Fascism succeeds, in part, by obfuscation. They deliberately undermine our collective faith in “the truth”, our sense of security and our future then insist they’re the only ones who can fix the mess (they made). But, as chaotic and complicated as this faux-world seems, it isn’t. Republicans are simple creatures motivated by simple things: greed & racism. They saw demographic obliteration in their future and decided to obliterate our democracy instead. The GOP has crossed the Rubicon — from political party to criminal enterprise. Though our news media refuses to see it (they still think both sides “do it”), when people like GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy get up on their hind legs, they’re nothing like “honest actors” having never been honest actors. For reference — Kevin’s known from the get-go that Donald Trump was compromised by Russian money; he said so out loud on June 25, 2016 as he entered a meeting of Republican leaders to discuss the man they were about to nominate as their presidential candidate. “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” Kevin said, “Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”
The math should have worked this way: Stunning Accusation + Roomful Of People = Outrage At The Accusation. Or, Stunning Accusation + Roomful Of People = Demands To Know Where Kevin Got This Idea. Or Stunning Accusation + Roomful Of People = Phone Call To The FBI. It didn’t of course. If anything, the math did the exact opposite. The Republicans who knew or suspected that Trump was OWNED (that’s what being financially compromised means) by a hostile foreign government engaged in cyber war with us chose — per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan to keep this terrible secret a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family,” is how he put a bow on it.
Our story is so much simpler than we’ve been led to believe it is. Hey — math’s a bitch to lots of us. But, when you simplify the math, even the most math-averse among us (me) can see math’s beauty — its simplicity. Math can speak truth like few languages can. For instance: Republicans + Power = Corruption.
Some other examples —
Journalism – Perspective = “Both Sides Do It”
Horrible Voice + Horrible Face + Horrible Person = Ted Cruz
(The Rule Of Law – Equal Enforcement) + (The Constitution – Checks And Balances) + Originalism X (Gerrymandering + Voter Suppression) = Permanent Minority Rule
(Russian Money + Russian Cyber War + Russian Kompromat) + (The GOP + Donald Trump) X (“Mexicans Are Rapists” + “Pussy Grabbing” – “But Her Emails”) + A Cynical News Media That Thinks Both Sides Do It = Election 2016
Any Russian Involvement In Election 2016 = A Fraudulent Election
Donald Trump’s Relationship With Russia + Bill Barr – The Mueller Report = Republican Obstruction Of Justice
The thing about math that math averse people like me have a hard time with is the idea that math has one answer. And yet, where Republicans are concerned, I now see the beauty in the math. It’s as basic as one plus one equals two. Republicans Plus Power Equals Disaster For America. And just like all other math, it’s true today — as it was true yesterday — and as it will be true tomorrow. Nothing about Republicans or Republicanism adds up to anything except corruption.
Yesterday, Lawrence O’Donnell focused a segment of his show “The Last Word” on a tweet thread published by former Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times editor Mark Jacob. Having left the field of “official” journalism — the bubble in which most American journalists live, breathe and work — Jacob has come to see that the neutrality he thought was a hallmark of American journalism was actually a trap. Each and every time a reporter “balanced” something a Democrat said with something a Republican said, they weren’t actually presenting two equally valid points. The mistake “both sides do it” brand journalism makes automatically is in assuming that any two points of view — regardless of what they are — are equally valid even if one is based entirely on facts and the other entirely on feelings. It’s not for the journalist to judge validity, says the “both sides do it” school. That’s for their readers or viewers to decide!
Not a revelation: if you automatically give credence to bullshit, then bullshit instantly becomes credible when credible is the last thing bullshit is. But, if the news media is doing it, bullshit instantly gains at least a patina of Truth. So long as bullshit “could” be true, we’re all doomed. The moment you give bullshit the benefit of the doubt, doubt becomes the core operating principle and doubt is meat & potatoes to a fascist. Fascists, having created the doubt, step forward as its only real cure. That is precisely what the Republican Party is doing right here, right now.
For better or worse, Americans have short memories when it comes to history. At least, white Americans do. Our news media has always serviced white America’s short memory while insisting no other group’s memories (or stories) have equal validity or value. How many white Americans had ever heard of “Black Wall Street” before Black Lives Matter began to matter? Prior to the internet, the only people holding a megaphone were the media companies. They alone had the means to broadcast information far and wide. While there was less competition, at least most of the messages were relatively consistent and kept to a consistent narrative.
The advent of the twenty-four hour news cycle created both a new market for information and a monster. Filling that maw twenty-four-seven is a challenge. Or, at least it was until Donald Trump forced his way into the conversation and hijacked it. Our news media adore Trump. He’s driven their ratings to record levels. He’s made them richer than they were. And, as we all know, success teaches us only that our shit doesn’t stink when, in fact, it does. The word Jacob uses is “lazy”. Success makes people lazy. When you walk in the door lazy — as too many American journalists do, their laziness exacerbated by “both sides do it” thinking — you’re only going to get more lazy with time, as our news media has.
Donald Trump was demonstrably unethical in virtually everything he did and said. Hell, Trump’s projected most if not all of his criminality onto everyone else — a standard bully tactic. According to the Washington Post, Trump lied (or, in the WaPo’s softened version “mislead”) 30,573 times (as of January 24, 2021). You’d think after three or four times, journalists would “catch on” that Trump is “an unreliable witness” even to his own life. If you had even a modicum of analytical skills, surely you’d start connecting dots — adding verifiable information together to form a picture upon which you build an evolving narrative. After about five thousand lies, say, you’d stop giving this liar any sort of benefit of the doubt because the data says odds are, whatever just tumbled from Trump’s mouth, it’s not true. Rather than repeating everything Trump says verbatim — because he’s the POTUS — you’d contextualize this POTUS before any reporting began.
“While most presidents tell something like the truth most of the time, Donald Trump never tells the truth ever — even when confronted with it and — with that in mind — here’s what the liar-in-chief said today…”. Over the top, you think? Maybe in the olden days when Saint Ronnie Reagan was doing the lying. Today? It’s an understatement. Our news media set itself (and us) up for failure the moment they took up the “both sides do it” mantle. But it’s “both sides do it” thinking that caused our news media to quickly normalize “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy-grabbing” because “But her emails!”
Though this conversation was reported first by the Washington Post in 2017, virtually no one in the press has gone back to it — even with the perspective of everything that followed it (including Trump’s “odd” relationship with Putin). The one time the press did ask McCarthy about it, McCarthy issued the standard response: “I was joking”.
Take this to the bank and prepare to get rich: no, he wasn’t.
Not everyone has a sense of humor. That’s a fact. What marks the presence of a sense of humor in people is their ability to laugh at themselves. For real! If you can’t laugh at yourself (but can only laugh at others), that’s not having a “sense of humor”, it’s being a bully. Not the same thing, right? Bullies laugh plenty — but only at other people and at other peoples’ expense. Having no sense of humor, a person like Donald Trump can’t see irony. Literally. It’s like the rest of us trying to see x-ray and gamma ray light with our eyeballs — they’re not equipped to see those kinds of light. So, when a bully like Kevin McCarthy says “I was joking”, he’s not.
Ah, but when our news media assumes everyone’s doing it — and everyone has a sense of humor — then we get cruelty reported as “humor” in the interest of “fairness”. When our news media refuses to discern truth tellers from bullshit artists, we get the distorted view of ourselves the news media presents and calls “truth”.
How one frames a story IS the story. Journalism is storytelling in real time. It’s goal should be exactly the same: to get at the core “why” inside every human action. Even if someone can’t articulate why they do something, there is a very real “why”; no one ever does anything “just because”. Our news media — incapable of adding information to a narrative (especially if it contradicts “conventional wisdom”) keeps returning to a bizarre “square one” every day. Whereas the framing of the story we’re living through should START with Republican corruption front and center — with Donald Trump’s treasonous behavior in the middle of it — our news media starts each day scratching their heads about the perverse hold Trump has over the Republican Party.
Yeah, yeah — Trump’s base plays a part. But that’s only if you discount the possibility that people might do things for the right reasons and not the expedient ones. To understand Trump and his presidency, you must remove your “normalcy bias blinders”. You have to appreciate what Fusion GPS appreciated when — after doing their due diligence prior to beginning their oppo research on Trump (initially for the conservative owners of the Washington Free Beacon) — they became convinced that Trump had used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money (for which Trump was repeatedly fined!) That’s a crime!
Fusion subcontracted their research into Trump’s Russian connections out to Orbis, the company run by respected, former MI6 Russia Desk jockey Christopher Steele because Steele had solid connections inside Russia — the context being that we’re talking about the “secret world” where you have to discern any smoking guns through the fog of deception. If our news media had done the same due diligence Fusion did — if they had aggregated the Trump story (especially their own reporting!) — our picture of Trump would be entirely different from what it is right now. For sure we wouldn’t be asking if Trump’s a racist or a rapist — the facts say “yes, he absolutely is, stop asking about it!”
We wouldn’t wonder “is Trump corrupt?” or “Is the GOP?” We wouldn’t ask why Putin and Russia still have such a grip on Trump and the GOP. We wouldn’t ask “will Trump run in 2024?” like he was some “normal” presidential candidate. Instead — because our news media had been fulfilling its Constitutionally mandated role as our final check on power’s corrupting influence — we’d already be at the part where a treasonous POTUS and his equally treasonous political party were being called out for who and what they really are by our press, while our Department of Justice was actively prosecuting them for same — because what they’re doing is criminal (for a political purpose), not political.
Someone should write a saying about how when people refuse to learn the lessons of history, they’re likely to repeat the same terrible mistakes. Hitler doesn’t become “Hitler” without the steadfast support of German industry. Fascism triangulates politics, business and religion. When Christianity and commerce work together at power’s behest, you get Nazi Germany (and make no mistake, institutional Christianity had zero problem with Hitler’s “final solution”). You get companies like Bayer, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Nestle, Porsche, Siemens and VW benefiting and profiting from SLAVE LABOR without so much as a thought. Every one of those companies has SLAVE LABOR in their past. Sorry, but that’s evil and I’m not entirely sure what any of those companies can actually do to disassociate themselves from the evil they willingly stood with and profited from. Even Jews were pretty quick to forget — as they happily bought Mercs and VWs and BMWs in the 1980’s –that not two generations before, their freakin’ RELATIVES were working for those same damned companies against their will and for ZERO PAY.
For the historical record, American companies also benefited from slave labor or happily did business with a regime they KNEW was authoritarian and repressive. General Motors, IBM, ITT, Standard Oil, Chase National Bank and Coca Cola all chose profits uber alles. A buck was a buck was a buck even if it came from fascists. But, some executives knew that Germany was up to other things than just the war effort. Some business executives knew that Germany had genocide in mind — and willingly helped the Nazis manifest those genocidal intentions.
Deutsche Bank may be one of the most corrupt enterprises ever to blacken capitalism’s eye. Over the course of their history, Deutsche Bank has financed multiple genocides.
That is a true, true fact: Deutsche Bank helped build Auschwitz. Had the Third Reich lived the thousand years it promised, at some point early on, Germany would have repaid its debt to Deutsche Bank plus interest — and that interest would have been Deutsche Bank’s profit from helping to murder 1.1 million people (that’s how many people died at Auschwitz). Do you think that anyone in Deutsche Bank’s executive ranks felt the least regret about said future profits and how they’d be derived?
That’s the problem with corporations. They can be used to magnify a culture’s worst attributes. German culture made what it did to Jews and gay people and Romani people — and everyone it feared or didn’t like — acceptable. The neighborhoods surrounding Dachau (a medieval town inside Germany versus Auschwitz which was based inside Occupied Poland) could smell the human flesh burning in Dachau’s ovens. They had to brush the ashes of those same people from their heads and shoulders. As disgusted as they may have been, they did nothing. Makes one wonder what they were actually disgusted with.
A thousand plus years of evolution from various Germanic tribes into a Germany filled with proud Germans who felt deeply connected to their “German-nss” produced group think and compliance within the group. Sure, sure, there were plenty of “Good Germans” but, either there weren’t nearly enough of them or they simply weren’t good enough. They still turned a blind eye to something happening right in front of them, choosing to “not rock the boat” instead of demanding integrity and humanity from those governing them.
The slow creep of evil is insidious, isn’t it? Did anyone at Deutsche Bank directly murder a single Jew at Auschwitz? Not in the literal literal sense, no. Probably not. Would the Third Reich have looked elsewhere for their construction loan had Deustsche Bank turned them down? Absolutely. And they’d have found someone else to underwrite it all. But, when the very fascistic German government turned to their favorite financier, their favorite financier didn’t bat an eye despite knowing for a fact what ITS money was about to be used for.
Deutsche Bank has blood on its hands and always will. They’re Lady MacBeth to Hitler’s MacBeth and those damned spots will never come out.
When a big corporation like AT&T donates money to individual politicians, it’s doing it with the understanding that that money just bought that politician’s vote. If the corporation doesn’t get what it wants with its donation, if it’s clever, it’ll take its next political donation somewhere else. So, we can assume that when AT&T donates its money to any of the 147 Republicans who still insist that Joe Biden stole Donald Trump’s presidential victory, they are willing to stand by everything that politician comes with. They may pooh-pooh such complicity on their part, but that’s always how authoritarians their own terrible behavior — they see the “greater good” that makes all of fascism’s negatives worth it: the trains now run on time.
Under most circumstances where corporate bad behavior negatively impacts the citizenry, the citizenry can turn to the democracy of the marketplace where they vote with their dollars. In an age of social media where even silly, little kerfuffles can suddenly go nuclear, corporations manage their reputations like hawks mated with Tiger Moms. So — why are they willing to stand — as AT&T does — with politicians who’ve made it crystal clear that they no longer believe in the political system that supports the economic system corporations like AT&T rely on? These foolish corporations are setting themselves up for failure without even realizing it. But then, greed has never, ever, EVER made anyone smarter.
Least of all a “corporation”.
What makes AT&T’s donations to insurrectionists, seditionists and traitors — that is what they are and it is what they will be revealed to be — especially worth note is that the money being used sat, at one point, in the pockets of their customers. AT&T is turning some of its customers’ money against their customers’ own best interests! Any customer still using AT&T therefore (when there is competition) could easily be hurting their own future every time they pay their cable, internet or cell phone bill.
I grew up in the 1960’s in a mostly upper middle class Jewish suburb in northwest Baltimore. Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish that the area — and its Junior & Senior High Schools — were known as ‘Kikesville’, get it?
World War II ended 14 years before I was born. By the time I started attending Hebrew School (beginning when I was 6) , the War was 20 years in the World’s rear view mirror. Most of the War’s visible impacts were long gone. But the scars — they were all still fresh for lots of people. Jews, for instance.
The generation that had been alive during this atrocity now had to inform the next generation that this thing had happened. They needed to tell us because even though the true horror was over, a new ideal had been born from the ashes falling over places like Auschwitz and Dachau and Buchenwald and Treblinka. Jews would never ever go like lambs to the slaughter again. That began with KNOWING that it happened and could always happen again.
It began early — knowing. Keep in mind — these monsters killed children with not an iota of conscience. It became important for Jewish children to understand that they could never be completely safe in this world. You need to have that notion instilled early. If you don’t learn it early enough, you’ll be surprised or disappointed or crushed when someone you care about or who you thought cared about you turns out to be one of them: A Jew-Hater.
Expect to be hated. Have a plan — either to calm the situation down or run for the border — already in mind.
The image that first got inside my head was this one. Jews being arrested in the Warsaw Ghetto, sometime in April or May 1943. I saw that kid with his arms up — his terrified eyes screaming ‘What’d we do? Why us?’ Ironically — though a number of people in this iconic photo have been identified — along with their fate — the boy in the middle — the boy who kind of epitomized how I identified as a Jew — THAT boy’s fate is unknown.
Like a lot of young Jews my age, I identified with that boy. He was me.
The Warsaw Ghetto — as terrible a place as it was — also was the site of the biggest (not the only) active Jewish Resistance. From January to April 1943, the Germans were fired on and killed when they entered the Ghetto. They fired back, of course — in the end, they wiped the Ghetto off the map —
That’s what’s left of the Warsaw Ghetto — 1945. 400,000 Jews were transported out. The Germans killed 35,000 Jews while starvation and disease killed 83,000.
The Will to Fight Back was born in that place.
When I see people like THIS in America — I know where it leads.
What’s truly horrifying — I absolutely believed as I was growing up that my parents and my community were nuts for shoving the Holocaust down our throats. The World my generation was going to re-imagine would never allow such a thing to happen in the future. There’s a reason we don’t let stupid children run things: they’re stupid. And they’re children.
It truly hurts sto see swastikas here and know it’s not an anomaly. It’s who this country is and always has been.
Lesson keeps getting learned: Don’t get too comfortable here. Don’t get too comfortable anywhere…