In Scriptwriting, We Call It A “Yes-No-Yes-No” Argument; In Cable News They Call It “Cable News”

A confession: though I write scripts for a living, I despise reading the damned things. It’s not necessarily the scriptwriter’s fault; the screenplay format itself defeats many a talented writer. But, storytelling itself can defeat writers too — especially when they’re mediocre at it. Journalists are storytellers first and foremost. Their canvas is the present or a deep dive into something from the past that helped shape and explains the present. But, regardless of when the story you’re telling takes place, the principles of storytelling remain the same. It’s all about adding information, scene by scene, to propel the story forward through all its good parts to a satisfying conclusion. Scenes that don’t add information don’t belong. Instead of moving the story forward, pointless scenes bring the story to a halt — or tell a different story — their own. Or, more likely, no story whatsoever.

The epitome of the utterly useless scene is two characters engaged in a “yes-no, yes-no” argument that literally goes nowhere. Scenes don’t necessarily have to have the words “yes” and “no” to be “yes-no” scenes. They just have to contain an argument that goes on and on without actually getting anywhere. You know, like the American news media reporting any story that isn’t a royal wedding.

With the Donald Trump story, the “yes-no, yes-no” scene often began with Trump doing something outrageous — like giving away secrets or backing Vlad Putin’s agenda over our own. The news media would look to the rest of the GOP, expecting them to be just as shocked as the press was pretending to be. Yet the Republicans never flinched. Their loyalty to Trump never faltered. “Why do the Republicans remain so loyal to Trump?” our news media talking heads would demand to know.

The talking head panel would then kick the question around — same as they did the day before and the day before that. That they kept having the same damned conversation wasn’t because an answer was so elusive and hard to tease out from the shadows. No, it was because our news media — insisting that “both sides do it” — have made themselves incapable of framing any story correctly. If you truly believe that “both sides do it”, it’s because you think that people are all, at the core, alike; the fact that they take differing sides is just them being “political” — which, of course, “both sides do”. But the two sides in this conversation — conservatives vs progressives — are entirely different in their vision for the future and for America.

Trust me on this — conservatives want one thing for the future (they want it to look like the past as much as possible — the thing conservatives want to conserve) while progressives want the diametric opposite. Unlike conservatives, progressives don’t fear the future. It’s the past that progressives want to get away from — our racist, misogynist, corrupt (and now treasonous) past. Of course, we want to prosecute all those the people who did these terrible things first (as we must). If cable news shows really wanted to, they could make these conversations on their air much more meaningful. But, first, they’d have to put down their cynicism and see the world they’re reporting on as it actually is.

In a movie or television script, the goal always is to move the story forward toward its conclusion. Every scene must both build upon the scenes that came before it and then add new information that will propel the story into the next scene. This requires the storyteller to continually aggregate all the new information into the story — baking it into the architecture in essence. Otherwise, every new scene would start — as cable news shows do — by returning to square one where we didn’t know the things we’ve subsequently learned. That’s how we get to a place where our news media can’t decide whether or not Donald Trump is/was/will always be a racist.

Anyone who says and stands by “Mexicans are rapists” is a racist. He’s telling us so. All we have to do is listen to the man. It’s stupid to ask racists if they’re racist to begin with. How the hell would they know? They have zero perspective on racism BECAUSE THEY’RE RACISTS. And racism, like beauty, isn’t in the racist’s eye, it’s in the “beholder’s”. In racism’s case, that will be the racist’s victim. THEY’RE the only people qualified to answer that question. They’re the only ones who actually know.

Our cable news talking heads can’t decide if Republicans are honest actors or not because they can’t aggregate the information that would tell them they’re not. Honest actors don’t obstruct justice the way Republicans do. They don’t stand with seditionists and traitors. They don’t do everything within their power to undermine our democracy because — being so regressive — no one will vote for them. But Republicans do. And we know that because they’ve been doing it for almost five years now. That’s a pretty reliable data set.

In a movie or TV show, the presence of a “Yes-no, yes-now” argument is evidence that the storyteller isn’t up to the job. In American politics, it’s evidence that a Republican is nearby. And so is corruption.

The Reason All Republican Arguments Sound Like Bullsh*t Is Because That’s What They Are

No one ever does anything “just because”. Trust me on this. It’s something storytellers know about human nature because we have to draw on human nature to create believable characters that ring true both inside and out. What’s worse than a character you’ve come to love who suddenly acts “out of character” — not because their author has crafted some ingenious (if convoluted) storyline for them, but because their author has flat out betrayed them. Or, more accurately, the author has betrayed how the rest of us understand human nature. Someone behaving badly may not be able to articulate their motivation, but, even if it’s because their brain chemistry’s funky, they’re doing it for a reason. Our news media quickly made the decision that Donald Trump did what he did and said what he said because “that’s how he is”. In other words, Trump behaved/behaves like he does “just because”.

That was the news media’s explanation for Trump having his head so firmly stuck up Vladimir Putin’s ass: “it’s just how Trump ‘is’.” That was why Trump said “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing is okay!” — because that’s how he is. Ummmm, no, actually. Trump said “Mexicans are rapists” because he’s a racist and he bragged about “pussy grabbing” because he’s a misogynist pig and (like his imaginary Mexicans) a rapist. But, our news media didn’t really care about that because “but — her emails” apparently was more “newsworthy” to them.

To this day, our news media won’t call Donald Trump a racist. Well, a few of them will but most wouldn’t dare. They think it’s logical to ask a racist if they’re a racist — as if the racist had the least bit of perspective with which to answer such a question. Racism — like beauty — is in the eye of the beholder, not the object itself. Want to know if someone’s racist or not? Ask their victims. As the people who could have been subjected to the racist’s racism. They’ll know. They’ll happily tell you who is and who isn’t racist.

But, if you’re willing to let a racist tell you he’s not racist, you’re already willing to give bullshit credence. And every Republican knows it. All they have to ever do to make the American news media compliant is to draw them into that vast Republican Rabbit Hole where truth and patriotism and human decency all go to die. And our news media happily leaps right in. Suddenly, rabbit hole logic takes over. Up is down and down is up and both are sideways. It really doesn’t matter what the rule of law actually says since the Republican imperative is to violate its spirit regardless. And news events — even damning ones! — they lose all context. Acts of stone cold treason become minor details in forgotten stories.

For example — in June 2016 (the Washington Post reported in 2017 when their reporter heard a recording of the meeting), current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of GOP leaders — their nominating convention a month away — and said: “There are two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” It was the nervous laughter in the room that made McCarthy add “Swear to God!” Why was there nervous laughter and not outrage — that such a thing was even remotely possible? Because everyone in the room knew 1) it WAS possible and 2) it was a fact. In fact, it was such a fact that then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan made everyone in the room promise to keep this piece of information (not speculation apparently) a secret.

As Paul Ryan himself put it: “That’s how we know we’re family”.

When, a year later, one intrepid reporter — having read the story in the Washington Post — asked McCarthy about his comment, McCarthy replied that he’d been “joking”. Quick side note: people with no sense of humor (people who can’t laugh at themselves) cannot make jokes. That is, they can’t make jokes that aren’t at someone else’s expense. Kevin McCarthy was not joking when he said he thought Putin pays Trump. That response was flat out bullshit. It was a lie — but, per usual, the “journalist” let it go — because that’s how bullshit and lies get normalized into the kind of toxic propaganda our news media can’t discern from news stories.

But, telling truth from bullshit isn’t really that hard. It’s no harder than separating feelings from facts.

When someone who’s based their point of view on facts gets challenged, they lay their facts on the table. Emotions may validate but they don’t elucidate. If anything, emotions cloud our thinking. That’s why our news media can only see the tragedy unfolding in front of us in Afghanistan. It IS a tragedy. But if you want to report it truthfully, you have to report the whole story — how we got to the tragedy part and not just the tragedy part. Joe Biden didn’t enter his presidency in a normal fashion because his predecessor 1) is still trying to hold onto power, 2) pre-surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban before Biden even was sworn in, 3) denied Team Biden any sort of transition so that they could see this fiasco coming at them, and 4) are all stone cold traitors to begin with. To report this story as “And then Joe Biden screwed it all up!” is insulting not just to Joe Biden but to America and Afghanistan, too.

The truth is, we set Afghanistan up for failure when we walked in the door. We set the hook firmly when we changed our mission from “Get bin Laden” to “Turn Afghanistan into the democratic picture book American could never be”. Joe Biden did not suddenly change his mind about nation building in Afghanistan, he’s ALWAYS opposed the idea. It sucks being the only adult in a room filled with juveniles and their enablers but that’s Biden’s situation vis a vis both Republicans and the news media. From our news media’s point of view however, all those juveniles and their enablers have integrity equal to Joe Biden’s. Their feeling, in other words, have the same weight as Joe Biden’s facts.

No good can come of this.

Want to know why every Republican explanation for even the simplest things sounds like utter bullshit being invented right on the spot? That’s because it’s utter bullshit — being invented right on the spot.

A great day of reckoning awaits the entire Republican Party — at least it better. If America, Americans, the rule of law and the Constitution don’t punish every single Republican who in any way co-conspired to end the greatest experiment in human self government ever then that experiment will absolutely end. Bullshit will win the day.

When that happens, we can prepare for the worst because the worst will happen. Bullshit will finally have superseded truth as our baseline common experience. Betcha Republicans are already drooling at the thought.

At The End Of The Day, It’s ALL About TREASON

If only our news media could aggregate the story they’re reporting. If only our news media did its due diligence the way Fusion GPS did when they were hired (by Trump-fearing Republicans) to do oppo research on Donald Trump. If only Republicans hadn’t gutted campaign finance laws and made dark money the root of our politics — making it easy for Russia to put money wherever it wanted to. If only so many Republicans — including Mitch McConnell — hadn’t been filling their campaigns’ pockets with Russian cash (as if Russian cash didn’t have huge strings attached to it). If only conservatives weren’t so hell bent on conserving America circa 1850. If only Democrats acted like Republicans and behaved ruthlessly when in power (but then, if Democrats did that, they’d already BE Republicans, so never mind). The most frustrating thing about the mess that we’re in is how preventable it was! At so many points in the story, a rush of patriotism would have stopped what Trump and the GOP were/are doing dead in its tracks. Even a quick hit of journalistic integrity would have done the trick.

But, hey, a boy can dream, can’t he?

At the very center of our story are TWO THINGS: 1) Vladimir Putin’s desire to see a “Greater Russia” returned to its “glory days” (plus a desire to be even richer than he already is) and 2) the Republican Party’s appreciation for the demographic peril it faced and its deeply cynical, anti-democratic response.

Putin’s not some “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” as Winston Churchill described Russia. He’s a highly trained, highly skilled intelligence officer (who was smart enough to navigate and end up running the intelligence service which he used to leverage Boris Yeltsin OUT of the presidency and him INTO it). He’s corrupt to his bone marrow — if only because he has to be just to survive. Putin’s less a “head of state” than a crime boss with a government at his disposal. Aside from petroleum, Russia has ZERO to offer the world’s markets. And, in the pantheon of corruption, nothing corrupts quite like oil. Putin himself has two problems: 1) he needs to destabilize Western democracies because they pose a threat to his dream of a Greater Russia. Putin wants places like the Ukraine to be part of Greater Russia, not NATO. Problem 2) Putin can’t bank his enormous stash o’ cash in Russia because, as he knows, Russian banks are corrupt; that means he MUST “bank” his cash in the West where, if the West took its head out of its ass, it would realize Putin is incredibly vulnerable.

Evil doesn’t pay for itself. Someone has to cash flow it. Literally. Or the people perpetrating the evil will find something better to do with their time. That’s the thing, ya see — most evil is incredibly banal. At least, it starts that way.

Check out the “murderer’s row” of banality that is the current Republican Party (that’s BEEN the GOP for a generation at least). Kevin McCarthy? Matt Gaetz? Jim Jordan? Devin Nunes? Ron DeSantis? Marjorie Taylor Greene? These mediocrities all think white supremacy’s a “thing”.

But, more importantly, check out the Right Wing money and what IT has been up to. The Koch Brothers (back when there were two of them; now it’s only Charles carrying the libertarian flame) and the Mercers understood what was coming. They’re very smart people,. Deeply conservative, too. The thing they wanted most of all to CONSERVE was America how it WAS — back when nobody questioned the idea that white people should run everything (and be the only ones voting). Charles Koch saw demographic extinction in the GOP’s future. America as a white majority country is over with. Take away judicial interference a la Bush v Gore or outright theft (Donald Trump) and the Republicans can’t win the White House ever again. The House of Representatives is too mercurial to control but gerrymandering can greatly undermine the majority’s pro-Democratic will. That left the Senate and the judiciary.

The Senate’s structure mimics the Electoral College’s big nod to racism. Why exactly are there TWO Dakotas while Washington, DC and Puerto Rico can’t get statehood? Is it because there were sooooooo many Dakotans? Let’s be real. The reason there are as many western states as there is is to limit the influence urban areas have over our politics. The west was always deeply conservative. But things change; look at California. This is where Ronald Reagan started his rise. That could not happen today. Hell,, Reagan couldn’t even get elected by Republicans today never mind Democrats.

Though the GOP hated Trump and wanted anyone but him to be their candidate — they even KNEW that Russia owned him before they nominated him — when the moment of truth came, they went through with nominating Trump instead of calling the FBI on him. “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump, swear to God!” said current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy as he entered a room of GOP leaders back in 2016. No one seemed especially startled by McCarthy’s pronouncement. No one balked. No one called the FBI. Instead, the entire GOP leadership agreed with then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan. The subject of Donald Trump’s vulnerability to compromise by a hostile foreign government was not going to leave that room. “That’s how we know we’re family,” said Speaker Ryan.

Literally EVERYTHING the Republican Party has done since that moment has been either in service of treason or an attempt to cover up that treason. Once you lap over into treason, everything you do — except confess — is in furtherance of your treason. And everyone who even SUSPECTS that you’re a traitor is obligated by law to DO something about it other than “fret”. Thoughts and prayers don’t count either. Telling someone. THAT is a citizen’s OBLIGATION.

What the Republican Party has done is truly monstrous. It’s unfathomably awful. It borders on the unthinkable. It’s not hard to grasp why most American journalists haven’t yet grasped the full, unfathomable monstrosity that it is. And yet, there it is! Having had their perspective sucked from them by “both sides do it” journalism, most journalists relentlessly insisted that other than a few details, Republicans and Democrats were exactly alike, both parties doing everything for entirely political reasons. That has NEVER been true. Modern Democrats (we now represent the values the Republican Party claimed when it launched in 1854) are the diverse, hard-to-organize crowd Will Rogers said “wasn’t an ‘organized’ political party” . That’s what diversity does — it’s harder to organize but produces far more exciting, resourceful and just-plain-BETTER problem-solving for our collective problems.

E Pluribus Unum is what makes America great. Conservatism, greed, corruption and racism don’t.

Diversity and progressivism do not threaten America’s future. Treason, on the other hand…

Icing v Cake

How many times has a cake with amazing icing disappointed because the cake itself — even if it was good — simply couldn’t match the icing’s enticing promise? Or, more basically, how would we feel about being served a piece of cake that promised greatness but delivered its opposite (while making us physically sick)? . Icing’s a great metaphor. It sets up a promise that the cake beneath better deliver on — that’s how “cake” works,. The icing in the brick designed cake above is funny, clever and a great enticement to sample the cake within. But, what if the situation was reversed slightly. What if beneath every bit of icing meant to look like a brick was a real brick? Okay — clever icing but it leads to a terrible final experience — no one wants to eat an actual brick, right? Or, even if we iced the brick with the best butter cream icing available? We can make that brick look incredibly appetizing — until the moment you bite into it and wreck your teeth. Expectation v Reality. And sometimes? Flat out bullshit v reality.

Sometimes we go even further: we sugar coat poison then serve it up to people.

Politics is “Icing v Cake” on steroids. So’s religion. That’s what makes both so vulnerable — the most toxic political or religious cake can be hidden beneath Kool-Aid flavored icing a la Jonestown. Nobody went to Jonestown to die. That wasn’t the “icing” they bought into. They had no idea how diabolically evil a cake Jim Jones was baking for them all. “The Peoples Temple” sounds lovely because it’s icing. Consider what that icing looked like BEFORE the massacre: The Peoples’ Temple that Jones founded in 1955 was racially integrated and counter-cultural; Jones advised his adherents to live a communal, socialist life style filled with shared purpose. Strip away fifty years of accrued cynicism and you can sorta kinda recall how much more “innocent” we were. Innocence and icing love go hand-in-hand. That’s not a knock, it’s just a fact.

Most of the 918 people who died at Jonestown walked in the door expecting one thing — the glorious icing of happiness but, instead, ended up dead because the cake itself was utterly poisonous. Figuratively and literally.

The Republican Party is another “Icing v Cake” situation. Their icing says they’re a political party. The cake beneath is something entirely different. The cake — and we’ve experienced samples of it for five long years now — is flavored with greed and power lust and even treason. The odor it gives off is pure, unadulterated corruption. Our news media however cannot see the cake below the GOP’s deep red surface. To them, it’s just a red cake doing things red cake does. They’ll even ask the red cake how it tastes — not an unreasonable question but you have to know as you ASK the question that the answer is going to be totally biased. “I taste great!” says the red cake even though, fact is, it tastes like an anal wart covered in putrescence.

That’s like asking a racist if they’re a racist. How the hell would the racist know? He’s too much of a racist to give you any sort of an honest answer. Want to know if someone’s a racist or if the cake they made tastes okay? Ask someone ELSE. And don’t ask someone who hasn’t sampled the cake, ask someone who’s experienced racism directly. Even better, ask someone who’s experienced the racist’s racism directly. They’ll tell you — even as the racist shakes his head in earnest denial — not only THAT the racist is a racist, but just how MUCH of a racist the racist is. Racism, of course, is one of the cakes always available in America.

Cleaning up America’s cake is going to take some time. Republicans and conservatives have been hard at work the past decade destroying our pantry, making our stored ingredients vulnerable to rats and roaches and other gnarly creatures. Worse yet, Republicans sold us out to their crazy friend Vladimir. What else are we to make of “icing” that looks as screwed up as this —

Alas, our news media are icing junkies who have a limited tolerance for cake. That’s a product of “both sides do it” journalism which insists that both sides make exactly the same cake; they just frost them differently. That is absolutely not so. Republicans like their cake dry as hell — white as hell, too. Angel food is ideal because it’s white. Any chocolate on it better come from a jar so they “keep a lid” on it at all times. Progressives and most Democrats are far more open-minded about cake. They make a point of embracing all the kinds of cake there are — especially the multi-colored kind with the chocolate icing.

Marie Antoinette famously said (was famously misquoted actually) “Let them eat cake” when told the peasants of Paris were starving because they had no bread to eat. What she really meant, of course, was let them eat icing. Rich Marie knew better than to promise the rabble anything as nourishing as cake.

Or, What If The Meeting Between Biden & Putin Is More Of A “Showdown”?

For four years, Vladimir Putin looked DOWN into Donald Trump’s eyes as Trump metaphorically serviced Vlad. As current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy knew a full month before the GOP nominated Trump to be POTUS, Putin owned him. As Kevin put it: “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” Not much wriggle room there in retrospect. Kevin knew what he was talking about. That must have been the case because ever since, the GOP has done everything it could to keep America from connecting the Trump Dot to the Putin Dot to the Treason Dot. The undeniable fact is that but for Russia, Trump would NEVER have been president. Russia made Trump POTUS and, since, have done everything they could to keep him POTUS. Too bad for them the American electorate showed up en masse and got in Putin’s way. As the residents of Pearl Harbor can tell us, just because a war’s not declared doesn’t mean its bombs and bullets can’t kill you. In this instance, it’s our democracy that’s under surprise attack — by Russia AND by the Republican Party who sprung their surprise attack on our democracy with the assistance of Russia’s military intelligence. Or, as Republicans think of them, “oligarchs who like them”.

Joe Biden sat in on the meeting at the White House in September 2016 where President Obama wanted to inform the gang of eight — the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate — that our intelligence agencies were extremely confident that Russia was actively engaged in trying to make Trump president. Current minority leader Mitch McConnell got up on his treason turtle legs and warned Obama that if did such a dastardly thing — informing America that Russia was attacking us — he would insist that Obama was “politicizing the intelligence”. I wonder what Joe Biden looked like as he stared down Mitch McConnell that day. Unfortunately, Obama caved. He softened the message so completely that it went over everyone’s head — especially the news media’s.

They still believed “But Her Emails” was more important anyway. Ain’t retrospect a bitch?

Understanding how important our intelligence agencies are — and how to work with them — comes more naturally to Joe Biden (having done it for so much of his career in public service) than it did to Trump who was under investigation by those agencies (until Rod Rosenstein ended it). Democrats unfortunately still practice decorum. Were the treason shoe on the other foot, the Republicans probably would have hung people already. The rule of law can be frustrating to follow. Following the rule of law takes longer and demands more energy and attention than ignoring it or breaking it does. I bet Joe Biden knows things (having been briefed now by a rededicated, re-energized IC) about not only Donald Trump but plenty of Republican office holders that would curl our collective hair.

We’re just learning that Trump’s DoJ (by way of Sessions & Barr) went along with Trump’s demands to subpoena the metadata of his Democratic political enemies including Californian representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swallwell. Every Trumpanista in the DoJ went along with this abuse of power (and violation of the law). Every Trumpanista in Congress feels fine with it. This plays at the same time that Republican lawmakers ramp up attempts to restrict voting to Republicans — all at the behest of Donald Trump who NEEDS Republicans to re-take power completely for one simple reason: otherwise, he’ll be prosecuted for money laundering, tax fraud, election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason. If the Republican Party could stop that from happening they absolutely would. Because they are tied to Trump’s criminality.

If Trump goes down, they’ll all go down. It’s just a stone cold fact. The Republican Party is now a package deal. Vote for them, you vote for Trump. Vote for Trump, you vote for the end of democracy and the beginning of white supremacist, minority rule authoritarianism. It’s not really as if America is facing a choice between the two. We aren’t. Most Americans are crystal clear which America they want — and it’s not the America the Republican party wants us to be. That’s why the GOP has turned to cheating in order to win. The majority wouldn’t vote for Republican ideas if their lives depended on it — which is the case.

Diplomatic principles will prevent Biden from speaking hard core truths to Putin. But, having just visited with our NATO allies — and reaffirmed our collective commitment to stop Putin in every way we can — Biden will speak for more than himself. That’s important when confronting a bully. Biden doesn’t have to threaten any sort of military action; that’d go after the wrong people with the wrong tool. Greed motivates Putin. Greed and Russian nationalism. If we want to pinch Putin hard enough to make him scream “ouch-ski!”, we’ll need to attack his most vulnerable organ: his wallet.

Putin, like all his oligarch pals (and you can’t be an oligarch in Putin’s Russia if Putin doesn’t want you to be one), must bank outside of Russia — mostly here in the West. They know they can’t trust Russian banks since they all own they and they KNOW how corrupt Russian banks are. The last place they’d put their own money is their corrupt banks. That means they need Western banking and investments to harbor their criminal gains. If we attack the gold seams that feed Putin and his pals, we’ll hurt them. Then, either we keep hurting them till they stop or we drain them dry of money. An oligarch without money is an oligarch without power. He’s a nobody.

On the one hand, Putin will savor the chaos yet to come — as prosecution of the insurrectionists begins and, increasingly, draws in Republican members of Congress who helped plan and execute the insurrection. But, it would be absurd to think Putin — with everything he’d done up to that point to make and keep Trump POTUS — that Putin had zero hand in the insurrection. Of course Putin had a hand in it. And those associations will find their way to the surface. Ironically, the insurrection may be the quickest way into prosecuting the entire GOP for treason. Once the idea of treason gets before a Grand Jury anywhere — and more than one traitor gets identified — we’ll have a treasonous conspiracy on our hands — with law enforcement pulling threads that seem to go everywhere.

Prosecuting and punishing every last Republican traitor (and if we don’t punish them or only punish a few, we’ll absolutely invite a repeat performance and soon) will focus the majority’s furor like few things could. Everyone hates being betrayed. Americans haven’t experienced betrayal this disruptive since the Civil War. And, hell — the majority of Americans were willing to take up arms and fight that betrayal.

Our news media — still wedded to framing every story from the Republican perspective — still have it in their heads (having normalized Trump) that his behavior on the world stage is “normal” for American presidents. They think it’s now “normal” for American presidents to have Vlad Putin’s dick in their mouths.

Putin will know — as he looks UP at Joe Biden — that he’ll be keeping his pecker in his pants. That goes for there in the room and outside it. Putin needs to be reminded that, except for its nuclear weapons, it’s a third world shit hole. It’s GDP is 24th in the world, about the same as Italy’s. Aside from crude oil, Russia produces nothing that anyone else wants (including their chaos).

This American leader will offer Putin a chance to get out of the rest of the world’s way. Either Putin will take it or he won’t. If Putin backs down, he’ll still end up sanctioned and his money targeted. But he’ll get to stay “President of Russia”. If Putin continues to be a pariah, he’ll be treated accordingly.

In the background meanwhile will be the ongoing investigation, prosecution and punishment of every American who conspired with Putin even unwittingly. The basic fact is this: Vladimir Putin cannot now or in the past have won an American election. If Putin did ANYTHING – big or small – to in any way “help” make Trump president then the whole enterprise of making Trump POTUS is corrupt and must be treated as such.

As Merrick Garland reminded us all just this morning: nothing is more important to the American democratic franchise than voting and the free and fair elections that make it possible for every eligible American to vote. The authority to govern Americans flows directly from those elections. If we did not elect you, you do not have that authority. We The People did not EVER elect Trump to be POTUS. If not for Russia literally MAKING Trump president, that scourge would NEVER have “taken over” the White House.

Our news media, dopy as ever, thinks this is about “deliverables”. It’s not. The meeting with Putin is very much about everything that precedes the meeting. That’s the context for the meeting. Whereas Trump would ditch our allies so he could openly fondle Putin in public, Biden has sat down with them first. Made peace and rekindled relationships. Then he will have turned to our collective enemy — knowing exactly what Putin has done to us and all our allies. And with THAT in his hand, he will reach toward Putin’s.

Dear America: Can We PLEASE Stop Coddling Corruption?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

People Who Can Laugh At Themselves Never Become Bullies

The joke was on Trump at the 2011 WH Correspondent’s Dinner; It’s been on us ever since

Think of a well-known bully: Donald Trump, for instance. While Trump loves being an entertainer and making people laugh, he’d never entertain his followers by making them laugh at him. Trump’s notorious for his inability to laugh at himself or to be the butt of anyone’s joke (as Barack Obama learned when he poked fun at Trump during the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner). Barack Obama, for comparison’s sake, CAN laugh at himself; in fact, he’s as notorious for being able to laugh at himself as Trump is for not being able to. No one considers Barack Obama a bully. That’s not a coincidence. Even a cursory glance at history proves the point. Hitler didn’t get famous as a painter — or as a guy good at telling jokes. Stalin wasn’t known to poke fun at himself. Nor was Pol Pot or Mao or Mussolini or any of North Korea’s ruling Kim family. Had any of them had a sense of humor, they would never have become monsters. Their sense of humor would have kicked in first; they would have laughed so hard at themselves for even thinking such a stupid thing that the idea would have died right there. Having a sense of humor is essential to having a healthy psyche.

When bullies like Trump or Vlad Putin laugh, it’s always AT someone, never with them. Trump savors other peoples’ pain and hardship. Others’ suffering excites him. His niece Mary Trump has personally experienced it.

Think about the ways Trump thinks one “gets” a laugh. He infamously mocked journalist Serge Kovaleski (who he knew and who’d interviewed Trump many times)

Back when Trump was president, occasionally his people would insist that some awful thing Trump said was just him “joking”. That was always especially galling. The press can’t get it through their heads that it’s not up to Trump or any racist whether or not they’re racist; racism is in the eye of the beholder, not the racist. Racists think their racism is justified; that’s why they’re the worst people to ask! Along those lines, allowing a bully to mischaracterize an act of bullying (that got caught) as him just “joking” — that also demands to be called out.

For starters, the evidence says clearly that Donald Trump has zero sense of humor. It goes without saying since he can’t laugh at himself — and if you can’t laugh at yourself, that’s the proof that you have zero sense of humor. As a matter of fact, it was probably Trump’s not having a sense of humor that prodded him over the line to run for president.

Trump hit the ground already compromised by Putin (a fact the entire GOP leadership knew was true — they even discussed it OUT LOUD a month before nominating Trump!) Putin’s another bully with no sense of humor — although Putin’s pretty good at sounding like he’s funny. Like all bullies, Putin and Trump surround themselves with lesser bullies. The world in their heads is all dog eat dog; humans are just different flavors of Alpo. But, what does an alpha bully di tutti bullies do when all the beta bullies suddenly turn on him? Surely the Big Bully can’t be too surprised when the lesser bullies turn on him or simply abandon the sinking ship. That’s what they would do.

Unfortunately for Vlad and Don, in their bully world, bullies who lose power often lose their lives either in the process or in its aftermath. Putin knows this for a fact. Trump’s about to learn that lesson the hard way. Trump would have been far happier had he lived out his days as the ordinary, bankrupt bully he was, a petty tyrant running a mom & pop money laundering & corruption shop. Playing with the big bullies will not end well for Trump. When his actions cause the downfall of all those other bullies? They won’t be happy until they’ve had a moment or two to personally tell Trump just HOW angry they are.

Unlike Putin, Donald Trump WILL face justice. There’s not stopping it now. It’s ludicrous for our news media to think Trump or the GOP has any political future. The FBI’s raid this morning on Rudy Giuliani’s home and office was the beginning of the Big Reveal. While the feds are going after Giuliani because of his relationship with Ukrainians, those Ukrainians are all Putin backers — which means they’re all assets owned outright by Putin. Like all roads, this one too LEADS TO RUSSIA.

Russia is the ultimate punch line here. It’s the payoff to the sick, awful joke that was the Trump presidency. The Trump presidency was the sick, awful culmination of the Republican Wet Dream of permanent minority rule. And what, after all, is the Republican dream of permanent minority rule than the biggest joke of all on the majority?

“The Big Lie” And “The Giant Secret”

We all know what “The Big Lie” is — Donald Trump’s insistence that, despite literally all evidence to the contrary, he “won” the 2020 election. Stop for a second to savor the sheer lunacy of the fact that this is even a question. We have followed a criminal down a rabbit hole of his making by indulging him. Everything about this question — including the fact that I’m even writing here about it — is bullshit on steroids. FFS, Trump did not even win his first election, as we will absolutely learn — take that to the bank and count on getting rich. That’s where “The Giant Secret” comes in. Trump has to insist upon The Big Lie BECAUSE OF The Giant Secret. We know for a fact that the Republican Party’s hierarchy KNEW The Giant Secret at least A MONTH before the GOP nominated Trump to be their standard bearer. As THE WASHINGTON POST put it — “A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.” The assertion? “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump… swear to God!”

The WaPo reported this conversation, having listened to it because it was recorded! As far as I know, not a single journalist has revisited this story to ask anyone who was in that room – with the retrospect we’ve gained in four years – what exactly current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy meant by “I think Putin pays Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” What made Kevin think such a thing — that Putin was paying Rohrbacher and Trump? Wouldn’t that be interesting to know? Even more interesting to know? Why NO ONE IN THE ROOM freaked out. Not a single person — according to the report — questioned Kevin’s outrageous assertion including then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan. Ryan, at the time, was one of the most powerful members of his party. Another important leader had just said — out loud — that their likely nominee for POTUS was financially compromised by a hostile foreign government — a government their very party had spent decades screaming about!

Instead, Paul Ryan made sure that everyone in the room — who’d heard this — would keep it “within the room”. “No leaks,” the Speaker Of The House told his fellow travelers, “This is how we know we’re a real family here.” A real “family”? Like an organized crime family?

Those same Republican leaders knew what Trump’s hiring Paul Manafort to run his campaign meant. They all knew Manafort’s resume. They knew who Manafort’s friends and associates were (including Roger Stone — a former business partner). They knew his relationship with Russia and with pro-Russian Ukranians because they were all on Paul’s resume! No one had a delusion about who Paul Manafort really worked for. They just didn’t want to know about it. Plenty of Republicans, it turns out, ALSO had relationships with Russia they preferred the rest of us not know about. Plenty had taken money from Russia through quasi legal means (into various PACS so as to distance candidate from illegal contribution). The NRA, we’ve learned, was deeply penetrated by Russian influence — a lot of it in the person of intelligence agent par excellence Maria Butina.

Manafort, as we’ve known for years, handed proprietary polling data (about Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota) to Konstantin Kilimnik which landed with Oleg Deripaska, Manafort’s former client (to whom Manafort owed $17 million!). Deripaska, like Kilimnik, was a Russian Military Intelligence agent. They turned that polling data (Paul handing it to the Russians was illegal) into weaponized Facebook ads that showed up on the pages of Black voters in PA, WI and MI, blue states where the polling had slipped to within the margin or error because of the Comey Letter. Additional voter suppression — via these Facebook ads — reduced Black voter turnout in those three states. That (and here, for the moment, I’m speculating) made spiking the Republican vote tallies (easily done through a line or two of computer code delivered via the internet to every ES&S electronic voting machine or tabulator whose back doors ES&S refused to shut. If, say, such malicious code told these ES&S machines (ES&S is the largest maker of electronic voting machines in America) to “for every ten republican votes add one”, Trump and the Republicans could have padded their numbers by just enough to “eek out” the victories they seem to have eeked out in PA, MI & WI.

Trump’s total winning margin for those three blue states was 77,000 votes!

If you don’t think that stinks, you’re probably a Republican.

From the get-go, Trump’s Justice Department went into overdrive to protect The Big Secret. They did everything they could to narrow the scope of Robert Mueller’s investigation then, it turns out, they (acting AG Rod Rosenstein) killed the counter intelligence investigation into The Big Secret that Trump’s campaign had broad ties to Russia. That Trump himself was… how did Kevin McCarthy put it? Being paid by Putin?

“See something, SAY something”. That’s how we’re all supposed to respond to hearing about someone else’s illegal behavior. Hear about criminals, report the bastards! No one in that roomful of Republican leaders called the FBI. Hell, they all VOTED FOR the man they KNEW was owned by Russia. They told the rest of the country to do the same thing. See something, SAY something? Not like that!

Our news media continues to scratch its head at the question: why, oh why, is Trump so tied at the hip to Putin? ASK THE REPUBLICAN PARTY — they know the answer to the question! Why, oh why, they wonder, are the Republicans still so devoted to Trump. Yes, yes — there’s racism in the mix. But that’s not what’s driving the criminal behavior. We ARE talking about TREASON here. And treason still carries the death penalty. The traitors in question KNOW what they’ve done. They KNOW what it will cost them — cost their families — should they get caught, prosecuted and punished. The rule of law stands completely against them. That’s why the GOP is doing everything it can to undermine the rule of law.

The Republican Party leadership knows the end is nigh. Mitch McConnell knows his time in the barrel is coming. Mitch also has a problematic relationship with Oleg Deripaska. Mitch personally interceded to get the sanctions we’d put on Deripaska lifted so Deripaska could stick a $300 million Russian aluminum factory in poverty-stricken Western Kentucky. Those sanctions, remember, were applied to Deripaska because he took that proprietary polling data from Paul Manafort. Talk about a vicious circle…

Mitch also, don’t forget, refused to let We The People in on The Big Secret when President Obama wanted to let us in — in September 2016 — TWO MONTHS before the 2016 election. Obama had called a Gang of Eight meeting because the intelligence community wanted to inform Congress (so they could inform US) that they had good, rock solid info that said Russia was actively engaged on multiple fronts to try and make Donald Trump president. Instead of allowing Obama to tell us what we NEEDED TO KNOW, Moscow Mitch got up on his Treason Turtle hind legs and insisted that if Obama tried to inform us of the truth, that HE would insist that Obama was “politicizing the intelligence”. Perhaps being overly sensitive to what was actually BLACKMAIL, Obama acquiesced and agreed to make a far less damning, LESS TRUTHFUL statement.

We The People remained in the dark about the cyber attack we were already under. Because the co-conspirators in this massive crime insisted.

“That’s how we know we’re family.”

There’s something even bigger behind The Giant Secret that terrifies the GOP. It’s what will happen AFTER We The People learn The Giant Secret. First, the Republicans fear for their own asses — as they absolutely should. They’ve all committed treason! But, strangely, they also fear for the large cause they’ve all committed to: destroying our democracy and installing a state of permanent minority rule that vaguely “looks like” a “democracy” while it’s really an authoritarian shithole. The Republicans have been marching in lockstep to try and make this happen, Republicans being really, really good at marching in lockstep (being authoritarians).

The Even Gianter Secret that terrifies every Republican is the knowledge that the 2016 election “victory” was fraudulent. But for Russia, Donald Trump would NOT have “won” the presidency and an awful lot of Republicans would not have “won” either. That cannot stand. Russia cannot make someone POTUS and if they do? That POTUS is — as Trump kept telling us he was — “illegitimate”. If Trump’s victory was illegitimate than the authority to govern us that flows from winning elections freely and fairly never, in fact, flowed to him. You cannot get our authority under false pretenses like, say, you’re doing it at the behest of a hostile foreign enemy engaged in cyber war against us. That is strictly verboten.

And a presidency “won” that way is not a “presidency”.

The RW money (the Kochs, the Mercers) are counting on keeping what they stole — the judiciary, those three SCOTUS seats especially. Gorsuch’s seat belonged to Merrick Garland. Kavanaugh’s seat was achieved via perjury during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings (and that cannot stand!) Barret’s seat — formerly RBG’s — was stolen from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — from We The People yet again. This was the whole point of the exercise. The GOP is hoping, praying, that their stolen SCOTUS seats will yet save them.

Here’s hoping prosecution of their crimes prevents that from happening. Oh, the irony… if Merrick Garland was sitting on the Supreme Court, he would not today be the newly confirmed Attorney General. The nation’s top law officer is an honest man who’s committed to making the rule of law a “thing” again. The “thing” about the rule of law? As AG Garland knows, you can’t kind of do it, you have to completely do it. And if applying the rule of law equally (for once!) means you do not cut ANYONE slack, then AG Garland will be obligated to not only pull every single Republican corruption thread, he’ll be obligated to pull those threads until the entire corrupt Republican sweater falls apart — which it absolutely, positively will.

White collar criminals may talk tough but they’re all soft white underbelly. They have everything to lose — and, as the cost of their criminality suddenly crashes down on them, each and every Republican co-conspirator will realize just how expensive this is going to get — and the evidence is going to bury them. The cost of defending themselves will threaten to bankrupt every Republican for a generation. They won’t want that to happen and will begin to cut deals — as the January 6 insurrectionists are starting to.

What will We The People do once WE know the Giant Secret? Will we let the Republicans keep their toys? I, for one, say no effin’ way! If a guy steals my car, he doesn’t get to keep after we catch him. He has to “give it back”. It doesn’t belong to him and never did. The same goes for what Trump and the GOP stole — the correct OUTCOME of the election — the officials we actually elected crafting the legislation we voted for and nominating the kinds of judges WE approve of. That’s the product of our Will — what the will of the majority should have resulted in. We got something else entirely and that cannot stand.

Every single judge Trump appointed must be tossed. Trump never had the authority to nominate them. That authority actually belonged to Hillary Clinton, the election’s actual winner. We may not be able to go back in time and make HRC president, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept what Trump did — and allow him to keep what he deliberately and with malice aforethought perpetrated against us.

Of Republicans, Rabbit Holes And Russia

If the last four plus years of Trumpism feel like anything recognizable, it’s Wonderland. Before Team Biden could begin to effectively govern — the thing we elected them to do — first, they’ve had to confront, reverse, strip out or defuse the myriad ways Donald Trump and his corrupter-than-corrupt admin went about destroying our ability to self-govern. From the first instant Trump cruised down that golden escalator in Trump Tower — “Mexicans are rapists” simmering in his ape brain — he was on a mission to destroy American democracy at the behest of Vladimir Putin. Any journalist in America (or the world) could have figured that out even before Trump got nominated. Proof was there that, as current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it as he walked into a meeting of GOP muckety-mucks, “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” No one in the room disputed Kevin or demanded he produce proof. No one called the FBI to report their suspicions either. In fact, plenty of the GOP leadership (like then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan) demanded they all keep that knowledge — that their soon-to-be presidential nominee was likely compromised by a hostile foreign power engaged in a cyber war against us — “in the family”.

Imagine that: you are deeply suspicious that your presidential nominee is compromised by a country at cyber war with us and yet you do nothing about it. Why’s that exactly?

The truth-telling part of the story has begun. It will accelerate the instant Merrick Garland clocks in at the rejuvenated Department of Justice and the Department commits itself to uncovering all the players in the January 6 Insurrection. Pull one thread and the whole corrupt sweater will (pretty quickly, I bet) begin to fall apart. We don’t want or need Merrick Garland to be partisan to anything other than the rule of law. If he and his DoJ can just do that — enforce the rule of law evenly for the first time in the country’s history — it’s all over but the shouting for the GOP. And there’s already plenty of shouting, banging the table and making a nuisance because grievance and self-pity are the only arguments for staying in power the Republican Party has anymore.

Remember Fusion GPS — the company that first hired Chris Steele and set the “Steele Dossier” ball rolling? When Glenn Simpson (one of Fusion’s two founders) testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017 (the Republican-run committee was trying to undermine the Steele Dossier’s integrity), he pointed out how, when they were hired by the conservative Washington Free Beacon to examine Trump, the first thing they did was their “due diligence”. They got their hands on every piece of publicly available material they could find on Trump — from his birth certificate to his youthful indiscretions, to being kicked out of school for being a cheater and an asshole to the claptrap about his being a “self-made man” to the money laundering fiascos that were his Atlantic City casinos. Fusion’s team got ahold of every book, every newspaper piece or magazine article, every radio sit-down or TV interview. Every time he farted in public. The Donald Trump on exhibit in publicly available material was so clearly an international criminal laundering Russian mob money that Fusion hired Chris Steele to back it all up.

The Steele Dossier — for the record — was proven mostly correct and that’s quite an accomplishment for a collection of raw intel (which is what the Dossier is). Intelligence rarely deals in black and white. There are few “smoking guns” but that doesn’t mean one can’t intuit them. It’s a little like accepting that a star we can’t see really does exist; our proof is all the light moving around it and through its gravity. We use what we know to prove what we don’t.

After the Reagan years, the Republican money (mostly the Kochs and the Mercers) saw that any future “hoorahs” would have to be entirely manufactured. The key to the future — to their future — lay in controlling one branch of government: the judiciary. The House is too mercurial and unpredictable to be a good partner. The Senate, the Republicans figured, would stay in their hands for a good while longer. The executive branch — take away Antonin Scalia dancing like a Geisha atop a pin to make Bush v Gore work logically — and Republicans haven’t had a legitimate shot at the White House in forever. The only branch really still keep-able, the RW money saw, was the judiciary. Keep the judiciary in your pocket and nothing much can or will change in America.

That was the whole point.

Beneath everything, “staying in power” is the guiding principle for everything Republicans do. It’s their Machiavellian justification for resorting to gerrymandering and voter suppression since, they know, selling their “dreams for America” in the marketplace of ideas can’t work out for them because no one but them wants to live in 1850’s America where everyone “knew their place”. It was their justification for flirting with than climbing completely into bed with Russia. Take this to the bank — it isn’t just Trump who’s compromised out the wazoo by Russia. Russia understands cynicism. They appreciate how useful useful idiots can be to their cause. They poured money into Republican campaign coffers through quasi-legal means (via Republicans’ PACs); it was legal in the abstract but throw in conspiracy to commit treason charges and that money stops being anything like “legal”.

Every journalist in America could just as easily have done what Fusion did. Hell, even if they just read Glenn Simpson’s Congressional testimony, they’d get smarter and better informed.

The Republican Party has obstructed all investigation into their relationships with Russia. It’s not much to ask “why?”, is it? Rod Rosenstein personally halted the counter-intel investigation begun by James Comey’s FBI, telling the FBI that Team Mueller was doing it as part of their work and telling Team Mueller that the FBI was doing it, no need for them to focus on such nastiness. Donald Trump has repeatedly behaved toward Vlad Putin like a lap dog. Not a single Republican has wanted any of that investigated.

The Republican Party is a criminal enterprise, not a “political party”. Donald Trump is so clearly a traitor, it should be tattooed on his forehead.

At the end of the day — and the story — it will all come down to Russia, Russia, RUSSIA. Take that to the bank. Donald Trump’s “win” was never a legitimate “win”. If the authority to do things presidential flows from We The People then when a president does things WITHOUT our authority, they are UNAUTHORIZED and therefore illegitimate. It’s this simple: but for Donald Trump, there would have been no insurrection, But for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS.

That’s the mother of all Rabbit Holes.

What’s This Feeling Welling Up Inside Of Us — Is That… Happiness?

Fess up: how many people, other man me, half expected one more terrible Trumpian twist before he boarded Air Force One for his last pony ride? As I write this, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are still about an hour-and-a-half away from being sworn in. Trump, still airborne, is still POTUS. If we could manufacture justice on the spot and manifest it in reality, either law enforcement would be awaiting the Trumps when they land in Florida — and every last one of them would be taken into custody (might as well do it now, it WILL happen eventually) — or, instead, we’d deliver the Trumps directly to Mar-A-Lago from 35,000 feet without parachutes. By the time the Trump Crime Family had crammed onto AF1, pretty much everyone in Washington, DC had abandoned them; aside from Mark Meadows, no one with an official parking spot of value showed up at Andrews AFB to wave goodbye to them.

Mitch McConnell? He’s attending church with the Bidens — and Nancy Pelosi. Mike Pence? He’s got a chair waiting for him at the Inauguration. And both Mitch & Mike know their futures are cloudy. They’re not making nice to the Democrats because they want to — they know what’s coming. They need all the friends they can get especially now that the Department of Justice has taken down Bill Barr’s shingle and hung up Merrick Garland’s. The DoJ has just as much on its plate at the start as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris do. Not only do they have today’s work to plow into, they have four years worth of oversight to catch up with first — including the counter-intelligence investigation into Donald Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin that Rod Rosenstein ended.

It isn’t Democrats having the presidency that terrifies Republicans, it’s Democrats having the Department of Justice. That’s incorrect. Democrats don’t “have” the DoJ, We The People do. That’s the difference (it damned well better be!) Under Bill Barr, the Department of Justice became Trump’s consigliere. Under Merrick Garland, it will revert to being the nation’s overseers of justice and chief practitioners of the rule of law. If Merrick Garland does his job the way we need him to, a culture of fairness — of justice serving the public equally — will permeate every nook and cranny of the DoJ. That’s how good management works — by example and from the top down. Remember how much corruption there was during eight years of Obama’s presidency? ZERO. There was zero corruption because Barack Obama made it crystal clear that HE PERSONALLY would not tolerate it.

We know — having been the lab rats — how the opposite conditions work out.

As mentally and emotionally exhausted as we feel — if I may project “me” onto “we” for a second — watching Donald Trump leave was heartening. It felt good watching him cross from the White House to Marine One — the helicopter that flew him to Andrews. It felt even better watching him cross from Marine One to the podium where, for once, it was tolerable to hear him speak (if only because we knew it was for the very last time as president). It belt best of all when Trump and his viperous family climbed aboard Air Force One for their trip “home”.

I know, looking back, what four years of Trumpism did to my psyche and sense of mental well-being. Hell, my suicide attempt came six weeks after Trump “won” the election. I know what election day 2016 did to me — it struck something deep. I wasn’t alone that night, feeling that something terrible had just happened. This wasn’t just the woe the comes from losing an election. We could feel it — something… untoward had happened. Something not on the up-n-up. Something not quite “legit”. Something, in fact, downright criminal. If only we could “prove” that these feelings weren’t just… feelings.

Four years ago felt awful — though the Women’s March the day after Trump was inaugurated felt like we were collectively picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off and preparing for what turned out to be four years of hard, relentless battle with the darkest part of our nation. We sought relief and thought it was coming! It breaks my heart still to think how deluded we were all were by Team Mueller. It’s not that they didn’t do good work — they absolutely did. But, wishful thinking gave them a far bigger mandate than they, in fact, worked from. We assumed that even as Team Trump obstructed justice, in the background, plenty of heavy lifting was going on; intelligence professionals and law enforcement were carrying on an extensive, intensive counter-intelligence investigation into every last nuance of Donald Trump’s treasonous relationship with Vladimir Putin.

The thing people like me didn’t count on — this story really did run far darker than imagined — was the extent of Republican complicity. I know I kept thinking that surely the third rail of going to prison forever would keep the Republican leadership from letting Trump run completely amok. But, it turns out, once you’ve committed treason — as pretty much the entire Republican leadership has — it really doesn’t matter anymore if you let a treasonous POTUS run amok since — if the other side wins the election — you’ll be going to prison, too, now. Because that’s how conspiracy works.

See something, say something. See something, say NOTHING? We have to ask: “Why?” Why say nothing? Whose interests are you protecting here — since, clearly, they’re not ours? Perfect example? Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (who — ironically — attended church this morning with Mitch and Nancy and Kamala and Joe) who, a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their 2016 standard-bearer, walked into a roomful of the Republican leadership and famously said “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” The correct, moral, patriotic response in the room would have been “Wait, WHAT? Why do you say that, Kev’? Holy shit — if that’s even remotely true, we gotta tell the FBI!” That, alas, is NOT how that roomful of Republicans responded to hearing that their presidential candidate was likely already compromised by a hostile foreign power. No, instead, they all followed then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s lead and “kept it in the family”.

What we felt settle over us on election day 2016 — like the blackest cloud imaginable — was Trumpian corruption. Today, that cloud officially lifts.

The air — filled with coronavirus as it is — smells fresher. The sun feels warmer. And we now have a president who doesn’t wear orange face paint because he thinks it improves his appearance.

For that alone — I feel better!