Never Mind ‘Winning The War’ If You End Up ‘Losing The Peace’ That Follows

History is littered with the lamentable stories of Cultures that ‘won wars’ but lost the subsequent peace that should have been the spoil of their victory.  Case in point: The Union (The United States of America) v The Confederate States of America.

Grant accepted Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.  The Civil War ending was the Union’s high water mark.  Turns out, it was all downhill from there.  From Lincoln’s assassination to Johnson’s presidency (and his impeachment) to the terribly botched Reconstruction to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan to Separate But Equal to & through every awful instance of America’s deep-seated racism — all born of a terrible, terrible mistake:  the refusal to deny SLAVERY at America’s inception — and IN America’s Constitution.

A lot of terrible things have flowed from the Civil War into our Timeline.  But the most damning and damaging comes via the Confederacy’s Ghost:  Having lost the War, it seemingly ‘rose from the dead’ and WON THE PEACE.  How’d it do that?

Usually, it’s the Victors who get to write the History.  But, perversely, that didn’t happen here.  Southern writers — or writers influenced by Southern sympathies — started using the term ‘States Rights’ to describe the Confederacy’s motives for attempting to destroy the Republic. Suddenly the rebels went from trying to destroy the country to being the ones ‘dedicated’ to making us ‘A more perfect Union’.

It’s utter bullshit, of course.  If you go back and read every Confederate State’s exit statement — not a one of them mentions (their supposed core principle) State’s Rights.  On the flip side — the Northern states do talk about State’s Rights — what they are and what they aren’t.  The NORTH cared about States Rights while events were happening, not the South.

And yet — the South latched on to States Rights as its means to re-write History — to paint themselves more favorably — and less honestly.  And damn if they didn’t get away with it.  We actually still debate, in this country, what caused the Civil War — as if, when the simple facts are presented, it wasn’t as obvious as a sledgehammer landing on your foot.  The word we’re all looking for is: “Slavery’.  That’s what caused the Civil War.  But Slavery was such an egregious error on our part that even ENDING IT did not end our problem with it — because we enslaved people UNLIKE us — and never made that fact up to them.  We never ‘owned’ our racism — and apologized for it — and made the people we enslaved ‘whole’ again.

We — the enslavers — did not do that.  Slavery remains an open issue on our books.  That happened because the Union, exhausted by its war win, left the storytelling part of the exercise to the war’s ‘losers’.  They LIED about their story.  They pitched a completely FALSE NARRATIVE.  We bought it…

And, today, an empowered, racist South holds outsized power over the country’s future direction.  Mind you ‘The South’ doesn’t just live ‘in the south’.  it’s spirit lives all over the country in small enclaves of tiny-minded, racist-and-misogynist thinking.  Their horse shit was allowed to thrive and prosper because it wasn’t cut down at its inception.

And every time the news media wonders aloud why White People are so angry, they’re adding to the South’s (and Conservatives’)  narrative that their rage is justified.  If we had just paid a little more attention at the start — when the first Southerner/Conservative spewed the words ‘States Rights’.

If we had just slapped them down — with our words — we wouldn’t be having ‘this’ problem now.

 

 

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‘Both Sides Do It’ Is As Dubious As It Is Dead End

American journalism has multiple issues that prevent it from doing its job correctly.  Corporatism’s up there but we can’t blame corporatism for ‘Both Sides Do It’.

I’m curious — Is ‘Both Sides Do It’ (the market version of ‘False Equivalence’) actually taught at American journalism schools?  Is that where the Chuck Todds & Alex Witts & Andrea Mitchells & Wolf Blitzers & Chris Cilizzas of the world learned to ditch all analytical thinking and simply assume that all things are indeed equal?  They certainly couldn’t have ‘learned’ that from actually studying reality.  Or living in it.

The first thing ditched when a journalist tacitly accepts that ‘both sides do it’ is PROPORTION.  They could (and the Chuck Todds ALWAYS DO) ask the dopey ‘what if’ — “Well, what if this otherwise completely illogical, unbelievable thing were true…?”  The next thing they do — if there’s a shred of similarity — is “See?  Both sides DO do it!”

Yeah, Chuck Todd, they do.  Hey — didja know that humans and fish both ‘breathe’?  They do!  Both sides DO IT!  Of course, humans breathe air and fish breathe water but — that’s a minor detail, right — at least it always is where your storytelling is concerned:  “BOTH SIDES DO IT!”.

Let’s try on proportionality.  A man who steals because he is hungry vs a man who steals BILLIONS because he can.  Both men are thieves; BOTH SIDES DO IT.  The proportions aren’t quite the same though.

If journalism is an inquiry into The Truth, then any journalist taking up the mantle that ‘Both Sides Do It’ has just cut their vision of The Truth in half.  Maybe more.

Any journalist even ‘thinking’ that ‘both sides do it’ is a journalist who’s already left the building.

Bad enough as ‘both sides do it’ is as an ‘analytical tool’, it’s a hell of a lot worse as a basis for action — as in ‘both sides do it so here’s what WE should do…’.  There’s nothing of substance where the ellipse now is.  You can’t take ‘both sides do it’ and create actions to stop both sides from doing it.  It’s a dead end description — in addition to being inaccurate.

The way it almost always works — no, ALWAYS works — is we all turn to Liberals, Progressives and Democrats to ‘be the adult’ and step back from the precipice first.  No one ever looks to conservatives to make the first move because they know — compromise is not in any conservative’s DNA.  There’s a reason they’re conservative:  They want to CONSERVE something — the past is my guess.

Every time they compromise though, a piece of that past gets wiped away forever.  It’s no more than a memory now… .  Conservatives know that.  Newt Gingrich did.  newt-gingrichThat’s why his revolution allowed no compromise.  Compromise wasn’t just failure, it was extinction.  In response, Newt launched the full-on Culture War that got conservatives so crazed they thought joining forces with RUSSIA was an okay idea.  They thought taking Russian money and serving Russian masters was preferable to compromising with progressives.

Think about that.

One side does it for a specific set of reasons.  Conservatives and republicans ‘do it’ because they know the demographics are against them.  THEY ‘do it’ because their ideas appeal to fewer and fewer people — most of whom, it so happens, look just like them.  Conservatives do it because they dread losing power; they know it will never come back to them.  Not if Democracy works the way it’s supposed to…

Which brings us to Mitch McConnell — the man who has single-handedly destroyed the US Senate — the man who stood in the way of Barrack Obama telling America in September that our election was under attack from Russia — whose aim was to make Donald Trump president.

Mitch McC

Mitch, it turns out, has been taking Russian money forever… As in MILLIONS of it.  And we thought he was only the Koch Brothers’ lackey… Silly us.  Mitch literally robbed Barrack Obama — AND EVERY AMERICAN WHO VOTED FOR HIM — of the SCOTUS pick THEIR VOTE WON THEM.

‘Won’ them.  Or is winning different when Democrats do it?

DO both sides do what Mitch did?  No, both sides do NOT.   I rest my case.

What You Laugh At (And Who With) Defines You

The new SNL season premiered last night — and aside from Kanye West’s strange performances (culminating in his MAGA-hat-wearing finale number) was, start to finish, terrific.  Here in my house, we laughed a lot.

We were laughing, in part, cathartically.  We needed to laugh as a way to release the incredible tension.  But the laughter wasn’t completely therapeutic.    It was angry, too.  There were notes of righteous indignation and bitterness — because we live in a time when the Truth is being flat out ignored.

We live during a soft coup d’etat. During Cyber War while a hostile foreign power dominates us because one of our two political parties has been completely compromised by them.

There’s a lot to be angry and bitter about. And one way we ‘deal’ with that is through laughter.  It’s a coping mechanism.  But laughter also is a way that a culture defines itself, its boundaries, its quirks, its contradictions and idiosyncrasies.  We laugh at our hypocrisy and sanctimony.  We laugh, in a way, to self-critique.

Well, some of us do.

Others laugh as a way to belittle.  Their laughter doesn’t ever sound joyful or delighted.  It always has dark, threatening notes to it.

Perhaps it’s because of what exactly those people are laughing at.  For one thing — it’s never themselves that they’re laughing at.  That’s a tell.

People incapable of laughing at themselves are people without an actual sense of humor.  Not all laughter is caused by things that are funny.

If you think about last night’s SNL — and why it was so funny to so many people — it’s because it was aiming squarely at things we all know are TRUE.  It’s the way they attacked the Truth that made us all laugh.  TRUTH lies at the core of comedy.

(Often) painful Truth.

But a person laughing at, say, another person’s physical disability or handicap — isn’t laughing so much at a ‘truth’ as at the person with the disability or handicap; they’re not laughing at how unfair the universe is, they’re laughing at the fact that this person has this problem — and they don’t.  They’re laughing AT ‘the other’ — a person ‘unlike’ them for whatever reason.

When a group of people — with no sense of humor — begin laughing at ‘the other’ you get mobs.  You get fascists.  You get Nazi Germany.  You get white supremacists.  You get Donald Trump.

Want to know who’s who & what’s what in America today?  Look at who was laughing at SNL last night.  Who was laughing with it.

And who wasn’t laughing at all…

Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump Holds Election Night Event In New York City
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 08: People cheer as voting results for Iowa come in at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown on November 8, 2016 in New York City. Americans today will choose between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as they go to the polls to vote for the next president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

An Ode To ‘Broads’

Full Transparency — I love ‘Broads’.  I love the ‘idea’ of ‘Broads’.  I even like the word ‘Broads’ to describe that particular kind of woman…

Of all the words used to describe women, “Broad” has had a virtually unique journey.  It went from having purely negative connotations to having almost completely positive ones.  At the web site todayifoundout.com, Dave Haskey has a good post about where words like ‘broad’ came from.  He finishes the section on ‘Broad’ with a quote from A Dictionary of Words About Women, by Jane Mills:  “…A broad is defined as “a woman who is liberal, tolerant, unconfined, and not limited or narrow in scope.”

“Unconfined” is important.  So is “Not limited or narrow in scope”.  Broads have perspective.  It’s hardwired into them.  It’s what gives them that ‘Honey, I’ve seen it all, heard it all, done it all’ quality.

Broads are steel built on a foundation of heartache.  She liked the look of ya, so what?  She saw the rest of you coming from a million miles away.  You can knock her down all you like.  She’s already back on her feet.  She may want you but you?  You need her — and that’s gonna be harder on you.

Bette Midler is a ‘Broad’ —

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - Season 22

One of Bette’s idols — Sophie Tucker (“Last of the Red Hot Mommas”) — was the ‘Uber Broad’.

sophie-tucker-getty-hero

If you’ve never seen The Divine Miss M’s tribute to her idol —  you owe it to yourself:  A Broad Paying Homage To A Broad…

 

Helen Mirren is a ‘Broad’ — you could see the ‘Broad’ in her even when she was a young actress chewing up the RSC.

But, finally, the quintessential ‘Classic Hollywood Broad Moment’ is delivered by Hollywood’s Most Classic Broad — Lauren Bacall.

One thing ya never do — men especially?  Is try and top a ‘Broad’.

 

 

America Has A ‘Body Image’ Problem: Why Gerrymandering Is Our DYSMORPHIA

What does America ‘look like’?

Imagine us sweeping into a dressing room for a fitting.  How shall we ‘dress’ going forward (through the door of the next election — there, that’s the whole metaphor)?

Turns out we have the whole world’s attention as we twirl in the mirror.  They all see us how they see us — like friends and rivals, each with a history and an attitude toward us.  Can’t do much about that right now.  History is history.

But, as we twirl, we catch our own reflection.  And what we see staring back… It confounds us.  We know what we are in our heads.  Why doesn’t our body look like it?

Welcome to Gerrymandering.

Quick example (drawn from Lawrence Wright’s wonderful piece in the New Yorker from a few months back about the effects of gerrymandering on Texas).  Austin, Texas has a largely progressive voter population.  And yet — of the SEVEN voting districts into which Austin has been carved, as of the time Wright was writing, only ONE was represented by a Democrat.  The rest of Austin’s six — predominantly progressive — districts were represented by conservatives (and in several districts, ARCH conservatives).

The (intended) result — A MAJORITY  Progressive voting population is represented as a MINORITY Conservative population — the Will of the People has been completely CIRCUMVENTED.  The intended result isn’t just an electoral win for the MINORITY candidate but the creation of a Juggernaut of electoral invincibility that will keep the conservative white, Christian minority in power over a progressive, diverse majority.  In heavily gerrymandered districts all over the country, Democrats must, in essence, generate at least twice the voter turnout just to achieve ‘parity’ that overcomes the distorting effect of the gerrymandering.

Because that’s what gerrymandering does (aside from circumvent the will of the people) — it creates a distortion — exactly like dysmorphia — to take root in our brains.  The News Media — glomming onto the numbers (like it was our weight expressed down to the atom) — doesn’t see or acknowledge the context that gerrymandering presents, that the numbers, without that context, tell, in fact, a very false narrative about a district that doesn’t exist.

If you’ve ever experienced body dysmorphia — or know someone who has — a dysmorphic’s body image does not match reality.  They desperately need a meal but their dysmorphic mind says ‘Go on a diet’.  The diet could kill them.

That is us — America.  A progressive-by-nature country (that’s what diversity does — it’s why diversity COMES in the first place because progressive places welcome while regressive places turn away) being run by arch conservative people NOT because the progressive population ‘wants’ to be governed that way but because the arch conservative people figured out how to HOLD ONTO POWER despite the fact that they were no longer the majority entitled to hold onto power.

And they did that through GERRYMANDERING.

When America looks in the mirror, it sees THIS —

It sees diversity.  It sees every color in the rainbow and every variation on the theme of being human.  It sees America staring back at it.

When Conservative America look in that same mirror, this apparently is what it sees staring back —

Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump Holds Election Night Event In New York City

THEY look like that, yes.  They do.  And they’re proud of it.  But it’s not what WE look like.  It’s not what America looks like.

When we start to get healthy again — soon, I hope — we’ll see it.

 

Most Marijuana Research Is BULLSHIT

durban-poison-strain-1

Durban Poison is our Friend.

I am biased as hell.  Yessirree.  I am an out-and-out advocate for MARIJUANA.  More transparency — I now write a weekly column (for $) at marijuana.com — and I urge you to check them out — they’re now THE site to go-to for real news about marijuana.

More transparency — I’ve always wanted to write the story of how marijuana was made illegal in this country — and the world — in the first place (and most importantly WHY).

It’s a subject I care about.  Cause I use it — and, yes, yes, it’s not for everyone and children should NOT use it (are we all done being stupid?) but — for most adults, it is a good product with good, solid, reliable benefits.  It does vastly more good than harm to and for the people who use it and, as we’re learning state by state, when you legalize it and tax it and people go buy it & use it… nothing bad happens.  And tax dollars come in.

Marijuana is not a perfect product.  NO PRODUCT IS PERFECT (are we done being stupid now?)   For argument’s sake — cos it’s ‘related’ — your average pharmaceutical product (to judge by the litany of horrible side effects) has a far better chance of harming you or, just as bad, addicting you.  Marijuana — in a world of choices — is a good choice for many medical conditions — and a better choice than alcohol for recreational use.

You’ll have to point to the news coverage of a bunch of stoners leaving a soccer game and tearing up a town.  It doesn’t happen.  Because marijuana doesn’t inspire you in that direction.

Still – we get to hear the opponents (and ‘soft friends’) of marijuana warn us about the drug’s inherent dangers.  Psychosis comes up a lot.  Schizophrenia too.  Cannabis ‘can’ make those conditions worse.  ‘CAN’.  But ‘can’ HOW?

The same argument gets made about marijuana’s impact on young users.  I’m not saying — at all — that marijuana is ‘good’ for young users.  Hell no.  I’m just asking can we get some actual data that says it’s bad and show us how and why it’s bad.  But the published data really can’t do that because it never bothered to keep track of the marijuana being used.  In some cases, the teens whose experience researchers were talking to simply reported they were high all day.  But we don’t know on what.  We don’t know how much.  We don’t know where it came from or even if the test subjects are even reliable in their reporting.

I want to know the Truth about marijuana as much as anyone.  More.  Cause I use so damned much of it.  If it IS killing me — I may not stop using it because it does so many other good things for me (and the truth is, at some point, I’m going to die anyway).  But at least I’ll be able to make an informed, adult decision.  Like a Free Person should be able to.

Until marijuana research starts approaching the product it’s researching like a ‘real thing’ and not the ludicrous abstraction that bad, racist law enforcement and cultural prejudice convinced us it was, we will live in  darkness.  I can’t think of another product that was so demonized for such terrible reasons.

Good thing we’re all here to fix it…

 

 

 

Why Decency Effin’ Matters

We live in Indecent Times.  Decency is as dead as irony is alive.

In American Politics, Decency died the day Lee Atwater went to work.

Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwate
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, young Republicans political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo by Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Lee Atwater’s the dude on the right — keeping company with Paul Manafort & Roger Stone.  During the 1980’s & 1990’s, Atwater ran campaigns for Ronald Reagan & George Bush before running the RNC.  Atwater didn’t invent dirty, malicious politics in America but he turned them from gamesmanship into brinkmanship.  He had no interest in compromise.  None.

Newt Gingrich picked up the mantle when cancer took a bite out of Atwater (though I bet cancer wished almost immediately it could spit Atwater out).

newt-gingrich

Newt turned Atwater’s political war against the Left into an all out Culture War.  We have not been the same since.

When you choose not to compromise with someone, you cease having to communicate with them  — except to tell them what you expect to DO to them.  It’s an aggressive act — cutting off effective communication with someone.  It’s a not-so-subtle declaration of War.  Culture War.  Political War.

It flows:  When you see yourself in a perpetual state of war, the people opposing you are your enemy — even if they’re your countrymen and they simply see a different way of solving the Nation’s many problems.  Decent people don’t see people they disagree with as their enemy deserving of cultural death.

But Newt did.  As did Lee.

Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — friends of Lee’s — went to work for Donald J Trump.  We all know where he stands vis a vis ‘decency’.

Another of Donald Trump’s mentors of course was Roy Cohn — another member of this despicable club.

And Roy Cohn famously worked for Joe McCarthy.  And Joe McCarthy famously got asked the very same question Donald Trump and the whole Republican Party need to be peppered with repeatedly:  “At last, sir, have you no DECENCY?”