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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because the rule of law says so.

The Rule Of Law Never Stopped Being “A Thing”; We Just Stopped Enforcing It

When somebody breaks the law, the law itself did not break. Same goes for when a bunch of people — Republicans — break the rule of law all at the same time. It may look like the rule of law has ceased to be, but that’s an illusion. The rule of law still is. The onus is entirely on us for not enforcing it.

For not insisting that the rule of law “is”.

If circumstances don’t remove Donald Trump from his stolen presidency by November 3, then We The People will show him — and the entire Republican Party — the door. The Republicans know for a fact that a massive repudiation is coming their way. Ironically, they have hastened via their greed and power lust the very ending they feared: a socialized America. Progressive — socialist type — policies are now the only way out of the trench conservative thinking has dug for us.

The conservative way out? More of the same that got us here. It’s exactly like Trump insisting that the coronavirus will magically “go away”. That’s a lot of what passes for conservative “thinking”: insisting a thing is so (because that’s what they need to hold onto power) regardless of every bit of reality that says otherwise.

The very first thing that will happen when Democrats take the reins of power will be the return of the rule of law. Not the law itself — but its enforcement. When we begin enforcing the rule of law again, the first thing we’ll have to do is housekeeping. A lot of housekeeping.

The rule of law doesn’t say “But, since you were ignoring it, you can also ignore all the times it was violated”. If we did that, we’d immediately undermine the rule of law’s credibility. That would mean that every time the rule of law was “inconvenient”, someone could insist we weren’t following it anymore — so they can do whatever they want. The way to “fix” that is to turn it over to the rule of law.

It will insist — in no uncertain terms — that they’re wrong.

Everything Donald Trump & the Republican Party did to “win” election 2016 must now go under the rule of law’s microscope. Every single time they violated it must be prosecuted — or we’re back to picking & choosing among which parts of the rule of law we want to enforce and which parts we don’t. Therefore — every single violation must be acknowledged and addressed. If Trump & the GOP violated the rule of law in any way in order to “win” in 2016, then — according to the rule of law — they did not ‘win’.

If Trump — and every Republican who violated the rule of law in order to “win” — did not, in fact, “win” then everything they’ve accomplished because of that “win” no longer counts. It can’t. Their “win” belonged to the Democrats. It should have been Democrats nominating lifetime appointments to the federal bench and the SCOTUS. It should have been Democrats running the federal government and dealing with Russia and China and Saudi Arabia. That would not have been perfect — not by a long shot.

But it would not have been illegal. It would have stuck to the rule of law — if Obama’s administration is to be our guide.

Trump has always projected his illegitimacy. He’s always known his presidency was ill-gotten. He’s always known that the instant he stops being POTUS, his legal troubles begin.

Donald Trump himself is the proof that the rule of law still is and always was. If Trump really believed he had gotten away with it — with destroying the rule of law — he wouldn’t be working so hard even now to circumvent it. Trump & the Republicans know: the rule of law still is — and it stands in their way.

The rule of law never let us down. We did that to it. But the good news? We can fix that.

Can We PLEASE Stop Living Inside False Narratives?

Some false narratives are okay — Santa Claus, for instance.

In point of fact, no jolly, old white man lives at the North Pole where he “employs” (can we please see a labor contract?) elves who make toys for every child on earth — to be delivered over roughly a 12 – 24 hour period via a low tech sleigh pulled by dubious-tech flying reindeer.

It’s a false narrative to tell kids that a human such as Santa exists therefore they better behave themselves. Every time we tell a kid this tripe, we’re telling them we want an untruth to be the basis for their behavior. It won’t be the last time we pepper spray people with untruth and insist they believe it.

Most kids figure it out eventually. There’s no Santa Claus. Yeah, yeah — “culture” and “harmless” and “tradition” but a lie is a lie is a lie. We are still justifying a lie when we could just as easily have told them the truth.

Santa is a false narrative. So is “Donald Trump is a legitimate president therefore we should treat him as such”.

Donald Trump has never been legitimate. He’s been telling us that from the get-go. It might behoove us to listen to him. But, Donald Trump pushing a false narrative — his legitimacy — is one thing. The news media doing it — that’s a whole other thing entirely. That, probably, continues to be the biggest impediment to America solving its problems quickly (or at least more quickly): in the face of mounting evidence — that they themselves were reporting — the news media continues to report on Trump as if he was “normal” — as if his absurd, abnormal-to-its-core presidency was “normal”.

The evidence that our press lives inside a false narrative shows itself every time a reporter wonders aloud if Trump has finally “pivoted” or “changed tone” when all he did actually was read off a teleprompter or NOT act like an ape for two seconds. He didn’t call Mexicans rapists again or tell us how easy it is to score with chicks when you’re famous. Our press lives inside a false narrative that racists & rapists suddenly reform — as if they experienced a religious conversion.

Our press apparently believes in religious conversions. You know, cos “magic!”

I’d love to know who first belched out “both sides do it” and then made that pervasive idiocy the curriculum across America’s J schools. It’s lazy — intellectually, morally, reportorially. It starts by removing itself from the moral equation. “We’re not there to judge”, this brand of journalism tells itself. “We’re just there to report ‘the facts’ as we see them.” But, if you don’t judge facts — that is, if you give all information equal weight — true or untrue — then the the first thing that dies is perspective.

Everything’s a flat, treeless plain. No hills. No valleys.

When a terrible journalist like NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell repeats back the vile, lying puke that Trump or his press office spews — as if it “could” be true (and therefore they’re obligated to report it) — they’re giving it credence. It could be true. No, it can’t. And no amount of “coulding” will change that. Kelly O’Donnell reports virtually context free. I’m sure she’s a lovely person — warm and amiable (it’s how I perceive her anyway) — but an open mic & a camera on sticks could do what she’s doing and for a lot less money.

Bad journalists like Kelly foster the notion that Donald Trump’s presidency falls within the “perfectly normal” range. As Kelly is a trusted, professional storyteller (that’s what journalists are), the public then takes Kelly’s presentation as valid. Trump’s utter bullshit — delivered to Kelly with the utmost cynicism — has now been fed to the American news watching public as if it was “good for them”.

Kelly made bullshit wholesome.

It starts there. Then grows. No — it metastasizes because that’s what this is — a cancer. False narratives are a cancer of the consciousness. They get us believing things that are verifiably untrue (like “the coronavirus will just disappear!” — which will ultimately kill us just like a cancer.

Donald Trump turned his whole coronavirus response into a false narrative — into a whole string of them actually. The virus will disappear. It only kills old people. Masks make me look weak. He turned Black Lives Matter into a false narrative that this is about civil unrest. He turned his entire presidency into a false narrative that he isn’t owned outright by Russia. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect those dots.

You can’t ease yourself off of false narratives. You have to go cold turkey. Otherwise the false narrative will lure you back — using some false narrative.

We’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that Donald Trump’s entire presidency has been a giant false narrative. The rule of law has never stopped functioning; we simply stopped enforcing it. But, when we do go back to enforcing it, we’ll be obligated to deal with this patch right here — when we stopped enforcing it.

The rule of law is very clear: if you cheat to become the president, then you are not (and never have been) president. One plus one can never equal three. If Trump’s very legitimacy is a false narrative then everything inside the false narrative is — say it with me — “FALSE!” An illegitimate president never had the legitimate authority to anything presidential — especially nominate judges (with lifetime appointments). When you consider that getting to appoint those judges (despite Trump’s known illegitimacy) was the point of the exercise — none of this comports with the rule of law. The false narrative would be that it has something to do with Justice. It does not.

A lot of us felt the false narrative kick in the night Trump “won” the 2016 election. We were incredulous, terrified, gob-smacked. But we were also reacting in real time — and with incredible accuracy — to something very real: a strong sense that the man who’d just become president did not win.

We were right. That’s the narrative we should be starting from — that our news media should be starting from.

Donald Trump’s legitimacy is the biggest false narrative going.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will haunt us forever.

Unfortunately, There’s Really No Such Thing As “Fair”

“Fair” is kind of like the Buddhist notion of “Bodhisattva”. A Bodhisattva is someone on the road to enlightenment. But they’re not there yet. If they think they’re there? They’re definitely not “there”. Enlightenment is as hard a goal to achieve as “fair” is. It’s more surreal than real, more abstract than plastic.

And it’s so personal. What’s fair to me might not be fair to you. Even when we compromise (the goal, really), if the compromise is “fair”? Neither of us will like it much; it’s not “fair”.

“Fair” gets harder when there are multiple competing interests whose concept of “fair” contradicts one another. Maybe the problem is we value “fair” to the individual over “fair” to the group. Assuming everyone’s rights are being respected (a big assumption), it’s hard to justify being fair to one person at the expense of a large chunk of everyone else.

When we say “All men are created equal”, we better mean “everyone” is created equal — before the law (which is what it means). If the Law treats everyone fairly — that is, “equally”, there’s a better chance we’ll feel that we’ve been treated fairly. That’s all we can ask. It’s the consistency that creates a basis for “fairness” in our minds. That’s why the Rule Of Law — as a concept — gives us the best possible chance to experience the most “fairness” for the most people.

Racism is inherently unfair. Ditto bigotry, misogyny and every other form of irrational, ignorant hatred.

But, just like “fair” is a human construct, so’s the Rule Of Law. We invented it. And though we want to think it’s “automatic” or autonomous, it isn’t. It does not self-perpetuate. It’s not some perpetual motion machine. We have to care for these ideas and nurture them. We have to renew both the ideas and our passion for them.

As the Trump years have taught us, if you start taking “fairness” for granted, you’re doomed to a life of perpetual unfairness. Minority rule — as an example? Not fair. Mitch McConnell hijacking the judiciary — to give hard core conservative judges power over an increasingly progressive majority? Not even remotely fair. Committing treason to win the presidency in 2016? Don’t get me started…

“Fair” is a muscle we have to exercise every single day. We have make sure we’re being fair — despite the unfairness around us. If we don’t exercise our own sense of fair — that is, fair for the group — our “fairness” muscle will atrophy, wither and die. Before long, we’ll become like every Trump supporter. Their idea of “fair” begins and ends with them.

You want fair? Be fair. Have receipts ready to demonstrate what real fairness looks like. Be prepared to persist. “Unfair” is the bully’s preference and there are plenty of bullies around.

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.

It’s Not Hyperbole: Donald Trump Is Not Now Nor Has He Ever Been Legitimate President Of The United States

Let’s start with this understanding — even in the world of beauty pageants, there are rules. There are laws even — and cheating even in something as trivial as a “who’s prettier?” contest — carries actual legal peril (beyond just losing a wardrobe department crown). Not that it ever stopped Donald Trump.

Our problem is so simple. We have only two political parties. They no longer want to live in (or govern) the same country. The Democrats want to live in this country. Republicans want to live in that country instead.

In this country, where the Democrats want to live, democracy rules. So do diversity, fairness and a level playing field. In that country, the one Republicans want to call home, there is no level playing field, there are just fields where the rest of us are meant to work our lives away for no money. It’s not a coincidence that during the Trump presidency, the rich have gotten exponentially richer. It’s also not a coincidence that the Covid-19 pandemic made the richest of the richer even richer still.

In pursuit of greed, The GOP sold out to the Koch Brothers & the Mercers then Donald Trump and his Russian Oligarch Pals (led by Vlad Putin). So long as they get richer and hold onto power, nothing else matters to Mitch McConnell and what remains of the GOP. Do ya suppose there’s a reason Republicans – and only Republicans – have worked so hard to suppress investigations into what happened during election 2016 and then lie about what those investigations uncovered? Donald Trump keeps projecting what happened. Why don’t we listen to him?

The word Trump keeps floating out there like a beach ball on a hitting T is “illegitimate”. He fears the world perceives his presidency as illegitimate. Why would that be, I wonder?

Sociopath though he is, Trump still knows enough to understand he can never stop being POTUS. The second he ceases to be protected by that ludicrous DoJ rules that says “sitting presidents can’t be indicted”, he WILL be indicted and he knows it. At the very least, Trump will go from being “unindicted co-conspirator number one” in the court case that sent Michael Cohen to prison to being INDICTED co-conspirator number one. Why wouldn’t he?

And — Trump knows this too — that first indictment will set off an explosion of falling dominoes across a variety of jurisdictions. Trump and his family and their businesses will get sued by virtually everyone. And law enforcement (now under the Rule Of Law again) will come after him for everything he’s done. They’ll have to because that’s what the Rule Of Law says they MUST do.

The Rule Of Law says Donald Trump has never been President of the United States. It can PROVE Donald Trump has never been POTUS. It has remedies, too.

An illegitimate POTUS never had the authority to nominate anyone for anything. It’s like any of us trying to nominate the next pope. We won’t be getting into that room actually. We don’t have the authority to be there. And if we walked in the door and voted anyway? Do you think they’d count it just cos we voted?

No.

And if we brought a gang with us (including our pal Vladimir) and took over the voting — cheating in myriad obvious ways to get a result that looks suspiciously wrong (as in the majority of bishops there did not vote the way the vote came out) — do you think that vote would stand up to any sort of historical smell test?

No, it would not.

Retrospect will not be kind to us. We have stood by for three years while a soft coup d’etat runs roughshod over and dismantles everything we thought we were. Our news media has convinced us that crimes committed against us — especially out in the open — can’t possibly be crimes. That’s it. That’s the logic.

And as faulty on its surface as that is, we need to see Donald Trump’s very legitimacy as faulty. The framing shouldn’t be “Donald Trump — an unusual potus — won an election so that’s just how it is”. It should be “Donald Trump is a traitor — working hand-in-glove with Vladimir Putin (and other foreign actors) — to circumvent the will of the American People — including his election and now re-election”.

This will matter “bigly” as Trump would put it (or “big league” — it’s so hard to decipher what that inarticulate shit gibbon is saying sometimes!) when we get to the prosecution and punishment phases of what’s to come. if the receipts prove that, in fact, Donald Trump’s election was fraudulent, then we need to consider the ripple effects of that fraud.

To go back to the beauty pageant — if I cheat to win and my cheating gets discovered? They ain’t letting me keep the crown or anything else that went with sweet victory. They’re taking it all back and kicking my lying ass to the curb — where it bloody well belongs. Car thieves (when caught) don’t get to keep the ride they stole. Even the movie “LaLaLand” had to give back the Oscar it thought it won (to “Moonlight”). The reason? The LEGITIMATE winner gets to keep the spoils.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s how it will be when the Rule Of Law becomes a “thing” again.

The Rule Of Law will insist that we prosecute everyone who violated it (especially if they were trying to undermine its very foundations). It will insist we do it fairly of course. And, if we find these people guilty? The Rule Of Law will insist that we punish them.

if we want to keep the Rule Of Law? We better do as it says.

And the Rule Of Law will insist that none of the judicial nominees Donald Trump nominated can remain on the federal benches they occupy — because Donald Trump never had the authority given him by We The People to nominate said judges. Stolen authority is not THE authority. Added bonus? Plenty of the judges Trump nominated lied repeatedly during their nomination hearings before the Senate. If they indeed committed perjury (boy, do we have receipts!), they can’t remain judges. We’ll impeach them — and they will be impeached.

We’ve traveled miles from where we began with the Trump saga. Imagine if, on the day Trump was sworn in, we’d been as vigilant about Trump, his corruption, his lies, his racism, his misogyny, his TREASON as we are now. Imagine if our news media had been capable of adding information so that their framing of Donald Trump constantly updated; we wouldn’t still be treating him like a “different kind of potus” as some of the news media still think of him. We’d be treating him like the treasonous, corrupt pretender he’s always been.

Yeah, I’m old enough to remember when saying Russia too loudly got eye rolls. When using the word “Traitor” got groans. When comparing Trump to Hitler ended the argument cos you went “there”. But “there”, it turns out, is where we all should have been.

Our choice is going to be incredibly simple. If we don’t void the results of election 2016 — if we allow criminals bent on undermining our democratic institutions to get away with it — we will be setting ourselves up for failure. It would be like letting racists get away with “Slavery, Part II”. Not outlawing slavery was a colossal mistake that will haunt the republic forever. We’re still fighting the Civil War. Make no mistake. It’s still a going concern.

And the same forces that betrayed us then for immoral reasons are betraying us now. They’ve never actually been down with representative democracy because people never want to vote for their ideas. They can’t grasp why no one else wants to live in the 50’s.

That’s the 1850’s.

If The Rule Of Law Becomes A “Thing” Again, It Will Have To Void Donald Trump’s Presidency — Or Immediately Stop Being A “Thing”

The Rule Of Law is a lot like Hamlet. Well, it’s a lot like Hamlet’s dilemma: “To be or not to be”.

The Rule Of Law is like integrity that way — it’s an all or nothing proposition. Ever met anyone with, say, 90% of their integrity intact? “I trust John 90% of the time. It’s that 10% about him that worries me” is not something anyone has ever said. The instant mistrust appears in any way, shape or form? Trust is gone.

The Rule Of Law is pretty specific about most things (though, as we’re realizing, not specific enough about certain important things). It says what one cannot do and what should happen to them if they do those things anyway. One thing it says explicitly — it is against the Rule Of Law to solicit any kind of foreign help in any sort of American election.

There’s no wriggle room there. All v Nothing.

That means if Donald Trump — or anyone working with him or for him — sought or received any help whatsoever from anyone foreign, they broke the law. That means Trump’s campaign should have stopped right there, right then. How can an illegal campaign continue to run and be legit when it’s conspiring with a foreign country that’s created an actual plan to do do the literal thing it’s doing in order to disrupt America?

The answer is “it can’t”. That it did continue running — and that it “won” — shouldn’t make us shrug our shoulders in surrender, it should make us bristle.

Let’s come at this differently. It’s not an election. Let’s say you manufactured a winning lottery ticket that scored you $100 million bucks. The lottery’s rules say you can’t do that. If you make your own lottery ticket and claim the prize, you may be handed the prize but you did not “win” it. it’s not legitimately yours.

If the lottery agency figures out that you might have cheated — and they investigate — and discover that, yeah — YOU CHEATED — what do you suppose that lottery agency will do when they learn you’re guilty as charged? Will they let you keep the $100 million? You better believe they won’t.

That money’s coming back — and you’re going to prison.

Same token — and this is an example even Donald Trump can appreciate. Let’s make it a beauty pageant this time. Contestant T (for Trump) doesn’t play by the pageant’s rules which say pageant contestants can’t even talk to the judges before the contest. Instead, Contestant T seduces or pays off every single judge — and wins. Is that win legit? If the rest of the judges — or the pageant’s backers or advertisers — get wind, how will they feel? Will they agree that regardless of the rules being blatantly violated for the purposes of winning, nothing can be done and the (cheating) winner they crowned is the only person who can be winner now and — despite not winning fairly — will get to keep her crown and everything that went with it including money?

I doubt it.

An office is no different than a beauty pageant crown. If you broke the rules to get the crown, the crown does not belong to you.

Neither does anything that came with the crown. In the case of the presidency of the US, the crown comes with power. It comes with the AUTHORITY to nominate judges and sign legislation into law. But only if you HAVE THE AUTHORITY. If I show up at the airport wanting to stamp the passports of people entering the country, they’ll kick me out — I’ve got no training, no history, no authority to allow anyone into the country.

The same goes for Trump. If he was never the legitimate potus then he never had any of the authority a legitimate potus has. If he never had the authority, then nothing he’s done has been authorized by We The People. Without that authority, those judges & legislation have no legitimacy.

As former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner has pointed out, an awful lot of Donald Trump’s lifetime nominees to the federal bench went before the Senate — for their nomination hearings — and lied through their teeth. They perjured themselves repeatedly. That means they can be impeached — and they most definitely WILL be impeached. Or voided.

Donald Trump — the Projector-In-Chief — has projected his own illegitimacy from the moment he was sworn in before a teeny tiny crowd. It’s about damned time we listened to him.

In A Way, The Rule Of Law Is “Do Unto Others” With Teeth

The genius of our Constitution for all its failings — and it’s got some serious failings (it gave all the political power to white men and we’re still dealing with slavery ffs) — is its establishment of the Rule Of Law as its organizing principle. The bottom line for law-making isn’t the whim of some Donald-Trump-like king, it’s a mutually agreed-upon set of rules that go to great lengths to spell out what we can — and cannot — do to each other.

Put another way, the Rule Of Law describes what we can and cannot “do unto each other”.

Do something unto your neighbor that you legally shouldn’t (like, say, murder her?) — the Law will do unto you. The Law — striving for fairness (and wanting to give each of us the chance to do the right thing) — doesn’t look to see what’s in our hearts unless we violate the Rule Of Law. And then it wants to know “why?”

In asking “why” we broke the Rule Of Law, the Law wants to prescribe a cure — not just for the crime itself but for the motivation. Did you kill someone deliberately or accidentally? That’s an important distinction. And if you killed someone deliberately, was violating their rights part of your goal — because violating someone else’s rights is as bad as stealing from their house. You took something of theirs that was theirs. In other words — killing someone is one crime and killing them because of who they are — a thing they have the right to be — is another crime.

You didn’t just kill them, you killed their right to be them.

The overwhelming majority of us want the Rule Of Law standing between us. Our problem isn’t with the Rule Of Law after all, it’s with its unequal application. Like integrity, the Rule Of Law is an all or nothing proposition. You can walk around with 99% of your integrity intact, but eventually that 1% will catch up to you. It won’t say 1%. Corruption grows with coronavirus ferocity. Just like a virus, corruption reproduces inside of us; it needs to infect our cells so completely that we spew its darkness, infecting others.

And a lot of that infection goes on undetected. It’s the most dangerous part of the iceberg, lurking under the surface.

The majority of us want others to do unto us as we do unto them. We want to be treated fairly because we want everyone to be treated fairly and we want everyone to be treated fairly because we want to be treated fairly.

As I often say here, devout atheist though I am, I consider myself a big Fan Of Jesus. He is not the church that Paul built out of the idea of Jesus — the idea of Jesus as Messiah as opposed to Jesus as Teacher with a simple but profound message (Do Unto Others). Even a simple atheist like myself can manage to Do Unto Others without hurting ourselves — or compromising ourselves.

The moral outrage we all feel now like our skin was on fire is our “Do Unto Other” way of thinking colliding with hypocrisy. The people clutching onto power have always preached “Do Unto Others” without every practicing it themselves. Actually, they practice their own perverse offshoot — “Do unto others before they can do unto you”.

One place where the Rule Of Law differs slightly with Jesus is in its approach to “turning the other cheek”. The Rule Of Law says that if someone violated the Rule Of Law at your expense, you don’t have to turn the other cheek. You don’t get to seek revenge on them but you do get to instruct them — by pointing out in great detail what they did wrong — what that will cost them in time and heartache and financial loss — and how they might get better (so as not to do it again). Being human, we haven’t gotten everything about the Rule Of Law right.

As we know — we still haven’t gotten anywehre close to applying it equally.

But, as Jesus would have us do — we strive to be better. No one — Jesus included — ever said doing unto others was easy.