Let’s stay in that room a few moments longer. A person the whole room TRUSTS has just entered and announced that he suspects their presidential nominee is OWNED by the head of state of a hostile foreign government. That really happened. Yet no one IN that room seemed surprised — or overly bothered by its sheer illegality. Or — worse yet — by the implications of nominating a person to the presidency who could be EVEN REMOTELY compromised by, of all countries, RUSSIA! Let’s assume (for argument’s sake) that everyone in the room understood just HOW illegal this would be. We’re talking treason. Stone cold treason. And yet, STILL, no one in the room objected to the direction they were all heading: toward nominating a foreign intelligence asset to be president. What could possibly cause people to go there? This isn’t just some cold political calculation, this is crawling into bed and snuggling up with a country we’ve been at war with (one way or another) for 100 years — ever since the Communists took control and turned Old Russia into the Soviet Union.
People who like authoritarians also like bullies. They have no use for democracy because democracy is entirely unpredictable while authoritarianism isn’t. They prefer leadership that tells rather than asks its constituency what’s going to happen. They prefer it that politicians pick their electorate rather than the other — proper — way around. Conservatism, by its nature, fosters bullying. Most of us exist in a world that, while aspiring to equality and equity and all those good things, fails considerably. We maintain those aspirations however; we demand them now. We won’t rest until the playing field is certifiably level. Conservatism on the other hand relies on the playing field remaining exactly as it is. THAT is what conservatism wants to conserve — the status quo — and the status quo favors white people over everyone else.
Bullies then are the status quo’s “enforcers”. While the rest of us recoil whenever we hear bullying, bullies hear a clarion call to bully more. If people are complaining about being bullied, that can only mean a bully is succeeding somewhere at his objective. By the same token, you really can’t bully people into progress. It’s too vague a target. Its goal is too antithetical to bullying; if you had to bully to get there, you can’t get there!
It’s like “cheating to win”. If you cheat to win, then by the rules, you did not “win”. How can one “win” without following the rules? This is an argument America needs to have with itself if it wants to remain a democratic republic. Either the rule of law is or it isn’t. We’ve experimented with following it half-way and we very nearly went under. We’re still in treacherous waters. Cheating cannot be just another “campaign tactic” that campaigns run when their ideas aren’t selling. The moment anyone steps outside the rules in order to win, both they and their “win” (if they succeeded in cheating) must be voided. The cheater’s win is wiped off the books, the cheater gets prosecuted and everyone who helped the cheater cheat gets punished as well and — like the cheater — banned from ever participating in an American election ever again (except as a voter so long as they’re not actively doing time).
But, our news media — always happy to oblige bullshit and give it maximum credence — insists that cheating to win IS just “another way to ‘win’ election” in America.
This simply cannot be. It’s a lie no country can live and survive — like saying “All men are created equal” out of one side of your mouth while bidding on slaves out the other side. Holding two contrary thoughts in your head is one thing. Having a country that tries to live them is, we keep learning, a recipe for disaster. It leads to Civil War. It leads to a country that STILL nurtures white supremacy even as it demonstrates the remarkable advantages and benefits of e pluribus unum. America’s exceptionalism — and it really does exist — is its diversity. Nowhere before among humans had a country formed (countries being relatively novel things) that, rather than being made up of one extensive national tribe was made up of ALL the various national tribes, all trying to make a go of it TOGETHER, not in their home countries but there — IN AMERICA. E pluribus unum — out of many, ONE.
In order to succeed as part of the many, one must be open-minded to who the “many” are and what each group’s particular habits are. This is not an exact science. There is no “book” on how to do it, we ARE the book. We’re writing it in real time. Because that’s how reality works.
Bullies don’t care for reality. Outside the schoolyard, justice lurks. The really talented bullies bring the schoolyard with them wherever they go. By sucking others into their schoolyard, they expand their schoolyard and thus their environment for bullying. To his credit, Trump has a remarkable ability to expand his schoolyard. Also to his credit, being a lesser bully, he recognizes that Vlad Putin is a class of bully he will never be. Ah, but a bully like Trump can dream, can’t he?
Trump didn’t just admire every dictator on the planet, he wanted to be them. As we’re now learning, toward the end of his presidency, Trump really and truly wanted to declare martial law. He wanted to use the military (which, oh, the irony, the Republicans have now turned on) to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. The ultimate act of bullying in a democratic society — the complete denial of the society’s right to govern itself. THEY will govern. They and their pals.
Bullies are especially good at screaming about being bullied when justice finally gets ahold of them.
This is something the bullied need to learn about bullies. They rely on our fairness. They count on our sympathy. Their goal is to NEVER take responsibility for what they’ve done — another kind of bullying. In the same way, rapists behave like rapists in everything they do. Inside their heads, they feel entitled to be anywhere they want — including inside your most personal space. Rapists are just bullies with their dicks in their hands. If they had any capacity to empathize, they would not be bullies to begin with. We cannot appeal to their humanity as they have none. What we can “appeal to” however is their wallet. Heartless and soulless as every racist is, their wallet pumps with vital “life blood” — money. Threaten even the hardiest racist’s wallet and he, too, will melt into a puddle of pure white Jello.
At that meeting a month before the GOP nominated Trump in 2016, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan corralled the room quickly. Whatever unease some might have felt at the prospect of a hostile foreign government having a viable hold on a future POTUS, they agreed with Ryan’s admonition for them all to keep this secret — that none of them questioned — a secret among them. “That’s how we know we’re family,” said SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE Paul Ryan.
Know what kind of “families” talk like that? Know what those families are “famous for”? Hint-hint: it starts with the letter “B”.
Fact: Election Day 2016 was a crime scene more than it was an election. On that day, Russia pulled off the greatest intelligence coup of all time: they made their fully owned asset — Donald J. Trump — President of the United States. Assisting in that act of unmitigated treason from start to finish was the entire Republican Party. The GOP knew even before they nominated Trump that Russia owned him. A month before the nomination convention, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of Republican muckety-mucks and said, out loud: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one gasped in surprise. Quite the contrary. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — one of the highest ranking people in his political party — demanded omerta, gang loyalty. “We’re family”, is how he put it. You know — like a CRIME family?
As the results rolled in election night 2016, how many Republicans watched with a hand to their mouths — shocked by what their Russian co-conspirators had pulled off for their mutual benefit? How many Republicans — understanding what had just happened and why — also appreciated that this seizure of the American Peoples’ will that Russia was gifting to the GOP came with significant strings that, like it or not, now bound them together — Russia and the Republican Party. I bet more than a few understood completely. Take Lindsey Graham. A former anti-Trumper, suddenly — after a round of golf with Trump — Lindsey became Trump’s loyal fluffer. We all remember how the DNC and its emails were hacked. Well, the RNC got hacked too. They used a company called Smartech to handle their emails. Russia hacked Smartech — and you can bet the ranch and everything else you’ve got that Russia has used what they hacked to maximum effect.
The Republican Party will stand with Donald Trump to the bitter end. They have no choice. Having committed treason together, they know what their jeopardy is. If they’re lucky, they’ll end their days in federal prison. If they’re unlucky, they’ll face the death penalty (of which I’m no fan but, where they’re concerned, I’m open to making an exception). That is precisely why the Republicans will do literally anything to avoid being punished for what they did and why they’re so intent on destroying our election process.
The Republicans know The Big Lie is A Big Lie. Put under oath, each and every one of them would swear on a stack of Bibles (a book none of them have ever read) that of course Joe Biden won the election. The point of this exercise isn’t really to question the election’s actual outcome, it’s to change that outcome entirely because, if they don’t, they’ll lose everything. The stakes for pretty much every Republican is now all or nothing. This is why the Republicans have not only NOT refuted the Big Lie, they’ve been nurturing it. An Ipsos Poll published a few days ago found that “55% of Republicans believe his 2020 election loss resulted from illegal voting or election rigging.” 81% of Republicans — according to the poll — still view Trump favorably while 35% of them think that the January 6 insurrectionists were just there to be “peaceful”, it’s the violent left who caused all the death and destruction.
Merrick Garland as AG scares every Republican because he’s what they’re not: honest and fair. They know — it’s why they slow walked his nomination and hearings — the moment AG Garland begins pulling threads on the massive Republican corruption sweater in front of him, it’s just a matter of how quickly the whole rest of the sweater simply falls apart. The dots absolutely will connect the Proud Boys’ planning to Roger Stone and then in to Trump’s White House. Russia also will tie in. How could they not? But, the Russia tie-ins will take time. While we don’t know for certain that Merrick Garland re-started the counter-intelligence probes into Trump’s relationship with Russia that fill in AG Rod Rosenstein ended, we can make an informed guess that he did. .
The Republican Party has worked overtime to deny any connections between themselves and Russia though they all seem to have relationships with Russia. Plenty of Republicans received Russian money into their campaign coffers through various means including Russian retirees who receive monthly pensions from the Russian government — pensions that were plumped up by Mother Russia during the campaign. Or, more famously, lots of Republicans received cash from the NRA which, itself, had already been seduced by “Russian gun rights advocate” Maria Buttina. Know what they call a Russian “gun rights advocate” in Russia — especially one with her hooks deeply set into the NRA’s soft, white flesh? A spy. A good one, too. Working for Russia.
The GOP has known who Trump was all along.
This, for them is a literal death match. They have nothing to lose. Because our news media failed to disabuse Republicans of their dishonesty — granting even blatant lies as “one side (theirs) of the story” — a chunk of the country thinks Trump is a victim here rather than THE criminal. At the end of the day, we WILL make that stick. Russia will be a huge part of how we understand the Trump years: Russia took over America. It is damned tempting, I admit, to nail Trump and every single Republican for betraying us during a time of cyber war.
But, we must act much faster than that will take. We desperately need to move now to mitigate Trump and the GOP’s betrayal. Fortunately, these same pirates left us multiple openings.
The Democratic Congresspeople who joined the civil suit against Trump — citing his actions and speech of January 6 as clear incitements to attack — will put Trump into a corner. He can’t negotiate his way out of this; he can’t settle. He’ll have to go through the “discovery” process — under oath. For Trump, just being “under oath” is filled with very real peril. He’s a walking-talking “perjury trap”. This could work well! But, there’s yet another story angle here with even less politics to it: Trump’s blatantly terrible handling of America’s Pandemic Response.
Team Trump didn’t just “get it wrong”. They didn’t just “plan badly” or underperform. In a sense, Team Trump over-performed, planned perfectly and got it absolutely right — from Russia’s point of view. If I’m wondering this, it’s a dead certainty others are wondering it too: how connected were Trump’s criminally inept pandemic responses and the idea that a nation sickened by a pandemic would be easier to roll over in a soft coup d’etat than a healthy population?
There will, no doubt, be layer upon layer of Trumpian criminality including in Trump’s response to the pandemic: hundreds of thousands of Americans are now dead because of Trump’s actions. As encouraging as the story’s trendline is, We The People need a little concrete beneath our feet. We need the punishment phase to become as real as the crime phase.
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.
Donald Trump keeps giving away the game and STILL we refuse to listen to him. Just as Trump’s been telling us his presidency’s illegitimate, he keeps telling us HOW he thought he would stay in the White House — via the VOTING MACHINES. Even Trump’s not dim enough to think he could “ride to victory” on the strength of a red wave. That’s the jingly keys here. Trump wanted HIS voters to skip voting by mail and vote by machine because the machines are where the fix was set up and ready to roll. Right now, everyone’s asking aloud “how could ALL the pollsters be sooooo wrong again?” They weren’t wrong. Stop looking in the wrong place for the answer to the question.
It’s only a “conspiracy theory” if it has no receipts and the connected dots are sketchily connected at best. Put this in the “Stone Cold Fact” column: most of the voting machine makers are owned by card-carrying Republicans. Their business is almost completely unregulated. The Republican owners are significant donors to Republican politicians and Republican politicians sit on the boards of the voting machine making companies. Conflicts of interest abound — unregulated.
Also: to cheat in an election using a voting machine would NOT require any sort of “grand conspiracy” whatsoever. It could be accomplished with, at most, a handful of people. Hell, if properly organized, one could steal a presidency (or a few Senatorial elections) with three. One — at the ownership level — to provide a back door, another — technically competent and able to access that back door at the appropriate time (so the ownership level can claim plausible deniability) so as to drop in the code — and, then the third (the political side) guiding the whole pirate ship with subtle hints and clues. Three people could pull this off and no one would ever know. Plausible deniability uber alles.
These are all facts. Demonstrably true. These machines are vulnerable to criminal behavior intent on changing the outcome of the elections they’re tallying.
The most blatant way to steal an election via computer code in a voting machine would be to overtly steal or flip votes. We KNOW FOR A FACT that that happens!It’s been documented! But that’s too easily caught; it CAN be caught if the voter is vigilant. If too much of that happens (putting myself in the criminal’s expensive loafers), it’s apt to raise questions or, worse, alarm. There needs to be a better, subtler, more nuanced way to win via code.
Padding. That’s the ticket.
The code would go something like this: “for every tenth vote for the Republican candidate, add one vote”. Thus, ten votes becomes eleven votes, twenty becomes twenty-two votes, thirty becomes thirty-three votes and on and on. We’ve just added ten percent to the vote total with very little way to check it out — since the computer code that gave the instruction can either be removed or written so as to “remove itself” after having executed its instructions. This is coding that near-amateurs could probably write.
In 2016, the chattering class was quick to jump on Hillary Clinton and the Democrats for botching the election. For sure, the campaign had its flaws. But look at what it was swimming upstream against: RUSSIA and a full-on cyber war attack with the full-on participation of the entire Republican Party. How typical for the boys to gang up on one girl. The false narrative the news media invented to explain how “the polling could be so wrong!” (it wasn’t) was the “secret Trump voter” who lied to the pollsters out of shame but proudly voted for Trump when the time came.
I’m trying to recall if the news media ever stuck a microphone under the nose of any such voter… They should try now — to find a similar voter who voted for Joe Biden (and everything he stood for) but also for the vulnerable Republican Senate candidate — and everything Trumpian he or she stood for. That sounds… no, it SMELLS like bullshit. It stinks of bad analysis that refuses to look at ALL the possible explanations. Instead, it invents a character it can’t produce so as to interview and VERIFY their story.
Very few people in this election “split their vote”. This was tribal — top to bottom.
It might not be possible anymore to forensic evidence from the voting machines. I don’t know. But the Democrats should be all over that like a Republican on an illegal campaign donation.
It’s hard to forget when your heart’s been broken, stomped on and tossed like ours was in 2016. The majority of Americans spoke clearly with our votes in 2016. We did not want Donald Trump. Strangely, the majority got the opposite of what we voted for. We were too slow to realize the Republican Party was actively engaged in a soft coup d’etat, backed by Russia. We were too slow to realize that just because criminals act criminally right in front you, it doesn’t mean their criminality isn’t a crime. Sure it is! Donald Trump did not “win” election in 2016, a criminal conspiracy (led by Russia) stole the election’s outcome for him.
Today, finally, We The People get to rip power back from those criminals.
That isn’t dependent on any election “result”. We KNOW what this election’s result is. Have you seen how many Americans showed up to vote early? Trust me: no one stood in line for five hours plus to vote for Trump. People voting out of selfish rage don’t have half the commitment of people voting out of collective rage. The collective rage camp always has each other to remind them of why they’re so angry. The Trump guy just has himself — and when he sobers up, he’ll probably forget why he was so angry to begin with.
The correct answer to Trump “declaring a victory” that isn’t his is “No”. “No, you didn’t win.” We do not chase bloated orange rabbits down their rabbit holes. We shake our heads and simply say “No”.
Make no mistake: Trump will flail and scream and cry — especially when we frog march his bloated ass out of the White House, his arms zip-tied behind him. He’ll call us names then tell us how much he loves us. He’ll say anything to avoid his fate. Too bad none of that will work.
We know what Trump’s done. We need to punish him if only for our own sense of wellbeing. If only for the country’s ability to move forward.
Trump is losing as the first returns come in. He will lose on a massive scale today. Cheating to win can never equal winning and, today, even having CHEATED, Trump will go down in flames.
And so will every Republican with him.
As far as I’m concerned, today is the first day of the rest of our lives. We will look back at November 3, 2020 as the day We The People made it official: Trump no longer works for us. Everything he’s done will, at long last, be subject to oversight, review, prosecution and punishment. And so will the criminal acts of every single Republican.
Celebrate, America! Then buckle up. Things won’t get easier any time soon. But, at least decency is back. Fairness will get a seat at the table again. Bullshit will have to watch remotely, its mute button locked in the “mute” position.
From the second Donald Trump first stole the presidency in 2016, the only remedy available to We The People was going to be We The People. Barack Obama pretty much told us that in his farewell speech. As we speak nearly 100 million Americans have voted already. Considering how apathetic most Americans are come election time? That’s not insignificant.
Maybe being at war has inspired us to take our most sacred right as citizens more seriously. On the one hand, there’s the cyber war that Russia launched against us. On the other, there’s the Culture War launched by the snowflakey right wing against the diverse rest of us. Seeing all those Americans lining up to vote gives me hope — and it’s proving Obama right.
If I go back and look at things I prognosticated before Trump was elected (going back to Facebook posts and tweets and blog posts), I’ll admit: I was wrong about Trump. I wasn’t wrong about what he would do, I was wrong about how completely he’d get away with what he was doing.
I was wrong about Trump lasting four years. I did not see that. I did not see him pulling us out of the Paris Accords or treating Kim Jong-Un like a brother. I didn’t see him betraying the Kurds or opening vast tracts of the Arctic to pollution.
I figured, by the time he got around to that stuff? He’d be gone.
I was wrong, you see, about the complicity of the people around him. It never occurred to me that the entire Republican Party would close ranks around Trump entirely out of party loyalty — in the face of the fact that he is a clear and present danger.
That’s not ME talking, that’s David Laufman, Former chief of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division’s Counter Intel & Export Control Section (that’s how real and technical this guy is):
This is not an ordinary election between two competing political sides. Victory by one side will result in a very different America from what will result — sorry, what could happen — should the other side claim and get to experience their victory.
In 2016, don’t forget, the majority of Americans voted against Trump but got Trump anyway! It feels kinda… un-democratic. In fact, it feels kinda suspect — especially considering as the majority — by a lot — voted for the diametric opposite of what we’re living through.
That’s the thing — while life may appear to go on should Trump “win”, that will only be on the surface. And for some. For others, life stopped going on the moment Trump “won” the first time. For plenty of people, life began to stop. Literally.
Pandemics are not political. Why is ours? Oh, right…
The problem is, Trump did not “win” the 2016 election. We still need to deal with that fact; in fact, Trump’s illegitimacy is at the heart of the question we’re asking today — or the predictions we’re making.
In one sense, every American presidency is like a four-year story cycle with that president as the story cycle’s hero. If we like the story cycle (and the hero), we’ll put our money down for a sequel. If we don’t, we’ll start a new story cycle with a new hero.
Some of us understood what the Donald Trump story cycle was really about from the get-go: corruption. His “politics” have been all over the place because he’s not a political creature. He’s a guy looking to make a deal and if being a Democrat in NYC makes dealmaking easier than Trump’s not just a Democrat, he’s the most passionate pro-abortion Democrat of all! Trump’s not political. He’s flat out cynical. He thinks everyone else is as corrupt as he is.
If only Democrats were accusing the Trump admin of corruption, an argument could be made that the accusation was political in nature. But, there’s the Lincoln Project. And a growing list of other Republicans — politicians, public servants and military people — who have come out and openly stated that they are voting for Joe Biden as should you because Trump’s so corrupt. This list is amazingly long!
When literally hundreds of important, knowledgeable people from Trump’s own political party openly speak of how dangerous he is to the republic itself, I’d say that deserves our attention.
This is not an ordinary election. The choice isn’t between two variations on a theme. It’s between two diametric opposites. With very real consequences for either side when the other side wins.
Very, very real consequences will ensue.
The best indicator of future events is past events. When humans consistently behave a certain way in the past, we can make an informed guess about their future behavior. A person with a history of getting violent when triggered in the past will probably get violent when triggered in the future (unless he does something to stop it). If we can’t assess future risk based on the past, we’re left to face the future blind.
It comes down to what we KNOW empirically based on the past.
Part of our problem with Donald Trump — and predicting what he’ll do — is that our idea of him is tainted by television. An awful lot of Trump’s voters voted for him because they believe to this day that Trump IS the character he played on The Apprentice. Except he’s not. Trump the “master negotiator” and “great businessman” was an invention of Mark Burnett’s.
Master negotiators and great businessmen don’t declare bankruptcy as many times as Trump has — and they don’t owe over a billion dollars — AS TRUMP DOES — a fact he does not deny!
Before I make my predictions, one story. From the moment the Steele Dossier first came to life, everyone around Trump worked overtime to trash its credibility. The news media never understood it in its proper context — it’s raw intelligence data.
Let’s be clear: Steele’s work product has proven to be almost (not entirely) accurate. There are still questions about it but the overwhelming majority of Steele’s observations and notes pan out or have since panned out.
First, you have to understand how the dossier came to be in order to understand what it is and why it’s important.
During the 2016 primaries, the owners of the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative newspaper, hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research work on Donald Trump. The Beacon’s owners were Jeb Bush supporters and they wanted dirt on Trump.
Fusion was a research firm co-created by Glenn Simpson, a journalist who’d written most recently for the Wall Street Journal (hardly a bastion of liberal idealism). When hauled before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017 (the Republican-led committee was trying to undermine the dossier’s integrity), Simpson testified that, having gotten the assignment from the Free Beacon, the first thing Fusion did was its “due diligence”.
They got their hands on every piece of publicly available material about Trump. They got newspaper clippings, books and magazine articles. They watched every video they could find, every radio show interview he did. They went to Amazon and actual book stores. They even went to the public library so as to exhaustively find every piece of publicly available material — just so they’d have a STARTING PLACE on Trump to work from.
And their STARTING PLACE, Simpson testified, was the absolute certainty that Trump had used his (now bankrupt) Atlantic City casinos to launder copious amounts of Russian mob money. In order to answer that question (and other questions about Trump’s strange relationships over the years with shadowy Russians), Fusion sub-contracted out the work to Christopher Steele, former head of the MI6’s Russia desk (MI6 is Britain’s CIA). Steele had the best contacts inside Russia bar none.
The dossier is simply Steele using his sources to provide a picture of all the intel currently floating around inside Russia about Trump — and his relationship with the country’s leaders. And its criminals — since, really, Russia is run by criminals.
Okay, okay — I’m getting there!
My predictions come loaded down with baggage — they’re informed by a lot of reading. There are journalists and other informed writers of this story who’ve brought remarkable insight to how I see what’s happening here: Sarah Kendzior, Seth Abramson, Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace (Sarah Palin’s former handler!), Andrew Weissman, Mary Trump and Glenn Simpson himself (in Crime In Progress, his book about the Steele Dossier and Fusion’s own investigation of Trump).
Another thing I got wrong: like many people, I thought somewhere between Robert Mueller and the FBI, there was an ongoing counterintelligence investigation that was going to connect all the dots between Trump and Russia. We learned recently however that assistant AG Rod Rosenstein, a Trump supplicant, told Team Mueller to stay in the Wikileaks lane. They were under the impression that the FBI was handling the counterintel op. But Rosenstein never told the FBI to pursue the counterintel op. Deliberately.
In other words, the most important investigation into what happened behind the scenes in 2016 to explain the strange relationship between Team Trump and Russia never happened. Those questions remain unanswered though they must be asked.
Let’s remember something: Donald Trump was impeached for cheating in the very election he’s running in. And the thing he was impeached for was cheating in THIS election the same way he cheated in the last election.
That is my starting point. This is not an election between two political ideologies.
It is between right and wrong (let’s avoid good v evil, wink-wink).
I’m not alone in thinking this. The most prominent, forceful, brutally honest voice in the pre-election mix just might belong to THE LINCOLN PROJECT.
The Lincoln Project is made up of Republicans (some now former Republicans) including George Conway (Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway’s HUSBAND!), Rick Wilson & Steve Schmidt — John McCain’s campaign manager. These are serious Republicans. Patriotic Americans. Good people. Good people with whom people on the left disagree politically. But we can all live with that because good people can argue amongst themselves and find compromises they all hate equally. The stone cold truth is: the left needs the balance of the right as surely as the right needs the balance of the left. Our success does indeed lie somewhere in the middle.
To get there from where we are — swinging violently to the right against the majority’s will — to where we need to be — a more moderate “center” — requires more than just a jerk to the center. That’s not what’s coming. And a jerk to the far left is coming. The Lincoln Project Team understand that.
This is from THEIR mission statement: “We do not undertake this task lightly nor from ideological preference. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain. However, the priority for all patriotic Americans must be a shared fidelity to the Constitution and a commitment to defeat those candidates who have abandoned their constitutional oaths, regardless of party. Electing Democrats who support the Constitution over Republicans who do not is a worthy effort.”
Further, their web site states: “… sectionalism in the country and factionalism in government has led to ever uglier examples of how our political system is failing. President Donald Trump and those who sign onto Trumpism are a clear and present danger to the Constitution and our Republic. Only defeating so polarizing a character as Trump will allow the country to heal its political and psychological wounds and allow for a new, better path forward for all Americans.”
The have produced some breathtakingly brutal ads that point directly at their problem with Trump and Trumpism: it’s sheer immorality.
Remember as you watch — this is Republicans addressing what other Republicans have done. They’re advising the undecided to vote for Joe Biden not for political reasons but for moral ones.
I repeat: though I have deep and profound issues with Trump politically, my deepest issue with him transcends politics completely. My core issue with Donald Trump (as candidate and now as president) has always been with his total lack of moral character. His sexism. His constant houndogging outside his marriage. His blatant racism. His creepy sexuality toward his own daughter. It almost doesn’t matter what the man’s politics are. Even if I agreed with his politics, I’d object to him as a human being. I am not alone in feeling this way.
I believe (based on copious receipts provided by good, competent, genuine journalists) that Trump and those around him knowingly committed multiple crimes in order to “win” election 2016. One of the protections Trump is hiding behind is that DoJ rule that says you can’t indict a sitting president. THAT is what Trump must avoid at all costs: being indicted.
That’s what every republican has to avoid — the legal consequences of their criminal actions up till now.
You have to have this in your mind when you turn to the future — and what will happen should Trump “win”.
Trump won’t “win”. He literally can’t. He literally never did.
The only way Trump “wins” this election is because he’s stolen it. Again. Trump has no intention of governing this country in the way it was designed to be governed. He and his party are actively engaged in preventing other Americans from voting — because they don’t want those Americans to vote them out of office.
Sorry, that’s not how this country works. Not THIS country, not yet.
This desperation speaks to what will happen when We The People (not the Democrats or Joe Biden) throw Donald Trump and a huge swath of the Republican Party out of power. People are coming out to vote who have never voted before. Young people are voting as never EVER before — and they’re voting, most of them, in one direction: for something and against the other — because of what the other is and not because of its politics.
Donald Trump will get blown out by the biggest margin ever. More Americans will vote in this election than, perhaps in any other election ever. That’s for a reason: the overwhelming majority of Americans are done, done, DONE w Donald Trump and what he’s doing to America.
Joe Biden will win handily. The Democrats will increase their lead in the House and they will flip the Senate. Then, here is what (I predict) they will do
The Democrats will increase the size of the Supreme Court — from 9 seats to 13 or 15 at a minimum in order to make the SCOTUS look more like We The People and less like just one segment of our population.
The Democrats will make Puerto Rico and Washington DC states — giving them two Senators each — helping to bring some balance back to the Senate and how it “represents” Americans and their interests.
The pandemic (as much as the Democrats) will make socialized medicine and universal basic income done deals. They’ll launch a massive infrastructure project even bigger than Roosevelt’s WPA — all in order to help get the economy out of the ditch it’s in — the ditch Trump and his coronavirus response put us and the economy in.
As Joe Biden said, it won’t be up to him what “happens” to any Republican who might have behaved illegally over the last four years, it will be up to a newly rejuvenated Department of Justice — as per our Constitution and the rule of law. If the rule of law dictates the Justice be visited upon all the Republicans now fallen from power then so be it. They knowingly violated the rule of law which is what brought us here. Behold The Day Of Judgment.
In neither case will life go on as it was.
Life will go on but we are about to experience the kind of profound political and social change that followed the Black Death. In the same way that bubonic plague ended feudalism, the coronavirus pandemic will undermine crony capitalism and usher in a more socialistic approach to life and governance.
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 Roaring 1920’s brought economic prosperity to the Western world — until a lot of that prosperity turned out to be phony, crony capitalism — and the world plunged into the Great Depression. These 20’s — the 2020’s — are about to roar as well — but for a whole different reason. The underlying cause is about the same — greed and power lust — but this time with the added weight of racism, bigotry and sexism. All those things have worked in concert with greed and power lust up until now.
The Roaring 2020’s are about to shut that down.
The problem with conservative thinking is that it stifles innovation. Innovation scares conservatives because innovation always takes us forward while conservatives (as their name says) want to conserve — what is and what was. Conservative thinking also stands behind racism, bigotry and sexism. You may disapprove of Trump’s racism — while enjoying your billionaire’s tax cut — but the fact is: if you stand with racists for any reason, it makes YOU a racist. Or a bigot. Or a misogynist.
Or a Republican.
A Great Moral Reckoning is coming. Corruption has had its way with us and we’re both disgusted by it and over it. This toothpaste is not going back into its tube.
The roaring can be heard in our streets, at Black Lives Matter protest marches. It can be seen blazing indignantly in the eyes of Democratic legislators unable to get any sort of realistic, meaningful financial assistance legislation past Moscow Mitch McConnell. We The People are the ones roaring now. We couldn’t wrap our minds around the openly criminal way Trump stole election 2016. At least now a few more people are appropriately woke. They see Trump cheating and call it out.
The only problem — they (and we) have got to stop equating cheating with winning — as if one could cheat to win and get away with it because why not?
Part of our roar needs to be “if you cheated to ‘win” then you did not win”.
Republicans fear our roar more than we know. That’s why they’re so determined to hush it. They know that significant power that still resides in the will of the people.
Until they can finally kill that dead, Republicans will have to play a dangerous game of cat & mouse. In this case though, the mouse has a secret weapon — the Truth — on its side.
When your job is to tell our story in real time, as it’s happening, it’s vital that you know how to frame that story — in real time. If you screw up the framing, you’ll end up telling the wrong story. Our news media can’t ever get the Donald Trump story right because they insist on framing Trump’s story from TRUMP’S point of view. That’d be great if Trump were even semi-reliable with the facts. The fact that he lies about everything — that’s his most prominent feature.
On the one hand, a storyteller SHOULD base their story about this character on the fact that they always lie. On the other hand, a storyteller shouldn’t base their story on this character’s lies as if they were true. Because they’re not — and it skews the whole story away from REVEALING who the character is toward revealing nothing except the depths of the storyteller’s credulity. Trump is not some visionary whose lies are part of some grand vision. He’s just a goddamned liar. He’s a goddamned criminal. His lies are meant to keep him from getting caught. Period, end of story.
You’d think professional storytellers could tell it.
This isn’t every journalist working this beat, but it is most of them. While their dedication to the journalistic ethos of fairness is admirable, they seem to have confused political neutrality with complete detachment. They don’t want to judge whether anyone’s politics are right or wrong. Okay, fine. But, then they go and assume that EVERYONE is being political — “both sides do it”.
Except that’s not true. Both sides don’t “do it”. Example: both sides do not relentlessly try to suppress the other sides voters. Both sides do not approach elections the same way. Both sides do not want every single eligible voter to vote.
When a suppressed voter raises their hand to complain that their vote is being suppressed, they’re not being “political”. They are responding to a political act however. The person suppressing their vote IS acting politically. In fact, the whole point of voter suppression is to undermine the other sides ability to conduct politics. To get what they need from the political process. To suppress a voter is a political act. To defend the suppressed voter is NOT. It’s an act of patriotism actually.
And an act of civil obligation. The vote suppressor is breaking the law.
All this is framing. It’s seeing the story from the neutral perspective journalists aspire to. Real neutrality would involve asking what everyone’s motives were rather than assuming.
What are Donald Trump’s motives? That’s not a hard question. As big a liar as he is, Trump is remarkably transparent. His motives are always right out in the open. You don’t even have to scrunch up your eyes to see them. The trick apparently (to judge by our news media) is in accepting what you’re seeing.
Plenty of journalists HAVE accepted what they’ve been seeing all along: Sarah Kendzior, David Corn, Seth Abramson. Even the former Wall Street Journal journalists at Fusion GPS — the research firm hired by Republican-owned Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump during the 2016 primary season accepted what they saw (after doing their due diligence): that Trump was almost certainly a criminal who’d been laundering Russian mob money through his failed Atlantic City casinos. Some journalists have accepted that Trump is every bit the rapist all the brave women who’ve come forward SAY he is.
Some journalists have accepted that Trump is the rapist he himself says he is.
And then there’s the rest…
The ones who “reset” every day to a bizarre “Square One” where Trump is a “normal POTUS” who ran a normal campaign in 2016, not at all touched by a hostile foreign power actively engaged in an undeclared cyber war against us. That Trump “strategizes”. He’s a brilliant businessman and a master negotiator. He’s a good father and husband. He was a great student. He’s well read. He’s loved and he’s made us more respected.
All because he says so.
There’s a traditional English entertainment that plays at Christmastime called pantomimes.
These theatrical pieces are almost always based on some old chestnut — Cinderella or Puss In Boots. The story’s just a framework on which to hang a somewhat improvised game of call and response with the audience. At some point in almost every pantomime, the bad guy will end up standing behind the Good Guy who’s downstage center talking to the audience.
The audience — since their participation is expected — will tell the Good Guy with increasing desperation that the Bad Guy is behind him. The Good Guy — finally getting the message — turns one way but misses seeing the Bad Guy. He turns the other way — misses seeing the Bad Guy again. It’s maddening of course. That’s the point.
In a panto, it’s also part of the fun. Here in reality though, watching Trump and the GOP stand behind the news media while We The People shout “Look out behind you!” has become part of the tragedy. The news media has become part of the story. That is, their inability to tell the story has become part of the story.
Bullshit and truth are not the same thing. When a reporter, attempting to be “neutral” asks a “Yeah, but what if bullshit was true?” kind of question, they’re giving credence to bullshit. Regular bullshit is bad. Bullshit given the credence of Truth? Oy.
Is it really a wonder why at least a third of America doesn’t know what the Truth is anymore? It’s understood that political actors — Fox News — have made it their purpose to undermine everyone’s journalist credibility including their own. They need “truth” to flow from the top, truth being whatever the criminals running the kleptocracy say it is. Orwell knew what he was talking about. Control the past, you control the future.
The “truth” is, Donald Trump sucks at messaging. That is, he sucks at messaging anything other than what he is — a traitor and a criminal. The bulk of our news media also sucks — at storytelling.
It’s a fixable problem. All they have to do? Open their eyes. Accept what they know and make it part of the story.
Neutrality toward the Truth is not neutrality. It’s journalistic malpractice.
Magical Thinking should have an expiration date — at the end of childhood, say. Or when one turns 18 and votes for the first time.
Alas, that’s not the case. Some people — Republicans — never lose their taste for Magical Thinking. That’s because it’s more than a taste, it’s an addiction.
The reason religious dogma grabs people when they’re young is because that’s when magic still answers questions satisfactorily. Explanations don’t have to line up with facts so long as the narrative captivates. The apostle Paul’s genius — Paul invented Christianity, not Jesus — was to weave Jesus into a vague, mysterious messiah narrative that, if you accept it as “gospel truth”, will allow you to defeat death. That’s what Christianity is selling: eternal life. But only if you believe the ooga-booga lock, stock & two white-or-grey smoking barrels.
Jesus preached a pretty simple message: do unto others. While there was plenty of Magical Thinking in Jesus’s view of the world, his teaching didn’t require any mental gymnastics. One doesn’t have to believe in magic to do unto others. Even if one believed in Yahweh, Jesus taught that one could speak directly to him. One didn’t need the temple priests to do it for you — because they knew the magical code while everyone else didn’t.
Jesus never claimed to be the product of a virgin birth. He never claimed to be the son of anyone other than his actual mother and his actual father. He never claimed messiah-hood. All that magic was imposed on Jesus and Jesus’s story by the early church. The church very effectively disposed of the real Jesus, replacing him with an entirely magical Jesus instead — a Jesus who serves as mascot for their institutions and for Magical Thinking itself.
When people start out believing magic is the answer to our most foundational questions — why are we here and what is our purpose — they’ll favor magic as the solution to those questions. Instead of feeding themselves when hungry, they’ll await manna from heaven. They’ll mistake brain chemistry gone awry for demonic possession. They’ll think the voice in their head is divine and their actions therefore justified (no matter how terrible).
It’s a lot easier to forgive people for accepting magical explanations when their knowledge base is limited. The men who scribbled out the texts that became the OT really didn’t know much. Their world was tiny compared to ours. Most of them never traveled more than 50 miles from where they were born. They had no idea that pathogens existed. Their cosmology was all wrong. Imagine if, instead, they’d had access to telescopes and microscopes and the internet. They wouldn’t have written what they wrote the same way (even if they’d still had the same questions).
We don’t have their excuse. And yet, plenty of people still accept the explanations for basic facts from people who were legitimately ignorant of the facts.
If you accept the Magical Thinking that, say, the bible is the “inerrant word of God” then you will approach your work with that as the basis for all your thinking. If God doesn’t say “Hey, don’t pollute the planet” then polluting the planet is fine. But then, if your Magical Thinking tells you that the planet’s going to turn into some magical garden after Jesus returns, it doesn’t matter what you do to the planet. In your magic-addled mind, magic will fix it all anyway.
Except, of course, no — it won’t. Because it doesn’t exist.
The four days of the Republican National Convention was a study in Magical Thinking Gone Even More Bonkers Than Normal. Not only were masks not required, neither was logic. Or any sense of history — including what’s been happening from day to day. Suddenly Donald Trump’s disastrously inept pandemic response was genius. His racism was the best thing that ever happened to Black Americans. His treason was next gen foreign relations.
Every last bit of data and evidence from the last four years says Donald Trump has been a disaster for America and the non- authoritarian world. It says the rich have gotten exponentially richer while everyone else has gotten appreciably poorer. It says racism, anti-Semitism, anti-LGBTQ bigotry and every other form of hate is on the rise. Only Magical Thinking spewed at Trump campaign rallies and by Trumpanistas on TV says otherwise.
Every time Trump tells a rapturous, maskless crowd that the economy’s never been better, that America’s never been more respected, that he cares about them above all, that every negative word said about him is “a hoax”, we see Magical Thinking at work. The crowd mews approvingly as if the words magically made bullshit true.
What’s worse — the press repeats those words — and the crowd’s mewing response. They don’t frame what’s happening as Magical Thinking so it comes across as just “thinking” — so therefore legitimate. A crowd of rubes getting suckered in real time gets reported as “Trump’s supporters agreeing with his assertions”. It’s Magical Thinking to think that’s what’s happening.
Magical Thinking never ever represents reality. Trumpism’s triumph was getting the news media to report Magical Thinking like it does.