America Has To Reimagine Its Democracy — And How Its News Media Reports On It

When history looks back at the Trump era — asking how the hell it could have happened — after they compile a massive list of all the Republican Party’s corruption, they’ll compile a similarly massive list of all the ways our news media normalized, spread and profited from the GOP’s corruption. Journalism is the only non-governmental job enumerated in the Constitution. It shouldn’t be the collecting pool for egomaniacs who like to be on TV. It shouldn’t base its reporting on the demonstrably false assertion that “both sides do it”.

Because it’s bullshit.

Our system (unfortunately) forces us to make binary choices. This or that. The legislative process itself is supposed to be about compromise but the final choice of whether to do or not do is “yes” v “no”. It’s just the nature of binary choices that they increase polarization and reduce nuance. Both sides may do “something” but they’re not doing the same something — because they’re motivated by different things.

“Modern” Republicans (an oxymoron if ever there was one) are good at marching in lockstep. Modern Democrats not so much. Up until the 2020 election — where Democrats have unified like never before — we were still the exact same group about which Will Rogers said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. See, American News Media? NOT the same thing. Unorganized people CAN’T march in lockstep together.

Both sides don’t oppress the other sides voters. Both sides don’t think it’s normal to use the courts to stop counting votes. Both sides don’t embrace herd immunity as the way to solve our pandemic problem. Both sides don’t acknowledge on the down low that Donald Trump is the worst thing to ever hit America but, hey, “tax breaks”, ya know?

Both sides are not cynical. Only one side is — and that, unfortunately for us, is the side our news media keeps emulating. “Both sides do it” is a cynical sledge hammer where scalpel-like skepticism is called for. It’s malpractice atop bad writing atop brain dead, perspective-free analysis.

When we get to the other side of the Donald Trump Debacle — and we will because the overwhelming majority of Americans are done, done, DONE with Donald Trump and his Corruption Meets Treason Meets Fascism road show. We’re hip now to the stone cold fact that Trump did not “win” election in 2016, Russia won it FOR him (not the same thing). We’re hip to the fact that Trump just tried to pull the exact same illegal stunt THIS time (he thought the Hunter Biden computer would be this election season’s “but, her emails!”). That stunt, by the way, is what got Trump IMPEACHED!

Don’t forget: Trump is the first POTUS ever to run for re-election having been impeached for cheating in the very election HE’S RUNNING IN. That’s quite an accomplishment.

The last four year’s debasement of our political system has made clear: relying on norms over enforceable laws is foolhardy. Everything must be spelled out for some people — what’s illegal and what isn’t. Even so, they’ll still try to violate the spirit of the law while keeping to its letter. Perhaps if we baked a respect for the commonweal into our education system, we’d “indoctrinate” some of the greed and selfishness out of people.

Ours is a government OF the People, BY the People and FOR the people. That’s how self-government works. We do it for US. Anyone who stands outside of that larger purpose — and then tries to manifest their disrespect for our purpose in reality — to our detriment — needs to pay a price. Funny thing? When you hit greedy people in the pocketbook, the feel it even worse than if you had cut off a limb.

Makes punishing them easier.

While having to punish people sucks, real problems begin if we DON’T punish those deserving of our collective punishment. Bad behavior becomes more viable. Cheating to win becomes “one more way to win”. If we had punished Richard Nixon instead of pardoning him, the surviving Nixonites like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort would have been less inclined to act so subversively — because their subversion carried real risk.

Unfortunately, we keep cutting Republicans slack. We forget who they are and what they’ve done. Take Bill Barr. Lying about the Mueller Report wasn’t Barr’s first time at the “fix Republican criminality” rodeo. He covered up the Iran-Contra scandal so completely we don’t even remember it anymore. He covered up his cover-up so completely that a bunch of DEMOCRATS even approved Barr’s nomination — as if he hadn’t, in the past, taken a great, steaming dump all over them and the whole idea of “justice”.

To this day, most of our news media members have failed to do the same rudimentary due diligence on Donald Trump that Fusion GPS did when they got hired to do oppo research on Trump by the owners of the Washington Free Beacon back in 2016. The first thing Fusion did, co-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017, was get ahold of every piece of PUBLICLY AVAILABLE information concerning Donald J. Trump. They got every book, magazine, newspaper, radio show, TV show, interview, snippet or blind item they could. What they found in PUBLICLY AVAILABLE material so convinced them that Trump was a Russian mob money laundering criminal that they hired Chris Steele to further investigate inside Russia.

Americans have already gone to the polls in record-breaking numbers because we want to preserve (and improve upon) our democracy. After we finish punishing the Republican Party for trying so hard to undermine that democracy, we will turn our gaze on the press.

I hope they’ll all be ready for their close up when the time comes…

The Bill Of Rights Says Originalism Is BS

The US Constitution — as originally written and ratified — did NOT include freedom of speech or the press or religion or assembly or any of the other specific rights enumerated in the Bill Of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Did you catch that word — “amendments”? The Constitution’s framers built the framework with various means to alter and improve the Constitution because they knew at the start (they argued about it relentlessly!) that the work of crafting it was not nearly finished and might never be. The Constitution’s framers knew as they were framing it that the Constitution would always be a work in progress.

Originalism has two fatal flaws (at least).

The first is the ludicrous (and, frankly, offensive) notion that we have to understand laws only as they were understood by the men who wrote them regardless of the fact that the circumstances under which they lived (and under which they wrote the law) and the circumstances under which WE live are totally different. Originalism compounds the ludicrousness by pretending it can creep inside the minds of the framers where, originalism assures us, they wanted this document to be followed to the letter no matter what.

The very existence of the Bill Of Rights trashes that idea completely. James Madison, future 4th POTUS but, at the founding a member of the brand new House of Representatives, put the Bill Of Rights before the brand new American Congress on June 8, 1789. Having seen the original document’s flaws and deficiencies, Madison stressed “…that the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.”

Even the original originalists didn’t go along with originalism.

Second fatal flaw — arguing that we’re bound to a document written by white, Christian, land-owning men who thought only white, Christian, land-owning men had rights is such a white, Christian, land-owning man thing to argue. The rules were set in stone by rule makers who wrote the rules strictly for their benefit. To go along with that kind of thinking would make everyone not white, Christian, land-owning and male a member of a permanent under-class — without many rights to “speak of”. Well, screw that!

Originalists pick n choose the Constitution the way they pick n choose which Biblical passages to follow.

Perhaps the biggest, most important, most far-reaching decision originalist di tutti originalists Antonin Scalia ever wrote was “Bush v Gore”, the SCOTUS decision that stopped the recount in Florida and literally HANDED the 2000 election to George W. Bush regardless of the fact that Democratic votes in Florida remained uncounted and — most importantly — Bush had lost the popular vote by a ton. Antonin Scalia took a huge, steaming dump on James Madison’s idea that a Government “inadequate to the purposes of its institution” had rights greater than the Peoples’.

In handing the election to Bush, Scalia noted that he was stepping outside the boundaries of originalism — just this once but that we weren’t going to be allowed EVER to step outside those boundaries ever again. Only originalist Scalia could set originalism aside — so as to protect originalism’s tender illusion of relevance. Horse. Shit.

No — worse than horse shit. Bullshit.

Freedom Is Never “FREE” — It Always Comes With Responsibilities

Pandemics bring clarity. This one has clarified that people who refuse to wear a mask because “We’re not the boss of them” have a five-year-old’s idea of “freedom”. They think freedom is getting to do whatever they want, wherever they want, however they want. If it bothers you or interferes with your rights — or infects you with their disease? That’s not their problem — and anything you do to affirm YOUR rights automatically steps all over theirs. They have plenty of rights. The rest of us? Not so much. Sounds like Libertarians, doesn’t it? And Tea Partiers? And Republicans in general.

My dad was a captain in the Air Force. He was fond of saying “Rank has its privileges and its obligations”. Everyone loves the sugar coating. But that coating’s on a Brussel sprout. And you have to eat that too.

Every freedom — whether to say what you like or love who you like — comes with exceptions. You are NOT free to threaten people with your words. You are NOT free to love people who aren’t old enough to judge whether or not to love you back. You are NOT free to take your legally owned weapon and discharge it at will in public. Without those exceptions to complete and total freedom, we’d have complete and total chaos. It’s the “responsibilities” that make freedom workable. But only if everyone agrees to meet those responsibilities.

As we’re now learning the hard way, if too few Americans don’t take their responsibility to vote seriously, that very right gets eroded — by people who don’t want them to vote period. Voting shouldn’t be a “use it or lose it” proposition. It should be more “use it because it fills you with PRIDE to use it”. Or “use it because that’s how a representative democracy like ours works”. Use it because it’s your responsibility.

People who take their rights for granted are setting themselves up for failure. That would be us — right about now. Freedom, it turns out, is a muscle that must be warmed up, stretched and worked out like any other. It needs to be looked after so it can look after us.

By the same token — the rule of law is just an idea we invented. It cannot and will not enforce itself. That’s entirely up to us. If we want to live under the rule of law — and Donald Trump has demonstrated what the alternative would be — then we have to live by it We have to enforce it.

And we have to make sure that everyone who violates it — regardless of who — gets treated exactly the same.

That includes the punishment part.

The Correct Response To “Trump ‘Won’ Again” Can’t Be “Woe Is Us!”, It Has To Be “NO EFFIN’ WAY!”

Who needs a smoking gun when the entire forest is on fire — and it’s the very gun that started the fire? Not every dot needs literal connecting to be connected. We are surrounded by well-documented evidence that says clear as day that Donald Trump is not now and has never been the legitimate President of the United States because the rule of law says — clear as day — that you can’t become president if a foreign country helps MAKE you president (especially if that foreign country has declared CYBER WAR on us). Every last bit of what I just wrote is easily supportable with copious evidence — starting with the data collected by our own eyes and ears. Donald Trump is a traitor. Everyone who’s known or suspected as much — no matter how vaguely — was obligated by the rule of law to say something. When they failed that obligation, they, too, became traitors.

America did not vote for treason in 2016, but it is what we got. Rather, it was what the Republican Party — in league with Russia (Russia!) twisted the result we voted for into. What they couldn’t alter by means of old fashioned voter suppression — wiping names off the books wholesale — they accomplished via new-fangled voter suppression — flooding Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin with Facebook ads directed at individual Black voters. Or, rather, stepping back and watching while RUSSIA flooded those three states with the weaponized putback of voter data given to Russian Military Intelligence (the GRU — in the form of Konstantin Kilimnik and Oleg Deripaska) by Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign manager.

Treason, treason and MORE treason.

Sorry, but no bloody way the most amazing (but flawed) experiment in human self-government goes down the crapper because of treason. Not when the majority have no interest in it — and voted otherwise. These criminals hijacked the bus once.

Sorry — they ain’t hijacking it again. The passengers won’t allow it.

It’s easy to become cynical. Driving people away from hope and toward the darkest cynicism is one of authoritarianism’s goals. Without hope, people lose their will to fight. What’s the point if nothing will come of it but terrible pain? If Donald Trump and the Republican Party thought they could take over America without having to go through this election, they’d have done it. This election scares them. It’s the one, gigantic variable they can’t fully control.

Oh, they can try to. The whole point of voter suppression is to limit the size the opposition. To them.

Democrats, you’ll notice, NEVER try to suppress Republican voters. It would never even occur to us to do such a thing. Democrats have this bizarre idea that you should vote for them because you like their ideas better. You’d prefer how they would govern over how the Republican clearly intends to “govern”. As of today, over fifty million Americans have already voted (four years ago, it was around two million votes at this point). They’re voting by mail and standing in long, long lines. Sure, sure — a few of them must be Republicans. But the polls aren’t trending up and down. The polls paint a picture of more House districts flipping blue and red Senate seats previously thought impregnable suddenly looking soap bubble vulnerable.

We’re gun shy about getting too excited about what looks like a blowout because, you know, 2016. But this isn’t then. This year’s version of the Comey Letter — the Hunter Biden Whatever — just blew up spectacularly. Last night Trump sounded like a lunatic spewing nonsense only QAnon-tards could fathom. Then this morning the Wall Street Journal (owned by Rupert Murdoch) blew the rest of it apart. Oh, did we mention? It’s all Russian Military Intelligence work product.

Yeah. It’s something our enemy dreamed up.

Let’s be crystal clear: Donald Trump did not “win” in 2016. He is not now nor has he ever been the legitimate president. Cheating again will not make him legitimate. It will only add to the criminality we must prosecute. Because that’s how we need to see this — not as the “oh well, better luck next time…” lament of people cheated out of their democracy (there won’t BE a next time), but as the last straw. The people behind Trump — the right wing money — represent a sliver of a sliver of who we are. Even the most violent Trumpanistas — the ones who will most likely go down in blazes of “gory” — represent not just a minority point of view but an extreme minority point of view.

We’re headed into winter. Where most of them live, winter will drive them inside if it hasn’t already. They won’t mask, won’t distance. Even as they gather together to plot against the election’s winners — the rest of America — they’ll be sickening each other. Yes, for sure there’ll be flashpoints. But they’ll peter out as the virus takes hold of their parts of America.

Remember in HG Wells’ “War Of The Worlds” how the Martians land and kick the crap out of earth’s armies? We look doomed until the Martians start dropping dead. What kills them? Germs. Earth germs. The Martians aren’t vulnerable to bullets or bombs, but they are to the tiniest earthlings — single-celled pathogens. That’s exactly what’s happening to Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

A teeny-tiny pathogen — a thing not even alive! — is going to save America and drive the Republican Party into well-deserved extinction.

The day of bullies owning the schoolyard is over. We own the yard now. We The People. And we do not plan to surrender it any time soon.

If Trump’s Presidency Was The Direct Product Of Criminality & Treason, Then It Was Never A “Presidency” & Nothing It Did Can Stand

Check the law. I think this still applies in most of America. If a guy steals your car, gets caught in it, gets tried & convicted for stealing it — he doesn’t get to keep your car. If he hasn’t already chopped it up for parts, he gives it back.

Because it was never his.

Let’s put this in terms even Trump might comprehend. If the winner of a beauty pageant is found to have cheated, she doesn’t get to keep her crown. Same goes for all the other prizes that went with it. When we strip you of your “win” because you didn’t achieve it legitimately, you don’t get to keep any part of what the actual winner is entitled to.

The same goes for presidents.

As I’ve said here before, the rule of law did not let us down here. We (yet again) let IT down. That’s an important distinction. The rule of law is the only possible arbiter between us. It’s the only way that everyone gets treated equally and fairly. Its one real weakness is it can’t enforce itself. The rule of law relies entirely on us to do the heavy lifting.

It’s time we started building a little moral muscle mass. When we reassert the rule of law as our true guiding principle, the first thing the rule of law will demand we do is punish those who violated it — meaning those who broke it relentlessly during the period when we weren’t enforcing it. Meaning those who broke it with the intent of destroying it.

The rule of law will be clear-eyed. It will see how Donald Trump slowly corrupted the entire Republican Party. How Russia corrupted it. How greed and the fear of rapidly changing demographics corrupted their thinking — especially how their “money” thought.

Based entirely on what’s already been established via actual evidence (hell, just follow Cambridge Analytica’s trail!), we know that Russia hitched its wagon to Republicans and Republicans hitched their wagon to Russia. Money poured into GOP coffers from myriad directions — filtered through Russian emigrees living here whose retirement checks from Mother Russia suddenly doubled or tripled. Lots was laundered through the NRA. Some landed via totally legal PAC donations. Legal, that is, until we peel back the cover on them. If those donations are part of a larger crime? They’re not quite as “legal”.

Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy may have been surprised to learn there were two people Putin paid — Rohrbacher and Trump — just before he walked into that meeting of Republican muckety-mucks during the 2016 GOP convention. The response he got from then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan — “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here” suggests Paul Ryan wasn’t surprised.

He didn’t respond “What? Why do you say this, Kev’? What is that based on?” He didn’t frown and say “Geez, somebody get the FBI on the phone. We have a real problem here!”

No, Paul Ryan said “Let’s keep it secret”. It. The thing they all knew was illegal: the very presidential campaign they were all part of.

You don’t have to be a willing participant in treason to be a traitor. Knowing about it is where your problem begins. Suspecting it even. Having a vague suspicion even — and not doing anything. We have to ask “why?” Why did you say or do nothing?

Citizenship, as the rule of law will remind us, has benefits but obligations too. Voting, for instance. But also standing up for the rule of law — enforcing it ourselves as citizens by reporting gross violations when we see them. Don’t want to take your fears to the “proper authorities”? Fine. Take them to the news media. The Fourth Estate is the one job mentioned in the Constitution — as the final check on power. When we excise “both sides do it” from the journalism school curriculum, they too will begin to work as designed.

The news media, more than anyone, has perverted our thinking. In the same way that they accepted “Mexicans are rapists”, they accepted that cheating to win is just another way to win. Here we are — in a presidential race — where one of the candidates is the first sitting POTUS ever to run having been IMPEACHED. For cheating in the very election he’s running in. And the news media can’t seem to remember that fact. FFS, it should be the STARTING POINT for telling the election’s story: for the first time in history, one of the two candidates HAS BEEN IMPEACHED.

It’s not just weird that Trump’s impeachment has already faded into distant memory, it’s obscene.

Take Russia out of the equation entirely and Donald Trump doesn’t even run for president. Take Russia out of the Trump equation entirely and Trump lost everything years and years ago. He didn’t get rescued out of his bankrupted casinos. He doesn’t get an ounce of help from a single Russian mobster. He doesn’t find $55 million in his pocket (via a white elephant mansion in Florida), convinced it came from Putin directly. If Russia never sinks a kopek into Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump pisses away everything Fred Trump ever made. Donald Trump ends up broker than broke.

He certainly doesn’t get re-invented by Mark Burnett as some genius businessman. Even a bullshit artist like Burnett couldn’t re-invent the king of skid row as “the great negotiator”.

Everything about Trump, his life, his accomplishments — it’s all absolutely phony. That includes his presidency. Well, just like the car thief and beauty pageant cheater, Trump will not get to keep the stuff that came with his “win”.

He won’t get to be POTUS anymore for starters. But, more importantly, everything that happened during his presidency must now be seen through the lens of “Donald Trump never had the authority to do ______”. Remember — we’re not revoking Trump’s authority, we’re pointing out that he never had the authority to begin with. The authority to be POTUS flows from the Constitution and the rule of law. It flows, ultimately, from We The People — and this self-governing government of ours — warts and all. You cannot legally steal that authority. If you even attempt to steal it in any way, shape or form then whatever authority you acquire is not legally yours.

And whatever you did — while illegally having that authority — is just as illegal. It lacked the authority that was never legally given over.

It’s just a stone cold fact. A stolen presidency cannot and does not have the authority to do anything whatsoever. It can’t craft legislation for the Congress to consider (in its capacity as the executive). It can’t issue “executive orders” or decrees. It can’t nominate judges.

Judges, after all, are the whole point of the exercise. The Right Wing money saw demographic destruction in their future. A diversifying population — diversifying and progressive by nature — spelled the end of white hegemony. The RW money (the Kochs, the Mercers) got that except for outright theft, the executive branch was going to be forever Democratic. The House of Reps? Too untrustworthy to invest in (especially when you have to pony up every two years for re-elections vs four for a POTUS and six for a senator). The Senate seemed a better bet — especially with a master politician like Mitch McConnell.

Make no mistake: Mitch McConnell is one of the worst Americans ever. He’s corrupt to his bone marrow. He’s racist as hell, petty and treasonous. But he’s also skilled at the game of politics. The RW money spent wisely on Mitch McConnell. If anyone was corrupt enough to try and see their hijacking through, it was going to be Moscow Mitch.

But, Mitch, too, has Russian connections. Mitch has taken plenty of Russian money into his campaign coffers. He lifted the sanctions on Oleg Deripaska in order to get Deripaska’s $400 million for a Russian aluminum factory in Dirt Poor, KY. Those sanctions, BTW, were put there because Deripaska actively participated in Russia’s theft of the 2016 election result.

Just watch when Mitch finally gets put under oath, his teeny-tiny turtle testicles in a vice grip.

Just watch when every one of these treasonous bastards gets put under oath.

It will be hard for us — after that happens — after the full, terrible truth of what happened here gets fully outed. Most of it will especially after all the co-conspirators begin turning on each other, looking for a better deal.

Now, think about this — as the criminals who did this to us begin to point fingers at each other — describing grander and grander schemes to defraud us of the electoral outcome we ACTUALLY voted for? Do you really think we’ll be inclined to let these pirates keep what they stole from us — from our children and their future?

Not if I can help it they won’t.

Stealing Elections For Dummies

We The People have two problems facing us as we careen toward this election. Problem number one: The Republican Party is doing everything it can — including commit treason — to hold onto the power they stole in the last election.

Problem number two: our news media — even while reporting that Trump and the GOP are openly cheating in order to win — behave as if cheating to win and winning without cheating are the exact same thing.

No, they are not. The rule of law says cheating can NEVER equal winning. Now, the rule of law isn’t going to enforce itself. WE have to do that. But we can’t enforce the rule of law if we refuse to observe even its most basic tenets — like, say, you can’t cheat in order to win. If the press sat down to a card game and could never win because the person they were playing with cheated not only relentless but openly, they’d say something eventually. But, with Donald Trump, even if they do say something, they immediately assume that “Oh well, it’s Trump — cheating is “what it is”.

No, it’s NOT.

When republicans gerrymandered voting districts, they did it with the specific purpose of denying the majority their voice. That’s the whole point of gerrymandering. It’s to give a minority of voters political power far beyond what it should be entitled to. The point is, literally, to circumvent the will of the people. Do you think Republicans would have to gerrymander districts if they thought they could win them on the strength of their ideas?

It’s not just that Republicans fear Democratic voters. It goes deeper — beneath the labels to actual philosophy. Republicans fear the equality under the rule of law that Democrats want. They want special treatment under the rule of law — the same special treatment they’ve gotten up till now — at the expense of people of color, Black people especially.

Republicans, being conservative, want to “conserve” what is. Their name says it all. The future, in their minds, should be exactly the same as the present. The present, to them, already represents too much compromise with the future. They want to slow or stop any future evolution of our thinking and ways of doing things. Innovation is conservatism’s enemy. It has to be. All innovation causes change and change is anathema to conservatism.

If Republicans were honest, they’d campaign on a platform that promised to take America back to the 50’s — the 1850’s — back when being a voter meant being a white, Christian, landowning male. But then, if they did that, who’d vote for them?

There’s the rub. That’s why Republicans gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters and lie about their intentions. The irony is, Republicans don’t even want to govern, they want to prove that government is bad. So they govern badly — like a kid who doesn’t want to do their chores so they do them all the worst way they can. If the voting public knew what Republicans really wanted to do to the country — in fact, it’s exactly what they’re doing right now — they’d rise up in a tidal wave of anger, resentment and outrage that would turn Republicans out of power forever.

Republicans don’t need a book teaching them how to cheat. They’ve been doing it out of necessity for more than a generation now. The RW money (the Kochs, the Mercers) saw way back that America’s diversifying demographics spelled political doom for them and so set out to stop it from happening. They charged Mitch McConnell with the task of hijacking the judiciary — first, by denying Barack Obama the lifetime appointments to the federal bench to which he (and We The People) were entitled (via a thing called an “election”), then by filling the federal bench with unqualified extremists once Donald Trump had stolen power.

Partnering with Russia may not have originated inside the Republican Party, but even when they knew Russia was actively working to make Donald Trump president, they did nothing to stop it. In fact, they continued working with Russians. Mitch McConnell, for instance, refused to let Barack Obama inform us in September 2016 that Russia was actively trying to make Trump potus. He twisted every arm he had to to get sanctions lifted so that Oleg Deripaska could drop $400 million into a Russian aluminum factory in Western Kentucky. Those sanctions were put in place because of Deripaska’s role in subverting the 2016 election.

No, Republicans know perfectly well not just how to steal elections, but to steal elections via treason. And it IS treason because Russia is actively engaged in a cyber war against us — a war they envisioned years ago. Just because they haven’t fired a bomb or bullet at us doesn’t mean it isn’t a war. Russia could shut down our power grid today (they absolutely could!) and we’d sue for peace — the losers — tomorrow.

War is war is war. And anyone who thinks you need bombs and bullets to win a war will lose every war they ever fight going forward.

It’s our news media that needs to read this book. They need to see cheating for what it is — CHEATING — and not as some odd variant on “winning”.

Cheating is cheating is cheating. It can never be winning. As Republicans are fond of saying “elections have consequences”.

Point taken. And stolen elections have even worse consequences.

We Need Moral Journalism NOW

Journalists are front line storytellers. While a novelist writes at some remove from whatever time they’re writing about — it takes time to think out then write a novel (never mind the time it takes to get it published) — a journalist works in the right-here, right-now. A novelist writing “morally” has time to line up all that morality — to structure their story so that the moral message gets highlighted just the way they want. That’s a luxury most journalists just don’t have.

Therefore if a journalist wants to write morally (we’ll get to why they’d want to bother momentarily), they need to have their moral way of thinking lined up in advance.

Here’s the trick: EVERY journalist should want to write “morally”. Going forward, if we don’t get turned into a Trump-branded authoritarian shithole, writing morally — meaning writing that’s framed from a moral perspective rather than a neutral amoral one — will be an employment prerequisite.

Somewhere, somehow American journalism got it in its head that journalists are obligated to be utterly neutral in their reporting. If by utterly neutral they mean “apolitical” then yes — by all means — American journalists should be “neutral”. But, if by “neutral” they mean “amoral” then absolutely not. “Apolitical” and “amoral” aren’t the same thing. That’s at the heart of American journalism’s confusion.

If a politician charged with upholding the rule of law violates the rule of law, it does not matter what that politician’s party affiliation is. Every other politician is obligated by the rule of law to report the offending pol’s offense. If they don’t, the rule of law starts to break down because we’re not enforcing it evenly or equally. Therefore — when those other politicians go to the media to describe what the criminal politician is doing, they’re NOT ACTING POLITICALLY.

They’re acting patriotically. They’re FOLLOWING THE RULE OF LAW.

Ah, but… how many times do our journalists frame that reaction to actual criminal behavior as merely “political”? How many times do our journalists ASSUME that the motive behind REPORTING A CRIME isn’t to report the crime but to gain political advantage. Right there — the truth gets distorted by the very people responsible for reporting it. They’ve equated reporting a crime to journalists & the proper authorities as a political act — and thus, “both sides do it”.

That’s really more “both sides get accused of it by a stupid news media who don’t ever seem to do their homework”.

Both sides do it journalism has no sense of perspective or proportionality. To them a crime is a crime is a crime. Bernie Madoff — stealing billions from billionaires — is no different from, say Jean Valjean (the hero of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables) whose whole adventure begins when he steals bread to feed the hungry. Yes, both Bernie Madoff and Jean Valjean are thieves. Both were chased down by the Law. Framed that way, “both sides do it’.

But, really?

Storytelling can NEVER be divorced from morality. The whole point of storytelling is cultural self-analysis. Storytellers, as entertaining as they can be, are also part psychoanalyst. The best peer deeply into the cultural psyche and come away with remarkable observations about who we are and why we do what we do. That’s really why we love storytelling. We love seeing ourselves (however abstract) in the world the storyteller weaves. But, what happens when a culture’s storytellers lie to it? What happens when a culture’s storytellers — the fawning German right wing news media that supported Hitler, say — lies to the public about the politician they support? Lies become the truth.

That is, lies get taken for the Truth.

Nothing good can ever come from that dynamic. Lies are lies, Truth is Truth. There is no middle ground.

To report lies as if they were the truth is absolutely immoral. To report lies as if they “could be” the truth tap dances along the precipice. The only way to report lies as if they could be true is by using full transparency. The news audience needs every last bit of real perspective they can get — especially because the likelihood is that the lies aren’t true and never were.

It’s understood: on the one hand, it’s hard to tell your story when none of the interview subjects you need refuse to speak to you. But on the other — the cost of access to those interviews cannot be your soul or integrity. You’re going to need both of those things in order to conduct the interview. New York Times reporter Judith Miller became notorious for selling out her soul to (then) veep Dick Cheney. She lied in print to protect her source Scooter Libby — Cheney’s chief of staff. That kinda sucks as journalism.

It’s damned immoral, too.

I have a funny feeling America is about to enter a Great Moral Reckoning. Once it begins, it will gather momentum — and the momentum will gather momentum as we learn more and more just how corrupt Donald Trump was. The real momentum will gather when We The People realize just how corrupt and treacherous the entire Republican Party has been.

A reporter telling a story about white supremacists should absolutely do everything in their power to reveal the human being beneath their story. But that doesn’t include touting their vile, racist rhetoric as justifiable in some way just because you’re telling the story “neutrally”.

If you’re telling Evil’s story, you need to point out that it’s Evil. Telling a story about how “Evil is misunderstood” isn’t journalism, it’s you, the journalist, being stupid.

Worse — it’s the journalist being amoral which, in this world, is the exact same as being immoral.

There’s no middle ground in a war between Good and Evil. Similarly, there’s no middle ground in a war between Truth and lies. Both Good and Evil, Truth and lies have a “point of view”. They don’t all have “a side”. That is, they’re point of view cannot be justified.

Reporting that point of view as if it “could” be justified — say, by asking “Yeah, but what if fascism has a few merits?” — is giving credence to it. See, it says, fascism could have merits.

I won’t dignify such immorality with a response.

Whatever We Have To Do To Get Black Women Political Power, We MUST Do It

I’ve made a bet that I won’t be around to collect on. But, if I could be? I would collect: history will credit Black women with saving America from itself.

I feel proud to my core that Kamala Harris is Joe Biden’s VP pick. I would have felt pretty close to equally proud with any of his other Black female choices — talk about a deep, brilliant bench — but I feel especial warmth toward Kamala. She’s one of my senators. She was my attorney general. I’ve already voted for her on multiple occasions. And I think Kamala will be an amazing campaigner — a vibrant, exciting contrast to every pasty, old white man in the GOP.

Those pasty, old white men in the GOP are very much our problem. For the moment, they have seized control of the machinery of our government. We didn’t give that control to them, they stole it with the 2016 election with massive assistance from their Russian friends. We’re only just catching up to the fact, our investigations into what the hell happened having been hampered nearly to death. Those pasty, old white men have made a cynical but calculated risk in the face of (what is to them) imminent demographic catastrophe — the end of white rule in America.

The RW money (the Kochs, the Mercers, etc) made Mitch McConnell their point man. Recognizing that — without profound cheating — the executive branch was out of their control and that — without profound cheating — the House of Representatives was out of their control, the RW money sought to seize control of the government via the Senate and the Judicial branch. Using the Senate, the RW has indeed seized control of the judiciary. Mitch McConnell’s proudest achievement — his own words — denying Barack Obama Merrick Garland.

Considering as We The People voted for Barack Obama — and his SCOTUS choices — Mitch McConnell was denying US of our choice — Merrick Garland. Mitch screwed us. Rather, Mitch McConnell’s backers — the RW money — screwed us by denying us the judicial choice that we voted for. And then — with the cheated win (which means it’s not really a win) of Donald Trump, the screwing continued as all those hardcore RW judges — representing a minority position in our politics — have now been installed for life.

What, we have to ask, is the RW money’s game here? What do they think they’re paying for? What do they want their money to buy? Simple: permanent minority rule minus the rule of law. The rule of law, of course, can’t co-exist with what the Republicans are doing. But then, they’ve lived outside the rule of law for a long time now. Our problem is, we let them. We bent the rule of law for all those privileged white men; the rule of law doesn’t bend. What we really did was fail to apply it equally.

We failed to apply the rule of law equally to rich white men and anyone of color but especially Black women.

And yet… they have been the keepers of America’s flame. They have kept our core principles alive in their hearts even as we did everything in our power to destroy them. They have borne the brunt of our cruelty and hypocrisy, of our sanctimony and parsimony.

And yet… they have not lost faith in our principles. Rather, they have seen SALVATION in them. They have always understood that if America could ever live up to its ideals then they would be its beneficiaries. As would everyone else.

Black women have always known: their salvation will be our salvation.

They’ve always known that “All men are created equal” is horse shit in a country where slavery exists. It’s horse shit when “all men” is meant literally.

The cost of keeping our ideals alive is the surrender of political power. White men are 30% of the population but control 62% of the political power. That’s 32% they must give up — it doesn’t belong to them. Our ideals say a big chunk of that power is obligated to women.

I believe in American Exceptionalism. It ain’t old white men and their dirty money, it’s diversity. Our diversity is what makes us exceptional. Our diversity brings a whole panoply of skill sets from the whole panoply of the world’s cultures. Where else does that happen but America? A huge part of that diversity is the diversity of women.

Considering the skill sets of most of those women? White men should surrender every bit of their political power for a while. It will take a while for America’s women to undo the considerable damage America’s men have wrought — trying to keep power for themselves.

Consider all the ways America has kept Black women from achieving every bit of greatness within them? Consider what we might already have achieved if we’d let women “drive” instead of letting the men drive around lost. Consider the obstacles to learning and health care and child care we legislated into their path.

For the life of me, I can’t fathom why? What kind of threat do they pose — except for the loss of political power? Looking at the Black women Joe Biden had to choose between? Every single one of them would have brought more to the table then the entire Trump White House combined. If America’s men won’t pull to the side of the road and switch drivers, America’s women will have to kick us from the car while we’re flying down the highway. They’ll have no choice because of the cliff we’re zooming toward.

I hope that when Wynta-Amor — the young lady in the photo above — is ready, she runs for political office. I have a feeling justice will be hard wired into her thinking.

In fact, I’m even willing to bet on it.

Dear Regulation-Hating Republicans: Get Ready To Be Regulated Into Extinction

It’s simple. If the playing field was automatically level for all Americans — and if everyone behaved honorably, respecting the rule of law, we could probably dispense with most regulations. Alas, that’s not the case.

Some people — okay, Republicans, it seems — cannot imagine walking past a pot of money without wanting to take it all for themselves. Having all the money means having all the power — which is really what it’s all about anyway. Yes, an over-zealous government can become tyrannical via over-use of rules and regs. But then over-zealous criminals can become tyrannical via UNDER-use of the rule of law.

There’s no middle ground unfortunately. We thought there was. Right now, our problems all flow from the unequal enforcement of the rule of law. We punish Black and brown people harshly while letting rich white people skate. The rule of law eventually breaks down when it’s applied piecemeal. It’s like integrity — it is or it isn’t. You really can’t have 99% of your integrity. It’s the dubious 1% that immediately defines you.

It’s a fact — in response to Donald Trump, Trumpism, Republican corruption and the RW’s naked greed, we will over-regulate ourselves. At least, that’s how it will feel to some people — Republicans. Having the rule of law applied to them will feel like over-regulation. Think of it from the criminal’s point of view — one moment, they’re breaking the law with impunity. The next, they’re in handcuffs. See? Over-regulation.

And handcuffs will be what plenty of Republicans are wearing come 2021. Handcuffs and prison orange will be the new Republican “look”. It’s hard to think of many Republicans who won’t be rocking that look hard. They’ve all — at the very least — conspired to commit a whole host of crimes. Republicans knew even during their 2016 convention — when they formally nominated Trump — that he was breaking the rule of law.

Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously (it was reported on!) entered a meeting of Republican head honchos and said out loud: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan famously replied “Let’s keep this in the family”. Everyone agreed to keep secret the fact that they were breaking the law.

The rule of law will insist that every single Republican who had even the faintest inkling that something was amiss with their party was OBLIGATED to pick up a phone and call the authorities. See something, say something. See something, say nothing? We need to ask WHY? Rather, the rule of law needs to ask “why?”

America started with an impossible contradiction — the statement “All men are created equal” cannot co-exist with slavery. And “all men” needs to be “all people — regardless of their gender — are equal before the rule of law”. That applies to them, of course, regardless of who they love. Making the playing field truly level for everyone will take time and effort and focus. It won’t happen by itself — but then, that’s how the rule of law works. We The People will have to make it happen.

And, despite all the awkwardness and inconvenience that applying the rule of law will cause, the indisputable fact is — it will be worth it.

Republicans won’t think so. Their lawyers will write angry letters demanding we release their clients from long federal prison sentences.

The rule of law will read their letters and refuse to budge. It didn’t condemn them to extinction, they themselves did that. The rule of law was simply the road they took to get there.

A Lesson On “Cheating”: If You Cheat To Win, It Means “YOU DID NOT WIN”

Some things should be more self-evident than they apparently are. For instance — if I cheat to win at a game, I did not therefore “win” the game. Wins outside the rules do not count as wins. How can they?

Just because the “winner” says he won, that doesn’t mean anything. Cheaters are usually biased toward their cheating. An adulterer who tells his partner he wasn’t cheating isn’t just an adulterer, he’s a liar too. When Donald Trump claims he “won” the 2016 election, he’s both a cheater and a liar. He didn’t win anything; the best that can be said is that Russia won the election for him.

But then, Russia can’t — by law — do any such thing. If Russia helped him in any way, it means Trump did not “win” and we know for a fact that Russia helped him — exposing Hillary Clinton’s stolen emails on request. Donald Trump made his presidency illegitimate right in front of our faces.

The onus is on us for not holding him accountable. Just like the onus is on us for not enforcing the rule of law. That’s not a reflection on the rule of law or its effectiveness, it’s a reflection on us — and our fecklessness.

It’s a reflection on our news media and its refusal to aggregate the most important story any of them will ever cover. When they get to the retrospect part of their careers, an awful lot of American journalists are going to feel profoundly disappointed in themselves. At least they better.

In any other situation, a cheater revealed would be relieved of his spoils. Thieves don’t get to keep what they stole. But, for some reason, a lot of otherwise reasonable Americans have it in their heads that a presidency is different somehow. A stolen presidency is a thing apart — and regardless of how egregious the theft and how damaging the outcome, we’re… “obligated” to maintain everything the criminal did even if it’s antithetical to how the majority of us voted — and even if the criminal’s whole intent was act contrary to what the majority want.

Someone please explain where the logic is in this. Spoiler alert — there isn’t any.

We need to understand a stolen election result as a real, viable thing. It’s not an abstraction beyond real action. If someone cheated to win one of Trump phony beauty pageants, the cheater wouldn’t get to keep her crown, her prizes or any of the money. She’d have to give it back — because it belongs to the REAL winner.

Our 2016 election did not and does not belong to Donald Trump and the Republicans. We’re finally beginning to grasp how easily (and likely) Russians or other malignant actors could have altered voting machine tallies. Any voting machine that connects to the internet is vulnerable. Just like our phones and computers. If someone wants to hack in, they’re likely to get in. And Russia wanted to hack in in the very worst way. The election results belong, in fact, to We The People.

Here’s another thing We The People should remain clear on. As I said, we stopped enforcing the rule of law. That doesn’t mean it ever stopped being in effect. The rule of law has ALWAYS been in effect. Hell, we’ve been using it against people like Reality Winner who was among the first to warn us that Donald Trump and Russia had an overly tight relationship. Various police departments around the country have been “using” (abusing actually) the rule of law as the basis for punishing black and brown people.

Republicans will want us to agree with them that while they were running amok, the rule of law wasn’t in effect so therefore their running amok could’t be criminal. We need to disabuse them of this nonsense. The rule of law didn’t let us down, we let it down. But that’s going to change starting right now. The rule of law has always been in fine working order but it cannot prosecute itself. We are going to not only return to enforcing the rule of law but we will make it explicitly clear: henceforth, we will prosecute the rule of law evenly.

That means any time anyone violates it, they must answer for it. Any time & any one.

That way, we’ll know when people cheat — and, hopefully, we’ll get better at responding to it in real time. It should never again take us four years to realize we’re being bamboozled.

And, once we do realize we’ve been taken? We need to act swiftly so that the criminal acts stop immediately.