The Earthquake Experience For Those Who’ve Never Had “The Pleasure”

In the 35 plus years I’ve lived in LA, I’ve experienced two major earthquakes, plenty of minor ones and who knows how many teeny-tiny ones too small to feel.

Last night’s 4.6 temblor, apparently, is related to the 1987 Whittier Narrows quake — my first Big Un. One’s first big quake is truly special. I think it imprints on you the way you’ll react to every other earthquake you feel. At the time, my wife and I were renting a little Spanish bungalow near the corner of La Brea and Santa Monica — WeHo Adjacent in current parlance. It really was special.

The house — two bedrooms, one bathroom — sat about forty yards from the street, behind lots of trees, its own off-the-street parking lot big enough for three cars, a high fence, more trees, a swimming pool and then a few more trees. If you didn’t know that bungalow was there, you’d never guess. It was very private. We threw many excellent naked pool parties there. It was a long time ago.

On the morning of the quake (October 1st), our German shepherd Sophie had the first inkling that something was about to happen. I was up, watching the news. Kent Shockneck was doing the local spot on KNBC when — at 7:42 — the 5.9 temblor hit.

The first thing that strikes you is the sound. It comes from beneath, filling the space with its unbelievable basso profundo. That’s this particular earthquake’s sound signature. The nature of the earthquake will determine the nature of the shaking (depending on the nature of the ground you’re on). The bungalow felt like it was undulating, like something beneath it was rolling and the house was rolling right along with it. As the house’s wood and stucco material vibrated and shifted, it, too, had a sound signature. THAT makes an impression on you. You suddenly realize the structure you’re in isn’t as solid as you think.

I pulled my groggy wife from our bed and, together we stood in the nearest doorway (which, in fact, would have been a useless doorway had the house actually come down on us). From there I could see out into the yard where Sophie, our dog, stood by the pool — watching the water lap violently over the sides.

Time gets strange during an earthquake. When they’re happening, they seem to last forever. Even if it’s only been a few seconds, you feel like it might never stop. Inside my head, two very distinct reactions took place simultaneously.

The first was an intellectual reaction — my head. Being as it was my first earthquake, I was something between a tourist and a guy gawking at a car wreck on the freeway. If you can put your fear aside for a moment and appreciate — intellectually — what’s happening all around you, it’s beyond cool. It’s pure nature. It’s pure plate tectonics doing a master class with you as one of the exhibits.

That’s where the second reaction — the animal one — takes over. That sound the earth is making is truly terrifying. Nothing else sounds like that. Thank goodness. There’s no place to run to, no place to hide where the sound — and the shaking — isn’t happening. And the shaking — you absolutely believe your house can fall down on you right then and there. Throw in the sound of stuff falling and breaking (our experience during the 1994 Northridge earthquake (a 6.7 that did considerably more damage than the Whittier Narrows quake).

As calm a museum-goer as your intellectual side may be in the midst of an earthquake, your animal side (if you’re like me) is galloping around, its hair on fire, screaming “We’re doomed!” That battle gets louder and louder inside your head the longer the shaking goes on. To be honest, the only earthquake where I felt a sense of mortal peril was a minor earthquake. It may even have been an aftershock from the Whittier Narrows quake.

I was temping for a financial company downtown in their highrise. I was on the 35th floor of a building with great views — because there was glass on every single side. When the earth quakes, these tall buildings are designed to dissipate the quake’s energy by literally bending slightly. That bit of to-and-fro will save the building. Now, if you’re INSIDE a building when that’s happening, you may be able to intellectualize that that’s what’s happening all around you — a good thing — but it doesn’t feel like a good thing. As the building lurches from side to side, the same motion that’s helpfully dissipating all the energy also compels one’s body in the direction the building is shifting.

On the 35th floor, I felt like the building was pushing me toward the glass windows. That was scary.

Last night’s 4.6 wasn’t subtle. The house shook for a good four or five seconds. The earth had a sound signature and so did our rented 1902 Craftsman. “Just what we needed,” muttered my wife. It had been an awful day. On top of the pandemic shutdown and the wildfire smoke pushing everyone indoors, Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died. The implications were/are staggering.

And then the earth shook.

Our cats pretty much took the quake in stride (though one, Daisy, was a little needy for the first 20 minutes afterwards). Little or no damage has been reported as of now.

As earthquakes go, last night was a minor event. The one that happened earlier — when RBG passed away — that was the real earthquake. Maybe the Earth itself was sympathizing for a change.

Breaking News: Trump HAS Been Working On A Health Plan: It’s called “TrumpCare PICK-AN-ORGAN”

Finally – a health “care” plan that thinks like Donald Trump does — and “takes care” of people the same way.

The problem with normal health insurance is you end up paying to insure stuff that probably didn’t need insuring. Take your gall bladder. What are the odds that’s going to go bad on you. Hell, you probably don’t even know what your gall bladder does. So, how could you miss it?

With “Trump-Care ‘PICK-AN-ORGAN”, you’re in “full control” of which organs you insure and which you’re willing to gamble on. C’mon — when was the last time you gave a crap about your spleen? Hey — better question: when was the last time your spleen gave a crap about you?

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Who wants to pay for health care YOU won’t ever get — or “might not” ever need?  Only a schmuck pays for other peoples’ healthcare, amiright?

Think of it THIS WAY:  You have lots of organs.  What are the chances any will ‘go south’ on you during your lifetime?  Your lungs?  Probably not — unless you smoke.  Your kidneys — You have two — you’re playing with house money.  Your heart?  Well, okay — that one could be a problem but at TrumpCare, we assume you don’t have a heart so what are we even talking about?

The point is, Trumpanistas are too smart to INSURE organs they don’t need to — or are worth the risk NOT to insure.  And that’s why they (and everyone! will love “TrumpCare PICK-AN-ORGAN”!

LUNGS

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Odds are nothing will happen to either of em.  But you want to play it safe — so we offer options to allow YOU to decide:  Insure Neither Lung, One Lung or Both Lungs!

See?  Easy!  Now, of course, the trick is, if you insure just one?  Ya better hope like hell you insured the correct Lung — the one that’s gonna be needing insurance…

LET’S TALK INTESTINES!

human-intestines-sciepro

If you’re like the average Joe, you have LOTS of this stuff inside ya.  You have intestines to spare.  In fact, you have so much intestine you even have two kinds (I know — weird, huh?)   But do you really need to insure both?  Do you really need to insure ‘ALL’ of it?

And what about your APPENDIX?  You don’t even use it — hell you haven’t used it in millions of years.  Only an idiot insures something he can’t use — amiright?

I KNOW THAT’S MY LIVER BUT WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ‘GREEN’ THING?

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The Truth is — Outside of your heart and lungs, your stomach and your anus, you haven’t a clue how any of your plumbing works.  You know you HAVE a Liver and you remember somebody lecturing you once about alcoholism while you were passed out in a drunken stupor but that was so long ago.

Be that as it may — This is probably you:  “What in hell’s name is that green thing — and please don’t say I have one…!”

Yeah, you have one all right — and it costs a BOMB to insure it — IF you insure it…

YOUR SPLEEN — 1-2-3-ANSWER QUICKLY:  ‘WHAT’S IT DO?‘

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Not a goddamned clue, amiright (and “The spleen ‘spleens’ ain’t it”)?

Here – we’ll even show you a spleen and point out all its bits.  Does THAT help?  No?

And you want to insure this WHY?

AND THEN THERE’S THIS ORGAN…

cerebro-humano

Insuring brains is expensive.  In fact, it’s SO expensive, you’d have to be crazy to pay the freight.  So why bother.

TrumpCare ‘PICK-AN-ORGAN’: ‘Hey — look at all the money YOU just saved!’

I Grew Up In The Shadow Of The Holocaust And I Feel That Shadow Growing

According to Donald Trump, “Jews” are a “nationality”. That’s not the first time a country’s leader has started down that road. Throughout most of Europe’s history, Jews were kept apart. In Venice, Italy, they put them on their own little islands and called that area — where the Jews lived — “ghetto”. That’s where the word comes from.

Historically, when people see Jews as a “nationality”, it doesn’t end well for us.

I was born in 1959, 14 years after the Nazi concentration camps were liberated then grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore. Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish that “clever people” called it “Kikesville” instead. My public high school was so predominantly Jewish that even the non-Jewish kids took the Jewish holidays off — cos they knew NOTHING was happening in school those days since 90% of the students would be gone.

You might think growing up in a place so culturally Jewish would shield one from the Holocaust’s awfulness. You might think such an awful memory — so close in our rear view mirror — would have horrified my community into a stone cold refusal to discuss it.

We went completely in the other direction. I wouldn’t say we “embraced” the Holocaust so much as we “owned it”. The end of WWII — the end of the Holocaust — didn’t end anti-Semitism the same way the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t actually end slavery.

As my community tends to do, we turned what happened to us into a teachable moment. There were some essential lessons still to be learned. There’s a famous photo of a group of Jews being rounded up in the Warsaw Ghetto by the occupying Nazis –

From the first time I saw the photo, I became that boy in the lower right. I bet a lot of Jews my age did.  We saw and felt that boy’s terror, his helplessness.  His confusion: how can they be doing this to you just because you were born Jewish?  You’ve done nothing wrong to anyone on the planet – yet the planet wants you dead. 

“Never Again” became as integral a part of my “religious education” as chanting the ‘Shema’.  The past hurt.  That was not going to be our future. 

In our guts, my community has always known this was lurking somewhere in the American Character. Turns out, the Nazis were admirers of how racists in America codified and amplified their racism. The Nazi’s method of industrialized murder found significant inspiration in America’s brand of Christo-fascism: slavery

You can’t cram peoples’ heads with tons of bullshit and not expect the bullshit to screw them up. Bullshit always screws people up – cos it’s bullshit. When you cram nonsensical, logic-free, hateful mythology into peoples’ heads, it screws them up. It’s worse when the logic-free, hateful mythology also runs counter to your religion’s core message (and its core messenger).

It sucks being despised because of a total fiction. It sucks worse being killed over it. But that’s what’s coming to America: death & destruction because bullshit.

In fact, “death & destruction because bullshit” is Trump’s entire re-election strategy.

Scrunch Or Fold: How You Wipe Your Ass Is Who You Are

Back (about 25 years ago) when my good friend Johnny used to do stand-up, he had a great bit where he’d ask his audience if they scrunched up the toilet paper or folded it neatly before wiping. His point — how you wiped your ass said a “shitload” about who you were.

It was a hilarious bit. I’ve started to wonder suddenly if my friend Johnny wasn’t on to something.

Personally, I’m a fold guy. Scrunching the paper is too much of a “crap shoot” if you know what I mean. I won’t go into the details of “how” I fold — some secrets must die with me — but I know this: Johnny’s right. Me folding my TP — and the way I do it — reflects my inner psychology perfectly.

Being a storyteller, I need craft order out of chaos. Scrunched TP is chaos. Worse, it’s chaos in a place where I really don’t want chaos. There’s a “dark side of the moon” quality to this part of one’s toilet habits. A touch of blind guys trying to make sense of an elephant.

Beginning, middle, end. That’s how my mind works. The thought of all that formless, undisciplined, unscrunched paper horrifies me. I want to look into the eyes of scrunchers and ask what they’re thinking. Surely they don’t think they’re being more efficient! Is it that they trust their hands to “see” what to avoid or do they just not care?

I want to know that they wash their hands even more thoroughly.

I bet Donald Trump scrunches. In fact, I’m certain of it. A mind as disorganized and chaotic as his couldn’t possibly fold. It requires too much attention to detail. Hell, it requires too much attention from a guy who’s never paid any to anything.

The current state of America reflects (what I’d call) a scruncher’s touch.

We’ve wasted a ton of paper but there’s still shit everywhere — not just in and around our ass but all over our hands now and the toilet and the walls. The whole house is caked in shit in fact. Donald’s gonna be right for once — it will take multiple flushes to make this mess go away.

We don’t need to know whether Joe Biden folds or scrunches. But, I bet we’ll be able to make a good, educated guess based on how he governs.

There’s A Huge Difference Between Skepticism & Cynicism; Here’s Why That Matters

At the same moment a skeptic and a cynic cock their eyebrows in doubt, two very different things happen inside their heads.

The skeptic wants more evidence before passing judgment. The cynic has already made up his mind. In fact, his mind was made up at the start — and he already assumed the very worst. That means all the evidence that the skeptic finds important is meaningless to the cynic.

A skeptical voter wants to hear from both candidates. For them, the devil’s in the details — and so’s their vote. A cynical voter hasn’t read anything more than the headlines. Both sides do it so voting just contributes to the bad behavior. Cynical voters either don’t vote or vote against things, never “for”. It’s not like they have some vision they believe in. They’re empty and nihilistic. They couldn’t care less if the whole structure blew apart. It’s all the same to them.

In their defense, cynics aren’t necessarily responsible for their own cynicism. Plenty of cynical people became that way, acquiring their cynicism like a virus they picked up by going maskless at a Trump campaign rally. Their cynicism bled through their TV screens. A few may have picked it up through the newsprint they were reading. “Both sides do it” is as cynical as bullshit gets. It paints a picture with a brush so broad all one can see is the damned brush.

During Trump’s impeachment and Senate trial (hey, remember that — that Donald Trump was impeached and is the first POTUS ever to run for re-election AFTER BEING IMPEACHED?), our news media leaned heavily on comparisons between what was happening to Trump with what happened to Bill Clinton when he was impeached — for lying about a blow job. See the problem? Yeah, yeah, yeah — impeachment. Both stories have that in common.

But a blow job and acts that scream “TREASON” aren’t quite the same thing. That IS what Trump was impeached over — election fraud in league with a hostile foreign enemy. No blow job in the history of blow jobs could ever equal election fraud never mind treason. Yet, there was our news media essentially saying out loud that one impeachment was exactly equal to the other. They must be equal because “both sides do it”.

Excuse me for being skeptical.

When Republicans work to suppress Democratic voters (they never work to suppress their own of course — and Democrats NEVER work to suppress Republican voters because both sides don’t do that), they’re doing it for an entirely political reason: to get or hold onto power. There’s no policy basis for it. There’s no appealing to those voters as potential Republican voters. There’s the conclusion that those voters will vote against them and therefore they should not be allowed to vote. And if they DO vote, that vote should not be counted. When Democrats, by contrast, react to their votes and voters being suppressed, that is NOT them reacting politically. They’re reacting to their RIGHTS being violated — in other words, A CRIME.

But then our news media equates the vote suppressors (acting politically) with the vote “suppressees” (acting as the victims of a crime). It’s exactly like equating the victim of a mugging with the mugging. If you were there while the mugging was going on, it must be because you were “part of it”. “Both sides do it” understands — correctly — that both sides have a point of view. It misunderstands that a point of view isn’t necessarily legitimate. The bully and the bully’s victim have distinctly different points of view on their interaction. The bully cannot justify his — unless we see bullying and being its victim as equally justified and justifiable.

Remember back when America (and virtually nowhere else) debated the validity of climate science? America’s television news media would put a climate scientist (with facts and data at their fingertips) up against a climate denier (with nothing but their paid-for-by-polluters opinion). This, already, is not an equal fight. We’re pitting facts and reality up against bullshit.

These two people would share a screen split 50-50. In video vocabulary, a 50-50 screen says “these two points of view have equal value”. They could both be true — it’s up to the viewer to make up their mind. But that’s a false premise — because it’s not challenging the non-facts one side presents as legitimate argument. When the cameras roll, the climate scientist will have to spend valuable time trying to convince the TV audience that the bullshit they’re being forced to argue against is bullshit. Then, when the climate denier does the same thing — arguing that the facts are bullshit — the 50-50 of it all comes home to roost. A news show has given credence to nonsense.

A more accurate way to visually present the truth here would be to have the climate scientist filling 99% of the screen (relative to the value of the facts they brought to the studio) while the climate denier fills a few pixels up in the corner of the frame. The audio track would reflect the same balance. Result? We wouldn’t hear the climate denier’s voice — which is as it should be because they are lying and this is how we should think about the acceptable ratio of truth to lying in our discourse.

Cynicism is running rampant in America because, in large part, our news media is so cynical.

That doesn’t reflect reality and it doesn’t reflect who we really are as a nation. Not the majority of us. To be cynical is to think “Yeah, Mexicans ARE rapists”, women should be grabbed by their pussies, it’s okay if we canoodle with Putin and every other despot on earth, hundreds of thousands of Americans dead from the coronavirus is just “how it is”.

No, it isn’t.

If Trump’s Presidency Was The Direct Product Of Criminality & Treason, Then It Was Never A “Presidency” & Nothing It Did Can Stand

Check the law. I think this still applies in most of America. If a guy steals your car, gets caught in it, gets tried & convicted for stealing it — he doesn’t get to keep your car. If he hasn’t already chopped it up for parts, he gives it back.

Because it was never his.

Let’s put this in terms even Trump might comprehend. If the winner of a beauty pageant is found to have cheated, she doesn’t get to keep her crown. Same goes for all the other prizes that went with it. When we strip you of your “win” because you didn’t achieve it legitimately, you don’t get to keep any part of what the actual winner is entitled to.

The same goes for presidents.

As I’ve said here before, the rule of law did not let us down here. We (yet again) let IT down. That’s an important distinction. The rule of law is the only possible arbiter between us. It’s the only way that everyone gets treated equally and fairly. Its one real weakness is it can’t enforce itself. The rule of law relies entirely on us to do the heavy lifting.

It’s time we started building a little moral muscle mass. When we reassert the rule of law as our true guiding principle, the first thing the rule of law will demand we do is punish those who violated it — meaning those who broke it relentlessly during the period when we weren’t enforcing it. Meaning those who broke it with the intent of destroying it.

The rule of law will be clear-eyed. It will see how Donald Trump slowly corrupted the entire Republican Party. How Russia corrupted it. How greed and the fear of rapidly changing demographics corrupted their thinking — especially how their “money” thought.

Based entirely on what’s already been established via actual evidence (hell, just follow Cambridge Analytica’s trail!), we know that Russia hitched its wagon to Republicans and Republicans hitched their wagon to Russia. Money poured into GOP coffers from myriad directions — filtered through Russian emigrees living here whose retirement checks from Mother Russia suddenly doubled or tripled. Lots was laundered through the NRA. Some landed via totally legal PAC donations. Legal, that is, until we peel back the cover on them. If those donations are part of a larger crime? They’re not quite as “legal”.

Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy may have been surprised to learn there were two people Putin paid — Rohrbacher and Trump — just before he walked into that meeting of Republican muckety-mucks during the 2016 GOP convention. The response he got from then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan — “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here” suggests Paul Ryan wasn’t surprised.

He didn’t respond “What? Why do you say this, Kev’? What is that based on?” He didn’t frown and say “Geez, somebody get the FBI on the phone. We have a real problem here!”

No, Paul Ryan said “Let’s keep it secret”. It. The thing they all knew was illegal: the very presidential campaign they were all part of.

You don’t have to be a willing participant in treason to be a traitor. Knowing about it is where your problem begins. Suspecting it even. Having a vague suspicion even — and not doing anything. We have to ask “why?” Why did you say or do nothing?

Citizenship, as the rule of law will remind us, has benefits but obligations too. Voting, for instance. But also standing up for the rule of law — enforcing it ourselves as citizens by reporting gross violations when we see them. Don’t want to take your fears to the “proper authorities”? Fine. Take them to the news media. The Fourth Estate is the one job mentioned in the Constitution — as the final check on power. When we excise “both sides do it” from the journalism school curriculum, they too will begin to work as designed.

The news media, more than anyone, has perverted our thinking. In the same way that they accepted “Mexicans are rapists”, they accepted that cheating to win is just another way to win. Here we are — in a presidential race — where one of the candidates is the first sitting POTUS ever to run having been IMPEACHED. For cheating in the very election he’s running in. And the news media can’t seem to remember that fact. FFS, it should be the STARTING POINT for telling the election’s story: for the first time in history, one of the two candidates HAS BEEN IMPEACHED.

It’s not just weird that Trump’s impeachment has already faded into distant memory, it’s obscene.

Take Russia out of the equation entirely and Donald Trump doesn’t even run for president. Take Russia out of the Trump equation entirely and Trump lost everything years and years ago. He didn’t get rescued out of his bankrupted casinos. He doesn’t get an ounce of help from a single Russian mobster. He doesn’t find $55 million in his pocket (via a white elephant mansion in Florida), convinced it came from Putin directly. If Russia never sinks a kopek into Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump pisses away everything Fred Trump ever made. Donald Trump ends up broker than broke.

He certainly doesn’t get re-invented by Mark Burnett as some genius businessman. Even a bullshit artist like Burnett couldn’t re-invent the king of skid row as “the great negotiator”.

Everything about Trump, his life, his accomplishments — it’s all absolutely phony. That includes his presidency. Well, just like the car thief and beauty pageant cheater, Trump will not get to keep the stuff that came with his “win”.

He won’t get to be POTUS anymore for starters. But, more importantly, everything that happened during his presidency must now be seen through the lens of “Donald Trump never had the authority to do ______”. Remember — we’re not revoking Trump’s authority, we’re pointing out that he never had the authority to begin with. The authority to be POTUS flows from the Constitution and the rule of law. It flows, ultimately, from We The People — and this self-governing government of ours — warts and all. You cannot legally steal that authority. If you even attempt to steal it in any way, shape or form then whatever authority you acquire is not legally yours.

And whatever you did — while illegally having that authority — is just as illegal. It lacked the authority that was never legally given over.

It’s just a stone cold fact. A stolen presidency cannot and does not have the authority to do anything whatsoever. It can’t craft legislation for the Congress to consider (in its capacity as the executive). It can’t issue “executive orders” or decrees. It can’t nominate judges.

Judges, after all, are the whole point of the exercise. The Right Wing money saw demographic destruction in their future. A diversifying population — diversifying and progressive by nature — spelled the end of white hegemony. The RW money (the Kochs, the Mercers) got that except for outright theft, the executive branch was going to be forever Democratic. The House of Reps? Too untrustworthy to invest in (especially when you have to pony up every two years for re-elections vs four for a POTUS and six for a senator). The Senate seemed a better bet — especially with a master politician like Mitch McConnell.

Make no mistake: Mitch McConnell is one of the worst Americans ever. He’s corrupt to his bone marrow. He’s racist as hell, petty and treasonous. But he’s also skilled at the game of politics. The RW money spent wisely on Mitch McConnell. If anyone was corrupt enough to try and see their hijacking through, it was going to be Moscow Mitch.

But, Mitch, too, has Russian connections. Mitch has taken plenty of Russian money into his campaign coffers. He lifted the sanctions on Oleg Deripaska in order to get Deripaska’s $400 million for a Russian aluminum factory in Dirt Poor, KY. Those sanctions, BTW, were put there because Deripaska actively participated in Russia’s theft of the 2016 election result.

Just watch when Mitch finally gets put under oath, his teeny-tiny turtle testicles in a vice grip.

Just watch when every one of these treasonous bastards gets put under oath.

It will be hard for us — after that happens — after the full, terrible truth of what happened here gets fully outed. Most of it will especially after all the co-conspirators begin turning on each other, looking for a better deal.

Now, think about this — as the criminals who did this to us begin to point fingers at each other — describing grander and grander schemes to defraud us of the electoral outcome we ACTUALLY voted for? Do you really think we’ll be inclined to let these pirates keep what they stole from us — from our children and their future?

Not if I can help it they won’t.

Oh, The Irony — It Will Be Corrupt Conservatives Who Turn America Into A “Socialist Paradise”

The only thing that scares a conservative more than “socialism” (their idea of it anyway) is diversity. Oh, they’ll tolerate diversity in the business they own. At the end of the day, they’ll happily pay minimum wage to whomever. But will they tolerate diversity in their country club — or worse, their neighborhood?

Surely, you jest!

That Black family may be able to afford to live in the rich, white conservative’s gated community, but they were never supposed to be able to afford it. And that’s the point. Conservatism’s real mission is to keep everyone in their “proper” place in the pecking order — as it was in the 50’s — the 1850’s.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism — private ownership of the means of production — for profit. In theory, capitalism is color blind. The money doesn’t care who’s profiting from it. It turns toxic however when it becomes crony capitalism that excludes most everyone else from access to that money and the means of production. Crony capitalism is greed run amok. It moves capitalism from the “apolitical” pile to the “immoral” pile. Also — crony capitalists are distinctly political because politics are always required if the crony capitalists are going to hold onto the unchecked power that keeps crony capitalism afloat.

Slavery was the epitome of crony capitalism. It was immoral and highly political. Connect all the dots of conservatism and a picture of crony capitalism emerges. One hand needs to wash the other.

Donald Trump is the epitome of the crony capitalist. He epitomizes its deep down corruption. That’s conservatism’s real problem. We’ve now seen first hand what crony capitalism aspires to. It’s very, very good for a percentage of the 1%. It frankly sucks for pretty much everyone else.

The deep hole we’re in was dug by crony capitalists practicing crony capitalism. We can keep digging — that’s what crony capitalists would want us to do (instead of decking them and climbing out of that hole). It’s just a fact (we live inside the data set): no conservative solution to the mess conservatism caused exists. All conservatism can do now is make the hole bigger, deeper, danker.

America, we now realize, does not have a health CARE system, it has a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing. When people walk in our door, the first question we ask isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” No other industrialized, first world country has profit incentive at the heart of its health care system because health care and profit are mutually exclusive propositions.

A publicly traded company has a fiduciary responsibilities to its shareholders to maximize the returns they’ve made on their investment in said company. They care about profits not patients. Patients, remember, are cash out. The more an insurance company or for profit hospital spends on patient care, the less they’ll make in profits — and the less happy the board of directors and shareholders will be with them.

Any of us needing an expensive procedure to save our lives is going to have to be more worthwhile than the Maserati the insurance company’s chairman of the board has his jaundiced eye on. The coronavirus pandemic has made it crystal clear that we can only be as healthy as the least healthy among us. It only takes one person afraid to reveal their illness to set another pandemic off and running.

People unable to afford health care — unable to take the time off from work to seek the care — are perfectly primed to infect everyone and everyone they meet. And it’s not their fault. They’re being exploited. Universal single payer health CARE is coming to America.

There’s no stopping it now. There’ll be no stopping guaranteed public university education (or comparable technical training). Think of it as something we’d be doing for ourselves. I also believe public service is vital. Every high school graduate should owe a minimum of 18 months of public service. They can join the military, man polling stations, teach kids to read or get food to the hungry and homeless. They can use whatever their skill sets are to make their country a better place for all Americans.

We could even pay for medical school educations with one caveat. We The People will pay to make you a doctor — but you will have to invest some time in public health as the means to pay We The People back. You get, you give. Yeah — it’s socialized. But it’s still democratic.

Andrew Yang’s presidential run didn’t just put universal basic income on the table. The pandemic shutting down the world’s economies made UBI downright respectable. UBI became the only comprehensive way to keep the economy from completely tanking. All the data on UBI says the same thing — it improves peoples’ lives considerably. Rather than leaping at the first job offered because they’re desperate, people receiving UBI tend to wait for the right job to come along — the one that utilizes their skill sets best and makes them happiest. Being happy makes them more productive.

And the money people get via UBI? They don’t hoard it like a bank would. They spend it — on their rent, their utilities, their food and gym membership. They put that money right back into the economy. The taxes paid all down the line help cash flow the UBI all over again. The reason Republicans like Mitch McConnell despise UBI is because it proves them to be liars, pirates and thieves. It works while their policies don’t.

There will be no way out of this crashed economy except by progressive means. When we find ourselves eventually on the upside of this tragedy, progressive policies like universal single payer health care and UBI will have been mainstreamed. Not only will they NOT have brought down Western Civilization, they will have actually benefited more Americans.

I look forward to toasting all my conservative “friends” one day. As awful as many (not all) have been in this period, it will be conservatism as a whole that finally brought America to its senses — by making America a democratic socialist paradise. Let’s be real. Even if we never made it to “paradise”? Whatever progressives do will be a thousand times better and more popular than anything Donald Trump might ever do.

There’s A Great Moral Reckoning Coming — And I Can’t Hardly Wait!

It’s not a matter of “if”. It’s a matter of “when”: a Great Moral Reckoning is coming — and the entire Republican Party is going to hate it.

Good.

Remember back to election night 2016? Remember how the evening began to feel — especially when it became apparent that Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin were landing in the Trump column? It didn’t feel like we’d “lost”. It felt distinctly like something was “taken”. It wasn’t our expectations that were dashed — it was our sense of fairness. The Comey Letter plus Russian disinformation — landing as they did WHILE EARLY VOTING WAS HAPPENING — had a profound effect on the election’s outcome.

In the end, of course, the Comey Letter was bullshit. The investigation wasn’t being re-opened; the files in question were all old. Several “rogue agents” in the FBI’s NYC bureau — all fans of the Breitbart published book Clinton Cash — had dragged their heels for months, refusing to examine the files on Anthony Weiner’s computer. They deliberately waited until October — just so they could get the news media buzzing again about “her emails”. Of course, that was after a whole campaign season filled with cynicism, lies and the news media insisting that both sides were “doing it”.

No, both sides were not committing treason to win the election.

America has been due a Great Moral Reckoning since its inception. “All men are created equal” and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. There are no compromises between the two. It’s a tug of war where only one side can win. Up until today, Slavery has continued to pin “All men are created equal” to the mat. That is finally changing.

The Electoral College is a vestige of slavery. It’s been a long time since a Republican became president because he won the popular vote. They now rely on the Electoral College to keep them — a minority — in power. They rely on a relic of slavery to keep slavery alive.

The Republicans have always portrayed themselves as the “moral party” — pointing to their piety as proof. Their piety is horse shit. So’s their “morality”.

The irony? The “moral party” — especially its religious wing — are the ones who most fear a Great Moral Reckoning. That’s because they’ll have the most to lose from it.

America must finally confront the racism that we built into our democracy. We have to own it. Slavery is, above all, stolen labor. That’s the whole point of having a slave: they work for you for free. You may have to house them and clothe them and feed them — so they’ll be able to work for you whenever you need them — but you don’t have to house, clothe or feed them well. The point is you’re not paying them — and that means you’re saving a fortune entirely at their expense.

Stolen labor is theft. It undermines not just the people whose labor is being stolen but all labor — because when it goes unpunished (as it almost always does), it encourages more stolen labor. I shouldn’t have to say this: stolen labor is immoral. To benefit from stolen labor is immoral. To profit from it — even more immoral.

Once we’ve owned our thievery, we can begin to fix the future. We can change our emphasis from making the rich richer to raising all boats. Real morality flows from equality. What’s moral is what’s most equal and what benefits the most people without harming anyone.

America’s women — especially Black women — are already driving us away from corruption and toward the “come to Jesus” moment we desperately need. When this is all done and dusted, America will owe its Black women more than a “thank you”. We’ll owe Black men, too. But Black women will have been made to bear the additional burden of sexism. We’ll owe Black women our deep, abiding, permanent respect — which we owed them all along.

Despite this country treating Black women callously in every way, Black women have kept the flame of American democratic principles alive. Though they’ve never benefited from the level playing field promised in our foundational documents — Life, Liberty, The Pursuit Of Happiness — they’ve demonstrated via their tenacity how the rest of us should feel about our democracy. Black women got it a long, long time ago. So did Black men of course. America’s founding ideals are worth fighting and dying for.

Note: while it’s understandable we might have to fight outside forces from time to time to protect our democratic principles, we should NEVER have to fight inside forces.

While one side perpetually plays the moral indignation card, it’s the other side that perpetually feels actual moral indignation — because of the first side’s relentless immorality. Our news media fails to see it because they’re convinced “both sides do it” while, in point of fact, both sides don’t.

Both sides don’t suppress the other side’s voters, for example. Both sides don’t commit treason in order to win elections. Both sides don’t relentlessly obstruct oversight or election security. One side does this — and for specific (political) reasons. How, I wonder, will our news media explain itself when we come to the understanding that, no, Donald Trump did not “win” election in 2016, he STOLE the election. Cheating to win does not equal winning. It can NEVER equal winning.

That’s something our news media will have to learn the hard way — via its own Great Moral Reckoning.

A Call For Moral Journalism

It is immoral to equate Truth with bullshit. Yet that is what the bulk of our news media does every day. They equate the stone cold facts of what Donald Trump has done and is doing to our democracy with the utter bullshit of his denials.

This morning, Trump’s White House is trying to contain a PR disaster. The Atlantic reported that multiple sources say Trump has called our military “losers” whose willingness to put their lives on the line to defend the country he finds unfathomable. The reporting is solid, multi-sourced.

These are facts therefore.

But, on MSNBC, their White House stenographer, Kelly O’Donnell reported that Trump vigorously denied saying any such thing.

What are we, the news audience, to make of this? On the one hand — solid reporting of a newsworthy transgression by a president dedicated to committing transgressions. That’s also a president newsworthy because he lies about literally everything. On the other hand? Kelly O’Donnell insisting that Trump says it isn’t so. Zero context from Kelly about, you know, all the other stuff the rest of us know already.

Kelly O’Donnell wants us to accept what she’s telling us as truth — or a possible truth — that Donald Trump never said what all those witnesses said he said. In the face of the Truth, Kelly O’ wants us to believe that bullshit could still be true.

NBC News’ White House Reporter Kelly O’Donnell. A nice enough person no doubt, but an immoral journalist.

That is immoral. And that is the problem with far too much American journalism.

When we finally begin to put what’s left of America back together again, we need to launch an investigation into who or what started “both sides do it” journalism.

Trump couldn’t have done what he did to the country without the full-on complicity of nearly the entire Republican Party. And the GOP couldn’t have done what it did — allow Trump to take America to the brink of catastrophe — without the news media cutting them all the slack they needed to drive us here.

It’s understood that covering Trump is unlike covering anyone else. He’s deeply sociopathic, a narcissist’s narcissist, incapable of any sort of self analysis. He’s utterly shameless. And willfully cruel — even to his own family. He says anything that comes to his mind, no matter how outrageous and untrue. But then, none of that is a secret.

The press has reported it since he slithered down that golden escalator into the lobby of Trump Tower and insisted that “Mexicans are rapists”.

That, of course, is not true. Virtually nothing Trump says about himself is true — except perhaps that he has a thing for young girls. And his own daughter.

Trump wasn’t “kidding” when he said that, by the way. Trump can’t kid. He can’t joke about things because he has no sense of humor. When Trump does “make jokes”, he’s not actually “making jokes” — he’s bullying. The tell whether you have a sense of humor or not is “can you laugh at yourself?” If the answer is no — as it absolutely is with Trump — you have no sense of humor.

It is a false narrative to ever say Trump is joking therefore. But then, Trump is a collection of false narratives and, for some reason, our news media prefers false narratives to real, verifiable ones.

“Donald Trump, Successful Businessman” is verifiably untrue. Yet our news media chose to accept that false narrative without checking it out. Checking it out would have meant acting like a news organization and doing some scut work. Kind of like how Fusion GPS did after the republican-owned, Jeb Bush supporting Washington Free Beacon hired them to do oppo research on Donald Trump. Fusion was co-founded by two former Wall Street Journal reporters.

When he was hauled before the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017 — by Republicans desperate to undermine the integrity of the Steele Dossier — Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson testified that the first thing Fusion did upon being hired was their due diligence. They got their hands on every piece of publicly available material about Donald Trump. They haunted Amazon and physical book stores. They got ahold of magazine stories, videos, audio recordings. Everything Trump said in a public environment, everything anyone wrote about him.

What Fusion saw, Simpson testified, convinced them that Trump had, at the very least, used his (now bankrupt) Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. To violate the law.

Worst of all — Fusion saw that Trump was deeply compromised in ways that made him vulnerable to Russia. No one with half a brain thinks Russia wants anything good for us. Matter of fact, we already know that Putin has drawn up plans for cyber war against us. Gosh, if all the journalists working the Trump beat had been aggregating everything they know (from their own reporting) about Trump, he’d already by in federal prison.

We know Trump violates the rule of law and the Constitution because we’re watching him do it — in real time! It’s not as if finding Trump’s criminality requires much heavy lifting. FFS, just quote the guy and you’ve got him nailed. When journalists go deep into Trump, they always come up with treasure. The deeper they go, the more valuable the treasure. And yet, they demur… It boggles the mind.

It makes one wonder — why do they refuse to tell Trump’s story? Is it fear of losing access? Trump needs the press way more than the press needs Trump. He knows he can’t rely exclusively on Fox to spread his toxic messaging. That means the press doesn’t have to let Trump frame his story his way. THEY should never have let him do it to begin with. But, going forward, the news media could absolutely frame Trump correctly — based solely on the collective reporting of the American news media.

It’s baffling why a guy like Seth Abramson doesn’t get more news media attention. He’s the ultimate aggregator of the story the news media itself is trying to tell. If only they’d look at the perspective they themselves have created about Trump. Our starting point, every day wouldn’t be “Trump, the normal POTUS, running a normal re-election campaign”, it’d be “Trump, the corrupt, soulless, criminal, impeached president who committed treason to steal his first term in office and now wants to keep committing treason in order to remain in power forever because the moment he stops being POTUS, he’ll be indicted and sued out the wazoo”. That should be where all reporting about Trump BEGINS.

So — how does our news media heal itself?

First, it must open its eyes and truly look at itself. Regardless of whether “both sides do it” infected them in journalism school or later via contact with infected journalists, all journalists need to disavow “both sides do it”. They need to atone for equating skepticism — that thing all journalists are supposed to have in their tool kit — with cynicism. Cynicism assumes that everyone’s a rat bastard who deserves what they get.

That’s bullshit. Not everyone is motivated by self-interest. To brush everyone that way is despicable. Worse, it’s immoral.

Worst of all? It ain’t journalism — not the way journalism needs to be practiced going forward. From here on out, American journalism needs to stop equating political neutrality with neutrality. No one can remain neutral in the face of evil — even at its most banal. If, say, a reporter knows someone is doing something terrible in real time, they are obligated to stop it from happening if they at all possibly can.

Not as a journalist, AS A HUMAN BEING.

Journalists need to remember who and what they are first — before they take on the mantle of “reporter”. They’re humans living amongst other humans in (we hope) a civil society. They need to follow those rules first.

They’re also Americans — whose interests, while diverse, also hew to a particular set of rules. Citizenship doesn’t just come with benefits — voting, an American passport (for what that’s worth these days) — also it comes with responsibilities. Voting. But also an obligation to stand up for the rule of law. It can’t stand up for itself, you see.

We The People need to be the rule of law’s guardian. We need to defend it because that’s what our whole system of government is based on: a mutual understanding of the rules that keep us from killing each other. Journalists aren’t just another segment of We The People — which they are part of — they’re also charged with being the last check on power. That’s what it says in the Constitution; journalists are the only actual “job” enumerated in the Constitution. Journalists have a double obligation. But then, they chose journalism as much as it probably chose them.

Because we failed to prosecute or enforce the rule of law equally, the rule of law seems to have broken down. It hasn’t. We’re the thing that’s broken down. The moment we go back to enforcing the rule of law (this time properly)? It will begin to work for us. So long as we don’t extend any special treatment to anyone, just by enforcing the rule of law again, we’ll feel our sails begin to fill with forward momentum toward justice. If we can get there, not only will we fulfill our mutual obligation to give every single one of us the same chance to achieve our maximum potential, we’ll have helped America achieve the potential it aspired to back at its founding — minus all that white, Christian, European male Chauvinism that hogged all that potential for itself.

A Great Moral Reckoning is coming to America. It sure would be nice to see our news media actually riding that wave — atop its crest even. The way they’re going right now, they’ll be watching it from the shore.