Hi — I’m Mike Pence’s Vibrating Butt Plug And I Have A Story To Tell…

Want the inside dirt on Mike Pence? Come talk to the “guy” who’s “been there”. What will Mike Pence do in the waning days of the Trump presidency? Will he be made POTUS at the last second to give Donald Trump the pardon he’s too afraid to give himself? Will Mike become the GOP’s “standard-bearer” instead of Trump? Will Mike even have a future? It’s not a revelation that Donald Trump is a gold-plated fraud. It shouldn’t be a revelation that Mike Pence is equally fraudulent. Quick reminder: it was PAUL MANAFORT who brought Mike Pence to the table in 2016 and pitched him as the best possible veep for Trump. Paul-freakin’-MANAFORT.

Manafort, remember, then Trump’s campaign manager, was actively engaged in a treasonous criminal enterprise; he was trying to make things right with Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch and former employer to whom Manafort owed upwards of $17 million. The last thing on earth Paul Manafort would have wanted in a vice president was a choir boy who’d rat them all out the second he learned how deeply the whole Trump campaign was “indebted” to Russia. Manafort suggested Mike Pence because Manafort KNEW with absolute certainty that Mike would never betray them.

Manafort had to have known that Pence either was 1) already compromised or 2) easily compromised. Make no mistake about it: Mike Pence is as dirty as any and every other Republican.

If the Trump White House is a Rogue’s Gallery, VP Mike Pence is the Elmer Gantry character — without any of the charm or self-awareness of what a damnable con he really is. I dare you to conjure the words “hypocrite” or “sanctimonious shit” and NOT think of Mike Pence almost immediately.

There’s a way of speaking Evangelicals take on — PreacherSpeak, ya could call it. It’s got an oiliness to it — a big bright squirt of emotion but no substance beneath it so the emotion feels staged and phony. There’s a sing-songiness to it also — to distract, I suppose, from the complete & total lack of substance. And the compete & total lack of logic. It’s a vocal delivery that surfs giant waves of hubris and self-satisfaction like Kelly Slater. And if it needs to bring on the tears? Wait, wait — is that Noah I see, building another boat?

That voice sounds like this (I enter, as evidence, Pence’s speech at the 2016 Republican Convention — a classic in the annals of complete & utter bullshit). In fact, Mike took sanctimony to bold new heights in this speech. It’s still feeling puke-y and vertiginous from being up so high.

Now, to be fair to Mike (as much as it pains me), I don’t know for a fact that Mike Pence is a closeted gay man. I’ve known many over my life. It’s not fun being them. They shouldn’t have to be “them”. Everyone should be free to express what their biochemistry makes them feel.

Religious faith and science are mutually exclusive propositions. That’s not true of spirituality, mind you. One can be spiritual and scientific without any conflicts. But religious? No. Religion seeks to codify spirituality. It wants to take something ethereal and highly personal and encase it in concrete — like a church or an institution.

One could, in fact, follow Jesus on a spiritual level (by doing unto others) while ignoring all the church’s dogmatism, mythmaking and ooga-booga. I’ve pointed out in other posts here how Jesus preached against the need for a “church”. THAT was his radical idea; “Do unto others” is an essential Jewish teaching; all Jews are obligated to make the world a better place — it’s part of our “creed”. Jesus taught you don’t need a temple (or a church) to “Do unto others”, you can do that all by yourself.

Accordingly, another big part of Jesus’ message was “speak directly to God, the father”. In other words, you don’t need the corrupt priests or their corrupt temple interceding on your behalf”. Because they’re corrupt. But then, Jesus never imagined such a thing as a “Christian church”. He never “imagined” Christianity. Paul did that. Paul was the one who, taking his version of Jesus out to the gentiles (who had no idea who Jesus really was or even if he really was), invented The Early Church by establishing a series of nascent Christian communities throughout Asia Minor.

The bulk of the NT is Paul writing to those far flung communities as he invents what we now call “Christianity”.

Mike Pence is a church-goer but he ain’t going there for Jesus. FFS, the last thing Mike Pence wants to do is “DO” unto others. Nope. Mike sees religion as a way to turn others into him. Like a god. The kind who says “Do what I say OR ELSE“.

That’s the dirty, dirty secret about the extremely religious — about every single televangelist — about Mike Pence himself. They all think THEY are “god”. Not “a” god — “God”. They may tell you that “God” speaks through them — they’re lying. No one or nothing is speaking through them. The “god” you hear spewing from their mouth parts is them, all them and nothing but them.

What makes these “gods” so much worse is that they’re all so screamingly ignorant. Why can’t these “gods” have a little knowledge in their pockets to go along with the sanctimony & judginess? I guess that would be too much to ask of men for whom sanctimony & judginess are their principle skill sets.

If you’ve never heard Mike Pence On Evolution — you kinda owe it to yourself. You should know how “god” “thinks”.

“Both Sides Do It” Journalism Is Immoral; It Needs To STOP

I just watched morning host Cris Jansing — while interviewing fellow host Joe Scarborough about his Harry Truman bio — ask if Joe DiGenova (one of Donald Trump’s LAWYERS!) suggesting execution for people with whom they disagree politically was just “some strategy”. The obvious answer is “No, of COURSE that’s not just “some strategy”. Wanting to execute people with whom you disagree is monstrous. It’s evil and indefensible. Yet Chris Jansing called it a “strategy”. What if executing political foes WAS a Trumpian strategy? What would Chris Jansing call it then? What would Chris call such an immoral strategy? Would she break down and call it “immoral”?

She should. But, the fact that we don’t know that she would? That’s as much a reflection on Chris as it is the school of journalism she practices: “Both Sides Do It”.

Journalists need skepticism in their tool belt. Too many think cynicism is just another brand of skepticism. It’s not. They’re two very different things. A skeptical journalist wants receipts for everything — or, hopefully, enough good circumstantial evidence that “equals” a receipt. A cynical journalist just flat out assumes the worst possible outcome because everyone’s a scumbag. End of story.

From that point of view, a thief is a thief is a thief no matter the scope of the thievery. Bernie Madoff stealing billions (albeit mostly from millionaires) is exactly the same as, say, Jean Valjean (the hero of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables) stealing bread to feed hungry people. A thief is a thief is a thief: both sides do it. Except, really, they don’t. Scale matters. Motivation matters. Patterns of behavior matter.

Yet something in “Both Sides Do It” can’t aggregate anything. While assuming the worst of people, it doesn’t aggregate the “worst” — the reasons for thinking the worst. So, if Donald Trump says “pussy grabbing” after insisting that “Mexicans are rapists”, “Both Sides Do It” journalism doesn’t add those two together. By the time Trump said “pussy grabbing”, most “Both Sides Do It” journalists had already forgotten “Mexicans are rapists” as if some “other” offensive candidate had said it.

That’s the normalization process at work. By the time Trump got to “pussy grabbing”, “Both Sides Do It” journalists had already normalized “Mexicans are rapists”. It was just something a “different kind of potus candidate” says. And, eventually — the kind of thing a different kind of potus says. To normalize evil is to be evil. That’s because evil never compromises with anyone. People always compromise with IT. And the moment you do? It’s “game over”. Evil just won.

Among “Both Sides Do It’s” worst offenders is NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell.

Kelly is an award-winning journalist. She’s respected by other journalists. That’s a problem. She’s not just terrible at her job, she’s immoral and every time she gets on camera, she spews immoral journalism at us. Kelly thinks her job is to faithfully report whatever Donald Trump or his administration says without editorializing. In “normal world”, reporting about a “normal administration”, that would be one thing. That has NEVER been the case here. Reporting lies you KNOW are lies without FIRST pointing out that they’re lies is journalistic malpractice at best.

Is there a line in the sand for Kelly? Is there something Trump might say that was so deliberately cruel and egregiously incorrect that even Kelly might hesitate before repeating it? For instance — what if Trump spewed “And, by the way — people tell me Kelly O’Donnell eats children for breakfast!”? Would Kelly O repeat the president’s words faithfully because, well, “they’re the president’s words”? Or would Kelly O FINALLY draw a line in the sand?

Would Kelly O think “Hey, wait a minute — I KNOW I don’t eat children for breakfast (too much cholesterol!)” Would she say to herself “If I repeat these words, people might think they’re true — that I really DO eat children for breakfast!”? Would she put her foot down finally and say “Mister President, NO! I refuse to repeat what you just said because it’s bullshit!”?

I wouldn’t hold my breath. I guess that makes me cynical where Kelly O is concerned.

Yeah, okay — ya got me. I have zero faith that reporters/hosts like Kelly O’Donnell or Chuck Todd or John King or Wolf Blitzer or Andrea Mitchell or Alex Witt or Kris Jansen will ever bring enough perspective with them to work each day to evolve. Even as the Chuck Todd’s shake their heads in consternation, unable to fathom why Trump or Republicans do the seemingly inexplicable things they do, they’re looking for ways Democrats do the exact same things.

Except Democrats don’t do the exact same things. If Democrats did the exact same things as Republicans, they’d BE Republicans. We don’t. We never have. We’re still every bit the same group of whom Will Rogers said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. Diversity doesn’t not march in lock step. It does the opposite; that’s its strength. “E Pluribus Unum” — out of many, one — preaches the opposite of “Both Sides Do It”. There are no “both sides”. There’s OUR side. The American side.

We are engaged in a Great Moral Struggle. The American People didn’t just “vote Trump out of office”, we repudiated him. More Americans voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris than have ever voted for any presidential ticket — and by a margin of over six million votes. As for Trump’s number, let’s stick a pin in it. As any journalist with an ounce of perspective would tell you, when Donald Trump complains about something, whining about it relentlessly, pay attention to it: he’s projecting his guilt. If Trump’s accusing Democrats of voter machine fraud, it’s because HE’S COMMITTING IT HIMSELF.

As I wrote here, when you “own” the machines, when you have full backdoor access to them, when you your political interests are tied in to one of the two parties whose elections you’re always tallying — and your business is completely unregulated — it offers opportunities to the less scrupulous. People avoiding transparency (could Diebold and ESS — who make the majority of American voting machines — have tried any harder to resist hand-marked paper ballots for security reasons?) shouldn’t be given a pass just because they’re white, Christian guys running a business. But “Both Sides Do It” journalism refuses to aggregate or judge a story. They get the pass every stinking time.

One could probably count the number of times on one hand that ANY American broadcast journalist or news show host reminded their audience before a segment that Donald Trump was the FIRST POTUS EVER to run for re-election HAVING BEEN IMPEACHED for CHEATING in the very election he was now running in. It’s never happened before. It’s truly extraordinary.

And yet — it never even made it INTO most news stories about the election. Both sides DON’T get impeached for cheating in elections. Both sides don’t get impeached over blow jobs either but that’s a whole other story.

I have to wonder. If we transported the bulk of American journalists from today back to Germany in 1931, how would they “represent”? Would they sniff out Hitler for the monster he was? Or would they “Both Sides Do It”? Would Hitler’s authoritarian violence just be the “Both Sides Do It” counter to those pesky communists protesting? People did see Hitler for who and what he was. Just not enough people in the right places.

That’s what makes “Both Sides Do It” journalism so dangerous to our democracy. Its lack of perspective isn’t just a character flaw, it’s a fatal one. It TURNS political behavior INTO innocuous behavior when Republicans suppress Democratic voters and turns a victim reporting a crime into political behavior when Democrats react to having their votes suppressed. When journalists refuse to judge these acts — and call them what they are up front — crime and crime victim become one and the same thing.

Both sides do NOT do it. They never have. They never will.

Racists Don’t Get To Decide “If” They’re Racists And Illegitimate Politicians Don’t Get To Claim They’re “Legitimate”

Racism, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It’s not for the racist to say whether or not he’s racist — how the hell would he know if he’s racist or not? He hasn’t the perspective; that’s why it’s up to the racist’s victim — the person the racist behaved in a racist way toward — to say whether or not racism occurred. They get to say “That was racist!” or it wasn’t. The same goes for political legitimacy. You can claim it — but it’s not yours to bestow.

The Washington Post is reporting that even now, Donald Trump weeps to himself “I won, I won, I won” like the dumbest kid on a losing peewee soccer team. It doesn’t turn the losing peewee soccer team into winners either. This time, we were clever enough to vote in numbers so large they outpaced Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s blatant attempts to steal the result from the majority as they did in 2016. Or — alternative theory: did the Republicans willfully use the voting machines to pad their totals in key Senate and House races (easy enough to do, hard to catch if you don’t compare all the numbers to see the anomalies) but not in the presidential race?

Think of it from Moscow Mitch McConnell’s point of view. Having Trump around your neck is a burden-and-a-half. You’ve accomplished your mission: you’ve hijacked the federal judiciary with lifetime appointments that should set America back a generation while keeping most of the real power in America concentrated into the minority rule-ing hands of the Republicans. Who needs the daily tsoris (that’s the technical term) of Trump yanking everyone’s chain this way and that? While Mitch and the Republicans can’t betray Trump directly (he’s got too much hold over them, too much kompromat, I’m guessing, or too much knowledge of how deep their criminal complicity runs), the American People could — via an election — solve their problem FOR them.

As we just did.

Every single Republican knows that Joe Biden’s win was 100% legit. Every single Republican either knows or suspects that Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 WAS NOT. How could Trump’s win be “legit” if people like current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan suspected even before the GOP convention THAT DONALD TRUMP WAS DIRTY and likely taking money from Vladimir Putin. Putin — let’s remind the class — was actively engaged in a cyber war against us at that very moment.

From that moment on, not a single Republican could honestly say Donald Trump’s campaign was legitimate. They sure have worked hard, the Republicans, to keep Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia and Vlad Putin a secret. These aren’t things that make you go “Hmmmmm…”, these are things that make you go: “I get it”. But then, political legitimacy is not a thing you can claim for yourself. In a democratic republic like ours, legitimacy flows from We The People. We grant the legitimacy and authority required to govern us via our votes. If we do not or did not grant you such legitimacy? You do not have it.

If you STEAL an election result — as Donald Trump and the Republican Party did in 2016 — literally giving the majority of voters the diametric OPPOSITE of what they voted for — you cannot claim to govern legitimately. You can call yourself “the president” all you like. In point of fact, you are not the president. You’re using the power gained via your illegitimate power grab to call yourself “president” but the facts say something else. And the facts are about to land on your head.

The Republicans have done everything in their power to avoid oversight and use their offices to help Donald Trump undermine our democracy. Even now, the majority of Congressional Republicans have refused to acknowledge Joe Biden’s legitimacy — as if that would deny it to him. That, in poker, is called a tell. It’s the Republicans acknowledging very quietly that they know that THEY lack legitimacy.

But then, that’s so on-brand for Republicans — claiming to be one thing (patriots, say) while in fact being another (traitors).

That’s why traitors or criminals or Republicans don’t get to say whether or not they are patriots. That’s for others to say. If Republicans feel so compelled though to talk about themselves, there are plenty of things they could confess to. We The People will be happy to listen. But then, pirates like the Republican Party aren’t exactly down with contrition.

They’re not down with legitimacy either. It’s too hard. Requires too much work. Too much honesty and integrity. For criminals, it’s just easier to do whatever works — to put money that isn’t theirs into their pockets and power that isn’t theirs into their hands. Republicans are all children, their mouths crammed with cookies, a cookie in each hand, insisting that, no, they don’t know anything about any stolen cookies.

Then they puke up the whole jar.

It’s The Corruption, Stupid!

The “Ragin’ Cajun”, James Carville, coined “(It’s) The economy, stupid!” during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Why would people vote one way(for Bill Clinton) vs the other (for GW Bush)? Back then, in those heady, carefree days (relatively speaking), the economy was our biggest, baddest problem. Oh, the luxury of only having to deal with one mega-crisis at a time! Nowadays — in Donald Trump’s America, every day brings a whole new mega-crisis. Or it seems to. If we’d just pull the lens back as far as we can so we could see Donald Trump, the GOP, election 2016 and election 2020 with the widest possible perspective — we’d see that, really, just like in 1992, we’re only facing ONE mega-crisis: Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party was the GOP’s final and total surrender to the corruption that’s been stalking it… well, forever.

The Republican Party prides itself on being the Big Money Party. Anyone in class today who thinks money doesn’t corrupt? Anyone who doesn’t think that the more money there is the more likely corruption there is? Good. Everyone’s a realist then. That helps.

Politicians and the money that owns them rely on corruption to have their way because relying on the majority of voters to vote for their ideas is pointless. The majority of Americans want the OPPPOSITE of what corrupt Republicans want. That’s why the majority voted the way it did in 2016 and 2020. Let’s stop pretending that the Electoral College reflects anything other than how slavery would vote. In 2016, the Republican Party managed to use both slavery’s vote and a silent vote from Russia to overcome the majority’s will. When you factor in the fact that Russia is and has been waging CYBER WAR against us, you can only conclude that Republicans were SO desperate to win that they even resorted to TREASON.

We The People felt corruption’s grip on us the instant 2016 was called for Trump. Democrats felt (rightfully) cheated of the result THEY’D WON in 2000 when Antonin Scalia stepped in and STOPPED the vote counting in Florida, crafting a mountain of bullshit into an argument that completely contradicted the very originalism he’s been selling from the trunk of his car like hot merchandise. Bush v Gore is the picture portrait of bullshit. Al Gore didn’t concede because he thought he lost to W. He conceded for the good of the country.

In retrospect, OY!

Corruption got us again. It caused us to make a terrible decision; we chose appeasement. Compromise. But, while WE compromised with corruption, corruption did not compromise with us. It simply caused us to NORMALIZE that much more corruption. It caused us to grow that much more cynical about ourselves and our democracy. Want to know why so many Americans went into the streets the moment it became a fact that Joe Biden was President-Elect? Because we’re sick to death of Donald Trump and the corruption he imposed onto our lives.

Remember: we did not vote for Trump. We voted against him. We voted against what he’s doing to us, to our Allies, to the planet.

Our news media needs to stop framing the Donald Trump story from corruption’s point of view as if corruption was just “another way of doing business”. It’s only “another way” if we let it be. If we put our collective foot down every time corruption reared its ugly head, corruption would quickly learn — don’t rear your ugly head (it could get stepped on)! But, when you indulge the boy who cries wolf every time he falsely cries wolf (without ever making him pay a price for doing it), he will cry wolf every chance he gets. If our news media would stop giving credence to the boy crying wolf — if they’d see him for what he is (a fraud) — maybe they’d turn their attention to more important parts of the story.

Like the fact that he’s a traitor.

Conservatives vs Progressives Can Be Summed Up As “Me vs We”

Trumpism is conservatism on steroids (plus copious amounts of snorted powdered Adderall). If one had to sum up Trumpism in one word, it’d be “me”. “Me” is the one country Donald Trump has fealty toward. Well, “Me” and Vlad Putin. But that’s not ideological fealty. Trump isn’t loyal to Putin because he believes in “Putinism”. Rather, it’s the fealty that a crime boss (Putin) demands from his underlings and capos (Trump). “Me” is the core weakness Putin holds over Trump. Putin is exploiting Trump’s absolute adoration of “Me”, Trump’s willingness to indulge “Me”, make “Me” richer even if doing it is illegal or downright treasonous.

Trumpism = Me-ism. And now, so, too do Republicanism and conservatism.

To be fair to conservatives, they do come by their Me-ism honestly. That is, it’s completely organic to who they are. Conservatives love the Libertarian notion of the “rugged individualist” — that “I alone can fix it” guy. They all see themselves as “rugged individualists”. This dovetails nicely with the conservative, institutionalist idea of religion — a neat twist that turns “Do unto others” into “Do what we say or else”. Conservatives all claim to know God’s will better than you (so you better shut up!) That’s because conservatives don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God. So, how could anyone be the “boss of them”?

See how that works?

Conservatives, as their names says, want to conserve. Fair enough. The next logical question: WHAT do conservatives want to “conserve”? Since one can’t conserve the future (it doesn’t exist yet), one is left conserving the present which means conserving the past since that’s what the present reflects — what’s left of the past. THAT is what conservatives want desperately to conserve — as much of the past conserved in the present as possible. Why? Was the past better?

For them, yes. Yes, it was. In the past, conservative values (white, Christian, male) dominated all conversations. “All men are created equal” didn’t mean “all men”. It didn’t mean “all people” either.

For conservatives, the past was infinitely better than they fear the future might be. Which is why they resist change. And progress. Change and progress are antithetical to conservatives and conservatism. That’s not a rap or a judgment. It’s simply a fact. It’s part of the DNA of any conservative argument — resistance to change because of a preference for how it was before.

“How it was before” is a problem for Progressives because “how it was before” was racist, bigoted, misogynist and ignorant. And it’s entirely antithetical to democracy because the majority of Americans aren’t those things. We keep voting against those things but getting the opposite result. It’s like someone was constantly getting in the way of change — of the progress toward real fairness, real justice and a truly level playing field that the majority of Americans want.

Donald Trump pointed out a basic truth that every Republican knows: when more Americans vote, they vote against Republicans and for Democrats because they don’t want what Republicans are selling. Democracy is a marketplace of ideas. In the binary marketplace that is American Democracy, more Americans want to buy Progressive ideas than conservative ideas: a vigorous social safety net, socialized medical CARE (not insurance; insurance doesn’t provide care, it’s a payment mechanism for it) that won’t bankrupt a person (or their family) just because they got sick, UBI, a healthy climate, women’s and minority rights, full LGBTQ participation in American life, a clear separation between Church and State. As Trump put it, if every American voted, Republicans would never win another election.

Exactly so, Donald, exactly so. It’s a testament to how good most Americans are. We want our individual rights respected. But we also recognize that there will always be a dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. If not everyone in the “we” is getting the same “me” treatment? Then it’s like NONE of “we” is getting the “me” treatment. We can’t be truly free until we’re ALL free. Otherwise, we’re just pretending to be “free”.

Even the nature of our protests is different. Most Progressives protests were masked and, at least, had the pandemic’s toll and impact in its head.

Conservative protests?

They’re masked when they must be but you can see “You’re not the boss of me!” burning in their eyes. They’re armed to the teeth. They’re not there to protect anything — other than the scared little boy inside them. As Kyle Rittenhouse was shooting those two UNARMED protesters to death, was he striking blows for freedom? Or was he, down deep, saying “Eff you, man, you’re not taking away whatever it is that I’m so desperately afraid of losing!”

The reason most conservatives fear “we” is because it doesn’t look like them — or what they think “me” should look like: Northern European white people. Christian. Rich.

That’s what conservatives think “American Exceptionalism” is. Them. And their money. They couldn’t be more wrong. American Exceptionalism is spelled out in our motto: “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. Out of many, one. America is the product of diversity. That’s the “PLURIBUS”. The “UNUM” isn’t a bunch of unums making one giant “unum”, it’s an unum borne of the pluribus. “We” has always been essential to the American ideal.

Our mistake thus far has been that we’ve EXCLUDED so many Americans FROM that ideal. Good thing We The People stepped in at the very last second to pluck our democracy back from the selfish, greedy, corrupt conservatives who, frankly, never had much use for it anyway.

There will always be dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. That’s not a bad thing. It’s baked in to our experiment in human self-government. Our duty is to keep the tasting spoon handy. Don’t let the mix get TOO “we” (that will undermine the “me” and we don’t want to do that either).

Maybe we need to reframe our differences. Maybe conservatism isn’t the political opposite of progressivism. Maybe conservatism is an island unto itself. What if we think of “moderation” as the political opposite of progressivism. Rather than “forward v backwards”, what if we thought of the future in terms of “forward v forward with greater deliberation”? After all, whether we like it or not, the future is coming at us. We will face problems in the future that we haven’t even considered yet.

If we don’t anticipate them — by building the future into our plans — then we’ll be caught out when the future arrives. Kinda like the Trump White House prepared America for the pandemic.

See? We are living in a live “Me v We” test tube. “Me” thinking produces sickness and death. “We” thinking does not.

Like there’s really a choice here?

Dear Fellow Progressives: Please Take A Deep Breath — Time And Circumstance Are Now Entirely On Our Side

The moment Joe Biden started announcing cabinet choices, people on the winning side started sniping at each other, having immediately lost all perspective apparently. Perspective says this: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris whipped Donald Trump’s ass (Mike Pence doesn’t enter into it — nobody voted “for” Mike Pence except maybe Mike Pence). They beat them substantially with a coalition of voters covering everything from hard core Progressives like me to moderate (former) Republicans (everyone on the Lincoln Project for example). In politics, nothing is free. Ever.

Let me drop a word here: pragmatism. Have the vision. Keep the vision strong. But recognize that it’s still a process getting there. Obstacles remain. Problems will need to be solved. Emotional responses may feel good at first, but they’re unlikely to produce good, workable responses. And being slaves to theory — that, too, may feel good and justified but if you can’t get enough people to buy the theory, you won’t be getting there. One needs to 1) make the theory palatable (so understand who you’re selling to and how to sell to them), and 2) in the event you can’t sell the whole theory right this second? Go with the flow. Sell what you can today with the caveat that you’re coming back to finish the sale tomorrow. That’s pragmatism: sensible, realistic solutions based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Reality says there’s literally no conservative way out of this mess. It’s conservatism — its greed, it’s power lust — that put us here. They have no idea how to get us out of it. For starters, they don’t even want to. The majority of Americans now believe that without strong, continuing government assistance — cash infusions into their bank accounts — we’re toast. The reason Mitch McConnell and the RW Money stand steadfastly against giving suffering Americans a penny more than they have to is because if Americans saw how Universal Basic Income works (that’s what this government aid would amount to), they’d want it permanently.

That is, they’d understand that a supposedly “socialist” idea is actually just a productive use of THEIR TAX DOLLARS. Instead of using them to make rich guys richer, we’re using OUR TAX DOLLARS to help US. See how that works? That’s “socialism” in a nutshell.

And the RW Money machine is all about transferring the wealth of ordinary Americans into THEIR already full pockets. If Americans realized how simple it was to take BACK the wealth already stolen from them — and then create structures that guarantee they hold onto that wealth (for instance — by NOT going bankrupt just because they or someone in their family got sick), don’t you think they’d demand it? Especially since the money in question IS THEIRS.

As in OURS.

The most important thing that happened — the only thing that really mattered — was putting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris into the White House. Forget, for a moment, everything else — the Republicans possibly holding onto the Senate, the loss of House seats (making the Democratic majority uncomfortably slim), the prospect of Trumpism enduring — and focus on one thing: having the executive branch in our grasp means having the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE in our grasp. It means the Department of Justice can now STOP being Trump’s consigliere and go back to being an actual Department of JUSTICE.

Joe Biden has said he wants to focus on healing the nation — as he should. He’s also said it won’t be up to him if a renewed, functional DoJ chooses to investigate anyone on Team Trump — or in the Republican Party. Of course Joe doesn’t want to see that. But, again, IT WON’T BE UP TO HIM. If you think the people in the DoJ who survived Trump won’t be out for blood? You’re not watching the same movie the rest of us are.

The second law ENFORCEMENT becomes the point of the DoJ, they’ll go at both the crimes Trump committed BEFORE he was POTUS and the crimes he committed while he was POTUS. That’s not speculation. Neal Katyal just said as much on Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline White House show. Imagine, for instance, if Sally Yates gets the top spot at Justice. Sally Yates was the person who ran around warning everyone about how dirty Michael Flynn was. How do you think Sally Yates views Trump pardoning Michael Flynn? Approvingly? Hell, no. She wants justice.

The drip-drip-drip of info coming from inside the White House is going to become a cascade the closer we get to Trump’s official sell-by date. And the instant everyone realizes that they have nothing to fear from any NDA they signed because Trump insisted? They’ll be no turning off the spigot. We are about to be deluged with even more detail about just how big a corrupt traitor Trump has been. Donald Trump is never going to have a “good day” for the rest of his stinking, corrupt, treasonous life.

Once the DoJ starts prosecuting Trump, other shoes will drop. Before too long, the DoJ will reinstate every single criminal investigation that Bill Barr hampered or kneecapped. The FBI will finally begin the counter-intelligence investigation that never happened (because Rod Rosenstein prevented it from happening). The SDNY and the Manhattan DA will expand their investigations not only into Trump but into his children. Without the cushy bubble of the presidency to spare him, Trump will quickly roll up into a bloated orange ball.

The prosecutions won’t just impact Trump and his crime family; they’ll; quickly draw the entire Republican Party into the conversation. If you think Republican corruption makes us feel sick now, just wait till we get the full draught of Republican criminal behaviors.

Six months from now, we won’t think of Republicans the way we do today. We’ll think of them as a bunch of criminals facing increased scrutiny. Guys like Devin Nunes, Ron Johnson and Kevin McCarthy — once placed under oath and grilled Benghazi style — will all become the picture definition of “soft, white underbelly”. Mitch McConnell? If he’s the Senate Majority Leader, he’s going to have legal problems to deal with; screwing with the Biden-Harris agenda won’t be quite as important to him as not dying in federal prison.

The biggest thing to impact how time and circumstance will strengthen the hands of Progressives is the pandemic. We’re about to get hammered. But the winter’s death toll will be placed in Donald Trump’s column not Joe Biden’s. When Spring comes — and the dying slows — and one or more vaccines have begun to circulate and we all feel a sense of order where previously there was chaos — that contrast will play as a victory for Team Biden-Harris. Competence will make for good marketing.

The pressure on Mitch and the Republicans to let Americans have their own tax dollars to keep from starving or becoming homeless will only increase — especially as more Americans starve and face homelessness because Republicans refuse to budge. As we learn more and more about Republican criminality — this won’t be defensible for them. Under assault from all sides, more and more Republicans will fold up their tents.

Universal Basic Income, health CARE (not health INSURANCE) and a paid-for public university college education or comparable job training for those who prefer that are not radical ideas anymore. The only “socialism” that’s been practiced in America has been corporate socialism. Socialism for the rich.

We Progressives deserve to have our vision put front and center. It’s the vision America has been heading toward for a generation at least. Circumstances in the form of a pathogen have flipped the world on its head. Just as the Black Death altered life in Medieval Europe — putting an end to feudalism as a social and economic system — so, too, will COVID-19 end how we do things and start something new.

It’s hard to trust that events will happen the way we think they will. It was inevitable that Trump and the Republicans would fail. There’s simply too many of us and not nearly enough of them to pull this off. One thing we CAN do to help ourselves feel less squirrely as events unfold (albeit too slowly for our liking) is to stop being cynical. When we assume the worst will happen regardless of what we do, we surrender the future to the bad guys. A better answer when shitheads do shitty things? Reply “no”. “No, you are not doing that.” Or “No, you are not getting away with that.” or “No, an immoral shit like you doesn’t deserve to walk around free with the rest of us.”

Remember — it’s part of the Trumpian dynamic to instill panic. But, if the panic is purely an invention then it would behoove us to ignore it and focus instead on the entirely real. Now’s a good time to take another deep breath.

And another. We beat him. We beat them. They know it — that’s why they’re fighting so hard to stop what’s coming next. You see, they know what’s coming. That’s how guilty minds work.

Quick Reminder — The GOP Knew During The 2016 Convention That Donald Trump Was Owned By Russia; They Kept It A Secret

This is from the Washington Post, May 17, 2017: “A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.” What current GOP Leader McCarthy said was “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — one of the fellow GOP leaders present “…instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.””

The Republican family behaved exactly like a mafia family. It was all about protecting “la cosa nostra” — this thing of ours.

I’m curious. Has ANY member of the American press corps EVER asked Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan or anyone who was in that room what they were thinking? Has any reporter or journalist stuck a microphone in their faces and asked “Why didn’t you call the FBI if you thought that?” Or “Why didn’t you call the FBI if you even SUSPECTED it?”

That was their obligation — to tell something. To DO something. Because they had more an an inkling that their presidential nominee was corrupt to his bone marrow. And not just corrupt — TREASONOUSLY corrupt. Perhaps Paul Ryan’s response — let’s keep it a secret — had more to do with all the Russian money they ALL had taken on the down low. Pull a thread on Trump’s Russian dalliance, you might as well pull threads on every one of their dalliances — and there were plenty.

As documented as the Republican knowledge that Trump was dirty is the knowledge that Putin had contemplated cyber war against us for years. Cyber war (or asymmetrical warfare if you prefer) is as much a war as an old fashioned “bombs ‘n bullets” war. If the Russians shut down our power grid today, we’d have to sue for peace tomorrow — on their terms. Hell, the Russians placed themselves inside the Oval Office without firing a shot. On a cost basis alone, Russia’s cyber war against us has been the greatest military victory of all time.

How much money flowed to Republican campaign coffers via the NRA? How much flowed via Russian emigrees whose Russian government pensions suddenly rose from enough money to live on to enough money to cash flow a political campaign? How many Russian contacts did the Trump campaign have — and how many have they worked overtime to hide from us? And why?

Our news media, incapable of aggregating the Donald Trump story, forgot apparently that Donald Trump was the first president EVER to run for re-election having BEEN IMPEACHED for CHEATING in the very election he was running in! And the cheating he was impeached over? It was a replay of the exact kind of “foreign government involvement” in our election as in the 2016 election. Even back in 2016, our news media couldn’t grasp how to report on Trump. They thought “but her emails” was far more important than “Mexicans are rapists”, “Pussy grabbing” and “What’s wrong with making nice to Vladimir Putin?”

It boggles the mind that journalists — still unable to tell the 2016 election story — would be just fine with Democrats “forgiving and forgetting” should the moderates somehow convince everyone else that letting criminals get away with the highest crime against We The People — stealing our votes and the intended political outcome our votes demanded — won’t have permanent, negative consequences. “Both sides do it” journalism has convinced journalists that they can never “judge” anything. Moral v immoral behavior — it’s not for them to say. The president only behaves treasonously in the minds of Democrats. And their accusation is purely political.

Oy.

This happened. This photo. At Helsinki. Way more than a thousand words are being spoken here.

I’m old enough to remember when lunatics like me would get rolled eyes from fellow progressives when we’d utter the word “treason” in reference to Trump. Now it’s part of the landscape. It should be a featured part of the landscape — the fact that the sitting POTUS is a stone cold traitor. It should also be part of the landscape that the entire Republican Party — everyone who’s known or suspected anything nefarious since 2016 — also are traitors. It kinda matters in a cyber war.

And an election.

America’s News Media Has Confused Being “Skeptical” (What They Should Be) With Being “Cynical” (What They Are)

Skepticism and cynicism are not the same thing. Don’t believe me — look em up. If I was being skeptical, I’d want to see proof of something before going along with it. If I was being cynical though? I wouldn’t care about any proof because I’ve already assumed the worst. A pox on everybody’s house — “both sides do it”. If I was cynical, I wouldn’t need proof that “both sides do it”. And if there was any sort of “proof”, it wouldn’t need to be equally distributed; most on one side and a little on the other is the same as fifty-fifty; it’s still a matter of “both sides do it”!

“Back that up or it’s bullshit!” would be a perfectly legitimate response to a politician saying something for which he has zero receipts. It’s appropriately skeptical. Are you telling the truth? Okay — prove it. By contrast, asking someone a “But, what if bullshit is true?” type questions — that’s not being skeptical at all. “What if bullshit were true?” is the quintessential cynical question.

The only place where bullshit can be true is in a completely cynical world. It can be true, it can be untrue, it doesn’t matter. The ending has already been decided. Everything sucks and there’ll be no changing it; we might as well all fold up our tents and go home. Seeing the world cynically means seeing the very worst in people no matter what. Even if they prove their worth, the cynical have an explanation ready to go. They’re not what they seem. Nothing is so don’t trust it. Assume the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.

You might not be disappointed, but you’ll never be happy either. And you’ll never see the truth or be able to discern it. There’s really no advantage to becoming cynical — unless you want to end your days living in a police state where survival is what matters. Cynicism assumes that the bad guy will get away with it in the end — that, on some level, everyone’s a bad guy, so what difference does it make who wins? Everyone’s motives are suspect. Everyone has a political agenda — even if they don’t think so.

That’s rubbish. It’s stupid too. And offensive.

When a Republican suppresses a Democratic voter, the Republican is doing it for an entirely political reason: to win an election so as to put the power of government into his hands and not the Democrat’s hands. When the voter whose vote is being suppressed raises their hand to complain about what the Republican is doing to them? They’re NOT being political. They’re the victim of a crime. One of their rights has been taken from them and that needs to be addressed. Not for political reasons but for reasons of justice and free and fair elections.

If the news media had taken a more skeptical approach to Donald Trump than the cynical approach they took, things might have turned out better for them. They would have demanded to know WHY Trump thought “Mexicans are rapists” before moving on to “pussy-grabbing”. And a skeptical press would never have been content to let that slide. A skeptical (rather than a cynical) press would have handled “But her emails” a lot better. Rather than cynically assuming the worst about Hillary Clinton, the press would have taken a more moderated, evidence-based approach. They would have concluded – as they did – that there was no “there” there.

If you want to see rock solid journalistic skepticism hard at work, watch Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline Whitehouse on MSNBC. Watch Rachel Maddow and JoyAnn Reid. Watch Ali Velshi and Chris Matthews. Watch Lawrence O’Donnell.

If you want to see empty-headed cynicism, watch Chuck Todd. Chuck is the “dean” of “both sides do it” journalism. He has zero intellectual curiosity. Zero perspective. Zero critical thinking skill.

We’ve survived Trumpism. A rejuvenated Department of Justice is going to make the next few years a rolling smorgasboord of corruption prosecution. There’ll always be a dozen or so pots on the boil with a few more waiting in the wings. From the second he stops being POTUS, Trump will have legal problems that no amount of bullshit pardons can assuage. He’s not running in 2024. The only running Trump will do between now and then is, maybe, a run for the border. I suggest slashing the tires on the Trump jet to prevent that from happening.

The Donald Trump Players Presents “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” — Starring Real Life Crazy People

Even crappy reality shows like Donald Trump presidency live and die on the success of their casting choices. And no one has been more “sensitive” to how important casting is to the success of his reality show than Donald Trump. Trump knows that it takes a criminal to play a criminal; actors can only ever pretend. That’s why Trump casts his family, his “friends”, his cronies, the people under his thumb. He knows they know how to “be” corrupt and treasonous without having to pretend. And when it comes to crazy people? Well, you HAVE TO BE crazy to support Donald Trump.

Crazy or corrupt. And both demand a deep dedication to authenticity to effectively pull them off. Good thing Trump’s rolodex is chock-a-block with both crazy AND corrupt.

With that dedication to authenticity in mind — and with little else to do during the transition except make the bad situation he created for America even worse — Team Trump has staged their own production of Ken Kesey’s classic “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. Because crazy people love crazy people.

First up — the lead — Randall P. McMurphy — the character inhabited by Jack Nicholson (rather than the other way around)…

Since he “alone can fix it” (having broken it irreparably first), Trump has taken the star role for himself. Thing is, Trump will get bored and lose focus about ten seconds after the curtain goes up. Just to get through the table read, we’re going to need a few “back up” McMurphy’s. Good thing that pantry is stocked to its rafters.

Also in the running for McMurphy (in no particular order) —

James Woods as McMurphy…

Or, Jon Voight as McMurphy…

Or Dennis Quaid as McMurphy…

Now, I know there are some who’d think “No, wait — if we want crazy playing crazy then the crazy brother is RANDY QUAID…

Ah, but here’s where Trump’s genius for keeping us on our toes comes into play. Randy Quaid gets cast as BILLY BIBBET (played by the excellent Brad Dourif in the feature)!

Same kind of “stunt casting” goes for the role of Chief Bromden (Will Sampson in the movie) —

This is a radical departure. In fact, it’s nuts. That’s why it works! Gary Busey plays the Chief!

The rest of the crazies on the ward —

— will be played by a rotating cast of has-beens, never-wassers and talentless fellow travelers — Stephen Baldwin, Stacey Dash and Anthony Sabato, Jr…

That leaves one actor as yet uncast (Scott Baio) and one part uncast.

For Nurse Ratched —

— think KIRSTIE ALLEY!
And, last — and very definitely least — there’s the “incomparable” SCOTT BAIO.
Ummmmmm, Scott? Since you never did have the acting chops (Joanie may have loved Chachi but one thing Chachi didn’t love was knowing how to act), we won’t be taxing you now. But, we do have a piece of wardrobe ready for ya…
And scene!

In A Negotiation, All The Power Lies In “No” As In “NO, Donald Trump, You AREN’T POTUS Anymore Cos We FIRED YOU

Democrats are, historically, poor negotiators because they’re too willing to compromise. They ache to use the word “yes”. Republicans, OTOH, are good negotiators — not because they’re good at negotiating (they’re not), but because there’s one word in their vocabulary that’s not in the Democrats’: “NO”. The Republicans are perfectly happy to say “no” and refuse to budge regardless of the pain it causes or even how it undercuts their own best interests. Republicans think they’re being Machiavellian. They’re not. They’re being assholes. It’s not the same thing.

Take Mitch McConnell. Is Mitch a great negotiator? No — he’s a guy good at saying “No.” It doesn’t make him a great negotiator because he gets what he wants while all the Democrats around him don’t — especially when you consider what Mitch wants and what the rest of America isn’t getting. We The People are the point of the exercise in self-government. Mitch is always negotiating against us — using our needs (and the urgency of those needs) as a tool. Again — in the context of a government of the people, by the people and for the people — that makes Mitch a pirate, not a deal-maker.

Donald Trump — also a terrible, terrible negotiator. Has anyone had more tells in the whole history of terrible negotiating?

Trump’s one reliable tool — the only tool on his belt: the word “no”. “No, America isn’t a democracy anymore”… “No, America isn’t going to be the greatest experiment in human self-government ever anymore”… “No, America isn’t going to be a place anybody except white, Christian, racist bigots wants to live in anymore”.

Or, to put it the way Trump’s used to hearing it: “Nyet”.

The news media definitely doesn’t understand the concept of saying “no”. That’s why Trump has all the power in his relationship with the press while they have literally none. Like a belligerent five year old who refuses to climb out of his car seat, Trump is holding us up while all we want to do is go back inside our house. Meanwhile, traffic behind us is backing up. Horns are blaring. Tempers and temperatures are spiking.

Now that Trump has no more cards to play — he will no longer be POTUS come none Eastern time January 20, 2021 — the only play left is to toss the cards in the air, rip them up as they land and then, on the way out of the room, turn over the whole card table. Trump has no choice but to take this train to the end of the line. The moment he stops being president, his legal troubles will begin in earnest. So too will legal issues begin to haunt every single Republican. See something, say something. See something, say nothing?

That’s the glaring issue facing the GOP: they’ve known since the get-go that Trump had an unnatural relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said so out loud during the 2016 Republican convention when he walked into a room of Republican muckety-mucks and said “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Good citizenship would have demanded that someone in the room get the FBI on their cell phone to report what they just heard. No one did. Instead, as then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan put it, we “…keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

If Paul Ryan had been an honest man, if the Republicans had been an honest political party, no one in that meeting would have thought such a thing. But they aren’t so they didn’t. The Republicans surrendered the power in their relationship with Trump a long, long time ago.

The press did, too. They surrendered the power of “no” when they stopped asking Trump what he meant by “Mexicans are rapists”. Had the news media dug in its heels right then and there — and said “NO, WAIT!” and then refused to follow Trump (into “pussy grabbing”) — then THEY might have gained the power of “no”.

Americans need to learn this valuable lesson from the Republicans. Yes, we all want to and need to get along together. But compromising with the very people who have betrayed you is a fool’s errand. That’s why Republicans never do it. They may be ignorant, deranged and dangerous but they’re not fools.

We The People have got to stop negotiating with Trump — especially when it’s not even a genuine negotiation. It’s a hostage-taking which means we only ever wind up negotiating with ourselves. The last person we ever want to negotiate with is ourselves.

We don’t need to negotiate with Trump anymore. We fired him. By a lot. It’s over.

The correct answer therefore to literally anything Trump does or says about staying in power a second longer than necessary is “what are you even talking about, old man? NO”.

Remember this look on Moscow Mitch’s Treason Turtle face when the late Senator John McCain stuck a shiv in him when he thought he had Obamacare defeated?

That’s Mitch reacting in real time — with actual human emotions — to having the word “no” shoved down his throat. Let’s promise ourselves to make Mitch revisit that moment repeatedly throughout the rest of his treasonous life. Every time Mitch dreams of being a free man again? “NO, Mitch, NO.”

Trump loves saying “You’re fired” because it’s the ultimate “no”: “no, you don’t work here anymore”.

Hey, Don-Don, this is America speaking: “You’re fired. YOU DON’T WORK HERE ANYMORE”. Wow… saying “no” to Donald Trump could be habit forming. That’s a habit I’ll gladly take up.