Democratic viewpoints on politics, policy and activism

Oklahoma Government Could Remain Broke For A Long Time

Looming peak oil demand, a world fossil-fuel glut and Republican tax-cut ideology has structurally changed the state of Oklahoma’s revenue collections, resulting in abysmal and embarrassing funding for education, social services, health programs and corrections.

Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, continue to grow incrementally around the world, lessening the need for fossils fuels, especially to produce electricity. New oil reserves, such as the tar sands in Canada, have been discovered throughout the world in recent decades. Oklahoma, as we all know, has been sustained by the fossil-fuel industry, which now pays a limited amount of production taxes.

The only thing that could push up oil prices, and thus increase production tax revenue on a major level for Oklahoma, would be a seismic disruption in the fossil fuel supply chain caused by a world war or at least a major conflict involving several countries. Obviously, that’s nothing to wish for, although I bet there are people who have their fingers crossed it will happen.

Meanwhile, most Oklahoma Republican politicians, whether they actually believe it or not, push the idea that tax cuts actually help the economy by increasing state revenues, but that’s not the truth. The truth is the state currently faces an $878 million shortfall in an average budget of approximately $7 billion. The truth is this comes after income tax cuts that primarily benefited wealthy people that then led to huge cuts to state agencies, including our education systems, in recent years. The truth is the state has cut public education funding on a percentage basis the most of any state in the country since 2008.

It’s difficult not to see the state at a huge breaking point. The Trump presidency will make it worse. More deregulation of the fossil-fuel industry and ending particular rules on energy companies related to the environment, which the Trump administration supports, will only accelerate global warming and pollution, and possibly the number and intensity of earthquakes here, while increasing the glut of oil, which drives prices even further down.

Obviously, tax breaks given to oil and gas companies have had a major impact on the state’s revenue collections, and they should be renegotiated, but the larger story is that Oklahoma should never rely again on the fossil fuel industry for its financial foundation, both in terms of tax revenues and employment. Oklahoma leaders need to embrace this new reality. The oil booms, unless created by world calamity, are most likely over or will taper off in weak gasps.

As usual, with only a month or so left in the legislative session, the Oklahoma Legislature and Gov. Mary Fallin have yet to offer up a workable budget for next fiscal year. The legislature supposedly wants to raise teacher salaries, but how can that happen with such a major budget shortfall?

Some partial and interim answers to what has become a systemic Oklahoma government revenue problem do exist: Significantly raises taxes on incomes at $250,000 and above on a graduated scale and then tax fossil fuel production at much higher levels. The likelihood of this happening anytime soon is practically nil, but there’s really no other alternatives.

The larger issue, of course, is to diversify the economy with different industries and businesses to boost tax revenue, but attracting such development is difficult in a state in which schools have four-day learning weeks and the college graduation rate is much lower than the national average. Our earthquake crisis, caused by an element of the fracking process used by the oil and gas industry, doesn’t help either. The volatile weather here isn’t a big draw.

What should be obvious to every thinking person in Oklahoma at this point is that the state is broke and broken, and no elected leader has a viable plan or the will to fix it.

Science Education Under Attack In Oklahoma

It took conservatives in the Oklahoma Legislature several years, but they are now likely to pass an anti-science bill, which is a “strengths and weaknesses” measure that will mean schools can dilute the teaching of evolution and other scientific facts in the state’s public classrooms.

Senate Bill 393 has passed the full Senate and a House committee. The House will almost certainly pass it if it comes to a vote. I’m fairly sure Gov. Mary Fallin will sign it into law, but maybe fiscal conservatives can convince her how this bill could hinder economic development by depicting the state, once again, as a place in which many of its residents have a difficult time accepting basic scientific truths.

Here’s the relevant paragraph in the bill, which may seem innocuous, but is really an effort to undermine the teaching of the scientific method in the state’s classrooms:

The State Board of Education, school district boards of education, school district superintendents and school principals shall endeavor to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.Teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.

Previous versions of this type of bill through the years have referred specifically to the theory of evolution and climate change as two of the controversies. The bill’s main sponsor is Sen. Josh Brecheen, a Republican from Coalgate, who has been pushing such legislation for years. Years ago, as The Lost Ogle noted in 2011, Brecheen published an article in the Durant Daily Democrat that included this gem of a paragraph:

If Darwin is right then I am free to be the strongest by eating all in my way (forget “love thy neighbor”). Additionally, we put zero thought to the psychological consequences of low self-esteem as people are taught their existence is as purposeless as their “brother and sister animals.” This produces a value system where protecting beetles is prioritized but unborn children are not.

The literal summary of the paragraph is absurd. It goes like this: The theory of evolution will turn us into abortion-approving cannibals who protect beetles.

The problem with the legislation is that it could have the very real effect of dumbing down our students, making them ill-prepared for college. Oklahoma has a low rate of college graduates compared to the national average, which doesn’t make it attractive for businesses that need an educated workforce.

But that “economic” argument is really secondary to how the bill rejects intellectualism in a state that struggles to fund education at all levels, a state that struggles to pay its teachers adequate wages. That affects our quality of life because leadership roles often go to people like Brecheen, who then impose their narrow views on other people in systemic ways.

Finally, let’s be clear. There are no scientific controversies when it comes to the theory of evolution and climate change. The controversies only exist either on the religious level by creationists or within the fossil-fuel industry, which has a vested interest to deny carbon emissions contribute to global warming. The actual science is proven. The evidence is in front of us. This bill rejects what’s true and embraces mythology and money.

Trumpcare Will Kill Trump Supporters The Most

Trumpcare—for surely we must call it this as our duty now to exercise our historical right to collectively practice ignoramus politicalpsychosis juvenilia—exposes, again, that our new emperor is a liar and a sham populist, but still it’s unsettling and unnerving on a couple of even more deeper philosophical levels.

Perhaps the most philosophically unsettling layer of the new health care plan rollout by Trump and his Republican dumbass mob this week, at least for me, is how it was greeted by feigned and rote media surprise over its dire consequences, which have now been confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Oh really? My, my, who would have even guessed it would benefit the most wealthy in our country? Are you really telling me Republicans want to stop poor people from having medical access? Really? Oh no, I’m going to faint, that just can’t be true.

Eventually, if this repeal of Obamacare gets signed into law, the CBO estimates that 24 million Americans will eventually lose their health insurance or, to put it more accurately, medical access or, well, to put it in reality, they will die. These are mostly people, we can surmise, that either voted for Trump and/or wanted him to win so he could make them poorer and sicker. That they’re sick mentally is a certainty, and, no, no, never try to engage them in their sickness for it will make you sick as well. The time has come for closure with these rubes, who wear their rubeness as badges of honor.

Yet, and here’s my point, what did mainstream media journalists expect in terms of health care from Trump and the charlatan and ever-shifty, slippery, squirmy House Speaker Paul Ryan? Tax hikes on the rich to help the less fortunate? Compassion? Medicare for all? Haha. But the great Harvard/Yale-educated reporters responded with breathless reporting and righteous indignation that just one contrarian article by someone in their ranks will render obsolete in the five minutes it takes to read. It’s what passes as intellectualism in this country these days.

So the script remains the same, and it’s so sad, and that’s not a Trump “sad.” It’s a real, depressing sad that leads to people dying. The Republicans lie about their intentions on any given policy, and well, on everything, under the false rubric of reform, give tax breaks to the rich and take from the poor, and the media then acts aghast and frantic because the GOP and Trump are doing just what they have indicated they will do and have done for decades now. What is new here? Not the media’s response, that’s for sure.

The media script is by now so depressing and so rote it’s become numbing—I actually believe it will lead to an astronomically rise in patients with depression and anxiety—in the era of Trump, which will lead to more deaths. Has the mainstream media become an abusive parent, gaslighting children/readers? I think so. See, we’re supposed to believe we’re the sick ones because we want medical care and decent wages as the media dutifully reports the Republican position.

As I written here several times since Trump’s election, I support the new stated commitment to the truth by such august media outlets as The New York Times and The Washington Post, but it appears they’re slipping back into the old routines of he-said-she-said journalism and mind-numbing breathless horse-race reporting—will the Trumpcare bill get the necessary [insert numbers] votes from these particular senators or representatives [insert names]?—rather than bluntly telling the truth that people will die if this bill is passed.

People will die because of this Republican and Trump initiative. Death of the media. Death of people. It ends together in its symbiotic way.

Trumpcare will kill people. But will the media even call it Trumpcare, even though it didn’t hesitate for one second to adopt the GOP nomenclatures and framing on Obamacare or Hillarycare? Trump owns this legislation. He’s put his full political weight behind a dystopian anti-health initiative that will kill people and transfer money to the extremely wealthy.

What part of the last sentence isn’t clear to mainstream media reporters at the major outlets?

The second point one can make about the repeal effort, and it’s been pointed out by other columnists, is that Republicans have no intention of governing beyond recklessly and intuitively increasing income disparity between the rich and everyone else. That’s what this bill does by granting tax breaks to the wealthy while making it more difficult to get medical care. Academics and writers, such Paul Krugman, who writes for The Times, have pointed this out but basic reporting on this issue has, again, degenerated into the flat GOP script that trickle-down economics leads to shared wealth as an argument rather than a proven lie. The fact the media still debates this is ‘fake news” at its finest.

Until the nation’s reporters take on bolder language to challenge Trump and Ryan on their lies and the world’s neoliberal agenda that has lead to massive corporate wealth and income disparity, this country and the world faces a tragic, dystopian future. The only question is how long can the republic last under the unsustainable model in which the top 1 percent of the richest world citizens accumulate virtually all the world’s wealth while people continue to die because of hunger, disease and lack of medical access. This is already happening throughout the world and even here in this country, and, if passed, the new Trumpcare bill will increased the numbers who suffer and, yes, die lonely, miserable deaths here.

Those homeless people on the streets of our big cities are only going to increase in the Trump era, and now that Trump, and his family, and his Republican surrogates are effectively using the government in a manner to increase their own wealth as despots do, the sham is apparent. We need truth from our reporters, who aren’t the enemies of the people.

Yet I will not believe reporters are truthful if their reporting during the Trump tyranny leads to any normalization of making people poorer and sicker under some type of long-gone, nostalgic journalistic frame of objectivity. Fire all the bigwig editors now, hire people like me, and maybe we can have hope.

But getting back to Republicans. They may hold all power in Washington and in many states now, but their party lacks any substance on a humane policy level; it exists to destroy lives, mostly, and here’s the irony, it’s the destruction of people who vote them into power. It’s not difficult to see how they get people to commit to slow suicides and miserable lives. They lie on the most crass level, use simplistic slogans that appeal to ignorance racists and work to limit the number of votes cast by minorities. It’s not some intellectual strategy or Russian plot.

Trumpcare is emblematic or, more specifically, a rhetorical container of this suicidal destruction. Don’t spend a minute getting lost in the details of this latest immoral Republican spectacle, the “whatever” health care act that should only be called Trumpcare. It’s a disaster, and it can only pass if the mainstream media normalizes it and declines to tell the truth about it.

Will The Planet Survive Views Of EPA Leader Scott Pruitt?

It’s no real surprise, of course, but it didn’t take that long before Oklahoma’s former Attorney General Scott Pruitt, now head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, openly revealed his anti-environment philosophy and his crass and open embrace of the fossil fuel industry.

When asked recently in an CNBC interview whether he thought carbon dioxide had contributed to global warming, Pruitt responded:

I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.

This very important “no” contradicts his agency’s own web site and his earlier comments at his confirmation hearing in which Pruitt conceded “. . . the climate is changing, and human activity contributes to that in some manner.” For the record, there is no question among numerous and credible scientists that carbon emissions accelerate global warming through the amplification of the greenhouse effect.

But let’s be clear again that Pruitt is a halfway decent manipulator of the political landscape, and his ongoing and intentional slippery comments about global warming are aimed at financially benefiting the oil and gas industry, which has openly funded his campaigns and endorsed him for years. His comments, which drew swift condemnation, are not at all surprising for anyone following his political career in Oklahoma.

So just to state the obvious: President Donald Trump appointed Pruitt as head of the EPA and Republicans confirmed his appointment to dismantle environmental protection and to give a financial boost to the oil and gas industry, which is in a major slump, maybe even a permanent realignment. Given that knowledge, there seems to be little point beyond creating a spectacle in teasing Pruitt into making outlandish comments about climate change and global warming.

Pruitt will absolutely continue to make outlandish and goofball comments, which always pass for intellectualism and leadership in Oklahoma, but what matters more, all hyperbole aside, is the damage he will inflict on the planet as the top EPA administrator.

What might conceivably save us, however, is that that the world’s oil barons—from Continental Resources Chief Executive Officer Harold Hamm to the Saudi Arabian monarchy—have created such a major fossil-fuel glut that the oil and gas industry is resetting itself. This is combined with the growth of renewable energy and the implementation over the years of fuel efficiency standards. The oil market, as prices continue to show, has imploded on its own excess.

Have we reached peak oil demand? Will carbon emissions start to recede as the use of wind and solar energy grows geometrically? Have we reached a point of no return in terms of global warming?

Those will never be the questions Pruitt will publicly address or even maybe even privately consider. What Pruitt will do is sell a program of relentless drilling for fossil fuels and favorable terms for those companies which do so even as the glut continues. His absolute last concern will be global warming. Only a major catastrophic global warming event would demand or create any action on his part. Pruitt has the best job in town these days because he’s getting paid for doing nothing.

Pruitt, it should be noted once again, is closely tied to the oil and gas industry through campaign donations, which have obviously made him a surrogate for its interests. That’s no exaggeration. The majority of voters in Oklahoma—there was little local vocal protest against Pruitt’s anti-EPA and anti-Obama agenda when he served as the state’s attorney general—are now also directly responsible for enabling him. Anyone in the world concerned with the environment should realize that these voters and even some Oklahomans who incredibly self-identify as Democrats or even progressive gleefully want Pruitt to dismantle the EPA for simple ideological reasons if nothing else or are so apathetic and self-loathing they simply don’t care.

Oklahoma is also home to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, perhaps the world’s best known denier of the impact of carbon emissions on global warming, which continues to generate extreme weather patterns, melting Arctic ice and rising sea levels. Hamm, who I mentioned earlier in this post, has served in some capacity—most likely just as a figurehead billionaire—as an advisor and supporter of Pruitt, presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma’s overall right-wing extremism and political apathy among its intellectuals has turned the state into an environmental wasteland caused by the negative impact of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The storage of the wastewater related to the fracking process, scientists confirmed, is responsible for the numerous earthquakes the state now experiences, some of which have caused damage to property.

Pruitt and Inhofe, who have done nothing to stop the earthquakes here, have enjoyed political success among the state’s vast number of religious fundamentalists, who have a narrow and reductionist anti-abortion agenda and are urged through the pulpit to support Republicans no matter how much the GOP as a political party works against their economic interests.

Oklahoma is a case study in right-wing extremism, which isn’t exactly startling news, but it does beg some outside scrutiny now that Pruitt has taken control of the EPA to effectively change its mission to the polar opposite from protecting the environment to allowing the oil and gas industry to further damage the environment. Anyone who believes in Pruitt’s claims that there’s a balance in supporting the financial interests of the fossil-fuel conglomerates while also protecting the planet needs to spend some time in Oklahoma.

What Pruitt, Inhofe and other Republican leaders in the state of Oklahoma are hiding right now is that the state itself is collapsing into economic and budgetary chaos created by their own disinterest and ideological blindness. Why slash the taxes of millionaires and billionaires, for example, while cutting funding for public education the most of any state in the nation on a percentage basis over the last several years? It a slow suicide that now threatens the state’s viability.

As I’ve written before, Oklahoma has come to Washington D.C., and it isn’t Woody Guthrie’s Oklahoma, folks. It’s a hillbilly oligarchy, which fits perfectly with a president who tells fibs, big and small, spews hate, and is vested in making the rich richer while convincing the rubes through tweets he’s on their side.

When A Lie Is Not A Lie: WaPo Still Seeks Contrary In Darkness

I think it’s important to point out, again and again, that the mainstream media’s contrarian and equivocating reporting has created a rhetorical failure in this country in which our leaders can brazenly lie with impunity.

The Washington Post journalist Amber Phillips is just one latest case in point. This week in a blog post she criticized former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders for stating the obvious, which is that President Donald Trump is a liar who consistently lies. In Phillips’ view, however, the media and our leaders should be careful not to follow Sanders’ example of calling Trump out on his lies because, maybe, just maybe, Trump doesn’t even know he’s lying.

I know I risk reducing here the litany of problems of their own making faced by mainstream media outlets, but it’s hard not to see Phillips’ piece as the typical contrarian type of journalism that has brought us to this particular point of uncertainty and fear in our country’s history. Under the rhetorical formula of contemporary journalistic contrarianism, even wild lies that have been called out and proven as lies deserve some type of media redemption from great thinkers like Phillips.

It goes like this: Well, yes, Trump says untruthful things, but maybe it’s not intentional lying really and the political discourse is so extreme these days, anyway, so why increase the incivility? There you have it. The Contrarian Stance.

One has to wonder what major lie leading to some type of major authoritarian act under a Trump administration—martial law, massive illegal deportations and imprisonments, war—would make Phillips drop her equivocations and contrarianisms, or would she even drop them then? Why didn’t she spend some of her time this week writing a post demanding Trump release copies of his tax returns instead of picking on Bernie Sanders of all people?

Here’s a longer piece on the back-and-forth between Sanders and Phillips. Essentially, Sanders tweeted about Trump’s well-known lies because he’s creating awareness and is concerned about democracy. Phillips then wrote her post criticizing Sanders for his lack of civil political discourse, and then Sanders responded to Phillips with a real question without a whiff of hyperbole or personal attack because, well, that’s Trump’s style, not Sanders’ style.

So what do we do, Sanders simply asked, when the United States president is a consistent, verifiable liar? Nothing?

The entire episode shows that despite new commitments to discover and report the truth in the Trump era from such media outlets as The Washington Post and The New York Times journalists throughout the country continue to apply old rhetorical formulas to new phenomenon. This includes the he-said-she-said false comparisons between lies and real arguments and The Contrarian Stance.

What doesn’t emerge from this type of journalism are verifiable facts or a truthful center.

What is now emerging from the history and the continuation of this type of journalism are presidential authoritarianism, chaos and fear.

Sanders is right. Phillips is wrong. (No equivocation.) There’s no space for contrarianism or civil discourse on this matter. President Trump, as other prominent leaders and writers have pointed out, is a liar. The reasons for his lies are obviously calculated in a larger sense—Trump never fully corrects or even tries to correct his initial lies—in the gestures in which he manipulates his own rhetorical presence. These gestures might seem haphazard or random, or simply dismissed by Phillips or whoever as a matter of style, but at this point it’s clear that his lies are a strategy and a longtime intuitive component of his public presentation of self.

Trump has, in a few short weeks, de-centered the institution of the American presidency through his brash lies, which to name a few, include calculated fibs about the size of his election victory, the crowd attendance at his inauguration and illegal voting in this country.

How can we get ever get back to some basic center of honesty or space of verifiable facts when we now consider the integrity of that institution without some major capitulation from Trump or unless he’s driven from office through legal means. That seems unlikely on both fronts. Our president lies just like all authoritarians and despots throughout history have lied. Will it always be so now in this country?

The Republic is in danger of failing sooner than later. Journalists like Phillips, who is writing for a publication that can still make a difference, are allowing it to happen. Democracy does die in darkness as the new WaPo slogan states. It’s too bad some of their staff still won’t turn on the lights.

School Vouchers Never A Good Idea For Oklahoma

The fact that a legislative bill that would have created education savings accounts in Oklahoma has been pulled from consideration is a victory for public education and overall a positive development this session.

One always knows something good has happened on a legislative matter when it prompts a wildly misleading editorial in The Oklahoman, the ultra-conservative newspaper, which lamented the bill’s demise because, get this, everyone, it would have helped children from low-income families.

Since when has The Oklahoman cared about impoverished people or overall poverty in this state or even basic children issues? Since never, and it still doesn’t. The newspaper is a stalwart entity of right-wing extremism that not only supports further enriching the extremely wealthy people in the state through income tax cuts but also sells daily its toxic brew of income disparity initiatives and trickle-down economics as modern miracles of bold, enlightened thought.

What the editorial leaves out is what’s important here. It’s the wealthy, not the impoverished who ultimately benefit the most from education savings accounts in which families are given taxpayers dollars, or per-pupil dollars, to use to pay for private schools. Let’s be clear that poor and even middle class people usually don’t have enough money to come up with the tuition of most private schools, such as Oklahoma City’s Casady and Heritage Hall, even with partial financial help from the government. But the extremely wealthy, whose kids are already in private schools, could always use the extra money, right? That’s how vouchers work. It’s a transfer of money to the extremely wealthy.

The editorial, titled “Poor families lose with withdrawal of Oklahoma ESA bill,” begins by quoting liar-in-chief Donald Trump and then commences with its own series of whoppers. The editorial notes that Republicans “ignored the needs of some of Oklahoma’s neediest children,” without acknowledging how similar voucher programs in other states, such as Indiana, have primarily been taken advantage of by people who would have sent their children to private schools anyway.

Meanwhile, voucher programs drain public schools of needed money, and, in a place like Oklahoma, which funds its schools and pays its teachers at some of the lowest levels in the country, every dollar counts.

The ESA bill, sponsored by state Sen. Rob Standridge, a Norman Republican, was supposedly specifically designed to help low-income children in Oklahoma, Tulsa and Cleveland counties through a sliding scale of per-pupil dollar amounts, but it also allowed, as the editorial noted, “not-quite-as-poor children” to get funds for private education as well through tax dollars. Standridge pulled the bill from consideration because it lacked enough Republican support. He plans to introduce the bill again in a future session, according to media reports.

The editorial even used a partial quote by Martin Luther King Jr. to make its case. The conflation of implicit praise for Trump and Dr. King in a single editorial is bizarre as it gets, but in this case and during these not-so-normal times it’s borderline evil on a rhetorical level. Trump is a huckster and unhinged liar and an authoritarian, who threatens our democracy with each passing day. King was a pacifist minister, a legendary hero, who risked his life and bodily harm as he ushered in the civil rights era in this country.

The main problem with vouchers or whatever the right-wing wants to call them at any given moment to deceive people into privatizing education is that it takes away money from public schools, which are still tasked with educating all children despite their income level or learning ability. This is particularly important in Oklahoma, which has cut funding to education the most of any state since the 2008 recession.

Given this state’s long history of underfunding education, it will never be the right time here for ESAs or vouchers or any major privatization of our school systems. Those who stood up against the bill should be lauded, not falsely shamed for supposedly not helping poor children. It’s The Oklahoman editorial board and its supporters and apologists, with their right-wing lies and their long history of supporting policies that benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class, that should be publicly criticized.

Reign Of Error: President Trump Makes It Up Then Goes On Tweet Tirade

We can hope the mainstream media journalists who praised President Donald Trump after his supposed redemption speech last week will now understand the country is clearly dealing with an unhinged, calculating liar as its leader.

As the bizarre tweets over the weekend indicate on a larger, cosmic level, any effort to find praise for the racist and misogynistic Trump at this point for anything is an exercise in crass deflection, a grave error and disservice to this country and democratic institutions throughout the world. Some decent reporters and analysts in the mainstream media, of course, didn’t fall for Trump’s intentional misdirection play when he addressed Congress last week in a more subdued manner, temporarily abandoning his normal ranting style so we can maybe hope there’s still some hope maybe.

But the praise for Trump, mainly from the major television networks, was as bizarre as Trump’s weekend tweets, and it just wasn’t Fox News.

Of course, Trump lied his way through the speech, which the now-trying-to-be honest media, such as The New York Times, reported diligently, but the president’s television enablers—the hairs as I call them—were so struck by his different tone they became convinced his speech was some type of miraculous change in style, tone and, get this, substance. Maybe they think this is all a reality television show that ends happily for someone. That all stopped in the next couple of days as his fellow liar and campaign surrogate, fellow racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, got caught in his own web of deceit, and the Trump regime imploded once again into a carnival of the bizarre.

By the time the weekend arrived, Trump was tweeting wild accusations about how former President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of his offices back in October, which is not even legally or, well, physically possible unless the former president did it himself with a ladder, pliers and top secret eavesdropping gizmos. Even FBI director James Comey eventually called Trump out on the craziness and absurdity of his outburst. In one ridiculous tweet, Trump referred to Obama’s fictional action as a Watergate-type scandal and then as McCarthyism when, in fact, the continuing exposure of the Trump’s regime Russian connections is the real Watergate in the living room.

As we now know, Sessions’ lying made him recused himself from any investigation examining Trump’s and his campaign’s connection to Russia, which meddled in our recent election on both presidential and Congressional levels by hacking into emails and supporting conservatives and authoritarians for office.This mainly included support for Trump as the Russians released mundane emails through Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks of national Democratic Party officials, innocuous emails that received breathless coverage from our dysfunctional corporate media. The infighting in the Democratic Party was so important, wasn’t it, just like the Benghazi investigation and Hillary Clinton’s server, right? Does anyone, except those directly involved, even remember all the specifics about any of those two events?

Let’s be clear that the Russians duped the nation’s media outlets as much as anyone else, and they continue to do so. All this leads us to the issue of relationship between the “deep state,” which represents our intelligence agencies and our basic democratic institutions, such as the three branches of government, which, of course, are vitally important at least on some symbolic level. But that’s another post for another time.

So I’m certainly ready to give The Times, The Washington Post and some other major media outlets, such as CNN, another chance at reporting the truth instead of the he-said-she-said reporting that marked the American journalistic era Before Trump. Now is the time for a relentless reporting of truth combined with complete and utter skepticism that Trump will ever start telling the truth, which he never will. Donald Trump will never start telling the truth on a consistent basis. Now is the time for daily front-page editorials demanding, among other things, that Trump release copies of his tax returns and information about his campaign’s connections with the Russian government during his run for president.

How many lies will it take? How many times will the media fall for Trump’s misdirection plays as he assumes, momentarily, a fictional calmer demeanor or a softer tone? How more obvious can it get? How many more people have to die by hate-crime murders before the media wakes up? The blood is on every journalist who works at a major news outlet and isn’t speaking up. They have the money and instruments to report the truth. Will they do it?

Some in the media continue to want to play by the old rules in which a politician stretches the truth for simple political gain or defense in a moment of controversy or parses the numbers in a distorted manner and then there’s some back and forth on a particular issue. This isn’t the case with Trump. He lies on a truly spectacular level, and his supporters and most of the leaders in his political party, the GOP, simply don’t care. So who cares about Trump’s demeanor at any given moment on one particular day? He’s a damn liar. To normalize him is to accept all explicit liars as president from now on. It only takes one, and then it happens again and again, and there goes democracy down the drain.

Trump’s consistent lying threatens the foundation of America’s democratic institutions and our diverse culture and what freedom and voice and agency we still have. If those are not worth fighting for, then there’s pretty much nothing left worth fighting for here. People have started to rise against Trump, true, but it will be difficult to get anything done if a complacent and powerful media is still searching for its mission in the past while a president who lies repeatedly is not held accountable.

Are the people alone on this sinking U.S.S. Democracy ship? Look carefully at the two Trump tweets I’ve used so far in this post. In the first tweet I posted, note how Trump uses the term “very sacred election process” and “Bad (or sick guy)!” Isn’t it obvious that these are the allegations against Trump himself, that he and/or his surrogates encouraged the Russians to help him get elected in the “sacred” election and that he’s the one who is coming off as mentally unbalanced “sick guy” or, at least, extremely unhinged? It’s obvious he’s trying to use the same criticisms against himself on Obama to conflate truth with a mirror lie in which he levels the same criticism he faces against what he perceives as hi opponents. Let’s be clear: Trump didn’t even run against Obama, who never exhibited one sign of mental illness during his presidency.

The second tweet I posted mentions “McCarthyism,” which is another misdirection. Joseph McCarthy, the U.S Senator and Wisconsin kook who started investigations of supposed American communists in the 1950s, was a Republican, just like Trump, as was Nixon, who had to resign because of the Watergate scandal. Two things to note here. The reference to McCarthy takes us again to a parsing of our country’s relationship to Russia, a former communist country which seems front and center in the president’s mind. Trump is expressing a liberal platitude—the communist witch hunt was wrong—as a misdirection in an extremely reductionist sense and, once again by inference, is showing in yet another way a deference to Russia through a history argument. (Look how awful those people accused of “plotting’ with Russian communists were treated.) Meanwhile, Trump is also condemning the extremism and blunders of McCarthy and Nixon, two Republicans who disgraced and still define their party. But, see, Republicans recognizing the collective memory hole of American don’t care about the brand as long as they get to dismantle programs for poor people in any given legislative session to serve the oligarchy. Meanwhile, Trump doesn’t need a political party or anyone for anything.

Obviously, one question is whether the tweets are simply stream-of-consciousness rants or calculated minutely after detailed, obsessive consideration. I speculate they are calculated on this level: Because of his power as an extremely wealthy person in our culture, which attracts nauseating, faux adoration, Trump has been allowed to just make things up as he goes along, which has been met with consistent, deferential treatment from sycophants. That even allowed him, with the help of the “liberal” media, to become president as reporters clung to his every crazy word and reported the Clinton’s non-controversies as Serious Journalism art work. Why wouldn’t Trump or any millionaire for that matter continue with what has been successful for them to gain and hold power? He continues his bizarre behavior because he knows nothing else, and, no, he will never know how to act differently or become “presidential,” whatever that means at this point in our country’s history.

As all this was unfolding in the tweetashpere, Trump managed to get this out to the American public because it’s so so important:

The media needs to start out-tweeting the president of the United States. It can do so. It has the power and the intellectual power. It has, to paraphrase the late poet Allen Ginsberg, the best minds of its generation. There’s no excuse, anymore. The Times has made a small first step. Now it needs to get real. Its own survival is at risk. The buffoon Trump is a maniac, not someone who can be laughed away, although humor and satire have their serious role in the resistance and protest movement.

I’ll try to end on a constructive note. Here are some of my humble suggestions for the mainstream media, offered up as a former newspaper journalist, a current professor and a longtime blogger.

  • Run regular front-page editorials and television news commentaries demanding Trump release his tax returns.
  • Dispense with such qualifiers such as “misleading” or “distortions.” Trump is a liar. Call his lies lies. Remind readers and viewers that Trump is a liar. Call him a liar in virtually every context in your reporting as in “Trump has repeatedly lied in the past . . .” I still see a reluctance among media outlets to use the terms “lies” or “liar.”
  • Join forces with alternative media outlets to frame Trump’s lies in a broader context. Don’t worry about accusations that the “‘lamestream’ media is liberal.” Who cares about that at this point?
  • Stop all the contrarian viewpoints about any given issue when it’s obvious Trump or one of his surrogates has lied. Don’t allow anyone, even so-called experts, to parse through some ridiculous qualification of his lies. Trump is a liar; the people around him lie. That’s a given at this point.
  • Embrace groups and organizations that know the lies of the Trump regime are threatening our country’s democracy. Report on their actions with respect and urgency. Don’t dismiss the collective voice emerging from identity political groups. Help to grow it by reaching out.
  • Hire staff members who know that the country is at a dangerous moment in our history and wants the U.S to endure as a democracy with fair elections and some semblance of representative government.
  • Give up on the idea—and this especially applies to the larger coastal news outlets—that people who still support Trump can somehow be swayed by truth. That’s never going to happen on any large scale. This is a time to retrench on the truth, to call people who believe in the truth and fundamental democracy to action. Truth is not relative when it comes to Trump. People who support him, from high-ranking GOP leaders to the white supremacists who adore him, are not only complicit in his lies they also want him to lie.
  • Refuse to accept any advertising, political or otherwise, that attempts to qualify the lies of the Trump regime or attempts to normalize him in any form.
  • Embrace partisan politics by fully reporting on how the Republican leadership wants to dismantle the remains of democracy in this country. Embrace liberalism and express it openly. Use the words “liberal” and “progressive” in your mastheads and your television logos. Channel Five—the progressive voice of City, Somewhere, USA.
  • Create journalistic investigation teams made up of brave individuals who will look into Trump’s regime, such as his repeated lies, his personal finances, his family’s business ties, his connections to Russia, his anti-immigration initiatives and his build-up of the country’s war machine. Realize the categories are all connected under our historical conceptual knowledge of fascism and dictatorship.
  • This is a partial list. I could go on. The point is there needs to be a paradigm shift in the media on a major level.

    But I only have so much hope the media will respond in real opposition despite some encouraging signs lately. In the end, people have to show up in the public square in large numbers to resist and protest. They will face bodily harm and arrest, as all people protesting authoritarian governments have faced throughout history. Their lives could be disrupted in major ways that could define them forever in both positive and negative ways, but the alternative is even more grim. To function in silence at this dangerous moment is complicity.