Our News Media, The Big Lie And Bullsh*t Kabuki

A few days ago, I blogged about “Republicans, The Big Lie And Bullshit Kabuki”. The whole notion of “A Big Lie” should stop us in our tracks. The fact that The Big Lie exists as a thing we all acknowledge — and acknowledge what it is and what it means — yet haven’t cut the legs out from under it — that’s a clue to us both how powerful Bullshit Kabuki is and how susceptible our news media is to it. The fact that Republican Congresspeople who six months ago decried the mob now want to forget there ever was one is a piece of Bullshit Kabuki all by itself.

Anyone’s who’s had kids knows what I’ mean by “Bullshit Kabuki”. You ask your kid a question where the answer’s going to be uncomfortable for them. You’ve caught them out but they refuse to give in. And, so, the theatrics begin — the kabuki. The words really don’t matter (it’s all bullshit, right?) because it’s all an improv based on a lie. At any moment, the details could change one hundred eighty degrees because the storyteller just bumped into a logic problem. Here’s where good parents ignore what’s being said and focus instead on the performer’s eyes. For starters, those eyes won’t meet yours except fleetingly — when they shoot a glance in your direction to see if you’re buying the crap they’re selling. If your kids are older — teenagers — they jump right to belligerence. They don’t care if you’re buying what they’re selling, that’s what they’re selling, take it or leave it.

Literally the entire Republican Party — minus Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger (who both enabled this vile behavior up to the point where even they couldn’t tolerate the bullshit anymore) — has committed one hundred percent to The Big Lie. That should be the end of all conversations. We should be grinding to a halt at the very notion of a “Big Lie” just as we should have ground to a halt at “Mexicans are rapists”. Think of how far this vile waste of carbon, Donald Trump, has pushed what should have been the envelope. With the GOP, it turns out, the envelope was always an illusion. Given the right stimulus, the conservative movement in America was always capable of what they’re doing — slowly rolling out a violent coup d’etat. To their credit, the Republicans are clever. If they can’t overthrow the last election (which they’re STILL trying to do), they’ll simply give themselves the means to overturn all future elections when the results don’t go their way.

If that’s the case — that any election result can be tossed because the losing party doesn’t like it — the losing party ALWAYS being the Republicans — then elections stop meaning anything since their results can always be “fixed”. For the record, this is not a problem that cuts both ways as both sides don’t think the same. It would never occur to Democrats to alter an election’s outcome because it went against them. That’s why they’re Democrats instead of Republicans because Democrats believe in democracy while Republicans don’t. That’s why Republicans gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters while Democrats don’t gerrymander (though they did in the past — to be fair) or ever even consider suppressing Republican voters. If every election’s results can be tossed for entirely political reasons then every election becomes a question mark rather than a statement.

To appreciate the GOP’s theatricality, you have to see the theater around them (as they do). Unfortunately, that’s beyond most of our news media. Our press remains determined that each and every Republican is an honest actor, there to tell the god’s honest truth. If they say they’re patriots, they must be patriots (because they say they are!) If they pooh-pooh the notion that they’re racist then, clearly, they can’t be racist. If they say the January 6 insurrection was a tourist event — or didn’t happen — then we have to consider the possibility that that could be true — because they said it.

Funny irony? Whenever our news media tries to quote the line “Well, who’re you gonna believe? Me or your own eyes?” they get it wrong. They don’t even get who SAID the line right (it’s Chico, not Groucho – from the movie “Duck Soup“).

It is absurd that more than six months after the Republican Party attempted but failed at a coup d’etat, our news media still can’t decide if anything actually happened. If I’m honest with myself, I understand them; I kept a secret from myself for 45 years that I’d been sexually molested (twice by the same man) when I was 14. I understand lying to oneself as an act of self defense. We don’t need that here; we need the truth!

As I’ve said here repeatedly, any framing of the GOP that doesn’t include the fact that they’ve always known Trump was a Russian military intelligence asset (as current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it upon entering a room filled with GOP leaders a month BEFORE the GOP nominated Trump in 2016, “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump, swear to God!”) is based on a lie. Per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s advice to his collaborators at the time (that’s how he spoke to them), everyone there agreed to “keep it in the family”. You know, like a MAFIA FAMILY.

From the get-go, Trump has tried to hide the true nature of his relationship with Vlad Putin. Why, is not a mystery: the relationship’s true nature has always been clear and distinct. Putin is the alpha and Trump is the beta.

That’s the exact same reason why Donald Trump is the alpha in his relationship with the GOP and they are the out-and-out beta. It’s kind of mind-boggling that professional journalists can stare at something as evident as Putin’s literal control of Trump and — after five bloody years of it! — STILL not ask the obvious question: “what is UP with that?” Oh, sure, they ask that question — amongst themselves and on TV while scratching their heads. It wouldn’t be journalistically unethical to consider — merely as one of the possible explanations — that the reason Trump’s so beholden to Putin is that Trump’s a traitor to America and has been the whole time. One doesn’t have to present it as stone cold fact; like any good journalist, one is just asking a question. If the facts damn it then that’s what will happen. But, if the facts suggest it’s the right answer…

The problem is, our press loves bullshit kabuki. They crave it. While they happily make fun of the GOP’s Bullshit Kabuki, they also find it strangely compelling. They love Bullshit Kabuki’s rabbit hole nature.

Avoid the rabbit hole — that’s the trick. Bullshit Kabuki must be consumed in small doses; it’s surprisingly potent. One second you’re gazing at it dismissively, the next, you’re falling through space and time, the walls of the rabbit hole blurring as you plunge faster and faster.

Republicans, The Big Lie And Bullsh*t Kabuki

Anyone’s who’s had kids knows what I’m talking about. You ask your kid a question where the answer’s going to be uncomfortable for them. You’ve caught them out but they refuse to give in. And, so, the theatrics begin — the kabuki. The words really don’t matter (it’s all bullshit, right?) because it’s all an improv based on a lie. At any moment, the details could change one hundred eighty degrees because the storyteller just bumped into a logic problem. Here’s where good parents ignore what’s being said and focus instead on the performer’s eyes. For starters, those eyes won’t meet yours except fleetingly — when they shoot a glance in your direction to see if you’re buying the crap they’re selling. If your kids are older — teenagers — they jump right to belligerence. They don’t care if you’re buying what they’re selling, that’s what they’re selling, take it or leave it.

Literally the entire Republican Party — minus Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger (who both enabled this vile behavior up to the point where even they couldn’t tolerate the bullshit anymore) — has committed one hundred percent to The Big Lie. That should be the end of all conversations. We should be grinding to a halt at the very notion of a “Big Lie” just as we should have ground to a halt at “Mexicans are rapists”. Think of how far this vile waste of carbon, Donald Trump, has pushed what should have been the envelope. With the GOP, it turns out, the envelope was always an illusion. Given the right stimulus, the conservative movement in America was always capable of what they’re doing — slowly rolling out a violent coup d’etat. To their credit, the Republicans are clever. If they can’t overthrow the last election (which they’re STILL trying to do), they’ll simply give themselves to overturn all future elections when the results don’t go their way.

If that’s the case — that any election result can be tossed because the losing party doesn’t like it — the losing party ALWAYS being the Republicans — then elections stop meaning anything since their results can always be “fixed”. For the record, this is not a problem that cuts both ways as both sides don’t think the same. It would never occur to Democrats to alter an election’s outcome because it went against us. That’s why they’re Democrats instead of Republicans because Democrats believe in democracy while Republicans don’t. That’s why Republicans gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters while Democrats don’t gerrymander (though they did in the past — to be fair) or ever even consider suppressing Republican voters. If every election’s results can be tossed for entirely political reasons then every election becomes a question mark rather than a statement.

To appreciate the GOP’s theatricality, you have to see the theater around them (as they do). Unfortunately, that’s beyond most of our news media. Our press remains determined that each and every Republican is an honest actor, there to tell the the god’s honest truth. If they say they’re patriots, they must be patriots (because they say they are!) If they pooh-pooh the notion that they’re racist then, clearly, they can’t be racist. If they say the January 6 insurrection was a tourist event — or didn’t happen — then we have to consider the possibility that that could be true — because they said it.

That’s our news media going toe to toe in a cynicism fight with the Republican Party. Who’s going to win? Maybe a better question is “can’t they both lose?”

It is absurd that more than six months after the Republican Party attempted but failed at a coup d’etat, our news media still can’t decide if anything actually happened. If I’m honest with myself, I understand them; I kept a secret from myself for 45 years that I’d been sexually molested (twice by the same man) when I was 14. I understand lying to oneself as an act of self defense. We don’t need that here; we need the truth!

As I’ve said here repeatedly, any framing of the GOP that doesn’t include the fact that they’ve always known Trump was a Russian military intelligence asset (as current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it upon entering a room filled with GOP leaders a month BEFORE the GOP nominated Trump in 2016, “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump, swear to God!”) is based on a lie. Per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s advice to his collaborators at the time (that’s how he spoke to them), everyone there agreed to “keep it in the family”. You know, like a MAFIA FAMILY.

From the get-go, Trump has tried to hide the true nature of his relationship with Vlad Putin. Why, is not a mystery: the relationship’s true nature has always been clear and distinct. Putin is the alpha and Trump is the beta.

That’s the exact same reason why Donald Trump is the alpha in his relationship with the GOP and they are the out-and-out beta. It’s kind of mind-boggling that professional journalists can stare at something as evident as Putin’s literal control of Trump and — after five bloody years of it! — STILL not ask the obvious question: “what is UP with that?” Oh, sure, they ask that question — amongst themselves and on TV while scratching their heads. It wouldn’t be journalistically unethical to consider — merely as one of the possible explanations — that the reason Trump’s so beholden to Putin is that Trump’s a traitor to America and has been the whole time. One doesn’t have to present it as stone cold fact; like any good journalist, one is just asking a question. If the facts damn it then that’s what will happen. But, if the facts suggest it’s the right answer…

The problem is, our press likes bullshit kabuki. It’s easy for them to poke at and make fun of. Yet, also they find it strangely compelling. They love bullshit kabuki’s rabbit hole nature.

Avoid the rabbit hole — that’s the trick. Bullshit kabuki must be consumed in small doses; it’s surprisingly potent. One second you’re gazing at it dismissively, the next, you’re falling through space and time, the walls of the rabbit hole blurring as you plunge faster and faster.

Things You Must Believe If You Want To Be A Practicing Conservative

For the longest time in this country, conservatives presented themselves as America’s perpetual adults in the room. That was the GOP’s wink to America at the end of the 2016 coup d’etat: “Don’t worry your pretty little selves about Donald Trump, America, whenever he tries to go too far, the “adults in the room” will reel him in!” Problem was (and is), the “adults in the room” were corrupt children who’d broken into the liquor cabinet, drained it dry, then set about burning the whole house down to cover up their liquor theft. The Republicans have NEVER been in control of Trump, rather they’ve been in his thrall and at his mercy. You can’t be in business with Trump without being compromised by him. Or stiffed by him. Or abused by him or betrayed by him. None of that is news to conservatives. They’ve always known who Trump was. They’ve always known he was corrupt. Some of them knew he was a traitor, too. And yet, that fact didn’t seem to change anything.

Why would anyone overlook Trump’s terrible, criminal behavior? Obviously, there must be something in it for them. How do you go from “believing” as Lindsey Graham did in 2016, that making Trump their nominee would be the end of the Republican party —

— to believing now (as Lindsey does) that without Trump, there is no Republican Party? That’s quite a swing — if you see only the swing. I have a feeling we’re going to understand exactly what made Lindsey swing like that: kompromat. I bet we’ll hear a story about how, one day, on the golf course (early in their relationship), Trump let Lindsey know what he and Russia had on him — and how hard they were willing to play that information. It must be way more than just embarrassing (surely Lindsey knows that if he’s worried about being outed, no one cares about that anymore). It must be downright criminal what Lindsey was photographed doing. Shame about his distaste for sexual partners with pubic hair.

Does Lindsey really believe it when he insists Trump was a great POTUS? Of course not. Lindsey doesn’t believe IN anything. He’s as cynical as he is crooked — and that’s a lot of crooked. So what does Lindsey or any Republican “believe”?

Being cynical, they assume everyone’s as big a scumbag as they are. Isn’t everyone heartless and greedy? Being white-entitled, they think they ‘re all gods. Heartless, greedy gods aren’t good for anyone who encounters them. Conservatives believe that “how the world was” is far better than how it is now and not even comparable to how might become if Progressives have their way. But, the name “conservative” itself does all the heavy lifting. It tells us clearly and transparently what conservatives want at the end of the day: they want to conserve. Okay — so, WHAT do they want to conserve?

Well, obviously one can’t “conserve” the future since it hasn’t happened. That leaves the present and the past. Conservatives would be perfectly happy if all progress stopped right now and the world was guaranteed that how things are now is how they’ll always be forever and ever. That, after outright living in the past, would be every conservative’s wet dream. What of the past does any conservative want to conserve? That’s the question. It can’t be the equality back then because there wasn’t any. Can it be how women’s rights were? Uh, no — women didn’t have rights either. Can it be because we treated the LGTBQ community better? Good one! Back then, we treated that community even worse! Back then, we used a religious manuscript to justify slavery. More recently the same people used their Bibles to justify anti-miscegenation laws.

The Bible is every conservative’s favorite book though they’ve only ever read it for the “good parts” — the parts that justified their terrible behavior. Most conservatives are also deeply religious — or, at least, they say they’re religious. Most of them are utterly phony. They will insist they believe in a higher power — a God who smiles upon them because they are righteous! Surely, considering their good fortune, God must be smiling upon them — so therefore God likes them! God sees how special they are and communicates that fact to them. And, ya know, God doesn’t do that with everyone. Most people don’t get the “special treatment” from God. But this guy does.

Imagine being so beloved by God — and knowing it! That’s the tell. “Knowing” they’re “loved by God”. Hey, God talks to them and through them, doesn’t He? When things happen, they know what God’s take is without even having to think about it — that’s how well they know God: they even think like him! Don’tcha know? They think like God because they ARE God. That is every uber-theist’s big secret: they don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God.

That’s what every conservative believes in the rock bottomest part of their blacker-than-coal hearts: they are God. They are the supreme power in the universe — and just you wait till all they start using the magic that apparently comes with the title. They will hurt us in ways that haven’t even been invented yet because that’s what Gods do.

That is the thing pretty much every conservative enters believing: in the beginning, there was them. THAT is what they want to “conserve”.

America Is Overdue For A “Great Moral Reckoning”; The Republican Party Is Even More Overdue

The loudest sound to come from the 2020 election — ignore the howls of protest spewing from Trumplandia — was the celebratory gush of joy that took over countless streets across America the moment it became clear that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had defeated Trump and Pence. That wasn’t just the happiness that comes from winning an election. The past four years weren’t just another “four years of our collective past”. Donald Trump never won the presidency — cheating does not count as “winning”. Take Russia out of the 2016 equation and Trump is not POTUS.

We’re slowly opening our eyes. What happened in 2016 was monstrous and deliberate. That wasn’t an election, it was an actual crime — that continues to this day. We inhabit a literal crime scene. There are actual bodies to step over, too. Take this to the bank: when we get to the good part of this story — where all the best reveals are — the picture we’ll get will be of a soft coup d’etat motivated by the fear of a diversifying America. We have just been treated to an exercise in Machiavellian dick-wagging by a bunch of rich white boys whose greatest fear is a Black man or (especially) woman telling them what to do.

An awful lot of Donald Trump’s animus toward Barack Obama is because Obama is a Black man. Take that to the bank, too.

We STILL haven’t dealt with slavery. The presence of the Electoral College is slavery itself reaching from the grave to haunt us. The EC vastly overweighs rural, agricultural states over urban states. Where the majority of Americans actually live. The Senate has the same, distorting effect. The reason Republicans insist America is a center right country is because of the stranglehold they have on the structure itself. Think of all the states like Wyoming, Idaho, North and South Dakota which have 550,000, 1.75 million, 800,000 and 900,000 people in them but also have two Senators against states like California, New York and Florida which have 40 million, 19 million and 21.5 million people — AND JUST TWO SENATORS. See how all those red state-ers are getting much more representation per person? They’re also getting a shit-ton more federal money than populated states like California.

The right is over-represented everywhere you look. It gives the incorrect appearance that America is “50-50”. It’s not. It’s nowhere NEAR 50-50.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won by over SEVEN MILLION votes and counting. Personally, I’d stick a pin in whatever vote total Donald Trump has until we’ve put every executive at ESS & Diebold (the republican-owned companies that made and control the majority of voting machines across America) has been put under oath and grilled relentlessly about each of their machines’ BACKDOORS and their vociferous arguments against Americans voting by more secure hand-marked ballots.

We need to be reassured that crazy ideas like mine — that these Republican-owned companies (with Republican politicians on their boards and tons of the companies’ campaign cash in their coffers) have, for years, been using their backdoors to insert self-erasing code that’s been padding Republican voter totals. Please, please, PLEASE — PROVE ME WRONG.

Take this also to the bank: I won’t be proven wrong.

This over-representation of Republicans — in the government, in our imaginations and on TV — has created myriad false impressions and narratives. We feel their phoniness every time Mitch McConnell claims to speak for what “The American People” want. Treason Turtle Mitch McConnell speaks only for Mitch McConnell and the right wing money machine for whom he happily walks point.

That day, out in the streets, it wasn’t “winning” that fed our joy, it was the belief that, after four years, justice might have a seat at the table again (with the caveat that justice actually never had a seat at the American table before).

We want America to do the right thing. We ache for it. That’s why more of us came out for this election than have ever come out for an election ever before. We want America to do a far better job of living up to its ideals. We believe America can DO it. We’re going to insist, in fact. To get from where we are to those ideals will require that, first, we experience a Great Moral Reckoning.

Come to Jesus, come to Buddha, come to the Crypt Keeper if that’s what it takes. Whoever you have to come to to experience that moment of truth, come to them now. It’s time.

Republicans — living in the past as they do, are once again behind history’s curve. If America is overdue its corrective, imagine where it puts Republicans.

America Is Divided But The MAJORITY Of Americans Were Not Divided About Donald Trump

Chicken Little — journalism degree in hand — dashes hither and thither squawking “the sky is falling!” or, as he now puts it, “America is hopelessly divided! What are we all to do?” Shhhh, calm down, Chicken Little. Stop believing your own hype. Stop believing that “both sides do it”. They don’t. That brand of “journalism” has destroyed your sense of perspective; it’s convinced you that you can’t possibly arbitrate between bullshit and truth for your audience; THEY’LL have to decide for themselves if bullshit can be truth and truth can be bullshit. Just for the record, no, it can’t and no, it can’t.

“Both sides to it” is bullshit. And bullshit can never be true. Cos it’s bullshit.

The gun-toting, Christo-fascist, liquored-to-their-bloodshot-eyeballs Trumpanistas do not care about representative democracy and never have. Let’s be generous and call them 30% of America. That’s the slice of America that still approved of Richard Nixon on the day he quit because of Watergate (actually it was 29% — I’m being even more generous!) The truth is, the hardcore-iest of the hardcore Trumpanistas are a thin slice of the larger half-baked tranche. When you stop and do the math — who they are vs who we are? It’s batshit crazy insane that “these people” hold the sway that they do.

I wonder if it’s because they’re all white (or white aspirational)?

The slow but steady attrition of gerrymandering, minority rule and elections stolen from the majority brought us to a place where that disempowered majority finally had enough. Donald Trump himself said the unspoken but true part out loud: when more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats. If too many Americans vote, Republicans would never win again.

Wow. Donald Trump got one right. He spoke a truth.

Why do you suppose Trump thinks that? If more Americans took part in the decision-making process, they would NOT struggle with their choice. They would choose a Democratic, PROGRESSIVE way forward over a Republican, REGRESSIVE way back to what we were: a country that compromised with SLAVERY. Seen as a trend line, a diversifying America is NOT divided on that subject and hasn’t been for a long, long time. That’s the MAJORITY I’m speaking of.

“Both sides do it” insists on giving equal weight to both sides of an argument regardless of any argument’s actual heft. That’s why climate science and climate denial got to share 50-50 screens on every single news network. Quick note to the news networks who apparently don’t understand how the visual medium works. Anything presented in a 50-50 screen is saying (even if unintentionally) “these two things are equal”. If it’s two people making diametrically opposite arguments? Those two arguments (climate science and climate denial) could BOTH be equally valid.

Just like that, NEWS NETWORKS gave credence to rubbish. They said, in the visual language, “this argument could be true”. Bullshit could be true.

Oy.

Once you’ve gone there, there’s not bottom. Mexicans “could be” rapists. Women might “like” being grabbed by their pussies. Children might prefer to grow up in cages, separated from their parents. Voters might not care if their president shoots them on Fifth Avenue — as a bizarre way to keep their vote. Once you chase a rabbit like this down its festering hole, you’re lost. That’s why our news media could never tell the Donald Trump story. It’s why they can’t today.

This story will happen IN SPITE OF our news media mostly and NOT because of it. The majority of heroic reporting on Trump has come from WITHOUT mainstream American journalism and not from within as it should have.

I watched MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhl report the other day how the spontaneous celebrations that broke out across America once Joe and Kamala’s election was a fully established fact that those celebrations weren’t about Donald Trump, they were about a hopeful return to normalcy. My response to Stephanie (through my TV — I don’t think she heard) was “What the HELL are you talking about? I was IN one of those spontaneous celebrations (masked and distanced — but needed see and feel the vibe). I know for a fact what and how WE were celebrating. I wasn’t an observer, ya see, I WAS A PARTICIPANT.

But Stephanie — an observer apparently who didn’t speak to ANY participants — adjudged our motives for us. We weren’t doing it for OUR reason, we were doing it for HERS.

She was “both sides doing it” it to us. The one time we WERE reacting politically, Stephanie (to whom the left is ALWAYS being political rather than reactive) had us being purely reactive.

Um, no, Ms. Ruhl. Everyone as far as I could see and hear at the street celebration I attended was there because of the relief we felt at RIDDING OURSELVES of Donald J. Trump. Please get that distinction. We had to do this OURSELVES because our news media couldn’t. Wouldn’t.

We have to look into this. We will. As badly as the news media has reported on Trump, they are reporting on us. They’re gravitating toward the most visible — the loudest, gun-totingest, bleary-eyed Trumpanistas — the ones with the most white, Christian male grievances to grieve over. Stories of angry white people are easier to tell than stories of everyone else — struggling to get into or stay in a game that remains entirely stacked against them and for the RICH, white, Christian men who are actually oppressing everyone.

Even Charles Koch now realizes how deeply he stepped in it. Charles isn’t being contrite as much as he’s being strategic. He’s seen the same handwriting on the wall that the 21st Century Fox Board of Directors did when they fired Bill O’Reilly on April 19, 2017. The handwriting was female. It belonged to America’s women. They make up most of the buying decisions in American households. If you lose them, you lose. And Bill O’Reilly — a sexual predator — had lost America’s women.

More precisely, Bill O’Reilly lost his advertisers. His show lost its advertisers because all of them saw they’d lose their clients — the companies that made the products being advertised. And those companies didn’t want to lose their customers — all those women making all those buying decisions. It was between Bill O’Reilly and staying in business. We all know who won. That victory should be shouting at us. It is — if only we’d listen to it.

I’ve written here about how I believe our view of the American electorate walks in the door skewed because of who owns most of the voting machine-making companies (and who’s on their boards and to whom they make healthy political campaign donations). Please don’t ask me or anyone to trust people with an aversion to transparency, a cash-paying love for an authoritarian fraud and vehement resistance to Americans using much more secure hand-marked paper ballots to vote. Something about them smells.

If I’m even half-right about Republicans padding their numbers, our perception of who we are and how we vote has been significantly perverted. They’re still as crazy as we think they are, but there are a lot fewer of them than we’ve been told.

That, ya see, is the point of the exercise. Republicans now are like an animal whose sole defense is to puff up its feathers. That “defense” is still just feathers. Republicans aren’t who they present themselves to be. They’re neither growers not show-ers.

We, on the other hand, are both growers AND show-ers. Our numbers grew (significantly) and we showed up — both on election day and after to celebrate.

Hey, Stephanie Ruhl — you’re a good reporter when you stick to matters financial. The moment you wander away from that beat, you lose your super powers. Completely. We’re in a forgiving mood though (with some people). We’ll blame your j-school education instead of you. We’ll assume you were sharp as a tack before “both sides do it” blunted your analytical skills. If you HAD wandered into one of those spontaneous celebrations BEFORE reporting on it and characterizing it, I feel certain your eyes and ears would not have betrayed you.

Four years ago, the MAJORITY of us (and had this many Americans voted, the disappointed majority would have been significantly larger) were shocked when the minority got to rule. We protested. We tore at our hair and ripped at our clothing. But we allowed Trump to take his place in the White House. We now know we were bamboozled. The whole country was — by a man who always favors”me” over “we”.

This past election day, We The People spoke clearly in the loudest, clearest, most steady voice a shitload of voter suppression allowed: “Ding dong, the witch is dead”.

Hear, bloody HEAR!

Not Hyperbole: Portland Is The GOP’s Attempt To Turn 2016’s Soft Coup D’Etat Into A HARD Coup D’Etat

Since election day 2016, America has been living through an on-going soft coup d’etat. If the point of an election is to measure & then respond to the will of the people, what happened in 2016 accomplished the exact opposite. The election’s outcome represented the will of a white, Christian minority to exert permanent minority rule over a diverse and diversifying majority.

How did that happen? Let’s be clear about one thing up front: this was not some master plan drawn up in a boardroom somewhere. Well, part of it was — the part where the Koch’s & the Mercers made a conscientious effort to use their money to deny the majority of Americans the government they wanted. They spent their money to deny climate change and to keep the playing field in America tilted entirely toward white, Christian males. To do that, the Kochs, Mercers & the rest of the RW money put Mitch McConnell to work denying Barack Obama — and by extension We The People who voted PBO into office twice by significant majorities — the judges PBO would have nominated.

See how that worked? Mitch McConnell was actively standing in the way of what the majority of Americans voted for. Remember this — Mitch vowed (when he expected Trump to lose) that he would deny President Hillary Clinton a single SCOTUS judge — even if it left the Supreme Court with nobody on it.

This was the beginning of the soft Republican coup d’etat.

The rest of the GOP strategy pre-Trump was a perpetual stalemate — a perfectly acceptable conservative solution to their problem. No progress meant things stayed the same. It’s not quite as good as literal regression but maintaining a status quo that continues denying people of color political power or any means to acquire and build wealth will did for now. The whole point of voter suppression is to reduce the number of Democratic voters to a manageable opposition. The point of gerrymandering was to divide that manageable opposition into bite-sized tranches that can never vote Republicans out of power.

The whole point of gerrymandering is to deny the majority it’s voice by over-representing the minority. That, too, is a kind of soft coup d’etat against the Will Of The People.

Trump’s arrival changed the game. Plenty of Republicans knew from the get-go that Trump had Russian connections. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously said out loud during a meeting of muckety-mucks at the 2016 GOP convention that “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan replied (almost as famously): “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

Plenty of Republicans — Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, John McCain — have taken Russian money (via legalized means) into their campaign coffers. Money always comes with strings. Russian money comes with actual rope. “The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC run by Sen. McConnell’s former Chief of Staff, received a total of $3,500,000 ($2,500,000 in 2016 and $1,000,000 in 2017) via Access Industries and a subsidiary. Len Blavatnik is a Russian oligarch with US and UK citizenship who owns Access Industries and donated to Sen. McConnell’s 2016 Senate campaign vehicles.” International criminals (like Vladimir Putin) understand how to create layers between their crimes and themselves. Everyone seems to be following the letter of the law while violating the hell out of its spirit.

The Republic’s saving grace up until Bill Barr became Attorney General was that Jeff Sessions — corrupt as he was — recognized that recusing himself from the Russia investigation was sure to put him in prison (if not today then surely tomorrow). But then, that was still the early days of the coup when the Republicans were just beginning to reformat their thinking.

The GOP — like Trump — expected to lose in 2016. They knew damned well that their taking Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin had nothing to do with “Secret Trump Voters” suddenly showing up in just enough numbers to eek out a 77,000 vote win between the three states and everything to do with a full on Russian propaganda assault aimed at dissuading African American voters from going to the polls and pulling the lever for Hillary. Meanwhile the old Republican playbook of too few voting machines at Democratic precincts plus all sorts of other fraud (see North Carolina) did its part to literally steal the election’s outcome — the one the majority of Americans (by a lot) wanted.

The Russians played the Electoral College and its racist roots against us.

Their one shot in 2020 is to travel that road again — hoping Russian propaganda (now improved by Chinese, Saudi & Israeli propaganda) will make up the difference in a muddied election where some variation on the Comey Letter will have made the polling close enough for the election day cheating to work its magic. What’s happening in America’s streets is making that harder to pull off.

The Black Lives Matter movement stole a marketing march on the Republicans. The Trumpian non-response to the coronavirus stuck a shiv in the heart of Republican electoral hopes. But Republicans are living in a nightmare of their own making. The pundits — ever lacking in perspective — continue to deny that the GOP is as guilty of high crimes & misdemeanors as Trump is. They think a worsening Covid19 situation will force more and more Republicans — especially those in the Senate — to openly deny Trump as August drags toward the fall and the election.

But they can’t deny Trump because their connection to him isn’t philosophical (unless you consider corruption a philosophy). It’s criminal. If they turn on Trump, they know Trump will turn on them.

The second Trump stops being POTUS, he will be indicted. And indicted some more. And investigated and sued and then convicted and punished. And so will every one of them.

Bill Barr is sending a private army into Portland — and other cities because that’s the new election strategy: no election. Or some attempt to assert martial law because “violence”.

That’s horse shit. I’m being kind.

When Trump announces the next phase of sending law and order to our cities, the only response should be Americans taking to the streets en masse.

Go ahead, Donald — arrest us all. Tear gas us all. Beat us all.

Good luck running on that.

Good luck winning on that — in the long run or the short run.

This coup d’etat ends now.

Since “Republican” Is Now Toxic, What Should “New” Republicans Call Themselves?

From a purely branding point of view, it really sucks to be Republicans right now.

If you’re still a card-carrying member of the GOP, think of all the awful things your brand is now co-branded with — joined at the hip and head like the most freakish conjoined twins ever: overt racism, religious extremism, self-destructive intolerance, backwoods misogyny, Bond Villain corruption and the worst kind of treason — purely cynical treason without an ounce of ideology.

Wow. Pick a side of history and it’s guaranteed the Republicans will run toward the wrong side. That’s also the Republican Brand now: being wrong about everything. But then, this isn’t news to the GOP. Whenever it was that the Koch Brothers decided to use their money to alter American politics — the Will Of The People be damned — that’s really when 2016’s coup d’etat formally began. The extreme Right Wing Money saw demographic extinction on the horizon — white guys would become such a minority that even rich guys and their money couldn’t stop them from losing power. Rich white guys weren’t having it. They got the poor white guys riled up against all those “others”.

Been there, done this. Again and again and again.

The “Republican Party” is about to check into the sarcophagus in the History Of American Political Parties Graveyard right next to the Whigs’ moldy pavilion. I hear the view sucks.

It’s a “Republican Party” as a brand is finished. Its luster won’t improve between now and November 3. In fact, I’ll wager, the worst is yet to come.

Plenty of people with living, breathing consciences have shredded their Republican Party membership cards. In the media, there’s Nicolle Wallace, David Jolley, Steve Schmidt and Jennifer Ruben among others. They’ve all vocally disassociated themselves. They, somehow, can’t comfort themselves with the tax breaks they’ve gotten while the rest of the country is betrayed.

As much as those on the left might love to have a free ride here — where everything we want becomes a wish granted — that’s as unhealthy as letting the right run riot. We know what that feels like. This isn’t a question of compromising with lunatics. We’re talking to reasonable people after all. Even when we disagreed with them vehemently, they were still reasonable people.

This blog is called “How To Live Bullshit Free”. The trick to living bullshit free is understanding that each and every one of us has a mountain of our own bullshit to deal with before we even think about looking at anyone else’s. Some of us have whole mountain ranges of bullshit in front of us. And dealing with your own bullshit isn’t a “one n done” proposition. Bullshit’s like zombies: damned hard to kill. But if you don’t deal with your bullshit, your bullshit will deal with you.

No one wants to be at bullshit’s mercy. It has none. I don’t want to be at yours and, believe me, you do not want to be at the mercy of mine.

I wouldn’t recommend “conservative” because, like “Republican”, the brand’s been destroyed by the people who swore by it. We get it — as their name says, conservatives want to conserve. The problem is what conservatives want to conserve — America circa 1850 when white Christian men (especially those with money) did what they wanted to anyone they wanted.

We’re back to the America Republicans want us to be. Sucks that it’s an America the overwhelming majority of Americans reject out of hand. Throw in a stolen election and this is why even “Conservative Party” would just result in good people dealing with bad marketing when they should be defending their ideas and ideals.

What should these good people call themselves? Normally, I’d be brimming with “helpful suggestions”. Something about this assignment fails to inspire. “Moderate Party”? Sounds dull as dishwater — like a party that hates enthusiasm about anything. “Heal America Party”? Sounds too sanctimonious already — and the moment they craft a platform, they’ll contradict themselves because someone won’t feel “healed”.

What does one call modern “people without a country”? Immigrants.

Mmmmmm… Not seeing “The Immigrant Party”. Not that there shouldn’t be one — and not that such a party (if it really spoke from the heart of the immigrant experience) wouldn’t be a welcome addition as we attempt to make our politics more reflective of us. And it’s not to say that this new party couldn’t speak to or represent people wanting to come here and be new Americans.

This new party is more diverse than that. I bet guys like Michael Steele would join it (he used to run the RNC). If it was moderate enough, I bet a fair number of conservative Democrats would check it out — and feel a fair amount of camaraderie.

The truth is, plenty of older African American voters are “conservative”. That is, they’re skeptical first. They want change but they want to make sure it’s the right change; they’re willing to be patient. They, too, might like this new party.

The same is true of Latinos and Chinese Americans and pretty much every group I can think of. It’s this diversity thing. Politics wouldn’t divide along racial lines if racism hadn’t been one of the country’s founding principles. Not that we can ever completely vent racism’s stink, but now that we’re all staring at it, we stand a better chance of not succumbing to its poison.

You see what I’m seeing here? A party as diverse on the “right” as we’ll have on the “left”.

But I still haven’t answered the question I started with: what to call them?

Maybe it’s not on us to name them. Maybe that’s something they need to do for themselves — pick a word, a short phrase, an icon — that tells us who they are. That speaks from their hearts to ours.

That’s what they’re going to need above all — the capacity to speak to the rest of us because they relate to the rest of us. This new party, I suspect, will better understand that all Americans (minus the 30% – 40% who are Trumpian) understand that we’re pulling the cart in the same direction. The differences are far less than everything we have in common.

And often, our differences are more like “framing” issues. Perspective helps those.

Whatever this new party calls itself — whatever their mission statement — I look forward to sitting down with them and getting down to the hard, serious business of fixing what Donald Trump and the Republican Party did to America.

We’ve got a mountain ahead of us.

Coronavirus Throws A Monkey Wrench Into The GOP’s Soft Coup D’Etat

The Trump Era keeps proving — it’s hard to keep your eye on the ball when there are fifty balls flying at you. Trump’s coronavirus response has been everything you’d expect it to be — a chaotic, self-centered act of corruption. It’s been such a massive failure that it’s even managed to make everyone forget this essential fact: Donald Trump is a traitor who would not be POTUS if not for Russia MAKING him POTUS.

Imagine losing sight of that fact — but we have. The press — even with Trump lying daily about pretty much everything — they’ve reverted to treating Trump as a legitimate president whose every utterance about the crisis they must cover. The hue and cry to stop covering Trump’s daily campaign rallies has come from all over. it’s a puzzlement why MSNBC & CNN can’t treat it the way they treat Trump’s impromptu WH lawn news pressers. They regularly put some lag time between Trump lying and their broadcasts of his lies. Occasionally they even contextualize Trump’s bullshit — imagine!

I’ve written here often how I think we got here — not so much the coronavirus crisis (though it’s intimately connected) as the underlying political crisis that comes from having the intelligence asset of a hostile foreign government running OUR government. Hillary Clinton did not “lose” election 2016, the correct result was stolen from We The People — which would have made HRC POTUS.

The leadership of the Republican Party has always known what’s going on here. Kevin McCarthy “knew” back when he told a meeting of the Republican Party’s muckety-mucks during the 2016 GOP convention: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan — third most powerful politician in the country — told now GOP leader McCarthy: “Let’s keep that ‘in the family’.”

“In the family” — like a bunch of stinking mafioso.

The GOP’s extreme deference to Trump is way beyond tribalism. It’s criminal conspiracy to commit election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason. That’s why the Republicans can’t stop this train from going off the cliff. The instant Trump stops being president, shit will get real for Trump and everyone sporting that “R” next to their names.

Whether he likes it or not — whether he knows it or not — on January 20, 2021 regardless of whether Trump cancels the election — his term expires. So does Mike Pence’s. On that day, if no election has happened, the presidency will default to the third in line — the Speaker of the House. It is now and will be then Nancy Pelosi.

This is why Mitch McConnell is begging every older conservative judge to retire now. Mitch hopes like hell that the old rules — the ones he violated regularly — will hold and his corrupt hijacking of the judiciary will stand. Mitch is going to be sorely disappointed. I’m with former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner (his Twitter feed is here): when this is all done & said, we must address the fact that everything that flowed from election 2016 — every bit of Republican legislation & chaos, every American Enterprise Institute-approved lifetime judge named while President Obama was denied the appointments — must be considered in the light of treason — of the entire Republican Party knowingly conspiring with Russia to not only seize control of the government but to maintain that control forever: permanent minority rule.

Bill Barr has come damned close to corrupting the Department of Justice beyond repair. Mike Pompeo has nearly destroyed the Department of State. Mitch McConnell, of course, has broken the Senate — with the purpose of hijacking the judiciary for all time.

And then coronavirus screwed up their plans.

For starters, shutting down the govt has already made voting by mail for every American a very real possibility now. Coronavirus has pushed a lot of ideas into the foreground that have struggled for attention up till now. That horrifies Republicans more than anything. The economic chaos — lots of it exacerbated by the damage done by crony capitalism — can only be cured by progressive, social democracy type solutions.

When a version of universal basic income works in ways austerity never could (because it’s always austerity for everyone BUT the rich) — when everyone infected by the coronavirus or kovid-19 finds relief through our socialized medicine response (you won’t get billed for your care or bankrupted by it) — when more Americans realize that the whole point of government is to create an environment where as many people as possible have the education, training and opportunity they need to succeed, they’ll stop seeing it as “the enemy”. If Americans got things for their tax dollars that they could point at — like, say, good health CARE that can’t bankrupt them if they get sick — they’d stop seeing taxes as a black hole.

This is not to say the Republicans won’t still do everything they can to hold onto power. Consider their motivation. They know they could all end up like Paul Manafort — eating prison dinner every night. And Trump knows that the moment he stops being POTUS, he becomes private citizen Don Trump — an INDICTED co-conspirator to election fraud. He could well lose every building he owns to confiscation. Sad, no?

Make no mistake — Neither Trump nor the Republicans “won” election 2016. Without heavy cheating and Russian involvement there’s no way they win election 2020 either.

As of today, Vladimir Putin insists the Russia alone conquered coronavirus. Oh, the things authoritarian shitheads say out loud. That’s just not true — and regardless of what Putin allows the disease sweeping through Russia to be called (a rash of pneumonia), it will clear out people with brutal efficiency. If Russia were suddenly stricken and found itself consumed by not dying instead of poking around in our political system, what would Trump do then?

Imagine Trump & the GOP having to run a “fair” campaign. They couldn’t do it on principle.

Damn Right There’s A “Rough Beast Slouching Towards Bethlehem To Be Born” — It’s Republicanism & Permanent Minority Rule!

Just like Trump’s election caused people to seek therapy in droves (that’s a fact — it really, really did!), it caused people trying to articulate what this experience is like to pick up William Butler Yeats’ “The Second Coming”. Bits and pieces of the poem are now part of the vernacular —

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

Or —

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

And then there’s the “icon” —

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Yeats was writing — in 1919 (when he published the poem) about Europe after World War I. “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” — which was the context for the best lacking all conviction while the worst, full of passionate intensity, won the day. What Yeats doesn’t answer — though he seems to have an inkling — what exactly IS that “rough beast”, its “hour come round at last”, slouching toward its second coming in a metaphorical Bethlehem?

The seeds of World War II were firmly planted in the result of World War I. And World War I was, in most every way, the death knell of Old Europe. Power was shifting from the hands of the continent’s royal families (they’re all related by blood one way or another) to more democratically-run governments that relied more on the people for their right to govern than because they king said they could. Political ideas like communism were morphing from the abstract into the real with violent consequences. Anarchism seemed a viable alternative to the supposed “order” since that “order” had led everyone into the most catastrophic war ever.

Yeats was writing about a world totally in transition from one thing into another. The problem — what will that “another” become?

We’re in transition too — the whole world. The social democratic order we all took for granted is under assault by backward-thinking greed monsters who can’t bear sharing any of the power or any of the money. If asked directly, the majority of Americans have no desire whatsoever to live in a fascist state. Given a choice between that and a “socialist state” where — while they may not get to be quite as rugged an individual (if your rugged individualism screws with other peoples’ right to live their lives to the fullest, your rugged individualism needs to be curtailed — sorry), most Americans would opt for a country where everyone got to vote, everyone got health CARE (not health INSURANCE) so that going broke cos you got sick was an impossibility, and where everyone got educated or trained to the best of their ability — for “free” (meaning our tax dollars pay for it) because the smarter and better trained our work force and innovators are, the better we’ll solve our collective problems and continue to thrive collectively.

Kinda the opposite of what we’re doing now — while insisting our way must be better, the data be damned.

I don’t know that Yeats anticipated fascism’s rise. Extreme right wing nationalism was very much in the mix in Europe. It was in Ireland. And England. He could have been referring to the Bolshevik Revolution that blew through Russia in 1917, two years before Yeats published his poem.

If ever a man fit the bill “rough beast”, it’s Donald Trump. And the thing causing all those desert birds to flap around so indignantly is the thing that will “be born” when the rough beast finally slouches all the way to Bethlehem — authoritarianism. Permanent minority rule.

Make no mistake. We are living through a coup d’etat. The Republican Party — recognizing their eventual demographic irrelevance — made an actual power grab. They didn’t see themselves working with Trump at first. That part looks like an “improv” born of changing circumstances and tons of Russian Kompromat. We still don’t know what’s contained in all the stolen RNC emails — yes, the DNC’s emails weren’t the only ones Russia stole.

We don’t know, for instance, what caused Lindsey Graham to go from the ultimate Never Trumper to a man who could tell us in great detail what Donald Trump’s ejaculate tastes like. That’s metaphorical, of course. I think…

I wonder — if William Butler Yeats could experience a “second coming” — if Yeats could look around at our world in the context of his poem — what would he say? What would he think?

What would he write?

I’m going to go out on a limb here. I bet Yeats would write: “Didn’t any of you idiots read my damned poem?”

Dear Rich People: Your Money Will Not Comfort You As You Die

My wife and I finally caught up with HBO’s amazing “Succession”. We’re about to finish season one. The Roy family — mirrored after the Murdoch’s — are an object lesson in what happens when a family substitutes money for love in all its relationships. Spoiler Alert: the relationships always lose.

I’ve never been flat broke. Never been homeless. I’ve always had someone I could throw myself at if I got beyond desperate. I’ve always been lucky that way. But I have lost everything I’ve worked for. I’ve declared bankruptcy and lost my family’s home. That was after being relatively rich. Being in show business — and having succeeded at it — I’ve had many years making very good money. Shame depression robbed me of some very prime years but — that’s Life, ya know?

What coming back from deep, deep depression taught me was very fundamental. Things — possessions — really don’t matter. Only love does. When you get to that final moment — when your sentientness recognizes it’s about to stop being sentient — a taking of stock will occur. You will recognize what you can “take with you” — what will you be remembered for most in a headline-only culture?

If it’s being rich over being loved, that final moment will be even more irksome for you as you realize, holy shit, they were right — you can’t take it with you. The money stays here. It couldn’t give a damn about you. You’re just a warm place where it parked for a while. And now that you’re dead, dead, dead, it will find someplace else to hang out. Meanwhile your “loved ones” become increasingly ironic in name: “loved ones”.

What makes the Roy family in “Succession” soooooo much fun to watch is that they ring so painfully true — the rich love their money far more than they could ever love each other. They honestly do believe that the goal is the biggest pile of money rather than being the most (genuinely) loved.

Ah, but what do we mean by “loved”?

Let me throw down an example — poor guy — never had a dime (or a shekel) to his name. He preached a simple (frankly Judaic) message: above all, love — do unto others as you would have them do unto you; if you have two brain cells, that “unto” is “love”.

I don’t know where the fictionalized Murdochs will end up, but I know where the real ones are heading. It’s all the same place: The rich Father who everyone despises will end up so despised (because he valued money over everything) that the money he so loved will end up in someone else’s hands (someone he hates perhaps) precisely because those who should have loved him didn’t. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t.

The die was cast, turns out, at the beginning. Tragedy is inevitability with scene breaks. The values tied to money over humanity were delivered via mother’s milk. Such is doom.

Again, remember — there’s a big, big difference between how we, here in the outside world, see the Rich (imagining that their money has solved every problem they could possibly have) and how the Rich see the Rich. There, on the inside, they know how loveless it is. They know how no serious relationship can ever happen without legal scrutiny first because, well, THE MONEY.

Sounds like slavery to me.

We’re in a war here. The rich — having gotten richer — want to be richer still. The Republican Party has launched an outright coup d’etat — they’ve busted a cap in the Rule Of Law and tossed the body out into the street as a warning to us. They’re not screwing around. They intend to install permanent minority rule whether we like it or not.

That was the point of election 2016 (the coup d’etat) and now election 2020 (the coup de grace just without the grace).

Ah, but Republicans have one big problem. They’re a minority. When push comes to shove and people REALLY take sides? I bet those willing to “die for Trump” is a far, far smaller circle of crazy than we suspect.

They’re schoolyard bullies relying to their reputation as schoolyard bullies to cow us into submission. Those bullies have a bigger problem than the first one actually. The people standing up to them? Women. Lots and lots of women. And people of color too. Lots and lots and LOTS of them. When we restore the Rule Of Law to its rightful place and begin to live up to the ideals on which this country was founded, we will owe a massive debt of gratitude to African American women.

Despite everything this nation has heaped on them as a group and as individuals, they have remained constant. They saw through this country’s racist awfulness to the ideal we were betraying and held firmly to it. If we do survive this, we will owe a hell of a lot of that to them.

Their faithfulness should be our ideal. Their capacity to love despite the harshness of their circumstances should be a daily lesson about survival, hope and courage.

My group can relate a little. We’ve been kicked around a bit by the Christian world. We still ache to contribute to it regardless. Go figure.

There’s a saying in the Talmud (I mention this as an atheist but a cultural Jew) that resonates with me: “Save one life and you save the world”. I think Jesus had that idea in mind when (if) he preached. He wasn’t about churches and their rules — in fact, Jesus taught that one didn’t need the temple or any of its priests; one could speak directly to God. And God, Jesus taught, would listen.

Jesus also taught how unimportant money was in the greater scheme of things. Those following that teaching — those already doing unto others — get it. When you love other people as much and as best you can, you get a remarkable amount of love flowing back at you. That’s REAL wealth. And when it comes to building actual wealth — it’s a good place to start from.

Will one ever get Roy-Murdoch-Republican wealthy by loving other people instead of money? Of course not. But then, who wants to end one’s days in the poor house like they always do?