater that we did not want, we should return it from whence it came. Return to sender. Forget you ever knew us.
A bully bullies someone. Both bully and bullied have a point of view of the bullying. The bully’s point of view: I bullied; the bullied’s: I was bullied. If pressed to defend what they did though, unless the bully can prove — with receipts — that he had a good reason for bullying someone (good luck with that) — odds are good the bully will use the closest excuse he can find as a justification. That’s because he doesn’t have a justification for hurting someone. He did it because he’s a bully. And doing things just because you’re a bully will not stand up either in court or in a court of public opinion.
Racists have a point of view. Don’t we know it? But racists can’t defend their racism. Same goes for rapists. The man who sexually molested me twice when I was fourteen — he had a point of view — an internal reason why he felt it was okay to do what he did to me. But, if, someone had walked in and stopped my molester mid molestation and asked him “What the hell are you doing to this 14 year old boy?”, for all his hemming and hawing, he would not have been able to defend what he did.
“Both Sides Do It” brand journalism bears a lot of responsibility. It assumes everyone does the same things and does them for the same reason. That’s bullshit, of course. Republicans and Democrats are not even remotely the same kind of people and don’t do things for the same reasons. Democrats simply cannot march in lockstep the way Republicans can. It’s simply not in our nature. We really are the same group of which Will Rogers famously said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”.
What possible “point” could Donald Trump have for anything he’s ever done other than because he’s a greedy prick? Or a racist or a rapist or a traitor?
What justified point could Trump have for trying to overthrow a free and fair election? What point could ANY Republican have for STILL refusing to acknowledge that Biden-Harris won, Trump-Pence lost?
What point could Donald Trump possibly have for being lifetime president of the Washington, DC chapter of the Vladimir Putin Fan Club?
What point could Lindsey Graham have for ferociously backing a man he said would be the destruction of the Republican Party?
What point could anyone possibly have for putting children in cages?
What point could anyone possibly have for turning mask-wearing into a political statement?
What point did any Republican Senator have for refusing to convict Trump and remove him from office the first time? What point could they possibly have for not doing it now — when Trump’s no longer in office?
What point 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, it’s the point of view of corrupt, racist, bigoted, misogynist, seditionist traitors. No one any of us would really want to know.
As anyone who’s ever been in a long term relationship knows, even the bad ones require work. The Constitution’s framers didn’t intend for there to be political parties but the rift between the Federalists and states’ rights supporters that arose at the framing — one way or the other — set our two party system in motion. And, while learning to compromise with a partner is essential to any couple’s, some compromises should never be made. For instance — compromises made with an abusive spouse or a serial cheater. The Democrats really are like a spouse in a long-running marriage who’s known all along how faithless their mate’s been. The Democrats KNOW the Republicans cheat. They KNOW Republicans don’t care one bit about any “relationship”. And now we know that our partner in this country’s governance, the Republicans, want pretty much all the Democrats dead.
On January 6, 2021, the Republican Party hired their angry, drunk friend to break into the House and try to kill the Democrats. They wanted their drunk friend to kill Mike Pence too because Pence had done the dishonorable thing: he stood up for the oath of office he took. Now, let’s not pat Mike on the back too quickly. Mike’s no boy scout. That’s why Paul Manafort brought him to the veep dance back in 2016. Remember: Manafort (then Trump’s campaign manager) was attempting a “make good” deal with Russian oligarch and intelligence agent Oleg Deripaska. He owed Deripaska over 17 million dollars (the kinda dough that’ll get you killed if you don’t start paying it off) and, so, was engaged in a scheme to make Deripaska whole. The LAST thing Manafort needed at that point was a veep candidate who’d rat them all out the second he got wind of the “Russian Secret”.
Everybody here is dirty. Everybody is corrupt. No one with an “R” next to their name EVER seems to do the right thing — not without being pressured into it.
I think of the Republicans sliding into bed with Vladimir Putin as clear cut evidence of treason. Why, that’s exactly like them cheating on us, isn’t it? Hey, Don, you adulterous asshole — what’s with the borscht & vodka on your breath?
As if Trump being disloyal with the Russian sleaze bag across the street wasn’t bad enough, then he goes and lies about it. He does everything he can to hide his actions. He’s called all his fancy-assed pals (the scumbags he philanders with) to tell them to cover for him. He’s used his other, “lesser” friends (people he doesn’t ever hang with and never would) to come after us to try and kill us. He came frighteningly close to doing it.
If we really were a couple, this marriage would be well and truly over. It would be inconceivable that we’d slide into bed ever again with the shit who tried to have us murdered — especially when he took so much friggin’ video of him doing it.
First of all, of course, we’d get ourselves the best lawyer we could — which, in fact, we’ve already done. We’d go after the bastard who did this, intent on taking him for everything he’s got. We’d insist, above all, that our mate take responsibility for their terrible actions if they really wanted our relationship to continue. They won’t. It’s not even a question.
That’s why, after we throw them out onto the street, we will proceed to prosecute the living snot out of them. We will not stop until they’re off the street and filling up many, many prison cells. That’s not political; it’s just crime & punishment working the way they’re supposed to.
The R’s have already started sniffing around for forgiveness. When they say “unity!” what they mean is “Hey, baby, you can forget I tried to have ya killed just this one time, now, can’t ya?” Um, no, assholes, we can’t. How about, instead, YOU find some deep, profound way to make it up to America?
Storytelling can be like a super power. Take Donald Trump telling a mob of racist, bigoted followers that the election was stolen from them. That’s a story. Pure fiction. And yet, a fiction propelled that mob into deadly action. Seditionist, treasonous action. If Trump — after setting the mob in motion — had suddenly chuckled into the mic “Heh heh, no, I’m just fooling ya, folks — I lost that election fair and square, now all of you get in your cars and go the hell home!” — they wouldn’t have listened to him. The truth would have disappointed them. The story, on the other hand…
The Insurrection At The Capitol happened because a shitload of people accepted bullshit as truth. Frankly, I don’t care if they were “fooled” by Trump. We ALL heard what Trump said before the insurrection began. We all heard what he said in the weeks beforehand. But only a few of us got into our cars or — like Jenna Ryan, the pathetic real estate agent from Texas who got on her private freakin’ jet and flew halfway across the country in order to DO something terrible because she believed a story!
Why is it usually white people begging for a Mulligan because they got duped by a con man? Probably the same reason it’s usually white people running the con. Although, in Jenna’s case, she isn’t even looking for a Mulligan. She expects to be forgiven immediately — to be pardoned by the president since, to her, she wasn’t just doing her “patriotic duty”, she also was answering to God! The highest authority of all — creator of the universe — wanted this pathetic woman to fly to Washington, DC and take part in a melee. In other words, she expects to be forgiven because she believed a story.
In my experience here in America? It’s ALWAYS white people doing that. Yes, yes — all human beings are open to being charmed into evil by a charismatic smile. But, white people just seem better at creating nonsense and then accepting it as gospel truth.
These people showed up because they believed a story.
These people showed up because they believed a story.
These people showed up because they believed a story.
These people showed up (in Salem, at the witch trial) because they believed a story.
The Holocaust happened because people had long believed (and accepted as truth) a story that Jews deserved to die because “they killed Jesus”. That never happened. Neither did the virgin birth or the three wise men from wherever or the star of Bethlehem. It didn’t. It is pure, unadulterated fiction. “The Jews murdered Jesus” is as reality-based as a piece of crime fiction yet it has transcended Jesus’s message of “love thy neighbor as thyself”. Stone cold fact — if born-lived-and-died-a-Jew Jesus were to return from the dead and hear about all the Jews who were murdered in his name — because of a story about him that wasn’t true — and stood in stark contrast to who he was and what he lived his whole life for? He’d be mighty pissed off about it.
Ah, but… if given a choice between believing the truth or believing a story, we know for a fact which the majority of people will choose. It’s literally incalculable the number of people — Jews or otherwise — whose lives were cut short because the person murdering them “believed a story”.
Listening to most RW-ers defend their ideals is starting to sound like a ten year old bully defending himself. “You’re not the boss of me” is what “freedom” sounds like in his ears. That might work as freedom if you live alone on an island. Put one other person there and “you’re not the boss of me” will cause problems almost immediately. Politics begins the instant two people have to negotiate with each other just so they can get through the day. Even two people trying to decide what to have for dinner are engaged in a political conversation. If both those people have “you’re not the boss of me” in their heads? They’ll never make good decisions together. They’ll never be happy. The fact is, they’ll never be free.
Freedom is imaginary to begin with. So is democracy. So are rights.
Each and every one is a human invention. No deity has bestowed any of this upon us. Trust me, if there IS a deity and that deity (with a whole freakin’ cosmos to worry about!) is worrying about piddly stuff like this? This universe needs a new deity with more deity-like priorities. Geez, whose mediocre idea of a god is this anyway? While we’re at it, unless anyone can demonstrably prove otherwise, God or gods are all human creations, too. The proof? That we think a deity with a whole freakin’ cosmos to worry about would worry about whether or a bunch of little, tiny humans “believe” in him. That’s not a deity, that’s a male in need of psychotherapy.
We have rights because we finally realized that we could give them to ourselves — that we didn’t need a god-appointed king to grant them. Like maintaining a republic (as Franklin said “If we can keep it”), maintaining our rights will demand vigilance, grit and resolve. There were forces then that sought to shut down what had just been created. The slavers always hated democracy because democracy and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. Slavery cannot exist in a democracy. It can’t. That it did wasn’t a reflection on democracy, it’s a reflection on us — and our continuing willingness to compromise with evil.
America is still fighting about slavery. That’s a stone cold fact. Cotton and sugar cane were labor intensive businesses. They were all the south had to run their economy. The most expensive component? Labor — but only if you’re forced to pay for it.
Hey, what if you could get all that expensive labor “for free”? Okay, so the labor costs you nothing, but you’ll have to feed and clothe and house your free labor. Considering as you can feed them garbage, clothe them in rags and house them in squalor, the costs will be negligible compared to the profits. And that’s why slavery exists. Free labor. All the rest — the inhumanity, the families and lives destroyed, the murder and mayhem — those are all ripple effects. Stuff that “happens”.
The slaver sits on his verandah, believing he is living the “dream of democracy”, a free man making money. He’s confused. No, he’s wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. Being a pig or a bully isn’t freedom. It’s being a pig or a bully. Being a slave owner is the opposite of freedom — because everything the slave owner does contradicts other peoples’ freedom. That’s the problem — right there.
We have rights because we gave them to ourselves (well, white men, at first, gave them to other white men. Fortunately, we’ve begun to wise up to the scam the white men have been running. The genius of America is the thing that makes it unique among nations. Aside from Native Americans, America was not formed by tribes that lived here for a thousand years like the countries of Europe were. We are the product of all those European tribes — plus tribes from EVERYWHERE ELSE on the planet. THAT’S what makes America exceptional — we’re the only country that was formed from all the other countries. It is unfortunate (but fixable) that white people commandeered this country for its first 240+ years. White people are very clever — but they’re not the only clever people on earth. Pretty much every other tribe? They’re clever, too. And when you put all that multi-cultural, approach-problems-from-every-conceivable-angle kind of thinking to work — as we have, here in America? The results are like nothing else humans have created. As experiments in human self-government go? We’re worth preserving — but, adjustments are needed, urgently.
Already the idea of “civic education” is finding purchase. Good. America needs that. We need to stop thinking that flag-waving is patriotism. No, knowing and understanding how the Constitution works — THAT’S patriotism. Under Trump, we could have turned into a fascist shithole just like that — without changing our flag. The Constitution would have ceased to be despite the stars n stripes’ endurance. See how that works? The piece of colored cloth is actually quite meaningless whereas the Constitution…
Among the first things we’ll need to teach the generations of Americans to follow is how valuable their rights are — how special. But, we’ll also need to teach them that those rights do NOT come without caveats. Everything costs something. Nothing is truly “free”. Just as rank has its privileges and obligations, so do rights.
The right to vote demands that you exercise it. Voting is every American’s OBLIGATION, not just their right. I kinda like Australia’s approach. You cannot be made to actually vote and Australians don’t have to vote come election day. BUT, Australians do have to show up. Regardless of whether or not they actually vote, Australians are obligated by law to at least go to their polling place.
Americans are equally responsible for paying for our democracy and freedoms. These things do cost money. Living costs money. Unless we all revert to being hunter-gatherers, feeding ourselves costs money. Our problem in America is that we see taxes as a black hole of inefficiency and corruption. It’s money out and virtually nothing back. Of course Americans see the tax man as the enemy!
What if Americans received a yearly statement though — an accurate accounting of exactly how the govt spends every single dollar it collects? What if Americans could see, every year, what their money bought them (bought the country), what it should have bought them and what it could never buy them? What if Americans — instead of seeing their taxes as money lost forever — saw them as a fair, accurate accounting of what their tax dollars are buying for them?
If Americans got something they could point — like guaranteed health CARE (as opposed to health INSURANCE — which is the focus of our debate) that could never bankrupt them or their families, they might look at those tax dollars (plus the out-of-pocket savings) a little differently. If Americans could point at the good public university or skills training education their children could have — again just because they pay taxes here — they might look at those tax dollars a little more open-mindedly. If Americans viewed their government as theirs, as their elected intermediary tasked with getting their collective problems solved, they might not see government as “the enemy”.
Again, this is framing — how we think of things (and how we don’t). This is entirely up to us.
If everyone in a family insisted they had to do things their way, the family would collapse in less than a heartbeat. Even relatively happy families have their issues. Welcome to being human and living at cross purposes with each other. Successful families learn to negotiate with each other. If they want something, they’ll probably have to give something to get it. Hello, politics.
A country like ours is just a giant family with a giant closet filled with giant skeletons. Families that don’t acknowledge their skeletons devolve into chaos. Families that at least try? They can’t do worse than chaos. Just like surviving a family takes work, so, too, does surviving a country. Balancing conflicting needs isn’t easy but the alternative is authoritarianism. For what it’s worth, living in an authoritarian state — provided you follow the rules — is a hell of a lot easier than living in a democracy.
That’s part of fascism’s appeal — you don’t have to think. The state does that for you. All you have to do is march neatly in lock step.
In November 1947, Winston Churchill put it this way: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. Democracy is hard, bloody work. The alternatives may be “easier” but only on the surface.
That is, if your idea of freedom isn’t a ten year old’s.