Slavery Sucks. All Forms Of Slavery, That Is — Including The “Subtle” Ones…

Slavery has been a thing homo sapiens do (we don’t know if any other human species did it) since we figured out we could force someone else to work for free. Slavery, in its essence, is stolen labor.

Yes, it’s a stolen life. But, from the point of view of the enslaver, the goal is to steal the labor above all. You can’t steal too much food or sleep — the slave will die. The only other cost basis for a slave is output — work. Take away the raw costs of feeding, clothing and housing the slave, the profit derived from another human (other than their raw materials) is their work. Slavery wants THAT for free.

But there are other forms of slavery where, in essence, a free person gives away their “work” to the person (or organization) who will absolutely enslave them. Employers do it with the contracts they force employees to sign. Credit card companies do it — so do time share companies and gyms. America does it with the way we handle health care (how many people stay in jobs they hate just because they need the employer-provided health care?) Religions do it especially. If you want to belong, you have to surrender your reason and free thinking. Those will only “un-enslave” you from the slaver’s point of view.

About ten seconds of listening to any Trumpanista or republican defend the indefensible tells you — this person is a slave. They have surrendered all freedom of thought to a “thing”. To a person. They are as shackled to their ignorance as any slave ever was.

Except the real slave yearns to be free.

And that’s the difference — between people who’ve been enslaved and people who actually WANT to be slaves.

Ignorance is slavery.

Blind faith is slavery.

Personality of Cult is slavery.

Political indoctrination is slavery.

Trumpism is slavery.

I’ll toss in one more — for the Media’s sake — “Both Sides Do It” is slavery (okay — a lesser variety — but it IS a distinct sub-set of Ignorance). Both Sides Do It is lazy thinking that false equivalences things that do not in fact equal each other (like climate science and climate science denial — two points of view, not at all the same in their truthfullness). “Both Sides Do It” is soft slavery for the Media but hard slavery for the American Public — who continue to be enslaved by the RESULTS of the larger ignorance.

I trust I don’t have to explain all that to free people.

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How Failure Of Imagination Kills…

When the forensics get done on our Time — and the Big Question gets asked — “How in the world did Americans let such an obvious criminal & traitor 1) get elected & 2) remain in power so long?

The answer will complicated with lots of moving parts (requiring actual calculus to figure out). One of the biggest moving parts will be the Republican Party itself and the monstrosity of its actions here. But the fact that they were complicit — in ways that even predated Trump’s takeover of their party (think Mitch McConnell & his refusal to even talk to Merrick Garland) goes right back to the heart of my premise. We “didn’t see it”.

In real time, Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans did something no other Senate had ever done before — held a President’s SCOTUS pick hostage. Mitch’s excuse was so phony it should have physically hurt every ear that heard it. It was Bullshit On Steroids: “The American People should get to decide who the next SCOTUS judge is”. The American People in that equation are the ones who VOTED FOR BARACK OBAMA and made him POTUS — the guy charged with doing that very thing.

Yet here we are. No Merrick Garland. Neil Gorsuch instead. Funny how the rules work when you make em up as you go along — AND GET AWAY WITH IT.

With all this press going at this story like sperms going at an egg — you’d think someone would have gotten through already and “fertilized” that egg. And yet — with a mountain RANGE of evidence staring them in the face, the Press seems blind to it. It’s there — they kinda know it is — and yet they can’t bring themselves to go and report it. It’s like they just can’t “trust” themselves and what they’re thinking. What they “know”.

This is how “FAILURE OF IMAGINATION” works. Under normal circumstances where everything’s normal — failing to think with imagination won’t hurt you (not much anyway). You can always muddle along in your mediocrity enjoying the status quo until you don’t.

But this here ain’t “normal”. Not even remotely. Gawd, I hope that’s not a revelation. Laws weren’t written to deal with our particular situation. This wasn’t “imagined” by the Constitution’s framers — a flat out treasonous POTUS and the flat out treasonous political party supporting him (the framers didn’t even want political parties; they happened because we’re human and tribal by nature). See how our problem is “outside the box”?

The solution to our problem will have to come from “outside the box” too. Part of our problem is — the criminals are using our rules to undermine them — as part of the whole Cyber War they’ve been waging against us as we sleep. We’re miles behind — in large part because we’ve been so damned slow to SEE what was happening.

Not slow to SEE, so much, really, as GRASP. We saw all this happening — but failed to grasp what it meant — and how it was playing out in all its terrible detail RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. That, too, is failure of imagination.

FAILURE OF IMAGINATION is how McConnell got away with circumventing the will of the American People to deliberately remake the judiciary as conservative when the people CLEARLY want it progressive?

HOW has Donald Trump gotten away with HIS shit for as long as he has? How did we ever let him get past “Mexicans are rapists” or “Pussy Grabbing” or every stinking lie he’s told from the moment he became OUR EMPLOYEE? How have we not been able to stop this — or even report this accurately?

I’ll let you fill in the blank — with an “Amen!” chaser.

But it isn’t just OUR failure of imagination — as citizens. We rely on our Press (as per the First Amendment) to be the final check on power. To do that they need to IMAGINE the worst — because you can’t report all the possible reasons things happen if you don’t include that. For one, you’re not being accurate.

But — strangely — watch enough news, and of all the possible answers to The Biggest Question Facing Us — Why Does Donald Trump Act Like Vladimir Putin Owns Him? The American Press STILL refuses to answer the question: “BECAUSE VLADIMIR PUTIN OWNS HIM”.

It seems bizarre that one can’t “imagine” the thing that’s not just “staring you in the face” but stabbing you there, too.

Our Dirty Secret: We Now Accept A Shitload Of Corruption As “Normal”. Spoiler Alert – BLAME THE MEDIA

Spoiler Alert Redux: BLAME THE MEDIA. They betrayed our trust in them. I bet money had something to do with it…

Yeah, yeah — it’s not entirely the media’s fault. We aren’t sheep out here, beyond the media bubble. But most people don’t have all day to sift through or triangulate all the information pouring on us to feel clarity about what is true and what isn’t. We identify a voice or two that we trust. When that voice speaks, we’ll feel secure that THEY, at least, aren’t bullshitting us.

This doesn’t apply of course to Fox News viewers.

The Press is the only job mentioned in the Constitution. They’re the only profession enumerated there (in the First Amendment) and given a mission: to be the Peoples’ last check on Power. That means they have to have a ZERO TOLERANCE for corruption since even the tiniest bit can grow (quickly) and bring down the whole system itself. Because self-government is based on TRUST. We have to TRUST that We The People aren’t trying to screw each other over. There’s simply no room for corruption in that equation.

The moment our Press accepts one tiny bit of corruption — or, should I say, the moment our Press ACCEPTED corruption — they helped set us on this very road we’re on. They’re not completely to blame, of course, there’s the corruption the Press didn’t report on. Who are they? And WHY did our Press fail to warn us about them?

During the Bush years, there was a New York Times reporter named Judith Miller. Judith traded a big chunk of her integrity to have access to Dick Cheney. That gave her an inside track to Cheney’s story. He wasn’t telling her the whole truth however. And there was Judith in the end — with a bullshit story under her byline and her integrity in tatters.

Our Press helped sell us the False Narrative we’re living inside of now — that Donald Trump is a legitimate president who “won” in 2016. “But he won the election” has been the mantra for two years to explain the screaming incongruities of Trump’s actions and the electorate’s disgust. “But he won the election” they say — as if everything surrounding the election (you know, RUSSIA) had nothing to do with that incongruity. Never mind every animal instinct inside of us screaming “That’s Bullshit!” — “But he won the election”.

For The Record: It was reported back in real time — 10 days before the election, Paul Manafort (having been forced to LEAVE the Trump campaign because of his ties to Russia) RETURNED to the campaign with this directive: “FOCUS ON PENNSYLVANIA, WISCONSIN & MICHIGAN”. Trump won those three states by a combined total of less than 80,000 votes. No one has ever done any official forensics on the machines (that’s not to say that people haven’t looked at the results — and seen some very real mathematical anomalies including similar vote totals across multiple counties). No one, to date, has asked Paul Manafort (though I’m sure Team Mueller has) — “What’d ya mean by that, Paulie?”

Remember — Even Team Trump expected to lose. There are stories of true shock in the Trump camp. There were stories of Melania especially — raging at Donald because he had assured her he would lose; the whole “deal” they had was he would lose.

Quick Digression — I’m quire convinced that Euro Trash FLOTUS is as much a part of Putin’s active measures against us as was Mariia Butina. Melania isn’t nearly as trained (I don’t think) — but we’ve got so much to learn still…

These stories WERE reported at the time. For some reason — despite their strangeness — they didn’t catch much heat. Shame. We might have gotten to the bottom of this sooner. But, back then, we were living large on lies. We had feasted more than we realized on bullshit — and had been calling it prime rib. More fool us. But then, remember — BLAME THE MEDIA.

As the story of what REALLY happened behind the scenes of our election began to find sunlight, one story caught the Media’s attention: The Steele Dossier. It was so sexy sounding. Its origins were even sexier. It all sounded like something out of a John Le Carre novel. On meth. Quick

Quick background: Back when in the early, early days of the 2016 campaign, a conservative news site — The Washington Free Beacon — hired a company called Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Donald Trump —

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/10/28/560544607/conservative-website-initially-hired-firm-that-later-produced-trump-dossier

The Free Beacon (rightfully) feared Trump. Like everyone else with a pulse, they’d heard rumblings about Donald Trump and various illegal behaviours. Fusion GPS was co-founded in 2011 by Glenn R. Simpson (a former investigative reporter and journalist for Roll Call and The Wall Street Journal), Peter Fritsch, (former Wall Street Journal senior editor), and former Wall Street Journal journalist Thomas Catan — so they had rock solid bona fides. Some more info about Fusion is here —

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_GPS

When the whole Trump-Russia saga began to emerge — and the first obstructions of justice flared, Glenn Simpson was called before Congress to testify (the intention of the Senate Republicans being to tamp Simpson down and discredit him and the Steele Dossier; this occurred at roughly the same time Devin Nunes was making his “Midnight Runs” to the White House). He told some fascinating stories that blew up repeatedly in the faces of the Republicans who’d brought him there. Shame it didn’t get more attention but — c’est lat vie (or our Press).

Among the things Glenn Simpson said under oath was this: When got hired, they did what they always do first — their Due Diligence. Their due diligence consisted of getting ahold of every newspaper article, every magazine article, every video, radio show, anything anywhere in any format — if it was PUBLICLY AVAILABLE, Fusion got its hands on it. They ordered it from Amazon. Found it in book stores. They even took it out of the library if that’s where it was. Due Diligence it’s called.

Simpson testified under oath that what Fusion GPS found IN PUBLICLY AVAILABLE MATERIAL gave them pause. It convinced them that Donald J Trump had (at the very least) been laundering money for the Russian mob forever. And if you’re laundering money for the Russian mob, you’re laundering money for the Russian government — Vladimir Putin in particular. It’s Russia. That’s how it works there.

Fusion wanted to hire the best Russia hand in the business to dig into that. The Free Beacon bailed. They weren’t interested in knowing that much about Trump (who was on the way to becoming the GOP’s nominee). I guess it might have changed how they felt about him SO much they did something. Shame about that.

In April 2016, the law firm Perkins Coie retained Fusion on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC to continue their work. Fusion hired Chris Steele in June 2016. When Perkins Coie ended their contract with Fusion in October 2016, Steele — who’d become so concerned by what HE was uncovering that he continued working gratis because he cared about the Western Democracies. If you want — Simpson’s full August 2017 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee is here (Simpson & Fritsch even wrote an op-ed in the NYTimes demanding their full testimony be released) —
https://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/politics/read-the-full-transcript-of-glenn-simpsons-senate-testimony/2700/

So — The Steele Dossier (a collection of raw, unvetted intel actually) became a kind of bete noir for America’s news media. They glommed onto the first word that, while being true about the dossier, also betrayed a wide beam of editorial ignorance about the espionage trade: “Unverified”. While the claims made in the Dossier may indeed have been “unverified” by them, there were people verifying or quite capable of verifying most everything Steele wrote. In fact, on the subject of the Steele Dosser, the Press got quite belligerent — as if, somehow, Christopher Steele needed to prove his product’s claims to THEM before they could possibly pass muster.

It was bizarre, frankly — these “journalists” who hadn’t done THEIR due diligence about Donald Trump, casting aspersions on someone else’s DUE DILIGENCE. Bizarre? It was PERVERSE.

As we keep learning: Nothing in the Steele Dossier has been “disproven”. Steele’s work product — and remember — Chris Steele ran the MI6’s Russia Desk. He had great contacts. He had integrity. Side note: When the FBI wanted to take down FIFA’s Sepp Bladder for being corrupt — they hired Chris Steele. The man’s work was solid. He had a solid reputation.

But our Press had been compromised already. They were still buying everything Trump or his underlings said at face value (no matter how much it stunk up the joint). Instead of trying to perhaps even verify some of the claims themselves — they shrugged the Dossier off as “UNVERIFIED”. Think about that in retrospect — the great bulk of our Free Press were denying a desperate whistle blower (desperate in part to save THEIR hides, rights & Constitutional purpose) in favor of the CRIMINALS & TRAITORS who were coloring the False Narrative.

The fix was already in though. By then — keep in mind — the Press had already accepted things that could not possibly be “accepted” before. By “accepted” I mean “NORMALIZED”.

Yeah, sure — the press reacted to “Mexicans Are Rapists” & “Pussy Grabbing” with all the proper alarm. For two seconds. Then they turned their focus to fresh outrage — and they stopped asking about these outrages. The effect was immediate: Trump’s bigotry and misogyny were now baked in to The Product that was Trump. And the Press accepted those things as “Part of Him”. Voila — the unspeakable had been normalized.

Taking the bait, our Press yapped about emails instead. Benghazi. Then the Comey Letter (a whole other subject for discussion). The Press’s inability to discern real from bullshit — and their carnival barker mentality could likely have changed the whole course of the election right there. In retrospect, the Press’s relentless harping on the emails (stolen property, don’t forget) will be seen as its blind spot. Its nearly fatal blind spot.

Now we live in a time when it is acknowledged that most everything that spews from the president’s anus-shaped mouth is a lie. Yet most of the press report it as if it could be true. They’re getting better at contextualizing it but — we’re so late in the game and they’re still so loathe to use the word “lie”. “Falsehoods” still abound. So does bullshit.

It wold be awesome if we could go back in a time machine to that moment before our Press ate, digested & pooped out to us as truth Trump’s first lie. Unfortunately, that’s not an option. All we can do is learn from our mistakes. Too bad learning from our mistakes is not a given.

We’ve never been “here” before — to this terrible, treasonous place. We can still save ourselves — what’s our choice? But We The People can’t do it without our Constitutionally mandated partners: The Press.

But we need them to swear off corruption. Cold turkey. Zero Tolerance. The moment they sense it (or even suspect that they sense it), they need to speak up. Loudly and persistently cos we’re not always good at listening. It’s hard to listen sometimes when so much bullshit is being thrown at you.

Dear MSM: You Screwed Up Reporting Trump-Russia. OWN IT!

A very real day of reckoning is coming for America’s Main Stream News Media: They helped perpetuate the False Narrative that nearly destroyed our Democracy. How many kazillion times has a TV News Talking Heads round table collectively nodded, “Yeah – THAT’S why!” when one of them explained away Trump by saying “Well, the American People voted for him…”?

It’s BULLSHIT. We didn’t. The MAJORITY of Americans (who were allowed to vote and whose votes were counted) voted AGAINST Donald Trump & everything Republican. The only reason Trump is POTUS is because he ‘won’ the EC. Let’s put aside the fact that the Electoral College is a vestige of slavery appeasement. Let’s put aside that the Electoral College is an example of indirect representation.

Let’s put aside the fact that 10 days before the election, Paul Manafort returned to the campaign from banishment (after his Russia ties were revealed) and told them all to focus everything on PENNSYLVANIA, WISCONSIN & MICHIGAN. As of this writing, no one has asked Manafort on the record (as far as we know — Team Mueller surely already has) what exactly he meant by that. Considering that those three states came in for Trump with less than 80,000 votes COMBINED — and their machines were never officially given a forensics exam (where you open up the machine and gaze at its code) — and considering where we are in our knowledge of what all Donald Trump, the republican party and Russia did together — to blithely believe that Trump’s EC win reflects “winning” is absurd.

Yet, all those arguments ended there with the rest of the talking heads nodding “Yeah — weird — whattaya gonna do about it?”

Thus was the False Narrative born and regularly strengthened. As crazy as it all seemed — as disconnected from what Americans really seemed to want (Trump’s base are not America — they may be 30% of us but the other 70% want nothing to do with them!) all that illogic could get shrugged off cos “That’s what America voted for”.

What, I wonder, will all those pundits with all those “Well, America voted for him!” replies on their resumes say when, it turns out, they were flat out wrong. Trump didn’t win the EC either. He was never the legitimate POTUS. He lost, in fact, and Hillary Clinton won. If HRC won, you understand, it screws up the whole narrative that she lost — and lost because she was a bad candidate. If in fact Hillary Clinton DIDN’T lose — and, in fact, won — then she WASN’T a bad candidate.

Our whole False Narrative just got caught out nekkid.

Oops! Now what will the pundits say? Actually — if we were doing this right, we wouldn’t care what those pundits said cos they’d be gone. They’ve all got exactly ten seconds to explain themselves and their lack of journalistic skepticism. Even if they didn’t quit and find other employment, those of us who watch the news would have to watch them knowing this about them: they suck at their jobs.

False Narrative’s bunk mate is “Both Sides Do It”. Don’t get me started on that SOB…

American News Media’s Biggest Fail: They SUCK As Storytellers…

There’s an art to telling a story. It isn’t just knowing how to line up the beginning, middle and end in the right way so the story makes sense…

Anyone who’s ever listened to someone massacre a joke knows what I mean. A joke, after all, is just a story — sketched out in a handful of words. But it works by the same storytelling principle. A set up and a punchline are the beginning, middle & end of a story.

To correctly and successfully tell a joke or a story, you have to know all the pieces of the story — or suspect enough about where they’re going to at least tap dance through the ending. I just finished a book (looking for a publisher now — “How To Live Bullshit Free (and other Showbiz Tales)” — which basically tells my own story; I knew going in what the story was — but, even so, the ending took me by surprise — and I was the guy writing it. Stories can take on a life of their own.

But, in order to go where the story takes you, you have to be fully invested in it. More than that, you have to be the story’s teller — and not the person to whom the story is being told. There’s a huge difference. A huge philosophical difference.

In order to tell you a story, I have to gain your confidence — that is, I have to convince you to suspend your belief if only for a moment. If I tell you that a dog walks into a bar — and you stop me: “Wait — dogs can’t walk into bars!” — then I’ve failed at the start. You haven’t suspended your belief enough to allow the fantastical element at the heart of my story to take wing. But, if instead, you said: “Cool — so, a dog walks into a bar — tell me more!” then I’ve succeeded — at the start. You will let me take you wherever I want — so long as the story stays interesting and doesn’t violate its own rules.

To put a finer point on that — you become the passive listener while I become the active storyteller.

That’s how storytelling works. OUR problem is our Main Stream News Media doesn’t get that. Every time Donald Trump opens his mouth and lies — and the News Media repeats the lie as if it could be true — they stop being storytellers and start being the guy the story was told to instead — who’s simply repeating what he heard. That is not storytelling.

Yes, yes — part of storytelling is listening to others — so you can tell their stories — but storytellers are tasked with finding deeper Truths inside other peoples’ stories — and then telling them. That’s where storytelling ‘art’ kicks in.

It’s not a hard problem to fix. Actually, it’s shockingly easy. All any journalist ever has to do is remind themselves on which side of the storytelling equation they’re supposed to sit. And if they can’t remember themselves, it’s incumbent on US to remind them — as loudly and persistently as we must.

After all — journalists aren’t merely storytellers — they’re the only job mentioned by name in the Constitution. THEIR stories are the last check on power. If they “tell them wrong”, we’re screwed.

What NBC’s Savannah Guthrie did – interviewing young Nick Sandmann — was the exact opposite of storytelling. She became the person to whom Nick Sandmann told his story — as in SHE suspended all belief in order to accept what he said as truth. That she walked away — having allowed a clearly faulty version of the story to stand shouts at us: Nick Sandmann became the styoryteller & an American news outlet became the passive listener to that story.

Fail.

Fail, fail, fail, FAIL.

From one storyteller to another, NBC News – You SUCK at your job. Find other work more suitable to your skills such as they are.

Perhaps Walmart is looking for greeters. Give em a call. Please.


Does Anything Epitomize Conservative Thinking Better Than ‘A WALL’?

The prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall are seen behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes – RC1B258D6BC0

We stand on a precipice — one of many precipices we seem to end up standing on here in The Age Of Trump — being held hostage by Donald Trump’s campaign slogan ‘Build The Wall’. It’s absurd on it’s face. If you tried to WRITE this — as a script or a novel — you’d bomb because no one would buy it as a premise. It’s too absurd, ya see…

“Build A Wall” began its life (as most things Trumpian do) as an exercise in cynical marketing. During the 2016 campaign, Roger Stone & Sam Nunberg suggested a way to easily remind Trump to rant about ”illegal immigration”. They proposed a cheer line: “Build The Wall”. The icing: “Mexico Will Pay For It”.

‘Build A Wall’ & ‘Mexico Will Pay For It’ were never ever ever based in reality. They never ever EVER were connected to any sort of actual policy beyond pure unadulterated racism. They were mneumonics — memory devices designed for a narrow-minded, forgetful, but deeply racist OLD MAN — Donald J Trump. The wall is a metaphor for everything Trump.

It’s a metaphor for everything CONSERVATIVE, too. To call building a wall — and thinking it’s actually ‘defense’ — is Medieval. It’s more ancient than that actually but — for the sake of kindness, we’ll call it Medieval. As we learned today — Trump’s wall can be chewed through by a common saw that anyone can by at Lowe’s (shop them instead of Home Despot — the guy who owns Home Despot is a Trumpian).

Turns out the word ‘impenetrable’ & ‘wall’ don’t go together…

Donald Trump wants us to ‘buy’ that his wall is ‘impenetrable’ just because he says it is. That’s how authoritarians ‘think’. A thing is so just because I will it. The way sycophants work is they say ‘Yes, it is!’ regardless of the truth. That’s CONSERVATISM right there. Conservatism is the willingness to deny every bit of WHAT IS because you want it to be HOW I WANT IT — regardless of how inaccessible the one place is from the other.

This is Trump’s Wall – post ‘sawzall’…

Conservatives have built a metaphorical wall in their minds around a notion of ‘How It Was’. That’s what they want to CONSERVE — just as their name says. They don’t WANT to go into the future (they certainly don’t want to Progress there…), no, they want to stay in the past — in a place the they’ve CONSERVED.

The overwhelming majority of Americans don’t want to conserve what was since it was weighted so heavily against them. That would be women & People of Color & the LGBTQ Community & Immigrants to the country & Asylum seekers & Frankly, Anyone Who Isn’t White-Christian-Male. WE want what this country can BE far, far more than what it WAS.

To that end, we lend our talents, our passion, our tax dollars, our hopes. Our citizenship comes with great privileges but also awesome responsibilities. A lot of us see it as our duty — as citizens — to help steer this Nation toward the place where as many Americans as possible enjoy the fruits of our common ‘struggle’. That’s not something to conserve — it doesn’t exist yet. But it’s at the very CORE of the American Promise: Come, Give Us Your Best, Work Hard — And We Will Share Our Bounty With You As You Share Yours With Us.

That’s what Conservatives want to KEEP OUT. That’s the thing they want to WALL against. The Truth is, walls don’t keep out Human Progress. Oh, they can delay it a bit — but no wall has ever truly kept human beings captive.

Only a fool conservative would think so.