Archive for the ‘Deep political thought’ Category

Some like it hot

September 17, 2020

Lessee, there’s freedom of the press, freedom of speech,
and freedom to run like hell from the cops with their heat ray. Got it.

H.G. Wells got it wrong. Mars isn’t the problem.

Before the feds drove protesters from Lafayette Square in June, according to an Army National Guard major who was there, the Defense Department’s top military police officer in the Washington region emailed officers in the D.C. National Guard to ask whether the unit had “a microwave-like weapon called the Active Denial System, which was designed by the military to make people feel like their skin is burning when in range of its invisible rays.”

According to The Washington Post:

The technology, also called a “heat ray,” was developed to disperse large crowds in the early 2000s but was shelved amid concerns about its effectiveness, safety and the ethics of using it on human beings.

Pentagon officials were reluctant to use the device in Iraq. In late 2018, The New York Times reported, the Trump administration had weighed using the device on migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border — an idea shot down by Kirstjen Nielsen, then the Homeland Security secretary, citing humanitarian concerns.

But in the email, on which DeMarco was copied, the lead military police officer in the National Capital Region wrote the ADS device “can provide our troops a capacity they currently do not have, the ability to reach out and engage potential adversaries at distances well beyond small arms range, and in a safe, effective, and nonlethal manner.”

Federal police ultimately were unable to obtain a heat ray device — or an LRAD — during the early days of protests in D.C., according to the Defense Department official.

“During the early days,” hey? Don’t forget to wear your Alcoa cammies when you’re out smashing the state, boys and girls. And spray yourself with a little olive oil, maybe stuff a few onions, taters, and carrots into your undies. The “Martians” are going to need a lunch break at some point.

Dump the bosses off your back

September 7, 2020

 

And a happy Labor Day to you and yours, comrades.

• One Big Union: The Industrial Workers of the World.

• Fascist v. centrist: A new “people’s party?”

• Utah Phillips: The Long Memory.

• New Mexicans on the dole: A Labor Day like no other.

• Lost wages: Income shrinks along with unions.

From here to eternity

September 4, 2020

Green now, sure, but the gold is just around the corner.

Don’t let the green leaves fool you. It’s September out there. Sixty degrees at 8 a.m. in Albuquerque, and Old Man Gloom goes up in smoke at 9 p.m. tonight in Fanta Se.

Speaking of burns, approximately nobody, save the Volk wearing their MAGA hats a couple-three sizes too small, was surprised by Jeffrey Goldberg’s piece in The Atlantic describing Adolf Twitler’s thoughts on the “losers” and “suckers” who died for their country instead of blackjacking it in some dark alley and going through its pockets.

Charlie Pierce has some thoughts of his own regarding the Good Soldiers who continued to work for the craven sonofabitch, knowing full well that this is how he sees them and theirs.

They took an oath to defend the Constitution, not to hold their tongues until they could get a book deal as a reckless vandal takes the Republic down, brick by brick. Of all the people whom history will account as being complicit in the attempted demolition of constitutional government, I rank them ahead even of the invertebrate Republicans in the United States Senate.

Sixty days until we get a chance to start rebuilding the Republic. It seems like an eternity.

Getting Nazty in North Carolina

August 24, 2020

The GOP goosesteps into the spotlight this week.

More than three stooges this time, though.

Off to the races

August 21, 2020

Well, ladeez an’ gennulmens, there you have it.

In a perfect world this would not be my idea of the ideal progressive ticket. But we’re more than a few ZIP codes away from perfect.

The gibbering gobshite besmirching the Oval Office at present is only a secondary infection of the body politic. The primary ailment is a political/economic system designed to shovel wealth upward to people who already have too much of it.

They get their shining city on a hill. We get the big hole in the ground. Hey, the landfill has to go somewhere. Also, the graveyard. Coffee break’s over, bitches. That moola ain’t gonna shovel itself.

Louis C.K. is not a gent I’m fond of citing lately, but he was spot on when he had Kurt, a nihilistic barfly in “Horace and Pete,” describe what Adolf Twitler’s supporters wanted: not to fix the system, but to destroy it.

I can dig it. It feels good to break things. In the short term, anyway. Cleaning up afterward is a chore, though, and then you have to either fix or replace what you broke. Especially if it’s something you need, like the government or the economy.

I don’t expect miracles from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We’re just hiring another cleanup crew here, is all.

They’re both pragmatic pols, and they don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. We can expect them to lean our way for a while, even after they win in November. If they win in November. And if we give them a Congress that functions. Lots of moving parts in this machine.

But we’re going to have to keep an eye on them, make sure they’re shoveling, and in the proper direction, too.

And while Joe and Kamala do the scutwork, the rest of us need to think long and hard about what this country needs to be, and how it came to be what it is.

Write what you no, no, no, no, no

August 19, 2020

Miss Mia Sopaipilla keeps an eye out for terrorist hummingbirds.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla, Herself, and I have not been watching the Democratic National Convention.

If you know you’re going in for a colonoscopy, do you really need a preview of coming attractions? Can’t we skip the short subjects and move on to the feature?

“Well, the good news is, we think we’ve located your head.”

I know, I know — there have been a couple zingers suitable for endless repetition, the best so far coming from Ms. Obama. And MoJo’s Kevin Drum wonders whether the virtual convention might replace the MeatWorld model, which was basically just a cumbersome, volatile, prime-time campaign ad anyway.

The pace is livelier than live conventions; more people get to speak since their segments can be more tightly controlled; and in an era of media sophistication I’ll bet viewers like it better. They know perfectly well how it’s being put together and they don’t mind.

Maybe so. But I think that in “normal” times people still like to gather in their little groups and rub elbows, surreptitiously trading greenbacks and gossip. Hell, sometimes even I miss Interbike, if only because it got me out of the fucking house.

An example from the monkey*

August 16, 2020

Heading down Spain. If I’d had a little more tread I’d have stayed on High Desert and picked up the short stretch of dirt to the Embudito trailhead.

Well, we don’t have any fire tornadoes swirling through the neighborhood, so I’m gonna go out on a limb and call it a pretty pleasant day.

Herself was busy with this, that, and the other, so I slipped out for a solo ride on the old DBR Prevail TT, which doesn’t see much daylight anymore.

It was my road-racing bike Back in the Day®, when I still did what I called “road racing” and actual road racers called “getting shelled.” So it was a pleasant change from the usual 32-pound touring machine. Even a no-hoper like me feels frisky on a 20-pound bike.

So we climbed some hills, and then some more hills, and I didn’t even need the 34×25, because I’d left a dozen pounds of bike back in the garage.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have their own hill to climb starting tomorrow. I don’t see a virtual convention crushing it, eyeballs-wise. The traditional dog-and-another-dog show has rarely been what I’d call must-see TV. Not even the Yippies could put some zip into this mutt.

Anyway, the GOP has stolen their best bit, what with running a pig for president not once, but twice.

* “The higher it climbs, the more you see of its behind. — St. Bonaventure, “Conferences on the Gospel of John.”

Executive ordure

August 8, 2020

“Nah, that’s not chicken shit. That’s chicken salad. Enjoy!”

The U.S. Constitution is a poor defense against a ruthless huckster hellbent on selling snake oil to the rubes.

“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriation made by Law. …”

“Fuck you. Sue me. And guess who pays for the lawyers?”

100 days

July 26, 2020

Is it a sleeping bag if you can’t sleep?

One hundred days. That’s how close we are to the next U.S. presidential election. And in his weekly newsletter, Charles P. Pierce notes:

We are prepared neither for an election in the middle of a pandemic, nor to cope with the mechanisms being constructed to ratfck an election in the middle of a pandemic, up to and including armed and anonymous troopers on the street corner outside the polling place. And, hell, in a country that seems incapable of doing anything of substance any more anyway, learned helplessness is fairly easy to, well, learn.

Helplessness and hubris may be our two greatest enemies. And they have the full support of the 24/7 news cycle.

“The shit monsoon has swept us all out to sea! Here, you’re gonna need this anvil!”

“What’s that off the port bow? Tom Hanks commanding a destroyer, ready to lead our ragtag convoy to safety? No, it’s just Daffy Uncle Joe in a dinghy, but he hardly stutters at all, and his son’s only a little bit crooked, so no need to panic. Unless you can’t swim.” (Cue the “Jaws” theme.”)

“We’re all fucked!” may be accurate, if only as a self-fulfilling prophecy. But as slogans go, it’s not in a league with “Give me liberty or give me death!”

“But look at the polls!” is likewise unhelpful. Look at them all you want, take whatever solace they may provide. But remember, the only numbers that count are the ones that come out of the actual election. That’s why we hold ’em. To find out who won. Occasionally we are surprised.

Here’s the thing. It’s something of a Zen koan: You can’t bag it. Because it’s not in the bag.

By all means, follow the news and the polls. But not blindly. Keep one eye on the compass and the other on the crew. Some of this lot need a good flogging come Nov. 3. Doesn’t matter who’s captain if the crew’s in mutiny.

And grab an oar. This ain’t “The Love Boat,” matey. No passengers.

Interdependence Day

July 4, 2020

There are no free laps in the pursuit of Happiness.

While observing the anniversary of our declaration of independence from Great Britain, let’s also give some thought to the interdependence between ourselves and our fellow Americans.

E pluribus unum isn’t something you catch off a toilet seat. You’re supposed to catch it from your parents, teachers, friends, and neighbors. It can actually help shield you against a variety of social diseases, among them ignorance, selfishness, and stupidity.

We’re all in the same sandbox here. Let’s try not to shit in it.