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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excuse me for being skeptical.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, it isn’t.

A Call For Moral Journalism

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

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

These are facts therefore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So — how does our news media heal itself?

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

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

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

Not as a journalist, AS A HUMAN BEING.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’d think professional storytellers could tell it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then there’s the rest…

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

All because he says so.

This liar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Are All Those “Trump Won 2016” Journalists Going To Say When We Establish That, No, Trump STOLE The Election?

Spoiler alert — that IS where this story is going: Donald Trump did not “win” the 2016 election in any sense of the word. He stole it. Literally. Go look up the two words — “win” & “steal”. They’re not the same thing.

To have legitimately won the 2016 presidential election (and this applies to the races up and down the ballot), Trump and the Republicans would have had to have sold Americans on the superiority of their ideas. They didn’t. They sold America the idea that Hillary Clinton was less trustworthy than Trump — a message they sold in collaboration with Russia. Stone cold facts — Wikileaks equals Russian Military Intelligence and Trump’s campaign was actively engaged with not only Wikileaks but multiple Russian intel officers. Paul Manafort — the convict — handed Konstantin Kilimnik proprietary polling data concerning four states: Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

We don’t know what did or didn’t happen in Minnesota. We know what happened in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. It’s not just the fact that Trump pulled off “surprise victories” in three blue states — it’s the margin by which he pulled off those three victories. He won them by a combined 77,000 votes. Between three states.

That’s just over 25,000 votes PER STATE.

One of the now accepted reasons for Clinton’s loss in those three states was the weaker than expected turnout of Black voters. Those same voters were the focus of Facebook ads delivered to their individual computers — saying that Hillary Clinton was a closet racist so why bother voting for her? Where were those messages originating? At Russian Military Intelligence. They were using all that proprietary polling data Trump’s campaign manager had illegally given them.

This isn’t just bad behavior, it’s flat out illegal. It’s a crime. It’s a flagrant violation of the rule of law.

That’s the bottomest line there is: it violated the rule of law. The rule of law says you cannot cheat in order to win. The act of cheating disqualifies the win. And if you didn’t legitimately win, then you never had the authority that would have flowed from that win. Donald Trump — as he’s been telling us since he “won” — has never been the legitimate President of the United States. It’s a stone cold fact. He’s never had the authority to do anything. None of it can stand — not “none of it should stand” — none of it can stand. That is, if we really and truly intend to enforce the rule of law.

Quick reminder: the rule of law has never stopped being in force. We have stopped enforcing it (having never enforced it properly to begin with). That does not mean it wasn’t in effect. The rule of law didn’t let us down, we let it down. Not the same thing. But, fortunately, we have a chance to fix that. Hell, we have in front of us a golden opportunity to do even better: we can create structures that guarantee (or do a better job of guaranteeing at least) that we follow the rule of law to the letter.

If we don’t enforce the rule of law — the founding principle of our republic — then the rule of law will eventually break down. Can we please learn this lesson?

When we finally factor in how Russia didn’t just “influence” the election on Trump’s behalf, but physically weighed in on its outcome — literally changing it from how We The People actually voted (or intended to vote) to what Don & Vladimir wanted — we’ll face a difficult Day of Reckoning. First in line for that day of reckoning will be Trump and every single Republican who allowed this to happen.

That will be every single Republican. “See something, say something” is part of the rule of law. When we even suspect anyone is violating the rule of law, the rule of law obligates us to say something to the authorities charged with enforcing it. That’s how it gets enforced. We The People actually work to maintain it. Self government isn’t automatic. To virtually a person, the Republican Party, though aware (even vaguely) that something was amiss, have not met their obligation as citizens following the rule of law.

This isn’t some “conspiracy theory” conspiracy, it’s a nuts & bolts conspiracy. A conspiracy of silence because… well, that will be what comes out at trial. The “why” each and every single Republican failed to uphold their oath of office. Most of their excuses will be the same. A few Republicans have indeed been compromised (Lindsey Graham, I bet… Dana Rohrbacher, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell for sure!) but most will have been willing participants who had little idea where the treason bus was headed. They didn’t care whether it was a treason bus or not.

We know — because the press reported it — that the Republicans knew for sure as early as the 2016 convention that Trump was owned by Moscow. No one called the FBI.

See something, say nothing? That’s how conspiracy works.

The case will be made — and made emphatically: Donald Trump did not win the presidency in 2016. Moscow won it for him — as an act of Cyber War. Trump — and everyone conspiring with him — are literal (not hyperbolic) traitors. He did not “win” the 2016 election in any way, shape or form.

What a relief that will be because finally, We The People will be off the hook.

The news media hammers away at us how “Yeah, but Trump won the election” or “But America voted for Trump!” No, he didn’t and we didn’t.

The question will land on our heads: “So, now that you know for a fact that Trump didn’t win the presidency and has never been legitimate POTUS, what do you intend to do about it?” Do we let an illegitimate president keep what he stole from us — OUR CHOICE? Would we let a car thief — caught inside our vehicle, pissing all over the nice leather seats — keep our car after we’ve caught him? I wouldn’t. You probably wouldn’t either.

Well, neither would the rule of law.

Judges were stolen from us. Judges and the lifetime of sitting on the federal bench that each (now doctrinaire conservative) judge will spend judging. Those judges should represent the majority’s choice and choices, not some treasonous minority’s.

Trump and the GOP will get their day of reckoning inside a court room (and then a federal prison). The news media — who kept hawking a story they knew (but couldn’t convince themselves) was true — will get their day of reckoning in the court of public opinion and the marketplace. Just like we can’t let a single Republican get away with what they’ve done, the same goes for every journalist who failed to meet their First Amendment obligation to be the final check on power.

Every journalist who repeated Trump’s bile context-free (looking at YOU, NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell) as if truth and bullshit had equal weight must confess their journalistic sins and atone.

Every journalist who asked “Yeah, but what if bullshit was true?” questions (looking at YOU, NBC News’ Stephanie Ruhl!) needs to acknowledge that they were directly responsible for giving bullshit the credence of Truth to the Truth’s detriment. The whole “fake news” meme stems from asking “Yeah, but what if bullshit was true?” Bullshit is never true. Ever.

So stop asking.

Finally, all those journalists will have to answer for their inability to aggregate the story of Donald Trump and the Republican Party. They will have to answer for why they couldn’t pry the normalcy bias blinders from their heads. They will have to answer for why — in spite of the mountains of evidence produced often by their own reporting — they couldn’t manage to build the narrative past a “square one” where Donald Trump was merely “a different kind of president”.

When Paul Manafort was convicted — when Roger Stone and Michael Cohen and every other Trumpanista was convicted — that wasn’t the starting point for their criminality. It was (we hope) the end point. Up until that moment though, they were actively engaged in committing the crime they were sentenced for. In Manafort’s case — it went back to the 2016 campaign. That means everything he did was criminal in real time. The lag in reporting it is the problem. Same goes for the time it took for us to enforce the rule of law.

We’re stuck in a problematic zone where an active crime is being committed upon us — we know it — the criminals know it — even the people reporting it know it — and yet, we’re strangely limited in our ability to do anything to stop it — in real time. But we must. The criminals here are on a do or die mission. There’s no going back now — look at what they’re all guilty of: treason. That’s still a capital offense. And think of how financially ruinous this will be for every guilty person and their family.

Treason will be a hard brand to shake — personally and universally. I don’t know how the Republican Party will ever stop being the party that nurtured treason in its heart. That went along with treason. That actively aided and abetted it.

The news media will have reported all this in real time — but failed to connect dots it should have connected. That’s for itself but more importantly for its audience — We The People. What damns our news media more than anything is that it wasn’t everyone. There were reporters and news writers and journalists who saw it from the get-go and screamed it as loud as they could with the means they were allowed. The news networks have the Big Megaphone. They decide which of those voices gets heard — and gets credence.

Imagine if MSNBC had swapped each Hugh Hewitt appearance for a Sarah Kendzior appearance. The mind boggles at how much further down the road to stopping this we’d be. Imagine if each and every reporter on staff was as sharp, focused and outraged as Nicolle Wallace, Rachel Maddow or Joy-Ann Reid. Yes, they bring a lot of advocacy to their journalism. But the thing they’re advocating for is the Truth.

I’m not sure what all those journalists will say when their day of reckoning comes but it had damned well better start with “I’m sorry.”

We Need Moral Journalism NOW

Journalists are front line storytellers. While a novelist writes at some remove from whatever time they’re writing about — it takes time to think out then write a novel (never mind the time it takes to get it published) — a journalist works in the right-here, right-now. A novelist writing “morally” has time to line up all that morality — to structure their story so that the moral message gets highlighted just the way they want. That’s a luxury most journalists just don’t have.

Therefore if a journalist wants to write morally (we’ll get to why they’d want to bother momentarily), they need to have their moral way of thinking lined up in advance.

Here’s the trick: EVERY journalist should want to write “morally”. Going forward, if we don’t get turned into a Trump-branded authoritarian shithole, writing morally — meaning writing that’s framed from a moral perspective rather than a neutral amoral one — will be an employment prerequisite.

Somewhere, somehow American journalism got it in its head that journalists are obligated to be utterly neutral in their reporting. If by utterly neutral they mean “apolitical” then yes — by all means — American journalists should be “neutral”. But, if by “neutral” they mean “amoral” then absolutely not. “Apolitical” and “amoral” aren’t the same thing. That’s at the heart of American journalism’s confusion.

If a politician charged with upholding the rule of law violates the rule of law, it does not matter what that politician’s party affiliation is. Every other politician is obligated by the rule of law to report the offending pol’s offense. If they don’t, the rule of law starts to break down because we’re not enforcing it evenly or equally. Therefore — when those other politicians go to the media to describe what the criminal politician is doing, they’re NOT ACTING POLITICALLY.

They’re acting patriotically. They’re FOLLOWING THE RULE OF LAW.

Ah, but… how many times do our journalists frame that reaction to actual criminal behavior as merely “political”? How many times do our journalists ASSUME that the motive behind REPORTING A CRIME isn’t to report the crime but to gain political advantage. Right there — the truth gets distorted by the very people responsible for reporting it. They’ve equated reporting a crime to journalists & the proper authorities as a political act — and thus, “both sides do it”.

That’s really more “both sides get accused of it by a stupid news media who don’t ever seem to do their homework”.

Both sides do it journalism has no sense of perspective or proportionality. To them a crime is a crime is a crime. Bernie Madoff — stealing billions from billionaires — is no different from, say Jean Valjean (the hero of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables) whose whole adventure begins when he steals bread to feed the hungry. Yes, both Bernie Madoff and Jean Valjean are thieves. Both were chased down by the Law. Framed that way, “both sides do it’.

But, really?

Storytelling can NEVER be divorced from morality. The whole point of storytelling is cultural self-analysis. Storytellers, as entertaining as they can be, are also part psychoanalyst. The best peer deeply into the cultural psyche and come away with remarkable observations about who we are and why we do what we do. That’s really why we love storytelling. We love seeing ourselves (however abstract) in the world the storyteller weaves. But, what happens when a culture’s storytellers lie to it? What happens when a culture’s storytellers — the fawning German right wing news media that supported Hitler, say — lies to the public about the politician they support? Lies become the truth.

That is, lies get taken for the Truth.

Nothing good can ever come from that dynamic. Lies are lies, Truth is Truth. There is no middle ground.

To report lies as if they were the truth is absolutely immoral. To report lies as if they “could be” the truth tap dances along the precipice. The only way to report lies as if they could be true is by using full transparency. The news audience needs every last bit of real perspective they can get — especially because the likelihood is that the lies aren’t true and never were.

It’s understood: on the one hand, it’s hard to tell your story when none of the interview subjects you need refuse to speak to you. But on the other — the cost of access to those interviews cannot be your soul or integrity. You’re going to need both of those things in order to conduct the interview. New York Times reporter Judith Miller became notorious for selling out her soul to (then) veep Dick Cheney. She lied in print to protect her source Scooter Libby — Cheney’s chief of staff. That kinda sucks as journalism.

It’s damned immoral, too.

I have a funny feeling America is about to enter a Great Moral Reckoning. Once it begins, it will gather momentum — and the momentum will gather momentum as we learn more and more just how corrupt Donald Trump was. The real momentum will gather when We The People realize just how corrupt and treacherous the entire Republican Party has been.

A reporter telling a story about white supremacists should absolutely do everything in their power to reveal the human being beneath their story. But that doesn’t include touting their vile, racist rhetoric as justifiable in some way just because you’re telling the story “neutrally”.

If you’re telling Evil’s story, you need to point out that it’s Evil. Telling a story about how “Evil is misunderstood” isn’t journalism, it’s you, the journalist, being stupid.

Worse — it’s the journalist being amoral which, in this world, is the exact same as being immoral.

There’s no middle ground in a war between Good and Evil. Similarly, there’s no middle ground in a war between Truth and lies. Both Good and Evil, Truth and lies have a “point of view”. They don’t all have “a side”. That is, they’re point of view cannot be justified.

Reporting that point of view as if it “could” be justified — say, by asking “Yeah, but what if fascism has a few merits?” — is giving credence to it. See, it says, fascism could have merits.

I won’t dignify such immorality with a response.

Dear American News Media — You All Report That Trump’s So Desperate To Win He’ll Destroy The Post Office; PLEASE ASK WHY!

This is not a “why did the chicken cross the road?” question. Donald Trump doesn’t want to win this election just “to get to the other side”. It’s pretty much universal now that Trump is cheating to win right before our eyes. That is, “cheating to win again.”

That’s how it’s put by the “news” media. He’s cheating to win again. That suggests he cheated to win at least once before — and considering as the only other election Donald Trump ran in was 2016, that says that our news media acknowledges now that if not for cheating, Trump would not be president today.

Think about that — and think about how we’re “thinking about it”.

In theory, cheating to win is a literal impossibility. You might “win” by cheating but, if we’re playing by the rules, by cheating, you disqualified yourself from winning. The rule of law is quite clear on this point. One cannot win by cheating. In fact, if one cheats to win, one opens oneself up to all sorts of legal exposure. I know we may not be enforcing the rule of law as I write this, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still completely in effect. It absolutely is — and we will return to living under it except this time (we hope) correctly.

But, I digress. Even Trump will say out loud that destroying the post office is to prevent Americans from voting. If Americans vote the way they’re going to, it’s not a question of if Trump loses, it’s a question by how much he’ll get blown out by. That’s Trump and every single Republican running on the ticket with him. Trump already has a whole wing to himself in the Museum Of Historical Miscalculations. Going after the post office — even as an act of desperation — is idiotic. He’s a Dumbass Don Quixote tilting not at a windmill but a T Rex which promptly eats him like a cocktail olive.Republic

Even some of the rubes Trump tricked into voting against their own best interests last time have suddenly turned. They get it: if their prescription opioids get delayed coming through the mail, they’re screwed. Ditto any sort of check they rely on in lieu of electronic payment. You can shoot yourself in the foot only so many times before it’s completely useless to you.

It’s conceivable now — unless Trump stops bullshitting the nation about vote-by-mail’s reliability and allows the USPS to do its job the best way it knows how — most of the stage AG’s will go after DeJoy, Trump’s Postmaster General flunky for deliberately screwing up mail delivery in their states. Voting for Trump now equals “Killing the Post Office”. As political marketing goes, that flat out sucks. Good luck selling it.

Of course, the point isn’t to “sell” anything. It’s to stop just enough Americans from either voting or having their votes count so that voting machines in certain states important to the Electoral College can be electronically flipped. Any machine that in any way connects to the internet is vulnerable. But then, isn’t that the point? If you really wanted a totally safe, secure election to take place — without having technology just for the sake of having it (especially when it’s the thing that makes voting vulnerable) — you’d accept hand-marked paper ballots and that would be the end of it.

Republicans are cynics. Their actions say it. I cannot think of a single Republican — Mitt Romney included — who isn’t walking around with knowledge in their heads that make them complicit in a grand conspiracy to rob the American people of their electoral choice. Everyone with an “R” next to their name believes deep down that the end justifies the means. The end that every Republican has in mind is permanent minority rule.

To get to that end, the Republicans made the worst Devil’s bargain ever: they hitched their wagon to Donald Trump despite knowing he was corrupt — and despite knowing that he was literally OWNED by Russia. Republican leadership knew it going into their 2016 convention. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously announced to a meeting of the Republican leadership that “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. The GOP leadership didn’t run to the FBI, fearful about the implications for their presidential nominee. No, they agreed to go along with then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s demand that they “keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.”

So — Republicans have always known that Trump’s relationship with Russia was “problematic” from a legal point of view. They must have understood it that way because they knew to keep it secret. When Barack Obama wanted to alert We The People about Russia’s active determination to make Trump POTUS, Mitch McConnell threatened to accuse Obama of politicizing the intelligence. Moscow Mitch knew for a fact that that wasn’t at all what Obama was doing.

For some reason, our news media can’t aggregate a story. They can’t add information so that they’re understanding of Trump — and how to report him — evolves. That’s terrible storytelling. It’s not journalism. Even a quick perusal of the Mueller Report (versus taking Bill Barr’s word about it) — with an understanding that it doesn’t represent the entirety of the Trump-Russia story but merely a thin tranche of it — says Donald Trump cheated to win in 2016 and committed treason while doing it.

For some reason, our news media can’t aggregate the guy who was impeached in the House for trying to cheat in the coming election with the guy who’s trying to destroy the Post Office in order to cheat in the coming election. Even just those two things aggregated gives us a person, shall we say, unusually motivated to want to win an election. But, WHY?

Yeah, sure, everyone likes to win. Shitheads like Donald Trump are especially dedicated to winning at all costs because they’re man-babies whose frail emotional architecture can’t stand up to losing. But, that doesn’t explain them breaking the law to win. Well, it doesn’t explain Trump breaking the law so flagrantly, so willfully, so desperately.

At every character’s core is “why”. Why they do what they do. Why they get up in the morning and will themselves to get through the day. Even if they can’t articulate the why, there is one. No one does things “for no reason” except in the minds of bad storytellers and way too many American journalists.

Trump doesn’t do immoral, corrupt, racist, misogynistic, ignorant things because “he’s a different kind of POTUS”. He’s does them because he IS all those things. Especially corrupt.

When Fusion GPS was hired by the Washington Free Beacon in 2016 to do oppo research on Donald Trump, the first thing they did (according to co-founder Glenn Simpson in his Congressional testimony) was their due diligence. They sought out every bit of publicly available information on Donald J. Trump. They got ahold of newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasts, TV shows — anything and everything. They went to book stores, Amazon, even the public library.

Simpson testified that what they found there — in publicly available material — convinced them that Trump might have used his bankrupted Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money — a fact which Vladimir Putin knew and exploited. That’s why they subcontracted that part of the research to Christopher Steele’s Orbis. Steele, former head of MI6’s Russia desk, had the best contacts inside Russia bar none.

The reason Trump needs America to believe the investigation into him isn’t even remotely a hoax is because he’s so incredibly guilty in so many ways. The only thing shielding Trump from indictment and prosecution right now is a silly DoJ rule (not a law) that says sitting presidents can’t be indicted.

That rule is Trump’s Hail Mary. The longer he can keep it in the air? The longer he’s not a federal prisoner for the rest of his life. His best bet? Never stop being POTUS. Ever.

That’s the “why”, you see, at the center of Donald Trump’s core.

He won’t tell you that, of course — he probably can’t articulate it. But then, Donald Trump can’t articulate anything directly. He’s an ignorant boob operating far, far above his competency. He’s making it up as he goes along and he has zero imagination.

But then, that shouldn’t be hard to discern. The evidence has come at us in a relentless stream of reporting. So has the evidence that Trump is a traitor.

If only there was someone out there to report it…

Dear American News Media: Even Villains Do Things For A Reason — Like, Say, Republicans…

Never mind how many times Donald Trump lies, I want a running total of how many time American news people wonder aloud while scratching their heads why the Republican Party continues to march in lock step with him. I bet the journalists are winning.

If they scratch their heads any harder, all those journalists will have permanent divots in their skulls.

Imagine staring at the obvious for that long without seeing it.

Think of it in terms of storytelling. What if a storyteller told you a story where a lot of the characters did things “just because”. Why did that character screw over that other character? Just because. Why did this character murder that other character? Just because. Hey, one could write a story that took place entirely in a “just because” world where nothing seemed to have any purpose. In fact, one could create an entire genre — we could call it “existentialism” or “absurdism” — as we already did.

Except we don’t live in an absurdist world, absurd as our world is. People may do things for absurd reasons but they do have their reasons. That’s the point. Even if someone can’t articulate why they did something staggeringly stupid, down deep, there was something that triggered them to action. Even an animal impulse is tied to the rest of who they are — and they’re willingness to give in to animal impulses others teach themselves to ignore.

Storytelling can go wherever it wants but it has to follow one basic rule: it must mirror actual human behavior or we’ll turn on it. How many times have you been reading a book or watching a movie or TV show when one of the characters did or said something so completely out of character that the whole story suddenly felt weak? We demand satisfaction from our stories. Stories that try to deceive us about how human beings are do not satisfy us.

In storytelling, villains especially must have a purpose. Even if the audience can’t discern it (that can make a horror movie even scarier), the villain itself must have a reason for doing what it does. Because human beings do. And human beings understand from experience that when humans do rotten things, if they’re not genuinely deranged (a purpose unto itself), they’re doing that rotten thing for very clear reasons.

A Bond villain has a purpose — world domination. Granted, it seems kinda foolhardy (who’d want the agita?) and hard to enforce here in reality (the enforcement costs better be figured into the business model because those all by themselves are going to be astronomical and the money to pay for it has to come from somewhere), but you can’t say it’s not a purpose.

Darth Vader has a purpose. Lex Luthor has a purpose. Doc Oc has a purpose.

So does every stinking Republican.

Mitch McConnell had a purpose when he denied Merrick Garland so much as a hearing. He had a purpose when — in the Gang Of 8 meeting at the WH, September 2016 — he vowed to accuse President Barack Obama of “politiciziing the intelligence” if Obama let We The People in on the secret that Russia was actively engaged in perverting our upcoming election toward Donald Trump. Mitch had a purpose when he removed the sanctions against Oleg Deripaska — sanctions imposed because Russia made Donald Trump president — to get a Russian aluminum factory in chronically impoverished western Kentucky. The hundred or so newly employed hillbillies were a throw in bonus. Mitch’s real purpose was committing treason.

Well, to be more exact, Mitch’s Russian handlers compelled Mitch to commit treason. But that’s just technical stuff. It doesn’t change the bottom line about Mitch McConnell: he’s a traitor. He’s been a traitor since before the election — that’s why Mitch has behaved as he’s behaved. He’s not just being a “political master”. He’s being a criminal — a criminal behaving politically because he’s using our political system both to commit his crime and to cover up his crime. See how framing changes things?

Take note, American news media — Mitch McConnell (our example) — isn’t doing what he’s doing out of blind loyalty to Donald Trump. Mitch McConnell has a purpose. Stop scratching your heads please.

Now (that you’ve stopped scratching your heads), please look around. See all those other Republicans whose actions you can’t fathom? They’re just like Mitch. They’re complicit. We’ll find out in time how early more and more Republicans understood — even if only implicitly — that Donald Trump was not behaving legally — that he would never have “won” the presidency (or they their offices) without direct Russian meddling in the election’s results.

They all knew “something happened” election night. They knew damned well it wasn’t “undeclared Trump voters”. Those at the top definitely knew that Russia was deeply, deeply involved. They knew Russia had more than just a hand; at the very least, Russia had money in the game — and money in the game was strictly illegal. We KNOW the Republicans knew, it was reported on FFS!

Now GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, upon entering a meeting of GOP leaders during the 2016 GOP convention, said out loud “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Did anyone in the room reply “What? Kevin — how do you know this? Quick, someone — get the FBI on the phone — we must report this likely criminal behavior!”? No, strangely, they did not. They did exactly as then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan insisted they do: “keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.”

If Putin paying Rohrbacher and Trump was legal, do you really think Paul Ryan would have insisted they keep it in the family?

This is what’s called “consciousness of guilt“.

Now, I know it’s a can of worms, but here goes (and I’m talking to the media here) — Consciousness of Guilt” is a real thing. It can be used to convict real people of real crimes. That means when people whose stories you’re trying to tell exhibit clear consciousness of guilt? It’s incumbent on you (the storyteller) to make that part of the story too. They’re signalling to you that there’s more to them than you know. Storytellers — good ones anyway — like that sort of thing. It gives our stories somewhere interesting to go.

So much the better that it’s all 100% true.

From the get-go, Republicans have had a reason for suppressing Democratic voters. Donald Trump has a reason for saying vote-by-mail is corrupt. The instant Trump stops being president, not only will his legal problems begin (and probably never end), so too will the legal problems of every single Republican.

Good villains have simple desires (even if those desires were arrived at by a complex process). The Republicans may be bad people but — in their defense — they are excellent villains (mostly because they fill the role so completely). They do what they because they’re corrupt. They want to overturn all our democratic principles and processes to install permanent minority rule.

I ask you this, American News Media: would tell a James Bond story from Bloefeld’s point of view? You could; it would even be interesting. But it’s still from the villain’s point of view and our culture cannot survive by glorifying villainy. It’s just how culture is. To see a story from a villain’s point of view — without condemning that point of view — is to give that point of view credence. The villain might have a point.

No, he doesn’t. He may have a point of view but, ironically, he has no point: his argument cannot carry water.

That’s the problem our news media has — and they’re inability to see the problem they have is causing all kinds of ripple effect harm.

We know why villains do things — they’re corrupt. We also know why our news media fails us regularly — they’re mediocre.

Why Doesn’t The American News Media Ever Ask “WHY?”

Our news media tirelessly report every vile utterance that tumbles from Donald Trump’s bloated orange lie hole. On the bright side, at least a few of them have begun to find the courage to stand up to Trump — to refuse to accept his bullshit — refusing to accept the lies. But, unfortunately, most of the press still fears losing access and so refuse to do anything that might anger Trump or his snowflake staff.

When they cut back to the “studio” (whatever & wherever that is these days), the host plus talking heads will ask why Trump behaves this way. They’ll ask why most Republicans continue to follow Trump blindly. They’ll wonder how anyone could run on the things Trump and the Republicans are doing. Some journalists will scratch their heads so hard, they’ll create permanent divots in their scalps.

They’ll all ask “why” as if it was a mystery deeper than the Mona Lisa’s smile.

But, problem is, they’re not actually asking “why”. They’re using the word as a kind of shrug. What they’re really saying is “I guess they ‘do it’ just because they do”.

How “it is what it is” of them. Except, no. No one does anything “just because”. People doing bizarre things might not be able to articulate why they’re doing it but something inside them is causing them to do it. There’s a motive. It may not be satisfying to outsiders or even logical. But there’s a motive.

Donald Trump lies because he’s a sociopath. He behaves like a spoiled child because that’s what he is (ask his niece Mary Trump; better yet, read her very good book). He kowtows to Vladimir Putin because he’s beholden to him — because Putin knows things about Trump that are absolutely, positively criminal. But then, so do we. We’re staring at them all.

Why does Donald Trump do what he does? Basically, because he’s a criminal. There’s a whole mountain range of evidence. Shame the news media refuse to either look at it or, having looked at it, refuse to accept what that evidence is telling them.

Maybe the better question is why does our news media suck at its job?

And How Exactly DOES One “Compromise” With Evil?

Too much of the American news media still has it in their heads that “both sides do it”. Whatever rotten things Republicans do, plenty of reporters, before they get to the rotten things, will remind their audience that it’s not just Republicans who do this rotten thing, “both sides do it”. Got proof?

Do both sides work tirelessly to suppress the other sides voters? No, actually, only one side does that.

Did both sides visit Russia on July 4, 2018 as 8 Republicans did, inexplicably spending America’s Independence Day not with their families but with Russians — for no apparent reason that no one’s ever explained?

Do both sides put children in cages?

Do both sides stand with racists and bigots and misogynists?

Do both sides politicize the wearing of masks?

Do both sides stand by Donald Trump regardless of the clear and evident danger he presents?

Do both sides openly ignore the rule of law & the Constitution? Do both sides happily pour our tax dollars into the pockets of their rich friends while regular Americans spend hours in line at food banks?

Take the current fracas over unemployment benefits to all the Americans who’ve been crushed economically by the pandemic and by our government’s thieving, contradictory, inept & flat out corrupt response to it. Democrats want to maintain the $600/week most Americans receiving that money are now relying on to pay their bills. Republicans wanted to knock it down to $200/week.

Trump, in his executive “whatever’s” signed last night at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ to a room of cheering, maskless golf buddies (well, maskless before the press complained), wanted to give everyone $400. Looks like a compromise, right?

It’s not. A person who needs $600 to pay their bills needs $600. Every bill not paid remains unpaid — and the pressure to pay it mounts.

The Republicans scream that paying people more in unemployment than their unemployment pays disincentivizes them to go back to work. That’s the slave master screaming about his slaves not wanting to be slaves. The fact that $600 means so much to so many people isn’t about people being lazy, it’s about people being horribly underpaid. What Republicans are really afraid of — and they should be — is the lab experiment America is now conducting about economics and reality.

Americans are getting a first hand look at how Universal Basic Income (UBI) works. Unlike a bank, when sustenance income lands in the pockets of a regular person, they spend it. They buy groceries or pay their electric bill. They pay for their kids’ braces or ballet classes. They pay to fix the car or repair the leaking roof. The thing regular people don’t do with UBI? They don’t bank it like banks do.

They don’t hoard it. They use the money and that, in turn, cash flows the economy from the bottom up. Because other regular people are getting paid — their jobs are supported by all that UBI — they pay their taxes and use their money to pay other people for goods and services. UBI is dynamic. UBI — paid at the federal level because only the federal government can do this — is how America will finally get the coronavirus pandemic under control. We need to incentivize people to stay home without fearing they’ll end up homeless.

In a non-pandemic environment, UBI allows people to wait for employment that suits them, suits their skill sets, suits their needs. It makes for happier people, more productive people. Wealthier people. Everywhere they’ve experimented with UBI or systems like it, it has succeeded.

Why would one oppose such a thing? Usually, it’s greed. Greed plus ignorance — especially after one gets to eyewitness all UBI’s obvious benefits. As we now know — also from experience — greed + ignorance = evil. Greed + ignorance also equals authoritarianism. That means authoritarianism = evil. No one with half a brain disputes that the Republican Party has gone full authoritarian.

So — when the yakking heads at CNN & MSNBC get Democrats on their air to interview them about things like the economic support packages the Democrats are pushing vs the packages the Republicans are pushing, those “journalists” go right to the politics of it. They “both sides do it” an argument about regular Americans putting food on their tables. They equate Democrats wanting to maintain the $600/week Americans need with the $200/week the Republicans wanted in the deal as if these were two sides to two legitimate arguments.

Except they’re not. The $600 is a legitimate attempt to deal with real people having real problems.

The $200 (and even the $400) aren’t trying to address anything. They’re just numbers being thrown down on the table as part of a negotiation — AWAY FROM what struggling Americans need and toward what would cause them greater hardship. Never mind the fact that the money in question? IT BELONGS TO THOSE AMERICANS. It does not belong to the politicians trying to withhold it.

What kind of compromise do these reporters have in mind? If THEY needed that money to pay THEIR families, would they feel so “you should compromise because compromise is good”? Would they be cool with looking their children in the eyes to explain that they’re going hungry tonight because “both sides do it”? Would THEY be down with compromising — especially when they know they’re not compromising with a legitimate argument but with a specious, corrupt, cynical attempt to stiff them?

Of course they wouldn’t.

So, why do they think We The People should compromise with evil?

Once we scrub our body politic clean of Republicans and Republicanism, we’ll need to turn our focus on the news media. They have failed us spectacularly. Worse, most of them still don’t see it or acknowledge it. They’re like addicts who still refuse to acknowledge their addiction.

No worries. We’ll throw an intervention.

When they try to make us compromise? We’ll say no.