At some point, unless you’ve removed every reflective surface from your house, you WILL have to see your own face reflected back at you. I don’t know about the rest of you (cos none of us will EVER be in a bathroom ALONE with anyone else) but when I look at myself in the mirror, I look right into my own eyes.
In those moments, I bore in on “me”.
I see those moments as me getting to talk to ME. It’s me having a chance — if I choose to take it — to speak directly to myself — to that box of thoughts and traits and wild imaginings that I think of as “me”.
Now, let’s be clear — we all lie to ourselves. Mostly we tell small lives to us about us. Mostly it’s because we want to be “better” than we are: better friends, better spouses, better parents, better at our jobs, better at spelling, better at sex, better at getting what we need (vs what we think we want). Telling ourselves little lies is a survival skill.
Except we know we’re lying to ourselves even as we do it. Because it’s us doing it. To us.
We know what we know. We know when we’re bullshitting ourselves about it, too. Except… we are capable of keeping secrets from ourselves. Hell — I “kept one” from myself for 45 years (that I was sexually molested twice when I was 14 by the spiritual director at my family’s synagogue). I knew it happened. It rippled through my life every day; hell, it was the reason I tried to kill myself. That secret.
A part of me always knew it was there, waiting to be dealt with one way or another.
I make it a point now — my mental health depends on it — to be as honest as I can with myself. Lying has proved it’s no good for me. Honesty with myself to myself is where good mental health lives. That’s what makes watching Republicans lie so compelling to me.
Donald Trump is a text book sociopath. He has no conscience to speak of. He’s not capable of being honest with himself; lying — even to himself — is how he rolls. That doesn’t excuse the lies for two seconds. Most Republicans are quite capable of discerning truth from bullshit; they’re NOT sociopaths. The only good explanation for how Republicans behave these days is “guilt”. Knowledge of guilt.
Bill Barr may be a hard core Christian shill but he’s not an ignoramus. He KNOWS empirically that the bullshit he spewed the other day to the Federalist Society (like the bullshit he spewed at Notre Dame a few weeks before that) is rubbish on steroids. When you say things that are demonstrably untrue, it’s not because you believe the opposite is true; you NEED the opposite to be true because you’re a goddamned liar, a thief or a criminal.
My bet is most Republicans don’t see anyone staring back at them. They see a physical body. They see a face. They even see eyes. But there’s nothing behind the eyes — except fear maybe.
We know damned well they’ll never see an honest person staring back.
Barr has a history of stepping in and deflecting justice. He did it most recently by hijacking both the end of Robert Mueller’s investigation and Mueller’s written report. Barr’s gross mischaracterizations of the Report’s conclusions weren’t semantics or “differences of interpretation”. They were a blatant attempt to convince the American public (via its terrible at details news media) that Mueller’s work exonerated Trump — that it cleared him of “collusion” and came to no conclusions about obstructive behaviors.
That is NOT what Mueller’s report says. It says they couldn’t come to any conclusions about whether or not Trump conspired with Russia (via Wikileaks — Mueller’s purview wasn’t the entirety of Trump-Russia, it was a narrow, narrow slice) because they were met with so much OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. To back up THAT assessment, the Report listed (with receipts) 10 specific obstructive acts.
Barr’s history of bamboozlement goes back to the Bush Administration (Junior’s). Bill Barr circumvented justice during Iran-Contra — insisting THEN that Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger was being treated unfairly by the people accusing him of being a corrupt criminal undermining the Rule Of Law.
Bill Barr’s never behaved this way on the behalf of a Democratic POTUS. I guess all that Unitary Executive Power actually works when the POTUS is Republican. I find it hard to believe that Bill Barr’s dick would get this hard on behalf of Barack Obama’s executive power.
Bill Barr calls himself a Christian. He ain’t no follower of Jesus — that’s for damned sure. Bill Barr wouldn’t know Jesus if he stopped mid-way through nailing Jesus to a cross to spit in Jesus’s eye. Bill Barr is a “churchist”. Bill loves the INSTITUTION that Paul created. Being a die-hard Catholic, Bill loves his church above all else.
Funny thing? Jesus preached AGAINST having churches. He taught that no one needed temples or priests; one could speak directly to “the father”. In other words — a follower of Jesus does not need a church. They don’t want one — because churches are antithetical to Jesus’s most core teaching.
In theory, Bill Barr should love Jesus because Jesus would tell Bill — “Hey, Bill — talk to God, why don’tcha!” But that’s not where Bill’s head is at. He’s still riled up about something. Just talking directly to his deity doesn’t satisfy him. He’s still yapping. Someone’s telling him — “Not good enough, Bill! Go further!”
Now, Bill would say “It was God telling me that”. But, as we know, Bill picks & chooses his articles of faith ever so carefully. He supports and follows and does the bidding of people Jesus would absolutely disprove of. And if Jesus doesn’t like them — what’s in it for God? Are God and Jesus not in agreement about something? Something basic?
No — it’s because the only voice in Bill Barr’s head is Bill’s. Bill doesn’t hear “God”, he hears BILL. Bill may say he “speaks for God” or “understands God” (better than YOU — that’s the suggestion. It’s remarkably arrogant. It’s remarkably arrogant for bullshit.
Bill Barr’s hardly alone in this freak show. Pick the name of any televangelist out of a hat and you have another extreme perversion of (never mind Jesus) Christianity’s most basic message — you have a money changer fooling the faithful. The way every one of these assholes struts — insists they speak for the Divine (and you don’t) — rakes in the cold, hard cash — it’s as far removed from Jesus as human decency or honesty is from a Trump.
What is a Catholic Pope except an attempt to create a “god” who hears God (better than you)? A pope becomes “infallible”. What does that even mean? Infallible in what sense? If we make him draw a perfect likeness of the guy standing next to him — and he fails — does that mean he’s NOT infallible or that we need to redefine “infallible” to include “this”?
It’s ludicrous. Worse — it’s bullshit. Anyone who says they speak on behalf of a deity thinks THEY are the deity.
Sweeny Todd got it right. These ARE desperate times we’re living in. What if it’s already be too late for desperate measures?
What measures come after the desperate ones?
A lot of us sensed it election night 2016 the way animals can sense a temblor coming. Trump “winning the election” (he didn’t, Russia did) wasn’t going to be the worst of it. It was going to be the start of it.
When I ran Tales From The Crypt for HBO, I took pride in the fact that I murdered people for a living and got away with it. I’ve spent my career imagining terrible, terrible things that could happen to people. I’ve written scenes that would make your average person squirm to watch, never mind actually endure.
But nothing I’ve written — or could write — can compare with or compete with Donald Trump. There’s nothing special about Trump except for the fact that he’s the embodiment of evil. Evil — real evil — isn’t special; most of the time, it’s pretty banal. We prefer our evil to be beat-you-over-the-head obvious. Unfortunately, that’s not how evil works.
There is nothing exceptional about Donald Trump. And yet, this unexceptional man has done something, well, exceptional — he’s very nearly destroyed the greatest experiment in human self-government ever. He’s had help, of course — Moscow Mitch McConnell (starting with his mission to hijack the judiciary as a means to impose permanent minority rule), Bill Barr (the most corrupt AG ever – and that includes John Mitchell, Nixon’s AG!), Mike Pompeo (the most corrupt Secretary of State since whoever Trump’s last Sec State was) and GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (whose worry that Russia was paying Dana Rohrbacher & Trump was put to rest with a simple “Let’s keep that in the family” by then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan).
The only thing that’s even remotely exceptional about Trump — his capacity for banal evil. That, apparently, is bottomless.
It’s the movie buff in me. I see classic movies playing out
in real life all the time. It struck me
this morning that we’re staring at a perverse version of Babes In Arms,
the Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney-MGM collaboration that gave us “Hey, Let’s Put
On A Show!”
Here – sample this…
See what I mean? Isn’t
it awesome how Judy & Mickey get the kids together, they “borrow” some
instruments and, using the Old Barn, they put on a damned show!
That’s exactly the movie we’re living through – except the
Trumpified version. It turns out, as the
depth and breadth of the Trump-Russia Conspiracy begins to assume real shape
and dimension, that this is a conspiracy in every sense of the word.
These are the players (some of them) and their “plays”…
Think of stolen data as a stolen bike. Everyone who
knowingly touches it, moves it, transports it, sells it or covers up its theft
is guilty of a crime. Just as a bike must
be physically transported from point A to point B, so too does stolen information. If it can’t be endlessly viewed where it is,
it has to be copied & that copy moved to someplace “safe” where it can be
viewed (by those not meant to view it remember). The criminals must transport their stolen
goods in order to benefit from them.
In the case of stolen data, the benefit would only come once
that information was transported out of the country to Russia – where the GRU
(Russian military intelligence) was tasked with analyzing the data then weaponizing
it and turning it back on America and – most importantly – individual Americans. The Russians (with Cambridge Analytica’s
help) had created a way to turn stolen voter data into fear-directed Facebook
ads that would appear right on an individual voter’s Facebook page – stoking fears
about, say, racism among Democrats that “could” induce an ambivalent African
American voter to stay home on election day rather than go out and vote for
Betsy DeVos provided the pipeline. Hey, Betsy — Lets put on a show!
ERIK PRINCE – Erik is Betsy DeVos’ brother so, already, ya know he’s corrupt. Erik founded a company called Blackwater that won big service contracts in the Iraq War theater – making them millions of dollars while they formed a private army for the benefit of their benefactors and electrocuted American service people when they showered (in Iraq) cos why not add incompetence to your resume of corruption?
WILBUR ROSS – Known as “Trump’s MOST corrupt cabinet appointee (and that’s including Ryan Zinke FFS!) had lots of corrupt dealings with Russians and their laundered money while holding a board seat at the Bank of Cypress – a place where the banking laws encourage money laundering & money launderers like Wilbur Ross.
Lots of Russian money needed to be laundered then donated to every Republican on the ticket.
Hey, Wilbur – Let’s put on a show!
PAUL MANAFORT – Gosh, GOP, why let Paul Manafort (a guy you all knew was dirtier than dirty) with Russian connections so deep he farts in Russian run your presidential nominee’s campaign. Paul had one change – ONE – to your whole freakin’ platform: Support for Ukraine and sanctions. No one “wondered” what that was all about? Perhaps no one NEEDED to wonder because you already knew.
Then there’s Mike Pence.
Paul brought Mike to the dance.
We have to ask “WHY?” Of all the
gin joints in all the world, why did Paul invite Mike into his?
Remember (it’s important) – Paul wasn’t running an honest
campaign. He was running a dirty
one. He was trying to leverage his role
as Trump’s campaign chief into forgiveness for $17 MILLION worth of debt to Oleg
Deripaska, former client & a Russian oligarch not known for his largess or forgiveness
(especially of massive debt which, also remember, Deripaska believed Manafort
was trying to skip out on). Paul was
running a very criminal enterprise.
So, ask yourself, why would a criminal want a boy scout as
Veep? Why would a criminal position a
cop right where the criminal needed to go?
Paul didn’t want anyone blowing the whistle on him – we’re all clear on
that, right? Paul wanted – NEEDED – a veep
who HE KNEW FOR A FACT was compliant and trustworthy enough to keep their big
secret SECRET: Russia was running the show.
Last point about Paul. He wasn’t flying solo. He wasn’t a lucky conman who’d figured out a
way to save his ass (and save his family – for now – from a brutal end). Paul knew that Trump was dirty and Trump knew
that Paul was dirty. Remember – no one
can put their cards on the table because then everyone would see those cards
spell treason. Though these criminals
surround themselves with other criminals, they’re entering a system with checks
and balances bent on stopping people like them.
That’s where BILL BARR fits in. Hey, Paul – Let’s put on a show!
MIKE PENCE — Mike is a sanctimonious fraud so unloved by the people of Indiana that compromising what was left of his soul to sell out to Trump and Russia was a no brainer. Mike had nowhere else to go except total corruption.
Mike’s an opportunistic con man adept at speaking
preacher-ese to the yokels who salivate like Pavolv’s dog when they hear
it. These soulless cretins wouldn’t know
Jesus if they stopped mid-way through nailing Jesus to a cross to spit in his
I betcha Paul Manafort knew lots about Mike Pence and his
deep, dark secrets. Let’s be honest –
Mike Pence’s relationship with women – and his wife – is bizarre. It’s beyond unhealthy, it’s fraudulent. Karen Pence’s nickname shouldn’t be “Mother”,
it should be “Beard”.
I wonder… when Mike eventually goes away for Life, will “Mother” change her nickname to “Available”?
STEVE BANNON – Steve’s the guru of darkness (while Stephen Miller is merely its court jester). Steve’s religious faith runs deep. His ooga-booga is better than your ooga-booga – that’s the basis for everything Steve believes. He’s so determined to save the world from YOUR ooga-booga in fact that he’s willing to torpedo the greatest experiment in human self government ever.
Steve has never stopped being philosophically connected the
Trump’s ultimate purpose – destruction of America as a Democratic Republic. Well,
to be fair, that’s not Trump’s ultimate purpose (he couldn’t give a shit – he just
wants to be richer than he already supposedly is), it’s Vladimir Putin’s.
And let’s be real – this is mostly Putin’s deal. The Saudi’s, the Chinese, the Israelis and Erdogan may be trying to horn in on it but they’re strictly back seat passengers. Putin’s joe sits in the Oval Office.
Hey, Steve — Let’s put on a show!
THE NRA – Conspiracies cannot live by bad intent alone. They need money, too, because traitors are notoriously greedy. Money always comes with strings. Don’t do what the strings want? Forget about the money. Back in the day, the NRA was primarily a gun safety organization.
Then the gun manufacturers took over. Gun sales became the point of the
exercise. The gun lobby rewrote the
second amendment in its own image and used the NRA to sell it. A gun control
amendment became an amendment justifying mass murder because how dare you come
for our guns? Putin saw a golden opening
and took it. The more guns in American
hands, the more gun violence there would be.
The more Putin pushed the “more guns more places” meme, the more divided
he could make America seem. Hell, using
the NRA, Putin has managed to create situations where stores have to beg their
customers NOT to come armed to the teeth.
That’s not normal, people. That’s screwed up.
As we’ve learned – Russia sent a very skilled agent named
Maria Butina to play the NRA. She made
the NRA a useful conduit for Russian money.
It wasn’t Russia contributing (illegally) to all those Republican
campaigns all around the country, it was THE NRA. Get it?
Russia stays within the letter of the law while raping its
Hey, NRA – Let’s put on a show!
ROGER STONE – conduit & con man. Connoisseur and creep. The man so dedicated to Richard Nixon, he got a tattoo of Nixon on his back. Former business partner of Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater (who personally started the Culture & Political War that the Right (un)declared on the Left. Roger via the weasels immediately around him (Jerome Corsi, Sam Nunberg, Randy Credico) was the conduit between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign.
Hey, Roger, let’s put on a show!
WIKILEAKS – That we EVER thought Julian Assange was a hero is a testament to our own collective failure of imagination. A guy accused of sexual assault should instantly get our collective attention. Yes, yes – we need to hear the whole story and all – but honest people face their accusers. Weasels weasel out and stink up foreign embassies.
Hey, Julian — Let’s put on a show!
THE MERCERS & CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA – Again – pipelines. But also the design. Robert Mercer’s a brilliant computer guy with a twisted political vision that’s tied to even more twisted Dominionist religious tripe. What could possibly go wrong? Rebekka is just as nuts but a little less on the spectrum. That’s what makes her dangerous.
Cambridge took a “benign” product meant to profile potential terrorists and turned it on America – using its powerful insights to gin up right wing conspiracy theorists while helping to carry out a crime – the total undermining of the United States Constitution.
Hey, Mercer’s — Let’s put on a show!
BILL BARR — Having saved the Republican Party once from the punishment it deserved (Iran-Contra) b making the crime go away & the evidence disappear, Bill Barr was perfectly positioned to be Donald Trump & the GOP’s ultimate Bag Man. So far, he’s LIED about the Mueller Report. Lied about the Whistleblower. Lied about Ukraine. Tried to seduce other governments into helping Trump in 2020. It’s all in a day’s work for Bill.
Hey, Bill — let’s put on a show!
MITCH MCCONNELL — I’ve spent plenty of time on Mitch here. Mitch is a traitor but he started his life as a mere culture warrior. Apparently Mitch loves it when people walk right up to his turtle face and scream “SODOMY” at the top of their lungs.
It brings back memories of his time in the military apparently. You’ll have to ask Mitch. Better yet — scream “SODOMY” in Moscow Mitch’s face at the top of your lungs.
Hey, Mitch — Let’s put on a show!
Vladimir Putin – For a guy running a shitty country with a
shitty economy and a shitty future, he’s done very well for himself.
The Scene – The White House Private Residence, The Bathroom
Donald Trump, his gold pajama bottoms bunched at his
cankery ankles, tries again to squeeze
blood from a stone – in this case, a turd from his bloated abused
gut. It’s slow going as usual. Donald’s mind wanders (as it does). And a meeting is called…
Donald sits at The Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. He punches the red intercom button.
DONALD – Madeleine — tell everyone to get in here! NOW!
MADELEINE – Yes, sir!
On the double!
The Oval Office door opens. In sprints IVANKA. She stands at the door – keeping it blocked
for a moment – she looks Daddy dead in the eye as only Ivanka can.\
IVANKA – Ballpark it for me.
Is it the Adderall bump?
DONALD – Could be a heart attack coming on for all I know.
IVANKA – Except you don’t have a heart, daddy.
A glance behind.
She can’t keep em out much longer.
Back to Daddy. She’s feared it
might come to this.
IVANKA – This is no time to lose your shit, old man, hear
DONALD – (taken aback) What?
IVANKA – You think Uncle Vladimir gives a shit that between your
drug intake and the syphilis you’ve got less than half a brain left? The job’s not finished. Our mission is not accomplished. (She can’t hold em back anymore). The Truth won’t set anyone we care about
She steps aside, a matador dodging a bull. DONALD, JUNIOR (JR), MIKE PENCE, BILL BARR, MIKE
POMPEO & RUDY GIULIANI shove their way in – tripping over the carpeting. They land in a massive heap. Closing the door behind her, Ivanka steps
into the room herself.
IVANKA – Get up, you idiots!
JR (from beneath the pile of bodies) – Eric couldn’t
make It! He got his head caught in the
IVANKA – I’m talking about all of you! I don’t even have balls and I can feel the heat on em. The old Trumpian shit isn’t working like it used to. They’re starting to realize that it’s shit. We need to think of something else before— (she catches herself) – before the fake news gets, you know, too fake or something.
RUDY – Honey, I don’t know how much crazier I can get. That fact that I’m still walking around with
a law license makes me want to cry. Good
thing we’re all as guilty as we are, amiright? Otherwise I might start to worry one of us
might, you know…
Rudy looks around at the others – expecting agreement. No one will meet his eyes.
IVANKA – See the problem, Uncle Rudy?
BARR – Wait a minute – I lied my double-wide ass off for you
people! I told factual lies about a
document anyone could read to PROVE I lied about it—
POMPEO – Good thing no one DID read it – otherwise we’d all
be in jail already.
RUDY – But we ARE getting away with it! That’s all that matters! We do whatever we have to do—
PENCE – Now, hold on there, Rudy – as a person of faith—
An explosion of laughter – that goes on… and on. Mike sighs.
Waits for the laughter to stop.
PENCE – All right, I get it.
I’ll shut up about that—
IVANKA – Good, ya sanctimonious prick! I’m sick of reminding you that Paul Manafort
brought you to the dance and the second anyone with two brain cells figures out
what that means, you’re even more screwed than you already are.
PENCE – It wasn’t nice of the President to throw me under
the bus like that – um, with all due respect, Mr. President, of course.
IVANKA – Trust me, numb nuts – you were already under the
bus – with tread marks all over your face.
(She looks at them all, a mob boss in training; she looks to daddy –
a mob boss losing his shit) Do you
all not get it? Do you not grasp what
the hell is happening here? Daddy is
losing his nerve!
She might as well have said Daddy was Hillary
Clinton. Suddenly all eyes are on
Donald. Donald opens his anus mouth,
ready to bluster away. Except instead of
words, ACTUAL SHIT emerges from Trump like sausage from a factory.
SMASH TO – TRUMP’S GOLDEN BATHROOM
Turns out Donald isn’t at the White House, he’s at Trump Tower — on his golden toilet. He’s been there for hours, asleep. Donald snaps to so suddenly, he loses his grip on his cell phone which falls right into the toilet bowl – SPLASH!
DONALD – Oh, shit—
Bad enough his cell phone fell into the toilet. Much worse – Donald had been productive in
the end. To get his phone back, Donald will
have to deal with his own shit.
I’ll own it: I over-bet on Robert Mueller and the Mueller Report. I over-bet on his reputation as a soldier and as a law enforcement professional. I over-bet on a career spent inside the box thinking outside the box.
None of that’s on Robert Mueller. It’s all on me. Instead of filling the silence with despair like a Bergman movie, I filled it with hope. I thought all the clear criminality I could see (well, me and a lot of the twittersphere — the detail-oriented, back-it-up-or-it’s-bullshit part of the twittersphere) was sitting there like a ball on a batting T. All Team Mueller had to do was pick up a bat.
Even that was a problem apparently. Robert Mueller felt hemmed in by that Department of Justice memo meant to keep Spiro Agnew from pardoning Richard Nixon. We’re riding the leading edge of an historical ripple effect — an unintended consequence of tragic proportions. Unable to charge a sitting president — and reluctant apparently to anger Trump by charging his children (and risk his work product being destroyed), Robert Mueller pulled his punches. He tipped everything in Congress’ direction.
But — here’s where I over-bet again — Mueller didn’t count on his good friend Bill Barr betraying him by completely mischaracterizing his work product — by telling America that he, Robert Mueller, had just let Trump off the hook. Mueller didn’t count on Bill Barr being there for the express purpose of obstructing the very justice Robert Mueller had just spent 2 1/2 years pursuing. Mueller has raised his voice and complained. He even broke ranks — a little — to insist that we all read his report.
He’s right. Everyone should. A lot of very painful truth sits inside those 448 pages. It defies explanation that the Truth sits there — right in the middle of us — yet the villains of the piece continue to walk free — as if they’ve bamboozled not just us but logic itself.
Personally, I don’t care if Robert Mueller says he’ll only repeat what’s in his report if called before Congress. He’s a private citizen now. No special privileges. You get called, you answer. The questions we have won’t necessarily concern just what’s inside that report. There’s the relationship with Bill Barr that needs looking into. Mr. Mueller will have to answer those questions. He’ll be under oath.
But why should it come to that? Why isn’t Robert Mueller demanding an hour of prime time to speak directly to the American People?
Yeah… I over-bet big time.
I’m an optimistic person by nature. Never Say Die. That’s me. I believe there are enough good people to overcome this shit. I’m not sure what will be left when we get finished pulling it back from the career criminals that used to be the Republican Party. I appreciate that Nancy Pelosi wants to do this by the book. The Rule Of Law is or it isn’t.
Great thought. Noble as hell. But the Rule Of Law takes time — and I’m not sure that time’s on the schedule. Sometimes, you have to work with what you have. If time’s short, Madame Speaker — you need to improvise a little. Just sayin’.
Today, Donald Trump outed himself completely. He must know that Donald Trump Junior is about to get nailed for knowingly taking info from foreign sources. Trump and the republican party are blasting away the obstacles that say that’s not just unacceptable, it’s illegal. Not anymore it isn’t, not anymore.
Rachel Maddow said something tonight that got me thinking. We expected that once all this got out into the light, nature would take its course. Law enforcement would “happen” because that’s how the Rule Of Law works. Except the Rule Of Law’s gone missing.
Today, watching Republicans not respond to Trump’s inviting every foreign country on the planet to have a go at our elections, it struck me how screwed up we are. From the moment it became clear that Trump was going to be the republican nominee, I’ve been yawping that Trump would be the end of the republican party. He absolutely has been.
I didn’t for two seconds imagine however that Trump would be the end of the Republic, too.
A bad outcome isn’t written in stone. But the republicans made it crystal clear today just how ugly this is going to have to get before there’s any chance of it getting better. Trump knows for a fact: the instant he stops being POTUS, his legal nightmares begin. He will go to prison — IF he ever stops being POTUS. The same now applies to the whole damned republican party. They, too, have thrown all in. (Shriveled, old) balls to the wall.
We are going to be subjected to a Bond Movie ending that gets bigger and bigger, louder and more complicated with a Teflon villain who just won’t go down. We The People are the majority. We WILL get to the other side of this.
I just worry about what-all will still be here to save.