Not Every Issue Has Two Sides – Like The Question “Should American Democracy End?”

The “Both Sides Do It” brand of journalism – cynical all the way down to its mitochondria – gives all sides to a story equal weight because it refuses to judge anything, prizing “neutrality” above even the Truth. Pick a conflict between two people, two groups, two nations and both sides, BSDI journalism says, have equally valid arguments that journalists should never side with. That is pure crap. Let’s say my personal conflict is with a car thief. My point of view is “You stole my car and that’s wrong in every single way.” The car thief’s angle is “I stole your car from you because I wanted it”. Now, according to BSDI journalism rules, these two points (separate from points of view) are equally valid. As the car thief’s “alleged victim”, it’s just my opinion versus his. If the car thief says he didn’t do it, and until a court of law says otherwise, then it’s not for the press to “convict” the car thief even as he sits in my car outside my house, blaring the horn just to rub his thievery in my face. Even my victimhood is just “my opinion”.

The moment you give credence to bullshit, bullshit wins. Game over. That’s what our news media does every single day. It’s what they did from the instant Donald Trump stepped onto our political stage. In essence, Trump’s campaign should have ended the day it started. The moment he called Mexicans rapists, our news media should have recognized that a line had been crossed. Same goes for “pussy grabbing”. That, too, should have been an uncrossable line in the sand for ANY presidential candidate. But, our news media shrugged them both off when “But, her emails!” reared its head. In doing that, our news media false equivalanced Donald Trump telling everyone he was unqualified to be POTUS with a completely manufactured email scandal.

What, I’d like to know, are the “two sides” to Paul Manafort handing Oleg Deripaska the proprietary polling data on Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that Russian military intelligence – Deripaska’s employer – turned into personalized Facebook ads that showed up on the Facebook pages of Black, Democratic voters in those three states, feeding them propaganda about Hillary Clinton’s quiet racism? The sheer act of giving Deripaska that information was a massive crime (for which Manafort went to jail and for which Trump pardoned him). What, I’d like to know, is the “other side” to any of this? We’re not speculating treason here, we’re outright talking about it!

To Trump’s credit, he understands our news media better than they understand themselves because he sees so much of himself in them. He also understands how to be a bully. And bullies don’t worry about the truth. They worry about “winning” at all costs. Is “winning at all costs (up to and including cheating)” the same as just “winning”? The end product may be the same but, surely, a win achieved through cheating and a win achieved through honesty are not! If that was the case, why would anyone bother doing things honestly when it’s the cheaters who always win?

That, too, is another question our news media never asks. Maybe they think cheating to win IS as good as not cheating to win.

The overwhelming majority of Americans – Democrats, independents and a few Republicans – don’t want America’s experiment with self government to end. We never even wanted it on the ballot. We never thought it was an issue.

Our news media – late to the party as ever – still can’t get it through their heads that a Republican suppressing a Democratic voter isn’t behaving politically; they’re behaving criminally (suppressing another American’s right to vote) FOR a political purpose. The Democratic voter whose right to vote has been suppressed (or gerrymandered) is NOT behaving “politically” when they insist they are the victim of a crime. They’re a crime victim reporting the crime that’s been perpetrated against their right to vote. See the difference?

Therefore the voter whose vote is being suppressed has a valid argument – their side – while those suppressing their right to vote DON’T have a valid argument. That’s two points of view but only one valid point. Our news media, alas, reports them both as if they both were valid. Just like that, Truth gets compromised because our news media has given credence to lies, corruption and bullshit.

Mitch McConnell Now WANTS The Democrats To Take Out The Republican Party’s Insurrectionist Wing But Only If They Stop There

Mitch McConnell, Enemy of the Vote - Rolling Stone

Mitch McConnell may be a profound failure as a human being, but when it comes to politics? He knows how to play. He knows how to use the levers of power available to him to maximum personal advantage. He knows how to kowtow to the money behind him. He knows when to stop serving one bully because another bully now owns the schoolyard. He knows when the cards in his hand suck but also knows that rules are for suckers. Up until now, Mitch has successfully relied upon the Democrats’ refusal to ever play hardball the way Mitch plays hardball. Quick note: the reason Democrats don’t play the way Mitch does is because then Democrats would BE Mitch. But, times being how they are, that has suddenly changed. Yesterday, Mitch said this about the quickening pace of the House Select Committee’s work: “I think the fact finding is interesting. We’re all going to be watching it,” McConnell told Spectrum News. “It was a horrendous event, and I think what they’re seeking to find out is something the public needs to know.”

For context – because context is everything – Mitch never wanted any kind of investigation into January 6 whatsoever. There’s a reason for that. It’s the same reason you don’t pull a thread on an old or badly made sweater. But, Mitch understood that with the Democrats in control of Congress and the Department of Justice, his best political tack was to slow Team Biden down on every possible front. Notice how the Senate has slow-walked most every Biden nominee for anything through? Actually, Team Biden has adeptly moved to fill judicial seats with good legal minds (instead of the American Enterprise Institute’s right wing anti-abortion clones). It was the Department of Justice, ambassadorships and a few other social justice posts where Republicans really focused their obstructionism. Especially the DoJ.

Remember how long it took to get Merrick Garland in the door to begin with? And Merrick Garland was, from a Republican POV, the “safest” bet out there. Imagine if President Biden had chosen Sally Yates instead (with her inside view of early Trumpian corruption at the DoJ). Mitch controls the flow of confirmation hearings. He’s always got that filibuster in his pocket, doesn’t he? Actual justice flowing from the Department of Justice is the LAST thing on earth any Republican wants.

But, consummate politician Mitch can read the wind like an assets statement. And Mitch knows that if the whole truth about what just happened to America gets out? Almost (but not quite) everyone with an “R” next to their name is going to get prosecuted for treason. That’s not hyperbole. The Republican leadership knew even before they nominated Donald Trump to be their presidential candidate in 2016 that he was compromised by Russia. They said so out loud during a meeting on June 25, 2016. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy entered the meeting and said “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” Nobody “made him” say that. And when he did? No one in the room reacted with shock or horror. A few laughed uncomfortably.

As in laughed uncomfortably because something that was supposed to remain unspoken just got spoken.

How do we know that was the case? First, because no one resisted the idea. No one said “Whaaaaaat? Kevin – dude – are you sure about that?” No one demanded that Kevin put down a receipt to back up such a bold accusation. Let’s not under-sell the accusation – or the room it was made in – or the room’s reaction to the accusation. A lot happened there that we still haven’t gone back to and examined. But we must because it explains the very thing I’m talking about here.

If Putin “pays Trump”, he OWNS Trump. He’s compromised Trump. And that means he’s compromised America’s national security should Trump win the presidency. Everyone in that room understood those implications about their presidential nominee and yet, instead of balking in any way, instead of doing something patriotic like call the FBI, they went along with then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s calming insistence that they go back to not speaking about the subject. That they keep this secret of theirs a secret. “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.” Did you catch that? Not just the “family” part, the “no leaks” part.

The GOP knew even as they engaged with Trump that they were engaging in something so illegal that it HAD to be kept secret. And – most importantly – part of that secret involved America’s national security being compromised because of Donald Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin. Put that statement in context with this photograph –

“Putin pays Trump”. Putin OWNS Trump. And if Putin owns Trump, he owns everyone around Trump who KNOWS that “Putin pays Trump” or even suspects it. It all starts with treason and the simple, inescapable fact that no one in the Republican Party did anything whatsoever to stand in treason’s way.

That – right there – that’s the GOP’s problem. It’s Mitch’s problem. What saved Mitch’s ass up till now of course was the ability to obstruct justice from within (and from within the Department of Justice). While everyone thought Rod Rosenstein was a good soldier minding the fort, he was a Trojan horse who quietly ended the counter intelligence investigations into Trump’s relationship with the man who was paying him. We have to wonder now – who in the DoJ, in the FBI, in our government period knew about Trump’s relationship with Putin? Who knew and did nothing to stop it or give the rest of us a “head’s up!”?

Mitch may not have gone willingly into treason, but once he was there, he was THERE. Keep in mind the fact that as of June 25, 2016, the Republican leadership KNEW that “Putin pays Trump”. How then to explain Mitch’s behavior at that “Gang of Eight” meeting at the White House in September 2016 where President Obama presented the intelligence community’s fears that Russia was working to sway the presidential election to Trump – the guy THEY WERE PAYING. At the meeting, rather than sign a letter of condemnation toward Russia’s actions, McConnell threatened to announce that Obama had “politicized the intelligence”.

“Politicized the intelligence” about the guy RUSSIA WAS PAYING – and that Mitch KNEW they were paying.

See Mitch’s problem getting bigger? But then, Mitch made it worse. Mitch did not want to condemn Russia’s involvement because Mitch knew there’d been so much of it. Are we to believe that Mitch McConnell knew nothing (either before, during or afterward) about Paul Manafort handing Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data for Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan? Take PA, WI & MI out of Trump’s Electoral College totals and he loses. A lot of that polling data was weaponized by Russian military intelligence (Deripaska) and laser focused at Black Democratic voters via their Facebook pages where targeted ads reminded them daily that Hillary Clinton was a racist on the downlow. At some point in that timeline (before, during, afterwards), Mitch had to know about it yet Mitch, to this day, hasn’t called the FBI. Instead, Mitch refused to let America in on the secret and then – even when Obama punished Deripaska on his way out the door – Mitch rescinded the punishment.

Braidy Industries made a deal with Russian company Rusal to put an aluminum factory in western Kentucky. Can you smell the stink already? How much money got tossed around for real? $200 million? $400 million? How many poor Kentuckians would now have jobs thanks to Rusal and its money? Doesn’t matter. One of Rusal’s owners is Oleg Deripaska. Mitch got the sanctions on Deripaska lifted while knowing Deripaska helped make Donald Trump president.

That, by the way, is illegal.

Did Mitch have anything to do with the insurrection? I’m sure not! Mitch prefers to work quietly, like poison. He’s not the beat you over the head kinda guy (because, well – look at him!). But that’s not to say Mitch won’t take full advantage of the fellow traveler beside him who IS beating someone over the head. Quick thought experiment: IF the insurrection had succeeded – and IF somehow the election’s outcome HAD been thrown to the House, would Mitch McConnell have raced to the majority’s defense or would he have stood by and watched as democracy got beaten over the head and killed deader than dead?

Mitch knew even as they were rushing him out of harm’s way that the insurrection was both a problem and a possible solution. The problem was that it would make it a thousand times easier to expose the deepest part of the corruption, the treason part. The possible solution was that the insurrection was a separate crime unto itself, carried out by separate criminals (Trump-crazed citizen-zombies). Sure, sure – a few Congressional Republicans had a direct hand in planning the insurrection but they were Representatives. Crazies who threaten Mitch’s calm, cool corruption. Jim Jordan? What’s that sexual assault enabling ass to Mitch? Boebert? She’s amusing but entirely expendable.

Mitch’s bottom line: no one in his Senate caucus is threatened by an investigation into January 6… he hopes.

Did any of them see Mark Meadows’ power point presentation and then fail to call the FBI? That may seem like a small worry today, but Mitch still needs to make it part of his larger calculus. Mitch wants to escape a treason charge. Personally. If he says out loud that the investigation is “interesting” and “We’re all going to be watching it” and “what they’re seeking to find out is something the public needs to know”, then Mitch, for the moment, has no fear for himself. Whatever deep dark secrets the Commission learns, makes public and refers for criminal prosecution? Mitch can live with them.

He hopes like hell that the insurrection will be a fire wall against treason.

I wish I felt a hundred percent that Mitch’s fire wall will fail. The white power structure is still very much in place. Its whole way of thinking still dominates and one of its autonomics is self preservation. I would not be shocked if indeed the Department of Justice prosecuted the insurrection both inside and outside Congress but stopped at any inference that Russia, somehow, was involved too.

Take this to the bank: Russia had a hand in the insurrection. How could they not have? Consider it from their point of view. For five years you have worked to put an asset into the White House and then keep that asset there – betraying America out in the open to your absolute and total benefit. It’s to your advantage to squeeze every last bit of value out of your asset until the bitter end if there ever is one. You have compromised nearly everyone with an “R” next to their name. And then the idea for an armed insurrection pops up. If you’re Russia, do you back away and say “Guys, no – don’t go there!” or do you lean in even further and put your money where you think it will do the most “good”?

Russia had a hand in the insurrection. If they didn’t, they’re idiots. They ain’t idiots.

But they are Mitch McConnell’s nightmare – should HIS relationship with Mother Russia become common knowledge.

The Real “Big Lie” Is That Donald Trump Won In 2016

Fact: Donald Trump projects everything that he is and that he’s doing – especially if it’s scummy, corrupt, perverse or treasonous – onto others. The GOP has made Trump’s corruption its own. That was why it was so easy for Republicans like Marco Rubio to insist that there was no way they were going to allow the party of Reagan to be taken over “by a con artist., That’s what Rubio called Trump on Good Morning America on February 6, 2016. Republican talk is always bargain basement cheap. By Summer’s end, Marco was showing everyone how good he was at giving Trump head in public.

Another fact: the Republican Party knew before they nominated Trump that he was 1) owned by Vladimir Putin and 2) therefore a national security threat. On June 25, 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy entered a meeting of GOP leadership and said loud (it was recorded): “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” The correct response to such a statement should have been “Whaaaaaat? Kevin, are you kidding? Why would you say such a thing? More to the point, do you know something?”

That regular Americans have lost track of the entirety of Trump’s treasonous behavior is a testament to our news media’s inadequacy and incompetence. A hostile foreign government inserted itself into an American presidential election and literally altered its outcome. If they so much as altered one vote, that should be the end of the whole idea that Trump could ever have been or ever was POTUS. Never mind one vote not overcoming the 77,000 votes that Trump “won” between the three states that gave him his victory – Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. When Paul Manafort handed Konstantin Kilimnik the proprietary polling data that he passed on to Oleg Deripaska and Russian military intelligence (all so that Manafort could make-good on the $17 million he owed Deripaska), he committed treason.

That’s another fact.

While we “gave” Trump the victory in 2016, that doesn’t mean he “won” it. What kind of democracy has it that you can cheat to win election? A democracy with zero future. That’s what kind. Cheating is corruption. The moment you attempt to corrupt democracy, you’re committing a crime. Against our democracy. That we’ve been reluctant to prosecute such crime, that’s not a reflection on democracy, that’s a reflection us. More to the point, it’s been a reflection on the pasty old white men who’ve held onto power all this time in America. One cheats to win when one knows one’s ideas won’t get ‘er done.

Republicans know from experience: no one who isn’t already them wants to see America become the country Republicans want it to be. That would be Want to know why Mitch McConnell has already said that in election 2022, Republicans won’t be arguing for any particular policies – you know, like a political party that wants to govern? Because the only idea they’re selling is regression. To 1850.

Consider just how hard Donald Trump and the GOP have worked to obstruct justice and keep the truth about Trump and Russia or Trump and the pandemic or Trump and the January 6 insurrection from ever coming out. But, that front is failing. Already more than 300 witnesses have testified before the January 6 Committee. Most have spilled their guts because they can’t afford to play bullshit kabuki like Steve Bannon or Mark Meadows. On January 7, Trump must sit for a deposition compliments of NY’s AG Tish James. Fulton County, GA DA Fani Willis has already put her case against Trump’s attempt to skew Georgia’s election results his way before two separate Grand Juries.

Our hope, the cases against Trump achieve enough of a critical mass to make any possibility that the Republicans take back the House and Senate laughable.

It’s a big lie that Trump was ever legitimate POTUS. It’s a big lie that were he ever to be POTUS again, America would carry on as it is. That absolutely won’t happen. If Trump and/or the GOP “win”, America will lose and completely at that.

Is Waiting For Merrick Garland To Act Going To Be Like “Waiting For Godot”?

We seem to be experiencing what Yogi Berra called “deja vu all over again”. For five years now, Donald Trump has committed crimes out in the open. He’s been as overt a traitor as a traitor could be. What else would one call Trump’s relationship with Putin except treasonous? How much more obvious does it have to be? At a July 2016 news conference at his Doral property in Florida, Trump said: “Russia, if you’re listening — I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens.” Mere hours later, Russia responded — and made it happen. Keep in mind, this is the same Donald Trump that every GOP leader KNEW was compromised by Russia. On June 25, 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy entered a room in Washington, DC where the GOP leadership was meeting and said out loud (it was recorded): “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” No one in that room questioned Kevin. No one doubted him either. That Trump was compromised by Russia seems to have been general knowledge. Everyone in the room agreed with then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s plan to keep their terrible secret “in the family”.

This really has been about treason all along. The GOP was so determined to impose permanent minority rule upon America – no matter how they did it – that they were/are even willing to commit treason in order to do it. These are all or nothing stakes. Once you commit treason? There is no going back. How on earth can anyone trust these pirates ever again (not that we had any business trusting them in the first place)? We understood what it meant when Lil Jeff Sessions ran the DoJ — that it was going to do only what that racist elf wanted. When Bill Barr’s name first came up as Lil Jeff’s eventual replacement, the news media played their “he’s an institutionalist!” card, insisting that this meant the adults in the room were in control.

Alas, there are no adults in the Republican room. There are only miscreants and angry white men. Only racists, misogynists and bigots. Authoritarians, fascists and feckless fools — useful idiots all. As we all know, had Kyle Rittenhouse been Black instead of privileged white, he would never have walked away from the scene, having shot three people. Between the racist cops and the actual racists, a Black Kyle would have been raked with so much gunfire that they’d have had to use a bucket and mop to clean up what was left of him. The Rittenhouse verdict empowered the right wing yahoos to shoot first and then concoct their “I was defending myself” defense later. It undermines the legitimacy of a legitimate self defense defense. But then, no one’s ever accused anti-democratic racists of thinking big.

Merrick Garland has insisted all along that he intends to follow the rule of law. And, in his defense, we must acknowledge that the country is experiencing something extraordinary. White power has declared culture war on the rest of us because the idea of sharing power with us – especially if we represent the majority – is simply untenable. But, something else happened back in 2016 that we have not addressed yet. Our free and fair election got hijacked. In place of a free and fair election, we got Russia’s relentless, multi-faceted meddling. Don’t forget: Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort, handed Konstantin Kilimnik and Oleg Deripaska (two Russian intelligence officers and “Friends Of Putin”) the proprietary polling data for Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that Russian intelligence repurposed and redirected back at us. Some of that work went to convincing Black Democratic voters to stay home – suggesting that Hillary Clinton was a racist on the down low. If just ONE Democratic voter succumbed (it’s easy enough to find out — all we have to do is ask them), that’s illegal. Not “little illegal”, big, “GIANT illegal”.

It is flat out against the law to win an American election by colluding with Russia (or any foreign government). Do that – collude to win – and you did not win. Donald Trump colluded with Russia in multiple ways in order to win. Problem is, we refused to acknowledge that collusion even as he was doing it! “Hey, Russia! — if you’re listening!” is pretty direct. And when Russia literally responded in mere hours? There are myriad reasons why Republicans don’t want to dig too deeply. And when deep digging IS going on around them? Republicans do everything in their power either to neutralize that digging or to undermine its integrity or the public’s faith in its integrity.

Bill Barr flattened the Mueller Report — telling America it concluded one thing (there’s no “there” there) when, in fact, there was plenty of there there. Bill Barr oversaw the murder of Jeffrey Epstein (probably not for anyone else than his dear old dad) and the purposeful politicization of the DoJ. The Republicans deliberately slow walked Garland’s nomination — a way to buy time. For Republicans, the game now must rely on running out the clock to the 2022 mid terms. IF the GOP can (via gerrymandering and voter suppression) limit Democratic voting, they could indeed take back the House and Senate — killing all investigations dead while they finish gutting every bit of our democracy.

Is Merrick Garland dawdling? Is he hemming and hawing while the nation lurches toward authoritarianism? Is he being cavalier toward democracy? Is he giving the white guys way too much latitude simply because they’re white guys?

Or, is Merrick Garland getting every last bit of evidence he can before applying the rule of law to its biggest scofflaw ever: Donald J Trump? I still want to believe that Garland HAS set his sites on Trump (and the entire GOP) but that he knows he will get one shot here — and it needs to be the coup de grace and nothing but. If Garland’s DoJ does the right thing (applying the rule of law evenly as he’s sworn he would), he will set off a fire storm of angry, white backlash. It will definitely get ugly. But, the longer Garland and the DoJ wait to begin punishing insurrectionists, the harder it will be to punish them.

To not punish would be to invite the guilty to attempt another violent coup. That won’t be a matter of speculation, merely time and timing. We need that punishment to happen. That punishment is our “Godot”.

Samuel Becket was an amazing writer and his classic play “Waiting For Godot is deservedly a classic. Spoiler Alert! Godot never shows up. The two guys who spend the play “Waiting For Godot” will end the play still waiting. That’s the point. If the performance is good, by the very end of the play, the audience finds itself in the very same shoes as Gogo and Didi, the two main characters. Whatever relief may come from Godot’s finally arriving on site is negated by the fact that Godot never comes. Wait for him now and you’ll wait for him forever. It’s pure existentialism.

We’re still smarting from the fact that the Mueller Report flopped. It didn’t really; it only really flopped in the news media’s eyes because they can’t get out of their own damned way. When Bill Barr interpreted Mueller’s findings, the press were obligated to read the damned thing for themselves not buy Barr’s bullshit rehashing. But the news media accepted Barr’s take (why would he lie — even though he lied in the exact same way about Iran-Contra?) That’s because our news media ALWAYS accepts Republican explanations as legit even when clearly they’re not.

Yeah, it sucks watching Republicans continue to undermine our democratic institutions with impunity. It seems entirely counter-intuitive to do nothing. In “Waiting For Godot”, Didi and Gogo will be cursed to return again tomorrow to the same forlorn landscape (its one feature that leafless tree). It’s as if today never happened. And neither will tomorrow. We need our Godot – our Garland – to show up and show up ready for work. We need our Godot on stage right now.

Put Up V Shut Up

Finally – the Department of Justice has INDICTED STEVE BANNON!

Come Monday morning, it would have been two weeks since Steve Bannon thumbed his gin blossomed nose at the January 6 Committee and refused to honor their subpoena. The Committee referred the case to Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice — a luxury the Democrats didn’t have when Bill Barr ran the joint. Our collective expectation was for a kind of “justice on tap” — a thing we have not gotten (and never would have, I fear). Instead we’re having a kind of “deja vu all over again” moment reminiscent of the high hopes many of us felt when Robert Mueller was named Special Counsel. Though we pre-packaged him as a hero (and deservedly so — the man served valiantly in Vietnam, ran the FBI and stood atop a mountain of indestructible integrity. But the Mueller Report wasn’t the “put up or shut up” moment We The People both needed and craved. Bill Barr saw to that. He told us what he needed us to think the Report said — that it more or less exonerated Trump (it absolutely did not!) — and our “news media” happily went along with Barr. Fortunately, Barr no longer runs the DoJ. Fortunately — or unfortunately — Merrick Garland does now.

The Trump administration was a criminal enterprise from start to finish (actually, it hasn’t “finished” yet). The Republican Party knew a month before they nominated Trump to be POTUS that Putin owned him. They even discussed it amongst themselves but decided to keep that terrible secret a secret. That was a “put up or shut up” moment. The GOP leadership could have caught itself behaving treasonously and stopped. Surely, as they sheepishly looked around at each other on June 25, 2016, one of them must have thought “We better call the FBI!” But, no one did. Instead, per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s admonition, everyone in that room agreed to stay silent. “That’s how we know we’re family,” said Ryan.

Shut up, in this case, equaled treason.

It’s now five plus years later. Having not dealt with this overt act of treason, we continue to live in its lengthening shadow. Our news media — though they themselves reported this remarkable story — still fail to see what a staggering revelation it is! How much more smoke can pour from a gun? The one time the news media stuck a mic in Kevin’s treasonous face to ask what he meant, Kevin gave the pat Republican answer: “I was kidding”. Oh, is that the “Get Out Of Treason Jail Free” card now? Ignore my words (and the context in which I said them) because otherwise, I’m screwed? Every time Trump said something even Republicans couldn’t back, he’d haul out “I was joking!” Fun fact? Not everyone has a sense of humor. The first tell that you don’t have one is you can’t laugh at yourself. Bullies laugh plenty — but never, EVER at themselves. When they laugh, it’s always AT others, at their weaknesses and frailties. When someone without a sense of humor claims absolution because “kidding”? They’re not just humorless, they’re damned liars, too.

We sensed on election day that Trump’s victory wasn’t “right”. In his entire life, Trump has never done anything legally when doing it illegally was open to him. Why, ffs, would he start with the presidency? Is anyone truly shocked that, over his presidency, Trump lied north of 30,000 times? If anything, I’m shocked the number of lies isn’t significantly higher but then I have a lower tolerance for bullshit than our news media does.

We are slowly twisting in the purgatory between Justice and injustice. Injustice plays by no rules. It can do what it wants when it wants to whomever it wants. Justice — in the form of the rule of law — has no such luxury. Not if it’s to be “the rule of law”. Playing by the rules takes time. It demands rigor and and faithfulness to a higher principle over personal desires. Bill Barr did pretty much whatever Trump wanted Barr to do with the DoJ. Joe Biden won’t — can’t — do that. “Can’t” is Biden’s nature because he believes so ardently in our democracy and its organizing principles.

That means, regardless of all our public pressure — even if we think we want Biden to put his thumb on Merrick Garland — really, we don’t. Or do we?

Ah, there’ that painful, dynamic tension again.

This will end one way or the other. There isn’t any middle ground. Now that Garland has forced Bannon’s hand and a Grand Jury has indicted him, the floodgates will open. Bannon will probably think he can tough it out behind bars. He should give Paul Manafort a call to see how Paul enjoyed his 23 months of prison dinners. Sure, Paul got out way ahead of time courtesy of a Trump pardon (which needs to be re-examined as pardons may not be given for illegal activity and treason is definitely “illegal”), but Paul really had no choice in the matter. When you climb into bed with Russian mobsters — and Putin, Deripaska, Kilimnik and every other oligarch is a stone cold mobster — you have to live (or died) by their rules. If Paulie Polling Data had flipped and connected the Trump dot to the Russia dot for the FBI and DoJ? Even the best new identity and relocation wouldn’t save Manafort. Eventually, he knew, they’d find him. And when they did? Ouch.

Bannon never owed Deripaska (or any Russian mobster) $17 million. An uber-Christian in love with the exclusivity of its dogma, he’s never been beholden to Russia; he merely shares an orthodox vision of the “Holy Land” with its mob boss. For all the terrible things Bannon is, he’s not stupid. He knows exactly what he’s doing — and he knows it’s treasonous. That’s why he doesn’t want to be placed under oath. That’s why, even if he is eventually placed under oath, he’ll plead the fifth. That will be Bannon’s undoing.

The folks around Bannon (and beneath him), they don’t have Bannon’s certainty, his white guy’s swagger and braggadocio. But they will have a sense of vertigo when it hits them that they’ve set themselves up for the not just failure but prison. Congressional staff, recognizing that if they say nothing, they’ll be implicated in the bigger crime, won’t so much “spill their guts” as spew them.

So far, the insurrection has only sent the low level foot soldiers to jail. The next tier up are only just starting to realize how expensive it is defending yourself against federal charges. Not wanting to bankrupt their families for a generation, some of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are pleading out already. Flipping. And other voices are popping up — pointing out all the “planning” sessions at the Willard “war room” in the days before the insurrection. Some, no doubt, are explaining where the money came from — to pay for the hotel and the food and the travel to get to DC.

When the flipping starts in earnest, all the good “deals” will dry up quickly. Then the perps will start looking for the best deals they can get and those will start to suck almost immediately. This is an organized crime carried out by organized criminals who have a political end in mind: permanent minority rule. The criminals now include pretty much the entire Republican Party (minus Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger). It ain’t rocket science connecting the Steve Bannon dot to the insurrection dot to the criminal conduct dot. The fun part will be when we connect the Russia dot to the Insurrection dot.

Does anyone really believe that, having succeeded in digging its hooks into Trump, would Russia really let a perfectly good insurrection go to waste?

The insurrection will lead us to a lot of things — treason especially. Not just “generic” treason but treason committed alongside a foreign enemy actively engaged in cyber war against us. Steve Bannon now has a much bigger problem than just prison dinner on his hands.

But, At The Very, VERY End Of The Day? This Is STILL A Story About TREASON

We are living in the nightmare version of “the cover up being worse than the crime”. In fact, we’re so deep into the cover up that most Americans have probably forgotten that there even is an “original crime” — the thing that actually motivated every other crime Donald Trump and his Republican collaborators perpetrated. “The Big Lie” didn’t just fall from the sky on us, a “stroke of genius” to try and hold onto power. Why the hell would Trump “need” to hold onto power? That’s what this is about — a need, not a desire. Virtually the entire GOP has gone along with this also out of need. Yeah, yeah, the Republican base counts for something. But they’re “icing” on a giant cake; icing is icing but cake is cake And the cake here is treason. That’s why there’s “A Big Lie” — because “treason”. That’s why the Republicans have done everything in their power to shut down every single investigation into how exactly Donald Trump became president in 2016. Take Russia completely out of the Donald Trump equation and he never becomes POTUS, Hillary Clinton is into her second term today having survived four years of Mitch McConnell being corrupt as usual but, at least, without his having been a traitor, too.

The Republican Party leadership knew even before the GOP nominated Trump that Vladimir Putin owned him. Upon entering a meeting of GOP leaders on June 25, 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said out loud (it was recorded and the recording played later for Washington Post reporter Adam Entous), “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Mark that moment well and think about what happened in it. No one in the room expressed shock or surprise; instead, there was “nervous laughter”. That’s what motivated McCarthy’s “Swear to God!” He was serious and he wanted the room to take what he’d just asserted very seriously.

That is exactly what every Republican in that room did — they took what Kevin McCarthy said seriously. They knew it was a terrible secret for any American — let alone a presidential candidate — to have about them. That’s why they all went along with then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s insistence that they not discuss the matter outside that room. Because it was true. And because, one has to think, it was too late for anyone in the room to turn back now. “Putin pays Trump” — that was the secret they all agreed to “keep in the family”.

A year later (it took a year for that story to break), when journalists questioned McCarthy about it, he insisted he was “just kidding”. Soooooo, the whole room agreed to keep this “joke” a secret? If it wasn’t true, the room would have welcomed investigation because it would have turned up nothing. They knew that any investigation into Trump’s relationship with Putin and Russia would lead not only to charges of treason for Trump but charges of Treason for them, too. Every last one of them…

The GOP’s problem starts in that room with Kevin McCarthy speaking a Truth. Consider how hard the Republican run Congress tried to hide Trump’s relationship with Russia. But consider who Trump hired as campaign manager — Paul Manafort. Manafort owed $17 million to oligarch, Putin pal and “former” Russian military intelligence player Oleg Deripaska. Part of Manafort’s pitch was backstage, off the books access to Trump and access to information a hostile foreign government like Russia should NEVER have had access to: proprietary polling data on Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Manafort famously handed this data to Constantin Kilimnik, a go-between. He went to prison for it, remember? It’s against the law. In fact, every single contact the Trumps and their various hangers-on had with Russians was illegal. When Trump openly invited Russia to meddle in our election — “Russia, are ya listening?” — he was breaking the law. Just because we chose not to see it that way (or prosecute it), that’s not on the rule of law, that’s on us. That’s on white America continuing to cut itself extraordinary slack even when that slack is openly treasonous.

Consider Trump’s urgent need to undermine the Steele Dossier. Our news media — always light years behind this story’s curve — can only focus on the possibility of Trump and hookers — like that would matter to him. There’s so much more in the dossier (a collection of raw intel that has stood up almost completely) than a bit of sex play. There’s treason! Lots and lots and lots of treason!

Consider WHY there even is a “Steele Dossier” to begin with! Here’s the thumbnail version: in 2016, Marco Rubio backer The Washington Free Beacon hired a political research company called Fusion GPS (co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson) to do oppo research against Trump. Before getting into the nitty gritty though, Fusion did their “due diligence”; they got their hands on every piece of publicly available material about Donald Trump that they could — books, magazine and newspaper articles, radio and TV appearances — everything! What they found there in that publicly available material convinced them that Trump had used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. To answer those questions (by now, supporters of HRC were paying for the research), Fusion sub-contracted the work out to a British company called Orbis. Orbis was run by Christopher Steele, formerly head of MI6’s vaunted Russia desk and a source so reliable that the FBI used Steele to help them take down FIFA’s corrupt head Sepp Blatter. Steele had excellent sources inside Russia and those sources painted a picture of exactly what Kevin McCarthy had said was the case: Putin owned Trump.

Consider the effects of Kompromat. Consider Lindsey Graham’s strange flip from “electing Trump would be crazy and we’d deserve the fallout” to “Trump is a god”. Lindsey’s old friend John McCain seemed to know Lindsey himself was between a rock and a hard place. At the end of December, 2016 — with Trump’s presidency looming — Lindsey and John (and Amy Klobuchar) ran to Eastern Europe to try and reassure NATO that Trump wouldn’t be… what? Remember — the Republican Party KNEW before they nominated Trump that Russia owned him. What was this kabuki all about? A better question: if John McCain were to return from the dead, would his old pal Lindsey be able to look him in the eye?

Consider the Mueller Report and its shamefully narrow scope (the only thing under its purview was Trump’s relationship with Wikileaks, that’s it). Even so, Team Trump worked overtime to keep everything about their relationship with Wikileaks and secret. Strange, no? We’ve learned subsequently that corruption guided Rod Rosenstein to tell Team Mueller that the FBI was running a counter intelligence investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia (they weren’t) so “forget about it” while also telling the FBI that Team Mueller was working on the counter intel investigation so they should forget about it. Consider The Mueller Report’s actual conclusions: 1) we can’t say for sure if Team Trump committed a crime we could convict at trial because 2) they’ve been so utterly obstructive of justice about the whole thing.

Consider Bill Barr telling America the Mueller Report concluded something entirely different, something it, in fact, did not conclude. Consider what happened to Jeffrey Epstein while under Bill Barr’s care. Consider that even Bill Barr refused to go along with insurrection. Strange, isn’t it, that even a guy as corrupt as Bill Barr sees a line in the sand beyond which even he sees too much corruption.

Consider how much time, work and effort Russia put into not only making Trump POTUS but to using Trump as their weapon to bludgeon American democracy and America’s reputation around the world. Consider what makes one man look like another man’s bitch. Consider how Trump never crossed Putin ever. Consider how important it was for Putin either to keep Trump in the White House or get him back into it however he must. Consider it damned likely that Russia had a hand in the insurrection. Consider what that means if Russia (among other players) helped finance the Republican Party’s attempted coup d’etat.

Consider how America will have to react when we finally step back and allow ourselves to speak out loud the terrible truth: exactly as Kevin McCarthy said: Putin owns Trump.

What are we to do, once we actually begin to accept this terrible truth as Truth? For one thing, we absolutely can’t shrug our shoulders and say “it is how it is”. That would be us saying “Well, we know Russia beat our asses that one time…”. No — there can be no one time for any such thing to happen. Any country that fails or refuses to stand up for its sovereignty won’t be a country for much longer. We have now experienced a hostile foreign government putting a man they’ve compromised at the head of American power. That is treason.

Treason can’t be the basis for US law or law making. It can’t be the basis for our defense policy or our international relations. It can’t be the basis for our politics. Because it’s TREASON.

Mitch McConnell Can Count Votes Too — So Long As They’re Corrupt

As we lurch toward a Republican-forced government shut-down on Thursday night, the media keeps reminding us how good Nancy Pelosi is at counting votes. She won’t put a bill on the floor that doesn’t have the votes to pass. If Joe Biden’s agenda doesn’t have the votes today, Speaker Pelosi will work her magic — it’s agreed she’s one of the best, savviest Speakers of the House in American history — and make that vote happen tomorrow. Bet against her at your peril. The news media — believing that “both sides do it” — also give Mitch McConnell mucho cred for being a great politician because he can count votes. But, the way Mitch counts votes — and the votes he’s counting — is entirely different from the way Speaker Pelosi works. Speaker Pelosi can only appeal to her caucus’ hearts. Public servants serving the public have hearts, ya see. And Democrats, by their nature (and by their hearts) are wild and unruly. Democrat Will Rogers said of us almost a hundred years ago “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. By contrast to Speaker Pelosi, Mitch McConnell has a far, far easier time.

Mitch knows his caucus — to a man — doesn’t have a heart. Instead, they have greed. Greed runs everything in their personal and collective worlds. Their bottom line is enrichment and power. Getting richer than they already are and (since this is what it will require), holding onto political power forever in order to do it. For Mitch then, life is simple so long as it’s as corrupt as he is. You can always count on corruption to come through because you can always blackmail corrupt people into compliance. Try blackmailing an innocent person — it’s much, much harder.

We’ve seen — live — what happens when Mitch can count all his corrupt votes but can’t count on his un-corrupt ones. Remember this — the night Senator John McCain literally voted a thumbs down to Mitch’s attempt to kill the ACA?

I betcha Mitch still gets himself into a mighty treason-turtle snit every time he thinks of it. I bet — same token — an uncorrupted John McCain stood between Lindsey Graham’s anti-Trumpism and his remarkable flip into the Uber-Trumpism.

Can anyone name a higher purpose any Republican is fighting for other than power for power’s sake? Mitch McConnell certainly isn’t interested in serving the needs of most Americans since he’s only about servicing a teeny-tiny slice of really rich white men. Who are all Christians.

When he’s not servicing his Russian clients (Oleg Deripaska, for instance), Mitch is Charles Koch’s Bitch. Tasked with seizing the judiciary from any possible Democratic grasp — that was the point of denying Barrack Obama more than a hundred hearings for federal bench judgeships and, of course, Antonin Scalia’s seat. Our news media depicted Merrick Garland not getting a hearing as Mitch McConnell being a clever, skilled (Machiavellian) politician. No, actually that was Mitch McConnell putting himself between the point of electoral politics — the majority getting what they voted for — and Mitch and his cohorts getting what THEY want. Our news media — convinced that “both sides do it” — have it in their heads that anti-democratic behavior and acts is just some “political opinion” as opposed to what it is: an affront to democracy and to individual voters’ right to vote.

But, hey — so long as rich, Christian white guys are doing it? How can it be bad, right?

This is the corruption Mitch McConnell relies on. It’s his oxygen now same as it’s always been. Make no mistake: Mitch and corruption go way back.

Mitch has been a political hustler since grade school. Being naturally unlovable, Mitch saw political power — even at the public school level — as a way to make people love him. Or, at least not hate him because of who he was. And Mitch has deep issues with who he is. Mitch graduated with honors from the University of Louisville with a B.A. in poli sci in 1964. He was student body president. Three years later, he graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law where was president of the student bar association.

Mind you, Mitch isn’t doing this to make anywhere he is a better place for him being there. He’s doing it because he adores political power and he’s figuring out how to get it and keep it. But then, Mitch’s perfect glide path goes awry.

He enlists in March or July 1967. But by August, Mitch has been discharged (honorably) for an eye condition that was treatable in 1967 with steroids. In other words, that was no basis for discharging Mitch. Mitch has been extremely closed-mouthed about the whole thing and his military records are now inaccessible if not destroyed — which only ever means one thing: Mitch is guilty of something. I have no idea whether the following is true but my sense is that were it libelous versus true, DKos would have taken it down. They’re not in the bullshit business. According to a sourced story, there’s a possible explanation for Mitch’s sudden exit from the military — and it has nothing to do with any eye infections. According to the story, Mitch was caught engaged in an act of sodomy and agreed to go away rather than face (what would have been an embarrassing for all) trial. Having political connections — as Mitch did — surely stood up for Mitch — out of corruption not because anyone cared about LGBTQ rights.

Plenty of people helped Mitch rise politically. Not all of them were as corrupt as Mitch — and came to regret backing Mitch later. In the New Yorker, Jane Mayer describes how John David Dyche, a conservative columnist, Louisville lawyer and former Mitch supporter, went from being an active Mitch supporter now sees Mitch’s standing by Donald Trump as proof that Mitch has “no ideology except his own political power”. In other words: corruption. Mitch’s former supporter looked back at Mitch’s political career — especially the part where despite the fact that he despised Trump, he stood by Trump — as proof that Mitch was and is corrupt. Per Mayer, even Mitch’s three daughters can’t stomach their father and his corruption.

Mitch sees Charles Koch (formerly the Koch Brothers) as his lord and master. The Kochs are the most powerful money in American politics. Charles Koch still intends to twist our democracy into something more pleasing to him and his needs — being a purveyor of dirty power and a climate terrorist. Koch thinks his money (which he inherited) makes him smarter than me or you. And Charles Koch thinks rich, white. Christian men should lead and everyone else should follow. The Kochs may be crooks but they aren’t stupid crooks. Charles and David (now just Charles) spent their dirty money wisely — buying pretty much every Republican and just enough Democrats (Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona) to stop Americans from ever getting the government (and government services) they keep voting for.

The Kochs recognized that the only reliable branch of government aside from the Senate (designed, like the Electoral College to empower racism and racists over urbanites and diversity) was the judiciary — the lifetime federal bench in particular and the SCOTUS especially. Control the judiciary, the Kochs realized and one can control the country — perhaps even force it to rewrite laws pushing America toward progressivism. One could even — by jiggering the law just so — cancel Roe v Wade without even actually canceling it.

We don’t know how deeply Russia has its hooks into Mitch McConnell, all we know is that every time Mitch burps, it tastes of stale rubles. We need to explore this with Mitch under oath — Benghazi-style. He needs to explain his relationship with Oleg Deripaska (the man to whom Paul Manafort passed proprietary polling data covering Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, three of which flipped unexpectedly in election 2016, throwing the election to Trump). Deripaska is Russian military intelligence and we KNOW that Russian military intelligence was actively engaged in throwing the 2016 election to Russia. Deripaska was sanctioned by our government for doing that — sanctions that Mitch got lifted so that Deripaska could drop $300 million into an aluminum factory in impoverished western Kentucky. That’s swell for those dirt poor Kentuckians, but awful otherwise for the rest of the country and our democracy.

We need to understand above all why Mitch refused to let We The People in on the Republican Party’s dirty little secret: that Russia wanted Trump to be president and they were actively engaged in making that happen. In September 2016, when Obama called a Gang of Eight meeting (four Democratic Congressional leaders and four republican leaders) to discuss telling America what Russia was doing on Trump’s (and the GOP’s) behalf, Mitch got up on his little treason turtle hind legs and insisted that if Obama did such a thing — told America the truth about Russia and Donald Trump — that he’d accuse Obama of “politicizing the intelligence”. Obama, unfortunately, caved.

I bet that if Obama had that moment to do over? He’d tell Mitch McConnell to go eff himself. But, first, he’d tell Mitch what he thought of Mitch’s corruption. Then he’d call Mitch a traitor.

And, of course, he’d be right.

Here’s a prediction. Some day — soon, I bet — Mitch McConnell’s name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet Americans use when they want to call someone a “traitor”.

Donald Trump’s Entire Presidency Was A Crime Scene

In theory, in a democratic republic like ours, the authority to govern flows from the People. We The People elect other citizens to represent our interests in how we govern ourselves. People we don’t elect (the election’s losers) do NOT receive the authority to govern — or create laws or make alliances — or nominate judges for lifetime appointments to the federal bench (including the SCOTUS). For instance: Donald Trump lost election 2020 by more than seven million popular votes and he lost the Electoral College 306 to 232. That means we denied Trump the chance to continue what he was doing and, instead, voted our authority to govern us to Joe Biden. Trump refuses to accept the Will of The People. We’ll get to the why shortly. But, if we don’t understand WHERE the authority to govern comes from, we’ll miss the launching pad for Trump’s criminality: knowing he could never get the authority to govern freely and fairly, Trump (and the Republican Party) allied with Russia in order to “win” election in 2016. But for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS. That cannot be. We The People cannot tolerate such a thing. Our democratic republic certainly can’t.

Donald Trump’s has behaved like a criminal almost the entirety of his adult life. Whether he was sexually assaulting women, cheating to get into institutions of higher education where he had no business matriculating or just enjoying the criminal liberties we permit rich white men to get away with, Trump has operated outside the rule of law as a matter of habit. That he’s never been made to pay for any of his crimes, that’s on us. We’ve always had the power to punish Trump. We’ve refused to pull the trigger.

United States v. Fred C. Trump, Donald Trump, and Trump Management, Inc. alleged that the firm had committed systemic violations of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in their many complexes–39 buildings, between them containing over 14,000 apartments. The allegations included evidence from black and white “testers” who had sought to rent apartments; the white testers were told of vacancies; the black testers were not, or were steered to apartment complexes with a higher proportion of racial minorities. The complaint also alleged that Trump employees had placed codes next to housing applicant names to indicate if they were black.” The Trumps — for the record — were represented by Roy Cohn. Cohn, as we all know, preached a gospel of “Screw The Rule Of Law!” Whatever illegalities Fred Trump was guilty of, they paled in comparison to Donald’s.

Stone cold fact: Donald Trump sucks at literally everything except for being a grifter. Trump has always excelled at being a crook, a thief, a rapist, and a traitor. And the evidence of his criminality has always been there — in plain view — for anyone who wanted to shine a light on it and call it what it really was. Back in 2016, during the primary process, most of the Republican Party hated Trump. They even said so out loud. Guys like Lindsey Graham put it this way:

Got it? The GOP knew exactly who and what Trump was. They didn’t call him a criminal — that would have been a bridge too far and too honest. But they sure came close to calling Trump a criminal in public; just as well — they were openly discussing Trump’s criminality in private.

In June 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of the Republican leadership. This meeting was reported on a year afterward by the Washington Post — by a reporter (Adam Entous) who heard a recording of the meeting. Upon entering — the meeting was already in progress — McCarthy said: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump”. When that got a ripple of nervous laughter, McCarthy added — because the room needed to know he was serious about this accusation — “Swear to God!” Think about it! Kevin McCarthy insisted to the GOP leadership that their about-to-be presidential candidate was COMPROMISED by Russia — a country every person there KNEW was hostile toward us, toward our democracy and democratic traditions.

Why the nervous laughter? Why didn’t anyone instead respond “Whaaaaaat? Kevin, dude — are you sure about this?” No one said “Hey, if this is even remotely true, we need to call the FBI!” No one, in fact, questioned it. Or denied that it was a fact of life. Hmmmmmmmm… a bunch of people describe an act of treason but decide — as then Speaker of The House insisted — that they keep this terrible secret a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family,” Speaker Ryan said.

It turns out — as we’ll learn — that Trump wasn’t the only Republican who Russia compromised or owned outright. As Kevin McCarthy noted — Republican Congressman Dana Rohrbacher has ALWAYS been a Team Russia guy. But, Russian money had flowed to many Republicans (mostly via their PACS). Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s biggest donor was Sheldon Adelson, not Len Blavatnik — as FactCheck pointed out back in 2019. But is “biggest donor” really the measure of treason? FactCheck acknowledges that “…it’s true that a major contributor to a PAC associated with McConnell has business ties to an oligarch whose businesses recently have been released from sanctions…” but lets that go, in essence, because Blavatnik wasn’t McConnell’s biggest donor.

The problem is Blavatnik’s ties to ANY oligarch who’s been sanctioned or who in ANY way has ANY ties whatsoever to Putin or Russian military intelligence. Does anyone with half a brain really think former spy chief Vladimir Putin ever stopped being a spy chief? Spies remain spies all their lives so long as they keep any part of their spying secret. The brotherhood of Russian Spying has a long, illustrious and very successful history. They have recruited Westerners with consistent success — first as the Soviet Union and now as Greater Russia. The oligarch in question hers is Oleg Deripaska. FactCheck wants us to believe that despite his ties to a man we KNOW is an active Russian military intelligence player, Len Blavatnik’s money is 1) clean and 2) not enough to worry about since it’s not “the most”.

Any money that originated in Russia and ended up in any American politician’s campaign bank account arrived with strings attached. Take THAT to the bank and prepare to get rich.

If anyone in America’s news media had bothered to (or was interested in bothering to now), they’d have bumped into what Fusion GPS bumped into when they were first hired to do oppo research on Trump by the owners of the conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon. When he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017, Fusion’s co-founder Glenn Simpson described how Fusion, before they began their oppo work, got ahold of every piece of publicly available material about Trump that they could. Every book or newspaper article. Every magazine piece and radio or TV appearance. What they found in publicly available material — information anyone could find and build into their understanding of Trump — convinced them that Trump was likely a criminal who’d been laundering Russian mob money through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos. THAT is why Fusion sub-contracted the Russian research to a company called Orbis. Orbis was run by Christopher Steele who formerly ran the MI6’s vaunted Russia desk. No one outside Russia had better connections inside Russia.

Steele’s work product — The Steele Dossier — was a collection of raw intelligence gathered by an experienced hand. It goes without saying that our news media made an utter hash of it. But then, that’s what Russia wanted our media to do.

From the moment he became POTUS, Trump began to obstruct any investigation into how exactly he pulled of this “shocker”. The Mueller Report didn’t acquit Trump of anything. Quite the contrary! If not for Bill Barr’s deliberate obfuscation, our news media might have actually read the Mueller Report for itself and grasped that 1) Mueller’s purview was pared down to one basic question: did Team Trump conspire in any way with Wikileaks on the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton? The Report says it couldn’t really answer the question because of Team Trump’s relentlessly obstructive behavior. All indications were however that yes, Team Trump DID conspire.

It is flatly against the law to conspire with a foreign government to win an American election. It’s not a question of “degree” or “number of times”. It’s an absolute “yes” or “no” and Team Trump relentlessly worked with Russia or people allied with Russia both to “win” election 2016 and to keep that alliance a secret. That’s a broken law and a cover up. Two crimes now. And all Trump’s done is “win” election. The real criming started the instant Trump was sworn in; he violated his oath of office even as he took the oath of office.

Not only was Trump NOT upholding and defending the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, HE was one of the Constitution’s biggest domestic enemies ever.

Our “problem” alas isn’t Donald Trump’s criminality. If Trump’s criminal behavior was the exception, most of the rest of the GOP would have turned on him if only for survival’s sake. But, when the Republican Party shrugged off Trump’s treason and made him their standard bearer, they made treason part of their brand. The Republicans are afraid of Trump’s base — they’re nuts! But what really keeps them all in line is the terrible secret they agreed to keep way back in 2016: Donald Trump is a traitor.

See something, SAY something. See something, say nothing? We have to ask “why?” WHY say nothing in the face of overt criminality? WHY say nothing in the face of outright treason?

It ain’t rocket science or brain surgery. If you stand with racists, even if you don’t think you’re a racist, it means you ARE a racist. Same goes for traitors. The reason the Republican Party is now all in with Trump, his attempts to overturn election 2020 and the psychotic drive to impose permanent minority rule upon an angry, diverse majority is because the GOP is now Trump’s co-conspirator. His criminal co-conspirator. And — as every one of these Republicans knows — death remains a possible penalty for treason here in America. For context, Republicans aren’t bothered if America dies.

If indeed Trump’s victory was accomplished by cheating in ANY way, that’s a crime. Even if it’s minor. It’s a crime. If that crime involves a hostile foreign country? The minor incident is now treasonous.

And you know what they say about the cover up. It’s always worse than the crime. Considering as the crime here is treason?

We have to seriously re-think the entire Trump presidency and EVERYTHING it touched because Donald Trump NEVER had the authority that flows from a free & fair election. He never had the authority to sign legislation or tax cuts for the rich into law. HE never had the authority to nominate a cabinet or a single judge including SCOTUS judges. The authority to do all those things actually resided in Hillary Clinton — the election’s real winner.

“But we can’t change an election’s outcome!” No, we can’t change the past. But if the “outcome” of the election includes, say, JUDGES with lifetime appointments that were the whole POINT of the crime — to get those seats filled by conservative judges preferred by the conservative minority instead of by the more progressive MAJORITY who actually won the election and whose values should actually be reflected in the very judges the Republicans appointed instead.

If we go back to the very beginning of this crime, we find the right wing money facing a conundrum: a diversifying America slowly taking political power away from the white, Christian men who’d always held it. Instead of accepting that that’s how American democracy — American exceptionalism — works, the right wing money chose to put its money into denying the majority its will. They smartly went at power from the local level first — running for school boards and local offices Democrats looked past. This gives the appearance of a right wing lean when, really, it’s just good political organization. It’s NOT how the electorate actually thinks.

Here’s my bet: when Jan 6 Commission — with the Department of Justice’s backing — pierces the Congressional veil and connects the January 6 insurrection dot to the members of Congress and the Trump White House actively PLANNED the insurrection dot, there will be a radical shift in how we publicly think of the GOP, Donald Trump and what they’ve done. We’ll be well into criminal liability — planning an insurrection’s a crime, don’tcha know! — when we connect another essential dot: treason. Considering how active Russia was in putting Trump into the White House and keeping him there, it’d strain credulity to the breaking point to think Russia wasn’t deeply involved in the insurrection — either in its planning or financing.

If a hint of Russian involvement floats to the surface? We will have pierced that veil too.

Cyber War IS War And WE Have Been Under A Cyber War Attack For Five Years Now

It sucks to be the second person to discover that you’re in a fight. Better to be the first. Especially when the first has attacked the second unexpectedly. Ask the folks who lived at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on the morning of December 7, 1941. As far as they knew — as they slept in on a Sunday morning or peacefully started their day — America (having so far successfully navigated the rest of the world’s growing hostilities) wasn’t at war with anyone. The idea that a modern armada was coming, the tip of its deadly spear pointed directly at them, would have seemed absurd paranoia. And then the zeroes plunged from the clouds and rained death and destruction on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 U.S. personnel (including 68 civilians) and destroying or damaging 19 U.S. Navy ships, including 8 battleships. From the Japanese perspective? A state of war existed. From ours? It didn’t. Alas, our point of view became meaningless; the Japanese argument won. The next day, President Franklin Roosevelt told the country what the residents of Pearl Harbor, HI already knew: we were at war.

During World War II, if one country wanted to spy on another — or turn off its power supply — it had to do it practically. It would have to send actual humans into enemy territory, risking their lives against terrible odds. These days? A roomful of computer hackers can break into our power grid and put us in the dark unless we pay them ransom. The various Russian actors who’ve held our petroleum, meat processing, Information tech and transportation industries hostage may not “officially” be the Russian government, but that’s a nicety — “official”. Anyone operating a business larger than a borscht-n-perogy stand in Russia needs Vlad Putin’s approval. The smoking gun that Putin runs them is the fact that they exist.

Putin, let’s not forget, is a spy by profession. And a good one. He plays by intelligence agency rules where black and white really don’t exist. The end justifies all means including murder. Including mass murder. Think Putin doesn’t have a significant say in EVERYTHING that happens inside Syria? Putin has troops in Russia. He has air force bases. He has a naval base. The last one’s huge: Putin has a NAVAL BASE on the Mediterranean. Take that away? He’s still stuck in the Black Sea. Putin doesn’t think of Syria as “the country Syria”, he thinks of it as “Russia-South” with his pawn Assad minding the store. If Assad poisons or gasses his own people? It’s with Putin’s full and complete approval.

Putin famously drew up cyber war plans against us. We know who he is and we know what he wants. He’s a Russian nationalist who dreams of Greater Russia’s “glory days”. Though he was raised a “God-less Communist”, Putin’s connection to his Russian nationalism ran directly through a latent Russian Church Orthodoxy. As Steve Bannon can tell you, Putin is a religious man. That is, he believes in magic when it suits him (especially when it justifies or enables his criminality). He believes in Christian mythology just enough to see himself as a modern day crusader bent on re-taking the Holy Land from the infidels.

Anyone who thinks you need bombs and bullets flying in order for a real “state of war” to exist is going to lose every single war they ever fight going forward. While they wait to step onto a battlefield somewhere, the cyber warrior will have eaten their lunch, taken all their weapons and left them standing by a road side somewhere bare-assed naked. Building armies costs a bomb. Sic-ing a dozen computer nerds on another country’s power grid costs virtually nothing. If Russia were to do that? Shut off our power while threatening to keep it off indefinitely? We’d be forced to sue for peace — as the LOSERS — in a quick, cheap, nasty CYBER WAR.

If we think of Donald Trump as a Russian intelligence asset (you might as well — that’s what he is), then the mission he’s on has been staggeringly successful: easily the most successful intelligence mission ever in the whole history of the world. The biggest anti-democratic country managed to place its intelligence asset atop the biggest democratic country’s democracy with the express purpose of WRECKING it. Which that intelligence asset did with remarkable success! Trump repeatedly betrayed America’s interests out in the open — with Vladimir Putin visibly on the receiving end!

Trump has projected his guilt from the get-go. He’s told us he works for Putin with his words and demonstrated his fealty with his actions. Or lack of actions. Everyone knew Paul Manafort was dirty when Trump hired him to be his campaign manager in 2016. Those who really knew Manafort understood how craven he was: he owed Russian oligarch, Putin pal and Russian military intelligence agent Oleg Deripaska $17 – $20 million from a business deal that went sour. Manafort knew that he couldn’t outrun Deripaska forever and found a way to square things with his former client. Having manipulated his way into running Trump’s presidential campaign, he now had multiple ways to “pay back” what he owed Deripaska. Rather than money, Manafort offered something Deripaska could take to Putin and look like a hero: proprietary polling data from four blue states (Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania) that Russia’s military intelligence could turn into effective propaganda that they could focus with laser-like intensity on individual Democratic voters.

We don’t know whether or not Putin tried to do in Minnesota what he did in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, but in those three states, in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, Putin’s military intelligence turned the valuable information Manafort had provided (ILLEGALLY!) into weaponized Facebook ads that popped up on the Facebook pages of actual Black Democratic voters. The ads painted Hilary Clinton as a closet racist who didn’t deserve any Black Democrat’s vote. Don’t lose sight of this key fact: THIS IS ILLEGAL. This action violates a ton of US law. If these criminal efforts resulted in just ONE Black voter staying home? It’s a crime. It doesn’t take a “certain number” of voters to be impacted by voter suppression tactics launched by a hostile foreign government aided and abetted by Americans to “become a crime”. One does it. And, we know, there was way more than one.

Betcha we could find those Black voters today — and interview them under oath. Betcha we could convince them to walk into a court of law and state unequivocally that the end result of Paul Manafort handing Oleg Deripaska (via Konstantin Kilimnik) proprietary polling data was them staying home instead of exercising their right. If you’re trying to blame the voter here for staying home? You’re already playing for the enemy. Stop.

Before the Republican Party even nominated Trump to be their presidential candidate, the Republican Party KNEW for a fact that Russia owned him. They talked about it OUT LOUD at a meeting a month before their convention. As reported (a year after the fact) in the Washington Post, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of Republican leaders and said, “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in that roomful of GOP leaders reacted with surprise. No one said, “Whaaaaat? Kevin, dude — are you SURE about that? Jesus, what would make you say such a crazy thing?” We know this because the whole conversation WAS RECORDED and played for the Washington Post reporter.

Not only didn’t anyone wonder if it was true that Putin owned the man they were about to nominate to be their presidential candidate, no one thought to do anything about it. No one rushed from the room to call the FBI. No one slinked from the room later to do that either. Instead, everyone present — GOP leadership, don’t forget — agreed with then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan to keep this terrible secret to themselves. “That’s how we know we’re family,” Ryan said. “Family” as in “crime family”.

Even before that, Trump’s criminality and his vulnerability to being compromised by Vladimir Putin was a publicly available fact. Remember the Steele Dossier? Remember why a Steele Dossier even exists? During the 2016 primaries, the conservative Washington Free Beacon’s backers hired a company called Fusion GPS to do oppo research. Backing Marco Rubio, they wanted to get their hands on any information they could that would damage Trump. Nothing new about that in American politics. Fusion was started by two former Wall Street Journal reporters, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. On Tuesday August 22, 2017, Simpson testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee (then run by the Republicans who had the majority) that the first thing Fusion did upon being hired was their “due diligence”. Simpson was called to testify because the Republicans on the committee — at Trump’s behest — were doing everything in their power to undermine Fusion and the research they did.

As part of their due diligence, Simpson testified, Fusion got their hands on every piece of publicly available material about Donald Trump that they could. They got ahold of every book, magazine article or newspaper piece about Trump. They watched every video, listened to every radio broadcast. They went to physical book stores looking for it, and to the library even. They visited Amazon and every other web site that had anything whatsoever about Trump, his world, his businesses. What Fusion found, Simpson testified, gave them pause. There, in publicly available source material, was clear evidence that Donald Trump likely used his (now bankrupt) Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money.

Wanting to pursue that lead further — but not having the Russia chops themselves — Fusion hired the best person in the world to answer those questions for them: an English company called Orbis which was run by a former British spy named Christopher Steele. Steele’s bona fides in the intelligence world were rock solid. Not only did Steele work for MI6, Britain’s equivalent of our CIA (their MI5 is like our FBI), he ran its Russia desk because no one outside of Russia had better contacts inside Russia. When the FBI, a few years prior, had gone after corruption at FIFA, they hired Chris Steele. Though by the time Steele got hired the Free Beacon was no longer paying for Fusion’s work (the tab had been picked up by Hilary Clinton supporters), Steele had no idea whatsoever who he was really working for. He was, really, a former intelligence player suddenly made aware of the biggest intelligence event of his life — the ongoing attempt by Russia to seize control of America’s government.

Cyber war doesn’t look like bombs n bullets war. It looks more like a TV show. It’s no less deadly to a democracy. But for Russia, Trump would never have become POTUS. That’s a stone cold fact. It’s the very bottom line to this story. Russia made Trump president. He knows it. Every single Republican (on some level) knows it. The important part is they ACCEPTED IT. Even though (to be kind) they “suspected” Trump was owned by a long-time enemy, they went along with it because they could merge their desired end result — permanent minority rule — with Putin’s — an America diminished.

Does it really matter if Putin never fired a shot to achieve his war’s objectives?

This fact sits at the core of everything the Republican Party has done in the “Age Of Trump”. This has always been about treason. Oh, sure — all along the way, each Republican, as they fell in line, probably wasn’t thinking “Well, here I go committing treason!” They had power in mind. How they got their hands on power or kept power — those were mere details. The bottom line is treason, treason, TREASON.

Want to know why the Republicans won’t abandon Trump? They can’t — because of treason. Because they’re all traitors and they know it. Donald Trump (and, by association Vlad Putin) remind them of this fact every single day.

Conservatism And Corruption Have Always Been Fellow Travelers

No one ever seems to describe paradise as “just how things are, kid, sorry.” Perfection’s a high, high bar. We can accept the failure that occurs between aspiration and attempt, They gave it their best shot! It’s the failure that happens because of corruption that sticks in our craw. While the rest of us play by the rules — because there’s no other way to live successfully in a society — the corrupt always look for ways to cheat. And damned if their cheating and corruption don’t screw the pooch for everyone else. Corruption once it sets in begets cynicism. We can all feel corruption’s oily awfulness. We can smell it. Corruption’s knee jerk response when we go to eradicate it is to, like a cockroach caught on a kitchen counter when the light goes on, run for cover. Corruption wants to endure. That’s how conservatism works too.

Conservatism walks in the door with (what, to me,, is) a glaring problem: it wears its intentions on its sleeve and in its name. What does any conservative want? Why, he wants to conserve. Via legislation and judicial result, a conservative wants to conserve the status quo because right now contains as much of the future as any conservative wants and as much of the past as they can bear letting go of. What does any conservative long to conserve (considering as it’s impossible to conserve the future since it hasn’t happened)? They want to conserve the past, of course. The more conservative a conservative is, the more distant the past in their mind that they want to reproduce out here in reality. There are luddites who would happily take us all back to the stone age if they could.

Going back to Newt Gingrich, the Republican Party made compromising with Democrats a non-starter. Mitch McConnell has raised being a recalcitrant shit to a high art. Mitch also has raised being a traitor to a high art (as we will learn soon enough when Merrick Garland puts Mitch under oath and grills his Treason Turtle ass about his weird relationship with OLEG DERIPASKA. Mitch is the Poster Turtle for conservatism and corruption. He’s been working for the libertarian Koch Bros who’ve made no secret of their intent to use their money to reshape American politics to their liking — the majority be damned. The Kochs (now just Charles since David died in 2019) are white hegemonists. They believe absolutely that white people (of their social class) know best and that democracy is, at best, cute. The world the Kochs (like the Mercers and all the rest of the right wing money) aspire to enshrine in perpetuity isn’t some progressive paradigm; it’s the opposite of course: it’s a state of permanent minority rule where white men get to do all the real decision-making.

Conservatism lives by absolutes. How can it not? The world must be exactly how it must be. The reason conservatives can’t abide by any change is because change begets more change and once the process of change sets in motion — there’s no stopping it. Better, thinks conservatism, avoid change altogether. Moderate whatever gets through, strangle the rest in its infancy. Call it socialism.

We’re hearing and seeing more and more stories about cops being, shooting, murdering Black people. It’s not that it’s happening more, we’re suddenly woke about it — and realizing there’s evidence of it aplenty. Conservatism’s hold can be narcotizing. Hell, in America, conservatism has continued to nurture racism and bigotry. Think it’s a coincidence that the most racist Americans are also the most conservative? It’s all the same defensive posture, the same terror at losing its grip on power because of demographics.

That is what happened here. In the post Reagan years, conservatives realized their future was bleak because America was diversifying so rapidly. Republicans may talk about having a wide tent, they don’t. They can’t — because their core-most value is the perpetuation of white hegemony. Any non-white they do coax into the tent? They’re there to be used cynically. They’re the Clarence Thomases and the Herman Cains. The bright, self-starters whose drive to succeed was turned against them. Clarence Thomas and integrity have probably never met. And Herman Cain died of covid-19 because he foolishly believed in Donald Trump’s lies.

Republicanism is Trumpism and Trumpism is proudly racist. That, with conservatism, is the bottomest line there is. They may want to conserve values but those values are all white values as practiced by white people.

Conservatives know they’re in a minority position. They can’t sell their ideas successfully at the polls. Too few voters (especially if there are more of them) are buying. So — if you can’t win at the polls (in other words, win LEGITIMATELY) but you want to hold onto power — what’s a conservative to do? There’s only one answer: cheat.

Corruption becomes the only way to hold onto power — and thus corruption breeds more corruption. That sick feeling we all experienced election day 2016 when Trump improbably “won” the presidency? That was us reacting to what we KNEW in our gut was corrupt. The four long years of Trump’s presidency stank of corruption. Everything the Trumpanistas did or said or even thought was corrupt.

Over the course of American history, conservative corruption has brought us the Confederacy, the end of Reconstruction, the Teapot Dome affair (that brought down Warren Harding’s administration), the Great Depression, McCarthyism, The Vietnam War, Watergate, Iran-Contra and Trumpism. The biggest scandal you can throw at Democrats (or a Democrat) is Bill Clinton getting a hummer then lying about it.

Yeah… “both sides ‘do it’.”

The Republican Party, conservative to its core, has a corruption problem. AG Merrick Garland has just started to pull at the threads of the massive Republican Corruption Sweater left behind from the Trump years. The Republicans want to make that sweater a permanent part of our wardrobe. Merrick Garland will see to it that doesn’t happen. As he pulls at those threads — as he is now — the whole foul garment will fall apart in his hands. It will start with Matt Gaetz’s indictment which should drop any moment.