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.

Why Doesn’t Our Main Stream News Media Ever Ask The Most Important Question Of All: “WHY?”

The difference between good storytellers and bad storytellers is good storytellers know that a satisfying story will always answer the most important question of all about any character: WHY? Why did the character do what they did to propel the story forward?

Important distinction: “Just because” is not an adequate answer.

Funny thing? “Just because” is the answer 90% of our press seems to accept as “why” Donald Trump does what he does. Why does Donald Trump treat Vladimir Putin like a god? “Just because”.

Why do the Republicans let Donald Trump get away with dismantling the Constitution and the Rule Of Law right before our very eyes? “Just because”.

Why did Trump wait almost two months before doing a goddamned thing about the coronavirus pandemic coming at us? Why did he insist on America buying huge quanties of hydroxychloroquine even though we had no hard data that it was efficacious? “Just because”.

Weird, huh, that none of those “just bceauses” feels even remotely satisfying. Or true.

Take it from a professional storyteller — who relies on getting characters right because the instant we get a character wrong, the audience will bail — no one in the whole history of the world has ever done anything “just because”. They may not have been able to articulate what motivated them, but something motivated them. Even existential boredom — as a cause — shouts “motivation!”

There are myriad answers to WHY Donald Trump does what he does. None of it is a mystery. It is ludicrous that even now there are “journalists” who ask themselves, “Hmmm, I wonder why Trump did that?” as if a mountain range of data didn’t answer that question to a very fine point. Trump’s father and grandfather were unsavory men. Everything about Trump’s own personal history is redolent of bullshit and clumsy concoction.

Everyone in Manhattan knows the truth about Donald Trump — what he is (a con man) and what he isn’t (rich). FFS — as Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017 (when the Republicans in control were doing everything they could to undermine the Steele Dossier) — while doing their due diligence BEFORE BEGINNING their formal oppo research on Donald Trump (as they were hired to do by the Republican Washington Free Beacon), what they found in publicly available material (repeat — IN PUBLICLY AVAILABLE MATERIAL — accessible by anyone in the public and everyone in the news media) convinced them that Donald Trump had been laundering Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos.

Was anyone who watched Trump’s casinos GO bankrupt at the time thinking anything else? Of course not! We should ask (another time) — WHY did/does our main stream news media LET Donald Trump get away with so much obvious criminality over the course of his lifetime? What’s up with THAT? As I said — another time.

The answer to WHY? where Trump is concerned has always been there. It’s not hard. All one has to do is accept it (hell, Trump’s been confessing it all along!) Donald Trump is corrupt. Always has been. We don’t have to keep proving it. It’s as much a stone cold fact as “we are carbon-based life form”. Yes, we are. That is 100% correct.

Also 100% correct and 100% verifiable — Donald Trump has a long-standing relationship with Russia, Russian mobsters, Russian intelligence and Russian corruption. If we took what we have — in public — and took it to a civil trial (where all we need is the preponderance of the evidence — 51%), we’d win hands down. If we took it to a criminal trial — where we have to be dead certain?

Same result. We’ve got receipts. In our hands. We simply refuse to acknowledge that fact.

WHY, I wonder.

There’s not much the average citizen can do — even if they shout their heads off on Twitter to lots likes. We don’t have the kind of megaphone that MSNBC or CNN has. We don’t, most of us, have the followers that your average mediocre reporter does. Our voices simply don’t “broadcast” as wide as a working journalist’s does.

But, those journalists should know that We The People have deep concerns about how the Fourth Estate is failing to live up to its Constitutionally mandated obligation to be the final check on power and its abuse. Whether it’s lack of imagination, incompetence, lack of talent or curiosity, or just plain cowardice and corruption — they are failing us. And the tell is that strange refusal to ever ask “WHY?”

Why does Trump do what he does? Why did Mitch McConnell violate every “norm” imaginable to hijack the judiciary (oops — just answered my own question — silly me — Mitch did what he did TO HIJACK THE JUDICARY – for the very purpose he’s using it now!)

Why did Lindsey Graham do the strange back flips he did about Trump? Why does Devin Nunes behave the way he does? Why does Bill Barr regularly violate the spirit of the law like Brett Kavanaugh pumped up on beer at a frat party? Why did the Senate refuse to meet its obligation to America and convict Donald Trump of corruption?

“Just because”?

C’mon now. We all know the answers to these questions — even our main stream news media. When we turn off the cameras and get as up close and personal as social distancing allows — I betcha the overwhelming majority of them WILL say out loud what the rest of America has been screaming for years now: Donald Trump is a fully owned asset of Vladimir Putin & Russia.

And Saudi Arabia. And China. And the UAE. And Turkey. And Israel. And who knows who else.

We would have gotten to the end of this awful story we’re all living inside of eons ago if our news media had just asked “Why” and stuck to their guns about getting an answer before moving on to anything else. “WHY are Mexicans rapists?” “Why do you grab pussies?”

Hey, even ask WHY “but her emails” — especially now, in hindsight — with every member of the Trump family using private email servers just like they accused HRC of doing. Yes, please — ask “WHY?”

I’ll answer my own question — WHY does our main stream news media persist in doing this? Because “both sides do it” has distorted everything. If both sides do it, they both do it for the same reason: “politics”. See? Easy? No more worrying about the truth — the real WHY people do what they do.

“How It Feels To Be Part Of MSNBC’s Audience: A Playlet”

As the lights come up, a member of MSNBC’s audience sits down to watch some news. Almost immediately, the audience member is incensed. And… fade in —

MSNBC: Donald Trump said ‘this’ today.

Audience: But ‘this’ is a lie and you know it is. Nicolle Wallace spent a whole half hour reporting on it extensively.

MSNBC: But, what if what Trump said is true?

Audience: How can it be true? Rachel Maddow presented hard evidence on your air that it can’t possibly be true. Doesn’t anyone at your news network ever watch Rachel?

MSNBC: Republicans are treating the coronavirus pandemic politically – but so are Democrats!

Audience: What are you talking about? Democrats aren’t withholding aid from blue states because the governors refuse to lick Trump’s nutsack. Democrats aren’t refusing to stay at home, socially distance or even wear masks.

MSNBC: Both sides do it.

Audience: Do WHAT? Consort with hostile foreign powers to win elections? Do both sides do that? Do both sides actively work to suppress the other sides voters? Do both sides gerrymander states so perversely (in Wisconsin, for instance), that though Democrats won 53 percent of the vote, they got only 36 percent of the seats?

MSNBC: You’re just being political!

Audience: No, no, I’m not.  I’m simply reporting facts – like you’re supposed to do! When Republicans violate the Constitution or the Rule Of Law, they’re doing it for political reasons, right?

MSNBC: Ummmmmm… yeah…

Audience: But, when Democrats respond to what Republicans are doing, that’s them reacting to violations of law – they’re pointing out a fact: Republicans are actively violating the law. They should do that regardless of political party. You understand, right – when Democrats do that—

MSNBC: They’re playing politics.

Audience: But- didn’t we just- does anyone at your network ever watch Rachel Maddow or Nicolle Wallace.  Ali Velshi even – he’s good!  And Lawrence!  Chris Hayes used to be good – but he sucked down the Tara Reade koolaid like a champ.  And don’t get us started on Chuck Todd!

MSNBC: Chuck is a respected—

Audience: Oh shut up. Every time Chuck opens MTP, Tim Russert begins spinning so fast in his grave that if they hooked him to the power grid, he could supply a small city with electricity.  

MSNBC: It’s not up to us to voice our opinions. We just report facts.

Audience: Do you report all the facts?

MSNBC: All of them? Well– we try–

Audience: Does, say, Kris Jenner report everything learned during Joy Reid’s show? We’ve heard interviews Kris has done — immediately following Joy’s show — where Kris acts as if everything learned during Joy’s show never existed. That’s a neat trick. Wouldn’t it make more sense if the network kept track of the story it’s telling — and the characters — and how they evolve every day — and, you know, the way stories are supposed to work — the storyteller keeps updating the story with new information. That way, all your lesser on-air talent could benefit from (and tell the same story as) your topline talent. Imagine that — consistency!

MSNBC: If you hate us so much, go watch CNN.

Audience: We do when necessary. They’re no better. But we hold out hope for you. We see great hires like Nicolle and Joy and Rachel and Lawrence and we get hopeful. You have it in you to deliver great TV journalism. You do it almost every day already — we just want you to do it more. Look — why give credence to people whose announced intent is to dismantle everything? Who call YOU “fake news”?  Are you “fake news”?

MSNBC: No – of course not—

Audience: Are you the “enemy of the people”?

MSNBC: Actually, we are “the people”. That’s all we are – people trying to do our jobs and get the truth out.  But it’s hard because—

Audience: We know.  We get it.  Never mind the coronavirus pandemic – the Trump-Russia story is massively huge and virtually impossible for anyone to fully grasp because there are so many moving parts.  It takes a team to connect all the dots.  But, it’s incumbent on you to do the connecting.

MSNBC: We’re trying—

Audience: Try harder.  Better yet – sit down and watch Nicolle Wallace. Watch Rachel Maddow. Watch Ali Velshi. If they can do it, so can everyone else on your air.

MSNBC: Hmmmmmm, ya suppose?

Audience: Well, not everyone, of course—

MSNBC: Chuck’s a non-starter—

Audience: Careful – did you not realize your mic was still on?

MSNBC: We hate when that happens.

Audience: Welcome to our Brave New World.

And… SCENE!

What Will Americans Do If Trump Goes For Broke — And “Makes Us” An Authoritarian Shithole?

Remember back not so long ago when wacky people on the left said things like “Russia controls Trump!” and people would laugh at us? Remember back when people would, reluctantly, compare Trump & Republicans to Nazis and other people would lose their shit because “how dare you compare anyone to Nazis!”?

What Trump & the Republican Party are doing is (trying to) turn America into the authoritarian paradise they’ve always dreamed of. Conservatives want to conserve what is, remember. And what is is what remains of the past. Conservatives want to turn America back into the White Authoritarian Paradise of their dreams — a fondly remembered slave state circa 1850 where women couldn’t vote, black people were counted as 3/5 of a white person and owning other humans was justified by the gobbledygook in their 2500 year old book of supposed wisdom.

The precedent to our problem was a decision made by the RW money — the Kochs, the Mercers — to USE their money to subvert America’s future to what THEY wanted it to be (the actual Will of the People be damned). The Koch’s saw demographic annihilation in their future and moved to do something about it. Since they couldn’t effectively stop America from becoming more diverse, they put their money into limiting any political power those diverse Americans might have for the foreseeable future.

That’s the whole point of Mitch McConnell’s mission to hijack the judiciary. To reject the Will Of The People in favor of the will of the Koch Bros.

So far, Mitch & the Republicans have managed to work in the extreme background. Now they’ve been dragged into the light. Mitch has said he won’t allow any more “rescue packages” for ordinary Americans. He wants to see Blue States all go bankrupt (never mind that it’s blue states that literally PAY FOR red states and, as we speak, red states are plunging into the very same economic chaos but without the capacity or dynamism afterwards to resurrect themselves).

Mitch will change his tune because he’ll have to or the people of Kentucky will come after him with torches and pitchforks. But even then, Mitch will try to limit the help ordinary Americans get. Mitch won’t have “socialism” in America — not unless it’s corporate socialism in which case — bring it!

The initial Republican coup d’etat relied on our reluctance to accept that the Republicans were capable of doing something so monstrous, evil and corrupt. That was just Democrats being hyperbolic and “political”. That was what the news media told us, remember? Both sides do it anyway, right?

Now we all see how corrupt Republicans are. And now that Bill Barr has stripped himself naked in front of us all, we can see just how nakedly corrupt Barr is — as is the whole Republican game plan to permanently install minority rule. Barr wiped his ass with the Rule of Law then pissed all over it for good measure. Barr just said that the history of this time will get written by the winners — meaning himself and his corrupt Republican co-conspirators.

Um, no, Bill. That won’t happen. The majority of Americans don’t want what you want. They want the opposite and have voted that way only to have their votes suppressed, blocked or not counted. While Americans are too, too slow to take to the streets, when pressed, we do and we will.

Want to know if we’re pressed enough yet? Wisconsinites risked sickness and death to vote in a primary that was mostly focused on keeping a conservative state supreme court justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court bench. They didn’t just defeat this conservative shit, they blew him away with the turnout.

In order for Mitch McConnell to have his way, every single group Republicans, their racism, their misogyny, their bigotry, their cruelty, their greed, their ignorance, their parsimony, their incompetence, their treachery and their corruption have touched will have to lie down. That’s a lot of Americans.

It’s the majority of us, in fact. What separates an America from a Nazi Germany is that, even though most Germans did not, in fact, go along with what Hitler and the National Socialists were doing, all of those Germans were “German”. That’s a very powerful tribal connection and, being social creatures, the last thing any human wants is to be cast off from her tribe. To be ex-communicated from it.

Americans may feel kinship with other Americans but we’re also parts of many other tribes to which we feel deep connections. Now, more than ever, non-white tribes see themselves and their tribe’s particular relationship with America in stark relief. Californians feel kinship toward other Californians. Angelenos feel kinship toward other Agelenos.

Trump & his Republican co-conspirators can’t even count on the armed forces to back them up — should they push this to that level. Trump may be “commander-in-chief” but our soldiers have already face questions of whether or not they have to follow immoral orders. They don’t.

Making America’s voting entirely vote-by-mail will deprive Republicans of a significant device they’ve used to cheat — the vulnerability to the internet of voting systems. Only hand-marked ballots are completely unhackable (though a well-monitored vote-by-mail system comes in second).

The blue voting surges that started in 2018 and continued since have only increased in size and intensity. Again – despite (or maybe because of) dangerously partisan decisions by the SCOTUS (to force Wisconsinites to vote despite the pandemic), more Americans are voting. As Trump himself has said out loud: when more Americans vote, it’s bad for Republicans.

Donald and Mitch and Bill and Mike (Pompeo & Pence & Flynn) all expect America to just “give in” to this physical assault on our democratic republic. They’re going to be in for a very rude surprise. It simply will not go down that way.

African Americans aren’t going to just “go along with this”. Neither will Latino-Americans or Jewish Americans or Asian Americans or LGBTQ Americans or female Americans or ANY American who isn’t a die-hard, go-down-with-the-ship Trumpanista. Yes, yes, yes — Americans are quick to anger but slow to flash it in the streets (doing it on social media is so much easier). But everything’s changed now.

Everything.

We were NEVER going to be an authoritarian shithole except in the minds of authoritarian shitheads.

The country will split apart before surrendering to what Trump and the Republican Party are doing. That will be sad and tragic. But the blue states that reconstitute into an American-like entity will eventually survive. The red states — formed into a blob of white rage and stupidity — will almost overnight become failed states and experiments in how not to run a country. They’ll be lucky to make it past six months with functioning electricity or running water.

What will Americans do when Trump tosses his Hail Mary in hopes of staying in power forever (knowing, as he does, that the moment he stops being potus, his legal problems begin)? Easy. We’ll (finally) step up and say “Enough is enough”. Trump-Russia, unfortunately, was complicated. Too complicated for a headlines-only news media to either get its head around or report. Trump-Ukraine was simpler.

We can all grasp what a quid pro quo is.

Trump-coronavirus is easy to understand. Trump’s corruption cost tens of thousands (so far) of American lives. It’s probably destroyed the economy for a while to come. It’s hard to vote for the guy (and his party) who killed your relatives, gutted your wallet and turned your future into bleak nothingness.

Never mind Trump’s base. It’s not about them and never was. This is about the rest of us — the Americans who genuinely care about America because we genuinely care about the wide variety of Americans with whom we share the country. At the end of the day, there simply is no conservative way out of this.

Trump may try to turn us into an authoritarian shithole — and, for a time, he may come close. But he will not succeed. There are simply too many of us and we’re waaaaay too angry.

We Need To Make Corruption Public Enemy #1

We take “integrity” for granted. We take our own for granted — that’s for sure. We shouldn’t. Instead, we should be protecting our integrity like a mother protecting her babies. Integrity is the only thing standing between us and corruption.

Integrity and corruption are literal opposites. They gave literally nothing in common. The moment integrity even looks in corruption’s direction — as if to consider it? Can we really look at integrity the same way again, knowing that it was tempted? What about next time (when we’re not watching)? Will the lure be just enough to compromise integrity — even if just a little?

See the problem? There is no “just a little” where compromising one’s integrity is concerned. Integrity is an all or nothing proposition. You got it or you don’t.

I defy anyone to name a Republican with integrity.

You can’t. Now ask “why?”

The GOP’s integrity problem didn’t start with Donald Trump. In “Both Sides Do It” world, Democrats are just as capable of being corrupt. And Democrats have been and are now corrupt. But let’s talk scale.

Bernie Madoff is a thief. So is the character Jean Valjean from Les Miserables. One stole billions (albeit from billionaires) while the other stole bread to feed hungry people. Both Sides Do It, see? And yet, they don’t.

We’re talking minnows versus whale sharks. Let’s stop wasting our time, okay? Republican corruption goes deeper than just ordinary greed. The Republican money — the Kochs, the Mercers — made a calculated decision to control America’s politics so as to prevent it from reflecting who America really is and what America really wants. Their goal is permanent minority rule — make no mistake. To achieve this, with their hold on the Senate and a willing lieutenant in Mitch McConnell, the RW money (prior to 2016) set out to hijack the judiciary. They denied Barack Obama more than a hundred lifetime federal judge appointments, even denying Merrick Garland so much as a hearing.

Mitch wanted “the American People” to “choose the next SCOTUS judge while refusing to let the POTUS We The People overwhelming elected to do that very thing. This was bullshit. This was a power grab. And as we learned in Jane Mayer’s excellent piece on Mitch McConnell in the New Yorker, Mitch KNEW that lots of foreign players were actively engaged in altering the outcome of the 2016 election.

Mitch, don’t forget, refused to let Barack Obama tell We The People the truth in September 2016 about what Russia was up to. Mitch threatened to go nuclear, screeching about how Obama was “politicizing the intelligence”. No, Mitch, what Obama wanted to do was tell America the truth. What YOU wanted to do was be corrupt.

Now, here’s the deal — and we have to stick to it — but we have to acknowledge, going in, that it’s going to be hard. The Rule Of Law is or it isn’t. It plays by the same “rules” as Integrity. The instant we make an exception to the Rule Of Law (invariably for someone rich or powerful), it’s just a matter of time (and continuing corruption — because it follows as naturally as water running down a hill) before the whole structure collapses. Again.

No exceptions. For anyone Period.

That means the moment anyone tries to take advantage of anyone else or of the system itself, we investigate them, prosecute them (as warranted), sentence them, punish them and (if it’s in the cards) rehabilitate them — all fairly.

In the case of the Republican Party — all those people without an ounce of integrity — that’s going to hurt. A lot. Considering what they’ve done and the fact that every last one of them has at least something to answer for (even Mitt Romney has “inklings” of what Mitch McConnell is really up to and has not gone to the FBI or other “proper authorities”), the return of the Rule Of Law will dictate the end of the Republican Party.

Well, either it will be the “end” of the GOP or it will a null set as a political party — a party with literally no one in it.

Who would want to run for office as a Republican when the Republican Brand is the Corruption Brand? Going forward, it’s going to be hard enough finding Republicans who aren’t either dead or knocked down a few pegs by coronavirus. We all know what the investigations of the Trump response will turn up: a miasma of personal financial gain being used to leverage American foreign policy for even more personal financial gain — all in the middle of a catastrophe. And we all know that the Republican Party has enabled every last bit of it.

Just like integrity is all or nothing, so is corruption. Donald Trump may be the most corrupt human in history. That’s hyperbole. There’ve been plenty of corrupt assholes to equal Donald Trump. Our problem is none of those assholes ever stole the American presidency.

There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain from making “Anti-Corruption” one of the central themes of the Democratic Party’s 2020 campaign. Aside from the corrupt, no one wants corruption.

It’s This Simple: Every Single Judge Trump Nominated MUST Be Voided (SCOTUS Included): The Rule Of Law DEMANDS IT

The Rule Of Law is coming back — one way or another. The storyteller in me can’t see a storyline where an extreme (and extremist) minority party like the Republicans forces a state of permanent minority rule on America (and — most importantly — AMERICANS) and gets away with it. We’re way too independent for that. We’re way to diverse to tolerate it (not enough herd uniformity to get enough of us to just “go along” — our very cultures won’t let us do it).

What also mitigates seriously against the GOP getting away with this soft coup d’etat power grab — that’s what election 2016 was actually — is how woke America’s women have become. And that’s women of every color, culture and creed in America. African American voters have always been woke — especially African American women. Their wokeness — their righteous indignation — their unbreakable will to endure in the face of the worst injustice — is flowing out into the collective psyche. Its time has come and it will not sit down again.

The Rule Of Law cannot be compromised. We’ve now learned that lesson the hard way. It simply can’t tolerate us applying the Rule Of Law to some citizens but not others — especially when those others have money. The Rule Of Law must be applied equally. And when people break it, they must all be treated the same — from start to finish. The Rule Of Law says quite explicitly how one can and cannot run for office.

The Rule Of Law spells out what corruption is — and what we MUST do at the least hint of it. If we see election 2016 from the Rule Of Law’s point of view, we do not see a free & fair election. We see massive voter suppression. We see a massive Russian incursion into the election at virtually every level. We see massive amounts of Russian money being poured into Republican campaign coffers — and every kopek of that Russian money comes with strings — or kompromat. We see the Trump campaign working hand in glove with Russia to coordinate the release of damaging stolen emails. We see Paul Manafort handing Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data focused on MN/PA/WI/MI (an illegal act all by itself). Deripaska handed that polling data to the GRU who (skillfully — they really are good at this) turned it into weaponized Facebook ads. Personalized propaganda that showed up on the individual Facebook pages of actual Democratic voters (who the ads knew to go after because of the proprietary polling data) — almost all of them African American. The purpose? Dissuade them from voting by giving them the idea that Hillary Clinton was a closet racist.

That’s voter suppression. It’s illegal. The Rule Of Law says so. It’s not a question of “did the Trump campaign break the law?” Yes. They did. Then the Trump campaign broke more laws — by receiving something of value from Russia (who they aren’t allowed to accept anything of value from PERIOD) — campaign help in the form of advertising consultation & creation. And I bet we can prove — unequivocally — that the Trump campaign & the whole GOP also broke another law — outright election fraud. If one African American voter stayed home because of any of those Facebook ads? That — according to the Rule Of Law — is VOTER FRAUD.

We know for a fact that one vote can change the outcome of an election. The Rule Of Law does not draw a distinction about how close a race was in order to be applied. ANY violation is the same as a thousand violations. If we can prove it happened? Then the punishment phase of the Rule Of Law must be applied.

The Rule Of Law says you cannot violate it in order to win an election. The moment you DO violate the Rule Of Law? Your campaign stops being legitimate. For real. You are no longer a political campaign. From the Rule Of Law’s perspective, you’re now a criminal enterprise — throw in conspiracy if more than one person knows what’s happening. And anyone who even suspects something rotten is afoot? The Rule Of Law says they are OBLIGATED to say something or they, too, must answer to the Rule Of Law.

Russia set out to put Donald Trump in the White House. They set out to compromise the Republicans — and to use their own desire to destroy our democratic system in the name of permanent minority rule for their own purposes. This wasn’t a “plan” the way we might dramatize it in a feature film or TV series. There were — still are — a thousand moving parts. Putin would have been satisfied just causing all the chaos he caused. I wonder if he thought we’d catch how he literally STOLE the outcomes of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin (three blue states that Trump “won” — no one’s ever done any official analysis of any machines here — and we know now how very vulnerable just about every internet-connected voting machine is).

We need to press Paul Manafort way harder than we already have. He can tell us just how successful Russia was at flipping those three states red.

The Rule Of Law says we must question every single Republican campaign. Can they prove that Russian money DIDN’T flow to them? Can they explain why they said nothing despite their suspicions? Despite what they heard from other Republicans? For instance — when current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy told then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan during the 2016 Republican convention “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”, “Ryan swore the Republicans present to secrecy”. The Rule Of Law says both men should have been on the phone to the FBI to report their fears & suspicions & knowledge.

Instead, Ryan swore everyone to secrecy. Why’s that?

This is treason. Very real treason. We know that Putin created a literal DOCTRINE to go after us via our elections. Whether acting as useful idiots or — per what they knew was happening — something more, something darker and more nefarious — the Republican Party — AS A POLITICAL PARTY — committed election fraud, treason & obstruction of justice.

The Rule Of Law says your presidential campaign — hell, EVERY CAMPAIGN YOU’RE RUNNING is no longer LEGAL. You must stop what you’re doing — because you no longer have LEGITIMACY. Your win cannot possibly BE legal anymore — since you clearly achieved it via ILLEGAL means.

That means Donald Trump was never elected legitimately. That means he never legally had the authority vested in him by We The People to do ANYTHING — propose laws, nominate judges, even live in the damned White House. It would be no different from one of us stealing some CEO’s identity and then making executive decisions with legal ramifications for their corporation. How can anyone be bound to the end result of fraud when we know it was fraud?

If a guy steals your car — then sits in it outside your house and honks the horn — he may say “It’s my car now!” as he speeds off, but per the Rule Of Law (and who holds the vehicle’s title — you), that just ain’t true. The car may not be in your possession anymore but it’s legally yours.

That’s how the majority of Americans feel. The car — our Democracy — belongs to us. But Donald Trump, his Russian pal & his Republican gang have hot-wired it, plowed through the garage door and taken the country out for a greedy joy ride toward a cliff. It is no more theirs today than it was before the election.

There’s tons of “paperwork” to back up our claim of ownership here. To back up our claim that a crime — multiple violations of the Rule Of Law — has been committed here.

The Rule Of Law doesn’t care what anyone’s political party is. It doesn’t care what color you are, what faith you believe in or don’t. It doesn’t care how much money you make or whether you vote even. It just cares that we follow it. To the letter.

When we put characters like Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Bill Barr, Mike Pompeo et al under oath — without the cover of corruption to shield them — we will learn just how pervasive and far-reaching this conspiracy goes. The Koch Brothers knew what they were doing. Same goes for the Mercers. They know what Cambridge Analytica — their damned company! — was doing. Facing demographic extinction, the RW money threw in with Donald Trump and Russia because all their corrupt efforts dove-tailed so nicely together.

The way the Rule Of Law works — if we catch the guy who stole our car? We get our car back. The thief never gets to KEEP what he STOLE.

As Republicans love to bray — “Elections have consequence!” Indeed they do. Stolen elections, we keep learning, have even worse consequences.

The Rule of Law demands we DO something about it.

If We Don’t Severely Punish The People Responsible For Our Coronavirus Catastrophe, It Absolutely Will Happen Again

Donald J Trump is the poster boy for what happens when you let a third-rate bully from Queens get away with things all his life. It’s also what happens when Republicanism — a particularly American brand of ignorant greed — gets to ride its core principles all the way to full fruition. Trumpism is Republicanism with phony, chipped gold plating.

If, at any point in his corrupt career, Donald Trump had been caught, prosecuted and punished, it would probably have been the end of him. Trump’s a bully — but he relies on having underlings to hold people down while he kicks them. Trump knows he can’t take on anyone one-on-one. Literally everyone can kick his bloated, orange ass. He’s a soft, white underbelly’s soft white underbelly.

Trump is cowardice in human form. And so is every single Republican. Just so we’re clear — everyone responsible for our Russia problem is also responsible for our coronavirus problem. It’s the same gang that can’t do anything straight.

The ignorance of Republican governors refusing to issue self-quarantine orders in their states is itself a kind of corruption. It’s a surrender to cult-of-personality authoritarianism. If Trump won’t command a thing, it cannot be done; and if he does command it, it must happen regardless of how illogical it is, regardless of how many people it will hurt for no reason other than Trump said it out loud.

Are we really to believe Georgia Governor Brian Kemp when he says (yesterday) that he only just learned that the coronavirus can get passed through direct contact between people? That, somehow, he alone missed what everyone else on earth already knew? C’mon — We The People deserve a higher quality of horse shit than that!

Understand — it wasn’t just ignorance that caused Brian Kemp to betray his oath to defend the people of Georgia. It was party politics. It was Republicanism hard at work. What’s most galling about “Both Sides Do It” journalism is that it paints both sides with a brush that only Republicans deserve to get brushed with. Taken out of context, sure — conservative values sound like a “choice” we could all make about how our country goes forward.

But the context for conservatism is a reactionary desire to force America backwards like a kidnap victim being hustled into the back of a van (before they’re cognizant enough about what’s happening to fight harder). If conservatives thought they could convince Americans to vote Republican on the strength of that idea — taking the whole country back to some glorified past where white people had even more privilege than they do now — they’d sell the idea on its merits. Problem is, it has no merits.

Republicans are motivated by desperation. They saw the demographic shift away from them several election cycles ago. Not that Republicans ever looked at the rest of us “inclusively”. They’ve always been happy to have a few sell-outs join heir ranks (looking at YOU, Diamond & Slick (sorry — I meant “Silk”) while they became more & more exclusively a white, Christian men’s bitch-n-moan party.

It’s not even a question of punishing a few Republican criminals to motivate the rest to behave. They won’t. They’ll think they deserved to not get caught instead. They’ll see reasons to go on cheating and they will continue cheating and expecting to get away with it. Worse, they’ll see themselves still getting away with one of the most monstrous crimes of all time — the betrayal of a whole country by one of its two political parties.

The moment we allowed compromise to the Rule Of Law — applying it to some more than others — we undermined its integrity. If we do manage to resuscitate it, the first thing we’ll have to commit to is following it — to the letter.

If we do that — and we follow the Rule Of Law to the letter — it will insist that we investigate, prosecute & punish (those convicted) every last person who violated it. It’s the only way the Rule Of Law can actually work as designed. All or nothing.

One of the ways we’ll know that America’s back on the right track will be Donald Trump no longer being president.

The other way is Trump’s party being so far away from power they can’t see ANYTHING from their houses.

There’s no point on relying on sociopaths to show a little conscience. It’s not in their makeup.