Fact: The Taliban WANTED To Hand Over Bin Laden But We Refused To Let Them

History will not judge America kindly for its folly in Afghanistan. But, unlike right this second, Joe Biden will NOT bear much of the responsibility for what goes down. This terrible ending replete with appalling visuals of people falling from airplanes they clung to was inevitable from the first second we arrived in country as liberators. Right off the bat, that’s nonsense. It forgets one key fact — WHO exactly the Taliban ARE. Unlike American soldiers, Taliban fighters are all AFGHANIS. They’re Pashtuns — one of the tribes that make up the imaginary country we call “Afghanistan”. During the Soviet occupation, we courted the Taliban (they were called the “mujahedeen” then — same band, new name) we supplied them with money and weapons. The problems arose AFTER the Soviets departed — and the various tribes from the various disconnected parts of Afghanistan all fought each other for power. When the Taliban (“students” in Pashto ) took over, according to the BBC, “…most Afghans, weary of the mujahedeen’s excesses and infighting after the Soviets were driven out, generally welcomed the Taliban when they first appeared on the scene. The Pashtuns’ early popularity was largely due to their success in stamping out corruption, curbing lawlessness and making the roads and the areas under their control safe for commerce to flourish.”

But, that security came at a steep price. The Taliban believed in a very austere version of Islam which they enforced with dogmatic brutality that was especially hard on Afghanistan’s women. Their fate as the Taliban retake power in Afghanistan, horrifies us and justifiably so. But, with the house burning down around us, let’s not forget that saving the house was NEVER an option. It’s understandable to wish we had never set a departure date — as if that action was the trigger for the current chaos; if we’d never pulled the trigger, the chaos would never have happened. That is wishful thinking. We had already drawn down — per the plans and terms the Trump administration committed us to — to three thousand troops. The conceit was that the three hundred thousand man Afghani army would stand up as we continued to draw down.

That did not happen and was never going to happen because, frankly, the Afghanis have always known the Taliban would outlast us. Because the Taliban ARE AFGHANIS. They LIVE in the parts of Afghanistan where they’ve holed up. This has been their tribe’s home for hundreds of years if not longer. But, let’s dig into that a little. The Taliban think of Afghanistan as their home. They believe their home — all of it — should follow the same rules they follow.

Afghans, being devout Muslims believe firmly in certain things about one’s guests, how they must be treated when they reside in your home. For one thing, you cannot just betray them. The Taliban were not fans of terrorism. They said so. Repeatedly. They gave bin Laden cover when he first arrived because, like them, he followed a fundamentalist brand of Islam. But, when bin Laden’s actions caused mass death and destruction, the Taliban did not celebrate. They were appalled by what had happened. But, unlike America who felt certain they knew what the story was, the Taliban — to satisfy their own cultural need for fairness — wanted to be shown the same proof America had. George W. Bush refused to show them any proof. He demanded the Taliban turn over bin Laden.

The Taliban were not against doing that. All they wanted was proof — so that they could justify turning over bin Laden. It was a cultural thing that we refused to acknowledge and refused to understand. Our emotions got the better of us. So did our white person arrogance. This is all background. It’s important because it SHOULD BE the context in which we see the current catastrophe. America set this in motion. We absolutely could have secured bin Laden without an ounce of bloodshed. Now, that would have meant the Taliban never lost power in Afghanistan and Afghanistan would have spent the last 20 years under the same harsh sharia law the Taliban are about to reimpose. That’s terrible — no argument. But — understand — this is a glass house for us. We have zero business casting stones at others who treat women like chattel when that is exactly what happens in parts of Utah and Arizona where fundamentalist Mormons are the dominant tribe.

In those parts of America, FLDS Mormons hide out in remote scrub, having multiple wives who they impregnate like they, personally, were nation building. Anyone who thinks those women have any rights is clueless. Think those FLDS women ever have a shot at educations? Freedom of choice? Freedom PERIOD?

Puh-lease! Imagine now if some sympathetic other country chose to take up the plight of these religiously oppressed American women — up to and including invading Utah. Hmmmmm… I wonder how THAT would go down in the heartland… .

We screwed the pooch big time on this. But the pooch didn’t get screwed today. Today was when we first felt the pooch’s screwing — feelings that will endure, absolutely. But this debacle does not have Joe Biden’s name on it. It has George W. Bush’s name on it. And Dick Cheney’s. And the name of every chicken hawk who enabled these greedy scumbags. After all, it was George W. Bush — with Dick Cheney barking in his ear — who turned down the Taliban’s offer of bin Laden in exchange for the proof we had the buttressed our certainty that Osama bin Laden indeed masterminded September 11. Funny thing? We had it. We had plenty of proof.

But that proof would have caused problems with our “allies”, the Royal House of Saud. As the Beeb put it: “It is believed that the predominantly Pashtun movement first appeared in religious seminaries – mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia.”

Gosh… how much world wide pain and suffering — how much American pain and suffering — can be laid at the feet of the rulers of Saudi Arabia? Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could be the whole world’s poster person.

Our actions in the Middle East are always colored by how the House of Saud will react. This needs to stop right here, right now.

True Fact: Life is way more complicated than any headline can contain. History is even more complicated. You can report the present with minimal sense of the history that got us here for only so long. Eventually, people will realize you’re full of shit and talking about a world that, if it ever existed, existed so long ago that it’s utterly irrelevant now. Therefore, what the hell are YOU talking about? Context is everything. I didn’t know until this past weekend that the Taliban weren’t the intransigent protectors of a terrorist that I’d been lead to believe. That information was out there — the articles I’ve sourced in this blog are all mainstream news sources who published this information as it happened.

As much as I’d love to hurl still more invective at our god-awful news media (they deserve it!), I can’t right this second because I find myself suddenly realizing we’ve worn the same shoes.

I always had access to this important information that — once I read it — directly impacted my understanding of Afghanistan. I just didn’t know this piece of information existed. But, once I did…

Our news media always has had access to important information about Donald Trump that, had they known it, probably would have directly impacted their understanding of Trump and what the past five years have really been about. The money behind conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon backed Mario Rubio in 2016 which is why they hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Marco’s behalf so as to undermine Donald Trump. While, in time, the cost of this ongoing research would be picked up by Democratic voters, when the Republican money was financing it, the research uncovered such a wealth of damning information about Trump (and how he used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money) that Fusion went and subcontracted the Russian part of the research to the Westerner with better sources inside Russia than maybe anyone: Christopher Steele, former head of MI6’s deeply respected Russia desk. That’s per Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson’s Congressional testimony on August 22, 2017.

It takes a lot of moving parts to make a tragedy — and every tragedy is entirely personal to everyone it consumes.

Our news media are icing eaters in a world made of cake. They’re easily distracted. What’s worse, all those dreams of Pulitzers and Peabody’s have wrecked their ability to focus. They can only hear their own uninformed, clownish, perspective-free questions. Sadly, most of our news media really do cynically believe that “both sides do it”. That’s their lack of perspective speaking. And their love of access journalism.

I’ll grant the news media this: our times transcend any journalist’s ability to capture it in their reporting. Between rampant corruption, worldwide pandemics, right wing power grabs, American white supremacist terrorism, international organized crime, Donald Trump’s many acts of treason and climate change, there are a multitude of stories to cover, each with their own dots to connect. Ah, but what if some of those dots from those various stories connect? What if — contrary to our news media’s view of events — everything happens for a reason and never “just because”?

Why EVERY Trump Lie STILL Matters

Imagine convincing yourself that lying no longer mattered. That’s exactly what our news media did — convinced itself that, with certain people, it was UNDERSTOOD that whatever question they asked would be answered with some sort of deception. And that, our news media convinced itself, was okay. Understood — never before had they been confronted with a president who lied with such ease that it was almost impossible to keep track of all the lies. Our news media had two choices at the start — accept the lying or refuse to accept it. They accepted it. When Trump changed the subject to the next thing he was going to lie about, our news media went with him. “But, what can we do?” they asked. The answer? Not what they did. The instant our news media accepted that first Trumpian lie — whatever it was — Trump knew he had them.

Liars are smart that way. They scope out our credulousness. What, they ask themselves, as they watch us watching them, can I get away with here? Great liars thrust and parry. They’ll feint with a little white lie, see if we snarf the bait. If we do? They’ll take us on a run like a half ton sail fish pulling an old rowboat behind it, some poor schmuck with a cheap rod and reel hanging on for dear Life inside it. That was Donald Trump with our news media from the get-go. Sociopath that he is, Trump still knows exactly where most of the lines are — the lines he KNOWS he cannot cross without becoming a criminal. That’s why Trump never writes anything down. It’s a master plan for never getting caught with evidence that convicts you.

The whole point is to lie but not get caught lying.

That is exactly why Team Trump continues to expend so much energy obstructing justice. If they don’t obstruct justice, justice will put them in prison for the rest of their lives. Or worse.

The bottom line here, as it’s always been, is treason.

Donald Trump committed treason in order to become POTUS. He committed treason every single day that he was POTUS. He is committing treason this very day as I write this and as you read this. Don’t look now, but Donald Trump is committing treason. And, if Trump is committing it, so, too, is every single one of his enablers and followers. The GOP has always known that Russia owned Trump outright. They said so — out loud — at a leadership meeting a month before they nominated him as their presidential candidate. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said, as he entered the room, “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Idle chatter in the room? Or co-conspirators realizing that, indeed, they’re co-conspirators. How else to explain what happened next? Then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan got everyone in the room to agree that what Kevin McCarthy thought would be their secret; “that’s how we know we’re family”, Ryan said.

Every single Republican knew or should have known that their presidential candidate was a traitor. That subject was always on the table. Our news media should have had a very similar understanding of Trump — that he was compromised by rich, powerful Russians with ties to Vladimir Putin — an intelligence agent by training, and a world class criminal by profession. Of course, if you insist on seeing Putin as the legitimate, honest actor he says he is — as our news media does — then you’re also sure to see nothing in the body language in this photo —

The truth about Donald Trump has ALWAYS been publicly available. Jump back to 2017. The Democrats, keenly aware that Trump’s presidency hit the ground riddled with corruption up to and including Russian corruption, scrambled to get the story out there. But, not being in control of any branch of government — as they weren’t after 2016’s strange outcome — the Democrats had few tools at their disposal. Those among them who understood the Steele Dossier’s significance were trying to get its contents into the sunlight. That the Steele Dossier exists at all is a testament to the fact that there IS Truth in this story and people dedicated to revealing the Truth despite what it might cost them. Remember how we “got to” the Steele Dossier?

On August 27, 2017, former Wall Street Journal journalist Glenn Simpson testified before the (then Republican-run) Senate Judiciary Committee about the dossier’s origins. The Republicans running the committee weren’t trying to establish the dossier’s veracity; they were trying to undermine its integrity and the integrity of everyone who helped create it. In other words, the committee was hard at work perpetrating a lie. Simpson testified that his research company, Fusion GPS, had been hired in 2016 by the backers of the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative, Marco Rubio-supporting publication, to do oppo research on Donald Trump. In and of itself, not an unusual occurrence.

But, what Fusion found — as they did their due diligence BEFORE formally beginning their work — shocked them. They saw clear evidence in publicly available material (their due diligence included getting ahold of and combing through every available bit of publicly available material be it print, audio or video that even mentioned Trump. What they found there — in information available to EVERYONE — was clear and compelling evidence (they were all journalists at Fusion, don’t forget) that Trump had used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. To try and get behind that wall, Fusion subcontracted the work to an English company, Orbis. By now, Marco Rubio had dropped out and Fusion’s work was being paid for by a Democrat backing Hillary Clinton.

Orbis was owned and run by Christopher Steele, a highly respected veteran of Britain’s MI6; in fact, Steele had run MI6’s Russia desk. No one in the West had comparable contacts inside Russia. Simpson and Fusion turned to Steele because he had a great reputation. In fact, Steele’s reputation was so good that when the FBI went after Sepp Blatter’s corruption at FIFA? They hired Chris Steele! Now, understand — the secret world is not like the regular world. Smoking guns are few and far between. One must infer shapes in the fog using context and perspective. His “dossier” was a collection of his raw intelligence. If you approach raw intel like regular old “facts”, you’ll miss what it’s telling you. That, of course, is what our news media did — misunderstand how to SEE Steele’s work product while accepting the Republican description of it as “salacious” and “unverified”.

Once the press bought those descriptions, they made them their own. Nothing else mattered in the entirety of the dossier beyond whether or not Trump interacted with hookers. If he didn’t? The entire dossier “must be bullshit”. The news media once again rewarded a liar for lying to them.

Joseph Goebbels understood and preached the mantra “if you tell a lie big enough and often enough, it WILL become the truth”. It’s sort of how advertising works. Maybe if the Coca Cola company had persisted, they might have convinced us after enough time that New Coke really was better than Old Coke (never mind the pure subjectivity of the question). Authoritarians rely on cynicism — theirs and ours — to eventually subdue us. That’s how lies become “truth”. That’s precisely why EVERY lie matters.

Seen as a “one-of”, sure — what harm could one lie do? But seen as a pattern? One lie among MILLIONS? Whole different picture, agree?

Our news media has done the unspeakable but still doesn’t see it. They 1) accepted that Trump lied then 2) built that fact into their understanding of him. That meant that 3) a certain amount of Trumpian lying was now formally ACCEPTED as “just how Trump is”. Once Trump had made that a fact of life, it was only a matter of making the bigger and bigger lies “just how Trump is”. Is he a racist? He says he’s not! Is he corrupt? He says he’s not! Is he a traitor? He says he’s not!

It is not under dispute that Donald Trump lied and lies as easily as he breathes. His whole sales pitch now is “The BIG Lie”. He’s embraced it (okay, he’s flipped it, but he’s embraced it). At the core of the matter is a LIE. Even most Trumpanistas have acknowledged at some point that they KNOW it’s a lie. In a culture where lying was damned and the liar made an instant pariah, lying would have little profit for too much risk; people would lie less and less. But, in a culture where lying could get you out of trouble? From a criminal’s point of view, what’s not to love? And the higher up the criminal food chain you go, the bigger the lies will need to be bigger. Eventually, the onus falls on us. At some point, WE have to stop shrugging off the lies. WE have to realize how deeply the liar disrespects us.

And why they disrespect us. Cos they’re CRIMINALS.

Treason. That is our bottom line here. Pure, unadulterated treason. That’s why “The Big Lie” exists in the first place — to cover up an act of treason.

Anyone who says different is a liar.

The News Media’s Total Failure Of Imagination Is Killing Us

The American news media trying to tell the story of what Donald Trump and the Republican Party did and are still doing to America is a lot like the notion of a couple of blind guys who’ve no idea what an elephant is, trying to make sense of one for the very first time. In the blind guys’ defense, they’ve never encountered an elephant before; they’re entitled to their bafflement. America’s news media knows exactly what the Republican Party is and what Republicans are — they’ve been covering them differently than they cover Democrats for a long, long time apparently because they recognize how different they are, “both sides do it” be damned. America’s news media has it in their heads — because Republicans put it there — that Democrats are as cynical as Republicans (and Republicans are cynicism’s poster boys), that Democrats do things for the very same power-mad, greedy-to-their-toes, white hegemony defending reasons Republicans do. Over the course of Trump’s presidency, the news media allowed itself to be lied to relentlessly — and accepted it as “just how President Trump is” as if Trumpism was some kind of “new normal” we’d all have to get used to. No actually — we don’t have to get used to it.

To this day, most of the news media scratches its head as it wonders aloud why pretty much every Republican remains loyal to Donald Trump despite the fact that he lost the White House for them and lost the Senate. There were some pickups in the house but — how about we stick a pin in Republican election results until AFTER we shine a bright light on electronic voting machine maker ES&S and the way some Republicans — Mitch McConnell comes to mind — keep winning elections with numbers that simply don’t add up. Republican loyalty to Trump stumps the American press. That’s weird considering they themselves have already answered their own question. They wonder why current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy flips and flops on Trump’s culpability in the January 6 insurrection like the answer was unknowable when the Washington Post (among other papers) reported in 2017 about a RECORDED conversation they heard about a meeting of the Republican leadership in 2016 a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their 2016 standard bearer.

The Post reported: McCarthy said upon entering the meeting, “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” That got a few laughs. But no one questioned it. No one said, “Whaaaaat? Kevin — are you kidding? If you’re not, WHY would you say or even THINK such a thing?” As a matter of fact, no one in the meeting seemed the least bit shocked or even surprised. No one picked up a phone to call the FBI, that’s for sure. If anything, calling the authorities and doing what was their PATRIOTIC DUTY would have been a good thing. Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan committed everyone present to an omerta:  “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

To my knowledge, not a single journalist has stuck a mic in either Kevin McCarthy’s or Paul Ryan’s face and demanded what the flying eff that conversation was about — and WHY Kevin thought Putin paid Rohrbacher and Trump and WHY Paul Ryan insisted everyone present keep that problematic secret a secret. You’d think — considering what transpired DURING the Trump presidency — especially Trump’s odd relationship with Vlad Putin — that the question would occur in every journalists mind organically. And yet…

This is what journalistic failure of imagination looks like. There’s a “dot one” big as a house and a “dot two” that’s even bigger. Their connection seems more than obvious. Except to American journalists who apparently cannot imagine that dot one could possibly connect to dot two. To be fair, good journalists require receipts before making accusations in print. In “espionage world” however — the world where Russia launched a still ongoing cyber war against us — receipts don’t necessarily exist; if they do, no one’s going to see them. In the same way the existence of a distant exo-planet must be inferred from how its physical presence alters the light being emitted from its star, evidence of Trump’s relationship with Russia must be inferred from HIS behavior in and around Putin.

Unfortunately, even pictures speaking thousands of words can’t convince our news media of the obvious.

What makes this sad situation even worse is that journalists themselves can’t abide other journalists who DO show imagination. To this day, some “journalists” still think of Christopher Steele’s raw data output — “The Steele Dossier” — as unverified rubbish. Um, no actually… Not understanding that one must view raw intel data differently than, say, a deposition hearing where everyone’s sworn in, most journalists fell down the rabbit hole of “knowability”. Without a literal smoking gun to wrap their minds around, they couldn’t imagine how the Donald Trump dot connected to the Vladimir Putin dot. But, even that roadmap was laid out for America’s news media by former and respected members of their ranks!

On August 22, 2017, former Wall Street Journal reporter and co-founder of research firm Fusion GPS Glenn Simpson was called before the Senate House Intelligence Committee (then being run by the Republican Senate). The Republicans were desperate to cast the Steele Dossier as rubbish because, in fact, it wasn’t and isn’t. Simpson explained how the Dossier came about. In the lead up to the 2016 election — during the primaries — the backers of conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon (Marco Rubio supporters) hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Trump — something political operatives and their money have done forever. As part of their normal due diligence, Simpson explained, his team got their hands on every piece of publicly available material they could that had anything to do with Donald Trump. They found every book about Trump, every newspaper or magazine article. They tracked down every TV appearance, every radio interview. To get their hands on this material, Simpson testified, his team went to every bookstore they could, they combed Amazon. They even went to the public library.

What Fusion found in publicly available material shocked them — these professional journalists who had covered financial corruption their whole careers. And, while the dots themselves did not spell out “Trump Launders Russian Mob Money Via His Atlantic City Casinos”, they might as well have — that’s how loudly the alarm bells started ringing inside Glenn Simpson’s and Fusion’s head. To investigate further (the Free Beacon was now gone, Rubio having dropped from the race; the bills now went to a Democratic donor), Fusion subcontracted out the Russian side of the investigation to an English research outfit called Orbis which was run by the Chris Steele, the highly respected former head of the MI6’s Russia desk. No one had better, more reliable contacts inside Russia than Chris Steele. No one.

To see the value of Steele’s work product you have to remember 1) it’s raw intel and 2) there’s way, WAY more to what’s in the Dossier than just whether or not Donald Trump watched a bunch of Russian hookers piss on the Moscow hotel room bed where Barack Obama had recently slept. There are plenty of other uncomfortable details. Their ick factor may not be as high, but their treason factor far surpasses it. Steele’s work product confirmed what Kevin McCarthy thought about Trump: that Putin owned him outright. One plus one equals two.

Hey, look, American journalists — there’s one story proving another one’s veracity! Or, with Donald Trump and the GOP is that still just not good enough?

The Press Insists They Don’t Know WHY The Republican Party STILL Follows Donald Trump — That’s A Lie! We ALL Know Why…

I’m old enough to remember when saying things like “Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia is mighty suspicious!” would get eye rolls because I was desperate to make a mountain from something less than a molehill. Alas, Trump’s relationship with Russia was never a molehill. It’s not a mountain either — it’s the whole freakin’ mountain RANGE. For the life of me, I cannot get why storytellers (that’s what journalists are — they’re storytellers in real time) can’t for the life of THEM figure out how to aggregate a goddamned story! The American Press can’t say that they had no idea Donald Trump “might be” a traitor when they themselves reported that possibility themselves a year into Trump’s presidency! For real! The Washington Post (and most other papers) published reporting about a conversation that took place between the GOP leadership a month before the Republican Party made Trump their presidential nominee (in other words — the convo they were reporting on took place A YEAR BEFORE; the Post became privy to a RECORDING of the meeting, giving it solid, evidentiary support. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into the meeting and said out loud: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”. No one present disputed McCarthy. Quite the contrary. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — like everyone else in the room — seemed both unsurprised and unfazed. No one demanded to know why McCarthy thought this or what put such an insane idea into his head. Ryan led them to decide they wouldn’t talk about such things outside rooms like that. “That’s how we know we’re family”, Paul Ryan said, sounding for all the world like a mafioso — and not the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress.

In a civil case — compared to a criminal case — the standard required for conviction is 51%. The preponderance of the evidence and not some “smoking gun” suffices. Our news media has gotten it into their heads that their job is to be an absolutely neutral arbiter of events. Just the facts, ma’am. That’s swell. But, as the facts add up, they paint a picture — and either we accept the picture being painted or we don’t. If we accept the picture, we need to incorporate what we’ve just learned into the larger picture of what we know. And what we know should be the evolving story basis for all reporting. Instead, our news media heard “Mexicans are rapists!” — and squawked about it for a few minutes — then moved on when “Pussy grabbing” became the next topic. In short order, our news media move move on from “pussy grabbing” to “But, her emails!” Strangely, “But, her emails” aggregated — we heard about it constantly; it WAS the starting point for the press’s stories about Hillary Clinton.. “Mexicans are rapists” and “Pussy grabbing” did not aggregate. Our press still wondered aloud “Is Trump a racist?” and “Is Trump a rapist?”

Yes and yes — hell, Trump even confirmed it for them! And, STILL — to this day — many “journalists” will shift uncomfortably in their seats like the hemorrhoid they’ve been nursing just flared to life if they have to ask “Is Trump a racist?” As if it’s a question! For the record, it’s NEVER up to a racist to decide if he’s a racist. How the hell would HE know — he’s a racist FFS! The only people with the perspective to tell you whether or not someone’s a racist is the racist’s victim. And if they claim racism — do NOT dismiss it out of hand. That would be racist of you.

The press could have established the truth about who Donald Trump is and even the likelihood of his criminality — and even his treachery — if they’d bothered to do the same due diligence Fusion GPS did when hired back in 2016 by the publishers of the Washington Free Beacon. They were Marco Rubio backers and wanted to get some dirt on Trump so they hired Fusion GPS, the research company started by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Peter Frisch. When called before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 — then under Republican control bent on undermining the integrity of the Steele Dossier — Glenn Simpson testified that before formally beginning their deep dive into Trump, they did their “due diligence”: they got ahold of every piece of publicly available material they could — newspaper articles, magazine pieces, radio interviews, TV shows. They got them from Amazon and other online merchants and used bookstores and even the Public Library. What Fusion found — hiding in plain sight — was the kind of info ANY JOURNALIST could find easily if they’d just get off their asses.

Fusion got the distinct impression that Donald Trump had laundered Russian mob money through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos. THAT’S why they sub-contracted the Russian part of the inquiry to someone who might could answer those questions about Trump and his relationships with Russian mob money. Christopher Steele had run the Russia desk at Britain’s MI6. He had perhaps the best Russian contacts of any Westerner outside Russia. Steele’s work product, by the way, has passed most every smell test it’s been subjected to. This is raw intel data — never intended for uninformed eyes because uninformed eyes won’t contextualize so as to extract the value. Steele — a better American patriot than any Republican — was so concerned by what he learned that he became obsessed with getting his work and its assessments under the noses of someone willing to do something. Chris Steele had no personal ax to grind. And yet, some people in our press, to this day, will frame the Steele Dossier from Trump’s criminal point of view.

During the entire 2020 presidential campaign, our news media seemed to completely forget the fact that Trump was the first person EVER to run for office after BEING IMPEACHED for attempting to cheat in the very election he was now running in. Think about that — both because it happened and because our news media forgot about it — even as Trump continued to cheat his way to victory. Talk about your “patterns of behavior” and “preponderance of the evidence”. There should not be a question as to WHY Trump acted the way he did. This picture alone — coming when it did after the meeting where Trump sperm burped Putin’s whole name in real time (that’s what it sounded like to me) — should have been the end of Trump’s presidency.

Donald Trump is a racist because he has victims who’ll call out his racism. The same goes for Trump’s other crimes. We don’t need to end up getting shot by Trump on Fifth Avenue to know he’s standing there — on Fifth Avenue — and he’s got a gun. If we go to Fifth Avenue — or anywhere near Trump — we might could get shot. Trump’s a traitor, too. We need to stop waiting for Vlad Putin to put up a YouTube video where he spills it all like we really were living in the worst reality show ever and it needs to wrap up cos the season is over.

Trump epitomizes “White Man’s Bamboozlement” — white guys getting away with crap non-white people could never get away with. Republicans used to be better at hiding that fact from everyone else. Trump liberated them from caring whether the rest of us know or not. The Republican Party, by its own admission, is now the Trump Party. The Trump Party is a treasonous criminal enterprise. Therefore, the GOP is now a treasonous criminal enterprise.

Want to know WHY almost the entire Republican Party is still in bed with Trump, still perfectly happy to let him brutalize and abuse them? Because they’re all co-conspirators in a massive crime bent on destroying our democracy. Throw in treason — still a capital offense here in America — and you can see why this is “all or nothing” for the GOP. There’s no going back anymore. There’s only the hopelessness of the mission: permanent minority rule. That dangerous idea is about to get crushed. The wave Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are riding today as the first cash begins to flow through the Covid-19 Relief Plan into the pockets of 85% of Americans won’t crest for a long, long while. It certainly won’t crest before 2022 so, please, put all concerns about the GOP taking the House in the mid-terms completely out of your head. These are not normal times, stop thinking normal things will happen.

Our news media definitely wasn’t up to covering Donald Trump. They’re even less qualified and capable of covering the aftermath of Trump and Trumpism.

If You Want To Know What Donald Trump Will Do Next, You Have To Think Like A Criminal

Here’s a basic storytelling rule of thumb: good people behave like good people and criminals behave like criminals. That’s how storytellers signal to their audience that the story they’re telling takes place in a world we all recognize. Now — if it’s a good story, the good people may turn out to be criminals and one or two of the criminals may turn out to be good people. But, we’ll see all that in the context of the story. Actions and thoughts will tell us who the real good people and criminals are just before the final fade out. Regardless of who turns out to be what, when the full picture is revealed, good people will have behaved like good people and criminals will have behaved like criminals.

Donald Trump is a criminal. Being a rich, white guy, we shrugged off Trump’s pre-POTUS criminality in real time, letting him repeatedly piss all over us. When the Washington Free Beacon hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Trump back in the early days of the 2016 campaign, Fusion started its work by first getting its hands on every piece of publicly available material about Trump. Books, magazine and newspaper pieces, TV and radio appearances — everything. Their due diligence — the work they did BEFORE actually starting the work — convinced them (Glenn Simpson, Fusion’s co-founder testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017) that Trump had strong ties to Russian gangsters and likely laundered their money through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos.

That’s why Fusion hired Christopher Steele (and his company Orbis). Steele had excellent contacts and sources inside Russia, having run MI6’s Russia desk.

To see Donald Trump as just a “different kind of POTUS” (as many in our news media still do), is to see Al Capone as just “a different kind of businessman” or Pol Pot as “just a different kind of politician”. Yeah, okay — you could say that and you’d be right, but… it’s kinda beside the point. But, if you don’t see Trump as a criminal — either because you truly don’t see him that way or because you refuse to — then you are reporting on a Donald Trump who doesn’t actually exist except maybe inside your head.

Example — NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell. She seems like a very nice person. That very nice person should find another line of work. She’s not particularly good at journalism — all her awards be damned. Kelly is a lipstick-wearing steno pad. She thinks “journalism” is repeating back the words people speak to her. But Kelly doesn’t leave it at that — just repeating, say, what Donald Trump says. No, Kelly goes the extra mile. She “characterizes” Trump’s bullshit — she “puts it into his voice” — speaks what she insists is Trump’s thinking behind it all.

Oh, FFS! Kelly’s a nice person — we all agree. Donald Trump isn’t. He’s a rapist and a racist and a bigot and a serial adulterer and an abusive parent and a criminal and a traitor (that’s just for starters). His thought process doesn’t work the same way Kelly’s does. He doesn’t justify himself to himself the way Kelly justifies herself to herself. So, when Kelly applies how SHE thinks to how Trump thinks — it’s completely wrong. The person she’s describing — Trump on the outside, Kelly O’Donnell on the inside — DOES NOT EXIST except in Kelly’s soft, mushy mind.

Kelly’s not the only offender here. It’s the rare working journalist who’ll put themselves inside Trump’s head. “We can’t know what he’s thinking,” they insist — as if Trump’s own words, whole PATTERNS of thinking and the assurances of those who know him weren’t enough to convince THEM. FFS — in a civil trial, all one needs is 51% certainty to win and what is the news media if not a court of PUBLIC opinion?

In most talking head panels, they’ll allow for 90% of the spectrum of possible explanations for Trump’s behavior. He’s completely innocent is at one far end. But, look to the other far end — it’s not there: that’s the missing 10% (generously assuming that total innocence and total guilt are equally likely when only total guilt actually is). Think about that — these conversations between serious people will allow that Trump could be completely innocent but completely guilty? No way! If you can’t allow for the possibility that Trump is 100% a criminal — and does what he does BECAUSE he’s 100% a criminal — then when you put yourself inside his head and (try to) stare out into the world through Trump’s red-rimmed eyes, you’re mis-reporting it. Hell, you’re not seeing it, period.

Want to know why Trump will do anything and everything to stay POTUS for the rest of his life? HE’S A CRIMINAL! He’s been protected all this time by that ludicrous DoJ RULE (it’s not a LAW) — put in place to hinder Nixon and Agnew! Without it, Trump would have been indicted eons ago. Team Mueller would NOT have felt constrained; they held back accusing Trump because that same rule prevented Trump from, in essence, defending himself. A technicality has kept the most corrupt president in the country’s history in power.

If you think of Trump that way — desperate to avoid testifying under oath because you will perjure yourself because you ARE a stone cold criminal and a traitor — then his behavior isn’t mystifying at all. The dots all connect and the picture you get is complete and logical. But, as we know — it ain’t just Trump.

Our news media scratches its head even harder when it tries to make sense of Republicans. “Why, oh why do Republicans go along with this madness?” our press asks itself. They all must be terrified of Trump. Terrified of his voters. Yes and yes. But it’s bigger than that. Prison is the bigger motivator — fear of going to prison and dying in prison. The split second Trump has a legal nightmare, so will virtually every single Republican — because that’s how conspiracy works. See something, SAY something. See something, say NOTHING? An actual journalist should ask “WHY?” Why say nothing? Who are you protecting?

The Republicans knew even before the 2016 convention that Trump was dirty. But then, they were already dirty, too. That’s why then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan admonished the meeting of muckety mucks to stay silent on the matter of “Putin paying Rohrbacher and Trump” by “keeping it in the family”. Sounds like a mafia family, no?

It’s the storyteller’s job to keep the heroes and the villains straight inside their head. To do that though, you have to have a deeper grasp of who they really are. You have to look past the icing and dig into the cake beneath. Imagine you’ve just taken a mouthful of rotten cake — made even more horrible because the icing was so pretty. No projectile vomiting allowed! Now — describe the taste in your mouth.

I bet the only thing you say about the icing is how deceiving it was. Now, please — go on! Tell us how terrible that cake tasted and still tastes. Tell us how you might never get its essence out of your mouth or senses even. Finally — how do you feel about the baker? Put yourself inside HIS mind as he concocts the flavor he intends to fool you into tasting.

I always wonder this about Kelly O’Donnell. If Trump (because he’s Trump) said “I know for a fact that Kelly O’Donnell eats children!”, would Kelly faithfully report it even though she’s pretty certain that she doesn’t eat children and never has? Or would Kelly — as she always does — repeat the words simply because Trump said it?

I betcha Kelly would (finally) draw a line. I bet that she’d (finally) step outside of her ivory tower of “both sides do it”. She certainly wouldn’t put herself inside Trump’s thought process so as to personalize WHY he thinks Kelly does this terrible thing because, she’d know, every thought she’s attributing to Trump is utter bullshit.

Isn’t perspective funny, that way?

Dear News Media: If You See Trump As A Normal POTUS, He Makes No Sense; If You See Him As A CRIMINAL — Voila! He Makes PERFECT Sense

To this day, our news media — supposedly our MOST informed people — cannot fathom Donald Trump. They still wonder what his “strategy” is, what master plan he’s following, being after all a master negotiator. Why does he only ever appeal to his base, they wonder. Why does he kowtow to Vladimir Putin? Why does he lie so relentlessly? Why won’t he concede? I agree — if viewed through a normal lens (as if Trump was a normal person)? It’s baffling. But, pull another lens out of the kit — the “Trump’s A Criminal” lens — and attach it to the camera. Now what do you see? Suddenly, Donald J, Trump makes complete and total sense, doesn’t he?

Trump kowtows to Putin because Putin owns him. When we have a rejuvenated Department of Justice, expect the counter-intelligence investigations that Rod Rosenstein killed to finally take flight. The reveals will be damning for everyone with an “R” next to their names. The power grab we’re experiencing isn’t a new idea or impulse for the Republicans. It’s their ultimate wet dream though. And, right now, they’re pulling their plonkers so hard their plonkers might come off (just not in the way they want em to).

The constant flow of reveals has gone all in one direction, revealing more details of just how corrupt Trump is. Just how shameless and soulless and fatuous he is, too. Figuring out a guy as blatantly corrupt as Trump is should not be this challenging to America’s news media. Hell, Fusion GPS were so blown away by Trump’s blatant money laundering via his bankrupted Atlantic City casinos that they hired Chris Steele (former head of the MI6’s vaunted Russia Desk) to investigate just how big a criminal Trump was.

If the news media were capable of aggregating all the details they themselves have reported about Trump, they’d be reporting on a criminal finally run to ground — not by law enforcement but by We The People. Alas, instead, to this day the majority of the news media reports on Trump as if he were as innocent of corruption and treason as you or me.

How one frames a story IS the story. If you tell the story of Al Capone as hagiography, he’ll appear as a saint. If you tell the story of Jean Valjean as just a guy who stole bread? You kinda miss his story. If you didn’t see that Donald Trump entered office a criminal, a cheat and a traitor, then whoever you were reporting on, it wasn’t Donald Trump.

If you tell the story of Trump running for re-election without mentioning each and every time that he was the FIRST person EVER to run for re-election having been IMPEACHED for cheating in that very election? You’re not telling the whole story and you’re certainly not reporting Donald Trump accurately.

If you never asked what THIS picture was about — you’ve never reported Donald Trump accurately.

If you see Trump as a traitor, by the way, he makes even MORE sense…

Our News Media Should Begin Every News Broadcast With A “Previously On” Segment So Even THEY Know The Story AS IT IS Already

What is it about returning to “Square One” every day that America’s news media finds so alluring? It’s as if, in their heads, even after the Red Wedding, they all keep waiting for Eddard Stark to reappear in the story. If our news media had been doing its job correctly, our starting point every day — in the Donald Trump Presidency story — wouldn’t be “a different kind of POTUS running a different kind of presidential campaign”. It’d be about a stone cold TRAITOR, surrounded by co-conspirators, stumbling through their coup d’etat’s death throes. That IS the story that we’re starting with TODAY, Election Day 2020.

The genius of a “previously on” segment in a story is that, with a few quick reminders — visual and auditory — most of what’s gone on BEFORE this episode started gets re-established in the audience’s mind: here’s what you need to know NOW if the next part of the story’s going to make any sense to you. Of course, “previously on” assumes the audience is up to date enough with where the story is that these quick reminders will set up the next part of the story. That assumes, of course, that the storyteller is up to date. Our problem, here in America — our storytellers don’t seem to know much about the very story they’re reporting on!

I watch a lot of news. I don’t watch so much “for” the news (that’s what Twitter’s for — even the news networks keep their fingers on that pulse), I watch (through metaphorical fingers) for how the news networks report the news. I’m a storyteller by trade and nature. So are journalists — they’re real-time storytellers. Regardless of whether you tell stories in real time or with a little hindsight, the rules of storytelling are the same. If you want to do it correctly, every scene needs to add new information to what we knew in the previous scene. Even if it’s to subtly shade a story nuance, a scene must add something or it doesn’t belong. It’s telling the audience something it already knows.

Why, we have to ask, is the storyteller doing that? For the benefit of the story? No. For the benefit of the audience? No. They’re doing it for their own benefit — because they need to keep reminding themselves what the story is. And, if you’re telling a story this important to the Commonweal and the greater good? You had better deliver your A-game. Alas, that is not happening with most of our news media.

That’s the frustration a lot of us have felt all along as we watch this story unfold — and as we watch the news media struggle to tell the story. Their audience is often miles ahead of them. Now, to be fair, a news audience doesn’t have to maintain the journalistic standards journalists must to maintain their integrity. Me? I can spew anything I like, supported or unsupported. I’m just a guy with an (informed) opinion.

But, that informed opinion is informed mostly by the news media’s reporting. I’ve been aggregating the story all along in my head. You know — “keeping track of it”. Following the characters as we learn more about them — seeing how both they evolve and our understanding of them evolves. Kinda like how Fusion GPS started with one view of Donald Trump — before they began the oppo research the conservative, Jeb-Bush-backing Washington Free Beacon hired them to do in the leadup to election 2016 — then switched to another view of Trump after their due diligence turned up surprising information about him. As Glenn Simpson, Fusion’s co-founder, explained in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017, Fusion’s due diligence amounted to getting their hands on every piece of publicly available Trump-related material they could from newspapers, magazines, the radio, TV or anywhere.

The reason Fusion contacted Christopher Steele — to help answer some of the questions their due diligence had raised — was because Steele had the best contacts inside Russia of pretty much anyone outside Russia. Fusion was adding information to the story and using it to constantly update their idea of Trump, who he is and what he’s really up to.

On the other side of that equation is our news media who, to this day, continue to scratch their heads, mystified by Trump and his “different kind of POTUS” behavior.

You know what the news media should have been reporting every day? That Donald Trump is the FIRST PRESIDENT EVER to run for re-election HAVING BEEN IMPEACHED — for CHEATING in the very election he’s now running in. And everyone with a double digit IQ agrees that the Republican-led Senate failed to live up to their oaths of office by not even having a real hearing to address the charges.

Think of everything we KNOW about Trump. Think of the cruelty. Of the sexual predation and rape. Think of the cheating on his wives. Think of the racist business practices. Think of the consistently suspicious behaviors — now outed as outright crimes. Think of all the Constitutional violations that, for some reason, we’ve decided to ignore. Think of all the dubious if not downright treasonous relationships Trump has with authoritarian rulers and thugs. Think of what Trump (and Jared Kushner) pal Mohamed bed Salmon did to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Think of this photo (with Trump’s literal “face of treason”) —

Real journalists like Seth Abramson & Sarah Kendzior, working outside institutional journalism, have produced work — using the news media’s own product — to aggregate the story of a criminal coup d’etat by Donald Trump and the Republicans. This is not some imagined fiction. There are receipts FFS. Mountains of them. Hell, we watched treason happen — live and on TV. We’re still watching it today as Donald Trump takes a sledgehammer to what remains of our electoral process, all at the service of Vladimir Putin.

Except this time, just enough of the press is woke — and plenty of the electorate — to move first and protect ourselves. You see, we’ve been aggregating the Trump story. We’ve seen him lie 30,000 plus times and now assume he always lies; it’s incumbent on Trump to PROVE he’s NOT lying. Imagine if the press did that!

Imagine if, during even one news conference, one member of the press — in response to Trump spewing lies at them — had said “I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll need to back that statement up or it’s bullshit”. You don’t ask a liar to explain their lie, you TELL the liar their lie is a LIE. You do NOT give the lie credence.

See the difference? Even if you think the lie’s a lie (inside your head), you’ve asked the question in a way that gives the liar latitude. “Explain” assumes there’s something TO explain. Beginning with “that is a LIE” instead, puts the lie front and center as the status quo. The lie is the one thing we know for a fact. The liar is completely on the defensive and the one arrow in their quiver has no point.

There’s one basic rule of thumb when chasing rabbits. Do NOT follow them down their rabbit holes. Wait for them to re-emerge THEN whack-a-mole them.

As we begin Election Day 2020, the “previously on” segment should have made voting — for those NOT in the Trump Forever 30% — a no-brainer. After all, why would any self-interested person vote for someone as selfish as Trump whose interests begin and end with himself? They wouldn’t.

That’s the story.

Election 2020: Prediction Time

From the second Donald Trump first stole the presidency in 2016, the only remedy available to We The People was going to be We The People. Barack Obama pretty much told us that in his farewell speech. As we speak nearly 100 million Americans have voted already. Considering how apathetic most Americans are come election time? That’s not insignificant.

Maybe being at war has inspired us to take our most sacred right as citizens more seriously. On the one hand, there’s the cyber war that Russia launched against us. On the other, there’s the Culture War launched by the snowflakey right wing against the diverse rest of us. Seeing all those Americans lining up to vote gives me hope — and it’s proving Obama right.   

If I go back and look at things I prognosticated before Trump was elected (going back to Facebook posts and tweets and blog posts), I’ll admit: I was wrong about Trump.  I wasn’t wrong about what he would do, I was wrong about how completely he’d get away with what he was doing.

I was wrong about Trump lasting four years.  I did not see that.  I did not see him pulling us out of the Paris Accords or treating Kim Jong-Un like a brother.  I didn’t see him betraying the Kurds or opening vast tracts of the Arctic to pollution.

I figured, by the time he got around to that stuff?  He’d be gone.

I was wrong, you see, about the complicity of the people around him.  It never occurred to me that the entire Republican Party would close ranks around Trump entirely out of party loyalty — in the face of the fact that he is a clear and present danger.

That’s not ME talking, that’s David Laufman, Former chief of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division’s Counter Intel & Export Control Section (that’s how real and technical this guy is):

This is not an ordinary election between two competing political sides.  Victory by one side will result in a very different America from what will result — sorry, what could happen — should the other side claim and get to experience their victory.

In 2016, don’t forget, the majority of Americans voted against Trump but got Trump anyway!  It feels kinda… un-democratic.  In fact, it feels kinda suspect — especially considering as the majority — by a lot — voted for the diametric opposite of what we’re living through.

That’s the thing — while life may appear to go on should Trump “win”, that will only be on the surface.  And for some.  For others, life stopped going on the moment Trump “won” the first time.  For plenty of people, life began to stop.  Literally. 

Pandemics are not political.  Why is ours?  Oh, right… 

The problem is, Trump did not “win” the 2016 election.  We still need to deal with that fact; in fact, Trump’s illegitimacy is at the heart of the question we’re asking today — or the predictions we’re making.  

In one sense, every American presidency is like a four-year story cycle with that president as the story cycle’s hero.  If we like the story cycle (and the hero), we’ll put our money down for a sequel.  If we don’t, we’ll start a new story cycle with a new hero.

Some of us understood what the Donald Trump story cycle was really about from the get-go: corruption.  His “politics” have been all over the place because he’s not a political creature.  He’s a guy looking to make a deal and if being a Democrat in NYC makes dealmaking easier than Trump’s not just a Democrat, he’s the most passionate pro-abortion Democrat of all!  Trump’s not political.  He’s flat out cynical.  He thinks everyone else is as corrupt as he is.

If only Democrats were accusing the Trump admin of corruption, an argument could be made that the accusation was political in nature.  But, there’s the Lincoln Project.  And a growing list of other Republicans — politicians, public servants and military people — who have come out and openly stated that they are voting for Joe Biden as should you because Trump’s so corrupt.  This list is amazingly long!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Republicans_who_oppose_the_Donald_Trump_2020_presidential_campaign

When literally hundreds of important, knowledgeable people from Trump’s own political party openly speak of how dangerous he is to the republic itself, I’d say that deserves our attention.

This is not an ordinary election.  The choice isn’t between two variations on a theme.  It’s between two diametric opposites.  With very real consequences for either side when the other side wins.

Very, very real consequences will ensue.

The best indicator of future events is past events.  When humans consistently behave a certain way in the past, we can make an informed guess about their future behavior.  A person with a history of getting violent when triggered in the past will probably get violent when triggered in the future (unless he does something to stop it).  If we can’t assess future risk based on the past, we’re left to face the future blind.

It comes down to what we KNOW empirically based on the past.

Part of our problem with Donald Trump — and predicting what he’ll do — is that our idea of him is tainted by television.  An awful lot of Trump’s voters voted for him because they believe to this day that Trump IS the character he played on The Apprentice.  Except he’s not.  Trump the “master negotiator” and “great businessman” was an invention of Mark Burnett’s.  

Master negotiators and great businessmen don’t declare bankruptcy as many times as Trump has — and they don’t owe over a billion dollars — AS TRUMP DOES — a fact he does not deny!

Before I make my predictions, one story.  From the moment the Steele Dossier first came to life, everyone around Trump worked overtime to trash its credibility.  The news media never understood it in its proper context — it’s raw intelligence data.  

Let’s be clear: Steele’s work product has proven to be almost (not entirely) accurate.  There are still questions about it but the overwhelming majority of Steele’s observations and notes pan out or have since panned out.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-inside-story-of-christopher-steeles-trump-dossier

https://www.lawfareblog.com/steele-dossier-retrospective

First, you have to understand how the dossier came to be in order to understand what it is and why it’s important.

During the 2016 primaries, the owners of the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative newspaper, hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research work on Donald Trump.  The Beacon’s owners were Jeb Bush supporters and they wanted dirt on Trump.  

Fusion was a research firm co-created by Glenn Simpson, a journalist who’d written most recently for the Wall Street Journal (hardly a bastion of liberal idealism).  When hauled before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017 (the Republican-led committee was trying to undermine the dossier’s integrity), Simpson testified that, having gotten the assignment from the Free Beacon, the first thing Fusion did was its “due diligence”.

They got their hands on every piece of publicly available material about Trump.  They got newspaper clippings, books and magazine articles.  They watched every video they could find, every radio show interview he did.  They went to Amazon and actual book stores.  They even went to the public library so as to exhaustively find every piece of publicly available material — just so they’d have a STARTING PLACE on Trump to work from.

And their STARTING PLACE, Simpson testified, was the absolute certainty that Trump had used his (now bankrupt) Atlantic City casinos to launder copious amounts of Russian mob money.  In order to answer that question (and other questions about Trump’s strange relationships over the years with shadowy Russians), Fusion sub-contracted out the work to Christopher Steele, former head of the MI6’s Russia desk (MI6 is Britain’s CIA).  Steele had the best contacts inside Russia bar none.

The dossier is simply Steele using his sources to provide a picture of all the intel currently floating around inside Russia about Trump — and his relationship with the country’s leaders.  And its criminals — since, really, Russia is run by criminals.  

Okay, okay — I’m getting there!

My predictions come loaded down with baggage — they’re informed by a lot of reading.  There are journalists and other informed writers of this story who’ve brought remarkable insight to how I see what’s happening here: Sarah Kendzior, Seth Abramson, Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace (Sarah Palin’s former handler!), Andrew Weissman, Mary Trump and Glenn Simpson himself (in Crime In Progress, his book about the Steele Dossier and Fusion’s own investigation of Trump).

Another thing I got wrong: like many people, I thought somewhere between Robert Mueller and the FBI, there was an ongoing counterintelligence investigation that was going to connect all the dots between Trump and Russia.  We learned recently however that assistant AG Rod Rosenstein, a Trump supplicant, told Team Mueller to stay in the Wikileaks lane.  They were under the impression that the FBI was handling the counterintel op.  But Rosenstein never told the FBI to pursue the counterintel op.  Deliberately.

In other words, the most important investigation into what happened behind the scenes in 2016 to explain the strange relationship between Team Trump and Russia never happened.  Those questions remain unanswered though they must be asked.

Let’s remember something: Donald Trump was impeached for cheating in the very election he’s running in.  And the thing he was impeached for was cheating in THIS election the same way he cheated in the last election.

That is my starting point.  This is not an election between two political ideologies.  

It is between right and wrong (let’s avoid good v evil, wink-wink).  

I’m not alone in thinking this.  The most prominent, forceful, brutally honest voice in the pre-election mix just might belong to THE LINCOLN PROJECT.

https://lincolnproject.us

The Lincoln Project is made up of Republicans (some now former Republicans) including George Conway (Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway’s HUSBAND!), Rick Wilson & Steve Schmidt — John McCain’s campaign manager.  These are serious Republicans.  Patriotic Americans. Good people.  Good people with whom people on the left disagree politically.  But we can all live with that because good people can argue amongst themselves and find compromises they all hate equally.  The stone cold truth is: the left needs the balance of the right as surely as the right needs the balance of the left.  Our success does indeed lie somewhere in the middle.  

To get there from where we are — swinging violently to the right against the majority’s will — to where we need to be — a more moderate “center” — requires more than just a jerk to the center.  That’s not what’s coming.  And a jerk to the far left is coming.  The Lincoln Project Team understand that.

This is from THEIR mission statement: “We do not undertake this task lightly nor from ideological preference. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain. However, the priority for all patriotic Americans must be a shared fidelity to the Constitution and a commitment to defeat those candidates who have abandoned their constitutional oaths, regardless of party. Electing Democrats who support the Constitution over Republicans who do not is a worthy effort.”

Further, their web site states: “… sectionalism in the country and factionalism in government has led to ever uglier examples of how our political system is failing. President Donald Trump and those who sign onto Trumpism are a clear and present danger to the Constitution and our Republic. Only defeating so polarizing a character as Trump will allow the country to heal its political and psychological wounds and allow for a new, better path forward for all Americans.”

The have produced some breathtakingly brutal ads that point directly at their problem with Trump and Trumpism: it’s sheer immorality. 

An example:

https://lincolnproject.us/video/cruel

Remember as you watch — this is Republicans addressing what other Republicans have done.  They’re advising the undecided to vote for Joe Biden not for political reasons but for moral ones.

I repeat: though I have deep and profound issues with Trump politically, my deepest issue with him transcends politics completely.  My core issue with Donald Trump (as candidate and now as president) has always been with his total lack of moral character.  His sexism.  His constant houndogging outside his marriage.  His blatant racism.  His creepy sexuality toward his own daughter.  It almost doesn’t matter what the man’s politics are.  Even if I agreed with his politics, I’d object to him as a human being.  I am not alone in feeling this way.

I believe (based on copious receipts provided by good, competent, genuine journalists) that Trump and those around him knowingly committed multiple crimes in order to “win” election 2016.  One of the protections Trump is hiding behind is that DoJ rule that says you can’t indict a sitting president.  THAT is what Trump must avoid at all costs: being indicted.

That’s what every republican has to avoid — the legal consequences of their criminal actions up till now.

You have to have this in your mind when you turn to the future — and what will happen should Trump “win”.

MY PREDICTIONS

Trump won’t “win”.  He literally can’t.  He literally never did.  

The only way Trump “wins” this election is because he’s stolen it.  Again.  Trump has no intention of governing this country in the way it was designed to be governed.  He and his party are actively engaged in preventing other Americans from voting — because they don’t want those Americans to vote them out of office.

Sorry, that’s not how this country works.  Not THIS country, not yet.  

This desperation speaks to what will happen when We The People (not the Democrats or Joe Biden) throw Donald Trump and a huge swath of the Republican Party out of power.  People are coming out to vote who have never voted before.  Young people are voting as never EVER before — and they’re voting, most of them, in one direction: for something and against the other — because of what the other is and not because of its politics.

  1. Donald Trump will get blown out by the biggest margin ever.  More Americans will vote in this election than, perhaps in any other election ever. That’s for a reason: the overwhelming majority of Americans are done, done, DONE w Donald Trump and what he’s doing to America.
  2. IF Trump claims victory, it will be through manipulating the courts and the vote count.  As Trump himself has said OUT LOUD: the problem with letting too many Americans vote is it’s always bad for Republicans.  (“They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again” — that’s Trump during an appearance on Fox & Friends.) Again, Trump may claim victory but he will not have legitimately won.  He “got away with it” last time; he won’t this time.
  3. Joe Biden will win handily.  The Democrats will increase their lead in the House and they will flip the Senate.  Then, here is what (I predict) they will do
    1. The Democrats will increase the size of the Supreme Court — from 9 seats to 13 or 15 at a minimum in order to make the SCOTUS look more like We The People and less like just one segment of our population.  
    2. The Democrats will make Puerto Rico and Washington DC states — giving them two Senators each — helping to bring some balance back to the Senate and how it “represents” Americans and their interests.  
    3. The pandemic (as much as the Democrats) will make socialized medicine and universal basic income done deals. They’ll launch a massive infrastructure project even bigger than Roosevelt’s WPA — all in order to help get the economy out of the ditch it’s in — the ditch Trump and his coronavirus response put us and the economy in.
    4. As Joe Biden said, it won’t be up to him what “happens” to any Republican who might have behaved illegally over the last four years, it will be up to a newly rejuvenated Department of Justice — as per our Constitution and the rule of law.  If the rule of law dictates the Justice be visited upon all the Republicans now fallen from power then so be it.  They knowingly violated the rule of law which is what brought us here.  Behold The Day Of Judgment.

In neither case will life go on as it was.  

Life will go on but we are about to experience the kind of profound political and social change that followed the Black Death.  In the same way that bubonic plague ended feudalism, the coronavirus pandemic will undermine crony capitalism and usher in a more socialistic approach to life and governance.  

My big prediction? Change is coming!

NOTE: this post was also published at https://faitheismproject.com/.

Failure Of Imagination — As Much As Treason — Got Us Here

It sucks waking up every day, feeling exactly what former first lady Michelle Obama described yesterday in her podcast — a persistent mild depression. I’d quibble with the word “mild” but then I’m a quibbler by nature.

Mrs. Obama was speaking more to the relentless parade of racist cop incidents. Yesterday’s wasn’t deadly but it was horrifying nonetheless. Cops in Aurora, CO stopped a van with a family of African Americans in it — a mom, her daughters and some other kids. The cops were looking for a stolen MOTORCYCLE. They drew up alongside the van, GUNS POINTED at it — AT CHILDREN.

This would never have happened to a white family. Listen to the sound of those terrified children and then look to the WHITE COPS (a female included). Wonder what could be going through their minds. Wonder at the inhumanity.

Think about the trauma that will haunt all of them forever.

I sure hope the people in that van can sue the Aurora, CO Police Department. They’re going to need the money to pay for their therapy. And, it seems, the only way to drain racism from a police department is to, first, drain it of money. At least the money that supports the racism inside a police department.

It gets extra disgusting when you consider that the people inside the van are paying the tax dollars that resulted in them lying on the pavement, terrified for their lives. They paid for that. They will pay for it the rest of their lives.

This has been going on FOREVER. Black people have been saying it. Racists have an excuse. They’re the cause. What about the rest of us white people? Why have we put up with it?

Down deep? Most of us didn’t believe it. Not so much because it strained credulity but because it was too monstrous for our tender, white minds to process. We couldn’t imagine it. Our imaginations failed.

Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia has also revealed a failure of imagination — on the part of most Americans but, worst of all, on the part of our news media. Plenty of them STILL can’t imagine that Donald Trump has any sort of “unseemly” relationship with Vlad Putin. They still wonder aloud why Trump is always so beholden to Putin.

If they scratched their heads any harder, they’d create permanent divots in their skulls.

The truth about Donald Trump has always sat there in clear view. FFS — the first concerted oppo research carried out against Trump established that. Paul Singer, the money behind the Washington Free Beacon (a conservative news organization awarded for its journalism by the extremely conservative Heritage Foundation) hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump. Fusion was a research company run by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Thomas Catan. For the record — no one here is a raving socialist.

Simpson testified before the House Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017 for ten hours. Back then, the House was run by Republicans who were trying to undermine all investigations into Trump’s 2016 campaign and its strange relationship with Russia. Simpson testified that the first thing Fusion did after getting the oppo research gig was their due diligence. They got their hands on every piece of Trump-related anything (newspapers, magazine articles, TV interviews, radio interviews, books). They scoured the internet, shopped at Amazon, visited actual bookstores and even the public library.

What they found — in publicly available material, in other words, information ANYONE could find — convinced them that Donald Trump could well be an international criminal who’d used his bankrupted Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. If that was the case, they understood, then Trump was completely compromised. To do the dirty work inside Russia, Fusion sub-contracted the work to Orbis, a London-based private intelligence firm run by Christopher Steele — former head of MI6’s Russia desk.

That’s why the Steele Dossier exists. It’s Steele’s raw intel. Let me repeat: it’s RAW INTEL. If you don’t understand the difference between raw intel and news reporting, you should put down the raw intel. It will confuse you.

In the shadow world of spies, one can’t rely on a “smoking gun”. One has to rely on context — the most complete picture one can form so as to discern real objects from fog. The Steele Dossier paints a picture that has remained mostly accurate about Trump and the many ways Russia has compromised him.

And yet, our news media STILL describes this document as fake.

Because Donald Trump and the Republicans describe the dossier as fake. Of course, they have to — they’re all compromised toghether. Hell, the Republicans knew Trump was in bed with Russia during their 2016 convention. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously walked into a meeting of Republican muckety-mucks and said “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wasn’t shocked by that news. He was so un-shocked in fact that 1) he didn’t call the FBI and 2) he swore the whole room to secrecy. “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

From the get-go, Donald Trump has openly given away our secrets to Russia. He famously told Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that firing Comey took all the pressure about Russia off his back. How hard would it be to imagine what that really meant? And yet, our news media couldn’t make that leap.

We don’t know what secrets Trump has shared directly with Vladimir Putin — his chief handler — because Trump has never let Americans in on the meetings. The Russians always seem to know what went down though. How much imagination does it take to connect dots here?

Look at these two photos of Donald Trump and Vlad Putin. How much imagination does it take to extrapolate what these photos are shouting at us?

Donald Trump violated the Constitution the moment he took an oath to uphold and protect it. We knew it as he did it — and yet did nothing. Failure of imagination — to act but also to recognize what the ripple effects of our failure would be. Our imaginations failed to tell us that there would even be ripple effects.

Yet, here we are.

Racism is failure of imagination. Extreme religiosity is failure of imagination. Of course it is — you’re letting an imaginary creature or creatures do all your thinking for you. Misogyny is failure of imagination. So’s bigotry and fear of LGBTQ people and intolerance and ignorance of any stripe. It’s all failure of imagination.

Fortunately, failure of imagination is fixable. All one has to do is step outside the box you’re living in, take off your normalcy bias blinders and open your damned eyes.

LOOK at what is instead of assuming you know what is. Actually LISTEN to people and what they need. Imagine solutions that aren’t earthbound. Yes, we can’t make the impossible possible. But we have to be willing to challenge the impossible. Better yet, let’s give our imaginations a chance.

We may find that what we thought was impossible isn’t.

When This Is All Done, Can We All Agree That Anyone Who Says “Nobody Coulda Seen It Coming!” Is An Idiot?

Nobody coulda seen a worldwide pandemic coming? Wrong. People like Laurie Garrett have been predicting it for years. Nobody coulda seen Donald Trump coming? Oh, please.

Fusion GPS c-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Intel Committee in August 2017 about what happened when Fusion did their due diligence before commencing the opposition research the Washington Free Beacon had hired them to do on Donald Trump. Simpson testified (to a Republican-led committee trying to undermine the Steele Dossier’s integrity), that what they found in publicly available material convinced them that Donald Trump had laundered Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos — which was why they sought out and hired Christopher Steele. Steele — former head of Britain’s MI6’s Moscow desk. No one had Steele’s contacts or deep background knowledge of how Russia worked.

Chris Steele certainly saw Trump coming. Even after no one was paying him anymore, Steele was still desperate to get someone — anyone — to look at his work (including, I bet, the very people who’d just hired him). It was Steele’s persistence that (eventually) got his raw intel into the hands of the late Senator John McCain.

Plenty of people saw Trump coming — and accurately predicted what would be the outcome of having Trump (literally) occupy the White House.

And nobody saw the explosive rage against racism coming? You’d have to be blind or conservative to think that way. This has been coming at us since the Republic’s founding because we thought slavery wasn’t heinous enough to banish from our shores. We compromised with evil. It was only a matter of time before the costs came due.

“Nobody coulda seen it coming” is what lazy-assed people say to themselves. It’s absolution by ignorance — and it’s bullshit.