Would America Breaking Into Two Americas – Red V Blue – Really Be Such A Bad Thing?

America is what happens when you let sleeping dogs lie and one of those dogs is racism. America has always had a jones for mythologizing itself. That’s because we have no common, longstanding history to stand on as people from every other country did when they came here. Aside from the Native Americans (wiped out by European pathogens, not European culture, wisdom or superiority), there is no roots “American Culture” other than the one that’s slowly been forming over the last 240 years — proof positive that America really is the place where E Pluribus Unum. E Pluribus Unum is America’s genius. Out of many, one is American Exceptionalism. But, white people prefer “All men are created equal” because they know that the white, Christian, land-owning men who wrote or stood by those words didn’t mean them literally (except for the word “men” which they meant very literally). That’s the foundational bullshit upon which originalism sits its bloated, intellectually dishonest ass: America can only ever be the country a bunch of white racists imagined it to be.

That’s the choice facing us — as it always has been. Nothing has changed since the nation’s founding. We are a great idea as yet unrealized. That doesn’t mean we can’t fully realize every last bit of E Pluribus Unum’s genius — which would, all by itself, fix “All men are created equal” into “All people stand equal before the rule of law”. Our kneejerk response to America splitting up is “That would be the end of America!” And, yes, it would be. It would be the end of America as the world has known it for 240 years. But it wouldn’t be the end of America.

The overwhelming majority of Americans want what the Democratic Party is doing, not what the Republican Party is doing. If you put it directly to every single voting age American “Citizen, do you want America’s experiment in self-government to continue or do you want America to become a one party, permanent minority rule authoritarian state, how do YOU think they’d vote? The hard core of the hard core Trumpanistas — the ones driving this shit wagon off a cliff — peaked at 25% of Americans. Trump famously shrank the Republican base down to HIS base. There are plenty of Never Trumpers among Republicans. There’s no comparable thing on the Democratic side — no Project Lincolns or groups of Republicans buying ads to implore other Republicans to vote for Democrats.

The problem is, we’ve gotten into our heads (thanks, news media!) that there ARE two sets of facts — one Democrats believe and one Republicans believe. Those “alternative facts” Kellyanne Conway so cleverly pulled from her bony white ass aren’t facts, they’re pure bullshit. That’s the point! They’re the ALTERNATIVE to facts, not an alternative version of facts.. See the difference?

On cannot compromise with evil. Evil will not compromise with you so, if you compromise with evil, evil stays as it is while YOU end up becoming more evil. Same goes for racism, bigotry, misogyny, ignorance and greed. In America, one of our two political parties has in fact fully compromised with all those things.

Take away the stolen labor (slavery) that built the southern and then Confederate economy and you there never is a southern or Confederate economy. Had the money that built the sugar cane, cotton and tobacco businesses been forced to pay its labor fairly (versus zero — it’s entirely possible that a very different country and culture would have emerged, one where workers and work were respected. One where race was irrelevant to how one stood before the rule of law. But, once you get it in your head that white people are superior in all they do, you’ve set yourself up for failure.

America must prosecute Donald Trump if it’s to remain a viable country. We can’t let hostile foreign countries at cyber war with us choose your presidents (and we can’t let the presidents they choose go unpunished for being literal traitors and their presidencies re-evaluated in the light of their treason). To let such presidents & presidencies stand is to invite such foreign involvement in the future since there’s literally no punishment for doing it. Why WOULDN’T a hostile foreign government buy as many candidates as possible? Hey, if democracy’s for sale and there’s money to be made?

Did I mention that nothing good happens when you compromise with greed?

Even as the rats begin turning on each other — realizing the depth of their legal peril — the damage done will remain. Alas, we do have two sets of “facts” in play (a contradiction of terms if ever there was one). Having seized control of the local political machinery (credit where credit is due — unlike Democrats, Republicans ran for local offices because they saw how important local control was), Republicans will have the means to push their states and localities past the breaking point where the rule of law can survive all the corruption around it. The rule of law can’t enforce itself — and every time we enforce it unfairly or unequally, we hurt its integrity. White nationalism drove the Confederacy’s rise. It drives the Confederacy’s lingering, zombie-like presence. It will drive the formation of a Second Confederacy if only to have an entity to negotiate Trump’s release from a prison sentence of Life — for having committed treason.

America at war with itself is unhealthy both for us and for our standing in the world. The world needs us to regain our stature. We really do represent something special to the world — the ideal that hard work and determination can overcome social status in a world that wishes it could quit social status as a “thing”. The world needs our genius for reinvention. It needs our democratic spirit to shine brightly — as the beacon the world always saw in us. If the red states chose to take their ball and go home, I say we should let them!

First, we’d put it on a ballot. One simple question: “Do you want (fill in state’s name here) to be a “red state” from this day forth or a “blue state”?” Count the votes and color the state accordingly.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that red voters have their way in most of the south. They won’t get Virginia. Georgia’s also a question mark as is North Carolina. And I bet even states like Kentucky (where there are more registered Democrats than Republicans) poll differently than we expect. Oh — all those polls? We’re going the hand-marked paper route. There’s too much at stake here to let a bunch of Republican-run companies pretend that they’re anything but corrupt. So, let’s say that all the southern states from Texas to Florida, from the Gulf Coast up through the Midwest to Oklahoma, Kansas, parts of Nebraska, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Idaho, parts of Utah and Western Washington and Oregon — these places all insist on ending their relationship with the United States of America.

This will be awful for all the blue state Americans living in what are now very real “red” states. They’ll be stuck with a Sophie’s choice re their lives. I’d expect a progressive, forward-thinking Blue America to anticipate Red America’s brain drain. Being government-minded, Blue America will naturally plan for various contingencies while Red America thinks “planning” is what “elites” do. Blue America — recognizing how important immigration has always been to the American ideal will simply re-establish, re-state and re-emphasize this fact. Without racism and greed interrupting the conversation, America might finally be ale to have a meaningful dialogue about immigration.

Blue America, we hope, will be a consummate respecter of the rule of law. Break it, no matter who you are, and you must take responsibility for breaking it. Red America, on the other hand, won’t have the rule of law. It will have a grab bag of “make it up as you go along” rules that only apply when they apply and only apply to who they apply to. Being belligerent by nature, Red America will endlessly sabre rattle. They’ll threaten us relentlessly. But only for a while. One thing the rule of law does is organize a society. Since the Second Confederacy will have tossed out the US Constitution, they’ll plow along without one.

Even if Red America tried to fashion a new “improved” US Constitution, we can all imagine the anti-democratic screed a bunch of racist, woman-hating, corrupt scumbags would cobble together. Only hard core Trumpists will be given any decision-making power. There won’t be any “system” beyond corrupt patronage. For reference, see “The Trump White House”. That will be how the Second Confederacy “governs”. Because greed and corruption run everything, nothing will run.

I give Red America’s power grid six months before it begins to shut down. Infrastructure will never happen. Roads and bridges will fall apart, isolating more and more pockets of Red America from Red America. Food will grow scarce, forcing some of those pockets to reconsider their “Red v Blue” votes.

While Blue Americans will be well educated (getting either free state run college or tech training whichever suits them), have health CARE free of charge (well, they pay for it through their tax dollars), paid family leave for pregnancy and illness and a universal basic income that allows Blue Americans to pay their bills while waiting for the best possible job opportunities (the ones that pay bigger salaries and taxes back into the system), Red Americans will sit in the dark, starving. While Blue America thrives, Red America will sink further into misery, making third world countries look like first world countries.

That’s when Blue America will hear a knock at its back door. It’ll be Red America still wanting back in, filled with contrition. Or what they hope is contrition having long since lost the ability to be contrite.

Having raised two children, I’ve learned that the very best teacher our children can have is failure. Success teaches us only that our shit doesn’t smell. Well, that’s nonsense — our shit continues smelling even when we succeed. The second we start buying our own press, we’ve set ourselves up for failure. Better to allow one’s children to taste failure from time to time — and then make sure they see the opportunities failure presents that success never would have.

Yeah, a Second American Civil War would suck. It would be terribly destructive and generationally expensive. But, it might be our only way back to becoming the America the world needs us to be.

The America WE need us to be…

Trump Is Now Trying To Do To The Rest Of America What He Did To The GOP — Turn Us Into Him

Donald Trump is a virus in human form. That shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone.

Viruses are simple creatures — strands of RNA trying to make more of themselves. To do that, they need to invade a healthy cell — and use the cell as a kind of cheap sex hotel. The virus reproduces by turning our cells into it — and then using our cells to spew more of its Frankenstein RNA far and wide making us both sex hotel and pimp. No wonder we feel so tired when we get sick — we’re working our asses off at the cellular level. America feels similarly exhausted, doesn’t it? Like we’re fighting an actual disease in our body politic. I’m not sure where the metaphor ends or where the reality begins. Most of us thought (we hoped certainly) that Joe Biden winning the election (by seven million more popular votes no less!) would put this nightmare to bed. A strong showing by actual democracy, we assumed, would make the point strongly enough that most of the Republican Party would back snap to its senses and realize the terrible mistake they’d made climbing into bed with Trump.

That didn’t happen. It’s not going to because Donald Trump literally turned the GOP into him.

Trumpism hasn’t just replaced what we used to call “republicanism”, it’s superseded it. However… the GOP didn’t turn from gentlemen into bullies when they hitched their wagon to Trump’s. Gallant didn’t suddenly become Goofus. The Republican Party had been Goofus-ites long before they became Trumpites. Something about Trump made sense to them. They had always aspired to Trump’s level of sociopathic brashness but retail politics had always prevented them from actually trying it: what if they failed? Trumpism was a herd of elephants in a china shop. He approached retail politics the way a truck hijacker approaches a parked semi filled with high end goods.

Some quick history: in the Reagan Revolution’s dimming twilight — as Bill Clinton succeeded by demonstrating how Democrats could win elections by acting like Republicans — the Clinton-despising right wing money (they think of themselves as “Captains of Industry”!) took a good, hard look at its prospects for the future. Having turned the formerly progressive “Party of Lincoln” and Teddy Roosevelt into the Dixiecrats, the RW Money (always the “heart of darkness”) saw two things: 1) a rapidly diversifying America taking political power that had always been theirs, and 2) electoral extinction hurtling at them. The choice they faced was either share power with the rest of America (which, to them, meant having less money in their pockets cos paying more taxes), lose power entirely (a very real possibility if they ever began to share power), or seize power entirely — under false pretense — in order to hold onto power forever by shoving a state of permanent minority rule down America’s throat.

The Republican money chose option three.

By the time Donald Trump landed in their midst, the Republican Party was already deep into hijacking the judiciary — recognizing that lifetime judicial appointments were the key to stopping progress and progressive ideas dead. The RW Money wrote off controlling the House of Representatives (where they’re always running for re-election), assumed they’d always hold onto the heavily-tilted-toward-them Senate and understood that only extraordinary means (like Bush v Gore) could ever win a presidency; the popular vote being a lost cause, they focused on the Electoral College, America’s grand bargain with slavery. The federal bench — and its lifetime appointments — that was the RW Money’s chosen path forward to the fever dream of permanent minority rule.

From his first moments as Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has been the Right Wing Money’s golden boy, walking point on hijacking the judiciary. He denied Obama not only a hearing for Merrick Garland but the chance to fill more than a hundred open federal bench slots. When the majority of Americans voted for Barack Obama, we voted for the people he’d choose to fill these slots. Apparently even winning elections doesn’t have the same consequences for Democrats as they do for Republicans. Mitch McConnell has been a beacon of white corruption his entire political career.

Ah, but even Mitch’s deep corruption wasn’t absolute corruption. To get there, the GOP needed Donald Trump.

The Republicans knew when they made Trump their nominee in 2016 that Russia owned him outright. They talked about it amongst themselves! Out loud! It was recorded! As current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of GOP leaders on June 25, 2016, he said: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in the room reacted with shock or surprise. There was nervous laughter — that’s why McCarthy reiterated how serious he was: “Swear to God!” Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan (third in line to the presidency!) asserted himself as the adult in the room. He didn’t issue orders that someone competent immediately begin investigating these accusations. He didn’t say “Geez, Kev — that’s crazy! You seem genuine. We better call the FBI since hat’s what we all swore an oath to do if something like this ever happened” Nope. Instead, Paul Ryan committed them all to keep this secret secret. “That’s how we know we’re family” is how he put a bow on it.

When asked about this conversation a year later (as far as I can tell, it was the ONLY time anyone in that room has been questioned by journalists about this conversation), Kevin McCarthy insisted he was joking. Does it sound like he’s joking on the tape — or does it sound like he “might be” joking? Washington Post reporter Adam Entous didn’t seem to think so. Kevin McCarthy got laughs in the room! Nervous laughs! But, that wasn’t Kevin McCarthy killing the room, that was Kevin KILLING OUR DEMOCRACY. Alongside Donald Trump. And Russia.

This is a story about a desperate, white mans’ political party making one last gasp Hail Mary chuck toward the distant end zone (where, they hope, permanent minority rule will catch the ball and score the winning TD). The Republicans — already corrupt — hitched their wagon to Bigger Corruption. Ah, but not just “bigger corruption”, the Biggest Corruption: TREASON.

Destroying the country is bad. Doing it in concert with countries we know want to destroy us? Badder times a kajillion.

Our dimwitted press seems utterly incapable of aggregating the very story THEY have reported. Were they capable of adding information to a story and then building new parts of the story upon new information as they report it, we would be way further down the road to resolving Trumpism than we are. This emperor’s nakedness is his corruption. It’s there. It’s a fact of life. And every single bit of it is illegal. I wonder… does our “journalist class” think that a car stolen right in front of them in broad daylight is any less stolen than a car stolen somewhere else in the dead of night? We The People didn’t normalize “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing”, the news media did when they equated those two very real assaults on our senses and culture with the utter bullshit of “But her emails!” “That,” our press insisted, was “both sides doing it”.

Oy.

Already, Donald Trump, like a virus, was turning us into him. America’s politics have always been ugly. But, one side, by habit, has always accepted violence as a political weapon. And, going back to Watergate, one side has consistently seen skirting the law if not outright breaking it as an acceptable campaign strategy. The reason Democrats never ever feel compelled to cheat in order to win an election is because Democrats really and truly believe in governing and want to govern. They believe in the rule of law and in upholding their oath to defend the Constitution against ALL enemies foreign (and especially) domestic. One doesn’t suppress the opposition’s voters or gerrymander because one believes one’s ideas are better. Those are things one does when one has NO ideas and only power for its own sake matters.

The majority of Americans are very good people. We want our children to grow up with the brightest futures imaginable. That is, we want all of our children to grow up that way. What makes a Republican a Republican is their knee jerk disgust at the thought of using government to help ordinary Americans. Republicans see government as a giant cash machine for them and their friends.

Perversely, it will probably be the coronavirus pandemic that saved American democracy from Donald Trump. Trump’s relentless corruption dulled news media senses already dulled by “both sides do it” thinking. But even our feeble-minded press couldn’t figure out how to normalize all that death. Having to work remotely from their houses fixed a fair amount of that flippancy. Being cast out of their safe media bubble — forced to struggle with the very technology itself (rather than having “tech people” to do it) — for a little while there, it really humanized the news media. Getting their mojo (and their sets back) has had the opposite effect. They’ve stopped seeing crime committed in front of them as crime.

Plenty of Americans have been miles ahead of the news media in seeing how the dots connect in this story. We never put on a pair of reality blinders as they did. We saw Trump for the con man and criminal he is and wondered why journalists couldn’t see the same thing. That’s the call coming from inside the house again. Trump has already, to a large degree, turned the news media into him, too.

Every time the news media asks (having scratched their head over it for years) “Is Trump racist?”, that’s the press being Trumpified. Of COURSE he’s racist! Why the hell are you asking him? How the hell would Trump know if he’s racist? He has zero perspective. How about asking some of the victims of his racism (there are plenty!) if Trump’s racist; they know! Every time the news media asks “What’s the hold Trump has over the Republican Party?” they demonstrate their inability to tell this story. They’ve lost the thread completely.

Yeah, sure, Trump’s base scares them — as do the ups and downs of retail politics. They only like it when it’s fun! But the thing that scares them most about Trump and their ongoing involvement with him is how un-fun it can be when Trump’s madness is upon him and he’s looking for someone to blame. Then, all bets are off. Then it all comes down to the Trump gang’s willingness to keep that secret they all agreed to keep in June 2016 when Kevin McCarthy confirmed their wort suspicions. Trump had already set the hooks in deep.

They were Trumpified.

America won’t give Trump that choice. Even if he just outright takes it and forces America’s hand even further, Americans won’t give in to fascism the way Germans did. American diversity will stand in fascism’s way. There won’t be nearly enough manpower to contain all the woke opposition the Trumpublicans will encounter. And that is where it will end. The Republican Party — now entirely Trumpist — will crash and burn when treason finally gets slapped onto the table and we begin to prosecute it.

The rest of us will have to worry about whether there’s enough popcorn for the show.

The Terrible Truth Is: Donald Trump Knows Us Better Than We Know Ourselves

Let me be clear first: with one profound exception, Donald J Trump doesn’t “know” anything! His bloated, orange treason-head is utterly devoid of coherent thought beyond how to keep filling his greedy maw. All that cobwebby space between Trump’s ears and beneath that awful haircut is filled nearly to bursting with one piece of absolute certainty. Donald Trump knows who he is. He knows what he is and he loves that entity and knows how to sell it. And he knows that most of the rest of us — love him or hate him — will buy it. Though it pains me to say, the terrible truth is Trump is a better storyteller than I’ll ever be. I’ll certainly never have his audience. Trump has made the American news media his perpetual bitch and used them — he’s still using them — to tell a story that simply isn’t true. About Trump. About us. But, he knows because his own life proves it, the more he repeats his lies, the more they’ll become “the truth”. Whole religions have risen because demonstrable unreality replaced reality. You’ve got to have done some pretty effective storytelling to get hundreds of people not only to drink your Kool-Aid but feed it to their kids. That’s exactly what Trump is doing.

And we are going right along with him though we don’t have to.

Trump’s a bully. So’s Vladimir Putin (though Putin’s the bigger bully by far). The lessons learned on the schoolyard never get disproven. Bullies, if unchecked, run a sick, twisted show the rest of us have to perform in. Even if a bully’s actions don’t directly touch us, still, their impact on the schoolyard will ripple and those ripples will touch us eventually and then repeatedly. Around us,, some people cower because they naturally play beta to the bully’s alpha. But, others cower not so much at the bully’s power, but at the bully’s effect on the schoolyard. They buy into the bully’s power over the bullied and cynically begin to believe that’s just how it is. The bully will win because (they now see) bullies always win.

Except that’s not true. Most bullies, in the end, lose. In time, another bully rises up and kills them. That’s the tingle at the back of every bully’s neck that never goes away. It’s Tony Soprano always having to wonder if one of his fellow diners in the restaurant he’s eating in plans to bust a cap in his head before he’s finished his pasta. Bullies know that there’s always another bully out there, gunning for them. They know that though most of us will cower, some of us will come for them instead. They may not know us intimately, but they do know how we’ll react to them. They calculate their storytelling accordingly.

Putin’s a spy by training. Spycraft, by its nature, is all about storytelling. Sometimes to explain the truth and sometimes to make the truth unknowable. It all depends on what the spy needs to accomplish. The Hitlers of the world know how deeply tribal hate runs inside most of us; it certainly runs deep inside of them. Being mostly lizard brain themselves they grasp how easy it is to trigger other lizard brains emotionally and then to action. It’s all about fear. Authoritarians and fascists tell and sell “fear stories” to the fearful. They understand that, regardless of their own complicity in their problems, the fearful are much happier blaming their misery on “the other”. Self analysis is hard even for those willing to do it. For those unwilling to do that hard work? They’ve walked into the marketplace of hateful bullshit with their credit card in hand and no limit on the card.

The Trump’s of the world see the rubes coming. Whatever their grievances are — justified or unjustified — Trump plays to them. Magnifies them and turns them into “a cause”. And then he turns to the news media and sells them a story, too — that what he’s doing, ugly as it is, is legit. That’s how things like “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” get normalized and legitimized. Things presidential contenders could NEVER say out loud and get away with — well, now they CAN say those things out loud — and get away with them. They know that we’ll buy “But, her emails!” too — because we’ll buy everything! And we’ll equate “But her emails” with “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing”, thus equating Trump’s very real racism and rape mentality with entirely unreal obfuscation.

Hey, “both sides do it, right?”

Despite the fact that the MAJORITY of Americans don’t want what Donald Trump or the GOP want (we voted against it FFS!), America teeters on the precipice of authoritarianism. How is that even possible?

Simple: because Trump knows us better than we know ourselves.

Despite the fact that the majority of Americans want what Joe Biden wants, want what’s in his Build Back Better package, our news media has us convinced that we might not get those things anyway because the Democrats can’t get their shit together. That’s a piece of storytelling all by itself. The MAJORITY of the Democratic caucus supports what Biden and the Progressive wing wants to do — because their constituents want it too. Ask Joe Manchin’s actual constituents policy by policy if they want what Joe Manchin is negotiating away. Then ask — since he’s not doing it for the voters in West Virginia, on whose behalf IS he negotiating? Then ask if we were talking about a shootin’ war somewhere versus a “war on poverty in America” would we even be having this conversation? We wouldn’t. Regardless of its rightness or wrongness, we always have money for war and never a question of “how’re we gonna pay for this?”

That’s Republican storytelling working its dark magic.

But, here’s where their storytelling magic and its debilitating effect on us suddenly runs out. What Trump and the GOP are counting on — America going along with their criminal hijacking of our democracy (that their version of our story is THE story) — won’t work because it counts on a character detail that simply isn’t present in America’s story. Homorgenous cultures like Germany’s circa 1900 (or any of the European nations and their cultures) were the product of at least a thousand years of different tribes from the same place slowly forging into (in Germany’s case) one German-identifying “nation”. Hitler rose to power despite the majority of Germans hating him (hell,, Hitler was Austrian, not German!). In part, Hitler succeeded through sheer schoolyard bullying. But, in much larger part, Hitler succeeded because he understood the schoolyard and understood how to play the schoolyard’s commonality — nationality — to his advantage. The German tribe was quite large at that point — and very, very “German” even if their passport wasn’t.

Down deep, even the “Good Germans” felt more German than good.

Nationality is key to “national socialism”. America’s sense of “nationality” is entirely different from Nazi Germany’s. Oh, yeah, sure — a third of Americans DO see nationality the way the most fascist Germans did. But they’re only a third — and that’s at best. Feeling white superiority is one thing. Acting upon it is something else entirely. The bottom line on bullies is they’re cowards. If they don’t trust the group will be there to hold their victim down so they can beat that victim? They’re keeping their hands in their pockets. White supremacists know down deep that they and everyone like them are cowards. If they had an ounce of real confidence, they wouldn’t worry about being replaced. They’d go out and compete like big boys and girls.

Should America stumble into its worst case scenario — and the Trumpist Party (that’s who and what the Republicans are now and will be forevermore) literally seizes power (by whatever means which is exactly how they’ll accomplish it) — their moment of triumph will evaporate right before their eyes because they won’t get the willing compliance of a “nation with a common history”. Those white nationalist tribalists will, instead, find staring back at them (and not up at them) the faces of every other tribe — all the ones they shat on, enslaved, denied rights to, abused or thought could never, ever challenge them for supremacy. Not a one of those faces will be compliant.

Or going along to get along because they all know where that leads.

If there is to be a Second American Civil War, it won’t go the way the people who want that war to happen think it will. Witness the number of Americans who won’t go back to work because, frankly, who wants to be a slave? That’s what the corrupt, right wing money has done to our economy — turned most of us into economic slaves, chained to a system we can’t escape and so we go along to get along. Or, at least, we used to.

The Second Civil War won’t be fought with guns. Oh, the right wing will fight that way. They’ll use violence because violence is literally all they have. But, arrayed against them will be the intellectual might of E Pluribus Unum. America’s diversity is what makes it truly exceptional. And America’s diversity will not kowtow to racism, bigotry, misogyny or treason. America’s diverse citizens believe wholeheartedly in America even if those who think they’re “more American” don’t. The many tribes that make up “America” will stand against (and will defeat) the one tribe that stands with Donald Trump.

Okay… I was wrong. Donald Trump does NOT know us better than we know ourselves. Trump’s fatal flaw is what I thought his strength was — he knows himself. He knows only himself and, because he’s counting on “himself” to be there at the moment of truth, he’ll fail.

And that’s because he doesn’t know us. He has no idea who we are and doesn’t care. Same goes for everyone who still puts that “R” next to their names (important life hack, Republicans: if you stand with a monster — even though it’s just because that’s where the money is — YOU are a monster). None of them know or appreciate yet who we are and why we will NEVER let them get away with this. Neither the villains of the piece nor our professional storytellers (the news media) get who we are or what that means about our reactions.

Let’s please, please, PLEASE keep reminding ourselves that WE do.

When Are We Going To Stop Being So Permissive To Criminals And Are We Being So Permissive Because Those Criminals Are White?

On January 20, 2021, at noon, Donald Trump ceased being POTUS and reverted to being Citizen Donald: former president with a few perks-of-the-office still but, in most other ways, just another American beholden to the rule of law. So, when Trump told those subpoenaed by the January 6 Commission to ignore those subpoenas, he was openly violating the law. In fact, each time Trump opens his mouth — like he did again at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines this weekend — and repeats those instructions while also continuing to openly support insurrection — that’s also a crime. When members of Congress stand with and support insurrectionists, they BECOME insurrectionists themselves because that’s how conspiracy to commit a crime works — especially when members of Congress openly associated with those insurrectionists in advance of the insurrection. It’s a crime to assault people just because you disagree with them. It’s a crime to threaten them — especially with a weapon. It’s a crime to co-conspire with hostile foreign governments to undermine America’s government.

At least, in theory, all those things are crimes. Apparently, they stop being crimes when rich, white Christian men are the perps.

First question: WHO is being permissive here? Who appears willing to accept terrible behavior by one group versus far less terrible behavior by other groups? For sure, Black people aren’t being permissive toward white crime, neither are brown nor Asian American nor Native American nor anyone LGBTQ. That leaves white people — and the people who speak for white people, our news media. If outraged citizens on the street, witnessing George Floyd’s murder, hadn’t videoed the event with their phones, we wouldn’t know about it. Same as we don’t know about most of the 6,400 other people police have killed or fatally shot since 2015. This doesn’t happen in other countries. It doesn’t make us “exceptional”.

America remains a great idea poorly executed because the white, land-owning Christian men who drew up America’s founding documents couldn’t overcome their own native racism. And, yeah — they were racists. They proved it by agreeing that “All men are created equal” so long as “All men” is “white, Christian, land-owners who also are MEN”. No one else qualifies as “equal”. Well, that idea is demonstrably false. The same men also put “E Pluribus Unum” on our Great Seal. “Out of many, one”. The Great Seal doesn’t qualify who the “many” are. That’s because E Pluribus Unum captures more fully America’s Secret Sauce (what makes America truly exceptional) far better than “All men are created equal” does.

The playing field has never truly been level here in America. That’s not a reflection on the strength of our founding idea, it’s a reflection of our not having gotten the hang of democracy yet. It really is a challenging form of government, being all DIY. As Churchill put it, “…democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms…”. Democracy is the best of a bad lot, in part, because (as Ben Franklin pointed out) it demands so much hard work to maintain a republic. It demands that its citizens participate — not an easy ask. In the whole history of humankind, self-government is a very, very recent innovation. Kowtowing like betas to an all powerful, divinely-connected alpha dog who claims a superior blood line is much more our habit. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And people claiming divine authority for their power are the MOST corrupt. They’re also the most full of shit.

That’s not a coincidence.

Here in America, white people gained an unfair advantage at the start that — understandably — they are loathe to let go of. But, what originalism really is saying is “Hey, we wrote the rules at the start — with a heavy bias toward ourselves — but that’s just how it is and how the country must always be”. White people also rationalized a legitimacy for enslaving people. America’s economic base, in the beginning, was agricultural. We could easily grow vast amounts of sugar cane, cotton and tobacco. The only problem with those particular crops though is the labor intensity demanded to grow and harvest them. If one had to pay a fair market wage to the labor needed — and one needed lots of labor prior to industrial farming techniques — then the profit margins would shrink radically; they might even vanish altogether. The decision to use slaves to perform that labor solved that problem by making the labor costs virtually zero.

At its bottommost line, slavery is stolen labor. America made stolen labor legal — so long as the laborer was Black. We also imposed a variation of slavery on Mexican farm laborers and Chinese railroad workers. Slave wages are designed to make economic independence impossible, keeping the worker enslaved to his or her job. An unhappy worker tied to a job because it has health INSURANCE (not health care — ours isn’t a health CARE system, it’s a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing!) that they literally can’t live without is not much better than a slave tied to a master because otherwise they’d have nowhere to sleep, no clothes, no food. Policing in America began as an adjunct to slavery. Originally, cops were slave hunters.

In other words, even the basis for law and order in America harkens back to our racist flaws and the maintenance of a corrupt, brutal economic system based on only one group in America actually having any rights to speak of. We walk in the door making life easier for white people and harder for everyone else. Crystal Mason is doing five years in a Texas prison for voting in 2016 though she was still on parole. Republican (and white guy) Edward Snodgrass forged his dead father’s signature on an absentee ballot — then voted himself — in the 2020 election. Snodgrass is a local politician in Porter Township where he lives. Busted, Snodgrass pled guilty to a reduced charge of falsification and received a sentence of three days in jail and a $500 fine!

Hmmmmmm… doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?

When Trump said, during his 2016 campaign, that he could shoot one of his followers on 5th Avenue and not suffer any consequences, he was horrifyingly right. Trump didn’t use a bullet to take out his followers, he used the coronavirus and lies. Trump understood — having lived the life of a criminal — that being rich, white and Christian was already a kind of “Get Out of Jail Free” card. He also understood that by corrupting others, the potency of that “Get Out Of Jail” card increases exponentially.

All abuses of power are corrupt. Our permissiveness toward white people when they act criminally is corruption on the hoof. That, too, is illegal. If we really want to stop this merry-go-round from hell, we need to stop it for good. We need to call corruption what it is and criminals what they are. If we just reframe our story, we’ll suddenly understand exactly what the story really is. And we’ll stop treating Republicans like honest actors, our partners-in-governance and start treating them like the criminals they are.

Basic Math: Republicans + Power = Corruption

Fascism succeeds, in part, by obfuscation. They deliberately undermine our collective faith in “the truth”, our sense of security and our future then insist they’re the only ones who can fix the mess (they made). But, as chaotic and complicated as this faux-world seems, it isn’t. Republicans are simple creatures motivated by simple things: greed & racism. They saw demographic obliteration in their future and decided to obliterate our democracy instead. The GOP has crossed the Rubicon — from political party to criminal enterprise. Though our news media refuses to see it (they still think both sides “do it”), when people like GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy get up on their hind legs, they’re nothing like “honest actors” having never been honest actors. For reference — Kevin’s known from the get-go that Donald Trump was compromised by Russian money; he said so out loud on June 25, 2016 as he entered a meeting of Republican leaders to discuss the man they were about to nominate as their presidential candidate. “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” Kevin said, “Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”

The math should have worked this way: Stunning Accusation + Roomful Of People = Outrage At The Accusation. Or, Stunning Accusation + Roomful Of People = Demands To Know Where Kevin Got This Idea. Or Stunning Accusation + Roomful Of People = Phone Call To The FBI. It didn’t of course. If anything, the math did the exact opposite. The Republicans who knew or suspected that Trump was OWNED (that’s what being financially compromised means) by a hostile foreign government engaged in cyber war with us chose — per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan to keep this terrible secret a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family,” is how he put a bow on it.

Our story is so much simpler than we’ve been led to believe it is. Hey — math’s a bitch to lots of us. But, when you simplify the math, even the most math-averse among us (me) can see math’s beauty — its simplicity. Math can speak truth like few languages can. For instance: Republicans + Power = Corruption.

Some other examples —

Journalism – Perspective = “Both Sides Do It”

Horrible Voice + Horrible Face + Horrible Person = Ted Cruz

(The Rule Of Law – Equal Enforcement) + (The Constitution – Checks And Balances) + Originalism X (Gerrymandering + Voter Suppression) = Permanent Minority Rule

(Russian Money + Russian Cyber War + Russian Kompromat) + (The GOP + Donald Trump) X (“Mexicans Are Rapists” + “Pussy Grabbing” – “But Her Emails”) + A Cynical News Media That Thinks Both Sides Do It = Election 2016

Any Russian Involvement In Election 2016 = A Fraudulent Election

Donald Trump’s Relationship With Russia + Bill Barr – The Mueller Report = Republican Obstruction Of Justice

(Racism + Greed) – Patriotism + Russian Kompromat = Treason

The thing about math that math averse people like me have a hard time with is the idea that math has one answer. And yet, where Republicans are concerned, I now see the beauty in the math. It’s as basic as one plus one equals two. Republicans Plus Power Equals Disaster For America. And just like all other math, it’s true today — as it was true yesterday — and as it will be true tomorrow. Nothing about Republicans or Republicanism adds up to anything except corruption.

How Criminals (And Republicans) Think

Inside every criminal’s head is a scale upon which they balance their criminal behavior’s risks versus that behavior’s rewards. If the risk of stealing a six pack of beer is a decade plus in prison — and the risk of getting caught is high, it’s probably not worth it. But, if the risk of stealing a whole country is that two thirds of the people will despise you while cowering in your presence? No big deal. That’s the calculus that criminals and Republicans make as they contemplate the actions that make them criminals and Republicans. The only thing that will stop a career criminal from continuing in his career is law enforcement stopping him. That’s why one of the first things career criminals do is compromise law enforcement in any way they can. Mafia dons buy cops. Dark Money buys politicians. The point of the exercise is corruption. Corruption itself becomes a kind of currency that criminals either pass around like dividends to their pals or wield like a cudgel to keep the less “dedicated” to crime in line.

Because our news media still insists — despite the mountain ranges of information stacked in front of them — that “both sides do it”, they see Republicans as honest actors. This misrepresents them horribly. Even worse, by giving all information equal weight and validity (since it’s not up to the journalist to judge anything), in their reporting, these journalists knowingly equate bullshit and truth while refusing to qualify which is which. Back before the news media was shamed into refusing climate deniers any more air time, they regularly gave climate deniers all the air time they wanted! This happened regularly on NEWS channels and shows: News show host would set up a debate between a climate scientist or believer in climate science like Bill Nye and a climate science denier like David LeGates or Marc Morano (formerly Rush Limbaugh’s “Man in Washington”).

Notice how a NEWS channel set up its shot here? It’s a “50-50” image. In other words, both people — both arguments — get 50% of the screen. In visual language (which most of us understand quite implicitly), CNN is saying: “these two arguments have equal validity to them”. That’s not even remotely true but the visual image tells us it is. The same applies to when any news panel includes at least one person there specifically to lie. If the show presenting the news panel doesn’t make that fact explicit then that fact doesn’t exist for the news audience. And the truth-speaking panelists will find their truths being compared equally to the liars lies.

It gets worse! The “both sides do it” spewing news media — having equated truth and bullshit — set themselves to the task of “analyzing” what’s happening. With their skewed view of the universe and all the people in it, they attempt to characterize the players so as to explain them. But the lens these “journalists” use is their own experience, their own way of thinking. Problem is THEY’RE NOT CRIMINALS and don’t think like criminals. They end up normalizing criminal behavior by recasting it as political.

Or — as so many American journalists insist on doing — they put themselves inside Donald Trump’s mind and assume Trump acts like they act and thinks like they think. That’s how we ended up with a White House Press Corps that regularly gawped at Trump as he openly lied to them. They ascribed political motives to criminal behavior — then reported the whole thing through the non-criminal prism inside their own heads. Trump’s hold over the GOP became entirely political: it’s all about Trump’s ravenous base. Yes, that’s true — to a degree. But it’s not the real leverage Trump’s held the whole time.

Crime is. Criminals understand that the more people they compromise (including law enforcement), the harder it will be for anyone to stop them. Another tactic criminals use is normalization. If everybody’s doing what they’re doing, can it really be a crime? And (as with Trump), if you do your “criming” out in the open where everyone (the press included) cans see it, can that really be a crime? The answer to both questions is hell yes. Crime never stops being crime (the statute of limitations be damned!)

If I attempt to deny another American their right to vote — in any way — I am violating their rights and committing a crime. If I do it because I’m racist, that’s a whole other level of crime. And it is a crime to be actively racist in an E Pluribus Unum country.

White America wants the rest of America to overlook two hundred-forty years of consistently terrible behavior toward non-white Americans (or non-whites who, for whatever reason, came to live and “work” in America). They want every other American to forget about slavery or every deal our government made and then broke with a Native American tribe. They want the rest of us to deny the long term impacts of white racism on its victims (including the very real, generational impacts on its victims’ wealth). And then our news media gets all warm and cuddly with these racists by refusing to call out their racism. They go and ask the racists “Hey — you’re not a racist, are you?” And then they shrug inconclusively when the racist — news cameras in their face — insists “Me? No! I’m not a racist!”

Trust me, CNN, MSNBC, the rest of the news media — when Donald Trump says “I’m the least racist person in the world”, that’s bullshit. The last person you should ever ask “are you racist” is a racist since they have the least perspective on the subject. Same goes for the racist’s racist buddies. They can’t tell you if their friend’s a racist because THEY’RE so damned racist. The ONLY people who can honestly and accurately tell you if anyone is racist is that racist’s victim. They KNOW when someone’s being racist toward them. They’ve had a lifetime of experience with it, don’t forget. Their racism “spidey senses” are always cranked up to eleven.

Ah, but “both sides do it” says that a racist remark and the racist victim’s response are equally valid.

Racists are racist in everything they do. Literally. Same goes for rapists, by the way. When your view of the world allows you the freedom to infringe on other peoples’ personal space at will and without consequence — as a matter of personal power — you will act that way toward others until someone with more power rises up to stop you. Republicans? Exactly the same.

Donald Trump has been a criminal his entire life. Just because he’s never been prosecuted — that’s a technicality, really. That’s us failing to do right by ourselves and remind criminals their crimes are unacceptable to the rest of us and will be treated accordingly. The rule of law’s a wonderful thing but it can’t enforce itself. That’s our obligation. And it’s not hyperbole to say that Donald Trump is a criminal and that plenty of people have always known or suspected this to be true.

Case in point — as I’ve repeated in this space often — June 25, 2017, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a GOP leadership meeting to talk about their soon-to-be presidential nominee. He says — out loud (it was recorded and the recording played later for Washington Post reporter Adam Entous) “There are two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Even in the context of the time — without four years of treasonous behavior toward Vladimir Putin — this is treasonous! One of the head muckety-mucks of the Republican Party is telling other muckety-mucks that their candidate to be POTUS is compromised by a hostile foreign government — AND THEY KNOW IT! And they — per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — are going to keep this criminal secret a secret because “that’s how we know we’re a family”.

The instant you become a co-conspirator to commit treason — as everyone in that room did — you become a criminal! At the very least, you should become someone our news media (who reported the crime) suspects could be a criminal. But not just a “criminal”, a traitor. To report such a person as if there was no possibility they were a criminal or a traitor misreports them entirely and can’t possibly hope to report them accurately since it’s already detached their true motives from the story. Suddenly, treasonous behavior becomes something less — far less. It stops being a crime, for one thing.

And just like that, treason becomes normalized. Criminal behavior becomes political behavior. Crime becomes acceptable to the people who are supposed to be our last backstop against the abuse of political power. Nothing good can come of that — as our current situation proves.

Texas + Zero Gun Laws = Death, Death & More Death

Perversely, one of the advantages of America’s students having to study from home during the pandemic was that it radically reduced the number of school shootings. There was plenty of gun violence outside those empty schools to make up for it though — a whole other problem — but, thankfully, school shootings were zero for an extended period: bravo, America! The rest of the civilized world understands what America refuses to: the proliferation of guns across a society endangers every bit of that society. We’re the data set that proves their point! Alas, there’s little one can do to soothe a lizard brain aflame with the fear of mortal peril because Black and brown people live in America. Let’s be honest — every single one of America’s gun laws (like policing itself here in America) has its roots in racism or slavery. Racist paranoia is the organizing principle undergirding Texas’ new gun law — the one that makes it even easier to get a gun, carry a gun in the open and use that gun — as an 18 year old high school student did today in Arlington, Texas when he opened fire at Timberview HS, (so far) injuring four people.

https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/lockdown-issued-at-timberview-high-in-arlington-possible-shots-fired/2759727/

Even as our news media trips over itself to cover yet another school shooting, they can’t make the leap to “why” it keeps happening. It’s painful watching our news media scratch its head over yet another seemingly intractable American problem, having framed the story for so long from the NRA’s perverse point of view. Australia used to be almost as gun-mad as America. But, on Sunday April 28, 1996, lone gunman Martin Bryant — armed with two semi-automatic assault rifles — killed 35 people and wounded another 23 in Port Arthur, Tasmania, a tourist town. Within two weeks, Australia — its six states completely in agreement — tightened its gun laws, banning semi-automatic rifles and shotguns outright. They also “put more hurdles between prospective gun owners and their weapons.” Want a gun in Australia? Prepare for a 28 day waiting period, a thorough background check and a “requirement to present a ‘justifiable reason’ to own a gun”.

The result? “The number of Australia’s mass shootings dropped from 11 in the decade before 1996, to one in the years since – the murder-suicide of a family of five in New South Wales in 2014.” There’s icing on that “reduced gun violence cake”: The overall rates of homicide and suicide also fell significantly after 1996. There are still illegal guns in Australia; it’s a problem they know hasn’t gone away entirely. But they’ve demonstrated the flip side of what we’ve demonstrated: fewer guns where they don’t belong equals less gun violence equals less death.

In other words, one plus one equals two.

I’m old enough to remember when the NRA was a “gun safety” organization. That was before they became the gun manufacturer’s lobby, determined to get richer than they already were by stoking white peoples’ fear of Black people. When dangerous muttonheads like these losers leave their caves, armed to the teeth, who out here are they so afraid of? Do they honestly think a situation could suddenly happen where they’re going to be the thing that prevents a tragedy? They ARE the tragedy — walking around, just waiting to happen!

Every gun — every single one — is an accident or a tragedy that just hasn’t happened yet. Guns are all “death machines”, designed from the inside out to send a piece of hot metal hurtling through the air at a live target, the point being to kill that live target dead. Every part of the gun is designed to facilitate that. Sure, you can fire your gun at a non-living target but that wasn’t the point. Neither is a gun sitting in a gun locker. While that’s a responsible thing to do with a gun that you’re not using, you’re doing something with the gun that it wasn’t designed to do — sit. Guns are death machines. For starters, as they do in Australia, we need to ask: “for what purpose, citizen, do YOU need a “death machine’?”

“Because you’re paranoid” won’t cut it as an answer.

Our biggest problem with guns and our gun laws is that we’ve never been honest about guns or our gun laws. Hell, we’re living inside the NRA’s linguistic bamboozlement that turned a “well-regulated militia” choosing which citizens get to “keep and bear” arms (not OWN them — and “own” was a perfectly good word back then) into a “Have All The Guns Ya Want!” free for all. As written, the Second Amendment was about gun control; it’s right there in the words, no making shit up required.

Conservatives believe feelings are more important than facts. They’re paranoia trumps any facts you can throw at them abut violence. And just like they couldn’t care less if their own children succumb to and die from Covid-19, conservatives apparently couldn’t care less if their children end up in a stack of bodies recovered from a school shooting.

We used to take comfort from the fact that what stopped Russia and America from nuking each other and the planet into a permanent winter was the doctrine of mutually assured destruction. Since we both feared the bleak outcome of one side pulling the trigger, both sides agreed in advance not to pull the trigger. The Republican Party is a death cult on a suicide mission — permanent minority rule or bust. We can’t rely on them for anything good or positive. Gun laws epitomize the Republican way of seeing things. From their vantage point? The more death, destruction and chaos we experience, the more they like it.

Okay – What IF America Split Into Two Countries?

In a very real sense, we’re still fighting the Civil War. And, we fought the Civil War because, though we aspired to E Pluribus Unum, we tripped over “All men are created equal” because we didn’t mean “all” men and by “men”, we meant only “men”. America has always been a great idea poorly executed. Or… “not yet executed to its intended specs”. Let’s put it that way. “America is a country still aspiring to reach the potential of its aspirations”. And those aspirations can (and, I believe, will) be achieved if we simply hew to our own founding principle: through many, one.

This, really, is what America is now fighting about. Donald Trump’s presidency — the circumstances that made him president (they don’t include freely or fairly winning election) — exposed the Republican Party for the anti-democratic, permanent minority rule desiring thugs Newt Gingrich dreamed they’d be. In Germany, after WWII, it was against the law to display swastikas or any Nazi symbols because of what they represented. In America, OTOH, we never stopped glorifying treason: that’s what a confederate flag is — a symbol of treason. This is what happens when you compromise with evil (as America did when it cut a deal with slavery).

Our current chaos flows directly from the gross mistake of writing “All men are created equal” but only meaning “white, Christian, land-owning men”. Also, this is what happens when one side loses the war but wins the peace that follows. Whatever the Confederacy lost at Appomattox Courthouse, it regained not very long afterwards: they destroyed Reconstruction (and any chance America had to right a terrible wrong, level its racial playing field and demonstrate just how great an E Pluribus Unum America could be) and stole the narrative. A war exclusively about slavery (that’s according to every seceding state’s secession docs) was repackaged as a war about “states’ rights” — as if the Confederacy was actually fighting a “good fight” about freedom and liberty.

Not only was the Confederacy racist, it was incredibly full of shit.

So is that portion of America that still supports what the Confederacy was after. But then, it’s just conservative standard operating procedure to bullshit everyone including yourself. Right now, red states are howling how much they want to secede from the blue states. That’s so sweet: a bunch of impoverished red necks who can’t take their toothless maws from the federal money teat thinking they could do anything on their own other than fail. Okay, white supremacists — have at it! Show us what a white supremacist super state looks like here in reality!

Confederacy, The Sequel will probably include all the confederate states minus Virginia but plus Oklahoma and probably plus Missouri too. It will also include all those vast tracts of red real estate out west. Idaho, Wyoming, most of Montana and western Washington and Oregon. Far Northern California too perhaps. At first.

Even as the red-hatted yahoos fill the streets with drunken brawling and celebrations, a brain drain will begin. By the same token, plenty of blue state ultra conservatives also might look red-ward. Their blue dollars will be worth far more in those less economically dynamic red states where real estate and life are cheaper. The educated will abandon red America in droves. So, too, will the innovators and problem solvers. Women in those states unfortunately will face some hard choices that dictate staying versus going. Those that go will thrive while those that stay behind will sink deeper and deeper into despair, drudgery and depression because they live in a country that hates them — hates everyone not white, Christian, male and land-owning..

All Red America — The Confederacy, Part Two — can ever be is a poor man’s Gilead.

Being racist and paranoid and short-sighted, Red America will weapon up, their lizard brains aflame with bunker mentality run amok. They’ll see the “same-ification” of their country as success. The white faces all around them will reassure them that they really have achieved the white homeland of their wettest wet dreams. But, within weeks the brain drain will hit them as systems malfunction or break down and the few people capable of fixing anything get stretched thin. The power grid will go first, then other big pieces of infrastructure. Remember — the red states have always relied on the blue states to pay for them. Take the blue states and their money out of the equation and the red states will find themselves broke at the start. Failing roads and bridges on top of unreliable electricity will screw with Red America’s already sketchy supply chain.

Next thing ya know, Red State Americans aren’t just sitting in the dark, they’re hungry, too. And thirsty because the water systems also need maintenance and improvement. And — because their sewage systems also aren’t performing as needed anymore — Red State Americans are now swimming in shit. Still choosing “freedom” over vaccination or mask mandates, variants that, at most, inconvenience Blue State America kill Red State Americans by the refrigerated truckload. Because they refuse any sort of vaccination (or health care) protocols, Red State Americans aren’t allowed to travel to Blue State America — or anywhere for that matter.

Their isolation will increase their paranoia. They’ll saber rattle that much more but with that much less gravity (though they’ll still be Kim Yong-Un style dangerous). The divide between haves and have-nots will expand in Red State America. What remained of the middle class will finally collapse. Ninety-nine percent of Red State Americans will be poorer than they are now while the richer-than-rich one percent get richer still.

The rest of the world will view Red State America suspiciously because Red State America is so corrupt. Corruption will be why so little international money lands in Red State America. Also — the leadership of Red State America will be outlaws from justice in Blue State America where they’ve all been tried for election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason in abstentia. Red State leaders will be as welcome in Blue State America as Jefferson Davis.

Before long, Red State Americans will march toward their border crossings with Blue State America with the same grim determination that Central Americans and Haitians do today. Like those poor souls, Red State Americans will have literally nothing left to lose.

Meanwhile, across the border in Blue State America — where Joe Biden’s agenda got fully funded in large part because the moderates suddenly had nothing corrupt to compromise with — not only are Blue State Americans happier and healthier than Red State Americans, they’re living longer and they’re all wealthier. Every American will have full health CARE (not the health insurance we mistake for health care), free pre-school and community college. Affordable (if not entirely free) public colleges and universities will produce diverse problem solvers as will trade schools and other skunkworks that innovate away our challenges. Blue State Americans will see both the benefits of their citizenship but also its responsibilities — which they will embrace as a matter of civic pride and patriotism.

Give these two countries a decade — just to drive the point home — and two very different-looking countries will result. One will be a lot closer to realizing the full potential of our experiment in self-governance. The other will be an authoritarian shithole with a giant, fake-gold “T” over it. .

Dear American News Media: I’m Just Here To Help!

Dear American News Media:

I’ve had a change of heart about you and me and our relationship. After using this space to criticize you relentlessly, I’ve decided to “go positive” toward you instead. Pointing out your many flaws (like when you fawn over power instead of interrogating it or cynically insist that “both sides do it”) has gotten me nowhere with you. You still fawn over power when you should be skeptical of it (and that’s because you’ve mistaken cynicism for skepticism) same as you did during the George W. Bush presidency. It’s strange though how that cynicism gets applied the moment Democrats assume the mantle of power. But, there I go again, criticizing when I mean to be giving positive re-enforcement. I see now this is going to be a harder habit to break than I realized.

Most of my notes here apply to MSNBC because I spend so much more time with them than CNN. Actually, aside from Chuck Todd’s hour of over-rehearsed tics, random twitching and “I’m being thoughtful” eye rolling, I’m pretty exclusive to MSNBC where cable news is concerned. That’s not because I love most of their on air talent — I don’t. MSNBC has a few truly exceptional news broadcasters/communicators on their team. I have zero problem with advocate journalism so long as its open about its advocacy and consistent in its morality. Nicolle Wallace evolved into a super star whose past — as the basis for her crisis of conscience — gives her point of view gravitas. She is what a “Come To Jesus” moment looks like when given two hours of cable news five days a week.

Rachel Maddow’s integrity is rock solid. Stories that seem to meander suddenly cut to the bone when seemingly disparate dots connect and a real sense of “the bigger picture” flashes to the surface.

Ali Velshi is a rock. He’s gone from being the H-POD to being a beacon of logic and humanity. I don’t know how he keeps his (second) marriage together considering his work schedule. His family’s loss is our gain. Okay — I can be selfish that way.

I’m thrilled for Joy-Ann Reid (righteous indignation + receipts = what journalism should be) and all the talented people flowing from her “space”: Jonathan Capehart and Tiffany Cross both bring intelligence, cultural insight, wit and grace to their time slots, MSNBC and American journalism as a whole.

Lawrence O’Donnell puts a great bow on most days. My only note is one I’m not sure he could do anything about. I agree with most of what Lawrence says. But then, I’m the choir. Something in me always feels like that’s who Lawrence is preaching to — people as sensible as he is. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that but it does feel like a loop. Whereas Joy-Ann Reid can persuade with her passion, Lawrence reinforces with his warm reasonableness.

Chris Hayes epitomizes both advocate journalism’s strengths and its weaknesses. Hey — bring receipts like Chris does and you can flail away. But, sometimes that flailing feels like, well, flailing. The problem though is less Chris than the entire news industry’s aversion to including ALL possible explanations for Donald Trump’s presence in American politics and his behavior.

Ari Melber has the potential to be better than he is. He seems especially resistant to drawing conclusions and connecting dots minus ironclad evidence or a literal smoking gun. He sees the legal angles clearly but, at the moment of truth, when he could step forward and boldly connect the important dots, he gets lawyerly cold feet.

For the year and change of Trump’s candidacy (he declared on June 17, 2015), the four years of his presidency and the (almost a) year since he lost re-election, our news media has framed Trump as legitimate candidate, president and former-president. He’s been none of those things — from legitimacy’s point of view. Our news media however, having succumbed to access journalism’s lure during George W. Bush’s presidency, can’t bring themselves to call anyone what they are. Hell, our news media still regularly bleeps foul language from the news because they think 1) their audience “can’t handle the truth” and 2) language isn’t part of the news. Though “journalists”, they feel how a person expresses themselves — with all the significance their word choices imply — is less important if that expression might offend certain people. That’s not journalism, it’s misguided nannying.

To blunt language is to blunt news’ impact. It’s sugar-coating at a time when the more truth we get — all bitterness included — the better!

When our news media “pussy-footed” around “pussy-grabbing”, they deep-sixed the truth in favor of “being sensitive” — but to whom? Every woman in America deserved to know exactly how Donald Trump thinks about women. If that view of women includes his thinking he can do whatever he wants to whatever woman he wants — that’s material. Look, just because someone has a point of view (and we all have points of view), that doesn’t mean their point of view has a point. A rapist (like Trump) has a point of view as he commits rape (“I’m raping because I want to and can!) but that doesn’t mean his point of view is valid where fairness and the rule of law are concerned. Mexicans aren’t rapists as a culture. Trump’s candidacy should have ended the day it started because he said that.

The fact that Trump did say it — and his candidacy didn’t end — that’s not on the Democrats, it had zero to do with them. It’s not on the Republicans either because the rest of the Republican field would have been just as happy if Trump and his campaign had imploded that day. It’s hard to say how many Republican contenders knew yet (as the Washington Post reported in 2017) that “there’s two people Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump”. The GOP still hadn’t embraced Trump the way they would eventually. Only the news media really “saw something” in Trump.

A cash cow.

I didn’t start out a news junkie; I’m just a humble storyteller and an occasionally successful screenwriter and film/TV producer. Something about Trump’s candidacy triggered my “Spidey-senses”. My storytelling senses, too. What stuck in my craw from the get-go was a growing perception that the news story I was living through was not the news story our news media was reporting. I started to think of it like icing and cake. The news media were all about the story’s icing when, really, they needed to be looking much more deeply at the cake. Take Trump’s relationship with Vlad Putin. To this day, our news media will scratch divots into their heads pondering why Trump is soooooo beta to Putin’s alpha.

Someone should write a saying about how pictures speak a thousand words — and then hand it to our news media. “Both sides do it” journalism however gives every piece of information equal weight — and they refuse to “judge” information or the people supplying it. That’s how liars spewing lies about climate science can be the same as climate scientists presenting conclusive data. Before being shamed into cutting the shit, our news media regularly presented climate science and climate denial as if both points of view had equal merit. Even if they didn’t mean to do that, our news media presented both points of view on screen as a fifty-fifty proposition. That’s what it says visually when two people argue, both with 50% of the screen — both points of view could be true.

This still happens every time our news media presents a Democrat’s point of view and then — for balance — a Republican’s. If the Democrat says “we need to these programs to help these people and we calculate it will cost this much, the Republican replying “That costs too much” isn’t an actual reply to the question. The people the Democrats are trying to help still need that help. That’s empirically true regardless. If it will cost x dollars to help them then the proper framing is “We need this amount of money to help this amount of Americans accomplish equity — a thing we know America needs to deal with”. “Costs too much” means “I’m choosing NOT to help all the people who need help”. The question is “why?” Where should that money go instead?

Our news media loves a horse race because races are easy to call. You just sit there and watch the horses run. But, America’s in a very strange place right now. There are horse races being run — and our news media is reporting on them (the “Will Joe Biden get his agenda passed by Congress” story is nothing but a horse race in our news media’s hands). But these races are happening while the race track is burning down around us. And the Republican Party set the fire.

I know for a fact that I’m not the only member of the cable news audience baffled by cable news’ inability to aggregate the story we’re all living through. Example: the news media itself kept track of the number of lies they believe Trump told in public. 30, 573 was the “official” tab according to the Washington Post on January 24, 2021. Those were lies told while Trump was POTUS. The WaPo, as far as I know, stopped keeping track; we have no idea how many lies Trump has lied while being former-POTUS. Whatever that number is, it’s a record. Yet, few in the news media framed Trump as a liar first — though, considering the amount of lying and Trump’s willingness to lie about everything no matter how small and demonstrably false — that, too, is baffling. You’d think that, after even just 10 percent of those lies — thirty-five hundred or so — you’d stop assuming Trump was ever telling the truth since there’s clearly no evidence of it while there’s ample and growing evidence that he lies.

Our news media still publishes Trump’s lies without framing them as such even while knowing that that’s what they are. Oh, sure — they do tell us they’re lies — but, if we see it from Trump’s point of view (knowing he’s lying), the point of the exercise isn’t to prove you’re not lying, it’s to blanket the world with the lie so as to turn the lie into “the truth”. Even when acknowledging Trump’s dishonesty, our news media continues to work to his dishonesty’s advantage.

Geez! I wanted to be positive here and, instead, I’ve criticized again. Did I mention yet what a hard habit this is to break?

Here — I’ll try to be positive. Kelly O’Donnell is someone I’ve been unkind toward in the past. And she epitomizes exactly what I’m talking about. Kelly (can I call you that?), I want to make amends because — hey, we’re both in show biz, right? The news biz IS show biz and the same principles that make my storytelling work also make yours work.

I mean this from the bottom of my heart (for what that’s worth): I want to help YOU, Kelly O, be the best storyteller you can be! Here’s a clip of Kelly O from August 17, 2017 after a terrorist attack in Barcelona. It’s early in the Trump presidency; his lying as POTUS is still newish (compared to his lying as candidate). But — context — Sean Spicer didn’t get up in front of the White House Press Corps and lie about the size of Trump’s crowd size for his health or because he really wanted to. Journalists like Kelly O’ had personally witnessed not just that Trump lied but that he lied about stupid things. And,, remember, this is well after “Mexicans are rapists” (a lie) and “pussy-grabbing” (another lie — his denial).

A storyteller adding information builds a platform from which to base the next part of the story. The goal is to tell the whole story, of course, by connecting dots as they become reasonably connectable. Once you’ve established that a person is a liar (inside your own head), how can you tell that person’s story as if they aren’t a liar? The fact is they could be and an honest telling of their story starts there — not after you’ve presented the lie. Context IS everything.

https://www.msnbc.com/deadline-white-house/watch/o-donnell-appears-it-is-incorrect-information-being-tweeted-by-trump-1027064387879

At the 1:07 mark, Kelly O’ reads a tweet Trump put out.

She then qualifies the tweet: “Especially in that last sentence,” says Kelly O, “That seems to be the voice of the president more than a staffer on his behalf”. “That seems to be” is Kelly O’ inserting herself into the story — putting herself into Donald Trump’s head because, I guess, she has such insight into how Trump thinks. Though Trump to that point had showed zero capacity for empathy, Kelly O’ makes him empathetic regardless as if he must be empathetic just because he’s POTUS and Kelly O’s reporting on him. But Kelly O senses there’s more to it. Good for her!

“But, then a curious follow up tweet,” Kelly O’ continues, “…where the President says” (and she reads the tweet) —

Kelly O reminds the audience that this echoes a story Trump told on the campaign trail (a place where he lied repeatedly of course and said outrageous, offensive things) even though, as president, Trump had access to copious information that proved the story wrong. Historians have found no basis in fact for this, Kelly O says, spinning a blatant lie into “it appears this is incorrect information being tweeted by the President at this time”.

Think about the difference between these two presentations of the same thing — a lie. One presents the lie as a lie. The other is Kelly O’ dancing around until the word “lie” can’t really be discerned anymore. No one lies by accident. They’re deliberate by definition and Trump deliberately lies as readily as he breathes. Yet Kelly O editorialized a Trumpian lie down into something Trump could have done accidentally. That’s really dishonest. And, when you consider what Trump did subsequently?

That makes Kelly O an enabler.

Ah, hell — I did it again! I’m so sorry, Kelly O — I really didn’t mean to criticize. You’re a nice person — anyone can get that just from watching you. From everything I’ve read, your colleagues like you. From your industry’s point of view, you’re at the top of your game. That doesn’t mean you’re AT the top of your game. Or maybe it does and the thing we’re comparing it to — the news industry’s game — has a “top” most industries wouldn’t brag about. What it means is that from mediocrity’s point of view, you fit right in.

You are tasked with covering the biggest, most compelling, most consequential story of our collective lifetimes. Our democracy’s survival hinges on you getting your job right. So far, you’ve let us and democracy down hard. But the game ain’t over yet! Hell, MSNBC itself has news assets that both see and perfectly articulate what’s happening to us. For my money, Jason Johnson and Elie Mystal are both Jeremiah’s we should be listening to religiously.

In my dreams, a day will come when I can step back from being a news junkie. Fascinating as it is, it’s exhausting. But, I know this: if the day comes when I can stop obsessing on the news, it will be because Progressives (the only adults in the room now) have finally cleared out all the dead wood — the stale, regressive, repressiveness of our racist right wing. When the day comes that we’re no longer under threat, I will relax. Finally.

I’ll miss a few of my regulars when that day comes: Nicolle and Rachel especially. But, as for the rest of you? I’ll assume you’ve gone off to greener pastures — and jobs you might actually be good at.

Mitch McConnell Can Count Votes Too — So Long As They’re Corrupt

As we lurch toward a Republican-forced government shut-down on Thursday night, the media keeps reminding us how good Nancy Pelosi is at counting votes. She won’t put a bill on the floor that doesn’t have the votes to pass. If Joe Biden’s agenda doesn’t have the votes today, Speaker Pelosi will work her magic — it’s agreed she’s one of the best, savviest Speakers of the House in American history — and make that vote happen tomorrow. Bet against her at your peril. The news media — believing that “both sides do it” — also give Mitch McConnell mucho cred for being a great politician because he can count votes. But, the way Mitch counts votes — and the votes he’s counting — is entirely different from the way Speaker Pelosi works. Speaker Pelosi can only appeal to her caucus’ hearts. Public servants serving the public have hearts, ya see. And Democrats, by their nature (and by their hearts) are wild and unruly. Democrat Will Rogers said of us almost a hundred years ago “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. By contrast to Speaker Pelosi, Mitch McConnell has a far, far easier time.

Mitch knows his caucus — to a man — doesn’t have a heart. Instead, they have greed. Greed runs everything in their personal and collective worlds. Their bottom line is enrichment and power. Getting richer than they already are and (since this is what it will require), holding onto political power forever in order to do it. For Mitch then, life is simple so long as it’s as corrupt as he is. You can always count on corruption to come through because you can always blackmail corrupt people into compliance. Try blackmailing an innocent person — it’s much, much harder.

We’ve seen — live — what happens when Mitch can count all his corrupt votes but can’t count on his un-corrupt ones. Remember this — the night Senator John McCain literally voted a thumbs down to Mitch’s attempt to kill the ACA?

I betcha Mitch still gets himself into a mighty treason-turtle snit every time he thinks of it. I bet — same token — an uncorrupted John McCain stood between Lindsey Graham’s anti-Trumpism and his remarkable flip into the Uber-Trumpism.

Can anyone name a higher purpose any Republican is fighting for other than power for power’s sake? Mitch McConnell certainly isn’t interested in serving the needs of most Americans since he’s only about servicing a teeny-tiny slice of really rich white men. Who are all Christians.

When he’s not servicing his Russian clients (Oleg Deripaska, for instance), Mitch is Charles Koch’s Bitch. Tasked with seizing the judiciary from any possible Democratic grasp — that was the point of denying Barrack Obama more than a hundred hearings for federal bench judgeships and, of course, Antonin Scalia’s seat. Our news media depicted Merrick Garland not getting a hearing as Mitch McConnell being a clever, skilled (Machiavellian) politician. No, actually that was Mitch McConnell putting himself between the point of electoral politics — the majority getting what they voted for — and Mitch and his cohorts getting what THEY want. Our news media — convinced that “both sides do it” — have it in their heads that anti-democratic behavior and acts is just some “political opinion” as opposed to what it is: an affront to democracy and to individual voters’ right to vote.

But, hey — so long as rich, Christian white guys are doing it? How can it be bad, right?

This is the corruption Mitch McConnell relies on. It’s his oxygen now same as it’s always been. Make no mistake: Mitch and corruption go way back.

Mitch has been a political hustler since grade school. Being naturally unlovable, Mitch saw political power — even at the public school level — as a way to make people love him. Or, at least not hate him because of who he was. And Mitch has deep issues with who he is. Mitch graduated with honors from the University of Louisville with a B.A. in poli sci in 1964. He was student body president. Three years later, he graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law where was president of the student bar association.

Mind you, Mitch isn’t doing this to make anywhere he is a better place for him being there. He’s doing it because he adores political power and he’s figuring out how to get it and keep it. But then, Mitch’s perfect glide path goes awry.

He enlists in March or July 1967. But by August, Mitch has been discharged (honorably) for an eye condition that was treatable in 1967 with steroids. In other words, that was no basis for discharging Mitch. Mitch has been extremely closed-mouthed about the whole thing and his military records are now inaccessible if not destroyed — which only ever means one thing: Mitch is guilty of something. I have no idea whether the following is true but my sense is that were it libelous versus true, DKos would have taken it down. They’re not in the bullshit business. According to a sourced story, there’s a possible explanation for Mitch’s sudden exit from the military — and it has nothing to do with any eye infections. According to the story, Mitch was caught engaged in an act of sodomy and agreed to go away rather than face (what would have been an embarrassing for all) trial. Having political connections — as Mitch did — surely stood up for Mitch — out of corruption not because anyone cared about LGBTQ rights.

Plenty of people helped Mitch rise politically. Not all of them were as corrupt as Mitch — and came to regret backing Mitch later. In the New Yorker, Jane Mayer describes how John David Dyche, a conservative columnist, Louisville lawyer and former Mitch supporter, went from being an active Mitch supporter now sees Mitch’s standing by Donald Trump as proof that Mitch has “no ideology except his own political power”. In other words: corruption. Mitch’s former supporter looked back at Mitch’s political career — especially the part where despite the fact that he despised Trump, he stood by Trump — as proof that Mitch was and is corrupt. Per Mayer, even Mitch’s three daughters can’t stomach their father and his corruption.

Mitch sees Charles Koch (formerly the Koch Brothers) as his lord and master. The Kochs are the most powerful money in American politics. Charles Koch still intends to twist our democracy into something more pleasing to him and his needs — being a purveyor of dirty power and a climate terrorist. Koch thinks his money (which he inherited) makes him smarter than me or you. And Charles Koch thinks rich, white. Christian men should lead and everyone else should follow. The Kochs may be crooks but they aren’t stupid crooks. Charles and David (now just Charles) spent their dirty money wisely — buying pretty much every Republican and just enough Democrats (Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona) to stop Americans from ever getting the government (and government services) they keep voting for.

The Kochs recognized that the only reliable branch of government aside from the Senate (designed, like the Electoral College to empower racism and racists over urbanites and diversity) was the judiciary — the lifetime federal bench in particular and the SCOTUS especially. Control the judiciary, the Kochs realized and one can control the country — perhaps even force it to rewrite laws pushing America toward progressivism. One could even — by jiggering the law just so — cancel Roe v Wade without even actually canceling it.

We don’t know how deeply Russia has its hooks into Mitch McConnell, all we know is that every time Mitch burps, it tastes of stale rubles. We need to explore this with Mitch under oath — Benghazi-style. He needs to explain his relationship with Oleg Deripaska (the man to whom Paul Manafort passed proprietary polling data covering Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, three of which flipped unexpectedly in election 2016, throwing the election to Trump). Deripaska is Russian military intelligence and we KNOW that Russian military intelligence was actively engaged in throwing the 2016 election to Russia. Deripaska was sanctioned by our government for doing that — sanctions that Mitch got lifted so that Deripaska could drop $300 million into an aluminum factory in impoverished western Kentucky. That’s swell for those dirt poor Kentuckians, but awful otherwise for the rest of the country and our democracy.

We need to understand above all why Mitch refused to let We The People in on the Republican Party’s dirty little secret: that Russia wanted Trump to be president and they were actively engaged in making that happen. In September 2016, when Obama called a Gang of Eight meeting (four Democratic Congressional leaders and four republican leaders) to discuss telling America what Russia was doing on Trump’s (and the GOP’s) behalf, Mitch got up on his little treason turtle hind legs and insisted that if Obama did such a thing — told America the truth about Russia and Donald Trump — that he’d accuse Obama of “politicizing the intelligence”. Obama, unfortunately, caved.

I bet that if Obama had that moment to do over? He’d tell Mitch McConnell to go eff himself. But, first, he’d tell Mitch what he thought of Mitch’s corruption. Then he’d call Mitch a traitor.

And, of course, he’d be right.

Here’s a prediction. Some day — soon, I bet — Mitch McConnell’s name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet Americans use when they want to call someone a “traitor”.