Dear America: Can We PLEASE Stop Coddling Corruption?

I will never forget that feeling of dread that kicked in the instant that Donald Trump was declared the winner of election 2016. It wasn’t just losing an election. This felt different from just losing an election. It felt different, in fact, from Antonin Scalia stepping outside all precedent to MAKE George W. Bush president. That, if we’re honest with ourselves, was incredibly corrupt. Scalia inserted himself between We The People and our choice — the majority’s choice — in order to send America in the direction HE wanted us to go instead of the one WE wanted to go in. That is the essence of corruption. Corruption authored “Bush v Gore”. We paid the price. We’re still paying it and will continue to pay it into the future because that’s what happens when corruption “wins”. But, the fact is,, corruption doesn’t have to win. At any and every point along corruption’s route, we can stop it.

In a sense, America opened shop already corrupt. Well, the white, Christian men who founded America aspired to a great idea that “All men are created equal” but could not overcome their own misguided, misinformed tribal prejudices. They corrupted this grand idea by making it exclusive. By “All men”, they meant them. Just them. And yet — at the same time, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson (the slave-owning outlier here) were insisting that “E Pluribus Unum” become our national motto. Out of many, one.

The “many” are hard to corrupt. The “one”, on the other hand…

All corruption begins with the getting of money. Modern humans lived for two hundred thousand years as hunter-gatherers, accumulating nothing. There wasn’t much to be greedy over. The agricultural revolution bound us to the land. Its output had value both to the community and the individual growing what the community needed. Supply and demand were invented. The natural hierarchies that evolved over the course of our hunter-gatherer years became monetized — literally. Work evolved from being a strictly communal enterprise (hunting, gathering, child-rearing) into being “an enterprise”. Who “owned” the land that was being farmed? Who “owned” that farmed output? After a while, bartering couldn’t keep up — especially as the scale increased. As cities grew (grew more populated), so too did the need for another form of equity that people could trade in place of straight good-for-goods swaps. Enter money.

Money itself has never been “the root of all evil”. It’s THE WORSHIP of money. The compulsion to acquire wealth beyond all real need. Greed is a mania. The greedy become convinced that money will protect them from all of Life’s hardships and challenges. To a degree, the greedy are right. Having money gives one options that NOT having money doesn’t. I say this from experience, having been both comfortable and bankrupt.

My family probably wouldn’t have gone through a bankruptcy following the 2008 financial meltdown if we’d been forced to sell our house instead refinancing it to the point where keeping it was beyond our reach. Each of those refi’s was based on a lie — that we could afford to pay the escalating mortgage. But, corruption starts with a lie. Our financial system was lying (because it was corrupt) and rather than look at my situation honestly (which is what I should have done), I bought into the “hope” that “somehow”, I would turn my situation around and make everything whole. I wasn’t being greedy so much as being stupid. I knew damned well I was lying on those forms. I was going along with the corruption because (I thought — wrongly) that it was benefiting me. In the end, it did not. My participation in this corruption did far more long term harm to me personally (and to my family) than any sort of short term good.

But, that’s if I’m being honest with myself.

The first step toward releasing corruption’s hold on us collectively is to acknowledge its hold on us personally. No one has to run to the FBI to confess anything. We just have to be honest with ourselves.

Once we grant that corruption has touched us personally, it gets easier to see it touching other people — and how those other people either are being victimized by corruption or are becoming victimizers. The eaters versus the eaten. Some people take to corruption naturally like ducks to water or Republicans to bullshit. At corruptions heart is the rubbish notion that any person gets rich because of something they alone have done. The same idea wants us to believe that some families have magical, “royal” blood that makes them and their spawn better. They even get it into their heads that money and power flows to them from the divine.

If that never happened — if a sky deity never actually anointed said family then their assertion that such a thing happened is a lie. Anything that furthers that lie is corrupt. In time, we bake all that corruption of the truth into our cultural architecture. The point is, it’s not shocking that we coddle corruption. We grow up with so much corruption already normalized that it’s a wonder we still know what the truth is.

When Mitch McConnell gets up on his Treason Turtle hind legs — as he did yesterday — to burble about how he “doesn’t believe” all the Republican attempts to restrict voting are racist, he’s lying through his turtle beak. He’s being corrupt. But then, EVERYTHING Mitch McConnell does is corrupt. Literally. The fact that Mitch keeps winning elections in a state where he’s less popular than cancer, suggests that Mitch and corruption know each other well. Yet, instead of sitting in prison, Mitch gets to stand in the way of America’s future. And, instead of marching to Mitch’s front door with torches alight and pitchforks raised, we shrug. “What can we do?” we sigh. “The people of Kentucky elected him.”

But, did they? What if that’s never been the case and the solution to the Mitch McConnell problem has always been a “simple matter” of calling Mitch out for the corrupt criminal he is?

It would help, of course, if our news media would stop coddling people whose corruption they’ve already reported. To treat Mitch McConnell or Kevin McCarthy as honest actors is, in itself, dishonest. But then, our news media — having reported on Trumpian corruption for four plus years STILL refuses to see Trump himself as corrupt as if Trump was an anomaly of honesty surrounded by corruption. They scratch their heads relentlessly as they wonder what binds the GOP to Trump despite the fact that he lost them the White House, the House and the Senate. They blame the base and fear of being primaried — as if was all about the horse race and not the horses doing the racing. It never occurs to our NEWS media to blame the corruption.

The Republican Party, seeing electoral extinction in their near future, hitched their wagon not only to Trump but to Russia. They KNEW before they nominated Trump how completely Vlad Putin owned him. They even talked about it out loud. “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” said Kevin McCarthy upon entering a room of GOP leaders A MONTH BEFORE NOMINATING TRUMP in 2016, “Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” In response, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan made everyone present promise to keep what Kevin McCarthy thought a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family,” he reminded them.

He might as well have added, “That’s how we know we’re all corrupt”.

Everyone in that room accepted the corruption. It’s incumbent on us however to just say “no”.

On This Memorial Day: Let’s Consider What Treason Is Doing Before Treason Gives Us More Memorials

I’m old enough to remember when calling someone a “traitor” in public discourse was as frowned upon as invoking Nazis when describing “the other side”. I’m also old enough to remember how — during the early years of Trump’s presidency — people rolled their eyes at you when you tried to connect Donald Trump to Russia or, for an even bigger eyeroll, when you insisted that Trump and the Republican Party not only had to pay for their crimes but were going to. Now, at least, more people are fully on board with the idea that Trump really is a criminal who really does deserve to go to prison and (miracle of miracles!) just actually might. But, right this second, the crime(s) Trump could realistically do time for are 1) state crimes and 2) financial crimes having to do with things Trump and his business did BEFORE he became POTUS. That’s good but it’s not nearly good enough. Trump needs to be fully investigated, tried, convicted and punished for every last crime he perpetrated against and upon We The People. Were this just Trump, our problem would have been solved long ago. THAT is the problem. It isn’t just Trump and never was.

The entire Republican Party can now be accused either of treason or conspiracy to commit treason.

It’s simple: “see something, SAY something; see something, say NOTHING?” We have to ask “why?” WHY say nothing — especially in the face of clear, evident treason? Why protect treason when you should be protecting America? The GOP’s leadership knew at least a month before they nominated Trump in 2016 that Putin owned him. They said so OUT LOUD! Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of GOP leaders a month before the nominating convention and said OUT LOUD: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in the room — the whole conversation was recorded and that recording was played for reporters a year later) — either contested McCarthy’s claim or asked how such an outrageous idea got into his head in the first place. In fact, they seem to have understood that it was possible if not likely. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s concern wasn’t that their about-to-be nominee might be owned by a hostile foreign government, it was that their collective knowledge of that fact needed to remain a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family,” Ryan said.

Committing treason is a Rubicon you can never un-cross. The traitor needs to know it and We The People need to know it. Traitors can never, EVER be trusted ever again. Certainly not with access to political power.

Our news media, utterly incapable of either doing their due diligence or of aggregating the very information they’re reporting into an evolving, cohesive hole, scratch their heads every day as they contemplate the continuing Republican devotion to Donald Trump — who lost them the White House, the House AND the Senate. Trump never came close to winning a popular vote and, as we’ll see soon enough, even his one Electoral College win in 2016 is likely a mirage achieved by a democracy-destroying tag team of Russian propaganda and the Republican-owned and controlled electronic voting machines made by ES&S — the paper trail-less, internet accessible, backdoor vulnerable e-voting machines most of the country uses .

The sequence in 2016 went like this: Rudy Giuliani, the FBI’s Trump-loving NYC bureau and then Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz from Utah make “The Comey Letter” happen. The rogue FBI agents in NYC know there’s a laptop computer with emails on it; they know the emails are copies of “but her emails” they’ve already exploited (though they came to nothing). Their boss, James Comey, has asked them a question: are these NEW “but, her emails” or copies of old that the FBI had already seen? The answer was “old” but the rogue agents in the NYC bureau — under Rudy G’s guiding hand — managed to keep that question alive throughout the summer and into the fall. When they finally replied “We don’t know, let’s pop the top!” it was October. Everything about the Comey letter was bullshit. The point of the exercise was to create a huge moment of doubt at the last moment.

The Comey Letter cost Hillary Clinton significant polling points. She went from a safe lead outside the margin of error to an unsafe lead within the margin of error — especially in the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. At the same time, throughout the fall, Russia had been inundating the personal Facebook pages of individual Black Democratic voters with ads insisting that Hillary Clinton was a raging racist on the downlow. How did Russia know to target these very voters? That’s where Paul Manafort comes in.

As we know — he went to prison for it (though he was pardoned) — Manafort handed Konstantin Kilimnik proprietary polling data for four states: Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Consider that Trump won the EC by winning Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by a combined 77,000 votes. It is flatly against the law, what Manafort did. Considering his motives (he owed Kilimnik’s boss Oleg Deripaska seventeen million dollars and was desperate to pay him back or risk physical violence to his family!), it’s impossible not to see Manafort’s actions as treasonous. That dot connects directly to the “Russia pays Trump” dot.

Not only did the Republican Party know that Trump was a Russian asset, they deliberately covered it up every step of the way. Bill Barr could just as easily have told the truth about what he read in the Mueller Report. Except he never read it because he KNEW what it said: Team Trump and the entire Republican party were all traitors. Instead, Barr lied about Mueller’s work product. He completely misrepresented it. We’ve also learned recently that in addition to quashing the counter-intelligence investigation into Trump begun under the Obama admin, then acting AG Rod Rosenstein lied to Team Mueller when he told them not to wander into a counter-intel investigation because the FBI was doing; he told the FBI not to bother with it because Team Mueller was doing it. In the confusion (and because everyone trusted Rod Rosenstein to be an honest actor), the counter intel investigation never happened — and no one ever asked about it. Until recently.

Treason is behind every terrible thing the Republican Party is doing. Fearing demographic extinction, the RW money (the Kochs, the Mercers etc) hitched their wagons to Russia and Putin. Guys like Steve Bannon — who’s a religious zealot aching for the rapture — saw common purpose with Putin whose Russian nationalism is tied deeply to the Russian Orthodox Church. Republicans saw so much common purpose with Russia that on July 4, 2018 EIGHT Republican Congresspeople (Sens. Richard C. Shelby of AL, Steve Daines (MT), John Hoeven (ND), John Neely Kennedy (LA.), Jerry Moran (KS.), John Thune (SD) and Ron Johnson (WI), plus Rep. Kay Granger (TX.) flew to Moscow for DINNER. On a date when they should have been strutting their patriotic bona fides back home, these eight were being wined and dined by Vladimir Putin. We need to know what marching orders Putin gave them all that night. What did he demand of these useful idiots? What did he threaten them with if they dared deny him?

Our news media goes to work every day, the biggest story of their lifetimes in front of them and yet most of them, though they know the story’s big, can’t get anywhere close to wrapping their minds around it. It’s bigness defies their limited imaginations. As they contemplate all the reasons Republicans might be so crazy loyal to Trump, they’re quite happy to go with “just because”. They apparently believe that Republicans are loyal to Trump “just because” but not because they might all be guilty of conspiracy to commit treason. They don’t have to accept it as the explanation until it passes all journalistic muster but, once it does? They’ll have to accept it.

These same journalists, convinced that “both sides do it”, have also convinced themselves that “bi-partisanship, no matter how you achieve it, is worth more than anything — even if that “bi-partisanship” completely undermines the nation’s integrity. Even if the “bi-partisanship” in question exists everywhere except the Senate chamber. Even if the people the media want Democrats to be bi-partisan with are flat out traitors. For some reason, the news media can report one second how Republicans are trying to undermine democracy by passing vile, anti-democratic new voter suppression laws then demand to know why Democrats aren’t trying hard to “work with” those very same Republicans.

They want to know why Democrats are so reluctant to “bi-partisan” with out-and-out TRAITORS.

Let’s also remember, this Memorial Day, those soldiers who were killed by Afghanis promised cash for shooting American soldiers. That, too, was another Russian instigation.

There is no middle ground here. Either you stand with treason or you stand against it. We know how progressives feel about treason. We also know how conservatives feel about it.

Republicans Now Officially Live At The Intersection Of Ooga & Booga

There’s a reason we all feel like the Republican Party is careening out of control like a deranged, evil clown car packed with explosives (in addition to being packed with Republican clowns). Ironically, the news media has, for the most part, stopped using the word “strategy” to describe what Republicans are doing when it’s now most apparent that this madness IS their “strategy”. The old rubric says if you don’t have the truth, argue the process; if you don’t have process, bang your fists on the table. Republicans are flipping the table over, dismantling it and setting it (and the whole courthouse) on fire. The Hill reported this morning that, in a recent poll, fifteen percent of Republicans now believe that “…the government and other entities are controlled by Satan-worshipping pedophiles running a child sex trafficking ring”. That’s in addition to 53% who believe Trump is still president and that Joe Biden and the Democrats stole the election from him. That — and it’s ludicrous that it needs to be said — is rubbish. It’s bullshit that any of us has to qualify ourselves and our truth-telling bona fides against a person and a party famous for their blatant disregard for truth.

The modern GOP is what happens when lies and truth become indiscernible. When what happened in the past is a function of what those in power need it to be. It’s not a coincidence that Republican culture is grievance culture is white supremacist culture. And white supremacist culture is one hundred percent fear culture. White supremacists have convinced themselves that white people are genuinely superior (a thing totally unsupported by all evidence) and that God has chosen them to rule the planet on his behalf. Once you’ve put that idea into your own head — that a deity mighty enough to create literally everything has chosen you to speak for him because you’re “special”? You’ll pretty much always believe it. Why wouldn’t you? Having God on your side — or in your pocket even? That’s heady stuff!

Our news media can’t imagine how or why Republicans believe The Big Lie. The news media, always happy to carry water for Republicans, continue to report Republicans refusing to acknowledge Joe Biden’s legitimacy or the need for a January 6 Truth Commission as if they were legitimate, concerns by serious people. FFS – how much bullshit must a journalist endure before he or she is willing to call the stuff being spewed at them “bullshit”? If the answer is “an infinite amount” then we’re doomed. It gets worse, of course, when said journalist takes the bullshit that’s been spewed at them and holds it up as “possible”. It usually comes in the form of a “Yeah, but what if bullshit was true…?” kind of question. What if the murderer/thief/rapist was justified? What if the high crime wasn’t that big a deal? What if the end of democracy was just another thing that could happen?

On the one hand, Republicans are at the point where literally nothing except survival matters. They’ve committed treason — or been suspicious or aware that possibly treasonous acts occurred but said NOTHING. That makes them co-conspirators. That puts them in extreme legal jeopardy — a baseline fact. But then, plenty of Republicans are also deeply religious (Christian mostly of course). If they ‘re even remotely devout, that means they’ve accepted as “Gospel Truth” a lot of things that simply could not and did not happen. If one is willing to believe in all sincerity that a sky deity had sex with a female human virgin in order to impregnate her with a man-god tasked with dying for humanity’s sins (all caused by the first woman eating a piece of fruit cos a talking snake told her to), then truly one might believe almost anything.

Not all Republicans live at the intersection of Ooga & Booga, their belief system utterly fungible. Plenty live in the sewer beneath that intersection.

There’s No Point Being “Honest” With Everyone Else If You Can’t Be Honest About Yourself First

There’s an iconic film moment in the movie “A Few Good Men”. Military JAG officer Tom Cruise has the movie’s villain (played by Jack Nicholson) on the stand where he’s pressed him hard to get at “the truth”. Nicholson’s Colonel Jessep barks: “You can’t HANDLE the truth!” Of course, in the movie (written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Rob Reiner, both very progressive), we’re meant to shake our heads at Jessep’s arrogance. Of course we can handle the Truth. Ah, but, can we? Can any of us really handle the Truth about who we are and where we are in our lives versus where we wished we’d be? As much as I advocate in this blog for “living bullshit free”, the unvarnished truth about humans is we need a certain amount of bullshit just to get through each day. Hell, we need a certain amount of bullshit just to justify getting through most days. Especially these days.

The trap in being honest with ourselves is if we equate being honest with being judged. The reason we don’t want to be honest is because we don’t want to be judged — especially if we’re just “being honest”. Inside our own heads though, things get grey. We don’t judge ourselves the way we judge others. We couldn’t stand it if we did. But, if we could push past that kneejerk judgment, let our psychological hair down and run free, we’d probably be shocked by the stone, cold truth about ourselves. That’s neither good nor bad. It’s just the Truth.

For instance: none of us can say whether or not we’re racist. It’s not up to us. It’s up to anyone toward whom we may have been racist. IF someone were to accuse us of being a racist (or bigoted or misogynist in any way), would we accept hearing such a terrible TRUTH about ourselves? Or would we insist the “truth” was otherwise — something kinder and gentler toward us? Being honest with oneself is hard, hard work. But the payoffs are considerable. Important detail: being totally honest with yourself about yourself must precede any attempt to be totally honest about anyone else.
If you’re doing it right, being honest with yourself about yourself is pretty much a full time job all by itself. You won’t have time to give others the “benefit” of your honesty. If the world was working the way it should, all those others will be as consumed as you will be by the work involved in patrolling their own “perimeters of truth”.

One of the first benefits of being honest with oneself however is how it opens one’s eyes to the myriad ways OTHERS aren’t being honest with themselves but with some very important, very human context around it. On the one hand, that can make us more empathetic to why and how others dance around the truth. On the other, the context makes it crystal clear when others aren’t being “truthful” about WHY they’re dancing as fast as they’re dancing: they’re being cynical. Or, worse, corrupt.

The whole point of being honest with oneself is to “vaccinate” against bullshit and bullshit’s influence on our psyches.

Cutting ourselves slack is completely understandable. We all have to live inside our own heads. But, we have to recognize (if only to ourselves) that that’s what we’re doing. Again, the point isn’t to judge, it’s merely to RECOGNIZE what really is versus what isn’t and probably never was.

There is not a Republican Congressperson alive right now who doesn’t know what they’re really doing. They KNOW they’re not working to make America a stronger democracy dedicated to expanding its electorate. They KNOW that what they’re doing will, in fact, undermine American’s democracy because that is the point. If you can’t win elections via the strength of your ideas and arguments, you’re going to have to “win” elections by “other means”. Republicans don’t suppress Democratic voters because they believe in democracy, they do it because they fear democracy. That’s not a judgment; it’s a stone cold FACT.

Hey, look — Republicans aren’t “obligated” to want the greatest experiment in human self government to continue. They are obligated however to be honest about their intentions. And, if they refuse to be honest about themselves, it’s incumbent on our news media to force them to be honest. That’s their Constitutionally mandated mission — to be the final check on power. Honesty and sunlight — they both work wonders on a dark, corrupt world.

In Hamlet, Shakespeare put it this way: “To thine own self, be true”. Of course, the person giving that advice (Polonius) is a deceptive skunk, but the sentiment’s right. We can only really be honest — and the sunlight can only do what we need it to do — if we begin the process with ourselves to ourselves.

Conservatism And Corruption Have Always Been Fellow Travelers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah… “both sides ‘do it’.”

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

We Have To Stop Telling Ourselves Republicans Get Away With Things When WE’RE The Ones LETTING THEM Get Away With Things

Republicans having to bend democracy to its will is not a new thing. They’ve been doing it ever since it dawned on them that a rapidly diversifying America had already ended their cultural hegemony. You don’t suppress your own voters, right? You suppress the other guy’s — because they won’t vote for you. Political parties gerrymander Congressional districts in order to pick their voters before voters have a chance to pick them. If Republicans thought they could win elections based on the strength of their ideas, they’d happily win that way. But they can’t. So, they do everything they can to circumvent the majority. Until that majority actually does something to stop them, they’ll persist — like the pathogen they are inside our body politic.

We The People are a majority. Let’s start with that fact. Election after election after election, the MAJORITY of Americans vote AGAINST Republicans and Republican policies. Republicans have not in any way spoken for a majority of Americans since 1996. Keep in mind, our system does not reflect a level playing field. There are reasons we have 50 states today and not 51 or 52. There are reasons we have TWO Dakotas (and it ain’t because there were too many Dakotans for one Dakota), two Virginias, two Carolinas. Democratic Senators — there are 50 — represent 41.5 million more Americans than Republican Senators!

If Republicans were pushing America toward some ideological goal, it would be one thing. In the old days, they used to pretend that that’s what they were doing. Travel writer Stuart Stevens has been involved in Republican politics since the early 1990’s. Growing up in Mississippi in the 1960’s, Stevens saw the Democrats as “Good ol’ boy segregationists” which is exactly what the Southern Democrats/Dixiecrats were. That’s why he joined the GOP. But, Nixon’s “southern strategy” incorporated the racist Dixiecrats into the GOP. He finished the swap historian Heather Cox Richardson describes in her excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party”. The names “Democrat” and “Republican” are almost meaningless in an historical sense. If you were to read the “Party of Lincoln’s” foundational documents, you’d swear you were reading something the modern Democratic Party put forward.

Understanding that bit of history helps explain modern Republicans and modern Republicanism. As Stevens himself puts it in his book “It Was All A Lie”, Ever since Reagan, Republicans have been deliberately and knowingly pedaling a lie to America — about themselves but also about us. About America. Republicans recognized post Reaganism that their hold on American culture was doomed. The demographics said so. Not just the demographics of who was coming to America, but the demographics of who had been in America for a long time already — and was suddenly realizing the power of their vote. The dirty, dirty secret Stevens gives up: Republicans knew the culture war was lost before they declared it on the rest of America. The whole point of the exercise was to seize power in whatever way they could — and then old onto it for dear life.

Republicans regard the rest of us cynically but their survival instincts aren’t wrong. If they could just tweak those instincts away from unilateralism and toward power-sharing, they might yet survive. Ah, but Republicans are all schoolyard bullies by nature. And there is the fact that they’ve committed treason in order to attain power and retain power. They’ve thrown their lot in with treason; there’ll be no coming back from that. That, absolutely, is one thing both sides don’t do.

The first wrong idea we have to let go of is that Republicans get away with everything. Yes, in the past, they mostly have. But then there was Watergate and Iran-Contra — two episodes where Republican corruption became so overwhelming we finally did something to corral it. So, we DO have it in us to put our foot down and say “Enough!” The second wrong idea we need to disabuse ourselves of is that we can pick and choose what parts of the rule of law to follow. That’s exactly how one breaks the rule of law. For the rule of law to work correctly, it must be applied evenly to everyone or people begin to think the rule of law doesn’t apply to them. That brings us to the third wrong idea — that whatever the rule of law is, it doesn’t apply to us. It absolutely does.

If we started thinking of our situation from the rule of law’s point of view, we’d dismiss the idea of Republicans getting away with any thing completely out of hand. The Universe cannot work that way because the rule of law can’t. That’s how WE The People need to think of the Universe and the rule of law. The rule of law is our arbitrator. And our arbitrator demands satisfaction when anyone stops playing by the rules.

For four years, the Department of Justice was corrupted by a racist, international crime syndicate and its enablers. Republicans are already ruing the fact that Merrick Garland now heads the Department of Justice instead of occupying a SCOTUS seat. Garland’s steadfastness as a level-headed prosecutor has already condemned them. Garland has said out loud that he intends to investigate all the corruption of the past four years because THAT is what the American People demand of their “top cop”. Once Garland’s DoJ begins pulling Republican corruption threads, it won’t take long for the entire Republican Corruption Sweater to fall apart in a massive, stinking, corrupt heap.

The fact is, Donald Trump will NOT get away with this. We have to stop thinking it might not happen. Rather, We The People need to think it can’t NOT happen. That way, were it not to, we’d come at it from the proper place: it should have happened & we still want it to. Were Trump to get away with what he’s done to us, we need to be willing to shut America down until that situation gets rectified. In a sense, we’ll have zero choice. Were Trump to get away with what he’s done, it would mean the American experiment is indeed over. Democracy has lost while treason and corruption have triumphed.

The only way that becomes reality is if we let it.

Things You Must Believe If You Want To Be A Practicing Conservative

For the longest time in this country, conservatives presented themselves as America’s perpetual adults in the room. That was the GOP’s wink to America at the end of the 2016 coup d’etat: “Don’t worry your pretty little selves about Donald Trump, America, whenever he tries to go too far, the “adults in the room” will reel him in!” Problem was (and is), the “adults in the room” were corrupt children who’d broken into the liquor cabinet, drained it dry, then set about burning the whole house down to cover up their liquor theft. The Republicans have NEVER been in control of Trump, rather they’ve been in his thrall and at his mercy. You can’t be in business with Trump without being compromised by him. Or stiffed by him. Or abused by him or betrayed by him. None of that is news to conservatives. They’ve always known who Trump was. They’ve always known he was corrupt. Some of them knew he was a traitor, too. And yet, that fact didn’t seem to change anything.

Why would anyone overlook Trump’s terrible, criminal behavior? Obviously, there must be something in it for them. How do you go from “believing” as Lindsey Graham did in 2016, that making Trump their nominee would be the end of the Republican party —

— to believing now (as Lindsey does) that without Trump, there is no Republican Party? That’s quite a swing — if you see only the swing. I have a feeling we’re going to understand exactly what made Lindsey swing like that: kompromat. I bet we’ll hear a story about how, one day, on the golf course (early in their relationship), Trump let Lindsey know what he and Russia had on him — and how hard they were willing to play that information. It must be way more than just embarrassing (surely Lindsey knows that if he’s worried about being outed, no one cares about that anymore). It must be downright criminal what Lindsey was photographed doing. Shame about his distaste for sexual partners with pubic hair.

Does Lindsey really believe it when he insists Trump was a great POTUS? Of course not. Lindsey doesn’t believe IN anything. He’s as cynical as he is crooked — and that’s a lot of crooked. So what does Lindsey or any Republican “believe”?

Being cynical, they assume everyone’s as big a scumbag as they are. Isn’t everyone heartless and greedy? Being white-entitled, they think they ‘re all gods. Heartless, greedy gods aren’t good for anyone who encounters them. Conservatives believe that “how the world was” is far better than how it is now and not even comparable to how might become if Progressives have their way. But, the name “conservative” itself does all the heavy lifting. It tells us clearly and transparently what conservatives want at the end of the day: they want to conserve. Okay — so, WHAT do they want to conserve?

Well, obviously one can’t “conserve” the future since it hasn’t happened. That leaves the present and the past. Conservatives would be perfectly happy if all progress stopped right now and the world was guaranteed that how things are now is how they’ll always be forever and ever. That, after outright living in the past, would be every conservative’s wet dream. What of the past does any conservative want to conserve? That’s the question. It can’t be the equality back then because there wasn’t any. Can it be how women’s rights were? Uh, no — women didn’t have rights either. Can it be because we treated the LGTBQ community better? Good one! Back then, we treated that community even worse! Back then, we used a religious manuscript to justify slavery. More recently the same people used their Bibles to justify anti-miscegenation laws.

The Bible is every conservative’s favorite book though they’ve only ever read it for the “good parts” — the parts that justified their terrible behavior. Most conservatives are also deeply religious — or, at least, they say they’re religious. Most of them are utterly phony. They will insist they believe in a higher power — a God who smiles upon them because they are righteous! Surely, considering their good fortune, God must be smiling upon them — so therefore God likes them! God sees how special they are and communicates that fact to them. And, ya know, God doesn’t do that with everyone. Most people don’t get the “special treatment” from God. But this guy does.

Imagine being so beloved by God — and knowing it! That’s the tell. “Knowing” they’re “loved by God”. Hey, God talks to them and through them, doesn’t He? When things happen, they know what God’s take is without even having to think about it — that’s how well they know God: they even think like him! Don’tcha know? They think like God because they ARE God. That is every uber-theist’s big secret: they don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God.

That’s what every conservative believes in the rock bottomest part of their blacker-than-coal hearts: they are God. They are the supreme power in the universe — and just you wait till all they start using the magic that apparently comes with the title. They will hurt us in ways that haven’t even been invented yet because that’s what Gods do.

That is the thing pretty much every conservative enters believing: in the beginning, there was them. THAT is what they want to “conserve”.

You Say “To-May-To”, I Say “To-Mah-To”; You Say “Republican”, I Say “Criminal”

Actually, no matter which way you “pronounce” their names, Republicans are criminals. They’re racists, too. And anti-Semites. And misogynists. They’re corrupt — almost every one of them. And, bottom line, traitors. Even if each Republican in question isn’t 100% corrupt or 100% anti-Semitic (they like Jews roughly 30% of the time, when a Jew is doing their taxes or defending them in court), the fact that they stand with anti-Semites (guys who wear “Camp Auschwitz” t-shirts) MAKES them just as anti-Semitic. Hate spreads like cooties. We have to assume, being a hater, you refused to socially distance yourself and won’t wear a mask. It’s a pretty safe bet you’ve caught the whole suite of diseases. The Republican Party’s leadership knew even before they NOMINATED Donald Trump as their presidential candidate that he was CORRUPT — owned outright by Russia.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” said current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy upon entering a meeting of the Republican leadership a month before their 2016 convention. A discussion broke out. No one said “What? Kevin — dude, are ya SURE about this?” No one said “Whoa — that’s a problem! Somebody, quick — get the FBI on the phone — it’s our patriotic duty!” No, instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan corralled the troops. They were going to keep their KNOWLEDGE (even their suspicions) to themselves. “That’s how we know we’re family”, said Paul Ryan.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan aren’t hounded by that question — WHY DIDN’T ANYONE CALL THE FBI? Considering how impactful Russia’s been in retrospect? It seems like a question that needs answering. Why was it acceptable to them that Trump (and Rohrbacher) were being paid by a hostile foreign power? What was acceptable about even chancing it that a man compromised by Russian intelligence might win the presidency? At that moment, the GOP should have dug in its heels and said “STOP!”

The second that happened, the Republican Party crossed the line from being a legitimate political party to being criminals — traitors who themselves were already compromised by the same hostile foreign power. See something, SAY SOMETHING, see something, say nothing? WHY? Why say nothing? Who are you protecting with your silence? One does not have to be an active participant in the crime in question for the law to see you as a co-conspirator in it. Your silence — if you even suspected what the criminals were up to — damns you. WHY DIDN’T YOU SPEAK UP? There are no “good” reasons.

Even Lindsey Graham understood what would happen if the Republican Party continued down the road of making Trump their nominee: “I think he’s a kook“, said Lindsey, and “If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed… and we will deserve it.” Yeah, Lindsey — you WILL deserve it. The thing that terrifies Republicans more than anything right now is the idea of Merrick Garland finally punching the clock at the Department of Justice. That’s the “newly refurbished” DoJ (the one no longer functioning as a corrupt gangster president’s consigliere). Garland’s DoJ will rededicate itself to Justice. As Joe Biden has correctly insisted, whether or not the DoJ goes after Trump — or anyone — isn’t up to him. It’s a function of whether or not they might have broken the law. If they did? They now have a legal problem.

As all Trump’s insurrectionists are learning the hard way, defending yourself against federal charges is a very expensive proposition. Those billable hours cost a bomb — and there’s going to be a kajillion of them. I sure hope all those insurrectionists are independently wealthy. This could bankrupt their families for a generation otherwise. The GOP also is beginning to learn the cost of being pro seditionist. It’s really bad for business. America’s economy is a consumer economy. We rely on consumers buying our goods and services. But, when Americans don’t like your politics, they can be motivated to stop buying your products. The reason Bill O’Reilly no longer has a show on Fox’s air is because Fox News was told by its advertisers that women — who make most of the big buying decisions in American households these days — would not buy products that advertised with O’Reilly because they felt O’Reilly was a sexist pig. Even though, at the time, Bill O was Fox News’ biggest cash cow, they sacrificed him.

The Republican Party has lost most of its big corporate sponsors. Ford and Coca Cola don’t want to co-brand with sedition. A political party that refuses to acknowledge the peaceful transfer of power presents a problem to corporate money — that’s why they’ve suspended donating to the GOP (in some cases until the party stops insisting that Trump’s “2020 victory” was “stolen from him” Just wait till Merrick Garland’s DoJ begins exposing how Trump’s 2016 victory also was stolen — from Hillary Clinton and from We The People. The election result we voted for is not the result we got because Russia literally HANDED TRUMP the win. We The People are crime victims here. Our will has been denied. It was OUR RESULT that got “stolen”.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays” said Kevin.

Hmmmmmmmm… On second thought, you say “Republican”, I say “traitor”.

Question: Is Liz Cheney Or Marjorie Taylor Green The “Real” Republican Party? Better Question: Who Cares?

Yesterday, the Republican House membership met behind closed doors to choose which direction to point their party toward: old school Republicanism (that pretends it wants small government & more freedom for the individual) or utter chaos. On the surface, chaos won with a standing ovation. But, when they took the vote using secret ballots? Conventionality won. Uh oh — that means more than a few of those standing and applauding chaos were lying. Who could possibly have seen that coming?

Republicans — true to their whiteness — love exclusivity. When it comes to being a Republican — or an American or a Christian — Republicans tend to see themselves as the epitome. They are the true faith and all not like them are apostates. In their minds, they are the ideal members of a any club of which they are a member. What are we poor outsiders to make of it then when TWO white, Christian Republicans claim THEY represent “the true faith” and the other does not?”

Belonging — and not belonging — are very important concepts to Republicans. It’s a characteristic that sets them apart from Democrats. When you allow for diversity, you also have to allow for all the different ways that different people are. “Belonging” to the group becomes more nuanced because how you demonstrate your “belonging to the group” will reflect who you are and why you have chosen to belong to the group. Democrats can’t march in lockstep the way Republicans do. Ironically, Republicans spout their love for the individual over the group but, really, what they love is the individual’s ability to make money in whatever way he wants to. While getting rich however, that individual better do what the group tells him to do. Or he won’t be in the group anymore.

These same Republicans — who will tell you who the real Republicans are — will also tell you who the real Christians and the real Americans are too. It’s them, of course. “Real” Christians (them) see Jesus as the “Do Unto Others” Happy Meal McMascot misrepresenting a church menu of crushing, judgmental “Do What We Say Or Else” dogma. They do the same thing with patriotism. Americans look like them. Anyone else is a pretender. They’re good enough to fight and die as volunteers in our army but letting them vote — now, that’s going just a little too far.

The “modern” Republican Party — if we use the party’s foundational documents as a guide (I highly recommend Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party” to guide you) — are not Republicans. The Party of Lincoln — just going by its own principles — has swapped names with the Democrats. Abe Lincoln, if he were to rise from the dead, would NOT join the modern Republican Party; he wouldn’t recognize them as “Republicans”. But then, if Jesus were to pull of the same magic trick — and rise from the dead for real — he wouldn’t hang out with most people who call themselves “Christians”. Jesus would be baffled, to begin with, that there even are Christians. To him, any followers would be Jews since Jews are the only people he ever preached to — or expected to preach to. Jews even back then did not proselytize.

But, Republicans proselytize. They insist THEY are “the good news” — haven’t you heard? They proselytize their patriotism the exact same way. And their party loyalty.

Asking “who’s a better Republican” is exactly like asking “who’s a better pirate?” Honestly? Who the hell cares? A pox on all their pirate ships!

Mitch McConnell Doesn’t Speak English; He Speaks “White Bamboozlement”

Let’s not mince words: Mitch McConnell is a traitor. His name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet Americans use when they want to call someone a “traitor”. Every mealy-mouthed word that Mitch mumbles is literally soaked in cynicism. He is the banality of evil writ large. But, make no mistake, Mitch IS evil. And the banal way he expresses that evil demands our attention. First, one has to realize that the words droning from Mitch may sound like English, but they’re not. They’re a language spoken by Mitch and a coterie of wealthy, white, Christian Republicans: “white bamboozlement”.

Example — re reparations to Black people for what slavery did to their families, to their rights, to their wealth, to their lives, to their history, to their status in America today, to justice, to fairness, to ever doing the right thing for the right thing’s sake, Mitch said THIS in 2019:Republican C

“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea. We’ve, you know, tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African-American president. I think we’re always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for that. And I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it. First of all, it would be pretty hard to figure out who to compensate. We’ve had waves of immigrants, as well, who have come to the country and experienced dramatic discrimination of one kind or another. So, no, I don’t think reparations are a good idea.

Betcha if the roles were reversed, Mitch wouldn’t feel that way. But then, Mitch’s attitude is based on the fact that Mitch and people like him have ALWAYS had the advantage, ALWAYS abused the advantage and ALWAYS will resist giving up that advantage. They believe advantage is their birth right.

A shame they’re wrong. White Bamboozlement is white people thinking everyone they’ve abused should just forgive and forget the abuse.

Another example: Mitch said in 2016, when Obama was POTUS and Antonin Scalia’s conservative seat (point of fact — SCOTUS seats don’t have political labels!) came open with 9 months to go till the 2016 election: Mitch said, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” True to his despicable word, Mitch did not grant Merrick Garland (soon to be our Attorney General) so much as a hearing. However, in 2020, Mitch crammed Amy Barrett down America’s unwilling throat in record time, soup to nuts in two weeks. Ruth Bader Ginsberg wasn’t even in the ground before Mitch dug his treason turtle claws into her seat.

White Bamboozlement.

Today, Mitch asserts all kinds of bullshit, phrased in that special way he has. But, when Mitch says he speaks for America or “the American people”, he most certainly is not. Registered Republicans account for just 29% of Americans vs Democrats who account for 33% of us. Independents make up the largest part — 34%. Of those Independents, 49% either identify as Democrats or lean to the party, while 44% identify as Republicans. Contrary to decades of Republican mythmaking, America is not now (nor has it been for a long, long time) a “middle-conservative” country. Now, more than ever, America is a centrist-Progressive country with so much yet to learn but also so much to teach.

One thing we’ve learned — People like Mitch who speak “White Bamboozlement”, aren’t interested in making America the best it can be even when it sounds like it. That’s the genius of “white bamboozlement” as a language. Those who speak it, understand intrinsically that none of the words actually mean anything.

Repeat after me, please: WHITE BAMBOOZLEMENT.