Our News Media Doesn’t Understand What “Integrity” Is (Or Why It Matters)

The Importance of Integrity in Business | FreshBooks Blog

Everyone is born with the same amount of integrity: one hundred percent. As we drop from the womb, we haven’t betrayed any principles yet, haven’t gotten lazy when intellectually challenged, haven’t let anyone down. If we “say” we’re hungry that’s what we mean. If we say we’ve pooped or peed ourselves, we have! If we’re sad or lonely or happy as a clam, we’ll broadcast that fact as loudly and clearly as we can. We are as honest as we’re ever going to be. Then we go out into the world and one of the first things we learn how to do is be less honest. Part of that’s just what it takes to get through a day filled with different kinds of relationships. A certain amount of truthiness goes with being human and living in a human society. But, there is a line. People who take on “important jobs”, work that could genuinely mean life or death to others (airline pilots, physicians, police officers for instance) can be less than honest with their romantic partners, but we need them to be totally honest with their passengers, patients or perps. Would you allow a surgeon with questionable integrity to slice into you?

Me neither.

Integrity is like a balloon made of platinum. As solid as it seems, it’s easily punctured. And once punctured. it’s irreparable. If Donald Trump had a radical change of heart (and character — let’s pretend okay?) and suddenly (on the inside) became absolutely honest, would we believe him? Certainly not. And, ironically, the more Trump pled his newfound honesty, the more dishonest we’d be sure he was. That’s what happens when you bust a cap in your integrity. It dies. And the world’s perception of you solidifies: you are a liar. If Trump could keep up the act, not just insisting he was honest but actually being that way, perhaps in a few years, our skepticism would begin to subside. To the degree that one’s integrity can be repaired, the process moves as slowly as nerve regeneration in humans. Glaciers can beat it in a foot race.

And yet, our news media regularly restores the broken integrity of the very least deserving. Richard Nixon was a criminal — full stop. At the very least, Watergate should have fixed Nixon in our collective understanding as a man with zero integrity. Of course Nixon himself would want to restore his integrity — or bamboozle others into thinking he (somehow) still had some integrity to trade on. Why would our news media want to help him though? Better question: why would our news media want to put ITS integrity on the line for someone their own reporting established had none? I don’t think it’s because our journalists don’t have integrity, I think it’s because they simply don’t know (or maybe even care) what it is.

“Both sides do it” brand journalism conflates skepticism with cynicism. Suddenly everyone becomes a variation on a theme : the lust for political power. Regardless of what they actually do or say, so goes the thinking, their motives are all exactly the same. From this vantage point, NO ONE has integrity. How can they when (per the journalist doing the reporting) everyone’s hedging or gaming everyone else? This simply isn’t the case. Progressives don’t want what conservatives want; they don’t want to live in a past where white, Christian men had all the power and money — the very thing conservatives want to conserve. Progressives will tell you openly that they want a rising tide to float every possible boat. Conservatives, on the other hand, will lie to you about just about everything because, they know, if they told America the truth about them — about their motives — they’d be in jail already.

When our news media gets up on its hind legs and insists that Mitch McConnell or Kevin McCarthy or Mark Meadows or Devin Nunes or Bill Barr or Mike Pence or Chuck Grassley or Susan Collins or Jim Jordan or Marjorie Taylor Greene or Brett Kavanaugh or Steve Bannon or Ted Cruz or anyone in the Trump clan is an “honest actor”, they’re committing journalistic malpractice. They’re labeling criminals as honest then demanding why Democrats won’t negotiate with them. But, even when our news media reports actual acts of treason — based on hard evidence they themselves have vetted — they refuse to connect the dots their reporting suggests do connect.

Example: On June 25, 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a meeting of GOP leaders — a month before the GOP will nominate Trump to be their presidential candidate. They know Trump’s candidacy is inevitable. McCarthy is worried however because he fears that Trump is corrupt: “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” he says, “Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in the room balks at the thought. There’s nervous laughter — that’s what motivates McCarthy to insist “Swear to God!” He wants to be taken seriously. He wants his news to be taken seriously. But, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan asserts his “leadership”. He shuts down the conversation. They’re not going to discuss this secret; instead, they’re going to keep it — this knowledge that a hostile foreign government has compromised the man they’re going to nominate to be POTUS. “That’s how we know we’re family,” says Speaker Ryan, third in line to the presidency himself.

No one in the room questioned these accusations of Trumpian criminality. No one doubted that they were possible. And no one insisted they they should — per their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution — call the FBI to warn them. The total amount of integrity in that room by the time the conversation finished? Absolute zero.

Has anyone in the news media gone back to revisit these shocking accusations — and the even more shocking acceptance of them? To be fair, yeah — a few intrepid reporters have questioned Kevin McCarthy about “There’s two people I think Putin pays”. Kevin insisted he was just joking — and that (as always) ends the discussion even though it’s demonstrable that Kevin McCarthy (like Donald Trump) has no sense of humor. Bullies, as an absolute rule, NEVER have a sense of humor. It’s part of why they’re bullies. Oh, sure — bullies can laugh. But bullies (think Donald Trump) never laugh with others (except other bullies), they always laugh AT others. See the difference?

Since then, Kevin’s reported-upon statement has sat in the Trump-Russia evidence room, gathering dust. That’s a reflection of our news media’s integrity or lack thereof.

I’m old enough to remember how connecting Trump to Russia only ever got you rolling eyes in response. Same goes for describing Trump and the GOP as authoritarians and fascists. As we stand here today, those who correctly spotted the GOP’s authoritarian and fascist leanings were right: they still have their integrity on the subject. Those who shrugged off what the Republicans were/are doing? I’m not sure I’d ask their advice on a lunch order any more. I wouldn’t trust their taste as I wouldn’t trust they were telling me the truth. It’s not just Republicans whose integrity has been destroyed by Trumpism. Silence in the face of this attack is tacit complicity.

Anyone complicit in this coup d’etat blew up their integrity a long time ago.

When Trump openly told his four underlings NOT to cooperate with the January 6 Truth Commission, he openly committed a crime. Citizen Trump doesn’t have the authority President Trump had to say such a thing without criminal liability. It’s not a question whether or not Trump did this thing — he deliberately broadcast it as part of his strategy. That doesn’t legitimize it. It should, instead, make prosecuting this bloated orange pirate a thousand times easier. But, that would demand that our news media stop reporting Trump as a politician and start reporting him as what he is: a stone cold criminal in the middle of a treasonous crime spree.

I wish it were possible to buy our news media some integrity. Hell, they need it so desperately, I’d even steal it for them.

The Trick To Defeating Republicans In 2022 (And Beyond) Is To Call Them What They Are: CRIMINALS

I’m old enough to remember when the GOP was one of America’s two principle political parties. Now there’s only one — the Democrats. The GOP can no longer honestly call itself a “political party” because the GOP can no longer honestly do ANYTHING. That’s not a small detail. It’s not exactly a secret either. The Republican Party with two or three exceptions stands one hundred percent with Donald Trump. Never mind a few self-serving votes here and there for infrastructure dollars — despite Trump’s demands that they vote down all infrastructure. That’s pure political cynicism at work. The fact is, they still stand with Trump. Whatever Trump wants to do to their party, they will let him. They don’t have a choice. Yeah, to a degree it’s fear of being primaried by someone even more Trumpified than they are. Anyone with integrity would stand up for what’s right; at the very least, they’d do everything they could to uphold the oath they took to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign AND domestic.

In America, what do we call someone who’s either broken or refused to uphold the oath they took? Frequently, we call them “the current officeholder”. We call them that because there’s no actual penalty for violating one’s oath of office. Funny thing? There’s supposed to be: removal from office. If the act they took that violated their oath of office broke any kind of local laws, then they might face legal jeopardy. As we know from common experience, plenty of politicians violate their oaths of office. Pretty much none of them ever get removed from office for doing it. Gosh, could THIS kind of baked in corruption be one of those reasons Americans have grown cynical about our politics?

We’ve enabled our political class to all nod and wink at each other as they take their oaths of office: “We all understand that this activity is pure kabuki and we all understand that none of us will ever confess that truth”. That is fixable and we must fix it. But, alas, now that the doors have been thrown open to corruption, it’s going to be hard to close them. It’s just easier to be corrupt than to maintain one’s integrity. To maintain one’s integrity, one must deny every greedy impulse one has. One must place the greater good above the good of any one person — including oneself. Like I said — it’s no picnic. The rewards are more subtle than the creature comforts greed provides.

Part of our problem in telling this story is our news media’s inability or unwillingness to differentiate between Truth and bullshit. “Both sides do it” journalism is, by its nature, deeply cynical. It’s also profoundly wrong. Both sides do not do “it” because the two sides are, really, nothing alike. Yes, both sides have their points of view, but both points of view don’t carry equal weight. A point of view based on good, solid data and logical, reviewable analysis has earned the right to be accepted as “truthful”. A point of view based on feelings, conspiracy theories, Fox News and QAnon drivel is drivel. The two things are NOT equal. If you could hold them in your hand, you’d get it: these two things are not even remotely the same thing. But, when, as our news media does, when they give credence to bullshit, bullshit becomes truthful. They’re saying clearly of something they know is bullshit “It may sound like rot, but (“both sides do it” after all), under some bizarre, imaginary, pretzel logic circumstances, it could be the truth and for that reason, we must give it credence as if it is the truth”. Um, no. Bullshit is always bullshit. It’s never the truth. That’s why it’s bullshhit.

We need to get it into our heads that there’s no such thing as a person with 99% of their integrity. Integrity is an all or nothing proposition. Either you have it or you don’t. We’re all born with one hundred percent of our integrity intact. Here’s the problem with that: that is all we get. It surrounds each of us like parapet made of gossamer. If we dig in our heels once under attack — if we make defending that parapet everything — that gossamer will hold fast like titanium. On the other hand, if we waver (worse, if we give in to corruption), that gossamer will have already dissipated into nothingness. The very instant one’s integrity gets dinged, either one addresses the ding immediately or, in time, that one ding will become two and then four and then eight et cetera.

Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks around with literally zero integrity. That’s been the case his whole political life but it became demonstrably factual on June 15, 2016 when Kevin — a month before the GOP convention where it was already a foregone conclusion that Trump would be their nominee — entered a room of GOP leaders and said out loud “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” At the same time Kevin lost his integrity, so did everyone else in that room.

Mind you, this conversation was recorded and played a year later for a Washington Post reporter. No one on the recording replies to Kevin with a horrified “Whaaaaaaat? Kevin — are you sure about this?” No one says “Hey, that’s a problem! We’re about to nominate a guy owned by Russia to be POTUS?” Instead, those assembled go along with then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s suggestion to not discuss this matter outside this room. “That’s how we know we’re family,” said Paul Ryan. If we had video of the meeting instead of just audio, I bet we’d actually see Ryan twirling his moustache as he spoke those words.

What the Republicans did that day was treasonous. That is a stone cold fact. If you even suspect that America is under threat from a hostile foreign power (and a country engaged in CYBER WAR with us is indeed behaving with hostility) then you are obligated to ACT. If you don’t — as the Republicans didn’t — we have to ask “WHY?” Why did Paul Ryan and Kevinn McCarthy and every other GOP leader in the room that June day NOT tell anyone about what they suspected? Why did they lie about “joking” the one time any of them were confronted about the conversation? Trust me: no one there was “joking” in large part because no one there was capable of making a joke. One must be able to laugh at oneself to have a “sense of humor”.

If you can’t laugh at yourself, that means you can only laugh at others. That’s the tell. If you can’t laugh at yourself but only can laugh at others, it means YOU HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR. Donald Trump notoriously has no sense of humor. But, you could pretty much point at any Republican and find the same thing: people incapable of laughing at themselves but more than happy to laugh their heads off at others. That’s bullying. And bullies are notoriously unfunny. Because they have no sense of humor. Kevin McCarthy was not joking. He was learning something plenty of his GOP fellow travelers already knew — that Donald Trump was a fully owned subsidiary of Vladimir Putin.

Everything that follows — every lie, every attempt to obstruct justice, every brazen attempt to overthrow the last election’s results — is flat out one hundred percent ILLEGAL. What the Republicans are doing isn’t them “expressing their opinion about American democracy”, it’s them trying to end our democracy — in direct opposition to the majority’s wishes (and that’s not some slim majority either!). This is NOT “political behavior”, it’s CRIMINAL behavior being done for a political reason (to force permanent minority rule down the majority’s throat).

Democrats have a frustrating habit of dithering when they should be acting. We get lost in the weeds because the rules matter so much to us. We don’t feel entitled to fix what’s wrong if we’re behaving wrongly at the same time. We really do value people over profits (unlike Republicans who always favor profits over people) but the evidence of that is harder to discern. The child tax credit Team Biden just introduced (which has already cut American childhood poverty in half!) is evidence of that. That same sense of caution stands between us and calling out Republicans for who and what they really are.

How treasonous does Trump have to behave towards Putin before some intrepid reporter focuses on it? How many times does he have to openly support Russian intelligence over our own or give Putin the benefit of the doubt he never deserved? How many openly obstructive acts must one person attempt on a regular basis before sensible people stop giving that obstructive person the power to obstruct justice? Or the benefit of the doubt that THAT’S what they’re up to?

Donald Trump was the ONLY American president to run for office AFTER having been impeached. He’s the first American POTUS to run for office after having been impeached for cheating in the election he was about to run in! All by itself, that screams volumes. When we get to the moment when we FINALLY say out loud to ourselves that, yes, but for Russia Trump would never have become POTUS, we will be on the road to recovery. For starters, we will have finally said out loud what Kevin McCarthy did on June 15, 2016: Trump is a criminal and because the Republicans did nothing about it, so are they.

Now — what do we do about the fact that the criminal behavior the Republicans STILL are engaging in is TREASONOUS? For one thing, how about we don’t call it what it isn’t: “an opinion”.

Criminals have opinions just like everyone else. Everyone’s got a point of view. But not all point of views carry the same weight. Not all points of view are based on facts and observations. Some points of view traffic in conspiracy theories or cultural-political hackery. That’s not the same as reality or the truth.

America needs to start calling bullshit what it is: BULLSHIT. We need to start calling people who obstruct justice what they are: criminals. We need to reframe how we see ourselves not as two equally valid points of view but as a complex, multi-faceted point of view. Also we need to understand that not all points of view have a “point”. A traitor like Donald Trump absolutely has a point of view — that he’s happy (if not desperate) to share. But, being a lying, rapey, greedy scum bag, his point can only be to justify his awful point of view. His awful, INDEFENSIBLE point of view.

The press keeps reminding us that the common wisdom is that the out of power party (in our case the Republicans) always do great in the first mid-term after a presidential election. That’s almost always the case during normal times. Except these times aren’t even remotely normal. They’re like nothing we’ve ever been through before. America and Americans are more woke than they’ve ever been. For some reason, people wanting to defend democracy isn’t sexy enough for our news media to stay focused on. They like covering crazy people better. And pretending they’re sane.

It’s like covering Republicans like they were honest actors.

Can We Please Agree: “If” Donald Trump Committed Treason, His Whole Presidency Is Treasonous

Trust me here: one plus one equals two. It just does. Donald Trump behaves the way he does (and has) toward Vladimir Putin because Donald Trump is a traitor. If we took Putin out of the equation entirely, not only would Trump not be POTUS, he would never have run for president in the first place. It’s not new news that Trump is corrupt — and corrupted by Russia (among others). Why, the Republican Party itself KNEW IT for a fact even before their 2016 convention. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said it OUT LOUD for a roomful of the GOP hierarchy to hear: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrbacher and Trump”.

How did then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan respond? Per the Washington Post: “Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.” When told that Russia had likely compromised their presidential candidate, the GOP leadership didn’t call the FBI, they ran for their bunker. Mark this — even before he won his own party’s nomination, Trump was allied with a foreign government actively engaged in a CYBER WAR against us. Trump doesn’t have to know anything inside Putin’s head to be guilty of committing treason. Useful idiots are just as treasonous as useless ones.

Our news media — always light years behind this story — still wonders aloud why Trump is so chummy with Putin. If they scratched their heads any harder while pondering that question, they’d create permanent divots in their noggins. Repeat: one plus one equals two. Trump is chummy with Putin because Putin owns him. Nothing Trump has done before or during his presidency would contradict that. Trump’s treachery is the biggest open secret in the whole history of secrets.

His treachery is the reason he’ll fight to the bitter end to hold onto power — as if it was his to “hold onto”. That’s Trump’s big mistake. It’s the Republican Party’s big mistake, too. They’ve forgotten, authoritarian shitheads that they are, that power in our democracy flows from us, We The People. We may not be good at asserting ourselves until forced to but once we do, our intentions are almost always clear. We just asserted how much we want Trump fired. We weren’t kidding.

“Both Sides Do It” brand journalism refuses to take sides — because “both sides do it”. By assigning any one argument a 50-50 chance at being right, they assume that any two arguments being made are literal equals. Both sides have their “point of view”. That may be, but having a point of view doesn’t mean you have a point. They’re not the same thing. The guy who just stole your car may have a reason (he needed money), but so what? The bottom line is HE STOLE YOUR CAR. He can never be its rightful owner no matter how much he drives around in it.

“Both Sides Do It” journalism disagrees. It concludes it’s his car if he says it is. Who are they, the news media — or us, the car thief’s victim — to tell him otherwise?

Just as a car thief can never be your car’s rightful owner, “if” Donald Trump committed a crime — ANY CRIME — in order to become POTUS, the act of committing that crime VOIDED his presidential bid. You cannot commit a crime in order to become president. Likewise — you cannot CHEAT to become POTUS. Correction — you can certainly cheat (people have!) to become president. But, if we catch you at it, that cheating negates your success. Cheating to win does not and can NEVER equal NOT cheating to win. Otherwise, why wouldn’t everyone cheat to win? If the other guy’s cheating to win — taking a big steaming dump on the rules in the process, you’d be an idiot to stick to the rules. He’s not.

Why do we insist on letting the cheater always have an unfair advantage?

Trump has projected his illegitimacy from day one. Why, oh why, are we so dead set on not listening to him? The reason Trump can never stop being POTUS is because the instant the title ceases to be his, the indictments and subpoenas will drop on him like nuclear fallout. Same goes for every single Republican who, though knowing or suspecting what Trump (and the other Republicans) were up to, remained silent. That racist “good ol’ boy” complicity doesn’t play here anymore.

There will be a day of reckoning when we face the stone cold truth: Donald Trump was never the legitimate president. He never had the AUTHORITY that flows from LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY. Just because Trump STOLE that authority and MIS-USED IT to, say, nominate judges — it doesn’t mean he ever actually HAD the authority to do that. Trust me on this — if you or I enter a contest, cheat to win and then get found out? Whatever we won in the competition? We’re not getting to keep it — and rightfully so: IT WAS NEVER OURS.

The same goes for every judge Trump nominated. If he never had the rightful authority, then none of those nominations can stand. Each and every one of them is an affront to American democracy. They fly in the face of the rule of law and the Constitution. Why should we — who follow the Constitution — be bound by those hell bent on destroying the Constitution? Why should (or would) Democrats go forward — attempting to govern — with Republicans who’ve questioned the whole system’s integrity — because they want to destroy it and replace it with permanent minority rule?

It would be stupid beyond words to tell ourselves we’re bound by what criminals did. No, we’re not. The correct response to a child throwing a tantrum isn’t to get down on the floor and tantrum alongside them. You don’t parent by acting like the child and you don’t ever chase a rabbit down its hole.

The correct answer to “But, Trump says…!” is “So what?” He’s a liar. He needs to bring receipts to the table from now on. Otherwise, we’ll assume he’s lying. And why would anyone with two brain cells listen anything a liar says? See how that framing works?

That’s the simple trick our news media needs to teach itself. Of course, if you think truth and bullshit are the same thing (because both sides do it), you’ll never frame anything the right way. The fact is, We The People will not permit Trump or the Republican Party to get away with betraying us.

Whether or not we hold the news media accountable — that’s a whole other question.

Dear Regulation-Hating Republicans: Get Ready To Be Regulated Into Extinction

It’s simple. If the playing field was automatically level for all Americans — and if everyone behaved honorably, respecting the rule of law, we could probably dispense with most regulations. Alas, that’s not the case.

Some people — okay, Republicans, it seems — cannot imagine walking past a pot of money without wanting to take it all for themselves. Having all the money means having all the power — which is really what it’s all about anyway. Yes, an over-zealous government can become tyrannical via over-use of rules and regs. But then over-zealous criminals can become tyrannical via UNDER-use of the rule of law.

There’s no middle ground unfortunately. We thought there was. Right now, our problems all flow from the unequal enforcement of the rule of law. We punish Black and brown people harshly while letting rich white people skate. The rule of law eventually breaks down when it’s applied piecemeal. It’s like integrity — it is or it isn’t. You really can’t have 99% of your integrity. It’s the dubious 1% that immediately defines you.

It’s a fact — in response to Donald Trump, Trumpism, Republican corruption and the RW’s naked greed, we will over-regulate ourselves. At least, that’s how it will feel to some people — Republicans. Having the rule of law applied to them will feel like over-regulation. Think of it from the criminal’s point of view — one moment, they’re breaking the law with impunity. The next, they’re in handcuffs. See? Over-regulation.

And handcuffs will be what plenty of Republicans are wearing come 2021. Handcuffs and prison orange will be the new Republican “look”. It’s hard to think of many Republicans who won’t be rocking that look hard. They’ve all — at the very least — conspired to commit a whole host of crimes. Republicans knew even during their 2016 convention — when they formally nominated Trump — that he was breaking the rule of law.

Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously (it was reported on!) entered a meeting of Republican head honchos and said out loud: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan famously replied “Let’s keep this in the family”. Everyone agreed to keep secret the fact that they were breaking the law.

The rule of law will insist that every single Republican who had even the faintest inkling that something was amiss with their party was OBLIGATED to pick up a phone and call the authorities. See something, say something. See something, say nothing? We need to ask WHY? Rather, the rule of law needs to ask “why?”

America started with an impossible contradiction — the statement “All men are created equal” cannot co-exist with slavery. And “all men” needs to be “all people — regardless of their gender — are equal before the rule of law”. That applies to them, of course, regardless of who they love. Making the playing field truly level for everyone will take time and effort and focus. It won’t happen by itself — but then, that’s how the rule of law works. We The People will have to make it happen.

And, despite all the awkwardness and inconvenience that applying the rule of law will cause, the indisputable fact is — it will be worth it.

Republicans won’t think so. Their lawyers will write angry letters demanding we release their clients from long federal prison sentences.

The rule of law will read their letters and refuse to budge. It didn’t condemn them to extinction, they themselves did that. The rule of law was simply the road they took to get there.

We Need To Make Corruption Public Enemy #1

We take “integrity” for granted. We take our own for granted — that’s for sure. We shouldn’t. Instead, we should be protecting our integrity like a mother protecting her babies. Integrity is the only thing standing between us and corruption.

Integrity and corruption are literal opposites. They gave literally nothing in common. The moment integrity even looks in corruption’s direction — as if to consider it? Can we really look at integrity the same way again, knowing that it was tempted? What about next time (when we’re not watching)? Will the lure be just enough to compromise integrity — even if just a little?

See the problem? There is no “just a little” where compromising one’s integrity is concerned. Integrity is an all or nothing proposition. You got it or you don’t.

I defy anyone to name a Republican with integrity.

You can’t. Now ask “why?”

The GOP’s integrity problem didn’t start with Donald Trump. In “Both Sides Do It” world, Democrats are just as capable of being corrupt. And Democrats have been and are now corrupt. But let’s talk scale.

Bernie Madoff is a thief. So is the character Jean Valjean from Les Miserables. One stole billions (albeit from billionaires) while the other stole bread to feed hungry people. Both Sides Do It, see? And yet, they don’t.

We’re talking minnows versus whale sharks. Let’s stop wasting our time, okay? Republican corruption goes deeper than just ordinary greed. The Republican money — the Kochs, the Mercers — made a calculated decision to control America’s politics so as to prevent it from reflecting who America really is and what America really wants. Their goal is permanent minority rule — make no mistake. To achieve this, with their hold on the Senate and a willing lieutenant in Mitch McConnell, the RW money (prior to 2016) set out to hijack the judiciary. They denied Barack Obama more than a hundred lifetime federal judge appointments, even denying Merrick Garland so much as a hearing.

Mitch wanted “the American People” to “choose the next SCOTUS judge while refusing to let the POTUS We The People overwhelming elected to do that very thing. This was bullshit. This was a power grab. And as we learned in Jane Mayer’s excellent piece on Mitch McConnell in the New Yorker, Mitch KNEW that lots of foreign players were actively engaged in altering the outcome of the 2016 election.

Mitch, don’t forget, refused to let Barack Obama tell We The People the truth in September 2016 about what Russia was up to. Mitch threatened to go nuclear, screeching about how Obama was “politicizing the intelligence”. No, Mitch, what Obama wanted to do was tell America the truth. What YOU wanted to do was be corrupt.

Now, here’s the deal — and we have to stick to it — but we have to acknowledge, going in, that it’s going to be hard. The Rule Of Law is or it isn’t. It plays by the same “rules” as Integrity. The instant we make an exception to the Rule Of Law (invariably for someone rich or powerful), it’s just a matter of time (and continuing corruption — because it follows as naturally as water running down a hill) before the whole structure collapses. Again.

No exceptions. For anyone Period.

That means the moment anyone tries to take advantage of anyone else or of the system itself, we investigate them, prosecute them (as warranted), sentence them, punish them and (if it’s in the cards) rehabilitate them — all fairly.

In the case of the Republican Party — all those people without an ounce of integrity — that’s going to hurt. A lot. Considering what they’ve done and the fact that every last one of them has at least something to answer for (even Mitt Romney has “inklings” of what Mitch McConnell is really up to and has not gone to the FBI or other “proper authorities”), the return of the Rule Of Law will dictate the end of the Republican Party.

Well, either it will be the “end” of the GOP or it will a null set as a political party — a party with literally no one in it.

Who would want to run for office as a Republican when the Republican Brand is the Corruption Brand? Going forward, it’s going to be hard enough finding Republicans who aren’t either dead or knocked down a few pegs by coronavirus. We all know what the investigations of the Trump response will turn up: a miasma of personal financial gain being used to leverage American foreign policy for even more personal financial gain — all in the middle of a catastrophe. And we all know that the Republican Party has enabled every last bit of it.

Just like integrity is all or nothing, so is corruption. Donald Trump may be the most corrupt human in history. That’s hyperbole. There’ve been plenty of corrupt assholes to equal Donald Trump. Our problem is none of those assholes ever stole the American presidency.

There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain from making “Anti-Corruption” one of the central themes of the Democratic Party’s 2020 campaign. Aside from the corrupt, no one wants corruption.

Dear Republicans: Once Destroyed, Integrity Cannot Grow Back; Your Integrity Is History

Ever meet anyone with 99% of their integrity intact? You can pretty much trust them — but not quite… there’s a point beyond which you know you can’t trust them — usually when things get serious and being able to trust someone is imperative.

That’s the Republican Party. Except they have way, way less than 99% of their integrity. What’s the actual percentage they still have? Does it matter? Integrity’s like a soap bubble. It is or it isn’t. Having 99% of your integrity is no better than having zero.

The Rule Of Law works the same way, too — as we’re learning the hard way. We rely on the Rule Of Law’s integrity in order for it to work. Either we prosecute everyone the same when they break the same laws or we prosecute no one and agree the Rule of Law is dead, long live chaos. Having two sets of laws — as we do in America — violates the integrity of The Rule Of Law.

When a sitting POTUS can get away with actual law-breaking — when he “gets to be” POTUS by breaking the law — we’ve gone to a place where The Rule Of Law no longer works. If we want to rectify that, we have to understand going in — just like with integrity, following The Rule Of Law means committing to it 100%. If we CAN get it back up onto its feet — and if we CAN get IT to be the “rule of the land” again, we need to make damned sure we protect it better.

Let’s start by taking the job of enforcing it out of the hands of White Christian Men.

Of all groups in this country, White Christian Men have done more to destroy their own integrity than anyone or anything else. Oh, the irony. If those men were all followers of Jesus (happily doing unto others) instead of church-goers (needing to raise money to keep their church afloat), they’d still have their integrity.

But then they wouldn’t be Republicans anymore, would they?

Integrity Is An All Or Nothing Proposition

What Zero Integrity looks like — en masse

Nothing is funnier than a Republican drawing himself up, having just been asked a serious question about his integrity. He knits his brows, purses his lips and goes all “earnest” with his voice.

Mitch McConnell talking “patriotism” — having just lifted the sanctions punishing Oleg Deripaska for changing the outcome of election 2016, say. That’d be Mitch insisting he’d done something great for the people of Kentucky (while betraying them and everyone else in the country).

Your average Republican thinks THAT’S “Integrity”. Acting like you have it.

When you have no integrity, acting like you have it is as close to having integrity as you’re ever going to get.

What Republicans especially don’t seem to grasp — integrity while iron-clad at its core, is built of gossamer. It’s a soap bubble, easily punctured. And just like a soap bubble, once popped? It’s popped for good.

There’s a reason we don’t say things like “Ya know, that Kevin McCarthy — the GOP Leader — he may not have all his integrity, but 70%’s okay with me!” The moment Kevin slipped below 100%, that should have been the end of it. How can you trust someone almost completely but not completely? That means you DON’T trust them because even when you do, you really don’t.

That’s how integrity works. It is or it isn’t.

Can we all please, please, PLEASE agree? When it comes to integrity, if you still have an “R” next to your name? While Donald Trump’s a Republican? If you stand in any way, shape or form with him?

You can’t even spell “integrity”.

“Better The Shit Than This!” What Lina Wertmuller’s “Seven Beauties” Teaches Us About Integrity

The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced yesterday that they were awarding Italian filmmaker Lina Wertmuller an honorary Oscar. She deserves an Oscar for sure — but honorary? She deserves one for a body of great work.

Wertmuller’s best known features (here in America) include “The Seduction of Mimi”, “Swept Away”, “Love & Anarchy” and “Seven Beauties”. Sex and politics figure into every Wertmuller movie. So does the male notion of “honor”. And absurdity — because male honor is frequently absurd.

In “The Seduction of Mimi”, a factory worker played by Giancarlo Giannini (Wertmuller’s go-to male lead for her best work) learns his beautiful wife’s been knocked up by another man. To defend his honor, the factory worker decides to seduce the other man’s wife. Problem is, she’s incredibly unhappy with her life and incredibly obese — not exactly an object of seduction. But, hey — honor’s honor. He does it and gains nothing but more heartache.

Giannini’s Pasqualino — his character in Seven Beauties — is even more compelled by honor. It’s WWII and Italy’s in chaos, stuck between Germany to the north and the Allies to the south, slowly battling their way up the boot. Pasqualino has seven sisters — the “Seven Beauties”. Being the sole male in the family, it’s his responsibility to guard their honor.

That’s a problem because one of the beauties is a prostitute. Pasqualino kills her pimp. The scene where Pasqualino — needing the cut the body into pieces so he can put the pieces in suitcases and dispose of them — is a comedic gem. The pimp is not a small man and even moving the body around to facilitate cutting it up is challenging — made worse by the fact that the pimp’s dead body keeps farting.

Pasquelino gets caught and sentenced to prison; he gets out of that by volunteering for the army (which is pretty much in a state of constant retreat from the Allies). When Pasquelino tries to run, he gets captured by the Germans and sent to a brutal concentration camp run by a brutal female Commandant played by Shirley Stoler.

Among the other prisoners at the camp is an Anarchist played by Fernando Rey. The Anarchist is the movie’s moral center.

Pasquelino decides that the only way he’ll survive the camp is by ingratiating himself with the Commandant — via seduction.

THAT scene also is a comedic gem. The Commandant knows exactly what “the macaroni” as she calls him is doing. She lets him.

For his efforts, he will get “rank” and “privilege” among the prisoners. But there will be requirements, too. Terrible ones.

The first? Pasquelino must personally execute his best friend there at the camp. Survival is everything to Pasquelino — and he does it. He executes his friend.

That’s enough for the Anarchist. He kills himself by deliberately drowning in the camp’s sewer trench. “Better the shit than this!”

Yeah — there’s a line in the sand. Cross it and you’ve lost your “soul” (whatever you perceive it to be). Whatever integrity you had is gone. Gone, gone, GONE.

If ever a movie spoke to our times, it’s “Seven Beauties”. The Republican Party pissed away every last drop of honor it ever had. It seduced Evil even as Evil was seducing IT.

Think about the country Republicans are hell bent on turning America into. It’s America circa 1850. With Russian overtones.

Lina Wertmuller’s Anarchist got it exactly right — “Better the shit than that!”

Republicans Have No Idea What “Integrity” Is — “Ditto” The Rule Of Law

Ever meet a guy with 96% of his integrity intact? “Yeah — he’s pretty honest most of the time… it’s that 4% where he’s a goddamned liar that’s the problem” is not a sentence one hears often. There’s a reason.

Integrity either is or it isn’t. There’s no middle ground, no grey area. In fact, there’s no grey area anywhere near Integrity’s zip code.

We’re all born equal where Integrity’s concerned: we all get 100% at birth. It’s entirely up to us what we do with it. Treat people with respect (“Do Unto Others is how Jesus put it) and you’re likely to keep your Integrity at 100% your whole life. Make a habit of screwing people over and people will quickly realize that you’re a dishonest shit not worth their time.

Republicans are people who somehow got it in their heads that there IS an Integrity grey area. This is something they told themselves, being corrupt. Republicans still think (apparently) that their continuing association with every Trumpian abuse of our Republic won’t haunt them when Donald Trump is long in our rear view mirror.

They could not be more wrong.

Having no Integrity, it wasn’t hard for Republicans to bust a cap in The Rule Of Law’s noggin. Just like with Integrity, the Rule Of Law can’t live in any middle ground. The Rule Of Law must either “be” or “not be”.

Our problem started the instant we turned a blind eye to the smallest violation of The Rule Of Law. To not enforce is to move the goal posts. What should have remained illegal has now been granted “don’t bother with it” status. Who made such a decision — and why? The Rule Of Law didn’t make it. It violates The Rule Of Law right on its face.

What really exacerbates our problem is this — our Main Stream News Media have repeatedly normalized behaviors and flat out corruption that should have set their heads ablaze. Instead, they eventually let every last Trumpian outrage (illegal ones included) go. And each time they let go and looked toward Trump’s next sparkly object, they paid for it. More importantly, We The People paid for it.

When — it’s not an “if” — we manage to get The Rule Of Law back up onto its feet, we may be shocked by how cruel The Rule Of Law seems. a Shitload of Republicans will have to be punished — including Republicans who eventually came around (talking to YOU, Joe Walsh). Those Republicans that had so much as an inkling what Trump & the GOP were up to (especially as it concerns quid-pro-quoing sanctions) need to be punished because The Rule Of Law says you report shit like that to the Proper Authorities — the FBI, for instance.

We have to be firm though in seeing that The Rule Of Law is carried out to its very letter even if people we like get swept up in its execution.

If we saw The Rule Of Law any differently, it would mean we had zero Integrity.

Integrity’s An All Or Nothing Proposition – You Either Have It Or You Don’t

In the movie Princess Bride, Wallace Sean’s Vizzini, confounded by their inability to outrun Cary Elwes’ Westley, repeats the word “inconceivable” with increasing consternation until, at one point, Mandy Patinkin’s Inago Montoya responds famously —

We have the exact same problem with the whole concept of INTEGRITY — never mind the word. A Democratic system of government relies on the integrity of its voting process. We think our voting system has “integrity”. That’s bullshit. There are several terrific citizen-journalist-investigators who’ve done deep, deep dives into the fact that our voting systems have pretty damned close to ZERO integrity (Jennifer Cohen and Mike Farb have been especially intrepid and indefatigable in their pursuit of the truth).

Our inability to see this core problem — this complete lack of integrity in a system — shouts volumes about our inability to see a lack of integrity in other humans. Isn’t that the way con men work, after all? The first thing they sell you isn’t a product, it’s bullshit — that they have integrity and you, dear rube, can absolutely trust them.

Donald Trump is a fabulist who has never understood that such a thing as “Truth” even exists. To a sociopath like Trump, the truth is whatever he thinks it is in that moment — whatever he says “the truth” is. Its connection to reality is irrelevant. Anyone who stands beside Donald Trump — knowing (and how can you not) that he lies as easily as he breathes — not only accepts Donald Trump’s lack of integrity, but demonstrates that they, too, have none. How can you stand with a liar and still have integrity?

It’s impossible. You just can’t.

When America stops standing by its word — when we pinball around erratically with no moral compass — we demonstrate that we AS A COUNTRY no longer have integrity (with the caveat being that our integrity has been under assault — if not completely DOA — forever and ever). Should we be surprised when Iran prepares for war against a schizophrenic foe whose word means nothing? Should we be shocked when every country with an agenda understands that with enough money, you can get the American government to do your bidding — even if it runs counter to America’s best interests?

Our news media doesn’t grasp how THEIR integrity lies in tatters. They don’t grasp that the moment they shrugged off “Mexicans are rapists” and then (as if that wasn’t enough FFS!) “pussy-grabbing” — they busted a cap in their own integrity as the final check on power. Even as every norm of behavior, decency, logic and longstanding tradition sloughed off around them, CNN, MSNBC, The WaPo, the NYTimes — pretty much our entire MSM — continued to turn a blind eye in the name of access. If they dared confront a blatant liar with his lies, they worried, he might not talk to them. Correction: he might not lie to them.

We’re living in an age where Joseph Goebbels’ famous “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth” has, ironically, become a kind of truth. It’s how things “are” now.

Can we even spell “integrity” anymore?