American Journalism Sucks Because Too Many Journalists Don’t Get How Mosaics (Or Connect-The-Dots) Work

Hmmm… I wonder what it is…?

After five years of Trumpism in our politics, America’s news media have finally acknowledged that Trumpism is a very real threat to our democracy. If you demanded specificity, most journalists would probably point to all the obvious instances of Republicans drafting anti-democratic legislation in nearly every state. They’d be right, of course. Most of those journalists are very clear about the terrible implications of what the GOP is doing and what those implications mean: the Republican Party is trying to discount every other vote except theirs. If they can’t outright STOP Black, brown, young or LGBTQ people from voting then they’ll simply refuse to COUNT those votes. Same end product: the Will Of The People to expand the democratic franchise as far as possible will be circumvented by an angry, racist, white minority who want to keep all political power for themselves. But then, after reporting this, most reporters, upon turning to the next story — the battle over the filibuster, for instance — will report it as if the previous story didn’t exist. So, in one moment, Republicans are destroying democracy while, in the next, Democrats are being asked why they won’t work with Republicans.

One of the most painful, frustrating experiences American journalism subjected their news audience to flows from the idea that, in American politics, “both sides do it”. This fallacious framing is pure cynicism. It ascribes the same motives to the Republican suppressing a Democrat’s vote as it does the Democrat whose vote has just been suppressed: they’re being “political”. Oy. That’s as stupid as ascribing the same motives to the car thief and the car thief’s victim who wants his car back. “You want your car back? What are you, some kind of car thief?” That’s the implied question. “Both sides do it” turns healthy skepticism — something every journalist must have in their arsenal — into unhealthy cynicism. Except our motives are all different. If Democrats thought and acted like Republicans, they’d BE Republicans.

The simple truth is, progressives and conservatives (never mind their political labels) are different creatures. We think differently. What’s most important to us is different. Conservatism wants to preserve the past for as long as possible because the past represents a kind of “Golden Age” in their minds. Progressives, on the other hand, want to fix what the past got wrong and make THAT our collective future. We will almost always favor people over profits. The commonweal is way more important to us than anyone person’s bank account. We understand that it takes a village to do literally anything — especially when it comes to money.

American journalism has gotten it into its head that, at all costs, it must be “neutral”. To a degree, they’re right. Journalism’s job is straightforward reporting of the facts with as little bias as possible so that the news audience can draw their own conclusions. But, as new information enters the environment, the environment must adapt and evolve. If new information says it’s raining outside, you may want to take an umbrella with you when you walk out the door. This morning’s weather forecast will be useless by this afternoon. But, American journalism — because they think “both sides do it” — has become obsessive over old weather forecasts — as if this morning’s forecast still applied to right now even though, clearly, the weather is entirely different.

American politics have always been ugly. We forget that because we have no sense of our own history; we’ve gotten it into our heads that, in the past, we were all “Kumbaya” despite our differences. We’ve never been that. Hell pro-slavery Southern Democrat Preston Brooks nearly beat abolitionist Republican Charles Sumner on May 22, 1856 to death on the Senate floor. Quick reminder: per Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party”, Lincoln’s Republican Party and the modern GOP are diametric opposites now of what they were then. Modern Republicans are Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) who always opposed racial justice in America. But, as bad as it has been in the past — up to and including attempted homicide — the introduction of Trumpism into our body politic (into Republicanism in particular) — ratcheted up every terrible impulse every Republican ever had.

Same goes for our journalists.

“Mexicans are rapists” should have been the end of Trump’s presidential bid as it would have been for literally any other candidate. “Pussy grabbing” should have iced the “Trump Will Never Be POTUS” cake. And yet, both those very real concerns for a presidential candidate were outdone by “But, her emails!”, a tempest in a teapot if ever there was one. “Mexicans are rapists” wasn’t just a single statement addressing a single issue (Trump’s appreciation for fellow rapists), it was an opening to a wider discussion because what Trump revealed was clear: HE’S A RACIST who, without even thinking about it, regularly says racist things.

But, let’s bore in on racism itself as an example of what I mean. Our news media thinks its an open question as to whether anyone is or isn’t a racist. They think it’s as easy as asking a racist if he’s racist. Except racism (like beauty, ironically) isn’t up to the subject, it’s up to everyone around the subject — the beholders either of the beautiful person’s beauty or the racist’s racism. And it’s not subject to a vote either. It only takes one racist victim to make a racist. If anyone feels anyone else is being racist toward THEM (no one gets to proxy here), then that’s the end of it. Mind you, this does assume we’re all being honest actors, so obviously I’m excluding any and all Republicans.

Our news media struggles with whether or not Donald Trump — with a whole freakin’ HISTORY of doing and saying racist things — is or isn’t a racist. That’s because they bore in on each instance of racism as if stood all by itself, unconnected to any other moment in Trump’s life. Trump’s niece Mary Trump did a wonderful job of contextualizing her uncle’s psychopathology. She doesn’t question whether or not her uncle’s racist because she’s heard him say racist things. Same goes for whether or not her uncle’s a scumbag.

If you looked only at a dot on a page, you might think that dot was everything — the whole universe. A professional, compulsive journalist would, understandably, make that dot the sole focus of her existence until she’d explained it. But, if that compulsive journalist can only see that one dot — even down to the microns of ink intertwining with the microns of paper fiber — while she may be giving us a new, profound understanding of one thing, she’s missing the boat on literally everything else in the whole universe. Or, can we say “missing the big picture”?

A tile is one thing, the mosaic it sits inside of is something else entirely. Donald Trump was the first president EVER to have been impeached — for election fraud no less — and then run in the very same election he was impeached for cheating in! But, during the election, very few journalists connected those dots for their news audience — even as Trump was actively cheating in the very same way. But then, Trump cheated to become POTUS in the first place. If not for Russia, Trump does not win in 2016. What about that piece of the mosaic?

Our news media continues to this day to scratch its head over the hold Trump has on the Republican Party. While, sure, there are Republicans who just plain adore Trump’s authoritarian bent (they’ve always hated the gamble that elections present), it’s not ideology connecting these pirates. It’s treason — pure and simple. Our news media should know this because THEY have reported it. In 2017, the Washington Post reported on a conversation that took place in 2016, a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their presidential candidate. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a room of Republican leaders a month before the convention and says out loud (it was recorded and the recording was played for the Post’s reporter) “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” For the record, no one in the room questioned McCarthy’s truthfulness. They all seemed to take it as a given that McCarthy was spot on — that Russia was paying Rohrbacher (among other Republicans) and Trump (the guy they were about to nominate to be POTUS). Their issue wasn’t THAT Trump was compromised, it was “how are we going to keep this terrible information a secret?”

That’s why, per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan, the Republican leadership agreed to keep the secret that their presidential nominee to be was a Russian intelligence asset “in the family”.

It shouldn’t be a question of “Is Trump a traitor” just like it shouldn’t be a question “Is Trump a racist?” Hell yes and hell yes!

The Big Picture shouldn’t be as hard to see as we make it. And connecting dots shouldn’t be the challenge it is either. For the record? The connect-the-dots picture up top? It’s a dinosaur.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear American News Media: America Needs YOU To Do Better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Except they didn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

And yet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But then, so’s his monstrous destructiveness.

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

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

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

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

As Donald Trump proved, no, ya can’t.

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

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

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

That’s a man suddenly facing his own mortality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s one answer to this: No.

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

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

In The Midst Of The Coronavirus Crisis, A Reminder: Donald Trump & The GOP Are STILL All TRAITORS

I’m old enough to remember how quickly our Main Stream News Media got over their jaw-on-the-floor outrage at Donald Trump’s “Mexicans are rapists” announcement (on Day One of his presidential campaign no less). Yes, they shrugged off Trump’s racism because “Pussy Grabbing” was now part of our political discussion, but by shrugging off one outrage to go be outraged by another, the press established a behavior pattern they haven’t changed since.

After three years of hopping blithely from one Trump-created crisis to another, the American press is now stuck on how poorly Trump is responding to a pandemic he did everything he humanly could to UNprepare us for. They keep waiting for Trump to “pivot” in some fashion. Then, it was toward being “presidential”. Now, it’s toward pulling the trigger on the Defense Production Act which would give Trump the power to order factories to produce the ventilators and masks we need right this second.

Trump won’t do it because Jared Kushner is whispering in his ears (America’s “captains of industry apparently whispering into his) that nationalizing industry would be bad for business — and piss off the captains of industry Trump’s relying on to get re-elected It always comes down to bullshit and self-service in Trump world. It always comes down to corruption.

Despite the fact that for a week now, Trump has gotten up in front of the American People in a time of crisis and lied to us, CNN, MSNBC & big chunks of the news media still insist on broadcasting Trump’s daily coronavirus updates as “news” instead of the “campaign rallies” they actually are. Even as their studio hosts (now broadcasting from their homes mostly) rage at the fusillade of lies, even as every expert with an ounce of actual expertise points at how insanely dangerous Trump is being, even as Trump accuses the reporters spaced around the WH Briefing Room of being liars and haters, the news networks STILL not only broadcast Trump’s lies live, they can’t seem to find it in themselves to stand up FOR EACH OTHER.

Why are they not either 1) demanding that Trump answer questions (and refuse to let him move on without answering) or 2) broadcasting these bullshit sessions on tape delay so that every bit of Trump’s misinformation, disinformation & outright bullshit can be fact checked BEFORE it goes out over the air. Apparently it’s a thing — once bullshit sets in peoples’ minds? It’s damned hard to root it out. That Trump’s approval ratings is up a few ticks reflects the press’s inability to report even the most blatant example of Trump’s inability to carry out his duties — never mind the eight thousand pound gorilla that’s drooling over everything: the fact that Trump is a traitor.

Our crisis has been made exponentially worse BECAUSE Donald Trump is POTUS — and the only reason Trump is POTUS is because Russia MADE him POTUS.

Russia was able to MAKE Trump POTUS because Russia had compromised nearly the entire Republican Party — (illegally) pouring money into their campaign coffers, creating Kompromat on them (think that doesn’t explain Lindsey Graham?) and who knows what else? Trump took a sledgehammer to our government (my bet) in large part at Putin’s instigation. It benefits Putin & only Putin every time America loses the ability to take care of itself and tend to its place in the world — as the counter balance to horrible actors like Vladimir Putin.

Just as Moscow Mitch McConnell hijacked the judicary, Bill Barr hijacked the Department of Justice. The point of the exercise — permanent minority rule.

America is sicker than ever — not just because of the coronavirus but because white power is trying to keep its hooks in us forever.

While compromising with these traitors will, unfortunately, be necessitated by the enormity of the crisis overwhelming us, we must remember: when the Rule Of Law becomes “a thing” again here in America, it will DEMAND that we turn our eye on these here times because illegal behavior of any kind must be prosecuted and, if found guilty, punished.

Trump’s coronavirus betrayals are just extensions of all his Russia betrayals. The bottom line will not change: we are living in war time — not just against the coronavirus — but against Russia. We’ve GOT to keep our eye on that ball despite getting hammered by a nasty pathogen.

Dear America: You Can Have Baby Talk Or You Can Have Truth; You Cannot Have Both

Donald Trump being president (footnote – illegitimate president) has put America’s Main Stream News Media in a pickle. How do you report the Truth when the Truth speaks dirty words?

I could almost get nostalgic for the days when each TV Talking Head had to decide how they were going to handle “pussy-grabbing”. The thought of saying those words — yes, it’s absurd that we’re even having the conversation — it’s uncomfortable because every bit of this is so many light years beyond normal’s zip code. Trump’s presidency has relentlessly assaulted truth, our sensibilities — the language even. Maybe the language especially.

We all know that, backstage, political people talk just like everyone else — except worse. We pretend in public life that they do nothing of the kind. If they did talk dirty backstage and cut secret deals, it’d mean they were all liars. As if we didn’t know already. That’s another environment where we willingly accept the baby talk version vs the adult version. That can’t possibly end well for us.

Confession: I’ve always had a taste for darkness. I love Diane Arbus photos. Weegee. When I was 16, I worked as an orderly during the summer at one of the hospitals where my surgeon father had privileges. My best friend Danny and I (his dad was an orthopedic surgeon and Danny likewise orderlied) liked to play a game. We’d swing by the pathology lab where one of us would open a specimen jar or silver tray filled with diseased organs or other excised body parts — and the other had to guess “What Is It?”

Danny won the whole summer when he opened a large tray filled with… lots of yellow fat, a shrivel of skin to one side and — I gave up, having no idea “what is it”. Danny pointed to something floating in the muck — it was where the nipple had sloughed off from the rest of the breast. So — two 16 year old breast-obsessed boys gaped in awe, disgust and amazement at a female breast seen, kinda, from the inside.

Maybe that cold, hard slap of reality did something to me. What I saw didn’t turn me off, but it definitely informed me. You could call breasts anything you wanted after that — to me, it was the contents of that silver tray — flesh and everything beneath it.

We’re not talking here about excessive use of certain words (because I accept advertising on my pages, I moderate my language here with the understanding that my blog’s title already limits me with some advertisers — irony, she is cruel, no?) We’re talking about something more fundamental: how people react to those words. And why.

If I said “Quick — put the image of a bowel movement into your head”, you would picture a turd. Now, just as quick — what’s that thing called? Regardless of what you call it, the object doesn’t change. It’s still the same image, the same object. If I went on American television, I could — on, say, a news show on CNN or MSNBC — call that object a bowel movement. I could call it a turd or “poop” even. I can use that baby talk word. I could string it together endlessly if I wanted to — “Poop-poop-poop-poop-poop-poop-POOP!” But — up until very recently — if I called it “shit”, I’d be thrown off the air possibly even for good.

Donald Trump has challenged our news media in a million different ways. To our collective detriment, they’ve only just started rising to the challenge. We have a president whose obscenity only begins with the words he uses while conducting the Peoples’ business. It’s absurd to worry if repeating the word “bullshit” will get you suspended, fired or worse while we, as a nation, hold brown-skinned children in concentration camps.

Our problem with “curse words” is a symptom of a tragic disease. We worry about blemishes when there’s rot underneath. Our worrying about the wrong thing — that’s the disease.

It reminds me of one night when I was in high school. Mid-70’s. There were three networks — ABC, CBS & NBC. On CBS, they were running the last night of a blockbuster TV event, the climax of Helter Skelter, the dramatization of the Manson Family murders and prosecution. NBC counter-programed a movie premier (back then, it was “an event” when big feature films premiered on television — which meant premiering on network TV): the movie version of Kurt Vonnegut’s anti-war masterpiece “Slaughterhouse Five”.

Being a kid, the Manson Family story was a dark blur. I didn’t know much about it — so didn’t watch the first two nights. Being a huge Kurt Vonnegut fan, I tuned in to watch “Slaughterhouse Five”. The book’s hero — Billy Pilgrim — is unstuck in time and floats freely between all the moments in his life — from birth to death (he’s murdered). Also included in these life moments — the time Billy spent while a specimen in a human zoo on the planet Tralfamadore. Billy shared an enclosure there with adult film star Montana Wildhack and together they have a baby.

Ya with me still? There are two important moments toward the end of the book. At the story’s climax, the Allies firebomb Dresden, Germany — a beautiful cathedral city with no strategic importance. At the ending, Billy watches a war movie where the firebombing happens in reverse — the fires go out as the bombs retreat back up into the bombers that dropped them.

Then Billy finds himself back on Tralfamadore — where he watches Montana Wildhack breastfeed their baby.

So — on Channel 2 (back then in Baltimore), CBS depicted the climactic scenes of the Manson Family’s evil. Being TV — American TV — in the 70’s, the murder and mayhem were handled tastefully. The point wasn’t titillation, it was truthful storytelling. It was still disturbing.

Meanwhile, on channel 4 (NBC back then in Baltimore), where hope for the future enters the story — the American audience never got to see Montana Wildhack breastfeed a baby because the censors at NBC cut it from the movie. Because breastfeeding a baby is obscene (cos it involves a naked breast).

I was probably 17 at the time but it made a real impression on me. I’m writing about it 40+ years later. NBC baby talked its audience that day.

It’s a very real relief to hear actual journalists use the words Donald Trump uses when they report on Trump. It makes it that much more jarring when a colleague resorts to baby talk instead of treating their audience like adults.

I’d like to make a deal with our Main Stream News Media. You treat us like the adults we are and we’ll treat you like journalists. Deal?

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

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

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

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

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

It’s impossible. You just can’t.

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

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

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

Can we even spell “integrity” anymore?