It’s 4/20 — Here’s Why I Celebrate Having Cannabis In My Life

It tickles the hell out of me that marijuana has its own day in our collective consciousness. It tickles the hell out of me that I have the relationship with cannabis that I do — and I do have a “relationship” with cannabis. I use it from the start of my day to the very end of it. I rely on sativas to get my brain focused and indicas to make my brain stop focusing so I can sleep. That sleep, by the way, is the best sleep I’ve ever had and I am a terrible sleeper. Or, I used to be. I’ll get to how cannabis changed my relationship with sleeping I also use cannabis when I’m in between work and sleep — when I’m just “being”. Mostly hybrids fill those spaces. I’ve done my share of cocaine. I know what that “needling” feeling is — the edgy “c’mon, c’mon!” inside your head that wants you to tap out another line and snort it — screw it — tap out everything ya got! There’s no urgency to my cannabis usage over the course of a day. It’s more like… the “thought” of recharging the high crosses my mind like a hot air balloon rising in the distance. Hmm, I think, that might be nice — and off I go. I don’t spend my day chasing a high. That’s no way to have a relationship. That’s why having a relationship with cannabis works for me. I always feel like cannabis is meeting me halfway.

Stone cold fact. Our brains like cannabinoids. In fact, our brains make their own kind of cannabinoid, endocannabinoid. One little squabble with the source — they use the word “disrupting” to describe the effect THC has on our brains and the resulting mental and physical functions. That’s true in the broadest possible sense — THC changes the normal pattern of events inside your brain. Here’s where subjective experience speaks far, far louder than any data set from a lab. It’s why cannabis is being legalized so swiftly across the nation and why those standing in the way look stupider and stupider. THC effects every person’s brain chemistry in its own way. There are people who can’t tolerate having THC in their brains. Fair enough. This product is not for them. I can’t tolerate cilantro or tarragon, two other herbs. For those of us who can tolerate THC, the majority of us experience very similar things when we smoke the same strains of marijuana. Our collective experience of cannabis wouldn’t use the world “disrupting” to describe what’s happening inside our heads when the THC starts to work. In fact, “disrupting” might be the last word we’d use.

I can only speak for my own experience and what THC does for me. I don’t use edibles often. They’re a little harder to predict both in terms of effect and longevity of effect. Not that the effect would be negative. It’s just that, with smoking as a THC delivery system, I have far more control over every aspect of using the product. I just like that better — for our “relationship”, I mean. I guess I should tell you how me and pot ended up so tight in the end.

The first time I ever did pot was at my cousin’s bachelor party when I was 16. I think the testosterone in the room had more impact on me than did the THC in the ditch weed. THC levels back then were both unknown and far lower than now. I didn’t smoke anything when I was a kid. Never touched tobacco. I hate the smell of tobacco smoke. Hated that my parents smoked (they quit in large part because of my and my sisters’ loathing of it). The one thing I know that first encounter with marijuana did to me was put me to sleep. Yeah, I passed out because of the pot just as the stripper arrived.

That’s what pot did to me the few times I tried it after that all through high school and college: it put me to sleep. Coke appealed because it did the opposite. Ecstasy was awesome the dozen or so times I did it. Shrooms! I did them once with my friend Johnny Solomon just before a U2 concert we attended with our wives here in LA — at the Coliseum in 1987 and I’d do them again right this very second without so much as a thought. The last drug on my radar as I slid into middle age was marijuana — even as I continued to live in a state where it slowly became legalized. I always thought, “Yeah, of course dope should be legal! The Drug War is bullshit to begin with!” But, I didn’t think, “Hey, I live in a state where dope’s legal — I should be smoking it therefore!”

For reasons I won’t go into here, I found myself toward the tail end of a deep, dark depression. This was before I was diagnosed as bi-polar with episodes of hypomania. Years of worries about money had exacerbated an underlying emotional issue. Sleep had become a nightly struggle. I used OTC sleep meds for years and years pretty much on a nightly basis — and I took those pretty much every night on top of the ridiculous amounts of alcohol I was consuming. I’d “awaken” in the morning feeling unrested and unready to face the day, already mentally exhausted. Finally, I came to my senses. I live in California. I was over eighteen (by a thousand miles). My insomnia was an acceptable symptom with which to walk into a doctor’s office — well, those doctors who prescribed.

So, off I went — a little trepidatious, I admit. The doctor and doctor’s office were, frankly, seedy. Though every bit of this was regulated, the experience made legal cannabis feel deeply connected to its time as an outlaw. The doctor took his fee, wrote my prescription and off I went again — to my first marijuana dispensary. That, too, felt shady back then (this was 2015) between the gates and the buzzers and the scowling security guards. But, my first budtender was enthusiastic and very helpful to this total newbie.

“Insomnia”, I said.

“Skywalker,” he replied.

Inside my head, I smirked: “Cute name,” I thought, assuming — not knowing a damned thing about the business I was about to become acquainted with — that “Skywalker” was this dispensary’s cute name for the cannabis that was sitting in this large jar. All the large jars had names on them. I had no idea that those names had lives beyond this pot shop. I took that Skywalker home and, that night, I smoked it outside my house after everyone else had gone to bed so my kids wouldn’t know what I was doing (one was in high school, the other in middle school). The wooziness came on slowly. Skywalker’s an indica; their impact, in general, comes on more slowly than a sativa’s does. I went to sleep and woke up the next morning feeling more rested than I had in a decade at least.

When the exact thing happened the very next night? That changed everything. I stopped caring whether my kids knew I was smoking pot every night to get to sleep. We lived in California, for Christ’s sake! Most of their friends were smoking pot or vaping. As my first buy of Skywalker began to run out — and a return visit to the Silver Lake Care Givers loomed — a question had begun to form in my head: I now knew what the pot in the Skywalker jar could do for ME. There were sooooo many other jars (two dozen total!) Did all the marijuana in those jars do the very same thing? Or did they do something different?

Turned out, they did both. It depended on what strain of cannabis was inside the jar. For the record — hybridization has hit most of the legal cannabis we use. That said, there are pure sativas and pure indicas. Depending on strength (a combination of THC level and terpene content), a pure sativa can reliably focus your thoughts while a pure indica… it’s complicated. One can experience a period of mental activity where suddenly a thought blossoms and you find yourself thinking it in an expanding way — until a wave of relaxation comes over you and suddenly, you couldn’t care less about any of that fancy thinking of a few minutes ago. You’d like to curl up on the couch or in bed and surrender to the most delicious feeling of wooziness imaginable. Hybrids capture elements of its parent strain’s effects. The head buzz they produce will usually lean toward the more dominant parent strain.

On subsequent visits to my first dispensary, I began to explore all those other jars. I also began to explore other dispensaries not out of disloyalty but because I’d discovered that different dispensaries had different strains on hand and the more I began to experiment with different strains — sativas, hybrids and indicas — the more I began to discover the nuantial differences between them all — effects that were absolutely discernible. Repeatable every time I smoked the same strain.

By then, I had learned that names like “Skywalker” weren’t local. Strain names were like brands. Or, like wine varietals. That’s how I started to think of them all — like cabernet sauvignon clones, each with their own distinct characteristics that cold be “utzed” this way or that by the person growing them. Being a natural product, cannabis can be manipulated, its qualities heightened. The evolving cannabis business, it struck me, was evolving of necessity away from its “I don’t know what’s in the baggie” mentality to something more “corporate”. For cannabis to succeed as a business, its customers needed to experience the product more like they’d experience a Big Mac. In theory, the Big Mac “experience” here in LA is the same Big Mac “experience” anywhere. A Big Mac is a Big Mac. And Skywalker, in theory, is Skywalker.

That pans out mostly. It’s why reliable growers and sellers will win and the old way of doing things will lose. Hey, there’s money to be made. A lot of money. Once everyone stops stumbling over their greed and the old way of thinking of cannabis, America and then the world will realize and accept the terrible mistake we all made illegalizing this thing. We’ve spent incalculable amounts of money prosecuting people for using something that does far less harm to its users than alcohol or even saturated fats in our food. We’ve destroyed millions of lives for no reason. I recommend Blunt Truths, the 13 part, 25,0000 word series I wrote for Weedmaps News (and, he’ll know what this means – Nicolas Juarez, you should be ASHAMED of yourself, you effing thief!) about the true story of marijuana prohibition. Racism and nothing but caused it to happen.

The whole reason I got to write that series is because a journalist friend (who’d been let go by the then shrinking LA Times) had been hired to create a legitimate news division for Weedmaps. By then, I’d immersed myself in cannabis and had become an advocate within my large social circle. By coincidence, years and years ago, I had tried to sell the story of Harry Anslinger and how he forced marijuana prohibition upon us as a TV movie to HBO. Given the chance suddenly to a deeper — journalistic — dive into the subject? I jumped. And I learned things that opened my mind even wider to what cannabis was, what it had done for people and what it could do for me.

That is what I celebrate most of all about cannabis and the fact that I can legally use it whenever, however I like. Cannabis DOES THINGS for me. Not “to” me, but FOR me. Several cannabis companies — the Canndescent Company is one — approach their product lineups in that exact way. They make proprietary blends using proprietary strains to create specific effects. That is the exactly right way to think of cannabis: what specifically do I want it to for me right now?

And so — I start my day with sativas: Durban Poison delivers a clear, bright beam of mental focus you can apply to anything. I use it to write (with great specificity). I use it to play tennis, too. I’ve experimented with other sativas on the tennis court and found the focus they produced was too fine for tennis. Being such a subjective experience, it’s hard to describe but through trial and error, I discovered that a hit of DP either before or while playing will, within minutes of my smoking the DP, improve my game perceptibly. It doesn’t go from being shitty to good. I play well. But, with DP in my brain, everything slows down. If I focus, I can see the fuzz on the tennis ball before I hit it. My timing becomes precise. My inner player hears my inner coach and complies precisely. THC does not impair one’s motor skills. It doesn’t. It’s not alcohol.

Plenty of people drive with plenty of THC in them. Try as they might to produce data that says THC impairs driving, the data simply won’t go along with them. People with THC in them, it turns out, stay within the speed limit, stay within their lanes and drive safely. That’s both compared to drunk drivers and to drivers in general.

I recommend reading this study. Oh, they desperately want to say that cannabis impairs driving but the data itself keeps fighting them. The analysis of why people with THC in them drive more carefully wants to believe the THC users are overcompensating for their being high rather than just being able to drive more carefully BECAUSE OF the THC in them. The researchers’ bias is clear — but the data overcomes it regardless. Here’s a small sample of what I mean —

3.3.1 Culpability studies — 3.3.1.1 Studies that do not show culpability

Some reviewers have concluded that there is no evidence that cannabis alone increases the risk of culpability for crashes, and may actually reduce risk.66 Drummer’s review of blood samples of traffic fatalities in Australia found that drivers testing positive for marijuana were actually less likely to have been judged responsible for the accident.67 Several other studies have found no increase in crash risk with cannabis.6870 Williams’ California study of 440 male traffic accident deaths found that while alcohol use was related to crash culpability, cannabis use was not.71 Terhune’s study of 1882 motor vehicle deaths calculated an OR of 0.7 for cannabis use, 7.4 for alcohol use, and 8.4 for cannabis and alcohol use combined.68 Lowenstein and Koziol-McLain’s study of 414 injured drivers admitted to a Colorado E/R found an OR of 1.1, indicating that marijuana use was not associated with increased crash responsibility.

The reason Black musicians like King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong took up marijuana smoking is because they realized, having tried the drug, that while no one can write music or play music when drunk (and trying to do anything on heroin is impossible), that’s not the case with marijuana. With THC in your brain, suddenly you think more. You hear more and see more. And one can articulate what one’s thinking or hearing or seeing. Food tastes amazing. Your senses really and truly do come alive. Biochemically, the THC is causing more of the synapses in your brain to fire. You’re experiencing more thought — processing more information. That’s why some people feel paranoid. The THC is increasing their “awareness” and sometimes, to some people, that hyper awareness can produce feelings of paranoia.

For the rest of us — fortunately — instead of paranoia, we feel wonderful! That’s the bottom line where cannabis is concerned. It conveys a feeling of euphoria and in this freakin’ world? Euphoria’s a blessing. It doesn’t cover up the pervasive rottenness of our time but it does make the rottenness endurable. Fact: if we stopped selling alcohol at sporting events and sold only cannabis instead (along with all the food and soft drinks), there would NEVER be violence at the end of a sporting event ever again. City blocks wouldn’t suddenly find themselves aflame because the local sports team won a championship. Fistfights between competing fans would not happen. That’s not what cannabis does to anyone.

Instead, sportsmanship would reign. Teams that had been competing would be shaking hands — as they do. But, so would the fans in the stands. Cannabis causes people to bond, to want to hug each other and talk. It makes people more social, not more anti-social. And people high on cannabis don’t puke all over the place. They don’t have to empty their beer-filled bladders repeatedly. They don’t pass out in puddles of their own vomit. Oh, pot users may well “pass out” — but, if they do fall asleep, they’re not unconscious. No one has ever died from smoking too much pot as they have from drinking too much alcohol. People smoking dope don’t regularly engage in drunken sex that they’re not sure whether they actually had they were so “blotto”.

When I finally dealt with my depression, the mood stabilizer I started taking gave all alcohol a grapefruit skin-like aftertaste. Unintended but a fact of life if I was going to beat my depression. I stopped drinking — which wasn’t doing my depression any good anyway. I started smoking more marijuana instead. The THC, it turned out, moderated my hypomania just fine. That’s why I’ve maintained my marijuana prescription. I really do think of cannabis as a legitimate medicine.

And I think of it as the best work aid in the world. And the best sleep aid in the world. And the best chill agent in the world. It’s 4/20 — and I, for one, am celebrating cannabis all day — as I do every day. I can hardly wait for the whole rest of the country to be equally chill. Then the world.

And, no — I ain’t “high”.

Why Do American Men Turn To Guns To Solve Their Emotional Problems?

Adam Lanza

Another mass shooting in America — Eight murdered at a Fed Ex facility in Indianapolis — and the news media needs to know: “What’s the motive?” As if the gunman’s particular issue with the world would explain why he reacted exactly as he did. Our news media is good at wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth at these moments. But they’re guilty of giving credence to bullshit arguments. I’m old enough to remember when they’d regularly give climate science deniers equal time because, hey — they have a “point of view” so therefore because they have it, it must be valid. Here, as always, on one side is a majority of Americans who do not own guns and resent the fact that gun owners can’t keep their damned killing machines to themselves. On the other side are gun owners whose hair catches fire immediately because, damn it, as former NRA president Chuck Heston put it, we can try and pry their guns from their cold, dead fingers.

What is this mania to have guns in the first place? Yeah, sure — out in rural America, something or other. That seems to be the argument’s meat: we’re different. We’re threatened by neighbors who live miles away and by strangers we’ve never met. In case those zombie-people come, swarming by the dozens, those guns will be all that stands between us and the zombie apocalypse.

America’s gun problem is borderline intractable in large part because we’ve spent so long giving credence to bullshit arguments about guns. Rather than dismiss fears of marauders out of hand, we indulge this nonsense. We nod along to their white terror: “Oh, yes, of course it could happen — Black or brown people are probably plotting right this second to break into your house and eat your children for lunch. Have all the weaponry you want!” The data says that won’t happen. But — the data again — it could happen that one of those guns ends up killing someone who live in the house — by way of an accident or suicide or a moment of intra-familial rage.

That’s the other lie about guns that our news media happily propagates — that “responsible gun owners” don’t have these problems. There is no such thing as “responsible gun ownership”. Nancy Lanza thought she was a responsible gun owner until her son Adam shot her with her own legally purchased Bushmaster XM15 semi-automatic rifle before taking that weapon — and ten magazines with 30 rounds each to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Adam Lanza used a gun to resolve his emotional problems. Whatever was bothering him, he became convinced that the solution to it would spit from the muzzle of that Bushmaster.

Nobody turns a gun on other people — on strangers or on people they know — because they’re happy with them. You point a death machine — that’s what a gun is by design — at someone in order to threaten them. Do what they say or they’ll kill you with that gun. Gun violence killed 20,000 Americans last year. That’s a lot of anger. Another 24,000 Americans used guns to commit suicide. If the guns that were used to end those 44,000 lives hadn’t been available, how many of those people would still be here today? Most of them, that’s who — if not all of them.

Our gun laws all flow directly from our racism. If white people thought for two seconds that, say, Black people were arming themselves to the teeth the way white people already have? They’d re-write the gun laws just like that. Here’s my “let’s make a deal” to gun world: I’ll be honest if you will. Yes, in a perfect world, I admit it: I would insist that we carry out the Second Amendment to the letter. We’d arrange for a “well regulated militia” to formally take over the job of deciding who among the citizenry will be permitted to “keep” or “bear” the militia’s arms. The arms, you see, would BELONG to the militia; the word “own” doesn’t appear in the Second Amendment. Do you suppose that’s an accident? I don’t. The word “own” was perfectly good back then. Yet, strangely, they didn’t use that word to describe anyone’s relationship with a gun — as its “owner”.

Maybe the Constitution’s framers understood that some people couldn’t be trusted to have a gun in their hands. They might want to be in the militia but the militia wouldn’t want them; they’re nuts.

The whole tone of the gun rights argument smacks of emotional neediness. Virtually none of these people need their guns for “protection”. C’mon — I was honest — I said I’d take most guns. The other side needs to be honest, too: they need to confess why they REALLY feel threatened enough to “keep” a death machine within reach. What do they REALLY feel threatened by?

I write this as a suicide survivor. I tried to step in front of a bus. It seemed, in the moment, a sure thing. It wasn’t. Ah, but if I’d had a gun — I’d have been 2020’s suicide gun death number 24,001.

As Big Business Is Learning — When Your “Customer Base” Is The American Voter, YOU Are The Marketplace’s Bitch

It’s a brave new world for Delta Airlines. And Coca Cola. And Home Depot. And anyone doing business with the state of Georgia while Georgia is being run by democracy-hating traitors. Their problem: the marketplace is the ultimate democracy where people vote with the dollars in their pockets. Popular goods and services get more “votes” than unpopular ones (just like in high school). Even good ideas can die, unloved, if they can’t find (or maintain) their marketplace. Ask Sony about its Betamax video recorder which was technically superior to JVC’s VHS format yet ultimately lost out to in the marketplace. In the marketplace of ideas, JVC won big while Sony lost even bigger. The marketplace made Sony its bitch.

The assumption is, in a crony capitalist system like ours, the money always wins and We The People are only ever its pawn at best. While that is the goal of crony capitalism — to turn the whole country into a kind of glorified “company town” (itself a kind of glorified feudalism) — ironically, the “capitalism” part of the equation is what exposes crony capitalism’s Achilles heel. The whole point of capitalism is to make money dynamic because money didn’t always used to be dynamic like it is today. We take for granted that one can use money to make money but prior to capitialism’s invention, money sat in the same places with the same families forever and ever. Those families — Europe’s royal houses — did not think to “do” anything with their money. Money was land or livestock — or literal gold or silver — with no way to “bank” it. The only way to “grow” money was through direct lending — and lending money was considered unChristian. That’s why Jews got to do it (and be hated for it). Capitalism expanded the “acceptable ways” to both borrow money and profit from borrowing it.

Capitalism also made ideas valuable in a bankable sense. Thomas Edison’s inventions made him rich because he was able to patent them — an idea that recognized the inherent monetary value of good ideas. American democracy — as a salable idea — also has done very, very well. Despite four long years of Trumpism, people still flock to America — or want to because regardless of whatever squalor or hopelessness they live, their one shot out of that lies somewhere within America’s borders (regardless of who’s president). The core concept of America. “All men being equal” was compromised by what the founders meant by “All men”. That was always a terrible mistake, a product of European, male chauvinism.

Fortunately, time and history have begun to save America from itself. The E Pluribus Unum “Good Angel” of our nature has begun to assert itself over the “America Is The White Homeland” bad angel. That bad angel never knew what he was talking about. He still thinks he’s “American Exceptionalism” — well, the money in his pocket that’s always been there. Some of the founders understood that what would ultimately make America exceptional was the fact of its already burgeoning diversity. Nowhere before in the world had a nation formed itself with the promise of self-government. That idea coupled with the willingness of those arriving to work hard as hell to achieve their dreams made America exceptional by filling it with exceptional people from all over the world. That is American Exceptionalism.

For too, too long, all those exceptional people have been muzzled by the white, Christian males who somehow got it into their heads that they were the drivers of the American experiment. Yeah, it’s money that does the talking all right, but it’s not the big money that makes things happen. It’s the little money in every American’s pocket times the number of Americans there are. In American households, how one “votes” that money has been controlled by the household’s women for a while now. The proof? Remember Bill O’Reilly?

O’Reilly used to be Fox News’ cash cow. O’Reilly even survived some serious sexual intimidation allegations to stay at Fox (“Remember the loofah!”). But, at some point, O’Reilly’s sexist behavior achieved a kind of critical mass. The companies that advertised on his show were the canary in that coal mine. The advertisers informed Fox News that their clients — Coca Cola, Ford, Delta Airlines, etc — would no longer advertise on O’Reilly’s show because their customers — Coca Cola, Ford, Delta Airlines, etc — already recognized how much their customers hated O’Reilly and would soon enough stop buying products associated with him out of sheer disgust. Co-branding with Bill O’Reilly became toxic. The house of cards came down in a heartbeat — the 21st Century Fox Board informed O’Reilly he was now an ex-employee.

Big Business has always known who the “boss” is. That’s why they advertise, right? In the “who needs who more?” competition, in time, we can learn to love a competing brand. They can love “other customers” all they like. If those customers don’t buy, so what? Do boycotts work? Hell, yes. So does the threat of a boycott. That’s why the CEO’s of Coca Cola and Delta changed their tune so quickly. While both Coke and Delta have plenty of competition, they both have their market share — the customer base they think of as “theirs”. Take the brand loyalty out of a Coke drinker and you have a Pepsi drinker. Or a Royal Crown fan.

Is Coca Cola: The “Official Soft Drink” of Democracy or of Sedition?

As anyone who’s ever achieved success can tell you — yeah, getting to the mountain top is a job-and-a-half. But, it’s nothing compared to the relentless, quotidian grind of maintaining that success. Big Business craves monopoly because having a monopoly means you don’t have to spend much on marketing or product improvement while maximizing profits. They’d all love to turn America into a giant, feudal “company town”. Good thing some other Americans have a better idea.

Coke and Delta quickly changed their public stance regarding the Republican Party’s blatant attempt to make election theft legal. They felt Bill O’Reilly’s fetid breath on the back of their neck and they didn’t like it one bit.

We The People have considerable power in our hands but only if we use it. Unused power is power that doesn’t exist. It’s the ultimate “put up or shut up”. America’s right wing was so terrified of losing power that they were willing to co-conspire with Russia in order to keep that power. They had long ago given up on keeping power through the strength of their ideas. Aside from them, no one else wants to live in America circa 1850. The majority of Americans keep voting America toward progressivism while its political structures (the Electoral College and the Senate) keep America rooted in the past.

As more voters step from the sidelines and into the electoral game, America (once thought of as “center-right”) becomes increasingly center-left. We’re not actually “becoming” center-left, we’re being REVEALED as center-left. Not the same thing. The big difference between the left and the right has to do with emphasis. Are you “profits over people” or “people over profits”? Conservatives, for the most part, are profit-driven while progressives are people-driven. At the end of the day however, it’s people who drive profits. Take away the people, there’d be no profits.

As we all know, every time we walk into a crowded room (remember those), a game of “Who’s The Bitch” is up and running. Someone in that room is the room’s “bitch” — the one person there who literally everyone else looks down on. We all search that room, hoping like hell we don’t find ourselves staring back as the bitch. But, the painful truth is, it could be us.

Coke and Delta and Home Depot and all those other companies have finally realized that in the current environment, they’re not driving this bus. They’ve made the same old moves — talking “freedom” and “democracy” while paying for politicians bent on destroying them — only to discover too late that those moves don’t fool anyone anymore. Actions, not words, are the receipts. And We The People demand receipts!

Don’t have any receipts? You know how THAT game goes, Big Business, when you don’t have your damned receipt

A Constituency Of One

“I alone can fix it” was a tell. For starters, it ain’t true. No one alone can fix anything. Donald Trump with an army of followers couldn’t fix a damned thing though, all credit to him, he and his army of trolls came damned close to “fixing” our democracy for good (and the bastards are still at it!) Trump walked in the door compromised (as everyone who was anyone in the GOP’s leadership knew even before they made Trump their presidential nominee in 2016. “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” said current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy as he entered a room filled with GOP leadership a month before they made Trump their official nominee for POTUS in 2016, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!. The evangelical community forgave Trump — a man guilty of literally every mortal sin — because they saw a man as cravenly cynical as they are. The Right Wing money (the Kochs, the Mercers, Sheldon Adelstein and the lesser I Pillow acolytes) saw their last shot at installing a state of permanent minority rule under Trump’s tin pot authoritarianism — a country Trump indeed “fixed” (though not alone) — all in service of his true constituency, himself — his Constituency Of One.

What is this madness? Where does this mania — this conviction that one person is the sun, the moon, the stars, the alpha, the omega and everything in between — come from? It sure as hell doesn’t come from reality. And it sure as hell isn’t healthy (our current situation being the data set). Some people, to this day, ache to be ruled by a king chosen by God. By “God”, they mean the stern, unsmiling, unforgiving (except of them) voice in their head. Religious fervency is as big a tell as “I alone can fix it”. Scratch the surface of your average religious fanatic and you’ll realize: they don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God — that’s why God speaks through THEM. That’s why THEY understand God while almost no one else does. That’s why it’s incumbent on THEM to do God’s bidding here on Earth. If not them, who?

Manifest Destiny was this idea taken to its most horrible extreme. White people doing God’s bidding because (really) white people think they’re God. Bringing God and Jesus to the ignorant, unwashed natives whether they liked it or not. One person’s “enlightenment” is another person’s genocide.

A constituency of many probably wouldn’t go there. A diverse constituency definitely wouldn’t. A diverse constituency dedicated to the well-being of every part of it? It’d be an absolute impossibility. What that means is, the further away we can get from a constituency of one, the healthier we get collectively and personally.

Donald Trump epitomizes white, male greed. He’s unapologetically piggish. That’s why so many white men love him: he’s the alpha pig they wish they could be. They, too, wish they could have a constituency of one the way Trump does. Trump can do or say anything — and get away with it! They believe that if Trump is president forever, they, too, can get away with everything forever. They can get away with unspeakable greed but also unspeakable hatred. “Cancel Culture” is white peoples’ code for “Whattaya mean I can’t call Black people the “N-word”, Jews the “K-word” and everyone else whatever the most insulting ethnic reference is — that’s how I feel about them!’.

Libertarianism thinks “freedom” means “you’re not the boss of me”. What it really means is “no woman can ever be the boss of me”, “no Black person can ever be the boss of me” and “no Jew can ever be the boss of me”. Other white guys? They’ll make an exception. Libertarians want all the benefits of freedom but they don’t want to take any of the responsibilities that do come with those benefits. They want to be able to preach “do unto others” while raping and pillaging relentlessly. It all goes to serving the needs of the one, screw the many.

Personally, I blame monotheism. This absurd, fictitious concentration of all the world’s purpose and knowledge into one “mind”, alternately deeply mysterious yet just knowable enough to know what the deity hates. When such an all-powerful, all-knowing thing smiles upon you, who are you to deny that smile? Want to know who God is? Stand before your bathroom mirror and really look yourself in the eyes. Voila! You’re looking right into the eyes of God. Are you underwhelmed or overwhelmed by that?

How shall we measure success as a culture? Surely, you can’t look at where we are — so much wealth yet so much poverty, sometimes pretty much right in the same place — and think we’ve done something special here. The happiest countries on earth just so happen to be the most socialized, too. Yes, the citizens of those countries pay more in taxes but they, they GET more — and expect more. America is about to get a big taste of how effective UBI (universal basic income) is at getting an economy back up onto its feet — and keeping it there. A consumer economy like ours relies on as many consumers as possible having as much money as possible in their pockets. The more those consumers spend, on goods and services provided by other consumers, the healthier the economy will become because all that consumption will create even more demand for still more goods and services. Success will breed more success.

It works. There’s data that says so whereas with “trickle down” economics, there isn’t any such data. There’s just the guy at the top saying trickle down works while he trickles down nothing but waste products.

A constituency of one strikes again.

Donald Trump will learn the hard way where a constituency of one leads. So will every Republican who co-conspired with him. Don’t think so? Let’s revisit a few months from now, AFTER Merrick Garland’s been at the newly refurbished Department of Justice for a while. No one wants Garland to do anything other than enforce the rule of law equally. If that’s ALL he does, if justice for its own sake motivates him then once he pulls the first thread of the January 6 conspiracy to commit insurrection, he won’t stop until the entire garment is gone. The insurrection threads will lead right to Donald Trump. But then, so will all the Russia threads that Merrick Garland’s team will begin tugging on. At the end of the day, everything about Donald Trump’s corrupt tenure in the White House will lead to Russia one way or another.

Russia, Russia, RUSSIA. Take that to the bank and prepare to be the richest person you know.

There are few things more dangerous to the group than a member who only sees a constituency of one. That person does not see the group except as an impediment to them getting what they want. It’s a damnably male behavior, an outgrowth of having a “squirt ‘n go’ sexuality. The human male at his sexual peak is designed to spread his seed as many places as possible with little regard for what happens after he’s spread that seed. A woman doesn’t have that luxury. Any time a male squirts inside of her and goes — especially if she’s fertile (and even if she’s on birth control) — there’s the possibility that a child will result. As the excellent Gabrielle Blair has written on Twitter, women can orgasm without causing reproduction to possibly occur. Men, can’t. All the pregnancy risk literally comes from men.

A woman would never say “I alone can fix it” because women know biochemically that it’s bullshit. One could certainly try to bear and raise a child on on one’s own but it’s almost certainly doomed to fail. As Hillary Clinton pointed out, it does “take a village” to raise a child. For starters, it’s just way easier to have help birthing a baby — then keeping both baby and mother fed in the baby’s first days. It takes a village to educate a child and coach it through soccer or gym practices. Women can tell you that anything of value demands a village’s input.

American diversity is proof positive of what a village can do when it works together, benefitting from all the knowledge all that diversity organically brings. That IS American Exceptionalism — the fact of our diversity and its output. Hell, we even put the idea of diversity’s benefits on our Great Seal: E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. That’s the only “one” here that has a shot at fixing anything — the one that is the sum of us, not the relentlessly egomaniacal neuroses of the hopelessly deluded, mediocre-to-its-core one of us.

Success relies on many people working together. Failure really can flow from one person. Hell, the Coronavirus Pandemic started with ONE PERSON. Though a Hitler or a Pol Pot or a Donald Trump rely on the madness of crowds to do their dirtiest work, it still begins with that one person’s ability to bamboozle other people into thinking they’re special — anointed by the divine, in fact. Surely a deity clever enough to create literally everything wouldn’t be this painfully neurotic about one of his creations (even if it is his “favorite”). Surely, such a powerful creature wouldn’t lose his mind just because one of his creations either doesn’t “believe in him” or “sanctify him” to his liking. Seriously, what kind of third-rate deity is that?

That, too, is the end product of any “constituency of one”: mediocrity. Gods can’t be judged since there’s no one up to the task. That means a god can get away with anything — as gods do.

Or did…

Trump’s constituency of one is about to crash into the Will Of The People and its constituency. Each greedy Republican — and their “constituency of one” — also will crash and burn. In their darkest moments, I sure hope the words “I alone can fix it!” flashes across their minds, suffusing their anguish with a self-loathing glow. Slowly, but surely, each and every Trumpian or Republican constituency of one will morph into a constituency of done.

White Perspective Is A Bully’s Perspective

We get it — the idea of power sharing horrifies you; it always has. That’s why you’ve worked ceaselessly — regardless of whether you went by the label “Dixiecrat” or “Southern Democrat” or “Republican” — to prevent anyone NOT white from participating in American democracy — a thing you yourselves abhor. The problem with democracy — from an autocratic point of view — is that you can’t trust voters to vote for you and your ideas; they probably get that you’re a power mad fraud. Democracy is a marketplace of ideas. As we all know, crony capitalists don’t want a free market for you, they want a free market for THEM. Hell, conservatives (the political wing of crony capitalists) now openly admit that they MUST cheat in order to win elections which is WHY Republicans suppress Democratic voters but Democrats NEVER even think of suppressing Republican voters. Democrats don’t have to do that — because their ideas sell just fine in the marketplace.

The right wing money understood a while ago that the more America diversified, the quicker their hegemony would end. The more Black people voted — the quicker white hegemony would end. It’s not as if Black voters are insanely liberal as a group. They’re not. To begin with, they’re not monolithic. No group is — including white people. But there’s a difference. Because they’ve been the ones holding all the political power and wealth in America, white group-think has far greater real world (realpolitik) weight than anyone else’s. We do not now stand on a level playing field. We never have and every time we treat it like it is, we’re grossly mis-representing reality.

White perspective (born of white culture) always assumes it’s superiority over everyone else. For instance, white perspective tells itself it “discovered” America. That assumes that prior to white, Christian Europeans arriving on these shores that the America was a virgin land, filled with darkness, ignorance and savagery — all waiting to be saved by them. No, actually, it wasn’t. As historian Charles C. Mann points out in his excellent “1491: New Revelations Of The Americas Before Columbus”, “… the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand.” Native Americans founded, lived and thrived in actual cities in North America while Paris and London festered in the mud, struggling to rise above their humble beginnings.

Historian Jared Diamond brilliantly summed up European “superiority” as “Guns, Germs & Steel” (the title of his excellent history of how the white man’s germs, mostly, reduced North America’s native population so completely that defeating the survivors militarily was remarkably easy. That wasn’t the Europeans plan — not at first; in time they’d realize how effective blankets infected with smallpox can be in controlling Indian population size. It is what happened however.

For what it’s worth, the Indians did pass syphilis — one of their native infections — to the white man.

The first thing every schoolyard bully does is reduce whoever he’s bullying to something less than a human. Bullies can’t bully their equals (they’re all afraid they’d lose) and they certainly can’t bully their superiors. That leaves people the bully feels superior to. And off they go! Bullies see everyone not them as one kind of cockroach or another. Once you’ve stopped seeing other people as people? Bullying them is easy. Who cares if you “hurt their feelings” — to the bully, the bullied’s feelings are there TO be hurt. That’s why bullies bully — hurting other people gets them hot.

Another thing that happens when you reduce other people to “less-than-people” status. You negate their history. White people denied the value of Native American history before they introduced Christianity to them. Who cared what savages thought? Who cared where savages came from or why they had the traditions they had. Cockroaches don’t have “traditions”. White Americans have also negated Black history. That’s why some white Americans think they should be free to “opt out” of Black History Month.

Negating a peoples’ history also negates their wealth. White America’s greatest crime against Black America is slavery of course. But, slavery, remember, is first and foremost STOLEN LABOR. That’s the point. You can’t amass wealth if you can’t acquire it to begin with. And you can’t acquire wealth if you never get paid for your labor — the thing you have to sell.

In the American south, slave owners justified slavery by saying they couldn’t profitably engage in growing rice, sugar or cotton if they had to pay the labor needed to PICK those crops a living wage. Or any wage whatsoever. The costs of buying, housing, clothing and feeding slaves was understood as the “costs of doing business”. In fact, slavery was NEVER a good economic model for those businesses. But then, white people will believe anything if it involves denigrating Black people.

We all know what the Trump insurrectionists were thinking. They told us. We know what they wanted — and still want. Being the ultimate bully, Donald Trump can’t conceive of losing. But, Trump’s bullying has an extra dimension to it: treason. This is no secret to Trump’s republican co-bullies. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously told a roomful of Republican leaders a month BEFORE they nominated Trump to be their POTUS candidate “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” The reason the entire Republican Party has gone along with this insanity is because they’re all guilty of treason.

White people need to step back for a bit. If they don’t do it of their own accord, their stepping back will be done for them and probably not nicely. No one likes being bullied. Especially not bullies.

Ironically, when it comes to being bullied? Bullies hate being bullied more than anyone.

Dear Lindsey Graham: Believe It Or Not, The Truth WILL Set You Free

I’ll be honest with ya, Lindsey, I’ve never been a fan. That said, I’m still willing to reach across the aisle, as it were, and offer you a hand — but it comes with advice and you have to take the advice BEFORE you get the hand. You need to come clean, Lindsey — about everything that’s dirty about you — and, to judge by the world-weary, hang-dog, red-rimmed, haunted & hunted look in your beady, racist eyes, there’s even more rotten in the state of Lindsey Graham than there is in the state of Denmark. We can all speculate (and, I’ll confess, I have endlessly) on WHAT some of your secrets are. What is Donald Trump holding over you that caused you to flip from “I think he’s a kook!” to… well, geez, Lindsey, we can pretty much smell Trump’s DNA on your breath every time you exhale. Seriously, Lindsey, you keep taking shamelessness to bold new heights — every day.

That, stone cold truth, will NOT set you free.

No one has done the one-eighty you’ve done, Lindsey. Worse, no one’s been more head-scratchingly blatant about it with zero rational explanation to smooth it away. Considering as you’re a prominent member of a corrupt, criminal organization that used to do business as the Republican Party, we’ll have to assume it’s all part and parcel of the same clumsy attempt to overthrow the will of the American people and install permanent minority rule in place of democracy. I have to wonder what would happen if your old pal John McCain were to return from the dead and walk in the room. Never mind the miraculousness of it, you wouldn’t be able to look him in the eye because he knows the truth about who you are and what you’ve done.

Betcha we ain’t talking about you swimming naked in the Senate pool again, are we, pal?

Let’s get this “straight”, Lindsey: I could not care less what your sexual orientation is. Remember — I want the Truth to set you free. Whatever your true sexual nature is, you need to embrace it fully. You need to stop pretending that the thing you are is offensive to anyone — especially you. I contend that your terrible behavior flows directly from the hypocrisy you live every day simply by denying who you are. Now, perhaps the problem runs deeper than just your orientation. Perhaps your problem has to do with the “particulars” of what you require in a sexual partner.

Perhaps there’s an ideal “age” in your mind. An “innocence” you like to have “made less innocent”. Perhaps it’s just the sight of pubic hair on a sexual partner that disturbs you. I’ll be honest, Lindsey, something about your sexual pathology sets off the alarm bells in my head. But, hey — I’m a little hyper-sensitive that way. At 14, I was sexually molested twice by the religious director of the synagogue where my family belonged.

I denied that it happened to me for 45 years — denied it to myself. Once I did break down (literally — on the bathroom floor) and confess? The truth hurt. I’ll admit it.

The truth about what happened to me — and that I denied it for so long — and the emotional distance it put between me and the world hurt worse than almost any other psychological pain I’ve ever experienced. The secret eventually produced a decade-long depression that convinced me the world would be better off without me. That my family and children would ultimately see that too. That was bullshit but, then, depression robs you of perspective. Depression — caused by denial of the Truth — convinces you that bullshit could be true… that bullshit is true. Spoiler alert: bullshit is NEVER true. It’s bullshit!

We need YOU under oath, Lindsey. We need you spilling your guts. We need you offering up contrition like no one’s ever been contrite before. We need you whispering then choking back then agreeing and finally chanting the Truth about who and what you are like a mantra — “I’m guilty! Yes, I have done all these terrible things! I own every last one of them and deserve the punishment — whatever it is — coming to me!” Those words will hurt to say, Lindsey, no two ways about it!

But, in the aftermath, after the Trumpian dust settles, there will be a moment of absolute clarity for you, Lindsey. I promise. That moment is guaranteed. You may experience that absolute freedom from behind prison bars, but the freedom inside your head will transcend your physical location.

The Truth WILL set you free, Lindsey. So, please — be free. If you know what I really mean…

Anti-Semitism Will Endure Until The Last Christian Stops Thinking “The Jews Killed Jesus”

I’m biased, so excuse me, but blood libels are flat out stupid. Blood libels based on invented stories? The stupidest of all. And, it turns out, the deadliest. It’s hard to describe to a Christian — even Christian friends — what that experience is like. For starters, my tribe has NEVER declared war on their tribe. My tribe has never sought to convert their tribe. My tribe has never accused their tribe of poisoning the well — so, let’s kill them all! My tribe has never stuck their tribe in ghettos — starting with the one in Venice, Italy. My tribe has never subjected their tribe to an Inquisition or a Holocaust. Every one of those terrible things happened because their tribe had it in for my tribe — and the reason they had it in for us is because “the Jews killed Jesus”. Even if this story — which takes “ludicrous” to bold, new heights — were true, it STILIL makes no sense since the whole POINT of Jesus being here was for him to “die for our sins”. I don’t think Christianity becomes a world religion if Jesus dies an old man in his bead surrounded by loved ones.

Jesus did not invent Christianity. He was born, lived and died a Jew, thinking Jewish thoughts, preaching Jewish ideas to other Jews. They were somewhat radical ideas — because they discounted the role of the temple and the temple priests — in other words, THE CHURCH. Jesus discounted the need for a formal, institutional church. “Speak directly to the father!” But, most importantly, Jesus taught a core Jewish principle — Tikkun olam: it is every Jew’s obligation to make the world a better place for having lived in it. It starts with “doing unto others”.

The Apostle Paul never met Jesus. He never heard Jesus speak a word in person. Any knowledge Paul had of Jesus was entirely Paul’s own creation. For Paul, Jesus’s significance wasn’t what he taught — “Do unto others” — it was the possibility that Jesus might could fit the part of “messiah” that derived from mythologies going back a hundreds of years! When the Jews (some of whom had actually known Jesus) rejected Paul’s version of Jesus, Paul took his version of Jesus to the gentiles. The gentiles had even less knowledge of Real Jesus than Paul did. And, unlike Paul, they had zero background in the Jewish mythology Paul was trying to manipulate so as to make Jesus play as “messiah”.

The majority of the New Testament is Paul’s various communications with the early church communities he, himself, was establishing, mentoring and instructing. I take nothing away from Paul’s achievement. But, let’s be clear — Paul wasn’t selling Jesus the actual Jewish guy who preached a radical message of “you don’t need a church just talk directly to God and, above all, do unto others”. Paul was selling a completely different Jesus who had to be connected to King David, had to be born in Bethlehem, had to be this, had to be that. More importantly — Paul was selling a Jesus who rose from the dead.

Jesus defeating death — that’s what Paul believed he was selling. And if “you”, Paul preached, “Believe in the Jesus I’ve imagined, then you too can defeat death just like my imaginary Jesus did!” But, you have to believe in Jesus exactly the way Paul and the church tell you to. That ‘s the catch. Fail at any of the dogma and, apostate that you are, you’ll be spending the rest of your afterlife in actual hell.

Can I tell you something? When an angry Christian comes at you — spouting the “Judas betrayed Jesus so therefore every Jew is guilty for all eternity” line? There’s literally nothing you can do or say to change their mind and stop them from hurting you. The harder you try to point out the flaws in the story, the angrier you make them and the more vicious they get because now you’re denigrating their rubbish. How dare you!

One could toss everything the church teaches and still be a fan of Jesus. Even a humble atheist can “do unto others” and trust me — most atheists DO “do unto others”. That’s what’s most frustrating! Jesus has been entirely decoupled from his message and turned into a mascot. He’s Ronald McJesus selling absolution happy meals — hey, can we super size that for ya? The church did not build itself pitching “do unto others” lessons. It captivated the world because, for the first time, a deity offered up something of real value to human beings: eternal life. A way to beat death.

Paul baked his rejection of his mother faith into Christianity’s architecture. He left home and never looked back. But, he also pointedly helped invent a brand new mythology, based loosely on the old Jewish stories. Jews did not by and large proseletyze. Back then, Judaism was the religion practiced exclusively by the Jewish tribe. If you were born a Jew, you practiced Judaism. If you weren’t born a Jew, you didn’t. Jews didn’t take their idea of a monotheistic god out to the gentile world because it never occurred to them to do it. Yahweh (the God character’s actual name, “God” being his job description actually) wasn’t the gentile world’s god, it was the Jewish tribe’s god. The gentile world, the Jews understood, already had their own gods and didn’t need Yahweh.

Paul changed that. In his mind, the world needed Jesus if it was to defeat death. People needed to “hear the good news” that if Jesus could rise from the dead, so could they!

The Holocaust wasn’t some aberration. It was two thousand years of gentiles hating Jews “because they killed Jesus” put on industrial strength steroids. Why kill just a town of Jews (cos they killed all the children to turn their blood into matzohs) when you can kill a whole city’s worth? The Holocaust was two thousand years of accumulated history. Two thousand years of Jews being treated as pariahs, of Jews being looked at like they were cockroaches. Of Jews being murdered by white people who hated them just because they were Jewish.

To judge by its actions, the Christian church has never cared whether or not any of its adherents actually did unto others. They care deeply however about keeping people in line — about getting adherents to “do what they’re told to do” — even if it’s to terrorize, maim, kill, abuse or torment the very people Jesus called his family. Hmmmmmm… maybe this isn’t about Jesus after all.

Maybe it never was…

The GOP Is Soooooo Pro-Slavery, They’re Actively Trying To Bring It BACK!

Wanna talk the bitterest of irony? “The Party of Lincoln” isn’t just some “fellow traveler” with slavery. The Republicans are the Bond Villain convinced he can make it rain. The GOP makes no bones about how racist it is. The overwhelming whiteness of its membership isn’t a bug, it’s the whole point. The Right White money — think the Kochs & Mercers — have steered their party toward a visible horizon — permanent minority rule. Between gerrymandering and massive voter suppression tactics, Republicans have created a host of bizarre “looking glass worlds” like Michigan and Pennsylvania where the structure of government has been so perverted that Democrats have to vote in far larger numbers than Republicans (more than twice Republican turnout) just to level the playing field. Can anyone say “poll tax”? Seen as a whole (hell, seen even in parts!), the Republican Party is actively engaged in a project that — had they succeeded (they won’t now) — would have returned America to a country where slavery exists. This time though, it wouldn’t just be Black people in chains. What America did to Black people was a perverse dry run for what the GOP STILL has in mind — the enslavement of everyone not them IN America.

Being Jewish, I know what it’s like to be looked at as if I was a cockroach. What do I mean by that? The first step in legitimizing the idea of genocide in someone’s head is you stop seeing the people you want to genocide as “people”. I use the word “cockroach” because — except from people who study cockroaches — we all understand that visceral feeling produced at the mere idea of “cockroach”. That’s how racists feel about Black people — and brown people and “yellow” people (a color descriptor I honestly do not get) and Jewish people. They are one thing, all the rest of us are quite another. We can be useful. We can even be profitable. But we are always, always, ALWAYS expendable.

At its bottom line, slavery is stolen labor. Forcing people — against their will — to work for free — doing work they do not want to do: slavery. Here in America, cotton and sugar cane became cash crops. Problem: both were labor intensive to farm and harvest. If one had to pay all the laborers a fair wage, one might not make a whole lot of money growing those crops. BUT — if one could get all that expensive labor for FREE, well then — one COULD farm those crops and make a shitload of money. Of course, nothing’s entirely free — one still has to house, clothe and feed slaves. That’s cash out. So — business being just math — one needs to cost-benefit analyze what it costs to have a slave versus the money one can make from that slave. Judging by how slavery proliferated in America — and how vociferously slavers fought to KEEP slavery in America — slavery must have been one rock solid business model.

America justified slavery — to itself — because it was good for business. That’s a stone cold fact. Some Americans even held up their Bibles to back up how righteous it was, too. Slavery was good for business AND sanctified by God. Anyone NOT wanting slavery, was… well — cockroaches come to mind.

As historian Heather Cox Richardson has pointed out in her book “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party”, with America, you have to be careful about political labeling. Something strange happened in America — but then, racism makes strange things happen. The Republican Party Abraham Lincoln felt kinship with and joined because it was anti-slavery — has switched places with the party it opposed: the Democrats. Forget labels! Back then, people calling themselves “Southern Democrats” were pro-slavery. When the country split apart to engage in civil war with itself, the Republicans were understood to be anti-slavery and the Democrats pro-slavery.

Woodrow Wilson — one of the most racist presidents we’ve ever had (though we consider him “New Jersey” because he was at Princeton, Wilson was born in Alabama) — was a Democrat. By contrast, one of Wilson’s predecessors — Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican — was progressive in myriad ways (he was an early environmentalist). By the time Warren Harding became POTUS, the Republican Party was no longer the set of ideals the party was founded on. Perversely, they were now officially the party they used to run against.

When Richard Nixon adopted his “southern strategy”, he was simply formalizing what everyone already knew: Republican success in the future needed to tie itself to racism. The longer Republicans could keep racism alive, the longer they could hold onto power. That’s the “southern strategy”. It all hinges on the lingering embers of Confederate sympathy — and we all know what the Confederacy’s founding principle was: SLAVERY. If you get weepy in any way, shape or form when you see a Confederate flag? It means you like slavery.

Now, “liking slavery” is one thing. Doing something about it — like fomenting an insurrection? That’s a whole lot of lines crossed where there’s no going back.

It’s not a coincidence that, historically, southern Democrats (modern Republicans) worked diligently to keep Black people from voting. Hey, remember that “3/5 of a man” idea — it’s because Southerners knew sorta-kinda how many Black slaves they held. If those people were counted as “citizens”, white southerners would soon be shit outta luck and in the minority! Doesn’t take a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, as they say — or a racist to see himself in the minority. The Civil Was was all about keeping slaves slaves.

The South may have lost the war but, damn if they didn’t win the peace that followed. The South literally rewrote the narrative. Look at every seceding state’s “Here’s why we’re seceding!” document. Not a single one mentions “states’ rights”. Not a one. But slavery? C’mon now — if you can read, you can see The Truth. The southern states rebelled and left the union over slavery. When the war ended, their desire for slavery did not. Southern sympathy killed Reconstruction dead. America might be a very different country today if Reconstruction had rolled out as intended. Instead, the sons of the Confederacy legitimized their lingering racism by changing the narrative completely. Suddenly, their treason wasn’t about slavery, it was about something fundamental to the American ideal: rights — states’ rights!

Suddenly, traitors like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were being celebrated by America — as heroes FFS! We got it into our heads that a murderous, rebellious battle cry — the “Rebel yell” — was fun, funny, profitable. Oy, America — OY!

The New South just announced itself in Georgia. The Democrats won there because Black people have returned. They will not be bamboozled or cheated out of their rights and their wealth this time. The South will be better for it. It already is.

Make no mistake — Republican racism won’t stop of its own accord. We will have to physically stop it. We will have to remain vigilant. These embers of hate can rekindle just like that. We need to see the Republicans clearly for what they are and what their mission is. When the Biden Administration and the Democrats put forward their $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, they arrived at the number by putting pencil to paper and calculating what We The People would NEED. As Joe Biden himself has put it it — we shouldn’t be afraid of spending too much, we should be afraid of spending too little.

And yet — the 10 Republicans who approached Biden with their own proposal didn’t have that problem in mind. They pitched a package one-third as big. We KNOW why Team Biden pitched their number — math. Why did the Republicans pitch the number they pitched? Careful — if you get too close, you’ll find that number smells oddly like shit — because the Republicans pulled it from their asses. There WAS and IS no basis for the Republicans’ number. It’s just a number that’s less than what the Democrats want — and what the Democrats want is to alleviate the suffering of ordinary Americans.

What do the Republicans want? If we had anything like a “news media”, they’d be circling that question like sharks drawn to fresh blood. Surely the GOP has a particular reason for denying so many Americans help. Surely they have some “organizing principle” around which they’re drawing their wagons… They don’t actually. That’s the point. They don’t have a point!

The reason not to give people the relief they need is the same reason you want to keep the minimum wage at — say it together — “slave wages”. People too poor to adequately feed themselves should have just enough energy to work for their next paycheck. Whether they live or die — not relevant — because every one of those cogs is replaceable. Cogs or cockroaches — it’s all the same thing. The closer you can get those working for you to work for nothing — and that is how Republicans would love to have it — the closer you get back to literal slavery.

But, let’s be real — the dynamics of a “company town” are the dynamics of slavery. It’s feudalism. It’s a practice conservative business owners have pined for. Not-so-funny funny thing? The Black Death killed half of Europe. It also killed feudalism. Pandemics can change things on a fundamental level. Bubonic plague created a labor vacuum. Too few workers made work more valuable. Vassals, formerly obligated to till their masters’ fields now had a choice. They “could” do what their masters needed — but they could also tend the fields of the lord next door — because he was willing to pay a cash premium to make sure his crops didn’t rot in his fields before they could be harvested.

The plague empowered workers and economic change by disempowering the slavers. This pandemic’s empowering the perennial political underclass — but also by disempowering slavers.

This time, America could get it right. Because Black people are taking so much more of the political power (power long overdue them!) alongside women in general and other people of color, we have the will to finally level this playing field the way it should have been leveled at the start. Slavery cannot produce greatness of any kind because it automatically disrespects the labor required to produce work. Only by treating labor fairly — paying it what it deserves to be paid — can we achieve the freedom we talk about. Freedom after all isn’t just everyone getting to do whatever the hell they want.

That’s a silly, ten year old’s idea of freedom — “You’re not the boss of me” — you know, “Libertarianism”. Freedom comes with awesome responsibilities. It’s a package deal, sorry. Don’t want the responsibilities? Don’t take the benefits. Part of being free is making sure EVERYONE has the same level of freedom. That requires everyone having the same opportunity. That requires everyone gets the same access to a good education, the same good, comprehensive health CARE (not insurance, care), the same treatment under the law. That takes work and vigilance.

The Republican Party now freely admits: they have no interest in democracy. Not enough people want to vote for their “ideas” (such as they are) to make democracy practical for them. Now, cheating, on the other hand — that’s just necessity now. America simply does not want the Republicans’ vision for America — or for them. Who wants to be a slave?

If Democrats And Republicans Were A “Married Couple”, What The R’s Just Did Would Get Them Thrown Out Of The House Forever

As anyone who’s ever been in a long term relationship knows, even the bad ones require work. The Constitution’s framers didn’t intend for there to be political parties but the rift between the Federalists and states’ rights supporters that arose at the framing — one way or the other — set our two party system in motion. And, while learning to compromise with a partner is essential to any couple’s, some compromises should never be made. For instance — compromises made with an abusive spouse or a serial cheater. The Democrats really are like a spouse in a long-running marriage who’s known all along how faithless their mate’s been. The Democrats KNOW the Republicans cheat. They KNOW Republicans don’t care one bit about any “relationship”. And now we know that our partner in this country’s governance, the Republicans, want pretty much all the Democrats dead.

On January 6, 2021, the Republican Party hired their angry, drunk friend to break into the House and try to kill the Democrats. They wanted their drunk friend to kill Mike Pence too because Pence had done the dishonorable thing: he stood up for the oath of office he took. Now, let’s not pat Mike on the back too quickly. Mike’s no boy scout. That’s why Paul Manafort brought him to the veep dance back in 2016. Remember: Manafort (then Trump’s campaign manager) was attempting a “make good” deal with Russian oligarch and intelligence agent Oleg Deripaska. He owed Deripaska over 17 million dollars (the kinda dough that’ll get you killed if you don’t start paying it off) and, so, was engaged in a scheme to make Deripaska whole. The LAST thing Manafort needed at that point was a veep candidate who’d rat them all out the second he got wind of the “Russian Secret”.

Everybody here is dirty. Everybody is corrupt. No one with an “R” next to their name EVER seems to do the right thing — not without being pressured into it.

I think of the Republicans sliding into bed with Vladimir Putin as clear cut evidence of treason. Why, that’s exactly like them cheating on us, isn’t it? Hey, Don, you adulterous asshole — what’s with the borscht & vodka on your breath?

As if Trump being disloyal with the Russian sleaze bag across the street wasn’t bad enough, then he goes and lies about it. He does everything he can to hide his actions. He’s called all his fancy-assed pals (the scumbags he philanders with) to tell them to cover for him. He’s used his other, “lesser” friends (people he doesn’t ever hang with and never would) to come after us to try and kill us. He came frighteningly close to doing it.

If we really were a couple, this marriage would be well and truly over. It would be inconceivable that we’d slide into bed ever again with the shit who tried to have us murdered — especially when he took so much friggin’ video of him doing it.

First of all, of course, we’d get ourselves the best lawyer we could — which, in fact, we’ve already done. We’d go after the bastard who did this, intent on taking him for everything he’s got. We’d insist, above all, that our mate take responsibility for their terrible actions if they really wanted our relationship to continue. They won’t. It’s not even a question.

That’s why, after we throw them out onto the street, we will proceed to prosecute the living snot out of them. We will not stop until they’re off the street and filling up many, many prison cells. That’s not political; it’s just crime & punishment working the way they’re supposed to.

The R’s have already started sniffing around for forgiveness. When they say “unity!” what they mean is “Hey, baby, you can forget I tried to have ya killed just this one time, now, can’t ya?” Um, no, assholes, we can’t. How about, instead, YOU find some deep, profound way to make it up to America?

They can all start by surrendering.

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?