Things Both Sides Don’t Do

The fundamental flaw of “both sides do it” journalism is that it’s inherently untrue. Democrats and Republicans both seek public office and both want to run he country “their way”, but aside from that? The two sides — conservative and progressive (let’s stick a pin in “Democrat” & “Republican”) — have almost nothing in common. They see the world in diametrically opposite terms. Conservatives value the past as much as they fear the future and any prospect for change. The past isn’t an abstraction for conservatives, it’s their goal; they want to take America back into a time in its past (the 1850’s) where everyone knew their place — men, women, Black people… . The problem with democracy and everyone voting — from the Republican point of view — is that when more Americans exercise their right to vote, they vote against Republicans. Who can blame them? No one wants to return to an era when only white, wealthy, land-owning, Christian men held power — except white Christian men.

Both sides did not condone slavery. The Republican Party that Lincoln joined is not the Republican Party that worships Donald Trump. Hell, it’s not even the same political party that, until Trump, revered Saint Ronnie Reagan. In her terrific history of the Republican Party “To Make Men Free”, historian Heather Cox Richardson describes a party that, if you only read its founding principles, you’d swear was the modern Democrats. When Teddy Roosevelt felt his progressivism shining brightly inside of him, he quit the GOP and formed a third party (the Bull Moose Party) because the Republicans had already strayed far beyond their principles. When the Republican Party formed itself, it WAS the “progressive” party.

Eisenhower was probably the last Republican with a conscience. The next Republican to take the White House was Nixon. Until Reagan, Nixon was the Republican rallying point. On the day he resigned from office — because of Watergate — Nixon’s approval rating sat at 29%. That same psychotic faction now sits above 30%. They’re nowhere near half of us however nor will they ever be. That will be our saving grace. When Eisenhower warned us about the “military-industrial complex”, it wasn’t progressives that Republican president was worried about, it was fellow Republicans.

Eisenhower was a decent man. But, decency aside, it still took him years to finally condemn Joe McCarthy in public. Both sides do not declare war on other Americans’ patriotism the way Republicans — excuse me, the way CONSERVATIVES do. Only one side does that — and, ironically, Republicans aren’t shy about questioning each others’ patriotism either.

Both sides don’t live in the past. Both sides don’t emulate the past. Both sides don’t revere the past. Both sides don’t harbor a secret desire to return to slavery days again. Both sides don’t see diversity as terrifying. Both sides don’t preach Christianity from one side of their heads while hypocritically contradicting every last bit of it. Both sides don’t stand with racists.

By the same token, both sides don’t stand with RAPISTS either. Only the GOP does that. Only the GOP.

Both sides don’t favor profits over people.

By the same token — both sides don’t back a living minimum wage. Only the Democrats back that. Only one side favors free public education all the way up through college or trade school. Only one side prefers to see as many Americans as possible saddled with massive student debt. Only one wide believes health CARE (not insurance, CARE) is a human right. It ain’t the Republicans. One side believes every single eligible American should get to vote — and that their votes should be counted. Again — NOT the Republicans.

One side believes that the best possible America will arise when the most Americans possible benefit from our freedoms. One side believes in altering how America thinks of “Infrastructure” to include what it always should have — the human infrastructure that keeps our whole society running. Only one side believes in fairness across the board, believes that rich people should pay their FAIR share in taxes.

Only one side believes in a woman’s right to choose her own reproductive future. Only one side believes that racism and bigotry and misogyny are evils.

Only one side declared Cultural Holy War against the other (a war Newt Gingrich declared on the left — a war the right is still waging).

Only one side saw demographic oblivion in a diversifying America — and made the CHOICE to undermine our democracy as a result. Only one side cynically hitched its wagon to Donald Trump even though they KNEW for a fact that Russia owned him.

Only one side — having chosen to commit treason alongside Trump — has done everything in its power to obstruct every facet of oversight or investigation into what Trump and the Republican Party did. Only one side has perjured itself and lied on a regular basis.

Only one side took part in the January 6 Insurrection. Only one side now calls what happened a “non event” or just “regular tourism”. Only one side is doing everything in its power to restrict voting rights in the face of the most secure election ever — where more Americans voted than ever.

Only one side refuses to vaccinate itself or its children. Only one side doesn’t care if it infects you or me or everyone they know — including their children.

I could go on.

Both sides do not behave like thugs, bullies and pirates. Only Republicans are good at marching in lock step like the wannabe Nazis they are. Democrats are still every bit the group of whom Will Rogers famously said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”.

When our run-in with history finally begins to slow down a little (which won’t be until we’re well into the punishment phase a few years from now), we’ll need to turn our focus on the news media and the myriad ways they failed America. They confused skepticism with cynicism — the most visible evidence of “both sides do it” and painted every American with the exact same brush. They see a bully trying to take away another American’s right to vote the same way they see the American who’s being bullied of their vote. They’re both just being “political” from our press’s point of view.

We The People deserve far, far better from our news media. They’re not going to fix themselves; hell, most of them can’t even see how deeply complicity they were in creating Trump. It’s going to be incumbent on all of us — the progressives — to “help” our news media become all they’re capable of becoming. They’ll kick and scream every bit of the way, like the recalcitrant children they are.

We Really Can’t Compare What’s Happening To America Right Now With ANYTHING From Our Past

People with zero imagination (like most of our news media) will always look to the past as prologue — and most of the time, it absolutely is. But this is not “most of the time”. You can tell because nothing even remotely like it has ever happened to us before. Richard Nixon may have been breathtakingly corrupt, but at least he wasn’t a traitor. That is what makes Donald Trump and his presidency truly unique in our history. Never before has one of our two main political parties crawled into bed with a hostile foreign power in order to win an election. But then, never before has one of our two parties made it their purpose to bust a cap in democracy’s noggin and, in its place, install a state of permanent minority rule. That is precisely what the Republicans are doing. They’re not exactly being subtle about it. How can it possibly be that more Republicans “believe” Biden stole the presidency from Trump than believe Biden won legitimately? Of course they don’t “believe” that. Everything the GOP does is bullshit kabuki of one kind or another.

Though everything about Trump’s presidency defied convention, our news media to this day insist on seeing Trump through a “conventional” lens. What started with Trump calling Mexicans rapists ended with Trump insisting he was still POTUS. Nothing even remotely conventional happened in between. But, if you insist on viewing it all through a “normal” lens then — as happened with us — rather than stop seeing Trump as normal, our news media reconceived “normal” to include Trump. The proof that they did that? When Joe Biden finally took over — and began to govern the way we’re actually used to, our news media regarded it like IT was “strange”. As if doing the work we need done was the oddity while screaming treasonous absurdities at the top of your lungs was what we expected presidents to do.

Our news media is especially determined — since it’s what almost always happen during a new president’s first mid-term election — that the Republicans will triumph handsomely over the Democrats and re-take the House and Senate, making the rest of Joe Biden’s agenda (including SCOTUS judges) moot. Their basis for thinking that? It’s what NORMALLY happens.

Except it’s not what’s going to happen this time because nothing about this time is “normal”.

For starters, the more Republicans try to restrict voting, the more Democratic voters will do whatever they have to to vote. That’s assuming any of the Republicans’ restrictive voting laws survive till election 2022. Take this to the bank: they won’t. They violate Americans’ civil rights and the current Department of Justice has sworn to prosecute such crimes. I don’t think this is an “if they do “; it’s a whole-hearted “they’re going to and no one’s going to stop them”. That’s because of who’s doing it and what it means to them — women, women of color, men of color, Black people, brown people, Asian people, Latino people, Muslims — they all have a lot to gain from keeping the pressure on.

White hegemony is dying as we speak. Oh, it’s still flailing about wildly which means its still incredibly dangerous. But white hegemony is a minority position.

Were Donald Trump the problem, removing Trump from the equation would have solved the problem. But Trump was merely the symptom of a much larger disease. The Right Wing money — the Kochs, the Mercers, etc — saw demographic oblivion coming at them much quicker than they ever thought it would. They may be greedy but they’re not stupid. They saw clearly that a diverse, majority electorate would never elect a Republican POTUS ever again (unless the GOP could manipulate the Electoral College). They grasped that, in time, a diverse, majority electorate would undo a lot of the gerrymandering and make the house a likely Democratic stronghold; with Representatives having to face re-election every two years, holding the House is always a mercurial proposition. The right focused on two things: holding the Senate and hijacking the judiciary.

The Senate, by design, is tilted heavily toward the Republican party and conservatism. Trust me on this: there aren’t TWO Dakotas because there were too many Dakotans to fit into one. It’s the same reason there are as many western states as there are — what with their teeny-tiny populations that, really, could have been combined into several large states. The Senate therefore over-represents red, rural states and under-represents populated parts of the country. Senate Democrats represent 41.5 million more people than do Senate Republicans. Why that’s the population of pretty much every single Republican western state combined. Plus a lot. If we were shown maps that didn’t break whole states down into red and blue (because, of course, real estate doesn’t vote; nor do the cows on it), we wouldn’t think of Republican power the same way.

Republicans, to their credit, also grasped the importance of holding local power. They understand that if you control the architecture, you can control almost the entire democracy. You can even change it to suit your needs even if you are the minority. Beyond holding the Senate (and losing Georgia was brutal for Mitch McConnell — and it was almost entirely Trump’s fault that the Republicans lost Georgia), the GOP made a point of taking over as many statehouses as they could. Often, their candidates ran either unopposed or opposed by poorly organized, poorly funded Democrats.

The big grab was the judiciary. The Kochs tasked Mitch McConnell with doing everything he could to deny Obama lifetime appointments. The Kochs knew damned well that Trump was in bed with Russia. But then, so were the Kochs and Mercers. The decision to go all in with Trump was done with the full knowledge of who Trump was and what he was guilty of. To the Kochs, controlling the courts — the SCOTUS especially — was more important than even being a loyal American. Apparently they can handle Russia running our country. They can’t handle Black or brown people having political power.

That’s what makes this so confounding. In a very large sense, the problem in front of us IS our past. We had a choice when the country was founded, to legitimize or delegitimize slavery. We chose to legitimize it. We got it into our heads that “All men are created equal” could co-exist beside slavery without anyone noticing it made “All men are created equal” look like total bullshit. Trumpism IS our past — every vile bit of it, rolled into one.

Oh, What A Tangled Web We Weave When We’re A Corrupt Treason Turtle

When the story of our times gets written — with the perspective of history — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be infamous as one of America’s worst traitors ever. Moscow Mitch’s name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet Americans use to call other Americans “traitor”. Mitch still thinks he’s on a grand crusade to re-cast the judiciary as the last bastion of white, Christian male hegemony.

That grand plan isn’t Mitch’s. Mitch McConnell doesn’t do grand plans. He’s a functionary. A petty politician doing the dirty working for Big Money Interests. The Big Money has the grand plans — an unfair world where they all get richer while the rest of us fall further behind, our debt growing, our health failing.

Mitch is their bitch. His job — manifest these terrible, repressive, regressive grand plans into our reality.

That’s why Mitch worked so hard to deny Barack Obama all those federal bench openings. It’s why Mitch denied Obama so much as a hearing for Merrick Garland. Mitch was in the middle of pleasing his masters — of hijacking the judiciary on the sly. Here’s the thing: the popular vote reflects the majority’s voice. Barack Obama was the majority’s voice and choice — to fill every judicial vacancy during his tenure. Our voice and choice was denied us by Mitch McConnell — for the benefit of his masters. That is not hyperbole.

And this is not how our democracy is supposed to work. Not according to the rules or the rule of law.

In addition to destroying the judiciary, Mitch also has destroyed the Senate. Anyone suggesting the Democrats aren’t showing enough comity toward their Republican co-workers needs to shut up. Comity will be reserved for whatever party replaces the Republicans. No one who calls himself “A Republican” can do so without also being a Trumpist. Trumpism & Republicanism are now equal in every way.

Mitch has operated in the shadows for most of his career. He’s about to end his career in the spotlight. That is, his corruption is.

The Democrats are about to retake the Senate. What was a likelihood before is now a dead certainty. RBG’s passing — even without all the additional political baggage — would have moved people to action. It would have motivated tens of millions of women at the very least. Now it’s a question of Legacy. And reproductive rights. And basic health.

What happened in 2018 — that massive blue “wave” — wasn’t a wave. It was the leading edge of a much larger wave. The Trump years have torn every last bit of cover off our various failings. Remember — we didn’t vote for this, this was forced on us. Donald Trump — with massive Russian assistance — stole the outcome of election 2016. Together they stole our intention — what WE wanted this country to do for our benefit and in our name. Their aim is to make that theft permanent.

Their problem: America’s women aren’t down with and aren’t going to be. Ever. That’s Mitch McConnell’s biggest miscalculation of all.

Mitch, when he’s done, will have finished the hard work of turning America’s women into the most potent, dynamic, unstoppable political force in America. He’ll be shocked by how socialist they are by nature. Of course women are more “socialist” — they care above all about their babies and they KNOW from pure experience that it DOES take a “village” to raise a child — of family members and community members and teachers and mentors and coaches and friends. The healthier and happier that village is, the healthier and happier their babies will be.

Women — and I’m generalizing, but biology does impact us in particular ways — think communally — and seek the group’s wisdom before making a decision while men think they alone can fix it. If we look at the current world leaders and how they’ve handled the pandemic, the women — Angela Merkle in Germany, Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand — did especially well in both protecting their people but also protecting their economies.

I’ll go further onto this limb. Merkle and Ardern’s success relative to Trump’s stems in large part from their political and personal strengths and skills but also, to a measurable degree, from their chromosomes. They have a little more empathy baked into their genetics. That radiates in the form of humanity — and then policy.

America truly stands on the precipice. We will go one way or the other. There’s no middle route.

Either Mitch McConnell will see the rot he introduced succeed or Mitch will fail spectacularly with dire, terrible consequences for every single Republican legislator who had the least inkling what Mitch was up to. Keep in mind — Mitch is a traitor. That’s not hyperbole either. He’s taken gobs of Russian money into his campaign coffers (though legally via his PAC but not-so-legally with added perspective), denied We The People the knowledge that Russia was fixing the 2016 election for Trump, canned the sanctions Obama implemented BECAUSE of that election interference and TO THIS DAY has refused to spend a penny on election security.

Mitch McConnell is one of the biggest traitors in all American history. And THAT isn’t hyperbole.

It’s vitally important that we not only punish Mitch McConnell for what he’s done but that we punish him to the very fullest extent the rule of law allows. We need to make an example out of Mitch for all time. We need to send the lesson that, perhaps, would have been sent had we punished Richard Nixon instead of pardoning him — abuse of power (especially at the executive level) is wholly unacceptable.

Mitch is already the architect of his own downfall. We owe it to Mitch to see that those plans get carried out all the way.

So – Let’s Say We DO Have A Second American Civil War — Here’s What Might Happen

Fact: on the day he resigned the presidency because of Watergate, Richard Nixon still drew a 29% approval rating. Though it was Republicans who literally went to the White House and told Nixon it was over, a huge chunk of their party membership didn’t agree.

They wanted Nixon’s lawlessness to continue.

Another fact: more than a third of America (Nixon’s base plus a little more) have no interest in representative democracy and never have. They’ve never celebrated our great experiment in self government, they’ve despised it because they’ve always known that democracy would stamp an end date on white, Christian male rule. White, Christian men all by themselves can’t breed enough to keep up with America’s diversifying population. That’s why so many of them hole up in the woods or go full desert rat so their paranoia and racism can run wild.

As historian Heather Cox Richardson describes in her book How The South Won The Civil War, though the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox — and its army ceased to be — it still went on to win the Peace that followed the war by getting ahold of the narrative. A war fought specifically because of slavery became a war fought over “states’ rights”. Traitors became great generals fighting for a grand but lost cause. The antebellum world — repugnant because of its reliance upon slaves and slavery — became romanticized in our popular culture. In fact popular culture — books, movies — took up the mantle of “The Glorious South” and made the racism upholding it all acceptable.

That’s a pretty good result for the side that got crushed.

Lincoln’s successor — Andrew Johnson — began undermining Reconstruction as soon as it began. Had he not done that, our history might have been very different. We might have mitigated some of the hurt caused by slavery. Instead, we doubled down on institutional racism and, in very many ways, kept the Civil War going albeit deep in our national psyche. The ripple effects haunt us constantly.

As hard as Trump and the GOP want to make voting, it looks like the numbers will simply overwhelm them. Whereas no one was looking for Trump’s cheating in 2016, in this election, he’s made it a feature — so everyone’s looking at it. Never mind that it’s insane to equate a win via cheating with a legitimate win. Trump and the Republicans have managed to offend just about everyone who isn’t a white male Christian (or the women playing beta dog to them). The reason they need to curtail the vote is because the vote will be so massive — and so massively against them. It should be so massive that even flipping votes on voting machines won’t help: the difference will be too vast. Flipping vote tallies that far apart wouldn’t even pass a Republican’s smell test.

This isn’t about the Democrats winning, it’s about winning by a staggering margin. That’s why, despite the positive polling, no one can let up. It is a numbers game. And we may not know for certain on November 3 who won. We may not know officially for a week or more — because all those mail-in ballots must be counted. Trump and the Republicans will begin their Civil War right there and then.

Remember — Trump needs to be POTUS for the rest of his life. The second he stops being president? He’ll be indicted — at the very least by the SDNY where Trump remains the “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Michael Cohen case. Now that we know that Rod Rosenstein prevented both the FBI and Team Mueller from investigating Trump’s relationship with Russia — there’ll be that too. There’ll be civil suits flying from everywhere at Trump. He’ll spend more on lawyers than some countries do on electricity.

Trump can’t and won’t accept defeat. Here in the real world, he will pay for his crimes. One way or another — especially once we’ve wrested control of the presidency, the Senate and the Department of Justice from corrupt Republican control — every last bit of Republican malfeasance and treason will be investigated, tried and punished.

But, let’s pretend for a moment that Trump and his Republican pals take over a big chunk of real estate — threatening a lengthy, violent conflict. In the end, the United States of America cedes the Trumpian States of America Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and the Dakotas. As a kind of “house warming” gift, we put up Trump’s wall for him.

As our view of Trump and his corrupt pals disappears behind that wall, we’ll start a clock running — to see, over time, which version of America prospers and thrives and which doesn’t. Will the United States of America do better — with its belief in e pluribus unum? Or will The Trumpian States of America “Be Best” — proving that a cult-of-personality-worshipping population, their heads filled with magical thinking and white rage can operate like an actual country.

Personally, I give the TSA about six months before things begin falling apart. The brain drain they suffered at the experiment’s start has left them with fantasists & sycophants to solve all their problems. Trump having succumbed to one of his various physical ailments, the TSA is now broken up into fiefdoms run by Ivanka, Junior and even Barron. He and Tiffany have had to team up to avoid getting eaten by their siblings. Another fiefdom is run by Mitch McConnell and the remnants of the Republican Party.

Mitch lives in a castle. He doesn’t care what’s happening outside of it. Same goes for every other Republican muckety-muck. They cashed out. The country doesn’t make anything that anyone wants so the cash flow’s mostly negative (hey — they do have a little mineral wealth and Mount Rushmore driving their “tourism industry”!) The great natural wonders aren’t so great or natural anymore — since plundering them was considered de rigeur.

Life in the TSA is cheap and nasty. It’s mostly white people in-breeding more of that “white superiority that isn’t”. Religion has replaced science in the classroom. Parsimony has replaced every ounce of Christian charity. It’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone’s just another flavor of Alpo.

Meanwhile, across the border, life is hard still because it will take a while to undo the profound, systemic damage Trump caused. But, the damage made systemic change both necessary and easier. Ironically, conservative fear of socialism has created the very “socialized” America that scared them and in record time.

Health CARE is now a right of everyone in America. UBI is a fact of life as is either a fully-paid-for college education or whatever training program someone needs to fully prepare their skill sets. Our bottom line will have shifted from money to people.

That’s renewed the world’s view of America as the place where innovation happens. All those great minds are now turning to climate change and how to mitigate it. Slowly, we turn to face all our other problems too. Removing the racists from our population has definitely helped our racism problem — but everyone has the potential to be racist. It’s hard-wired into us (the potential). We still have to teach ourselves to combat it every single day.

The result? A dynamic country filled with hope and promise. An America way closer to living up to its ideals than ever before.

And then one day, there’s a knock at the door. It’s stragglers fleeing the TSA, looking for asylum.

Behind them, we see more stragglers — looking hungry, fearful and hopeless. The good news? Our strong, prosperous version of America can help them. And will.

When we get to the end of THAT Civil War — the one that ends with our banging economy and their whimpering — I hope we have the good sense to get our historians writing. This time, in addition to winning the war, let’s win the damned peace.

At least let’s make our movie version of what happened better than theirs. Not that it will be hard.

The Truth Is, America’s Never Actually Been Very Good At “Democracy”

As shocking as it is that we’ve come to this, it’s even more shocking that, to a third of the country, “this” makes them happy. They’re glad America has come to this.

Racists are never going to like Democracy because every election is a gamble — that is, if you let everybody vote. The whole point of voter suppression and gerrymandering is make the gamble almost negligible as a gamble. If less Democratic voters turn out because they 1) couldn’t register or 2) registered but couldn’t spend ten hours in line to vote, that’s as good as a vote against whatever the Democrats wanted. This is not a new game. And though it’s wrong to shame the victim — and the Democrats have always been the Republicans’ victim — the Democrats have known since Nixon (and before) how Republicans ticked. After a while, one has to stand up for oneself because no one else is going to.

On the day he resigned from office because of Watergate, Nixon’s approval rating sat around 29%. His guilt was so undeniable that a delegation of Republicans (including Barry Goldwater — the conservative’s conservative) went to Nixon to tell him he had to resign. That’s how bad it was then. The 30% is still there. They’ve filled out a bit but they’re still very much there.

So, a third of the country couldn’t care less if America sinks into authoritarianism. In fact, they’d celebrate if it happened. With a (theoretical) 70% majority, you’d think the rest of us would have long ago figured out how to keep the crazies in check. But half that 70% doesn’t care about politics (or didn’t). In America, we think 50% – 60% of the voters showing up at election time is success. Hopefully the days of disengagement are over. But, for now, all we can point at is our history.

Come election time, too many of us stay home. In 2016, 138 million of us voted. Unfortunately that was only 56% of eligible voters. That’s over 40% of American voters never showing up to meet their most basic, most important, most innately democratic responsibility as American citizens.

Source: Pew Research Center

Ben Franklin saw us coming. As he observed 240 years ago — Republic’s are wonderful things — if you can keep them. They don’t get kept by accident.

Keeping a republic alive and well is damned hard work. Of all Americans, the people who’ve worked hardest to keep our republic alive are African Americans. They should have bailed on us eons ago. But they understood how important liberty was because they didn’t have it. It wasn’t just a word to them or an abstraction. It was something they wanted above all else. Nothing fancy — just the equal treatment before the law that the Constitution theoretically guarantees.

We kinda screwed the pooch right at the beginning. “All men are created equal” and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. You can’t hold those two ideas in your head and not lose your mind. And look how hard we made it for women to vote. Where’s the “democratic” in that?

The truth is, we’ve always talked a better game about democracy than we’ve ever delivered. Good thing that’s fixable. First thing we need to do is shut up. That is, white men need to shut up. We need to step back from the controls and let others have a go at it. After they finish fixing the mess we made of it, who knows? America might finally live up to its own ideals.

If we followed the lead of African American women especially — they will have been the true saviors of American democracy — we might even get good at democracy eventually. That’s not guaranteed. But, if white men listen — if we let the genius of E Pluribus Unum (that’s what makes America exceptional — diversity, not white guys and their money) wash over us — we might could learn how to be better.

The Rule Of Law Didn’t Let Us Down, We Let IT Down

Laws don’t enforce themselves. People have to do that for them. If people don’t enforce the rules they created for themselves, they shouldn’t be surprised when the rules stop being followed.

The Great Experiment that is the United States is its reliance upon law — not an individual ruler’s whims — as the basis for our co-existence with each other. In theory, the rule of law treats us as exactly equal before it. If I break a law, I will get treated the exact same as anyone else. The rule of law does not differentiate or make exceptions.

It’s the exceptions that ultimately kill the rule of law. The moment the rule of law treats one person differently, it opens the door to corruption. Others will want the same treatment. Some will get it. The rule of law is now broken.

Or is it? The rule of law hasn’t changed. It didn’t suddenly do something different that altered how it works. It didn’t slip out of gear or get a flat tire.

We stopped following it.

The fact that Donald Trump has never been punished for his overt criminality isn’t a proof that he can get away with anything because the rule of law doesn’t work, it’s proof that people let Trump get away with things because they refuse to enforce the rule of law against him. Not the same thing.

Trump thinks he can get away with shit because rich people, in general, get away with shit. Aside from Bernie Madoff — who got punished because he preyed on rich people — not many rich people ever have to pay for their criminal behavior. We made a terrible mistake allowing Gerald Ford to pardon Richard Nixon. Whatever short term “good feelings” were gained from an act of forgiveness were overshadowed by the even more criminal behavior of the former Nixonites who went to work for Trump: Paul Manafort and Roger Stone in particular.

If we had punished Nixon severely for his trespasses, would his sycohpants have been so quick to take up Nixon’s cause again? Yeah, guys like Haldeman and Ehrlichman went to prison, but Nixon didn’t — and that spoke louder to the Nixonites who managed to escape back into the shadows. The message wasn’t “don’t do it!”, it was “do it better so you don’t get caught!”

That was us letting the rule of law down. The rule of law’s still good, we said, except as it applies to Richard Nixon.

Nixon went on to rise from the ashes again. His reputation — which should have been stuck forever at “he IS a crook — saw him as a statesman again.

I guess it’s a white people thing — to let white people we perceive as “powerful” get away with anything they want. Cos “powerful”. And white.

We need to get it out of our heads that the rule of law stopped. It did not. We stopped following it — but the rule of law persisted. In order to win election 2016, Donald Trump & the GOP had to stop following the rule of law. That means a crime has gone unpunished, not that Trump is president.

Donald Trump & the Republican Party stole something very real in 2016. They stole the election’s real outcome. The fact that Trump, Russia and the GOP worked so hard to make that happen — that speaks to the nature of their conspiracy. Though it may not have been plotted out like in a movie — this fell together in pieces, jollied along by Russia as needed. Voter suppression, voter machine manipulation (we don’t know IF it happened but we don’t know it didn’t because no one has actually looked) and outright data theft: those stolen emails were first & foremost STOLEN.

It doesn’t matter what the emails said (in the end they said nothing). It matters only that they were stolen property being used nefariously by Russia. Every time the press danced along to “But her emails”, the press was buying into a bunch of thieves kicking their victim a little bit harder.

As Saint Ronnie Reagan would have put it, “There you go again”.

That was us letting the rule of law down — again.

The Democrats can’t “wait” till November — with a blowout in hand — to assert the rule of law’s return. They need to assert it’s return NOW. As Joe Biden did when he pointedly called out Russia for their intercessions in 2016 and now, We The people need to put Donald Trump & the GOP on notice: we see you openly committing crimes this very second — and we intend to prosecute you for it — starting with the crimes you committed on your way to stealing the presidency — and everything that came with that (judges especially).

The whole point of the Republican Party’s gambit was to undermine the rule of law. That deserves appropriate punishment. We owe it to the Republicans to tell them what’s coming — and then we owe it to ourselves and the rule of law to deliver it.

I’m Pretty Sure Republicans Don’t Grasp Yet How Incredibly Angry America Is At Them, But They Will…

Donald Trump trailing toilet paper as he boards Air Force One. Could the symbolism be any clearer?

Trump’s the poster boy for people incapable of self-reflection. “I alone can fix it” is his own personal testament to the depths of his narcissism. Silly us — we misunderstood what Trump meant by “fix it”.

The Democratic Party is guilty of helping to maintain institutional racism. The GOP on the other hand is guilty of the full spectrum of racism.

Let’s not forget how we got here. Fearing demographic extinction (a shrinking pool of Christian, white male voters vs a growing pool of everyone else), the RW money (the Kochs & Mercers among others) initiated a deliberate attempt to seize political power from the majority and invest it PERMANENTLY in the minority. Though Donald Trump was not the RW Money’s vehicle of choice, the simple fact was Russia had compromised so much of the Republican Party that the money simply threw in with Trump — figuring they’d deal with him later.

Except later never came — and was never going to. The RW Money had learned to hold its nose and ignore all the things they hated about Trump because tax cuts and gutted regulations and crony capitalism run amok. Literally everything Trump has done has benefited himself or his criminal circle and made life harder for every other American including those who support Trump.

We will learn — take this to the bank — that Election 2016 was neither free nor fair. We will learn that the proprietary polling data that Paul Manafort handed Konstantin Kilimnik did, in fact, impact the outcomes of the elections in Pennsylvania, Michigan & Wisconsin. We will learn that cyber attacks did occur on machines in those states. We will learn that if not for cheating in myriad ways (both with Russia and without), Donald Trump would not be president today.

We sorta kinda knew this election night 2016. That feeling in our gut wasn’t just the agony of defeat. It was something “animal”. Something that knew we’d just been buried neck deep in bullshit. Trump has consistently worried about his legitimacy. He’s not a complicated man that way. When he worries about shit — out loud? It’s because he’s “legitimately” worried — as he is about his legitimacy.

He’s not worried “about” his legitimacy, remember, he’s worried about us finding out he’s not legitimate. It’s a subtle difference but important.

I’m the survivor of a sexual assault when I was 14. The survivor of two assaults actually — by the same man. My sense of “feeling violated” is cranked a little higher consequently. My sense of feeling violated is screaming at me. It’s screamed at me since Trump “won”. The man who assaulted me did it while we were doing something else. He continued to assault me WHILE WE DID SOMETHING ELSE — and we carried on doing that other thing as if the assault wasn’t happening.

14 year old me didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t wrap my 14 year old mind around the juxtaposition of religions education with sexual assault. So I pretended the sexual assault wasn’t happening — and then continued to pretend it didn’t happen for 45 years. But it did happen — and it did kick the shit out of me psychologically regardless of whether or not I admitted it. The assault quietly drove me to the brink of suicide. For real.

I had turned the anger I should have felt toward the man who assaulted me on myself. And then I got healthy. Well, healthier…

I see America going through the exact same process. Our anger goes way, way back. We deserve to be angry at ourselves for allowing slavery to remain acceptable after we became a country where “All men are created equal”. Injustice never goes away. It festers and metastasizes. The anger exploding across America now is the anger we deserve.

But, lets remind ourselves. Both sides don’t do it. Democrats are already making legislative moves to structurally change America in ways that will address those injustices directly. Republicans meanwhile (we haven’t seen their plan as of this moment but we can pretty well guess) will do everything to appear concerned while clearly maintaining the status quo.

What the Republican Party has done and is doing to America is abominable. Their naked racism has blown past the point where everyday Americans can tolerate the institutional racism that feeds the naked racism. But it isn’t just racism at play. Underneath it all is a foundation of greed. The Republicans grabbed for power because they’re greedy.

Having attended more than a few protests where no more than a handful of people showed up, we really did wonder if there even was a point where things got bad enough that everyone else would join us. I’m glad to see there was a point. It sucks that George Floyd had to pay for our reluctance with his life. It sucks that every victim of racist police violence had to pay because we were too comfortable in our privilege to take to the streets and demand that it stop right now.

But America has taken to the streets. Young Americans especially. If they show up at the polls on election day with the same zeal, we might get out of this okay. But, in the meantime, their anger at the world being handed them will suffice. Their anger is our anger. Perhaps it was time we got this angry and this committed to doing something about it beyond just flapping our jaws.

The Republican Party seized America by soft force in 2016. They got away with a coup d’etat that denied the Will of The People. They’ve done things since then that are the diametric opposite of what we voted for. They’ve stripped away rules and norms and ways of doing things that we had no problems with. They’ve put in place conservative lifetime judges that don’t even pass the law business’s smell test (never mind ours). They’ve put their money on using our volunteer military to suppress us into silence.

Good thing the military told them “No!”

Former prosecutor Glenn Kirshner advocates for holding every Republican accountable and i absolutely agree. He advocates also that we look at every single judge that Mitch McConnell fast tracked down our throats. Plenty of them were unqualified. Plenty perjured themselves too during their hearings. That means they’re impeachable. If the Rule Of Law really becomes a thing again? It will insist that we impeach these criminals.

It will insist that we investigate, prosecute, convict & punish them too. Not for any sort of political reason — but because they egregiously violated the Rule Of Law.

Americans are, by and large, fair. We like fairness. Our favorite movies are all about it. And yet, we tolerate unfairness with shocking regularity. Good thing we’re adaptable.

Republicans simply do not grasp just how intensely angry Americans are at them. We’re so forgiving that we forgave Richard Nixon FFS. But you have to “come to Jesus” first. You can’t restore to grace someone who thinks they never fell from it.

But you can get angry as hell at them.

Donald Trump Isn’t Just “Worse Than Watergate”, He’s Watergate’s “Unfinished Business”

On the one hand, Watergate was merely a cover up of a second rate burglary, the cover up being the crime that brought Nixon down.  But, on the other, Watergate was also a prosecution of the political culture that made the second rate burglary a viable political option – committing an actual crime to undermine your political opponents.

Paul Manafort, Roger Stone & Lee Atwater — in business together in 1980

That “Do ANYTHING To Win” mentality didn’t die with Watergate.  Guys like Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater kept it very much alive.  So did Roger Ailes.  Ailes openly said that he created Fox News as a mechanism to prevent any future Watergates – that is, prevent the press from STOPPING the dark, authoritarian politics behind Watergate because the press (well, Fox News anyway) would be stoking the flames that made Watergate possible. 

Fox News was created to foster the culture of Republican political corruption.  And Fox News had an awful lot to do with the rise of Donald J. Trump.

Roger Stone, too, has never been shy about his love for Nixon.  FFS, the bastard even got a tattoo of Nixon on his back. 

The joke will be on Roger though.  I bet inmates are already lining up to meet Roger when he becomes a federal prisoner; they all want bragging rights.  They want to tell their pals that they looked Dick Nixon right in the eye while they shot a load.

The march toward impeachment during Watergate was much more of a slog – took longer – than most people remember.  Then, as now, Republicans dug in their heels, determined to protect their president.  It wasn’t until the reveal that there were tapes – irrefutable evidence that Nixon knew about everything and actively participated in the cover up – that Republicans like Barry Goldwater marched dutifully to the White House to explain to Nixon why he’d be resigning.  Impeachment and conviction were done deals.

We have “tapes” again now.  And, as before, it will be the cover up that brings a president down.  But that, pretty much, is where the similarities end.  Nixon and company were covering up a burglary – committed for political purposes.  Trump is covering up high crimes, misdemeanors and outright treason.  Whereas the rest of the Republicans were pretty much innocent of complicity back during Watergate (they may have suspected Nixon was guilty but they in no way participated in what Nixon did), that’s not the case today.

The reason most Republicans will not – and cannot – turn on Trump is because they themselves are completely complicit in all of the underlying crimes. 

All of the Republican leadership – Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy – knew or suspected that Russia was way up their ass during the 2016 campaign.  Kevin McCarthy famously entered a meeting during the 2016 convention and voiced his concern that “Russia is paying Dana Rohrbacher and Trump”.  Paul Ryan responded: “Let’s keep it in the family”.

Mitch McConnell has taken MILLIONS from Russia into his PAC. Innocent on the surface perhaps (we need to change those laws pronto), not even remotely innocent just below. Moscow Mitch made it his personal business to lift the sanctions on Putin Pal & GRU Guy Oleg Deripaska – the very person to whom Paul Manafort handed the proprietary polling data Russian military intelligence weaponized and turned on Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan – the tree parts of Hillary Clinton’s blue wall that Trump won by a combined 87,000 votes. Deripaska was sanctioned BECAUSE he interfered in the 2016 election.

We also know now that Russia infiltrated the NRA.  Using its skilled agent Maria Buttina, Russia used the NRA to spread money and influence – and the NRA knew goddamned well that that’s what Russia was doing.

Wayne LaPierre, too, is the right wing finishing what Watergate started.

It’s not a coincidence that the two most damaging assaults on our whole political system came from the right – from conservatives – from Republicans.  It’s not a coincidence because they’re connected.

Bullshit In History — It’s Only “A War On Drugs” If You’re Not White

There never ever was a “war on drugs” in America. There was however a war on drug USERS. Still is.

But let’s be clear — no one ever waged that war because they worried about anyone’s health or any impact drugs might be having on it. The “War On Drugs” launched by Richard Nixon in 1971 was, by its own admission, a war on people — because of who they were, the color of their skin and the ideas in their heads. The drug-taking part was the bullshit justification to go after them.

For a full view of what I’m talking about, I recommend “Blunt Truths” — the series I wrote for Weedmaps News.

As we wade through more Republican bullshit — lies about everything from racism to treason — it’s important to remind ourselves just HOW bullshitty Republican bullshit is. A particularly telling example is illustrated by the story of how Harry Anslinger — while prosecuting brown and black people for using marijuana — kept Joe McCarthy’s secret that he was a hard core heroin addict.

Joe McCarthy epitomizes Republican hypocrisy, false patriotism and love of bullshit. As the piece puts it: “Because Anslinger agreed with [McCarthy’s] politics, however, he kept the addiction secret for the rest of the official’s life.”

Do as I say, not as I do. Bullshit doesn’t get any more “Republican” than that.

That’s Roy Cohn whispering sweet nothings into Joe’s ear in the photo. Roy Cohn, don’t forget, was one of Donald Trump’s mentors (until Cohn got AIDS at which point Trump abandoned Cohn).

These dots all connect — every one of them. Republican bullshit renews itself like Trumpian swamp water. The supply is as endless as it is eternal.

Memories Of The Moon Landing

Some of the most durable memories from my youth are attached to news events. One of my very first memories was the sadness in the house after JFK was assassinated. I remember watching his funeral cortege move through DC — and John-John’s salute — play on the black & white TV in our living room.

Another enduring memory is watching the Vietnam War play out every night on the TV in our kitchen during dinner.

And then there was the Moon Landing.

In July 1969, I was 10 — spending another summer at sleepaway camp in Maine (I went to an amazing place called Camp Skylemar in Naples, Maine which still exists). The landing took place in the middle of the night but Lee and Herb (the two men who owned Skylemar) set up TVs on the stage in the Rec Hall and set out the chairs as they did for shows and rallies.

My dad was a surgeon — and a plane spotter. We spent hours sitting at the ends of runways watching the planes come and go. The idea of a rocket launch was organically exciting to me. And America was enthralled with the Space Program. Each accomplishment made us genuinely proud to be Americans. We used to feel very proud! The Moon Landing didn’t open my eyes as my eyes were already open. Everyone’s eyes were open — which is why the rec hall was packed in the middle of the night despite the fact that we’d all spent another day playing sports and having a blast.

It was surreal and yet incredibly real. I remember being transfixed — wishing the TV screen were bigger. Wishing the images were clearer, the voices less garbled by the distance they’d traveled. But there were Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong — literally walking on the moon and talking about it in semi-real time.

We knew at the time that by witnessing history, we were, in a very small way, becoming part of it. Does human history actually “happen” after all if there are no humans around to witness it?

Back then, the news cycle kept “bankers’ hours”. It respected the sanctity of the weekend and dinner time. In fact, it relied on the sanctity of dinner time — because they knew they were part of it.

In retrospect, the strongest memories I have from the Moon Landing are less the images and more the way the Landing made me feel. How the Moon Landing still makes me feel. Growing up in an anti-Vietnam War house, I wasn’t a homer. My dad served in the Air Force but our values were Progressive. It is possible, you understand, to hold two conflicting points of view. It wasn’t unnatural to despise, say, Richard Nixon & his war policies (most every one of his policies) and yet feel proud of what Americans could accomplish.

It is absolutely possible to be proud of what this country has been (in brilliant flashes) in the past while feeling mortified by what it has become (especially since it’s a reflection of what it always was). Maybe it’s 50 years and some wishful thinking… I felt pride that night both as an American and as a human being. Look what we could do — we.

That’s the big takeaway all these years later — the things that teamwork could produce. The things that teamwork CAN produce. That’s teamwork spelled “DIVERSITY”.