In “Both Sides Do It” World, A Politician, A Criminal And A Public Servant Are All The Same Thing

American journalism has a lot to answer for. Given multiple opportunities to be the new Woodward-Bernstein, most American journalists chose to be Judith Miller instead. Judith Miller was the vaunted New York Times Reporter with the remarkable inside access to the George W. Bush White House and to the office of Vice President Dick Cheney in particular. The cost of that access was any pretense that Judith Miller would tell the truth about Dick Cheney and the mountain range of corrupt behaviors Cheney and his office perpetrated in order to put and keep America at war with Iraq. Cheney’s chief of staff Scooter Libby was convicted of leaking the identity of covert intelligence officer Valerie Plame. To Judith Miller, getting and maintaining access to a source (even if it compromised her capacity to tell the truth) was more important than telling the truth. Judith liked the power access gave her. And, frankly, the naked cynicism fit better than the skepticism she’d never quite mastered.

Skepticism v cynicism. That, in a nutshell, is where American journalism went wrong. Skepticism is harder by a long shot. It requires perspective. “Is that really so?” and “Why IS that exactly” should be the guiding principles. The journalist has to appreciate at all times that the story she’s focusing on is a tile in a much larger mosaic. How does that tile fit into the larger picture? That’s a skeptic’s question because it assumes a complex world. Cynics, on the other hand, assume only simplicity. Every story can be boiled down to one opinion versus another. He said, she said. But, if you walk in the door assuming everyone’s an honest actor — or that everyone’s a dishonest actor — you’re going to mis-frame your reporting because neither assumption is true.

A skeptical journalist – bringing perspective to the table – looks and listens for subtle clues that what they’re seeing and hearing has the ring of truth. When they see and hear those signs, the story takes a step forward because their skepticism has established to their satisfaction that their reporting can now add information upon which it can build. Adding information is how good, skeptical journalists build and tell a story. But a cynical journalist can’t do that because they can never establish to their satisfaction that anyone’s telling the truth. Or that anyone’s lying. If journalists won’t be the bulwark for what is versus what isn’t then their subjects will get to do it. That’s how Donald Trump managed to stand in front of the White House Press Corps for four years and spew pure, unadulterated bullshit with only the occasional whimper of complaint.

Counting Trump’s lies was great sport. It didn’t stop him from lying. Perhaps if the White House Press Corps had — just once — walked out en masse (and on camera) in order to make the point: STOP LYING TO US! But, of course, doing that would have risked access to an historically hypersensitive POTUS. Yes, on the one hand, if you’re not there to ask a question, you can’t ask a question. But, then, OTOH? Are you really asking any kind of meaningful questions? It’s all access for the sake of having access. That is pure cynicism.

Let’s compare public servant Adam Schiff to public servant Matt Gaetz.

While in high school, Schiff was both class valedictorian and the student voted by his classmates “most likely to succeed”. He got a BA from Stanford in poli sci and his JD from Harvard Law School. Those are nice names to have on your resume. They don’t automatically convey anything however. Donald Trump has Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania on his CV. Without daddy’s money, Trump wouldn’t have been allowed in the dorms at either institution never mind the classrooms. After law school, Schiff clerked for a judge in California then became an assistant district attorney. He first ran for office in 1994 (but lost), trying again (and succeeding) in 1996. Since then, Adam Schiff has epitomized the very notion of what a “public servant” should be.

Schiff’s closing remarks delivered during Trump’s first impeachment pretty much sum up his public servant bona fides…

Matt Gaetz is one hundred percent the Goofus to Schiff’s Gallant.

In Gaetz’s defense, there’s nothing wrong with being mediocre. Gaetz was an unremarkable high school student, an unremarkable undergrad at Florida State University and an unremarkable graduate of the William & Mary Law School (the country’s oldest, by the way). In 2008, Matt had a run-in with the law after cops pulled him over and booked him for a DUI. Strangely, though Matt SHOULD have lost his license, he didn’t. Pays to have connections apparently.

After a year of “private practice”, Gaetz did what his father and grandfather had done — he ran for office (as a Florida state rep). Having more money than any other candidate in the Republican primary got him through a crowded field. Having waaaaaay more money on hand than his Democratic opponent made a huge difference in the general election which Gaetz won handily. Having a little political power in his hands brought Matt Gaetz’s base awfulness to the surface.

A taste: Gaetz proposed legislation that would hasten the execution of many inmates on Florida’s death row, he joined State Senator Greg Evers in proposing legislation to eliminate the federal ethanol content mandate that 10 percent of gasoline sold in Florida contain ethanol and he was one of two members of the Florida House to vote against a Florida bill against revenge porn in 2015, after having successfully blocked the bill previously.

In 2016, Gaetz took his act national to the US House of Representatives. As we’re about to learn from the flipped testimony of Gaetz’s buddy former Florida Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, the answer to question “Are you a pedophile?” is “yes”.

And lest we forget — Matt said this:

In theory, both Adam Schiff and Matt Gaetz are “public servants”. From the news media’s point of view — that’s certainly true. But beyond the label, the two have zero in common.

But, from a cynical news media’s point of view, that fact’s irrelevant. They’re both “politicians”, too. If Matt Gaetz is also a criminal? Then what’s to say Adam Schiff isn’t one too?

Or, conversely — if Adam Schiff is a paragon of political virtue and public service then so is Matt Gaetz. From the news media’s point of view, who are they to say otherwise? Well, actually, according to the Constitution, they are the ones we most NEED to say otherwise — to employ their most skeptical instincts as the final check on raw political power.

When this assault on our democracy is finally laid to rest — as it will be — after we’ve finished investigating and prosecuting every last perpetrator (to leave an unprosecuted would invite them to try again), we need to turn our focus on the news media. We need to force some very real, very hard self analysis upon them. We need to rub their noses in “both sides do it”. It’s the only way to make them feel the disgust the rest of us feel about it.

We’ll know we’re finally making headway when wastes of carbon like Chuck Todd finally get kicked to the curb.

America’s founders didn’t intend to create a binary political environment but their refusal to outlaw slavery at the outset pretty much guaranteed that America would always be binary — pro-slavery v anti-slavery. Take this to the bank: pretty much every white supremacist would vote to bring back slavery if they could figure out a way to get it onto a ballot somewhere. That’s why their “public servants” — like Matt Gaetz feel less like servants and more like co-conspirators to commit a crime. That’s what they’re doing — committing crimes. But, in order to see that happening, you must have perspective.

A news media that really and truly believes that all politicians and public servants are criminals because some are isn’t doing the democracy they’re serving any favors.

Imagine Hating “The Other” So Much You’d Infect Your Own Children To Prove How Much You Hate

You can’t blame humans for being tribal. We’re social creatures. Tribalism is a survival technique hardwired into our genome. We will more likely thrive if those around us thrive. Or because those around us are thriving. More importantly — from a purely animal point of view — our genome wants our children to thrive in order to carry our personal genes forward. Life doesn’t get any more purposeful than that. In theory then, each and every one of us is programmed to do whatever it takes to give our children the best possible chance to have the best possible future. If the The Weather Channel suddenly forecast localized hellfire from above and recommended staying indoors until the freakish storm cell blew over, pretty much everyone would make damned sure their children weren’t outside playing. That is unless you hated your children.

Or hated someone else so much you’d toss your own kids onto the flames just to keep that hate fed.

That is how much the right wing in America hates everyone else. That’s the white, Christian male part of America plus their camp followers. Make no mistake. This is about a handful of wealthy, white Christian men protecting their political hegemony using the tribal-based fear of their underlings.

In a sense, one can “understand” the Republican Party (now fully exposed for the corrupt treason weasels they are) resorting to The Big Lie to manhandle power back from the People. Every single anti-voting law every single Republican has drafted is one hundred percent about either limiting who can vote or whose votes will be counted. Democracy, alas, poses an existential threat to the Republican Party just as progress poses an existential threat to conservatism. If Republicans could win elections on the strength of their ideas, they’d be doing it. By the same token — if Republicans thought all those impoverished people streaming northward toward our southern border were reliable Republican voters, they’d offer to limo them not only past the customs line but right to an employment office where they’d be handed both a well-paying job and an American passport.

The whole point of gerrymandering is to deny the majority their rightful voice and their rightful choices about public policy. It’s minority rule on the hoof. And the whole point of denying the majority its voice is because you’re afraid of the majority, of what the majority might do. Like, thrive, for instance. The conservative perspective cynically assumes that if someone not of their tribe thrives, as a result, someone of their tribe will fail to thrive as a result. They can’t imagine a tide that lifts all boats. All they can imagine is a tsunami that only their boats can even tolerate. Screw everyone else.

There’s a moment in the film “The Usual Suspects” where — as the legend of Kaiser Soze is being related — we learn just how much of a stone cold criminal he is. Though a rival gang boss held his wife and children hostage, Soze would not bend and used his family’s brutal murder to motivate his even more brutal takedown of the whole rival gang. Screw me? No — screw you, pal. Screw you to death.

The same yahoo’s who can’t abide being told they must wear a mask to enter someone else’s business have never EVER said a word about signs that read —

Perhaps if we retooled those signs this way, they’d shut up —

Those same yahoo’s don’t have a problem when their public schools won’t let their kids matriculate unless their kids are vaccinated against certain highly communicable, very dangerous diseases. They have no problem when the jobs they apply for have certain prerequisites. They have no problem demanding the people they hire have certain prerequisites in their pocket (and in their experience database). Yet, suddenly, when politics come into play, nothing else matters except having their way. Even their own life experience — things they saw and heard — can be denied if the end result isn’t to their liking.

No, January 6 was not in any way, shape or form, some “normal tourist visit”.

To assert that is to actively decide “I will deny reality” because my political ends demand it”. Vaccine denialism is no different. President Biden succeeding at lifting the pandemic’s hold is political poison to the GOP. But, it’s not merely about taking back power for the sake of doing it. The Republicans know that should they NOT take power back — and permanently — the terrible truth about what the Republicans did because Donald Trump and Russia compelled them to will not only get revealed but be the basis for terrible, terrible punishments. The majority of Americans, Republicans rightly fear, will become incredibly angry at them. Angry enough to insist they all get put away in federal prison forever.

Refusal to get vaccinated goes even further down this rabbit hole because it’s not just the Republicans themselves that the Republicans are putting at risk, it’s their own families, their own children. But, that is how deeply Republicans hate and hate the rest of us. They don’t honestly fear the vaccine. They’ve been vaccinated countless times before. They don’t fear getting Covid 19 because they believe in magic and believe magic (that their genome is so superior that pathogens that infect others won’t hurt them) will protect them either from the virus or from the virus visiting its worst upon them.

That “magic” is pure racism.

It would be bad enough if this Republican insanity threatened only their tribe — which, right now, that’s what it’s doing. Republican refusal to mask or get vaccinated is why the pandemic is raging again where the political map is red (or like here in Southern California where lack of any kind of travel restrictions make us a giant collecting pool for who knows how many unvaccinated peoples’ virus loads on top of the viral loads already festering in the red parts of LA County). When Republicans use “science” as the basis for their nonsense, they’re not using science, they’re using the word “science” cynically (in the same way they cynically use the words “election security”).

Republicans are a doomsday cult on a doomsday mission. When they hitched their wagon to Trump, they knowingly hitched their wagon to Russia, too (current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously told a roomful of GOP leaders a month before the GOP nominated Trump in 2016 that “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump, swear to God!”) Around that same time, don’t forget, Mitch McConnell told President Obama at a Gang Of Eight meeting (where Obama wanted them to sign off on his telling America that Russia was actively working to tilt the election to Trump) that if he did that, he, McConnell would insist that Obama was politicizing the intelligence. Get it? The Republicans did NOT want America to know THAT Russia had influence over Trump or HOW MUCH influence Putin had over Trump. Instead, they let a photo do their talking…

It was hard enough imagining that Republicans hated the rest of us so much that they sold us out to Vladimir Putin. It’s even harder to imagine that the Republicans hated us so much that they sold out their children — just to deny the reality the rest of us live in. They really are saying — out loud — “Y’all can love your children enough to keep em alive! We ‘love’ ours so much, we’ll kill em instead of living in a world where YOU have any sort of political power” over them.

That’s a hell of a lot of hate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin McCarthy & How Bullsh*t Metastasizes

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Karma’s A Stone Cold Bitch: Mitch McConnell Thinks He Can Kneecap Democracy Edition”

Gulp! Moscow Mitch McConnell looks behind — sees Karma gaining on him fast! Inside his turtle head, he thinks “Please, Turtle feets, don’t fail me now!

In the pantheon of corruption, Mitch McConnell holds a very special place.

Mitch is all about money and power. Those are his constituents and the people of Kentucky can go eff themselves as far as Mitch is concerned. Same goes for the rest of We The People. Mitch McConnell wants to save the filibuster and stop Americans from voting and become majority leader one last time before he withers away. Mitch’s problem is he doesn’t want to die in federal prison. He’s guilty of multiple instances of public corruption, obstruction of justice and outright TREASON. He’s always counted on getting away with it all — as white, Christian men of privilege always have in America.

Unfortunately for Mitch, that’s about to change. Even if we set Russia aside for the moment, it’s a stone cold fact that the investigation into the January 6 insurrection will find and prove clear cooperation and planning between the insurrectionists and the Trump White House. Nothing about the insurrection was spontaneous — including Trump’s reaction to it. Considering Russia’s involvement in everything else Trump did, it defies logic to expect that Russia had zero to do with the insurrection. Of course they did. The insurrectionists, whether they know it or not (it does not matter), allied themselves with Russia’s purposes. And Russia, we know, is actively engaging in a cyber war against us. And cyber war is as much “WAR” as any other sort of war.

If we ask the question “Which side of the cyber war does Mitch McConnell fight for?” the answer is Russia. Take this to the bank: Mitch’s name will soon replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet Americans use when they want to brand someone a “traitor”.

When we get to the end of this sorry-assed saga, Mitch McConnell will stand as one of American history’s uberest Uber-Villains. His name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet hurled when you want to call someone a “traitor”. If you want to know just how severely damaged Moscow Mitch is — he’s a lonely bully having his revenge on the rest of the schoolyard — read Jane Meyer’s excellent piece on Mitch in the New Yorker. The schoolyard is about to put an end to that.

Even so, the schoolyard isn’t Mitch’s biggest problem. THAT would be Karma. And Karma has big, BIG plans for Mitch because Mitch has created so much horrible Karma himself. At the end of the day, it will be Karma that has the very last laugh where Mitch is concerned. I think it’ll go something like this…

The end comes… Mitch dies and finds himself reincarnated as “Mitch McConnell:  Toilet Brush” —

A Toilet Brush or Mitch

Poor Mitch. What a come down! Ah, but that’s not the worst of it… ‘MITCH THE TOILET BRUSH‘ lives HERE —

WORST TOILET

Mitch is the “Official Toilet Brush” for the most horrible toilet in the world. Ah, but even that isn’t the bottom. Mitch’s toilet lives at a REFUGEE CAMP where CHOLERA just broke out!

Refugee Camp

And there’s already a LINE to use Mitch’s Toilet (and every last person in line has EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA) —

line of refugees 1

  And that line goes on…

Line of Refugees 2

And on…

Refugees3

And on… And STILL, it gets worse for Mitch — Cos THIS is the creature at the very end of that line…

Monster at end of line

And it doesn’t make ‘dainty’ piles like THIS —

pileofcrap

Nope — it produces an endless stream of foul-smelling poison as toxic as Mitch’s ‘soul’. And just as Mitch sees how massive and unending that STREAM OF LIQUID SHIT IS

He wakes up — and realizes it was all in his head — A DAYDREAM!

And that makes Mitch happy (even happier than Koch Money does when it lines his pockets — and that’s a lot of happy).

Happy Mitch

Everything, Mitch realizes, is back to normal.  And he turns to go about what he was doing (before that awful daydream) and he reaches out TO SHAKE THE HAND of THIS MAN —

THE HANDSHAKE

And the KARMA TREE starts all over again…

Forever and ever and ever… Hey, Karma: Three, two, one — GO!

Republicans, The Big Lie And Bullsh*t Kabuki

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things Both Sides Don’t Do

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both sides don’t favor profits over people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I could go on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, hey, a boy can dream, can’t he?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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