Our News Media Reports Corruption The Way Corruption Wants

Yesterday, Lawrence O’Donnell focused a segment of his show “The Last Word” on a tweet thread published by former Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times editor Mark Jacob. Having left the field of “official” journalism — the bubble in which most American journalists live, breathe and work — Jacob has come to see that the neutrality he thought was a hallmark of American journalism was actually a trap. Each and every time a reporter “balanced” something a Democrat said with something a Republican said, they weren’t actually presenting two equally valid points. The mistake “both sides do it” brand journalism makes automatically is in assuming that any two points of view — regardless of what they are — are equally valid even if one is based entirely on facts and the other entirely on feelings. It’s not for the journalist to judge validity, says the “both sides do it” school. That’s for their readers or viewers to decide!

Not a revelation: if you automatically give credence to bullshit, then bullshit instantly becomes credible when credible is the last thing bullshit is. But, if the news media is doing it, bullshit instantly gains at least a patina of Truth. So long as bullshit “could” be true, we’re all doomed. The moment you give bullshit the benefit of the doubt, doubt becomes the core operating principle and doubt is meat & potatoes to a fascist. Fascists, having created the doubt, step forward as its only real cure. That is precisely what the Republican Party is doing right here, right now.

For better or worse, Americans have short memories when it comes to history. At least, white Americans do. Our news media has always serviced white America’s short memory while insisting no other group’s memories (or stories) have equal validity or value. How many white Americans had ever heard of “Black Wall Street” before Black Lives Matter began to matter? Prior to the internet, the only people holding a megaphone were the media companies. They alone had the means to broadcast information far and wide. While there was less competition, at least most of the messages were relatively consistent and kept to a consistent narrative.

The advent of the twenty-four hour news cycle created both a new market for information and a monster. Filling that maw twenty-four-seven is a challenge. Or, at least it was until Donald Trump forced his way into the conversation and hijacked it. Our news media adore Trump. He’s driven their ratings to record levels. He’s made them richer than they were. And, as we all know, success teaches us only that our shit doesn’t stink when, in fact, it does. The word Jacob uses is “lazy”. Success makes people lazy. When you walk in the door lazy — as too many American journalists do, their laziness exacerbated by “both sides do it” thinking — you’re only going to get more lazy with time, as our news media has.

Donald Trump was demonstrably unethical in virtually everything he did and said. Hell, Trump’s projected most if not all of his criminality onto everyone else — a standard bully tactic. According to the Washington Post, Trump lied (or, in the WaPo’s softened version “mislead”) 30,573 times (as of January 24, 2021). You’d think after three or four times, journalists would “catch on” that Trump is “an unreliable witness” even to his own life. If you had even a modicum of analytical skills, surely you’d start connecting dots — adding verifiable information together to form a picture upon which you build an evolving narrative. After about five thousand lies, say, you’d stop giving this liar any sort of benefit of the doubt because the data says odds are, whatever just tumbled from Trump’s mouth, it’s not true. Rather than repeating everything Trump says verbatim — because he’s the POTUS — you’d contextualize this POTUS before any reporting began.

“While most presidents tell something like the truth most of the time, Donald Trump never tells the truth ever — even when confronted with it and — with that in mind — here’s what the liar-in-chief said today…”. Over the top, you think? Maybe in the olden days when Saint Ronnie Reagan was doing the lying. Today? It’s an understatement. Our news media set itself (and us) up for failure the moment they took up the “both sides do it” mantle. But it’s “both sides do it” thinking that caused our news media to quickly normalize “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy-grabbing” because “But her emails!”

Stone cold fact: no one — no one — in the Republican Party (with two exceptions perhaps) is an honest actor. As I’ve squawked here time and time again, the GOP knew even before they nominated Trump in 2016 that he was owned by Russia. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said so out loud as he entered a meeting of GOP leaders on June 15, 2016 (the meeting was recorded and the recording played for Washington Post reporter Adam Entous a year later): “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in the room questioned the statement. No one rushed to Trump’s defense. No one doubt the statement’s veracity. No one called the FBI. Instead, per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s demand, they all agreed to keep this secret a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family,” said Ryan.

Though this conversation was reported first by the Washington Post in 2017, virtually no one in the press has gone back to it — even with the perspective of everything that followed it (including Trump’s “odd” relationship with Putin). The one time the press did ask McCarthy about it, McCarthy issued the standard response: “I was joking”.

Take this to the bank and prepare to get rich: no, he wasn’t.

Not everyone has a sense of humor. That’s a fact. What marks the presence of a sense of humor in people is their ability to laugh at themselves. For real! If you can’t laugh at yourself (but can only laugh at others), that’s not having a “sense of humor”, it’s being a bully. Not the same thing, right? Bullies laugh plenty — but only at other people and at other peoples’ expense. Having no sense of humor, a person like Donald Trump can’t see irony. Literally. It’s like the rest of us trying to see x-ray and gamma ray light with our eyeballs — they’re not equipped to see those kinds of light. So, when a bully like Kevin McCarthy says “I was joking”, he’s not.

Ah, but when our news media assumes everyone’s doing it — and everyone has a sense of humor — then we get cruelty reported as “humor” in the interest of “fairness”. When our news media refuses to discern truth tellers from bullshit artists, we get the distorted view of ourselves the news media presents and calls “truth”.

How one frames a story IS the story. Journalism is storytelling in real time. It’s goal should be exactly the same: to get at the core “why” inside every human action. Even if someone can’t articulate why they do something, there is a very real “why”; no one ever does anything “just because”. Our news media — incapable of adding information to a narrative (especially if it contradicts “conventional wisdom”) keeps returning to a bizarre “square one” every day. Whereas the framing of the story we’re living through should START with Republican corruption front and center — with Donald Trump’s treasonous behavior in the middle of it — our news media starts each day scratching their heads about the perverse hold Trump has over the Republican Party.

Yeah, yeah — Trump’s base plays a part. But that’s only if you discount the possibility that people might do things for the right reasons and not the expedient ones. To understand Trump and his presidency, you must remove your “normalcy bias blinders”. You have to appreciate what Fusion GPS appreciated when — after doing their due diligence prior to beginning their oppo research on Trump (initially for the conservative owners of the Washington Free Beacon) — they became convinced that Trump had used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money (for which Trump was repeatedly fined!) That’s a crime!

Fusion subcontracted their research into Trump’s Russian connections out to Orbis, the company run by respected, former MI6 Russia Desk jockey Christopher Steele because Steele had solid connections inside Russia — the context being that we’re talking about the “secret world” where you have to discern any smoking guns through the fog of deception. If our news media had done the same due diligence Fusion did — if they had aggregated the Trump story (especially their own reporting!) — our picture of Trump would be entirely different from what it is right now. For sure we wouldn’t be asking if Trump’s a racist or a rapist — the facts say “yes, he absolutely is, stop asking about it!”

We wouldn’t wonder “is Trump corrupt?” or “Is the GOP?” We wouldn’t ask why Putin and Russia still have such a grip on Trump and the GOP. We wouldn’t ask “will Trump run in 2024?” like he was some “normal” presidential candidate. Instead — because our news media had been fulfilling its Constitutionally mandated role as our final check on power’s corrupting influence — we’d already be at the part where a treasonous POTUS and his equally treasonous political party were being called out for who and what they really are by our press, while our Department of Justice was actively prosecuting them for same — because what they’re doing is criminal (for a political purpose), not political.

Depression Is Like “Thought Cancer”

Slowly — too slowly — our culture is beginning to understand that depression isn’t just one person feeling blue because their life sucks. It’s a health issue with causes and effects that can be treated and ameliorated. The human brain is, by far, the most complex, complicated organ in our bodies. It’s also the organ we understand the least. Inside our skulls, 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) [are] interconnected by trillions of connections, called synapses. On average, each connection transmits about one signal per second. Some specialized connections send up to 1,000 signals per second. Our synapses work like digital circuits; they’re either open or closed. If they’re open, electrical currents can travel across them — and information moves right along with the current. “Somehow… that’s producing thought,” says Charles Jennings, director of neurotechnology at the MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research. As ethereal as our thoughts feel, they probably have a physical form — some kind of encoding sequence “burned into” storage areas of our brains. These storage areas — dispersed across our grey matter — link up as we think associatively — connecting immediate stimuli to memories of similar stimuli.

In a happy world where only happy thoughts filtered into our brains, our brains would (one hopes) process only happiness and happiness is all we’d feel and “know”. Alas, Life doesn’t work that way. Even getting through a morning can produce the full gamut of thought possibilities. Some Life experiences leave behind more than just their physical imprint on our neural networks They leave behind darkness. Depression.

If happy thoughts produce lightness in our heads, depression produces its opposite. And, mind you, just like with cancer, there’s more than one kind of depression. Not all darkness is created equal. What Shakespeare called “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” can leave scars on our bodies and in our minds. I was sexually assaulted twice when I was fourteen by the religious director at the synagogue where my family belonged outside of Baltimore. The second instance was especially harmful because (having kept the secret that first time), I believed I was therefore responsible for there being a second time. Somehow, this information imprinted deeply into my brain — not just that it happened but that it happened for a complicated reason for which I was responsible. That’s a lot of abstraction spread across various parts of my brain. But, that abstraction became my darkness — and that darkness haunted me even though I denied its existence.

When does a terrible incident transition into depression inside our brains? What causes that depression to “metastasize” from “sad thoughts” into increasingly self-destructive behavior? I treated this memory of being sexually assaulted like a secret only I (and my attacker) would or could know. That’s why there was a second time, remember? Despite being sexually assaulted once, I said nothing, told no one. That must have been the case — from my attacker’s point of view — since he still had a job and wasn’t in jail. As I walked in the door that second time, he knew he was safe — and knew he could do it again. So, he did.

This particular memory — this collection of information plus perspective plus all other associations connected to it — behaved exactly like a slow-moving cancer. Plenty of other bad memories become “cancerous” in that they interfere with your life in potentially fatal ways. Just like our immune system regularly deals with low level cancers all the time, our brains find ways of, if not healing the cancerous thoughts, at least containing them and the damage done. Talk therapy went a long way toward mitigating a lot of the depression caused by my sexual assault. Unfortunately, until I dealt with that cancer directly, I was never going to put my cancer into remission.

In my case, this “thought cancer” destroyed my ability to relate to other people with confidence. It’s not that I didn’t or couldn’t trust them, it’s that I had a secret that they could never know — and if they didn’t know that secret about me, they couldn’t possibly know “me”. This put me on an emotional island I didn’t even know I was on. I had friends but never close friends; that is, they felt closeness to me that I couldn’t feel toward them because, down deep, I couldn’t understand why they’d want to BE my friend when, the dark, dirty truth was, I was undeserving of anyone’s friendship. Because of what I did.

Three days before Christmas 2016 — my cancer suddenly metastasizing at an even more alarming rate — I came within literal inches of killing myself. My darkness, my thought cancer, had blocked out all perspective. I had become convinced that my family and friends — my community — would go on same as it was just fine without me. That would not have been the case at all, certainly not with my wife and kids. But, that’s the insidious thing about “thought cancer”. Like a tumor does, depression becomes part of the architecture. The body starts feeding it blood — like it belonged there. The tumor’s essence flows into you and, like a virus, sets about turning you into it.

In my case, I convinced myself that because I’d been sexually assaulted, I deserved every other rotten thing that happened. Including death. Talk about bullshit.

My path out of the darkness and back up into reality began with talk therapy. Acknowledging the need for help was essential to both getting help and being helped. But, I was still keeping that secret from myself — literally denying that such a thing had ever happened to me. I needed even more help — that was my suicide attempt. I had feared mood stabilizers because of the reasons above: we have a “guestimate” understanding of how our brains work but an even bigger gap in understanding how exactly these drugs work in our individual brains. I grew up in a medical family; my dad was a surgeon. I know the culture. I know that my GP doesn’t have a background in these meds — not their fault. Most likely, they’d prescribe whatever the last Big Pharma rep left behind last time she visited and handed out samples. I wanted to deal with my depression while leaving my hypomania alone mostly (that’s where my creativity resides — I’m bi-polar too) and had found lamotrigine (lamictil). The anecdotal information available while I was Googling back in 2014 and 2015 was scant compared to now. At higher doses (I’ve since researched), lamotrigine can impact one’s hypomania. But, I got lucky.

Boy, did I get lucky. Immediately after my attempt — knowing I needed more help than just talk therapy — I drove straight to my GP and told them everything. I told them what happened — but not why because I didn’t know that yet. I told them I’d researched lamotrigine. My GP (and the head doctor — I got a lot of attention) whipped out their smart phones to look it up for themselves. By that point, they’d asked me three times if perhaps I should be hospitalized. I assured them that if trying medication didn’t help then, yes — I’d agree to be hospitalized. They wrote the script.

I went hope, told my family what I was planning — they signed off on it (they were even more desperate than I was that I get help) and I took my first 25 milligram dose. That’s when luck really kicked in. Within 36 hours at that minimal dose, I levelled. I literally felt the darkness lose its power to control me.

My rage was explosive back then. Though usually self-directed, my rage could just as easily be pointed at something stupid I heard on the radio or LA traffic. I don’t remember what set it off that time but the rage erupted in my gut and began to funnel upward with increasing velocity. I was quite prepared for it to hit my throat and — per usual — explode out of me in waves of angry, vituperative spew. But, this time, just as the rage went to explode, instead, it dissipated like a soap bubble popping. I knew I had felt this incredible anger but, just when I expected to really FEEL it? Nada. It was gone except for the (already) fading memory of it.

This was liberating! After the exact same thing happened again several hours later, I understood exactly how the mood stabilizer was stabilizing my moods.

With my depression no longer in charge — no longer able to derail me and my emotions, I could begin the real process of healing. In my case, I could begin to address the eight thousand kiloton gorilla sitting on my chest: my secret.

Long story short: I did confront my secret and confronting it hurt like a mofo. But, confronting that secret — talking about it finally — took away literally all its power over me. Writing about it was even more healing.

I haven’t removed my darkness, I’ve disempowered it. It still lurks within and it knows the power it has over me. If this was “cancer” cancer, I’d change my diet to keep it at bay or alter my lifestyle as necessary. Thought cancer requires the same pro-active measures.

I don’t think for two seconds that I’ve “beaten” this thought cancer. I’ve just figured out how to live with it — and find happiness while living with it. That’s the good news on the subject: there is hope. Lots and lots of it.

Breaking News: Progressives Are Now, Officially, The “Adults In The Room”

Remember back in the olden days — during the 2016 election — when progressives were universally viewed as crackpots? Remember when universal basic income was understood to be a pipe dream that could never work in the real world? Remember when universal, single-payer health CARE and free pre-k and community college for all were things that other countries did but that Americans (being rugged individuals) would never tolerate or want so why bother thinking about them? Remember when America simply took for granted that most Americans didn’t care about voting in anything but presidential elections (where, even then, only half of America reliably voted)? Remember when progressives rolled their eyes at the very thought of Joe Biden being president? Funny how Life changes, yeah? It’s now the Progressives who have hoisted Joe Biden and his agenda — mostly the Progressives’ agenda — onto their backs and set themselves on a forced march from which they will not be deterred because they know: tens of millions of Americans are counting on them to do the right thing. Meanwhile, all around them, chaos rules. The similarity to a schoolyard is downright shocking. Good thing there are adults here to supervise.

As we stand here today, the only political entity with a clearly stated agenda is the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. The Congressional Progressive Caucus focuses on these seven planks:

• Provide COVID Relief that Meets the Scale of the Crisis and Addresses the Disproportionate Harm to Black, Indigenous, People of Color and Other Vulnerable Communities

• Put People Back to Work, Give Workers More Power, and Transform to a Clean Renewable Energy Economy.

• Ensure Health Care for Everyone

• Defend and Expand Voting Rights, Strengthen Democracy and End Corruption

• Dismantle Racism, White Supremacy and Inequality in All Institutions

• End Endless Wars and Invest in Diplomacy and Peace

• End Corporate Greed and Corporate Monopolies

There’s actually way more than seven big ideas in there. But, every single one is good and worth pursuing because they’ll produce a better America where the rising tide floats every single boat. That Progressive ideal isn’t anathema to most Americans. Quite the contrary. 62% of Americans “somewhat or strongly support passing both President Biden’s Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan together using budget reconciliation.” Not only do most Americans want what Progressives want, they want President Biden to use whatever means necessary to get that legislation passed and the government working FOR them. That, really, is the Progressive “Big Idea”: that government — being us — is obligated above all to be there for us in whatever ways we want or need it to be there. THAT is the nature of a democracy. We govern ourselves for our mutual benefit. Yes, there are individual rights, but where individual rights and the groups’ rights butt heads, the group must almost always win.

Rugged individuals couldn’t care less about governing. They have it in their heads that no one should have the power to govern them — or regulate them — or even tell them “no”. They’ve got a ten year old boy’s idea of freedom: “You’re not the boss of me!” Being little boys without the brain structures to comprehend the consequences of their actions, they don’t understand that freedom isn’t even remotely free — and can’t be. Freedom comes with great bennies but also great responsibilities. It’s a package deal however. That’s what people on the right either forget or ignore. They want their rights but couldn’t give a flaming fig if you get yours. What that really means is they don’t care about rights period. They want what they want and they intend to take it.

In our current argument, the Progressives, the Democratic Party and the majority of Americans are being held hostage by two things: the Republican Party (a given) and the Democratic Party’s “moderate wing”.

The Republican Party is now so far gone that Liz Cheney is considered a heretic. If not for our news media’s rabid insistence that Republicans are all still “honest actors”, we might already be miles further down this story’s tortured road. The majority of Republicans now insist that Joe Biden stole the election from Donald Trump (the ultimate enfant terrible because he’s also a traitor). They know for a fact that this is bullshit but insist it’s true anyway. Adult behavior, that is not. Adult behavior in the GOP could have reasserted itself — should have asserted itself — before they nominated Trump. They had the perfect out to remove him from their midst; and they could have looked damned patriotic while doing it.

June 15, 2016 — a room somewhere in or near the Capitol. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a meeting of Republican leaders and says — out loud (it was recorded!) — “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Afraid that the conversation would continue, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan insisted that the subject remain a secret between them. “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.” All anyone had to do was call the FBI with what must have been some pretty substantial (and substantiated) suspicions. Even if they were just suspicions, they owed it to their oaths of office to DO something — other than keep a secret like a mafia family.

The Republicans know for a fact that but for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have become president. Take Russia out of the 2016 equation and Donald Trump doesn’t get past the primaries. He never gets into the game to begin with and why would he? The last thing on earth a crook wants is undue attention on where his money came from. When the Trumps realized that connecting their money to Russia (as Junior did here) was a bad idea, they stopped talking about it. They never stopped taking the money though. Our news media have worn divots into their scalps from scratching their heads so hard as they ponder “what is Trump’s hold over the Republican Party?” Sure, sure — Trump’s base can play havoc come primary time. Are Republicans that craven that hanging onto a job “trumps” their integrity? Oh, look — in the woods — there’s a pile of bear shit!

Republicans aren’t just politically craven, they’re outright criminal. Our news media — and the moderate wing of the Democratic Party — have softened those criminal edges into a “political point of view”. That’s what circumventing the Will Of The People in a democratic republic is: criminal. It’s an attempt to subvert the Peoples’ will toward some other entity’s will. That is completely against the law — a thing Progressives have always recognized but, at long last, are getting to shout from the rooftops. A political party dedicated to ending American democracy (against the will of the majority) is not a political party, it’s a criminal enterprise. Their actions aren’t political, they’re criminal acts for a political purpose but criminal acts above all. Bottom line: the Republicans are now criminals. Their agenda is a criminal agenda and their end game (the end of the greatest experiment ever in human self-government) a betrayal. They represent racism, misogyny, bigotry and permanent (white) minority rule. I’ll sum it up for us: evil.

What the Republican Party stands for is evil.

So, why do moderate Democrats want to compromise with them? Do moderate Democrats — that’s what Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are in theory — actually believe that Democrats should negotiate with people out to destroy the very democracy we’re talking about? What would the compromise with such a point of view be? We sell “part” of our democracy down the river? We sell out some Americans to the benefit of other Americans? We float some boats but not all boats?

That IS what moderates are demanding — that Democrats (whose agenda the majority supports) should negotiate away things the electorate wants in order to gain… what? The tell that one side is negotiating from bullshit’s point of view is that they talk about a number — like $3.5 trillion — like it wasn’t connected to policies meant to help Americans — the “Of the People, by the People and for the People” Lincoln was talking about. “That number’s too big!” is a bullshit statement because it doesn’t qualify what it means. Too big for what? Too big compared to what? Too big from whose point of view?

Moderates, apparently, see “too big” from the Republican point of view — a criminal point of view that sees government service as a way for the government (tax dollars) to service THEM. Our dumb-as-dirt news media insist that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema represent some “point of view” that has a valid point (and wouldn’t it be swell if some reporter actually pinned either of those two down on whose point of view they’re actually repping here). What point of view could possibly weigh more than the point of view of their constituents? See where I’m going? It’s exactly where Joe & Kyrstan stand — up to their necks in corruption.

In our current political environment, America stands poised at a crossroads. We will go one way or the other. There is no middle ground, no moderation. In one direction lies the authoritarian shithole of Republican wet dreams. In the other is the America as yet unrealized where the exceptionalism promised by E Pluribus Unum (our country’s motto) finally manifests itself in reality. Moderates and centrists will have to pick which of those two roads they want to go down. Spoiler alert: America’s going down the E Pluribus Unum road. As potent a force as fascism is, in the past, it’s succeeded in homogenous cultures like Weimar Germany. Even “good Germans” saw their German-ness as more important than defending Jews (outsiders to German culture).

Here in America though, “American” is a far more recent “invention”. Nothing like the “German” national identity exists in America outside white supremacists — a small minority here. Fascism relies upon a large group’s bonding together despite their moral misgivings — their cultural connections being the glue that binds them. E Pluribus Unum may result in “unum” (together) but the “pluribus” is the big difference between America and Germany. For America to succumb to fascism, all those groups white people have abused would have to agree on some level to let that continue because they don’t want to rock the cultural boat. Trust me on this: that is not going to happen.

E Pluribus Unum says so.

Mitch McConnell Can Count Votes Too — So Long As They’re Corrupt

As we lurch toward a Republican-forced government shut-down on Thursday night, the media keeps reminding us how good Nancy Pelosi is at counting votes. She won’t put a bill on the floor that doesn’t have the votes to pass. If Joe Biden’s agenda doesn’t have the votes today, Speaker Pelosi will work her magic — it’s agreed she’s one of the best, savviest Speakers of the House in American history — and make that vote happen tomorrow. Bet against her at your peril. The news media — believing that “both sides do it” — also give Mitch McConnell mucho cred for being a great politician because he can count votes. But, the way Mitch counts votes — and the votes he’s counting — is entirely different from the way Speaker Pelosi works. Speaker Pelosi can only appeal to her caucus’ hearts. Public servants serving the public have hearts, ya see. And Democrats, by their nature (and by their hearts) are wild and unruly. Democrat Will Rogers said of us almost a hundred years ago “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. By contrast to Speaker Pelosi, Mitch McConnell has a far, far easier time.

Mitch knows his caucus — to a man — doesn’t have a heart. Instead, they have greed. Greed runs everything in their personal and collective worlds. Their bottom line is enrichment and power. Getting richer than they already are and (since this is what it will require), holding onto political power forever in order to do it. For Mitch then, life is simple so long as it’s as corrupt as he is. You can always count on corruption to come through because you can always blackmail corrupt people into compliance. Try blackmailing an innocent person — it’s much, much harder.

We’ve seen — live — what happens when Mitch can count all his corrupt votes but can’t count on his un-corrupt ones. Remember this — the night Senator John McCain literally voted a thumbs down to Mitch’s attempt to kill the ACA?

I betcha Mitch still gets himself into a mighty treason-turtle snit every time he thinks of it. I bet — same token — an uncorrupted John McCain stood between Lindsey Graham’s anti-Trumpism and his remarkable flip into the Uber-Trumpism.

Can anyone name a higher purpose any Republican is fighting for other than power for power’s sake? Mitch McConnell certainly isn’t interested in serving the needs of most Americans since he’s only about servicing a teeny-tiny slice of really rich white men. Who are all Christians.

When he’s not servicing his Russian clients (Oleg Deripaska, for instance), Mitch is Charles Koch’s Bitch. Tasked with seizing the judiciary from any possible Democratic grasp — that was the point of denying Barrack Obama more than a hundred hearings for federal bench judgeships and, of course, Antonin Scalia’s seat. Our news media depicted Merrick Garland not getting a hearing as Mitch McConnell being a clever, skilled (Machiavellian) politician. No, actually that was Mitch McConnell putting himself between the point of electoral politics — the majority getting what they voted for — and Mitch and his cohorts getting what THEY want. Our news media — convinced that “both sides do it” — have it in their heads that anti-democratic behavior and acts is just some “political opinion” as opposed to what it is: an affront to democracy and to individual voters’ right to vote.

But, hey — so long as rich, Christian white guys are doing it? How can it be bad, right?

This is the corruption Mitch McConnell relies on. It’s his oxygen now same as it’s always been. Make no mistake: Mitch and corruption go way back.

Mitch has been a political hustler since grade school. Being naturally unlovable, Mitch saw political power — even at the public school level — as a way to make people love him. Or, at least not hate him because of who he was. And Mitch has deep issues with who he is. Mitch graduated with honors from the University of Louisville with a B.A. in poli sci in 1964. He was student body president. Three years later, he graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law where was president of the student bar association.

Mind you, Mitch isn’t doing this to make anywhere he is a better place for him being there. He’s doing it because he adores political power and he’s figuring out how to get it and keep it. But then, Mitch’s perfect glide path goes awry.

He enlists in March or July 1967. But by August, Mitch has been discharged (honorably) for an eye condition that was treatable in 1967 with steroids. In other words, that was no basis for discharging Mitch. Mitch has been extremely closed-mouthed about the whole thing and his military records are now inaccessible if not destroyed — which only ever means one thing: Mitch is guilty of something. I have no idea whether the following is true but my sense is that were it libelous versus true, DKos would have taken it down. They’re not in the bullshit business. According to a sourced story, there’s a possible explanation for Mitch’s sudden exit from the military — and it has nothing to do with any eye infections. According to the story, Mitch was caught engaged in an act of sodomy and agreed to go away rather than face (what would have been an embarrassing for all) trial. Having political connections — as Mitch did — surely stood up for Mitch — out of corruption not because anyone cared about LGBTQ rights.

Plenty of people helped Mitch rise politically. Not all of them were as corrupt as Mitch — and came to regret backing Mitch later. In the New Yorker, Jane Mayer describes how John David Dyche, a conservative columnist, Louisville lawyer and former Mitch supporter, went from being an active Mitch supporter now sees Mitch’s standing by Donald Trump as proof that Mitch has “no ideology except his own political power”. In other words: corruption. Mitch’s former supporter looked back at Mitch’s political career — especially the part where despite the fact that he despised Trump, he stood by Trump — as proof that Mitch was and is corrupt. Per Mayer, even Mitch’s three daughters can’t stomach their father and his corruption.

Mitch sees Charles Koch (formerly the Koch Brothers) as his lord and master. The Kochs are the most powerful money in American politics. Charles Koch still intends to twist our democracy into something more pleasing to him and his needs — being a purveyor of dirty power and a climate terrorist. Koch thinks his money (which he inherited) makes him smarter than me or you. And Charles Koch thinks rich, white. Christian men should lead and everyone else should follow. The Kochs may be crooks but they aren’t stupid crooks. Charles and David (now just Charles) spent their dirty money wisely — buying pretty much every Republican and just enough Democrats (Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona) to stop Americans from ever getting the government (and government services) they keep voting for.

The Kochs recognized that the only reliable branch of government aside from the Senate (designed, like the Electoral College to empower racism and racists over urbanites and diversity) was the judiciary — the lifetime federal bench in particular and the SCOTUS especially. Control the judiciary, the Kochs realized and one can control the country — perhaps even force it to rewrite laws pushing America toward progressivism. One could even — by jiggering the law just so — cancel Roe v Wade without even actually canceling it.

We don’t know how deeply Russia has its hooks into Mitch McConnell, all we know is that every time Mitch burps, it tastes of stale rubles. We need to explore this with Mitch under oath — Benghazi-style. He needs to explain his relationship with Oleg Deripaska (the man to whom Paul Manafort passed proprietary polling data covering Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, three of which flipped unexpectedly in election 2016, throwing the election to Trump). Deripaska is Russian military intelligence and we KNOW that Russian military intelligence was actively engaged in throwing the 2016 election to Russia. Deripaska was sanctioned by our government for doing that — sanctions that Mitch got lifted so that Deripaska could drop $300 million into an aluminum factory in impoverished western Kentucky. That’s swell for those dirt poor Kentuckians, but awful otherwise for the rest of the country and our democracy.

We need to understand above all why Mitch refused to let We The People in on the Republican Party’s dirty little secret: that Russia wanted Trump to be president and they were actively engaged in making that happen. In September 2016, when Obama called a Gang of Eight meeting (four Democratic Congressional leaders and four republican leaders) to discuss telling America what Russia was doing on Trump’s (and the GOP’s) behalf, Mitch got up on his little treason turtle hind legs and insisted that if Obama did such a thing — told America the truth about Russia and Donald Trump — that he’d accuse Obama of “politicizing the intelligence”. Obama, unfortunately, caved.

I bet that if Obama had that moment to do over? He’d tell Mitch McConnell to go eff himself. But, first, he’d tell Mitch what he thought of Mitch’s corruption. Then he’d call Mitch a traitor.

And, of course, he’d be right.

Here’s a prediction. Some day — soon, I bet — Mitch McConnell’s name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet Americans use when they want to call someone a “traitor”.

Donald Trump’s Entire Presidency Was A Crime Scene

In theory, in a democratic republic like ours, the authority to govern flows from the People. We The People elect other citizens to represent our interests in how we govern ourselves. People we don’t elect (the election’s losers) do NOT receive the authority to govern — or create laws or make alliances — or nominate judges for lifetime appointments to the federal bench (including the SCOTUS). For instance: Donald Trump lost election 2020 by more than seven million popular votes and he lost the Electoral College 306 to 232. That means we denied Trump the chance to continue what he was doing and, instead, voted our authority to govern us to Joe Biden. Trump refuses to accept the Will of The People. We’ll get to the why shortly. But, if we don’t understand WHERE the authority to govern comes from, we’ll miss the launching pad for Trump’s criminality: knowing he could never get the authority to govern freely and fairly, Trump (and the Republican Party) allied with Russia in order to “win” election in 2016. But for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS. That cannot be. We The People cannot tolerate such a thing. Our democratic republic certainly can’t.

Donald Trump’s has behaved like a criminal almost the entirety of his adult life. Whether he was sexually assaulting women, cheating to get into institutions of higher education where he had no business matriculating or just enjoying the criminal liberties we permit rich white men to get away with, Trump has operated outside the rule of law as a matter of habit. That he’s never been made to pay for any of his crimes, that’s on us. We’ve always had the power to punish Trump. We’ve refused to pull the trigger.

United States v. Fred C. Trump, Donald Trump, and Trump Management, Inc. alleged that the firm had committed systemic violations of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in their many complexes–39 buildings, between them containing over 14,000 apartments. The allegations included evidence from black and white “testers” who had sought to rent apartments; the white testers were told of vacancies; the black testers were not, or were steered to apartment complexes with a higher proportion of racial minorities. The complaint also alleged that Trump employees had placed codes next to housing applicant names to indicate if they were black.” The Trumps — for the record — were represented by Roy Cohn. Cohn, as we all know, preached a gospel of “Screw The Rule Of Law!” Whatever illegalities Fred Trump was guilty of, they paled in comparison to Donald’s.

Stone cold fact: Donald Trump sucks at literally everything except for being a grifter. Trump has always excelled at being a crook, a thief, a rapist, and a traitor. And the evidence of his criminality has always been there — in plain view — for anyone who wanted to shine a light on it and call it what it really was. Back in 2016, during the primary process, most of the Republican Party hated Trump. They even said so out loud. Guys like Lindsey Graham put it this way:

Got it? The GOP knew exactly who and what Trump was. They didn’t call him a criminal — that would have been a bridge too far and too honest. But they sure came close to calling Trump a criminal in public; just as well — they were openly discussing Trump’s criminality in private.

In June 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of the Republican leadership. This meeting was reported on a year afterward by the Washington Post — by a reporter (Adam Entous) who heard a recording of the meeting. Upon entering — the meeting was already in progress — McCarthy said: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump”. When that got a ripple of nervous laughter, McCarthy added — because the room needed to know he was serious about this accusation — “Swear to God!” Think about it! Kevin McCarthy insisted to the GOP leadership that their about-to-be presidential candidate was COMPROMISED by Russia — a country every person there KNEW was hostile toward us, toward our democracy and democratic traditions.

Why the nervous laughter? Why didn’t anyone instead respond “Whaaaaaat? Kevin, dude — are you sure about this?” No one said “Hey, if this is even remotely true, we need to call the FBI!” No one, in fact, questioned it. Or denied that it was a fact of life. Hmmmmmmmm… a bunch of people describe an act of treason but decide — as then Speaker of The House insisted — that they keep this terrible secret a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family,” Speaker Ryan said.

It turns out — as we’ll learn — that Trump wasn’t the only Republican who Russia compromised or owned outright. As Kevin McCarthy noted — Republican Congressman Dana Rohrbacher has ALWAYS been a Team Russia guy. But, Russian money had flowed to many Republicans (mostly via their PACS). Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s biggest donor was Sheldon Adelson, not Len Blavatnik — as FactCheck pointed out back in 2019. But is “biggest donor” really the measure of treason? FactCheck acknowledges that “…it’s true that a major contributor to a PAC associated with McConnell has business ties to an oligarch whose businesses recently have been released from sanctions…” but lets that go, in essence, because Blavatnik wasn’t McConnell’s biggest donor.

The problem is Blavatnik’s ties to ANY oligarch who’s been sanctioned or who in ANY way has ANY ties whatsoever to Putin or Russian military intelligence. Does anyone with half a brain really think former spy chief Vladimir Putin ever stopped being a spy chief? Spies remain spies all their lives so long as they keep any part of their spying secret. The brotherhood of Russian Spying has a long, illustrious and very successful history. They have recruited Westerners with consistent success — first as the Soviet Union and now as Greater Russia. The oligarch in question hers is Oleg Deripaska. FactCheck wants us to believe that despite his ties to a man we KNOW is an active Russian military intelligence player, Len Blavatnik’s money is 1) clean and 2) not enough to worry about since it’s not “the most”.

Any money that originated in Russia and ended up in any American politician’s campaign bank account arrived with strings attached. Take THAT to the bank and prepare to get rich.

If anyone in America’s news media had bothered to (or was interested in bothering to now), they’d have bumped into what Fusion GPS bumped into when they were first hired to do oppo research on Trump by the owners of the conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon. When he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017, Fusion’s co-founder Glenn Simpson described how Fusion, before they began their oppo work, got ahold of every piece of publicly available material about Trump that they could. Every book or newspaper article. Every magazine piece and radio or TV appearance. What they found in publicly available material — information anyone could find and build into their understanding of Trump — convinced them that Trump was likely a criminal who’d been laundering Russian mob money through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos. THAT is why Fusion sub-contracted the Russian research to a company called Orbis. Orbis was run by Christopher Steele who formerly ran the MI6’s vaunted Russia desk. No one outside Russia had better connections inside Russia.

Steele’s work product — The Steele Dossier — was a collection of raw intelligence gathered by an experienced hand. It goes without saying that our news media made an utter hash of it. But then, that’s what Russia wanted our media to do.

From the moment he became POTUS, Trump began to obstruct any investigation into how exactly he pulled of this “shocker”. The Mueller Report didn’t acquit Trump of anything. Quite the contrary! If not for Bill Barr’s deliberate obfuscation, our news media might have actually read the Mueller Report for itself and grasped that 1) Mueller’s purview was pared down to one basic question: did Team Trump conspire in any way with Wikileaks on the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton? The Report says it couldn’t really answer the question because of Team Trump’s relentlessly obstructive behavior. All indications were however that yes, Team Trump DID conspire.

It is flatly against the law to conspire with a foreign government to win an American election. It’s not a question of “degree” or “number of times”. It’s an absolute “yes” or “no” and Team Trump relentlessly worked with Russia or people allied with Russia both to “win” election 2016 and to keep that alliance a secret. That’s a broken law and a cover up. Two crimes now. And all Trump’s done is “win” election. The real criming started the instant Trump was sworn in; he violated his oath of office even as he took the oath of office.

Not only was Trump NOT upholding and defending the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, HE was one of the Constitution’s biggest domestic enemies ever.

Our “problem” alas isn’t Donald Trump’s criminality. If Trump’s criminal behavior was the exception, most of the rest of the GOP would have turned on him if only for survival’s sake. But, when the Republican Party shrugged off Trump’s treason and made him their standard bearer, they made treason part of their brand. The Republicans are afraid of Trump’s base — they’re nuts! But what really keeps them all in line is the terrible secret they agreed to keep way back in 2016: Donald Trump is a traitor.

See something, SAY something. See something, say nothing? We have to ask “why?” WHY say nothing in the face of overt criminality? WHY say nothing in the face of outright treason?

It ain’t rocket science or brain surgery. If you stand with racists, even if you don’t think you’re a racist, it means you ARE a racist. Same goes for traitors. The reason the Republican Party is now all in with Trump, his attempts to overturn election 2020 and the psychotic drive to impose permanent minority rule upon an angry, diverse majority is because the GOP is now Trump’s co-conspirator. His criminal co-conspirator. And — as every one of these Republicans knows — death remains a possible penalty for treason here in America. For context, Republicans aren’t bothered if America dies.

If indeed Trump’s victory was accomplished by cheating in ANY way, that’s a crime. Even if it’s minor. It’s a crime. If that crime involves a hostile foreign country? The minor incident is now treasonous.

And you know what they say about the cover up. It’s always worse than the crime. Considering as the crime here is treason?

We have to seriously re-think the entire Trump presidency and EVERYTHING it touched because Donald Trump NEVER had the authority that flows from a free & fair election. He never had the authority to sign legislation or tax cuts for the rich into law. HE never had the authority to nominate a cabinet or a single judge including SCOTUS judges. The authority to do all those things actually resided in Hillary Clinton — the election’s real winner.

“But we can’t change an election’s outcome!” No, we can’t change the past. But if the “outcome” of the election includes, say, JUDGES with lifetime appointments that were the whole POINT of the crime — to get those seats filled by conservative judges preferred by the conservative minority instead of by the more progressive MAJORITY who actually won the election and whose values should actually be reflected in the very judges the Republicans appointed instead.

If we go back to the very beginning of this crime, we find the right wing money facing a conundrum: a diversifying America slowly taking political power away from the white, Christian men who’d always held it. Instead of accepting that that’s how American democracy — American exceptionalism — works, the right wing money chose to put its money into denying the majority its will. They smartly went at power from the local level first — running for school boards and local offices Democrats looked past. This gives the appearance of a right wing lean when, really, it’s just good political organization. It’s NOT how the electorate actually thinks.

Here’s my bet: when Jan 6 Commission — with the Department of Justice’s backing — pierces the Congressional veil and connects the January 6 insurrection dot to the members of Congress and the Trump White House actively PLANNED the insurrection dot, there will be a radical shift in how we publicly think of the GOP, Donald Trump and what they’ve done. We’ll be well into criminal liability — planning an insurrection’s a crime, don’tcha know! — when we connect another essential dot: treason. Considering how active Russia was in putting Trump into the White House and keeping him there, it’d strain credulity to the breaking point to think Russia wasn’t deeply involved in the insurrection — either in its planning or financing.

If a hint of Russian involvement floats to the surface? We will have pierced that veil too.

“U” For “Unvaccinated” IS The New “Scarlet Letter”

In the month since I first published this post (then it was “Should Be The New Scarlet Letter” vs “IS”), the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant has become its own little pandemic here in America — among the belligerently unvaccinated.

Remember Hester Prynne? In Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, Hester is forced by her intensely religious Puritan community to wear a scarlet letter “A” as punishment for having committed adultery. To the sin-hating Puritans, adultery wasn’t just deeply sinful, it was virtually unforgivable.

Jump forward several hundred years to now. America has made peace with all sorts of sins. Even the Arthur Dimmesdale’s of the world — in the person of religionista, pastor, former Liberty University president and super proud cocksman Jerry Falwell, Jr — have come out from hiding. Jerry Junior isn’t just unashamed of his adultery, he’s openly boastful about it!

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the Christian and conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., posted this photo on social media Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, with the caption: “More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”

That expression on Jerry-Junior’s face? It’s shouting “Hey, see the smile on this young lady’s face? I put it there!”

These days, we’re more likely to force someone to wear a scarlet “A” because they’re a raging Asshole. Which brings us to anti-vaxxers — another “scarlet A”. Were it not for anti-vaxxers and their relentless spew of bullshit into the info stream, America would have gotten atop the coronavirus already. We probably wouldn’t be talking about “booster shots” because we would have achieved herd immunity within our borders. All that excess production would have already gone into making vaccine for the rest of the world — and, perhaps, that would have spared us the Delta and Mu variants and everything before and in between. Our economy would be more settled, its improvements more sustainable and reliable. And, instead of still dying in droves, Americans would be helping to restore our image across the globe as the main engine of the world’s recovery.

Too bad about the “forces of darkness” within our midst.

Pathogens are by far the most potent weapon on the planet. Throughout human history, pathogens have relentlessly culled the human herd without us even fully understanding how they were doing it to us. The native population of North America wasn’t conquered by European guns or steal. European pathogens did all the hard work. The guns and steel were there for the mop up operation.

Let’s be crystal clear: anti-vaxx sentiment is based on zero science and a clear misunderstanding of how people need to approach science. Because anti-vaxx sentiment doesn’t need science to undergird its call to action, it can recommend anything. It can advocate for utter bullshit because nothing is there to check its work — and point to how bullshitty it is.

Hester Prynne’s community had nothing whatsoever to fear from Hester. Adultery was not going to spread like a virus (although, to be fair — though it wasn’t their intention — if adultery didn’t spread like a virus, venereal diseases, crabs and pubic lice sure did including syphilis — the one potent pathogen the New World sent back to the Old). Perhaps in the Puritans’ worst nightmares, adultery had the potential to do what pathogens can. There’s a big difference between nightmares and reality though. And Colonial Americans weren’t strangers to the harm pathogens could do. George Washington — following the science of the time — had the Continental Army vaccinated against smallpox. We’ve known what pathogens do and how and why for a couple hundred years now. We KNOW how to protect ourselves from them; that should be the basis for OUR “morality”. Sex as the basis is simply too complicated and hypocrites are everywhere.

Hester is a strange mix of sexually liberated woman and mousey good-girl gone wrong. Anti-vaxxers are zombies. The pathogen has already eaten their brains and now is using the anti-vaxxers as their ride while they come for the rest of us. That’s why we NEED to make every single anti-vaxxer wear that “U” they seem so proud of right there on their person. Let’s tattoo it across their foreheads — it won’t be the ugliest tat on any of their bodies.

President Biden led the way, making vaccinations mandatory for federal employees and the military. Even big corporations appreciated on a granular level how devastating the pandemic’s been to their bottom line. Our consumer economy depends almost entirely on people buying things. Poor people can’t buy anything and rich people — they pretty much have everything they need. They’re not the market products and their manufacturers rely on for long term health. That’d be the middle class. America succeeds best when its middle class is healthy and thriving. That, really, is the whole point of Joe Biden’s progressive agenda. It ain’t “socialism”, it’s a robust middle class driving a socialized capitalism that understands it MUST have limits because integrity matters. And so does having a habitable planet with a habitable environment.

It ain’t vaccinated people stalling the economy — preventing people from getting back to work and their lives back to normal — it’s the unvaccinated. Money is everyone’s bottom line. You threaten our wallets and pocketbooks long enough and you will get our attention. That is the massive pile of shit anti-vaxxers (and, in turn the Republican Party for thinking it could ride the anti-vaxx movement to permanent political power) stepped in. And, if your bullshit threatens our kids?

“U” for “Unvaccinated” IS our new Scarlet Letter.

I bet they’ll not only wear their Scarlet Letters, I bet they’ll compete with each other to make THEIR scarlet “U” bigger than everyone else’s. What point is there in being just “full of shit” when you can be the “fullest” of shit?

Just like Hester was stigmatized, so too should every “U” wearing anti-vaxxer. That U should be why they can’t get hired, get get loans, can’t get service at a restaurant and can’t get former (now vaccinated) friends to return their calls. Pariah-hood is almost too good form them.

I’m torn about what to think of the “former” anti-vaxxer putting his new-found faith in modern medicine on social media as he dies painfully from the very disease he boastfully claimed couldn’t hurt him. America has a strange history of willful ignorance. The “Know Nothings” were an actual political movement starting in the 1850’s. They were anti-Catholic, anti-Irish, anti-immigration, populist and xenophobic. They were neutral on slavery (which makes them pro-slavery by default). Their answer to any question was simply “I know nothing”. Though the movement died within a few years, the sentiment zombied on.

Maybe that’s what the Scarlet “U” actually signifies: the zombification of a third of America. They’re not just unvaccinated; some part of them is “undead”. Oh, great — another “U”.

Religion Has, At Best, A Dysfunctional Relationship With Reason

I’ll own the broad brush right up top. Not all religions struggle with reason. Some really do want to understand what makes us and the world tick (Buddhism focuses on human suffering and misery rather than getting its followers to behave themselves). How did the universe get here and what is the point of it all? That’s all we ask a religion to answer. Before we understood that science was a “thing” (more accurately, a way to think based on as much reality as we could discern), we thought religion was the only path to truth. Where did we come from? In 6th century BCE Persia, the Zoroastrian priest Zarathustra suggested it had something to do with the primeval clash between gods Ahura Mazdā and Angra Mainyu, the Destructive Spirit. Hinduism has multiple creation myths; in fact, it anticipates string theory — it believes our universe is one of many — except Hinduism theorizes that without math, a luxury string theory never gets. The Abrahamic faiths give all the credit to Yahweh, that angry Canaanite leftover (Yahweh’s origins as El are memorialized in Middle Eastern place names like Beth EL and IsraEL). Yahweh, for all his monotheistic confidence, still behaves like a bi-polar depressive who hasn’t the courage of his own convictions. The last word a reasonable person would use to describe the Yahweh character is “reasonable”.

In religion’s defense, it’s trying to answer those big questions armed only with the piss poor information on hand at the religion’s founding. I bet that if the men who wrote the Pentateuch had had access to microscopes and telescopes and the internet, they wouldn’t have written their origin stories the way they did. They would have known as they sat down to articulate the religious ideas in their head that whoever or whatever this Yahweh character was, he fit into a vast physical cosmos that adhered to reliably predictable physical properties. Their religious text would have reflected that real world knowledge — and, perhaps, their approach to spirituality would have been entirely different. Or, more likely, it would not ever have existed at all.

Religion and spirituality are not the same thing. Spirituality is the awe one feels while gazing up at the stars. It’s the awareness of existence itself and of the specific universe we live in. There are things far, far larger than us. They were here before we came, they’ll be here long after we’re gone. Spirituality is a nod to permanence by impermanent creatures. Religion, by contrast, is pure dogma. It’s an institutional attempt to codify spirituality. “To achieve this spiritual goal — beat death, for instance (Christianity’s sales pitch) — you have to follow these steps “religiously”. Fail to follow even one step — become a heretic — and the deal’s off.” That’s how Christianity got from “Do unto others” to “Do what we say or else”.

Of the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism is by far the least dogmatic. I’d even say that Judaism is relatively dogma free. That’s because Judaism is more a culture than a religion. That wasn’t by choice. For almost two thousand years, Jews were ostracized from white, Christian Europe. It wasn’t reason that motivated Jew hate, it was un-reason.

Jesus didn’t invent Christianity, Paul did. And, for that, Paul deserves our eternal respect. The majority of the NT is written by Paul or reflects the mythology Paul was creating out of whole cloth as he took HIS version of Jesus out to the Gentiles. Paul failed to sell his version of Jesus to people who actually knew Jesus (Jesus’ family, for example) or heard Jesus preach. So, Paul turned to the non-Jewish world. Aside from Jews and Zoroastrians, most of the world at that time was polytheistic. Polytheistic gods weren’t materially different from humans; we were all made of the same “stuff”. Polytheistic gods didn’t really care much about humans. Yahweh, on the other hand, cared deeply about humans. He even has a son whose purpose is to help cleanse humans of their most terrible sins (committed by Eve) that keep humans from happiness). Ah, but Yahweh promises even more than that!

If you believe in Jesus in the exact way the institution tell you to, the institution insists that, like Jesus did, you too will defeat death and get to live in a forever happy place with everyone you love.

Can I assure you of something? That’s not really going to happen. It’s never happened — ever. It’s a swell story — we can’t argue with its success, can we? But it’s a story, not reality. Wishful thinking instead of just “thinking”. It recognizes that reason tells a different story than it wants to tell. Good luck trying to apply reason (or basic story logic) to the Jesus-Judas-Crucifixion story. For starters — stone cold truth — whoever Jesus was, he was born, lived his entire life and died a Jew. He had only Jewish thoughts in his head which he preached and taught exclusively to Jews since only Jews would have gotten the context he was preaching — monotheism in a polytheistic world. Paul needed Jesus to BE an actual messiah, not just a maybe messiah.

Keep in mind: the “how to be a messiah” rules are a thousand years old before Jesus or Paul ever hear them. They’re part of a long oral tradition finally written down around the 6th century BCE. 600 years before Jesus shows up. The point: it’s not reality talking here, it’s mythology refracted through Paul’s imagination as he takes his version of Jesus — the son of God, defeater of death — to people with no knowledge or concern for Jewish mythology. Paul and the early church fathers invent censuses that did not happen in order to get Jesus born in Bethlehem — which has to happen if Jesus is to share a bloodline with King David (who’s dead a thousand years at least before Jesus). The whole point of Jesus being a messiah is that by following Jesus, his followers can overcome the weight of Eve’s original sin and live forever in the process. But, that means Jesus HAS TO DIE for the whole mythology machine to work correctly.

Thank about it: if Judas doesn’t betray Jesus (per the story) and Jesus never gets crucified — what does that do to the whole construct? Does it all still work the same if Jesus lives a long, happy life and dies an old man — surrounded by loved ones — in his bed? Doubt it. The Christian mythology Paul invented relied on Jesus dying — and dying by crucifixion was paramount! How else do we get a cross to symbolize the entire faith? Just wondering — if the Romans had imagined the guillotine before the French and used it instead of crucifixion to dispatch people they didn’t like, would Christians now walk around with little guillotines around their necks?

The world’s religions would all tell you that by following them, you’ll find peace. Maybe. The history of religion says not. The history of religion is not a history of peace. It’s not a history of “reason” either.

It’s not a coincidence.

Our News Media Keeps Getting It Wrong

It was foolishness to think our news media would step out from under the shadow of their terrible Trump years performance and spend the Biden years reminding themselves what journalism is. Alas, they’re still convinced that “both sides do it”. It’s painful and ironic that the White House Press Corps saved all their skepticism — which journalists should have on their tool belt — to spend on Joe Biden when they used virtually none during the Trump years. In fact, our journalistic and chattering classes allowed their cynicism to flower and flourish instead. They bought into and promulgated the idea that Donald Trump 1) was the new “normal” for presidents and “presidenting”, 2) that all his visible corruption, his non-stop lying about literally everything were all acceptable cos “normal”, 3) that the Democrats were acting just as politically in resisting Trump’s attempts to dismantle our democracy as Trump was in dismantling our democracy (against the majority’s will!), 4) that Trump’s hold over the Republican Party was all because of Trump’s rabid base and 5) that some other explanation other than TREASON explained Trump’s bizarrely obsequious behavior toward Vladimir Putin and Russia. Our news media — with a few exceptions — STILL can’t get Trump right because they refuse to extrapolate based on a ton of consistent evidence that screams who Donald Trump is and what exactly he’s doing to America and why.

It was inevitable that our news media would get Joe Biden wrong because they still can’t get Trump right.

This is the work product of “both sides do it” brand journalism. It holds “neutrality” as the journalist’s ultimate creed. The Truth? It’s not for a journalist to say — even if the Truth screams from their own reporting. The thinking (such as it is) goes that the moment a journalist openly sides with the Truth (versus siding with bullshit), they will be seen to be “taking sides”. Since (in America) one side consistently makes shit up because they favor feelings over facts, it would appear that journalists keep taking the “other side’s side” — the side that prefers facts over feelings: the Democrats. Ironically, that’s exactly what our news media’s doing — and thankfully so — when they trumpet the science of vaccination over anti-vaxxing ooga-booga. The “side” pushing vaccination is the Democrats; the side pushing anti-vaxx bullshit for entirely political purposes is the GOP. Can we agree? Both sides aren’t doing the same thing.

Both sides do NOT “do it”.

The Republican Party — as a whole — is openly attempting to toss out the results of election 2020 — or, they’re trying to throw out the Donald Trump part. For the record, none of those Republicans screaming that Trump was cheated on HIS part of their ballots while none of the successful Republican candidates was cheated on THEIR part of the Trump voter’s ballot. This is not bullshit for bullshit’s sake. It’s bullshit for sedition’s sake. For insurrection’s sake.

For treason’s sake. What our poor, pathetic news media absolutely gets wrong is what this whole goddamned story is about: treason. Hey, look — I know that’s a big leap for professional news media to make. But, stone cold fact, amongst the realm of possible answers to “what’s really going on here?”, that is one of the possibilities. I can’t recall a single talking head segment involving journalists where — as they listed the possible explanations for Trump’s consistent obsequiousness toward Putin — “And, one of the explanations could be that Putin has compromised Trump — and therefore ‘owns’ him which would present a massive national security problem”. But, then, that SHOULD have been one of the explanations on the table — that Putin owned Trump because the news media itself REPORTED THAT VERY STORY!

True Fact! The Washington Post reported on May 17, 2017 about a recorded conversation their reporter Adam Entous himself heard. The conversation was a year old — from June 2016. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a room of GOP leadership in Washington, DC and says out loud (it was recorded!) “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump!” When that gets a bit of nervous laughter, McCarthy asserts “Swear to God!”

Now, while some in the room laughed nervously (and what was THAT about?), no one is recorded jumping up and saying “Whaaaaaat? Kevin, dude — are you sure about that? I mean, what the hell put THAT idea into your head?” Instead, then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan corrals any inclination to do the right thing and call the FBI. As the Washington Post put it: “Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.”

So — a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their candidate for President of the United States, they KNEW and discussed the fact that their candidate was compromised by a hostile foreign power who some of them knew for a fact was at cyber war with us. Cyber war IS war. Anyone who thinks “war” must involve bombs and bullets to be an official war is going to lose every war they ever fight going forwards. Russia spent pennies to put Donald Trump in the White House. More irony: we broke the Soviet Union in large part by making them fear “star wars”. They couldn’t afford to compete with us — even if it was all a chimera anyway. Putin — a man devoted to the idea of Old Russia becoming a player (third world country though it is) — got the last laugh by destroying American democracy and doing it with the couple of rubles in his pocket.

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Patriotism pouring from the mouths of traitors is treason on steroids. Donald Trump preaching patriotism — with Putin’s hand up his ass — demands more than our news media has delivered. Especially when that fact should be part of the architecture already!

Among its copious other fatal flaws, “both sides do it” brand journalism insists on NOT aggregating any of the stories it reports. Each instance of Trumpian corruption is seen as a news item unto itself, completely unconnected to all the other remarkably similar news items floating nearby. In our news media’s defense, they represent a very white corporate culture that, just walking in the door, accepts a ton of white collar corruption and institutional racism, bigotry and misogyny as “normal”. Their assumption that the playing field is level doesn’t make it level. It isn’t and never has been. Not even remotely. That’s how all those sexual assault and rape stories concerning Trump never add up to what it should add up to — the portrait of a privileged, white serial rapist. Our culture — still dominated by men — doesn’t want us to have an easy time prosecuting men for inappropriate, offensive and even outright criminal male behavior. Where sexual assault is concerned, male culture wants (us) to blame the sexually assaulted instead of them: “they made me do it.”

Imagine if our news media practiced basic storytelling technique and not only “added information” with their daily reporting but used that newly added info foundationally — not as extraneous detail maybe worth noting, maybe not, but as Core Truth that one must have firmly in mind in order to understand what’s happening NOW. If that had been the case, We The People would never have shrugged off Trump’s history of assaulting women the way our news media did. With Trump’s REPORTED history of racism, our news media would have incorporated that racism INTO their understanding of Trump each time they wrote about him. Result? They would NEVER have asked Trump if he was racist (which is stupid anyway because it’s not up to a racist to say if they’re racist, it’s up to the racist’s victim!) because they’d have KNOWN he was racist for a fact and would have reported Trump’s racism differently — as Trump continuing his racist behavior.

Imagine if our news media had read their own (respected) reporting. Imagine if reporters other than the Washington Post’s Adam Entous either read or (heavens!) LISTENED TO what actual Republicans said out loud about Trump behaving treasonously — especially in retrospect — and then questioned those very Republicans about what they said! The one time the news media questioned McCarthy about his own blatant co-conspiracy to commit treason and obstruct justice, his answer was “I was joking”.

Instead of beginning their reporting about McCarthy (who STILL refuses to acknowledge that Joe Biden’s the president) by framing him as a traitor (or even as someone whose motives are deeply, DEEPLY suspect because he KNEW Putin paid Trump), our news media is more likely to report McCarthy as a guy who likes a good joke.

Oy!

It’s little wonder that, per usual, when Democrats are in power, the American news media suddenly relocates its skepticism. There’s nothing wrong with that except that their skepticism lacks all context. To them, Donald Trump is just a former president still hungering for political power (rather than a traitor terrified of being tried for treason), the Republican Party (despite openly lying about voter fraud and pretty much everything else) are honest actors, and the choice between continuing as a democratic republic (what the overwhelming majority of Americans want) and becoming an authoritarian shithole is a fifty-fifty toss up proposition. Our news media has it in its head that Joe Biden was handed a ship of state sailing smartly along thanks to Skipper Donald.

But, Skipper Donald had deliberately set about scuttling the Ship Of State — to deliberately harm Biden’s ability to govern America but also to prosecute Trump. If you don’t get that? You don’t get this story. You certainly aren’t reporting it — and America’s news media still isn’t. Their version of Trump isn’t the Trump in our faces. Their version of every obstructive, treasonous Republican isn’t the GOP actively assaulting our whole way of life. The most painful irony of all might be that our news media bought into Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts”.

There are no “alternative facts”. There’s Truth and there’s bullshit. Alternative facts aren’t “facts” in any way, shape or form. They’re bullshit. And the fact that our news media didn’t immediately stop talking to Kellyanne shouted volumes. It no longer mattered if they were reporting alternative facts to their news audience because (since “both sides do it”, alternative facts were now officially as good as facts

Being neutral, it’s not up to our news media to discern fact from alternative fact. That’s up to their news audience apparently.

White People And Whitewashing

It might not be a coincidence that white people are better at whitewashing things than pretty much anyone else. Originally, “whitewashing” (coined in 1591 in England) was pretty direct in its meaning. One whitewashed walls to clean them of everything not white resulting in a satisfying. uniform whiteness. A whitewashed cottage was easier on the eyes — especially white eyes. In a way, whitewashing things was a way to impose literal whiteness into an environment. Or onto it. And then something really strange happens when white people see a representation of their own whiteness staring back at them. To them, that whiteness is their own innocence of all charges; it’s a mythology built on an actual cover up — a few quick brush strokes of white paint to obliterate a long history of treating every other tribe on Earth like inferiors.

Up until very recently, white people in America got away with whitewashing America’s history. Example — though the Confederacy lost a war they started over slavery (according to their own secession documents), they won the peace afterwards by whitewashing their racism into a more patriotic-sounding concern for “states’ rights”. As in “we seceded to protect states’ rights!” Shame “states’ rights” isn’t mentioned in a single Confederate state’s declaration of secession. That bit of whitewashing happened later.

That’s how whitewashing works. White people come out looking better than they deserve to look. The whitewashing hides the truth — of who they are, what they’ve done and (most importantly) what they intend to do having deceived most people into thinking this love of whiteness in our culture was a stone cold fact of life. It most certainly is not.

Try as they have to whitewash American culture, white people keep appropriating every other culture into white culture because white culture in fact craves the “colors” all those other cultures exude. But white hegemony is a hard habit to break. Especially because it’s built so high upon a foundation of bullshit. White hegemony assumes the total superiority of white culture. It assumes white religion is the correct religion. White thoughts are the best thoughts. White art is real art while other art is “folk art”. White music is “music” while “other music” — jazz, for instance — is noise. White hegemony also insists that the only history worth noting in America is white history. No other tribe’s history in America matters.

To white people, that is. They even managed to memorialize this as a fraction: Black people were worth three-fifths of a white person.

White people really have taken that “whiteness” to heart. They really do see purity in it. Brides wear white — because pure. Whiteness says “Life!” while blackness says “death”. The colors themselves don’t say anything. We imposed those meanings onto the colors.

Want to know what scares white people in America more than anything? The words on our own Great Seal: “E Pluribus Unum” Out of many, one. Diversity has always been our secret sauce — what really and truly makes America exceptional because no other country on earth was built by ALL the other nations on earth the way America was. “E Pluribus Unum” beats the crap out of “All men are created equal” because the white men who penned “All men are created equal” didn’t mean “all men” though they did mean “all” (as in only) “men”. America is a great idea as yet unrealized. Because white people.

Whitewashing’s effect on our culture are profound. We revised genocide (wiping out most of America’s native people) as “Manifest Destiny” — the divine guidance by a white deity to spread whiteness across North America. We both enslaved Black people literally then enslaved them indirectly by stealing their voting rights and their wealth. Slavery begins with stolen labor — that’s really the whole point of slavery: to get production’s most expensive cost — the labor to make a product or process it — for free. Housing, food and clothing are a slaver’s “cost of doing business”. We have to assume the value of the stolen labor surpassed whatever the living costs were by a ton because the Confederacy (whose entire economy was built on stolen slave labor) was willing to fight a war over it.

In our whitewashed version of history, Reconstruction never happened; it did happen but Andrew Johnson and the South’s undampened racism despite losing the war killed Reconstruction dead before it could level the playing field for Black people in America. Our whitewashed history wants us to believe that Black people never achieved what white people achieved in America because of their blackness. The truth is, white people in America have always begrudged Black people (or any non-white people) any success here in America. Having political power in their hands, white people have used legislation to enforce their whitewashed version of America onto America.

They’ve used the courts to back up their whitewashing. They’ve used the culture and the media to imprint into our brains.

White people have even whitewashed the language. I don’t know about you, but it makes me laugh (not in a good way) every time the news media bleeped “bad words” from their air whenever they broadcast scenes from the insurrection. That is because white ears are delicate. Having convinced themselves that only “others” use “dirty” words while white people use good words (raising up the language!), we’ve convinced ourselves that words are obscene while actions — like insurrection, sedition and treason — aren’t. But then, I guess if insurrection, sedition and treason are being perpetrated by white people?

It’s no biggie. Hell, the Republicans have already begun whitewashing January 6 — just like they’ve obstructively whitewashed the fact that but for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS.

AT&T Donating Money To Insurrectionists Equals Deutsche Bank Helping To Build Auschwitz

Even Concentration Camps Need Financing — And Bankers To Loan The Money

Someone should write a saying about how when people refuse to learn the lessons of history, they’re likely to repeat the same terrible mistakes. Hitler doesn’t become “Hitler” without the steadfast support of German industry. Fascism triangulates politics, business and religion. When Christianity and commerce work together at power’s behest, you get Nazi Germany (and make no mistake, institutional Christianity had zero problem with Hitler’s “final solution”). You get companies like Bayer, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Nestle, Porsche, Siemens and VW benefiting and profiting from SLAVE LABOR without so much as a thought. Every one of those companies has SLAVE LABOR in their past. Sorry, but that’s evil and I’m not entirely sure what any of those companies can actually do to disassociate themselves from the evil they willingly stood with and profited from. Even Jews were pretty quick to forget — as they happily bought Mercs and VWs and BMWs in the 1980’s –that not two generations before, their freakin’ RELATIVES were working for those same damned companies against their will and for ZERO PAY.

For the historical record, American companies also benefited from slave labor or happily did business with a regime they KNEW was authoritarian and repressive. General Motors, IBM, ITT, Standard Oil, Chase National Bank and Coca Cola all chose profits uber alles. A buck was a buck was a buck even if it came from fascists. But, some executives knew that Germany was up to other things than just the war effort. Some business executives knew that Germany had genocide in mind — and willingly helped the Nazis manifest those genocidal intentions.

Deutsche Bank may be one of the most corrupt enterprises ever to blacken capitalism’s eye. Over the course of their history, Deutsche Bank has financed multiple genocides.

During World War One, Deutsche Bank helped finance Turkey’s Armenian Genocide. WWI was the world’s first mechanized war. Mechanized wars need oil and Germany had access to oil in Iran. The only efficient way to transport that oil was via rail. Thus the Berlin-To-Baghdad rail line was imagined. To finance this enormous venture, Germany’s government turned to Deutsche Bank. But the rail line needed to travel through parts of Turkey where Armenian communities lived — and the Turks had always been dubious about the Armenians what with the Turks being Muslim and the Armenians being Christians. The Ottoman Empire, having no issues with cruelty and having even fewer issues with being cruel to the Armenians living within its borders, made no secret that part of its agreement to let Germany build its rail line would be the removal of any and all Armenians in its way — even if those Armenians lived nowhere near the rail line’s route. As no one spoke up for the Armenians (until recently), from Deutsche Bank’s point of view, genocide was good business. Good business emboldened them. That’s why Deutsche Bank had zero qualms about lending the German state construction loans for the specific purpose of building Auschwitz.

That is a true, true fact: Deutsche Bank helped build Auschwitz. Had the Third Reich lived the thousand years it promised, at some point early on, Germany would have repaid its debt to Deutsche Bank plus interest — and that interest would have been Deutsche Bank’s profit from helping to murder 1.1 million people (that’s how many people died at Auschwitz). Do you think that anyone in Deutsche Bank’s executive ranks felt the least regret about said future profits and how they’d be derived?

That’s the problem with corporations. They can be used to magnify a culture’s worst attributes. German culture made what it did to Jews and gay people and Romani people — and everyone it feared or didn’t like — acceptable. The neighborhoods surrounding Dachau (a medieval town inside Germany versus Auschwitz which was based inside Occupied Poland) could smell the human flesh burning in Dachau’s ovens. They had to brush the ashes of those same people from their heads and shoulders. As disgusted as they may have been, they did nothing. Makes one wonder what they were actually disgusted with.

A thousand plus years of evolution from various Germanic tribes into a Germany filled with proud Germans who felt deeply connected to their “German-nss” produced group think and compliance within the group. Sure, sure, there were plenty of “Good Germans” but, either there weren’t nearly enough of them or they simply weren’t good enough. They still turned a blind eye to something happening right in front of them, choosing to “not rock the boat” instead of demanding integrity and humanity from those governing them.

The slow creep of evil is insidious, isn’t it? Did anyone at Deutsche Bank directly murder a single Jew at Auschwitz? Not in the literal literal sense, no. Probably not. Would the Third Reich have looked elsewhere for their construction loan had Deustsche Bank turned them down? Absolutely. And they’d have found someone else to underwrite it all. But, when the very fascistic German government turned to their favorite financier, their favorite financier didn’t bat an eye despite knowing for a fact what ITS money was about to be used for.

Deutsche Bank has blood on its hands and always will. They’re Lady MacBeth to Hitler’s MacBeth and those damned spots will never come out.

Corporations must be held accountable for the evil they enable, abet or outright pay for. Any corporation that in any way helped perpetrate evil — that’s as opposed to produce things as part of the “regular” war effort — should be broken up. Corporations are human creations, don’t forget. In America, we now want to treat them like people whose opinions matter as much as an actual citizen’s opinion. Citizen’s United didn’t give corporations the vote, but it gave their money more power than votes. More power than voters.

When a big corporation like AT&T donates money to individual politicians, it’s doing it with the understanding that that money just bought that politician’s vote. If the corporation doesn’t get what it wants with its donation, if it’s clever, it’ll take its next political donation somewhere else. So, we can assume that when AT&T donates its money to any of the 147 Republicans who still insist that Joe Biden stole Donald Trump’s presidential victory, they are willing to stand by everything that politician comes with. They may pooh-pooh such complicity on their part, but that’s always how authoritarians their own terrible behavior — they see the “greater good” that makes all of fascism’s negatives worth it: the trains now run on time.

Under most circumstances where corporate bad behavior negatively impacts the citizenry, the citizenry can turn to the democracy of the marketplace where they vote with their dollars. In an age of social media where even silly, little kerfuffles can suddenly go nuclear, corporations manage their reputations like hawks mated with Tiger Moms. So — why are they willing to stand — as AT&T does — with politicians who’ve made it crystal clear that they no longer believe in the political system that supports the economic system corporations like AT&T rely on? These foolish corporations are setting themselves up for failure without even realizing it. But then, greed has never, ever, EVER made anyone smarter.

Least of all a “corporation”.

What makes AT&T’s donations to insurrectionists, seditionists and traitors — that is what they are and it is what they will be revealed to be — especially worth note is that the money being used sat, at one point, in the pockets of their customers. AT&T is turning some of its customers’ money against their customers’ own best interests! Any customer still using AT&T therefore (when there is competition) could easily be hurting their own future every time they pay their cable, internet or cell phone bill.