Dear American News Media – Stop Acting Like The Dance Band On The Titanic

The Dance Band on the Titanic went down with the ship. America, like the Titanic, is sinking. The difference is we don’t have to. Our ship of state can still be saved.

America’s news media can’t be blamed for Donald Trump. Fred and Mary Trump deserve that credit (oh, that we could go back in time and tie Mary’s tubes while also delivering a good, swift kick to Fred’s family jewels). But Donald Trump’s resiliency — the fact that he’s still POTUS and not a federal prisoner — THAT falls almost entirely on the news media and their remarkable inability to convey the story in front of them. The story they themselves have reported.

As we stand here today, Donald Trump is the first person EVER to run for re-election as POTUS having been IMPEACHED — for cheating in the very election he’s running in.

That’s not a small thing. It’s a huge, HUGE thing. And yet, our news media never reminds its news audience that THAT is the context in which Donald Trump is running for re-election. He does it — overtly cheating — having already been impeached for cheating!

But, not just cheating — committing TREASON while cheating.

The news media — what else can we conclude? — has accepted and normalized not only cheating but treason. It’s now just another facet of “Trump’s a different kind of potus” — that toxic confection the news media keeps feeding itself to explain away Trump’s lawlessness. No, he’s not “different”, he’s a criminal. He’s always been a criminal — and it’s always been there for all to see because the news media itself reported on it!

Among the stories our news media can’t seem to 1) get straight or 2) comprehend is Christopher Steele and the dossier of raw intelligence he put together and then desperately tried to get into the right hands. As an example of what I’m talking about — if (as our news media does) you simply assume that Chris Steele’s dossier dropped from the sky by magic — it’s easy to dismiss. It could just as easily be the work product of a crank.

Except it’s not. If we trace the story back to how we GOT TO the Chris Steele part of the story, we suddenly discover not only that there IS a story but there’s a story that the news media has already reported on — and seemingly forgotten. As the 2016 Republican primaries got under way, every Republican who wasn’t Donald Trump hated and feared Donald Trump. That included Republicans who supported Jeb Bush’s campaign.

Among them was The Washington Free Beacon (financed by hedge fund magnate Paul Singer). They funded oppo research into multiple Republican candidates but their research on Trump proved the most compelling. The Beacon hired the firm Fusion GPS — a commercial research and strategic intelligence firm founded by two former Wall Street Journal reporters. One of them, Glenn Simpson, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017. The committee — under Republican control, don’t forget — was attempting to undermine the Steele Dossier’s integrity by undermining the integrity of those who hired Steele.

Why was Chris Steele hired in the first place, the Committee wanted to know — assuming, I guess, that they could imply something nefarious where nothing nefarious existed? Simpson explained how, after Fusion was hired, they did their due diligence. They got their hands on every piece of PUBLICLY AVAILABLE material on Trump that they could — newspaper articles, magazine pieces, radio interviews, TV shows — everywhere Trump’s name appeared or was spoken. They went to Amazon and actual book stores. They combed the internet. They even went to the public library.

What Fusion found — in publicly available material that anyone (including the press) could just as easily have found — convinced them that Donald Trump was likely a criminal who laundered Russian mob money through his (now bankrupt) Atlantic City Casinos. They saw other possible connections between Donald Trump and Russia, too. They were so concerned, in fact, that they sub-contracted the research out to the Westerner with, perhaps, the connections inside Russia — former head of MI6’s Russia Desk Chris Steele.

Did you follow that, American News Media? Publicly available material suggesting Trump’s likely criminality is what motivated the Steele hire. That means anyone — any journalist — could have, at any time, have done what Fusion did: the due diligence.

By the time Fusion got to Chris Steele, the Free Beacon had stopped funding the work; Trump had become the presumptive nominee. Steele’s work was paid for by Marc Elias, the lawyer for the D.N.C. and Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. That doesn’t in any way disqualify it. Steele — with his excellent connections inside Russia — had no idea who was underwriting his work product.

Ah, but Trump says… The Republicans say. It’s like reporting what the iceberg says. “Go ahead — hit me! I promise nothing bad will happen to ya…”.

The Titanic’s dance band was great at dying nobly. For the purposes of argument though, what if Sam, the band’s talented sax player, possessed knowledge that could have saved the ship? What if Sam — in a previous life — had worked in a shipyard, building ships and new of a way that might stem the flow of water into the six forward watertight compartments that the iceberg exposed. What if another of the band — Val, the Violinist — recognized that if he could get the passengers to rush to the back of the ship, it would aid Sam’s plan and, perhaps, save them all? And what if all the others in the band immediately pitched in to do whatever they could to help.

Our news media has knowledge that could save our ship of state from sinking. They know the iceberg we’ve hit — they’ve reported on it. They also know how the ship works. How its engines work. While, like with the Titanic, time is short, our news media can still stem the flow of water into our tanks. Or, in this case, the flow of bullshit, propaganda and disinformation.

For starters, the news media needs to stop running around the deck like Chicken Little. They need to see themselves as PASSENGERS on this vessel with a rooting interest in not sinking. They need to stop seeing this story from the iceberg’s point of view — or the ocean’s. They need to see it entirely from the passengers’ point of view — because that’s who’s going to suffer the consequences.

Donald Trump & the Republican Party are our democracy’s iceberg. In collusion with their Russian friend, they intend to sink us and raise a Jolly Roger over the remains. That isn’t crazed left wing lunacy. It’s all been reported by our press. You’d think our press wouldn’t be so reluctant to read their own stuff.

The journalism professor turned journalist Seth Abramson hasn’t done any original reporting. Rather, he’s aggregated all the reporting that’s been done — all in one place: his three Collusion books. The portrait Abramson’s work portrays is beyond devastating. Like Fusion GPS mining what every other journalist could mine, Abramson demonstrates how journalism is supposed to work. We already know an awful lot about how exactly Donald Trump became POTUS. We know how corrupt Trump is and how vulnerable to blackmail because of it. Our news media reported it.

Our news media can still save the day. All they have to do is adhere to a few basic principles while seeing themselves as citizen journalists instead of corporate journalists. They might as well since anyone who doesn’t go full corporate, access journalist if Trump “wins” (cheats to win actually — which is not the same thing as actually “winning”) is going to end up in a gulag. Here are a few actions they need to take —

  • Stop Normalizing Everything Trump Does. Mexicans still aren’t rapists (despite the news media’s apparently accepting it) and pussy-grabbing is absolutely not acceptable, no matter how rich you are.
  • Access Journalism is stone cold bullshit. Stop running for the next Judith A Miller ‘It’s All About Access” Award.
  • Listen to Maya Angelou’s wise words: when someone (like Donald Trump) tells you (repeatedly and ad nauseum) who they are? BELIEVE THEM!
  • Whatever you have to do to get it, GET SOME PERSPECTIVE!
  • Words matter. A lie is a lie. Call it what it is, not some euphemism. And trust that your audience is at least as adult as you are. Swear words aren’t nearly as offensive as corruption.
  • Both sides don’t do it. That’s you generalizing — and badly. John Q. Citizen under-reporting his taxes is not the same as Bernie Madoff though both are committing fraud. Proportion and scale matter. So does motive.
  • No one does anything “just because”.
  • When you repeat bullshit without saying it’s bullshit, you validate the bullshit. Once bullshit has credence, it doesn’t give it back.
  • Learn to aggregate. Storytelling builds one scene atop another, each scene (ideally) adding information to the information added in the previous scene. It’s monstrously stupid — and bad storytelling — to keep returning to square one, as if you don’t know the very things you’d already reported on.
  • Recognize your Constitutional obligation. Look, you chose journalism. You choose to pursue it, regardless of the myriad challenges and difficulties. Journalism is the one non-governmental job mentioned in the Constitution — as the final check on governmental power. Tasks don’t get more sacred than that. Take yours seriously FFS!

C’mon News Media — career-minded as you are, you still have souls (religious or otherwise). Most of you got into journalism because you wanted to change things. You wanted to tell truths that stopped villains, rewarded heroes and made the world a better place because of it.

Great! Live that ethos, News Media! Report it. Our ship’s going down with all hands on deck otherwise.

Mind you — we’ll be on deck listening to YOU play us out. Glug, glug, glug…

Breaking News: Moscow July 4, 2018 “Traitor’s Club” Dinner Menu Revealed — Treason WAS On The Menu!

It’s ALL coming out of the woodwork now. July 4, 2018 — a group of “patriotic” Republican Congresspeople spend THEIR Fourth of July in Moscow doing…

What do you think they were doing? They were betraying America — and here’s what was on the menu that night…

Just so we don’t forget — no one should — these traitors are: Sens. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), Steve Daines (Mont.), John Hoeven (N.D.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), John Thune (S.D.) and Johnson, plus Rep. Kay Granger (Tex.).

Let’s give them all seconds — served in buckets — in prison.

It Isn’t Just That A Trump Second Term Would Destroy American Democracy Forever, A Trump Second Term Would Finish Turning Us Into Him

Former Republican Rick Wilson got it so right: everything Trump touches dies. There are no exceptions to that rule.

Like a virus, Donald Trump can’t survive without a host. In our case, us. If he can’t infect us, he can’t reproduce his toxicity in sufficient quantity to survive. The best he can do is infect those around him and make more feckless, corrupt, ugly children.

Trump craves adoration because if he can get you to adore him, he can get you to do anything for him. Including die. Trumpism reproduces inside its adherents, zombifying them until they’re permanently cut off from reason, logic, facts, truth.

Just like that, a Trump follower’s needs are Trump’s needs.

There should never have been a first term of this disease. Take Russia out of the Trump equation and he never runs for office. He’s already broke and living on the street because no one was there to step in and rescue his bankrupt casinos or pay him a tidy $54 million profit on a white elephant house in Florida.

During his first term, Trump finished turning the entirety of the Republican Party into him. Take Lindsey Graham — a man who at one point said out loud that if the Republican Party followed Donald Trump, they’d deserve the certain destruction he’d cause them. Lindsey also said he’d never go along with naming a SCOTUS judge in an election year. I bet, when we finally get him under oath, Lindsey tells a long, complex, sordid tale about how exactly a person gets that corrupt and that vulnerable to corruption.

We don’t need Donald Trump to tell us that story because he’s already told it himself. He’s lived a life of corruption and — staggeringly — gotten away with it.

Our news media can’t seem to remember that Donald Trump is the first president ever to be impeached and then run for re-election — having been impeached for CHEATING in the very election he’s running in. That’s an amazing amount of normalization of stuff that should never be normalized. Then again, our news media oversaw the normalization of “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” and “Both sides are good people” and “15 cases will go to zero” and “fake news” and “our military are all suckers and losers” and on and on and on.

Normalization works exactly like an infection. It’s essential to Trumpism. We are the frog thinking the pool’s a little warmer than usual today — when, in fact, it’s boiling hot and we’re about to be frog soup.

There’s one answer to this: No.

The Republican Party is gambling everything on muscling the majority of Americans into submission. They’re slave masters after all, with a whip in their hand.

Oh, the surprise they’re all in for. We’ve taken the last whipping from them. We’ll have that whip — and rather than just turn it on them, we’ll subject them to the rule of law. They’ll wish we’d used the whip instead.

The Earthquake Experience For Those Who’ve Never Had “The Pleasure”

In the 35 plus years I’ve lived in LA, I’ve experienced two major earthquakes, plenty of minor ones and who knows how many teeny-tiny ones too small to feel.

Last night’s 4.6 temblor, apparently, is related to the 1987 Whittier Narrows quake — my first Big Un. One’s first big quake is truly special. I think it imprints on you the way you’ll react to every other earthquake you feel. At the time, my wife and I were renting a little Spanish bungalow near the corner of La Brea and Santa Monica — WeHo Adjacent in current parlance. It really was special.

The house — two bedrooms, one bathroom — sat about forty yards from the street, behind lots of trees, its own off-the-street parking lot big enough for three cars, a high fence, more trees, a swimming pool and then a few more trees. If you didn’t know that bungalow was there, you’d never guess. It was very private. We threw many excellent naked pool parties there. It was a long time ago.

On the morning of the quake (October 1st), our German shepherd Sophie had the first inkling that something was about to happen. I was up, watching the news. Kent Shockneck was doing the local spot on KNBC when — at 7:42 — the 5.9 temblor hit.

The first thing that strikes you is the sound. It comes from beneath, filling the space with its unbelievable basso profundo. That’s this particular earthquake’s sound signature. The nature of the earthquake will determine the nature of the shaking (depending on the nature of the ground you’re on). The bungalow felt like it was undulating, like something beneath it was rolling and the house was rolling right along with it. As the house’s wood and stucco material vibrated and shifted, it, too, had a sound signature. THAT makes an impression on you. You suddenly realize the structure you’re in isn’t as solid as you think.

I pulled my groggy wife from our bed and, together we stood in the nearest doorway (which, in fact, would have been a useless doorway had the house actually come down on us). From there I could see out into the yard where Sophie, our dog, stood by the pool — watching the water lap violently over the sides.

Time gets strange during an earthquake. When they’re happening, they seem to last forever. Even if it’s only been a few seconds, you feel like it might never stop. Inside my head, two very distinct reactions took place simultaneously.

The first was an intellectual reaction — my head. Being as it was my first earthquake, I was something between a tourist and a guy gawking at a car wreck on the freeway. If you can put your fear aside for a moment and appreciate — intellectually — what’s happening all around you, it’s beyond cool. It’s pure nature. It’s pure plate tectonics doing a master class with you as one of the exhibits.

That’s where the second reaction — the animal one — takes over. That sound the earth is making is truly terrifying. Nothing else sounds like that. Thank goodness. There’s no place to run to, no place to hide where the sound — and the shaking — isn’t happening. And the shaking — you absolutely believe your house can fall down on you right then and there. Throw in the sound of stuff falling and breaking (our experience during the 1994 Northridge earthquake (a 6.7 that did considerably more damage than the Whittier Narrows quake).

As calm a museum-goer as your intellectual side may be in the midst of an earthquake, your animal side (if you’re like me) is galloping around, its hair on fire, screaming “We’re doomed!” That battle gets louder and louder inside your head the longer the shaking goes on. To be honest, the only earthquake where I felt a sense of mortal peril was a minor earthquake. It may even have been an aftershock from the Whittier Narrows quake.

I was temping for a financial company downtown in their highrise. I was on the 35th floor of a building with great views — because there was glass on every single side. When the earth quakes, these tall buildings are designed to dissipate the quake’s energy by literally bending slightly. That bit of to-and-fro will save the building. Now, if you’re INSIDE a building when that’s happening, you may be able to intellectualize that that’s what’s happening all around you — a good thing — but it doesn’t feel like a good thing. As the building lurches from side to side, the same motion that’s helpfully dissipating all the energy also compels one’s body in the direction the building is shifting.

On the 35th floor, I felt like the building was pushing me toward the glass windows. That was scary.

Last night’s 4.6 wasn’t subtle. The house shook for a good four or five seconds. The earth had a sound signature and so did our rented 1902 Craftsman. “Just what we needed,” muttered my wife. It had been an awful day. On top of the pandemic shutdown and the wildfire smoke pushing everyone indoors, Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died. The implications were/are staggering.

And then the earth shook.

Our cats pretty much took the quake in stride (though one, Daisy, was a little needy for the first 20 minutes afterwards). Little or no damage has been reported as of now.

As earthquakes go, last night was a minor event. The one that happened earlier — when RBG passed away — that was the real earthquake. Maybe the Earth itself was sympathizing for a change.

I Grew Up In The Shadow Of The Holocaust And I Feel That Shadow Growing

According to Donald Trump, “Jews” are a “nationality”. That’s not the first time a country’s leader has started down that road. Throughout most of Europe’s history, Jews were kept apart. In Venice, Italy, they put them on their own little islands and called that area — where the Jews lived — “ghetto”. That’s where the word comes from.

Historically, when people see Jews as a “nationality”, it doesn’t end well for us.

I was born in 1959, 14 years after the Nazi concentration camps were liberated then grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore. Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish that “clever people” called it “Kikesville” instead. My public high school was so predominantly Jewish that even the non-Jewish kids took the Jewish holidays off — cos they knew NOTHING was happening in school those days since 90% of the students would be gone.

You might think growing up in a place so culturally Jewish would shield one from the Holocaust’s awfulness. You might think such an awful memory — so close in our rear view mirror — would have horrified my community into a stone cold refusal to discuss it.

We went completely in the other direction. I wouldn’t say we “embraced” the Holocaust so much as we “owned it”. The end of WWII — the end of the Holocaust — didn’t end anti-Semitism the same way the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t actually end slavery.

As my community tends to do, we turned what happened to us into a teachable moment. There were some essential lessons still to be learned. There’s a famous photo of a group of Jews being rounded up in the Warsaw Ghetto by the occupying Nazis –

From the first time I saw the photo, I became that boy in the lower right. I bet a lot of Jews my age did.  We saw and felt that boy’s terror, his helplessness.  His confusion: how can they be doing this to you just because you were born Jewish?  You’ve done nothing wrong to anyone on the planet – yet the planet wants you dead. 

“Never Again” became as integral a part of my “religious education” as chanting the ‘Shema’.  The past hurt.  That was not going to be our future. 

In our guts, my community has always known this was lurking somewhere in the American Character. Turns out, the Nazis were admirers of how racists in America codified and amplified their racism. The Nazi’s method of industrialized murder found significant inspiration in America’s brand of Christo-fascism: slavery

You can’t cram peoples’ heads with tons of bullshit and not expect the bullshit to screw them up. Bullshit always screws people up – cos it’s bullshit. When you cram nonsensical, logic-free, hateful mythology into peoples’ heads, it screws them up. It’s worse when the logic-free, hateful mythology also runs counter to your religion’s core message (and its core messenger).

It sucks being despised because of a total fiction. It sucks worse being killed over it. But that’s what’s coming to America: death & destruction because bullshit.

In fact, “death & destruction because bullshit” is Trump’s entire re-election strategy.

Oh, The Irony — It Will Be Corrupt Conservatives Who Turn America Into A “Socialist Paradise”

The only thing that scares a conservative more than “socialism” (their idea of it anyway) is diversity. Oh, they’ll tolerate diversity in the business they own. At the end of the day, they’ll happily pay minimum wage to whomever. But will they tolerate diversity in their country club — or worse, their neighborhood?

Surely, you jest!

That Black family may be able to afford to live in the rich, white conservative’s gated community, but they were never supposed to be able to afford it. And that’s the point. Conservatism’s real mission is to keep everyone in their “proper” place in the pecking order — as it was in the 50’s — the 1850’s.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism — private ownership of the means of production — for profit. In theory, capitalism is color blind. The money doesn’t care who’s profiting from it. It turns toxic however when it becomes crony capitalism that excludes most everyone else from access to that money and the means of production. Crony capitalism is greed run amok. It moves capitalism from the “apolitical” pile to the “immoral” pile. Also — crony capitalists are distinctly political because politics are always required if the crony capitalists are going to hold onto the unchecked power that keeps crony capitalism afloat.

Slavery was the epitome of crony capitalism. It was immoral and highly political. Connect all the dots of conservatism and a picture of crony capitalism emerges. One hand needs to wash the other.

Donald Trump is the epitome of the crony capitalist. He epitomizes its deep down corruption. That’s conservatism’s real problem. We’ve now seen first hand what crony capitalism aspires to. It’s very, very good for a percentage of the 1%. It frankly sucks for pretty much everyone else.

The deep hole we’re in was dug by crony capitalists practicing crony capitalism. We can keep digging — that’s what crony capitalists would want us to do (instead of decking them and climbing out of that hole). It’s just a fact (we live inside the data set): no conservative solution to the mess conservatism caused exists. All conservatism can do now is make the hole bigger, deeper, danker.

America, we now realize, does not have a health CARE system, it has a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing. When people walk in our door, the first question we ask isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” No other industrialized, first world country has profit incentive at the heart of its health care system because health care and profit are mutually exclusive propositions.

A publicly traded company has a fiduciary responsibilities to its shareholders to maximize the returns they’ve made on their investment in said company. They care about profits not patients. Patients, remember, are cash out. The more an insurance company or for profit hospital spends on patient care, the less they’ll make in profits — and the less happy the board of directors and shareholders will be with them.

Any of us needing an expensive procedure to save our lives is going to have to be more worthwhile than the Maserati the insurance company’s chairman of the board has his jaundiced eye on. The coronavirus pandemic has made it crystal clear that we can only be as healthy as the least healthy among us. It only takes one person afraid to reveal their illness to set another pandemic off and running.

People unable to afford health care — unable to take the time off from work to seek the care — are perfectly primed to infect everyone and everyone they meet. And it’s not their fault. They’re being exploited. Universal single payer health CARE is coming to America.

There’s no stopping it now. There’ll be no stopping guaranteed public university education (or comparable technical training). Think of it as something we’d be doing for ourselves. I also believe public service is vital. Every high school graduate should owe a minimum of 18 months of public service. They can join the military, man polling stations, teach kids to read or get food to the hungry and homeless. They can use whatever their skill sets are to make their country a better place for all Americans.

We could even pay for medical school educations with one caveat. We The People will pay to make you a doctor — but you will have to invest some time in public health as the means to pay We The People back. You get, you give. Yeah — it’s socialized. But it’s still democratic.

Andrew Yang’s presidential run didn’t just put universal basic income on the table. The pandemic shutting down the world’s economies made UBI downright respectable. UBI became the only comprehensive way to keep the economy from completely tanking. All the data on UBI says the same thing — it improves peoples’ lives considerably. Rather than leaping at the first job offered because they’re desperate, people receiving UBI tend to wait for the right job to come along — the one that utilizes their skill sets best and makes them happiest. Being happy makes them more productive.

And the money people get via UBI? They don’t hoard it like a bank would. They spend it — on their rent, their utilities, their food and gym membership. They put that money right back into the economy. The taxes paid all down the line help cash flow the UBI all over again. The reason Republicans like Mitch McConnell despise UBI is because it proves them to be liars, pirates and thieves. It works while their policies don’t.

There will be no way out of this crashed economy except by progressive means. When we find ourselves eventually on the upside of this tragedy, progressive policies like universal single payer health care and UBI will have been mainstreamed. Not only will they NOT have brought down Western Civilization, they will have actually benefited more Americans.

I look forward to toasting all my conservative “friends” one day. As awful as many (not all) have been in this period, it will be conservatism as a whole that finally brought America to its senses — by making America a democratic socialist paradise. Let’s be real. Even if we never made it to “paradise”? Whatever progressives do will be a thousand times better and more popular than anything Donald Trump might ever do.

I Have A Feeling THESE 20’s Are About To “Really” Roar

The Roaring 1920’s brought economic prosperity to the Western world — until a lot of that prosperity turned out to be phony, crony capitalism — and the world plunged into the Great Depression. These 20’s — the 2020’s — are about to roar as well — but for a whole different reason. The underlying cause is about the same — greed and power lust — but this time with the added weight of racism, bigotry and sexism. All those things have worked in concert with greed and power lust up until now.

The Roaring 2020’s are about to shut that down.

The problem with conservative thinking is that it stifles innovation. Innovation scares conservatives because innovation always takes us forward while conservatives (as their name says) want to conserve — what is and what was. Conservative thinking also stands behind racism, bigotry and sexism. You may disapprove of Trump’s racism — while enjoying your billionaire’s tax cut — but the fact is: if you stand with racists for any reason, it makes YOU a racist. Or a bigot. Or a misogynist.

Or a Republican.

A Great Moral Reckoning is coming. Corruption has had its way with us and we’re both disgusted by it and over it. This toothpaste is not going back into its tube.

The roaring can be heard in our streets, at Black Lives Matter protest marches. It can be seen blazing indignantly in the eyes of Democratic legislators unable to get any sort of realistic, meaningful financial assistance legislation past Moscow Mitch McConnell. We The People are the ones roaring now. We couldn’t wrap our minds around the openly criminal way Trump stole election 2016. At least now a few more people are appropriately woke. They see Trump cheating and call it out.

The only problem — they (and we) have got to stop equating cheating with winning — as if one could cheat to win and get away with it because why not?

Part of our roar needs to be “if you cheated to ‘win” then you did not win”.

Republicans fear our roar more than we know. That’s why they’re so determined to hush it. They know that significant power that still resides in the will of the people.

Until they can finally kill that dead, Republicans will have to play a dangerous game of cat & mouse. In this case though, the mouse has a secret weapon — the Truth — on its side.

There’s A Great Moral Reckoning Coming — And I Can’t Hardly Wait!

It’s not a matter of “if”. It’s a matter of “when”: a Great Moral Reckoning is coming — and the entire Republican Party is going to hate it.

Good.

Remember back to election night 2016? Remember how the evening began to feel — especially when it became apparent that Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin were landing in the Trump column? It didn’t feel like we’d “lost”. It felt distinctly like something was “taken”. It wasn’t our expectations that were dashed — it was our sense of fairness. The Comey Letter plus Russian disinformation — landing as they did WHILE EARLY VOTING WAS HAPPENING — had a profound effect on the election’s outcome.

In the end, of course, the Comey Letter was bullshit. The investigation wasn’t being re-opened; the files in question were all old. Several “rogue agents” in the FBI’s NYC bureau — all fans of the Breitbart published book Clinton Cash — had dragged their heels for months, refusing to examine the files on Anthony Weiner’s computer. They deliberately waited until October — just so they could get the news media buzzing again about “her emails”. Of course, that was after a whole campaign season filled with cynicism, lies and the news media insisting that both sides were “doing it”.

No, both sides were not committing treason to win the election.

America has been due a Great Moral Reckoning since its inception. “All men are created equal” and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. There are no compromises between the two. It’s a tug of war where only one side can win. Up until today, Slavery has continued to pin “All men are created equal” to the mat. That is finally changing.

The Electoral College is a vestige of slavery. It’s been a long time since a Republican became president because he won the popular vote. They now rely on the Electoral College to keep them — a minority — in power. They rely on a relic of slavery to keep slavery alive.

The Republicans have always portrayed themselves as the “moral party” — pointing to their piety as proof. Their piety is horse shit. So’s their “morality”.

The irony? The “moral party” — especially its religious wing — are the ones who most fear a Great Moral Reckoning. That’s because they’ll have the most to lose from it.

America must finally confront the racism that we built into our democracy. We have to own it. Slavery is, above all, stolen labor. That’s the whole point of having a slave: they work for you for free. You may have to house them and clothe them and feed them — so they’ll be able to work for you whenever you need them — but you don’t have to house, clothe or feed them well. The point is you’re not paying them — and that means you’re saving a fortune entirely at their expense.

Stolen labor is theft. It undermines not just the people whose labor is being stolen but all labor — because when it goes unpunished (as it almost always does), it encourages more stolen labor. I shouldn’t have to say this: stolen labor is immoral. To benefit from stolen labor is immoral. To profit from it — even more immoral.

Once we’ve owned our thievery, we can begin to fix the future. We can change our emphasis from making the rich richer to raising all boats. Real morality flows from equality. What’s moral is what’s most equal and what benefits the most people without harming anyone.

America’s women — especially Black women — are already driving us away from corruption and toward the “come to Jesus” moment we desperately need. When this is all done and dusted, America will owe its Black women more than a “thank you”. We’ll owe Black men, too. But Black women will have been made to bear the additional burden of sexism. We’ll owe Black women our deep, abiding, permanent respect — which we owed them all along.

Despite this country treating Black women callously in every way, Black women have kept the flame of American democratic principles alive. Though they’ve never benefited from the level playing field promised in our foundational documents — Life, Liberty, The Pursuit Of Happiness — they’ve demonstrated via their tenacity how the rest of us should feel about our democracy. Black women got it a long, long time ago. So did Black men of course. America’s founding ideals are worth fighting and dying for.

Note: while it’s understandable we might have to fight outside forces from time to time to protect our democratic principles, we should NEVER have to fight inside forces.

While one side perpetually plays the moral indignation card, it’s the other side that perpetually feels actual moral indignation — because of the first side’s relentless immorality. Our news media fails to see it because they’re convinced “both sides do it” while, in point of fact, both sides don’t.

Both sides don’t suppress the other side’s voters, for example. Both sides don’t commit treason in order to win elections. Both sides don’t relentlessly obstruct oversight or election security. One side does this — and for specific (political) reasons. How, I wonder, will our news media explain itself when we come to the understanding that, no, Donald Trump did not “win” election in 2016, he STOLE the election. Cheating to win does not equal winning. It can NEVER equal winning.

That’s something our news media will have to learn the hard way — via its own Great Moral Reckoning.

A Call For Moral Journalism

It is immoral to equate Truth with bullshit. Yet that is what the bulk of our news media does every day. They equate the stone cold facts of what Donald Trump has done and is doing to our democracy with the utter bullshit of his denials.

This morning, Trump’s White House is trying to contain a PR disaster. The Atlantic reported that multiple sources say Trump has called our military “losers” whose willingness to put their lives on the line to defend the country he finds unfathomable. The reporting is solid, multi-sourced.

These are facts therefore.

But, on MSNBC, their White House stenographer, Kelly O’Donnell reported that Trump vigorously denied saying any such thing.

What are we, the news audience, to make of this? On the one hand — solid reporting of a newsworthy transgression by a president dedicated to committing transgressions. That’s also a president newsworthy because he lies about literally everything. On the other hand? Kelly O’Donnell insisting that Trump says it isn’t so. Zero context from Kelly about, you know, all the other stuff the rest of us know already.

Kelly O’Donnell wants us to accept what she’s telling us as truth — or a possible truth — that Donald Trump never said what all those witnesses said he said. In the face of the Truth, Kelly O’ wants us to believe that bullshit could still be true.

NBC News’ White House Reporter Kelly O’Donnell. A nice enough person no doubt, but an immoral journalist.

That is immoral. And that is the problem with far too much American journalism.

When we finally begin to put what’s left of America back together again, we need to launch an investigation into who or what started “both sides do it” journalism.

Trump couldn’t have done what he did to the country without the full-on complicity of nearly the entire Republican Party. And the GOP couldn’t have done what it did — allow Trump to take America to the brink of catastrophe — without the news media cutting them all the slack they needed to drive us here.

It’s understood that covering Trump is unlike covering anyone else. He’s deeply sociopathic, a narcissist’s narcissist, incapable of any sort of self analysis. He’s utterly shameless. And willfully cruel — even to his own family. He says anything that comes to his mind, no matter how outrageous and untrue. But then, none of that is a secret.

The press has reported it since he slithered down that golden escalator into the lobby of Trump Tower and insisted that “Mexicans are rapists”.

That, of course, is not true. Virtually nothing Trump says about himself is true — except perhaps that he has a thing for young girls. And his own daughter.

Trump wasn’t “kidding” when he said that, by the way. Trump can’t kid. He can’t joke about things because he has no sense of humor. When Trump does “make jokes”, he’s not actually “making jokes” — he’s bullying. The tell whether you have a sense of humor or not is “can you laugh at yourself?” If the answer is no — as it absolutely is with Trump — you have no sense of humor.

It is a false narrative to ever say Trump is joking therefore. But then, Trump is a collection of false narratives and, for some reason, our news media prefers false narratives to real, verifiable ones.

“Donald Trump, Successful Businessman” is verifiably untrue. Yet our news media chose to accept that false narrative without checking it out. Checking it out would have meant acting like a news organization and doing some scut work. Kind of like how Fusion GPS did after the republican-owned, Jeb Bush supporting Washington Free Beacon hired them to do oppo research on Donald Trump. Fusion was co-founded by two former Wall Street Journal reporters.

When he was hauled before the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017 — by Republicans desperate to undermine the integrity of the Steele Dossier — Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson testified that the first thing Fusion did upon being hired was their due diligence. They got their hands on every piece of publicly available material about Donald Trump. They haunted Amazon and physical book stores. They got ahold of magazine stories, videos, audio recordings. Everything Trump said in a public environment, everything anyone wrote about him.

What Fusion saw, Simpson testified, convinced them that Trump had, at the very least, used his (now bankrupt) Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. To violate the law.

Worst of all — Fusion saw that Trump was deeply compromised in ways that made him vulnerable to Russia. No one with half a brain thinks Russia wants anything good for us. Matter of fact, we already know that Putin has drawn up plans for cyber war against us. Gosh, if all the journalists working the Trump beat had been aggregating everything they know (from their own reporting) about Trump, he’d already by in federal prison.

We know Trump violates the rule of law and the Constitution because we’re watching him do it — in real time! It’s not as if finding Trump’s criminality requires much heavy lifting. FFS, just quote the guy and you’ve got him nailed. When journalists go deep into Trump, they always come up with treasure. The deeper they go, the more valuable the treasure. And yet, they demur… It boggles the mind.

It makes one wonder — why do they refuse to tell Trump’s story? Is it fear of losing access? Trump needs the press way more than the press needs Trump. He knows he can’t rely exclusively on Fox to spread his toxic messaging. That means the press doesn’t have to let Trump frame his story his way. THEY should never have let him do it to begin with. But, going forward, the news media could absolutely frame Trump correctly — based solely on the collective reporting of the American news media.

It’s baffling why a guy like Seth Abramson doesn’t get more news media attention. He’s the ultimate aggregator of the story the news media itself is trying to tell. If only they’d look at the perspective they themselves have created about Trump. Our starting point, every day wouldn’t be “Trump, the normal POTUS, running a normal re-election campaign”, it’d be “Trump, the corrupt, soulless, criminal, impeached president who committed treason to steal his first term in office and now wants to keep committing treason in order to remain in power forever because the moment he stops being POTUS, he’ll be indicted and sued out the wazoo”. That should be where all reporting about Trump BEGINS.

So — how does our news media heal itself?

First, it must open its eyes and truly look at itself. Regardless of whether “both sides do it” infected them in journalism school or later via contact with infected journalists, all journalists need to disavow “both sides do it”. They need to atone for equating skepticism — that thing all journalists are supposed to have in their tool kit — with cynicism. Cynicism assumes that everyone’s a rat bastard who deserves what they get.

That’s bullshit. Not everyone is motivated by self-interest. To brush everyone that way is despicable. Worse, it’s immoral.

Worst of all? It ain’t journalism — not the way journalism needs to be practiced going forward. From here on out, American journalism needs to stop equating political neutrality with neutrality. No one can remain neutral in the face of evil — even at its most banal. If, say, a reporter knows someone is doing something terrible in real time, they are obligated to stop it from happening if they at all possibly can.

Not as a journalist, AS A HUMAN BEING.

Journalists need to remember who and what they are first — before they take on the mantle of “reporter”. They’re humans living amongst other humans in (we hope) a civil society. They need to follow those rules first.

They’re also Americans — whose interests, while diverse, also hew to a particular set of rules. Citizenship doesn’t just come with benefits — voting, an American passport (for what that’s worth these days) — also it comes with responsibilities. Voting. But also an obligation to stand up for the rule of law. It can’t stand up for itself, you see.

We The People need to be the rule of law’s guardian. We need to defend it because that’s what our whole system of government is based on: a mutual understanding of the rules that keep us from killing each other. Journalists aren’t just another segment of We The People — which they are part of — they’re also charged with being the last check on power. That’s what it says in the Constitution; journalists are the only actual “job” enumerated in the Constitution. Journalists have a double obligation. But then, they chose journalism as much as it probably chose them.

Because we failed to prosecute or enforce the rule of law equally, the rule of law seems to have broken down. It hasn’t. We’re the thing that’s broken down. The moment we go back to enforcing the rule of law (this time properly)? It will begin to work for us. So long as we don’t extend any special treatment to anyone, just by enforcing the rule of law again, we’ll feel our sails begin to fill with forward momentum toward justice. If we can get there, not only will we fulfill our mutual obligation to give every single one of us the same chance to achieve our maximum potential, we’ll have helped America achieve the potential it aspired to back at its founding — minus all that white, Christian, European male Chauvinism that hogged all that potential for itself.

A Great Moral Reckoning is coming to America. It sure would be nice to see our news media actually riding that wave — atop its crest even. The way they’re going right now, they’ll be watching it from the shore.

Dear American News Media — Just Because Donald Trump Likes Running Down Rabbit Holes Doesn’t Mean You Have To Follow Him There

Remember this image — Trump going down that golden escalator on the day he formally declared?

What we didn’t realize at the time — though we should have — it wasn’t the lobby of Trump Tower he was descending into, it was a goddamned rabbit hole. The first sign we had was “Mexicans are rapists”. The second sign that we were in a rabbit hole? Within a matter of moments, we shrugged off “Mexicans are rapists” as just “how Donald Trump is”. Normal world? No. Rabbit hole.

Every bizarre thing Trump says is a rabbit hole unto itself. It’s not so much an intention on Trump’s part — to get the press to chase him down each and every rabbit hole — as a hard-wired behavior. Trump lies to everyone — his family included. So, Trump is always trying to get someone to follow him down a rabbit hole because, it’s just a fact, at any given moment, Trump is lying to a stupefying number of people.

That’s why liars love rabbit holes. There’s no logic inside a rabbit hole. The normal rules of cause and effect stop working — or seem to — because a rabbit hole isn’t reality; it’s an ice core drilled into bullshit thicker than the earth’s crust. It’s a place of Magical Thinking, nonsense and drivel.

One would think that, after a time or two, one would weary of chasing liars down rabbit holes. Yes, chasing liars down rabbit holes is part of what journalism is, but journalists also must maintain perspective. Once they’ve ascertained that a liar will lie to them, they’d be stupid — as a person and a journalist — to give the liar a fair hearing each and every time the liar opened his mouth.

But, that’s what our news media does. Rather than build a narrative that says “Donald Trump’s whole ‘strategy’ is to tie us in knots with his lying”, our news media continues to assume Trump could be telling the truth this time — as preposterous as his lie sounds.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/trump-s-plane-loaded-thugs-rumor-matches-months-old-facebook-n1238962

“Planes Loaded With Thugs” is a rabbit hole. FFS, it even sounds like a rabbit hole! Why would anyone with a degree from a J-School follow someone down it?

Oh, right — because that J-School degree came with a heavy dose of cynical (rather than skeptical) “Both Sides Do It” journalism where everyone’s the same (regardless of how different they are) — with the same motives, the same tactics, the same everything. If one person does things for political reasons then everyone does things for political reasons — even (apparently) if they don’t know it. Therefore, a Republican suppressing Democratic voters is political but so is the suppressed Democratic voter — attempting only to practice their right to vote by calling the Republican out for suppressing them.

No, the suppressed voter is NOT behaving politically, they’re a crime victim. And so are we all when 1) naked politics dictate actions and 2) the press can’t tell the difference.

The solution is shockingly easy. It’s one word: “No”. As in “No, we will not follow you down that rabbit hole. You come out — then we’ll talk”. Or, put more simply (if a little less elegantly): “Back it up or it’s bullshit”.

The news media doesn’t have to accept what Trump says THEN scurry around to fact check him. That’s their choice. It’s their habit now because they’ve been completely re-active here.

They could absolutely do this the other way round — and they should. When dealing with a known liar, you have to assume that they’re lying to you. Therefore you demand that they back up everything they say FIRST. “Put the receipts on the table”, point to the relevant facts (facts, not bullshit) THEN we’ll entertain having a discussion with you on this topic. Can’t back it up right off the bat? We’re not talking about it — we’re certainly not broadcasting it over our air to our NEWS audience.

If Donald Trump thought he had achieved dictator status, he wouldn’t be running for re-election. He’d have cancelled it already and made all his legal troubles go away.

He hasn’t. That means that Donald’s Republican friends also acknowledge that they can’t impose permanent minority rule on us quite yet. It seems we’re likely to protest. Loudly. And we outnumber them by a lot.

Authoritarians know one thing: their authoritarian rule probably won’t end with them dying peacefully in their beds, old and ready. It will come far sooner and be way more violent. That’s why authoritarians don’t ever do that “peaceful transfer of power” thing. They can’t. They’re criminals and losing power means legal problems, prison or worse.

That’s why Trump spews rabbit holes. Lying and obfuscation are the only path he has to “win” this election. But then, Trump didn’t actually “win” his last election. Cheating to win (especially when the cheating involves treason) isn’t actually winning — in the legal sense. Legally speaking, you can’t cheat to win. Hey — that’s just the rule of law talking, not me.

Trump is the first impeached POTUS to ever run for re-election — in the very election he was impeached over: because he cheated! You wouldn’t know that from the way our NEWS MEDIA reports this story. They still treat it like a normal election where previous polling describes what’s happening now. No, Steve Kornacki, you nitwit — it isn’t! Look, I’m sure Kornacki’s a lovely guy — and he does have real insight into his numbers. But he has no perspective whatsoever about the larger context his numbers take place inside of.

Steve NEVER accounts for Russia’s vote in 2016 for example. He NEVER accounts for the impact voter suppression (and probably vote flipping) could have had. Steve insists that his flawed numbers tell the story of what happened then (they absolutely do not!) and therefore what will happen now. No — they absolutely will not!

Oh, sure — there are conscientious journalists working this beat. At Kornacki’s very own MSNBC Nicolle Wallace, Rachel Maddow, Joy-Ann Reid, Ali Velshi consistently frame the story we’re all living in correctly — as a house completely afire. But the rest — the Kornackis, the Chuck Todds, the Kelly O’Donnells… what a bunch of amateurs.

You’d have to be an amateur to keep making the same rookie mistake, right? If you can’t figure out how NOT to chase a rabbit down an obvious rabbit hole then you should probably quit chasing rabbits. Give up on journalism. Try something you’re good at. Let’s hope there is something.