Liars And Language — How Tongues Get “Forked”

Lying, by definition, is deliberate. That’s why liars choose their words carefully. They KNOW what they’ve done or aspire to do. They KNOW that, on some level, whatever it is, it’s absolutely wrong, immoral, unnecessary or illegal. If their aspiration was good for the commonweal, they’d crow it from the rooftops. Obviously, it’s not. Therefore the secret. Liars haven’t invented a “new language” to hide their deceit — that’d be too obvious. Instead, liars hang out their lies in plain sight, daring anyone to call it out.

Stone cold liars and sociopaths spew out and out lies as readily as they breathe. Take Donald Trump for instance. Trump’s inclination to lie is so deep-seated inside him — his connection to the truth so tenuous (because it’s so dangerous to him) — that it is possible that Trump “believes” his lies I’m not willing to give him a pass because of it — it’s just a curiosity worth noting is all. And it’s hard to give Trump a pass on anything when he’s so central to everything that’s happening to us. It beggars belief that he’s just an innocent authoritarian shithead caught up in events beyond his control. Trump’s lies are deliberate and big and deliberately big.

If at that very first moment where Trump — as an official candidate for the office of POTUS — rode down that gold escalator and insisted “Mexicans are rapists”, the news media had put down its foot and refused to move past this blatant, racist lie (most Mexicans are not, in fact, rapists — unlike Trump himself), Trump’s presidential campaign would probably have died right there. “Pussy grabbing” would have been the last nail in the coffin of Trump’s presidential aspirations. “But, her emails” would never have happened since the Kremlin wouldn’t have been involved anymore. without Russia’s active engagement to MAKE him POTUS, Trump would NEVER have gotten anywhere near the presidency.

The easiest lie — the one Republicans and Trump used and use constantly as a kind of bullshitty “Get Out Of Jail Free” card is “I was joking!” Donald Trump tries to wave off all kinds of awfulness with “It was a joke, can’t ya tell?” The problem is Trump has zero sense of humor. Not everyone has a sense of humor. The baseline requirement to have one is the ability to laugh at oneself. If you can’t laugh at your own foibles and flaws but can easily laugh at others’? That’s not “having a sense of humor”, it’s being a bully. Similarly, when current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked about a recorded conversation of a meeting of GOP leaders on June 25, 2016 (a month before the GOP made Trump their presidential nominee) where Kevin, upon entering the meeting said out loud “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”, Kevin insisted HE was “joking”. In retrospect — and with THIS picture taken during Trump’s presidency in your head — tell us again, Kevin, that you were “joking”.

Take this to the bank and prepare for it to rain bigly on you: at the very least, the Republican leadership knew Trump was owned by Russia. At the worst — they said nothing because Russia already owned them too. That’s why they “kept it in the family” as then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan directed them to do. That’s Paul Ryan THEN third in line to the presidency. From that moment onward — there are whole mountain ranges of receipts — the Republican Party (Donald Trump especially) has done everything in its power to obscure the connections between Trump and Putin. Between Trump and Russia’s corruption.

Oh, the hairs we have split to avoid calling Donald Trump and the GOP traitors — even in the face of bold-faced treachery. Our news media to this day scratches its head so hard they’ve made divots in all their scalps trying to come up with a good explanation for why the Republican Party remains sooooooo loyal to Trump. They put it all down to Trump’s base. No one wants to get primaried is how that story goes. These public servants worry mostly about their job security not providing any “constituent services”. No argument — that IS part of the matrix. But there’s way more matrix than that.

There’s proof — stone cold proof that our news media has reported on and published itself — that Trump has behaved criminally. There’s proof he behaved treasonously. And, while, in America, everyone (supposedly) gets their due process, there is such a thing as “preponderance of the evidence” and journalists are allowed to extrapolate in their questions (such as “Mr. Trump, do you see running for POTUS again as a chance to govern or as a chance to avoid being prosecuted for election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason?”

Our news media won’t do that however. During the Trump years, the White House Press Corps regularly put on a craptacular of “both sides do it” brand journalism that equated Republican criminality with Democratic reaction to it. Though the Republicans were behaving criminally for a political purpose, our news media insisted that every time a Democrat reacted to a Republican’s criminality, the Democrat was just “being political”.

We expect liars to lie. We don’t expect our news media to hold their beer while they do it. We can’t blame liars for lying. Lying is what liars are good at. We can and should blame the news media for enabling not just lying but The Big Lie. We would never have achieved a Big Lie’s criminal mass without a swarm of little lies fusing together beneath it. And those little lies would never have gained traction if our news media hadn’t normalized them.

Trump Is Now Trying To Do To The Rest Of America What He Did To The GOP — Turn Us Into Him

Donald Trump is a virus in human form. That shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone.

Viruses are simple creatures — strands of RNA trying to make more of themselves. To do that, they need to invade a healthy cell — and use the cell as a kind of cheap sex hotel. The virus reproduces by turning our cells into it — and then using our cells to spew more of its Frankenstein RNA far and wide making us both sex hotel and pimp. No wonder we feel so tired when we get sick — we’re working our asses off at the cellular level. America feels similarly exhausted, doesn’t it? Like we’re fighting an actual disease in our body politic. I’m not sure where the metaphor ends or where the reality begins. Most of us thought (we hoped certainly) that Joe Biden winning the election (by seven million more popular votes no less!) would put this nightmare to bed. A strong showing by actual democracy, we assumed, would make the point strongly enough that most of the Republican Party would back snap to its senses and realize the terrible mistake they’d made climbing into bed with Trump.

That didn’t happen. It’s not going to because Donald Trump literally turned the GOP into him.

Trumpism hasn’t just replaced what we used to call “republicanism”, it’s superseded it. However… the GOP didn’t turn from gentlemen into bullies when they hitched their wagon to Trump’s. Gallant didn’t suddenly become Goofus. The Republican Party had been Goofus-ites long before they became Trumpites. Something about Trump made sense to them. They had always aspired to Trump’s level of sociopathic brashness but retail politics had always prevented them from actually trying it: what if they failed? Trumpism was a herd of elephants in a china shop. He approached retail politics the way a truck hijacker approaches a parked semi filled with high end goods.

Some quick history: in the Reagan Revolution’s dimming twilight — as Bill Clinton succeeded by demonstrating how Democrats could win elections by acting like Republicans — the Clinton-despising right wing money (they think of themselves as “Captains of Industry”!) took a good, hard look at its prospects for the future. Having turned the formerly progressive “Party of Lincoln” and Teddy Roosevelt into the Dixiecrats, the RW Money (always the “heart of darkness”) saw two things: 1) a rapidly diversifying America taking political power that had always been theirs, and 2) electoral extinction hurtling at them. The choice they faced was either share power with the rest of America (which, to them, meant having less money in their pockets cos paying more taxes), lose power entirely (a very real possibility if they ever began to share power), or seize power entirely — under false pretense — in order to hold onto power forever by shoving a state of permanent minority rule down America’s throat.

The Republican money chose option three.

By the time Donald Trump landed in their midst, the Republican Party was already deep into hijacking the judiciary — recognizing that lifetime judicial appointments were the key to stopping progress and progressive ideas dead. The RW Money wrote off controlling the House of Representatives (where they’re always running for re-election), assumed they’d always hold onto the heavily-tilted-toward-them Senate and understood that only extraordinary means (like Bush v Gore) could ever win a presidency; the popular vote being a lost cause, they focused on the Electoral College, America’s grand bargain with slavery. The federal bench — and its lifetime appointments — that was the RW Money’s chosen path forward to the fever dream of permanent minority rule.

From his first moments as Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has been the Right Wing Money’s golden boy, walking point on hijacking the judiciary. He denied Obama not only a hearing for Merrick Garland but the chance to fill more than a hundred open federal bench slots. When the majority of Americans voted for Barack Obama, we voted for the people he’d choose to fill these slots. Apparently even winning elections doesn’t have the same consequences for Democrats as they do for Republicans. Mitch McConnell has been a beacon of white corruption his entire political career.

Ah, but even Mitch’s deep corruption wasn’t absolute corruption. To get there, the GOP needed Donald Trump.

The Republicans knew when they made Trump their nominee in 2016 that Russia owned him outright. They talked about it amongst themselves! Out loud! It was recorded! As current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of GOP leaders on June 25, 2016, he said: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in the room reacted with shock or surprise. There was nervous laughter — that’s why McCarthy reiterated how serious he was: “Swear to God!” Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan (third in line to the presidency!) asserted himself as the adult in the room. He didn’t issue orders that someone competent immediately begin investigating these accusations. He didn’t say “Geez, Kev — that’s crazy! You seem genuine. We better call the FBI since hat’s what we all swore an oath to do if something like this ever happened” Nope. Instead, Paul Ryan committed them all to keep this secret secret. “That’s how we know we’re family” is how he put a bow on it.

When asked about this conversation a year later (as far as I can tell, it was the ONLY time anyone in that room has been questioned by journalists about this conversation), Kevin McCarthy insisted he was joking. Does it sound like he’s joking on the tape — or does it sound like he “might be” joking? Washington Post reporter Adam Entous didn’t seem to think so. Kevin McCarthy got laughs in the room! Nervous laughs! But, that wasn’t Kevin McCarthy killing the room, that was Kevin KILLING OUR DEMOCRACY. Alongside Donald Trump. And Russia.

This is a story about a desperate, white mans’ political party making one last gasp Hail Mary chuck toward the distant end zone (where, they hope, permanent minority rule will catch the ball and score the winning TD). The Republicans — already corrupt — hitched their wagon to Bigger Corruption. Ah, but not just “bigger corruption”, the Biggest Corruption: TREASON.

Destroying the country is bad. Doing it in concert with countries we know want to destroy us? Badder times a kajillion.

Our dimwitted press seems utterly incapable of aggregating the very story THEY have reported. Were they capable of adding information to a story and then building new parts of the story upon new information as they report it, we would be way further down the road to resolving Trumpism than we are. This emperor’s nakedness is his corruption. It’s there. It’s a fact of life. And every single bit of it is illegal. I wonder… does our “journalist class” think that a car stolen right in front of them in broad daylight is any less stolen than a car stolen somewhere else in the dead of night? We The People didn’t normalize “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing”, the news media did when they equated those two very real assaults on our senses and culture with the utter bullshit of “But her emails!” “That,” our press insisted, was “both sides doing it”.

Oy.

Already, Donald Trump, like a virus, was turning us into him. America’s politics have always been ugly. But, one side, by habit, has always accepted violence as a political weapon. And, going back to Watergate, one side has consistently seen skirting the law if not outright breaking it as an acceptable campaign strategy. The reason Democrats never ever feel compelled to cheat in order to win an election is because Democrats really and truly believe in governing and want to govern. They believe in the rule of law and in upholding their oath to defend the Constitution against ALL enemies foreign (and especially) domestic. One doesn’t suppress the opposition’s voters or gerrymander because one believes one’s ideas are better. Those are things one does when one has NO ideas and only power for its own sake matters.

The majority of Americans are very good people. We want our children to grow up with the brightest futures imaginable. That is, we want all of our children to grow up that way. What makes a Republican a Republican is their knee jerk disgust at the thought of using government to help ordinary Americans. Republicans see government as a giant cash machine for them and their friends.

Perversely, it will probably be the coronavirus pandemic that saved American democracy from Donald Trump. Trump’s relentless corruption dulled news media senses already dulled by “both sides do it” thinking. But even our feeble-minded press couldn’t figure out how to normalize all that death. Having to work remotely from their houses fixed a fair amount of that flippancy. Being cast out of their safe media bubble — forced to struggle with the very technology itself (rather than having “tech people” to do it) — for a little while there, it really humanized the news media. Getting their mojo (and their sets back) has had the opposite effect. They’ve stopped seeing crime committed in front of them as crime.

Plenty of Americans have been miles ahead of the news media in seeing how the dots connect in this story. We never put on a pair of reality blinders as they did. We saw Trump for the con man and criminal he is and wondered why journalists couldn’t see the same thing. That’s the call coming from inside the house again. Trump has already, to a large degree, turned the news media into him, too.

Every time the news media asks (having scratched their head over it for years) “Is Trump racist?”, that’s the press being Trumpified. Of COURSE he’s racist! Why the hell are you asking him? How the hell would Trump know if he’s racist? He has zero perspective. How about asking some of the victims of his racism (there are plenty!) if Trump’s racist; they know! Every time the news media asks “What’s the hold Trump has over the Republican Party?” they demonstrate their inability to tell this story. They’ve lost the thread completely.

Yeah, sure, Trump’s base scares them — as do the ups and downs of retail politics. They only like it when it’s fun! But the thing that scares them most about Trump and their ongoing involvement with him is how un-fun it can be when Trump’s madness is upon him and he’s looking for someone to blame. Then, all bets are off. Then it all comes down to the Trump gang’s willingness to keep that secret they all agreed to keep in June 2016 when Kevin McCarthy confirmed their wort suspicions. Trump had already set the hooks in deep.

They were Trumpified.

America won’t give Trump that choice. Even if he just outright takes it and forces America’s hand even further, Americans won’t give in to fascism the way Germans did. American diversity will stand in fascism’s way. There won’t be nearly enough manpower to contain all the woke opposition the Trumpublicans will encounter. And that is where it will end. The Republican Party — now entirely Trumpist — will crash and burn when treason finally gets slapped onto the table and we begin to prosecute it.

The rest of us will have to worry about whether there’s enough popcorn for the show.

The Terrible Truth Is: Donald Trump Knows Us Better Than We Know Ourselves

Let me be clear first: with one profound exception, Donald J Trump doesn’t “know” anything! His bloated, orange treason-head is utterly devoid of coherent thought beyond how to keep filling his greedy maw. All that cobwebby space between Trump’s ears and beneath that awful haircut is filled nearly to bursting with one piece of absolute certainty. Donald Trump knows who he is. He knows what he is and he loves that entity and knows how to sell it. And he knows that most of the rest of us — love him or hate him — will buy it. Though it pains me to say, the terrible truth is Trump is a better storyteller than I’ll ever be. I’ll certainly never have his audience. Trump has made the American news media his perpetual bitch and used them — he’s still using them — to tell a story that simply isn’t true. About Trump. About us. But, he knows because his own life proves it, the more he repeats his lies, the more they’ll become “the truth”. Whole religions have risen because demonstrable unreality replaced reality. You’ve got to have done some pretty effective storytelling to get hundreds of people not only to drink your Kool-Aid but feed it to their kids. That’s exactly what Trump is doing.

And we are going right along with him though we don’t have to.

Trump’s a bully. So’s Vladimir Putin (though Putin’s the bigger bully by far). The lessons learned on the schoolyard never get disproven. Bullies, if unchecked, run a sick, twisted show the rest of us have to perform in. Even if a bully’s actions don’t directly touch us, still, their impact on the schoolyard will ripple and those ripples will touch us eventually and then repeatedly. Around us,, some people cower because they naturally play beta to the bully’s alpha. But, others cower not so much at the bully’s power, but at the bully’s effect on the schoolyard. They buy into the bully’s power over the bullied and cynically begin to believe that’s just how it is. The bully will win because (they now see) bullies always win.

Except that’s not true. Most bullies, in the end, lose. In time, another bully rises up and kills them. That’s the tingle at the back of every bully’s neck that never goes away. It’s Tony Soprano always having to wonder if one of his fellow diners in the restaurant he’s eating in plans to bust a cap in his head before he’s finished his pasta. Bullies know that there’s always another bully out there, gunning for them. They know that though most of us will cower, some of us will come for them instead. They may not know us intimately, but they do know how we’ll react to them. They calculate their storytelling accordingly.

Putin’s a spy by training. Spycraft, by its nature, is all about storytelling. Sometimes to explain the truth and sometimes to make the truth unknowable. It all depends on what the spy needs to accomplish. The Hitlers of the world know how deeply tribal hate runs inside most of us; it certainly runs deep inside of them. Being mostly lizard brain themselves they grasp how easy it is to trigger other lizard brains emotionally and then to action. It’s all about fear. Authoritarians and fascists tell and sell “fear stories” to the fearful. They understand that, regardless of their own complicity in their problems, the fearful are much happier blaming their misery on “the other”. Self analysis is hard even for those willing to do it. For those unwilling to do that hard work? They’ve walked into the marketplace of hateful bullshit with their credit card in hand and no limit on the card.

The Trump’s of the world see the rubes coming. Whatever their grievances are — justified or unjustified — Trump plays to them. Magnifies them and turns them into “a cause”. And then he turns to the news media and sells them a story, too — that what he’s doing, ugly as it is, is legit. That’s how things like “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” get normalized and legitimized. Things presidential contenders could NEVER say out loud and get away with — well, now they CAN say those things out loud — and get away with them. They know that we’ll buy “But, her emails!” too — because we’ll buy everything! And we’ll equate “But her emails” with “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing”, thus equating Trump’s very real racism and rape mentality with entirely unreal obfuscation.

Hey, “both sides do it, right?”

Despite the fact that the MAJORITY of Americans don’t want what Donald Trump or the GOP want (we voted against it FFS!), America teeters on the precipice of authoritarianism. How is that even possible?

Simple: because Trump knows us better than we know ourselves.

Despite the fact that the majority of Americans want what Joe Biden wants, want what’s in his Build Back Better package, our news media has us convinced that we might not get those things anyway because the Democrats can’t get their shit together. That’s a piece of storytelling all by itself. The MAJORITY of the Democratic caucus supports what Biden and the Progressive wing wants to do — because their constituents want it too. Ask Joe Manchin’s actual constituents policy by policy if they want what Joe Manchin is negotiating away. Then ask — since he’s not doing it for the voters in West Virginia, on whose behalf IS he negotiating? Then ask if we were talking about a shootin’ war somewhere versus a “war on poverty in America” would we even be having this conversation? We wouldn’t. Regardless of its rightness or wrongness, we always have money for war and never a question of “how’re we gonna pay for this?”

That’s Republican storytelling working its dark magic.

But, here’s where their storytelling magic and its debilitating effect on us suddenly runs out. What Trump and the GOP are counting on — America going along with their criminal hijacking of our democracy (that their version of our story is THE story) — won’t work because it counts on a character detail that simply isn’t present in America’s story. Homorgenous cultures like Germany’s circa 1900 (or any of the European nations and their cultures) were the product of at least a thousand years of different tribes from the same place slowly forging into (in Germany’s case) one German-identifying “nation”. Hitler rose to power despite the majority of Germans hating him (hell,, Hitler was Austrian, not German!). In part, Hitler succeeded through sheer schoolyard bullying. But, in much larger part, Hitler succeeded because he understood the schoolyard and understood how to play the schoolyard’s commonality — nationality — to his advantage. The German tribe was quite large at that point — and very, very “German” even if their passport wasn’t.

Down deep, even the “Good Germans” felt more German than good.

Nationality is key to “national socialism”. America’s sense of “nationality” is entirely different from Nazi Germany’s. Oh, yeah, sure — a third of Americans DO see nationality the way the most fascist Germans did. But they’re only a third — and that’s at best. Feeling white superiority is one thing. Acting upon it is something else entirely. The bottom line on bullies is they’re cowards. If they don’t trust the group will be there to hold their victim down so they can beat that victim? They’re keeping their hands in their pockets. White supremacists know down deep that they and everyone like them are cowards. If they had an ounce of real confidence, they wouldn’t worry about being replaced. They’d go out and compete like big boys and girls.

Should America stumble into its worst case scenario — and the Trumpist Party (that’s who and what the Republicans are now and will be forevermore) literally seizes power (by whatever means which is exactly how they’ll accomplish it) — their moment of triumph will evaporate right before their eyes because they won’t get the willing compliance of a “nation with a common history”. Those white nationalist tribalists will, instead, find staring back at them (and not up at them) the faces of every other tribe — all the ones they shat on, enslaved, denied rights to, abused or thought could never, ever challenge them for supremacy. Not a one of those faces will be compliant.

Or going along to get along because they all know where that leads.

If there is to be a Second American Civil War, it won’t go the way the people who want that war to happen think it will. Witness the number of Americans who won’t go back to work because, frankly, who wants to be a slave? That’s what the corrupt, right wing money has done to our economy — turned most of us into economic slaves, chained to a system we can’t escape and so we go along to get along. Or, at least, we used to.

The Second Civil War won’t be fought with guns. Oh, the right wing will fight that way. They’ll use violence because violence is literally all they have. But, arrayed against them will be the intellectual might of E Pluribus Unum. America’s diversity is what makes it truly exceptional. And America’s diversity will not kowtow to racism, bigotry, misogyny or treason. America’s diverse citizens believe wholeheartedly in America even if those who think they’re “more American” don’t. The many tribes that make up “America” will stand against (and will defeat) the one tribe that stands with Donald Trump.

Okay… I was wrong. Donald Trump does NOT know us better than we know ourselves. Trump’s fatal flaw is what I thought his strength was — he knows himself. He knows only himself and, because he’s counting on “himself” to be there at the moment of truth, he’ll fail.

And that’s because he doesn’t know us. He has no idea who we are and doesn’t care. Same goes for everyone who still puts that “R” next to their names (important life hack, Republicans: if you stand with a monster — even though it’s just because that’s where the money is — YOU are a monster). None of them know or appreciate yet who we are and why we will NEVER let them get away with this. Neither the villains of the piece nor our professional storytellers (the news media) get who we are or what that means about our reactions.

Let’s please, please, PLEASE keep reminding ourselves that WE do.

When Are We Going To Stop Being So Permissive To Criminals And Are We Being So Permissive Because Those Criminals Are White?

On January 20, 2021, at noon, Donald Trump ceased being POTUS and reverted to being Citizen Donald: former president with a few perks-of-the-office still but, in most other ways, just another American beholden to the rule of law. So, when Trump told those subpoenaed by the January 6 Commission to ignore those subpoenas, he was openly violating the law. In fact, each time Trump opens his mouth — like he did again at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines this weekend — and repeats those instructions while also continuing to openly support insurrection — that’s also a crime. When members of Congress stand with and support insurrectionists, they BECOME insurrectionists themselves because that’s how conspiracy to commit a crime works — especially when members of Congress openly associated with those insurrectionists in advance of the insurrection. It’s a crime to assault people just because you disagree with them. It’s a crime to threaten them — especially with a weapon. It’s a crime to co-conspire with hostile foreign governments to undermine America’s government.

At least, in theory, all those things are crimes. Apparently, they stop being crimes when rich, white Christian men are the perps.

First question: WHO is being permissive here? Who appears willing to accept terrible behavior by one group versus far less terrible behavior by other groups? For sure, Black people aren’t being permissive toward white crime, neither are brown nor Asian American nor Native American nor anyone LGBTQ. That leaves white people — and the people who speak for white people, our news media. If outraged citizens on the street, witnessing George Floyd’s murder, hadn’t videoed the event with their phones, we wouldn’t know about it. Same as we don’t know about most of the 6,400 other people police have killed or fatally shot since 2015. This doesn’t happen in other countries. It doesn’t make us “exceptional”.

America remains a great idea poorly executed because the white, land-owning Christian men who drew up America’s founding documents couldn’t overcome their own native racism. And, yeah — they were racists. They proved it by agreeing that “All men are created equal” so long as “All men” is “white, Christian, land-owners who also are MEN”. No one else qualifies as “equal”. Well, that idea is demonstrably false. The same men also put “E Pluribus Unum” on our Great Seal. “Out of many, one”. The Great Seal doesn’t qualify who the “many” are. That’s because E Pluribus Unum captures more fully America’s Secret Sauce (what makes America truly exceptional) far better than “All men are created equal” does.

The playing field has never truly been level here in America. That’s not a reflection on the strength of our founding idea, it’s a reflection of our not having gotten the hang of democracy yet. It really is a challenging form of government, being all DIY. As Churchill put it, “…democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms…”. Democracy is the best of a bad lot, in part, because (as Ben Franklin pointed out) it demands so much hard work to maintain a republic. It demands that its citizens participate — not an easy ask. In the whole history of humankind, self-government is a very, very recent innovation. Kowtowing like betas to an all powerful, divinely-connected alpha dog who claims a superior blood line is much more our habit. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And people claiming divine authority for their power are the MOST corrupt. They’re also the most full of shit.

That’s not a coincidence.

Here in America, white people gained an unfair advantage at the start that — understandably — they are loathe to let go of. But, what originalism really is saying is “Hey, we wrote the rules at the start — with a heavy bias toward ourselves — but that’s just how it is and how the country must always be”. White people also rationalized a legitimacy for enslaving people. America’s economic base, in the beginning, was agricultural. We could easily grow vast amounts of sugar cane, cotton and tobacco. The only problem with those particular crops though is the labor intensity demanded to grow and harvest them. If one had to pay a fair market wage to the labor needed — and one needed lots of labor prior to industrial farming techniques — then the profit margins would shrink radically; they might even vanish altogether. The decision to use slaves to perform that labor solved that problem by making the labor costs virtually zero.

At its bottommost line, slavery is stolen labor. America made stolen labor legal — so long as the laborer was Black. We also imposed a variation of slavery on Mexican farm laborers and Chinese railroad workers. Slave wages are designed to make economic independence impossible, keeping the worker enslaved to his or her job. An unhappy worker tied to a job because it has health INSURANCE (not health care — ours isn’t a health CARE system, it’s a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing!) that they literally can’t live without is not much better than a slave tied to a master because otherwise they’d have nowhere to sleep, no clothes, no food. Policing in America began as an adjunct to slavery. Originally, cops were slave hunters.

In other words, even the basis for law and order in America harkens back to our racist flaws and the maintenance of a corrupt, brutal economic system based on only one group in America actually having any rights to speak of. We walk in the door making life easier for white people and harder for everyone else. Crystal Mason is doing five years in a Texas prison for voting in 2016 though she was still on parole. Republican (and white guy) Edward Snodgrass forged his dead father’s signature on an absentee ballot — then voted himself — in the 2020 election. Snodgrass is a local politician in Porter Township where he lives. Busted, Snodgrass pled guilty to a reduced charge of falsification and received a sentence of three days in jail and a $500 fine!

Hmmmmmm… doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?

When Trump said, during his 2016 campaign, that he could shoot one of his followers on 5th Avenue and not suffer any consequences, he was horrifyingly right. Trump didn’t use a bullet to take out his followers, he used the coronavirus and lies. Trump understood — having lived the life of a criminal — that being rich, white and Christian was already a kind of “Get Out of Jail Free” card. He also understood that by corrupting others, the potency of that “Get Out Of Jail” card increases exponentially.

All abuses of power are corrupt. Our permissiveness toward white people when they act criminally is corruption on the hoof. That, too, is illegal. If we really want to stop this merry-go-round from hell, we need to stop it for good. We need to call corruption what it is and criminals what they are. If we just reframe our story, we’ll suddenly understand exactly what the story really is. And we’ll stop treating Republicans like honest actors, our partners-in-governance and start treating them like the criminals they are.

How To Argue With A Republican

Step One: Don’t. That is, don’t argue with a Republican on their terms. That’s because Republicans don’t really have terms. They’re hell bent on winning all arguments purely for winning’s sake and it doesn’t matter how they win. That means if you enter an argument with a Republican thinking there are some kind of “rules”, then you’ve already lost the argument. Rules, as any Republican will tell you, are for losers and Democrats. What applies to arguments also applies to elections. So long as a “W” results, it doesn’t matter how you got it. If cheating is as good as not cheating (and cheating is easier), why NOT cheat? And, since the cheating almost never gets punished, it makes zero sense not to at least include cheating in your campaign strategy whether that cheating is accomplished by gerrymandering, voter suppression or outright treason. This nihilism is the baseline for every Republican argument. It is their rabbit hole — and to argue with any Republican is to find yourself plunging down their rabbit hole.

That’s why step one is “don’t”. Don’t follow any Republican down their bullshit rabbit hole. Force them either to step outside the rabbit hole to argue or to argue from inside the rabbit hole while you argue from reality. Republicans tire quickly of arguing with themselves. That’s why they prefer it if Democrats did that. Republicans forced into reality quickly realize the difference between their bullshit world and the real world. Take the January 6 insurrectionist foot soldiers — the ones who stormed the Capitol building at the behest of the Republicans in power. They were all full of themselves while committing their crimes. They screamed and shouted how proud they were. They even took pictures of themselves doing it — like they expected these videos to make their futures.

They’re getting their wish — just not how they intended. Suddenly, these “patriots” find themselves in legal peril with no one rushing to help pay the legal bills. And those bills are a bitch because billable hours to defend oneself against federal charges add up quickly. That’s a big reason so many of the little fish pled out. They got that even trying to defend themselves would bankrupt their families. Hey, even a traitor’s most vulnerable organ is their wallet (since they have no soul or heart and, clearly, no life to give for their country). At some point — soon — the January 6 investigation will formally pierce the veil of Congressional involvement in the insurrection. Actual members of Congress and their staffs will be caught out helping to PLAN the insurrection and to co-conspire with the foot soldiers — giving them guided tours in the days ahead of the insurrection as part of the crime’s planning.

It is absurd that we, as a nation, continue to call crimes committed in the clear light of day “political” when they’re criminal as hell. It doesn’t matter that they were committed FOR a political purpose. I could rob a bank for political reasons. I’ve still robbed a bank! What the GOP is doing — directly attacking our democracy — isn’t them asserting a problematic political position. It’s them committing a crime. If you attempt to deprive an American of their rights, you are committing a crime — and that is the whole point of the exercise. The Republicans have said so — out loud. It’s about time we took them at their word and at their deed.

So — Step Two: having refused to step inside the Republican’s rabbit hole, hoist them on the petard of their own words. In fact, bury them in their words. Make them explain their words — every nuance of them. Demand the motives behind “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” and refuse to accept “I was joking”. Schoolyard bullies and their friends have no sense of humor. That’s a fact. People with no sense of humor can’t laugh at themselves — that’s the tell. Think: Donald Trump. It’s obscene that GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy was recorded speaking those words (on June 25,, 2016) as he entered a meeting of GOP leaders and yet, to this day, has never been questioned about them by any member of the press other than the one time where Kevin said “I was kidding!” Kevin McCarthy needs to be put under oath and Benghazi’d. So does every Republican.

Step Three: demand receipts or the argument ends right there. “Back it up or it’s bullshit” is how I’d put it. Imagine if every time, while Trump was president, instead of going along with Trump’s version of things, the White House Press Corps had, instead, stiffened its back and said “Back that up or it’s bullshit” then stood its ground. Now, sure, Trump’s first reaction would have been to explosively toss every offending journalist. But Trump’s a raging narcissist. He aches to be loved especially by those whose love he can never have. He craves their respect especially. Also worth noting: Trump’s a horrible negotiator. He keeps giving away that the only thing in his hand is his mushroom dick.

Imagine if every time Mitch McConnell got up on his treason turtle hind legs and began spewing, some reporter, shaking his head said directly: “Back that up, Senator, or we will understand it to be bullshit”. Imagine if every time Ron DeSantis or Gregg Abbott or Rudy Giuliani or Mark Meadows or Mike Pence or any Republican had to bring receipts to every conversation or they knew the convo would be short and always to their disadvantage. Republicans need to keep the conversation afloat in order to keep prosecution at bay.

The instant the news media stops thinking of Trump and every one of his Republican co-conspirators as honest actors acting politically and, instead, as criminals acting for a political purpose, the entire conversation we’re having will change. The framing will finally have caught up with the subject matter.

Basic Math: Republicans + Power = Corruption

Fascism succeeds, in part, by obfuscation. They deliberately undermine our collective faith in “the truth”, our sense of security and our future then insist they’re the only ones who can fix the mess (they made). But, as chaotic and complicated as this faux-world seems, it isn’t. Republicans are simple creatures motivated by simple things: greed & racism. They saw demographic obliteration in their future and decided to obliterate our democracy instead. The GOP has crossed the Rubicon — from political party to criminal enterprise. Though our news media refuses to see it (they still think both sides “do it”), when people like GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy get up on their hind legs, they’re nothing like “honest actors” having never been honest actors. For reference — Kevin’s known from the get-go that Donald Trump was compromised by Russian money; he said so out loud on June 25, 2016 as he entered a meeting of Republican leaders to discuss the man they were about to nominate as their presidential candidate. “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” Kevin said, “Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”

The math should have worked this way: Stunning Accusation + Roomful Of People = Outrage At The Accusation. Or, Stunning Accusation + Roomful Of People = Demands To Know Where Kevin Got This Idea. Or Stunning Accusation + Roomful Of People = Phone Call To The FBI. It didn’t of course. If anything, the math did the exact opposite. The Republicans who knew or suspected that Trump was OWNED (that’s what being financially compromised means) by a hostile foreign government engaged in cyber war with us chose — per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan to keep this terrible secret a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family,” is how he put a bow on it.

Our story is so much simpler than we’ve been led to believe it is. Hey — math’s a bitch to lots of us. But, when you simplify the math, even the most math-averse among us (me) can see math’s beauty — its simplicity. Math can speak truth like few languages can. For instance: Republicans + Power = Corruption.

Some other examples —

Journalism – Perspective = “Both Sides Do It”

Horrible Voice + Horrible Face + Horrible Person = Ted Cruz

(The Rule Of Law – Equal Enforcement) + (The Constitution – Checks And Balances) + Originalism X (Gerrymandering + Voter Suppression) = Permanent Minority Rule

(Russian Money + Russian Cyber War + Russian Kompromat) + (The GOP + Donald Trump) X (“Mexicans Are Rapists” + “Pussy Grabbing” – “But Her Emails”) + A Cynical News Media That Thinks Both Sides Do It = Election 2016

Any Russian Involvement In Election 2016 = A Fraudulent Election

Donald Trump’s Relationship With Russia + Bill Barr – The Mueller Report = Republican Obstruction Of Justice

(Racism + Greed) – Patriotism + Russian Kompromat = Treason

The thing about math that math averse people like me have a hard time with is the idea that math has one answer. And yet, where Republicans are concerned, I now see the beauty in the math. It’s as basic as one plus one equals two. Republicans Plus Power Equals Disaster For America. And just like all other math, it’s true today — as it was true yesterday — and as it will be true tomorrow. Nothing about Republicans or Republicanism adds up to anything except corruption.

Our News Media Doesn’t Understand What “Integrity” Is (Or Why It Matters)

The Importance of Integrity in Business | FreshBooks Blog

Everyone is born with the same amount of integrity: one hundred percent. As we drop from the womb, we haven’t betrayed any principles yet, haven’t gotten lazy when intellectually challenged, haven’t let anyone down. If we “say” we’re hungry that’s what we mean. If we say we’ve pooped or peed ourselves, we have! If we’re sad or lonely or happy as a clam, we’ll broadcast that fact as loudly and clearly as we can. We are as honest as we’re ever going to be. Then we go out into the world and one of the first things we learn how to do is be less honest. Part of that’s just what it takes to get through a day filled with different kinds of relationships. A certain amount of truthiness goes with being human and living in a human society. But, there is a line. People who take on “important jobs”, work that could genuinely mean life or death to others (airline pilots, physicians, police officers for instance) can be less than honest with their romantic partners, but we need them to be totally honest with their passengers, patients or perps. Would you allow a surgeon with questionable integrity to slice into you?

Me neither.

Integrity is like a balloon made of platinum. As solid as it seems, it’s easily punctured. And once punctured. it’s irreparable. If Donald Trump had a radical change of heart (and character — let’s pretend okay?) and suddenly (on the inside) became absolutely honest, would we believe him? Certainly not. And, ironically, the more Trump pled his newfound honesty, the more dishonest we’d be sure he was. That’s what happens when you bust a cap in your integrity. It dies. And the world’s perception of you solidifies: you are a liar. If Trump could keep up the act, not just insisting he was honest but actually being that way, perhaps in a few years, our skepticism would begin to subside. To the degree that one’s integrity can be repaired, the process moves as slowly as nerve regeneration in humans. Glaciers can beat it in a foot race.

And yet, our news media regularly restores the broken integrity of the very least deserving. Richard Nixon was a criminal — full stop. At the very least, Watergate should have fixed Nixon in our collective understanding as a man with zero integrity. Of course Nixon himself would want to restore his integrity — or bamboozle others into thinking he (somehow) still had some integrity to trade on. Why would our news media want to help him though? Better question: why would our news media want to put ITS integrity on the line for someone their own reporting established had none? I don’t think it’s because our journalists don’t have integrity, I think it’s because they simply don’t know (or maybe even care) what it is.

“Both sides do it” brand journalism conflates skepticism with cynicism. Suddenly everyone becomes a variation on a theme : the lust for political power. Regardless of what they actually do or say, so goes the thinking, their motives are all exactly the same. From this vantage point, NO ONE has integrity. How can they when (per the journalist doing the reporting) everyone’s hedging or gaming everyone else? This simply isn’t the case. Progressives don’t want what conservatives want; they don’t want to live in a past where white, Christian men had all the power and money — the very thing conservatives want to conserve. Progressives will tell you openly that they want a rising tide to float every possible boat. Conservatives, on the other hand, will lie to you about just about everything because, they know, if they told America the truth about them — about their motives — they’d be in jail already.

When our news media gets up on its hind legs and insists that Mitch McConnell or Kevin McCarthy or Mark Meadows or Devin Nunes or Bill Barr or Mike Pence or Chuck Grassley or Susan Collins or Jim Jordan or Marjorie Taylor Greene or Brett Kavanaugh or Steve Bannon or Ted Cruz or anyone in the Trump clan is an “honest actor”, they’re committing journalistic malpractice. They’re labeling criminals as honest then demanding why Democrats won’t negotiate with them. But, even when our news media reports actual acts of treason — based on hard evidence they themselves have vetted — they refuse to connect the dots their reporting suggests do connect.

Example: On June 25, 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a meeting of GOP leaders — a month before the GOP will nominate Trump to be their presidential candidate. They know Trump’s candidacy is inevitable. McCarthy is worried however because he fears that Trump is corrupt: “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” he says, “Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in the room balks at the thought. There’s nervous laughter — that’s what motivates McCarthy to insist “Swear to God!” He wants to be taken seriously. He wants his news to be taken seriously. But, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan asserts his “leadership”. He shuts down the conversation. They’re not going to discuss this secret; instead, they’re going to keep it — this knowledge that a hostile foreign government has compromised the man they’re going to nominate to be POTUS. “That’s how we know we’re family,” says Speaker Ryan, third in line to the presidency himself.

No one in the room questioned these accusations of Trumpian criminality. No one doubted that they were possible. And no one insisted they they should — per their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution — call the FBI to warn them. The total amount of integrity in that room by the time the conversation finished? Absolute zero.

Has anyone in the news media gone back to revisit these shocking accusations — and the even more shocking acceptance of them? To be fair, yeah — a few intrepid reporters have questioned Kevin McCarthy about “There’s two people I think Putin pays”. Kevin insisted he was just joking — and that (as always) ends the discussion even though it’s demonstrable that Kevin McCarthy (like Donald Trump) has no sense of humor. Bullies, as an absolute rule, NEVER have a sense of humor. It’s part of why they’re bullies. Oh, sure — bullies can laugh. But bullies (think Donald Trump) never laugh with others (except other bullies), they always laugh AT others. See the difference?

Since then, Kevin’s reported-upon statement has sat in the Trump-Russia evidence room, gathering dust. That’s a reflection of our news media’s integrity or lack thereof.

I’m old enough to remember how connecting Trump to Russia only ever got you rolling eyes in response. Same goes for describing Trump and the GOP as authoritarians and fascists. As we stand here today, those who correctly spotted the GOP’s authoritarian and fascist leanings were right: they still have their integrity on the subject. Those who shrugged off what the Republicans were/are doing? I’m not sure I’d ask their advice on a lunch order any more. I wouldn’t trust their taste as I wouldn’t trust they were telling me the truth. It’s not just Republicans whose integrity has been destroyed by Trumpism. Silence in the face of this attack is tacit complicity.

Anyone complicit in this coup d’etat blew up their integrity a long time ago.

When Trump openly told his four underlings NOT to cooperate with the January 6 Truth Commission, he openly committed a crime. Citizen Trump doesn’t have the authority President Trump had to say such a thing without criminal liability. It’s not a question whether or not Trump did this thing — he deliberately broadcast it as part of his strategy. That doesn’t legitimize it. It should, instead, make prosecuting this bloated orange pirate a thousand times easier. But, that would demand that our news media stop reporting Trump as a politician and start reporting him as what he is: a stone cold criminal in the middle of a treasonous crime spree.

I wish it were possible to buy our news media some integrity. Hell, they need it so desperately, I’d even steal it for them.

How Criminals (And Republicans) Think

Inside every criminal’s head is a scale upon which they balance their criminal behavior’s risks versus that behavior’s rewards. If the risk of stealing a six pack of beer is a decade plus in prison — and the risk of getting caught is high, it’s probably not worth it. But, if the risk of stealing a whole country is that two thirds of the people will despise you while cowering in your presence? No big deal. That’s the calculus that criminals and Republicans make as they contemplate the actions that make them criminals and Republicans. The only thing that will stop a career criminal from continuing in his career is law enforcement stopping him. That’s why one of the first things career criminals do is compromise law enforcement in any way they can. Mafia dons buy cops. Dark Money buys politicians. The point of the exercise is corruption. Corruption itself becomes a kind of currency that criminals either pass around like dividends to their pals or wield like a cudgel to keep the less “dedicated” to crime in line.

Because our news media still insists — despite the mountain ranges of information stacked in front of them — that “both sides do it”, they see Republicans as honest actors. This misrepresents them horribly. Even worse, by giving all information equal weight and validity (since it’s not up to the journalist to judge anything), in their reporting, these journalists knowingly equate bullshit and truth while refusing to qualify which is which. Back before the news media was shamed into refusing climate deniers any more air time, they regularly gave climate deniers all the air time they wanted! This happened regularly on NEWS channels and shows: News show host would set up a debate between a climate scientist or believer in climate science like Bill Nye and a climate science denier like David LeGates or Marc Morano (formerly Rush Limbaugh’s “Man in Washington”).

Notice how a NEWS channel set up its shot here? It’s a “50-50” image. In other words, both people — both arguments — get 50% of the screen. In visual language (which most of us understand quite implicitly), CNN is saying: “these two arguments have equal validity to them”. That’s not even remotely true but the visual image tells us it is. The same applies to when any news panel includes at least one person there specifically to lie. If the show presenting the news panel doesn’t make that fact explicit then that fact doesn’t exist for the news audience. And the truth-speaking panelists will find their truths being compared equally to the liars lies.

It gets worse! The “both sides do it” spewing news media — having equated truth and bullshit — set themselves to the task of “analyzing” what’s happening. With their skewed view of the universe and all the people in it, they attempt to characterize the players so as to explain them. But the lens these “journalists” use is their own experience, their own way of thinking. Problem is THEY’RE NOT CRIMINALS and don’t think like criminals. They end up normalizing criminal behavior by recasting it as political.

Or — as so many American journalists insist on doing — they put themselves inside Donald Trump’s mind and assume Trump acts like they act and thinks like they think. That’s how we ended up with a White House Press Corps that regularly gawped at Trump as he openly lied to them. They ascribed political motives to criminal behavior — then reported the whole thing through the non-criminal prism inside their own heads. Trump’s hold over the GOP became entirely political: it’s all about Trump’s ravenous base. Yes, that’s true — to a degree. But it’s not the real leverage Trump’s held the whole time.

Crime is. Criminals understand that the more people they compromise (including law enforcement), the harder it will be for anyone to stop them. Another tactic criminals use is normalization. If everybody’s doing what they’re doing, can it really be a crime? And (as with Trump), if you do your “criming” out in the open where everyone (the press included) cans see it, can that really be a crime? The answer to both questions is hell yes. Crime never stops being crime (the statute of limitations be damned!)

If I attempt to deny another American their right to vote — in any way — I am violating their rights and committing a crime. If I do it because I’m racist, that’s a whole other level of crime. And it is a crime to be actively racist in an E Pluribus Unum country.

White America wants the rest of America to overlook two hundred-forty years of consistently terrible behavior toward non-white Americans (or non-whites who, for whatever reason, came to live and “work” in America). They want every other American to forget about slavery or every deal our government made and then broke with a Native American tribe. They want the rest of us to deny the long term impacts of white racism on its victims (including the very real, generational impacts on its victims’ wealth). And then our news media gets all warm and cuddly with these racists by refusing to call out their racism. They go and ask the racists “Hey — you’re not a racist, are you?” And then they shrug inconclusively when the racist — news cameras in their face — insists “Me? No! I’m not a racist!”

Trust me, CNN, MSNBC, the rest of the news media — when Donald Trump says “I’m the least racist person in the world”, that’s bullshit. The last person you should ever ask “are you racist” is a racist since they have the least perspective on the subject. Same goes for the racist’s racist buddies. They can’t tell you if their friend’s a racist because THEY’RE so damned racist. The ONLY people who can honestly and accurately tell you if anyone is racist is that racist’s victim. They KNOW when someone’s being racist toward them. They’ve had a lifetime of experience with it, don’t forget. Their racism “spidey senses” are always cranked up to eleven.

Ah, but “both sides do it” says that a racist remark and the racist victim’s response are equally valid.

Racists are racist in everything they do. Literally. Same goes for rapists, by the way. When your view of the world allows you the freedom to infringe on other peoples’ personal space at will and without consequence — as a matter of personal power — you will act that way toward others until someone with more power rises up to stop you. Republicans? Exactly the same.

Donald Trump has been a criminal his entire life. Just because he’s never been prosecuted — that’s a technicality, really. That’s us failing to do right by ourselves and remind criminals their crimes are unacceptable to the rest of us and will be treated accordingly. The rule of law’s a wonderful thing but it can’t enforce itself. That’s our obligation. And it’s not hyperbole to say that Donald Trump is a criminal and that plenty of people have always known or suspected this to be true.

Case in point — as I’ve repeated in this space often — June 25, 2017, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a GOP leadership meeting to talk about their soon-to-be presidential nominee. He says — out loud (it was recorded and the recording played later for Washington Post reporter Adam Entous) “There are two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Even in the context of the time — without four years of treasonous behavior toward Vladimir Putin — this is treasonous! One of the head muckety-mucks of the Republican Party is telling other muckety-mucks that their candidate to be POTUS is compromised by a hostile foreign government — AND THEY KNOW IT! And they — per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — are going to keep this criminal secret a secret because “that’s how we know we’re a family”.

The instant you become a co-conspirator to commit treason — as everyone in that room did — you become a criminal! At the very least, you should become someone our news media (who reported the crime) suspects could be a criminal. But not just a “criminal”, a traitor. To report such a person as if there was no possibility they were a criminal or a traitor misreports them entirely and can’t possibly hope to report them accurately since it’s already detached their true motives from the story. Suddenly, treasonous behavior becomes something less — far less. It stops being a crime, for one thing.

And just like that, treason becomes normalized. Criminal behavior becomes political behavior. Crime becomes acceptable to the people who are supposed to be our last backstop against the abuse of political power. Nothing good can come of that — as our current situation proves.

The Solution To Our Constitutional Crisis Isn’t Political — That’s Why The Department Of Justice Matters So Much Right Now

The rule of law, unfortunately, cannot enforce itself. Granted, the rule of law itself is a human creation and so, flawed, but, for some reason, our inability to enforce the rule of law reveals far deeper flaws in our nature. Or in how we frame the rule of law. Racism remains built into our architecture. That’s because our founders (flawed human beings) had a great idea “All men are created equal” whose execution they bungled completely (“all men means only white, Christian, land-owning men” and no one else). Put a big, fat E for “error” down on the scorecard. That nod to racism (and slavery) still haunts us. Racism — especially when it deprives its victims of their rights — is CRIMINAL. Every single instance of it happening IS CRIMINAL. Not hyperbolic crime, REAL CRIME. “Rights crimes” may not be sexy enough for a podcast to follow, but their legal implications and ripple effects — have ya heard the recent news from Texas? All those new laws cropping up like weeds in red states — the ones restricting some voters’ right to vote — they’re all VIOLATING THE LAW as they try to become the law because they’re trampling on someone’s rights.

We are living the example of what happens when you fail to prosecute the rule of law equally and evenly.

While some Black Americans get punished for breaking arcane laws, white Americans can openly intimidate other Americans with impunity. Because they’re white. And, up until now, we have almost no history of prosecuting white people for lording their whiteness over everyone else. It’s gone to white peoples’ heads. Well, some white people. The white people to whom sharing political power (and the wealth that goes with it) is anathema have declared open war on the rest of us. They no longer hide the political nature of their actions — what they call “political”. But, by “political”, what the Republicans mean is “deliberate”. For a purpose. A political end: permanent minority rule. The problem is, every action to achieve that political end is, itself, a criminal act because 1) it violates other Americans’ rights in the present and 2) it seeks to overthrow the legitimate government of the United States (the one run by We The People) — an act that is absolutely illegal — as its goal. When a gang of thieves set out to rob a bank in the dead of night? Their criminal conspiracy is already a legal fact before they even arrive at the bank.

So — our base problem is framing. We must stop framing criminal acts as “political”. That’s where the Department of Justice steps in.

When corruption infiltrates law enforcement, society as a whole suffers terribly. Corruption at the top gains muscle. In America, policing began as a tool of slavery and that association between policing and racism has never gone away. How can we be shocked that America’s police departments are overflowing with racists when we have it in our heads that racists are the ideal hiring pool for cops? In the movie biz, casting is pretty much everything. If I cast Rob Schneider as Hamlet (when I really want Benedict Cumberbatch), I’m gonna get Rob Schneider making a hash of my movie — and it’s going to be my fault, not Rob’s. Eliminating the racism from America’s police departments one by one would be impossible. Eliminating racism from American Life — one racist incident at a time — equally impossible. That’s where the rule of law comes in — on a federal level!

From the instant Donald Trump got his corrupt hands on the Department of Justice, he set about turning America’s head lawyer and law enforcement official into his Roy Cohn. Racist elf Jeff Sessions failed in Trump’s eyes because he recused himself from the Trump-Russia investigations. Got it? Sessions feared crossing the line Trump insisted he cross — beyond ordinary corruption into TREASONOUS corruption. The fact that Jeff never went to the FBI with what he knew or even just suspected must haunt Jeff. Legally, I mean — it’s our obligation to put Jeff on the stand and grill him Benghazi-style about why, if he “saw something”, he didn’t “say something”? Silence in the face of crime is complicity. When that crime is treason?

The Republican Party hierarchy KNEW for a fact even before they nominated Trump to be their presidential candidate in 2016 that Russia owned him outright. They said so — OUT LOUD (it was recorded FFS!) As he walked into a meeting of Republican leaders on June 25, 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Kevin’s SUSPICIONS about their presidential candidate got an uncomfortable response. Not shock (as in “Whaaaaat? Kevin — dude — are you sure about that? What the hell put that craziness into your head?”), nervous laughter. That’s what motivated Kevin’s “Swear to God!” He wanted to be believed, understand? He was assuring them that his info was good.

What did the room ultimately do? They listened to then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan who insisted that this damaging piece of information remain their collective (as in conspiracy to obstruct justice) little secret. “That’s how we know we’re family”, said the Speaker Of The House, third in line to the presidency. Clearly, the family he had in mind was a mafia family.

Friends, that moment — right there? That’s a crime. That meeting was and remains a crime scene as yet uninvestigated. As far as I know, the FBI has NEVER questioned anyone who was present in the room. In retrospect, that meeting — and Kevin’s accusation — is far, FAR more than it seemed even in 2017 when the Washington Post reported on the meeting their reporter Adam Entous having heard the recording of the meeting himself. It’s not a coincidence that, even as he was being sworn in (and violating his oath of office to defend the Constitution), Trump was moving to cover up his crime. What made that tricky was that the crime was ongoing.

Bill Barr’s corruption is genetic. His dad Donald Barr ran the elite Dalton School in Manhattan that hired an unqualified Jeffrey Epstein to teach. Despite that association, Barr refused to recuse himself (like Jeff Sessions did). Barr had way more skin in the game apparently. The whole point of Barr being back at the DoJ was to stop any and all investigation into Trump’s corruption dead in its tracks. Barr kneecapped the Mueller Report, misdirecting our easily misdirected news media into thinking that Mueller’s narrowly focused investigation exonerated Trump when, in fact, it did nothing of the kind. It seems though that even a man as corrupt as Bill Barr had a line in the criminal sand. He wouldn’t join Team Trump in their insurrection attempt.

Still, Barr’s DoJ was openly hostile to enforcing the rule of law wherever it might apply to corrupt, rich white guys. Especially the treasonous ones. When the Democrats won back the House in 2018 and began the process of oversight into what Trump had done, they did so with a massive handicap: they had zero enforcement muscle. Any Trumpian refusing a Congressional subpoena had nothing to fear since the worst case scenario was the Congressional Sergeant At Arms handcuffing them and hauling them down to the basement somewhere to lock them in a closet or secure them to an old pipe. Without teeth to enforce itself, even a political investigation ain’t going anywhere.

That’s why Biden winning — and winning handily (7 million more voters equals handily; the Electoral College measures corruption’s reach more than it measures the will of the people) — mattered. The authority to govern finally flowed to the person to whom We The People wanted it to flow. Take this to the bank and plan to get rich: Donald Trump did not win office legitimately. That’s not a political fact, it’s a criminal justice fact — and it’s the one we’re going to have to arrive at as the basis for our thinking. But for Russia, Donald Trump would never have been POTUS. Without Russia’s help, Trump would never have gotten past the primaries; he might never have entered the race.

Donald Trump’s illegitimacy as POTUS is the organizing principle confronting the rule of law. The rule of law doesn’t recognize degrees of election fraud to punish. It doesn’t say “if less than ‘this number’ of Democratic voters have their votes suppressed by a foreign government’s deliberate, focused propaganda aimed at stopping them from voting for Hillary” then it’s okay, “But, over ‘this number’, it’s illegal!” By the same token, the rule of law is clear about how illegal it is for ANY American political candidate to accept ANY help from ANY foreign government hostile or otherwise. The fact that Trump OPENLY accepted so much help from a government we KNEW was at cyber war with us?

If we see Moscow Mitch McConnell’s actions through a longer lens — his grim determination to deny Barrack Obama lifetime federal judgeships including so much as a hearing for Merrick Garland plus his insistence at the White House during a Gang of Eight meeting in September 2016 that if Obama told America about Russia’s active intent to make Trump POTUS that he’d publicly accuse Obama of “politicizing the intelligence”, plus Mitch’s odd relationship with Oleg Deripaska — the man responsible for spreading Russian propaganda to Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the three blue states that flipped red and made Trump POTUS ) — suddenly “innocent” acts (is my sarcasm font working?) don’t look so innocent. Mitch McConnell denying Obama judgeships that he shoved down America’s throat the second Trump became POTUS become part of the larger “undermine America’s democracy” narrative. It becomes part of the larger Republican effort to circumvent the will of the American People and impose permanent minority rule against their will — and against the law.

Because any attempt to violate any American’s rights is a crime.

It really is this simple: the Republican Party have not been behaving politically, they have been behaving criminally — for a political end. The end therefore becomes a detail — the “why” of the crime and the point of their co-conspiracy. That is what this ultimately is: a massive conspiracy to defraud Americans and America of their democracy.

To even think of doing such a thing — if it ain’t a crime now, we better make it one. Because this won’t stop until we prosecute the living shit out of it. The moment these perps realize what they’ve stepped in — as many of the insurrection’s foot soldiers are finding — they turn. For one thing, defending yourself against federal charges is massively expensive. This is as bad as getting cancer in its potential destructiveness to a family’s generational finances. When justice finally pierces the veil of Congressional involvement in the insurrection, the whole conversation’s going to change because we’ll have stopped treating what individual Congresspeople like Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene did as political (giving tours to demonstrate the building’s best entry points and where the tunnels are) and start seeing it for what it was and is: part of a criminal conspiracy to overthrow the United States of America.

What is Merrick Garland up to? Does he see this crime scene the way I do — the way (IMHO) we all need to — as a crime scene! There are hints he does. Frustratingly vague hints. The tricky thing about justice and the rule of law is that they must dot every “i” and cross every “t” to remain legitimate. For the rule of law to really work — and gain everyone’s trust — its integrity must remain at one hundred percent. That takes time. Cutting corners — especially legal ones — infringes on integrity. And — very important — the target (we hope) Merrick Garland’s DoJ (our DoJ also!) is sizing up, measuring and taking aim at is Donald J. Trump.

AG Garland — and We The People — will get one shot at this. One shot at making our case that Donald Trump was the biggest fraud in American history. And a traitor to boot.

This ‘Democracy Thing’ Is Waaaaaaay Harder Than It Looks

We Americans have it in our heads that we are what “democracy” looks like. Democracy has news for us: no, we’re not.

If the bottommost line there is in what sets democracies apart from other forms of government is voting — by the total number of citizens legally qualified to vote — then, historically, America has shown poorly. According to Pew Research, as of 2016, Americans were toward the bottom of the list where participation in elections is concerned. Americans used to vote in very high numbers (as a percentage). Eighty percent of eligible voters voted in the 1836 election (the first post-Andrew Jackson one where his hand-picked successor and veep Martin Van Buren pulled out a victory over the (at that point) nascent Whig Party. Until 1900, at least 70% of eligible Americans voted in every presidential election and at least 60% of us voted in off year elections. And then, a great slide begins.

I’m making a guess here. A drop off in American interest in our democracy happening right as America becomes a world power (heading into World War I) occurs at the exact same time as the Ku Klux Klan is growing in popularity? It sure sounds like a big piece of the American electorate is staying home instead of voting. We know exactly “why” those newly empowered Americans chose not to use their new power as citizens. Racism has always been at the heart of voter suppression and Republican gerrymandering. One doesn’t have to say “Democratic voter suppression” to differentiate it from Republican voter suppression because (while Democrats have been guilty of gerrymandering to gain an advantage), Democrats have never tried to suppress Republican voters. It’s simply not how any (contemporary) Democratic voter thinks; in fact, it’s entirely antithetical to what makes a Democrat a Democrat. Democrats are entirely confident in the superiority of their ideas over anything any Republican is selling. This is why modern Democrats believe in elections.

On the chart below, that’s evidenced by the presidential elections of 1932 and 1936. Franklin Roosevelt first won election as POTUS in ’32 — as the Great Depression was settling in. In ’36, FDR holds steady as the intensely progressive New Deal produces results that put Americans back to work. Then the war happens and the Greatest Generation pulls together — as the data points show. Voting lulls as the war drags on, falls off considerably after the war ends but then bounces back in 1952 because who doesn’t “like Ike”? Actually, Adlai Stevenson (the Democrat who Eisenhower defeated twice) would have been an amazing president; America has issues with smart people however. America boomed in the 1950’s. We became the engine for the world’s economy (with a tax rate that had the richest paying considerably more than they pay now (even if no one ever actually paid 91% of their earnings above $200,000).

See that sudden uptick at the end of the data set? That’s 2016. The upward trend continued. over 168 million Americans voted in election 2020. Sure, more Trump voters voted, but way, waaaaaay more Democratic voters voted, too. That trend started (to our news media’s surprise) in election 2018 when the Democratically inclined began to realize the very real existential threat Trump posed to America.

Turns out Joni Mitchell was right in her song Big Yellow Taxi: “Oh, it always seems to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot”. America’s voters saw the Republican Party actively trying to take away their rights (to vote, to have an abortion, to breathe clean air) and responded in the only way they could: by showing up to vote the Republican bastards out. Ah, but Republicans don’t play by rules.

While America’s founders did fear someone power mad like Donald Trump would run for office, it didn’t occur to them that such a candidate’s power madness would be stroked by his political party. Then again, America’s founders didn’t count on there being political parties in America. Shit happens, ya know?

Organized human civilization began roughly eight thousand years ago — when we transitioned from being nomadic hunter-gatherers into farmers. Agriculture demands staying in one place in order to benefit from it. But, because this stationary place with its organized food production can feed more people than wandering in search of food can, villages and then towns and cities eventually grew nearby. And, once those human collectives became bigger than an extended tribe, as historian Yuval Harari points out in his brilliant book Sapiens, humans had no choice but to invent “governing”. At its core, government is simply an organizing principle by which large groups of humans can live together without killing each other. Who governs and who’s governed. That’s the bottommost line there is.

From eight thousand years ago until 1776, with a few exceptions, humans relied on the “divine right of kings” to govern how we governed. We got it into our heads that some of us were really and truly chosen by the divine to lead (and have most of the money). This is pure bamboozlement. No one’s blood is any better than anyone else’s. No tribe’s blood is superior. The only thing about which some humans can claim any sort of superiority is the pathogens lurking inside them. White Europeans were vectors for some extremely lethal pathogens — smallpox, bubonic plaguechickenpoxcholerathe common colddiphtheriainfluenzamalariameaslesscarlet feversexually transmitted diseases (with the possible exception of syphilis), typhoidtyphustuberculosis (although a form of this infection existed in South America prior to contact), and pertussis. Syphilis was the one pathogen Native Americans sent over to Europe. Europeans were especially driven by the divine right of kings because they tied their kings to their Christian faith.

But, the American experiment intrigued the Europeans. After all, we were simply the lab for an idea that the French Enlightenment had been kicking around. The idea of human beings governing themselves instead of being governed by “superiors” was radical. The big mistake the European men who founded America’s democratic government was in writing “All men are created equal” while meaning 1) only WHITE, Christian, land-owning men and 2) by meaning ONLY men. America is a fantastic idea as yet unrealized.

And that is because democracy is hard. Or, as Winston Churchill put it, “the worst form of government except for all the others”. It’s just how it is; democracy is the best of a really bad lot.

That’s WHY actually pulling off democracy is so challenging. Living in an authoritarian shithole, you can take life for granted: it’s going to suck and there’s nothing you can do about it except follow the rules, keep your nose clean and pray they never come for you. Democracy, by contrast, is a contact sport. It demands active engagement with it if it’s to work as designed. I like Australia’s approach (Australia’s participation rate is 91.89%!). Come election day in Australia, no one has to actually vote, but everyone must show up at their polling location. By law they have to show willingness to participate even if none of the candidates meet their needs.

Americans used to understand that freedom wasn’t “free”. Every one of its awesome benefits comes with a challenging obligation: you have to show up. For some people, apparently, even just that is a bridge too far.