Why Is Connecting Dots Sooooooo Effin’ Hard For Our News Media?

If you obsess on just one or two dots (even three) of a connect-the-dots picture, you’ll never know what the big picture is. To make matters worse, having no sense of a bigger picture, you’ll probably take that “small picture” view of a much larger thing and project all kinds of conclusions that, no surprise, get everything utterly wrong because, well — you had no perspective! America’s news media, to this day, have not connected the dots on their picture of Donald Trump. Actually, they haven’t connected a single dot — not from the instant Trump oozed down that golden escalator and announced his candidacy by insisting “Mexicans are rapists”. At that point, one shouldn’t have had to ask “Is Donald Trump a racist?” He told us unequivocally that he was. All the news media had to do was listen to him. Quick side note: it’s not up to a racist or the racist’s friends or even the media to decide “who’s a racist”. It’s up to the racist’s victim. If someone says, “That person was racist towards me”? then whoever they’re pointing at IS A RACIST. See how the dots connect?

But you have to want to connect dots to see the pictures they form. “Both sides do it” journalism insists it’s not journalism’s job to connect dots — that’s for journalism’s audience to do. Okay, fair enough. But, asking for the audience, is journalism presenting the stone, cold, literal truth or are they presenting a “truth” already compromised by mis-framing? In the current climate, to claim Republicans are honest actors in a debate about American democracy is horribly, HORRIBLY mis-framed. They’re not and haven’t been for a generation — at least going back to Newt Gingrich and the open culture war he declared on the left and Democrats when he was Speaker of the House. Yet, every day, the news media frames every debate — about immigration, about the pandemic, about the economy — about the The Big Lie itself — as if the Democrats and their desperate battle to protect every American’s right to vote was just “another point of view” one could have — as is the Republicans’ blatant attempts to restrict voting for everyone — but especially for Black people, brown people and young voters. “Both sides do it” journalism insists on seeing a criminal attempt to infringe on voting rights as “just another way to run a campaign” as if everyone could or might do it. It’s perverted our viewpoint to such an extreme that we now think of Republicans openly CHEATING to win elections as “just another way to ‘win” elections”.

No, it’s not.

How the hell did we get to a place where we shrug off the GOP’s relentless attempts to seize political power from the majority? It doesn’t help that the news media asks why but, either doesn’t stick around for the answer or, worse, assume (cos lazy) that Republicans behave the way they do “because it’s just how they are”. For five years now, through darkening circumstances including losing the White House and the Senate (having driven the economy into a ditch in large part by totally mismanaging the pandemic), Republicans have become not less devoted to Trump and Trumpism, not more. For five years, our NEWS MEDIA has stared at that fact while scratching its head, unable to CONNECT THE DOTS. Why, they wonder, scratching so hard now they’re carving literal furrows into their skulls, is Trump sooooooo beholden to Vladimir Putin? Why, oh why, doesn’t Trump ever stand up to Putin? Why did Trump always seem more interested in protecting Russia’s interests instead of our own?

Is it really so hard to connect those dots? Really?

How much EVIDENCE does a “journalist” need before they’ll draw a conclusion, say, about how Donald Trump bankrupted his Atlantic City casinos even though he had all those Rich Russian oligarch pals “giving him money”? Hmmmmmmm… can’t imagine why… . Faced with those facts, Fusion GPS (when hired to do oppo research on Trump for the Marco Rubio-backing Washington Free Beacon) became so alarmed (being ex-journalists with some experience reporting money laundering) that they hired Christopher Steele because his bona fides inside Russia were so rock solid. These former journalists wanted to know the truth behind what their due diligence had uncovered (their due diligence being a survey of every piece of PUBLICLY AVAILABLE material on Trump) and whether Trump, having laundered money for Russian mobsters (all with strong ties to Putin), was now fully owned by them.

Dishonest scumbag though he is, Donald Trump can be shockingly (if unintentionally) forthright. He projects literally everything terrible about himself usually onto other people. It’s hardly difficult to spot. He keeps telling us who and what he is. The news media refuse to take him at his word — to this very day.

On the one hand, it could just be mediocrity at work. In any given profession, the majority of pros will be good enough to be pros but, otherwise, unremarkable. Mediocre. It’s probably a good thing most people are mediocre. It’s their mediocrity that helps the good performers stand out. Watergate attracted a lot of Woodward & Bernstein wannabes to journalism. That’s swell so many people were so aspirational. Too bad 99% of them simply didn’t and don’t have the chops. That doesn’t stop them from thinking they do — every day when they do the thing they call “journalism”. On the other hand, if it’s not mediocrity, that means it’s probably a total failure of imagination.

If you can’t “imagine” that Republicans are being entirely disingenuous when they wonder if Joe Biden really is POTUS then you can’t imagine Republicans. You’re thinking of some other group — “normal Republicans” from some time in your past. You definitely don’t have THESE pirates on your radar. If you can’t imagine that Vladimir Putin literally OWNS Trump, literally RUNS Trump and literally has his hooks in the entire Republican Party, then maybe you’re in the wrong line of work. Hell, even if those things weren’t true — that Putin owns Trump and the GOP — it would simply be good journalistic practice to definitively rule them out. Not just because you can’t imagine it but because, like Fusion GPS, you did your due diligence.

What’s most frustrating about American journalism’s inability to see Trump clearly is that they’re doing this despite their own reporting! All along, American journalists have written stories about Trump and his circle that, all by themselves, should have been the end of, first, Trump’s candidacy and then his presidency. The GOP knew before they nominated Trump to be POTUS that Russia owned him. They said so — OUT LOUD — and that got reported on — IN THE WASHINGTON POST! Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of Republican muckety-mucks a month before their convention and said, “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacker and Trump – swear to God!” This story was reported in 2017 — in the Washington Post and the Guardian (among plenty of other papers). No one in the room expressed either outrage or shock. Outrage that Kevin would say such a thing and shock at the fact that it might could be true.

No journalist (to my knowledge) has revisited that reporting? Why? Isn’t it good enough? Isn’t it valid? Isn’t it, maybe, revealing of something pertinent to now? Imagine if American journalists were to aggregate the Donald Trump story… imagine if — instead of returning to a weird ‘square one’ ever day, they BUILT a portrait of not only Donald Trump but his circle and the Republican Party as a whole that shifted and changed and evolved as more and more new information got added. The point of the exercise would be a truthful, realistic picture of what is — of what we know.

When we get to the part of the story (and we will) where the indictments and subpoenas and charges start raining like fire onto the hapless Republicans, the news media will act as if it was shocking. It shouldn’t be. Any real journalist or storyteller worth a damn should have seen it coming from a thousand miles off. Because it was there; in fact, they already reported it.

Oh, by the way, American news media? The connect-the-dot picture up top? It’s a dinosaur…

“Karma’s A Stone Cold Bitch: Mitch McConnell Thinks He Can Kneecap Democracy Edition”

Gulp! Moscow Mitch McConnell looks behind — sees Karma gaining on him fast! Inside his turtle head, he thinks “Please, Turtle feets, don’t fail me now!

Yesterday, Mitch McConnell got up on his turtle hind legs and insisted that he is 100% all-in with stopping the Biden Administration from doing what THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS elected them to do. That’s not because Mitch McTreasonTurtle has a better vision for America. He most certainly does not. Mitch is all about money and power. Those are his constituents and the people of Kentucky can go eff themselves as far as Mitch is concerned. Same goes for the rest of We The People. Mitch McConnell wants to save the filibuster and stop Americans from voting and become majority leader one last time before he shuffles off not for any philosophical reason. Mitch’s problem is he doesn’t want to die in federal prison. Mitch knows he’s guilty of multiple instances of public corruption, obstruction of justice and outright TREASON. He’s always counted on getting away with it all — as white, Christian men of privilege always have in America.

Unfortunately for Mitch, that’s about to change. When we get to the end of this sorry-assed saga, Mitch McConnell will stand as one of American history’s uberest Uber-Villains. His name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet hurled when you want to call someone a “traitor”. If you want to know just how severely damaged Moscow Mitch is — he’s a lonely bully having his revenge on the rest of the schoolyard — read Jane Meyer’s excellent piece on Mitch in the New Yorker. The schoolyard is about to put an end to that.

Even so, the schoolyard isn’t Mitch’s biggest problem. THAT would be Karma. And Karma has big, BIG plans for Mitch because Mitch has created so much horrible Karma himself. At the end of the day, it will be Karma that has the very last laugh where Mitch is concerned. I think it’ll go something like this…

The end comes… Mitch dies and finds himself reincarnated as “Mitch McConnell:  Toilet Brush” —

A Toilet Brush or Mitch

Poor Mitch. What a come down! Ah, but that’s not the worst of it… ‘MITCH THE TOILET BRUSH‘ lives HERE —

WORST TOILET

Mitch is the “Official Toilet Brush” for the most horrible toilet in the world. Ah, but even that isn’t the bottom. Mitch’s toilet lives at a REFUGEE CAMP where CHOLERA just broke out!

Refugee Camp

And there’s already a LINE to use Mitch’s Toilet (and every last person in line has EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA) —

line of refugees 1

  And that line goes on…

Line of Refugees 2

And on…

Refugees3

And on… And STILL, it gets worse for Mitch — Cos THIS is the creature at the very end of that line…

Monster at end of line

And it doesn’t make ‘dainty’ piles like THIS —

pileofcrap

Nope — it produces an endless stream of foul-smelling poison as toxic as Mitch’s ‘soul’. And just as Mitch sees how massive and unending that STREAM OF LIQUID SHIT IS

He wakes up — and realizes it was all in his head — A DAYDREAM!

And that makes Mitch happy (even happier than Koch Money does when it lines his pockets — and that’s a lot of happy).

Happy Mitch

Everything, Mitch realizes, is back to normal.  And he turns to go about what he was doing (before that awful daydream) and he reaches out TO SHAKE THE HAND of THIS MAN —

THE HANDSHAKE

And the KARMA TREE starts all over again…

Forever and ever and ever… Hey, Karma: Three, two, one — GO!

Everyone Has A “Point Of View”; That Doesn’t Mean They Have A “Point”

One of the worst aspects of “both sides do it” brand journalism is that it gives credence to bullshit. BSDI says that it’s not for a journalist to judge whether or not someone is lying to them — that lie is just the liar’s point of view. They, the journalist, are obligated (they say) to present that point of view without editorializing. But, that assumes the point of view has legitimacy beyond just one person’s way of seeing things. A car thief — sitting in your car, outside your house, honking the horn because he wants you to see what he’s done — has a thief’s point of view. The thief’s victim — you — also have a point of view.

The cops show up just in time. They catch the car thief inside the stolen object, steering wheel literally in hand.

You tell your story — your side. The cops look to the thief — who they saw stealing your car. What “side” does the thief have in this story? That you gave him your car and instantly forgot?

“Nuh-unh,” you say to the cops when they shoot you a look. Back to the thief. Unless he has a long, sad tale of why he’s a thief, he better keep his mouth shut. He doesn’t have a “side” here — meaning, no point justifying what he did exists. He has no point and never did; there is no justifiable explanation for why he stole your car.

Neither “I felt like it” nor “I dunno why” are acceptable or justifiable. A bully may not be able to articulate what compels him to bully but there’s something compelling him. Regardless, his emotional emptiness does not justify his actions. He may think he has a “side” equal to his victim’s, but he doesn’t. What “side” did Donald Trump possibly have for backing Vladimir Putin time and time again?

What “side” could Lindsey Graham have for ferociously backing a man he said would be the destruction of the Republican Party — and clearly is going to be? What “side” could current GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have for NOT reporting their suspicions (stated out loud a month before the Republicans nominated Trump as their POTUS) that “Putin pays Rohrbacher and Trump”?

What “side” could anyone have for insisting upon The Big Lie?

What “side” could anyone possibly have for putting children in cages?

What “side” could anyone possibly have for turning mask-wearing into a political statement?

What “side” could any of the eight Republicans have for spending July 4, 2018 in Moscow?

What “side” could Jeffrey Epstein possibly have had? What side could Ghislane Maxwell or any of Jeff’s other pervy friends have had? What side could Bill Barr possibly have — in ANYTHING?

What “side” did Mitch McConnell have for refusing to let We The People in on the secret that Russia was actively backing Donald Trump in the 2016 election?

What “side” did any Republican have for backing the January 6 insurrection?

What “side” did any Republican Senator have for refusing to convict Trump and remove him from office?

What “side” does anyone have for keeping that “R” next to their name?

As we know — they’re happy to tell us — Republicans always have their point of view. But, being as it’s the point of view of corrupt, racist, bigoted, misogynist traitors, no “side” goes with that.

People Who Can Laugh At Themselves Never Become Bullies

The joke was on Trump at the 2011 WH Correspondent’s Dinner; It’s been on us ever since

Think of a well-known bully: Donald Trump, for instance. While Trump loves being an entertainer and making people laugh, he’d never entertain his followers by making them laugh at him. Trump’s notorious for his inability to laugh at himself or to be the butt of anyone’s joke (as Barack Obama learned when he poked fun at Trump during the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner). Barack Obama, for comparison’s sake, CAN laugh at himself; in fact, he’s as notorious for being able to laugh at himself as Trump is for not being able to. No one considers Barack Obama a bully. That’s not a coincidence. Even a cursory glance at history proves the point. Hitler didn’t get famous as a painter — or as a guy good at telling jokes. Stalin wasn’t known to poke fun at himself. Nor was Pol Pot or Mao or Mussolini or any of North Korea’s ruling Kim family. Had any of them had a sense of humor, they would never have become monsters. Their sense of humor would have kicked in first; they would have laughed so hard at themselves for even thinking such a stupid thing that the idea would have died right there. Having a sense of humor is essential to having a healthy psyche.

When bullies like Trump or Vlad Putin laugh, it’s always AT someone, never with them. Trump savors other peoples’ pain and hardship. Others’ suffering excites him. His niece Mary Trump has personally experienced it.

Think about the ways Trump thinks one “gets” a laugh. He infamously mocked journalist Serge Kovaleski (who he knew and who’d interviewed Trump many times)

Back when Trump was president, occasionally his people would insist that some awful thing Trump said was just him “joking”. That was always especially galling. The press can’t get it through their heads that it’s not up to Trump or any racist whether or not they’re racist; racism is in the eye of the beholder, not the racist. Racists think their racism is justified; that’s why they’re the worst people to ask! Along those lines, allowing a bully to mischaracterize an act of bullying (that got caught) as him just “joking” — that also demands to be called out.

For starters, the evidence says clearly that Donald Trump has zero sense of humor. It goes without saying since he can’t laugh at himself — and if you can’t laugh at yourself, that’s the proof that you have zero sense of humor. As a matter of fact, it was probably Trump’s not having a sense of humor that prodded him over the line to run for president.

Trump hit the ground already compromised by Putin (a fact the entire GOP leadership knew was true — they even discussed it OUT LOUD a month before nominating Trump!) Putin’s another bully with no sense of humor — although Putin’s pretty good at sounding like he’s funny. Like all bullies, Putin and Trump surround themselves with lesser bullies. The world in their heads is all dog eat dog; humans are just different flavors of Alpo. But, what does an alpha bully di tutti bullies do when all the beta bullies suddenly turn on him? Surely the Big Bully can’t be too surprised when the lesser bullies turn on him or simply abandon the sinking ship. That’s what they would do.

Unfortunately for Vlad and Don, in their bully world, bullies who lose power often lose their lives either in the process or in its aftermath. Putin knows this for a fact. Trump’s about to learn that lesson the hard way. Trump would have been far happier had he lived out his days as the ordinary, bankrupt bully he was, a petty tyrant running a mom & pop money laundering & corruption shop. Playing with the big bullies will not end well for Trump. When his actions cause the downfall of all those other bullies? They won’t be happy until they’ve had a moment or two to personally tell Trump just HOW angry they are.

Unlike Putin, Donald Trump WILL face justice. There’s not stopping it now. It’s ludicrous for our news media to think Trump or the GOP has any political future. The FBI’s raid this morning on Rudy Giuliani’s home and office was the beginning of the Big Reveal. While the feds are going after Giuliani because of his relationship with Ukrainians, those Ukrainians are all Putin backers — which means they’re all assets owned outright by Putin. Like all roads, this one too LEADS TO RUSSIA.

Russia is the ultimate punch line here. It’s the payoff to the sick, awful joke that was the Trump presidency. The Trump presidency was the sick, awful culmination of the Republican Wet Dream of permanent minority rule. And what, after all, is the Republican dream of permanent minority rule than the biggest joke of all on the majority?

If Russia Made Donald Trump President (They Did) Then Donald Trump Was NEVER The Legitimate POTUS

I’m not sure when exactly we got it into our heads that cheating to win was merely one more “way” to win. It’s not. The moment one cheats to win, one cannot win. One might appear to “win” at the time of the contest but if further examination reveals clear evidence of cheating — and that’s ANY cheating (where exactly would we draw the line between acceptable cheating and too much cheating?) then the contest is decided by default: cheaters can NEVER win; therefore the victory goes to the non-cheater. In 2016, that would have made Hilary Clinton POTUS. It is a profound understatement to say that Trump & the Republican Party cheated massively in order to “win” in 2016. Surely, the Republicans would not still be working their bloated butts off to hold onto power now if they hadn’t cheated to get that power four years ago. They did cheat — and for that they’re legally liable. But, as we know, the GOP did more than just “cheat”. They committed TREASON as part of their cheating. For that, they must pay a price.

As we’re learning finally — now that the Trumpanistas can no longer obstruct investigations into every rotten, corrupt, treasonous thing Trump did while in office — the Trumps, in fact, perpetrated a shitload of rotten, corrupt treason. We know now for a certainty that Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort handed Konstantin Kilimnik proprietary polling data for Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan for him to pass onto Oleg Deripaska. Both Kilimnik and Deripaska are oligarchs and long time friends of Vladimir Putin’s. Both are Russian military intelligence. Why on earth would Manafort hand sensitive data about American voters to a hostile foreign intelligence service?

As we know — have known for years now (it’s only our “news media” that’s finally getting hip to what’s been happening the whole time) — that proprietary polling data went straight to Russian Military Intelligence where they turned it into weaponized Facebook ads accusing Hilary Clinton of racism. Those ads — using the proprietary polling data as a guide — were then targeted at Black, Democratic voters, the intent; cause enough Black voters to stay home to further destroy Clinton’s electoral advantage in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. At the same time, other parts of Trump’s corrupt, treason machine had caused then FBI Director, the painfully out-of-his-depth Jim Comey to write the “The Comey Letter” which re-opened the whole “But, her emails!” discussion ten days before the election. On election day, Trump’s and Russia’s various ops had brought those three key states — PA, MI & WI — to within the margin of error.

That — put your money on it — is when ES&S and Diebold went to work. Most of the electronic voting machines in America are made by ES&S, a company run by Republican sympathizers who donate to Republican candidates and where Republicans sit on the Board of Directors. They have consistently refused to close internet-accessible back doors on their machines. Gosh, I wonder why…

We already know that but for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have been president. That means that Trump was never actually president since the power of the office flows from our authority — which we grant to the winner of free and fair elections. However — if the election isn’t free or fair then the authority that flows from it does not flow. We assume the authority flows — we certainly pretend it does. But the stone cold truth is Donald Trump NEVER had the authority to be president because We The People never granted it to him — because WE voted for Hillary Clinton.

Trump — always happy to project — told us from the start that his presidency was not legit. Our news media, of course, refused to listen to him.

But, we should. This will be a challenging revelation but we can’t just shrug it off as “something that happened”. How can we really go on as a sovereign nation if OTHER nations get to pick our leaders? We can’t. And the moment we prove beyond the shadow of a doubt — and we absolutely will — that Russia chose Donald Trump to be our POTUS, we’re going to have to confront what that means in practical terms. None of the judges Trump appointed can remain judges — Trump never had the authority to nominate them. None of the “hard” changes Trump made to the government — the ones requiring plenty of hoop jumping to put them back to normal — can stand. None of the legislation — including the tax break for billionaires — can remain on the books.

Throw into this growing tumbleweed of terribleness all the other corruption the Republican Party brought to the table the last four years.

Most damaging, of course, is what Trump (and Mitch McConnell) did to the judiciary. For years, McConnell refused to give Obama’s judges (including his SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland) the time of day (never mind a hearing). The whole point of the Republican power grab was to use the Judiciary and the Senate to leverage their way to permanent minority rule.

Mitch also has “treason” vulnerabilities. Mitch needs to explain — under oath Benghazi-style — his relationship with oligarch, Putin Pal and Russian intelligence officer Oleg Deripaska. Mitch will insist he has no relationship with any Russians! But, Mitch would be lying again. Mitch refused to let We The People in on the big secret that Putin was behind a massive scheme to defraud American voters of their choice. At a notorious meeting of the Gang Of Eight in September 2016, Mitch got up on his little Treason Turtle legs and told Obama that if Obama told Americans that Russia was trying to make Trump president, he, Mitch, would drop that on America — that the Democrats were “politicizing the intelligence”.

In the election’s aftermath, Deripaska got sanctioned for his role in attacking the election. Mitch however saw to it that those sanctions on Deripaska got lifted so that Deripaska could “gift” Mitch with a Russian-owned aluminum factory in Western Kentucky. Something’s rotten in the state of Kentucky — and the stink is coming from Mitch McConnell’s turtle pond.

The reason the Republicans have fought so hard to obstruct all investigations into Trump’s involvement with Russia is because Trump was deeply involved with Russia. So is most of the Republican Party. A month before nominating Trump as their “guy” in 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of Republican leadership. “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” said McCarthy, “Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in the room dropped what they were holding and had to scrape their jaw off the floor. No one asked McCarthy why he’d say such a terrible, damning thing? No one said “Geez, guys, I feel like we ought to call the FBI!” Instead, per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan insisted they were all family — meaning, all secrets stay secret.

It will take a long, long time for America to get over what Trump and his Republican co-conspirators have done to America. The instant we stop granting him — and anything he did — legitimacy? The faster we’ll get over Trump.

Why Do American Men Turn To Guns To Solve Their Emotional Problems?

Adam Lanza

Another mass shooting in America — Eight murdered at a Fed Ex facility in Indianapolis — and the news media needs to know: “What’s the motive?” As if the gunman’s particular issue with the world would explain why he reacted exactly as he did. Our news media is good at wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth at these moments. But they’re guilty of giving credence to bullshit arguments. I’m old enough to remember when they’d regularly give climate science deniers equal time because, hey — they have a “point of view” so therefore because they have it, it must be valid. Here, as always, on one side is a majority of Americans who do not own guns and resent the fact that gun owners can’t keep their damned killing machines to themselves. On the other side are gun owners whose hair catches fire immediately because, damn it, as former NRA president Chuck Heston put it, we can try and pry their guns from their cold, dead fingers.

What is this mania to have guns in the first place? Yeah, sure — out in rural America, something or other. That seems to be the argument’s meat: we’re different. We’re threatened by neighbors who live miles away and by strangers we’ve never met. In case those zombie-people come, swarming by the dozens, those guns will be all that stands between us and the zombie apocalypse.

America’s gun problem is borderline intractable in large part because we’ve spent so long giving credence to bullshit arguments about guns. Rather than dismiss fears of marauders out of hand, we indulge this nonsense. We nod along to their white terror: “Oh, yes, of course it could happen — Black or brown people are probably plotting right this second to break into your house and eat your children for lunch. Have all the weaponry you want!” The data says that won’t happen. But — the data again — it could happen that one of those guns ends up killing someone who live in the house — by way of an accident or suicide or a moment of intra-familial rage.

That’s the other lie about guns that our news media happily propagates — that “responsible gun owners” don’t have these problems. There is no such thing as “responsible gun ownership”. Nancy Lanza thought she was a responsible gun owner until her son Adam shot her with her own legally purchased Bushmaster XM15 semi-automatic rifle before taking that weapon — and ten magazines with 30 rounds each to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Adam Lanza used a gun to resolve his emotional problems. Whatever was bothering him, he became convinced that the solution to it would spit from the muzzle of that Bushmaster.

Nobody turns a gun on other people — on strangers or on people they know — because they’re happy with them. You point a death machine — that’s what a gun is by design — at someone in order to threaten them. Do what they say or they’ll kill you with that gun. Gun violence killed 20,000 Americans last year. That’s a lot of anger. Another 24,000 Americans used guns to commit suicide. If the guns that were used to end those 44,000 lives hadn’t been available, how many of those people would still be here today? Most of them, that’s who — if not all of them.

Our gun laws all flow directly from our racism. If white people thought for two seconds that, say, Black people were arming themselves to the teeth the way white people already have? They’d re-write the gun laws just like that. Here’s my “let’s make a deal” to gun world: I’ll be honest if you will. Yes, in a perfect world, I admit it: I would insist that we carry out the Second Amendment to the letter. We’d arrange for a “well regulated militia” to formally take over the job of deciding who among the citizenry will be permitted to “keep” or “bear” the militia’s arms. The arms, you see, would BELONG to the militia; the word “own” doesn’t appear in the Second Amendment. Do you suppose that’s an accident? I don’t. The word “own” was perfectly good back then. Yet, strangely, they didn’t use that word to describe anyone’s relationship with a gun — as its “owner”.

Maybe the Constitution’s framers understood that some people couldn’t be trusted to have a gun in their hands. They might want to be in the militia but the militia wouldn’t want them; they’re nuts.

The whole tone of the gun rights argument smacks of emotional neediness. Virtually none of these people need their guns for “protection”. C’mon — I was honest — I said I’d take most guns. The other side needs to be honest, too: they need to confess why they REALLY feel threatened enough to “keep” a death machine within reach. What do they REALLY feel threatened by?

I write this as a suicide survivor. I tried to step in front of a bus. It seemed, in the moment, a sure thing. It wasn’t. Ah, but if I’d had a gun — I’d have been 2020’s suicide gun death number 24,001.

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

One of the first big lessons that stuck in my head as a child — the biggest up to that point being toilet training — was that I was hated because of what I was — a Jew. That’s a strange thing to teach a little kid without an enemy in the world. But, when I was growing up, in the early 1960’s (I was born in 1959), not twenty years since the camps had been liberated, the full weight of what had been done to us (not just by Germany but also by anti-Semites all over Europe) was only just beginning to dawn and make itself felt. In Baltimore — where my surgeon dad was did his residency and began his practice, and where I grew up — Jews began emigrating toward the suburbs, most settling in and around an enclave northwest of Baltimore called Pikesville. Before long, clever Anti-Semites turned that into “kikesville”). My affluent, comfortable, semi-assimilated upper middle class Jewish community could live with name-calling.

Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish — ditto its public schools — that even the handful of non-Jewish kids took all the Jewish holidays off because they knew the schools would be virtually empty. We had a really great tennis team but a really terrible football team that, wouldn’t ya know it, all the other teams loved to beat the crap out of.

American culture was still celebrating having won WWII. There were prime time TV shows about it like “Combat” and “Hogan’s Heroes”.

My culture also celebrated. It felt good not being extinct. And some of us wondered aloud: if not for Hitler’s homicidal madness, would the state of Israel have existed?

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 while telling them it’s truth, 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 murdered because of it. But that’s what’s coming to America: death & destruction because bullshit.

In fact, “death & destruction because bullshit” is the Republican Party’s entire strategy going forwards.

The Reason Big Business Will Absolutely “Quit” The GOP Is The Same Reason Bill O’Reilly No Longer Works At Fox News

Hey, remember Bill O’Reilly? Bill sure wishes most of us did remember him. But, for most of America, O’Reilly sits in the “Whatever happened to?” heap and not anywhere near the top. The reason most people don’t even think about O’Reilly any more as a “choice” in the news-entertainment marketplace is exactly the same reason that all America’s Big Businesses are now turning their backs on the Republican Party over the violently anti-democratic voting laws its members have drawn up all over the country, starting with Georgia. In a consumer-driven, free market economy — that, itself, relies on a stable, genuinely democratic political environment to cash flow it — anything that causes those consumers to stop consuming products & services is bad for business. If those causes are potentially long-lasting (more to the point, if the EFFECTS those causes cause are likely long-lasting), it’s entirely in Big Businesses long term interests either to remove or mitigate those causes as quickly (and cheaply) as possible. But, Big Business also knows it has a secondary problem to contend with: branding and co-branding. Just as Fox News saw clearly that continuing to co-brand with Bill O’Reilly had to end, so, too, will America’s Big Businesses see that they can no longer “co-brand” with the GOP.

O’Reilly, remember, had a history of sexually intimidating female co-workers (though the word in his mind was probably “seducing”). This happened. And, famously, this. This did, too.

Meanwhile, a paradigm that had actually shifted years before was finally recognized by America’s Big Businesses — at least the ones who advertised on Bill O’Reilly’s top-rated Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor”. As Time pointed out on April 6, 2017, ” …companies that advertise on The O’Reilly Factor have seen intense pressure on social media to stop running ads on the show. Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai were the first companies to pull their spots…”. Seeing the positive response those two big companies got, more of O’Reilly’s sponsors, their “integrity” having been fluffed, either pulled their ads from O’Reilly’s shows or (in the case of My Pillow, thought about it). Consider for a moment, what this really meant.

This was not one decision made in one boardroom that changed things, it was one decision being made in MULTIPLE boardrooms that changed things — because it all flowed from the same key data point: the majority of buying decisions in American households (especially the larger buying decisions) were being made by WOMEN. Appeal to the women in American households and your chances of making or keeping those households as customers increased. However, lose them as customers — especially over something like serial sexual harassment allegations — and you’d probably lose them forever. All those boardrooms saw it clearly: they could not advertise on any show having anything to do with Bill O’Reilly a moment longer. They transmitted that new paradigm to the 21st Century Fox Board (they oversee Fox News among other things). The 21st Century Fox Board did the only thing they could do as responsible stewards of their corporate entity: they canned Bill O’Reilly’s ass despite the fact that he was their main cash cow.

That’s freakin’ tectonic! Quietly, in the background, America’s Big Businesses took care of business — yes, out of greed, but also out of greed that recognized it needed to be on the right side of history. That happens from time to time; it’s like a broken analog clock being right twice a day. While crony capitalism has made a mess and a mockery of American capitalism — a thing which Team Biden, we hope, will begin to rectify in ways large, small and permanent — actual capitalism has, out of sheer survival instinct, worked as a kind of shifting ballast. That precedent is being repeated right here, right now in Georgia. While Coca Cola, Delta and Home Depot among many others had hoped to avoid getting dragged into American politics, if you donate money to legislators who want to legislate away our democracy — from a minority position — that fact now officially binds you together in the public’s consciousness. In other words, America understands that if you donate money to a politician, we can now take it for a fact that you AGREE with what that politician is trying to do. If the politician to whom you give money actively seeks to take away a customer’s VOTING RIGHTS, then that customer — and every other customer — will assume YOU also seek to take away your customer’s voting rights. If you can live with that — go ahead. Try it on. It won’t fit how you think it will.

Big business, if it’s to endure, must think strategically — in the longest terms possible. What’s good for the next quarter or two may be toxic to every quarter beyond. Living for today at tomorrow’s expense is how businesses die. This behavior doesn’t require a soul; only a survival instinct. Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky nailed this dynamic tension in his brilliant screenplay “Network” where — 25 years before it came to be — he envisioned the corrupting journey our news media would take from being respected, respectable news organizations to being entertainment companies with a little news thrown in. He saw Fox News coming from a million miles away. In Chayefsky’s Nostradoumus-like imagining, a weary news anchor named Howard Beale (who works for an imaginary 4th network called UBS — this was well before anything like Fox existed) becomes an unlikely populist icon/Jeremiah who taps into America’s latent rage; they’re all “mad as hell” and are “not going to take it anymore!” The UBS board, torn between keeping their integrity — albeit as the 4th place network and finally justifying themselves to UBS’s shareholders by making a little money for a change, choose the latter of course. But, Howard Beale is less than compliant. The silly man has begun to believe his own hype about being a “Jeremiah”. In this scene, UBS Chairman of the Board (played brilliantly by Ned Beatty) reads the riot act (and a few other acts) to Howard Bealed (Peter Finch who won an Oscar for his wonderful performance but died of a heart attack before actually winning the thing!).

It is one of the best pieces of screenwriting EVER. Fight me, if you dare…

Most of the corporations mentioned are no longer players — or even playing, some of them. They’ve been replaced by Amazon and China. But, aside from that? Almost every single word applies.

Bill O’Reilly was not accorded the kindness of such a “sit-down” with Rupert Murdoch. That’s how far gone, O’Reilly was. America’s Big Businesses have officially put the Republican Party on notice.

The GOP now finds itself sitting in the chair Howard Beale sat in while Ned Beatty rails at them. Remember what happens to Howard Beale in the movie? Spoiler Alert: it’s the very same thing that’s going to happen to the GOP. No one will mourn them. Hell, no one will even bother to make the funeral.

The world will be too busy trying to make a buck.

Matt Gaetz Epitomizes A Political Party That Long Ago Turned Into A Frat Party

Go to any large American college or university campus and it’s understood — frat row is where the partying is taken most seriously. Movies like Animal House where debauched frat parties make Roman orgies look tame didn’t come from nowhere. Frat parties are really that debauched. Any time you let male culture run riot — that’s what a fraternity is — pure, unadulterated male culture — there’s enormous potential for bad things to happen. Sports (up until now) have been an extension of male culture — of a men’s locker room into the world at large. The only difference between a frat party and a men’s locker room is beer and clothing. The operating principle is the same: the alphas in the room will set the agenda, the betas will make it happen. If the alphas want someone to laugh at the dumb joke they just made, the betas will guffaw way too long and loudly. If they want someone to witness and approve of an act of bullying, the betas will hold their beer while it’s happening. Male culture, feeding on itself, pushed to its extremes, never suffers from an overabundance of sympathy. It celebrates conquest and cruelty and getting away with it all. It’s the “getting away with it” that truly sets male culture apart.

Male culture expects to “get away with” whatever it’s doing — because it pretty much always has. In male culture’s defense, it’s not entirely its fault. It really is not physically capable of thinking “the right way”.

It’s just a fact of biology that the male brain develops differently from the female brain. Research data is consistent: in general, based on brain function, males tend to excel at motor skills, while women tend to excel at integrating analysis and intuitive thinking. That doesn’t “just happen”. The brain structures that cause this to happen develop during adolescence with female brains developing those essential structures far, far earlier. That’s why adolescent boys regularly do things that seem inexplicably stupid. When asked to explain WHY they drove their bike into a wall or jumped off the roof or got someone pregnant, they can’t tell you why. They honestly don’t know; they really did it “just because” — because they’re an adolescent male and they literally do not yet have the brain structure that would make them stop first to THINK.

Frat parties are the way they are because they’re the feral male mind manifested in reality. The rapiness of the environment isn’t a bug — it’s a feature. And frat parties don’t have to be literal frat parties. The party where SCOTUS Judge Brett Kavanaugh raped Christine Blasey Ford wasn’t a literal frat party but it might as well have been. Frat culture — male culture — was flowing like beer from a keg. If rapists thought they’d get caught every time they raped someone, that fact alone would probably shut most of them down. Their urge to NOT go to prison is more powerful than their urge to rape. That is how the stick works relative to the carrot.

Matt’s fellow Republicans knew some of what Matt was up to. Hell, the investigation into Matt started while Bill Barr still ran the DoJ. The DoJ, apparently, stumbled over text messages incriminating Matt while investigating some pretty egregious shit that Matt’s buddy, Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg was up to. Barr not only approved of the investigation into Matt Gaetz’s role, he thereafter refused to ever be seen in the same place as Gaetz because Gaetz, Barr knew, was that dirty, that corrupt — and that likely to go down in flames. When even Bill Barr refuses to associate with you, your scumbag bona fides will beat anyone else’s hands down.

What gives a young male the notion that he can buy girls, transport them over state lines and have sex with them — all while communicating these illegal acts in ways that are easy to get ahold of? Answer — a culture that’s never punished him for doing the same shit in the past. So far, no one’s accusing Matt Gaetz of rape-rape, just statutory rape. It doesn’t matter how willing Matt’s seventeen year old hook up was, SHE’S SEVENTEEN. He was in his mid-30’s. End of story.

In the case of Matt’s young victim, she wasn’t mature enough to make good decisions (clearly). Matt wanted what he wanted and he made it happen, the law, common sense and his integrity be damned. Matt did not think for two seconds there would be consequences. That’s why he felt empowered. It’s the exact same empowerment the Republican Party feels every time one of their members does something for which they know there should be consequences but never have been. When you get it into your head that celebrating treason is okay — that’s what waving a Confederate flag is — it’s just a short hop to taking that celebration further into, say, sedition or insurrection. When Trump’s mob marched on the Capitol on January 6, they fully expected not to be punished but to be celebrated. As the crowd grew increasingly drunk on racism, hate, bigotry and power lust, they took on a frat party dynamic. The alphas were all up to something. The betas were there to guffaw when told to.

It’s time to end this party — the frat party and the political party masquerading as a frat party.

As Big Business Is Learning — When Your “Customer Base” Is The American Voter, YOU Are The Marketplace’s Bitch

It’s a brave new world for Delta Airlines. And Coca Cola. And Home Depot. And anyone doing business with the state of Georgia while Georgia is being run by democracy-hating traitors. Their problem: the marketplace is the ultimate democracy where people vote with the dollars in their pockets. Popular goods and services get more “votes” than unpopular ones (just like in high school). Even good ideas can die, unloved, if they can’t find (or maintain) their marketplace. Ask Sony about its Betamax video recorder which was technically superior to JVC’s VHS format yet ultimately lost out to in the marketplace. In the marketplace of ideas, JVC won big while Sony lost even bigger. The marketplace made Sony its bitch.

The assumption is, in a crony capitalist system like ours, the money always wins and We The People are only ever its pawn at best. While that is the goal of crony capitalism — to turn the whole country into a kind of glorified “company town” (itself a kind of glorified feudalism) — ironically, the “capitalism” part of the equation is what exposes crony capitalism’s Achilles heel. The whole point of capitalism is to make money dynamic because money didn’t always used to be dynamic like it is today. We take for granted that one can use money to make money but prior to capitialism’s invention, money sat in the same places with the same families forever and ever. Those families — Europe’s royal houses — did not think to “do” anything with their money. Money was land or livestock — or literal gold or silver — with no way to “bank” it. The only way to “grow” money was through direct lending — and lending money was considered unChristian. That’s why Jews got to do it (and be hated for it). Capitalism expanded the “acceptable ways” to both borrow money and profit from borrowing it.

Capitalism also made ideas valuable in a bankable sense. Thomas Edison’s inventions made him rich because he was able to patent them — an idea that recognized the inherent monetary value of good ideas. American democracy — as a salable idea — also has done very, very well. Despite four long years of Trumpism, people still flock to America — or want to because regardless of whatever squalor or hopelessness they live, their one shot out of that lies somewhere within America’s borders (regardless of who’s president). The core concept of America. “All men being equal” was compromised by what the founders meant by “All men”. That was always a terrible mistake, a product of European, male chauvinism.

Fortunately, time and history have begun to save America from itself. The E Pluribus Unum “Good Angel” of our nature has begun to assert itself over the “America Is The White Homeland” bad angel. That bad angel never knew what he was talking about. He still thinks he’s “American Exceptionalism” — well, the money in his pocket that’s always been there. Some of the founders understood that what would ultimately make America exceptional was the fact of its already burgeoning diversity. Nowhere before in the world had a nation formed itself with the promise of self-government. That idea coupled with the willingness of those arriving to work hard as hell to achieve their dreams made America exceptional by filling it with exceptional people from all over the world. That is American Exceptionalism.

For too, too long, all those exceptional people have been muzzled by the white, Christian males who somehow got it into their heads that they were the drivers of the American experiment. Yeah, it’s money that does the talking all right, but it’s not the big money that makes things happen. It’s the little money in every American’s pocket times the number of Americans there are. In American households, how one “votes” that money has been controlled by the household’s women for a while now. The proof? Remember Bill O’Reilly?

O’Reilly used to be Fox News’ cash cow. O’Reilly even survived some serious sexual intimidation allegations to stay at Fox (“Remember the loofah!”). But, at some point, O’Reilly’s sexist behavior achieved a kind of critical mass. The companies that advertised on his show were the canary in that coal mine. The advertisers informed Fox News that their clients — Coca Cola, Ford, Delta Airlines, etc — would no longer advertise on O’Reilly’s show because their customers — Coca Cola, Ford, Delta Airlines, etc — already recognized how much their customers hated O’Reilly and would soon enough stop buying products associated with him out of sheer disgust. Co-branding with Bill O’Reilly became toxic. The house of cards came down in a heartbeat — the 21st Century Fox Board informed O’Reilly he was now an ex-employee.

Big Business has always known who the “boss” is. That’s why they advertise, right? In the “who needs who more?” competition, in time, we can learn to love a competing brand. They can love “other customers” all they like. If those customers don’t buy, so what? Do boycotts work? Hell, yes. So does the threat of a boycott. That’s why the CEO’s of Coca Cola and Delta changed their tune so quickly. While both Coke and Delta have plenty of competition, they both have their market share — the customer base they think of as “theirs”. Take the brand loyalty out of a Coke drinker and you have a Pepsi drinker. Or a Royal Crown fan.

Is Coca Cola: The “Official Soft Drink” of Democracy or of Sedition?

As anyone who’s ever achieved success can tell you — yeah, getting to the mountain top is a job-and-a-half. But, it’s nothing compared to the relentless, quotidian grind of maintaining that success. Big Business craves monopoly because having a monopoly means you don’t have to spend much on marketing or product improvement while maximizing profits. They’d all love to turn America into a giant, feudal “company town”. Good thing some other Americans have a better idea.

Coke and Delta quickly changed their public stance regarding the Republican Party’s blatant attempt to make election theft legal. They felt Bill O’Reilly’s fetid breath on the back of their neck and they didn’t like it one bit.

We The People have considerable power in our hands but only if we use it. Unused power is power that doesn’t exist. It’s the ultimate “put up or shut up”. America’s right wing was so terrified of losing power that they were willing to co-conspire with Russia in order to keep that power. They had long ago given up on keeping power through the strength of their ideas. Aside from them, no one else wants to live in America circa 1850. The majority of Americans keep voting America toward progressivism while its political structures (the Electoral College and the Senate) keep America rooted in the past.

As more voters step from the sidelines and into the electoral game, America (once thought of as “center-right”) becomes increasingly center-left. We’re not actually “becoming” center-left, we’re being REVEALED as center-left. Not the same thing. The big difference between the left and the right has to do with emphasis. Are you “profits over people” or “people over profits”? Conservatives, for the most part, are profit-driven while progressives are people-driven. At the end of the day however, it’s people who drive profits. Take away the people, there’d be no profits.

As we all know, every time we walk into a crowded room (remember those), a game of “Who’s The Bitch” is up and running. Someone in that room is the room’s “bitch” — the one person there who literally everyone else looks down on. We all search that room, hoping like hell we don’t find ourselves staring back as the bitch. But, the painful truth is, it could be us.

Coke and Delta and Home Depot and all those other companies have finally realized that in the current environment, they’re not driving this bus. They’ve made the same old moves — talking “freedom” and “democracy” while paying for politicians bent on destroying them — only to discover too late that those moves don’t fool anyone anymore. Actions, not words, are the receipts. And We The People demand receipts!

Don’t have any receipts? You know how THAT game goes, Big Business, when you don’t have your damned receipt