Freedom Is Never “FREE” — It Always Comes With Responsibilities

Pandemics bring clarity. This one has clarified that people who refuse to wear a mask because “We’re not the boss of them” have a five-year-old’s idea of “freedom”. They think freedom is getting to do whatever they want, wherever they want, however they want. If it bothers you or interferes with your rights — or infects you with their disease? That’s not their problem — and anything you do to affirm YOUR rights automatically steps all over theirs. They have plenty of rights. The rest of us? Not so much. Sounds like Libertarians, doesn’t it? And Tea Partiers? And Republicans in general.

My dad was a captain in the Air Force. He was fond of saying “Rank has its privileges and its obligations”. Everyone loves the sugar coating. But that coating’s on a Brussel sprout. And you have to eat that too.

Every freedom — whether to say what you like or love who you like — comes with exceptions. You are NOT free to threaten people with your words. You are NOT free to love people who aren’t old enough to judge whether or not to love you back. You are NOT free to take your legally owned weapon and discharge it at will in public. Without those exceptions to complete and total freedom, we’d have complete and total chaos. It’s the “responsibilities” that make freedom workable. But only if everyone agrees to meet those responsibilities.

As we’re now learning the hard way, if too few Americans don’t take their responsibility to vote seriously, that very right gets eroded — by people who don’t want them to vote period. Voting shouldn’t be a “use it or lose it” proposition. It should be more “use it because it fills you with PRIDE to use it”. Or “use it because that’s how a representative democracy like ours works”. Use it because it’s your responsibility.

People who take their rights for granted are setting themselves up for failure. That would be us — right about now. Freedom, it turns out, is a muscle that must be warmed up, stretched and worked out like any other. It needs to be looked after so it can look after us.

By the same token — the rule of law is just an idea we invented. It cannot and will not enforce itself. That’s entirely up to us. If we want to live under the rule of law — and Donald Trump has demonstrated what the alternative would be — then we have to live by it We have to enforce it.

And we have to make sure that everyone who violates it — regardless of who — gets treated exactly the same.

That includes the punishment part.

Dear Republicans: We The People Are Angrier At You Than You Realize

It’s a line that sends chills through the spine of every married man who ever cheated: “I will NOT be ignored, Dan.” That’s what Glenn Close’s character in “Fatal Attraction”, Alex, says a few screen minutes before she boils a pet rabbit. She’s pissed and her feelings will have to be assuaged before the rage dies down. We The People know just how Alex feels. Donald Trump and the Republican Party have done us wrong every which way. The bastards have boiled our rabbit even. And, for that, they must atone.

The Republicans are now all-in on their power grab. The soft coup d’etat they started in 2016 (Donald Trump, we will learn, won neither the popular NOR the Electoral College votes — now that we account for and remove Russia’s impact on the results. Russia cannot win an American election. Neither can the political party that aligned themselves with a hostile foreign power carrying out an act of cyber war.

That’s something else the Republicans don’t realize they’ve done. The anger at them isn’t simple. It isn’t about one thing. It’s about a whole bunch of things — that ultimately come down to one thing (greed). But, as we stand here in the midst of the most important election this country will ever have, what will strike us is how many terrible, criminal, corrupt things the Republicans have done — and how much they deserve to be punished for every last bit of it.

Were it just the treason alone, of course, that would be bad enough. Perversely, the catalogue of Trumpian criminality is so vast that we’ve already forgotten that Donald Trump is the first president EVER to run for re-election having been IMPEACHED for cheating in the very election he’s now running in. We ain’t in Kansas here, Toto. Even Kansas isn’t in Kansas anymore.

Republican greed and selfishness have now resulted in actual American death. Their response to the pandemic can never be forgiven. They’ve effectively gutted the rule of law. That can’t be forgiven either. We will get it back in working order though — and when we do, Republicans will be shocked by how many of them suddenly have giant legal problems. Pretty much all of them will actually. See something, say something. See something, say nothing? We have to ask “Why?”

Why did so many Republican say nothing when they KNEW it was morally, ethically and legally wrong?

We’re angry now because we see the Republican Party and Donald Trump cheating out in the open. We see how we outnumber them. We see how we are the majority and they are not. That they are still trying to impose their will over us — well, frankly, that’s really pissing us off. Having been on the receiving end of sexual assault when I was 14, I know what this feeling on the back of my neck is. Donald Trump and the Republicans may not be physically assaulting us but the impact on our minds is no different.

We feel under assault because we are under assault. And, having told them to stop repeatedly, now that we’ve gotten to our feet, we intend to make the Republican Party stop. They will not like how this ends.

I’m not saying the feeding frenzy around the Republicans as the accusations start to land won’t be fun to watch. It absolutely will be. But the catharsis will be exquisite. That’s what will drive us, drive our fury: our need to catharsis our way past this moment of epic awfulness.

There’s an “uh oh” moment coming to the GOP as more and more Republicans realize that not only are they losing the election, but also they’re entering a winter wilderness of shame, investigation, indictment and financial hardship. You can already hear them begging for a deal if only to lighten their brutal sentencing.

And the sentencing for what the Republicans have done will be brutal — at least it will seem that way to them. As we all know, most Republicans are nothing but soft, white underbelly. They’re bullies at heart, good at kicking their victims when they’re down — but only if someone is holding them down. They’re charmless sociopaths out on a joyride.

In their calculus, the Republicans must think we’ll feel obligated to keep what they did because… that’s how criminals think. They don’t want to give back what they stole but then — IT’S NOT UP TO THEM. We The People are the victims of a crime perpetrated upon us by the Republican Party. In 2016, We The People voted one way — for Hillary Clinton and whatever she wanted to make of her presidency — but, instead, were given Donald Trump because the Republican Party had conspired with Russia to alter the results in three key states: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

We will arrive here: Donald Trump is not now nor has he ever been the legitimate president. He had no right or business taking any oath of office (that he would break even as he spoke it). He’s the only fake in our fake news cavalcade. Having never been the legitimate potus with the legitimate authority vested in him, at no point did he ever have the authority to sign legislation into law, make presidential pronouncements, put together a cabinet or even nominate judges. IOW Donald Trump never had the authority to nominate a single one of the unqualified hacks he nominated up to and including Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barnett.

There really are a thousand very good reasons for Americans to be angry at Donald Trump. What he’s done to this country is, well, criminal.

The Best Thing One Can Say About Originalism Is That It’s Total, Utter Nonsense

Antonin Scalia — the King of Originalism — should have taken originalism to the grave with him. Not that the worms deserve either. Intellectually, originalism is the quintessential make-it-up-as-you-go-along, “White Guy” argument. “But the rules! But the rules!” says the one who wrote the rules, then broke them repeatedly then got upset when others threatened to write the rules instead. Even on its surface, originalism stinks. Scratch that surface and you unleash a whole sewage system of awfulness.

Never mind the fact that the King of Originalism, Scalia, set originalism aside to write the decision that will most define him: Bush v Gore. Not only did he set originalism aside to write that bit of flaming horse shit, he made Bush v Gore a one-time deal. It followed no rules then made itself unique — all in one neat, corrupt, decision.

Originalism insists the Constitution is stuck in time; therefore so is America. If not for those nasty amendments, America would still be a bastion for rich, white, Christian land owners. Like in the 1780s. The opposite view sees the Constitution as a living, breathing, dynamic document (designed) to serve America’s living, breathing, dynamic population. You know, what that famous Republican president called “Government OF the People, BY the People and FOR the People.”

Originalism is about controlling the mythology and pretending it’s the law. It’s Magical Thinking written in lawyer font.

It’s about pretending words say things they don’t.

It’s all about cynicism.

The only correct response when some right wing nitwit hauls originalism onto the table is “Oh, shut up”. The goal is to make you chase them down their rabbit hole because that’s what originalism is: a damned rabbit hole.

“Oh, shut up.” See? Easy!

Mitch McConnell And The Republicans Are Hijacking The Judiciary Because They’re All About JUDGING Us…

Mitch McConnell thinks America’s his “handmaiden”. When we get Moscow Mitch under oath, one thing we must ask the Treason Turtle is when exactly he signed onto the mission the RW money (the Kochs especially) assigned him: the hijacking of the federal judiciary. When specifically did Mitch agree to refuse President Obama (elected by clear MAJORITIES both times) the right to populate the federal bench the way We The People wanted him to. That’s why we elected him, you see — we wanted HIS choices because they reflect OUR choices. Mitch McConnell’s choice, on the other hand, reflect only the RW Money’s choices.

Strange… that doesn’t seem like “democracy”. I doubt it’s coincidental.

If you want to know just how cynical the Republicans are about the future, just look at how they’re trying to shove Amy Barnett down America’s unwilling throat — like we were a “handmaiden” or something. Their gamble is this: a nine-member SCOTUS, dominated 6-3 by arch conservatives will (somehow) keep Donald Trump in power, destroy the ACA permanently and make abortion & reproductive rights a state-by-state fiasco. They seem to believe that if they can accomplish those things, their work will have been worthwhile.

Boy, is it going to suck to be them.

Ironically, it’s the RW’s fear of socialized anything that will hasten the arrival of socialized everything. Their assault on the ACA will make universal single payer, Medicare-for-all a necessity. Their catastrophically bad reaction to the pandemic made it inevitable. In the face of a pathogen like the coronavirus, we can only be as healthy as the least healthy among us. Everyone needs access to health CARE — as opposed to health insurance. As I’ve said here ad nauseum: America has a health INSURANCE system rather than a health CARE system. The first question we ask anyone walking in the door isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?”

That is inhumane. It’s disgusting. But that’s what the Republican Party wants for America.

As the Reagan years drew to a close, the RW money recognized they had a problem. A diversifying America would, eventually, they realized, overwhelm them demographically. When that day came, white people’s hold on political power would begin to erode. The Kochs, the Mercers et al were not going to let that happen (because power equals money). The RW money — being damned smart — saw that the executive branch was pretty much gone. Take away Bush v Gore — where Antonin Scalia’s one-time, originalist-ignoring intercession into the 2000 presidential election handed the election to Bush — and Trump’s dubious win and the Republicans haven’t won the White House since Reagan. The RW money wrote off holding the presidency.

Congress was trickier. The House — being the most direct link to citizens — can be mercurial. If you’re trying to create permanent minority rule, the US House of Representatives would be your giveaway. The other side can have it (if you can’t). The real deal is holding the Senate. McConnell is betting he can hold the Senate forever. He has to or the rest of the plan falls apart.

Too bad the Senate’s about to slip from Mitch’s grasp. States like Texas and Alaska are suddenly competitive with Democrats within the margin of error or, at worst, “margin of error adjacent”. The Senate flipping will screw up everything for Mitch — even worse than losing the White House. The White House can be isolated. The POTUS can be reduced to a figurehead spouting shit in a perpetual loop.

Losing the Senate will make losing the judiciary another inevitability. Mitch knows he’s violated plenty of laws to get where he is. When under oath, we’ll also need Mitch to answer why he was so determined to get that $400 million dollar Russian aluminum factory built in West Kentucky. Yeah, yeah — jobs. Whatever. Except Mitch doesn’t give a damn about jobs. Or Kentuckians.

Mitch cares about himself. He cares about his sugar daddies. He cares about remaining Senate Majority Leader. He cares about being under oath — and paying the penalty for lying while there. He cares about not dying in prison, old, broken, hated and incontinent. Unfortunately for Mitch, Karma feels differently.

Take this to the bank: the Democrats absolutely WILL alter the size of the SCOTUS — because circumstances (including the Republicans’ overtly criminal behavior) demand it. Their guide should be America. Our final arbiter needs to look like US — and not just one part of us. If it takes adding another 100 seats in order for the SCOTUS to more accurately reflect us, they we need to do it.

At the end of the day, Republicans really want to have the judiciary in their grasp because they love judging us. That’s what hypocrites are best at — judging other people for the same behavior they themselves are guilty of. And nothing ices the cake of a judgmental Republican’s judginess than having a giant, red cherry of hypocrisy right on top of everything.

Judge a Republican and their head explodes. Judge a whole “party” of Republicans (that’s the collective name for them — “a party” or “a corruption” — “a corruption of Republicans” also works) and you get a 4th of July fireworks display. In Moscow.

Republicans live to judge the rest of us. At least, they used to. They’re about to live the rest of their lives being judged — and not by scolds either: by the rule of law.

Just as Republicans know nada about anything, they know nada about how judging really works. If they pay attention to what happens to them, they’ll learn.

Russia Didn’t “Influence” 2016’s Outcome, Russia CHANGED It — And That Matters

The rest of the world’s leaders show what THEY think of Vlad Putin while Donald Trump shows what HE thinks. See the difference?

You’d think that a journalist, hearing from a reliable, informed source that Russia (a hostile foreign power) had “influenced” (or even tried to influence) an American election to favor Donald Trump (who’d laundered Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos), would ask the next obvious question: “Really? Russia actually INFLUENCED the outcome of our election? How exactly did they do that? In what ways? To what ends and effects?” You’d think a journalist would recognize a Woodward-Bernstein-sized opening? There’s already mountains of evidence that indeed Russia DID influence the 2016 election. You’d think American journalists would be the loudest canaries in this coal mine — squawking their heads off that Donald Trump is a traitor who owes Russia (perhaps even Vlad Putin himself) hundreds of millions of dollars!

That’s the hardest thing to wrap one’s head around where our press is concerned. There has been some amazing reporting. But it’s always forced to share oxygen with an overload of “both sides do it” hackery and sheer access-craving cowardice. The TV news media — where most Americans get their news — seems incapable or unwilling to aggregate its own reporting. They see pieces of the mosaic but never the mosaic itself; in fact, they don’t seem to grasp that what they’re staring at is a mosaic.

If America’s news media had aggregated its own story — much like the remarkable Seth Abramson has done — they’d already be miles further along in the narrative. When we get to the part of the story where everything gets fully revealed — and we will — we’ll discover that all sorts of crimes were being committed in real time while we watched. In other words — crimes are being committed right this second that we could be pointing at or better yet stopping.

But our news media keeps restarting the narrative every day from some bizarre square one where nothing we’ve learned exists. Instead, our news media starts its day reporting from a place where Trump’s just “a different sort of POTUS” who doesn’t follow the rules or the norms, calls Mexicans rapists and grabs women’s pussies because he’s rich and “they’ll let him”, where lying isn’t just anticipated, it’s accepted!

From the get-go, our news media poo-pooed the idea that Donald Trump’s presidency was 100% illegitimate. They’ve insisted that We The People “elected” Trump — inventing a narrative to explain how Trump “won” Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. What, oh what, will our News Media do when, at last, they’re confronted with the stone cold truth: by using proprietary polling data (supplied by Paul Manafort) to suppress Black voting (that is criminal right THERE!), Russia made it possible for just enough vote flipping to capture PA/WI/MI’s electoral votes for Trump. Recall — those three BLUE states were “won” by a combined 77,000 votes.

In the face of all that Russian activity — that we KNOW was happening — you’d be insane to think Donald Trump “won” anything legitimately. Well, you’d be insane or a Republican.

Donald Trump has never — not for one stinking day — been the legitimate President Of The United States.

Nothing he’s done has had the actual authority that flows from We The People.

He’s never had the authority therefore to change anything he’s changed, push the tax breaks he pushed, or nominate a single one of the judges he nominated — SCOTUS judges especially. But then, judges and hijacking the judiciary has always been the point of the exercise.

Battening down the judiciary has always been how the RW money (the Kochs & the Mercers) were going to stop America’s “slide” into diversity and a more civilized, socialized form of governing ourselves instead of forcing us into the authoritarian, church-based neo-feudalism of their wettest wet dreams. Russia did not pose a problem for them. It presented a partner.

A partner in crime.

We The People sat here — for bloody years — thinking that either or both Robert Mueller and the FBI were deep into probing Donald Trump’s foreign entanglements — especially his painfully obvious relationship with Russia, Russian gangsters and dirty Russian money. We had no idea that Rod Rosenstein had stuck a shiv in our back. There was no investigation of Trump’s foreign entanglements. Russia has truly been at the wheel of our ship of state from the instant Trump both took and broke his oath of office at the very same instant.

That needs our immediate attention. Our self-destructive pandemic response is part and parcel of every other Russian perversion of our government. It’s meant to disarm us, weaken us and make us look foolish to the world. The goal is keep us on the sidelines for as long as possible while Vladimir does his worst to Europe and the rest of the world. The thing he fears most is an American government that ends his free-for-all.

Vlad knows a day of reckoning his coming. With the Democrats in power, Vlad Putin will become a kind of persona non gratta. We will hunt down every bank account he has an interest in. Remember — Vlad can’t do his banking in Russia — it’s too corrupt. He relies on our regulated, much more trustworthy banks to hide and launder the massive pile of money he’s stolen from his own people.

Every sanction we had on Russia will go back. Plus a thousand more. It is going to suck to be them. They’ll have to take it up with Vladimir.

That scares Vladimir almost as much as being poor.

Russia cannot get to win in any way, shape or form. That shouldn’t be a revelation. Russia worked with Trump for dark, nefarious reasons. Trump worked with Russia for dark, nefarious reasons. The Republican Party worked with both Trump AND Russia for dark and nefarious reasons. They’re all thieves and criminals.

And — in the America that’s about to reassert itself — thieves and criminals never get to keep what they stole including the will of the American People. The intent of our Will was clear as can be in 2016. It’s even clearer today.

It is absurd to argue that America “has to” accept and keep the political consequences of criminal acts — including treason. We absolutely do not — and will not.

There are many hard battles ahead. Doing the right thing is never easy unfortunately but — as we should have learned with slavery — screw up your country’s founding principles at the founding? It will haunt you forever.

We’d be stupid as a Republican to go and make THAT foolish mistake again.

It Isn’t Just That A Trump Second Term Would Destroy American Democracy Forever, A Trump Second Term Would Finish Turning Us Into Him

Former Republican Rick Wilson got it so right: everything Trump touches dies. There are no exceptions to that rule.

Like a virus, Donald Trump can’t survive without a host. In our case, us. If he can’t infect us, he can’t reproduce his toxicity in sufficient quantity to survive. The best he can do is infect those around him and make more feckless, corrupt, ugly children.

Trump craves adoration because if he can get you to adore him, he can get you to do anything for him. Including die. Trumpism reproduces inside its adherents, zombifying them until they’re permanently cut off from reason, logic, facts, truth.

Just like that, a Trump follower’s needs are Trump’s needs.

There should never have been a first term of this disease. Take Russia out of the Trump equation and he never runs for office. He’s already broke and living on the street because no one was there to step in and rescue his bankrupt casinos or pay him a tidy $54 million profit on a white elephant house in Florida.

During his first term, Trump finished turning the entirety of the Republican Party into him. Take Lindsey Graham — a man who at one point said out loud that if the Republican Party followed Donald Trump, they’d deserve the certain destruction he’d cause them. Lindsey also said he’d never go along with naming a SCOTUS judge in an election year. I bet, when we finally get him under oath, Lindsey tells a long, complex, sordid tale about how exactly a person gets that corrupt and that vulnerable to corruption.

We don’t need Donald Trump to tell us that story because he’s already told it himself. He’s lived a life of corruption and — staggeringly — gotten away with it.

Our news media can’t seem to remember that Donald Trump is the first president ever to be impeached and then run for re-election — having been impeached for CHEATING in the very election he’s running in. That’s an amazing amount of normalization of stuff that should never be normalized. Then again, our news media oversaw the normalization of “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” and “Both sides are good people” and “15 cases will go to zero” and “fake news” and “our military are all suckers and losers” and on and on and on.

Normalization works exactly like an infection. It’s essential to Trumpism. We are the frog thinking the pool’s a little warmer than usual today — when, in fact, it’s boiling hot and we’re about to be frog soup.

There’s one answer to this: No.

The Republican Party is gambling everything on muscling the majority of Americans into submission. They’re slave masters after all, with a whip in their hand.

Oh, the surprise they’re all in for. We’ve taken the last whipping from them. We’ll have that whip — and rather than just turn it on them, we’ll subject them to the rule of law. They’ll wish we’d used the whip instead.

There’s A Huge Difference Between Skepticism & Cynicism; Here’s Why That Matters

At the same moment a skeptic and a cynic cock their eyebrows in doubt, two very different things happen inside their heads.

The skeptic wants more evidence before passing judgment. The cynic has already made up his mind. In fact, his mind was made up at the start — and he already assumed the very worst. That means all the evidence that the skeptic finds important is meaningless to the cynic.

A skeptical voter wants to hear from both candidates. For them, the devil’s in the details — and so’s their vote. A cynical voter hasn’t read anything more than the headlines. Both sides do it so voting just contributes to the bad behavior. Cynical voters either don’t vote or vote against things, never “for”. It’s not like they have some vision they believe in. They’re empty and nihilistic. They couldn’t care less if the whole structure blew apart. It’s all the same to them.

In their defense, cynics aren’t necessarily responsible for their own cynicism. Plenty of cynical people became that way, acquiring their cynicism like a virus they picked up by going maskless at a Trump campaign rally. Their cynicism bled through their TV screens. A few may have picked it up through the newsprint they were reading. “Both sides do it” is as cynical as bullshit gets. It paints a picture with a brush so broad all one can see is the damned brush.

During Trump’s impeachment and Senate trial (hey, remember that — that Donald Trump was impeached and is the first POTUS ever to run for re-election AFTER BEING IMPEACHED?), our news media leaned heavily on comparisons between what was happening to Trump with what happened to Bill Clinton when he was impeached — for lying about a blow job. See the problem? Yeah, yeah, yeah — impeachment. Both stories have that in common.

But a blow job and acts that scream “TREASON” aren’t quite the same thing. That IS what Trump was impeached over — election fraud in league with a hostile foreign enemy. No blow job in the history of blow jobs could ever equal election fraud never mind treason. Yet, there was our news media essentially saying out loud that one impeachment was exactly equal to the other. They must be equal because “both sides do it”.

Excuse me for being skeptical.

When Republicans work to suppress Democratic voters (they never work to suppress their own of course — and Democrats NEVER work to suppress Republican voters because both sides don’t do that), they’re doing it for an entirely political reason: to get or hold onto power. There’s no policy basis for it. There’s no appealing to those voters as potential Republican voters. There’s the conclusion that those voters will vote against them and therefore they should not be allowed to vote. And if they DO vote, that vote should not be counted. When Democrats, by contrast, react to their votes and voters being suppressed, that is NOT them reacting politically. They’re reacting to their RIGHTS being violated — in other words, A CRIME.

But then our news media equates the vote suppressors (acting politically) with the vote “suppressees” (acting as the victims of a crime). It’s exactly like equating the victim of a mugging with the mugging. If you were there while the mugging was going on, it must be because you were “part of it”. “Both sides do it” understands — correctly — that both sides have a point of view. It misunderstands that a point of view isn’t necessarily legitimate. The bully and the bully’s victim have distinctly different points of view on their interaction. The bully cannot justify his — unless we see bullying and being its victim as equally justified and justifiable.

Remember back when America (and virtually nowhere else) debated the validity of climate science? America’s television news media would put a climate scientist (with facts and data at their fingertips) up against a climate denier (with nothing but their paid-for-by-polluters opinion). This, already, is not an equal fight. We’re pitting facts and reality up against bullshit.

These two people would share a screen split 50-50. In video vocabulary, a 50-50 screen says “these two points of view have equal value”. They could both be true — it’s up to the viewer to make up their mind. But that’s a false premise — because it’s not challenging the non-facts one side presents as legitimate argument. When the cameras roll, the climate scientist will have to spend valuable time trying to convince the TV audience that the bullshit they’re being forced to argue against is bullshit. Then, when the climate denier does the same thing — arguing that the facts are bullshit — the 50-50 of it all comes home to roost. A news show has given credence to nonsense.

A more accurate way to visually present the truth here would be to have the climate scientist filling 99% of the screen (relative to the value of the facts they brought to the studio) while the climate denier fills a few pixels up in the corner of the frame. The audio track would reflect the same balance. Result? We wouldn’t hear the climate denier’s voice — which is as it should be because they are lying and this is how we should think about the acceptable ratio of truth to lying in our discourse.

Cynicism is running rampant in America because, in large part, our news media is so cynical.

That doesn’t reflect reality and it doesn’t reflect who we really are as a nation. Not the majority of us. To be cynical is to think “Yeah, Mexicans ARE rapists”, women should be grabbed by their pussies, it’s okay if we canoodle with Putin and every other despot on earth, hundreds of thousands of Americans dead from the coronavirus is just “how it is”.

No, it isn’t.

If Trump’s Presidency Was The Direct Product Of Criminality & Treason, Then It Was Never A “Presidency” & Nothing It Did Can Stand

Check the law. I think this still applies in most of America. If a guy steals your car, gets caught in it, gets tried & convicted for stealing it — he doesn’t get to keep your car. If he hasn’t already chopped it up for parts, he gives it back.

Because it was never his.

Let’s put this in terms even Trump might comprehend. If the winner of a beauty pageant is found to have cheated, she doesn’t get to keep her crown. Same goes for all the other prizes that went with it. When we strip you of your “win” because you didn’t achieve it legitimately, you don’t get to keep any part of what the actual winner is entitled to.

The same goes for presidents.

As I’ve said here before, the rule of law did not let us down here. We (yet again) let IT down. That’s an important distinction. The rule of law is the only possible arbiter between us. It’s the only way that everyone gets treated equally and fairly. Its one real weakness is it can’t enforce itself. The rule of law relies entirely on us to do the heavy lifting.

It’s time we started building a little moral muscle mass. When we reassert the rule of law as our true guiding principle, the first thing the rule of law will demand we do is punish those who violated it — meaning those who broke it relentlessly during the period when we weren’t enforcing it. Meaning those who broke it with the intent of destroying it.

The rule of law will be clear-eyed. It will see how Donald Trump slowly corrupted the entire Republican Party. How Russia corrupted it. How greed and the fear of rapidly changing demographics corrupted their thinking — especially how their “money” thought.

Based entirely on what’s already been established via actual evidence (hell, just follow Cambridge Analytica’s trail!), we know that Russia hitched its wagon to Republicans and Republicans hitched their wagon to Russia. Money poured into GOP coffers from myriad directions — filtered through Russian emigrees living here whose retirement checks from Mother Russia suddenly doubled or tripled. Lots was laundered through the NRA. Some landed via totally legal PAC donations. Legal, that is, until we peel back the cover on them. If those donations are part of a larger crime? They’re not quite as “legal”.

Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy may have been surprised to learn there were two people Putin paid — Rohrbacher and Trump — just before he walked into that meeting of Republican muckety-mucks during the 2016 GOP convention. The response he got from then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan — “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here” suggests Paul Ryan wasn’t surprised.

He didn’t respond “What? Why do you say this, Kev’? What is that based on?” He didn’t frown and say “Geez, somebody get the FBI on the phone. We have a real problem here!”

No, Paul Ryan said “Let’s keep it secret”. It. The thing they all knew was illegal: the very presidential campaign they were all part of.

You don’t have to be a willing participant in treason to be a traitor. Knowing about it is where your problem begins. Suspecting it even. Having a vague suspicion even — and not doing anything. We have to ask “why?” Why did you say or do nothing?

Citizenship, as the rule of law will remind us, has benefits but obligations too. Voting, for instance. But also standing up for the rule of law — enforcing it ourselves as citizens by reporting gross violations when we see them. Don’t want to take your fears to the “proper authorities”? Fine. Take them to the news media. The Fourth Estate is the one job mentioned in the Constitution — as the final check on power. When we excise “both sides do it” from the journalism school curriculum, they too will begin to work as designed.

The news media, more than anyone, has perverted our thinking. In the same way that they accepted “Mexicans are rapists”, they accepted that cheating to win is just another way to win. Here we are — in a presidential race — where one of the candidates is the first sitting POTUS ever to run having been IMPEACHED. For cheating in the very election he’s running in. And the news media can’t seem to remember that fact. FFS, it should be the STARTING POINT for telling the election’s story: for the first time in history, one of the two candidates HAS BEEN IMPEACHED.

It’s not just weird that Trump’s impeachment has already faded into distant memory, it’s obscene.

Take Russia out of the equation entirely and Donald Trump doesn’t even run for president. Take Russia out of the Trump equation entirely and Trump lost everything years and years ago. He didn’t get rescued out of his bankrupted casinos. He doesn’t get an ounce of help from a single Russian mobster. He doesn’t find $55 million in his pocket (via a white elephant mansion in Florida), convinced it came from Putin directly. If Russia never sinks a kopek into Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump pisses away everything Fred Trump ever made. Donald Trump ends up broker than broke.

He certainly doesn’t get re-invented by Mark Burnett as some genius businessman. Even a bullshit artist like Burnett couldn’t re-invent the king of skid row as “the great negotiator”.

Everything about Trump, his life, his accomplishments — it’s all absolutely phony. That includes his presidency. Well, just like the car thief and beauty pageant cheater, Trump will not get to keep the stuff that came with his “win”.

He won’t get to be POTUS anymore for starters. But, more importantly, everything that happened during his presidency must now be seen through the lens of “Donald Trump never had the authority to do ______”. Remember — we’re not revoking Trump’s authority, we’re pointing out that he never had the authority to begin with. The authority to be POTUS flows from the Constitution and the rule of law. It flows, ultimately, from We The People — and this self-governing government of ours — warts and all. You cannot legally steal that authority. If you even attempt to steal it in any way, shape or form then whatever authority you acquire is not legally yours.

And whatever you did — while illegally having that authority — is just as illegal. It lacked the authority that was never legally given over.

It’s just a stone cold fact. A stolen presidency cannot and does not have the authority to do anything whatsoever. It can’t craft legislation for the Congress to consider (in its capacity as the executive). It can’t issue “executive orders” or decrees. It can’t nominate judges.

Judges, after all, are the whole point of the exercise. The Right Wing money saw demographic destruction in their future. A diversifying population — diversifying and progressive by nature — spelled the end of white hegemony. The RW money (the Kochs, the Mercers) got that except for outright theft, the executive branch was going to be forever Democratic. The House of Reps? Too untrustworthy to invest in (especially when you have to pony up every two years for re-elections vs four for a POTUS and six for a senator). The Senate seemed a better bet — especially with a master politician like Mitch McConnell.

Make no mistake: Mitch McConnell is one of the worst Americans ever. He’s corrupt to his bone marrow. He’s racist as hell, petty and treasonous. But he’s also skilled at the game of politics. The RW money spent wisely on Mitch McConnell. If anyone was corrupt enough to try and see their hijacking through, it was going to be Moscow Mitch.

But, Mitch, too, has Russian connections. Mitch has taken plenty of Russian money into his campaign coffers. He lifted the sanctions on Oleg Deripaska in order to get Deripaska’s $400 million for a Russian aluminum factory in Dirt Poor, KY. Those sanctions, BTW, were put there because Deripaska actively participated in Russia’s theft of the 2016 election result.

Just watch when Mitch finally gets put under oath, his teeny-tiny turtle testicles in a vice grip.

Just watch when every one of these treasonous bastards gets put under oath.

It will be hard for us — after that happens — after the full, terrible truth of what happened here gets fully outed. Most of it will especially after all the co-conspirators begin turning on each other, looking for a better deal.

Now, think about this — as the criminals who did this to us begin to point fingers at each other — describing grander and grander schemes to defraud us of the electoral outcome we ACTUALLY voted for? Do you really think we’ll be inclined to let these pirates keep what they stole from us — from our children and their future?

Not if I can help it they won’t.

I Have A Feeling THESE 20’s Are About To “Really” Roar

The Roaring 1920’s brought economic prosperity to the Western world — until a lot of that prosperity turned out to be phony, crony capitalism — and the world plunged into the Great Depression. These 20’s — the 2020’s — are about to roar as well — but for a whole different reason. The underlying cause is about the same — greed and power lust — but this time with the added weight of racism, bigotry and sexism. All those things have worked in concert with greed and power lust up until now.

The Roaring 2020’s are about to shut that down.

The problem with conservative thinking is that it stifles innovation. Innovation scares conservatives because innovation always takes us forward while conservatives (as their name says) want to conserve — what is and what was. Conservative thinking also stands behind racism, bigotry and sexism. You may disapprove of Trump’s racism — while enjoying your billionaire’s tax cut — but the fact is: if you stand with racists for any reason, it makes YOU a racist. Or a bigot. Or a misogynist.

Or a Republican.

A Great Moral Reckoning is coming. Corruption has had its way with us and we’re both disgusted by it and over it. This toothpaste is not going back into its tube.

The roaring can be heard in our streets, at Black Lives Matter protest marches. It can be seen blazing indignantly in the eyes of Democratic legislators unable to get any sort of realistic, meaningful financial assistance legislation past Moscow Mitch McConnell. We The People are the ones roaring now. We couldn’t wrap our minds around the openly criminal way Trump stole election 2016. At least now a few more people are appropriately woke. They see Trump cheating and call it out.

The only problem — they (and we) have got to stop equating cheating with winning — as if one could cheat to win and get away with it because why not?

Part of our roar needs to be “if you cheated to ‘win” then you did not win”.

Republicans fear our roar more than we know. That’s why they’re so determined to hush it. They know that significant power that still resides in the will of the people.

Until they can finally kill that dead, Republicans will have to play a dangerous game of cat & mouse. In this case though, the mouse has a secret weapon — the Truth — on its side.

Stealing Elections For Dummies

We The People have two problems facing us as we careen toward this election. Problem number one: The Republican Party is doing everything it can — including commit treason — to hold onto the power they stole in the last election.

Problem number two: our news media — even while reporting that Trump and the GOP are openly cheating in order to win — behave as if cheating to win and winning without cheating are the exact same thing.

No, they are not. The rule of law says cheating can NEVER equal winning. Now, the rule of law isn’t going to enforce itself. WE have to do that. But we can’t enforce the rule of law if we refuse to observe even its most basic tenets — like, say, you can’t cheat in order to win. If the press sat down to a card game and could never win because the person they were playing with cheated not only relentless but openly, they’d say something eventually. But, with Donald Trump, even if they do say something, they immediately assume that “Oh well, it’s Trump — cheating is “what it is”.

No, it’s NOT.

When republicans gerrymandered voting districts, they did it with the specific purpose of denying the majority their voice. That’s the whole point of gerrymandering. It’s to give a minority of voters political power far beyond what it should be entitled to. The point is, literally, to circumvent the will of the people. Do you think Republicans would have to gerrymander districts if they thought they could win them on the strength of their ideas?

It’s not just that Republicans fear Democratic voters. It goes deeper — beneath the labels to actual philosophy. Republicans fear the equality under the rule of law that Democrats want. They want special treatment under the rule of law — the same special treatment they’ve gotten up till now — at the expense of people of color, Black people especially.

Republicans, being conservative, want to “conserve” what is. Their name says it all. The future, in their minds, should be exactly the same as the present. The present, to them, already represents too much compromise with the future. They want to slow or stop any future evolution of our thinking and ways of doing things. Innovation is conservatism’s enemy. It has to be. All innovation causes change and change is anathema to conservatism.

If Republicans were honest, they’d campaign on a platform that promised to take America back to the 50’s — the 1850’s — back when being a voter meant being a white, Christian, landowning male. But then, if they did that, who’d vote for them?

There’s the rub. That’s why Republicans gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters and lie about their intentions. The irony is, Republicans don’t even want to govern, they want to prove that government is bad. So they govern badly — like a kid who doesn’t want to do their chores so they do them all the worst way they can. If the voting public knew what Republicans really wanted to do to the country — in fact, it’s exactly what they’re doing right now — they’d rise up in a tidal wave of anger, resentment and outrage that would turn Republicans out of power forever.

Republicans don’t need a book teaching them how to cheat. They’ve been doing it out of necessity for more than a generation now. The RW money (the Kochs, the Mercers) saw way back that America’s diversifying demographics spelled political doom for them and so set out to stop it from happening. They charged Mitch McConnell with the task of hijacking the judiciary — first, by denying Barack Obama the lifetime appointments to the federal bench to which he (and We The People) were entitled (via a thing called an “election”), then by filling the federal bench with unqualified extremists once Donald Trump had stolen power.

Partnering with Russia may not have originated inside the Republican Party, but even when they knew Russia was actively working to make Donald Trump president, they did nothing to stop it. In fact, they continued working with Russians. Mitch McConnell, for instance, refused to let Barack Obama inform us in September 2016 that Russia was actively trying to make Trump potus. He twisted every arm he had to to get sanctions lifted so that Oleg Deripaska could drop $400 million into a Russian aluminum factory in Western Kentucky. Those sanctions were put in place because of Deripaska’s role in subverting the 2016 election.

No, Republicans know perfectly well not just how to steal elections, but to steal elections via treason. And it IS treason because Russia is actively engaged in a cyber war against us — a war they envisioned years ago. Just because they haven’t fired a bomb or bullet at us doesn’t mean it isn’t a war. Russia could shut down our power grid today (they absolutely could!) and we’d sue for peace — the losers — tomorrow.

War is war is war. And anyone who thinks you need bombs and bullets to win a war will lose every war they ever fight going forward.

It’s our news media that needs to read this book. They need to see cheating for what it is — CHEATING — and not as some odd variant on “winning”.

Cheating is cheating is cheating. It can never be winning. As Republicans are fond of saying “elections have consequences”.

Point taken. And stolen elections have even worse consequences.