The Rule Of Law Didn’t Let Us Down, We Let IT Down

Laws don’t enforce themselves. People have to do that for them. If people don’t enforce the rules they created for themselves, they shouldn’t be surprised when the rules stop being followed.

The Great Experiment that is the United States is its reliance upon law — not an individual ruler’s whims — as the basis for our co-existence with each other. In theory, the rule of law treats us as exactly equal before it. If I break a law, I will get treated the exact same as anyone else. The rule of law does not differentiate or make exceptions.

It’s the exceptions that ultimately kill the rule of law. The moment the rule of law treats one person differently, it opens the door to corruption. Others will want the same treatment. Some will get it. The rule of law is now broken.

Or is it? The rule of law hasn’t changed. It didn’t suddenly do something different that altered how it works. It didn’t slip out of gear or get a flat tire.

We stopped following it.

The fact that Donald Trump has never been punished for his overt criminality isn’t a proof that he can get away with anything because the rule of law doesn’t work, it’s proof that people let Trump get away with things because they refuse to enforce the rule of law against him. Not the same thing.

Trump thinks he can get away with shit because rich people, in general, get away with shit. Aside from Bernie Madoff — who got punished because he preyed on rich people — not many rich people ever have to pay for their criminal behavior. We made a terrible mistake allowing Gerald Ford to pardon Richard Nixon. Whatever short term “good feelings” were gained from an act of forgiveness were overshadowed by the even more criminal behavior of the former Nixonites who went to work for Trump: Paul Manafort and Roger Stone in particular.

If we had punished Nixon severely for his trespasses, would his sycohpants have been so quick to take up Nixon’s cause again? Yeah, guys like Haldeman and Ehrlichman went to prison, but Nixon didn’t — and that spoke louder to the Nixonites who managed to escape back into the shadows. The message wasn’t “don’t do it!”, it was “do it better so you don’t get caught!”

That was us letting the rule of law down. The rule of law’s still good, we said, except as it applies to Richard Nixon.

Nixon went on to rise from the ashes again. His reputation — which should have been stuck forever at “he IS a crook — saw him as a statesman again.

I guess it’s a white people thing — to let white people we perceive as “powerful” get away with anything they want. Cos “powerful”. And white.

We need to get it out of our heads that the rule of law stopped. It did not. We stopped following it — but the rule of law persisted. In order to win election 2016, Donald Trump & the GOP had to stop following the rule of law. That means a crime has gone unpunished, not that Trump is president.

Donald Trump & the Republican Party stole something very real in 2016. They stole the election’s real outcome. The fact that Trump, Russia and the GOP worked so hard to make that happen — that speaks to the nature of their conspiracy. Though it may not have been plotted out like in a movie — this fell together in pieces, jollied along by Russia as needed. Voter suppression, voter machine manipulation (we don’t know IF it happened but we don’t know it didn’t because no one has actually looked) and outright data theft: those stolen emails were first & foremost STOLEN.

It doesn’t matter what the emails said (in the end they said nothing). It matters only that they were stolen property being used nefariously by Russia. Every time the press danced along to “But her emails”, the press was buying into a bunch of thieves kicking their victim a little bit harder.

As Saint Ronnie Reagan would have put it, “There you go again”.

That was us letting the rule of law down — again.

The Democrats can’t “wait” till November — with a blowout in hand — to assert the rule of law’s return. They need to assert it’s return NOW. As Joe Biden did when he pointedly called out Russia for their intercessions in 2016 and now, We The people need to put Donald Trump & the GOP on notice: we see you openly committing crimes this very second — and we intend to prosecute you for it — starting with the crimes you committed on your way to stealing the presidency — and everything that came with that (judges especially).

The whole point of the Republican Party’s gambit was to undermine the rule of law. That deserves appropriate punishment. We owe it to the Republicans to tell them what’s coming — and then we owe it to ourselves and the rule of law to deliver it.

What “Both Sides Do It” Journalism Gets Especially Wrong: Both Sides Don’t Always Act “Politically”

It’s a simple fact: American journalism has, by and large, failed America. The press is the only job mentioned in the constitution. It’s obligated there to be the final check on power. Too bad they abdicated that responsibility eons ago.

I’d love to know at which J-School this virus first started. “Both sides do it” is the basis for every false equivalence that brought us to this catastrophe. It replaces healthy skepticism with outright cynicism — a very conservative thing to do. The only outcome is a bad outcome (it says) — so assume the worst of everyone regardless of the truth.

“Both sides do it” says that Bernie Madoff is a thief. And, so is Jean Valjean (the hero in Les Miserables). Madoff stole billions because he’s greedy. Valjean stole bread to feed the hungry. But — under “Both Sides Do It”, both men are thieves. So — both sides do it. The difference in scale and context means nothing. All information has equal weight — regardless of whether it’s true or false.

That’s the framing our press insists on. Fortunately, they’ve stopped giving air time to climate deniers (though they put Trump on their air, so I take that back). But, when they put climate deniers on their air regularly, they always sat the denier next to a climate scientist in a 50-50 shot. In the visual language, that means those two points of view are equal.

It’s true. We interpret visual images in very distinct ways. If you present two points of view in a way that says they’re equal regardless of whether they are or not, your framing has already undermined the truth.

Same token — if you present anything Donald Trump says without the context that he’s probably lying, then YOU are lying to your audience. You’re implying via your silence on the matter that, of course, he’s telling the truth. When he says things that (you know) are outright lies and you DON’T correct them immediately? They BECOME the truth. How can they not? No one contradicted their UNtruthfulness.

Each time a “Both Sides Do It” journalist gives the benefit of the doubt to someone or something undeserving (MSNBC’s Stephanie Rhule is especially guilty of this), they give credence to something that had none. “Yeah, but what if total bullshit were true…?” is not “journalism”. It’s indulging liars, fabulists and frauds.

“Both Sides Do It” journalists get suckered by job titles. It’s as if the moment Trump became POTUS, he became “infallible” to some of the press. NBC’s awful Kelly O’Donnell comes to mind. She’ll quote anything Trump says without an ounce of context. The president said it, Kelly insists. She’s just there to report what he says.

I’m curious… if Trump (for shits n giggles one day) said “And I know for a fact that Kelly O’Donnell kills puppies and eats them for breakfast every day”, would Kelly O repeat those words without comment — words that SHE KNOWS are not true? Would she suddenly decide then to be a little less “neutral”?

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what Kelly O would do. She’s that terrible at being a journalist (hell, an open mic on a stand could do what she does).

When Mitch McConnell refused to give Merrick Garland so much as a hearing — THAT was a political act. Any Democrat reacting to Mitch’s abuse of his power is NOT acting politically. They’re pointing to an inappropriate political act.

Similarly — when Donald Trump violates the Constitution (say, by openly violating its emoluments clause every single day), it’s not a political act to point out that fact. It’s somewhere between law enforcement and patriotism. Similarly — when the Democrats called out the Republicans for working with the Russians to steal election 2016, that was not a political response.

It was a CRIME VICTIM trying to report that a CRIME had been committed — against them, against the American People, against democracy itself. FFS — it’s like a robbery victim calling the police — only to have them come and arrest HIM for being the crime’s victim.

That’s the most frustrating part of “Both Sides Do It” journalism. It constantly mischaracterizes what Democrats do, say and think.

Trust me, American Journalism, while my opposition to Donald Trump has a massive political element to it, another big element is purely patriotic. Both sides do not conspire with hostile foreign governments to undermine the integrity of an American election.

Both sides do not then cover up every aspect of that conspiracy in every way they can — out in the open even.

Both sides do not aspire to permanent minority rule.

Both sides do not — like the Kochs — intend to use their money to direct American politics how THEY want it to go.

Both sides do not think there are more important things (the economy) than living.

Both sides do not aspire to open up America’s economy — however many deaths it causes — because they need to win an election.

When this is all done and dusted — and we’ve buried the Republican Party alongside the Whigs — we must then turn our attention to the press.

We need to bury “Both Sides Do It” in the same cemetery.

Dear MSM – Connecting Dots Isn’t Rocket Science – Except Apparently To YOU…

“Gosh. I wonder what it could be,” said the American Journalist…

Storytelling, at its core is simple dot-connecting. We start at the beginning and connect the dots all the way to the end – with lots of zigging and zagging in between.  The image that all those connected dots ultimately form – that’s our story. 

As the dots connect, they form the larger context for each of the dots.  They aren’t just dots floating in space.  They’re part of a much larger picture.  Dot Number 2 and Dot Number 50 are related if distantly.  They’re both part of the same context.

Journalists are storytellers first and foremost.  The difference (in theory) between them and regular joe’s who write blogs is “rigor”.  Journalists need to back up their stories with multiple sources.  Or one really, really good one.  The point of all that rigor is to make sure the dots connect correctly.

But too many American journalists bore so deeply into the one point they focused on that they forget that a larger context even exists.  Or they started connecting dots already infected by “Both Sides Do It”.  When that happens, perspective is impossible.  Then you get mavens of journalistic malpractice like NBC’s Chuck Todd.  Chuck is good at connecting dots.  Problem is, he connects dots that shouldn’t be connected because, though they’ll make a picture, it’s not a real picture. 

For example – Bernie Madoff is a thief.  He stole billions (from rich people).  Jean Valjean, the hero of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is also a thief.  He steals bread to feed people who are hungry.  In Chuck Todd’s world, that means “both sides do it” because Bernie Madoff and Jean Valjean are both thieves.  Scale (perspective) never enters into it.  Chuck Todd regularly compares things of wildly different scale and insists they’re the exact same thing.

So – putting the Chuck Todd’s of the journalistic world aside, the rest of American Journalism needs to remind itself that a picture made up of connected dots remains a picture regardless of whether you stop looking at it.  When you turn from one part of the larger story to another – those dots don’t suddenly disconnect.  They STAY connected.  The story THEY tell remains valid and true.

Just because you go from a story about Donald Trump and his curious relationship with Vladimir Putin (and Putin’s “possible” impact on election 2016) to a story about Donald Trump trying to extort the Ukraine as part of his 2020 campaign strategy doesn’t mean the “Putin Cheats For 2016 Donald” dots aren’t related to the “Extort The Ukraine As Part Of The 2020” dots.  You have to bring all the connected dots with you from story to story – especially because you want to see if the dots from one story connect to any others.

The answer here is – YES!  All dots connect.  And all dots lead to Donald Trump being a Russian intelligence asset working against America’s interests and for his own interests and Russia’s. 

Today, the three Republicans trying to primary Trump all accused Trump of committing Treason.  They see clearly now how the dots all connect.

Some Perspective On Perspective

As much as I might want to see the world through another person’s eyes, it’s a physical impossibility. The best I can ever really hope for is to imagine what the world literally looks like as they see it. It’s a fact — we all experience “experience” differently.

Imagine a cube sitting alone on a vast, featureless plain. From the cube’s point of view, all one can see — turning 360 degrees — is plain. From the plain’s perspective however, there’s endless plain — and a cube. Differing perspectives see differing things. But one of the two perspectives saw everything (or more of everything) while the other failed to see a key detail.

As a Nation, we stand at a moment of existential crisis because we have lost perspective — and our perspective was dubious to begin with.

How is it that a criminal and traitor occupies the White House and we are seemingly powerless to remove him from office? How is that all this information about Donald Trump’s criminality — including 488 pages of Mueller Report — and we STILL can’t even officially accuse the man of what he’s demonstrably done?

It’s like the Truth is that cube sitting in the middle of vast, featureless plain — and we, living inside the Truth, can’t see it because we’re so “close to it”. If we could just get some perspective, we’d get it. Our news media has a related problem. They want to get at the truth — but don’t seem to realize that the deep dives they take — while detailed — aren’t adding significantly to our overall knowledge because they’re too focused on detail. Or on the wrong details…

A story (like Trump’s with Russia, for instance) is a mosaic. Each tile is significant. The problem is, our Main Stream News Media — while awfully good at boring into any particular tile — have a tendency (while boring in on the particular tile that’s drawn their interest) to forget all the other tiles in the mosaic.

Some of them even forget that the thing they’re looking at is part of a mosaic. They convince themselves that the piece they’re looking at IS the whole picture while the Whole Picture actually looks a lot like this

On a related note — and a similar metaphor — there are the numbers crunchers like NBC’s Steve Kornacki. Kornacki can tell you a lot of fascinating detail about the numbers themselves — how a district voted historically, how a particular candidate has fared with a particular group of voters. But Kornacki’s assumption that the past is prologue doesn’t apply to now. We’ve never had an actual traitor as POTUS — and we’ve never had one of our two political parties committed to keeping that traitor in power.

The details on the ground matter more than the fact that there’s “ground”. Put another way, Number crunchers like Steve Kornacki can wax rhapsodic about a grain of sand (how small it is — or big compared to other grains of sand, what kind of rock it came from, how old it is, what its future probably is) …

Yeah — Kornacki can show you the beauty in a grain of sand. But beyond that things get sketchy…

Almost as important as knowing about the grain of sand is knowing where the grain of sand lives. And that’s something Kornacki can only guess at — because he’s lost perspective (and maybe never had it to begin with). For all Kornacki knows, the grain of sand he’s fixated on comes from here…

But, for all Steve knows, it could just as easily come from the surface of Mars…

It’s lack of perspective that first fed the ludicrous idea that “both sides do it”. “Both sides do it” always functions without any sense of scale — or perspective. To the “both sides do it” crowd, Bernie Madoff and Jean Valjean (from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables) are both thieves — never mind that one ripped off people to the tune of billions while the other stole bread to feed the hungry. The respective-less Both Sides Do It club says thievery is thievery is thievery (if poor people or people of color do it).

Storytellers need to be able to pull the camera back as far as it will go — and then further still. A storyteller with no perspective is a person to whom that story is being told.

They’re like a cube sitting on a wide open, featureless plain…

The American Museum Of MSM Mediocrity Is Open For Business… Care For A Tour?

The bad news: America’s news media has not lived up to its Constitutional obligation to be the final check on power. But, on the bright side, there’s now a brand-spanking-new museum to highlight every bit of their crushing failure: Welcome to the new AMERICAN MUSEUM OF MSM MEDIOCRITY.

Now, meet your tour guide — the “HEWITT-BOT 2000”

HEWITT-BOT 2000: Hello, human. I am Hewitt-Bot 2000. I am a reasonable facsimile of Hugh Hewitt — a man whose continuing appearances on Main Stream Media outlets defies all rational explanation.

We are pleased to have you here with us today to celebrate all the extraordinary mediocrity in American News Media. First, please follow me into our Entrance Hall — where you’ll find our “SALUTE TO SALIERI, PATRON SAINT OF MEDIOCRITY”…

We hope you appreciate how important mainstream news media mediocrity is to us here. Actually, our other Patron Saint — CHUCK TODD — was supposed to be here to greet you today but he overslept.

First let’s enter the HALL OF FALSE EQUIVALENCE.

Here in the Hall Of False Equivalence, we equate things that have no business being equated. Over on the far wall is the “EVERYTHING WEIGHS THE SAME” exhibit…

Here at the Museum of MSM Mediocrity, we believe that every piece of information, no matter what, weighs exactly the same as every other piece of information. Think of it this way…

A giant barbell and a tiny feather may not look like they weigh the same — but they do if we say they do! They both have weight, don’t they? Boom — THEY’RE THE SAME!

These Things Weigh The Same…

Still not getting it? How about this… We all know Bernie Madoff is a thief.

He stole BILLIONS of dollars and ruined people. He’s a criminal! But, hey — so is JEAN VALJEAN, the hero of Victor Hugo’s “LES MISERABLES” Jean stole bread to feed the hungry…

But, here at the Museum of MSM Mediocrity, we say “A thief is a thief is a thief”. And voila! Another FALSE EQUIVALENCE is born! Steal a billion or feed the hungry — it’s all thievery as far as we’re concerned!

Now, follow me into the next hall where THE HUGH HEWITT SHRINE awaits…

People ask me all the time — “Hewitt-Bot 2000, how can someone as intensely mediocre as Hugh Hewitt keep getting air time on all these major news outlets?” And we always tell them — “Why do you think? Hugh has naked pictures of everyone!”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Let’s Prepare For The Disappointment Now: At The End Of The Day, The Press WILL Let Us Down

Now, I don’t mean EVERYONE in the Main Stream Media. But ALMOST everyone. We shouldn’t be here — at the precipice of our Republic going down the toilet because of Republic-ans.

If we don’t pull this back from the brink and an honest history of our times never gets written, the story will never be told of how a foolish notion — that “both sides do it” — was the basis for the complete and utter failure of the American Press to uphold their Constitutionally mandated duty to be the final check on power. We need to know where this ludicrous need for false equivalence comes from. That’s what “both sides do it” is — it’s the Mother Of All False Equivalences.

It’s like saying Bernie Madoff is a thief — he’s a rich guy who stole from other rich guys. Jean Valjean (fictional though he is) stole bread because people were hungry and needed it. Poor guy. See? Both rich guys AND poor guys BOTH “steal”. Both sides do it.

Never mind proportion or perspective. Both sides do it.

This ludicrous idea has sailed past abstraction and now sits like a giant dodo bird atop American journalism — holding it down while death circles overhead like crows in a Boschian hellscape. Sight unseen it gives every piece of information (true or untrue) equal weight. A lie by Donald Trump has equal weight to the truth spoken by someone else. They’re both the same. The primo example of how this works and looks — any time there’s a conversation about climate change — and a denier is given either equal time or an equal screen.

Images have a vocabulary. Video has a vocabulary. Two images presented side-by-side in a 50-50 setting are understood to be absolute equals. It might not be what the broadcaster intends but that’s how our brains perceive it. And the name of the game isn’t what you meant, it’s how you were perceived. That’s why schmucks like Donald Trump can shrug off their horribleness as “just a joke!” Suddenly it’s on us for not getting it. For not perceiving what wasn’t a joke as a joke.

We desperately need our press — all of it, every last bit — to see the picture in front of them for what it is. We need them to stop giving the benefit of the doubt to thieves and criminals who are using that very benefit to undermine the press’s ability to ever report The Truth accurately again. We need the press to unbolt the normalcy bias blinders from its eyes and recognize how much THEY THEMSELVES have normalized both unacceptable and downright criminal behaviors. Because actual crime has been committed in their faces — in front of their cameras even — it can’t be a crime: that seems to be their take. They’re wrong about that. Completely and utterly wrong.

And they can’t see it.

As they say in French: “Voila le probleme!”

That won’t end well — for us or for them. Both sides don’t do it. If they did, they’re not doing it now — and that’s more important than anything. However American News Media acquires perspective, they need to get it Amazon Primed to them right bloody now.

We can’t afford for them to let us down.