Dear Corporate America: Integrity Needs To Be Your New “Bottom Line”

Know who believes in democracy? Corporate America. They sort of believe in American democracy. But, the “democracy of the marketplace”? That, they believe in, unabashedly. Corporate America has to — they need consumers to “vote” with their wallets and pocketbooks as “early and often” as possible (like they supposedly used to vote in Chicago when the Democratic machine ran it). Remember New Coke? Remember how fast it disappeared from shelves when Americans resoundingly “voted against it”? Product launches are no different from candidate launches; candidates in American retail politics are no different from laundry detergent. Except some will destroy your clothing, wreck your marriage and burn your whole house down. There’s a reason Mitch McConnell fought so hard to keep Americans from getting financial support during the pandemic but insisted that companies never have to face any sort of liability for forcing their employees back to work, damn any and all risk to their lives.

Already, companies like Airbnb, Amazon, American Express and AT&T have cancelled all political contributions to any politician questioning the results of election 2020. And those are just a few of the “A’s”. They all know how easy — and likely — it is for their customers to turn on them should their customers suddenly find the companies’ political stances offensive. Remember Bill O’Reilly — Fox News’ one-time cash cow? The reason Bill doesn’t work for Fox anymore — despite how lucrative his bullshit was to the company — is because Bill lost all his advertisers. This was a boardroom decision! The 21st Century Fox board of directors were told, flat out, by the companies they needed to cash flow them that none of their customers would support their advertising on O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” any longer because he was such a sexist, racist pig.

Just like that, Bill O’Reilly became expendable. And just like that, he was gone. The democracy of the marketplace is harsh. But fair.

American consumers don’t like giving their hard-earned dollars to companies that do not respect them. They like it even less when those companies are ripping them off or doing things that could literally hurt them by, say, polluting the air and water. And the airwaves. And companies that want to overthrow our government? We REALLY hate those guys. And we ain’t buying whatever they’re selling…

The Truth — literal, empirical, this-is-what-happened-NOT-that, replete-with-receipts Truth — is about to get its day in court (the court of public opinion which is what really matters in America). On one side are Republican sweethearts like Marjorie Taylor Greene — an affront to logic and decency every time she speaks. On the other are Democrats, the rule of law, the Constitution and the majority of Americans. When the Democrats announced they’d introduce witness testimony (under oath) before the Senate “jury” during Trump’s SECOND impeachment trial, Lindsey Graham threatened to have the FBI testify, too. The Democrats, frankly, would LOVE IT if the FBI showed up and testified. What’s the point of Lindsey’s bluff here? Bring the Truth, Lindsey! Make it rain Truth! The only person needing an umbrella if that happens is YOU — and every one of your Republican co-conspirators.

I still won’t shop at Home Depot because the company’s ownership was so vociferously pro-trump. My hardware store dollars have a choice where they go to be spent. I prefer to use my local hardware store. But, sometimes, they don’t have what I need. A big box hardware store is where I’ll have to go. Ah, but which one? My dollars will vote for ANYONE but Home Depot. If too many other curmudgeons follow my lead? Home Depot’s bottom line will suffer. Pinch, OUCH!

Mitch feels that “ouch” like a cannonball rolling around his Treason Turtle shell, flattening his guts. He’s worked his whole political career to service the Big Right Wing Money and its various political needs. He’ll let all of America down before he even thinks of letting his paymasters down. Hell, Mitch is so cynical, he bought into the whole Donald Trump-Russia connection without batting a bloodshot eye. Ya don’t think Mitch had heard — same as every other Republican in the loop in 2016 — that “There’s two people (I think) Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump”? When current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy posed that question to a roomful of GOP leadership (was Mitch there perhaps?) a month before the 2016 GOP convention, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan made everyone present agree to keep this… suspicion/fact “in the family”. If Mitch wasn’t there, take it to the bank –he heard all about it.

Take this to the bank too. No one who heard that conversation live, took part in it or heard about it afterwards called the FBI as they absolutely should have done. This was the guy they were about to nominate as their candidate for POTUS. And they wondered about his loyalties and whether or not he might be compromised by a very hostile foreign enemy who we already knew were engaged in cyber war against us. The more we learn about this abomination — and we will once Merrick Garland punches the clock and a rejuvenated Department of Justice begins to behave like the defenders of the rule of law they’re supposed to be — the worse it will get for anyone still sporting that “R” next to their name.

That “R” will begin to stand more and more for RUSSIA.

Nobody wants that trademark next to their corporate image. Nobody wants their company to be co-branded in the buying public’s mind with traitors or treason or sedition or anything Marjorie Taylor Greene has to say. It always, always, ALWAYS comes down to money. And, for now, it’s money ironically that will keep corporate America from giving to their favorite enablers, the Republican Party. Whoever baked this irony cake knew just how long to keep it in the oven.

America is at the very beginning of a Great Moral Reckoning. We’ve needed this for a long, long time. As much of a treasonous shit as he is, on a certain level, we owe Trump a thank you — for causing the Republican Party membership to finally expose itself for the cynical, racist, authoritarians they all are. They’re the biggest, drunkest, angriest, whitest, stupidest frat party ever.

See those guys? Big companies don’t care what they want to buy. Not anymore. How long, do you suppose, will it take America’s news media to catch up with what its boardrooms figured out eons ago?

Whatever ya do, don’t bet on America’s news media. They still can’t even spell “integrity”.

There’s A Great Moral Reckoning Coming — And I Can’t Hardly Wait!

It’s not a matter of “if”. It’s a matter of “when”: a Great Moral Reckoning is coming — and the entire Republican Party is going to hate it.

Good.

Remember back to election night 2016? Remember how the evening began to feel — especially when it became apparent that Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin were landing in the Trump column? It didn’t feel like we’d “lost”. It felt distinctly like something was “taken”. It wasn’t our expectations that were dashed — it was our sense of fairness. The Comey Letter plus Russian disinformation — landing as they did WHILE EARLY VOTING WAS HAPPENING — had a profound effect on the election’s outcome.

In the end, of course, the Comey Letter was bullshit. The investigation wasn’t being re-opened; the files in question were all old. Several “rogue agents” in the FBI’s NYC bureau — all fans of the Breitbart published book Clinton Cash — had dragged their heels for months, refusing to examine the files on Anthony Weiner’s computer. They deliberately waited until October — just so they could get the news media buzzing again about “her emails”. Of course, that was after a whole campaign season filled with cynicism, lies and the news media insisting that both sides were “doing it”.

No, both sides were not committing treason to win the election.

America has been due a Great Moral Reckoning since its inception. “All men are created equal” and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. There are no compromises between the two. It’s a tug of war where only one side can win. Up until today, Slavery has continued to pin “All men are created equal” to the mat. That is finally changing.

The Electoral College is a vestige of slavery. It’s been a long time since a Republican became president because he won the popular vote. They now rely on the Electoral College to keep them — a minority — in power. They rely on a relic of slavery to keep slavery alive.

The Republicans have always portrayed themselves as the “moral party” — pointing to their piety as proof. Their piety is horse shit. So’s their “morality”.

The irony? The “moral party” — especially its religious wing — are the ones who most fear a Great Moral Reckoning. That’s because they’ll have the most to lose from it.

America must finally confront the racism that we built into our democracy. We have to own it. Slavery is, above all, stolen labor. That’s the whole point of having a slave: they work for you for free. You may have to house them and clothe them and feed them — so they’ll be able to work for you whenever you need them — but you don’t have to house, clothe or feed them well. The point is you’re not paying them — and that means you’re saving a fortune entirely at their expense.

Stolen labor is theft. It undermines not just the people whose labor is being stolen but all labor — because when it goes unpunished (as it almost always does), it encourages more stolen labor. I shouldn’t have to say this: stolen labor is immoral. To benefit from stolen labor is immoral. To profit from it — even more immoral.

Once we’ve owned our thievery, we can begin to fix the future. We can change our emphasis from making the rich richer to raising all boats. Real morality flows from equality. What’s moral is what’s most equal and what benefits the most people without harming anyone.

America’s women — especially Black women — are already driving us away from corruption and toward the “come to Jesus” moment we desperately need. When this is all done and dusted, America will owe its Black women more than a “thank you”. We’ll owe Black men, too. But Black women will have been made to bear the additional burden of sexism. We’ll owe Black women our deep, abiding, permanent respect — which we owed them all along.

Despite this country treating Black women callously in every way, Black women have kept the flame of American democratic principles alive. Though they’ve never benefited from the level playing field promised in our foundational documents — Life, Liberty, The Pursuit Of Happiness — they’ve demonstrated via their tenacity how the rest of us should feel about our democracy. Black women got it a long, long time ago. So did Black men of course. America’s founding ideals are worth fighting and dying for.

Note: while it’s understandable we might have to fight outside forces from time to time to protect our democratic principles, we should NEVER have to fight inside forces.

While one side perpetually plays the moral indignation card, it’s the other side that perpetually feels actual moral indignation — because of the first side’s relentless immorality. Our news media fails to see it because they’re convinced “both sides do it” while, in point of fact, both sides don’t.

Both sides don’t suppress the other side’s voters, for example. Both sides don’t commit treason in order to win elections. Both sides don’t relentlessly obstruct oversight or election security. One side does this — and for specific (political) reasons. How, I wonder, will our news media explain itself when we come to the understanding that, no, Donald Trump did not “win” election in 2016, he STOLE the election. Cheating to win does not equal winning. It can NEVER equal winning.

That’s something our news media will have to learn the hard way — via its own Great Moral Reckoning.

We Need Moral Journalism NOW

Journalists are front line storytellers. While a novelist writes at some remove from whatever time they’re writing about — it takes time to think out then write a novel (never mind the time it takes to get it published) — a journalist works in the right-here, right-now. A novelist writing “morally” has time to line up all that morality — to structure their story so that the moral message gets highlighted just the way they want. That’s a luxury most journalists just don’t have.

Therefore if a journalist wants to write morally (we’ll get to why they’d want to bother momentarily), they need to have their moral way of thinking lined up in advance.

Here’s the trick: EVERY journalist should want to write “morally”. Going forward, if we don’t get turned into a Trump-branded authoritarian shithole, writing morally — meaning writing that’s framed from a moral perspective rather than a neutral amoral one — will be an employment prerequisite.

Somewhere, somehow American journalism got it in its head that journalists are obligated to be utterly neutral in their reporting. If by utterly neutral they mean “apolitical” then yes — by all means — American journalists should be “neutral”. But, if by “neutral” they mean “amoral” then absolutely not. “Apolitical” and “amoral” aren’t the same thing. That’s at the heart of American journalism’s confusion.

If a politician charged with upholding the rule of law violates the rule of law, it does not matter what that politician’s party affiliation is. Every other politician is obligated by the rule of law to report the offending pol’s offense. If they don’t, the rule of law starts to break down because we’re not enforcing it evenly or equally. Therefore — when those other politicians go to the media to describe what the criminal politician is doing, they’re NOT ACTING POLITICALLY.

They’re acting patriotically. They’re FOLLOWING THE RULE OF LAW.

Ah, but… how many times do our journalists frame that reaction to actual criminal behavior as merely “political”? How many times do our journalists ASSUME that the motive behind REPORTING A CRIME isn’t to report the crime but to gain political advantage. Right there — the truth gets distorted by the very people responsible for reporting it. They’ve equated reporting a crime to journalists & the proper authorities as a political act — and thus, “both sides do it”.

That’s really more “both sides get accused of it by a stupid news media who don’t ever seem to do their homework”.

Both sides do it journalism has no sense of perspective or proportionality. To them a crime is a crime is a crime. Bernie Madoff — stealing billions from billionaires — is no different from, say Jean Valjean (the hero of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables) whose whole adventure begins when he steals bread to feed the hungry. Yes, both Bernie Madoff and Jean Valjean are thieves. Both were chased down by the Law. Framed that way, “both sides do it’.

But, really?

Storytelling can NEVER be divorced from morality. The whole point of storytelling is cultural self-analysis. Storytellers, as entertaining as they can be, are also part psychoanalyst. The best peer deeply into the cultural psyche and come away with remarkable observations about who we are and why we do what we do. That’s really why we love storytelling. We love seeing ourselves (however abstract) in the world the storyteller weaves. But, what happens when a culture’s storytellers lie to it? What happens when a culture’s storytellers — the fawning German right wing news media that supported Hitler, say — lies to the public about the politician they support? Lies become the truth.

That is, lies get taken for the Truth.

Nothing good can ever come from that dynamic. Lies are lies, Truth is Truth. There is no middle ground.

To report lies as if they were the truth is absolutely immoral. To report lies as if they “could be” the truth tap dances along the precipice. The only way to report lies as if they could be true is by using full transparency. The news audience needs every last bit of real perspective they can get — especially because the likelihood is that the lies aren’t true and never were.

It’s understood: on the one hand, it’s hard to tell your story when none of the interview subjects you need refuse to speak to you. But on the other — the cost of access to those interviews cannot be your soul or integrity. You’re going to need both of those things in order to conduct the interview. New York Times reporter Judith Miller became notorious for selling out her soul to (then) veep Dick Cheney. She lied in print to protect her source Scooter Libby — Cheney’s chief of staff. That kinda sucks as journalism.

It’s damned immoral, too.

I have a funny feeling America is about to enter a Great Moral Reckoning. Once it begins, it will gather momentum — and the momentum will gather momentum as we learn more and more just how corrupt Donald Trump was. The real momentum will gather when We The People realize just how corrupt and treacherous the entire Republican Party has been.

A reporter telling a story about white supremacists should absolutely do everything in their power to reveal the human being beneath their story. But that doesn’t include touting their vile, racist rhetoric as justifiable in some way just because you’re telling the story “neutrally”.

If you’re telling Evil’s story, you need to point out that it’s Evil. Telling a story about how “Evil is misunderstood” isn’t journalism, it’s you, the journalist, being stupid.

Worse — it’s the journalist being amoral which, in this world, is the exact same as being immoral.

There’s no middle ground in a war between Good and Evil. Similarly, there’s no middle ground in a war between Truth and lies. Both Good and Evil, Truth and lies have a “point of view”. They don’t all have “a side”. That is, they’re point of view cannot be justified.

Reporting that point of view as if it “could” be justified — say, by asking “Yeah, but what if fascism has a few merits?” — is giving credence to it. See, it says, fascism could have merits.

I won’t dignify such immorality with a response.