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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Both Sides Do It” Is Racist Claptrap, Not Journalism

Both sides “doing it”…

There are two sides to every political situation: power and resistance. One either HAS the power or one is resisting the guy who does. By definition, by purpose, both sides are not doing “it”. They’re not doing the same thing. They’re doing the opposite for very specific purposes. “Ah, yes!” says the “Both Sides Do It” practitioner, “But if the resistance were to GET power, THEN they’d ‘do the same thing’!” Which means… exercise power? Abuse power? Is that the accusation? WHEN both sides get power they DO the exact same thing? Sorry, American Journalism, but you’re going to have to back that up with receipts — which you absolutely do not have. In America, Black people have NEVER had power. They’ve ALWAYS been the resistance. We don’t know how they’d behave if or when they ever became “THE” power because it’s never happened before. There’s not precedent to use as a basis for “both sides do it”.

To say Republicans and Democrats behave the same is cynicism on steroids. It’s not intellectually lazy, it’s intellectually inert. It ascribes motives to human behaviors that don’t add up, that don’t describe reality. Republicans are far better at marching in lock step than Democrats. The press is always jumping on how “divided the Democrats are” as if that’s never been the case before. No, that’s how Democrats are (that’s modern Democrats, not the Democrats of the 1800’s which became the Dixiecrats which became the modern Republican Party – per Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party“). Modern Democrats began in the 1920’s. Will Rogers nailed our spirit: “I’m not the member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. That spirit endures. It’s kinda what happens when your tent really is open to anyone and everyone. Diversity is messy. It demands constant compromise as the group accommodates new immigrants. But the deal is, new immigrants into our system rejuvenates it with new energy, new aspirations and new ideas. It always, always, ALWAYS pays for itself.

Both sides do not use voter suppression of the other side’s voters as a campaign tactic. Democrats aren’t afraid of the marketplace of ideas because they have new ideas to solve old problems that the old ideas didn’t. A lot of those old problems were CAUSED by those old ideas. Both sides, for instance, do not and did not approve of slavery. Slavery isn’t a dead issue here in America. It’s still painfully alive. There are two parts to this monster. We see the racist part — of course we do! But there’s an economic part to the monster. It’s the economic part that birthed the monster in the first place — stolen labor. Slaves work for free.

Colonial America relied heavily on cotton, sugar cane and rice to cash flow its economy. All three crops are labor intensive. If one had to pay all the labor required a fair wage, one might not make any money growing and selling those crops. Or one might not make enough (whatever that is). But, if one could get all the labor required for free? Suddenly slavery’s on the table. The expenses of housing, clothing and feeding the slaves needs to be figured into the accounting, but you have to figure it penciled out positively for slavery. The free labor made all the expenses of slavery worthwhile.

Now, ask yourself — how do we feel about people who work for free? Who have no choice in the matter? If we’re the power, we like them. We’d like more of them. If we’re the resistance…

Though we made literal slavery illegal, we’ve done nothing to make theoretical slavery a part of our architecture. Even when Black people have been paid for their work — and allowed to accumulate earned wealth — white people found ways to take it from them. Jim Crow laws, for instance. Poll taxes that made voting extremely difficult. Sometimes, as with Black Wall Street, the Black section of Tulsa, teeming with luxury shops, restaurants, movie theaters, a library, pool halls and nightclubs that a white mob burned to the ground in a race riot that started on May 31, 1921, the “taking” was as literal as literal can be.

Both sides do not do that. Both sides don’t even think that way. Only one side does — and they’ve left behind copious receipts that any journalist can eyeball.

Of course, the trick is, you have to WANT to eyeball those racist receipts. You have to WANT to find them if they’re there. But, first, you have acknowledge that they could be there! And once you open your mind to that fact? Suddenly, that racism appears everywhere. It’s not the racism that suddenly appeared, it’s your capacity to SEE the racism — that it indeed IS there. And once your mind opens to that fact, you can’t help asking “how’d it get there?” And the answer to that is — it didn’t have to “get there” because it always WAS THERE.

“Both sides do it” is the grossest kind of generalization. It assumes that the slave and the slave master are equally culpable for the slave’s situation. It asserts that because the slave master HAS a point of view that therefore that point of view (just because it exists) must be valid — equally valid, in fact, to the slave’s point of view. Ummmmmmm, no. The slave master may have a point of view but they most definitely do not have a “point” — justification for their vile point of view.

Oh, right — I forgot — they have “economics” to back them up. If they don’t pay their labor nothing (or a ludicrous “minimum wage”), they won’t make enough money for their stockholders. And if the stockholders don’t get the return on their investment they want, they’ll take their investment dollars elsewhere — so, whatever we do, let’s not raise the minimum wage! No one can live on the current federal minimum wage ($7.25 an hour!) and no one will be able to live on the $12 an hour Republicans and dishonest Democrats like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin insist is “all we can afford”. Horse shit. We can’t afford NOT to pay people a fair, sustainable wage.

One side in this debate wants as many Americans as possible to have the best lives they possibly can, to be as healthy as they can be, to educate their children without bankrupting their futures, to have every opportunity every other American has, to vote because it’s their right. The other side — plenty of receipts to pick through — DOES NOT!

Mitch McConnell Doesn’t Speak English; He Speaks “White Bamboozlement”

Let’s not mince words: Mitch McConnell is a traitor. His name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet Americans use when they want to call someone a “traitor”. Every mealy-mouthed word that Mitch mumbles is literally soaked in cynicism. He is the banality of evil writ large. But, make no mistake, Mitch IS evil. And the banal way he expresses that evil demands our attention. First, one has to realize that the words droning from Mitch may sound like English, but they’re not. They’re a language spoken by Mitch and a coterie of wealthy, white, Christian Republicans: “white bamboozlement”.

Example — re reparations to Black people for what slavery did to their families, to their rights, to their wealth, to their lives, to their history, to their status in America today, to justice, to fairness, to ever doing the right thing for the right thing’s sake, Mitch said THIS in 2019:Republican C

“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea. We’ve, you know, tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African-American president. I think we’re always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for that. And I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it. First of all, it would be pretty hard to figure out who to compensate. We’ve had waves of immigrants, as well, who have come to the country and experienced dramatic discrimination of one kind or another. So, no, I don’t think reparations are a good idea.

Betcha if the roles were reversed, Mitch wouldn’t feel that way. But then, Mitch’s attitude is based on the fact that Mitch and people like him have ALWAYS had the advantage, ALWAYS abused the advantage and ALWAYS will resist giving up that advantage. They believe advantage is their birth right.

A shame they’re wrong. White Bamboozlement is white people thinking everyone they’ve abused should just forgive and forget the abuse.

Another example: Mitch said in 2016, when Obama was POTUS and Antonin Scalia’s conservative seat (point of fact — SCOTUS seats don’t have political labels!) came open with 9 months to go till the 2016 election: Mitch said, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” True to his despicable word, Mitch did not grant Merrick Garland (soon to be our Attorney General) so much as a hearing. However, in 2020, Mitch crammed Amy Barrett down America’s unwilling throat in record time, soup to nuts in two weeks. Ruth Bader Ginsberg wasn’t even in the ground before Mitch dug his treason turtle claws into her seat.

White Bamboozlement.

Today, Mitch asserts all kinds of bullshit, phrased in that special way he has. But, when Mitch says he speaks for America or “the American people”, he most certainly is not. Registered Republicans account for just 29% of Americans vs Democrats who account for 33% of us. Independents make up the largest part — 34%. Of those Independents, 49% either identify as Democrats or lean to the party, while 44% identify as Republicans. Contrary to decades of Republican mythmaking, America is not now (nor has it been for a long, long time) a “middle-conservative” country. Now, more than ever, America is a centrist-Progressive country with so much yet to learn but also so much to teach.

One thing we’ve learned — People like Mitch who speak “White Bamboozlement”, aren’t interested in making America the best it can be even when it sounds like it. That’s the genius of “white bamboozlement” as a language. Those who speak it, understand intrinsically that none of the words actually mean anything.

Repeat after me, please: WHITE BAMBOOZLEMENT.

A Letter To Those Who Hate Democracy: Maybe We CAN’T Actually “Live Together”

We Americans tell ourselves — it’s part of our mythology — that we can do anything when/if we hitch our efforts together for a common purpose. Kumbaya. It’s time that those of us singing “Kumbaya” recognize that not everyone is joining in. And it’s not because they can’t sing. It’s because they don’t want to sing along with us. There’s another tune in their heads. A hateful one that sees the rest of us as, well, cockroaches because we’re not white. The Trumpian insurrectionists who stormed the capitol didn’t just turn on democracy because they lost this election. The truth is they’ve never cared for democracy because they always knew this day was coming. The day they finally had to reveal just how much they really and truly hate it.

Four years ago, Barack Obama handed the keys to Donald Trump probably knowing that Trump was betraying us. He took a leap of faith that We The People would backstop our democracy in the nick of time. That seems to be happening. In the nick. Now that we have control of the country back — well, now that we’ve started to re-establish control — we’re going to learn that the Democratic Party’s partner in governing America, the Republican Party, has been plotting against us.

The hit the GOP has put out on Democracy and America is as real and viable as the hit Donald Trump put out on Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi during the insurrection. We really are like a husband or wife waking up to discover their spouse wants to kill them (but hasn’t the guts to do it themselves).

The truth is, Republicans don’t want to govern “with” Democrats. They want to govern instead of Democrats. Completely. That would be bad enough if they represented a majority position. But, they don’t. In fact, increasingly, Republicans represent a shrinking minority. Yeah, yeah — 70 million Americans just voted for a traitor. Let’s stick a pin in that 70 million. But, even if it’s closer to 65 million — that’s still 65 million people thinking absolute rubbish is true.

In order to compromise with this rabble, one has to compromise with bullshit, allowing that some part of bullshit might could be true. Well, THAT is bullshit because no part of bullshit is ever true. We can compromise with bullshit all we like; bullshit will never, EVER compromise with us. It’s like Evil in that way.

Sometimes, in life, we have to admit mistakes — or admit how things really are so we don’t make mistakes. When did the Republicans turn so completely on the rest of us? Hard to say. One could argue they were never in to us. They tolerated us. Well, that’s no way to have a relationship. Especially when you’re the one calling the shots.

Republicans have just been caught cheating in the worst way possible. It must be bad, they’re already insisting everyone kiss & make up, forgive & forget. Dudes — whatever you’re humming so horribly out of tune? It ain’t “Kumbaya”. Sounds more like a death rattle actually. The death rattle of our relationship.

When the smoke clears, the Democratic Party will still be here. The Republican Party will not. An alternative will rise up to take their place — and a good thing, too. This Progressive recognizes that everyone (not just Trumpists) needs a check and balance. We don’t need a “conservative” party to balance progressivism though. The opposite of progress doesn’t have to be regress; it could/should be moderation. Considering how brilliant the ex-Republicans behind Project Lincoln are, I won’t worry about their finding a good, clearly moderate new branding identity.

Not all relationships work out. To be honest, Democrats have always felt a little “taken advantage of” by Republicans. Now that they’ve gone completely off their meds and revealed themselves as world class lunatics, on the one hand, we “get it” — we get why they’re lunatics. On the other hand, no thank you.

The Progressive fatal flaw is a lack of cynicism. It takes a lot to make a Progressive assume the worst in people. We tell ourselves that with enough therapy, even the most awful human being can probably be redeemed or be made redeemable. I still hold out that hope for most people still putting that “R” next to their names. For starters, being a seditionist is about to get crushingly expensive. That will thin the herd considerably. The legal bills about to drop on these fools will be devastating to their families. As the stone cold realization of the poverty they’re about to inflict on their own loved ones strikes home, more and more of these cowards will bail. Trying to better their own terrible situations, they’ll start ratting each other out. Bullies are all cowards at the end of the day.

This Progressive will give up hope only under duress.

I don’t think we can have a “serious” relationship ever again. I know we can’t live together. But I still aspire to having a relationship of some sort — if only to use as the basis for visiting these pirates in prison.

America’s News Media Has Confused Being “Skeptical” (What They Should Be) With Being “Cynical” (What They Are)

Skepticism and cynicism are not the same thing. Don’t believe me — look em up. If I was being skeptical, I’d want to see proof of something before going along with it. If I was being cynical though? I wouldn’t care about any proof because I’ve already assumed the worst. A pox on everybody’s house — “both sides do it”. If I was cynical, I wouldn’t need proof that “both sides do it”. And if there was any sort of “proof”, it wouldn’t need to be equally distributed; most on one side and a little on the other is the same as fifty-fifty; it’s still a matter of “both sides do it”!

“Back that up or it’s bullshit!” would be a perfectly legitimate response to a politician saying something for which he has zero receipts. It’s appropriately skeptical. Are you telling the truth? Okay — prove it. By contrast, asking someone a “But, what if bullshit is true?” type questions — that’s not being skeptical at all. “What if bullshit were true?” is the quintessential cynical question.

The only place where bullshit can be true is in a completely cynical world. It can be true, it can be untrue, it doesn’t matter. The ending has already been decided. Everything sucks and there’ll be no changing it; we might as well all fold up our tents and go home. Seeing the world cynically means seeing the very worst in people no matter what. Even if they prove their worth, the cynical have an explanation ready to go. They’re not what they seem. Nothing is so don’t trust it. Assume the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.

You might not be disappointed, but you’ll never be happy either. And you’ll never see the truth or be able to discern it. There’s really no advantage to becoming cynical — unless you want to end your days living in a police state where survival is what matters. Cynicism assumes that the bad guy will get away with it in the end — that, on some level, everyone’s a bad guy, so what difference does it make who wins? Everyone’s motives are suspect. Everyone has a political agenda — even if they don’t think so.

That’s rubbish. It’s stupid too. And offensive.

When a Republican suppresses a Democratic voter, the Republican is doing it for an entirely political reason: to win an election so as to put the power of government into his hands and not the Democrat’s hands. When the voter whose vote is being suppressed raises their hand to complain about what the Republican is doing to them? They’re NOT being political. They’re the victim of a crime. One of their rights has been taken from them and that needs to be addressed. Not for political reasons but for reasons of justice and free and fair elections.

If the news media had taken a more skeptical approach to Donald Trump than the cynical approach they took, things might have turned out better for them. They would have demanded to know WHY Trump thought “Mexicans are rapists” before moving on to “pussy-grabbing”. And a skeptical press would never have been content to let that slide. A skeptical (rather than a cynical) press would have handled “But her emails” a lot better. Rather than cynically assuming the worst about Hillary Clinton, the press would have taken a more moderated, evidence-based approach. They would have concluded – as they did – that there was no “there” there.

If you want to see rock solid journalistic skepticism hard at work, watch Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline Whitehouse on MSNBC. Watch Rachel Maddow and JoyAnn Reid. Watch Ali Velshi and Chris Matthews. Watch Lawrence O’Donnell.

If you want to see empty-headed cynicism, watch Chuck Todd. Chuck is the “dean” of “both sides do it” journalism. He has zero intellectual curiosity. Zero perspective. Zero critical thinking skill.

We’ve survived Trumpism. A rejuvenated Department of Justice is going to make the next few years a rolling smorgasboord of corruption prosecution. There’ll always be a dozen or so pots on the boil with a few more waiting in the wings. From the second he stops being POTUS, Trump will have legal problems that no amount of bullshit pardons can assuage. He’s not running in 2024. The only running Trump will do between now and then is, maybe, a run for the border. I suggest slashing the tires on the Trump jet to prevent that from happening.

Please Pity The Conservative Male — If He Had Confidence In Himself, He Wouldn’t Be So Conservative — Or Gullible

Ignore whatever political party a Donald Trump “belongs to”. He was a Democrat when he did business in Manhattan because that was more useful than being a Republican. Pure cynicism. The same goes for Trump running as a Republican. But then, it was completely cynical of the Republican Party to hitch THEIR wagon and their future to someone they KNEW going in was corrupt and a traitor. Donald Trump epitomizes Republicanism in all its cynical glory. But “Republican” is just a label. Under that icing, they’re all conservatives — and their flaws are conservative flaws.

Bullies like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Stephen Miller, Lindsey Graham and pretty much anyone who sticks that “R” next to their names are, above all, weak-assed MEN (or women who love them or who aspire to be like them). Something in their Y chromosome has irreparably weakened their manhood and personhood. They really do think they alone can “fix it”. That’s delusion. The only thing they can fix is an election. We have receipts to prove it.

A person — male or female — who has faith in themselves and their ideas doesn’t need to shove them down other peoples’ throats against their will. Good ideas persevere over time. A leader who has faith in himself has faith not only in himself but in the nation he’s leading. He sees himself as the epitome of its values. Of all its potential. He’s not essential to our success but he sure could help us get there a whole lot quicker. And that’s when he becomes “essential”. But to become “essential”, first, he’d have to have the confidence and the patience that confidence allows.

Ask any conservative this simple question: “What do you want to conserve?” As a proud Progressive, I can tell you quite specifically what I want for us as a nation — what I want us to progress toward. Conservatives are just as name-specific in their mission. Conservatives want to conserve. Fair enough.

We’re entitled to know WHAT they want to conserve. It can’t be the future. It can only be the present — and therefore however much of the past remains conserved in the present. Conservatism — by its nature and by its name — aspires to keep us where we are culturally and politically. To most conservatives, where we are is already a thousand miles beyond where they want us to be. Defenses have been breached, walls toppled, sacred cows chopped to bits. That’s made most conservatives desperate.

Donald Trump’s refusal to accept defeat is a criminal trying to keep out of prison. As for the rest of the Republicans? Why are THEY going along with it? Part of it is that same need to not die in federal prison. But part of it is the Grand Plan Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican muckety-mucks bought into — a state of permanent minority rule shoved down the majority’s throat via a hijacked judiciary, a permanently crippled Senate and an executive branch Republicans can always game out of a Democrat’s hands.

Think of all the Republican males who honestly believe Donald Trump is a patriot. Who honestly believe the majority of Americans must have voted for him (and any other result is fraudulent). Who refuse to do the job they took an oath to do — because of their allegiance to the only POTUS ever to run for re-election in the very election he was IMPEACHED for cheating in.

There are plenty of moderate voices out there — socially progressive but fiscally conservative. They, too, want the best for America and every American. They worry — legitimately — about how we pay for it. That’s a fair argument that we will need to have going forward. At least we’re all pulling toward the same goal if only via different paths through the maze. These former Republicans aren’t trying to drag America back to those “glorious 50’s” — the 1850’s. They want us to move forwards responsibly and with more deliberation. That’s where the dynamic tension between us will come from.

Again — that’s a reasonable argument that reasonable people can have.

The strange thing about men who lack confidence in themselves? They can’t be reasonable. They’re in crisis mode 24/7 because they can’t trust what they think. They need constant verification — from their children, from their wives and lovers, from their bosses — from the men who seem to possess the very confidence they lack.

But, remember — a man lacking confidence is a poor judge of everything — including other men (especially other men he thinks are confident). Odds are those other men also are struggling with confidence issues. A confident man doesn’t peacock about on his horse — doing it purely for show. Like a peacock.

And confident men don’t look like THIS either.

Imagine a man who puts his confidence in another man who looks like Donald Trump does. Who speaks like Trump and thinks like Trump and acts like Trump. Imagine the lack of perspective it takes to equate anything Trump says or does with “manliness”.

Barack Obama is more manly when just standing around, waiting than Donald Trump is doing literally ANYTHING. That’s because being “manly” means being “human” first.

If you have confidence in your humanity, that becomes the foundation on which you build not only your values but your day-to-day life. You don’t need your voice to dominate the mix but you have faith that your voice will, in time, be heard — especially after you do the hard work of using your voice. To get trust, you have to give trust. And then you have to demonstrate your worthiness to maintain that trust.

That can be hard for men with secrets. Those secrets (all betrayals of one kind or another — THAT’S WHY THEY’RE SECRETS!) sap a man’s confidence. The secret and its destructiveness are bigger than they are. It gets harder still for the conservative male because his biggest secret of all is that he only gets his way politically via bamboozlement.

Again — pity the poor conservative man who has to sell people ideas they don’t want and so has resorted to lying to them about his ideas or, worse, has resorted to lying about everything in a desperate attempt to get what he wants. Pity him for what’s coming. It’s going to make a mess of what was left of his confidence.

Since “Republican” Now Equals “Trump”, Non-Trumpist Republicans Need To Re-Brand; I’m Here To Help

As much as they suck at governing, Republicans excel at marketing. Remember “Mission Accomplished”? The only thing “accomplished” was hanging that banner. While Americans vote with their hopes and dreams, Republicans only ever deliver smoke and mirrors. Missions UNaccomplished. Skies NOT blue. Plenty of children left behind. The words promise plenty. Too bad they’re all as hollow as Donald Trump’s heart. Hollow because corrupt — and corruption is what binds Trump to each and every Republican.

The fact is, Trump epitomizes Republicanism, its every cynical, greedy, power-mad excess cranked up to eleven. That’s why Republicans — and the republic — are now hurtling toward the mission Republicans have ALWAYS wanted to accomplish: a state of permanent minority rule. Republicans are about to learn a harsh, harsh lesson. The criminal mojo that worked for Trump his whole life is about to stop working.

For four years, every Republican benefited from the fact that Trump gets away with everything by themselves getting away with almost everything. The thing is, those around Trump did NOT get away with everything like Trump does because they’re NOT Trump. Republicans have forgotten: what worked for him would never work for anyone else. Without Trump — and his corrupt, befuddling sorcery — the backstop Republicans have grown accustomed to is gone. They just don’t realize it yet.

But Trump does. He’s even said it in private, back stage. He’s worried about going to jail and he bloody well should be. Because he IS going to jail. One way or another. And the process that puts him in jail will be as highly entertaining as it is revelatory.

We’ve forgotten ourselves how the world works when we have even a semi-functional Department of Justice — that’s how perverted our view of justice has become with Bill Barr at the DoJ’s helm. In addition to attacking the pandemic head on as they hit the ground, Team Biden also must attack corruption head on because corruption threatens the effort to attack the pandemic.

Even with some in the American news media still determined that “both sides do it”, most Americans — the majority of us — see clearly that, really, only ONE SIDE “does it”. Only one side made Donald Trump their candidate and thus their standard-bearer. Only one side made a Devil’s bargain with Russia — and Russian money — in order to win the 2016 election. Only one side has resisted oversight with religious zeal — as if they had something to hide. Only one side refuses still to acknowledge the decision We The People just made about our future leadership.

To call oneself a “Republican” now is to call oneself a “Trumpist”. That won’t change tomorrow. In fact, the fact that Republicans made themselves the Party Of Trump is going to be the brush all future political campaigns paint all future Republicans with. If they WANT to be “The Party Of Trump”, they’re good to go! Voters will understand their choice. But if a Republican wants voters to see them as something other than a Trumpist?

You can’t “call yourself” a Trumpist and not expect people to think you’re a Trumpist. Regardless of whatever nuances YOU apply to the word, the rest of us see zero nuance. We only see Trump. Ask the Coca Cola company what happens when you try to nuance “Coke” with “New”. However the Coca Cola company perceived themselves or wanted their customers to perceive them — they got the opposite. They got confusion — and then anger, resentment and customers turning to Pepsi or RC.

The “Republican” brand is about to be as dead as the “Whig” brand. The problem: we still need those people we used to call “Republicans”. Not the Trumpists, of course, the normal people. We still need their voices of moderation to counter balance ours — which are about to send the country heading hard to the left. Rest assured, whatever resistance Mitch McConnell thinks he’s going to present will be undermined by Mitch’s legal problems. He’s not going to be worried about blocking anything Joe Biden’s doing; he is going to be worried about saving his own bony, white, Treason Turtle ass.

Also — I believe we’re going to learn that all the Republican-manufactured voting machines (the voting machine manufacturers are all Republicans, Republican donors and their boards are all loaded with Republican politicians) have been padding Republican vote totals for YEARS. When a fully functioning Department of Justice begins pulling the thread of Republican Corruption, that garment will unravel faster than a Trumpian lie. We will see Trump, the Republican Party, the Republican leadership and Republicanism bare-assed naked.

Every revelation about greed, corruption, cynicism — and especially treason — will sledgehammer the Republican Brand further. By the time we get to the 2022 mid-terms, Team Biden will have 1) mitigated the worst of the pandemic, 2) eased the economic hurt most Americans are now feeling, 3) restored order and rational thinking to our political process and 4) begun to uncover whole mountains of criminal behavior. To call oneself a “Republican” while running for office would be like saying “Hey, never mind that I may be a criminal myself — since I run with criminals — vote for ME!”

In an environment where integrity and caring about the Commonweal are the norm, good people will want to be perceived as having integrity and caring.

All those good, former-Republicans are going to need a new brand to describe themselves to the American voter. I have a helpful suggestion. A real one.

The problem with calling yourselves “conservative” is that the word gives away too much. As a Progressive, my politics are all geared toward progress — toward meeting the future’s challenges head on with new, outside-the-box solutions. Conservatives are no different. Their politics are all geared toward “conserving” — just like their name says.

The question is “WHAT do conservatives want to conserve?” Obviously it can’t be the future. You can’t conserve what isn’t. Conservatives want to conserve what IS. How we are now — because it still holds on to the bits of how we WERE that conservatives REALLY want to conserve. Ask any conservative what they want to conserve and, ultimately, they’ll reveal that the thing they want to keep alive is the past.

Tradition’s important and all but — in a rapidly changing world, tradition can be dangerous because it’s based on old knowledge that new knowledge might contradict. If they try to bleed you in a hospital emergency room? Say no! Their medical text books are out of date.

And, really, these moderate Republicans aren’t conservatives anyway. Most of them are social Progressives with a Methodist’s view of money. Circumstances — a dissolving economy — are going to force Progressive solutions on us. The cash Team Biden will use to flood the economy is very much a form of Universal Basic Income. We’ll witness ourselves how cash flowing America from the bottom up works far, FAR better than trickling money down from the top ever could work. Even after we’ve wrestled the pandemic to the ground, more pandemics are coming; we have no idea what pathogens a thawing permafrost will release. In a world where we’re as healthy as the least healthy among us — it only takes one person to start a pandemic raging (hello, COVID19!), socialized medicine can’t be a pipe dream. It needs to be a fact of life.

Yes, yes, yes — what Progressives like me want to do will be expensive. Americans will pay more in taxes at the end of the day. But they’ll get something valuable for the money. And the wealthy will pay far more than they do now because they can afford to but — more importantly — because it is their obligation as citizens of this country. Don’t like the responsibility? You don’t have to be a citizen. You can take your chances with your money elsewhere.

Hey, though Trump paid virtually no taxes to America, he obligingly paid hefty taxes to China — because he feared what would happen if he DIDN’T pay his taxes to China.

See? How does the other side counter “corruption” arguments? “Be more conservative” won’t sell. How about “Let’s be more moderate”?

Moderation may not be progress’s diametric opposite (regress), but it is the perfect alternative to “Let’s Do This Now!” Moderation says “Let’s take a deep breath and make sure we’re making the right decision for the most people”. There’s nothing wrong with making Progressives bring their receipts with them. By all means — please check our work. Hell, I bet that while checking our work, these new “moderate former-Republicans” will innovate solutions that Progressives didn’t think of. Those solutions may not get Progressives everything they want but then welcome to democracy.

America is best when it’s moderates are most dynamic — when they’re taking the best ideas and knitting them together into workable solutions. And think how sensible “moderation” will sound going forward. Calling oneself “Moderate” — or “The Moderation Party” would be a bold, direct announcement of who these former Republicans are. With its mission statement baked into its name, a “Moderation Party” would be incredibly attractive to a lot of Americans.

Maybe there’s a better, sexier word than “moderate”. It won’t cut to the end of the chase like “moderate” does. Conservatives won’t go away any time soon though their numbers will dwindle as conservatism takes residual damage from Republicanism’s fall. Ironically, their voice will sound increasingly extreme, making moderation — or a “Moderation Party” that much more sane-sounding.

Please, at least take my suggestion under consideration, moderates. Call yourselves something other than “Republican”. Most of you already do call yourselves something different — “Former Republican”. Let’s find you something you can be proud to call yourselves not as a reaction but as a statement of faith and purpose.

This Progressive is happy to say out loud: We need YOU.

Cynicism Is To Skepticism What Republicans Are To Reasonable Human Beings

Cynicism is thinking the worst of everyone right off the bat. So, screw em! Skepticism is having questions — lots of questions — that need answering before you’ll make up your mind. Skepticism leads to critical thinking while cynicism leads to bias reinforcement. If you want to believe everyone’s a rat bastard then even the good things they do will have a “rat bastard” stank to them. If you want to believe the bad guys will always win in the end so why bother doing anything to stop them — then the bad guys WILL win in the end and your worst fears will be realized. Just like you wanted them to be.

The goal of a propagandist is to pull you past skepticism and critical thinking to cynicism where, down deep, you’ve already surrendered to them. You don’t have to be a propagandist though to give cynicism succor. You just have to give in to it.

While it’s completely true that Donald Trump is the most corrupt president in America’s history, it’s completely NOT true that he’s going to get away with it. That’s up to us. If we accept Trump’s corruption and roll over for him? Then, yes — Trump will get away with it. If we refuse to roll over? No, he won’t.

Not even remotely.

Trump’s corrupt on a scale few humans can match but he’s not monolithic. He’s an incompetent man-child, an inarticulate boob who’s failed at literally everything. The ONE thing he’s succeeded at: not getting caught. That onus is on us. We can change all this ourselves just by giving a shit and insisting that the rule of law — now that we’re bringing it back and enforcing it — applies to Trump the same way it applies to the rest of us.

Mitch McConnell is an adept politician but a rotten human. The inner rot is finally making its way to Mitch’s exterior. While he’s managed to keep ahead of the stink up till now, the stink just caught up with Mitch. Mitch has sooooooo much explaining to do. Under oath. With the TV lights turned up to eleven and the glare of the cameras turned up to twelve.

Mitch is the Poster Turtle for cynicism. The end justifies the Treason Turtle means. No one will ever accuse Mitch McConnell of overplaying his sincerity card. He’s our own Schmuck-iavelli.

We need our news media to be deeply skeptical. Alas, “Both Sides Do It” brand journalism has perverted their skepticism into cynicism. Everyone, BSDI insists, does things for the same reasons — usually political. Their motives? The same. They’re concerns — ditto.

Oy.

If Democrats behaved like Republicans, we’d BE Republicans. We don’t. We aren’t. Democrats, you see, are skeptical by nature but prone to cynicism because of the way we keep voting in the majority without experiencing the joy of winning that should have been part of the package. Getting cheated out of the thing you earned sucks if it happens once. With Democrats, this is starting to look like a habit.

Democrats have won the presidential popular vote in every election since Reagan. And yet — though he LOST the popular vote, George W. Bush became POTUS. So did Trump — after losing the popular vote. Trump wants to be the second person to ever LOSE the popular vote twice and still get to be POTUS.

That’s called cheating. And cheating to win is not “another way to win”, it’s cheating. If you cheat to win, you’ve done the opposite of winning: you’ve disqualified yourself from the competition entirely. Win? No, you didn’t win. You’re not even in the conversation.

The Correct Response To “Trump ‘Won’ Again” Can’t Be “Woe Is Us!”, It Has To Be “NO EFFIN’ WAY!”

Who needs a smoking gun when the entire forest is on fire — and it’s the very gun that started the fire? Not every dot needs literal connecting to be connected. We are surrounded by well-documented evidence that says clear as day that Donald Trump is not now and has never been the legitimate President of the United States because the rule of law says — clear as day — that you can’t become president if a foreign country helps MAKE you president (especially if that foreign country has declared CYBER WAR on us). Every last bit of what I just wrote is easily supportable with copious evidence — starting with the data collected by our own eyes and ears. Donald Trump is a traitor. Everyone who’s known or suspected as much — no matter how vaguely — was obligated by the rule of law to say something. When they failed that obligation, they, too, became traitors.

America did not vote for treason in 2016, but it is what we got. Rather, it was what the Republican Party — in league with Russia (Russia!) twisted the result we voted for into. What they couldn’t alter by means of old fashioned voter suppression — wiping names off the books wholesale — they accomplished via new-fangled voter suppression — flooding Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin with Facebook ads directed at individual Black voters. Or, rather, stepping back and watching while RUSSIA flooded those three states with the weaponized putback of voter data given to Russian Military Intelligence (the GRU — in the form of Konstantin Kilimnik and Oleg Deripaska) by Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign manager.

Treason, treason and MORE treason.

Sorry, but no bloody way the most amazing (but flawed) experiment in human self-government goes down the crapper because of treason. Not when the majority have no interest in it — and voted otherwise. These criminals hijacked the bus once.

Sorry — they ain’t hijacking it again. The passengers won’t allow it.

It’s easy to become cynical. Driving people away from hope and toward the darkest cynicism is one of authoritarianism’s goals. Without hope, people lose their will to fight. What’s the point if nothing will come of it but terrible pain? If Donald Trump and the Republican Party thought they could take over America without having to go through this election, they’d have done it. This election scares them. It’s the one, gigantic variable they can’t fully control.

Oh, they can try to. The whole point of voter suppression is to limit the size the opposition. To them.

Democrats, you’ll notice, NEVER try to suppress Republican voters. It would never even occur to us to do such a thing. Democrats have this bizarre idea that you should vote for them because you like their ideas better. You’d prefer how they would govern over how the Republican clearly intends to “govern”. As of today, over fifty million Americans have already voted (four years ago, it was around two million votes at this point). They’re voting by mail and standing in long, long lines. Sure, sure — a few of them must be Republicans. But the polls aren’t trending up and down. The polls paint a picture of more House districts flipping blue and red Senate seats previously thought impregnable suddenly looking soap bubble vulnerable.

We’re gun shy about getting too excited about what looks like a blowout because, you know, 2016. But this isn’t then. This year’s version of the Comey Letter — the Hunter Biden Whatever — just blew up spectacularly. Last night Trump sounded like a lunatic spewing nonsense only QAnon-tards could fathom. Then this morning the Wall Street Journal (owned by Rupert Murdoch) blew the rest of it apart. Oh, did we mention? It’s all Russian Military Intelligence work product.

Yeah. It’s something our enemy dreamed up.

Let’s be crystal clear: Donald Trump did not “win” in 2016. He is not now nor has he ever been the legitimate president. Cheating again will not make him legitimate. It will only add to the criminality we must prosecute. Because that’s how we need to see this — not as the “oh well, better luck next time…” lament of people cheated out of their democracy (there won’t BE a next time), but as the last straw. The people behind Trump — the right wing money — represent a sliver of a sliver of who we are. Even the most violent Trumpanistas — the ones who will most likely go down in blazes of “gory” — represent not just a minority point of view but an extreme minority point of view.

We’re headed into winter. Where most of them live, winter will drive them inside if it hasn’t already. They won’t mask, won’t distance. Even as they gather together to plot against the election’s winners — the rest of America — they’ll be sickening each other. Yes, for sure there’ll be flashpoints. But they’ll peter out as the virus takes hold of their parts of America.

Remember in HG Wells’ “War Of The Worlds” how the Martians land and kick the crap out of earth’s armies? We look doomed until the Martians start dropping dead. What kills them? Germs. Earth germs. The Martians aren’t vulnerable to bullets or bombs, but they are to the tiniest earthlings — single-celled pathogens. That’s exactly what’s happening to Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

A teeny-tiny pathogen — a thing not even alive! — is going to save America and drive the Republican Party into well-deserved extinction.

The day of bullies owning the schoolyard is over. We own the yard now. We The People. And we do not plan to surrender it any time soon.

The Best Thing One Can Say About Originalism Is That It’s Total, Utter Nonsense

Antonin Scalia — the King of Originalism — should have taken originalism to the grave with him. Not that the worms deserve either. Intellectually, originalism is the quintessential make-it-up-as-you-go-along, “White Guy” argument. “But the rules! But the rules!” says the one who wrote the rules, then broke them repeatedly then got upset when others threatened to write the rules instead. Even on its surface, originalism stinks. Scratch that surface and you unleash a whole sewage system of awfulness.

Never mind the fact that the King of Originalism, Scalia, set originalism aside to write the decision that will most define him: Bush v Gore. Not only did he set originalism aside to write that bit of flaming horse shit, he made Bush v Gore a one-time deal. It followed no rules then made itself unique — all in one neat, corrupt, decision.

Originalism insists the Constitution is stuck in time; therefore so is America. If not for those nasty amendments, America would still be a bastion for rich, white, Christian land owners. Like in the 1780s. The opposite view sees the Constitution as a living, breathing, dynamic document (designed) to serve America’s living, breathing, dynamic population. You know, what that famous Republican president called “Government OF the People, BY the People and FOR the People.”

Originalism is about controlling the mythology and pretending it’s the law. It’s Magical Thinking written in lawyer font.

It’s about pretending words say things they don’t.

It’s all about cynicism.

The only correct response when some right wing nitwit hauls originalism onto the table is “Oh, shut up”. The goal is to make you chase them down their rabbit hole because that’s what originalism is: a damned rabbit hole.

“Oh, shut up.” See? Easy!