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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a really, really bad thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mitch McConnell is evil — with a turtle face.

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a terrible deal.

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

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

“Previously On” The News…

Why, oh why, can’t America’s news media tell the Donald Trump story? In their defense, there is a lot of the Trump story to tell and it’s always happening at breakneck speed. There are Constitutional violations, violations of decency, outright racism, sexism and bigotry, lies about the coronavirus and his criminally inept response to it. There’s outright treason and all-around insanity. With so much to keep track of, maybe what our broadcast news outlets should do — if only for themselves — is run a “Previously On…” sequence before they start any new reporting on Trump.

The “Previously On” sequence has become a staple of serialized television storytelling. Here’s what you need to know from past episodes so that THIS episode will make sense. The storytellers dip into the AGGREGATED storyline to remind the audience WHAT THEY ALREADY SHOULD KNOW. America’s news media (especially its broadcast news media) has made a total hash of covering Donald Trump specifically because it can’t even remind itself what it knows about the story they’ve been covering now for five freaking years.

A lot of us watch MSNBC and CNN less for the news itself than for how the Fourth Estate acquits itself. Journalism is the only non-governmental job mentioned in the Constitution — as our final check on power. Imagine having a story this amazing to tell! Imagine being this bad at telling it. How the hell does that even happen?

How can a network that has smart, quick minds like Nicolle Wallace, Rachel Maddow, Ali Velshi and JoyAnn Reid — the whole Trump story clearly in their heads — also put dullards like Meet The Press host Chuck Todd and Weekend host Alex Witt on its air? How can Nicolle be so far ahead of the story while Alex is so far behind it?

It’s strange to, in essence, know certain things when Nicolle’s on the air then know nothing as soon as Alex Witt slips into the hosting chair. Nicolle would never ask any of the questions Alex asks because, in essence, Nicolle’s already asked them — asked them (when the details were fresh), established new details as facts then built on those facts to advance the narrative. Alex Witt, meanwhile, asks generic questions that suggest she’d be shocked to learn what her colleague there at the news network knew a week ago.

How is that possible? How can one news show on a news network be fully up to date with important details that the very next show up seems to know nothing about? The result of this “some know, some don’t” dynamic is that — from the audience’s point of view — we can never be sure of what we know because even the news networks refuse to ever be sure about it.

If you were watching a new, serialized TV show that never played a “previously on” sequence and, instead, kept taking the show back to a kind of “Square One” to begin each episode, after a while, the audience would bail out of sheer frustration with the storytellers. Tell the story or get out of the way.

What a “previously on” sequence also does is create context within context. Context is our news media’s kryptonite. But then, our news media still believes “both sides do it”. They can hardly even spell “context”.

Perspective For Dummies (News Media Edition)

Imagine living inside a bubble and thinking that was all there was — while everything else there was existed outside your damned bubble. Most of America’s news media continue to stumble and bumble their inept way through the greatest news story most of them still don’t see. Apparently Donald Trump’s criminal behavior is too, too out in the open for them. His treason is too plainly stated — as treason — for them to accept. His corruption is too de rigeur and anyway, “both sides do it”.

That’s the nature of the bubble, you see. Both sides do it. Right there, by starting from that assumption, every acolyte of both sides do it journalism begins their reporting from a false narrative that originates entirely from inside their bubble. When a Republican actively suppresses Democratic voters — and, for the record, the reverse NEVER HAPPENS — they’re acting politically. They’re preventing Democratic voters from voting because they fear the political outcome. See? Pure politics.

But, when the suppressed voter raises their hand to complain that their right to vote has been suppressed? They are NOT acting politically, THEY are reporting a crime: their rights as a citizen are being violated.

Our news media however, sees BOTH as “political”. Right off the bat, all perspective is skewed which means there is no perspective.

Gaining and maintaining perspective is hard. For starters, you have to understand people. You have to appreciate what makes them tick — and that something does make them tick; no one ever does anything for no reason or “just because”. They may not be able to articulate what motivates them — even if it’s boredom — but something is motivating them to act. That core why explains them and if you haven’t got to the core why, you haven’t explained them.

If you haven’t even bothered to mine that core “why”, you have no perspective whatsoever and never were going to have any. Why are you in journalism?

Assuming you have a functional, working knowledge of human psycho-pathology, you have to dig deeply — ignoring all evasions, dodges and “hummina-hummina-please-don’t-ask-me-that’s”. You have to begin constructing the context in which every human lives — so you can appreciate that their perspective is not your perspective. For instance — a Donald Trump does not think the way, say, a Kelly O’Donnell thinks. When NBC News’ well meaning but truly awful O’Donnell characterizes Trump’s actions, she sees them the way SHE would see them not the way Trump clearly sees them. She doesn’t ask why Trump seems to behave in a criminal manner, she assumes that since SHE wouldn’t do things for criminal reasons, neither would Trump — so, therefore, whatever he did has a perfectly valid reason — she just doesn’t know what it is.

That, right there, is how abnormal behavior gets normalized. It’s how perspective gets sacrificed live on TV. Rather than seeing all the dots, Kelly O limits the dots she can see. Only normal dots can penetrate her bubble — and that’s how she reports Trump: as if he was “normal”.

The other thing our news media seems incapable of doing is aggregating the Donald Trump story. I know. It’s really complicated. There are a kajillion moving parts — and they can be very hard to keep track of. Welcome to Perspective.

You have to not only be aware of as much of the story as possible, you have to REMEMBER it. Maybe if you wrote it down…

That’s the most frustrating part of watching our news media fumble this story. All they had to do was keep track of their own reporting. It’s like how all those journalists still — to this day — say the Mueller Report cleared Donald Trump. Well, it does, maybe IF YOU DON’T READ IT. But, turns out? If you crack a copy? IT SAYS THE OPPOSITE.

We now know that Team Mueller was working under tight constraints impressed upon them by the duplicitous, treasonous Rod Rosenstein. Even so, the Mueller Report describes significant criminal behavior — and, it says, it would have described more had the criminals not been working so hard to OBSTRUCT JUSTICE.

Here’s the bottom line: not a single American journalist should have a doubt that Donald Trump likely walked in the door to American politics a criminal. Not a hyperbolic criminal, A CRIMINAL. Back before the 2018 election, when the Republicans still owned everything (including the House of Representatives) — and the investigations into Trump had only just become public knowledge — Republicans wanted to quash the Steele Dossier or paint it more dubiously. On August 22, 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Glenn Simpson whose research company — Fusion GPS — had been hired to do oppo research on Trump and who’d subcontracted part of that work out to Christopher Steele.

Now — for perspective’s sake — remember: Simpson is a former Wall Street Journal reporter. Initially, Fusion was hired by the conservative Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump. They backed Jeb Bush and wanted all the dirt they could find on Trump. Simpson testified that, being good journalists, a big part of what they considered their due diligence was to get their hands on every single piece of publicly available material on Trump FIRST. What could ANYBODY know about Donald Trump if they just “asked“?

As Simpson testified, Fusion combed bricks-n-mortar book stores and searched Amazon. They sought out every magazine article they could find. They listened to audio tapes, watched hours of video. Without actually investigating (yet), Simpson testified, Fusion GPS stumbled upon ample (publicly available) evidence that Trump had, at the very least, laundered considerable sums of money through his Atlantic City casinos; their bankruptcies were not a bug of Trump’s ownership, the bankruptcies were the point — the better to launder gobs of Russian mob money. To get at the details, in June 2016, Fusion reached out to Orbis Business Intelligence, a London-based private intel firm run by Christopher Steele (who ran the Russia desk at MI6 headquarters in London between 2006 and 2009).

By April 2016, the Washington Free Beacon had stepped back — Jeb Bush was out of the race — and an attorney for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC separately hired Fusion to investigate Trump in April 2016.

The overwhelming majority of Steele’s work product (raw intel which requires a whole lot of perspective all by itself to appreciate properly) has proven true. It’s not hard to do that leg work either — to read what Steele wrote and then to find reporting that supports it. It’s called journalism. It works the other way too — if one wanted to disprove the report, one could read it then find evidence to support that conclusion.

But, if you assume that everyone’s always guilty of the worst possible behavior, you’ll cut the corner — because why bother looking up what you already “know”? You’ll reach your conclusion because, really, it’s where you started. The problem is: your conclusion is bullshit.

Bullshit and perspective cannot co-exist. In fact, perspective is bullshit’s kryptonite. The moment anyone — especially the news media — begins consuming bullshit (especially its own “both sides do it” brand of bullshit) all perspective vanishes. It’s like you suddenly live in a bubble. The only dots you can connect are the ones immediately in front of you while all the others? You can’t even see them.

On the bright side? Christmas is coming! Books are always great gifts. If you know a journalist — consider gifting them with a copy. Even if you just watch a journalist who needs perspective, consider sending a copy as a loyal fan. They might turn up their noses — at first.

But if they’re courageous enough to start reading?

They’ll thank you when they accept their Pulitzer.

Russia Didn’t “Influence” 2016’s Outcome, Russia CHANGED It — And That Matters

The rest of the world’s leaders show what THEY think of Vlad Putin while Donald Trump shows what HE thinks. See the difference?

You’d think that a journalist, hearing from a reliable, informed source that Russia (a hostile foreign power) had “influenced” (or even tried to influence) an American election to favor Donald Trump (who’d laundered Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos), would ask the next obvious question: “Really? Russia actually INFLUENCED the outcome of our election? How exactly did they do that? In what ways? To what ends and effects?” You’d think a journalist would recognize a Woodward-Bernstein-sized opening? There’s already mountains of evidence that indeed Russia DID influence the 2016 election. You’d think American journalists would be the loudest canaries in this coal mine — squawking their heads off that Donald Trump is a traitor who owes Russia (perhaps even Vlad Putin himself) hundreds of millions of dollars!

That’s the hardest thing to wrap one’s head around where our press is concerned. There has been some amazing reporting. But it’s always forced to share oxygen with an overload of “both sides do it” hackery and sheer access-craving cowardice. The TV news media — where most Americans get their news — seems incapable or unwilling to aggregate its own reporting. They see pieces of the mosaic but never the mosaic itself; in fact, they don’t seem to grasp that what they’re staring at is a mosaic.

If America’s news media had aggregated its own story — much like the remarkable Seth Abramson has done — they’d already be miles further along in the narrative. When we get to the part of the story where everything gets fully revealed — and we will — we’ll discover that all sorts of crimes were being committed in real time while we watched. In other words — crimes are being committed right this second that we could be pointing at or better yet stopping.

But our news media keeps restarting the narrative every day from some bizarre square one where nothing we’ve learned exists. Instead, our news media starts its day reporting from a place where Trump’s just “a different sort of POTUS” who doesn’t follow the rules or the norms, calls Mexicans rapists and grabs women’s pussies because he’s rich and “they’ll let him”, where lying isn’t just anticipated, it’s accepted!

From the get-go, our news media poo-pooed the idea that Donald Trump’s presidency was 100% illegitimate. They’ve insisted that We The People “elected” Trump — inventing a narrative to explain how Trump “won” Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. What, oh what, will our News Media do when, at last, they’re confronted with the stone cold truth: by using proprietary polling data (supplied by Paul Manafort) to suppress Black voting (that is criminal right THERE!), Russia made it possible for just enough vote flipping to capture PA/WI/MI’s electoral votes for Trump. Recall — those three BLUE states were “won” by a combined 77,000 votes.

In the face of all that Russian activity — that we KNOW was happening — you’d be insane to think Donald Trump “won” anything legitimately. Well, you’d be insane or a Republican.

Donald Trump has never — not for one stinking day — been the legitimate President Of The United States.

Nothing he’s done has had the actual authority that flows from We The People.

He’s never had the authority therefore to change anything he’s changed, push the tax breaks he pushed, or nominate a single one of the judges he nominated — SCOTUS judges especially. But then, judges and hijacking the judiciary has always been the point of the exercise.

Battening down the judiciary has always been how the RW money (the Kochs & the Mercers) were going to stop America’s “slide” into diversity and a more civilized, socialized form of governing ourselves instead of forcing us into the authoritarian, church-based neo-feudalism of their wettest wet dreams. Russia did not pose a problem for them. It presented a partner.

A partner in crime.

We The People sat here — for bloody years — thinking that either or both Robert Mueller and the FBI were deep into probing Donald Trump’s foreign entanglements — especially his painfully obvious relationship with Russia, Russian gangsters and dirty Russian money. We had no idea that Rod Rosenstein had stuck a shiv in our back. There was no investigation of Trump’s foreign entanglements. Russia has truly been at the wheel of our ship of state from the instant Trump both took and broke his oath of office at the very same instant.

That needs our immediate attention. Our self-destructive pandemic response is part and parcel of every other Russian perversion of our government. It’s meant to disarm us, weaken us and make us look foolish to the world. The goal is keep us on the sidelines for as long as possible while Vladimir does his worst to Europe and the rest of the world. The thing he fears most is an American government that ends his free-for-all.

Vlad knows a day of reckoning his coming. With the Democrats in power, Vlad Putin will become a kind of persona non gratta. We will hunt down every bank account he has an interest in. Remember — Vlad can’t do his banking in Russia — it’s too corrupt. He relies on our regulated, much more trustworthy banks to hide and launder the massive pile of money he’s stolen from his own people.

Every sanction we had on Russia will go back. Plus a thousand more. It is going to suck to be them. They’ll have to take it up with Vladimir.

That scares Vladimir almost as much as being poor.

Russia cannot get to win in any way, shape or form. That shouldn’t be a revelation. Russia worked with Trump for dark, nefarious reasons. Trump worked with Russia for dark, nefarious reasons. The Republican Party worked with both Trump AND Russia for dark and nefarious reasons. They’re all thieves and criminals.

And — in the America that’s about to reassert itself — thieves and criminals never get to keep what they stole including the will of the American People. The intent of our Will was clear as can be in 2016. It’s even clearer today.

It is absurd to argue that America “has to” accept and keep the political consequences of criminal acts — including treason. We absolutely do not — and will not.

There are many hard battles ahead. Doing the right thing is never easy unfortunately but — as we should have learned with slavery — screw up your country’s founding principles at the founding? It will haunt you forever.

We’d be stupid as a Republican to go and make THAT foolish mistake again.

Why Comedy (Like SNL, John Oliver, Sara Cooper) Matters In Terrible Times

Nobody needs a laugh quite like America does. There’s a shell-shock-y look in our eyes, put there by four plus years of Donald Trump and his daily cavalcade of greed, psychosis, corruption and treason. On the one hand, America is not now the country it was when Trump took his oath of office (which he violated the second he took it). Back then, we joked about how awful the country would be if Trump got ahold of it. He aren’t laughing now.

Let’s get one thing clear: Donald Trump has no sense of humor. That’s not my opinion, it’s a fact. Granted what we’re talking about — a sense of humor — is a gossamer bubble that farts — but, as hard to pin down as a sense of humor might be (it’s like a “soul” that way), its presence (or lack thereof) is immediately clear to everyone. The first key piece of evidence that determines whether or not you have a sense of humor is whether or not you can laugh at yourself.

If you can laugh at yourself, you’re in. You have a sense of humor. If you can’t, you don’t. Game over.

It really is that simple. Donald Trump — notoriously — can’t laugh at himself in any way, shape or form. Even his thin skin is thin-skinned. Having no sense of humor doesn’t mean you can’t say funny things — Donald Trump says funny things all the time; he just doesn’t know how to deliver them funny because he’s always looking over his shoulder in fear. This makes him remarkably weak.

The irony of course is that, in a way, comedy motivated Trump to go after the presidency. At the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (in 2011), Trump famously bristled when then President Barack Obama joked, “No one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. That’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like: Did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”

People with no sense of humor, like Trump, can’t see irony; it’s literally invisible to them. You have to be able to laugh at yourself — and see life’s absurdity reflected in your own experience — in order to appreciate irony. Same goes for sarcasm.

Donald Trump may say things that sound funny or ironic but that’s entirely unintentional. Oh, he means for people to laugh at what he says — but that’s because he expects they’re laughing WITH him at whoever he’s laughing at. That’s the big tell as to whether or not you have a sense of humor. Are you capable of laughing WITH people? Or are you only capable of laughing AT them

Bullies like Trump can only laugh AT people.

Comedy — and the past three, Trump-inspired seasons of SNL have epitomized it — decompresses whatever we’re going through. It holds it up for collective analysis, led by the comedian. Comedy’s not just “like” therapy, it is therapy. It’s therapeutic for sure. Even dark-hued laughter, seasoned with skepticism and doubt, still serves a useful purpose.

SNL premieres tonight — and you can almost feel the country counting down the seconds, craving the catharsis all that laughter promises.

The Trump years have been boom years for comedy, in part because Trump can’t laugh at himself. It’s made the Jon Olivers who were already brilliant more brilliant and opened the door to talented people like Sara Cooper and her uncanny ability to tap into Trump’s id..

Good comedy is worth more than laughter. Good comedy shines a spotlight on truth. It points at buffoons (even dangerous buffoons), their lunacy and contradictions, then, for good measure, pulls down its pants.

If anybody needs to be pantsed — regardless of how sick and dangerous he is — it’s Trump.

Dear News Media: There IS No Precedent For What Trump & The Republicans Are Doing; Stop Pretending There Is One

There’s corruption, there’s Republican corruption and then there’s Trumpian corruption. America has experienced the first two. It’s the Trumpian corruption for which we have no precedent. That fact has befuddled America’s news media from the get-go. But then, befuddlement was a natural outgrowth of thinking (and reporting) that “both sides do it”.

Nietsche warned “stare into the abyss long enough and the abyss will stare into you”. The same can be said about bullshit. Stare at bullshit long enough and you will become the bullshit. That’s the disease now ailing our news media. They’ve consumed so much bullshit that they can’t discern reality anymore. That’s why they regularly equate bullshit with the truth.

Since “both sides do it”, bullshit “could” be true since one side insists that it is. The news media can’t get it into its head — everyone’s entitled to their own opinion; they are NOT entitled to their own facts. The news media has confused the two in its own head. If Donald Trump says “Mexicans are rapists” or that it’s acceptable for a rich, white man to grab women by their pussies, then “maybe” it “could” be so.

Right off the bat — there’s no precedent for that: there’s no precedent for an American running for president (who isn’t named George Wallace) to be so blatantly racist, misogynist and bigoted.

But then, there’s no precedent for an impeached POTUS running for office again — while still committing the very criminal acts for which HE WAS IMPEACHED.

There’s no precedent for a POTUS or his party to wipe their asses with the rule of law and the Constitution. There’s no precedent for the level of corruption and self-dealing that permeates Trump’s cabinet. There’s no precedent for a POTUS profiting every single day and in myriad ways just because he’s POTUS. There’s no precedent for a POTUS filling the topmost levels of govt with his family members.

There was no precedent for Mitch McConnell denying Merrick Garland a hearing — or refusing to fill hundreds of lifetime federal court appointments because he was hellbent on hijacking the judiciary. There is no precedent for Russia passing so much money through so many hidden avenues to so many Republicans.

There’s no precedent for an American running for office to openly implore a hostile foreign government to help him.

There’s no precedent for an Attorney General doing everything humanly possible to destroy the Justice Department. Or a Secretary of Education doing everything possible to undermine education.

There’s no precedent for lying on the scale Donald Trump has lied on. That all by itself should tell us everything we need to know.

Fact: Donald Trump has always been corrupt and everyone knows it.

Republicans have spent generations lusting for power because they feared losing it forever. The trick — how to grab it and get away with it. Donald Trump — and his Russian friend — gave the Kochs, Mercers & McConnells a partner-in-crime with both the will and the stones to attack American Democracy right at its beating heart: elections. The Republicans pulled off a soft coup d’etat in plain sight. They stole an election out from under not just Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party but out from under We The People.

Unfortunately, there’s plenty of precedent for Republicans gaming elections or stealing them outright. Where they’ve taken their criminality to a bold, new height here is through their total commitment TO that criminality. The GOP has stopped being 1) a good actor, 2) compliant in any way, shape or form with the rule of law, 3) even remotely patriotic & 4) concerned with the fact that we all know it now. To this day, Mitch McConnell has refused to take up a bill passed by the House that would firm up election security in the face of a Russian onslaught against it. That’s because Moscow Mitch wants and needs Russia to do that thing it does.

And yet… on MSNBC, Steve Kornacki will get out there, bright-eyed & bushy-tailed in his button-down-blue-shirt and khakis uniform, pointing at numbers from 2016 as if they had anything to do with right now. How can they when Steve’s 2016 numbers don’t factor in Russia. Oh, Steve might allow that Russia “influenced” the election but — what does that even mean?

Nothing, of course — it’s bad journalist-speak for “I haven’t a clue, I’m not going to have a clue and therefore, I’m not factoring it into my story”. That’s an instant red flag, telling us that the journalist in question sucks at journalism. Any Russian “influence” should stop the story dead right there. “What influence, how?” a semi-competent journalist would ask, “Is it measurable? Is it possible that that “influence” influenced the election’s outcome?

We get NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell acting as Donald Trump’s personal steno pad, burping out whatever Trump says — free from context — as if it were true just because he said it.

We get the Guru of Both Sides Do It, Chuck Todd, rolling his eyes (as if a thought was passing behind them) and stammering (as if he was searching for the “right word”). We get Stephanie Ruhl asking “Yeah, but what if…?” questions that give credence to bullshit. “Yeah, but what if bullshit was true?” No, bullshit is never true — but thanks for telling your NEWS AUDIENCE that, sans any evidence, it ‘could be’.

We get hosts who apparently don’t watch their own news network — and whose own shows reflect a lack of familiarity with the very narrative other (far better — and better rated) hosts regularly put out as product. How can a news network not know how to aggregate a narrative into something cohesive — based on their own reporting?

I wonder if there’s precedent…

Racism — Like Beauty — Is In The Eye Of The Beholder; Racists Don’t Get To Decide If They’re Racist

If fierce 7 year old Wynta-Amor Rogers says you’re a racist? It means YOU’RE A RACIST.

Donald Trump is a racist. That’s not hyperbole, it’s a stone cold fact. He’s a bigot, too. And a misogynist. He’s corrupt to his bone marrow. And a traitor. Not a word of that is opinion. There are receipts — copious receipts — most of them Trump’s own words or deeds. Quick note to America’s news media: 1) Trump’s been telling you what a corrupt, racist, misogynist, bigoted traitor he is from the get-go; for Pete’s sake, BELIEVE HIM and, 2) stop taking the idea of a “smoking gun” so literally. Just because YOU’VE never heard Trump say out loud “Nobody’s a bigger racist than me!” doesn’t mean he’s not one.

Whether Trump or anyone is a racist or not isn’t up to them. Stop asking if they are — they’re the wrong person to ask!

Quiz a five year old who just stole a cookie if they’re guilty — even as they hold the purloined biscuit — minus a bite — in their hand and they’ll probably say “No, I didn’t!”. The question should have been rhetorical. Same goes for the car thief who tells you your car is his — as he sits inside your car in your driveway. He’s a thief because he’s stealing from you. Your experience of the incident and point of view are entirely valid. His saying it never happened — or that you gave him the car — are not.

See how that works? Ask the thief if he’s a thief and he’ll likely say no. Ask a racist if they’re racist — unless they’re a Proud Boy — they’ll vehemently deny that they’ve ever harbored a racist thought. Hmmmmmm, our news media would say to themselves now, if they say they’re not a racist, maybe we should believe them…

Racism, fortunately, is easier to discern than car thievery. We don’t have to root around in the glove compartment to see whose name is on the vehicle’s registration. The victim of racism IS the registration. THEY are the proof that racism exists and they carry that proof around with them inside their heads.

The moment a victim of racism points a J’Accuse! finger at someone, they must answer for (at the very least) the perception that they’re racist. Why would someone think that of them? Denying it outright? It just proves the point: you absolutely ARE a racist.

Beauty’s not up to the beautiful to identify. What do they know anyway? Anyone that obsessed with their own appearance has screwy priorities and shouldn’t be trusted to begin with. And anyway, beauty’s subjective. It’s as “I know it when I see it” as a thing can be.

Racism runs deeper. “I know it when I feel it” more closely reflects the experience. You’re being judged because of who you are or what you look like. You’ll be convicted and punished based on the same evidence. Bigotry and misogyny work that way, too. I’ve been told more than once by a well-meaning Christian that they were going to pray for me. Let’s be real: when a Christian says that to you, it’s because they honestly believe their imaginary friend runs everything. That’s why they’re better than you. They’re “connected” (like a mafioso), you’re not.