The Truth Is, America’s Never Actually Been Very Good At “Democracy”

As shocking as it is that we’ve come to this, it’s even more shocking that, to a third of the country, “this” makes them happy. They’re glad America has come to this.

Racists are never going to like Democracy because every election is a gamble — that is, if you let everybody vote. The whole point of voter suppression and gerrymandering is make the gamble almost negligible as a gamble. If less Democratic voters turn out because they 1) couldn’t register or 2) registered but couldn’t spend ten hours in line to vote, that’s as good as a vote against whatever the Democrats wanted. This is not a new game. And though it’s wrong to shame the victim — and the Democrats have always been the Republicans’ victim — the Democrats have known since Nixon (and before) how Republicans ticked. After a while, one has to stand up for oneself because no one else is going to.

On the day he resigned from office because of Watergate, Nixon’s approval rating sat around 29%. His guilt was so undeniable that a delegation of Republicans (including Barry Goldwater — the conservative’s conservative) went to Nixon to tell him he had to resign. That’s how bad it was then. The 30% is still there. They’ve filled out a bit but they’re still very much there.

So, a third of the country couldn’t care less if America sinks into authoritarianism. In fact, they’d celebrate if it happened. With a (theoretical) 70% majority, you’d think the rest of us would have long ago figured out how to keep the crazies in check. But half that 70% doesn’t care about politics (or didn’t). In America, we think 50% – 60% of the voters showing up at election time is success. Hopefully the days of disengagement are over. But, for now, all we can point at is our history.

Come election time, too many of us stay home. In 2016, 138 million of us voted. Unfortunately that was only 56% of eligible voters. That’s over 40% of American voters never showing up to meet their most basic, most important, most innately democratic responsibility as American citizens.

Source: Pew Research Center

Ben Franklin saw us coming. As he observed 240 years ago — Republic’s are wonderful things — if you can keep them. They don’t get kept by accident.

Keeping a republic alive and well is damned hard work. Of all Americans, the people who’ve worked hardest to keep our republic alive are African Americans. They should have bailed on us eons ago. But they understood how important liberty was because they didn’t have it. It wasn’t just a word to them or an abstraction. It was something they wanted above all else. Nothing fancy — just the equal treatment before the law that the Constitution theoretically guarantees.

We kinda screwed the pooch right at the beginning. “All men are created equal” and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. You can’t hold those two ideas in your head and not lose your mind. And look how hard we made it for women to vote. Where’s the “democratic” in that?

The truth is, we’ve always talked a better game about democracy than we’ve ever delivered. Good thing that’s fixable. First thing we need to do is shut up. That is, white men need to shut up. We need to step back from the controls and let others have a go at it. After they finish fixing the mess we made of it, who knows? America might finally live up to its own ideals.

If we followed the lead of African American women especially — they will have been the true saviors of American democracy — we might even get good at democracy eventually. That’s not guaranteed. But, if white men listen — if we let the genius of E Pluribus Unum (that’s what makes America exceptional — diversity, not white guys and their money) wash over us — we might could learn how to be better.

How WOULD America Act If Trump COULD Finish His Authoritarian Coup D’Etat?

We are living through the most jaw-dropping story no writer could possibly write (and get away with). But the rules of storytelling still apply — because storytelling rules are based on how human beings behave. When storytellers get human beings wrong? The people listening to their stories bail. The stories no longer make sense because “nobody acts like that”.

That Republicans backed Trump and Russia (knowing that Trump himself was backed by Russia) would seem strange until you see Republicans in their proper context: a shrinking demographic desperately trying to hang onto political power. Their history of suppressing Democratic voters speaks volumes — the modern GOP has never been “into” actual representative government. That’s why they gerrymander districts. One doesn’t gerrymander so as to better administer to the will of the people, one does it to circumvent their will.

As Donald Trump himself said out loud — when more Americans vote, it’s bad for Republicans. Right — because when more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats — who represent how those Americans want to be governed.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by at least 3,000,000 votes. Without the massive voter suppression aimed at HRC’s voters? That number’s bigger. By a lot. And I will believe Donald Trump won the Electoral College votes of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin & Michigan in 2016 fairly and squarely as soon as we’ve done some real, thorough and serious forensics on both machines (which were all susceptible to hacking) and the impact of Russian propaganda efforts in those states. Remember — we know already that Trump’s 2016 campaign manager handed Konstantin Kilimnik (he of the GRU — Russian Military Intelligence) proprietary polling data from four states (PA/WI/MI and Minnesota) which Russia turned into personalized Facebook ads that turned up on the personal Facebook pages of African American voters in those four states. Think propaganda doesn’t work? Then why do people & countries spend so much money on it?

It’s advertising. It works.

While Americans are slow to anger — it took three-and-a-half years (plus the 400 years before it) for white people to finally get it that enslaving black people is morally repugnant even if all you do is accept it — once we get angry, we stay angry. At least for a while. How long that while will be?

That’s the Undiscovered Country. Americans have never been “occupied” by a hostile foreign power — not since the Civil War anyway. When it happened then? It pissed Americans off. The South hated it when the North invaded and the North hated it when the South pushed as far North as Gettysburg. While the countries of Europe have a long history of being invaded, conquered and occupied (Except for Switzerland maybe) across a thousand years, America (a very new country by comparison) has no such history.

That matters. People in Belgium and parts of France have been run over by Germans or Prussians for hundreds of years. WWI and WWII weren’t unique experiences. The rest of Europe routinely invaded itself or, going back even further, was accustomed to being invaded by Huns or other hostile tribes from beyond the Rubicon.

Americans are used to being the invaders. We DO the conquering, not the other way around. It’s part of our mindset. It’s how we think of ourselves. Which means that what Donald Trump & Bill Barr are trying to pull off in Portland (and now Chicago, Kansas City and who knows what other cities) will come up against not just the peaceful protesters in the street but the idea in their heads that Americans do not get invaded or occupied.

Tear-gassing moms will not convince them otherwise. As happened in Portland — more moms turned out the next night. And more moms after that.

Trump has no choice BUT to try and finish the soft coup d’etat he and the GOP pulled off with extensive Russian help in 2016. In no way did Trump “win” the presidency freely or fairly. We don’t know yet how many Republicans knew this even as they ran for office themselves in 2016, but we do know that PLENTY OF THEM KNEW. “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump” is how current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it as he entered a room filled with Republican muckety-mucks. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan told everyone there they weren’t going to talk about that fact.

Note — Paul Ryan didn’t reply “What? Are you sure about that, Kev’? Quick, somebody, get the FBI on the phone — we have a problem!” No, instead Paul Ryan replied: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

The protesting in Portland has gone on for more than 50 days straight. If Trump tries to put his foot on New York City’s neck — or Chicago’s — or Albuquerque’s — or Oakland’s — or anywhere, he’ll find not just resistance but a citizenry ready to take him on. Even the Republicans see our handwriting on their wall. That’s the handwriting of We The People. The polling indicates no just an electoral blowout coming for the Republican Party but near electoral obliteration.

Even the Republicans who survive the maelstrom will still have to deal with a minimized presence, a wretched brand and an increasingly marginized base that will have been significantly culled by the coronavirus (and their refusal to take it seriously). They will have to deal with an ongoing series of trials that will spell out in graphic detail the extent of Republican corruption. Every bit of regressive legislation they try to push will die on the vine while more and more of their co-conspirators get sent off to prison for the rest of their lives. In the end, even those last few “proud Republicans” will have to re-brand.

The word “Republican” will have been that damaged that they’ll have no choice if they want to have any say whatsoever in our democratic process.

That’s how America will react when Trump attempts to put his jack boot upon us. It will be messy. Trump will do it (he has no choice) and we will not just resist but fight him off completely. We, too, have no choice.

It comes down to this. Trump has it right about what happens when too many Americans get involved in politics. They at least lean Democratic. Democrats are very different from Republicans. For one thing, we do not ever march in lockstep — ideologically. We’re still the unmanageable “rabble” Will Rogers was thinking of when he said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”.

But threaten our rights and we get remarkably organized. Trump and his Republican co-conspirators will do everything they can to get away with this (“this” being election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason). They have no choice. The instant Trump stops being POTUS (and stops being protected by that ludicrous DoJ rule that supposedly says you can’t indict a sitting president), his legal problems will begin in earnest. He will never go another day of his life where he isn’t in legal trouble — or civil. The same goes for pretty much every single Republican.

“See something, say something” is how conspiracy works. Except, with conspirators, it’s “See something, say nothing“. That’s what makes them co-conspirators. Even if you suspect illegal shit is going on? You are obligated to say something otherwise it forces us to ask “why?” WHY did you not say anything about the crimes you suspected were happening?

Trump will not succeed. The Republican Party will not succeed. The best they can hope for is that 30% of the country backs them. Even among that 30%, it’s a pretty small number who will be willing to die for the Republican Party — especially as its callousness puts more Americans in desperate financial straits and the coronavirus’ deadly path.

Know who Trump’s going up against? This little girl. This fierce little girl.

See that fire in her eyes? That’s what’s burning inside a growing number of Americans who don’t want America to go back to how it was.

We want America to finally become the thing it always should have been.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s horse shit. I’m being kind.

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

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

Good luck running on that.

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

This coup d’etat ends now.

Donald Trump Cheated To Become POTUS — Here’s How He Did It

It’s entirely possible that Donald Trump has lived his entire life without ever winning anything either fairly or squarely.

That includes the presidency. I wonder if that’s why he keeps projecting his illegitimacy.

We knew as the results came in election night 2016 that something wasn’t right. Yeah, losing always sucks. But election night 2016 transcended merely sucking. Something deep in our animal nature sensed it. It smelled off. Our animal nature was right.

Donald Trump cheated throughout the primaries and the general election. He had foreign help every step of the way: that’s illegal. It’s also not a question. The Mueller Report (contrary to Bill Barr’s lying) did not exonerate Trump, rather it damned him — and said it could damn him no further because of 1) a silly DoJ rule that says you can’t indict a sitting POTUS and 2) everyone around Trump perjured themselves and obstructed justice so relentlessly it was impossible to fully investigate whether or not Trump’s campaign had cooperated with Wikileaks — a known Russian player.

But, how did they DO it? How did they pull it off? Wasn’t it really “Hillary was a bad candidate?”

Yeah, Hillary Clinton had baggage. She also won by 3,000,000 more popular votes. She probably won by way more — but plenty of Democratic votes never got counted. Plenty of Democratic voters were stopped from voting or their votes were destroyed or not counted.

Let’s start with the voting machines. Nobody knows if voting machines were hacked, manipulated or altered; to my knowledge, no one’s ever done a forensics on the voting machines in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — the three states that handed Trump the victory. We do know that any machine — voting or otherwise — that hooks up to the internet can be hacked.

It’s not a coincidence that all the major manufacturers of voting machines are republican-owned. That’s how Republicans think — it’s multi-dimensional cheating.

To my knowledge, no one’s ever done any forensics on any of the voting machines used in 2016. As far as I know, no one’s even thought of doing it — not in an official capacity that is. But we know that any machine that hooks to the internet is hackable. There are, essentially, three voting machine makers: ES&S. Dominion Voting Systems & Hart Intercivic.

All the voting machines those Republican-owned companies manufacture are as unregulated as the companies who make them. They eschew producing paper trails — you know, those things one could follow to assure oneself the voting machines haven’t been tampered with and their results altered. Why, one must ask, would one not want back up — if only to prove how reliable your voting machines are?

We also know from even recent experience, even if people can get through a five-hour line and vote, there’s no guarantee their vote will be counted.

We don’t know and can’t say whether or not Trump directly cheated by screwing with machines in any way. We do know that Trump cheats. We know that Trump has no compunction about cheating. We know that he cheated in myriad other ways in 2016. We know that all the machine makers are Trump backers — and anyone backing Trump is open to corruption — that’s just a stone cold fact.

We can’t say machines for sure, but we can feel damned good betting the ranch on it.

Second, there was that old school cheating method — voter suppression. We’ll note, going in, that Democrats never, ever, EVER even try to suppress Republicans from voting. It just never happens. Why’s that, do ya suppose? Republicans do everything they can short of a literal poll tax to keep Democratic voters from voting. If Republicans thought the terrified people fleeing north from American-caused drug wars in Central America were reliable Republican voters, they’d limo every last one of them across the border to the American city of their choice, stopping along the way to get them all well-paying jobs, passports and pensions.

Republicans have been suppressing Democratic votes for a long time now. Remember though that (per Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent book “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party”), Lincoln’s Republican Party is not the current Republican Party. The GOP’s mission statement and founding policy positions sound an awful lot philosophically like modern day Democrats. The modern Republicans are more connected to the Dixiecrats — the southern Democrats who harkened back to the Democrats who hated and opposed Lincoln.

Whether it’s picture ID laws or assigning too few voting machines to mostly African American or Latino voting places, Republicans regularly make it hard for Democrats to vote. They must know that virtually none of the voters they’re inconveniencing or preventing from voting entirely are voting Republican. Republicans are inept — except when it comes to getting away with shit.

Gerrymandering was just reaching its zenith in 2016. Wisconsin is so badly gerrymandered that in 2018, Republicans won just 46 percent of the overall popular vote for the U.S. House, but 63 percent of the seats — 5 out of 8. Get that? They won a MINORITY of the votes but got a MAJORITY of the seats? A minority position “became” a majority one — because of gerrymandering. That means the will of the majority won’t be met, it will be contradicted.

Why does that seem so “un-democratic”?

In 2016, old fashioned voter suppression met Facebook. It was love at first sight. Facebook, after all, owed its existence to Russian money. Putin has always had a warm place in his pocket for Zuck & his glorified girl-rating app.

Russia focused its efforts on three states — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — three guaranteed blue states with a combined 46 electoral college votes. After California, Texas, New York and Florida (55 electoral votes, 36 votes, 29 & 29) are the big three. Keep in mind — the Russian play involved lots of moving parts. It was happy to create utter chaos and mistrust in our elections. Scoring the White House was a bonus.

We know these things happened: Paul Manafort handed Konstantin Kilimnik proprietary polling data covering four states: Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. We don’t know what came of the Minnesota data but there’s significant evidence that Kilimnik took that data back to the GRU where the data was “weaponized”. Meaning — it was turned into attack ads that — based on the voter data — went through Facebook directly to the pages of individual American voters — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

That those voters happened to be primarily African American was not an accident. Again — proprietary polling data! They were the point of the exercise. The GRU inundated those Americans’ FB pages with tons of ads about how Hillary Clinton was a closet racist.

The majority of African American voters knew better. They may not have loved Hillary but they were going to vote for her. Except for the African American voters who — seeing the Facebook ads about Hillary being a racist on the down low — let their cynicism take over. Everyone’s a racist, they thought to themselves — and stayed home.

Voter successfully suppressed.

I bet if we did even a little bit of investigating, we could find at least one Democratic African American voter who was swayed by what Manafort & Kilimnik did — and threw up their hands in weary disgust. Why bother? Both sides do it.

Trump won those three states by a combined 77,000 votes.

If we could add back in the suppressed votes (we’ll let go of the machines for now), Trump doesn’t squeak out a win, he loses. Maybe it’s close, but he loses.

On election day 2016, if you recall, Donald Trump had moved to within the margin of error in plenty of places — having risen sharply in the polls after the release of the Comey Letter.

It’s a fact. The Comey letter cost Hillary Clinton the election. The three to four percentage points Clinton lost was all Russia needed to make its various other efforts exponentially more fruitful. The Comey Letter added to the voter suppression going on — and Russia capitalized — pushing toxic Facebook ads and other social media propaganda through to the very last day.

The Comey Letter, if you recall, was all bullshit. Comey naively hoped his letter would explain why a bunch of rogue, Clinton-hating FBI agents in the Bureau’s NYC office refused to answer his simple question posed throughout the summer: were the emails discovered on still another Anthony Weiner computer copies of emails or brand-new emails the Bureau had never laid eyes on?

The rogue FBI agents — all fans of Clinton Cash, the Breitbart-published “expose” about Bill & Hillary — knew the answer to the question (they were copies) but refused to tell Comey. They were waiting — and waited throughout the summer. Meanwhile, backstage, Rudy Giuliani was in contact with the rogue FBI agents. He and (then Utah Republican Congressman) Jason Chafetz began to exert pressure on Comey — to reveal the presence of these new, “possibly unseen” emails.

James Comey wrote his letter — 5 days before election 2016 — to try and head off what Giuliani was doing. Comey was out of his depth. He got steamrollered. So did Hillary Clinton. So did America.

The Comey Letter made every Russian play more viable. It made squeaking out a 77,000 vote victory in three blue states acceptable — if only as a possibility. The Comey letter minimized the amount of cheating required on election day to steal the election.

As we all know, it worked.

Nothing about Trump’s 2016 election was “pre-planned” per se. Russia probably didn’t think it could pull it off until the Comey letter began to hurt Clinton’s numbers.

We know from reporting that no one in the Trump camp expected to win. Melania was especially upset. Trump had assured her it was an impossibility. He must have done because — as we just learned — after the “win”, Melania re-negotiated her pre-nuptial before moving into the White House.

Now that Trump is POTUS, he needs to stay POTUS — from his perspective. He’s already “unindicted co-conspirator Number One” in the Michael Cohen legal case. You just know there are a shit-ton of other legal cases just waiting for Trump to NOT be POTUS any longer — and no longer protected by that ludicrous DoJ rule that says you can’t indict a sitting president. The instant Trump stops being president, his legal troubles begin in earnest — and they won’t stop.

It’s entirely possible — I know my fingers are crossed — that Trump could lose every building, every hotel, every golf course he owns and end up either living in a cardboard box on the street (sweet!) or a federal prison for the rest of his life (sweeter!) He deserves to lose everything. The pain from that experience should endure as long as Trump lives.

I’d even be open to keeping Trump alive by whatever means possible — zapping his bloated orange chest with however many volts it takes to bring him back — just to keep in prison that much longer.

The good news is, Trump’s not having the easy time he had in 2016. Most of the American public grasps who Trump is now. More and more of us grasp that he’s not now — and has never been — the legitimate president of the United States.

We see him for the racist con artist and traitor that he is.

Elections Are Either Free & Fair Or They Aren’t

Without gerrymandering and voter suppression, America’s true political map would look significantly different than it does now.

Example – Texas, where Republican gerrymandering has given blue-as-can-be Austin more Republican representation than Democratic. In Austin, gerrymandering is literally circumventing the will of the people — exactly as designed. That IS the point of gerrymandering — to give a minority of voters a way to take and keep power from the majority indefinitely. I guess if you could do that with the quality of your ideas, you would…

Without voter suppression, Georgia would now have Democrat Stacy Abrams instead of Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s former Secretary of State.

Among the reported irregularities — 3,000 people were wrongly flagged by the state as being ineligible to vote prior to election day and, then, another 53,000 voters had their registrations delayed by Kemp’s office without adequately notifying the applicants. Can you guess how many of those 56,000 voters were either African-American or Democratic? How about pretty much ALL OF THEM.

The final tally gave Kemp the win by 54,723 votes. If (and we don’t know) every one of those suppressed, uncounted votes (and Kemp’s Georgia Department of State’s got some integrity issues) had been votes for Stacy Abrams… well, you see how that works? If Stacy Abrams had won by ONE VOTE, then she would be governor now and corrupt-to-his-toes Brian Kemp wouldn’t be.

One vote CAN make a difference and sometimes, ONE VOTE absolutely does. “Every Vote Counts” is not bullshit. It’s a verifiable fact. There’s data that says it’s a fact.

In a “Free And Fair Election”, every vote gets counted. No one would do anything EVER to dissuade another voter from voting. THAT would be seen as 1) anti-democratic and 2) anti-American. And yet… American elections are rife with one side (and it’s ONE SIDE ONLY — both don’t do it) doing everything in its power to dissuade, disincline and prevent the other side from using its right to vote.

When you screw with another American’s vote, you’re screwing with their rights. And when you screw with another American’s rights, YOU’RE BREAKING THE LAW. Not sort of breaking the law, BREAKING THE LAW.

Our slippery slide down the slope to corruption began the instant we first compromised The Rule Of Law. The moment we stopped practicing The Rule Of Law evenly across the board, we hurt it. We undermined its integrity — and once a thing’s integrity is gone, it’s just a matter of time before rot completely destroys it. We have two sets of rules. One for Rich White Guys and one for everyone else (assuming the everyone else is People Of Color).

But, what if Charles or David Koch (back from the dead) were to show up at THEIR polling place only to be told “Sorry, dude — your name’s not on the list”? Would either Koch Brother stand for such a thing? Of course they wouldn’t. They’d be on the phone to their high-priced lawyer before the polling place worker had finished their sentence. The law would be rewritten on the spot.

They’d vote and their vote would be counted. Probably two or three times even just because.

But, of course, in reality, such a thing could never, ever, EVER happen. The circumstances could never exist where a rich, white, Christian Koch Brother — reliably Republican — would have have HIS right to vote challenged or questioned or abridged or compromised or withheld in any way, shape or form.

And THAT is at the very heart of the problem. It’s the Koch’s manipulating everyone else’s vote, right to vote, ability to vote or means to vote either directly by their actions or indirectly through their money. Has one dollar of their money ever found its way into a voter suppression effort?

That’s one dollar too many. Same token — if just ONE VOTER is prevented from voting because of bullshit? That election can no longer claim to be “free and fair”.

There’s no “magic number” of acceptable suppressed votes. A suppressed vote is not an abstraction if the vote is yours. It’s a very real denial of your most fundamental right as a citizen. In the face of that denial, the question must be asked: WHY?

Why is MY right to vote being denied me?

Like I said — that’s a question Charlie Koch will never have to ask himself.

Republicans Are The “Mission Accomplished” Party; That’s Great Until You Realize What Their “Mission” Is…

Who can forget W aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, May 2, 2003 – proudly proclaiming just what the banner behind him said: “Mission Accomplished”.

That image haunted W’s presidency.  It haunts him to this day because nothing had actually been accomplished.  The only thing they’d succeeded at, mission-wise, up to that point was successfully hanging that banner without anyone getting hurt.

Like everything else Republicans say, “Mission Accomplished” was marketing, no more honest or genuine than Mitch McConnell insisting Merrick Garland couldn’t get a hearing because “the American people needed to make the SCOTUS choice, not the president who they’d overwhelmingly returned to office”. That WAS what Moscow Mitch said with as straight a face as he could muster.

And yet – when it comes to “Mission Accomplished”, Republicans have actually succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.  The America being torn apart right now is the America Republicans want.  We are living in their “Mission Accomplished” – or, to be accurate, “Mission NEARLY Accomplished”.  Republicans can see Permanent Minority Rule from their house now.  They ache to get there.

This is how close Republicans are now to accomplishing their mission –

  • PACK THE COURTS — Moscow Mitch denied Obama dozens of lifetime court appointments.  How strange that all those vacancies started filling the moment Trump became POTUS.
  • How strange that Merrick Garland couldn’t get a hearing while Brett Kavanaugh skated despite overwhelming evidence he was unworthy to hold the judgeship he already held.

  • PROHIBIT NON-WHITE IMMIGRATION – Children in cages, anyone?

  • DESTROY THE ENVIRONMENT – We left the Paris Accords.  Ryan Zinke.  The end of clean water, clean air, National Parks.  Life as we know it.
  • MAKE THE RICH RICHER & THE POOR POORER – Tax cuts for the rich, bullshit & lies for everyone else.
  • INSTITUTIONALIZE RACISM – “Decent people on both sides”.
  • MAKE GERRYMANDERING PERMANENT – Twice as many Democrats as Republicans have to vote in order for their majority to actually feel like a majority.  The whole point of gerrymandering is to CIRCUMVENT the Will Of The People.  Welcome to Republicanism.  Can’t win on the law, can’t win on procedure, so pound the table into sawdust instead.
  • ENFORCE PERMANENT MINORITY RULE – Remind the class – how many more votes did Hilary Clinton get over Trump?  3 million plus, was it?  Remember – that doesn’t include all the uncounted, provisional, suppressed, flipped & tossed in the trash ballots.  Think any of those were Republican votes?
  • DESTROY OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH ALL ALLIES – The knife-wound in the Kurds’ back is still fresh enough we can watch it bleed.
  • MAKE AMERICA A RUSSIAN SATELLITE STATE – How about that: “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”!

Corruption, Thy Name Is GOP

Politics is the art of compromise. Republican politics is the art of making compromise unnecessary because the other side is powerless to stop you.

To the GOP’s credit, they saw from a distance that they had a problem and actively did something about it. Post Reagan, as America’s demographics trended with greater rapidity away from old, Christian, white male power, the GOP — the party of old, Christian, white male power — made a conscious decision to undermine the growing majority’s political power.

Behind everything, of course, is The Money. Money always wants to protect itself — and make sure that whatever else happens in the world, IT always “is”. The rich intend to stay rich. To do that, they must retain power. To do that, GOP Money like the Kochs & the Mercers have invested heavily in politicians like Moscow Mitch McConnell. Mitch understands his role completely. If doing everything in HIS power to keep his real constituents IN power means the Republic itself dissolves into an authoritarian hellhole? That’s okay to Mitch.

It’s okay to entire Republican Party — because THEY get to hold onto power forever — regardless of how small a minority they become.

Mitch & the Republican Brain Trust understood that the Executive Branch was probably gone forever — unless the Electoral College could be more fully manipulated. Keep in mind — the whole point of the EC is to over-empower rural (slave-holding, conservative, white Christian) America while under-powering urban, populated, more diverse and therefore more progressive America. Republicans have been working to suppress black and Latino voters forever and ever and ever.

Ask yourself — if all those immigrants fleeing (American-caused) drug violence were reliably future Republican voters, would Republicans oppose their humane treatment as they do now? Of course they wouldn’t! If Republicans thought Puerto Ricans were reliable Republicans, Puerto Rico would have been a state yesterday.

For all the Republicans’ constant hang-wringing about election fraud, the only election fraud going on is perpetrated by Republicans.

Mitch & Team Treason knew — while the Executive Branch could always be within reach (via cheating), they couldn’t count on it.

They also recognized that the Legislative Branch was going to be hard to control. The Senate would be easier because, by design, it’s meant to empower the minority over the majority. Wyoming has the same power in the Senate as California does. That’s stupid. But, again, it was a system designed by white, Christian men who never imagined a modern Republican Party.

The House of Representatives was the Lost Cause. It is, after all, the Peoples’ House. Still, the Republicans had a tool in their belt — GERRYMANDERING. While Democrats also have been guilty (I grew up in Maryland), they’ve never been guilty to the extent the GOP’s been guilty. Not even close.

No, both sides don’t do it — not like this. The whole point of gerrymandering is to undermine the will of the majority by diluting it. That’s why we get districts that look like mindless doodles. They’re not mindless. They’re designed — to over-empower the Republican voters and under-empower the Democrats.

Again, to the GOP’s credit, they did their homework. Back during the Reagan years, they attacked local power structures all over the country. They ran for and won school boards and city council seats and statehouses. It wasn’t so much that they appealed to huge swaths of voters — they didn’t. They appealed to the voters who showed up — theirs. The ones who were motivated to show up — because they had a larger agenda.

The effects of minority rule are insidious. When the majority feels like their votes and their voices don’t matter, they stop voting and voicing their opinions. That’s the point — to make the majority feel powerless.

Republican Politics.

Between gerrymandering, indirect voter suppression (voter ID laws meant to make even getting ID hard) and direct cheating (working with Russia to win 2016), Republicans have taken corruption to places corruption probably never thought it would rise to. To maintain power, they’ve committed to destroying the Republic if that’s what it takes.

To maintain power, Republicans will do WHATEVER it takes. You can’t GET any more corrupt than that.

Dear America: We Are Living Through World War III And Don’t Even Know It

Anyone who thinks it takes bombs and bullets to win a war will lose every single war they ever wage going forward. Right now, that would be us — still thinking that Donald Trump is anything other than a literal weapon, fully loaded and pointed directly at our heads.

If Russia wanted to (hell, a bunch of countries could probably do this — Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Israel), they could shut down our electric grid today — and leave us in the dark, disconnected from the internet and social media and our lives. We’d sue for peace in a heartbeat. That’s a whole war waged — successfully — without a single shot being fired.

We know for a fact (it’s in the Mueller Report and it’s part of the reason he eats prison dinner every night) that Paul Manafort gave Oleg Deripaska (oligarch & “Pal O’ Putin”) proprietary polling data for Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan & Pennsylvania. We know for a fact that that polling data was processed inside the GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) then weaponized — and returned to those states (PA/WI/MI especially) in the form of highly personalized Facebook ads that showed up (especially) on the FB pages of African American voters.

The point of the exercise is voter suppression — the use of propaganda to dissuade a voter from voting. Every voter dissuaded from doing their duty as a citizen (think ANY of these voters vote Republican?) is as good as a vote for their opponent. The fact that such activities aren’t already massively illegal is a testament to how much Republican corruption we’ve already normalized and how deeply institutional racism runs.

Like the skilled cold warrior he is, Putin knows how to make big plays in the secret realm that, strangely, never get any attention.

I’m not the first or only person to see us living in a second Pearl Harbor — in the hour or so before 7:15 when the Japanese Imperial Navy arrived and started attacking us. That however is a painfully ironic description of where we are. Putin & Russia have attacked us from the worst possible direction — from within.

Being unable to beat us economically or technologically — or even ideologically (since Putin’s only ideology is greed, power & corruption), Putin, calling on his mad intelligence officer skills, has declared war on us in the only way available to him — via espionage: info war, cyber war.

We don’t know yet the full extent to which our very perceptions of election 2016 were colored by propaganda, misinformation and disinformation originating from outside the country (Russia but also Saudi Arabia, Israel and who knows where else). How much Hillary Hatred was actually Russia?

As its first act of open war on us, Vlad Putin took the truth out back and busted a cap in its head.

It’s incumbent on us — if we want our Democracy back — to finally see the war that’s been declared on us in secret for the war that it is. More important? We need to see all the Fifth Columnists & outright TRAITORS who’ve thrown in with our enemies — because they saw that as a cynical pathway to permanent power.

I’m talking to YOU, Moscow Mitch McConnell.

That’s the other painful irony — it isn’t just enemies from without who’ve declared war on us, there’s an enemy within. The Extreme Christian Right and its money — Kochs, Mercers et al — saw that the demographics were going to mean an eventual end to their hold on this country. They declared cultural & political war on the majority — and, using gerrymandering & voter suppression, have done everything they can to install permanent minority rule — THEY being the minority.

That, too is undeclared war. It doesn’t make it any less real — or its effects any more painful and permanent.

Donald Trump Is The American Caligula… That’s Not A Good Thing

Not A Revelation: Donald Trump thinks he’s King… or, in German — “Kaiser” — the Germanification of the name “Caesar”.

But Donald Trump is such an incompetent, that he can’t even get being a “Caesar” right. He’s gone and modeled himself after another Roman emperor — Caligula.

We keep reaching for the words to describe our times — times that are increasingly indescribable. The word Michelle Goldberg used today is perfect (until the Trumpanistas surpass it): “Debauched”. We live in Debauched Times because the man occupying the White House is a modern, Adderall-huffing, bloated orange Caligula.

Donald Trump has destroyed every bit of common decency we ever associated with ourselves. While the real Caligula probably wasn’t anywhere near as insane as the Caligula in our imaginations (his enemies wrote the histories), the more we experience Donald Trump and his myriad debaucheries, the more we have to look at Caligula and ask “Okay, but what if he really was that bad?”

In addition to killing everyone he feared (including the men who put him in power), Caligula declared himself a god. He replaced the heads on the statues of gods all around Rome with his own head. Most famously, Caligula wanted to make his horse consul. Between and around all that, Caligula epitomized debauchery in every form. If it felt good to him, he did it.

Or, as Caligula himself put it: “Remember that I have the right to do anything to anybody.”

That sounds almost painfully like “I alone can fix it”.

Just as Caligula debauched (and debased) an already debaucheded Roman society, so too is Donald Trump taking our worst instincts and feeding them Trumpian steroids. We stand by, watching (disapproving — horrified even), but, in fact, doing nothing to stop it while the debauchery continues unabated. We have blown past moments of what should have been end-of-the-line absurdity — images that previously would have defined a presidency and ended it on the spot —

Instead, these images have become shards in a massive mosaic that, if you look at it one way, looks exactly like Donald Trump. But, if you turn your head and look at it slightly askew? You see the deeper problem within: Massive, systemic, foundational REPUBLICAN corruption.

This shouldn’t be a revelation (though it apparently is — and that’s horrifying): Our problem isn’t Donald Trump, it’s the whole damned Republican Party. It’s the 1% trying desperately to make minority rule (by them) a permanent fixture of American political and social life. They have already hijacked the judiciary (that would be Mitch McConnell denying Merrick Garland or any Obama judicial appointment a hearing then cramming every doctrinaire conservative shithead into the openings deliberately left behind). They’ve already used two stolen SCOTUS seats to make political gerrymandering a permanent fixture — thus putting the legislative branch in their clutches forever.

Democrats may win the overwhelming majority of the votes but gerrymandering dilutes those votes down to where a handful of Republicans can beat them. With the legislative branch permanently in their hands, the executive is easy — especially when concurrently you’ve been remaking the presidency as a side show Caesar-ship. Just not the right Casear…

Conservatism Is A Disease – It Says So Right In Its Name…

Though the word “liberal” has a long history, it’s too malleable, too easily redirected in the current vernacular where words have been unmoored from their meanings. That’s what LYING does. I prefer the word “PROGRESSIVE” to describe my politics because, in a culture where getting people to read a goddamned tweet is a challenge, billboarding your meaning is just plain more efficient communication.

We don’t have to guess what progressive politics want to accomplish: PROGRESS.

By the same token, we don’t have to guess what “CONSERVATIVE” politics want to accomplish. It’s right there in the name: conservative politics want to conserve WHAT IS or, more often — what WAS. Conservatives want to live in the past. They want to resist change — progress — any & every way they can. Progress is their kryptonite.

Why?

Well,m who ARE conservatives in America (and most of Europe)? They’re white people who want to CONSERVE the white world they came from. Our multi-ethnic, multi-racial world (where women have an equal say) is completely antithetical to them. They want to shove all the toothpaste back into the tube. As if anyone could.

But this is really the world conservatism wants to drag us back to — an empty toothpaste tube — recognizable but empty with absolutely no future (except perhaps as garbage). In order to accomplish this end — regress — conservatives need to step in progress’s path. Being a minority position — an increasingly minority position — conservatism has resorted to outright treason (on top of gerrymandering and voter suppression) to maintain its weakening grip on power. When electoral politics no longer work for you, what else are ya gonna do?

Conservatism — once the supposed bastion for lovers of the Rule Of Law — is now where liars and con men go to piss on the Rule Of Law instead. The Rule Of Law, conservatives now see is a roadmap to their own extinction. So — like a virus, conservatism now seeks to infect America — like a virus — bent on turning us into it. Conservatives will now try to shove their DNA back into America like toothpaste that will never ever get back into the tube.

It’s all well and good for the toothpaste. Our problem is we’re the tube.