What Soccer (Football To The Rest Of The Civilized World) Can Teach Us About Life

Soccer’s a simple sport. That’s why it’s universal. Kick the ball into the other guy’s goal more than he kicks it into yours and you win. Now, throw a few off side rules into the mix, some great strategic thinking and some talent to pull it off and that simple sport becomes exactly what they call it: the beautiful game. Few things are as sublime as when eleven players hitch their collective will to putting a ball into the back of the other team’s net and then do it with surgical precision. Achieving that collective perfection might not be as hard as hitting a Major League fastball, but it’s not far behind. It’s absolutely do-able. But only by a few.

And yet — perfection aside — almost anyone can play this game and enjoy it for its own sake.

I’m a Tottenham Hotspur fan, I thing I came into being via marriage to a Brit whose family were Spurs supporters (well, my wife is and her brother is; their sister is a Liverpool supporter — splitter!). I’ve always loved soccer, back to when I first learned to play it at sleepaway camp when I was six. Growing up in Baltimore, I even attended Bays games (they played in the National Professional Soccer League for three seasons 1967 – 1969) at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.

When my son wanted to play rec center soccer here in LA (he was five), I didn’t just sign him up, I volunteered to coach. Then I created a club team (Silver Lake FC). By the time I stepped aside (my son unfortunately got injured), SLFC had six teams and almost a hundred players. So, soccer has already informed my life in plenty of ways.

But, something that happened Saturday drove home (a baseball metaphor being apt as the LA Dodgers are about to start the World Series today against the Tampa Bay Rays) a particularly important lesson at a particular time. On Sunday, the Spurs counted their chickens before said chickens had hatched. They put three points in the win column before finishing the game they were playing in.

That will almost always bite you in the ass.

After years of struggling to figure out who it was, Spurs have got an amazing new stadium, a new top tier coach (Jose Morinho) and, after picking eight new pieces in the transfer window (they just acquired Welsh international defender Joe Rodon from Swansea for eleven million pounds — when they could have gotten as much as twenty million), seem two-deep at every position for the first time ever. Two weeks ago, Spurs thumped Manchester United 6-1 (after thumping Tel Aviv Maccabee 7-1 in a Europa League game). With Gareth Bale now back in the squad (and with the other new signings finding their feet), Spurs walked onto their pitch to face West Ham this past Sunday, feeling a little like football’s next gods.

When they had West Ham down 3-0 within fifteen minutes, they were convinced: they WERE gods. And, being gods, they could rest on their laurels instead of playing the rest of the game. That worked out to a 3-3 tie, West Ham shocking Spurs with 3 goals in the last ten minutes including a dunderheaded own goal by Spurs defender Davinson Sanchez.

When West Ham took the field in the second half, they played as if the game still mattered. Having nothing to lose, they pressed Spurs — and Spurs let them. They figured, why spend any more energy than necessary? Their three point lead was insurmountable.

And therein is the Life Lesson. You still have to PLAY the game. Talent without effort is worthless. Assuming you have anything in the bag will end up with you IN the bag.

Donald Trump is not going to win this election. If he finds some way to “win” it, it will not be a legitimate win in any way, shape or form. Just like the “win” in 2016 was illegitimate. FFS, Trump himself kept telling us it was illegitimate; our news media to this day refuses to believe him.

The Democratic primary process drew from a deep, deep bench with plenty of philosophical heft. The candidates (for the most part) were authentic, their public servant bona fides genuine. While Joe Biden may not have been the embodiment of Progressive aspirations, the Progressive’s aspirations have already become the embodiment of the party’s ideals. The door will be open to the full Progressive agenda — socialized medicine, debt-free education, UBI; the only way out of this fiasco will BE through Progressive policies like those.

Conservatism after all is what brought us to the cliff’s edge.

The first goal West Ham scored against Spurs came during a set play — a free kick into the box that West Ham converted via a beautiful header. Set plays into the box — usually in the form of corner kicks — are perfect examples of how random chaos works. In essence, you can have twenty-one players moving in various directions, trying to anticipate the flight pattern of a ball and where it might land or bounce. Balls ricochet. Even a mis-directed kick can re-direct into the back of the net.

Our current situation, two weeks before perhaps the most important election in America’s history, is a lot like the chaos inside the goal box — as a corner kick flies toward it — as an important match expires.

Turns out We The People have way more players in the box than the Republicans do — and we’re poised to score and take the points. But the Republicans aren’t playing fairly. Their pal Vladimir is hiding another ball that he plans to introduce just as the official ball reaches the box.

Vladimir — and the Republicans — will insist that THAT ball’s the real ball and the one we’ve been chasing — the real ball — isn’t.

Vlad, Don and the Re-thug-licans plan to run their fake ball to the other end of the field and literally throw it into our net, claiming an incredible shock-victory. They’ll insist that they absolutely followed the rules to a “T”.

Unfortunately for them, that “T” also stands for Trump. To borrow again from baseball, America needs to keep its eye on THE ball.

Dear American News Media: Stop Asking The Democrats To Compromise With Republicans; No One Should Compromise With Evil

“Evil” is a loaded word. It’s a little like “Nazi” or comparing people to Hitler. Back when Donald Trump was sworn in — and some of us noticed how evil and Nazi-like Trump was already behaving — “Godwin’s Law” was invoked (Godwin’s Law says that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”) to poo-poo any such comparisons. Donald Trump — per the news media — was just a “different kind of potus”. You know, the kind that doesn’t follow rules. Or the law. Or the Constitution.

Donald Trump is not a “different” kind of president, he’s a criminal. He’s a rapist and a thief and a money launderer and a traitor (not necessarily in that order). That’s all in the public record. It would be how we already think of Trump — except the news media keeps setting side all the details they learn about Trump in order to start each day’s reporting from that “he’s a different kind of potus” perch.

Oy.

If Donald Trump walked into the house of each of those journalists who can’t put the proper names to Trump’s criminal, corrupt, treasonous behavior and deliberately infected them and their whole families, I bet those brave journalists would call out Trump for being not just evil but Evil. I guess once their families are in the game, shit gets too real. But what about other families?

Evil is evil is Evil. Raping women is evil. Donald Trump is a rapist. Money laundering is evil. Trump has laundered copious amounts of Russian mob money. Separating children from their parents and putting them in cages is evil. Trump has done that. Committing treason is evil — as is stealing an election (then trying to steal your re-election) and lying about a pandemic because it hurts your electoral chances.

Mitch McConnell — he’s evil, too. Where to begin?

Mitch’s pandemic relief proposal is designed to be too little to do anyone any good. Remember: it’s Mitch’s game plan to kill off any possibility of “socialized” government. Pandemic relief — to the RW money behind Mitch — is the same as UBI (universal basic income). That’s even worse than socialized medicine to these crony capitalists. As horrified as Mitch is by Nancy Pelosi’s $2.2 billion dollar demand for relief, he was even more horrified by Trump spitting and spewing how he wants to shell out way more (he’s at that desperate “buy all the votes you can!” place).

The point: Mitch isn’t negotiating. His starting point was meant as his end point — and he was reluctant to be that generous. By design, Mitch’s proposal won’t pay anyone nearly enough to stay home and wait out the pandemic (like most other countries have done). Like Trump, he’s happy with everyone rushing into the pandemic’s maw — so long as he gets to stay safely at home.

Quick reminder: In the leadup to election 2016, Mitch refused to let We The People in on the dirty secret that Russia was weighing in to the election, bent on making Trump president. It was Mitch who tossed aside the sanctions against Oleg Deripaska so he could score a $400 million Russian aluminum factory in Kentucky. Deripaska, remember, was sanctioned for his role in subverting the 2016 election.

Mitch McConnell is evil — with a turtle face.

The news media — and a few wavering Democrats — want Nancy Pelosi to compromise with Mitch and the Republicans. They want us to take Mitch’s bullshit proposal seriously. They want us to make a deal with bullshit. With evil bullshit.

While some very desperate people will get relief the desperately need, that very short term fix won’t solve their long term problem. In fact, it will exacerbate their long term problem. Evil will have gained greater leverage.

How might the Jews have compromised with the Holocaust hunting them? How might the Armenians have compromised with the Turks hell bent on slaughtering them? How about the Croats being snipered by the racist Serbs? I could go on.

The people urging compromise with evil have never been subjected to evil. Or, if they have, they’ve sold out as a response — hoping like hell that by selling out, they can avoid the slaughter. Like the Jewish capo’s who worked with the Germans in the Warsaw Ghetto — offering to fill the railroad cars bound for the camps themselves. These Judenrats — Jewish councils — did all of Hitler’s dirtiest work for him — and then got tossed onto the same pile of bodies anyway.

All compromise bought was a little time — at the expense of one’s soul.

That’s a terrible deal.

It’d be like compromising with Donald Trump — and letting him inside your house to harangue you (while infecting you and your entire family).

Only a fool — or, apparently, an American journalist — would do such a thing.

Breaking News: Having Experienced COVID-19 For Himself, Trump Reveals His New, Trump-Style Health Care Plan: It’s Called “TrumpCare PICK-AN-ORGAN”

Finally – a health “care” plan that thinks like Donald Trump does — and “takes care” of people the same way. That is, it picks their pocket with one hand while taking their temperature with the other. Or it behaves like a super spreader’s super spreader.

Donald can relate to COVID-19 — now that he’s had it. Now that the coronavirus has paid the very house call he dared it to. Why, having feared for his mortality, suddenly Trump has gone all George Bailey and suddenly wants to make the world a better…– Oh, puh-lease! Who are we kidding? Donald Trump will always be “It’s A Wonderful Life’s” Mr. Potter — except a kajillion times worse and a far, far bigger asshole.

Speaking of assholes — the problem with normal health insurance is you end up paying to insure stuff that probably doesn’t need insuring. Like your asshole. Or your gall bladder. What are the odds either will go bad on you. Hell, you probably don’t even know what your gall bladder does (hint — it doesn’t gall you). So, how could you miss it?

With “Trump-Care ‘PICK-AN-ORGAN”, you’re in “full control” of which organs you insure and which you’re willing to gamble on. C’mon — when was the last time you gave a flying crap about your spleen? Hey — better question: when was the last time your spleen gave a flying crap about you?

Who wants to pay for health care YOU won’t ever get — or “might not” ever need?  Only a schmuck pays for other peoples’ healthcare, amiright?

Think of it THIS WAY:  You have lots of organs.  What are the chances any will ‘go south’ on you during your lifetime?  Your lungs?  Probably not — unless you smoke.  Your kidneys — You have two — you’re playing with house money.  Your heart?  Well, okay — that one could be a problem but at TrumpCare, we assume you don’t have a heart so what are we even talking about?

The point is, Trumpanistas are too smart to INSURE organs they don’t need to — or are worth the risk NOT to insure.  And that’s why they (and everyone! will love “TrumpCare PICK-AN-ORGAN”!

LUNGS

07_Organs_Lungs_Front.pdf_1600x

Odds are nothing will happen to either of em.  But you want to play it safe — so we offer options to allow YOU to decide:  Insure Neither Lung, One Lung or Both Lungs!

See?  Easy!  Now, of course, the trick is, if you insure just one?  Ya better hope like hell you insured the correct Lung — the one that’s gonna be needing insurance…

LET’S TALK INTESTINES!

human-intestines-sciepro

If you’re like the average Joe, you have LOTS of this stuff inside ya.  You have intestines to spare.  In fact, you have so much intestine you even have two kinds (I know — weird, huh?)   But do you really need to insure both?  Do you really need to insure ‘ALL’ of it?

And what about your APPENDIX?  You don’t even use it — hell you haven’t used it in millions of years.  Only an idiot insures something he can’t use — amiright?

I KNOW THAT’S MY LIVER BUT WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ‘GREEN’ THING?

cartoon-of-human-liver-and-gallbladder-vector-7563173

The Truth is — Outside of your heart and lungs, your stomach and your anus, you haven’t a clue how any of your plumbing works.  You know you HAVE a Liver and you remember somebody lecturing you once about alcoholism while you were passed out in a drunken stupor but that was so long ago.

Be that as it may — This is probably you:  “What in hell’s name is that green thing — and please don’t say I have one…!”

Yeah, you have one all right — and it costs a BOMB to insure it — IF you insure it…

YOUR SPLEEN — 1-2-3-ANSWER QUICKLY:  ‘WHAT’S IT DO?‘

human-spleen-visceral-surface-synthesizes-antibodies-53319933

Not a goddamned clue, amiright (and “The spleen ‘spleens’ ain’t it”)?

Here – we’ll even show you a spleen and point out all its bits.  Does THAT help?  No?

And you want to insure this WHY?

AND THEN THERE’S THIS ORGAN…

cerebro-humano

Insuring brains is expensive.  In fact, it’s SO expensive, you’d have to be crazy to pay the freight.  So why bother.

TrumpCare ‘PICK-AN-ORGAN’: ‘Hey — look at all the money YOU just saved!’

Breaking News: Trump HAS Been Working On A Health Plan: It’s called “TrumpCare PICK-AN-ORGAN”

Finally – a health “care” plan that thinks like Donald Trump does — and “takes care” of people the same way.

The problem with normal health insurance is you end up paying to insure stuff that probably didn’t need insuring. Take your gall bladder. What are the odds that’s going to go bad on you. Hell, you probably don’t even know what your gall bladder does. So, how could you miss it?

With “Trump-Care ‘PICK-AN-ORGAN”, you’re in “full control” of which organs you insure and which you’re willing to gamble on. C’mon — when was the last time you gave a crap about your spleen? Hey — better question: when was the last time your spleen gave a crap about you?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pick-an-organ-front-card-revised.jpg

Who wants to pay for health care YOU won’t ever get — or “might not” ever need?  Only a schmuck pays for other peoples’ healthcare, amiright?

Think of it THIS WAY:  You have lots of organs.  What are the chances any will ‘go south’ on you during your lifetime?  Your lungs?  Probably not — unless you smoke.  Your kidneys — You have two — you’re playing with house money.  Your heart?  Well, okay — that one could be a problem but at TrumpCare, we assume you don’t have a heart so what are we even talking about?

The point is, Trumpanistas are too smart to INSURE organs they don’t need to — or are worth the risk NOT to insure.  And that’s why they (and everyone! will love “TrumpCare PICK-AN-ORGAN”!

LUNGS

07_Organs_Lungs_Front.pdf_1600x

Odds are nothing will happen to either of em.  But you want to play it safe — so we offer options to allow YOU to decide:  Insure Neither Lung, One Lung or Both Lungs!

See?  Easy!  Now, of course, the trick is, if you insure just one?  Ya better hope like hell you insured the correct Lung — the one that’s gonna be needing insurance…

LET’S TALK INTESTINES!

human-intestines-sciepro

If you’re like the average Joe, you have LOTS of this stuff inside ya.  You have intestines to spare.  In fact, you have so much intestine you even have two kinds (I know — weird, huh?)   But do you really need to insure both?  Do you really need to insure ‘ALL’ of it?

And what about your APPENDIX?  You don’t even use it — hell you haven’t used it in millions of years.  Only an idiot insures something he can’t use — amiright?

I KNOW THAT’S MY LIVER BUT WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ‘GREEN’ THING?

cartoon-of-human-liver-and-gallbladder-vector-7563173

The Truth is — Outside of your heart and lungs, your stomach and your anus, you haven’t a clue how any of your plumbing works.  You know you HAVE a Liver and you remember somebody lecturing you once about alcoholism while you were passed out in a drunken stupor but that was so long ago.

Be that as it may — This is probably you:  “What in hell’s name is that green thing — and please don’t say I have one…!”

Yeah, you have one all right — and it costs a BOMB to insure it — IF you insure it…

YOUR SPLEEN — 1-2-3-ANSWER QUICKLY:  ‘WHAT’S IT DO?‘

human-spleen-visceral-surface-synthesizes-antibodies-53319933

Not a goddamned clue, amiright (and “The spleen ‘spleens’ ain’t it”)?

Here – we’ll even show you a spleen and point out all its bits.  Does THAT help?  No?

And you want to insure this WHY?

AND THEN THERE’S THIS ORGAN…

cerebro-humano

Insuring brains is expensive.  In fact, it’s SO expensive, you’d have to be crazy to pay the freight.  So why bother.

TrumpCare ‘PICK-AN-ORGAN’: ‘Hey — look at all the money YOU just saved!’

Every Story May Have Two Points Of View, But It Doesn’t Necessarily Have Two “Sides”

“Both Sides Do It” journalism (an oxymoron really) wants to insist that truth & lies have the same weight; it’s not for them to tell their readers which to believe — lies or truth.

That’s not journalism, it’s malpractice justifying its intellectual laziness and lack of moral conviction.

A thief and his victim both have “points of view” on their interaction. But — if the thief gets caught and both thief & victim tell their stories, the thief lying about how he ended up with his victim’s possessions should not get the same respect as the victim’s version — especially if the thief’s lies are apparent. The thief stole for whatever his reasons were — greed probably. There aren’t many Jean Valjean’s stealing bread out there because of hunger.

Yes, yes — we can’t rush to judgment. We need to know the whole story first. But when we say “the whole story”, we don’t mean every last detail.

There may be two points of view in everything Donald Trump says — his and everyone else’s — but there aren’t two “sides”. Having a “side” assumes you have a legitimate argument and having a legitimate argument assumes you’re sincere. Texas Lt Governor Dan Patrick, for instance, is not sincere and does not have a legitimate argument when he says wearing face masks during a pandemic that is eating through his state is unnecessary because the virus isn’t really a problem. People eschewing science and insisting herd immunity will eventually, some day shut down the coronavirus aren’t even espousing a legitimate, fact-based point of view. It doesn’t represent a “side” in any argument.

The man who molested me twice when I was fourteen had a point of view. What he wanted to do to me as I walked in the door wan’t his “side” of our relationship. It was a crime he intended to commit upon me.

Our press — in reporting this story — would drop into its “Well, we have to hear both sides first” stance. Fair enough. But then, look at who you’re talking to — a middle aged man and a 14 year old boy. The only defense the man has is “the boy is lying”.

One side aches to tell the truth. The other aches to cover it up. Two points of view.

Not two “sides” however.

Why Did We Ever Criminalize Drug Use To Begin With? Because Judging People Is Easier Than Helping Them…

The “war on drugs” was never a war on “drugs”. Like the drug laws it was meant to epitomize, the drug war was always entirely focused on drug users. And not just the users because they were using, but on their race.

First Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Harry Anslinger spells it out: our drug laws are all about racism, racism & more racism.

The first drug law in America was written in 1875 in San Francisco — aimed at stopping the spread of opium dens. A noble idea. No one wants to live near an opium den. And, it’s a fact, opium is highly addictive. It needs to be approached with care; even doctor’s get prescribing it horribly wrong. But the law itself — as written — wasn’t concerned with anyone’s neighborhood getting ruined. It wasn’t concerned with anyone getting addicted. In fact, it had no data on hand to justify any concerns it might have about opium’s impact on its users’ health — if it had had any such concerns which it didn’t.

This is from the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy via Wikipedia

The reason cited was “many women and young girls, as well as young men of respectable family, were being induced to visit the Chinese opium-smoking dens, where they were ruined morally and otherwise.”

This law and virtually every opium law that followed drew an important distinction that would ripple through history.

“Though the laws affected the use and distribution of opium by Chinese immigrants, no action was taken against the producers of such products as laudanum, a tincture of opium and alcohol, commonly taken as a panacea by white Americans. The distinction between its use by white Americans and Chinese immigrants was thus based on the form in which it was ingested: Chinese immigrants tended to smoke it, while it was often included in various kinds of generally liquid medicines often (but not exclusively) used by people of European descent. The laws targeted opium smoking, but not other methods of ingestion.

Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Sound familiar? Depending on whether you snorted cocaine as most white people did or smoked it as crack as lots of black people did, the drug laws treated you differently. The laws punished smoking coke far more harshly than snorting it. Same drug, same basic impact on the user — but different law and (especially) different, harsher penalty. And still not a single concern for the user him or herself and the drug’s impact on their well-being.

The very illegalization of drugs has always been about judging the drugs’ users. Let’s face it — white Europeans are the biggest bullies on the planet. They’re professional hegemonists — spreading their culture and “true faith” like an STD. But, even when the Europeans weren’t judging others because they were “others”, they were judging other Europeans for being “weak” and punishing them for their weakness.

In America, prior to enactment of the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, there were no federal laws regulating drugs of any kind. The very real health concerns about opioids aside, the drug laws simply didn’t consider them or even refer to them in its legislation. It wasn’t the point. Here’s the key to the Harrison act: “The courts interpreted [it] to mean that physicians could prescribe narcotics to patients in the course of normal treatment, but not for the treatment of addiction.”

What that means for this highly addictive drug — doctors could prescribe it to relieve pain but once the cause of the pain stopped (and who is to say whether another person is feeling pain or not?), so did the opioid — regardless of what cutting it off did to the user. The law willfully condemned people to suffer. It denied their physical pain — and then wanted to punish them for ever experiencing pain to begin with.

Where does that come from?

Look to your bible. America has always had a strange love for religion — especially a twisted form of Christianity that perverts “Do unto others” to “Do what we say”. The Puritans may have been seeking religious freedom in the Massachusetts Colony, but that was only for themselves. There were reasons no one back in England liked them (and so made them feel despised): they were judgmental. And, while the Salem witch trials were an anomaly, they did reflect Puritanism’s witchcraft-fearing id running wild.

The witchcraft trials were to women what drug laws would later be to black and brown people.

Jesus taught simply “Do Unto Others”. He didn’t say “judge them” or “force your way on them”. The meek, Jesus said, shall inherit the earth. He didn’t say they’d have to do it drug-free. Just as well, as drugs go, there are few as terrible as religion.

Marx got it wrong. Religion isn’t the opiate of the people. If all it did was sedate them, that would be bad enough. It incites them — like angel dust or meth — to mean, dangerous, soulless behavior. Religion (vs spirituality — a very different thing) doesn’t care about what’s hurting them, what’s causing them pain. It’s got its own rules and regs to push. It’s followers are there to do what they’re told not be attended to. They’re a flock of sheep after all. And no one wants an “uppity” sheep.

The painful irony is that alcohol prohibition sprang from a very progressive ideal. It was Europeans judging how Europeans behaved when effected by a European-approved intoxicant: alcohol. And alcohol was a very real problem for a lot of Americans in the latter part of the 19th century when support for prohibition began to grow. But, as we know, in the whole history of human beings, prohibition has never worked — not as intended.

In America, alcohol prohibition criminalized virtually the entire adult population and turned organized crime from a local problem to a national one. Criminal syndicates suddenly had a product to sell — alcohol — that everyone wanted but only they had. We’re still dealing with the mess.

Prohibition may stop people from using a substance because getting it is hard — but it won’t stop them from wanting it. It won’t stop them from gerryrigging ways to either get it or craft a replacement of dubious safety. In general, prohibition wants a grey world to be black & white regardless of how grey it’s always been and always will be.

In America, there was a twist: prohibition wanted the world to be white only. The opium laws (first written in San Francisco) were meant to punish Chinese people brought to America to work — who dared relax in the way they liked. Using the same racist playbook, the first marijuana laws were written to first punish “Hindoos” who “…started quite a demand for cannabis indica; they are a very undesirable lot and the habit is growing in California very fast; the fear is now that it is not being confined to the Hindoos alone but that they are initiating our whites into this habit.”

“Initiating our whites into this habit”. There you have it. No one cared about the Hindoos as people — just as later laws wouldn’t care about individual Mexicans or blacks using marijuana. The laws cared about the white people — about white people doing something “black” or “brown” or “yellow” did. And that was entirely unacceptable.

America’s drug laws have never, ever, EVER been about anyone’s health and always about racism with a side of hatred for “the weak”. Our drug laws mirror something demented in our religious fervor. They speak for it.

Racism is fear. Drug laws are that fear’s manifestation in the law. They’re legalized forms of institutional racism. Period.

In America, Christianity was used more as a cudgel than as a sanctuary. Slavers pointed to the bible to justify their cruelty. Bible thumpers continued pointing at their “good book” to justify miscegenation laws that prevented black people from marrying white people. They used their book to justify all sorts of racist claptrap.

Imagine the audacity of judging love. It’s as stupid and heartless as judging another person’s pain.

No wonder everyone fleeing religion needs a drink.

“Me” v “We”

That, in a nutshell, is the argument we’re having in America today: the rights of “ME” v the rights of “WE”.

I hesitate to call anything “Republican thinking” anymore. That’s an oxymoron. Republicans don’t think, they perpetrate. They’re criminals engaged in a criminal enterprise — the overthrow of the legitimate American government by a devil’s brew of RW money (the Kochs & Mercers), corrupt Republican politicians (Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, Lindsey Graham) and Russian intelligence carrying out a literal plan of operation hatched by Putin himself.

Ask yourself — why are the Republicans doing this? They’re a minority — and getting “minority-ier”. They’re tossing the Constitution and rule of law overboard to hold onto power. What could be more “ME” than that?

What could be more “ME” than a dwindling white minority staring a diverse and diversifying majority in the eye and insisting “ME” while they insist “No, WE”?

Racism is an implied right to hate. No such right exists except in the racist’s mind. Racist thinking and contemporary conservative thinking are a horrifying conjoined twin. They both aspire either to keep America right where it is — a place still simmering in multi-faceted institutional racism or (better yet, to them) a place where nobody talks about racism because it’s that baked in. You, like in the good ol’ 50’s — the 1850’s.

Conservative thinking values property (theirs) over life (yours). Proudly Christian, it’s taken “Do unto others” and turned it into “Do what we say”.

The most glaring example of conservative thinking in our everyday life occurs any time someone walks into a hospital or doctor’s office needing health CARE. The first question we ask isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?”

Before you can get well, we need to know that someone’s gonna make a buck.

That’s slavery thinking where everyone below “Boss Man” is expendable.

Conservatives will tell you all about how the “rugged individual” has any and every right he needs to do what he wants — even if that right tramples other peoples’ rights. When conservatives & libertarians picture that “rugged individual” in their minds? He’s as white as they are. Not only don’t conservatives believe “all men are created equal”, they don’t believe “all rights are created equal” either.

Their rights will always be able to “beat up” our rights (same way their imaginary friend can beat the snot out of yours).

Gun laws aren’t about “rights” per se, they’re about fear — that shrinking white-male-Christian minority legitimizing their bunker mentality. When they think of “people owning all the guns they want”, they aren’t including people of color in that. If they thought for two seconds that the black guy living cross town was arming himself with the same intensity? They’d shit-can that law in a heartbeat.

Donald Trump isn’t the only delusional male telling himself “I alone can fix it”. That disease afflicts plenty of Republicans. You know how pretty much every Republican takes every opportunity to tell us how “God-fearing” they are? Well, that’s bullshit. They don’t “fear” God, they think they “ARE” God. That’s why they alone can “fix it”.

How much more “ME” can ya get?

Progressives view the world through a more “socialized” lens. Having sampled crony capitalism now — and found it wanting — it’s long past time that we try a more legitimate form of capitalism. While we intuitively assume that the people with the most money are “the best capitalists” who know better than the rest of us how capitalism works, if that capitalist is corrupt (they are), they’re actually undermining capitalism, not nurturing it.

Capitalism relies on innovation to focus capital where it needs to go to 1) do the most good and 2) return the most on its investment while doing the most good. Smart capital knows that things that do the most good spread wealth around — which then puts that capital back into the system so it can continue to inspire new innovation. Progressive capitalism self-perpetuates the flow of capital.

Corrupt capital directs all available wealth to its own pocket. The only thing that trickles down is misery. Nothing gets innovated. Everything slowly grinds to a halt as the rich get richer and no one else can afford to buy anything.

“ME”, again.

It’s hard to have a consumer driven economy that depends on consumer confidence when the consumers have no confidence in the economy. But then, crony capitalists — like conservatives — never think that far into the future. That’s because the future is what they’re trying to avoid.

Progressives make better capitalists. Progressives also govern better — because they’re automatically more concerned with “WE” than “ME”. Progressives aren’t perfect. There’s no such thing. But progressives — because it’s how we think — naturally look for solutions that work for the greatest number of people over solutions that work for fewer people.

Progressives understand that “fair” needs to apply to everyone equally. It’s tricky. That’s why the rule of law is so important. Progressives stand by, behind and with the rule of law because it’s the very best way to assure “WE” are treated equally.

Progressives understand that as important as the rights of the individual are, they cannot supersede the rights of the group. A gun owner’s right to stand at his front door, beer in hand, blasting away at his neighbors just for fun cannot supersede his neighbors’ rights to not get shot at by a drunken yahoo.

Progressives really and truly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats.

That’s “all boats” as in “WE”.

Blunt Truth — Marijuana Prohibition Was ALWAYS About RACISM And Nothing But

From the get-go, every impulse to regulate cannabis has been based on racism.

When the California Pharmacy Board amended the state’s Poison Act in 1913 to include marijuana in the “poisons” under its control, they were simply piling onto the racist legislation that began in 1875 when California passed America’s first anti-narcotics laws to “combat” opium dens. Translation: to legalize anti-Chinese racism and bigotry. Up until 1910, no one had an issue with marijuana because no one in America knew what it was.

But, a keen-eyed California racist named Henry J. Finger — a prominent member of the Pharmacy Board — saw something that needed to be stamped out quickly.

I wrote a series — Blunt Truths — for Weedmaps News (back when they were a going concern) about this very subject. I’m biased but I recommend it. At the time, Weedmaps News was being run by journalists including the former LA Times journalist who hired me to write for them — so long as I adhered to journalistic standards. In other words — I couldn’t rely on bullshit to tell the story I wanted to tell. Among the sources I relied on because of their reliability was Dale Gieringer, PhD., a NORML board member. I highly recommend his The Forgotten Origins Of Cannabis Prohibition In California. It’s loaded with fascinating information that will change the way you think about cannabis.

Considering the radical shift in how we see race relations in America that’s happening right this second — Gieringer’s insights take on greater resonance.

For a taste. Here’s Gieringer citing a correspondence between Henry Finger and Hamilton Wright (in 1911 when Wright is the chief architect of US narcotics policy) —

“Within the last year we in California have been getting a large influx of Hindoos and they have in turn started quite a demand for cannabis indica; they are a very undesirable lot and the habit is growing in California very fast…the fear is now that they are initiating our whites into this habit…”

Gieringer notes: “The “Hindoos,” actually East Indian immigrant of Sikh religion and Punjabi origin, had become a popular target of anti-immigrant sentiment after several boatloads arrived in San Francisco in 1910. Their arrival sparked an uproar of protest from Asian exclusionists, who pronounced them to be even more unfit for American civilization than the Chinese.” Immigration authorities quickly cut off the flow. The roughly 2000 “Hindoos” apparently became a threat. They were “widely denounced for their outlandish customs, dirty clothes, strange food, suspect morals, and especially their propensity to work for low wages… no one complained about their use of cannabis. To the contrary, their defenders portrayed them as hard-working and sober. “The taking of drugs as a habit scarcely exists among them,” wrote one observer.”

Henry Finger persisted. “By this time, another menace had appeared on the horizon: “marihuana” had begun to penetrate north of the border from Mexico, carried by immigrants and soldiers during the revolutionary disorders of 1910 – 1920 [aka The Mexican Revolution]. Though hardly known to the American public, marihuana or “loco-weed” was noticed by the pharmacy journals.”

And there you have it. The Pharmacy Board — a supposedly scientific body — was crafting legislation without an ounce of science in it. But there sure was plenty of racism.

Thus marijuana prohibition began. The legislation that followed — most of it with actual “Reefer Madness” in its heart — was driven by America’s first Commissioner of the Federal Narcotics Bureau Harry J. Anslinger — our first “drug czar”. And Anslinger behaved like a drug CZAR. Anslinger — once he came around to the “marihuana is a scourge” point of view (he started out insisting it was harmless) — invented most of what we still think about cannabis. He literally pulled it out of his ass.

His very RACIST ass.

Let’s be clear. Harry Anslinger is a villain not just because he was a racist. He’s a villain because he was also an excellent bureaucrat who knew how to manipulate the system to get what he wanted. Anslinger knew how to go to the press — as the respected, trustworthy Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics — with lies (Mexicans and blacks are selling marihuana to our children) that the press would then print — which Anslinger would then hold up as proof that Mexicans and blacks were selling marihuana to our children.

Neat trick, huh?

It’s important to understand what turned Anslinger. What convinced him that cannabis was more dangerous than opium? It was the exact same thing that bothered Henry Finger — not the what, the WHO. WHO was using marijuana. So long as Mexicans and black jazz musicians kept marijuana to themselves, racists like Anslinger might have been able to tolerate it to a degree.

The trouble was white people started taking up the habit — and that was totally unacceptable to Anslinger. Cannabis was illegalized in America to keep white people from using it and to punish black and brown people for “poisoning Americans” with it.

In the 1950’s, after 20 years of selling marijuana prohibition with racism, Anslinger expanded the franchise. World War Two caused profound physical pain to a staggering number of people. In response, opioids exploded in availability. So did opioid addiction. With fear of “Reefer Madness” waning, Anslinger invented “the gateway theory” to reinvigorate the public’s passion for prohibition.

The “gateway theory” — that cannabis is a gateway drug to heroin — is based on zero research. It’s an abuse of statistics and nothing more. But, when the Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics says it, so the public thinks, it must be so! The gateway theory gained traction and acceptance. And, racist bully that he was, Anslinger used the occasion to increase the punishments for drug-related crimes — knowing full well on whose backs these new, even more cruel punishments would fall most: black people and brown people.

Anslinger retired in 1962 — on his 70th birthday. But the racism Anslinger had instilled remained. In the late 1960’s, with American soldiers returning from Vietnam with cannabis in their duffel bags, Richard Nixon declared a “War On Drugs”. Nixon — a drinker — didn’t declare a war on alcohol (though he abused it). He declared a war on everyone else’s medication — marijuana especially.

The War on Drugs was (and remains) a war on People Of Color. When Anslinger went to legislate marijuana prohibition, he bumped into a problem: there’s no constitutional basis for making marijuana illegal. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 does not, in fact, make marijuana illegal (because it couldn’t). Instead, the act imposes a very steep (in fact onerous) tax every time one bought or sold marijuana or hemp. In order to prove you’d paid the tax, you needed a stamp.

Problem was — the stamp was not available. By design. Everyone who bought or sold marijuana (or hemp) would therefore break the rule 1) by not paying the tax (who were you supposed to pay it to anyway?) and 2) by not getting the stamp. The first two arrests for “tax evasion” — occurred within 24 hours of the act’s signing — two men from Denver (Sam Caldwell and Moses Baca) were caught, one for selling, the other for buying. They both went to prison.

Our drug laws are morally wrong because they’ve got nothing to do with drugs — and never ever have.

Dear Conservatives: Thank You For Making Democratic Socialism Inevitable

A thousand years of great explainer videos couldn’t have done what a couple of months in Coronavirus World did: compellingly and undeniably make the case for democratic socialism over crony capitalism.

Make no mistake: crony capitalism brought us here. Conservatism brought us here. The two are flip sides of the same corrupt coin. We have only just begun to feel the hurt coronavirus and covid-19 are going to put on us. We’re the Whack-A-Mole who’s just stuck his head out. We haven’t gotten hit yet so we must be good, right?

At the end of the day, the “joke” will be on conservatism. There is literally no “conservative” way out of this mess. None.

If we force everyone back to work in some ignorant stab at “herd immunity”, we’ll sacrifice millions of people with no guarantee that, as the virus mutates (viruses are very good at mutating and quickly), that herd immunity will carry on. We don’t even know for sure whether people who survive covid-19 and develop covid-19 antibodies become genuinely immune. We think they might. But we don’t have a whole lot of data yet.

But then, conservatism doesn’t put much stock in data. Too much data equals too much information and too much information undermines the credibility of all their bullshit — which was never based on data. Conservatism wants to live in the past. Not a real past, but an idealized past where everything was good for them and less good for everyone else. The playing field conservatism dreams of is tilted horribly in their favor.

That is why conservatives always look askance at too many facts & figures. Climate science is good example. It’s expensive to deal with. It’ll be more expensive if we don’t, says science. Day traders that they are, conservatives will point at the bottom line as if it were a person. We can’t hurt money’s feelings, they say. What they mean is THEIR money. We can’t impact THEIR money — even if THEIR money is killing everyone else.

Conservatives don’t care if millions of Americans get sick and die with no real access to health care. Their in it for the for-profit insurance companies and the for-profit hospitals and the for-profit pharmaceutical companies. While we’re here — no one (repeat NO ONE) loves their “health insurance”. Health INSURANCE is not health CARE. Insurance companies have inserted themselves into our relationships with our health care providers as GATE KEEPERS. We don’t need any stinking gate keepers.

The gate keeper here has segmented the world of health care providers into people we’re allowed to see (cos they have a contract with them that pays an agreed upon price) vs providers we’re NOT allowed to see (unless we want to pay retail-retail entirely out-of-pocket). Other countries don’t have this problem. They don’t have doctors they can see and doctors they can’t — because the gate keeper says so.

Other countries don’t pay premiums (the cost of their health care is built into their taxes — they will absolutely pay more in taxes but the peace of mind alone in knowing you can never go bankrupt and lose everything just because you get sick more than makes up for the difference. In fact, socialized medicine is less expensive overall — by a lot — with far, far better outcomes.

In America, we pay more to get far less and think we’re effin’ brilliant. No, we are not.

But, again, that’s how conservatives “think”. They can’t back up “ours is the best health care system in the world” with data, so they go with “cos I said” instead. They think it therefore it must be.

There’s no conservative way out of here. Good thing there are Progressive ways out. If we had Progressive leadership at the start of this fiasco, the response would have been entirely different (Bill De Blasio’s lead-from-behind “leadership” notwithstanding). We would have followed the science wherever it took and whatever it advised us to do.

That would have put us in lockdown sooner — with all the same economic issues. But, Progressive leadership would have made staying at home a no-brainer by giving everyone a UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME for the duration of their inability to make a living. We would have already been well on the road to socialized medicine — a single payer, medicare for all environment where everyone gets solid health care regardless of who they are, what they earn or who they love. That would have prevented the hesitation anyone had to USE the health CARE part of the system (the non-insurance part).

Progressives recognize that we are only as healthy as the least healthy person among us. I know — pretty Jesus-y. Do unto others and everything.

Progressives also would have federalized our response to the virus — using the federal government the way its supposed to be used — organize our various strengths into a unified strength, not like a mob boss keeping his underlings guessing.

Though we didn’t start out solving this progressively, we will, in the end. Or we won’t survive at all.

There Simply Is No Conservative Way Out Of This Mess; Conservatism Put Us Here

How do pandemics happen? After the pathogen gets revved up — and finds its entree into human hosts — the next important event is denial.

China denied it had a problem. That made their problem exponentially larger — and then made their problem EVERYONE’S problem. Coronavirus became OUR problem because we’re humans sharing the planet with authoritarian liars. It became a bigger problem than it needed to be because Donald Trump knows he must remain president at all costs; the instant he stops being potus, a shitload of legal problems will begin. Trump is such a day trader that he thinks not testing anyone will solve his problem — because if there aren’t test results saying Americans have or are dying from the coronavirus (and Covid 19 the disease it causes). it means the coronavirus problem isn’t happening.

Just like if the stock market is up, it means “Trump good” and if the stock market is down, it means “Democrats bad”.

Conservatives are especially good at denial. Remember — conservatives want to “conserve”, just like their name says. What do they want to conserve? It can’t be the future — you can’t conserve what doesn’t exist, right? But you can conserve the present — which is what conservatives think of as a “compromise”. In their minds, too much of the past has already been lost. If we just keep things as they are forever — conserving them — they’ll be happy.

Never mind that “how things are now” is still grossly unfair to a whole lot of people — many of them black, brown, LGBTQ, immigrant or undocumented. The playing field is not now nor has it ever been level.

Conservative values are inherently racist values. The America conservatives want to conserve caters to white, male Christians. It cedes all primacy to them because they’re white, Christian and male. White, Christian male conservatives — the rich ones — declared war on the rest of us. The Kochs, the Mercers et cetera saw the demographic handwriting on the wall: they weren’t just going to be a minority, they were going to be a powerless minority unless they did something. Having money — and power in their hands — they did something.

They gerrymandered. They suppressed votes. They hitched their wagon to Russia and Donald Trump. Anything and everything to make conservatism — via minority rule — a permanent fixture in American politics. Conservatism has no intention of compromising. Newt Gingrich even said that part out loud, remember? What Democrat would ever say “I alone can fix it” and expect a huge chunk of those listening to nod along in agreement?

Conservatism is greed. And greed never makes anyone smarter.

If a million Americans succumbed to Covid19, that would not make Republicans unhappy. They’re hoping that the overwhelming majority of the dead are Democrats — completing the coup d’etat they launched in 2016 with their Russian pals. What a shame for them that Trump-loving Republicans will fill most of those body bags because they believe Trump and refuse to quarantine or social-distance themselves from others.

The conservative response to Trump’s relationship with Russia was to shrug. Of course — it’s THEIR relationship with Russia. They can’t “solve that”, can they? They’re owned — and want to be.

The conservative response to the coronavirus pandemic is to insist the economy is way ore important than anyone’s health. As always, conservatives frame everything from the point of view of a false choice. The world has to be this way or that way. Wrong question.

Ours is a consumerism-based economy. It works when people buy things. Demand rules. If there’s no demand? There’s no economy. And consumers afraid that a restaurant meal may be fatal will not dine in restaurants. They won’t go to gyms or barber shops or yoga classes or night clubs or bars or stadiums. They won’t have CONFIDENCE in their own personal safety. They won’t “buy” anything

And if people don’t buy then no one can sell. There will not be any sort of “economy”. The conservative “way out” is not a way out at all. It’s a way in deeper. As we’re already experiencing. See? We ARE the receipts to the conservative argument. Remember how trickle down economics resulted in zero trickling down? Same thing. We’re the lab rats.

What scares the shit out of conservatives — aside from the fact that they got us here — is the fact that even THEY know the only way out is via Progressive policies and approaches. The fact is, the federal government COULD cash flow Americans for a period of time — Universal Basic Incoming EVERYONE. That money won’t sit in anyone’s pocket (except maybe the already wealthy). Instead it will flood the economy with cash as people buy the goods and services they need (and want).

Does this come at a cost? Of course it does. We will pay higher taxes — but what’s the alternative? Total ruin? The people who WILL bear the brunt of the tax burden are those who can already afford it — the 1% who now hold 80% of the wealth. They did not “earn” that money. They took it. Not the same thing.

Let’s remember one other thing: those tax dollars We The People will use to cash flow us out of this mess that conservative thinking did to us? It’s OURS. We paid it in via our tax dollars (that includes every tax we pay in addition to just federal income tax). That money isn’t conservatives’ to parcel out. It’s OURS. And if we say WE need it now to help us — we’ll take and we’ll use it.

Conservatives now stand for racism, sexism, bigotry, corruption, treason, propaganda and death. How in hell’s name does one compromise with any of that? One can’t, of course.

That means there’s really no room at the table for moderation either. After all — what are we moderating between? Progressivism and corruption?

We will get through this. We’re the majority — by a lot. And Americans have no history of giving in to fascism — especially the more diverse parts of us — the majority that conservatives are so afraid of. We will not stand for this. We just won’t. And the increasing number of women running for office? They won’t stand for it either.

We will emerge from this a very different nation with different values. Not “different” actually — more honest. More human. More humane. More socialized.

We can’t continue on with a health system based on insurance rather than care. If only one person catches the virus again and they can’t afford to be treated? They won’t get treated. Instead, they’ll start the whole infection cycle all over again. We can only ever be as “healthy” as a nation as the least healthy among us. That’s so “Jesus-y”, isn’t it? All “Do unto others”.

When Republicans are swept from political office all across the country — they absolutely will be (and EVERY American’s vote is required to make that happen) — Progressive values and legislation will take hold and take off.

And it will all be because conservatives got to have their way.

The irony is already delicious.