At some point, unless you’ve removed every reflective surface from your house, you WILL have to see your own face reflected back at you. I don’t know about the rest of you (cos none of us will EVER be in a bathroom ALONE with anyone else) but when I look at myself in the mirror, I look right into my own eyes.
In those moments, I bore in on “me”.
I see those moments as me getting to talk to ME. It’s me having a chance — if I choose to take it — to speak directly to myself — to that box of thoughts and traits and wild imaginings that I think of as “me”.
Now, let’s be clear — we all lie to ourselves. Mostly we tell small lives to us about us. Mostly it’s because we want to be “better” than we are: better friends, better spouses, better parents, better at our jobs, better at spelling, better at sex, better at getting what we need (vs what we think we want). Telling ourselves little lies is a survival skill.
Except we know we’re lying to ourselves even as we do it. Because it’s us doing it. To us.
We know what we know. We know when we’re bullshitting ourselves about it, too. Except… we are capable of keeping secrets from ourselves. Hell — I “kept one” from myself for 45 years (that I was sexually molested twice when I was 14 by the spiritual director at my family’s synagogue). I knew it happened. It rippled through my life every day; hell, it was the reason I tried to kill myself. That secret.
A part of me always knew it was there, waiting to be dealt with one way or another.
I make it a point now — my mental health depends on it — to be as honest as I can with myself. Lying has proved it’s no good for me. Honesty with myself to myself is where good mental health lives. That’s what makes watching Republicans lie so compelling to me.
Donald Trump is a text book sociopath. He has no conscience to speak of. He’s not capable of being honest with himself; lying — even to himself — is how he rolls. That doesn’t excuse the lies for two seconds. Most Republicans are quite capable of discerning truth from bullshit; they’re NOT sociopaths. The only good explanation for how Republicans behave these days is “guilt”. Knowledge of guilt.
Bill Barr may be a hard core Christian shill but he’s not an ignoramus. He KNOWS empirically that the bullshit he spewed the other day to the Federalist Society (like the bullshit he spewed at Notre Dame a few weeks before that) is rubbish on steroids. When you say things that are demonstrably untrue, it’s not because you believe the opposite is true; you NEED the opposite to be true because you’re a goddamned liar, a thief or a criminal.
My bet is most Republicans don’t see anyone staring back at them. They see a physical body. They see a face. They even see eyes. But there’s nothing behind the eyes — except fear maybe.
We know damned well they’ll never see an honest person staring back.
Barr has a history of stepping in and deflecting justice. He did it most recently by hijacking both the end of Robert Mueller’s investigation and Mueller’s written report. Barr’s gross mischaracterizations of the Report’s conclusions weren’t semantics or “differences of interpretation”. They were a blatant attempt to convince the American public (via its terrible at details news media) that Mueller’s work exonerated Trump — that it cleared him of “collusion” and came to no conclusions about obstructive behaviors.
That is NOT what Mueller’s report says. It says they couldn’t come to any conclusions about whether or not Trump conspired with Russia (via Wikileaks — Mueller’s purview wasn’t the entirety of Trump-Russia, it was a narrow, narrow slice) because they were met with so much OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. To back up THAT assessment, the Report listed (with receipts) 10 specific obstructive acts.
Barr’s history of bamboozlement goes back to the Bush Administration (Junior’s). Bill Barr circumvented justice during Iran-Contra — insisting THEN that Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger was being treated unfairly by the people accusing him of being a corrupt criminal undermining the Rule Of Law.
Bill Barr’s never behaved this way on the behalf of a Democratic POTUS. I guess all that Unitary Executive Power actually works when the POTUS is Republican. I find it hard to believe that Bill Barr’s dick would get this hard on behalf of Barack Obama’s executive power.
Bill Barr calls himself a Christian. He ain’t no follower of Jesus — that’s for damned sure. Bill Barr wouldn’t know Jesus if he stopped mid-way through nailing Jesus to a cross to spit in Jesus’s eye. Bill Barr is a “churchist”. Bill loves the INSTITUTION that Paul created. Being a die-hard Catholic, Bill loves his church above all else.
Funny thing? Jesus preached AGAINST having churches. He taught that no one needed temples or priests; one could speak directly to “the father”. In other words — a follower of Jesus does not need a church. They don’t want one — because churches are antithetical to Jesus’s most core teaching.
In theory, Bill Barr should love Jesus because Jesus would tell Bill — “Hey, Bill — talk to God, why don’tcha!” But that’s not where Bill’s head is at. He’s still riled up about something. Just talking directly to his deity doesn’t satisfy him. He’s still yapping. Someone’s telling him — “Not good enough, Bill! Go further!”
Now, Bill would say “It was God telling me that”. But, as we know, Bill picks & chooses his articles of faith ever so carefully. He supports and follows and does the bidding of people Jesus would absolutely disprove of. And if Jesus doesn’t like them — what’s in it for God? Are God and Jesus not in agreement about something? Something basic?
No — it’s because the only voice in Bill Barr’s head is Bill’s. Bill doesn’t hear “God”, he hears BILL. Bill may say he “speaks for God” or “understands God” (better than YOU — that’s the suggestion. It’s remarkably arrogant. It’s remarkably arrogant for bullshit.
Bill Barr’s hardly alone in this freak show. Pick the name of any televangelist out of a hat and you have another extreme perversion of (never mind Jesus) Christianity’s most basic message — you have a money changer fooling the faithful. The way every one of these assholes struts — insists they speak for the Divine (and you don’t) — rakes in the cold, hard cash — it’s as far removed from Jesus as human decency or honesty is from a Trump.
What is a Catholic Pope except an attempt to create a “god” who hears God (better than you)? A pope becomes “infallible”. What does that even mean? Infallible in what sense? If we make him draw a perfect likeness of the guy standing next to him — and he fails — does that mean he’s NOT infallible or that we need to redefine “infallible” to include “this”?
It’s ludicrous. Worse — it’s bullshit. Anyone who says they speak on behalf of a deity thinks THEY are the deity.
Among the reported irregularities — 3,000 people were wrongly flagged by the state as being ineligible to vote prior to election day and, then, another 53,000 voters had their registrations delayed by Kemp’s office without adequately notifying the applicants. Can you guess how many of those 56,000 voters were either African-American or Democratic? How about pretty much ALL OF THEM.
The final tally gave Kemp the win by 54,723 votes. If (and we don’t know) every one of those suppressed, uncounted votes (and Kemp’s Georgia Department of State’s got some integrity issues) had been votes for Stacy Abrams… well, you see how that works? If Stacy Abrams had won by ONE VOTE, then she would be governor now and corrupt-to-his-toes Brian Kemp wouldn’t be.
One vote CAN make a difference and sometimes, ONE VOTE absolutely does. “Every Vote Counts” is not bullshit. It’s a verifiable fact. There’s data that says it’s a fact.
In a “Free And Fair Election”, every vote gets counted. No one would do anything EVER to dissuade another voter from voting. THAT would be seen as 1) anti-democratic and 2) anti-American. And yet… American elections are rife with one side (and it’s ONE SIDE ONLY — both don’t do it) doing everything in its power to dissuade, disincline and prevent the other side from using its right to vote.
When you screw with another American’s vote, you’re screwing with their rights. And when you screw with another American’s rights, YOU’RE BREAKING THE LAW. Not sort of breaking the law, BREAKING THE LAW.
Our slippery slide down the slope to corruption began the instant we first compromised The Rule Of Law. The moment we stopped practicing The Rule Of Law evenly across the board, we hurt it. We undermined its integrity — and once a thing’s integrity is gone, it’s just a matter of time before rot completely destroys it. We have two sets of rules. One for Rich White Guys and one for everyone else (assuming the everyone else is People Of Color).
But, what if Charles or David Koch (back from the dead) were to show up at THEIR polling place only to be told “Sorry, dude — your name’s not on the list”? Would either Koch Brother stand for such a thing? Of course they wouldn’t. They’d be on the phone to their high-priced lawyer before the polling place worker had finished their sentence. The law would be rewritten on the spot.
They’d vote and their vote would be counted. Probably two or three times even just because.
But, of course, in reality, such a thing could never, ever, EVER happen. The circumstances could never exist where a rich, white, Christian Koch Brother — reliably Republican — would have have HIS right to vote challenged or questioned or abridged or compromised or withheld in any way, shape or form.
And THAT is at the very heart of the problem. It’s the Koch’s manipulating everyone else’s vote, right to vote, ability to vote or means to vote either directly by their actions or indirectly through their money. Has one dollar of their money ever found its way into a voter suppression effort?
That’s one dollar too many. Same token — if just ONE VOTER is prevented from voting because of bullshit? That election can no longer claim to be “free and fair”.
There’s no “magic number” of acceptable suppressed votes. A suppressed vote is not an abstraction if the vote is yours. It’s a very real denial of your most fundamental right as a citizen. In the face of that denial, the question must be asked: WHY?
Why is MY right to vote being denied me?
Like I said — that’s a question Charlie Koch will never have to ask himself.
I suppose if you suddenly sprang into being right next to Donald Trump — so his essence, his aura, his version of the world was all that you knew — HIS version of the world might seem possible. But step outside the treasonous bubble of Trumpism — and a 2 X 4 of realism goes upside your head. The man’s lying even when he mutters “Hello”.
No one who isn’t already corrupted by Donald Trump thinks Trump’s view of the world, of events — of his own horrible family — reflects reality. Look at the “defense” the GOP’s “brain trust” banged together for the first day of formal, public impeachment hearings. There was no attempt whatsoever to argue the merits. There was no attempt to say “No, he didn’t do that” because everything’s been admitted to already.
If we approach the GOP’s behavior yesterday with a close up lens — as our Main Stream News Media likes to do — you get Trump’s defenders strategizing how to defend the indefensible. If you step back a few paces — using a slightly wider lens — you get get… well — if you COULD step back a few paces, you’d have done that a long, long time ago.
And if you had stepped back a few paces long before yesterday — if you had as much perspective as possible, say — you wouldn’t still be scratching your head wondering why Trump defends Putin the way he does and why the Republicans continue to defend Trump the way they do. Our MSM is YET to due their due diligence on Trump. They’ve never, most of them, done a top-to-bottom study of who Trump REALLY is so that when they report on him, they’re reporting on HIM and not some bullshit version of him. They’re not the same thing.
Back when the Republicans were doing everything they could to undermine the “integrity” of the Steele Dossier, they hauled Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, August 22, 2017. Fusion, Simpson testified, had first been hired by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website to do oppo research against Trump. Being pros, before they got going on the real assignment, they did their due diligence. They got their hands on piece of publicly available material on Donald Trump in existence. They combed Amazon and actual book stores. They got magazines and newspaper articles. They got tapes of radio shows and TV shows. They even went to the public library to find stuff.
What Fusion found while doing their due diligence — the scuttwork FFS — convinced them that Trump had been deeply involved with Russian mobsters for years. They saw clear indications that Trump had laundered untold millions of dollars of Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos (which kind of explained how/why they failed — and how/why that was the point). Simpson explained that, suspecting what these professional journalists now suspected, Fusion contacted Chris Steele, former head of MI6’s Russia desk, the Westerner with the best contacts inside Russia bar none.
Chris Steele then produced his “dossier” — the raw intelligence that he’d gathered.
Instead of telling any of THAT story, pretty much all of our MSM — not doing a lick of due diligence — slapped the word “unverified” on Steele’s work (losing all sight of WHY he was doing that work, answering WHAT question asked by WHOM). Imagine how much quicker we’d be to telling and understanding this story if all the “publicly available” perspective had been applied to the story from the beginning — the way Fusion GPS did…
Our media blocks itself from bringing perspective to any story because they start from the premise that “Both Sides Do It”. Regardless of what it is, bad or good, I suppose, “both sides do it”. Neither side has any particular reason — other than their tribal impulse toward one extreme or its diametric opposite. People do things “just because”. All information weighs exactly the same — because (in American journalistic parlance) “who’s to judge?” That’s why lies and empirical truth weigh the same in so much reporting. Too many American journalists think they’d be editorializing to assume the information they’re reporting is actually true.
If you report that Donald Trump is DEMONSTRABLY a racist one moment, he doesn’t stop being a racist the next when he claims NOT to be a racist.
Similarly, when Trump behaves like a traitor — when he does openly treasonous things (like betraying the Kurds where the Press could enumerate every single way Trump’s action served only one person: Putin) — he doesn’t stop being a traitor just because it’s time to report on election 2020. That’s why we’re now telling the Ukraine story, get it?
Trump thinks he’s gotten away with stealing election 2016 so why not finish gutting American Democracy by stealing election 2020 — and using IT to UNBLAME RUSSIA for stealing election 2016? If the American MSM had done its due diligence… ya see where I’m going?
Then — bad to worse — the MSM scratches its head wondering why the Republicans (in the face of so much horrible truth) continue to defend Trump when (look at yesterday) there’s literally NO DEFENSE — for actions that scream from the rooftops “WE’RE CRIMINAL!” Because they live in a “Both Sides Do It” universe where lies and truth weigh exactly the same, this clear evidence of obstruction of justice (rather than seeking justice — it’s not seeking Justice when, like Lindsey Graham, you refuse to look at evidence cos it’s all a “hoax”) gets reported like… like it’s NOT an actual criminal behavior.
Boom — just like that, a CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR gets normalized. Legitimized.
When you have no perspective and you allow yourself to “see the world” through the criminal’s eyes as if the criminal wasn’t a criminal, you get corrupted yourself. If you had an ounce of perspective, of course, you wouldn’t have gone there to begin with. You’d have known that criminals were trying to bamboozle you.
We are zooming toward a bunch of big, big reveals. When this goes to the Senate — whenever that happens — and the Senate refuses to convict on charges so simple and so clear, we will arrive at the place this battle needs to arrive at. Who are we as a country?
Are we the lawless, authoritarian 1850 hellhole of ignorance, racism & old tyme religion the Republicans want us to be? Or are we America?
Our news media insists (all evidence to the contrary) that the only difference between a Republican and a Democrat is the letter next to their name.
No, they’re not the same. Of course they’re not. Republicans, being conservatives, want to CONSERVE. Being as you can’t conserve the future, conservatives want to conserve the present but more exactly conservatives want to “conserve” the past. Just like their name says.
Progressives on the other hand want to (as THEIR name suggests) PROGRESS. Being as you can’t “progress” into the past — and you really can’t “progress into the present”, Progressives put their energies into getting as many people as possible to progress into the future — where we all belong.
So — both sides want diametrically different things. Whatever both sides might be doing, IT’S NOT THE SAME THING.
Come election time (if they could only put cheating aside), conservatives want to restrict voting as much as possible. The demographics are completely against them; the more that vote, the worse conservative chances are. That’s because the “glorious past” that conservatives dream of returning to is the 1850’s where everyone knew their place — men, women, white people and especially black people.
Democrats and Progressives, by contrast, want to bring as many Americans into the voting process as the possibly can. Why wouldn’t they? Democracy works best when it reflects as many voices as possible. Ever notice how Republican voter suppression efforts are never aimed at Republican voters? That’s not a coincidence.
By the same token, if the brown-skinned people fleeing Central American drug violence (that’s mostly our fault) were reliable Republican voters? They’d be limo’d across the border, handed a passport and be dropped off at the first employment office they came to. Complete with a credit card.
Both sides don’t lock children up in cages — and then justify it. Both sides don’t betray allies as easily as they breathe. Both sides don’t take money from the poor and middle class to give to the rich. Both sides aren’t actively trying to destroy our environment out of pure stupid greed. Both sides don’t seek to dismantle the whole federal government. Both sides don’t conspire with hostile foreign powers to circumvent the will of the American People.
Both sides do not commit treason to maintain political power.
Only ONE side does that — Republicans. It’s just how they’re wired.
It seems so damned elemental it shouldn’t need explaining: Truth and lies are entirely different things. Being made of reality and real stuff, the Truth always has heft. The Truth can be unbearably heavy at times.
Bullshit on the other hand — while it looks like it weighs a ton — weighs nothing. That’s what it’s made of: nothing or one of nothing’s derivatives.
It’s galling as hell to watch supposedly informed members of the news media (MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is on my TV screen as I tap this out) give bullshit weight it doesn’t deserve. Chris Matthews — having just listened to five minutes of solid truthful reporting — instantly presented the (easily) anticipated Trumpian defense: bullshit.
But, Chris reported the bullshit as if it “could” have weight. What if? He false equivalenced five minutes of actual reporting with fifteen seconds of nonsense. Ummmmm, clean up on aisles three through infinity!
What makes it worse is, if you took Chris off set and shot the shit with him, he’d be the first to tell you (I sure hope) what a guilty traitor Trump is! Backstage, when no one’s worried about pissing off the Boss, you know a lot more nitty makes it into the gritty. On air, you have to double and triple source everything to pass muster. Off air — you heard what you heard.
Trust me — everyone’s “smarter” backstage. They know everyone else’s “play”. They know everyone else has a play.
But, on his air, Chris consistently (as he did today) presented Truth and outright bullshit as having equal weight. Truth could be true but, hey — so could the bullshit. That must be why MSNBC is putting it on its air — because it’s true, right?
It IS that simple. Media works that quickly, that efficiently, that effectively. I’m grateful most media has stopped presenting climate scientists & climate deniers in a 50-50 shot as if both sides of THAT conversation weighed the same. Keep in mind — in the visual language, a screen divided exactly in half has two sides of equal value. That’s how visual vocabulary works.
When that happens, the news media creates a “trompe l’oeil” — a visual trick — that makes empty, valueless bullshit look like it’s a dead ringer for stone cold Truth. A more truthful visual representation of a climate scientist debating a climate science denier would be the scientist taking 99% of the TV screen (maybe even 100%) and the denier getting the rest. Their mic volume would reflect the same proportions.
In other words, we would never see or hear from climate deniers because their bullshit had been properly “weighted”.
Truth’s problem is it isn’t sexy. It just is. Usually, the only reason anyone ever talks about “The Truth” is because someone else is questioning it — or denying it.