Hi — I’m Mike Pence’s Vibrating Butt Plug And I Have A Story To Tell…

Want the inside dirt on Mike Pence? Come talk to the “guy” who’s “been there”. What will Mike Pence do in the waning days of the Trump presidency? Will he be made POTUS at the last second to give Donald Trump the pardon he’s too afraid to give himself? Will Mike become the GOP’s “standard-bearer” instead of Trump? Will Mike even have a future? It’s not a revelation that Donald Trump is a gold-plated fraud. It shouldn’t be a revelation that Mike Pence is equally fraudulent. Quick reminder: it was PAUL MANAFORT who brought Mike Pence to the table in 2016 and pitched him as the best possible veep for Trump. Paul-freakin’-MANAFORT.

Manafort, remember, then Trump’s campaign manager, was actively engaged in a treasonous criminal enterprise; he was trying to make things right with Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch and former employer to whom Manafort owed upwards of $17 million. The last thing on earth Paul Manafort would have wanted in a vice president was a choir boy who’d rat them all out the second he learned how deeply the whole Trump campaign was “indebted” to Russia. Manafort suggested Mike Pence because Manafort KNEW with absolute certainty that Mike would never betray them.

Manafort had to have known that Pence either was 1) already compromised or 2) easily compromised. Make no mistake about it: Mike Pence is as dirty as any and every other Republican.

If the Trump White House is a Rogue’s Gallery, VP Mike Pence is the Elmer Gantry character — without any of the charm or self-awareness of what a damnable con he really is. I dare you to conjure the words “hypocrite” or “sanctimonious shit” and NOT think of Mike Pence almost immediately.

There’s a way of speaking Evangelicals take on — PreacherSpeak, ya could call it. It’s got an oiliness to it — a big bright squirt of emotion but no substance beneath it so the emotion feels staged and phony. There’s a sing-songiness to it also — to distract, I suppose, from the complete & total lack of substance. And the compete & total lack of logic. It’s a vocal delivery that surfs giant waves of hubris and self-satisfaction like Kelly Slater. And if it needs to bring on the tears? Wait, wait — is that Noah I see, building another boat?

That voice sounds like this (I enter, as evidence, Pence’s speech at the 2016 Republican Convention — a classic in the annals of complete & utter bullshit). In fact, Mike took sanctimony to bold new heights in this speech. It’s still feeling puke-y and vertiginous from being up so high.

Now, to be fair to Mike (as much as it pains me), I don’t know for a fact that Mike Pence is a closeted gay man. I’ve known many over my life. It’s not fun being them. They shouldn’t have to be “them”. Everyone should be free to express what their biochemistry makes them feel.

Religious faith and science are mutually exclusive propositions. That’s not true of spirituality, mind you. One can be spiritual and scientific without any conflicts. But religious? No. Religion seeks to codify spirituality. It wants to take something ethereal and highly personal and encase it in concrete — like a church or an institution.

One could, in fact, follow Jesus on a spiritual level (by doing unto others) while ignoring all the church’s dogmatism, mythmaking and ooga-booga. I’ve pointed out in other posts here how Jesus preached against the need for a “church”. THAT was his radical idea; “Do unto others” is an essential Jewish teaching; all Jews are obligated to make the world a better place — it’s part of our “creed”. Jesus taught you don’t need a temple (or a church) to “Do unto others”, you can do that all by yourself.

Accordingly, another big part of Jesus’ message was “speak directly to God, the father”. In other words, you don’t need the corrupt priests or their corrupt temple interceding on your behalf”. Because they’re corrupt. But then, Jesus never imagined such a thing as a “Christian church”. He never “imagined” Christianity. Paul did that. Paul was the one who, taking his version of Jesus out to the gentiles (who had no idea who Jesus really was or even if he really was), invented The Early Church by establishing a series of nascent Christian communities throughout Asia Minor.

The bulk of the NT is Paul writing to those far flung communities as he invents what we now call “Christianity”.

Mike Pence is a church-goer but he ain’t going there for Jesus. FFS, the last thing Mike Pence wants to do is “DO” unto others. Nope. Mike sees religion as a way to turn others into him. Like a god. The kind who says “Do what I say OR ELSE“.

That’s the dirty, dirty secret about the extremely religious — about every single televangelist — about Mike Pence himself. They all think THEY are “god”. Not “a” god — “God”. They may tell you that “God” speaks through them — they’re lying. No one or nothing is speaking through them. The “god” you hear spewing from their mouth parts is them, all them and nothing but them.

What makes these “gods” so much worse is that they’re all so screamingly ignorant. Why can’t these “gods” have a little knowledge in their pockets to go along with the sanctimony & judginess? I guess that would be too much to ask of men for whom sanctimony & judginess are their principle skill sets.

If you’ve never heard Mike Pence On Evolution — you kinda owe it to yourself. You should know how “god” “thinks”.

Dear Fellow Progressives: Please Take A Deep Breath — Time And Circumstance Are Now Entirely On Our Side

The moment Joe Biden started announcing cabinet choices, people on the winning side started sniping at each other, having immediately lost all perspective apparently. Perspective says this: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris whipped Donald Trump’s ass (Mike Pence doesn’t enter into it — nobody voted “for” Mike Pence except maybe Mike Pence). They beat them substantially with a coalition of voters covering everything from hard core Progressives like me to moderate (former) Republicans (everyone on the Lincoln Project for example). In politics, nothing is free. Ever.

Let me drop a word here: pragmatism. Have the vision. Keep the vision strong. But recognize that it’s still a process getting there. Obstacles remain. Problems will need to be solved. Emotional responses may feel good at first, but they’re unlikely to produce good, workable responses. And being slaves to theory — that, too, may feel good and justified but if you can’t get enough people to buy the theory, you won’t be getting there. One needs to 1) make the theory palatable (so understand who you’re selling to and how to sell to them), and 2) in the event you can’t sell the whole theory right this second? Go with the flow. Sell what you can today with the caveat that you’re coming back to finish the sale tomorrow. That’s pragmatism: sensible, realistic solutions based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Reality says there’s literally no conservative way out of this mess. It’s conservatism — its greed, it’s power lust — that put us here. They have no idea how to get us out of it. For starters, they don’t even want to. The majority of Americans now believe that without strong, continuing government assistance — cash infusions into their bank accounts — we’re toast. The reason Mitch McConnell and the RW Money stand steadfastly against giving suffering Americans a penny more than they have to is because if Americans saw how Universal Basic Income works (that’s what this government aid would amount to), they’d want it permanently.

That is, they’d understand that a supposedly “socialist” idea is actually just a productive use of THEIR TAX DOLLARS. Instead of using them to make rich guys richer, we’re using OUR TAX DOLLARS to help US. See how that works? That’s “socialism” in a nutshell.

And the RW Money machine is all about transferring the wealth of ordinary Americans into THEIR already full pockets. If Americans realized how simple it was to take BACK the wealth already stolen from them — and then create structures that guarantee they hold onto that wealth (for instance — by NOT going bankrupt just because they or someone in their family got sick), don’t you think they’d demand it? Especially since the money in question IS THEIRS.

As in OURS.

The most important thing that happened — the only thing that really mattered — was putting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris into the White House. Forget, for a moment, everything else — the Republicans possibly holding onto the Senate, the loss of House seats (making the Democratic majority uncomfortably slim), the prospect of Trumpism enduring — and focus on one thing: having the executive branch in our grasp means having the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE in our grasp. It means the Department of Justice can now STOP being Trump’s consigliere and go back to being an actual Department of JUSTICE.

Joe Biden has said he wants to focus on healing the nation — as he should. He’s also said it won’t be up to him if a renewed, functional DoJ chooses to investigate anyone on Team Trump — or in the Republican Party. Of course Joe doesn’t want to see that. But, again, IT WON’T BE UP TO HIM. If you think the people in the DoJ who survived Trump won’t be out for blood? You’re not watching the same movie the rest of us are.

The second law ENFORCEMENT becomes the point of the DoJ, they’ll go at both the crimes Trump committed BEFORE he was POTUS and the crimes he committed while he was POTUS. That’s not speculation. Neal Katyal just said as much on Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline White House show. Imagine, for instance, if Sally Yates gets the top spot at Justice. Sally Yates was the person who ran around warning everyone about how dirty Michael Flynn was. How do you think Sally Yates views Trump pardoning Michael Flynn? Approvingly? Hell, no. She wants justice.

The drip-drip-drip of info coming from inside the White House is going to become a cascade the closer we get to Trump’s official sell-by date. And the instant everyone realizes that they have nothing to fear from any NDA they signed because Trump insisted? They’ll be no turning off the spigot. We are about to be deluged with even more detail about just how big a corrupt traitor Trump has been. Donald Trump is never going to have a “good day” for the rest of his stinking, corrupt, treasonous life.

Once the DoJ starts prosecuting Trump, other shoes will drop. Before too long, the DoJ will reinstate every single criminal investigation that Bill Barr hampered or kneecapped. The FBI will finally begin the counter-intelligence investigation that never happened (because Rod Rosenstein prevented it from happening). The SDNY and the Manhattan DA will expand their investigations not only into Trump but into his children. Without the cushy bubble of the presidency to spare him, Trump will quickly roll up into a bloated orange ball.

The prosecutions won’t just impact Trump and his crime family; they’ll; quickly draw the entire Republican Party into the conversation. If you think Republican corruption makes us feel sick now, just wait till we get the full draught of Republican criminal behaviors.

Six months from now, we won’t think of Republicans the way we do today. We’ll think of them as a bunch of criminals facing increased scrutiny. Guys like Devin Nunes, Ron Johnson and Kevin McCarthy — once placed under oath and grilled Benghazi style — will all become the picture definition of “soft, white underbelly”. Mitch McConnell? If he’s the Senate Majority Leader, he’s going to have legal problems to deal with; screwing with the Biden-Harris agenda won’t be quite as important to him as not dying in federal prison.

The biggest thing to impact how time and circumstance will strengthen the hands of Progressives is the pandemic. We’re about to get hammered. But the winter’s death toll will be placed in Donald Trump’s column not Joe Biden’s. When Spring comes — and the dying slows — and one or more vaccines have begun to circulate and we all feel a sense of order where previously there was chaos — that contrast will play as a victory for Team Biden-Harris. Competence will make for good marketing.

The pressure on Mitch and the Republicans to let Americans have their own tax dollars to keep from starving or becoming homeless will only increase — especially as more Americans starve and face homelessness because Republicans refuse to budge. As we learn more and more about Republican criminality — this won’t be defensible for them. Under assault from all sides, more and more Republicans will fold up their tents.

Universal Basic Income, health CARE (not health INSURANCE) and a paid-for public university college education or comparable job training for those who prefer that are not radical ideas anymore. The only “socialism” that’s been practiced in America has been corporate socialism. Socialism for the rich.

We Progressives deserve to have our vision put front and center. It’s the vision America has been heading toward for a generation at least. Circumstances in the form of a pathogen have flipped the world on its head. Just as the Black Death altered life in Medieval Europe — putting an end to feudalism as a social and economic system — so, too, will COVID-19 end how we do things and start something new.

It’s hard to trust that events will happen the way we think they will. It was inevitable that Trump and the Republicans would fail. There’s simply too many of us and not nearly enough of them to pull this off. One thing we CAN do to help ourselves feel less squirrely as events unfold (albeit too slowly for our liking) is to stop being cynical. When we assume the worst will happen regardless of what we do, we surrender the future to the bad guys. A better answer when shitheads do shitty things? Reply “no”. “No, you are not doing that.” Or “No, you are not getting away with that.” or “No, an immoral shit like you doesn’t deserve to walk around free with the rest of us.”

Remember — it’s part of the Trumpian dynamic to instill panic. But, if the panic is purely an invention then it would behoove us to ignore it and focus instead on the entirely real. Now’s a good time to take another deep breath.

And another. We beat him. We beat them. They know it — that’s why they’re fighting so hard to stop what’s coming next. You see, they know what’s coming. That’s how guilty minds work.

America’s “Second Coming” Will Begin The Instant Donald Trump Is Gone

William Butler Yeats’ “The Second Coming” rings in my ears every day. He was describing the chaotic aftermath of WWI as it rippled through Europe. He also was thinking about the Spanish Flu epidemic that nearly killed his pregnant wife.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold”. That sounds exactly like now, doesn’t it? There is no centre. There hasn’t been for a while — we just didn’t realize it. The Democrats, to their detriment, have played to that centre more than they played toward their Progressive base. The Republicans on the other hand, have played to their base exclusively. The result — as Yeats put it —

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

Yeah — our world feels full of anarchy. Worse — it feels like

The best lack all conviction while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Boy, is that us. There are some whose gaze is fixed on what’s happening. There are journalists — citizen & otherwise — who’ve grasped the Truth and shouted it as loudly as they could. But, like Yeats wrote. “The best lack all conviction”. You can’t beat evil without conviction.

And we are absolutely fighting evil.

Here’s where I break ranks a little with Yeats. Well, I break ranks with the chronology. Yeats’ magnificent poem famously ends like this —

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

We aren’t heading towards that moment where the rough beast comes round at last, we’re already in it.

Donald Trump IS the rough beast.

Though he wrote the poem in 1919, Yeats has been credited with anticipating the rise of fascism that was already beginning to percolate in Europe. Whether or not Yeats actually anticipated it, the rough beast was definitely present — as he is now, here in America.

That’s the bad news. It’s also the good news.

Just as Yeats’ poem falls apart without a rough beast toward which the whole enterprise is pointed, the Republican coup d’etat that began on election day 2016 would collapse in on itself were Donald Trump to suddenly vanish from the stage.

Were Trump to, say, succumb to one of the myriad illnesses stalking him (you think if he were truly healthy he’d be hiding his health info from us?), there is no “Plan B” in place. Within Trump’s family, there’s no succession plan. Trump wouldn’t dare create one because he knows his “beloved” children would instantly begin plotting how to carry it out. Because that’s exactly what HE did.

As Mary Trump spelled out in her excellent memoir about her experience growing up the niece of this horrible man, Trump has plotted against everyone in his family to get his hands on as much of daddy’s money as he could. Even in a nest of Trumpian vipers, Donald is the viper-iest.

Ivanka thinks she’s the golden child — probably because daddy’s told her things when he “wanted” things. Don Junior apparently believes he’s the political successor to his dad’s political empire. Oy. Eric may not be quite as stupid as everyone things, but then, he might be.

If Donald Trump were to suddenly succumb to a stroke or heart attack — even if he were merely incapacitated — all hell would break loose. The centre would not hold.

Within Trump’s family, they’d all go rogue against each other — maybe not to their faces — but behind their backs?

What about the world outside the Trumps though? After all, that’s where all the compromise has gone down. Everyone gets that Trumps stay loyal to Trumps because they’re Trumps. And while everyone also gets that Republicans stay loyal to other Republicans because they’re Republicans, that doesn’t play quite the same way with Trump. Because Trump isn’t and never was a Republican.

Trump never was a Democrat either. He’s always been a Trump. That’s his party — and he turned the Republican Party into him.

The Republican Party may hate Trump but they saw a way to achieve their end through him. They want permanent minority rule. If Donald Trump & Russia are how they achieve it? So what.

The Republicans have no succession plan either. If Trump suddenly couldn’t serve as POTUS, Mike Pence would become president. But Mike Pence can’t hold this gang together like Trump can because Mike isn’t a boss, he’s a foot soldier. No one currently beholden to Trump (for whatever reason) is beholden to Pence which is why Trump disappearing from the stage would be a “get out of Trump jail free” card.

A political party based on the idea of “every man for himself” would suffer the fate it deserves as the rats all climb over each other to try and escape. Mike Pence is very definitely just such a rat.

Remember — Paul Manafort brought Mike to the dance. Paul needed a compliant vice president who absolutely would not balk when he learned certain ugly secrets about Trump’s campaign — like it’s deep association with Russia. Apparently Mike fit that bill.

Mike Pence is compromised. So is Mitch McConnell. So is every single Republican who’s known from the get-go what current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan knew as far back as the 2016 convention: that Russia owned Donald Trump lock, stock & two smoking, corrupt, treasonous barrels.

That’s what happened on election night 2016: Russia pushed Trump over the finish line, helping the Republicans seal their coup d’etat with a victory stolen from the American people. We will come to see Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan through a very different lens. Trump didn’t pull off a surprise victory to snatch the Electoral College from Hillary Clinton. Russia first softened the environment by pounding it with propaganda borne of the proprietary polling data Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort handed to Russian Intelligence Officer Konstantin Kilimnik. When enough targeted Black voters were polling their reluctance to vote for Hillary (now that they were thinking she might be a closet racist thanks to all those ads showing up on their Facebook pages), Russia knew it could hit the voting machines — flipping just enough to make a Trump win believable.

That’s 77,000 votes across three blue states.

We don’t know for certain yet that that happened because no one — despite everything we know — has ever done any forensics on all those machines. Those machines — we now know — are incredibly vulnerable. Hacking into them — via the internet — isn’t even challenging. That’s probably by design. The majority of machines are manufactured by companies owned by Republicans — who’ve made their allegiance to Republican politics known. Considering how corrupt & corruptible people are in general — and Republicans are in particular — bet the ranch on those voting machines being part of the corruption.

The past 4 years have opened our eyes kinda like Alex’s eyes were opened in “A Clockwork Orange” — they’ve been pried open, giving us no way to not see every bit of the Trump Shit Show. That show though includes a lot of harsh truths about America’s failings. Racism has always been our fatal flaw — not because we were or are racist (tribalism is hard wired into us) but because rather than resisting our inherent racism, we indulged it. We allowed it to tell us that though “All men are created equal”, if those men are Black or brown or anything other than white, they aren’t equal.

Donald Trump didn’t invent American racism of course, he merely gave it permission to speak its vileness out loud. He didn’t invent corruption, he merely excelled at it (like he’s excelled at nothing else). He didn’t invent treason, he merely used it to get elected.

Living in America has never felt so perilous — or so filled with a need for change. Yet, as terrifying and exhausting and frustrating and insane as it feels, there’s also some very real hopefulness in the mix. If we can accomplish the systemic change that needs to happen? We will make America a more fair place where more people have the very real possibility of living their dreams.

I look forward to proving F. Scott Fitzgerald wrong when he wrote “There are no second acts in American lives”. We Americans definitely have a second act in us and probably a third and a fourth. We can’t get there though until we send this bloated orange rough beast to prison for the rest of his life.

And What Will Happen AFTER Donald Trump?

While Republicans have dreamed forever about achieving permanent minority rule, it wasn’t until Donald Trump arrived that they found a way to pull it off. Trump compromises everyone. He makes everyone around him complicit. That’s really his one talent.

Take Russia out of the equation and Trump never becomes POTUS. Everything flows from that fact. Trump’s power doesn’t flow from him, it flows from all the people who can blackmail him — because those are the same people blackmailing the rest of the GOP. The machine relies on Trump to be the organizing principle around which all the other corruption revolves. But, what if Trump suddenly disappeared.

Donald Trump is not a healthy man. We can see it and hear it. I bet up close you can smell it too. It’s the outrageous story twist that still hasn’t happened. But it very well could. At some point, it absolutely will: Trump will die or become incapacitated. What happens then?

If it happens before the election, all hell will break loose. How can it not? Suddenly all those people afraid of Trump coming after them if they tell the truth will have nothing to fear. Trump’s family may vow to pick up the mantle but each and every one of them is about to have their own legal problems. The Republican Party won’t suddenly come to Jesus and realize the error of its ways. They, too, will have legal problems.

Without Trump, Bill Barr’s efforts become harder to defend. Mike Pence calling those shots wont have the same impact that Trump calling them does. No one’s beholden to Mike Pence; in fact, Mike Pence is as beholden as pretty much anyone.

With Trump out of the picture, more secrets will pour from the shadows but without Trump’s presence to reassure his villainous co-conspirators that nothing will happen to them. Aside from Trump, who among the Republicans can in any way assure the rest of them they they’ll get away with this?

No one. Because no one can assure them.

If Trump were to succumb before the election, the entire Republican election effort will fall apart. Who would his followers glom onto instead? Mike Pence? Ha! Ted Cruz? Not even Ted’s family likes Ted. Nikki Haley? Do not hold your breath. The answer is no one.

If Trump were to cheat his way into “re-election” then succumb after his second stolen election, pretty much the same thing would happen. Trump is the corrupt heart at the corrupt core of Republicanism. Without Trump, all those corrupt Republicans will turn on each other like sharks in a feeding frenzy. They’re all criminals after all. They know what everyone else holds over them — and they hate them for it.

Without Trump mitigating all that mistrust? The mistrust will explode. The Republicans will turn on each other with bloodthirsty abandon. Take it to the bank. They’re Republicans. It’s what they do.

The end of Donald Trump will be the end of the Republican coup d’etat and, shortly thereafter, the Republican Party itself.

Extinction couldn’t happen to a better bunch of pirates.

Men Who Think They’re God

We all know one. Or two or three. Men who’ve got it in their heads that they’re deities. They sure think their junk is. But I’m talking about a small subset of that set — the Bill Barrs of the world. The assholes di tutti assholes.

Bill Barr has made his religious views known. He’s not ashamed of his bizarre brand of Catholicism that is as far removed from Jesus as I am from getting a dinner invite from Donald Trump. Catholicism is just Bill Barr’s beard anyway. Bill doesn’t believe in Catholicism’s god. Bill doesn’t believe IN God at all.

Bill Barr believes he IS God.

Watch Barr’s performance before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Watch his body language. Even a well-rehearsed liar like Bill Barr can’t control his body’s autonomous responses to stimuli.

Barr started the hearing his usual, arrogant self. It was there, gleaming in his eyes. But then the Democrats began to frustrate Barr. Every time Barr went to digress (his strategy — eat as much of the questioner’s five minutes as possible), the Democrats cut him off: “I’m reclaiming my time!”

Bill cannot tolerate being questioned. He hates being challenged especially by women

how he dodged. Deal with it. Except that didn’t happen today. Today, the Democrats weren’t so much asking Barr questions as telling him what he’s done.

Telling We The People what Bill Barr has done on Donald Trump’s behalf to dismantle the country the rest of us live in.

Bill Barr’s hardly the only Republican who honestly thinks he’s not just “a” deity but “the” deity.

Mike Pompeo is famously religious. He’s big into the end of days cos he thinks the Book Of Revelation should be taken literally. Mike’s proof that Karl Marx was wrong. Religion isn’t the opiate of the masses, it’s the angel dust. It doesn’t narcotize, it causes psychosis.

Mike Pence might be one of the phoniest Christians ever. He wouldn’t know Jesus if he stopped midway through nailing Jesus to a cross to spit in Jesus’s eye — which he absolutely would do. Mike comes by his sanctimony honestly — he really is sanctimonious. And make no mistake — when Mike Pence imagines the face of God? He sees himself.

Mitch McConnell doesn’t see himself as God, he sees himself as a dark Turtle Lord serving the Kochs. To Mitch McConnell, THEY are God.

Then there’s Donald Trump — except Trump’s the exception to the rule. Trump doesn’t see himself as God — he can’t imagine anything bigger than himself — except money. To Trump, money is God and Trump is its Jesus.

You’ll notice — all of these God wannabes aspire to be God. Not a one of them aspires to be Jesus. It’s like they see no advantage or gain in dying for anyone else’s sins.

John Lewis Was A Case Study In HOW We Could “Do Unto Others”

I once wrote an episode of The Outer Limits (the reboot on Showtime) about a cool future technology that’s used for dark, nefarious purposes. Yeah, that could be pretty much any sci-fi story. This tech asked a question — what if we could take the talents, skill sets or abilities from one person and “implant them” into another person?

The downside to this technology — in the episode — was that the skill set couldn’t be in two places at once. If it was being implanted into someone else, it’s because it no longer existed in its original host. In the episode, the character “Mad” Joe Dell’s legendary jazz chops could be removed from Joe Dell and given to someone who’d bought them — from the company that took them from Joe Dell.

The excellent Bill Cobb plays the character Joe Dell — a legendary jazz musician whose jazz talent gets “taken” from him by a new technology — and implanted into someone else — who’s paid to get it.

Joe Dell (and most of his family), thought Joe was moving into a retirement community. There was no explanation for his rapid decline into total dementia — and then his death. But Joe hadn’t actually died. He’d been warehoused — until every last drop of his jazz chops could be squeezed from him.

The episode ended happily. Joe’s teenaged grandson Ronnie catches on to the monstrous scam being pulled and gets his grandfather back — legendary jazz chops mostly complete. So, here’s my storyteller’s sighed “What if…?”

What if we could transplant John Lewis’ legendary humanity, his empathy and humility into the heads of every single Republican?

But the “skill set” we’re talking about isn’t like jazz talent. It doesn’t require all the micro-skills being a jazz legend demands. All this skill set requires is that we care about other people at least as much as we care about ourselves. Ya know — “Do unto others” and all that.

What if we could get Republicans to “Do unto others” like it was a super power? Or a normal human capacity…

Imagine if Mitch McConnell forgot how to be a cynical treason turtle and, instead, cared about America and every human living within its borders.

Imagine if Bill Barr put down his perverse Dominionism and, instead took up Jesus’ message.

Imagine if Mike Pence’s sanctimony suddenly morphed into love of something other than Donald Trump’s ass.

Imagine if every single Republican who thought Jesus wanted them to be rich vs decent suddenly realized, “NO! HE WANTS US TO BE DECENT!”

We won’t bother imagining any scenario where Donald Trump suddenly acquires humanity. Mary Trump’s book spelled it out clearly and emphatically: Trump has no capacity for humanity and probably never did. He’s a sociopath just like his daddy. Indecency is hard-wired into Trump’s corrupt DNA.

But, if everyone else suddenly acquired John Lewis’ innate decency — if every Republican who’s enabled Trump (in other words, every Republican who still proudly calls themselves “Republican”) — then we wouldn’t have a problem with Trump. Our collective decency would not tolerate his presence.

He’d be gone already and no longer a clear & present danger.

I know — that’s why stories are stories and reality is reality.

But a storyteller can dream, can’t he?

Of Rabbit Holes & Republicans

Donald Trump counts on what Steve Bannon called “flooding the zone with shit”. It’s the “How To Make A Rabbit Hole” playbook.

Obfuscation and distraction are the point. While we spin our wheels in consternation at the latest outrage, Trump is busily thieving somewhere else in the environment or laying the groundwork for an even bigger score somewhere down the line.

Each Trumpian lie is a rabbit hole. The danger — and our press simply can’t keep out of it — is that you’ll follow Trump down whichever one he’s braying from. There’s never a good outcome.

“It’s a hoax” is a rabbit hole. Whatever Trump calls a “hoax” is guaranteed to be one hundred percent true. Nothing hoax about. The only correct answer is “No, it’s not”. Any scratching of the head and wondering “Wow, does he really think it’s a hoax?” is the rabbit hole reaching up to grab you and pull you into it.

No, of course Trump doesn’t think it’s a hoax. He knows better. But now that he’s got you asking questions about it, it might as well be real because here we all are talking about it. The rabbit hole just became real.

Mike Pence also loves a good rabbit hole. Ever watch him answer a question?

Yesterday — in the face of record-setting infection numbers, Mike Pence announced how proud he was of our efforts to stop the coronavirus from spreading. Proud? Of what? Of the fact that we’re pretty much the only country in the world getting its ass kicked like this — because we insist on denying science? If you ask Mike the obvious question — “Mike, what the hell are you talking about?”, Mike’s answer will be pure rabbit hole.

Ask Mitch McConnell about Merrick Garland. Or Oleg Deripaska. Or how much money he’s personally taken from Russia over the years. Or why he participated in the coup d’etat that put a Russian intelligence asset in power.

Moscow Mitch will hummina-hummina at you with his beady, red-rimmed Treason Turtle eyes all while leading you down a rabbit hole.

As I said — it’s all about obfuscation.

The trick? Don’t go there. Refuse to follow them. You know the argument’s going to be specious anyway. “Thanks anyway” is a perfectly good way to let them know you won’t be joining them down in bullshitland.

“Shut up” is even better.

Coronavirus Throws A Monkey Wrench Into The GOP’s Soft Coup D’Etat

The Trump Era keeps proving — it’s hard to keep your eye on the ball when there are fifty balls flying at you. Trump’s coronavirus response has been everything you’d expect it to be — a chaotic, self-centered act of corruption. It’s been such a massive failure that it’s even managed to make everyone forget this essential fact: Donald Trump is a traitor who would not be POTUS if not for Russia MAKING him POTUS.

Imagine losing sight of that fact — but we have. The press — even with Trump lying daily about pretty much everything — they’ve reverted to treating Trump as a legitimate president whose every utterance about the crisis they must cover. The hue and cry to stop covering Trump’s daily campaign rallies has come from all over. it’s a puzzlement why MSNBC & CNN can’t treat it the way they treat Trump’s impromptu WH lawn news pressers. They regularly put some lag time between Trump lying and their broadcasts of his lies. Occasionally they even contextualize Trump’s bullshit — imagine!

I’ve written here often how I think we got here — not so much the coronavirus crisis (though it’s intimately connected) as the underlying political crisis that comes from having the intelligence asset of a hostile foreign government running OUR government. Hillary Clinton did not “lose” election 2016, the correct result was stolen from We The People — which would have made HRC POTUS.

The leadership of the Republican Party has always known what’s going on here. Kevin McCarthy “knew” back when he told a meeting of the Republican Party’s muckety-mucks during the 2016 GOP convention: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan — third most powerful politician in the country — told now GOP leader McCarthy: “Let’s keep that ‘in the family’.”

“In the family” — like a bunch of stinking mafioso.

The GOP’s extreme deference to Trump is way beyond tribalism. It’s criminal conspiracy to commit election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason. That’s why the Republicans can’t stop this train from going off the cliff. The instant Trump stops being president, shit will get real for Trump and everyone sporting that “R” next to their names.

Whether he likes it or not — whether he knows it or not — on January 20, 2021 regardless of whether Trump cancels the election — his term expires. So does Mike Pence’s. On that day, if no election has happened, the presidency will default to the third in line — the Speaker of the House. It is now and will be then Nancy Pelosi.

This is why Mitch McConnell is begging every older conservative judge to retire now. Mitch hopes like hell that the old rules — the ones he violated regularly — will hold and his corrupt hijacking of the judiciary will stand. Mitch is going to be sorely disappointed. I’m with former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner (his Twitter feed is here): when this is all done & said, we must address the fact that everything that flowed from election 2016 — every bit of Republican legislation & chaos, every American Enterprise Institute-approved lifetime judge named while President Obama was denied the appointments — must be considered in the light of treason — of the entire Republican Party knowingly conspiring with Russia to not only seize control of the government but to maintain that control forever: permanent minority rule.

Bill Barr has come damned close to corrupting the Department of Justice beyond repair. Mike Pompeo has nearly destroyed the Department of State. Mitch McConnell, of course, has broken the Senate — with the purpose of hijacking the judiciary for all time.

And then coronavirus screwed up their plans.

For starters, shutting down the govt has already made voting by mail for every American a very real possibility now. Coronavirus has pushed a lot of ideas into the foreground that have struggled for attention up till now. That horrifies Republicans more than anything. The economic chaos — lots of it exacerbated by the damage done by crony capitalism — can only be cured by progressive, social democracy type solutions.

When a version of universal basic income works in ways austerity never could (because it’s always austerity for everyone BUT the rich) — when everyone infected by the coronavirus or kovid-19 finds relief through our socialized medicine response (you won’t get billed for your care or bankrupted by it) — when more Americans realize that the whole point of government is to create an environment where as many people as possible have the education, training and opportunity they need to succeed, they’ll stop seeing it as “the enemy”. If Americans got things for their tax dollars that they could point at — like, say, good health CARE that can’t bankrupt them if they get sick — they’d stop seeing taxes as a black hole.

This is not to say the Republicans won’t still do everything they can to hold onto power. Consider their motivation. They know they could all end up like Paul Manafort — eating prison dinner every night. And Trump knows that the moment he stops being POTUS, he becomes private citizen Don Trump — an INDICTED co-conspirator to election fraud. He could well lose every building he owns to confiscation. Sad, no?

Make no mistake — Neither Trump nor the Republicans “won” election 2016. Without heavy cheating and Russian involvement there’s no way they win election 2020 either.

As of today, Vladimir Putin insists the Russia alone conquered coronavirus. Oh, the things authoritarian shitheads say out loud. That’s just not true — and regardless of what Putin allows the disease sweeping through Russia to be called (a rash of pneumonia), it will clear out people with brutal efficiency. If Russia were suddenly stricken and found itself consumed by not dying instead of poking around in our political system, what would Trump do then?

Imagine Trump & the GOP having to run a “fair” campaign. They couldn’t do it on principle.

Just Like In HG Wells’ War Of The Worlds, A Pathogen Will Save OUR World — In Our Case, From TRUMP

If you don’t know HG Wells’ “War Of The Worlds”, here’s the thumbnail — Martians launch from their planet and aggressively take over Earth, easily throwing aside all the puny earthlings. What saves humanity’s bacon? Pathogens. The Martians’ bodies can’t handle the same pathogens our immune systems handle regularly.

Big bad monsters are brought down by teeny-tiny creatures.

Welcome to the Trump version.

Yesterday, Trump — to no one’s surprise — contradicted science and logic and truth because all those things predict that coronavirus will ripple across the world’s economy in unpredictable (but probably negative) ways and Trump needs a strong economy (that he pretends he created) to stand a chance at reelection.

The ONLY thing the pundit class can point to as a positive talking point is the “strong economy” (never mind who it’s strong for and who it’s NOT strong for) as proof that Trump is a normal candidate selling normal POTUS candidate things. What will Trump do when the halt to China’s supply chains brings everything it touches to a halt, too? That will happen. Magical thinking & bullshit pronouncements can’t stop it from NOT happening.

Maybe Trump thinks he can pass the blame to Mike Pence — because he gave Pence the title of “Fix The Coronavirus Guy” . It wouldn’t be above Trump to think he can spare himself the responsibility that’s rightfully his as he runs for re-election (the first IMPEACHED POTUS to ever do so). Of course, considering Mike Pence doesn’t believe smoking tobacco causes cancer and his refusal to deal with science caused an upsurge in AIDS in Indiana while Mike was governor there, giving him the job of “Fix The Disease” guy is like handing over disaster response leadership to the disaster itself.

Yeah, yeah — Trump’s said & tweeted stupid shit before and, yeah, Trump never paid a price for it (other than mockery on Twitter). But, aside from our military and asylum-seeking immigrants desperately in need of help, Trump’s tweets haven’t gotten anyone killed. When Americans start watching Trump spew bullshit and lies about coronavirus from their sick beds — those tweets WILL start to matter to Americans. Trump’s lies have impacted them personally. Physically. Memorably.

Every moment of Covid-19 induced misery will be like the biggest political ad imaginable. And not a one will be a pro-Trump ad.

Donald Trump — with the aid of his sycophants, surrogates & co-conspirators — has blown through our Democracy. He’s nearly blown it apart. The apprehension we all felt election night 2016 mirrors exactly the trepidation many of the earthling characters in Wells’ classic experience as they gaze on the mysterious pods that just landed from outer space.

Unlike in Wells’ story though, OUR news media has been slow to respond as the monsters emerged from their pods — revealing their true selves and purposes — and attacked us. In a sense, our press is the equivalent of the story’s military: our last line of defense. Just like in the book though, our defense was defenseless.

Good thing we have coronavirus to save us.

WE Think Republicans Are Putting On A Crime; THEY Think They’re Putting On A “Show”

It’s the movie buff in me. I see classic movies playing out in real life all the time.  It struck me this morning that we’re staring at a perverse version of Babes In Arms, the Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney-MGM collaboration that gave us “Hey, Let’s Put On A Show!”

Here – sample this…

See what I mean?  Isn’t it awesome how Judy & Mickey get the kids together, they “borrow” some instruments and, using the Old Barn, they put on a damned show!

That’s exactly the movie we’re living through – except the Trumpified version.  It turns out, as the depth and breadth of the Trump-Russia Conspiracy begins to assume real shape and dimension, that this is a conspiracy in every sense of the word. 

These are the players (some of them) and their “plays”…

BETSY DEVOS – Never mind her task of dismantling America’s educational systems, Betsy HAD a seat at the table because she’d already paid her way there.  As we’ll learn more about – her DeVos Childrens Hospital computer network was used (knowingly) to transfer DATA PACKETS – that’s packets of STOLEN data, hacked from the DCCC (the Democratic National Committee), and several members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign

Think of stolen data as a stolen bike. Everyone who knowingly touches it, moves it, transports it, sells it or covers up its theft is guilty of a crime.  Just as a bike must be physically transported from point A to point B, so too does stolen information.  If it can’t be endlessly viewed where it is, it has to be copied & that copy moved to someplace “safe” where it can be viewed (by those not meant to view it remember).  The criminals must transport their stolen goods in order to benefit from them. 

In the case of stolen data, the benefit would only come once that information was transported out of the country to Russia – where the GRU (Russian military intelligence) was tasked with analyzing the data then weaponizing it and turning it back on America and – most importantly – individual Americans.  The Russians (with Cambridge Analytica’s help) had created a way to turn stolen voter data into fear-directed Facebook ads that would appear right on an individual voter’s Facebook page – stoking fears about, say, racism among Democrats that “could” induce an ambivalent African American voter to stay home on election day rather than go out and vote for Hillary.

Betsy DeVos provided the pipeline. Hey, Betsy — Lets put on a show! 

ERIK PRINCE – Erik is Betsy DeVos’ brother so, already, ya know he’s corrupt.  Erik founded a company called Blackwater that won big service contracts in the Iraq War theater – making them millions of dollars while they formed a private army for the benefit of their benefactors and electrocuted American service people when they showered (in Iraq) cos why not add incompetence to your resume of corruption?

Erik was part of the “Hey, look who I bumped into in a bar in the Seychelles if you believe in coincidences” bullshit that attempted to create a back channel through which information – and treason – could flow easily.  This back channel, by the way – the brain child of Steve Bannon.

Hey, Erik — Lets put on a show!

WILBUR ROSS – Known as “Trump’s MOST corrupt cabinet appointee (and that’s including Ryan Zinke FFS!) had lots of corrupt dealings with Russians and their laundered money while holding a board seat at the Bank of Cypress – a place where the banking laws encourage money laundering & money launderers like Wilbur Ross.

Lots of Russian money needed to be laundered then donated to every Republican on the ticket. 

Hey, Wilbur – Let’s put on a show!

PAUL MANAFORT – Gosh, GOP, why let Paul Manafort (a guy you all knew was dirtier than dirty) with Russian connections so deep he farts in Russian run your presidential nominee’s campaign.  Paul had one change – ONE – to your whole freakin’ platform: Support for Ukraine and sanctions.  No one “wondered” what that was all about?  Perhaps no one NEEDED to wonder because you already knew.

Then there’s Mike Pence.  Paul brought Mike to the dance.  We have to ask “WHY?”  Of all the gin joints in all the world, why did Paul invite Mike into his?

Remember (it’s important) – Paul wasn’t running an honest campaign.  He was running a dirty one.  He was trying to leverage his role as Trump’s campaign chief into forgiveness for $17 MILLION worth of debt to Oleg Deripaska, former client & a Russian oligarch not known for his largess or forgiveness (especially of massive debt which, also remember, Deripaska believed Manafort was trying to skip out on).  Paul was running a very criminal enterprise.

So, ask yourself, why would a criminal want a boy scout as Veep?  Why would a criminal position a cop right where the criminal needed to go?  Paul didn’t want anyone blowing the whistle on him – we’re all clear on that, right?  Paul wanted – NEEDED – a veep who HE KNEW FOR A FACT was compliant and trustworthy enough to keep their big secret SECRET: Russia was running the show.

Last point about Paul. He wasn’t flying solo.  He wasn’t a lucky conman who’d figured out a way to save his ass (and save his family – for now – from a brutal end).  Paul knew that Trump was dirty and Trump knew that Paul was dirty.  Remember – no one can put their cards on the table because then everyone would see those cards spell treason.  Though these criminals surround themselves with other criminals, they’re entering a system with checks and balances bent on stopping people like them.

That’s where BILL BARR fits in.  Hey, Paul – Let’s put on a show!

MIKE PENCE — Mike is a sanctimonious fraud so unloved by the people of Indiana that compromising what was left of his soul to sell out to Trump and Russia was a no brainer.  Mike had nowhere else to go except total corruption. 

Mike’s an opportunistic con man adept at speaking preacher-ese to the yokels who salivate like Pavolv’s dog when they hear it.  These soulless cretins wouldn’t know Jesus if they stopped mid-way through nailing Jesus to a cross to spit in his eye. 

I betcha Paul Manafort knew lots about Mike Pence and his deep, dark secrets.  Let’s be honest – Mike Pence’s relationship with women – and his wife – is bizarre.  It’s beyond unhealthy, it’s fraudulent.  Karen Pence’s nickname shouldn’t be “Mother”, it should be “Beard”.

I wonder… when Mike eventually goes away for Life, will “Mother” change her nickname to “Available”?

STEVE BANNON – Steve’s the guru of darkness (while Stephen Miller is merely its court jester).  Steve’s religious faith runs deep.  His ooga-booga is better than your ooga-booga – that’s the basis for everything Steve believes.  He’s so determined to save the world from YOUR ooga-booga in fact that he’s willing to torpedo the greatest experiment in human self government ever.

Steve has never stopped being philosophically connected the Trump’s ultimate purpose – destruction of America as a Democratic Republic. Well, to be fair, that’s not Trump’s ultimate purpose (he couldn’t give a shit – he just wants to be richer than he already supposedly is), it’s Vladimir Putin’s.

And let’s be real – this is mostly Putin’s deal.  The Saudi’s, the Chinese, the Israelis and Erdogan may be trying to horn in on it but they’re strictly back seat passengers.  Putin’s joe sits in the Oval Office.

Hey, Steve — Let’s put on a show!

THE NRA – Conspiracies cannot live by bad intent alone.  They need money, too, because traitors are  notoriously greedy. Money always comes with strings.  Don’t do what the strings want?  Forget about the money.  Back in the day, the NRA was primarily a gun safety organization.

Then the gun manufacturers took over.  Gun sales became the point of the exercise.  The gun lobby rewrote the second amendment in its own image and used the NRA to sell it. A gun control amendment became an amendment justifying mass murder because how dare you come for our guns?  Putin saw a golden opening and took it.  The more guns in American hands, the more gun violence there would be.  The more Putin pushed the “more guns more places” meme, the more divided he could make America seem.  Hell, using the NRA, Putin has managed to create situations where stores have to beg their customers NOT to come armed to the teeth.

That’s not normal, people. That’s screwed up.

As we’ve learned – Russia sent a very skilled agent named Maria Butina to play the NRA.  She made the NRA a useful conduit for Russian money.  It wasn’t Russia contributing (illegally) to all those Republican campaigns all around the country, it was THE NRA.  Get it?

Russia stays within the letter of the law while raping its spirit senseless.

Hey, NRA – Let’s put on a show!

ROGER STONE – conduit & con man.  Connoisseur and creep.  The man so dedicated to Richard Nixon, he got a tattoo of Nixon on his back.  Former business partner of Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater (who personally started the Culture & Political War that the Right (un)declared on the Left.  Roger via the weasels immediately around him (Jerome Corsi, Sam Nunberg, Randy Credico) was the conduit between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign.

Hey, Roger, let’s put on a show! 

WIKILEAKS – That we EVER thought Julian Assange was a hero is a testament to our own collective failure of imagination.  A guy accused of sexual assault should instantly get our collective attention.  Yes, yes – we need to hear the whole story and all – but honest people face their accusers.  Weasels weasel out and stink up foreign embassies.

Hey, Julian — Let’s put on a show!

THE MERCERS & CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA – Again – pipelines.  But also the design.  Robert Mercer’s a brilliant computer guy with a twisted political vision that’s tied to even more twisted Dominionist religious tripe. What could possibly go wrong? Rebekka is just as nuts but a little less on the spectrum. That’s what makes her dangerous.

Cambridge took a “benign” product meant to profile potential terrorists and turned it on America – using its powerful insights to gin up right wing conspiracy theorists while helping to carry out a crime – the total undermining of the United States Constitution.

Hey, Mercer’s — Let’s put on a show!

BILL BARR — Having saved the Republican Party once from the punishment it deserved (Iran-Contra) b making the crime go away & the evidence disappear, Bill Barr was perfectly positioned to be Donald Trump & the GOP’s ultimate Bag Man. So far, he’s LIED about the Mueller Report. Lied about the Whistleblower. Lied about Ukraine. Tried to seduce other governments into helping Trump in 2020. It’s all in a day’s work for Bill.

Hey, Bill — let’s put on a show!

MITCH MCCONNELL — I’ve spent plenty of time on Mitch here. Mitch is a traitor but he started his life as a mere culture warrior. Apparently Mitch loves it when people walk right up to his turtle face and scream “SODOMY” at the top of their lungs.

It brings back memories of his time in the military apparently. You’ll have to ask Mitch. Better yet — scream “SODOMY” in Moscow Mitch’s face at the top of your lungs.

Hey, Mitch — Let’s put on a show!

Vladimir Putin – For a guy running a shitty country with a shitty economy and a shitty future, he’s done very well for himself.

It’s incumbent on US to fix it.

Better yet — Let’s put on a show.