The Filibuster Is One More Way SLAVERY Continues To Torment America — It HAS TO GO!

It almost always sucks when an unintended consequence punches far above its weight and delivers a knockout blow. That’s the filibuster. This bizarre tactic gives one person — one US Senator — the ability to stop what the majority wants in its tracks. In the 1960’s, Southern Democrats (now known as Republicans — as Heather Cox Richardson writes in her excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party” our two parties, the Democrats and Republicans have, in essence, switched names since the Republican Party’s founding in the 1850’s) used the filibuster to block passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Back then, filibusterers were made to actually filibuster. The Senate’s Racist Coalition had to filibuster for 75 hours straight including a 14-hour and 13 minute address by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia (before Byrd had his “come to Jesus” moment and repented his racist ways). The filibuster failed when the Senate invoked cloture for only the second time since 1927. The filibuster is antithetical to democratic governance — that’s why it’s the tool-of-choice of racists.

The filibuster has to go. Screw its giving the minority a voice against a hostile majority. That bullshit celebration of the “rugged individual” standing heroically against the forces of evil is actually a lone racist stemming the tide of equality. Or a handful of racists as with the Southern Democrats. It’s the few holding sway over the many. In America, that always means rich, Christian white men having power far beyond what they’re entitled to. That the filibuster still exists is a quirk of American politics and history. It arises from an accommodation made in 1806 to Aaron Burr — then the Vice President — before he left office. It was never intended to be used for ordinary business; (this is from Wikipedia: “a small number of super-majority requirements were explicitly included in [the Constitution], including conviction on impeachment charges (2/3 of Senate), expelling a member of Congress (2/3 of the chamber in question), overriding presidential vetoes (2/3 of both Houses), ratifying treaties (2/3 of Senate) and proposing constitutional amendments (2/3 of both Houses) — see the Wikipedia article “Filibuster In The US Senate” for footnotes and sources).

By 1846, the Senate tired of even casual abuse of the filibuster “rules” such as they were. This “addition by subtraction” was regularly bringing the Senate and its business to a dead stop while one Senator dead set on having HIS way, got up on his little pegs and spewed until either he got his way or 2/3 of the Senate (finally!) told him to shut the hell up already. Not the point of the exercise.

In the 1970’s, the Senate — trying to have it both ways — voted to keep the filibuster alive but make it more “practical” to apply: just what WAS NOT needed. Now, instead of having to actually get up in the Senate and speak for as long as they possibly could, Senators could now “threaten” to filibuster — and get all the benefits of a filibuster’s obstruction without having to any of the heavy lifting of actually filibustering. How white guy of them!

The fear is that destruction of the filibuster will make most every Senatorial decision a simple majority proposition. That proposition scares conservatives more than it does Progressives.

Let’s remind ourselves — the Senate, like the Electoral College, is, by nature and design unfair. The EC stands between each American voter and the president they vote for. We only pretend to vote for president; the Electoral College is the actual mechanism that picks a POTUS. And make no mistake — the EC exists solely to soothe the furrowed brows of slavers. There has always been dynamic tension in America between the populated, diverse cities — Blue America — and the unpopulated, white-ruled rural parts — Red America. On a map, all that red ink represents real estate way more than it does any people who might live on it.

Imagine a presidential campaign where voters in Ohio or Florida didn’t have the potential to literally decide a presidential contest for the whole country. Think of the undue but very real political weight this gives voters in one state over another — almost always rural over urban. Candidates chase “undecided voters” in specific states because their eye’s on the EC. That’s why they’ll go to diners in Iowa and listen to farmers like they were sages. Hey, they might indeed be very bright people with smart things to say. But how they vote should have far less impact on my life than it does just as how I vote should have less impact on theirs.

That the farmer’s vote matters more than mine at present — that’s a problem. The Senate’s design exacerbates it. Again, by design, rural voters get hyper-represented while urban voters get hypo-represented. Wyoming’s 445,000 voters get two US Senators. Same goes for California’s 45 MILLION voters. Each Wyomingite has a far better chance of getting their Senator on the phone — and doing what THEY need than any Californian does (unless they’re super rich). So, a sheep rancher in Wyoming stands a better shot at seeing his needs legislated than a Black single mom in Los Angeles who’s struggling to pay her bills. Such is equality in a system designed to deliver the opposite.

Fixing the Senate is a Big Job that will take a super majority of Democrats to accomplish. Don’t pooh-pooh the possibility. In “normal times”, the coming off year election in 2022 (and why the hell is anyone thinking about THAT already?) would advantage the party OUT OF power because the party IN POWER screwed up. But — cue the “Breaking News” banner — these aren’t “normal times”. The first job the Democrats now controlling the reins of power must accomplish is to undo as much of the damage Trump did as possible. That’s not the Democrats being political. That’s the Democrats GOVERNING.

Our news media — drunk off their asses on the “Both Sides Do It” kool aid — have convinced themselves and half of America that anything anyone does is motivated first by politics. This isn’t just cynical, it’s flat out wrong. They now think that both sides behave the same way and for the exact same reasons. Oy. Just… oy. Before the Democrats can even think about putting forward their “socialist wet dreams”, they FIRST have to solve the pandemic. Do that, they can solve the economy. In between all of that, the Democrats have to deal with the fact that the GOP just sponsored a coup d’etat against the rest of us.

And, on top of THAT, the Democrats have to deal with the fact that the entire Republican Party either participated in multiple acts of treason or stood by while treason and traitors threatened America. Countries that allow traitors to walk free will not be countries for very much longer. The traitors will see to it.

Right now, Mitch McConnell — our Treason Turtle MINORITY LEADER — is attempting to keep the filibuster alive both to protect racism but also to protect the traitors in his party. The fact that racists, bigots and seditionists would benefit — well, to Mitch, that’s all just icing. Odds are, if Mitch McConnell is FOR something? That something is rotten. Or Mitch is doing it for rotten reasons.

Repeat: the filibuster has to go. The people defending it have to disabused of their bullshit excuses (history, fairness, the tyranny of the majority) and made to fess up: they are standing in the majority’s way mostly because they’re racist — and keeping racism alive in America is more important to them than almost anything.

When Magical Thinking Kills

That would be now. Officially. A member of the Capitol Police Department died this morning because one of the seditionist marauders attacking the US Capitol at Donald Trump’s command crushed his skull with a fire extinguisher. As we’re learning, many of these terrorists have now TURNED ON Trump because, last night, Trump was forced to make a robotic statement separating himself from the violence. They could have looked past Trump’s robotic speech; previously, they would have celebrated it — seeing the code that celebrated them embedded within. But, as Trump’s sedition army swarmed the US Congress, they BELIEVED that they were part of an actual PLAN. They believed something substantive was happening — and they were a vital part of it: the literal overthrow of the United States government.

Except Trump had no plan. He was using these mooks for a piece of self-serving Bullshit Kabuki. And they — they now realize — are being hung out to dry. Because there was no plan.

Never, ever, EVER.

The news media wants us to pity these fools the same way they wanted us to “understand” their racial hatred as economic concern. Damn, but it sucks to always be so far ahead of the news media. Apparently they’re on the same “inoculation schedule” with vaccinating us against bullshit as the Trump admin is with inoculating Americans against the coronavirus. They ARE the virus! And Donald Trump — and the rest of his Republican co-conspirators and enablers — they are the SUPER SPREADERS.

As we know from watching Americans succumb and die all around us, not wearing masks while standing in close proximity in closed, indoor spaces spreads this killer disease and yet, tens of thousands of Americans continue to do that very thing, believing nothing bad could possibly happen to them — because Magical Thinking will ward off the pathogen. Unh-unh. Viruses need our cells in order to make more viruses. They see us as cheap-ass sex motels. The more available we make the “rooms”, the more they like it — and the more they check in.

It takes no “magic” to understand the difference between a “glancing” blow” from the virus (walking past someone asymptomatic, both of you masked) and a full-on viral load — one maskless person spewing their infection right into your face because YOU are maskless. Not only will you probably get sick — unless you’re really, really lucky — you’re going to spread the virus to others until the second YOU start wearing a goddamned mask.

Magical thinking never makes anyone thinking it smarter. Take that to the bank.

Let’s be real, religion relies on magical thinking. That’s as opposed to spirituality which doesn’t. Just about every religion demands that its adherents believe at least a little bit of magic in order to make that religion’s explanations for the world make sense. Hard core Christianity relies on its adherents buying wholesale the idea that a deity can breed with a human to produce a “man-god” capable of dying for all of humanity’s “sins” — which, if they accept as absolute truth, will spare them from every dying. Christianity isn’t selling “Do unto others”. Who cares about that? Christianity’s sales pitch — its genius — is selling a way to beat death.

If you are willing to accept this mythology we’ve invented, the church says, we will guarantee you eternal life. BUT — you have to buy all the way in to get that eternal life. You can’t question any of the mythology, its rules, its logic, its bizarre inconsistencies, its factual history, its language even. If you do any of that, the magical “you won’t ever die” spell gets (magically) broken. And you’ll only ever have yourself to blame.

So, you’ll go to hell.

The problem with this example isn’t so much “Christianity” as the people who hijacked Jesus’s message early on and then pretended that THEIR message was Jesus’s.

If we consider how many Christians Christianity has killed — because one group thinks the pope is infallible while the other thinks “what pope?” — it makes it hard to see how Jesus has influenced much of anyone’s “thinking”. Never mind their “doing unto others”. The church understood early on — as religious institutions had before and since — if you want to sell a religion, you need some serious sizzle. Even if it’s all sound effects — because there’s literally no steak — that works for religion. Smoke plus mirrors equals belief.

Meanwhile, here in the real world…

We could use way more doing unto others. There’s no magic to it. There’s just the doing of it which, frankly, can be hard.

Way harder than thinking magically. That thinking magic is real. That things happen “just because”.

On Wednesday, we experienced first hand, live on our televisions, how terrifying magical thinking can be when set loose on the rest of the unsuspecting world. That was magical thinking firing a shot across our bow. If we don’t respond — squashing that magical thinking — it will spread, as magical thinking does (Google the classic work “Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds”). These Trumpanistas — former and current — see or have seen Trump as a literal man-god — it’s there in their social media.

While shaking our heads in disbelief, it’s not inappropriate to give these “useful idiots” a moment of pity — before moving forward with purpose to punish the shit out of them. Most everyone else resisted bullshit’s tug. They need to learn better how to resist. A prison cell may not be the best teacher but, for right now, it’s all we got.

We need to punish magical thinking when it oversteps its place — the heads of those thinking it. Belief in bullshit is, unfortunately, a protected thing. Practice of that bullshit in the public sphere however is NOT protected — especially when it kills other people.

That’s magical thinking’s bottom line: it’s bullshit. I understand how hard a habit bullshit is to break. My habit almost killed me.

We cannot let the bullshit habit of these magical thinkers to kill one more American.

Next: “When Dumbass Coup d’Etats Fail”…

The Reason “Both Sides Do It” Is Bad Journalism

In the “Pantheon Of Wrongheaded Common Wisdom”, “Both Sides Do It” is king, queen and the rest of the demented Spanish Aristocracy. It takes a nubbin of “maybe” and makes it incontrovertible fact. Bad behavior does not belong to any political party. Yes, both sides are physically capable of doing things they shouldn’t and then lying about them to keep from being revealed. Historically, both sides have “done those things”. But (and here’s where “both sides do it” hits a wall and loses), if we put it all on a scale and measured the two piles of awfulness against each other? As with right here, right now, Republican-brand awfulness is exponentially worse for America than Democratic-brand awfulness in large part BECAUSE THERE’S SO MUCH MORE OF IT!

Proportion and perspective are two things “Both Sides Do It” journalism jettisons from the get-go. It says a thief is a thief is a thief — regardless of whether it’s Bernie Madoff stealing billions because he’s a greedy pig or Jean Valjean stealing bread to feed hungry people. “Both sides ‘do it’.” See what I mean? Though theoretically correct, it is absolutely wrong in its framing because it equates two things that shouldn’t be equated.

I’ve worked as a journalist. I’ve been held to journalistic standards. In the absence of hard evidence, one must be skeptical. That’s SKEPTICAL as opposed to CYNICAL. There is a difference.

If your starting point for every story is “both sides do it”, you’re not being skeptical about human beings, you’re being cynical; you’re assuming the very worst for no reason other than you’re assuming it. Authoritarians want the population they control to be deeply cynical — making authoritarianism the only means to control all that irredeemable, inevitable bad behavior. When the press equates an act of extreme corruption with Joe Citizen claiming a few deductions he’s not entitled to — that puts a smile on a cynic’s face.

“See?” he’ll say, smiling, “Both sides do it!”

Take this to the bank, American news media: both sides DON’T do it and never have. You need to expunge “Both Sides Do It” from your way of thinking — from your brains entirely. That’s not a helpful suggestion, that’s a demand. Going forward, America needs “moral journalism”. I don’t mean phony “moralistic” journalism puked out by phony journalists who place themselves above the fray (though both sides “do it”, they apparently don’t), I mean journalists who bring perspective to work every day.

This is not an impossibility. MSNBC has multiple journalists hosting multiple shows that DON’T “Both Sides Do It” — Ali Velshi (an awesome journalist), Nicolle Wallace (fearless as hell!), Rachel Maddow (relentless and so articulate), Joy-Ann Reid (equally relentless). So, it IS possible for news networks to hire and keep journalists on their roster who DO bring perspective to work with them every day. But they also have Chuck Todd — the King of “Both Sides Do It”. They have other reporters like Stephanie Ruhl (who, though excellent when reporting on the financial world, gets lost in “Both Sides Do It” the instant she turns to reporting politics) — let’s call them “Both Sides Adjacent”. And they have Kelly O’Donnell — the QUEEN of “Both Sides Do It”.

“Both Sides Do It” refuses to take sides — even when there are no sides to take other than “pro-democracy” and “pro-athoritarianism” and the pro-authoritarian side accuses the news media of being fake. To accept that statement because you dare not get involved is to validate bullshit — even if that’s not the intent. THAT’S the biggest, baddest ripple effect rolling off of “Both Sides Do It’s” cynicism — the validation of bullshit.

Want to know why America felt so ripped apart at the end of the Trump years? Because we were facing the terrible consequences every day of being told the lie — that both sides would take us to this same, awful place.

Want to know why this morning feels so wonderful — on top of the change in leadership coming less than two weeks from now? Because we now look forward to breathing air that doesn’t stink of bullshit. That doesn’t stink of “both sides doing it”.

The News Media’s Failure Of Imagination Is Killing Our Democracy

We live in a news world where a big slice of the news audience is better informed about what’s happening than the news people reporting the news. Maybe that’s because, unlike the news media, those of us in the cheap seats — untouched by the whorish need for access — can see all the players for who and what they are rather than what they can do for our careers. You’d think a crisis like this would force every person calling themselves “a journalist” to set aside the old rules of engagement. You’d think a man relentlessly lying to their faces for four plus years would eventually cause some sort of dynamic response. Aside from scratching their heads harder and longer? Most journalists have learned exactly nothing from their experience with Donald Trump.

Eventually, we’ll understand why most of our news media couldn’t aggregate the Donald Trump story which would have had them reporting on Trump as a stone cold criminal even before he was sworn in — just like Fusion GPS sorta kinda did. Fusion, the commercial research/political intelligence firm founded by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, was hired in 2016 by the publishers of Jeb Bush-backing Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump. As Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 27, 2017, before beginning their formal work, Fusion did its due diligence: they got their hands on every piece of publicly available material they could on Donald Trump. They got and read magazine pieces, newspaper articles, they listened to radio interviews, watched TV shows and movie appearances. They spent a fortune on Amazon, visited actual book stores and even went to the public library to find what they needed. What Fusion found there — in publicly available material that ANY reporter could find (had they the motivation) — convinced them so completely that Donald Trump was a money laundering criminal in league with the Russian mob that they went and hired an English company called Orbis because its owner used to work for the British MI6 and had the best contacts bar none inside Russia.

Fusion demonstrated imagination — and did something about it. So did Christ Steele. When HE looked inside Russia to answer Fusion’s questions, he was deeply troubled by the answers coming back. He was even more troubled when the American government failed to heed his red flag warning that Russian intelligence was coming at us, cyber war style and we were doing nothing to stop them.

Because HE had imagination — and could extrapolate not only what Russia was doing but what our non-response to it was doing consequently — Chris Steele did everything in his power to put his work product (raw intelligence!) into the right American hands that could process it correctly and react accordingly and do it now.

Failure of imagination has haunted the American press especially where the threat of right wing terrorism is concerned. How easily do American journalists prick up their ears every time a Republican shouts “socialism” compared to when a Republican behaves like an authoritarian shit? They’ll jump right into a discussion about single payer universal health care with “But, isn’t that socialism?” but never even think to question Republicans and the legality and morality of their actively engaging in voter suppression. That, too, is failure of imagination.

When our news media failed to remind its news audience every day of the 2020 campaign that, for the first time in American history, a president was running for re-election having been IMPEACHED for CHEATING in the very same election in which he was running, that was a failure of imagination. When they relentlessly wondered aloud why Trump so relentless sucked up to Vlad Putin — their inability to answer their own question was a failure of imagination. That the news media even now can say that what Trump is doing is treasonous — and yet still ask aloud “Will he run again in 2024” is proof that they are utterly incapable of imagining a functional and functioning Department of Justice.

You’d think the possibility of making one’s bones on the greatest story anyone will ever get to cover would inspire more journalists to journalistic greatness. But to see oneself winning a Peabody or a Pulitzer takes incredible imagination (if one really has a shot at one).

No wonder achieving that kind of journalistic greatness can only ever be a dream for them — requiring imagination. Some circles are just plain vicious.

Maybe Our News Media Shouldn’t Take Its Audience — US — For Granted…

Of all the things Team Biden must accomplish pronto on January 20, 2021, atop the list must be setting the Department Of Justice back onto a course of justice and away from its role as a mob boss POTUS’ consigliere. Had our news media not normalized a thousand terrible Trumpian behaviors as “different” rather than “objectionable” or “illegal”, we might not be facing a Constitutional crisis on January 6. Too much of our news media still aspires to be the next Judith Miller — the New York Times’ access whore who sold her sole out so that Dick Cheney might whisper lies into her ear. Even more take it on faith alone that “both sides do it” and will willingly tie themselves in knots to avoid asking white conservatives the same impertinent questions they automatically burp at progressives.

Our news media assumes we’re as stupid, vacuous and intellectually incurious as they are. Boy, are they wrong. The rise of citizen journalism has saved professional journalism from itself. Now, let’s understand — as it destroyed every other business it touched, the internet is destroying the business model for journalism. Has destroyed it already, in fact. The pandemic then came along and demonstrated how anyone with a Zoom account is now just as much a TV talking head as the most experienced TV talking head.

Hell, in my other incarnation — as The Faitheism Project — I do a podcast every week now just like every other podcaster out there. I may not be much competition right now for the big players, but we’re still competing nonetheless. The internet levels all playing fields — for better and worse. The news audience — and I consider myself just another piece of it — is far more sophisticated and savvy than it was in the days when all we had was ABC, CBS and NBC. We sit down in front of our monitors or TV sets more conversant in the visual medium, it turns out, than the people we’re watching and listening to.

TV news media truly don’t understand the language of the medium they’re working in. Example — back when it was still kosher to put climate deniers on the air, the TV news networks would, as a matter of course, put climate scientist and climate denier into a “50-50” shot that splits the screen right down the middle. That’s great. It appears incredibly fair. And it IS being fair — to bullshit. It’s being incredibly unfair to the Truth however.

The problem is the climate scientist has mountains of hard data to back up what he’s saying. The climate denier has stuff he pulled (almost literally) from his ass. They are NOT the same thing. Yet there they both are, being presented in what’s called a “50-50” shot. Fifty percent of the screen to science and fifty percent of the screen to bullshit. See the problem? A truer, more accurate representation would give more like 99% of the screen to the climate scientist and maybe one percent to the climate denier. And the climate denier would be somewhere in the corner of a frame, virtually impossible to see.

A lot of us live in a constant state of war with the press — not on the press itself but on its utter failure of imagination and it’s stone cold refusal to see or acknowledge that failure of imagination. In fact, most of the press does not see itself as culpable in any way. They arrogantly hold themselves “above the fray”, never taking sides even when taking sides is demanded. One only worries about being seen to take sides if one hasn’t the courage of one’s convictions (or, more likely, no convictions to begin with).

I’m not alone in watching cable TV news not so much for the news as for the constant assurance that we’re just as screwed up today as we were yesterday — maybe a bit more screwed up in fact. Donald Trump has turned most of America into the world of Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”. That’s not a good thing. Logic is that world’s kryptonite. If America’s journalists weren’t trying to convince themselves that Democrats and Republicans are all really the same person (which we absolutely are NOT!), they’d be banging away at some other story already.

America’s J-schools all need to take a break from producing journalists. They need to sit back and truly see what they’ve done to the rest of us: a party that feels compelled to explain everything and a party compelled to explain nothing. After a certain point, the trains will become physically incapable of being on time.

A few years back, the 21st Century Fox board of directors chose to end their relationship with Bill O’Reilly at a time when O’Reilly was their biggest draw, their cowiest cash cow. And yet — the 21st Century board of directors understood and agreed that O’Reilly had zero future at Fox News. The reason? Fox News’ advertisers were signaling from afar. The big advertisers were the first to grasp that, as women were more and more becoming the buying-decision decision makers in American households, it no longer behooved the big advertisers to ignore them. If America’s women — out of disgust — were likely to vote with their pocketbooks, then how and why they voted was going to become vitally important.

Fox News cannot survive without big companies advertising on it. Money drives every decision they make. Never mind what anyone on Fox ever says. Watch what they do. Their actions speak every dirty secret their words refuse to betray.

Republicans Have Crossed A Line From Beyond Which There IS No Return

That headline is wrong. The Republican Party has crossed MULTIPLE lines from beyond which there IS NO RETURN. The moment the RW money decided to make permanent minority rule its mission — that was a line of no return. The moment Moscow Mitch McConnell stated out loud that denying Barack Obama (the president a MAJORITY OF AMERICANS voted for) his judicial choices was his proudest accomplishment — that was a line of no return. The moment current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a GOP leadership meeting a month before the 2016 GOP convention and said “I think there’s two people Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” and no one thought to get the FBI on the phone — that, when then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan said “let’s keep it in the family”, was a line of no return.

Hell, when Donald Trump said — out loud — that “Mexicans are rapists”. THAT should have been a line of no return — literally and figuratively.

How many affronts to our body politic and our physical bodies do we have to endure before something akin to a survival instinct kicks in? If only one Republican stood with Donald Trump, defiantly denying the election’s results, that would be bad enough. With very few exceptions (and I’m not entirely sure about Mitt Romney), every single Republican member of Congress would go right along with Donald Trump’s attempted coup d’etat if they thought Trump might could possibly get away with it. That’s the Republicans’ constant tell — they do everything based on what’s in it for them and never what’s best for the people they’re supposed to be publicly serving.

Here’s a line they’ve crossed: by denying the validity of this election — which some of them WON in — because Trump lost, they’ve made any future participation in ANY election completely dubious. Why take part in an electoral process you think is bullshit? Or is it only bullshit if you lose? Hmmmmmmm… now, why does that smell funny?

What the dishonorable “gentleman” from Missouri — Josh Hawley — is doing? It’s horse shit wrapped in bullshit wrapped in sedition.

Are we to accept as “normal” that we can never know for certain whether the Republican candidate in an election will accept his defeat? Speaking personally here — HELL, NO! If I own a shop and you walk in and regularly steal from me, I’m going to stop you from “shopping” in my store because you keep proving yourself a thief. The Republicans have just demonstrated — are still demonstrating — that openly stealing elections is not something they feel ashamed about. When — after January 20, 2021 we have a functioning Department of Justice — we begin to shine some light on everything Trump, we will learn — take it to the bank — that without Russia’s direct involvement, Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS. Foreign countries — especially hostile ones conducting CYBER WARS against us — cannot win American elections.

Treason cannot win American elections. And, TREASON is yet another line pretty much every single Republican — Mitt Romney included — has committed. Sorry, Mittens, but “See something, say something” — that’s how conspiracy works. “See something, say nothing” — as you’ve done? You don’t actually have to “know” something to be considered part of a conspiracy. You only have to suspect your confederates are up to something in order to be liable — should you do nothing. Has Mitt called the FBI to tell them what he suspects? No? WHY?

That’s how the spider web of conspiracy will ensnare almost the entire GOP before the investigations are finished. We’re talking TREASON here — which still carries the death penalty — THANKS TO DONALD TRUMP! I bet he had hoped to use it on all his political enemies — more than half of America in other words. Oh, the delicious irony when Trump’s own bloodlust comes to haunt him personally.

As my old pal the Crypt Keeper used to say, “Be careful what you wish for, kiddies, you may just get it!”

The Republican Party’s behavior here whether by intention or not would set a precedent. They’d never have to lose another election. They’d simply contest the result endlessly, making governing nearly impossible. They’d always have “holding their breath till we all turn blue” in their pocket.

How can Republicans — having revealed the authoritarian pricks at their core — ever campaign as anything else? They have forever BRANDED themselves as corrupt, seditionist TRAITORS. Or do some Republicans plan to run in the future as “old fashioned” Republican who only fantasize about undermining the republic — they’d never, ever actually do it? Anyone putting that “R” next to their name — or seeing common purpose with people who do — is “co-branding” with everything the Republican Party has done and is doing — up to and including TREASON.

If our press could aggregate this story — growing their foundation of knowledge about Donald Trump and the Republicans as new, evidence-based information came in — they’d have stopped asking WHY the Republicans have followed Trump down this terrible, terrible road. They’d know already. They’d have reported it so that WE’D know. The entire Republican Party — to a man (and woman) — has betrayed the America the rest of us live in and aspire to.

How does a party guilty of such total betrayal “run” in an election? At some point, should they win, they’ll have to SWEAR AN OATH to uphold the rules we all agree we’re living under; how shall we take oaths sworn by people who’ve sworn not to stand by their oaths? That’s the question our news media asks us every time they even talk about elections in 2022 or 2024 — when they suggest Republicans would be the ones running against Democrats. How will America choose — between patriots or traitors — in the next election?

The only reason we still have to listen to anything any Republican has to say is because our news media is convinced both sides do what the Republicans are doing. That’s what they apparently think — whatever terrible, corrupt, treasonous thing the Republicans are up to? The Democrats are doing the exact same thing — we just can’t see it yet.

“Both sides do it” robs itself of perspective then smugly asserts that it can see inside everyone’s head though the only heads such “journalists” ever gaze into is their own. They are projecting their own moral ambiguity onto everyone else. That ain’t journalism, it’s cowardice.

The GOP has already poisoned itself. Its death throes will stretch out across 2021 and probably 2022. There’s a lot of terrible behavior to investigate. On the bright side, we’ll be clearing the prisons of drug “criminals” (their records wiped clean) and making space for (checks notes) pretty much the entire Republican Party.

The next line these craven Republicans come to, they better NOT cross. Their toes better be on it as they become (prison) wards of the state.

Of Bond Villains And Presidents

Some of us used to joke how much Donald Trump was like having a Bond Villain as president. Been a while since that was funny. That’s the problem with irony: it can cut like a knife. One of the reasons our news media cannot wrap its head around Trump — to this very day — is because they lack the imagination to “see” Trump. Because they’ve convinced themselves that “both sides do it”, they’ve already got it in their heads that if Trump hadn’t done it first, some Democrat would have done it anyway. So, whatever Trump is doing — it’s not “corrupt”, it’s not a “crime”, it’s not even “treason”. It’s “the new new normal” because this (apparently) is what “both sides do”.

No, it is not.

Ronald Reagan was the first “movie star president”, but he wasn’t the first POTUS to use “movie star thinking” to win a presidency. Jacqueline Kennedy may have associated JFK’s 1,000 days as POTUS with “Camelot” after he was assassinated, but the idea stuck: a story about our present fit snugly with a story about a mythological past that never was. The Kennedy White House had all the same sparkle as Hollywood. Why, Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe even famously sang “Happy Birthday” to him. Americans like that. A lot. We especially like it when you do things positive with that star power. Or convince us that you are even if you’re not.

Back to Reagan. He understood the seductive qualities of smoke plus mirror. Stories can be as real as reality if you want them to be. Style over substance is not a new idea. Trickle down economics, coming from Reagan, was like the last little bit of a movie star’s gold-plated essence seeping into ordinary Americans’ grey, humdrum lives. It doesn’t seem like Reagan was anywhere near as cynical as the rest of his party. He may really have seen America as some “shining city on a hill”. Problem was (and remains) — the shining city in Reagan’s mind was all painted on a backdrop.

Ronald Reagan wasn’t the first person to get confused by Hollywood into thinking his version of America was “America”. In the terrific “An Empire Of Their Own: How The Jews Invented Hollywood”, Neal Gabler theorizes that our whole notion of “America” is, in large part, a fiction invented by Jewish movie studio owners (with plenty of Jewish writers and directors, actors and other technicians assisting) to, in essence, give them something into which to synthesize. Having spent almost two thousand years as “outsiders”, Jews suddenly had a chance, Gabler thinks (and, personally, I like his thinking), to invent a world that might more willingly accept them.

Having spent a career in the “making shit up” business, I’m keenly aware of the media’s power to invent not just worlds that don’t exist but ideas that, without the smoke and mirrors, couldn’t hold water. Time travel, for instance. A lot of “why” people think it’s possible is because stories have said it is. Those stories weren’t based on any sort of physics. They were based on “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…!”.

Trump is even more of an invention than Reagan was. Trump’s dad — Fred — knew his son was a “lox” as a negotiator. And anyway, making deals you never intend to honor is not actually “negotiating”. If Mark Burnett never imagined “The Apprentice” then none of Vladimir Putin’s investment in Trump would ever have paid off. But, Putin understands how propaganda works. He knows how to use it: destroy our common idea of “reality” then use the ensuing chaos to invent a “new reality”. Like, say, one where Donald Trump isn’t corrupt or a traitor.

Bond villains aren’t supposed to make you think. Even if they have some theoretically correct point of view — humans need to be stopped from destroying the planet — Bond Villains always go about it too heavy-handedly. I always wonder as I watch Bond movies, who’s cash flowing this guy? Who’s paying for the high tech set up and the gadgets and the rocketry and the people! Think of the payroll a guy like Blofeld has to maintain. Some of those people are super qualified, too. They don’t come cheaply. And is there any sort of profit-sharing involved? What kind of benefits does a Blofeld offer people he hopes will willing break the law with and for him? How do people who work for Blofeld report their income?

I know — it’s stupid to worry about things like this — he’s just a Bond Villain FFS! But then, I’m a John Le Carre fan, not an Ian Fleming fan. Oh, sure — in my youth, Bond was great fun (but then, Sean Connery was the Bond of my youth and movies like “From Russia With Love” remain the canon’s gold standard because they keep Bond’s world more real than surreal. I wonder if “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” suffered from an emotional Bond at the ending (he openly cries when his lover is shot dead — by Blofeld) or a more or less lackluster Bond (George Lazenby) trying to fill in for the recently departed-from-the-franchise Connery.

Le Carre (one of 2020’s cruel losses) based his Circus on the very real British spy agency he worked for. His spies weren’t about adventure or busting super villains, they were about betrayal — personal and tribal. The (usually) unspoken mantra underlying most of Le Carre’s work: “Love is the thing you can still betray”.

Though personally incapable of love, Donald Trump is much more a Le Carre villain than a Bond Villain. Trump’s villainy is pure betrayal. Not of love, but of everything else — everything everyone else loves. We know who his backers are. Even his political party knows who Trump’s backers are — the backers who aren’t them, I mean. The backer who holds them all in their thrall. The backer who’s been running this show since Trump was declared the “winner” in 2016: Russia.

No writer sitting down to write this, what we’ve been living, as a Bond movie could get away with it. It’s relentlessly over the top for starters. Who the hell acts like this — outside of a Bond movie — and not one of the good ones? Turns out, Donald Trump does. His whole party does.

In the Bond movies, the villain either dies spectacularly or gets away to fight another day. Soon enough, another cash flowed Super Villain will step up to fill the vacuum (having apparently fooled his investors into believing he could do what all the other supervillains couldn’t — deliver a return on their investment). We never get to see actual justice delivered — the kind that would flow from We The People. Bond movies don’t seem to exist inside the same democracy we do. Or did…

That’s what’s on our plate: how do we deal with the Bond Villain in front of us? He may not be a very good Bond Villain, but he’s ours. In fact, Trump’s such a crap Bond Villain that he doesn’t even qualify. He’s more a small screen TV villain punching above his weight — getting away with it — but only until now.

Come January 20, 2021, we will begin to write Trump the ending he deserves. We will challenge every single pardon he’s issued because we must. Trump’s whole presidency is based on treason — take Putin out of the 2016 equation and Trump never gets through the primaries. Just like traitors can’t legally become president, whatever they do WHILE president — that also doesn’t count as “legal”. How could it?

By obstructing justice, Trump and the GOP have tried to keep the rest of America from learning what the REAL story of the last four plus years has been. That obstruction is about to hit a wall. A rejuvenated Department of Justice dedicated to Justice (rather than to being a mob boss president’s consigliere), asking hard questions under oath — restarting every investigation Bill Barr or Rod Rosenstein stopped (especially the counter-intelligence investigations into Trump’s relationships with Russia) — will change the landscape significantly — just by asking hard questions under oath.

Anyway — Trump was never the real Bond Villain at the heart of this story that Mitch McConnell. Mitch after all is the link to the answer to my questions — who pays for these Bond Villains and all their toys? Turns out? Our villains are so bad — and so real? They put Bond villains to shame.

There Can Be No “Forgive And Forget” Until The Entire GOP Owns What They’ve Done

Dear American News Media: I sure hope you’ve noticed that BOTH SIDES are not trying to completely destroy our entire democratic system of government for entirely corrupt reasons. That kinda makes a difference when asking the Democrats to “forgive and forget” what the Republican Party has been doing on the downlow and is now doing out in the open. The Republicans don’t think there’s anything to “forgive” (though they sure wish we’d forget about it!). That’s because they’re CRIMINALS doing criminal things. Until they 1) STOP behaving like criminals, 2) ADMIT that they’ve been behaving like criminals, 3) agree they need to be PUNISHED for behaving like criminals and 4) are willing to ACCEPT that punishment for BEING CRIMINALS, then it makes zero sense to “forgive and forget”. It only makes sense to prosecute them. BECAUSE THEY’RE CRIMINALS.

We are not dealing with any sort of “level playing field” here. Donald Trump — and the white men around him — are accorded a completely different set of rules than anyone else. They start by skirting The Law’s letters while rampantly violating its spirit. Then, once they’ve normalized violating The Law’s spirit, they make THAT “the law” itself — their violation of it. Abracadabra! Criminal behavior is now legal behavior. Virtually the entire Republican Party is now openly behaving like a criminal enterprise. They know THAT’S not entirely legal yet — but that’s the endgame they’re now pursuing: fully replacing OUR democracy with THEIR criminal enterprise.

The stone cold truth is, the Republicans can no longer stop behaving like criminals. They’ve crossed some sort of “criminal Rubicon”. The best they can hope for is a better class of prison cell should We The People manage to shut down “this thing of theirs”. And, rest assured, WE ARE GOING TO.

Journalist, attorney and journalism professor Seth Abramson posted a terrific thread on Twitter last night on the subject of “forgiveness” — well, “forgiveness” via pardons which, in the Trumpian universe is simply more, bigger corruption —

America has every right to be worried that Donald Trump — a two bit criminal punching waaaaaaay above his class — will get away with it (along with every one of his criminal co-conspirators). Should that happen — should these traitors “get away” with betraying the country, it would, in effect, be THE END of our country. A country that refuses to defend itself from an attack — we are most assuredly under attack — can’t really claim to be “a country” anymore. It’s already split up into its more localized, tribalized parts. I, for one, refuse to live in that country. Except, I’m not moving out. I expect THE TRAITORS to move out.

I intend to do whatever I can do to make that happen.

The way our news media reports it, you’d think we were stuck here. Doomed to be politically Chernobyl’d to death first because a Department of Justice rule wouldn’t let us indict a criminal because he was POTUS and then because we couldn’t figure out how to outmaneuver a criminal pardoning himself.

As usual, very few in America’s news media ever bring perspective with them to work — and, considering as they’re reporting FROM HOME, it must mean they have no perspective there either. They’re always Chicken Little, running around headless.

The answer to our problem lies right there in Mr. Abrahamson’s first sentence: “The Pardon Clause prohibits using the pardon power to obstruct impeachments“. Hey, isn’t that EXACTLY what Donald Trump is doing — HAS BEEN DOING all along? Obstructing justice? Obstructing his own impeachment? Since literally everything Trump’s doing flows from that criminal wellspring, why are we even having a conversation about whether or not what Trump is doing has “legitimacy”?

We’re having the wrong conversation again!

“Forgiveness” is a grace. It is not for criminals to take — like they take everything else — it is ours to grant SHOULD WE CHOOSE TO GRANT IT.

But, we owe it to ourselves (we owe those traitors nada) to allow for the possibility of forgiveness so as to fast track the forgiveness process. As I said above, we lay out a simple, step-by-step for each Republican to follow. But, to get to the forgiveness they need (so as to NOT destroy their families for generations to come), first they’re all going to have to accomplish step one: CONTRITION.

Mea culpa.

In their cases, they all need to plead “mea MAXIMUM culpa”. If they can’t muster that, we can’t even think of mustering a scintilla of mercy.

Let the chips — and the punishment — fall where they will. Or, as my college kid puts it: “caveat emptor, bitches!”

Can We Please Agree: “If” Donald Trump Committed Treason, His Whole Presidency Is Treasonous

Trust me here: one plus one equals two. It just does. Donald Trump behaves the way he does (and has) toward Vladimir Putin because Donald Trump is a traitor. If we took Putin out of the equation entirely, not only would Trump not be POTUS, he would never have run for president in the first place. It’s not new news that Trump is corrupt — and corrupted by Russia (among others). Why, the Republican Party itself KNEW IT for a fact even before their 2016 convention. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said it OUT LOUD for a roomful of the GOP hierarchy to hear: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrbacher and Trump”.

How did then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan respond? Per the Washington Post: “Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.” When told that Russia had likely compromised their presidential candidate, the GOP leadership didn’t call the FBI, they ran for their bunker. Mark this — even before he won his own party’s nomination, Trump was allied with a foreign government actively engaged in a CYBER WAR against us. Trump doesn’t have to know anything inside Putin’s head to be guilty of committing treason. Useful idiots are just as treasonous as useless ones.

Our news media — always light years behind this story — still wonders aloud why Trump is so chummy with Putin. If they scratched their heads any harder while pondering that question, they’d create permanent divots in their noggins. Repeat: one plus one equals two. Trump is chummy with Putin because Putin owns him. Nothing Trump has done before or during his presidency would contradict that. Trump’s treachery is the biggest open secret in the whole history of secrets.

His treachery is the reason he’ll fight to the bitter end to hold onto power — as if it was his to “hold onto”. That’s Trump’s big mistake. It’s the Republican Party’s big mistake, too. They’ve forgotten, authoritarian shitheads that they are, that power in our democracy flows from us, We The People. We may not be good at asserting ourselves until forced to but once we do, our intentions are almost always clear. We just asserted how much we want Trump fired. We weren’t kidding.

“Both Sides Do It” brand journalism refuses to take sides — because “both sides do it”. By assigning any one argument a 50-50 chance at being right, they assume that any two arguments being made are literal equals. Both sides have their “point of view”. That may be, but having a point of view doesn’t mean you have a point. They’re not the same thing. The guy who just stole your car may have a reason (he needed money), but so what? The bottom line is HE STOLE YOUR CAR. He can never be its rightful owner no matter how much he drives around in it.

“Both Sides Do It” journalism disagrees. It concludes it’s his car if he says it is. Who are they, the news media — or us, the car thief’s victim — to tell him otherwise?

Just as a car thief can never be your car’s rightful owner, “if” Donald Trump committed a crime — ANY CRIME — in order to become POTUS, the act of committing that crime VOIDED his presidential bid. You cannot commit a crime in order to become president. Likewise — you cannot CHEAT to become POTUS. Correction — you can certainly cheat (people have!) to become president. But, if we catch you at it, that cheating negates your success. Cheating to win does not and can NEVER equal NOT cheating to win. Otherwise, why wouldn’t everyone cheat to win? If the other guy’s cheating to win — taking a big steaming dump on the rules in the process, you’d be an idiot to stick to the rules. He’s not.

Why do we insist on letting the cheater always have an unfair advantage?

Trump has projected his illegitimacy from day one. Why, oh why, are we so dead set on not listening to him? The reason Trump can never stop being POTUS is because the instant the title ceases to be his, the indictments and subpoenas will drop on him like nuclear fallout. Same goes for every single Republican who, though knowing or suspecting what Trump (and the other Republicans) were up to, remained silent. That racist “good ol’ boy” complicity doesn’t play here anymore.

There will be a day of reckoning when we face the stone cold truth: Donald Trump was never the legitimate president. He never had the AUTHORITY that flows from LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY. Just because Trump STOLE that authority and MIS-USED IT to, say, nominate judges — it doesn’t mean he ever actually HAD the authority to do that. Trust me on this — if you or I enter a contest, cheat to win and then get found out? Whatever we won in the competition? We’re not getting to keep it — and rightfully so: IT WAS NEVER OURS.

The same goes for every judge Trump nominated. If he never had the rightful authority, then none of those nominations can stand. Each and every one of them is an affront to American democracy. They fly in the face of the rule of law and the Constitution. Why should we — who follow the Constitution — be bound by those hell bent on destroying the Constitution? Why should (or would) Democrats go forward — attempting to govern — with Republicans who’ve questioned the whole system’s integrity — because they want to destroy it and replace it with permanent minority rule?

It would be stupid beyond words to tell ourselves we’re bound by what criminals did. No, we’re not. The correct response to a child throwing a tantrum isn’t to get down on the floor and tantrum alongside them. You don’t parent by acting like the child and you don’t ever chase a rabbit down its hole.

The correct answer to “But, Trump says…!” is “So what?” He’s a liar. He needs to bring receipts to the table from now on. Otherwise, we’ll assume he’s lying. And why would anyone with two brain cells listen anything a liar says? See how that framing works?

That’s the simple trick our news media needs to teach itself. Of course, if you think truth and bullshit are the same thing (because both sides do it), you’ll never frame anything the right way. The fact is, We The People will not permit Trump or the Republican Party to get away with betraying us.

Whether or not we hold the news media accountable — that’s a whole other question.

Can America Ever Forgive The Republican Party For What It’s Done?

I’m all for kissing and making up. But, kissing and making up for the sake of kissing and making up usually ends badly. The compromises made just to get along aren’t genuine or satisfying. They were entirely situation and now that the situation’s changed? Up until now, America — well, the Democrats — have been relentlessly pressured to forgive the Republicans their trespasses. That’s pressured by the news media — who, the “both sides do it” kool-aid pumping through them, only ever want progressives to kowtow before conservatives and never the other way around. Even now — with Republicans revealing themselves as outright SEDITIONISTS, no reporter has (to my knowledge) stuck a mic in a Republican’s face and demanded “But aren’t you afraid of what Democrats will think of you?”

For some reason, what Republicans think matters more than what anyone else thinks — even though what Republicans “think” is authoritarian, anti-Democratic and corrupt.

As usual, the news media is miles behind the story curve. Hell, most of our news media hasn’t figured out how to aggregate a story so that the story they’re reporting reflects the most up-to-date understanding of what WE KNOW NOW instead of what little THEY knew when they started reporting the story. Too much of our news media (looking at YOU, MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle!) asks “Yeah, but what if…?” questions (“Yeah, but what if there’s nothing wrong with authoritarianism?”) that give credence to bullshit. “Yeah, but what if…?” is the modern version of “When did you stop beating your wife?” The only way to answer is to ask the questioner what’s in THEIR head. Why are THEY so determined to run down a rabbit hole?

If our news media could just connect a few of the visible dots — impeached POTUS with a strange connection to Russia and myriad instances of secretive behavior with Vladimir Putin and Russia launching a massive cyber attack against us as Trump’s presidency draws to a close while Trump and the Republicans REFUSE to acknowledge that Trump lost in a landslide — maybe, just maybe, they’d stop asking themselves WHY the Republicans STILL refuse to abandon Trump and Trumpism. What, they wonder, is Trump’s Svengali-like hold on these people?

It ain’t cowardice. It’s kind of the opposite — a boldness. These people are behaving TREASONOUSLY. They’re behaving like criminals and co-conspirators determined to stop any and all investigations into what happened to get us here. What they’re doing — trying to deny We The People our voice and choice — is sedition. It’s a deliberate attempt to destroy not only the greatest experiment ever in human self-government but those of us who want to continue that experiment and improve upon it.

We stand at a literal crossroads. We will go one way or the other. There can be no compromise between democracy and authoritarianism. We chose democracy. So, the question is: what do we do about the authoritarians in our midst? Do we kiss and make up with them?

Ask a hard question. That one’s easy: NO! No, no, no, no, N O ! It simply is not possible. You can compromise with evil all you like. Evil will never compromise with YOU. Likewise, you cannot “forgive” evil. Evil never thinks it’s done anything that needs forgiveness. It thinks you’re an idiot for thinking that way. Having no integrity, evil will happily tell you whatever you want to hear — just so you’ll compromise with it. How “Mitch McConnell” does THAT sound?

Which of these corrupt, treasonous faces, I wonder, does our news media want Democrats to look into and say “I forgive you!”

Mitch’s?

Bill Barr’s?

Mike Pence’s?

Matt Gaetz’s?

Jim Jordan’s?

Devin Nunes’?

Ron Johnson’s?

Stephen Miller’s?

Donald Trump’s?

Okay — I’ll keep an open mind for two seconds. Is there ANY way I’d forgive ANY of these corrupt, racist, treasonous rat bastards? Maybe. But, first, they’d have to show significant contrition.

Not “kiss and make up” contrition, REAL contrition; real “come-to-Jesus”, “Do unto others” brand, mea culpa contrition where the “contritionist” literally throws themselves at our feet, begging for the mercy they KNOW they do not deserve. They have to be THINKING the song “Amazing Grace” because they ARE the “wretch” once lost, now found, once blind, now able to see.

But, alas, they won’t. That’s one of the most prominent features of these criminals: THEY’RE CRIMINALS. By choice. And, if you don’t know what happens when you give criminals a “pass” — because you’ve forgotten or forgiven what they’ve done — allow me to welcome you into the ranks of America’s journalists.

You’re now ready for your close up.