Everyone May Have Their Point Of View But Not Every Point Of View Has A Valid Point

There was a terrific Monty Python sketch called “The Argument Clinic” where — pure theatre of the absurd — a customer (played by Brian Jones) goes to an argument clinic where he pays to have an argument with an argument counselor played by John Cleese. Right off the bat, Cleese’s counselor is disagreeable and argumentative but, has he started the customer’s argument session or is he just arguing on his own time? At one point, they argue over what constitutes an argument versus, say, just back and forth gainsaying. In the end, bringing the whole absurd idea around again, Jones, exasperated by Cleese, mutters on his way out the door “What a stupid concept”. Arguing — all by itself — is easy. Any idiot can do that. Making a real, valid point however — that’s much harder to do — in part because not everyone has a valid or justifiable point. This is what makes social media such a lure but also such a losing proposition. Everyone brings their point of view to the par-tay. It’s remarkable how few of those points of view actually have a valid point.

Even if we stripped away the shield of anonymity from social media, I bet few of those extreme positions would change. Fewer might get expressed out loud — because cowardice or because insincere — but they’d represent the very same political positions. The racist thugs who don’t care that The Big Lie is a lie have a very distinct point of view. Does their point of view have a valid point though? Corruption has a point of view — as do the corrupt. But does corruption or the corrupt have a point (other than self-enrichment at everyone else’s expense)? No. The guy who steals your car or breaks into your house or molests your kid — he has his reasons for doing what he’s doing. If you got to face that bastard in court, you’d present your side of what happened — describing a crime victim’s point of view. They were living their life quite happily until the criminal who victimized them entered the picture. What valid point — what reason — might this criminal have for doing what they did? As valid points go, this is a null set.

Donald Trump has his point of view. Does Donald Trump have any sort of “point”? We could ask the same question about Vladimir Putin but we’ll get a very different answer. Of course Putin has his point of view. But, Putin also has a point. We may not agree with his point — the restoration of “Greater Russia” and the diminishment of American power and liberal democracy — but Putin has one. He’s even stated that point out loud. That he resorts to nefarious means to achieve his points? It’s part of his larger point. Trump isn’t trying to achieve anything other than his own enrichment and staying out of prison.

“Both sides do it” brand journalism — in love with its own false neutrality — credits every argument with being valid just because the people arguing it say so. This was how we got years of talking heads segments on the cable news networks where climate scientists and climate science deniers were pitted against each other. In those segments, the climate scientist would sit on one side — taking up 50% of the screen — while the climate science denier took up the other 50% of the screen. In the visual language — which we all now understand because visual information flows at us constantly — that means the argument is between two equal points. Fifty-fifty. It’s up to the audience to decide who’s telling the truth and who’s being deceptive, between who’s right here and who’s wrong. The fact is, it’s NOT a fifty-fifty. The climate scientist has it 100% right while the denier has it 100% wrong. But a NEWS show is telling us (even if unintentionally) that bullshit could be true. It’s up to us.

Nothing good can come from news organizations refusing to call bullshit “bullshit”.

Anonymity exacerbates bullshit’s potency and the speed with which it spreads. “I heard that…” is how someone with bullshit in mind intends to put that bullshit into YOUR mind. It’s the tell that a pointless point of view is trying to weasel its way into the conversation.

It’s a rabbit hole. Avoid it.

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.

A Presidency Is Like A Four-Year Story Cycle — And America Is Done, Done, DONE With The Donald Trump Story

We didn’t need to preview “The Donald Trump Presidency” to know it was going to be a double-barreled dumpster fire that could only end horribly. Everything about the prequel to Trump’s presidency — his life — suggested he was a terrible businessman, a terrible husband, a terrible father, a terrible American and an even worse human being. His candidacy did not change one iota of our assessment. If anything, Trump’s presidency has proven that we underestimated his awfulness. By a factor of a million.

The Donald Trump story is about greed and malfeasance and corruption and treason. It’s about piggery and power lust. It’s about bullying and bullshit replacing common decency and stone cold truth. It’s about one of our two political parties finding enough common ground with a man they KNEW was treasonous to make him their presidential nominee anyway. It’s about bad guys running amok because the good guys let them for so long. Or, maybe that’s because the news media equated bad guys with good guys since “both sides do it”.

Nothing about it makes sense. It’s like a rabbit hole designed by a dunderhead. It was never going to make sense anyway but now, it’s completely incomprehensible.

What the hell is THIS?

Even the news media — incapable of judging Trump despite the wall of immorality he presented every day of his presidency — has given up on any pretense that this isn’t “bonkers” — a word CNN used to describe Trump. America — by a margin of SIX MILLION VOTES & COUNTING — voted to go another way (the way we actually voted to go four years ago!) We all agreed: it’s time to turn the channel on this show because it sucks.

Most Americans enjoyed the Barack Obama story. We survived the George W. Bush story but only just. The Donald Trump story started off bonkers and then got steadily crazier.

It’s taken “bonkers” to places even “bonkers” had never been to.

That’s one more feature the Republican Party to add to its “brand” (in addition to “CORRUPT”, “RACIST”, “MISOGYNIST”, “BIGOTED” and “TREASONOUS”) — “BONKERS”. Thanks anyway, GOP — We The People have had our fill of bonkers. We’re moving onto healthier fare.

Dear American News Media — Just Because Donald Trump Likes Running Down Rabbit Holes Doesn’t Mean You Have To Follow Him There

Remember this image — Trump going down that golden escalator on the day he formally declared?

What we didn’t realize at the time — though we should have — it wasn’t the lobby of Trump Tower he was descending into, it was a goddamned rabbit hole. The first sign we had was “Mexicans are rapists”. The second sign that we were in a rabbit hole? Within a matter of moments, we shrugged off “Mexicans are rapists” as just “how Donald Trump is”. Normal world? No. Rabbit hole.

Every bizarre thing Trump says is a rabbit hole unto itself. It’s not so much an intention on Trump’s part — to get the press to chase him down each and every rabbit hole — as a hard-wired behavior. Trump lies to everyone — his family included. So, Trump is always trying to get someone to follow him down a rabbit hole because, it’s just a fact, at any given moment, Trump is lying to a stupefying number of people.

That’s why liars love rabbit holes. There’s no logic inside a rabbit hole. The normal rules of cause and effect stop working — or seem to — because a rabbit hole isn’t reality; it’s an ice core drilled into bullshit thicker than the earth’s crust. It’s a place of Magical Thinking, nonsense and drivel.

One would think that, after a time or two, one would weary of chasing liars down rabbit holes. Yes, chasing liars down rabbit holes is part of what journalism is, but journalists also must maintain perspective. Once they’ve ascertained that a liar will lie to them, they’d be stupid — as a person and a journalist — to give the liar a fair hearing each and every time the liar opened his mouth.

But, that’s what our news media does. Rather than build a narrative that says “Donald Trump’s whole ‘strategy’ is to tie us in knots with his lying”, our news media continues to assume Trump could be telling the truth this time — as preposterous as his lie sounds.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/trump-s-plane-loaded-thugs-rumor-matches-months-old-facebook-n1238962

“Planes Loaded With Thugs” is a rabbit hole. FFS, it even sounds like a rabbit hole! Why would anyone with a degree from a J-School follow someone down it?

Oh, right — because that J-School degree came with a heavy dose of cynical (rather than skeptical) “Both Sides Do It” journalism where everyone’s the same (regardless of how different they are) — with the same motives, the same tactics, the same everything. If one person does things for political reasons then everyone does things for political reasons — even (apparently) if they don’t know it. Therefore, a Republican suppressing Democratic voters is political but so is the suppressed Democratic voter — attempting only to practice their right to vote by calling the Republican out for suppressing them.

No, the suppressed voter is NOT behaving politically, they’re a crime victim. And so are we all when 1) naked politics dictate actions and 2) the press can’t tell the difference.

The solution is shockingly easy. It’s one word: “No”. As in “No, we will not follow you down that rabbit hole. You come out — then we’ll talk”. Or, put more simply (if a little less elegantly): “Back it up or it’s bullshit”.

The news media doesn’t have to accept what Trump says THEN scurry around to fact check him. That’s their choice. It’s their habit now because they’ve been completely re-active here.

They could absolutely do this the other way round — and they should. When dealing with a known liar, you have to assume that they’re lying to you. Therefore you demand that they back up everything they say FIRST. “Put the receipts on the table”, point to the relevant facts (facts, not bullshit) THEN we’ll entertain having a discussion with you on this topic. Can’t back it up right off the bat? We’re not talking about it — we’re certainly not broadcasting it over our air to our NEWS audience.

If Donald Trump thought he had achieved dictator status, he wouldn’t be running for re-election. He’d have cancelled it already and made all his legal troubles go away.

He hasn’t. That means that Donald’s Republican friends also acknowledge that they can’t impose permanent minority rule on us quite yet. It seems we’re likely to protest. Loudly. And we outnumber them by a lot.

Authoritarians know one thing: their authoritarian rule probably won’t end with them dying peacefully in their beds, old and ready. It will come far sooner and be way more violent. That’s why authoritarians don’t ever do that “peaceful transfer of power” thing. They can’t. They’re criminals and losing power means legal problems, prison or worse.

That’s why Trump spews rabbit holes. Lying and obfuscation are the only path he has to “win” this election. But then, Trump didn’t actually “win” his last election. Cheating to win (especially when the cheating involves treason) isn’t actually winning — in the legal sense. Legally speaking, you can’t cheat to win. Hey — that’s just the rule of law talking, not me.

Trump is the first impeached POTUS to ever run for re-election — in the very election he was impeached over: because he cheated! You wouldn’t know that from the way our NEWS MEDIA reports this story. They still treat it like a normal election where previous polling describes what’s happening now. No, Steve Kornacki, you nitwit — it isn’t! Look, I’m sure Kornacki’s a lovely guy — and he does have real insight into his numbers. But he has no perspective whatsoever about the larger context his numbers take place inside of.

Steve NEVER accounts for Russia’s vote in 2016 for example. He NEVER accounts for the impact voter suppression (and probably vote flipping) could have had. Steve insists that his flawed numbers tell the story of what happened then (they absolutely do not!) and therefore what will happen now. No — they absolutely will not!

Oh, sure — there are conscientious journalists working this beat. At Kornacki’s very own MSNBC Nicolle Wallace, Rachel Maddow, Joy-Ann Reid, Ali Velshi consistently frame the story we’re all living in correctly — as a house completely afire. But the rest — the Kornackis, the Chuck Todds, the Kelly O’Donnells… what a bunch of amateurs.

You’d have to be an amateur to keep making the same rookie mistake, right? If you can’t figure out how NOT to chase a rabbit down an obvious rabbit hole then you should probably quit chasing rabbits. Give up on journalism. Try something you’re good at. Let’s hope there is something.

Of Republicans & Rabbit Holes: Dr. Fauci Edition


The Trump White House — a literal house of lies — wants America to believe what it says versus what an actual doctor says about how best to handle our coronavirus response. That’s while America becomes the one country on earth (aside from Brazil maybe) that can’t handle the coronavirus because it can’t help lying about it.

The WH wants to paint Dr. Anthony Fauci as “untrustworthy” because earlier in our learning process, he didn’t know everything that we know now. They want to equate lack of knowledge with deliberately lying. Well, of COURSE they do — they’re all criminals doing everything they can think of to save themselves — including murdering tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of Americans using a virus & chaos as their lethal weapons.

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

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

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

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

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

Of Rabbit Holes & Republicans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As I said — it’s all about obfuscation.

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

“Shut up” is even better.