Donald Trump counts on what Steve Bannon called “flooding the zone with shit”. It’s the “How To Make A Rabbit Hole” playbook.
Obfuscation and distraction are the point. While we spin our wheels in consternation at the latest outrage, Trump is busily thieving somewhere else in the environment or laying the groundwork for an even bigger score somewhere down the line.
Each Trumpian lie is a rabbit hole. The danger — and our press simply can’t keep out of it — is that you’ll follow Trump down whichever one he’s braying from. There’s never a good outcome.
“It’s a hoax” is a rabbit hole. Whatever Trump calls a “hoax” is guaranteed to be one hundred percent true. Nothing hoax about. The only correct answer is “No, it’s not”. Any scratching of the head and wondering “Wow, does he really think it’s a hoax?” is the rabbit hole reaching up to grab you and pull you into it.
No, of course Trump doesn’t think it’s a hoax. He knows better. But now that he’s got you asking questions about it, it might as well be real because here we all are talking about it. The rabbit hole just became real.
Mike Pence also loves a good rabbit hole. Ever watch him answer a question?
Yesterday — in the face of record-setting infection numbers, Mike Pence announced how proud he was of our efforts to stop the coronavirus from spreading. Proud? Of what? Of the fact that we’re pretty much the only country in the world getting its ass kicked like this — because we insist on denying science? If you ask Mike the obvious question — “Mike, what the hell are you talking about?”, Mike’s answer will be pure rabbit hole.
Ask Mitch McConnell about Merrick Garland. Or Oleg Deripaska. Or how much money he’s personally taken from Russia over the years. Or why he participated in the coup d’etat that put a Russian intelligence asset in power.
Moscow Mitch will hummina-hummina at you with his beady, red-rimmed Treason Turtle eyes all while leading you down a rabbit hole.
As I said — it’s all about obfuscation.
The trick? Don’t go there. Refuse to follow them. You know the argument’s going to be specious anyway. “Thanks anyway” is a perfectly good way to let them know you won’t be joining them down in bullshitland.
“Fair” is kind of like the Buddhist notion of “Bodhisattva”. A Bodhisattva is someone on the road to enlightenment. But they’re not there yet. If they think they’re there? They’re definitely not “there”. Enlightenment is as hard a goal to achieve as “fair” is. It’s more surreal than real, more abstract than plastic.
And it’s so personal. What’s fair to me might not be fair to you. Even when we compromise (the goal, really), if the compromise is “fair”? Neither of us will like it much; it’s not “fair”.
“Fair” gets harder when there are multiple competing interests whose concept of “fair” contradicts one another. Maybe the problem is we value “fair” to the individual over “fair” to the group. Assuming everyone’s rights are being respected (a big assumption), it’s hard to justify being fair to one person at the expense of a large chunk of everyone else.
When we say “All men are created equal”, we better mean “everyone” is created equal — before the law (which is what it means). If the Law treats everyone fairly — that is, “equally”, there’s a better chance we’ll feel that we’ve been treated fairly. That’s all we can ask. It’s the consistency that creates a basis for “fairness” in our minds. That’s why the Rule Of Law — as a concept — gives us the best possible chance to experience the most “fairness” for the most people.
Racism is inherently unfair. Ditto bigotry, misogyny and every other form of irrational, ignorant hatred.
But, just like “fair” is a human construct, so’s the Rule Of Law. We invented it. And though we want to think it’s “automatic” or autonomous, it isn’t. It does not self-perpetuate. It’s not some perpetual motion machine. We have to care for these ideas and nurture them. We have to renew both the ideas and our passion for them.
As the Trump years have taught us, if you start taking “fairness” for granted, you’re doomed to a life of perpetual unfairness. Minority rule — as an example? Not fair. Mitch McConnell hijacking the judiciary — to give hard core conservative judges power over an increasingly progressive majority? Not even remotely fair. Committing treason to win the presidency in 2016? Don’t get me started…
“Fair” is a muscle we have to exercise every single day. We have make sure we’re being fair — despite the unfairness around us. If we don’t exercise our own sense of fair — that is, fair for the group — our “fairness” muscle will atrophy, wither and die. Before long, we’ll become like every Trump supporter. Their idea of “fair” begins and ends with them.
You want fair? Be fair. Have receipts ready to demonstrate what real fairness looks like. Be prepared to persist. “Unfair” is the bully’s preference and there are plenty of bullies around.
For starters, those whose freedoms are being infringed upon or ignored. They care.
But then, right-wing people only ever think of their own freedom when they think of that word. Everyone else’s freedom is secondary at best.
That includes their freedom to vote.
At its core, this election, this fight — it is about freedom: the group’s freedom over the individual’s freedom (to undermine the group’s freedom).
That’s what racism is — it’s the racist asserting that their rights supersede their victims’ rights. If their victims’ rights were automatically respected, the racist would lose instantly — because we’d “baked in” our intolerance of racism. But we’ve done the opposite — and baked in our tolerance of racism.
Racism exists because we let it exist — no other reason.
That changed. Americans are taking to the streets every single day to protest racism and all the terrible thing it’s done to specific people. But, also we’re protesting the fact that We The People tolerated it for so long. We allowed statues of racists and traitors to go up. We allowed them to remain in place. We accepted their “messaging” — that some peoples rights are better than other peoples’.
The times in my life when I’ve been proud to be an American had everything to do with accomplishments (the moon landing) and nothing to do with our “system”. I’ve been taught that our system is superior — with the words “freedom” and “liberty” being liberally tossed in — but never specifically “why” we were better.
I don’t know when Americans lost interest in our process or if we ever had any interest in it. Maybe the problem is democracy’s damned hard to pull off. You can’t ever take it for granted. You can’t just throw money at it.
Hmmmmm… maybe that’s another of our problems. We’ve confused money with democracy. The more money you have, the more “democracy” you have. That is, the more your vote counts.
The RW money — the Kochs, the Mercers — had a huge advantage going in to this. They had money of course. But they also had “passion”. They cared enough about what they wanted to do something. The Kochs have been behind gerrymandering and the hijacking of the judiciary. When people vote repeatedly but never get their way — or feel the ominous pressure of judges who disapprove of who they are (so, it doesn’t really matter what they’ve done) — they get cynical. They stop taking part in the process because what’s the point?
They stop voting.
They begin to act like victims expecting their victimization to go on forever.
Rapists rape because they don’t care about the word “no”. It means nothing to them. It’s not a coincidence that every sexual deviant in office (that we know of — to be fair) has an “R” next to their name. That’s why child molesters like Roy Moore can run as Republicans. They’re the “Rights Of The Rapist Over The Rights Of The Rapist’s Victim” party.
That’s the answer to “how come Trump’s doing it anyway?” He’s a rapist. Rapists do what they want. He’s gotten away with it because his party is complicit. And they are — for the moment — getting away with it because WE were complicit for so long — tolerating more and more of our rights being trampled (with the caveat that they were always being trampled).
Progressives want as many people as possible to thrive and flourish. E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. The more there are in the “many”, the better the “one” will be. That is American Exceptionalism — our diversity. That is the majority that voted against Trump in 2016 and 2018 and who will again vote against Trump this year.
I bet a more accurate assessment of 2016 would have Hillary Clinton and We The People decimating Donald Trump. Take Russia out of the picture and Trump certainly does not win Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin — and therefore the Electoral College (a whole “institution” meant to limit the freedom of the voters to have their say and way).
What scares Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Bill Barr, Mikes Pompeo, Flynn & Pence more than anything? Aside from how guilty they are, it’s how small a minority of Americans they represent. Seeing the majority suddenly rise up — taking to the streets every day — terrifies them.
I wonder if Donald Trump realized last night — as he gazed at all those empty blue seats in Tulsa — if the end was near. He’s gotten away with murder. Literally.
From a purely branding point of view, it really sucks to be Republicans right now.
If you’re still a card-carrying member of the GOP, think of all the awful things your brand is now co-branded with — joined at the hip and head like the most freakish conjoined twins ever: overt racism, religious extremism, self-destructive intolerance, backwoods misogyny, Bond Villain corruption and the worst kind of treason — purely cynical treason without an ounce of ideology.
Wow. Pick a side of history and it’s guaranteed the Republicans will run toward the wrong side. That’s also the Republican Brand now: being wrong about everything. But then, this isn’t news to the GOP. Whenever it was that the Koch Brothers decided to use their money to alter American politics — the Will Of The People be damned — that’s really when 2016’s coup d’etat formally began. The extreme Right Wing Money saw demographic extinction on the horizon — white guys would become such a minority that even rich guys and their money couldn’t stop them from losing power. Rich white guys weren’t having it. They got the poor white guys riled up against all those “others”.
Been there, done this. Again and again and again.
The “Republican Party” is about to check into the sarcophagus in the History Of American Political Parties Graveyard right next to the Whigs’ moldy pavilion. I hear the view sucks.
It’s a “Republican Party” as a brand is finished. Its luster won’t improve between now and November 3. In fact, I’ll wager, the worst is yet to come.
Plenty of people with living, breathing consciences have shredded their Republican Party membership cards. In the media, there’s Nicolle Wallace, David Jolley, Steve Schmidt and Jennifer Ruben among others. They’ve all vocally disassociated themselves. They, somehow, can’t comfort themselves with the tax breaks they’ve gotten while the rest of the country is betrayed.
As much as those on the left might love to have a free ride here — where everything we want becomes a wish granted — that’s as unhealthy as letting the right run riot. We know what that feels like. This isn’t a question of compromising with lunatics. We’re talking to reasonable people after all. Even when we disagreed with them vehemently, they were still reasonable people.
This blog is called “How To Live Bullshit Free”. The trick to living bullshit free is understanding that each and every one of us has a mountain of our own bullshit to deal with before we even think about looking at anyone else’s. Some of us have whole mountain ranges of bullshit in front of us. And dealing with your own bullshit isn’t a “one n done” proposition. Bullshit’s like zombies: damned hard to kill. But if you don’t deal with your bullshit, your bullshit will deal with you.
No one wants to be at bullshit’s mercy. It has none. I don’t want to be at yours and, believe me, you do not want to be at the mercy of mine.
I wouldn’t recommend “conservative” because, like “Republican”, the brand’s been destroyed by the people who swore by it. We get it — as their name says, conservatives want to conserve. The problem is what conservatives want to conserve — America circa 1850 when white Christian men (especially those with money) did what they wanted to anyone they wanted.
We’re back to the America Republicans want us to be. Sucks that it’s an America the overwhelming majority of Americans reject out of hand. Throw in a stolen election and this is why even “Conservative Party” would just result in good people dealing with bad marketing when they should be defending their ideas and ideals.
What should these good people call themselves? Normally, I’d be brimming with “helpful suggestions”. Something about this assignment fails to inspire. “Moderate Party”? Sounds dull as dishwater — like a party that hates enthusiasm about anything. “Heal America Party”? Sounds too sanctimonious already — and the moment they craft a platform, they’ll contradict themselves because someone won’t feel “healed”.
What does one call modern “people without a country”? Immigrants.
Mmmmmm… Not seeing “The Immigrant Party”. Not that there shouldn’t be one — and not that such a party (if it really spoke from the heart of the immigrant experience) wouldn’t be a welcome addition as we attempt to make our politics more reflective of us. And it’s not to say that this new party couldn’t speak to or represent people wanting to come here and be new Americans.
This new party is more diverse than that. I bet guys like Michael Steele would join it (he used to run the RNC). If it was moderate enough, I bet a fair number of conservative Democrats would check it out — and feel a fair amount of camaraderie.
The truth is, plenty of older African American voters are “conservative”. That is, they’re skeptical first. They want change but they want to make sure it’s the right change; they’re willing to be patient. They, too, might like this new party.
The same is true of Latinos and Chinese Americans and pretty much every group I can think of. It’s this diversity thing. Politics wouldn’t divide along racial lines if racism hadn’t been one of the country’s founding principles. Not that we can ever completely vent racism’s stink, but now that we’re all staring at it, we stand a better chance of not succumbing to its poison.
You see what I’m seeing here? A party as diverse on the “right” as we’ll have on the “left”.
But I still haven’t answered the question I started with: what to call them?
Maybe it’s not on us to name them. Maybe that’s something they need to do for themselves — pick a word, a short phrase, an icon — that tells us who they are. That speaks from their hearts to ours.
That’s what they’re going to need above all — the capacity to speak to the rest of us because they relate to the rest of us. This new party, I suspect, will better understand that all Americans (minus the 30% – 40% who are Trumpian) understand that we’re pulling the cart in the same direction. The differences are far less than everything we have in common.
And often, our differences are more like “framing” issues. Perspective helps those.
Whatever this new party calls itself — whatever their mission statement — I look forward to sitting down with them and getting down to the hard, serious business of fixing what Donald Trump and the Republican Party did to America.
Let’s start with this understanding — even in the world of beauty pageants, there are rules. There are laws even — and cheating even in something as trivial as a “who’s prettier?” contest — carries actual legal peril (beyond just losing a wardrobe department crown). Not that it ever stopped Donald Trump.
Our problem is so simple. We have only two political parties. They no longer want to live in (or govern) the same country. The Democrats want to live in this country. Republicans want to live in that country instead.
In this country, where the Democrats want to live, democracy rules. So do diversity, fairness and a level playing field. In that country, the one Republicans want to call home, there is no level playing field, there are just fields where the rest of us are meant to work our lives away for no money. It’s not a coincidence that during the Trump presidency, the rich have gotten exponentially richer. It’s also not a coincidence that the Covid-19 pandemic made the richest of the richer even richer still.
In pursuit of greed, The GOP sold out to the Koch Brothers & the Mercers then Donald Trump and his Russian Oligarch Pals (led by Vlad Putin). So long as they get richer and hold onto power, nothing else matters to Mitch McConnell and what remains of the GOP. Do ya suppose there’s a reason Republicans – and only Republicans – have worked so hard to suppress investigations into what happened during election 2016 and then lie about what those investigations uncovered? Donald Trump keeps projecting what happened. Why don’t we listen to him?
The word Trump keeps floating out there like a beach ball on a hitting T is “illegitimate”. He fears the world perceives his presidency as illegitimate. Why would that be, I wonder?
Sociopath though he is, Trump still knows enough to understand he can never stop being POTUS. The second he ceases to be protected by that ludicrous DoJ rules that says “sitting presidents can’t be indicted”, he WILL be indicted and he knows it. At the very least, Trump will go from being “unindicted co-conspirator number one” in the court case that sent Michael Cohen to prison to being INDICTED co-conspirator number one. Why wouldn’t he?
And — Trump knows this too — that first indictment will set off an explosion of falling dominoes across a variety of jurisdictions. Trump and his family and their businesses will get sued by virtually everyone. And law enforcement (now under the Rule Of Law again) will come after him for everything he’s done. They’ll have to because that’s what the Rule Of Law says they MUST do.
The Rule Of Law says Donald Trump has never been President of the United States. It can PROVE Donald Trump has never been POTUS. It has remedies, too.
An illegitimate POTUS never had the authority to nominate anyone for anything. It’s like any of us trying to nominate the next pope. We won’t be getting into that room actually. We don’t have the authority to be there. And if we walked in the door and voted anyway? Do you think they’d count it just cos we voted?
And if we brought a gang with us (including our pal Vladimir) and took over the voting — cheating in myriad obvious ways to get a result that looks suspiciously wrong (as in the majority of bishops there did not vote the way the vote came out) — do you think that vote would stand up to any sort of historical smell test?
No, it would not.
Retrospect will not be kind to us. We have stood by for three years while a soft coup d’etat runs roughshod over and dismantles everything we thought we were. Our news media has convinced us that crimes committed against us — especially out in the open — can’t possibly be crimes. That’s it. That’s the logic.
And as faulty on its surface as that is, we need to see Donald Trump’s very legitimacy as faulty. The framing shouldn’t be “Donald Trump — an unusual potus — won an election so that’s just how it is”. It should be “Donald Trump is a traitor — working hand-in-glove with Vladimir Putin (and other foreign actors) — to circumvent the will of the American People — including his election and now re-election”.
This will matter “bigly” as Trump would put it (or “big league” — it’s so hard to decipher what that inarticulate shit gibbon is saying sometimes!) when we get to the prosecution and punishment phases of what’s to come. if the receipts prove that, in fact, Donald Trump’s election was fraudulent, then we need to consider the ripple effects of that fraud.
To go back to the beauty pageant — if I cheat to win and my cheating gets discovered? They ain’t letting me keep the crown or anything else that went with sweet victory. They’re taking it all back and kicking my lying ass to the curb — where it bloody well belongs. Car thieves (when caught) don’t get to keep the ride they stole. Even the movie “LaLaLand” had to give back the Oscar it thought it won (to “Moonlight”). The reason? The LEGITIMATE winner gets to keep the spoils.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s how it will be when the Rule Of Law becomes a “thing” again.
The Rule Of Law will insist that we prosecute everyone who violated it (especially if they were trying to undermine its very foundations). It will insist we do it fairly of course. And, if we find these people guilty? The Rule Of Law will insist that we punish them.
if we want to keep the Rule Of Law? We better do as it says.
And the Rule Of Law will insist that none of the judicial nominees Donald Trump nominated can remain on the federal benches they occupy — because Donald Trump never had the authority given him by We The People to nominate said judges. Stolen authority is not THE authority. Added bonus? Plenty of the judges Trump nominated lied repeatedly during their nomination hearings before the Senate. If they indeed committed perjury (boy, do we have receipts!), they can’t remain judges. We’ll impeach them — and they will be impeached.
We’ve traveled miles from where we began with the Trump saga. Imagine if, on the day Trump was sworn in, we’d been as vigilant about Trump, his corruption, his lies, his racism, his misogyny, his TREASON as we are now. Imagine if our news media had been capable of adding information so that their framing of Donald Trump constantly updated; we wouldn’t still be treating him like a “different kind of potus” as some of the news media still think of him. We’d be treating him like the treasonous, corrupt pretender he’s always been.
Yeah, I’m old enough to remember when saying Russia too loudly got eye rolls. When using the word “Traitor” got groans. When comparing Trump to Hitler ended the argument cos you went “there”. But “there”, it turns out, is where we all should have been.
Our choice is going to be incredibly simple. If we don’t void the results of election 2016 — if we allow criminals bent on undermining our democratic institutions to get away with it — we will be setting ourselves up for failure. It would be like letting racists get away with “Slavery, Part II”. Not outlawing slavery was a colossal mistake that will haunt the republic forever. We’re still fighting the Civil War. Make no mistake. It’s still a going concern.
And the same forces that betrayed us then for immoral reasons are betraying us now. They’ve never actually been down with representative democracy because people never want to vote for their ideas. They can’t grasp why no one else wants to live in the 50’s.
The difference between good storytellers and bad storytellers is good storytellers know that a satisfying story will always answer the most important question of all about any character: WHY? Why did the character do what they did to propel the story forward?
Important distinction: “Just because” is not an adequate answer.
Funny thing? “Just because” is the answer 90% of our press seems to accept as “why” Donald Trump does what he does. Why does Donald Trump treat Vladimir Putin like a god? “Just because”.
Why do the Republicans let Donald Trump get away with dismantling the Constitution and the Rule Of Law right before our very eyes? “Just because”.
Why did Trump wait almost two months before doing a goddamned thing about the coronavirus pandemic coming at us? Why did he insist on America buying huge quanties of hydroxychloroquine even though we had no hard data that it was efficacious? “Just because”.
Weird, huh, that none of those “just bceauses” feels even remotely satisfying. Or true.
Take it from a professional storyteller — who relies on getting characters right because the instant we get a character wrong, the audience will bail — no one in the whole history of the world has ever done anything “just because”. They may not have been able to articulate what motivated them, but something motivated them. Even existential boredom — as a cause — shouts “motivation!”
There are myriad answers to WHY Donald Trump does what he does. None of it is a mystery. It is ludicrous that even now there are “journalists” who ask themselves, “Hmmm, I wonder why Trump did that?” as if a mountain range of data didn’t answer that question to a very fine point. Trump’s father and grandfather were unsavory men. Everything about Trump’s own personal history is redolent of bullshit and clumsy concoction.
Everyone in Manhattan knows the truth about Donald Trump — what he is (a con man) and what he isn’t (rich). FFS — as Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017 (when the Republicans in control were doing everything they could to undermine the Steele Dossier) — while doing their due diligence BEFORE BEGINNING their formal oppo research on Donald Trump (as they were hired to do by the Republican Washington Free Beacon), what they found in publicly available material (repeat — IN PUBLICLY AVAILABLE MATERIAL — accessible by anyone in the public and everyone in the news media) convinced them that Donald Trump had been laundering Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos.
Was anyone who watched Trump’s casinos GO bankrupt at the time thinking anything else? Of course not! We should ask (another time) — WHY did/does our main stream news media LET Donald Trump get away with so much obvious criminality over the course of his lifetime? What’s up with THAT? As I said — another time.
The answer to WHY? where Trump is concerned has always been there. It’s not hard. All one has to do is accept it (hell, Trump’s been confessing it all along!) Donald Trump is corrupt. Always has been. We don’t have to keep proving it. It’s as much a stone cold fact as “we are carbon-based life form”. Yes, we are. That is 100% correct.
Also 100% correct and 100% verifiable — Donald Trump has a long-standing relationship with Russia, Russian mobsters, Russian intelligence and Russian corruption. If we took what we have — in public — and took it to a civil trial (where all we need is the preponderance of the evidence — 51%), we’d win hands down. If we took it to a criminal trial — where we have to be dead certain?
Same result. We’ve got receipts. In our hands. We simply refuse to acknowledge that fact.
WHY, I wonder.
There’s not much the average citizen can do — even if they shout their heads off on Twitter to lots likes. We don’t have the kind of megaphone that MSNBC or CNN has. We don’t, most of us, have the followers that your average mediocre reporter does. Our voices simply don’t “broadcast” as wide as a working journalist’s does.
But, those journalists should know that We The People have deep concerns about how the Fourth Estate is failing to live up to its Constitutionally mandated obligation to be the final check on power and its abuse. Whether it’s lack of imagination, incompetence, lack of talent or curiosity, or just plain cowardice and corruption — they are failing us. And the tell is that strange refusal to ever ask “WHY?”
Why does Trump do what he does? Why did Mitch McConnell violate every “norm” imaginable to hijack the judiciary (oops — just answered my own question — silly me — Mitch did what he did TO HIJACK THE JUDICARY – for the very purpose he’s using it now!)
Why did Lindsey Graham do the strange back flips he did about Trump? Why does Devin Nunes behave the way he does? Why does Bill Barr regularly violate the spirit of the law like Brett Kavanaugh pumped up on beer at a frat party? Why did the Senate refuse to meet its obligation to America and convict Donald Trump of corruption?
C’mon now. We all know the answers to these questions — even our main stream news media. When we turn off the cameras and get as up close and personal as social distancing allows — I betcha the overwhelming majority of them WILL say out loud what the rest of America has been screaming for years now: Donald Trump is a fully owned asset of Vladimir Putin & Russia.
And Saudi Arabia. And China. And the UAE. And Turkey. And Israel. And who knows who else.
We would have gotten to the end of this awful story we’re all living inside of eons ago if our news media had just asked “Why” and stuck to their guns about getting an answer before moving on to anything else. “WHY are Mexicans rapists?” “Why do you grab pussies?”
Hey, even ask WHY “but her emails” — especially now, in hindsight — with every member of the Trump family using private email servers just like they accused HRC of doing. Yes, please — ask “WHY?”
I’ll answer my own question — WHY does our main stream news media persist in doing this? Because “both sides do it” has distorted everything. If both sides do it, they both do it for the same reason: “politics”. See? Easy? No more worrying about the truth — the real WHY people do what they do.
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).
Remember back not so long ago when wacky people on the left said things like “Russia controls Trump!” and people would laugh at us? Remember back when people would, reluctantly, compare Trump & Republicans to Nazis and other people would lose their shit because “how dare you compare anyone to Nazis!”?
What Trump & the Republican Party are doing is (trying to) turn America into the authoritarian paradise they’ve always dreamed of. Conservatives want to conserve what is, remember. And what is is what remains of the past. Conservatives want to turn America back into the White Authoritarian Paradise of their dreams — a fondly remembered slave state circa 1850 where women couldn’t vote, black people were counted as 3/5 of a white person and owning other humans was justified by the gobbledygook in their 2500 year old book of supposed wisdom.
The precedent to our problem was a decision made by the RW money — the Kochs, the Mercers — to USE their money to subvert America’s future to what THEY wanted it to be (the actual Will of the People be damned). The Koch’s saw demographic annihilation in their future and moved to do something about it. Since they couldn’t effectively stop America from becoming more diverse, they put their money into limiting any political power those diverse Americans might have for the foreseeable future.
That’s the whole point of Mitch McConnell’s mission to hijack the judiciary. To reject the Will Of The People in favor of the will of the Koch Bros.
So far, Mitch & the Republicans have managed to work in the extreme background. Now they’ve been dragged into the light. Mitch has said he won’t allow any more “rescue packages” for ordinary Americans. He wants to see Blue States all go bankrupt (never mind that it’s blue states that literally PAY FOR red states and, as we speak, red states are plunging into the very same economic chaos but without the capacity or dynamism afterwards to resurrect themselves).
Mitch will change his tune because he’ll have to or the people of Kentucky will come after him with torches and pitchforks. But even then, Mitch will try to limit the help ordinary Americans get. Mitch won’t have “socialism” in America — not unless it’s corporate socialism in which case — bring it!
The initial Republican coup d’etat relied on our reluctance to accept that the Republicans were capable of doing something so monstrous, evil and corrupt. That was just Democrats being hyperbolic and “political”. That was what the news media told us, remember? Both sides do it anyway, right?
Now we all see how corrupt Republicans are. And now that Bill Barr has stripped himself naked in front of us all, we can see just how nakedly corrupt Barr is — as is the whole Republican game plan to permanently install minority rule. Barr wiped his ass with the Rule of Law then pissed all over it for good measure. Barr just said that the history of this time will get written by the winners — meaning himself and his corrupt Republican co-conspirators.
Um, no, Bill. That won’t happen. The majority of Americans don’t want what you want. They want the opposite and have voted that way only to have their votes suppressed, blocked or not counted. While Americans are too, too slow to take to the streets, when pressed, we do and we will.
Want to know if we’re pressed enough yet? Wisconsinites risked sickness and death to vote in a primary that was mostly focused on keeping a conservative state supreme court justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court bench. They didn’t just defeat this conservative shit, they blew him away with the turnout.
In order for Mitch McConnell to have his way, every single group Republicans, their racism, their misogyny, their bigotry, their cruelty, their greed, their ignorance, their parsimony, their incompetence, their treachery and their corruption have touched will have to lie down. That’s a lot of Americans.
It’s the majority of us, in fact. What separates an America from a Nazi Germany is that, even though most Germans did not, in fact, go along with what Hitler and the National Socialists were doing, all of those Germans were “German”. That’s a very powerful tribal connection and, being social creatures, the last thing any human wants is to be cast off from her tribe. To be ex-communicated from it.
Americans may feel kinship with other Americans but we’re also parts of many other tribes to which we feel deep connections. Now, more than ever, non-white tribes see themselves and their tribe’s particular relationship with America in stark relief. Californians feel kinship toward other Californians. Angelenos feel kinship toward other Agelenos.
Trump & his Republican co-conspirators can’t even count on the armed forces to back them up — should they push this to that level. Trump may be “commander-in-chief” but our soldiers have already face questions of whether or not they have to follow immoral orders. They don’t.
Making America’s voting entirely vote-by-mail will deprive Republicans of a significant device they’ve used to cheat — the vulnerability to the internet of voting systems. Only hand-marked ballots are completely unhackable (though a well-monitored vote-by-mail system comes in second).
The blue voting surges that started in 2018 and continued since have only increased in size and intensity. Again – despite (or maybe because of) dangerously partisan decisions by the SCOTUS (to force Wisconsinites to vote despite the pandemic), more Americans are voting. As Trump himself has said out loud: when more Americans vote, it’s bad for Republicans.
Donald and Mitch and Bill and Mike (Pompeo & Pence & Flynn) all expect America to just “give in” to this physical assault on our democratic republic. They’re going to be in for a very rude surprise. It simply will not go down that way.
African Americans aren’t going to just “go along with this”. Neither will Latino-Americans or Jewish Americans or Asian Americans or LGBTQ Americans or female Americans or ANY American who isn’t a die-hard, go-down-with-the-ship Trumpanista. Yes, yes, yes — Americans are quick to anger but slow to flash it in the streets (doing it on social media is so much easier). But everything’s changed now.
We were NEVER going to be an authoritarian shithole except in the minds of authoritarian shitheads.
The country will split apart before surrendering to what Trump and the Republican Party are doing. That will be sad and tragic. But the blue states that reconstitute into an American-like entity will eventually survive. The red states — formed into a blob of white rage and stupidity — will almost overnight become failed states and experiments in how not to run a country. They’ll be lucky to make it past six months with functioning electricity or running water.
What will Americans do when Trump tosses his Hail Mary in hopes of staying in power forever (knowing, as he does, that the moment he stops being potus, his legal problems begin)? Easy. We’ll (finally) step up and say “Enough is enough”. Trump-Russia, unfortunately, was complicated. Too complicated for a headlines-only news media to either get its head around or report. Trump-Ukraine was simpler.
We can all grasp what a quid pro quo is.
Trump-coronavirus is easy to understand. Trump’s corruption cost tens of thousands (so far) of American lives. It’s probably destroyed the economy for a while to come. It’s hard to vote for the guy (and his party) who killed your relatives, gutted your wallet and turned your future into bleak nothingness.
Never mind Trump’s base. It’s not about them and never was. This is about the rest of us — the Americans who genuinely care about America because we genuinely care about the wide variety of Americans with whom we share the country. At the end of the day, there simply is no conservative way out of this.
Trump may try to turn us into an authoritarian shithole — and, for a time, he may come close. But he will not succeed. There are simply too many of us and we’re waaaaay too angry.
It’s a simple fact: American journalism has, by and large, failed America. The press is the only job mentioned in the constitution. It’s obligated there to be the final check on power. Too bad they abdicated that responsibility eons ago.
I’d love to know at which J-School this virus first started. “Both sides do it” is the basis for every false equivalence that brought us to this catastrophe. It replaces healthy skepticism with outright cynicism — a very conservative thing to do. The only outcome is a bad outcome (it says) — so assume the worst of everyone regardless of the truth.
“Both sides do it” says that Bernie Madoff is a thief. And, so is Jean Valjean (the hero in Les Miserables). Madoff stole billions because he’s greedy. Valjean stole bread to feed the hungry. But — under “Both Sides Do It”, both men are thieves. So — both sides do it. The difference in scale and context means nothing. All information has equal weight — regardless of whether it’s true or false.
That’s the framing our press insists on. Fortunately, they’ve stopped giving air time to climate deniers (though they put Trump on their air, so I take that back). But, when they put climate deniers on their air regularly, they always sat the denier next to a climate scientist in a 50-50 shot. In the visual language, that means those two points of view are equal.
It’s true. We interpret visual images in very distinct ways. If you present two points of view in a way that says they’re equal regardless of whether they are or not, your framing has already undermined the truth.
Same token — if you present anything Donald Trump says without the context that he’s probably lying, then YOU are lying to your audience. You’re implying via your silence on the matter that, of course, he’s telling the truth. When he says things that (you know) are outright lies and you DON’T correct them immediately? They BECOME the truth. How can they not? No one contradicted their UNtruthfulness.
Each time a “Both Sides Do It” journalist gives the benefit of the doubt to someone or something undeserving (MSNBC’s Stephanie Rhule is especially guilty of this), they give credence to something that had none. “Yeah, but what if total bullshit were true…?” is not “journalism”. It’s indulging liars, fabulists and frauds.
“Both Sides Do It” journalists get suckered by job titles. It’s as if the moment Trump became POTUS, he became “infallible” to some of the press. NBC’s awful Kelly O’Donnell comes to mind. She’ll quote anything Trump says without an ounce of context. The president said it, Kelly insists. She’s just there to report what he says.
I’m curious… if Trump (for shits n giggles one day) said “And I know for a fact that Kelly O’Donnell kills puppies and eats them for breakfast every day”, would Kelly O repeat those words without comment — words that SHE KNOWS are not true? Would she suddenly decide then to be a little less “neutral”?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what Kelly O would do. She’s that terrible at being a journalist (hell, an open mic on a stand could do what she does).
When Mitch McConnell refused to give Merrick Garland so much as a hearing — THAT was a political act. Any Democrat reacting to Mitch’s abuse of his power is NOT acting politically. They’re pointing to an inappropriate political act.
Similarly — when Donald Trump violates the Constitution (say, by openly violating its emoluments clause every single day), it’s not a political act to point out that fact. It’s somewhere between law enforcement and patriotism. Similarly — when the Democrats called out the Republicans for working with the Russians to steal election 2016, that was not a political response.
It was a CRIME VICTIM trying to report that a CRIME had been committed — against them, against the American People, against democracy itself. FFS — it’s like a robbery victim calling the police — only to have them come and arrest HIM for being the crime’s victim.
That’s the most frustrating part of “Both Sides Do It” journalism. It constantly mischaracterizes what Democrats do, say and think.
Trust me, American Journalism, while my opposition to Donald Trump has a massive political element to it, another big element is purely patriotic. Both sides do not conspire with hostile foreign governments to undermine the integrity of an American election.
Both sides do not then cover up every aspect of that conspiracy in every way they can — out in the open even.
Both sides do not aspire to permanent minority rule.
Both sides do not — like the Kochs — intend to use their money to direct American politics how THEY want it to go.
Both sides do not think there are more important things (the economy) than living.
Both sides do not aspire to open up America’s economy — however many deaths it causes — because they need to win an election.
When this is all done and dusted — and we’ve buried the Republican Party alongside the Whigs — we must then turn our attention to the press.
We need to bury “Both Sides Do It” in the same cemetery.
Every TV show now begins with two words: “Previously On”.
On the one hand, it’s a nod to any newbies who might be watching. These are the basic story threads you need to know about. But, on the other hand, the “Previously On” part of a show is where the storytellers get to remind the whole audience about certain important, key details from the story’s past that are about to become very important to the story’s future.
The point is, “Previously On” begins with a very clear concept: THIS IS WHAT WE KNOW.
This is what the story — and its characters — have revealed and revealed about themselves so far. This is our accumulated, aggregated knowledge. This is our STARTING POINT going forward.
Why, I’d like to know, can’t journalists — well, our most of our video journalists for sure — do this simple, storytelling thing? Why can’t they aggregate a story before reporting on it? Why can’t they start from what we know so far instead of what we knew back then (whenever “then” was)?
It’s like watching a TV show where the audience is always miles ahead of the storytellers because the audience has been keeping track of the story while the tellers keep going back to “fade in”.
If America’s journalists had been keeping track of Donald Trump — adding to what we know about him and then basing all new reporting off of that — Donald Trump would never have been president in the first place. That is, he would never have gotten close enough for his pal Vladimir to vote suppress & cheat “wins” out of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan in 2016. That’s because even before Trump ran, we knew — meaning the information was available in the public domain if only one went looking for it (journalistically) — that Donald Trump was a criminal.
What motivated Fusion to sub-contract out to Christopher Steele, was the question. Steele had been The Guy running the MI6’s Russia Desk. He had the best sources inside Russia of anyone outside Russia. Steele’s rep was solid top to bottom. When the FBI went after FIFA’s Sep Blatter for corruption, they hired Chris Steele to do a lot of heavy lifting for them. He’s good.
But, WHY did Fusion feel the need to sub-contract anything out to Chris Steele? Simpson testified that, upon the hire, Fusion did what they always did — what any reputable research company would do: their due diligence. In Fusion’s case, it got its hands on every PUBLICLY AVAILABLE newspaper article, magazine piece, radio interview, TV appearance — anything and everything about Donald Trump. They researched online. They bought things from Amazon. They listened to Howard Stern. They went to old book stores and combed the shelves. They even went to the public library.
Simpson testified that what Fusion found there — in publicly available material — convinced them that Donald Trump was very possibly a criminal. A shitload of evidence pointed to Trump laundering Russian mob money through the buying and selling of condos in Trump properties and (especially) through his (now bankrupt) Atlantic City casinos. Regardless of whether Trump humiliated himself sexually with Russian hookers on video or humiliated himself by being overtly racist (on video) while Russian hookers pissed all over the bed in Moscow where the Obamas slept, Trump laundered Russian mob money. As much as Trump and those around him insist that “Trump’s a germaphone! He would never consort with hookers!” no one has yet asserted “And he would never launder money for Russian mobsters”.
Strange that, don’tcha think?
You’d think, in the story we’re all bingeing on because it’s our lives, that THAT kind of detail — that no one denies Trump’s a money launderer for the Russian mob — would make it onto the “Previously On” somewhere somehow. And yet, between CNN & MSNBC, no one seems to grasp how stories and storytelling works. They certainly don’t grasp that, in a sense, ALL stories begin with a collective sense of “Previously On”.
If our MSM had “Previously On-ed” this story from the beginning, here’s (a little of) what that “Previously On” would contain…
Mitch McConnell refused to let We The People in on the secret that Russia was actively trying to make Donald Trump POTUS. At the September “Gang Of 8 Meeting” in the White House, McConnell told Obama that if he made that fact public, McConnell would accuse Obama of politicizing the intelligence. In point of fact, Obama was trying to tell America the truth.
His political party openly broke every established norm that allowed for bi-partisan governance. Mitch McConnell denying Merrick Garland a hearing was a Constitutional crisis all by itself because one branch of govt was denying another its Constitutionally mandated role. We The People voted for Barack Obama. THAT was his authority to nominate judges.