How Criminals (And Republicans) Think

Inside every criminal’s head is a scale upon which they balance their criminal behavior’s risks versus that behavior’s rewards. If the risk of stealing a six pack of beer is a decade plus in prison — and the risk of getting caught is high, it’s probably not worth it. But, if the risk of stealing a whole country is that two thirds of the people will despise you while cowering in your presence? No big deal. That’s the calculus that criminals and Republicans make as they contemplate the actions that make them criminals and Republicans. The only thing that will stop a career criminal from continuing in his career is law enforcement stopping him. That’s why one of the first things career criminals do is compromise law enforcement in any way they can. Mafia dons buy cops. Dark Money buys politicians. The point of the exercise is corruption. Corruption itself becomes a kind of currency that criminals either pass around like dividends to their pals or wield like a cudgel to keep the less “dedicated” to crime in line.

Because our news media still insists — despite the mountain ranges of information stacked in front of them — that “both sides do it”, they see Republicans as honest actors. This misrepresents them horribly. Even worse, by giving all information equal weight and validity (since it’s not up to the journalist to judge anything), in their reporting, these journalists knowingly equate bullshit and truth while refusing to qualify which is which. Back before the news media was shamed into refusing climate deniers any more air time, they regularly gave climate deniers all the air time they wanted! This happened regularly on NEWS channels and shows: News show host would set up a debate between a climate scientist or believer in climate science like Bill Nye and a climate science denier like David LeGates or Marc Morano (formerly Rush Limbaugh’s “Man in Washington”).

Notice how a NEWS channel set up its shot here? It’s a “50-50” image. In other words, both people — both arguments — get 50% of the screen. In visual language (which most of us understand quite implicitly), CNN is saying: “these two arguments have equal validity to them”. That’s not even remotely true but the visual image tells us it is. The same applies to when any news panel includes at least one person there specifically to lie. If the show presenting the news panel doesn’t make that fact explicit then that fact doesn’t exist for the news audience. And the truth-speaking panelists will find their truths being compared equally to the liars lies.

It gets worse! The “both sides do it” spewing news media — having equated truth and bullshit — set themselves to the task of “analyzing” what’s happening. With their skewed view of the universe and all the people in it, they attempt to characterize the players so as to explain them. But the lens these “journalists” use is their own experience, their own way of thinking. Problem is THEY’RE NOT CRIMINALS and don’t think like criminals. They end up normalizing criminal behavior by recasting it as political.

Or — as so many American journalists insist on doing — they put themselves inside Donald Trump’s mind and assume Trump acts like they act and thinks like they think. That’s how we ended up with a White House Press Corps that regularly gawped at Trump as he openly lied to them. They ascribed political motives to criminal behavior — then reported the whole thing through the non-criminal prism inside their own heads. Trump’s hold over the GOP became entirely political: it’s all about Trump’s ravenous base. Yes, that’s true — to a degree. But it’s not the real leverage Trump’s held the whole time.

Crime is. Criminals understand that the more people they compromise (including law enforcement), the harder it will be for anyone to stop them. Another tactic criminals use is normalization. If everybody’s doing what they’re doing, can it really be a crime? And (as with Trump), if you do your “criming” out in the open where everyone (the press included) cans see it, can that really be a crime? The answer to both questions is hell yes. Crime never stops being crime (the statute of limitations be damned!)

If I attempt to deny another American their right to vote — in any way — I am violating their rights and committing a crime. If I do it because I’m racist, that’s a whole other level of crime. And it is a crime to be actively racist in an E Pluribus Unum country.

White America wants the rest of America to overlook two hundred-forty years of consistently terrible behavior toward non-white Americans (or non-whites who, for whatever reason, came to live and “work” in America). They want every other American to forget about slavery or every deal our government made and then broke with a Native American tribe. They want the rest of us to deny the long term impacts of white racism on its victims (including the very real, generational impacts on its victims’ wealth). And then our news media gets all warm and cuddly with these racists by refusing to call out their racism. They go and ask the racists “Hey — you’re not a racist, are you?” And then they shrug inconclusively when the racist — news cameras in their face — insists “Me? No! I’m not a racist!”

Trust me, CNN, MSNBC, the rest of the news media — when Donald Trump says “I’m the least racist person in the world”, that’s bullshit. The last person you should ever ask “are you racist” is a racist since they have the least perspective on the subject. Same goes for the racist’s racist buddies. They can’t tell you if their friend’s a racist because THEY’RE so damned racist. The ONLY people who can honestly and accurately tell you if anyone is racist is that racist’s victim. They KNOW when someone’s being racist toward them. They’ve had a lifetime of experience with it, don’t forget. Their racism “spidey senses” are always cranked up to eleven.

Ah, but “both sides do it” says that a racist remark and the racist victim’s response are equally valid.

Racists are racist in everything they do. Literally. Same goes for rapists, by the way. When your view of the world allows you the freedom to infringe on other peoples’ personal space at will and without consequence — as a matter of personal power — you will act that way toward others until someone with more power rises up to stop you. Republicans? Exactly the same.

Donald Trump has been a criminal his entire life. Just because he’s never been prosecuted — that’s a technicality, really. That’s us failing to do right by ourselves and remind criminals their crimes are unacceptable to the rest of us and will be treated accordingly. The rule of law’s a wonderful thing but it can’t enforce itself. That’s our obligation. And it’s not hyperbole to say that Donald Trump is a criminal and that plenty of people have always known or suspected this to be true.

Case in point — as I’ve repeated in this space often — June 25, 2017, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a GOP leadership meeting to talk about their soon-to-be presidential nominee. He says — out loud (it was recorded and the recording played later for Washington Post reporter Adam Entous) “There are two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Even in the context of the time — without four years of treasonous behavior toward Vladimir Putin — this is treasonous! One of the head muckety-mucks of the Republican Party is telling other muckety-mucks that their candidate to be POTUS is compromised by a hostile foreign government — AND THEY KNOW IT! And they — per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — are going to keep this criminal secret a secret because “that’s how we know we’re a family”.

The instant you become a co-conspirator to commit treason — as everyone in that room did — you become a criminal! At the very least, you should become someone our news media (who reported the crime) suspects could be a criminal. But not just a “criminal”, a traitor. To report such a person as if there was no possibility they were a criminal or a traitor misreports them entirely and can’t possibly hope to report them accurately since it’s already detached their true motives from the story. Suddenly, treasonous behavior becomes something less — far less. It stops being a crime, for one thing.

And just like that, treason becomes normalized. Criminal behavior becomes political behavior. Crime becomes acceptable to the people who are supposed to be our last backstop against the abuse of political power. Nothing good can come of that — as our current situation proves.

America Is Literally Sick To Death With Republican Corruption

The most frustrating aspect of watching cable news is when the cable news people ascribe normal, political motives to whatever the Republicans are doing — whether it’s standing with insurrectionists, openly restricting other Americans’ voting rights or committing treason (which is what Trumpism is). For Republicans, the new normal is whatever new low Trump has achieved. That means that for our news media, whatever Trump’s new low is — no matter how anti-democratic or anti-American — that’s the GOP’s new low too. Trump started nailing new lows the day he declared for the presidency. “Mexicans are rapists” should have been the end of his campaign. If not for “pussy grabbing”, maybe it would have been. But, if not for “But, her emails!”, maybe “pussy grabbing” would have done more to finish what “Mexicans are rapists” started.

We’ll never know the answer to that. What we do know is that the majority of Americans are done with Republican corruption. We’ve been done with it for a long time, but — finally — circumstances have pushed them to such an extreme that they’ve pushed us to an extreme. The 2018 election should have made the point to our news media that ours is now a woke electorate that appreciates American politics for the contact sport it is. Americans standing in line for hours in 2020 should have been a sign (along with the growing number of Americans actually voting) that we are not living in the past when less than half of America voted — and Black, brown, Asian, LGBTQ and women voting for women’s issues weren’t a collective force to be reckoned with.

Our news media reports the past to explain the future because it’s easier than looking at what’s happening in the present. And the present says something entirely different will happen.

Because the American news media began and existed mostly as yet another bastion for white, Christian men, its over-riding view of the world remains a white, Christian male view. To them, that is a level playing field — a field filled with just them. The power shift away from their level playing field to one that’s actually level is happening albeit too slowly for our collective good. That’s why “Mexicans are rapists” and (especially) “pussy grabbing” didn’t end Trump’s presidency. The news room sensibility is still male above all. If it was female, I bet “Mexicans are rapists” would have gotten a much bigger reaction. I know “pussy grabbing” would have ended Trump right there.

And “But, her emails!”? That wouldn’t even have registered.

Republican corruption is white, male and Christian. It serves the needs of white, Christian men — and, at the moment, is driven to give white, Christian men permanent power over American politics and American lives. Keep in mind, if the majority of Americans wanted the same thing? These white, Christian men wouldn’t have to gerrymander, suppress Democratic voters or conspire with Russia in order to win an election. But, alas, the GOP DOES have to gerrymander, suppress Democratic voters and it HAS conspired with Russia in order to make Donald Trump president in 2016.

It cannot possibly get more corrupt than that.

Still, our news media insists that 2022 — being an off year election — whatever happens in every off year election will happen in this off year election because this year is no different than any other year. Except, of course, this year is literally like no other. A few weeks ago, our news media insisted that Larry Elders would soon enough be California’s next governor. The news media insisted that Californians not running around like crazed zombies meant they wouldn’t show up on election day and vote down this anti-democratic horse shit recall election. But, Californians did show up in large numbers and they decisively told the Republican Party to go eff itself. California is deep, deep blue — not for political reasons but because our values are progressive and we vote accordingly.

Progressives have a much harder time being corrupt than conservatives do. That’s because conservatives are trying to hold onto something — the past. They’re trying to hold onto power and money. That is what motivates corruption — a fear of losing money and power. Corruption means to hold onto both forever.

Literally everything on the Republican agenda is corrupt, starting with their criminal determination to ignore the results of election 2020. It is corrupt to say that any election you lose is corrupt. It’s corruption projecting.

Any day now, a legal bomb could drop on Donald Trump’s head. Georgia could indict him for election interference. New York could indict him for tax evasion and other financial crimes. At any moment, the DoJ could pierce the veil protecting Congress members from indictment for their roles in the January 6 insurrection. Those charges are coming — we all know it. So do those members of Congress. And charges will come shortly thereafter connecting Trump himself to the insurrection’s planning. End of the day? What happened on January 6 depends on what happened during the planning that went on January third, fourth and fifth.

That’s more corruption.

The reason our news media isn’t sick of corruption is that corruption is their meal ticket. You’d think they’d be better at sniffing it out and covering it. Of course, some are — and we as a nation are grateful. It’s all the others who should quit the profession. They’re simply not suited to journalism — or storytelling in general. They think everyone’s corrupt.

We’re not, of course. That’s why corruption is such a problem for those who aren’t corrupt. Not being corrupt, we detest what corruption and the corrupt do to our normal lives.

As goes California, so will go most of America. We used to be deeply red. Now? Republicans can’t get arrested in most of California. They definitely can’t get elected as governor — even under the bizarro-world rules of a California recall election.

Dear Democrats And The News Media: One Cannot Be “Bi-Partisan” With Pirates, Perverts And Traitors

Our news media’s absurd obsession with “bi-partisanship” is a direct outgrowth of their absurd obsession that “both sides do it”. Once you’ve convinced yourself that the only thing separating Democrats from Republicans is the letter affixed to their last names, you’ve already false equivalenced yourself into a corner. The problem with “both sides do it” brand journalism (other than the fact that it’s complete BS) is that, by its nature, it can’t aggregate information — including its own reporting. Our news media insists — in the face of its own reporting — that Republicans are entirely honest actors. In fact, it’s not at all unusual for our news media to turn from a story about how the Republican Party — as a whole — is doing everything it can to make voting hard as hell for everyone not white, not voting Republican to a story about the January 6 Commission and which Republicans should be on it — as if the Republicans GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is considering as his five selections aren’t themselves guilty of helping PLOT the insurrection the Commission will be tasked with investigating. See the problem there? Good. Our news media doesn’t.

How much imagination does it take to connect dots like Missouri Senator Josh Hawley entering the Capitol building on January 6 with this particular salute —

— with what Trump was doing outside the White House (telling the crowd — some of whom had trained for and helped plan what they were about to do) that he would be “right there with them!”?

How much imagination does it take to connect all those Republican attempts to restrict voting rights after an election where the voting was as secure as it could be with the Republicans refusing to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the election fairly and squarely (unlike Donald Trump)? How could a treasonous, sexual-assault-enabling toadstool like Ohio’s Jim Jordan — who, as of this morning, has volunteered to sit on the Commission — sit on such a Commission when he insists that Trump is the actual POTUS? That’s not a guy with “a different opinion”, it’s a seditionist committing open acts of sedition when he should already be sitting in a prison cell BECAUSE he’s a seditionist. But then, it’s “funny” in America what white people get away with. Literally.

Every Republican politician who has taken money in any way, shape or form from Charles Koch, the Koch Brothers (when there was two of them still), or Koch Industries understands what’s being asked of them. Money in politics always comes with strings. Or, in the case of Republicans, rope.

What that means is that, on some level, every single Republican in Congress understands that their Party has now openly committed to seizing power and asserting permanent minority rule whatever it takes. There’s no grey here. One either IS or ISN’T faithful to our Constitution and the oath taken to defend it from all enemies foreign and domestic. Imagine what America would be like if we actually punished people when they took huge, steaming craps all over their oaths of office. The GOP might already be extinct.

Republicans knew at least a month before they nominated Trump in 2016 that he was compromised by Russia. Think about that. It matters. It also matters that our media — having reported this fact — has forgotten the fact that they reported it. To this day, not a journalist that I’m aware of (I keep Googling it!) has asked Kevin McCarthy what he meant when he said “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” That statement was recorded and played back for the Washington Post reporter who reported the story. It’s verifiable, you see? Hell — other newspapers like The Guardian picked up the story because it passed the smell test.

Over the course of four hard years, Trump laid waste to the very structure of our government, harmed or destroyed vital alliances that even our own armed forced begged him not to do, cozied up with authoritarians and did everything just south of giving Vlad Putin a happy ending in public. And, really, not a single Republican tried to stop him. Or questioned the fact that it was happening. Really, how much imagination does it take to connect this dot?

There is no justification for any Democrat to push bi-partisanship. One cannot be bi-partisan with people actively working against your interests. It’s not how bi-partisanship works. Ever. The reason garbage like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema push bi-partisanship is because they’re corrupt — owned by the very same money that owns the Republicans. One way or another, Koch money is doing both Manchin’s and Sinema’s talking.

We’ll know McCarthy’s “choices” shortly. Our news media insists that we’ll soon know McCarthy’s “intentions” going forward. Our news media are idiots because McCarthy’s intentions are crystal clear. Some of us have been aware of them for a long, long time — that’s because we actually read the news, (apparently) unlike most of the “journalists” cranking it out.

The Democrats Have Another Card Up Their Sleeve — Except It’s Not THEIR Card, It’s OURS – A Functioning Department Of Justice

The press loves a horse race more than anything because, in theory, horse races are easy to cover whereas covering the Republican Party’s attempt in plain sight to seize power forever? That would take perspective and the ability to aggregate a story — two things “Both Sides Do It” brand journalism just doesn’t “do”. Our news media is at least TWO YEARS behind in the storytelling we’re all living through. They still think Republicans are honest actors — even as more and more FORMER Republicans tell them — on their own air ffs! — that they AREN’T. If your storytelling (which is what news reporting is) mis-frames the story it’s covering at the jump? You’ll end up covering some other story while thinking it’s this one. Too bad for your “news” audience. Alas, our news media walks around with blinders on; thinking both sides do it because both sides are really the same is deeply cynical. And it’s wrong. That’s why the news media is already whipping us to a frenzy about the Republicans retaking the House, the Senate and who knows what else in the 2022 election. Yes, Republicans are passing legislation all over to restrict voting rights. They’re using the new Census data (which is worth a whole other conversation about how good its numbers actually are considering the influence of Trumpanistas on the process this time) to redistrict where they can — and to further the damage gerrymandering does to our representative democracy. They’re still contesting the last election’s outcome. That alone should tell our news media EVERYTHIING. Good thing (most of) the Democrats are actually there to hear it.

All that vote-restricting legislation — though it WILL impact EVERYONE — is aimed squarely at DEMOCRATIC voters. Republicans are doing this on the one hand because they’ve ALWAYS done this. As Trump himself said out loud, when more Americans vote, it’s bad for Republicans. We see voter suppression as a campaign tactic when, in fact, it’s a violation of civil rights. That IS the intent of any voter suppression effort. It’s not using ideas to sway voters, it’s using “other means”. Oh, they might not be “illegal” in and of themselves, but then, we ain’t talking about petty thievery where it’s obvious. We’re talking CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. Seen from THAT “altitude”, the GOP’s efforts take on a whole other dimension: a criminal one because it’s deliberately intent on violating other Americans’ rights.

The Trump Department of Justice famously refused to look into any real instances of civil rights violations — especially as they pertained to voting. That’s a key distinction by the way — Jeff Sessions may have been the Attorney General but the DoJ was Trump’s. That (we’re now learning) got even worse when Rod Rosenstein ran the DoJ for a while and then worse still when Bill Barr plopped his rotund ass down in the AG’s desk chair. The Department of Justice stopped being The Peoples’ Top Cops and, instead, became Donald Trump’s. As we’re also now learning, Bill Barr deliberately lied to Congress, to Judge Amy Berman Jackson and to We The People — on multiple occasions. Here’s where it gets good though. He did it for one reason. It’s the very same reason actual Republican members of Congress actively supported (and still support) the January 6 insurrection. It’s the very same reason Lindsey Graham insists the GOP can’t do anything without Trump. In a sense, Lindsey’s absolutely right. The GOP can’t do ANYTHING without Trump because they’re stuck to him. Stuck to each other.

Cos treason.

At the end of the day, this is a story about TREASON. But — you have to understand that THAT is what the “card game” we’re all playing in is actually about. Our news media, though it can see the treason and even cover the treason (“There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”) cannot put treason on its radar never mind into its imagination. If you can’t see treason, you can’t see the traitors. If you can’t see the traitors then you will be eternally baffled by the Republican Party’s continuing love affair with Trump — who their own internal polling says is driving them off an electoral cliff.

In that internal polling, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and virtually everything they’re doing is more popular than Donald Trump. That’s not going to improve. During four years in office, Trump achieved his ceiling. It’s begun to shrink — and it’s not going to stop shrinking before election 2022. If the GOP, as Lindsey Graham says, needs Donald Trump in order to “grow” then it’s facing a conundrum. It CAN’T grow. There’s nobody left in the population in which to grow — especially as you contract more and more into your reactionary whiteness. In an election — even WITH gerrymandering and voter suppression kicked up to “11” — you STILL have to advertise. You STILL have to have more voters (even GIVEN the likelihood of a “boost” from the Republican-run electronic voting machine company’s internet-connected back door) than the Democrats. What — even starting now — do the Republicans have to sell to anyone not already tribally committed to how they’ll vote?

Even if Mitch McConnell could stand in Joe Biden and the Democratic Party’s progressive agenda (which scares Mitch and the Koch money behind him because it’s “socialism”), the positives of having Democrats in power are already registering strongly in polling. Republicans taking away unemployment benefits because they’re closer to a living wage than the crap salary they got before (because of Republican policies) won’t win them any friends among all those workers. It WILL make them vengeful voters come election 2022. Anger motivates voting like nothing else — as we know from experience. But, Mitch himself is a walking-talking-turtle-tell.

Mitch is kinda the poster turtle for the horribleness that’s about to befall pretty much the entire Republican Party — because of the card sitting not in Joe Biden’s hand, but in ours — in We The Peoples’ hand. We now have a functioning Department of Justice. Sometimes I chuckle when I think of Merrick Garland’s moderate judicial temperament — how well it may have served Republicans from time to time had they allowed Garland the SCOTUS seat Mitch handed to Neil Gorsuch instead. That moderate approach — just the facts & the law — will make Garland a deeply problematic Attorney General for the Republicans — a fact they know; it’s why the Republicans slow walked not just Garland’s nomination but the nominations for every top DoJ position. The slow walking is now over — and, as one of its opening moves, a fair-minded, just the facts & the law DoJ reveals, Merrick Garland sees “his” DoJ as OURS.

Let me repeat that: Merrick Garland doesn’t see the DoJ as his, he sees it as OURS. And he’s already begun to approach the law — and the rule of law itself — with US and OUR needs in mind. So, when I say “Garland’s” DoJ, I mean OUR DoJ. That DoJ takes civil rights very, VERY seriously. They’ve demonstrated that by charging all four of the cops responsible for murdering George Floyd. They demonstrated that by charging Derrick Chauvin with violating the civil rights of a completely different young, Black citizen. That should be seen as a shot across the bow of every racist on every police force in America. If your racism motivates you to violate anyone’s civil rights — especially when you’re on duty as a cop — you’ve got a problem.

Side note? Defending yourself against federal charges costs a bomb and a half. Think any of those racist cops can afford it? Even with GoFundMe pages? Think they’ll be able to afford it if they’re competing with hundreds of other racist cops?

We all know that racism stands behind every bit of Republican-written vote-limiting legislation. That presents a problem now because, when challenged in court, none of it will stand because it so clearly violates civil rights, a cause the Justice Department itself now sees in criminal terms. And, hey — we’ve no idea WHEN indictments might start flying from Fulton County, Georgia where Trump’s coercive phone calls to Georgia’s attorney general are under intense scrutiny. Same goes for the SDNY and Manhattan where various bits of the legal machine are just revving up, liberated at last from Bill Barr’s corrupt oversight. And then there’s writer E. Jean Carroll’s civil suit against Trump and the discovery process yet to come!

As we stand here today, the Republican Party itself is lying to itself how bad the Trump Brand is — and how badly that brand is impacting the Republican Brand (such as it is). That brand is about to take a series of massive (repeat MASSIVE) hits. Donald Trump and the Legal Process can’t go anywhere near each other if Donald Trump is to survive. But that is precisely the thing that’s changed — and, though it’s taking longer than we want it to, it IS beginning to work in the only way it can: slowly but deliberately.

If we can see the connections between the January 6 insurrectionists and members of Congress, so, too, can the FBI and the DoJ (now that the DoJ is inclined to see). If we can see connections to the Trump White House, so can they. If Team Biden can see Russia’s malign influence on our elections enough to publicly warn them, then so can our DoJ — and the FBI it’s part of. Remember all the obstruction of justice that occurred during the Trump years — including INSIDE the DoJ? That’s not happening now. In fact, with Garland at its helm, the opposite is happening. The obstruction itself is now being examined under an electron microscope. Think Bill Barr’s sleeping well at night these days? Then you’re not paying attention.

Bill Barr arrogantly thought he could stay above all this. How wrong he’s already proven to be (thank you, Judge Amy Berman Jackson!) Once Merrick Garland starts pulling threads on Trumpian corruption (which is the exact same as Republican corruption), he won’t — by nature or law — be able to stop. And we all know what that corruption is knitted with: TREASON.

We WILL get there and sooner than we think. Think Russia played no part in the January 6 insurrection? Really? Hey, what about Rudy G’s dance with Russian-backed Ukranians? What about the FBI warning Rudy he was being USED BY RUSSIA — and then Rudy ignoring them? Hmmmmmm… I bet our DoJ could get to the bottom of that. I bet OUR DoJ can AND WILL get to the bottom of a lot of things whose bottoms need “getting to”. Why DID current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy think Putin pays Rohrbacher and Trump? Why DIDN’T he contact the FBI (and don’t give me this “it was just idle chatter” bullshit — in that context, no, it was not “idle chatter”) ? Why did Kevin and the rest of the GOP leadership in that room go along with then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s admonition to “keep it in the family”?

From Bill Barr to Kevin McCarthy to Paul Ryan to Mitch McConnell — they all knew Russia owned Trump. They, too, were owned by Russia — or were willing to LET Russia own Trump even as they made him their nominee.

If I can see this, so, too, can Merrick Garland.

If I can see — and it’s all evidentiary — that but for Russia Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS than so can Merrick Garland. So can my — our — Department of Justice. If I can see countless Republicans have lied or perjured themselves to protect this fact (and one doesn’t have to know the whole plan to have conspired in it) then so can Merrick Garland. Say, what DID Donald Trump say to retiring Judge Anthony Kennedy that made him do this? Here’s a thought — let’s have OUR Department of Justice put everyone connected to this moment — including Kennedy’s son (who was Trump’s banker at Deutsche Bank) and Brett Kavanaugh (whose got his own perjury issues) under oath and ask them questions. If it were up to THIS citizen, he’d have HIS Department of Justice “Benghazi” every last one of these pirates.

The Democrats can’t count on this card in their calculus going forward. It’s not theirs to play. It’s ours. But, the fact is, we are now playing that card — and it will impact the game’s outcome absolutely.

The most delicious irony of all will be watching shits like Mitch McConnell quake in their loafers as they walk into the DoJ for questioning — knowing it’s Merrick Garland who’ll be questioning them (one way or another). Joe Biden would have picked a good person for this post regardless. He’d have chosen someone who understood — unlike Trump and the GOP — that the DoJ is OURS and it’s his job to respect that fact which he does. Imagine (with that context in mind) the scenes to come of every Republican who so much as suspected what his fellow travelers was up to but said nothing suddenly realizing the trap they’re in.

See something, SAY something is how a good citizen stays out of trouble. See something, say NOTHING is where co-conspiracy to commit treason begins.

Dear RW-ers: No, Freedom Is NOT Free; It Comes With Responsibilities

Listening to most RW-ers defend their ideals is starting to sound like a ten year old bully defending himself. “You’re not the boss of me” is what “freedom” sounds like in his ears. That might work as freedom if you live alone on an island. Put one other person there and “you’re not the boss of me” will cause problems almost immediately. Politics begins the instant two people have to negotiate with each other just so they can get through the day. Even two people trying to decide what to have for dinner are engaged in a political conversation. If both those people have “you’re not the boss of me” in their heads? They’ll never make good decisions together. They’ll never be happy. The fact is, they’ll never be free.

Freedom is imaginary to begin with. So is democracy. So are rights.

Each and every one is a human invention. No deity has bestowed any of this upon us. Trust me, if there IS a deity and that deity (with a whole freakin’ cosmos to worry about!) is worrying about piddly stuff like this? This universe needs a new deity with more deity-like priorities. Geez, whose mediocre idea of a god is this anyway? While we’re at it, unless anyone can demonstrably prove otherwise, God or gods are all human creations, too. The proof? That we think a deity with a whole freakin’ cosmos to worry about would worry about whether or a bunch of little, tiny humans “believe” in him. That’s not a deity, that’s a male in need of psychotherapy.

We have rights because we finally realized that we could give them to ourselves — that we didn’t need a god-appointed king to grant them. Like maintaining a republic (as Franklin said “If we can keep it”), maintaining our rights will demand vigilance, grit and resolve. There were forces then that sought to shut down what had just been created. The slavers always hated democracy because democracy and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. Slavery cannot exist in a democracy. It can’t. That it did wasn’t a reflection on democracy, it’s a reflection on us — and our continuing willingness to compromise with evil.

America is still fighting about slavery. That’s a stone cold fact. Cotton and sugar cane were labor intensive businesses. They were all the south had to run their economy. The most expensive component? Labor — but only if you’re forced to pay for it.

Hey, what if you could get all that expensive labor “for free”? Okay, so the labor costs you nothing, but you’ll have to feed and clothe and house your free labor. Considering as you can feed them garbage, clothe them in rags and house them in squalor, the costs will be negligible compared to the profits. And that’s why slavery exists. Free labor. All the rest — the inhumanity, the families and lives destroyed, the murder and mayhem — those are all ripple effects. Stuff that “happens”.

The slaver sits on his verandah, believing he is living the “dream of democracy”, a free man making money. He’s confused. No, he’s wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. Being a pig or a bully isn’t freedom. It’s being a pig or a bully. Being a slave owner is the opposite of freedom — because everything the slave owner does contradicts other peoples’ freedom. That’s the problem — right there.

We have rights because we gave them to ourselves (well, white men, at first, gave them to other white men. Fortunately, we’ve begun to wise up to the scam the white men have been running. The genius of America is the thing that makes it unique among nations. Aside from Native Americans, America was not formed by tribes that lived here for a thousand years like the countries of Europe were. We are the product of all those European tribes — plus tribes from EVERYWHERE ELSE on the planet. THAT’S what makes America exceptional — we’re the only country that was formed from all the other countries. It is unfortunate (but fixable) that white people commandeered this country for its first 240+ years. White people are very clever — but they’re not the only clever people on earth. Pretty much every other tribe? They’re clever, too. And when you put all that multi-cultural, approach-problems-from-every-conceivable-angle kind of thinking to work — as we have, here in America? The results are like nothing else humans have created. As experiments in human self-government go? We’re worth preserving — but, adjustments are needed, urgently.

Already the idea of “civic education” is finding purchase. Good. America needs that. We need to stop thinking that flag-waving is patriotism. No, knowing and understanding how the Constitution works — THAT’S patriotism. Under Trump, we could have turned into a fascist shithole just like that — without changing our flag. The Constitution would have ceased to be despite the stars n stripes’ endurance. See how that works? The piece of colored cloth is actually quite meaningless whereas the Constitution…

Among the first things we’ll need to teach the generations of Americans to follow is how valuable their rights are — how special. But, we’ll also need to teach them that those rights do NOT come without caveats. Everything costs something. Nothing is truly “free”. Just as rank has its privileges and obligations, so do rights.

The right to vote demands that you exercise it. Voting is every American’s OBLIGATION, not just their right. I kinda like Australia’s approach. You cannot be made to actually vote and Australians don’t have to vote come election day. BUT, Australians do have to show up. Regardless of whether or not they actually vote, Australians are obligated by law to at least go to their polling place.

Americans are equally responsible for paying for our democracy and freedoms. These things do cost money. Living costs money. Unless we all revert to being hunter-gatherers, feeding ourselves costs money. Our problem in America is that we see taxes as a black hole of inefficiency and corruption. It’s money out and virtually nothing back. Of course Americans see the tax man as the enemy!

What if Americans received a yearly statement though — an accurate accounting of exactly how the govt spends every single dollar it collects? What if Americans could see, every year, what their money bought them (bought the country), what it should have bought them and what it could never buy them? What if Americans — instead of seeing their taxes as money lost forever — saw them as a fair, accurate accounting of what their tax dollars are buying for them?

If Americans got something they could point — like guaranteed health CARE (as opposed to health INSURANCE — which is the focus of our debate) that could never bankrupt them or their families, they might look at those tax dollars (plus the out-of-pocket savings) a little differently. If Americans could point at the good public university or skills training education their children could have — again just because they pay taxes here — they might look at those tax dollars a little more open-mindedly. If Americans viewed their government as theirs, as their elected intermediary tasked with getting their collective problems solved, they might not see government as “the enemy”.

Again, this is framing — how we think of things (and how we don’t). This is entirely up to us.

If everyone in a family insisted they had to do things their way, the family would collapse in less than a heartbeat. Even relatively happy families have their issues. Welcome to being human and living at cross purposes with each other. Successful families learn to negotiate with each other. If they want something, they’ll probably have to give something to get it. Hello, politics.

A country like ours is just a giant family with a giant closet filled with giant skeletons. Families that don’t acknowledge their skeletons devolve into chaos. Families that at least try? They can’t do worse than chaos. Just like surviving a family takes work, so, too, does surviving a country. Balancing conflicting needs isn’t easy but the alternative is authoritarianism. For what it’s worth, living in an authoritarian state — provided you follow the rules — is a hell of a lot easier than living in a democracy.

That’s part of fascism’s appeal — you don’t have to think. The state does that for you. All you have to do is march neatly in lock step.

In November 1947, Winston Churchill put it this way: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. Democracy is hard, bloody work. The alternatives may be “easier” but only on the surface.

That is, if your idea of freedom isn’t a ten year old’s.

Either Every Vote Counts Or No Votes Count

We need to make up our goddamned minds about voting. Personally, I believe that literally EVERY VOTE counts.

In election 2018, according to the Washington Post, in 133 races out of the 4,137 run that election cycle, the winner’s margin of victory was under 100 votes. That’s 3.2% of all races.

That would mean that a successful voter suppression operation only had to stop 100 people from showing up across thousands of voting districts in order to accomplish its goal: changing the outcome of an election, not by selling better ideas but by tricking or lying voters into not voting.

In a close race — decided by fewer than 100 votes — each and every voter tricked into not voting is as good as a vote for the other guy. What part of that is either free or fair?

In 2016, Republicans, with Russia’s help, carried out the Mother of all voter suppression operations. What was Paul Manafort’s intention when he handed Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota? Was it simply “Hey, Oleg, here’s some cool stuff you might want to peruse in your copious free time”? Or was it “Hey, Oleg, here’s proprietary American polling data. Weaponize it, please.

Next thing ya know? African Americans in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan are seeing ads on their Facebook pages raging about Hillary Clinton’s secret racist agenda. It’s absurd. But the point of the exercise isn’t swaying the great unwashed masses. Sway one voter — you COULD sway a whole election.

If Russia’s efforts changed one vote — just one — that means they could have changed that election’s entire outcome.

Either our elections are free and fair or they aren’t. There’s no middle ground. Elections — like integrity — are either 100% legit or they’re not legit at all. Ever meet someone with most of their integrity (say 95%)?

No, you haven’t. You have integrity or you don’t.

An election is free and fair or it isn’t.

Every vote counts — or none of them actually do.

Hey, America — Next Time, Let’s Take Better Care of Our Democracy, Okay?

There’s a Joni Mitchell song — pretty well known — with a lyric that goes something like this —

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Democracy is Paradise.  Except we’re about to watch Democracy get knocked down for a lot less than a pink  hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot.  All we’ll get out of our deal is a bankrupt whorehouse where even the STD’s have STD’s.

By the time most Americans realize their Democracy is gone, it’ll be just about to disappear from their rear view mirror.  “What was that thing we drove past a while ago?  No memory except that it was big or something.  Special maybe — can’t remember any more.”

It’s perverse that the  Poster Kid for Democracy never really was that IN to Democracy.  Too much of a commitment.  Too much like hard work.  Too much responsibility.  It’s worse than having a pet, fer Chrissakes.  The only GOOD thing you can say about Democracy is that it won’t poop in the house.  It might DIE in the House but it won’t poop there.

Americans have always treated voting like it was root canal surgery.  That’s heart-breaking considering how hard some people have struggled to get here to vote AS AMERICANS, how willing others were to die — just to have a chance to live the lives Americans take for granted.  Like their Democracy.

It’s not just voting though.  It’s Civic Education.  Civic Pride.  Civic Sacrifice.

The first two are easy.  Even lazy ‘patriots’ can pull those off.  They can pick up a book.  Read some of our founding documents — not just the ‘easy ones’ (Declaration of Independence) but the more challenging ones too — Federalist Papers anyone?  Prospective Voters also can get educated by diving deeper into issues.  What are they really about?  What’s really at stake for who — and why (almost always the MOST important question — WHY?)

Civic Pride’s even easier.  Feeling good about The Greatest Country On The Planet should be easy.  But feeling good comes with a bit of responsibility.  It IS important what you’re feeling good ‘about’.  If you’re feeling good because America’s values are a Beacon To The World, that’s awesome.  If you’re feeling good because you’re waving a flag and you’ll happily shove the business end of your flagpole up the backside of any leftist who’d dare to burn a flag — well, you might be feeling good for the wrong reasons.

That brings us to the Problem Child in the bunch:  Civic Sacrifice.  The thing Americans hate the most.  Because it’s ‘sacrifice’.  Done ‘civilly’ — meaning ‘for the greater good’ and not ‘just for self’.  It’s not that Americans aren’t generous.

Americans are unfailingly generous.  But they have a weird animus toward their government — OUR government.  Some Americans see the government as a lethal assassin style Boogie Man capable of penetrating their brains, poisoning their garden furniture and turning their own bridgework into a spy satellite.  I hope like hell that no one so afflicted read any of that — I don’t want their going off the deep end on my conscience.

This isn’t all Americans — of course it isn’t.  It’s a wacky sub-set of Americans.

This wacky subset has fallen in love with a Mythic Figure (Americans — imagine!) — the Intrepid Frontiersman.  They think that’s them — the guy carving A Great Nation out of a Vast Wilderness.  Actually, that ‘Wilderness’ was someone else’s home but never mind.  Even their Mythic Figure is a shit.

THIS, strangely, has become, for many, the Proto-Patriot.  The Guy They Emulate for his ‘independence’ and ‘freedom lovin’.  And this guy?  He fears the government.  He loathes it because all it wants to do in his fever swamp of a mind is take away his Freedoms.  Well… actually, he’s only afraid they’ll take away his gun.

And,, perversely, that’s what motivates and motivated this guy.  It motivated him so much — his fear that a make-believe government would march — storm-trooper like of course — into his house to take his guns — that he made it his life’s work to re-imagine the Constitution as nothing BUT a justification for gun ownership (the fact that the Constitution says exactly the opposite be damned).  Well Regulated Militia, anyone?

The Gun Lobby — along with the Evangelicals who wanted to move heaven earth and our Whole Democracy to make abortion (and probably birth control itself) illegal.  They have hijacked our Democracy — by semi-legal means.  Ironically, what motivated them more than anything was demographics.  They saw what the numbers said:  There’s going to be less and less of THEM and more and more of THE OTHER.  Brown people, black people, people with foreign-sounding names and strange cultures and even stranger foods.

That scares some White People almost literally to death.

This Nativism does not go well with Democracy.  They are mutually exclusive propositions in fact.  Can’t share the same living space without killing each other.  This creates a Culture of Mistrust for Democracy.  Trusting other people?  Hell no.  Trusting your own kind?  Sure — worth a shot (you already know to get them before they get you).

These bastards somehow won the Culture War.  They must have — our Elite MSM keeps telling us that it’s THEIR disappointment at Life that’s driving everything.

The rest of us never even knew a Culture War was happening.  We were too busy living.  Too busy enjoying the benefits that knuckle-scraping Culture Warriors are at war against.  A big piece of that Culture War was aimed at Democracy.  Too many diverse people watering down the voting pool?  No way, Jose (to borrow an expression).

Americans need to cut the shit about what it IS to be an American.

Being an American — It was special my whole life.  I refuse to let Donald Trump and his band of GOPirates make being an American less special because they’re taking racism & bigotry & misogyny & corruption  to new and ‘exciting’ places.

First — we need to make Election Day A HOLIDAY.  It’s a Day Off Work to CELEBRATE the most Fundamental Right of BEING an AMERICAN — getting to VOTE.  We should rhapsodize about voting.  We should make it automatic that on your 18th birthday, like EVERY AMERICAN, YOU get registered to vote.

Then — We should do what Australia does.  They mandate that, on Election Day, you MUST go to your polling place.  Once there, you do not have to vote.  Once you sign in, you can leave immediately if that’s your wont.  Or you can vote whatever way you like.  You just have to show up.

Americans JUST HAVE TO SHOW UP.

It would be an awesome beginning.  Voting — as a muscle memory exercise — becomes easier to remember to do than NOT voting.

Weird, huh?

Then there’s the relationship between Americans and paying taxes.  Americans despise the idea of paying taxes because 1) it conflicts with their self-image as Frontier Guy and 2) Americans never see what they’re getting for those dollars taken from them and given to the government.  Americans perceive that they get nothing for the money — except less money in THEIR pocket.  If Americans could see the ‘benefits’ to paying taxes the way they see the benefit to paying more for a better cell phone or unlimited data — they’d pay it and maybe even shut up.

Not having to ever FIGHT to have the right to vote — or any of the other rights that belong to you because you are American — has made American Civic-Mindedness flabby and soft.  In these here times, it needs to be rock hard.  Six packs and pecs and bi-ceps all ripped to the max.  It takes had work and sacrifice to get your body in shape.

Democracy works exactly the same way.  With more sweat.