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

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

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

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

What the hell is THIS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never Mind “Cutting To The Chase”, We Should Have Cut To The END Of The Donald Trump Chase

Fact: Donald Trump is the most corrupt president ever in US History. If we think of presidencies as “story cycles”, the Donald Trump presidency has been the worst horror story imaginable because it’s scary but for all the wrong reasons. From the get-go, the Donald Trump story has been one of corruption and terrible behavior. If we think of the 2016’s election as the “preview” to the Trump presidency story cycle, we knew before the movie started how awful the experience was going to be. Trump did not disappoint us. He’s lived up to every bit of the racism, bigotry, ignorance, corruption and treason expected.

Like I said — we saw this coming from afar. That’s how obvious the story’s always been. It makes our news media’s inability to see or tell the story incredibly frustrating for those of us who can see it and tell it. Unfortunately, THEY’RE the ones with the megaphone and outreach. The rest of us just have the internet and our wits.

Some of our news media still insists the election is IN a week. For most of the nation though, the election began the moment early voting began. November 3 isn’t the beginning of election 2020, it’s the end of it — of the voting process anyway. Already more than 50,000,000 Americans have voted. That’s several times the number who voted early in 2016. Americans are motivated to vote in this election like they’ve never been motivated before. Pretty much all hands ARE on deck. It’s not because all those Americans (many voting for the first time ever) are voting for Donald Trump. Yes, a few will vote for him but the overwhelming majority are voting against him.

Keep in mind, the majority of us voted against Donald the first time. We just didn’t get the result we voted for; the Republicans hijacked it alongside their Russian pals.

We can all feel the story cycle quickening. The reveals are coming fast and furious now as more and more people peel away from the Republican Treason Machine as it flies off its rickety rails. When even Goldman Sachs sees the handwriting on the wall (a Biden presidency would be good for the economy while a continuing Trump presidency would not), when even the GOP deep pockets refuse to reach inside them — because it’s good money being shoveled after bad — it’s probably a done deal. Yeah, sure, Trump and his co-conspirators will spin and juke and do everything they can to prolong the full investigation, indictment, trial, sentencing and punishment each of them has earned. That’s why we need to cut to the END of the chase — and not just the chase itself.

Trump sucks at most things but he’s awfully good at misusing our court system for his bullshit purposes. That has to stop. Instead, let’s use the court system correctly for a change — to prosecute these criminals. Let’s disabuse them of the idea that they’re getting out of this via some technicality. Instead, let’s get them used to the idea that they owe this country an apology — and that’s before we put them away forever.

The past four years have been the worst reality show imaginable — and we’ve been strapped into our seats, our eyelids pried open (like Alex in “A Clockwork Orange”), forced to witness every last ounce of our collective debasement by these pirates and their camp followers. We’re done with it. We’ve BEEN done with it since even before it started.

When the bandage gets ripped from the giant, gangrenous sucking wound that is the Republican Party, we will wish we’d addressed this disease earlier — back when maybe a little penicillin or tough love would have nipped this in the bud. The cure for cancer is removal. Same goes for the Republican Party. This election is already stacking up as a massive repudiation. Even Mitch McTreasonTurtle — with his terrible eyesight — can see the loss of the Senate coming. He’s not one for creating false hopes in those with a conscience.

The end of the Donald Trump story will be the end of the Republican Party’s story too. It didn’t have to be, but there’s simply no way to undo the co-branding of Trumpism with Republicanism. We will need a second party to balance the Democratic progressive wing — and I say that as one of the crazies. For a democracy to function successfully, there must be opposition — thoughtful opposition not kneejerk political opposition. Opposition that brings receipts and cares about the commonweal as much as the other side does.

In the Trump story’s denouement, a lot of Republicans end up in prison. A whole LOT of Republicans. Others will buy their way to lighter sentences by turning on the leadership and their fellow travelers. Keep in mind, Rod Rosenstein shit-canned all counter-intelligence investigation into Trump and the Republicans. That information’s just sitting there, waiting to be heard. That’s in addition to all the other massive failures and betrayals Trump, the Republicans and their enablers have left as their legacy.

A lot of us look forward to “America: The Sequel” — where, finally, we fix the Constitution to reflect the diverse, dynamic nation we became. Clever as America’s founders were, they lacked the larger imagination to see what their creation would produce: us — a nation with extraordinary potential for greatness.

But, first, there’s the matter of a chase scene to scat through…

We Need To Make Corruption Public Enemy #1

We take “integrity” for granted. We take our own for granted — that’s for sure. We shouldn’t. Instead, we should be protecting our integrity like a mother protecting her babies. Integrity is the only thing standing between us and corruption.

Integrity and corruption are literal opposites. They gave literally nothing in common. The moment integrity even looks in corruption’s direction — as if to consider it? Can we really look at integrity the same way again, knowing that it was tempted? What about next time (when we’re not watching)? Will the lure be just enough to compromise integrity — even if just a little?

See the problem? There is no “just a little” where compromising one’s integrity is concerned. Integrity is an all or nothing proposition. You got it or you don’t.

I defy anyone to name a Republican with integrity.

You can’t. Now ask “why?”

The GOP’s integrity problem didn’t start with Donald Trump. In “Both Sides Do It” world, Democrats are just as capable of being corrupt. And Democrats have been and are now corrupt. But let’s talk scale.

Bernie Madoff is a thief. So is the character Jean Valjean from Les Miserables. One stole billions (albeit from billionaires) while the other stole bread to feed hungry people. Both Sides Do It, see? And yet, they don’t.

We’re talking minnows versus whale sharks. Let’s stop wasting our time, okay? Republican corruption goes deeper than just ordinary greed. The Republican money — the Kochs, the Mercers — made a calculated decision to control America’s politics so as to prevent it from reflecting who America really is and what America really wants. Their goal is permanent minority rule — make no mistake. To achieve this, with their hold on the Senate and a willing lieutenant in Mitch McConnell, the RW money (prior to 2016) set out to hijack the judiciary. They denied Barack Obama more than a hundred lifetime federal judge appointments, even denying Merrick Garland so much as a hearing.

Mitch wanted “the American People” to “choose the next SCOTUS judge while refusing to let the POTUS We The People overwhelming elected to do that very thing. This was bullshit. This was a power grab. And as we learned in Jane Mayer’s excellent piece on Mitch McConnell in the New Yorker, Mitch KNEW that lots of foreign players were actively engaged in altering the outcome of the 2016 election.

Mitch, don’t forget, refused to let Barack Obama tell We The People the truth in September 2016 about what Russia was up to. Mitch threatened to go nuclear, screeching about how Obama was “politicizing the intelligence”. No, Mitch, what Obama wanted to do was tell America the truth. What YOU wanted to do was be corrupt.

Now, here’s the deal — and we have to stick to it — but we have to acknowledge, going in, that it’s going to be hard. The Rule Of Law is or it isn’t. It plays by the same “rules” as Integrity. The instant we make an exception to the Rule Of Law (invariably for someone rich or powerful), it’s just a matter of time (and continuing corruption — because it follows as naturally as water running down a hill) before the whole structure collapses. Again.

No exceptions. For anyone Period.

That means the moment anyone tries to take advantage of anyone else or of the system itself, we investigate them, prosecute them (as warranted), sentence them, punish them and (if it’s in the cards) rehabilitate them — all fairly.

In the case of the Republican Party — all those people without an ounce of integrity — that’s going to hurt. A lot. Considering what they’ve done and the fact that every last one of them has at least something to answer for (even Mitt Romney has “inklings” of what Mitch McConnell is really up to and has not gone to the FBI or other “proper authorities”), the return of the Rule Of Law will dictate the end of the Republican Party.

Well, either it will be the “end” of the GOP or it will a null set as a political party — a party with literally no one in it.

Who would want to run for office as a Republican when the Republican Brand is the Corruption Brand? Going forward, it’s going to be hard enough finding Republicans who aren’t either dead or knocked down a few pegs by coronavirus. We all know what the investigations of the Trump response will turn up: a miasma of personal financial gain being used to leverage American foreign policy for even more personal financial gain — all in the middle of a catastrophe. And we all know that the Republican Party has enabled every last bit of it.

Just like integrity is all or nothing, so is corruption. Donald Trump may be the most corrupt human in history. That’s hyperbole. There’ve been plenty of corrupt assholes to equal Donald Trump. Our problem is none of those assholes ever stole the American presidency.

There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain from making “Anti-Corruption” one of the central themes of the Democratic Party’s 2020 campaign. Aside from the corrupt, no one wants corruption.

It’s Insane On Steroids That People Get Crazy Over The Oscars; They Were Created As (And Still Are) A MARKETING TOOL Above All…

There’s a great line in “The Usual Suspects”: “The greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing the world that he didn’t exist”.

Exactly so. Real evil recedes into the background where it quietly corrupts everything it can. I’m not in any way saying the Oscars are evil. Absolutely not. But they play by movie rules — because, of course, the Oscars are a “movie creation”. The greatest trick AMPAS (the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences) ever pulled off, was convincing the world that they were “AN ACADEMY”.

This is from Wikipedia: “An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, higher learning, research, or honorary membership. Academia is the worldwide group composed of professors and researchers at institutes of higher learning. The name traces back to Plato‘s school of philosophy, founded approximately 385 BC at Akademia, a sanctuary of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and skill, north of Athens, Greece.”

The only part of that definition that applies to AMPAS is the “honorary membership” part. In no other way is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences an “academy”. Yes, yes — they’ve created training and workshops and lots of good things to further the cause of movies and movie-making (as a good marketing agency should). But they are NOT “an academy”.

If we look back at the actual history — at the Academy’s creation — who created it — and why — it’s pretty clear what the Academy’s founders were thinking.

Better yet, read what AMPAS itself says about its own founding

Louis B. Mayer “…talked about creating an organized group to benefit the film industry”. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever — but the point of the exercise was publicity. Advertising. MARKETING.

At the time, don’t forget, the movie business was a teeny-tiny fraction of what it is today.

If you look at the core question being posed by having an “Academy Awards” — which one of these very different things (which actually defy comparison) is “best”? Best “how”? It’s entirely subjective. So entirely subjective that, if we actually were to stop and really think about it, we’d tell the Academy either to compare apples to apples (moves exactly like each other with movies exactly like each other) or at least admit that it’s asking its members to compare apples with Pontiacs with redwood forests with distant planets.

White, Christian men dominated the film business from its inception (to be fair — there were lots of Jews in the mix but those Jews were inventing a Christian version of America that would, maybe, accept them (hat tip to Neal Gabler’s very, very excellent book An Empire Of Their Own). As white, Christian men did with American politics, they imposed their will upon everyone else. The America they created, they hoped, would self-perpetuate.

Alas, a diverse and diversifying population did not go along to get along. Just as white people like to hear stories where white people are the heroes, so does every other group who aren’t white people. Except their stories almost never got told. That kinda perverted our sense of whose stories DESERVED to get told. We invented nonsense in our minds about whose stories were interesting to us and whose stories weren’t.

And when we told other peoples’ stories? We told them from OUR point of view — as if getting inside their heads and actually seeing the world through their eyes was too terrifying for us. The only reason no screenplay not written in English hadn’t won a screenwriting award before yesterday (as far as I know — being a long-standing WGA member) is that few if any had ever been submitted.

Similarly, Parasite won for best picture – shocking the shit out of people. Happily so. There’s a good chance Parasite can thank AMPAS’s expanding membership; they’ve been inviting lots more women and minorities to join. Parasite was a very un-traditional choice.

For an Academy that isn’t actually an academy, that is.

Last night — because Republicans can’t help being pigs — even when it really doesn’t matter — a RW-er named Jon Miller tweeted this: “A man named Bong Joon Ho wins #Oscar for best original screenplay over Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 1917. Acceptance speech was: “GREAT HONOR. THANK YOU.” Then he proceeds to give the rest of his speech in Korean. These people are the destruction of America.”

“The destruction of America” — that’s what this fool wrote — about a movie script winning a prize from the organization that flaks movies & movie scripts.

Dude — it’s just a damned MOVIE ffs…

From A Branding Point Of View, “Christian” Is Kinda Spent; Followers Of Jesus Need A New Name

I’ll own it — a born atheist has no business telling Christians anything about their brand. Except, Christianity — being a sales-based religion (“Hey, have ya heard the ‘good news’ style proselytizing started with Paul, the actual inventor of Christianity) — relies almost entirely on how it’s perceived by others. After all, isn’t the point of me hearing “the good news” the hope that I’ll come to my senses and convert?

Christians are preaching to a shrinking choir. Have they ever stopped to ask themselves why? No, they haven’t — because self-analysis isn’t part of the brand. Confession is. So’s an intense focus on rules & regs at the diminishing expense of any sort of spirituality. Christianity’s problem isn’t branding. Christianity’s problem is its brand.

I’ve blogged on many occasions with receipts (so I won’t do it here) about the Christian Church’s origins. It’s entirely Paul’s invention. Entirely. Jesus’ simple (Jewish) message — Do Unto Others — got subsumed into and under the mythology that Paul created and spread to the brand new churches forming across the Roman world. Paul never met Jesus. Never heard Jesus preach or teach. He failed trying to sell his version of Jesus to the Jews (with its wild, magic-heavy “proofs” that Jesus was the messiah) and, so, turned to the Gentiles.

The Gentiles, having no knowledge of (or concern for) Jewish mythology, accepted Paul’s version — because why wouldn’t they? Paul had created something genius — a way to conquer death. Accept Jesus as your lord and savior and you can live forever.

That has nothing to do with “Doing Unto Others”. And the church Paul created was big on forcing non-Christians to accept Jesus. Ironically, those Christians were going to “Do Unto Others” on pain of death.

The Catholic Church, once it acquired political power, never let that power go. Whatever spirituality there was in the institution died. More irony — Jesus preached against having churches because churches, he said, were corrupt. What could be more corrupt than the Catholic Church? Almost from the day it hung out its shingle, the Catholic Church has concerned itself with rules & regs, getting money into its coffers, and increasing its “membership”.

There is no way to count the number of humans who have died because of religion. Christianity — with its crusades and its inquisitions and its own internecine wars — has put its stamp on a veritable shit ton of them. And all to sell a product that its own supposed creator would never ever EVER recognize.

The Christian Church and Jesus aren’t just estranged, they’re strangers. That disconnect is what’s killing the church (whether Catholic or Protestant). I have a dear friend — a Presbyterian minister — whose job is trying to keep Presbyterian congregations alive.

The proud conservative Christians running the Republican Party — bowing in total obeisance to the evangelicals — have also helped destroy any notion that such a thing as “Christian mercy” exists outside of a sanctimonious Sunday sermon. Brown Children in cages was not what Jesus had children suffering unto in his mind.

If I’m a brand that needs new followers to stay alive — that needs brand loyalty from current followers — that has to compete with a thousand more ideas than it ever had to before — I’m afraid (if I’m Christianity). I wouldn’t be however, if I were Jesus.

Is there a more potent antidote the vile, self-serving piggery of Trumpism than “Do Unto Others”? Republicanism — same question. Christianity — you, too.

Jesus and Christianity have nothing to do with each other. Followers of Jesus — even now — are loathe to associate themselves with evangelicals or the rapey Catholic Church or any of the rules & regs heavy institutions their parents forced on them when they were kids.

I would say Followers Of Jesus need a new Paul — to create a new institution that gets the mythology right. But, right off the bat, that would violate one of Jesus’ core tenants — the need for a church.

Maybe a better way to go would be to actually follow Jesus. If you want to follow him theistically — go directly to god. Skip the institution. If you just want to Do Unto Others? Well, who’s stopping you? All you have to do is “Do”.

Maybe the best new brand for Followers Of Jesus is to call themselves DUO’s. They Do Unto Others. That’s all you need to know about them (so long as their actions match their words). I’d say they don’t even need that.

But what do I know? I’m just a dumb atheist.

Our Problem Isn’t That Humans Are “Tribal”, It’s That Humans Aren’t “Tribal ” Enough…

The English Premiership Football season started today. My side — I’m a Tottenham Hotspur fan (through marriage) going back 30 years — won! Though they played a dull first half, in the second half, the Spurs looked more Spurs-like. They pressed, they out-hustled, they attacked relentlessly. Our new guy (Ndombele) was great and Harry Kane who almost never scores in August, scored two goals! If you’re not a Spurs supporter like I am, that probably means nothing to you.

I understand. Spurs aren’t your tribe. You might be an Arsenal supporter (in which case piss off!) or you love Chelsea or Man U or Man City. I’ve got a good friend who supports West Bromwich-Albion (relegated last season to the League Championship, a tier below the Premier League). You might not even like footie. You might prefer American Football. Or hockey or baseball.

You might be a Lakers fan or a Dodgers fan — in which case, so am I. It’s not a problem for me (or anyone really) to take off their Spurs kit and put on a baseball cap or football jersey instead. One knows one can support several teams at the same time. One can belong to those tribes, as it were.

A fan base for a sports team — or even a singer — that’s a tribe, too. When you’re at a concert, surrounded by people who adore the performer as much as you do — you feel a sense of community with them. You’re both members of the same tribe.

For humans, being tribal is a survival instinct. We’re social creatures. Our success as individuals depends on our ability to cut it as part of the group. It’s a sad, horrifying fact: how one does in life is connected to how one does in middle school. If you socialized well in middle school, you should do fine in life. If you sucked socializing in middle school, you have a chance now to get your socialization right — with all the success and popularity that come with it. The trick is in which tribes you strive to become part of.

In middle school, of course, success depends on finding the one tribe that will have you. If you’re lucky enough to find, join and be accepted by that tribe, nothing else matters. Regardless of what happens to you, you’ll be fine in the end cos you’ve got your tribe.

Life works the diametric opposite way. Success depends on how MANY tribes you see yourself as part of.

When the Spurs game finished this morning, the Spurs and Aston Villa, their opponents, shook hands. The players all shook hands with the refs. The Spurs tribe on the field and the Aston Villa tribe on the field stopped being opposing tribes and became, instead, a tribe of footballers who all play well enough to be in the English Premiership. The players as a group stopped (for the most part) seeing refs as strange interlopers and saw them as a different breed of soccer professional — a different branch of the same tribe as them.

The fans at Spurs new, beautiful stadium, all cheered loudly for their conquering heroes. Eventually, they’d all finish celebrating, get their stuff together and head off into the streets — still Spurs supporters but also Londoners, too.

Those Spurs supporters never stopped being Londoners, of course. At the same time that I’m a Dodgers and Lakers fan (while remaining a Spurs fan), I’m also an Angeleno. I see other Angelenos as my tribe. I see people in my neighborhood as my tribe. I see Californians as my tribe. Excepting for Trump supporters (they’re racists), I see Americans as my tribe.

The problem with white supremacists (like there’s just “one” problem with them!) is that they see white people as their tribe. That’s it — just white people. Even when they say they’re Americans, you don’t get the feeling that their idea of the “American Tribe” and ours are the same thing. Their idea of “American” is them. If you’re not them, you can’t be in their tribe. You can’t be white (of course) and you can’t be American.

If I didn’t despise them for thinking how they think, I’d feel sorry for them — same reason. They’ve gotten it backwards.

The genius of America is that anyone can be American — provided they’re willing to work their asses off and work well with other people. Likewise, Americans moving to America from all over the world embrace diversity because they come from diversity. Diversity has always been what makes America truly exceptional.

Diversity demands finding kinship with as many different tribes as one can. The more diverse your circle of friends & acquaintances, the more diverse your tribe is. Before long, you begin to see human beings as your tribe.

Imagine that — seeing other people as your tribe just because they’re people. I hope the condition is catching. I really do.

How “Democracy Of The Marketplace” Works: You Vote With Your Dollars

In America, for better or (mostly) worse, money talks and everything else just sits quietly and listens.

Hell, we’re so stupid about money that we even put it (profit incentive) at the heart of our healthcare system — and we can’t figure out why our system is now the most expensive healthcare system on earth…

Until we fix that problem — money and greed and how they’re screwing up our Democracy — we’ll have to play by money’s rules. So long as the good or service isn’t already monopolized like cable TV used to be, and so long as there’s legitimate choice between legitimately competitive companies offering the same product (unlike old school mattress shopping, for example, with all its bullshitty obfuscations meant to prevent comparative shopping), the marketplace does offer its own form of democratic process. Let’s call it “The Democracy Of The Marketplace”.

I desperately need a widget. Turns out there are three widgets on the market from three different widget-makers. I’m going to have to make a choice. My money therefore will “vote” for one of the three products. That company will get my dollars while the others languish without it and, I expect, quickly go out of business. As if.

But — this being a marketplace — if a million of me do the exact same thing — and most of the widget market goes to one of the three companies, the two also-rans will have to strategize quickly or widget-maker #1 will come looking to finish them off because, from a business-bottom-line point of view, competition is expensive. So — what inspires the “me’s” of the marketplace to vote one way vs the other?

My Jewish family used to chuckle at all the other Jewish families happily driving around in their BMW’s & Merceds Benz’s — luxury cars now made by factories and companies that, during the war, built the very death machines that murdered the relatives of those very Jews. Oy.

And then we bought an Audi. Ya know? Those Germans? They make a good product. And these Germans weren’t those Germans. That’s how we got there, my family. That’s how a product “overcame our resistance” (sales training lingo). All our Jewish families voted with our dollars and our votes said “Germany, we forgive you”.

Take that however you want. It’s simply the Democracy Of The Marketplace. Even Genocide can be accommodated.

That power cuts both ways however. When enough people “rise up” against a product and refuse to buy it, that product goes away — and, often, the company that made it. That, too, is the Democracy Of The Marketplace in action.

Sometimes the Democracy Of The Marketplace speaks quietly but powerfully — without even knowing. Remember Bill O’Reilly? Used to be the top cash cow at Fox News — despite accusations of serial sexual harassment. But, then, something changed. A tipping point. Women became openly outraged at O’Reilly’s behavior and his company’s failure to do anything about it. They went directly at O’Reilly’s sponsors. They stopped buying their products because the sale of those products was helping, in part, to pay Bill O’Reilly’s salary. They decided to STOP voting for Bill with their dollars.

The sponsors are Big Companies of course that rely on selling lots of products to lots of people in order to stay in business. Scale’s important to them. When these Big Companies take a hit, it’s automatically big (it must be if they perceive it as a “hit” to their bottom line). They need to address the cause of that hit. In their case, they were losing significant sales because their products had been co-branded with a man their customers hated.

As “branding” goes — and branding is everything these days — that’s like busting a cap in your own head.

The 21st Century Fox board of directors saw it clearly: their advertisers would no longer support Bill O’Reilly’s show. If Fox News wanted to carry it, they’d have to pay for pretty much the whole thing (except for their smaller sponsors) by themselves. That ain’t their business model. No one’s that indispensable — not even cash cow Bill O’Reilly to Fox News.

Money talks. Fine. My money will not vote for any company that co-brands with racists. I am trying to get as much of my money as I can away from companies that co-brand in ANY way with Donald Trump. It’s a simple fact — a teeny-tiny part of every dollar I spend with, say, Verizon or Home Depot, will end up in the coffers of some Political Action Committee meant to achieve some political end the Big Company wants.

As Bill O’Reilly can tell you — there’s a tipping point in there somewhere. Cross it at your peril.

Too many Captains Of Industry turned out to be pirates. We need to punish the pirates and inspire more captains with a conscience. We need to vote for those companies and their products — even if they cost a few dollars more.

Don’t measure the cost difference only in dollars and cents. There’s another cost element that’s part of the equation — one’s “soul”.

Given a choice between widget A (made and sold by people whose values I share and applaud) and widget B (made by racists, rapists, corrupt polluters and treason enablers), my hard-earned dollar will leap from my pocket to widget A. That’s how certain my vote will be.

Why Our Main Stream News Media Sucks — “It’s The Framing, Stupid” Edition

It physically hurts watching most of our Main Stream News Media grapple with Donald Trump. He’s so much a creature of their making — his entertainer’s DNA is the same as theirs — that they fail to see their own fatal flaws in him.

It’s days/weeks/months/a presidency like this that make me think about Paddy Chayefsky’s brilliant screenplay Network.

If you haven’t seen it, see it! When you remember that Chayefsky wrote it eons before Fox News flared to life in Roger Ailes’ fetid mind (the feature came out in 1976) — a propaganda tool designed from the ground up to stop a Richard Nixon type president from ever getting caught again (that’s right — Roger Ailes believed that had Fox News been around during Nixon’s time, Nixon would never have had to quit) — Network becomes even more visionary.

Chayefsky anticipated the marriage of news and entertainment — and the birth of their Frankenstein Monster-like love child — a wildly out of control noise machine that gleefully blurs the lines between fact and fiction, reality and bullshit, ordered moral rectitude and total Machiavellian chaos. In one extra-brilliant scene, Ned Beatty — playing the Chairman Of The Board — explains “the rules” to renegade anchor man Howard Beale (Oscar winner Peter Finch). This is a wonderful example of “FRAMING”…””

…And YOU, Mr. Beale, have disturbed the Fundamental Forces Of NATURE!”

9A5% of our Main Stream News Media cannot “frame” a story to save their lives. To save OUR lives either. We need to remember — so does our Main Stream News Media — that journalists are storyteller first and foremost. News is just the story of what’s happening now and why. Journalists must follow the same rules fictional storytellers play by — if they’re going to be any good at storytelling.

All storytelling begins with framing. It’s storytelling’s “In the beginning…”. Do we frame Hitler (in a story about him) as a good guy or a bad guy? The overwhelming majority of us would probably frame Hitler as the villain regardless of the piece. But a few — white nationalists for instance — would probably frame Hitler as a hero. Framing equals point of view. Whose point of view does a story represent.

If you go and frame a story from Hitler’s point of view — or, say, Donald Trump’s — then things like Jew hatred to the point of causing a Holocaust or caging Latino babies at our southern border — then outright evil doesn’t seem so… “evil”. Evil gets normalized. Not all at once — but enough so that the next evil act plays to a collective psyche that accepts a certain amount of evil as “just how things are”. No, they’re NOT how things are.

Framing begins with what you know and what you can legitimately believe based on the preponderance of evidence. Donald Trump is a liar. Donald Trump is a money launderer. Donald Trump is a fraud. Donald Trump is a bully. Donald Trump is a racist. Donald Trump is a rapist. Donald Trump is a traitor. One could legitimately frame any story about Donald Trump from any one of these points of view — and successfully tell a NEWS story.

One could NOT (for comparison’s sake) frame a story from the point of view that Donald Trump is an honest actor who believes every word he reads off a teleprompter. That story would be demonstrably false even as you told it. And yet — our Main Stream News Media persists in framing the Donald Trump story from that very perspective: that Donald Trump is a normal person and a normal president. Sorry — I got that slightly wrong: they frame Trump as a “different kind of potus” who “expresses himself directly”.

Allow me to translate from the bullshit — “Trump’s a chaos agent and we have no idea how to report on him”. There’s no such thing as “different”. A journalist reporting that a politician is “different” because he ignores all rules and norms is a lazy journalist. “Why” are they different? “What do you mean exactly by ‘different’?” To call Donald Trump “different” is to frame Trump from the point of view of bullshit. It helps no one — except Donald Trump.

And that — right there — is the problem. When you frame a story from the point of view of, say, a villain — you see the world through the villain’s eyes. You empathize with the villain and see their goals as our goals. You normalize evil and make it not only respectable but desirable.

The Poster Girl for this rancid brand of un-journalism is NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell.

Kelly O’Donnell – A nice person (I bet) with zero perspective (I’m positive).

I’m sure Kelly’s a lovely person. I’m sure she’s a wonderful friend — she seems very empathetic. But she lacks critical faculties. She’s no more discerning of the Truth than an open microphone. Kelly happily reports everything Trump says from her White House beat as if Donald Trump was a tower of integrity whose every word was his bond.

FFS, Kelly — when we look back at this period a few years from now (provided we’re not all living in a gulag or a mass grave), we’ll look squarely at the Fourth Estate and their many profound failings. Journalists are the only job mentioned specifically in the Constitution. They are obligated to be our final check on power.

But a check that frames stories from the point of view of the things it’s supposed to be checking cannot check shit. It surrenders the necessary perspective the moment it starts reporting. Any story about Trump that doesn’t immediately frame Trump as a liar is a lie itself — how can it not be? It’s telling the liar’s lie for him. carrying his lying water wherever he wants it carried.

This isn’t hard to fix. Gaining perspective is as easy as stepping back from a story and allowing yourself to see all the great details you’ve uncovered in the largest possible context — so that you can see, evaluate and appreciate how your small cogs work as part of the larger wheel. I think of NBC’s number cruncher Steve Kornacki.

I’m sure Steve’s a lovely person, fun to lunch with. And he’s bright, too. I’ll give him that. But bright without perspective is less bright than it could be. Than it SHOULD BE. Steve Kornacki can tell you everything you want to know about a grain of sand — so long as we’re only talking about that one grain. Does that grain of sand live on the beach at Malibu or smack in the center of the Sahara Desert? Steve can’t tell you that.

He can only frame the grain of sand’s story from the grain of sand’s point of view. That is only part of its story unfortunately.

We need our news media to report the WHOLE Trump story every time out of the gate. We need them to see Donald Trump the way Fusion GPS saw Trump. Fusion, you’ll recall, was the research entity hired by the Washington Free Beacon then (through intermediaries) the Hillary Clinton campaign to learn all the could about Trump — through legitimate means. Fusion (as principle Glenn Simpson testified to Congress), upon being hired, started the job by doing its due diligence. They got ahold of every bit of publicly available material concerning Trump. Books, magazines, video, radio, internet. They bought from Amazon, browsed book stores & magazine racks and even went to the public library. What they found in publicly available material so convinced them that Trump had used his Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian Mob money that they hired former MI6 Russia desk guru Christopher Steele. Steele had the best sources inside Russia.

Fusion, in its report to its clients, framed Trump from the widest possible perspective. That perspective saw Trump as a criminal.

There is nothing whatsoever — still, to this very day — stopping America’s Main Stream News Media from doing the exact same due diligence.

It’s a little late now, of course. CNN & MSNBC (and all the rest) could easily have done this back when Trump was insisting that Mexicans are rapists. Perhaps if our Main Stream News Media HAD done that, there wouldn’t be a pile of dead Mexican bodies right now in El Paso.

When our MSM mis-frames stories, it isn’t just bad storytelling, it’s toxic to our Democracy.

Can Twitter Be Fixed? Or Has “The Fix” Always Been In At Twitter?

When I turned on my computer this morning, I learned that I am now banned from Twitter for a week. The offending tweet (I sooooo wish I had taken a few more moments before responding and screen captured it) was mild to put it bluntly. I said I wished that Donald Trump – with his shitty eating habits – would hurry up and do the patriotic thing: have a “cardiac infarction”. That was it: You eat so badly, have a heart attack already.

Banned for a week. For that.

If you tweet with any regularity, you know — that doesn’t make it as mild. A violation of Twitter’s rules? THAT tweet?

Something is rotten in the State of Twitter. There always has been. So why not quit the platform?

Twitter — among social media — is unique. That uniqueness has made it ubiquitous as both a news source and a brand-building platform. In design, Twitter is very much like a giant public square (I’m not the first person to compare it to one). Each member of the community enters, in essence, with a soap box under their arm. We can go stand and listen to others up on their soap boxes (shouting out compliments or catcalls, depending) or put our own soap box down on he ground, step onto it and orate to your heart’s content (or until some RW troll goes after you and gets you banished for a week).

FB (which everyone should run from, their hair on fire because of Zuckerberg’s total lack of transparency, his lying about abusing our privacy & data and the fact that FB accepted a shitload of Russian money back in the day) makes it hard to build a following (since everyone has to be friends first) whereas, on Twitter, if you can tweet well and find a little traction, it’s possible to build a following (if slowly but surely). But, like FB, Twitter is easily manipulated by bullshit and false information. In an age where even simple, basic Truth has to be triangulated before you can trust it, the only way to possibly know the truth is via triangulation. Source, check & double check.

Too many people don’t. Or don’t want to.

That Donald Trump still tweets is a profound problem. Yeah, I know – he’s the president of the United States. It still doesn’t give him the right or reason to so completely misinform, disinform and otherwise crap all over the Truth. Especially when Twitter is THE place — across most cultures on the planet — where news goes to break. One may roll out a project or product on FB but one uses Twitter to tell the world about it.

This was hardly the first time I’ve been banned on Twitter. My original Twitter account was over 10,000 followers when it got suspended for good. Twitter accused several tweets telling certain republicans that they should die in prison of violating its rules. I’m totally biased but I think that was bullshit. I said – literally – I hope the criminal justice system prosecutes you & punishes you with a life sentence. That was it.

I appealed as far as I could but that came to nothing — as arguing with a computer always will — because that’s really what happened to me. The bot that reported me had sent a dozen supporting tweets as proof of how evil I was. Several had the words “die in prison” connected in the tweet. Others had those 3 words spread out across the tweet — not having been used in conjunction with each other. But there the three words were – in the same tweet. And, for that, I had to be punished.

How did Twitter get so powerful in our lives that the thought of a week without being able to tweet from my primary account looms as a setback. I can’t brand as aggressively as I have been the past few weeks. I can’t be an active part of a community of smart people that I’ve come to treasure like dear, old friends. I can listen to the news — and to people (I can message them directly if that function isn’t blocked). But I can’t interact (except via DM) in any way, shape or form.

Maybe our real problem is that Twitter has become a necessary evil.