For socialized creatures like humans, treason is about the highest crime imaginable. We rely upon the security, the health, and the sanctity of the group for our very survival. For our happiness. A democracy takes that reliance on the group and ups the ante: the people administering the group’s needs ARE the People, the members of the group itself. “L’etat c’est nous” might be how Louis XIV would penser of it. We need to trust that the people we’ve entrusted with our quotidian essentials aren’t working against us. Or working for people whose interests conflict with ours.
Why would someone turn on the group like that? We understand the dynamic tension between haves and have-nots within our culture. An awful lot of criminal behavior is just variations on greed. The lopsidedness we all feel – that’s because all the greed is getting squeezed into a smaller and smaller space – fewer haves. Let’s put aside the unfairness of it. Looking to get as much as you can with what ya got – that’s ordinary. It simply doesn’t compare to someone who – whatever issue they have with the group – goes directly to outsiders to find satisfaction.
That’s what Donald Trump has done. I think we can all agree that greed and nothing but motivates Donald Trump. Greed is what gets him out of bed in the morning. Personal enrichment is the only bottom line Trump has or recognizes. He registered as a Democrat in NY not because he embraced the Democratic Party’s values but because Trump, being cynical down to his mitochondria recognized that in order to get anything done in heavily Democratic NY, he had to be a Democrat. The reason he didn’t run for POTUS as a Democrat is because he knew he’d never win the nomination as a Democrat. If he had a shot, it’d be as a Republican.
Businesspeople are businesspeople, public servants are public servants. This, Democrats understand. It’s why Mike Bloomberg thinking he could win the Democratic nomination for president was “Never Gonna Happen!” stupid. Being entirely cynical, Trump knew he could play only to an equally cynical room – the Republican Party. The Never Trumpers in the GOP hate Trump and his methods. They don’t necessarily hate what Trump wants for the wealthy in America.
This is the petard on which the GOP will hoist itself – and, boy, is that gonna hurt!
Think of the “Good Germans” – the ones who disagreed vehemently with Hitler (including what he was doing right in front of them to the Jews) but who didn’t DO anything to change or stop it. At the end of the day, these folks were more German than “good”. Disagreeing was one thing, Actively disagreeing something else entirely. These Germans might call themselves “good”; I doubt their former Jewish neighbors – the ones who died in death camps – would concur. From a Jewish perspective, the pool of “Good Germans” is actually way smaller. It absolutely existed – but it wasn’t a “pool”; more like a puddle, Anyone NOT in that puddle collaborated even if in a small way to all those Jews – and Roma people and gay people and anyone else the Germans chose for execution – ending up in large piles of bodies or as ashes.
Evil isn’t a bond villain, it’s much more banal than that. It’s a bored Nazi guard at a death camp. It’s a Southern American sheriff stopping a Black driver just because they’re Black. It’s handing a shivering Native American a blanket you KNOW is infected with smallpox. It’s personally ordering a Japanese American family out of their home at gun point and sending them to a concentration camp just because they’re Japanese. None of these things had to happen. People did them. They refused to stand in evil’s way. They collaborated with it. They found common purpose with it.
What makes treason so particularly evil is its scope. That’s where the banal turns Bond Villain and evil gets its close up.
[NOTE: the illustration is from The Boston Globe. It’s genius.]
It’s weird, isn’t it, how some of us never leave the schoolyard? In a sense, the schoolyard never leaves those people; the schoolyard was where they peaked emotionally. “Bullies” (which includes pretty much everyone with an “R” still next to their name) look back fondly at their days terrorizing a schoolyard. They achieved a kind of mastery of their subject matter. the Zen of cruelty. They learned who they can cow, who will carry their water for them and who they needn’t bother with – because people with integrity don’t give in to bullies (without plotting to end their bullying). Republicans gravitate toward other, bigger bullies. That is, their faces light up in a bigger bully’s presence. Look at how Trump’s face lights up when he sees Vladimir Putin —
Putin bullies Trump because Putin owns Trump – a fact the entire Republican Party leadership knew before they even nominated Trump. On June 25, 2016, upon entering a meeting of GOP leaders, current GOPP Leader Kevin McCarthy said: “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to god!” Obviously, this fact isn’t something Trump wants known – otherwise, he’d blast it: “Putin pays me – that’s how much he loves me!” Trump has done everything in his power to prevent the rest of us from learning just how true that is. The Republicans have co-conspired to obstruct justice because they could very easily have called the FBI on that day – and warned them that their potential nominee to be POTUS was a grave national security threat. They didn’t; instead, the Republican Leadership rallied around then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s direction that they not talk about the subject any further – and that they keep this secret of theirs a secret.
Doesn’t the word “bully” flash across your mind when you hear that Marjory Taylor Greene’s name is trending somewhere? Doesn’t the smirk permanently stuck to Laurene Boebert’s mouth parts scream “I’m a bully!”
Matt Gaetz going after underage girls was a total “I’m a bully” move. And, Jim Jordan famously turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse going on while he was pretty much “in the room”. Pick a Republican and there will be a story or two or three or a hundred about something untoward surrounding them. Let’s not forget: the January 6 insurrection didn’t happen spontaneously. It was planned (as meticulously as a bunch of racist incompetents can plan a thing). It was deliberate and ambitious and it knew that what it wanted to do was absolutely illegal.
The good news is that bullies – being cowards who never stand for anything – are doomed to be bullies forever. They’re never hard to spot, easy to predict and reliable as hell. Their schtick is their schtick is their schtick. They shrink when threatened and puff up in the face of other people’s vulnerabilities. If they can’t kick someone when that someone is down, the bully isn’t kicking them/
Because the bullies victim could get up and kick the bully’s ass.
In a way, The Republican Party is about to become like a car-chasing dog that finally catches up to a car only to realize it never prepared itself for this moment – and this moment sucks – because the car just ran over it. On two different fronts, Republicans – white, Christian conservatives – are about achieve the very goals they dreamed about. But, like an old friend of mine (the Crypt Keeper) used to say, “Be careful what you wish for, kiddees, you might just get it!” Yes, religious conservatives will finally see the end of Roe v Wade. Core Republicans, libertarians, white supremacists and originalists will finally get to make voting as hard as possible for everyone who isn’t them. For about two seconds, conservatives will celebrate like it’s 1999! And then – in both cases – backlashes will begin in earnest. And those backlashes won’t stop until they’re spent. And where that will land us as a culture and a country? It’s the exact opposite of what these pirates want.
The abortion battle in America has never actually been about babies. It’s always been about racism. But the fact that the abortion battle gave religionistas and women-hating conservatives a “moral war” to wage against women and their bodies? That stone cold fact is going to be the big takeaway the instant the Supreme Court delivers the final coup de grace to Roe – the whole point of Mitch McConnell’s hijacking of the American judiciary and especially the SCOTUS. Take this to the bank and prepare to get rich beyond even Jeff Bezos’s wildest dreams: not only won’t America’s women take this lying down, they’re going to get hyper motivated by it. They’re going to vote out every politician who’s piggishly and priggishly violated their rights. They’ll focus, too, on the money that’s financed these politicians and their war on women.
Here’s an example of how the marketplace of ideas works here in reality. Remember Bill O’Reilly? Yeah, sure – Bill brags about his “online presence“. Ya think he wouldn’t kill everyone he knows to have his old job, his old show, his old life back? The reason Bill shills from the internet instead of Fox News is because America’s women decided they’d had enough of Bill – and America’s advertisers, like a canary in a coal mine, saw it way ahead of everyone. And they saw it because their clients – the companies manufacturing the products whose ad dollars pay for much of Fox News’ budget – saw it coming. And they saw it coming because they know for a fact that the bulk of big ticket buying decisions in American households get made by women.
When advertisers rejected Bill O’Reilly, he became persona non grata at ad reliant Fox. The democracy of the marketplace voted Bill O’ off the air.
The truth is, Roe v Wade never was the best way to get to abortion rights. It makes abortion a privacy choice rather than a health care choice. The fix can only be legislative – and it will be. And it will be sooner than the evangelicals realize. Take this to the bank and prepare to get even richer than before. The investigation into the January 6 insurrection – now beginning to focus on elected Republicans who conspired in it – and the DoJ’s growing examination of back stage Republican planning and financing of the insurrection – will claim hundreds of Republican political lives. The GOP is about to be gutted by the very corruption that overtook it. Purple states are about to go full blue. Red states are about to go purple. People with “R’s” next to their names are going to be fighting legal battles (and paying ungodly legal bills) that make running for office impossible.
Then there’s the second front the Republicans are about to open up against themselves: voting rights.
Let’s take one small anti-democratic law as an example – like the one they now have in Georgia that makes it illegal to give food or water to anyone standing in a line to vote. Let’s do a little thought experiment… It’s November 2022. The election is happening with every bit of Republican anti-voter lawmaking still in place – and an electorate that hates what the Republicans have done. Lines in Black, brown and Democratic districts are longer than ever – by design. Finally, the rage boils over into a collective action: a thousand people hand food and water to a thousand Black, brown, female and/or Democratic Georgia voters. What happens next?
Do a thousand Georgian cops arrest these thousand food and water protesters? Let’s say they do! Let’s say Georgia arrests and sends to trial one thousand of its citizens for giving food and water to good Georgian citizens standing in interminably long lines in order to exercise their right to vote. Do the anti-democratic conservatives crafting this legislation actually think juries will convict after hearing these stories? Do they think they’ll be able to find juries to begin with who don’t sit down already committed to find against them purely on grounds of decency? I’ve served on juries. Both were incredibly decent in our approach to the law and the cases facing us.
But, like the abortion fight comes down to racism and sexism, so, too, does our voting rights fight. Originalists – being racist to the core – want America to return to the days when “All men are created equal” meant ONLY men and ONLY men like them – white, Christian land owners. Just as “right to life” was always really about racism, our fight to fully extend the American franchise – the vote – to every single citizen because it’s their right is a fight against racism (and those who only want white men to vote). The insurrection – still ongoing – is an attempt to deny a level playing field to the majority of Americans. Every last one of its aims is to return America to its conservative heyday – the 1850’s when everyone knew their place.
Alas, this won’t end well for them. American fascists count on America being like Germany. They’re counting on Americans behaving exactly like Germans and falling into line. But how Germans (steeped in German culture and history) acted in the 1930’s is not how diverse Americans will behave. Sure, there were plenty of “Good Germans” who didn’t agree with the Nazis – and they weren’t a small group. But, at the end of the day, they remained more “German” than good. They resisted quietly or, really, not at all. They went along to get along – understandable but immoral. When conservatives attempt to impose their will on a diverse American population? They won’t find enough “Good Americans” to fill enough Nuremburg style rallies to make this shitbird fly. Think Black people are going to go along with this? Think Mexican or Puerto Rican or Central American people will fall in line. A few anti-Communist Cubans will – they’re still fighting the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. But, the overwhelming majority of Latin-x voters will vote for their best interests – and they know the GOP doesn’t have them in mind.
If – per our thought experiment – the GOP did get their two big prizes here? The results will be messy and violent and ugly. But, in the end, the conservatives will lose if only because progress will ultimately happen regardless. As it does. Here in America, we’ve had our history of white men suppressing everyone else. We have zero interest in continuing or perpetuating it. Now that the Republicans have hoisted their “Hail Mary” toss toward the distant end zone, it’s incumbent on the rest of us – the not-so-silent majority – to not only knock down that pass, but to intercept it and run it all the way back for the game-ending, game-winning touchdown.
It is never nice to be hoist on one’s own petard. The Republican Party is going to wish it had never been born with a petard on which to be hoisted. Hell, by the time History is done with the GOP, they’re gonna wish they had never been born at all.
Back in 2020, our news media got all atwitter when the RNC – ever Donald Trump’s leather-clad, down-on-all-fours, red-rubber-ball-in-mouth bitch – announced it wouldn’t have a platform for the presidential election. Frankly, we should have appreciated the RNC’s unintentional honesty. The last time Team Trump imposed itself on the party’s platform, they tweaked it to take Putin’s side against the Ukraine. That, it turns out, wasn’t just odd, it was treasonous! Not hyperbolic treasonous, real, honest-to-God, red-meat-and-potatoes treasonous. Emphasis on the “red”. Is I scream and shout here regularly, we can point to an actual documented moment in time when the GOP clearly crossed a line. On one side was terrible, immoral behavior that skirted illegality. But, on the other was flat out law-breaking. Treason, in fact.
With that piece of information in mind – “Putin pays Trump” – reconsider the GOP allowing Trump to change its platform and Trump’s whole “different approach to Putin”. It’s the “different approach” an intelligence asset has to the master spy running him. Reconsider “Russia, if you’re listening!” Reconsider Trump’s relationship with Wkileaks and every bit of obstructive behavior Team Trump has displayed – so much obstructive behavior that the Mueller Report complained it couldn’t get its main investigation done because of it! Consider the sledgehammer Trump took to NATO and every little acquiescence to Putin’s interests over ours. “Putin pays Trump” equals “Trump is a traitor”. Anyone not immediately on the phone to the FBI is officially a co-conspirator.
See something, SAY something. See something, say nothing? Why’s that?
In October 2016, Mitch McConnell stuck the dagger in when he refused to let President Obama tell America what our intelligence community believed (and which history has born out as absolutely true) that Russia was actively working to subvert the out come of our election in Trump’s favor. Mitch threatened to accuse Obama of politicizing the intelligence for political gain – the very thing Mitch was doing. Instead, Obama softened what should have been an eye-opening piece of information that We The People deserved to know.
Mitch was simply continuing the treasonous roll Kevin McCarthy started. Jump forward to 2020. The biggest threat to Trump losing power is losing the Department of Justice. Even when Republicans lost the House and began to face oversight, they used every legal device available to them to run out the clock. Republicans don’t see elections as referendums, they see them as opportunities to steal another election. The only thing saving Trump from indictment during his term was Robert Mueller’s slavish devotion to a DoJ rule (not a law) that frowned on (but didn’t prohibit) indicting a sitting president. Imagine giving treason the benefit of the doubt because “niceties”… White people cut themselves some amazing slack.
Also remember – professional, by-the-book rule of law investigations take time. Nothing of value could be started while Trump occupied the White House. And even after Biden won, the Republicans in the Senate deliberately slow walked all DoJ nominations, Merrick Garland’s in particular, their jaundiced eye, as ever, focused on the clock. I wish this was all done and dusted already – with Trump in federal custody, virtually the entire GOP gutted because they’re under indictment themselves and their violent followers dissuaded from further violence because of their own crushingly expensive legal bills. I do believe that day is coming. Once the DoJ pulls the thread on indicting sitting politicians, the pulling may never stop. The Republican Party will absolutely unravel.
Once again, as they gear up for what they expect will be the last “free and fair” election in America – this’ll be the one where the Republicans finish the kill – the GOP has ditched the idea of having a platform. Since they have no platform to talk about, they’ve also tossed the idea of participating in debates. This is the Republicans – still being bracingly honest – announcing in public that they no longer feel the need to be retail politicians. From here on out, they’re crusaders imposing their minority white will onto an unruly, non-white majority.
Ironically, the Republicans also are being honest when they embrace The Big Lie. They’re confirming what we long suspected: the GOP no longer “believes” in democracy because democracy no longer believes in Republicans. As Trump himself keeps pointing out, when more Americans vote, Republicans lose; if every American voted, the GOP might never win another election again ever. This is precisely why the Republican Party embraced Trump even though they knew he was a traitor. Machiavelli himself couldn’t have mustered that much naked cynicism.
The point of the insurrection – both the physically violent one and the bureaucratic ones behind the scenes – was to deny We The People yet again our electoral choice on the one hand while, on the other keeping Trump in power and out of federal prison convincingly accused of treason. “The Big Lie” is, itself, treason. It’s based on treason and designed to perpetuate treason and treason’s desired outcomes. Everyone agreeing with it is automatically a traitor and should be understood as such – starting with Donald John Trump.
Take Russia out of the Donald Trump Equation and Trump never wins anything. In fact, take Russian mob money away from Trump and his Atlantic City casinos fail even faster. Take Miss Universe in Moscow away from Trump and he has zero avenues available to try and launch a Trump Tower Moscow project. Take Russia away from Trump and he never gets to rescue himself; he ends up squandering daddy’s entire real estate fortune. Take Russia away from Donald Trump and not only was he never POTUS, he might be living on skid row himself – in one of the more squalid trash heaps. The Republican Party KNEW for a fact that Trump was compromised by Russia before they nominated him to be their candidate for POTUS. They KNEW that a Trump presidency would be a massive national security risk (and failure!) . Nothing about Trump surprised the Republican Party’s leadership from the moment he shoved his way into their tent.
They KNEW Trump was a traitor – and they stepped in line behind him regardless.
What Fusion found there – in material anyone could find (including the rest of the news media) – took them aback. Simpson testified that the picture they had – even before beginning their real work – implicated Trump as a money launderer. And maybe worse. In order to bore down more deeply into the questions they now had about Trump and his odd relationship with Russia, Fusion sub-contracted that part of their research to another company – Orbis – which was owned and operated by the former head of the MI6’s vaunted Russia desk, the highly respected Christopher Steele. Steele WAS known and respected when Fusion engaged him; the FBI had relied on Steele and his integrity when they took down Sepp Blatter, the corrupt former head of FIFA.
By that point in the chronology, Marco Rubio’s presidential ambitions had been kicked to the curb. The Washington Free Beacon had stopped paying for the research but the ball was picked up by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and by the DNC. Quick note: Hillary Clinton has been 100% right about EVERYTHING regarding Donald Trump). Now, we all have to understand one simple thing: Steele is in the intelligence business. By its nature, this is a smoke and mirrors world. Very often, facts have to be discerned; they won’t necessarily present themselves. One must approach information with both caution and perspective. Our news media, being shallow and sensationalist, got it into their heads that the worst allegations about Trump had to do with hookers and a bed that Obama slept in. Perversely, the most titillating parts of the Dossier are its least problematic for Trump. There’s nothing inherently illegal in watching hookers piss on a bed.
Let’s bore in here – and, for the record, this conversation among Republicans WAS RECORDED and that recording was played in 2017 for Washington Post reporter Adam Entous. Kevin McCarthy has just accused the man they’re all going to nominate of being corrupt. Not just corrupt – corrupt because a hostile foreign government is PAYING HIM. And the job they’re going to nominate this corrupted man for is the PRESIDENCY.
But, no one in the room seems surprised by Kevin’s damning accusation. No one says “Whaaaaat? Kevin, are you SURE about this? Do you have RECEIPTS for such a crazy idea?” Instead, as I said, there’s nervous laughter. That’s why McCarthy stammers “Swear to Go!” He wants the room to believe him. He’s not making it up. And no one present thinks he is. Least of all then Speaker Of The House of Representatives (and third in line to the presidency) Paul Ryan. Does Paul Ryan – the country’s national security apparatus two heartbeats away from his control – demand to know why Kevin thinks their soon-to-be nominee is a clear national security risk? No, he doesn’t!
Instead, Ryan goes in the OTHER direction – away from transparency! Away from patriotism. Away from doing the right thing. This terrible secret, Ryan tells them all, will remain their terrible secret. Nothing about this conversation, Ryan insists, will leave this room. “That’s how we know we’re family” is how he puts a bow on it.
I keep going back to this moment because it’s real. It is a fully documented, primary sourced instance of deliberate treason. There is absolutely no refuting it.
And everything that led to where we are today flowed directly from it: an act of treason.
That wasn’t the case of course. And do ya really think Mitch wasn’t as aware as anyone else with an R next to their name that “Putin pays Trump”?
Think about that. Mitch McConnell refused to let America know that Russia was actively engaged in making a man Mitch knew Russia was paying president. That’s a hell of a secret to keep from We The People, don’tcha think?
But if you appreciate that Mitch was just keeping the same secret Paul Ryan insisted they all keep – like a mafia family – then, suddenly, every last bit of Republican behavior makes absolute sense. Instead of endlessly scratching their heads as they wonder what hold Trump has on the GOP, our news media could 1) read what it’s already reported and 2) do a deeper dive into it especially in hindsight. The answer isn’t hard to find. :Hell – like almost everything that Trump did, it’s right there, out in the open! All any reporter really has to do is look at it and report honestly what they see.
There’s another element here that’s worked entirely to Trump’s benefit. Rich white people are loathe to prosecute other rich white people. It’s weird… like they all know where each others’ bodies are buried… It is remarkable what white men can get away with in America that no one else can even contemplate. Apparently, that includes treason.
At the end of the day, there will be a clear, simple explanation for everything that’s happened over the past five years. The January 6 insurrection didn’t just spontaneously “happen” regardless of what the Republican Party needs America to believe. The insurrection was planned and paid for by people who needed Trump to stay in power – up to and including Trump himself. Our news media will insist that Trump is merely being childish – he’s a grown man refusing to accept a humiliating electoral defeat. But that misses the point entirely. It misses what Trump actually is and what he’s actually guilty of.
The reason Trump needed to stay in power was less because Trump loves power than because without the power of the presidency, Trump is going to be prosecuted out the wazoo – and especially as a traitor. He was “golden” while protected by that silly Department of Justice directive that sitting presidents can’t be subpoenaed. But, now that any lawyer with a case can have a shot at him? He’s feeling the pain (though not the financial pain since Trump now has the RNC paying his legal bills).
But, consider that fact all by itself! Why would the Republican Party pay MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in legal fees for charges that have zero to do with Trump’s time in office? You can hear the question forming in our news media’s head already: “What ‘hold’ does Donald Trump sill maintain over the Republican Party?”
Hey, remember when using the word “treason” got you nothing but eye rolls? Remember when calling Trump a fascist cost you respect because you went “there” (regardless of how right you were)? Remember when we used to think that Republicans were ordinary, patriotic Americans just like Democrats?
My original headline for this post was “What would happen to the world were Donald Trump to suddenly die?” I wanted to (and will) explore the “What if…?” possibilities of Trump – a famously unhealthy person with a famously unhealthy diet suddenly succumbing to a lifetime of bad habits and croaking unexpectedly due to natural causes. In other words, what if Trump disappeared personally from the public stage in a way that made it harder for his followers to martyrize him? Would that rob Trump of some of his disruptive potency? Disruption really is the secret to Trump’s dark success. He disrupted the GOP, disrupted our entire political process, disrupted our government, disrupted climate change, the SCOTUS, NATO, the USPS, health care in general, abortion rights specifically, and free and fair elections themselves forever more. No other candidate in the entire history of American politics has been as negatively impactful as Trump.
No one has been more deserving of investigation, prosecution and punishment than Trump. Yet, no one’s investigation,. prosecution and punishment is more likely to cause so much violence. We assume a big part of why Merrick Garland still hasn’t prosecuted Trump is because of what his followers would do. Yeah, sure, aside from Richard Nixon, America has never criminally prosecuted a president in any way (and his resigning because of the threat he’d be impeached and convicted was a political result, not a criminal justice result). The DoJ going after Trump would set some pretty significant precedents.
But, what if Trump suddenly vanished from the picture in a way that even his looniest followers couldn’t say was suspicious? What if Trump went face down in his lunch time taco bowl and checked off the mortal coil?
On the one hand, justice would then never get properly served. Even if we rounded up and prosecuted every single Trumpanista from top to bottom, the fact that Trump would escape prosecution would make justice feel a lot less satisfying. But, I suspect, we could learn to live with that lack of total justice. On the plus side, prosecuting every single political player who benefited from Trumpism would pretty much eliminate the entire Republican Party as a going concern. How key is Trump’s continuing presence to the Republican Party’s ongoing ability to avoid prosecution for overt criminal acts? How key is Trump’s continuing presence to the GOP’s plan to destroy American democracy forever?
Could the Republicans really finish what Donald Trump started without Trump’s physical presence? Are Republicans really as politically dangerous without Trump as an organizing principle around which to corruptly organize? If we take Trump away as their rallying cry, what’s the rallying cry to replace him? Fascism and authoritarianism itself?
It was always hilarious that our punditry (witless as ever) actually entertained the idea that Ivanka or Don, Jr could have political careers in the future. They’re more likely to have careers in the priesthood or at NASA than as president. Ron DeSantis running for president doesn’t have the same threat as Trump because Ron DeSantis, terrible human that he is, is not Trump and will never gin up the Republican base the way Trump did. No other Republican can manipulate the rest of the Republican Party the way Trump can because no other Republican has compromised the entire Republican Party the way Trump has.
Take Donald Trump’s fight to the death to obstruct justice out of the conversation and what would happen going forward?
Sure, some of the Republicans would try to keep the bullshit flying but without Trump as the bullshit’s chief inspiration – without Trump himself peddling The Big Lie – The Big Lie will not fly.
Without Trump’s bloated orange presence, a lot of the legal roadblocks would stop immediately. No other defendant will have the criminal capacity (or genetics) to persist at all costs the way Trump will. None of them sits at the nexus of all the corruption the way Trump does,
If Donald Trump were to suddenly vanish, the world would instantly become a better place simply because Donald Trump was no longer in it. Our Trump-loving news media won’t be able to fill the void with any other Republican. That void will become increasingly apparent as the GOP further fragments into small personality cults and violent militia groups. As prosecutions continue, the rudderless Republicans will quickly realize that all the good sentence reduction deals are long gone; they’ll have to fight to the death for scraps. And fight to the death these criminals absolutely will.
That’s the moment we should all be waiting for – the one where the villains of the piece realize the piece is going to end with them all in federal prison. This will happen regardless of whether Trump is here or not. Trump’s presence makes it harder – way harder. But no less essential.
Could we “live with” not getting every last drop of justice we want from this? If it means our democracy survives – and that everyone who aided and abetted Trump gets what they deserve? Hell, yes. It will still beat the living crap out of the alternative.
For context – because context is everything – Mitch never wanted any kind of investigation into January 6 whatsoever. There’s a reason for that. It’s the same reason you don’t pull a thread on an old or badly made sweater. But, Mitch understood that with the Democrats in control of Congress and the Department of Justice, his best political tack was to slow Team Biden down on every possible front. Notice how the Senate has slow-walked most every Biden nominee for anything through? Actually, Team Biden has adeptly moved to fill judicial seats with good legal minds (instead of the American Enterprise Institute’s right wing anti-abortion clones). It was the Department of Justice, ambassadorships and a few other social justice posts where Republicans really focused their obstructionism. Especially the DoJ.
Remember how long it took to get Merrick Garland in the door to begin with? And Merrick Garland was, from a Republican POV, the “safest” bet out there. Imagine if President Biden had chosen Sally Yates instead (with her inside view of early Trumpian corruption at the DoJ). Mitch controls the flow of confirmation hearings. He’s always got that filibuster in his pocket, doesn’t he? Actual justice flowing from the Department of Justice is the LAST thing on earth any Republican wants.
As in laughed uncomfortably because something that was supposed to remain unspoken just got spoken.
How do we know that was the case? First, because no one resisted the idea. No one said “Whaaaaaat? Kevin – dude – are you sure about that?” No one demanded that Kevin put down a receipt to back up such a bold accusation. Let’s not under-sell the accusation – or the room it was made in – or the room’s reaction to the accusation. A lot happened there that we still haven’t gone back to and examined. But we must because it explains the very thing I’m talking about here.
If Putin “pays Trump”, he OWNS Trump. He’s compromised Trump. And that means he’s compromised America’s national security should Trump win the presidency. Everyone in that room understood those implications about their presidential nominee and yet, instead of balking in any way, instead of doing something patriotic like call the FBI, they went along with then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s calming insistence that they go back to not speaking about the subject. That they keep this secret of theirs a secret. “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.” Did you catch that? Not just the “family” part, the “no leaks” part.
The GOP knew even as they engaged with Trump that they were engaging in something so illegal that it HAD to be kept secret. And – most importantly – part of that secret involved America’s national security being compromised because of Donald Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin. Put that statement in context with this photograph –
“Putin pays Trump”. Putin OWNS Trump. And if Putin owns Trump, he owns everyone around Trump who KNOWS that “Putin pays Trump” or even suspects it. It all starts with treason and the simple, inescapable fact that no one in the Republican Party did anything whatsoever to stand in treason’s way.
“Politicized the intelligence” about the guy RUSSIA WAS PAYING – and that Mitch KNEW they were paying.
See Mitch’s problem getting bigger? But then, Mitch made it worse. Mitch did not want to condemn Russia’s involvement because Mitch knew there’d been so much of it. Are we to believe that Mitch McConnell knew nothing (either before, during or afterward) about Paul Manafort handing Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data for Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan? Take PA, WI & MI out of Trump’s Electoral College totals and he loses. A lot of that polling data was weaponized by Russian military intelligence (Deripaska) and laser focused at Black Democratic voters via their Facebook pages where targeted ads reminded them daily that Hillary Clinton was a racist on the downlow. At some point in that timeline (before, during, afterwards), Mitch had to know about it yet Mitch, to this day, hasn’t called the FBI. Instead, Mitch refused to let America in on the secret and then – even when Obama punished Deripaska on his way out the door – Mitch rescinded the punishment.
Did Mitch have anything to do with the insurrection? I’m sure not! Mitch prefers to work quietly, like poison. He’s not the beat you over the head kinda guy (because, well – look at him!). But that’s not to say Mitch won’t take full advantage of the fellow traveler beside him who IS beating someone over the head. Quick thought experiment: IF the insurrection had succeeded – and IF somehow the election’s outcome HAD been thrown to the House, would Mitch McConnell have raced to the majority’s defense or would he have stood by and watched as democracy got beaten over the head and killed deader than dead?
Mitch knew even as they were rushing him out of harm’s way that the insurrection was both a problem and a possible solution. The problem was that it would make it a thousand times easier to expose the deepest part of the corruption, the treason part. The possible solution was that the insurrection was a separate crime unto itself, carried out by separate criminals (Trump-crazed citizen-zombies). Sure, sure – a few Congressional Republicans had a direct hand in planning the insurrection but they were Representatives. Crazies who threaten Mitch’s calm, cool corruption. Jim Jordan? What’s that sexual assault enabling ass to Mitch? Boebert? She’s amusing but entirely expendable.
Mitch’s bottom line: no one in his Senate caucus is threatened by an investigation into January 6… he hopes.
He hopes like hell that the insurrection will be a fire wall against treason.
I wish I felt a hundred percent that Mitch’s fire wall will fail. The white power structure is still very much in place. Its whole way of thinking still dominates and one of its autonomics is self preservation. I would not be shocked if indeed the Department of Justice prosecuted the insurrection both inside and outside Congress but stopped at any inference that Russia, somehow, was involved too.
Take this to the bank: Russia had a hand in the insurrection. How could they not have? Consider it from their point of view. For five years you have worked to put an asset into the White House and then keep that asset there – betraying America out in the open to your absolute and total benefit. It’s to your advantage to squeeze every last bit of value out of your asset until the bitter end if there ever is one. You have compromised nearly everyone with an “R” next to their name. And then the idea for an armed insurrection pops up. If you’re Russia, do you back away and say “Guys, no – don’t go there!” or do you lean in even further and put your money where you think it will do the most “good”?
Russia had a hand in the insurrection. If they didn’t, they’re idiots. They ain’t idiots.
But they are Mitch McConnell’s nightmare – should HIS relationship with Mother Russia become common knowledge.
This really has been about treason all along. The GOP was so determined to impose permanent minority rule upon America – no matter how they did it – that they were/are even willing to commit treason in order to do it. These are all or nothing stakes. Once you commit treason? There is no going back. How on earth can anyone trust these pirates ever again (not that we had any business trusting them in the first place)? We understood what it meant when Lil Jeff Sessions ran the DoJ — that it was going to do only what that racist elf wanted. When Bill Barr’s name first came up as Lil Jeff’s eventual replacement, the news media played their “he’s an institutionalist!” card, insisting that this meant the adults in the room were in control.
Alas, there are no adults in the Republican room. There are only miscreants and angry white men. Only racists, misogynists and bigots. Authoritarians, fascists and feckless fools — useful idiots all. As we all know, had Kyle Rittenhouse been Black instead of privileged white, he would never have walked away from the scene, having shot three people. Between the racist cops and the actual racists, a Black Kyle would have been raked with so much gunfire that they’d have had to use a bucket and mop to clean up what was left of him. The Rittenhouse verdict empowered the right wing yahoos to shoot first and then concoct their “I was defending myself” defense later. It undermines the legitimacy of a legitimate self defense defense. But then, no one’s ever accused anti-democratic racists of thinking big.
It is flat out against the law to win an American election by colluding with Russia (or any foreign government). Do that – collude to win – and you did not win. Donald Trump colluded with Russia in multiple ways in order to win. Problem is, we refused to acknowledge that collusion even as he was doing it! “Hey, Russia! — if you’re listening!” is pretty direct. And when Russia literally responded in mere hours? There are myriad reasons why Republicans don’t want to dig too deeply. And when deep digging IS going on around them? Republicans do everything in their power either to neutralize that digging or to undermine its integrity or the public’s faith in its integrity.
Bill Barr flattened the Mueller Report — telling America it concluded one thing (there’s no “there” there) when, in fact, there was plenty of there there. Bill Barr oversaw the murder of Jeffrey Epstein (probably not for anyone else than his dear old dad) and the purposeful politicization of the DoJ. The Republicans deliberately slow walked Garland’s nomination — a way to buy time. For Republicans, the game now must rely on running out the clock to the 2022 mid terms. IF the GOP can (via gerrymandering and voter suppression) limit Democratic voting, they could indeed take back the House and Senate — killing all investigations dead while they finish gutting every bit of our democracy.
Is Merrick Garland dawdling? Is he hemming and hawing while the nation lurches toward authoritarianism? Is he being cavalier toward democracy? Is he giving the white guys way too much latitude simply because they’re white guys?
Or, is Merrick Garland getting every last bit of evidence he can before applying the rule of law to its biggest scofflaw ever: Donald J Trump? I still want to believe that Garland HAS set his sites on Trump (and the entire GOP) but that he knows he will get one shot here — and it needs to be the coup de grace and nothing but. If Garland’s DoJ does the right thing (applying the rule of law evenly as he’s sworn he would), he will set off a fire storm of angry, white backlash. It will definitely get ugly. But, the longer Garland and the DoJ wait to begin punishing insurrectionists, the harder it will be to punish them.
To not punish would be to invite the guilty to attempt another violent coup. That won’t be a matter of speculation, merely time and timing. We need that punishment to happen. That punishment is our “Godot”.
Samuel Becket was an amazing writer and his classic play “Waiting For Godot is deservedly a classic. Spoiler Alert! Godot never shows up. The two guys who spend the play “Waiting For Godot” will end the play still waiting. That’s the point. If the performance is good, by the very end of the play, the audience finds itself in the very same shoes as Gogo and Didi, the two main characters. Whatever relief may come from Godot’s finally arriving on site is negated by the fact that Godot never comes. Wait for him now and you’ll wait for him forever. It’s pure existentialism.
We’re still smarting from the fact that the Mueller Report flopped. It didn’t really; it only really flopped in the news media’s eyes because they can’t get out of their own damned way. When Bill Barr interpreted Mueller’s findings, the press were obligated to read the damned thing for themselves not buy Barr’s bullshit rehashing. But the news media accepted Barr’s take (why would he lie — even though he lied in the exact same way about Iran-Contra?) That’s because our news media ALWAYS accepts Republican explanations as legit even when clearly they’re not.
Yeah, it sucks watching Republicans continue to undermine our democratic institutions with impunity. It seems entirely counter-intuitive to do nothing. In “Waiting For Godot”, Didi and Gogo will be cursed to return again tomorrow to the same forlorn landscape (its one feature that leafless tree). It’s as if today never happened. And neither will tomorrow. We need our Godot – our Garland – to show up and show up ready for work. We need our Godot on stage right now.
Ask me where I stand politically and I’ll tell you: I’m a Progressive. “Progress” perfectly describes what I want for my family, my community, my city, my state, my country and my whole world. I want them all to progress into the future the best way possible so that as many people as possible benefit, thrive and succeed. Yeah, I truly do believe that a rising tide will indeed float every single boat. That’s what I want. That’s what your average Progressive wants. Now, ask a conservative what they want and the world they’ll describe doesn’t look like the future. It looks exactly like the past. Or, more precisely, they’ll describe a world caught in amber where as much of the past as possible is frozen in place in the present. That is exactly what conservatives want to conserve: the past or whatever is left of it. If it was possible to literally halt progress and, instead, regress us collectively into the past, many (if not most) conservatives would absolutely do it.
What does a white supremacist want to conserve? What does a yahoo waving a Confederate flag want to conserve? What does Mitch McConnell want to conserve? What does Charles Koch or the Mercers want to conserve? What does Vladimir Putin want to conserve?
“Originalism” perfectly captures the entire conservative “ethic” in one, neat, bite-sized corruption McNugget. The concept is simple. America can only ever be what the white, Christian, land-and-slave-owning men who drew up its founding documents thought it could be at that time. Originalists (like Antonin Scalia) insist that we must accept that flawed version of “All men are created equal” where “All men” only referred to white men like them and only men. Fortunately the more progressive-minded founders reframed America’s founding principle in the Great Seal: “E Pluribus Unum”. Out of many, one. See how one way of thinking tugs us backward while the other propels us forward?
Why did our founders cut a deal with slavery? Because money. Take slavery’s stolen labor off the table and the Confederacy never rises. Maybe America never happens period. After all, slavery, to a degree, helped cash flow our Revolution. We’re still dealing with this Devil’s bargain. We compromised with evil except evil never actually compromises with us; all that happens is we become a little more evil. Or a lot more evil. The impulse to enslave is the same impulse to get anyone to work for nothing (or next-to-nothing). Good bosses recognize that good workers are worth more than bad workers because of what motivates them. Slaves don’t want to be there no matter how hard you whip them. But then, the whole point of a slave and slavery is pure, brute economics.
Want to know why conservatives hate the BBB? Because its core concept wants to empower virtually everyone. The whole point is to go as far as possible to actually level the American playing field so that, for once, everyone has the exact same shot at attaining the American Dream. That won’t just be good for them as individuals, it will be good for everyone. If it means rich people won’t be quite as rich, I can live with that. So can they.
The reason conservatives bristle at the thought of Critical Race Theory is because of that first word: “critical”. Conservatives and conservatism cannot stand up to criticism or critical thinking. They want to make slavery a museum display and nothing more as if the moment the Civil War stopped, all of slavery’s harm magically stopped. How ironic that such devoted Christians (conservatives cling to their Christianity almost as tightly as they cling to their guns) find contrition so objectionable. But then, conservatives don’t believe in a Jesus who preaches “Do unto others”, they believe in a church that commands “Do as I say — or else!”
Slavers, don’t forget, pointed to the Bible as a justification for slavery. But then, the Bible is just originalism’s founding document.
As the conservative feel good vibes of Reaganism waned, the conservative money saw catastrophe on the horizon. America was diversifying at such a rapid pace that “thinkers” like Newt Gingrich grasped how perilous white conservatism’s grip on long term power already was. When Gingrich declared his culture war on the Democrats, he was declaring that war on actual Americans — all those diverse, not-white-like-Newty Americans who would soon enough usurp political power forever. That scared Newt and every conservative like him. The thought of losing power (of even having to share it!) was unacceptable. It made them feel bad and those “bad feelings” are behind literally every move conservatives had made since.
Gerrymandering isn’t meant to represent the majority’s will, it’s meant to circumvent it — to give the minority undue power and influence over the majority. And, if it’s done right? Gerrymandering will make that minority rule permanent. Just in case, conservatives also rely heavily on voter and voting suppression. Donald Trump himself said it out loud: when more people vote, Republicans lose. The presence of Donald Trump caused the GOP to step up its game however. Or, more accurately, Trump’s presence kompromised the entire GOP into submission. Though the Republicans may have resisted Trump at first (the Marco Rubio-backing Washington Free Beacon paid for the original oppo research on Trump that led to the Steele Dossier), Trump’s corruption became their corruption. A month before nominating Trump to be their candidate in 2016, the Republican leadership acknowledged amongst themselves that Trump was owned outright by Vladimir Putin.
Once you cross the line into treason? There’s no going back. What happened in that room was absolute treason and everything awful that’s happened to and in America since has flowed from that moment of treachery.
Maybe I need to tweak what it is that American conservatives want to conserve. The past they want to conserve is one where they aren’t serving a life term in a federal prison for committing treason. In that context, it ain’t hard to get what any conservative might want to “conserve”.
We are living in the nightmare version of “the cover up being worse than the crime”. In fact, we’re so deep into the cover up that most Americans have probably forgotten that there even is an “original crime” — the thing that actually motivated every other crime Donald Trump and his Republican collaborators perpetrated. “The Big Lie” didn’t just fall from the sky on us, a “stroke of genius” to try and hold onto power. Why the hell would Trump “need” to hold onto power? That’s what this is about — a need, not a desire. Virtually the entire GOP has gone along with this also out of need. Yeah, yeah, the Republican base counts for something. But they’re “icing” on a giant cake; icing is icing but cake is cake And the cake here is treason. That’s why there’s “A Big Lie” — because “treason”. That’s why the Republicans have done everything in their power to shut down every single investigation into how exactly Donald Trump became president in 2016. Take Russia completely out of the Donald Trump equation and he never becomes POTUS, Hillary Clinton is into her second term today having survived four years of Mitch McConnell being corrupt as usual but, at least, without his having been a traitor, too.
That is exactly what every Republican in that room did — they took what Kevin McCarthy said seriously. They knew it was a terrible secret for any American — let alone a presidential candidate — to have about them. That’s why they all went along with then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s insistence that they not discuss the matter outside that room. Because it was true. And because, one has to think, it was too late for anyone in the room to turn back now. “Putin pays Trump” — that was the secret they all agreed to “keep in the family”.
A year later (it took a year for that story to break), when journalists questioned McCarthy about it, he insisted he was “just kidding”. Soooooo, the whole room agreed to keep this “joke” a secret? If it wasn’t true, the room would have welcomed investigation because it would have turned up nothing. They knew that any investigation into Trump’s relationship with Putin and Russia would lead not only to charges of treason for Trump but charges of Treason for them, too. Every last one of them…
The GOP’s problem starts in that room with Kevin McCarthy speaking a Truth. Consider how hard the Republican run Congress tried to hide Trump’s relationship with Russia. But consider who Trump hired as campaign manager — Paul Manafort. Manafort owed $17 million to oligarch, Putin pal and “former” Russian military intelligence player Oleg Deripaska. Part of Manafort’s pitch was backstage, off the books access to Trump and access to information a hostile foreign government like Russia should NEVER have had access to: proprietary polling data on Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Manafort famously handed this data to Constantin Kilimnik, a go-between. He went to prison for it, remember? It’s against the law. In fact, every single contact the Trumps and their various hangers-on had with Russians was illegal. When Trump openly invited Russia to meddle in our election — “Russia, are ya listening?” — he was breaking the law. Just because we chose not to see it that way (or prosecute it), that’s not on the rule of law, that’s on us. That’s on white America continuing to cut itself extraordinary slack even when that slack is openly treasonous.
Consider Trump’s urgent need to undermine the Steele Dossier. Our news media — always light years behind this story’s curve — can only focus on the possibility of Trump and hookers — like that would matter to him. There’s so much more in the dossier (a collection of raw intel that has stood up almost completely) than a bit of sex play. There’s treason! Lots and lots and lots of treason!
Consider WHY there even is a “Steele Dossier” to begin with! Here’s the thumbnail version: in 2016, Marco Rubio backer The Washington Free Beacon hired a political research company called Fusion GPS (co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson) to do oppo research against Trump. Before getting into the nitty gritty though, Fusion did their “due diligence”; they got their hands on every piece of publicly available material about Donald Trump that they could — books, magazine and newspaper articles, radio and TV appearances — everything! What they found there in that publicly available material convinced them that Trump had used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. To answer those questions (by now, supporters of HRC were paying for the research), Fusion sub-contracted the work out to a British company called Orbis. Orbis was run by Christopher Steele, formerly head of MI6’s vaunted Russia desk and a source so reliable that the FBI used Steele to help them take down FIFA’s corrupt head Sepp Blatter. Steele had excellent sources inside Russia and those sources painted a picture of exactly what Kevin McCarthy had said was the case: Putin owned Trump.
Consider the Mueller Report and its shamefully narrow scope (the only thing under its purview was Trump’s relationship with Wikileaks, that’s it). Even so, Team Trump worked overtime to keep everything about their relationship with Wikileaks and secret. Strange, no? We’ve learned subsequently that corruption guided Rod Rosenstein to tell Team Mueller that the FBI was running a counter intelligence investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia (they weren’t) so “forget about it” while also telling the FBI that Team Mueller was working on the counter intel investigation so they should forget about it. Consider The Mueller Report’s actual conclusions: 1) we can’t say for sure if Team Trump committed a crime we could convict at trial because 2) they’ve been so utterly obstructive of justice about the whole thing.
Consider Bill Barr telling America the Mueller Report concluded something entirely different, something it, in fact, did not conclude. Consider what happened to Jeffrey Epstein while under Bill Barr’s care. Consider that even Bill Barr refused to go along with insurrection. Strange, isn’t it, that even a guy as corrupt as Bill Barr sees a line in the sand beyond which even he sees too much corruption.
Consider how much time, work and effort Russia put into not only making Trump POTUS but to using Trump as their weapon to bludgeon American democracy and America’s reputation around the world. Consider what makes one man look like another man’s bitch. Consider how Trump never crossed Putin ever. Consider how important it was for Putin either to keep Trump in the White House or get him back into it however he must. Consider it damned likely that Russia had a hand in the insurrection. Consider what that means if Russia (among other players) helped finance the Republican Party’s attempted coup d’etat.
Consider how America will have to react when we finally step back and allow ourselves to speak out loud the terrible truth: exactly as Kevin McCarthy said: Putin owns Trump.
What are we to do, once we actually begin to accept this terrible truth as Truth? For one thing, we absolutely can’t shrug our shoulders and say “it is how it is”. That would be us saying “Well, we know Russia beat our asses that one time…”. No — there can be no one time for any such thing to happen. Any country that fails or refuses to stand up for its sovereignty won’t be a country for much longer. We have now experienced a hostile foreign government putting a man they’ve compromised at the head of American power. That is treason.
Treason can’t be the basis for US law or law making. It can’t be the basis for our defense policy or our international relations. It can’t be the basis for our politics. Because it’s TREASON.