Category: Politics

Weird Scenes #124: Smoke on the Rotter

Weird Scenes #124: Smoke on the Rotter

“Just ‘cause somebody can’t handle anything don’t mean we have to pay for their pain / Nicotine, caffeine, chainsaws and guns gotta, make your own regulations / Psychedelic mushrooms good for your mind. If you’re ready to use ‘em, then ya outta try ‘em / How did freedom mess up your life? Decide for yourself what’s wrong and what’s right.” Mojo Nixon, Legalize It!, 1985

Yeah, I’m gonna bray about weed again… and I’m gonna launch my first verbal attack on our present president. You know, Joe Biden. Nice guy, but…

As you read this, dozens if not hundreds of White House staffers have been “suspended, asked to resign, or placed in a remote work program due to past marijuana use,” according to the Daily Beast. Five such staffers have been fired already.

Well, that’s liberalism for you.

Personally, I would be inclined to think that any potential White House staffers who haven’t smoked weed – first or second hand – or haven’t tried an edible or had a medical condition that warrants such use has been living under a rock and therefore has been too isolated to function properly in the job.

Or, perhaps, that cat is simply lying. This might very well be the point. If you’re working at the White House lying is pretty much in the job description.

According to the Daily Beast article, “For the FBI, an applicant can’t have used marijuana in the past three years; at the NSA, it’s only one. The White House … (states) that as long as past use was ‘limited’ and the candidate wasn’t pursuing a position that required a security clearance, past use may be excused.”

But if you’ve toked around a bit, for whatever reason, at any time, the Biden White House thinks you are a security risk. You can put away as much alcohol as you want, but if you’re doing your job and you don’t use politically incorrect language, they’re completely fine that you won’t blab our secrets to Putin.

This is not the matter of following a law that can’t get through the RepubilQan filibuster. As we have seen during the previous administration, the president has the final word on who gets a security clearance.

Let us also note that Joe Biden has appointed Dr. Rahul Gupta as his Drug Czar, a.k.a. the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Gupta was public health commissioner in West Virginia from 2015 to 2018. He ripped apart that state’s needle exchange program, showing a lack of concern about HIV and hepatitis. This is the moral position known as “Shoot up and die, creep!”

By the way, West Virginia is a national leader in drug overdose deaths, so maybe his policy wasn’t exactly a “Mr. Watson, come here; I want you” kind of moment. According to Filter Magazine “West Virginia also had the highest rate of hepatitis C infections in 2015. Today, West Virginia is experiencing multiple HIV and hepatitis C outbreaks.” Continue reading “Weird Scenes #124: Smoke on the Rotter”

Weird Scenes #123: The Royal Pudding

Weird Scenes #123: The Royal Pudding

Regular readers of this space (you might want to consider getting a real-life) will hardly be surprised to learn I am not a monarchist. To oversimplify just a little bit, I see the concept as another form of slavery. Indeed, my attitude towards the whole concept was best summed up by Dennis, in Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

“Oh, very nice. King, eh! I expect you’ve got a palace and fine clothes and courtiers and plenty of food. And how d’you get that? By exploiting the workers! By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the social and economic differences in our society! If there’s EVER going to be any progress …”

Great Britain’s monarchy is rather pathetic. Outside of promoting tourism, it’s useless and intensely silly. Don’t get me wrong: I have great respect for Britain’s massive contributions to our popular culture and some of all that revolves around their monarchy, and of course that gives the proles something to bitch about. Just about the only good thing I can think of regarding this lingering malignancy is that it has contributed to our understanding of the pitfalls of inbreeding. How they keep their microcephalic numbers down to a minimum is quite a medical achievement, although perhaps a search of the Tower of London would be a wise idea.

©The Guardian

It is no surprise that the British royalty and the British press completely lost their minds over the interview Oprah Winfrey did this past weekend with the couple now called (perhaps in tribute to a different Monty Python routine) as Mister and Missus Harry and Meghan Mountbatten-Windsor. Oh, sure, it doesn’t amount to anything more than a mixture of racism, class superiority, and a distracting way to kill time as we wait for our Covid vaccine.

Among other things, the formerly royal couple noted the monarchy’s deep concern over the appearance of the then-unborn then-prince-to-be – and now, most assuredly, the forthcoming never-to-be-princess. In case you didn’t know, Mrs. Mountbatten-Windsor is half-Black. Or, actually, all-Black on her mother’s side. This means the children would be, assuming you don’t take a close look at the royal family tree (which is more of a shrub), at least one-quarter Black. So if Archie Mountbatten-Windsor popped out Black, or his sister pops out Black, the monarchy would be embarrassed. Humiliated, according to some.

It was decided Archie would not receive a royal title. I think he’s better off, and, really, should he defy the odds and have become King Archie, it would be difficult to make it through his coronation without giggling fits. But that’s not for me to say. Here in America, our executive management selection procedures are also influenced by anti-Black hysteria, so I’m not casting the first stone. But it’s understandable that his parents were royally pissed.

© Harpo Productions

The Brits do not like having their royals marry Americans. This is understandable only if you ignore the fact that, historically, the Brits have no problem with their royals marrying Europeans… and some of them didn’t even bother to learn English. So the idea of then-Prince Harry marrying a half-Black American woman who had the moxie to get pregnant – well, that just shattered the entire British empirical worldview.

This is bigotry of the highest level. And now the British press is screaming that such accusations are bullshit, that this is not racism in the least. But, you know, keep those damn mullatos away from the crown jewels.

I do not know if Mrs. Mountbatten-Windsor can vote in American elections, or if she will be able to in the future. Just the same, I do not recommend they try to register in Georgia.

Weird Scenes #122: The News About Sperm

Weird Scenes #122: The News About Sperm

Zero. Perhaps we should start thinking about a Go-Fund-Me for cloning research.

Right now, half of this world’s nations have a live birth count insufficient for maintaining population status quo. “Insufficient” means the live birth rate is exceeded by the dead death rate, so half of our nations are losing population. This might be a bad time to become a real estate speculator.

To me, this is a good thing. When it comes to human survival, I do not see our biggest problem as diminishing resources. It’s overpopulation, and that’s not quite simply another way of looking at the same thing. Of course, the fastest way to deal with that outside of total war is for heterosexuals to severely cut back on fucking. That didn’t work in China, and that didn’t surprise anybody… including the Chinese government.

Unfortunately, I suspect the sundry fundamentalist organizations disagree with my worldview. Organized religion is cool with massive overproduction as long as the only humans who are being overproduced are those of their own particular brand. This starts a competition which, in turn, has lead to a lot of wars and disease and, perhaps curiously, rape. I’ve always found organized religion to be very confusing. It all seems to me to be a bunch of highly weaponized country clubs.

If you define “nature” as a physical force that scientifically takes control when humans screw up – after all, we humans are but an extremely tiny part of nature – then we have been conducting a war with nature. It’s thrown a lot of stuff at us to cut the population. Spanish influenza, HIV, Covid-19 are just three of the items in the cosmic trick bag that seem to have been designed to, as author Harry Harrison postulated, make room make room (a.k.a. Soylent Green). It seems we have been overwhelming those stopgaps.

Due to our inability to develop a reasonable attitude towards stewardship of our planet, which is the only apartment building our species can rent, we’ve been using up everything we’ve got. Food, fuel, clean air, potable water, patience… we might have enough of all that to make it to 2045, but if you’re looking forward to raising grandchildren, it seems likely they, in turn, will not be able to share that desire.

Superman was sent to Earth because his planet of birth self-destructed. I doubt Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster meant that to be a guide or a methodology. Then again, I could be wrong: they were big science fiction fans and the most significant purpose of the genre is to warn us about… well, us. We haven’t been catching on to the trend because we — myself included — do not want to give up our creature comforts. While our planet does not appear to be in danger of exploding per se, it is clearly seeking self-preservation by vaccinating itself from his most deadly disease. That disease, of course, is us.

I have no doubt that Earth will be around for the next millennium. To ironically anthropomorphize our Mothership, unfortunately, we won’t be around to hear our planet laugh triumphantly.

Right now, the human race meets three of the five standards commonly used to be classified as an endangered species. It is critical to note that it only takes meeting one of those standards to make the endangered species list. Ergo, we, the human race, is an endangered species.

There’s a sort of silver lining in this. If, in 24 years, there are no new babies crawling about we do not need to be sweating global warming today. As the saying goes, it’s just a fart in a blizzard. We might want to whip out the last reel of Doctor Strangelove and start choosing survivors.

Douglas Adams was mistaken. It is time to panic.

Weird Scenes #121: This Is America Burning

Weird Scenes #121: This Is America Burning

“Five to one, baby, one in five. Nobody here gets out alive, now. You get yours, baby,
I’ll get mine.” – Five To One, written by The Doors, 1968.

For a century, the United States’ foreign policy was built around the concept that, to paraphrase Field of Dreams, “if you build them democracy, they will come.” It was the cornerstone of our actions in Iraq, by way of example, during our 2003 invasion. Shock, and awe, and then democracy. We quickly discovered that “democracy” is a concept that many people did not understand, believe, and/or trust. A whole lot of brainy Americans on all points of the political spectrum had a very hard time understanding what, to them, was simply a matter of logic.

Well, logic is overrated; more so than our worst fantasies might divine. A whole lot of Americans do not understand democracy, believe in it, and/or trust it. Approximately 37% feel that way if you look at the percentage of Trump supporters over the past four years. We — those of us who equate democracy with patriotism — saw that number and said “37% is a ridiculously low number; in a democracy, 37% means they lose.”

Yeah. But the ghost of Santayana rattles very heavy chains. According to many historians, only about one-third of the colonists in what is now the United States of America supported the American Revolution. If that had been a democracy, we’d have Queen Elizabeth’s face on our one-pound notes.

I don’t think logic wins battles, although I didn’t realize it scares so many people out of their wits. I remained optimistic about the human race until sometime late in the pre-Covid era. I thought we were inherently good. Sure, we have our faults and some of them, as evidenced by Hitler, Mao, Trump, Manson, and McVeigh, are mindlessly horrible. But by and large, I felt that, as a species, we were pretty okay. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #121: This Is America Burning”

Weird Scenes #120: Life In Prison For Truck Repair

Weird Scenes #120: Life In Prison For Truck Repair

Flag copyright New York Times

Fair is fair, even on this, the one true Bizarro World. I hope you’re sitting down because I’m about to write something nice about Ivanka Trump.

According to the Leafly newsletter, back in 2002, Craig Cesal was busted by the Feds because, in his dastardly disguise as the owner of a truck-repair business, he picked up a truck in Georgia that had been used previously for transporting three-quarters of a ton of weed. I know that’s hard to believe because Craig literally repaired trucks for a living, but he was convicted nonetheless.

Cesal was given a life sentence, and he served almost 19 years behind federal bars before he was released to electronically-tethered home confinement. This act of mercy happened because prison officials were concerned the 61-year-old involuntarily retired repairman might catch Covid had he stayed locked in close confinement in an environment where social distancing is totally beside the point.

Yeah, life for attempted truck-repair. But one goddamn lethal pandemic, and you’re out of there!

Hand of auto mechanic with a wrench. Car repair.

Please notice I said “out of here” and not “free.” Home confinement, even with some allowance for reasonable locomotion, is not “free.” A year ago that might be harder to understand, but if you or anyone you know is north of 60 you have some concept of the restrictions inherent in home lockdown. Certainly, it beats federal prison… and, for that matter, summary execution. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #120: Life In Prison For Truck Repair”

Weird Scenes #118: The Lighter Side of Covid

Weird Scenes #118: The Lighter Side of Covid

 

Bernie Farber (L) and the author, as feckless hippies

My dear friend Bernie Farber has been in a nursing home for a few weeks, recovering from an accident. Bernie and I go way back – and I mean way, way back, almost 52 years when we were both bratty young writers for the fabled “underground” newspaper, the Chicago Seed. A smart, funny, dedicated guy who just happens to be a brilliant writer. I rarely reread my old stuff, but I reread his.

When I first heard he was in a nursing home, I felt a strong sense of dread followed by a wistful wave of nostalgia. For the past nine months just about the worst place one could be, Covid-wise, was in a nursing home. We’ve got better procedures now, but thankfully we now have the vaccine. By “we” I mean Bernie; he’s slightly older than I am, but folks in such environs will be getting the shot before I do and that is quite fair. As a science fiction fan and a lawyer who quotes from Star Trek, Bernie has no problem welcoming the shot.

Mindy Newell (R) and the legendary Trina Robbins

The nostalgia part kicked in when I realized Bernie was one of the last people I had seen before the quarantine. I was back home this past February, which now seems like a century ago, and I saw Bernie the day before I drove back to the Atlantic Northeast. When I got home my daughter put barbed wire around the doors and I haven’t been out of state, or even out of the house but for my car, ever since. Ah, the good old days!

Another friend who will be getting the shot around the time this is posted is comics writer/editor/groundbreaker Mindy Newell. That’s because in her secret identity Mindy is an operating room nurse, and that makes her a first responder, so she gets the shot so she can go on saving other people’s lives. Coincidentally, Mindy also is a Star Trek quoting science fiction fan. Talk about “live long and prosper,” huh?

Batman and Robin meet Sammy Davis Jr, sans 7 Hoods

So I want to thank Bernie and Mindy and the thousands of highest-risk folks out there who are, as a matter of fact, our beta testers. I trust the process by which this vaccine was approved, but, still, I figure the first person who used a parachute had thoughts when he first looked down. Science is not faith-based. If you’re among the first to get the jab, you’re opening some important doors for the rest of humanity, as well as for your friends and family.

I have no doubt that there will be so many celebrities taking the shot in public this week you’d think it was being given by Batman and Robin while they were Bat-roping it up the side of a building. Most of our former presidents, arguably save one, will be getting it – Democrats and Republicans alike. Prominent doctors will be going on-camera, starting with Anthony Fauci, putting their money where their mouths are. We’ll probably see a lot of show business folks doing the same thing. That’s great: we need something in the neighborhood of 75% of us to get inoculated before we can pull the death count down, and we all should get the shots as soon as each of us can.

The Multi-Colored Rainbow Religious Sacrament

However, I can predict some of those who will not. Some will bitch about religious freedom, but these people are self-serving assholes. We don’t let Mormons do their polygamy thing, we don’t permit those whose faith structures indulge in human or animal sacrifice to do their thing, and only members of the Native American Church can use their faith as a reason to score some peyote. Religious freedom stops where the next person’s freedom begins – and vice versa.

Some of the death-loving idiots who will refuse to get the vaccine will be seen on television on January 20, 2021 when, unless plans change, our former president Donald Orange Skull will have a massive Loser Rally in his newly adopted home state of Florida, the retirement home of Al Capone and Ted Bundy. Given the fact that some 74,000,000 American racists voted for the lying piece of shit, I think it is safe to assume that almost all of them will refuse to wear a mask, will not engage in social distancing, will decline to get the vaccine, and/or will be carrying handguns.

So I figure around February 1st, which henceforth I shall call February Fool’s Day, the rabid right will have more of its best and brightest lying in bags in refrigerated trucks.

You know what? I’m fine with that. I make my own bed.

 

Weird Scenes #117: If Elvis Can Do It, So Can You

Weird Scenes #117: If Elvis Can Do It, So Can You

Between the politicians polarizing power trips / We’re just too pure and peaceful to decide / So we got our heads together while the planet fell to bits / Now the one side left to take is suicide / We are lemmings / We are crazies / We will feed our flower habits pushing daisies – Lemmings Lament, written by Paul Jacobs and Sean Kelly, 1972

O.K. I’ve had it with the Covid deniers. I mean, totally and to the point where I now believe it should be legal to shoot the unmasked. I call that self-defense, although if I were in Florida, I’d call it “Stand your ground.”

I’ve also had it with the anti-vaxxers, but I’ve been on that page for quite a while now. In this case, I’m a bit more sympathetic. There are whole communities who have been taught that government vaccine programs were evil, and in a few but incredibly important cases, they are right. I get that. And I suspect that many of those same people are just as tired of going to funerals as I am – virtual funerals truly are the worst.

Nonetheless, these folks are taking an unnecessary risk. I’ve said I’ll take the shots as soon as I can after Dr. Anthony Fauci gets one. Now that presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Biden are turning the event into a 2021 supergroup, I’ll even stand in line to get it.

This brings to mind a story, one which should lighten the mood a bit.

Back in the middle of the last century, we had a serious polio epidemic, also known as infant paralysis, because it primarily (but not exclusively) affected children. 58,000 cases were reported in 1952 killing more than 3,000 and crippling tens of thousands. It was a very big deal, believe me. I was born in 1950 and I clearly remember the hysteria that enveloped our nation during the first half of that decade… particularly as it was my ox that was getting gored. Polio had killed or maimed a horde of people since it was first noticed in 1894, and the medical mechanics industry shifted its efforts towards building very small iron lungs in an attempt to save these babies and children. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #117: If Elvis Can Do It, So Can You”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #070: Vince McMahon Can Twitch My Ass

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #070: Vince McMahon Can Twitch My Ass

As the seasons turn, and we remain locked indoors, awaiting the eventual end of the plague (either the coronavirus or Donald Trump’s presidency… I’ll take the end of either at this point)… I’m left once again watching professional wrestling. Since the beginning of the pandemic, both the WWE and AEW have chosen ways to bring back the crowds. AEW is selling a very small amount of tickets for socially-distant, attendee-testing-at-the-gate fans to enjoy tapings of AEW Dynamite in Daley’s Place (the amphitheater at the base of the stadium where the Jacksonville Jaguars play). The WWE has opted instead to drain Orlando of its power grid by way of their Thunderdome “stadium” — with the arena where the Orlando Magic play basketball now housing the ring, and an insane amount of LED boards where a virtual audience and piped-in crowd noise are filmed during their tapings.

This weird new normal has created some interesting times — if perhaps some less-than-stellar product. But some pro rasslin’ is better than none. I’m not apt to complain there. Something happened not long ago in the WWE though, that has caused me to sour that much more to their ever-dwindling-in-quality-product. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #070: Vince McMahon Can Twitch My Ass”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #113: Blame The Pollsters?

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #113: Blame The Pollsters?

I get it. We want to have the election results at, roughly, 7:01 PM Eastern Time on election night. More so this year — the Blues want their long national nightmare to come to an end, and the Reds want to get back to uncovering pederasts in the basements of Democratic Party pizza parlors. We all have important stuff to do.

So we’ve got to find a meaningful way to twiddle our thumbs. We can blame Covid for screwing up the process, but we really don’t want to piss it off. We can blame long lines or rigged mail deliveries or drive-by militia members sorely deprived of pizza. Or, being a gaggle of pussies, we can do what we’ve been doing since Florida discovered Chads without Jeremys twenty years ago: we can blame the polls.

This is stupid. The polls are not the province of seers. They do not, and are not supposed to, tell you in advance who is going to win any election. If you’ve got money riding on the outcome, and I used to before my daughter started warning my marks, looking to the polls for relief is a waste of good mojo. The polls are nothing more than tools for political organizers and for reporters desperate to fill time or space. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #113: Blame The Pollsters?”

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #112: My Slight Change In Plans

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #112: My Slight Change In Plans

There may come a day I will dance on your grave / If unable to dance I will crawl across it / Unable to dance I will crawl / Yeah, unable to dance I will crawl – “Hell In A Bucket” written by John Barlow, 1982.

As we have approached election day – both presidential and “off-year” – for the past 48 years I have been writing about why it’s important to vote. I have managed to squeeze in this biannual sermon no matter where my words were being published. I have even gotten away with it at DC Comics, as well as on the air whenever somebody was silly enough to stick a microphone near my lips.

This time I’m doing the same, but I’m tweaking my usual message a little bit. This year people are particularly pissed, paranoid and peaky – even more so than usual, and for good reason.

Machiavellian Mitch “Moscow” McConnell has stacked the Supreme Court with a gaggle of far right-wing gangsters who have no regard for the words in the United States Constitution and the principles that make America unique. The chances of getting a fair count next week are event smaller than they were four years ago, when a minority of voters overruled the majority and shoved an unqualified, obnoxious Mussolini wannabe down our throats. Together, the two managed to nearly destroy the America we were taught about in school… while nearly destroying the schools themselves.

They haven’t finished the job, but there is still time to stop them. We’ve got exactly five days.

People are so upset that upwards of 80 million have voted already, many waiting in line between two and ten hours or more to do so. That is more than the total number of votes cast when I started this braying back in 1972.

Not all these people are voting against the fascist takeover – some are right-wing and/or religious bigots who conflate Donald J. Trump with Jesus H. Christ. It has been my impression that neither Trump nor McConnell actually speak for Christ, but I’ll leave that to those who care. Their führer has been encouraging them to wait and vote in person on election day, so that his numbers at the time of poll closing will be at their best, relatively speaking, and then he can declare victory, even if it’s untrue.

The fact is, by the time most of us who follow this sort of thing go to bed next Wednesday morning, we are quite likely to be lacking an informed, educated guess as to the winners. We probably won’t have to wait as long as we did in 2000, but we might if the Republican zealots can once again throw this to the Supreme Court.

That, of course, will be a horror show, one that will piss off millions of people no matter how the ruling(s) go. And by “piss off,” I mean “Katie bar the door.” Once again, gun sales are up – and do not infer that these increased sales are to Trump enthusiasts such as the Proud Boys and Boogaloo Marching Chowderhead Societies.

Way back in paragraph two I said I was tweaking my message a bit. Well, a promise is a promise.

In my previous pleas I said that whereas I had (usually obvious) preferences, you should vote either way. I still believe that is the proper thing to do… but “proper” isn’t the same as “appropriate.”

Trump, McConnell and Company have gone to great lengths to put their truly racist and bigoted programs into effect. I won’t bother to enumerate as the list is greater than our bandwidth and, besides, if you’ve read this far you already have made up your mind about all that. You might want to rid this nation of Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQ Americans, abortion, young Blacks who do not know their place, health care, public schools, reasonable prices for life-saving prescription drugs, for-profit prisons, lower taxes for the bottom 99% of Americans, and all this talk about global warming. Your having such a desire is your prerogative. I’m not in favor of hiring brain police; you believe in what you want.

Just don’t be surprised, shocked or offended if the sane majority tends to consider you a racist, a bigot, a sexist, a science-denier, et al… because that’s what you’re voting for.

That is what you are.

Have a happy election day. Bring a book, and remember: it is illegal for anybody, for any reason, to attempt to intimidate or force you out of voting.