“Liberal politicians who label police as racists–specifically Hillary Clinton and Virginia Lt. Governor Ralph Northam–are to blame for essentially encouraging the murder of these police officers tonight,” Corey Stewart wrote in a Facebook post that has since been deleted, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
That would be Donald Trump’s Virginia state campaign chairman reacting with breathtaking ignorance to last night’s violence in Dallas.
And this would be a Facebook post this morning from former San Diego talk show host and professional douchbag Steve Yuhas:
“From the White House to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – not to mention the obvious members of the Congressional Black Caucus – they’re partly to blame. What did they think would happen when they spared no opportunity to demonize police? Now they got what they wanted – a group of savages right here in America acted out in a way that is almost too horrific to describe, picking police officers off because they wanted to kill white people on that particular day. America’s Benghazi is Dallas and just like Benghazi, the White House is silent.”
And remember Joe Walsh, ass-faced former Republican congressman and full-time deadbeat dad? Here’s a few of his tweets from last night:
“When Obama goes after cops it opens the door for anti cop rhetoric and action.”
“10 Cops shot. You did this Obama. You did this liberals. You did this #BLM.”
“It’s time 4 patriotic Americans to stand up & stand against all the Cop haters – from Obama to the thugs on the street.”
And why didn’t Rudy Giuliani get the memo that nobody gives a shit about him anymore? He told Brian Williams on NBC this morning that Black Lives Matter was directly responsible for the police murders. “The reason cops feel that there is a target on their backs is because of groups like Black Lives Matter.” The sometimes cross dressing former prosecutor went on to make the preposterous statement that since “only” 1% of the murders of blacks in the U.S. were caused by the police, why do we get so bent out of shape?
The fascist sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, David Clarke, had this to say on the odious “Fox and Friends” show this morning:
“I want to know whether we have heard from the cop-hater in chief Obama yet on this? Have we heard from Mrs. Bill Clinton, who threw up the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter yesterday? They exploited a situation, two situations, one in Louisiana and one in Minnesota. Horrible situations, no doubt, but again, especially the commander in chief opens his mouth, and he sticks his foot in it.”
And the ever-dependable Rush Limbaugh on his radio show this morning referred to Black Lives Matter as a “terrorist organization” committing mass murder”.
Trust me, these random comments barely scrape the surface of the dumb-fuck “thinking” that’s floating around out there this morning.
Of course it might be instructive to hear directly from “the cop-hater-in-chief”, Barrack Obama. It was, according to right wing psychotics, these quotes about the police-related deaths earlier in the week that led directly to the Dallas murders:
“They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve,”
“To admit we’ve got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day,” Obama said. “It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement.”[Associated Press, 7/7/16]
And here, finally, are Obama’s comments about the Dallas incident. The next time someone accuses him of “politicizing” and “exploiting” tragedies, remember what the no-nothing right wing echo machine was up to this morning.
The U.K. has finally released the long-threatened Chilcot report, the results of a lengthy investigation into decision-making blunders in the build-up to the murderous invasion of Iraq. The report excoriates Prime Minister Tony Blair for his blind faith in George W. Bush’s criminally negligent miscalculations and lies concerning WMD’s, and Iraq’s role in global terrorism, and demonstrates how both Blair and Bush ignored vital information about the likely disastrous consequences of such a folly.
The report is quite a bombshell in England, even 13 years after the war commenced. The foppish Blair was forced again into his best Hugh Grant impression before the press cameras to stammer his way through the standard I-was-acting-on-the-best-available-information excuse ( the same excuse Hillary Clinton uses when questioned about her affirmative Iraq invasion Senate vote). Family members of dead British soldiers are demanding that Blair be put on trial for war crimes, and there are MP’s who now agree that there are grounds for such a prosecution.
The response to the Chilcot report on this side of the pond has been a bit more muted, largely because we are in the throes of a full-blown swoon over Clinton’s email server. The Bush administration’s response was predictable:
“Despite the intelligence failures and other mistakes he has acknowledged previously, President Bush continues to believe the whole world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power,” Bush’s spokesman Freddy Ford said in a statement.
“He is deeply grateful for the service and sacrifice of American and coalition forces in the war on terror. And there was no stronger ally than the United Kingdom under the leadership of Prime Minister Tony Blair.”
The little chimp couldn’t even bring himself to make a direct statement.
But despite the distractions of our clown show presidential race, and our national obsession over Email-gate, the timing of the release of this report is the perfect reminder of exactly who is to blame for creating the turmoil and the power vacuum that has led to the rise of groups like ISIS. This is important because of a recent statement from the cranky John McCain that Barrack Obama’s Middle East policies are to blame for ISIS, a slander that was immediately reiterated by Donald Trump, and then parroted by the jack-offs at Fox News and the right wing echo chamber.
It is, of course, a convenient bald-faced lie that a chicken hawk like Trump can hide behind to burnish his tough-guy credentials, the insinuation being that Clinton’s policies would merely mimic those of Obama.
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is dealing more directly with reality. In the wake of the Chilcot report, he stated publicly that the invasion of Iraq led directly to the rise of ISIS, contradicting the popular bullshit notion that the Syrian civil war led to the groups creation.
Tony Blair and England were certainly duplicitous in aiding and abetting the Bush/Cheney war crimes. But now, at least, Britain is owning up to its failures. One day, maybe, the United States will reach that same level of national maturity and be honest with itself, but, if this presidential race is any indication, it’s not likely to be any time soon.
As we collectively slouch toward the two political party conventions in July, a couple things become abundantly clear.
First, we are all fucked because both of these candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, are horribly flawed human beings, wildly untrustworthy, and really unpopular, with large percentages of voters who find either choice distasteful.
Second, we are doubly fucked because the next president will be one of these two characters, either Trump or Clinton, despite their serious flaws, personal histories, and gross unlikability.
Clinton acolytes have spent most of the Spring and early Summer beseeching Bernie Sanders to get out of the Democratic primary race so that Hillary can go “one-on-one” with Trump and steal his lunch money. This ain’t about to happen, because Sanders has effectively been out of the race and out of the headlines for several weeks and polls indicate that there is very little daylight separating the remaining two candidates.
And consider that Trump cannot possibly damage his “brand” any more than he already has, short of appearing at a Klan rally in full regalia,
The social media was filled with tributes from the blubbering masses about the historic significance of Clinton’s nomination. Grown men, according to their own Facebook admissions, were reduced to tears when the first female presidential nominee emerged from the primaries, but how much of this tearful jubilation was geared toward placating the wife or girlfriend remains to be seen.
One so-called “narrative” that became prominent on social media is that Hillary Clinton was the “most qualified candidate” to ever run for president, apparently because she served in the senate for two terms and was named Secretary of State in the first Obama administration. Even Obama jumped on that bandwagon after Clinton sewed up the nomination. “Look, I know how hard this job can be. That’s why I know Hillary will be so good at it,” he said. “In fact, I don’t think that there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.”
Well, it turns out that Martin Van Buren was a senator, a secretary of state, a governor, an ambassador and a vice president, before assuming office. Nice resume. Nice qualifications. But Marty was also a one term president who earned in the press the nickname Martin Van Ruin.
Bob Dole was a World War II veteran who served in the house and senate for decades. Dole ran against incumbent Bill Clinton in 1996 and Clinton won in a 379–159 Electoral College landslide.
These are just two random references.
The point is that Clinton’s qualifications serve as a good talking point, but only within her inner circle, and among her surrogates, party hacks like Howard Dean and Ed Rendell.
Of course, Donald Trump has zero “qualification” to hold the office of president but that hasn’t kept him within the margin of error in several recent presidential polls. And the fact that he’s a first-class dick has apparently helped, not hurt, him in these same polls, at least until now.
As secretary of state, Clinton presided over the successful elimination of Osama bin Laden, but blundered huge in her support for “democracy” in Libya, Egypt, and Syria. And, as senator, her support for the Iraq invasion was a mistake of historical dimensions. That’s why Trump is an overwhelming favorite among voters to take on ISIS and deal with international terror. And with new suicide missions occurring at a rate of about 3 a week, Trump only gets stronger.
Clinton supporter’s denunciation of the Bernie Sanders campaign was dishonest and repugnant. It was as if Sanders was trying to mischievouslyderail the neo-Camelot narrative of Clinton’s anointment for no real good reason other than that he could. That he embraced several core positions different and more progressive than Clinton’s and that he had millions of supporters was lost on the Democratic establishment who viewed Sanders as merely a skunk at the Hillary nomination picnic. The media’s duplicity in this marginalization of Sanders and his supporters was political journalism at its worst. The “liberal” news network, MSNBC early on joined the assault on Sanders, with the insufferable Rachel Maddow leading the charge, traipsing out Hillary surrogates like Rendell and Dean to denounce Sanders on an almost daily basis.
Odd that I would find myself back in Mexico. Rosarito hasn’t changed much. The same little shops are strung out along Avenida Benito Juarez: the locksmith, the leather repair shop, the apothecary filled with its exotic botanical cures, the tamale joint, the Comex paint store. The frail Indian woman in her long traditional dress and her oddly modern eye glasses still slumps on the sidewalk in front of the Banamex, selling chiclets from a box on her lap.
But now there are also ghosts almost everywhere I turn.
No street is more haunted than the one I’m currently staying on, Calle Mar Adriatico. This was the backstreet that led to the frequent happy hours at Pelicano’s, although not all the time spent there was necessarily happy. There was once a dog who slept on the sidewalk, on the same spot day and night in front of a locked gate on Mar Adriatico. This old, decrepit creature looked like a dog drawn up by committee. The head didn’t fit the body, his wall-eyes didn’t quite fit his head, and the fur was more like that of a Shetland pony than a dog. He was black with white paws so we called him “Botas” and each evening returning from Pelicano’s, Botas gratefully received our left-overs.
I recently learned that Botas had been owner-less and depended on the kindness of strangers to survive. I suspected as much. I also learned that Botas had long since died, so why is it now when I turn the corner onto Mar Adriatico, I see him on the sidewalk in front of the locked gate? Or is that merely the shadow of the yellow bougainvillea under which he used to lie?
I could not bear to go to Pelicano’s now, especially alone, for there even I am a ghost, the ghost that would spike the overly sweet margaritas from a pocket flask, and where we would watch from the terraza the small herds of rental horses on the beach trotting back to their stables at sunset.
I long ago overcame the taboo of dining alone in restaurants, especially if the restaurant is al fresco and there is something to stare at other than my fellow diners. I dined alone last night in a seafood place called Vince’s, at an outdoor table on a second story deck. I was watching a woman across the street scurrying to catch a bus when I was approached by a man with an accordion offering a song for a fee. “Estoy solo!” I told him with a smile. He shrugged and began to walk away, but then turned back for a quick glance. I think he recognized me. I think he remembered me from a time when I was not always “solo”.
But I will not go alone again to Pelicano’s, especially at sunset when the horses are on the beach.
There is also a French restaurant called Bistro Le Cousteau, on Benito Juarez not far from here. It is owned by a burly Frenchman name Phillipe who can often be seen at night standing in front of his restaurant chain smoking and looking worried. Philippe had been a chef in Paris and in Mexico City and always greeted a familiar customer with a bear hug.
The restaurant itself serves up a reasonable Cesar’s Salad and a pretty good wood-fired pizza. The tables are usually filled in the evenings by couples: wives and husbands, but also lovers, talking softly. It is lit by jade lanterns and warmed by the open hearth oven. Philippe does not charge a corkage fee if you bring in your own bottle of wine, let’s say a nice sauvignon blanc from the Guadalupe Valley.
I will not go alone again to Cousteau’s, especially in the evening when the candles are lit.
And I will not go alone to the little Mercado Del Mar, south of town on the free road toward Popotla. I will not search for a new mezcal or squeeze a lime or sniff the fresh guayaba. For if I were to do so, I might embarrass myself by suddenly turning in the direction of her voice and her smile that is not really there.
Today I took a walk along the beach, in the direction of the red and white striped smoke stacks of the power plant north of town. We had taken this walk many times, sometimes stopping on the way for a Pacifico and a shrimp quesadilla at a joint called Tacos and Beer. Often, I would run ahead a few hundred yards then circle back, squinting into the sun in search of that luminous hair, that familiar silhouette, like navigating by a star. Turning back toward the sun today, I thought for a moment that I saw that silhouette again. But, of course, I was mistaken. Perhaps there was something in my eyes distorting the view.
Close by here is a condominium tower called The Riviera. I lived there once. And as I write this now in the gloaming of nightfall, the color of the sea changing from blue to translucent silver, I can hear music playing on the stereo from the apartment on the tenth floor. Is it Chet Baker? Is it Gordon Lightfoot?
The room on the tenth floor where the music is coming from is lit by candle, and there, across the tiled floor, two ghosts dance in close embrace, one of us unwilling or unable to let go.
I’d been planning some kind of a road trip for a few weeks and I needed a motive. I was originally thinking I might drive cross country to visit my home town in Pennsylvania, but the problem with heading east out of Southern California is the 1500 miles of desert that must be crossed between here and anywhere else. You won’t see a tree between Pine Valley and Dallas. And the northern routes are not much better, because you still have to cross Kansas or Nebraska. Los Angeles is too close, Seattle too far (although the idea of driving to Alaska did cross my mind), and the idea of being alone in San Francisco was depressing.
Just an 8 hour drive, and a place with which I’m quite familiar. And camping is cheap.
Now I just needed the flimsiest excuse to go.
Ostensibly , I would just getting away for a few days to enjoy the fresh air and solitude, but I wanted another component to this trip. I decided it was to be a journey of self-examination.
The only problem with that is, I have been examining myself for as long as I can remember, going back, at least, to elementary school. In fact, I consider it my biggest personal fault, constantly second-guessing and analyzing the consequences of my every move, always worrying about how I come across. I would never be described as “care free”. Someone recently had told me point-blank that my head was so far up my ego’s ass that I’d lost track of the horizon. Or words to that effect. And she was a friend.
An intrinsic problem with self-examination is who, exactly, is examining who.
Ultimately it didn’t really matter because the idea was already set into motion and had taken on a life of its own.
I was packed and out by 8:00 Sunday morning. First stop would be Morro Bay, traditionally for me the jumping off point to Big Sur. I had booked a room for the night at a motel called the Fireplace Inn, but, unfortunately, that was the extent of my planning. I was obsessed with a couple things: would there be any available campsites in Big Sur, and why again was I even taking this trip in the first place.
Being Sunday morning, it was smooth sailing all the way up through Los Angeles on the 405, even through the Sepulveda pass, and the 101 through Ventura County was not much worse. I took the 154 bypass out of Santa Barbara through the Santa Ynez mountains reminding myself that every car coming toward me down the two lane mountain road was likely driven by someone who had just spent the entire weekend drinking wine in Solvang, and probably most of them were either as soused as herring or hungover
When I rejoined Highway 101 in Buellton , the traffic was heavier and angrier, the road clogged with some very aggressive shit-head drivers, the kind that like to get up on your ass, pretending they’re about to push you off the road. So far, not relaxing, not tranquil, and the only examining I was doing was staring at the ominous grill of the SUV who was ten feet off my bumper.
Finally, signs showing San Luis Obispo getting closer, then the cut off to Highway 1 and Morro Bay. I was still obsessing about campsite availability in Big Sur, but it was a relief to leave the 101 traffic behind me. Before checking into my motel, I drove over to Morro Bay State Park and saw that the sign in front of even that cheesy little campground said “full”.
Worry, worry, worry, worry.
After an excellent grilled snapper in a seafood joint called “Born’s”, and a relatively pleasant night in the motel, I was on the road again by 6:00 AM, hoping to snare a campsite early. The signs were not promising. San Simeon campground was booked up, as were several campsites in the Los Padres National Forest, south of Big Sur. With an increasing sense of dread, I arrived at the Big Sur State Park ranger station right before it opened at 9:00 AM. My worst fears were then realized: all campsites in the state park were booked up until labor day, two months away.
What kind of a half-ass trip was this anyway? Poorly planned, poorly conceived, impulsive. And I really didn’t have a plan B. Turn around and head back to San Diego? Drive another 300 miles to the Siskiyou Wilderness? Try and find a motel that I can’t afford in Carmel? Sleep in my car?
And the self-reflection thing was turning out to be bullshit, too. The same unresolvable thoughts, self-denunciations, and concerns were pinballing around in my mind as always. Of course, jamming up the road and worrying about a place to sleep is not conducive to tranquility but so far, not feeling the love. I had cursed several drivers on Highway 101 yesterday and even cursed a seagull in Morro, yelling at it to “shut the fuck up” when it was squawking loudly in the motel parking lot. What kind of person am I? How is sleeping on the ground possibly going to help me? What help am I even seeking? Only one or two people even knew where the fuck I was, and I doubt that they gave it two thoughts.
At that point I remembered a campground at the north end of Big Sur. Several years ago, I found myself in the same locked-out situation but I had stumbled upon Andrew Molera State Park. It is a rustic, walk-in campground, consisting of only 24 campsites, but it’s fully a 1/2 mile walk down a fairly rugged trail from the parking lot on Highway 1 to the sites and there are no reservations. First come/first serve.
I jammed the 6 miles up the road, through the commercialized part of Big Sur. Molera was my sole hope. The sign at the turn-off said “campground full” and my heart sank, but I parked, raced down the trail with my backpack, and it turns out that I practically had the place to myself! I pitched my tent in in the shade of a small coastal oak, site #3, and ambled back up the trail to formalize the deal with the ranger. I was ecstatic.
After preparing the campsite, I walked the mile-long path to the beach and back, then drove back south a few miles to pick up the trail head that climbs up through the Ventana Wilderness. I walked vertically up that path trying to shake off the claustrophobia of the car and my own thought patterns, but it was an arduous and steep climb and I was fucking exhausted, so after a couple miles I returned to my car and then to my campsite. The sun was finally settling into a prolonged dusk. After a couple plastic cups of red wine, I crawled into my tent and fell asleep.
A couple hours later, I wakened to voices. Somebody, several somebodies actually, had come in after dark and took campsite #2. My new neighbors were smoking pot and saying pot-smoking things and giggling for no particular reason, into the wee hours. No drums were being banged, and no banjo was being plucked, and I think the stoners were actually trying to tone it down a bit, out of respect, but it was still obnoxious. I eventually fell back asleep to their murmuring and giggling. And in honesty, even as I grumbled under my breath throughout the night for the kid’s to just shut up, in reality I welcomed their stoned yammering. Theirs were, at least, human voices, and not my own.
When I was in college, I read Kerouac’s memoir ” Big Sur”, and the next morning I reflected on Kerouac’s longing to escape his demons here in the solitude of the flowing water and redwoods. But it doesn’t turn out so well and, as Jack bounces back and forth between here and and his old haunts in ‘Frisco, he suffers a boozy crack-up, vividly and painfully described in the book. In fact, his friends said that Kerouac never quite recovered from his stay in Big Sur and he would soon be dead. With too much alone time on his hands and too much booze, instead of escaping his demons, they devoured him.
With that in mind, I decided to head up to Carmel to find a liquor store. The red wine wasn’t cutting it.
The scenic route up the coast was jammed with traffic and every view spot parking lot was crowded with tourists taking selfies, but Carmel was as I remembered it and the liquor store was where I’d left it 20 years before. But now the challenge: 3 days sleeping on the ground, no TV, no internet, no cell phone, just me alone with my thoughts. But, at least, a bottle of tequila.
I spent my second day in Big Sur hiking trails. The trail to the beach was about a mile long and, once there, there were plenty of trails along the bluffs overlooking the ocean. I took them all and, when I was done, I took them all again. Then I took trails through meadows and trail through woods along the Big Sur River. I was just trying to tire myself out. The intractable sky was vast and cloudless and blue and the day seemed to go on forever.
I’d heard before the term “walking meditation”, as if merely to be locomoting had the effect of quieting the mind. Didn’t work for me. My mind was a dumpster of senseless detritus: whirling inner monologues, half-forgotten memories, regrets, worries, and looping bits and pieces from old songs. The soundtrack that day was “Sunny Afternoon” by the Kinks and, of course, “Kodachrome”.
I heated up some Trader Joe’s chicken chili late that afternoon, and fiddled around the campsite killing time. Dusk, or at the very least, shade finally arrived. Tequila helped usher in nightfall. I crawled into my tent and read, my coal miner forehead lamp illuminating the pages, but too often my thoughts intruded. Sleep could not come fast enough and eventually it did.
Late that night, I wakened to muffled voices. New neighbors had arrived in campsite #2. At least these assholes were trying to be quiet.
I met Ben and Jake the next morning. Ben worked in a bike shop in Gainesville, Florida and Jake lived in the Twin Cities. I have no idea of how they knew each other, but they were bicycling together from Vancouver, British Columbia to Tijuana and had been on the road for over twenty days. We chatted while they packed up their gear. “How the fuck do you get through L.A. on a bike?” I asked. Ben said “We have maps.”
Day three was an exact replica of day two: hike, sit, hike some more, fiddle around the campsite, heat up more canned chili , drink a little tequila, wait for the sun to fucking drop out of view. My neighbors that night were Yuan and Jasmine, med students at U.S.C. At the risk of coming across as a creepy old man, I hesitantly struck up a conversation. They were heading up to the Bay Area to visit their parents before resuming their studies. I ask them if I could take their picture. “Only if we can get into costume,” Jasmine said. We chatted until nightfall, than the coal miner returned to his little, nylon mine shaft and fell asleep to the sound of girlish laughter.
The next day, Thursday, I broke camp and loaded the car, but I was in no big hurry to leave Big Sur. There was a huge, ancient sycamore tree across the way that demanded my attention for a couple hours. My inner journey had taught me one thing at least: being left alone with my own thoughts, no matter how pointless, repetitive, and depressing they might be, would not kill me. (And thank god for a quality sleeping pad.) And I’d somehow managed to do it without the internet, cellular service, YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, baseball scores and all the other time-sucks that devour our daily lives.
I sailed down Highway 1, stopped for some terrific fish-and-chips on the wharf in Morrow Bay, and rejoined the 101 in San Luis Obispo. By Santa Barbara the traffic had thickened and I began cursing aloud at the lame-ass motorists, tapping their brakes needlessly, slowing down a half mile of cars. By the Sepulveda Pass, traffic had screeched to a dead halt, a six-lane parking on the 405. It would be a good two hours before I even got to San Clemente.
Stuck in traffic, I turned on my cell phone for the first time in 4 days and, after a minute, it began to buzz with missed messages.