After Trump, There Won’t BE A Republican Party Anymore

A wise man (more like a wise guy actually) once tweeted ““If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed… and we will deserve it.” That was Lindsey Graham and he knew exactly what he was talking about. What Lindsey understood – deep down, it turns out – is that Trump both personified the Republican Party’s worst, greediest, most power mad instincts and gave them a vehicle with which to sell those instincts. Trump was and is the GOP’s id run amok. As much as the GOP establishment hated Trump – and KNEW he was so compromised by Russia that he’d be a national security threat the instant he took office – they hitched their wagons to his – and willingly allowed Trump to take over their political party top to bottom. Republicans have always known for a fact that Trump was a stone cold traitor. They knew for a fact that keeping it secret was imperative. They knew for a fact that Trump was their shot at forcing permanent minority rule down America’s throat.

As Trump himself pointed out – as always saying the quiet parts out loud – if more Americans vote, it’s bad for Republicans. Maybe if the Republicans hadn’t willed themselves to be a white nationalist party, that wouldn’t be the case.

What the Republicans are doing to America – trying in every way they can to undermine our democracy, the integrity of the vote and the entire American franchise – isn’t their “opinion”. It isn’t a “campaign strategy” or a “political approach”. It’s insurrection by nonviolent means – bloodless perhaps but no less deadly to our democracy. Same goes for The Big Lie. It’s not “one side of the argument”. The Big Lie is zero sides of the argument because it’s bullshit. Lies are not an alternative to the Truth. Alternative facts are not facts, they’re the opposite of facts: they’re feelings pretending to be facts – not the same damned thing!

If the Republicans want to blame someone for why there won’t be a GOP anymore after Trump? They should blame Gerald R. Ford. When Ford straight out pardoned Nixon – to spare America the pain of confronting a corrupt president, what he actually did was message the perps “Better luck next time, boys”. Plan better. Execute better. Win, don’t lose. Consequently, neither Nixon nor the Republican establishment expressed an ounce of contrition. But then, Nixonians like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort weren’t feeling contrite. They began licking their wounds and plotting.

That’s Paul Manafort on the left, Roger Stone in the middle and Republican political strategist Lee Atwater. Had Gerald Ford not stood in the way of justice, had he not had the political establishment’s back, had he allowed the nation to indict, prosecute and judge Nixon, it’s quite possible that we wouldn’t be in the fix we’re in now. Being nice to pirates never seems to work out for anyone except the pirates. An unpunished Nixon gave Paul Manafort the idea that he could betray America and get away with it. An unpunished Paul Manafort (Trump pardoned Manafort and sprang him from prison) gave the entire GOP the idea that corruption was still the business of America.

Corruption is certainly the business the Republican Party is in. Unfortunately for them, that’s not a product most Americans will continue to buy going forwards.

When the Department of Justice finally begins indicting elected Republicans over their roles in the January 6 insurrection, they may not stop until virtually every single Republican either is indicted or has a date with a Grand Jury for questioning. The insurrection, we’re now learning, was very well organized. Very well funded. Very much a product of the Republican Party and Donald Trump.

The thing about rich white people? They love their creature comforts. Prison dinner and a hard, metal bed are not something these criminals ever envisioned for themselves. That doesn’t mean they haven’t earned it. If we want to stop these criminals from criming, we’re going to need to drive it home to them that acting like a criminal is expensive, unsatisfying and not even remotely worthwhile.

I’ll be surprised if the Republicans are still viable enough to run a candidate for POTUS in 2024. It won’t be Trump and never was going to be Trump. For him, the whole point of running for president now is to sit on his bloated white backside and collect political donations. The instant Trump stops running for office, his cash machine breaks down and he’s going to need every bit of cash he can get his teeny-tiny hands on to stave off the inevitable.

America has changed since Nixon was POTUS. We’ve gotten more diverse. Though still facing an unequal playing field, more and more Black, brown, Asian and LGBTQ Americans are finding their way to political power. Having been on corruption’s receiving end, they have zero tolerance for it. What Nixon got away with, Donald Trump will not. And once Trump’s day of reckoning begins, the GOP’s day of reckoning will roll right along with it.

I find it hard to believe that when all is done and said, when every last bit of the Republican Party’s power grab has been revealed for the criminal behavior it was that there will be enough Republicans not in prison to “be” a viable political party. And,, if the strands of this corrupt party were to resurrect themselves and present themselves to America as a going concern with ideas Americans could get behind, what the hell would they be selling anyway? Can one really say “Hey, we know we used to be the Party that hated you all, but that isn’t who we are now!”? Can a candidate pitch himself as the less authoritarian authoritarian?

It’s entirely possible that once the indictments start dropping that Republicans begin running for cover – and looking for deals. Don’t forget: this is about treason. The punishment for treason is death. And when more and more Republicans begin to grasp just how angry they’ve made a lot of Americans – and how unwilling more and more Americans are to show a bunch of traitors an ounce of mercy? They’ll begin ratting each other out like there’s no tomorrow. Shame for them – all the good deals will be gone by then. They’ll be getting the judicial scraps.

The people who will be responsible for ending the Republican Party are all Republicans. It cannot happen a microsecond too soon.

Oil – And Oil Money – Destroy Everything They Touch

Human beings might never have accomplished half of what we accomplished if not for oil. Oil essentially made the planet smaller for us. It made getting not just ourselves from one place to another on its surface easier (and way faster), it made moving parts of the earth itself from one place to another way easier (exotic construction material like wood from rain forests or oil). Hell, it made the moving itself (from one place to another) incredibly easy. The automobile made long-distance self transportation viable for everyone. It improved upon a technology that had dominated transportation tech for millennia: the horse. Both horse and auto had to “be fed”. But the horse, at some point, needed to sleep or it would die. The internal combustion engine? It worked, well, like a machine. So long as you could keep “feeding” the machine, the machine would go. And go far, far further than any horse.

Then, when flight became a thing – the die were cast. Human innovation has taken off at the environment’s expense. At our expense ultimately. The earth itself can survive having no environment. Homo sapiens on the other hand…

The physical earth will be here long after humans are gone. There was a cool series on the History Channel a few years ago – “Life After People” – that laid just out how quickly nature would reclaim our cities and, in essence, erase them. From a geological point of view, humans aren’t even a blip. Organic life itself – “Nature” – won’t survive ultimately. Whatever lifeforce continues to thrum here on earth will be geological: the violent ebb and flow of molten rock and water. Had there not been life on earth before us – incredibly successful life that populated earth for much longer periods of time than homo sapiens have been here – there would be no oil for homo sapiens to play with. Other energy-producing technologies – coal burning, for instance – damage the environment (whose protective integrity we rely on in order to be here). Even before petroleum became a thing, London experienced diabolical air pollution because of the unfortunate juxtaposition of coal dust in the air and air that, because of London’s physical location – didn’t move.

In December 1952, in fact, London experienced “The Great Smog” which was so bad that pedestrians sometimes couldn’t see their feet. Conservative estimates put the death toll at 4,000 but less conservative analysis put it closer to 12,000 dead Londoners. The Great Smog was composed of coal dust but also auto exhaust. In a way, it really was a “perfect storm” of pollution.

The first practical automobile dates all the way back to 1679.

Whether or not Flemish Jesuit priest Ferdinand Verbiest actually built the “toy” he proposed for his employer, the Qing Dynasty emperor, his design – like Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot’s 1770 design for a fardier à vapeur (intended entirely for military use to transport heavy artillery that horses struggled to move) – had to conquer one problem first in order to be “practical”.

See the boilers? Those are the point of the exercise. Those boilers needed to create steam which drive the “power train” mechanism that engages the wheels. The only available power source is what made the design impractical: coal. The thing that made the vehicle portable also limited its portability. Coal was heavy (which meant the vehicle had to be heavier). And it was slow to power up in the first place (a boiler could take 45 minutes to get hot enough to generate any steam). And all that heavy coal took up a lot of space, not leaving much room for the driver (and none for any “passengers”). Coal was more practical to drive large vehicles like locomotives. But automobiles? No.

The late 1820’s and early 1830’s saw a surge in battery technology innovation, but the batteries, like coal, were heavy and took up tons of space. Refined oil solved all of coal’s and electricity’s problems as an automobile’s “drivers”. It made portability possible because it was so portable.

Think of how much farther a gallon of gas will get you compared to a similarly-sized lump of coal.

Human curiosity is our blessing and our curse. For every problem we solve, we create five more, it seems. Yes, we can get a person or an object from one side of the planet to the other within a day. If we use outer space, we can do it even quicker (because we figured out how to get to outer space). But every time one of us goes up into the air, we do the air harm. A lot of us travel by air which means we keep doing the environment harm. Hell, the truth is, when we get in our cars to drive less than a mile, we’re doing the environment harm. We just prefer not to think about it. Or think that we ourselves are doing it – and don’t have to but for a little initiative.

Once we humans began injecting oil into our lives via our automobiles, boats, planes, ATV’s and motorcycles, we became hooked. Consider what oil did for warfare. Oil extended warfare’s range and lethality. And the pursuit of oil was (and has always been) used to justify all sorts of terrible, immoral behaviors. The Armenian Genocide had as much to do with the Germans building a Berlin-to-Baghdad rail line as it did Turkey’s mistrust of its Armenian population.

Everything about oil is literally dirty – from the process of finding it and pumping it out of the ground to pulling into a service station and pumping it into our cars. It’s impact on every economy it touches is clear. It creates economies. But, it can destroy those economies too (even as it’s creating them). Take Russia, for instance. The second oil becomes meaningless to humanity? Russia’s going to be broke – and broke forever. Same goes for all those Middle Eastern and African countries for whom oil is everything.

Maybe they should all get into the cannabis business instead. Now, that’s a business with a future.

Why Does Our News Media Insist On Equating Bullsh*t With Truth?

Some day, when the worst of Trumpism is behind us and American democracy is no longer under threat (or even duress), we owe it to ourselves to take a good, long, hard look at how our news media performed during this patch of time. Now, in their defense, America really hasn’t faced circumstances quite like the hand we’ve drawn here. On top of a Russian cyber war that put Trump in the White House in 2016, we’ve had a violent right wing surge across the planet that’s deliberately set out to wipe liberal democracy from the planet, massive climate change that’s already creating climate refugees, a violent, right wing near-putsch of our own and, last but hardly least, a worldwide pandemic. That’s a lot of news story for even a great journalist to wrap their mind around. Alas, our news media has not met the challenge head on. They’ve blinked — still are blinking like Chuck Todd signaling “I’m thinking!” to his audience — and resorted to old tropes instead looking at the events happening in front of them.

We owe it to ourselves to find that journalism professor at whatever J School it was who first proposed that “both sides do it”. We owe that academic a giant heap of scorn. I assume “Both sides do it” originated in academia among academics who couldn’t get hired as journalists themselves and so took to telling others “how to do” something. There’s an old comedy line (I refuse to source who said it because Woody Allen’s dead to me otherwise): “those who can’t do, teach and those who can’t teach, teach gym”. These journalism professors can’t even teach gym. Unfortunately they’ve taught a generation of journalists how to be cynical instead of skeptical and how to equate bullshit with the Truth.

After a reporter has reported that a certain person — a POTUS, say — lied to their face thousands of times, said reporter is entitled to characterize this liar as “a liar”. Actually, that reporter was entitled to describe the liar that way after just ONE lie. The reporter would have been reporting the truth. To NOT call them a liar then is to NOT report the truth. Now, why on earth would a journalist think that way? I suspect racism plays a large part here. Many white reporters are loathe to call out white people for bad behavior because we’ve already moved the goal posts where white bad behavior is concerned. If Kyle Rittenhouse was Black not white, he’d have never gotten to trial for killing two, wounding a third and nearly hurting lots of others with his semi-automatic weapon. He’d be dead already, shot down by the other white guys who were there that night with their guns, or the cops.

“Both sides do it” is fatally flawed walking in the door. It dispenses with all proportionality. A Republican who steals a million from the public kitty is the same as a Democrat who purloins a box of paper clips. Yes, both are thefts from the commonweal. No, they are not even remotely “the same”. But, our news media will hold up this fact as prima facie evidence that “both sides do it”. Therefore when Republicans do something — gerrymander, say — the automatic response is “both sides do it”. And yes — in the past, Democrats have gerrymandered Congressional districts. But they haven’t done it with the organization and purpose with which the GOP now is doing it. The Republicans clearly stated goal is to circumvent the will of any place’s Democratic majority by carving them into pieces and then attaching each piece to some far-flung Republican stronghold that will outnumber them. The whole reason to do this is to circumvent the majority’s will for the minority’s sole benefit.

Democrats do not do that. And Democrats don’t suppress Republican voters either. They don’t have to! Democrats can rely on the strength of their ideas to sway independent voters.

And Democrats aren’t working overtime to undermine every other democratic institution either. Have ya noticed the number of ex-Republicans disgusted by their party we now have versus the number of ex-Democrats with the same complaint? Do ya suppose that means something noteworthy? Our news media doesn’t. They think all the ex-Republicans in their ranks and amongst their punditry — all vocally outraged by what their former party is doing — are a sign of politics as usual. The news media seems to think it’s “normal” that one party backs anti-vaxism and gets violent if you ask them to put on a mask in a public space.

Republicans have become the “Feelings Over Facts” Party because facts are not their friend. Because they insist “both sides do it”, our news media immediately equates any Republican’s feelings with any Democrat’s facts. How a Republican “feels” about being vaccinated suddenly has equal weight to every fact a Democrat will put on the table about the very same thing. Nothing good can come from that. And nothing good has.

We’re At Our “Brokeback Mountain” Moment With Oil

The film that makes me cry: Brokeback Mountain | The film that makes me cry  | The Guardian

The world has always had an oily relationship with oil. America’s relationship with it has been even oilier. We know how bad oil is for us. We’ve seen it wash up on our beaches and murder wildlife wholesale. We know it’s the cause of multiple wars and even mass murder (oil played a part in the Armenian Genocide). We know how toxic it makes our air.

But, hey — there’s a stretch of highway here in California — state route 46 between Cambria and Paso Robles.

The Highway 46 scenic drive - from Paso Robles to the coast - great sunset  drive
Paso Robles CA named one of 25 coolest towns in U.S. | San Luis Obispo  Tribune

Most of it’s two or three lanes — but wide, very wide — and with big, gentle curves as the road navigates a pass in the coastal mountains and either drops down onto the coast or slowly segues from beautiful rolling hills into vineyards as far as the eye can see. The view, looking south from this stretch of road (at about 2500 feet elevation) — toward Morrow Bay and Morrow Rock in the far distance (the views above by day and by twilight) — to call it breathtaking is an understatement. The hardy can bike ride here. The rest of us need a car or a truck or a Harley. And those things all need oil to get us to that nirvana.

What’s an oil lover to do about an addiction that’s killing us — about a love we fear we can’t live without?

“I wish I knew hot to quit you!” Boy, do we know how Jack Twist feels, amiright? In Brokeback Mountain, Jack knows what this difficult love has cost him — any kind of peace in his life. Ennis Del Mar will learn the same hard lesson in the end. For Jack and Ennis, there was no choice. Their worlds didn’t allow for much choice, least of all that one. More’s the tragedy.

For us and oil however — we can go one way versus the other. We don’t have to deny our love until it’s too late (and whatever creature comforts we still have, alas, they’ll never assuage our broken hearts!). Neither answer’s pain free. But one — turning away from fossil fuels now and definitively — might give us a chance to live to love another day. Doing nothing — the conservative preference because it’s all about conserving the past — is always the most expensive option despite it’s “free” price tag. “Keeping things as they are” has motivated more corruption in the history of human beings than any other sentiment. Invariably those wanting to “keep things as they are” (conservatives wanting to conserve the status quo) will be more corrupt (having things already) than those wanting humanity to progress away from the status quo so that society’s have-not’s can finally have. Having nothing makes it waaay harder to be corrupt. You have zero with which to corrupt others to do what you want.

Both sides don’t “do” corruption because both sides don’t start in the same place with the same stuff in their pockets. The first problem any alcoholic or drug-addicted person must own is the fact of their own addiction. Contrition of a kind — acknowledgement of the harmful, self-destructive behavior or its trigger mechanism — must precede healing. By insisting that “both sides do it”, our news media cynically accused EVERYONE — both sides — of being equally corrupt in everything they did and said. They conveyed to their audience the false idea that because Republicans did things for political reasons — suppressing Democratic voters — that 1) Democrats do it too and 2) when Democrats react to Republican voter suppression, they (Democrats) are being just as political as the Republicans are being. “Both sides are doing it”.

But, a Democratic voter demanding justice because their right to vote has been screwed with isn’t reacting politically. They’re reacting to a crime — as that crime’s victim. The crime has a political component — but ONLY in that politics are what’s motivating this Republican criminal behavior. It is a CRIME to violate another American’s right to vote. In any way. It’s not a matter of degrees. One can’t say “Well, this American’s right to vote was only violated 20% — it’s not that big a deal”. If you violate another American’s right to vote by a fraction of one percent, YOU’VE VIOLATED IT same as if you’d gone the Full (Violation) Monty.

Only white people — having had full political power since the founding — could possibly look at anyone else’s rights with a scale in mind.

But, I digress. Talking about corruption does that to me. We were talking oil and addictions and facing truths we’d rather not face.

Post World War II America soared with confidence. Our emotions about who and what we are got the better of us. Our conviction that American democracy could save the world caused our stumble into Vietnam. It caused the mission swap in Afghanistan. And oil caused the American invasion of Iraq. I’ve always wondered if a big reason we went to war wasn’t because the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (the House of Saud) wanted to punish Saddam Hussein for thumbing his nose at them and selling his oil cheap on the black market. America has for too long been the House of Saud’s oil bitch.

Oil lubricates more than just machine parts. It made full industrialization possible because it made traveling (or transporting products) greater distances at greater speeds far easier. Oil increased human productivity exponentially — for better and worse. It made getting places easier. Made tourism a Big Business. Made war truly horrifying. And it made a handful of human beings staggeringly wealthy.

Thus corruption begins. Hmmmmm… corruption. We’re back here again, are we?

Admitting bad behavior is hard. So is admitting complicity. But, getting healthy demands we own up. The alternative to getting healthy is a planet fewer people can live on — many because where they used to live is now under water. That will absolutely impact literally every other human being in myriad ways. We really are all n this together.

How Criminals (And Republicans) Think

Inside every criminal’s head is a scale upon which they balance their criminal behavior’s risks versus that behavior’s rewards. If the risk of stealing a six pack of beer is a decade plus in prison — and the risk of getting caught is high, it’s probably not worth it. But, if the risk of stealing a whole country is that two thirds of the people will despise you while cowering in your presence? No big deal. That’s the calculus that criminals and Republicans make as they contemplate the actions that make them criminals and Republicans. The only thing that will stop a career criminal from continuing in his career is law enforcement stopping him. That’s why one of the first things career criminals do is compromise law enforcement in any way they can. Mafia dons buy cops. Dark Money buys politicians. The point of the exercise is corruption. Corruption itself becomes a kind of currency that criminals either pass around like dividends to their pals or wield like a cudgel to keep the less “dedicated” to crime in line.

Because our news media still insists — despite the mountain ranges of information stacked in front of them — that “both sides do it”, they see Republicans as honest actors. This misrepresents them horribly. Even worse, by giving all information equal weight and validity (since it’s not up to the journalist to judge anything), in their reporting, these journalists knowingly equate bullshit and truth while refusing to qualify which is which. Back before the news media was shamed into refusing climate deniers any more air time, they regularly gave climate deniers all the air time they wanted! This happened regularly on NEWS channels and shows: News show host would set up a debate between a climate scientist or believer in climate science like Bill Nye and a climate science denier like David LeGates or Marc Morano (formerly Rush Limbaugh’s “Man in Washington”).

Notice how a NEWS channel set up its shot here? It’s a “50-50” image. In other words, both people — both arguments — get 50% of the screen. In visual language (which most of us understand quite implicitly), CNN is saying: “these two arguments have equal validity to them”. That’s not even remotely true but the visual image tells us it is. The same applies to when any news panel includes at least one person there specifically to lie. If the show presenting the news panel doesn’t make that fact explicit then that fact doesn’t exist for the news audience. And the truth-speaking panelists will find their truths being compared equally to the liars lies.

It gets worse! The “both sides do it” spewing news media — having equated truth and bullshit — set themselves to the task of “analyzing” what’s happening. With their skewed view of the universe and all the people in it, they attempt to characterize the players so as to explain them. But the lens these “journalists” use is their own experience, their own way of thinking. Problem is THEY’RE NOT CRIMINALS and don’t think like criminals. They end up normalizing criminal behavior by recasting it as political.

Or — as so many American journalists insist on doing — they put themselves inside Donald Trump’s mind and assume Trump acts like they act and thinks like they think. That’s how we ended up with a White House Press Corps that regularly gawped at Trump as he openly lied to them. They ascribed political motives to criminal behavior — then reported the whole thing through the non-criminal prism inside their own heads. Trump’s hold over the GOP became entirely political: it’s all about Trump’s ravenous base. Yes, that’s true — to a degree. But it’s not the real leverage Trump’s held the whole time.

Crime is. Criminals understand that the more people they compromise (including law enforcement), the harder it will be for anyone to stop them. Another tactic criminals use is normalization. If everybody’s doing what they’re doing, can it really be a crime? And (as with Trump), if you do your “criming” out in the open where everyone (the press included) cans see it, can that really be a crime? The answer to both questions is hell yes. Crime never stops being crime (the statute of limitations be damned!)

If I attempt to deny another American their right to vote — in any way — I am violating their rights and committing a crime. If I do it because I’m racist, that’s a whole other level of crime. And it is a crime to be actively racist in an E Pluribus Unum country.

White America wants the rest of America to overlook two hundred-forty years of consistently terrible behavior toward non-white Americans (or non-whites who, for whatever reason, came to live and “work” in America). They want every other American to forget about slavery or every deal our government made and then broke with a Native American tribe. They want the rest of us to deny the long term impacts of white racism on its victims (including the very real, generational impacts on its victims’ wealth). And then our news media gets all warm and cuddly with these racists by refusing to call out their racism. They go and ask the racists “Hey — you’re not a racist, are you?” And then they shrug inconclusively when the racist — news cameras in their face — insists “Me? No! I’m not a racist!”

Trust me, CNN, MSNBC, the rest of the news media — when Donald Trump says “I’m the least racist person in the world”, that’s bullshit. The last person you should ever ask “are you racist” is a racist since they have the least perspective on the subject. Same goes for the racist’s racist buddies. They can’t tell you if their friend’s a racist because THEY’RE so damned racist. The ONLY people who can honestly and accurately tell you if anyone is racist is that racist’s victim. They KNOW when someone’s being racist toward them. They’ve had a lifetime of experience with it, don’t forget. Their racism “spidey senses” are always cranked up to eleven.

Ah, but “both sides do it” says that a racist remark and the racist victim’s response are equally valid.

Racists are racist in everything they do. Literally. Same goes for rapists, by the way. When your view of the world allows you the freedom to infringe on other peoples’ personal space at will and without consequence — as a matter of personal power — you will act that way toward others until someone with more power rises up to stop you. Republicans? Exactly the same.

Donald Trump has been a criminal his entire life. Just because he’s never been prosecuted — that’s a technicality, really. That’s us failing to do right by ourselves and remind criminals their crimes are unacceptable to the rest of us and will be treated accordingly. The rule of law’s a wonderful thing but it can’t enforce itself. That’s our obligation. And it’s not hyperbole to say that Donald Trump is a criminal and that plenty of people have always known or suspected this to be true.

Case in point — as I’ve repeated in this space often — June 25, 2017, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a GOP leadership meeting to talk about their soon-to-be presidential nominee. He says — out loud (it was recorded and the recording played later for Washington Post reporter Adam Entous) “There are two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Even in the context of the time — without four years of treasonous behavior toward Vladimir Putin — this is treasonous! One of the head muckety-mucks of the Republican Party is telling other muckety-mucks that their candidate to be POTUS is compromised by a hostile foreign government — AND THEY KNOW IT! And they — per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — are going to keep this criminal secret a secret because “that’s how we know we’re a family”.

The instant you become a co-conspirator to commit treason — as everyone in that room did — you become a criminal! At the very least, you should become someone our news media (who reported the crime) suspects could be a criminal. But not just a “criminal”, a traitor. To report such a person as if there was no possibility they were a criminal or a traitor misreports them entirely and can’t possibly hope to report them accurately since it’s already detached their true motives from the story. Suddenly, treasonous behavior becomes something less — far less. It stops being a crime, for one thing.

And just like that, treason becomes normalized. Criminal behavior becomes political behavior. Crime becomes acceptable to the people who are supposed to be our last backstop against the abuse of political power. Nothing good can come of that — as our current situation proves.

Dear American News Media: I’m Just Here To Help!

Dear American News Media:

I’ve had a change of heart about you and me and our relationship. After using this space to criticize you relentlessly, I’ve decided to “go positive” toward you instead. Pointing out your many flaws (like when you fawn over power instead of interrogating it or cynically insist that “both sides do it”) has gotten me nowhere with you. You still fawn over power when you should be skeptical of it (and that’s because you’ve mistaken cynicism for skepticism) same as you did during the George W. Bush presidency. It’s strange though how that cynicism gets applied the moment Democrats assume the mantle of power. But, there I go again, criticizing when I mean to be giving positive re-enforcement. I see now this is going to be a harder habit to break than I realized.

Most of my notes here apply to MSNBC because I spend so much more time with them than CNN. Actually, aside from Chuck Todd’s hour of over-rehearsed tics, random twitching and “I’m being thoughtful” eye rolling, I’m pretty exclusive to MSNBC where cable news is concerned. That’s not because I love most of their on air talent — I don’t. MSNBC has a few truly exceptional news broadcasters/communicators on their team. I have zero problem with advocate journalism so long as its open about its advocacy and consistent in its morality. Nicolle Wallace evolved into a super star whose past — as the basis for her crisis of conscience — gives her point of view gravitas. She is what a “Come To Jesus” moment looks like when given two hours of cable news five days a week.

Rachel Maddow’s integrity is rock solid. Stories that seem to meander suddenly cut to the bone when seemingly disparate dots connect and a real sense of “the bigger picture” flashes to the surface.

Ali Velshi is a rock. He’s gone from being the H-POD to being a beacon of logic and humanity. I don’t know how he keeps his (second) marriage together considering his work schedule. His family’s loss is our gain. Okay — I can be selfish that way.

I’m thrilled for Joy-Ann Reid (righteous indignation + receipts = what journalism should be) and all the talented people flowing from her “space”: Jonathan Capehart and Tiffany Cross both bring intelligence, cultural insight, wit and grace to their time slots, MSNBC and American journalism as a whole.

Lawrence O’Donnell puts a great bow on most days. My only note is one I’m not sure he could do anything about. I agree with most of what Lawrence says. But then, I’m the choir. Something in me always feels like that’s who Lawrence is preaching to — people as sensible as he is. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that but it does feel like a loop. Whereas Joy-Ann Reid can persuade with her passion, Lawrence reinforces with his warm reasonableness.

Chris Hayes epitomizes both advocate journalism’s strengths and its weaknesses. Hey — bring receipts like Chris does and you can flail away. But, sometimes that flailing feels like, well, flailing. The problem though is less Chris than the entire news industry’s aversion to including ALL possible explanations for Donald Trump’s presence in American politics and his behavior.

Ari Melber has the potential to be better than he is. He seems especially resistant to drawing conclusions and connecting dots minus ironclad evidence or a literal smoking gun. He sees the legal angles clearly but, at the moment of truth, when he could step forward and boldly connect the important dots, he gets lawyerly cold feet.

For the year and change of Trump’s candidacy (he declared on June 17, 2015), the four years of his presidency and the (almost a) year since he lost re-election, our news media has framed Trump as legitimate candidate, president and former-president. He’s been none of those things — from legitimacy’s point of view. Our news media however, having succumbed to access journalism’s lure during George W. Bush’s presidency, can’t bring themselves to call anyone what they are. Hell, our news media still regularly bleeps foul language from the news because they think 1) their audience “can’t handle the truth” and 2) language isn’t part of the news. Though “journalists”, they feel how a person expresses themselves — with all the significance their word choices imply — is less important if that expression might offend certain people. That’s not journalism, it’s misguided nannying.

To blunt language is to blunt news’ impact. It’s sugar-coating at a time when the more truth we get — all bitterness included — the better!

When our news media “pussy-footed” around “pussy-grabbing”, they deep-sixed the truth in favor of “being sensitive” — but to whom? Every woman in America deserved to know exactly how Donald Trump thinks about women. If that view of women includes his thinking he can do whatever he wants to whatever woman he wants — that’s material. Look, just because someone has a point of view (and we all have points of view), that doesn’t mean their point of view has a point. A rapist (like Trump) has a point of view as he commits rape (“I’m raping because I want to and can!) but that doesn’t mean his point of view is valid where fairness and the rule of law are concerned. Mexicans aren’t rapists as a culture. Trump’s candidacy should have ended the day it started because he said that.

The fact that Trump did say it — and his candidacy didn’t end — that’s not on the Democrats, it had zero to do with them. It’s not on the Republicans either because the rest of the Republican field would have been just as happy if Trump and his campaign had imploded that day. It’s hard to say how many Republican contenders knew yet (as the Washington Post reported in 2017) that “there’s two people Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump”. The GOP still hadn’t embraced Trump the way they would eventually. Only the news media really “saw something” in Trump.

A cash cow.

I didn’t start out a news junkie; I’m just a humble storyteller and an occasionally successful screenwriter and film/TV producer. Something about Trump’s candidacy triggered my “Spidey-senses”. My storytelling senses, too. What stuck in my craw from the get-go was a growing perception that the news story I was living through was not the news story our news media was reporting. I started to think of it like icing and cake. The news media were all about the story’s icing when, really, they needed to be looking much more deeply at the cake. Take Trump’s relationship with Vlad Putin. To this day, our news media will scratch divots into their heads pondering why Trump is soooooo beta to Putin’s alpha.

Someone should write a saying about how pictures speak a thousand words — and then hand it to our news media. “Both sides do it” journalism however gives every piece of information equal weight — and they refuse to “judge” information or the people supplying it. That’s how liars spewing lies about climate science can be the same as climate scientists presenting conclusive data. Before being shamed into cutting the shit, our news media regularly presented climate science and climate denial as if both points of view had equal merit. Even if they didn’t mean to do that, our news media presented both points of view on screen as a fifty-fifty proposition. That’s what it says visually when two people argue, both with 50% of the screen — both points of view could be true.

This still happens every time our news media presents a Democrat’s point of view and then — for balance — a Republican’s. If the Democrat says “we need to these programs to help these people and we calculate it will cost this much, the Republican replying “That costs too much” isn’t an actual reply to the question. The people the Democrats are trying to help still need that help. That’s empirically true regardless. If it will cost x dollars to help them then the proper framing is “We need this amount of money to help this amount of Americans accomplish equity — a thing we know America needs to deal with”. “Costs too much” means “I’m choosing NOT to help all the people who need help”. The question is “why?” Where should that money go instead?

Our news media loves a horse race because races are easy to call. You just sit there and watch the horses run. But, America’s in a very strange place right now. There are horse races being run — and our news media is reporting on them (the “Will Joe Biden get his agenda passed by Congress” story is nothing but a horse race in our news media’s hands). But these races are happening while the race track is burning down around us. And the Republican Party set the fire.

I know for a fact that I’m not the only member of the cable news audience baffled by cable news’ inability to aggregate the story we’re all living through. Example: the news media itself kept track of the number of lies they believe Trump told in public. 30, 573 was the “official” tab according to the Washington Post on January 24, 2021. Those were lies told while Trump was POTUS. The WaPo, as far as I know, stopped keeping track; we have no idea how many lies Trump has lied while being former-POTUS. Whatever that number is, it’s a record. Yet, few in the news media framed Trump as a liar first — though, considering the amount of lying and Trump’s willingness to lie about everything no matter how small and demonstrably false — that, too, is baffling. You’d think that, after even just 10 percent of those lies — thirty-five hundred or so — you’d stop assuming Trump was ever telling the truth since there’s clearly no evidence of it while there’s ample and growing evidence that he lies.

Our news media still publishes Trump’s lies without framing them as such even while knowing that that’s what they are. Oh, sure — they do tell us they’re lies — but, if we see it from Trump’s point of view (knowing he’s lying), the point of the exercise isn’t to prove you’re not lying, it’s to blanket the world with the lie so as to turn the lie into “the truth”. Even when acknowledging Trump’s dishonesty, our news media continues to work to his dishonesty’s advantage.

Geez! I wanted to be positive here and, instead, I’ve criticized again. Did I mention yet what a hard habit this is to break?

Here — I’ll try to be positive. Kelly O’Donnell is someone I’ve been unkind toward in the past. And she epitomizes exactly what I’m talking about. Kelly (can I call you that?), I want to make amends because — hey, we’re both in show biz, right? The news biz IS show biz and the same principles that make my storytelling work also make yours work.

I mean this from the bottom of my heart (for what that’s worth): I want to help YOU, Kelly O, be the best storyteller you can be! Here’s a clip of Kelly O from August 17, 2017 after a terrorist attack in Barcelona. It’s early in the Trump presidency; his lying as POTUS is still newish (compared to his lying as candidate). But — context — Sean Spicer didn’t get up in front of the White House Press Corps and lie about the size of Trump’s crowd size for his health or because he really wanted to. Journalists like Kelly O’ had personally witnessed not just that Trump lied but that he lied about stupid things. And,, remember, this is well after “Mexicans are rapists” (a lie) and “pussy-grabbing” (another lie — his denial).

A storyteller adding information builds a platform from which to base the next part of the story. The goal is to tell the whole story, of course, by connecting dots as they become reasonably connectable. Once you’ve established that a person is a liar (inside your own head), how can you tell that person’s story as if they aren’t a liar? The fact is they could be and an honest telling of their story starts there — not after you’ve presented the lie. Context IS everything.

https://www.msnbc.com/deadline-white-house/watch/o-donnell-appears-it-is-incorrect-information-being-tweeted-by-trump-1027064387879

At the 1:07 mark, Kelly O’ reads a tweet Trump put out.

She then qualifies the tweet: “Especially in that last sentence,” says Kelly O, “That seems to be the voice of the president more than a staffer on his behalf”. “That seems to be” is Kelly O’ inserting herself into the story — putting herself into Donald Trump’s head because, I guess, she has such insight into how Trump thinks. Though Trump to that point had showed zero capacity for empathy, Kelly O’ makes him empathetic regardless as if he must be empathetic just because he’s POTUS and Kelly O’s reporting on him. But Kelly O senses there’s more to it. Good for her!

“But, then a curious follow up tweet,” Kelly O’ continues, “…where the President says” (and she reads the tweet) —

Kelly O reminds the audience that this echoes a story Trump told on the campaign trail (a place where he lied repeatedly of course and said outrageous, offensive things) even though, as president, Trump had access to copious information that proved the story wrong. Historians have found no basis in fact for this, Kelly O says, spinning a blatant lie into “it appears this is incorrect information being tweeted by the President at this time”.

Think about the difference between these two presentations of the same thing — a lie. One presents the lie as a lie. The other is Kelly O’ dancing around until the word “lie” can’t really be discerned anymore. No one lies by accident. They’re deliberate by definition and Trump deliberately lies as readily as he breathes. Yet Kelly O editorialized a Trumpian lie down into something Trump could have done accidentally. That’s really dishonest. And, when you consider what Trump did subsequently?

That makes Kelly O an enabler.

Ah, hell — I did it again! I’m so sorry, Kelly O — I really didn’t mean to criticize. You’re a nice person — anyone can get that just from watching you. From everything I’ve read, your colleagues like you. From your industry’s point of view, you’re at the top of your game. That doesn’t mean you’re AT the top of your game. Or maybe it does and the thing we’re comparing it to — the news industry’s game — has a “top” most industries wouldn’t brag about. What it means is that from mediocrity’s point of view, you fit right in.

You are tasked with covering the biggest, most compelling, most consequential story of our collective lifetimes. Our democracy’s survival hinges on you getting your job right. So far, you’ve let us and democracy down hard. But the game ain’t over yet! Hell, MSNBC itself has news assets that both see and perfectly articulate what’s happening to us. For my money, Jason Johnson and Elie Mystal are both Jeremiah’s we should be listening to religiously.

In my dreams, a day will come when I can step back from being a news junkie. Fascinating as it is, it’s exhausting. But, I know this: if the day comes when I can stop obsessing on the news, it will be because Progressives (the only adults in the room now) have finally cleared out all the dead wood — the stale, regressive, repressiveness of our racist right wing. When the day comes that we’re no longer under threat, I will relax. Finally.

I’ll miss a few of my regulars when that day comes: Nicolle and Rachel especially. But, as for the rest of you? I’ll assume you’ve gone off to greener pastures — and jobs you might actually be good at.

Breaking News: Progressives Are Now, Officially, The “Adults In The Room”

Remember back in the olden days — during the 2016 election — when progressives were universally viewed as crackpots? Remember when universal basic income was understood to be a pipe dream that could never work in the real world? Remember when universal, single-payer health CARE and free pre-k and community college for all were things that other countries did but that Americans (being rugged individuals) would never tolerate or want so why bother thinking about them? Remember when America simply took for granted that most Americans didn’t care about voting in anything but presidential elections (where, even then, only half of America reliably voted)? Remember when progressives rolled their eyes at the very thought of Joe Biden being president? Funny how Life changes, yeah? It’s now the Progressives who have hoisted Joe Biden and his agenda — mostly the Progressives’ agenda — onto their backs and set themselves on a forced march from which they will not be deterred because they know: tens of millions of Americans are counting on them to do the right thing. Meanwhile, all around them, chaos rules. The similarity to a schoolyard is downright shocking. Good thing there are adults here to supervise.

As we stand here today, the only political entity with a clearly stated agenda is the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. The Congressional Progressive Caucus focuses on these seven planks:

• Provide COVID Relief that Meets the Scale of the Crisis and Addresses the Disproportionate Harm to Black, Indigenous, People of Color and Other Vulnerable Communities

• Put People Back to Work, Give Workers More Power, and Transform to a Clean Renewable Energy Economy.

• Ensure Health Care for Everyone

• Defend and Expand Voting Rights, Strengthen Democracy and End Corruption

• Dismantle Racism, White Supremacy and Inequality in All Institutions

• End Endless Wars and Invest in Diplomacy and Peace

• End Corporate Greed and Corporate Monopolies

There’s actually way more than seven big ideas in there. But, every single one is good and worth pursuing because they’ll produce a better America where the rising tide floats every single boat. That Progressive ideal isn’t anathema to most Americans. Quite the contrary. 62% of Americans “somewhat or strongly support passing both President Biden’s Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan together using budget reconciliation.” Not only do most Americans want what Progressives want, they want President Biden to use whatever means necessary to get that legislation passed and the government working FOR them. That, really, is the Progressive “Big Idea”: that government — being us — is obligated above all to be there for us in whatever ways we want or need it to be there. THAT is the nature of a democracy. We govern ourselves for our mutual benefit. Yes, there are individual rights, but where individual rights and the groups’ rights butt heads, the group must almost always win.

Rugged individuals couldn’t care less about governing. They have it in their heads that no one should have the power to govern them — or regulate them — or even tell them “no”. They’ve got a ten year old boy’s idea of freedom: “You’re not the boss of me!” Being little boys without the brain structures to comprehend the consequences of their actions, they don’t understand that freedom isn’t even remotely free — and can’t be. Freedom comes with great bennies but also great responsibilities. It’s a package deal however. That’s what people on the right either forget or ignore. They want their rights but couldn’t give a flaming fig if you get yours. What that really means is they don’t care about rights period. They want what they want and they intend to take it.

In our current argument, the Progressives, the Democratic Party and the majority of Americans are being held hostage by two things: the Republican Party (a given) and the Democratic Party’s “moderate wing”.

The Republican Party is now so far gone that Liz Cheney is considered a heretic. If not for our news media’s rabid insistence that Republicans are all still “honest actors”, we might already be miles further down this story’s tortured road. The majority of Republicans now insist that Joe Biden stole the election from Donald Trump (the ultimate enfant terrible because he’s also a traitor). They know for a fact that this is bullshit but insist it’s true anyway. Adult behavior, that is not. Adult behavior in the GOP could have reasserted itself — should have asserted itself — before they nominated Trump. They had the perfect out to remove him from their midst; and they could have looked damned patriotic while doing it.

June 15, 2016 — a room somewhere in or near the Capitol. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a meeting of Republican leaders and says — out loud (it was recorded!) — “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Afraid that the conversation would continue, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan insisted that the subject remain a secret between them. “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.” All anyone had to do was call the FBI with what must have been some pretty substantial (and substantiated) suspicions. Even if they were just suspicions, they owed it to their oaths of office to DO something — other than keep a secret like a mafia family.

The Republicans know for a fact that but for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have become president. Take Russia out of the 2016 equation and Donald Trump doesn’t get past the primaries. He never gets into the game to begin with and why would he? The last thing on earth a crook wants is undue attention on where his money came from. When the Trumps realized that connecting their money to Russia (as Junior did here) was a bad idea, they stopped talking about it. They never stopped taking the money though. Our news media have worn divots into their scalps from scratching their heads so hard as they ponder “what is Trump’s hold over the Republican Party?” Sure, sure — Trump’s base can play havoc come primary time. Are Republicans that craven that hanging onto a job “trumps” their integrity? Oh, look — in the woods — there’s a pile of bear shit!

Republicans aren’t just politically craven, they’re outright criminal. Our news media — and the moderate wing of the Democratic Party — have softened those criminal edges into a “political point of view”. That’s what circumventing the Will Of The People in a democratic republic is: criminal. It’s an attempt to subvert the Peoples’ will toward some other entity’s will. That is completely against the law — a thing Progressives have always recognized but, at long last, are getting to shout from the rooftops. A political party dedicated to ending American democracy (against the will of the majority) is not a political party, it’s a criminal enterprise. Their actions aren’t political, they’re criminal acts for a political purpose but criminal acts above all. Bottom line: the Republicans are now criminals. Their agenda is a criminal agenda and their end game (the end of the greatest experiment ever in human self-government) a betrayal. They represent racism, misogyny, bigotry and permanent (white) minority rule. I’ll sum it up for us: evil.

What the Republican Party stands for is evil.

So, why do moderate Democrats want to compromise with them? Do moderate Democrats — that’s what Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are in theory — actually believe that Democrats should negotiate with people out to destroy the very democracy we’re talking about? What would the compromise with such a point of view be? We sell “part” of our democracy down the river? We sell out some Americans to the benefit of other Americans? We float some boats but not all boats?

That IS what moderates are demanding — that Democrats (whose agenda the majority supports) should negotiate away things the electorate wants in order to gain… what? The tell that one side is negotiating from bullshit’s point of view is that they talk about a number — like $3.5 trillion — like it wasn’t connected to policies meant to help Americans — the “Of the People, by the People and for the People” Lincoln was talking about. “That number’s too big!” is a bullshit statement because it doesn’t qualify what it means. Too big for what? Too big compared to what? Too big from whose point of view?

Moderates, apparently, see “too big” from the Republican point of view — a criminal point of view that sees government service as a way for the government (tax dollars) to service THEM. Our dumb-as-dirt news media insist that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema represent some “point of view” that has a valid point (and wouldn’t it be swell if some reporter actually pinned either of those two down on whose point of view they’re actually repping here). What point of view could possibly weigh more than the point of view of their constituents? See where I’m going? It’s exactly where Joe & Kyrstan stand — up to their necks in corruption.

In our current political environment, America stands poised at a crossroads. We will go one way or the other. There is no middle ground, no moderation. In one direction lies the authoritarian shithole of Republican wet dreams. In the other is the America as yet unrealized where the exceptionalism promised by E Pluribus Unum (our country’s motto) finally manifests itself in reality. Moderates and centrists will have to pick which of those two roads they want to go down. Spoiler alert: America’s going down the E Pluribus Unum road. As potent a force as fascism is, in the past, it’s succeeded in homogenous cultures like Weimar Germany. Even “good Germans” saw their German-ness as more important than defending Jews (outsiders to German culture).

Here in America though, “American” is a far more recent “invention”. Nothing like the “German” national identity exists in America outside white supremacists — a small minority here. Fascism relies upon a large group’s bonding together despite their moral misgivings — their cultural connections being the glue that binds them. E Pluribus Unum may result in “unum” (together) but the “pluribus” is the big difference between America and Germany. For America to succumb to fascism, all those groups white people have abused would have to agree on some level to let that continue because they don’t want to rock the cultural boat. Trust me on this: that is not going to happen.

E Pluribus Unum says so.

I’m All For Compromise But The Question Is Who Or What Are We Being Asked To Compromise With?

Relationships are all about compromise. No marriage can survive without copious amounts of it. The bottom line is incredibly simple: if you want any relationship to survive, be prepared to compromise pretty much everything. That means whoever (or whatever) you’re compromising with better we worth the compromise. You will be living with that compromise’s results for some time — for better or worse. Ideally, a great compromise makes no one happy because everyone had to give so much to get a piece of what they wanted. If that something is a successful marriage or business relationship, the compromise will (hopefully) be entirely worth whatever was sacrificed. But not all compromises work like that. Some compromises aren’t compromises at all because one of the two sides never had any intention of giving up anything to get what it wants.

Evil never compromises. Never, ever, EVER. That means when you negotiate with it? You’re the only one compromising. Evil will have remained where it is while you will have moved yourself a little closer to it. No compromise is a bad compromise (from the other side of the negotiating table’s point of view). Our news media, insisting that both sides do it because (presumably) both sides are exactly the same, insist that Democrats negotiate with (and, of course, compromise with) Republicans. In normal world, that makes sense because (at least on the surface) it’s always made sense. But the Republican Party of Saint Ronnie Reagan is deader than Lee Atwater’s soul (which is even deader than Lee Atwater – former business partner of Paul Manafort). The remaining Nixonians coalesced around Donald Trump as did the rest of the GOP as Trump slowly rolled them all up into a massive web of compromise.

While the RW money has never loved Trump, they hitched their wagon to him regardless — even though they KNEW that Trump was owned outright by Russia. As current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it back in 2016 a month before the GOP nominated Trump — as he strode into a meeting of Republican muckety-mucks: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in a position of authority in the Republican Party can honestly say they had no idea Russia had compromised their presidential candidate. They discussed his being compromised openly. The conversation was recorded even (and heard by the Washington Post writer who wrote the piece!) It is inconceivable if not impossible that the Republican Party hierarchy did not know that Trump was being controlled by a hostile foreign government. If the Republican hierarchy knew then pretty much everyone at least suspected. Secrets of that kind don’t stay secret in DC no matter how hard some people try to “keep it in the family”.

One thing Republicans are good at that Democrats aren’t is marching in lock step. Like right now. Republicans are marching in lock step as they try to destroy our democracy. They march in lock step as they gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters because if they relied on selling their ideas to win elections, they’d lose every election. Republicans march in lock step as they strip away reproductive rights from every woman in Texas. They march in lock step as they rape the environment, ditch all regulation, make peace with COVID-19 and openly plot insurrection. They march in lock step as they try to shove permanent white minority rule down a rapidly diversifying America’s throat.

When our news media clicks its tongue at Democrats for refusing to be “bi-partisan”, what they’re saying is Democrats should negotiate with Republicans even if Republicans are terrorists, seditionists and traitors. Even if everything the Republicans are trying to accomplish was demonstrably evil (as it pretty much is).

In the Warsaw Ghetto — the German Army’s collecting point for trips to Auschwitz — a group of Jews insisted they could “negotiate” with the Nazis. The Judenrat — this council of traitors — took over the job of “governing” the ungovernable ghetto which meant 1) selecting who’d be collected from the ghetto and sent to the camps or 2) betraying any Jews inside the ghetto who were plotting against the Germans (because every time the Jewish resistance acted, killing German soldiers, the Germans retaliated). To the Judenrat, keeping the peace — compromising with absolute evil — was preferable to resistance even if both led to the same terrible conclusion.

I would not compromise with a Nazi, nor with a white supremacist, nor with a Republican. Those three things could all walk into a bar inside one person — and they frequently do.

The Republican Party Is What Happens When Bad Ideas And Thinking Metastasize

The reason Republicans have to rely on gerrymandering, voter suppression and terrible legislation to win elections is because nobody except them will vote for their ideas. To be clear, the only problem Republicans see looming in America’s future is diversity and the loss of political power that diversity will cost them. They see a loss of political power as a “cost” rather than as what must happen if America is ever going to live up to its full E Pluribus Unum potential as the greatest experiment ever in human self government. The fact is, conservative America doesn’t want America to live up to that potential. They want “All men are created equal” to mean what it meant to the country’s white, Christian, land-owning founders — just them and only them. That is originalism. A very bad idea (because it’s bullshit). Originalism isn’t the idea itself, originalism is the bad idea’s manifestation out here in reality. The idea is a toxic cocktail of racism, bigotry, misogyny, magical thinking and outright bullying. Want to know what happens to someone who swallows this idea?

Look around. You can practically smell the cancer.

This awful idea — that America is some white peoples’ homeland (aside from the Native American population white peoples’ pathogens obliterated) — flies in the face of reality. Europe is white, Christian America’s homeland. And, while the organizing principles that knitted themselves into our Constitution flowed from the French Enlightenment, some of those principles also flowed from pure, unadulterated greed. The entire southern economy was built on stolen labor — slavery. That is what slavery is ultimately, stolen labor. A slaver wants a slave to work for zero pay. Sure, the slaver will have to feed, clothe and house the slave, but (the fact that slavery thrived in America proves the point), those costs must have been negligible compared to the profit one could make off the actual slaves themselves.

To this day, people will argue — thinking it’s a good argument — that, without slavery, the south could never have had an economy and thus neither could Early America. First, that means America can only happen with slavery in the picture. Bullshit. Most of Europe got rid of slavery and built their economies just fine without it. They may have enslaved the lower classes indirectly and in a thousand other ways, but, at least they quit buying and selling humans in public. Republicans don’t want Americans learning Critical Race Theory because, being conservatives, they want America to live in the past but they don’t want America to examine the past (because then they wouldn’t want to live in it). If conservatives really believed that getting all Americans to live in the past was a good thing, they’d package it that way.

Conservatives are very good at packaging things. Being cynical, they understand how to direct message. The world is black and (especially) white to them. Whatever they feel matters more than any fact ever could. Therefore, the Truth is whatever they say It is. If, they say “Mission Accomplished” then whatever the mission is, as far as the Republicans are concerned, that mission is as “accomplished” as it’s ever going to be. Of course, the mission wasn’t accomplished. We should never have invaded Iraq — another awful idea. We should never have changed our objectives on the fly in Afghanistan.

Bad ideas flow from Republicans like pus from a wound. Trickle down economics? Bad idea. Tax cuts for the wealthy? Bad idea. Refusal to admit climate change is real and it’s being sped up by human activity? Bad idea. Making church and state the same thing? Bad idea. Poll taxes? Bad idea. Separate But Equal? Bad idea. Slavery itself? Horrible idea! Segregation? Bad idea. Refusing women the vote? Bad idea. Citizens Unlimited? Bad idea. Making Donald Trump their 2016 nominee despite knowing Russia owned him (as GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy himself put it: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”) Bad idea. Obstructing justice on Trump’s behalf? Bad idea. Taking part in the January 6 insurrection? Bad idea.

I could go on… and on… and on.

As the Reagan years waned, the Right Wing Money saw diversity’s handwriting on the wall of America’s future. That terrified them because it meant that after 200 years of bamboozling the rest of America into believing that “All men are created equal” referred only to them, the rest of America was done with being bamboozled. America has always been a great idea poorly executed because white people selfishly held America back. Fortunately, that bad idea has run its course.

The only real idea conservatives and Republicans have in their heads is permanent minority rule. That would be originalism’s natural, organic conclusion: the “originals” get to run America forever just because they say so. Talk about a crap idea! That is what has been metastasizing all along in real time. Unable to get the Constitution itself to go along with their bullying, Republicans in Texas devised a way for ordinary citizens to do the hard work of keeping women in their place. Republicans in the rest of America have already seized on this cancerous idea and begun to metastasize it even further. They want to make this cancer even more cancerous still.

What makes this idea even worse — from the conservative perspective — is that the short term gains (putting women in their place) will be superseded by electoral oblivion when those same women show up en masse to vote out every Republican they can. It is a very bad idea to take away anyone’s rights; they’re not going to take it well — or take it PERIOD. The Republicans probably expect to slowly squeeze the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness out of America but they’re going to be shocked by what America does.

In all the places where authoritarianism and fascism succeeded, it did so in homogenous environments like Germany where everyone (fascists and non fascists) were German. Their families were German (or proto-German) for a millennium at least. Their whole culture was homogenous. Same goes for any place where authoritarian power ruthlessly asserted itself: it’s always done so in a relatively homogenous culture. That’s not the case in America. For the first time ever in human history, a nation has been slowly building itself using other nations to supply the people. That’s the whole point of America and the American dream: anyone from anywhere can come here and — provided they’re willing to put in the sweat equity — reinvent themselves and their futures. In America, the past is NOT prologue.

The world has flocked to America — bringing its great ideas with it. America is what happens when great ideas flourish. But, our present is what happens when a bad idea — permanent minority rule — tries to bully a good one: diversity. The best way to deal with a cancer is to either radiate it out of existence or excise it outright as soon as possible. That is exactly what America must do.

Because it’s a really good idea.

Icing v Cake

How many times has a cake with amazing icing disappointed because the cake itself — even if it was good — simply couldn’t match the icing’s enticing promise? Or, more basically, how would we feel about being served a piece of cake that promised greatness but delivered its opposite (while making us physically sick)? . Icing’s a great metaphor. It sets up a promise that the cake beneath better deliver on — that’s how “cake” works,. The icing in the brick designed cake above is funny, clever and a great enticement to sample the cake within. But, what if the situation was reversed slightly. What if beneath every bit of icing meant to look like a brick was a real brick? Okay — clever icing but it leads to a terrible final experience — no one wants to eat an actual brick, right? Or, even if we iced the brick with the best butter cream icing available? We can make that brick look incredibly appetizing — until the moment you bite into it and wreck your teeth. Expectation v Reality. And sometimes? Flat out bullshit v reality.

Sometimes we go even further: we sugar coat poison then serve it up to people.

Politics is “Icing v Cake” on steroids. So’s religion. That’s what makes both so vulnerable — the most toxic political or religious cake can be hidden beneath Kool-Aid flavored icing a la Jonestown. Nobody went to Jonestown to die. That wasn’t the “icing” they bought into. They had no idea how diabolically evil a cake Jim Jones was baking for them all. “The Peoples Temple” sounds lovely because it’s icing. Consider what that icing looked like BEFORE the massacre: The Peoples’ Temple that Jones founded in 1955 was racially integrated and counter-cultural; Jones advised his adherents to live a communal, socialist life style filled with shared purpose. Strip away fifty years of accrued cynicism and you can sorta kinda recall how much more “innocent” we were. Innocence and icing love go hand-in-hand. That’s not a knock, it’s just a fact.

Most of the 918 people who died at Jonestown walked in the door expecting one thing — the glorious icing of happiness but, instead, ended up dead because the cake itself was utterly poisonous. Figuratively and literally.

The Republican Party is another “Icing v Cake” situation. Their icing says they’re a political party. The cake beneath is something entirely different. The cake — and we’ve experienced samples of it for five long years now — is flavored with greed and power lust and even treason. The odor it gives off is pure, unadulterated corruption. Our news media however cannot see the cake below the GOP’s deep red surface. To them, it’s just a red cake doing things red cake does. They’ll even ask the red cake how it tastes — not an unreasonable question but you have to know as you ASK the question that the answer is going to be totally biased. “I taste great!” says the red cake even though, fact is, it tastes like an anal wart covered in putrescence.

That’s like asking a racist if they’re a racist. How the hell would the racist know? He’s too much of a racist to give you any sort of an honest answer. Want to know if someone’s a racist or if the cake they made tastes okay? Ask someone ELSE. And don’t ask someone who hasn’t sampled the cake, ask someone who’s experienced racism directly. Even better, ask someone who’s experienced the racist’s racism directly. They’ll tell you — even as the racist shakes his head in earnest denial — not only THAT the racist is a racist, but just how MUCH of a racist the racist is. Racism, of course, is one of the cakes always available in America.

Cleaning up America’s cake is going to take some time. Republicans and conservatives have been hard at work the past decade destroying our pantry, making our stored ingredients vulnerable to rats and roaches and other gnarly creatures. Worse yet, Republicans sold us out to their crazy friend Vladimir. What else are we to make of “icing” that looks as screwed up as this —

Alas, our news media are icing junkies who have a limited tolerance for cake. That’s a product of “both sides do it” journalism which insists that both sides make exactly the same cake; they just frost them differently. That is absolutely not so. Republicans like their cake dry as hell — white as hell, too. Angel food is ideal because it’s white. Any chocolate on it better come from a jar so they “keep a lid” on it at all times. Progressives and most Democrats are far more open-minded about cake. They make a point of embracing all the kinds of cake there are — especially the multi-colored kind with the chocolate icing.

Marie Antoinette famously said (was famously misquoted actually) “Let them eat cake” when told the peasants of Paris were starving because they had no bread to eat. What she really meant, of course, was let them eat icing. Rich Marie knew better than to promise the rabble anything as nourishing as cake.