Some Perspective On Perspective

As much as I might want to see the world through another person’s eyes, it’s a physical impossibility. The best I can ever really hope for is to imagine what the world literally looks like as they see it. It’s a fact — we all experience “experience” differently.

Imagine a cube sitting alone on a vast, featureless plain. From the cube’s point of view, all one can see — turning 360 degrees — is plain. From the plain’s perspective however, there’s endless plain — and a cube. Differing perspectives see differing things. But one of the two perspectives saw everything (or more of everything) while the other failed to see a key detail.

As a Nation, we stand at a moment of existential crisis because we have lost perspective — and our perspective was dubious to begin with.

How is it that a criminal and traitor occupies the White House and we are seemingly powerless to remove him from office? How is that all this information about Donald Trump’s criminality — including 488 pages of Mueller Report — and we STILL can’t even officially accuse the man of what he’s demonstrably done?

It’s like the Truth is that cube sitting in the middle of vast, featureless plain — and we, living inside the Truth, can’t see it because we’re so “close to it”. If we could just get some perspective, we’d get it. Our news media has a related problem. They want to get at the truth — but don’t seem to realize that the deep dives they take — while detailed — aren’t adding significantly to our overall knowledge because they’re too focused on detail. Or on the wrong details…

A story (like Trump’s with Russia, for instance) is a mosaic. Each tile is significant. The problem is, our Main Stream News Media — while awfully good at boring into any particular tile — have a tendency (while boring in on the particular tile that’s drawn their interest) to forget all the other tiles in the mosaic.

Some of them even forget that the thing they’re looking at is part of a mosaic. They convince themselves that the piece they’re looking at IS the whole picture while the Whole Picture actually looks a lot like this

On a related note — and a similar metaphor — there are the numbers crunchers like NBC’s Steve Kornacki. Kornacki can tell you a lot of fascinating detail about the numbers themselves — how a district voted historically, how a particular candidate has fared with a particular group of voters. But Kornacki’s assumption that the past is prologue doesn’t apply to now. We’ve never had an actual traitor as POTUS — and we’ve never had one of our two political parties committed to keeping that traitor in power.

The details on the ground matter more than the fact that there’s “ground”. Put another way, Number crunchers like Steve Kornacki can wax rhapsodic about a grain of sand (how small it is — or big compared to other grains of sand, what kind of rock it came from, how old it is, what its future probably is) …

Yeah — Kornacki can show you the beauty in a grain of sand. But beyond that things get sketchy…

Almost as important as knowing about the grain of sand is knowing where the grain of sand lives. And that’s something Kornacki can only guess at — because he’s lost perspective (and maybe never had it to begin with). For all Kornacki knows, the grain of sand he’s fixated on comes from here…

But, for all Steve knows, it could just as easily come from the surface of Mars…

It’s lack of perspective that first fed the ludicrous idea that “both sides do it”. “Both sides do it” always functions without any sense of scale — or perspective. To the “both sides do it” crowd, Bernie Madoff and Jean Valjean (from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables) are both thieves — never mind that one ripped off people to the tune of billions while the other stole bread to feed the hungry. The respective-less Both Sides Do It club says thievery is thievery is thievery (if poor people or people of color do it).

Storytellers need to be able to pull the camera back as far as it will go — and then further still. A storyteller with no perspective is a person to whom that story is being told.

They’re like a cube sitting on a wide open, featureless plain…

Advertisements

Life Is Like Standing In A Batter’s Box — And The Pitcher’s A Sadist

I’m not the first person to visit this analogy. But I feel that analogy every day like I’m standing in a batter’s box and whatever’s out there pitching at me is seriously off their meds.

As metaphors & analogies go, life compares best to baseball (as opposed to football, basketball, soccer — or archery even). There’s a clock in baseball (9 innings) but it’s a flexible clock. There are no ties. The game will end eventually even if it takes an extra long time. And then there’s that feeling of “one-on-one-ness”. Yes, we’re all part of a team, but whereas in American football, a quarterback may hold the ball but he can’t possibly win one vs eleven. He can score from his one-yard-line all by himself with no one’s help but it’s pretty damned unlikely. He needs blockers. He just does.

In baseball, it’s pitcher v batter. A single batter can homer – produce the only hit, only run in an otherwise perfectly pitched game & all by him or herself, defeat the pitcher. The rest of the team has to pitch & play defense almost flawlessly to keep that 1-0 victory alive but — if they all struck out every time at bat, it wouldn’t matter; the win would still theirs.

So — there we are — bat in our hands, catcher and umpire behind us, Pitcher out on the mound staring us down. We’re all looking for the fastball right down the middle. Forget about it. Life doesn’t throw that pitch — ever. That’s not to say those pitches don’t exist — but Life doesn’t throw them. There’s that funny baseball-tinged saying that the wonderful Molly Ivins used to describe George W. Bush (or was it the equally wonderful Ann Richards?) — He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. That’s exactly right. Life never threw any pitch that W had to hit to get where he got. He was born there.

Life does throw fastballs. Life throws them hard — right at our heads. Every day. Life lives to bean us.

The trick — avoid getting beaned while looking for something we can hit. The problem — Life’s not going to throw anything to hit. If it isn’t hurling high heat at hour heads, it’s throwing off speed junk and Uncle Charlies. Especially the Charlies.

The off speed crap usually hits the dirt before reaching the batter’s box. We swing at it anyway, looking foolish. The curve balls however — that’s where our hope lies. Learn to hit Life’s curveballs and you might not only get on base a few times, you may even park one right in the bleachers. Maybe even the parking lot.

It’s CRIMINAL That Cannabis Was Ever Criminalized

I believe — actual life experience being my data set — that my life is better in myriad ways with cannabis IN it than WITHOUT it. If I separate my personal experience with cannabis from cannabis’ story here in America (its demonization and prohibition for entirely racist reasons), I see a natural product — minimally processed (especially if you grow it yourself which anyone can do) — that 1) gives me a quality of sleep that no OTC sleep med ever delivered, 2) mitigates my hypo-mania while 3) improving my focus exponentially and, bonus, makes me a far, far better 4) tennis player and (frankly) 5) driver.

There’s actually lots of data compiled by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that backs me up about cannabis’ actual effect on driving. Look past the report’s inherent upfront bias — where it states how impactful cannabis is on driving performance — to where it deals in actual data. The actual data about cannabis’ impact on driving abilities says “Experienced smokers who drive on a set course show almost no functional impairment under the influence of marijuana, except when it is combined with alcohol.”

Further: “Several reviews of driving and simulator studies have concluded that marijuana use by drivers is likely to result in decreased speed and fewer attempts to overtake, as well as increased “following distance”. The opposite is true of alcohol.” Cannabis made drivers drive more safely. There’s a giant flaw in all of this research however. A giant one. The research assumes that all cannabis is created equal. It’s not. An indica’s impact is very different a sativa’s. Skywalker will put you to sleep while Durban Poison will focus you like a laser.

I’d like to see the same research done with users on different types of cannabis. I won’t hold my breath.

We currently treat cannabis the same as we do alcohol — as if its impact on our brains was exactly the same. That’s nonsense. Scientifically speaking — it’s total nonsense. THC does not work on or in our brains the way alcohol does.

The reason black jazz musicians in New Orleans gravitated toward cannabis in the 1920’s when it first appeared there was that, whereas alcohol and every other drug dulled their creativity, cannabis sparked it. Yes, yes, there are feelings of euphoria. But there’s also an increased awareness of all the details around you. You hear more, see more, smell and taste more. Fact — food when THC is pumping through you can taste extraordinary.

My creative day begins with cannabis. I like to ease into the work day with GG4 and coffee. I usually have MSNBC on in one ear via satellite. I hear nuances in the voices. I hear the awkward pauses and the extra twists of inside-dish-snarkiness. Getting serious starts as the coffee finishes — with a sativa. Durban Poison is a regular; I love its clean, even-keeled focus. Consistent clarity. Clementine is another terrific daytime work sativa. Ditto Super Lemon Haze.

For maintenance of a working “high” (it’s not a “high”, it’s focus — good, solid, intense focus), I also use Pineapple Express and Silver Back. But the hands down best “Go For Broke” workday strain is the hybrid Trainwreck. A Trainwreck reviewer said once that it made them want to clean their house with a toothbrush — that’s how focused it made them. Yeah — that’s about right. The one drawback to Trainwreck though — unlike the other strains — there is a sleepy patch on the downslope side of the high. Nothing a five minute cat nap won’t resolve.

Even before I discovered cannabis late, late in life (it only ever put me to sleep when I was younger — which held minimal appeal then), I wanted to tell the story of Harry Anslinger and cannabis’ criminalization. When a journalist friend became an editor at Weedmaps’ News division — and asked me to write for them — I offered up my deep dive into Anslinger — and Blunt Truths was born.

I’m biased, of course, but I recommend Blunt Truths unequivocally.

The Blunt Truth is that we did something terrible to ourselves when we let prigs and sanctimonious racists bamboozle us into thinking cannabis caused people of color to rape white women. As my own research revealed — at no point in cannabis’ illegalization did ever of the illegalizers ever ask or even conduct experiments demonstrating whether cannabis WAS actually good or bad for its users.

That’s what makes what we did so profoundly wrong. It’s not for everyone. Can we please accept that nothing is good for everyone? But its benefits so far outweigh its negatives that — it WAS criminal to have criminalized cannabis. It was extra criminal to criminalize the people who used it — or sold it or bought it or grew it or sold products related to it as Tommy Chong did (for which he was imprisoned — and check out my experience of getting high with Tommy here).

I am grateful — truly grateful — that cannabis is in my life. My wish is that it can be a part of everyone’s life (everyone who wants it to be of course). If more people smoked more dope, more people would be more sane in this world. That’s experience talking.

America’s Love Affair With STUPID: Part 4 — We’re ALL Stupid & That’s A Fact

The sign of a really stupid person is they’re convinced they aren’t and have never been stupid. Boy, are they wrong. And stupid.

America is filled with people — almost all of them men — who are completely convinced that 1) they have never been wrong because, 2) that would be stupid and, 3) they are not stupid. Let’s all promise to try and NOT be like them, okay? It’s just a fact. We’re all stupid. We’re all less smart than we think because, the fact is, we’re a lot less aware than we think. More now than ever.

Quick — go to your front door (or a window that looks out onto the street). Throw it open. Count to ten. Now close the door (or turn from the window). Tell us everything you saw. E v e r y t h i n g . Don’t leave out a thing. What — too much to remember? All that information was available to you. It’s on you that you could only take in so much. Even if you could have spit back a good list of obvious things — houses, cars, trees, people — how much detail could you have gone into about each? Zilch, I bet.

Don’t blame yourself. You’re human.

And, being human, we only observe certain kinds of light. We only hear certain frequenciess of sound. Never mind the information available to us that we miss — there’s a veritable shitload of information flying at us to which we are operationally blind. Our original equipment is incapable of perceiving it.

I bring this up because that is so directly analogous to our current effing mess.

On the one hand, loads of information says Donald Trump, his crime family, his associates, his whole freakin’ political party ffs are, to a man, criminals who’ve given up on the Rule Of Law. That information has been staring at us for almost 3 years now. Yet here we sit… A big whack of corroborating information sits inside the 448 page Mueller Report, out more than a month now for all to see. Yet most Americans — including all but one Republican in Congress — still haven’t read it.

All this information — important information, too — it’s there, ready to be absorbed like aloe into dry skin. And yet… What part of that ISN’T stupid? You have the knowledge you need to solve the problem in front of you — but you resist taking in the knowledge? I almost can’t get my head around the fact that such a thought exists. That so much stupidity exists.

I live in TrumpWorld. I need to get over myself. I’m being stupid otherwise.

The American Museum Of MSM Mediocrity Is Open For Business… Care For A Tour?

The bad news: America’s news media has not lived up to its Constitutional obligation to be the final check on power. But, on the bright side, there’s now a brand-spanking-new museum to highlight every bit of their crushing failure: Welcome to the new AMERICAN MUSEUM OF MSM MEDIOCRITY.

Now, meet your tour guide — the “HEWITT-BOT 2000”

HEWITT-BOT 2000: Hello, human. I am Hewitt-Bot 2000. I am a reasonable facsimile of Hugh Hewitt — a man whose continuing appearances on Main Stream Media outlets defies all rational explanation.

We are pleased to have you here with us today to celebrate all the extraordinary mediocrity in American News Media. First, please follow me into our Entrance Hall — where you’ll find our “SALUTE TO SALIERI, PATRON SAINT OF MEDIOCRITY”…

We hope you appreciate how important mainstream news media mediocrity is to us here. Actually, our other Patron Saint — CHUCK TODD — was supposed to be here to greet you today but he overslept.

First let’s enter the HALL OF FALSE EQUIVALENCE.

Here in the Hall Of False Equivalence, we equate things that have no business being equated. Over on the far wall is the “EVERYTHING WEIGHS THE SAME” exhibit…

Here at the Museum of MSM Mediocrity, we believe that every piece of information, no matter what, weighs exactly the same as every other piece of information. Think of it this way…

A giant barbell and a tiny feather may not look like they weigh the same — but they do if we say they do! They both have weight, don’t they? Boom — THEY’RE THE SAME!

These Things Weigh The Same…

Still not getting it? How about this… We all know Bernie Madoff is a thief.

He stole BILLIONS of dollars and ruined people. He’s a criminal! But, hey — so is JEAN VALJEAN, the hero of Victor Hugo’s “LES MISERABLES” Jean stole bread to feed the hungry…

But, here at the Museum of MSM Mediocrity, we say “A thief is a thief is a thief”. And voila! Another FALSE EQUIVALENCE is born! Steal a billion or feed the hungry — it’s all thievery as far as we’re concerned!

Now, follow me into the next hall where THE HUGH HEWITT SHRINE awaits…

People ask me all the time — “Hewitt-Bot 2000, how can someone as intensely mediocre as Hugh Hewitt keep getting air time on all these major news outlets?” And we always tell them — “Why do you think? Hugh has naked pictures of everyone!”

TO BE CONTINUED…

How Bad Is It? For The First Time, I’m Not Entirely Sure How This Shit-Show Turns Out…

I’ll own it: I over-bet on Robert Mueller and the Mueller Report. I over-bet on his reputation as a soldier and as a law enforcement professional. I over-bet on a career spent inside the box thinking outside the box.

None of that’s on Robert Mueller. It’s all on me. Instead of filling the silence with despair like a Bergman movie, I filled it with hope. I thought all the clear criminality I could see (well, me and a lot of the twittersphere — the detail-oriented, back-it-up-or-it’s-bullshit part of the twittersphere) was sitting there like a ball on a batting T. All Team Mueller had to do was pick up a bat.

Even that was a problem apparently. Robert Mueller felt hemmed in by that Department of Justice memo meant to keep Spiro Agnew from pardoning Richard Nixon. We’re riding the leading edge of an historical ripple effect — an unintended consequence of tragic proportions. Unable to charge a sitting president — and reluctant apparently to anger Trump by charging his children (and risk his work product being destroyed), Robert Mueller pulled his punches. He tipped everything in Congress’ direction.

But — here’s where I over-bet again — Mueller didn’t count on his good friend Bill Barr betraying him by completely mischaracterizing his work product — by telling America that he, Robert Mueller, had just let Trump off the hook. Mueller didn’t count on Bill Barr being there for the express purpose of obstructing the very justice Robert Mueller had just spent 2 1/2 years pursuing. Mueller has raised his voice and complained. He even broke ranks — a little — to insist that we all read his report.

He’s right. Everyone should. A lot of very painful truth sits inside those 448 pages. It defies explanation that the Truth sits there — right in the middle of us — yet the villains of the piece continue to walk free — as if they’ve bamboozled not just us but logic itself.

Personally, I don’t care if Robert Mueller says he’ll only repeat what’s in his report if called before Congress. He’s a private citizen now. No special privileges. You get called, you answer. The questions we have won’t necessarily concern just what’s inside that report. There’s the relationship with Bill Barr that needs looking into. Mr. Mueller will have to answer those questions. He’ll be under oath.

But why should it come to that? Why isn’t Robert Mueller demanding an hour of prime time to speak directly to the American People?

Yeah… I over-bet big time.

I’m an optimistic person by nature. Never Say Die. That’s me. I believe there are enough good people to overcome this shit. I’m not sure what will be left when we get finished pulling it back from the career criminals that used to be the Republican Party. I appreciate that Nancy Pelosi wants to do this by the book. The Rule Of Law is or it isn’t.

Great thought. Noble as hell. But the Rule Of Law takes time — and I’m not sure that time’s on the schedule. Sometimes, you have to work with what you have. If time’s short, Madame Speaker — you need to improvise a little. Just sayin’.

Today, Donald Trump outed himself completely. He must know that Donald Trump Junior is about to get nailed for knowingly taking info from foreign sources. Trump and the republican party are blasting away the obstacles that say that’s not just unacceptable, it’s illegal. Not anymore it isn’t, not anymore.

Rachel Maddow said something tonight that got me thinking. We expected that once all this got out into the light, nature would take its course. Law enforcement would “happen” because that’s how the Rule Of Law works. Except the Rule Of Law’s gone missing.

Today, watching Republicans not respond to Trump’s inviting every foreign country on the planet to have a go at our elections, it struck me how screwed up we are. From the moment it became clear that Trump was going to be the republican nominee, I’ve been yawping that Trump would be the end of the republican party. He absolutely has been.

I didn’t for two seconds imagine however that Trump would be the end of the Republic, too.

A bad outcome isn’t written in stone. But the republicans made it crystal clear today just how ugly this is going to have to get before there’s any chance of it getting better. Trump knows for a fact: the instant he stops being POTUS, his legal nightmares begin. He will go to prison — IF he ever stops being POTUS. The same now applies to the whole damned republican party. They, too, have thrown all in. (Shriveled, old) balls to the wall.

We are going to be subjected to a Bond Movie ending that gets bigger and bigger, louder and more complicated with a Teflon villain who just won’t go down. We The People are the majority. We WILL get to the other side of this.

I just worry about what-all will still be here to save.

“Reefer Madness” Is What Happens When People Smoke Bullshit Instead of Reefer

The story of marijuana prohibition is an object lesson in what happens when bullshit triumphs over truth. That should matter to us right here, right now — because we’re facing a similar situation with the Mueller Report. Truth exists within its pages — yet there are people insisting that the diametric opposite is true. Too bad they have power — and the power to push their lies hard.

Republican Representative Justin Amash from Michigan held a town hall to explain to his constituents why he broke ranks with every other Republican to demand Donald Trump’s impeachment. Representative Amash had the audacity to actually read The Mueller Report. By contrast, it seems, not a single other republican has even cracked it. Wonder why…

Instead, the Republicans have relied on AG Bill Barr’s fraudulent characterizations of the Mueller Report, its findings and its tortured reasoning for why it couldn’t “do” more. And therein lies the historical comparison. Bill Barr is the new Harry Anslinger.

Anslinger was America’s first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. A lot has been written about Anslinger recently, not all of it correct. For a more detailed analysis of Anslinger and his impact on America and the world, check out my series Blunt Truths over at Weedmaps News. Bottom line — Anslinger was a racist, top to bottom, who invested his racism in American laws. The reason we still live in Anslinger’s racist shadow is that, in addition to being a racist, Anslinger was a very good bureaucrat. He understood how the system worked and therefore how to work it.

In 1930, when Anslinger first took office, marijuana was a non-entity to most Americans. They had no idea what it was and didn’t care about it. Why would they? Prior to 1910 — when the Mexican Revolution sent Mexican war refugees heading north — Americans thought of cannabis as 1) medicine and 2) hemp. The influx of Mexicans meant an influx of Mexican culture — which included marijuana (the way WASP culture includes cocktails).

Apparently the sight of Mexicans blissing out horrified white people (and their abuse of alcohol).

Cannabis does what cannabis does. It doesn’t do what it doesn’t do. There are behaviors it “causes” and behaviors it doesn’t — because of how it works biochemically in peoples’ brains. Fact — if the crowds at football games (soccer games) all smoked cannabis instead of drinking beer, there’d be no lager louts rioting, setting cars and shops afire after matches. They’d all be hugging each other more likely. Or asleep. Happily. With no hangover in their future.

But people being happy and snoozing doesn’t “sell” anything. The first anti-cannabis laws were passed in California in 1915 — pushed hard by the Pharmacists. Funny thing? Though they were pharmacists, they weren’t thinking about whether or not cannabis could or would hurt its users. They were thinking only of its users — Mexicans. THAT, California’s pharmacists decided, was the problem.

Every single anti-cannabis measure ever passed — EVER — has been born of racism and nothing but. FACT.

As late as 1935, Harry Anslinger still didn’t give a damn about cannabis. But then something changed. Word began to filter toward Anslinger that white people were now using marijuana. During the 1920’s, cannabis use spread from the American Southwest to New Orleans where it found a very happy home amongst black jazz musicians. Musicians discovered that cannabis unleashed their creativity (whereas alcohol killed it).

Our thoughts are electrical currents flowing across the synapses in our brains. Our synapses are like digital circuits — they’re either open or closed. THC causes more of those synapses to be open. More thoughts flow through our brains. It’s not that we see more or hear more, we just become more aware of all the things we’re seeing and hearing. THC makes our brains more cognizant. That additional information flow can feel intimidating. It can feel like paranoia. But it can also make food taste incredible. It can make music sound sublime. It can make things funnier than you realized.

The truth about cannabis (and yes, yes — it’s not all positive — so what; people abuse EVERYTHING including chocolate and love) is that it’s a perfectly good product that, used responsibly by adults, produces a host of positive effects. That was not the story Harry Anslinger told about it however. The thought of white people acting like black or brown people horrified Anslinger. He leapt into action.

There is absolutely no basis in our Constitution to outlaw cannabis. None. When Anslinger bumped into that problem, he circumvented the spirit of the law by pushing through the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Very cleverly, the Tax Act imposed an onorous tax on every purchase and every sale of marijuana or hemp. To prove that you paid the tax, you had to have a stamp. The stamps were impossible to get. Therefore, everyone who thereafter bought or sold marijuana (or hemp) was a tax cheat.

Anslinger, in addition to being a very good bureaucrat, was an astute purveyor of public relations. He knew that Americans were completely ignorant about marijuana. Anything they were going to know about it would be what he told them about it. And that’s where Anslinger’s lesson about how to manipulate the American Public leaps forward in time.

The first two men arrested and convicted because of marijuana were sent away for not paying taxes. I bet that made Al Capone laugh.

Harry Anslinger lied utterly and completely when he told Americans what cannabis was. AG Bill Barr lied utterly and completely when he told Americans what the Mueller Report says.

Anslinger’s lies about cannabis have cost this country dearly — in lost money, manpower and justice. When racism’s juice began to falter in the 1950’s, Anslinger invented the “Gateway Theory” to suggest that cannabis use led to heroin use or worse. The same statistical horse shit could be used to suggest a link between coffee drinking and heroin use. Or tobacco use and heroin. Or breathing and heroin. It was dishonest and intentional. And racist.

Bill Barr is working from the exact same playbook. We The People — having been fooled once by White Bamboozlement syndrome — need to avoid a sequel. Lies need to be shot down the instant they land among us. They don’t ever go away of their own volition.