On This Perverse Independence Day, A Reminder — American Exceptionalism Is REAL: It’s Our DIVERSITY…

Today may be July 4, but it doesn’t feel like a normal Independence Day. More like… Trumpendance Day. Not a national celebration, a national tragedy.

If our problem were only Donald Trump — his corruption, his crime family and their spider web of self-serving criminal enterprises — his treason — this “problem” would have been solved already. Not hyperbole: the entire Republican Party is evidently complicit in every last bit what Donald Trump is doing, has done — intends to do to what was the United States of America. Not to get too far into the weeds (there are so damned many) — The demographics clearly against them (remember those “demographics” — we’ll return to them shortly) — the Republican “brain trust” saw that the days of White, Christian hegemony over America were sunsetting — and fast. Popular vote numbers (and the more Americans who vote, the more Democratic we tilt) put the presidency (the Executive Branch) permanently out of reach. The Legislative branch also looked dicey. The one shot the Republican brain trust saw as a means to hold onto power: capture the judiciary. Fill the benches from SCOTUS on down with permanent appointees, every last one a cultural/legal troglodyte, wedded like a Bride of Christ to the idea that America needs to live in its Antebellum past.

Those people have hijacked the country. Before that, they hijacked the language (twisting “A well regulated militia” into “have all the guns ya want!”) and even history (going into the Civil War, not a single seceding Confederate state said a word about “state’s rights”. Every single secession document sites slavery as its reason for leaving the Union. The South proved the maxim — never mind who wins the war, what matters is who wins the peace that follows. The South managed to revise history to make us think we weren’t still arguing about slavery.

Those people — Conservative, white Christians — also have tried to hijack the idea of “American Exceptionalism”. They want everyone to believe what makes us different — special, damn it! — is white, Christian men and their money. That is prime, grade A bullshit.

American Exceptionalism is its diversity.

With the caveat that step one involved wiping out most of America’s native population (guns, steel and especially germs) — and with the added caveat that European populations were living in abject squalor while great civilizations thrived across North America — America was a kind of blank slate culturally and historically. Whereas the Gauls, the Celts, the Bretons, Aquitanians, Ligurians, and Germanic people arriving at the beginning of the Frankish Empire (481–843) would, in time, evolve into “French People” just as the Hun tribes in Germany became Germans, the Swiss became Swiss, the Spanish became Spanish and the Italians became a collection of disorganized city-states masquerading as a country, there were no tribes present on North America to eventually evolve into those “people”.

As I said, aside from the ones the arriving Europeans wiped out, THEY were the foundation for what became “Americans”. But not just Europeans. They weren’t the only ones here. There were still native Americans. And lots of Africans. There were, in fact, people from all over the world — here at the founding of the country and immediately thereafter. The white men who drew up the documents over-represented themselves and their interests — as wealthy white men always do. But the ideals transcended their narrow-mindedness.

Look at America’s history, who contributed to it, who BUILT the country, not just with their labor but with their passion, their idealism, their love of the idea of building something of your own creation — that you participate in governing. What a remarkable notion to spring from the minds of people who’d always been ruled over by kings and inheritors of power. No more inheritance — power would spring from the Will of The People.

And the people, as we know — as any Republican can tell you, their pearls clutched tightly — are, have been and are getting even more DIVERSE.

Happy Birthday, America. Happy Exceptionalism!

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How Many Republicans Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb? Zero — There’s No More House – They Burned It Down

I’m not the first person to compare Donald Trump to an arsonist who sets fires then calls the Fire Department — then does everything he can to get in the Fire Department’s way when they show up to put out the flames. Incompetence is bad. Malicious incompetence is worse.

Republicans going back to Lee Atwater — one-time head of the RNC, political consultant to Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush’s campaign manager — have taken not so much a Machiavellian approach to governing as the approach Sherman took to Atlanta — he burned down the idea of government for the people by the people of the people and put up instead a strategy based on culture war against the left and outright refusal to even compromise with anyone not a Republican.

WASHINGTON – MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater are young political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo By Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

If you can measure a man by the company he keeps, measure Lee Atwater by the company he CO-FOUNDED — with Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.

Quick — If Lee Atwater, Paul Manafort or Roger Stone (or anyone in the Republican Party) had great ideas to sell, don’t you think they’d have sold them to us instead of always relying on cheating? The Chuck Todd’s of the world will insist that “both sides do it”. I dare anyone to point to a similar outfit that uses dirty tricks, deception & flagrant dishonesty to further Democratic Party ideals and goals. It doesn’t exist because it just isn’t how Democrats think.

Atwater wasn’t the first American political consultant to play dirty. We’ve done that since the Republic’s founding. Atwater however brought media savvy to the dirty. He made the dirty dirtier.

In his time, Atwater used racism to help elect George HW Bush (the Willie Horton ads) and the inference that House Speaker Jim Wright was gay. Atwater went after the voting rights act (cos isn’t that what Republicanism really is about?) and gave this honest answer to a journalist’s question about Atwater’s thinking (I’ve softened the language — taking out Atwater’s repeated use of “the N-word”)…

Y’all don’t quote me on this. You start out in 1954 by saying, “N-word, n-word, n-word”. By 1968 you can’t say “n-word”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busingstates’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this”, is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N-word, n-word”. So, any way you look at it, race is coming on the backbone.”

Whatever ya say, Lee, whatever ya say… Newt Gingrich picked up the mantle when Atwater was gone — cut down at 40 by a grade 3 astrocytoma — an aggressive form of brain cancer. Gingrich turned a hose running lighter fluid onto what Atwater had started. We’re still living in the ashes.

To Atwater’s credit, when an aggressive brain cancer cut his life short, Atwater had an actual “Come To Jesus” moment. He saw (most of) the error in his ways. He realized how greed (for money and power) had skewed his values — and, in the pages of Life Magazine, Atwater repented:

“My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The 1980s were about acquiring – acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don’t know who will lead us through the ’90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.”

That “tumor of the soul” metastasized into Donald Trump. That sound you hear are the last embers of what was our Democracy flickering out.

Why The GOP Has To Die — And Why It’s Inevitable Now

“Why The GOP Has To Die” could be the subject of a book. Hell — a whole series of books. They’ve become the real life version of a story character that gets too close to the nuclear reactor core which makes their cells all go rogue. For a while they stayed recognizable but the damage is too extensive. Now their liver’s the size of a Pontiac and their thyroid glows in the dark. The radiation has metamorphosed them into a freakish Heironymous Bosch and William Blake love child.

Let’s be absolutely clear. The Republican Party gave up on electoral politics eons ago. There was no future in it for them. The handwriting on the wall said clearly “White Men Will Be The MINORITY Sooner Than You Think!” Republicans recognized that the executive branch of government was already gone (take Antonin Scalia out of Bush v Gore and Al Gore wins as he deserved to & Trump’s EC win was by a combined — and very dubious — 77,000 votes over three states COMBINED). They knew the Legislative branch also was dicey and getting dicier.

Their one shot at keeping power for now and extending now as far into the future as possible rested with gaming the Judiciary — and THAT has been the GOP’s whole focus. Mitch McConnell’s whole game plan was to hold off every possible Obama judicial nominee (especially the lifetime ones — and especially especially SCOTUS judges) to do what he’s been doing the last 2+ years — pack the bench with conservatives who will stand behind the gerrymandering and election fraud and voter suppression and utter disavowal of the Rule Of Law so as to enable permanent or near-permanent Republican rule.

Near permanent MINORITY RULE, that is.

The GOP does not care that Donald Trump has a treasonous relationship with Russia because THEY have a similarly treasonous relationship. Russia has poured millions & millions of dollars into Republican campaign coffers. Russia has worked to get Republicans elected over Democrats. That’s illegal on every single level — yet here we are.

The Republican Party has turned into every one of its very worst instincts juiced to its most perverse exaggeration. They are greed on steroids. Hypocrisy on steroids. Duplicity on steroids. Cold-hard-cynicism on steroids. They are Machiavelli squared, cubed and raised to a power of a thousand. The end justifies the means — and the means include murdering the whole planet.

Can people who think like this — who make deals with the worst devils imaginable — redeemable? They might be — I don’t care to find out. We’d have to gamble — betting on Republicans — giving them the benefit of the doubt. That’s a shaky house of cards to build on — even before ya start top loading it with bullshit.

It’s long past time we actually listen to Maya Angelou — when people (okay — when REPUBLICANS) tell you who they are? Believe them. The Republicans have told us repeatedly that they’re monsters — heartless, cavalier bigots, racists and misogynists hell bent on destroying the rest of us before we’re smart enough to destroy them first.

Republican extinction isn’t an “if”, it’s a “when”. They’ve held onto power as long as they have by suppressing the vote — both directly and by fostering a culture of ignorance where civics class means reciting the pledge of allegiance (and why would people in a free society have to PLEDGE their ALLEGIANCE to something — it’s a blatant contradiction of terms!) The massive non-voting part of the electorate has become woke. They’re like White Walkers in the always fearful Republican imagination — a legion of “Democrat”-voting creatures back from the electoral dead. When more Americans vote, it’s bad for Republicans, good for Democrats.

That fact means something. When more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats. That’s because the majority of Americans ARE Democrats — in heart if not by voter registration. A lot of them are socialists too — just don’t tell them; their heads will explode.

The most woke group of all — women. Black women. Women of color. African American women especially. Along with Native American women, African American women have been treated despicably. America has treated all women despicably but I hope you’ll indulge me here. The schoolyard’s been especially mean to those two groups and it has to stop.

As they assume more and greater political power, they will MAKE it stop. That’s the proof that Republicans will absolutely positively become extinct and probably before we all know it. They’ll collapse in a chaotic heap like the Soviet Union did, crushed by the overwhelming weight of its own corruption.

It can’t happen soon enough. Hell — I look forward to standing by the Republican Party’s grave — my “old fella” in hand — as I take a good, long, satisfying leak all over their headstone.

When The Time Comes To Give The American MSM Its Report Card For Reporting On Donald Trump – They’re Going To Fail – MISERABLY

Living inside a slow motion train wreck is wearing us out. We can see the catastrophe we’re heading toward. We can see what’s driving us there. But we can’t seem to find where the brakes are — or how to put our foot on them. A big part of what makes the experience so agonizing is the empty-headed way most of the news media has reported and continues to report this story.

Granted — we’ve never had a president before whose election would never have happened if not for the direct actions of a hostile foreign power — our main nemesis no less. Granted, we’ve never had a political party seemingly without any sort of moral compass whatsoever — whose sole mission is to get and hold power forever regardless of the fact that they are a shrinking minority. Granted we’ve never lived through a cyber war before.

The fact that none of those things have happened before should inform how we see, think of and report TrumpWorld. One way — the way our news media did it — is to shrug it all off with “he’s a different kind of potus”. He “speaks his mind directly”. He “goes with his gut”. That is all bullshit. There’s no such thing as “just different”. There’s a reason under-girding “different”: Donald Trump (like the rest of his family) is a CRIMINAL.

At this late date, that shouldn’t be a question. The only reason it is — our news media sucks. Back during the 2016 campaign, conservative web site The Washington Free Beacon hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Donald Trump. Fusion was co-founded in 2011 by Glenn R. Simpson, a former investigative reporter and journalist for Roll Call and The Wall Street Journal; Peter Fritsch, former Wall Street Journal senior editor; and former Wall Street Journal journalist Thomas Catan. Meaning — Fusion had rock solid investigative bona fides. They weren’t pikers — and they weren’t raving leftists either.

On November 14, 2017, Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Republicans — in total control of Congress at the time, remember — were trying to undermine the integrity of The Steele Dossier. They wanted to show that Fusion was biased; after the Washington Free Beacon stopped paying for Fusion’s research (March 2016), the law firm Perkins Coie, on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, retained Fusion to continue digging into Trump. But Simpson’s story didn’t go along with the GOP’s bogus narrative.

Simpson testified that the first thing Fusion did was its due diligence: they got their hands on every bit of publicly available material on Donald Trump.
They got ahold of every book, magazine or newspaper article, every radio or TV interview. They went to public libraries, scoured book stores and the internet. They looked at everything they could — and what they saw clearly in that publicly available material convinced them that there was enough evidence of Trumpian criminality (money laundering especially via his failed casinos) that it warranted hiring Christopher Steele to do further research.

Chris Steele’s bona fides were equally rock solid. He ran MI6’s Russia desk because he had rock solid contacts in Russia. No one in this part of the equation was doing anything nefarious. They were concerned professionals who’d stumbled upon some terrible truths — and wanted to know HOW true they were.

Fusion GPS and Chris Steele would both get A’s if we were grading them. Well-deserved A’s.

Everything I just wrote is true. It all exists in the public record. I’m just a guy tapping away on his keyboard. The American news media is supposed to be in the business of doing this as part of its standard operating procedure. Doing research should be as automatic as breathing to a journalist. That’s research on both the micro and macro levels. As much as journalists need to get all the deep-down details they can, they need to contextualize those details.

It’s all very good to know everything about one grain of sand. That knowledge becomes almost useless however if you’ve no idea on what beach — in what country, on what continent — that grain of sand sits. Our news media suffers from that exact lack of perspective. They love to bore in on the poll numbers (as useless as they are this far out) and the horse race even as the race track burns down around them.

The main culprit — no revelation of course — “both sides do it” journalism. When every opinion has to be met with its diametric opposite (regardless of its actual validity), bullshit gets a place on the talking heads panel. Perfect example — climate change. When the MSM puts a climate scientist next to a climate denier on its air — in a 50-50 shot, they are making the false (visual) statement that these two positions are total equals. It doesn’t matter how much bullshit the climate denier spews, it will play as legitimate — because that’s how the visual language works.

When two unequal points of view get reported as equal, a false narrative begins — and begins by completely mis-framing our political debate on the subject. No wonder nothing gets solved. We’re always focused on problems that don’t actually exist.

Instead of informing its audience, our news media continues to obscure the truth. They seem incapable of adding information as they get it — then using that new information to expand our knowledge base — which they should use to continue building the story. But our MSM never adds information to the knowledge base. They keep ignoring what they know in favor of what they knew. They keep going back, in essence, to Square One.

Lack of perspective is one thing — willfulness to avoid having perspective is malpractice. How do you explain a Kelly O’Donnell? NBC’s White House reporter, Kelly’s not an amateur. She’s been working a long time as a journalist. And yet… Watch any of her stand-up — any — and Kelly will demonstrate a shocking lack of perspective. She reports what Donald Trump says as if you could take every word to the bank.

We know that’s not true. But there’s Kelly — steno pooling whatever Trump said as if it formed the basis for how we should think of the world — never mind that it was framed by a liar, a thief, a traitor.

Kelly’s not alone. That’s the massive problem. There are isolated journalists doing yeoman’s work everyday to try and enlighten their own fellow journalists as well as the larger audience. It’s physically painful to watch a Chris Matthews talk over David Corn because Chris can’t see the bigger, darker picture David is talking about. Chris still thinks — all evidence to the contrary — that Trump has a strategy — that he’s every bit the master of industry Mark Burnett says he is.

It physically hurts, I tell ya.

What won’t hurt is giving the MSM the grades it deserves. We’ll accept that the “good ones” will have been filtered out. Joy Reid gets a good grade. Rachel Maddow does and Lawrence O’Donnell. Ari Melber flirts with good grades but he has a bad habit of asking “benefit of the doubt” questions that flirt with absurdity. That only ever gives bullshit credence — it’s a bad habit, Ari. Trust me on this.

The valedictorian of the class — A+ all the way — is Nicolle Wallace. Her show Deadline White House is consistently smart, biting, deeply skeptical and funny. The big irony — Nicolle was a lifelong Republican until the Trump Age. Her fidelity to Truth in the Trump Age gives me hope. It pains me however when Nicolle hands MSNBC’s air over to Chuck Todd.

Then I’m reminded — the whole rest of the class gets an “F”. A giant “F” — for failure… and feckless… and futile… and flawed… and “for what?”

If you want to be journalists, BE JOURNALISTS. If you just like being on television — go away. Let me revise that: Take your “F” and go away.

It’s Time To Play “BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT”

The “Benefit Of The Doubt” Theme Song

Hi there, ladies ‘n germs — I’m your host Chuck Todd (excuse me while I roll my eyes thoughtfully as if I was physically capable of having thoughts) —

— And welcome to another installment of “Benefit Of The Doubt — the game show where we give the benefit of the doubt to folks who we probably shouldn’t ought to give it to. But, hey — that’s what I think journalism is cos otherwise, I’d have to do research and prep for interviews! Did I say “Welcome to Benefit Of The Doubt yet? I can’t remember — I get so easily distracted.

Tonight’s panel are, first, my co-worker over at NBC News, Chris Matthews —

Chris — say something to the folks!

CHRIS: I miss Bobby Kennedy.

[While Chuck rolls his eyes thoughtfully] CHUCK: Do you think… What I mean is… What if… Is it possible that Sirhan Sirhan was aiming at someone else that night in the Ambassador Hotel kitchen?

CHRIS: No. Sirhan was Palestinian. He said he hated Bobby’s position regarding Israel. It wasn’t really a question of— Now, wait a minute, Chuck — were you playing the game without saying?

CHUCK: Guilty! I bet if I hadn’t spent the whole time rolling my eyes thoughtfully, you’d have never caught me.

CHRIS: It’s true… Umm… could ya stop now, Chuck — it’s starting to weird me out.

CHUCK: I’ll try, but — now I’m just trying to see if my bangs are straight… I wish they hadn’t left those pruning shears on my makeup table… Our other panelist tonight is CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF: Hi, everyone. I just want everyone to know that the look on my face isn’t because I’m thinking about anything, I’m doing math — I’m figuring out how long much longer I can hold onto the fart now in the chamber. Not much longer to judge from my expression, right?

CHUCK: Thanks for the heads up, Wolf. I’ll just move my chair way over here. [As Chuck moves his chair] Our first guest tonight is Climate Change.

[Polite applause as Climate Change enters and takes the seat next to Chuck’s.]

CHUCK: Welcome, Climate Change! You’re really in demand right now. I feel like we were lucky to get you as a guest.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Well, I am trying to get around — what with the book coming out and–

CHUCK: What– wait– what? You have a book coming out? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

CLIMATE CHANGE: Probably cos you can’t read.

[Chuck flashes angrily] CHUCK: What? I can read just fine. Don’t blame me cos I bore easily. Wait — are my bangs straight?

CHRIS: Please, Chuck, I’m begging ya — stop rolling your eyes! In two seconds I’m going to start hurling last year’s St. Patrick’s Day’s corned beef and cabbage. And that disagreed with me then.

WOLF: I bet the gas was intense.

CHRIS: You know it was.

CHUCK: So, Climate Change — We know… what I mean is…

CHRIS: Chuck — stop rolling your eyes–

CHUCK: I’m trying, Chris, I swear it but it’s gone a little autonomic on me. I’m not that in control of it–

CHRIS: Well, I’m not that in control of what I’m about to puke up either.

WOLF: Please stop saying “puke”, it gives me gas.

[Meanwhile, Chuck has continued rolling his eyes]. CHUCK: Are my bangs…? Is it… Would you say…What if the climate deniers are on to something?

[Everyone stops to stare at Chuck]. CHUCK: What?

WOLF: Are you saying climate change isn’t real?

And… SCENE!

Some Perspective On Perspective

As much as I might want to see the world through another person’s eyes, it’s a physical impossibility. The best I can ever really hope for is to imagine what the world literally looks like as they see it. It’s a fact — we all experience “experience” differently.

Imagine a cube sitting alone on a vast, featureless plain. From the cube’s point of view, all one can see — turning 360 degrees — is plain. From the plain’s perspective however, there’s endless plain — and a cube. Differing perspectives see differing things. But one of the two perspectives saw everything (or more of everything) while the other failed to see a key detail.

As a Nation, we stand at a moment of existential crisis because we have lost perspective — and our perspective was dubious to begin with.

How is it that a criminal and traitor occupies the White House and we are seemingly powerless to remove him from office? How is that all this information about Donald Trump’s criminality — including 488 pages of Mueller Report — and we STILL can’t even officially accuse the man of what he’s demonstrably done?

It’s like the Truth is that cube sitting in the middle of vast, featureless plain — and we, living inside the Truth, can’t see it because we’re so “close to it”. If we could just get some perspective, we’d get it. Our news media has a related problem. They want to get at the truth — but don’t seem to realize that the deep dives they take — while detailed — aren’t adding significantly to our overall knowledge because they’re too focused on detail. Or on the wrong details…

A story (like Trump’s with Russia, for instance) is a mosaic. Each tile is significant. The problem is, our Main Stream News Media — while awfully good at boring into any particular tile — have a tendency (while boring in on the particular tile that’s drawn their interest) to forget all the other tiles in the mosaic.

Some of them even forget that the thing they’re looking at is part of a mosaic. They convince themselves that the piece they’re looking at IS the whole picture while the Whole Picture actually looks a lot like this

On a related note — and a similar metaphor — there are the numbers crunchers like NBC’s Steve Kornacki. Kornacki can tell you a lot of fascinating detail about the numbers themselves — how a district voted historically, how a particular candidate has fared with a particular group of voters. But Kornacki’s assumption that the past is prologue doesn’t apply to now. We’ve never had an actual traitor as POTUS — and we’ve never had one of our two political parties committed to keeping that traitor in power.

The details on the ground matter more than the fact that there’s “ground”. Put another way, Number crunchers like Steve Kornacki can wax rhapsodic about a grain of sand (how small it is — or big compared to other grains of sand, what kind of rock it came from, how old it is, what its future probably is) …

Yeah — Kornacki can show you the beauty in a grain of sand. But beyond that things get sketchy…

Almost as important as knowing about the grain of sand is knowing where the grain of sand lives. And that’s something Kornacki can only guess at — because he’s lost perspective (and maybe never had it to begin with). For all Kornacki knows, the grain of sand he’s fixated on comes from here…

But, for all Steve knows, it could just as easily come from the surface of Mars…

It’s lack of perspective that first fed the ludicrous idea that “both sides do it”. “Both sides do it” always functions without any sense of scale — or perspective. To the “both sides do it” crowd, Bernie Madoff and Jean Valjean (from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables) are both thieves — never mind that one ripped off people to the tune of billions while the other stole bread to feed the hungry. The respective-less Both Sides Do It club says thievery is thievery is thievery (if poor people or people of color do it).

Storytellers need to be able to pull the camera back as far as it will go — and then further still. A storyteller with no perspective is a person to whom that story is being told.

They’re like a cube sitting on a wide open, featureless plain…