The Mad Would-be King

It’s astounding. Time is fleeting.  Madness takes its toll… —Riff Raff, The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.—Claudius, Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1

You can see it.  The jowly, bloated face.  The reedy whine of his voice.  Madness has indeed taken its toll on Donald Trump.  His juvenile ranting continues unchecked, while his audience continues shrinking.  Yet he is unaware of his decline.  Most of his devotees seem not to notice that his rhetoric recycles the same tired themes—stolen election, Hillary Clinton, election fraud, Joe Biden, January 6th was a love fest—it’s a long and complicated list.  Thanks to the new Bob Woodward and Robert Costa book titled Peril, we’re finding out that many of his close advisers noticed his mental deterioration early on.  Some were opportunistic and ignored it, some were cowardly and quietly resigned, and some belatedly mustered a little courage and fought it.  Donald Trump’s descent into madness was visible in public, to be sure, but behind the scenes, his obsessive behavior, tantrums, and declining grip on reality were terrifying to many of his staff and advisors.  Folks knew he becoming more unstable.  The insurrection on January 6th was his vain attempt at a political Walpurgisnacht that would shut down the government, delegitimize Joe Biden’s election, and somehow return Trump to power.  The failure of that coup d’etat undermined and worsened his mental state.   

Quite a few countries have suffered through the reigns of looney heads of state.  There was Caligula in Rome, Ivan the Terrible in Russia, George the VI in England, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Gaddafi—a cast of characters that only an uneducated half wit like Trump would aspire to.  This rogues gallery has many things in common, but two of their most dangerous traits are capriciousness and cruelty.  You can read up on the details of their often forgotten depravity and malice, but Trump’s ruthless persecution of anyone he considers beneath him—women, people of color, all citizens of what he called “shithole” countries, muslims, and the poor—is well documented.  The wealthy and powerful he clutches to his breast, even while they laugh behind their hands at his crude and bourgeois posturing as a multi-billionaire. 

Mainstream media continues to focus on the minority of unglued wackos who believe every idiotic thing Trump says.  It makes for good tv and sells lots of soap powder and pills.  We need to focus on the reality of having a deranged would-be despot on the loose in our country.  Hopefully, our Jan 6 investigative committee will finally uncover enough incriminating dirt to put him and his cadre of crooks behind bars.  Keep that hope alive.  Stay tuned.


Knock Knock

Knock knock.

Who’s there?


Republicans who?

Republicans who can’t wait to destroy American democracy and replace it with an autocracy of idiocy led by Donald Trump, Moscow Mitch McConnell, Ted “I’ll-meet-you-in-Cancun!” Cruz, Jim “You-boys-in-the-shower-don’t-mind-me!” Jordan, and a tarnished cast of other traitors, crooks, cheats, and cowards. The Republicans who put the health of school children at risk by opposing mask requirements in classrooms and campuses. Republicans who intimidate school board members, nurses, and school administrators by screaming “My body! My choice of what I put in it!” to protest vaccinations.  Republicans who think nothing of violating the constitution by making laws to prevent women from controlling their own bodies, and who prohibit them from ending unwanted pregnancies.  Republicans who defend the insurrectionists who invaded the U.S. Capitol building in an attempt to stop certification of Joe Biden’s legal election, and who attacked and killed police who defended the lawmakers.

That’s right, it’s the Republicans who don’t give a rosy red rat’s ass about anyone but themselves and their next election.  They’re all vaccinated, but they don’t want you to be, and they don’t want your kids to be.  They want you to be sick, so they can control you.  Because they are the new Taliban.

Yes, the Republicans are knocking just to let you know they’re still in the neighborhood.  They may have had the living snot beaten out of them in the California gubernatorial recall election, but they’re not going anywhere.  They’re crawling back under the nearest rock until you’re not looking.


The Most Dangerous Thing in the World

“Beauty is the most dangerous thing in the world next to, maybe, only nostalgia.”—Stan Brakhage, Experimental Filmmaker

People ask me all the time: how do you do it?  What’s the secret of aging and keeping your shit together?  The odometer turns over while the memories grow stronger.  Eventually they over take you.  Nostalgia fogs your windshield.  Live long enough and you become a survivor.  People you liked and loved are gone.  Depression pulls into your driveway and rings the doorbell.  Brakhage called it right.  And you don’t need to reach 90 to experience it.  Our minds are storytelling machines.  And they don’t stop.

There is no secret, but there is a workaround I use.  The Buddha gave a series of teachings to his monks in which he used bubbles on the river Ganges as a metaphor for disturbing thoughts.  When observed by someone with good eyesight, the bubbles could be seen as empty and void of any substance.  So it is with disturbing thoughts and memories.  When examined using one’s insight, the memories are actually empty, being only thoughts and stories of past events, and therefore insubstantial.  

You don’t need to be a Buddhist, fluffy.  When the disturbing memories come, take a few breaths, notice that the thoughts are ONLY empty bubbles.  And let the Ganges take them downstream.  More bubbles are on the way.  But they will be as empty as the last ones.  Let ‘em flow out of sight.  Peace.


One of My Guilty Pleasures

I admit it.  I’m addicted to James Carville’s and Al Hunt’s podcast, Politics War Room.  I can’t wait for Thursday every week when they post a new episode.  I doubt there are many smarter political thinkers around than James and Al.  Their guests are always interesting, and their rants and commentaries are thought provoking, often funny, and charmingly profane.  Big fan, boys.

This week James zeroed in on Kevin McCarthy, living proof that non-vertebrates can ascend to high office, if only they can learn to slither in whatever direction Emperor Trump directs—and lie.  And, boy, spineless McCarthy can lie like a motherfucker.  Now that he realizes the January 6th Capitol riot was a dismal failure and a colossal public relations fuck up for the Republicans who conspired to overthrow the lawful process of certifying a presidential election, McCarthy is blaming everyone from Nancy Pelosi to invading space aliens.  In James’ words, McCarthy is “shitting his pants!”  Yes!  McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Andy Biggs, and all the other rightwing douche bags who encouraged a violent overthrow our government are in dire need of a Pampers change.  

According to James, December 21, 2020 is the date that the House Select Committee on January 6th will be most interested in.  Not only was 12/21/20 the Winter Solstice and the rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, it was the date of a meeting at the White House where plans were made to facilitate the Capitol riot.  Nothing good will come of this for Trump and McCarthy et al.  With Donald Trump already disgraced and losing his grip, the quislings in the House who sold us out are in for a fall when the details of that meeting come out.  And the truth will out, because one of the conspirators will chicken.  It might even be McCarthy.  That would be music to my ears.


I Don’t Know Enough

You hear this from the anti-vaxers all the time.  They’re doing their “research” about the Covid vaccines.  They’re searching for the truth about the vaccines—evidence that they contain nano-transmitters to keep track of everyone; or that they possess some magic potion to exert mind control on the population.  “I don’t know enough.”

Here’s the deal, dopey.  Unless you’re a microbiologist, geneticist, or epidemiologist, it’s unlikely you would know what’s in the vaccine, even if you could read the label.  In fact, most of us would be hard put to understand the ingredients on an aspirin bottle or a Twinkie package.  Of course, you don’t know enough, any more than you know enough about astrophysics to explain why Venus and the Moon appeared close together last night, but will look farther apart tonight.  Shut up and listen to people who know what they’re talking about, dufus.  And I don’t mean Tucker Carlson or Gregg Abbott. 

Suppose I came upon you floating in the open ocean miles from land.  You are exhausted from treading water for hours.  I pull my boat alongside you and say, “Get in.  I’ll take you to safety.”  But instead of climbing the boarding ladder, you say, “No way.  I don’t know enough about your boat.  It may be leaking, or you may be low on fuel, or there may be a storm just over the horizon that will sink us.”  I assure you that my boat is seaworthy and has plenty of fuel, and that the weather between here and land is clear.  You reply, “That’s what you say, but I don’t know that.  You may be trying to kidnap me and sell me into slavery.”

I scratch my head in disbelief.  Surrounded by miles of empty ocean, you know enough to save your life, but reject the opportunity.  In the face of your refusal, I reluctantly start my engine and pull away, leaving you to sharks or fatigue.  “Sayonara.  Have a nice swim.”


Just Another Word for Hate

Misogyny is the best definition of the force of prejudice in Texas politics.  The most repressive abortion law in America so far (other states are not far behind!) is now in effect in that benighted state.  It is a vigilante law allowing private citizens to sue for money damages any person who aids, abets, or performs an abortion.  There is no exception for rape or incest.  And there is no state control over vigilante justice.  It is a throwback to the longed for days of the Klan and its spawn, the Texas Rangers. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is hands down the most profoundly ignorant chief executive in the U.S., and, believe me, that is a high bar considering the bozos and bozettes running red states like Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina, and South Dakota.  Abbott asserts that the Texas law is NOT a ban on abortions, since a woman may have the procedure within six weeks of becoming pregnant.  Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed out yesterday that since Abbott has never menstruated, he clueless that first six weeks includes a missed period, deciding that the missed period is not due to some other cause, taking a pregnancy test, and taking time to make a decision about whether or not to terminate the pregnancy.  Apparently, Abbott has successfully insulated himself from female physiology other than basic-what-to-put-in-which-hole.  It is unclear that he has even figured that out, but signing the Texas anti-abortion law indicates he is uninterested.  

The Texas anti-abortion law is quite simply misogyny written into statute.  It ignores any notion of privacy, a woman’s right to make medical choices for her body, and, significantly, the Constitution.  Men have fathered this hate.  Desperate to control women, return them to the status of chattels a la Taliban, men in Texas have ramrodded a law creating a dystopian state of sexual fascism—the Handmaid’s Tale brought to life.  Any pregnant woman must be continually on watch for family, friends, or former boyfriends.  She must hold news of her pregnancy very close.  If for some reason her pregnancy terminates, any of them could become an adversary, bringing charges against anyone near her for aiding and abetting an abortion.  In the upside down world of Texas justice, they will be guilty until they can prove their innocence.   

Fear and loathing in Texas is more than just a paraphrase of Hunter S. Thompson.  It is a real situation in which the forces of state government, courts, and even private citizens are arrayed against a woman’s health interests and constitutional rights.  Her fear is justified in the face of loathing by the state of Texas and the vicious vigilante mentality of men bent on maintaining power.  We can only hope the Justice Department can step in to defend women’s rights.  


Labor Day New Era

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.—The Buddha 

The Labor Day holiday is busy where I live.  People from all over converge here—as they do in countless other resorts, parks, camps, retreats, and hangouts—trying to squeeze one last day from the end of summer.   This year everyone is seeking a return to normalcy after a year and a half of lock downs, mask wearing, quarantines, and vaccinations.   We all want things to be like they were before CORONA.  But they won’t.  Ever. 

We have entered a new era, introduced by the coronavirus.  Alongside the consequences of climate crisis—ocean warming, devastating storms, droughts, and floods—we share a vulnerability to the predations of viral infections.  This is not exactly breaking news.

In 1976, a deadly hemorrhagic virus emerged in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  People who contracted it suffered horrible internal bleeding and died within days.   It was named for the Ebola River in the DRC.   In 1995, I read a fascinating book by Richard Preston called “The Hot Zone,” in which he described the spread of Ebola in Africa and the efforts by health organizations around the world to bring it under control.   In the early days, Ebola killed 90% of those in infected.  Its savagery was its own demise.  If the villages where the infection broke out were isolated, and if everyone not infected practiced scrupulous hygiene and avoided body fluids of the victims, the virus burned itself out before it could mutate.  The book reads like a thriller novel, and even 26 years later, it’s worth a read.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if Ebola mutated JUST a little, it might become a variant that spread far out of Africa, vectored by travelers to all parts of the world. 

Here’s the deal.  CORONA has shown us that a viral pandemic is not just ONE thing.  You can’t just beat the virus and go back to business as usual.  Because the virus is one thing multiplied millions of infected victims in whom the virus prospers, grows, and mutates, then multiplied by billions of viral mutations.  Viruses do this for a living.  And when a lucky virus hits the lottery and morphs into a new,  more infectious, more lethal version of itself, a version that might defeat current vaccines—it’s sayonara.  We’re back to square one fighting the fight all over again. 

We’ve been far too anxious to return to “normal” as infections and deaths rates improved.  Too soon ending mask mandates; opening up restaurants and bars and sporting events; stupidly resisting vaccinations—essentially singing Ding Dong the Witch is Dead—are all leading us to another crisis.  Our new normal will be masks and vaccines and social distancing.  It’s the future.  Get used to it, fluffy.  

And wear your fucking mask.  And get your fucking shot.  And booster.


Call to Action

President Joe Biden can make a serious decision to protect abortion rights in Texas and other states—one that has significant precedent. In 1957 President Dwight Eisenhower federalized National Guard troops to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, AR; and in 1963 President John F. Kennedy sent federalized National Guard troops to desegregate the University of Alabama, despite Gov. George Wallace blocking the door. These actions were taken to protect and enforce the constitutional rights of students of color to enroll those institutions. In Texas women’s constitutional rights to abortion are being denied by draconian laws, and the Supreme Court has refused to block them. In order to protect all women’s constitutional right to abortion, he can send federal troops to Texas. It would be a bold and controversial move to be sure, but in the face of this crisis, it is time to be audacious.


Darkness Falls on Texas

The forces of darkness have drawn the curtain of Republican Sharia politics over what was left of human rights in that state.  A total ban on abortion took effect today along with a slew of Orwellian laws deputizing citizens to bring legal action against anyone they SUSPECT of having aided or abetted a woman to obtain an abortion.  

Only evil will come of this.

The relentless assault on women’s rights—especially their right to make decisions about their health and bodies—is led by a right-wing gaggle of nut jobs who advocate blocking people from wearing masks; recommend ingesting livestock dewormers as cures for Covid 19; believe that vaccines inject electronic tracking devices into your bloodstream; and labor under the delusion that Donald Trump is still president.  This wacky gang in made up of Qanoners, white supremacists, inbred Southern snake worshipers, and Trumpazoid ass kissers.  The Supreme Court, now packed with right-wing ideologues, remains silent on the new Texas sharia laws.  Meanwhile the clock keeps ticking for the final attack on Roe v Wade.

Only tragedy will come of this. 

Young women today do not know how fortunate they are.  I grew up in a time when abortion was illegal.  In those terrible years, if a woman was not wealthy enough to travel outside the country to end a pregnancy, or well enough connected to find a doctor willing to secretly perform the procedure here, her only choice was a coat hanger or similarly medieval weapon.  I have heard the screams as they tried, and I have seen the shrouded bodies carried away to the morgue.  This is the reality in Texas today.  It will be the national reality if they get their way.

Please do not tell me that the woman should not have gotten pregnant in the first place.  Human nature is what it is.  You may be a Christian zealot, but history—ancient and recent—is wall-to-wall with fanatics who could not resist a good, free fuck.  They might be in your family.  One of them might be your mama.

Texas is in for a bad time.  Women of all colors and economic statuses will be victims of the Taliban-like regime now dismantling their human rights.  If Democrats, Independents, and those concerned with social justice and human rights do not step up now to confront the fascists, women will be reduced to totalitarian chattels.   This crisis has long been on the horizon.  Many of us have seen it coming, but no one has been willing to grasp the reality of it.  This is the hour to act.  The moment.  There is no more time.