Tag Archives: religion

The witch doctor—unmasked

COMMENT.WITCHDOCTOR

The real and very famous Dr. Ben Carson is indeed a witch doctor in the political stratosphere, full of ridiculous economic and foreign policy nostrums and voodoo.

by Dell Franklin

For a while it seemed the witch doctor possessed a suit of armor even the clever and pugnacious Donald Trump could not dent, much less pierce—he was a famously successful black man with a great American come-up-from-the-bootstraps story as well as blessed by the Lord and in the mold of ultra-conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, the exact kind of black man George H.W. Bush and the GOP brain trust loved to shove up the asses of politically correct white liberal Democrats.

The witch doctor did not use street lingo even if he was from the mean streets of Detroit and never uttered “y’all, or “you all.” The witch doctor carefully refrained from insulting his whiter-than-white competition and realized if he raised his voice or engaged in salty invective he would lapse into the stereotype of the white man’s version of the angry “uppity nigger.” The witch doctor was not an amen-shouting, gospel-singing, rocking-in-the-aisles Jesus-chanting Baptist but instead a deeply religious strangely serene Seventh Day Adventist who didn’t believe in evolution or climate change and claimed when he was at his lowest as a street psychopath he met God and found his path to being a world-famous neurosurgeon. The witch doctor was sweetly mellow and exuded a calm patience and tolerance toward his inquisitors when they tried to pigeon-hole him on his views, which he wriggled out of with some unusual circular double-talk that made absolutely no sense but was so coated in sugar that even his absurd flat tax or tithing and comparison of Obamacare to slavery was given a free ride.

The Donald searched for an opening to wound the great witch doctor as he gained ground on him and passed him in the polls after the Donald smugly conceded he was a “nice guy” when he was ahead. None of the candidates knew how to puncture the now front-running witch doctor as he continued his slew of sweetness to the evangelicals who would vote for a person capable of destroying the planet with either war or the denial of climate change as long as he promised to eliminate Planned Parenthood and believed in the rapture.

But the Donald played his cards just right, waiting for the dreaded, hated and despicable media to nail the witch doctor, and when they did, on exaggerations and myth-making of his personal history, the Donald, who also despises the dreaded, hated and despicable media and makes no secret of it, pounced, making a mockery of the witch doctor alluding to his own words of characterizing himself—the witch doctor—as a “psychopath” as a young kid in the ghetto. Ahh, the Donald instantly went after the witch doctor like a shark in a feeding frenzy.

As soon as the media began finding lies in his great story of “Gifted Hands,” the witch doctor began whining and blaming and turned into a petulant aggrieved wounded black man who now had to absorb far more media abuse than the dreaded, hated and despicable Obama ever had to absorb, boohoo. In fact, the witch doctor had to, in his own words, absorb more scrutiny and “vicious lies” than anybody in the history of the country, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, or anybody else who ever ran for high office in America!

The witch doctor is being persecuted because he is so perfect and genuine that the dreaded, hated, despicable media, along with the cruel incompetent Democrats, cannot stand it. They are “desperate” to take him down because they are terrified he will defeat them. During a press conference where his honesty was questioned, the witch doctor’s calm and pleasant and always sweet demeanor became animated and his eyes turned stony as he lashed out at his inquisitors, waving his arms around, adhering to the last bastion for politicians caught in double-talk or outright deception—blame the media!

***

The witch doctor is indeed a DOCTOR! Doctors in this country are exalted, placed on pedestals as the last saviors between sickness, pain and death. We worship them. We go to them hat in hand in our ignorance of our latest maladies in shrieking fear they will maim or kill us, and doctors make it all better and we want to hug them out of appreciation and gratefulness.

Doctors do not accept anybody taking them to task. They are in charge. They tell nurses and lab techs and anybody in their paths what to do and show up only to operate or diagnose, and very briefly consult. They are our gods, and if they’re good enough to heal us, well, like the witch doctor, they’re good enough to run the country.

But like all control freaks and egomaniacs, the witch doctor was not satisfied with his accomplishments and needed to embellish them further so nobody could ever question his greatness, his rightfulness, and when they did, he was outraged. As the inquisition from the dreaded, hateful, despicable media increased in its frenzy, the more grumpily the witch doctor whined and double-talked and denied; and the more angrily he condemned the media the more outraged his deluded evangelical tribe became and the more money they poured into his coffers.

The real and very famous Dr. Ben Carson is indeed a witch doctor in the political stratosphere, full of ridiculous economic and foreign policy nostrums and voodoo unfit for anybody outside of his deluded evangelical tribe to swallow. When it comes right down to it, he is the low-key evangelist mesmerizing his flock with the identical bullshit that has bamboozled those who want to believe for eons, the same evangelists who eventually get caught with prostitutes of either sex or the greedy feathering of their own nests with profligate spending on luxurious mansions, and profess their great contrition in tearful humility as their patient wives hang on and the disappointed flocks hang on too, believing the Lord forgives, and of course he does, just like he will the witch doctor when the country finds out what a complete fraud he is. §

Dell Franklin writes from his home in Cayucos, Calif., where he lives with his rescue dog, Wilbur. He’s the author of The Ball Player’s Son, a memoir about his father, Murray Franklin, and the early days of big league baseball. Visit his website: dellfranklin.com

Godzilla, wingnuts and water

CITY LIFE.GODZILLA.TROUGH COW

I take a long draught from the bottle of well water I carry with me in the field. Like all the other critters, I’m thirsty. I’m lucky to drink from a well that still runs. photos by stacey warde

by Stacey Warde

We get lots of European and Asian travelers this time of year, when summer morphs into fall and rain-starved Californians look expectantly to the season’s first downpour.

The tourists cruise excruciatingly slow along winding spectacular Highway 1, the coastal route through Big Sur; hordes of them park along viewpoints, at the cliff’s edge, laughing, taking pictures, peering down into the vast sun-burnished Pacific, then hop into their rental cars and RVs to hog the road again.

If you happen to be on the road at the same time it’s an agonizing slog behind a train of tourists who have no clue about pulling over to let others pass, or how bad is our drought or the state of the union.

Invariably, they pass through Cayucos, our little hamlet by the sea. I meet a Japanese man at a coffee shop in town who stops for the sights. “What is, ‘Wingnut’?” he asks, pointing at a “we have the right to refuse service” sign behind the counter.

I spin my index finger around my ear, “Crazy.” I show him how a wingnut works, spinning an imaginary one around my finger. “They’re spun tight.”

He laughs as though he gets my drift, and nods repeatedly, “Ok, ok, ok,” he says, heading quickly for the exit, “thank you!”

“I might have given him a few more examples,” I say to the barista, thinking of a few politicians, gun kooks, mass shooters and deniers of climate change, “but I don’t know if he would appreciate them.”

***

I spend most of my days alone, working in the orchard, a quiet working retreat away from the flow of tourists and the brutish world of American politics and wingnuts.

A lone hawk screeches in the gray distance overhead, obscured by the canopy of avocado trees under which I labor. A large dark avocado, a late ripener, drops heavily, clunking through the leaves and branches above until it plops to the ground with a thud. I’m glad it doesn’t drop on my head. It’s plump and weighty and I know how much it hurts to get bonked by one.

The only sound besides the hawk, is the breeze sweeping dry leaves along the ground, and brushing back green leaves in the trees. I stop to listen. The harvest ended several weeks ago, only a few ripe stragglers remain, like the one that just fell, hidden from view from a flush of new growth.

The leaves tremble in succession from one tree to the next, as warm air whooshes through the orchard like a twirling, invisible dancer. More fruit falls in its path. Plop, plop, plop. The season has turned ghostly. It’s fall in California, even though most days it still feels hot, dry and summer-hardened.

An abundance of lime-green bulbs, about the shape and size of small pears, grows on the trees, the promise of a new crop, next season’s harvest, food for avocado lovers, provided all goes well, no frosts, wind storms, or pestilence, and a winter full of rain.

Another winter without rain, however, will turn this semi-arid region of extreme drought into a desert with devastating crop losses, catastrophic fires, and panic for nearly 40 million residents competing with their straws for less and less of the less-than-half-full glass that remains of the state’s water.

Days like this, without the shortening and lengthening of shadows, time stands still; it’s hard to worry about shortages, difficult people, and lumbering RVs in the bleak white blanket of a thick marine layer, harder still to imagine this place without water, the only way these trees will survive or produce more fruit.

This morning’s cloud cover, the first heavy bit of moisture we’ve had in weeks, will soon give way to blue sky and sun. Until recently, however, there’s been little to no marine layer, unusual for coastal weather, the hot dry easterlies prevail, blowing like a furnace down the mountain passes and through the valleys, raising temperatures to record levels.

“This feels really unnatural. When’s it going to finally rain?” I hear people ask.

“Soon, I hope.”

Tourists—and some residents—seem to have no clue how dire things are.

Late October, and it’s still ungodly hot. Whether it’s unnatural I can’t say but the ongoing heat and sun have sucked whatever moisture was left in this drought-stricken land a long time ago, leaving plant and animal parched for precious water. Sightings of coyotes and mountain lions have become more common as they come down from the hills to search for food and water. Dried up reservoirs give the best visual of how bad it is.

Signs posted along rural roads in Paso Robles wine country tell another story, “DRY WELL.”

In some places, we’re drawing water from the Pleistocene era. Yet, we still must contend with billionaire water smugglers buying up properties in the north county so they can suck up, bottle and ship elsewhere what little of our water is left so they can get rich. I take a long draught from the bottle of well water I carry with me in the field. Like all the other critters, I’m thirsty. I’m lucky to drink from a well that still runs. I refuse to buy FIJI Water.

The sun’s intensity frightens rather than warms with its penetrating rays. I’ve already felt the knife to remove three melanomas, a skin cancer that will kill if left untreated. And these were borne from days of exposure when the sun felt—and probably was—much less intense.

Now, the sun itself cuts, its rays slashing through fiber and filament, making it unpleasant to bear more than a few minutes of exposure, as if the sun might actually make an incision and draw blood. I’m lucky to be working in the shadows of an avocado canopy that spreads out over several acres for which, thankfully, there’s still enough water to irrigate, and cover enough to stay sheltered from the direct sun.

As we head into the rainy season, all the prognosticators point to a potentially record winter with wetter-than-normal rainfall, fueled by what has been billed as a “Godzilla” El Niño. The above-normal temperatures of the Pacific  Ocean will pack our winter storms with a powerful punch, driving a flow of moisture and rain like a machine, dumping buckets as they go, forecasters say. We need the water and the snowpack to lessen the dire state of its lack in the region’s worst drought in 1,200 years, according to those who have studied the phenomenon. But even Noah’s flood, apparently, won’t fix the drought.

Farmers fret as water shortages threaten to destroy field crops and fruit-bearing trees, and land sinks from an overdraft of groundwater in the Central Valley, while rich celebrities sitting pretty in LA and the Bay Area pour tens of thousands of gallons of water on their estate lawns and gardens.

The rationale, presumably, is that they will pay the fines and rate hikes, no big deal, they’ve got plenty of money. But what happens when there’s no more water? What good will their money do then? It’s a mindset that never ceases to amaze me, the “la-de-fucking-da” attitude toward precious resources like water.

Before the West’s major water projects, many driven by greed, land values in California, where there wasn’t any water, were cheap, even beachfront property. But land grabbers like William Mulholland fixed that, securing millions for himself and his friends in one of the state’s most ambitious and notoriously crooked water projects to develop the San Fernando Valley and LA basin. Water wars are nothing new here.

Only the promise and supply of water can keep us alive, let alone wealthy, and from cutting one another’s throats.

***

For sure, as I might have informed my Japanese friend, we have our share of wingnuts in this country and, like the rest of the world, they’re either politicians or religious or angry young men intent on killing, or scientifically challenged, many with their own radio shows, unable to fathom the potential devastation—extremes in weather, for example—from climate change, and who for no other reason than lack of an educated and critical mind don’t know the difference between civil law and religious superstition.

I wonder how so many seemingly intelligent people, Americans especially, since we presumably value a good education, can be so easily fooled by the crooked and the small-minded, giving precious time, energy and money to mean and vicious people and causes.

The GOP, for example, is in disarray, hobbled by the mean and nasty, ultra-right wing rabble, mostly members of the so-called Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives, attempting to hijack the government, threatening at every turn to shut it down. I don’t understand or like this kind of thinking—if you can call it that—from hijackers and so-called “freedom” fighters. Yet, I encounter them nearly every day—not only in the news but in the coffee shops, bars and workplaces here at home.

“How come you have to be such a fucking liberal?” a local farmer and freedom fighter once asked me during a political talk. Not long after that, he cut off my water supply to a field I was tending on his farm. I begged him for water as the heat of summer intensified and the plants began to wilt and fruit was forming but going bad. He refused, the ripening fruit fell off, and we lost our harvest and all of the income from our hard  labor.

I’d rather be a liberal than someone who sabotages another’s labor or livelihood on the basis of politics and grudges, unless of course I want to start a revolution, or recklessly meddle in other people’s affairs, or become a hater and a fool, of whom we already have plenty. Only the wicked, as I  understand, seek to destroy what another has built to provide for himself and his family. Only a fool will try usurp what is not his to own or possess.

***

CITY LIFE.GODZILLA.COW IN FIELDIn many ways, I live and work like a hermit, mostly alone with plenty of—maybe too much—time to think. I like being physically active. It gets my mind off things, and that’s a saving grace out here. Still, the mind will play tricks. Maybe the world isn’t all quite as bad as I imagine, not as long as the sentient and wise prevail, who nonetheless appear to have been purged from the planet.

The only reliable witnesses to truth in this era are the modern court jesters—Steven Colbert, Jon Stewart, Matt and Trey and now Trevor Noah—the wise clowns and fools on network television, who aren’t afraid to mock and laugh at the pretenses and posturing of those who wish to put on a show and wear the emperor’s new clothes and get promoted by real fools.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling beat up from my labors, lower back complaints, hips, feet, neck and shoulders and try not to be too discouraged. But an even deeper hurt speaks to me: Where do I belong? Where’s my home? What happened to my country?

A lone plane passes overhead and the wind brushes through the leaves again. Two hawks soar silently above the southeastern hills, taking updrafts, diving, circling back, climbing, climbing, and circling closer and closer until they clip wings as they swing past each other in the late afternoon breeze, an aerial dance all predicated on food and water.

Through the long rows of trees, in the tunnel of green they form, I try to follow a light path but seem to carry a heavy burden. Imagine living fully present, I think, fully engaged. How would that look? What worries then? What difference would it make? It’s all I’ve got, really, to keep from falling into a pit of despair thinking of how far we’ve fallen as a “free” nation, where people will as quickly piss in their water as drink it.

I enjoy seeing my hometown through the eyes of tourists who pass through and look with wonder upon the beaches and ocean that surround us, who are curious and wonder, “What is, ‘Wingnut’?” They keep it fresh and real.

For the first time since late last winter, I hear the sound of a tree frog in the orchard. They’ve been so quiet in the dried up creek at home. Last winter they were so loud one had to raise a voice to be heard. If and when they return, the roads will be slick and wet and the road to Big Sur much less traveled, and Godzilla will be pouring down his fury upon us. §

Stacey Warde is a farmhand and publisher of TheRogueVoice.com. He can be reached at roguewarde@gmail.com.