Dear American News Media: I’m Just Here To Help!

Dear American News Media:

I’ve had a change of heart about you and me and our relationship. After using this space to criticize you relentlessly, I’ve decided to “go positive” toward you instead. Pointing out your many flaws (like when you fawn over power instead of interrogating it or cynically insist that “both sides do it”) has gotten me nowhere with you. You still fawn over power when you should be skeptical of it (and that’s because you’ve mistaken cynicism for skepticism) same as you did during the George W. Bush presidency. It’s strange though how that cynicism gets applied the moment Democrats assume the mantle of power. But, there I go again, criticizing when I mean to be giving positive re-enforcement. I see now this is going to be a harder habit to break than I realized.

Most of my notes here apply to MSNBC because I spend so much more time with them than CNN. Actually, aside from Chuck Todd’s hour of over-rehearsed tics, random twitching and “I’m being thoughtful” eye rolling, I’m pretty exclusive to MSNBC where cable news is concerned. That’s not because I love most of their on air talent — I don’t. MSNBC has a few truly exceptional news broadcasters/communicators on their team. I have zero problem with advocate journalism so long as its open about its advocacy and consistent in its morality. Nicolle Wallace evolved into a super star whose past — as the basis for her crisis of conscience — gives her point of view gravitas. She is what a “Come To Jesus” moment looks like when given two hours of cable news five days a week.

Rachel Maddow’s integrity is rock solid. Stories that seem to meander suddenly cut to the bone when seemingly disparate dots connect and a real sense of “the bigger picture” flashes to the surface.

Ali Velshi is a rock. He’s gone from being the H-POD to being a beacon of logic and humanity. I don’t know how he keeps his (second) marriage together considering his work schedule. His family’s loss is our gain. Okay — I can be selfish that way.

I’m thrilled for Joy-Ann Reid (righteous indignation + receipts = what journalism should be) and all the talented people flowing from her “space”: Jonathan Capehart and Tiffany Cross both bring intelligence, cultural insight, wit and grace to their time slots, MSNBC and American journalism as a whole.

Lawrence O’Donnell puts a great bow on most days. My only note is one I’m not sure he could do anything about. I agree with most of what Lawrence says. But then, I’m the choir. Something in me always feels like that’s who Lawrence is preaching to — people as sensible as he is. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that but it does feel like a loop. Whereas Joy-Ann Reid can persuade with her passion, Lawrence reinforces with his warm reasonableness.

Chris Hayes epitomizes both advocate journalism’s strengths and its weaknesses. Hey — bring receipts like Chris does and you can flail away. But, sometimes that flailing feels like, well, flailing. The problem though is less Chris than the entire news industry’s aversion to including ALL possible explanations for Donald Trump’s presence in American politics and his behavior.

Ari Melber has the potential to be better than he is. He seems especially resistant to drawing conclusions and connecting dots minus ironclad evidence or a literal smoking gun. He sees the legal angles clearly but, at the moment of truth, when he could step forward and boldly connect the important dots, he gets lawyerly cold feet.

For the year and change of Trump’s candidacy (he declared on June 17, 2015), the four years of his presidency and the (almost a) year since he lost re-election, our news media has framed Trump as legitimate candidate, president and former-president. He’s been none of those things — from legitimacy’s point of view. Our news media however, having succumbed to access journalism’s lure during George W. Bush’s presidency, can’t bring themselves to call anyone what they are. Hell, our news media still regularly bleeps foul language from the news because they think 1) their audience “can’t handle the truth” and 2) language isn’t part of the news. Though “journalists”, they feel how a person expresses themselves — with all the significance their word choices imply — is less important if that expression might offend certain people. That’s not journalism, it’s misguided nannying.

To blunt language is to blunt news’ impact. It’s sugar-coating at a time when the more truth we get — all bitterness included — the better!

When our news media “pussy-footed” around “pussy-grabbing”, they deep-sixed the truth in favor of “being sensitive” — but to whom? Every woman in America deserved to know exactly how Donald Trump thinks about women. If that view of women includes his thinking he can do whatever he wants to whatever woman he wants — that’s material. Look, just because someone has a point of view (and we all have points of view), that doesn’t mean their point of view has a point. A rapist (like Trump) has a point of view as he commits rape (“I’m raping because I want to and can!) but that doesn’t mean his point of view is valid where fairness and the rule of law are concerned. Mexicans aren’t rapists as a culture. Trump’s candidacy should have ended the day it started because he said that.

The fact that Trump did say it — and his candidacy didn’t end — that’s not on the Democrats, it had zero to do with them. It’s not on the Republicans either because the rest of the Republican field would have been just as happy if Trump and his campaign had imploded that day. It’s hard to say how many Republican contenders knew yet (as the Washington Post reported in 2017) that “there’s two people Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump”. The GOP still hadn’t embraced Trump the way they would eventually. Only the news media really “saw something” in Trump.

A cash cow.

I didn’t start out a news junkie; I’m just a humble storyteller and an occasionally successful screenwriter and film/TV producer. Something about Trump’s candidacy triggered my “Spidey-senses”. My storytelling senses, too. What stuck in my craw from the get-go was a growing perception that the news story I was living through was not the news story our news media was reporting. I started to think of it like icing and cake. The news media were all about the story’s icing when, really, they needed to be looking much more deeply at the cake. Take Trump’s relationship with Vlad Putin. To this day, our news media will scratch divots into their heads pondering why Trump is soooooo beta to Putin’s alpha.

Someone should write a saying about how pictures speak a thousand words — and then hand it to our news media. “Both sides do it” journalism however gives every piece of information equal weight — and they refuse to “judge” information or the people supplying it. That’s how liars spewing lies about climate science can be the same as climate scientists presenting conclusive data. Before being shamed into cutting the shit, our news media regularly presented climate science and climate denial as if both points of view had equal merit. Even if they didn’t mean to do that, our news media presented both points of view on screen as a fifty-fifty proposition. That’s what it says visually when two people argue, both with 50% of the screen — both points of view could be true.

This still happens every time our news media presents a Democrat’s point of view and then — for balance — a Republican’s. If the Democrat says “we need to these programs to help these people and we calculate it will cost this much, the Republican replying “That costs too much” isn’t an actual reply to the question. The people the Democrats are trying to help still need that help. That’s empirically true regardless. If it will cost x dollars to help them then the proper framing is “We need this amount of money to help this amount of Americans accomplish equity — a thing we know America needs to deal with”. “Costs too much” means “I’m choosing NOT to help all the people who need help”. The question is “why?” Where should that money go instead?

Our news media loves a horse race because races are easy to call. You just sit there and watch the horses run. But, America’s in a very strange place right now. There are horse races being run — and our news media is reporting on them (the “Will Joe Biden get his agenda passed by Congress” story is nothing but a horse race in our news media’s hands). But these races are happening while the race track is burning down around us. And the Republican Party set the fire.

I know for a fact that I’m not the only member of the cable news audience baffled by cable news’ inability to aggregate the story we’re all living through. Example: the news media itself kept track of the number of lies they believe Trump told in public. 30, 573 was the “official” tab according to the Washington Post on January 24, 2021. Those were lies told while Trump was POTUS. The WaPo, as far as I know, stopped keeping track; we have no idea how many lies Trump has lied while being former-POTUS. Whatever that number is, it’s a record. Yet, few in the news media framed Trump as a liar first — though, considering the amount of lying and Trump’s willingness to lie about everything no matter how small and demonstrably false — that, too, is baffling. You’d think that, after even just 10 percent of those lies — thirty-five hundred or so — you’d stop assuming Trump was ever telling the truth since there’s clearly no evidence of it while there’s ample and growing evidence that he lies.

Our news media still publishes Trump’s lies without framing them as such even while knowing that that’s what they are. Oh, sure — they do tell us they’re lies — but, if we see it from Trump’s point of view (knowing he’s lying), the point of the exercise isn’t to prove you’re not lying, it’s to blanket the world with the lie so as to turn the lie into “the truth”. Even when acknowledging Trump’s dishonesty, our news media continues to work to his dishonesty’s advantage.

Geez! I wanted to be positive here and, instead, I’ve criticized again. Did I mention yet what a hard habit this is to break?

Here — I’ll try to be positive. Kelly O’Donnell is someone I’ve been unkind toward in the past. And she epitomizes exactly what I’m talking about. Kelly (can I call you that?), I want to make amends because — hey, we’re both in show biz, right? The news biz IS show biz and the same principles that make my storytelling work also make yours work.

I mean this from the bottom of my heart (for what that’s worth): I want to help YOU, Kelly O, be the best storyteller you can be! Here’s a clip of Kelly O from August 17, 2017 after a terrorist attack in Barcelona. It’s early in the Trump presidency; his lying as POTUS is still newish (compared to his lying as candidate). But — context — Sean Spicer didn’t get up in front of the White House Press Corps and lie about the size of Trump’s crowd size for his health or because he really wanted to. Journalists like Kelly O’ had personally witnessed not just that Trump lied but that he lied about stupid things. And,, remember, this is well after “Mexicans are rapists” (a lie) and “pussy-grabbing” (another lie — his denial).

A storyteller adding information builds a platform from which to base the next part of the story. The goal is to tell the whole story, of course, by connecting dots as they become reasonably connectable. Once you’ve established that a person is a liar (inside your own head), how can you tell that person’s story as if they aren’t a liar? The fact is they could be and an honest telling of their story starts there — not after you’ve presented the lie. Context IS everything.

https://www.msnbc.com/deadline-white-house/watch/o-donnell-appears-it-is-incorrect-information-being-tweeted-by-trump-1027064387879

At the 1:07 mark, Kelly O’ reads a tweet Trump put out.

She then qualifies the tweet: “Especially in that last sentence,” says Kelly O, “That seems to be the voice of the president more than a staffer on his behalf”. “That seems to be” is Kelly O’ inserting herself into the story — putting herself into Donald Trump’s head because, I guess, she has such insight into how Trump thinks. Though Trump to that point had showed zero capacity for empathy, Kelly O’ makes him empathetic regardless as if he must be empathetic just because he’s POTUS and Kelly O’s reporting on him. But Kelly O senses there’s more to it. Good for her!

“But, then a curious follow up tweet,” Kelly O’ continues, “…where the President says” (and she reads the tweet) —

Kelly O reminds the audience that this echoes a story Trump told on the campaign trail (a place where he lied repeatedly of course and said outrageous, offensive things) even though, as president, Trump had access to copious information that proved the story wrong. Historians have found no basis in fact for this, Kelly O says, spinning a blatant lie into “it appears this is incorrect information being tweeted by the President at this time”.

Think about the difference between these two presentations of the same thing — a lie. One presents the lie as a lie. The other is Kelly O’ dancing around until the word “lie” can’t really be discerned anymore. No one lies by accident. They’re deliberate by definition and Trump deliberately lies as readily as he breathes. Yet Kelly O editorialized a Trumpian lie down into something Trump could have done accidentally. That’s really dishonest. And, when you consider what Trump did subsequently?

That makes Kelly O an enabler.

Ah, hell — I did it again! I’m so sorry, Kelly O — I really didn’t mean to criticize. You’re a nice person — anyone can get that just from watching you. From everything I’ve read, your colleagues like you. From your industry’s point of view, you’re at the top of your game. That doesn’t mean you’re AT the top of your game. Or maybe it does and the thing we’re comparing it to — the news industry’s game — has a “top” most industries wouldn’t brag about. What it means is that from mediocrity’s point of view, you fit right in.

You are tasked with covering the biggest, most compelling, most consequential story of our collective lifetimes. Our democracy’s survival hinges on you getting your job right. So far, you’ve let us and democracy down hard. But the game ain’t over yet! Hell, MSNBC itself has news assets that both see and perfectly articulate what’s happening to us. For my money, Jason Johnson and Elie Mystal are both Jeremiah’s we should be listening to religiously.

In my dreams, a day will come when I can step back from being a news junkie. Fascinating as it is, it’s exhausting. But, I know this: if the day comes when I can stop obsessing on the news, it will be because Progressives (the only adults in the room now) have finally cleared out all the dead wood — the stale, regressive, repressiveness of our racist right wing. When the day comes that we’re no longer under threat, I will relax. Finally.

I’ll miss a few of my regulars when that day comes: Nicolle and Rachel especially. But, as for the rest of you? I’ll assume you’ve gone off to greener pastures — and jobs you might actually be good at.

The Reason All Republican Arguments Sound Like Bullsh*t Is Because That’s What They Are

No one ever does anything “just because”. Trust me on this. It’s something storytellers know about human nature because we have to draw on human nature to create believable characters that ring true both inside and out. What’s worse than a character you’ve come to love who suddenly acts “out of character” — not because their author has crafted some ingenious (if convoluted) storyline for them, but because their author has flat out betrayed them. Or, more accurately, the author has betrayed how the rest of us understand human nature. Someone behaving badly may not be able to articulate their motivation, but, even if it’s because their brain chemistry’s funky, they’re doing it for a reason. Our news media quickly made the decision that Donald Trump did what he did and said what he said because “that’s how he is”. In other words, Trump behaved/behaves like he does “just because”.

That was the news media’s explanation for Trump having his head so firmly stuck up Vladimir Putin’s ass: “it’s just how Trump ‘is’.” That was why Trump said “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing is okay!” — because that’s how he is. Ummmm, no, actually. Trump said “Mexicans are rapists” because he’s a racist and he bragged about “pussy grabbing” because he’s a misogynist pig and (like his imaginary Mexicans) a rapist. But, our news media didn’t really care about that because “but — her emails” apparently was more “newsworthy” to them.

To this day, our news media won’t call Donald Trump a racist. Well, a few of them will but most wouldn’t dare. They think it’s logical to ask a racist if they’re a racist — as if the racist had the least bit of perspective with which to answer such a question. Racism — like beauty — is in the eye of the beholder, not the object itself. Want to know if someone’s racist or not? Ask their victims. As the people who could have been subjected to the racist’s racism. They’ll know. They’ll happily tell you who is and who isn’t racist.

But, if you’re willing to let a racist tell you he’s not racist, you’re already willing to give bullshit credence. And every Republican knows it. All they have to ever do to make the American news media compliant is to draw them into that vast Republican Rabbit Hole where truth and patriotism and human decency all go to die. And our news media happily leaps right in. Suddenly, rabbit hole logic takes over. Up is down and down is up and both are sideways. It really doesn’t matter what the rule of law actually says since the Republican imperative is to violate its spirit regardless. And news events — even damning ones! — they lose all context. Acts of stone cold treason become minor details in forgotten stories.

For example — in June 2016 (the Washington Post reported in 2017 when their reporter heard a recording of the meeting), current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of GOP leaders — their nominating convention a month away — and said: “There are two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” It was the nervous laughter in the room that made McCarthy add “Swear to God!” Why was there nervous laughter and not outrage — that such a thing was even remotely possible? Because everyone in the room knew 1) it WAS possible and 2) it was a fact. In fact, it was such a fact that then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan made everyone in the room promise to keep this piece of information (not speculation apparently) a secret.

As Paul Ryan himself put it: “That’s how we know we’re family”.

When, a year later, one intrepid reporter — having read the story in the Washington Post — asked McCarthy about his comment, McCarthy replied that he’d been “joking”. Quick side note: people with no sense of humor (people who can’t laugh at themselves) cannot make jokes. That is, they can’t make jokes that aren’t at someone else’s expense. Kevin McCarthy was not joking when he said he thought Putin pays Trump. That response was flat out bullshit. It was a lie — but, per usual, the “journalist” let it go — because that’s how bullshit and lies get normalized into the kind of toxic propaganda our news media can’t discern from news stories.

But, telling truth from bullshit isn’t really that hard. It’s no harder than separating feelings from facts.

When someone who’s based their point of view on facts gets challenged, they lay their facts on the table. Emotions may validate but they don’t elucidate. If anything, emotions cloud our thinking. That’s why our news media can only see the tragedy unfolding in front of us in Afghanistan. It IS a tragedy. But if you want to report it truthfully, you have to report the whole story — how we got to the tragedy part and not just the tragedy part. Joe Biden didn’t enter his presidency in a normal fashion because his predecessor 1) is still trying to hold onto power, 2) pre-surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban before Biden even was sworn in, 3) denied Team Biden any sort of transition so that they could see this fiasco coming at them, and 4) are all stone cold traitors to begin with. To report this story as “And then Joe Biden screwed it all up!” is insulting not just to Joe Biden but to America and Afghanistan, too.

The truth is, we set Afghanistan up for failure when we walked in the door. We set the hook firmly when we changed our mission from “Get bin Laden” to “Turn Afghanistan into the democratic picture book American could never be”. Joe Biden did not suddenly change his mind about nation building in Afghanistan, he’s ALWAYS opposed the idea. It sucks being the only adult in a room filled with juveniles and their enablers but that’s Biden’s situation vis a vis both Republicans and the news media. From our news media’s point of view however, all those juveniles and their enablers have integrity equal to Joe Biden’s. Their feeling, in other words, have the same weight as Joe Biden’s facts.

No good can come of this.

Want to know why every Republican explanation for even the simplest things sounds like utter bullshit being invented right on the spot? That’s because it’s utter bullshit — being invented right on the spot.

A great day of reckoning awaits the entire Republican Party — at least it better. If America, Americans, the rule of law and the Constitution don’t punish every single Republican who in any way co-conspired to end the greatest experiment in human self government ever then that experiment will absolutely end. Bullshit will win the day.

When that happens, we can prepare for the worst because the worst will happen. Bullshit will finally have superseded truth as our baseline common experience. Betcha Republicans are already drooling at the thought.

The GOP Is A Party Of Bullies

Bullies: A ‘Class’ Photo

Bullies and bullying are a universal evil.  If bullying ended at the schoolyard gate, that would be bad enough but, as we all know, bullying doesn’t stop there.  The whole schoolyard follows us through life — with bullies getting to be bullies forever like Hook-ified versions of Peter Pan.  Donald Trump is the worst kind of schoolyard bully.  He’s the kind who never gets his well manicured, teeny-tiny hands dirty.  He gets other people to get THEIR hands dirty on Donald’s behalf.    That’s why, even though they despised Trump as he tore through their primary in 2016, the Republicans, deep down, not only admired Trump, they aspired to be him.  Not just a bully, an uber-bully.  And, let’s not forget, when the Republicans made Trump their nominee in 2016, they did it KNOWING that Trump was owned outright by ANOTHER mega-bully, Vladimir PutinCurrent GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said so out loud a month before the nominating convention to a roomful of the Republican leadership.

Let’s stay in that room a few moments longer.  A person the whole room TRUSTS has just entered and announced that he suspects their presidential nominee is OWNED by the head of state of a hostile foreign government.  That really happened.  Yet no one IN that room seemed surprised — or overly bothered by its sheer illegality.  Or — worse yet — by the implications of nominating a person to the presidency who could be EVEN REMOTELY compromised by, of all countries, RUSSIA!  Let’s assume (for argument’s sake) that everyone in the room understood just HOW illegal this would be.  We’re talking treason.  Stone cold treason.  And yet, STILL, no one in the room objected to the direction they were all heading: toward nominating a foreign intelligence asset to be president.  What could possibly cause people to go there?  This isn’t just some cold political calculation, this is crawling into bed and snuggling up with a country we’ve been at war with (one way or another) for 100 years — ever since the Communists took control and turned Old Russia into the Soviet Union.

People who like authoritarians also like bullies.  They have no use for democracy because democracy is entirely unpredictable while authoritarianism isn’t.  They prefer leadership that tells rather than asks its constituency what’s going to happen.  They prefer it that politicians pick their electorate rather than the other — proper — way around.  Conservatism, by its nature, fosters bullying.  Most of us exist in a world that, while aspiring to equality and equity and all those good things, fails considerably.  We maintain those aspirations however; we demand them now.  We won’t rest until the playing field is certifiably level.  Conservatism on the other hand relies on the playing field remaining exactly as it is.  THAT is what conservatism wants to conserve — the status quo — and the status quo favors white people over everyone else.

Bullies then are the status quo’s “enforcers”.  While the rest of us recoil whenever we hear bullying, bullies hear a clarion call to bully more.  If people are complaining about being bullied, that can only mean a bully is succeeding somewhere at his objective.  By the same token, you really can’t bully people into progress.  It’s too vague a target.  Its goal is too antithetical to bullying; if you had to bully to get there, you can’t get there!

It’s like “cheating to win”.  If you cheat to win, then by the rules, you did not “win”.  How can one “win” without following the rules?  This is an argument America needs to have with itself if it wants to remain a democratic republic.  Either the rule of law is or it isn’t.  We’ve experimented with following it half-way and we very nearly went under.  We’re still in treacherous waters.  Cheating cannot be just another “campaign tactic” that campaigns run when their ideas aren’t selling.  The moment anyone steps outside the rules in order to win, both they and their “win” (if they succeeded in cheating) must be voided.  The cheater’s win is wiped off the books, the cheater gets prosecuted and everyone who helped the cheater cheat gets punished as well and — like the cheater — banned from ever participating in an American election ever again (except as a voter so long as they’re not actively doing time).  

But, our news media — always happy to oblige bullshit and give it maximum credence — insists that cheating to win IS just “another way to ‘win’ election” in America. 

This simply cannot be.  It’s a lie no country can live and survive — like saying “All men are created equal” out of one side of your mouth while bidding on slaves out the other side.  Holding two contrary thoughts in your head is one thing.  Having a country that tries to live them is, we keep learning, a recipe for disaster.  It leads to Civil War.  It leads to a country that STILL nurtures white supremacy even as it demonstrates the remarkable advantages and benefits of e pluribus unum.  America’s exceptionalism — and it really does exist — is its diversity.  Nowhere before among humans had a country formed (countries being relatively novel things) that, rather than being made up of one extensive national tribe was made up of ALL the various national tribes, all trying to make a go of it TOGETHER, not in their home countries but there — IN AMERICA. E pluribus unum — out of many, ONE.

In order to succeed as part of the many, one must be open-minded to who the “many” are and what each group’s particular habits are.  This is not an exact science.  There is no “book” on how to do it, we ARE the book.  We’re writing it in real time.  Because that’s how reality works. 

Bullies don’t care for reality.  Outside the schoolyard, justice lurks.  The really talented bullies bring the schoolyard with them wherever they go.  By sucking others into their schoolyard, they expand their schoolyard and thus their environment for bullying.  To his credit, Trump has a remarkable ability to expand his schoolyard.  Also to his credit, being a lesser bully, he recognizes that Vlad Putin is a class of bully he will never be.  Ah, but a bully like Trump can dream, can’t he?

Trump didn’t just admire every dictator on the planet, he wanted to be them.  As we’re now learning, toward the end of his presidency, Trump really and truly wanted to declare martial law.  He wanted to use the military (which, oh, the irony, the Republicans have now turned on) to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.  The ultimate act of bullying in a democratic society — the complete denial of the society’s right to govern itself.  THEY will govern.  They and their pals.

Bullies are especially good at screaming about being bullied when justice finally gets ahold of them. 

This is something the bullied need to learn about bullies.  They rely on our fairness.  They count on our sympathy.  Their goal is to NEVER take responsibility for what they’ve done — another kind of bullying.  In the same way, rapists behave like rapists in everything they do.  Inside their heads, they feel entitled to be anywhere they want — including inside your most personal space.  Rapists are just bullies with their dicks in their hands.  If they had any capacity to empathize, they would not be bullies to begin with.  We cannot appeal to their humanity as they have none.  What we can “appeal to” however is their wallet.  Heartless and soulless as every racist is, their wallet pumps with vital “life blood” — money.  Threaten even the hardiest racist’s wallet and he, too, will melt into a puddle of pure white Jello. 

At that meeting a month before the GOP nominated Trump in 2016, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan corralled the room quickly.  Whatever unease some might have felt at the prospect of a hostile foreign government having a viable hold on a future POTUS, they agreed with Ryan’s admonition for them all to keep this secret — that none of them questioned — a secret among them.  “That’s how we  know we’re family,” said SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE Paul Ryan.

Know what kind of “families” talk like that?  Know what those families are “famous for”?  Hint-hint: it starts with the letter “B”.

 

Anyone Who Thinks The Republicans Will Take Back The House Or Senate In 2022 Is An IDIOT!

Our news media keeps proving that conventional wisdom is long on convention but short on wisdom. They also keep proving that most of them suck at storytelling even worse than they suck at journalism. And, make no mistake, the majority of American journalists really aren’t that good at journalism. It’s not entirely their fault. Somewhere along the way, a mentor or a professor or a boss put it into their heads that “both sides do it”. From that point on, whatever talent they had for journalism was screwed. They permanently perverted their sense of perspective. Skewed it & screwed it for good by confusing skepticism (what every journalist should practice) with cynicism — a terrible, dark, judge-y way of thinking that assumes the very worst of people. All people — hence “both sides do it”.

It’s “both sides do it” that caused American journalists to normalize “Mexicans are rapists” — and then “pussy-grabbing” because “But, her emails!”. In hindsight, that decision to follow one lead over the other looks even worse, doesn’t it? Not that in the face of everything that’s happened since, America’s news media got any savvier about Donald Trump. They haven’t. Our news media is remarkably incapable of aggregating any part of the Trump story. If they were capable of aggregating everything we know about Trump into a constantly evolving narrative, Trump would NEVER have become president in the first place. As Fusion GPS did when first hired in 2016 to do oppo research on Trump (for the benefit of Marco Rubio backing The Washington Free Beacon), every member of the press would have done their due diligence so that they fully understood the man they were reporting on. Like Fusion did, the press would have BEGUN its narrative about Trump with Trump already being a Russian mob money-laundering criminal.

Yesterday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson demanded that the Department of Justice release the communications behind Bill Barr’s false assertions that the Mueller Report cleared Donald Trump of wrongdoing — the basis for the Bill Barr DoJ to NOT indict Trump. Apparently (shocking!) there WAS NO “communications”, there was a foregone conclusion that the evidence in the Mueller Report be damned, Bill Barr’s DoJ was NOT going to follow the law and indict Donald Trump. Remember — the Mueller Report itself represents a teeny-tiny tranche of the full Trump Treason Pie. What Bill Barr was covering up was both Obstruction of Justice and insufficient evidence to prosecute Trump for conspiring with Russia BECAUSE OF THE OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. Why do you think team Trump was working so hard to obstruct justice?

Because “Treason”, of course.

A month before nominating Trump to be their presidential candidate, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously walked into a meeting with Republican leadership and said — out loud (it was recorded and the recording was heard by a Washington Post reporter) “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” There was laughter in the room but no shock. But there must have been a degree of concern because then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan felt compelled to rein in any discomfort. No one, Ryan counseled, should speak of the matter outside that room. That, he said (it’s recorded), is “How we know we’re family”. A mafia crime family, more like…

Nothing about the Trump presidency was “normal”. Not a single second of it. And yet — the press worked overtime to normalize the story and Trump no matter how outrageous. To this day, most members of the news media scratch their heads hard enough to carve out a trench in their skulls as they try to figure out why Trump is so chummy with Vladimir Putin. Why, they wonder — like it was the mystery of existence — are the Republicans so friendly toward Russia? In their journalistic way, they’ll consider all the possibilities — well, they’ll consider all the possibilities but one. Giving Trump the benefit of the doubt, they’ll happily assume Trump could be innocent of everything. Being serious journalists, they’ll also assume that maybe Trump could be guilty of some sort of bad behavior (but he insists he’s innocent so, obviously that can’t be the case). They’ll NEVER assume the third choice: Trump is guilty as can be which means, yeah — he’s a rapist and a thief and a racist and an anti-Semite and a traitor.

Donald Trump IS all those things — that’s just what the aggregated story says, all of which the news media itself reported but, apparently, never bothered to read.

Our news media doesn’t know what to do with The Big Lie because “both sides do it” causes them to knee-jerk acceptance of it: if someone says a thing, it must be so because they said it. They confuse someone having a point of view (which even a thief or a rapist has) with having a point (which neither the thief nor the rapist has). There’s no defense for rape and unless we’re talking Jean Valjean stealing bread), there’s no defense for thievery either. Both a rapist and a thief have their “point of view”. That’s not the same as having a “point”. When Trump — as he did last night — insists that Joe Biden’s presidency is “The Big Lie”, he’s not just lying, he’s deliberately speaking utter rubbish. When the news media reports Trump’s assertions without completely contextualizing them first as rubbish, they give bullshit credence. That can never end well for anyone.

Trump WILL BE indicted and prosecuted in Georgia. He WILL be indicted and prosecuted in New York. He WILL be sued successfully by E. Jean Carroll who Trump raped in a Bergdorf’s dressing room in the mid-90’s and then defamed as too ugly to rape.

A direct link will be drawn between the January 6 insurrection, the Trump White House and Donald Trump himself.

And, of course, a direct link is about to be revealed that connects Donald Trump TO Russia and reframes what happened in November 2016 not as a free and fair American election but as a very real coup d’etat carried out by the Republican Party in concert with Russia, the goal being permanent minority rule. The GOP’s relationship with Trump may not have been part of some long-term master plan, but there was a kind of “master plan”; even before Trump’s nomination, Mitch McConnell had done the Koch Brothers bidding and quietly seized control of the judiciary by denying Obama hundreds of lifetime appointments including the SCOTUS seat Merrick Garland should be occupying instead of Neil Gorsuch.

Even now as the GOP eviscerates itself — casting Liz Cheney as an apostate because she won’t spew the Big Lie — they are painting themselves into a corner. Fealty to Trump is about have an even more dire cost than before.

How does one campaign while defending oneself against charges of treason? That will be the GOP’s challenge. That and trying to convince Americans (the majority of whom are finally healthy, back to work (in a booming economy) and happy for the first time in years that instead of the path they’re on, what they REALLY want is more Trumpism. THAT is what the Republican Party is selling — and, to be honest, I’m not sure how one does that — except to the very small clique of hard core Trumpanistas (which, all told, is at most SIXTEEN PERCENT of all Americans).

This is the sliver of corruption that the news media INSISTS will — because it always happens — retake the House and the Senate and dash all of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party’s dreams.

In order to see how ludicrous a forecast that is, however, one MUST see Republicans for who they really are and Trump for who he really is. You’d have to stop normalizing things that should never be normalized. You’d have to stop thinking “both sides do it” and that everyone, no matter what, is always doing it for “political” reasons. Finally, you’d have to get your cynicism in check.

That might be more than American journalism is capable of right now. While outside the mainstream journalists like Sarah Kendzior and Seth Abrahmson write compellingly because they’ve taken a holistic approach and aggregated the story all along, American journalists — especially the broadcast ones — return diligently every day to a kind of “square one” where everything we’ve learned along the way stops existing; all we know now is what we knew when we set out — nada.

The American news media didn’t see the Blue Wave of 2018. They insisted till they really couldn’t anymore that the 2020 race was close; it wasn’t. Yeah, sure — from an Electoral College pov, it got squeakerish at times. But the EC is slavery voting. It over-represents rural Americans and under-represents the urban majority — same as the Senate. “The Democratic half of the Senate represents 41,549,808 more people than the Republican half.” Senate Democrats represent. That’s a huge advantage for the Republicans. Why do you think there are two Dakotas — because there were too many Dakotans for one? Why two Carolinas? Why two Virginias?

To this day — as far as I know — no American journalist has even thought to ask Kevin McCarthy what made him think Putin paid Trump in the first place. If you accept Kevin as an honest actor (when he tells you Liz Cheney needs to go because she won’t pitch The Big Lie), you have no idea who Kevin is. You have no idea who any of the Republicans are or why they’re doing anything. You really don’t know anything. It makes your prognosticism dubious.

Okay, I’ll say it: it makes you an idiot.

Of Republicans, Rabbit Holes And Russia

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was the whole point.

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

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

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

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

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

That’s the mother of all Rabbit Holes.

The Difference Between Icing And Cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oy.

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

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

And an election.

Dear American News Media: Even Villains Do Things For A Reason — Like, Say, Republicans…

Never mind how many times Donald Trump lies, I want a running total of how many time American news people wonder aloud while scratching their heads why the Republican Party continues to march in lock step with him. I bet the journalists are winning.

If they scratch their heads any harder, all those journalists will have permanent divots in their skulls.

Imagine staring at the obvious for that long without seeing it.

Think of it in terms of storytelling. What if a storyteller told you a story where a lot of the characters did things “just because”. Why did that character screw over that other character? Just because. Why did this character murder that other character? Just because. Hey, one could write a story that took place entirely in a “just because” world where nothing seemed to have any purpose. In fact, one could create an entire genre — we could call it “existentialism” or “absurdism” — as we already did.

Except we don’t live in an absurdist world, absurd as our world is. People may do things for absurd reasons but they do have their reasons. That’s the point. Even if someone can’t articulate why they did something staggeringly stupid, down deep, there was something that triggered them to action. Even an animal impulse is tied to the rest of who they are — and they’re willingness to give in to animal impulses others teach themselves to ignore.

Storytelling can go wherever it wants but it has to follow one basic rule: it must mirror actual human behavior or we’ll turn on it. How many times have you been reading a book or watching a movie or TV show when one of the characters did or said something so completely out of character that the whole story suddenly felt weak? We demand satisfaction from our stories. Stories that try to deceive us about how human beings are do not satisfy us.

In storytelling, villains especially must have a purpose. Even if the audience can’t discern it (that can make a horror movie even scarier), the villain itself must have a reason for doing what it does. Because human beings do. And human beings understand from experience that when humans do rotten things, if they’re not genuinely deranged (a purpose unto itself), they’re doing that rotten thing for very clear reasons.

A Bond villain has a purpose — world domination. Granted, it seems kinda foolhardy (who’d want the agita?) and hard to enforce here in reality (the enforcement costs better be figured into the business model because those all by themselves are going to be astronomical and the money to pay for it has to come from somewhere), but you can’t say it’s not a purpose.

Darth Vader has a purpose. Lex Luthor has a purpose. Doc Oc has a purpose.

So does every stinking Republican.

Mitch McConnell had a purpose when he denied Merrick Garland so much as a hearing. He had a purpose when — in the Gang Of 8 meeting at the WH, September 2016 — he vowed to accuse President Barack Obama of “politiciziing the intelligence” if Obama let We The People in on the secret that Russia was actively engaged in perverting our upcoming election toward Donald Trump. Mitch had a purpose when he removed the sanctions against Oleg Deripaska — sanctions imposed because Russia made Donald Trump president — to get a Russian aluminum factory in chronically impoverished western Kentucky. The hundred or so newly employed hillbillies were a throw in bonus. Mitch’s real purpose was committing treason.

Well, to be more exact, Mitch’s Russian handlers compelled Mitch to commit treason. But that’s just technical stuff. It doesn’t change the bottom line about Mitch McConnell: he’s a traitor. He’s been a traitor since before the election — that’s why Mitch has behaved as he’s behaved. He’s not just being a “political master”. He’s being a criminal — a criminal behaving politically because he’s using our political system both to commit his crime and to cover up his crime. See how framing changes things?

Take note, American news media — Mitch McConnell (our example) — isn’t doing what he’s doing out of blind loyalty to Donald Trump. Mitch McConnell has a purpose. Stop scratching your heads please.

Now (that you’ve stopped scratching your heads), please look around. See all those other Republicans whose actions you can’t fathom? They’re just like Mitch. They’re complicit. We’ll find out in time how early more and more Republicans understood — even if only implicitly — that Donald Trump was not behaving legally — that he would never have “won” the presidency (or they their offices) without direct Russian meddling in the election’s results.

They all knew “something happened” election night. They knew damned well it wasn’t “undeclared Trump voters”. Those at the top definitely knew that Russia was deeply, deeply involved. They knew Russia had more than just a hand; at the very least, Russia had money in the game — and money in the game was strictly illegal. We KNOW the Republicans knew, it was reported on FFS!

Now GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, upon entering a meeting of GOP leaders during the 2016 GOP convention, said out loud “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Did anyone in the room reply “What? Kevin — how do you know this? Quick, someone — get the FBI on the phone — we must report this likely criminal behavior!”? No, strangely, they did not. They did exactly as then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan insisted they do: “keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.”

If Putin paying Rohrbacher and Trump was legal, do you really think Paul Ryan would have insisted they keep it in the family?

This is what’s called “consciousness of guilt“.

Now, I know it’s a can of worms, but here goes (and I’m talking to the media here) — Consciousness of Guilt” is a real thing. It can be used to convict real people of real crimes. That means when people whose stories you’re trying to tell exhibit clear consciousness of guilt? It’s incumbent on you (the storyteller) to make that part of the story too. They’re signalling to you that there’s more to them than you know. Storytellers — good ones anyway — like that sort of thing. It gives our stories somewhere interesting to go.

So much the better that it’s all 100% true.

From the get-go, Republicans have had a reason for suppressing Democratic voters. Donald Trump has a reason for saying vote-by-mail is corrupt. The instant Trump stops being president, not only will his legal problems begin (and probably never end), so too will the legal problems of every single Republican.

Good villains have simple desires (even if those desires were arrived at by a complex process). The Republicans may be bad people but — in their defense — they are excellent villains (mostly because they fill the role so completely). They do what they because they’re corrupt. They want to overturn all our democratic principles and processes to install permanent minority rule.

I ask you this, American News Media: would tell a James Bond story from Bloefeld’s point of view? You could; it would even be interesting. But it’s still from the villain’s point of view and our culture cannot survive by glorifying villainy. It’s just how culture is. To see a story from a villain’s point of view — without condemning that point of view — is to give that point of view credence. The villain might have a point.

No, he doesn’t. He may have a point of view but, ironically, he has no point: his argument cannot carry water.

That’s the problem our news media has — and they’re inability to see the problem they have is causing all kinds of ripple effect harm.

We know why villains do things — they’re corrupt. We also know why our news media fails us regularly — they’re mediocre.

The Rule Of Law Never Stopped “Being”; We Stopped Enforcing It…

That’s an important framing. We’ve watched Donald Trump and the Republican Party violate the rule of law with impunity. They act as if the rule of law didn’t exist anymore. We have acted the same way — like the rule of law had ceased “to be”.

That’s not true. It’s a matter of perspective. We’re still inside an active crime scene.

Think of it this way: we’re not talking about our government being hijacked. We’re talking, say, about a car. A bloated orange car thief has just stolen our car at gunpoint. And, as we get back to our feet and watch the car thief drive off with our car, it absolutely feels as if the thief is getting away with the crime — as if the rule of law stopped “being”.

But there were cameras all around, seeing and recording what happened. We have tons of evidence. It’s not a question whether or not a crime was committed.

Let’s say, to keep the metaphor going, that we call the police and report the crime. But the police are shockingly unhelpful. The top cop is worst of all. And while a few of the others in power are going along with him, the majority of cops aren’t. We get it: there’s corruption in the police department.

The rule of law STILL is in effect. We’ve simply uncovered the fact that even more people are violating it — and violating it by not prosecuting it. All duly noted.

The majority of us understand exactly what’s happening. We never agreed to stop prosecuting the rule of law. We’ve come to see however what happens when you don’t follow the rule of law to the letter. If you don’t apply it equally to everyone? It will break down eventually. Not because the rule of law is flawed but because we haven’t followed it. If we had followed it, we wouldn’t have had a problem in the first place.

I think we’ve learned our lesson. Correction — those who’ve suffered from our unequal application of the rule of law — they’ve learned. And, as they take political power, they will insist not that we start the rule of law again, but that we start APPLYING IT again.

See the difference? It means that we’re still obligated by the rule of law to apply it during the times when we’d stopped applying it. The rule of law was still in effect. We also have to ask now WHY we stopped applying it equally — and who was responsible for that. The rule of law will insist.

That’s the thing about the rule of law. It takes the decision-making (whether to apply it or not) out of our hands. The answer’s always “Yes — we apply the rule of law”.

The Moment We START re-enforcing the rule of law again, every single Republicans will have a serious problem. Conspiracy works this way: see something, say something; see something, say nothing? We need to know WHY. Why did you say nothing when you saw something (potentially) unlawful going on? The rule of law says you cannot remain silent. Even if you only suspect someone is violating the rule of law, you are obligated by it to act. If you don’t? You are violating it. And the rule of law demands we act against you.

Back during the 2016 Republican convention, current GOP leader Kevin McCarthy famously entered a meeting of GOP muckety-mucks and said “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan just as famously told everyone there to “keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.”

They all agreed to keep a secret rather than call the FBI. They knew what would happen to them all if the rule of law was applied to them. They knew they were violating it.

That’s the thing that will surprise us when it happens — as it should happen. As it must: the rule of law will make it explicitly clear that Donald Trump, in legal fact, was never President of the United States. Not in any legal way. He couldn’t have been because he violated the rule of law in order to become president and the rule of law says explicitly that you cannot do that. Cheating to win means YOU DID NOT LEGALLY WIN.

That, too, is an important distinction to the rule of law and how we apply it. An election is not an abstraction. Its results — from the rule of law’s point of view — belong to the people. The rule of law is all about securing equality before the law for everyone. An election’s results — if they reflect how the electorate actually voted — should be the winning candidate’s marching orders. We elected you to do these things for us, now go do them!

What the Republicans did — with their Russian pals helping significantly — is alter the election’s outcome. Did they flip votes in machines — directly stealing the outcome (the icing on the cake)? We don’t know. No one’s ever done an official forensic investigation. The evidence is mounting that they should. But if that’s the only metric we’ll use for “stealing an election”? We’ll lose every election going forward.

We’ve been living through a new kind of asymetrical warfare using information, data and social media as weapons. Bombs and bullets are completely unnecessary to bring another country to its knees. If the Russians (or Chinese or Saudis or Iranians or North Koreans or some 400 pound guy in his basement) cut off our power grid tomorrow, we’d sue for peace, white flags raised high.

That’s not hypothetical war, it’s real war that we are really losing. But that’s only because we stopped using our most important asset: the rule of law.

It will take longer than it should for all the uncorrupted people at the police department to isolate the “bad apples” among them and hunt down the bloated orange scumbag who jacked our ride. We will get our car back.

And we will prosecute everyone — EVERYONE — who participated in the carjacking in any way, shape or form. It won’t be up to us whether we do that or not. We’ll have to.

Because the rule of law says so.

Donald Trump Has Never Been Legitimate POTUS Which Means NOTHING HE’S DONE Is Legitimate Either

I don’t know about you, but I look forward to the Rule Of Law’s return. It won’t sit well with any Republicans — they won’t even recognize it.

But it’s returning and when it’s back in its rightful place — we’re going to treat it like the jewel that it is. The first thing the Rule Of Law will do, once it’s back in force, is obligate us to actually DO something about the Trump years other than just feel grateful that they’re over.

Moving on — without prosecuting or punishing the Republican Party for what it did — would be disastrous. Showing mercy will only start the clock running on the Republicans doing it all over again. Roger Stone, don’t forget, is a Nixonite. If, instead of pardoning Nixon, Gerald Ford had screwed him to the wall — punishing him good and hard for his criminal behavior — guys like Roger Stone wouldn’t be so smug now about finishing what Nixon started.

The whole point of the exercise for the Republicans was to undermine the Rule Of Law — which they’ve done. Our first action upon taking power back from these pirates can’t be to forgive their piracy. We need to make the whole idea of being a pirate unacceptable.

The Rule Of Law doesn’t equivocate — if you cheat in order to become POTUS, it means your campaign behaved illegally. You did not actually win.

If this was one of Trump’s stupid beauty pageants (putting aside that they’re rigged), if one of the contestants, say, slept with or compromised all the judges (or both even) then blackmailed them all into voting for her, her “win” would not be accepted as legitimate — once everyone was allowed to say what they knew. Not only would the title of “Beauty Queen” get taken away, so would all the privileges that went along with being queen.

If, say, the Beauty Queen was given a key card with access to the Beauty Pageant offices, they’d take that away from her. She didn’t actually earn the access.

If she got a tiara? It’s gone. If she got money? It’s going back. Nothing that came with the office will stay — because it’s not hers and never was.

Good thing beauty queens don’t get to nominate lifetime judges to the federal bench. They’d all have to go back too.

Take Russia out of the 2016 equation and Donald Trump is not president. He doesn’t even run — and if he does? It ends quickly. The Republican Party may have hated Trump — they hate him still — but they made a deeply cynical choice when they decided to go with Trump — despite what they knew about him and his relationship with Russia.

And they KNEW. Current GOP Leader Representative Kevin McCarthy to a roomful of GOP muckety-mucks DURING the 2016 Republican national convention: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”

The correct answer would have been “What? Kevin — are you SURE about this? Putin’s paying TWO of our guys including the one we’re running for President? Someone – quick – call the FBI!” Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) “…immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.”

The piece continues: “Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.’ The remarks remained secret for nearly a year.”

They’re a family all right — without an ounce of legitimacy to them.

You know how in football if a team runs a kickoff all the way back for a TD — but there was a penalty along the way? The TD comes off the scoreboard. The whole runback gets treated as if it never happened. The only thing it did was take time off the clock.

We, too, have lost considerable time. But every bit of Trump’s & the GOP’s “score” needs to come back. The points must come off the board and there must be penalties.

A Democratic blow out will put the White House, more of the House and the Senate in Democrat’s hands. But when those Democrats take their oaths of office, they need to be crystal clear — forgiveness and mercy are off the table. The Rule Of Law must be allowed to do what it does. We will try every single Republican fairly — and it must be every single Republican because we need to know: did THEY know what Trump was doing? When did they know? How much did they know? Why didn’t they say anything?

If they even suspected something was amiss — WHY DIDN’T THEY SAY ANYTHING?

Co-conspiracy will take out pretty much the entire GOP. There’s no other option if the Rule Of Law is functioning. If we do try to show the Republicans mercy, we’ll immediately undermine the Rule Of Law all over again.

That means everything Trump did comes back. E V E R Y T H I N G .

In particular, the judges. Those that perjured themselves during their hearings will immediately be impeached for having committed perjury. The others — we’ll argue over for a while — can we really undo what a sitting POTUS did?

That’s when we’ll need to remind ourselves: he was never actually POTUS. He was the guy who stole the keys to the POTUS-MOBILE then took our country for a joy ride that ended in a catastrophic collision.

If we don’t toss everything Trump did — despite its evident illegality & illegitimacy — we will start the clock running on “Slavery: The Sequel”. Not outlawing the ownership of human beings at our founding haunts us to this day. Allowing a criminal to keep any of what he and his co-conspirators deliberately took from us would have the exact same outcome.

It will haunt us forever.