Prosecuting Trump For His Coronavirus Failures First Might Be The Quickest Way To Nail Him For Betraying Us To Russia

Fact: Election Day 2016 was a crime scene more than it was an election. On that day, Russia pulled off the greatest intelligence coup of all time: they made their fully owned asset — Donald J. Trump — President of the United States. Assisting in that act of unmitigated treason from start to finish was the entire Republican Party. The GOP knew even before they nominated Trump that Russia owned him. A month before the nomination convention, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of Republican muckety-mucks and said, out loud: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one gasped in surprise. Quite the contrary. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — one of the highest ranking people in his political party — demanded omerta, gang loyalty. “We’re family”, is how he put it. You know — like a CRIME family?

As the results rolled in election night 2016, how many Republicans watched with a hand to their mouths — shocked by what their Russian co-conspirators had pulled off for their mutual benefit? How many Republicans — understanding what had just happened and why — also appreciated that this seizure of the American Peoples’ will that Russia was gifting to the GOP came with significant strings that, like it or not, now bound them together — Russia and the Republican Party. I bet more than a few understood completely. Take Lindsey Graham. A former anti-Trumper, suddenly — after a round of golf with Trump — Lindsey became Trump’s loyal fluffer. We all remember how the DNC and its emails were hacked. Well, the RNC got hacked too. They used a company called Smartech to handle their emails. Russia hacked Smartech — and you can bet the ranch and everything else you’ve got that Russia has used what they hacked to maximum effect.

The Republican Party will stand with Donald Trump to the bitter end. They have no choice. Having committed treason together, they know what their jeopardy is. If they’re lucky, they’ll end their days in federal prison. If they’re unlucky, they’ll face the death penalty (of which I’m no fan but, where they’re concerned, I’m open to making an exception). That is precisely why the Republicans will do literally anything to avoid being punished for what they did and why they’re so intent on destroying our election process.

The Republicans know The Big Lie is A Big Lie. Put under oath, each and every one of them would swear on a stack of Bibles (a book none of them have ever read) that of course Joe Biden won the election. The point of this exercise isn’t really to question the election’s actual outcome, it’s to change that outcome entirely because, if they don’t, they’ll lose everything. The stakes for pretty much every Republican is now all or nothing. This is why the Republicans have not only NOT refuted the Big Lie, they’ve been nurturing it. An Ipsos Poll published a few days ago found that “55% of Republicans believe his 2020 election loss resulted from illegal voting or election rigging.” 81% of Republicans — according to the poll — still view Trump favorably while 35% of them think that the January 6 insurrectionists were just there to be “peaceful”, it’s the violent left who caused all the death and destruction.

Merrick Garland as AG scares every Republican because he’s what they’re not: honest and fair. They know — it’s why they slow walked his nomination and hearings — the moment AG Garland begins pulling threads on the massive Republican corruption sweater in front of him, it’s just a matter of how quickly the whole rest of the sweater simply falls apart. The dots absolutely will connect the Proud Boys’ planning to Roger Stone and then in to Trump’s White House. Russia also will tie in. How could they not? But, the Russia tie-ins will take time. While we don’t know for certain that Merrick Garland re-started the counter-intelligence probes into Trump’s relationship with Russia that fill in AG Rod Rosenstein ended, we can make an informed guess that he did. .

The Republican Party has worked overtime to deny any connections between themselves and Russia though they all seem to have relationships with Russia. Plenty of Republicans received Russian money into their campaign coffers through various means including Russian retirees who receive monthly pensions from the Russian government — pensions that were plumped up by Mother Russia during the campaign. Or, more famously, lots of Republicans received cash from the NRA which, itself, had already been seduced by “Russian gun rights advocate” Maria Buttina. Know what they call a Russian “gun rights advocate” in Russia — especially one with her hooks deeply set into the NRA’s soft, white flesh? A spy. A good one, too. Working for Russia.

The GOP has known who Trump was all along.

This, for them is a literal death match. They have nothing to lose. Because our news media failed to disabuse Republicans of their dishonesty — granting even blatant lies as “one side (theirs) of the story” — a chunk of the country thinks Trump is a victim here rather than THE criminal. At the end of the day, we WILL make that stick. Russia will be a huge part of how we understand the Trump years: Russia took over America. It is damned tempting, I admit, to nail Trump and every single Republican for betraying us during a time of cyber war.

But, we must act much faster than that will take. We desperately need to move now to mitigate Trump and the GOP’s betrayal. Fortunately, these same pirates left us multiple openings.

The Democratic Congresspeople who joined the civil suit against Trump — citing his actions and speech of January 6 as clear incitements to attack — will put Trump into a corner. He can’t negotiate his way out of this; he can’t settle. He’ll have to go through the “discovery” process — under oath. For Trump, just being “under oath” is filled with very real peril. He’s a walking-talking “perjury trap”. This could work well! But, there’s yet another story angle here with even less politics to it: Trump’s blatantly terrible handling of America’s Pandemic Response.

Team Trump didn’t just “get it wrong”. They didn’t just “plan badly” or underperform. In a sense, Team Trump over-performed, planned perfectly and got it absolutely right — from Russia’s point of view. If I’m wondering this, it’s a dead certainty others are wondering it too: how connected were Trump’s criminally inept pandemic responses and the idea that a nation sickened by a pandemic would be easier to roll over in a soft coup d’etat than a healthy population?

There will, no doubt, be layer upon layer of Trumpian criminality including in Trump’s response to the pandemic: hundreds of thousands of Americans are now dead because of Trump’s actions. As encouraging as the story’s trendline is, We The People need a little concrete beneath our feet. We need the punishment phase to become as real as the crime phase.

Cake v Icing

I love me a good metaphor. Listening to some people argue, one gets the clear impression that they couldn’t care less about cake. They’re all about the icing. The color of the icing especially. They’ll insist that nothing can happen if the icing on this cake isn’t red — a very particular kind or red, too. Only a cake with that kind of red icing will satisfy them, never mind that the cake itself is one hundred percent poison. People who problem solve or see the world from the icing’s perspective only never solve their problems. Worrying about the icing instead of the cake is exactly like putting the cart before the horse — except it’s worse — because the cake might not even exist yet.

Go try icing a nonexistent cake here in reality.

And, while you’re here in reality, take note: drop-dead beautiful icing can cover a cake literally made of shit (the eating of which would cause you to drop dead). A pig in lipstick is still a pig. Even if the lipstick’s his color.

By the same token, a transcendentally good cake could be slathered in unappetizing beige-green slime that tastes only of sugar while, beneath it, a symphony of complex, compelling flavors awaits. Covers don’t always accurately represent their books either.

Our news media are all icing eaters. You can tell by the way they report; they might as well have bits of icing between their teeth. It’s easy to report “Today, the icing is green!” Much harder to dig into “But the cake beneath it smells rotten — why is that?” When Donald Trump began his run for the presidency by announcing that “Mexicans are rapists” (interesting accusation coming from a serial rapist), our press should have pointed out that fact — and what it said about “the cake” — about WHO Donald Trump is and always has been as a human being. Only a bigot and a racist would think, never mind say such a thing.

Instead, our news media, after grabbing for the smelling salts while clutching their pearls, allowed Trump to move on from “Mexicans are rapists” to “pussy grabbing” — the new color of Trump Brand Icing. But, then, they quickly moved on from that to “her emails” color icing.

In doing that, our press normalized things that should never have been normalized. They stopped caring about the cake entirely — and that the cake was clearly marked “poison”. All they could conceive of was what they could see: icing. That’s why our press still asks racists if they themselves think they’re racist or not. How the hell would they know? They’re racists! The same applies to beauty and its place in the beholder’s eye. The beholder gets to decide if what they’re beholding is “beautiful” or not. The beautiful person’s too close to themselves to judge. They’re automatically biased!

Racism and bigotry epitomize the love of icing over any appreciation of cake. A racist disregards 99% of the human in front of them when all they see is the color of the Black man’s skin. In a way, it’s the least important detail about the Black guy. Who he is, what he’s capable of, what he can contribute to the greater good have zero to do with the quantity of melanin in his skin. If ever a thing was pure icing on a human being, it’s their flesh tone.

And icing… sometimes, it just misses the point entirely.

It’s Holocaust Remembrance Day – A Good Day To Remember “What A Piece Of Work Is Man?”

That damned Shakespeare — he always seemed to nail us humans with all the irony due us. Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. 76 years ago today, the Russian army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi’s death camps. 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, died within Auschwitz’s razor-wired fences. Some were openly murdered — shot, gassed, hanged. Others were worked to death. Others succumbed to sickness or disease or just the weariness of hopelessness. This happened because some humans regard other humans as “cockroaches”.

Nobody’s a cockroach, ya see. We’re all humans. Capable of great things. But, alas, also capable of great evil — all while seeming filled with the potential for good. Sometimes, irony burns hotter than the sun. What a piece of work IS man? In “Hair”, Galt McDermott (working with James Rado and Jerome Ragni) even put it to music —

“What a piece of work is man? How noble in reason?”

“How infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable!”

“In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god!”

“The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!”

“And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

“Why it appears no other thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors.”

Never forget. Never again.

Bad Things Often Happen When People Show Up Because They Believed “A Story”

Storytelling can be like a super power. Take Donald Trump telling a mob of racist, bigoted followers that the election was stolen from them. That’s a story. Pure fiction. And yet, a fiction propelled that mob into deadly action. Seditionist, treasonous action. If Trump — after setting the mob in motion — had suddenly chuckled into the mic “Heh heh, no, I’m just fooling ya, folks — I lost that election fair and square, now all of you get in your cars and go the hell home!” — they wouldn’t have listened to him. The truth would have disappointed them. The story, on the other hand…

The Insurrection At The Capitol happened because a shitload of people accepted bullshit as truth. Frankly, I don’t care if they were “fooled” by Trump. We ALL heard what Trump said before the insurrection began. We all heard what he said in the weeks beforehand. But only a few of us got into our cars or — like Jenna Ryan, the pathetic real estate agent from Texas who got on her private freakin’ jet and flew halfway across the country in order to DO something terrible because she believed a story!

Why is it usually white people begging for a Mulligan because they got duped by a con man? Probably the same reason it’s usually white people running the con. Although, in Jenna’s case, she isn’t even looking for a Mulligan. She expects to be forgiven immediately — to be pardoned by the president since, to her, she wasn’t just doing her “patriotic duty”, she also was answering to God! The highest authority of all — creator of the universe — wanted this pathetic woman to fly to Washington, DC and take part in a melee. In other words, she expects to be forgiven because she believed a story.

In my experience here in America? It’s ALWAYS white people doing that. Yes, yes — all human beings are open to being charmed into evil by a charismatic smile. But, white people just seem better at creating nonsense and then accepting it as gospel truth.

These people showed up because they believed a story.

These people showed up because they believed a story.

These people showed up because they believed a story.

These people showed up (in Salem, at the witch trial) because they believed a story.

The Holocaust happened because people had long believed (and accepted as truth) a story that Jews deserved to die because “they killed Jesus”. That never happened. Neither did the virgin birth or the three wise men from wherever or the star of Bethlehem. It didn’t. It is pure, unadulterated fiction. “The Jews murdered Jesus” is as reality-based as a piece of crime fiction yet it has transcended Jesus’s message of “love thy neighbor as thyself”. Stone cold fact — if born-lived-and-died-a-Jew Jesus were to return from the dead and hear about all the Jews who were murdered in his name — because of a story about him that wasn’t true — and stood in stark contrast to who he was and what he lived his whole life for? He’d be mighty pissed off about it.

Ah, but… if given a choice between believing the truth or believing a story, we know for a fact which the majority of people will choose. It’s literally incalculable the number of people — Jews or otherwise — whose lives were cut short because the person murdering them “believed a story”.

A Letter To Those Who Hate Democracy: Maybe We CAN’T Actually “Live Together”

We Americans tell ourselves — it’s part of our mythology — that we can do anything when/if we hitch our efforts together for a common purpose. Kumbaya. It’s time that those of us singing “Kumbaya” recognize that not everyone is joining in. And it’s not because they can’t sing. It’s because they don’t want to sing along with us. There’s another tune in their heads. A hateful one that sees the rest of us as, well, cockroaches because we’re not white. The Trumpian insurrectionists who stormed the capitol didn’t just turn on democracy because they lost this election. The truth is they’ve never cared for democracy because they always knew this day was coming. The day they finally had to reveal just how much they really and truly hate it.

Four years ago, Barack Obama handed the keys to Donald Trump probably knowing that Trump was betraying us. He took a leap of faith that We The People would backstop our democracy in the nick of time. That seems to be happening. In the nick. Now that we have control of the country back — well, now that we’ve started to re-establish control — we’re going to learn that the Democratic Party’s partner in governing America, the Republican Party, has been plotting against us.

The hit the GOP has put out on Democracy and America is as real and viable as the hit Donald Trump put out on Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi during the insurrection. We really are like a husband or wife waking up to discover their spouse wants to kill them (but hasn’t the guts to do it themselves).

The truth is, Republicans don’t want to govern “with” Democrats. They want to govern instead of Democrats. Completely. That would be bad enough if they represented a majority position. But, they don’t. In fact, increasingly, Republicans represent a shrinking minority. Yeah, yeah — 70 million Americans just voted for a traitor. Let’s stick a pin in that 70 million. But, even if it’s closer to 65 million — that’s still 65 million people thinking absolute rubbish is true.

In order to compromise with this rabble, one has to compromise with bullshit, allowing that some part of bullshit might could be true. Well, THAT is bullshit because no part of bullshit is ever true. We can compromise with bullshit all we like; bullshit will never, EVER compromise with us. It’s like Evil in that way.

Sometimes, in life, we have to admit mistakes — or admit how things really are so we don’t make mistakes. When did the Republicans turn so completely on the rest of us? Hard to say. One could argue they were never in to us. They tolerated us. Well, that’s no way to have a relationship. Especially when you’re the one calling the shots.

Republicans have just been caught cheating in the worst way possible. It must be bad, they’re already insisting everyone kiss & make up, forgive & forget. Dudes — whatever you’re humming so horribly out of tune? It ain’t “Kumbaya”. Sounds more like a death rattle actually. The death rattle of our relationship.

When the smoke clears, the Democratic Party will still be here. The Republican Party will not. An alternative will rise up to take their place — and a good thing, too. This Progressive recognizes that everyone (not just Trumpists) needs a check and balance. We don’t need a “conservative” party to balance progressivism though. The opposite of progress doesn’t have to be regress; it could/should be moderation. Considering how brilliant the ex-Republicans behind Project Lincoln are, I won’t worry about their finding a good, clearly moderate new branding identity.

Not all relationships work out. To be honest, Democrats have always felt a little “taken advantage of” by Republicans. Now that they’ve gone completely off their meds and revealed themselves as world class lunatics, on the one hand, we “get it” — we get why they’re lunatics. On the other hand, no thank you.

The Progressive fatal flaw is a lack of cynicism. It takes a lot to make a Progressive assume the worst in people. We tell ourselves that with enough therapy, even the most awful human being can probably be redeemed or be made redeemable. I still hold out that hope for most people still putting that “R” next to their names. For starters, being a seditionist is about to get crushingly expensive. That will thin the herd considerably. The legal bills about to drop on these fools will be devastating to their families. As the stone cold realization of the poverty they’re about to inflict on their own loved ones strikes home, more and more of these cowards will bail. Trying to better their own terrible situations, they’ll start ratting each other out. Bullies are all cowards at the end of the day.

This Progressive will give up hope only under duress.

I don’t think we can have a “serious” relationship ever again. I know we can’t live together. But I still aspire to having a relationship of some sort — if only to use as the basis for visiting these pirates in prison.

The Reason “Both Sides Do It” Is Bad Journalism

In the “Pantheon Of Wrongheaded Common Wisdom”, “Both Sides Do It” is king, queen and the rest of the demented Spanish Aristocracy. It takes a nubbin of “maybe” and makes it incontrovertible fact. Bad behavior does not belong to any political party. Yes, both sides are physically capable of doing things they shouldn’t and then lying about them to keep from being revealed. Historically, both sides have “done those things”. But (and here’s where “both sides do it” hits a wall and loses), if we put it all on a scale and measured the two piles of awfulness against each other? As with right here, right now, Republican-brand awfulness is exponentially worse for America than Democratic-brand awfulness in large part BECAUSE THERE’S SO MUCH MORE OF IT!

Proportion and perspective are two things “Both Sides Do It” journalism jettisons from the get-go. It says a thief is a thief is a thief — regardless of whether it’s Bernie Madoff stealing billions because he’s a greedy pig or Jean Valjean stealing bread to feed hungry people. “Both sides ‘do it’.” See what I mean? Though theoretically correct, it is absolutely wrong in its framing because it equates two things that shouldn’t be equated.

I’ve worked as a journalist. I’ve been held to journalistic standards. In the absence of hard evidence, one must be skeptical. That’s SKEPTICAL as opposed to CYNICAL. There is a difference.

If your starting point for every story is “both sides do it”, you’re not being skeptical about human beings, you’re being cynical; you’re assuming the very worst for no reason other than you’re assuming it. Authoritarians want the population they control to be deeply cynical — making authoritarianism the only means to control all that irredeemable, inevitable bad behavior. When the press equates an act of extreme corruption with Joe Citizen claiming a few deductions he’s not entitled to — that puts a smile on a cynic’s face.

“See?” he’ll say, smiling, “Both sides do it!”

Take this to the bank, American news media: both sides DON’T do it and never have. You need to expunge “Both Sides Do It” from your way of thinking — from your brains entirely. That’s not a helpful suggestion, that’s a demand. Going forward, America needs “moral journalism”. I don’t mean phony “moralistic” journalism puked out by phony journalists who place themselves above the fray (though both sides “do it”, they apparently don’t), I mean journalists who bring perspective to work every day.

This is not an impossibility. MSNBC has multiple journalists hosting multiple shows that DON’T “Both Sides Do It” — Ali Velshi (an awesome journalist), Nicolle Wallace (fearless as hell!), Rachel Maddow (relentless and so articulate), Joy-Ann Reid (equally relentless). So, it IS possible for news networks to hire and keep journalists on their roster who DO bring perspective to work with them every day. But they also have Chuck Todd — the King of “Both Sides Do It”. They have other reporters like Stephanie Ruhl (who, though excellent when reporting on the financial world, gets lost in “Both Sides Do It” the instant she turns to reporting politics) — let’s call them “Both Sides Adjacent”. And they have Kelly O’Donnell — the QUEEN of “Both Sides Do It”.

“Both Sides Do It” refuses to take sides — even when there are no sides to take other than “pro-democracy” and “pro-athoritarianism” and the pro-authoritarian side accuses the news media of being fake. To accept that statement because you dare not get involved is to validate bullshit — even if that’s not the intent. THAT’S the biggest, baddest ripple effect rolling off of “Both Sides Do It’s” cynicism — the validation of bullshit.

Want to know why America felt so ripped apart at the end of the Trump years? Because we were facing the terrible consequences every day of being told the lie — that both sides would take us to this same, awful place.

Want to know why this morning feels so wonderful — on top of the change in leadership coming less than two weeks from now? Because we now look forward to breathing air that doesn’t stink of bullshit. That doesn’t stink of “both sides doing it”.

The News Media’s Failure Of Imagination Is Killing Our Democracy

We live in a news world where a big slice of the news audience is better informed about what’s happening than the news people reporting the news. Maybe that’s because, unlike the news media, those of us in the cheap seats — untouched by the whorish need for access — can see all the players for who and what they are rather than what they can do for our careers. You’d think a crisis like this would force every person calling themselves “a journalist” to set aside the old rules of engagement. You’d think a man relentlessly lying to their faces for four plus years would eventually cause some sort of dynamic response. Aside from scratching their heads harder and longer? Most journalists have learned exactly nothing from their experience with Donald Trump.

Eventually, we’ll understand why most of our news media couldn’t aggregate the Donald Trump story which would have had them reporting on Trump as a stone cold criminal even before he was sworn in — just like Fusion GPS sorta kinda did. Fusion, the commercial research/political intelligence firm founded by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, was hired in 2016 by the publishers of Jeb Bush-backing Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump. As Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 27, 2017, before beginning their formal work, Fusion did its due diligence: they got their hands on every piece of publicly available material they could on Donald Trump. They got and read magazine pieces, newspaper articles, they listened to radio interviews, watched TV shows and movie appearances. They spent a fortune on Amazon, visited actual book stores and even went to the public library to find what they needed. What Fusion found there — in publicly available material that ANY reporter could find (had they the motivation) — convinced them so completely that Donald Trump was a money laundering criminal in league with the Russian mob that they went and hired an English company called Orbis because its owner used to work for the British MI6 and had the best contacts bar none inside Russia.

Fusion demonstrated imagination — and did something about it. So did Christ Steele. When HE looked inside Russia to answer Fusion’s questions, he was deeply troubled by the answers coming back. He was even more troubled when the American government failed to heed his red flag warning that Russian intelligence was coming at us, cyber war style and we were doing nothing to stop them.

Because HE had imagination — and could extrapolate not only what Russia was doing but what our non-response to it was doing consequently — Chris Steele did everything in his power to put his work product (raw intelligence!) into the right American hands that could process it correctly and react accordingly and do it now.

Failure of imagination has haunted the American press especially where the threat of right wing terrorism is concerned. How easily do American journalists prick up their ears every time a Republican shouts “socialism” compared to when a Republican behaves like an authoritarian shit? They’ll jump right into a discussion about single payer universal health care with “But, isn’t that socialism?” but never even think to question Republicans and the legality and morality of their actively engaging in voter suppression. That, too, is failure of imagination.

When our news media failed to remind its news audience every day of the 2020 campaign that, for the first time in American history, a president was running for re-election having been IMPEACHED for CHEATING in the very same election in which he was running, that was a failure of imagination. When they relentlessly wondered aloud why Trump so relentless sucked up to Vlad Putin — their inability to answer their own question was a failure of imagination. That the news media even now can say that what Trump is doing is treasonous — and yet still ask aloud “Will he run again in 2024” is proof that they are utterly incapable of imagining a functional and functioning Department of Justice.

You’d think the possibility of making one’s bones on the greatest story anyone will ever get to cover would inspire more journalists to journalistic greatness. But to see oneself winning a Peabody or a Pulitzer takes incredible imagination (if one really has a shot at one).

No wonder achieving that kind of journalistic greatness can only ever be a dream for them — requiring imagination. Some circles are just plain vicious.

Of Bond Villains And Presidents

Some of us used to joke how much Donald Trump was like having a Bond Villain as president. Been a while since that was funny. That’s the problem with irony: it can cut like a knife. One of the reasons our news media cannot wrap its head around Trump — to this very day — is because they lack the imagination to “see” Trump. Because they’ve convinced themselves that “both sides do it”, they’ve already got it in their heads that if Trump hadn’t done it first, some Democrat would have done it anyway. So, whatever Trump is doing — it’s not “corrupt”, it’s not a “crime”, it’s not even “treason”. It’s “the new new normal” because this (apparently) is what “both sides do”.

No, it is not.

Ronald Reagan was the first “movie star president”, but he wasn’t the first POTUS to use “movie star thinking” to win a presidency. Jacqueline Kennedy may have associated JFK’s 1,000 days as POTUS with “Camelot” after he was assassinated, but the idea stuck: a story about our present fit snugly with a story about a mythological past that never was. The Kennedy White House had all the same sparkle as Hollywood. Why, Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe even famously sang “Happy Birthday” to him. Americans like that. A lot. We especially like it when you do things positive with that star power. Or convince us that you are even if you’re not.

Back to Reagan. He understood the seductive qualities of smoke plus mirror. Stories can be as real as reality if you want them to be. Style over substance is not a new idea. Trickle down economics, coming from Reagan, was like the last little bit of a movie star’s gold-plated essence seeping into ordinary Americans’ grey, humdrum lives. It doesn’t seem like Reagan was anywhere near as cynical as the rest of his party. He may really have seen America as some “shining city on a hill”. Problem was (and remains) — the shining city in Reagan’s mind was all painted on a backdrop.

Ronald Reagan wasn’t the first person to get confused by Hollywood into thinking his version of America was “America”. In the terrific “An Empire Of Their Own: How The Jews Invented Hollywood”, Neal Gabler theorizes that our whole notion of “America” is, in large part, a fiction invented by Jewish movie studio owners (with plenty of Jewish writers and directors, actors and other technicians assisting) to, in essence, give them something into which to synthesize. Having spent almost two thousand years as “outsiders”, Jews suddenly had a chance, Gabler thinks (and, personally, I like his thinking), to invent a world that might more willingly accept them.

Having spent a career in the “making shit up” business, I’m keenly aware of the media’s power to invent not just worlds that don’t exist but ideas that, without the smoke and mirrors, couldn’t hold water. Time travel, for instance. A lot of “why” people think it’s possible is because stories have said it is. Those stories weren’t based on any sort of physics. They were based on “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…!”.

Trump is even more of an invention than Reagan was. Trump’s dad — Fred — knew his son was a “lox” as a negotiator. And anyway, making deals you never intend to honor is not actually “negotiating”. If Mark Burnett never imagined “The Apprentice” then none of Vladimir Putin’s investment in Trump would ever have paid off. But, Putin understands how propaganda works. He knows how to use it: destroy our common idea of “reality” then use the ensuing chaos to invent a “new reality”. Like, say, one where Donald Trump isn’t corrupt or a traitor.

Bond villains aren’t supposed to make you think. Even if they have some theoretically correct point of view — humans need to be stopped from destroying the planet — Bond Villains always go about it too heavy-handedly. I always wonder as I watch Bond movies, who’s cash flowing this guy? Who’s paying for the high tech set up and the gadgets and the rocketry and the people! Think of the payroll a guy like Blofeld has to maintain. Some of those people are super qualified, too. They don’t come cheaply. And is there any sort of profit-sharing involved? What kind of benefits does a Blofeld offer people he hopes will willing break the law with and for him? How do people who work for Blofeld report their income?

I know — it’s stupid to worry about things like this — he’s just a Bond Villain FFS! But then, I’m a John Le Carre fan, not an Ian Fleming fan. Oh, sure — in my youth, Bond was great fun (but then, Sean Connery was the Bond of my youth and movies like “From Russia With Love” remain the canon’s gold standard because they keep Bond’s world more real than surreal. I wonder if “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” suffered from an emotional Bond at the ending (he openly cries when his lover is shot dead — by Blofeld) or a more or less lackluster Bond (George Lazenby) trying to fill in for the recently departed-from-the-franchise Connery.

Le Carre (one of 2020’s cruel losses) based his Circus on the very real British spy agency he worked for. His spies weren’t about adventure or busting super villains, they were about betrayal — personal and tribal. The (usually) unspoken mantra underlying most of Le Carre’s work: “Love is the thing you can still betray”.

Though personally incapable of love, Donald Trump is much more a Le Carre villain than a Bond Villain. Trump’s villainy is pure betrayal. Not of love, but of everything else — everything everyone else loves. We know who his backers are. Even his political party knows who Trump’s backers are — the backers who aren’t them, I mean. The backer who holds them all in their thrall. The backer who’s been running this show since Trump was declared the “winner” in 2016: Russia.

No writer sitting down to write this, what we’ve been living, as a Bond movie could get away with it. It’s relentlessly over the top for starters. Who the hell acts like this — outside of a Bond movie — and not one of the good ones? Turns out, Donald Trump does. His whole party does.

In the Bond movies, the villain either dies spectacularly or gets away to fight another day. Soon enough, another cash flowed Super Villain will step up to fill the vacuum (having apparently fooled his investors into believing he could do what all the other supervillains couldn’t — deliver a return on their investment). We never get to see actual justice delivered — the kind that would flow from We The People. Bond movies don’t seem to exist inside the same democracy we do. Or did…

That’s what’s on our plate: how do we deal with the Bond Villain in front of us? He may not be a very good Bond Villain, but he’s ours. In fact, Trump’s such a crap Bond Villain that he doesn’t even qualify. He’s more a small screen TV villain punching above his weight — getting away with it — but only until now.

Come January 20, 2021, we will begin to write Trump the ending he deserves. We will challenge every single pardon he’s issued because we must. Trump’s whole presidency is based on treason — take Putin out of the 2016 equation and Trump never gets through the primaries. Just like traitors can’t legally become president, whatever they do WHILE president — that also doesn’t count as “legal”. How could it?

By obstructing justice, Trump and the GOP have tried to keep the rest of America from learning what the REAL story of the last four plus years has been. That obstruction is about to hit a wall. A rejuvenated Department of Justice dedicated to Justice (rather than to being a mob boss president’s consigliere), asking hard questions under oath — restarting every investigation Bill Barr or Rod Rosenstein stopped (especially the counter-intelligence investigations into Trump’s relationships with Russia) — will change the landscape significantly — just by asking hard questions under oath.

Anyway — Trump was never the real Bond Villain at the heart of this story that Mitch McConnell. Mitch after all is the link to the answer to my questions — who pays for these Bond Villains and all their toys? Turns out? Our villains are so bad — and so real? They put Bond villains to shame.

Can We Please Agree: “If” Donald Trump Committed Treason, His Whole Presidency Is Treasonous

Trust me here: one plus one equals two. It just does. Donald Trump behaves the way he does (and has) toward Vladimir Putin because Donald Trump is a traitor. If we took Putin out of the equation entirely, not only would Trump not be POTUS, he would never have run for president in the first place. It’s not new news that Trump is corrupt — and corrupted by Russia (among others). Why, the Republican Party itself KNEW IT for a fact even before their 2016 convention. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said it OUT LOUD for a roomful of the GOP hierarchy to hear: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrbacher and Trump”.

How did then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan respond? Per the Washington Post: “Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.” When told that Russia had likely compromised their presidential candidate, the GOP leadership didn’t call the FBI, they ran for their bunker. Mark this — even before he won his own party’s nomination, Trump was allied with a foreign government actively engaged in a CYBER WAR against us. Trump doesn’t have to know anything inside Putin’s head to be guilty of committing treason. Useful idiots are just as treasonous as useless ones.

Our news media — always light years behind this story — still wonders aloud why Trump is so chummy with Putin. If they scratched their heads any harder while pondering that question, they’d create permanent divots in their noggins. Repeat: one plus one equals two. Trump is chummy with Putin because Putin owns him. Nothing Trump has done before or during his presidency would contradict that. Trump’s treachery is the biggest open secret in the whole history of secrets.

His treachery is the reason he’ll fight to the bitter end to hold onto power — as if it was his to “hold onto”. That’s Trump’s big mistake. It’s the Republican Party’s big mistake, too. They’ve forgotten, authoritarian shitheads that they are, that power in our democracy flows from us, We The People. We may not be good at asserting ourselves until forced to but once we do, our intentions are almost always clear. We just asserted how much we want Trump fired. We weren’t kidding.

“Both Sides Do It” brand journalism refuses to take sides — because “both sides do it”. By assigning any one argument a 50-50 chance at being right, they assume that any two arguments being made are literal equals. Both sides have their “point of view”. That may be, but having a point of view doesn’t mean you have a point. They’re not the same thing. The guy who just stole your car may have a reason (he needed money), but so what? The bottom line is HE STOLE YOUR CAR. He can never be its rightful owner no matter how much he drives around in it.

“Both Sides Do It” journalism disagrees. It concludes it’s his car if he says it is. Who are they, the news media — or us, the car thief’s victim — to tell him otherwise?

Just as a car thief can never be your car’s rightful owner, “if” Donald Trump committed a crime — ANY CRIME — in order to become POTUS, the act of committing that crime VOIDED his presidential bid. You cannot commit a crime in order to become president. Likewise — you cannot CHEAT to become POTUS. Correction — you can certainly cheat (people have!) to become president. But, if we catch you at it, that cheating negates your success. Cheating to win does not and can NEVER equal NOT cheating to win. Otherwise, why wouldn’t everyone cheat to win? If the other guy’s cheating to win — taking a big steaming dump on the rules in the process, you’d be an idiot to stick to the rules. He’s not.

Why do we insist on letting the cheater always have an unfair advantage?

Trump has projected his illegitimacy from day one. Why, oh why, are we so dead set on not listening to him? The reason Trump can never stop being POTUS is because the instant the title ceases to be his, the indictments and subpoenas will drop on him like nuclear fallout. Same goes for every single Republican who, though knowing or suspecting what Trump (and the other Republicans) were up to, remained silent. That racist “good ol’ boy” complicity doesn’t play here anymore.

There will be a day of reckoning when we face the stone cold truth: Donald Trump was never the legitimate president. He never had the AUTHORITY that flows from LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY. Just because Trump STOLE that authority and MIS-USED IT to, say, nominate judges — it doesn’t mean he ever actually HAD the authority to do that. Trust me on this — if you or I enter a contest, cheat to win and then get found out? Whatever we won in the competition? We’re not getting to keep it — and rightfully so: IT WAS NEVER OURS.

The same goes for every judge Trump nominated. If he never had the rightful authority, then none of those nominations can stand. Each and every one of them is an affront to American democracy. They fly in the face of the rule of law and the Constitution. Why should we — who follow the Constitution — be bound by those hell bent on destroying the Constitution? Why should (or would) Democrats go forward — attempting to govern — with Republicans who’ve questioned the whole system’s integrity — because they want to destroy it and replace it with permanent minority rule?

It would be stupid beyond words to tell ourselves we’re bound by what criminals did. No, we’re not. The correct response to a child throwing a tantrum isn’t to get down on the floor and tantrum alongside them. You don’t parent by acting like the child and you don’t ever chase a rabbit down its hole.

The correct answer to “But, Trump says…!” is “So what?” He’s a liar. He needs to bring receipts to the table from now on. Otherwise, we’ll assume he’s lying. And why would anyone with two brain cells listen anything a liar says? See how that framing works?

That’s the simple trick our news media needs to teach itself. Of course, if you think truth and bullshit are the same thing (because both sides do it), you’ll never frame anything the right way. The fact is, We The People will not permit Trump or the Republican Party to get away with betraying us.

Whether or not we hold the news media accountable — that’s a whole other question.

America Has A Health INSURANCE System, Not A Health CARE System; They’re NOT The Same Thing

Repeat: America does not have a health CARE system. What we have is a health INSURANCE system. They are not the same thing. The first question we ask anyone who walks in the health system’s door isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” That’s deplorable. It’s disgusting. We are the only civilized country on earth where that happens. Correction — because that happens here? There is no way we can claim to be “civilized”. Civilized people don’t put profit incentive at the core of their health CARE system

It’s a testament to how thoroughly the insurance companies have bamboozled Americans that most Americans don’t even realize what they’re fighting for when they insist they want to keep the health insurance they have no matter what. Insurance companies don’t provide health care. They provide “GATEKEEPING” services. That’s it. Their job is to stand between us and our health care providers, deciding whether to let us see them or not. A “good health insurance plan” will let us see the health care providers we want — provided they’re “in-network”. A crap plan doesn’t cover anything so why bother figuring out which doctors you like; you aren’t seeing them regardless.

The health insurance companies — like for profit hospitals — are not in the business of curing patients so much as they are in the business of charging them maximum dollars for minimum services. For profit health insurance companies LOSE money every time they have to pay for an insured’s medical expenses. In their ideal world, everyone’s paranoid about their health — paying in — but incredibly healthy — requiring no paying out. Keep in mind, a publicly traded company has a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, not to any “patients”. Patients (that cost money) and profits are mutually exclusive propositions.

That’s why Americans have to worry every time they get sick even IF they have decent insurance. The insurance might not cover what they need — and they won’t know about it or know how desperately they need it until it’s already happening. And that’s IF they have insurance. Without the insurance, they’d be completely at the system’s mercy — and our health insurance system has zero mercy.

How the hell did we get into this mess? To a degree, it started during WW Two. In order to direct as much money as possible to the war effort, we made it verboten for big companies to give good employees raises or to raise the salary being paid to new, skilled hires. Big companies still wanted to incentivize their best employees to stay or to motivate new, quality employees to hire on, so they started offering “hospital insurance”. The new hires seemed to like it.

In time, the war ended. So did the moratorium on raises. But, the employer-provided health insurance didn’t end. In fact, it became the “state of the art”. Though the logic behind employers providing their employees health INSURANCE (not the actual care) no longer held, the idea flourished. That was the beginning of our national health care nightmare.

While more big, medium and (now) smaller companies were forced to offer health INSURANCE to their employees, they didn’t have the ability or desire to administer the policies and their implementation. They turned to the newly burgeoning “health insurance business” to do that. The insurance companies, once empowered, were not going to give up that power easily — because that power (to decide what they’d pay for and what they wouldn’t) was the source of their money. The unions — as they should have — took full advantage of their negotiating power to carve out the best health insurance plans with the most coverage for the least out of pocket for their members. Of course they don’t want to lose that!

But even so — what the unions have isn’t the health CARE, it’s the commitment of the insurance company to cover more care. To be a “good gatekeeper” instead of a “mean one”. That is, after all, what insurance companies are: GATEKEEPERS — standing BETWEEN Americans and their actual health CARE. The reason some Americans got angry about Obamacare is because their gatekeepers refused to play along — and deliberately kept Americans from the health care providers they preferred.

I’ve joked here about the kind of health “care” coverage Republicans would create if they were honest about their intentions. I called it “TrumpCare Pick-An-Organ” because the concept was why insure organs that might never go bad on you? Why not gamble a little and save some money. You’ve got two lungs, two kidneys, two kinds of intestines — who needs it all? More to the point, who needs to waste money insuring it all? Why, nobody, of course! It went something like this…

Ask yourself — why are Republicans so opposed to universal health coverage — where every American, as their right, receives excellent health CARE. Who pays for it is never a question because WE DO. Through out tax dollars.

One of the problems Americans have with paying taxes is that we see all that money as wasted — like it was deliberately shoveled down a black hole. Throw waste atop that and the whole idea of paying taxes feels like theft. But, what if every citizen was given an itemized statement every year that showed to the penny where THEIR tax dollars went, what they were spent on and what they bought FOR that taxpayer.

We’d see clearly where our money was being wasted, for sure! But we also could point to things that our tax dollars bought for us — that we wanted — that our tax dollars could provide far more economically than via the private sector? Health CARE, for instance… Every other civilized country on earth does this more cheaply than we do and with far better outcomes.

That’s because socialized medicine is better medicine. Yes, profit incentive creates an environment conducive to innovation. One could get rich. But, in the health care environment, getting rich is counter productive. The need for profits and the need for good patient outcomes are not natural allies. In our insurance-based system, the profits always win out. The people almost always lose.

Or end up with medical bills that, ultimately, will kill them.

Universal single payer is the only answer. Personally, I’m with Bernie Sanders here — to keep the health insurance companies around is to invite abuse and just more stratification of services. Money will attract those more interested in greed than health care. The promise of health care is merely the bait in the “bait and switch”.