“Me” v “We”

That, in a nutshell, is the argument we’re having in America today: the rights of “ME” v the rights of “WE”.

I hesitate to call anything “Republican thinking” anymore. That’s an oxymoron. Republicans don’t think, they perpetrate. They’re criminals engaged in a criminal enterprise — the overthrow of the legitimate American government by a devil’s brew of RW money (the Kochs & Mercers), corrupt Republican politicians (Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, Lindsey Graham) and Russian intelligence carrying out a literal plan of operation hatched by Putin himself.

Ask yourself — why are the Republicans doing this? They’re a minority — and getting “minority-ier”. They’re tossing the Constitution and rule of law overboard to hold onto power. What could be more “ME” than that?

What could be more “ME” than a dwindling white minority staring a diverse and diversifying majority in the eye and insisting “ME” while they insist “No, WE”?

Racism is an implied right to hate. No such right exists except in the racist’s mind. Racist thinking and contemporary conservative thinking are a horrifying conjoined twin. They both aspire either to keep America right where it is — a place still simmering in multi-faceted institutional racism or (better yet, to them) a place where nobody talks about racism because it’s that baked in. You, like in the good ol’ 50’s — the 1850’s.

Conservative thinking values property (theirs) over life (yours). Proudly Christian, it’s taken “Do unto others” and turned it into “Do what we say”.

The most glaring example of conservative thinking in our everyday life occurs any time someone walks into a hospital or doctor’s office needing health CARE. The first question we ask isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?”

Before you can get well, we need to know that someone’s gonna make a buck.

That’s slavery thinking where everyone below “Boss Man” is expendable.

Conservatives will tell you all about how the “rugged individual” has any and every right he needs to do what he wants — even if that right tramples other peoples’ rights. When conservatives & libertarians picture that “rugged individual” in their minds? He’s as white as they are. Not only don’t conservatives believe “all men are created equal”, they don’t believe “all rights are created equal” either.

Their rights will always be able to “beat up” our rights (same way their imaginary friend can beat the snot out of yours).

Gun laws aren’t about “rights” per se, they’re about fear — that shrinking white-male-Christian minority legitimizing their bunker mentality. When they think of “people owning all the guns they want”, they aren’t including people of color in that. If they thought for two seconds that the black guy living cross town was arming himself with the same intensity? They’d shit-can that law in a heartbeat.

Donald Trump isn’t the only delusional male telling himself “I alone can fix it”. That disease afflicts plenty of Republicans. You know how pretty much every Republican takes every opportunity to tell us how “God-fearing” they are? Well, that’s bullshit. They don’t “fear” God, they think they “ARE” God. That’s why they alone can “fix it”.

How much more “ME” can ya get?

Progressives view the world through a more “socialized” lens. Having sampled crony capitalism now — and found it wanting — it’s long past time that we try a more legitimate form of capitalism. While we intuitively assume that the people with the most money are “the best capitalists” who know better than the rest of us how capitalism works, if that capitalist is corrupt (they are), they’re actually undermining capitalism, not nurturing it.

Capitalism relies on innovation to focus capital where it needs to go to 1) do the most good and 2) return the most on its investment while doing the most good. Smart capital knows that things that do the most good spread wealth around — which then puts that capital back into the system so it can continue to inspire new innovation. Progressive capitalism self-perpetuates the flow of capital.

Corrupt capital directs all available wealth to its own pocket. The only thing that trickles down is misery. Nothing gets innovated. Everything slowly grinds to a halt as the rich get richer and no one else can afford to buy anything.

“ME”, again.

It’s hard to have a consumer driven economy that depends on consumer confidence when the consumers have no confidence in the economy. But then, crony capitalists — like conservatives — never think that far into the future. That’s because the future is what they’re trying to avoid.

Progressives make better capitalists. Progressives also govern better — because they’re automatically more concerned with “WE” than “ME”. Progressives aren’t perfect. There’s no such thing. But progressives — because it’s how we think — naturally look for solutions that work for the greatest number of people over solutions that work for fewer people.

Progressives understand that “fair” needs to apply to everyone equally. It’s tricky. That’s why the rule of law is so important. Progressives stand by, behind and with the rule of law because it’s the very best way to assure “WE” are treated equally.

Progressives understand that as important as the rights of the individual are, they cannot supersede the rights of the group. A gun owner’s right to stand at his front door, beer in hand, blasting away at his neighbors just for fun cannot supersede his neighbors’ rights to not get shot at by a drunken yahoo.

Progressives really and truly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats.

That’s “all boats” as in “WE”.

The Majority Of Us Did Not Vote For Trump Or What He’s Doing. So, How Come He’s Doing It Anyway?

It’s strange to live in a democracy (well, a democratic republic) where the majority does not get its way. Apparently by design.

It’s kind of hard for a democracy to continue being a democracy when too few of its citizens take part in the very process that makes a democracy work: voting. The whole point is “self-government”. We do the work.

As I’ve argued here before, too many Americans (on the right) have a 5 year old’s notion of freedom. They think freedom means “You’re not the boss of me”. Everyone can do what they like. Since freedom comes with zero responsibilities or obligations, it doesn’t matter if your “freedom” infringes or obliterates somebody else’s. So long as your freedom “wins”? Who cares?

For starters, those whose freedoms are being infringed upon or ignored. They care.

But then, right-wing people only ever think of their own freedom when they think of that word. Everyone else’s freedom is secondary at best.

That includes their freedom to vote.

At its core, this election, this fight — it is about freedom: the group’s freedom over the individual’s freedom (to undermine the group’s freedom).

That’s what racism is — it’s the racist asserting that their rights supersede their victims’ rights. If their victims’ rights were automatically respected, the racist would lose instantly — because we’d “baked in” our intolerance of racism. But we’ve done the opposite — and baked in our tolerance of racism.

Racism exists because we let it exist — no other reason.

That changed. Americans are taking to the streets every single day to protest racism and all the terrible thing it’s done to specific people. But, also we’re protesting the fact that We The People tolerated it for so long. We allowed statues of racists and traitors to go up. We allowed them to remain in place. We accepted their “messaging” — that some peoples rights are better than other peoples’.

The times in my life when I’ve been proud to be an American had everything to do with accomplishments (the moon landing) and nothing to do with our “system”. I’ve been taught that our system is superior — with the words “freedom” and “liberty” being liberally tossed in — but never specifically “why” we were better.

I don’t know when Americans lost interest in our process or if we ever had any interest in it. Maybe the problem is democracy’s damned hard to pull off. You can’t ever take it for granted. You can’t just throw money at it.

Hmmmmm… maybe that’s another of our problems. We’ve confused money with democracy. The more money you have, the more “democracy” you have. That is, the more your vote counts.

The RW money — the Kochs, the Mercers — had a huge advantage going in to this. They had money of course. But they also had “passion”. They cared enough about what they wanted to do something. The Kochs have been behind gerrymandering and the hijacking of the judiciary. When people vote repeatedly but never get their way — or feel the ominous pressure of judges who disapprove of who they are (so, it doesn’t really matter what they’ve done) — they get cynical. They stop taking part in the process because what’s the point?

They stop voting.

They begin to act like victims expecting their victimization to go on forever.

Rapists rape because they don’t care about the word “no”. It means nothing to them. It’s not a coincidence that every sexual deviant in office (that we know of — to be fair) has an “R” next to their name. That’s why child molesters like Roy Moore can run as Republicans. They’re the “Rights Of The Rapist Over The Rights Of The Rapist’s Victim” party.

That’s the answer to “how come Trump’s doing it anyway?” He’s a rapist. Rapists do what they want. He’s gotten away with it because his party is complicit. And they are — for the moment — getting away with it because WE were complicit for so long — tolerating more and more of our rights being trampled (with the caveat that they were always being trampled).

Progressives want as many people as possible to thrive and flourish. E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. The more there are in the “many”, the better the “one” will be. That is American Exceptionalism — our diversity. That is the majority that voted against Trump in 2016 and 2018 and who will again vote against Trump this year.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by around 3,000,000 votes. That were counted. I bet someone could do some research and come up with a more accurate number that included all those votes that DIDN’T get counted. Or got flipped by electronic voting machines. Or were denied at their polling place. Or were dissuaded from even showing up by propaganda that filled their Facebook pages (propaganda send specifically to them from Russia via Konstantin Kilimnik and Paul Manafort). Or were “taught” from early on that there was no point in their voting to begin with.

I bet a more accurate assessment of 2016 would have Hillary Clinton and We The People decimating Donald Trump. Take Russia out of the picture and Trump certainly does not win Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin — and therefore the Electoral College (a whole “institution” meant to limit the freedom of the voters to have their say and way).

What scares Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Bill Barr, Mikes Pompeo, Flynn & Pence more than anything? Aside from how guilty they are, it’s how small a minority of Americans they represent. Seeing the majority suddenly rise up — taking to the streets every day — terrifies them.

I wonder if Donald Trump realized last night — as he gazed at all those empty blue seats in Tulsa — if the end was near. He’s gotten away with murder. Literally.

And that’s about to stop.

The majority has had enough.

Here’s The Problem With Letting Religions People Run Things, Part Two: Bill Barr

We all know Bill Barr as the most corrupt Attorney General of all time — that’s more corrupt than Republican all-stars Alberto Gonzalez (George W Bush’s AG), John Mitchell, (Dick Nixon’s AG — who went to prison for being corrupt) and Bill Barr himself (he was George H W Bush’s AG & covered up Iran-Contra).

But Bill Barr also stands out almost as much for being a certifiable religious fanatic.

Something about America has both attracted and inspired religious fanaticism. Shakerism was invented here (in 1772). So was Mormonism (1830). Seventh-Day Adventists opened shop in 1863. Jehovah’s Witnesses hung out their shingle in 1870. Church of Christ, Scientist 1879. Pentecostalism 1906. Reconstructionist Judaism 1920’s. Nation of Islam 1930. Church of Scientology 1953. And, let’s not forget, there have been plenty of smaller religious-oriented off-shoots like David Koresh’s Branch Dividian sect and Jim Jones’ Peoples’ Temple.

Something in us just plain adores ooga-booga with extra helpings of both ooga and booga.

Among the sects that fly under the radar is Dominionism. Dominionism (per Wikipedia) “is a group of Christian political ideologies that seek to institute a nation governed by Christians based on their understandings of biblical law. Now, Dominionism isn’t a club per se or an organization that hands out membership cards. We know that Dominionists see and seek brotherhood with other Dominionists (they have meetings in public places). But most of the big name Dominionists practice their anti-Jesus version of Christianity in the shadows.

The Kochs and Mercers think of themselves as “fellow travelers” with Dominionism. The Koch Brothers don’t seem especially religious but who has to “be” religious when the culture you’re shoving down everyone’s throat will do the dirty work for you? Same token — Attorney General Bill Barr may not be a card-carrying Dominionist but the religious fervor running around in his head is just as wacky, just as offensive, just as dangerous to our representative democracy.

Bill Barr believes in a bizarre brand of Catholicism that may even be darker and more regressive than Dominionism.

In a speech on religious freedom that he delivered to the Notre Dame Law School on October 11, 2019, Barr said —

“Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large.

No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity.

But, if you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny.

On the other hand, unless you have some effective restraint, you end up with something equally dangerous – licentiousness – the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good. This is just another form of tyranny – where the individual is enslaved by his appetites, and the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles.

Bill Barr, Christian, fears other peoples’ “powerful passions and appetites”. He’s worried about THEM “riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large” — you know, like a police department beating the shit out of unarmed, peaceful protesters.

A more “effective restrant”, in Bill’s mind (overflowing as it is with “moral values”) —

“[T]o control willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.

Everything, to Bill, rests upon the thinking and feelings of a “transcendent Supreme Being”. Now, whose “transcendent Supreme Being” are we talking about here — the one who lives in Bill’s head or the one who lives in mine? Bill can’t say whether or not a Supreme Being lives in my head — he can’t get inside my head.

The Supreme Being inside my head says the Supreme Being inside Bill Barr’s head is full of shit. My Supreme Being says Bill Barr (and HIS Supreme Being) are bullies who should be ignored. In fact, my Supreme Being tells me every single day what a corrupt pile of shit Bill Barr is and how she can’t fathom why we Americans don’t just throw such an obvious criminal like Bill Barr in jail.

That’s what MY Supreme Being says. I bet Bill’s Supreme Being says something entirely different.

That’s the problem. Whose Supreme Being are we talking about here? Bill, of course, only talks about HIS Supreme Being — and not because Bill believes so fervently in his deity. In fact, Bill Barr — like most religionistas — doesn’t believe in God at all. Don’t get me wrong — Bill Barr absolutely believes there’s a God. Problem is, Bill Barr thinks it’s him.

That’s the deep, dark, dirty secret of pretty much every hard core religionista. They claim to understand God. They claim to speak for God. It’s easy — because they think they ARE God.

Right there — that’s the problem with letting a religious person like Bill Barr run ANYTHING. He’s not actually qualified to run a Department of Justice. He’s too corrupt.

He’s no more qualified to be “God”. Same reason.

It’s Not Hyperbole: Donald Trump Is Not Now Nor Has He Ever Been Legitimate President Of The United States

Let’s start with this understanding — even in the world of beauty pageants, there are rules. There are laws even — and cheating even in something as trivial as a “who’s prettier?” contest — carries actual legal peril (beyond just losing a wardrobe department crown). Not that it ever stopped Donald Trump.

Our problem is so simple. We have only two political parties. They no longer want to live in (or govern) the same country. The Democrats want to live in this country. Republicans want to live in that country instead.

In this country, where the Democrats want to live, democracy rules. So do diversity, fairness and a level playing field. In that country, the one Republicans want to call home, there is no level playing field, there are just fields where the rest of us are meant to work our lives away for no money. It’s not a coincidence that during the Trump presidency, the rich have gotten exponentially richer. It’s also not a coincidence that the Covid-19 pandemic made the richest of the richer even richer still.

In pursuit of greed, The GOP sold out to the Koch Brothers & the Mercers then Donald Trump and his Russian Oligarch Pals (led by Vlad Putin). So long as they get richer and hold onto power, nothing else matters to Mitch McConnell and what remains of the GOP. Do ya suppose there’s a reason Republicans – and only Republicans – have worked so hard to suppress investigations into what happened during election 2016 and then lie about what those investigations uncovered? Donald Trump keeps projecting what happened. Why don’t we listen to him?

The word Trump keeps floating out there like a beach ball on a hitting T is “illegitimate”. He fears the world perceives his presidency as illegitimate. Why would that be, I wonder?

Sociopath though he is, Trump still knows enough to understand he can never stop being POTUS. The second he ceases to be protected by that ludicrous DoJ rules that says “sitting presidents can’t be indicted”, he WILL be indicted and he knows it. At the very least, Trump will go from being “unindicted co-conspirator number one” in the court case that sent Michael Cohen to prison to being INDICTED co-conspirator number one. Why wouldn’t he?

And — Trump knows this too — that first indictment will set off an explosion of falling dominoes across a variety of jurisdictions. Trump and his family and their businesses will get sued by virtually everyone. And law enforcement (now under the Rule Of Law again) will come after him for everything he’s done. They’ll have to because that’s what the Rule Of Law says they MUST do.

The Rule Of Law says Donald Trump has never been President of the United States. It can PROVE Donald Trump has never been POTUS. It has remedies, too.

An illegitimate POTUS never had the authority to nominate anyone for anything. It’s like any of us trying to nominate the next pope. We won’t be getting into that room actually. We don’t have the authority to be there. And if we walked in the door and voted anyway? Do you think they’d count it just cos we voted?

No.

And if we brought a gang with us (including our pal Vladimir) and took over the voting — cheating in myriad obvious ways to get a result that looks suspiciously wrong (as in the majority of bishops there did not vote the way the vote came out) — do you think that vote would stand up to any sort of historical smell test?

No, it would not.

Retrospect will not be kind to us. We have stood by for three years while a soft coup d’etat runs roughshod over and dismantles everything we thought we were. Our news media has convinced us that crimes committed against us — especially out in the open — can’t possibly be crimes. That’s it. That’s the logic.

And as faulty on its surface as that is, we need to see Donald Trump’s very legitimacy as faulty. The framing shouldn’t be “Donald Trump — an unusual potus — won an election so that’s just how it is”. It should be “Donald Trump is a traitor — working hand-in-glove with Vladimir Putin (and other foreign actors) — to circumvent the will of the American People — including his election and now re-election”.

This will matter “bigly” as Trump would put it (or “big league” — it’s so hard to decipher what that inarticulate shit gibbon is saying sometimes!) when we get to the prosecution and punishment phases of what’s to come. if the receipts prove that, in fact, Donald Trump’s election was fraudulent, then we need to consider the ripple effects of that fraud.

To go back to the beauty pageant — if I cheat to win and my cheating gets discovered? They ain’t letting me keep the crown or anything else that went with sweet victory. They’re taking it all back and kicking my lying ass to the curb — where it bloody well belongs. Car thieves (when caught) don’t get to keep the ride they stole. Even the movie “LaLaLand” had to give back the Oscar it thought it won (to “Moonlight”). The reason? The LEGITIMATE winner gets to keep the spoils.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s how it will be when the Rule Of Law becomes a “thing” again.

The Rule Of Law will insist that we prosecute everyone who violated it (especially if they were trying to undermine its very foundations). It will insist we do it fairly of course. And, if we find these people guilty? The Rule Of Law will insist that we punish them.

if we want to keep the Rule Of Law? We better do as it says.

And the Rule Of Law will insist that none of the judicial nominees Donald Trump nominated can remain on the federal benches they occupy — because Donald Trump never had the authority given him by We The People to nominate said judges. Stolen authority is not THE authority. Added bonus? Plenty of the judges Trump nominated lied repeatedly during their nomination hearings before the Senate. If they indeed committed perjury (boy, do we have receipts!), they can’t remain judges. We’ll impeach them — and they will be impeached.

We’ve traveled miles from where we began with the Trump saga. Imagine if, on the day Trump was sworn in, we’d been as vigilant about Trump, his corruption, his lies, his racism, his misogyny, his TREASON as we are now. Imagine if our news media had been capable of adding information so that their framing of Donald Trump constantly updated; we wouldn’t still be treating him like a “different kind of potus” as some of the news media still think of him. We’d be treating him like the treasonous, corrupt pretender he’s always been.

Yeah, I’m old enough to remember when saying Russia too loudly got eye rolls. When using the word “Traitor” got groans. When comparing Trump to Hitler ended the argument cos you went “there”. But “there”, it turns out, is where we all should have been.

Our choice is going to be incredibly simple. If we don’t void the results of election 2016 — if we allow criminals bent on undermining our democratic institutions to get away with it — we will be setting ourselves up for failure. It would be like letting racists get away with “Slavery, Part II”. Not outlawing slavery was a colossal mistake that will haunt the republic forever. We’re still fighting the Civil War. Make no mistake. It’s still a going concern.

And the same forces that betrayed us then for immoral reasons are betraying us now. They’ve never actually been down with representative democracy because people never want to vote for their ideas. They can’t grasp why no one else wants to live in the 50’s.

That’s the 1850’s.

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.

There Simply Is No Conservative Way Out Of This Mess; Conservatism Put Us Here

How do pandemics happen? After the pathogen gets revved up — and finds its entree into human hosts — the next important event is denial.

China denied it had a problem. That made their problem exponentially larger — and then made their problem EVERYONE’S problem. Coronavirus became OUR problem because we’re humans sharing the planet with authoritarian liars. It became a bigger problem than it needed to be because Donald Trump knows he must remain president at all costs; the instant he stops being potus, a shitload of legal problems will begin. Trump is such a day trader that he thinks not testing anyone will solve his problem — because if there aren’t test results saying Americans have or are dying from the coronavirus (and Covid 19 the disease it causes). it means the coronavirus problem isn’t happening.

Just like if the stock market is up, it means “Trump good” and if the stock market is down, it means “Democrats bad”.

Conservatives are especially good at denial. Remember — conservatives want to “conserve”, just like their name says. What do they want to conserve? It can’t be the future — you can’t conserve what doesn’t exist, right? But you can conserve the present — which is what conservatives think of as a “compromise”. In their minds, too much of the past has already been lost. If we just keep things as they are forever — conserving them — they’ll be happy.

Never mind that “how things are now” is still grossly unfair to a whole lot of people — many of them black, brown, LGBTQ, immigrant or undocumented. The playing field is not now nor has it ever been level.

Conservative values are inherently racist values. The America conservatives want to conserve caters to white, male Christians. It cedes all primacy to them because they’re white, Christian and male. White, Christian male conservatives — the rich ones — declared war on the rest of us. The Kochs, the Mercers et cetera saw the demographic handwriting on the wall: they weren’t just going to be a minority, they were going to be a powerless minority unless they did something. Having money — and power in their hands — they did something.

They gerrymandered. They suppressed votes. They hitched their wagon to Russia and Donald Trump. Anything and everything to make conservatism — via minority rule — a permanent fixture in American politics. Conservatism has no intention of compromising. Newt Gingrich even said that part out loud, remember? What Democrat would ever say “I alone can fix it” and expect a huge chunk of those listening to nod along in agreement?

Conservatism is greed. And greed never makes anyone smarter.

If a million Americans succumbed to Covid19, that would not make Republicans unhappy. They’re hoping that the overwhelming majority of the dead are Democrats — completing the coup d’etat they launched in 2016 with their Russian pals. What a shame for them that Trump-loving Republicans will fill most of those body bags because they believe Trump and refuse to quarantine or social-distance themselves from others.

The conservative response to Trump’s relationship with Russia was to shrug. Of course — it’s THEIR relationship with Russia. They can’t “solve that”, can they? They’re owned — and want to be.

The conservative response to the coronavirus pandemic is to insist the economy is way ore important than anyone’s health. As always, conservatives frame everything from the point of view of a false choice. The world has to be this way or that way. Wrong question.

Ours is a consumerism-based economy. It works when people buy things. Demand rules. If there’s no demand? There’s no economy. And consumers afraid that a restaurant meal may be fatal will not dine in restaurants. They won’t go to gyms or barber shops or yoga classes or night clubs or bars or stadiums. They won’t have CONFIDENCE in their own personal safety. They won’t “buy” anything

And if people don’t buy then no one can sell. There will not be any sort of “economy”. The conservative “way out” is not a way out at all. It’s a way in deeper. As we’re already experiencing. See? We ARE the receipts to the conservative argument. Remember how trickle down economics resulted in zero trickling down? Same thing. We’re the lab rats.

What scares the shit out of conservatives — aside from the fact that they got us here — is the fact that even THEY know the only way out is via Progressive policies and approaches. The fact is, the federal government COULD cash flow Americans for a period of time — Universal Basic Incoming EVERYONE. That money won’t sit in anyone’s pocket (except maybe the already wealthy). Instead it will flood the economy with cash as people buy the goods and services they need (and want).

Does this come at a cost? Of course it does. We will pay higher taxes — but what’s the alternative? Total ruin? The people who WILL bear the brunt of the tax burden are those who can already afford it — the 1% who now hold 80% of the wealth. They did not “earn” that money. They took it. Not the same thing.

Let’s remember one other thing: those tax dollars We The People will use to cash flow us out of this mess that conservative thinking did to us? It’s OURS. We paid it in via our tax dollars (that includes every tax we pay in addition to just federal income tax). That money isn’t conservatives’ to parcel out. It’s OURS. And if we say WE need it now to help us — we’ll take and we’ll use it.

Conservatives now stand for racism, sexism, bigotry, corruption, treason, propaganda and death. How in hell’s name does one compromise with any of that? One can’t, of course.

That means there’s really no room at the table for moderation either. After all — what are we moderating between? Progressivism and corruption?

We will get through this. We’re the majority — by a lot. And Americans have no history of giving in to fascism — especially the more diverse parts of us — the majority that conservatives are so afraid of. We will not stand for this. We just won’t. And the increasing number of women running for office? They won’t stand for it either.

We will emerge from this a very different nation with different values. Not “different” actually — more honest. More human. More humane. More socialized.

We can’t continue on with a health system based on insurance rather than care. If only one person catches the virus again and they can’t afford to be treated? They won’t get treated. Instead, they’ll start the whole infection cycle all over again. We can only ever be as “healthy” as a nation as the least healthy among us. That’s so “Jesus-y”, isn’t it? All “Do unto others”.

When Republicans are swept from political office all across the country — they absolutely will be (and EVERY American’s vote is required to make that happen) — Progressive values and legislation will take hold and take off.

And it will all be because conservatives got to have their way.

The irony is already delicious.

There’s An 800 Pound Gorilla In The Room — A Crazy Form Of Christianity Is Now Running The Country

Would you trust your soul to this money changer?

Want to know what’s scarier than a zombie coming to eat your brain? An evangelical opening his mouth to speak.

Let’s get this straight: what happened to us in 2016 was nothing less than a coup d’etat — a messy love triangle of first rate Russian spy craft with American Right Wing Money and America’s fatal flaw, the fact that we made slavery legal. There’s one theme that touches every part of that triangle — Christianity.

What motivates Vladimir Putin? A deep, deep Russian nationalism. And deep faith in the Russian Orthodox church. That “faith” is colored by realpolitik of course. Religion and politics always are. Putin wanted sanction relief because he wasn’t rich enough for his liking. They were willing to back Trump all the way — to accomplish their ends.

Right Wing Christian Money — the Kochs, the Mercers, Sheldon Adlestein too (greed is Sheldon’s religion) — may have hated Trump but when you’re that cynical, you can tolerate an awful lot of rot to get what you want. The Right Wing money recognized that Reagan was their last hurrah. The demographics going forward were completely against them. The only saving grace — the perverse way the senate overweighs open real estate vs actual humans. The RW money knew that, except for stealing the executive branch via phony legal logic (Bush v Gore), there’d never be another Republican POTUS. The House of Representatives is beyond anyone’s control. It’s the Peoples’ house. Our most direct connection to actual Democracy. Expecting to hold the senate — and therefore its overweight toward conservative states — the RW money set its sites on the judiciary. They tasked Mitch McConnell with denying Barack Obama any and every judge they could — including Merrick Garland.

What motivates RW money? Keeping that money of course. To do that, you have to have the reins of power in your hands. Otherwise, those in power might try to take your money — never mind the fact that you built your pile of money on the back of the Commonweal. The rich getting richer does not make Democracy better, it undermines Democracy because some votes become more powerful than other votes.

RW money is also motivated — here in America — by Christian faith. That’s perverse right from the get-go considering how Jesus felt about money changers and greed. But, then, the bulk of American Christianity — to judge purely by the way it talks about itself — couldn’t care less about Jesus. The bulk of American Christianity sees Jesus as a pretty mascot — Santa, but “holy”. “Do unto others” is great stuff for sermons — platitudes always are. But the real purpose of any church is to keep being a church.

Jesus spoke pretty clearly — you don’t need a church or a high priest to talk to god. Anyone can do it directly.

Again — you don’t need a church. But, once you start building a church — literally or metaphorically — it takes work to keep it from falling down. Gravity, the elements and time destroy a building’s integrity. Logic, knowledge and learning destroy metaphorical churches.

Even Christianity’s own history tells a story of what happens when make-believe rules. How many people have died because they stood on one side vs the other in one of Christianity’s great schisms? How many Catholics have killed Protestants because they were Protestants and vice versa? I can’t say I see where Jesus fits into it.

I can see clearly how churches do though. Churches sell religion. They don’t sell spirituality. They’re not qualified.

Churches sell exclusivity, too. That’s why groups like Opus Dei and the Dominionists exist. They’re exclusive clubs within the exclusive that is their denomination. They’re the “extra-religious” ones who see themselves doing Paul’s work — spreading the “good news” that if you say you accept the ooga-booga, you, too, can beat death.

Religious people also confuse success and failure in life with religion. They believe their success is the result of a sky deity smiling on them because they’re special. Literally – that is what they believe.

Poor people, conversely, are poor (to this way of thinking) because they deserve to be poor. It goes no deeper that.

But then, how deep do you really have to do when you’re making it all up?

American RW money and its twisted version of Christianity have always seen the bible as their justification for slavery. If slavery was in the bible, it must be because it’s good. As five minutes spent with any televangelist will tell you, the bible is the most dangerous piece of literature (that’s all it is) ever compiled — if only because it makes stupid people stupider.

You have to be stupid to think slavery is acceptable. Greed made slavery acceptable. Greed makes everyone stupid.

America’s Christian-iest Christians insist that “God” chose Donald Trump to be POTUS.

Somewhere — if he ever existed — Jesus is weeping.

Corruption, Thy Name Is GOP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Republican Politics.

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

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

Immigration – And The Diversity It Brings – THAT Is “American Exceptionalism”

Rich Christian white guys, pumped up on cheap beer (they don’t drink it for the taste, they drink it to get plastered) think THEY are American Exceptionalism.

What Republicans think “American Exceptionalism” looks like…

Rich, Christian white guys with real money — we’re talking Koch & Mercer level wealth — don’t care about American Exceptionalism. They care about maintaining power and cultural hegemony. They don’t give a damn if enriching themselves far beyond ANYONE’S ability to spend the money even multiple generations onward results in the demise of the greatest experiment in human self government ever.

But American Exceptionalism is a very real thing. While white Christian men — already advantaged because they brought the money with them — may have placed themselves at the center of power in their new-fangled Democratic Republic, they weren’t actually the generators of the new ideas and vitality that would bring more money (and more new ideas and vitality) to the country — all those diverse OTHER PEOPLE were and still are.

Money is important to realizing great ideas. But money doesn’t “make” the ideas. Great minds do. And most every human has the potential for greatness in one way or another if given the chance (and the training, education and encouragement).

Take just a cursory glance at the biggest ideas of the last century — who did the innovating, whose cleverness solved a challenging problem, whose genius made lots of people lots of money — and you’ll see a sea of diverse faces staring back.

If American authoritarians continue to hold power (minority rule, remember) — and they drive every immigrant away — it will only be a matter of time before somewhere else becomes “Exceptional” in the way we used to be.

But then, looking backward — to how it was — is what rich, white, Christian men are all about. They’re “conservatives” remember — hell bent on conserving. The exceptionalism they have in mind exists only IN their mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m talking to YOU, Moscow Mitch McConnell.

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

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