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.

Dear American News Media — Just Because Donald Trump Likes Running Down Rabbit Holes Doesn’t Mean You Have To Follow Him There

Remember this image — Trump going down that golden escalator on the day he formally declared?

What we didn’t realize at the time — though we should have — it wasn’t the lobby of Trump Tower he was descending into, it was a goddamned rabbit hole. The first sign we had was “Mexicans are rapists”. The second sign that we were in a rabbit hole? Within a matter of moments, we shrugged off “Mexicans are rapists” as just “how Donald Trump is”. Normal world? No. Rabbit hole.

Every bizarre thing Trump says is a rabbit hole unto itself. It’s not so much an intention on Trump’s part — to get the press to chase him down each and every rabbit hole — as a hard-wired behavior. Trump lies to everyone — his family included. So, Trump is always trying to get someone to follow him down a rabbit hole because, it’s just a fact, at any given moment, Trump is lying to a stupefying number of people.

That’s why liars love rabbit holes. There’s no logic inside a rabbit hole. The normal rules of cause and effect stop working — or seem to — because a rabbit hole isn’t reality; it’s an ice core drilled into bullshit thicker than the earth’s crust. It’s a place of Magical Thinking, nonsense and drivel.

One would think that, after a time or two, one would weary of chasing liars down rabbit holes. Yes, chasing liars down rabbit holes is part of what journalism is, but journalists also must maintain perspective. Once they’ve ascertained that a liar will lie to them, they’d be stupid — as a person and a journalist — to give the liar a fair hearing each and every time the liar opened his mouth.

But, that’s what our news media does. Rather than build a narrative that says “Donald Trump’s whole ‘strategy’ is to tie us in knots with his lying”, our news media continues to assume Trump could be telling the truth this time — as preposterous as his lie sounds.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/trump-s-plane-loaded-thugs-rumor-matches-months-old-facebook-n1238962

“Planes Loaded With Thugs” is a rabbit hole. FFS, it even sounds like a rabbit hole! Why would anyone with a degree from a J-School follow someone down it?

Oh, right — because that J-School degree came with a heavy dose of cynical (rather than skeptical) “Both Sides Do It” journalism where everyone’s the same (regardless of how different they are) — with the same motives, the same tactics, the same everything. If one person does things for political reasons then everyone does things for political reasons — even (apparently) if they don’t know it. Therefore, a Republican suppressing Democratic voters is political but so is the suppressed Democratic voter — attempting only to practice their right to vote by calling the Republican out for suppressing them.

No, the suppressed voter is NOT behaving politically, they’re a crime victim. And so are we all when 1) naked politics dictate actions and 2) the press can’t tell the difference.

The solution is shockingly easy. It’s one word: “No”. As in “No, we will not follow you down that rabbit hole. You come out — then we’ll talk”. Or, put more simply (if a little less elegantly): “Back it up or it’s bullshit”.

The news media doesn’t have to accept what Trump says THEN scurry around to fact check him. That’s their choice. It’s their habit now because they’ve been completely re-active here.

They could absolutely do this the other way round — and they should. When dealing with a known liar, you have to assume that they’re lying to you. Therefore you demand that they back up everything they say FIRST. “Put the receipts on the table”, point to the relevant facts (facts, not bullshit) THEN we’ll entertain having a discussion with you on this topic. Can’t back it up right off the bat? We’re not talking about it — we’re certainly not broadcasting it over our air to our NEWS audience.

If Donald Trump thought he had achieved dictator status, he wouldn’t be running for re-election. He’d have cancelled it already and made all his legal troubles go away.

He hasn’t. That means that Donald’s Republican friends also acknowledge that they can’t impose permanent minority rule on us quite yet. It seems we’re likely to protest. Loudly. And we outnumber them by a lot.

Authoritarians know one thing: their authoritarian rule probably won’t end with them dying peacefully in their beds, old and ready. It will come far sooner and be way more violent. That’s why authoritarians don’t ever do that “peaceful transfer of power” thing. They can’t. They’re criminals and losing power means legal problems, prison or worse.

That’s why Trump spews rabbit holes. Lying and obfuscation are the only path he has to “win” this election. But then, Trump didn’t actually “win” his last election. Cheating to win (especially when the cheating involves treason) isn’t actually winning — in the legal sense. Legally speaking, you can’t cheat to win. Hey — that’s just the rule of law talking, not me.

Trump is the first impeached POTUS to ever run for re-election — in the very election he was impeached over: because he cheated! You wouldn’t know that from the way our NEWS MEDIA reports this story. They still treat it like a normal election where previous polling describes what’s happening now. No, Steve Kornacki, you nitwit — it isn’t! Look, I’m sure Kornacki’s a lovely guy — and he does have real insight into his numbers. But he has no perspective whatsoever about the larger context his numbers take place inside of.

Steve NEVER accounts for Russia’s vote in 2016 for example. He NEVER accounts for the impact voter suppression (and probably vote flipping) could have had. Steve insists that his flawed numbers tell the story of what happened then (they absolutely do not!) and therefore what will happen now. No — they absolutely will not!

Oh, sure — there are conscientious journalists working this beat. At Kornacki’s very own MSNBC Nicolle Wallace, Rachel Maddow, Joy-Ann Reid, Ali Velshi consistently frame the story we’re all living in correctly — as a house completely afire. But the rest — the Kornackis, the Chuck Todds, the Kelly O’Donnells… what a bunch of amateurs.

You’d have to be an amateur to keep making the same rookie mistake, right? If you can’t figure out how NOT to chase a rabbit down an obvious rabbit hole then you should probably quit chasing rabbits. Give up on journalism. Try something you’re good at. Let’s hope there is something.

So – Let’s Say We DO Have A Second American Civil War — Here’s What Might Happen

Fact: on the day he resigned the presidency because of Watergate, Richard Nixon still drew a 29% approval rating. Though it was Republicans who literally went to the White House and told Nixon it was over, a huge chunk of their party membership didn’t agree.

They wanted Nixon’s lawlessness to continue.

Another fact: more than a third of America (Nixon’s base plus a little more) have no interest in representative democracy and never have. They’ve never celebrated our great experiment in self government, they’ve despised it because they’ve always known that democracy would stamp an end date on white, Christian male rule. White, Christian men all by themselves can’t breed enough to keep up with America’s diversifying population. That’s why so many of them hole up in the woods or go full desert rat so their paranoia and racism can run wild.

As historian Heather Cox Richardson describes in her book How The South Won The Civil War, though the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox — and its army ceased to be — it still went on to win the Peace that followed the war by getting ahold of the narrative. A war fought specifically because of slavery became a war fought over “states’ rights”. Traitors became great generals fighting for a grand but lost cause. The antebellum world — repugnant because of its reliance upon slaves and slavery — became romanticized in our popular culture. In fact popular culture — books, movies — took up the mantle of “The Glorious South” and made the racism upholding it all acceptable.

That’s a pretty good result for the side that got crushed.

Lincoln’s successor — Andrew Johnson — began undermining Reconstruction as soon as it began. Had he not done that, our history might have been very different. We might have mitigated some of the hurt caused by slavery. Instead, we doubled down on institutional racism and, in very many ways, kept the Civil War going albeit deep in our national psyche. The ripple effects haunt us constantly.

As hard as Trump and the GOP want to make voting, it looks like the numbers will simply overwhelm them. Whereas no one was looking for Trump’s cheating in 2016, in this election, he’s made it a feature — so everyone’s looking at it. Never mind that it’s insane to equate a win via cheating with a legitimate win. Trump and the Republicans have managed to offend just about everyone who isn’t a white male Christian (or the women playing beta dog to them). The reason they need to curtail the vote is because the vote will be so massive — and so massively against them. It should be so massive that even flipping votes on voting machines won’t help: the difference will be too vast. Flipping vote tallies that far apart wouldn’t even pass a Republican’s smell test.

This isn’t about the Democrats winning, it’s about winning by a staggering margin. That’s why, despite the positive polling, no one can let up. It is a numbers game. And we may not know for certain on November 3 who won. We may not know officially for a week or more — because all those mail-in ballots must be counted. Trump and the Republicans will begin their Civil War right there and then.

Remember — Trump needs to be POTUS for the rest of his life. The second he stops being president? He’ll be indicted — at the very least by the SDNY where Trump remains the “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Michael Cohen case. Now that we know that Rod Rosenstein prevented both the FBI and Team Mueller from investigating Trump’s relationship with Russia — there’ll be that too. There’ll be civil suits flying from everywhere at Trump. He’ll spend more on lawyers than some countries do on electricity.

Trump can’t and won’t accept defeat. Here in the real world, he will pay for his crimes. One way or another — especially once we’ve wrested control of the presidency, the Senate and the Department of Justice from corrupt Republican control — every last bit of Republican malfeasance and treason will be investigated, tried and punished.

But, let’s pretend for a moment that Trump and his Republican pals take over a big chunk of real estate — threatening a lengthy, violent conflict. In the end, the United States of America cedes the Trumpian States of America Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and the Dakotas. As a kind of “house warming” gift, we put up Trump’s wall for him.

As our view of Trump and his corrupt pals disappears behind that wall, we’ll start a clock running — to see, over time, which version of America prospers and thrives and which doesn’t. Will the United States of America do better — with its belief in e pluribus unum? Or will The Trumpian States of America “Be Best” — proving that a cult-of-personality-worshipping population, their heads filled with magical thinking and white rage can operate like an actual country.

Personally, I give the TSA about six months before things begin falling apart. The brain drain they suffered at the experiment’s start has left them with fantasists & sycophants to solve all their problems. Trump having succumbed to one of his various physical ailments, the TSA is now broken up into fiefdoms run by Ivanka, Junior and even Barron. He and Tiffany have had to team up to avoid getting eaten by their siblings. Another fiefdom is run by Mitch McConnell and the remnants of the Republican Party.

Mitch lives in a castle. He doesn’t care what’s happening outside of it. Same goes for every other Republican muckety-muck. They cashed out. The country doesn’t make anything that anyone wants so the cash flow’s mostly negative (hey — they do have a little mineral wealth and Mount Rushmore driving their “tourism industry”!) The great natural wonders aren’t so great or natural anymore — since plundering them was considered de rigeur.

Life in the TSA is cheap and nasty. It’s mostly white people in-breeding more of that “white superiority that isn’t”. Religion has replaced science in the classroom. Parsimony has replaced every ounce of Christian charity. It’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone’s just another flavor of Alpo.

Meanwhile, across the border, life is hard still because it will take a while to undo the profound, systemic damage Trump caused. But, the damage made systemic change both necessary and easier. Ironically, conservative fear of socialism has created the very “socialized” America that scared them and in record time.

Health CARE is now a right of everyone in America. UBI is a fact of life as is either a fully-paid-for college education or whatever training program someone needs to fully prepare their skill sets. Our bottom line will have shifted from money to people.

That’s renewed the world’s view of America as the place where innovation happens. All those great minds are now turning to climate change and how to mitigate it. Slowly, we turn to face all our other problems too. Removing the racists from our population has definitely helped our racism problem — but everyone has the potential to be racist. It’s hard-wired into us (the potential). We still have to teach ourselves to combat it every single day.

The result? A dynamic country filled with hope and promise. An America way closer to living up to its ideals than ever before.

And then one day, there’s a knock at the door. It’s stragglers fleeing the TSA, looking for asylum.

Behind them, we see more stragglers — looking hungry, fearful and hopeless. The good news? Our strong, prosperous version of America can help them. And will.

When we get to the end of THAT Civil War — the one that ends with our banging economy and their whimpering — I hope we have the good sense to get our historians writing. This time, in addition to winning the war, let’s win the damned peace.

At least let’s make our movie version of what happened better than theirs. Not that it will be hard.

Republicans Have A “Point Of View”; They Do Not Have A “Point”

A car thief — sitting in your car, outside your house, honking the horn because he wants you to see what he’s done — has a thief’s point of view. The thief’s victim — you — also have a point of view.

The cops show up just in time. They catch the car thief inside the stolen object, steering wheel literally in hand.

You tell your story — your side. The cops look to the thief — who they saw stealing your car. What “side” does the thief have in this story? That you gave the stolen object to him?

“Nuh-unh,” you say to the cops when they shoot you a look. Back to the thief. Unless he has a long, sad tale of why he’s a thief, he better keep his mouth shut. He doesn’t have a “side” here — meaning, whatever point he thinks justifies what he did does not exist. He has no point and never did; there is no justifiable explanation for why he stole your car.

Neither “I felt like it” nor “I dunno why” are acceptable or justifiable. A bully may not be able to articulate what compels him to bully but there’s something compelling him. Regardless, his emotional emptiness does not justify his actions. He may think he has a “side” equal to his victim’s, but he doesn’t.

Trump smiles at “The Boss” while our allies don’t.

What “side” could Donald Trump possibly have for backing Vladimir Putin time and time again?

What “side” could Lindsey Graham have for ferociously backing a man he said would be the destruction of the Republican Party?

What “side” could anyone possibly have for putting children in cages?

What “side” could anyone possibly have for turning mask-wearing into a political statement?

What “side” could any of the eight Republicans have for spending July 4, 2018 in Moscow?

What “side” could Jeffrey Epstein possibly have had? What side could Ghislane Maxwell or any of Jeff’s other pervy friends have had? What side could Bill Barr possibly have — in ANYTHING?

What “side” does Mitch McConnell have for refusing to let We The People in on the secret that Russia was actively backing Donald Trump in the 2016 election?

What “side” does former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have for not calling the FBI when, during the 2016 GOP convention, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy told him “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”?

What “side” does any Republican Senator have for refusing to convict Trump and remove him from office?

What “side” does anyone have for keeping that “R” next to their name?

As we know — they’re happy to tell us — Republicans always have their point of view. But, being as it’s the point of view of corrupt, racist, bigoted, misogynist traitors, no “side” goes with that.

“Karma’s A Stone Cold Bitch: Moscow Mitch Edition”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mitch-is-an-eel.jpeg
Gulp! Moscow Mitch McConnell looks behind — sees Karma gaining on him fast! Inside his turtle head, he thinks “Please, Turtle feets, don’t fail me now!

When we get to the end of this sorry-assed saga, Mitch McConnell will stand as one of American history’s Uber-Villains. If you want to know just how severely damaged Moscow Mitch is — he’s a lonely bully having his revenge on the rest of the schoolyard — read Jane Meyer’s excellent piece on Mitch in the New Yorker.

Mitch & Donald Trump go well together because neither has a scruple or guiding principle in his head — beyond greed.

Remember — Mitch knew when he refused to let Obama tell the American people that Russia was actively working to make Trump president that Russia was actively working to make Trump president. He was trying to keep Russia’s secret secret from us.

For that alone, Mitch deserves to rot in hell for all eternity.

Yeah, there’s some pretty awful Karma Mitch has created for himself. When that Karma boomerangs — as Karma always does — it will fly back at Mitch with a vengeance. The question: how exactly will Karma appear to Mitch?

If I were ‘In Control’ of Karma — and I could create a ‘Karma Tree’ that would guide all of Mitch’s future incarnations — based on what he REALLY deserves — Mitch’s Karma would go something like this…

Mitch dies (hold off on breaking out the champagne — for now).  And he comes back as THIS — ‘Mitch McConnell:  Toilet Brush‘ —

A Toilet Brush or Mitch

But here’s the ‘rub’ — ‘MITCH THE TOILET BRUSH‘ lives HERE —

WORST TOILET

Yeah — even worse than ‘The Worst Toilet In Scotland’…

A lot worse, it turns out — because THIS is the REFUGEE CAMP where Mitch’s Toilet lives — and CHOLERA just broke out all across the camp…

Refugee Camp

Yeah — CHOLERA.

And there’s already a LINE to use Mitch’s Toilet (and every last person in line has EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA) —

line of refugees 1

  And that line goes on…

Line of Refugees 2

And on…

Refugees3

And on…

And STILL, it gets worse for Mitch — Cos THIS is the creature at the very endof that line…

Monster at end of line

And it doesn’t make ‘dainty’ piles like THIS —

pileofcrap

Nope — it produces an endless stream of foul-smelling poison as toxic as Mitch’s ‘soul’.

And just as Mitch sees how massive and unending that STREAM OF LIQUID SHIT IS

He wakes up — and realizes it was all in his head — A DAYDREAM!

And that makes Mitch happy (even happier than Koch Money does when it lines his pockets — and that’s a lot of happy).

Happy Mitch

Everything, Mitch realizes, is back to normal.  And he turns to go about what he was doing (before that awful daydream) and he reaches out TO SHAKE THE HAND of THIS MAN —

THE HANDSHAKE

And the KARMA TREE starts all over again…

Forever and ever and ever…

Hey, Karma — call me — I bet we can work something out to everyone’s mutual satisfaction (and improved Karma)…

Shits N Giggles Karma Bonus Points — Mitch needs to answer why his military records are sealed — and why the word SODOMY makes him uneasy… Hey, Karma: Three, two, one — GO!

Just So We’re Clear — America Doesn’t HAVE TO Go Along With What A Bunch Of Treasonous Thieves Want Us To Do

By “Treasonous Thieves”, of course, I mean Republicans. Republicans are treasonous — because they conspired with Russia to undermine the integrity of an American election — a thing Russia was doing as an act of Cyber War.

Cyber War is war. Undeclared war is war. Undeclared Cyber War is no different from sitting in Pearl Harbor the moments before the Japanese fleet arrives to surprise attack us. Just because we don’t know war has started doesn’t mean it hasn’t started. Quick note to selves: it always sucks to be the last to know you’re at war.

Thieves. Republicans are also thieves. Treason was the tool they used to steal the true 2016 election result from We The People. It wasn’t just Hillary Clinton who got cheated of the result she won, We The People got cheated too. We got cheated of the policies Clinton would have executed that would have been the diametric opposite of what Trump has done. We got cheated of hundreds of lifetime judicial appointments — reflecting OUR values. That’s THE MAJORITY’S values, not the values of the shrinking white, Christian male minority.

Being the survivor of two sexual assaults when I was 14, I’m kinda hyper sensitive to rapey behavior. I’ve come to realize — now that I’ve put what happened to me into its proper perspective — that rapey people are rapey in everything they do. It’s subtle sometimes, not-very-subtle otherwise. Yet we either look past it or, strangely, don’t recognize it for what it is. Donald Trump, for example, behaves like a rapist in literally everything he does. Everything is about exerting his will upon others. That’s how rapists think and operate.

Well, we don’t have to go along with it. In my mind’s eye, I now turn on the man who sexually assaulted me. I put two hands firmly in his chest and I shove him backwards. I explain to him — simply, directly — that will not be happening. I will not be his victim.

Had I been empowered then, I would not have put up with his shit. Well, I am empowered now — and I’m not putting up with Donald Trump’s shit.

You cannot violate the rule of law to become president. You can’t violate the rule of law to become or do anything. I know: Trump and the republicans don’t give a shit about the rule of law. Doesn’t matter. And it’s beside the point.

WE care about the rule of law. It’s important that we recognize it has always been in effect. That fact’s going to be important for what comes next.

Not only do we NOT have to accept what Donald Trump and the GOP are doing to us now, we don’t have to accept what they did to us in the past. Meaning: we don’t have to accept its legitimacy. We don’t have to accept the intended outcome — because that outcome was achieved ILLEGALLY. See how that works?

We The People did not make Trump president. Russia did. Russia and a criminal Republican cabal that was operating well outside the rule of law.

As we just learned — Rod Rosenstein personally kept We The People from INVESTIGATING what Donald Trump had done to become POTUS. You can’t get much more outside the rule of law than that. First you violate the rule of law, then you do everything you can from preventing us from learning that you violated the rule of law. And all at the service of a hostile foreign power.

Wow. Just wow.

I have no intention of going along with this. You?

Helsinki, July 16, 2018 — Trump sides with Russia over the FBI on the subject of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Dear American News Media: YOU Will Be The Problem Until YOU Stop Being It

When your job is to tell our story in real time, as it’s happening, it’s vital that you know how to frame that story — in real time. If you screw up the framing, you’ll end up telling the wrong story. Our news media can’t ever get the Donald Trump story right because they insist on framing Trump’s story from TRUMP’S point of view. That’d be great if Trump were even semi-reliable with the facts. The fact that he lies about everything — that’s his most prominent feature.

On the one hand, a storyteller SHOULD base their story about this character on the fact that they always lie. On the other hand, a storyteller shouldn’t base their story on this character’s lies as if they were true. Because they’re not — and it skews the whole story away from REVEALING who the character is toward revealing nothing except the depths of the storyteller’s credulity. Trump is not some visionary whose lies are part of some grand vision. He’s just a goddamned liar. He’s a goddamned criminal. His lies are meant to keep him from getting caught. Period, end of story.

You’d think professional storytellers could tell it.

This isn’t every journalist working this beat, but it is most of them. While their dedication to the journalistic ethos of fairness is admirable, they seem to have confused political neutrality with complete detachment. They don’t want to judge whether anyone’s politics are right or wrong. Okay, fine. But, then they go and assume that EVERYONE is being political — “both sides do it”.

Except that’s not true. Both sides don’t “do it”. Example: both sides do not relentlessly try to suppress the other sides voters. Both sides do not approach elections the same way. Both sides do not want every single eligible voter to vote.

When a suppressed voter raises their hand to complain that their vote is being suppressed, they’re not being “political”. They are responding to a political act however. The person suppressing their vote IS acting politically. In fact, the whole point of voter suppression is to undermine the other sides ability to conduct politics. To get what they need from the political process. To suppress a voter is a political act. To defend the suppressed voter is NOT. It’s an act of patriotism actually.

And an act of civil obligation. The vote suppressor is breaking the law.

All this is framing. It’s seeing the story from the neutral perspective journalists aspire to. Real neutrality would involve asking what everyone’s motives were rather than assuming.

What are Donald Trump’s motives? That’s not a hard question. As big a liar as he is, Trump is remarkably transparent. His motives are always right out in the open. You don’t even have to scrunch up your eyes to see them. The trick apparently (to judge by our news media) is in accepting what you’re seeing.

Plenty of journalists HAVE accepted what they’ve been seeing all along: Sarah Kendzior, David Corn, Seth Abramson. Even the former Wall Street Journal journalists at Fusion GPS — the research firm hired by Republican-owned Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump during the 2016 primary season accepted what they saw (after doing their due diligence): that Trump was almost certainly a criminal who’d been laundering Russian mob money through his failed Atlantic City casinos. Some journalists have accepted that Trump is every bit the rapist all the brave women who’ve come forward SAY he is.

Some journalists have accepted that Trump is the rapist he himself says he is.

And then there’s the rest…

The ones who “reset” every day to a bizarre “Square One” where Trump is a “normal POTUS” who ran a normal campaign in 2016, not at all touched by a hostile foreign power actively engaged in an undeclared cyber war against us. That Trump “strategizes”. He’s a brilliant businessman and a master negotiator. He’s a good father and husband. He was a great student. He’s well read. He’s loved and he’s made us more respected.

All because he says so.

This liar.

There’s a traditional English entertainment that plays at Christmastime called pantomimes.

These theatrical pieces are almost always based on some old chestnut — Cinderella or Puss In Boots. The story’s just a framework on which to hang a somewhat improvised game of call and response with the audience. At some point in almost every pantomime, the bad guy will end up standing behind the Good Guy who’s downstage center talking to the audience.

The audience — since their participation is expected — will tell the Good Guy with increasing desperation that the Bad Guy is behind him. The Good Guy — finally getting the message — turns one way but misses seeing the Bad Guy. He turns the other way — misses seeing the Bad Guy again. It’s maddening of course. That’s the point.

In a panto, it’s also part of the fun. Here in reality though, watching Trump and the GOP stand behind the news media while We The People shout “Look out behind you!” has become part of the tragedy. The news media has become part of the story. That is, their inability to tell the story has become part of the story.

Bullshit and truth are not the same thing. When a reporter, attempting to be “neutral” asks a “Yeah, but what if bullshit was true?” kind of question, they’re giving credence to bullshit. Regular bullshit is bad. Bullshit given the credence of Truth? Oy.

Is it really a wonder why at least a third of America doesn’t know what the Truth is anymore? It’s understood that political actors — Fox News — have made it their purpose to undermine everyone’s journalist credibility including their own. They need “truth” to flow from the top, truth being whatever the criminals running the kleptocracy say it is. Orwell knew what he was talking about. Control the past, you control the future.

The “truth” is, Donald Trump sucks at messaging. That is, he sucks at messaging anything other than what he is — a traitor and a criminal. The bulk of our news media also sucks — at storytelling.

It’s a fixable problem. All they have to do? Open their eyes. Accept what they know and make it part of the story.

Neutrality toward the Truth is not neutrality. It’s journalistic malpractice.

Donald Trump & Trumpism Are What Happens When Magical Thinking Goes Psycho

Magical Thinking should have an expiration date — at the end of childhood, say. Or when one turns 18 and votes for the first time.

Alas, that’s not the case. Some people — Republicans — never lose their taste for Magical Thinking. That’s because it’s more than a taste, it’s an addiction.

The reason religious dogma grabs people when they’re young is because that’s when magic still answers questions satisfactorily. Explanations don’t have to line up with facts so long as the narrative captivates. The apostle Paul’s genius — Paul invented Christianity, not Jesus — was to weave Jesus into a vague, mysterious messiah narrative that, if you accept it as “gospel truth”, will allow you to defeat death. That’s what Christianity is selling: eternal life. But only if you believe the ooga-booga lock, stock & two white-or-grey smoking barrels.

Jesus preached a pretty simple message: do unto others. While there was plenty of Magical Thinking in Jesus’s view of the world, his teaching didn’t require any mental gymnastics. One doesn’t have to believe in magic to do unto others. Even if one believed in Yahweh, Jesus taught that one could speak directly to him. One didn’t need the temple priests to do it for you — because they knew the magical code while everyone else didn’t.

Jesus never claimed to be the product of a virgin birth. He never claimed to be the son of anyone other than his actual mother and his actual father. He never claimed messiah-hood. All that magic was imposed on Jesus and Jesus’s story by the early church. The church very effectively disposed of the real Jesus, replacing him with an entirely magical Jesus instead — a Jesus who serves as mascot for their institutions and for Magical Thinking itself.

When people start out believing magic is the answer to our most foundational questions — why are we here and what is our purpose — they’ll favor magic as the solution to those questions. Instead of feeding themselves when hungry, they’ll await manna from heaven. They’ll mistake brain chemistry gone awry for demonic possession. They’ll think the voice in their head is divine and their actions therefore justified (no matter how terrible).

It’s a lot easier to forgive people for accepting magical explanations when their knowledge base is limited. The men who scribbled out the texts that became the OT really didn’t know much. Their world was tiny compared to ours. Most of them never traveled more than 50 miles from where they were born. They had no idea that pathogens existed. Their cosmology was all wrong. Imagine if, instead, they’d had access to telescopes and microscopes and the internet. They wouldn’t have written what they wrote the same way (even if they’d still had the same questions).

We don’t have their excuse. And yet, plenty of people still accept the explanations for basic facts from people who were legitimately ignorant of the facts.

Oy.

If you accept the Magical Thinking that, say, the bible is the “inerrant word of God” then you will approach your work with that as the basis for all your thinking. If God doesn’t say “Hey, don’t pollute the planet” then polluting the planet is fine. But then, if your Magical Thinking tells you that the planet’s going to turn into some magical garden after Jesus returns, it doesn’t matter what you do to the planet. In your magic-addled mind, magic will fix it all anyway.

Except, of course, no — it won’t. Because it doesn’t exist.

The four days of the Republican National Convention was a study in Magical Thinking Gone Even More Bonkers Than Normal. Not only were masks not required, neither was logic. Or any sense of history — including what’s been happening from day to day. Suddenly Donald Trump’s disastrously inept pandemic response was genius. His racism was the best thing that ever happened to Black Americans. His treason was next gen foreign relations.

Every last bit of data and evidence from the last four years says Donald Trump has been a disaster for America and the non- authoritarian world. It says the rich have gotten exponentially richer while everyone else has gotten appreciably poorer. It says racism, anti-Semitism, anti-LGBTQ bigotry and every other form of hate is on the rise. Only Magical Thinking spewed at Trump campaign rallies and by Trumpanistas on TV says otherwise.

Every time Trump tells a rapturous, maskless crowd that the economy’s never been better, that America’s never been more respected, that he cares about them above all, that every negative word said about him is “a hoax”, we see Magical Thinking at work. The crowd mews approvingly as if the words magically made bullshit true.

What’s worse — the press repeats those words — and the crowd’s mewing response. They don’t frame what’s happening as Magical Thinking so it comes across as just “thinking” — so therefore legitimate. A crowd of rubes getting suckered in real time gets reported as “Trump’s supporters agreeing with his assertions”. It’s Magical Thinking to think that’s what’s happening.

Magical Thinking never ever represents reality. Trumpism’s triumph was getting the news media to report Magical Thinking like it does.

America’s “Second Coming” Will Begin The Instant Donald Trump Is Gone

William Butler Yeats’ “The Second Coming” rings in my ears every day. He was describing the chaotic aftermath of WWI as it rippled through Europe. He also was thinking about the Spanish Flu epidemic that nearly killed his pregnant wife.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold”. That sounds exactly like now, doesn’t it? There is no centre. There hasn’t been for a while — we just didn’t realize it. The Democrats, to their detriment, have played to that centre more than they played toward their Progressive base. The Republicans on the other hand, have played to their base exclusively. The result — as Yeats put it —

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

Yeah — our world feels full of anarchy. Worse — it feels like

The best lack all conviction while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Boy, is that us. There are some whose gaze is fixed on what’s happening. There are journalists — citizen & otherwise — who’ve grasped the Truth and shouted it as loudly as they could. But, like Yeats wrote. “The best lack all conviction”. You can’t beat evil without conviction.

And we are absolutely fighting evil.

Here’s where I break ranks a little with Yeats. Well, I break ranks with the chronology. Yeats’ magnificent poem famously ends like this —

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

We aren’t heading towards that moment where the rough beast comes round at last, we’re already in it.

Donald Trump IS the rough beast.

Though he wrote the poem in 1919, Yeats has been credited with anticipating the rise of fascism that was already beginning to percolate in Europe. Whether or not Yeats actually anticipated it, the rough beast was definitely present — as he is now, here in America.

That’s the bad news. It’s also the good news.

Just as Yeats’ poem falls apart without a rough beast toward which the whole enterprise is pointed, the Republican coup d’etat that began on election day 2016 would collapse in on itself were Donald Trump to suddenly vanish from the stage.

Were Trump to, say, succumb to one of the myriad illnesses stalking him (you think if he were truly healthy he’d be hiding his health info from us?), there is no “Plan B” in place. Within Trump’s family, there’s no succession plan. Trump wouldn’t dare create one because he knows his “beloved” children would instantly begin plotting how to carry it out. Because that’s exactly what HE did.

As Mary Trump spelled out in her excellent memoir about her experience growing up the niece of this horrible man, Trump has plotted against everyone in his family to get his hands on as much of daddy’s money as he could. Even in a nest of Trumpian vipers, Donald is the viper-iest.

Ivanka thinks she’s the golden child — probably because daddy’s told her things when he “wanted” things. Don Junior apparently believes he’s the political successor to his dad’s political empire. Oy. Eric may not be quite as stupid as everyone things, but then, he might be.

If Donald Trump were to suddenly succumb to a stroke or heart attack — even if he were merely incapacitated — all hell would break loose. The centre would not hold.

Within Trump’s family, they’d all go rogue against each other — maybe not to their faces — but behind their backs?

What about the world outside the Trumps though? After all, that’s where all the compromise has gone down. Everyone gets that Trumps stay loyal to Trumps because they’re Trumps. And while everyone also gets that Republicans stay loyal to other Republicans because they’re Republicans, that doesn’t play quite the same way with Trump. Because Trump isn’t and never was a Republican.

Trump never was a Democrat either. He’s always been a Trump. That’s his party — and he turned the Republican Party into him.

The Republican Party may hate Trump but they saw a way to achieve their end through him. They want permanent minority rule. If Donald Trump & Russia are how they achieve it? So what.

The Republicans have no succession plan either. If Trump suddenly couldn’t serve as POTUS, Mike Pence would become president. But Mike Pence can’t hold this gang together like Trump can because Mike isn’t a boss, he’s a foot soldier. No one currently beholden to Trump (for whatever reason) is beholden to Pence which is why Trump disappearing from the stage would be a “get out of Trump jail free” card.

A political party based on the idea of “every man for himself” would suffer the fate it deserves as the rats all climb over each other to try and escape. Mike Pence is very definitely just such a rat.

Remember — Paul Manafort brought Mike to the dance. Paul needed a compliant vice president who absolutely would not balk when he learned certain ugly secrets about Trump’s campaign — like it’s deep association with Russia. Apparently Mike fit that bill.

Mike Pence is compromised. So is Mitch McConnell. So is every single Republican who’s known from the get-go what current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan knew as far back as the 2016 convention: that Russia owned Donald Trump lock, stock & two smoking, corrupt, treasonous barrels.

That’s what happened on election night 2016: Russia pushed Trump over the finish line, helping the Republicans seal their coup d’etat with a victory stolen from the American people. We will come to see Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan through a very different lens. Trump didn’t pull off a surprise victory to snatch the Electoral College from Hillary Clinton. Russia first softened the environment by pounding it with propaganda borne of the proprietary polling data Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort handed to Russian Intelligence Officer Konstantin Kilimnik. When enough targeted Black voters were polling their reluctance to vote for Hillary (now that they were thinking she might be a closet racist thanks to all those ads showing up on their Facebook pages), Russia knew it could hit the voting machines — flipping just enough to make a Trump win believable.

That’s 77,000 votes across three blue states.

We don’t know for certain yet that that happened because no one — despite everything we know — has ever done any forensics on all those machines. Those machines — we now know — are incredibly vulnerable. Hacking into them — via the internet — isn’t even challenging. That’s probably by design. The majority of machines are manufactured by companies owned by Republicans — who’ve made their allegiance to Republican politics known. Considering how corrupt & corruptible people are in general — and Republicans are in particular — bet the ranch on those voting machines being part of the corruption.

The past 4 years have opened our eyes kinda like Alex’s eyes were opened in “A Clockwork Orange” — they’ve been pried open, giving us no way to not see every bit of the Trump Shit Show. That show though includes a lot of harsh truths about America’s failings. Racism has always been our fatal flaw — not because we were or are racist (tribalism is hard wired into us) but because rather than resisting our inherent racism, we indulged it. We allowed it to tell us that though “All men are created equal”, if those men are Black or brown or anything other than white, they aren’t equal.

Donald Trump didn’t invent American racism of course, he merely gave it permission to speak its vileness out loud. He didn’t invent corruption, he merely excelled at it (like he’s excelled at nothing else). He didn’t invent treason, he merely used it to get elected.

Living in America has never felt so perilous — or so filled with a need for change. Yet, as terrifying and exhausting and frustrating and insane as it feels, there’s also some very real hopefulness in the mix. If we can accomplish the systemic change that needs to happen? We will make America a more fair place where more people have the very real possibility of living their dreams.

I look forward to proving F. Scott Fitzgerald wrong when he wrote “There are no second acts in American lives”. We Americans definitely have a second act in us and probably a third and a fourth. We can’t get there though until we send this bloated orange rough beast to prison for the rest of his life.

Stealing Elections For Dummies

We The People have two problems facing us as we careen toward this election. Problem number one: The Republican Party is doing everything it can — including commit treason — to hold onto the power they stole in the last election.

Problem number two: our news media — even while reporting that Trump and the GOP are openly cheating in order to win — behave as if cheating to win and winning without cheating are the exact same thing.

No, they are not. The rule of law says cheating can NEVER equal winning. Now, the rule of law isn’t going to enforce itself. WE have to do that. But we can’t enforce the rule of law if we refuse to observe even its most basic tenets — like, say, you can’t cheat in order to win. If the press sat down to a card game and could never win because the person they were playing with cheated not only relentless but openly, they’d say something eventually. But, with Donald Trump, even if they do say something, they immediately assume that “Oh well, it’s Trump — cheating is “what it is”.

No, it’s NOT.

When republicans gerrymandered voting districts, they did it with the specific purpose of denying the majority their voice. That’s the whole point of gerrymandering. It’s to give a minority of voters political power far beyond what it should be entitled to. The point is, literally, to circumvent the will of the people. Do you think Republicans would have to gerrymander districts if they thought they could win them on the strength of their ideas?

It’s not just that Republicans fear Democratic voters. It goes deeper — beneath the labels to actual philosophy. Republicans fear the equality under the rule of law that Democrats want. They want special treatment under the rule of law — the same special treatment they’ve gotten up till now — at the expense of people of color, Black people especially.

Republicans, being conservative, want to “conserve” what is. Their name says it all. The future, in their minds, should be exactly the same as the present. The present, to them, already represents too much compromise with the future. They want to slow or stop any future evolution of our thinking and ways of doing things. Innovation is conservatism’s enemy. It has to be. All innovation causes change and change is anathema to conservatism.

If Republicans were honest, they’d campaign on a platform that promised to take America back to the 50’s — the 1850’s — back when being a voter meant being a white, Christian, landowning male. But then, if they did that, who’d vote for them?

There’s the rub. That’s why Republicans gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters and lie about their intentions. The irony is, Republicans don’t even want to govern, they want to prove that government is bad. So they govern badly — like a kid who doesn’t want to do their chores so they do them all the worst way they can. If the voting public knew what Republicans really wanted to do to the country — in fact, it’s exactly what they’re doing right now — they’d rise up in a tidal wave of anger, resentment and outrage that would turn Republicans out of power forever.

Republicans don’t need a book teaching them how to cheat. They’ve been doing it out of necessity for more than a generation now. The RW money (the Kochs, the Mercers) saw way back that America’s diversifying demographics spelled political doom for them and so set out to stop it from happening. They charged Mitch McConnell with the task of hijacking the judiciary — first, by denying Barack Obama the lifetime appointments to the federal bench to which he (and We The People) were entitled (via a thing called an “election”), then by filling the federal bench with unqualified extremists once Donald Trump had stolen power.

Partnering with Russia may not have originated inside the Republican Party, but even when they knew Russia was actively working to make Donald Trump president, they did nothing to stop it. In fact, they continued working with Russians. Mitch McConnell, for instance, refused to let Barack Obama inform us in September 2016 that Russia was actively trying to make Trump potus. He twisted every arm he had to to get sanctions lifted so that Oleg Deripaska could drop $400 million into a Russian aluminum factory in Western Kentucky. Those sanctions were put in place because of Deripaska’s role in subverting the 2016 election.

No, Republicans know perfectly well not just how to steal elections, but to steal elections via treason. And it IS treason because Russia is actively engaged in a cyber war against us — a war they envisioned years ago. Just because they haven’t fired a bomb or bullet at us doesn’t mean it isn’t a war. Russia could shut down our power grid today (they absolutely could!) and we’d sue for peace — the losers — tomorrow.

War is war is war. And anyone who thinks you need bombs and bullets to win a war will lose every war they ever fight going forward.

It’s our news media that needs to read this book. They need to see cheating for what it is — CHEATING — and not as some odd variant on “winning”.

Cheating is cheating is cheating. It can never be winning. As Republicans are fond of saying “elections have consequences”.

Point taken. And stolen elections have even worse consequences.