And What Will Happen AFTER Donald Trump?

While Republicans have dreamed forever about achieving permanent minority rule, it wasn’t until Donald Trump arrived that they found a way to pull it off. Trump compromises everyone. He makes everyone around him complicit. That’s really his one talent.

Take Russia out of the equation and Trump never becomes POTUS. Everything flows from that fact. Trump’s power doesn’t flow from him, it flows from all the people who can blackmail him — because those are the same people blackmailing the rest of the GOP. The machine relies on Trump to be the organizing principle around which all the other corruption revolves. But, what if Trump suddenly disappeared.

Donald Trump is not a healthy man. We can see it and hear it. I bet up close you can smell it too. It’s the outrageous story twist that still hasn’t happened. But it very well could. At some point, it absolutely will: Trump will die or become incapacitated. What happens then?

If it happens before the election, all hell will break loose. How can it not? Suddenly all those people afraid of Trump coming after them if they tell the truth will have nothing to fear. Trump’s family may vow to pick up the mantle but each and every one of them is about to have their own legal problems. The Republican Party won’t suddenly come to Jesus and realize the error of its ways. They, too, will have legal problems.

Without Trump, Bill Barr’s efforts become harder to defend. Mike Pence calling those shots wont have the same impact that Trump calling them does. No one’s beholden to Mike Pence; in fact, Mike Pence is as beholden as pretty much anyone.

With Trump out of the picture, more secrets will pour from the shadows but without Trump’s presence to reassure his villainous co-conspirators that nothing will happen to them. Aside from Trump, who among the Republicans can in any way assure the rest of them they they’ll get away with this?

No one. Because no one can assure them.

If Trump were to succumb before the election, the entire Republican election effort will fall apart. Who would his followers glom onto instead? Mike Pence? Ha! Ted Cruz? Not even Ted’s family likes Ted. Nikki Haley? Do not hold your breath. The answer is no one.

If Trump were to cheat his way into “re-election” then succumb after his second stolen election, pretty much the same thing would happen. Trump is the corrupt heart at the corrupt core of Republicanism. Without Trump, all those corrupt Republicans will turn on each other like sharks in a feeding frenzy. They’re all criminals after all. They know what everyone else holds over them — and they hate them for it.

Without Trump mitigating all that mistrust? The mistrust will explode. The Republicans will turn on each other with bloodthirsty abandon. Take it to the bank. They’re Republicans. It’s what they do.

The end of Donald Trump will be the end of the Republican coup d’etat and, shortly thereafter, the Republican Party itself.

Extinction couldn’t happen to a better bunch of pirates.

Republicans Have Made Themselves The New Face Of Authoritarianism & Treason

Show me a Republican and I’ll show you a traitor.

The Republican Party is making a calculated gamble that they can get away with altering our form of government right in front of our faces — despite the fact that the majority of Americans not only didn’t vote for them to do this, the majority of Americans clearly voted to do the opposite. The GOP intends to create the illusion of democracy while actually ruling the country as permanent authoritarian minority dictators.

Republicans didn’t suddenly hit on the idea of doing this — down deep, conservatives and Republicans have always regarded representative democracy with disdain. The idea of non-white, possibly non-Christian, non-penis-possessing people having political power petrifies these pirates. That’s why the Kochs and the Mercers dug into their pockets to stop such a thing from happening. They employed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to shepherd their plan — first by denying Obama the lifetime appointments to the federal bench to which he (and his voters) were entitled — having WON multiple elections. Then by denying Obama the SCOTUS seat he and his voters were entitled to. Merrick Garland, recall, didn’t get so much as a polite conversation from the Republicans.

When Trump landed among the Republicans in 2016, they did their best to resist — at first. But, being so easily compromised, being so corrupt, the Republican Party quickly fell under Trump’s influence. Russia’s influence. The Republicans knew that too — that Trump and Russia were in it together. During the 2016 GOP convention, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of GOP muckety mucks and announced “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump” to which then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan responded “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

Instead of being patriots — and calling the FBI, the Republicans kept it a secret.

If Bill Barr — the most corrupt AG ever to hold that office (and that includes other corrupt Republican AG’s like John Mitchell (Nixon’s AG who went to jail!) and W’s Alberto Gonzalez. Even when Republicans follow the rule of law, they’re being cynical. They may be following it to the letter but rest assured, at the same time, they’ll be violating its spirit like Kossacks fomenting a pogrom.

There will be coming back from this — for the Republican Party or for the rest of America. Their betrayal is unforgivable. To show these traitors the merest hint of mercy will encourage them to start all over again. The simple fact is — they’ve never been that into “us”. They want what they want and will do whatever it takes to get it.

And they’re arrogant enough — throw in utterly lacking in self awareness — to think they can get away with enslaving the whole nation just like they once did Black people.

Boy, are they in for a shock.

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

A thief — having just ripped you off — has a thief’s point of view of what he just did. The thief’s victim — you — also has a point of view.

The cops show up. They’ve caught the thief red-handed with stolen object literally in hand.

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

“Nuh-unh,” you say to the cops when they shoot you a look. Back to the thief. Unless he has a long, sad tale of why he’s a thief, he better keep his mouth shut. He doesn’t have a “side” here — meaning, he has no justifiable explanation for why he took something that did not belong to him.

Neither “I felt like it” nor “I dunno why” are acceptable or justifiable. It’s a fact — thieves don’t “have a side” unless they’re Jean Valjean stealing bread to feed hungry people. And nobody with an “R” next to their name will ever be mistaken for Jean Valjean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If You Think Living During A Pandemic Is A Bitch, Try Storytelling In It

And we thought things for storytellers were bad because Donald Trump’s awfulness supersedes anything any writer could ever think up.

And then the coronavirus walked in our door. Of all the gin joints in all the world…

We know how ya feel, Bogie, we know how ya feel…

Trump’s story is so hard to tell that our news media hasn’t gotten within miles of even figuring out how to tell it — never mind actually telling it. In their defense, what can you do about a candidate or president who lurches quite happily from calamity to calamity? I don’t know… maybe stop lurching after him? Maybe stop following him down every damned rabbit hole? But, I digress.

If you make your living by making up stories, it sucks when reality keeps belching out content far more inventive than anything you could imagine. Donald Trump isn’t even the worst villain riding this supersonic shitwagon. There are plenty of others: Mitch McConnell, Bill Barr, Mikes Pompeo, Pence & Flynn. Every one of these characters would fill one story all by themselves as villain. What did we ever do to deserve a whole Justice League Of Villains?

Oh, right — slavery.

I digress again.

Fictional storytelling before the coronavirus landed was already a fool’s errand. The coronavirus pandemic just made it hopeless.

Never mind what anyone says. Dialogue’s gonna be rewritten ten thousand times before it even gets to the actors — and then it’ll get rewritten ten thousand more times. First thing visual storytelling demands is being clear on what the audience sees. If you’re working in a visual media — as a screenwriter or TV writer — this is job one.

Think of it this way: before the pandemic you were a show taking place in real time — and half of your episodes were in the can when the lockdown came. Your show took place in a time when people didn’t social distance or wear masks. Bars were open and packed. Restaurants, too. People could go on a date — to a movie.

Then the pandemic hit. Production stopped for months. And months. But, let’s say circumstances ease enough so that — if your company can successfully follow 20 pages of protocols and requirements without anyone getting sick — you can go back to work, finishing your season. One problem. While your show was in hiatus, reality changed.

The literal reality in which the show had been taking place is not the literal reality we live in anymore. People can’t go to movies on dates. There are no movie theaters. And dating — it’s more complicated now (though no less essential). Coronavirus is like an STD on steroids. A show about a person with an active sex life has a problem now it didn’t have before.

And did I mention everyone wears masks now? Yeah, they wear masks — and they’re likely to be wearing masks for the foreseeable future because of the wretched hash Donald Trump and his band of pirates made of our response to the virus. That means that if your show takes place in real time — in our collective real time where we all live? Everyone better be wearing masks.

If our show said “I don’t care!” and shot the rest of the season the same way they shot the first part of their season — with no one social distancing or wearing masks, acting as if the virus never existed — they would be making a period piece.

People NOT wearing masks would be as costumed, in a sense. The same way good wardrobe is meant to draw our eye toward it (and reflect elements of character and environment), someone maskless will get our attention. We no longer live in a world where people walk around maskless. But we used to. That’s what the audience knows. Stories rely on immediacy — especially stories that take place in our contemporary world. Put that story in the past and — even if we love the characters deeply — we’ve still surrendered a big piece of the story’s drive — it’s immediacy.

I just finished a Zoom story meeting with another writer. It’s a TV project about a fish out of water who lands in LA. It’s based on a real person. She’s genuinely fascinating — and Russian. The work we’d done all had to be re-evaluated; a draft was written before the pandemic and the lockdown.

Now we had to try to imagine what our character — who’s single and sexually active — would do in a world where being single and sexually active just got harder? Keep in mind — if we got super, SUPER lucky, we could be in front of the cameras with our TV show in… super, SUPER lucky — 6 months. It’s never going to happen but let’s say. The soonest we could possibly be on air so people could binge us? A year. If we’re super, SUPER lucky.

What will THAT world look like? We’ll probably still be wearing masks. Will bars be open? Will restaurants? Or will most of them be gone — victims of the economy that started to come back far too late to save them. Will movie theaters still be off limits? Will spectating at live sports events? It’s hard to write scenes that take place in a setting that might not realistically be open anymore. That might not even exist as we knew it.

No one’s going to go with a story that says “He walked into a bar. Or maybe he didn’t because they’re all closed so he stood outside where the bar used to be.” Chrissakes — shoot the table read instead. On Zoom. It’ll be easier.

Men Who Think They’re God

We all know one. Or two or three. Men who’ve got it in their heads that they’re deities. They sure think their junk is. But I’m talking about a small subset of that set — the Bill Barrs of the world. The assholes di tutti assholes.

Bill Barr has made his religious views known. He’s not ashamed of his bizarre brand of Catholicism that is as far removed from Jesus as I am from getting a dinner invite from Donald Trump. Catholicism is just Bill Barr’s beard anyway. Bill doesn’t believe in Catholicism’s god. Bill doesn’t believe IN God at all.

Bill Barr believes he IS God.

Watch Barr’s performance before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Watch his body language. Even a well-rehearsed liar like Bill Barr can’t control his body’s autonomous responses to stimuli.

Barr started the hearing his usual, arrogant self. It was there, gleaming in his eyes. But then the Democrats began to frustrate Barr. Every time Barr went to digress (his strategy — eat as much of the questioner’s five minutes as possible), the Democrats cut him off: “I’m reclaiming my time!”

Bill cannot tolerate being questioned. He hates being challenged especially by women

how he dodged. Deal with it. Except that didn’t happen today. Today, the Democrats weren’t so much asking Barr questions as telling him what he’s done.

Telling We The People what Bill Barr has done on Donald Trump’s behalf to dismantle the country the rest of us live in.

Bill Barr’s hardly the only Republican who honestly thinks he’s not just “a” deity but “the” deity.

Mike Pompeo is famously religious. He’s big into the end of days cos he thinks the Book Of Revelation should be taken literally. Mike’s proof that Karl Marx was wrong. Religion isn’t the opiate of the masses, it’s the angel dust. It doesn’t narcotize, it causes psychosis.

Mike Pence might be one of the phoniest Christians ever. He wouldn’t know Jesus if he stopped midway through nailing Jesus to a cross to spit in Jesus’s eye — which he absolutely would do. Mike comes by his sanctimony honestly — he really is sanctimonious. And make no mistake — when Mike Pence imagines the face of God? He sees himself.

Mitch McConnell doesn’t see himself as God, he sees himself as a dark Turtle Lord serving the Kochs. To Mitch McConnell, THEY are God.

Then there’s Donald Trump — except Trump’s the exception to the rule. Trump doesn’t see himself as God — he can’t imagine anything bigger than himself — except money. To Trump, money is God and Trump is its Jesus.

You’ll notice — all of these God wannabes aspire to be God. Not a one of them aspires to be Jesus. It’s like they see no advantage or gain in dying for anyone else’s sins.

Trump’s Presidency Is Even Worse Than We Feared It Would Be Because The Entire GOP Is In On It

We always figure that the “bad apple” will ultimately get what’s coming to him because eventually time, luck or the cops will catch up with him. That’s how those of us who saw the Trump presidency for the nuclear train wreck it was going to be expected this would play. Eventually the Republican Party itself would recoil in horror at Trump and stop him the way the Republican leadership finally stopped Richard Nixon. That did not happen this time — and it’s not going to.

That’s the whole reason Trump’s presidency is worse than Nixon’s (by a lot) and worse than we expected it to be — the entire Republican Party is officially complicit.

The GOP is complicit with Trump’s treason. They’ve always known Trump had an odd relationship with Russia. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously worried aloud to a room filled with Republican muckety-mucks “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Rather than being shocked to his shoes by such news, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan responded ““No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

This was not news to them. In fact, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, many of those Republicans had been taking Russian money for eons. They were already compromised by Russia — they didn’t realize the trap they were walking into. Useful idiots are like that.

Mitch McConnell has always known what the game was. We have to wonder if Mitch — with his deep ties to the Kochs & Mercers (and their money & wishes) and the Russians — was the clever guy who saw a way to tie all their “fortunes” together — the RW money, the RW power machine, Russia, Trump and a real shot at accomplishing permanent minority rule. I bet Mitch was the one who first shrugged off the terrible compromises to democracy this would entail. Mitch is pretty much as cynical as a human can be without choking to death on it.

And Mitch — don’t forget — stood firmly in the way when President Barack Obama wanted to tell We The People what Russia was up to in September 2016. At the “Gang Of Eight” meeting Obama convened at the White House, the heads of our intelligence community informed Congressional leadership from both parties (we used to do that) that Russia was actively attempting to skew the election to Donald Trump. Mitch told Trump that if he did that, he (Mitch) would scream that Obama was politicizing the intel.

Over-compensating, Obama gave in to Mitch. We The People remained in the dark while the Republican Party, Donald Trump and Russia proceeded to literally STEAL the election’s results. Want to bet that the reason Trump’s always worried about his presidency’s legitimacy is because he knows for a fact it’s illegitimate?

Bill Barr is exactly the Roy Cohn Trump wanted Lil Jeff Sessions to be. Barr’s lies about the Mueller Report altered the course of Justice — by design. Our news media still hasn’t figured it out. Some of them STILL think the Report “exonerates” Trump just like Barr said it did. It doesn’t. It does the EXACT OPPOSITE if you actually read it.

That, too, contributed to our situation being far worse than we feared it would be. Our news media’s chronic inability to tell the Donald Trump story flows from a bizarre notion that “both sides do it” and it’s not “their job” to judge the news — or whether a politician is lying to them. When people realize that, they know they can lie to the news media with impunity — which they have done.

Authoritarians first go after the Truth. When no one can know for sure what really is or isn’t, it gets easier for those in power — the authoritarians — to “be” the truth.

Our news media has waited forever for Trump to “pivot”. That was never going to happen — and it’s the wrong pivot. Our news media should have focused this whole time on the Republican Party — and whether or not THEY would “pivot” — away from co-conspiracy to patriotism.

We’ve gotten our answer. Repeatedly. No — the GOP is not going to rediscover their sense of patriotism. They’re going all in on attacking Americans protesting peacefully so as to cow them.

As usual, Republicans can’t rely on selling their ideas about how America would best be governed, the have to rely on cheating, coercion and outright criminality. The reason Trump’s presidency is so much worse than we feared is because the GOP is just as guilty as Trump is.

How WOULD America Act If Trump COULD Finish His Authoritarian Coup D’Etat?

We are living through the most jaw-dropping story no writer could possibly write (and get away with). But the rules of storytelling still apply — because storytelling rules are based on how human beings behave. When storytellers get human beings wrong? The people listening to their stories bail. The stories no longer make sense because “nobody acts like that”.

That Republicans backed Trump and Russia (knowing that Trump himself was backed by Russia) would seem strange until you see Republicans in their proper context: a shrinking demographic desperately trying to hang onto political power. Their history of suppressing Democratic voters speaks volumes — the modern GOP has never been “into” actual representative government. That’s why they gerrymander districts. One doesn’t gerrymander so as to better administer to the will of the people, one does it to circumvent their will.

As Donald Trump himself said out loud — when more Americans vote, it’s bad for Republicans. Right — because when more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats — who represent how those Americans want to be governed.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by at least 3,000,000 votes. Without the massive voter suppression aimed at HRC’s voters? That number’s bigger. By a lot. And I will believe Donald Trump won the Electoral College votes of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin & Michigan in 2016 fairly and squarely as soon as we’ve done some real, thorough and serious forensics on both machines (which were all susceptible to hacking) and the impact of Russian propaganda efforts in those states. Remember — we know already that Trump’s 2016 campaign manager handed Konstantin Kilimnik (he of the GRU — Russian Military Intelligence) proprietary polling data from four states (PA/WI/MI and Minnesota) which Russia turned into personalized Facebook ads that turned up on the personal Facebook pages of African American voters in those four states. Think propaganda doesn’t work? Then why do people & countries spend so much money on it?

It’s advertising. It works.

While Americans are slow to anger — it took three-and-a-half years (plus the 400 years before it) for white people to finally get it that enslaving black people is morally repugnant even if all you do is accept it — once we get angry, we stay angry. At least for a while. How long that while will be?

That’s the Undiscovered Country. Americans have never been “occupied” by a hostile foreign power — not since the Civil War anyway. When it happened then? It pissed Americans off. The South hated it when the North invaded and the North hated it when the South pushed as far North as Gettysburg. While the countries of Europe have a long history of being invaded, conquered and occupied (Except for Switzerland maybe) across a thousand years, America (a very new country by comparison) has no such history.

That matters. People in Belgium and parts of France have been run over by Germans or Prussians for hundreds of years. WWI and WWII weren’t unique experiences. The rest of Europe routinely invaded itself or, going back even further, was accustomed to being invaded by Huns or other hostile tribes from beyond the Rubicon.

Americans are used to being the invaders. We DO the conquering, not the other way around. It’s part of our mindset. It’s how we think of ourselves. Which means that what Donald Trump & Bill Barr are trying to pull off in Portland (and now Chicago, Kansas City and who knows what other cities) will come up against not just the peaceful protesters in the street but the idea in their heads that Americans do not get invaded or occupied.

Tear-gassing moms will not convince them otherwise. As happened in Portland — more moms turned out the next night. And more moms after that.

Trump has no choice BUT to try and finish the soft coup d’etat he and the GOP pulled off with extensive Russian help in 2016. In no way did Trump “win” the presidency freely or fairly. We don’t know yet how many Republicans knew this even as they ran for office themselves in 2016, but we do know that PLENTY OF THEM KNEW. “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump” is how current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it as he entered a room filled with Republican muckety-mucks. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan told everyone there they weren’t going to talk about that fact.

Note — Paul Ryan didn’t reply “What? Are you sure about that, Kev’? Quick, somebody, get the FBI on the phone — we have a problem!” No, instead Paul Ryan replied: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

The protesting in Portland has gone on for more than 50 days straight. If Trump tries to put his foot on New York City’s neck — or Chicago’s — or Albuquerque’s — or Oakland’s — or anywhere, he’ll find not just resistance but a citizenry ready to take him on. Even the Republicans see our handwriting on their wall. That’s the handwriting of We The People. The polling indicates no just an electoral blowout coming for the Republican Party but near electoral obliteration.

Even the Republicans who survive the maelstrom will still have to deal with a minimized presence, a wretched brand and an increasingly marginized base that will have been significantly culled by the coronavirus (and their refusal to take it seriously). They will have to deal with an ongoing series of trials that will spell out in graphic detail the extent of Republican corruption. Every bit of regressive legislation they try to push will die on the vine while more and more of their co-conspirators get sent off to prison for the rest of their lives. In the end, even those last few “proud Republicans” will have to re-brand.

The word “Republican” will have been that damaged that they’ll have no choice if they want to have any say whatsoever in our democratic process.

That’s how America will react when Trump attempts to put his jack boot upon us. It will be messy. Trump will do it (he has no choice) and we will not just resist but fight him off completely. We, too, have no choice.

It comes down to this. Trump has it right about what happens when too many Americans get involved in politics. They at least lean Democratic. Democrats are very different from Republicans. For one thing, we do not ever march in lockstep — ideologically. We’re still the unmanageable “rabble” Will Rogers was thinking of when he said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”.

But threaten our rights and we get remarkably organized. Trump and his Republican co-conspirators will do everything they can to get away with this (“this” being election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason). They have no choice. The instant Trump stops being POTUS (and stops being protected by that ludicrous DoJ rule that supposedly says you can’t indict a sitting president), his legal problems will begin in earnest. He will never go another day of his life where he isn’t in legal trouble — or civil. The same goes for pretty much every single Republican.

“See something, say something” is how conspiracy works. Except, with conspirators, it’s “See something, say nothing“. That’s what makes them co-conspirators. Even if you suspect illegal shit is going on? You are obligated to say something otherwise it forces us to ask “why?” WHY did you not say anything about the crimes you suspected were happening?

Trump will not succeed. The Republican Party will not succeed. The best they can hope for is that 30% of the country backs them. Even among that 30%, it’s a pretty small number who will be willing to die for the Republican Party — especially as its callousness puts more Americans in desperate financial straits and the coronavirus’ deadly path.

Know who Trump’s going up against? This little girl. This fierce little girl.

See that fire in her eyes? That’s what’s burning inside a growing number of Americans who don’t want America to go back to how it was.

We want America to finally become the thing it always should have been.

John Lewis Was A Case Study In HOW We Could “Do Unto Others”

I once wrote an episode of The Outer Limits (the reboot on Showtime) about a cool future technology that’s used for dark, nefarious purposes. Yeah, that could be pretty much any sci-fi story. This tech asked a question — what if we could take the talents, skill sets or abilities from one person and “implant them” into another person?

The downside to this technology — in the episode — was that the skill set couldn’t be in two places at once. If it was being implanted into someone else, it’s because it no longer existed in its original host. In the episode, the character “Mad” Joe Dell’s legendary jazz chops could be removed from Joe Dell and given to someone who’d bought them — from the company that took them from Joe Dell.

The excellent Bill Cobb plays the character Joe Dell — a legendary jazz musician whose jazz talent gets “taken” from him by a new technology — and implanted into someone else — who’s paid to get it.

Joe Dell (and most of his family), thought Joe was moving into a retirement community. There was no explanation for his rapid decline into total dementia — and then his death. But Joe hadn’t actually died. He’d been warehoused — until every last drop of his jazz chops could be squeezed from him.

The episode ended happily. Joe’s teenaged grandson Ronnie catches on to the monstrous scam being pulled and gets his grandfather back — legendary jazz chops mostly complete. So, here’s my storyteller’s sighed “What if…?”

What if we could transplant John Lewis’ legendary humanity, his empathy and humility into the heads of every single Republican?

But the “skill set” we’re talking about isn’t like jazz talent. It doesn’t require all the micro-skills being a jazz legend demands. All this skill set requires is that we care about other people at least as much as we care about ourselves. Ya know — “Do unto others” and all that.

What if we could get Republicans to “Do unto others” like it was a super power? Or a normal human capacity…

Imagine if Mitch McConnell forgot how to be a cynical treason turtle and, instead, cared about America and every human living within its borders.

Imagine if Bill Barr put down his perverse Dominionism and, instead took up Jesus’ message.

Imagine if Mike Pence’s sanctimony suddenly morphed into love of something other than Donald Trump’s ass.

Imagine if every single Republican who thought Jesus wanted them to be rich vs decent suddenly realized, “NO! HE WANTS US TO BE DECENT!”

We won’t bother imagining any scenario where Donald Trump suddenly acquires humanity. Mary Trump’s book spelled it out clearly and emphatically: Trump has no capacity for humanity and probably never did. He’s a sociopath just like his daddy. Indecency is hard-wired into Trump’s corrupt DNA.

But, if everyone else suddenly acquired John Lewis’ innate decency — if every Republican who’s enabled Trump (in other words, every Republican who still proudly calls themselves “Republican”) — then we wouldn’t have a problem with Trump. Our collective decency would not tolerate his presence.

He’d be gone already and no longer a clear & present danger.

I know — that’s why stories are stories and reality is reality.

But a storyteller can dream, can’t he?

The “Republican Brand” Is Now As Toxic As Cancer

Cancer Salesmen insisting that cancer is good for us, good for America!

Imagine if cancer had a “brand”. You don’t have to — it’s the same as the GOP’s. Republicans suck at governing mostly because it’s their mission to prove that government doesn’t work. So, whenever they get into power, they turn government into a branch of their own corrupt enterprise.

Donald Trump IS the Republican Brand. So’s Mitch McConnell and Bill Barr and Mikes Flynn, Pompeo & Pence. Greed is the Republican Brand. And Corruption and conspiracy and — here’s the big one: TREASON. Yes, treason is absolutely part of what one should think of when one thinks “Republicans”.

Republicans MADE treason their brand when they took all that Russian money into their campaign coffers in 2016.

Republicans made treason their brand when they embraced Donald Trump — KNOWING that he was taking money from Russia.

Republicans made treason their brand when they did everything possible to obstruct every investigation into Russia’s involvement with Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Republicans made treason their brand when they refused to convict Trump for trying to pull the same treasonous bullshit with Ukraine in 2020 that they pulled with Russia in 2016.

Republicans make treason their brand each time they look away when Trump & Putin communicate sans notes, note-takers or anyone overseeing what exactly Trump is giving away.

It’s the treason that drives the rest of Republican corruption now. It has to. Once the GOP committed themselves to Trump, once they hitched their wagon to him — albeit reluctantly at first — the game was over. There couldn’t be any coming back — ever.

While the news media continues to scratch its head, unable to fathom why Republicans still only reluctantly disagree with Trump, the business world has already begun to separate themselves from Trump and the GOP because they care about their brands. The exodus didn’t just start however. Twenty-First Century Fox — the corporation that oversees Fox News — made a decision back in 2017 that reflected the reality that’s thudding hard into the Republican Party right now — they fired Bill O’Reilly.

O’Reilly, remember, was Fox’s cash cow before Tucker Carlson. The sexual misconduct accusations that ended O’Reilly’s tenure weren’t the first. And, in another time, the accusations might have been ignored as they always had been. But Twenty-First Century Fox’s board of directors saw red flag warnings ahead and chose to change course. The warnings came via their advertisers — who said they would no longer support O’Reilly with their ad dollars. And the advertisers were reacting to the most important fact in their universe: the majority of buying decisions in most American households were being made by women.

The advertisers needed women to like their brands so that they’d buy them. They knew however that women don’t care for men who sexually harass or abuse women. They won’t buy products from men like that — or companies that stand with abusers. Women, the advertisers understood, were the key. And, if women weren’t going to support Bill O’Reilly, neither would they.

That spelled the end of Bill O’Reilly at Fox. The toxicity of his brand did him in.

Branding can take years — decades even — to create yet moments to destroy. Guys like Kevin Spacey are terrific actors with remarkable bodies of work. But, in the public’s mind Kevin Spacey’s brand isn’t acting anymore. It’s sexual deviance. Yeah, Kevin beat the rap on one charge but that charge against Kevin didn’t happen in a vacuum.

No one wants to work with Kevin anymore. If Kevin signs on to a movie or TV project now, everyone else will bail on it. Welcome to Pariahhood, Kevin.

Give the GOP a few months — the day after election day — and they’ll know exactly how Kevin feels.

Even if the Republican Party cheats on an even more massive scale than they did in 2016 and comes away with a “win”? It won’t play like a win — not this time. This time, the cheating will have to be so staggeringly obvious that even our press will have to check their “both sides do it” heads at the door.

“Live with it” is how Republicans want to brand their coronavirus response. “Die because of it” will be the way the American public “brands” it however.

But then, what kind of branding did we expect from a death cult?

Here’s The Problem With Letting Religions People Run Things, Part Two: Bill Barr

We all know Bill Barr as the most corrupt Attorney General of all time — that’s more corrupt than Republican all-stars Alberto Gonzalez (George W Bush’s AG), John Mitchell, (Dick Nixon’s AG — who went to prison for being corrupt) and Bill Barr himself (he was George H W Bush’s AG & covered up Iran-Contra).

But Bill Barr also stands out almost as much for being a certifiable religious fanatic.

Something about America has both attracted and inspired religious fanaticism. Shakerism was invented here (in 1772). So was Mormonism (1830). Seventh-Day Adventists opened shop in 1863. Jehovah’s Witnesses hung out their shingle in 1870. Church of Christ, Scientist 1879. Pentecostalism 1906. Reconstructionist Judaism 1920’s. Nation of Islam 1930. Church of Scientology 1953. And, let’s not forget, there have been plenty of smaller religious-oriented off-shoots like David Koresh’s Branch Dividian sect and Jim Jones’ Peoples’ Temple.

Something in us just plain adores ooga-booga with extra helpings of both ooga and booga.

Among the sects that fly under the radar is Dominionism. Dominionism (per Wikipedia) “is a group of Christian political ideologies that seek to institute a nation governed by Christians based on their understandings of biblical law. Now, Dominionism isn’t a club per se or an organization that hands out membership cards. We know that Dominionists see and seek brotherhood with other Dominionists (they have meetings in public places). But most of the big name Dominionists practice their anti-Jesus version of Christianity in the shadows.

The Kochs and Mercers think of themselves as “fellow travelers” with Dominionism. The Koch Brothers don’t seem especially religious but who has to “be” religious when the culture you’re shoving down everyone’s throat will do the dirty work for you? Same token — Attorney General Bill Barr may not be a card-carrying Dominionist but the religious fervor running around in his head is just as wacky, just as offensive, just as dangerous to our representative democracy.

Bill Barr believes in a bizarre brand of Catholicism that may even be darker and more regressive than Dominionism.

In a speech on religious freedom that he delivered to the Notre Dame Law School on October 11, 2019, Barr said —

“Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large.

No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity.

But, if you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny.

On the other hand, unless you have some effective restraint, you end up with something equally dangerous – licentiousness – the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good. This is just another form of tyranny – where the individual is enslaved by his appetites, and the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles.

Bill Barr, Christian, fears other peoples’ “powerful passions and appetites”. He’s worried about THEM “riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large” — you know, like a police department beating the shit out of unarmed, peaceful protesters.

A more “effective restrant”, in Bill’s mind (overflowing as it is with “moral values”) —

“[T]o control willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.

Everything, to Bill, rests upon the thinking and feelings of a “transcendent Supreme Being”. Now, whose “transcendent Supreme Being” are we talking about here — the one who lives in Bill’s head or the one who lives in mine? Bill can’t say whether or not a Supreme Being lives in my head — he can’t get inside my head.

The Supreme Being inside my head says the Supreme Being inside Bill Barr’s head is full of shit. My Supreme Being says Bill Barr (and HIS Supreme Being) are bullies who should be ignored. In fact, my Supreme Being tells me every single day what a corrupt pile of shit Bill Barr is and how she can’t fathom why we Americans don’t just throw such an obvious criminal like Bill Barr in jail.

That’s what MY Supreme Being says. I bet Bill’s Supreme Being says something entirely different.

That’s the problem. Whose Supreme Being are we talking about here? Bill, of course, only talks about HIS Supreme Being — and not because Bill believes so fervently in his deity. In fact, Bill Barr — like most religionistas — doesn’t believe in God at all. Don’t get me wrong — Bill Barr absolutely believes there’s a God. Problem is, Bill Barr thinks it’s him.

That’s the deep, dark, dirty secret of pretty much every hard core religionista. They claim to understand God. They claim to speak for God. It’s easy — because they think they ARE God.

Right there — that’s the problem with letting a religious person like Bill Barr run ANYTHING. He’s not actually qualified to run a Department of Justice. He’s too corrupt.

He’s no more qualified to be “God”. Same reason.