The Bill Of Rights Says Originalism Is BS

The US Constitution — as originally written and ratified — did NOT include freedom of speech or the press or religion or assembly or any of the other specific rights enumerated in the Bill Of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Did you catch that word — “amendments”? The Constitution’s framers built the framework with various means to alter and improve the Constitution because they knew at the start (they argued about it relentlessly!) that the work of crafting it was not nearly finished and might never be. The Constitution’s framers knew as they were framing it that the Constitution would always be a work in progress.

Originalism has two fatal flaws (at least).

The first is the ludicrous (and, frankly, offensive) notion that we have to understand laws only as they were understood by the men who wrote them regardless of the fact that the circumstances under which they lived (and under which they wrote the law) and the circumstances under which WE live are totally different. Originalism compounds the ludicrousness by pretending it can creep inside the minds of the framers where, originalism assures us, they wanted this document to be followed to the letter no matter what.

The very existence of the Bill Of Rights trashes that idea completely. James Madison, future 4th POTUS but, at the founding a member of the brand new House of Representatives, put the Bill Of Rights before the brand new American Congress on June 8, 1789. Having seen the original document’s flaws and deficiencies, Madison stressed “…that the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.”

Even the original originalists didn’t go along with originalism.

Second fatal flaw — arguing that we’re bound to a document written by white, Christian, land-owning men who thought only white, Christian, land-owning men had rights is such a white, Christian, land-owning man thing to argue. The rules were set in stone by rule makers who wrote the rules strictly for their benefit. To go along with that kind of thinking would make everyone not white, Christian, land-owning and male a member of a permanent under-class — without many rights to “speak of”. Well, screw that!

Originalists pick n choose the Constitution the way they pick n choose which Biblical passages to follow.

Perhaps the biggest, most important, most far-reaching decision originalist di tutti originalists Antonin Scalia ever wrote was “Bush v Gore”, the SCOTUS decision that stopped the recount in Florida and literally HANDED the 2000 election to George W. Bush regardless of the fact that Democratic votes in Florida remained uncounted and — most importantly — Bush had lost the popular vote by a ton. Antonin Scalia took a huge, steaming dump on James Madison’s idea that a Government “inadequate to the purposes of its institution” had rights greater than the Peoples’.

In handing the election to Bush, Scalia noted that he was stepping outside the boundaries of originalism — just this once but that we weren’t going to be allowed EVER to step outside those boundaries ever again. Only originalist Scalia could set originalism aside — so as to protect originalism’s tender illusion of relevance. Horse. Shit.

No — worse than horse shit. Bullshit.

In A Fight Against Evil — Like Now — You HAVE TO Take A Side

In a time as immoral as ours, moral choices matter. MSNBC is about to broadcast an interview with a “non-voter”. That’s a strange concept in an environment as morally clear as this one. Even if you don’t love Joe Biden, the other choice — Donald Trump — has taken the country to a moment of genuine existential peril. That is not hyperbole. The choice isn’t so much between two men as it is between two diametrically different directions for the country to go in. This isn’t between two variations of beige paint for the living room walls. It’s actual life and death. Who the hell is STILL having a tug-of-war in their heads about which one they’d prefer?

The non-committed voter is not being careful, they’re being indecisive. It’s not the same thing. Where a careful person is weighing the information, the indecisive person is weighing their own fear of being wrong. They have no moral convictions to guide them. Their compass reacts to how the group perceives them. The last thing on earth they want is to be unpopular. They need to be accepted and they’ll do ANYTHING to be accepted — like change their mind. Or make their mind your mind.

If being accepted means hating Black people or Jews (even if on the quiet), they’ll do it even if Blacks and Jews mean nothing to them. Even if they actually like Blacks and Jews. The undecided are utterly spineless. Utterly empty.

And yet MSNBC just made the case — by “yeah, but what if-ing” a “case” for the undecided: “Yeah, but what if the undecided are right and there isn’t a clear case between Biden and Trump?” Yeah, but what if there isn’t a clear case between Hitler and whoever is running against him? What if there isn’t a clear case between throwing children in cages or separating them from their parents forever and not doing those criminal things? What if there isn’t a clear case between protecting the nation from the pandemic and NOT doing it?

It’s not just a stupid question, in the current context, MSNBC, it’s offensive. And journalistically irresponsible.

It’s the kind of question a practitioner of “both sides do it” journalism would ask because that kind of journalism, steeped in cynicism (instead of skepticism), assumes the worst of everyone. It assumes that everyone does what they do for the exact same reasons. The thief and his victim, the murderer and the murdered, the rapist and his victim. In a both sides do it world, no one is truly innocent because everyone is guilty of something. We just don’t know what.

That’s how a Donald Trump can get away with literally everything — including rape, treason and murder. He says “Don’t blame me — blame the other guy!” — his version of both sides do it. The “both sides do it” press hears the dog whistle and falls right in line. “Yeah, but what if THIS TIME Trump’s telling the truth?” they think in their heads — and they give Trump the benefit of the doubt he long ago stopped deserving.

If America’s news media were capable of aggregating the Donald Trump story, he’d already be in a federal prison — along with his whole family and the entire Republican Party. Oh, we WILL get there. We absolutely will. It’s the only place this country can go if they ever want to get healed. First things first: wrongs must be undone as much as they can be. What Donald Trump and the Republicans have done — in order to hold onto power indefinitely — must be UNdone. Or changed completely.

The big irony of our story is that the RW Money, in their desperate attempt to establish a state of permanent minority rule, will have caused America to go the very socialized places they most feared. Socialized medicine. Socialized secondary education. Universal Basic Income. Higher taxes for the wealthy (heading back toward the 1950’s when America’s economy boomed) and a bigger, broader, more compassionate social safety net. The fact is, we have no choice. There are no conservative ways out of this. They simply do not exist.

The pandemic has driven one point home: it always starts with ONE PERSON. Patient Zero. We are all susceptible because one person can infect all humanity. Therefore we must be able to treat every single person inside our borders for our own collective good. If we charge them money for it, it may be an obstacle to them seeking the care they need and we need them to seek. It would be self-destructive therefore to charge money for something essential both to each individual and to us as a society. We can only ever be as healthy as the least healthy among us.

Freedom works the exact same way. We can only really be as free as the least free among us. Freedom can’t be “everything”. That’s how children think. Freedom in a free society is weighted — the individual vs the group. Too much freedom for any individual that infringes on the group’s freedom — say, to not get shot while going to school — cannot be. One person’s perceived freedom (to own all the guns they want and fire them at will) cannot cancel another person’s freedom to live securely within their own body. Something has to give. Guess who?

I hope that’s not a hard decision. If it is — and choosing between obvious good and obvious evil — challenges you, it just so happens MSNBC just did a segment about you.

In Cannabis Veritas

In vino veritas is how the original goes: in wine there is truth. Actually, the original original goes in libris veritas: in books there is truth. Books has it right. Wine… not so much. Oh, the occasional drunk may spew out how they really feel about you or the world in that instant, but the truth is, they’re not “in touch” with themselves. They can’t be with all that alcohol in them. I’m kind of a “control group” on the topic. I used to drink. To excess (if I’m honest with myself). I used to think I was just getting “truthful” by cracking the next bottle. My personal experience says “in vino veritas” is bullshit.

I stopped drinking four years ago, just after I started taking a mood stabilizer to help moderate the deep, dark depression I was in. The personal depression I’d been working on for ten years got subsumed inside the national depression that began when Donald Trump stole election 2016. After coming within literal inches of offing myself, I took the plunge into mood stabilizers (having feared that plunge as much as my depression). Fortunately for me, I leveled almost immediately at the minimum dose. Bullseye. Lamotrigine — at the minimum dose — kept my darkness at bay; it could no longer “get at” me. The bad news: the lamotrigine gave all alcohol a terrible, grapefruit skin-like aftertaste that just ruined the whole experience.

I became like Alex in A Clockwork Orange —

When “dosed”, the violent criminal suddenly couldn’t abide violence — to his own peril. In my case, this lover-of-all-things-alcohol suddenly couldn’t abide the taste of alcohol. Well, the aftertaste. Even a great, structured red wine, its tannins as supple as its fruit was dense suddenly became… grapefruit skin. Just… unbearable.

Good thing my one remaining vice was cannabis. And good thing I lived in California where cannabis is legal. Because in cannabis veritas.

I’ve told my story here about how I morphed from a guy who didn’t really care much about cannabis (sure, it should be completely legal!) into a guy who loudly and shamelessly advocates for the stuff because it’s become such an important part of my quotidian life. Yeah, yeah, yeah — it’s not everyone’s answer (thank goodness we got THAT out of the way). But, for those who cannabis can help? There are myriad ways it can help you. Myriad ways it can improve the quality of your life. I truly use cannabis from the start of my day to the very end.

In addition to being depressed, it turns out I’m bi-polar. My darkness is matched by hypomania. Thoughts don’t just fly around inside my head, they explode into life constantly. I don’t mind that. My only problem is it’s distracting. They’re all squirrels and I’m just a dog. I can chase one or two; I can’t chase them all. Cannabis — sativas during the day time — slows the mania down. My brain is like a black box theater — think of a shoebox, painted black inside, turned upside down. It’s a simple black space inside which anything can happen. At any one time, a dozen or so things are being projected onto the walls, the floor, the ceiling. Some are in technicolor, some black-and-white. A few are even in sepia. Music plays. All kinds. And there are smells and sounds and did I mention the comedians sprinkled through the crowd? Those guys kill.

A sativa like Durban Poison acts like a scrim. It falls gently — quieting most of the projections and noise — allowing me to focus on just one or two. And suddenly — another benefit of the cannabis — I can see or hear or smell or taste whatever I’m focusing on with remarkable clarity. Food really does taste better on weed. Smells are more distinct. Music deeper and more soulful. Or fun. Things “seem” funnier, in part, because you’re appreciating them from a deeper place. It really is funnier than you realized — and the fact that you just realized how much funnier it is? THAT’S effin’ hilarious!

I wrote “straight” most of my professional life. I know what that is. Having written with cannabis in my system now for a half dozen years, I can honestly say — I’m better on cannabis. Maybe that’s because I enjoy writing more on cannabis. Cannabis makes writing easier — because the thoughts come easier. I feel more in tune with where the thoughts are coming from.

As I wrote about in Blunt Truths, the series about cannabis prohibition I wrote for Weedmaps News (back when that was a “thing”), marijuana played a big part in the invention of jazz. When the mostly Black musicians gathering in New Orleans in the first decade of the 20th century tried to get at the music inside their heads, they didn’t turn to alcohol to help get at it. Alcohol dulls. Opioids? Are you kidding? They dull creativity worse than alcohol. Marijuana, on the other hand, takes your creativity in hand and lets it soar.

Louis Armstrong, like the rest of the amazing musicians around him, were imaging what classical European music would sound like if you larded it with African music. What if you filled in all those spaces European music left with more music? What if the musician was allowed to improvise and build on what the music’s composer wrote? What if you tried using diminished keys and odd beat structures?

As I wrote in Blunt Truths, the worst thing Harry Anslinger ever did was invent the whole “Reefer Madness” myth that cannabis is the “Assassin of Youth”. He didn’t care about “marihuana” (his spelling) when he first became America’s first Commissioner of the now defunct Federal Bureau of Narcotics because, at the time, only Mexicans and Black people used it. It wasn’t until marijuana headed up the Mississippi along with the musicians heading north — and suddenly white people were smoking it. White people using something black and brown people used? That was wholly unacceptable to raging racist Harry Anslinger.

It’s a stone cold fact: the reason marijuana was made illegal is racism. Racism, racism and more racism. Not for two seconds did anyone legislating to illegalize cannabis EVER ask “But, is it bad for you?” Anslinger succeeded in making marijuana illegal (actually, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 makes not paying the hefty tax on the sale and purchase of marijuana illegal) over the objections of the American Medical Association.

We have lived in Harry Anslinger’s shadow all this time, thinking marijuana was something that it isn’t.

Yes, I write with loads and loads of cannabis in me. I do everything with loads of cannabis in me. Tennis, for instance. The same Durban Poison that delivers a smooth, focused “high” (ask my wife — I’m never ever “high”; I’m either focused or asleep) that makes writing a pleasure also takes my tennis game up a few notches. With a hit or two of DP in me, the ball slows down. I listen better to my own inner coaching. I spot the ball better off my opponent’s racket and — with everything slowed down inside my head — go through the step-by-step needed to successfully put the ball back across the net where and how I want it.

As my working ends and my evening begins, I turn again to cannabis. I’m not interested in being insensate. But — again — a hybrid like GG4 or Dutch Treat mitigates the cacophony. The feeling of mild euphoria that settles over you — it doesn’t disconnect you from the world, instead, it fuses you to everything.

As we speak, various members of my immediate and extended family are all either turned on to the benefits of cannabis already or becoming aware of them. My mom uses CBD oil to deal with an arthritic knee. CBD was her last stop before opioids. The CBD works great — and she feels better overall and sleeps better too.

If we see a product from the point of view of its benefits versus its detriments, cannabis (in all its various forms) is sliced bread. Why the hell wouldn’t you want it (if you want bread)?

This morning, I tried, for the first time, a sativa called The Fork. Where Durban Poison delivers a stead flow of very even-feeling focus, The Fork delivered strong free-associative thought. My mind went plenty of places — and burrowed into each of those places. This blog post popped into my mind.

And then onto the page.

I’ve written stuff on alcohol and cocaine that, as I was madly typing it, I was sure was genius. When I went back to look at it afterwards, it wasn’t even good typing.

Hey, for all I know, what The Fork inspired in me was pure crap. You’ll be the judge. But (and you’ll have to trust me on this) the typing’s sheer genius.

It Isn’t Just That A Trump Second Term Would Destroy American Democracy Forever, A Trump Second Term Would Finish Turning Us Into Him

Former Republican Rick Wilson got it so right: everything Trump touches dies. There are no exceptions to that rule.

Like a virus, Donald Trump can’t survive without a host. In our case, us. If he can’t infect us, he can’t reproduce his toxicity in sufficient quantity to survive. The best he can do is infect those around him and make more feckless, corrupt, ugly children.

Trump craves adoration because if he can get you to adore him, he can get you to do anything for him. Including die. Trumpism reproduces inside its adherents, zombifying them until they’re permanently cut off from reason, logic, facts, truth.

Just like that, a Trump follower’s needs are Trump’s needs.

There should never have been a first term of this disease. Take Russia out of the Trump equation and he never runs for office. He’s already broke and living on the street because no one was there to step in and rescue his bankrupt casinos or pay him a tidy $54 million profit on a white elephant house in Florida.

During his first term, Trump finished turning the entirety of the Republican Party into him. Take Lindsey Graham — a man who at one point said out loud that if the Republican Party followed Donald Trump, they’d deserve the certain destruction he’d cause them. Lindsey also said he’d never go along with naming a SCOTUS judge in an election year. I bet, when we finally get him under oath, Lindsey tells a long, complex, sordid tale about how exactly a person gets that corrupt and that vulnerable to corruption.

We don’t need Donald Trump to tell us that story because he’s already told it himself. He’s lived a life of corruption and — staggeringly — gotten away with it.

Our news media can’t seem to remember that Donald Trump is the first president ever to be impeached and then run for re-election — having been impeached for CHEATING in the very election he’s running in. That’s an amazing amount of normalization of stuff that should never be normalized. Then again, our news media oversaw the normalization of “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” and “Both sides are good people” and “15 cases will go to zero” and “fake news” and “our military are all suckers and losers” and on and on and on.

Normalization works exactly like an infection. It’s essential to Trumpism. We are the frog thinking the pool’s a little warmer than usual today — when, in fact, it’s boiling hot and we’re about to be frog soup.

There’s one answer to this: No.

The Republican Party is gambling everything on muscling the majority of Americans into submission. They’re slave masters after all, with a whip in their hand.

Oh, the surprise they’re all in for. We’ve taken the last whipping from them. We’ll have that whip — and rather than just turn it on them, we’ll subject them to the rule of law. They’ll wish we’d used the whip instead.

There Is Nothing Wrong With Advocacy Journalism — Hell, Our News Media Have Been Doing It For The Right Wing For Years

Quick — who are the most popular journalists at MSNBC? By journalists, I mean people capable of working journalistically because they’ll back up everything they say with receipts?

Joy Reid just premiered her show The ReidOut to huge ratings. Rachel Maddow’s interview of Mary Trump killed everything else on TV the night it aired. Nicolle Wallace — once Sarah Palin’s handler — has become a beacon of clear-eyed, ethical reportage. None of them shies away from the “political bent” their journalism clearly favors — that is, by telling the story correctly, with full perspective, the story forces them to certain conclusions the facts spell out. Those conclusions — in the current environment — support one side’s arguments over the other not because they’re politically better but because one argument is moral and the other is immoral.

Those three women — plus Ali Velshi — represent a kind of journalism that doesn’t seek to take sides but, now that it knows what it knows, it must START from a place that “appears” to support one side only in that so does the truth. The truth supports only one side here — because only one side in this argument HAS “a side”. Bullshit and lies are not one “side” of an argument. They’re an attempt to de-legitimesize the argument as a whole. To give them any sort of credence is to say “Okay, but what if bullshit was true?”

That’s a false dichotomy since bullshit is never true. We shouldn’t have to consider the possibilities of doing things because “bullshit says” because why would anyone listen to bullshit in the first place?

“Both sides do it” journalists, that’s who.

“Both sides do it” journalism is corporate journalism’s answer to any sort of burgeoning advocacy journalism. “Don’t get on your high horse,” it wants to tell advocacy journalism, about the injustice it wants to actively engage, “Democrats ‘do it too’.” What they’re equating — if there’s anything to equate — is “Republicans are corrupt” but “so are Democrats”. Republicans may be corrupt on a scale that dwarfs anything any Democrat could even imagine but if even one Democrat behaves corruptly?

Both sides do it.

So — there’s no point in seeing Democrats’ reacting to Republicans behaving criminally for what it is since (the theory says) Democrats behave just as criminally (both sides do it). Therefore, Democrats are just behaving politically. And just like that — following the rule of law becomes a political act.

Fox News has been acting as the GOP’s propaganda arm forever and everyone knows it. They even say it out loud. Fox News regularly practices advocacy journalism. So long as we all understand that that’s true? I, for one, don’t have a problem. I’m all for MSNBC owning outright its left-leaning nature. Remember — if leaning left wasn’t paying off for MSNBC, they wouldn’t be doing it. Leaning left DOES pay off. We may not deliver the zombie numbers of Fox viewers but (in a normal economy), left-leaning viewers are further up the purchasing power food chain.

Remember: most major buying decisions in American households are made by women. Piss them off and they’ll stop buying your products. That’s what big advertisers like Coca Cola recognized a few years ago when they told Fox News they would no longer advertise on Bill O’Reilly’s prime time show. Coca Cola knew from research that if they did stick with O’Reilly, a big chunk of their customers would stop buying their products because Bill O’Reilly had a habit of abusing women and sexually abusing women. The 21st Century Fox board knew it had no choice but to kill its cash cow. To have kept O’Reilly would have been far more expensive.

Perversely, that was an example of the roots of advocacy journalism — wanting to do the right thing — catching up to Fox News via its board room.

The “Right Thing” exists. It’s real and it’s doable. It applies to ordinary citizens and our politicians. It applies to journalists, too. Freedom after all is not free. It can’t be because nothing is free. The cost of being free is having responsibilities and obligations TO that freedom. These aren’t abstract debts — they’re real. If you don’t pay your debt, your obligation will soon overwhelm you.

American journalism also has an obligation — the one enumerated in the first amendment — to be the final check on power. That, all by itself, is advocacy journalism. Right is being advocated over might.

In other parts of the world — England, for instance — where newspaper cultures still exist, it’s understood that The Daily Telegraph and the Times Of London are right-leaning if not entirely right wing newspapers while The Guardian and The Independent have a more progressive bent. In other words — the editorial slant of the papers is well known up front. The journalism stands on its own — though the stories they pursue do answer their call toward progressivism. So long as a journalistic source makes that clear up front?

Then they have no other explaining to do to justify their work and their conclusions. You can measure their investigations and work against their politics and make up your own mind as to how much their politics colored their investigation. If, however, the investigation is well-documented? That fact should speak loudest.

While Progressive advocacy journalism will absolutely have a political sheen to it, everything below the sheen is real. That’s the nature of advocacy journalism because what advocacy journalism is always advocating for: the Truth.

First & Foremost, Slavery Was Stolen Labor

If I steal your car, I’ve stolen something you bought using money you made from the sweat of your brow. If I enslave you, I cut out the middle man as it were. I don’t have to steal your car to get what was yours, I steal your labor directly. It’s more efficient. More ruthless.

In America, slavery belonged to the south where it worked the fields mostly. Picking cotton and cutting sugar cane were labor intensive work back before machinery showed up. If a plantation owner had to pay for labor (never mind a fair wage for that labor), their profits would have been wafer thin if they’d had any at all. The whole point of slavery is you get the work done — and you make your money — without having to worry about the cost of labor. Sure, sure — you still have to feed and house that labor but, since they’re slaves anyway, it’s not like you have to make their food or housing decent.

Since slaves aren’t technically human to the slaver (even calling slaves three-fifths of a regular white person was an over-statement to them made solely to cut the Electoral College deal), he can not only steal their labor but every other facet of their lives too. The slaver can see the slave’s children like calves or lambs to be separated from their parents and sold off individually.

If I steal your labor, I steal a big part of you — of who you are and why you’re here. You may think your purpose in life is to live happily. I think your purpose is to pick my cotton and keep the mint juleps flowing — for free. If I win that fight and force you to work for me, for nothing, you will have no way even to earn your way to freedom. I will know that you will be my slave forever.

The fact is, slavery was very good for the Confederacy’s agrarian economy. “If the Confederacy had been a separate nation, it would have ranked as the fourth richest in the world at the start of the Civil War.” Without slavery, the south couldn’t produce cotton cheaply. That is no justification for slavery. But it was to the south.

Ironically, when Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1794, they thought the gin’s ability to comb cotton seeds from cotton bolls would reduce the need for slavery. The opposite happened. While a slave “could pick the seeds out of 10 pounds of cotton in a day. The cotton gin could process 100 pounds in the same time.” The white guys running things planted more cotton. Rather, they had their slaves plant more cotton.

America has always lived with an impossibility at its core — the idea that “all men are created equal” except the ones who are slaves. Not only did we not actually believe that all men were created equal, we did not believe their work was equal either. We’ve always believed that white peoples’ work was worth more than black peoples’ work — even if it was the same damned work.

Once I steal your productivity, your happiness is easy to pick off and destroy. It’s stolen labor that makes slavery “slavery”.

Can We PLEASE Stop Living Inside False Narratives?

Some false narratives are okay — Santa Claus, for instance.

In point of fact, no jolly, old white man lives at the North Pole where he “employs” (can we please see a labor contract?) elves who make toys for every child on earth — to be delivered over roughly a 12 – 24 hour period via a low tech sleigh pulled by dubious-tech flying reindeer.

It’s a false narrative to tell kids that a human such as Santa exists therefore they better behave themselves. Every time we tell a kid this tripe, we’re telling them we want an untruth to be the basis for their behavior. It won’t be the last time we pepper spray people with untruth and insist they believe it.

Most kids figure it out eventually. There’s no Santa Claus. Yeah, yeah — “culture” and “harmless” and “tradition” but a lie is a lie is a lie. We are still justifying a lie when we could just as easily have told them the truth.

Santa is a false narrative. So is “Donald Trump is a legitimate president therefore we should treat him as such”.

Donald Trump has never been legitimate. He’s been telling us that from the get-go. It might behoove us to listen to him. But, Donald Trump pushing a false narrative — his legitimacy — is one thing. The news media doing it — that’s a whole other thing entirely. That, probably, continues to be the biggest impediment to America solving its problems quickly (or at least more quickly): in the face of mounting evidence — that they themselves were reporting — the news media continues to report on Trump as if he was “normal” — as if his absurd, abnormal-to-its-core presidency was “normal”.

The evidence that our press lives inside a false narrative shows itself every time a reporter wonders aloud if Trump has finally “pivoted” or “changed tone” when all he did actually was read off a teleprompter or NOT act like an ape for two seconds. He didn’t call Mexicans rapists again or tell us how easy it is to score with chicks when you’re famous. Our press lives inside a false narrative that racists & rapists suddenly reform — as if they experienced a religious conversion.

Our press apparently believes in religious conversions. You know, cos “magic!”

I’d love to know who first belched out “both sides do it” and then made that pervasive idiocy the curriculum across America’s J schools. It’s lazy — intellectually, morally, reportorially. It starts by removing itself from the moral equation. “We’re not there to judge”, this brand of journalism tells itself. “We’re just there to report ‘the facts’ as we see them.” But, if you don’t judge facts — that is, if you give all information equal weight — true or untrue — then the the first thing that dies is perspective.

Everything’s a flat, treeless plain. No hills. No valleys.

When a terrible journalist like NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell repeats back the vile, lying puke that Trump or his press office spews — as if it “could” be true (and therefore they’re obligated to report it) — they’re giving it credence. It could be true. No, it can’t. And no amount of “coulding” will change that. Kelly O’Donnell reports virtually context free. I’m sure she’s a lovely person — warm and amiable (it’s how I perceive her anyway) — but an open mic & a camera on sticks could do what she’s doing and for a lot less money.

Bad journalists like Kelly foster the notion that Donald Trump’s presidency falls within the “perfectly normal” range. As Kelly is a trusted, professional storyteller (that’s what journalists are), the public then takes Kelly’s presentation as valid. Trump’s utter bullshit — delivered to Kelly with the utmost cynicism — has now been fed to the American news watching public as if it was “good for them”.

Kelly made bullshit wholesome.

It starts there. Then grows. No — it metastasizes because that’s what this is — a cancer. False narratives are a cancer of the consciousness. They get us believing things that are verifiably untrue (like “the coronavirus will just disappear!” — which will ultimately kill us just like a cancer.

Donald Trump turned his whole coronavirus response into a false narrative — into a whole string of them actually. The virus will disappear. It only kills old people. Masks make me look weak. He turned Black Lives Matter into a false narrative that this is about civil unrest. He turned his entire presidency into a false narrative that he isn’t owned outright by Russia. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect those dots.

You can’t ease yourself off of false narratives. You have to go cold turkey. Otherwise the false narrative will lure you back — using some false narrative.

We’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that Donald Trump’s entire presidency has been a giant false narrative. The rule of law has never stopped functioning; we simply stopped enforcing it. But, when we do go back to enforcing it, we’ll be obligated to deal with this patch right here — when we stopped enforcing it.

The rule of law is very clear: if you cheat to become the president, then you are not (and never have been) president. One plus one can never equal three. If Trump’s very legitimacy is a false narrative then everything inside the false narrative is — say it with me — “FALSE!” An illegitimate president never had the legitimate authority to anything presidential — especially nominate judges (with lifetime appointments). When you consider that getting to appoint those judges (despite Trump’s known illegitimacy) was the point of the exercise — none of this comports with the rule of law. The false narrative would be that it has something to do with Justice. It does not.

A lot of us felt the false narrative kick in the night Trump “won” the 2016 election. We were incredulous, terrified, gob-smacked. But we were also reacting in real time — and with incredible accuracy — to something very real: a strong sense that the man who’d just become president did not win.

We were right. That’s the narrative we should be starting from — that our news media should be starting from.

Donald Trump’s legitimacy is the biggest false narrative going.

How WOULD America Act If Trump COULD Finish His Authoritarian Coup D’Etat?

We are living through the most jaw-dropping story no writer could possibly write (and get away with). But the rules of storytelling still apply — because storytelling rules are based on how human beings behave. When storytellers get human beings wrong? The people listening to their stories bail. The stories no longer make sense because “nobody acts like that”.

That Republicans backed Trump and Russia (knowing that Trump himself was backed by Russia) would seem strange until you see Republicans in their proper context: a shrinking demographic desperately trying to hang onto political power. Their history of suppressing Democratic voters speaks volumes — the modern GOP has never been “into” actual representative government. That’s why they gerrymander districts. One doesn’t gerrymander so as to better administer to the will of the people, one does it to circumvent their will.

As Donald Trump himself said out loud — when more Americans vote, it’s bad for Republicans. Right — because when more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats — who represent how those Americans want to be governed.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by at least 3,000,000 votes. Without the massive voter suppression aimed at HRC’s voters? That number’s bigger. By a lot. And I will believe Donald Trump won the Electoral College votes of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin & Michigan in 2016 fairly and squarely as soon as we’ve done some real, thorough and serious forensics on both machines (which were all susceptible to hacking) and the impact of Russian propaganda efforts in those states. Remember — we know already that Trump’s 2016 campaign manager handed Konstantin Kilimnik (he of the GRU — Russian Military Intelligence) proprietary polling data from four states (PA/WI/MI and Minnesota) which Russia turned into personalized Facebook ads that turned up on the personal Facebook pages of African American voters in those four states. Think propaganda doesn’t work? Then why do people & countries spend so much money on it?

It’s advertising. It works.

While Americans are slow to anger — it took three-and-a-half years (plus the 400 years before it) for white people to finally get it that enslaving black people is morally repugnant even if all you do is accept it — once we get angry, we stay angry. At least for a while. How long that while will be?

That’s the Undiscovered Country. Americans have never been “occupied” by a hostile foreign power — not since the Civil War anyway. When it happened then? It pissed Americans off. The South hated it when the North invaded and the North hated it when the South pushed as far North as Gettysburg. While the countries of Europe have a long history of being invaded, conquered and occupied (Except for Switzerland maybe) across a thousand years, America (a very new country by comparison) has no such history.

That matters. People in Belgium and parts of France have been run over by Germans or Prussians for hundreds of years. WWI and WWII weren’t unique experiences. The rest of Europe routinely invaded itself or, going back even further, was accustomed to being invaded by Huns or other hostile tribes from beyond the Rubicon.

Americans are used to being the invaders. We DO the conquering, not the other way around. It’s part of our mindset. It’s how we think of ourselves. Which means that what Donald Trump & Bill Barr are trying to pull off in Portland (and now Chicago, Kansas City and who knows what other cities) will come up against not just the peaceful protesters in the street but the idea in their heads that Americans do not get invaded or occupied.

Tear-gassing moms will not convince them otherwise. As happened in Portland — more moms turned out the next night. And more moms after that.

Trump has no choice BUT to try and finish the soft coup d’etat he and the GOP pulled off with extensive Russian help in 2016. In no way did Trump “win” the presidency freely or fairly. We don’t know yet how many Republicans knew this even as they ran for office themselves in 2016, but we do know that PLENTY OF THEM KNEW. “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump” is how current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it as he entered a room filled with Republican muckety-mucks. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan told everyone there they weren’t going to talk about that fact.

Note — Paul Ryan didn’t reply “What? Are you sure about that, Kev’? Quick, somebody, get the FBI on the phone — we have a problem!” No, instead Paul Ryan replied: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

The protesting in Portland has gone on for more than 50 days straight. If Trump tries to put his foot on New York City’s neck — or Chicago’s — or Albuquerque’s — or Oakland’s — or anywhere, he’ll find not just resistance but a citizenry ready to take him on. Even the Republicans see our handwriting on their wall. That’s the handwriting of We The People. The polling indicates no just an electoral blowout coming for the Republican Party but near electoral obliteration.

Even the Republicans who survive the maelstrom will still have to deal with a minimized presence, a wretched brand and an increasingly marginized base that will have been significantly culled by the coronavirus (and their refusal to take it seriously). They will have to deal with an ongoing series of trials that will spell out in graphic detail the extent of Republican corruption. Every bit of regressive legislation they try to push will die on the vine while more and more of their co-conspirators get sent off to prison for the rest of their lives. In the end, even those last few “proud Republicans” will have to re-brand.

The word “Republican” will have been that damaged that they’ll have no choice if they want to have any say whatsoever in our democratic process.

That’s how America will react when Trump attempts to put his jack boot upon us. It will be messy. Trump will do it (he has no choice) and we will not just resist but fight him off completely. We, too, have no choice.

It comes down to this. Trump has it right about what happens when too many Americans get involved in politics. They at least lean Democratic. Democrats are very different from Republicans. For one thing, we do not ever march in lockstep — ideologically. We’re still the unmanageable “rabble” Will Rogers was thinking of when he said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”.

But threaten our rights and we get remarkably organized. Trump and his Republican co-conspirators will do everything they can to get away with this (“this” being election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason). They have no choice. The instant Trump stops being POTUS (and stops being protected by that ludicrous DoJ rule that supposedly says you can’t indict a sitting president), his legal problems will begin in earnest. He will never go another day of his life where he isn’t in legal trouble — or civil. The same goes for pretty much every single Republican.

“See something, say something” is how conspiracy works. Except, with conspirators, it’s “See something, say nothing“. That’s what makes them co-conspirators. Even if you suspect illegal shit is going on? You are obligated to say something otherwise it forces us to ask “why?” WHY did you not say anything about the crimes you suspected were happening?

Trump will not succeed. The Republican Party will not succeed. The best they can hope for is that 30% of the country backs them. Even among that 30%, it’s a pretty small number who will be willing to die for the Republican Party — especially as its callousness puts more Americans in desperate financial straits and the coronavirus’ deadly path.

Know who Trump’s going up against? This little girl. This fierce little girl.

See that fire in her eyes? That’s what’s burning inside a growing number of Americans who don’t want America to go back to how it was.

We want America to finally become the thing it always should have been.

Necessary Trouble

Courage is a mysterious thing. You can’t buy it. If you have it, you can’t save it till you need it. You have to rely on the fact that your courage will be there — and that there will be enough of it — at the moment you really, really need it.

Maybe, as with John Lewis, you’re born with it. Or, maybe as John Lewis taught, it’s something can cultivate in yourself.

John Lewis died last night. He taught us so much — and had so much more still to impart. Even when he spurred us to action, he did it in a way that understood both what he was really asking of us and how we might best understand what we were really doing.

“My philosophy is very simple. When you see something that is not right. Not fair. Not just. Say something. Do something. Get in trouble. Good trouble. Necessary trouble.” –

Representative John Lewis

Say something. Do something. Get in trouble.

Good trouble.

Necessary trouble.

Good trouble is the moral imperative to fight what’s wrong. Necessary trouble is the act of engagement — of putting your ass (or your head — as John Lewis did) on the line. If a thing is necessary, it takes away any moral equivocating. You have to do it. It’s necessary (not just “good”).

The day John Lewis’ skull got fractured by Alabama State Police, he knew from previous experience that things could get violent. Deadly even. But the necessity of changing America overrode everything. It demanded Necessary Trouble.

It’s our obligation to carry John Lewis’ hopes for America forward. The Black Lives Matter protests aren’t the culmination of necessary trouble, they’re the process of necessary trouble producing its desired outcome. In a way, it’s like a glacier carving out a mountain as it flows downward. It’s a long, long grind.

America’s latent racism has become blatant. That cannot stand. We owe it to ourselves to make America live up to its ideals — if only for the first time.

That’s white people I’m talking about. Black people, brown people, native people, Asian people — any people not strictly White – they’ve always lived up to America’s ideals because they actually believe in them. They actually believe that all people are created equal before the law.

White people need to own a hard, painful truth about ourselves: we tolerated racism because we benefited from racism.

That can’t be.

We must confront it head on — in an act of necessary trouble.

America Is Realizing: It’s Been Living A Lie; The Good News? It Wants To Stop Living That Lie

How can all men be created equal when some are considered slaves? Those two ideas cannot exist together.

The trick to living “bullshit-free” is you start with yourself. Forget anyone else’s bullshit till you’ve dealt with your own. Trust me — once you’ve started an honest, deep dive into every one of the truths, half-truths and total lies you tell yourself every day? You won’t have time to even think about anyone else’s crap.

America has lived a lie since its founding. “All men are created equal” and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. They can’t live in the same hemisphere never mind the same zip code.

Europe took Christianity and turned it from “doing unto others” into a Holy Roman Weapon that was going to “save you” even as it murdered you — a very neat trick. As Jared Diamond points out in his excellent book “Guns, Germs & Steel”, Europeans are bullies who dominated everyone they touched not because of any genomic superiority but because where they lived provided them certain important advantages when they encountered other people. For one, their continent and its access to trade routes to Asia gave them both raw native materials (like iron) and access to foreign raw materials (like silk).

Europeans and their active trading gave them something else — collective immunity to diseases like smallpox.

When the Europeans arrived in North America, their microbes decimated the native American peoples with horrifying efficiency. Ninety percent. And the Europeans didn’t even know they’d done it. The Europeans arrived with bad intentions and an angry god in their baggage. They used their angry god to justify their bad intentions. They used their angry god to justify their bullying.

European culture has contributed lots of nice things to world culture — some lovely architecture, sculpture and painting. Terrific music. Great food. A fair amount of noteworthy literature and philosophical thinking. They also contributed more bullying than anyone else.

European bullying, in fact, outweighs everything else Europe contributed to the world by a factor of a million. Europeans needed slaves to do the back-breaking work of planting and harvesting cotton and sugar cane (which is especially labor-intensive). The whole basis for slavery, don’t forget, was relatively free labor. You don’t have to pay a slave a salary but you do have to house and feed him — albeit just enough to do the work you need him to do so you can steal it from him.

Remember — America did not begin its life as any sort of level playing field though it aspired to be one. The problem — its idea of a level playing field (“all men are created equal”) was contradicted by the devil’s bargain it made by allowing slavery to continue. America’s current Independence Day makes a mockery of the very ideals it insists it’s celebrating. We are only as free as the least free among us.

America wasn’t free until every slave stopped being a slave — especially those who didn’t know they’d been freed and were no longer in bondage. But, even the end of slavery didn’t end slavery. Though it stopped existing as a legitimate business or “institution” with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (1862), the last slave didn’t learn they were free until June 1865. Juneteenth should be America’s Independence Day — that’s the first day we even pretended that “all men” were “created equal”.

Even when we gave blacks legal standing, we couldn’t help thieving from them. How many of those 40 acres plus mule ended up in white hands instead of black? How much of “Black Wall Street” was returned to the successful black businesspeople and entrepreneurs who were murdered, burnt out or sent fleeing during the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921?

White people have a shitload to answer for — not that they’ll ever get around to it. They’re so busy, ya know…

The good news is the African American women have had our backs the whole time. If there was a way to award a group of people for constancy, integrity, loyalty and grit in the face of relentless cruelty, African American women would be perennial first place finishers. Despite hundreds of years of unspeakable abuse, they remain by and large America’s most fiercely loyal subscribers. They believe in our ideals more than we do.

But that, apparently, has started to change. What even black leaders acknowledge is a sign that something very real has changed — the majority of protesters there demanding institutional change in the face of systemic racism are white people. The white majority has finally realized that they can’t possibly be as free as they want to be until black and brown people have exactly the same opportunities, benefits and privileges.

Black women especially have always known about the responsibilities that come with freedom. They’ve been reliably civic-minded from the first instant they were emancipated. Because they knew what it was to be slaves and did not want to live like that ever again.

And they did not want their children or any of their children to taste slavery again.

Racism isn’t an add-on to slavery, it’s slavery’s justification. Ask just about any Trumpanista if they’d be down with bringing slavery back, you KNOW they’d say “yeah — bring it back!”

Trump’s shrinking poll numbers reflect the last few quasi-racist rats abandoning the SS GOP Racist. All that’s left now are the hard core racists. We’re roughly down to the 29% of Americans who still approved of Richard Nixon on the day he resigned because of Watergate. Let’s stop trying to redeem these people. They don’t want redemption, they want to hate.

Though the press has stopped covering them, Americans STILL are taking to the streets every day to protest. The “silent majority” that Spiro Agnew invented (actually the term went back a ways and originally referred to the dead as the “silent majority”) were as much a legitimate “majority” as Jerry Falwell, Sr’s “moral” majority were legitimately moral. They weren’t.

A majority of voters chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. We know it was at least 3 million voters more but, if we extrapolate the number of possible suppressed votes and voters — HRC’s victory (in terms of who wanted her vs who wanted Trump — regardless of their ability to realize their vote) would likely have been far, far bigger if every voter got to vote and every vote got counted.

There’s a reason Donald Trump & the GOP fear vote-by-mail like a black person moving into their neighborhood. In their mind, “there it goes”. Trump has said the “keep it silent” out loud: when more Americans vote, they vote Democratic which means if all Americans voted, Republicans would likely lose every election going forward.

The reason is that Americans are now woke. Only someone who wants to live in the past would vote for Republicans. People who now demand that America FINALLY live up to its own damned ideals have taken over the conversation and it’s about damned time.

If only the news media would get woke along with us. They, too, are living a lie — that “both sides do it” (whatever the hell “it” is).

America already feels the cleansing power of the light. We need to shine it on Republican corruption like it was an ultraviolet light destroying virus particles.

We The People do not fear the truth. We know now what it will free us from.