Plenty of rich people aspire to be mensches. They think throwing their money at things makes them menschy — even if they created some of those problems. That disqualified them for mensch-hood right off the bat.
Joe Biden has always had mensch-like qualities — the result (ironically) of his deep Catholic faith. That makes Joe Biden exceptional. Catholic instruction turns a lot of people into thought zombies. You have to accept an awful lot of dogmatic shadow chasing in order to be a “good Catholic”. And the church has a long, long history of being cruel and as un-Jesus-like as an institution could be. That’s probably why Jesus railed AGAINTS having temples or churches or priests interceding between believer and God. “Speak directly to the father,” was Jesus’s message. That and “Do unto others” (which even a simple atheist can manage — so, why can’t most Christians?). “Do unto others” is a kind of shorthand for “how to be a mensch” which, itself, is the perfect encapsulation of the core Jewish concept “Tikkun Olam“.
Tikkun Olam obligates every Jew (well, every person actually) to make the world a better place simply for having been in it. That’s it. That’s the obligation. How any of us meets it is entirely on us.
Centrist though he’s been his whole life — trying to find common ground between Progressives and conservatives — Biden became Progressivism’s standard bearer, a thing I’m not sure any Progressive anticipated. Biden certainly wasn’t my first choice as the primaries ran along. I liked Kamala then Liz Warren. Biden, as he rose, Phoenix-like from the ashes, seemed like the compromise Progressives always have to make — which is to say they give up nearly everything. in order to appease the middle. But, that was when Biden either became a mensch or his menschiness was revealed. He saw that the majority of Democratic voters wanted what the Progressives did. Instead of digging in his heels, he listened. And heard.
That is what mensches do: they “hear”.
And then they do something to manifest their menschiness here in reality. And the world, instantly (even in some small way) becomes a better place.
Biden has already made the world a better place (just for having been the POTUS in it). He cut childhood poverty in America in half! And every other bit of the Build Back Better plan is geared toward transforming America from the great idea (“All men are created equal”) as yet unrealized into a nation where E Pluribus Unum blooms. America’s diversity is what makes us exceptional, not the whiteness of our money. The reason so many people from all across the globe have done everything they could to get here is because of the promise E Pluribus Unum holds.
America itself has always had the potential to be a mensch among nations (provided we cam disconnect ourselves from America’s racist past). In a sense, the world has come to rely on that potential. The Trump presidency, of course, burned all that accumulated trust to the ground — by design. The Biden presidency immediately set to work rebuilding it because America and Americans want our government to be the mensch we need when we need.
Electing Biden brought menschiness into the public square. Doing everything we can to help Biden enact every bit of his menschy legislative agenda is incumbent on us. Imagine an America where the playing field was truly level for everyone. Where opportunity smiles on all equally. Sounds like a mensch’s “Mission Accomplished”.
Quick — chose a word to describe Donald Trump’s White House. I bet the word “chaos” — or the abstraction described by “chaos” flashed through your mind. That chaos wasn’t Trump brilliantly playing some version of game theory above all our heads. It was a criminal and a traitor who never really wanted to be POTUS running America the same way he ran his own business. And Trump’s business, let’s be real, was not some world-beating real estate company, it was a mon ‘n pop money laundering shop . That’s what Glenn Simpson realized back in 2016 when his company Fusion GPS was hired to do oppo research on Trump for the benefit of the Marco Rubio-backing owners of the conservative Washington Free Beacon. Evidence of more money laundering keeps popping up. Take the Trump project in Azerbaijan which, in addition to evidencing money laundering connections, also evidences connections to Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guard — a sworn enemy of America.
Or take the entire Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin relationship as a whole. A case can already be made — and its make-ability will only get stronger with time — that everything about it is treasonous.
Trump ran the Peoples’ House like a cheap whorehouse with deep criminal ties. By contrast, Joe Biden, doesn’t. He’s like the democratic-spiritual Gallant to Trump’s complete & total Goofus. From the instant Team Biden took the reins of power from the Trump Clique, America began to “function” again rather than lurch haplessly from crisis to crisis. If you perceive government as public service then when the people grant you political power because you won an election, you’re apt to use that power to serve the public rather than use the power to abuse the public. But, if you’re like the GOP, you perceive “public service” as a way to get the American public to serve you. And, if you’re Donald Trump, you see the White House as the ultimate cash machine.
The simple fact is Joe Biden does not and would never run his White House the way Trump ran his. Honorable public servants behave like honorable public servants while criminals behave like criminals. Our news media however sees little difference between them. They instantly adapted to Trump and his lying by assuming Trump was lying. They didn’t really challenge Trump on his lies, they just agreed amongst themselves that Trump was probably lying no matter what he said. And that was fine with them. That’s how “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” got normalized. Our news media decided that Trump was a “different” kind of politician who shot from the lip and drove their ratings ever higher. In a way, our news media are like all those conservatives who turned up their noses at Trump’s racist, anti-democratic behavior but tolerated him because Trump was putting money in their pockets.
As these humps will soon learn, if you stand with a racist, corrupt traitor, you will be painted with the same brush they’re painted with. Stand with a liar, that makes YOU a liar. Same goes for any stripe of criminal especially traitors.
It seems our news media now expect Republican administrations to be corrupt just like they expect Democratic admins to be competent and professional. That makes it odd and painful that the news media continually try to hoist Democrats on their own petard when that petard is the commonweal. Trump set the catastrophe in Kabul in motion before he left office — like a car bomber parking his vehicle in the shadows and walking away. He surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban behind the government of Afghanistan’s back. He opened the prisons and released the very people now trying to run Afghanistan for the Taliban. In short, Trump did whatever Putin told him to do vis a vis Afghanistan. You’ll notice, please, how much benefit Russia (and China and Iran) are gaining from what Trump did. It’s not a coincidence.
One of the benefits of having Democrats in power — especially in the White House — is that Democrats, unlike Republicans, like governing. They bring genuine expertise to their work and genuinely aspire to make both America and the world a better place. Faced with challenges, Democrats go deep into problem-solving mode. Republicans, by contrast, go deep into finger-pointing mode. Unequipped to solve anyone’s problems, the party of personal responsibility makes it a point to never take responsibility for anything. Or to ever plan for anything since planning might take money meant for some Republican’s pocket and spend it on, you know, a disaster as it’s happening.
The White House Press Corps is determined to blame Joe Biden for the fall of Afghanistan. Their hearts may be in the right place, but their heads are shoved so far up their own asses that it doesn’t matter. They won’t be seeing daylight any time soon. Personally, I think the news media preferred having Trump as president to having Biden there. With Trump in office, there was NEVER a “slow news day” because chaos could erupt from anywhere at any time. These days — with Biden in the White House — there are days when, it sure feels like “nothing is happening”. Of course things are happening — just not with the narcotizing relentlessness of the Trump years.
It’s not in Joe Biden’s nature to act like Donald Trump — or like any Republican. But, if he could pull it off, he could tell the press they’re public enemies for caring about Afghanis. Biden could lie to the entire press corps’ face then insist either he never said it or was just “joking” when he did. Quick side note — people like Trump who have literally NO sense of humor? They can’t laugh at themselves — that’s how you know they have zero sense of humor. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you literally can’t see humor. You literally can’t see irony. You can laugh — at others — the way bullies do, but you can never laugh WITH anyone because, frankly, having no sense of humor, you can’t really grasp what everyone else is even laughing about.
Biden — any Democrat really — would seem far more successful if they simply refused to answer the Republicans’ questions. They aren’t being asked sincerely anyway. They’d seem even more successful if they approached politics with the same Machiavellian intent as the Republicans do. Trump’s White House failed because they’re all failures who suck at everything except being criminals. Biden’s White House has been tasked with, first, cleaning up the mess the Republicans made of America’s government and the world.
If Biden ran his White House with the same chaotic fervor Team Trump did, he’d probably get away with it — because he’d be ignoring the news media’s bitching and moaning about it.
If the fall of Afghanistan proved anything — aside from the fact that we set ourselves up for failure (alongside the Afghanis who helped us) the instant we landed in country — it’s how little perspective our news media brings to work each day. We knew lack of perspective (like failure of imagination) was a chronic journalistic problem throughout the Trump years — that’s both his pursuit of power and his abuse of it. The news media has always accorded wealthy, white, male Christians undue deference, normalizing their criminality like it was part of the architecture. It’s utter nonsense to think our press begins telling any news story from a genuinely neutral position. The playing field we all step onto is heavily skewed in one direction. If you don’t report that at the start — and if that fact doesn’t inform every last bit of your reporting than, really, you’re telling some other story about an imaginary world that only looks like ours. If you cannot report that bit of perspective because you can’t see it, then what you’re doing every day to pay the rent or the mortgage isn’t journalism.
What’s happening in Afghanistan is a human tragedy of monstrous proportions. What’s about to happen to the women of Afghanistan is even more monstrous. It’s impossible not to be emotionally gripped by video of the genuine terror all those desperate Afghanis thronging Kabul’s airport are feeling. But, leadership demands reacting with one’s head and not one’s heart. One must take off all blinders and see the world for what it is — in realpolitik terms. The reason we were still in Afghanistan is because, up till now, we have refused to see the world as it is. Wanting to make the world a better place for everyone in it is a lovely ideal. But doing good is way more complex than that especially when the good involves changing another culture’s culture or trying to install a form of government that you yourself haven’t mastered.
Journalists describing their own arduous route to the Kabul airport mention having to pay bribes at various points along the way in order to continue along the way. That’s just how it is here, they point out. It’s how it is in a lot of places where they don’t have dynamic economies and corruption is the business model. Now, right there, each and every journalist on the ground is providing deep perspective about the rules on the ground. Put all judgment aside — whether paying bribes is good, bad or a necessary evil. And don’t forget: Afghanistan is only a country because a Western colonial power made it one, drawing up borders that never existed before in the tribal lands where those borders got drawn.
One of those lines got drawn right through the Pashtuns’ tribal territory. One second they were all in one territory, the next, some of them were Afghanis and the rest Pakistanis. The border may have made the Afghani Pashtun Afghani on paper, it did not make them Afghani in their hearts.
Four things brought us to this awful moment, Chayes writes (and I recommend that you read her reporting yourself!): Afghan government corruption, and the U.S. role enabling and reinforcing it, Pakistan, Hamid Karzai and self-delusion. Pakistan is the key. Pakistan is behind most of the other three items on Chayes’ list. To be fair, corruption being a human frailty no matter the country, impoverished Afghanistan (with no real central government to speak of, no infrastructure, no national identity to rally ’round) was and remains organically corrupt. Again — not judging, just trying to describe accurately (so we can judge later).
Chayes writes —
Do we really suppose the Taliban, a rag-tag, disjointed militia hiding out in the hills, as we’ve so long been told, was able to execute such a sophisticated campaign plan with no international backing? Where do we suppose that campaign plan came from? Who gave the orders? Where did all those men, all that materiel, the endless supply of money to buy off local Afghan army and police commanders, come from? How is it that new officials were appointed in Kandahar within a day of the city’s fall? The new governor, mayor, director of education, and chief of police all speak with a Kandahari accent. But no one I know has ever heard of them. I speak with a Kandahari accent, too. Quetta is full of Pashtuns — the main ethic group in Afghanistan — and people of Afghan descent and their children. Who are these new officials?
In fact, Pashtuns make up 48% of Afghanis. The thing is, they identify as Pashtuns first and Afghanis… maybe second. “Afghani” remains a made up designation. The power inside Pakistan — always looking to improve its situation and why not — benefits from controlling not only the Pashtuns but — look at it from their point of view — controlling Afghanistan, the country on the other side of that made up border. Way better to have a staunch ally there than a foe. That’s the context for this —
The Taliban were a strategic project of the Pakistani military intelligence agency, the ISI. It even conducted market surveys in the villages around Kandahar, to test the label and the messaging. “Taliban” worked well. The image evoked was of the young students who apprenticed themselves to village religious leaders. They were known as sober, studious, and gentle. These Taliban, according to the ISI messaging, had no interest in government. They just wanted to get the militiamen who infested the city to stop extorting people at every turn in the road.
Chayes points out “both label and message were lies”. Of course they were!
Within a few years, Usama bin Laden found his home with the Taliban, in their de facto capital, Kandahar, hardly an hour’s drive from Quetta. Then he organized the 9/11 attacks. Then he fled to Pakistan, where we finally found him, living in a safe house in Abbottabad, practically on the grounds of the Pakistani military academy. Even knowing what I knew, I was shocked. I never expected the ISI to be that brazen.
Meanwhile, ever since 2002, the ISI had been re-configuring the Taliban: helping it regroup, training and equipping units, developing military strategy, saving key operatives when U.S. personnel identified and targeted them. That’s why the Pakistani government got no advance warning of the Bin Laden raid. U.S. officials feared the ISI would warn him.
By 2011, my boss, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Taliban were a “virtual arm of the ISI.”
Sarah Chayes, The Ides Of August
As for Karzhai — our choice to pilot Afghanistan after we ousted the Taliban, was “in fact the go-between who negotiated the Taliban’s entry into Afghanistan in 1994! Chayes says “It is my belief that Karzai may have been a key go-between negotiating this surrender, just as he did in 1994, this time enlisting other discredited figures from Afghanistan’s past, as they were useful to him.” Think about this. Chayes can’t say this is a fact because she’s still a journalist at heart and a damned good one. But, she is willing to connect dots that demand connecting if we’re to truly understand what’s happening in Afghanistan with any sort of perspective.
Chayes concludes —
One final point. I hold U.S. civilian leadership, across four administrations, largely responsible for today’s outcome. Military commanders certainly participated in the self-delusion. I can and did find fault with generals I worked for or observed. But the U.S. military is subject to civilian control. And the two primary problems identified above — corruption and Pakistan — are civilian issues. They are not problems men and women in uniform can solve. But faced with calls to do so, no top civilian decision-maker was willing to take either of these problems on. The political risk, for them, was too high.
True leadership — what Joe Biden did and is doing — requires taking those political risks. We fulfilled our original mission — oust the Taliban, get bin Laden and stop Afghanistan from being a terrorist haven quickly. In fact, we could have gotten bin Laden when he was holed up in Tora Bora. We didn’t — a choice made by George W. Bush and Company. We should have exited Afghanistan right about then. It would have messy in its own way as imaginary country Afghanistan tried to set up a government for itself. Of course the Pashtuns would have taken part and if the Pakistani intelligence service wanted to infiltrate them whether as Taliban or some other entity? It would have been easy.
This is just how it is on the ground. It’s the culture — good, bad or indifferent. We can judge it if we like but that won’t change it. And, really, corruption is entirely relative. From the Pashtuns point of view, the West is corrupt. Like everyone else, what they really object to is corruption that benefits the other guy.
If you’re going to report this world journalistically — and by “report”, I mean, at the top of your game — you must have this corruption in mind as you survey the landscape. You also have to understand the corruption’s nature. You have to appreciate the role corruption plays in quotidian life. And you have to understand not just the neighborhood you’re standing in but the entire environment itself. Journalism demands a holistic approach. The details of any one story are vital — bore deeply! But detail divorced from the Big Picture they’re part of can easily deceive. It’s like thinking a piece of the mosaic is the mosaic. No — it isn’t.
Our news media, being corporate, is organically corrupt. The corporation’s fiduciary responsibility is to its own survival. Yeah, sure — most of what any corporation does is within the rules. But every corporation seeks to cut corners. To maximize its profits and minimize expenses. Hey — show me an American who’s never cheated on their taxes (still not judging!) and I’ll show you a null set. All corruption starts locally. We all bend the rules to suit ourselves and our needs. We don’t like to think of it as corrupt but it is.
In journalism, corruption often takes the form of access. The White House Press Corps allowed Donald Trump to get away with literal murder. They refused to ask a known liar pointed questions about his lying because they feared Trump would stop letting them ask questions or, worse, banish them from the White House. They compromised their journalistic integrity in order to “be there”. Game already over from the point of view of corruption. You can’t negotiate with corruption. You can’t quid pro quo it.
But, one thing you can do with corruption is aggregate it. Yeah — if you honestly tell a story about corruption, you’re going to describe how a monster got birthed, how it evolved and thrived and then broke free and ran amok. If that corruption is treasonous — as so much of Trump’s corruption is, was and always will be — you’d expect it to be not just a detail of the Trump story but one of its engines. Once you’ve gone and committed treason, there’s no going back. Even the hint of treason should get a good journalist’s Spidey senses tingling.
Our journalists witnessed the above scene — this moment in time — and refused to call it what it so blatantly was. If they’d applied ANY perspective to this moment, the Trump admin would have ended right there and then.
In their defense, many of the journalists who covered Afghanistan in country saw with their own eyes what American style democracy could do for Afghanistan’s women especially. If only that had been something we could set in concrete… alas, in order to make that inorganic cultural shift work, America would have had to remain in Afghanistan forever. Pakistan did not want us in Afghanistan and, sooner or later (sooner, as we’re learning) would have moved to remove us. They would have tasked the Pashtuns working for them to step up their aggression. The Taliban never left Afghanistan, don’t forget; they lived in Afghanistan and — if they had passports — those passports would have been either Afghani or Pakistani. They could afford to outlast us because they were home already. And they know their “country’s” culture a lot better than we do.
It sucks what’s going to happen to Afghanistan and its women. Whatever we can do to mitigate it, we absolutely should. But we have to stop lying to ourselves about Afghanistan — why we’re there, who the players are and what they want. And we have to stop reporting on Afghanistan like it was some other country. The stone cold reality is that America staying in any would result in an eventual bloodbath. The longer we stayed, the worse the blood bath because the stronger the resentment.
I’m not faulting a single journalist’s emotional response to this tragedy. But, every time their emotions obscure the true story of how we got here, they’re doing much more harm than good. Not all corruption is malignant. Some of it’s entirely cultural. That goes for the culture of journalism too.
Perspective-free journalism is corrupt journalism. It’s not actually journalism therefore — it’s just another variety of corruption.
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.
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.
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…
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”?
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”.
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.
I’m not sure when exactly we got it into our heads that cheating to win was merely one more “way” to win. It’s not. The moment one cheats to win, one cannot win. One might appear to “win” at the time of the contest but if further examination reveals clear evidence of cheating — and that’s ANY cheating (where exactly would we draw the line between acceptable cheating and too much cheating?) then the contest is decided by default: cheaters can NEVER win; therefore the victory goes to the non-cheater. In 2016, that would have made Hilary Clinton POTUS. It is a profound understatement to say that Trump & the Republican Party cheated massively in order to “win” in 2016. Surely, the Republicans would not still be working their bloated butts off to hold onto power now if they hadn’t cheated to get that power four years ago. They did cheat — and for that they’re legally liable. But, as we know, the GOP did more than just “cheat”. They committed TREASON as part of their cheating. For that, they must pay a price.
As we’re learning finally — now that the Trumpanistas can no longer obstruct investigations into every rotten, corrupt, treasonous thing Trump did while in office — the Trumps, in fact, perpetrated a shitload of rotten, corrupt treason. We know now for a certainty that Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort handed Konstantin Kilimnik proprietary polling data for Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan for him to pass onto Oleg Deripaska. Both Kilimnik and Deripaska are oligarchs and long time friends of Vladimir Putin’s. Both are Russian military intelligence. Why on earth would Manafort hand sensitive data about American voters to a hostile foreign intelligence service?
As we know — have known for years now (it’s only our “news media” that’s finally getting hip to what’s been happening the whole time) — that proprietary polling data went straight to Russian Military Intelligence where they turned it into weaponized Facebook ads accusing Hilary Clinton of racism. Those ads — using the proprietary polling data as a guide — were then targeted at Black, Democratic voters, the intent; cause enough Black voters to stay home to further destroy Clinton’s electoral advantage in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. At the same time, other parts of Trump’s corrupt, treason machine had caused then FBI Director, the painfully out-of-his-depth Jim Comey to write the “The Comey Letter” which re-opened the whole “But, her emails!” discussion ten days before the election. On election day, Trump’s and Russia’s various ops had brought those three key states — PA, MI & WI — to within the margin of error.
That — put your money on it — is when ES&S and Diebold went to work. Most of the electronic voting machines in America are made by ES&S, a company run by Republican sympathizers who donate to Republican candidates and where Republicans sit on the Board of Directors. They have consistently refused to close internet-accessible back doors on their machines. Gosh, I wonder why…
We already know that but for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have been president. That means that Trump was never actually president since the power of the office flows from our authority — which we grant to the winner of free and fair elections. However — if the election isn’t free or fair then the authority that flows from it does not flow. We assume the authority flows — we certainly pretend it does. But the stone cold truth is Donald Trump NEVER had the authority to be president because We The People never granted it to him — because WE voted for Hillary Clinton.
Trump — always happy to project — told us from the start that his presidency was not legit. Our news media, of course, refused to listen to him.
But, we should. This will be a challenging revelation but we can’t just shrug it off as “something that happened”. How can we really go on as a sovereign nation if OTHER nations get to pick our leaders? We can’t. And the moment we prove beyond the shadow of a doubt — and we absolutely will — that Russia chose Donald Trump to be our POTUS, we’re going to have to confront what that means in practical terms. None of the judges Trump appointed can remain judges — Trump never had the authority to nominate them. None of the “hard” changes Trump made to the government — the ones requiring plenty of hoop jumping to put them back to normal — can stand. None of the legislation — including the tax break for billionaires — can remain on the books.
Throw into this growing tumbleweed of terribleness all the other corruption the Republican Party brought to the table the last four years.
Most damaging, of course, is what Trump (and Mitch McConnell) did to the judiciary. For years, McConnell refused to give Obama’s judges (including his SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland) the time of day (never mind a hearing). The whole point of the Republican power grab was to use the Judiciary and the Senate to leverage their way to permanent minority rule.
Mitch also has “treason” vulnerabilities. Mitch needs to explain — under oath Benghazi-style — his relationship with oligarch, Putin Pal and Russian intelligence officer Oleg Deripaska. Mitch will insist he has no relationship with any Russians! But, Mitch would be lying again. Mitch refused to let We The People in on the big secret that Putin was behind a massive scheme to defraud American voters of their choice. At a notorious meeting of the Gang Of Eight in September 2016, Mitch got up on his little Treason Turtle legs and told Obama that if Obama told Americans that Russia was trying to make Trump president, he, Mitch, would drop that on America — that the Democrats were “politicizing the intelligence”.
In the election’s aftermath, Deripaska got sanctioned for his role in attacking the election. Mitch however saw to it that those sanctions on Deripaska got lifted so that Deripaska could “gift” Mitch with a Russian-owned aluminum factory in Western Kentucky. Something’s rotten in the state of Kentucky — and the stink is coming from Mitch McConnell’s turtle pond.
The reason the Republicans have fought so hard to obstruct all investigations into Trump’s involvement with Russia is because Trump was deeply involved with Russia. So is most of the Republican Party. A month before nominating Trump as their “guy” in 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of Republican leadership. “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” said McCarthy, “Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in the room dropped what they were holding and had to scrape their jaw off the floor. No one asked McCarthy why he’d say such a terrible, damning thing? No one said “Geez, guys, I feel like we ought to call the FBI!” Instead, per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan insisted they were all family — meaning, all secrets stay secret.
It will take a long, long time for America to get over what Trump and his Republican co-conspirators have done to America. The instant we stop granting him — and anything he did — legitimacy? The faster we’ll get over Trump.
America’s news media had a really bad day yesterday. That means America had a really bad day. Ironically, that really bad day happened in the midst of a series of much better days as America slowly begins to reacclimate to the idea that our government can actually govern if so inclined. It was the news media that bristled at the lack of formal news conferences — their star turn, in their minds. Though plenty of reporters have heaped plenty of questions on President Biden informally — and gotten good, long answers — apparently none of that counts; the White House Press Corps has its ways and those ways, it tells itself, must be respected. Over a thousand Americans died yesterday from Covid19 yet the White House Press Corps — hungry for a chance to ask the new POTUS the most important questions their readers want and need answered — asked instead about election 2024 and whether or not Biden plans to run. Wow. That wasn’t just a terrible, lame, dumb-assed question, it was a tell. We know — having lived through it — that the overwhelming majority of America’s press absolutely blew the story of their lives because they’ve convinced themselves that “both sides do it”. That lack of perspective continues to haunt their coverage of Donald Trump. Yesterday, that lack of perspective revealed itself again except this time, in a way that even people in the news media finally saw for themselves.
Why has our news media been so incapable of covering Donald Trump? Maybe a better question is “why, if SOME in the news media can see Donald Trump and the GOP for the corrupt, treasonous players they are, can’t ALL in the news media see it?” For instance — how can MSNBC’s excellent Nicolle Wallace, Ali Velshi, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell or Joy-Ann Reid report the Trump story one way, filled with detail and hard evidence that paints a picture of massive corruption and treason, while, say, Chuck Todd acts like no such detail or hard evidence even exists? He seems to walk around in a news universe where Trump maybe isn’t corrupt or a traitor. Maybe that’s just the Democrats “playing politics”.
The fallacious notion that “Both sides do it” completely fogs the environment. Right off the bat, it jettisons perspective. It gleefully points at all instances of “it” as being equal. It doesn’t see or distinguish proportionality. All thieves are created equal; a woman stealing a loaf of bread so her children can eat is no different to this way of “thinking” than Bernie Madoff stealing billions from billionaires. They’re both thieves of a kind so therefore “both sides do it”.
For four years, the White House Press Corps regularly embarrassed themselves though they still don’t get that that’s what happened. Consumed by the fear of losing access, the press corps allowed themselves to be openly lied to. Yeah, yeah — a few dutifully tried to call out the lies — some even succeeded and they stood apart! — but the overwhelming majority of news people, given the chance to demand Trump tell the truth for once in his life balked at the opportunity and watched silently as the moment passed. No one wanted to be the kid pointing out how incredibly naked the bloated orange emperor was. Now, some of them can’t wait to be the kid asking the most pointed questions.
Democrats rarely play the access game. We simply don’t approach power the same way. We don’t see it as a possession. We see it as something the electorate has granted us the authority to use on their behalf and for their good. Yes, as the reporter added, Trump (Biden’s “predecessor”) registered to run again on the day he was sworn in, but why the hell would any reporter assume that Joe Biden would behave exactly like Donald Trump did? When Trump did it, it was remarkable — for all the wrong reasons. And yet, this reporter assumed that doing something that cynical and power mad was just “how presidents are now” since, to the reporter’s way of thinking, obviously it must be part of Biden’s thinking. Of course it’s not!
Even members of the news media were excoriating the White House Press Corps bad showing yesterday. Has any member of the WH Press corps stepped forward to say “yeah, we really screwed the pooch!” No, they haven’t. Don’t hold your breath either.
That day of reckoning will come regardless.
I’m not sure how exactly our news media came to embrace “both sides do it”. We need to make them rue the day. Journalism is the only non-governmental job mentioned in the Constitution. The Fifth estate is supposed to be our final check on power. But a press obsessed with access won’t be up to the task because they’re always too afraid to offend those in power which, ironically, is what they’re supposed to be doing).
The thing is, it’s not the entire American news media. There ARE some talented, smart, intuitive journalists who’ve managed to aggregate this story all along. I cannot, for the life of me, wrap my head around how MSNBC can have a deeply perceptive Nicolle Wallace on its payroll and, at the same time, a hack like Chuck Todd. Does MSNBC really expect its audience to forget everything it knows because it watched Nicolle’s excellent Deadline White House the second MTP Daily begins and they see Chuck Todd’s facial tics and bad haircut?
Hell, I bet if MSNBC’s & CNN’s lineups consisted of nothing but Nicolle and Nicolle clones, we’d have dealt with Trump and the Republican Party eons ago.
What is it that stands between most of us and criminal behavior — other than the fact that we’re not criminals by nature? I’d peg it as fear of NOT getting away with it. Most of us, even when we cheat in some small, pathetic way on our tax returns, we do it with at least a twinge of fear that WE might be the schmuck that gets audited, and our “tax fraud” revealed. Not only would we fail at crime, we’d suffer the consequences, too. What would earn rich guys a slap on the wrist could devastate us. Bottom line, we’d walk around with a scarlet letter on us — “C” for “Criminal”. For most of us, the idea of being labeled a “criminal” would be like crashing to earth, never to fly again. Gravity would win as it always does. And our flightpath would perfectly describe “failure gravity”.
Some people don’t seem to fear failure gravity. Donald Trump doesn’t. Or, he hasn’t so far. Same goes for Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz, Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and the rest of the Republican Treason Caucus. Hawley & Cruz are the poster boys for “no fear of failure gravity”. They both openly whipped the crowd to a seditious frenzy even before January 6 then doubled down in its bloody aftermath. To this day, both “men” believe they’ll get away with this. In their minds, they think they’re golden, their futures assured as the new face of the Trumpian Party. They don’t feel gravity, they feel lighter than air.
That’s why it’s imperative that we pop their balloon.
Ted and Josh — and all the rest of their caucus — need to experience a little of what the Coyote experiences when he realizes 1) he ain’t getting the Roadrunner this time either and 2) when he hits the ground this time? It’s REALLY gonna hurt.
The Coyote, industrious as he is (and who the hell’s bankrolling him? Surely the Acme Company isn’t extending him credit!) always retains his fear of gravity. Perhaps if the Coyote had to cover his own medical expenses (he must have the same Platinum coverage Congress does) — having capped out — he’d quit and let the Roadrunner live in peace. That’s another kind of “failure gravity’ — fear of your wallet losing “lift” and crashing to earth. Ironically, the “wallet” is most conservatives’ most vulnerable organ.
What instantly began to give the seditionists pause — in the midst of their celebrations — was getting arrested for having done the thing they were so proud of. They weren’t expecting to experience failure gravity and yet, suddenly, there they were — behind bars. Some of them lost their jobs — another effect of failure gravity. Friends and neighbors, family members and loved ones all began to rat the insurrectionists out to the FBI — that was failure gravity spreading like wildfire. Well, the fear of it. The problem with being associated with a criminal is the possibility that their criminal cooties might get on you — and criminal cooties = failure gravity. You get em, you fail.
I bet not a one of the seditionists thought for a second what the ripple effect would be should they fail. For sedition alone? It’s steep. Heavy, heavy fines and prison — up to twenty years. That’s a lot of prison dinners. And each one — that’s literally what failure gravity tastes like — the succotash especially.
If every one of these criminals had been given a moment beforehand where a “Voice O’ God” had pointed to the fork in the road they’d just reached and told them success as a regular citizen lay one way and failure as an insurrectionist lay the other, which road would they have taken? Most human beings — having no taste for failure gravity (especially BECAUSE OF the succotash) — would choose success and being a regular citizen. Would anyone be surprised if more than a handful of the current class of Republicans — Ted and Josh maybe — said “Screw it! Give me failure gravity or give me death!”
Um, dude, those two things might just be the same.
What scares Republicans most as the Biden Administration slowly coalesces like a young galaxy — having been denied a proper transition by pirates unconcerned by failure gravity (even the failure gravity of people dying from a pandemic) — is the newly rejuvenated Department of Justice as it will be under soon-to-be confirmed Merrick Garland. Justice, ya see, is failure gravity to Republicans.
One thing Trumpian DoJ’s were infamous for was NOT pursuing justice while, simultaneously, fomenting and creating INjustice. Remember L’il Jeff Sessions?
Ironically, it was failure gravity that caused Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia investigation that estranged him from Trump. Hey, even Bill Barr, Justice’s mortal enemy, had enough respect for failure gravity to walk away from Trump before the really sedition-y parts of the program began.
But, fear of failure gravity and actually tasting it are two different things. Bill Barr, betcha, still doesn’t think he’ll taste failure gravity. Rod Rosenstein deliberately halted the counter-intelligence investigations into Donald Trump and his relationship with Vlad Putin — right when Putin was in the middle of a cyber war against us where Trump was his main weapon. Rod wasn’t oblivious of the bigger picture. But he obviously didn’t fear failure gravity enough not to go down a road CLEARLY marked “TREASON”.
Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — though their noses were rubbed in failure gravity’s odeur — still believed this was just temporary. In time, they’d be pardoned. The taste of failure gravity would be replaced by caviar or the finest Russian vodka or virgin’s blood — whatever taste they preferred.
However — having to answer hard questions under oath will change all that. As a matter of course — just doing his job — AG Garland will pull threads on corrupt sweaters that will unravel with lightning speed. He’ll issue subpoenas that must be answered. He’ll ask questions that lead to increasingly uncomfortable places where there’s more squirming than answering. Want to plead the Fifth? Okay — that’s your right. But you and your lawyer better be prepared for where this goes afterward. That’s the biggest problem right there — the cost of lawyering up.
None of those yahoos who stormed the Capitol ever considered what it might cost to defend them against steep federal charges. That’s some expensive lawyering right there. Times how many seditionists? Geez, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear the Trumpublican Party was about to make a whole generation of lawyers fabulously wealthy. Suddenly, I realize how right my parents were — I should have gone to law school!
Now add in what losing their jobs will cost. And getting hired in the future? Even McDonald’s will look past them. Who wants a seditionist on their fry crew?
And who wants to co-brand with sedition? Twenty of the big thirty corporate donors have said they won’t give money to any Republican who refuses to accept the election’s results — that Joe Biden won fairly and squarely. That’s because the big corporations understand that THEIR customers don’t want to buy products from companies that coddle seditionists. Home Depot doesn’t care how treasonous Donald Trump is? Fine — we can all shop at Lowe’s — or, better still, a LOCAL hardware store. Remember Bill O’Reilly? The Twenty-First Century Fox board of directors FIRED him at the top of his popularity, while he was the biggest cash cow they had. They had no choice — their advertisers made it clear — THEIR clients — actual consumers (and, where the rubber meets the road, most buying decisions in American households are made by women) were simply not going to buy anything from companies in business with Bill O.
Money talked and Bill O walked (the plank).
Ask Bill O’Reilly if HE knows what failure gravity tastes like.
Mitch McConnell caved last night to Chuck Schumer, finally allowing for the transfer of Senatorial power to the Democrats. Mitch was playing junk cards and knew it. The second Merrick Garland clocks in for the first time, Mitch will get nervous. It’ll just be a matter of time before HE gets subpoenaed. Mitch needs to answer for quite a few things: his relationship with oligarch Oleg Deripaska in particular. Mitch needs to answer for why he refused to let We The People in on the secret Barack Obama wanted us to know in September 2016 — before the election: that Russia was actively attempting to MAKE Donald Trump president. Yeah, yeah, sure, Mitch — you didn’t want intelligence being “politicized” to your candidate’s disadvantage. But, your candidate was committing TREASON, Mitch — and you KNEW IT at the time.
You did, Mitch… you knew. Your whole party knew. Hell, a month before the Republicans even nominated Trump they were agreeing to “keep it in the family” that “Putin pays Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God”. They knew.
Voila le probleme. That’s the real failure gravity here. Treason.
Treason is the failure gravity that the Republican Party believed/believes it will escape. It is incumbent on We The People to make sure the “physics of failure” frustrate them.
It almost always sucks when an unintended consequence punches far above its weight and delivers a knockout blow. That’s the filibuster. This bizarre tactic gives one person — one US Senator — the ability to stop what the majority wants in its tracks. In the 1960’s, Southern Democrats (now known as Republicans — as Heather Cox Richardson writes in her excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party” our two parties, the Democrats and Republicans have, in essence, switched names since the Republican Party’s founding in the 1850’s) used the filibuster to block passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Back then, filibusterers were made to actually filibuster. The Senate’s Racist Coalition had to filibuster for 75 hours straight including a 14-hour and 13 minute address by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia (before Byrd had his “come to Jesus” moment and repented his racist ways). The filibuster failed when the Senate invoked cloture for only the second time since 1927. The filibuster is antithetical to democratic governance — that’s why it’s the tool-of-choice of racists.
The filibuster has to go. Screw its giving the minority a voice against a hostile majority. That bullshit celebration of the “rugged individual” standing heroically against the forces of evil is actually a lone racist stemming the tide of equality. Or a handful of racists as with the Southern Democrats. It’s the few holding sway over the many. In America, that always means rich, Christian white men having power far beyond what they’re entitled to. That the filibuster still exists is a quirk of American politics and history. It arises from an accommodation made in 1806 to Aaron Burr — then the Vice President — before he left office. It was never intended to be used for ordinary business; (this is from Wikipedia: “a small number of super-majority requirements were explicitly included in [the Constitution], including conviction on impeachment charges (2/3 of Senate), expelling a member of Congress (2/3 of the chamber in question), overriding presidential vetoes (2/3 of both Houses), ratifying treaties (2/3 of Senate) and proposing constitutional amendments (2/3 of both Houses) — see the Wikipedia article “Filibuster In The US Senate” for footnotes and sources).
By 1846, the Senate tired of even casual abuse of the filibuster “rules” such as they were. This “addition by subtraction” was regularly bringing the Senate and its business to a dead stop while one Senator dead set on having HIS way, got up on his little pegs and spewed until either he got his way or 2/3 of the Senate (finally!) told him to shut the hell up already. Not the point of the exercise.
In the 1970’s, the Senate — trying to have it both ways — voted to keep the filibuster alive but make it more “practical” to apply: just what WAS NOT needed. Now, instead of having to actually get up in the Senate and speak for as long as they possibly could, Senators could now “threaten” to filibuster — and get all the benefits of a filibuster’s obstruction without having to any of the heavy lifting of actually filibustering. How white guy of them!
The fear is that destruction of the filibuster will make most every Senatorial decision a simple majority proposition. That proposition scares conservatives more than it does Progressives.
Let’s remind ourselves — the Senate, like the Electoral College, is, by nature and design unfair. The EC stands between each American voter and the president they vote for. We only pretend to vote for president; the Electoral College is the actual mechanism that picks a POTUS. And make no mistake — the EC exists solely to soothe the furrowed brows of slavers. There has always been dynamic tension in America between the populated, diverse cities — Blue America — and the unpopulated, white-ruled rural parts — Red America. On a map, all that red ink represents real estate way more than it does any people who might live on it.
Imagine a presidential campaign where voters in Ohio or Florida didn’t have the potential to literally decide a presidential contest for the whole country. Think of the undue but very real political weight this gives voters in one state over another — almost always rural over urban. Candidates chase “undecided voters” in specific states because their eye’s on the EC. That’s why they’ll go to diners in Iowa and listen to farmers like they were sages. Hey, they might indeed be very bright people with smart things to say. But how they vote should have far less impact on my life than it does just as how I vote should have less impact on theirs.
That the farmer’s vote matters more than mine at present — that’s a problem. The Senate’s design exacerbates it. Again, by design, rural voters get hyper-represented while urban voters get hypo-represented. Wyoming’s 445,000 voters get two US Senators. Same goes for California’s 45 MILLION voters. Each Wyomingite has a far better chance of getting their Senator on the phone — and doing what THEY need than any Californian does (unless they’re super rich). So, a sheep rancher in Wyoming stands a better shot at seeing his needs legislated than a Black single mom in Los Angeles who’s struggling to pay her bills. Such is equality in a system designed to deliver the opposite.
Fixing the Senate is a Big Job that will take a super majority of Democrats to accomplish. Don’t pooh-pooh the possibility. In “normal times”, the coming off year election in 2022 (and why the hell is anyone thinking about THAT already?) would advantage the party OUT OF power because the party IN POWER screwed up. But — cue the “Breaking News” banner — these aren’t “normal times”. The first job the Democrats now controlling the reins of power must accomplish is to undo as much of the damage Trump did as possible. That’s not the Democrats being political. That’s the Democrats GOVERNING.
Our news media — drunk off their asses on the “Both Sides Do It” kool aid — have convinced themselves and half of America that anything anyone does is motivated first by politics. This isn’t just cynical, it’s flat out wrong. They now think that both sides behave the same way and for the exact same reasons. Oy. Just… oy. Before the Democrats can even think about putting forward their “socialist wet dreams”, they FIRST have to solve the pandemic. Do that, they can solve the economy. In between all of that, the Democrats have to deal with the fact that the GOP just sponsored a coup d’etat against the rest of us.
And, on top of THAT, the Democrats have to deal with the fact that the entire Republican Party either participated in multiple acts of treason or stood by while treason and traitors threatened America. Countries that allow traitors to walk free will not be countries for very much longer. The traitors will see to it.
Right now, Mitch McConnell — our Treason Turtle MINORITY LEADER — is attempting to keep the filibuster alive both to protect racism but also to protect the traitors in his party. The fact that racists, bigots and seditionists would benefit — well, to Mitch, that’s all just icing. Odds are, if Mitch McConnell is FOR something? That something is rotten. Or Mitch is doing it for rotten reasons.
Repeat: the filibuster has to go. The people defending it have to disabused of their bullshit excuses (history, fairness, the tyranny of the majority) and made to fess up: they are standing in the majority’s way mostly because they’re racist — and keeping racism alive in America is more important to them than almost anything.
People around the globe felt the dark cloud lifting from America yesterday as Donald Trump returned to his Florida swamp and Joe & Kamal were sworn in. Ding dong, the witch is dead! Hit the road, Jack — don’t ya come back no more, no more! People are still talking today about how good yesterday felt. I bet we’ll still be talking about it tomorrow. Donald Trump was the equivalent of America getting cancer — nearly dying from it — but surviving, if just. But, the thing is, cancers like Trumpism are rare. They may infect parts of a body politic like ours, but killing the patient entirely? That suggests our body politic had other co-morbidities undermining our health at the same time.
Republicanitis, you could call it. Our Republicans are all infected and they came shockingly close to killing us with it.
In their defense, most Republicans tried to protect themselves from Trump at first. They supported other candidates in 2016. Yet, one by one even the other Republican candidates all succumbed — Ted Cruz (whose wife Trump called ugly and whose dad he accused of conspiring to assassinate JFK)… Marco Rubio (who honestly HE could win the nomination — HA!)… Even Mitt Romney who was just a Republican eminent gris…
Want to know what it looks like when your soul flees your body, its hair on fire? Look at Mitt Romney’s eyes. You can practically hear the sound of Mitt’s soul: “Feets, don’t fail me now!” Mitt, to his credit, was the only Republican Senator to vote FOR convicting Trump during his first impeachment trial. That’s worth a lot. But so is the fact that Mitch still keeps plenty of Republican secrets. Mitch doesn’t have to KNOW for a fact that his fellow travelers are corrupt, seditionist traitors, but if he so much as suspects it, he’s obligated by the law — OBLIGATED — to say something to someone who might could stop it.
Strangely, Moscow Mitch McTreasonTurtle decided to zip it up good and tight.
Some time just as the Reagan years were ending, the Big Republican money (the Koch Brothers, the Mercers, etc) came to a stark realization: their day in the sun was done. In a generation or so, white, Christian males would be a minority in America and, they feared, likely to lose the political power they’d held onto since the republic’s founding. It never occurred to them that they might share political power with the growing, diversifying majority of Americans. Maybe they doubted they could learn. Instead, America’s right wing declared war on the rest of us.
Newt Gingrich himself said as much out loud. During the Clinton years, the Republicans committed themselves to NOT working the Democrats, to doing everything they could to deny the majority its voice and engineer a state of permanent minority rule. To do this, they first went after the judiciary. After Reagan, the Republicans have lost pretty much every single popular vote. If not for the Electoral College’s weighting our presidential elections toward slavery’s vote, Republicans would never win another presidential contest. Imagine presidential campaigns that didn’t focus on states like Ohio or Florida because there’d be no point. Every Floridian’s vote has the same weight as a Californian’s vote.
The reason Republicans can’t bear the thought of losing the EC is because the Republican Party (ironically) NEEDS slavery’s vote in order to stay relevant.
Without extraordinary measures, the GOP muckety-mucks realized, a Republican winning the presidency had become unlikely bordering on impossible. That left the Congress and the judiciary. The House is too tricky to try and control. Everyone has to run every two years. The Senate is easier to control and maintain. Like the EC, the Senate is weighted toward real estate rather than people. California with its almost 40 million people (39.78 million to be exact) gets the same number of US Senators as North Dakota which (hooray for them) just broke 800,000. See how much political power that gives each North Dakotan relative to each Californian? Hey, ever wonder WHY there are TWO Dakotas? It wasn’t because one Dakota wasn’t enough to contain all the Dakotans.
Republicans have been gaming our system for years. It’s WHY DC is not yet a state. Ditto Puerto Rico. And Republicans have been suppressing Democratic voters (especially the Black and brown ones) pretty much forever. You’d think Republicans have NEVER had faith in what they were selling and ALWAYS had to resort to cheating in order to win elections.
Democrats taking the Senate this election was a shocker to Republicans. Mitch has been playing forever with the electronic voting machines padding his numbers. There’s simply no other reasonable way to explain how Mitch McConnell keeps winning elections by a ton in a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans and where Mitch is only slightly more popular than herpes.
Mitch knows how to steal elections. He knows how to run the Senate to his corrupt advantage. When his right wing money task masters decided the only way forward was to hijack the judiciary and fill as many lifetime posts as possible with young, delusional, conservative minds, the loopier the better, they turned to Mitch and said “Do it”. And damned if the Treason Turtle didn’t say “Yes, sirs!”.
While a handful of Republicans — Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney again — have forcefully condemned what the rest of their co-religionists have done, the overwhelming majority of Republicans haven’t. The Ted Cruz’s, the Josh Hawley’s, the Devin Nunes’, the Jim Jordan’s and the Matt Gaetz’s are all in for the long haul. They’re riding the crazy train all the way off the cliff and all the way down onto the rocks below.
I suggest “I Alone Can Fix It” for Donald Trump’s tombstone. Unfortunately, Trump has no sense of humor so the irony will be wasted on him. The biggest punch in the line is how staggeringly untrue it is. “I alone can fix it” isn’t true of anyone, least of all Trump. That includes how Trump “fixed” America.
Trump alone did not do this to us. He had plenty of help. Granted, plenty has a Russian accent. But the “R” next to MOST OF the names on the list of Trump’s co-conspirators stands for “Republican”.