Bad Things Often Happen When People Show Up Because They Believed “A Story”

Storytelling can be like a super power. Take Donald Trump telling a mob of racist, bigoted followers that the election was stolen from them. That’s a story. Pure fiction. And yet, a fiction propelled that mob into deadly action. Seditionist, treasonous action. If Trump — after setting the mob in motion — had suddenly chuckled into the mic “Heh heh, no, I’m just fooling ya, folks — I lost that election fair and square, now all of you get in your cars and go the hell home!” — they wouldn’t have listened to him. The truth would have disappointed them. The story, on the other hand…

The Insurrection At The Capitol happened because a shitload of people accepted bullshit as truth. Frankly, I don’t care if they were “fooled” by Trump. We ALL heard what Trump said before the insurrection began. We all heard what he said in the weeks beforehand. But only a few of us got into our cars or — like Jenna Ryan, the pathetic real estate agent from Texas who got on her private freakin’ jet and flew halfway across the country in order to DO something terrible because she believed a story!

Why is it usually white people begging for a Mulligan because they got duped by a con man? Probably the same reason it’s usually white people running the con. Although, in Jenna’s case, she isn’t even looking for a Mulligan. She expects to be forgiven immediately — to be pardoned by the president since, to her, she wasn’t just doing her “patriotic duty”, she also was answering to God! The highest authority of all — creator of the universe — wanted this pathetic woman to fly to Washington, DC and take part in a melee. In other words, she expects to be forgiven because she believed a story.

In my experience here in America? It’s ALWAYS white people doing that. Yes, yes — all human beings are open to being charmed into evil by a charismatic smile. But, white people just seem better at creating nonsense and then accepting it as gospel truth.

These people showed up because they believed a story.

These people showed up because they believed a story.

These people showed up because they believed a story.

These people showed up (in Salem, at the witch trial) because they believed a story.

The Holocaust happened because people had long believed (and accepted as truth) a story that Jews deserved to die because “they killed Jesus”. That never happened. Neither did the virgin birth or the three wise men from wherever or the star of Bethlehem. It didn’t. It is pure, unadulterated fiction. “The Jews murdered Jesus” is as reality-based as a piece of crime fiction yet it has transcended Jesus’s message of “love thy neighbor as thyself”. Stone cold fact — if born-lived-and-died-a-Jew Jesus were to return from the dead and hear about all the Jews who were murdered in his name — because of a story about him that wasn’t true — and stood in stark contrast to who he was and what he lived his whole life for? He’d be mighty pissed off about it.

Ah, but… if given a choice between believing the truth or believing a story, we know for a fact which the majority of people will choose. It’s literally incalculable the number of people — Jews or otherwise — whose lives were cut short because the person murdering them “believed a story”.

Dear RW-ers: No, Freedom Is NOT Free; It Comes With Responsibilities

Listening to most RW-ers defend their ideals is starting to sound like a ten year old bully defending himself. “You’re not the boss of me” is what “freedom” sounds like in his ears. That might work as freedom if you live alone on an island. Put one other person there and “you’re not the boss of me” will cause problems almost immediately. Politics begins the instant two people have to negotiate with each other just so they can get through the day. Even two people trying to decide what to have for dinner are engaged in a political conversation. If both those people have “you’re not the boss of me” in their heads? They’ll never make good decisions together. They’ll never be happy. The fact is, they’ll never be free.

Freedom is imaginary to begin with. So is democracy. So are rights.

Each and every one is a human invention. No deity has bestowed any of this upon us. Trust me, if there IS a deity and that deity (with a whole freakin’ cosmos to worry about!) is worrying about piddly stuff like this? This universe needs a new deity with more deity-like priorities. Geez, whose mediocre idea of a god is this anyway? While we’re at it, unless anyone can demonstrably prove otherwise, God or gods are all human creations, too. The proof? That we think a deity with a whole freakin’ cosmos to worry about would worry about whether or a bunch of little, tiny humans “believe” in him. That’s not a deity, that’s a male in need of psychotherapy.

We have rights because we finally realized that we could give them to ourselves — that we didn’t need a god-appointed king to grant them. Like maintaining a republic (as Franklin said “If we can keep it”), maintaining our rights will demand vigilance, grit and resolve. There were forces then that sought to shut down what had just been created. The slavers always hated democracy because democracy and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. Slavery cannot exist in a democracy. It can’t. That it did wasn’t a reflection on democracy, it’s a reflection on us — and our continuing willingness to compromise with evil.

America is still fighting about slavery. That’s a stone cold fact. Cotton and sugar cane were labor intensive businesses. They were all the south had to run their economy. The most expensive component? Labor — but only if you’re forced to pay for it.

Hey, what if you could get all that expensive labor “for free”? Okay, so the labor costs you nothing, but you’ll have to feed and clothe and house your free labor. Considering as you can feed them garbage, clothe them in rags and house them in squalor, the costs will be negligible compared to the profits. And that’s why slavery exists. Free labor. All the rest — the inhumanity, the families and lives destroyed, the murder and mayhem — those are all ripple effects. Stuff that “happens”.

The slaver sits on his verandah, believing he is living the “dream of democracy”, a free man making money. He’s confused. No, he’s wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. Being a pig or a bully isn’t freedom. It’s being a pig or a bully. Being a slave owner is the opposite of freedom — because everything the slave owner does contradicts other peoples’ freedom. That’s the problem — right there.

We have rights because we gave them to ourselves (well, white men, at first, gave them to other white men. Fortunately, we’ve begun to wise up to the scam the white men have been running. The genius of America is the thing that makes it unique among nations. Aside from Native Americans, America was not formed by tribes that lived here for a thousand years like the countries of Europe were. We are the product of all those European tribes — plus tribes from EVERYWHERE ELSE on the planet. THAT’S what makes America exceptional — we’re the only country that was formed from all the other countries. It is unfortunate (but fixable) that white people commandeered this country for its first 240+ years. White people are very clever — but they’re not the only clever people on earth. Pretty much every other tribe? They’re clever, too. And when you put all that multi-cultural, approach-problems-from-every-conceivable-angle kind of thinking to work — as we have, here in America? The results are like nothing else humans have created. As experiments in human self-government go? We’re worth preserving — but, adjustments are needed, urgently.

Already the idea of “civic education” is finding purchase. Good. America needs that. We need to stop thinking that flag-waving is patriotism. No, knowing and understanding how the Constitution works — THAT’S patriotism. Under Trump, we could have turned into a fascist shithole just like that — without changing our flag. The Constitution would have ceased to be despite the stars n stripes’ endurance. See how that works? The piece of colored cloth is actually quite meaningless whereas the Constitution…

Among the first things we’ll need to teach the generations of Americans to follow is how valuable their rights are — how special. But, we’ll also need to teach them that those rights do NOT come without caveats. Everything costs something. Nothing is truly “free”. Just as rank has its privileges and obligations, so do rights.

The right to vote demands that you exercise it. Voting is every American’s OBLIGATION, not just their right. I kinda like Australia’s approach. You cannot be made to actually vote and Australians don’t have to vote come election day. BUT, Australians do have to show up. Regardless of whether or not they actually vote, Australians are obligated by law to at least go to their polling place.

Americans are equally responsible for paying for our democracy and freedoms. These things do cost money. Living costs money. Unless we all revert to being hunter-gatherers, feeding ourselves costs money. Our problem in America is that we see taxes as a black hole of inefficiency and corruption. It’s money out and virtually nothing back. Of course Americans see the tax man as the enemy!

What if Americans received a yearly statement though — an accurate accounting of exactly how the govt spends every single dollar it collects? What if Americans could see, every year, what their money bought them (bought the country), what it should have bought them and what it could never buy them? What if Americans — instead of seeing their taxes as money lost forever — saw them as a fair, accurate accounting of what their tax dollars are buying for them?

If Americans got something they could point — like guaranteed health CARE (as opposed to health INSURANCE — which is the focus of our debate) that could never bankrupt them or their families, they might look at those tax dollars (plus the out-of-pocket savings) a little differently. If Americans could point at the good public university or skills training education their children could have — again just because they pay taxes here — they might look at those tax dollars a little more open-mindedly. If Americans viewed their government as theirs, as their elected intermediary tasked with getting their collective problems solved, they might not see government as “the enemy”.

Again, this is framing — how we think of things (and how we don’t). This is entirely up to us.

If everyone in a family insisted they had to do things their way, the family would collapse in less than a heartbeat. Even relatively happy families have their issues. Welcome to being human and living at cross purposes with each other. Successful families learn to negotiate with each other. If they want something, they’ll probably have to give something to get it. Hello, politics.

A country like ours is just a giant family with a giant closet filled with giant skeletons. Families that don’t acknowledge their skeletons devolve into chaos. Families that at least try? They can’t do worse than chaos. Just like surviving a family takes work, so, too, does surviving a country. Balancing conflicting needs isn’t easy but the alternative is authoritarianism. For what it’s worth, living in an authoritarian state — provided you follow the rules — is a hell of a lot easier than living in a democracy.

That’s part of fascism’s appeal — you don’t have to think. The state does that for you. All you have to do is march neatly in lock step.

In November 1947, Winston Churchill put it this way: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. Democracy is hard, bloody work. The alternatives may be “easier” but only on the surface.

That is, if your idea of freedom isn’t a ten year old’s.

Mitch McConnell’s Impeachment Calculus Has Everything To Do With MONEY And Nothing To Do With Politics

Dear Mitch McConnell: Karma is a stone cold bitch, no? She laughs at sad little treason turtles like you. I bet you can hear her laughing now. Five years ago, you sat atop your Yertl-like throne, unequaled view of the swamp, lots of that Koch money warming your cockles (your wife’s cockles actually, you haven’t any). Permanent minority rule wasn’t in sight yet, but if it ever DID come in sight, you’d be ready, the judiciary already tucked into your turtle shell via all the lifetime appointments you denied Obama but jammed through under Trump — including three undeserving SCOTUS judges. Those were the good ol’ days, weren’t they, Mitch? Flush with money and power, all your secrets safely hidden away. But, the lure of Donald Trump — or was it the trap you’d already stepped into?

That’s the great mystery that putting you under oath will answer one way or another: WHEN exactly, Mitch, did you first climb into bed with Russia? You’ve been taking Russian money into your various PACs for years — legally. Ah, but that was THEN and this is about to be NOW — when that money stops being innocent because TREASON. I know this is a sore subject, Mitch (considering the consequences), but you will need to answer questions — UNDER OATH — about your odd relationship with Oleg Deripaska. And, even innocent-seeming dollars flowing from guys like Len Blavatnik will need to be examined. We need to know where EVERY CENT came from.

Not everyone’s as hip to the scam as you, Mitch. Some people can be “useful idiots”. Then there’s Oleg…

Deripaska’s an oligarch. He has direct ties to the Russian GRU, its military intelligence agency. The only person dirtier in this scenario would be Vladimir Putin himself — a guy, I bet, Oleg can get on the phone and whose calls Putin absolutely will return. We know — there’s proof — that Oleg played a direct role in Trump “winning” the 2016 election. We KNOW (cos there’s proof) that Paul Manafort — Trump’s CAMPAIGN MANAGER — put into Deripaska’s hands proprietary polling data focused on four states: Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Already, we’re deep into CRIMINAL territory — handing polling data about Americans to a foreign intelligence agent. And one thing Manafort definitely knew about Deripaska? He was a FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE AGENT.

And — we also know — at this very same time, Russia is likely following the script for a CYBER WAR drawn up by Putin a few years before. Putin, don’t forget, is an intelligence agent by profession. He pretty much ran the KGB as the Soviet Union collapsed. It was Putin’s “insights” — gained from BEING a KGB agent — that gave him all the leverage he needed to take power in Russia. Putin comes from a “winner take all” world where losers usually get killed. He’s a Russian Nationalist whose wet dreamski is to restore “Greater Russia” to the world stage as a “playah!” That’s never going to happen.

This makes Putin nothing more than a schoolyard bully punching way above his weight. Take oil out of Russia’s economy and Putin goes broke. No money equals no power in Putin’s world. See? Even for Vlad Putin, it comes down to money.

Mitch’s goals are simple to understand. First, he needs to stay out of prison. That’s going to be out of his hands. Once a rejuvenated Department of Justice — running efficiently and in pursuit of Justice under Merrick Garland (such a deliciously ironic choice) — starts pulling threads on the vile Republican Corruption Sweater, people like Mitch are going to spend money on lawyers. Lots of money. The Republican Party is about to make a generation of lawyers fabulously wealthy from coast to coast.

All those seditionists the FBI’s now sweeping up? They have to LAWYER UP. Defending themselves against these charges will be staggeringly expensive — far, FAR more expensive than anything these yahoos have ever imagined. They’re about to be terrified by the words “billable hours” because they’re about to start piling them by the boatload. That will bankrupt their families for a generation at least. And even if they get through it all, scathed but not sentenced to prison? Think their job prospects are good? We’re going to learn things about them that most employers wouldn’t dare hire and wouldn’t want in their work forces anyway.

Expensive. Money. Hey, it’s America, right? YOUR America, Mitch…

And did you hear how corporate America is reacting to your party’s refusal to acknowledge that Joe Biden, the soon-to-be POTUS, won a free and fair election? I KNOW you know, Mitch. They’re fleeing you like passengers fleeing the Titanic as it sank. Trust me — no one’s climbing from their lifeboat BACK onto you. Your ship’s going down, Captain — and Karma’s riding shotgun — enjoying every moment.

Remember the agony you felt that night John McCain stopped you from ripping ACCESS to health care for MILLIONS OF AMERICANS (you weren’t ripping away their care, of course, because America doesn’t have a health CARE system thanks to greedy mf’s like you, we have a health INSURANCE system)? Sure ya do! I bet this is a kajillion times worse. And what makes it hurt even more? You know the spear tip has only scratched the surface. When Merrick Garland begins to wield that spear tip like a scalpel on your soft, treason-turtle underbelly?

Never mind all that corporate cash no longer filling Republican coffers, that corporate cash will stop filling YOUR coffers. Yeah, sure — Elaine’s got dough. But you don’t want to be a kept “man”, do ya, Mitch? Oh, you do… that’s right — you HAVE been kept up till now — mostly by all the corporate cash now abandoning your party because who in their right mind wants to co-brand with corruption, sedition and treason?

The following corporations have all formally announced that they will no longer give money to a political party living in a dream world — trying to force that dream world upon reality (where all the corporation’s customers live):

(The is list is non-exhaustive and was compiled using the committee’s publicly available IRS Form 8872s: 1-800 Contacts): 3M, Amazon, Anheuser-Busch, Autozone, Bank of America, Best Buy, Boeing, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Capital One, Charter Communications, Chevron, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, Comcast, ConocoPhillips, Deloitte, Dominion Energy, DraftKings, Ebay, Eli Lilly, ExxonMobil, Facebook, Farmer’s Group, FedEx, Freedom Financial, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, Honeywell, iHeartMedia, Intuit, JPMorgan Chase, Juul, Kwik Trip, LegalZoom, LexisNexis, MasterCard, Microsoft, MillerCoors, Motorola, Mylan, Nationwide, Novo Nordisk, PayPal, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Raytheon, Reynolds American, Sheetz, SmileDirectClub, Square, Target, TIAA, T-Mobile, Tracfone, TruGreen, UnitedHealth, UPS, Visa, Volkswagen, Waffle House, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Waste Management, Waymo, Wells Fargo, and Yum Brands.

Object lesson: Bill O’Reilly. Though The O’Reilly Factor generated more than $446 million in advertising revenues from 2014 through 2016 (according to one report), The 21st Century Fox board fired O’Reilly in April 2017, saying “After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.” Those allegations had to do with sexual misconduct, predatory behavior and various forms of sexual abuse involving employees and co-workers — you know, stuff guys like Bill O’Reilly had gotten away with FOREVER!

But, as the Atlantic piece points out, the companies that advertised on O’Reilly’s show heard clearly from their customers — women mostly since women make the majority of buying decisions in American households — that they would no longer buy products advertised on O’Reilly’s show or in any way associated with O’Reilly. Regardless of how valuable O’Reilly was in the here-and-now, what corporations like Ford and Coca Cola understood was that O’Reilly’s value was about to plunge significantly. And, so, they bailed on Bill O’Reilly, the short term money be damned.

For corporations with long term strategies? This is how they MUST think in order to be around for any sort of “long term”. It’s just money.

What will Mitch do about trying Trump in the Senate? He needs to deflect some of the shitstorm coming his way. Should something else catastrophic happen now — when the power to remove Trump was in Mitch’s hands — that, too, will fall on Mitch. That will make it even harder for Mitch to ever, EVER convince corporate money to donate to him or his party EVER AGAIN. It’s just math. And money. And power.

Mitch also knows: to oppose Trump is to invite a literal threat of physical harm from absolute, flat-out lunatics. Bad enough Mitch is about to have the DoJ poking about his moldy, old turtle shell, he could also have loyal Trump soldiers out for his blood. The news media — always light years behind the story — still think Mitch is all about finding his way back to the majority leadership in 2022 in the usual mid-term slump for the ruling party. That is such pre-2016 thinking. That also forgets that after January 20, the DoJ will be functioning again and asking reluctant Republicans very hard questions under the glaring light of being under oath.

The tell? They’ll all start pleading the fifth — cos there’s soooooooooo much there with which to incriminate themselves.

And, hey — what about all those Republican legislators who CLEARLY have violated the oath they took to NOT take part in any seditious behavior. By their oaths and by the law they can no longer be part of any government anywhere in America. Ever again. Ask yourself — when Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley get EXPELLED from the Senate — doesn’t that mean THEY’RE NO LONGER SENATORS? Yes, it does. It also means the governors of those states will have to appoint temporary successors — which, in some states, also will initiate another election — in an environment where Democrats are surging and Republicans are losing — and more and more of them are literally going to jail.

We’re already learning how complicit Republican legislators were in the coup d’etat — literally giving them vital intel, some EVEN IN REAL TIME! Despite that fact — despite KNOWING that fact — 197 Republicans STILL voted not to impeach Trump. See where this is going? How are those Republicans going to pay for their next election campaigns? The RNC won’t be cash-flowing them — the RNC’s about to be broke with most of its members worried about legal bills.

Mitch must thread a needle here just to get from today to tomorrow. He really can’t strategize too much into the future because he has zero cards to play — and all the indications are, his hand won’t be improving.

What will you do, Mitch? My money’s on you “aspiring to conviction” without having to get your hands too dirty. I’ve noticed — you haven’t pushed for the whole Republican block to march in classical Republican Lock Step like you had them do during “Trump Impeachment Number One” because, well, you don’t wield anything like that power anymore. Because of Trump.

Also remember — to convict, one doesn’t need 60 votes, one needs 60% of the Senators present DURING the vote. If only 48 Democrats showed up while every Republican stayed home? The Democrats would only have to make sure that 60% of them voted to convict — which, of course, they would. These, too, are things you know, Mitch.

To your credit, Mitch, you’re an excellent politician. Can’t take that away from you — you know how to count. By tacitly allowing your people to “stay home” instead of voting? You could convict Trump without having done it yourself. In your mind anyway, Mitch, you would have a teensy bit of plausible deniability — the Republicans’ favorite operating principle. Considering your options? It’s all you have. I bet you take it.

Not that it will save you in the long run.

At the end of the day, Mitch, your “legacy” such as it is will be that your name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet Americans use when they want to call someone a “traitor”. In that way, Mitch, you will achieve the “immortality” you sought.

Just now the way ya pictured it.

A Letter To Those Who Hate Democracy: Maybe We CAN’T Actually “Live Together”

We Americans tell ourselves — it’s part of our mythology — that we can do anything when/if we hitch our efforts together for a common purpose. Kumbaya. It’s time that those of us singing “Kumbaya” recognize that not everyone is joining in. And it’s not because they can’t sing. It’s because they don’t want to sing along with us. There’s another tune in their heads. A hateful one that sees the rest of us as, well, cockroaches because we’re not white. The Trumpian insurrectionists who stormed the capitol didn’t just turn on democracy because they lost this election. The truth is they’ve never cared for democracy because they always knew this day was coming. The day they finally had to reveal just how much they really and truly hate it.

Four years ago, Barack Obama handed the keys to Donald Trump probably knowing that Trump was betraying us. He took a leap of faith that We The People would backstop our democracy in the nick of time. That seems to be happening. In the nick. Now that we have control of the country back — well, now that we’ve started to re-establish control — we’re going to learn that the Democratic Party’s partner in governing America, the Republican Party, has been plotting against us.

The hit the GOP has put out on Democracy and America is as real and viable as the hit Donald Trump put out on Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi during the insurrection. We really are like a husband or wife waking up to discover their spouse wants to kill them (but hasn’t the guts to do it themselves).

The truth is, Republicans don’t want to govern “with” Democrats. They want to govern instead of Democrats. Completely. That would be bad enough if they represented a majority position. But, they don’t. In fact, increasingly, Republicans represent a shrinking minority. Yeah, yeah — 70 million Americans just voted for a traitor. Let’s stick a pin in that 70 million. But, even if it’s closer to 65 million — that’s still 65 million people thinking absolute rubbish is true.

In order to compromise with this rabble, one has to compromise with bullshit, allowing that some part of bullshit might could be true. Well, THAT is bullshit because no part of bullshit is ever true. We can compromise with bullshit all we like; bullshit will never, EVER compromise with us. It’s like Evil in that way.

Sometimes, in life, we have to admit mistakes — or admit how things really are so we don’t make mistakes. When did the Republicans turn so completely on the rest of us? Hard to say. One could argue they were never in to us. They tolerated us. Well, that’s no way to have a relationship. Especially when you’re the one calling the shots.

Republicans have just been caught cheating in the worst way possible. It must be bad, they’re already insisting everyone kiss & make up, forgive & forget. Dudes — whatever you’re humming so horribly out of tune? It ain’t “Kumbaya”. Sounds more like a death rattle actually. The death rattle of our relationship.

When the smoke clears, the Democratic Party will still be here. The Republican Party will not. An alternative will rise up to take their place — and a good thing, too. This Progressive recognizes that everyone (not just Trumpists) needs a check and balance. We don’t need a “conservative” party to balance progressivism though. The opposite of progress doesn’t have to be regress; it could/should be moderation. Considering how brilliant the ex-Republicans behind Project Lincoln are, I won’t worry about their finding a good, clearly moderate new branding identity.

Not all relationships work out. To be honest, Democrats have always felt a little “taken advantage of” by Republicans. Now that they’ve gone completely off their meds and revealed themselves as world class lunatics, on the one hand, we “get it” — we get why they’re lunatics. On the other hand, no thank you.

The Progressive fatal flaw is a lack of cynicism. It takes a lot to make a Progressive assume the worst in people. We tell ourselves that with enough therapy, even the most awful human being can probably be redeemed or be made redeemable. I still hold out that hope for most people still putting that “R” next to their names. For starters, being a seditionist is about to get crushingly expensive. That will thin the herd considerably. The legal bills about to drop on these fools will be devastating to their families. As the stone cold realization of the poverty they’re about to inflict on their own loved ones strikes home, more and more of these cowards will bail. Trying to better their own terrible situations, they’ll start ratting each other out. Bullies are all cowards at the end of the day.

This Progressive will give up hope only under duress.

I don’t think we can have a “serious” relationship ever again. I know we can’t live together. But I still aspire to having a relationship of some sort — if only to use as the basis for visiting these pirates in prison.

What If Trump’s Vigorously Inadequate Coronavirus Response Was Part Of Trump’s Goal Of Taking Over The Country?

When it comes to Donald Trump, NOT assuming the worst is foolish. Assuming you’ve seen Trump’s worst? Even more foolish. While Trump isn’t personally capable of thinking in grand strategic plans, he is capable of having one master plan that supersedes everything else: self-survival, damn the costs. Once Trump became POTUS (that is, once Russia MADE Trump POTUS — an important distinction), his NOT being POTUS became a personal impossibility. In addition to all of Trump’s other legal liabilities, he now had treason to ice them. Trump can’t resign. He cannot get pardoned for his crimes; that is, even if he WERE to resign in order to let Mike Pence pardon him (good luck with that scenario now that Trump put a literal hit on Pence), the fact that TREASON sits at the heart of Trump’s criminality — and no pardon will forgive TREASON especially when the point of the TREASON was to destroy the country from within — means Donald Trump’s choices are literally life v death.

Which do we think Trump will choose for himself and which do we think he’ll choose for the nation?

Like that’s a question.

Donald Trump has nothing to lose. Hey, once you’ve tried a seditious assault on the Capitol building — with all the legislators inside, intent on taking out the power structure beneath Trump (Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi) — there’s nowhere to go back to, as hard as every Republican tries to convince us to forgive them now before we get “carried away” with wanting them to take ownership of their criminality. The Trump admin deliberately hamstrung the transition. Do we not think it a stone cold certainty that mountains of evidence have already been destroyed? Part of that info the Trumpanistas have withheld goes directly to the heart and nature of Team Trump’s abysmal response to the coronavirus.

Again — let’s not hamstring ourselves. From the moment Russia stole the 2016 election’s outcome on Trump’s behalf (we will closely examine the strange 77,000 vote win disparity Trump won by in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan in light of things we will learn about how certain internet-connected, Republican-owned electronic voting machine manufacturing companies have been altering election outcomes for years now), Trump has been winging it with the GOP, the Heritage Foundation, Fox News, the Koch Brothers and the Mercers all exerting control (or thinking they were) over a traitor who owned them far more than they owned him. Cynicism and greed have brought the Republicans here. They will reap what they have sown.

There really are no coincidences. Not in Trump World anyway. Two criminal occurrences occurring at the same time aren’t a coincidence, they’re a conspiracy. His behavior toward Russia is directly connected to his obstruction of justice. His obstruction of justice is directly connected to his dismantling of the Federal government, the Justice Department in particular. That’s why Trump put Bill Barr back on the federal payroll: Barr wasn’t America’s Attorney General, he was Trump’s consigliere. Not the same thing.

As I stated above: Trump must remain in the White House to remain a free man. He KNOWS what he’s done is shockingly bad. That’s why he’ll fight to the literal death to resist paying for it though, ironically, it all comes to the same ending for Trump. I’m not sure that Trump immediately leapt to the realization that a nation weakened by a vicious virus might be easier to overthrow, but I bet at some point that thought DID occur to someone in Trump’s “brain trust”. This one feels especially “Stephen Miller”. It’s that cruel.

Hey, my little visit to Conspiracy World can be easily shot down. I have to produce proof. Without it, I’m as full of shit as they are. But, I bet there IS proof and plenty of it. I bet these arrogant pricks put it down in emails or texts or other social media — even if in code. And let’s not pooh-pooh accusing people of using code to spread hateful messages and associations…

It would be completely Trumpian — and completely Proud Boy — to communicate both tribal pride and tribal plans via visual signals.

In addition to bringing guns and Molotov cocktails and zip ties and other tools with them, the seditionists also brought an intent to murder — not just individual public servants (though I’m not sure Mike Pence fits that description, he’s just a rat the other rats got tired of) but the republic itself. That, really, was Trump’s target on Wednesday: he honestly believed he would end the American Democratic Experiment and install himself as boy king forever.

That’s what most of the GOP was counting on, too, apparently: their idiotic coup would succeed — and they’d never have to face the consequences their actions demanded. Donald Trump and the Republican Party really did have it in their heads for a while there that they were pulling it off. The lack of police resistance got them into the building and may even have steered them toward the places where the perps expected to find their political targets. How unfortunate for them that they tasted disappointment.

Their disappointment is about to grow bitter.

We just learned that, as they huddled together, under threat of physical violence from the insurrectionist mob, a number of the Republicans REFUSED to mask up. We don’t know yet — they haven’t told us — which of the people in the room is the “incubator” here. We need to know — were they innocently asymptomatic and unaware or were they aware they were carrying and (we’re talking about Republicans here), simply refused to tell anyone, figuring that if they infected anyone? “Mission accomplished”.

Republicans have proven they’ll do literally ANYTHING to win — including ally with a hostile foreign country — a traditional enemy — waging a CYBER WAR against us. Is it really that far-fetched that — to weaken us so as to never ever have to pay for their crime (of indeed ALLYING with that hostile foreign enemy) — the Republicans deliberately tried to infect us with coronavirus?

Shrug it off at your peril. I’m old enough to remember when saying out loud that Trump was a traitor was a reliable eye-roller.

We ain’t in that Kansas anymore, Toto.

What I Learned From Growing Up In The Holocaust’s Shadow

I was born in 1959, 14 years after the death camps were liberated. I grew up in an upper middle class Jewish suburb northwest of Baltimore, MD. I had at least one Hebrew School teacher with a number tattooed into her flesh. We did not shy away from what had just happened to us. We did not avert our eyes in shame except to tell ourselves “Never again”. And to justify our resolve to NEVER passively participate in our own genocide ever again, my community taught the Holocaust to little kids like me the moment they felt we were capable of understanding: the world hates you because of what you are. The sooner you learn this, the safer you’ll be.

I, for one, have never forgotten those lessons. I have never forgotten the look in every German eye as they gazed upon their Jewish prisoners. Forgive and forget?

Not possible. Well… history says it is possible — if not to entirely forgive and forget, then at least to do business with. It’s kinda like “Forgive & Forget Adjacent”. Hey — mea culpa! I’ve owned not one, but two autos made by Audi. And Audi has much to be ashamed about.When Audi was operating under the name Auto Union, it struck a deal with the SS, by which more than 3,700 inmates from Nazi concentration camps were put to work for the company.” Further — “Another 16,500 laborers — not interned in concentration camps — also were made to work for the car company in the Saxon cities of Zwickau and Chemnitz, in addition to 18,000 at a plant in Bavaria where more than 4,000 died…”. In the end, “Auto Union merged with Volkswagen, Audi’s parent company, in 1965, dropping the original name in 1985 after a merger… a decade ago, Audi paid millions into a fund set up by the German auto industry to compensate Nazi slave laborers and their descendants.”

I can comfort myself, I suppose, by telling myself “Well, at least they tried to do the right thing in the end”. As comfort goes, that’s pretty cold. But, what allowed American Jews to “forgive” the Germans — to stop seeing them all as ex-Nazis in hiding — was that, it appeared, the Germans stopped seeing Jews as concentration camp inmates — as cockroaches deserving of such treatment. That’s surprisingly hard to make people understand — people who’ve never been looked at as a cockroach because of what they are. It’s not an affect. It’s a straightforward, brutally honest communication from, in essence, one person’s soul to another. “Because of what you are, you are less than me“.

All animals, it seems, communicate in myriad “unspoken” ways — via body language or simply by “looking at” others a certain way. A little fish doesn’t have to literally hear “I’m going to eat you” to appreciate how loudly it’s being shouted by a big fish’s eyes. It’s there. All the little fish has to do is “read it”.

Forgiving and forgetting IS possible. There CAN BE constructive dialogue between diametrically opposed factions — but not if one of those factions (or both) look at the other with contempt. Nothing constructive can happen if one group sees the other as “cockroaches”. That’s not something most humans can really hide. Even when they try to? It’s pretty phony.

My biggest takeaways from Holocaust School were —

  • The Holocaust might have stopped — but only for now.
  • Jew hating is hard-wired into a lot of people
  • Even people who don’t act like they hate you — if you look into their eyes? They hate you
  • Never turn off your “Spidey senses”; if they tingle? It’s for a reason; REACT
  • The only way you can ever trust that a non-Jew might not despise you for being a Jew? They never look at you like you are a cockroach

Anti-Semitism — like racism and beauty — are entirely in the eye of the beholder. It’s never up to a racist to say whether they’re racist or not. How the hell would they know? They’re RACIST ffs! Ask the racist’s victim, ask the misogynist’s victim, the bigot’s victim, the anti-Semite’s victim: “Do you feel hated because of who or what you are?” If there’s even a scintilla of “yes”, that hater is whatever the hated says they are. Hate after all is an active verb.

It is perverse that, already, a big part of our conversation — in the shadow of a seditionist insurrection — is “can we forgive and forget so as to move past it?” White people, it turns out, hate having to EVER take ownership for their shit. Can’t we just forgive, forget and move on — like they did already? The problem with saying yes Not only do these scumbags now look at you like a cockroach, now they look at you like a stupid cockroach.

Trust me: that makes it worse.

When Magical Thinking Kills

That would be now. Officially. A member of the Capitol Police Department died this morning because one of the seditionist marauders attacking the US Capitol at Donald Trump’s command crushed his skull with a fire extinguisher. As we’re learning, many of these terrorists have now TURNED ON Trump because, last night, Trump was forced to make a robotic statement separating himself from the violence. They could have looked past Trump’s robotic speech; previously, they would have celebrated it — seeing the code that celebrated them embedded within. But, as Trump’s sedition army swarmed the US Congress, they BELIEVED that they were part of an actual PLAN. They believed something substantive was happening — and they were a vital part of it: the literal overthrow of the United States government.

Except Trump had no plan. He was using these mooks for a piece of self-serving Bullshit Kabuki. And they — they now realize — are being hung out to dry. Because there was no plan.

Never, ever, EVER.

The news media wants us to pity these fools the same way they wanted us to “understand” their racial hatred as economic concern. Damn, but it sucks to always be so far ahead of the news media. Apparently they’re on the same “inoculation schedule” with vaccinating us against bullshit as the Trump admin is with inoculating Americans against the coronavirus. They ARE the virus! And Donald Trump — and the rest of his Republican co-conspirators and enablers — they are the SUPER SPREADERS.

As we know from watching Americans succumb and die all around us, not wearing masks while standing in close proximity in closed, indoor spaces spreads this killer disease and yet, tens of thousands of Americans continue to do that very thing, believing nothing bad could possibly happen to them — because Magical Thinking will ward off the pathogen. Unh-unh. Viruses need our cells in order to make more viruses. They see us as cheap-ass sex motels. The more available we make the “rooms”, the more they like it — and the more they check in.

It takes no “magic” to understand the difference between a “glancing” blow” from the virus (walking past someone asymptomatic, both of you masked) and a full-on viral load — one maskless person spewing their infection right into your face because YOU are maskless. Not only will you probably get sick — unless you’re really, really lucky — you’re going to spread the virus to others until the second YOU start wearing a goddamned mask.

Magical thinking never makes anyone thinking it smarter. Take that to the bank.

Let’s be real, religion relies on magical thinking. That’s as opposed to spirituality which doesn’t. Just about every religion demands that its adherents believe at least a little bit of magic in order to make that religion’s explanations for the world make sense. Hard core Christianity relies on its adherents buying wholesale the idea that a deity can breed with a human to produce a “man-god” capable of dying for all of humanity’s “sins” — which, if they accept as absolute truth, will spare them from every dying. Christianity isn’t selling “Do unto others”. Who cares about that? Christianity’s sales pitch — its genius — is selling a way to beat death.

If you are willing to accept this mythology we’ve invented, the church says, we will guarantee you eternal life. BUT — you have to buy all the way in to get that eternal life. You can’t question any of the mythology, its rules, its logic, its bizarre inconsistencies, its factual history, its language even. If you do any of that, the magical “you won’t ever die” spell gets (magically) broken. And you’ll only ever have yourself to blame.

So, you’ll go to hell.

The problem with this example isn’t so much “Christianity” as the people who hijacked Jesus’s message early on and then pretended that THEIR message was Jesus’s.

If we consider how many Christians Christianity has killed — because one group thinks the pope is infallible while the other thinks “what pope?” — it makes it hard to see how Jesus has influenced much of anyone’s “thinking”. Never mind their “doing unto others”. The church understood early on — as religious institutions had before and since — if you want to sell a religion, you need some serious sizzle. Even if it’s all sound effects — because there’s literally no steak — that works for religion. Smoke plus mirrors equals belief.

Meanwhile, here in the real world…

We could use way more doing unto others. There’s no magic to it. There’s just the doing of it which, frankly, can be hard.

Way harder than thinking magically. That thinking magic is real. That things happen “just because”.

On Wednesday, we experienced first hand, live on our televisions, how terrifying magical thinking can be when set loose on the rest of the unsuspecting world. That was magical thinking firing a shot across our bow. If we don’t respond — squashing that magical thinking — it will spread, as magical thinking does (Google the classic work “Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds”). These Trumpanistas — former and current — see or have seen Trump as a literal man-god — it’s there in their social media.

While shaking our heads in disbelief, it’s not inappropriate to give these “useful idiots” a moment of pity — before moving forward with purpose to punish the shit out of them. Most everyone else resisted bullshit’s tug. They need to learn better how to resist. A prison cell may not be the best teacher but, for right now, it’s all we got.

We need to punish magical thinking when it oversteps its place — the heads of those thinking it. Belief in bullshit is, unfortunately, a protected thing. Practice of that bullshit in the public sphere however is NOT protected — especially when it kills other people.

That’s magical thinking’s bottom line: it’s bullshit. I understand how hard a habit bullshit is to break. My habit almost killed me.

We cannot let the bullshit habit of these magical thinkers to kill one more American.

Next: “When Dumbass Coup d’Etats Fail”…

The Reason “Both Sides Do It” Is Bad Journalism

In the “Pantheon Of Wrongheaded Common Wisdom”, “Both Sides Do It” is king, queen and the rest of the demented Spanish Aristocracy. It takes a nubbin of “maybe” and makes it incontrovertible fact. Bad behavior does not belong to any political party. Yes, both sides are physically capable of doing things they shouldn’t and then lying about them to keep from being revealed. Historically, both sides have “done those things”. But (and here’s where “both sides do it” hits a wall and loses), if we put it all on a scale and measured the two piles of awfulness against each other? As with right here, right now, Republican-brand awfulness is exponentially worse for America than Democratic-brand awfulness in large part BECAUSE THERE’S SO MUCH MORE OF IT!

Proportion and perspective are two things “Both Sides Do It” journalism jettisons from the get-go. It says a thief is a thief is a thief — regardless of whether it’s Bernie Madoff stealing billions because he’s a greedy pig or Jean Valjean stealing bread to feed hungry people. “Both sides ‘do it’.” See what I mean? Though theoretically correct, it is absolutely wrong in its framing because it equates two things that shouldn’t be equated.

I’ve worked as a journalist. I’ve been held to journalistic standards. In the absence of hard evidence, one must be skeptical. That’s SKEPTICAL as opposed to CYNICAL. There is a difference.

If your starting point for every story is “both sides do it”, you’re not being skeptical about human beings, you’re being cynical; you’re assuming the very worst for no reason other than you’re assuming it. Authoritarians want the population they control to be deeply cynical — making authoritarianism the only means to control all that irredeemable, inevitable bad behavior. When the press equates an act of extreme corruption with Joe Citizen claiming a few deductions he’s not entitled to — that puts a smile on a cynic’s face.

“See?” he’ll say, smiling, “Both sides do it!”

Take this to the bank, American news media: both sides DON’T do it and never have. You need to expunge “Both Sides Do It” from your way of thinking — from your brains entirely. That’s not a helpful suggestion, that’s a demand. Going forward, America needs “moral journalism”. I don’t mean phony “moralistic” journalism puked out by phony journalists who place themselves above the fray (though both sides “do it”, they apparently don’t), I mean journalists who bring perspective to work every day.

This is not an impossibility. MSNBC has multiple journalists hosting multiple shows that DON’T “Both Sides Do It” — Ali Velshi (an awesome journalist), Nicolle Wallace (fearless as hell!), Rachel Maddow (relentless and so articulate), Joy-Ann Reid (equally relentless). So, it IS possible for news networks to hire and keep journalists on their roster who DO bring perspective to work with them every day. But they also have Chuck Todd — the King of “Both Sides Do It”. They have other reporters like Stephanie Ruhl (who, though excellent when reporting on the financial world, gets lost in “Both Sides Do It” the instant she turns to reporting politics) — let’s call them “Both Sides Adjacent”. And they have Kelly O’Donnell — the QUEEN of “Both Sides Do It”.

“Both Sides Do It” refuses to take sides — even when there are no sides to take other than “pro-democracy” and “pro-athoritarianism” and the pro-authoritarian side accuses the news media of being fake. To accept that statement because you dare not get involved is to validate bullshit — even if that’s not the intent. THAT’S the biggest, baddest ripple effect rolling off of “Both Sides Do It’s” cynicism — the validation of bullshit.

Want to know why America felt so ripped apart at the end of the Trump years? Because we were facing the terrible consequences every day of being told the lie — that both sides would take us to this same, awful place.

Want to know why this morning feels so wonderful — on top of the change in leadership coming less than two weeks from now? Because we now look forward to breathing air that doesn’t stink of bullshit. That doesn’t stink of “both sides doing it”.

The Democrats Have A “Back Door” To Controlling The Senate — Via A Rejuvenated Department Of Justice

Let’s assume the worst case scenario for the sake of argument: Republicans “win” both Georgia Senate seats today. In light of Republicans’ penchant for cheating in order to “win” elections and their refusal to acknowledge losing should their cheating not prevail, any Republican victory (even in deeply red counties) must now be viewed skeptically. In fact, they should all be viewed the way smart people are now viewing Mitch McConnell’s string of blow out victories in Kentucky — a state where he’s only slightly more popular than rectal cancer. But, let’s say Mitch returns as Senate Majority Leader, determined to stand in the way of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and pretty much every American.

Are we really looking at four years of worsening decline with a deadlocked Congress? In the first few weeks — yes, that’s a distinct possibility. But then things will begin to change — and Mitch’s hold on absolute power (a ludicrous amount of power for a Senate Majority Leader to have over the whole country ffs!) will wane and then disappear entirely. Now, I’ll lay down my caveat here — but I do believe this caveat is actually a fait accompli already. The Democrats are going to play hardball like they’ve never played it before. They no longer have a choice.

There is simply no way to “forgive and forget” what the Republican Party — and it IS the party as a whole — until the party as a whole experiences complete and total contrition. They must confess to everything, start to finish, top to bottom, side to corrupt side. They must tell us about all the conversations about demographics and the extinction of their hold on power. This coup d’etat didn’t just happen; it was planned. It may not have been planned like this — but the idea existed before Donald Trump and his friend Vladimir presented themselves as the best possible vehicle to get the Republican Party the PERMANENT MINORITY RULE it intended to impose upon the country forever if possible.

That is the goal here. That’s why Mitch worked so relentlessly to deny Barack Obama all those judges — Merrick Garland included. The point of the exercise: seize the judiciary first.

The GOP “brain trust” recognized that if not for the Electoral College and slavery’s vote, Republicans would never win the White House ever again. That’s why keeping the EC alive is sooooooooo important to them. Playing the EC is the only way to keep the executive branch in their hands; Trump just lost the popular vote, remember, by more than SEVEN MILLION VOTES. The GOP knows — without the EC or cheating or other “extraordinary measures ” (Bush v Gore comes to mind), the Republican Party might never win a presidency ever again.

As for Congress… well, the House is the most direct representation Americans have on the federal level. It’s really the only direct representation we have there (until we remove or disempower the EC). Yes, we directly elect Senators now (we didn’t used to), but the power the majority of voters get from the Senate is mitigated by the Senate’s structure which gives way more representation to rural real estate than it does urban voters. That empowerment of the minority is the reason Republicans don’t want Washington, DC or Puerto Rico to become states. Adding four likely Democratic Senators would automatically flip the current Senate to Democratic control. Hey — ever wonder why we have TWO DAKOTAS?

The Senate’s structure also keeps slavery’s thumb in our eye. That’s a stone cold fact. We’ve been here before. Let’s keep some perspective, please.

Mitch is counting on keeping the Senate. Losing it outright will be catastrophic for him and pretty much every Republican. It will speed up what’s going to happen past the point where Mitch — or any Republican — can control what’s going to happen.

To begin with, as Vice President, Kamala Harris has some powers in the Senate that have rarely been used in the past but they’re there. And if the Democrats intend to play hard ball, they’ll use Kamala in part like a great utility infielder who also hits for average. Multi-tasking, she’ll assume the additional duties required of a vice-president in the current chaotic environment. But, she’ll also have to assume those additional powers the Senate’s rules give her.

Mitch’s two vote majority should be thought of as a one-vote majority. Kamala’s vote — as president of the Senate — should be held at the ready because Mitch won’t be able to hold his majority together the way he used to; Donald Trump won’t be there backstopping the corruption. That will matter. So will the economic ruin left to us by Trump.

Thirty four Senate seats will be up in 2022. Of those, 12 seats were held by Democrats and 22 were held by Republicans as of November 2020. That’s twice as much pressure on the Republicans to perform as it is on the Democrats. Just as 2020 was not a normal election, neither will 2022 be normal. We’ll still be dealing with all the fallout from the Trump presidency — in large part because a rejuvenated Department of Justice will have been asking certain people (Republicans mostly) some very hard questions UNDER OATH — questions those Republicans had to answer and could not squirm out of because THIS DoJ is out for justice and its bite has teeth.

Also — even if Team Biden did NOTHING, their response to the pandemic could not possibly be worse. Come Spring and Summer as (hopefully — with warmer weather and less indoor crowding and a more competently rolled out vaccination program) we emerge slowly from Covid-19’s terrible shadow, no one will look backward to the Trump Administration with praise and thank you’s. That will all be reserved for the people who actually started the process of alleviating our suffering — the Democrats and Team Biden. At the same time, don’t forget, money will flow to Americans. We’ll get more than just painfully inadequate one-time checks for $600. Even if Mitch stands in the way, he will not have every one of his fellow Republican pirates standing with him.

Those Republican Senators up for re-election in 2022 will have to think about getting re-elected by people who are suffering, starving and desperate. And getting angrier by the day. And getting inundated — by the day — with stories of continuing Republican corruption.

That’s the bottom line here: America is tired of Republican corruption. No — we’re enraged by it now. We’re woke to it. And we will not accept it or tolerate it ever again.

Donald Trump has made it an imperative that we investigate his attempt to strong arm Georgia’s Attorney General. Even if that was ALL Trump did, it would be disastrous for him and his party — who are now standing as literal co-conspirators in an act of open sedition. Remember — every one of these traitors will be questioned UNDER OATH. Sure, they can demure and get all bitchy about their rights, but they still have to answer questions — or sit their soft, white asses in jail.

And, trust me here, those soft, white asses will not do well sitting in jail. Those soft, white asses will (pardon the pun) “crack”. They’ll see the handwriting on the jailhouse wall — and their names in that handwriting. They’ll see generational ruin for their family and their family’s fortunes; that’s what happens to traitors — no one invites them to play reindeer games anymore. Hanging out with pariahs is bad for business.

The rejuvenated Department of Justice will also re-open the counter-intelligence investigations into Trump’s relationship with Russia that Rod Rosenstein killed. That, right there, will terrify pretty much every single Republican because they all knew — or suspected at least — even before they made Trump their nominee in 2016 that he was OWNED BY VLADIMIR PUTIN. As current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it as he walked into a meeting of Republican leaders a month before their 2016 convention: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God”. As then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan responded: “Let’s keep that ‘in the family’.”

Everyone in that room needs to answer questions about what happened there and why no one called the FBI — as they absolutely should have. Devin Nunes needs to be interrogated — under oath — about virtually everything he’s done since Trump became POTUS. Same goes for Lindsey Graham (he needs to explain his total one-eighty on Trump). Same goes for Bill Barr and Mike Pompeo.

Same goes for the SEVEN SITTING SENATORS who had dinner in MOSCOW the evening of July 4, 2018: Ron Johnson (WI), Richard C. Shelby (AL.), Steve Daines (MT.), John Hoeven (ND), John Neely Kennedy (LA.), Jerry Moran (KS.), John Thune (SD) — plus Rep. Kay Granger (TX). Each and every one needs to answer questions UNDER OATH about why they went to Moscow on that most American of holidays. We The People need to know what went down. Was the vodka cold enough? How about the borscht — was it fresh? Most importantly, what about the treason — was it served piping hot, the way every one of those traitors likes it?

These Republican secrets will cease to be secrets. The stories they tell about Republican corruption will explode, each more damning then what came before. This will all be added to our understanding of what happened in 2016 — of how the election’s actual outcome (the thing We The People voted for) was literally STOLEN from us. We will learn that Russia won the election for Trump in 2016; without their direct impact on the election’s result, Donald Trump would never have been in the White House.

As each Republican Senator (and House member) suddenly faces legal jeopardy in the extreme (we WILL be talking TREASON after all — Russia is conducting an active cyber war against us and cyber war, we’ll have to acknowledge, is just as much a “war” as a the old fashioned “bombs and bullets” kind), they will be forced to step away from their Senatorial duties to see to their legal defense full time. There won’t be any good explanations for WHY these Republicans sided with RUSSIA over us. There won’t be any good explanations either for why these Republicans sought to overturn this election’s outcome.

Aside from five states — North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and Oregon, the governor can fill a suddenly vacated Senate seat however they like (in some cases up until a scheduled election). That, right there, could flip the Senate’s balance. If the Senate’s not in Democratic control after today? Put the money on corruption culling the Republican herd.

Again — this assumes that the Democrats play hardball every day and in every way they can. While dinosaurs like Diane Feinstein might still regard her Republican colleagues with nostalgic fondness, hers is a shrinking position. Her position will literally vanish — and those friendships will become toxic — as the questioning of Republicans begins.

The News Media’s Failure Of Imagination Is Killing Our Democracy

We live in a news world where a big slice of the news audience is better informed about what’s happening than the news people reporting the news. Maybe that’s because, unlike the news media, those of us in the cheap seats — untouched by the whorish need for access — can see all the players for who and what they are rather than what they can do for our careers. You’d think a crisis like this would force every person calling themselves “a journalist” to set aside the old rules of engagement. You’d think a man relentlessly lying to their faces for four plus years would eventually cause some sort of dynamic response. Aside from scratching their heads harder and longer? Most journalists have learned exactly nothing from their experience with Donald Trump.

Eventually, we’ll understand why most of our news media couldn’t aggregate the Donald Trump story which would have had them reporting on Trump as a stone cold criminal even before he was sworn in — just like Fusion GPS sorta kinda did. Fusion, the commercial research/political intelligence firm founded by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, was hired in 2016 by the publishers of Jeb Bush-backing Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump. As Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 27, 2017, before beginning their formal work, Fusion did its due diligence: they got their hands on every piece of publicly available material they could on Donald Trump. They got and read magazine pieces, newspaper articles, they listened to radio interviews, watched TV shows and movie appearances. They spent a fortune on Amazon, visited actual book stores and even went to the public library to find what they needed. What Fusion found there — in publicly available material that ANY reporter could find (had they the motivation) — convinced them so completely that Donald Trump was a money laundering criminal in league with the Russian mob that they went and hired an English company called Orbis because its owner used to work for the British MI6 and had the best contacts bar none inside Russia.

Fusion demonstrated imagination — and did something about it. So did Christ Steele. When HE looked inside Russia to answer Fusion’s questions, he was deeply troubled by the answers coming back. He was even more troubled when the American government failed to heed his red flag warning that Russian intelligence was coming at us, cyber war style and we were doing nothing to stop them.

Because HE had imagination — and could extrapolate not only what Russia was doing but what our non-response to it was doing consequently — Chris Steele did everything in his power to put his work product (raw intelligence!) into the right American hands that could process it correctly and react accordingly and do it now.

Failure of imagination has haunted the American press especially where the threat of right wing terrorism is concerned. How easily do American journalists prick up their ears every time a Republican shouts “socialism” compared to when a Republican behaves like an authoritarian shit? They’ll jump right into a discussion about single payer universal health care with “But, isn’t that socialism?” but never even think to question Republicans and the legality and morality of their actively engaging in voter suppression. That, too, is failure of imagination.

When our news media failed to remind its news audience every day of the 2020 campaign that, for the first time in American history, a president was running for re-election having been IMPEACHED for CHEATING in the very same election in which he was running, that was a failure of imagination. When they relentlessly wondered aloud why Trump so relentless sucked up to Vlad Putin — their inability to answer their own question was a failure of imagination. That the news media even now can say that what Trump is doing is treasonous — and yet still ask aloud “Will he run again in 2024” is proof that they are utterly incapable of imagining a functional and functioning Department of Justice.

You’d think the possibility of making one’s bones on the greatest story anyone will ever get to cover would inspire more journalists to journalistic greatness. But to see oneself winning a Peabody or a Pulitzer takes incredible imagination (if one really has a shot at one).

No wonder achieving that kind of journalistic greatness can only ever be a dream for them — requiring imagination. Some circles are just plain vicious.