Screenwriting & Storytelling In The Age Of Coronavirus

The Age of Trump made fiction-writing redundant. No one could write characters or a story half as batshit bonkers as what we were living through before coronavirus and get away with it. Now, we’re just out in the stratosphere of “Whatever!” Twists might surprise us as they happen but nothing really surprises us any more.

Stories will now exist “pre-coronavirus” and “post-coronavirus” — exactly like with a war. If you were writing a love story on December 6, 1941, you had to revise it the next day — after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor — because a war started and the world all your characters lived in were going to war too — whether you knew it or not. Any visual storyteller who shoots a video where people are dressed like they used to — without masks or other protective accessories — without social distancing — is telling a period piece. Everyone might as well be wearing petticoats.

Shows like Fox’s Empire — as of now — gave up on the idea of finishing. In Empire’s case, the show’s creators are bailing on shooting the series finale for that very reason. Their show takes place in the present. In the here & now. That is, Empire took place in the present that was — in the there & then. Having to choose between suddenly (but inexplicably) wrenching their story and characters fully into coronavirus world or building coronavirus world into their story (very inconvenient when you’re wrapping your story up and lots of what you planned relied on the characters living how we used to), Empire’s producers (I think wisely though my heart breaks for them) chose to just “walk away”. To allow their creation to end where it did when the virus struck.

Like the show itself was a victim of covid-19. Which it absolutely was.

Simple conventions that storytellers have relied on forever now have to be rethought. Bars and restaurants might open again but they won’t look like they did pre-coronavirus. There won’t be “packed restaurants” or “pulsating night clubs” or “crowded bars” here in reality for a while. That means it’ll be tricky to write about them. It’s pointless to write a scene in movie script that no one would ever shoot because it’s not how people act anymore. It’d be like our love story writer insisting on his love story taking place in a world where Japan never attacked Pearl Harbor or Corregidor or Nanking or anywhere else. It’d be like writing Casablanca — except everyone just “shows up” in North Africa for no reason — the second world war no longer being a “thing” for them to worry about. No need for exit visas or Nazis or Vichy French.

For reference — I’ve spent my career in the entertainment business. I’ve been a writer & producer in film & TV for over 35 years. I’ve run TV shows (HBO’s Tales From The Crypt & Showtime’s The Outer Limits), sold pilots to Fox, ABC, HBO and the old UPN. I’ve written and produced feature films (Children Of The Corn II fer pete’s sake, Demon Knight and Bordello Of Blood!) I’ve written stories that take place in the past, present and the future. I’ve had to imagine how humans might problem-solve in a future beyond my imagining.

That’s one of the challenges for all of us who’ve been cooped up in our homes, imagining new TV shows to fill the void now that everyone in the whole world has watched everything on Netflix and Hulu and Amazon for the thousandth time. What world will our new creations take place in? What are the rules? If we get them wrong, the “here and now” we’re describing will turn off our audiences.

It’s like getting a character wrong. Writers have to know people better than even their therapists do. We all have experienced the great story idea ruined by characters who don’t act like anyone we know. The moment a storyteller loses her audience, it’s over. The audience is gone for good — hoping the next story they decide to invest in pays them back a little more generously.

On the one hand, one can see the coming waves of infection-and-death, shut-down-and-re-opening as an obstacle. Or, one could see them as an opportunity to tell a story that’s never been told before — putting modern, tech-savvy humans up against a primordial foe who sees their bodies (and cells) as a cheap sex hotel where they can slum for a while and reproduce.

The very good news for the world’s TV audiences is that when storytellers are allowed to get together in the same place again to practice their art, the stories they tell will be amazing. On the one hand, they’ll be familiar because we’ve all just endured the same wrenching experience together. On the other hand, we hope, they’ll be eye-opening for what’s new in them: new insights into human beings and how we react to stress; that’s pretty much the basis for all storytelling.

If the writers get it all wrong and don’t come up with a single binge-able idea coming out of the coronavirus quarantine, there’ll always be reality. When all else fails, we’ll know, if we want real entertainment that can’t be beat for compellingness, all we have to do is turn off the TV and walk outside.

Dear American News Media: This Is NOT A Time For Neutrality; YOU Are One Of Trump’s Main Targets

I think of 95% of our news media as being like the inhabitants of Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941 — about a half hour before the Japanese Imperial Fleet kicked their Sunday morning out of bed. The Japanese didn’t just “fall from the sky” though, of course, that’s what they did. To get to that patch of Hawaiian sky, the Japanese had to plan extensively going back months and years (as a contingency). They had to assemble all that equipment, the manpower, the supply chains to back it all up and then pull the trigger on it.

The Japanese Navy took weeks to get from port to where it could assemble for attack (having moved cautiously to avoid giving away the surprise). In a very real sense, a

The point — in a very real sense, a state of war existed in Japan’s mind long before it existed in ours. We were going to be victimized. Americans were going to die. Yet, had we known (and there are debates as to whether we did or not), and had we been able to “do” something (show enough force sailing toward Japan to dissuade them from their adventure), who knows where the world would be now.

But we did get attacked. We did get surprised — in large part because we took the world for granted. We took it for granted that Japan would never attack us. We took for granted that, if they did, the consequences would be negligible. We took for granted that we were safe in a very dangerous world.

Our news media take an awful lot for granted too. They’ve normalized things that should never EVER have been normalized. The moment they stop squawking about “Mexicans are rapists” and “Pussy-grabbing”, they normalized it. In the aftermath, if whatever Trump said didn’t top that? Who cared. He’s said worse. And if he DID top it — welcome to the NEW “normal”.

Our press still don’t realize yet how much they’ve done that.

We’ll remind them repeatedly when this is done.

One of the “journalists” who staggers me the most is NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell. This award-winning journalist (that staggers me even more!) brings not an iota of perspective to her “reporting”. She will faithfully repeat whatever Trump or his spokespeople say — without contextualizing it ever. If the president said it, Kelly O’s thinking goes, it’s my job to repeat it accurately.

Ah, but what if we live in Trump World — you know, the world we actually live in — where the president in question has been verifiably accused of lying over 13,000 times. What if the context instead was: “This president — who’s fealty to the truth is dubious at best — just said this…”? Granted the language is a little fancy-assed but the point is good. A man notorious for lying repeatedly wants you to believe something he’s saying — because he needs you to.

Trump needs the Kelly O’s to repeat back what he says without them pointing out it’s bullshit. Every time Kelly O does exactly that, Donald Trump has gotten away with more lies and lying. I wonder… if, one day, Trump came out to the White House lawn and told the assembled reporters — Kelly O’Donnell included — that Kelly O eats puppies for breakfast, would Kelly O blithely repeat it — because that’s what Trump said and her job is to report it without “getting involved” in the story?

Would Kelly O make an exception — knowing for a fact that she DOESN’T eat puppies for breakfast and, personally, finds the idea disgusting? Would she muster the nerve to hold up her hand and say to Trump “Now, hold on here, Mister President, I know for a fact that I do not eat puppies for breakfast, having given up he habit years ago. Either you are mis-informed or you’re a liar, take your pick.”

Mmmmm, no, I can’t hear Kelly O rising to the occasion to defend herself. That would mean she inserted herself into the story — and Kelly O would never do that — not even to defend the truth. About herself.

The media keep framing Bernie Sanders through Trump’s lens — “he’s a socialist” (as if being a socialist was in fact a terrible thing — never mind corporate socialism). Do they ever — to level the playing field — frame Trump the way Democrats will likely frame him — as an authoritarian criminal? As a rapist? As corruption with legs?

No? How about as “Co-Conspirator Number One”? That IS supported by evidence.

I guess all those mediocre “journalists” figure they’ll survive the purges that are sure to follow Trump “winning” another election. They’re even more delusional than usual. Trump will want them to be all Kelly O all the time — a steno pool masquerading as an open mic. Poor them. They don’t grasp how terribly expendable they are.

I hope they get a good bunk at the gulag. I hope they’re not counting on it though.

Japan’s Pearl Harbor Surprise Attack Wants To Teach Us A Lesson About Right Now; Will We Listen?

We think of WWII starting for Americans the moment the Japanese attacked our Naval base at Pearl Harbor. That’s not entirely accurate.

The Japanese arrived at Pearl Harbor and started bombing it — killing Americans & doing grave harm to our navy. But the Japanese didn’t just suddenly appear at Pearl Harbor. They had to plan their attack. They had to move assets into forward positions in order to launch it. Then they had to set off on the attack itself.

The Japanese arrived at Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time. A Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings dove from the clouds above Oahu. But the Japanese task force that attacked Pearl Harbor — including six aircraft carriers, left Japan on November 26, 1941 — two weeks earlier. That’s really when Japan declared war on us — with the intention of attacking the base at Pearl Harbor.

In theory, a murder isn’t a murder until the victim dies. But, up to that moment, it’s still attempted murder. There’s still the plotting of a crime, too — both being criminal acts. The act of rearing back to throw a punch you intend to throw regardless is very much part of your attack. The instant you pull the trigger, the act is irreversible.

We’ll set the planning aside — too abstract.

But the moment the Japanese fleet left port — the attack was on. The only thing standing between the Japanese and carrying out the attack was time and distance. And then timing so as to arrive when the Americans living at Pearl Harbor would be least likely to expect anything — and most vulnerable to the attack’s intended outcome: the crippling of the American Pacific fleet.

We are under cyber attack. We’ve BEEN under cyber attack for nearly four years now. Donald Trump isn’t POTUS because he “won” election 2016 freely & fairly, he “won” because Russia launched the most successful intelligence operation in history — a CYBER WAR relying on, among other things, weaponized polling data and a steady stream of propaganda.

Anyone who thinks you need bombs or bullets to win a war anymore will lose every war they ever fight going forward. Cyber war is cheap and just as effective — if not more effective. Fact: Russia (or perhaps various other bad actors) could shut down America’s power grid tomorrow — and we would be forced to sue for peace — losing the war.

We are under attack. Russia has already put its asset into the White House. They’re using that asset — Trump and everyone around him — to actively undermine every facet of American Democracy. If our Republic goes away, there will be no backstop to Russian hegemony. Putin will have his Greater Russia back. The world will have more authoritarianism, more corruption, more darkness.

Until we — our news media especially — embrace this Truth — that yes, indeedy, we ARE under attack — this very well could be World War Three we’re living through — we will not stop it from happening.

It seems like a no-brainer. Someone’s hitting you — hard. Either you demand that they stop hitting you or you return fire — and you force them to stop.

That’s where we are. It’s where we’ve been — in the not-all-that-distant past. Can we not repeat yet another historical mistake because we refused to take any lessons from it?

The Problem With “Doing Nothing”…

Got a problem? Doing nothing will not solve it. That’s a stone cold fact. That’s not to say you can’t get lucky — and time resolves what your inaction didn’t. But that wasn’t you solving your problem, that was you hiding from it until a solution presented itself. Not the same thing.

One of the roadblocks Big Business regularly threw up early in the Climate Change conversation was the cost of cutting down our carbon output. Big Business was going to have to see its profits go down so it could help maintain the planet’s long-term health. That would be the long term health of Big Business’s marketplace.

Saving the planet for all the living creatures in it (it’s not just humans who get profoundly impacted by the mess we’ve made of the planet) won’t be cheap. But if you consider the alternative — from a cost-benefit analysis — doing nothing, it turns out, is a thousand times more expensive. Doing nothing about the climate already has resulted in appreciable sea rise.

Seen photos of Venice? Seen the mess Hurricane Dorian made of the Bahamas? Right now, those are the cost of doing nothing. Doing nothing isn’t “free”. Cleaning up and rebuilding is expensive as hell — if you can clean up (ask Puerto Rico what that’s like). Resources used for rebuilding can’t be used for other things. Same goes for the money. There’s a bigger hidden cost staring at us all. What if places like Venice simply can’t “be” anymore — because they’re under water? Imagine that THAT costs.

Doing nothing on the climate will produce tens of millions of refugees fleeing the coasts for safer refuge inland. The costs will be incalculable. Where are those people going to live? How are they going to feed themselves? More to the point, who is going to feed and shelter them — and where is that money going to come from (while we’re also paying for the cost of the destruction itself?)

Doing nothing in the face of climate change is a terrible idea.

Doing nothing in the face of what Donald Trump and the Republican Party are doing to America is equally terrible (and not unconnected). Yet that’s what plenty of people — politicians and pundits — still want us to do: nothing. They want us to wait for the next election — so the American People can have their say.

Lovely thought but fatally naive. The American People did not get their say LAST presidential election. 2016 was stolen from the American People — certainly from the majority. HRC won the popular vote by upwards of 3 million votes (lots more, I bet, if all the suppressed votes were counted). If we take Russia out of the equation — they’ve never even heard of Donald Trump — he doesn’t enter the race and he certainly doesn’t make it through the primaries.

Without Russia, Trump wouldn ‘t be POTUS. I have to wonder now (with retrospect and a year of meaningful oversight now under our belts) what Mitch McConnell knew about Russia’s efforts on Trump’s behalf when, at the September 2016 Gang Of Eight meeting at the White House, Moscow Mitch McConnell told President Obama that he’d accuse Obama of politicizing the intelligence if Obama told the American People the TRUTH — that Russia was actively engaged in trying to make Trump president. Was THAT why Mitch insisted again and again that “the American people” deserved to name Scalia’s SCOTUS replacement? Because Mitch knew the American People would have limited say in that election’s outcome?

Russia is engaged in a cyber war with us. It doesn’t matter if we accept it or even know it. It’s happening. We’re exactly like the residents of Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941 — in the minutes BEFORE the Japanese attacked. They have no idea a state of war exists — it absolutely does; they’re about to be attacked ffs! But war does exist — and it is coming for them whether they like it or not, whether they KNOW it or not.

Donald Trump isn’t just a corrupt POTUS, he’s a traitor. He’s been the most devastating active measure in the whole history of espionage. He and everyone around him are betraying us each and every day. How can we possibly let that stand for another moment — never mind till the next election which the republicans fully expect to steal just as they did election 2016.?

The cost of doing nothing is we lose our Republic.

Sorry. Not acceptable.

We are compelled not just to do “something” but to do EVERYTHING in our power to stop what the republicans are doing. We may survive the republicans decimating the greatest experiment in human self-government ever, but we won’t like what the republicans replace it with.

Doing nothing, ironically, will absolutely positively cost us everything.

What Did YOU Do In The CYBER War, Daddy?

Anyone who thinks it takes bombs and bullets to win a war is an idiot doomed to lose every war he ever fights going forward.

Please — let’s not that idiot.

Call it asymetrical war, call it cyber war. Call it anything you like. Russia is waging it against us regardless of what we call it or even whether we acknowledge that we’re under attack.

For reference — the people living at Pearl Harbor had no idea the Japanese fleet was on its way — having declared war on America in general and on them specifically that day. You don’t have to know you’re under attack to “be” under attack.

The first thing we have to do — individually — is acknowledge what’s happening to us. Being a victim of childhood sexual assault, I know how easy it can be to go all “out of body” in the face of emotional trauma. Hell, I denied what happened to me for 45 years. Not for a second did it mean it didn’t happen to me.

It only meant that I was in denial about it.

We’re under attack. This is war — World War Three, in fact (we’re not the only country Russia is assaulting after all). We know that Putin created actual plans to attack us covertly. That he’s done it (and is still doing it) isn’t the shocker; it’s all the complicity on our side of the ledger that’s shocking. Trump is a given. He’s been involved with Russian mobsters and their money for decades.

How quickly so many Republicans succumbed to Trump — that’s the shocker. Between kompromat & campaign money (illegal cos it’s Russian), the Republicans must be guilty out the wazoo to judge by their loyalty to a man so obviously guilty of the highest crimes and misdemeanors.

It’s on us to fight back every day in evey way we can. Voting will be vital of course. But so is engaging with these pirates. Silence in the face of their crimes normalizes their crimes. Yeah, it’s a pain in the ass — and exhausting — having to keep up the righteous indignation. But every time we stop being righteously indignant, that’s another high crime we’re normalizing.

It’s the fact that we’re at war that turns Trump’s desperate need for cash into treason.

Make no mistake: this will get uglier than we can imagine. The republicans will refuse to own their betrayal to the bitter end.

They won’t like how that part of the Cyber War ends for them — in irons in a federal penitentiary for the rest of their lives. That’s if they’re lucky.

Dear America — It Doesn’t Matter Whether We Know It Or Not — WE’RE AT WAR

We all know the story of December 7, 1941. At around 7:15 a.m. the Japanese Imperial Fleet attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Just like that — America was “at war”.

But, the Japanese had set their war machine in motion years before — designing it for just such a scenario. In advance of that date — December 7, the Japanese moved their war machine into place. We’re talking a naval fleet and a wide expanse of ocean. Then, once the order was given to attack, it still took the Japanese hours to reach Pearl Harbor so they could open the attack — and make the fact that they were at war with us “formal”.

Looking back at the timeline, December 7, 1941 didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. I wonder if anyone at Pearl Harbor asked themselves — as they ran for cover, the bombs exploding all around them — how was it they (we) were so horribly ill-prepared for a war they (we) should have seen coming…

Okay — the whole point of a surprise attack is that the guy getting attacked doesn’t see it coming. But, c’mon…

A deer happily walking through the forest thinks her life is going along just fine. If a hunter has her in his sights however, she’s fooling herself. Her life’s about to end abruptly. She’ll just be the last to know it.

America is a lot like that deer. We still have it in our heads that our Democracy works like it’s supposed to. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our voting systems are as compromised as a Trump because the makers of those systems are mostly Trump supporters. And one has to wonder why the makers of VOTING SYSTEMS don’t want to guarantee the INTEGRITY of their VOTING SYSTEMS by always creating a paper trail.

Quick Life Hack? Any time anyone tries to hide the truth — no matter the tap dancing they do? It means they’re lying. It means they’re a criminal violating both the public trust and (probably) the law.

Russia declared war on us eons ago. It has been their intention going back to at least the Cold War to compromise us or neutralize us. We used to be much better at fighting back. Republican greed — for money and power — seem to have warn down their “resistance”. Seeing demographic extinction in their future, the Republican Party (their money) made a conscious choice to hitch their wagon to Donald Trump — even though they KNEW, for a fact, that Trump was a traitor.

That’s just stone, cold fact.

Russia declared Cyber War & Information War against us (they’ve certainly behaved as if they were at Cyber/Info War with us) and the Republican Party conspired with them as a means to impose permanent minority rule upon the majority.

Want to know why the GOP won’t say a thing to stop Trump when clearly Trump’s uvula is spackled with Vladimir Putin’s DNA? Their uvulas are all just as coated. They’ve all taken Russian money. They knew or suspected what was happening and said NOTHING. Why, even back during the 2016 convention Paul Ryan was telling Mike McCarthy to keep his suspicions that Russia was paying Dana Rohrbacher & Donald Trump “in the family”.

They knew we were under attack — THEY SAID SO OUT LOUD. Yet, did nothing. Didn’t call the FBI, for instance…

Wake up, America — please? Anyone who thinks you need bombs and bullets to wage or win a war will lose every war they ever fight going forward. Russia (or some other player) could shut down our electrical grid today and we’d be forced to sue for peace. Imagine: winning a war without firing a shot. It is absolutely possible.

The fact that we don’t KNOW — for a fact — that we’ve been under attack all this time is a tell that we’re living inside a giant FALSE NARRATIVE. Every time a TV talking head says about election 2016 that America voted for Trump, they’re spewing a false narrative. 1) the majority of Americans did NOT vote for Trump and 2) in the three states that put Trump over the top — Pennsylvania, Michigan & Wisconsin, Trump won by a combined 77,000 votes in states where Russia used proprietary polling data acquired from Paul Manafort (per the Mueller Report) to DIRECTLY IMPACT the voting in those states.

By the way, no one has ever done any forensics on any of the voting machines in those states. We don’t (may never) know what could have been done (easily by a committed actor) to those machines. Of course, if you don’t accept that you’re at war to begin with, you’d never think to look deeply at voting machines. You’d probably think it was absurd, over the top conspiracy thinking…

A spouse who’s being cheated on lives inside a false narrative that their marriage is secure. We live inside a similar false narrative — and marriage — with the Republican Party. They haven’t just cheated on us, they’ve sold the house out from under us.

Remember that deer I mentioned, the one being hunted? That’s us. Right here, right now. History is pretty consistent on this point. Being the last to know anything always works out badly.

How Must Robert Mueller Feel About Being A “R”epublican Today? “R”otten, I bet…

I’m old enough to remember when the Republican Party wasn’t a racist, homophobic, misogynistic cess pit of White Nationalist tribalism and Trumpian treason.

I can remember when that “R” GOP-ers stick next to their names used to stand for “Republican”. Now it could just as easily stand for “Russia”. Or “Rape” or “Racist”.

I can remember when Republicans brought receipts (“receipts” being an “R” Republicans no longer have a relationship with). Now they bring lies and bullshit by the bucket.

And they bring treason. How must lifelong Republican Robert Mueller felt today, staring across the table at the Republican faces staring back — while they (totally without credibility) tried to undermine his. On paper it’s obscene. In reality it was even worse. Imagine how it must have felt to Mueller to be attacked by the likes of Representative Matt Gaetz from Florida (he of a dozen or so DUI’s) or Ohio’s Representative Jim Jordan (he who enabled all that sexual assault to go on on the Ohio State University wrestling team). Imagine, if you will, having to take shit from Louie Gohmert — easily the stupidest man in all of Texas.

Imagine arriving at what you know is a pivotal moment in American history and YOUR party-members are clearly doing everything in their power to obstruct justice while aiding & abetting the hostile foreign power that is attacking us as we speak. Just so we’re clear — America IS absolutely under attack. We are deep into a cyber war — and getting our asses kicked in large part because we refuse to acknowledge that this is what’s happening.

The citizens of Pearl Harbor had no idea that war had been declared on them. They did, of course, when the Japanese arrived and began bombing, but just because the bombs hadn’t started dropping doesn’t mean they weren’t coming. It doesn’t mean a state of war didn’t exist — that only one side knew was on.

That’s a lot like our situation. We’ve been slow to wake up to the fact that we’ve been cyber attacked. Are still BEING cyber attacked. That cyber attack includes disinformation warfare. As we know from experience — it’s incredibly effective.

Robert Mueller sounded the alarm bells. It was one of the few times he stepped outside the framework of his report. But he was emphatic. Russia is attacking us right this very second.

As he stared across the table at his fellow Republicans, Robert Mueller knew damned well — he was staring at people who were betraying not just his party and its supposed ideals but the country. Robert Mueller had to know today that his Republican Party doesn’t exist anymore.

We’re Living Through World War THREE – And Don’t Even Know It

Anyone who thinks you need bombs & bullets to win a war is going to lose every war they ever fight going forwards. Right now — that’s us.

We’ve been under intense Cyber attack ever since Donald Trump became part of our political process. That’s not hyperbole or conjecture — it’s material fact — contained right there in the Mueller Report. Russia didn’t just “meddle” in election 2016, they changed its outcome. They made Donald Trump the winner even though he absolutely was not.

Don’t tell me about voting machines — how if no voting machines were impacted, how can the vote be effected. That’s just as ignorant and troglodytic as thinking cyber war doesn ‘t happen. First of all, no official forensics have ever been done on any of the voting machines in Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin (that I know of). Those are three of the four states for which Paul Manafort handed over proprietary polling data to Oleg Deripaska — who then gave them to the GRU (Russian military intelligence) for weaponization. Unofficial forensics on the numbers by terrific citizen journalists like Mike Farb and Jennifer Cohen have pointed to numerous clear anomalies. Counties with the exact same percentages of Trump v Hillary vote tabulations. it doesn’t pass the “what a coincidence” smell test.

The point is, we don’t KNOW if machines were attacked and their vote totals altered — we’ve never asked the question. It’d be easy enough to DO the forensics and put the conspiracy theories to bed. Wonder why they don’t…

If you honestly think a changed vote at the point of purchase — a voting machine — is the only way to flip an election, you will lose every election you run in going forward. That, too, is contained within the Mueller Report — how weaponized social media works — and rest assured it does. If one — ONE — single voter (their voter data stolen, weaponized and turned back on them via an ad on THEIR Facebook page) changed their vote or changed their mind about voting in the first place — that, too, is like changing their actual ballot. If you LIE them into NOT VOTING, their non-vote aids the opponent — it’s as good as a vote that’s been stolen because it directly impacts the election’s outcome.

One vote can change an election’s outcome. That means our tolerance for bullshit here can only be ONE VOTE. That is our margin for error.

Trust me on this — please — more than ONE VOTE was changed via weaponized (stolen) voter data. This virtual attack on our voting system was meant to directly alter the election’s outcome. It was meant to circumvent the will of the American people in order to put Vladimir Putin’s candidate — Donald Trump — in the White House instead.

Every word of that is true. And — it’s right there in the Mueller Report, too — Every member of the Trump Crime Family, their entourage and every member of the Republican Party knows it too. What else could you call this BUT an ACT OF WAR? If Putin shut off our power grid tomorrow — something he CAN DO apparently — we’d sue for peace immediately on whatever terms he dictated. We’d have to.

Imagine — a war fought and lost without a shot being fired.

Sound horrifyingly possible? Well, BE horrified — it’s happening. We’re living in. We are that frog slowly being boiled to death, completely unaware. Problem is, it isn’t us that’s being boiled away, it’s our Democracy.

Donald Trump knows the only thing standing between him and indictment for multiple crimes is a stupid Department of Justice rule meant to keep Spiro Agnew from pardoning Richard Nixon back during Watergate. Once out of office, Trump will be instantly indictable — and indicted. He has to fight tooth & nail to remain in office forever because the alternative will be criminal charges, prosecution and — cos he’s SO incredibly guilty — asset forfeiture. It’s a fact, being such a ginormous criminal, Trump has no incentive to leave power EVER.

It’s maddening that we’ve been so slow to see this — though Trump’s been sociopathic about it from the get-go. He’s projected every last bit of it (with remarkable candor actually) — that his presidency was totally illegitimate, that his election was “rigged”, that he is Putin’s bitch. He’s also projected from the start that he intends to stay in power forever. He’s told his followers that — and they love the idea.

Want to know the worst part of living through World War Three? It’s seeing so many Fifth Columns already fanning out (like in, say Oregon where armed militias SHUT DOWN THE STATE CAPITOL). It’s knowing that one of our broadcast networks is a propaganda wing for Trump — and therefore for Russia. What — it’s not bad enough we still have cable systems & satellite providers pumping RT into our homes? We need a “news” network propagandizing, too?

I think of our situation as being akin to the Hawaiians living at Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. The Japanese attacked at 7:22 a.m. — that’s when their first airplanes arrived and began dropping bombs. But, if we visited with those people at, say, 6:45 a.m. — and asked them — “Hey, are you at war with anyone?” They would have said no. That included Japan.

Just because you don’t know you’re at war doesn’t mean you aren’t. And just because a war wasn’t formally declared — well, bullets and bombs don’t care about your semantics. They’ll kill you even if you want to call them something kinder and gentler. You can call a bullet a marshmallow but when they bust that marshmallow inside your head, you’re dead.

Living Inside A False Narrative Is Stupid… So Why Do We Persist In Doing It?

A woman who doesn’t know the man she loves is cheating on her lives inside a false narrative — that her relationship is on solid ground.

A man unaware that a tumor is metastasizing inside of him is living a false narrative that he’s healthy and not doomed.

As they slept in their beds at 6:45, the morning of December 7, 1941, the citizens of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii were living inside a false narrative that our country was at peace with Japan and that war couldn’t possibly impact their lives. You don’t have to know the bullet is coming to get killed by it.

Christianity tries to sell a false narrative that the man who first uttered “Do Unto Others” lived a miraculous life — having a deity for a father and a virgin for a mother. Anyone who believes this actually happened and lives their life as if it did — they’re living inside a false narrative. You don’t have to believe the false narrative, by the way, to follow Jesus. Jesus never invented a false narrative (Paul did that), he just preached “Do Unto Others”.

We live inside the false narrative that Donald Trump “won” his election back in 2016 (even though he’s projected his own illegitimacy from the get-go because the secret that Russia won the election for him was too hard for him to keep).

We know for a fact that election 2016 wasn’t normal. We knew the night of the election — as reliably blue states began going inexplicably to Trump — that this election smelled. It wasn’t just losing that stunk. It was losing to such an obvious cheat.

Nothing we’ve learned since the election has disproven that conjecture. Take Russia out of the equation and Donald Trump doesn’t come close. And Russia dominated every bit of that equation. Russia received proprietary voter data from Paul Manafort; they weaponized it, turning it back on us as individualized Facebook ads that landed in the targeted voter’s Facebook feed. If these ads caused ONE voter to stay home — that’s one too many in my opinion. We know for a fact it was more than one.

Those voters were given a false narrative — about Hillary Clinton or the Democrats. It worked. Hillary won by more than 3 million popular votes — a victory by any real standard — the Electoral College being a throwback to slavery that, by design, overvalues rural voters while radically undervaluing urban voters. But we keep telling herself “she lost”. It’s insane to equate gaming the Electoral College with giving American voters what they voted for. The majority of us (not even including suppressed votes) voted for the exact opposite of what Donald Trump and the republican party have done.

But then, that was the point. Maintaining the false narrative that Trump won — that’s also the point. As is maintaining the false narrative the Mueller Report in any way exonerated him from either conspiracy with the Russians or egregious attempts to not only obstruct justice but circumvent it too.

Every time a journalist ascribes Trump’s victory in 2016 to anything other than Russia– they’re pitching a false narrative.

They’re pitching bullshit.

We Live In Remarkable Times… That’s Not A Good Thing

I write movies & TV shows for a living (and a book, too, which I just finished!) It’s not the most reliable way to pay the rent but when I do make a buck, I make it by making stuff up, writing it down and selling it. I take great pride in the fact that my imagination can go just about anywhere.

But no writer could possibly have made up the Time we live in. That’s not a revelation of course; I’m hardly the first person or writer to say that. But I might be the first writer to say out loud how much I resent that fact. It’s damned hard to come up with stories these days half as compelling as what’s on the news. A 240 year old experiment in self-government teeters on the brink of destruction. And we’ve got a front row seat.

There’s a famous scene in a great movie called “The Third Man”. Joseph Cotton stars as a Holly Martin, writer who goes to Vienna just after WWII because he believes his friend Harry Lime has died. Vienna is a divided city with a free side and a side behind Russian control. Harry Lime may have committed a crime — which explains the mystery surrounding whether or not Harry is really dead. Turns out (Spoiler Alert!) he’s not dead — he IS a criminal and he did fake his death so that he could hide out in the Soviet sector.

Orson Welles plays Harry who finally comes out of hiding to confront Holly — and to seduce Holly into coming over to the dark side and going into the black market with him. Holly turns him down which sets up the climax later when Holly tries (working with the British authorities) to lure Harry into a trap. But, before Holly says no, Harry delivers a great monologue (written by the book & screenplay’s author, Graham Greene). Write

Chaos seems to produce greatness in addition to chaos. An argument can be made that war itself has inspired some of the greatest statements of human artistic genius. Picasso’s Guernica comes to mind…

War movies, war literature, war art, war music (Beethoven’s Eroica — written with Napoleon in mind, that dedication was later withdrawn however), war everything — it makes us look deep inside ourselves for a few thoughtful seconds before we go back to killing and wholesale slaughter.

Another argument can be made that American comedy hasn’t been this robust since Richard Nixon was president. My point — there are benefits to living in Remarkable Times. There are laughs to be had — bitter ones, perhaps but — laughs all the same. There’s that feeling of “chumminess” we all feel when we hear the latest stupider-than-stupid thing Donald Trump said on TV or via Twitter and we all think “What an asshole!” at the very same time.

I didn’t used to be a news junkie. I was a daily consumer of news product but my diet was a lot more balanced back then before Trump “won” in 2016. I used to be a regular Howard Stern listener. I was hard core. But Trump winning changed everything for me. I couldn’t listen to characters I loved anymore because they were worried about trivial shit (funny but trivial) while the world was ending around us all. I have been news 24/7 ever since.

This is not good for us but the answer isn’t sticking our heads in the sand. The 75th anniversary of D-Day brought Tom Brokaw out into the light again — and his book The Greatest Generation. I grew up in the war’s shadow; my parents were the Greatest Generation’s children. A baby boomer, I grew up in the 1960’s, part of a generation that was, in a way, the diametric opposite of the Greatest Generation. We weren’t fighting a war, we were protesting it (well, to be fair, by the time I got to college, the Vietnam war was 5 years over and done with. We were still deep into our wound-licking phase.

Baby boomers, Gen-X-ers, Millennials — we’ve all lived through interesting times but not very interesting times. Yeah, yeah, the Soviet Union died — but it didn’t die spectacularly like Nazi Germany did. Until Donald Trump ran for president — and “won” (he didn’t — fact o’ life — he lost both the popular and he absolutely lost the EC too.) That’s what Robert Mueller’s report teases us with.

The Donald Trump story — and the corrupt Republicans story — and the we’re under cyber attack right now story — these are all remarkable stories all by themselves. Lucky us for getting gang-tackled by them all. This will get far, far worse before it starts to get better. When we get to the part where ALL the shit starts flying from ALL the nooks & crannies, this will get exponentially more ugly. Never mind the awful, treasonous things the republicans have all done, when the American public get a firm grip on what this story is — how deep, dark & horrible it is — and how the republicans continue to play them for suckers and rubes — this will turn thermo-nuclear.

Bill Barr and Donald Trump have succeeded in muddying a narrative they desperately needed to muddy. The Truth will not set them free. It will however send them to prison for the rest of their lives. It may even expose them to execution — still one of the punishments for treason. And, yes — this IS treason because ARE at war. We’re at Cyber War.

Oh — but it’s “undeclared”, you say? Well, it’s just as “undeclared” as the state of war that existed in Japan’s mind when it attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Just because the Americans being bombed by the Japanese didn’t know they were at war didn’t mean the bombs didn’t kill them just as dead. You don’t have to know you’re at war to BE at war.

I used to feel a lot more certain that I knew how this would turn out. I’m a lot less certain now. The pleasures of living in remarkable times have worn thin. I suspect we all long for this to end and for something we used to call “normalcy” to replace it (and reign for a thousand years if it wants to).

There’s a Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times (in other words, may you be inundated with chaos). We’re learning — the Chinese knew what they were talking about.