Here’s a question for every single American journalist — or journalist who’s working the American beat: how much corruption does it take for you to witness personally before you will call that thing “corrupt” professionally? Maybe I’m asking the wrong question… Do American journalists even recognize corruption as corruption anymore? That’s a terrifying thought — that America has already sunk to such a state of banana republicanism that we don’t even see corruption because corruption is everywhere we look because we made corruption “just how it is”. That is kinda how it is right now. The Republican Party no longer even pretends not to be corrupt. I refuse to scratch my head in bewilderment as Republicans push through voter restrictions in the face of an election that passed every corruption smell test. The Republicans aren’t reacting to how Trump lost, they’re reacting to the fact THAT Trump lost. Reporters remark on this fact every day and yet, they never seem to build that fact into the narrative they’re reporting.
The problem: the news media — the one group that can “J’accuse!” the GOP of every bit of its corruption (it’s the press’s Constitutionally mandated job FFS!) — sees GOP corruption as “political” rather than what it is, criminal. “Both sides do it” brand journalism insists that everyone does the exact same things for the exact same reasons. Everyone wants power for power’s sake. Everyone lies. Everyone is either corrupt or equally corrupt. No one is thinking about the commonweal or the very real people with very real problems that democracy and self-government is supposed to service. This assessment of American politics simply is not true. But, once a journalist goes to this cynical place and takes up cynicism’s cause, journalism itself becomes useless.
Despite what Donald Trump said on the very day he launched his bid to be president in 2015, Mexicans are not rapists and it’s not okay to grab women by the pussy just because you’re rich. Despite what Trump says now, the 2020 election was not stolen from him. Despite what Trump insisted, “But her emails” was bullshit. That our news media followed Trump to this corrupt place was our news media first giving credence to Trumpian corruption and then normalizing it. “But her emails” changed how some voters voted. “But her emails” — by design — caused some voters to throw up their hands and not vote. Cheating Americans out of their true electoral choice in order to seize power illegitimately — what could possibly be more corrupt?
Every single voter or voting restriction legislation just passed by every Republican-run state government is an act of anti-democratic criminality. If you attempt to deprive any American voter of their right to vote or of having their vote counted, you are violating their rights and that is a federal crime! There are no built in “gradations”, no “you get to violate someone’s rights “x” number of times before we tell you to stop”. That’s because no American’s right to vote is any less valid or important than any other American’s right to vote. Violate just ONE American’s right to vote and you’ve crossed a line in the sand that demands the rule of law prosecute you.
When the news media bleeps Trump’s language, they’re insulting their NEWS audience. They’re deciding that certain truths — language, for instance — are too much for their delicate audience’s sensitivities. The fact that what the Republicans are doing is monstrously obscene, far more obscene than any one word could be, doesn’t matter. When our news media calls a traitor and a criminal an honest actor or “the former guy”, they’re mis-labling the truth. They’re giving credence to bullshit. Worse, they’re giving credence to criminality and normalizing it as part of our political process.
Nothing good can come of this.
We need our news media to put on its big boy and girl pants. We need them to report every politician’s words for what they are, not the bullshit kabuki they’re trying to sell it as. A news media that can’t do that is hopelessly corrupt.
America is what happens when you let sleeping dogs lie and one of those dogs is racism. America has always had a jones for mythologizing itself. That’s because we have no common, longstanding history to stand on as people from every other country did when they came here. Aside from the Native Americans (wiped out by European pathogens, not European culture, wisdom or superiority), there is no roots “American Culture” other than the one that’s slowly been forming over the last 240 years — proof positive that America really is the place where E Pluribus Unum. E Pluribus Unum is America’s genius. Out of many, one is American Exceptionalism. But, white people prefer “All men are created equal” because they know that the white, Christian, land-owning men who wrote or stood by those words didn’t mean them literally (except for the word “men” which they meant very literally). That’s the foundational bullshit upon which originalism sits its bloated, intellectually dishonest ass: America can only ever be the country a bunch of white racists imagined it to be.
That’s the choice facing us — as it always has been. Nothing has changed since the nation’s founding. We are a great idea as yet unrealized. That doesn’t mean we can’t fully realize every last bit of E Pluribus Unum’s genius — which would, all by itself, fix “All men are created equal” into “All people stand equal before the rule of law”. Our kneejerk response to America splitting up is “That would be the end of America!” And, yes, it would be. It would be the end of America as the world has known it for 240 years. But it wouldn’t be the end of America.
The problem is, we’ve gotten into our heads (thanks, news media!) that there ARE two sets of facts — one Democrats believe and one Republicans believe. Those “alternative facts” Kellyanne Conway so cleverly pulled from her bony white ass aren’t facts, they’re pure bullshit. That’s the point! They’re the ALTERNATIVE to facts, not an alternative version of facts.. See the difference?
On cannot compromise with evil. Evil will not compromise with you so, if you compromise with evil, evil stays as it is while YOU end up becoming more evil. Same goes for racism, bigotry, misogyny, ignorance and greed. In America, one of our two political parties has in fact fully compromised with all those things.
Take away the stolen labor (slavery) that built the southern and then Confederate economy and you there never is a southern or Confederate economy. Had the money that built the sugar cane, cotton and tobacco businesses been forced to pay its labor fairly (versus zero — it’s entirely possible that a very different country and culture would have emerged, one where workers and work were respected. One where race was irrelevant to how one stood before the rule of law. But, once you get it in your head that white people are superior in all they do, you’ve set yourself up for failure.
America must prosecute Donald Trump if it’s to remain a viable country. We can’t let hostile foreign countries at cyber war with us choose your presidents (and we can’t let the presidents they choose go unpunished for being literal traitors and their presidencies re-evaluated in the light of their treason). To let such presidents & presidencies stand is to invite such foreign involvement in the future since there’s literally no punishment for doing it. Why WOULDN’T a hostile foreign government buy as many candidates as possible? Hey, if democracy’s for sale and there’s money to be made?
Did I mention that nothing good happens when you compromise with greed?
Even as the rats begin turning on each other — realizing the depth of their legal peril — the damage done will remain. Alas, we do have two sets of “facts” in play (a contradiction of terms if ever there was one). Having seized control of the local political machinery (credit where credit is due — unlike Democrats, Republicans ran for local offices because they saw how important local control was), Republicans will have the means to push their states and localities past the breaking point where the rule of law can survive all the corruption around it. The rule of law can’t enforce itself — and every time we enforce it unfairly or unequally, we hurt its integrity. White nationalism drove the Confederacy’s rise. It drives the Confederacy’s lingering, zombie-like presence. It will drive the formation of a Second Confederacy if only to have an entity to negotiate Trump’s release from a prison sentence of Life — for having committed treason.
America at war with itself is unhealthy both for us and for our standing in the world. The world needs us to regain our stature. We really do represent something special to the world — the ideal that hard work and determination can overcome social status in a world that wishes it could quit social status as a “thing”. The world needs our genius for reinvention. It needs our democratic spirit to shine brightly — as the beacon the world always saw in us. If the red states chose to take their ball and go home, I say we should let them!
First, we’d put it on a ballot. One simple question: “Do you want (fill in state’s name here) to be a “red state” from this day forth or a “blue state”?” Count the votes and color the state accordingly.
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that red voters have their way in most of the south. They won’t get Virginia. Georgia’s also a question mark as is North Carolina. And I bet even states like Kentucky (where there are more registered Democrats than Republicans) poll differently than we expect. Oh — all those polls? We’re going the hand-marked paper route. There’s too much at stake here to let a bunch of Republican-run companies pretend that they’re anything but corrupt. So, let’s say that all the southern states from Texas to Florida, from the Gulf Coast up through the Midwest to Oklahoma, Kansas, parts of Nebraska, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Idaho, parts of Utah and Western Washington and Oregon — these places all insist on ending their relationship with the United States of America.
This will be awful for all the blue state Americans living in what are now very real “red” states. They’ll be stuck with a Sophie’s choice re their lives. I’d expect a progressive, forward-thinking Blue America to anticipate Red America’s brain drain. Being government-minded, Blue America will naturally plan for various contingencies while Red America thinks “planning” is what “elites” do. Blue America — recognizing how important immigration has always been to the American ideal will simply re-establish, re-state and re-emphasize this fact. Without racism and greed interrupting the conversation, America might finally be ale to have a meaningful dialogue about immigration.
Blue America, we hope, will be a consummate respecter of the rule of law. Break it, no matter who you are, and you must take responsibility for breaking it. Red America, on the other hand, won’t have the rule of law. It will have a grab bag of “make it up as you go along” rules that only apply when they apply and only apply to who they apply to. Being belligerent by nature, Red America will endlessly sabre rattle. They’ll threaten us relentlessly. But only for a while. One thing the rule of law does is organize a society. Since the Second Confederacy will have tossed out the US Constitution, they’ll plow along without one.
Even if Red America tried to fashion a new “improved” US Constitution, we can all imagine the anti-democratic screed a bunch of racist, woman-hating, corrupt scumbags would cobble together. Only hard core Trumpists will be given any decision-making power. There won’t be any “system” beyond corrupt patronage. For reference, see “The Trump White House”. That will be how the Second Confederacy “governs”. Because greed and corruption run everything, nothing will run.
I give Red America’s power grid six months before it begins to shut down. Infrastructure will never happen. Roads and bridges will fall apart, isolating more and more pockets of Red America from Red America. Food will grow scarce, forcing some of those pockets to reconsider their “Red v Blue” votes.
While Blue Americans will be well educated (getting either free state run college or tech training whichever suits them), have health CARE free of charge (well, they pay for it through their tax dollars), paid family leave for pregnancy and illness and a universal basic income that allows Blue Americans to pay their bills while waiting for the best possible job opportunities (the ones that pay bigger salaries and taxes back into the system), Red Americans will sit in the dark, starving. While Blue America thrives, Red America will sink further into misery, making third world countries look like first world countries.
That’s when Blue America will hear a knock at its back door. It’ll be Red America still wanting back in, filled with contrition. Or what they hope is contrition having long since lost the ability to be contrite.
Having raised two children, I’ve learned that the very best teacher our children can have is failure. Success teaches us only that our shit doesn’t smell. Well, that’s nonsense — our shit continues smelling even when we succeed. The second we start buying our own press, we’ve set ourselves up for failure. Better to allow one’s children to taste failure from time to time — and then make sure they see the opportunities failure presents that success never would have.
Yeah, a Second American Civil War would suck. It would be terribly destructive and generationally expensive. But, it might be our only way back to becoming the America the world needs us to be.
Lying, by definition, is deliberate. That’s why liars choose their words carefully. They KNOW what they’ve done or aspire to do. They KNOW that, on some level, whatever it is, it’s absolutely wrong, immoral, unnecessary or illegal. If their aspiration was good for the commonweal, they’d crow it from the rooftops. Obviously, it’s not. Therefore the secret. Liars haven’t invented a “new language” to hide their deceit — that’d be too obvious. Instead, liars hang out their lies in plain sight, daring anyone to call it out.
Stone cold liars and sociopaths spew out and out lies as readily as they breathe. Take Donald Trump for instance. Trump’s inclination to lie is so deep-seated inside him — his connection to the truth so tenuous (because it’s so dangerous to him) — that it is possible that Trump “believes” his lies I’m not willing to give him a pass because of it — it’s just a curiosity worth noting is all. And it’s hard to give Trump a pass on anything when he’s so central to everything that’s happening to us. It beggars belief that he’s just an innocent authoritarian shithead caught up in events beyond his control. Trump’s lies are deliberate and big and deliberately big.
If at that very first moment where Trump — as an official candidate for the office of POTUS — rode down that gold escalator and insisted “Mexicans are rapists”, the news media had put down its foot and refused to move past this blatant, racist lie (most Mexicans are not, in fact, rapists — unlike Trump himself), Trump’s presidential campaign would probably have died right there. “Pussy grabbing” would have been the last nail in the coffin of Trump’s presidential aspirations. “But, her emails” would never have happened since the Kremlin wouldn’t have been involved anymore. without Russia’s active engagement to MAKE him POTUS, Trump would NEVER have gotten anywhere near the presidency.
The easiest lie — the one Republicans and Trump used and use constantly as a kind of bullshitty “Get Out Of Jail Free” card is “I was joking!” Donald Trump tries to wave off all kinds of awfulness with “It was a joke, can’t ya tell?” The problem is Trump has zero sense of humor. Not everyone has a sense of humor. The baseline requirement to have one is the ability to laugh at oneself. If you can’t laugh at your own foibles and flaws but can easily laugh at others’? That’s not “having a sense of humor”, it’s being a bully. Similarly, when current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked about a recorded conversation of a meeting of GOP leaders on June 25, 2016 (a month before the GOP made Trump their presidential nominee) where Kevin, upon entering the meeting said out loud “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”, Kevin insisted HE was “joking”. In retrospect — and with THIS picture taken during Trump’s presidency in your head — tell us again, Kevin, that you were “joking”.
Oh, the hairs we have split to avoid calling Donald Trump and the GOP traitors — even in the face of bold-faced treachery. Our news media to this day scratches its head so hard they’ve made divots in all their scalps trying to come up with a good explanation for why the Republican Party remains sooooooo loyal to Trump. They put it all down to Trump’s base. No one wants to get primaried is how that story goes. These public servants worry mostly about their job security not providing any “constituent services”. No argument — that IS part of the matrix. But there’s way more matrix than that.
There’s proof — stone cold proof that our news media has reported on and published itself — that Trump has behaved criminally. There’s proof he behaved treasonously. And, while, in America, everyone (supposedly) gets their due process, there is such a thing as “preponderance of the evidence” and journalists are allowed to extrapolate in their questions (such as “Mr. Trump, do you see running for POTUS again as a chance to govern or as a chance to avoid being prosecuted for election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason?”
Our news media won’t do that however. During the Trump years, the White House Press Corps regularly put on a craptacular of “both sides do it” brand journalism that equated Republican criminality with Democratic reaction to it. Though the Republicans were behaving criminally for a political purpose, our news media insisted that every time a Democrat reacted to a Republican’s criminality, the Democrat was just “being political”.
We expect liars to lie. We don’t expect our news media to hold their beer while they do it. We can’t blame liars for lying. Lying is what liars are good at. We can and should blame the news media for enabling not just lying but The Big Lie. We would never have achieved a Big Lie’s criminal mass without a swarm of little lies fusing together beneath it. And those little lies would never have gained traction if our news media hadn’t normalized them.
On January 20, 2021, at noon, Donald Trump ceased being POTUS and reverted to being Citizen Donald: former president with a few perks-of-the-office still but, in most other ways, just another American beholden to the rule of law. So, when Trump told those subpoenaed by the January 6 Commission to ignore those subpoenas, he was openly violating the law. In fact, each time Trump opens his mouth — like he did again at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines this weekend — and repeats those instructions while also continuing to openly support insurrection — that’s also a crime. When members of Congress stand with and support insurrectionists, they BECOME insurrectionists themselves because that’s how conspiracy to commit a crime works — especially when members of Congress openly associated with those insurrectionists in advance of the insurrection. It’s a crime to assault people just because you disagree with them. It’s a crime to threaten them — especially with a weapon. It’s a crime to co-conspire with hostile foreign governments to undermine America’s government.
At least, in theory, all those things are crimes. Apparently, they stop being crimes when rich, white Christian men are the perps.
First question: WHO is being permissive here? Who appears willing to accept terrible behavior by one group versus far less terrible behavior by other groups? For sure, Black people aren’t being permissive toward white crime, neither are brown nor Asian American nor Native American nor anyone LGBTQ. That leaves white people — and the people who speak for white people, our news media. If outraged citizens on the street, witnessing George Floyd’s murder, hadn’t videoed the event with their phones, we wouldn’t know about it. Same as we don’t know about most of the 6,400 other people police have killed or fatally shot since 2015. This doesn’t happen in other countries. It doesn’t make us “exceptional”.
America remains a great idea poorly executed because the white, land-owning Christian men who drew up America’s founding documents couldn’t overcome their own native racism. And, yeah — they were racists. They proved it by agreeing that “All men are created equal” so long as “All men” is “white, Christian, land-owners who also are MEN”. No one else qualifies as “equal”. Well, that idea is demonstrably false. The same men also put “E Pluribus Unum” on our Great Seal. “Out of many, one”. The Great Seal doesn’t qualify who the “many” are. That’s because E Pluribus Unum captures more fully America’s Secret Sauce (what makes America truly exceptional) far better than “All men are created equal” does.
The playing field has never truly been level here in America. That’s not a reflection on the strength of our founding idea, it’s a reflection of our not having gotten the hang of democracy yet. It really is a challenging form of government, being all DIY. As Churchill put it, “…democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms…”. Democracy is the best of a bad lot, in part, because (as Ben Franklin pointed out) it demands so much hard work to maintain a republic. It demands that its citizens participate — not an easy ask. In the whole history of humankind, self-government is a very, very recent innovation. Kowtowing like betas to an all powerful, divinely-connected alpha dog who claims a superior blood line is much more our habit. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And people claiming divine authority for their power are the MOST corrupt. They’re also the most full of shit.
That’s not a coincidence.
Here in America, white people gained an unfair advantage at the start that — understandably — they are loathe to let go of. But, what originalism really is saying is “Hey, we wrote the rules at the start — with a heavy bias toward ourselves — but that’s just how it is and how the country must always be”. White people also rationalized a legitimacy for enslaving people. America’s economic base, in the beginning, was agricultural. We could easily grow vast amounts of sugar cane, cotton and tobacco. The only problem with those particular crops though is the labor intensity demanded to grow and harvest them. If one had to pay a fair market wage to the labor needed — and one needed lots of labor prior to industrial farming techniques — then the profit margins would shrink radically; they might even vanish altogether. The decision to use slaves to perform that labor solved that problem by making the labor costs virtually zero.
At its bottommost line, slavery is stolen labor. America made stolen labor legal — so long as the laborer was Black. We also imposed a variation of slavery on Mexican farm laborers and Chinese railroad workers. Slave wages are designed to make economic independence impossible, keeping the worker enslaved to his or her job. An unhappy worker tied to a job because it has health INSURANCE (not health care — ours isn’t a health CARE system, it’s a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing!) that they literally can’t live without is not much better than a slave tied to a master because otherwise they’d have nowhere to sleep, no clothes, no food. Policing in America began as an adjunct to slavery. Originally, cops were slave hunters.
When Trump said, during his 2016 campaign, that he could shoot one of his followers on 5th Avenue and not suffer any consequences, he was horrifyingly right. Trump didn’t use a bullet to take out his followers, he used the coronavirus and lies. Trump understood — having lived the life of a criminal — that being rich, white and Christian was already a kind of “Get Out of Jail Free” card. He also understood that by corrupting others, the potency of that “Get Out Of Jail” card increases exponentially.
All abuses of power are corrupt. Our permissiveness toward white people when they act criminally is corruption on the hoof. That, too, is illegal. If we really want to stop this merry-go-round from hell, we need to stop it for good. We need to call corruption what it is and criminals what they are. If we just reframe our story, we’ll suddenly understand exactly what the story really is. And we’ll stop treating Republicans like honest actors, our partners-in-governance and start treating them like the criminals they are.
Step One: Don’t. That is, don’t argue with a Republican on their terms. That’s because Republicans don’t really have terms. They’re hell bent on winning all arguments purely for winning’s sake and it doesn’t matter how they win. That means if you enter an argument with a Republican thinking there are some kind of “rules”, then you’ve already lost the argument. Rules, as any Republican will tell you, are for losers and Democrats. What applies to arguments also applies to elections. So long as a “W” results, it doesn’t matter how you got it. If cheating is as good as not cheating (and cheating is easier), why NOT cheat? And, since the cheating almost never gets punished, it makes zero sense not to at least include cheating in your campaign strategy whether that cheating is accomplished by gerrymandering, voter suppression or outright treason. This nihilism is the baseline for every Republican argument. It is their rabbit hole — and to argue with any Republican is to find yourself plunging down their rabbit hole.
That’s why step one is “don’t”. Don’t follow any Republican down their bullshit rabbit hole. Force them either to step outside the rabbit hole to argue or to argue from inside the rabbit hole while you argue from reality. Republicans tire quickly of arguing with themselves. That’s why they prefer it if Democrats did that. Republicans forced into reality quickly realize the difference between their bullshit world and the real world. Take the January 6 insurrectionist foot soldiers — the ones who stormed the Capitol building at the behest of the Republicans in power. They were all full of themselves while committing their crimes. They screamed and shouted how proud they were. They even took pictures of themselves doing it — like they expected these videos to make their futures.
They’re getting their wish — just not how they intended. Suddenly, these “patriots” find themselves in legal peril with no one rushing to help pay the legal bills. And those bills are a bitch because billable hours to defend oneself against federal charges add up quickly. That’s a big reason so many of the little fish pled out. They got that even trying to defend themselves would bankrupt their families. Hey, even a traitor’s most vulnerable organ is their wallet (since they have no soul or heart and, clearly, no life to give for their country). At some point — soon — the January 6 investigation will formally pierce the veil of Congressional involvement in the insurrection. Actual members of Congress and their staffs will be caught out helping to PLAN the insurrection and to co-conspire with the foot soldiers — giving them guided tours in the days ahead of the insurrection as part of the crime’s planning.
It is absurd that we, as a nation, continue to call crimes committed in the clear light of day “political” when they’re criminal as hell. It doesn’t matter that they were committed FOR a political purpose. I could rob a bank for political reasons. I’ve still robbed a bank! What the GOP is doing — directly attacking our democracy — isn’t them asserting a problematic political position. It’s them committing a crime. If you attempt to deprive an American of their rights, you are committing a crime — and that is the whole point of the exercise. The Republicans have said so — out loud. It’s about time we took them at their word and at their deed.
Step Three: demand receipts or the argument ends right there. “Back it up or it’s bullshit” is how I’d put it. Imagine if every time, while Trump was president, instead of going along with Trump’s version of things, the White House Press Corps had, instead, stiffened its back and said “Back that up or it’s bullshit” then stood its ground. Now, sure, Trump’s first reaction would have been to explosively toss every offending journalist. But Trump’s a raging narcissist. He aches to be loved especially by those whose love he can never have. He craves their respect especially. Also worth noting: Trump’s a horrible negotiator. He keeps giving away that the only thing in his hand is his mushroom dick.
Imagine if every time Mitch McConnell got up on his treason turtle hind legs and began spewing, some reporter, shaking his head said directly: “Back that up, Senator, or we will understand it to be bullshit”. Imagine if every time Ron DeSantis or Gregg Abbott or Rudy Giuliani or Mark Meadows or Mike Pence or any Republican had to bring receipts to every conversation or they knew the convo would be short and always to their disadvantage. Republicans need to keep the conversation afloat in order to keep prosecution at bay.
The instant the news media stops thinking of Trump and every one of his Republican co-conspirators as honest actors acting politically and, instead, as criminals acting for a political purpose, the entire conversation we’re having will change. The framing will finally have caught up with the subject matter.
As we lurch toward a Republican-forced government shut-down on Thursday night, the media keeps reminding us how good Nancy Pelosi is at counting votes. She won’t put a bill on the floor that doesn’t have the votes to pass. If Joe Biden’s agenda doesn’t have the votes today, Speaker Pelosi will work her magic — it’s agreed she’s one of the best, savviest Speakers of the House in American history — and make that vote happen tomorrow. Bet against her at your peril. The news media — believing that “both sides do it” — also give Mitch McConnell mucho cred for being a great politician because he can count votes. But, the way Mitch counts votes — and the votes he’s counting — is entirely different from the way Speaker Pelosi works. Speaker Pelosi can only appeal to her caucus’ hearts. Public servants serving the public have hearts, ya see. And Democrats, by their nature (and by their hearts) are wild and unruly. Democrat Will Rogers said of us almost a hundred years ago “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. By contrast to Speaker Pelosi, Mitch McConnell has a far, far easier time.
Mitch knows his caucus — to a man — doesn’t have a heart. Instead, they have greed. Greed runs everything in their personal and collective worlds. Their bottom line is enrichment and power. Getting richer than they already are and (since this is what it will require), holding onto political power forever in order to do it. For Mitch then, life is simple so long as it’s as corrupt as he is. You can always count on corruption to come through because you can always blackmail corrupt people into compliance. Try blackmailing an innocent person — it’s much, much harder.
We’ve seen — live — what happens when Mitch can count all his corrupt votes but can’t count on his un-corrupt ones. Remember this — the night Senator John McCain literally voted a thumbs down to Mitch’s attempt to kill the ACA?
I betcha Mitch still gets himself into a mighty treason-turtle snit every time he thinks of it. I bet — same token — an uncorrupted John McCain stood between Lindsey Graham’s anti-Trumpism and his remarkable flip into the Uber-Trumpism.
Can anyone name a higher purpose any Republican is fighting for other than power for power’s sake? Mitch McConnell certainly isn’t interested in serving the needs of most Americans since he’s only about servicing a teeny-tiny slice of really rich white men. Who are all Christians.
When he’s not servicing his Russian clients (Oleg Deripaska, for instance), Mitch is Charles Koch’s Bitch. Tasked with seizing the judiciary from any possible Democratic grasp — that was the point of denying Barrack Obama more than a hundred hearings for federal bench judgeships and, of course, Antonin Scalia’s seat. Our news media depicted Merrick Garland not getting a hearing as Mitch McConnell being a clever, skilled (Machiavellian) politician. No, actually that was Mitch McConnell putting himself between the point of electoral politics — the majority getting what they voted for — and Mitch and his cohorts getting what THEY want. Our news media — convinced that “both sides do it” — have it in their heads that anti-democratic behavior and acts is just some “political opinion” as opposed to what it is: an affront to democracy and to individual voters’ right to vote.
But, hey — so long as rich, Christian white guys are doing it? How can it be bad, right?
This is the corruption Mitch McConnell relies on. It’s his oxygen now same as it’s always been. Make no mistake: Mitch and corruption go way back.
Mind you, Mitch isn’t doing this to make anywhere he is a better place for him being there. He’s doing it because he adores political power and he’s figuring out how to get it and keep it. But then, Mitch’s perfect glide path goes awry.
Mitch sees Charles Koch (formerly the Koch Brothers) as his lord and master. The Kochs are the most powerful money in American politics. Charles Koch still intends to twist our democracy into something more pleasing to him and his needs — being a purveyor of dirty power and a climate terrorist. Koch thinks his money (which he inherited) makes him smarter than me or you. And Charles Koch thinks rich, white. Christian men should lead and everyone else should follow. The Kochs may be crooks but they aren’t stupid crooks. Charles and David (now just Charles) spent their dirty money wisely — buying pretty much every Republican and just enough Democrats (Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona) to stop Americans from ever getting the government (and government services) they keep voting for.
The Kochs recognized that the only reliable branch of government aside from the Senate (designed, like the Electoral College to empower racism and racists over urbanites and diversity) was the judiciary — the lifetime federal bench in particular and the SCOTUS especially. Control the judiciary, the Kochs realized and one can control the country — perhaps even force it to rewrite laws pushing America toward progressivism. One could even — by jiggering the law just so — cancel Roe v Wade without even actually canceling it.
We don’t know how deeply Russia has its hooks into Mitch McConnell, all we know is that every time Mitch burps, it tastes of stale rubles. We need to explore this with Mitch under oath — Benghazi-style. He needs to explain his relationship with Oleg Deripaska (the man to whom Paul Manafort passed proprietary polling data covering Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, three of which flipped unexpectedly in election 2016, throwing the election to Trump). Deripaska is Russian military intelligence and we KNOW that Russian military intelligence was actively engaged in throwing the 2016 election to Russia. Deripaska was sanctioned by our government for doing that — sanctions that Mitch got lifted so that Deripaska could drop $300 million into an aluminum factory in impoverished western Kentucky. That’s swell for those dirt poor Kentuckians, but awful otherwise for the rest of the country and our democracy.
We need to understand above all why Mitch refused to let We The People in on the Republican Party’s dirty little secret: that Russia wanted Trump to be president and they were actively engaged in making that happen. In September 2016, when Obama called a Gang of Eight meeting (four Democratic Congressional leaders and four republican leaders) to discuss telling America what Russia was doing on Trump’s (and the GOP’s) behalf, Mitch got up on his little treason turtle hind legs and insisted that if Obama did such a thing — told America the truth about Russia and Donald Trump — that he’d accuse Obama of “politicizing the intelligence”. Obama, unfortunately, caved.
I bet that if Obama had that moment to do over? He’d tell Mitch McConnell to go eff himself. But, first, he’d tell Mitch what he thought of Mitch’s corruption. Then he’d call Mitch a traitor.
And, of course, he’d be right.
Here’s a prediction. Some day — soon, I bet — Mitch McConnell’s name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet Americans use when they want to call someone a “traitor”.
It was foolishness to think our news media would step out from under the shadow of their terrible Trump years performance and spend the Biden years reminding themselves what journalism is. Alas, they’re still convinced that “both sides do it”. It’s painful and ironic that the White House Press Corps saved all their skepticism — which journalists should have on their tool belt — to spend on Joe Biden when they used virtually none during the Trump years. In fact, our journalistic and chattering classes allowed their cynicism to flower and flourish instead. They bought into and promulgated the idea that Donald Trump 1) was the new “normal” for presidents and “presidenting”, 2) that all his visible corruption, his non-stop lying about literally everything were all acceptable cos “normal”, 3) that the Democrats were acting just as politically in resisting Trump’s attempts to dismantle our democracy as Trump was in dismantling our democracy (against the majority’s will!), 4) that Trump’s hold over the Republican Party was all because of Trump’s rabid base and 5) that some other explanation other than TREASON explained Trump’s bizarrely obsequious behavior toward Vladimir Putin and Russia. Our news media — with a few exceptions — STILL can’t get Trump right because they refuse to extrapolate based on a ton of consistent evidence that screams who Donald Trump is and what exactly he’s doing to America and why.
It was inevitable that our news media would get Joe Biden wrong because they still can’t get Trump right.
This is the work product of “both sides do it” brand journalism. It holds “neutrality” as the journalist’s ultimate creed. The Truth? It’s not for a journalist to say — even if the Truth screams from their own reporting. The thinking (such as it is) goes that the moment a journalist openly sides with the Truth (versus siding with bullshit), they will be seen to be “taking sides”. Since (in America) one side consistently makes shit up because they favor feelings over facts, it would appear that journalists keep taking the “other side’s side” — the side that prefers facts over feelings: the Democrats. Ironically, that’s exactly what our news media’s doing — and thankfully so — when they trumpet the science of vaccination over anti-vaxxing ooga-booga. The “side” pushing vaccination is the Democrats; the side pushing anti-vaxx bullshit for entirely political purposes is the GOP. Can we agree? Both sides aren’t doing the same thing.
Both sides do NOT “do it”.
The Republican Party — as a whole — is openly attempting to toss out the results of election 2020 — or, they’re trying to throw out the Donald Trump part. For the record, none of those Republicans screaming that Trump was cheated on HIS part of their ballots while none of the successful Republican candidates was cheated on THEIR part of the Trump voter’s ballot. This is not bullshit for bullshit’s sake. It’s bullshit for sedition’s sake. For insurrection’s sake.
For treason’s sake. What our poor, pathetic news media absolutely gets wrong is what this whole goddamned story is about: treason. Hey, look — I know that’s a big leap for professional news media to make. But, stone cold fact, amongst the realm of possible answers to “what’s really going on here?”, that is one of the possibilities. I can’t recall a single talking head segment involving journalists where — as they listed the possible explanations for Trump’s consistent obsequiousness toward Putin — “And, one of the explanations could be that Putin has compromised Trump — and therefore ‘owns’ him which would present a massive national security problem”. But, then, that SHOULD have been one of the explanations on the table — that Putin owned Trump because the news media itself REPORTED THAT VERY STORY!
So — a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their candidate for President of the United States, they KNEW and discussed the fact that their candidate was compromised by a hostile foreign power who some of them knew for a fact was at cyber war with us. Cyber war IS war. Anyone who thinks “war” must involve bombs and bullets to be an official war is going to lose every war they ever fight going forwards. Russia spent pennies to put Donald Trump in the White House. More irony: we broke the Soviet Union in large part by making them fear “star wars”. They couldn’t afford to compete with us — even if it was all a chimera anyway. Putin — a man devoted to the idea of Old Russia becoming a player (third world country though it is) — got the last laugh by destroying American democracy and doing it with the couple of rubles in his pocket.
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Patriotism pouring from the mouths of traitors is treason on steroids. Donald Trump preaching patriotism — with Putin’s hand up his ass — demands more than our news media has delivered. Especially when that fact should be part of the architecture already!
Among its copious other fatal flaws, “both sides do it” brand journalism insists on NOT aggregating any of the stories it reports. Each instance of Trumpian corruption is seen as a news item unto itself, completely unconnected to all the other remarkably similar news items floating nearby. In our news media’s defense, they represent a very white corporate culture that, just walking in the door, accepts a ton of white collar corruption and institutional racism, bigotry and misogyny as “normal”. Their assumption that the playing field is level doesn’t make it level. It isn’t and never has been. Not even remotely. That’s how all those sexual assault and rape stories concerning Trump never add up to what it should add up to — the portrait of a privileged, white serial rapist. Our culture — still dominated by men — doesn’t want us to have an easy time prosecuting men for inappropriate, offensive and even outright criminal male behavior. Where sexual assault is concerned, male culture wants (us) to blame the sexually assaulted instead of them: “they made me do it.”
Imagine if our news media practiced basic storytelling technique and not only “added information” with their daily reporting but used that newly added info foundationally — not as extraneous detail maybe worth noting, maybe not, but as Core Truth that one must have firmly in mind in order to understand what’s happening NOW. If that had been the case, We The People would never have shrugged off Trump’s history of assaulting women the way our news media did. With Trump’s REPORTED history of racism, our news media would have incorporated that racism INTO their understanding of Trump each time they wrote about him. Result? They would NEVER have asked Trump if he was racist (which is stupid anyway because it’s not up to a racist to say if they’re racist, it’s up to the racist’s victim!) because they’d have KNOWN he was racist for a fact and would have reported Trump’s racism differently — as Trump continuing his racist behavior.
Imagine if our news media had read their own (respected) reporting. Imagine if reporters other than the Washington Post’s Adam Entous either read or (heavens!) LISTENED TO what actual Republicans said out loud about Trump behaving treasonously — especially in retrospect — and then questioned those very Republicans about what they said! The one time the news media questioned McCarthy about his own blatant co-conspiracy to commit treason and obstruct justice, his answer was “I was joking”.
Instead of beginning their reporting about McCarthy (who STILL refuses to acknowledge that Joe Biden’s the president) by framing him as a traitor (or even as someone whose motives are deeply, DEEPLY suspect because he KNEW Putin paid Trump), our news media is more likely to report McCarthy as a guy who likes a good joke.
It’s little wonder that, per usual, when Democrats are in power, the American news media suddenly relocates its skepticism. There’s nothing wrong with that except that their skepticism lacks all context. To them, Donald Trump is just a former president still hungering for political power (rather than a traitor terrified of being tried for treason), the Republican Party (despite openly lying about voter fraud and pretty much everything else) are honest actors, and the choice between continuing as a democratic republic (what the overwhelming majority of Americans want) and becoming an authoritarian shithole is a fifty-fifty toss up proposition. Our news media has it in its head that Joe Biden was handed a ship of state sailing smartly along thanks to Skipper Donald.
But, Skipper Donald had deliberately set about scuttling the Ship Of State — to deliberately harm Biden’s ability to govern America but also to prosecute Trump. If you don’t get that? You don’t get this story. You certainly aren’t reporting it — and America’s news media still isn’t. Their version of Trump isn’t the Trump in our faces. Their version of every obstructive, treasonous Republican isn’t the GOP actively assaulting our whole way of life. The most painful irony of all might be that our news media bought into Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts”.
There are no “alternative facts”. There’s Truth and there’s bullshit. Alternative facts aren’t “facts” in any way, shape or form. They’re bullshit. And the fact that our news media didn’t immediately stop talking to Kellyanne shouted volumes. It no longer mattered if they were reporting alternative facts to their news audience because (since “both sides do it”, alternative facts were now officially as good as facts
Being neutral, it’s not up to our news media to discern fact from alternative fact. That’s up to their news audience apparently.
Someone should write a saying about how when people refuse to learn the lessons of history, they’re likely to repeat the same terrible mistakes. Hitler doesn’t become “Hitler” without the steadfast support of German industry. Fascism triangulates politics, business and religion. When Christianity and commerce work together at power’s behest, you get Nazi Germany (and make no mistake, institutional Christianity had zero problem with Hitler’s “final solution”). You get companies like Bayer, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Nestle, Porsche, Siemens and VW benefiting and profiting from SLAVE LABOR without so much as a thought. Every one of those companies has SLAVE LABOR in their past. Sorry, but that’s evil and I’m not entirely sure what any of those companies can actually do to disassociate themselves from the evil they willingly stood with and profited from. Even Jews were pretty quick to forget — as they happily bought Mercs and VWs and BMWs in the 1980’s –that not two generations before, their freakin’ RELATIVES were working for those same damned companies against their will and for ZERO PAY.
For the historical record, American companies also benefited from slave labor or happily did business with a regime they KNEW was authoritarian and repressive. General Motors, IBM, ITT, Standard Oil, Chase National Bank and Coca Cola all chose profits uber alles. A buck was a buck was a buck even if it came from fascists. But, some executives knew that Germany was up to other things than just the war effort. Some business executives knew that Germany had genocide in mind — and willingly helped the Nazis manifest those genocidal intentions.
Deutsche Bank may be one of the most corrupt enterprises ever to blacken capitalism’s eye. Over the course of their history, Deutsche Bank has financed multiple genocides.
That is a true, true fact: Deutsche Bank helped build Auschwitz. Had the Third Reich lived the thousand years it promised, at some point early on, Germany would have repaid its debt to Deutsche Bank plus interest — and that interest would have been Deutsche Bank’s profit from helping to murder 1.1 million people (that’s how many people died at Auschwitz). Do you think that anyone in Deutsche Bank’s executive ranks felt the least regret about said future profits and how they’d be derived?
That’s the problem with corporations. They can be used to magnify a culture’s worst attributes. German culture made what it did to Jews and gay people and Romani people — and everyone it feared or didn’t like — acceptable. The neighborhoods surrounding Dachau (a medieval town inside Germany versus Auschwitz which was based inside Occupied Poland) could smell the human flesh burning in Dachau’s ovens. They had to brush the ashes of those same people from their heads and shoulders. As disgusted as they may have been, they did nothing. Makes one wonder what they were actually disgusted with.
A thousand plus years of evolution from various Germanic tribes into a Germany filled with proud Germans who felt deeply connected to their “German-nss” produced group think and compliance within the group. Sure, sure, there were plenty of “Good Germans” but, either there weren’t nearly enough of them or they simply weren’t good enough. They still turned a blind eye to something happening right in front of them, choosing to “not rock the boat” instead of demanding integrity and humanity from those governing them.
The slow creep of evil is insidious, isn’t it? Did anyone at Deutsche Bank directly murder a single Jew at Auschwitz? Not in the literal literal sense, no. Probably not. Would the Third Reich have looked elsewhere for their construction loan had Deustsche Bank turned them down? Absolutely. And they’d have found someone else to underwrite it all. But, when the very fascistic German government turned to their favorite financier, their favorite financier didn’t bat an eye despite knowing for a fact what ITS money was about to be used for.
Deutsche Bank has blood on its hands and always will. They’re Lady MacBeth to Hitler’s MacBeth and those damned spots will never come out.
When a big corporation like AT&T donates money to individual politicians, it’s doing it with the understanding that that money just bought that politician’s vote. If the corporation doesn’t get what it wants with its donation, if it’s clever, it’ll take its next political donation somewhere else. So, we can assume that when AT&T donates its money to any of the 147 Republicans who still insist that Joe Biden stole Donald Trump’s presidential victory, they are willing to stand by everything that politician comes with. They may pooh-pooh such complicity on their part, but that’s always how authoritarians their own terrible behavior — they see the “greater good” that makes all of fascism’s negatives worth it: the trains now run on time.
Under most circumstances where corporate bad behavior negatively impacts the citizenry, the citizenry can turn to the democracy of the marketplace where they vote with their dollars. In an age of social media where even silly, little kerfuffles can suddenly go nuclear, corporations manage their reputations like hawks mated with Tiger Moms. So — why are they willing to stand — as AT&T does — with politicians who’ve made it crystal clear that they no longer believe in the political system that supports the economic system corporations like AT&T rely on? These foolish corporations are setting themselves up for failure without even realizing it. But then, greed has never, ever, EVER made anyone smarter.
Least of all a “corporation”.
What makes AT&T’s donations to insurrectionists, seditionists and traitors — that is what they are and it is what they will be revealed to be — especially worth note is that the money being used sat, at one point, in the pockets of their customers. AT&T is turning some of its customers’ money against their customers’ own best interests! Any customer still using AT&T therefore (when there is competition) could easily be hurting their own future every time they pay their cable, internet or cell phone bill.
Relationships are all about compromise. No marriage can survive without copious amounts of it. The bottom line is incredibly simple: if you want any relationship to survive, be prepared to compromise pretty much everything. That means whoever (or whatever) you’re compromising with better we worth the compromise. You will be living with that compromise’s results for some time — for better or worse. Ideally, a great compromise makes no one happy because everyone had to give so much to get a piece of what they wanted. If that something is a successful marriage or business relationship, the compromise will (hopefully) be entirely worth whatever was sacrificed. But not all compromises work like that. Some compromises aren’t compromises at all because one of the two sides never had any intention of giving up anything to get what it wants.
Evil never compromises. Never, ever, EVER. That means when you negotiate with it? You’re the only one compromising. Evil will have remained where it is while you will have moved yourself a little closer to it. No compromise is a bad compromise (from the other side of the negotiating table’s point of view). Our news media, insisting that both sides do it because (presumably) both sides are exactly the same, insist that Democrats negotiate with (and, of course, compromise with) Republicans. In normal world, that makes sense because (at least on the surface) it’s always made sense. But the Republican Party of Saint Ronnie Reagan is deader than Lee Atwater’s soul (which is even deader than Lee Atwater – former business partner of Paul Manafort). The remaining Nixonians coalesced around Donald Trump as did the rest of the GOP as Trump slowly rolled them all up into a massive web of compromise.
One thing Republicans are good at that Democrats aren’t is marching in lock step. Like right now. Republicans are marching in lock step as they try to destroy our democracy. They march in lock step as they gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters because if they relied on selling their ideas to win elections, they’d lose every election. Republicans march in lock step as they strip away reproductive rights from every woman in Texas. They march in lock step as they rape the environment, ditch all regulation, make peace with COVID-19 and openly plot insurrection. They march in lock step as they try to shove permanent white minority rule down a rapidly diversifying America’s throat.
When our news media clicks its tongue at Democrats for refusing to be “bi-partisan”, what they’re saying is Democrats should negotiate with Republicans even if Republicans are terrorists, seditionists and traitors. Even if everything the Republicans are trying to accomplish was demonstrably evil (as it pretty much is).
In the Warsaw Ghetto — the German Army’s collecting point for trips to Auschwitz — a group of Jews insisted they could “negotiate” with the Nazis. The Judenrat — this council of traitors — took over the job of “governing” the ungovernable ghetto which meant 1) selecting who’d be collected from the ghetto and sent to the camps or 2) betraying any Jews inside the ghetto who were plotting against the Germans (because every time the Jewish resistance acted, killing German soldiers, the Germans retaliated). To the Judenrat, keeping the peace — compromising with absolute evil — was preferable to resistance even if both led to the same terrible conclusion.
I would not compromise with a Nazi, nor with a white supremacist, nor with a Republican. Those three things could all walk into a bar inside one person — and they frequently do.
Here’s a dirty, little secret: having money doesn’t make you smarter than anyone — even if your money bought you a first class education. Harvard and Yale graduate plenty of morons — most of them white — who got in on the strength of their name and connections, got graded on a curve because of donations and graduated because it was always a fait accompli. Being smart and having great ideas is incredibly important , the caveat being that different people are smart in different ways (we don’t value their smarts the same but that’s our failing, not theirs). But not even the greatest idea can get from idea to the idea’s profitable exploitation without plenty of other people making that exploitation possible via their direct contributions. There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism. There’s everything inherently wrong with crony capitalism. Our democracy is being threatened as much by crony capitalism as by racism (and racism is at the core of everything wrong with America). And atop the corruptest of the corrupt of crony capitalists, the capo di tutti capo himself is Charles Koch.
Charles and his brother are both libertarians. That means they think Ayn Rand can write — the first giveaway that they have terrible judgment. Libertarianism is all about stroking the individual’s ego. It’s not shocking that the overwhelming majority of libertarians are men. It is a profoundly selfish way of seeing the world. A profoundly self-delusional way too. The rugged individual is nothing more than an overgrown ten year old who thinks “freedom” is “you’re not the boss of me”. He wants all the benefits of freedom but has zero interest in any of the responsibilities.
That’s the thing most conservatives don’t want to talk about when it comes to freedom — the part of freedom that’s NOT free — the responsibilities. There will always be and must be dynamic tension between individual freedom and collective freedom. While the goal is to have as much individual freedom as possible, individual freedom must always be balanced with collective freedom. Too much collective freedom will harm personal freedom. But too much personal freedom will destroy collective freedom completely. That’s where “personal responsibility” comes in. Our freedoms rely on other people respecting ours. If we don’t respect theirs then ours are already compromised.
For the record, “owning” a gun is not an enumerated freedom. Citizens — per the Second Amendment — can “keep and bear” arms if the well-regulated militia says they can. If the militia says they can’t, they’re shit outta luck.
It is a stone cold fact that Koch money is making our environment uninhabitable. It’s killing wildlife and destroying ecosystems. It’s denying the very factors that are costing not just Americans but people all over the globe their property, their hopes and dreams, their lives. Environmental disasters are going to create a diaspora unlike any other humans have ever seen before or inflicted on each other.
And Charles Koch wouldn’t have it any other way. He’ll tell you he “knows better”. The basis for his knowing better (he thinks) is that he’s got more money in his bank account than you. It’s the only fact he’ll set down on the table. He thinks it makes his opinion more right than yours.
Too few people get into public service to make the world a better place. Too many get into it because they see it as the first stop of a money train. They see public service as a way for the public to service them. Ask yourself — how did public servant Mitch McConnell get to be such a wealthy man. Yeah, sure, his rich wife (Elayne Chao) brought plenty of dough to the marriage, but Mitch was a rich man before that happened and Mitch did not come from any kind of wealth. Mitch didn’t invent anything or come up with ideas that could go viral. Even Mitch’s military service was truncated (and why does mentioning Mitch’s military service record and the word “sodomy” make Mitch go quiet?) How did Mitch McConnell become wealthy enough that Elaine Chao didn’t pre-nup a wall around all her dough? The question stands exactly the same if Elaine did pre-nup that wall.
The Koch Brothers and the Mercers (Robert and daughter Rebekah) have always had it in for democracy. It’s simply too unreliable a vehicle for aspiring authoritarians and establishment white supremacists (and there most definitely IS a wide beam of quiet white supremacy in the Republican Party). Their preference is for politicians to choose their voters and not the other way around. As money does in a political system that gives money all the advantages, Koch money has always bought all the influence it needed. As big a problem as all that Koch money is, the much bigger problem by far is the willingness of all those Republicans and too many Democrats to stuff that money into their pockets.
We’re all clear, I hope, that every penny of that Koch money comes with strings if not ropes. It comes with greedy (albeit legal) expectations and none of them is concerned with the common good. They’re concerned with the Kochs getting their way — forever if possible. As the Reagan years waned, the right wing money saw a rapidly diversifying America which meant looming demographical extinction for white power. Being as pragmatic with their politics as they are with their money, the Kochs and their think tanks saw that the presidency was almost entirely beyond Republican reach. Minus Bush v Gore and Russia cheating on Trump’s behalf, the GOP couldn’t win a presidency if their lives depended on it — and that’s even WITH the Electoral College’s heavy tilt toward rural voters and away from urban voters. In the Legislative branch, the right wing money saw hope. The House is too mercurial what with having to run for office constantly. The Senate — also heavily weighted away from the majority of Americans (Senate Democrats represent 41.5 million more Americans than do Republican Senators) — would be easier to dominate. The Koch dollars have flowed accordingly — buying pretty much every Republican vote.