Monday, May 29, 2023

Cookie Monster

I was as happy as anyone when recreational marijuana legalization passed in a referendum last November. Not that I’ve really been a user, I just think it’s best for it not to be criminalized any longer. Too many people have suffered too much over such a minor matter.

In my own history, I can count on my fingers the number of times I ever puffed on a joint, and still have a few digits left over. And almost all of those times, I’d already been so drunk, so I never noticed much of an effect. (Almost all of these times were in my teens and 20s.)

It’s not that I ever had anything against it, it’s just that I hate smoking… anything. Never having been a cigarette smoker, any recreational benefit I might have gotten from a toke was immediately surpassed by 15 minutes of coughing my lungs out. Plus, there’s the morning-after feeling in your mouth like it just hosted a poker party for Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley, Cheech, and Chong. It just didn’t seem like a good trade-off for me.

Now I just tell people, if you want me to get high with you, toss me an “edible.” That’s something I’ve been wanting to try ever since the referendum passed. (We still have until July until it goes into effect.) That way I would get the nice, buzzy “benefit” without hacking my face off.

So, cut to Saturday night. We’re pet-sitting Sweetpea’s out-of-town friend’s dog (who is “girlfriend” to our own dog), while the friend goes out to eat with family. After the event, she was staying the night with us.

Sweetpea was already in bed when the friend came home. I was staying up watching the new Sarah Silverman HBO special. As the friend came to sit for a while on the couch, she said, “I’d offer you a cookie but it’s got marijuana in it.” (She has a prescription.)

I said, “And?

She said, “Oh, I didn’t know you liked it,” or something, and then gave me a baggie with two cookies in it. I was so excited to try my first edible so I snarfed one down quickly. It was like a peanut butter cookie with chocolate bits in it. Wasn’t bad, it just had a kind of metallic aftertaste.

Now, I didn’t have much in the way of expectations. I’ve tried that CBD/THC oil before and was kind of underwhelmed. And my brief attempts at hitting a joint left me unimpressed. So with this cookie, I was on high alert, looking for changes in my headspace. What I found was a brief feeling like I had just had another vodka tonic, just kind of lightly buzzy.

Sarah wrapped up her show and I went to bed around 11:30. No harm, no foul.

Then about 12:30 AM, I briefly roused and tried to roll over.

MAYDAY! MAYDAY! How come nothing on me works?

Suddenly the Cookie Monster was kicking my ass.

First of all, I noticed strange things going on behind my eyelids. All I wanted to do was sleep, but there was this paisley pattern going on in front of my (closed) eyes like you see in those videos currently going around Facebook showing people knocking over playing cards they set up like dominoes. All these brilliant, colorful patterns were exploding in my face, to the point of my not being able to tell if I was awake or still sleeping.

I wanted to roll over but it was like I had forgotten how and I was afraid I couldn’t do it without falling out of bed. So I tried to stay still and just ride it out, maybe go back to sleep. But my brain was telling me my shoulder hurt, the one I was lying on. It was telling me this by showing me a “heat map” effect where rings were radiating out from my shoulder. I tried to “wake up” and evaluate, but when I did, my shoulder felt fine. So I lay there trying to reconcile my conflicting shoulder evaluations.

The next thing I knew, it was 1:30 or so and I had briefly fallen asleep. And now, I was even more desperate to roll over, so I rolled onto my back. Whenever I moved my head, I’d get really dizzy, and my hands and limbs were shaking.

Then the dizziness started making me nauseous like I was going to hurl. I tried to breathe it back like I used to do when I drank too much as a younger man. But no, it was coming.

In desperation, I rolled to sit up on the edge of the bed, and I felt like a newborn foal taking his first steps. I was shaking so hard it would have been visible from across the room. I quickly determined that there was no way I trusted myself to make it out of our room and into the bathroom next door, so I grabbed the trash can beside the bed and tried to let it all out.

I’m sure Sweetpea was quite alarmed by this point, although she still didn’t know why I was in such a state.

After a great deal of loud (mostly dry) heaves, I realized I needed a tissue or something. But the box was on the shelf behind the bed, about three feet from my outstretched hand. I just sat there straining for it, because I didn’t dare leave my spot. I’d forgotten how to move around, I was sure. But then as if by magic, Sweetpea pressed a tissue into my hand, saying, “Is this what you want?

When I could finally lie down again, she asked what was wrong. I said, “Your friend gave me a cookie.”

She was like, “What?  Ohhhhh.”

All I could add was that I was “Trippin’ balls.” It’s the technical term.

I got maybe another hour’s sleep before the whole thing repeated. I tried to move again, got dizzy, sat up, and hurled into the trash basket.

I do not throw up often. Hardly ever. The last time was when I had kidney stones for the first time. That was bad. But this was scaring the hell out of me because I was afraid I was going to choke. I may love Bon Scott but I have no plans to die like he did.

I desperately wanted a drink of water and I had a glass right by my bed. But I couldn’t quite work out how to skooch my butt down and get into position to grab it. And my hands were shaking so badly, I looked like I was making a martini on Bar Rescue. I was sure I was just going to dump it all over myself. But I eventually eased close enough to get two hands on it and pour a little bit into my mouth, which felt like we added Seth Rogen to Snoop’s poker party being held there.

Somehow, I managed to get back in bed and get some sort of sleep. Throughout the night, I’d wake up and cough, but not be able to stop. It felt like I really WAS smoking it up, for all the coughing.

I felt Sweetpea get out of bed around 7:00. She checked back in with me about 9:00, to see if I wanted breakfast. I said yes, I thought it would make me feel better.

But then again, when I sat up and pulled my legs around, the dizziness came back and when I looked forward, everything was flipping up and up, like an old TV with a “vertical hold” problem. I’m sure my fellow “old people” remember that reference.

So I decided to lay back down again and try to clear my head. When Sweetpea stuck her head in again, I told her to cancel breakfast for me.

When I finally surfaced around noon, my vertical hold problem was fixed, but I was still getting dizzy when I moved my head. But I had to get up sometime, so I ambled into the kitchen and began my daily crossword puzzles from the newspaper. I ate the bacon she had already made, and a stray blueberry Pop Tart, which settled my stomach a bit.

The rest of Sunday was just vegging out. I went back to bed for a nap around 3:00 and got up again near 5:00, by which time dinner was on. Gradually the headache and dizziness faded as I couch potatoed for the rest of the night. According to my Fitbit for the day, I took only 392 steps and slept for 15 hours, 37 minutes.

Today, I’m more or less back to normal. Oh, and we gave the second cookie back. I don’t know how her friend can stand a dose like that. She must have a much higher tolerance because just that one cookie put me on my ass for an entire day.

So believe me, when the legalized marijuana edibles start circulating in earnest here in Maryland, I’m not saying I’ll never have any again, but I WILL be looking at the dosage and starting with small amounts. I’m sure there’s a happy medium in there, somewhere between Judge Judy-like sobriety and trippin’ balls.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Putting the "Rat" in Authoritarianism*

*if you read it backward.

It seems the Republicans’ new hobby is threatening impeachment of anyone they don’t like. Most recently, Rep. Adam Schiff has drawn their fire, for his role in presenting such compelling evidence in TFG’s impeachment hearings. My friends at Crooks and Liars have a story about Florida Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna having filed a resolution of impeachment against him, accusing him of sedition.

She said that Schiff lied to the American people and weaponized the FBI against Trump.

One US Representative can weaponize the FBI? Really? If that were true, Rep MT Greene would have the FBI at Biden’s house right now, looking for black market youth elixir. And since when is it “weaponizing” to have a law enforcement body go out to find evidence of wrongdoing and present it? Isn’t that their exact job? The fact that the vapid, empty vessel she idolizes was proven to have done wrong, doesn’t prove or even suggest that his accusers have committed any crime, let alone sedition.

Also, “Lying to the American people?”

Rep. George Santos telling the “truth.”

When Republicans have dealt with their own resident liars, then they can worry about others. Until then, STFU and STFD, Rep. Loona. Case dismissed.

I know Republicans are itching for “revenge” for the Democrats daring to prove TFG was a crook, but do they really want to open the door for ousting Congresspeople for specious personal reasons? Because it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that the Democrats take back the House, and then what do you think can happen? With this new precedent, say goodbye to Reps. Greene, Jordan, Boebert, Santos, and add McCarthy, just for being a spineless weasel.

I don’t think this Congressional impeachment movement is really going anywhere, other than being a tool for self-promotion among little-known Congresspeople. There are cooler heads that will prevail, not including Speaker McCarthy. If he had any real power, he’d have already squashed this nonsense before it went public. The last thing he needs is a rock fight in his own greenhouse.


In yet another pointless bid for relevance, faded rocker Ted Nugent joined the chorus of conservatives lauding the ex-marine who choked out a homeless guy on an NYC subway car.

Again, that’s what it’s come to… applause for some guy to decide to be judge, jury, and executioner for some poor brain-addled guy, just because he was annoying.

Whatever the guy had done in his past is irrelevant, because the killer had no idea who he was. So when Nugent calls the victim a “monster,” it’s just a racist cover. All he was in that moment was a guy being loud and creepy in public. Maybe you put him in detox for the night, or have the cops take him to Central Booking. Execution seems a little harsh. That’s what they do in Iran. (After a little torture first, of course.)

I don’t, for a second, believe this was a life-threatening situation, other than that of the homeless guy. I’m no stranger to subway “performance art.” I’ve ridden the Baltimore Metro (subway) every day for 23 years and seen my share of ranters, ravers, panhandlers, and hustlers, making a scene on the subway when all you want to do is get home in peace. Yes, it’s bothersome. No, it does not warrant a fucking death sentence, handed out by some bored ex-military who craves an adrenaline rush.

If this guy gets off, where does it end? Are we now allowed to shoot, stab, or choke out anyone who alarms us? Am I allowed to snap the neck of anyone who walks up beside someone else on an escalator and then stops, so no one else can get by? How about the next time I see someone taking up two seats on a crowded car, I just set him on fire? Why not? It’s a public safety thing. The fewer people standing in a moving subway car, the safer we all are. Or if someone is singing loud with headphones on, can I put a pistol under his chin and fire?

I’m sorry officer, but he was off-key and a little pitchy. This was a public service.”

We need to be very careful about what kind of public behavior is being encouraged, or no one is going to feel safe going anywhere. As long as we accept and reward self-appointed arbiters of who gets to live, we are all at risk.


Monday, May 15, 2023

"Someone Get Me Strom Thurmond on the Phone!"

Well, the good news is that Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has finally made it back to Washington, to resume her role in the Senate. The bad news is that she probably ought to be in an assisted living facility. I know the Senate has its share of senior citizens, but from the reports coming out of her camp, she’s going to need more help than the Congressional Page Service can provide.

Senator Feinstein(Source)

A Rolling Stone story has that she cannot be left alone in the Senate building, so unbeknownst to her, they have a system to ensure she always has an escort. The story also describes how she has trouble retaining information, often asking the same questions in a meeting that she’d asked earlier.

This is a worrying matter because Senators hold a great deal of power, for which they are vetted by the public and voted into office. From the sound of it, California is being represented by an unelected staff, with no more than token input from the elected.

Granted, over a 30-year Senatorial career, her positions should be well-defined. If her staff were to “go rogue,” it would be known immediately.

And we’re not talking about what Republicans say about President Biden. Yes, he’s old too, but you don’t hear any stories coming from the White House about how he’s losing touch with reality. And you can watch him speak and see that there are still plenty of marbles rolling around under that silver hair.

It’s different with Senator Feinstein, for whom it’s clear that she has some cognitive mental issues, like the early onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia, and she needs to step down. But working out how to do that opens up a real bag of chaos.

Usually with dementia patients, their long-term memories remain intact but they can’t remember what happened just minutes earlier. They know who they are but don’t know what they had for breakfast.

So for Senator Feinstein to come to the decision to step down, she’s going to have to understand why, accept it, and remember it!

It’s not hard to conceive of her waking up every day, following such a retirement, and expecting to go into the Capitol building and go to work. Every day, someone may have to remind her that she’s not a Senator anymore. It’s a tough proposition.

With the presidency, you have the 25th Amendment, which lays out how to remove a president for medical reasons or their judgment is compromised. There’s no such thing with Congress so you have to be careful when wresting political titles away from people. (Sure, their party may be able to force them out, but that’s an awfully big gamble that can have “Backfire” written all over it.)

After all, the people of California knew she was old when they reelected her to her most recent term. I don’t live in California, but I expect she must have done some kind of campaigning. Maybe a resident can let me know. Was she out on the campaign trail, or did they just run a lot of commercials with gauzy photographs of the Senator, with a voice-over about her past service?

Regardless, she WAS elected. But geez, it looks like her time has come and gone, and we need to get a more active and effective Senator in there, whose head is in the political game and not wondering why the darn clicker won’t work. The country needs its full allotment of Senators available for voting on the issues of the day. If someone can’t meet that criteria, they need to step aside for someone who can.


Don’t Fall For It!

Presidential candidate Nikki Haley is trying to tamp down expectations that a new Republican president will be able to impose a national abortion ban. She mentions that it’s not something that can be done via executive order, so it would need a law passed. To do so would require a large Republican majority in the House and 60 seats in the Senate, to overcome the inevitable filibuster. And she is exactly right.

Here’s why it doesn’t make me feel any better. What I think she’s trying to do is play to Independents, centrist Democrats, and Republicans concerned with reproductive freedom. It’s an attempt to neuter the Democrat's biggest, fattest, juiciest campaign issue. She wants to make these groups less wary of a Republican-run government, especially one not run by an orange nutbag.

But the thing is, none of those facts mean the Republicans won’t still try to pull off a national abortion ban. They may not be able to do it in one grand gesture, but then can still do like they’ve been doing the last 50 years and nibble around the edges until they’ve succeeded in making the procedure so difficult to obtain, it’s just as effective as a total ban.

Also, don’t forget that with Mitch McConnell back in control of the Senate, they could decide to eliminate the filibuster once and for all, to pass an abortion ban. But I don’t think that’s as likely. McConnell isn’t as tied to the religious dogmatists as he is to the fossil fuel industry. He’s a business guy. If Koch Industries blesses it, he’ll do it. And I think he also realizes that they can’t gerrymander the Senate, so the Democrats can easily return to power and then use the lack of filibuster for their own ends, like maybe putting some teeth into carbon reduction. And that’s something that gives the Koch Brother nightmares.

But the point is, Republicans are tied to the Anti-Choice people, because there just aren’t enough filthy rich bastards to win elections, and they need something on which to campaign to the rest of us, where the implementation won’t cost their donors any money. So no matter what Nikki Haley says, you can’t trust Republicans not to restrict reproductive health care. With the Dodd decision, they are the proverbial dog that finally caught the car… they just don’t know what to do with it once they have it and aren’t looking forward to dealing with the firestorm they created.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Ransom II - Gimme Back My Tax Cuts!

The Democrats have to take the gloves off over this debt ceiling thing. This is what, the third time they’ve pulled this shit in the last 15 years? They don’t give a rip about the deficit when they’re in charge… they raised the debt ceiling three times during TFG’s administration. Any bleating about fiscal responsibility is a mirage. By this point, we know that Republicans only use the debt ceiling as a lever to pry hard-won accomplishments away from Democrats. They Do Not Care about it, not until it’s time for the political theater of the debt ceiling being raised during a Democratic administration. In fact, if the ransom demanded by Republicans were to be paid, it would add hundreds of billions to the deficit.

This time around, they’re taking their marching orders from the fossil fuel industry, and fossil fuel Senators like Joe Manchin, who wants to get rid of all those pesky climate change provisions included in previous legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Biden. And, of course, they want to preserve all the tax cuts for the rich, which passed under TFG.

This is what President Biden proposes to address the deficit:

Now tell me, are there any relevant reasons why these changes shouldn’t be made? And don’t even start with the “job creators” bullshit. We all know what happens when business owners receive a tax windfall; they pocket it. We need to tell these Trickle-Down assholes to Piss up a Rope.

These look like common sense steps designed to benefit 98% of the country. So naturally, you’ll see arguments from Republicans addressing “tax and spend Democrats” and fearmongering that the IRS is coming for YOU. They won’t address the actual proposals because the only thing they can fall back on is that their donors want it, and it is the very reason why they are donors in the first place… to make sure their wealth and projected wealth stay intact. Everything else you hear is designed to deflect you from that point. They have to make you think that things that will help you actually hurt you. And that's why Republicans are so "truth-challenged" in the 21st century, they can't sell the truth.

If only someone could come up with a way to enforce an anti-price-gouging law, then this economy could really hum. But since suppliers and retailers are using the post-COVID supply chain problems to jack up their prices by far more than the amount needed to balance out the issues. You can’t claim that your business is getting hit hard when corporate profits are setting records. But they know most people don’t read the fine print.

But the point remains that the only way to create a solid economy is from the bottom up and not the top down. Seeding the top of the wealth brackets is merely taking “Lucy holding the ball for Charlie Brown” and making it national. We’re still waiting for our benefits from the Republican tax cuts for the rich to reach the rest of us and it will never come.


And now this, just because I thought it was funny:

Who’da thought that the Nuge would be canceled in Birmingham, Alabama, of all places? I always thought liberals were strewn across the state like so many raisins in a box of Raisin Bran, but I guess they clumped in Birmingham. 

I bet the people that got this show killed were like, “When Ted hears about this, he’s gonna shit his pants. Again.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Hate Speech

I should know better than to react to things like this that I see on Facebook, I really should. And I know that this one is so intentionally inflammatory, they might have just called it, “An Ode to Owning the Libs.” And I even scrolled by it at first, thinking, “Ah, what can I even do with this?

Then as I tried to lose myself in more mindless scrolling, it just kept lingering with me until I began to form a coherent angle for attack. Then I knew I had to scroll back and save it so that I could address it with you:

If it was me who was to name it, I’d call it “An Ode to the Pot Calling the Kettle Black.” As it’s been well established by now, Republican attacks are almost always an admission of their own actions.

It begins in an intentionally aggressive manner with “The Democrat Party…” a construction used by Conserves just to get under the skin of those who use and understand proper English. But that’s a mere nit to pick.

The whole thing boils down to something like this:

[Pouty tween enters the room] “Wah wah wah, the bad people hate us for no reason! Everyone’s against us and nobody cares.” [Stomps off to their room and slams the door.]

It’s funny how it never occurs to the writer or poster that maybe some of their “haters” have a reason for giving them grief. But then that would require “empathy,” a trait that is rarely found in the Republic Party.

Maybe poor people don’t like the rich getting richer at the expense of everyone else and rigging the game, business, politics, whatever, to ensure it stays that way.

Maybe Black people don’t like being persecuted for a few hundred years, the effects of which are still blatantly obvious today with policing and aggressive voter disenfranchisement.

Maybe gay people hated having to live in the closet for centuries for fear of getting the shit kicked out of them or being prohibited from enjoying the same basic human rights as everyone else.

Maybe “feminists” (meaning women who prefer to decide their own life path) don’t like being condemned to being nothing more than mobile, bi-pedal, incubators, who must seek the permission of strange men to determine what they are allowed to do with their own bodies. Depriving self-determinations does not engender good feelings toward the deprivers.

Maybe “environmentalists” (meaning anyone who cares about keeping the planet inhabitable for humans) are tired of watching Republics fight every common sense regulation that keeps poison out of waterways and toxic chemicals out of the air we breathe, for the singular purpose of making even more money.

Maybe “bratty college kids,” (meaning any student who contradicts his parents) are tired of being fed lies and mythology in a vain attempt to keep their heads in the sand, and under parental control well into adulthood.

The Conserves are proposing and passing laws that persecute every one of these social groups and then they stand back and whine about being hated? The gall of it all astonishes me.

There comes a time when people must stand up and say, “Goddammit, enough is enough! We will not let a minority of people inflict their narrow worldview on the majority, all in service of the Almighty Dollar, billions of which are permanently earmarked for the richest 1%.”

And in a misunderstanding that goes back generations, Republics don’t realize that a true journalist’s job is to report the truth. So when The News doesn’t run with Republics’ batshit-crazy conspiracy theories, it’s not persecution, it’s common sense. It’s their solemn responsibility to inform the public about things that are happening. That doesn’t include publishing easily disprovable lies and paranoid delusions.

I will do everything in my power to convince people to vote for Democrats, by pointing out the evil that is currently being conducted in broad view of the American public and disassembling every load of self-serving packs of exaggerations, distortions, and outright lies, like this one.

Are Democrats perfect? Not hardly. But the alternative is scary and bent on embedding their own people in power and pursuing their own narrow agenda, regardless of the majority's will.

Republicans started this “zero-sum” brand of politics back in the 90s. If it’s biting them in the ass now, so be it. I have zero sympathy.

I don’t know if Democrats do or don’t “hate” their political adversaries. But I do know we’ve had enough of their bullshit, and if they don’t like it? Tough.

The “Fuck your Feelings” crowd can go practice what they preach.

OK, I feel better now. I’m glad I got that out of my system. Oh, wait…


And Allen West? Go fuck yourself. Dat true too.


OK, now I’m good.