The Reason Big Business Will Absolutely “Quit” The GOP Is The Same Reason Bill O’Reilly No Longer Works At Fox News

Hey, remember Bill O’Reilly? Bill sure wishes most of us did remember him. But, for most of America, O’Reilly sits in the “Whatever happened to?” heap and not anywhere near the top. The reason most people don’t even think about O’Reilly any more as a “choice” in the news-entertainment marketplace is exactly the same reason that all America’s Big Businesses are now turning their backs on the Republican Party over the violently anti-democratic voting laws its members have drawn up all over the country, starting with Georgia. In a consumer-driven, free market economy — that, itself, relies on a stable, genuinely democratic political environment to cash flow it — anything that causes those consumers to stop consuming products & services is bad for business. If those causes are potentially long-lasting (more to the point, if the EFFECTS those causes cause are likely long-lasting), it’s entirely in Big Businesses long term interests either to remove or mitigate those causes as quickly (and cheaply) as possible. But, Big Business also knows it has a secondary problem to contend with: branding and co-branding. Just as Fox News saw clearly that continuing to co-brand with Bill O’Reilly had to end, so, too, will America’s Big Businesses see that they can no longer “co-brand” with the GOP.

O’Reilly, remember, had a history of sexually intimidating female co-workers (though the word in his mind was probably “seducing”). This happened. And, famously, this. This did, too.

Meanwhile, a paradigm that had actually shifted years before was finally recognized by America’s Big Businesses — at least the ones who advertised on Bill O’Reilly’s top-rated Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor”. As Time pointed out on April 6, 2017, ” …companies that advertise on The O’Reilly Factor have seen intense pressure on social media to stop running ads on the show. Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai were the first companies to pull their spots…”. Seeing the positive response those two big companies got, more of O’Reilly’s sponsors, their “integrity” having been fluffed, either pulled their ads from O’Reilly’s shows or (in the case of My Pillow, thought about it). Consider for a moment, what this really meant.

This was not one decision made in one boardroom that changed things, it was one decision being made in MULTIPLE boardrooms that changed things — because it all flowed from the same key data point: the majority of buying decisions in American households (especially the larger buying decisions) were being made by WOMEN. Appeal to the women in American households and your chances of making or keeping those households as customers increased. However, lose them as customers — especially over something like serial sexual harassment allegations — and you’d probably lose them forever. All those boardrooms saw it clearly: they could not advertise on any show having anything to do with Bill O’Reilly a moment longer. They transmitted that new paradigm to the 21st Century Fox Board (they oversee Fox News among other things). The 21st Century Fox Board did the only thing they could do as responsible stewards of their corporate entity: they canned Bill O’Reilly’s ass despite the fact that he was their main cash cow.

That’s freakin’ tectonic! Quietly, in the background, America’s Big Businesses took care of business — yes, out of greed, but also out of greed that recognized it needed to be on the right side of history. That happens from time to time; it’s like a broken analog clock being right twice a day. While crony capitalism has made a mess and a mockery of American capitalism — a thing which Team Biden, we hope, will begin to rectify in ways large, small and permanent — actual capitalism has, out of sheer survival instinct, worked as a kind of shifting ballast. That precedent is being repeated right here, right now in Georgia. While Coca Cola, Delta and Home Depot among many others had hoped to avoid getting dragged into American politics, if you donate money to legislators who want to legislate away our democracy — from a minority position — that fact now officially binds you together in the public’s consciousness. In other words, America understands that if you donate money to a politician, we can now take it for a fact that you AGREE with what that politician is trying to do. If the politician to whom you give money actively seeks to take away a customer’s VOTING RIGHTS, then that customer — and every other customer — will assume YOU also seek to take away your customer’s voting rights. If you can live with that — go ahead. Try it on. It won’t fit how you think it will.

Big business, if it’s to endure, must think strategically — in the longest terms possible. What’s good for the next quarter or two may be toxic to every quarter beyond. Living for today at tomorrow’s expense is how businesses die. This behavior doesn’t require a soul; only a survival instinct. Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky nailed this dynamic tension in his brilliant screenplay “Network” where — 25 years before it came to be — he envisioned the corrupting journey our news media would take from being respected, respectable news organizations to being entertainment companies with a little news thrown in. He saw Fox News coming from a million miles away. In Chayefsky’s Nostradoumus-like imagining, a weary news anchor named Howard Beale (who works for an imaginary 4th network called UBS — this was well before anything like Fox existed) becomes an unlikely populist icon/Jeremiah who taps into America’s latent rage; they’re all “mad as hell” and are “not going to take it anymore!” The UBS board, torn between keeping their integrity — albeit as the 4th place network and finally justifying themselves to UBS’s shareholders by making a little money for a change, choose the latter of course. But, Howard Beale is less than compliant. The silly man has begun to believe his own hype about being a “Jeremiah”. In this scene, UBS Chairman of the Board (played brilliantly by Ned Beatty) reads the riot act (and a few other acts) to Howard Bealed (Peter Finch who won an Oscar for his wonderful performance but died of a heart attack before actually winning the thing!).

It is one of the best pieces of screenwriting EVER. Fight me, if you dare…

Most of the corporations mentioned are no longer players — or even playing, some of them. They’ve been replaced by Amazon and China. But, aside from that? Almost every single word applies.

Bill O’Reilly was not accorded the kindness of such a “sit-down” with Rupert Murdoch. That’s how far gone, O’Reilly was. America’s Big Businesses have officially put the Republican Party on notice.

The GOP now finds itself sitting in the chair Howard Beale sat in while Ned Beatty rails at them. Remember what happens to Howard Beale in the movie? Spoiler Alert: it’s the very same thing that’s going to happen to the GOP. No one will mourn them. Hell, no one will even bother to make the funeral.

The world will be too busy trying to make a buck.

Dear Corporate America: Integrity Needs To Be Your New “Bottom Line”

Know who believes in democracy? Corporate America. They sort of believe in American democracy. But, the “democracy of the marketplace”? That, they believe in, unabashedly. Corporate America has to — they need consumers to “vote” with their wallets and pocketbooks as “early and often” as possible (like they supposedly used to vote in Chicago when the Democratic machine ran it). Remember New Coke? Remember how fast it disappeared from shelves when Americans resoundingly “voted against it”? Product launches are no different from candidate launches; candidates in American retail politics are no different from laundry detergent. Except some will destroy your clothing, wreck your marriage and burn your whole house down. There’s a reason Mitch McConnell fought so hard to keep Americans from getting financial support during the pandemic but insisted that companies never have to face any sort of liability for forcing their employees back to work, damn any and all risk to their lives.

Already, companies like Airbnb, Amazon, American Express and AT&T have cancelled all political contributions to any politician questioning the results of election 2020. And those are just a few of the “A’s”. They all know how easy — and likely — it is for their customers to turn on them should their customers suddenly find the companies’ political stances offensive. Remember Bill O’Reilly — Fox News’ one-time cash cow? The reason Bill doesn’t work for Fox anymore — despite how lucrative his bullshit was to the company — is because Bill lost all his advertisers. This was a boardroom decision! The 21st Century Fox board of directors were told, flat out, by the companies they needed to cash flow them that none of their customers would support their advertising on O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” any longer because he was such a sexist, racist pig.

Just like that, Bill O’Reilly became expendable. And just like that, he was gone. The democracy of the marketplace is harsh. But fair.

American consumers don’t like giving their hard-earned dollars to companies that do not respect them. They like it even less when those companies are ripping them off or doing things that could literally hurt them by, say, polluting the air and water. And the airwaves. And companies that want to overthrow our government? We REALLY hate those guys. And we ain’t buying whatever they’re selling…

The Truth — literal, empirical, this-is-what-happened-NOT-that, replete-with-receipts Truth — is about to get its day in court (the court of public opinion which is what really matters in America). On one side are Republican sweethearts like Marjorie Taylor Greene — an affront to logic and decency every time she speaks. On the other are Democrats, the rule of law, the Constitution and the majority of Americans. When the Democrats announced they’d introduce witness testimony (under oath) before the Senate “jury” during Trump’s SECOND impeachment trial, Lindsey Graham threatened to have the FBI testify, too. The Democrats, frankly, would LOVE IT if the FBI showed up and testified. What’s the point of Lindsey’s bluff here? Bring the Truth, Lindsey! Make it rain Truth! The only person needing an umbrella if that happens is YOU — and every one of your Republican co-conspirators.

I still won’t shop at Home Depot because the company’s ownership was so vociferously pro-trump. My hardware store dollars have a choice where they go to be spent. I prefer to use my local hardware store. But, sometimes, they don’t have what I need. A big box hardware store is where I’ll have to go. Ah, but which one? My dollars will vote for ANYONE but Home Depot. If too many other curmudgeons follow my lead? Home Depot’s bottom line will suffer. Pinch, OUCH!

Mitch feels that “ouch” like a cannonball rolling around his Treason Turtle shell, flattening his guts. He’s worked his whole political career to service the Big Right Wing Money and its various political needs. He’ll let all of America down before he even thinks of letting his paymasters down. Hell, Mitch is so cynical, he bought into the whole Donald Trump-Russia connection without batting a bloodshot eye. Ya don’t think Mitch had heard — same as every other Republican in the loop in 2016 — that “There’s two people (I think) Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump”? When current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy posed that question to a roomful of GOP leadership (was Mitch there perhaps?) a month before the 2016 GOP convention, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan made everyone present agree to keep this… suspicion/fact “in the family”. If Mitch wasn’t there, take it to the bank –he heard all about it.

Take this to the bank too. No one who heard that conversation live, took part in it or heard about it afterwards called the FBI as they absolutely should have done. This was the guy they were about to nominate as their candidate for POTUS. And they wondered about his loyalties and whether or not he might be compromised by a very hostile foreign enemy who we already knew were engaged in cyber war against us. The more we learn about this abomination — and we will once Merrick Garland punches the clock and a rejuvenated Department of Justice begins to behave like the defenders of the rule of law they’re supposed to be — the worse it will get for anyone still sporting that “R” next to their name.

That “R” will begin to stand more and more for RUSSIA.

Nobody wants that trademark next to their corporate image. Nobody wants their company to be co-branded in the buying public’s mind with traitors or treason or sedition or anything Marjorie Taylor Greene has to say. It always, always, ALWAYS comes down to money. And, for now, it’s money ironically that will keep corporate America from giving to their favorite enablers, the Republican Party. Whoever baked this irony cake knew just how long to keep it in the oven.

America is at the very beginning of a Great Moral Reckoning. We’ve needed this for a long, long time. As much of a treasonous shit as he is, on a certain level, we owe Trump a thank you — for causing the Republican Party membership to finally expose itself for the cynical, racist, authoritarians they all are. They’re the biggest, drunkest, angriest, whitest, stupidest frat party ever.

See those guys? Big companies don’t care what they want to buy. Not anymore. How long, do you suppose, will it take America’s news media to catch up with what its boardrooms figured out eons ago?

Whatever ya do, don’t bet on America’s news media. They still can’t even spell “integrity”.

The Reason “Both Sides Do It” Is Bad Journalism

In the “Pantheon Of Wrongheaded Common Wisdom”, “Both Sides Do It” is king, queen and the rest of the demented Spanish Aristocracy. It takes a nubbin of “maybe” and makes it incontrovertible fact. Bad behavior does not belong to any political party. Yes, both sides are physically capable of doing things they shouldn’t and then lying about them to keep from being revealed. Historically, both sides have “done those things”. But (and here’s where “both sides do it” hits a wall and loses), if we put it all on a scale and measured the two piles of awfulness against each other? As with right here, right now, Republican-brand awfulness is exponentially worse for America than Democratic-brand awfulness in large part BECAUSE THERE’S SO MUCH MORE OF IT!

Proportion and perspective are two things “Both Sides Do It” journalism jettisons from the get-go. It says a thief is a thief is a thief — regardless of whether it’s Bernie Madoff stealing billions because he’s a greedy pig or Jean Valjean stealing bread to feed hungry people. “Both sides ‘do it’.” See what I mean? Though theoretically correct, it is absolutely wrong in its framing because it equates two things that shouldn’t be equated.

I’ve worked as a journalist. I’ve been held to journalistic standards. In the absence of hard evidence, one must be skeptical. That’s SKEPTICAL as opposed to CYNICAL. There is a difference.

If your starting point for every story is “both sides do it”, you’re not being skeptical about human beings, you’re being cynical; you’re assuming the very worst for no reason other than you’re assuming it. Authoritarians want the population they control to be deeply cynical — making authoritarianism the only means to control all that irredeemable, inevitable bad behavior. When the press equates an act of extreme corruption with Joe Citizen claiming a few deductions he’s not entitled to — that puts a smile on a cynic’s face.

“See?” he’ll say, smiling, “Both sides do it!”

Take this to the bank, American news media: both sides DON’T do it and never have. You need to expunge “Both Sides Do It” from your way of thinking — from your brains entirely. That’s not a helpful suggestion, that’s a demand. Going forward, America needs “moral journalism”. I don’t mean phony “moralistic” journalism puked out by phony journalists who place themselves above the fray (though both sides “do it”, they apparently don’t), I mean journalists who bring perspective to work every day.

This is not an impossibility. MSNBC has multiple journalists hosting multiple shows that DON’T “Both Sides Do It” — Ali Velshi (an awesome journalist), Nicolle Wallace (fearless as hell!), Rachel Maddow (relentless and so articulate), Joy-Ann Reid (equally relentless). So, it IS possible for news networks to hire and keep journalists on their roster who DO bring perspective to work with them every day. But they also have Chuck Todd — the King of “Both Sides Do It”. They have other reporters like Stephanie Ruhl (who, though excellent when reporting on the financial world, gets lost in “Both Sides Do It” the instant she turns to reporting politics) — let’s call them “Both Sides Adjacent”. And they have Kelly O’Donnell — the QUEEN of “Both Sides Do It”.

“Both Sides Do It” refuses to take sides — even when there are no sides to take other than “pro-democracy” and “pro-athoritarianism” and the pro-authoritarian side accuses the news media of being fake. To accept that statement because you dare not get involved is to validate bullshit — even if that’s not the intent. THAT’S the biggest, baddest ripple effect rolling off of “Both Sides Do It’s” cynicism — the validation of bullshit.

Want to know why America felt so ripped apart at the end of the Trump years? Because we were facing the terrible consequences every day of being told the lie — that both sides would take us to this same, awful place.

Want to know why this morning feels so wonderful — on top of the change in leadership coming less than two weeks from now? Because we now look forward to breathing air that doesn’t stink of bullshit. That doesn’t stink of “both sides doing it”.

Republicans Have Crossed A Line From Beyond Which There IS No Return

That headline is wrong. The Republican Party has crossed MULTIPLE lines from beyond which there IS NO RETURN. The moment the RW money decided to make permanent minority rule its mission — that was a line of no return. The moment Moscow Mitch McConnell stated out loud that denying Barack Obama (the president a MAJORITY OF AMERICANS voted for) his judicial choices was his proudest accomplishment — that was a line of no return. The moment current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a GOP leadership meeting a month before the 2016 GOP convention and said “I think there’s two people Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” and no one thought to get the FBI on the phone — that, when then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan said “let’s keep it in the family”, was a line of no return.

Hell, when Donald Trump said — out loud — that “Mexicans are rapists”. THAT should have been a line of no return — literally and figuratively.

How many affronts to our body politic and our physical bodies do we have to endure before something akin to a survival instinct kicks in? If only one Republican stood with Donald Trump, defiantly denying the election’s results, that would be bad enough. With very few exceptions (and I’m not entirely sure about Mitt Romney), every single Republican member of Congress would go right along with Donald Trump’s attempted coup d’etat if they thought Trump might could possibly get away with it. That’s the Republicans’ constant tell — they do everything based on what’s in it for them and never what’s best for the people they’re supposed to be publicly serving.

Here’s a line they’ve crossed: by denying the validity of this election — which some of them WON in — because Trump lost, they’ve made any future participation in ANY election completely dubious. Why take part in an electoral process you think is bullshit? Or is it only bullshit if you lose? Hmmmmmmm… now, why does that smell funny?

What the dishonorable “gentleman” from Missouri — Josh Hawley — is doing? It’s horse shit wrapped in bullshit wrapped in sedition.

Are we to accept as “normal” that we can never know for certain whether the Republican candidate in an election will accept his defeat? Speaking personally here — HELL, NO! If I own a shop and you walk in and regularly steal from me, I’m going to stop you from “shopping” in my store because you keep proving yourself a thief. The Republicans have just demonstrated — are still demonstrating — that openly stealing elections is not something they feel ashamed about. When — after January 20, 2021 we have a functioning Department of Justice — we begin to shine some light on everything Trump, we will learn — take it to the bank — that without Russia’s direct involvement, Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS. Foreign countries — especially hostile ones conducting CYBER WARS against us — cannot win American elections.

Treason cannot win American elections. And, TREASON is yet another line pretty much every single Republican — Mitt Romney included — has committed. Sorry, Mittens, but “See something, say something” — that’s how conspiracy works. “See something, say nothing” — as you’ve done? You don’t actually have to “know” something to be considered part of a conspiracy. You only have to suspect your confederates are up to something in order to be liable — should you do nothing. Has Mitt called the FBI to tell them what he suspects? No? WHY?

That’s how the spider web of conspiracy will ensnare almost the entire GOP before the investigations are finished. We’re talking TREASON here — which still carries the death penalty — THANKS TO DONALD TRUMP! I bet he had hoped to use it on all his political enemies — more than half of America in other words. Oh, the delicious irony when Trump’s own bloodlust comes to haunt him personally.

As my old pal the Crypt Keeper used to say, “Be careful what you wish for, kiddies, you may just get it!”

The Republican Party’s behavior here whether by intention or not would set a precedent. They’d never have to lose another election. They’d simply contest the result endlessly, making governing nearly impossible. They’d always have “holding their breath till we all turn blue” in their pocket.

How can Republicans — having revealed the authoritarian pricks at their core — ever campaign as anything else? They have forever BRANDED themselves as corrupt, seditionist TRAITORS. Or do some Republicans plan to run in the future as “old fashioned” Republican who only fantasize about undermining the republic — they’d never, ever actually do it? Anyone putting that “R” next to their name — or seeing common purpose with people who do — is “co-branding” with everything the Republican Party has done and is doing — up to and including TREASON.

If our press could aggregate this story — growing their foundation of knowledge about Donald Trump and the Republicans as new, evidence-based information came in — they’d have stopped asking WHY the Republicans have followed Trump down this terrible, terrible road. They’d know already. They’d have reported it so that WE’D know. The entire Republican Party — to a man (and woman) — has betrayed the America the rest of us live in and aspire to.

How does a party guilty of such total betrayal “run” in an election? At some point, should they win, they’ll have to SWEAR AN OATH to uphold the rules we all agree we’re living under; how shall we take oaths sworn by people who’ve sworn not to stand by their oaths? That’s the question our news media asks us every time they even talk about elections in 2022 or 2024 — when they suggest Republicans would be the ones running against Democrats. How will America choose — between patriots or traitors — in the next election?

The only reason we still have to listen to anything any Republican has to say is because our news media is convinced both sides do what the Republicans are doing. That’s what they apparently think — whatever terrible, corrupt, treasonous thing the Republicans are up to? The Democrats are doing the exact same thing — we just can’t see it yet.

“Both sides do it” robs itself of perspective then smugly asserts that it can see inside everyone’s head though the only heads such “journalists” ever gaze into is their own. They are projecting their own moral ambiguity onto everyone else. That ain’t journalism, it’s cowardice.

The GOP has already poisoned itself. Its death throes will stretch out across 2021 and probably 2022. There’s a lot of terrible behavior to investigate. On the bright side, we’ll be clearing the prisons of drug “criminals” (their records wiped clean) and making space for (checks notes) pretty much the entire Republican Party.

The next line these craven Republicans come to, they better NOT cross. Their toes better be on it as they become (prison) wards of the state.

Why Do Some Christians Hate Being Forced To Reap What They Sowed?

As an atheist, I wonder frequently why so few Christians follow Jesus. That is, they belong to a church — but their church sees Jesus the way McDonald’s sees Ronald. He’s a mascot. He’s the “Do Unto Others” bait that they switch with “Do What We Tell You To Do — Or Else!” Institutional Christianity has no use for Jesus beyond his being a mascot. Jesus didn’t invent Christianity after all, Paul did. If Jesus were to rise from the dead and see the violence (much of it anti-Semitic!) that has been attributed to him, supposedly “inspired” by him and belief in him? His head might literally explode.

Religion gets to make up its rules as it goes along — and change them when they become inconvenient. That’s not a criticism, it’s just a fact. If science could play by those rules, it probably would. But, it can’t. Science relies on rigor. It needs the math to add up and check out. Consistently. Science, for instance, understands that there’s no magic. The carbon we pour into the environment today won’t disappear just because that’d be more convenient for us. Pandemics don’t disappear just because we want them to either.

And, every time we meet with a friend — even with masks on — just because we’re convinced neither of us has or will give the coronavirus to each other? We’re gambling. We’re playing Russian Roulette (ironically) with a pathogen.

Our sister sight Mulligan Jesus, has suggested that lots of Christians (if inside their own minds) see their Bibles more as a smorgasbord line than a book on which to base their lives. How’s the adultery looking today? Fresh? I’ll overlook the fact that I shouldn’t do it then “because it’s so fresh!” How about greed or pride or any of the other sins that practicing Christianity is supposed to “cure one of”? All available. All waiting to be piled onto my plate. That’s why they adore their “Pick N Choose” Bibles — why pretend to follow rules you think are stupid — or that might could get in the way of you having a good time, doing whatever the hell you want, and getting whatever the hell YOU think you’re entitled to?

That’s the dirty, little secret every one of these Christians (as opposed to “followers of Jesus”) carries around in their tiny black hearts: they don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God. Gods, you see, don’t “do unto others” because no one — they believe — is good enough to “do unto them”. Gods do whatever the hell they want. Or, that is, they think they can.

With the Republicans coup attempt, we are witnessing this behavior writ large. Republicans long ago reimagined themselves as “The White Guy’s Party”. They cannot abide the idea of Black people, brown people or women having authority over them (never mind governing). And just as these Christians pick n choose what they “believe in” from their Bibles, they pick n choose what laws from our Constitution they want to follow (if for the moment). You know — like someone who thought they were “God” might do.

“The Party Of Personal Responsibility” is always first to avoid it. Quick thought experiment — if Barack Obama (or anyone in his administration) had said what Michael Flynn said last night, inciting sedition against a winning Republican presidential candidate, what do you think would have happened to him? Kinda makes one think the whole “Party of Personal Responsibility” thing was always horse shit. Ain’t that shocking…

The Catholic Church protecting child molesters didn’t exactly surprise anyone — except for the extent of child abuse and its acceptance within the church. And is anyone truly caught off guard when scumbags like Jerry Falwell, Jr. get outed for the frauds they are? We all recognize that religiosity breeds deceit because it breeds judgment. If you perceive yourself to be more “God-like” in your behavior while others are “demonic”, you’re probably going to cast all your actions in the best possible light (regardless of the truth).

The reason so many “devout Christians” hate to reap what they sow is because they never intended to reap it. They expected someone else to get suck with their diseased crops. You know — like the man they think God “made” president — Donald Trump — always does.

I bet if Trump spoke the words “Do unto others”, he’d actually burst into flames — or melt like the Nazi at the end of “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”. That’s why he’d say — under his breath to protect himself: “…before they do unto you.” That’s the Trumpist’s creed.

The Day Republicans Made Treason Part Of Their Brand

Picture the scene — it really happened: a month before Donald Trump officially becomes their presidential nominee in 2016, the Republican Muckety Mucks all sit down to a meeting on Capitol Hill. Late to the meeting, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy enters and says out loud “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Per the Washington Post’s Adam Entous, “House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.” Did ya catch that? Instead of saying something like “What, now, Kevin? You think WHAT? Jesus — WHY? What do you know? Quick, someone, GET THE FBI ON THE PHONE!” — which is what then Speaker Ryan SHOULD HAVE said next — he said “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

I guess Speaker Ryan meant “a mafia family”.

It’s curious what wasn’t said or asked by anyone in that room filled with the Republican leadership. Things like “Do they KNOW they’re being paid or are they being duped?” or “How’s Russia doing it? How’s it putting money in their pockets — and what does Russia want in return?” It’s like all those Republicans already knew the answers to those questions. Because they do. Plenty of Republicans took plenty of Russian money into their campaign coffers. Traitors like Moscow Mitch did it a bit more “cleverly” — they took the Russian dosh in via PACS so as to (theoretically) distance themselves from the crime they were committing.

The reason no one picked up their phone and called the FBI is because they were all already co-conspirators.

Think of the calculation! Think of the furious process working overtime inside each Republican’s soft, mushy head, justifying treason. That is what it is.

Cyber War = War.

Undeclared Cyber War = War.

Undeclared Cyber War In Which We NEVER Fight Back (And Maybe NEVER Realize We’re Under Attack) = War.

The Americans living at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in the hours before Dawn on December 7, 1941 did not know that Japan had declared war on them — but, in fact, Japan had. A state of war existed (without the US government or anyone at Pearl Harbor knowing it) the instant the Japanese Imperial Navy set forth to attack Pearl Harbor weeks before the actual event. Remember — it takes time to move a naval strike force from its home base on one part of the globe to its attack positions on another part of the planet. The Japanese set sail absolutely determined to attack us whatever the consequences.

Like the unfortunate inhabitants of Pearl Harbor, just because you don’t know you’re in epic danger doesn’t mean you aren’t. And just because you didn’t mean to commit treason while launching your cut rate coup d’etat, it doesn’t mean you didn’t. The Republican Party took a big, reach-down-to-its-heels swing at permanent minority rule. To get as much on their swing as possible, they hitched their wagon to Donald Trump KNOWING not only that he was corrupt, but corrupt in partnership with a hostile foreign government.

Even the dumbest kid in class knows: corrupt people are easily compromised. A person as corrupt as Donald Trump must be compromised in remarkable, new ways. The same goes for the entire Republican Party.

Think of Mike Pence, for instance. For four years now, some people have had it in their heads that if Trump quit, we’d get Pence which would be bad but not quite as bad as Trump. That’s insane. Mike Pence is one of the most compromised people in the whole corrupt construction. Remember — it was Trump’s CAMPAIGN MANAGER Paul Manafort who brought Mike Pence to the Veep dance. Paul, at the time, was deep up to his corrupt neck in a criminal conspiracy; he needed to get $17 million into Oleg Deripaska’s hands or Deripaska would kill him. The last thing on earth a criminal like Manafort would want anywhere near him was a boy scout who’d freak out the second he heard all the Russia Secrets.

Manafort knew going in — with the Pence suggestion — that Pence would be properly deferential and compliant. He knew Pence would never even think about rocking the boat. Or calling the FBI.

So — Pence didn’t tell anyone what he knew. Neither did Manafort or Paul Ryan or Kevin McCarthy. Already, Republicans at the top of the food chain had embraced corruption on a scale they hadn’t quite before. In the days since the GOP — with their Russian friend’s help — stole election 2016, virtually no one (still) calling themselves a Republican has turned their back on their Republican fellow travelers — despite all obvious criminality.

It’s still like every Republican thinks they’re sitting in that room on Capitol Hill — and Kevin McCarthy has just walked in, with Paul Ryan eyeing him like he just infected them all with coronavirus. We’re not going to talk about that, Paul Ryan said.

In the aftermath of the event’s reporting, Kevin insisted (as all Republicans do when caught speaking actual truth about something): “I was just kidding!” Kevin, don’t ya know, has the reputation up on Capitol Hill of being THE Yuckmaster General. Suddenly a roomful of humorless white people become George Carlin or Richard Pryor. Funny thing about lots of Republicans — as it is with Donald Trump? They don’t HAVE any sort of “sense of humor”.

In order to have one, you must FIRST be able to laugh at yourself. It’s the first prerequisite. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you can’t do or see humor. You’re still capable of laughing — but only ever AT things or people. People with no sense of humor aren’t physically capable of laughing WITH anyone. Bullies — notoriously humorless — still get plenty of laughs from their crews — but those aren’t real laughs, are they? No one who hangs out around bullies has a sense of humor either.

In the years since they first actively conspired to commit treason, the GOP has done exactly nothing to change the course they’re on. They haven’t hemmed or hawed. They’re on this journey because they want to be. End of story.

It will be the end of the Republican Party, too.

Good thing Republicans can’t make irony part of their brand.

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.