In The Midst Of The Coronavirus Crisis, A Reminder: Donald Trump & The GOP Are STILL All TRAITORS

I’m old enough to remember how quickly our Main Stream News Media got over their jaw-on-the-floor outrage at Donald Trump’s “Mexicans are rapists” announcement (on Day One of his presidential campaign no less). Yes, they shrugged off Trump’s racism because “Pussy Grabbing” was now part of our political discussion, but by shrugging off one outrage to go be outraged by another, the press established a behavior pattern they haven’t changed since.

After three years of hopping blithely from one Trump-created crisis to another, the American press is now stuck on how poorly Trump is responding to a pandemic he did everything he humanly could to UNprepare us for. They keep waiting for Trump to “pivot” in some fashion. Then, it was toward being “presidential”. Now, it’s toward pulling the trigger on the Defense Production Act which would give Trump the power to order factories to produce the ventilators and masks we need right this second.

Trump won’t do it because Jared Kushner is whispering in his ears (America’s “captains of industry apparently whispering into his) that nationalizing industry would be bad for business — and piss off the captains of industry Trump’s relying on to get re-elected It always comes down to bullshit and self-service in Trump world. It always comes down to corruption.

Despite the fact that for a week now, Trump has gotten up in front of the American People in a time of crisis and lied to us, CNN, MSNBC & big chunks of the news media still insist on broadcasting Trump’s daily coronavirus updates as “news” instead of the “campaign rallies” they actually are. Even as their studio hosts (now broadcasting from their homes mostly) rage at the fusillade of lies, even as every expert with an ounce of actual expertise points at how insanely dangerous Trump is being, even as Trump accuses the reporters spaced around the WH Briefing Room of being liars and haters, the news networks STILL not only broadcast Trump’s lies live, they can’t seem to find it in themselves to stand up FOR EACH OTHER.

Why are they not either 1) demanding that Trump answer questions (and refuse to let him move on without answering) or 2) broadcasting these bullshit sessions on tape delay so that every bit of Trump’s misinformation, disinformation & outright bullshit can be fact checked BEFORE it goes out over the air. Apparently it’s a thing — once bullshit sets in peoples’ minds? It’s damned hard to root it out. That Trump’s approval ratings is up a few ticks reflects the press’s inability to report even the most blatant example of Trump’s inability to carry out his duties — never mind the eight thousand pound gorilla that’s drooling over everything: the fact that Trump is a traitor.

Our crisis has been made exponentially worse BECAUSE Donald Trump is POTUS — and the only reason Trump is POTUS is because Russia MADE him POTUS.

Russia was able to MAKE Trump POTUS because Russia had compromised nearly the entire Republican Party — (illegally) pouring money into their campaign coffers, creating Kompromat on them (think that doesn’t explain Lindsey Graham?) and who knows what else? Trump took a sledgehammer to our government (my bet) in large part at Putin’s instigation. It benefits Putin & only Putin every time America loses the ability to take care of itself and tend to its place in the world — as the counter balance to horrible actors like Vladimir Putin.

Just as Moscow Mitch McConnell hijacked the judicary, Bill Barr hijacked the Department of Justice. The point of the exercise — permanent minority rule.

America is sicker than ever — not just because of the coronavirus but because white power is trying to keep its hooks in us forever.

While compromising with these traitors will, unfortunately, be necessitated by the enormity of the crisis overwhelming us, we must remember: when the Rule Of Law becomes “a thing” again here in America, it will DEMAND that we turn our eye on these here times because illegal behavior of any kind must be prosecuted and, if found guilty, punished.

Trump’s coronavirus betrayals are just extensions of all his Russia betrayals. The bottom line will not change: we are living in war time — not just against the coronavirus — but against Russia. We’ve GOT to keep our eye on that ball despite getting hammered by a nasty pathogen.

Coronavirus Throws A Monkey Wrench Into The GOP’s Soft Coup D’Etat

The Trump Era keeps proving — it’s hard to keep your eye on the ball when there are fifty balls flying at you. Trump’s coronavirus response has been everything you’d expect it to be — a chaotic, self-centered act of corruption. It’s been such a massive failure that it’s even managed to make everyone forget this essential fact: Donald Trump is a traitor who would not be POTUS if not for Russia MAKING him POTUS.

Imagine losing sight of that fact — but we have. The press — even with Trump lying daily about pretty much everything — they’ve reverted to treating Trump as a legitimate president whose every utterance about the crisis they must cover. The hue and cry to stop covering Trump’s daily campaign rallies has come from all over. it’s a puzzlement why MSNBC & CNN can’t treat it the way they treat Trump’s impromptu WH lawn news pressers. They regularly put some lag time between Trump lying and their broadcasts of his lies. Occasionally they even contextualize Trump’s bullshit — imagine!

I’ve written here often how I think we got here — not so much the coronavirus crisis (though it’s intimately connected) as the underlying political crisis that comes from having the intelligence asset of a hostile foreign government running OUR government. Hillary Clinton did not “lose” election 2016, the correct result was stolen from We The People — which would have made HRC POTUS.

The leadership of the Republican Party has always known what’s going on here. Kevin McCarthy “knew” back when he told a meeting of the Republican Party’s muckety-mucks during the 2016 GOP convention: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan — third most powerful politician in the country — told now GOP leader McCarthy: “Let’s keep that ‘in the family’.”

“In the family” — like a bunch of stinking mafioso.

The GOP’s extreme deference to Trump is way beyond tribalism. It’s criminal conspiracy to commit election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason. That’s why the Republicans can’t stop this train from going off the cliff. The instant Trump stops being president, shit will get real for Trump and everyone sporting that “R” next to their names.

Whether he likes it or not — whether he knows it or not — on January 20, 2021 regardless of whether Trump cancels the election — his term expires. So does Mike Pence’s. On that day, if no election has happened, the presidency will default to the third in line — the Speaker of the House. It is now and will be then Nancy Pelosi.

This is why Mitch McConnell is begging every older conservative judge to retire now. Mitch hopes like hell that the old rules — the ones he violated regularly — will hold and his corrupt hijacking of the judiciary will stand. Mitch is going to be sorely disappointed. I’m with former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner (his Twitter feed is here): when this is all done & said, we must address the fact that everything that flowed from election 2016 — every bit of Republican legislation & chaos, every American Enterprise Institute-approved lifetime judge named while President Obama was denied the appointments — must be considered in the light of treason — of the entire Republican Party knowingly conspiring with Russia to not only seize control of the government but to maintain that control forever: permanent minority rule.

Bill Barr has come damned close to corrupting the Department of Justice beyond repair. Mike Pompeo has nearly destroyed the Department of State. Mitch McConnell, of course, has broken the Senate — with the purpose of hijacking the judiciary for all time.

And then coronavirus screwed up their plans.

For starters, shutting down the govt has already made voting by mail for every American a very real possibility now. Coronavirus has pushed a lot of ideas into the foreground that have struggled for attention up till now. That horrifies Republicans more than anything. The economic chaos — lots of it exacerbated by the damage done by crony capitalism — can only be cured by progressive, social democracy type solutions.

When a version of universal basic income works in ways austerity never could (because it’s always austerity for everyone BUT the rich) — when everyone infected by the coronavirus or kovid-19 finds relief through our socialized medicine response (you won’t get billed for your care or bankrupted by it) — when more Americans realize that the whole point of government is to create an environment where as many people as possible have the education, training and opportunity they need to succeed, they’ll stop seeing it as “the enemy”. If Americans got things for their tax dollars that they could point at — like, say, good health CARE that can’t bankrupt them if they get sick — they’d stop seeing taxes as a black hole.

This is not to say the Republicans won’t still do everything they can to hold onto power. Consider their motivation. They know they could all end up like Paul Manafort — eating prison dinner every night. And Trump knows that the moment he stops being POTUS, he becomes private citizen Don Trump — an INDICTED co-conspirator to election fraud. He could well lose every building he owns to confiscation. Sad, no?

Make no mistake — Neither Trump nor the Republicans “won” election 2016. Without heavy cheating and Russian involvement there’s no way they win election 2020 either.

As of today, Vladimir Putin insists the Russia alone conquered coronavirus. Oh, the things authoritarian shitheads say out loud. That’s just not true — and regardless of what Putin allows the disease sweeping through Russia to be called (a rash of pneumonia), it will clear out people with brutal efficiency. If Russia were suddenly stricken and found itself consumed by not dying instead of poking around in our political system, what would Trump do then?

Imagine Trump & the GOP having to run a “fair” campaign. They couldn’t do it on principle.

Hey, Rand Paul — Thanks For Reminding Us — Libertarians Are Selfish Little Boys

In the Pantheon Of Bullshit, Libertarianism has its own vestibule.

This is from the Institute For Humane Studies at George Mason University:

“The libertarian perspective is that peace, prosperity, and social harmony are fostered by “as much liberty as possible” and “as little government as necessary.”

Or, put another way: “You’re not the boss of me”.

That’s really the libertarian philosophy — it’s how a little boy thinks. A selfish little boy. Rand Paul took a test for coronavirus last week. Something motivated him to take it. Fear perhaps? Regardless, Rand took the test but apparently assumed he’d test out negatively (in which case why would he have taken the test?). To his surprise, he tested positively for coronavirus.

But, while waiting the 24 – 48 hours needed to get those results back, Rand Paul did what any self-respecting libertarian would do — he acted selfishly. He went to the Senate gym and worked out then went for a swim in the Senate’s indoor pool. Spreading coronavirus wherever he went. And not giving so much as a shit while doing it.

If anything epitomizes libertarianism, that’s it.

There’s a reason most critics & academia as a whole turned its back on Ayn Rand — she’s as bad a writer as she is a philosopher. Atlas Shrugged & The Fountainhead are badly-written sentence after badly-written sentence amounting to twaddle so self-indulgent and puerile it should be laughable. And it is — except to the club of angry little boys who think Rand’s a genius.

Rand took herself very seriously as a philosopher. And while parts of her objectivist philosophy are indeed sensible, it’s sensible in the way a broken analog clock is right twice a day. For example — Rand “considered all knowledge to be based on sense perception”. That’s great — if your senses perceive everything. Too bad our senses don’t.

We don’t perceive every kind of light for instance which is why cosmic rays beyond sunshine are invisible to us. That doesn’t mean they aren’t there, it simply means we’re not equipped to see them. Our perceptions in other words are incomplete. Only an idiot — or a stupid little boy — would assume their perceptions WEREN’T incomplete.

As the coronavirus crisis is driving home to us — a successful human society depends far more on its ability to work together than it does on any “rugged individual”. Sure, sure — we need our rugged individuals to fill out the mix. But, actually, there’s no such thing as a “rugged individual”. That’s a characterization “rugged individuals” give to themselves. As in, “Hey, don’t you tell ME what to do, I’m a ‘rugged individualist’!”.

Don’t tell ME not to go outside my house when I want to. Don’t tell ME not to socialize in close proximity with my friends. Don’t tell ME not to go to the Senate gym & swimming pool even though I might be contagious with a deadly virus that’s sweeping the globe. What will Rand Paul say if he succumbs to the virus. Will his daddy insist that Rand’s death — like the virus itself — was just a hoax?

There’s a reason why most libertarians (aside from Ayn Rand) are men. Ayn must have had a selfish little boy’s brain chemistry. She thought in those terms & wrote in them. Laissez-faire capitalism is crony capitalism. It’s corruption. How can it not be?

It’s a philosophy only a selfish little boy — who’s also a bully — could love.

Since We Have Time On Our Hands, Let's Talk About The Best Main Stream Movie Sex Scenes — Here's MY Top Three…

If you don’t know what The Decameron is, look it up. It’s 14th century Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio‘s story of 10 Florentines quarantined during the Black Death at a luxurious villa (seven women, three men) who tell each other stories (100 in total) to fill the time. We’ll have a few Decamerons of our own when this is all done and said, no doubt.

Instead of a story, i’d like to compare notes with whoever reads this (if you have any notes you’d like to compare of course). Having written & produced a few film or TV sex scenes, I can tell you flat out — there’s nothing sexual about their production. It’s all choreographed.

For me, sex scenes will always be epitomized by the one I wrote/produced while doing Tale From The Crypt for HBO. Tobe Hooper directed the actors James Remar and Vanity in an episode called “Dead Wait”. Tobe imagined a cool sex scene to open the show (it runs while the opening credits run). The only problem — the shot was a “oner” — a single shot with no coverage (the other shots we use to put together a scene visually).

The shot depended on actor timing, camera timing and all sorts of hard to predict elements that made shooting it arduous. With 15 takes behind us and time running out, Tobe finally seemed to have the perfect take — and just as James Remar went to exit the frame — ending the shot — James Remar’s very erect pecker let up into the bottom of the shot, “ruining it”.

Nothing sexual had happened between the actors but it would have been super hard to be doing what those two actors had been doing — in the days before anyone thought about safe movie sex — and not get sexually aroused.

My list is short. As you can already see. Maybe it’s knowing what I know. I doubt that because these couple of sex scenes touch something that transcends the physicality of the love-making. They actually get to a place where, unfortunately, sex itself too rarely gets — the deeply human. The connection to both self and another that sex creates.

Number 1 (And There’s No Discussion To Be Had On The Subject): “Don’t Look Now”

For starters, Don’t Look Now is a great movie. It’s a great psychological thriller with an ending that — no spoilers here. It’s a gut punch and a great pay off.

Donald Sutherland & Julie Christie are a couple living in England with two young kids. He’s an art restorer about to begin a huge project in Venice, Italy, to repair a stained glass window in one of the city’s many basillicas when their 10 year old daughter dies, drowning in the pond on their property.

Picking up their story in Venice as the restoration to the stained glass window finally begins, we see them getting ready to go out to dinner one night, early in their stay. They’re still a couple in crisis, dealing with their own guilt. Director Nic Roeg (a director of photography by trade but an excellent “cutter” as well) intercuts the couple getting ready to go out for dinner that night (including brushing their teeth) with them making love, we get the feeling, for the very first time since “the accident”.

The intercutting of the mundane with the sex takes away all the glamour but leaves the emotional directness of it. The story has always been that Sutherland and Christie actually had sex on the set that day. Regardless of whether they actually did or didn’t, they achieved something harder actually — the feeling that they had. Call it acting. Call it filmmaking.

Call it “The Best Mainstream Movie Sex Scene Of Them All”.

What makes it even more astounding? It’s the only sex scene I can think of that features any level of intimacy between two married people.

Number 2 (And There’s Not Much Discussion Here Either): Desert Hearts (1985)

It’s 1959 and Vivien (the wonderful Helen Shaver — I’m biased; I’ve worked with her) has moved to a dude ranch outside of Reno, Nevada to establish residency. She wants a quickie divorce from her cheating husband. Cay (the equally wonderful Rebecca Charbonneau — I’m biased; I’ve worked with her, too) lives on the ranch. She’s a sexual free-spirit, bi-sexual but more inclined to women. She sets her sights on Vivien.

When they finally do consummate their affair, the more sexually comfortable Cay leads the way. The sex scene reflects both Cay’s wolfishness but also Vivien’s curiosity and uncertainty.

Director Donna Deitch, herself a gay woman, ” …raised the $1.5 million needed for the production budget with a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and sales of $15,000 shares to stock brokers and individual investors. The largest group of investors were lesbian and feminist women in several cities of the U.S., and the largest single investor was a gay man. She gave fundraising parties and published a regular newsletter to keep investors informed about the project’s development. Raising funds took almost four years. She eventually sold her house to cover completion costs.”

Deitch wanted to tell a mainstream story about characters that, up until then, rarely if ever got treated as “main stream”. She succeeds as do both actresses. The rest of the movie is just as good, by the way.

Number 3: There is No Number 3

You can Google “best movie sex scenes” and they’ll give you lists of 25… 50… 70. It’s filmed simulated sex — yes. But is it “good”? Let’s just say “it’s edible”. Consuming it won’t kill you. But it won’t make you happy either.

The reason these two films are on my list is because they both contain something elemental that is NOT on display in any other film that I’ve ever seen. But, hey — I’m here to be educated. And, turns out, I’ve got plenty of time.

Dear Broadcast Media: Stop Live-casting Trump's Coronavirus Updates RIGHT NOW! You're Aiding & Abetting His POWER GRAB!

Maybe this is another fatal flaw in “both sides do it” journalism. The problem with “neutrality” is that in refusing to judge anything (“just here to report the facts”), you end up giving everything you report equal weight. Because you won’t call out a lie, you give it equal validity with the Truth. How can a news audience discern what “is” from what “isn’t” when the reporters on the ground refuse to differentiate between the two?

We now see reporters in the WH Press Pool asking Trump harder (but still not hard enough), direct questions — then getting flummoxed as, like yesterday, Trump responded to NBC News’ Peter Alexander’s question about helping to quell peoples’ fear by telling Peter Alexander what a terrible journalist he was. When Trump went on to the next reporter, that reporter asked THEIR question — letting Trump GET AWAY with what he did to Peter Alexander. And the Coronavirus update went on — filled with even more misinformation, disinformation and…

Let’s be real. Trump’s now using these daily updates to replace his rallies. It’s not a coincidence that, as Trump tries to lay the blame for his failures on China (by calling the virus Chinese), Bill Barr is grabbing for more unrestrained power — asking Congress to approve new, sweeping powers to arrest and hold people indefinitely. Donald Trump intends to remain in power past January 20, 2021 — the day on which his term expires. In point of fact, Donald Trump will LOSE ALL PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORITY on that date. He won’t have the Constitution on his side — at all. It will treat him as of that date — and everyone in his administration — as ordinary citizens, subject to the same rules. There will be no executive power to hide behind.

Trump may try to. His followers may try to. The chain of command will not respond. It better not. It sure sounds like it absolutely won’t. It’s just not set up to work the way Trump ultimately wants it to. And while coronavirus & Covid-19 will make responding to Trump harder — Trump has already set in motion so much misery, economic ruin and death that no one will be untouched. No one except the hardest hard core Trumpanistas will even think about going along with him.

This can only end one way. Coronavirus will do what the truth could not: it will destroy Donald Trump.

But, in the meantime, it is incumbent on every one of us — the press especially — to mitigate that as much as we possibly can. Every time Trump gets to use the news media — and a crisis — as a campaign event, we are doing ourselves great harm and making the inevitable more catastrophic and bloody. We KNOW for a fact that Trump is lying to us daily. We have to ask why.

That is — our news media has to ask. They’re the ones with the microphones & the cameras. They’re the ones in the room. They have to be us more than ever — and, as of now, they are letting us down.

CNN & MSNBC run “Breaking News” banners all day for news that broke hours before. It ain’t breaking all day. The same logic should apply to Trump’s daily lie-athons. If Trump says something that’s “breaking news” now, it will still be “breaking news” five minutes from now. Between Trump’s utterance & broadcast though, there needs to be fact-checking so that either Trump’s lies are cut out or they’re marked in real broadcast time with some clear, visible, unmistakable disclaimer that what Trump is saying to America is 100% certified bullshit.

The press pool needs to take all attention off of Trump. Washington Post columnist (and former Republican) Jennifer Ruben had a great suggestion this morning on AMJoy — the pool reporters need to stop asking Trump anything. Direct all questions to the experts. When Trump jumps in, ignore him and direct the question back to the expert. The adults in the room need to stop treating the infant like one of them.

But, ya see, that’s when “both sides do it” bites even the most intrepid reporter on the ass. “Both sides do it”, ya see. How can they treat an infant like an infant? That would be “judging” & they’re all just there to report the facts.

See the problem?

Dispatches From The Apocalypse (Well, Los Angeles During Coronavirus)…

Of all the places to sit out the Coronavirus Apocalypse, Los Angeles may be one of the better places. The weather should be reliably good by April. We’ll have some June gloom in May but that just means the marine layer takes a little longer to burn off in the morning than the rest of the year.

We’ve always been east siders, my wife and I. The furthest west I’ve ever lived in LA is West Hollywood (when I first arrived back in 1985). Starting in 1987, I began migrating east — to Hollywood… then Echo Park… then Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Glassell Park and now Highland Park.

By far, Highland Park’s the most “urban” LA neighborhood we’ve lived in. We can walk to a cool old movie theater (the Highland Theater), lots of great bars & restaurants (all or most of which, hopefully, will return when this nightmare ends), a large grocery store and lots of great mom & pop shops (hardware, florist, produce, bakery). We can even walk to the Gold Line (part of LA’s Metro). It’s kinda like living in an actual city.

Out walking today, it breaks my heart that so much is closed. A lot of those places might not make it to the other side of this.

I still bump a little on seeing people lined up outside a food store (in this case a little upscale produce store) — six feet apart, heading down the street (because only one or two people are allowed in to shop at a time). A few weeks from now, I bet, that will seem normal.

The corner store had lots of napkins today. They had no idea when they’d be seeing toilet paper or paper towels again.

Why, I’d like to know, when coronavirus suddenly reared its head — threatening a pandemic of respiratory failure, did so many people think first about wiping their asses?

People buying up all the tissue — that I get (though the hoarding is offensive). But ass-wipe? What up with that?

Our two kids are driving down from their colleges north of here. Lots of mixed feelings there — and that’s strange.

I look forward to seeing my kids of course. But I’m a little concerned about them coming here, too. They’re college kids who’ve both just been on large University of California campuses. I have no idea if they’ve followed any safe practices at all. I have no idea if they’re carrying coronavirus (they could be completely asymptomatic but spreading the virus) — and have no way to test them of course.

We now live in times where a kiss can kill. Literally.

Both LA’s mayor (Eric Garcetti) and California’s governor (Gavin Newsom) both put stay in place orders yesterday. There are loads of exceptions (for now). Food stores and pharmacies of course but also hardware stores and (like San Francisco) dispensaries — it doesn’t get more essential than having cannabis when the coronavirus is upon you.

We Are About To Enter A Laboratory — Our Lives Are About To Prove That Socialized Democracy Is Better For People Than Crony Capitalism

I can’t help being an optimist — even in the worst of times ( like now).

What’s about to slam into us… I fear we’re not doing it justice. We’re still underselling how hard it’s going to hit us and how.

But that’s where I see silver lining. For starters — we can actually see what having human