It’s A Good Time To Ask Conservatives: What Exactly Is It They Want To “Conserve”?

The Republican Party Needs To Be Razed and the Earth Salted Behind It –  Mother Jones

Ask me where I stand politically and I’ll tell you: I’m a Progressive. “Progress” perfectly describes what I want for my family, my community, my city, my state, my country and my whole world. I want them all to progress into the future the best way possible so that as many people as possible benefit, thrive and succeed. Yeah, I truly do believe that a rising tide will indeed float every single boat. That’s what I want. That’s what your average Progressive wants. Now, ask a conservative what they want and the world they’ll describe doesn’t look like the future. It looks exactly like the past. Or, more precisely, they’ll describe a world caught in amber where as much of the past as possible is frozen in place in the present. That is exactly what conservatives want to conserve: the past or whatever is left of it. If it was possible to literally halt progress and, instead, regress us collectively into the past, many (if not most) conservatives would absolutely do it.

What does a white supremacist want to conserve? What does a yahoo waving a Confederate flag want to conserve? What does Mitch McConnell want to conserve? What does Charles Koch or the Mercers want to conserve? What does Vladimir Putin want to conserve?

“Originalism” perfectly captures the entire conservative “ethic” in one, neat, bite-sized corruption McNugget. The concept is simple. America can only ever be what the white, Christian, land-and-slave-owning men who drew up its founding documents thought it could be at that time. Originalists (like Antonin Scalia) insist that we must accept that flawed version of “All men are created equal” where “All men” only referred to white men like them and only men. Fortunately the more progressive-minded founders reframed America’s founding principle in the Great Seal: “E Pluribus Unum”. Out of many, one. See how one way of thinking tugs us backward while the other propels us forward?

Why did our founders cut a deal with slavery? Because money. Take slavery’s stolen labor off the table and the Confederacy never rises. Maybe America never happens period. After all, slavery, to a degree, helped cash flow our Revolution. We’re still dealing with this Devil’s bargain. We compromised with evil except evil never actually compromises with us; all that happens is we become a little more evil. Or a lot more evil. The impulse to enslave is the same impulse to get anyone to work for nothing (or next-to-nothing). Good bosses recognize that good workers are worth more than bad workers because of what motivates them. Slaves don’t want to be there no matter how hard you whip them. But then, the whole point of a slave and slavery is pure, brute economics.

Want to know why conservatives hate the BBB? Because its core concept wants to empower virtually everyone. The whole point is to go as far as possible to actually level the American playing field so that, for once, everyone has the exact same shot at attaining the American Dream. That won’t just be good for them as individuals, it will be good for everyone. If it means rich people won’t be quite as rich, I can live with that. So can they.

The reason conservatives bristle at the thought of Critical Race Theory is because of that first word: “critical”. Conservatives and conservatism cannot stand up to criticism or critical thinking. They want to make slavery a museum display and nothing more as if the moment the Civil War stopped, all of slavery’s harm magically stopped. How ironic that such devoted Christians (conservatives cling to their Christianity almost as tightly as they cling to their guns) find contrition so objectionable. But then, conservatives don’t believe in a Jesus who preaches “Do unto others”, they believe in a church that commands “Do as I say — or else!”

Slavers, don’t forget, pointed to the Bible as a justification for slavery. But then, the Bible is just originalism’s founding document.

As the conservative feel good vibes of Reaganism waned, the conservative money saw catastrophe on the horizon. America was diversifying at such a rapid pace that “thinkers” like Newt Gingrich grasped how perilous white conservatism’s grip on long term power already was. When Gingrich declared his culture war on the Democrats, he was declaring that war on actual Americans — all those diverse, not-white-like-Newty Americans who would soon enough usurp political power forever. That scared Newt and every conservative like him. The thought of losing power (of even having to share it!) was unacceptable. It made them feel bad and those “bad feelings” are behind literally every move conservatives had made since.

Gerrymandering isn’t meant to represent the majority’s will, it’s meant to circumvent it — to give the minority undue power and influence over the majority. And, if it’s done right? Gerrymandering will make that minority rule permanent. Just in case, conservatives also rely heavily on voter and voting suppression. Donald Trump himself said it out loud: when more people vote, Republicans lose. The presence of Donald Trump caused the GOP to step up its game however. Or, more accurately, Trump’s presence kompromised the entire GOP into submission. Though the Republicans may have resisted Trump at first (the Marco Rubio-backing Washington Free Beacon paid for the original oppo research on Trump that led to the Steele Dossier), Trump’s corruption became their corruption. A month before nominating Trump to be their candidate in 2016, the Republican leadership acknowledged amongst themselves that Trump was owned outright by Vladimir Putin.

There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” is now current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy as he walked into a room of GOP leaders. No one stood up and said “Whaaaat? Kevin — are you sure about this?” There was nervous laughter instead (the entire scene was recorded and the recording was played for Washington Post reporter Adam Entous). Then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan quickly corralled the room’s nervous anxiety. No one was going to talk about this fact that they all knew or suspected outside that room. They would all keep this national security threat a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family”, is the bow Ryan put on it.

Once you cross the line into treason? There’s no going back. What happened in that room was absolute treason and everything awful that’s happened to and in America since has flowed from that moment of treachery.

Maybe I need to tweak what it is that American conservatives want to conserve. The past they want to conserve is one where they aren’t serving a life term in a federal prison for committing treason. In that context, it ain’t hard to get what any conservative might want to “conserve”.

Michael Flynn Is The Poster Boy For Why Monotheism Is Dangerous

Michael Flynn speaks during a protest of the outcome of the 2020 presidential election outside the Supreme Court on December 12, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Ever notice how it’s never Jews or Muslims or Buddhists or Native Americans or anyone other than Christians who think their religion should be the only religion practiced in America? What is it exactly about Christianity — okay, American Christianity — that makes it so easily taken in by megalomaniacs like Jim Jones and David Koresh and a thousand other mostly men who insist they are “God’s messenger” (and you better effiin’ listen to what they say!)? What makes a guy like Michael Flynn say out loud that America should have only one religion: his? What in his religious instruction when he was growing up made him equate “Do unto others” with “Do what I say or else?” How does a loving god become an authoritarian monster? Spoiler alert: it’s how monotheism works. Loving people having loving “God’s” inside their heads. Racist authoritarians have racist, authoritarian gods inside theirs.

Guess who’s better at imposing their god on other people — because that’s what their version of God is telling them too do? Hint — loving Gods don’t ever have to “impose” anything on anyone; they wait for people to come to them. So, it will always be the monotheist with the darker version of God who does the better job of marketing and spreading his version because that’s what his version is telling him to do (while the loving God’s followers preach patience — admirable but time consuming). The whole idea of forced conversion is ludicrous of course. If you have to force belief on someone? That’s probably because what YOU believe isn’t all that believable.

Polytheism itself didn’t produce empires the way monotheism produced the Holy Roman Empire. That’s not a coincidence. Polytheism by its nature diffuses divine power. There may be a “head deity” like a Zeus or Odin but they control the other gods mostly. Humans are incidental to their existence, not its focus. Monotheism flipped that on its head. Now, for reference sake, we should note that the Romans regarded Christians — who didn’t believe in the Roman gods — as atheists. For real! “Atheism”, ya see, is kinda relative. Judaism may have put monotheism on the map, but it was Christianity that took monotheism wide. Following Gods laws was the point of the exercise, not spreading them to people who didn’t believe already. That’s one of the reasons Jews don’t proselytize. In our heads, you have to come to God (or be born into the tribe); there’s no “good news” to spread.

And that “good news” — that’s the whole thrust of Christianity. It’s Paul’s true genius (and Paul invented Christianity, “Jesus” did not). Paul wove a thousand years of conflicting Jewish messiah mythology into a brand new religion that took monotheism itself to a brand new place. While polytheistic gods offered individual humans nothing in return for believing in them, the Hebrews’ Yahweh (itself a distillation of the Canaanite god El) took a personal interest in humans because, for starters, he created them and they epitomized him. Humans were a not-quite-exact-but-close-enough image of God himself. Somehow though, this perfect God creates a creature that can’t even remember who created it. Next thing ya know, these stupid creatures think there are thousands of gods!

In Genesis, Yahweh tells Abraham “Believe in me and me alone and I will make of you a great nation!” Think about that. A deity capable of creating literally everything has to negotiate with something he’s created just to get them to believe in him! But that’s part of what made monotheism so attractive — there’s only one deity and he’s emotionally fragile. And fluid. You can make of this deity what you like. The Apostle Paul clearly understood that. Remember: Paul traveled outside the teeny-tiny world of Judea and Samaria. Jesus (Joshua ben Joseph is how he thought of himself) — a guy Paul never met in the flesh — did not. Jesus was born, lived his entire life and died a Jew. He thought Jewish thoughts and taught Jewish lessons to other Jews who understood all his Jewish references and concepts.

When Saul of Tarsus becomes Paul, it’s because of a vision he has — INSIDE HIS OWN HEAD. He goes to Jerusalem and tries to sell that vision but gets rejected: by the people who knew Joshua ben Joseph personally and who had actually heard him. They reject Paul out of hand because, well, he wasn’t describing the real Joshua ben Joseph, Paul was describing an imaginary character that he himself had created: Jesus, the Christ. And Paul’s version of Jesus did something the real Joshua ben Joseph most certainly did not: he defeated death.

That’s it. That’s Paul’s whole sales pitch in a nutshell — and it’s genius. In a world where gods did nothing for human beings, Paul offered a deity who cared so much about individual humans that he 1) had a son who 2) died for their “sins” and 3) if they believed in him exactly the way they were told to, then 4) just like Jesus, they, too, could live forever! in a magical after life called “heaven”. Of course, if they didn’t accept “the good news”, they would absolutely go to another place Paul and the early church fathers invented: “hell”.

Jesus preached that one didn’t need the corrupt temple or its corrupt priests in order to have a relationship with God. Paul couldn’t preach that because it would cut him out of the relationship. So Paul inserted the very same corrupt temple and priests that Jesus had railed against. In place of a simple one-on-one relationship, Paul inserted complexity over-brimming with dogma. He also created a hierarchy where a direct relationship between human and God was impossible! It required training — or maybe just being “special” — to understand God.

Even the Catholic Church couldn’t always agree with itself what God wanted. During the 14th century, there were two Popes for a while (actually, for a short while there were actually three Popes!) Martin Luther didn’t agree with anything about the Catholic church. I wonder — has anyone ever tried to figure out exactly how many humans died because they disagreed about whether God was a Protestant or a Catholic? Or a Muslim?

Quick reminder: Jews don’t kill other people because they don’t believe in the exact same version of God. Israel’s Palestinian problems are all entirely political, not religious. Their solutions will be entirely political — not religious.

Guys like Michael Flynn are nothing new to non-Christians. Every evangelical is just as threatening because of utter nonsense they accept as “gospel truth”. Remember — in an evangelical’s head, all the Jews have to die in order for the evangelicals to get their final reward. Thanks anyway, fellahs! But, here’s the thing — if we were to sit down with Mike Flynn and go deep into his religious beliefs, we’d get to that place where Flynn has fused his ideas of God with the fact that he “hears God’s voice in his head”, telling him “do this” or “do that”.

When Flynn then “does this” or “does that”? Who does Flynn think he’s doing it for? Himself? He may insist that, no, he’s doing it for God but unless we can see or hear the other side of that conversation for ourselves? Sorry, Mike — that’s just you talking to yourself, telling yourself what you think “God” says. Take this to the bank and anticipate getting richer than rich: people like Michael Flynn have completely swapped their own sense of self for whatever they think “God” is. When they speak for God, they speak AS God.

And that’s because, really, they ARE God.

To be fair, this doesn’t happen inside every monotheist’s head. It doesn’t have to for it to be dangerous. But a monotheist who insists he speaks for God will always be able to sway plenty of other monotheists to go along because that dynamic version of God sounds more appealing than they’re undynamic version. And, so, off they go — a mutually agreed upon version of God in their heads — to attack people whose version of God isn’t the mutually agreed upon version.

Michael Flynn believes that his version of God (and that God’s “religion”) should be the only version of God and religion here in America. Hey, so does Steve Bannon. So does every single Republican member of Congress who calls him or herself “Christian”. They must feel that way about God because that’s how they act. To reiterate: a loving god doesn’t need to be shoved down peoples’ throats.

An angry god, on the other hand, relishes that form of delivery. Take Michael Flynn’s word for it.

A Blanket Pardon For Non-Violent Cannabis Offenders Would Be An Easy, Huge, Do-Able Win For Joe Biden

Here’s a fact: Joe Biden could probably guarantee the Republicans DON’T take back the House or Senate in next year’s mid-terms in one executive order. The executive branch — Joe Biden — could, all by himself, remove cannabis from The Controlled Substances Act. He can “move to federally legalize cannabis without waiting for lawmakers to act.” Not only can President Biden do this, he’s already set this ship in motion by hiring and appointing people who all want this very thing to happen. In addition, Biden could issue an executive amnesty for every single non-violent cannabis offender in the entire country. This would free all those prisoners now doing time and expunge their and every other record of every single person EVER arrested for growing, buying, selling or just enjoying the myriad benefits of cannabis — a natural product that should NEVER have been prohibited in the first place.

As a move, it would transcend politics because two thirds of Americans — both Democrats and Republicans — want this to happen (but, of course, it could NEVER happen with a Republican in office since they still have to kneel before the evangelicals). Know who else would actually be super happy if Joe Biden did everything he could to de-criminalize cannabis ASAP? The banks. They’ll literally hurt themselves in the rush to cash in on cannabis the nano-second it exits Schedule One and they can begin to invest in it legally. The states also hear the “Ka-CHING!” of money landing in their coffers. “Just in 2020, taxes from adult recreational cannabis sales totaled $2.7 billion” and that’s just part of the EIGHT BILLION TAX COLLARS collected by the 18 states that have legalized cannabis in one way or another.

Know who doesn’t like the “legal cannabis” story? No one. Hey, by righting the cannabis story, Joe Biden also can make America come to terms a little more with its racist past — without it going nuts. Hopefully, America will have a good stone on. We’ll feel the calm. Our minds will open a little.

Best part? For two seconds, it might even get the news media to focus on the bigger picture.

Even as Joe Biden rescues America daily from the cataclysmic precipice Donald Trump drove us to, in the eyes of the news media (still perspective-free), Joe Biden is failing because “bad messaging”. They still pooh-pooh Team Biden’s failure to focus on what’s IN the BBB versus what it costs when it was ALWAYS the news media who blasted the number over anything else because that was an easier (though less accurate) story to tell — disagreement over a bunch of imaginary numbers. The Progressives have always advocated for a specific end result: the level-est playing field possible in America so that every American has a genuinely equal shot at achieving the American Dream. And, every time a Progressive policy actually makes it into practice (the Child Tax Credit or the UBI-like unemployment payments received by millions of Americans), it provides a data set of success. The Child Tax Credit literally cut poverty in half. The UBI kept our economy afloat when, otherwise, it would have slipped deeper into recession because of the pandemic.

Legalizing cannabis has always been a liberal — not a conservative — policy. Let’s be crystal clear: the ONLY reason cannabis was ever “illegalized” in this country was because of racism.

A little while back, I got hired by Weedmaps News (back when there was a Weedmaps News) to write a 13 part, 25,000 word series called “BLUNT TRUTHS” on the history of cannabis prohibition in America. I had pitched them this idea because I’ve always wanted to tell the true story of Harry Anslinger, America’s first “drug czar”, the inventor (for all intents and purposes) of “reefer madness” and the man who, almost single-handedly, created the mess we have today — not just in America but all over the world. Anslinger was a complex character, one we’ve too easily dismissed as an over-reaching cop. He was, but that’s not what made him tick. Anslinger was an out-and-out racist who favored European culture and hated Black culture. He also was a remarkably skilled bureaucrat. That’s the problem.

I recommend the whole series (I would, but then I’m biased) but here’s the thumbnail: At the time of his appointment as first Commissioner of America’s new Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930, no drugs were in fact “illegal”. Aside from controlling the importation of opium, the FBN had little to do, little manpower and even less money. Anslinger was an excellent choice having spent a decade at that point mostly in Europe arranging agreements about opium between America and various other nations. “Marihuana” (as Anslinger called it) was of zero concern; at that point, to Anslinger’s knowledge, only Mexican laborers in America’s southwest even knew what it was. Mexicans fleeing the Mexican Revolution (1910) brought marijuana with them as they re-settled in America. In time, marijuana made it across the country to New Orleans where a group of Black musicians were creating a newfangled thing called “jazz”.

This is a key moment both in how cannabis use became popularized but also WHY Harry Anslinger put a target on marijuana and made prohibiting it his personal crusade. Cannabis use spread alongside jazz’s rising popularity. In part, that was because every now and then New Orleans would kick out all the musicians. They’d head north to Memphis, Nashville, Chicago — from Anslinger’s point of view, “spreading” jazz and marijuana to white people. That crossed a line.

In addition to being a very good bureaucrat, Anslinger fancied himself a very good pianist. He loved European classical music. Jazz affronted him like a two by four upside the head. He hated the musicians who created jazz (people like Louis Armstrong and King Oliver), hated the marijuana that seemed to inspire it, and hated that white Americans were taking both the music and the marijuana into their systems. Anslinger was damned clever. He’d take a racist trope — “Black marijuana use was leading to crazed sexual behavior directed at white women” — to a newspaper. They’d print it because Anslinger was the freakin’ Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics — would HE lie? Then Anslinger would hold up the newspaper headline and say “See? Didn’t I tell you that Black men were raping white women because of marijuana?”

Anslinger collected what became known as his “Gore Files”. To flip through them is to fully grasp where “reefer madness” came from. It’s absurd.

Ironically, Anslinger wasn’t allowed to actually make cannabis illegal — not, at first. For starters, there’s no Constitutional basis to make any drug illegal. Hemp, cannabis’ cousin, was a vital agricultural product when the founders were founding America. Back in the 1930’s, as Anslinger tried to get lawmakers interested, the AMA came to cannabis’ rescue. All the data, so said the AMA, argued for marijuana’s remaining legal. What the hell does the AMA know, demanded Anslinger. In the end, Anslinger was forced to do an end run around the Constitution to have his way. As with Al Capone, the government made it about taxes and not paying them.

The clever cruelty buried in the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 is the stamp itself. The Act decreed that a tax had to be paid every time marijuana either was bought or sold (ditto hemp). In order to prove the tax had been paid, both parties had to obtain a stamp. Except the stamp never existed — and never was going to. By design, everyone who bought or sold cannabis from that point forward was going to be a criminal — a TAX criminal.

Fun fact: The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 scored its first success within days! For real! Samuel Caldwell became cannabis’ first sacrificial lamb on October 3, two days after the law was enacted. His crime: selling three joints. Okay — he also had a couple of pounds of marijuana in his room, but it wasn’t illegal to possess, remember?

Team Biden ought to make a blanket pardon, full cannabis decriminalization and legalization as much of a reality as the tools available to him allow. Sure, sure, plenty of those who’ll benefit are and will remain Trump voters. Not to worry. When all those criminal records get expunged — and those good citizens return to the voting rolls — hundreds of thousands of people will be motivated or re-motivated to vote because voting got them or their loved ones out of jail. This will be one more law that Democrats made happen but that Republicans (who didn’t) ache to claim credit for. We can’t let them do that.

For one thing, ya just know, Republicans will Bogart the hell out of that joint and then hand it off all dripping with their germy spit. Geez, ya can’t even get high with these people without it being a hassle…

Put Up V Shut Up

Finally – the Department of Justice has INDICTED STEVE BANNON!

Come Monday morning, it would have been two weeks since Steve Bannon thumbed his gin blossomed nose at the January 6 Committee and refused to honor their subpoena. The Committee referred the case to Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice — a luxury the Democrats didn’t have when Bill Barr ran the joint. Our collective expectation was for a kind of “justice on tap” — a thing we have not gotten (and never would have, I fear). Instead we’re having a kind of “deja vu all over again” moment reminiscent of the high hopes many of us felt when Robert Mueller was named Special Counsel. Though we pre-packaged him as a hero (and deservedly so — the man served valiantly in Vietnam, ran the FBI and stood atop a mountain of indestructible integrity. But the Mueller Report wasn’t the “put up or shut up” moment We The People both needed and craved. Bill Barr saw to that. He told us what he needed us to think the Report said — that it more or less exonerated Trump (it absolutely did not!) — and our “news media” happily went along with Barr. Fortunately, Barr no longer runs the DoJ. Fortunately — or unfortunately — Merrick Garland does now.

The Trump administration was a criminal enterprise from start to finish (actually, it hasn’t “finished” yet). The Republican Party knew a month before they nominated Trump to be POTUS that Putin owned him. They even discussed it amongst themselves but decided to keep that terrible secret a secret. That was a “put up or shut up” moment. The GOP leadership could have caught itself behaving treasonously and stopped. Surely, as they sheepishly looked around at each other on June 25, 2016, one of them must have thought “We better call the FBI!” But, no one did. Instead, per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s admonition, everyone in that room agreed to stay silent. “That’s how we know we’re family,” said Ryan.

Shut up, in this case, equaled treason.

It’s now five plus years later. Having not dealt with this overt act of treason, we continue to live in its lengthening shadow. Our news media — though they themselves reported this remarkable story — still fail to see what a staggering revelation it is! How much more smoke can pour from a gun? The one time the news media stuck a mic in Kevin’s treasonous face to ask what he meant, Kevin gave the pat Republican answer: “I was kidding”. Oh, is that the “Get Out Of Treason Jail Free” card now? Ignore my words (and the context in which I said them) because otherwise, I’m screwed? Every time Trump said something even Republicans couldn’t back, he’d haul out “I was joking!” Fun fact? Not everyone has a sense of humor. The first tell that you don’t have one is you can’t laugh at yourself. Bullies laugh plenty — but never, EVER at themselves. When they laugh, it’s always AT others, at their weaknesses and frailties. When someone without a sense of humor claims absolution because “kidding”? They’re not just humorless, they’re damned liars, too.

We sensed on election day that Trump’s victory wasn’t “right”. In his entire life, Trump has never done anything legally when doing it illegally was open to him. Why, ffs, would he start with the presidency? Is anyone truly shocked that, over his presidency, Trump lied north of 30,000 times? If anything, I’m shocked the number of lies isn’t significantly higher but then I have a lower tolerance for bullshit than our news media does.

We are slowly twisting in the purgatory between Justice and injustice. Injustice plays by no rules. It can do what it wants when it wants to whomever it wants. Justice — in the form of the rule of law — has no such luxury. Not if it’s to be “the rule of law”. Playing by the rules takes time. It demands rigor and and faithfulness to a higher principle over personal desires. Bill Barr did pretty much whatever Trump wanted Barr to do with the DoJ. Joe Biden won’t — can’t — do that. “Can’t” is Biden’s nature because he believes so ardently in our democracy and its organizing principles.

That means, regardless of all our public pressure — even if we think we want Biden to put his thumb on Merrick Garland — really, we don’t. Or do we?

Ah, there’ that painful, dynamic tension again.

This will end one way or the other. There isn’t any middle ground. Now that Garland has forced Bannon’s hand and a Grand Jury has indicted him, the floodgates will open. Bannon will probably think he can tough it out behind bars. He should give Paul Manafort a call to see how Paul enjoyed his 23 months of prison dinners. Sure, Paul got out way ahead of time courtesy of a Trump pardon (which needs to be re-examined as pardons may not be given for illegal activity and treason is definitely “illegal”), but Paul really had no choice in the matter. When you climb into bed with Russian mobsters — and Putin, Deripaska, Kilimnik and every other oligarch is a stone cold mobster — you have to live (or died) by their rules. If Paulie Polling Data had flipped and connected the Trump dot to the Russia dot for the FBI and DoJ? Even the best new identity and relocation wouldn’t save Manafort. Eventually, he knew, they’d find him. And when they did? Ouch.

Bannon never owed Deripaska (or any Russian mobster) $17 million. An uber-Christian in love with the exclusivity of its dogma, he’s never been beholden to Russia; he merely shares an orthodox vision of the “Holy Land” with its mob boss. For all the terrible things Bannon is, he’s not stupid. He knows exactly what he’s doing — and he knows it’s treasonous. That’s why he doesn’t want to be placed under oath. That’s why, even if he is eventually placed under oath, he’ll plead the fifth. That will be Bannon’s undoing.

The folks around Bannon (and beneath him), they don’t have Bannon’s certainty, his white guy’s swagger and braggadocio. But they will have a sense of vertigo when it hits them that they’ve set themselves up for the not just failure but prison. Congressional staff, recognizing that if they say nothing, they’ll be implicated in the bigger crime, won’t so much “spill their guts” as spew them.

So far, the insurrection has only sent the low level foot soldiers to jail. The next tier up are only just starting to realize how expensive it is defending yourself against federal charges. Not wanting to bankrupt their families for a generation, some of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are pleading out already. Flipping. And other voices are popping up — pointing out all the “planning” sessions at the Willard “war room” in the days before the insurrection. Some, no doubt, are explaining where the money came from — to pay for the hotel and the food and the travel to get to DC.

When the flipping starts in earnest, all the good “deals” will dry up quickly. Then the perps will start looking for the best deals they can get and those will start to suck almost immediately. This is an organized crime carried out by organized criminals who have a political end in mind: permanent minority rule. The criminals now include pretty much the entire Republican Party (minus Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger). It ain’t rocket science connecting the Steve Bannon dot to the insurrection dot to the criminal conduct dot. The fun part will be when we connect the Russia dot to the Insurrection dot.

Does anyone really believe that, having succeeded in digging its hooks into Trump, would Russia really let a perfectly good insurrection go to waste?

The insurrection will lead us to a lot of things — treason especially. Not just “generic” treason but treason committed alongside a foreign enemy actively engaged in cyber war against us. Steve Bannon now has a much bigger problem than just prison dinner on his hands.

The American Dream Isn’t So Much “Success” As The Level Playing Field That Makes Success Possible

American Exceptionalism is a very real thing. Let’s be crystal clear first what it isn’t: rich white guys and their money. That’s what rich white guys and their money want us to believe — that without them, America wouldn’t be America. That has always been top-of-the-line, the best-money-can-buy horse shit. Money has always played a part in what happened here in our slice of North America. Commercial interests drove almost every bit of European colonization. We credit the Pilgrims with seeking “religious freedom” for their coming here but that’s not what actually brought them. The Pilgrims’ first move after leaving England was to Holland where they settled in Leiden and found — to their own delight — a remarkable amount of religious freedom. Their problem was, in Holland, they couldn’t make a living. North America promised both “open-mindedness” and a chance to score financially. Even religious kooks could make it in America!

Opportunity. That’s why Europeans first started coming to North America. Reinvention and reward. The reward was essential to Europeans’ continued interest. The Vikings got to what is now Canada as early as 1021. Their settlement at L’Anse Aux Meadows survived for a few decades and then they abandoned it. Their inability to get along with the Native population had lots to do with it. But so did economics. Leif Erickson had daringly crossed the Labrador Sea from the Viking settlement in Greenland which was, itself, a colony; the Vikings’ home was Northern Europe. Sustaining the Greenland colony was hard all by itself. Sustaining a colony of a colony — with zero reward coming back — that likely impacted their reasoning. When the Vikings retreated from what is now Newfoundland, as far as we know, they never went back. It wasn’t “worth it” to them.

After European pathogens like smallpox, measles and flu did their work (wiping out around 90% of the Native population), conquering the survivors of that germ tsunami became relatively easy. Then it became all about money chasing money. The Virginia Colony was an entirely private venture. “The company’s plan was to reward investors by locating gold and silver deposits and by finding a river route to the Pacific Ocean for trade with the Orient.” The settlers were all employees of a kind, beholden to a dream in their heads (unless they were sent here as a punishment) but also to the Company that sent them and supplied them. Almost from the get-go, though political power (in the form of royalty) claimed dominion over North America, money claimed all the real power. The rise of capitalism, its spread across Europe, undermined any “divine authority” claimed by any king. For all their divine rights, kings couldn’t pay for themselves because the feudal system they relied on for legitimacy was hopelessly corrupt, inefficient and hostile toward labor.

Funny irony? The bubonic plague that swept through Europe during the 14th century did more than just wipe out half to three quarters of the population. It destroyed feudalism. A shortage of laborers turned the labor market on its head; for the first time ever, the guy plowing the lord’s fields got to name his price for doing that plowing. He could just as easily go plow someone else’s field if they were paying more. This is precisely what COVID-19 and the coronavirus that causes it have done to our world. It drove a stake through the corrupt heart of our current economics. It changed not only how we work but what we work at. It drove home how beneficial it is to our economy if we UBI people (provide them a Universal Basic Income) until they can truly fly instead of forcing them to take low paying jobs that don’t match their skill sets or financial needs.

UBI works because it levels the playing field. It’s government doing what we need government to do — giving as many people as possible the same opportunity, the same chance to succeed as everyone else. When a rising tide floats all boats, all boats rise. People get happier and healthier (for reference, see Northern Europe — those Vikings may have gone home to Northern Europe but clearly they learned a thing or two from their travels). They live longer and live more fulfilled lives. They work in order to live. They don’t, as we do in America, live to work.

That unhealthy compulsion is a leftover from America’s founding principle: profit incentive. And don’t forget — one of the American Revolution’s big talking points for why revolution was necessary was “taxation without representation”. Want our money? Hear our voice. But, also let’s not forget that our founders made a Devil’s bargain with slavery at the founding. Instead of rejecting it outright, they compromised with it, making “All men are created equal” embarrassingly ironic. The white, Christian, land-owning men who drew up America’s founding documents had a great idea — “All men are created equal” — that they failed to stick on the landing. They didn’t mean “ALL men” though they they did mean “ONLY men”.

America remains to this day a great idea as yet unrealized. Which brings us to what American Exceptionalism actually IS: Our remarkable, never-happened-before-in-human-history diversity. Or, as our Great Seal puts it: “E Pluribus Unum”.

The nations of Europe that colonized North America were all products of at least fifteen hundred years of local tribes coalescing into national identities, each distinct and distinctive. The Germans are how they are just as the French, the Swiss, the Italians and the English are all how they are et cetera et cetera. Minus the Native American tribes, there was no “culture” in North America. There was no “native tribe” whose origin stories and mythology was the larger culture’s. That’s not to say one didn’t evolve. We have Thanksgiving and Independence Day as American rituals that grew out of mythologies about ourselves that we told ourselves. The same goes for “The American Dream”.

Whereas hierarchy and caste made it nearly impossible for a poor person to become anything other than a poor person, America’s lack of castes made it a place where truly anything could happen and a person could reinvent themselves completely. Opportunity. Reinvention. Promise. All those things flash in neon when the rest of the world contemplates America. If you’re willing to put in the sweat equity, America offers anyone and everyone a shot at greatness — that’s the lure. When it works, it works brilliantly. When it doesn’t — the onus is on us.

Immigration has always been the engine that renewed America’s exceptionalism. Not only do immigrants do the hard physical labor American workers don’t seem to want to do, they bring innovation with them too. Their aspirations counter the last group’s success and temptations to settle. New ideas force old ideas to compete. New ways of doing things make old ways obsolete — ditto the people doing those obsolete things. That’s why the people doing obsolete things get nuts when new ideas drop onto the table.

White people, having tilted the playing field at the start, are now loathe to allow the playing field to be corrected. It’s understandable — power sharing is less predictable than having permanent power in your hands alone. Lose power and you lose money. That also motivates white people to tilt the playing field as much as possible whenever possible.

Imagine if we could actually level the American playing field? Imagine if we could give as many Americans as possible the greatest possible chance to achieve the greatness within them? Think that’d be bad for America? I get depressed thinking of all the greatness America left on the table when it turned its back on Reconstruction and gave racism a boost instead. Think of all the Black minds that, had we but educated them, would have “returned on our investment” in ways we can’t even imagine — because we didn’t nurture the minds that would have scored those returns.

But, At The Very, VERY End Of The Day? This Is STILL A Story About TREASON

We are living in the nightmare version of “the cover up being worse than the crime”. In fact, we’re so deep into the cover up that most Americans have probably forgotten that there even is an “original crime” — the thing that actually motivated every other crime Donald Trump and his Republican collaborators perpetrated. “The Big Lie” didn’t just fall from the sky on us, a “stroke of genius” to try and hold onto power. Why the hell would Trump “need” to hold onto power? That’s what this is about — a need, not a desire. Virtually the entire GOP has gone along with this also out of need. Yeah, yeah, the Republican base counts for something. But they’re “icing” on a giant cake; icing is icing but cake is cake And the cake here is treason. That’s why there’s “A Big Lie” — because “treason”. That’s why the Republicans have done everything in their power to shut down every single investigation into how exactly Donald Trump became president in 2016. Take Russia completely out of the Donald Trump equation and he never becomes POTUS, Hillary Clinton is into her second term today having survived four years of Mitch McConnell being corrupt as usual but, at least, without his having been a traitor, too.

The Republican Party leadership knew even before the GOP nominated Trump that Vladimir Putin owned him. Upon entering a meeting of GOP leaders on June 25, 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said out loud (it was recorded and the recording played later for Washington Post reporter Adam Entous), “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Mark that moment well and think about what happened in it. No one in the room expressed shock or surprise; instead, there was “nervous laughter”. That’s what motivated McCarthy’s “Swear to God!” He was serious and he wanted the room to take what he’d just asserted very seriously.

That is exactly what every Republican in that room did — they took what Kevin McCarthy said seriously. They knew it was a terrible secret for any American — let alone a presidential candidate — to have about them. That’s why they all went along with then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s insistence that they not discuss the matter outside that room. Because it was true. And because, one has to think, it was too late for anyone in the room to turn back now. “Putin pays Trump” — that was the secret they all agreed to “keep in the family”.

A year later (it took a year for that story to break), when journalists questioned McCarthy about it, he insisted he was “just kidding”. Soooooo, the whole room agreed to keep this “joke” a secret? If it wasn’t true, the room would have welcomed investigation because it would have turned up nothing. They knew that any investigation into Trump’s relationship with Putin and Russia would lead not only to charges of treason for Trump but charges of Treason for them, too. Every last one of them…

The GOP’s problem starts in that room with Kevin McCarthy speaking a Truth. Consider how hard the Republican run Congress tried to hide Trump’s relationship with Russia. But consider who Trump hired as campaign manager — Paul Manafort. Manafort owed $17 million to oligarch, Putin pal and “former” Russian military intelligence player Oleg Deripaska. Part of Manafort’s pitch was backstage, off the books access to Trump and access to information a hostile foreign government like Russia should NEVER have had access to: proprietary polling data on Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Manafort famously handed this data to Constantin Kilimnik, a go-between. He went to prison for it, remember? It’s against the law. In fact, every single contact the Trumps and their various hangers-on had with Russians was illegal. When Trump openly invited Russia to meddle in our election — “Russia, are ya listening?” — he was breaking the law. Just because we chose not to see it that way (or prosecute it), that’s not on the rule of law, that’s on us. That’s on white America continuing to cut itself extraordinary slack even when that slack is openly treasonous.

Consider Trump’s urgent need to undermine the Steele Dossier. Our news media — always light years behind this story’s curve — can only focus on the possibility of Trump and hookers — like that would matter to him. There’s so much more in the dossier (a collection of raw intel that has stood up almost completely) than a bit of sex play. There’s treason! Lots and lots and lots of treason!

Consider WHY there even is a “Steele Dossier” to begin with! Here’s the thumbnail version: in 2016, Marco Rubio backer The Washington Free Beacon hired a political research company called Fusion GPS (co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson) to do oppo research against Trump. Before getting into the nitty gritty though, Fusion did their “due diligence”; they got their hands on every piece of publicly available material about Donald Trump that they could — books, magazine and newspaper articles, radio and TV appearances — everything! What they found there in that publicly available material convinced them that Trump had used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. To answer those questions (by now, supporters of HRC were paying for the research), Fusion sub-contracted the work out to a British company called Orbis. Orbis was run by Christopher Steele, formerly head of MI6’s vaunted Russia desk and a source so reliable that the FBI used Steele to help them take down FIFA’s corrupt head Sepp Blatter. Steele had excellent sources inside Russia and those sources painted a picture of exactly what Kevin McCarthy had said was the case: Putin owned Trump.

Consider the effects of Kompromat. Consider Lindsey Graham’s strange flip from “electing Trump would be crazy and we’d deserve the fallout” to “Trump is a god”. Lindsey’s old friend John McCain seemed to know Lindsey himself was between a rock and a hard place. At the end of December, 2016 — with Trump’s presidency looming — Lindsey and John (and Amy Klobuchar) ran to Eastern Europe to try and reassure NATO that Trump wouldn’t be… what? Remember — the Republican Party KNEW before they nominated Trump that Russia owned him. What was this kabuki all about? A better question: if John McCain were to return from the dead, would his old pal Lindsey be able to look him in the eye?

Consider the Mueller Report and its shamefully narrow scope (the only thing under its purview was Trump’s relationship with Wikileaks, that’s it). Even so, Team Trump worked overtime to keep everything about their relationship with Wikileaks and secret. Strange, no? We’ve learned subsequently that corruption guided Rod Rosenstein to tell Team Mueller that the FBI was running a counter intelligence investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia (they weren’t) so “forget about it” while also telling the FBI that Team Mueller was working on the counter intel investigation so they should forget about it. Consider The Mueller Report’s actual conclusions: 1) we can’t say for sure if Team Trump committed a crime we could convict at trial because 2) they’ve been so utterly obstructive of justice about the whole thing.

Consider Bill Barr telling America the Mueller Report concluded something entirely different, something it, in fact, did not conclude. Consider what happened to Jeffrey Epstein while under Bill Barr’s care. Consider that even Bill Barr refused to go along with insurrection. Strange, isn’t it, that even a guy as corrupt as Bill Barr sees a line in the sand beyond which even he sees too much corruption.

Consider how much time, work and effort Russia put into not only making Trump POTUS but to using Trump as their weapon to bludgeon American democracy and America’s reputation around the world. Consider what makes one man look like another man’s bitch. Consider how Trump never crossed Putin ever. Consider how important it was for Putin either to keep Trump in the White House or get him back into it however he must. Consider it damned likely that Russia had a hand in the insurrection. Consider what that means if Russia (among other players) helped finance the Republican Party’s attempted coup d’etat.

Consider how America will have to react when we finally step back and allow ourselves to speak out loud the terrible truth: exactly as Kevin McCarthy said: Putin owns Trump.

What are we to do, once we actually begin to accept this terrible truth as Truth? For one thing, we absolutely can’t shrug our shoulders and say “it is how it is”. That would be us saying “Well, we know Russia beat our asses that one time…”. No — there can be no one time for any such thing to happen. Any country that fails or refuses to stand up for its sovereignty won’t be a country for much longer. We have now experienced a hostile foreign government putting a man they’ve compromised at the head of American power. That is treason.

Treason can’t be the basis for US law or law making. It can’t be the basis for our defense policy or our international relations. It can’t be the basis for our politics. Because it’s TREASON.

The Only “Good Way” For A Democrat To Counter “Critical Race Theory” Is For The News Media To Have Resisted The Rabbit Hole To Begin With

Fascists, authoritarians, seditionists and Republicans all adore rabbit holes, the deeper, the darker, the flat-out crazier the better…

What makes the whole “Critical Race Theory” conversation so perfect for them is that their rage isn’t based on anything. Well, not anything real. It’s a balsa wood chimera and that’s super ironic because there really is a monster at work here: the very white people pitching “Critical Race Theory” as a boogey man. “Education” may have been how the button was labeled — the button they kept pushing in Virginia — but the dot it connected to was pure, unadulterated racism. Every time Glenn Youngkin blathered about wanting Virginia’s parents to be involved in their children’s education, what the suburban moms heard was “Stick together, white people!” Not a one of those parents — even the ones who’d previously voted for Obama — thought they were being racist, but that’s how systemic racism works. The system does all the racist heavy lifting for you. All the white person has to do is show up and look “shocked!” that such things still happen in America.

“Critical Race Theory” is an academic theory that, being an academic theory, can stand up for itself all by itself — in the context in which it was created: academia. The academic idea undergirding CRT is sound. It asks in cold, hard terms what racism cost Black people in America — racism being antithetical to America’s stated purpose. How did white America profit and benefit at Black America’s expense? And how might that very real wrong be righted? How shall America make not only its Black citizens whole but — in so doing — make itself whole as well. How shall America seize this moment to finally fix what the country’s founders got wrong? While they wrote “All men are created equal”, cynically, they didn’t mean “all men” though — cynically — they did mean only men.

America remains a great idea as yet unrealized. Even the founders knew they hadn’t gotten it right yet — and began amending their Constitution almost immediately. Their own intense debate over slavery informed their final work product. Though the founders made a Devil’s bargain with slavery, they built in the means and mechanism for slavery’s eventual elimination. The Confederacy beat the founders to it though. Not a single Confederate state argued “states’ rights” in their secession documents; they all argue for slavery. Slavery may have lost the (Civil) War, but it won the peace that followed. Thanks to Andrew Johnson, Reconstruction (which would have gone a long way toward leveling the playing field that slavery made vertical) failed even before it got started.

Slavery’s bottommost line is stolen labor. A slave works for free. So long as a slave’s work product is worth more than the cost of housing, clothing and feeding that slave? Slavery makes economic sense. And if people still buy your products and do business with you even though they KNOW you use slave labor (hello, China!), then why change what you’re doing since what you’re doing is more profitable than the alternative? Money automatically compromises every conversation it gets into. Slavery is immoral — full stop! Anyone who enslaves others should be a pariah. Anyone who profits from slavery — same thing. Anyone who today continues to benefit from slavery while others continue to suffer from its ripple effects needs to stop benefiting. They’re not entitled to those bennies.

The real point of making CRT a thing is to connect America’s suburbs back to its latent racism. Back to the systemic racism that 1) aims to keep Black and brown people “in their place”, 2) aims to deny that any systemic racism exists, 3) makes ending racism nearly impossible and 4) makes reparations for slavery (racism’s crowning achievement in America) completely impossible. Racism starts on the back end of that process. Reparations are impossible because racism can never end because racism is so pervasive because Black and brown people must be kept “in their place”. Racists don’t have to reason themselves to that conclusion, that’s their starting point. And like all conservative values, the goal is full-on regression back to a “golden age” in the past where white, Christian, land-owning men ruled over all they surveyed.

The first rule about rabbit holes is avoid them. Whether it’s CRT or birtherism or The Big Lie, once you follow a Trumpanista or a Republican down any of these rabbit holes, the game is already over and they won. Does anyone really want to try and reason a QAnon follower back to reality? They wouldn’t recognize it even if we chained them to it. The only good answer when a Trumpanista offers to show us around their rabbit hole is “Thanks, but no thanks”. Don’t even stand in the doorway — it can suck you in like a black hole’s event horizon. One minute there you are, YOU, the next you’re being spaghettified by the intense gravitational pull of the most powerful force in the universe: bullshit. The moment you even allow that “bullshit ‘could’ be true”? Bullshit won. Don’t expect it to be gracious about it.

Every time Glenn Youngkin said “education” or “CRT”, the correct response from the press shouldn’t have been what it was (“Oh, please — tell us more!”), it should have been a derisive groan as they pulled back their microphone and an angry “What the hell are you even talking about?” And every time they leapt into the rabbit hole, expecting us to follow, they should have seen us standing at the rabbit hole’s rim, arms akimbo, a look of withering disrespect in our eyes. “No,” our expression should say, “I’m NOT following you down there, that’s bullshit! You want to have a conversation, Skippy, you and your lying ass step outside the rabbit hole, otherwise…”.

It’s not unlike arguing with a child. After not getting so much as listened to for a while (never mind not getting their way), even the most intransigent five year old eventually will come around because they’ll need something which, being a five year old, they can’t provide for themselves. Similarly, Republicans spewing bullshit would eventually come around if the news media stopped ingesting that bullshit and began demanding receipts instead.

That would be my recommended response: “Back it up or it’s bullshit”. Think of the look in a Trumpanista’s zombie eyes as, instead of following them into the nether regions of their lunacy, you told them to put up or shut up first.

That doesn’t seem like much of an ask of our news media — to demand receipts from BOTH SIDES instead of the one that always has them — the Democrats. The reason Democrats have receipts is because they use facts as the basis for their world view whereas Republicans never have receipts because they base their worldview on their feelings. And, since the prime feeling inside every Republican is white terror at losing political hegemony, there can’t ever be any facts other than the one: white supremacy relies on white people maintaining political power even if it’s at the expense of our democracy.

That’s what Glenn Youngkin really pitched to Virginia — a neater, “cleaner” version of Trumpism and, especially Trumpism’s core racism. Calling it “Critical Race Theory” has the added benefit of putting racism’s victims — Black people — right back on the defensive: how DARE Black people demand that white people admit to some simple, basic historical truths: without slavery’s stolen (and therefore free) labor, the Confederacy would never have risen the way it did. Every single slave is entitled to every bit of back pay plus interest. But, that’s only if we really want to be fair.

Being fair is hard. It can be really expensive too. But, consider the alternative. The instant we abandon “fairness” because it’s hard, we make being unfair the go-to position since it’s so much easier. And then we wonder why our whole country — despite the majority wanting democracy — teeters on the edge of authoritarianism. Nothing good comes from following anyone down a rabbit hole.

That gets exponentially worse when the rabbit hole is constructed entirely of racism.

“TRUMPOCALYPSE: THE MINISERIES” Casting Office — UPDATED Casting: “THE INSURRECTION CAUCUS”

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

So far, we’ve cast the Trumps — father, sons, daughter/sex partner & wife/handler. They’re all below today’s casting thoughts — THE INSURRECTION CAUCUS!

I have a feeling we’re going to end up expanding this part of the story exponentially. What we saw, live on TV, was the tip of the iceberg that was planned; most of it failed to happen the way it was drawn up in the days preceding the insurrection. That’s the brick wall the Republican Party and Trump are rushing headlong into: the insurrection didn’t occur spontaneously (the way they all hoped it would seem). The insurrection was planned, paid for, coordinated and carried out as a joint effort whose participants included everyone from useful idiot MAGA foot soldiers swept up in the moment to Right Wing money donors to Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani to a slew of Republican members of Congress to Donald Trump himself.

Hell, the January 6 Insurrection might just warrant an entire season unto itself. But, let’s start with our principals, shall we? The casting office is right over here…

CHARACTER

MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE

Always happy to demonstrate that she is, in fact, dumber than any box of rocks – even if that box is empty – Marjorie Taylor Greene called the historic, bi-partisan, infrastructure bill the House just passed “communism”. She called the NBA “fascist” for refusing to let unvaccinated Kyrie Irving play in a basketball game and for letting Magic Johnson play when he had HIV. She insisted people being forced to inoculate themselves against a deadly virus were “just like the Nazis force[ing] Jewish people to wear a gold star.” This woman is wrong about literally everything. I bet when she says “hello” — that’s wrong, too. Or a lie.

Here’s MJT –

And, to play this larger-than-life lump of certifiable loser? I suggest the mega-talented SARAH SNOOK (most recently Shiv Roy on HBO’s excellent “Succession”.) Sarah understands how to play a duplicitous, intelligent women who aspires to get a piece of her soul back one day. I bet she’ll figure out how to play this trailer trash Lady MacBeth.

Sarah Snook to play trailer trash Lady MacBeth Marjorie Taylor Greene?

MATT GAETZ

Matt takes being “smarmy” to places smarmy never thought it could reach. He’s white, frat boy privilege on steroids. He’s a drunk and a skunk with a taste for underage girls. Under different circumstances, Matt would be seen as nothing more than a clown. Insurrection can turn even clowns deadly.

To play Matt? I’m thinking of The Big Bang Theory’s JIM PARSONS… Jim has a bunch of things going for him here. He can play Matt’s clownishness & the pathos of his humanity (even Matt has humanity — it’s what will make his bitter tears so bitter (and so enjoyable because they’re bitter). Jim Parsons also has the requisite amount of forehead.

Can Jim Parsons fill Matt Gaetz’s forehead? I say “yes!”

JIM JORDAN

Jordan and Gaetz always feel like they can’t decide who’s the wing man and who’s the wing man’s wing man. Gymbo looks like he couldn’t get comfortable inside his own skin if his life depended on it. How ironic then that just hearing Jim’s voice makes everyone else’s skin crawl. Imagine you’re the Fly-By-Night Diploma Mill that gave Jim Jordan a JD. How proud they must be of having trained a legal mind as fine as Jim’s.

To play Gymbo, I like former Doctor Who/Duke of Edinburgh MATT SMITH. Like most British actors, Matt can slip into an accent like Jim’s as easily as slipping into Jim’s awful wardrobe. It takes a bright actor to play a stupid person and it will take every ounce of Matt’s considerable talent to plumb the depths of Jim Jordan’s considerable stupidity.

Matt Smith could definitely pin a characterization of Jim Jordan to the mat.

KEVIN McCARTHY

Kevin is like the greyest of grey men. Aside from being able to march in lock step with other Republicans, Kevin McCarthy has zero useful skill sets. Kevin still needs to answer for “There are two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” which he said out loud (it was recorded) as he entered a roomful of GOP leaders on June 25, 2016, a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be POTUS. If Kevin even suspected that Trump was compromised by a hostile foreign power engaged in active cyber war against us, he had a responsibility to say something. Not only didn’t Kevin say anything about this secret, he agreed with then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to keep that secret a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family,” is how Ryan put it, feeling every bit the cosa nostra gangster he was alluding to.

To portray this soulless waste of carbon? I’d go for Mad Men’s JOHN SLATTERY. Slattery’s great at playing grey men who are hollow at their centers.

John Slattery would knock Jim Jordan out of the park — and doesn’t that sound well-deserved?

STEVE BANNON

For a guy who supposedly doesn’t drink, Steve Bannon always looks like the world’s sloppiest drunk who just went on the bender to end all benders. The Department of Justice needs to get off its ass and stand by the January 6 Commission’s subpoenas. Bannon honestly thinks he and his democracy-hating religious zealots will get away with betraying America. We The People look forward to disabusing Steve of this mistaken idea. The more Steve cries about it, the more we’ll like it!

Bannon’s an interesting character. We could go John Goodman here, but I’d cheat the age a little and cast someone who’s always seem to capture a certain “living rough” dynamic. I’m all for NICK NOLTE. Nick’s a good actor but I ain’t buying him as a Wall Street type. Nick’s better at squirrely, old bastards who either had too much to drink or they’re off their meds and need to go back on them. Bannon’s a squirrely old traitor drunk on authoritarian Kool-Aid.

PAST CASTING THOUGHTS

DONALD J. TRUMP

How do you play the most notoriously corrupt, bloated orange scumbag to ever befoul the planet? How do we even cast it? Carefully, of course… Some thoughts: BRENDAN GLEASON as Trump…

NOTES: Gleeson played Trump in “The Comey Rule” on Showtime.

WOODY HARRELSON as Trump

NOTES: I’ve always liked Woody Harrelson’s “interior” range. It’s amazing and we’re going to need an actor with incredible emotional range to play a character with VIRTUALLY NONE.  It’s like getting an actor to sing off key.  The ones who can actually sing will automatically do it better.  They even know where off-key is.

NOTE ON ALEC BALDWIN: Alec Baldwin is a talented actor who is caught in a terrible circumstance . It breaks my heart (personally and as someone who’s produced movies and TV shows), what happened because it shouldn’t have. Baldwin’s Trump was always caricature over character (by design). That’s not to put him out of the running just… not now.

IVANKA TRUMP

SCARLET JOHANSSON as Ivanka Trump

NOTES: There’s a kind of irony in an actress great at playing Black Widow to play the part of a woman who acts like an actual black widow spider.

AMANDA SEYFRIED as Ivanka

NOTES: Some things just seem so natural…

DONALD TRUMP, JR

MIKEY DAY as Donald Trump, Jr

NOTES: Presently, the actor who’s gotten closest to nailing Don Jr’s unctuousness is an actor satirizing him. That’s probably not a coincidence. Still — we need some competition here. I’ll put my mind to it if you will…

ERIC TRUMP

Alex Moffat as Eric Trump

NOTES: As with Mikey Day’s Junior, SNL’s version of Eric — and I love Alex Moffat’s Eric — stands for the moment as “the” Eric. Competition’s good for everyone — Trump’s included.

MELANIA TRUMP

CASTING OPEN!

Awaiting Picture, so here’s the real Melania — in the one photo I can find of her smiling like she means it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Melania’s smiling this way at Putin. Not cos Melania respects international relationships but because she worked the whole damned time as Donald’s handler on Vlad’s behalf. Hey, how do you say “I don’t care, do you?” in Russian?

VLADIMIR PUTIN

MADS MIKKELSON as Vladimir Putin

NOTES: Mads played the Bond Villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. By all accounts, Vlad Putin is the Bond Villain America fully deserves.

RUDY GIULIANI

KATE McKINNON as Rudy Giuliani

NOTES: Personally, I’m not sure a human can play the entirely humanoid Rudy but my mind’s open. Kate McKinnon can do anything. I bet she could do a fully deep dive into Rudy and actually pull off an amazing, lifelike (without being cartoonish) characterization. But still — for the moment, the part’s wide open.

Another thought:

To play crazy…

…HIRE crazy…

MORE CHARACTERS TO COME!!!!!

There Absolutely Is A “Culture War” Aflame In America — White Culture Versus Everyone Else

Both sides don’t have a “Newt Gingrich” on their bench (or in their past). Only the Republicans do. Remember Newtie (“The Man Who Broke [American] Politics”? Back when Bill Clinton was POTUS, Newt served as 50th Speaker of the House of Representatives and drove the “Impeach Bill Clinton Cos A Blow Job” train as hard as he could and for all that blow job was worth. Time Magazine made Gingrich their “Man of the Year in 1995, Gingrich, while Speaker (third in line to the presidency), “…he encouraged his fellow Republicans to refer to Democrats as ‘traitors’.” That’s “traitors” for wanting America to pursue a Progressive path instead of the conservative one Newt preferred. That is sooooooooo right wing — to declare all opposition “traitors”. They’ve been doing that since Viet Nam and Joe McCarthy. Calling other Americans traitors because they think differently — that’s how Right Wing Culture works. It must be — because that’s how it says it works.

For the record? Progressives call conservatives and Republicans “traitors” too. Except, when Democrats spit that word at Republicans now? It’s because Republicans have stood beside Donald Trump who even the Republicans agreed before the nominated Trump in 2016 was owned outright by Vladimir Putin. As current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it on June 25, 2016 as he entered a meeting of GOP leadership: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” See how much more “treason-y” that is compared to, say, a policy difference?

But then, white culture isn’t about seeking any truths or trying to make America as fair as possible for as many Americans as possible. It’s about maintaining white culture’s hegemony. White culture is terrified of losing its grip on American political power (and thus the bulk of American wealth). Being staunch believers that all life is a zero sum game (if a Black person gets something from the political system, it’s because a white person lost something), white culture can’t imagine sharing political power; to them, that’s exactly the same as losing it completely.

Like Charlton Heston’s rifle, We The People will have to pry political power from white America’s cold, desiccating fingers. I, for one, am down for that fight.

Progressives have one, clear (and clearly stated) goal for America: make it live up to its ideals. Not just “E Pluribus Unum” — we’re doing well with that one. It’s “All men are created equal” that’s giving us conniptions. For starters, the white, Christian, land-owning men who either wrote it or stood by it didn’t mean it. You can’t honestly claim “All men are created equal” when, at the same time, you permit slavery within your borders (where slaves are only three-fifths of a white person). Slavery, at its most bottom line, is labor theft.

The whole point of enslaving someone is to get their work product for free (minus the cost of housing, feeding and clothing the slave). Take stolen labor off the table — in other words, if the agrarian Southern States had been forced to pay all the labor that sowed and harvested their cotton, tobacco and sugar cane a fair market wage, they would never have risen to the economic heights they did (though they might have become a worker’s paradise). The impetus to pay people as little as possible for their work is no different from wanting to enslave people. That is what corrupt, greedy scumbags like Newt think is “democracy”.

Whenever white people feel afraid of their fellow citizens, they jigger the laws so as to use the laws to undermine their fellow citizens. The whole history of cannabis prohibition in America is about racism triumphing over everything else. When America’s first drug czar, Harry Anslinger, first went to work in 1930, he thought of marijuana as at worst a minor nuisance. By 1937 however, Anslinger was warning America that “reefer madness” was stalking them. Anslinger didn’t care about cannabis when Mexicans — fleeing the violence of the Mexican Revolution after 1910 — or Black jazz musicians in New Orleans smoked it (though Anslinger despised jazz). When white people started using it — that’s where Anslinger drew the line and went on the offensive.

Anslinger didn’t care for two seconds whether or not marijuana actually was good or bad for anyone. Racist that he was, he thought marijuana was bad for him. Bad for white people especially if white people smoked a Black and brown peoples’ drug. Anslinger, in causing marijuana to be illegalized, gave legal credence to his own deep-seated racism. In so doing, Anslinger declared an unspoken culture war on everyone who wasn’t him.

Progressives, as their name says, want to see America progress into the future. Conservatives, as their name says, want to conserve. But, what do they want to conserve? Simple: as much of the past as still remains in the present. But, if they could really have their way? Conservatives would regress us collectively back to the past idealized inside their heads. In that past, white people had all the power and all the money. Everyone else was subservient to them. That’s the America conservatism really longs for — it’s why they gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters. Democracy itself poses the most imminent threat to conservatism and conservative values (such as they are).

Both sides did not declare a “culture war” on other Americans because both sides don’t see a “culture war”. Progressives are just trying to live their lives — and enjoy the exact same freedoms, benefits and responsibilities that every other American enjoys. Conservatives, on the other hand, have made limiting voting rights for everyone not them the entire thrust of their efforts. And, if they can’t stop Americans from voting — or stop votes from being counted — they’ll simply toss the results they don’t like (the ones where they lose, of course). That ain’t democracy.

It is fascism. Fascism needs to declare culture war against everyone else because that is its culture. To be at war with every other culture. Maybe white people are on to something. Of all the American tribes, the white tribe is the only one to oppress all the other tribes. If anything binds the rest of us to each other, it’s the fact that we’ve all been bullied by white people or white culture.

I’ve got bad news for America’s feckless fascists. Oh, they are every bit as dangerous as they seem. They’re every bit as prone to violence because — well, have you heard their “words”? But, a homogenous nation like Germany (mostly made up of Germans and the descendants of Germans going back a millennium) fell in line because even the “good Germans” were more German than good. It would have been “un-German” to stop what the “less good” Germans were doing (to groups — Jews, Roma people, gay men — that Germans hated anyway). But, here in America, white people are a shrinking majority (they’re 57% of non-Latino white people). Ironically, that “white people” includes Jews and other tribes that hard core white people DON’T think of as “white”. All the other tribes, for all their differences, have one big thing in common: they’ve all been bullied relentlessly by white people.

When a white minority, bent on seizing political power it does not have looks to the rest of America to march in goose step alongside them? They won’t find “Good Germans” staring back at them. They’ll find the rest of America with its diverse faces filling with rage — at them. It won’t be fun. It will be messy and violent. But the truth is, diverse America will not be cowed by white America no matter how violent they get. Hell, it’s America, isn’t it? Everyone has guns!

If history teaches one thing (that conservatives never learn), it’s that history moves on regardless of how much they try to stop it. They’re sand castles convinced they can resist the incoming tide. The tide will win. And fascism in America will lose if it ever gets the chance to subjugate us. My money’s on the DoJ coming through and prosecuting not just Donald Trump but pretty much the entire Republican Party for plotting against We The People. Prosecution is the only way to stop these people.

Prosecution and bankrupting them. Hey, at the end of the day, every conservative’s most vulnerable organ is their wallet. Hit them hard enough and often enough there? They’ll give up.

The Takeaway From Tuesday’s Election Should Be: In American Politics, Nothing Succeeds Quite Like Racism

Our news media still thinks it’s “journalism” to ask a racist if he thinks he’s a racist. It’s one of those stupid questions that’s so stupid, it’s shocking that anyone older than five would ask it. It’s like asking Hitler if he’s an anti-Semite. Really? You have to ask? And, what if Hitler denied being one? Would we take his word? “Hey, if the guy says he loves Jews — but in a “tough love” kinda way — who are we to question how he shows his love?” This is the view from inside the rabbit hole. Is an alcoholic in deep denial of his alcoholism really the best person to ask if he’s an alcoholic? Of course not! Racists are even more likely to pooh-pooh their racism as “normal behavior”. It’s the fact that we’ve normalized so much racism already that’s brought us to this precipice. And by “normalize”, I mean “accept”. We have accepted racism as a given because we think it’s up to the racist to decide whether or not they’re racist.

This is insanity!

Racism, like beauty, is entirely in the eye of the beholder. Where racism is concerned, it’s up to the racist’s victims to adjudge whether anything racist, bigoted, misogynistic or hateful has been directed at them. Only they have the proper perspective. But, America hasn’t figured that out yet. At least, our news media hasn’t…

Our news media — high again on “both sides do it” — saw the results through the lens they always see it through: as a rebuke of Progressive politics when the only vaguely progressive concept on the table was an initiative in Minneapolis to change their police department into a public safety office (which lost — a whole other conversation). The news media jumped on the Democrats for being oblivious of “kitchen table” or “water cooler” issues when the legislation they’re fighting for — the Progressives more than anyone — is all literally that: kitchen table legislation that polls incredibly well. “Gone too far left!” “centrist” Koch whores like Joe Manchin want to deny their own constituents the benefits of their tax dollars that they have said they want. The Democrats aren’t being hamstrung in these negotiations by the Progressives, they’re being hamstrung by two corrupt centrists negotiating on behalf of corruption!

Ah, but our news media is as oblivious of corruption as they are of racism. For months now, the news media focused on the bottom line number while the Progressives tried to explain WHY that number needed to be as large as possible because the goal was to level the playing field for ALL Americans. But, our news media doesn’t “do” nuance — which is why they never reported on it and reported on the “horse race” aspect — the number — instead. And, because THEY focused on the number, they accused the Democrats of focusing on the number — which FORCED the Democrats to focus on the number instead of the great things they wanted to talk about.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have been hard at work taking a sledge hammer to our democracy in plain sight. Most of the GOP now says out loud that they believe Joe Biden stole the election from Donald Trump. Get it? While the Democrats have been trying to craft legislation that will do what Americans say they want done, two centrists (representing WHO exactly in this negotiation since it isn’t their actual constituents) have stood in the way, refusing to articulate an actual position not connected to “a number”. Joe Manchin’s entire stance has been “well, that number’s too big!”, an argument he didn’t present when the Republicans were in power and robbing the American taxpayer in broad daylight. All while committing sedition, insurrection and treason to boot.

Our news media KNOWS what it means when a Republican throws down “critical race theory”. It’s not taught beneath upper level college and graduate school. When Glenn Youngkin made CRT and Toni Morrison an issue in Virginia, it wasn’t because he gives a rat’s ass about anyone’s education. In fact, what Youngkin’s after is the diametric opposite of education, enforced ignorance. This is white people in America refusing to look our collective history — including theirs — square in the face because it won’t be a pleasant experience for them. Contrition never is easy but then, that’s why contrition’s so important.

If the irony wasn’t so deadly, it’d be hilarious.

The Republican Party really has become like The Worst Bond Villain Ever. While Bloefeld had world domination in his sights, the GOP has permanent minority rule. While SMERSH has an army of people loyal to them (I’m guessing) because of a decent enough paycheck to make them overlook all the compromises they’ve made working for an uber villain, Republicans have race zombies whose brains have been rotted by dreams of white supremacy. There’s no killing them because there’s no killing the thing that drives them. As I’ve said here repeatedly, America is a great idea as yet unrealized. The flaw sits right there inside “All men are created equal”. The white, European, Christian, land-owning men who wrote or stood by “All men are created equal” didn’t mean “all men”. They only meant men exactly like them. But they did mean ONLY men. That kinda takes a huge, steaming dump on the whole experiment in human self government when only some of the governed are allowed to do the governing.

To their credit, the founders DID get it right when they put “E Pluribus Unum” on the great seal. Out of many one — diversity, in other words — has always been what makes America exceptional, not “some men are created more equal than other men”. The Republican Party, in Reaganism’s wake, saw demographic annihilation coming at them faster than they expected. Democracy itself was their problem! That’s what “originalism” is meant to counter: it doesn’t matter what current day America is, it only matters what 1780 America was like — in every single way right down to how they thought regardless of how wrong it was. If the founders were racists then racism should be baked into the rules — that’s originalism.

Glenn Youngkin’s win was evidence of the GOP adjusting their marketing on the fly. They know Trump is toxic to the one group of Americans they can still pull back into their tent — suburban white people (women especially) who want to do the right thing as a community but feel tribalism’s tug more distinctly. Rebranding racism as “concern for how we educate our children” is clever but obvious. At least, it should be obvious. But, our news media punches the clock everyday and then insists “both sides do it”. They insist on being neutral because they think neutrality at all costs is “fair”. The problem is who it’s being fair to.

If you learn that someone is a criminal but refuse to report on them as a criminal, you are mis-reporting the truth. Our news media reported Donald Trump’s criminal behavior constantly over the course of his 2016 candidacy: “Hey, Russia, if you’re listening…!” was a criminal act — literally. Just because we refused to prosecute it as such doesn’t mean it wasn’t a criminal act. Put it into the context of everything that follows —

— and suddenly this photo plus a back channel communication system between Trump Tower, Russian-owned Alpha Bank and the Kremlin doesn’t look quite so… well it wasn’t innocent to begin with. We’re already deep, DEEP into treason! And, just to remind ourselves: when the GOP nominated Trump to be their candidate in 2016, they did it KNOWING that Trump was compromised by a country at cyber war with us. Or, as current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it as he entered a room filled with GOP leaders: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”

The reason Donald Trump needs to be POTUS again isn’t because he loves the job. Oh, yeah, sure — he loves the power. Because of what the power will let him do: avoid getting prosecuted and punished for betraying America.

Those are the stakes now. That’s what the national GOP is after — using the rule of law and the Constitution to subvert the rule of law and the Constitution in order to shove permanent minority rule down our throats while they point at how they did it legally. Well, it ain’t legal and never was. In order to get the ship (of state) headed the way they needed it to head, first the Republican Party committed TREASON. But for Russia, Trump never becomes POTUS. Truly — take Russia entirely out of the Trump/GOP equation and Hillary Clinton beats whatever racist ape the Republicans toss onto the fire.

Oh, make no mistake — Mitch McConnell and the rest of his racist pals would have done everything possible to shove a broomstick into democracy’s spokes. But, they wouldn’t have been able to do it with Vlad Putin at their backs, kompromat in his pocket. Want to know why the GOP was and remains so loyal to Donald Trump? Yeah, yeah — his base counts for something. But it’s the threat of being tried for treason that really sits center stage. The thought of life imprisonment — or capital punishment (it’s still on the table as a punishment for treason) — that is what terrifies every single Republican. And if it doesn’t, it will.

Our news media still thinks Republicans are honest actors. They still think a Republican unable to articulate what “critical race theory” even is represents a reasonable point of view. Would they feel the same way if the ignorance spewing from the ignorant destroyed all their rights? Wouldn’t they kinda want to jump on that because — neutrality be damned — they know from personal experience that the person they’re interviewing is a liar and a dangerous liar at that?

Of course they would cos “skin in the game”. The news media’s failure isn’t one of politics (though politics play a part), it’s one of craft. They failed the craft of journalism and, in turn, American journalism failed America.