It’s The Corruption, Stupid!

The “Ragin’ Cajun”, James Carville, coined “(It’s) The economy, stupid!” during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Why would people vote one way(for Bill Clinton) vs the other (for GW Bush)? Back then, in those heady, carefree days (relatively speaking), the economy was our biggest, baddest problem. Oh, the luxury of only having to deal with one mega-crisis at a time! Nowadays — in Donald Trump’s America, every day brings a whole new mega-crisis. Or it seems to. If we’d just pull the lens back as far as we can so we could see Donald Trump, the GOP, election 2016 and election 2020 with the widest possible perspective — we’d see that, really, just like in 1992, we’re only facing ONE mega-crisis: Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party was the GOP’s final and total surrender to the corruption that’s been stalking it… well, forever.

The Republican Party prides itself on being the Big Money Party. Anyone in class today who thinks money doesn’t corrupt? Anyone who doesn’t think that the more money there is the more likely corruption there is? Good. Everyone’s a realist then. That helps.

Politicians and the money that owns them rely on corruption to have their way because relying on the majority of voters to vote for their ideas is pointless. The majority of Americans want the OPPPOSITE of what corrupt Republicans want. That’s why the majority voted the way it did in 2016 and 2020. Let’s stop pretending that the Electoral College reflects anything other than how slavery would vote. In 2016, the Republican Party managed to use both slavery’s vote and a silent vote from Russia to overcome the majority’s will. When you factor in the fact that Russia is and has been waging CYBER WAR against us, you can only conclude that Republicans were SO desperate to win that they even resorted to TREASON.

We The People felt corruption’s grip on us the instant 2016 was called for Trump. Democrats felt (rightfully) cheated of the result THEY’D WON in 2000 when Antonin Scalia stepped in and STOPPED the vote counting in Florida, crafting a mountain of bullshit into an argument that completely contradicted the very originalism he’s been selling from the trunk of his car like hot merchandise. Bush v Gore is the picture portrait of bullshit. Al Gore didn’t concede because he thought he lost to W. He conceded for the good of the country.

In retrospect, OY!

Corruption got us again. It caused us to make a terrible decision; we chose appeasement. Compromise. But, while WE compromised with corruption, corruption did not compromise with us. It simply caused us to NORMALIZE that much more corruption. It caused us to grow that much more cynical about ourselves and our democracy. Want to know why so many Americans went into the streets the moment it became a fact that Joe Biden was President-Elect? Because we’re sick to death of Donald Trump and the corruption he imposed onto our lives.

Remember: we did not vote for Trump. We voted against him. We voted against what he’s doing to us, to our Allies, to the planet.

Our news media needs to stop framing the Donald Trump story from corruption’s point of view as if corruption was just “another way of doing business”. It’s only “another way” if we let it be. If we put our collective foot down every time corruption reared its ugly head, corruption would quickly learn — don’t rear your ugly head (it could get stepped on)! But, when you indulge the boy who cries wolf every time he falsely cries wolf (without ever making him pay a price for doing it), he will cry wolf every chance he gets. If our news media would stop giving credence to the boy crying wolf — if they’d see him for what he is (a fraud) — maybe they’d turn their attention to more important parts of the story.

Like the fact that he’s a traitor.

Conservatives vs Progressives Can Be Summed Up As “Me vs We”

Trumpism is conservatism on steroids (plus copious amounts of snorted powdered Adderall). If one had to sum up Trumpism in one word, it’d be “me”. “Me” is the one country Donald Trump has fealty toward. Well, “Me” and Vlad Putin. But that’s not ideological fealty. Trump isn’t loyal to Putin because he believes in “Putinism”. Rather, it’s the fealty that a crime boss (Putin) demands from his underlings and capos (Trump). “Me” is the core weakness Putin holds over Trump. Putin is exploiting Trump’s absolute adoration of “Me”, Trump’s willingness to indulge “Me”, make “Me” richer even if doing it is illegal or downright treasonous.

Trumpism = Me-ism. And now, so, too do Republicanism and conservatism.

To be fair to conservatives, they do come by their Me-ism honestly. That is, it’s completely organic to who they are. Conservatives love the Libertarian notion of the “rugged individualist” — that “I alone can fix it” guy. They all see themselves as “rugged individualists”. This dovetails nicely with the conservative, institutionalist idea of religion — a neat twist that turns “Do unto others” into “Do what we say or else”. Conservatives all claim to know God’s will better than you (so you better shut up!) That’s because conservatives don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God. So, how could anyone be the “boss of them”?

See how that works?

Conservatives, as their names says, want to conserve. Fair enough. The next logical question: WHAT do conservatives want to “conserve”? Since one can’t conserve the future (it doesn’t exist yet), one is left conserving the present which means conserving the past since that’s what the present reflects — what’s left of the past. THAT is what conservatives want desperately to conserve — as much of the past conserved in the present as possible. Why? Was the past better?

For them, yes. Yes, it was. In the past, conservative values (white, Christian, male) dominated all conversations. “All men are created equal” didn’t mean “all men”. It didn’t mean “all people” either.

For conservatives, the past was infinitely better than they fear the future might be. Which is why they resist change. And progress. Change and progress are antithetical to conservatives and conservatism. That’s not a rap or a judgment. It’s simply a fact. It’s part of the DNA of any conservative argument — resistance to change because of a preference for how it was before.

“How it was before” is a problem for Progressives because “how it was before” was racist, bigoted, misogynist and ignorant. And it’s entirely antithetical to democracy because the majority of Americans aren’t those things. We keep voting against those things but getting the opposite result. It’s like someone was constantly getting in the way of change — of the progress toward real fairness, real justice and a truly level playing field that the majority of Americans want.

Donald Trump pointed out a basic truth that every Republican knows: when more Americans vote, they vote against Republicans and for Democrats because they don’t want what Republicans are selling. Democracy is a marketplace of ideas. In the binary marketplace that is American Democracy, more Americans want to buy Progressive ideas than conservative ideas: a vigorous social safety net, socialized medical CARE (not insurance; insurance doesn’t provide care, it’s a payment mechanism for it) that won’t bankrupt a person (or their family) just because they got sick, UBI, a healthy climate, women’s and minority rights, full LGBTQ participation in American life, a clear separation between Church and State. As Trump put it, if every American voted, Republicans would never win another election.

Exactly so, Donald, exactly so. It’s a testament to how good most Americans are. We want our individual rights respected. But we also recognize that there will always be a dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. If not everyone in the “we” is getting the same “me” treatment? Then it’s like NONE of “we” is getting the “me” treatment. We can’t be truly free until we’re ALL free. Otherwise, we’re just pretending to be “free”.

Even the nature of our protests is different. Most Progressives protests were masked and, at least, had the pandemic’s toll and impact in its head.

Conservative protests?

They’re masked when they must be but you can see “You’re not the boss of me!” burning in their eyes. They’re armed to the teeth. They’re not there to protect anything — other than the scared little boy inside them. As Kyle Rittenhouse was shooting those two UNARMED protesters to death, was he striking blows for freedom? Or was he, down deep, saying “Eff you, man, you’re not taking away whatever it is that I’m so desperately afraid of losing!”

The reason most conservatives fear “we” is because it doesn’t look like them — or what they think “me” should look like: Northern European white people. Christian. Rich.

That’s what conservatives think “American Exceptionalism” is. Them. And their money. They couldn’t be more wrong. American Exceptionalism is spelled out in our motto: “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. Out of many, one. America is the product of diversity. That’s the “PLURIBUS”. The “UNUM” isn’t a bunch of unums making one giant “unum”, it’s an unum borne of the pluribus. “We” has always been essential to the American ideal.

Our mistake thus far has been that we’ve EXCLUDED so many Americans FROM that ideal. Good thing We The People stepped in at the very last second to pluck our democracy back from the selfish, greedy, corrupt conservatives who, frankly, never had much use for it anyway.

There will always be dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. That’s not a bad thing. It’s baked in to our experiment in human self-government. Our duty is to keep the tasting spoon handy. Don’t let the mix get TOO “we” (that will undermine the “me” and we don’t want to do that either).

Maybe we need to reframe our differences. Maybe conservatism isn’t the political opposite of progressivism. Maybe conservatism is an island unto itself. What if we think of “moderation” as the political opposite of progressivism. Rather than “forward v backwards”, what if we thought of the future in terms of “forward v forward with greater deliberation”? After all, whether we like it or not, the future is coming at us. We will face problems in the future that we haven’t even considered yet.

If we don’t anticipate them — by building the future into our plans — then we’ll be caught out when the future arrives. Kinda like the Trump White House prepared America for the pandemic.

See? We are living in a live “Me v We” test tube. “Me” thinking produces sickness and death. “We” thinking does not.

Like there’s really a choice here?

Dear Fellow Progressives: Please Take A Deep Breath — Time And Circumstance Are Now Entirely On Our Side

The moment Joe Biden started announcing cabinet choices, people on the winning side started sniping at each other, having immediately lost all perspective apparently. Perspective says this: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris whipped Donald Trump’s ass (Mike Pence doesn’t enter into it — nobody voted “for” Mike Pence except maybe Mike Pence). They beat them substantially with a coalition of voters covering everything from hard core Progressives like me to moderate (former) Republicans (everyone on the Lincoln Project for example). In politics, nothing is free. Ever.

Let me drop a word here: pragmatism. Have the vision. Keep the vision strong. But recognize that it’s still a process getting there. Obstacles remain. Problems will need to be solved. Emotional responses may feel good at first, but they’re unlikely to produce good, workable responses. And being slaves to theory — that, too, may feel good and justified but if you can’t get enough people to buy the theory, you won’t be getting there. One needs to 1) make the theory palatable (so understand who you’re selling to and how to sell to them), and 2) in the event you can’t sell the whole theory right this second? Go with the flow. Sell what you can today with the caveat that you’re coming back to finish the sale tomorrow. That’s pragmatism: sensible, realistic solutions based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Reality says there’s literally no conservative way out of this mess. It’s conservatism — its greed, it’s power lust — that put us here. They have no idea how to get us out of it. For starters, they don’t even want to. The majority of Americans now believe that without strong, continuing government assistance — cash infusions into their bank accounts — we’re toast. The reason Mitch McConnell and the RW Money stand steadfastly against giving suffering Americans a penny more than they have to is because if Americans saw how Universal Basic Income works (that’s what this government aid would amount to), they’d want it permanently.

That is, they’d understand that a supposedly “socialist” idea is actually just a productive use of THEIR TAX DOLLARS. Instead of using them to make rich guys richer, we’re using OUR TAX DOLLARS to help US. See how that works? That’s “socialism” in a nutshell.

And the RW Money machine is all about transferring the wealth of ordinary Americans into THEIR already full pockets. If Americans realized how simple it was to take BACK the wealth already stolen from them — and then create structures that guarantee they hold onto that wealth (for instance — by NOT going bankrupt just because they or someone in their family got sick), don’t you think they’d demand it? Especially since the money in question IS THEIRS.

As in OURS.

The most important thing that happened — the only thing that really mattered — was putting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris into the White House. Forget, for a moment, everything else — the Republicans possibly holding onto the Senate, the loss of House seats (making the Democratic majority uncomfortably slim), the prospect of Trumpism enduring — and focus on one thing: having the executive branch in our grasp means having the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE in our grasp. It means the Department of Justice can now STOP being Trump’s consigliere and go back to being an actual Department of JUSTICE.

Joe Biden has said he wants to focus on healing the nation — as he should. He’s also said it won’t be up to him if a renewed, functional DoJ chooses to investigate anyone on Team Trump — or in the Republican Party. Of course Joe doesn’t want to see that. But, again, IT WON’T BE UP TO HIM. If you think the people in the DoJ who survived Trump won’t be out for blood? You’re not watching the same movie the rest of us are.

The second law ENFORCEMENT becomes the point of the DoJ, they’ll go at both the crimes Trump committed BEFORE he was POTUS and the crimes he committed while he was POTUS. That’s not speculation. Neal Katyal just said as much on Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline White House show. Imagine, for instance, if Sally Yates gets the top spot at Justice. Sally Yates was the person who ran around warning everyone about how dirty Michael Flynn was. How do you think Sally Yates views Trump pardoning Michael Flynn? Approvingly? Hell, no. She wants justice.

The drip-drip-drip of info coming from inside the White House is going to become a cascade the closer we get to Trump’s official sell-by date. And the instant everyone realizes that they have nothing to fear from any NDA they signed because Trump insisted? They’ll be no turning off the spigot. We are about to be deluged with even more detail about just how big a corrupt traitor Trump has been. Donald Trump is never going to have a “good day” for the rest of his stinking, corrupt, treasonous life.

Once the DoJ starts prosecuting Trump, other shoes will drop. Before too long, the DoJ will reinstate every single criminal investigation that Bill Barr hampered or kneecapped. The FBI will finally begin the counter-intelligence investigation that never happened (because Rod Rosenstein prevented it from happening). The SDNY and the Manhattan DA will expand their investigations not only into Trump but into his children. Without the cushy bubble of the presidency to spare him, Trump will quickly roll up into a bloated orange ball.

The prosecutions won’t just impact Trump and his crime family; they’ll; quickly draw the entire Republican Party into the conversation. If you think Republican corruption makes us feel sick now, just wait till we get the full draught of Republican criminal behaviors.

Six months from now, we won’t think of Republicans the way we do today. We’ll think of them as a bunch of criminals facing increased scrutiny. Guys like Devin Nunes, Ron Johnson and Kevin McCarthy — once placed under oath and grilled Benghazi style — will all become the picture definition of “soft, white underbelly”. Mitch McConnell? If he’s the Senate Majority Leader, he’s going to have legal problems to deal with; screwing with the Biden-Harris agenda won’t be quite as important to him as not dying in federal prison.

The biggest thing to impact how time and circumstance will strengthen the hands of Progressives is the pandemic. We’re about to get hammered. But the winter’s death toll will be placed in Donald Trump’s column not Joe Biden’s. When Spring comes — and the dying slows — and one or more vaccines have begun to circulate and we all feel a sense of order where previously there was chaos — that contrast will play as a victory for Team Biden-Harris. Competence will make for good marketing.

The pressure on Mitch and the Republicans to let Americans have their own tax dollars to keep from starving or becoming homeless will only increase — especially as more Americans starve and face homelessness because Republicans refuse to budge. As we learn more and more about Republican criminality — this won’t be defensible for them. Under assault from all sides, more and more Republicans will fold up their tents.

Universal Basic Income, health CARE (not health INSURANCE) and a paid-for public university college education or comparable job training for those who prefer that are not radical ideas anymore. The only “socialism” that’s been practiced in America has been corporate socialism. Socialism for the rich.

We Progressives deserve to have our vision put front and center. It’s the vision America has been heading toward for a generation at least. Circumstances in the form of a pathogen have flipped the world on its head. Just as the Black Death altered life in Medieval Europe — putting an end to feudalism as a social and economic system — so, too, will COVID-19 end how we do things and start something new.

It’s hard to trust that events will happen the way we think they will. It was inevitable that Trump and the Republicans would fail. There’s simply too many of us and not nearly enough of them to pull this off. One thing we CAN do to help ourselves feel less squirrely as events unfold (albeit too slowly for our liking) is to stop being cynical. When we assume the worst will happen regardless of what we do, we surrender the future to the bad guys. A better answer when shitheads do shitty things? Reply “no”. “No, you are not doing that.” Or “No, you are not getting away with that.” or “No, an immoral shit like you doesn’t deserve to walk around free with the rest of us.”

Remember — it’s part of the Trumpian dynamic to instill panic. But, if the panic is purely an invention then it would behoove us to ignore it and focus instead on the entirely real. Now’s a good time to take another deep breath.

And another. We beat him. We beat them. They know it — that’s why they’re fighting so hard to stop what’s coming next. You see, they know what’s coming. That’s how guilty minds work.

Quick Reminder — The GOP Knew During The 2016 Convention That Donald Trump Was Owned By Russia; They Kept It A Secret

This is from the Washington Post, May 17, 2017: “A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.” What current GOP Leader McCarthy said was “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — one of the fellow GOP leaders present “…instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.””

The Republican family behaved exactly like a mafia family. It was all about protecting “la cosa nostra” — this thing of ours.

I’m curious. Has ANY member of the American press corps EVER asked Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan or anyone who was in that room what they were thinking? Has any reporter or journalist stuck a microphone in their faces and asked “Why didn’t you call the FBI if you thought that?” Or “Why didn’t you call the FBI if you even SUSPECTED it?”

That was their obligation — to tell something. To DO something. Because they had more an an inkling that their presidential nominee was corrupt to his bone marrow. And not just corrupt — TREASONOUSLY corrupt. Perhaps Paul Ryan’s response — let’s keep it a secret — had more to do with all the Russian money they ALL had taken on the down low. Pull a thread on Trump’s Russian dalliance, you might as well pull threads on every one of their dalliances — and there were plenty.

As documented as the Republican knowledge that Trump was dirty is the knowledge that Putin had contemplated cyber war against us for years. Cyber war (or asymmetrical warfare if you prefer) is as much a war as an old fashioned “bombs ‘n bullets” war. If the Russians shut down our power grid today, we’d have to sue for peace tomorrow — on their terms. Hell, the Russians placed themselves inside the Oval Office without firing a shot. On a cost basis alone, Russia’s cyber war against us has been the greatest military victory of all time.

How much money flowed to Republican campaign coffers via the NRA? How much flowed via Russian emigrees whose Russian government pensions suddenly rose from enough money to live on to enough money to cash flow a political campaign? How many Russian contacts did the Trump campaign have — and how many have they worked overtime to hide from us? And why?

Our news media, incapable of aggregating the Donald Trump story, forgot apparently that Donald Trump was the first president EVER to run for re-election having BEEN IMPEACHED for CHEATING in the very election he was running in! And the cheating he was impeached over? It was a replay of the exact kind of “foreign government involvement” in our election as in the 2016 election. Even back in 2016, our news media couldn’t grasp how to report on Trump. They thought “but her emails” was far more important than “Mexicans are rapists”, “Pussy grabbing” and “What’s wrong with making nice to Vladimir Putin?”

It boggles the mind that journalists — still unable to tell the 2016 election story — would be just fine with Democrats “forgiving and forgetting” should the moderates somehow convince everyone else that letting criminals get away with the highest crime against We The People — stealing our votes and the intended political outcome our votes demanded — won’t have permanent, negative consequences. “Both sides do it” journalism has convinced journalists that they can never “judge” anything. Moral v immoral behavior — it’s not for them to say. The president only behaves treasonously in the minds of Democrats. And their accusation is purely political.

Oy.

This happened. This photo. At Helsinki. Way more than a thousand words are being spoken here.

I’m old enough to remember when lunatics like me would get rolled eyes from fellow progressives when we’d utter the word “treason” in reference to Trump. Now it’s part of the landscape. It should be a featured part of the landscape — the fact that the sitting POTUS is a stone cold traitor. It should also be part of the landscape that the entire Republican Party — everyone who’s known or suspected anything nefarious since 2016 — also are traitors. It kinda matters in a cyber war.

And an election.

The Donald Trump Players Presents “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” — Starring Real Life Crazy People

Even crappy reality shows like Donald Trump presidency live and die on the success of their casting choices. And no one has been more “sensitive” to how important casting is to the success of his reality show than Donald Trump. Trump knows that it takes a criminal to play a criminal; actors can only ever pretend. That’s why Trump casts his family, his “friends”, his cronies, the people under his thumb. He knows they know how to “be” corrupt and treasonous without having to pretend. And when it comes to crazy people? Well, you HAVE TO BE crazy to support Donald Trump.

Crazy or corrupt. And both demand a deep dedication to authenticity to effectively pull them off. Good thing Trump’s rolodex is chock-a-block with both crazy AND corrupt.

With that dedication to authenticity in mind — and with little else to do during the transition except make the bad situation he created for America even worse — Team Trump has staged their own production of Ken Kesey’s classic “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. Because crazy people love crazy people.

First up — the lead — Randall P. McMurphy — the character inhabited by Jack Nicholson (rather than the other way around)…

Since he “alone can fix it” (having broken it irreparably first), Trump has taken the star role for himself. Thing is, Trump will get bored and lose focus about ten seconds after the curtain goes up. Just to get through the table read, we’re going to need a few “back up” McMurphy’s. Good thing that pantry is stocked to its rafters.

Also in the running for McMurphy (in no particular order) —

James Woods as McMurphy…

Or, Jon Voight as McMurphy…

Or Dennis Quaid as McMurphy…

Now, I know there are some who’d think “No, wait — if we want crazy playing crazy then the crazy brother is RANDY QUAID…

Ah, but here’s where Trump’s genius for keeping us on our toes comes into play. Randy Quaid gets cast as BILLY BIBBET (played by the excellent Brad Dourif in the feature)!

Same kind of “stunt casting” goes for the role of Chief Bromden (Will Sampson in the movie) —

This is a radical departure. In fact, it’s nuts. That’s why it works! Gary Busey plays the Chief!

The rest of the crazies on the ward —

— will be played by a rotating cast of has-beens, never-wassers and talentless fellow travelers — Stephen Baldwin, Stacey Dash and Anthony Sabato, Jr…

That leaves one actor as yet uncast (Scott Baio) and one part uncast.

For Nurse Ratched —

— think KIRSTIE ALLEY!
And, last — and very definitely least — there’s the “incomparable” SCOTT BAIO.
Ummmmmm, Scott? Since you never did have the acting chops (Joanie may have loved Chachi but one thing Chachi didn’t love was knowing how to act), we won’t be taxing you now. But, we do have a piece of wardrobe ready for ya…
And scene!

In A Negotiation, All The Power Lies In “No” As In “NO, Donald Trump, You AREN’T POTUS Anymore Cos We FIRED YOU

Democrats are, historically, poor negotiators because they’re too willing to compromise. They ache to use the word “yes”. Republicans, OTOH, are good negotiators — not because they’re good at negotiating (they’re not), but because there’s one word in their vocabulary that’s not in the Democrats’: “NO”. The Republicans are perfectly happy to say “no” and refuse to budge regardless of the pain it causes or even how it undercuts their own best interests. Republicans think they’re being Machiavellian. They’re not. They’re being assholes. It’s not the same thing.

Take Mitch McConnell. Is Mitch a great negotiator? No — he’s a guy good at saying “No.” It doesn’t make him a great negotiator because he gets what he wants while all the Democrats around him don’t — especially when you consider what Mitch wants and what the rest of America isn’t getting. We The People are the point of the exercise in self-government. Mitch is always negotiating against us — using our needs (and the urgency of those needs) as a tool. Again — in the context of a government of the people, by the people and for the people — that makes Mitch a pirate, not a deal-maker.

Donald Trump — also a terrible, terrible negotiator. Has anyone had more tells in the whole history of terrible negotiating?

Trump’s one reliable tool — the only tool on his belt: the word “no”. “No, America isn’t a democracy anymore”… “No, America isn’t going to be the greatest experiment in human self-government ever anymore”… “No, America isn’t going to be a place anybody except white, Christian, racist bigots wants to live in anymore”.

Or, to put it the way Trump’s used to hearing it: “Nyet”.

The news media definitely doesn’t understand the concept of saying “no”. That’s why Trump has all the power in his relationship with the press while they have literally none. Like a belligerent five year old who refuses to climb out of his car seat, Trump is holding us up while all we want to do is go back inside our house. Meanwhile, traffic behind us is backing up. Horns are blaring. Tempers and temperatures are spiking.

Now that Trump has no more cards to play — he will no longer be POTUS come none Eastern time January 20, 2021 — the only play left is to toss the cards in the air, rip them up as they land and then, on the way out of the room, turn over the whole card table. Trump has no choice but to take this train to the end of the line. The moment he stops being president, his legal troubles will begin in earnest. So too will legal issues begin to haunt every single Republican. See something, say something. See something, say nothing?

That’s the glaring issue facing the GOP: they’ve known since the get-go that Trump had an unnatural relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said so out loud during the 2016 Republican convention when he walked into a room of Republican muckety-mucks and said “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Good citizenship would have demanded that someone in the room get the FBI on their cell phone to report what they just heard. No one did. Instead, as then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan put it, we “…keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

If Paul Ryan had been an honest man, if the Republicans had been an honest political party, no one in that meeting would have thought such a thing. But they aren’t so they didn’t. The Republicans surrendered the power in their relationship with Trump a long, long time ago.

The press did, too. They surrendered the power of “no” when they stopped asking Trump what he meant by “Mexicans are rapists”. Had the news media dug in its heels right then and there — and said “NO, WAIT!” and then refused to follow Trump (into “pussy grabbing”) — then THEY might have gained the power of “no”.

Americans need to learn this valuable lesson from the Republicans. Yes, we all want to and need to get along together. But compromising with the very people who have betrayed you is a fool’s errand. That’s why Republicans never do it. They may be ignorant, deranged and dangerous but they’re not fools.

We The People have got to stop negotiating with Trump — especially when it’s not even a genuine negotiation. It’s a hostage-taking which means we only ever wind up negotiating with ourselves. The last person we ever want to negotiate with is ourselves.

We don’t need to negotiate with Trump anymore. We fired him. By a lot. It’s over.

The correct answer therefore to literally anything Trump does or says about staying in power a second longer than necessary is “what are you even talking about, old man? NO”.

Remember this look on Moscow Mitch’s Treason Turtle face when the late Senator John McCain stuck a shiv in him when he thought he had Obamacare defeated?

That’s Mitch reacting in real time — with actual human emotions — to having the word “no” shoved down his throat. Let’s promise ourselves to make Mitch revisit that moment repeatedly throughout the rest of his treasonous life. Every time Mitch dreams of being a free man again? “NO, Mitch, NO.”

Trump loves saying “You’re fired” because it’s the ultimate “no”: “no, you don’t work here anymore”.

Hey, Don-Don, this is America speaking: “You’re fired. YOU DON’T WORK HERE ANYMORE”. Wow… saying “no” to Donald Trump could be habit forming. That’s a habit I’ll gladly take up.

Please Pity The Conservative Male — If He Had Confidence In Himself, He Wouldn’t Be So Conservative — Or Gullible

Ignore whatever political party a Donald Trump “belongs to”. He was a Democrat when he did business in Manhattan because that was more useful than being a Republican. Pure cynicism. The same goes for Trump running as a Republican. But then, it was completely cynical of the Republican Party to hitch THEIR wagon and their future to someone they KNEW going in was corrupt and a traitor. Donald Trump epitomizes Republicanism in all its cynical glory. But “Republican” is just a label. Under that icing, they’re all conservatives — and their flaws are conservative flaws.

Bullies like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Stephen Miller, Lindsey Graham and pretty much anyone who sticks that “R” next to their names are, above all, weak-assed MEN (or women who love them or who aspire to be like them). Something in their Y chromosome has irreparably weakened their manhood and personhood. They really do think they alone can “fix it”. That’s delusion. The only thing they can fix is an election. We have receipts to prove it.

A person — male or female — who has faith in themselves and their ideas doesn’t need to shove them down other peoples’ throats against their will. Good ideas persevere over time. A leader who has faith in himself has faith not only in himself but in the nation he’s leading. He sees himself as the epitome of its values. Of all its potential. He’s not essential to our success but he sure could help us get there a whole lot quicker. And that’s when he becomes “essential”. But to become “essential”, first, he’d have to have the confidence and the patience that confidence allows.

Ask any conservative this simple question: “What do you want to conserve?” As a proud Progressive, I can tell you quite specifically what I want for us as a nation — what I want us to progress toward. Conservatives are just as name-specific in their mission. Conservatives want to conserve. Fair enough.

We’re entitled to know WHAT they want to conserve. It can’t be the future. It can only be the present — and therefore however much of the past remains conserved in the present. Conservatism — by its nature and by its name — aspires to keep us where we are culturally and politically. To most conservatives, where we are is already a thousand miles beyond where they want us to be. Defenses have been breached, walls toppled, sacred cows chopped to bits. That’s made most conservatives desperate.

Donald Trump’s refusal to accept defeat is a criminal trying to keep out of prison. As for the rest of the Republicans? Why are THEY going along with it? Part of it is that same need to not die in federal prison. But part of it is the Grand Plan Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican muckety-mucks bought into — a state of permanent minority rule shoved down the majority’s throat via a hijacked judiciary, a permanently crippled Senate and an executive branch Republicans can always game out of a Democrat’s hands.

Think of all the Republican males who honestly believe Donald Trump is a patriot. Who honestly believe the majority of Americans must have voted for him (and any other result is fraudulent). Who refuse to do the job they took an oath to do — because of their allegiance to the only POTUS ever to run for re-election in the very election he was IMPEACHED for cheating in.

There are plenty of moderate voices out there — socially progressive but fiscally conservative. They, too, want the best for America and every American. They worry — legitimately — about how we pay for it. That’s a fair argument that we will need to have going forward. At least we’re all pulling toward the same goal if only via different paths through the maze. These former Republicans aren’t trying to drag America back to those “glorious 50’s” — the 1850’s. They want us to move forwards responsibly and with more deliberation. That’s where the dynamic tension between us will come from.

Again — that’s a reasonable argument that reasonable people can have.

The strange thing about men who lack confidence in themselves? They can’t be reasonable. They’re in crisis mode 24/7 because they can’t trust what they think. They need constant verification — from their children, from their wives and lovers, from their bosses — from the men who seem to possess the very confidence they lack.

But, remember — a man lacking confidence is a poor judge of everything — including other men (especially other men he thinks are confident). Odds are those other men also are struggling with confidence issues. A confident man doesn’t peacock about on his horse — doing it purely for show. Like a peacock.

And confident men don’t look like THIS either.

Imagine a man who puts his confidence in another man who looks like Donald Trump does. Who speaks like Trump and thinks like Trump and acts like Trump. Imagine the lack of perspective it takes to equate anything Trump says or does with “manliness”.

Barack Obama is more manly when just standing around, waiting than Donald Trump is doing literally ANYTHING. That’s because being “manly” means being “human” first.

If you have confidence in your humanity, that becomes the foundation on which you build not only your values but your day-to-day life. You don’t need your voice to dominate the mix but you have faith that your voice will, in time, be heard — especially after you do the hard work of using your voice. To get trust, you have to give trust. And then you have to demonstrate your worthiness to maintain that trust.

That can be hard for men with secrets. Those secrets (all betrayals of one kind or another — THAT’S WHY THEY’RE SECRETS!) sap a man’s confidence. The secret and its destructiveness are bigger than they are. It gets harder still for the conservative male because his biggest secret of all is that he only gets his way politically via bamboozlement.

Again — pity the poor conservative man who has to sell people ideas they don’t want and so has resorted to lying to them about his ideas or, worse, has resorted to lying about everything in a desperate attempt to get what he wants. Pity him for what’s coming. It’s going to make a mess of what was left of his confidence.

A Presidency Is Like A Four-Year Story Cycle — And America Is Done, Done, DONE With The Donald Trump Story

We didn’t need to preview “The Donald Trump Presidency” to know it was going to be a double-barreled dumpster fire that could only end horribly. Everything about the prequel to Trump’s presidency — his life — suggested he was a terrible businessman, a terrible husband, a terrible father, a terrible American and an even worse human being. His candidacy did not change one iota of our assessment. If anything, Trump’s presidency has proven that we underestimated his awfulness. By a factor of a million.

The Donald Trump story is about greed and malfeasance and corruption and treason. It’s about piggery and power lust. It’s about bullying and bullshit replacing common decency and stone cold truth. It’s about one of our two political parties finding enough common ground with a man they KNEW was treasonous to make him their presidential nominee anyway. It’s about bad guys running amok because the good guys let them for so long. Or, maybe that’s because the news media equated bad guys with good guys since “both sides do it”.

Nothing about it makes sense. It’s like a rabbit hole designed by a dunderhead. It was never going to make sense anyway but now, it’s completely incomprehensible.

What the hell is THIS?

Even the news media — incapable of judging Trump despite the wall of immorality he presented every day of his presidency — has given up on any pretense that this isn’t “bonkers” — a word CNN used to describe Trump. America — by a margin of SIX MILLION VOTES & COUNTING — voted to go another way (the way we actually voted to go four years ago!) We all agreed: it’s time to turn the channel on this show because it sucks.

Most Americans enjoyed the Barack Obama story. We survived the George W. Bush story but only just. The Donald Trump story started off bonkers and then got steadily crazier.

It’s taken “bonkers” to places even “bonkers” had never been to.

That’s one more feature the Republican Party to add to its “brand” (in addition to “CORRUPT”, “RACIST”, “MISOGYNIST”, “BIGOTED” and “TREASONOUS”) — “BONKERS”. Thanks anyway, GOP — We The People have had our fill of bonkers. We’re moving onto healthier fare.

The Republican Playbook Is Now The Trump Playbook: That’s Why They’re Accusing Democrats Of The Very Crime THEY Are Guilty Of…

Want to know the stone cold proof that Republicans are using (and probably have been using) voting machines to steal elections? They’re now accusing Democrats of doing it — without a lick of proof. Because there isn’t any. But — here’s the point — when the Democrats (a functional Department of Justice functioning again) begin to investigate what exactly happened in 2016 and in this election and they focus their attention on Republican voting machine fraud? The Republicans will claim it’s pure retaliation.

See how that will work? When the criminals finally get accused of their crime? They’ll claim the accusation is entirely political when, in fact, it’s not political at all.

If our news media hadn’t instilled the bullshit idea that “both sides do it” (they absolutely do not), such a hacky move would fail right off the bat. But, that’s the “genius” of the Trump playbook. It relies on the news media’s inability to focus, their love of jingly-jangly keys and squirrels, their refusal to approach the subject with an ounce of perspective. Remember in 2016, during one of the debates when — after Hillary Clinton accused Trump of being a “Russian puppet”? Remember how Trump responded?

“YOU’RE the puppet”. Uh huh. Who looks like a “puppet” in THIS now infamous photo?

Ya think we’ll ever see the “notes” from the FIVE SECRETIVE MEETINGS Trump had with Vladimir Putin? Maybe we will on the day Putin decides to burn Trump — and dumps EVERYTHING onto our heads — every bit of Republican collusion with Russia’s cyber war on us. Imagine the chaos THAT would cause internally.

Remember the last time a transition played like this one’s playing? Of course not. It’s never happened before. Hell, Barack Obama KNEW he was turning the government over to a criminal (and a traitor) but the transfer of power was bigger than him. See, both sides DON’T think like Republicans think. Only Republicans think like Republicans. They aren’t playing a game, interfering with the transfer of power, they’re playing FOR KEEPS. Because they have no choice.

Trump’s playbook is a criminal’s playbook. All its plays are meant to circumvent the law (or break it entirely) so as to get richer, richer and richer. The Republicans had no objection to that playbook — so long as they got their cut and Power went to them. The point of the exercise for them is permanent minority rule. If the majority of Americans get to have a say? It’s just like Trump said — Republicans won’t win another election.

As I wrote here, it wouldn’t take a grand conspiracy of Republicans to use voting machines to literally steal elections. While the Republicans are accusing Democrats of FLIPPING votes, that’s not the smart way to win via internet-connected voting machine. The Republicans’ problem is they have zero receipts. There would be receipts if votes had flipped. Well — correction — if those machines spit out paper receipts that a voter could check — the voter could catch the mistake. As happened in Mississippi.

If machines beyond that one polling place started acting the same way — flipping votes from Republican to Democrat or Democrat to Republican — red flags would have gone up. They didn’t. That’s not how the Republicans cheated.

Now, remember: the companies that make most of our voting machines — Diebold, ESS, Dominion — they’re all owned by Republicans. Proud Republicans who donate to political campaigns (a clear conflict of interest). But it gets “conflictier”. There are Republican politicians ADVISING these companies and even sitting on their boards of directors. Sorry, but assurances from people that conflicted — with a history of ignoring conflicts of interests — do not get a pass.

Instead of flipping votes, the Republican play has been to pad their numbers. We don’t know how long Republicans have been doing this but even a cursory glance at, say, Mitch McConnell’s county-to-county vote totals makes you think something is beyond rotten in the State Of Kentucky. Though there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in Kentucky, though county-after-county has Moscow Mitch winning not only all the Republican votes but big chunks of the Independent and Democratic votes too. Mitch’s approval rating in KY is around 18%. That does not fit with Independents and especially Democrats crossing over in huge numbers to vote for Mitch. And yet…

Mitch won 15% of Black voters, far higher than your typical Republican. He won people who make more than $100,000, and people who make less than that. He won 56% of men and 59% of women.

Racist, old misogynist Mitch McConnell got nearly 60% of Kentucky’s women? Bullshit. Stick a microphone in the face of a few and maybe we’ll begin to believe it. Those women don’t exist in reality though. They were created inside a voting machine.

Here’s now it works: the code says something like “for every tenth Republican vote, add one”. So, ten votes becomes eleven, twenty becomes twenty-two, thirty becomes thirty-three et cetera. The machine is adding TEN PERCENT to the Republican’s vote total with almost NO WAY TO VERIFY whether or not actual voters made all those votes.

Their historical and relentless lack of transparency is troubling. Their need to win elections at all costs is even more troubling. Their current behavior — trying openly to toss the will of the people aside in favor of their blatant theft — cements the certainty that this is exactly what the Republican Party is doing.

In the Donald Trump cheating playbook, one never brings receipts. Why would one? Any receipts (if they’re legit) can only screw you. That’s probably why Republicans NEVER bring receipts. It’d be like negotiating against yourself. And losing badly.

The Republican Party has now set itself squarely in opposition to democracy and especially OUR democracy. Can we please, please, please accept what they’re telling us? Their playbook doesn’t include allowing Democrats political power ever again. It’s understandable. The moment the Democrats are back in power (as we’re about to be), the Republican Party is going to have endless legal problems.

Good. It couldn’t happen to a “nicer” bunch of raping & pillaging pirates. Republic

Since “Republican” Now Equals “Trump”, Non-Trumpist Republicans Need To Re-Brand; I’m Here To Help

As much as they suck at governing, Republicans excel at marketing. Remember “Mission Accomplished”? The only thing “accomplished” was hanging that banner. While Americans vote with their hopes and dreams, Republicans only ever deliver smoke and mirrors. Missions UNaccomplished. Skies NOT blue. Plenty of children left behind. The words promise plenty. Too bad they’re all as hollow as Donald Trump’s heart. Hollow because corrupt — and corruption is what binds Trump to each and every Republican.

The fact is, Trump epitomizes Republicanism, its every cynical, greedy, power-mad excess cranked up to eleven. That’s why Republicans — and the republic — are now hurtling toward the mission Republicans have ALWAYS wanted to accomplish: a state of permanent minority rule. Republicans are about to learn a harsh, harsh lesson. The criminal mojo that worked for Trump his whole life is about to stop working.

For four years, every Republican benefited from the fact that Trump gets away with everything by themselves getting away with almost everything. The thing is, those around Trump did NOT get away with everything like Trump does because they’re NOT Trump. Republicans have forgotten: what worked for him would never work for anyone else. Without Trump — and his corrupt, befuddling sorcery — the backstop Republicans have grown accustomed to is gone. They just don’t realize it yet.

But Trump does. He’s even said it in private, back stage. He’s worried about going to jail and he bloody well should be. Because he IS going to jail. One way or another. And the process that puts him in jail will be as highly entertaining as it is revelatory.

We’ve forgotten ourselves how the world works when we have even a semi-functional Department of Justice — that’s how perverted our view of justice has become with Bill Barr at the DoJ’s helm. In addition to attacking the pandemic head on as they hit the ground, Team Biden also must attack corruption head on because corruption threatens the effort to attack the pandemic.

Even with some in the American news media still determined that “both sides do it”, most Americans — the majority of us — see clearly that, really, only ONE SIDE “does it”. Only one side made Donald Trump their candidate and thus their standard-bearer. Only one side made a Devil’s bargain with Russia — and Russian money — in order to win the 2016 election. Only one side has resisted oversight with religious zeal — as if they had something to hide. Only one side refuses still to acknowledge the decision We The People just made about our future leadership.

To call oneself a “Republican” now is to call oneself a “Trumpist”. That won’t change tomorrow. In fact, the fact that Republicans made themselves the Party Of Trump is going to be the brush all future political campaigns paint all future Republicans with. If they WANT to be “The Party Of Trump”, they’re good to go! Voters will understand their choice. But if a Republican wants voters to see them as something other than a Trumpist?

You can’t “call yourself” a Trumpist and not expect people to think you’re a Trumpist. Regardless of whatever nuances YOU apply to the word, the rest of us see zero nuance. We only see Trump. Ask the Coca Cola company what happens when you try to nuance “Coke” with “New”. However the Coca Cola company perceived themselves or wanted their customers to perceive them — they got the opposite. They got confusion — and then anger, resentment and customers turning to Pepsi or RC.

The “Republican” brand is about to be as dead as the “Whig” brand. The problem: we still need those people we used to call “Republicans”. Not the Trumpists, of course, the normal people. We still need their voices of moderation to counter balance ours — which are about to send the country heading hard to the left. Rest assured, whatever resistance Mitch McConnell thinks he’s going to present will be undermined by Mitch’s legal problems. He’s not going to be worried about blocking anything Joe Biden’s doing; he is going to be worried about saving his own bony, white, Treason Turtle ass.

Also — I believe we’re going to learn that all the Republican-manufactured voting machines (the voting machine manufacturers are all Republicans, Republican donors and their boards are all loaded with Republican politicians) have been padding Republican vote totals for YEARS. When a fully functioning Department of Justice begins pulling the thread of Republican Corruption, that garment will unravel faster than a Trumpian lie. We will see Trump, the Republican Party, the Republican leadership and Republicanism bare-assed naked.

Every revelation about greed, corruption, cynicism — and especially treason — will sledgehammer the Republican Brand further. By the time we get to the 2022 mid-terms, Team Biden will have 1) mitigated the worst of the pandemic, 2) eased the economic hurt most Americans are now feeling, 3) restored order and rational thinking to our political process and 4) begun to uncover whole mountains of criminal behavior. To call oneself a “Republican” while running for office would be like saying “Hey, never mind that I may be a criminal myself — since I run with criminals — vote for ME!”

In an environment where integrity and caring about the Commonweal are the norm, good people will want to be perceived as having integrity and caring.

All those good, former-Republicans are going to need a new brand to describe themselves to the American voter. I have a helpful suggestion. A real one.

The problem with calling yourselves “conservative” is that the word gives away too much. As a Progressive, my politics are all geared toward progress — toward meeting the future’s challenges head on with new, outside-the-box solutions. Conservatives are no different. Their politics are all geared toward “conserving” — just like their name says.

The question is “WHAT do conservatives want to conserve?” Obviously it can’t be the future. You can’t conserve what isn’t. Conservatives want to conserve what IS. How we are now — because it still holds on to the bits of how we WERE that conservatives REALLY want to conserve. Ask any conservative what they want to conserve and, ultimately, they’ll reveal that the thing they want to keep alive is the past.

Tradition’s important and all but — in a rapidly changing world, tradition can be dangerous because it’s based on old knowledge that new knowledge might contradict. If they try to bleed you in a hospital emergency room? Say no! Their medical text books are out of date.

And, really, these moderate Republicans aren’t conservatives anyway. Most of them are social Progressives with a Methodist’s view of money. Circumstances — a dissolving economy — are going to force Progressive solutions on us. The cash Team Biden will use to flood the economy is very much a form of Universal Basic Income. We’ll witness ourselves how cash flowing America from the bottom up works far, FAR better than trickling money down from the top ever could work. Even after we’ve wrestled the pandemic to the ground, more pandemics are coming; we have no idea what pathogens a thawing permafrost will release. In a world where we’re as healthy as the least healthy among us — it only takes one person to start a pandemic raging (hello, COVID19!), socialized medicine can’t be a pipe dream. It needs to be a fact of life.

Yes, yes, yes — what Progressives like me want to do will be expensive. Americans will pay more in taxes at the end of the day. But they’ll get something valuable for the money. And the wealthy will pay far more than they do now because they can afford to but — more importantly — because it is their obligation as citizens of this country. Don’t like the responsibility? You don’t have to be a citizen. You can take your chances with your money elsewhere.

Hey, though Trump paid virtually no taxes to America, he obligingly paid hefty taxes to China — because he feared what would happen if he DIDN’T pay his taxes to China.

See? How does the other side counter “corruption” arguments? “Be more conservative” won’t sell. How about “Let’s be more moderate”?

Moderation may not be progress’s diametric opposite (regress), but it is the perfect alternative to “Let’s Do This Now!” Moderation says “Let’s take a deep breath and make sure we’re making the right decision for the most people”. There’s nothing wrong with making Progressives bring their receipts with them. By all means — please check our work. Hell, I bet that while checking our work, these new “moderate former-Republicans” will innovate solutions that Progressives didn’t think of. Those solutions may not get Progressives everything they want but then welcome to democracy.

America is best when it’s moderates are most dynamic — when they’re taking the best ideas and knitting them together into workable solutions. And think how sensible “moderation” will sound going forward. Calling oneself “Moderate” — or “The Moderation Party” would be a bold, direct announcement of who these former Republicans are. With its mission statement baked into its name, a “Moderation Party” would be incredibly attractive to a lot of Americans.

Maybe there’s a better, sexier word than “moderate”. It won’t cut to the end of the chase like “moderate” does. Conservatives won’t go away any time soon though their numbers will dwindle as conservatism takes residual damage from Republicanism’s fall. Ironically, their voice will sound increasingly extreme, making moderation — or a “Moderation Party” that much more sane-sounding.

Please, at least take my suggestion under consideration, moderates. Call yourselves something other than “Republican”. Most of you already do call yourselves something different — “Former Republican”. Let’s find you something you can be proud to call yourselves not as a reaction but as a statement of faith and purpose.

This Progressive is happy to say out loud: We need YOU.