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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin McCarthy & How Bullsh*t Metastasizes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a rabbit hole. Avoid it.

Republicans, The Big Lie And Bullsh*t Kabuki

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teams v Mobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things Both Sides Don’t Do

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both sides don’t favor profits over people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I could go on.

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

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

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

Dear Democrats And The News Media: One Cannot Be “Bi-Partisan” With Pirates, Perverts And Traitors

Our news media’s absurd obsession with “bi-partisanship” is a direct outgrowth of their absurd obsession that “both sides do it”. Once you’ve convinced yourself that the only thing separating Democrats from Republicans is the letter affixed to their last names, you’ve already false equivalenced yourself into a corner. The problem with “both sides do it” brand journalism (other than the fact that it’s complete BS) is that, by its nature, it can’t aggregate information — including its own reporting. Our news media insists — in the face of its own reporting — that Republicans are entirely honest actors. In fact, it’s not at all unusual for our news media to turn from a story about how the Republican Party — as a whole — is doing everything it can to make voting hard as hell for everyone not white, not voting Republican to a story about the January 6 Commission and which Republicans should be on it — as if the Republicans GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is considering as his five selections aren’t themselves guilty of helping PLOT the insurrection the Commission will be tasked with investigating. See the problem there? Good. Our news media doesn’t.

How much imagination does it take to connect dots like Missouri Senator Josh Hawley entering the Capitol building on January 6 with this particular salute —

— with what Trump was doing outside the White House (telling the crowd — some of whom had trained for and helped plan what they were about to do) that he would be “right there with them!”?

How much imagination does it take to connect all those Republican attempts to restrict voting rights after an election where the voting was as secure as it could be with the Republicans refusing to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the election fairly and squarely (unlike Donald Trump)? How could a treasonous, sexual-assault-enabling toadstool like Ohio’s Jim Jordan — who, as of this morning, has volunteered to sit on the Commission — sit on such a Commission when he insists that Trump is the actual POTUS? That’s not a guy with “a different opinion”, it’s a seditionist committing open acts of sedition when he should already be sitting in a prison cell BECAUSE he’s a seditionist. But then, it’s “funny” in America what white people get away with. Literally.

Every Republican politician who has taken money in any way, shape or form from Charles Koch, the Koch Brothers (when there was two of them still), or Koch Industries understands what’s being asked of them. Money in politics always comes with strings. Or, in the case of Republicans, rope.

What that means is that, on some level, every single Republican in Congress understands that their Party has now openly committed to seizing power and asserting permanent minority rule whatever it takes. There’s no grey here. One either IS or ISN’T faithful to our Constitution and the oath taken to defend it from all enemies foreign and domestic. Imagine what America would be like if we actually punished people when they took huge, steaming craps all over their oaths of office. The GOP might already be extinct.

Republicans knew at least a month before they nominated Trump in 2016 that he was compromised by Russia. Think about that. It matters. It also matters that our media — having reported this fact — has forgotten the fact that they reported it. To this day, not a journalist that I’m aware of (I keep Googling it!) has asked Kevin McCarthy what he meant when he said “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” That statement was recorded and played back for the Washington Post reporter who reported the story. It’s verifiable, you see? Hell — other newspapers like The Guardian picked up the story because it passed the smell test.

Over the course of four hard years, Trump laid waste to the very structure of our government, harmed or destroyed vital alliances that even our own armed forced begged him not to do, cozied up with authoritarians and did everything just south of giving Vlad Putin a happy ending in public. And, really, not a single Republican tried to stop him. Or questioned the fact that it was happening. Really, how much imagination does it take to connect this dot?

There is no justification for any Democrat to push bi-partisanship. One cannot be bi-partisan with people actively working against your interests. It’s not how bi-partisanship works. Ever. The reason garbage like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema push bi-partisanship is because they’re corrupt — owned by the very same money that owns the Republicans. One way or another, Koch money is doing both Manchin’s and Sinema’s talking.

We’ll know McCarthy’s “choices” shortly. Our news media insists that we’ll soon know McCarthy’s “intentions” going forward. Our news media are idiots because McCarthy’s intentions are crystal clear. Some of us have been aware of them for a long, long time — that’s because we actually read the news, (apparently) unlike most of the “journalists” cranking it out.

We Really Can’t Compare What’s Happening To America Right Now With ANYTHING From Our Past

People with zero imagination (like most of our news media) will always look to the past as prologue — and most of the time, it absolutely is. But this is not “most of the time”. You can tell because nothing even remotely like it has ever happened to us before. Richard Nixon may have been breathtakingly corrupt, but at least he wasn’t a traitor. That is what makes Donald Trump and his presidency truly unique in our history. Never before has one of our two main political parties crawled into bed with a hostile foreign power in order to win an election. But then, never before has one of our two parties made it their purpose to bust a cap in democracy’s noggin and, in its place, install a state of permanent minority rule. That is precisely what the Republicans are doing. They’re not exactly being subtle about it. How can it possibly be that more Republicans “believe” Biden stole the presidency from Trump than believe Biden won legitimately? Of course they don’t “believe” that. Everything the GOP does is bullshit kabuki of one kind or another.

Though everything about Trump’s presidency defied convention, our news media to this day insist on seeing Trump through a “conventional” lens. What started with Trump calling Mexicans rapists ended with Trump insisting he was still POTUS. Nothing even remotely conventional happened in between. But, if you insist on viewing it all through a “normal” lens then — as happened with us — rather than stop seeing Trump as normal, our news media reconceived “normal” to include Trump. The proof that they did that? When Joe Biden finally took over — and began to govern the way we’re actually used to, our news media regarded it like IT was “strange”. As if doing the work we need done was the oddity while screaming treasonous absurdities at the top of your lungs was what we expected presidents to do.

Our news media is especially determined — since it’s what almost always happen during a new president’s first mid-term election — that the Republicans will triumph handsomely over the Democrats and re-take the House and Senate, making the rest of Joe Biden’s agenda (including SCOTUS judges) moot. Their basis for thinking that? It’s what NORMALLY happens.

Except it’s not what’s going to happen this time because nothing about this time is “normal”.

For starters, the more Republicans try to restrict voting, the more Democratic voters will do whatever they have to to vote. That’s assuming any of the Republicans’ restrictive voting laws survive till election 2022. Take this to the bank: they won’t. They violate Americans’ civil rights and the current Department of Justice has sworn to prosecute such crimes. I don’t think this is an “if they do “; it’s a whole-hearted “they’re going to and no one’s going to stop them”. That’s because of who’s doing it and what it means to them — women, women of color, men of color, Black people, brown people, Asian people, Latino people, Muslims — they all have a lot to gain from keeping the pressure on.

White hegemony is dying as we speak. Oh, it’s still flailing about wildly which means its still incredibly dangerous. But white hegemony is a minority position.

Were Donald Trump the problem, removing Trump from the equation would have solved the problem. But Trump was merely the symptom of a much larger disease. The Right Wing money — the Kochs, the Mercers, etc — saw demographic oblivion coming at them much quicker than they ever thought it would. They may be greedy but they’re not stupid. They saw clearly that a diverse, majority electorate would never elect a Republican POTUS ever again (unless the GOP could manipulate the Electoral College). They grasped that, in time, a diverse, majority electorate would undo a lot of the gerrymandering and make the house a likely Democratic stronghold; with Representatives having to face re-election every two years, holding the House is always a mercurial proposition. The right focused on two things: holding the Senate and hijacking the judiciary.

The Senate, by design, is tilted heavily toward the Republican party and conservatism. Trust me on this: there aren’t TWO Dakotas because there were too many Dakotans to fit into one. It’s the same reason there are as many western states as there are — what with their teeny-tiny populations that, really, could have been combined into several large states. The Senate therefore over-represents red, rural states and under-represents populated parts of the country. Senate Democrats represent 41.5 million more people than do Senate Republicans. Why that’s the population of pretty much every single Republican western state combined. Plus a lot. If we were shown maps that didn’t break whole states down into red and blue (because, of course, real estate doesn’t vote; nor do the cows on it), we wouldn’t think of Republican power the same way.

Republicans, to their credit, also grasped the importance of holding local power. They understand that if you control the architecture, you can control almost the entire democracy. You can even change it to suit your needs even if you are the minority. Beyond holding the Senate (and losing Georgia was brutal for Mitch McConnell — and it was almost entirely Trump’s fault that the Republicans lost Georgia), the GOP made a point of taking over as many statehouses as they could. Often, their candidates ran either unopposed or opposed by poorly organized, poorly funded Democrats.

The big grab was the judiciary. The Kochs tasked Mitch McConnell with doing everything he could to deny Obama lifetime appointments. The Kochs knew damned well that Trump was in bed with Russia. But then, so were the Kochs and Mercers. The decision to go all in with Trump was done with the full knowledge of who Trump was and what he was guilty of. To the Kochs, controlling the courts — the SCOTUS especially — was more important than even being a loyal American. Apparently they can handle Russia running our country. They can’t handle Black or brown people having political power.

That’s what makes this so confounding. In a very large sense, the problem in front of us IS our past. We had a choice when the country was founded, to legitimize or delegitimize slavery. We chose to legitimize it. We got it into our heads that “All men are created equal” could co-exist beside slavery without anyone noticing it made “All men are created equal” look like total bullshit. Trumpism IS our past — every vile bit of it, rolled into one.

At The End Of The Day, It’s ALL About TREASON

If only our news media could aggregate the story they’re reporting. If only our news media did its due diligence the way Fusion GPS did when they were hired (by Trump-fearing Republicans) to do oppo research on Donald Trump. If only Republicans hadn’t gutted campaign finance laws and made dark money the root of our politics — making it easy for Russia to put money wherever it wanted to. If only so many Republicans — including Mitch McConnell — hadn’t been filling their campaigns’ pockets with Russian cash (as if Russian cash didn’t have huge strings attached to it). If only conservatives weren’t so hell bent on conserving America circa 1850. If only Democrats acted like Republicans and behaved ruthlessly when in power (but then, if Democrats did that, they’d already BE Republicans, so never mind). The most frustrating thing about the mess that we’re in is how preventable it was! At so many points in the story, a rush of patriotism would have stopped what Trump and the GOP were/are doing dead in its tracks. Even a quick hit of journalistic integrity would have done the trick.

But, hey, a boy can dream, can’t he?

At the very center of our story are TWO THINGS: 1) Vladimir Putin’s desire to see a “Greater Russia” returned to its “glory days” (plus a desire to be even richer than he already is) and 2) the Republican Party’s appreciation for the demographic peril it faced and its deeply cynical, anti-democratic response.

Putin’s not some “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” as Winston Churchill described Russia. He’s a highly trained, highly skilled intelligence officer (who was smart enough to navigate and end up running the intelligence service which he used to leverage Boris Yeltsin OUT of the presidency and him INTO it). He’s corrupt to his bone marrow — if only because he has to be just to survive. Putin’s less a “head of state” than a crime boss with a government at his disposal. Aside from petroleum, Russia has ZERO to offer the world’s markets. And, in the pantheon of corruption, nothing corrupts quite like oil. Putin himself has two problems: 1) he needs to destabilize Western democracies because they pose a threat to his dream of a Greater Russia. Putin wants places like the Ukraine to be part of Greater Russia, not NATO. Problem 2) Putin can’t bank his enormous stash o’ cash in Russia because, as he knows, Russian banks are corrupt; that means he MUST “bank” his cash in the West where, if the West took its head out of its ass, it would realize Putin is incredibly vulnerable.

Evil doesn’t pay for itself. Someone has to cash flow it. Literally. Or the people perpetrating the evil will find something better to do with their time. That’s the thing, ya see — most evil is incredibly banal. At least, it starts that way.

Check out the “murderer’s row” of banality that is the current Republican Party (that’s BEEN the GOP for a generation at least). Kevin McCarthy? Matt Gaetz? Jim Jordan? Devin Nunes? Ron DeSantis? Marjorie Taylor Greene? These mediocrities all think white supremacy’s a “thing”.

But, more importantly, check out the Right Wing money and what IT has been up to. The Koch Brothers (back when there were two of them; now it’s only Charles carrying the libertarian flame) and the Mercers understood what was coming. They’re very smart people,. Deeply conservative, too. The thing they wanted most of all to CONSERVE was America how it WAS — back when nobody questioned the idea that white people should run everything (and be the only ones voting). Charles Koch saw demographic extinction in the GOP’s future. America as a white majority country is over with. Take away judicial interference a la Bush v Gore or outright theft (Donald Trump) and the Republicans can’t win the White House ever again. The House of Representatives is too mercurial to control but gerrymandering can greatly undermine the majority’s pro-Democratic will. That left the Senate and the judiciary.

The Senate’s structure mimics the Electoral College’s big nod to racism. Why exactly are there TWO Dakotas while Washington, DC and Puerto Rico can’t get statehood? Is it because there were sooooooo many Dakotans? Let’s be real. The reason there are as many western states as there is is to limit the influence urban areas have over our politics. The west was always deeply conservative. But things change; look at California. This is where Ronald Reagan started his rise. That could not happen today. Hell,, Reagan couldn’t even get elected by Republicans today never mind Democrats.

Though the GOP hated Trump and wanted anyone but him to be their candidate — they even KNEW that Russia owned him before they nominated him — when the moment of truth came, they went through with nominating Trump instead of calling the FBI on him. “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump, swear to God!” said current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy as he entered a room of GOP leaders back in 2016. No one seemed especially startled by McCarthy’s pronouncement. No one balked. No one called the FBI. Instead, the entire GOP leadership agreed with then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan. The subject of Donald Trump’s vulnerability to compromise by a hostile foreign government was not going to leave that room. “That’s how we know we’re family,” said Speaker Ryan.

Literally EVERYTHING the Republican Party has done since that moment has been either in service of treason or an attempt to cover up that treason. Once you lap over into treason, everything you do — except confess — is in furtherance of your treason. And everyone who even SUSPECTS that you’re a traitor is obligated by law to DO something about it other than “fret”. Thoughts and prayers don’t count either. Telling someone. THAT is a citizen’s OBLIGATION.

What the Republican Party has done is truly monstrous. It’s unfathomably awful. It borders on the unthinkable. It’s not hard to grasp why most American journalists haven’t yet grasped the full, unfathomable monstrosity that it is. And yet, there it is! Having had their perspective sucked from them by “both sides do it” journalism, most journalists relentlessly insisted that other than a few details, Republicans and Democrats were exactly alike, both parties doing everything for entirely political reasons. That has NEVER been true. Modern Democrats (we now represent the values the Republican Party claimed when it launched in 1854) are the diverse, hard-to-organize crowd Will Rogers said “wasn’t an ‘organized’ political party” . That’s what diversity does — it’s harder to organize but produces far more exciting, resourceful and just-plain-BETTER problem-solving for our collective problems.

E Pluribus Unum is what makes America great. Conservatism, greed, corruption and racism don’t.

Diversity and progressivism do not threaten America’s future. Treason, on the other hand…

American Journalism Sucks Because Too Many Journalists Don’t Get How Mosaics (Or Connect-The-Dots) Work

Hmmm… I wonder what it is…?

After five years of Trumpism in our politics, America’s news media have finally acknowledged that Trumpism is a very real threat to our democracy. If you demanded specificity, most journalists would probably point to all the obvious instances of Republicans drafting anti-democratic legislation in nearly every state. They’d be right, of course. Most of those journalists are very clear about the terrible implications of what the GOP is doing and what those implications mean: the Republican Party is trying to discount every other vote except theirs. If they can’t outright STOP Black, brown, young or LGBTQ people from voting then they’ll simply refuse to COUNT those votes. Same end product: the Will Of The People to expand the democratic franchise as far as possible will be circumvented by an angry, racist, white minority who want to keep all political power for themselves. But then, after reporting this, most reporters, upon turning to the next story — the battle over the filibuster, for instance — will report it as if the previous story didn’t exist. So, in one moment, Republicans are destroying democracy while, in the next, Democrats are being asked why they won’t work with Republicans.

One of the most painful, frustrating experiences American journalism subjected their news audience to flows from the idea that, in American politics, “both sides do it”. This fallacious framing is pure cynicism. It ascribes the same motives to the Republican suppressing a Democrat’s vote as it does the Democrat whose vote has just been suppressed: they’re being “political”. Oy. That’s as stupid as ascribing the same motives to the car thief and the car thief’s victim who wants his car back. “You want your car back? What are you, some kind of car thief?” That’s the implied question. “Both sides do it” turns healthy skepticism — something every journalist must have in their arsenal — into unhealthy cynicism. Except our motives are all different. If Democrats thought and acted like Republicans, they’d BE Republicans.

The simple truth is, progressives and conservatives (never mind their political labels) are different creatures. We think differently. What’s most important to us is different. Conservatism wants to preserve the past for as long as possible because the past represents a kind of “Golden Age” in their minds. Progressives, on the other hand, want to fix what the past got wrong and make THAT our collective future. We will almost always favor people over profits. The commonweal is way more important to us than anyone person’s bank account. We understand that it takes a village to do literally anything — especially when it comes to money.

American journalism has gotten it into its head that, at all costs, it must be “neutral”. To a degree, they’re right. Journalism’s job is straightforward reporting of the facts with as little bias as possible so that the news audience can draw their own conclusions. But, as new information enters the environment, the environment must adapt and evolve. If new information says it’s raining outside, you may want to take an umbrella with you when you walk out the door. This morning’s weather forecast will be useless by this afternoon. But, American journalism — because they think “both sides do it” — has become obsessive over old weather forecasts — as if this morning’s forecast still applied to right now even though, clearly, the weather is entirely different.

American politics have always been ugly. We forget that because we have no sense of our own history; we’ve gotten it into our heads that, in the past, we were all “Kumbaya” despite our differences. We’ve never been that. Hell pro-slavery Southern Democrat Preston Brooks nearly beat abolitionist Republican Charles Sumner on May 22, 1856 to death on the Senate floor. Quick reminder: per Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party”, Lincoln’s Republican Party and the modern GOP are diametric opposites now of what they were then. Modern Republicans are Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) who always opposed racial justice in America. But, as bad as it has been in the past — up to and including attempted homicide — the introduction of Trumpism into our body politic (into Republicanism in particular) — ratcheted up every terrible impulse every Republican ever had.

Same goes for our journalists.

“Mexicans are rapists” should have been the end of Trump’s presidential bid as it would have been for literally any other candidate. “Pussy grabbing” should have iced the “Trump Will Never Be POTUS” cake. And yet, both those very real concerns for a presidential candidate were outdone by “But, her emails!”, a tempest in a teapot if ever there was one. “Mexicans are rapists” wasn’t just a single statement addressing a single issue (Trump’s appreciation for fellow rapists), it was an opening to a wider discussion because what Trump revealed was clear: HE’S A RACIST who, without even thinking about it, regularly says racist things.

But, let’s bore in on racism itself as an example of what I mean. Our news media thinks its an open question as to whether anyone is or isn’t a racist. They think it’s as easy as asking a racist if he’s racist. Except racism (like beauty, ironically) isn’t up to the subject, it’s up to everyone around the subject — the beholders either of the beautiful person’s beauty or the racist’s racism. And it’s not subject to a vote either. It only takes one racist victim to make a racist. If anyone feels anyone else is being racist toward THEM (no one gets to proxy here), then that’s the end of it. Mind you, this does assume we’re all being honest actors, so obviously I’m excluding any and all Republicans.

Our news media struggles with whether or not Donald Trump — with a whole freakin’ HISTORY of doing and saying racist things — is or isn’t a racist. That’s because they bore in on each instance of racism as if stood all by itself, unconnected to any other moment in Trump’s life. Trump’s niece Mary Trump did a wonderful job of contextualizing her uncle’s psychopathology. She doesn’t question whether or not her uncle’s racist because she’s heard him say racist things. Same goes for whether or not her uncle’s a scumbag.

If you looked only at a dot on a page, you might think that dot was everything — the whole universe. A professional, compulsive journalist would, understandably, make that dot the sole focus of her existence until she’d explained it. But, if that compulsive journalist can only see that one dot — even down to the microns of ink intertwining with the microns of paper fiber — while she may be giving us a new, profound understanding of one thing, she’s missing the boat on literally everything else in the whole universe. Or, can we say “missing the big picture”?

A tile is one thing, the mosaic it sits inside of is something else entirely. Donald Trump was the first president EVER to have been impeached — for election fraud no less — and then run in the very same election he was impeached for cheating in! But, during the election, very few journalists connected those dots for their news audience — even as Trump was actively cheating in the very same way. But then, Trump cheated to become POTUS in the first place. If not for Russia, Trump does not win in 2016. What about that piece of the mosaic?

Our news media continues to this day to scratch its head over the hold Trump has on the Republican Party. While, sure, there are Republicans who just plain adore Trump’s authoritarian bent (they’ve always hated the gamble that elections present), it’s not ideology connecting these pirates. It’s treason — pure and simple. Our news media should know this because THEY have reported it. In 2017, the Washington Post reported on a conversation that took place in 2016, a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their presidential candidate. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a room of Republican leaders a month before the convention and says out loud (it was recorded and the recording was played for the Post’s reporter) “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” For the record, no one in the room questioned McCarthy’s truthfulness. They all seemed to take it as a given that McCarthy was spot on — that Russia was paying Rohrbacher (among other Republicans) and Trump (the guy they were about to nominate to be POTUS). Their issue wasn’t THAT Trump was compromised, it was “how are we going to keep this terrible information a secret?”

That’s why, per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan, the Republican leadership agreed to keep the secret that their presidential nominee to be was a Russian intelligence asset “in the family”.

It shouldn’t be a question of “Is Trump a traitor” just like it shouldn’t be a question “Is Trump a racist?” Hell yes and hell yes!

The Big Picture shouldn’t be as hard to see as we make it. And connecting dots shouldn’t be the challenge it is either. For the record? The connect-the-dots picture up top? It’s a dinosaur.