America Has Achieved A State Of “Intractable Absurdity” (But In Our Defense, We Were Born This Way)

Know why few things in America seem to make sense anymore? Because they don’t. Know why it feels like there’s no way to fix it (whatever the hell “it” is)? Because there is no way. “Insane Problem To Have”, meet “No Way To Fix It”. Have fun together!

There’s not a subject matter you can think of that the right wing hasn’t politicized for very political reasons. Voting is an act of patriotism. Protecting the right to vote therefore isn’t a political act, it’s an act of patriotism. And any attempt whatsoever to infringe upon any American’s right to vote in any way, shape or form is (quite literally) a crime! It’s not up for debate. It can’t be or, as Ben Franklin would point out, we don’t have a republic anymore because we couldn’t keep it. That Republicans turn everything into politics — for political reasons — is absurd!

Everything about Donald Trump’s rise from the shit heap of his genetics to the presidency drips with corruption (and absurdity). Trump is a vile, corrupt, racist and a serial rapist. It’s because Russia MADE Trump POTUS (and the GOP knew it!). Take Russia completely out of the Trump equation (out of the GOP equation, too) and Trump does not even enter the race. If you took every last dollar of dirty Russian money (that Trump was laundering) out of the picture? No one steps in to save Trump. Instead, Trump loses every bit of daddy’s empire and ends up broke. Some other Republican hump wins the nominiation and gets creamed by Hillary Clinton.

Mark Burnett owes America an explanation, an apology and every penny of profit he’s gotten from “The Apprentice”. Burnett (along with Tony Schwartz in “Art Of The Deal” but at least Tony apologized) invented “Donald Trump, Master Businessman”. Outside of the idiotic TV show, no such character exists.

Racism was Trump’s sales pitch as it had become the GOP’s. That’s what made Trump’s absurdity palatable to Republicans. They were totally willing to put up with every bit of Trump’s racism because they liked his economic policies. See how that works? Put a little coin in their pocket and suddenly you could murder nuns, orphans and puppies on prime time TV and they’d still have your back. Throw racism into the mix and now you’ve made everyone happy since, really, racism is now the GOP’s organizing principle. The Dixiecrats and Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” subsumed the Republicans long, long ago. Calling the GOP “the party of Lincoln” these days is to be cruelly ironic. And absurd.

In America’s defense though, we dropped the ball at the snap.

“All men are created equal” starts off in need of a rewrite. For starters, the white, Christian, land owning men who penned it didn’t mean it. Apparently, some men only counted as three-fifths of a man so, clearly, NOT all men are created equal especially those poor bastards. America’s founders cutting a deal with slavery was absurd. It’s like good cutting a deal with evil. Who will walk away more compromised in the end? Do you really have to ask?

Republican Glenn Youngkin making “alternative race theory” a campaign topic is intractably absurd since no such thing is taught in the schools that would concern any of the people who insist they’re really “concerned” about this. In fact, as news video showed, at least one Youngkin supporter was vehemently opposed to teaching our young-uns CRT even though he couldn’t say what it was — only that whatever it was, he didn’t like it! That is beyond absurd. And how the hell does one “fix it”?

That’s the problem. It can’t be fixed. It’s intractable. And it makes no sense. It’s absurd.

But, what if there were a fix… Let’s not go nuts here — it can’t be fixed all the way but what if we could finagle this in a way that knocked down absurdity’s impetus and bought us some time to find a more permanent solution? One thing we can do is prosecute those at the top of the Ponzi scheme — the ones bamboozling all the foot soldiers into marching along. Let’s start with the January 6 insurrectionists.

Even the judges adjudicating the assembly line of foot soldier miscreants are appalled by the Department of Justice’s “slap on the wrist” approach. That’s not an admonishment to a seditionist, it’s an open invitation to try again (and next time, get it right!). If the frontline prosecutors are simply using the lowest level useful idiots to flip the next tier up, they need to pick up the pace. One can be a little circumspect while prosecuting the mob — they’re criminality isn’t threatening to overthrow the republic. But, the stone cold fact is, everything about the insurrection, the power grab, the refusal to accept the peaceful transfer of power is a product of treason.

Treason, treason, treason, treason, TREASON!

A president of the United States committed treason — right in front of us. and his entire political party co-conspired with him. That should be crazy talk — conspiracy theory wack-a-doodle gibberish. Except it really happened.

How absurd!

Of Bond Villains And Presidents

Some of us used to joke how much Donald Trump was like having a Bond Villain as president. Been a while since that was funny. That’s the problem with irony: it can cut like a knife. One of the reasons our news media cannot wrap its head around Trump — to this very day — is because they lack the imagination to “see” Trump. Because they’ve convinced themselves that “both sides do it”, they’ve already got it in their heads that if Trump hadn’t done it first, some Democrat would have done it anyway. So, whatever Trump is doing — it’s not “corrupt”, it’s not a “crime”, it’s not even “treason”. It’s “the new new normal” because this (apparently) is what “both sides do”.

No, it is not.

Ronald Reagan was the first “movie star president”, but he wasn’t the first POTUS to use “movie star thinking” to win a presidency. Jacqueline Kennedy may have associated JFK’s 1,000 days as POTUS with “Camelot” after he was assassinated, but the idea stuck: a story about our present fit snugly with a story about a mythological past that never was. The Kennedy White House had all the same sparkle as Hollywood. Why, Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe even famously sang “Happy Birthday” to him. Americans like that. A lot. We especially like it when you do things positive with that star power. Or convince us that you are even if you’re not.

Back to Reagan. He understood the seductive qualities of smoke plus mirror. Stories can be as real as reality if you want them to be. Style over substance is not a new idea. Trickle down economics, coming from Reagan, was like the last little bit of a movie star’s gold-plated essence seeping into ordinary Americans’ grey, humdrum lives. It doesn’t seem like Reagan was anywhere near as cynical as the rest of his party. He may really have seen America as some “shining city on a hill”. Problem was (and remains) — the shining city in Reagan’s mind was all painted on a backdrop.

Ronald Reagan wasn’t the first person to get confused by Hollywood into thinking his version of America was “America”. In the terrific “An Empire Of Their Own: How The Jews Invented Hollywood”, Neal Gabler theorizes that our whole notion of “America” is, in large part, a fiction invented by Jewish movie studio owners (with plenty of Jewish writers and directors, actors and other technicians assisting) to, in essence, give them something into which to synthesize. Having spent almost two thousand years as “outsiders”, Jews suddenly had a chance, Gabler thinks (and, personally, I like his thinking), to invent a world that might more willingly accept them.

Having spent a career in the “making shit up” business, I’m keenly aware of the media’s power to invent not just worlds that don’t exist but ideas that, without the smoke and mirrors, couldn’t hold water. Time travel, for instance. A lot of “why” people think it’s possible is because stories have said it is. Those stories weren’t based on any sort of physics. They were based on “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…!”.

Trump is even more of an invention than Reagan was. Trump’s dad — Fred — knew his son was a “lox” as a negotiator. And anyway, making deals you never intend to honor is not actually “negotiating”. If Mark Burnett never imagined “The Apprentice” then none of Vladimir Putin’s investment in Trump would ever have paid off. But, Putin understands how propaganda works. He knows how to use it: destroy our common idea of “reality” then use the ensuing chaos to invent a “new reality”. Like, say, one where Donald Trump isn’t corrupt or a traitor.

Bond villains aren’t supposed to make you think. Even if they have some theoretically correct point of view — humans need to be stopped from destroying the planet — Bond Villains always go about it too heavy-handedly. I always wonder as I watch Bond movies, who’s cash flowing this guy? Who’s paying for the high tech set up and the gadgets and the rocketry and the people! Think of the payroll a guy like Blofeld has to maintain. Some of those people are super qualified, too. They don’t come cheaply. And is there any sort of profit-sharing involved? What kind of benefits does a Blofeld offer people he hopes will willing break the law with and for him? How do people who work for Blofeld report their income?

I know — it’s stupid to worry about things like this — he’s just a Bond Villain FFS! But then, I’m a John Le Carre fan, not an Ian Fleming fan. Oh, sure — in my youth, Bond was great fun (but then, Sean Connery was the Bond of my youth and movies like “From Russia With Love” remain the canon’s gold standard because they keep Bond’s world more real than surreal. I wonder if “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” suffered from an emotional Bond at the ending (he openly cries when his lover is shot dead — by Blofeld) or a more or less lackluster Bond (George Lazenby) trying to fill in for the recently departed-from-the-franchise Connery.

Le Carre (one of 2020’s cruel losses) based his Circus on the very real British spy agency he worked for. His spies weren’t about adventure or busting super villains, they were about betrayal — personal and tribal. The (usually) unspoken mantra underlying most of Le Carre’s work: “Love is the thing you can still betray”.

Though personally incapable of love, Donald Trump is much more a Le Carre villain than a Bond Villain. Trump’s villainy is pure betrayal. Not of love, but of everything else — everything everyone else loves. We know who his backers are. Even his political party knows who Trump’s backers are — the backers who aren’t them, I mean. The backer who holds them all in their thrall. The backer who’s been running this show since Trump was declared the “winner” in 2016: Russia.

No writer sitting down to write this, what we’ve been living, as a Bond movie could get away with it. It’s relentlessly over the top for starters. Who the hell acts like this — outside of a Bond movie — and not one of the good ones? Turns out, Donald Trump does. His whole party does.

In the Bond movies, the villain either dies spectacularly or gets away to fight another day. Soon enough, another cash flowed Super Villain will step up to fill the vacuum (having apparently fooled his investors into believing he could do what all the other supervillains couldn’t — deliver a return on their investment). We never get to see actual justice delivered — the kind that would flow from We The People. Bond movies don’t seem to exist inside the same democracy we do. Or did…

That’s what’s on our plate: how do we deal with the Bond Villain in front of us? He may not be a very good Bond Villain, but he’s ours. In fact, Trump’s such a crap Bond Villain that he doesn’t even qualify. He’s more a small screen TV villain punching above his weight — getting away with it — but only until now.

Come January 20, 2021, we will begin to write Trump the ending he deserves. We will challenge every single pardon he’s issued because we must. Trump’s whole presidency is based on treason — take Putin out of the 2016 equation and Trump never gets through the primaries. Just like traitors can’t legally become president, whatever they do WHILE president — that also doesn’t count as “legal”. How could it?

By obstructing justice, Trump and the GOP have tried to keep the rest of America from learning what the REAL story of the last four plus years has been. That obstruction is about to hit a wall. A rejuvenated Department of Justice dedicated to Justice (rather than to being a mob boss president’s consigliere), asking hard questions under oath — restarting every investigation Bill Barr or Rod Rosenstein stopped (especially the counter-intelligence investigations into Trump’s relationships with Russia) — will change the landscape significantly — just by asking hard questions under oath.

Anyway — Trump was never the real Bond Villain at the heart of this story that Mitch McConnell. Mitch after all is the link to the answer to my questions — who pays for these Bond Villains and all their toys? Turns out? Our villains are so bad — and so real? They put Bond villains to shame.

Donald Trump Is A Racist, Misogynist, Corrupt Traitor — But Does He Have To Be So Bloody STUPID About It?

Greenland? The Effing-Moron-In-Chief wants to buy Greenland? Is that so the Space Force has somewhere to train?

We knew on election day 2016 when Trump was declared “winner” that something bizarre had just happened. We felt ourselves — the election — our future being hijacked in real time. We knew in our guts that this didn’t add up. It was too horrible to be real. Worse — it was too stupid.

Donald Trump is a lot of things — none of them good: he’s racist. He’s a misogynist. He’s a rapist and a con man and a traitor.

Donald Trump probably can’t spell the word “strategic”. He has no “master plan” for anything. FFS, he wasn’t even a good businessman (that’s an invention of Mark Burnett’s to justify “The Apprentice”). Trump’s whole MO is like a bad improv where he’s already flop-sweating as he goes for the lame dick joke — and blows the punch line.

Yes, Trump’s racism and greed and rapiness and corruption and heartlessness and cruelty and treason are galling. But what makes every bit of it so much worse is the wrapper it all comes in — the package of pure stupid.

Before we can even get to the horrible, chewy center of Trumpism, first we have to get past the “candy-coating” of raging idiocy. What was it Rex Tillerson called his boss? Not just a moron — “A fucking moron”.

Donald Trump is a circus side show geek who’s taken over the side show then the circus — then the whole town where the circus had set up shop. Something wicked AND STUPID “this way came”. It’s the stupid that makes the wicked so much harder to take. We have a Bond Villain as president — but it’s not a good Bond Villain, it’s a cut rate one.

Instead of a “Blofeld”, we got a “Schmofeld”.

Though he can’t tell a joke to save his bloated, orange life, Trump himself is the biggest punch line to ever walk the planet. FFS — pick an interview. Pick a piece of video tape (don’t pick a book — Trump didn’t write it). I dare you to get all the way through it without either groaning, sighing, rolling your eyes or slapping your forehead in exasperation. Yes, because whatever Trump said is such a blatant lie — but more because the lie is so easily disprovable — and so goddamned stupid on its face.

The Trumpian emperor isn’t just naked, he’s oblivious of how naked he is. How nakedly stupid he is. Donald Trump thinks this is how rich guys live —

Stupid, right? On a scale of one to ten — it’s a 50.

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.