Why Decency Effin’ Matters

Decency is now officially as dead as irony. That’s pretty damned dead. In American Politics, Decency died the day Lee Atwater went to work.

Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwate
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, young Republicans political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo by Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Lee Atwater’s the dude on the right — keeping company with Paul Manafort & Roger Stone.  During the 1980’s & 1990’s, Atwater ran campaigns for Ronald Reagan & George Bush before running the RNC.  Atwater didn’t invent dirty, malicious politics in America but he turned them from gamesmanship into brinkmanship.  He had no interest in compromise.  None.

Newt Gingrich picked up the mantle when cancer took a bite out of Atwater (though I bet cancer wished almost immediately it could spit Atwater out).

newt-gingrich

Newt turned Atwater’s political war against the Left into an all out Culture War.  We have not been the same since.

When you choose not to compromise with someone, you cease having to communicate with them  — except to tell them what you expect to DO to them.  It’s an aggressive act — cutting off effective communication with someone.  It’s a not-so-subtle declaration of War.  Culture War.  Political War.

It flows:  When you see yourself in a perpetual state of war, the people opposing you are your enemy — even if they’re your countrymen and they simply see a different way of solving the Nation’s many problems.  Decent people don’t see people they disagree with as their enemy deserving of cultural death.

But Newt did.  As did Lee.

Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — friends of Lee’s — went to work for Donald J Trump.  We all know where he stands vis a vis ‘decency’.

Another of Donald Trump’s mentors of course was Roy Cohn — another member of this despicable club.

And Roy Cohn famously worked for Joe McCarthy.  And Joe McCarthy famously got asked the very same question Donald Trump and the whole Republican Party need to be peppered with repeatedly:  “At last, sir, have you no DECENCY?”

If You Hate Donald J Trump, You Hate White, Christian Male Culture; There’s Hope For You…

Trump cos more trump

Let’s define our terms first: The reason we’re in this damned mess is that the republican party (uncapitalized because undeserving), seeing a great demographic Black Hole and Extinction in its future, deliberately and knowingly conspired with RUSSIA to seize power from the American Electorate in a soft Coup D’Etat.

Election 2016 was Illegitimate probably from Top to Bottom.

When I say ‘republican party’, of course, what I mean is ‘WHITE, CHRISTIAN MALE CULTURE’ — a ‘culture’ built almost entirely ON BULLSHIT.

White, Christian Male Culture (WCMC) believes that White People are superior to all other people on the planet, that White People are smarter, better looking, better suited to succeed, better athletes, better everything.  They believe White Music is better (ever hear a racist rail against jazz?).  White Literature (hilarious cos White People don’t read).  White Religion.

Especially White Religion.  White Religion sits at the core of White Male Culture — the belief not that ‘god’ is White but that each and every White Person is ‘GOD’ themselves and therefore omnipotent.  What they say goes.

Problem is, it doesn’t.  Because when White People enter an environment that isn’t just ‘Other White People’, they bump into something that disconcerts the hell out of them:  DIVERSITY.  They find they have to COMPETE with people who haven’t had to compete practically EVER.  At least not with people who weren’t White.

America is diverse and has always been diverse.  DIVERSITY is what makes America ‘EXCEPTIONAL’.  Diversity IS ‘American Exceptionalism’.  All other countries evolved over long periods of time with scattered tribes slowly coalescing into a National Tribe with distinct National ‘characteristics’.  The French ‘evolved’ into being French, the Germans into being Germans, the Swiss the Swiss, the English the English and so on.  In the 1500’s, if you were to step into any of what became those countries, the national character we now think of as those countries was already well-formed enough to be reflected in the historical record.

And, then, all those DIFFERENT national characters started arriving in a ‘Neutral Environment’ — America (made a whole lot more ‘neutral’ via ‘Guns, Germs & Steel’ (to borrow the title of Jared Diamond’s excellent book).  None of those peoples who arrived on these shores were ‘American’.  They became American by being here — while their Culture met (perhaps for the first time) and mingled with other Cultures and began to ‘cross-breed’ with them.

The result of all that cross-breeding is us — America — and all the dynamism and actual Greatness that flows from us.  We are The World mixed together.  We’re the lab for what happens genius from one culture meshes with genius from another culture to produce genius from a third (our) culture.

And it works.  God-damn, it WORKS!

That, apparently, gives WCMC a sad.  It makes it feel scared.  Threatened.  Unqualified.  It isn’t of course — WCMC is no better or worse than any other culture; it, too, has produced great things.  It just has the wrong idea of itself — it thinks it’s better than everyone; good thing that’s fixable.  Ask Germany.Cult

Donald Trump is the literal FACE of WCMC.  It is White-White-White-WHITE.  It is Christian — it does not believe a word of the faith it professes (having never read the actual texts their faith is based on) but claims to be among its most ardent followers.  It is Male — oh boy, is it Male; nothing makes it happier than waving its dick in your face or, worse, sticking it in you against your will because IT feels ENTITLED to.

So, yeah — Donald Trump IS White, Christian Male ‘Culture’.  If you voted for it?  You WILL deserve everything that befalls you.

Think of it as ‘getting cultured’.

My New MANTRA: “Back It Up — Or It’s BULLSHIT”

Bald-faced LYING has become a National Disease.  How could it not — we have a ‘president’ for whom lying is as natural as breathing.

But then, the party that backed and backs him has a long, ‘illustrious’ history themselves of setting the Truth aside in the interest of keeping Power and Making A Buck.

Our MSM shrugs and throws up its hands.  They KNOW that Donald Trump — and most of the Republican Party lie to them every time they open their mouths but what can they do?

It’s simple really.  You say, ‘No’.  You say, “Stop”.  You say ‘I refuse to accept your nonsense — STOP lying to me”.

Or you can go upside their lying heads with the 2X4 they deserve:  “BACK IT UP OR IT’S BULLSHIT”.

Nothing else.  “Back it up or it’s BULLSHIT”.  If people said that and only that back to republicans every time they even opened their mouths to speak (never mind lie) — they would quickly learn either to 1) BACK IT UP or 2) SHUT THE HELL UP.

I think we could get used to hearing silence from them.  Especially while we prosecute their asses for TREASON…

 

“I Alone Can Fix It” Is BULLSHIT Top To Bottom. Any Woman Could Tell You THAT…

Trump cos more trump

Among the statements Donald Trump has made that most reflect a personal ‘philosophy’ is that one:  “I alone can fix it”.

And it epitomizes not only NARCISSISTIC ‘thinking’ but MALE thinking, too.  In fact, it IS how males tend to think and problem-solve — unilaterally.

If you look at the mythological heroes we Americans have created for ourselves (real, quasi-real & flat-out fictional) —  Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Paul Bunyan, Uncle Sam (just for starters) — they’re all ‘rugged individuals’ — solitary males taking the ‘burdens of the world’ onto their strong, sure shoulders.  They don’t run for a ‘second opinion’ when things get tough, they step up, man up, and ‘do it’ (whatever ‘it’ is).

And we, as a Nation, have celebrated that ideal — regardless of how bullshitty it actually is.  Dictatorships rely on unilateral decision-making.  Successful countries however do not.  If we measure ‘success’ by happiness of a population, America doesn’t score too terribly well.  Places like Denmark & Sweden are far, far happier.

We may be ‘wealthier’ in that ‘we’ have ‘more money’ in our pockets, but that ‘we’ is actually a very small club (and getting smaller).  Most of the actual ‘WE’ (as in We The American People’) have LESS money now — and a lot less certainty about our future.

It is entirely male to focus so exclusively on the rights of the individual over the rights of the group.  The individuals those males are so worried about — they’re all male, too.  And their idea of ‘freedom’ is to do whatever they goddamn well please — regardless of who it hurts, inconveniences, disadvantages or impregnates.

As much as we like to flatter ourselves that we’re here for some ‘higher purpose’, our biology says we’re here for ONE purpose: To survive long enough to reproduce — to spread our genetics — before we die.  That’s what we’re really ‘designed’ to do.  For men, that reproductive role involves sticking our penises into a vagina and squirting out our DNA.  Once we finish and withdraw — our real purpose in life having been accomplished — males are free to walk away.

And they almost always do.

Women, on the other hand, must deal with the consequences of that male DNA furiously swimming upstream inside them.  Should a sperm survive and make it inside the egg that (could be) waiting there?  That starts a process that — if it comes to completion and produces a human child (one that can survive OUTSIDE A UTERUS) — cannot be handled alone.

Female biology demands group involvement just to survive.  And that informs everything women do.  Survival depends upon the group — and therefore what helps & benefits THE GROUP must take precedence over the needs of any one person.  Because if THE GROUP dies, they all die.

When your attachment to The Group dictates your thinking & decision-making, you don’t see yourself as an individual (rugged or otherwise) but as a member of The Group — and your success as a member of the group will depend entirely on your ability to WORK WITH & WITHIN the Group.  Consequently, you think differently than someone (a man) who ‘alone can fix it’.

Unilateral male decision-making has brought us to this terrible place:  “I alone can screw this up’.

The surge of women into American politics is long, long overdue.  They will change the entire political culture — because they think differently than the men who drove American Political Culture into the ground.

Gentlemen — hand over the keys.  The Women are driving now — and you don’t want to piss them off any more than they already are.

Sometimes, It’s BEST To ‘Think Like’ A STORYTELLER…

If you want to have a shot at being a successful storyteller, you need to have a better grasp of how people actually tick than most other people.

Storytellers who don’t get human beings right are soon employed doing other things — storytelling being out of their range.

As any reader or audience member can tell you:  The instant a character behaves out-of-character?  The game’s over and the reader or audience member has already turned on you, hating you for wasting their time.

So storyteller HAVE TO get people right or they won’t be storytellers for long.

If you bore in on the PEOPLE in THIS story — who they really are, why they really do the awful things they do — it’s not hard at all to figure out what’s going on here.

Vladimir Putin isn’t a mystery.  He’s a professional spy — a SPY MASTER in fact, a conservative with a religious streak in him a mile wide.  What he WANTS isn’t a mystery either: He wants to restore Greater Russia to a place of ‘prominence’ and power.  Putin also wants more money (cos, apparently, he’s not nearly rich enough).

And Putin wants Russia to be a player.

Donald Trump isn’t a normal president, he’s an abomination.  He’s a liar.  He’s a TRAITOR and a thief.

Donald Trump’s family aren’t normal either.  They’re all corrupt.

Mitch McConnell & Paul Ryan aren’t patriots, they’re POISON.

 

As any storyteller will ‘tell you’ — real human beings almost never do whatever they do ‘just because’ or ‘for no reason’.  They may lie about why — even to themselves — but there is almost always a very real ‘WHY’ — and if you can bore down to that, you will understand virtually EVERYTHING there is TO understand about that character.

The natural progression from understanding how a character REALLY works is to see how they ACT & REACT while being part of a story.  Are they the protagonist or the antagonist?  Is the story theirs or someone else’s?  Or is this a story that will ‘become’ theirs as it gets told?

The process of telling a story is the process of revealing who a person or a group of people really are.  The whole point of telling a story is to follow a character arc that describes in incredible detail who a person really is — and why they really do what they do.

If the storyteller flubs any of those details, they’ll hear about it.  Audiences’s are just as attuned to how people really are as the storytellers; they want storytellers to remind them how people are, to reveal them in interesting new ways that play with storytelling conventions.  They want to see the world as they understand it — albeit with a few twists that expand their understanding of people and the world.

That’s what too many of our Journalists — storytellers all — continue to get terribly wrong.  They refuse to see all the characters in this piece for who they really are — falling into the trap of trying to describe non-normal characters in ‘normal’ terms instead.  The audience is starting to get antsy though…

We know the MSM storytellers are missing it right now.  They keep insisting on story elements and character details that just don’t ring true.  Because they don’t describe people (and characters) as we KNOW them.

 

The story of Donald Trump, the Republican Party & Election 2016 is only just beginning to get told correctly — with the perspective it demands.

Massive, Big stories are more complex, have more diverse characters with more diverse reasons for doing what they do.  It’s why hewing to storytelling basics are essential.  WHO are we talking about?  WHAT do they really want to accomplish within the context of both the larger story & the smaller one?  And, most importantly — WHY?

The Truth is, we already know WHY Donald Trump has done what he’s done.  He’s a narcissist and a fool.  He’s an egomaniac and a phony.  He’s a danger to everything we hold dear.

He’s the second worst thing to ever happen to America.  How he came to hold the reins of power in his tiny, orange hands — THAT’S the REAL story of our time…

What Tribalism IS & ISN’T

Our illustrious, observant MSM points out a lot these days how TRIBAL we’ve all become (and how ‘it’s both sides’ fault that we HAVE become so tribal).

As I’m fond of saying on these pages here, if you start from a place of BULLSHIT, you will only ever see BULLSHIT in front of you.  And THAT is top shelf, Grade AAA BULLSHIT.

No, both sides don’t do it.  Both sides are tribal and experience tribalism but not all tribalism is created equal.

Allow me to throw down a metaphor to illustrate:  In my time I have been an ardent Lakers Fan.  During the Kobe Bryant Championship Years, my friends loved to watch the playoff games with me at my house because regardless of how entertaining (or not entertaining) the game itself might be — I was going to put on one hell of a show.  I’m passionate.  At the time, I lived and breathed Lakers.  There were Angelenos who shared my passion and Angelenos who didn’t give a shit and even Angelenos who supported that ‘other’ LA team — the Clippers (and this was during the Donald Sterling ownership days so the Clippers were easy to hate though they were perennial underdogs).

If a tragedy had befallen Los Angeles back then — an earthquake, say (we get those here) — my intense Lakers Tribalism would have been subsumed into Being An Angeleno.  My larger tribe would have taken precedence over my smaller, more local ‘allegiance’.  Logic (and survival instinct) would have dictated it.

Tribalism is natural to any sentient being who sees companionship in another sentient being.  What happens when you add a THIRD sentient being to the mix — that’s what determines how the future tribes in that grouping will play out.  Unless, of course, both sentient beings — and then their third — are all EXACTLY ALIKE.  If THAT’S the case then we’re talking less ‘a tribe’ and more ‘automatons’.  Or maybe just a ‘Tribe’ of ‘Automatons’

Republicans.

Because we live in a ‘Both Sides Do It’ media culture, the assumption is that BOTH KINDS OF ‘TRIBALISM’ ARE EXACTLY ALIKE.  But are they?  Let’s compare —

REPUBLICAN TRIBALISM:  Makeup of Tribe: White, Christian Men principally.  The tribe’s rules & regs are designed to keep White, Christian Male Culture front and center — to keep it as THE DOMINANT CULTURE regardless of the fact that it no longer represents THE MAJORITY of the people in the culture.  In other words, Republican Tribalism seems bent on imposing ITS dying, no longer relevant, completely EXCLUSIVE culture onto the LARGER Culture.

DEMOCRATIC TRIBALISM:  Makeup of Tribe:  Everyone Else.  White, black, brown, Asian, Native American, male, female, LGBTQ, rich, poor, American or willing-to-risk-your-life-to-BECOME-an-American.

When your ‘TRIBE’ is everyone who ISN’T WHITE, CHRISTIAN, MALE?  It means YOUR ‘tribalism’ isn’t quite the same as THE WHITE GUY’S ‘tribalism’.

If DIVERSITY is a ‘tribe’?  Include me in its numbers.  More importantly, where do I send my check so I can get my ‘Membership Card’?

 

 

Dear American News Media: Telling A Story Is Like ‘CLIMBING’ A Mountain – Not Just ‘LOOKING’ At One…

Mountains impress.  They wow you with their existence, their enormity, their majesty, their size.  On the one hand you want to revere it like a sentient creature, on the other, you want to climb it — not so much to master it as just to look it directly in the eye.

You want the mountain to know that you understand how to ‘tell ITS story’…

Because mountains are so big, to climb them, you have to prepare — get in shape, get the right gear — and (here’s the really important part) CHOOSE A PATH.  With a lot of mountains, attacking it directly — climbing straight up — will not work out well (no matter how experienced you are and how much your equipment cost).

So, the experienced mountain climber — having considered all the climbing conditions (which means they’ve familiarized themselves with every bit of the mountain — top to bottom) — will scope out and then plan for a particular ‘line of attack’ that will get them to the top safely and efficiently.

And then there are ‘tourists’ who love to look at mountains from afar.  The view is incredible — ‘comprehensive’ and complete in that we ‘see’ the whole mountain.  We know its shape and size and general ‘affability’ in the sunlight.

It looks ‘approachable’.

swiss-alps-day-trip-from

It’s not.  The picture doesn’t tell you anything specifically about ALTITUDE other than there might be some.  If you’re there, ON the mountain?  That unseen force will dictate a lot of your feelings about the mountain.  Distances, too (from this distance) get distorted; a lateral move across the mountain’s face that looks ‘relatively straightforward’ from way, way, way back here is nowhere near that straightforward when you’re actually clinging to the mountain’s icy face…

That wide shot of the mountain is lovely.  But it doesn’t actually convey a whole lot about the mountain.

 

The first time a story comes over you — over me anyway — there’s a rush of ‘awe’.  It is very much like the feeling I get when driving, say, up the PCH in Big Sur and you see THIS around every curve —

It can stagger you with its Big Picture Awesomeness.  And you could lose yourself forever in any number of its Small Picture Details.

But for all any story’s beauty — or absurdity — or tragedy — you cannot tell it from miles away.  You have to GET INSIDE IT in order to report it.  But (and here’s where the MSM falls down 90% of the time) — You have to report it from inside while always keeping THE WIDE SHOT in your mind’s eye.  You have to see every bit of detail in its larger context — The Big Picture.

And then you have to remind yourself constantly:  What COMPELLED you to tell THIS story in the first place?

When you find your way atop a story — when you look it in the eye and know you found the best possible way to ‘tell it’, there’s always one last challenge awaiting you…

valleeblanche

frenchalps-thumb

How the hell do you get down?