“TRUMPOCALYPSE: THE MOVIE” — Let’s All Play Casting Director!

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

Take this to the bank: a movie or two WILL be made about the Trump presidency.  A few will nibble at the periphery of the experience, capturing the graft and the grift.  Some will try to capture its essence economically but that won’t satisfy.  One really had to experience the overwhelming “everyday” of it — the relentless, sometimes narcotizing fire hose of awfulness that got locked into the “on” position — to appreciate “it”.  This story could never fit into a feature film no matter the length.  This is streaming TV territory that audiences will want to both binge and purge at the very same time.  That’s why we should make the casting process as democratic as possible.  We’re invested in getting the best performances we can.

We’ve already seen a few actors play Trump — Alec Baldwin on SNL of course (which shouldn’t put him out of the running though I suspect he’d want to add a little nuance to the part if he gets the nod) and Brendan Gleason in Showtime’s “The Comey Rule” adaptation.  Late night hosts (Jimmy Fallon) and comedians (Bob DiBuono) have played Trump but they haven’t “inhabited” Trump the way we’ll need our actor to inhabit the part.

Quick casting note: having personally cast a lot of actors over my career, I can assure you: we never cast actors to “act”.  We cast them to “be”.  We cast actors to, essentially, play a version of themselves (with a different name and wardrobe) as honestly as they possibly can.  If they act the emotions, it won’t work.  The camera will see it and we’ll hate the actors as a result.  Much better that they just “open a vein” emotionally and let their hearts flow.  So — as you look at the roles, don’t think so much “who can ‘act’ this part, think “who already inhabits it in a way” because of who they are.  There’s a reason actors get so close associated with the parts they play.  They’re not playing anything.  They’re just “being”.

Back when I first threw down this post in the early years of Trump’s presidency, the story was smaller and simpler (if you can remember back that far).  It was corruption and Russia and a desperate attempt to make it to 2018 when (as we did) we could reassert control of the House at least and try to inject a little oversight into the toxic mix.  Since then… geez — what hasn’t happened?  This — is it a limited series even? — could go on for years as it’s still playing out in real time.

This will always be celebration of wishful thinking — not the TV series itself — casting the damned thing as if we could stay ahead of the story.  The Trump Age was brutal to people who write fiction for a living.  How could fiction possibly stand up to the reality we all lived through?  If a writer tried to sell what we all lived as a novel or script, they’d have been told to stop writing, period.  Way too over the top.  Way too crazy.  Way too everything.

And yet.

This post invites your contributions!  It’s an “open casting call” meaning everyone’s open to making a few casting calls.

CHARACTER              ACTOR

Donald Trump          Woody Harrelson, Alec Baldwin, Brendan Gleeson, Sarah Cooper

Woody Harrelson as Trump Woody Harrelson as Trump?

Alec Baldwin as Trump Alec Baldwin as Trump?

Brendan Gleeson as Trump Brendan Gleeson as Trump?

Sarah Cooper as Trump Sarah Cooper as Trump?

Mike Pence

mike-pence-sanctimonious Mike Pence as Mike Pence

Beck Bennet as Mike Pence SNL’s Beck Bennett as Mike Pence?

The Coronavirus

Coronavirus Coronavirus as Coronavirus

Bubonic Plague 2 Bubonic Plague as Coronavirus?

Spanish flu Spanish Flue of 1918 as Coronavirus?

Joe Biden

Jim Carrey as Joe Biden Jim Carrey as Joe Biden?

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi as Nancy Pelosi

Meryl Streep as Nancy Pelosi Meryl Streep as Nancy Pelosi

Helen Mirren as Nancy Pelosi 2 Helen Mirren as Nancy Pelosi?

Mitch McConnell

mitch-moscow-mitch Mitch McConnell as Treason McTurtleface

Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Rudy as Rudy

Kate McKinnon as Rudy Kate McKinnon as Rudy? Kate can play whoever she wants!

Ted Cruz

ted-cruz-sexy-eyes Ted Cruz as Ted Cruz

Josh Hawley

Josh Hawley Josh Hawley as Josh

Roger Stone

roger-stone-communicated-directly-with-wikileaks-despite-denials-thumbnail-1511217-640x360 Roger Stone as Roger

Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn Michael Flynn as Michael Flynn

The Proud Boys

Proud Boys The Proud Boys as Themselves

Nazis Nazis — as The Proud Boys dream of themselves

Bill Barr

bill-barr-is-handsome Bill Barr as Bill Barr as the Worst AG in American History

Mike Pompeo

Mike Pompeo Mike Pompeo as Mike Pompeo

Lindsey Graham

lindsey-graham-looks-haunted Lindsey Graham as the most haunted, hunted man in America

Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy as The Guy Who KNEW Trump Was Getting Paid By Putin

Merrick Garland

Merrick Garland Merrick Garland as The Guy Who Will End It All For The Republicans

Steve Bannon            Jeff Bridges, Nick Nolte, John Goodman, John Howard

Steve Bannon Steve Bannon as Steve Bannon (for comparison’s sake)

Jeff Bridges as Steve Bannon Jeff Bridges as Steve Bannon?

John Howard as Steve Bannon John Howard as Steve Bannon?

Ivanka                         Scarlet Johanson

Ivanka Ivanka as Ivanka

Scarlet J as Ivanka Scarlet Johansson as Ivanka?

Amanda Seyfried as Ivanka Amanda Seyfried as Ivanka?

Jared Kushner

Donald Trump, Jr.

Eric Trump

Melania Trump

Vlad Putin                   Mark Ivanir, Mads Mikkelsen

vlad-is-a-tough-guy1 Vlad Putin as Vlad Putin

Mark Ivanir as Putin Mark Ivanir as Vlad Putin?

Robert Mueller           Chris Noth, George Clooney

Don McGahn                Andrew McCarthy

Sarah Sanders              Rosie O’Donnell, Mary Lynn Rajskub

Robert Mercer            Greg Kinnear, Noah Emmerich

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Now let’s move on to a few new roles — JARED KUSHNER…

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Couple of thoughts — first — NICK JONAS —

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I know – Nick Jonas is 24, Jared is mid 30’s BUT — I think Nick’s youth works for the part because it will READ as such — and one thing Jared is most notable for IS BEING TOO YOUNG for pretty much everything he’s been tasked to do.  Too young and too fucking stupid…

Second thought — CHRISTIAN BALE — at 43, he’s a little old for the part but the guy’s versatile as hell.  And he’s got the tools to bring out all the passive aggressive, weak-link-in-a-weak-chain nuances that make Jared so Jared…

Christianbale

KELLYANNE CONWAY

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The obvious choice — because she INHABITS the character so hauntingly — is KATE MCKINNON.

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In fact, I can’t imagine anyone better.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s hers.

MORE TO COME…

ROBERT MERCER (CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA and one of THE Big Money Guys the Republican party RELY on.  He’s one of the reasons they pushed through a ‘tax bill’ that could completely bankrupt us with debt —

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But SOMEONE will have to play him in “TRUMPOCALYPSE:  THE MOVIE”. And April Lea — one of my readers on Twitter had this fabulous suggestion — GREG KINNEAR —

Grdg Kinnear

It’s like Greg was BORN to play the part, no…?

MORE CASTING TO FOLLOW…

“TRUMPOCALYPSE:  THE MOVIE” — CASTING

I’m just trying to get ahead of the curve here.  A MOVIE VERSION of this Moment In History is coming — not today of course and not tomorrow but — not too much longer after that.

As anyone in The Biz will tell you, casting is everything.  Get it right — you’re Golden.  Get it wrong — it doesn’t matter how good the script is, the direction, the design — you’re going down in flames colored purple by terrible acting.

Even a story as good as THIS — and stories will NEVER (I sure as hell hope) ever, ever, EVER get ‘better’ than this — could be undermined by bad casting.  With that in mind, here are my thoughts about who in the current crop of actors we should ‘think about’ for ‘Our Movie’…

First up — OUR LEAD of course.  Now, I know — first guy in everyone’s mind is Alec Baldwin —

And who doesn’t love when Alec Baldwin does his Trump (except perhaps for Donald himself — but then, he has no sense of humor — something our actors need to grasp and incorporate into their character).  And I wouldn’t say ‘No’ to Mr Baldwin; in fact, I’d love to see Mr Baldwin come at the character from a more ‘actory’ point of view — from within.  I’d want to talk about that for sure.  Maybe get a screen test out of him…

It’d be worth it (for him).

Let’s say we like what he does — a lot — but don’t quite ‘love’ it.  I have the ace card right here — the guy we should cast regardless of how good Mr Baldwin is because WOODY HARRELSON will be better — cos he can do just about anything.

Kingpin_1martin-hartwoody-harrelson-as-president-lyndon-b-johnson-in-rob-reiner-s-lbjWoody-Harrelson-Hunger-Games-Featured-01032017-322x268

His INTERIOR range is 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.

So — think about it, folks — THIS GUY playing THIS GUY —

Can I sign him?  Please?

Next up was going to be Robert Mueller but circumstances have forced us to consider casting THIS GUY now instead —

steve-bannon

My first thought is JEFF BRIDGES.  Bannon is like The Dude’s soul-less Evil Twin — with a side of Gin Blossoms…

jeffbridges

Got some great suggestions on Twitter.  Sorry, ‘Dude’, but you have competition.  How about THIS GUY — NICK NOLTE…

…or JOHN GOODMAN…

See?  Casting is harder than it looks!  Keep the suggestions coming, folks

Okay — I WILL get to this guy but — he’s HARD…

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In the meantime — IVANKA TRUMP —

Ivanka

My FIRST thought?  SCARLETT JOHANSSON…

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It’s almost too on the nose… I bet Scarlett would tear up the part though.  Tear it up and have it for dinner…

This is a movie with multiple villains.  And each villain is very different from the others and very interesting.  But our Uber-Villain is THIS GUY — Vladimir…

Now, personally, I’d give it to my good friend MARK IVANIR (he played the Russian Spymaster a few seasons back on the BERLIN SEASON of HOMELAND).  Mark’s Russian by birth but grew up in Israel.  Knows his way around a villain while being an absolutely delightful person in the flesh…

But I know everyone’s a star-fucker so… I would also think about TCHEKY KARYO ( on the right — ‘La Femme Nikita’) or MADS MIKKELSEN ( on the left — ‘Hannibal’) while trying to talk you into my friend Mark —

Next up TWO THOUGHTS for ROBERT MUELLER) —

Senate Judiciary Committee

A great suggestion from Purple Mountains on my Twitter feed — CHRIS NOTH —

Chris Noth

Rock solid idea.  Another possibility?  A guy with surprising emotional range who you just plain like the moment you see him —

Clooney — George Clooney… ya think?

Since she’s ‘up to bat’ — let’s try n cast Sarah Huckabee Sanders —

sarah-huckabee-750x

I’m thinking MARY LYNN RAJSKUB (24 among lots of other great credits) —

Mary Lynn Rajskub

But PURPLE MOUNTAINS — on my Twitter feed had this very, VERY good idea — ROSIE O’DONNELL —

1200px-Rosie_O'Donnell_by_David_Shankbone

That’s gonna be a hard one.  And we’ve only just started thinking about it… Next up —

JARED THE ‘K’…

jared-kushner-trump-split-pending

Of Sharks And Perspective — We’re Gonna Need A MUCH Bigger Boat, America

Quick — what’s the worst way to die imaginable? Not a nice question, I agree, but surely we’ve all contemplated the possibilities and one always comes up “worst”: being eaten, right? Being “consumed” by something isn’t just “dying”, it’s being reduced to another creature’s “food”! Everything you think you are — a husband, a wife, a friend, a lover, a son or a daughter, a rogue or a scholar — no, fool — you’re roughage, hopefully without too much cholesterol or sodium. From a shark’s point of view, you’re shark shit pre-shark. You just don’t know it. Yet.

Our news media thinks perspective is what happens AFTER the shark eats you. “Hey, don’t jump in that water,” they think journalism is, “We know there are sharks in it!” Yes, the news is important — but we all saw what happened. News of a shark might have been MORE helpful BEFOREHAND.

Was there evidence of a shark swimming around before the story even started? “Well,” the news media says, “We didn’t see any dorsal fins, so we assumed the coast was clear!” Ah, but “didn’t see any” and “so therefore they weren’t there” don’t necessarily hook up. Hey, news media — didja look? Did you LOOK for sharks in water known to be infested with them? The truth is — where Donald Trump is concerned, for instance, you didn’t!

The news media didn’t report Trump as a “shark in the water” because they didn’t realize that that’s what he was — despite the fact that they’d reported him behaving that way forever! The Steele Dossier exists because such reporting existed — that Trump was a shark who’d used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. That’s what Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, the research firm hired by Republicans backing Marco Rubio (the owners of the conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon) testified to before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017. Before engaging in the actual assignment, Fusion did its “due diligence” first. They got ahold of every bit of publicly available material they could on Trump — every newspaper story, magazine article, TV or radio appearance, every book, every video, every everything if it happened in a way that anyone could look at it or hear it.

What Fusion found there — in publicly available material — Simpson testified, convinced them that Donald Trump was likely an international criminal. They approached Christopher Steele (and his company Orbis) because Steele, former head of the MI6’s Russia desk, had the very best contacts inside Russia. And Steele was reliable. When the FBI wanted to go after FIFA’s Sepp Blatter for corruption, they hired Steele. Fusion hired Steele because he offered unparalleled PERSPECTIVE.

What Chris Steele found — and put into his collection of raw intel — the Dossier — convinced HIM that Trump wasn’t just an international criminal, he was an out-and-out TRAITOR.

The further one pulls back the camera on Trump, on the Republicans, on what they’ve done here, on how clearly they’re owned by a hostile foreign power engaged in a literal cyber war against us, the clearer one sees treason. Treason, treason and nothing but treason.

Yeah, America — we’re gonna need a much bigger boat here. If only our news media had done what Glenn Simpson did — THEIR DUE DILIGENCE. If only they would have screamed and shouted “SHARK!” when they reported (a year after it happened but, still — they reported it!) how the Republican leadership KNEW for a fact that Trump was owned by Russia but deliberately kept that fact a secret. This really happened: current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of GOP leadership a month before their convention and said — out loud: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” No one said “Say, what? Are you sure, Kevin? Hey, someone — get the FBI on the phone — WE have a problem — our candidate is probably compromised by Russia!” No, instead, the Republican leadership — then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — insisted that everyone there “keep it in the family”.

The GOP chose omerta over patriotism.

If our press could aggregate a story the way stories are supposed to be aggregated — where you keep adding information and then building upon what you know (instead of tossing it as if it never happened and returning to a kind of “Square One of Ignorance” every damned day) — we would already equate Donald Trump and Republicans with extreme corruption. We’d already have connected the Donald Trump dot and the Russia dot — and connected them to the Republican Party dot and the Elections 2016 and 2020 dots.

If our news media didn’t accept as gospel truth everything that tumbles from a Republican’s mouth — Bill Barr, say — they might have READ the Mueller Report rather than ACCEPTING what Bill Barr said it said. Jesus, even AFTER they’d read the report, the majority of American journalists STILL go along with Barr’s take that it says “Trump didn’t do anything”. No — that’s NOT what it says. And, we now know, even what it says was squeezed and compromised and limited to a very small question — concerning Trump’s direct communications with Julian Assange and Wikileaks. We know that then acting AG Rod Rosenstein deliberately lied to both Team Mueller and the FBI — ending the counter-intelligence investigation into Trump and Russia while allowing Team Mueller and the FBI to think the other was doing that work.

Hey — how often did anyone in our news media point out the cool historical fact that Donald Trump was the first president ever to run for re-election in the very election he’d been impeached for cheating in? Not many. And yet — Trump continued to cheat every single day — in front of everyone — as if he’d never been impeached for doing the very same thing! Imagine if our press had aggregated even a fraction of what they themselves had reported!

I’m a fan of the journalist, lawyer, professor Seth Abrahams. Abrahams’ method is to aggregate what the press has reported so as to present the fullest possible picture of what we KNOW (because it’s been sourced by the press) with the widest possible perspective. In essence, he’s doing what Fusion GPS did — using what we know to paint a picture of what we should be using as the BASIS for our thinking. By simply reporting what’s been reported — a kind of massive due diligence — Seth Abrahams isn’t just a canary in a coal mine, he’s the closest thing to “Absolute Truth” we have.

What is v what is not. The more perspective we have, the better! And even the perspective we have — now that we’re using it to see the world — tells us the boat we chose won’t be good enough. The shark’s already chewing on it.

This shark won’t go quietly. There’s no point negotiating with it. It’s going to come down to a simple question of Him or Us.

While we decide however, can we do ourselves one kindness — yeah: a bigger boat.

Dear Donald Trump: How Was The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life?

Yesterday felt like we finally got over the worst bout of food poisoning imaginable. We knew the moment America “swallowed” Trumpism that Trump would put every single one of our systems through hell. I know I wasn’t alone in literally weeping with joy as I watched Joe and Kamala be sworn in, watched Lady Gaga and Garth Brooks both tear it up, watched Amanda Gorman speak a poem that seemed to drill right into our souls. Damn, what Ms. Gorman recited was incredible — it was like a warm, burbling stream that you could step into at any point and instantly feel what she was thinking about. All day, our collective reaction to Donald Trump exiting stage right felt like a dark cloud lifting.

Trump exited the building as gracelessly as he entered it. Shocking, right? Just to go the eff away, he needed pomp and circumstance. He needed every last bit of smoke he could generate from the wreckage he’d left behind blown up his bloated orange ass. I wish we had delivered Trump directly TO Mar a Lago yesterday — from 35,000 feet sans parachute. Perhaps, as the indictments start to appear at his front door, demanding attention, Trump will start to feel like he’s falling from 35,000 feet with no way to stop it.

Pariah-hood for Trump is a good beginning. It’s what he’s deserved his whole life. It will sting way more now because, at his age, he’s completely incapable of adapting or finding other alternative ways to keep it cash flowed. The adoration of money is what Trump has instead of feelings. Threaten his money, you threaten his feelings. Stomp on his wallet, you’ve wounded his heart.

Freeze Donald Trump’s bank account — you’ve pulled the plug on his existence. Without money, Trump can’t keep justice at bay. If justice comes calling — like a wolf at Trump’s door — Trump will have no way to stop it from devouring him and his whole family. Never mind Trump surviving years of being a federal prisoner (or a state prisoner if that happens first). Trump may not get through one night in detention without every physical ailment his diet and lifestyle have exacerbated suddenly becoming an existential emergency. Of course Trump fears going to jail. Who doesn’t?

But, for Trump, it means the literal end. Contemplating prison is contemplating mortality. As he flew home on Air Force One, his empire of bullshit collapsing around him, Trump knew he’d be landing as much in hot water as in Florida.

I bet the SDNY is already moving to convert Donald Trump from his status as the “unindicted co-conspirator” known as “individual 1” in Michael Cohen’s felony election fraud conviction to a fully INDICTED co-conspirator. The only thing ever standing between Trump and that indictment was time — and Trump losing the election — and therefore losing the “immunity” from prosecution he benefited from (though he should never have benefitted from it). Trump is about to meet the E. Jean Carroll buzz saw head on — and that will be even uglier for Trump.

The last 36 hours of Trump’s presidency was increasingly bizarre because so many forces were actively at work. The big overhanging question — aside from who-all would Trump pardon before leaving — remains “will the Senate convict Trump?” Trump needs the Senate to NOT convict him — desperately. If the Senate were to convict Trump (making him the first POTUS ever 1) to be impeached twice and 2) first POTUS ever to be impeached AND convicted), they’d move on to the next question they’re obligated to ask: “shall this person to be allowed to run for public office again EVER?” For Trump, THAT’S the danger inherent in being convicted by the Senate.

Trump doesn’t want anyone asking that question about him because if they’re asking, the answer’s going to be “no”. Trump can never run for public office ever again. That will mean Trump can’t raise campaign cash to theoretically use for getting elected (but that he’d actually use to cash flow his life or pay his legal bills). With the Trump brand’s collapse — caused partly by the pandemic and partly because who wants to give money to a traitor — he can’t rely on the hospitality business to keep him afloat.

Trump’s in desperate financial straits. His presidency has now completely and utterly destroyed his brand. The Trump name is synonymous with corruption, sedition and (soon enough) treason. Think Coca Cola wants to co-brand with that? That’s what would happen if they gave a traitor campaign cash. It’d be “Hey, drink Coca Cola! It’s the official cola of traitors everywhere!” Think Ford wants its trucks to be how “seditionists sedition”? Only traitors want to be a traitor’s pal — or the co-conspirator who keeps stuffing cash in the traitor’s pocket.

Treason, as most Fortune 500 companies will tell you, is terrible for business.

With his properties losing value and huge, balloon payments on ridiculous loans coming due, Trump’s somewhere north of $400 million in the hole. He owes — in total — north of a billion. And Deutschebank, one of his main financial bitches, just told him “Enough!” They don’t want to be in business with him anymore either. With other money sources drying up or, like Sheldon Adlestein, actually dying, Trump needs the sucker bait factory that a having Political Action Committee (a PAC) legally permits the way a vampire needs a fresh blood supply.

Donald Trump’s election sent this country into a psychological tailspin unequaled in history. I betcha that will be duly noted in history books — how, in the aftermath of November 2016, a significant portion of America sought intense therapy to deal with the trauma they felt. Trumpism was bad for plenty of Americans, but it was awfully good for the psychotherapy business. Considering how long the PTSD is likely to last, therapy should continue to be growth industry for quite a while longer.

Though LOSING the election by a lot, Trump has still reaped a whopping $210 million in cash by bamboozling people into thinking some kind of “fight” still remained to be fought. Trump sees re-election the way he saw election in the first place — as a cash cow for him to use up and then plow into with his golf cart, killing it. IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE MONEY! Take that to the bank and get richer than rich.

What America needs — what it yearns for — is justice. Donald Trump assaulted us (like the rapist he is). That can’t go unmarked or unpunished. As a victim of sexual assault who’s on the mend, let me assure you — until you 1) admit something was done to you, 2) that it’s not your fault, and 3) that the person who did this is a bad person for doing this to you, you can’t 4) start to heal. There is right, there is wrong. We need both to acknowledge these things and we need to acknowledge that we’re acknowledging it.

Trump didn’t just violate the law with impunity, he violated our sense of decency. While he unintentionally exposed some terrible truths about who America really is, Trump wanted to exploit those terrible truths and ride them to a state of permanent minority rule. Too bad democracy got in his way.

Merrick Garland will both revert Justice back to how it was when Obama was POTUS and make it even better at carrying out its mission. Trumpian corruption is like the ugliest Christmas sweater ever knit by human hands. It’s also badly made. Pull one of the many threads hanging off it and the whole rotten garment will instantly fall apart.

Just like Donald Trump’s life is about to.

Yesterday was a terrible, terrible day for Trump. Today will be even worse and tomorrow will make today look like a picnic.

E. Jean Carroll’s success against Trump will create a cottage industry. Once it’s safe to go after Trump — his NDA’s now being toothless because they covered criminal activity — I bet most of the women we know about and plenty that we’ve never heard of will seek justice and satisfaction from Trump.

Charges of tax fraud and insurance fraud will land on Trump. His taxes will finally see the sunlight. His adult children will find themselves in deeper shit than they ever imagined shit could be piled. We don’t think Trump pardoned himself or his adult children but that doesn’t mean he didn’t. It would have cost Trump nothing to do a silent pardon for himself and his family. That is a possibility and it’s completely legal — these will only ever come to light if Trump or his family are charged with something. That’s when they’d have to pull their “get outta jail” cards from their corrupt pocket.

Then we’ll take it to the SCOTUS where — rest assured — Trump will lose. By then, Trump and his crime family will stand utterly naked, utterly alone, utterly exposed.

The only place left to run will be Russia. Putin will welcome them — with open arms even. He’ll greet them as the heroes that they are — to Russia. For a year or so, things will go swimmingly. On the surface anyway. But, once Trump stops being useful to Putin, he stops being worth keeping around. Or alive.

One night — quite suddenly — a group of thugs will round up every last Trump and take them to a secret location where they’ll all be “Romanov-ed” just like the last Czar’s family. Perhaps, being vain and stupid, the Trumps — like the Romanovs — will think they’re about to pose for a picture — something they’re all fond of doing. I’m not sure if they’ll all be ready for that day’s “close up”, but I feel pretty certain the rest of the world will be.

What’s This Feeling Welling Up Inside Of Us — Is That… Happiness?

Fess up: how many people, other man me, half expected one more terrible Trumpian twist before he boarded Air Force One for his last pony ride? As I write this, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are still about an hour-and-a-half away from being sworn in. Trump, still airborne, is still POTUS. If we could manufacture justice on the spot and manifest it in reality, either law enforcement would be awaiting the Trumps when they land in Florida — and every last one of them would be taken into custody (might as well do it now, it WILL happen eventually) — or, instead, we’d deliver the Trumps directly to Mar-A-Lago from 35,000 feet without parachutes. By the time the Trump Crime Family had crammed onto AF1, pretty much everyone in Washington, DC had abandoned them; aside from Mark Meadows, no one with an official parking spot of value showed up at Andrews AFB to wave goodbye to them.

Mitch McConnell? He’s attending church with the Bidens — and Nancy Pelosi. Mike Pence? He’s got a chair waiting for him at the Inauguration. And both Mitch & Mike know their futures are cloudy. They’re not making nice to the Democrats because they want to — they know what’s coming. They need all the friends they can get especially now that the Department of Justice has taken down Bill Barr’s shingle and hung up Merrick Garland’s. The DoJ has just as much on its plate at the start as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris do. Not only do they have today’s work to plow into, they have four years worth of oversight to catch up with first — including the counter-intelligence investigation into Donald Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin that Rod Rosenstein ended.

It isn’t Democrats having the presidency that terrifies Republicans, it’s Democrats having the Department of Justice. That’s incorrect. Democrats don’t “have” the DoJ, We The People do. That’s the difference (it damned well better be!) Under Bill Barr, the Department of Justice became Trump’s consigliere. Under Merrick Garland, it will revert to being the nation’s overseers of justice and chief practitioners of the rule of law. If Merrick Garland does his job the way we need him to, a culture of fairness — of justice serving the public equally — will permeate every nook and cranny of the DoJ. That’s how good management works — by example and from the top down. Remember how much corruption there was during eight years of Obama’s presidency? ZERO. There was zero corruption because Barack Obama made it crystal clear that HE PERSONALLY would not tolerate it.

We know — having been the lab rats — how the opposite conditions work out.

As mentally and emotionally exhausted as we feel — if I may project “me” onto “we” for a second — watching Donald Trump leave was heartening. It felt good watching him cross from the White House to Marine One — the helicopter that flew him to Andrews. It felt even better watching him cross from Marine One to the podium where, for once, it was tolerable to hear him speak (if only because we knew it was for the very last time as president). It belt best of all when Trump and his viperous family climbed aboard Air Force One for their trip “home”.

I know, looking back, what four years of Trumpism did to my psyche and sense of mental well-being. Hell, my suicide attempt came six weeks after Trump “won” the election. I know what election day 2016 did to me — it struck something deep. I wasn’t alone that night, feeling that something terrible had just happened. This wasn’t just the woe the comes from losing an election. We could feel it — something… untoward had happened. Something not on the up-n-up. Something not quite “legit”. Something, in fact, downright criminal. If only we could “prove” that these feelings weren’t just… feelings.

Four years ago felt awful — though the Women’s March the day after Trump was inaugurated felt like we were collectively picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off and preparing for what turned out to be four years of hard, relentless battle with the darkest part of our nation. We sought relief and thought it was coming! It breaks my heart still to think how deluded we were all were by Team Mueller. It’s not that they didn’t do good work — they absolutely did. But, wishful thinking gave them a far bigger mandate than they, in fact, worked from. We assumed that even as Team Trump obstructed justice, in the background, plenty of heavy lifting was going on; intelligence professionals and law enforcement were carrying on an extensive, intensive counter-intelligence investigation into every last nuance of Donald Trump’s treasonous relationship with Vladimir Putin.

The thing people like me didn’t count on — this story really did run far darker than imagined — was the extent of Republican complicity. I know I kept thinking that surely the third rail of going to prison forever would keep the Republican leadership from letting Trump run completely amok. But, it turns out, once you’ve committed treason — as pretty much the entire Republican leadership has — it really doesn’t matter anymore if you let a treasonous POTUS run amok since — if the other side wins the election — you’ll be going to prison, too, now. Because that’s how conspiracy works.

See something, say something. See something, say NOTHING? We have to ask: “Why?” Why say nothing? Whose interests are you protecting here — since, clearly, they’re not ours? Perfect example? Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (who — ironically — attended church this morning with Mitch and Nancy and Kamala and Joe) who, a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their 2016 standard-bearer, walked into a roomful of the Republican leadership and famously said “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” The correct, moral, patriotic response in the room would have been “Wait, WHAT? Why do you say that, Kev’? Holy shit — if that’s even remotely true, we gotta tell the FBI!” That, alas, is NOT how that roomful of Republicans responded to hearing that their presidential candidate was likely already compromised by a hostile foreign power. No, instead, they all followed then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s lead and “kept it in the family”.

What we felt settle over us on election day 2016 — like the blackest cloud imaginable — was Trumpian corruption. Today, that cloud officially lifts.

The air — filled with coronavirus as it is — smells fresher. The sun feels warmer. And we now have a president who doesn’t wear orange face paint because he thinks it improves his appearance.

For that alone — I feel better!

What If Trump’s Vigorously Inadequate Coronavirus Response Was Part Of Trump’s Goal Of Taking Over The Country?

When it comes to Donald Trump, NOT assuming the worst is foolish. Assuming you’ve seen Trump’s worst? Even more foolish. While Trump isn’t personally capable of thinking in grand strategic plans, he is capable of having one master plan that supersedes everything else: self-survival, damn the costs. Once Trump became POTUS (that is, once Russia MADE Trump POTUS — an important distinction), his NOT being POTUS became a personal impossibility. In addition to all of Trump’s other legal liabilities, he now had treason to ice them. Trump can’t resign. He cannot get pardoned for his crimes; that is, even if he WERE to resign in order to let Mike Pence pardon him (good luck with that scenario now that Trump put a literal hit on Pence), the fact that TREASON sits at the heart of Trump’s criminality — and no pardon will forgive TREASON especially when the point of the TREASON was to destroy the country from within — means Donald Trump’s choices are literally life v death.

Which do we think Trump will choose for himself and which do we think he’ll choose for the nation?

Like that’s a question.

Donald Trump has nothing to lose. Hey, once you’ve tried a seditious assault on the Capitol building — with all the legislators inside, intent on taking out the power structure beneath Trump (Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi) — there’s nowhere to go back to, as hard as every Republican tries to convince us to forgive them now before we get “carried away” with wanting them to take ownership of their criminality. The Trump admin deliberately hamstrung the transition. Do we not think it a stone cold certainty that mountains of evidence have already been destroyed? Part of that info the Trumpanistas have withheld goes directly to the heart and nature of Team Trump’s abysmal response to the coronavirus.

Again — let’s not hamstring ourselves. From the moment Russia stole the 2016 election’s outcome on Trump’s behalf (we will closely examine the strange 77,000 vote win disparity Trump won by in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan in light of things we will learn about how certain internet-connected, Republican-owned electronic voting machine manufacturing companies have been altering election outcomes for years now), Trump has been winging it with the GOP, the Heritage Foundation, Fox News, the Koch Brothers and the Mercers all exerting control (or thinking they were) over a traitor who owned them far more than they owned him. Cynicism and greed have brought the Republicans here. They will reap what they have sown.

There really are no coincidences. Not in Trump World anyway. Two criminal occurrences occurring at the same time aren’t a coincidence, they’re a conspiracy. His behavior toward Russia is directly connected to his obstruction of justice. His obstruction of justice is directly connected to his dismantling of the Federal government, the Justice Department in particular. That’s why Trump put Bill Barr back on the federal payroll: Barr wasn’t America’s Attorney General, he was Trump’s consigliere. Not the same thing.

As I stated above: Trump must remain in the White House to remain a free man. He KNOWS what he’s done is shockingly bad. That’s why he’ll fight to the literal death to resist paying for it though, ironically, it all comes to the same ending for Trump. I’m not sure that Trump immediately leapt to the realization that a nation weakened by a vicious virus might be easier to overthrow, but I bet at some point that thought DID occur to someone in Trump’s “brain trust”. This one feels especially “Stephen Miller”. It’s that cruel.

Hey, my little visit to Conspiracy World can be easily shot down. I have to produce proof. Without it, I’m as full of shit as they are. But, I bet there IS proof and plenty of it. I bet these arrogant pricks put it down in emails or texts or other social media — even if in code. And let’s not pooh-pooh accusing people of using code to spread hateful messages and associations…

It would be completely Trumpian — and completely Proud Boy — to communicate both tribal pride and tribal plans via visual signals.

In addition to bringing guns and Molotov cocktails and zip ties and other tools with them, the seditionists also brought an intent to murder — not just individual public servants (though I’m not sure Mike Pence fits that description, he’s just a rat the other rats got tired of) but the republic itself. That, really, was Trump’s target on Wednesday: he honestly believed he would end the American Democratic Experiment and install himself as boy king forever.

That’s what most of the GOP was counting on, too, apparently: their idiotic coup would succeed — and they’d never have to face the consequences their actions demanded. Donald Trump and the Republican Party really did have it in their heads for a while there that they were pulling it off. The lack of police resistance got them into the building and may even have steered them toward the places where the perps expected to find their political targets. How unfortunate for them that they tasted disappointment.

Their disappointment is about to grow bitter.

We just learned that, as they huddled together, under threat of physical violence from the insurrectionist mob, a number of the Republicans REFUSED to mask up. We don’t know yet — they haven’t told us — which of the people in the room is the “incubator” here. We need to know — were they innocently asymptomatic and unaware or were they aware they were carrying and (we’re talking about Republicans here), simply refused to tell anyone, figuring that if they infected anyone? “Mission accomplished”.

Republicans have proven they’ll do literally ANYTHING to win — including ally with a hostile foreign country — a traditional enemy — waging a CYBER WAR against us. Is it really that far-fetched that — to weaken us so as to never ever have to pay for their crime (of indeed ALLYING with that hostile foreign enemy) — the Republicans deliberately tried to infect us with coronavirus?

Shrug it off at your peril. I’m old enough to remember when saying out loud that Trump was a traitor was a reliable eye-roller.

We ain’t in that Kansas anymore, Toto.

Alcohol + A Pandemic = Terrible Decision-Making

I stopped drinking alcohol just over four years ago. I didn’t “have to” per se, but the mood stabilizer I started taking gives all alcohol a grapefruit skin-like aftertaste making it completely unpalatable. Given a choice between drinking and not being depressed, I’ll take the latter, thanks. And anyway — it’s not like consuming alcohol does one’s depression any favors. Alcohol might just be the worst thing for a depression. That’s why no matter how much we drink, we can’t get ourselves out of the dark, frustrating vicious circle the pandemic has us running on like hamsters on a demonic exercise wheel.

Alcohol itself isn’t our problem. Our attitude toward alcohol is. Because we treat it as a vice — like sex — we get squeamish talking about it. Oh, we’re happy to brag about our prowess or relate countless funny stories about drinking and cringeworthy results, but we dare not discuss what alcohol does to our judgment. How many drinking stories have you heard in your life where alcohol caused someone to do the right thing instead of the stupid?

Do I miss alcohol? Occasionally. I’ll be with someone who’s enjoying a glass of something so inky and dense that you can practically see its tannin structure. My mood stabilizer hasn’t hurt my ability to smell any. In a way, that makes the impact it has on my taste buds even more cruel. One of the best parts of a great wine is its long, complex aftertaste. It’s a little like knowing the great meal you’re about to eat will absolutely end with food poisoning. Really, it’s just not worth it.

Though alcohol abuse wasn’t my specific problem, it was a problem for me; I know that now. That’s part of alcohol’s hold on us. Even if you think you have a problem with alcohol, alcohol convinces you it isn’t that big of a problem. And anyway, what would you do if you couldn’t drink — or, worse, go out drinking with your friends? If you’re like most of America, apparently, you obsess over it endlessly.

Though I no longer drink alcohol, I do consume a lot of marijuana. I have a prescription. I don’t need one to purchase cannabis here in California though having one does save me some of the sales tax. That’s not why I keep my prescription active; I do that because THC is the other chemical in my mental health regimen. I use THC to moderate my hypomania (while my mood stabilizer handles the depression). As I’ve written here before, I use cannabis from the start of my day to the very end of it. I wake & bake using a variety of sativas, I chill in the early evening with hybrids and I use indicas to give me a fabulous night’s seep.

In my past, I’ve tricked myself into thinking alcohol and cocaine could add to my productivity. Talk about bullshit! Neither can do that.

As I’ve also talked about here, cannabis is completely unlike alcohol (and cocaine of course). Whereas alcohol is a depressant, cannabis isn’t. Depending on strain, THC content, terpene structure and a few other variables, a hit of THC can focus your mind even as you settle into the couch. Our brains like cannabinoids. A lot. There’s a reason musicians like Louis Armstrong self medicated with marijuana while inventing jazz in New Orleans in the early twentieth century. Alcohol dulls the senses. Opium wipes them out completely. Cannabis, on the other hand, floods your brain with information. That’s, in essence, what THC does. If you think of our synapses as digital circuits — either opened or closed — THC causes more of them to be “open”, receptive to information. The reason music feels richer, colors seem more vibrant and food tastes better on dope is because your brain is processing more of that sensory information in real time. It’s not that the food “tastes better”, it’s that THC allows you to taste the food “more”.

Among the enduring images from our pandemic hellscape is maskless people partying — bleary-eyed and shit-faced past caring. It’s like watching a tragedy take shape in slow motion. Think about how much money Big Alcohol spends on advertising to get people to do something they already like doing. Big Alcohol can’t be happy, it seems, until every single American is plastered out of their mind. If we were capable of making good decisions, the first one we’d make is to stop listening to what Big Alcohol says.

Humans are social creatures and alcohol makes us more social. One plus one equals two. But, when people keep drinking, two plus two equals four — and the next thing you know, the tipsy happiness produced by the first cocktail becomes slurred decision-making by the time cocktail number two gets consumed. Drinkers — even if they’ve been drinking all their lives — seem to forget (once they start drinking) that there’s about a twenty minute lag between the alcohol passing their lips and that specific alcohol’s impact on their brain. It’s the lag that causes most people to drink more and drink more quickly.

And get wasted more quickly.

That’s the strangest experience of all. Back before the pandemic closed bars and made parties verboten, I got to watch my wife and friends (on numerous occasions) morph over the course of a few hours from sensible, moderate people enjoying each others’ company to a bunch of happy, but loud, partiers

What scares me most about watching people drink to excess in the middle of a pandemic is my own experiences drinking. I kept drinking though I knew it was doing me way more harm than good. People who feel compelled to go out and drink socially with friends are answering a call deep inside their heads and livers. It’s hard to deny that call; I know.

But that call is the voice of bullshit. I know — I’m pissing into the wind here. We’re not going to start talking about our drinking problem just because a former drinker has seen the light. But, we should. Also, we should “teach” young people “how to drink”. I don’t mean get them drunk and teach them how to get drunk faster, I mean teach them HOW to drink like responsible people and not like teenagers on a bender.

Drinking responsibly means understanding your own bio-chemistry, your own limits. It means knowing how alcohol changes YOU and your behavior. It means telling yourself “no” a lot more than “yes”. It means owning that alcohol owns you and not you it.

I am absolutely not casting judgment. Been there, done that, guilty as charged. But, the problem with alcohol is it lies to us. It insists we can handle “one more for the road”. Even if we manage to get home safely, that was as much luck as anything else.

Look – there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with drinking. There’s plenty wrong with drinking irresponsibly. Unfortunately, ours is a culture where drinking alcohol to excess is considered both a birthright and a right of passage. But then again, we don’t attach any responsibility to being citizens (we want it to be a non-stop grab bag of goodies). Why would we attach any responsibility to something citizens do to excess?

Why Do Some Christians Hate Being Forced To Reap What They Sowed?

As an atheist, I wonder frequently why so few Christians follow Jesus. That is, they belong to a church — but their church sees Jesus the way McDonald’s sees Ronald. He’s a mascot. He’s the “Do Unto Others” bait that they switch with “Do What We Tell You To Do — Or Else!” Institutional Christianity has no use for Jesus beyond his being a mascot. Jesus didn’t invent Christianity after all, Paul did. If Jesus were to rise from the dead and see the violence (much of it anti-Semitic!) that has been attributed to him, supposedly “inspired” by him and belief in him? His head might literally explode.

Religion gets to make up its rules as it goes along — and change them when they become inconvenient. That’s not a criticism, it’s just a fact. If science could play by those rules, it probably would. But, it can’t. Science relies on rigor. It needs the math to add up and check out. Consistently. Science, for instance, understands that there’s no magic. The carbon we pour into the environment today won’t disappear just because that’d be more convenient for us. Pandemics don’t disappear just because we want them to either.

And, every time we meet with a friend — even with masks on — just because we’re convinced neither of us has or will give the coronavirus to each other? We’re gambling. We’re playing Russian Roulette (ironically) with a pathogen.

Our sister sight Mulligan Jesus, has suggested that lots of Christians (if inside their own minds) see their Bibles more as a smorgasbord line than a book on which to base their lives. How’s the adultery looking today? Fresh? I’ll overlook the fact that I shouldn’t do it then “because it’s so fresh!” How about greed or pride or any of the other sins that practicing Christianity is supposed to “cure one of”? All available. All waiting to be piled onto my plate. That’s why they adore their “Pick N Choose” Bibles — why pretend to follow rules you think are stupid — or that might could get in the way of you having a good time, doing whatever the hell you want, and getting whatever the hell YOU think you’re entitled to?

That’s the dirty, little secret every one of these Christians (as opposed to “followers of Jesus”) carries around in their tiny black hearts: they don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God. Gods, you see, don’t “do unto others” because no one — they believe — is good enough to “do unto them”. Gods do whatever the hell they want. Or, that is, they think they can.

With the Republicans coup attempt, we are witnessing this behavior writ large. Republicans long ago reimagined themselves as “The White Guy’s Party”. They cannot abide the idea of Black people, brown people or women having authority over them (never mind governing). And just as these Christians pick n choose what they “believe in” from their Bibles, they pick n choose what laws from our Constitution they want to follow (if for the moment). You know — like someone who thought they were “God” might do.

“The Party Of Personal Responsibility” is always first to avoid it. Quick thought experiment — if Barack Obama (or anyone in his administration) had said what Michael Flynn said last night, inciting sedition against a winning Republican presidential candidate, what do you think would have happened to him? Kinda makes one think the whole “Party of Personal Responsibility” thing was always horse shit. Ain’t that shocking…

The Catholic Church protecting child molesters didn’t exactly surprise anyone — except for the extent of child abuse and its acceptance within the church. And is anyone truly caught off guard when scumbags like Jerry Falwell, Jr. get outed for the frauds they are? We all recognize that religiosity breeds deceit because it breeds judgment. If you perceive yourself to be more “God-like” in your behavior while others are “demonic”, you’re probably going to cast all your actions in the best possible light (regardless of the truth).

The reason so many “devout Christians” hate to reap what they sow is because they never intended to reap it. They expected someone else to get suck with their diseased crops. You know — like the man they think God “made” president — Donald Trump — always does.

I bet if Trump spoke the words “Do unto others”, he’d actually burst into flames — or melt like the Nazi at the end of “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”. That’s why he’d say — under his breath to protect himself: “…before they do unto you.” That’s the Trumpist’s creed.

Conservatives vs Progressives Can Be Summed Up As “Me vs We”

Trumpism is conservatism on steroids (plus copious amounts of snorted powdered Adderall). If one had to sum up Trumpism in one word, it’d be “me”. “Me” is the one country Donald Trump has fealty toward. Well, “Me” and Vlad Putin. But that’s not ideological fealty. Trump isn’t loyal to Putin because he believes in “Putinism”. Rather, it’s the fealty that a crime boss (Putin) demands from his underlings and capos (Trump). “Me” is the core weakness Putin holds over Trump. Putin is exploiting Trump’s absolute adoration of “Me”, Trump’s willingness to indulge “Me”, make “Me” richer even if doing it is illegal or downright treasonous.

Trumpism = Me-ism. And now, so, too do Republicanism and conservatism.

To be fair to conservatives, they do come by their Me-ism honestly. That is, it’s completely organic to who they are. Conservatives love the Libertarian notion of the “rugged individualist” — that “I alone can fix it” guy. They all see themselves as “rugged individualists”. This dovetails nicely with the conservative, institutionalist idea of religion — a neat twist that turns “Do unto others” into “Do what we say or else”. Conservatives all claim to know God’s will better than you (so you better shut up!) That’s because conservatives don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God. So, how could anyone be the “boss of them”?

See how that works?

Conservatives, as their names says, want to conserve. Fair enough. The next logical question: WHAT do conservatives want to “conserve”? Since one can’t conserve the future (it doesn’t exist yet), one is left conserving the present which means conserving the past since that’s what the present reflects — what’s left of the past. THAT is what conservatives want desperately to conserve — as much of the past conserved in the present as possible. Why? Was the past better?

For them, yes. Yes, it was. In the past, conservative values (white, Christian, male) dominated all conversations. “All men are created equal” didn’t mean “all men”. It didn’t mean “all people” either.

For conservatives, the past was infinitely better than they fear the future might be. Which is why they resist change. And progress. Change and progress are antithetical to conservatives and conservatism. That’s not a rap or a judgment. It’s simply a fact. It’s part of the DNA of any conservative argument — resistance to change because of a preference for how it was before.

“How it was before” is a problem for Progressives because “how it was before” was racist, bigoted, misogynist and ignorant. And it’s entirely antithetical to democracy because the majority of Americans aren’t those things. We keep voting against those things but getting the opposite result. It’s like someone was constantly getting in the way of change — of the progress toward real fairness, real justice and a truly level playing field that the majority of Americans want.

Donald Trump pointed out a basic truth that every Republican knows: when more Americans vote, they vote against Republicans and for Democrats because they don’t want what Republicans are selling. Democracy is a marketplace of ideas. In the binary marketplace that is American Democracy, more Americans want to buy Progressive ideas than conservative ideas: a vigorous social safety net, socialized medical CARE (not insurance; insurance doesn’t provide care, it’s a payment mechanism for it) that won’t bankrupt a person (or their family) just because they got sick, UBI, a healthy climate, women’s and minority rights, full LGBTQ participation in American life, a clear separation between Church and State. As Trump put it, if every American voted, Republicans would never win another election.

Exactly so, Donald, exactly so. It’s a testament to how good most Americans are. We want our individual rights respected. But we also recognize that there will always be a dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. If not everyone in the “we” is getting the same “me” treatment? Then it’s like NONE of “we” is getting the “me” treatment. We can’t be truly free until we’re ALL free. Otherwise, we’re just pretending to be “free”.

Even the nature of our protests is different. Most Progressives protests were masked and, at least, had the pandemic’s toll and impact in its head.

Conservative protests?

They’re masked when they must be but you can see “You’re not the boss of me!” burning in their eyes. They’re armed to the teeth. They’re not there to protect anything — other than the scared little boy inside them. As Kyle Rittenhouse was shooting those two UNARMED protesters to death, was he striking blows for freedom? Or was he, down deep, saying “Eff you, man, you’re not taking away whatever it is that I’m so desperately afraid of losing!”

The reason most conservatives fear “we” is because it doesn’t look like them — or what they think “me” should look like: Northern European white people. Christian. Rich.

That’s what conservatives think “American Exceptionalism” is. Them. And their money. They couldn’t be more wrong. American Exceptionalism is spelled out in our motto: “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. Out of many, one. America is the product of diversity. That’s the “PLURIBUS”. The “UNUM” isn’t a bunch of unums making one giant “unum”, it’s an unum borne of the pluribus. “We” has always been essential to the American ideal.

Our mistake thus far has been that we’ve EXCLUDED so many Americans FROM that ideal. Good thing We The People stepped in at the very last second to pluck our democracy back from the selfish, greedy, corrupt conservatives who, frankly, never had much use for it anyway.

There will always be dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. That’s not a bad thing. It’s baked in to our experiment in human self-government. Our duty is to keep the tasting spoon handy. Don’t let the mix get TOO “we” (that will undermine the “me” and we don’t want to do that either).

Maybe we need to reframe our differences. Maybe conservatism isn’t the political opposite of progressivism. Maybe conservatism is an island unto itself. What if we think of “moderation” as the political opposite of progressivism. Rather than “forward v backwards”, what if we thought of the future in terms of “forward v forward with greater deliberation”? After all, whether we like it or not, the future is coming at us. We will face problems in the future that we haven’t even considered yet.

If we don’t anticipate them — by building the future into our plans — then we’ll be caught out when the future arrives. Kinda like the Trump White House prepared America for the pandemic.

See? We are living in a live “Me v We” test tube. “Me” thinking produces sickness and death. “We” thinking does not.

Like there’s really a choice here?

If We Were Honest With Ourselves, We’d Admit That Alcohol And Pandemics Simply Do Not Mix

Pandemics don’t sit well with social creatures. Covid19 would be a lot easier to beat if humans were more like snow leopards — exceptional at self-isolating from other snow leopards. But, humans mostly crave each others’ company. We like socializing. We especially like drinking while socializing. Sometimes, in fact, we like the drinking more than we even like the socializing. If we socialized without drinking, we’d feel like we didn’t really quite “socialize” properly. Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with either self-medicating or self-medicating together. But the last thing we need is a “medicine” (alcohol) that makes us more susceptible to a pathogen by encouraging stupid behavior.

I stopped drinking alcohol four years ago. I didn’t mean to. The mood stabilizer I started taking to treat a suicidal depression gives all alcohol a terrible, grapefruit skin-like aftertaste. Even a big, inky red loaded with fruit and depth suddenly became grapefruit skin on the finish. Given the choice between not being suicidally depressed and not drinking alcohol because of the aftertaste, I turned my back on a collection of lovely reds, single malt scotches and all sorts of interesting alcohols. I walked away from bracing, ice cold gin martinis and sumptuously malty IPAs. I didn’t just drink alcohol, I savored it. I collected it. I celebrated it.

These days, I self medicate almost exclusively with cannabis. I could not be happier. Literally.

Being a non-drinker opened my eyes to both my own excessive drinking and — sorry, guys — everyone else’s too. Don’t take this personally. It’s just a stone cold fact: you all drink too much. You think about alcohol too much. You don’t appreciate how much it impacts you because you haven’t the (non-drinker’s) perspective. It’s fascinating to go to a bar or party (back when we used to do things like that) and, over the course of a few hours, watch everyone you’re with become less coherent. Or worse. I can’t tell you how many times, over the last four years, I’ve watched friends and loved ones become painfully silly the more they drank and thought “There but for the grace of alcohol go I”.

We know this to be true: the more alcohol you drink, the more your motor skills diminish. The more your thoughts blur together. The more your emotions — anger especially — spark to life. Alcohol obliterates our capacity to edit ourselves. In vinas veritas? Bullshit. In vinas stuff you shouldn’t say. Not because it’s “true” but because however you’re going to say it, you’re going to say it inelegantly. You’re not going to articulate the nuances of your feelings, you’re going to take a huge emotional dump all over the person you’re focused on.

How much trouble has alcohol caused at sporting events around the world? How much rioting? How many championship celebrations have morphed into street violence? Take alcohol out of those equations and — I betcha — those equations all end differently.

Imagine for a second that instead of serving alcohol at sporting events they served cannabis. Think there’d be any violence at the end of a soccer match? Hell, no! Cannabis doesn’t work in our brains the same way alcohol does. Not even remotely. Ever see gangs of people hopped up on cannabis rioting? No? There’s a reason for that. Cannabis does not compel you to do anything like that.

Cannabis (especially sativas) focus the mind while drenching you in feelings of mild euphoria. One can appreciate nuances of the game one would miss on alcohol. And there’s no anger. Oh, yeah, sure — if your team’s playing badly, it’s not nearly as much fun as when your team’s winning. But a stadium filled with fans high on pot would never turn violent. They might hug each other a little too tightly. They might praise each other a little too effusively. They might be asleep.

I had the pleasure of going (only once unfortunately) to LA’s first cannabis cafe. It was awesome. At the time I went they didn’t serve alcohol; I’m not sure if that ever changed; I hope it didn’t. A couple of quick takeaways: the most striking thing to me was how the place sounded. For starters, the profit-driving product for sale wasn’t alcohol — served in glasses — it was cannabis — served in joints or as ground flower or concentrate. One heard lighters flicking a lot. But very little clinking of glass. Cocktails weren’t be mixed. Beer bottles weren’t being opened. Toasts weren’t being made.

And what happens after the drinking begins — that wasn’t happening either as my friend Johnny and I sat there, enjoying first the giant sativa joint we bought to share and then a very good lunch: people getting louder. People getting high on cannabis may laugh a lot more — and there was abundant laughter in the room (joyful, delighted, high-as-a-kite laughter), but no one got boisterous the way alcohol makes people boisterous. Cannabis, by contrast, draws people inward.

They get a little quieter actually, more thoughtful. Johnny and I — the THC from the sativa (I don’t recall what strains were blended into it) drenching our brains — had a very good, very intense conversation about what we were experiencing. We couldn’t help noticing how many of the tables around us were doing the same thing — in the same normal tone of voice. That’s the thing, ya see: unless you’re (deliberately) wasted? Most people on cannabis don’t change much from when they’re NOT on cannabis.

So — the Cannabis Cafe was quieter because less glass clinking, more conversation using indoor voices exclusively, more focus and euphoria. Cannabis, by the way, makes food taste awesome. And the menu was created with a clear understanding of the ways pot makes you hungry and what it makes you hungry for. The Korean tacos would have been good anyway. On pot, they were transcendently good.

One other relevant observation. The cafe has a parking lot right next to it — with valet service. Johnny and I both parked on the street and walked a half block or so to the cafe. When our ninety minutes were done (that’s all the time you get — there’s a line of people waiting for your table after all), Johnny and I paid our bill and headed for the door. Like everyone else, we’d just spent 90 minutes eating and getting high.

Just outside the cafe’s front door, Johnny and I watched the other diners get their keys from the valet, climb into their cars and drive off. Johnny and I then said our good-byes (and how much we enjoyed ourselves) and headed off to our cars — which we both got into and drove off. Having — all of us — just smoked dope. Know how many traffic accidents happened just outside the cafe (as “high” drivers, oblivious because they’d smoked weed turned into oncoming traffic)? Zero.

There’s a reason. Alcohol and THC do not act on our brains the same way. Though we treat them like they do, they simply do not. While alcohol impairs your motor skills almost from the get-go, THC doesn’t. There’s data from the National Highway Transportation that makes the point. It states in fact:

“…Most marijuana-intoxicated drivers show only modest impairments on actual road tests.3738 Experienced smokers who drive on a set course show almost no functional impairment under the influence of marijuana, except when it is combined with alcohol.”

It does not matter how experienced a drinker you are. You will always be impaired by a certain amount of alcohol. It’s just math — and blood-alcohol chemistry. The same simply is not true of marijuana.

Hell, I take a hit or two of Durban Poison (a wonderful classic sativa) before playing tennis because it improves my timing. The THC slows my thought process down (I’m hypomanic) just enough so I can focus on the ball. I see it far better WITH the THC in me than without. I know where I have to be to put the ball where I want it to go. Another benefit I’ve noticed? My timing is better because I become more “coachable”.

I listen to myself. I make the necessary adjustments in order to play better. And then I do.

Alcohol, by contrast, causes terrible decision-making. People say things they shouldn’t. They have sex they shouldn’t have with people they shouldn’t have sex with. They get into their cars and turn on the ignition.

Or they go out drinking with friends during a pandemic.

If there was more of me and less of you, I’d try to stage an intervention on your behalf. Alas, there’s not so I can’t. I totally get our obsession with drinking. It used to be my obsession. But, these days, if I get hurt or die in a drunk driving accident, I know going in I won’t be the cause. Neither will my medication. I can’t control drunk drivers.

Neither can I control assholes who won’t wear a mask. I wouldn’t even try.

They’re probably drunk.

Since “Republican” Now Equals “Trump”, Non-Trumpist Republicans Need To Re-Brand; I’m Here To Help

As much as they suck at governing, Republicans excel at marketing. Remember “Mission Accomplished”? The only thing “accomplished” was hanging that banner. While Americans vote with their hopes and dreams, Republicans only ever deliver smoke and mirrors. Missions UNaccomplished. Skies NOT blue. Plenty of children left behind. The words promise plenty. Too bad they’re all as hollow as Donald Trump’s heart. Hollow because corrupt — and corruption is what binds Trump to each and every Republican.

The fact is, Trump epitomizes Republicanism, its every cynical, greedy, power-mad excess cranked up to eleven. That’s why Republicans — and the republic — are now hurtling toward the mission Republicans have ALWAYS wanted to accomplish: a state of permanent minority rule. Republicans are about to learn a harsh, harsh lesson. The criminal mojo that worked for Trump his whole life is about to stop working.

For four years, every Republican benefited from the fact that Trump gets away with everything by themselves getting away with almost everything. The thing is, those around Trump did NOT get away with everything like Trump does because they’re NOT Trump. Republicans have forgotten: what worked for him would never work for anyone else. Without Trump — and his corrupt, befuddling sorcery — the backstop Republicans have grown accustomed to is gone. They just don’t realize it yet.

But Trump does. He’s even said it in private, back stage. He’s worried about going to jail and he bloody well should be. Because he IS going to jail. One way or another. And the process that puts him in jail will be as highly entertaining as it is revelatory.

We’ve forgotten ourselves how the world works when we have even a semi-functional Department of Justice — that’s how perverted our view of justice has become with Bill Barr at the DoJ’s helm. In addition to attacking the pandemic head on as they hit the ground, Team Biden also must attack corruption head on because corruption threatens the effort to attack the pandemic.

Even with some in the American news media still determined that “both sides do it”, most Americans — the majority of us — see clearly that, really, only ONE SIDE “does it”. Only one side made Donald Trump their candidate and thus their standard-bearer. Only one side made a Devil’s bargain with Russia — and Russian money — in order to win the 2016 election. Only one side has resisted oversight with religious zeal — as if they had something to hide. Only one side refuses still to acknowledge the decision We The People just made about our future leadership.

To call oneself a “Republican” now is to call oneself a “Trumpist”. That won’t change tomorrow. In fact, the fact that Republicans made themselves the Party Of Trump is going to be the brush all future political campaigns paint all future Republicans with. If they WANT to be “The Party Of Trump”, they’re good to go! Voters will understand their choice. But if a Republican wants voters to see them as something other than a Trumpist?

You can’t “call yourself” a Trumpist and not expect people to think you’re a Trumpist. Regardless of whatever nuances YOU apply to the word, the rest of us see zero nuance. We only see Trump. Ask the Coca Cola company what happens when you try to nuance “Coke” with “New”. However the Coca Cola company perceived themselves or wanted their customers to perceive them — they got the opposite. They got confusion — and then anger, resentment and customers turning to Pepsi or RC.

The “Republican” brand is about to be as dead as the “Whig” brand. The problem: we still need those people we used to call “Republicans”. Not the Trumpists, of course, the normal people. We still need their voices of moderation to counter balance ours — which are about to send the country heading hard to the left. Rest assured, whatever resistance Mitch McConnell thinks he’s going to present will be undermined by Mitch’s legal problems. He’s not going to be worried about blocking anything Joe Biden’s doing; he is going to be worried about saving his own bony, white, Treason Turtle ass.

Also — I believe we’re going to learn that all the Republican-manufactured voting machines (the voting machine manufacturers are all Republicans, Republican donors and their boards are all loaded with Republican politicians) have been padding Republican vote totals for YEARS. When a fully functioning Department of Justice begins pulling the thread of Republican Corruption, that garment will unravel faster than a Trumpian lie. We will see Trump, the Republican Party, the Republican leadership and Republicanism bare-assed naked.

Every revelation about greed, corruption, cynicism — and especially treason — will sledgehammer the Republican Brand further. By the time we get to the 2022 mid-terms, Team Biden will have 1) mitigated the worst of the pandemic, 2) eased the economic hurt most Americans are now feeling, 3) restored order and rational thinking to our political process and 4) begun to uncover whole mountains of criminal behavior. To call oneself a “Republican” while running for office would be like saying “Hey, never mind that I may be a criminal myself — since I run with criminals — vote for ME!”

In an environment where integrity and caring about the Commonweal are the norm, good people will want to be perceived as having integrity and caring.

All those good, former-Republicans are going to need a new brand to describe themselves to the American voter. I have a helpful suggestion. A real one.

The problem with calling yourselves “conservative” is that the word gives away too much. As a Progressive, my politics are all geared toward progress — toward meeting the future’s challenges head on with new, outside-the-box solutions. Conservatives are no different. Their politics are all geared toward “conserving” — just like their name says.

The question is “WHAT do conservatives want to conserve?” Obviously it can’t be the future. You can’t conserve what isn’t. Conservatives want to conserve what IS. How we are now — because it still holds on to the bits of how we WERE that conservatives REALLY want to conserve. Ask any conservative what they want to conserve and, ultimately, they’ll reveal that the thing they want to keep alive is the past.

Tradition’s important and all but — in a rapidly changing world, tradition can be dangerous because it’s based on old knowledge that new knowledge might contradict. If they try to bleed you in a hospital emergency room? Say no! Their medical text books are out of date.

And, really, these moderate Republicans aren’t conservatives anyway. Most of them are social Progressives with a Methodist’s view of money. Circumstances — a dissolving economy — are going to force Progressive solutions on us. The cash Team Biden will use to flood the economy is very much a form of Universal Basic Income. We’ll witness ourselves how cash flowing America from the bottom up works far, FAR better than trickling money down from the top ever could work. Even after we’ve wrestled the pandemic to the ground, more pandemics are coming; we have no idea what pathogens a thawing permafrost will release. In a world where we’re as healthy as the least healthy among us — it only takes one person to start a pandemic raging (hello, COVID19!), socialized medicine can’t be a pipe dream. It needs to be a fact of life.

Yes, yes, yes — what Progressives like me want to do will be expensive. Americans will pay more in taxes at the end of the day. But they’ll get something valuable for the money. And the wealthy will pay far more than they do now because they can afford to but — more importantly — because it is their obligation as citizens of this country. Don’t like the responsibility? You don’t have to be a citizen. You can take your chances with your money elsewhere.

Hey, though Trump paid virtually no taxes to America, he obligingly paid hefty taxes to China — because he feared what would happen if he DIDN’T pay his taxes to China.

See? How does the other side counter “corruption” arguments? “Be more conservative” won’t sell. How about “Let’s be more moderate”?

Moderation may not be progress’s diametric opposite (regress), but it is the perfect alternative to “Let’s Do This Now!” Moderation says “Let’s take a deep breath and make sure we’re making the right decision for the most people”. There’s nothing wrong with making Progressives bring their receipts with them. By all means — please check our work. Hell, I bet that while checking our work, these new “moderate former-Republicans” will innovate solutions that Progressives didn’t think of. Those solutions may not get Progressives everything they want but then welcome to democracy.

America is best when it’s moderates are most dynamic — when they’re taking the best ideas and knitting them together into workable solutions. And think how sensible “moderation” will sound going forward. Calling oneself “Moderate” — or “The Moderation Party” would be a bold, direct announcement of who these former Republicans are. With its mission statement baked into its name, a “Moderation Party” would be incredibly attractive to a lot of Americans.

Maybe there’s a better, sexier word than “moderate”. It won’t cut to the end of the chase like “moderate” does. Conservatives won’t go away any time soon though their numbers will dwindle as conservatism takes residual damage from Republicanism’s fall. Ironically, their voice will sound increasingly extreme, making moderation — or a “Moderation Party” that much more sane-sounding.

Please, at least take my suggestion under consideration, moderates. Call yourselves something other than “Republican”. Most of you already do call yourselves something different — “Former Republican”. Let’s find you something you can be proud to call yourselves not as a reaction but as a statement of faith and purpose.

This Progressive is happy to say out loud: We need YOU.