America’s News Media Has Confused Being “Skeptical” (What They Should Be) With Being “Cynical” (What They Are)

Skepticism and cynicism are not the same thing. Don’t believe me — look em up. If I was being skeptical, I’d want to see proof of something before going along with it. If I was being cynical though? I wouldn’t care about any proof because I’ve already assumed the worst. A pox on everybody’s house — “both sides do it”. If I was cynical, I wouldn’t need proof that “both sides do it”. And if there was any sort of “proof”, it wouldn’t need to be equally distributed; most on one side and a little on the other is the same as fifty-fifty; it’s still a matter of “both sides do it”!

“Back that up or it’s bullshit!” would be a perfectly legitimate response to a politician saying something for which he has zero receipts. It’s appropriately skeptical. Are you telling the truth? Okay — prove it. By contrast, asking someone a “But, what if bullshit is true?” type questions — that’s not being skeptical at all. “What if bullshit were true?” is the quintessential cynical question.

The only place where bullshit can be true is in a completely cynical world. It can be true, it can be untrue, it doesn’t matter. The ending has already been decided. Everything sucks and there’ll be no changing it; we might as well all fold up our tents and go home. Seeing the world cynically means seeing the very worst in people no matter what. Even if they prove their worth, the cynical have an explanation ready to go. They’re not what they seem. Nothing is so don’t trust it. Assume the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.

You might not be disappointed, but you’ll never be happy either. And you’ll never see the truth or be able to discern it. There’s really no advantage to becoming cynical — unless you want to end your days living in a police state where survival is what matters. Cynicism assumes that the bad guy will get away with it in the end — that, on some level, everyone’s a bad guy, so what difference does it make who wins? Everyone’s motives are suspect. Everyone has a political agenda — even if they don’t think so.

That’s rubbish. It’s stupid too. And offensive.

When a Republican suppresses a Democratic voter, the Republican is doing it for an entirely political reason: to win an election so as to put the power of government into his hands and not the Democrat’s hands. When the voter whose vote is being suppressed raises their hand to complain about what the Republican is doing to them? They’re NOT being political. They’re the victim of a crime. One of their rights has been taken from them and that needs to be addressed. Not for political reasons but for reasons of justice and free and fair elections.

If the news media had taken a more skeptical approach to Donald Trump than the cynical approach they took, things might have turned out better for them. They would have demanded to know WHY Trump thought “Mexicans are rapists” before moving on to “pussy-grabbing”. And a skeptical press would never have been content to let that slide. A skeptical (rather than a cynical) press would have handled “But her emails” a lot better. Rather than cynically assuming the worst about Hillary Clinton, the press would have taken a more moderated, evidence-based approach. They would have concluded – as they did – that there was no “there” there.

If you want to see rock solid journalistic skepticism hard at work, watch Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline Whitehouse on MSNBC. Watch Rachel Maddow and JoyAnn Reid. Watch Ali Velshi and Chris Matthews. Watch Lawrence O’Donnell.

If you want to see empty-headed cynicism, watch Chuck Todd. Chuck is the “dean” of “both sides do it” journalism. He has zero intellectual curiosity. Zero perspective. Zero critical thinking skill.

We’ve survived Trumpism. A rejuvenated Department of Justice is going to make the next few years a rolling smorgasboord of corruption prosecution. There’ll always be a dozen or so pots on the boil with a few more waiting in the wings. From the second he stops being POTUS, Trump will have legal problems that no amount of bullshit pardons can assuage. He’s not running in 2024. The only running Trump will do between now and then is, maybe, a run for the border. I suggest slashing the tires on the Trump jet to prevent that from happening.

Polling Didn’t Miss The “Secret Trump Voter” Because He Doesn’t Exist — Unless You Count Russia

To try and explain how polling coulda missed the call in 2016 so badly, the news media & its chattering class invented the false narrative of “the secret Trump voter”. How else to explain the unexpected bump in unexpectedly enthusiastic Trump voters and the concurrent disinterest of Democratic voters in 2016? It must be a mysterious, magical person harder to find and pin down than Bigfoot. It couldn’t possibly have been, say, the result of a highly successful Russian disinformation campaign plus a degree of data manipulation inside vulnerable voting machines. Oh, did I just go all “conspiracy theory”?

Excuse me while I put my receipts on the table.

The news media allows that Russia (vaguely) “influenced” election 2016. That’s nice. What the hell does it mean? Influenced HOW? In what ways? In ways that directly impacted the election’s OUTCOME? If that’s the case, why isn’t the news media rushing into the breach? The very “idea” of a hostile foreign government — Russia’s especially — having any influence whatsoever on a free and fair American election should ignite everyone’s hair. In point of fact, it HAS ignited everyone’s hair. The strange thing is, most of America’s news media doesn’t realize it.

Instead, as they rush around, they wonder why they’re so hot and sweaty — and why their hair feels like flame. But then, our news media can normalize just about anything Donald Trump does. They normalized Mexicans as rapists and pussy grabbing as just something a “different kind of POTUS” says and does.

The response to Russia in any way influencing any American election or politician should have been a giant, “W-h-a-a-a-a-a-t????? We need to know more about this! Has anyone notified the FBI?”? That should have been the response to current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy when he infamously entered a meeting of GOP leaders during the 2016 GOP convention and announced out loud “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Instead of saying “What? Get the FBI on the phone!”, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan famously replied (it made the Washington Post FFS!): ““No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

The secret Trump voter was Russia. Still is.

Can you hear the argument? Too complicated! Oh, really?

It’s been well documented again and again how easy it is to hack into voting machines connected in any way to the internet. It’s also been well documented how all the big voting machine makers in America are, curiously, owned by Republicans who refuse to disconnect their voting machines from the internet and who resist to the death the very idea of Americans using far safer hand-marked ballots.

There’s ample evidence that computerized voting machines can be made to flip votes in real time so that a voter voting Democratic at the machine ends up voting Republican when their vote hits the tabulator. That’s not a bug, it’s the design.

Honest people invite transparency. Not a one of these people is honest or transparent. As the Who song says, “We won’t get fooled again”.

If the “secret Trump voter” really exists, news media, please produce them. No doubt there is one or two. One or two “secret Trump voters” didn’t throw Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to Donald Trump in 2016. Neither did a wave of them. That is, the news media can’t produce those people. They can’t interview them — not in the numbers required (even on a small scale). But we’ve seen hackers break into voting machines. We’ve seen people TESTING internet-connected voting machines and finding that the machines CAN be manipulated into flipping votes.

Hmmmmm… so, one argument has “mysterious people” causing it and the other has something mechanical and testable. I see why our news media has chosen to insist the “mysterious people” argument is true.

The great head-scratcher in 2016 was “how did the polls get it so wrong?” Sound familiar. We’re going to learn that almost all of that “wrong” the polls got it wasn’t. It was the criminal manipulation of voting machines. Here we are, again, scratching our heads. That is, the press is scratching its head because it, to this day, refuses to aggregate the Donald Trump story.

It should be assumed that a guy notorious for lying and cheating (and those notorious for lying and cheating on the liar and cheater’s behalf) will lie and cheat before they attempt to do anything honestly. Donald Trump, after all, has learned that cheating pays far better than being honest. And since he’s never had to pay the price for cheating, why wouldn’t he cheat first since it’s so efficient? Same goes for Mitch McConnell.

Anyone hearing Mitch argue on Trump’s behalf knows that Mitch couldn’t give a rat’s ass about logic or reason or the Constitution. And, hey, back in September 2016, Mitch was the guy who refused to let us, the American people, in on the little secret that Russia was “influencing” the election on Trump’s behalf. Mitch knows damned well that Paul Manafort gave Oleg Deripaska (via Konstantin Kilimnik) the proprietary polling data on Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan (plus Minnesota) that the GRU then turned into weaponized propaganda that showed up on the personal Facebook pages of (mostly) Black, Democratic voters in (can ya guess?) Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Mitch REWARDED Russia by lifting the sanctions on Deripaska — the sanctions put on him FOR SUBVERTING OUR ELECTION!

When Joe Biden takes the oath of office as POTUS, one of the first things that he and former prosecutor Kamala Harris will do is reconstitute the Department of Justice as a DEPARTMENT of JUSTICE. One of the first things a revived DoJ will do is ask all the as yet unasked questions about 2016.

When we start putting Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and the rest of the Boys In The Bund under oath — grilling them for hours on end the way they grilled Hillary Clinton over Benghazi — they will break down and accuse each other of all kinds of nastiness. It’s what criminals do when they realize they’re cornered and they don’t want to eat prison dinner for the rest of their days.

One of the little secrets they’ll give up — if I had a ranch, I’d bet the whole thing — is that the only “secret Trump voter” who exists is named Vladimir.

Think of all these Republican players — Trump, McConnell and the Senate Republicans, Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and the House Republicans and the Right Wing Money standing behind them all — and their various motives. They’re not the same. Nunes, Jordan and Gaetz have staked their future to having Trump in office.

That’s not the same now for the Senate Republicans. They’ve finished the work of hijacking the judiciary especially the SCOTUS. From the RW Money & Mitch’s point of view, they’ve put up a fire wall between themselves and any attempt to turn America “socialist”. The courts will stop the Progressives. To the Senate Republicans, Trump is now a handicap. Every time he opens his bloated orange lie hole, it’s a problem.

In Mitch’s head, I believe this thought occurred: “Hmmmm… I wonder if there’s a way to get rid of Trump — we can tolerate and manage Biden — while holding onto power in the Senate (so we can manage Biden)…”. Keep in mind, Mitch knows that voting machine makers Diebold, ESS, Dominion are all contributors and part of the Republican brain trust. He can get them on the phone any time he likes.

I believe Mitch looked at the approaching train wreck — losing the executive AND the Senate and decided enough was enough. He could tolerate losing Trump but only if he could hold onto the Senate at the same time.

It would be as easy as typing a line of code to sway Republican Senate races while leaving Trump’s tallies alone. “If x is the case then y happens”. At every fifth Republican vote tallied, add another vote. Silently, each time the tabulator counted another five Republican votes, the tabulator would, instead, say it counted SIX votes.

Without a paper trail to catch the glitch, no glitch would seem to have occurred. In time, five votes becomes six, ten becomes twelve, fifteen becomes eighteen and twenty becomes twenty-four. Multiply that times five: each hundred voters produces an additional twenty.

A thousand real voters produces an additional two hundred non-existent voters. A million produces 20,000. I don’t know if you’ve been following the vote counting but 20,000 votes has been the difference in plenty of races this cycle. I think it would behoove the Democrats — with the DoJ operating the way it’s supposed to — to ask a simple question: is there any correlation between the number of Republicans who voted AGAINST Trump but FOR the endangered Republican Senator?

Sure, plenty of people used to vote split tickets — in the past. That doesn’t happen much anymore. We’re a bit more “tribal” these days.

If there’s a big split ticket difference in Republican voting in states where a sitting Republican Senator suddenly won and the vote Trump got? Do not assume right off the bat it’s some mysterious voter you can’t physically produce. Instead, look to the voting machines. Pop the back. Root around inside its guts.

If I’m just being crazy here, so be it. It won’t be the first time.

But, if I’m right?

Add one more set of charges to the long “To Do” list the new DoJ has in its hands.

Our news media loves a good false narrative because false narratives are easy. To get to the truth, you have to step outside the box so as to find the perspective necessary. If you won’t make that trip, you’ll never see the truth. Instead, to explain strange things, you’ll invent magical people — and then broadcast it and call it “news”.

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

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

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

Treason, treason and MORE treason.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah. It’s something our enemy dreamed up.

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

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

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

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

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

Perspective For Dummies (News Media Edition)

Imagine living inside a bubble and thinking that was all there was — while everything else there was existed outside your damned bubble. Most of America’s news media continue to stumble and bumble their inept way through the greatest news story most of them still don’t see. Apparently Donald Trump’s criminal behavior is too, too out in the open for them. His treason is too plainly stated — as treason — for them to accept. His corruption is too de rigeur and anyway, “both sides do it”.

That’s the nature of the bubble, you see. Both sides do it. Right there, by starting from that assumption, every acolyte of both sides do it journalism begins their reporting from a false narrative that originates entirely from inside their bubble. When a Republican actively suppresses Democratic voters — and, for the record, the reverse NEVER HAPPENS — they’re acting politically. They’re preventing Democratic voters from voting because they fear the political outcome. See? Pure politics.

But, when the suppressed voter raises their hand to complain that their right to vote has been suppressed? They are NOT acting politically, THEY are reporting a crime: their rights as a citizen are being violated.

Our news media however, sees BOTH as “political”. Right off the bat, all perspective is skewed which means there is no perspective.

Gaining and maintaining perspective is hard. For starters, you have to understand people. You have to appreciate what makes them tick — and that something does make them tick; no one ever does anything for no reason or “just because”. They may not be able to articulate what motivates them — even if it’s boredom — but something is motivating them to act. That core why explains them and if you haven’t got to the core why, you haven’t explained them.

If you haven’t even bothered to mine that core “why”, you have no perspective whatsoever and never were going to have any. Why are you in journalism?

Assuming you have a functional, working knowledge of human psycho-pathology, you have to dig deeply — ignoring all evasions, dodges and “hummina-hummina-please-don’t-ask-me-that’s”. You have to begin constructing the context in which every human lives — so you can appreciate that their perspective is not your perspective. For instance — a Donald Trump does not think the way, say, a Kelly O’Donnell thinks. When NBC News’ well meaning but truly awful O’Donnell characterizes Trump’s actions, she sees them the way SHE would see them not the way Trump clearly sees them. She doesn’t ask why Trump seems to behave in a criminal manner, she assumes that since SHE wouldn’t do things for criminal reasons, neither would Trump — so, therefore, whatever he did has a perfectly valid reason — she just doesn’t know what it is.

That, right there, is how abnormal behavior gets normalized. It’s how perspective gets sacrificed live on TV. Rather than seeing all the dots, Kelly O limits the dots she can see. Only normal dots can penetrate her bubble — and that’s how she reports Trump: as if he was “normal”.

The other thing our news media seems incapable of doing is aggregating the Donald Trump story. I know. It’s really complicated. There are a kajillion moving parts — and they can be very hard to keep track of. Welcome to Perspective.

You have to not only be aware of as much of the story as possible, you have to REMEMBER it. Maybe if you wrote it down…

That’s the most frustrating part of watching our news media fumble this story. All they had to do was keep track of their own reporting. It’s like how all those journalists still — to this day — say the Mueller Report cleared Donald Trump. Well, it does, maybe IF YOU DON’T READ IT. But, turns out? If you crack a copy? IT SAYS THE OPPOSITE.

We now know that Team Mueller was working under tight constraints impressed upon them by the duplicitous, treasonous Rod Rosenstein. Even so, the Mueller Report describes significant criminal behavior — and, it says, it would have described more had the criminals not been working so hard to OBSTRUCT JUSTICE.

Here’s the bottom line: not a single American journalist should have a doubt that Donald Trump likely walked in the door to American politics a criminal. Not a hyperbolic criminal, A CRIMINAL. Back before the 2018 election, when the Republicans still owned everything (including the House of Representatives) — and the investigations into Trump had only just become public knowledge — Republicans wanted to quash the Steele Dossier or paint it more dubiously. On August 22, 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Glenn Simpson whose research company — Fusion GPS — had been hired to do oppo research on Trump and who’d subcontracted part of that work out to Christopher Steele.

Now — for perspective’s sake — remember: Simpson is a former Wall Street Journal reporter. Initially, Fusion was hired by the conservative Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump. They backed Jeb Bush and wanted all the dirt they could find on Trump. Simpson testified that, being good journalists, a big part of what they considered their due diligence was to get their hands on every single piece of publicly available material on Trump FIRST. What could ANYBODY know about Donald Trump if they just “asked“?

As Simpson testified, Fusion combed bricks-n-mortar book stores and searched Amazon. They sought out every magazine article they could find. They listened to audio tapes, watched hours of video. Without actually investigating (yet), Simpson testified, Fusion GPS stumbled upon ample (publicly available) evidence that Trump had, at the very least, laundered considerable sums of money through his Atlantic City casinos; their bankruptcies were not a bug of Trump’s ownership, the bankruptcies were the point — the better to launder gobs of Russian mob money. To get at the details, in June 2016, Fusion reached out to Orbis Business Intelligence, a London-based private intel firm run by Christopher Steele (who ran the Russia desk at MI6 headquarters in London between 2006 and 2009).

By April 2016, the Washington Free Beacon had stepped back — Jeb Bush was out of the race — and an attorney for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC separately hired Fusion to investigate Trump in April 2016.

The overwhelming majority of Steele’s work product (raw intel which requires a whole lot of perspective all by itself to appreciate properly) has proven true. It’s not hard to do that leg work either — to read what Steele wrote and then to find reporting that supports it. It’s called journalism. It works the other way too — if one wanted to disprove the report, one could read it then find evidence to support that conclusion.

But, if you assume that everyone’s always guilty of the worst possible behavior, you’ll cut the corner — because why bother looking up what you already “know”? You’ll reach your conclusion because, really, it’s where you started. The problem is: your conclusion is bullshit.

Bullshit and perspective cannot co-exist. In fact, perspective is bullshit’s kryptonite. The moment anyone — especially the news media — begins consuming bullshit (especially its own “both sides do it” brand of bullshit) all perspective vanishes. It’s like you suddenly live in a bubble. The only dots you can connect are the ones immediately in front of you while all the others? You can’t even see them.

On the bright side? Christmas is coming! Books are always great gifts. If you know a journalist — consider gifting them with a copy. Even if you just watch a journalist who needs perspective, consider sending a copy as a loyal fan. They might turn up their noses — at first.

But if they’re courageous enough to start reading?

They’ll thank you when they accept their Pulitzer.

There’s A Huge Difference Between Skepticism & Cynicism; Here’s Why That Matters

At the same moment a skeptic and a cynic cock their eyebrows in doubt, two very different things happen inside their heads.

The skeptic wants more evidence before passing judgment. The cynic has already made up his mind. In fact, his mind was made up at the start — and he already assumed the very worst. That means all the evidence that the skeptic finds important is meaningless to the cynic.

A skeptical voter wants to hear from both candidates. For them, the devil’s in the details — and so’s their vote. A cynical voter hasn’t read anything more than the headlines. Both sides do it so voting just contributes to the bad behavior. Cynical voters either don’t vote or vote against things, never “for”. It’s not like they have some vision they believe in. They’re empty and nihilistic. They couldn’t care less if the whole structure blew apart. It’s all the same to them.

In their defense, cynics aren’t necessarily responsible for their own cynicism. Plenty of cynical people became that way, acquiring their cynicism like a virus they picked up by going maskless at a Trump campaign rally. Their cynicism bled through their TV screens. A few may have picked it up through the newsprint they were reading. “Both sides do it” is as cynical as bullshit gets. It paints a picture with a brush so broad all one can see is the damned brush.

During Trump’s impeachment and Senate trial (hey, remember that — that Donald Trump was impeached and is the first POTUS ever to run for re-election AFTER BEING IMPEACHED?), our news media leaned heavily on comparisons between what was happening to Trump with what happened to Bill Clinton when he was impeached — for lying about a blow job. See the problem? Yeah, yeah, yeah — impeachment. Both stories have that in common.

But a blow job and acts that scream “TREASON” aren’t quite the same thing. That IS what Trump was impeached over — election fraud in league with a hostile foreign enemy. No blow job in the history of blow jobs could ever equal election fraud never mind treason. Yet, there was our news media essentially saying out loud that one impeachment was exactly equal to the other. They must be equal because “both sides do it”.

Excuse me for being skeptical.

When Republicans work to suppress Democratic voters (they never work to suppress their own of course — and Democrats NEVER work to suppress Republican voters because both sides don’t do that), they’re doing it for an entirely political reason: to get or hold onto power. There’s no policy basis for it. There’s no appealing to those voters as potential Republican voters. There’s the conclusion that those voters will vote against them and therefore they should not be allowed to vote. And if they DO vote, that vote should not be counted. When Democrats, by contrast, react to their votes and voters being suppressed, that is NOT them reacting politically. They’re reacting to their RIGHTS being violated — in other words, A CRIME.

But then our news media equates the vote suppressors (acting politically) with the vote “suppressees” (acting as the victims of a crime). It’s exactly like equating the victim of a mugging with the mugging. If you were there while the mugging was going on, it must be because you were “part of it”. “Both sides do it” understands — correctly — that both sides have a point of view. It misunderstands that a point of view isn’t necessarily legitimate. The bully and the bully’s victim have distinctly different points of view on their interaction. The bully cannot justify his — unless we see bullying and being its victim as equally justified and justifiable.

Remember back when America (and virtually nowhere else) debated the validity of climate science? America’s television news media would put a climate scientist (with facts and data at their fingertips) up against a climate denier (with nothing but their paid-for-by-polluters opinion). This, already, is not an equal fight. We’re pitting facts and reality up against bullshit.

These two people would share a screen split 50-50. In video vocabulary, a 50-50 screen says “these two points of view have equal value”. They could both be true — it’s up to the viewer to make up their mind. But that’s a false premise — because it’s not challenging the non-facts one side presents as legitimate argument. When the cameras roll, the climate scientist will have to spend valuable time trying to convince the TV audience that the bullshit they’re being forced to argue against is bullshit. Then, when the climate denier does the same thing — arguing that the facts are bullshit — the 50-50 of it all comes home to roost. A news show has given credence to nonsense.

A more accurate way to visually present the truth here would be to have the climate scientist filling 99% of the screen (relative to the value of the facts they brought to the studio) while the climate denier fills a few pixels up in the corner of the frame. The audio track would reflect the same balance. Result? We wouldn’t hear the climate denier’s voice — which is as it should be because they are lying and this is how we should think about the acceptable ratio of truth to lying in our discourse.

Cynicism is running rampant in America because, in large part, our news media is so cynical.

That doesn’t reflect reality and it doesn’t reflect who we really are as a nation. Not the majority of us. To be cynical is to think “Yeah, Mexicans ARE rapists”, women should be grabbed by their pussies, it’s okay if we canoodle with Putin and every other despot on earth, hundreds of thousands of Americans dead from the coronavirus is just “how it is”.

No, it isn’t.

Stealing Elections For Dummies

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

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

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

No, it’s NOT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Point taken. And stolen elections have even worse consequences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Pew Research Center

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

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

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

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

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

The Most Dangerous Tool On An Authoritarian’s Belt (After Propaganda) Is CYNICISM

As annoying as the sound of Trumpanistas Autho Trump is, it’s understandable. One expects bullshit to flow from a Trumpanista.

It’s the sound of cynicism flowing from friends and loved ones that bothers me far more. That’s the sound of Trumpian lies landing where the Trumpanistas couldn’t.

The first thing your textbook authoritarian comes for (so the textbooks say) is The Truth. They murder The Truth so that no one really knows what is or isn’t without Big Brother weighing in. Haven’t we ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia?

But getting to that place where Truth is entirely at the authoritarian’s disposal takes time. There are other stops before full-on fascism flowers. Before authoritarians can have their way, they have to convince enough people that there’s no choice. We might as well do what the authoritarian wants since they’re going to do it anyway. It isn’t necessarily so — that the authoritarian will do it anyway.

Knock an authoritarian down a few pegs — most are such sissies they won’t get back up. They’ll crawl away bawling their little bitch eyes out. They’re schoolyard bullies in need of an ass-kicking. But their goal is to convince you that resistance is futile. All hope is lost.

We probably got here faster than we might have thanks to “Both Sides Do It” journalism convincing us that whatever nastiness the Republicans were up to? The Democrats were up to something just as devious. What can the average person do to fight off corruption when “both sides do it”? Consequently, Americans got jaded when getting jaded wasn’t called for.

Gerrymandering and massive Republican voter suppression has piled on. Where gerrymandering happens, the majority electorate votes one way but gets the opposite result because their “majority” has been split up into bite-sized district pieces any knuckle-scraping GOP candidate could win. Consequently the electorate feels removed from what they tried to elect. They sense corruption in the system. They see it. And decide the system can’t help them.

But, outside “the system”, what options are there to address your valid grievances? None, it turns out. A bad result is guaranteed no matter what. Why bother getting involved?

From the cynic’s point of view, that’s checkmate.

The worst part is when you point out to these people — and we’re all in this together, we all agree — that what happened in 2016 was outright theft. The Will of the American People was literally STOLEN from the American people by an active Russian intelligence campaign allied with pretty much all of the Republican Party. This was a willful theft of an election’s outcome. For a reason — to, above all, hijack the judiciary. It’s not a coincidence that even as Trump’s regime teeters, Mitch McConnell is still cramming radical right wing lifetime judges (not a one of them qualified to judge a pie-eating contest) into the system and down the majority’s throat. Rather than respond, “Gosh, how do we assuage the crime victim’s obvious wounds and begin the process of righting a wrong?”, we get “We couldn’t possibly overturn what happened — how would we do that? Those people would be so angry!”

What about “these people” — US? What about We The People — whose election outcome was STOLEN from us. Worse, not only didn’t we get the choice the majority voted for, we got its diametric opposite shoved at us. Why, I’d like to know, are we so worried about how the car thief will get around once we take our car back from him?

Screw him! He’s a thief. Of course he’ll be angry — he got caught and was forced to return what was never his to begin with.

But, see? Even people who feel wronged here — who WERE wronged — have convinced themselves that the wrong done to them can never be put right.

Why do they think that?

I’ll tell ya — it’s the exact message these criminals WANTED us to get: the crime perpetrated upon us can never be undone. They will always get away with it because they’ll threaten violence otherwise.

The rapist will get away with rape.

That’s where cynicism takes you. The correct answer is “No”.

Resisting cynicism is hard. Damned hard. Because the message coming at you is so pervasive: “resistance is futile… give up!”

Remind the class everyone — what’s the correct answer again? “NO”.

Not even “No, thank you”. Just a curt “NO.”

Ask A Conservative — “What Exactly Do You Want To CONSERVE?” — Bet You Won’t Like Their Answer

A Progressive rally vs…

I know what Progressives want — it’s right in their name: progress. Progressives want to progress — into the future since you can’t progress into the present and you can’t progress into the past. THAT’S called “regress”.

It’s also called “conservatism”. Just as the Progressive Ideal is there in our name, so too is the conservative ideal memorialized in its name. Conservatives want to “CONSERVE”. Ah — but conserve WHAT?

Just as you can’t progress into the past, likewise you cannot conserve the future. You can however conserve the present — what is. And that — conserving what IS — usually goes hand in hand with conserving what WAS. Since it’s that component of what is (what remains from the past) that conservatives draw toward like mosquitoes to a porch light. They believe if they ferociously hold onto what still IS, they can, by force of will, turn back the clock to make what now “is” more like what “was”.

In the past. Because that’s what conservatives want to conserve — the past. The one where they got to call the shots. Those days sucked even when they were the present — unless you were white, male and Christian. If there’s a date in your average conservative’s mind — a landing spot in the past that’s the conservative idyll, it’d be the 50’s — the 1850’s — back when everyone knew their place.

I really do recommend you try it: ask a conservative what exactly THEY want to conserve. There’s entertainment to be had because when you frame it that way — making conservatives own what they really want to conserve — they get totally tongue-tied.

It’s hard to justify taking a whole country back to a time in its past that the majority want to learn from.

That’s the other thing conservatives want to conserve. The white Christian men who held power for so long (often illegally — by keeping others from voting) know damned well how small a piece of the actual electorate they are. They live in fear that one day, America’s left of center majority will shake off their citizenship seriously and show up at the polls every time there’s an election. They know — the more Americans vote, the worse it’s going to be for the future of the Republican Party & republicanism.

The more Americans vote, the harder it gets for conservatives to keep us living in the past.

It’s why, down deep, conservatives have no use for democracy. It’s bad for their health. Oh, the irony…

Elections Are Either Free & Fair Or They Aren’t

Without gerrymandering and voter suppression, America’s true political map would look significantly different than it does now.

Example – Texas, where Republican gerrymandering has given blue-as-can-be Austin more Republican representation than Democratic. In Austin, gerrymandering is literally circumventing the will of the people — exactly as designed. That IS the point of gerrymandering — to give a minority of voters a way to take and keep power from the majority indefinitely. I guess if you could do that with the quality of your ideas, you would…

Without voter suppression, Georgia would now have Democrat Stacy Abrams instead of Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s former Secretary of State.

Among the reported irregularities — 3,000 people were wrongly flagged by the state as being ineligible to vote prior to election day and, then, another 53,000 voters had their registrations delayed by Kemp’s office without adequately notifying the applicants. Can you guess how many of those 56,000 voters were either African-American or Democratic? How about pretty much ALL OF THEM.

The final tally gave Kemp the win by 54,723 votes. If (and we don’t know) every one of those suppressed, uncounted votes (and Kemp’s Georgia Department of State’s got some integrity issues) had been votes for Stacy Abrams… well, you see how that works? If Stacy Abrams had won by ONE VOTE, then she would be governor now and corrupt-to-his-toes Brian Kemp wouldn’t be.

One vote CAN make a difference and sometimes, ONE VOTE absolutely does. “Every Vote Counts” is not bullshit. It’s a verifiable fact. There’s data that says it’s a fact.

In a “Free And Fair Election”, every vote gets counted. No one would do anything EVER to dissuade another voter from voting. THAT would be seen as 1) anti-democratic and 2) anti-American. And yet… American elections are rife with one side (and it’s ONE SIDE ONLY — both don’t do it) doing everything in its power to dissuade, disincline and prevent the other side from using its right to vote.

When you screw with another American’s vote, you’re screwing with their rights. And when you screw with another American’s rights, YOU’RE BREAKING THE LAW. Not sort of breaking the law, BREAKING THE LAW.

Our slippery slide down the slope to corruption began the instant we first compromised The Rule Of Law. The moment we stopped practicing The Rule Of Law evenly across the board, we hurt it. We undermined its integrity — and once a thing’s integrity is gone, it’s just a matter of time before rot completely destroys it. We have two sets of rules. One for Rich White Guys and one for everyone else (assuming the everyone else is People Of Color).

But, what if Charles or David Koch (back from the dead) were to show up at THEIR polling place only to be told “Sorry, dude — your name’s not on the list”? Would either Koch Brother stand for such a thing? Of course they wouldn’t. They’d be on the phone to their high-priced lawyer before the polling place worker had finished their sentence. The law would be rewritten on the spot.

They’d vote and their vote would be counted. Probably two or three times even just because.

But, of course, in reality, such a thing could never, ever, EVER happen. The circumstances could never exist where a rich, white, Christian Koch Brother — reliably Republican — would have have HIS right to vote challenged or questioned or abridged or compromised or withheld in any way, shape or form.

And THAT is at the very heart of the problem. It’s the Koch’s manipulating everyone else’s vote, right to vote, ability to vote or means to vote either directly by their actions or indirectly through their money. Has one dollar of their money ever found its way into a voter suppression effort?

That’s one dollar too many. Same token — if just ONE VOTER is prevented from voting because of bullshit? That election can no longer claim to be “free and fair”.

There’s no “magic number” of acceptable suppressed votes. A suppressed vote is not an abstraction if the vote is yours. It’s a very real denial of your most fundamental right as a citizen. In the face of that denial, the question must be asked: WHY?

Why is MY right to vote being denied me?

Like I said — that’s a question Charlie Koch will never have to ask himself.