At The End Of The Day, This Is A Story About Treason

The Republican Party is no longer behaving like a political party; they’re behaving like criminals with a political purpose: permanent minority rule. Make no mistake, the white people behind this are an extreme minority of white people but they are attempting to cage a diverse and woke majority. This will fail — and fail horribly for the perps — because they’ve crossed so many lines to get us here to this moment of crisis. What Texas Republicans just did to Roe v Wade — and every woman in America — crossed a thousand lines all in one fell swoop. Whatever else happens in 2022, Democratic engagement will not disengage or let up; you can’t TAKE AWAY rights (especially when you do it so dishonestly) and get away with it. You just can’t; America’s women simply won’t let the GOP do it to them. And, we have to remember: the entire abortion argument itself is a cynical repurposing of racism (just like the Republican Party’s perverse engagement with Russia — going back to before Trump was even nominated — was a cynical decision to collaborate with our literal enemy — during war time — in order to seize power). None of that is hyperbole. It all actually happened — is happening still.

The Republican Party stands outside the law now — defiantly — because they know the truth will NOT set them free. The Truth — once the American People learn it — will send almost the entire Republican Party to federal prison. That’s not hyperbole either — at least it shouldn’t be. Any country that allows insurrectionists, seditionists or traitors to get away with it won’t be a country for very much longer. If we don’t punish people bent on destroying our democracy, we are telling those people “better luck next time”; and we’ve guaranteed there will be a next time. One could argue that one of the reasons a Donald Trump could happen is because we never punished Richard Nixon. Sure, we punished many of those around him, but we never punished “Nixonism” — that particularly vile Republican belief that “if the president does it, it’s not illegal”.

That was the takeaway for Nixonians Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater. Because Nixon “got away with it” (having to quit was not a punishment, it was a requirement), it invited the low level perps to begin plotting anew.

Conservatism in America is tied to whiteness because that’s what white conservatives want to conserve — America’s “whiteness”. America, as I’ve written before, remains a great idea poorly executed. Either “All men are created equal” actually means “everybody is created equal under the law” or we’re doing it wrong. The reason conservatives love originalism is because originalism wants us to believe that we should understand “All men are created equal” only the way the “founding fathers” understood it. Pretty convenient, huh?

The Southern states built their entire economy on the back of slave labor. Slave labor, above all, is STOLEN labor. While plantation owners had to bear the cost of housing, feeding and clothing their slaves (the cost of doing slave business), obviously that cost pennies compared to paying agricultural labor a fair wage. That, really, is the south’s argument. They couldn’t have existed economically without stolen labor. Slavery fed into the bullshit notion that “All men are created equal” meant only white men. It was a kind of bookkeeping trick to call slaves three-fifths of a man; it also deliberately undermined their humanity. It’s much easier to buy and sell human beings when you don’t see them as human.

At some point, as the Reagan years waned, the right wing money saw the demographic handwriting on the wall. America was diversifying more rapidly than white people were making white babies. While white people were reliable Republican voters, the same couldn’t be said of most non-whites. Democracy, ultimately, is a numbers game. The majority gets its way — except when they don’t. That’s what Republicans figured out as a survival instinct. The current GOP — though they share a name with The Party Of Lincoln, aren’t that party. I refer you to Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party” to set you straight on that. Nixon cemented the swap when he incorporated the Dixiecrats into the Republican Party as his “southern strategy”. The Dixiecrats were all racist southern Democrats — leftovers from a Democratic Party that opposed Lincoln. In point of fact, in terms of their stated ideals, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have completely swapped names and places since Lincoln was POTUS.

When Teddy Roosevelt left the Republican Party, all vestiges of progressivism went with him. The GOP quickly became the party of big business instead of big ideas. The extreme corruption of a Warren Harding erupted like Teapot Dome oil, spattering everything with its rot. That preference for profits over people persists because profits equal power.

Newt Gingrich understood that the majority of Americans were evolving into a more cohesive, diverse nation. He couldn’t tolerate that because of the political and power implications and so declared a culture war aimed at “the left”. If you consider that when more Americans vote they vote against Republicans? Newt really directed his culture war at the majority of Americans (per McKay Coppins in the Atlantic in November 2018) : “For their party to succeed, Gingrich went on, the next generation of Republicans would have to learn to “raise hell,” to stop being so “nice,” to realize that politics was, above all, a cutthroat “war for power”—and to start acting like it.”

“A cutthroat war for power”. Sound horrifyingly familiar? Yeah — the phone call IS coming from inside the house!

We have to ask: what were Republicans willing to do to wage that cutthroat war for power? Were they willing to cheat? Were they willing to lie to the American electorate? Were they willing to commit treason even?

Obviously the answer to all three questions is yes. That’s why we’re here. It started “innocently enough” with mere voter suppression — poll taxes and intimidation to keep Black voters from voting. While both sides have gerrymandered, only the Republicans have needed to as a matter of survival. Gerrymandering’s whole point is to draw district lines in such a way so as to circumvent the will of the majority by giving a minority undue power. In Wisconsin, for example, gerrymandered districts mean “Democrats need to out-perform the GOP by closer to 9 or 10 points statewide to have a good shot at winning an Assembly majority” — even though they are the majority of voters in Wisconsin! When is a majority not a majority? When a minority gets to control them.

As for lying to the American electorate — what else can we call a political party attempting to re-cast an insurrection as a heroic act of patriotism? Sorry, Republicans, but you can sharpie “patriotism” all over what happened on January 6. What happened that day was a massive crime that we’ve only just begun to prosecute (starting at the bottom where every good Rico prosecution should begin).

Allying with Russia — now, that was an innovation. That was the Republican Party thinking “outside the box”. I’m willing to accept that plenty of professional Republicans — Lindsey Graham, for example — were every bit as “anti-Trump” as guys like Lindsey Graham said they were —

And yet, like Lindsey, these anti-Trumpers became the most pro-Trump. In a corrupt environment when you know (from experience) that the Republican-owned electronic voting machine makers can be relied upon for help (in the form of ballot padding), it doesn’t pass the smell test that long-time pros like Lindsey really worry about voters. Lindsey didn’t suddenly become pro-Trump because he suddenly saw the light. If Lindsey saw anything, it was more likely the Kompromat Russia was holding. I do not know for certain if Lindsey has any sexual peccadilloes that a hostile, kompromat-loving foreign power could exploit, but I would bet cash money that Lindsey does and Russia has.

We know — because the Washington Post reported it — that current GOP leader Kevin McCarthy himself KNEW (okay, to be fair, he “suspected”) that Russia had compromised Donald Trump. As he entered a meeting of GOP leadership in June 2016 (a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be POTUS), Kevin said out loud (it was recorded and the Post reporter heard the recording) “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Strangely, no one in the room reacted with horror. No one said “Whaaaat? Kevin, dude, are you sure about that?” No one called the FBI to voice their concerns.

Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan counseled his fellow Republicans to keep this terrible secret a secret. “That’s how we know we’re family”, is how he put it. I guess by “family, Ryan meant “mafia family”.

While this was happening, Russia was flooding the GOP with money. They used the NRA (and their very talented agent Maria Buttina). They poured money into Republican PACS using various means (including Russian retirees living in America whose monthly benefits from Russia suddenly increased significantly). That money went to Republican candidates. And, as we also know, Russia also was working very hard behind the scenes to undermine America’s faith not just in our democracy but in the truth itself.Let’s add one more element to this mix: the news media’s inability to see, understand or report the true nature of Donald Trump’s takeover of the GOP. That happened (is still happening) because the news media — for reasons we’ll have to investigate — refuses to aggregate the Trump story. They refuse to even speak the truth about him which is weird because so much of the truth about Trump is already in the public domain. Remember Fusion GPS — the company that got hired by the Washington Free Beacon’s owners during the 2016 Republican primaries (they were Marco Rubio supporters) — to do oppo research on Trump? When he testified before Congress about how and why Fusion hired Chris Steele to look into Trump’s Russia connections, Fusion’s co-founder Glenn Simpson explained how they began the assignment by doing their due diligence.

Fusion, Simpson testified, got ahold of every piece of publicly available material they could on Trump — newspaper and magazine articles, radio and TV appearances, books and legal documents. What they saw there — in information ANYONE could put together — convinced them that Trump had been laundering Russian mob money in his now bankrupt Atlantic City casinos. THAT was why they hired Steele — he had the best Russian contacts of anyone outside Russia, having run the MI6’s respected Russia desk. Steele’s dossier was raw intel and needed to be understood as such — something far beyond our news media’s capabilities. Still, even that raw intel painted a vivid picture of Russian intelligence planting their hooks deeply into Donald J. Trump.

It’s no wonder the Republicans have obstructed justice every way they could to shield Trump’s relationship with Russia from any real examination. The second any sort of real investigation begins — like the counter intelligence investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia that Rod Rosenstein killed — we see patterns of obstructive behavior exclusively from Republicans. It doesn’t take a weatherman to see which way this wind’s blowing. The Republicans may not have started out bent on betraying America, but they did — and they knew, as they were doing it, WHAT they were doing it — and why.

Regardless of what you call it, Russia has been actively engaged with us in cyber war for a long time with a stated intention to undermine liberal democracies — NATO in particular — as a doctrinal goal. This is not make-believe war. People have died. Democratic countries have seen their democracies undermined (which means the war’s objectives are being met). Considering what cyber war costs compared to a bombs n bullets war, Russia is getting way more bang for its buck this way. No wonder they’re waging cyber war (information war, if you like) so vociferously.

Anyone who thinks you need bombs and bullets to win a war any more is going to lose every war they fight going forward into the future. Bombs and bullets aren’t terribly effective anyway against insurgent combatants — as Afghanistan proved. And as to cyber war’s undeclared nature? That’s one of its great advantages — the cyber warrior can wage cyber war against an opponent who doesn’t realize he’s at war. The cyber war’s victim may realize she’s being attacked but — if she doesn’t see the larger war coming at her? That war’s already over and she lost it badly. If Russia were to shut down our electrical grid tomorrow, we’d sue for peace — as the losers.

Treason doesn’t require a state of war. It requires that the traitor attempt to overthrow the government. That is now the Republican Party’s avowed purpose. To overthrow the results of a free and fair election because you don’t like the results (having lost), is an act of treason because elections are the life blood of any democracy. If the people betraying our democracy weren’t white people, we would have criminalized this behavior eons ago.

That’s the final tell. Ours isn’t just a story about treason, it’s about the thing that motivated the treasonous behavior. That, unequivocally, was and is racism.

As Texas’ New Abortion Ban Proves, Right Wing Religionistas Don’t Believe IN God, They Believe They ARE God

No words are more darkly ironic than “pro-life” when seen through the lens of American politics. It’s kinda like the southern states claiming — after the Civil War — that the whole thing was an argument over states’ rights rather than what it WAS an argument over, slavery. The Confederacy still lives, having lost the war but won the peace that followed. They literally rewrote history right in front of us. The most vehemently pro-life also are the most vehement when it comes to denying living, breathing people an iota of human sympathy. These institutionalist Christians have perverted “Do unto others” into “Do what I say — or else”. Not an ounce of Jesus in it. That’s because Jesus wouldn’t recognize the sentiments behind it. He was born a Jew, lived his whole life as a Jew and died a Jew, only ever preaching to other Jews about subjects Jews understood and non-Jews didn’t. His biggest teaching (aside from reminding his fellow Jews that they’re all obligated by “Tikkun Olam” — the responsibility to make the world a better place for having been in it; “Do unto others” is the genius ad slogan for that very human ideal — is anti-corruption. He taught that one doesn’t need a temple or its corrupt priests in order to talk to God. All one had to do is talk to him .

Jesus did not invent Christianity, Paul did — and Paul deserves most of the credit for modifying some old Jewish ideas into a new religion which offered its believers (gentiles with no knowledge of these old Jewish ideas) a way to beat death. If Jesus could do it, so could his followers. All one had to do, the early church said (as it slowly figured itself out) was believe in the Jesus story the way the church wanted you to — to the letter. Do that and, the church promised, just like Jesus, you would “rise from the dead” like Lazarus and live forever in a magical after-life filled with nothing but goodness and all your loved ones. To a world where polytheistic gods had little real impact on human lives — and really didn’t give a toss about humans — a monotheistic deity that cared about them personally was a revelation and a radical, new idea. That this deity could also give you immortality of a kind? It’s genius! But, that it’s still with us is, my opinion, more a testament to the underlying desire not to die than it is to the “truthfulness” of the dogma that gets a believer there.

Who gets to control life and death? Why, God does of course because that’s what God does. The fact that God — a being powerful enough to create literally everything — can’t put that simple idea into literally every human’s head (because aren’t facts facts?) gets tossed down the “free will” rabbit hole. The same institution that invented the idea of “free will” also insisted that the earth was the center of all creation until pretty much now. I’d stick a giant-sized pin in the institution’s hold on reality.

The history of the church itself — of any church — is a proof that the institution itself (and those running it) think THEY are God. Hey, why do you think God talks to them and not to regular people? Because they’re special, don’t ya know. They hear God better than the rest of us. They “understand” what he wants from all of us, but more specifically from them. God wants them to be the tip of his spear. His enforcer. His spokesperson. His raw intent.

Texas took a clever tack to get their law this far. They made all the peril civil. Now, literally ANYONE from anywhere in America can sue anyone they even suspect of helping a woman get an abortion in Texas. They’ve put a $10,000 bounty on literally everyone in Texas who doesn’t answer the accusation. Don’t appear for the shit show cos it’s a shit show? You lose. The fix is built right in. It’s a way for EVERYONE to play God with the bodies of any woman seeking or needing an abortion in Texas. And — count on this — the point of the exercise is to “lead the way” for other “pro-lifers” who think they’re God to force their Godness upon other people.

Personally, I blame monotheism. This kind of egomaniacal free association with the self as deity is baked right in to the architecture. Ask ten sincere theists what “God” is and you will get ten different answers. That’s not a function of the fluidity of God, that’s a function of the fluidity of the CONCEPT of God. It’s the “Get Out Of Logic Jail Free” card that religionistas always have up their sleeve. Magical thinking and their feelings will trump everything — especially facts.

Hey, when you’re God, you get to say what’s a fact and what isn’t. And, in Texas, you get to decide between life and death.

Dear CNN & MSNBC: Your Problem Is Simple — You Suck At FRAMING

How you tell a story is almost as important as the story itself.

The moment you fade in on your narrative, you frame it. You establish a point of view — even if its strict neutrality. And strict neutrality is rarely as neutral as it thinks it is. That, too, is a framing problem.

If you report a lie — without framing it as a lie — it’s perceived as the truth. When you sit a climate scientist next to a climate denier on a set and shoot them 50-50, you’re framing their conversation as a 50-50 — literally. The visual language says these two points of view are being represented on the screen in their proportional likelihood of truthfulness. At 50-50 — to judge by the framing — either could be right.

Quick side note, CNN & MSNBC — A more truthful, accurate screen representation would have the climate scientist occupying 99% of the screen and the denier getting roughly 1% — not because what he’s saying is 1% valid but for shits n giggles. I want to experience a climate denier shouting (at 1% of the audio mix too) into the wind as the wind devours them. See? I just framed a cruel streak in myself. I like to mock stupid people. And I think people who frame things badly are stupid.

Every time the Main Stream Media tell a story that’s framed incorrectly, they lead us further astray — and further down the authoritarian rabbit hole. The whole point of making the Truth hard to know starts with FRAMING IT THAT WAY. By “framing” the Truth as “hard to know”, those unwilling to question that assertion will now accept as truth that the Truth is beyond them. And all it took to get there was dishonest framing.

If you frame abortion as “baby-killing”, you’re framing it dishonestly. If you frame hunting as “sport”, you’re framing it dishonestly (you’re murdering animals for fun — admit it — the animal would tell you that’s what’s happening). If you frame

The fact that Donald Trump became president and is still president is a failure of framing. The CORRECT framing of Donald Trump was obvious the moment he rode down that escalator in that whorehouse of a building of his and announced that Mexicans are rapists. Trump framed himself as a racist. A few days later we heard him frame himself as a rapist, too, whose wealth apparently gave him permission to sexually assault women at will. Donald Trump framed himself as a criminal every time he bankrupted a casino. Everyone with a brain knew he’d been laundering money for the Russian mob. The proper frame for Donald Trump has always been a “thing”.

And yet… Our news media framed Trump differently. They stuck racism and bigotry and rapey behavior IN the frame (in a corner) but they didn’t use them to FRAME the way THEY were “telling” Donald Trump. In spite of the honest way Trump himself was framing himself, the media insisted on framing Trump as the imaginary character that had been created for him by Mark Burnett so as to make “The Apprentice” make sense.

As we now know, The Art Of The Deal wasn’t just utter bullshit, it was the utterest bullshit. While Trump was putting his name on Tony Schwartz’s writing, he was on his way to losing 1.7 billion dollars. A more honest framing of the book would have been The Art Of Near Total Failure.

I just wrote the last installment of a series called Blunt Truths for Weedmaps news — about the true story of cannabis prohibition. Yes — it was racism start to finish. But the way Harry Anslinger — America’s first Commissioner of Narcotics used racism to frame cannabis was a stroke of dark public relations genius that’s still haunting us. Even as cannabis is legalized, it’s still drenched in the bullshit mythology Anslinger created for it. We still frame cannabis from the point of view of a racist lie.

Every time a Hallie Jackson or an Alex Witt or a Chris Matthews goes to commercial with a tease that asks “Was the FBI SPYING on the Trump Campaign?” they’re literally FRAMING the story from THE CRIMINAL’S POINT OF VIEW. Think about it. The FBI wasn’t spying, they were carrying out a legitimate counter-intelligence investigation because good, solid evidence fairly shouted that Trump was owned by the Russians — but MSNBC is still FRAMING the story as SPYING because that’s what the subject of the investigation — the guy owned by the Russians — calls it.

It’s ludicrous. It happens every damned day.

Terrible framing is why so many of us remain in a constant stage of agita. We expect the Fourth Estate — as part of its Constitutionally mandated responsibility — to be the final check on power. To do that, they need to acknowledge that indeed that IS their responsibility.

I bet if they framed it that way to themselves, they’d get better at their jobs immediately.

Dear CNN & MSNBC: Your Problem Is Simple — You Suck At FRAMING

How you tell a story is almost as important as the story itself.

The moment you fade in on your narrative, you frame it. You establish a point of view — even if its strict neutrality. And strict neutrality is rarely as neutral as it thinks it is. That, too, is a framing problem.

If you report a lie — without framing it as a lie — it’s perceived as the truth. When you sit a climate scientist next to a climate denier on a set and shoot them 50-50, you’re framing their conversation as a 50-50 — literally. The visual language says these two points of view are being represented on the screen in their proportional likelihood of truthfulness. At 50-50 — to judge by the framing — either could be right.

Quick side note, CNN & MSNBC — A more truthful, accurate screen representation would have the climate scientist occupying 99% of the screen and the denier getting roughly 1% — not because what he’s saying is 1% valid but for shits n giggles. I want to experience a climate denier shouting (at 1% of the audio mix too) into the wind as the wind devours them. See? I just framed a cruel streak in myself. I like to mock stupid people. And I think people who frame things badly are stupid.

Every time the Main Stream Media tell a story that’s framed incorrectly, they lead us further astray — and further down the authoritarian rabbit hole. The whole point of making the Truth hard to know starts with FRAMING IT THAT WAY. By “framing” the Truth as “hard to know”, those unwilling to question that assertion will now accept as truth that the Truth is beyond them. And all it took to get there was dishonest framing.

If you frame abortion as “baby-killing”, you’re framing it dishonestly. If you frame hunting as “sport”, you’re framing it dishonestly (you’re murdering animals for fun — admit it — the animal would tell you that’s what’s happening). If you frame

The fact that Donald Trump became president and is still president is a failure of framing. The CORRECT framing of Donald Trump was obvious the moment he rode down that escalator in that whorehouse of a building of his and announced that Mexicans are rapists. Trump framed himself as a racist. A few days later we heard him frame himself as a rapist, too, whose wealth apparently gave him permission to sexually assault women at will. Donald Trump framed himself as a criminal every time he bankrupted a casino. Everyone with a brain knew he’d been laundering money for the Russian mob. The proper frame for Donald Trump has always been a “thing”.

And yet… Our news media framed Trump differently. They stuck racism and bigotry and rapey behavior IN the frame (in a corner) but they didn’t use them to FRAME the way THEY were “telling” Donald Trump. In spite of the honest way Trump himself was framing himself, the media insisted on framing Trump as the imaginary character that had been created for him by Mark Burnett so as to make “The Apprentice” make sense.

As we now know, The Art Of The Deal wasn’t just utter bullshit, it was the utterest bullshit. While Trump was putting his name on Tony Schwartz’s writing, he was on his way to losing 1.7 billion dollars. A more honest framing of the book would have been The Art Of Near Total Failure.

I just wrote the last installment of a series called Blunt Truths for Weedmaps news — about the true story of cannabis prohibition. Yes — it was racism start to finish. But the way Harry Anslinger — America’s first Commissioner of Narcotics used racism to frame cannabis was a stroke of dark public relations genius that’s still haunting us. Even as cannabis is legalized, it’s still drenched in the bullshit mythology Anslinger created for it. We still frame cannabis from the point of view of a racist lie.

Every time a Hallie Jackson or an Alex Witt or a Chris Matthews goes to commercial with a tease that asks “Was the FBI SPYING on the Trump Campaign?” they’re literally FRAMING the story from THE CRIMINAL’S POINT OF VIEW. Think about it. The FBI wasn’t spying, they were carrying out a legitimate counter-intelligence investigation because good, solid evidence fairly shouted that Trump was owned by the Russians — but MSNBC is still FRAMING the story as SPYING because that’s what the subject of the investigation — the guy owned by the Russians — calls it.

It’s ludicrous. It happens every damned day.

Terrible framing is why so many of us remain in a constant stage of agita. We expect the Fourth Estate — as part of its Constitutionally mandated responsibility — to be the final check on power. To do that, they need to acknowledge that indeed that IS their responsibility.

I bet if they framed it that way to themselves, they’d get better at their jobs immediately.