America Has To Reimagine Its Democracy — And How Its News Media Reports On It

When history looks back at the Trump era — asking how the hell it could have happened — after they compile a massive list of all the Republican Party’s corruption, they’ll compile a similarly massive list of all the ways our news media normalized, spread and profited from the GOP’s corruption. Journalism is the only non-governmental job enumerated in the Constitution. It shouldn’t be the collecting pool for egomaniacs who like to be on TV. It shouldn’t base its reporting on the demonstrably false assertion that “both sides do it”.

Because it’s bullshit.

Our system (unfortunately) forces us to make binary choices. This or that. The legislative process itself is supposed to be about compromise but the final choice of whether to do or not do is “yes” v “no”. It’s just the nature of binary choices that they increase polarization and reduce nuance. Both sides may do “something” but they’re not doing the same something — because they’re motivated by different things.

“Modern” Republicans (an oxymoron if ever there was one) are good at marching in lockstep. Modern Democrats not so much. Up until the 2020 election — where Democrats have unified like never before — we were still the exact same group about which Will Rogers said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. See, American News Media? NOT the same thing. Unorganized people CAN’T march in lockstep together.

Both sides don’t oppress the other sides voters. Both sides don’t think it’s normal to use the courts to stop counting votes. Both sides don’t embrace herd immunity as the way to solve our pandemic problem. Both sides don’t acknowledge on the down low that Donald Trump is the worst thing to ever hit America but, hey, “tax breaks”, ya know?

Both sides are not cynical. Only one side is — and that, unfortunately for us, is the side our news media keeps emulating. “Both sides do it” is a cynical sledge hammer where scalpel-like skepticism is called for. It’s malpractice atop bad writing atop brain dead, perspective-free analysis.

When we get to the other side of the Donald Trump Debacle — and we will because the overwhelming majority of Americans are done, done, DONE with Donald Trump and his Corruption Meets Treason Meets Fascism road show. We’re hip now to the stone cold fact that Trump did not “win” election in 2016, Russia won it FOR him (not the same thing). We’re hip to the fact that Trump just tried to pull the exact same illegal stunt THIS time (he thought the Hunter Biden computer would be this election season’s “but, her emails!”). That stunt, by the way, is what got Trump IMPEACHED!

Don’t forget: Trump is the first POTUS ever to run for re-election having been impeached for cheating in the very election HE’S RUNNING IN. That’s quite an accomplishment.

The last four year’s debasement of our political system has made clear: relying on norms over enforceable laws is foolhardy. Everything must be spelled out for some people — what’s illegal and what isn’t. Even so, they’ll still try to violate the spirit of the law while keeping to its letter. Perhaps if we baked a respect for the commonweal into our education system, we’d “indoctrinate” some of the greed and selfishness out of people.

Ours is a government OF the People, BY the People and FOR the people. That’s how self-government works. We do it for US. Anyone who stands outside of that larger purpose — and then tries to manifest their disrespect for our purpose in reality — to our detriment — needs to pay a price. Funny thing? When you hit greedy people in the pocketbook, the feel it even worse than if you had cut off a limb.

Makes punishing them easier.

While having to punish people sucks, real problems begin if we DON’T punish those deserving of our collective punishment. Bad behavior becomes more viable. Cheating to win becomes “one more way to win”. If we had punished Richard Nixon instead of pardoning him, the surviving Nixonites like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort would have been less inclined to act so subversively — because their subversion carried real risk.

Unfortunately, we keep cutting Republicans slack. We forget who they are and what they’ve done. Take Bill Barr. Lying about the Mueller Report wasn’t Barr’s first time at the “fix Republican criminality” rodeo. He covered up the Iran-Contra scandal so completely we don’t even remember it anymore. He covered up his cover-up so completely that a bunch of DEMOCRATS even approved Barr’s nomination — as if he hadn’t, in the past, taken a great, steaming dump all over them and the whole idea of “justice”.

To this day, most of our news media members have failed to do the same rudimentary due diligence on Donald Trump that Fusion GPS did when they got hired to do oppo research on Trump by the owners of the Washington Free Beacon back in 2016. The first thing Fusion did, co-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017, was get ahold of every piece of PUBLICLY AVAILABLE information concerning Donald J. Trump. They got every book, magazine, newspaper, radio show, TV show, interview, snippet or blind item they could. What they found in PUBLICLY AVAILABLE material so convinced them that Trump was a Russian mob money laundering criminal that they hired Chris Steele to further investigate inside Russia.

Americans have already gone to the polls in record-breaking numbers because we want to preserve (and improve upon) our democracy. After we finish punishing the Republican Party for trying so hard to undermine that democracy, we will turn our gaze on the press.

I hope they’ll all be ready for their close up when the time comes…

What Did YOU Do In The Culture War, Daddy?

There are times — at the beginnings of wars usually — when one side knows a state of war exists while the other side doesn’t.  Pearl Harbor comes to mind.

On the morning of December 7, 1941, the residents of Hawaii — Pearl Harbor in particular — slept soundly in their beds, unaware that they were moments away from being bombed, strafed, shot at and in every way attacked.  Japan was at war with them.  Japan knew it — they, unfortunately for them, did not.

That’s pretty much how the Left has been reacting to the Culture War the republican party declared not just on the Democratic Party but on the majority of Americans, too.  We’ve been almost oblivious to it.  We’ve heard the war-like chatter in the background but we’ve never taken it seriously.  We damned well better — because the war Newt Gingrich talked his side into launching years ago has finally established significant beachheads in American Culture.

newt-gingrich

Michelle Cottle nails it: “In his zeal to cripple Democrats, Gingrich poisoned the public against the entire American political system. ”

In Newt’s own words: “You have to confront, delay, and undermine and impose failure in order to move the public.”

Newt made it his absolute goal to impose FAILURE on his perceived enemy — everyone who wasn’t HIM.  That included the CULTURE in which the rest of us live.

Right Wing Culture is a lot like what Astrophysicist Neil deGrsse Tyson calls the ‘Diminishing God of the Gaps’ — the place you go to when you reach the end of what you ‘know’.  Right Wing culture — once thought to be a significant part of American Culture is now understood to be a fringe element at best (and shrinking rapidly).  Right Wing Culture is that thing everyone with a sense of humor laughs at.

It is a fact of life that Right Wing Culture has no sense of humor.  Oh, it can laugh all right — at other people.  Especially if they’re suffering some sort of misfortune.  Then they turn hilarious. Right Wing Culture is sanctimonious.  It believes it understands the divine; it believes the divine has chosen it to be its representative here on earth.  Right Wing Culture is seriously delusional.

Right Wing Culture honestly believes that IT is American Exceptionalism — that its very whiteness and maleness and Christian-ness is exceptional.  It’s wrong of course.  America’s DIVERSITY is what makes it EXCEPTIONAL.  That kind of broad diversity never happened before in one country.  It produced remarkable — no, EXCEPTIONAL — results.

White Christian Male culture is the exact opposite of exceptional.  Aside from rage and grievance, it can’t point to a single thing it’s added to the conversation.  Being weak and having few weapons at its disposal, White Christian Male Culture counts on drawing us near enough to sneak in a dirty low blow to neutralize us.

They’re going to be disappointed this time.  A lot more of us are woke now.  We’re paying attention.

And — as much as we can — we’re doing the thing that cuts Trumpists & Religionistas & RW Culture Warriors deepest:  We’re laughing at them.

 

Never Mind ‘Winning The War’ If You End Up ‘Losing The Peace’ That Follows

History is littered with the lamentable stories of Cultures that ‘won wars’ but lost the subsequent peace that should have been the spoil of their victory.  Case in point: The Union (The United States of America) v The Confederate States of America.

Grant accepted Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.  The Civil War ending was the Union’s high water mark.  Turns out, it was all downhill from there.  From Lincoln’s assassination to Johnson’s presidency (and his impeachment) to the terribly botched Reconstruction to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan to Separate But Equal to & through every awful instance of America’s deep-seated racism — all born of a terrible, terrible mistake:  the refusal to deny SLAVERY at America’s inception — and IN America’s Constitution.

A lot of terrible things have flowed from the Civil War into our Timeline.  But the most damning and damaging comes via the Confederacy’s Ghost:  Having lost the War, it seemingly ‘rose from the dead’ and WON THE PEACE.  How’d it do that?

Usually, it’s the Victors who get to write the History.  But, perversely, that didn’t happen here.  Southern writers — or writers influenced by Southern sympathies — started using the term ‘States Rights’ to describe the Confederacy’s motives for attempting to destroy the Republic. Suddenly the rebels went from trying to destroy the country to being the ones ‘dedicated’ to making us ‘A more perfect Union’.

It’s utter bullshit, of course.  If you go back and read every Confederate State’s exit statement — not a one of them mentions (their supposed core principle) State’s Rights.  On the flip side — the Northern states do talk about State’s Rights — what they are and what they aren’t.  The NORTH cared about States Rights while events were happening, not the South.

And yet — the South latched on to States Rights as its means to re-write History — to paint themselves more favorably — and less honestly.  And damn if they didn’t get away with it.  We actually still debate, in this country, what caused the Civil War — as if, when the simple facts are presented, it wasn’t as obvious as a sledgehammer landing on your foot.  The word we’re all looking for is: “Slavery’.  That’s what caused the Civil War.  But Slavery was such an egregious error on our part that even ENDING IT did not end our problem with it — because we enslaved people UNLIKE us — and never made that fact up to them.  We never ‘owned’ our racism — and apologized for it — and made the people we enslaved ‘whole’ again.

We — the enslavers — did not do that.  Slavery remains an open issue on our books.  That happened because the Union, exhausted by its war win, left the storytelling part of the exercise to the war’s ‘losers’.  They LIED about their story.  They pitched a completely FALSE NARRATIVE.  We bought it…

And, today, an empowered, racist South holds outsized power over the country’s future direction.  Mind you ‘The South’ doesn’t just live ‘in the south’.  it’s spirit lives all over the country in small enclaves of tiny-minded, racist-and-misogynist thinking.  Their horse shit was allowed to thrive and prosper because it wasn’t cut down at its inception.

And every time the news media wonders aloud why White People are so angry, they’re adding to the South’s (and Conservatives’)  narrative that their rage is justified.  If we had just paid a little more attention at the start — when the first Southerner/Conservative spewed the words ‘States Rights’.

If we had just slapped them down — with our words — we wouldn’t be having ‘this’ problem now.

 

 

Can We Be Really, REALLY Honest With Each Other? If You Believe In Bullshit — WHY Should ANYONE BELIEVE YOU?

I’ll try and make this easy.  If you boarded an airplane and the pilot announced (before the doors had closed) that not only was this his very first flight as a professional pilot — and (cause that’s not enough), he doesn’t believe in science, he believes in Magic — and just to prove that HIS MAGIC is as good as OUR SCIENCE — he’s going to CUT THE ENGINES at 37,000 feet and PRAY US the rest of the way to our destination.

Who’s staying on board that airplane?  Anyone?

Make it a heart surgeon who’s shrugged off looking at your charts before cutting into you — he’s going to wait for Divine Inspiration and THEN cut you.  You staying on the table?

When people tell us they don’t know what the hell they’re doing, we should listen to them like our lives depended on it.

While politicians may not have their hand on a literal wheel — what they do can and does have almost the same impact.  So — WHY they do WHAT they do is important because it indicates whether or not they’re representing OUR interests or whether they’re conflicted somehow.  For my part, I prefer that people making decisions that impact others have the same ‘RESPECT for Reality that I have.

I believe FACTS matter far more than FEELINGS.  I recognize that FACTS can ’cause’ FEELINGS to happen — and those feelings can effect how we perceive those facts — but those FEELINGS do not ever ‘CHANGE’ those FACTS.  FACTS remain FACTS regardless of how ANYONE ‘feels’ about them.

So — when people inclined to poor decision-making BECAUSE THEIR DECISION-MAKING PROCESS INVOLVES ‘MAGICAL THINKING’ go to make a decision, they tend to skip right past all Logic, Analytical Thinking and Thoughtful Analysis to their Magical Thinking Wheelhouse and push ‘Start’.

The Facts On The Ground do not matter.  You have BULLSHIT singing in your ears (badly and completely out of tune).   Bullshit always has its way.

We are living during War Time, folks — but not just ONE WAR… No, we’ve got TWO WARS on our hands.  Good thing they’re ‘related’ — otherwise this could get complicated.

War #1) THE CYBER WAR — the one Vladimir Putin & Russia are waging on us with the full and complete cooperation of Donald J Trump, his Crime Family & the Whole Republican Party.  We’ve ‘talked about that’ here and will again, I’m sure.  War #2) THE CULTURE WAR — The one the Republican Party has chosen to wage on the American People.

The Republican Party does this at the behest of its SECOND Most Vocal, Forceful Constituent — The Hardcore Christian Right Wing.  The MOST Vocal (behind the scenes — and ‘in its own way’), Forceful Constituent is MONEY, of course — and the handful of Rich, White, Christian families who HOARD that money as if it could save them from ‘DEATH’ itself (it won’t).

 

Right now, decisions and decision-making are coming at us more quickly than most people can handle.  That’s not a coincidence.  Those pushing the rush of decisions want people to fall back on the decision-making skills that they learned while going through the American Educational System– Oh, wait… that’s right — we don’t TEACH ‘decision-making skills’.  We RUN from them — preferring to stick a bible under their noses (a bible no one has cracked or WILL crack) with a handful of ‘Do It Cos Big Daddy In The Sky Sez Do-It’ type ‘lessons’.  And that, or some variation, is what amounts to ‘Doing Something”.

Here’s the problem in cold, hard, practical terms.  Sorry if it offends.  No, actually — not sorry at all…

Your average republican (and they put a shine on the word ‘average’ like no one else) ‘CLAIMS’ TO BELIEVE – AS FACT that:  “A Magical Man In The Sky had UNPROTECTED SEX with a Young Female Human who had never had sex before and produced together a ‘Man-God-Baby’ whose ‘mission on earth’ was to ‘DIE’ for All Humanity’s ‘sins’ because A WOMAN named ‘Eve’ once ate a piece a fruit she shouldn’t have — because a TALKING SNAKE told her to…”.

Pretty strange story, right?  But there are more than a few Christians — IN CONGRESS no less — who will claim — out in the open — ON TV EVEN — that they absolutely, positively believe that these things ALL actually happened EXACTLY AS WRITTEN.  That THEY are HISTORICAL FACTS that are INDISPUTABLE.  These ‘LEADERS’ who control what we do as a Nation — have as their KNOWLEDGE BASE a story which while ‘instructive’ and ‘imaginative’ IS NOT HISTORY and to act like it IS history — while DENYING ANY UNDERLYING MESSAGE THE STORY HAS — is an example of the MOST cynical bullshit.

And it’s BULLSHIT.

You might as well say ‘Yeah, I see the apple falling — but I’m still not buying into this ‘gravity’ thing…’.

You’ve told the class — unequivocally — that you are a sucker, a day trader, a headlines only reader.

And, you’ve told them that facts ultimately do not matter to you.

Given a choice between decision-making based on ‘faith’ (which is… guesswork?  Wishful Thinking?  Hopefulness on Steroids?) and Stone Cold Reality, I’ll take the Stone Cold Reality, please.

Realists keep their eyes open — they HAVE TO.