There was a terrific Monty Python sketch called “The Argument Clinic” where — pure theatre of the absurd — a customer (played by Brian Jones) goes to an argument clinic where he pays to have an argument with an argument counselor played by John Cleese. Right off the bat, Cleese’s counselor is disagreeable and argumentative but, has he started the customer’s argument session or is he just arguing on his own time? At one point, they argue over what constitutes an argument versus, say, just back and forth gainsaying. In the end, bringing the whole absurd idea around again, Jones, exasperated by Cleese, mutters on his way out the door “What a stupid concept”. Arguing — all by itself — is easy. Any idiot can do that. Making a real, valid point however — that’s much harder to do — in part because not everyone has a valid or justifiable point. This is what makes social media such a lure but also such a losing proposition. Everyone brings their point of view to the par-tay. It’s remarkable how few of those points of view actually have a valid point.
Even if we stripped away the shield of anonymity from social media, I bet few of those extreme positions would change. Fewer might get expressed out loud — because cowardice or because insincere — but they’d represent the very same political positions. The racist thugs who don’t care that The Big Lie is a lie have a very distinct point of view. Does their point of view have a valid point though? Corruption has a point of view — as do the corrupt. But does corruption or the corrupt have a point (other than self-enrichment at everyone else’s expense)? No. The guy who steals your car or breaks into your house or molests your kid — he has his reasons for doing what he’s doing. If you got to face that bastard in court, you’d present your side of what happened — describing a crime victim’s point of view. They were living their life quite happily until the criminal who victimized them entered the picture. What valid point — what reason — might this criminal have for doing what they did? As valid points go, this is a null set.
Donald Trump has his point of view. Does Donald Trump have any sort of “point”? We could ask the same question about Vladimir Putin but we’ll get a very different answer. Of course Putin has his point of view. But, Putin also has a point. We may not agree with his point — the restoration of “Greater Russia” and the diminishment of American power and liberal democracy — but Putin has one. He’s even stated that point out loud. That he resorts to nefarious means to achieve his points? It’s part of his larger point. Trump isn’t trying to achieve anything other than his own enrichment and staying out of prison.
“Both sides do it” brand journalism — in love with its own false neutrality — credits every argument with being valid just because the people arguing it say so. This was how we got years of talking heads segments on the cable news networks where climate scientists and climate science deniers were pitted against each other. In those segments, the climate scientist would sit on one side — taking up 50% of the screen — while the climate science denier took up the other 50% of the screen. In the visual language — which we all now understand because visual information flows at us constantly — that means the argument is between two equal points. Fifty-fifty. It’s up to the audience to decide who’s telling the truth and who’s being deceptive, between who’s right here and who’s wrong. The fact is, it’s NOT a fifty-fifty. The climate scientist has it 100% right while the denier has it 100% wrong. But a NEWS show is telling us (even if unintentionally) that bullshit could be true. It’s up to us.
Nothing good can come from news organizations refusing to call bullshit “bullshit”.
Anonymity exacerbates bullshit’s potency and the speed with which it spreads. “I heard that…” is how someone with bullshit in mind intends to put that bullshit into YOUR mind. It’s the tell that a pointless point of view is trying to weasel its way into the conversation.
Let’s stay in that room a few moments longer. A person the whole room TRUSTS has just entered and announced that he suspects their presidential nominee is OWNED by the head of state of a hostile foreign government. That really happened. Yet no one IN that room seemed surprised — or overly bothered by its sheer illegality. Or — worse yet — by the implications of nominating a person to the presidency who could be EVEN REMOTELY compromised by, of all countries, RUSSIA! Let’s assume (for argument’s sake) that everyone in the room understood just HOW illegal this would be. We’re talking treason. Stone cold treason. And yet, STILL, no one in the room objected to the direction they were all heading: toward nominating a foreign intelligence asset to be president. What could possibly cause people to go there? This isn’t just some cold political calculation, this is crawling into bed and snuggling up with a country we’ve been at war with (one way or another) for 100 years — ever since the Communists took control and turned Old Russia into the Soviet Union.
People who like authoritarians also like bullies. They have no use for democracy because democracy is entirely unpredictable while authoritarianism isn’t. They prefer leadership that tells rather than asks its constituency what’s going to happen. They prefer it that politicians pick their electorate rather than the other — proper — way around. Conservatism, by its nature, fosters bullying. Most of us exist in a world that, while aspiring to equality and equity and all those good things, fails considerably. We maintain those aspirations however; we demand them now. We won’t rest until the playing field is certifiably level. Conservatism on the other hand relies on the playing field remaining exactly as it is. THAT is what conservatism wants to conserve — the status quo — and the status quo favors white people over everyone else.
Bullies then are the status quo’s “enforcers”. While the rest of us recoil whenever we hear bullying, bullies hear a clarion call to bully more. If people are complaining about being bullied, that can only mean a bully is succeeding somewhere at his objective. By the same token, you really can’t bully people into progress. It’s too vague a target. Its goal is too antithetical to bullying; if you had to bully to get there, you can’t get there!
It’s like “cheating to win”. If you cheat to win, then by the rules, you did not “win”. How can one “win” without following the rules? This is an argument America needs to have with itself if it wants to remain a democratic republic. Either the rule of law is or it isn’t. We’ve experimented with following it half-way and we very nearly went under. We’re still in treacherous waters. Cheating cannot be just another “campaign tactic” that campaigns run when their ideas aren’t selling. The moment anyone steps outside the rules in order to win, both they and their “win” (if they succeeded in cheating) must be voided. The cheater’s win is wiped off the books, the cheater gets prosecuted and everyone who helped the cheater cheat gets punished as well and — like the cheater — banned from ever participating in an American election ever again (except as a voter so long as they’re not actively doing time).
But, our news media — always happy to oblige bullshit and give it maximum credence — insists that cheating to win IS just “another way to ‘win’ election” in America.
This simply cannot be. It’s a lie no country can live and survive — like saying “All men are created equal” out of one side of your mouth while bidding on slaves out the other side. Holding two contrary thoughts in your head is one thing. Having a country that tries to live them is, we keep learning, a recipe for disaster. It leads to Civil War. It leads to a country that STILL nurtures white supremacy even as it demonstrates the remarkable advantages and benefits of e pluribus unum. America’s exceptionalism — and it really does exist — is its diversity. Nowhere before among humans had a country formed (countries being relatively novel things) that, rather than being made up of one extensive national tribe was made up of ALL the various national tribes, all trying to make a go of it TOGETHER, not in their home countries but there — IN AMERICA. E pluribus unum — out of many, ONE.
In order to succeed as part of the many, one must be open-minded to who the “many” are and what each group’s particular habits are. This is not an exact science. There is no “book” on how to do it, we ARE the book. We’re writing it in real time. Because that’s how reality works.
Bullies don’t care for reality. Outside the schoolyard, justice lurks. The really talented bullies bring the schoolyard with them wherever they go. By sucking others into their schoolyard, they expand their schoolyard and thus their environment for bullying. To his credit, Trump has a remarkable ability to expand his schoolyard. Also to his credit, being a lesser bully, he recognizes that Vlad Putin is a class of bully he will never be. Ah, but a bully like Trump can dream, can’t he?
Trump didn’t just admire every dictator on the planet, he wanted to be them. As we’re now learning, toward the end of his presidency, Trump really and truly wanted to declare martial law. He wanted to use the military (which, oh, the irony, the Republicans have now turned on) to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. The ultimate act of bullying in a democratic society — the complete denial of the society’s right to govern itself. THEY will govern. They and their pals.
Bullies are especially good at screaming about being bullied when justice finally gets ahold of them.
This is something the bullied need to learn about bullies. They rely on our fairness. They count on our sympathy. Their goal is to NEVER take responsibility for what they’ve done — another kind of bullying. In the same way, rapists behave like rapists in everything they do. Inside their heads, they feel entitled to be anywhere they want — including inside your most personal space. Rapists are just bullies with their dicks in their hands. If they had any capacity to empathize, they would not be bullies to begin with. We cannot appeal to their humanity as they have none. What we can “appeal to” however is their wallet. Heartless and soulless as every racist is, their wallet pumps with vital “life blood” — money. Threaten even the hardiest racist’s wallet and he, too, will melt into a puddle of pure white Jello.
At that meeting a month before the GOP nominated Trump in 2016, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan corralled the room quickly. Whatever unease some might have felt at the prospect of a hostile foreign government having a viable hold on a future POTUS, they agreed with Ryan’s admonition for them all to keep this secret — that none of them questioned — a secret among them. “That’s how we know we’re family,” said SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE Paul Ryan.
Know what kind of “families” talk like that? Know what those families are “famous for”? Hint-hint: it starts with the letter “B”.
First and foremost, Mister Attorney General, can I say what a pleasure it is to finally call you our ATTORNEY GENERAL. Frankly, I’d rather we’d been calling you Supreme Court Justice Merrick Garland for years already, but that’s a conversation for another day — one where the GOP begins to realize the terrible, terrible mistake they made denying you so much as a hearing. You would have been far less dangerous to them all as Supreme Court Justice Garland than you will be as Attorney General Garland. This was a day some of us feared might never come. Joe Biden winning the presidency was key, of course. Nothing happens if Donald Trump manages to steal another presidential election. But, Americans showed up in such massive numbers in 2020, that even Donald Trump’s overtly criminal attempts to flip the election in advance failed. For four very long years, we watched Trump and a breath-takingly corrupt Republican Party literally get away with EVERYTHING. It sucked. Yes, it was unpleasant from a political perspective. But, despite the news media’s insistence that our hatred of Trump was entirely political, the fact is our hatred flowed from the feeling in our gut on election day that Trump “winning” the presidency was an illusion — the product of a massive criminal conspiracy that saw the Right Wing’s Money (the Kochs & the Mercers) find common purpose with Russia.
During your confirmation, Mr. Attorney General, you said that among your very first priorities upon becoming AG would be to fully investigate every aspect of the January 6 insurrection. I have no doubt you will do exactly that — in addition to addressing every other pressing concern. Hell, you probably don’t need me handing you a laundry list of things “to do”, but that’s just how it is in a democracy — We The People get to stick our noses into your business. The last occupant of the WH was unclear on that concept. Good thing you’re there now to begin cleaning up the mess that made.
THE JANUARY 6 INSURRECTION
It ain’t so much the foot soldiers that should concern us — though each and every one of them needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent the rule of law allows because they violated the law — as it is those who organized and coordinated them because they WERE organized and coordinated. The Proud Boys and Roger Stone are as tight as Roger’s Nixon tattoo is to Roger’s back.
In fact, on January 5, the day before the insurrection, Roger was hanging with the Proud Boys — they’re his personal bodyguards, don’tcha know! You don’t suppose the subject of what everyone was doing the next day came up a few times, do ya? Surely these pirates weren’t so silly as to communicate with each other about it… or were they that arrogant? I bet you already know the answer to that question, Mr. AG. And, if Roger Stone was involved (he IS that arrogant), he was doing it on Donald Trump’s behalf. And if you don’t think Roger and Donald talked about it, you haven’t been paying attention to this story. Our news media would be shocked by it, but not you, Mr. AG. Not you.
The deeper you dig into the insurrection’s back story, the more dots you connect, the clearer it will become that what happened at the Capitol on January 6 was hardly spontaneous. It was planned,, organized and paid for by the Trump White House, it’s intention the final coup de grace of the coup d’etat that Trump, the Republican Party and Russia pulled off together on Election Day 2016. But, Russia being Russia and its goals being what they are, it would hardly be surprising if Russia also had a hand in planning the insurrection — that Trump and company executed.
That would mean the insurrection wasn’t just seditious, it was genuinely treasonous too. Let’s not kid ourselves: we ARE at war. We’ve been under attack for at least four years, the unwitting victims of a cyber war. Just because Russia didn’t formally declare cyber war against us doesn’t mean they didn’t launch it — clearly they did! Let’s also not kid ourselves about what “war” is. Anyone who thinks you need bombs and bullets to win a war will lose every war they ever fight going forward. Russia could still shut down our power grid tomorrow. If they did that, we’d have to seriously consider suing for peace — on the wrong end of that surrender document. You can also think of us as being like the inhabitants of Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941 BEFORE the Japanese Imperial Navy arrived to actualize the declaration of war they’d made (to themselves apparently) several days before.
As the bombs rained down on Americans at Pearl Harbor, they must have been baffled as hell to find themselves in mortal peril on a lovely Sunday morning. Just because you don’t know you’re at war doesn’t mean you aren’t at war. Ask Poland how it feels to be surprise attacked by Germany or the Trojans by the Greeks.
I bet you’ll even find connected dots between the January 6 insurrection and Team Trump’s criminally inadequate pandemic response. But, remember, for Team Trump, the bottomest line was staying in power because of the legal consequences of losing power. Did anyone on Team Trump ever think “Hmmmmm… I bet an America weakened by the coronavirus would have a harder time defending itself from an authoritarian coup d’etat”? Did anyone think that “out loud” via a tweet, email or other social media?
If they did, add “their negligent pandemic response” to the list of evidence that literally everyone on Team Trump is a traitor.
2. MITCH MCCONNELL
Mitch needs to explain his relationship with Russia. He needs to explain WHY he refused to let We The People in on the little secret that Barack Obama wanted to share with us prior to election 2016 — that Russia was actively trying to make Donald Trump president. Mitch’s threat to accuse Obama of “politicizing the intelligence” was bullshit on steroids. Obama was doing nothing of the sort and Mitch knew it. Mitch was protecting the GOP’s Russia connections.
We need to know how much money Mitch took from Russia and how long that went on. Russia does not EVER give money without expecting something in return. We need to know what Mitch promised “in return”.
There’s one relationship in particular we need to deep dive into: Mitch’s & Oleg Deripaska’s. We know for a fact that, in the lead up to election 2016, Paul Manafort handed Konstantin Kilimnik proprietary polling data for four states: Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. We don’t know what, if anything, became of the Minnesota data but we do know that the work product Manafort handed Kilimnik — the goal, to get it into Deripaska’s hands — was turned over to Russian military intelligence who weaponized the data and created personalized ads (suggesting Hillary Clinton was a closet racist) that they put on the personal Facebook pages of Black voters in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
This is flat out illegal. We need to establish that fact and make it a permanent part of our thinking.
In fact, what Deripaska did was so illegal that we sanctioned him! We attacked him financially with great success — until Mitch lifted the sanctions. His reward? A $300 million aluminum factory in dirt poor western Kentucky. It’s swell and all that the Russian factory created jobs where there weren’t any, but this is bad in a thousand different ways. For starters, as Deripaska now controls a big piece of western KY’s economy, he can also exert pressure upon the politicians who’ll rely on Deripaska’s largesse to remain in office.
Not only did Mitch betray America in the past and present, he’s arranged to betray us in the future too.
May I suggest you look into it? Thans!
3. KEVIN McCARTHY & THE REST OF THE GOP LEADERSHIP
A month before nominating Donald Trump as president, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of GOP leadership. Upon entering, McCarthy said (out loud) “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” Had the GOP an honest bone in their collective bodies, the correct answer would have been “What? Kevin — why do you think that? Holy shit, someone — get the freakin’ FBI on the phone! Houston, we have a problem here!” But, no one in that room of GOP leaders said any such thing. Instead, they bent to then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s will and agreed NOT to speak of it outside the room. As Ryan put it, by keeping mum about it, that’s how they’d all know they were “family”.
You know, a CRIME family?
Everyone within earshot of Kevin McCarthy’s claim must be interviewed under oath. We need to know — did THEY suspect the same thing? If they did, why didn’t they call the FBI themselves already?
I know I don’t have to explain to you how conspiracy works: “See something, SAY something; see something say nothing? Why?” One does not have to be actively engaged in the conspiracy to get swept up into it. Even suspecting — and not doing anything about your suspicions — puts you in the legal system’s cross hairs. We need to know WHY no one in GOP leadership said anything. WHO were they protecting (and, again, WHY?)
4. BILL BARR
Why would an Attorney General (of all people) lie relentlessly about his department, his department’s work, employees, work product and intentions?
Trump-Russia was not Bill Barr’s first go-around at the “Clean Up Republican Mess on All Aisles” rodeo. He did the exact same thing during the Iran-Contra fiasco, making what should have been prosecutable corruption disappear into the fog of “let bygones be bygones”.
Bar lied about the Mueller Report. He personally interceded repeatedly to interfere with legitimate criminal investigations into Trump, his family and his associates. Why?
BONUS INVESTIGATION: Rod Rosenstein. We need to know WHY Rod told Team Mueller “don’t bother with the counter-intelligence investigation into Trump, the FBI’s got that!” and the FBI “don’t bother with the counter intelligence investigation, Team Mueller’s all over it!” Why did Rod Rosenstein kill the investigation into Trump’s complicity with Russia?
5. THE ENTIRE TRUMP FAMILY
Do bears shit in the woods? The Trump family is a living, breathing pile of bear shit. That’s probably deeply unfair to bear shit; I apologize.
At this point, I’d even open a file on Barron Trump. Sorry, but the kid’s got Trump blood in him. That’s going to warp a person though, to be fair, Mary Trump has Trump blood in her and her humanity and integrity survived. Barron may be too close to the source however; Mary is the daughter of Donald’s older brother Fred, Jr — very much the less greedy black sheep in the greedy-as-hell Trump clan.
Tiffany may be unconnected to the worst of it, but, “see something, say something”. She knows what she knows, suspects what she suspects. She didn’t pick up a phone. Book her.
Finally, there’s Ivanka — the feckless cherry atop the corrupt, treasonous Trump empire. How much money did Ivanka make last year? A shitload. Every dollar of it better be legal, know what I’m saying? We also need to understand how deeply Ivanka is connected to the Russian hub. Even before Trump was POTUS, Ivanka was friends with likely Russian intelligence asset Wendi Deng, former wife of Rupert Murdoch.
BONUS INVESTIGATION — JARED KUSHNER.
Jared, as I’m sure you’ve already assessed, is a whole inquiry unto himself. Light that match, please. Let it burn.
6. DONALD TRUMP
Undo this knot — right at the center of everything — and the whole corrupt construct will crash to the ground. The fact that Trump has avoided prosecution his entire life needs to change now. You know that. The fact that Trump avoided prosecution while POTUS because of that silly DoJ “rule” — this, too, must be addressed. That rule needs to go the hell away. You know that, too.
How far back does Trump’s relationship with Russia go? We need to know everything. And we will.
Here is where your integrity will most come into play. Nothing about these prosecutions can be or should be political. We need to apply not just the letter of the rule of law, but its spirit. We may have to go a little bit outside the box to actually do that, but these are extraordinary times; extraordinary measures are required. We can’t allow the rule of law to be the cause of its own undoing (because one side felt compelled to follow it while the other felt no compunction about violating it even to the point of completely destroying it). The rule of law can’t defend itself. It needs us to do that for it.
Your investigations will, at the end of the day, reveal a treasonous criminal conspiracy involving one of our two political parties. While “White Guy’s Rules” might dictate that we let it slide, the rule of law says otherwise. If the GOP deliberately set out to steal the actual result of election 2016 (they did), then we need to see that fact not as a vile political act (which it was) but as a CRIMINAL act demanding harsh punishment. If the GOP in fact conspired with Russia (they did), that, too, must be understood for what it is. There must be consequences — for Russia and for the stolen result. How can Russia “win” an American election (especially if its winning is flat out ILLEGAL? Hint: it can’t. How can a thieving Republican Party be permitted to keep election results it did not earn? How can they be allowed to hold onto judges their president never had the authority to nominate BECAUSE HE WAS NEVER LEGITIMATELY PRESIDENT?
The authority to govern doesn’t fall from the sky. It isn’t given to American leaders by a deity who thinks the sun shines out their asses. It flows from us — We The People. We grant that authority to those who legitimately win the elections in which we vote for them. If you didn’t win legitimately, you did not acquire that authority legitimately. Cheating to win cannot be “one way to ‘win’.” It can’t be. So — if the GOP cheated in any way, shape or form to win the 2016 election, then by definition they did not “win”.
Having the Department of Justice back in the hands of Justice will cause the earth to shift beneath America’s feet — but, finally, in a good way. There’s a lot of pressure on you, AG Garland, to “rescue us”. Indeed, your mandate is as much to deal with the past — and all the criminal conspiracy — as the future: virtually every bit of Republican voter suppression legislation violates the rights of American voters.
On the one hand, it’s going to be hard work being you for the next four years. On the other though, I think you’ve been waiting for this moment your entire life. Just as Joe Biden, it turns out, was exactly the right man for the moment, you, too, will achieve a kind of time & place perfection. You would still make a great SCOTUS judge. Let’s stick a pin in that.
For the moment, there’s more than enough on your plate.
Donald Trump, true to his “Project-Everything-I’m-Guilty-Of-Onto-The-World” self, began projecting his own illegitimacy early in his presidency. The late Congressman John Lewis, a man who understood intrinsically what courage was, was the first member of Official Washington to state what everyone felt about Trump’s surprise victory — especially his remarkable win — by a total of 77,000 votes collectively — that delivered Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Electoral College votes to Trump (0.057 percent of total voters cost Clinton the presidency). Fact: if Trump’s win had been legit, he’d have been one hundred percent behind an investigation because he KNEW his win would have been verified. But, Trump knew any investigation into how exactly he became POTUS would end with him going to prison forever: because TREASON.
Some things just seem obvious — or they should. Commit treason in order to become president? You are NOT president. Just break the law to become POTUS and you should be disallowed from being POTUS because that’s how the rule of law is supposed to work — ditto the Constitution. But, of course, in America, we’ve lived by two sets of rules from the get-go — one for white people and another for everyone else. That’s about to change. As we help the rule of law back onto its feet, we need to make damned sure we apply it EQUALLY this time. One of the reasons it failed so spectacularly is our inability to execute it. That’s not on the rule of law, it’s on us. WE need to do better. I have faith we will.
And one of the FIRST ways we can prove we’re doing better is by APPLYING the rule of law — finally and firmly — to Donald John Trump.
The nature of our representative democracy is that rather than take active part in governing ourselves, we elect other people to do that for us. The understand is simple: if we elect you, we grant you the authority to work on our behalf. So long as that authority is legitimate, whatever you do theoretically has our blessing. But, if Donald Trump used Russia to gain the White House — which he most certainly did — right in front of us (“Russia, if you’re listening!”). Just because a guy commits a crime in broad daylight, that doesn’t make it any less of a crime.
We’re not going to debate the Mueller Report. Anyone who’s bothered to actually read it knows what it says. In the very narrow slice of the larger crime Trump committed — the thing Team Mueller was allowed to investigate — Team Mueller could not assert with enough certainty to convict in a court of law whether or not Team Trump had conspired with Wikileaks and Julian Assange to undermine the integrity of election 2016 because of so much obstruction of justice. The obstruction of justice, they felt, was real and very criminal. Team Mueller fretted about that Department of Justice rule — created to block Spiro Agnew pardoning Richard Nixon during Watergate — that said a sitting POTUS could not be indicted. Though the rule wasn’t meant to apply to Trump — no one imagined a POTUS as thoroughly corrupt as Trump — Team Mueller allowed the rule’s letter to win out over its spirit. Corruption beat truth and justice mostly because white people seem to hate prosecuting other white people for crimes they’d happily prosecute anyone else for committing.
See what happens when you screw with the rule of law and how you apply it?
We need to keep reminding ourselves: the rule of law is a fiction we invented so as to better self-govern. We made it up. It’s just a bunch of words that articulate an idea — a great idea — that should transcend our occasional inability to get the words right. We have to be more protective of any law’s spirit than how it got written. Trust me here — this country’s founders did NOT intend for a treasonous president to pardon his way out of legal peril. Trump is exactly the kind of demagogue the country’s founders most feared — and yet, here we are indulging that demagogue, his followers — and even his treason.
I repeat: one cannot commit TREASON in order to become POTUS. It may not be written that way in any of our laws, but it IS the spirit of the law. You can’t betray us in order to govern us.
Questions about Trump’s legitimacy scare the Republican Party even more than it scares Trump. Trump’s problem is prison for the rest of his life. Hey — that’s the GOP’s problem now, too. But they also fear losing political power — and never ever getting it back. The craven lust for political power, born of “white man’s greed” — that’s what causes Republican hearts to beat like a Sousa march. Ah, but the terrible concessions to self respect one must make to answer that craven lust…
I bet Lindsey Graham is just aching to stop being Trump’s bitch. I bet Lindsey would be more relieved than anyone to finally confess to every terrible thing he’s done. Yeah, prison won’t be fun — and Lindsey will spend the rest of his life in federal lock up — but, you can see the exhaustion in Lindsey’s red-rimmed eyes every time he gets in front of the cameras. He may not sleep comfortably in his prison cell (neither the mattress nor the thread count of his sheets will be what he’s used to), but he’ll sleep better than now.
Mitch McConnell, too, dreads a legitimate investigation into all HIS illegitimate activities. Mitch needs to explain — under oath — his relationship w Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska, you see, is HOW Trump “won” Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, taking the EC. During the 2016, Paul Manafort — then Trump’s campaign manager — famously handed Konstantin Kilimnik proprietary polling data for those three states plus Minnesota.
Manafort wanted Kilimnik to pass the polling data to Deripaska — an “associate” of his. Manafort’s problem was he owed Deripaska money — $17 million and was afraid of what Deripaska might do to him. Manafort hoped that by 1) becoming Trump’s campaign manager and 2) providing the proprietary polling data, he might cancel that debt and get himself out of peril. That’s just a hint at what that polling data was worth to Kilimnik, to Deripaska, to Vladimir Putin and to Russia. Kilimnik was known as being GRU — Russian military intelligence. Same goes for Deripaska. Both are oligarchs — and, in Russia, you don’t get to be or stay an oligarch without Putin’s explicit okay. Putin, let’s not forget, isn’t just the Russian head of state, he’s one of the biggest criminals on the planet.
If we took Putin and Russia’s direct impact on the 2016 out of the equation, Donald Trump would never have gotten through the primaries. But Russia was behind Trump and pretty much every single Republican knew it. They chose to “keep it in the family”.
So — not only is Trump’s entire presidency illegitimate, so is the Republican Party’s response to Trump’s illegitimacy. They deliberately covered it up — benefitted from the illegitimacy — then tried to make that illegitimacy permanent. THAT evolved into the point of the exercise. No one — Trump included — expected Trump to win. Trump did not want to win, in fact; he was so certain he’d lose — needed it to happen so badly that he promised Melania he would lose. That’s what she was expecting.
That’s what most everyone was expecting. Oh, the things we’ll learn. The Comey Letter’s impact on the election was significant: it closed the polling gap between Clinton and Trump to within the margin of error in places like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. And the Comey Letter itself — let’s remind ourselves — was caused by Rudy Giuliani, Jason Chaffee and the rogue New York City FBI office threatening to spew all sorts of nonsense they’d read in Clinton Cash, a book as truthful as the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion. Comey had been asking the NYC FBI office about the notebook computer with the mysterious, possibly new Clinton emails (they were copies of old) for MONTHS but the rogue FBI agents — collaborating with Rudy Giuliani — refused to answer Comey’s question until late October — when they suddenly announced “We don’t KNOW about these emails — they COULD be new.”
Horse shit. The goal was “make noise”, distract, disillusion — on multiple fronts at the very same time.
Keep in mind — part of that relentless thump-thump-thump was directed at Black voters in those three states. That proprietary polling data? It showed up on their personal Facebook pages as ads directed directly at them that implied Hillary Clinton was a closet racist. The goal wasn’t to flip those votes, it was to suppress them — lie them into staying home election day instead of voting. Considering all the illegality surrounding it, every single suppressed vote is a crime against an individual voter and our system as a whole.
Once the race got close enough — brought there via the Comey Letter’s false premise of more dirt on Clinton and the constant thump-thump-thump of Russian propaganda filtered through Wikileaks and our own useful idiot news media — voting machine manipulation became an option. As we’ll eventually learn from what happened in 2020, if one has access to internet-connected electronic voting machines (because companies like ES&S and Diebold are owned by Republicans who donate heavily to Republicans and on whose boards of directors sit nothing but Republicans), one does not FLIP votes — that’s too risky! While it’s damned hard to verify an electronic machine that leaves no paper trail, it’s damned easy to pad vote totals without anyone catching on. Just for reference, as of 2019 ES&S claimed a U.S. market share of more than 60 percent in customer voting system installations. That’s a lot of the country that votes on machines with zero accountability.
You’d need three co-conspirators max. You need the guy running ES&S to open the back door every single machine has.
You’d need the guy writing the computer code that will enter voting machine or tabulator via that back door having gotten there via internet connectivity. The code says simply something like “For ever ten Republican votes, add one”. So, every ten Republican votes now becomes eleven. Twenty becomes twenty-two, thirty becomes thirty-three and so on. The machines have added ten percent. If you didn’t go back and compare the number of votes to the number of voters in order to see the discrepancy, you’d probably never find it. In this case, everyone would simply accept that Republican result — where they got a ten percent bump. If the race in question was within the margin of error, that ten percent bump could give an otherwise losing candidate the win.
The last co-conspirator would be the politician pulling the trigger on such a theft of the voters’ intent. Plenty of journalists are beginning to wonder if Mitch McConnell is just such a politician. On paper, Mitch shouldn’t be able to get elected turtle catcher in Kentucky yet there he is — unbeatable (in a state with more registered Democrats than Republicans!) Want to know why it doesn’t seem to add up? Because it doesn’t.
In the case of 2016, all one would have need to have done was send code like that to far flung voting machines in the hinterlands of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Vote totals in the cities, they hoped, were already dinged by propaganda. By now adding just enough votes electronically (hoping ya got the percentages right), one could close a seemingly impossible deal, capturing three blue states for candidate red. It was all done illegally — with full on criminal intent — the only question is will We The People ever get to ask it.
Well, now, we are getting to ask it.
If the answer comes back “Trump was elected illegitimately via illegal means and as an act of treason, then we will have two possible paths to travel. Path One — we do nothing. We shrug our shoulders and say “We’ll do better next time, we hope”. We literally allow a traitor to pardon his own treason — making it crystal clear: want to betray America? Run for president — and get away with it! Any country that lets that happen to them won’t be a country for very much longer.
If Trump had run in one of his bullshit beauty pageants and they’d learned that the winner had bamboozled them all? Do you really think the phony would get to keep her title, her crown, her loot? Of course she wouldn’t! Same goes for a guy who steals your car. Just because he’s sitting in it outside your house at three a.m., honking the horn, that doesn’t make him the car’s owner. And when we catch up to him? He won’t get to keep the car. If it’s still in one piece, he’ll have to give it back. The rule of law never lets thieves keep what they stole after they’ve been caught. The rule of law doesn’t let murderers get away with murder, polluters get away with polluting or traitors get away with betraying us. We may do that to ourselves, the rule of law does not.
It’s just a stone cold fact — Donald Trump NEVER had the legitimate authority that flows from We The People and, sociopath that he is, Donald Trump recognized that fact himself. He said as much out loud repeatedly.
Since he never had the authority vested in him, he didn’t have the authority or right to nominate a single judge, SCOTUS judges included. Throw in the deliberate intent behind Mitch McConnell’s blocking of most every Obama judicial nominee. Not allowing Merrick Garland so much as a hearing might not have been technically illegal, when re-framed from the perspective of McConnell’s treasonous relationship w Oleg Deripaska and Konstantin Kilimnik, the connected dots make Mitch’s intent look a lot more sinister. Mitch and the GOP want permanent minority rule. While they’d made great strides to get there prior to Trump’s presidency, Trump presented not just the darkly charismatic figurehead they needed, he also provided a partner in crime who, the Republicans now realized, had already seduced them into useful idiot-hood.
They’d all, like Rohrbacher, taken copious amounts of money from Russia. That money was not “free”. As most money does, it came with strings. More like rope actually. The Russians wanted something for their investment. When Trump sewed up the Republican nomination, Russia became the central driver of all things Republican, all things Trump.
If we do this right — and we’d be insane to do it otherwise — literally everything Trump did gets voided. All those judges? They’re gone. They have to be — Trump never had the authority to nominate them. That goes for EVERY judge Trump nominated, his three SCOTUS judges included. In point of fact, the authority to nominate those three judges belonged to Hillary Clinton, the rightful winner of the 2016 election.
The crime victim here, ya see, is We The People. Our CHOICE was stolen from us in 2016. When we elected Hillary by more than three million popular votes (and, minus all the criminality via the EC, too), we gave her the authority to create legislation and nominate judges whose values reflected ours. We did NOT give Trump any such authority. He TOOK IT. He STOLE IT. And then, like a car thief, he drove around in it, speeding, recklessly changing lanes and tossing garbage out the window.
The Good Cops will be back in power starting tomorrow. Merrick Garland — the moderate judge Obama chose for SCOTUS who Mitch wouldn’t even give a hearing to — will take over at the DoJ. Oh, the irony… Merrick Garland will be the guy who brings Mitch McConnell down. And then the entire GOP. These are not brave people. They’re all criminal co-conspirators. It won’t take more than a few gentle tugs on this ugly-as-sin, corrupt Christmas sweater for it to completely fall apart. It’s that ugly, it’s that badly made.
And, like any badly made sweater that we did not want, we should return it from whence it came. Return to sender. Forget you ever knew us.
I don’t recall any movie doing this before Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” did it — that climax where the family gets back into the game with one, bold strike at all their enemies at once. In this case Michael Corleone’s gutsy move forces the other five families — shocked by the tactical balls, precision and lethality — to more or less sue for peace. Coppola repeats it more or less in “Godfather II”. Different characters getting whacked but it’s the same idea. What differentiates the lightning strike in G2 from the one in G1 is where Michael is in his own trajectory. At the end of “Godfather II”, Michael is losing it. Even his justified decisions — having Fredo killed — feel wrong.
What has the past four years of the Trump presidency been if not a mob movie? An awful one — written by hyperkinetic hacks hopped up on powdered Adderall, sniffed from a male hooker’s ass cheek. Literally everyone in the cast is corrupt. Everyone deserves whatever happens to them.
There’s not a single player — not a one — who isn’t corrupt. That’s not to say they can’t redeemed. Michael Cohen seems to have found his soul somewhere in his prison dinner succotash. A few others — Anthony Scaramuchi, Omarosa Anagault Newman, Olivia Troye, Mary Trump — have removed themselves from the environment and worked hard to build their “found our souls too!” bona fides.
Pretty much everyone else — everyone IN and around the Trump administration — every Congressperson (especially those who signed up for the “Club Sedition” Texas Lawsuit) — know exactly what’s going on here and has almost from the beginning.
Some of the lawmakers laughed at McCarthy’s comment. Then McCarthy quickly added: “Swear to God.”
Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
The remarks remained secret for nearly a year.
These criminals knew — back then — what was going on. They did not expect to win. That (I bet we’ll learn) was the surprise Russia pulled on every one of them. And, they probably figured, once they were traitors for a penny, they might as well be traitors for a pound. And, being pigs at a trough by nature, they went all in.
One of the first things the rejuvenated Department of Justice will do is blow up its “consigliere to the most corrupt president ever” shingle and hang out the Justice shingle the Trumpanistas took down like vampires getting rid of a mirror. Few, if any, pundits seem to grasp that fact. The corrupt Trump DoJ will absolutely end and a DoJ aching to demonstrate how credible and devoted to justice it is will emerge. That won’t be good for anyone in TrumpWorld.
That’s why the Republicans are doing everything they can think of to deny that Trump lost the election and come January 20, 2021, will cease to have the authority that flows from We The People to do ANYTHING — including BE at the White House. What’s worse for Trump, he KNOWS for a fact that he will go from being “Unindicted Co-Conspirator #1” in the Michael Cohen trial to “INDICTED Co-Conspirator”. And, with that, a tidal wave of legal woe will obliterate Trump.
All the investigations into Trump, his corruption, his treason that Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein successfully killed are about to come back to life. Like a zombie craving flesh, justice will come for Donald Trump — and it won’t stop until it’s gobbled up and spit out every Trumpanista. At long, long last Trump will PAY for the money laundering that bankrupted his Atlantic City casinos. It was that laundering of Russian mob money, by the way, that convinced Fusion GPS — then doing oppo research on Trump on behalf of the Washington Free Beacon — that Trump was likely a criminal. That’s why they hired Chris Steele (former dean of Britain’s MI6 famed Russia Desk).
We thought the mess Barrack Obama and Joe Biden inherited from W was bad. That, it turns out, was less than nothing. The Biden-Harris team have a far bigger, deeper, nastier, more onerous problem to solve.
Trump’s criminal mis-handling of the pandemic response is distracting us from Trump’s criminal involvement with Russia. Or, is that the point? Trump sees distraction the way a pitmaster sees a steak.
Russia won’t have been the only game Trump was playing, it will just be the most consequential one.
For four years, some of us have dreamed of Trump being led from the White House in handcuffs. Hell, I want him to struggle a bit so it gets awkward for him when they shove him to the ground and he cries. That was a pipe dream up until now. Good thing, Trump has made it impossible for us to NOT prosecute him. That’s how rotten Trump is.
The opening frames of the Biden-Harris movie — as the curse that’s bedeviled America finally dissipates — should be filled with competent, capable public servants filling the the blank spaces TrumpWorld deliberately created. Just like that — investigations are launched. Subpoenas are written and delivered — subpoenas with teeth. Answer or sit your ass in jail while paying a hefty fine. People accustomed to getting away with literally everything suddenly find themselves being pursued relentlessly.
In place of bodies dropping, bring the subpoenas. In place of hits, let’s have questioning — under oath for hours on end, Benghazi-style.
In place of Michael and Kay’s baby being baptized (while all the mayhem goes on), let’s have America experiencing a renewal — and improvement upon the ideals on which the country was founded.
Whichever, don’t forget: leave the gun, take the canolis.
The “Ragin’ Cajun”, James Carville, coined “(It’s) The economy, stupid!” during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Why would people vote one way(for Bill Clinton) vs the other (for GW Bush)? Back then, in those heady, carefree days (relatively speaking), the economy was our biggest, baddest problem. Oh, the luxury of only having to deal with one mega-crisis at a time! Nowadays — in Donald Trump’s America, every day brings a whole new mega-crisis. Or it seems to. If we’d just pull the lens back as far as we can so we could see Donald Trump, the GOP, election 2016 and election 2020 with the widest possible perspective — we’d see that, really, just like in 1992, we’re only facing ONE mega-crisis: Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party was the GOP’s final and total surrender to the corruption that’s been stalking it… well, forever.
The Republican Party prides itself on being the Big Money Party. Anyone in class today who thinks money doesn’t corrupt? Anyone who doesn’t think that the more money there is the more likely corruption there is? Good. Everyone’s a realist then. That helps.
Politicians and the money that owns them rely on corruption to have their way because relying on the majority of voters to vote for their ideas is pointless. The majority of Americans want the OPPPOSITE of what corrupt Republicans want. That’s why the majority voted the way it did in 2016 and 2020. Let’s stop pretending that the Electoral College reflects anything other than how slavery would vote. In 2016, the Republican Party managed to use both slavery’s vote and a silent vote from Russia to overcome the majority’s will. When you factor in the fact that Russia is and has been waging CYBER WAR against us, you can only conclude that Republicans were SO desperate to win that they even resorted to TREASON.
We The People felt corruption’s grip on us the instant 2016 was called for Trump. Democrats felt (rightfully) cheated of the result THEY’D WON in 2000 when Antonin Scalia stepped in and STOPPED the vote counting in Florida, crafting a mountain of bullshit into an argument that completely contradicted the very originalism he’s been selling from the trunk of his car like hot merchandise. Bush v Gore is the picture portrait of bullshit. Al Gore didn’t concede because he thought he lost to W. He conceded for the good of the country.
In retrospect, OY!
Corruption got us again. It caused us to make a terrible decision; we chose appeasement. Compromise. But, while WE compromised with corruption, corruption did not compromise with us. It simply caused us to NORMALIZE that much more corruption. It caused us to grow that much more cynical about ourselves and our democracy. Want to know why so many Americans went into the streets the moment it became a fact that Joe Biden was President-Elect? Because we’re sick to death of Donald Trump and the corruption he imposed onto our lives.
Remember: we did not vote for Trump. We voted against him. We voted against what he’s doing to us, to our Allies, to the planet.
Our news media needs to stop framing the Donald Trump story from corruption’s point of view as if corruption was just “another way of doing business”. It’s only “another way” if we let it be. If we put our collective foot down every time corruption reared its ugly head, corruption would quickly learn — don’t rear your ugly head (it could get stepped on)! But, when you indulge the boy who cries wolf every time he falsely cries wolf (without ever making him pay a price for doing it), he will cry wolf every chance he gets. If our news media would stop giving credence to the boy crying wolf — if they’d see him for what he is (a fraud) — maybe they’d turn their attention to more important parts of the story.
Even crappy reality shows like Donald Trump presidency live and die on the success of their casting choices. And no one has been more “sensitive” to how important casting is to the success of his reality show than Donald Trump. Trump knows that it takes a criminal to play a criminal; actors can only ever pretend. That’s why Trump casts his family, his “friends”, his cronies, the people under his thumb. He knows they know how to “be” corrupt and treasonous without having to pretend. And when it comes to crazy people? Well, you HAVE TO BE crazy to support Donald Trump.
Crazy or corrupt. And both demand a deep dedication to authenticity to effectively pull them off. Good thing Trump’s rolodex is chock-a-block with both crazy AND corrupt.
With that dedication to authenticity in mind — and with little else to do during the transition except make the bad situation he created for America even worse — Team Trump has staged their own production of Ken Kesey’s classic “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. Because crazy people love crazy people.
First up — the lead — Randall P. McMurphy — the character inhabited by Jack Nicholson (rather than the other way around)…
Since he “alone can fix it” (having broken it irreparably first), Trump has taken the star role for himself. Thing is, Trump will get bored and lose focus about ten seconds after the curtain goes up. Just to get through the table read, we’re going to need a few “back up” McMurphy’s. Good thing that pantry is stocked to its rafters.
Also in the running for McMurphy (in no particular order) —
James Woods as McMurphy…
Or, Jon Voight as McMurphy…
Or Dennis Quaid as McMurphy…
Now, I know there are some who’d think “No, wait — if we want crazy playing crazy then the crazy brother is RANDY QUAID…
Ah, but here’s where Trump’s genius for keeping us on our toes comes into play. Randy Quaid gets cast as BILLY BIBBET (played by the excellent Brad Dourif in the feature)!
Same kind of “stunt casting” goes for the role of Chief Bromden (Will Sampson in the movie) —
This is a radical departure. In fact, it’s nuts. That’s why it works! Gary Busey plays the Chief!
The rest of the crazies on the ward —
— will be played by a rotating cast of has-beens, never-wassers and talentless fellow travelers — Stephen Baldwin, Stacey Dash and Anthony Sabato, Jr…
That leaves one actor as yet uncast (Scott Baio) and one part uncast.
What makes Barack Obama a superb leader (his approval rating’s 58%) — regardless of whether you liked or like his policies — is his limitless capacity to inspire those all around him to do better, be better. Not because Big Brother was compelling you to — for Big Brother’s benefit — but because being the best you could be would make your life better as well as everyone else’s. We v Me. What gave Donald Trump away as the worst possible kind of “leader” was his apparent belief that “I alone can fix it”. As the British half of my family would say: “BOLLOCKS!”
“I alone can fix it” is something only a delusional male would say. Same goes for the idea of the “rugged individualist”. Those are little boys who equate their refusal to color inside the lines with entrepreneurial spirit when, really, they’re just little boys who don’t know how to color. On a team, they’re the question mark — sure, they have a skill set, but will they feel like using it on the day we really need them? Libertarianism is so self-congratulatory, it’s a wonder libertarians can talk about anything else. They’re all mole rats convinced they’re eating caviar when, in fact, they’re feeding on the rot inside their own corrupt intestines.
I’ve been lucky in my show biz career. Damned lucky. Before I took my best shot at undoing all that luck, I got to work with extraordinary people. When I ran “Tales From The Crypt” for HBO, among my Executive Producers was Robert Zemeckis. Bob’s features include “Back To The Future”, “Forrest Gump”, “Castaway”, “Contact”, “Flight”. I wrote two of the three episodes Bob directed for “Crypt”. Watching Bob work — his process — was a master class in leadership.
First, Bob challenges with “the cool idea”. What if we could do “this” — “this” being something we’ve never seen before? Yeah, we all agree, that would be cool, but the problem is, it’s un-doable. “Oh, is it?” asks Bob with a smile. Bob has a way to get there. He’ll reveal it eventually. But, first, he wants to see how we might solve it — knowing there’s a possible solution. His goal — see what we might contribute to what he’s thinking. We can’t hurt what he’s got in mind, but we can definitely add to it. Ideas flood the floor — good, bad, indifferent. It doesn’t matter. Everyone in the creative team is invested and investing in finding that solution.
And then — as we (feel like we’re) collectively solving the problem — the problem gets solved. And we feel like we did it together! The truth is, Bob guided us all along. We don’t know where Bob’s idea ended and ours began. We solved the problem, not me. The environment was entirely nurturing.
Again: We v Me.
Making movies and TV shows is a crap shoot. Aspirations to greatness don’t always produce box office boffo results. How’s that old saw go — “It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game”. Yeah — THAT. In almost every project Bob Z does, there’s a moment where Bob gathered the creative team all around him and told them what he had in mind. The idea was awesome. “Okay, guys,” Bob said, as he looked from eye to eye, “How’re we gonna do this?”
Joe Biden — regardless of whether he’s progressive enough for you (and he isn’t progressive enough for me but I do see him as a means to the end I want) — has been and will be a good leader because he draws on those same leadership skills. To him, a big part of leadership is LISTENING.
I’ll say it again: LISTENING. Leadership = Listening.
If you can’t listen, you can’t lead. Even if you’re a pirate by nature, surely you see that listening to your crew — even if only occasionally — could work out to your advantage. Donald Trump can’t even manage that because “he alone can fix it”.
Oooh, wait. I think I see our problem. We’ve misunderstood how Donald means “fix”. When HE says “he alone can ‘fix’ it”, he means “fix” the way a criminal does.
I may be talking myself out of my own argument here… If Donald means he alone can make everyone around him more of a criminal, then he’s absolutely right! To enter Trump’s sphere is to criminalize yourself. If you won’t compromise yourself (provided you haven’t already), you don’t get to play or stay in Trump’s world. Donald Trump is great at turning people into criminals! I may not like how that’s transforming people, but — in his own way, isn’t Trump making these otherwise mediocre Republicans “better”?
Hmmmmm… No. Even in criminal world, the REAL criminals — the Vlad Putins, the Kims, the MbS’s — see Donald Trump as a piker. He’s just a greed machine and a garden variety bully. He couldn’t kill anyone — for real — in cold blood. He’s too much of a wuss. He’ll throw money at someone — tell them to get blood on their hands. Even among criminals, that ain’t “leadership”.
Donald may be a black hole of corruption, but he’s not a super nova black hole of corruption. He’s simply not good enough.
Whew! That’s a relief. For a second there, I almost had to admit Donald Trump was good at something — as if he could “lead” in it.
It’s a stone cold fact: Donald Trump — alone — can’t fix OR LEAD anything.
There’s corruption, there’s Republican corruption and then there’s Trumpian corruption. America has experienced the first two. It’s the Trumpian corruption for which we have no precedent. That fact has befuddled America’s news media from the get-go. But then, befuddlement was a natural outgrowth of thinking (and reporting) that “both sides do it”.
Nietsche warned “stare into the abyss long enough and the abyss will stare into you”. The same can be said about bullshit. Stare at bullshit long enough and you will become the bullshit. That’s the disease now ailing our news media. They’ve consumed so much bullshit that they can’t discern reality anymore. That’s why they regularly equate bullshit with the truth.
Since “both sides do it”, bullshit “could” be true since one side insists that it is. The news media can’t get it into its head — everyone’s entitled to their own opinion; they are NOT entitled to their own facts. The news media has confused the two in its own head. If Donald Trump says “Mexicans are rapists” or that it’s acceptable for a rich, white man to grab women by their pussies, then “maybe” it “could” be so.
Right off the bat — there’s no precedent for that: there’s no precedent for an American running for president (who isn’t named George Wallace) to be so blatantly racist, misogynist and bigoted.
But then, there’s no precedent for an impeached POTUS running for office again — while still committing the very criminal acts for which HE WAS IMPEACHED.
There’s no precedent for a POTUS or his party to wipe their asses with the rule of law and the Constitution. There’s no precedent for the level of corruption and self-dealing that permeates Trump’s cabinet. There’s no precedent for a POTUS profiting every single day and in myriad ways just because he’s POTUS. There’s no precedent for a POTUS filling the topmost levels of govt with his family members.
There was no precedent for Mitch McConnell denying Merrick Garland a hearing — or refusing to fill hundreds of lifetime federal court appointments because he was hellbent on hijacking the judiciary. There is no precedent for Russia passing so much money through so many hidden avenues to so many Republicans.
There’s no precedent for an American running for office to openly implore a hostile foreign government to help him.
There’s no precedent for an Attorney General doing everything humanly possible to destroy the Justice Department. Or a Secretary of Education doing everything possible to undermine education.
There’s no precedent for lying on the scale Donald Trump has lied on. That all by itself should tell us everything we need to know.
Fact: Donald Trump has always been corrupt and everyone knows it.
Republicans have spent generations lusting for power because they feared losing it forever. The trick — how to grab it and get away with it. Donald Trump — and his Russian friend — gave the Kochs, Mercers & McConnells a partner-in-crime with both the will and the stones to attack American Democracy right at its beating heart: elections. The Republicans pulled off a soft coup d’etat in plain sight. They stole an election out from under not just Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party but out from under We The People.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of precedent for Republicans gaming elections or stealing them outright. Where they’ve taken their criminality to a bold, new height here is through their total commitment TO that criminality. The GOP has stopped being 1) a good actor, 2) compliant in any way, shape or form with the rule of law, 3) even remotely patriotic & 4) concerned with the fact that we all know it now. To this day, Mitch McConnell has refused to take up a bill passed by the House that would firm up election security in the face of a Russian onslaught against it. That’s because Moscow Mitch wants and needs Russia to do that thing it does.
And yet… on MSNBC, Steve Kornacki will get out there, bright-eyed & bushy-tailed in his button-down-blue-shirt and khakis uniform, pointing at numbers from 2016 as if they had anything to do with right now. How can they when Steve’s 2016 numbers don’t factor in Russia. Oh, Steve might allow that Russia “influenced” the election but — what does that even mean?
Nothing, of course — it’s bad journalist-speak for “I haven’t a clue, I’m not going to have a clue and therefore, I’m not factoring it into my story”. That’s an instant red flag, telling us that the journalist in question sucks at journalism. Any Russian “influence” should stop the story dead right there. “What influence, how?” a semi-competent journalist would ask, “Is it measurable? Is it possible that that “influence” influenced the election’s outcome?
We get NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell acting as Donald Trump’s personal steno pad, burping out whatever Trump says — free from context — as if it were true just because he said it.
We get the Guru of Both Sides Do It, Chuck Todd, rolling his eyes (as if a thought was passing behind them) and stammering (as if he was searching for the “right word”). We get Stephanie Ruhl asking “Yeah, but what if…?” questions that give credence to bullshit. “Yeah, but what if bullshit was true?” No, bullshit is never true — but thanks for telling your NEWS AUDIENCE that, sans any evidence, it ‘could be’.
We get hosts who apparently don’t watch their own news network — and whose own shows reflect a lack of familiarity with the very narrative other (far better — and better rated) hosts regularly put out as product. How can a news network not know how to aggregate a narrative into something cohesive — based on their own reporting?
Never mind how many times Donald Trump lies, I want a running total of how many time American news people wonder aloud while scratching their heads why the Republican Party continues to march in lock step with him. I bet the journalists are winning.
If they scratch their heads any harder, all those journalists will have permanent divots in their skulls.
Imagine staring at the obvious for that long without seeing it.
Think of it in terms of storytelling. What if a storyteller told you a story where a lot of the characters did things “just because”. Why did that character screw over that other character? Just because. Why did this character murder that other character? Just because. Hey, one could write a story that took place entirely in a “just because” world where nothing seemed to have any purpose. In fact, one could create an entire genre — we could call it “existentialism” or “absurdism” — as we already did.
Except we don’t live in an absurdist world, absurd as our world is. People may do things for absurd reasons but they do have their reasons. That’s the point. Even if someone can’t articulate why they did something staggeringly stupid, down deep, there was something that triggered them to action. Even an animal impulse is tied to the rest of who they are — and they’re willingness to give in to animal impulses others teach themselves to ignore.
Storytelling can go wherever it wants but it has to follow one basic rule: it must mirror actual human behavior or we’ll turn on it. How many times have you been reading a book or watching a movie or TV show when one of the characters did or said something so completely out of character that the whole story suddenly felt weak? We demand satisfaction from our stories. Stories that try to deceive us about how human beings are do not satisfy us.
In storytelling, villains especially must have a purpose. Even if the audience can’t discern it (that can make a horror movie even scarier), the villain itself must have a reason for doing what it does. Because human beings do. And human beings understand from experience that when humans do rotten things, if they’re not genuinely deranged (a purpose unto itself), they’re doing that rotten thing for very clear reasons.
A Bond villain has a purpose — world domination. Granted, it seems kinda foolhardy (who’d want the agita?) and hard to enforce here in reality (the enforcement costs better be figured into the business model because those all by themselves are going to be astronomical and the money to pay for it has to come from somewhere), but you can’t say it’s not a purpose.
Darth Vader has a purpose. Lex Luthor has a purpose. Doc Oc has a purpose.
So does every stinking Republican.
Mitch McConnell had a purpose when he denied Merrick Garland so much as a hearing. He had a purpose when — in the Gang Of 8 meeting at the WH, September 2016 — he vowed to accuse President Barack Obama of “politiciziing the intelligence” if Obama let We The People in on the secret that Russia was actively engaged in perverting our upcoming election toward Donald Trump. Mitch had a purpose when he removed the sanctions against Oleg Deripaska — sanctions imposed because Russia made Donald Trump president — to get a Russian aluminum factory in chronically impoverished western Kentucky. The hundred or so newly employed hillbillies were a throw in bonus. Mitch’s real purpose was committing treason.
Well, to be more exact, Mitch’s Russian handlers compelled Mitch to commit treason. But that’s just technical stuff. It doesn’t change the bottom line about Mitch McConnell: he’s a traitor. He’s been a traitor since before the election — that’s why Mitch has behaved as he’s behaved. He’s not just being a “political master”. He’s being a criminal — a criminal behaving politically because he’s using our political system both to commit his crime and to cover up his crime. See how framing changes things?
Take note, American news media — Mitch McConnell (our example) — isn’t doing what he’s doing out of blind loyalty to Donald Trump. Mitch McConnell has a purpose. Stop scratching your heads please.
Now (that you’ve stopped scratching your heads), please look around. See all those other Republicans whose actions you can’t fathom? They’re just like Mitch. They’re complicit. We’ll find out in time how early more and more Republicans understood — even if only implicitly — that Donald Trump was not behaving legally — that he would never have “won” the presidency (or they their offices) without direct Russian meddling in the election’s results.
They all knew “something happened” election night. They knew damned well it wasn’t “undeclared Trump voters”. Those at the top definitely knew that Russia was deeply, deeply involved. They knew Russia had more than just a hand; at the very least, Russia had money in the game — and money in the game was strictly illegal. We KNOW the Republicans knew, it was reported on FFS!
Now GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, upon entering a meeting of GOP leaders during the 2016 GOP convention, said out loud “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Did anyone in the room reply “What? Kevin — how do you know this? Quick, someone — get the FBI on the phone — we must report this likely criminal behavior!”? No, strangely, they did not. They did exactly as then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan insisted they do: “keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.”
If Putin paying Rohrbacher and Trump was legal, do you really think Paul Ryan would have insisted they keep it in the family?
This is what’s called “consciousness of guilt“.
Now, I know it’s a can of worms, but here goes (and I’m talking to the media here) — Consciousness of Guilt” is a real thing. It can be used to convict real people of real crimes. That means when people whose stories you’re trying to tell exhibit clear consciousness of guilt? It’s incumbent on you (the storyteller) to make that part of the story too. They’re signalling to you that there’s more to them than you know. Storytellers — good ones anyway — like that sort of thing. It gives our stories somewhere interesting to go.
So much the better that it’s all 100% true.
From the get-go, Republicans have had a reason for suppressing Democratic voters. Donald Trump has a reason for saying vote-by-mail is corrupt. The instant Trump stops being president, not only will his legal problems begin (and probably never end), so too will the legal problems of every single Republican.
Good villains have simple desires (even if those desires were arrived at by a complex process). The Republicans may be bad people but — in their defense — they are excellent villains (mostly because they fill the role so completely). They do what they because they’re corrupt. They want to overturn all our democratic principles and processes to install permanent minority rule.
I ask you this, American News Media: would tell a James Bond story from Bloefeld’s point of view? You could; it would even be interesting. But it’s still from the villain’s point of view and our culture cannot survive by glorifying villainy. It’s just how culture is. To see a story from a villain’s point of view — without condemning that point of view — is to give that point of view credence. The villain might have a point.
No, he doesn’t. He may have a point of view but, ironically, he has no point: his argument cannot carry water.
That’s the problem our news media has — and they’re inability to see the problem they have is causing all kinds of ripple effect harm.
We know why villains do things — they’re corrupt. We also know why our news media fails us regularly — they’re mediocre.