Archive for the ‘Deep political thought’ Category

Something wicked this way comes

January 19, 2017

• Editor’s note: What follows was intended to be a rambling kickoff to a Counter-Inaugural Podcast at Radio Free Dogpatch, but my sidekick Hal Walter developed a bad case of previous commitments, so I’m laying it on you old-school instead. Tomorrow it will be radio silence from yours truly here and on Twitter. But there will be an open-mic post suitable for commentary, so feel free to chime in with your thoughts on what this particular changing of the guard means for you, and for the rest of us. Finally, a tip of the carny’s boater to Ray Bradbury for the headline. It’s a pity — or is it? — that he didn’t live to see Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show come to life.

We're all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

We’re all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

IT’S BEEN A STRUGGLE, TRYING TO FIND WORDS to describe how I feel about what’s going to be happening on Friday — and afterward — in Washington, D.C.

I’ve watched this changing of the guard since before I was eligible to vote, and it rarely goes well for progressives.

In 1969, when Richard Nixon was preparing to take an oath of office he had already violated by undermining the Paris peace talks, the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam staged a three-day counter-inaugural that proved quite the bash, both literally and figuratively.

Yippies Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman brought a revolutionary-theater sideshow to the circus, proposing to inaugurate their own president, a 145-pound hog named Pigasus, with predictable results. The Left immediately set about eating itself alive — Splitters! — rocks, bottles, horseshit and punches were thrown, cops and protesters alike took a beating, 119 people got a tour of the hoosegow, and as is traditional in such matters, both sides claimed victory.

Nixon, of course, claimed the White House. Twice. You may recall how that turned out.

I found it all fascinating, from a safe distance, and when I became eligible to vote in time for the 1972 elections, I tried to register as a member of the Youth International Party, the proper name for the improper Yippies. Never happen, said the county clerk in Bibleburg, and I had to settle for signing up as an “independent.” But Hunter S. Thompson was actually in attendance at the ’69 inaugural, and he didn’t exactly come away with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart.

Recounting the experience for The Boston Globe in February 1969, Thompson wrote: “My first idea was to load up on LSD and cover the Inauguration that way, but the possibilities were ominous: a scene that bad could only be compounded to the realm of mega-horrors by something as powerful as acid.”

As Thompson watched the deal go down during what he called “a king-hell bummer” and “that wretched weekend,” he saw “a new meanness on both sides … and no more humor.”

“Suddenly I felt cold, and vaguely defeated,” he wrote. “More than eight years ago, in San Francisco, I had stayed up all night to watch the election returns … and when Nixon went down I felt like a winner.

“Now, on this Monday night in 1969, President Nixon was being honored with no less than six Inaugural Balls. I brooded on this for a while, then decided I would go over to the Hilton, later on, and punch somebody. Almost anybody would do … but hopefully I could find a police chief from Nashville or some other mean geek. In the meantime, there was nothing to do but go back to the hotel and watch the news on TV … maybe something funny, like film clips of the bastinado.”

• • •

Neither Hunter S. Thompson nor Dick Nixon are with us this time around, but another pair of Sixties relics you may have thought were likewise long gone — LSD and psilocybin — are making something of a comeback as potential treatments for whatever bad scene may be unfolding on the backside of your forehead (or in front of it).

In December, The New York Times reported on a couple of studies that showed “clinically significant reductions” in both anxiety and depression in cancer patients who took synthetic psilocybin.

The studies, which the Times called “the largest and most meticulous among a handful of trials to explore the possible therapeutic benefit of psilocybin,” found the beneficial effects persisted for months.

One patient, who had just completed treatment for stage-3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, described what he called “an epiphany.”

“I’m not anxious about cancer anymore,” he said. “I’m not anxious about dying.”

Another, whose treatment for acute myeloid leukemia left him with graft-versus-host disease, said the experience left him with “a greater sense of peace with what might come.”

“I’m very grateful, beyond words, for this trial,” he added.

And on January 14, The Atlantic ran a Q&A with Ayelet Waldman, whose new book “A Really Good Day” describes her microdosing with LSD to self-correct what she described as “a pretty significant depression.”

She had tried the traditional remedies served up by the medical-industrial complex — antidepressants, ADHD drugs, SSRIs, you name it — but a couple drops of diluted and highly illegal L-S-Dizzy is what did the trick for her.

Said Waldman: “I felt happier or at least not as profoundly depressed almost immediately the very first day I took it.”

Funniest thing, hey? About 10 years after the good Doctor Thompson was mulling over that Nixon inaugural, a friend and I offered an acid-soaked homage to his fear-and-loathing tour of Las Vegas. But we didn’t have his stamina, and when a jai-alai match at the old MGM Grand started to look like a “Star Wars” shootout we got the fuck out of there at a very high speed indeed, driving all the way back to Alamosa — the Brain Damage Express, via Kaibab and Page, the Four Corners and the terrifying Wolf Creek Pass, with the usual horrible weather and without the enhancements that were still a few years down the road.

But we sure as shit weren’t depressed. We were simply seeing a whole lot of things we’d rather not have and thought a case of beer, a long night’s drive and a plate of his mom’s enchiladas might mellow us out.

Forty years later I can make my own enchiladas but I’m not so sure about the acid. I still have my copy of “The Anarchist Cookbook,” but I was never much at chemistry.

• • •

All trips, both good and bad, come to an end, sooner or later. And in May, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will break down the big top in May for the final time after 146 years.

According to The New York Times, Feld Entertainment, the producer of the circus, cited rising operating costs and falling ticket sales, a condition that worsened after Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey dropped elephants from its show last year.

CEO Kenneth Feld told The Associated Press that moving the show by rail, providing a traveling school for performers’ children and other expenses from a bygone era made carrying on a losing proposition.

“It’s a different model … we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price,” he said.

And let’s not forget that old devil competition. There’s another, bigger circus coming to town, with a permanent base of operations in Washington, D.C., the financial support of the State, and free worldwide access via social media. Plus elephants, too!

The Greatest Show On Earth is now an angry orange clown with a Twitter account. Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry. …

Shit and bad luck

January 13, 2017

 

Today, Friday the 13th, should be Inauguration Day.

In support of my argument I refer you to the renowned political scientist George Carlin.

Sky yi yi

January 12, 2017
Steven Spielberg with his trademark boiling clouds ain't got nothin' on the real deal.

Steven Spielberg with his trademark boiling clouds ain’t got nothin’ on the real deal.

I’m glad I saw this before Darth Cheeto’s “press conference” yesterday. Otherwise I might have thought it was God coming down to dick-punch us all for putting this two-bit totalitarian in the Oval Office.

Sure puts the “dick” in “dictator,” doesn’t he?

Wet work

January 11, 2017
Going down? Don't you wish. ...

Going down, tovarisch?

I can’t imagine why anyone thinks it impossible that Russia might have compromising information about the Pestilence-Elect.

Clearly, we could do with a deeper dive into this sordid pool of intelligence, or the lack thereof. And personally, I’d like to see the matter given at least as much attention as the Case of the Kenyan Crypto-Mooslim Socialist Usurper’s Birth Certificate.

But while we await further developments, let’s consider what we already know.

First, Darth Cheeto is a fellow who pretty much does as he pleases. Also, he thinks he’s (a) smarter than the average bear and (2) invulnerable thanks to his battle-tested squadron of pinstriped flying monkeys. (“Release the lawyers!”)

Prideful he is. What is it that pride goeth before? Yoda?

“A fall.”

Ding ding ding ding ding!

The Russians have a phrase for this sort of person: “useful idiot.” But from a certain perspective, the Pestilence-Elect — or, as some of the Twitterati have begun calling him, PEEOTUS — doesn’t even need to be an actual stooge, unless we’re talking Moe, Larry or Curly.

No, all he needs to be is a distraction.

Vladimir Putin clearly considers himself a wiseguy, and like the Pestilence-Elect is something of a developer, with blueprints of his own. If I were such a person and had kinky video of Darth Cheeto, I’d YouTube it about 10 seconds after his tiny hand comes off the Bible on Jan. 20, then sit back, pour a delicious beverage, and watch the United States spend a few years eating itself alive.

“It’s Stoli time.”

 

Greatest Hits of 2016, Part 5: From balls to nuts

December 31, 2016

• Editor’s note: As the year winds down, I’m taking a page from the mainstream-media playbook and reprinting a handful of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Today’s final finger was published in December, the last issue of 2016.

The gang views with alarm in cinematic fashion.

The gang views with alarm in cinematic fashion.

Tour de Trump, v2.0:
Does this president
make our heads look fat?

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

“Stuck In the Middle,” by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan

By Patrick O’Grady

The day after the election a young reader emailed to say he hoped I would have a safe trip to New Zealand, adding, “With any luck we will not hear from you or the Clinton’s ever again.”

I feel confident calling him “young” because we olds know the difference between the plural and the possessive. Public school vs. home school, don’t you know.

As to whether he’s a “reader,” that’s an educated guess. I suppose his mom could have read him my column down in the basement, if he had one. A mom, I mean. Trailers don’t have basements.

But I digress.

Anyway, I’m not moving to New Zealand. Who wants a job herding hobbits? (Apologies to Hurben.) I’ll stay here, brush the fur on my own toes, and wait for the next wizard to pop round.

Mars is out, too. I’ve seen “The Martian” since that last column and I am definitely not into farming with my own poo. Better to sell it to some publisher and spend the proceeds at the Whole Paycheck, where everything is grown in unicorn milk and honey.

>> Click here to read the entire column.

‘Cabal, intrigue and corruption’

December 11, 2016
He's not president yet.

He’s not president yet.

Charles P. Pierce engages an Airbnb in The Neighborhood of Make-Believe from which he discusses one way in which we might yet be spared the dubious gold-plated presidency of Donald of Orange.

It’s not entirely unbelievable. While Der Trumpenführer may have powerful friends in Russia (Делайте Америку великой ещё раз!), he has made more than a few comparably powerful enemies right here at home. And given that the the swamp has its own long-established and deeply held notions about governance and personal enrichment, it would not astonish me to see the Electoral College hand the whole sordid mess over to the Congress and say: “Here, you deal with it. We’re off to the pub for a stiff drink or six.”

The House would then pick a president and the Senate a vice president, and then the fun would really begin.

Charlie cites Federalist 68, which says, among other things, that the Electoral College was intended to avoid just the sort of mess in which the Republic finds itself.

Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?

Brother Pierce continues: “We are a month away from inaugurating a manifestly unqualified and ethically unfit man as president of the United States, a man who has lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes, who already is reneging on almost every promise he made while campaigning, who steadfastly refuses to be transparent about who holds the note on his finances and who is on his way to raising conflicts of interest to stratospheric levels, and who now may very well be the willing bobo for a foreign dictator.”

He also says that the matter “is the most stark challenge to a free people that has arisen in my lifetime,” and I agree. Whether we’re up to meeting it is another matter altogether.

WWFP (What Would Frank Play)? Part III

December 7, 2016

As the Pestilence-Elect uses the economy as a sex toy, I expect FZ might perform the entire album “We’re Only In It For the Money.”

Snow cat

November 29, 2016
I don't think I need to break out the shovel for this one.

I don’t think I need to break out the shovel for this one.

It probably doesn’t qualify as the first snow of the year, but we finally got a dusting at El Rancho Pendejo.

The temp remains below freezing as of 9 a.m., and I’m having a very hard time getting excited about going grocery shopping. But we’re inching our way downward through the pantry toward the basics — beans, rice, chile, etc. — and something, as they say, must be done.

I could slap together a pretty interesting vegetarian combo platter with what I have on hand — bean burritos smothered in green and sprinkled with cheddar, sides of Mexican rice and posole — but that would just kick the ol’ can down the road.

Speaking of roads and cans that need kicking along same, some of us have been having an invigorating discussion in comments about the big bad feddle gummint and what to do about it. I don’t want the blog to devolve entirely into a civics course, but just for shits and giggles, let’s take it on faith that the government is too big and intrusive and our tax burden too onerous.

So how do we shrink the federal government to a manageable size? What would you cut? Whose ox gets gored?

And keep in mind that we are not just cutting functions here. We’re shitcanning people. Our fellow Americans. They enjoy their combo platters, too, as do the folks that sell and serve them, so spare them a thought in your calculations.

As of 2014 the U.S. government employed some 2.7 million people. Walmart only has 1.5 million or so on payroll in the United States; Amazon’s headcount is about 240,000 folks, or about twice as many as Apple.

So I don’t see all these sidelined federales landing cushy gigs moving boxes around an Amazon warehouse, greeting the penny-pinchers at Sam’s Club, or failing to fix my 2009 iMac at the Albuquerque Apple Store.

 

Cybrrrrrrrrrr Monday

November 28, 2016
Baby, it's cold outside.

Baby, it’s cold outside.

Still no snow here in the Duke City as the Thanksgiving weekend lurches to an overstuffed close. But it’s cold out there — 29 degrees as of java time — and there’s white stuff in the forecast, if not yet on the ground.

Elsewhere, things are heating up a tad. Having sold the rubes a bill of goods, the national media are now gleefully pointing out the dings, dents, leaks and creaks in the gold-plated machinery that is the Pestilence-Elect.

Seems he’s a liar, and a walking, tweeting conflict of interest with his short-fingered paws in some very questionable pockets. His chief adviser is a white-nationalist propagandist and political opportunist. And he’s larding up his administration with the sort of rich, connected honkies you’d expect from pretty much any ol’ rich, connected honky the GOP managed to shoehorn into the White House.

Huh. Who knew? Only anyone who’d been paying attention, is all.

Turns out that if you want to drain a swamp, it’s probably a bad idea to hire the guy who likes the swamp, knows everyone who lives there, and owns a fair chunk of it.

As another famous swamp-dweller once noted, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Who’s your daddy?

November 14, 2016
Knock knock. Who's there?

Knock knock. Who’s there? Oh, shit! Oh shit who?

My parents never divorced, though I sometimes wished they would.

We were not a close-knit clan, especially after I hit my teenage years. Mom and Dad didn’t seem to like each other much by then, and being an ungrateful little shit I found them an impediment to self-exploration, so I spent a lot of time away from home, either living in my head or completely out of it.

Some of my friends’ parents had split up, and their lives seemed very different from mine. Sometimes it was the dad who had left, and sometimes the mom, but no matter which player had left the game there was always a hole in the disciplinary line you could drive a Mack truck through. A one-parent household infested by teenagers can give you a few hints about how anarchy might play out in the real world.

And if mom or dad remarried? Sometimes that could get even wilder, because when conventional weapons failed the kid could always drop The Big One: “You’re not my [insert absent birth parent here]!” That would always throw a 20-megaton monkey wrench into the social order and open up a little maneuvering room, though it also left Ground Zero slightly radioactive for a good long while, if not forever.

Fast-forward a few years and it was my friends who were getting divorced, sometimes more than once. Heartbreak, vitriol and vengeance; wash, rinse and repeat. Families shattered and scattered to the four winds as I observed from a different perspective, but still a safe if not exactly comfortable distance.

Now here we are on the brink of a national breakup, and I think I’m finally starting to get a personal feel for the experience.

Dad seemed OK, an eat-your-spinach type and a bit of a geek, to be sure, plus a little too shameless about thumbing through your journal to see what you were really up to while you were pretending to be a good citizen.  Still, he was smart, and he tried to be cool, and sometimes he even succeeded.

But one day he’s gone and this other dude is sitting in his chair.

You have brothers and sisters, and some are saying how they’re glad Old Dad is gone and how New Dad is a real wild man, works in TV or real estate or something, and anyway he has a lot of money and we’re all gonna get some. And some others are saying, no, fuck this guy, he talks a line of shit but that’s all it is, and have you noticed he never really seems to go to an office or anything? Plus his kids are all dicks and his friends are all creeps, and we don’t like the way he looks at our littlest sister.

For sure he thinks he’s tough, tough enough to shove your brothers around, anyway, especially the adopted one. And you know one day soon he’s gonna have a go at you, too, and he looks soft, but he’s still pretty big and it’s been a long time since you got into a fight.

And as you look around the table, waiting for the deal to finally go down, that’s when you realize that some of your brothers and sisters are OK, some are assholes, and the rest don’t give a shit who Dad is or what he does as long as they don’t miss the next episode of “Game of Thrones.”