At The End Of The Day, This Is A Story About Treason

The Republican Party is no longer behaving like a political party; they’re behaving like criminals with a political purpose: permanent minority rule. Make no mistake, the white people behind this are an extreme minority of white people but they are attempting to cage a diverse and woke majority. This will fail — and fail horribly for the perps — because they’ve crossed so many lines to get us here to this moment of crisis. What Texas Republicans just did to Roe v Wade — and every woman in America — crossed a thousand lines all in one fell swoop. Whatever else happens in 2022, Democratic engagement will not disengage or let up; you can’t TAKE AWAY rights (especially when you do it so dishonestly) and get away with it. You just can’t; America’s women simply won’t let the GOP do it to them. And, we have to remember: the entire abortion argument itself is a cynical repurposing of racism (just like the Republican Party’s perverse engagement with Russia — going back to before Trump was even nominated — was a cynical decision to collaborate with our literal enemy — during war time — in order to seize power). None of that is hyperbole. It all actually happened — is happening still.

The Republican Party stands outside the law now — defiantly — because they know the truth will NOT set them free. The Truth — once the American People learn it — will send almost the entire Republican Party to federal prison. That’s not hyperbole either — at least it shouldn’t be. Any country that allows insurrectionists, seditionists or traitors to get away with it won’t be a country for very much longer. If we don’t punish people bent on destroying our democracy, we are telling those people “better luck next time”; and we’ve guaranteed there will be a next time. One could argue that one of the reasons a Donald Trump could happen is because we never punished Richard Nixon. Sure, we punished many of those around him, but we never punished “Nixonism” — that particularly vile Republican belief that “if the president does it, it’s not illegal”.

That was the takeaway for Nixonians Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater. Because Nixon “got away with it” (having to quit was not a punishment, it was a requirement), it invited the low level perps to begin plotting anew.

Conservatism in America is tied to whiteness because that’s what white conservatives want to conserve — America’s “whiteness”. America, as I’ve written before, remains a great idea poorly executed. Either “All men are created equal” actually means “everybody is created equal under the law” or we’re doing it wrong. The reason conservatives love originalism is because originalism wants us to believe that we should understand “All men are created equal” only the way the “founding fathers” understood it. Pretty convenient, huh?

The Southern states built their entire economy on the back of slave labor. Slave labor, above all, is STOLEN labor. While plantation owners had to bear the cost of housing, feeding and clothing their slaves (the cost of doing slave business), obviously that cost pennies compared to paying agricultural labor a fair wage. That, really, is the south’s argument. They couldn’t have existed economically without stolen labor. Slavery fed into the bullshit notion that “All men are created equal” meant only white men. It was a kind of bookkeeping trick to call slaves three-fifths of a man; it also deliberately undermined their humanity. It’s much easier to buy and sell human beings when you don’t see them as human.

At some point, as the Reagan years waned, the right wing money saw the demographic handwriting on the wall. America was diversifying more rapidly than white people were making white babies. While white people were reliable Republican voters, the same couldn’t be said of most non-whites. Democracy, ultimately, is a numbers game. The majority gets its way — except when they don’t. That’s what Republicans figured out as a survival instinct. The current GOP — though they share a name with The Party Of Lincoln, aren’t that party. I refer you to Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party” to set you straight on that. Nixon cemented the swap when he incorporated the Dixiecrats into the Republican Party as his “southern strategy”. The Dixiecrats were all racist southern Democrats — leftovers from a Democratic Party that opposed Lincoln. In point of fact, in terms of their stated ideals, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have completely swapped names and places since Lincoln was POTUS.

When Teddy Roosevelt left the Republican Party, all vestiges of progressivism went with him. The GOP quickly became the party of big business instead of big ideas. The extreme corruption of a Warren Harding erupted like Teapot Dome oil, spattering everything with its rot. That preference for profits over people persists because profits equal power.

Newt Gingrich understood that the majority of Americans were evolving into a more cohesive, diverse nation. He couldn’t tolerate that because of the political and power implications and so declared a culture war aimed at “the left”. If you consider that when more Americans vote they vote against Republicans? Newt really directed his culture war at the majority of Americans (per McKay Coppins in the Atlantic in November 2018) : “For their party to succeed, Gingrich went on, the next generation of Republicans would have to learn to “raise hell,” to stop being so “nice,” to realize that politics was, above all, a cutthroat “war for power”—and to start acting like it.”

“A cutthroat war for power”. Sound horrifyingly familiar? Yeah — the phone call IS coming from inside the house!

We have to ask: what were Republicans willing to do to wage that cutthroat war for power? Were they willing to cheat? Were they willing to lie to the American electorate? Were they willing to commit treason even?

Obviously the answer to all three questions is yes. That’s why we’re here. It started “innocently enough” with mere voter suppression — poll taxes and intimidation to keep Black voters from voting. While both sides have gerrymandered, only the Republicans have needed to as a matter of survival. Gerrymandering’s whole point is to draw district lines in such a way so as to circumvent the will of the majority by giving a minority undue power. In Wisconsin, for example, gerrymandered districts mean “Democrats need to out-perform the GOP by closer to 9 or 10 points statewide to have a good shot at winning an Assembly majority” — even though they are the majority of voters in Wisconsin! When is a majority not a majority? When a minority gets to control them.

As for lying to the American electorate — what else can we call a political party attempting to re-cast an insurrection as a heroic act of patriotism? Sorry, Republicans, but you can sharpie “patriotism” all over what happened on January 6. What happened that day was a massive crime that we’ve only just begun to prosecute (starting at the bottom where every good Rico prosecution should begin).

Allying with Russia — now, that was an innovation. That was the Republican Party thinking “outside the box”. I’m willing to accept that plenty of professional Republicans — Lindsey Graham, for example — were every bit as “anti-Trump” as guys like Lindsey Graham said they were —

And yet, like Lindsey, these anti-Trumpers became the most pro-Trump. In a corrupt environment when you know (from experience) that the Republican-owned electronic voting machine makers can be relied upon for help (in the form of ballot padding), it doesn’t pass the smell test that long-time pros like Lindsey really worry about voters. Lindsey didn’t suddenly become pro-Trump because he suddenly saw the light. If Lindsey saw anything, it was more likely the Kompromat Russia was holding. I do not know for certain if Lindsey has any sexual peccadilloes that a hostile, kompromat-loving foreign power could exploit, but I would bet cash money that Lindsey does and Russia has.

We know — because the Washington Post reported it — that current GOP leader Kevin McCarthy himself KNEW (okay, to be fair, he “suspected”) that Russia had compromised Donald Trump. As he entered a meeting of GOP leadership in June 2016 (a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be POTUS), Kevin said out loud (it was recorded and the Post reporter heard the recording) “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Strangely, no one in the room reacted with horror. No one said “Whaaaat? Kevin, dude, are you sure about that?” No one called the FBI to voice their concerns.

Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan counseled his fellow Republicans to keep this terrible secret a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family”, is how he put it. I guess by “family, Ryan meant “mafia family”.

While this was happening, Russia was flooding the GOP with money. They used the NRA (and their very talented agent Maria Buttina). They poured money into Republican PACS using various means (including Russian retirees living in America whose monthly benefits from Russia suddenly increased significantly). That money went to Republican candidates. And, as we also know, Russia also was working very hard behind the scenes to undermine America’s faith not just in our democracy but in the truth itself.Let’s add one more element to this mix: the news media’s inability to see, understand or report the true nature of Donald Trump’s takeover of the GOP. That happened (is still happening) because the news media — for reasons we’ll have to investigate — refuses to aggregate the Trump story. They refuse to even speak the truth about him which is weird because so much of the truth about Trump is already in the public domain. Remember Fusion GPS — the company that got hired by the Washington Free Beacon’s owners during the 2016 Republican primaries (they were Marco Rubio supporters) — to do oppo research on Trump? When he testified before Congress about how and why Fusion hired Chris Steele to look into Trump’s Russia connections, Fusion’s co-founder Glenn Simpson explained how they began the assignment by doing their due diligence.

Fusion, Simpson testified, got ahold of every piece of publicly available material they could on Trump — newspaper and magazine articles, radio and TV appearances, books and legal documents. What they saw there — in information ANYONE could put together — convinced them that Trump had been laundering Russian mob money in his now bankrupt Atlantic City casinos. THAT was why they hired Steele — he had the best Russian contacts of anyone outside Russia, having run the MI6’s respected Russia desk. Steele’s dossier was raw intel and needed to be understood as such — something far beyond our news media’s capabilities. Still, even that raw intel painted a vivid picture of Russian intelligence planting their hooks deeply into Donald J. Trump.

It’s no wonder the Republicans have obstructed justice every way they could to shield Trump’s relationship with Russia from any real examination. The second any sort of real investigation begins — like the counter intelligence investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia that Rod Rosenstein killed — we see patterns of obstructive behavior exclusively from Republicans. It doesn’t take a weatherman to see which way this wind’s blowing. The Republicans may not have started out bent on betraying America, but they did — and they knew, as they were doing it, WHAT they were doing it — and why.

Regardless of what you call it, Russia has been actively engaged with us in cyber war for a long time with a stated intention to undermine liberal democracies — NATO in particular — as a doctrinal goal. This is not make-believe war. People have died. Democratic countries have seen their democracies undermined (which means the war’s objectives are being met). Considering what cyber war costs compared to a bombs n bullets war, Russia is getting way more bang for its buck this way. No wonder they’re waging cyber war (information war, if you like) so vociferously.

Anyone who thinks you need bombs and bullets to win a war any more is going to lose every war they fight going forward into the future. Bombs and bullets aren’t terribly effective anyway against insurgent combatants — as Afghanistan proved. And as to cyber war’s undeclared nature? That’s one of its great advantages — the cyber warrior can wage cyber war against an opponent who doesn’t realize he’s at war. The cyber war’s victim may realize she’s being attacked but — if she doesn’t see the larger war coming at her? That war’s already over and she lost it badly. If Russia were to shut down our electrical grid tomorrow, we’d sue for peace — as the losers.

Treason doesn’t require a state of war. It requires that the traitor attempt to overthrow the government. That is now the Republican Party’s avowed purpose. To overthrow the results of a free and fair election because you don’t like the results (having lost), is an act of treason because elections are the life blood of any democracy. If the people betraying our democracy weren’t white people, we would have criminalized this behavior eons ago.

That’s the final tell. Ours isn’t just a story about treason, it’s about the thing that motivated the treasonous behavior. That, unequivocally, was and is racism.

The Reason All Republican Arguments Sound Like Bullsh*t Is Because That’s What They Are

No one ever does anything “just because”. Trust me on this. It’s something storytellers know about human nature because we have to draw on human nature to create believable characters that ring true both inside and out. What’s worse than a character you’ve come to love who suddenly acts “out of character” — not because their author has crafted some ingenious (if convoluted) storyline for them, but because their author has flat out betrayed them. Or, more accurately, the author has betrayed how the rest of us understand human nature. Someone behaving badly may not be able to articulate their motivation, but, even if it’s because their brain chemistry’s funky, they’re doing it for a reason. Our news media quickly made the decision that Donald Trump did what he did and said what he said because “that’s how he is”. In other words, Trump behaved/behaves like he does “just because”.

That was the news media’s explanation for Trump having his head so firmly stuck up Vladimir Putin’s ass: “it’s just how Trump ‘is’.” That was why Trump said “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing is okay!” — because that’s how he is. Ummmm, no, actually. Trump said “Mexicans are rapists” because he’s a racist and he bragged about “pussy grabbing” because he’s a misogynist pig and (like his imaginary Mexicans) a rapist. But, our news media didn’t really care about that because “but — her emails” apparently was more “newsworthy” to them.

To this day, our news media won’t call Donald Trump a racist. Well, a few of them will but most wouldn’t dare. They think it’s logical to ask a racist if they’re a racist — as if the racist had the least bit of perspective with which to answer such a question. Racism — like beauty — is in the eye of the beholder, not the object itself. Want to know if someone’s racist or not? Ask their victims. As the people who could have been subjected to the racist’s racism. They’ll know. They’ll happily tell you who is and who isn’t racist.

But, if you’re willing to let a racist tell you he’s not racist, you’re already willing to give bullshit credence. And every Republican knows it. All they have to ever do to make the American news media compliant is to draw them into that vast Republican Rabbit Hole where truth and patriotism and human decency all go to die. And our news media happily leaps right in. Suddenly, rabbit hole logic takes over. Up is down and down is up and both are sideways. It really doesn’t matter what the rule of law actually says since the Republican imperative is to violate its spirit regardless. And news events — even damning ones! — they lose all context. Acts of stone cold treason become minor details in forgotten stories.

For example — in June 2016 (the Washington Post reported in 2017 when their reporter heard a recording of the meeting), current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of GOP leaders — their nominating convention a month away — and said: “There are two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” It was the nervous laughter in the room that made McCarthy add “Swear to God!” Why was there nervous laughter and not outrage — that such a thing was even remotely possible? Because everyone in the room knew 1) it WAS possible and 2) it was a fact. In fact, it was such a fact that then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan made everyone in the room promise to keep this piece of information (not speculation apparently) a secret.

As Paul Ryan himself put it: “That’s how we know we’re family”.

When, a year later, one intrepid reporter — having read the story in the Washington Post — asked McCarthy about his comment, McCarthy replied that he’d been “joking”. Quick side note: people with no sense of humor (people who can’t laugh at themselves) cannot make jokes. That is, they can’t make jokes that aren’t at someone else’s expense. Kevin McCarthy was not joking when he said he thought Putin pays Trump. That response was flat out bullshit. It was a lie — but, per usual, the “journalist” let it go — because that’s how bullshit and lies get normalized into the kind of toxic propaganda our news media can’t discern from news stories.

But, telling truth from bullshit isn’t really that hard. It’s no harder than separating feelings from facts.

When someone who’s based their point of view on facts gets challenged, they lay their facts on the table. Emotions may validate but they don’t elucidate. If anything, emotions cloud our thinking. That’s why our news media can only see the tragedy unfolding in front of us in Afghanistan. It IS a tragedy. But if you want to report it truthfully, you have to report the whole story — how we got to the tragedy part and not just the tragedy part. Joe Biden didn’t enter his presidency in a normal fashion because his predecessor 1) is still trying to hold onto power, 2) pre-surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban before Biden even was sworn in, 3) denied Team Biden any sort of transition so that they could see this fiasco coming at them, and 4) are all stone cold traitors to begin with. To report this story as “And then Joe Biden screwed it all up!” is insulting not just to Joe Biden but to America and Afghanistan, too.

The truth is, we set Afghanistan up for failure when we walked in the door. We set the hook firmly when we changed our mission from “Get bin Laden” to “Turn Afghanistan into the democratic picture book American could never be”. Joe Biden did not suddenly change his mind about nation building in Afghanistan, he’s ALWAYS opposed the idea. It sucks being the only adult in a room filled with juveniles and their enablers but that’s Biden’s situation vis a vis both Republicans and the news media. From our news media’s point of view however, all those juveniles and their enablers have integrity equal to Joe Biden’s. Their feeling, in other words, have the same weight as Joe Biden’s facts.

No good can come of this.

Want to know why every Republican explanation for even the simplest things sounds like utter bullshit being invented right on the spot? That’s because it’s utter bullshit — being invented right on the spot.

A great day of reckoning awaits the entire Republican Party — at least it better. If America, Americans, the rule of law and the Constitution don’t punish every single Republican who in any way co-conspired to end the greatest experiment in human self government ever then that experiment will absolutely end. Bullshit will win the day.

When that happens, we can prepare for the worst because the worst will happen. Bullshit will finally have superseded truth as our baseline common experience. Betcha Republicans are already drooling at the thought.

Our Right To Vote Is A National Security Issue

Winston Churchill put it this way: “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.” It’s damned hard to pull off. Mind you, Churchill spoke those words about democracy sucking immediately after he LOST AN ELECTION. That’s the hard part about democracy — the peaceful transfer of power when opposing politics replace each other. The instinct to refuse and hold onto power runs deep — far deeper than the learned ability to hand power to people we hate because, this time, THEY won the election. That’s the constant challenge to political power — to hear the Will Of The People and to understand it as such. In a democratic republic like ours, political power is supposed to serve our needs, the needs of We The People. We’ve designed a system that, while it bows to the will of the majority, still it protects the minority. That’s what bit Churchill in the ass. The majority will rule. But, on the other hand, while Churchill lost an election, the majority didn’t get to kill him just because he lost. Democracies don’t work that way.

In America however, strangely, the majority doesn’t necessarily rule. In fact, in plenty of places, the majority almost is prohibited from ruling. That’s exactly what gerrymandering is supposed to do. That’s why in states like Wisconsin, Democrats (as they did in 2020) can receive 46% of total votes cast in state Assembly races yet end up with only 38 of 99 seats after winning two new districts. That’s a massive under-representation. It gets worse in Wisconsin’s senate. There, in 2020, Democratic candidates secured about 47% of total votes, but only picked up 38% of the seats on the ballot and now control only 12 of 33 seats. The sense of futility this creates causes voters to stay home come election time — very much the point of the exercise. Permanent minority rule doesn’t happen all by itself, ya know.

The whole reason we’re experiencing this crisis in America is because white people refuse to share power with others. The right wing money saw a generation ago that a diversifying America would spell the end of white hegemony. The more political power and money flowed into non-white hands, the sooner those non-white hands would expect power and money — not for themselves but as part of the commonweal. What scared the crap out of rich, white, Christian America was the idea that Black, brown, Asian, female, LGBTQ Americans would step onto a level playing field each day. White America has always believed — wrongly — that life is a zero sum game. If some non-white person is getting something, that’s because something therefore is being taken away from a white person. Those thinking this false premise can’t imagine a rising tide floating all boats because they’re so deep into every man (like them) being entirely for themselves.

Republicans launched an all out assault on our right to vote because, they know, that’s where our power lies and where THE power lies. In the vote. If the Republican money thought they could have done this any differently — if they could have taken shortcuts — they absolutely would have. It’s democracy that’s caused them to take the long road to their authoritarian dream state. Consider how incredibly short-sighted the Republicans and conservatives are being (not exactly a rare occurrence). What do Republicans think they’ll ultimately accomplish AFTER they’ve fully broken our democracy?

Have they considered that this will finish off what’s left of the middle class? If Republicans could finish up this wet dream of theirs and actually accomplish a state of permanent minority rule, here are a few things that would happen: America would break apart. The dynamic parts of the country (the blue states) have zero desire to hobbled (as they have been all along) by red states who couldn’t invent a fart if their lives depended on it. Take away our representation and feelings of “no taxation without representation” will erupt. You know damned well that permanent minority rule will benefit the rich guys to the detriment of everyone else.

Our allies were all thrilled to have Joe Biden in the White House. For starters, he’s not a traitor. Every single country but ours is hip to the fact that a Russian intelligence asset has been sitting in the Oval Office, doing Russia’s bidding. As the DoJ prosecutes more and more of the January 6 insurrectionists, they’ll penetrate the veil separating the foot soldiers from the inside planners. Never mind what happened on January 6, what happened on January third, fourth and fifth? That’s when the planning happened. That’s when the planning meetings took place at Trump’s hotel near the White House and INSIDE the White House. Planning, you say? Inside the White House… Hmmmmm… wouldn’t that make this whole thing a conspiracy — and an inside job at that?

Our allies rely on our constancy. It’s hard to make alliances with a schizophrenic whose dominant personality right now denies the existence of any other personalities. The whole world now knows better. And the whole world can see the Republican Party doing everything it can to make America a one-party state: theirs.

The rest of the world relies on a dynamic, democratic America. The America that would result from the GOP and Trump getting their way is not an America anyone in the world wants to see except Putin, China, Kim Jong-On and Rudy Giuliani. They do not want to witness the Republican Party stabbing the rest of America in the back. They do not want the America that the Republican Party would shove down America’s throat.

Finally, let’s remember WHO is behind this assault on America’s right to vote — a hostile foreign government that has openly declared cyber war against us. Cyber war IS war. Anyone thinking you need bombs or bullets to win wars anymore is going to lose every war they ever engage in going forward. If Russia were to shut down our power grid today, we’d sue for peace tomorrow if not sooner. Russia especially sees our right to vote as a threat.

Americans, understand, are not themselves asking “should our democracy continue?” For the majority of us, it isn’t a question. It’s only a question to those who can’t make democracy work for them. Perhaps if the GOP emerged from their rabbit hole they’d have better luck winning elections on the strength of their ideas. Or not. Regardless of whether they’re in or out of any particular rabbit hole, their ideas just plain suck.

Our right to vote is a lot of things all at one time. We need to celebrate that fact — and bake it deep into the architecture. More important, we need to protect it way better than we have. And we need to see clearly that what the Republicans are doing to our democracy now isn’t political in nature, it’s criminal (for a political purpose). Their assault on our voting rights isn’t them expressing a political opinion about how America should be. It’s a mugging. An act of rape. Murder in the first degree.

And treason.

Is our right to vote a matter of national security? You’re damned right it is!

Fact: The Taliban WANTED To Hand Over Bin Laden But We Refused To Let Them

History will not judge America kindly for its folly in Afghanistan. But, unlike right this second, Joe Biden will NOT bear much of the responsibility for what goes down. This terrible ending replete with appalling visuals of people falling from airplanes they clung to was inevitable from the first second we arrived in country as liberators. Right off the bat, that’s nonsense. It forgets one key fact — WHO exactly the Taliban ARE. Unlike American soldiers, Taliban fighters are all AFGHANIS. They’re Pashtuns — one of the tribes that make up the imaginary country we call “Afghanistan”. During the Soviet occupation, we courted the Taliban (they were called the “mujahedeen” then — same band, new name) we supplied them with money and weapons. The problems arose AFTER the Soviets departed — and the various tribes from the various disconnected parts of Afghanistan all fought each other for power. When the Taliban (“students” in Pashto ) took over, according to the BBC, “…most Afghans, weary of the mujahedeen’s excesses and infighting after the Soviets were driven out, generally welcomed the Taliban when they first appeared on the scene. The Pashtuns’ early popularity was largely due to their success in stamping out corruption, curbing lawlessness and making the roads and the areas under their control safe for commerce to flourish.”

But, that security came at a steep price. The Taliban believed in a very austere version of Islam which they enforced with dogmatic brutality that was especially hard on Afghanistan’s women. Their fate as the Taliban retake power in Afghanistan, horrifies us and justifiably so. But, with the house burning down around us, let’s not forget that saving the house was NEVER an option. It’s understandable to wish we had never set a departure date — as if that action was the trigger for the current chaos; if we’d never pulled the trigger, the chaos would never have happened. That is wishful thinking. We had already drawn down — per the plans and terms the Trump administration committed us to — to three thousand troops. The conceit was that the three hundred thousand man Afghani army would stand up as we continued to draw down.

That did not happen and was never going to happen because, frankly, the Afghanis have always known the Taliban would outlast us. Because the Taliban ARE AFGHANIS. They LIVE in the parts of Afghanistan where they’ve holed up. This has been their tribe’s home for hundreds of years if not longer. But, let’s dig into that a little. The Taliban think of Afghanistan as their home. They believe their home — all of it — should follow the same rules they follow.

Afghans, being devout Muslims believe firmly in certain things about one’s guests, how they must be treated when they reside in your home. For one thing, you cannot just betray them. The Taliban were not fans of terrorism. They said so. Repeatedly. They gave bin Laden cover when he first arrived because, like them, he followed a fundamentalist brand of Islam. But, when bin Laden’s actions caused mass death and destruction, the Taliban did not celebrate. They were appalled by what had happened. But, unlike America who felt certain they knew what the story was, the Taliban — to satisfy their own cultural need for fairness — wanted to be shown the same proof America had. George W. Bush refused to show them any proof. He demanded the Taliban turn over bin Laden.

The Taliban were not against doing that. All they wanted was proof — so that they could justify turning over bin Laden. It was a cultural thing that we refused to acknowledge and refused to understand. Our emotions got the better of us. So did our white person arrogance. This is all background. It’s important because it SHOULD BE the context in which we see the current catastrophe. America set this in motion. We absolutely could have secured bin Laden without an ounce of bloodshed. Now, that would have meant the Taliban never lost power in Afghanistan and Afghanistan would have spent the last 20 years under the same harsh sharia law the Taliban are about to reimpose. That’s terrible — no argument. But — understand — this is a glass house for us. We have zero business casting stones at others who treat women like chattel when that is exactly what happens in parts of Utah and Arizona where fundamentalist Mormons are the dominant tribe.

In those parts of America, FLDS Mormons hide out in remote scrub, having multiple wives who they impregnate like they, personally, were nation building. Anyone who thinks those women have any rights is clueless. Think those FLDS women ever have a shot at educations? Freedom of choice? Freedom PERIOD?

Puh-lease! Imagine now if some sympathetic other country chose to take up the plight of these religiously oppressed American women — up to and including invading Utah. Hmmmmm… I wonder how THAT would go down in the heartland… .

We screwed the pooch big time on this. But the pooch didn’t get screwed today. Today was when we first felt the pooch’s screwing — feelings that will endure, absolutely. But this debacle does not have Joe Biden’s name on it. It has George W. Bush’s name on it. And Dick Cheney’s. And the name of every chicken hawk who enabled these greedy scumbags. After all, it was George W. Bush — with Dick Cheney barking in his ear — who turned down the Taliban’s offer of bin Laden in exchange for the proof we had the buttressed our certainty that Osama bin Laden indeed masterminded September 11. Funny thing? We had it. We had plenty of proof.

But that proof would have caused problems with our “allies”, the Royal House of Saud. As the Beeb put it: “It is believed that the predominantly Pashtun movement first appeared in religious seminaries – mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia.”

Gosh… how much world wide pain and suffering — how much American pain and suffering — can be laid at the feet of the rulers of Saudi Arabia? Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could be the whole world’s poster person.

Our actions in the Middle East are always colored by how the House of Saud will react. This needs to stop right here, right now.

True Fact: Life is way more complicated than any headline can contain. History is even more complicated. You can report the present with minimal sense of the history that got us here for only so long. Eventually, people will realize you’re full of shit and talking about a world that, if it ever existed, existed so long ago that it’s utterly irrelevant now. Therefore, what the hell are YOU talking about? Context is everything. I didn’t know until this past weekend that the Taliban weren’t the intransigent protectors of a terrorist that I’d been lead to believe. That information was out there — the articles I’ve sourced in this blog are all mainstream news sources who published this information as it happened.

As much as I’d love to hurl still more invective at our god-awful news media (they deserve it!), I can’t right this second because I find myself suddenly realizing we’ve worn the same shoes.

I always had access to this important information that — once I read it — directly impacted my understanding of Afghanistan. I just didn’t know this piece of information existed. But, once I did…

Our news media always has had access to important information about Donald Trump that, had they known it, probably would have directly impacted their understanding of Trump and what the past five years have really been about. The money behind conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon backed Mario Rubio in 2016 which is why they hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Marco’s behalf so as to undermine Donald Trump. While, in time, the cost of this ongoing research would be picked up by Democratic voters, when the Republican money was financing it, the research uncovered such a wealth of damning information about Trump (and how he used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money) that Fusion went and subcontracted the Russian part of the research to the Westerner with better sources inside Russia than maybe anyone: Christopher Steele, former head of MI6’s deeply respected Russia desk. That’s per Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson’s Congressional testimony on August 22, 2017.

It takes a lot of moving parts to make a tragedy — and every tragedy is entirely personal to everyone it consumes.

Our news media are icing eaters in a world made of cake. They’re easily distracted. What’s worse, all those dreams of Pulitzers and Peabody’s have wrecked their ability to focus. They can only hear their own uninformed, clownish, perspective-free questions. Sadly, most of our news media really do cynically believe that “both sides do it”. That’s their lack of perspective speaking. And their love of access journalism.

I’ll grant the news media this: our times transcend any journalist’s ability to capture it in their reporting. Between rampant corruption, worldwide pandemics, right wing power grabs, American white supremacist terrorism, international organized crime, Donald Trump’s many acts of treason and climate change, there are a multitude of stories to cover, each with their own dots to connect. Ah, but what if some of those dots from those various stories connect? What if — contrary to our news media’s view of events — everything happens for a reason and never “just because”?

How The Hell Did America Normalize Treason?

So, last night, I attended a fundraiser for Representative Adam Schiff at a friend’s home. Representative Schiff was awesome. He’s great in a room, as we know, and he did not disappoint last night. His message — geared toward fundraising for the 2022 election campaign — was hopeful but realistic. These are extraordinary times — and not in a good way. It will require extraordinary effort to get through this, a thing Rep Schiff believes firmly we can and will do. After Schiff finished speaking, he took questions for about twenty minutes. That’s when I realized how bad things are. Adam Schiff is doing his job and doing it well all things considered. We The People — the other side of the equation at the fundraiser — are failing miserably.

There was considerable money at this fundraiser; the buy in at the top was thousands and thousands of dollars. Even the cheap seats weren’t cheap. Also there was brain power there. Cal Tech was physically nearby. A few Cal Tech-ers were in (outside actually) the house. The questions were all smart, detailed and thoughtful. Great! But none of the questions seemed to grasp the most fundamental question facing America right this second: the outright criminal behavior of the entire Republican Party as they openly attempt to not only subvert democracy but end it.

Think about this — the Republican Party as a whole is actively engaged in various activities (legislating, propagandizing, co-conspiring to obstruct justice) that are, on their face, illegal. Their attempts to curtail voting aren’t just some “opinion” they have about our system of government, it’s an active attempt to deny millions of Americans their RIGHT TO VOTE. That is a violation of their civil rights. In fact, because these laws can’t differentiate between who they’re disenfranchising, these regressive, racist laws therefore have the potential to deny EVERY voter their right to vote. Every one of these “you can vote this way but you can’t vote that way” laws is really demanding that non-white voters guess h ow many imaginary jelly beans are in the imaginary jar inside every Republican’s head. A poll tax is a poll tax is a poll tax.

Hell, normalizing racism is what this country does better than anyone. Our founders may have written “All men are created equal” but most of them did not believe that. Never mind. We’re all here to fix those mistakes. And they are mistakes that demand fixing. Our news media still haven’t figured out that the LAST person you should ever ask “Are you racist?” is a racist. Unless they’re really hard core, they’ll insist that not only aren’t they racist, they’re probably the least racist person they know. That’s exactly how racists think. It’s why the racist is the LAST person you should ever ask “Are you racist?” The only person who really knows that truth? The racist’s victim.

While our system insists that everyone gets their day in court before being convicted, not every crime gets that kind of daylight shined on it. That’s part of our problem — the prevalence of terrible behavior coming from one particular part of the political class. The Republicans have abandoned any and all pretense that they’re into continuing American democracy as it has always been. The GOP’s intent is clear. Unable to win elections on the strength of their ideas, instead they’ve resorted to gerrymandering, voter suppression and outright treason as a means to win and keep winning elections. The whole point of taking power from elected officials and giving it to private actors is to benefit a few individuals over the commonweal.

We have already accepted massive amounts of corruption into our hard costs. There’s a flaw in our thinking that opens that door. It’s the flaw I saw on display last night at the Adam Schiff fundraiser: tacit acceptance of the corrupt status quo. We The People have allowed Republicans to operate corruptly for so long that the Republicans think that corruption is their entitlement. They still think slavery was their entitlement and they’re still insanely angry that we ever freed the slaves. Or, far worse, let them vote.

I marvel at the remarkable grace Black Americans maintain despite how horribly America has always treated them. It’s like this community — in the face of its relentless oppression — saw the inherent rightness of the democratic ideal and committed to doing everything in its power to make it happen no matter how long it took and despite endless white resistance. Those who must constantly fight to keep their rights have a whole different view of their rights than, say, an aggrieved white guy who takes his rights for granted. Hell, white people think they have rights they don’t in fact have. But, when you’ve been the dominant culture forever, when you’ve always been favored, always gotten first dibs on anything of value, always benefitted regardless of what happened to anyone else, you’re apt to assume a kind of “I can do whatever the hell I want!” kind of ‘tude.

How did America normalize treason? That’s how. White guys did it to protect their hold on power. They allied with a hostile foreign power to do it, knowing that they were all now compromised. On June 15, 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of GOP muckety-mucks. The meeting was recorded on audio tape and the tape was played — a year later — for a Washington Post reporter who printed a whole transcript of the conversation. As he enters, Kevin says out loud “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump! Swear to God!” Kevin added the “Swear to God” in the face of nervous laughter.

No one in the room suddenly regarded Kevin like he had three heads. No one asked whether Trump would really do such a terrible thing or if he’d already had done it. No one behaved as if an important member of their hierarchy had just told them that their likely nominee to be POTUS was a flat out traitor — compromised by a foreign government we KNEW wanted to undermine us. No one said “Holy shit, Kevin — let’s get the FBI on the phone! This sounds like it could be really, really bad!” Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan (third in line to the presidency) put an end to the conversation, insisting that the subject would not be discussed outside that room. “That’s how we know we’re family,” is how Ryan put it. Literally.

Right there, that room normalized treason. To them, a POTUS guilty of treason was not a problem. That made them ALL guilty of treason. That makes everyone who’s heard this story (on the inside) and did nothing about it is aiding and abetting traitors. That’s not hyperbole, it’s fact. Want to know what the strange hold Trump has over the GOP? That’s it. That’s the hold — even bigger than the fear of being primaried out of a job by a Trumpanista. Getting primaried means losing your job. Being prosecuted for treason? That could get you hung. Literally as capital punishment is still one of the ways America handles those who betray it the way Donald Trump and the entire Republican Party has betrayed America.

For all four years of Trump’s presidency, the GOP obstructed any attempt to investigate Trump’s odd relationship with Russia. That wasn’t just to protect their hold on power (the move they’re making now). That was to deny America the stone cold truth that but for Russia Donald Trump would NEVER have been POTUS. And, but for the Republican Party, that secret would already be prosecuted.

White America’s refusal to share power with non-white Americans lies at the heart of this catastrophe. The hard right was money was so determined to hold onto power that they willingly and knowingly cast their lot in with Russia to get Trump over the finish line. And, once they’d gotten him there — knowing that Russia was instrumental in MAKING Trump POTUS — they refused to divulge that secret because of the consequences that would surely befall them. The Republican Party isn’t just the Trump Party, it’s the Treason Party.

White corruption has been deeply entrenched since the country’s founding. How else can one see the statement “All men are created equal” being made by a country that also legalizes slavery? Great idea, too bad the execution was so awful; hey — leave it to all the non-white people to get the concept right! That’s what needs to happen here. White men need to take a back seat for the time being. They need to let everyone else take over the helm for the foreseeable future. That’s not to say that everyone else will absolutely get governing a democracy right, but it isn’t possible to screw up this amazing experiment in human self-government any more than the white men have. Really and truly, no one could do worse. Anything else would be a verifiable improvement.

The GOP’s partner in crime remains the news media — at least those who drank the “both sides do it” kool aid. Both sides do not and have never conspired with foreign enemies to take over the government after an election as the Republican Party is now doing. We have to assume that everything comes with Russia’s stamp of approval. Let’s be real — even if the Republicans succeeded in turning America from a democracy into an autocracy, Vlad Putin will expect his due. From each and every one of them.

Like the traitors they are and always will be.

Republicans Are The Spoiled Children Of American Politics

Here in America, our family motto is E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. It’s the good news and the bad news all wrapped up on one. The majority of the family has figured out that the family really and truly does best when more of the family prospers versus when, say, only a few members of the family prosper. As anyone born into a multi-child family will tell you, birth order matters in strange ways. It creates odd expectations and artificial friction depending on where in the birth order one was birthed and how the family one was birthed into itself thinks about the importance of birth order.

Republicans like to think that because Northern European, Christian, white men synthesized, articulated and memorialized various ideals plucked from the French Enlightenment into our founding documents (while failing to live up to those very same ideals) that THEY and only THEY should forever be the “keepers” of that “founding flame”. That IS what “originalism” is all about. It’s a first-born male child thinking he personally did something to make himself that first-born male child. It’s George W. Bush being born on third base and thinking he’d hit a triple. “Here’s how it was when WE wrote it up the way WE wanted it to be; how it was then is how it must forever be — because we say so”.

Imagine writing “All men are created equal” while actually meaning only “white, Protestant, Christian, land-owning men with Northern European roots”. That bit of ignorant, cultural hegemony happened in spite of the new, expansive thinking inspired by the French Enlightenment. But then, ideals never drove the quest to settle North America, making a lot of money did. Once Europe realized that North America was a thing and not just a passageway to the Far East, their mandate was to exploit it for the benefit of their royal and commercial sponsors. And, exploit it they did. By the time these Europeans began agreeing that “All men are created equal”, they’d already been living on and claiming title to property that wasn’t theirs for well over a hundred years. Not too, too long thereafter, they’d articulate that bit of bullshit as “Manifest Destiny”.

The thing though about growing families? They’re dynamic by nature. They change. They evolve. Though they start as one thing, they become something else over time via intermarriage with other families from other cultures. Our individual genomes are good at matching up dominant gene traits so as to perpetuate them in the collective genome. While a degree of specialization can be a good thing in a family’s genetic makeup, that can be a trap, too. We’re really not meant to inter-breed with family. Unless we think turning into the Spanish aristocracy’s a good thing.

What makes America exceptional — American Exceptionalism is a very real thing — is our E Pluribus Unum diversity. It’s the whole rest of the family that both arrived here in time but who also were born here same as the arrogant white men who assume that they’re being born here matters more. Think of how much better the American family would be if one of its family members didn’t keep threatening to blow up station wagon with all of us inside it.

I don’t know about you, but the image I keep getting in my head every time I hear a Republican lie or dissemble about their stone cold intention to destroy our democracy is of a spoiled little boy, his arms folded arrogantly across his chest, his lip thrust forward defiantly. He’s saying something like “You’re not the boss of me” or “I like beer” or “Stop the steal”.

The GOP Is A Party Of Bullies

Bullies: A ‘Class’ Photo

Bullies and bullying are a universal evil.  If bullying ended at the schoolyard gate, that would be bad enough but, as we all know, bullying doesn’t stop there.  The whole schoolyard follows us through life — with bullies getting to be bullies forever like Hook-ified versions of Peter Pan.  Donald Trump is the worst kind of schoolyard bully.  He’s the kind who never gets his well manicured, teeny-tiny hands dirty.  He gets other people to get THEIR hands dirty on Donald’s behalf.    That’s why, even though they despised Trump as he tore through their primary in 2016, the Republicans, deep down, not only admired Trump, they aspired to be him.  Not just a bully, an uber-bully.  And, let’s not forget, when the Republicans made Trump their nominee in 2016, they did it KNOWING that Trump was owned outright by ANOTHER mega-bully, Vladimir PutinCurrent GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said so out loud a month before the nominating convention to a roomful of the Republican leadership.

Let’s stay in that room a few moments longer.  A person the whole room TRUSTS has just entered and announced that he suspects their presidential nominee is OWNED by the head of state of a hostile foreign government.  That really happened.  Yet no one IN that room seemed surprised — or overly bothered by its sheer illegality.  Or — worse yet — by the implications of nominating a person to the presidency who could be EVEN REMOTELY compromised by, of all countries, RUSSIA!  Let’s assume (for argument’s sake) that everyone in the room understood just HOW illegal this would be.  We’re talking treason.  Stone cold treason.  And yet, STILL, no one in the room objected to the direction they were all heading: toward nominating a foreign intelligence asset to be president.  What could possibly cause people to go there?  This isn’t just some cold political calculation, this is crawling into bed and snuggling up with a country we’ve been at war with (one way or another) for 100 years — ever since the Communists took control and turned Old Russia into the Soviet Union.

People who like authoritarians also like bullies.  They have no use for democracy because democracy is entirely unpredictable while authoritarianism isn’t.  They prefer leadership that tells rather than asks its constituency what’s going to happen.  They prefer it that politicians pick their electorate rather than the other — proper — way around.  Conservatism, by its nature, fosters bullying.  Most of us exist in a world that, while aspiring to equality and equity and all those good things, fails considerably.  We maintain those aspirations however; we demand them now.  We won’t rest until the playing field is certifiably level.  Conservatism on the other hand relies on the playing field remaining exactly as it is.  THAT is what conservatism wants to conserve — the status quo — and the status quo favors white people over everyone else.

Bullies then are the status quo’s “enforcers”.  While the rest of us recoil whenever we hear bullying, bullies hear a clarion call to bully more.  If people are complaining about being bullied, that can only mean a bully is succeeding somewhere at his objective.  By the same token, you really can’t bully people into progress.  It’s too vague a target.  Its goal is too antithetical to bullying; if you had to bully to get there, you can’t get there!

It’s like “cheating to win”.  If you cheat to win, then by the rules, you did not “win”.  How can one “win” without following the rules?  This is an argument America needs to have with itself if it wants to remain a democratic republic.  Either the rule of law is or it isn’t.  We’ve experimented with following it half-way and we very nearly went under.  We’re still in treacherous waters.  Cheating cannot be just another “campaign tactic” that campaigns run when their ideas aren’t selling.  The moment anyone steps outside the rules in order to win, both they and their “win” (if they succeeded in cheating) must be voided.  The cheater’s win is wiped off the books, the cheater gets prosecuted and everyone who helped the cheater cheat gets punished as well and — like the cheater — banned from ever participating in an American election ever again (except as a voter so long as they’re not actively doing time).  

But, our news media — always happy to oblige bullshit and give it maximum credence — insists that cheating to win IS just “another way to ‘win’ election” in America. 

This simply cannot be.  It’s a lie no country can live and survive — like saying “All men are created equal” out of one side of your mouth while bidding on slaves out the other side.  Holding two contrary thoughts in your head is one thing.  Having a country that tries to live them is, we keep learning, a recipe for disaster.  It leads to Civil War.  It leads to a country that STILL nurtures white supremacy even as it demonstrates the remarkable advantages and benefits of e pluribus unum.  America’s exceptionalism — and it really does exist — is its diversity.  Nowhere before among humans had a country formed (countries being relatively novel things) that, rather than being made up of one extensive national tribe was made up of ALL the various national tribes, all trying to make a go of it TOGETHER, not in their home countries but there — IN AMERICA. E pluribus unum — out of many, ONE.

In order to succeed as part of the many, one must be open-minded to who the “many” are and what each group’s particular habits are.  This is not an exact science.  There is no “book” on how to do it, we ARE the book.  We’re writing it in real time.  Because that’s how reality works. 

Bullies don’t care for reality.  Outside the schoolyard, justice lurks.  The really talented bullies bring the schoolyard with them wherever they go.  By sucking others into their schoolyard, they expand their schoolyard and thus their environment for bullying.  To his credit, Trump has a remarkable ability to expand his schoolyard.  Also to his credit, being a lesser bully, he recognizes that Vlad Putin is a class of bully he will never be.  Ah, but a bully like Trump can dream, can’t he?

Trump didn’t just admire every dictator on the planet, he wanted to be them.  As we’re now learning, toward the end of his presidency, Trump really and truly wanted to declare martial law.  He wanted to use the military (which, oh, the irony, the Republicans have now turned on) to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.  The ultimate act of bullying in a democratic society — the complete denial of the society’s right to govern itself.  THEY will govern.  They and their pals.

Bullies are especially good at screaming about being bullied when justice finally gets ahold of them. 

This is something the bullied need to learn about bullies.  They rely on our fairness.  They count on our sympathy.  Their goal is to NEVER take responsibility for what they’ve done — another kind of bullying.  In the same way, rapists behave like rapists in everything they do.  Inside their heads, they feel entitled to be anywhere they want — including inside your most personal space.  Rapists are just bullies with their dicks in their hands.  If they had any capacity to empathize, they would not be bullies to begin with.  We cannot appeal to their humanity as they have none.  What we can “appeal to” however is their wallet.  Heartless and soulless as every racist is, their wallet pumps with vital “life blood” — money.  Threaten even the hardiest racist’s wallet and he, too, will melt into a puddle of pure white Jello. 

At that meeting a month before the GOP nominated Trump in 2016, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan corralled the room quickly.  Whatever unease some might have felt at the prospect of a hostile foreign government having a viable hold on a future POTUS, they agreed with Ryan’s admonition for them all to keep this secret — that none of them questioned — a secret among them.  “That’s how we  know we’re family,” said SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE Paul Ryan.

Know what kind of “families” talk like that?  Know what those families are “famous for”?  Hint-hint: it starts with the letter “B”.

 

Or, What If The Meeting Between Biden & Putin Is More Of A “Showdown”?

For four years, Vladimir Putin looked DOWN into Donald Trump’s eyes as Trump metaphorically serviced Vlad. As current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy knew a full month before the GOP nominated Trump to be POTUS, Putin owned him. As Kevin put it: “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” Not much wriggle room there in retrospect. Kevin knew what he was talking about. That must have been the case because ever since, the GOP has done everything it could to keep America from connecting the Trump Dot to the Putin Dot to the Treason Dot. The undeniable fact is that but for Russia, Trump would NEVER have been president. Russia made Trump POTUS and, since, have done everything they could to keep him POTUS. Too bad for them the American electorate showed up en masse and got in Putin’s way. As the residents of Pearl Harbor can tell us, just because a war’s not declared doesn’t mean its bombs and bullets can’t kill you. In this instance, it’s our democracy that’s under surprise attack — by Russia AND by the Republican Party who sprung their surprise attack on our democracy with the assistance of Russia’s military intelligence. Or, as Republicans think of them, “oligarchs who like them”.

Joe Biden sat in on the meeting at the White House in September 2016 where President Obama wanted to inform the gang of eight — the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate — that our intelligence agencies were extremely confident that Russia was actively engaged in trying to make Trump president. Current minority leader Mitch McConnell got up on his treason turtle legs and warned Obama that if did such a dastardly thing — informing America that Russia was attacking us — he would insist that Obama was “politicizing the intelligence”. I wonder what Joe Biden looked like as he stared down Mitch McConnell that day. Unfortunately, Obama caved. He softened the message so completely that it went over everyone’s head — especially the news media’s.

They still believed “But Her Emails” was more important anyway. Ain’t retrospect a bitch?

Understanding how important our intelligence agencies are — and how to work with them — comes more naturally to Joe Biden (having done it for so much of his career in public service) than it did to Trump who was under investigation by those agencies (until Rod Rosenstein ended it). Democrats unfortunately still practice decorum. Were the treason shoe on the other foot, the Republicans probably would have hung people already. The rule of law can be frustrating to follow. Following the rule of law takes longer and demands more energy and attention than ignoring it or breaking it does. I bet Joe Biden knows things (having been briefed now by a rededicated, re-energized IC) about not only Donald Trump but plenty of Republican office holders that would curl our collective hair.

We’re just learning that Trump’s DoJ (by way of Sessions & Barr) went along with Trump’s demands to subpoena the metadata of his Democratic political enemies including Californian representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swallwell. Every Trumpanista in the DoJ went along with this abuse of power (and violation of the law). Every Trumpanista in Congress feels fine with it. This plays at the same time that Republican lawmakers ramp up attempts to restrict voting to Republicans — all at the behest of Donald Trump who NEEDS Republicans to re-take power completely for one simple reason: otherwise, he’ll be prosecuted for money laundering, tax fraud, election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason. If the Republican Party could stop that from happening they absolutely would. Because they are tied to Trump’s criminality.

If Trump goes down, they’ll all go down. It’s just a stone cold fact. The Republican Party is now a package deal. Vote for them, you vote for Trump. Vote for Trump, you vote for the end of democracy and the beginning of white supremacist, minority rule authoritarianism. It’s not really as if America is facing a choice between the two. We aren’t. Most Americans are crystal clear which America they want — and it’s not the America the Republican party wants us to be. That’s why the GOP has turned to cheating in order to win. The majority wouldn’t vote for Republican ideas if their lives depended on it — which is the case.

Diplomatic principles will prevent Biden from speaking hard core truths to Putin. But, having just visited with our NATO allies — and reaffirmed our collective commitment to stop Putin in every way we can — Biden will speak for more than himself. That’s important when confronting a bully. Biden doesn’t have to threaten any sort of military action; that’d go after the wrong people with the wrong tool. Greed motivates Putin. Greed and Russian nationalism. If we want to pinch Putin hard enough to make him scream “ouch-ski!”, we’ll need to attack his most vulnerable organ: his wallet.

Putin, like all his oligarch pals (and you can’t be an oligarch in Putin’s Russia if Putin doesn’t want you to be one), must bank outside of Russia — mostly here in the West. They know they can’t trust Russian banks since they all own they and they KNOW how corrupt Russian banks are. The last place they’d put their own money is their corrupt banks. That means they need Western banking and investments to harbor their criminal gains. If we attack the gold seams that feed Putin and his pals, we’ll hurt them. Then, either we keep hurting them till they stop or we drain them dry of money. An oligarch without money is an oligarch without power. He’s a nobody.

On the one hand, Putin will savor the chaos yet to come — as prosecution of the insurrectionists begins and, increasingly, draws in Republican members of Congress who helped plan and execute the insurrection. But, it would be absurd to think Putin — with everything he’d done up to that point to make and keep Trump POTUS — that Putin had zero hand in the insurrection. Of course Putin had a hand in it. And those associations will find their way to the surface. Ironically, the insurrection may be the quickest way into prosecuting the entire GOP for treason. Once the idea of treason gets before a Grand Jury anywhere — and more than one traitor gets identified — we’ll have a treasonous conspiracy on our hands — with law enforcement pulling threads that seem to go everywhere.

Prosecuting and punishing every last Republican traitor (and if we don’t punish them or only punish a few, we’ll absolutely invite a repeat performance and soon) will focus the majority’s furor like few things could. Everyone hates being betrayed. Americans haven’t experienced betrayal this disruptive since the Civil War. And, hell — the majority of Americans were willing to take up arms and fight that betrayal.

Our news media — still wedded to framing every story from the Republican perspective — still have it in their heads (having normalized Trump) that his behavior on the world stage is “normal” for American presidents. They think it’s now “normal” for American presidents to have Vlad Putin’s dick in their mouths.

Putin will know — as he looks UP at Joe Biden — that he’ll be keeping his pecker in his pants. That goes for there in the room and outside it. Putin needs to be reminded that, except for its nuclear weapons, it’s a third world shit hole. It’s GDP is 24th in the world, about the same as Italy’s. Aside from crude oil, Russia produces nothing that anyone else wants (including their chaos).

This American leader will offer Putin a chance to get out of the rest of the world’s way. Either Putin will take it or he won’t. If Putin backs down, he’ll still end up sanctioned and his money targeted. But he’ll get to stay “President of Russia”. If Putin continues to be a pariah, he’ll be treated accordingly.

In the background meanwhile will be the ongoing investigation, prosecution and punishment of every American who conspired with Putin even unwittingly. The basic fact is this: Vladimir Putin cannot now or in the past have won an American election. If Putin did ANYTHING – big or small – to in any way “help” make Trump president then the whole enterprise of making Trump POTUS is corrupt and must be treated as such.

As Merrick Garland reminded us all just this morning: nothing is more important to the American democratic franchise than voting and the free and fair elections that make it possible for every eligible American to vote. The authority to govern Americans flows directly from those elections. If we did not elect you, you do not have that authority. We The People did not EVER elect Trump to be POTUS. If not for Russia literally MAKING Trump president, that scourge would NEVER have “taken over” the White House.

Our news media, dopy as ever, thinks this is about “deliverables”. It’s not. The meeting with Putin is very much about everything that precedes the meeting. That’s the context for the meeting. Whereas Trump would ditch our allies so he could openly fondle Putin in public, Biden has sat down with them first. Made peace and rekindled relationships. Then he will have turned to our collective enemy — knowing exactly what Putin has done to us and all our allies. And with THAT in his hand, he will reach toward Putin’s.

Republicans & Dead Ends

What does the Republican Party and a dead end have in common? Pretty much everything. The “modern” Republican Party (there’s an oxymoron if ever one existed) just isn’t that “into” democracy probably because democracy’s just not that into them. In the marketplace of ideas, Republicans are selling the past as what should be our future. By that they mean the future should look exactly like our past — predominantly white. That IS the whole point of conservatism after all — CONSERVING things. Politically, conservatives want to conserve the status quo or, preferably, the status quo as it was. The problem is, we really can’t live in the past. We all know people who try — those sad dudes who could never let go of high school. Sucks to peak early, I guess. That’s Republicans’ big problem: they peaked already. There’s no more “there” there where they’re concerned. The whole reason Republicans are resorting to voter suppression in the extreme is because they know they can’t appeal to those voters with their terrible, regressive ideas.

The GOP is gambling that their angry, violent minority can overpower the rest of us and cow us into compliance. Historians and talking heads point to all the places where this behavior has lead directly to authoritarian rule. That’s not encouraging but few of those places had America’s history of and with democracy. I don’t think it’s a given that people in this country roll over the way people in other countries have. It might take us a while to spark to revolt but the white minority doing this is such a minority — and, it’s America, EVERYONE has guns. Whatever that country turns into, it’s not going to be “America”. It’s not going to be the counter balance to Russia and China. It’s not going to be any kind of economic powerhouse because it will break down quickly.

What we’re witnessing is the Republican Party (the “Party of Lincoln”) attempting to re-start the Civil War so as to bring back slavery. The Republicans may not call what they have in mind “slavery” but, in time, it won’t differ (where the stolen labor is concerned) from what Black people had to endure in this country. If the Republicans could have their way, there’d BE no “minimum wage”. There’d be child labor and no such thing as “striking”. If Republicans could get everyone else to work for free (at its core, slavery is stolen labor), they’d think “Mission Accomplished”! — especially if all the extra profits ended up in their pockets.

The problem is, we all know this now. The news media still has it in its head that — because next year’s Biden’s first off-year election, norms say the Democrats will lose the House and Senate. That assumes we live in normal times. We don’t, of course. Not only is the electorate woke, we’re hyper woke. We’re keenly aware of what the Republican Party is doing; it’s the press that’s running miles behind.

The sum total of Republican ideas: how can they get richer than they are and hold onto power. Literally nothing else matters. Except maybe not going to prison for being traitors. The fact that Donald Trump was and is a traitor will be a fact of life — sooner than everyone thinks. The DoJ’s prosecution of the January 6 insurrectionists will, at some point, stumble over one very basic fact: Russia had a hand in it. Don’t think so? Don’t think Russia knew EVERYTHING that Team Trump and everyone around them was thinking? Once we break through to even the small acts of treason, the larger acts will become plain as day.

Want to talk about a dead end? Try treason. It’s a dead end for a country — as we nearly learned. But, now that the traitors have failed, their failure needs to be a dead end for every other perpetrator, too. They should have read the signs (posted and otherwise) and stopped. They knew what they were doing when they pressed on. They expected to win. How unfortunate for them.

Letting Donald Trump take over their party will be not just a dead end for the Republican Party but a cliff behind it.

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…