Personal Freedom V The Group’s Freedom: Who Should Win?

The word “freedom” is like the word “God”. Ask ten people what it is, you’ll get ten different answers. And just like the idea of “God” is limitless, so, too, is the idea of freedom. That would be awesome if everyone’s idea of “God” was the same. We’d all be talking about the same creator-of-everything using the same language. We don’t, of course.

What makes it more problematic is that some peoples’ idea of “God” contradicts other peoples’ idea of “God”. Their conflicting ideas (God’s a raging psychopath vs God is love) can’t co-exist.

Similarly, if your idea of “freedom” is having all the guns you want, of any caliber, which you can fire freely from your front door at all your neighbors’ houses, that’s probably going to bump against your neighbors’ idea of freedom if they think it means NOT getting shot by you. Someone’s going to walk away from this feeling “less free”.

Right wingers are all about celebrating the rugged individualist — the “I alone can fix it” guy whose genius deserves every penny that falls into his pocket. Too bad that guy doesn’t exist. Only a male could think “he alone” could fix anything. Horse shit. There is not a human being in the whole history of humans who did anything alone. A woman would never say that because women know — biologically — how impossible it is.

A woman can’t get pregnant alone. It takes a male to do that (although women can orgasm alone just fine without their orgasm causing pregnancy). And once a baby begins growing inside of her, she knows she will need at least one other person to help get the baby out. Yes, yes, she could birth the child solo. But if she can’t get food for herself — because exhausted — she won’t be able to feed that baby and both mother and infant could die. Death and childbirth have a long history together and that’s WITH tons of help.

Then to raise that child? To feed it, educate it, clothe it, entertain it, put up with it — it takes a village just like Hillary Clinton once wrote that it does.

No group? No individuals would be there to join it or be part of it. The group wins right there. The individuals need the group more than the group needs any particular individual.

When RW shitheads walk around Coronavirus World maskless, they’re making a political statement: no one’s the boss of them. If they have coronavirus — or even a common cold — they believe it’s their RIGHT to give it to you and you have no “right” to refuse it. Sure, maybe you could try a little harder to not breathe in the RW-ers viral particles — no one’s “making you” breathe those. But that’s just putting the onus on others to prove their rights are as good as the RW-ers rights.

The simple fact is all “freedom” has limits. It has to or it becomes destructive. Have all the freedom of speech you like but if you shout “fire” in a crowded theater, you’ll also have a legal problem. Your freedom likely caused harm and even death to others.

No American is free to drive as fast as they like down a neighborhood street. No American is free to set fire to their neighbor’s house. No American is free to stop another American from voting. See? Limits.

Ever see a sign like this — “No shoes, no shirt, no service”?

Ubiquitous in some places, right? No one really ever had a problem. They get it. No shirt or no shoes is kind of unsanitary when you walk into an eating establishment. No mask shouldn’t make any difference to you walking in.

A lot of our freedom springs as much from common decency as law. Divorce freedom from decency and you get anarchy — and not the good kind either. It would be swell if humans could live in freedom and harmony with each other. A lot of us can. But we’re not the problem here.

In personal freedom world, your freedoms end where mine begin and mine end where yours begin. If we really want to live that way then either we’re always negotiating with each other — with one of us winning and the other losing. In Group Freedom World, we all understand where our freedoms begin and end. That’s because in Group Freedom World, freedom isn’t “free”. It comes with responsibilities and obligations.

Voting, for instance, shouldn’t just be a “benefit” of freedom, it should be an obligation. Want freedom? Maintain it. Likewise it’s an obligation to make sure that every single American gets to practice the exact same freedoms. If one single American isn’t getting every bit of their group freedom then the group is failing. We can only be as free as the least free among us.

When a mass shooter finishes killing, our first question is “who’s responsible for this?” That is, who beyond the shooter himself? The irony is WE are responsible for allowing this individual to think they could do this — assert their freedom over everyone else’s. The second amendment is a gun control amendment. That’s what the words themselves say (“well regulated militia” seems to suggest a group run by rules not guns). And the amendment says that the militia gets to decide to “keeps and bears” those arms. The amendment doesn’t say “own”. That suggests that, at all times, the militia owns the guns (and then decides who keeps and bears them situationally).

Imagine if we taught young Americans what freedom was in the abstract — and that this benefit came with responsibilities? We could teach it alongside how the rest of our system of government works. It seems we’ve abandoned teaching our children what makes us special. America is special. It can be.

If we can live up to the ideals we were founded on, America will be special. Exceptional even. That’s the part where “all people are created equal” at least where the law is concerned. Where our freedoms are concerned too.

It only takes one personal freedom loving asshole to undermine everyone else’s idea of freedom.

Donald Trump Doesn’t Have An “Election Strategy” Unless We Count Cheating As “Strategy”

The news media uses the word “strategy” the way Wallace Shawn’s Vizzini uses the word “Inconceivable!” in The Princess Bride. As we all remember, Inigo Montoya’s notices how much Vizzini uses the word — and how conceivable all the inconceivable things actually are. Finally, Montoya calls him out on it —

Every single day, at least one journalist (and usually more) will ascribe what Donald Trump does and is doing to “strategy”. Do any of them know what “strategy” is? Strategy involves planning. A goal to get re-elected is not a plan. How one executes the goal — that’s the plan. To judge from what Donald Trump is doing, real people would be hard pressed to point to what Trump’s done in his effort to get re-elected that reflects “PLANNING”.

Making it up as we go along — the Trump playbook for everything — is not planning. It’s the diametric opposite. Trump’s mistrust of planning is why the novel coronavirus devastated America like nowhere else on the planet. Who the hell mistrusts planning FFS?

Trump didn’t have a “strategy” per se in 2016. From all accounts, Trump was counting on losing. He saw the presidential campaign as an exercise in brand-building. He wanted a media empire. Actually governing was never part of the plan because it’s not something Trump has any interest in. Money and power, yes. The responsibilities that go with it? No way.

What about this tweet —

— reflects a “strategy”? To do what? Expand his base? Attract black or brown voters? Attract women? This is not what one does to “win” an election. Not legitimately.

But then, that’s the point. This is about cheating again. Just like in 2016, the only way Donald Trump (like most Republicans) can win an election is by keeping as many people as possible from actually voting in it. Trump’s tweet is meant to intimidate. It’s meant to distract and distort and dissemble.

It’s meant to shovel bullshit onto a raging bullshit fire.

It sure would be swell if our main stream media could see things for how they are, not how they dream about them. Trump doesn’t “do” strategy just like he doesn’t do humility or compromise or research or anything every other potus could at least pretend to do.

Every time some weak-minded member of the media calls what Trump does “strategy”, they set the whole lot of us up for failure.

That shit’s gotta stop.

Here’s The Problem With Letting Religious People Run Things, Part One

An important moment in every kid’s life — an essential moment, really, that will dictate the course of the rest of their life — is the instant they realize that adults (pretty much all of them) are completely full of shit.

And adults ARE full of shit.

Adults want kids to believe they know everything while they absolutely don’t. Realizing that, some kids surrender immediately. They become cynical (and will stay cynical the rest of their lives). “People lie to you — that’s just how it is” becomes their mantra. That, in time, becomes “Both sides do it”.

Other kids become skeptical. They know not to trust adults. They trust their friends instead even though their friends know as little as they do. The problem: they know they have to trust adults sometimes. The question is when and how much?

A small sliver of kids are skeptical but with a twist. They don’t trust adults but they want to know why adults do what adults do. How did adults go from being kids like them to being “adults” who lie so easily?

The first inkling most of us got that adults weren’t being entirely straight with us was when they began introducing religion to the mix.

I went to Hebrew School for 8 years (ages six to fourteen). I’ve always been grateful to Hebrew School for helping make me the atheist I am today. I bet my experience wasn’t unique.

Being a kid, your mind is still relatively free of wackadoodle adult ideas. You’d ask why things happened and adults would spew an answer that, frankly, was just words to you. That the adult could answer the question — that’s what mattered. That’s what made you feel safe. The people you trusted trusted something — so therefore you trusted it too (regardless of whether you actually should or not).

And listening to adults tell you stories — that was de rigeur. Adults told stories all the time — to entertain you, to put you to sleep. No one said “But, this story? It’s not a story. It’s real and you need to believe every word of it“. That is, they didn’t until they got to THIS story — the one with “God” in it.

One of the great hiding places for “I don’t know” is religion: “I don’t know the answer to that but our religion does” is how it goes.

The problem is your religion doesn’t know the answer. It knows “an” answer and they’ll insist it’s “the” answer but that’s hyperbole not stone cold truth.

The men who wrote the texts we now call the Old Testament were trying to explain how we got here, why we were here and where we were going. They had pretty much their eyes and their ears at their disposal. That was it. No microscopes, no telescopes, no internet. Hell, the guys who wrote the OT and the NT had no idea that continents existed. They didn’t know that germs caused disease. They didn’t know that the earth rotates on its axis around the sun as part of a small solar system on the fringes of a massive constellation — one of potentially billions of constellations.

If the guys who wrote the texts that became the bible had known any of those things, do you think they would have written what they wrote the same way? Of course not. A lot of their questions would have been answered via science. There would have been unanswered questions — as there are now. But, if the scribe who penned “Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden” had known a little astrophysics and biochemistry? No way he’d have written what he wrote.

It seems crazy to let someone unclear on how to drive a car chauffeur you around but that’s what we do when allow people unclear on how reality actually works to legislate life and death decisions.

Would anyone really allow someone untrained in surgery but big on bible studies to operate on them? Would you remain seated on a plane if the pilot got on the intercom before they closed the doors and told everyone tonight’s flight will get to wherever it’s going on a literal wing and prayer. If the passengers don’t pray hard enough while the plane’s aloft? It could be over for all of them. Who’s staying put for that flight?

Who in their right mind would want someone else’s magical thinking making real life critical decisions for them?

Someone who believes that things happen because the angry deity in their head makes them happen will make decisions differently from someone who believes things happen for the reasons science says they do. They’ll make decisions about other peoples’ health care and safety and economic situation. If they turn up their nose at data — or what their constituents want — because their imaginary friend has issues with it? That’s a problem.

Here, in America, religious people long resisted climate change. Some still do because their angry god loves wiping out people and species. They’ve even concocted a whole apocalyptic story that they think will literally happen. Ummmmm, doesn’t anyone know what metaphors and allegory are? Don’t they get that the John who supposedly authored the Book Of Revelation that closes the NT (meaning, the early church, in editing what early church texts to include in the canon they were creating and which to exclude) wasn’t written as a literal description of anything.

But, here in America? Some of us take everything in the NT so literally that you can craft horror movies out of the mythology — it’s that nutso, that angry, that violent. Think “The Exorcist” or “The Omen”.

Our habit of letting religious people run things is why America’s the only industrialized country where — when disaster strikes — we’ll offer up “thoughts and prayers” to go along with whatever else we send you. Sometimes, those thoughts n prayers are all you’re gonna get.

Don’t get me wrong — thoughts and prayers are nice and all but — in a disaster? On a bad day even — that’s just you talking to yourself. Thanks anyway.

It’s Not Hyperbole: Donald Trump Is Not Now Nor Has He Ever Been Legitimate President Of The United States

Let’s start with this understanding — even in the world of beauty pageants, there are rules. There are laws even — and cheating even in something as trivial as a “who’s prettier?” contest — carries actual legal peril (beyond just losing a wardrobe department crown). Not that it ever stopped Donald Trump.

Our problem is so simple. We have only two political parties. They no longer want to live in (or govern) the same country. The Democrats want to live in this country. Republicans want to live in that country instead.

In this country, where the Democrats want to live, democracy rules. So do diversity, fairness and a level playing field. In that country, the one Republicans want to call home, there is no level playing field, there are just fields where the rest of us are meant to work our lives away for no money. It’s not a coincidence that during the Trump presidency, the rich have gotten exponentially richer. It’s also not a coincidence that the Covid-19 pandemic made the richest of the richer even richer still.

In pursuit of greed, The GOP sold out to the Koch Brothers & the Mercers then Donald Trump and his Russian Oligarch Pals (led by Vlad Putin). So long as they get richer and hold onto power, nothing else matters to Mitch McConnell and what remains of the GOP. Do ya suppose there’s a reason Republicans – and only Republicans – have worked so hard to suppress investigations into what happened during election 2016 and then lie about what those investigations uncovered? Donald Trump keeps projecting what happened. Why don’t we listen to him?

The word Trump keeps floating out there like a beach ball on a hitting T is “illegitimate”. He fears the world perceives his presidency as illegitimate. Why would that be, I wonder?

Sociopath though he is, Trump still knows enough to understand he can never stop being POTUS. The second he ceases to be protected by that ludicrous DoJ rules that says “sitting presidents can’t be indicted”, he WILL be indicted and he knows it. At the very least, Trump will go from being “unindicted co-conspirator number one” in the court case that sent Michael Cohen to prison to being INDICTED co-conspirator number one. Why wouldn’t he?

And — Trump knows this too — that first indictment will set off an explosion of falling dominoes across a variety of jurisdictions. Trump and his family and their businesses will get sued by virtually everyone. And law enforcement (now under the Rule Of Law again) will come after him for everything he’s done. They’ll have to because that’s what the Rule Of Law says they MUST do.

The Rule Of Law says Donald Trump has never been President of the United States. It can PROVE Donald Trump has never been POTUS. It has remedies, too.

An illegitimate POTUS never had the authority to nominate anyone for anything. It’s like any of us trying to nominate the next pope. We won’t be getting into that room actually. We don’t have the authority to be there. And if we walked in the door and voted anyway? Do you think they’d count it just cos we voted?

No.

And if we brought a gang with us (including our pal Vladimir) and took over the voting — cheating in myriad obvious ways to get a result that looks suspiciously wrong (as in the majority of bishops there did not vote the way the vote came out) — do you think that vote would stand up to any sort of historical smell test?

No, it would not.

Retrospect will not be kind to us. We have stood by for three years while a soft coup d’etat runs roughshod over and dismantles everything we thought we were. Our news media has convinced us that crimes committed against us — especially out in the open — can’t possibly be crimes. That’s it. That’s the logic.

And as faulty on its surface as that is, we need to see Donald Trump’s very legitimacy as faulty. The framing shouldn’t be “Donald Trump — an unusual potus — won an election so that’s just how it is”. It should be “Donald Trump is a traitor — working hand-in-glove with Vladimir Putin (and other foreign actors) — to circumvent the will of the American People — including his election and now re-election”.

This will matter “bigly” as Trump would put it (or “big league” — it’s so hard to decipher what that inarticulate shit gibbon is saying sometimes!) when we get to the prosecution and punishment phases of what’s to come. if the receipts prove that, in fact, Donald Trump’s election was fraudulent, then we need to consider the ripple effects of that fraud.

To go back to the beauty pageant — if I cheat to win and my cheating gets discovered? They ain’t letting me keep the crown or anything else that went with sweet victory. They’re taking it all back and kicking my lying ass to the curb — where it bloody well belongs. Car thieves (when caught) don’t get to keep the ride they stole. Even the movie “LaLaLand” had to give back the Oscar it thought it won (to “Moonlight”). The reason? The LEGITIMATE winner gets to keep the spoils.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s how it will be when the Rule Of Law becomes a “thing” again.

The Rule Of Law will insist that we prosecute everyone who violated it (especially if they were trying to undermine its very foundations). It will insist we do it fairly of course. And, if we find these people guilty? The Rule Of Law will insist that we punish them.

if we want to keep the Rule Of Law? We better do as it says.

And the Rule Of Law will insist that none of the judicial nominees Donald Trump nominated can remain on the federal benches they occupy — because Donald Trump never had the authority given him by We The People to nominate said judges. Stolen authority is not THE authority. Added bonus? Plenty of the judges Trump nominated lied repeatedly during their nomination hearings before the Senate. If they indeed committed perjury (boy, do we have receipts!), they can’t remain judges. We’ll impeach them — and they will be impeached.

We’ve traveled miles from where we began with the Trump saga. Imagine if, on the day Trump was sworn in, we’d been as vigilant about Trump, his corruption, his lies, his racism, his misogyny, his TREASON as we are now. Imagine if our news media had been capable of adding information so that their framing of Donald Trump constantly updated; we wouldn’t still be treating him like a “different kind of potus” as some of the news media still think of him. We’d be treating him like the treasonous, corrupt pretender he’s always been.

Yeah, I’m old enough to remember when saying Russia too loudly got eye rolls. When using the word “Traitor” got groans. When comparing Trump to Hitler ended the argument cos you went “there”. But “there”, it turns out, is where we all should have been.

Our choice is going to be incredibly simple. If we don’t void the results of election 2016 — if we allow criminals bent on undermining our democratic institutions to get away with it — we will be setting ourselves up for failure. It would be like letting racists get away with “Slavery, Part II”. Not outlawing slavery was a colossal mistake that will haunt the republic forever. We’re still fighting the Civil War. Make no mistake. It’s still a going concern.

And the same forces that betrayed us then for immoral reasons are betraying us now. They’ve never actually been down with representative democracy because people never want to vote for their ideas. They can’t grasp why no one else wants to live in the 50’s.

That’s the 1850’s.

When This Is All Done, Can We All Agree That Anyone Who Says “Nobody Coulda Seen It Coming!” Is An Idiot?

Nobody coulda seen a worldwide pandemic coming? Wrong. People like Laurie Garrett have been predicting it for years. Nobody coulda seen Donald Trump coming? Oh, please.

Fusion GPS c-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Intel Committee in August 2017 about what happened when Fusion did their due diligence before commencing the opposition research the Washington Free Beacon had hired them to do on Donald Trump. Simpson testified (to a Republican-led committee trying to undermine the Steele Dossier’s integrity), that what they found in publicly available material convinced them that Donald Trump had laundered Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos — which was why they sought out and hired Christopher Steele. Steele — former head of Britain’s MI6’s Moscow desk. No one had Steele’s contacts or deep background knowledge of how Russia worked.

Chris Steele certainly saw Trump coming. Even after no one was paying him anymore, Steele was still desperate to get someone — anyone — to look at his work (including, I bet, the very people who’d just hired him). It was Steele’s persistence that (eventually) got his raw intel into the hands of the late Senator John McCain.

Plenty of people saw Trump coming — and accurately predicted what would be the outcome of having Trump (literally) occupy the White House.

And nobody saw the explosive rage against racism coming? You’d have to be blind or conservative to think that way. This has been coming at us since the Republic’s founding because we thought slavery wasn’t heinous enough to banish from our shores. We compromised with evil. It was only a matter of time before the costs came due.

“Nobody coulda seen it coming” is what lazy-assed people say to themselves. It’s absolution by ignorance — and it’s bullshit.

In A Way, The Rule Of Law Is “Do Unto Others” With Teeth

The genius of our Constitution for all its failings — and it’s got some serious failings (it gave all the political power to white men and we’re still dealing with slavery ffs) — is its establishment of the Rule Of Law as its organizing principle. The bottom line for law-making isn’t the whim of some Donald-Trump-like king, it’s a mutually agreed-upon set of rules that go to great lengths to spell out what we can — and cannot — do to each other.

Put another way, the Rule Of Law describes what we can and cannot “do unto each other”.

Do something unto your neighbor that you legally shouldn’t (like, say, murder her?) — the Law will do unto you. The Law — striving for fairness (and wanting to give each of us the chance to do the right thing) — doesn’t look to see what’s in our hearts unless we violate the Rule Of Law. And then it wants to know “why?”

In asking “why” we broke the Rule Of Law, the Law wants to prescribe a cure — not just for the crime itself but for the motivation. Did you kill someone deliberately or accidentally? That’s an important distinction. And if you killed someone deliberately, was violating their rights part of your goal — because violating someone else’s rights is as bad as stealing from their house. You took something of theirs that was theirs. In other words — killing someone is one crime and killing them because of who they are — a thing they have the right to be — is another crime.

You didn’t just kill them, you killed their right to be them.

The overwhelming majority of us want the Rule Of Law standing between us. Our problem isn’t with the Rule Of Law after all, it’s with its unequal application. Like integrity, the Rule Of Law is an all or nothing proposition. You can walk around with 99% of your integrity intact, but eventually that 1% will catch up to you. It won’t say 1%. Corruption grows with coronavirus ferocity. Just like a virus, corruption reproduces inside of us; it needs to infect our cells so completely that we spew its darkness, infecting others.

And a lot of that infection goes on undetected. It’s the most dangerous part of the iceberg, lurking under the surface.

The majority of us want others to do unto us as we do unto them. We want to be treated fairly because we want everyone to be treated fairly and we want everyone to be treated fairly because we want to be treated fairly.

As I often say here, devout atheist though I am, I consider myself a big Fan Of Jesus. He is not the church that Paul built out of the idea of Jesus — the idea of Jesus as Messiah as opposed to Jesus as Teacher with a simple but profound message (Do Unto Others). Even a simple atheist like myself can manage to Do Unto Others without hurting ourselves — or compromising ourselves.

The moral outrage we all feel now like our skin was on fire is our “Do Unto Other” way of thinking colliding with hypocrisy. The people clutching onto power have always preached “Do Unto Others” without every practicing it themselves. Actually, they practice their own perverse offshoot — “Do unto others before they can do unto you”.

One place where the Rule Of Law differs slightly with Jesus is in its approach to “turning the other cheek”. The Rule Of Law says that if someone violated the Rule Of Law at your expense, you don’t have to turn the other cheek. You don’t get to seek revenge on them but you do get to instruct them — by pointing out in great detail what they did wrong — what that will cost them in time and heartache and financial loss — and how they might get better (so as not to do it again). Being human, we haven’t gotten everything about the Rule Of Law right.

As we know — we still haven’t gotten anywehre close to applying it equally.

But, as Jesus would have us do — we strive to be better. No one — Jesus included — ever said doing unto others was easy.

Why (Unfortunately) Twitter Matters

In a logical world, social media shouldn’t matter the way it does. In a logical world, everyone would have access to the same information. We all might judge it differently but at least we’d all be starting from the same place: a reality based on what we all agree we know.

I canceled my Facebook account a few years ago. I do not trust Mark Zuckerberg with my private information. I regret he has what he already has of it. I suspect Zuckerberg is compromised to a degree by the Russian money he took in to help keep Facebook afloat early on. I suspect Russia — and organized crime — have more sway than we know.

Facebook and its sister platform Instagram are designed like a neighborhood — in that one has to be “invited into it” in order to contribute to it. One can’t just walk in on someone else’s page; you have to be invited; you have to be friends. Twitter is structurally different. It’s almost exactly like a town square where everybody enters carrying a soap box. There are famous people — verified people — already standing on their soap boxes yapping away. In Twitter, one can follow anyone (until or unless they block you) and either listen to them quietly (having all their tweets in your feed) or answer back. If you answer back smartly, the person on the soap box might even follow you — and get all your tweets in their feed.

That’s the goal, of course — to attract as many followers so that every time you get up on your soap box to spew, you spew to thousands, tens of thousands… millions. One can dream, can’t one?

That town square structure — or think of it like Speakers Corner in London’s Hyde Park — is what makes Twitter truly dynamic. One can go there and simply “orate”. If one has zero followers, one is orating to oneself. But once you begin to build followers, once you begin to build that community — where you’re part of others’ communities while they’re part of yours — there’s a feeling of collective togetherness that I never experienced on FB. Yes, sure, there’s an echo chamber quality and one almost always preaches to the choir. And Twitter is toxic as hell — because some of the people in the town square are toxic.

All true. But the Twitter experience is unique and uniquely addictive. One can walk up to any other person on Twitter and tap them on the shoulder. They might not respond. They probably won’t. But then, they might.

Ask any Twitter user what their proudest moments have been on Twitter and, betcha, it will involve having a tweet liked by someone they respect and follow or, better yet, having that person re-tweet them. Or — best of all — getting followed back by that person they respect and follow. While FB made catching up with your high school homies easier (and boy, was that fun for about ten minutes), it doesn’t satisfy beyond that. At least, it didn’t for me.

Twitter’s founder, Jack Dorsey, said that his three guiding principles — which, he says, the company shares, are “simplicity, constraint and craftsmanship”. You can’t argue with Twitter’s simplicity. Christ, the only way to stress anything is via capitalization (shouting) or by using *s or “s. The saving grace is that photo or video attachments don’t count against your 280 character limit. That brings us to craftsmanship. Back when the limit was 140 characters, one really had to get an idea buttoned down tightly before tweeting. Tweets back then were way more cryptic.

But the limitation forced people to use craftsmanship. The 280 limit made tweeting easier. One didn’t have to rely on so many tweet threads to convey a simple point. Still — there’s something really satisfying about a great tweet. If we go back to the 140 character limit, it asks a question — what can you say completely in that amount of space?

You can tell a joke in 140 characters.

You can have a set up and a punch line — or a slightly complicated set up and a punch line or even a slightly complicated set up — with one more small, key detail — then a punch line. That’s it. 280 characters lets you add more details. Sometimes too many details. Though 280 characters still isn’t the endless page that FB gives you, people still tend to ramble.

Twitter’s town hall structure is exactly why news goes to Twitter to break. Tweets are news. While only 22% of Americans say they use Twitter, a good chunk of that 22% are the people who make news in one way or another. Donald Trump’s use of Twitter as his principle means of communication as president pretty much changed the game — and made having a Twitter account more or less imperative. That’s if you care to know what’s going on in the world.

On the one hand, it’s madness. On the other hand, it’s just efficient. Back in the good old days, news would break by means of a complex process of those making the news describing it for the news media who would then disseminate the light via newspapers & broadcast media to the plebeians out here in the dark. Back in the day, one would have to read a newspaper or catch the news when it was being broadcast in order to stay informed. Now, one only need open Twitter and scroll through your feed for a few moments (provided you’ve got a good, well-chosen feed representing both your Twitter community & the news/information voices you want to hear from) in order to feel informed.

What Twitter’s structure allows one to do — if one’s of a mind — is to create a network of voices you can trust. These days, one can’t simply “watch the news” to get informed. Our news media simply isn’t up to the task of covering Donald Trump. They’ve failed us terribly. To find the truth in anything one must triangulate it. One must approach it from three directions simultaneously. As chaotic as Twitter seems, one can do that. One can build a community of trustworthy voices.

One can build a community.

To his credit, Jack Dorsey invented a thing that never existed before — a virtual town square. And as crazy as it drives many of us, we can’t quit Twitter.

There’s greatness there. There’s putrescence. There’s beauty and compassion and there’s extreme cruelty, too.

There’s Donald Trump.

Twitter’s problem is it thinks it needs Donald Trump. It doesn’t. Hey — I’ve lost Twitter accounts. If I’m honest with myself, I went too far. That’s if I ask myself if I always used “constraint” — that other feature Jack Dorsey believes is part of Twitter. I once posted a movie image of a vampire being staked & said the GOP deserved to be staked like a vampire. That account? Gone.

I also told someone I hoped that they died in prison. That account? Gone.

For the past few days, Donald Trump — the POTUS — has been lying about vote-by-mail, he’s been smearing people — causing them or their families considerable heartache, he’s been lying in ways that are demonstrably bad for the public and its health. Constraint? Not a drop.

But Donald Trump’s Twitter account lives.

Having a virtual meeting place where one doesn’t have to be “friends” first before engaging with each other — where one can go and sample what others are thinking (perhaps even heckling respectfully or shouting encouragement) — works on multiple levels. That’s why Twitter works.

Twitter can never be a “respectful” place. But it can be a safer place if management would simply apply its rules equally.

Perhaps what’s needed is political leadership that will help Twitter rather than take advantage of it.

Hey, America, Don’t Forget: Republicans Are A Minority Party — By A Lot

Americans either can’t bear talking about politics or it’s what we obsess on. Politics are fraught wherever you go — in our time especially — but politics are especially fraught here in America. The divide seems more intractable than ever.

It is.

The way our news media reports it, America is split 50-50 between two equal arguments represented by two parties. Our founders did not intend for there to be political parties. But even at the country’s founding, we were split between diametrically opposite ways of approaching power. One favored federalism, the other favored the states. Either or. The first parties split along those lines and have never really wavered.

To assume Republicans (modern Republicans, not Lincoln’s Republican Party — read Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party and you’ll see how the two parties have, in essence, flipped identities) have an argument for power equal to the (modern) Democrats’ argument is to assume that “slavery” vs “no slavery” is an equal argument with equal merit. Of course those arguments aren’t equal. To give slavery any ground is to compromise what cannot be compromised.

It’s a bullshit discussion from the start. We shouldn’t be having it. There’s no possible middle ground.

And yet, we stand on it. Middle Ground that shouldn’t be. We can feel the intense dynamic pressure it creates every single day.

It’s why institutional racism runs so deep. It’s why we have armed men storming state capitols demanding they get to have hair cuts or mani-pedi’s the coronavirus be damned. It’s why women can’t get health care because men want to control their bodies. It’s why we have a health INSURANCE system instead of a health CARE system. It’s why students leave college and university with a mountain of debt on their backs. It’s why the rich keep getting richer while the rest of us struggle harder to make do with less.

It feels not only wrong but… incorrect. Like we’re being forced to live someone else’s life under someone else’s rules. We look around at our communities — all of us feeling the same helplessness — wondering why things don’t change — why the majority never seems to get what IT wants? How can this be.

The real problem is (ironically) what Spiro Agnew called “The Silent Majority”. There is a Silent Majority, it turns out — Democrats. There probably wasn’t even really a “silent majority” of conservative Americans back when Agnew claimed there was. Agnew was only thinking about white people anyway — a silent majority of WHITE PEOPLE. Now, polling says, the “silent majority” of independent voters (38% of us) vote Democratic.

Among voters who don’t regularly vote? The margin’s even bigger.

We can all feel it — the dynamic tension between a minority that somehow has the power and the majority that didn’t vote that way and wouldn’t have if they had showed up at the polls. The majority of Americans either lean Democratic or are Democratic — and that is the Republican Party’s existential problem.

As Donald Trump himself said out loud to Fox News — the problem with mail-in voting is that it compels more Americans to actually vote and when more Americans vote, “It’s bad for Republicans”. If more Americans voted, fewer Republicans would get elected — and America would already be a very different place. If only every American saw voting not just as some right they have but as their moral duty as citizens.

And yet… Americans are not flush with civic pride. We need to ask WHY?

Americans know less about their government and how it works than anyone who comes to this country seeking citizenship. They actually have to study our system.

Not to “both sides do it” but, in this instance, in their own ways, both sides brought us here. The Republicans have deliberately made Americans ignorant. They’ve made voting hard or not impossible for people of color all across America. They’ve fought vote-by-mail while relying upon it — or using it personally. They’ve favored ignorance over science in our classrooms — and made the teaching mantra “get a job, get a job” instead of “get an education, get an education”.

Democrats got smug. They gained national power during the Clinton years and forgot that real power starts on the local level — with school boards. To their credit, right-wingers and evangelicals ran for office at the local level all across the country. They took over the re-drawing of voter districts — and began gerrymandering. They took over statehouses and began making it harder for the Democratic majority to get what they wanted from government. Government began to break down. Changing it got harder — all because the Democrats took their eye off the ball: all elections are local elections and (in America) you have to motivate voters to be engaged every single day.

It’s frustrating to be a majority lorded over by a minority. That’s authoritarianism. At any point, the majority could take to the streets and bring the minority’s “government” down. Even Thomas Jefferson allowed that a little revolution was a good thing from time to time. Clearly a little revolution is what’s needed here.

Royalists have taken over the greatest experiment in human self government ever.

We need to throw these regressive bastards out. We need to restore America and its exceptionalism. That’s a real thing — American Exceptionalism. It isn’t white guys and their money, it’s diversity. Our diversity is what makes us truly unique in the world. Contrary to what Republicans will tell you, America has never been a celebration of the white man and the white man alone. Having decimated the native populations with our germs, we truly created a new country here without a past.

In essence, our past begins with the country’s founding. And, while the actual “founding” was done exclusively by white men, the country outside those doors where the founding was being done did not look exactly like them. While it was far whiter then, the innovation and energy demanded to not only found a democracy but keep it running — what kept it running even back then as it was being founded — was diversity. Americans who weren’t “white” and male.

The reason Republicans have to cheat to win elections is because the majority of Americans won’t vote for them. The majority of us want to live in a diverse future where as many Americans as possible prosper. We don’t want to live in a past where white men have all the privilege.

Shocking, right?

Why Do Assholes Think THEIR Freedom Is More Important Than Anyone Else’s Freedom?

Have ya heard the one about the asshole who refused to wear a mask — cos “freedom”? Sure ya have. Maybe the better question is how many times have you heard…?

This happened the past few days — an asshole walks into a Costco in Arvada, Colorado without a mask. The store has clearly posted that its policy — if you want to enter it — is you MUST wear a mask. An employee — acting respectfully at all times — confronted the customer and told him store policy was he needed to wear a mask in order to continue shopping.

The asshole turned on his phone and started recording the confrontation — thinking of course that his argument would crush this young man on social media. Problem was, the asshole was being an asshole on top of which, he was 100% wrong.

The social media threat backfired horribly. Tison, the employee — whether by dint of great training or because he’s just a smart person who understands how to handle a tricky situation calmly and directly. The video encounter can be seen here — at TMZ.

First things first: Tison, whoever you are — you’re a great employee. I’m sure you’d be a great manager or a great whatever you want to do. You know how to deal with people under duress and difficult circumstances. That’s harder than it looks.

The asshole makes a remarkable (though unsurprising) assumption — only his freedom matters. The asshole is right — he IS free to not wear a mask and be as big an asshole as he wants so long as he doesn’t break the law in any way. But his isn’t the only freedom under discussion.

The Costco Company also has freedom here. In fact, their freedom is no less than the asshole’s freedom. Their freedom should be exactly equal — and, so long as they’re not violating any laws or statutes, they are entitled to allow whomever they like into their stores. That’s their right — because they’re free.

Why do the assholes think their freedom is any more important than another person’s freedom? Oh, right — because they’re assholes.

Why Doesn’t Our Main Stream News Media Ever Ask The Most Important Question Of All: “WHY?”

The difference between good storytellers and bad storytellers is good storytellers know that a satisfying story will always answer the most important question of all about any character: WHY? Why did the character do what they did to propel the story forward?

Important distinction: “Just because” is not an adequate answer.

Funny thing? “Just because” is the answer 90% of our press seems to accept as “why” Donald Trump does what he does. Why does Donald Trump treat Vladimir Putin like a god? “Just because”.

Why do the Republicans let Donald Trump get away with dismantling the Constitution and the Rule Of Law right before our very eyes? “Just because”.

Why did Trump wait almost two months before doing a goddamned thing about the coronavirus pandemic coming at us? Why did he insist on America buying huge quanties of hydroxychloroquine even though we had no hard data that it was efficacious? “Just because”.

Weird, huh, that none of those “just bceauses” feels even remotely satisfying. Or true.

Take it from a professional storyteller — who relies on getting characters right because the instant we get a character wrong, the audience will bail — no one in the whole history of the world has ever done anything “just because”. They may not have been able to articulate what motivated them, but something motivated them. Even existential boredom — as a cause — shouts “motivation!”

There are myriad answers to WHY Donald Trump does what he does. None of it is a mystery. It is ludicrous that even now there are “journalists” who ask themselves, “Hmmm, I wonder why Trump did that?” as if a mountain range of data didn’t answer that question to a very fine point. Trump’s father and grandfather were unsavory men. Everything about Trump’s own personal history is redolent of bullshit and clumsy concoction.

Everyone in Manhattan knows the truth about Donald Trump — what he is (a con man) and what he isn’t (rich). FFS — as Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017 (when the Republicans in control were doing everything they could to undermine the Steele Dossier) — while doing their due diligence BEFORE BEGINNING their formal oppo research on Donald Trump (as they were hired to do by the Republican Washington Free Beacon), what they found in publicly available material (repeat — IN PUBLICLY AVAILABLE MATERIAL — accessible by anyone in the public and everyone in the news media) convinced them that Donald Trump had been laundering Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos.

Was anyone who watched Trump’s casinos GO bankrupt at the time thinking anything else? Of course not! We should ask (another time) — WHY did/does our main stream news media LET Donald Trump get away with so much obvious criminality over the course of his lifetime? What’s up with THAT? As I said — another time.

The answer to WHY? where Trump is concerned has always been there. It’s not hard. All one has to do is accept it (hell, Trump’s been confessing it all along!) Donald Trump is corrupt. Always has been. We don’t have to keep proving it. It’s as much a stone cold fact as “we are carbon-based life form”. Yes, we are. That is 100% correct.

Also 100% correct and 100% verifiable — Donald Trump has a long-standing relationship with Russia, Russian mobsters, Russian intelligence and Russian corruption. If we took what we have — in public — and took it to a civil trial (where all we need is the preponderance of the evidence — 51%), we’d win hands down. If we took it to a criminal trial — where we have to be dead certain?

Same result. We’ve got receipts. In our hands. We simply refuse to acknowledge that fact.

WHY, I wonder.

There’s not much the average citizen can do — even if they shout their heads off on Twitter to lots likes. We don’t have the kind of megaphone that MSNBC or CNN has. We don’t, most of us, have the followers that your average mediocre reporter does. Our voices simply don’t “broadcast” as wide as a working journalist’s does.

But, those journalists should know that We The People have deep concerns about how the Fourth Estate is failing to live up to its Constitutionally mandated obligation to be the final check on power and its abuse. Whether it’s lack of imagination, incompetence, lack of talent or curiosity, or just plain cowardice and corruption — they are failing us. And the tell is that strange refusal to ever ask “WHY?”

Why does Trump do what he does? Why did Mitch McConnell violate every “norm” imaginable to hijack the judiciary (oops — just answered my own question — silly me — Mitch did what he did TO HIJACK THE JUDICARY – for the very purpose he’s using it now!)

Why did Lindsey Graham do the strange back flips he did about Trump? Why does Devin Nunes behave the way he does? Why does Bill Barr regularly violate the spirit of the law like Brett Kavanaugh pumped up on beer at a frat party? Why did the Senate refuse to meet its obligation to America and convict Donald Trump of corruption?

“Just because”?

C’mon now. We all know the answers to these questions — even our main stream news media. When we turn off the cameras and get as up close and personal as social distancing allows — I betcha the overwhelming majority of them WILL say out loud what the rest of America has been screaming for years now: Donald Trump is a fully owned asset of Vladimir Putin & Russia.

And Saudi Arabia. And China. And the UAE. And Turkey. And Israel. And who knows who else.

We would have gotten to the end of this awful story we’re all living inside of eons ago if our news media had just asked “Why” and stuck to their guns about getting an answer before moving on to anything else. “WHY are Mexicans rapists?” “Why do you grab pussies?”

Hey, even ask WHY “but her emails” — especially now, in hindsight — with every member of the Trump family using private email servers just like they accused HRC of doing. Yes, please — ask “WHY?”

I’ll answer my own question — WHY does our main stream news media persist in doing this? Because “both sides do it” has distorted everything. If both sides do it, they both do it for the same reason: “politics”. See? Easy? No more worrying about the truth — the real WHY people do what they do.