If You Want To Know What Donald Trump Will Do Next, You Have To Think Like A Criminal

Here’s a basic storytelling rule of thumb: good people behave like good people and criminals behave like criminals. That’s how storytellers signal to their audience that the story they’re telling takes place in a world we all recognize. Now — if it’s a good story, the good people may turn out to be criminals and one or two of the criminals may turn out to be good people. But, we’ll see all that in the context of the story. Actions and thoughts will tell us who the real good people and criminals are just before the final fade out. Regardless of who turns out to be what, when the full picture is revealed, good people will have behaved like good people and criminals will have behaved like criminals.

Donald Trump is a criminal. Being a rich, white guy, we shrugged off Trump’s pre-POTUS criminality in real time, letting him repeatedly piss all over us. When the Washington Free Beacon hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Trump back in the early days of the 2016 campaign, Fusion started its work by first getting its hands on every piece of publicly available material about Trump. Books, magazine and newspaper pieces, TV and radio appearances — everything. Their due diligence — the work they did BEFORE actually starting the work — convinced them (Glenn Simpson, Fusion’s co-founder testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017) that Trump had strong ties to Russian gangsters and likely laundered their money through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos.

That’s why Fusion hired Christopher Steele (and his company Orbis). Steele had excellent contacts and sources inside Russia, having run MI6’s Russia desk.

To see Donald Trump as just a “different kind of POTUS” (as many in our news media still do), is to see Al Capone as just “a different kind of businessman” or Pol Pot as “just a different kind of politician”. Yeah, okay — you could say that and you’d be right, but… it’s kinda beside the point. But, if you don’t see Trump as a criminal — either because you truly don’t see him that way or because you refuse to — then you are reporting on a Donald Trump who doesn’t actually exist except maybe inside your head.

Example — NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell. She seems like a very nice person. That very nice person should find another line of work. She’s not particularly good at journalism — all her awards be damned. Kelly is a lipstick-wearing steno pad. She thinks “journalism” is repeating back the words people speak to her. But Kelly doesn’t leave it at that — just repeating, say, what Donald Trump says. No, Kelly goes the extra mile. She “characterizes” Trump’s bullshit — she “puts it into his voice” — speaks what she insists is Trump’s thinking behind it all.

Oh, FFS! Kelly’s a nice person — we all agree. Donald Trump isn’t. He’s a rapist and a racist and a bigot and a serial adulterer and an abusive parent and a criminal and a traitor (that’s just for starters). His thought process doesn’t work the same way Kelly’s does. He doesn’t justify himself to himself the way Kelly justifies herself to herself. So, when Kelly applies how SHE thinks to how Trump thinks — it’s completely wrong. The person she’s describing — Trump on the outside, Kelly O’Donnell on the inside — DOES NOT EXIST except in Kelly’s soft, mushy mind.

Kelly’s not the only offender here. It’s the rare working journalist who’ll put themselves inside Trump’s head. “We can’t know what he’s thinking,” they insist — as if Trump’s own words, whole PATTERNS of thinking and the assurances of those who know him weren’t enough to convince THEM. FFS — in a civil trial, all one needs is 51% certainty to win and what is the news media if not a court of PUBLIC opinion?

In most talking head panels, they’ll allow for 90% of the spectrum of possible explanations for Trump’s behavior. He’s completely innocent is at one far end. But, look to the other far end — it’s not there: that’s the missing 10% (generously assuming that total innocence and total guilt are equally likely when only total guilt actually is). Think about that — these conversations between serious people will allow that Trump could be completely innocent but completely guilty? No way! If you can’t allow for the possibility that Trump is 100% a criminal — and does what he does BECAUSE he’s 100% a criminal — then when you put yourself inside his head and (try to) stare out into the world through Trump’s red-rimmed eyes, you’re mis-reporting it. Hell, you’re not seeing it, period.

Want to know why Trump will do anything and everything to stay POTUS for the rest of his life? HE’S A CRIMINAL! He’s been protected all this time by that ludicrous DoJ RULE (it’s not a LAW) — put in place to hinder Nixon and Agnew! Without it, Trump would have been indicted eons ago. Team Mueller would NOT have felt constrained; they held back accusing Trump because that same rule prevented Trump from, in essence, defending himself. A technicality has kept the most corrupt president in the country’s history in power.

If you think of Trump that way — desperate to avoid testifying under oath because you will perjure yourself because you ARE a stone cold criminal and a traitor — then his behavior isn’t mystifying at all. The dots all connect and the picture you get is complete and logical. But, as we know — it ain’t just Trump.

Our news media scratches its head even harder when it tries to make sense of Republicans. “Why, oh why do Republicans go along with this madness?” our press asks itself. They all must be terrified of Trump. Terrified of his voters. Yes and yes. But it’s bigger than that. Prison is the bigger motivator — fear of going to prison and dying in prison. The split second Trump has a legal nightmare, so will virtually every single Republican — because that’s how conspiracy works. See something, SAY something. See something, say NOTHING? An actual journalist should ask “WHY?” Why say nothing? Who are you protecting?

The Republicans knew even before the 2016 convention that Trump was dirty. But then, they were already dirty, too. That’s why then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan admonished the meeting of muckety mucks to stay silent on the matter of “Putin paying Rohrbacher and Trump” by “keeping it in the family”. Sounds like a mafia family, no?

It’s the storyteller’s job to keep the heroes and the villains straight inside their head. To do that though, you have to have a deeper grasp of who they really are. You have to look past the icing and dig into the cake beneath. Imagine you’ve just taken a mouthful of rotten cake — made even more horrible because the icing was so pretty. No projectile vomiting allowed! Now — describe the taste in your mouth.

I bet the only thing you say about the icing is how deceiving it was. Now, please — go on! Tell us how terrible that cake tasted and still tastes. Tell us how you might never get its essence out of your mouth or senses even. Finally — how do you feel about the baker? Put yourself inside HIS mind as he concocts the flavor he intends to fool you into tasting.

I always wonder this about Kelly O’Donnell. If Trump (because he’s Trump) said “I know for a fact that Kelly O’Donnell eats children!”, would Kelly faithfully report it even though she’s pretty certain that she doesn’t eat children and never has? Or would Kelly — as she always does — repeat the words simply because Trump said it?

I betcha Kelly would (finally) draw a line. I bet that she’d (finally) step outside of her ivory tower of “both sides do it”. She certainly wouldn’t put herself inside Trump’s thought process so as to personalize WHY he thinks Kelly does this terrible thing because, she’d know, every thought she’s attributing to Trump is utter bullshit.

Isn’t perspective funny, that way?

Our News Media Should Begin Every News Broadcast With A “Previously On” Segment So Even THEY Know The Story AS IT IS Already

What is it about returning to “Square One” every day that America’s news media finds so alluring? It’s as if, in their heads, even after the Red Wedding, they all keep waiting for Eddard Stark to reappear in the story. If our news media had been doing its job correctly, our starting point every day — in the Donald Trump Presidency story — wouldn’t be “a different kind of POTUS running a different kind of presidential campaign”. It’d be about a stone cold TRAITOR, surrounded by co-conspirators, stumbling through their coup d’etat’s death throes. That IS the story that we’re starting with TODAY, Election Day 2020.

The genius of a “previously on” segment in a story is that, with a few quick reminders — visual and auditory — most of what’s gone on BEFORE this episode started gets re-established in the audience’s mind: here’s what you need to know NOW if the next part of the story’s going to make any sense to you. Of course, “previously on” assumes the audience is up to date enough with where the story is that these quick reminders will set up the next part of the story. That assumes, of course, that the storyteller is up to date. Our problem, here in America — our storytellers don’t seem to know much about the very story they’re reporting on!

I watch a lot of news. I don’t watch so much “for” the news (that’s what Twitter’s for — even the news networks keep their fingers on that pulse), I watch (through metaphorical fingers) for how the news networks report the news. I’m a storyteller by trade and nature. So are journalists — they’re real-time storytellers. Regardless of whether you tell stories in real time or with a little hindsight, the rules of storytelling are the same. If you want to do it correctly, every scene needs to add new information to what we knew in the previous scene. Even if it’s to subtly shade a story nuance, a scene must add something or it doesn’t belong. It’s telling the audience something it already knows.

Why, we have to ask, is the storyteller doing that? For the benefit of the story? No. For the benefit of the audience? No. They’re doing it for their own benefit — because they need to keep reminding themselves what the story is. And, if you’re telling a story this important to the Commonweal and the greater good? You had better deliver your A-game. Alas, that is not happening with most of our news media.

That’s the frustration a lot of us have felt all along as we watch this story unfold — and as we watch the news media struggle to tell the story. Their audience is often miles ahead of them. Now, to be fair, a news audience doesn’t have to maintain the journalistic standards journalists must to maintain their integrity. Me? I can spew anything I like, supported or unsupported. I’m just a guy with an (informed) opinion.

But, that informed opinion is informed mostly by the news media’s reporting. I’ve been aggregating the story all along in my head. You know — “keeping track of it”. Following the characters as we learn more about them — seeing how both they evolve and our understanding of them evolves. Kinda like how Fusion GPS started with one view of Donald Trump — before they began the oppo research the conservative, Jeb-Bush-backing Washington Free Beacon hired them to do in the leadup to election 2016 — then switched to another view of Trump after their due diligence turned up surprising information about him. As Glenn Simpson, Fusion’s co-founder, explained in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017, Fusion’s due diligence amounted to getting their hands on every piece of publicly available Trump-related material they could from newspapers, magazines, the radio, TV or anywhere.

The reason Fusion contacted Christopher Steele — to help answer some of the questions their due diligence had raised — was because Steele had the best contacts inside Russia of pretty much anyone outside Russia. Fusion was adding information to the story and using it to constantly update their idea of Trump, who he is and what he’s really up to.

On the other side of that equation is our news media who, to this day, continue to scratch their heads, mystified by Trump and his “different kind of POTUS” behavior.

You know what the news media should have been reporting every day? That Donald Trump is the FIRST PRESIDENT EVER to run for re-election HAVING BEEN IMPEACHED — for CHEATING in the very election he’s now running in. And everyone with a double digit IQ agrees that the Republican-led Senate failed to live up to their oaths of office by not even having a real hearing to address the charges.

Think of everything we KNOW about Trump. Think of the cruelty. Of the sexual predation and rape. Think of the cheating on his wives. Think of the racist business practices. Think of the consistently suspicious behaviors — now outed as outright crimes. Think of all the Constitutional violations that, for some reason, we’ve decided to ignore. Think of all the dubious if not downright treasonous relationships Trump has with authoritarian rulers and thugs. Think of what Trump (and Jared Kushner) pal Mohamed bed Salmon did to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Think of this photo (with Trump’s literal “face of treason”) —

Real journalists like Seth Abramson & Sarah Kendzior, working outside institutional journalism, have produced work — using the news media’s own product — to aggregate the story of a criminal coup d’etat by Donald Trump and the Republicans. This is not some imagined fiction. There are receipts FFS. Mountains of them. Hell, we watched treason happen — live and on TV. We’re still watching it today as Donald Trump takes a sledgehammer to what remains of our electoral process, all at the service of Vladimir Putin.

Except this time, just enough of the press is woke — and plenty of the electorate — to move first and protect ourselves. You see, we’ve been aggregating the Trump story. We’ve seen him lie 30,000 plus times and now assume he always lies; it’s incumbent on Trump to PROVE he’s NOT lying. Imagine if the press did that!

Imagine if, during even one news conference, one member of the press — in response to Trump spewing lies at them — had said “I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll need to back that statement up or it’s bullshit”. You don’t ask a liar to explain their lie, you TELL the liar their lie is a LIE. You do NOT give the lie credence.

See the difference? Even if you think the lie’s a lie (inside your head), you’ve asked the question in a way that gives the liar latitude. “Explain” assumes there’s something TO explain. Beginning with “that is a LIE” instead, puts the lie front and center as the status quo. The lie is the one thing we know for a fact. The liar is completely on the defensive and the one arrow in their quiver has no point.

There’s one basic rule of thumb when chasing rabbits. Do NOT follow them down their rabbit holes. Wait for them to re-emerge THEN whack-a-mole them.

As we begin Election Day 2020, the “previously on” segment should have made voting — for those NOT in the Trump Forever 30% — a no-brainer. After all, why would any self-interested person vote for someone as selfish as Trump whose interests begin and end with himself? They wouldn’t.

That’s the story.

Dear American News Media: America Needs YOU To Do Better

The last four years turned me from a news consumer into a news junkie. I bet I’m not alone. In fact, I know I’m not. But, let’s be clear: the fix I’m after isn’t “news”, it’s Truth. They aren’t necessarily the same thing. That, right there, is our problem. It’s why I watch the news so obsessively now — not because I need them updating me but because I feel compelled to point out every time they confound “spouting information” with telling truth. In the age of Trump, every piece of information spewing from people notorious for lying should be seen as suspect first and true only after rigorous examination.

And, by the way? Both sides don’t “do it”.

First problem? The apparent inability to AGGREGATE information the way storytellers are supposed to. Information from one scene gets added to what we know — and that information directs us toward more questions which, in turn, produce more information that adds to what we know. Except that process has broken down with our news media.

The moment Donald Trump insisted that “Mexicans are rapists”, the correct response from our news media shouldn’t have been “Oh, well — we guess he’s just a different kind of presidential candidate”, it should have been “Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist”. Everything they reported after that fact would have built upward from our FIRM KNOWLEDGE (based on Trump’s own words!) that Donald Trump is a racist.

Every story about Trump thereafter should have included the background that everything Trump said or says is in the context of “he’s a racist”. But, because we allow racists to decide whether or not they’re racist, Trump got to claim HE was the “least racist person in the whole world”. Oy.

See how we let a racist determine the context — to the detriment of the story and our ability to understand it? Imagine, if you will, how different a place we’d be in today if we WEREN’T still debating (if the news media wasn’t still debating) whether or not racist Donald Trump is a racist or not.

If you can’t aggregate simple, evidence-based information into a narrative, journalism (storytelling in general) baffles you. Find another line of work.

Once the news media started down the “He’s just a different kind of POTUS” path, they were lost. “He’s a different kind of…” is what a journalist says to affirm that they’ve normalized what should never be normalized.

They did the same thing with pussy-grabbing, preferring to chase “But, her emails” instead. Keep in mind the perspective: pussy-grabbing plus 20+ accusations of rape, sexual assault and indecent behavior. It’s what real storytellers call CONTEXT.

Quick reminder — when Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017 (the Republican-led committee was desperate to undermine the Steele Dossier’s integrity), he described Fusion’s process after they’d been hired by the conservative-run Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump. The very first thing Fusion did, Simpson testified, was their due diligence. They got their hands on every piece of publicly available information about or by Donald Trump — newspaper stories, magazine articles, Howard Stern appearances, TV interviews. They visited Amazon and used book stores. They even went to the public library looking for publicly available material.

What Fusion found — in publicly available material — convinced them that Trump had been involved with criminal behavior for years and that he’d likely laundered Russian mob money through his (now bankrupt) Atlantic City casinos. In other words, Fusion found enough evidence of criminal conduct that they felt compelled to do MORE research. By then, Jeb Bush (the Free Beacon’s choice) had dropped out and Democrats backing Hillary Clinton were paying Fusion’s fees. The whole reason Fusion sub-contracted the Russian part of the oppo research out to Christopher Steele is because he’d run MI6’s Moscow desk and had top tier contacts inside Russia.

Until Fusion hired Steele, they were doing something every news organization could have done on their own, by themselves: due diligence. Like Fusion, THEY could have gotten THEIR hands on every piece of publicly available material on Trump. Like Fusion, THEY could have met the minimal obligation before beginning their formal work of reporting on Donald Trump.

Except they didn’t.

Steele’s work product is raw intel — and needs to be understood that way. That’s just context. Take away the context and Steele’s product becomes “unverified” meaning “probably untrue”. But, raw intel is all about context. There’s rarely a smoking gun but there can be the preponderance of the evidence. Plenty of smoke flows from that.

Lacking context and convinced that “both sides do it”, our news media has spun a relentless false narrative flowing from the mis-reporting that “Trump won in 2016”. We will arrive at this conclusion: take away intense voter suppression in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin (the product of Paul Manafort handing Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data from those three states plus Minnesota) and the Comey Letter 10 days before the 2016 election and Trump’s not close enough for the machine flipping operation.

Remember — Trump won by a combined 77,000 votes across those three states in order to secure the Electoral College votes. If Trump committed treason to win those three states (and win the election) then he did not “win”. Cheating to win can NEVER equal winning. Committing treason to win — that should go double. We KNOW for a fact that any voting machine that connects IN ANY WAY to the internet is hackable. We KNOW these systems have been hacked and are still being hacked. The reason vote-by-mail horrifies Trump and the Republicans in this election is because their whole cheating op is based on using disinformation to foster low turnout by disenchanted voters. Then, with the race inside the polled margin of error, the hacking op can flip or add just enough votes for the result to look dicey but within the margin of error and therefore “possible”.

Also remember — Trump asked repeatedly — OUT LOUD — for Russia to help him. Also remember — Trump was impeached for doing the exact same thing with the Ukraine except in THIS election. You know, the one he’s currently running in?

That fact alone seems not to have been aggregated: Donald Trump is the first (and only) president to EVER run for re-election having been IMPEACHED for cheating in the very election he’s running in. You’d think that fact alone would keep the news media actively engaged. You’d think an impeached president running for office — while STILL cheating — would be grist for plenty of great, Pulitzer-worthy reportage.

And yet…

None of us wants the news media to fail. On the contrary, we NEED the news media to succeed. That’s why it breaks our hearts when most of them continue to trip over themselves daily. It’s not just personal failure they’re courting as they try to disentangle themselves from themselves, it’s our collective failure they’re flirting with. Their inability to see the larger story is going to kill us.

The first trick with helping an alcoholic or a drug addict is getting them to SEE their own weakness. There’s nothing wrong with having weaknesses. It comes with being human. But we don’t have to be prisoners of our weakness. We CAN overcome them with a little, um, due diligence. The news media needs to acknowledge that it HAS a problem: a lack of perspective born of a failure of imagination.

Our news media still can’t “imagine” the enormity of Trump’s crime. Therefore they under-report and normalize what they see. A talking head round table might examine all the possible explanations for Trump’s behavior. They’ll ALWAYS include the possibility that there’s some innocent explanation (he’s just a “different” kind of POTUS). They’ll NEVER include the opposite possibility — that Trump is guilty of criminal behavior; he’s a “different” kind of POTUS all right, just not in a good way.

These are all fixable. But, like a good 12-step program, freedom from addiction starts with acknowledging that one HAS an addiction.

One last suggestion to help our news media (especially televised news media) be all they can be. Forget about primping before you go on air. Spend more time prepping instead. Got that? “Prepping Instead Of Primping”.

What’s your size, American News Media? I’ll put it on a t-shirt for you…

When This Is All Done, Can We All Agree That Anyone Who Says “Nobody Coulda Seen It Coming!” Is An Idiot?

Nobody coulda seen a worldwide pandemic coming? Wrong. People like Laurie Garrett have been predicting it for years. Nobody coulda seen Donald Trump coming? Oh, please.

Fusion GPS c-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Intel Committee in August 2017 about what happened when Fusion did their due diligence before commencing the opposition research the Washington Free Beacon had hired them to do on Donald Trump. Simpson testified (to a Republican-led committee trying to undermine the Steele Dossier’s integrity), that what they found in publicly available material convinced them that Donald Trump had laundered Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos — which was why they sought out and hired Christopher Steele. Steele — former head of Britain’s MI6’s Moscow desk. No one had Steele’s contacts or deep background knowledge of how Russia worked.

Chris Steele certainly saw Trump coming. Even after no one was paying him anymore, Steele was still desperate to get someone — anyone — to look at his work (including, I bet, the very people who’d just hired him). It was Steele’s persistence that (eventually) got his raw intel into the hands of the late Senator John McCain.

Plenty of people saw Trump coming — and accurately predicted what would be the outcome of having Trump (literally) occupy the White House.

And nobody saw the explosive rage against racism coming? You’d have to be blind or conservative to think that way. This has been coming at us since the Republic’s founding because we thought slavery wasn’t heinous enough to banish from our shores. We compromised with evil. It was only a matter of time before the costs came due.

“Nobody coulda seen it coming” is what lazy-assed people say to themselves. It’s absolution by ignorance — and it’s bullshit.

In Essence, Donald Trump’s Just A Glorified Car Thief — Who’s Stolen America’s Car

Something I struggle with daily is our news media’s raging inability to tell the story we’re all part of. Had our main stream news media not normalized “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy-grabbing” in favor of “her emails”, we might not be at the precipice right this second. To Donald Trump’s infinite credit, he has the innate ability to ID the most susceptible to his perverse brand of bullshit and then sell those rubes as much bullshit as they can swallow. He’s always known the majority of the press are among those rubes — and he’s played them accordingly.

For reference-sake: back when the GOP-dominated House went after all attempts to investigate Trump’s 2016 campaign and its deep involvement with Russia, they went hard after the Steele Dossier of course. They were desperate to undermine its integrity. One has to wonder why… . The GOP hauled Glenn Simpson, one of the founders of Fusion GPS, the oppo research firm that sub-contracted out to Christopher Steele, before Congress to answer “tough questions” about why Fusion was investigating Trump and his campaign.

Simpson described how Fusion — being pro’s — did their due diligence before beginning their work in earnest. They got their hands on every piece of publicly available material about Trump — every book, every magazine or newspaper article, every TV show or radio interview, every burp or fart Trump committed in public, Fusion got its hands on it. What they found there (Simpson testified) — in publicly available material — so concerned them that they hired Christopher Steele (former MI6 Russia desk guru) to investigate further; Steele, it was agreed upon, had excellent sources inside Russia. Fusion saw money laundering. They saw corruption. They saw criminal behavior.

They saw a car thief.

Maybe our news media’s problem is they just can’t wrap their heads around the enormity of the crime we’re talking about here. It’s epic in its evil. It’s unthinkable. And yet it is. They did it. It’s a fact. Donald Trump and the Republican Party conspired with Russia to pervert the outcome of now multiple American elections. Their intention: to get and hold onto political power forever — in defiance of the wishes and will of the American electorate. It’s as bad as bad can be. Worse even.

But let’s see the crime more metaphorically. America is an amazing car that everyone wants to drive around in. It’s crazy with innovations. It’s fast, too. Big, of course, and roomy. But there are rules to how you get to drive this car. For starters, the car belongs to The American People.

We allow special people — people we vet — to drive the car for four years at a time. If they treat the car respectfully, we’ll let them drive it around for another four years. But, first they have to earn the right to drive the car. Driving the car, you see, comes with rights. And privileges.

And responsibilities. We make you take an oath about how you’ll drive our car. It spells out how important it is to us that you drive our car responsibly and not like some asshole out for a joyride.

If you go through the vetting process to the American Peoples’ satisfaction, we’ll hand you the keys — with the understanding that the car is NOT yours — it’s ours and we retain the right to take back the keys if you violate your oath to drive our car responsibly.

Donald Trump didn’t do that however. Donald Trump pretended to go through the vetting process. But even as he took part in the vetting, Donald was talking to his Russian pal Vladimir. Vlad has always coveted our car. He knows he can’t drive it — but he’d like to have influence over whoever drives our car. If Vlad had influence over the person driving America’s car? He could get them to drive the way Vlad likes, going places Vlad likes, running errands Vlad wants run.

Vlad saw a way to control how America’s car gets driven by getting Donald Trump to do his dirty work. Trump — with Vlad’s help — figured out how to STEAL our car. For real! Vlad figured out how to go around our car’s security system. He even found a way to start the car without the keys. We had another driver in mind for the next four years — a lady named Hillary.

Instead, on the day we intended to hand Hillary the keys, we walked out to the driveway to find our car stolen.

The car was out there all right — but Donald Trump was sitting behind the wheel. Donald insisted he’d done all the vetting properly — and even paid for the car. His friends all agreed. Nothing untoward here. The car, Donald & his buddies all insisted, was legally Donald’s. He would get to drive our car around for the next four years.

From the moment Donald slid behind the wheel, we felt weird about the whole thing. Donald never acted like he had any experience with a car like ours. He didn’t seem to care to be taught HOW to drive it around. He was convinced that however he drove the car — that was how the car was supposed to be driven.

And if the car broke down — which he insisted it was doing repeatedly (though we didn’t seem to think it was happening), he alone could fix it.

So, we’re standing there — in our driveway — staring at the street where Donald is sitting behind the wheel of our car. “You never earned the right to drive our car,” we insist. Donald grins sheepishly for a second then catches himself. He doesn’t have to “earn” the right to do anything. He’s a Trump.

Donald lays on the horn. The car is his, he insists.

“Can we see the papers then?” we ask — “Show us the bill of sale & the new registration so we can ascertain that indeed you are the car’s new rightful driver. Instead, Donald drives off — with our car — laughing as he pulls away, revving the engine too high.

Fearing for ourselves and the car, we call the cops. Problem is, the head cop — guy named Bill Barr — is a good friend of Donald’s. He insists Donald didn’t steal our car and therefore won’t press charges against Donald. In fact, Bill insists that Donald can do whatever he likes with our car. He can drive it dangerously. He can replace all the good parts with crap. He can sell off parts to his friends — or let his friends drive around in it — or drive it even.

Turns out, just after Donald stole the car, he wasn’t even behind the wheel most of the time. Vladimir was. That’s the most worrying part of it. All this time we thought Donald was driving our car? It was Vladimir — and Vladimir is dead set on wrecking our car. He won’t disable it; we’ll be able to drive around. But no one will want to drive our car anymore — the way they all did. They won’t even want to see it near their driveways. Or in their neighborhoods. Or zip codes even.

Donald Trump intends to make our car his forever. He intends for our stolen car to stay stolen. Forever.

What If The Truth Is We CAN’T Handle “The Truth”?

A core question we each have to wrestle with: what’s our personal relationship with “The Truth”? You know what I mean — the TRUTH: the stuff we know about ourselves (being ourselves) that no one else could ever know or will ever know. The stone, cold TRUTH we all know down deep. Who we really are, what we really want, why we’re really miserable.

Now let’s talk about the Truth we’ll talk about.

We can all see the scene in our heads. Still — it’s so compelling — let’s watch it together:

Great speech. It perfectly encapsulates the yin-yang of what we wish it took to have order and what it really takes to have order.

The Truth, in sausage terms: no one ever walks away from a sausage factory feeling good about sausage.

A couple of cold, very hard Truths are staring us in the face as we all sit here: Donald Trump is a flat out traitor. That’s A Truth. Serious people loathe to even think the word “treason” have entertained the idea that Donald Trump isn’t some hyperbolic traitor, he’s a very real one. They’re not doing that because of politics. They’re doing it because of treason.

There’s a strange thing the news media does along these lines. In their need to be even-handed, letting their readers decide, they’ll give Trump the benefit of the doubt (still) that everything he does has some actual relationship to his being president — ignoring that he’s never, at any time during his presidency, acted “presidential”. Trump is always reported as if yesterday’s outrages, like those from the days before, never happened. He woke up this morning a normal potus doing normal potus things.

Except, of course, he didn’t. Still — of the three possibilities that could explain the past 3+ years — he’s completely innocent is one possibility. In the abstract.

Second possibility: He’s kinda guilty — some combination of bad intent and stupidity that explains away continuing acts of criminal behavior and obstruction of justice. From an odds point of view — you’d at least figure the explanation for everything could live here. In quasi-guilt.

But there is a third possibility — the one our MSM won’t ever go near — even though it’s very definitely a possibility, too: Donald Trump is completely guilty.

Let’s pretend this was a murder instead of treason. Let’s say Trump actually shot one of his supporters — just like he keeps promising to do.

We have Trump saying he could do it. We have the murder weapon. We have Trump’s bloated, orange fingerprints all over the weapon. We have a murder victim. We have everything we need to say a crime was committed. But our MSM would look at all the evidence and insist no one could know for sure if a crime was committed or even if the dead guy was really dead.

What’s wrong with the Truth?

That’s what every day feels like. Turn on the news — hear Trump’s latest treasonous behavior — hear the news media act as if Trump’s just a slightly unusual potus being potus in a slightly unusual way. No — that’s not it at all. He’s not unusual — he’s a criminal who didn’t “win” an election, he got Russia to steal it for him. Literally.

When Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson was called before the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee (August 22, 2017 — they were trying to undermine the Steele Dossier but failed), he described how Fusion, before getting too deep into the oppo work the conservative, Jebb Bush-supporting Washington Free Beacon had hired them to do, did its “due diligence”: they got ahold of every piece of publicly available material on Donald Trump — be it book, magazine, radio interview or TV appearance. They got it from Amazon, from used book stores and even from Amazon. What Fusion found there — in material anyone could get their hands on — convinced them that Trump had been laundering Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos. That, Simpson testified, is why Fusion sought out Chris Steele, former head of the Russia desk at Britain’s MI6.

The Truth has always stared at us with a moon face: Trump is a traitor. He’s a criminal. So’s the rest of his family. So’s the rest of his administration. How much criminality does one have to witness, read about or have rubbed in one’s nose before you’re allowed to fight back?

Okay — the Truth is: Donald Trump is a traitor who betrayed the nation. The Truth is without Russia’s direct assistance, Donald Trump is not POTUS, Hillary Clinton is. Let’s start there: Donald Trump is not now and never has been the legitimate POTUS. If it violates the Rule Of Law to cheat to become POTUS then Trump’s cheating disqualifies him.

If Trump cheated to become POTUS then he won nothing. Having not won the presidency, he was never authorized to 1) take the oath of office or 2) execute any part of his Constitutional because he wasn’t POTUS. Trump had no more right to pick judges than I do. He has no more right today. He’s not actually POTUS.

The Rule Of Law is pretty simple in its fundamentals: It either is or it isn’t. You can’t have 90% of the Rule of Law (what would the other 10% be — organized chaos?) just like you can’t have 90% of your integrity. Is v isn’t.

If the Rule Of Law IS then The Truth is even that much more important. It’s the one thing we should all be able to agree on.

America won’t like any of the Truth they’re about to hear about Donald Trump. It won’t get any better than it already is.

But I bet America handles the Truth about Trump just fine. It won’t make us happy — not one bit. But we’ll batten down the hatches. We’ll handle the Truth about Donald Trump just fine. For sure, We The People will handle the Truth far, far better than Trump will.

Why Do Journalists Think Americans Can’t Do Two Things At Once?

I don’t know about you, but my life’s complicated. My days are complicated – usually because I have more than one thing to do.  Being an adult with a little life experience under my belt, I’ve learned how to multi-task on a macro level.  For instance: I can earn a living AND raise a family – both at the same time!

The way our MSM seems to think of us, we can only focus on one of those two things.  Either we’re going to worry about getting and keeping a job or we’re going to worry about having kids and getting them into adulthood in one piece without killing them. Good thing we’re all equipped to do both.

Are journalists incapable of doing two things at once?  That’s the impression they give when, Chicken Little-like, they run around squawking that the Democrats can’t impeach Trump for high crimes, misdemeanors, extreme corruption & treason while also governing.  If those journalists would put down their smart phones for two seconds and looked at the world, they’d SEE Democrats passing legislation (that Grim Reaper Mitch McTreason proudly kills) while also actively investigating the most corrupt POTUS in the Republic’s history.

Frankly, I wonder sometimes if most journalists can even do ONE thing at a time (that one thing being JOURNALISM).  That Donald Trump is corrupt and a criminal with deep ties to Russian mobsters should not be a surprise.  In fact, THAT should have been our collective starting place for Trumpism – it is nothing but a criminal enterprise, a mom n pop money laundering shop..

When the Republicans first tried to undermine the integrity of the Steele Dossier, they hauled Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017, Simpson testified about Fusion’s process.  Fusion was hired initially by the Washington Free Beacon, a right wing publication whose owners were Jeb Bush fans to do oppo research on Trump.

Simpson explained how Fusion first did their due diligence.  They got their hands on every book, every magazine article or newspaper story, every TV show, every interview, every snippet of video with Donald Trump’s face in it and they read or watched it.  They got it from Amazon and used book stores and ebay and even the Public Library.  The picture of Trump that emerged from all this publicly available material convinced Simpson that Trump was a long-time criminal who’d used his Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money.

That, Simpson explained, was why they contracted out to Chris Steele, former head of MI6’s Russia Desk.  No one in the west knew anywhere near as much about Russia or had the network of connections that Steele had. 

Due diligence shouldn’t be seen as “extra credit” that journalists can take or leave.  Due diligence provides not only background but context.  Due diligence provides perspective.

Having perspective allows you to see a subject from multiple points of view – not as in “everyone has an opinion”, but as in seeing the WHOLE picture (or as much as one can), one can see much more clearly what is and what isn’t. 

That’s really the question.  WHY doesn’t our press have the necessary perspective to report the biggest story any of us will ever be part of? 

When we get to the post mortem part of the exercise, in addition to examining how the Republican party became this corrupt, we’ll need to inspect how and why our news media repeatedly normalized not only immoral behavior but outright CRIMINAL behavior.

We The People will have to do two things at once.  Imagine.

America’s News Media Failed America The Same Way Their Imaginations Failed Them

Failure of imagination is a very real thing.  We’re living in its shadow so it must be real.

Remember the fable about the ant and the grasshopper?  The Grasshopper’s happy because there’s food aplenty right now so why not hang out?  Why work like the Ant is — gathering food for the winter?  The Grasshopper’s problem isn’t laziness.  When he needs to eat, he’ll go eat.

His problem is he can’t imagine that there’ll be a tomorrow — and tomorrow, he might NOT have all the food he has now.  The Ant almost can’t deal with what “is” he’s so obsessed with what might be or could be his future.

When the talking heads on pretty much any American cable news show start yammering away at each other — wondering why, say, Donald Trump has such a beta dog relationship with Vlad Putin — they’ll entertain the possibility that they don’t know why it is.  They’ll also entertain the possibility that it’s completely innocent — so they’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

But there’s a third very distinct possibility in the mix that keeps getting short shrift or NO shrift:  Trump kowtows relentlessly to Vladimir Putin because Putin owns him outright.  Though Lawrence O’Donnell was forced to retract his single-sourced story last night that Trump hides his tax returns to hide the fact that Russian oligarchs co-signed his Deutsche Bank loans — it was too soon to report it (that’s what we’ll have to live with until it’s fully proven) — no one is saying or thinking “Gosh, I wonder if that means the whole story is screwed up!” 

When Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson testified before Congress (remember when the GOP was trying to undermine every bit of the Steele Dossier’s integrity?), he described how Fusion, upon being hired to do the oppo research on Donald Trump (hired, remember by the conservative Washington Free Beacon, Jeb Bush supporters), they first did their due diligence.  They got ahold of everything they could that even just mentioned Donald Trump in passing.  They got & read every magazine article, newspaper article, saw or listened to every radio and TV interview.  To find that material, Fusion did what any ONE of us could do all by ourselves — they bought, rented, borrowed from the library.

What Fusion found, doing its due diligence, convinced them that Trump had been mixed up with Russian mobsters for years.  And, being good journalists by training, Fusion grokked that if Trump was messing with Russian mobsters, he was likely dirty as hell.

So, Glenn Simpson testified, they hired Chris Steele to do the deep dive because no one had the Russian bona fides that Chris Steele had — he was the Russia desk at MI6.  Steele’s integrity as an investigator was well known to American investigators including the FBI.  The FBI had hired Steele when they after FIFA’s Sepp Blatter for corruption.  They knew Steele was a pro. Everyone did.

That America’s news media still can’t handle the Steele Dossier — most don’t get how different the intelligence world is from the “real” world.  The idea of “raw intel” freaks them out because it’s so grey and their world is so black and white.  Intelligence analysis requires Big Picture thinking.  You have to see what’s there knowing a whole lot of the picture is missing.  You’ll never “see it” but you’ll need to know what it probably is; you’ll have to IMAGINE IT.

That’s the leap most American journalists can’t seem to make.  Maybe their Normalcy Bias Blinders are bolted on too tightly. 

More likely they simply lack the imagination to think of it — until it’s already happened or happening.  Then, what a coincidence, it’s the most natural thing in the world to them.

Our news media’s lack of imagination (best expressed by the question “What do YOU make of this?”) has metastasized into an outright cancer.  The preponderance of the evidence says Trump’s a liar — our news media still faithfully report every word he says without prefacing it with “This is probably a lie but the POTUS said it so we’re telling YOU what he said”.  The preponderance of the evidence says Trump’s a racist — yet our News Media still asks if Trump is a racist; they’ll even report him insisting he’s the least racist human on the planet with a straight face. 

The preponderance of the evidence says Trump’s a rapist and a thief and a fraud.  The preponderance of the evidence says Trump owes Vlad Putin big.  The preponderance of the evidence says Trump and his whole corrupt family are traitors.

We will get there — to the Big Reveals.  One way or another, we’ll get there.  And each time, huge swaths of our News Media will be shocked to their socks by the revelations.  They shouldn’t be shocked.

They wouldn’t be.

If they had any imagination.

When The Time Comes To Give The American MSM Its Report Card For Reporting On Donald Trump – They’re Going To Fail – MISERABLY

Living inside a slow motion train wreck is wearing us out. We can see the catastrophe we’re heading toward. We can see what’s driving us there. But we can’t seem to find where the brakes are — or how to put our foot on them. A big part of what makes the experience so agonizing is the empty-headed way most of the news media has reported and continues to report this story.

Granted — we’ve never had a president before whose election would never have happened if not for the direct actions of a hostile foreign power — our main nemesis no less. Granted, we’ve never had a political party seemingly without any sort of moral compass whatsoever — whose sole mission is to get and hold power forever regardless of the fact that they are a shrinking minority. Granted we’ve never lived through a cyber war before.

The fact that none of those things have happened before should inform how we see, think of and report TrumpWorld. One way — the way our news media did it — is to shrug it all off with “he’s a different kind of potus”. He “speaks his mind directly”. He “goes with his gut”. That is all bullshit. There’s no such thing as “just different”. There’s a reason under-girding “different”: Donald Trump (like the rest of his family) is a CRIMINAL.

At this late date, that shouldn’t be a question. The only reason it is — our news media sucks. Back during the 2016 campaign, conservative web site The Washington Free Beacon hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Donald Trump. Fusion was co-founded in 2011 by Glenn R. Simpson, a former investigative reporter and journalist for Roll Call and The Wall Street Journal; Peter Fritsch, former Wall Street Journal senior editor; and former Wall Street Journal journalist Thomas Catan. Meaning — Fusion had rock solid investigative bona fides. They weren’t pikers — and they weren’t raving leftists either.

On November 14, 2017, Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Republicans — in total control of Congress at the time, remember — were trying to undermine the integrity of The Steele Dossier. They wanted to show that Fusion was biased; after the Washington Free Beacon stopped paying for Fusion’s research (March 2016), the law firm Perkins Coie, on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, retained Fusion to continue digging into Trump. But Simpson’s story didn’t go along with the GOP’s bogus narrative.

Simpson testified that the first thing Fusion did was its due diligence: they got their hands on every bit of publicly available material on Donald Trump.
They got ahold of every book, magazine or newspaper article, every radio or TV interview. They went to public libraries, scoured book stores and the internet. They looked at everything they could — and what they saw clearly in that publicly available material convinced them that there was enough evidence of Trumpian criminality (money laundering especially via his failed casinos) that it warranted hiring Christopher Steele to do further research.

Chris Steele’s bona fides were equally rock solid. He ran MI6’s Russia desk because he had rock solid contacts in Russia. No one in this part of the equation was doing anything nefarious. They were concerned professionals who’d stumbled upon some terrible truths — and wanted to know HOW true they were.

Fusion GPS and Chris Steele would both get A’s if we were grading them. Well-deserved A’s.

Everything I just wrote is true. It all exists in the public record. I’m just a guy tapping away on his keyboard. The American news media is supposed to be in the business of doing this as part of its standard operating procedure. Doing research should be as automatic as breathing to a journalist. That’s research on both the micro and macro levels. As much as journalists need to get all the deep-down details they can, they need to contextualize those details.

It’s all very good to know everything about one grain of sand. That knowledge becomes almost useless however if you’ve no idea on what beach — in what country, on what continent — that grain of sand sits. Our news media suffers from that exact lack of perspective. They love to bore in on the poll numbers (as useless as they are this far out) and the horse race even as the race track burns down around them.

The main culprit — no revelation of course — “both sides do it” journalism. When every opinion has to be met with its diametric opposite (regardless of its actual validity), bullshit gets a place on the talking heads panel. Perfect example — climate change. When the MSM puts a climate scientist next to a climate denier on its air — in a 50-50 shot, they are making the false (visual) statement that these two positions are total equals. It doesn’t matter how much bullshit the climate denier spews, it will play as legitimate — because that’s how the visual language works.

When two unequal points of view get reported as equal, a false narrative begins — and begins by completely mis-framing our political debate on the subject. No wonder nothing gets solved. We’re always focused on problems that don’t actually exist.

Instead of informing its audience, our news media continues to obscure the truth. They seem incapable of adding information as they get it — then using that new information to expand our knowledge base — which they should use to continue building the story. But our MSM never adds information to the knowledge base. They keep ignoring what they know in favor of what they knew. They keep going back, in essence, to Square One.

Lack of perspective is one thing — willfulness to avoid having perspective is malpractice. How do you explain a Kelly O’Donnell? NBC’s White House reporter, Kelly’s not an amateur. She’s been working a long time as a journalist. And yet… Watch any of her stand-up — any — and Kelly will demonstrate a shocking lack of perspective. She reports what Donald Trump says as if you could take every word to the bank.

We know that’s not true. But there’s Kelly — steno pooling whatever Trump said as if it formed the basis for how we should think of the world — never mind that it was framed by a liar, a thief, a traitor.

Kelly’s not alone. That’s the massive problem. There are isolated journalists doing yeoman’s work everyday to try and enlighten their own fellow journalists as well as the larger audience. It’s physically painful to watch a Chris Matthews talk over David Corn because Chris can’t see the bigger, darker picture David is talking about. Chris still thinks — all evidence to the contrary — that Trump has a strategy — that he’s every bit the master of industry Mark Burnett says he is.

It physically hurts, I tell ya.

What won’t hurt is giving the MSM the grades it deserves. We’ll accept that the “good ones” will have been filtered out. Joy Reid gets a good grade. Rachel Maddow does and Lawrence O’Donnell. Ari Melber flirts with good grades but he has a bad habit of asking “benefit of the doubt” questions that flirt with absurdity. That only ever gives bullshit credence — it’s a bad habit, Ari. Trust me on this.

The valedictorian of the class — A+ all the way — is Nicolle Wallace. Her show Deadline White House is consistently smart, biting, deeply skeptical and funny. The big irony — Nicolle was a lifelong Republican until the Trump Age. Her fidelity to Truth in the Trump Age gives me hope. It pains me however when Nicolle hands MSNBC’s air over to Chuck Todd.

Then I’m reminded — the whole rest of the class gets an “F”. A giant “F” — for failure… and feckless… and futile… and flawed… and “for what?”

If you want to be journalists, BE JOURNALISTS. If you just like being on television — go away. Let me revise that: Take your “F” and go away.

Connect-The-Dots For Dummies

I should be sympathetic to our over-burdened Mainstream News Media. How do you cover a story that’s always in Breaking News mode? Maybe part of the reason the story’s always IN Breaking News mode is because the American News Media lack the perspective to see the picture their dots are connecting until the very last dot gets joined in. “Oh, hey, look — It’s an elephant!

If CNN or MSNBC (broadcast news media show significantly less perspective than their print journalism) had been able to connect the dots about Donald Trump sooner, the Republic might have been spared this extended moment of Imminent Demise. We literally teeter on the precipice because our News Media 1) accepted and normalized Donald Trump’s racism, sexism and bigotry, 2) refused until it was undeniable that Donald Trump had an unsavory relationship with Russia, 3) remain blind to the possibility that the GOP’s loyalty to Trump has less to do with party & more to do with all the Russian money they’ve taken in (plus the likelihood that there’s blackmail aplenty keeping them in line), and 4) suffer from an extreme case of normalcy bias that blinds the MSM to how much THEY themselves have normalized what should never have been normalized.

It’s not that all the pieces haven’t been there. Fusion GPS was the business intelligence firm (run by former Wall Street Journal writers) that got hired (initially by the conservative Washington Free Beacon) to do opposition research on Donald Trump (the Free Beacon’s owner was a Jeb Bush supporter), the first thing they did, according to Fusion founder Glenn Simpson in his Congressional testimony was their due diligence. They got ahold of every piece of publicly available material on Trump. They went to libraries. Spent money on Amazon. They watched video and listened to radio appearances. What Fusion found — in publicly available material — convinced them that Donald Trump was a criminal who’d laundered Russian mob money for years. So, Simpson testified, he contacted Chris Steele — the former head of MI6’s Russia desk.

Any of the rest of the American press could have done similar due diligence. Having that info at their fingertips would surely have informed their reporting. Donald Trump was never a “different” president (a ludicrous assertion to begin with; no one – NO ONE – does things because they’re “different”), he was and is a criminal. Criminality and the desire not to get caught were and remain his motivations.

Seen from thirty thousand feet (a favorite media expression), the picture the dots form (should) become apparent. Yet the overwhelming majority of American journalists still seem incapable of imagining such a view. In part, I suspect, it’s because they get so focused in on the story they were covering; that’s a very good thing.

But then they forget that their story isn’t THE story, it’s part of a much larger story — with connections to lots of other stories. Maybe a better analogy would be a mosaic. Journalists like MSNBC’s Ken Dilanian bore in so deeply into their PIECE of the mosaic that they can no longer see that it’s just a piece of a larger picture — and that the unknowns inside his story can be understood IF seen in the context of the larger picture.

The Ken Dilanian’s of the journalistic world won’t commit to anything unless the gun is smoking still. On the one hand, it’s a solid journalistic practice. Ah, but — Ken won’t draw any conclusions until all the dots are connected, i’s dotted, t’s crossed and every last doubt put to bed. What if he’s wrong?

It’s true — sometimes you can never see the actual proof that a thing is — seeing the thing itself. Sometimes you have to discern the truth from the indications being given off by everything around it. Take our first-ever “snapshot” of a black hole…

It’s a remarkable accomplishment — this image. But the thing about it is, we STILL can’t “see” the black hole itself. We can’t because light can’t escape the black hole. All we can see are the particles approaching the black hole’s event horizon. As the particles speed up, they heat up. We’re seeing the light those particles emitted as they flowed to their own destruction 85 million years ago. We’re seeing the black hole’s event horizon — and NOT the black hole itself.

The black hole’s presence has to be inferred from the data surrounding it.

To leap back to earth — Donald Trump’s treason can be inferred from all the data surrounding IT. Or, as I like to think of it —