Of Republicans, Rabbit Holes And Russia

If the last four plus years of Trumpism feel like anything recognizable, it’s Wonderland. Before Team Biden could begin to effectively govern — the thing we elected them to do — first, they’ve had to confront, reverse, strip out or defuse the myriad ways Donald Trump and his corrupter-than-corrupt admin went about destroying our ability to self-govern. From the first instant Trump cruised down that golden escalator in Trump Tower — “Mexicans are rapists” simmering in his ape brain — he was on a mission to destroy American democracy at the behest of Vladimir Putin. Any journalist in America (or the world) could have figured that out even before Trump got nominated. Proof was there that, as current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it as he walked into a meeting of GOP muckety-mucks, “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” No one in the room disputed Kevin or demanded he produce proof. No one called the FBI to report their suspicions either. In fact, plenty of the GOP leadership (like then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan) demanded they all keep that knowledge — that their soon-to-be presidential nominee was likely compromised by a hostile foreign power engaged in a cyber war against us — “in the family”.

Imagine that: you are deeply suspicious that your presidential nominee is compromised by a country at cyber war with us and yet you do nothing about it. Why’s that exactly?

The truth-telling part of the story has begun. It will accelerate the instant Merrick Garland clocks in at the rejuvenated Department of Justice and the Department commits itself to uncovering all the players in the January 6 Insurrection. Pull one thread and the whole corrupt sweater will (pretty quickly, I bet) begin to fall apart. We don’t want or need Merrick Garland to be partisan to anything other than the rule of law. If he and his DoJ can just do that — enforce the rule of law evenly for the first time in the country’s history — it’s all over but the shouting for the GOP. And there’s already plenty of shouting, banging the table and making a nuisance because grievance and self-pity are the only arguments for staying in power the Republican Party has anymore.

Remember Fusion GPS — the company that first hired Chris Steele and set the “Steele Dossier” ball rolling? When Glenn Simpson (one of Fusion’s two founders) testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017 (the Republican-run committee was trying to undermine the Steele Dossier’s integrity), he pointed out how, when they were hired by the conservative Washington Free Beacon to examine Trump, the first thing they did was their “due diligence”. They got their hands on every piece of publicly available material they could find on Trump — from his birth certificate to his youthful indiscretions, to being kicked out of school for being a cheater and an asshole to the claptrap about his being a “self-made man” to the money laundering fiascos that were his Atlantic City casinos. Fusion’s team got ahold of every book, every newspaper piece or magazine article, every radio sit-down or TV interview. Every time he farted in public. The Donald Trump on exhibit in publicly available material was so clearly an international criminal laundering Russian mob money that Fusion hired Chris Steele to back it all up.

The Steele Dossier — for the record — was proven mostly correct and that’s quite an accomplishment for a collection of raw intel (which is what the Dossier is). Intelligence rarely deals in black and white. There are few “smoking guns” but that doesn’t mean one can’t intuit them. It’s a little like accepting that a star we can’t see really does exist; our proof is all the light moving around it and through its gravity. We use what we know to prove what we don’t.

After the Reagan years, the Republican money (mostly the Kochs and the Mercers) saw that any future “hoorahs” would have to be entirely manufactured. The key to the future — to their future — lay in controlling one branch of government: the judiciary. The House is too mercurial and unpredictable to be a good partner. The Senate, the Republicans figured, would stay in their hands for a good while longer. The executive branch — take away Antonin Scalia dancing like a Geisha atop a pin to make Bush v Gore work logically — and Republicans haven’t had a legitimate shot at the White House in forever. The only branch really still keep-able, the RW money saw, was the judiciary. Keep the judiciary in your pocket and nothing much can or will change in America.

That was the whole point.

Beneath everything, “staying in power” is the guiding principle for everything Republicans do. It’s their Machiavellian justification for resorting to gerrymandering and voter suppression since, they know, selling their “dreams for America” in the marketplace of ideas can’t work out for them because no one but them wants to live in 1850’s America where everyone “knew their place”. It was their justification for flirting with than climbing completely into bed with Russia. Take this to the bank — it isn’t just Trump who’s compromised out the wazoo by Russia. Russia understands cynicism. They appreciate how useful useful idiots can be to their cause. They poured money into Republican campaign coffers through quasi-legal means (via Republicans’ PACs); it was legal in the abstract but throw in conspiracy to commit treason charges and that money stops being anything like “legal”.

Every journalist in America could just as easily have done what Fusion did. Hell, even if they just read Glenn Simpson’s Congressional testimony, they’d get smarter and better informed.

The Republican Party has obstructed all investigation into their relationships with Russia. It’s not much to ask “why?”, is it? Rod Rosenstein personally halted the counter-intel investigation begun by James Comey’s FBI, telling the FBI that Team Mueller was doing it as part of their work and telling Team Mueller that the FBI was doing it, no need for them to focus on such nastiness. Donald Trump has repeatedly behaved toward Vlad Putin like a lap dog. Not a single Republican has wanted any of that investigated.

The Republican Party is a criminal enterprise, not a “political party”. Donald Trump is so clearly a traitor, it should be tattooed on his forehead.

At the end of the day — and the story — it will all come down to Russia, Russia, RUSSIA. Take that to the bank. Donald Trump’s “win” was never a legitimate “win”. If the authority to do things presidential flows from We The People then when a president does things WITHOUT our authority, they are UNAUTHORIZED and therefore illegitimate. It’s this simple: but for Donald Trump, there would have been no insurrection, But for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS.

That’s the mother of all Rabbit Holes.

The Difference Between Icing And Cake

Icing: “Both sides have decent people on them!” Cake: one side is racist, violent and reactionary, the other isn’t. The whole trick to getting propaganda to work is convincing as many people as possible that icing is what matters. If the outside is pretty, sparkly and distracting enough, hopefully no one will notice that the cake underneath the icing is rotten. And yet, some people have no idea that the cake even exists. All they perceive is the icing. Those people are called “journalists” here in America. Back when this all started, one day they’d get whipsawed in one direction by “Mexicans are rapists” colored icing, then whipsawed inn the complete other direction by “pussy-grabbing” colored icing. Then, suddenly, it was some other colored icing and the news media could hardly keep up with it. Of course, if they’d been able to forget about the icing and look directly at the cake — as Fusion GPS did when they were hired to do oppo research on Donald Trump for the conservative, Marco Rubio-backing Washington Free Beacon — they would have seen with their own eyes that every bit of the Donald Trump cake mix was vile, pernicious, corrupt, compromised and (likely) treasonous.

Icing: “Donald Trump is our nominee for POTUS”. Cake: “There are two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!”

A month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their presidential candidate, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of Republican muckety-mucks and said the above. The room did not erupt in chaos with people angrily demanding how Kevin got such an outrageous idea into his head. No one said, “Hey, if that’s even remotely possible, we need to get the FBI on the phone right NOW!” On the contrary, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — one of the most powerful Republicans in office at the time — made it emphatically clear that what Kevin had just said was not going to be discussed outside that “room”. That little secret — no one questioned that Trump (and Rohrbacher) were taking money from Moscow — was going to stay “in the family”. That’s cake right there — Treason Cake. How can it not be if 1) you know or suspect that your PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE is already compromised (or easily compromise-able) by a hostile foreign power and 2) you accept that fact as “who he is” and therefore “who YOU are”?

Cake is the aggregated reality we all live in. It’s four years of watching Donald Trump and everyone in his orbit take corruption to bold new heights even corruption never thought it could attain. The Republican Party — seeing demographic extinction in their future — deliberately hitched their wagon to Trump despite knowing he was owned outright by Russia. They’d set themselves on a course toward permanent minority rule years before. The Kochs and the Mercers (and the other big RW donors) directed Mitch McConnell to seize the judiciary and use it as the basis for the soft coup d’etat that started during the 2016 election. The whole point of denying Merrick Garland so much as a hearing was to hijack the Supreme Court. That’s some serious cake.

Cake is the racism underlying the Republican Party’s bottom line. The former “Party Of Lincoln” is now the “pro-slavery party”. If they could bring slavery back, the GOP most assuredly would. Keep in mind — first and foremost, slavery is stolen labor. The slaver will eat the cost of clothing, housing and feeding a slave because the slaver knows he’ll make way more money from the slave’s work output. While Republicans know they can’t be that blatant anymore, the desire for slavery (free labor) drives their resistance to a livable minimum wage. People who can pay their bills and thrive economically (and therefore politically) can’t be enslaved. But, if one compromises their ability to pay their bills and thrive economically — and then make it impossible for them to ever acquire the wealth required to really thrive in America — one can “enslave them” without actually seeming to.

The restaurant business in America survives on the icing that diners should pay a significant portion of their servers’ wages. The cake is “no, the economic success of people in the food service industry should not rely on the kindness of strangers.”

Icing: America has the best health care in the world Cake: America doesn’t have a health CARE system, it has a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing. Whenever anyone walks in the door of our health system, the first question we ask isn’t “How can we fix you” — the proper question — it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” That’s unconscionable. It’s barbaric. It’s wrong.

Beware the icing eaters! They have a way of getting things really, really wrong…

Cake v Icing

I love me a good metaphor. Listening to some people argue, one gets the clear impression that they couldn’t care less about cake. They’re all about the icing. The color of the icing especially. They’ll insist that nothing can happen if the icing on this cake isn’t red — a very particular kind or red, too. Only a cake with that kind of red icing will satisfy them, never mind that the cake itself is one hundred percent poison. People who problem solve or see the world from the icing’s perspective only never solve their problems. Worrying about the icing instead of the cake is exactly like putting the cart before the horse — except it’s worse — because the cake might not even exist yet.

Go try icing a nonexistent cake here in reality.

And, while you’re here in reality, take note: drop-dead beautiful icing can cover a cake literally made of shit (the eating of which would cause you to drop dead). A pig in lipstick is still a pig. Even if the lipstick’s his color.

By the same token, a transcendentally good cake could be slathered in unappetizing beige-green slime that tastes only of sugar while, beneath it, a symphony of complex, compelling flavors awaits. Covers don’t always accurately represent their books either.

Our news media are all icing eaters. You can tell by the way they report; they might as well have bits of icing between their teeth. It’s easy to report “Today, the icing is green!” Much harder to dig into “But the cake beneath it smells rotten — why is that?” When Donald Trump began his run for the presidency by announcing that “Mexicans are rapists” (interesting accusation coming from a serial rapist), our press should have pointed out that fact — and what it said about “the cake” — about WHO Donald Trump is and always has been as a human being. Only a bigot and a racist would think, never mind say such a thing.

Instead, our news media, after grabbing for the smelling salts while clutching their pearls, allowed Trump to move on from “Mexicans are rapists” to “pussy grabbing” — the new color of Trump Brand Icing. But, then, they quickly moved on from that to “her emails” color icing.

In doing that, our press normalized things that should never have been normalized. They stopped caring about the cake entirely — and that the cake was clearly marked “poison”. All they could conceive of was what they could see: icing. That’s why our press still asks racists if they themselves think they’re racist or not. How the hell would they know? They’re racists! The same applies to beauty and its place in the beholder’s eye. The beholder gets to decide if what they’re beholding is “beautiful” or not. The beautiful person’s too close to themselves to judge. They’re automatically biased!

Racism and bigotry epitomize the love of icing over any appreciation of cake. A racist disregards 99% of the human in front of them when all they see is the color of the Black man’s skin. In a way, it’s the least important detail about the Black guy. Who he is, what he’s capable of, what he can contribute to the greater good have zero to do with the quantity of melanin in his skin. If ever a thing was pure icing on a human being, it’s their flesh tone.

And icing… sometimes, it just misses the point entirely.

Quick Reminder — The GOP Knew During The 2016 Convention That Donald Trump Was Owned By Russia; They Kept It A Secret

This is from the Washington Post, May 17, 2017: “A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.” What current GOP Leader McCarthy said was “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — one of the fellow GOP leaders present “…instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.””

The Republican family behaved exactly like a mafia family. It was all about protecting “la cosa nostra” — this thing of ours.

I’m curious. Has ANY member of the American press corps EVER asked Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan or anyone who was in that room what they were thinking? Has any reporter or journalist stuck a microphone in their faces and asked “Why didn’t you call the FBI if you thought that?” Or “Why didn’t you call the FBI if you even SUSPECTED it?”

That was their obligation — to tell something. To DO something. Because they had more an an inkling that their presidential nominee was corrupt to his bone marrow. And not just corrupt — TREASONOUSLY corrupt. Perhaps Paul Ryan’s response — let’s keep it a secret — had more to do with all the Russian money they ALL had taken on the down low. Pull a thread on Trump’s Russian dalliance, you might as well pull threads on every one of their dalliances — and there were plenty.

As documented as the Republican knowledge that Trump was dirty is the knowledge that Putin had contemplated cyber war against us for years. Cyber war (or asymmetrical warfare if you prefer) is as much a war as an old fashioned “bombs ‘n bullets” war. If the Russians shut down our power grid today, we’d have to sue for peace tomorrow — on their terms. Hell, the Russians placed themselves inside the Oval Office without firing a shot. On a cost basis alone, Russia’s cyber war against us has been the greatest military victory of all time.

How much money flowed to Republican campaign coffers via the NRA? How much flowed via Russian emigrees whose Russian government pensions suddenly rose from enough money to live on to enough money to cash flow a political campaign? How many Russian contacts did the Trump campaign have — and how many have they worked overtime to hide from us? And why?

Our news media, incapable of aggregating the Donald Trump story, forgot apparently that Donald Trump was the first president EVER to run for re-election having BEEN IMPEACHED for CHEATING in the very election he was running in! And the cheating he was impeached over? It was a replay of the exact kind of “foreign government involvement” in our election as in the 2016 election. Even back in 2016, our news media couldn’t grasp how to report on Trump. They thought “but her emails” was far more important than “Mexicans are rapists”, “Pussy grabbing” and “What’s wrong with making nice to Vladimir Putin?”

It boggles the mind that journalists — still unable to tell the 2016 election story — would be just fine with Democrats “forgiving and forgetting” should the moderates somehow convince everyone else that letting criminals get away with the highest crime against We The People — stealing our votes and the intended political outcome our votes demanded — won’t have permanent, negative consequences. “Both sides do it” journalism has convinced journalists that they can never “judge” anything. Moral v immoral behavior — it’s not for them to say. The president only behaves treasonously in the minds of Democrats. And their accusation is purely political.

Oy.

This happened. This photo. At Helsinki. Way more than a thousand words are being spoken here.

I’m old enough to remember when lunatics like me would get rolled eyes from fellow progressives when we’d utter the word “treason” in reference to Trump. Now it’s part of the landscape. It should be a featured part of the landscape — the fact that the sitting POTUS is a stone cold traitor. It should also be part of the landscape that the entire Republican Party — everyone who’s known or suspected anything nefarious since 2016 — also are traitors. It kinda matters in a cyber war.

And an election.

America’s News Media Has Confused Being “Skeptical” (What They Should Be) With Being “Cynical” (What They Are)

Skepticism and cynicism are not the same thing. Don’t believe me — look em up. If I was being skeptical, I’d want to see proof of something before going along with it. If I was being cynical though? I wouldn’t care about any proof because I’ve already assumed the worst. A pox on everybody’s house — “both sides do it”. If I was cynical, I wouldn’t need proof that “both sides do it”. And if there was any sort of “proof”, it wouldn’t need to be equally distributed; most on one side and a little on the other is the same as fifty-fifty; it’s still a matter of “both sides do it”!

“Back that up or it’s bullshit!” would be a perfectly legitimate response to a politician saying something for which he has zero receipts. It’s appropriately skeptical. Are you telling the truth? Okay — prove it. By contrast, asking someone a “But, what if bullshit is true?” type questions — that’s not being skeptical at all. “What if bullshit were true?” is the quintessential cynical question.

The only place where bullshit can be true is in a completely cynical world. It can be true, it can be untrue, it doesn’t matter. The ending has already been decided. Everything sucks and there’ll be no changing it; we might as well all fold up our tents and go home. Seeing the world cynically means seeing the very worst in people no matter what. Even if they prove their worth, the cynical have an explanation ready to go. They’re not what they seem. Nothing is so don’t trust it. Assume the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.

You might not be disappointed, but you’ll never be happy either. And you’ll never see the truth or be able to discern it. There’s really no advantage to becoming cynical — unless you want to end your days living in a police state where survival is what matters. Cynicism assumes that the bad guy will get away with it in the end — that, on some level, everyone’s a bad guy, so what difference does it make who wins? Everyone’s motives are suspect. Everyone has a political agenda — even if they don’t think so.

That’s rubbish. It’s stupid too. And offensive.

When a Republican suppresses a Democratic voter, the Republican is doing it for an entirely political reason: to win an election so as to put the power of government into his hands and not the Democrat’s hands. When the voter whose vote is being suppressed raises their hand to complain about what the Republican is doing to them? They’re NOT being political. They’re the victim of a crime. One of their rights has been taken from them and that needs to be addressed. Not for political reasons but for reasons of justice and free and fair elections.

If the news media had taken a more skeptical approach to Donald Trump than the cynical approach they took, things might have turned out better for them. They would have demanded to know WHY Trump thought “Mexicans are rapists” before moving on to “pussy-grabbing”. And a skeptical press would never have been content to let that slide. A skeptical (rather than a cynical) press would have handled “But her emails” a lot better. Rather than cynically assuming the worst about Hillary Clinton, the press would have taken a more moderated, evidence-based approach. They would have concluded – as they did – that there was no “there” there.

If you want to see rock solid journalistic skepticism hard at work, watch Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline Whitehouse on MSNBC. Watch Rachel Maddow and JoyAnn Reid. Watch Ali Velshi and Chris Matthews. Watch Lawrence O’Donnell.

If you want to see empty-headed cynicism, watch Chuck Todd. Chuck is the “dean” of “both sides do it” journalism. He has zero intellectual curiosity. Zero perspective. Zero critical thinking skill.

We’ve survived Trumpism. A rejuvenated Department of Justice is going to make the next few years a rolling smorgasboord of corruption prosecution. There’ll always be a dozen or so pots on the boil with a few more waiting in the wings. From the second he stops being POTUS, Trump will have legal problems that no amount of bullshit pardons can assuage. He’s not running in 2024. The only running Trump will do between now and then is, maybe, a run for the border. I suggest slashing the tires on the Trump jet to prevent that from happening.

America Is Divided But The MAJORITY Of Americans Were Not Divided About Donald Trump

Chicken Little — journalism degree in hand — dashes hither and thither squawking “the sky is falling!” or, as he now puts it, “America is hopelessly divided! What are we all to do?” Shhhh, calm down, Chicken Little. Stop believing your own hype. Stop believing that “both sides do it”. They don’t. That brand of “journalism” has destroyed your sense of perspective; it’s convinced you that you can’t possibly arbitrate between bullshit and truth for your audience; THEY’LL have to decide for themselves if bullshit can be truth and truth can be bullshit. Just for the record, no, it can’t and no, it can’t.

“Both sides to it” is bullshit. And bullshit can never be true. Cos it’s bullshit.

The gun-toting, Christo-fascist, liquored-to-their-bloodshot-eyeballs Trumpanistas do not care about representative democracy and never have. Let’s be generous and call them 30% of America. That’s the slice of America that still approved of Richard Nixon on the day he quit because of Watergate (actually it was 29% — I’m being even more generous!) The truth is, the hardcore-iest of the hardcore Trumpanistas are a thin slice of the larger half-baked tranche. When you stop and do the math — who they are vs who we are? It’s batshit crazy insane that “these people” hold the sway that they do.

I wonder if it’s because they’re all white (or white aspirational)?

The slow but steady attrition of gerrymandering, minority rule and elections stolen from the majority brought us to a place where that disempowered majority finally had enough. Donald Trump himself said the unspoken but true part out loud: when more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats. If too many Americans vote, Republicans would never win again.

Wow. Donald Trump got one right. He spoke a truth.

Why do you suppose Trump thinks that? If more Americans took part in the decision-making process, they would NOT struggle with their choice. They would choose a Democratic, PROGRESSIVE way forward over a Republican, REGRESSIVE way back to what we were: a country that compromised with SLAVERY. Seen as a trend line, a diversifying America is NOT divided on that subject and hasn’t been for a long, long time. That’s the MAJORITY I’m speaking of.

“Both sides do it” insists on giving equal weight to both sides of an argument regardless of any argument’s actual heft. That’s why climate science and climate denial got to share 50-50 screens on every single news network. Quick note to the news networks who apparently don’t understand how the visual medium works. Anything presented in a 50-50 screen is saying (even if unintentionally) “these two things are equal”. If it’s two people making diametrically opposite arguments? Those two arguments (climate science and climate denial) could BOTH be equally valid.

Just like that, NEWS NETWORKS gave credence to rubbish. They said, in the visual language, “this argument could be true”. Bullshit could be true.

Oy.

Once you’ve gone there, there’s not bottom. Mexicans “could be” rapists. Women might “like” being grabbed by their pussies. Children might prefer to grow up in cages, separated from their parents. Voters might not care if their president shoots them on Fifth Avenue — as a bizarre way to keep their vote. Once you chase a rabbit like this down its festering hole, you’re lost. That’s why our news media could never tell the Donald Trump story. It’s why they can’t today.

This story will happen IN SPITE OF our news media mostly and NOT because of it. The majority of heroic reporting on Trump has come from WITHOUT mainstream American journalism and not from within as it should have.

I watched MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhl report the other day how the spontaneous celebrations that broke out across America once Joe and Kamala’s election was a fully established fact that those celebrations weren’t about Donald Trump, they were about a hopeful return to normalcy. My response to Stephanie (through my TV — I don’t think she heard) was “What the HELL are you talking about? I was IN one of those spontaneous celebrations (masked and distanced — but needed see and feel the vibe). I know for a fact what and how WE were celebrating. I wasn’t an observer, ya see, I WAS A PARTICIPANT.

But Stephanie — an observer apparently who didn’t speak to ANY participants — adjudged our motives for us. We weren’t doing it for OUR reason, we were doing it for HERS.

She was “both sides doing it” it to us. The one time we WERE reacting politically, Stephanie (to whom the left is ALWAYS being political rather than reactive) had us being purely reactive.

Um, no, Ms. Ruhl. Everyone as far as I could see and hear at the street celebration I attended was there because of the relief we felt at RIDDING OURSELVES of Donald J. Trump. Please get that distinction. We had to do this OURSELVES because our news media couldn’t. Wouldn’t.

We have to look into this. We will. As badly as the news media has reported on Trump, they are reporting on us. They’re gravitating toward the most visible — the loudest, gun-totingest, bleary-eyed Trumpanistas — the ones with the most white, Christian male grievances to grieve over. Stories of angry white people are easier to tell than stories of everyone else — struggling to get into or stay in a game that remains entirely stacked against them and for the RICH, white, Christian men who are actually oppressing everyone.

Even Charles Koch now realizes how deeply he stepped in it. Charles isn’t being contrite as much as he’s being strategic. He’s seen the same handwriting on the wall that the 21st Century Fox Board of Directors did when they fired Bill O’Reilly on April 19, 2017. The handwriting was female. It belonged to America’s women. They make up most of the buying decisions in American households. If you lose them, you lose. And Bill O’Reilly — a sexual predator — had lost America’s women.

More precisely, Bill O’Reilly lost his advertisers. His show lost its advertisers because all of them saw they’d lose their clients — the companies that made the products being advertised. And those companies didn’t want to lose their customers — all those women making all those buying decisions. It was between Bill O’Reilly and staying in business. We all know who won. That victory should be shouting at us. It is — if only we’d listen to it.

I’ve written here about how I believe our view of the American electorate walks in the door skewed because of who owns most of the voting machine-making companies (and who’s on their boards and to whom they make healthy political campaign donations). Please don’t ask me or anyone to trust people with an aversion to transparency, a cash-paying love for an authoritarian fraud and vehement resistance to Americans using much more secure hand-marked paper ballots to vote. Something about them smells.

If I’m even half-right about Republicans padding their numbers, our perception of who we are and how we vote has been significantly perverted. They’re still as crazy as we think they are, but there are a lot fewer of them than we’ve been told.

That, ya see, is the point of the exercise. Republicans now are like an animal whose sole defense is to puff up its feathers. That “defense” is still just feathers. Republicans aren’t who they present themselves to be. They’re neither growers not show-ers.

We, on the other hand, are both growers AND show-ers. Our numbers grew (significantly) and we showed up — both on election day and after to celebrate.

Hey, Stephanie Ruhl — you’re a good reporter when you stick to matters financial. The moment you wander away from that beat, you lose your super powers. Completely. We’re in a forgiving mood though (with some people). We’ll blame your j-school education instead of you. We’ll assume you were sharp as a tack before “both sides do it” blunted your analytical skills. If you HAD wandered into one of those spontaneous celebrations BEFORE reporting on it and characterizing it, I feel certain your eyes and ears would not have betrayed you.

Four years ago, the MAJORITY of us (and had this many Americans voted, the disappointed majority would have been significantly larger) were shocked when the minority got to rule. We protested. We tore at our hair and ripped at our clothing. But we allowed Trump to take his place in the White House. We now know we were bamboozled. The whole country was — by a man who always favors”me” over “we”.

This past election day, We The People spoke clearly in the loudest, clearest, most steady voice a shitload of voter suppression allowed: “Ding dong, the witch is dead”.

Hear, bloody HEAR!

Can We Please, PLEASE Agree: “Cheating To Win” Does NOT Equal “Winning”

This shouldn’t need to be stated: Cheating to win is NOT “winning”. It’s “CHEATING”. The moment we make cheating one “way” to win, we’ve made cheating the ONLY way to win because only an idiot would play by rules while his opponent laughs at the rules — and wins every election. It’d be like playing Monopoly by the rules while the other guy starts the game with all the bank’s money and all the good properties already “hoteled up”. Free and fair elections demand genuinely level playing fields. If the playing field isn’t level because someone is cheating, we need to stop the game right there and at the very least call a red card foul.

For the record (or the scoresheet to beat the analogy to death), we’re not talking about the offenses to our sensibilities. Trump’s presidential bid should have ended at “Mexicans are rapists”. It should NEVER have made it as far as “pussy grabbing”. The onus is on us — on our news media since they’re the ones with the megaphone — for letting Trump get away with such egregiously unacceptable behavior from ANYONE in public life never mind a presidential candidate. All terrible, terrible behavior, but none of it criminal.

No, I’m talking about actual Class A Felonies. Geez, you’d think a few of the lawyers-turned-journalists would glom onto that and refuse to let go, visions of Pulitzers in their heads. I’ll reference here for what might have happened had our news media done the same due diligence on Donald Trump that Fusion GPS (founded by former Wall Street Journal reporters) did when they first got hired by the Republican-owned, Jeb-Bush-backing Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research. Fusion found so much evidence of Trump laundering money through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos IN PUBLICLY AVAILABLE MATERIAL that they hired Chris Steele (former head of MI6’s vaunted Russia Desk) to check it all out.

As I’ve also screamed and shouted here, alas — if the American news media could aggregate the Donald Trump story, it would have ended eons ago. The starting point for their daily reporting would be (worst case scenario): “Hey, news audience, guess what the corrupt-to-his-gills traitor and his corrupt-to-its-gills political party did and said today”. We’d have busted a cap in “both sides do it” journalism and stopped equating bullshit with truth.

Let’s go back to the sports analogy. Let’s stop equating scoring a legitimate goal with literally — with your hands — throwing the ball into the net and calling it a goal (a game-winning goal no less!) It’s not. It never was.

Offside is offside (we even have the VAR now to nail it by a shoelace). A hand ball is a hand ball (that bloody VAR again!) It’s all painful when it goes against you but it’s proof that the rule was violated. Putting emotions aside, we follow the rule. In the end, it will serve everyone better that way. If we want to adjust the rule, fine tune it and its application — that’s always open to us. But, if we had been following the rules — the ones that dictate how we play and don’t play this “game” — how this game played out would have been different.

Donald Trump buying Stormy Daniels’ silence, for instance. That, right there, was a red card foul that should have been whistled. Michael Cohen went to prison for his role in that bit of blatant criminality. Donald Trump inviting Russia’s assistance — OPENLY — was a red card foul that should have been whistled. “Hey, Russia, if you’re listening…” was an act of open TREASON. Especially when you consider what Russia literally did next: they DID SOMETHING. Russia ACTED ON Trump’s invitation — and Trump, rather than being appalled by Russia’s reaction, USED IT as part of his campaign.

Russia, mind you, was actively engaged in a CYBER WAR against us. Cyber. War.

Treason is treason is treason.

Cheating that’s also treasonous? We’d be insane to accept that in place of the results we actually voted for. I, for one, do not accept it. But then, I don’t accept cheating to win as winning — and neither should any other American.

Cheating to win is un-American. It’s immoral. It’s not winning.

The moment We The People make THAT our reaction to Trump’s cheating — to the entire Republican Party’s blatant abuse of the rules and the law — that anything accomplished via provable cheating will not stand — we will END the Republican Party’s reliance on cheating to win as their only means to win. Either they’ll adapt — and try selling their ideas instead — or they’ll die. Actually, if they adapt and try selling their ideas, they’ll die anyway — which they know — which is WHY they cheat.

Let’s stop indulging them. Let’s stop allowing their fatal flaw to be OUR fatal flaw. When they claim “We won!” the correct answer isn’t “Oh well, I guess they ‘won’ since they say they did”, it’s “NO, you didn’t”. And that’s it. The rules are quite clear. No, they did not win.

In our system of government, the authority to govern flows from US, We The People. If We The People know for a fact that our authority — it’s baked into our vote — has been not only questioned but attacked — then We The People have every right to respond accordingly (though within the law of course). Good thing the rule of law backs us here: demonstrable cheating to win is not winning.

All we have to do therefore is FOLLOW the rule of law and ENFORCE IT EQUALLY like we’re supposed to.

For starters, we’ll automatically be far healthier as a society because we’ll actually be living up to our ideals (or trying to a lot harder to anyway). Restoring justice to its rightful place — that will help a lot, too. But then the rule of law will demand that we deal with the criminality that drove us to the brink of authoritarianism — against the majority’s will. The rule of law will demand that we address every last nuance of criminality — and every last criminal. Got the stank on ya, Republicans? There’ll be no getting it off.

Gonna be a lot of old, rich, Christian white guys shouting “Out, out, damned spot!”

Maybe it’s time for a new “Scarlet Letter”. Let’s put aside the “A” for Adultery that Hester Prynne was forced to wear and, instead, repurpose those stupid red hats Trump’s sold all his dumber-than-a-rube-on-angel-dust followers by sticking a giant Gold “C” on them. That’s “C” for Cheater. By then, it should be understood that the “C” is interchangeable with a “T” — for “Trump”.

And for “Treason”.

Maybe it’s not a coincidence that the word “CHEAT” begins with a “C” for cheating — but ends in a “T” for “TRUMP”.

Indeed — let’s make it “end” in a “T” for Trump. Better still, let’s make it all end in a sentence.

Dear American News Media: America Needs YOU To Do Better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Except they didn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

And yet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

In “War Of The Worlds”, A Pathogen Saved Us From Martians — Just Like A Pathogen Will Save Us From Donald J. Trump

It’s not hyperbole — Donald Trump is a democracy-destroying monster utterly resistant to normal reason and legal logic. In HG Wells’ “War Of The Worlds”, Martians take over Earth, easily crushing our feeble human armies. What saves our bacon in the end? Pathogens. Germs. Not even fancy ones. The monsters’ bodies succumb to the same ordinary Earth germs our immune systems handle with ease. Oh, what a delicious irony: Covid-19 is serving the same exact function right here, right now. Except the unstoppable monster this pathogen is saving us from is Donald J. Trump.

It’s weird how unstoppable Trump has been. His ability to avoid responsibility for a lifetime of criminal behavior is, well, otherworldly.

But then, so’s his monstrous destructiveness.

Trump the Monster has laid waste to our faith in the election process. He’s gobbled up money and trampled on rights like Godzilla trampling Tokyo. He’s incinerated our reputation abroad and, with a swing of his bloated orange tail, sent the rule of law flying.

Unlike in Wells’ story though, OUR news media has been slow to respond as this particular monster emerged from his pod. In Trump’s case, he rode down a gold escalator and roared how Mexicans are rapists and, if you’re famous, you can do anything to women — including grab their pussies — because “they’ll let ya”. Whereas our news media should have shot that right down — and kept firing until the monster was dead — instead they put down their weapons and followed the monster to the next part of town he wanted to destroy. Then watched him do it.

In a sense, our press is the equivalent of the Wells story’s military: our last line of defense was defenseless. Good thing we have coronavirus to save us.

Trick question: what kind of an idiot thinks he can “negotiate” with a pathogen? Anti-vaxxers and Trumpanistas all think they can outrun something they can’t even see.

As Donald Trump proved, no, ya can’t.

Donald Trump brought his Covid-19 infection upon himself. While he truly deserves whatever the pathogen does to him — having made himself (and so many other Americans) completely vulnerable to it — we need Trump to survive. We don’t need him to feel good at the end of the day, we just need him alive.

Donald Trump must absolutely face the music. He needs to be fully compis mentis while we fully investigate him (which we absolutely will), indict him (for ALL his crimes), try him, convict him, sentence him and punish him. Hell, I’d even vote for shocking the bastard back to life each time he flatlines. If we could keep Trump alive for a hundred years — just so we can keep him miserable and in prison — we should do it. It’s no less than he deserves.

According to one news source, Trump wondered aloud yesterday, Friday, before they transported him to Walter Reed if he was going to go out the same way his friend Stan Chera did — dying because of Covid-19. That’s not a guy experiencing “mild symptoms”.

That’s a man suddenly facing his own mortality.

It Isn’t Just That A Trump Second Term Would Destroy American Democracy Forever, A Trump Second Term Would Finish Turning Us Into Him

Former Republican Rick Wilson got it so right: everything Trump touches dies. There are no exceptions to that rule.

Like a virus, Donald Trump can’t survive without a host. In our case, us. If he can’t infect us, he can’t reproduce his toxicity in sufficient quantity to survive. The best he can do is infect those around him and make more feckless, corrupt, ugly children.

Trump craves adoration because if he can get you to adore him, he can get you to do anything for him. Including die. Trumpism reproduces inside its adherents, zombifying them until they’re permanently cut off from reason, logic, facts, truth.

Just like that, a Trump follower’s needs are Trump’s needs.

There should never have been a first term of this disease. Take Russia out of the Trump equation and he never runs for office. He’s already broke and living on the street because no one was there to step in and rescue his bankrupt casinos or pay him a tidy $54 million profit on a white elephant house in Florida.

During his first term, Trump finished turning the entirety of the Republican Party into him. Take Lindsey Graham — a man who at one point said out loud that if the Republican Party followed Donald Trump, they’d deserve the certain destruction he’d cause them. Lindsey also said he’d never go along with naming a SCOTUS judge in an election year. I bet, when we finally get him under oath, Lindsey tells a long, complex, sordid tale about how exactly a person gets that corrupt and that vulnerable to corruption.

We don’t need Donald Trump to tell us that story because he’s already told it himself. He’s lived a life of corruption and — staggeringly — gotten away with it.

Our news media can’t seem to remember that Donald Trump is the first president ever to be impeached and then run for re-election — having been impeached for CHEATING in the very election he’s running in. That’s an amazing amount of normalization of stuff that should never be normalized. Then again, our news media oversaw the normalization of “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” and “Both sides are good people” and “15 cases will go to zero” and “fake news” and “our military are all suckers and losers” and on and on and on.

Normalization works exactly like an infection. It’s essential to Trumpism. We are the frog thinking the pool’s a little warmer than usual today — when, in fact, it’s boiling hot and we’re about to be frog soup.

There’s one answer to this: No.

The Republican Party is gambling everything on muscling the majority of Americans into submission. They’re slave masters after all, with a whip in their hand.

Oh, the surprise they’re all in for. We’ve taken the last whipping from them. We’ll have that whip — and rather than just turn it on them, we’ll subject them to the rule of law. They’ll wish we’d used the whip instead.