Confessions of a Future Opium Eater

opium addict wesIt’s been my experience that the more eventful a period, the longer that span seems to last. Take college, for example. The four years from my days as a freshman to those of my senior year seem like decades, the Stones’ “Brown Sugar” and David Bowie’s “Young Americans” separated, not by 48 mere months, but by twenty years or so.

Dorm rooms, dives, suitemates, hook-ups, break-ups, friends, foes, professors, TAs, incense, cafeteria trays, campus bars, road trips, acid flips, pick-up basketball, lecture halls, black beauties, kegs, bathroom graffiti, the clicking of typewriter keys . . .

College memories crowd the file cabinets of my mind in such profusion that it seems as if those experiences couldn’t have transpired in so short a span.

And the same goes for this goddamned interminable presidential campaign. The 24/7 news cycle frenetically spins stories like those jugglers of yore on the Ed Sullivan Show spinning plates — each story delivered with the gravitas of an announcement that a Kennedy has died.

Did the first Republican debate actually occur on 7 August 2016, or was it during the Peloponnesian War? Were hula-hoops all the rage back when Carson was a serious contender? Crazy college kids swallowing goldfish and cramming themselves into phone booths when Florina was the darling of the under-debates?

No, believe it or not, that was just a couple of months ago, not in the 1950’s.

For example, take the rise and fall and rise and fall of Marc Rubio: rat-a-tat-tat, he ascends above Jeb! (remember him?), racks up endorsements like young Tiger Woods collecting championship trophies, goes robotic before the New Hampshire Primary, has his campaign pronounced as dead as Houdini, then the next week struts across a stage arm-and-arm with Nikki Haley, goes after Trump with both pea shooters popping only to get mugged by the irony-mongers on Twitter for being a vulgarian, and now he’s reduced to addressing a stadium “crowd” that could fit comfortably in a high school gymnasium.

With all of this quick cutting, we lose all perspective. Each spinning plate becomes a monumental game changer. Bernie ties Hillary in Iowa. She’s in real trouble.  Now he’s obliterated her in New Hampshire. Whoa, wait a minute. Hillary wins Nevada, trounces him in South Carolina! She’s racking up delegates galore! It’s all but over. Hold on! He upsets her in Michigan!  Now she’s in real. real, trouble (until next week when she wins Florida and Illinois).

So I have decided to pack my bags and head to the nearest opium den (Laos?) and spend the next eight months in a stately pleasure dome. Maybe do some kayaking on the sacred river Alph.

Wake me up and get me into rehab when it’s over.

Coleridge2_102211

 

Memo to Jeb: Tips on Killing Baby Hitler

baby hitlerFirst of all, killing Embryo Hitler is verboten. It’s absolutely necessary that Mother Hitler has birthed Baby Hitler before you kill him because, as you have often noted, abortion is an abomination.

Warning: Baby Hitler is not going to be sporting that signature mustache or that off-putting hairstyle. In other words, he’s going to appear to be a sweet, innocent bundle of joy. I dare say that you won’t be able to identify him as Austrian much less as the future architect of the Holocaust. The bottom line is that killing Baby Hitler is going to be sort of like putting a pit bull puppy to death. Unless you’re a sadist, what you’re about to do is going to be very unpleasant.

I suggest offing the would-be Fuhrer shortly after his birth because newborns, despite the “beautifuls” and “adorables” you see next to their images on Facebook posts, tend to be wizened little squirming red-faced creatures that resemble very old people, whom we associate with death anyway, which makes slaying a newborn a tad bit easier, psychologically speaking, than dispatching a two-week old.

No matter the age, before ending his life, make sure to clad Baby Hitler in a miniature Nazi romper complete with swastikas. Believe me, you don’t want him sporting anything emblazoned with bunny rabbits.

Of course, the paramount question is how. Even though gassing him or strapping him in a miniature electric chair is neither cruel nor unusual given that it has been a state-sanctioned means of dispensing with our capital criminals, those methods strike us as excessive.

I suggest perhaps applying a lethal dose of cyanide to his pacifier, which again I suggest be in the form of a swastika.

But ultimately, Jeb, it’s your call.

At any rate, good luck, and God bless help the United States of America!

A Review of Punditry re. the Republican Debate

Jimmy Carter, one of the Right’s favorite punching bags, commented recently that the United States was no longer a democracy but an oligarchy. Although perhaps hyperbolic, Carter’s comments do highlight some uncomfortable facts. For example, according to the New York Times, “fewer than four hundred families are responsible for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign, a concentration of political donors that is unprecedented in the modern era.”

Not surprisingly, one of the most pressing issues for these donor families is the abolition of estate taxes.   How many family estates pay taxes, you might wonder? In 2015, 1.2% of the population paid “death taxes” as the Koch brothers call them, or the “Paris Hilton tax” as EJ Dionne of the Washington Post labels them.

Of course, loopholes large enough for not only camels, but also elephants and asteroids to pass through are there for the exploitation, so when you get down to it, the effective tax rate for the estates of this 1.2% of the population boils down to a paltry 16.6% on average. And get this, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, only “20 [that’s 4 x 5 = 20] small business and farm estates nationwide owed any estate taxes in 2013.”

So does repealing the estate tax make any sense for a government that spends in excess of 600 billion dollars a year on defense alone?

You betcha, if you’re one the Koch brothers or the other 400 families who have raised half of the money flowing into these so-called super PACs.

Next question. How many of the Republican presidential candidates are for the abolishment of estate taxes?

[cue sarcastic laughter]

Which brings me to last Thursday’s presidential debate, which I sort of watched while checking out tweets. (Given my delicate sensibility, my enduring such a grotesque circus is tantamount to drinking that rancid pre-colonoscopy concoction).

More to my taste is reading the pundits’ “takeaways.” Who were the winners and losers?

Well, here’s Hoodoo’s run-down of the conventional wisdom.

The BIG WINNERS according to the pundits:

Carly Fiorina

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18:  Carly Fiorina, former CEO of the Hewlett-Packard Company, speaks at the Heritage Foundation December 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. Fiorina joined a panel discussion on the topic of

As far as biography goes, Ms Fiorina, the daughter of a law school professor, dean, and federal judge father and a portrait/abstract artist mother has the advantage of growing up in relative poverty, despite the fact that her parents gave her a grand piano as a wedding gift. She touts her career arc as rising “from secretary to CEO,” and it’s no lie.

During summers while attending Stanford, she worked at Kelley services, and after dropping out of UCLA’s School of Law, she served time as a receptionist at the real estate firm Marcus and Millichap. Later, she earned an MBA from Maryland and a Masters in Management from the Sloan School of Management at MIT.

Obviously, she ain’t no dummy, and besides that, she’s articulate and quick on her feet, attributes she displayed Thursday night and a rare commodity among most of the other “contestants” on the stage of what seemed more like a gameshow than a debate.

So I agree with the CW on Fiorina. Don’t be surprised if she ends up being a vice presidential choice, despite her first ex-husband Todd Bartlem’s accusation that during their marriage she had an affair with her soon-to-be second and later ex-husband, Frank Fiorina, a senior executive at ATT. Obviously bitter, Bartlem told that paragon of journalistic excellence the Daily Mail that Fiorina “los[t] her humanity” in a “pathological” pursuit of power.

In her memoir Tough Choices, she describes the marriage’s dissolution this way: “While we were married, we weren’t peers.”

Ouch!

Marco Rubio

rubio_perplexed_master_0Like Carly Fiona, Rubio was also lucky enough not to be a beneficiary of great wealth. (Some people have all the luck; sorry, Jeb). In fact, Rubio’s father worked as a bartender, as Marco likes to boast.

CW went gaga over Rubio’s performance. He took on Hillary’s claim of “living from paycheck to paycheck” to great applause and spoke of the 100K of student loans he racked up and repaid in full, though he wisely didn’t mention the $80,000 boat he purchased while paying off his loans, his liquidating a $68,000 retirement account, nor did he mention his failure to make mortgage payments on his home for five months, nor the fact that he had a lease of $50,000 on a 2015 Audi Q7.

Now that’s what I call living from paycheck to paycheck in style!

I disagree with the CW that Rubio was a big winner because of his statement that he doesn’t believe in abortions even if the mother’s life is at stake.

Not to mention rape and incest.

I can see the Hillary commercial now. Female voiceover, pregnant mother with damaged fetus that threatens her life makes the excruciating decision to abort. Cut to subsequently born happy white children skipping towards a swing set to be pushed by surviving, smiling mother.

Or, how about a couple of shots of the baby in David Lynch’s Eraser Head?

John Kasich

pic_related_111014_SM_John-KasichOnce again Kasich is fortunate to come from modest means; his father was a mail carrier.

During the debate, I agree he was very effective. His response to why he had expanded Medicaid was superb, essentially, “duh,” who in her right mind wouldn’t?

Though the pundits universally adored it, I was less impressed with his non-answer on how he would explain to his hypothetically gay daughter why he doesn’t support marriage equality. Rather than saying, “because the Bible tells me so” or “I believe that sexual orientation is a choice,” he dodged the question and boasted that he had recently attended a gay wedding and added, “If one of my daughters were that, of course, I would love them.” (my italics)

Well, duh, who in his right mind wouldn’t?

Still, if you’re a rational Republican willing to compromise on your contempt for the poor, Kasich strikes me as eminently electable.

THE SO-SO WATER TREADERS

Jeb Bush

I actually think Jeb was a loser and agree with Frank Rich’s assessment that Bush speaks “with all the conviction of a robo-call.” He needed to create some sparks and didn’t.

Plus the poor bastard is a scion of one of the 1.2% of the families who will have to pay some estate taxes when #41 passes from, in Richard Wilbur’s words, “this rotten/Taxable world to a higher standard of living.”

Scott Walker

walker super durpThe conventional wisdom — too scripted — which maybe was a good thing. I can’t find to share the mean-spirited image flashing its way through cyberspace the night of the debate, a motion gif that makes Dukakis in that iconic attack ad featuring him in a tank look like Sean Connery’s James Bond in comparison.

So the picture above will have to do.

Mike Huckabee

An articulate spokesman for the 5th Century BCE, but will his message appeal to 21st Century voters?

Chris Christie, Rick Perry, et al

 Yawn.

BIG LOSERS

Rand Paul

Rand Paul

Though some have touted him a winner, most see Rand Paul as a loser, and I agree with the latter. To break out of this pack, you need charisma, and in Paul’s case, a new hairdresser.

And last but not least

Donald Trump.

ptbOh, where is HL Mencken when we need him?

Dead and gone to hell, according to all these men and woman of faith.

I so wish someone had asked Trump about his metaphysical beliefs. Perhaps he would have identified himself as the Messiah.

I would, though, if I were Fox News, not be so gung-ho in expelling him from Republic contention. As my favorite saint, Teresa of Avila, famously put it, “More tears have been shed over answered prayers than unanswered prayers.”

A Trump independent candidacy would doom the Republicans.

Bottom line: All these candidates seem to care about are rich folk and fetuses.

That may be enough if you have the 1.2% shoveling unlimited money your way. For as PT Barnum said and Donald Trump’s ascendency proves, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

The Not So Advanced Training Institute

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah The Golden Haggadah, c. 1320

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
The Golden Haggadah, c. 1320

Well, when it comes to stanching libidinal urges, in the case of Josh Duggar, the un-spared rod, limited access to secular entertainment, daily devotionals, and home-schooling were to no avail. Despite his family’s full literal embrace of five-thousand-year-old cultural dictates of nomadic sheepherders (no seed-spilling, frontal hugging, uppity females, e.g.), Josh succumbed to, depending on your point of view, Satan’s solicitations and/or the human hard-wired propensity to seek sexual contact.

As Dana Milbank[1] writes in this morning’s Washington Post, it’s somewhat troubling that such a weird ass family (all of the 19 children’s first names begin with J) would receive boot licks from virtually every Republican seeking their party’s nomination for the presidency. As Milbank points out,

A quarter of Americans are evangelical Christians, but only a small fraction of them are like the Duggars. Only 3 percent of American kids are home-schooled, as the Duggars are. Only 7 percent of Americans think using birth control is morally objectionable, as the Duggars do. As for the percentage of Americans who favor arranged-in-all-but-name marriages? The answer is so obvious there’s no need to ask the question.

Josh Duggar and Jeb Bush

Josh Duggar and Jeb Bush

So why the kowtowing?

Republican primary voters tend to be really conservative radical.

Now that I’ve answered Dana’s question, I thought I’d shift to what I find more interesting, the Duggar family’s homeschool curriculum, the Advanced Training Institute, founded by someone called Bill Gothard (not making up the name) who himself is currently on “indefinite administrative leave” because 34 women have accused him of sexual harassment. Be that as it may, thanks to the website Gawker, I have obtained a work sheet from the ATI, which I would like to share for your entertainment.

According to Gawker,

The lessons themselves consist of bizarre, forced attempts at inserting some type of traditional education into biblical passages. Which is where you get questions such as: “How did the ‘Socratic method’ of reasoning come from a sodomite manner of living?” “How can graphs help to visualize the consequences of lust?” And “How do prime numbers illustrate the principle of ‘one flesh’ in marriage?

For example, here are three examples from “Wisdom Worksheet” On Matthew 5:27-28. (Click on Images for larger viewing)

medicine history science

Obviously, photography is also a manifestation of modernism that the institute finds dangerous.

[1] Milbank claims not to “join in the schadenfreude on the left over the latest case of hypocrisy among family-value conservatives,” but I’d love to see the results of a polygraph strapped to him as he was typing that statement. But come to think of it, Denny Hastert has bumped the Duggars from “the latest case of hypocrisy among family-value conservatives.” Remember during Clinton’s impeachment when Hastert was railing against him?