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.

Being Republican Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

Anyone’s who’s ever raised a child knows what can happen when a five year old gets crazy belligerent. Trying to reason with them is pointless on steroids. They act and argue like five year old’s because that’s what they are. Republicans can’t claim the same excuse though that doesn’t stop them from arguing like five year old’s anyway. It’s how five year old’s think. Especially five year old boys. That doesn’t get any better with age. By the time they’re ten, they understand control of their lives this way: “Are YOU the ‘boss’ of me?” Or, as it’s stated in context, usually with lower lip thrust forward, “You’re not the boss of me!” That’s something they’d never say to a parent because their parents ARE the boss of them. So’s their boss and anyone above them in the pecking order as they perceive it. Someone with more money, a better car, hotter arm candy — those people are the boss of every sniveling Republican.

The ultimate bottom line for our story — the thing driving all the worst behaviors — is corruption. Ours is a story of what happens when corruption threatens to overwhelm everything good. Republicans want to overturn every election they lose — in other words, toss democracy entirely. Oh, sure, we can have mock elections that look like the real thing, but the outcomes would always be pre-determined with whole blocks of voters simply dropped from the system because they’re not white and won’t vote for Republicans. One does not gerrymander voting districts or suppress Democratic voters because you believe in your cause. You do it because you’re a criminal intent on circumventing the will of the people.

Part of our problem here is that, all along, Republicans have helped us define what “normal” is or what “acceptable corruption” is. It’s remarkable what white people get away with compared to everyone else. Lanisha Bratcher was on parole in North Carolina when she voted in 2016, unaware that she was ineligible because she was still on probation. Her vote never counted anyway. A Black woman, Lanisha faces two felonies and years in prison. Crystal Mason (also Black) faces five years in prison if her appeal loses for voting in Texas, also while under probation. In fact, the kind of voting fraud Republicans rail about is extremely rare while Republican voting fraud goes on like a bad habit. Republican election fraud actually changes election outcomes.

There’s not a single issue facing America where the Republicans stand upon sound logic and reasoning — or legal logic and reasoning. Not on voting, not on the economy, not on climate change, not on Russia’s takeover of our country which the January 6 insurrection was very much a part of. Considering how deep Russia’s tentacles run throughout the Trump White House, it would beggar belief that that Russia played zero part in this particularly war-like action. It is a simple fact of life that Russia helped make the insurrection happen. Perhaps some of their money paid for it. If I’m right in any way, shape or form, that means the insurrection isn’t just sorta, kinda treasonous, it’s one hundred percent treasonous.

Well played, Republicans!

The point of this disgusting exercise is permanent minority rule — a thing for which Republicans feel no need to apologize. They want US to apologize to them for being here in America and for not being them. They will never say “Sorry for racism — building an economy on stolen labor and destroyed lives was no way to build a country.” They will never say “We apologize deeply for the whole offensive idea of “manifest destiny”; seriously, how could grown adults with even a lick of perspective have gone along with that horse shit? Ah, but when you’re invented god tells you you’re entitled to anything you want — cos God says so — that’s not really God smiling on you, that’s you smiling on you and calling it “God”. Which means it’s you speaking as God.

As I’ve written here, monotheism is damned dangerous. Republicans prove the point. Monotheistic gods, being “perfect” and “divine”, don’t make mistakes and if they do, their mistakes aren’t mistakes. They make up rules as they go along and change them on the fly just because they can. They get to make up prophecies that justify their continuing hold. When a believer thinks God — a powerful deity who, the mythology says, created everything — speaks to them or that they (better than others) understand what this fundamental universal force wants, it’s not just because they’re “special”. Oh, they are “special” but it’s not because this God character speaks to and through them. It’s because, if you peel off the “lives in the clouds” window dressing, the “God” you arrive at is them.

It galls white people more than they can bear to watch 3oo years of white hegemony finally slip away as it should have long ago. There never should have been any sort of white hegemony on this continent. If not for the success of our pathogens (much more than the success of our guns and steel), white people may have never gotten much more than a toehold in the Americas. A trading hub.

Thinking you’re God is a massively corrupt way to think but plenty of people do it. To think your hold on America is justified simply because white people came up with a good idea that they executed poorly is, well, soooooo “white people”.

Republicans feel entitled to undermine the rule of law in service of themselves. They feel entitled to run America. That’s what “originalism” really is — a statement of white entitlement.

Frankly, I’d prefer it if not a single Republican ever apologizes or takes real and true ownership of their diabolical behavior. That way, when we get to the punishment phase, we can throw the book at them, hard. The fact is, Republicans feel entitled to do whatever they need to to hold onto power. They’ve always felt that way. That’s why they never apologize for anything and why the press never asks or expects them to apologize. Because Republican entitlement is baked into our architecture.

“TRUMPOCALYPSE: THE MINISERIES” Casting Office

U.S. Vice-President Biden smiles as he speaks with Croatian PM Milanovic in Zagreb

Back at the early days of the Trump madness — in the middle of his term — back when we thought our world had gone pretty much as bonkers as it could get, I wrote a post called “Trumpocalypse: The Movie”.  I smile now at my charming naivete — to think that the Trump madness could be contained within one measly feature film.  Re-thinkiing “Trumpocalypse” as a mini-series also threatens to be too small a vehicle to contain the “Trumpocalypse” story  but the thing about a mini series is it has an end point.  After the last episode, it’s done.  If we do this right, there should be no more — no sequels, no spin offs, nothing.  Whereas, if we made “Trumpocalypse” an on-going series with no end date in sight… You see what I mean?  We NEED this show to be finite because this can’t be our only show.  There’s great stuff – important stuff — on other channels that we need to get to and quickly.

Not only has the “Trumpocalypse” mini series got way more storylines in it, it’s got way more characters.  How do we organize our casting process so that, when we get to “the day”, we have not only a great cast but a great cast that will complement each other?  

I’d like to start by casting first the Trump family.  Then those immediately around it — the “inner circle” if you will.  Then, I would begin to cast the mini-series — going chronologically — major story by major story.  As this is going to be an ongoing project that’s changing on the fly, I’ve no doubt some stories will demand to be cast in the right here, right now.  Hey — welcome to life in a casting office!  Things change all the time.  Actors drop out and new characters and whole storylines suddenly get added.  If ya can’t stand the heat…

So, without any further ado, please welcome to our Casting Office! You’ll see where I’ve left the casting door open for everyone else to bring their suggestions and their casting notes…

CHARACTER

DONALD J. TRUMP

ALEC BALDWIN as Trump…

NOTES: Baldwin’s is probably the most familiar Trump. It’s an excellent caricature. And, considering that Trump IS a caricature of a human. playing Trump as a caricature makes a certain kind of sense. I wonder if there’s not a way to “multiple-cast” Trump since he worked in so many different ways on our psyche. Just a thought for later discussion…

BRENDAN GLEASON as Trump…

NOTES: Gleeson played Trump in “The Comey Rule” on Showtime.

WOODY HARRELSON as Trump

NOTES: I’ve always liked Woody Harrelson’s “interior” range. It’s amazing and we’re going to need an actor with incredible emotional range to play a character with VIRTUALLY NONE.  It’s like getting an actor to sing off key.  The ones who can actually sing will automatically do it better.  They even know where off-key is.

IVANKA TRUMP

SCARLET JOHANSSON as Ivanka Trump

NOTES: There’s a kind of irony in an actress great at playing Black Widow to play the part of a woman who acts like an actual black widow spider.

AMANDA SEYFRIED as Ivanka

NOTES: Some things just seem so natural…

DONALD TRUMP, JR

MIKEY DAY as Donald Trump, Jr

NOTES: Presently, the actor who’s gotten closest to nailing Don Jr’s unctuousness is an actor satirizing him. That’s probably not a coincidence. Still — we need some competition here. I’ll put my mind to it if you will…

ERIC TRUMP

Alex Moffat as Eric Trump

NOTES: As with Mikey Day’s Junior, SNL’s version of Eric — and I love Alex Moffat’s Eric — stands for the moment as “the” Eric. Competition’s good for everyone — Trump’s included.

MELANIA TRUMP

CASTING OPEN!

Awaiting Picture, so here’s the real Melania — in the one photo I can find of her smiling like she means it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Melania’s smiling this way at Putin. Not cos Melania respects international relationships but because she worked the whole damned time as Donald’s handler on Vlad’s behalf. Hey, how do you say “I don’t care, do you?” in Russian?

VLADIMIR PUTIN

MADS MIKKELSON as Vladimir Putin

NOTES: Mads played the Bond Villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. By all accounts, Vlad Putin is the Bond Villain America fully deserves.

RUDY GIULIANI

KATE McKINNON as Rudy Giuliani

NOTES: Personally, I’m not sure a human can play the entirely humanoid Rudy but my mind’s open. Kate McKinnon can do anything. I bet she could do a fully deep dive into Rudy and actually pull off an amazing, lifelike (without being cartoonish) characterization. But still — for the moment, the part’s wide open.

MORE CHARACTERS TO COME!!!!!

Cannabis Culture V Alcohol Culture

A Shift in Cannabis Culture

All self-medication is not created equal.

Alcohol culture and cannabis culture come from two distinctly different places. Their hold on Americans are both distinctly different. One has always been incredibly unhealthy (fun as hell — make no mistake — but damned unhealthy). The other is cannabis culture. Both inspired prohibition but cannabis’ prohibition endured long beyond alcohol’s. That wasn’t a coincidence. It had to do with who, in the early days, was using cannabis — which was why the nascent Federal Bureau of Narcotics under its first Commissioner Harry Anslinger flip-flopped on “marihuana”; the FBN stopped seeing it as a very minor, innocuous Mexican habit brought across the border by Mexicans fleeing the Mexican Revolution and, instead (almost overnight, in fact) started seeing it as an invented crisis with racism at its core: “reefer madness”.

The very reason Harry Anslinger hated marijuana and declared war on it was because white people started to smoke it. The vector between Mexicans smoking it and white people smoking it was Black people smoking it. And the Black people who drove marijuana’s growing popularization — as it literally travelled up the Mississippi from New Orleans — were the musicians who’d invented jazz, many of them while smoking marijuana. Anslinger was both a die hard racist and a brilliant bureaucrat. Turns out, he also fancied himself a good pianist with a passion for European classical music. Jazz was anathema to Anslinger. He hated the musicians who created jazz. He hated the Blackness of their music. He hated the marijuana they smoked before and during their playing. But, he especially hated the fact that this Mexican and now Black habit was spreading from non-white usage to white usage.

Harry Anslinger personally invented “reefer madness” — that bizarre way of seeing and thinking about cannabis, divorced from any sort of practical cannabis experience. But Harry had a problem. He may have hated marijuana because of the people he saw smoking it in his mind’s eye, but no one else did. The law didn’t hate marijuana, quite the contrary. The law was rather pro-hemp. It didn’t care whether or not anyone smoked it. And the Constitution gave Harry no openings either. Nothing in our Constitution supports marijuana prohibition whatsoever.

That’s what everyone told Harry as he tried to formulate a law that would give him the power to arrest and prosecute people he hated because of racism.

But, as I said, Harry was also a great bureaucrat. Instead of quitting, he went bureaucratic. Our federal government didn’t nail Al Capone for being a gangster. It nailed Capone for being a tax cheat. That was Harry’s tack.

First, he seeded the ground with racist bullshit. Harry would go to the press and tell them — with all the gravity and authority of the Commissioner of the FBN — that Black men were smoking marijuana and then getting sexed up and raping white women. Or getting white women to smoke marijuana themselves — and then getting so sexed up that they’d give themselves to these Black men! Oh, the horror! The press — and in their defense, why would they doubt Harry? — printed Harry’s bullshit in their newspapers which Harry would then hold up as proof that what he was saying was absolutely true.

This collection of clippings grew quickly into what Harry called his “Gore files”. Slowly, but surely, Harry’s racist magic worked its way through Congress. Now, the law was still the law; no one was going to indulge Harry by writing law that would get them laughed at. But, being a clever bureaucrat who understood how to catch a mobster, Harry proposed a tax instead. Every time anyone bought or sold cannabis — and, just to be safe, Harry through hemp into the mix, too — they would have to pay a tax. In order to prove they’d both paid the tax, both would have to get a stamp designed just for this purpose. Here’s where it got complicated. No organ was set up to collect any such tax — and none was going to be created. And (the cherry on top), no actual stamp was ever created either. The stamp was literally unattainable.

Any time anyone bought or sold marijuana or hemp, they were going to violate the tax code. The Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937 sailed through Congress (despite considerable opposition to it by organizations like the AMA who were keenly aware of marijuana’s considerable positives as a medication). Interesting story? Within twenty four hours, the Stamp Act had its first criminals. In Denver.

Samuel Caldwell got arrested on October 2, 1937 for possessing marijuana for which he could not provide the stamp as evidence that he’d paid the tax in order to possess that marijuana. Now, to be fair, Caldwell was no prince; he was a criminal with a fair-sized rap sheet. But that simply made it easier to prosecute Caldwell and establish a precedent.

For the record — a Mexican man named Moses Baca would have been the first arrestee except his arrest happened two weeks before the Tax Law was enacted. It was only after the law was enacted — and Baca couldn’t produce a stamp to prove he’d paid the tax — that he became a “drug criminal”.

Everything — literally everything — about cannabis prohibition was based on racist bullshit. For contrast, as stupid and doomed to failure as alcohol prohibition was, at least it was based on reality. While we think of the teetotalers and Temperance Society wackos who drove prohibition as old fashioned and repressive, in fact, they were being very progressive about a very real social problem: drinking. Then, as now, alcohol addiction ruined lives. Ruined whole families. Whole communities. Prohibition’s misguided aim was a better society. It used a sledge hammer when micro-surgery was in order.

When prohibition finally met its well-deserved end, America made damned sure such a thing could never, would n ever happen again. They put the liquor manufacturers in charge. And the distributors. They began the process of indoctrinating Americans from a very young age into thinking that alcohol is a right of passage. It’s the organizing principle around which most socializing revolves. A restaurant will almost never be profitable without alcohol sales to make it profitable. Bars are built on selling alcohol. The more, the better. Being big, corporate businesses now, alcohol manufacturers think globally. And they dutifully invest in keeping America’s youth fixated on that key rite of passage — legal drinking. That’s why alcohol manufacturers invest so much in creating products that make alcohol seem innocuous, fun, and candy-flavored.

No one reads a warning label on a beer bottle (or a packet of cigs) and thinks “Oh, wait — I hadn’t thought of that!” A better warning would be to point out something practical: “After consuming this alcoholic beverage, please wait at least twenty minutes before deciding you need another because you probably won’t”. It’s one of the weird things about alcohol and drinking. It’s like drinkers forget (after drinking) how alcohol works inside their own bodies. They drink — and keep drinking — like they’ve never had a drink before. Like they’re surprised to find themselves as over-the-limit as they are.

That’s a big part of our collective problem with alcohol: it screws with our memory. Screwing with our memory screws with our perspective. We keep forgetting all the dumb things we do when alcohol is inside us. We get it into our heads that they’re all isolated incidents rather than tiles in a mosaic that says: your relationship with alcohol isn’t what you think it is and alcohol’s the alpha.

I stopped drinking alcohol in early 2017. The mood stabilizer I started taking to deal with a decade long depression that was literally killing me gave alcohol a terrible, grapefruit skin-like aftertaste. That was heartbreaking at first. I loved the taste of a perfect gin martini (depending on the gin). I loved every aspect of a glass of big, dark, inky red — from first tentative sniff to last, satisfying swallow. An aversion to alcohol wasn’t one ofA the possible side effects the literature warned about. Lamotrigine was developed as an anti-seizure medication; its mood stabilizing effects were a ridealong. From the first moment that grapefruit skin aftertaste hit, I turned away from alcohol and never, really, looked back.

I’ve felt better since I stopped drinking. I sleep better. I work better. Let’s be clear however — alcohol was never my problem; I was. Now — to be fair — have I merely swapped one self-destructive bad habit for another? Isn’t cannabis just as bad in its way as alcohol is in its?

I’d answer it this way: there’s a very good reason we actually think of cannabis as a medicine while we only jokingly think of alcohol that way. It’s just a stone cold fact — alcohol and THC are entirely different chemicals that act in entirely different ways inside our bodies and especially our brains. Alcohol depresses our inhibitions by uniformly suppressing our motor skills and our ability to process information. Our reaction times slow and then our vague motor skills fudge the rest. THC, on the other hand, isn’t a depressant. Our thoughts are caused by electrical impulses flowing across our synapses. THC causes more of those synapses to be open (they’re a lot like digital circuits).

The reason everything seems a little more intense (colors, tastes, smells) is because our brains are literally processing more information than we’d be processing without the THC. That’s what some people experience as paranoia. They’re conflating that awareness of more information with someone outside of them. Because of cannabis’s bad boy past, that “someone” is inherently threatening because they “know”. That negative aside, for most cannabis users — especially those who recognize the difference between sativas, hybrids and indicas — the whole point of using cannabis is to achieve a particular effect. For instance, when I wake and bake every morning, I light up from a collection of sativas that I know will focus my brain and get it ready to write coherent thoughts. When I get to the end of my writing day and it’s time to chill, I’ll break out my hybrid collection (though some hybrids –Trainwreck especially — are excellent for work). When the evening is coming to its end and bedtime approaches, out come my indicas. I know that not only will indicas put me to sleep, they’ll give me a good, solid, restful night’s sleep from which I’ll awake the next day ready for battle.

Once I wake n bake, of course.

Alcohol culture isn’t going anywhere. There’s way too much money in it. And humans really like alcohol. But cannabis culture is on the come. The moment our government removes cannabis from schedule one — and the banks can finally invest their money in it? The cannabis business will boom like nothing before it. This is not a terrible thing except for the corruption that will ride shotgun alongside it. And it will suck when Big Cannabis becomes the power vortex and all the mom n pop operations get run out of business.

But, I believe, the culture cannabis will slowly impress upon us will be much more civilized than alcohol culture ever could be — because of alcohol’s nature. Think about it: if we stopped serving beer at sporting events and sold cannabis instead (hybrids, let’s say), violence would NEVER break out at sporting events ever again. Instead of screaming at each other at game’s end, opposing sides would be hugging, telling each other how well they played (regardless of the final score). Some fans might be dozing peacefully. No one would spill out into the streets ready to rumble.

People who smoke cannabis do not go home and beat their loved ones. They don’t get argumentative. They don’t get belligerent or combative. They do get funny though. And they do get the munchies.

Harry Anslinger hated jazz because Black people invented it. But — here’s the key — guys like Louis Armstrong and King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton all used cannabis as part of their creative process. These musicians were attempting to draw an abstract idea — jazz — out of their heads and into the air via their instruments. And they did this while ON CANNABIS. They knew from experience that no one can create music or play it well with a drink inside you. Heroin? Forget about it. Heroin turned the amazingly talented, handsome Chet Baker into a hollow shell of himself. It did not make him better at anything other than self-destruction. If only he’d been exclusively a dope fiend, he may have come to a happier ending.

Long before Big Alcohol turned to Big Advertising to improve its image, people had it in their heads that “in vino veritas” — that alcohol would lead to truth. I can only speak from personal experience. Alcohol, at best, leads to angry truthiness. That’s baked into its culture.

If I want real veritas? I’m tapping some Durban Poison into my Genius pipe and sparking it to life!

God Goes On A Job Interview: A Sketch

SETTING: A long, featureless, fluorescent lit hallway that seems to go on forever. Approaching footsteps and heavy breathing. Whoever’s approaching must be late — and worried about it. God steps into frame, a slip of paper clutched in his powerful (to hear him talk about it) hand. He peers at the number scribbled on it. It matches the room number above the doorway. This MUST be the place.

God straightens his tie. Gives his mighty (him again) head a shake as he clears his throat in a long roll of thunder. The timbre seems right. Reminding himself that he’s the one who created all this in six days damn it, he reaches for the door knob and steps into the next room like the monotheistic deity he is.

God comes up short on the other side of the door though. He wasn’t sure what to expect here. A respected bible scholar trying to make sense of unfathomable times or a world leader struggling with a terrible choice. Or a pope maybe. He definitely wasn’t expecting the attractive but business-like young woman seated across the very plain desk, a clutch of papers in her hands. From the look of the papers — the extensive wear on them, the young woman has gone over them relentlessly.

Like she was looking for answers on them. “Sheila,” she says, extending her hand toward God like he wasn’t the deity who created literally everything.

“Erm,” says God, uncomfortable but trying not to show it, desperate to do anything but shake her hand. The Young Woman has seen his discomfort. She withdraws her hand, never taking her eyes from his face. Finally his eyes meet hers.

“Sheila,” she repeats. “I’m Sheila.” She points to the folding chair on his side of the desk. Sits in the much more comfortable rolling desk chair on her side. The one with lower lumbar support.

God looks again to the folding chair, not quite sure how to fit his enormous, glowing magnificence into it. But, he’ll try. He reminds himself again, he’s the deity here. “Nice to meet you, Sheila,” he says, smooth as the Red Sea before it parted, “I’m God”. He sits, knowing it’s just a matter of time before he wins over Sheila–

“I know what job you’re here for,” she’s halfway through saying as God snaps to, “But god’s just your job description. It’s not actually your name.”

God starts to answer. Stops. “Well, over time, I’ve gotten used to it. We all have–“

Sheila’s looking at her smart phone. She’s found a source. “Says here your name’s Yahweh.” Sheila focuses on the fine print. “Yeah,” she says confidently, “Yahweh’s your name, not ‘God’.” She points her phone’s screen (with the “receipts” on it) toward God. “God’s” just your job description,” she says. “Is that true?”

God starts to answer. Stops. “Well, I did create everything,” he says, a little less ironically than he’d hoped to. “And that,” he says, leaning forward, “Is why I think you’d be crazy to believe in anything else but me.”

Sheila stares back, hard to read. Finally — “You probably know that members of my family believe in you”.

God leans forward even further, seizing the opening. “Of course I do. They’re great people. That’s why I love them–” He knows immediately: too much.

“Do you think my family believing in you speaks well of you?”

God hesitates. He’s sure of it: that was a trick question. “Perhaps,” he says, hedging, “We could agree that being a deity is hard and sometimes you have to move in mysterious ways?”

“Uh huh,” says Sheila, unimpressed. “Did you tell my Tanta Louise that she got cancer because she fooled around so much when she was younger?”

God starts to answer. Stops. “Erm,” he says (looking as uncomfortable as he feels), “Was I supposed to get some sort of notes about this?”

“You’re God, aren’t you?” says Sheila, making God feel much more like he was on a witness stand instead of a job interviewee’s chair.

“Is that a question?” asks God.

“Then you’re all-knowing, right?”

God knows exactly where this is going. He rolls his eyes. “There’s ‘all-knowing‘ and there’s “ALL-KNOWING“, know what I mean?” He hopes like hell the extra boom in his voice took a little of the wind from Sheila’s sails.

“So you don’t know my Tanta Louise or, at least, you don’t remember her, is that right?”

God studies his hands. They don’t feel very mighty right this second. His cuticles are looking rough. “What was that again your…”

“Tanta. Tanta Louise. She was my favorite aunt. She taught me how to live. But, smart as she is in some ways, she makes no sense in others. Like believing you gave her the cancer that nearly killed her.”

God squirms despite himself (flashes of lightning shoot this way and that). “Can we… talk about… you?”

She stares back, a little incredulous.

God presses on. “Things were different back when your beloved auntie was trying to figure things out. It’s true. People weren’t as broad-minded as they are now.”

“By ‘broad-minded’, you mean they don’t believe in you?”

God looks down. Stepped in it. “Now that door’s open,” he starts to tell himself–

“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” says Sheila. God raises a hand to object. “Don’t,” says Sheila crisply. Down goes God’s hand. “Do you honestly think if no one mentions atheism that no one will think it?”

“It’s a little more complicated than that.” God looks down. Clears his throat — this time holding back on the rumble. “Know what special dispensation is, right?” He knows she does. She’s Catholic. “I’m taking it,” says God. “Different time and place.” He catches Sheila’s eyes. Holds them. “I, uh — I think I might remember this aunt of yours and, yeah — I might have said something along those lines — but there was context!”

Sheila and those damned eyes.

“She needed an explanation.”

Did you give her the cancer?”

“What? No!” Suddenly God’s all knowing: “The office building she worked in was on a super fund site. Honestly, it wasn’t my fault. I’m sorry I said anything–“

“You couldn’t tell her the truth?”

“Nobody knew it then — Google it!” God sits back a little. Feels the first hint of breathing room. “Google it”, he chuckles to himself, “Man, that was genius.”

Again with those damned eyes.

“Are you all knowing or aren’t you?”

God’s been in this minefield. Doesn’t make it any easier. “Depends”.

“When my Tanta Louise asked you why she got cancer, did you tell her it was because of the building she worked in? No. You told her a lie — even though you knew the truth.”

God sits back in his metal folding chair. He tries to. Finally, he fixes Sheila with a stare of his own. “You’re very good, know that?”

“I’ve thought about it, yeah,” says Sheila. “I’m thinking about it now. What should I believe? What seems most true to me?”

“And that is why — if you’re looking for Truth, you can’t not go the monotheism route — sticking a pin in your Tanta Whatever — not literally of course!” Her eyes say “continue”. “Go with me here,” he says, kicking into full salesman mode, “Take it from a deity — all those other deities? They’re not deities. The don’t think they’re better than you, for one thing!”

He turns up his palms. Slowly realizes his faux pas. “What I meant was polytheism’s small because all its gods are small. You don’t want to believe in a small god, do you?”

“Why should I believe in any god?”

“First cause,” says God, throwing down the words like it ended the argument.

“Bull-shit”, says Sheila. “Where’d YOU come from then? Who created you?”

“Nothing did, don’t you get it?” says God. “I’m the first cause. The alpha, the omega, the beginning, the end, the peanut butter and the jelly.”

“I’m allergic to peanuts”

“Figures,” God starts to say, catching himself immediately. “What I meant was I know you’re allergic to peanuts because I know everything.”

“What’s on the other side of a black hole?”

God hesitates. “What’s–“

“On the other side of a black hole. You know what a black hole is, right?”

Pride a little wounded: “Yes, I know what a black hole is, I invented them, right?”

“If you invented them then you know what’s on the other side of one, right?”

“Well…” God stammers, “Some of these inventions of mine — they’re works in progress, know what I mean?”

“They ‘evolve’, you mean?”

“Exactly,” says God, not catching himself in time, “They evolve.”

To God’s surprise, Sheila smiles. “I’ve come to a decision,” she says, standing. God, feeling like he’s being led here, stands as well. “I’m not hiring you,” says Sheila.

Not the first time this has happened (especially not recently). God lets it roll off his shoulders. “You don’t have to decide anything today,” he says — having answered this objection a few kajillion times before.

“I don’t have to decide anything ever,” says Sheila. She sits back. Studies God. Starts to laugh — not at God, not at anything in particular. Finally, the laugh peters out. “Even if, some day, I decide to look you up,” says Sheila, “It wouldn’t be you that I’d be looking up. It’d be someone better. Something better — a better God, know what I mean? But that’s only if I felt like I needed to believe in a God to begin with.”

“Can I tell you how sorry I am that I lied to your auntie?”

“If I was going to invent a god,” Sheila says, indicating the door behind God, “I’d hope like hell I could invent a better god than you.” Sheila extends a hand. “Good luck in the future.”

God looks at her hand. He knows that she knows he isn’t going to take it. And just like that, he knows: he made her point again.

“Thanks for coming in.”

The Republican Party Is What Happens When Bad Ideas And Thinking Metastasize

The reason Republicans have to rely on gerrymandering, voter suppression and terrible legislation to win elections is because nobody except them will vote for their ideas. To be clear, the only problem Republicans see looming in America’s future is diversity and the loss of political power that diversity will cost them. They see a loss of political power as a “cost” rather than as what must happen if America is ever going to live up to its full E Pluribus Unum potential as the greatest experiment ever in human self government. The fact is, conservative America doesn’t want America to live up to that potential. They want “All men are created equal” to mean what it meant to the country’s white, Christian, land-owning founders — just them and only them. That is originalism. A very bad idea (because it’s bullshit). Originalism isn’t the idea itself, originalism is the bad idea’s manifestation out here in reality. The idea is a toxic cocktail of racism, bigotry, misogyny, magical thinking and outright bullying. Want to know what happens to someone who swallows this idea?

Look around. You can practically smell the cancer.

This awful idea — that America is some white peoples’ homeland (aside from the Native American population white peoples’ pathogens obliterated) — flies in the face of reality. Europe is white, Christian America’s homeland. And, while the organizing principles that knitted themselves into our Constitution flowed from the French Enlightenment, some of those principles also flowed from pure, unadulterated greed. The entire southern economy was built on stolen labor — slavery. That is what slavery is ultimately, stolen labor. A slaver wants a slave to work for zero pay. Sure, the slaver will have to feed, clothe and house the slave, but (the fact that slavery thrived in America proves the point), those costs must have been negligible compared to the profit one could make off the actual slaves themselves.

To this day, people will argue — thinking it’s a good argument — that, without slavery, the south could never have had an economy and thus neither could Early America. First, that means America can only happen with slavery in the picture. Bullshit. Most of Europe got rid of slavery and built their economies just fine without it. They may have enslaved the lower classes indirectly and in a thousand other ways, but, at least they quit buying and selling humans in public. Republicans don’t want Americans learning Critical Race Theory because, being conservatives, they want America to live in the past but they don’t want America to examine the past (because then they wouldn’t want to live in it). If conservatives really believed that getting all Americans to live in the past was a good thing, they’d package it that way.

Conservatives are very good at packaging things. Being cynical, they understand how to direct message. The world is black and (especially) white to them. Whatever they feel matters more than any fact ever could. Therefore, the Truth is whatever they say It is. If, they say “Mission Accomplished” then whatever the mission is, as far as the Republicans are concerned, that mission is as “accomplished” as it’s ever going to be. Of course, the mission wasn’t accomplished. We should never have invaded Iraq — another awful idea. We should never have changed our objectives on the fly in Afghanistan.

Bad ideas flow from Republicans like pus from a wound. Trickle down economics? Bad idea. Tax cuts for the wealthy? Bad idea. Refusal to admit climate change is real and it’s being sped up by human activity? Bad idea. Making church and state the same thing? Bad idea. Poll taxes? Bad idea. Separate But Equal? Bad idea. Slavery itself? Horrible idea! Segregation? Bad idea. Refusing women the vote? Bad idea. Citizens Unlimited? Bad idea. Making Donald Trump their 2016 nominee despite knowing Russia owned him (as GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy himself put it: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”) Bad idea. Obstructing justice on Trump’s behalf? Bad idea. Taking part in the January 6 insurrection? Bad idea.

I could go on… and on… and on.

As the Reagan years waned, the Right Wing Money saw diversity’s handwriting on the wall of America’s future. That terrified them because it meant that after 200 years of bamboozling the rest of America into believing that “All men are created equal” referred only to them, the rest of America was done with being bamboozled. America has always been a great idea poorly executed because white people selfishly held America back. Fortunately, that bad idea has run its course.

The only real idea conservatives and Republicans have in their heads is permanent minority rule. That would be originalism’s natural, organic conclusion: the “originals” get to run America forever just because they say so. Talk about a crap idea! That is what has been metastasizing all along in real time. Unable to get the Constitution itself to go along with their bullying, Republicans in Texas devised a way for ordinary citizens to do the hard work of keeping women in their place. Republicans in the rest of America have already seized on this cancerous idea and begun to metastasize it even further. They want to make this cancer even more cancerous still.

What makes this idea even worse — from the conservative perspective — is that the short term gains (putting women in their place) will be superseded by electoral oblivion when those same women show up en masse to vote out every Republican they can. It is a very bad idea to take away anyone’s rights; they’re not going to take it well — or take it PERIOD. The Republicans probably expect to slowly squeeze the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness out of America but they’re going to be shocked by what America does.

In all the places where authoritarianism and fascism succeeded, it did so in homogenous environments like Germany where everyone (fascists and non fascists) were German. Their families were German (or proto-German) for a millennium at least. Their whole culture was homogenous. Same goes for any place where authoritarian power ruthlessly asserted itself: it’s always done so in a relatively homogenous culture. That’s not the case in America. For the first time ever in human history, a nation has been slowly building itself using other nations to supply the people. That’s the whole point of America and the American dream: anyone from anywhere can come here and — provided they’re willing to put in the sweat equity — reinvent themselves and their futures. In America, the past is NOT prologue.

The world has flocked to America — bringing its great ideas with it. America is what happens when great ideas flourish. But, our present is what happens when a bad idea — permanent minority rule — tries to bully a good one: diversity. The best way to deal with a cancer is to either radiate it out of existence or excise it outright as soon as possible. That is exactly what America must do.

Because it’s a really good idea.

If Democrats Acted Like Republicans, Here’s What They’d Be Doing Right Now

Moments after SCOTUS Judge Anthony Kennedy retired, Donald Trump seemed to drop a bomb on him: I doubt Trump told Judge Kennedy his parking wouldn’t be validated.

Sometimes, I honestly wish Democrats approached politics with the same heartless killer instinct Republicans do. The reason America is facing this existential crisis is precisely because Republicans behave so differently from Democrats. Democrats frustrate everyone — ourselves included — because we focus on process over emotion. Reacting to one’s emotions is far easier of course because all one has to do is react. Governing can’t work that way. It just can’t. Administering justice in a fair, equal way — completely sans politics — takes a lot longer to administer than the criminal acts being prosecuted took to commit. And, as in our faces as Trump and the GOP’s criminal behavior is, the prosecution of same can’t be in anyone’s face because it has to play by strict rules. And, often, strategically, one wouldn’t want to give away one’s battle plan especially when dealing with criminals.

Stone cold fact: The Republicans are now operating — with two exceptions (Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger) — as a criminal enterprise in the midst of a treasonous, soft coup d’etat. What began as a culture war bent on attaining permanent minority rule became treasonous when the GOP (grudgingly at first) hitched their power-grab to Donald Trump while KNOWING that he was owned outright by Russia. The hold Trump has always had over the GOP’s leadership is less the GOP’s fear of its ravenous base than their own, personal knowledge that Trump was a traitor — and their willingness to overlook his treachery in order to seize and hold onto power. When certain Republicans say they don’t like Trump but like his policies, what they mean is “treason’s okie-dokie with ’em cause it’s making em rich!”

Democrats can never be Republicans because we simply do not think the same way. Democrats often seem like a disorganized rabble because, to a large degree, that’s what we are. We are what E Pluribus Unum looks like. It’s messy with many, many individuals marching to their own drums. That’s why we seem to be exactly as Will Rogers described us a hundred years ago when he said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. Republicans, OTOH, come from a more homogenous place — whiteness and the need to maintain whiteness as the ruling culture (everyone else and their cultures be damned!) That’s why Republicans are good at marching together, in lock-step. Their purpose is very common.

Despite our “American Dream” ideals, the playing field in America has never been level. Rich white guys like Donald Trump and George W. Bush really do think they put themselves on third base. They dread the thought of competing with the “Pluribus” because the Pluribus is what makes America exceptional. But the Pluribus — America’s diversity — will be our democracy’s saving grace. In places like Germany, fascism was facilitated by homogeneity. Even “good Germans” who remained anti-fascist, did so on the quiet; that wasn’t so much cowardice (though it was) as Germans succumbing to an organic compulsion to “follow orders” because order is culturally important. America doesn’t have that tradition as a larger cultural marker. That’s a product of diversity, of course. Though white culture has dominated America historically, that’s not because white culture is superior (despite what it thinks); white culture was clever enough to articulate the idea that “All men are created equal” but not clever enough to actually get it right in practice.

That’s not failure of the idea that “All men are created equal”, it’s the failure of the idea’s terribly flawed execution.

Because Democrats don’t think in power-grabbing terms, we don’t think about what you’d have to do to power-grab. But, because Republicans had a clear mission in mind — permanent minority rule — they deliberately went after power at the most local level first (like running for school boards) then built upward from there. Control of local politics gave Republicans the ability to gerrymander voting districts so as to more or less foreclose on political victory before any election. Texas Republicans got away with writing and passing absurd, outlandish, offensively anti-democratic legislation because they could. Whether or not it stands up at the SCOTUS — ah, there’s another benefit to working at ground level.

No Democrat would ever (or could ever) conceive of seizing the judiciary or denying a sitting POTUS a SCOTUS seat he was entitled to BECAUSE HE’S PRESIDENT. But Republicans would — as they did. C’mon, WHY did Mitch McConnell (walking point for the Right Wing money’s deliberate assault on the judiciary) deny Obama all those lifetime judgeships and Merrick Garland so much as a hearing? Why did it suddenly become not just “okay” to nominate and confirm a SCOTUS judge with a presidential election on the horizon but imperative? That’s a loaded question of course. Mitch has always operated with the assumption that, no matter what, he will skate through this because of who he is and what he is. Money + power, Mitch believes, will absolutely = permanent minority rule.

Even as it was happening in real time, serious journalists were asking pointed questions about the strange timing of Kennedy’s retirement from the SCOTUS, his son’s job at Deutsche Bank (where he dealt directly with Trump’s account — the one suspected of money laundering), Brett Kavanaugh’s debts being paid off, the bogus background the FBI did on Kavanaugh and his obvious perjury during the confirmation hearings). Because they controlled everything including the Department of Justice, the Republicans were able to contain any and all threats that real investigations would pose. And though we wish Merrick Garland would message more aggressively (hell, we’d be thrilled if he’d message PERIOD!), there are plenty of indications that the DOJ is investigating various things that do matter to plenty of Americans. It’s just soooooooooo slowly that it looks utterly inert.

Republicans regularly accuse Democrats of being traitors but they never do anything about it because they have zero receipts to back it up. Democrats, by contrast, are reluctant to call Republicans traitors — even with a shitload of hard evidence in front of them. Democrats have been seduced into thinking they must be “bi-partisan” even if most Republicans spit at the word”.

The time for seeing the world this way, for even thinking of it this way, is done. You can’t be bi-partisan with traitors and you can’t compromise with evil. The traitors and evil will never compromise. Instead, because you compromised, treason and/or evil gained a significant toehold inside you.

If Democrats acted like Republicans, the following things would already be happening:

1 Brett Kavanaugh would be impeached already for having perjured himself during his confirmation hearing. The same goes for EVERY SINGE JUDGE TRUMP NOMINATED. The Democrats would have already found and prosecuted every last instance of a Trump judicial nominee perjuring himself.

2 Every Republican Who Even “Might Have” Helped Plan The January 6 Insurrection Would Already Be Behind Bars which means insurrectionists like Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene would no longer be members of Congress. Democrats would be pushing hard to identify everyone inside Congress and inside the White House who helped PLAN the insurrection in any way. Republicans would be very clear that January 6 could never have happened without the conspiracy to plan the insurrection that took place January, 3, 4 and 5 (and even earlier).

3 Matt Gaetz Would Be Doing Hard Time Already

4 Bill Barr, Mike Pompeo, Wilbur Ross, Elaine Chao, Rod Rosenstein And Every Other Person Trump Hired Would Be Up To Their Necks In Criminal Investigations

5 Every Republican In Congress Would Have Already Been Placed Under Oath And Benghazi’d Mercilessly

6 Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Kevin McCarthy (among many others in the GOP’s leadership) would be doing hard time.

And, most importantly, 7) Donald Trump’s entire family would already have been prosecuted out the wazoo — and doing hard time for life — with a shitload of additional prosecutions yet to begin. The Trumps would already have lost every building they owned to seizure. Every financial crime would be exposed. Every ill-gotten gain would be lined up as evidence to be used at trial.

After a certain point, one must stop giving people undeserving of the benefit of the doubt any benefit of any doubt. One must start looking at them and the world with eyes wide open. It would be criminal to let those bent on destroying the rule of law use the rule of law to destroy it. Literally criminal. And it would be stupidly wrong-headed for Democrats to assume Republicans are anything other than criminals.

We don’t have to (and aren’t going to) behave like criminals. Both sides don’t do that. Both sides aren’t the same. And the America we want for ourselves and our children is the diametric opposite of the world Republicans want. We may need to “color outside the lines” to solve this problem; we may have to stretch the rule of law up to its breaking point but we must.

The Republicans aren’t playing a game here. They’re playing for keeps. If only our news media could see the difference.

At The End Of The Day, This Is A Story About Treason

The Republican Party is no longer behaving like a political party; they’re behaving like criminals with a political purpose: permanent minority rule. Make no mistake, the white people behind this are an extreme minority of white people but they are attempting to cage a diverse and woke majority. This will fail — and fail horribly for the perps — because they’ve crossed so many lines to get us here to this moment of crisis. What Texas Republicans just did to Roe v Wade — and every woman in America — crossed a thousand lines all in one fell swoop. Whatever else happens in 2022, Democratic engagement will not disengage or let up; you can’t TAKE AWAY rights (especially when you do it so dishonestly) and get away with it. You just can’t; America’s women simply won’t let the GOP do it to them. And, we have to remember: the entire abortion argument itself is a cynical repurposing of racism (just like the Republican Party’s perverse engagement with Russia — going back to before Trump was even nominated — was a cynical decision to collaborate with our literal enemy — during war time — in order to seize power). None of that is hyperbole. It all actually happened — is happening still.

The Republican Party stands outside the law now — defiantly — because they know the truth will NOT set them free. The Truth — once the American People learn it — will send almost the entire Republican Party to federal prison. That’s not hyperbole either — at least it shouldn’t be. Any country that allows insurrectionists, seditionists or traitors to get away with it won’t be a country for very much longer. If we don’t punish people bent on destroying our democracy, we are telling those people “better luck next time”; and we’ve guaranteed there will be a next time. One could argue that one of the reasons a Donald Trump could happen is because we never punished Richard Nixon. Sure, we punished many of those around him, but we never punished “Nixonism” — that particularly vile Republican belief that “if the president does it, it’s not illegal”.

That was the takeaway for Nixonians Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater. Because Nixon “got away with it” (having to quit was not a punishment, it was a requirement), it invited the low level perps to begin plotting anew.

Conservatism in America is tied to whiteness because that’s what white conservatives want to conserve — America’s “whiteness”. America, as I’ve written before, remains a great idea poorly executed. Either “All men are created equal” actually means “everybody is created equal under the law” or we’re doing it wrong. The reason conservatives love originalism is because originalism wants us to believe that we should understand “All men are created equal” only the way the “founding fathers” understood it. Pretty convenient, huh?

The Southern states built their entire economy on the back of slave labor. Slave labor, above all, is STOLEN labor. While plantation owners had to bear the cost of housing, feeding and clothing their slaves (the cost of doing slave business), obviously that cost pennies compared to paying agricultural labor a fair wage. That, really, is the south’s argument. They couldn’t have existed economically without stolen labor. Slavery fed into the bullshit notion that “All men are created equal” meant only white men. It was a kind of bookkeeping trick to call slaves three-fifths of a man; it also deliberately undermined their humanity. It’s much easier to buy and sell human beings when you don’t see them as human.

At some point, as the Reagan years waned, the right wing money saw the demographic handwriting on the wall. America was diversifying more rapidly than white people were making white babies. While white people were reliable Republican voters, the same couldn’t be said of most non-whites. Democracy, ultimately, is a numbers game. The majority gets its way — except when they don’t. That’s what Republicans figured out as a survival instinct. The current GOP — though they share a name with The Party Of Lincoln, aren’t that party. I refer you to Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party” to set you straight on that. Nixon cemented the swap when he incorporated the Dixiecrats into the Republican Party as his “southern strategy”. The Dixiecrats were all racist southern Democrats — leftovers from a Democratic Party that opposed Lincoln. In point of fact, in terms of their stated ideals, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have completely swapped names and places since Lincoln was POTUS.

When Teddy Roosevelt left the Republican Party, all vestiges of progressivism went with him. The GOP quickly became the party of big business instead of big ideas. The extreme corruption of a Warren Harding erupted like Teapot Dome oil, spattering everything with its rot. That preference for profits over people persists because profits equal power.

Newt Gingrich understood that the majority of Americans were evolving into a more cohesive, diverse nation. He couldn’t tolerate that because of the political and power implications and so declared a culture war aimed at “the left”. If you consider that when more Americans vote they vote against Republicans? Newt really directed his culture war at the majority of Americans (per McKay Coppins in the Atlantic in November 2018) : “For their party to succeed, Gingrich went on, the next generation of Republicans would have to learn to “raise hell,” to stop being so “nice,” to realize that politics was, above all, a cutthroat “war for power”—and to start acting like it.”

“A cutthroat war for power”. Sound horrifyingly familiar? Yeah — the phone call IS coming from inside the house!

We have to ask: what were Republicans willing to do to wage that cutthroat war for power? Were they willing to cheat? Were they willing to lie to the American electorate? Were they willing to commit treason even?

Obviously the answer to all three questions is yes. That’s why we’re here. It started “innocently enough” with mere voter suppression — poll taxes and intimidation to keep Black voters from voting. While both sides have gerrymandered, only the Republicans have needed to as a matter of survival. Gerrymandering’s whole point is to draw district lines in such a way so as to circumvent the will of the majority by giving a minority undue power. In Wisconsin, for example, gerrymandered districts mean “Democrats need to out-perform the GOP by closer to 9 or 10 points statewide to have a good shot at winning an Assembly majority” — even though they are the majority of voters in Wisconsin! When is a majority not a majority? When a minority gets to control them.

As for lying to the American electorate — what else can we call a political party attempting to re-cast an insurrection as a heroic act of patriotism? Sorry, Republicans, but you can sharpie “patriotism” all over what happened on January 6. What happened that day was a massive crime that we’ve only just begun to prosecute (starting at the bottom where every good Rico prosecution should begin).

Allying with Russia — now, that was an innovation. That was the Republican Party thinking “outside the box”. I’m willing to accept that plenty of professional Republicans — Lindsey Graham, for example — were every bit as “anti-Trump” as guys like Lindsey Graham said they were —

And yet, like Lindsey, these anti-Trumpers became the most pro-Trump. In a corrupt environment when you know (from experience) that the Republican-owned electronic voting machine makers can be relied upon for help (in the form of ballot padding), it doesn’t pass the smell test that long-time pros like Lindsey really worry about voters. Lindsey didn’t suddenly become pro-Trump because he suddenly saw the light. If Lindsey saw anything, it was more likely the Kompromat Russia was holding. I do not know for certain if Lindsey has any sexual peccadilloes that a hostile, kompromat-loving foreign power could exploit, but I would bet cash money that Lindsey does and Russia has.

We know — because the Washington Post reported it — that current GOP leader Kevin McCarthy himself KNEW (okay, to be fair, he “suspected”) that Russia had compromised Donald Trump. As he entered a meeting of GOP leadership in June 2016 (a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be POTUS), Kevin said out loud (it was recorded and the Post reporter heard the recording) “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Strangely, no one in the room reacted with horror. No one said “Whaaaat? Kevin, dude, are you sure about that?” No one called the FBI to voice their concerns.

Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan counseled his fellow Republicans to keep this terrible secret a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family”, is how he put it. I guess by “family, Ryan meant “mafia family”.

While this was happening, Russia was flooding the GOP with money. They used the NRA (and their very talented agent Maria Buttina). They poured money into Republican PACS using various means (including Russian retirees living in America whose monthly benefits from Russia suddenly increased significantly). That money went to Republican candidates. And, as we also know, Russia also was working very hard behind the scenes to undermine America’s faith not just in our democracy but in the truth itself.Let’s add one more element to this mix: the news media’s inability to see, understand or report the true nature of Donald Trump’s takeover of the GOP. That happened (is still happening) because the news media — for reasons we’ll have to investigate — refuses to aggregate the Trump story. They refuse to even speak the truth about him which is weird because so much of the truth about Trump is already in the public domain. Remember Fusion GPS — the company that got hired by the Washington Free Beacon’s owners during the 2016 Republican primaries (they were Marco Rubio supporters) — to do oppo research on Trump? When he testified before Congress about how and why Fusion hired Chris Steele to look into Trump’s Russia connections, Fusion’s co-founder Glenn Simpson explained how they began the assignment by doing their due diligence.

Fusion, Simpson testified, got ahold of every piece of publicly available material they could on Trump — newspaper and magazine articles, radio and TV appearances, books and legal documents. What they saw there — in information ANYONE could put together — convinced them that Trump had been laundering Russian mob money in his now bankrupt Atlantic City casinos. THAT was why they hired Steele — he had the best Russian contacts of anyone outside Russia, having run the MI6’s respected Russia desk. Steele’s dossier was raw intel and needed to be understood as such — something far beyond our news media’s capabilities. Still, even that raw intel painted a vivid picture of Russian intelligence planting their hooks deeply into Donald J. Trump.

It’s no wonder the Republicans have obstructed justice every way they could to shield Trump’s relationship with Russia from any real examination. The second any sort of real investigation begins — like the counter intelligence investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia that Rod Rosenstein killed — we see patterns of obstructive behavior exclusively from Republicans. It doesn’t take a weatherman to see which way this wind’s blowing. The Republicans may not have started out bent on betraying America, but they did — and they knew, as they were doing it, WHAT they were doing it — and why.

Regardless of what you call it, Russia has been actively engaged with us in cyber war for a long time with a stated intention to undermine liberal democracies — NATO in particular — as a doctrinal goal. This is not make-believe war. People have died. Democratic countries have seen their democracies undermined (which means the war’s objectives are being met). Considering what cyber war costs compared to a bombs n bullets war, Russia is getting way more bang for its buck this way. No wonder they’re waging cyber war (information war, if you like) so vociferously.

Anyone who thinks you need bombs and bullets to win a war any more is going to lose every war they fight going forward into the future. Bombs and bullets aren’t terribly effective anyway against insurgent combatants — as Afghanistan proved. And as to cyber war’s undeclared nature? That’s one of its great advantages — the cyber warrior can wage cyber war against an opponent who doesn’t realize he’s at war. The cyber war’s victim may realize she’s being attacked but — if she doesn’t see the larger war coming at her? That war’s already over and she lost it badly. If Russia were to shut down our electrical grid tomorrow, we’d sue for peace — as the losers.

Treason doesn’t require a state of war. It requires that the traitor attempt to overthrow the government. That is now the Republican Party’s avowed purpose. To overthrow the results of a free and fair election because you don’t like the results (having lost), is an act of treason because elections are the life blood of any democracy. If the people betraying our democracy weren’t white people, we would have criminalized this behavior eons ago.

That’s the final tell. Ours isn’t just a story about treason, it’s about the thing that motivated the treasonous behavior. That, unequivocally, was and is racism.

Never Mind The Icing, How’s The Damned Cake?

Ever order a piece of cake somewhere because the icing looked enticing — and then you got to the cloying, overly-sugared cake underneath and the whole experience went to hell in your mouth? It’s a little like false advertising, isn’t it? And, frankly, where cake is concerned? It’s always about the cake. The icing’s just… icing. News headlines can be that way — especially when they’re “breaking”. The flashing red looks awfully fresh. Too bad the news story cake underneath is more than a day old and staler than a Republican’s breath. Republican politics are all icing too. Every single restrictive voting law Republicans just shoved down our throats was covered in “ballot box integrity” icing that was clearly rotten. Personally, I blame our news media and its icing addiction for a lot of this problem. If we had kept to news outlets like, say, The New Yorker that have always been about cake over icing, we might have had a clearer idea of what the Donald Trump cake really was and is. It may look like a perfect piece of chocolate cake — Donald’s preference — but, beneath the icing? Hell lurks.

In cakes as in news stories, the devil absolutely is in the details. A cake made entirely of bullshit is going to taste entirely of bullshit. Same goes for cakes made of racism, lies, corruption, deceit and treason.

When Trump came down that golden escalator — like his gold toilet upstairs, a Trumpian triumph of icing over cake — and informed us that “Mexicans are rapists”, he told us exactly what kind of cake he was. When, shortly thereafter, he added “pussy grabbing” to the mix, he further cemented his cake’s true nature. And yet, our news media got distracted by another bit of icing: “her emails!” As we all know — there was literally NO CAKE beneath that icing.

While our news media went bananas over Hillary Clinton’s icing — ignoring the cake again (especially the parts where she repeatedly told us exactly who and what Donald Trump was) — the Trump cake, already rotten from within, began to metastasize into something beyond cake. Despite constant signs that the Trump cake was corrupt… treasonous… toxic — our news media continued to report on the icing that Trump was a “normal POTOUS” albeit one who did things “differently” or “his way”.

Ever since Trump lost, our news media has continued to eat the Republican icing that what they’re doing is politics. It isn’t. When you attempt to overturn the results of an election because you lost, that’s not political behavior, it’s CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR — done for a political reason. Icing v cake, right? But, every time our news media serves up a slice of Margorie Taylor Greene as if she was a legitimate politician instead of a criminal seditionist, they’re selling us amusing, bullshit-scented icing instead of the toxic cake within that’s going to kill us.

Our news media’s reaction to the fall of Afghanistan was pure icing over cake. No argument — that was some awful icing. But it was very much a part of the cake underneath and, in the case of Afghanistan, if you want to “appreciate” the icing, you absolutely must appreciate every last speck of the cake. Joe Biden may have pulled the cake from the oven — with its icing already on fire — but he didn’t bake this cake. In fact, Joe Biden (look it up!) preached against us even making this cake (the nation-building part). And, once you scrape off the icing, the first thing you see is how “orange” the cake is. Oh, wait — that’s not orange, it’s facial makeup. There’s a face inside that cake and it’s Donald J Trump’s.

With news — as with life — it would behoove us all to make false advertising, non-breaking “breaking news” and deceptively iced cakes go away. We’d all benefit, too, if Republicans went away. Until such a thing happens, I’d be willing to accept if they’d just ice themselves a little more honestly. Want to know what’s really lying inside any Republican’s soul? This — exactly what the icing says:

America’s Gun Laws Have Always Been Racist — By Design

America and Americans love guns like no other place on earth. That’s not a coincidence. On the surface, we argue that gun rights are personal freedoms but that’s not really what gun rights are about. The Constitution’s framers framed gun rights not as an absolute (“Hey, have all the guns ya want, ya crazy Americans!– it’s your damned right!”), but as a function of a well-regulated militia. The well-regulated militia (and that militia can be as well regulated as it likes — the option for an unregulated militia is NOT enumerated here!) has THE say about who shall “keep and bear” the arms in question. Note — the word “own” does not appear in the amendment. For the record, “own” was a perfectly good word back then; the framers chose “keep” and “bear” and avoided “own”. That suggests that the “well-regulated militia” actually owns the arms it allows citizens to “keep” and “bear”. That also suggests that, should the well regulated militia decide that someone should turn in the arms the militia up till then allowed them to keep and bear? They better turn in those arms.

Guns, by design, are death machines. The whole purpose of a gun is to send a ball of hot metal flying through air fast enough to kill a live target. Every part of a gun’s construction is meant to facilitate that happening. Same goes for ammo. No one ever designed a bullet that wasn’t meant to penetrate flesh. Some, as we know, have been designed to do more than that; they’re meant to reap as much tissue destruction as possible as they shred through a shooting victim’s body. Even ordinary guns with ordinary ordnance kill easily.

So, the first thing we have to ask ourselves as reasonable people is: why does any particular person need to have a death machine in their house or in their hand? Why do Americans feel so much more under personal threat than just about any other humans on the planet? Or is that, really the point? Is it actually that certain Americans feel like they’re under personal threat and therefore need a weapon as backup? The data says those “certain Americans” — the ones feeling scared — are white. The people they feel threatened by, aren’t.

Let’s be real: if the Americans obsessed with arming themselves to the teeth thought for two seconds that Black and brown people were doing the same thing? They’d rewrite the gun laws just like that.

WHO owns (most of) the guns is really the point and so long as it’s white people, our gun laws will stay as they are. While we’re on the subject: there’s no such thing as “Responsible gun ownership”. That is a myth invented by gun manufacturers to explain away the fact that NO ONE can “responsibly” own a death machine. “Responsible” gun owners may lock their guns away in gun safes — and it’s great that they do — but that’s not what their guns were designed to do. It’s like bragging about a car that gets great gas mileage — because you never use it and it sits in your garage. Well, of course it does!

What happens to a gun when its owner has it in hand — THAT is the measure of “responsible gun ownership”. And it can’t be summed up even by years of previous success — because every bit of that success can be undone by one act of carelessness. Nancy Lanza thought she was a responsible gun owner; by all accounts, she was. But, before her son Adam Lanza went and shot up the Sandy Hook Elementary School, first, he murdered his mom — using her gun. So much for being “responsible”. It’s just a stone cold fact about guns: each and every one is an accident or a tragedy that just hasn’t happened yet.

And our gun laws are even bigger accidents and tragedies just waiting to be set in motion. There’s a reason no other country has our attitude toward guns. But then, no one has our attitude toward race relations either.

That could be a good thing.