I have been up and I have been down. I have run major TV shows & made feature films and thought for sure I would never work again. I have stared into the abyss and walked away better for it.
If there's one thing I have learned from the experience, it's this: Bullshit is killing us all.
What does the Republican Party and a dead end have in common? Pretty much everything. The “modern” Republican Party (there’s an oxymoron if ever one existed) just isn’t that “into” democracy probably because democracy’s just not that into them. In the marketplace of ideas, Republicans are selling the past as what should be our future. By that they mean the future should look exactly like our past — predominantly white. That IS the whole point of conservatism after all — CONSERVING things. Politically, conservatives want to conserve the status quo or, preferably, the status quo as it was. The problem is, we really can’t live in the past. We all know people who try — those sad dudes who could never let go of high school. Sucks to peak early, I guess. That’s Republicans’ big problem: they peaked already. There’s no more “there” there where they’re concerned. The whole reason Republicans are resorting to voter suppression in the extreme is because they know they can’t appeal to those voters with their terrible, regressive ideas.
The GOP is gambling that their angry, violent minority can overpower the rest of us and cow us into compliance. Historians and talking heads point to all the places where this behavior has lead directly to authoritarian rule. That’s not encouraging but few of those places had America’s history of and with democracy. I don’t think it’s a given that people in this country roll over the way people in other countries have. It might take us a while to spark to revolt but the white minority doing this is such a minority — and, it’s America, EVERYONE has guns. Whatever that country turns into, it’s not going to be “America”. It’s not going to be the counter balance to Russia and China. It’s not going to be any kind of economic powerhouse because it will break down quickly.
What we’re witnessing is the Republican Party (the “Party of Lincoln”) attempting to re-start the Civil War so as to bring back slavery. The Republicans may not call what they have in mind “slavery” but, in time, it won’t differ (where the stolen labor is concerned) from what Black people had to endure in this country. If the Republicans could have their way, there’d BE no “minimum wage”. There’d be child labor and no such thing as “striking”. If Republicans could get everyone else to work for free (at its core, slavery is stolen labor), they’d think “Mission Accomplished”! — especially if all the extra profits ended up in their pockets.
The problem is, we all know this now. The news media still has it in its head that — because next year’s Biden’s first off-year election, norms say the Democrats will lose the House and Senate. That assumes we live in normal times. We don’t, of course. Not only is the electorate woke, we’re hyper woke. We’re keenly aware of what the Republican Party is doing; it’s the press that’s running miles behind.
The sum total of Republican ideas: how can they get richer than they are and hold onto power. Literally nothing else matters. Except maybe not going to prison for being traitors. The fact that Donald Trump was and is a traitor will be a fact of life — sooner than everyone thinks. The DoJ’s prosecution of the January 6 insurrectionists will, at some point, stumble over one very basic fact: Russia had a hand in it. Don’t think so? Don’t think Russia knew EVERYTHING that Team Trump and everyone around them was thinking? Once we break through to even the small acts of treason, the larger acts will become plain as day.
Want to talk about a dead end? Try treason. It’s a dead end for a country — as we nearly learned. But, now that the traitors have failed, their failure needs to be a dead end for every other perpetrator, too. They should have read the signs (posted and otherwise) and stopped. They knew what they were doing when they pressed on. They expected to win. How unfortunate for them.
Letting Donald Trump take over their party will be not just a dead end for the Republican Party but a cliff behind it.
According to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Charles Koch (pronounced “coke”) is the 15th richest person in the world with a fortune estimated at 63.1 billion dollars. Koch Industries, the privately held company he and his brother David ran (David died in 2019 — which, I bet, shocked him; David thought he was rich enough to outrun death) and which Charles still oversees did an estimated $115 billion in business in 2020. As we know, rich as he is, rich as his company is, for a Koch, there’s never enough where money is concerned. The Kochs were never just in it for the money. They’re in it for the power too. The Kochs — believing that they’re rich because God wants them to be rich — intend to save America “from itself”. That is, they intend to stop America from becoming the great country it could become in favor of the slowly dying white elephant Republicans want us to be.
The Kochs have never made a secret of their intention to alter American politics to their liking. That means fewer Americans will get to vote since most Americans don’t really want what the Koch brothers want. The Kochs (and the Mercers and the rest of the RW Money Monkeys) saw something post Reagan. While Newt Gingrich declared a loud, angry culture war on the left, the Kochs quietly went about literally altering America’s political landscape. They recognized that the GOP faced real demographic peril. A rapidly diversifying America would soon undermine white peoples’ hold on political power. Unwilling to share that power, the Kochs and the rest of the RW’s money decided to put their money on thievery. They might not be able to win elections on the strength of their ideas but they could definitely win on the persistence of their cheating.
The Republicans put money into voter suppression efforts to support their work gerrymandering districts so that they could pick their voters (rather than the other way around). The Republicans knew the White House was lost for good (except for cycles where they could manipulate the Electoral College). The House of Representatives, with its elections every two years was way too hard to control. The GOP could live with that. The Senate was always more important to Republicans because of the Senate’s strange, arcane rules including the filibuster. Even if they didn’t control the Senate majority, the filibuster gave outsize power to a minority so long as they could keep their filibuster going. So long as there weren’t 60 Democrats in the Senate, the Republicans felt they had nothing to fear from the Democrats.
The biggest fish to the Koch Brothers thinking was the judicial branch, especially the Supreme Court. Control the SCOTUS and the rest of the lifetime appointed federal judiciary and a minority party like the republicans could throw their weight around like they owned the place. The Kochs tasked Mitch McConnell — who’s received a lot of Koch money over the years — with seizing the judiciary. To that end, Moscow Mitch denied Obama more than a hundred judges including a SCOTUS seat. Funny irony? As we (now) know, Attorney General Merrick Garland has begun to investigate and prosecute Republicans for their involvement in the January 6 insurrection. Republicans are going to regret that Garland is AG, ready and willing to prosecute the snot out of them. He’d have been far less dangerous to them if only the Republicans had given him a hearing and even voted on whether or not Garland should be AG.
The one question that remains is WHEN did the Kochs suspect that Russia was working toward the same goal — the end of American democracy? At some point, the Kochs had to know that they and Vladimir Putin were working together. At some point, the Kochs KNEW what they were doing was flat out treasonous.
Joe Manchin doesn’t have a soul or anything like that. He does have a bank account however. And plenty of corruption to spread around. The GOP is riddled with Koch whores just like Joe Manchin. It’s long past time we expose every last one of them.
On May 29, American Airlines joined Southwest Airlines in suspending alcohol sales on their aircraft. Southwest did it because its passengers were becoming increasingly abusive over mask issues and when those abusive passengers started drinking… . We live in alcohol culture’s thrall the same way we used to live in Big Tobacco’s thrall. It wasn’t that long ago that people smoked on airplanes. There were “smoking sections” and “non-smoking sections” (as if the smoke could read the damned signs). In retrospect, it sounds even stupider. The non-smokers were lucky to get that — a row or two where the smoke wasn’t directly in their faces and eyes and all over their clothes. I’ve never gotten tobacco’s appeal. It eludes me completely but I appreciate how addictive nicotine is. Addiction will cause the addict to use any justification they can think of no matter how silly. The sky was blue that day so I “had to”. Looking back at old movies, I’m always amazed by who smoked and where and when. Everyone did — and everywhere. Smoking was ubiquitous. Kinda like how drinking is now.
Until I started taking a mood stabilizer to deal with a massive depression, I drank every single day of my life. I didn’t consider myself an alcoholic. But, I drank every day of my life. Kinda like an alcoholic. See how I lied to myself? That’s what alcohol does. It encourages you to lie to yourself. Alcohol does not improve anyone’s decision-making just as it doesn’t improve their motor skills. My mood stabilizer gave all alcohol an unpleasant. grapefruit skin-like aftertaste that simply made it unpalatable. Just like that, I stopped drinking. Fortunately, I had cannabis to fall back on — and we all need something to fall back on.
When you no longer drink, you get cut off from a big piece of American culture. A lot of our socializing is built around drinking alcohol together. That’s been the case for a long, long time. I have experienced more exquisite, alcohol-fueled conversations than I can count that rambled from cocktails to red wine to grappa or desert wine or scotch over the course of many, many hours. I wouldn’t trade them in for anything.
Or, would I…?
It used to be habit when I traveled long haul (from LA to the East Coast or out of the country) to anticipate certain alcohol moments: the bloody Mary at the departure lounge bar, the bloody Mary on the airplane followed by the little bottle of crap red wine on the plane followed by whatever liqueur miniatures they might have. The goal was to pass out and sleep as much as one could so as to awaken “fresh” on the other side. I don’t think in my entire life that ever happened — where I drank and drank — then slept — then awoke more focused than a Tiger Mom. That includes the many trips I got to make flying First Class for business. Getting liquored up is even more fun when flying up front where the alcohol is served in actual glass.
The reason I never arrived anywhere in the best shape I could be in was because I drank before and during those flights. I arrived everywhere dehydrated. Dehydrated brains don’t think nearly as well as hydrated brains. In fact, dehydrated bodies don’t do anything better than hydrated bodies. Both flying and alcohol dehydrate you. To do them together is — every which way you look at it — counter-intuitive. It’s not even that the alcohol one drinks on an airplane is great, craft alcohol. So many things are interfering with your ability to accurately taste or smell anything — there just wouldn’t be any point to it. I say that as someone who loved alcohol — and the craft that went into making it.
Using cannabis, for the record, does not dehydrate you like alcohol does. THC works very differently in our brains and on our brain chemistry than alcohol does. In fact, alcohol’s impact and THC’s impact bear no resemblance to each other whatsoever. THC does not diminish one’s motor skills. It just doesn’t. Does it impact your motor skills? Absolutely! It improves them. Now, I can only speak for myself (though other cannabis users will tell you the exact same thing): when I use sativa strains like Durban Poison (instead of, say, indicas like Northern Lights), my motor skills improve appreciably. I use Durban Poison when I play tennis.
Within about a minute or two of smoking a little Durban Poison on the tennis court, I feel my mind slowing down — not in a foggy way but, rather, in a calm way. If I allow myself the opportunity, I can see the spin on the tennis ball coming at me. I can see its fuzz even. My timing improves. My ability to see the ball coming off my opponent’s racket improves as does my ability to track the ball to the exact place where I need to be — attacking that ball — if I want to win the point we’re playing. With Durban Poison in my brain, I become very coachable. I see the mistakes I’m making and grasp the adjustments needed. Now, I’m not a pro athlete. And I’m in my 60”s so I don’t have the energy I had when I was 25 and I do tire a little more quickly. Aside from that? I’m playing far better now than I have in my life.
Part of that is because I’m no longer depressed — thanks to the mood stabilizer. It’s also thanks to the cannabis.
Being depressed and drinking alcohol is a terrible, fraught, perilous combination. Alcohol cannot improve your depression. “In vino veritas”? No, in vino whatever’s in your head right this second. The veritas part is highly debatable. I know for a fact — my wife told me all about it afterwards — that on multiple occasions, liquored to my gills — I went on a tirade that killed a social evening. I couldn’t even tell ;you what “veritas” I was spewing at the time. That doesn’t speak well for it.
While my mood stabilizer has successfully dealt with my depression, I’ve used THC to handle the other part of my bi-polarity, my hypomania.
The inside of my head feels like a “black box theater” (a non-traditional theater space that can be converted into virtually anything with audience and performers virtually anywhere within that space). At any one time, a dozen or so things are being projected onto the walls, flor and ceiling. Lasers of various colors blast this way and that. Holographs come and go amid the music and movie sound tracks and running Marx Brothers routines. It’s exquisite chaos. But, trying to work with all that going on can be challenging even to an experienced hypomaniac. Cannabis, again, works wonders. And, again, Durban Poison epitomizes what cannabis can and does do for me. All cannabis has the effect of dropping scrims in front of most of that sound and fury. Sativa, hybrid or indica, cannabis has the effect of bringing a pervasive sense of calm and control. While indicas will slowly develop a feeling of sleepiness, sativas will (more quickly) evoke a feeling of mental focus. In the midst of the calm, I see more, hear more, taste more. And I think more.
Our thoughts occur as electricity moves from synapse to synapse inside our brains. Our synapses operate a lot like digital circuits: they’re either open or closed. THC causes more of our digital circuitry to be “open”. We process more information, more input, more thought. That’s why food tastes so good when you’re “high”. You literally are tasting the food more. That’s my music sounds soooooo good when you’ve got THC in you. That’s why things seem funnier. In a way, you’re seeing how much funnier things really are. It’s also why some people get paranoid on strong pot: they, too, are processing more information. They’re thinking more deeply about it all, too. That crush of information can create feelings of paranoia.
Is cannabis right for everyone? Hell no! But then, neither is alcohol.
No one gets violent on marijuana. That was the most perverse part of “reefer madness” — it portrayed cannabis users in exactly the opposite way that cannabis was causing them to feel or act. It was screamingly uninformed.
If, for example, they stopped serving beer at sporting events and, instead, served cannabis, no one would erupt in violence at the end of a soccer match or football game. Rather, people would be hugging or high-fiving each other, saying “great game, dude!” Some (in the stands) would probably be asleep — not drunk off their asses, just asleep. Easily roused and sent on their way, too.
Out in the streets beyond the sports stadium? No one would burn a storefront or overturn a car. They’d be too mellow — because that’s what cannabis does.
Now, imagine for a second, that we let people (or, better, ENCOURAGED people) to use cannabis. Its understood we can’t have people smoking their dope at the airport. That means we’ll have to get much better at dosing ourselves with edibles. But that ain’t rocket science, is it?
I’ve flown stoned. It’s wonderful. You put in your ear buds, crank up the tunes and nothing bothers you. You’re entirely compliant (going along to get along) and happy as can be when the plane finally lands and you get to move on with your life. It’s a pleasure, actually — and no one knows you’re doing it. Unless someone uses too much of an edible, it’s pretty hard to overdose on pot. You certainly can’t poison yourself as you can with alcohol.
No college students ever die from a hazing incident where they got too stoned and fell asleep.
No one on an airplane (and, trust me, I’m not the only one flying with loads of THC in me) has ever gotten rowdy because they had THC in them.
They got to their destination and got on with their lives. Had they been drinking the whole flight? They would have done the same thing — but, oh, the headache that would have accompanied it.
I’m old enough to remember when calling someone a “traitor” in public discourse was as frowned upon as invoking Nazis when describing “the other side”. I’m also old enough to remember how — during the early years of Trump’s presidency — people rolled their eyes at you when you tried to connect Donald Trump to Russia or, for an even bigger eyeroll, when you insisted that Trump and the Republican Party not only had to pay for their crimes but were going to. Now, at least, more people are fully on board with the idea that Trump really is a criminal who really does deserve to go to prison and (miracle of miracles!) just actually might. But, right this second, the crime(s) Trump could realistically do time for are 1) state crimes and 2) financial crimes having to do with things Trump and his business did BEFORE he became POTUS. That’s good but it’s not nearly good enough. Trump needs to be fully investigated, tried, convicted and punished for every last crime he perpetrated against and upon We The People. Were this just Trump, our problem would have been solved long ago. THAT is the problem. It isn’t just Trump and never was.
The entire Republican Party can now be accused either of treason or conspiracy to commit treason.
It’s simple: “see something, SAY something; see something, say NOTHING?” We have to ask “why?” WHY say nothing — especially in the face of clear, evident treason? Why protect treason when you should be protecting America? The GOP’s leadership knew at least a month before they nominated Trump in 2016 that Putin owned him. They said so OUT LOUD! Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of GOP leaders a month before the nominating convention and said OUT LOUD: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in the room — the whole conversation was recorded and that recording was played for reporters a year later) — either contested McCarthy’s claim or asked how such an outrageous idea got into his head in the first place. In fact, they seem to have understood that it was possible if not likely. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s concern wasn’t that their about-to-be nominee might be owned by a hostile foreign government, it was that their collective knowledge of that fact needed to remain a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family,” Ryan said.
Committing treason is a Rubicon you can never un-cross. The traitor needs to know it and We The People need to know it. Traitors can never, EVER be trusted ever again. Certainly not with access to political power.
Our news media, utterly incapable of either doing their due diligence or of aggregating the very information they’re reporting into an evolving, cohesive hole, scratch their heads every day as they contemplate the continuing Republican devotion to Donald Trump — who lost them the White House, the House AND the Senate. Trump never came close to winning a popular vote and, as we’ll see soon enough, even his one Electoral College win in 2016 is likely a mirage achieved by a democracy-destroying tag team of Russian propaganda and the Republican-owned and controlled electronic voting machines made by ES&S — the paper trail-less, internet accessible, backdoor vulnerable e-voting machines most of the country uses .
The sequence in 2016 went like this: Rudy Giuliani, the FBI’s Trump-loving NYC bureau and then Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz from Utah make “The Comey Letter” happen. The rogue FBI agents in NYC know there’s a laptop computer with emails on it; they know the emails are copies of “but her emails” they’ve already exploited (though they came to nothing). Their boss, James Comey, has asked them a question: are these NEW “but, her emails” or copies of old that the FBI had already seen? The answer was “old” but the rogue agents in the NYC bureau — under Rudy G’s guiding hand — managed to keep that question alive throughout the summer and into the fall. When they finally replied “We don’t know, let’s pop the top!” it was October. Everything about the Comey letter was bullshit. The point of the exercise was to create a huge moment of doubt at the last moment.
The Comey Letter cost Hillary Clinton significant polling points. She went from a safe lead outside the margin of error to an unsafe lead within the margin of error — especially in the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. At the same time, throughout the fall, Russia had been inundating the personal Facebook pages of individual Black Democratic voters with ads insisting that Hillary Clinton was a raging racist on the downlow. How did Russia know to target these very voters? That’s where Paul Manafort comes in.
As we know — he went to prison for it (though he was pardoned) — Manafort handed Konstantin Kilimnik proprietary polling data for four states: Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Consider that Trump won the EC by winning Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by a combined 77,000 votes. It is flatly against the law, what Manafort did. Considering his motives (he owed Kilimnik’s boss Oleg Deripaska seventeen million dollars and was desperate to pay him back or risk physical violence to his family!), it’s impossible not to see Manafort’s actions as treasonous. That dot connects directly to the “Russia pays Trump” dot.
Not only did the Republican Party know that Trump was a Russian asset, they deliberately covered it up every step of the way. Bill Barr could just as easily have told the truth about what he read in the Mueller Report. Except he never read it because he KNEW what it said: Team Trump and the entire Republican party were all traitors. Instead, Barr lied about Mueller’s work product. He completely misrepresented it. We’ve also learned recently that in addition to quashing the counter-intelligence investigation into Trump begun under the Obama admin, then acting AG Rod Rosenstein lied to Team Mueller when he told them not to wander into a counter-intel investigation because the FBI was doing; he told the FBI not to bother with it because Team Mueller was doing it. In the confusion (and because everyone trusted Rod Rosenstein to be an honest actor), the counter intel investigation never happened — and no one ever asked about it. Until recently.
Our news media goes to work every day, the biggest story of their lifetimes in front of them and yet most of them, though they know the story’s big, can’t get anywhere close to wrapping their minds around it. It’s bigness defies their limited imaginations. As they contemplate all the reasons Republicans might be so crazy loyal to Trump, they’re quite happy to go with “just because”. They apparently believe that Republicans are loyal to Trump “just because” but not because they might all be guilty of conspiracy to commit treason. They don’t have to accept it as the explanation until it passes all journalistic muster but, once it does? They’ll have to accept it.
These same journalists, convinced that “both sides do it”, have also convinced themselves that “bi-partisanship, no matter how you achieve it, is worth more than anything — even if that “bi-partisanship” completely undermines the nation’s integrity. Even if the “bi-partisanship” in question exists everywhere except the Senate chamber. Even if the people the media want Democrats to be bi-partisan with are flat out traitors. For some reason, the news media can report one second how Republicans are trying to undermine democracy by passing vile, anti-democratic new voter suppression laws then demand to know why Democrats aren’t trying hard to “work with” those very same Republicans.
They want to know why Democrats are so reluctant to “bi-partisan” with out-and-out TRAITORS.
Let’s also remember, this Memorial Day, those soldiers who were killed by Afghanis promised cash for shooting American soldiers. That, too, was another Russian instigation.
There is no middle ground here. Either you stand with treason or you stand against it. We know how progressives feel about treason. We also know how conservatives feel about it.
I call myself a “progressive” instead of “liberal”. I’m extremely liberal in most ways but the word’s got too much damned baggage. It’s been abused and misused and neo-ed to the point where, to my mind, it’s become too imprecise to describe how my mind sees the world. I want the American commonweal to progress into the future with gusto. I want us to embrace our challenges. I want us to go as far outside the box as we need to to solve those challenges. I want America to live up to the motto on our Great Seal: “E Pluribus Unum”. Out of many, one. I want America to live UP to its ideals — even the ones it didn’t fully embrace at its creation like ALL “men” are created equal. Here’s the irony — in a way, conservatives WANT America to live up to the same ideal — but EXACTLY how the founders meant it: “all white, Christian men are created equal — so long as they’re landowners.”. That is what too, too many conservatives have in mind when they take up conservatism — America circa 1850.
A debate now rages in conservative circles, started by longtime Republican strategist Stuart Stevens. In his book “It Was All A Lie”, Stevens (who has been instrumental in crafting the messages that elected hundreds of Republicans to office) unabashedly accepts responsibility for having contributed to the deeply cynical enterprise that, he now sees, was always the GOP’s true self. Stevens even sees Saint Ronnie Reagan in this harsh, new light. As satisfying as it may have been hearing Reagan deride “welfare queens” for living off the government, what Reagan really was doing was spewing racism.
Racism and white supremacy have nested at the core of Republican intent at least since Barry Goldwater, Stevens says, and it disgusts him. He now understands: the Republican Party stands for nothing today. They exist to hold onto power however they must. If that means destroying the republic? So be it. This isn’t Trumpism, insists Stevens, it’s pure Republicanism screaming at the very top of its racist, bigoted, misogynistic, ignorant voice. This is conservatives making it crystal clear WHAT exactly they want to conserve.
Obviously, no conservative wants to conserve the future. The future’s the thing conservatives are trying to keep at bay. They want to hold onto as many of their conservative values as possible so as to slow, mitigate or prevent the future from ever happening. The conservative ideal, after all, is to make the future look as much like the past as possible. If the future could BE the past? So much the better (from the conservative POV)!
This isn’t rocket science (a thing conservatives fear because rocket science causes innovation and innovation causes change). Look at anything most conservatives want to legislate. The goal is to keep white people in power. To keep money in their hands. To give them advantages versus the rules that non-white people won’t get. Conservativism, by design, wants to maintain the status quo. To conserve it. The present contains as much of the future as a conservative can tolerate. They want to preserve as much of the past as they can in the present.
If every conservative was honest, that’s what they’d tell you. That’s why you should vote for them — because, unlike the progressive who’s unafraid of the future, they, the conservative, will take you back in time to when it was safer to be white. To when white people felt more assured that the future belonged to them just like the past did. One of the reasons to scream about Critical Race Theory is that CRT demands that we tell the FULL story about the past. The reason so few Americans even knew that a “Black Wall Street” existed (only to be wiped out by a race riot 100 years ago) is because “we” never reminded ourselves that it was part of our story. White people never want to hear stories about white people acting like monsters regardless of how true the stories are. They don’t want to see themselves that way.
That, too, is part of conservatism’s nature. Conservatism cannot look itself in the eye. It can’t self-analyze. It cannot stand being judged (judgmental as it is toward everyone else). It has no sense of humor. Oh, conservatives can laugh — but they never laugh WITH anyone (except other conservatives) while they’re collectively laughing AT someone else. Conservatism regards those not conservative with cynical distrust. It assumes the very worst about the rest of us — that we’re out to destroy the thing they love; for them, even freedom is a zero sum game. It’s not possible, they think, for others to have rights without white people “losing” rights. Power sharing just ain’t in their DNA.
And, so, conservatives gerrymander and voter suppress and even conspire with Russia in order to win elections that they know they can’t win fairly — all in order to conserve a version of America that never existed in the first place except in their minds. That’s the nutshell our problem sits inside of — conservatism can’t even be honest with itself about its intentions. About what IT wants and why.
Good thing the rest of us are here to explain it to them.
Slavery, understandably, is one of those words that juices our emotions. Anyone with a history of being enslaved understands on a deep, subcutaneous level how that hangs on one’s sense of self. And that’s without ever having been a slave oneself. Slavery isn’t just one thing of course. It’s a lot of things, none of them good. It’s a whole system in fact. But, it’s a system built upon one key, essential foundation: stolen labor. The whole point of enslaving someone — of making them your slave — is to force them to work for YOU for nothing. You get their labor gratis. Now, consider slavery from the point of view of work. If a person works for free, they can never acquire any wealth — or power, a thing that comes with wealth. Money talks, right? If you haven’t got any — and no way to acquire any — you don’t exist. As an individual, that is. Your work however DOES exist — and you, the slave, working for free, improve the slave master’s bottom line like literally nothing else. The bulk of the profits derived from slavery derive directly from the fact that the LABOR itself cost zero.
Now, to be fair, slavery didn’t provide completely free labor. The slave owner still had to house, feed and clothe his slaves. That’s cash OUT. The cost of a slave was seen as the difference between what it cost to keep a slave and whatever that slave’s maximum productivity could be. Since they were viewed as property, slaves could be sold as needed for cash or because they were “too much trouble” (meaning expensive) to hold onto. Killing slaves wasn’t a good option; that was understood as “destroying one’s own property”. Who in their right mind would do that?
Slavery’s apologists insist that the southern states could never have become viable without slavery’s almost free labor costs — as if white peoples’ need to make a buck transcended everything else in the discussion — including other human beings’ freedom. During slavery’s reign, plenty of apologists pointed to the Bible as justification for maintaining the institution as if the backwardness of iron age scribes excused contemporary immorality.
Want to measure what “fair” is? Ask yourself, if the shoes had all been on the opposite feet and white people had experienced CENTURIES of wage theft — and all the other devious ways white people stole Black peoples’ wealth in America — would white people go along to get along? Surely, you jest. White people in America have a terrible habit of changing rules on the fly for their benefit. This is one of them — but one we’re going to change because fairness demands it.
Though the founders couldn’t bring themselves to include ALL PEOPL;E in “All men are created equal”, still, some of them recognized the true super power lurking inside the American Experiment: diversity. In 1793, those Americans insisted that the words “E Pluribus Unum” become America’s motto and placed it on our “Great Seal”. How to sum up America in three words? From many, ONE.
The many, it’s understood, aren’t going to come here because they were kidnapped from their lives somewhere else, brutalized, transported and dehumanized so that others could get rich off your hard work. The many will come here for the opportunities that exist nowhere else on the planet. E Pluribus Unum is a great sales tool. Come Work For Free? Not so much.
The Confederacy, like the cotton, tobacco and sugar cane it relied on for cash flow, was literally BUILT on the free labor of slaves. Every single slave — or their descendant — has a legitimate claim against both the individuals who forced them to work for free and the government itself that falsely justified laws that permitted such egregious, wrong behavior. This was a conspiracy to deny a particular class of Americans (whether or not they were correctly called “Americans” the wages due them. Government conspired with private industry for their mutual benefit. They even went to war to protect this evil conspiracy to deny Black people the compensation to which they were entitled then and still are entitled.
Statues of limitations are a convenient way for those guilty to run out the clock on their culpability. A thing stolen remains stolen until its return to its true owner. Time can’t actually “forgive” anyone or anything. That’s the guilty party whistling past the graveyard of discovery . The wage theft inherent to slavery was just the most obvious of the thefts. Every time white people destroyed a thriving Black neighborhood like Greenwood — Black Wall Street — as they did in Tulsa in 1921 — they’re not just “burning out” and tearing down a thriving Black neighborhood. They’re stealing that neighborhood’s wealth. They’re taking its property — and that, too, DEMANDS reparation.
Hey — would the Carnegies or Rockefellers or Kochs or Mercers put up with this kind of thing? Ask a “hard” question, why don’tcha…
The modern GOP is what happens when lies and truth become indiscernible. When what happened in the past is a function of what those in power need it to be. It’s not a coincidence that Republican culture is grievance culture is white supremacist culture. And white supremacist culture is one hundred percent fear culture. White supremacists have convinced themselves that white people are genuinely superior (a thing totally unsupported by all evidence) and that God has chosen them to rule the planet on his behalf. Once you’ve put that idea into your own head — that a deity mighty enough to create literally everything has chosen you to speak for him because you’re “special”? You’ll pretty much always believe it. Why wouldn’t you? Having God on your side — or in your pocket even? That’s heady stuff!
Our news media can’t imagine how or why Republicans believe The Big Lie. The news media, always happy to carry water for Republicans, continue to report Republicans refusing to acknowledge Joe Biden’s legitimacy or the need for a January 6 Truth Commission as if they were legitimate, concerns by serious people. FFS – how much bullshit must a journalist endure before he or she is willing to call the stuff being spewed at them “bullshit”? If the answer is “an infinite amount” then we’re doomed. It gets worse, of course, when said journalist takes the bullshit that’s been spewed at them and holds it up as “possible”. It usually comes in the form of a “Yeah, but what if bullshit was true…?” kind of question. What if the murderer/thief/rapist was justified? What if the high crime wasn’t that big a deal? What if the end of democracy was just another thing that could happen?
On the one hand, Republicans are at the point where literally nothing except survival matters. They’ve committed treason — or been suspicious or aware that possibly treasonous acts occurred but said NOTHING. That makes them co-conspirators. That puts them in extreme legal jeopardy — a baseline fact. But then, plenty of Republicans are also deeply religious (Christian mostly of course). If they ‘re even remotely devout, that means they’ve accepted as “Gospel Truth” a lot of things that simply could not and did not happen. If one is willing to believe in all sincerity that a sky deity had sex with a female human virgin in order to impregnate her with a man-god tasked with dying for humanity’s sins (all caused by the first woman eating a piece of fruit cos a talking snake told her to), then truly one might believe almost anything.
Not all Republicans live at the intersection of Ooga & Booga, their belief system utterly fungible. Plenty live in the sewer beneath that intersection.
There’s an iconic film moment in the movie “A Few Good Men”. Military JAG officer Tom Cruise has the movie’s villain (played by Jack Nicholson) on the stand where he’s pressed him hard to get at “the truth”. Nicholson’s Colonel Jessep barks: “You can’t HANDLE the truth!” Of course, in the movie (written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Rob Reiner, both very progressive), we’re meant to shake our heads at Jessep’s arrogance. Of course we can handle the Truth. Ah, but, can we? Can any of us really handle the Truth about who we are and where we are in our lives versus where we wished we’d be? As much as I advocate in this blog for “living bullshit free”, the unvarnished truth about humans is we need a certain amount of bullshit just to get through each day. Hell, we need a certain amount of bullshit just to justify getting through most days. Especially these days.
The trap in being honest with ourselves is if we equate being honest with being judged. The reason we don’t want to be honest is because we don’t want to be judged — especially if we’re just “being honest”. Inside our own heads though, things get grey. We don’t judge ourselves the way we judge others. We couldn’t stand it if we did. But, if we could push past that kneejerk judgment, let our psychological hair down and run free, we’d probably be shocked by the stone, cold truth about ourselves. That’s neither good nor bad. It’s just the Truth.
For instance: none of us can say whether or not we’re racist. It’s not up to us. It’s up to anyone toward whom we may have been racist. IF someone were to accuse us of being a racist (or bigoted or misogynist in any way), would we accept hearing such a terrible TRUTH about ourselves? Or would we insist the “truth” was otherwise — something kinder and gentler toward us? Being honest with oneself is hard, hard work. But the payoffs are considerable. Important detail: being totally honest with yourself about yourself must precede any attempt to be totally honest about anyone else. If you’re doing it right, being honest with yourself about yourself is pretty much a full time job all by itself. You won’t have time to give others the “benefit” of your honesty. If the world was working the way it should, all those others will be as consumed as you will be by the work involved in patrolling their own “perimeters of truth”.
One of the first benefits of being honest with oneself however is how it opens one’s eyes to the myriad ways OTHERS aren’t being honest with themselves but with some very important, very human context around it. On the one hand, that can make us more empathetic to why and how others dance around the truth. On the other, the context makes it crystal clear when others aren’t being “truthful” about WHY they’re dancing as fast as they’re dancing: they’re being cynical. Or, worse, corrupt.
The whole point of being honest with oneself is to “vaccinate” against bullshit and bullshit’s influence on our psyches.
Cutting ourselves slack is completely understandable. We all have to live inside our own heads. But, we have to recognize (if only to ourselves) that that’s what we’re doing. Again, the point isn’t to judge, it’s merely to RECOGNIZE what really is versus what isn’t and probably never was.
There is not a Republican Congressperson alive right now who doesn’t know what they’re really doing. They KNOW they’re not working to make America a stronger democracy dedicated to expanding its electorate. They KNOW that what they’re doing will, in fact, undermine American’s democracy because that is the point. If you can’t win elections via the strength of your ideas and arguments, you’re going to have to “win” elections by “other means”. Republicans don’t suppress Democratic voters because they believe in democracy, they do it because they fear democracy. That’s not a judgment; it’s a stone cold FACT.
Hey, look — Republicans aren’t “obligated” to want the greatest experiment in human self government to continue. They are obligated however to be honest about their intentions. And, if they refuse to be honest about themselves, it’s incumbent on our news media to force them to be honest. That’s their Constitutionally mandated mission — to be the final check on power. Honesty and sunlight — they both work wonders on a dark, corrupt world.
In Hamlet, Shakespeare put it this way: “To thine own self, be true”. Of course, the person giving that advice (Polonius) is a deceptive skunk, but the sentiment’s right. We can only really be honest — and the sunlight can only do what we need it to do — if we begin the process with ourselves to ourselves.
Just think: if not for the pathogens they carried with them from Europe to the New World — pathogens that decimated the native populations — Europeans would have had a far harder time establishing a beach head in the Americas north or south. Knowing zero about germ theory, Europeans assume their rapid takedown of the Aztecs, the Incas, the Cherokee, the Choctaw, the Sioux and the Navaho (among many others) was because European culture was superior. Yes, between guns and steel, the Europeans held another advantage but even armed to the teeth, the Europeans — arriving sea sick and ill-prepared for the hardships ahead in their little boats would have been no match for native tribes that outnumbered them and, after getting to know the white Europeans, didn’t trust them. Not only do white Europeans not feel badly about what they did to America’s native tribes, they celebrate it, raising their drive across the North American continent to the divine. “Manifest destiny was simply white people getting their divine due and a whole continent that belonged to other people to boot.
White people have always known what they were up to — and always felt entitled to it. The thought of taking ownership however — that’s where it ends. White people happily held up their most sacred religious texts to defend slavery (some still do). Slavery wasn’t their fault, they insist. Never mind the money slavery put in their pocket — and keeps in their pocket still. They ain’t giving it back, they insist.
Slavery, at its bottom-most line, is about stolen labor. The whole point of making someone your slave is that they now work for YOU for free. Well, not entirely for free. You will have to house your slave and feed him or her. You’ll have to clothe your slave and, when necessary, travel them. You’ll have to pencil out a complete cost-benefit analysis to establish how the costs of slavery will relate to any possible profit from the slave’s work product. We can only assume that such analysis constantly favored keeping slaves — because the South kept them and then was willing to go to war over keeping slaves. The South’s agrarian economy relied on finding the cheapest possible farm labor. Every penny a cotton or sugar cane grower could keep in their pocket was another penny denied farm laborers.
The slave trade didn’t care about the fact that slaves were being transported across the Atlantic in appalling circumstances. White supremacists certainly don’t. Hell, they celebrate every last bit of white nationalist brutality. There are white families today whose wealth ties directly back to slavery. If not for their family member’s direct profiting from slavery, their family might never have achieved the staggering wealth they now take for granted. That’s really the bottom line and bottom lines are always, ultimately, about money.
Republicans despise the notion of taking responsibility because, they know, there’s a shit-ton of responsibility waiting to be taken. Republicans also know the nature of that responsibility. The irony (there’s always irony) is that those same Republicans who refuse to take responsibility for things they actually do and did (acts of overt racism, backing an insurrection, reveling in corruption and just being a stone cold traitor) are almost invariably deeply Christian, too. Being Christians, they believe Jesus died for their sins (an essential part of Jesus’ purpose if we’re to believe the stories). Being Christians, they also believe that Judas Iscariot caused Jesus’ death and that, subsequently, every Jew on the planet can be held responsible.
Christians have used this utterly nonsensical mythology to demonize Jews almost from the very beginning. No doubt, the actual number of Jews who died at Christian hands over fifteen hundred years would blow us all away. So would the true number of slaves brought to America. So, too, would the total amount of stolen labor — represented as dollars. It’s not just labor that white people stole, it’s the wealth that comes with being paid for one’s labors that also was stolen.
There’s really no other way to put it. White people (especially the white supremacists) are so full of shit that if they were any more full of shit? They’d start spontaneously exploding.
No one ever seems to describe paradise as “just how things are, kid, sorry.” Perfection’s a high, high bar. We can accept the failure that occurs between aspiration and attempt, They gave it their best shot! It’s the failure that happens because of corruption that sticks in our craw. While the rest of us play by the rules — because there’s no other way to live successfully in a society — the corrupt always look for ways to cheat. And damned if their cheating and corruption don’t screw the pooch for everyone else. Corruption once it sets in begets cynicism. We can all feel corruption’s oily awfulness. We can smell it. Corruption’s knee jerk response when we go to eradicate it is to, like a cockroach caught on a kitchen counter when the light goes on, run for cover. Corruption wants to endure. That’s how conservatism works too.
Conservatism walks in the door with (what, to me,, is) a glaring problem: it wears its intentions on its sleeve and in its name. What does any conservative want? Why, he wants to conserve. Via legislation and judicial result, a conservative wants to conserve the status quo because right now contains as much of the future as any conservative wants and as much of the past as they can bear letting go of. What does any conservative long to conserve (considering as it’s impossible to conserve the future since it hasn’t happened)? They want to conserve the past, of course. The more conservative a conservative is, the more distant the past in their mind that they want to reproduce out here in reality. There are luddites who would happily take us all back to the stone age if they could.
Going back to Newt Gingrich, the Republican Party made compromising with Democrats a non-starter. Mitch McConnell has raised being a recalcitrant shit to a high art. Mitch also has raised being a traitor to a high art (as we will learn soon enough when Merrick Garland puts Mitch under oath and grills his Treason Turtle ass about his weird relationship with OLEG DERIPASKA. Mitch is the Poster Turtle for conservatism and corruption. He’s been working for the libertarian Koch Bros who’ve made no secret of their intent to use their money to reshape American politics to their liking — the majority be damned. The Kochs (now just Charles since David died in 2019) are white hegemonists. They believe absolutely that white people (of their social class) know best and that democracy is, at best, cute. The world the Kochs (like the Mercers and all the rest of the right wing money) aspire to enshrine in perpetuity isn’t some progressive paradigm; it’s the opposite of course: it’s a state of permanent minority rule where white men get to do all the real decision-making.
Conservatism lives by absolutes. How can it not? The world must be exactly how it must be. The reason conservatives can’t abide by any change is because change begets more change and once the process of change sets in motion — there’s no stopping it. Better, thinks conservatism, avoid change altogether. Moderate whatever gets through, strangle the rest in its infancy. Call it socialism.
We’re hearing and seeing more and more stories about cops being, shooting, murdering Black people. It’s not that it’s happening more, we’re suddenly woke about it — and realizing there’s evidence of it aplenty. Conservatism’s hold can be narcotizing. Hell, in America, conservatism has continued to nurture racism and bigotry. Think it’s a coincidence that the most racist Americans are also the most conservative? It’s all the same defensive posture, the same terror at losing its grip on power because of demographics.
That is what happened here. In the post Reagan years, conservatives realized their future was bleak because America was diversifying so rapidly. Republicans may talk about having a wide tent, they don’t. They can’t — because their core-most value is the perpetuation of white hegemony. Any non-white they do coax into the tent? They’re there to be used cynically. They’re the Clarence Thomases and the Herman Cains. The bright, self-starters whose drive to succeed was turned against them. Clarence Thomas and integrity have probably never met. And Herman Cain died of covid-19 because he foolishly believed in Donald Trump’s lies.
Republicanism is Trumpism and Trumpism is proudly racist. That, with conservatism, is the bottomest line there is. They may want to conserve values but those values are all white values as practiced by white people.
Conservatives know they’re in a minority position. They can’t sell their ideas successfully at the polls. Too few voters (especially if there are more of them) are buying. So — if you can’t win at the polls (in other words, win LEGITIMATELY) but you want to hold onto power — what’s a conservative to do? There’s only one answer: cheat.
Corruption becomes the only way to hold onto power — and thus corruption breeds more corruption. That sick feeling we all experienced election day 2016 when Trump improbably “won” the presidency? That was us reacting to what we KNEW in our gut was corrupt. The four long years of Trump’s presidency stank of corruption. Everything the Trumpanistas did or said or even thought was corrupt.
Over the course of American history, conservative corruption has brought us the Confederacy, the end of Reconstruction, the Teapot Dome affair (that brought down Warren Harding’s administration), the Great Depression, McCarthyism, The Vietnam War, Watergate, Iran-Contra and Trumpism. The biggest scandal you can throw at Democrats (or a Democrat) is Bill Clinton getting a hummer then lying about it.
Yeah… “both sides ‘do it’.”
The Republican Party, conservative to its core, has a corruption problem. AG Merrick Garland has just started to pull at the threads of the massive Republican Corruption Sweater left behind from the Trump years. The Republicans want to make that sweater a permanent part of our wardrobe. Merrick Garland will see to it that doesn’t happen. As he pulls at those threads — as he is now — the whole foul garment will fall apart in his hands. It will start with Matt Gaetz’s indictment which should drop any moment.