It is immoral to equate Truth with bullshit. Yet that is what the bulk of our news media does every day. They equate the stone cold facts of what Donald Trump has done and is doing to our democracy with the utter bullshit of his denials.
This morning, Trump’s White House is trying to contain a PR disaster. The Atlantic reported that multiple sources say Trump has called our military “losers” whose willingness to put their lives on the line to defend the country he finds unfathomable. The reporting is solid, multi-sourced.
These are facts therefore.
But, on MSNBC, their White House stenographer, Kelly O’Donnell reported that Trump vigorously denied saying any such thing.
What are we, the news audience, to make of this? On the one hand — solid reporting of a newsworthy transgression by a president dedicated to committing transgressions. That’s also a president newsworthy because he lies about literally everything. On the other hand? Kelly O’Donnell insisting that Trump says it isn’t so. Zero context from Kelly about, you know, all the other stuff the rest of us know already.
Kelly O’Donnell wants us to accept what she’s telling us as truth — or a possible truth — that Donald Trump never said what all those witnesses said he said. In the face of the Truth, Kelly O’ wants us to believe that bullshit could still be true.
That is immoral. And that is the problem with far too much American journalism.
When we finally begin to put what’s left of America back together again, we need to launch an investigation into who or what started “both sides do it” journalism.
Trump couldn’t have done what he did to the country without the full-on complicity of nearly the entire Republican Party. And the GOP couldn’t have done what it did — allow Trump to take America to the brink of catastrophe — without the news media cutting them all the slack they needed to drive us here.
It’s understood that covering Trump is unlike covering anyone else. He’s deeply sociopathic, a narcissist’s narcissist, incapable of any sort of self analysis. He’s utterly shameless. And willfully cruel — even to his own family. He says anything that comes to his mind, no matter how outrageous and untrue. But then, none of that is a secret.
The press has reported it since he slithered down that golden escalator into the lobby of Trump Tower and insisted that “Mexicans are rapists”.
That, of course, is not true. Virtually nothing Trump says about himself is true — except perhaps that he has a thing for young girls. And his own daughter.
Trump wasn’t “kidding” when he said that, by the way. Trump can’t kid. He can’t joke about things because he has no sense of humor. When Trump does “make jokes”, he’s not actually “making jokes” — he’s bullying. The tell whether you have a sense of humor or not is “can you laugh at yourself?” If the answer is no — as it absolutely is with Trump — you have no sense of humor.
It is a false narrative to ever say Trump is joking therefore. But then, Trump is a collection of false narratives and, for some reason, our news media prefers false narratives to real, verifiable ones.
“Donald Trump, Successful Businessman” is verifiably untrue. Yet our news media chose to accept that false narrative without checking it out. Checking it out would have meant acting like a news organization and doing some scut work. Kind of like how Fusion GPS did after the republican-owned, Jeb Bush supporting Washington Free Beacon hired them to do oppo research on Donald Trump. Fusion was co-founded by two former Wall Street Journal reporters.
When he was hauled before the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017 — by Republicans desperate to undermine the integrity of the Steele Dossier — Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson testified that the first thing Fusion did upon being hired was their due diligence. They got their hands on every piece of publicly available material about Donald Trump. They haunted Amazon and physical book stores. They got ahold of magazine stories, videos, audio recordings. Everything Trump said in a public environment, everything anyone wrote about him.
What Fusion saw, Simpson testified, convinced them that Trump had, at the very least, used his (now bankrupt) Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. To violate the law.
Worst of all — Fusion saw that Trump was deeply compromised in ways that made him vulnerable to Russia. No one with half a brain thinks Russia wants anything good for us. Matter of fact, we already know that Putin has drawn up plans for cyber war against us. Gosh, if all the journalists working the Trump beat had been aggregating everything they know (from their own reporting) about Trump, he’d already by in federal prison.
We know Trump violates the rule of law and the Constitution because we’re watching him do it — in real time! It’s not as if finding Trump’s criminality requires much heavy lifting. FFS, just quote the guy and you’ve got him nailed. When journalists go deep into Trump, they always come up with treasure. The deeper they go, the more valuable the treasure. And yet, they demur… It boggles the mind.
It makes one wonder — why do they refuse to tell Trump’s story? Is it fear of losing access? Trump needs the press way more than the press needs Trump. He knows he can’t rely exclusively on Fox to spread his toxic messaging. That means the press doesn’t have to let Trump frame his story his way. THEY should never have let him do it to begin with. But, going forward, the news media could absolutely frame Trump correctly — based solely on the collective reporting of the American news media.
It’s baffling why a guy like Seth Abramson doesn’t get more news media attention. He’s the ultimate aggregator of the story the news media itself is trying to tell. If only they’d look at the perspective they themselves have created about Trump. Our starting point, every day wouldn’t be “Trump, the normal POTUS, running a normal re-election campaign”, it’d be “Trump, the corrupt, soulless, criminal, impeached president who committed treason to steal his first term in office and now wants to keep committing treason in order to remain in power forever because the moment he stops being POTUS, he’ll be indicted and sued out the wazoo”. That should be where all reporting about Trump BEGINS.
So — how does our news media heal itself?
First, it must open its eyes and truly look at itself. Regardless of whether “both sides do it” infected them in journalism school or later via contact with infected journalists, all journalists need to disavow “both sides do it”. They need to atone for equating skepticism — that thing all journalists are supposed to have in their tool kit — with cynicism. Cynicism assumes that everyone’s a rat bastard who deserves what they get.
That’s bullshit. Not everyone is motivated by self-interest. To brush everyone that way is despicable. Worse, it’s immoral.
Worst of all? It ain’t journalism — not the way journalism needs to be practiced going forward. From here on out, American journalism needs to stop equating political neutrality with neutrality. No one can remain neutral in the face of evil — even at its most banal. If, say, a reporter knows someone is doing something terrible in real time, they are obligated to stop it from happening if they at all possibly can.
Not as a journalist, AS A HUMAN BEING.
Journalists need to remember who and what they are first — before they take on the mantle of “reporter”. They’re humans living amongst other humans in (we hope) a civil society. They need to follow those rules first.
They’re also Americans — whose interests, while diverse, also hew to a particular set of rules. Citizenship doesn’t just come with benefits — voting, an American passport (for what that’s worth these days) — also it comes with responsibilities. Voting. But also an obligation to stand up for the rule of law. It can’t stand up for itself, you see.
We The People need to be the rule of law’s guardian. We need to defend it because that’s what our whole system of government is based on: a mutual understanding of the rules that keep us from killing each other. Journalists aren’t just another segment of We The People — which they are part of — they’re also charged with being the last check on power. That’s what it says in the Constitution; journalists are the only actual “job” enumerated in the Constitution. Journalists have a double obligation. But then, they chose journalism as much as it probably chose them.
Because we failed to prosecute or enforce the rule of law equally, the rule of law seems to have broken down. It hasn’t. We’re the thing that’s broken down. The moment we go back to enforcing the rule of law (this time properly)? It will begin to work for us. So long as we don’t extend any special treatment to anyone, just by enforcing the rule of law again, we’ll feel our sails begin to fill with forward momentum toward justice. If we can get there, not only will we fulfill our mutual obligation to give every single one of us the same chance to achieve our maximum potential, we’ll have helped America achieve the potential it aspired to back at its founding — minus all that white, Christian, European male Chauvinism that hogged all that potential for itself.
A Great Moral Reckoning is coming to America. It sure would be nice to see our news media actually riding that wave — atop its crest even. The way they’re going right now, they’ll be watching it from the shore.
If I was to continue the alliteration, I’d say: Ka-ching!” That’s because it’s so on the money. We are in a crisis… no, we’re in a storm of crises. If only we had just one crisis to deal with this second, it’d be bad enough. But Donald Trump and the Republican Party have brought us to a place where we now face multiple crises on multiple fronts — and all because they are trying desperately to hold onto power that was never legitimately theirs.
Conservatives aren’t criminals and conservatism itself isn’t the “enemy”. Conservative greed is the enemy — as is everything that’s flowed from that greed like, say, their willingness to compromise themselves with Russia. Conservativism’s problem is it’s unsaleable to the majority of Americans. When more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats. That’s just a stone cold fact. Hell, even Donald Trump knows it. The whole point of voter suppression (up to and including hobbling the Post Office) is to stop more people from voting because of how most of them will vote.
Conservatives could have seen their diminishing place in our politics and done something respectable — like find a rock solid place in it. The truth is, progressives like me do need a counterweight if only to keep us honest. But that counterweight needs to be honest, too. And, right now, conservatism can’t claim a lick of honesty.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism. There’s everything wrong with crony capitalism. The Republican Party just proved that point for all eternity.
Crony capitalism is the conservative fix for everything. It doesn’t matter what the problem is — or whether it ever gets solved — so long as the right amount of money lands in their pocket along the way. The rich get richer while everyone else grows more impoverished, trapped and angrier. But the money that runs capitalism runs both ways.
An economy built on consumers and their confidence will die without them. More specifically, the giant corporations fattening themselves by selling products to American consumers rely on those consumers’ ability and willingness to buy. Problem 1: if those consumers are too broke to buy your products, you’re dead. Problem 2: if those consumers refuse to buy your products because they hate what you stand for, you’re deader than dead.
Here’s the tell: On April 19, 2017, Fox News canned Bill O’Reilly. At the time, O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” was Fox News’ top-rated show and its biggest cash cow. O’Reilly wasn’t a “journalist” and didn’t have to play by “journalistic rules” (as if Fox ever has!) but his appearance on a news network gave the utter claptrap that was his stock in trade the “sheen” of news. O’Reilly allowed Fox News to have it both ways. And then, suddenly, that music stopped.
Women did it.
It’s simply a fact: women make the majority of buying decisions in American households. They do the majority of the grocery shopping. They buy the majority of the clothing for their households. They work, they run carpools, they buy cars and gasoline and because they’re now increasingly the principle earners in more and more American households, if they suddenly decide to cancel culture a product? That product will be cancelled, no going back.
All those big corporations whose products women regularly buy? They got the memo. Not wanting to be cancelled, they told the 21st Century Fox Board that they would no longer advertise their products on Bill O’Reilly’s show. They did not want their brands associated with Bill O’Reilly’s brand. For the Fox board, it wasn’t a hard decision. They fired Bill O’Reilly (for reasons they could have/should have fired him years before).
When the marketplace spoke loudly enough, the money reacted. And the marketplace reacted to the economic power of the women within it. Those women are now taking political power with two hands. I’m going to generalize here — male that I am: female biology dictates communal decision-making over unilateral decision-making. No woman would ever say “I alone can fix it” because (here I go generalizing again about women) she knows that no woman can bear and rear a child alone. It really does take at least one other person to help at some point or neither baby nor mama will survive. It really does take a village to raise a child. It takes a village to almost everything — especially in a democracy.
It’s just a stone cold fact: no one can do anything “alone”.
That’s the petard on which conservatism is now hanging itself. Their belief that they alone could “fix” it.
This absolutely a problem of conservatism’s making. Conservatism made it because they were greedy. The way out can’t possibly be more greed.
The way out isn’t some middle option either. Anything that doesn’t put the full weight and potential of the American government at the disposal of We The People has no business being in the discussion. We can smell it’s greed from here.
Even doing everything perfectly will not guarantee that we get a free ride of some kind that magically returns our lives to how they were pre-pandemic. But the results will be exponentially better than what we’re doing to ourselves now. We’re in the process of learning (playing the part of lab rats) how Universal Basic Income works — and how it bolsters and builds an economy rather than undermining it (as conservatives insist, their parsimony cranked up high). We’re learning the lesson that health insurance is not the same thing as health CARE and that literally everyone needs to be included in a universal health CARE system because (in a world where pandemics might now be regular occurrences) we can only ever be as healthy as the least healthy person among us.
Pandemics begin with one person and spread from there.
We’re learning that human decency is, in fact, more important than money. As all those corporations are learning quickly, decency must be part of everyone’s brand going forth. It’s not going to be an option.
The Black Death killed feudalism. It turned an oppressive economic system upside down — giving labor an upper hand it never had before. The result was the guilds, a growing middle class, the birth of capitalism and, finally, the industrial revolution.
We won’t know if this pandemic has the same century-long impacts. We’ll be long dead when those histories get written. But, I bet we get a taste. We’ve already gotten one.
History will judge some of us very harshly. Conservatism won’t be blamed for causing America to nearly collapse but it will be seen as being on the wrong side. I’m not sure, really, how conservatism will eventually get back on our “right” side. What will it take for us to trust their motives again? We’d be foolish to accept their claims of rehabilitation on faith.
I’m absolutely certain nothing conservatives say can help rescue America from what conservatives have done to America. I’m almost as certain conservatives can’t help rescue themselves from what they’ve done to themselves.
I hope they understand if some of us refuse to lend them a hand when they beg for one.
We always figure that the “bad apple” will ultimately get what’s coming to him because eventually time, luck or the cops will catch up with him. That’s how those of us who saw the Trump presidency for the nuclear train wreck it was going to be expected this would play. Eventually the Republican Party itself would recoil in horror at Trump and stop him the way the Republican leadership finally stopped Richard Nixon. That did not happen this time — and it’s not going to.
That’s the whole reason Trump’s presidency is worse than Nixon’s (by a lot) and worse than we expected it to be — the entire Republican Party is officially complicit.
The GOP is complicit with Trump’s treason. They’ve always known Trump had an odd relationship with Russia. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously worried aloud to a room filled with Republican muckety-mucks “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Rather than being shocked to his shoes by such news, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan responded ““No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
This was not news to them. In fact, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, many of those Republicans had been taking Russian money for eons. They were already compromised by Russia — they didn’t realize the trap they were walking into. Useful idiots are like that.
Mitch McConnell has always known what the game was. We have to wonder if Mitch — with his deep ties to the Kochs & Mercers (and their money & wishes) and the Russians — was the clever guy who saw a way to tie all their “fortunes” together — the RW money, the RW power machine, Russia, Trump and a real shot at accomplishing permanent minority rule. I bet Mitch was the one who first shrugged off the terrible compromises to democracy this would entail. Mitch is pretty much as cynical as a human can be without choking to death on it.
And Mitch — don’t forget — stood firmly in the way when President Barack Obama wanted to tell We The People what Russia was up to in September 2016. At the “Gang Of Eight” meeting Obama convened at the White House, the heads of our intelligence community informed Congressional leadership from both parties (we used to do that) that Russia was actively attempting to skew the election to Donald Trump. Mitch told Trump that if he did that, he (Mitch) would scream that Obama was politicizing the intel.
Over-compensating, Obama gave in to Mitch. We The People remained in the dark while the Republican Party, Donald Trump and Russia proceeded to literally STEAL the election’s results. Want to bet that the reason Trump’s always worried about his presidency’s legitimacy is because he knows for a fact it’s illegitimate?
Bill Barr is exactly the Roy Cohn Trump wanted Lil Jeff Sessions to be. Barr’s lies about the Mueller Report altered the course of Justice — by design. Our news media still hasn’t figured it out. Some of them STILL think the Report “exonerates” Trump just like Barr said it did. It doesn’t. It does the EXACT OPPOSITE if you actually read it.
That, too, contributed to our situation being far worse than we feared it would be. Our news media’s chronic inability to tell the Donald Trump story flows from a bizarre notion that “both sides do it” and it’s not “their job” to judge the news — or whether a politician is lying to them. When people realize that, they know they can lie to the news media with impunity — which they have done.
Authoritarians first go after the Truth. When no one can know for sure what really is or isn’t, it gets easier for those in power — the authoritarians — to “be” the truth.
Our news media has waited forever for Trump to “pivot”. That was never going to happen — and it’s the wrong pivot. Our news media should have focused this whole time on the Republican Party — and whether or not THEY would “pivot” — away from co-conspiracy to patriotism.
We’ve gotten our answer. Repeatedly. No — the GOP is not going to rediscover their sense of patriotism. They’re going all in on attacking Americans protesting peacefully so as to cow them.
As usual, Republicans can’t rely on selling their ideas about how America would best be governed, the have to rely on cheating, coercion and outright criminality. The reason Trump’s presidency is so much worse than we feared is because the GOP is just as guilty as Trump is.
It’s entirely possible that Donald Trump has lived his entire life without ever winning anything either fairly or squarely.
That includes the presidency. I wonder if that’s why he keeps projecting his illegitimacy.
We knew as the results came in election night 2016 that something wasn’t right. Yeah, losing always sucks. But election night 2016 transcended merely sucking. Something deep in our animal nature sensed it. It smelled off. Our animal nature was right.
Donald Trump cheated throughout the primaries and the general election. He had foreign help every step of the way: that’s illegal. It’s also not a question. The Mueller Report (contrary to Bill Barr’s lying) did not exonerate Trump, rather it damned him — and said it could damn him no further because of 1) a silly DoJ rule that says you can’t indict a sitting POTUS and 2) everyone around Trump perjured themselves and obstructed justice so relentlessly it was impossible to fully investigate whether or not Trump’s campaign had cooperated with Wikileaks — a known Russian player.
But, how did they DO it? How did they pull it off? Wasn’t it really “Hillary was a bad candidate?”
Yeah, Hillary Clinton had baggage. She also won by 3,000,000 more popular votes. She probably won by way more — but plenty of Democratic votes never got counted. Plenty of Democratic voters were stopped from voting or their votes were destroyed or not counted.
Let’s start with the voting machines. Nobody knows if voting machines were hacked, manipulated or altered; to my knowledge, no one’s ever done a forensics on the voting machines in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — the three states that handed Trump the victory. We do know that any machine — voting or otherwise — that hooks up to the internet can be hacked.
It’s not a coincidence that all the major manufacturers of voting machines are republican-owned. That’s how Republicans think — it’s multi-dimensional cheating.
To my knowledge, no one’s ever done any forensics on any of the voting machines used in 2016. As far as I know, no one’s even thought of doing it — not in an official capacity that is. But we know that any machine that hooks to the internet is hackable. There are, essentially, three voting machine makers: ES&S. Dominion Voting Systems & Hart Intercivic.
All the voting machines those Republican-owned companies manufacture are as unregulated as the companies who make them. They eschew producing paper trails — you know, those things one could follow to assure oneself the voting machines haven’t been tampered with and their results altered. Why, one must ask, would one not want back up — if only to prove how reliable your voting machines are?
We also know from even recent experience, even if people can get through a five-hour line and vote, there’s no guarantee their vote will be counted.
We don’t know and can’t say whether or not Trump directly cheated by screwing with machines in any way. We do know that Trump cheats. We know that Trump has no compunction about cheating. We know that he cheated in myriad other ways in 2016. We know that all the machine makers are Trump backers — and anyone backing Trump is open to corruption — that’s just a stone cold fact.
We can’t say machines for sure, but we can feel damned good betting the ranch on it.
Second, there was that old school cheating method — voter suppression. We’ll note, going in, that Democrats never, ever, EVER even try to suppress Republicans from voting. It just never happens. Why’s that, do ya suppose? Republicans do everything they can short of a literal poll tax to keep Democratic voters from voting. If Republicans thought the terrified people fleeing north from American-caused drug wars in Central America were reliable Republican voters, they’d limo every last one of them across the border to the American city of their choice, stopping along the way to get them all well-paying jobs, passports and pensions.
Republicans have been suppressing Democratic votes for a long time now. Remember though that (per Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent book “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party”), Lincoln’s Republican Party is not the current Republican Party. The GOP’s mission statement and founding policy positions sound an awful lot philosophically like modern day Democrats. The modern Republicans are more connected to the Dixiecrats — the southern Democrats who harkened back to the Democrats who hated and opposed Lincoln.
Whether it’s picture ID laws or assigning too few voting machines to mostly African American or Latino voting places, Republicans regularly make it hard for Democrats to vote. They must know that virtually none of the voters they’re inconveniencing or preventing from voting entirely are voting Republican. Republicans are inept — except when it comes to getting away with shit.
Gerrymandering was just reaching its zenith in 2016. Wisconsin is so badly gerrymandered that in 2018, Republicans won just 46 percent of the overall popular vote for the U.S. House, but 63 percent of the seats — 5 out of 8. Get that? They won a MINORITY of the votes but got a MAJORITY of the seats? A minority position “became” a majority one — because of gerrymandering. That means the will of the majority won’t be met, it will be contradicted.
Why does that seem so “un-democratic”?
In 2016, old fashioned voter suppression met Facebook. It was love at first sight. Facebook, after all, owed its existence to Russian money. Putin has always had a warm place in his pocket for Zuck & his glorified girl-rating app.
Russia focused its efforts on three states — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — three guaranteed blue states with a combined 46 electoral college votes. After California, Texas, New York and Florida (55 electoral votes, 36 votes, 29 & 29) are the big three. Keep in mind — the Russian play involved lots of moving parts. It was happy to create utter chaos and mistrust in our elections. Scoring the White House was a bonus.
We know these things happened: Paul Manafort handed Konstantin Kilimnik proprietary polling data covering four states: Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. We don’t know what came of the Minnesota data but there’s significant evidence that Kilimnik took that data back to the GRU where the data was “weaponized”. Meaning — it was turned into attack ads that — based on the voter data — went through Facebook directly to the pages of individual American voters — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.
That those voters happened to be primarily African American was not an accident. Again — proprietary polling data! They were the point of the exercise. The GRU inundated those Americans’ FB pages with tons of ads about how Hillary Clinton was a closet racist.
The majority of African American voters knew better. They may not have loved Hillary but they were going to vote for her. Except for the African American voters who — seeing the Facebook ads about Hillary being a racist on the down low — let their cynicism take over. Everyone’s a racist, they thought to themselves — and stayed home.
Voter successfully suppressed.
I bet if we did even a little bit of investigating, we could find at least one Democratic African American voter who was swayed by what Manafort & Kilimnik did — and threw up their hands in weary disgust. Why bother? Both sides do it.
Trump won those three states by a combined 77,000 votes.
If we could add back in the suppressed votes (we’ll let go of the machines for now), Trump doesn’t squeak out a win, he loses. Maybe it’s close, but he loses.
On election day 2016, if you recall, Donald Trump had moved to within the margin of error in plenty of places — having risen sharply in the polls after the release of the Comey Letter.
It’s a fact. The Comey letter cost Hillary Clinton the election. The three to four percentage points Clinton lost was all Russia needed to make its various other efforts exponentially more fruitful. The Comey Letter added to the voter suppression going on — and Russia capitalized — pushing toxic Facebook ads and other social media propaganda through to the very last day.
The Comey Letter, if you recall, was all bullshit. Comey naively hoped his letter would explain why a bunch of rogue, Clinton-hating FBI agents in the Bureau’s NYC office refused to answer his simple question posed throughout the summer: were the emails discovered on still another Anthony Weiner computer copies of emails or brand-new emails the Bureau had never laid eyes on?
The rogue FBI agents — all fans of Clinton Cash, the Breitbart-published “expose” about Bill & Hillary — knew the answer to the question (they were copies) but refused to tell Comey. They were waiting — and waited throughout the summer. Meanwhile, backstage, Rudy Giuliani was in contact with the rogue FBI agents. He and (then Utah Republican Congressman) Jason Chafetz began to exert pressure on Comey — to reveal the presence of these new, “possibly unseen” emails.
James Comey wrote his letter — 5 days before election 2016 — to try and head off what Giuliani was doing. Comey was out of his depth. He got steamrollered. So did Hillary Clinton. So did America.
The Comey Letter made every Russian play more viable. It made squeaking out a 77,000 vote victory in three blue states acceptable — if only as a possibility. The Comey letter minimized the amount of cheating required on election day to steal the election.
As we all know, it worked.
Nothing about Trump’s 2016 election was “pre-planned” per se. Russia probably didn’t think it could pull it off until the Comey letter began to hurt Clinton’s numbers.
We know from reporting that no one in the Trump camp expected to win. Melania was especially upset. Trump had assured her it was an impossibility. He must have done because — as we just learned — after the “win”, Melania re-negotiated her pre-nuptial before moving into the White House.
Now that Trump is POTUS, he needs to stay POTUS — from his perspective. He’s already “unindicted co-conspirator Number One” in the Michael Cohen legal case. You just know there are a shit-ton of other legal cases just waiting for Trump to NOT be POTUS any longer — and no longer protected by that ludicrous DoJ rule that says you can’t indict a sitting president. The instant Trump stops being president, his legal troubles begin in earnest — and they won’t stop.
It’s entirely possible — I know my fingers are crossed — that Trump could lose every building, every hotel, every golf course he owns and end up either living in a cardboard box on the street (sweet!) or a federal prison for the rest of his life (sweeter!) He deserves to lose everything. The pain from that experience should endure as long as Trump lives.
I’d even be open to keeping Trump alive by whatever means possible — zapping his bloated orange chest with however many volts it takes to bring him back — just to keep in prison that much longer.
The good news is, Trump’s not having the easy time he had in 2016. Most of the American public grasps who Trump is now. More and more of us grasp that he’s not now — and has never been — the legitimate president of the United States.
We see him for the racist con artist and traitor that he is.
Donald Trump trailing toilet paper as he boards Air Force One. Could the symbolism be any clearer?
Trump’s the poster boy for people incapable of self-reflection. “I alone can fix it” is his own personal testament to the depths of his narcissism. Silly us — we misunderstood what Trump meant by “fix it”.
The Democratic Party is guilty of helping to maintain institutional racism. The GOP on the other hand is guilty of the full spectrum of racism.
Let’s not forget how we got here. Fearing demographic extinction (a shrinking pool of Christian, white male voters vs a growing pool of everyone else), the RW money (the Kochs & Mercers among others) initiated a deliberate attempt to seize political power from the majority and invest it PERMANENTLY in the minority. Though Donald Trump was not the RW Money’s vehicle of choice, the simple fact was Russia had compromised so much of the Republican Party that the money simply threw in with Trump — figuring they’d deal with him later.
Except later never came — and was never going to. The RW Money had learned to hold its nose and ignore all the things they hated about Trump because tax cuts and gutted regulations and crony capitalism run amok. Literally everything Trump has done has benefited himself or his criminal circle and made life harder for every other American including those who support Trump.
We will learn — take this to the bank — that Election 2016 was neither free nor fair. We will learn that the proprietary polling data that Paul Manafort handed Konstantin Kilimnik did, in fact, impact the outcomes of the elections in Pennsylvania, Michigan & Wisconsin. We will learn that cyber attacks did occur on machines in those states. We will learn that if not for cheating in myriad ways (both with Russia and without), Donald Trump would not be president today.
We sorta kinda knew this election night 2016. That feeling in our gut wasn’t just the agony of defeat. It was something “animal”. Something that knew we’d just been buried neck deep in bullshit. Trump has consistently worried about his legitimacy. He’s not a complicated man that way. When he worries about shit — out loud? It’s because he’s “legitimately” worried — as he is about his legitimacy.
He’s not worried “about” his legitimacy, remember, he’s worried about us finding out he’s not legitimate. It’s a subtle difference but important.
I’m the survivor of a sexual assault when I was 14. The survivor of two assaults actually — by the same man. My sense of “feeling violated” is cranked a little higher consequently. My sense of feeling violated is screaming at me. It’s screamed at me since Trump “won”. The man who assaulted me did it while we were doing something else. He continued to assault me WHILE WE DID SOMETHING ELSE — and we carried on doing that other thing as if the assault wasn’t happening.
14 year old me didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t wrap my 14 year old mind around the juxtaposition of religions education with sexual assault. So I pretended the sexual assault wasn’t happening — and then continued to pretend it didn’t happen for 45 years. But it did happen — and it did kick the shit out of me psychologically regardless of whether or not I admitted it. The assault quietly drove me to the brink of suicide. For real.
I had turned the anger I should have felt toward the man who assaulted me on myself. And then I got healthy. Well, healthier…
I see America going through the exact same process. Our anger goes way, way back. We deserve to be angry at ourselves for allowing slavery to remain acceptable after we became a country where “All men are created equal”. Injustice never goes away. It festers and metastasizes. The anger exploding across America now is the anger we deserve.
But, lets remind ourselves. Both sides don’t do it. Democrats are already making legislative moves to structurally change America in ways that will address those injustices directly. Republicans meanwhile (we haven’t seen their plan as of this moment but we can pretty well guess) will do everything to appear concerned while clearly maintaining the status quo.
What the Republican Party has done and is doing to America is abominable. Their naked racism has blown past the point where everyday Americans can tolerate the institutional racism that feeds the naked racism. But it isn’t just racism at play. Underneath it all is a foundation of greed. The Republicans grabbed for power because they’re greedy.
Having attended more than a few protests where no more than a handful of people showed up, we really did wonder if there even was a point where things got bad enough that everyone else would join us. I’m glad to see there was a point. It sucks that George Floyd had to pay for our reluctance with his life. It sucks that every victim of racist police violence had to pay because we were too comfortable in our privilege to take to the streets and demand that it stop right now.
But America has taken to the streets. Young Americans especially. If they show up at the polls on election day with the same zeal, we might get out of this okay. But, in the meantime, their anger at the world being handed them will suffice. Their anger is our anger. Perhaps it was time we got this angry and this committed to doing something about it beyond just flapping our jaws.
The Republican Party seized America by soft force in 2016. They got away with a coup d’etat that denied the Will of The People. They’ve done things since then that are the diametric opposite of what we voted for. They’ve stripped away rules and norms and ways of doing things that we had no problems with. They’ve put in place conservative lifetime judges that don’t even pass the law business’s smell test (never mind ours). They’ve put their money on using our volunteer military to suppress us into silence.
Good thing the military told them “No!”
Former prosecutor Glenn Kirshner advocates for holding every Republican accountable and i absolutely agree. He advocates also that we look at every single judge that Mitch McConnell fast tracked down our throats. Plenty of them were unqualified. Plenty perjured themselves too during their hearings. That means they’re impeachable. If the Rule Of Law really becomes a thing again? It will insist that we impeach these criminals.
It will insist that we investigate, prosecute, convict & punish them too. Not for any sort of political reason — but because they egregiously violated the Rule Of Law.
Americans are, by and large, fair. We like fairness. Our favorite movies are all about it. And yet, we tolerate unfairness with shocking regularity. Good thing we’re adaptable.
Republicans simply do not grasp just how intensely angry Americans are at them. We’re so forgiving that we forgave Richard Nixon FFS. But you have to “come to Jesus” first. You can’t restore to grace someone who thinks they never fell from it.
But you can get angry as hell at them.
“Out of many, one”. That’s what “E pluribus unum” means. It was approved as America’s motto in 1782 as part of the act that created Americia’s Great Seal. “E pluribus unum” and “Novus ordo securum” (new order of the ages) were afixed to it. Together, “out of many, one” and “new order of the ages” was meant to speak toward our ideals.
The problem is we were oppressing some of the “many” we were counting as the “one”. Slavery still haunts America. Maybe the peaceful protests filling America’s streets every day now represents America’s conscience finally (FINALLY!) waking the hell up. We ended the commercial institution of slavery. We never ended the racism that permitted it to even be a consideration as part of a free, democratic country where “All Men Are Created Equal”.
Perhaps the idea this nation’s founders imagined was too big for them to fully grasp. They Euro-centered it in their heads. They didn’t even mean all men when they wrote “all men”. They meant all white men. Some wanted only all property-owning white men. And they certainly didn’t mean any women.
Yeah — great idea, guys — good thing you made the Constitution upgradeable and capable of evolving. Good thing you didn’t put, at the end, “And there will be no changes made to this document, we intended that the law will be how we wrote it in our world with our knowledge base and our technology”. That would have meant we’d still be stuck living in the 18th century.
Originalism is to sound legal reasoning what snot is to caviar. What horse shit is to Truth.
It epitomizes conservative “thinking”. It wants to freeze a moment in time and force us to live in it — because that’s when conservative white power was fully in charge.
Some little boys never learn how to share.
White conservatives would have us all believe that “American Exceptionalism” is rich white guys and their money. E Pluribus Unum says otherwise.
Right now, America doesn’t look terribly exceptional. I take that back. Before America suddenly got woke — at the tragic expense of George Floyd and far too many black Americans to be even remotely acceptable. The protest marches are filled with everything that makes America exceptional. They are American Exceptionalism on the hoof.
Black Lives Matter is a pure expression of American Exceptionalism.
Those protest marches are E Pluribus Unum.
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.
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.
I like irony as much as the next guy — probably more than him. But even irony, it turns out, has its limits — or should.
Evangelicals praising a man Jesus would despise. The party of personal responsibility literally never taking any. A country racing to open back up for business even as the virus that will cause it to close down again — perhaps even starving it — races, unstoppable, through the heartland.
We get it! Everything in Trump World stinks of irony. And what’s ironic about that? Donald Trump himself can neither hear nor see irony. It’s as invisible to him as decency is. How do we know?
Irony requires a sense of humor in order to see it. The stark contrast — what a thing should be versus what a thing actually is — starts with oneself. If you can’t see the irony of your own circumstances, you can’t see irony period. In Donald Trump’s case, he can’t see the irony of his own lies — that every claim that he’s the best at something is demonstrably, ironically false because he’s the worst at it.
The irony overload isn’t helped a jot by a news media that, itself, is part of the irony. Ironically, America’s news media has no idea how badly they’re doing.
For instance — they still want to talk about Tara Reade (never mind that her story has changed repeatedly over time) and her accusations against Joe Biden. Have they shown anything like the same interest in the 20+ women who’ve accused Donald Trump of far worse — consistently and unwaveringly. And none of them are being represented by a lawyer who contributed to Trump and who have openly praised Vladimir Putin.
Oh, the irony.
We keep seeing — where Donald Trump’s corruption, deceit, treachery are concerned, there literally is no nadir — no bottom-most point where a rebound of some kind begins.
Irony in the Age of Trump feels equally bottomless. That was kinda funny — at first. Now, it’s not even remotely funny. Hmmmm… is that ironic? Quick — someone get Alanis Morissette on the phone!
That won’t be the case, of course though more of us are going to telecommute. Those of us that have jobs to return to, that is. More of us are going to shop from home. More of us are going to entertain ourselves and small groups of friends at home.
I just heard an interesting discussion on MSNBC. The almost always excellent Ali Velshi led a discussion on how the pandemic will impact work in America. The most obvious impact — that Ali himself was experiencing if only while the pandemic is raging — was working from home. The news networks adapted with remarkable speed to their situation on the ground. They got equipment and lighting to the homes of all their key hosts — green screens and monitors behind them so it looks like a news set. I’m sure everyone got brand-spanking-new computers with plenty of fire power.
Now that we’ve all learned how to broadcast from home — and seen that we can do it — and the audience has adapted to how it looks and sounds — why would anyone doing a TV appearance get in their car and drive to a TV studio when they can do it more easily from home. Or even their hotel room if they’re on the road.
All anyone has to do, really, is open their notebook computer. Or the app on their phone. Telecommuting will not be a small thing. Currently, half the American workforce — that’s 164 million people — are working from home. That 82 million people. If even 10 percent of those people never commuted to their job again (except for special occasions), that would be 8.2 million people.
That’s 8.2 million Americans who aren’t getting into their cars or onto public transportation to get to work anymore. That means less cars on the road (less pollution — good for the planet) and less demand on public transit (at rush hours). Fewer cars traveling all those miles means less gasoline will be needed — suppressing the demand for fossil fuels. Good ripple.
Fewer cars making fewer trips should also put less wear and tear on our roads and bridges. Good thing since we’re not sure how we’re going to repair them right now anyway.
Extrapolating out a bit — less demand for oil and gas will mean the fossil fuel business looks a little less scary to our legislators. Another good ripple.
Fewer commuters also put less wear & tear on worn out public transportation systems.
Fewer cars making all those trips also means fewer second cars needed. So, fewer cars bought. That’s millions of cars that aren’t being bought, financed, serviced or insured.
Ripple, ripple, ripple.
On the local level — not having to go to work except on rare occasion means needing a lot fewer work clothes that have to be bought but also dry cleaned. Not going to work also means having lunch at home — not at a restaurant or fast food place near the office. Lots of lost business for them, a little more found business for your local grocer and local restaurants.
Your power bills will go up. Will our employers help defray the costs of our telecommuting — helping to cover our connectivity (since the better that is, the better our work product will be)? Insurance companies will feel the loss in auto insurance revenues but perhaps they’ll make up for it increased coverages elsewhere based on new-fangled insurance products just “aching” to be invented.
With more people home, burglars will have to be way more careful. Crime patterns could be impacted.
If two working adults are home — what will that do to home life? What will it do to the distribution of labor at home? What will it do to child-rearing when one parent is pretty much home most of the time (unlike now when two working parents isn’t pretty much a necessity). Why, it’d be like living back in the 50’s except either mom OR dad could play June Cleaver.
All those people who created businesses tending to our lives while we’re at work — dog walkers and plant waterers and errand-runners — they’ll have to reinvent themselves yet again. Those gigs just went away, most of them.
The pandemic’s enduring impact on us won’t be fully felt or understood even for a long while yet. We’re just at the beginning, lucky us.
A lot of people will be more devastated by the pandemic’s ripple effects than by the pandemic itself. That’s even more cruel. You survive the sinking of the Titanic — ending up in a lifeboat — only to die of hypothermia. Some people can’t win for losing.
But, as with a lot of things, while one can see the pandemic as a huge obstacle to normalcy and living happily ever after, one can also see it as a huge opportunity. New businesses will have to be invented. New systems. New ways of thinking. New ways of working together while working remotely.
Some of the new inventions will take time to develop, test, market and manufacture — we’re talking years. Who has time like that when you’re trying to get rich? But that’s how we should frame the future: as an opportunity just waiting to be exploited (in a good way).