The Rule Of Law Never Stopped “Being”; We Stopped Enforcing It…

That’s an important framing. We’ve watched Donald Trump and the Republican Party violate the rule of law with impunity. They act as if the rule of law didn’t exist anymore. We have acted the same way — like the rule of law had ceased “to be”.

That’s not true. It’s a matter of perspective. We’re still inside an active crime scene.

Think of it this way: we’re not talking about our government being hijacked. We’re talking, say, about a car. A bloated orange car thief has just stolen our car at gunpoint. And, as we get back to our feet and watch the car thief drive off with our car, it absolutely feels as if the thief is getting away with the crime — as if the rule of law stopped “being”.

But there were cameras all around, seeing and recording what happened. We have tons of evidence. It’s not a question whether or not a crime was committed.

Let’s say, to keep the metaphor going, that we call the police and report the crime. But the police are shockingly unhelpful. The top cop is worst of all. And while a few of the others in power are going along with him, the majority of cops aren’t. We get it: there’s corruption in the police department.

The rule of law STILL is in effect. We’ve simply uncovered the fact that even more people are violating it — and violating it by not prosecuting it. All duly noted.

The majority of us understand exactly what’s happening. We never agreed to stop prosecuting the rule of law. We’ve come to see however what happens when you don’t follow the rule of law to the letter. If you don’t apply it equally to everyone? It will break down eventually. Not because the rule of law is flawed but because we haven’t followed it. If we had followed it, we wouldn’t have had a problem in the first place.

I think we’ve learned our lesson. Correction — those who’ve suffered from our unequal application of the rule of law — they’ve learned. And, as they take political power, they will insist not that we start the rule of law again, but that we start APPLYING IT again.

See the difference? It means that we’re still obligated by the rule of law to apply it during the times when we’d stopped applying it. The rule of law was still in effect. We also have to ask now WHY we stopped applying it equally — and who was responsible for that. The rule of law will insist.

That’s the thing about the rule of law. It takes the decision-making (whether to apply it or not) out of our hands. The answer’s always “Yes — we apply the rule of law”.

The Moment We START re-enforcing the rule of law again, every single Republicans will have a serious problem. Conspiracy works this way: see something, say something; see something, say nothing? We need to know WHY. Why did you say nothing when you saw something (potentially) unlawful going on? The rule of law says you cannot remain silent. Even if you only suspect someone is violating the rule of law, you are obligated by it to act. If you don’t? You are violating it. And the rule of law demands we act against you.

Back during the 2016 Republican convention, current GOP leader Kevin McCarthy famously entered a meeting of GOP muckety-mucks and said “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan just as famously told everyone there to “keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.”

They all agreed to keep a secret rather than call the FBI. They knew what would happen to them all if the rule of law was applied to them. They knew they were violating it.

That’s the thing that will surprise us when it happens — as it should happen. As it must: the rule of law will make it explicitly clear that Donald Trump, in legal fact, was never President of the United States. Not in any legal way. He couldn’t have been because he violated the rule of law in order to become president and the rule of law says explicitly that you cannot do that. Cheating to win means YOU DID NOT LEGALLY WIN.

That, too, is an important distinction to the rule of law and how we apply it. An election is not an abstraction. Its results — from the rule of law’s point of view — belong to the people. The rule of law is all about securing equality before the law for everyone. An election’s results — if they reflect how the electorate actually voted — should be the winning candidate’s marching orders. We elected you to do these things for us, now go do them!

What the Republicans did — with their Russian pals helping significantly — is alter the election’s outcome. Did they flip votes in machines — directly stealing the outcome (the icing on the cake)? We don’t know. No one’s ever done an official forensic investigation. The evidence is mounting that they should. But if that’s the only metric we’ll use for “stealing an election”? We’ll lose every election going forward.

We’ve been living through a new kind of asymetrical warfare using information, data and social media as weapons. Bombs and bullets are completely unnecessary to bring another country to its knees. If the Russians (or Chinese or Saudis or Iranians or North Koreans or some 400 pound guy in his basement) cut off our power grid tomorrow, we’d sue for peace, white flags raised high.

That’s not hypothetical war, it’s real war that we are really losing. But that’s only because we stopped using our most important asset: the rule of law.

It will take longer than it should for all the uncorrupted people at the police department to isolate the “bad apples” among them and hunt down the bloated orange scumbag who jacked our ride. We will get our car back.

And we will prosecute everyone — EVERYONE — who participated in the carjacking in any way, shape or form. It won’t be up to us whether we do that or not. We’ll have to.

Because the rule of law says so.

Can We PLEASE Stop Living Inside False Narratives?

Some false narratives are okay — Santa Claus, for instance.

In point of fact, no jolly, old white man lives at the North Pole where he “employs” (can we please see a labor contract?) elves who make toys for every child on earth — to be delivered over roughly a 12 – 24 hour period via a low tech sleigh pulled by dubious-tech flying reindeer.

It’s a false narrative to tell kids that a human such as Santa exists therefore they better behave themselves. Every time we tell a kid this tripe, we’re telling them we want an untruth to be the basis for their behavior. It won’t be the last time we pepper spray people with untruth and insist they believe it.

Most kids figure it out eventually. There’s no Santa Claus. Yeah, yeah — “culture” and “harmless” and “tradition” but a lie is a lie is a lie. We are still justifying a lie when we could just as easily have told them the truth.

Santa is a false narrative. So is “Donald Trump is a legitimate president therefore we should treat him as such”.

Donald Trump has never been legitimate. He’s been telling us that from the get-go. It might behoove us to listen to him. But, Donald Trump pushing a false narrative — his legitimacy — is one thing. The news media doing it — that’s a whole other thing entirely. That, probably, continues to be the biggest impediment to America solving its problems quickly (or at least more quickly): in the face of mounting evidence — that they themselves were reporting — the news media continues to report on Trump as if he was “normal” — as if his absurd, abnormal-to-its-core presidency was “normal”.

The evidence that our press lives inside a false narrative shows itself every time a reporter wonders aloud if Trump has finally “pivoted” or “changed tone” when all he did actually was read off a teleprompter or NOT act like an ape for two seconds. He didn’t call Mexicans rapists again or tell us how easy it is to score with chicks when you’re famous. Our press lives inside a false narrative that racists & rapists suddenly reform — as if they experienced a religious conversion.

Our press apparently believes in religious conversions. You know, cos “magic!”

I’d love to know who first belched out “both sides do it” and then made that pervasive idiocy the curriculum across America’s J schools. It’s lazy — intellectually, morally, reportorially. It starts by removing itself from the moral equation. “We’re not there to judge”, this brand of journalism tells itself. “We’re just there to report ‘the facts’ as we see them.” But, if you don’t judge facts — that is, if you give all information equal weight — true or untrue — then the the first thing that dies is perspective.

Everything’s a flat, treeless plain. No hills. No valleys.

When a terrible journalist like NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell repeats back the vile, lying puke that Trump or his press office spews — as if it “could” be true (and therefore they’re obligated to report it) — they’re giving it credence. It could be true. No, it can’t. And no amount of “coulding” will change that. Kelly O’Donnell reports virtually context free. I’m sure she’s a lovely person — warm and amiable (it’s how I perceive her anyway) — but an open mic & a camera on sticks could do what she’s doing and for a lot less money.

Bad journalists like Kelly foster the notion that Donald Trump’s presidency falls within the “perfectly normal” range. As Kelly is a trusted, professional storyteller (that’s what journalists are), the public then takes Kelly’s presentation as valid. Trump’s utter bullshit — delivered to Kelly with the utmost cynicism — has now been fed to the American news watching public as if it was “good for them”.

Kelly made bullshit wholesome.

It starts there. Then grows. No — it metastasizes because that’s what this is — a cancer. False narratives are a cancer of the consciousness. They get us believing things that are verifiably untrue (like “the coronavirus will just disappear!” — which will ultimately kill us just like a cancer.

Donald Trump turned his whole coronavirus response into a false narrative — into a whole string of them actually. The virus will disappear. It only kills old people. Masks make me look weak. He turned Black Lives Matter into a false narrative that this is about civil unrest. He turned his entire presidency into a false narrative that he isn’t owned outright by Russia. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect those dots.

You can’t ease yourself off of false narratives. You have to go cold turkey. Otherwise the false narrative will lure you back — using some false narrative.

We’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that Donald Trump’s entire presidency has been a giant false narrative. The rule of law has never stopped functioning; we simply stopped enforcing it. But, when we do go back to enforcing it, we’ll be obligated to deal with this patch right here — when we stopped enforcing it.

The rule of law is very clear: if you cheat to become the president, then you are not (and never have been) president. One plus one can never equal three. If Trump’s very legitimacy is a false narrative then everything inside the false narrative is — say it with me — “FALSE!” An illegitimate president never had the legitimate authority to anything presidential — especially nominate judges (with lifetime appointments). When you consider that getting to appoint those judges (despite Trump’s known illegitimacy) was the point of the exercise — none of this comports with the rule of law. The false narrative would be that it has something to do with Justice. It does not.

A lot of us felt the false narrative kick in the night Trump “won” the 2016 election. We were incredulous, terrified, gob-smacked. But we were also reacting in real time — and with incredible accuracy — to something very real: a strong sense that the man who’d just become president did not win.

We were right. That’s the narrative we should be starting from — that our news media should be starting from.

Donald Trump’s legitimacy is the biggest false narrative going.

The Rule Of Law Didn’t Let Us Down, We Let IT Down

Laws don’t enforce themselves. People have to do that for them. If people don’t enforce the rules they created for themselves, they shouldn’t be surprised when the rules stop being followed.

The Great Experiment that is the United States is its reliance upon law — not an individual ruler’s whims — as the basis for our co-existence with each other. In theory, the rule of law treats us as exactly equal before it. If I break a law, I will get treated the exact same as anyone else. The rule of law does not differentiate or make exceptions.

It’s the exceptions that ultimately kill the rule of law. The moment the rule of law treats one person differently, it opens the door to corruption. Others will want the same treatment. Some will get it. The rule of law is now broken.

Or is it? The rule of law hasn’t changed. It didn’t suddenly do something different that altered how it works. It didn’t slip out of gear or get a flat tire.

We stopped following it.

The fact that Donald Trump has never been punished for his overt criminality isn’t a proof that he can get away with anything because the rule of law doesn’t work, it’s proof that people let Trump get away with things because they refuse to enforce the rule of law against him. Not the same thing.

Trump thinks he can get away with shit because rich people, in general, get away with shit. Aside from Bernie Madoff — who got punished because he preyed on rich people — not many rich people ever have to pay for their criminal behavior. We made a terrible mistake allowing Gerald Ford to pardon Richard Nixon. Whatever short term “good feelings” were gained from an act of forgiveness were overshadowed by the even more criminal behavior of the former Nixonites who went to work for Trump: Paul Manafort and Roger Stone in particular.

If we had punished Nixon severely for his trespasses, would his sycohpants have been so quick to take up Nixon’s cause again? Yeah, guys like Haldeman and Ehrlichman went to prison, but Nixon didn’t — and that spoke louder to the Nixonites who managed to escape back into the shadows. The message wasn’t “don’t do it!”, it was “do it better so you don’t get caught!”

That was us letting the rule of law down. The rule of law’s still good, we said, except as it applies to Richard Nixon.

Nixon went on to rise from the ashes again. His reputation — which should have been stuck forever at “he IS a crook — saw him as a statesman again.

I guess it’s a white people thing — to let white people we perceive as “powerful” get away with anything they want. Cos “powerful”. And white.

We need to get it out of our heads that the rule of law stopped. It did not. We stopped following it — but the rule of law persisted. In order to win election 2016, Donald Trump & the GOP had to stop following the rule of law. That means a crime has gone unpunished, not that Trump is president.

Donald Trump & the Republican Party stole something very real in 2016. They stole the election’s real outcome. The fact that Trump, Russia and the GOP worked so hard to make that happen — that speaks to the nature of their conspiracy. Though it may not have been plotted out like in a movie — this fell together in pieces, jollied along by Russia as needed. Voter suppression, voter machine manipulation (we don’t know IF it happened but we don’t know it didn’t because no one has actually looked) and outright data theft: those stolen emails were first & foremost STOLEN.

It doesn’t matter what the emails said (in the end they said nothing). It matters only that they were stolen property being used nefariously by Russia. Every time the press danced along to “But her emails”, the press was buying into a bunch of thieves kicking their victim a little bit harder.

As Saint Ronnie Reagan would have put it, “There you go again”.

That was us letting the rule of law down — again.

The Democrats can’t “wait” till November — with a blowout in hand — to assert the rule of law’s return. They need to assert it’s return NOW. As Joe Biden did when he pointedly called out Russia for their intercessions in 2016 and now, We The people need to put Donald Trump & the GOP on notice: we see you openly committing crimes this very second — and we intend to prosecute you for it — starting with the crimes you committed on your way to stealing the presidency — and everything that came with that (judges especially).

The whole point of the Republican Party’s gambit was to undermine the rule of law. That deserves appropriate punishment. We owe it to the Republicans to tell them what’s coming — and then we owe it to ourselves and the rule of law to deliver it.