Saturday, March 7, 2020

Not going to lie, not up for this tonight. I’m in a foul mood with a dark cloud hanging over. Plus, I’m tired of feeling crappy all week and wanting to do nothing but sleep. It drags you down, man.

So, we’ll fill up the word count and see what happens. The News is still dominated by how badly we’re all bungling the response to CORVID-19, particularly in the States. I’m still of the mind that while a bit of foresight, preparation and that preparation that’s worth a pound of cure, but I also wonder if we’re tripping on the edge of hysteria.

Of course, the unsettling about this is that we still don’t know was too much about this virus, how it spreads and how it affects people. Although it was handled terribly, it’s probably for the best that something like SXSW was canceled. One of the things about CORVID-19 is that people can be carriers just as easily as show symptoms. Someone from the recent CPAC right-wing hoedown has turned up with the virus, for example, and that all went down before the virus was known to have reached these shores.

Okay for that. I could write about Matt Gaetz being a dick. Heard about that? He poked fun at the concern over CORVID-19 on a vote in the House the other day by wearing a gas mask, because he’s Trump’s boy and a good solider. Then, turns out someone in his district has died due to the virus. What a card. But again, who with any sort of thumb on the political pulse doesn’t know Gaetz is a shitty human being is willfully not paying attention.

But screw that guy, really. I am not in the mood to give anyone who kisses up to Trump that bad the benefit of the doubt. Hey, an update on that coronavirus-CPAC encounter. Head Kleagle Matt Schlapp says he interacted with the infected person and shook hands with Lord Trump. A notorious germaphobe, I wonder if this will put a dent in Trump’s flippancy when it comes to the virus spreading.

Tired of thinking about that mess, let’s move on. Fourth-rate Bond villain, mercenary pimp, and Betsy DeVos’ brother Erik Prince is in the news as it turns out he’s been bringing in former U.S. and U.K. spies to infiltrate liberal and Democratic groups. And you thought Nixon had some buttholes working for him. The head of private military group Blackwater, Prince also has a hand in with groups like Focus On The Family and other hardcore Evangelical groups, so you know he’s got a blackened and burnt soul.

This is, of course, nothing new. The American government has a long, long history of spying on left-wing groups, from the labor movement of the ’20s right on up to COININTELPRO, an FBI-run program which did it’s damnedest to bring down un-American commies in the ’60s like the Black Panthers, the Free Speech Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King.

Interestingly, use of a private defense agency like Blackwater, or Academi as it’s now called, isn’t quite so unusual in American History. As we mentioned about, the anarchism and trade labor movements of the Gilded Age and early 20th Century as often as not faced off against the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, a group of slope-forehead thugs who made their bones busting up labor strikes and brain cases 100 years ago before we got actual state-paid cops to do that. About the only good they ever did was help give Dashiell Hammett a career, which almost makes it worth them not boiling in the own oil in Hell for all eternity. I’m a fan of the hardboiled mystery scribe, though – particularly The Thin Man – and, thus, lack objectivity. So go on ahead, Satan.

For what it’s worth, the group – now calling itself just Pinkerton – is still in the minion-supply business and have adapted to the 21st century by helping bust up striking telecom workers for a Virginia-based corporation called Frontier Communications. In any event, one thing private groups like the Pinkertons or Blackwater have over government-supplied bully boys is they’re not quite as beholden to silly little things like the law, having a bit more wiggle room when it comes to viciousness.

Blackwater first came to public attention during the Iraq War, when they used shockingly brutal tactics while involved, for some reason I’ve never been able to ascertain, in intelligence gathering. Indeed, former Blackwater thug Nicholas Slatten was recently sentenced to life for his role in the Nisour Square Massacre in 2007, where mercenaries shot into a crowd of Iraqi citizens, killing 17, injuring 20 and straining the already tense U.S.-post-Saddam Iraqi government relations just that much more. Of course, Trump is considering a pardon for Slatten because why not, nothing matters anymore.

The upshot of all this is, in these times of police departments openly supporting fascists, alt-right and neo-Nazi groups while Republican-run city and state governments go out of their way to blame AntiFa for an increase in everything from traffic violations to public lewdness, remember that particularly wild-eyed new member of your local Democratic Socialist get-together suggesting Direct Action against a local kindergarten might be a future Trump pardon himself. So watch your ass, is all I’m saying. They don’t play fair, squeal like stuck pigs if you hit back, and the law has taken their side.

Anyhow. That’s enough gloom and doom for one Saturday evening, I think. I’ve been listening to a lot of Swamp Dogg lately and you should, too. Maybe buy his new record, Sorry You Couldn’t Make It. He’s been flying under the radar his whole career and I’m glad he’s getting his just due. I’ve been reading Ranier Maria Rilke’s Letters To A Young Poet again, looking for inspiration, and spending a lot of time playing Two Worlds 2. A bog-standard hack-and-slash fantasy game, and a fairly pedestrian one at that, but where you sort of have to play a morally questionable person rather than making use of the binary choice systems many RPG’s use. Like Billy Preston said, let the bad guy ever once in a while.

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