During the Democratic primaries, I initially supported John Edwards. The reasons were mostly pragmatic. Though I would have been delighted to see history made having either the first female or first African-American president, I was concerned that they might lose and another four years of a neocon just seemed like a really bad idea. Additionally, Edwards was the only Southerner out of the three (and might then carry the South, always an issue for “carpetbagger” candidates) and didn’t seem to draw the same ire that Hillary Clinton did (and still does) from the radical right.
However, on top of that, Edwards was the only one making poverty, and not the goddam-stop-repeating-it-over-and-over 9/11 and War of Terror the centerpiece of his campaign. He sounded like the only one interested in being serious about what needed to be done domestically.
Over at No Quarter, Larry Johnson was firmly in the Hillary Clinton camp. Bill Ayres had been one reason he disliked Obama. I had mostly assumed that had been because Johnson had been part of the anti-terror effort during his time at CIA.
There was also the kind of thing that my dad would (and still likely will) repeat over and over about the corruption in Illinois politics. Blogoyevich would be an example of that very thing. But then corruption in politics was no stranger to Tennessee either. There was an imprisoned road supervisor, for one, who allegedly shot at his own pickup truck to fake that the mayor and sheriff were out to get him for revealing a massive drug syndicate that the others were running. I expect that that was likely an exaggerated version of the truth and that he did shoot the truck himself in order to distract from his own kickback scandal. Nevertheless, Henry County had been known in the 80s as one of the biggest pot farm places in the country. There was a lot of effort put into finding those farms by plane, but there were also rumors of some public figures taking bribes to ignore some of it.
When Edwards dropped out (we would find out later over affairs and even an out of wedlock baby), I had to make another choice.
I was on the fence about it. I knew next to nothing about Obama, and as previously noted I did well financially under Bill Clinton.
Then there was what Johnson had said. He said that he and former ambassador Joe Wilson had met with Hillary and that she had promised some kind of justice for what happened to Joe’s wife Valerie. I had actually lost any hope that anything was going to come of that. Patrick Fitzgerald had failed to get further than Scooter Libby, so while it was still a sore issue with me, I had no hopes of seeing anything that might lead to preventing such abuses in the future.
I did still go through some debate in my head. Hillary was a US Senator from New York. Maybe that was good for New York. Recognition can bring national attention to issues that other lesser known Senators might not be able to achieve.
When the primaries rolled around, I voted for Hillary. I was surprised, but not altogether disappointed, when Obama got the nomination. I had friends, some of them twenty-somethings, who had bought into what Obama was saying about change.
One spent quite a bit of time explaining to me how Obama was going to calmly and rationally talk some sense into the Republicans.
That initiated some discussion of what had happened in the 90s. Bill Clinton had tried to meet the Republicans half way (by, for example, gutting welfare, though at a time when unemployment was very low) and the GOP moved where halfway was. Clinton had taken a step towards the right and Gingrich and others had taken three in the same direction. This may have continued a few times, drawing the Democrats ever further to the Right. I am speaking of course of mostly domestic policy. As Jeremy Scahill is fond of pointing out (and is correct in doing so) where foreign policy is concerned, the difference is negligible. Some Democrats will disagree, but when it comes especially to covert ops and military operations short of full out invasion, they basically do the same thing. Poverty stricken foreigners pay the price for the corrupt governments and radical neighbors they have and can do nothing to remove.
My partner and I went on a domestic vacation (we had previously visited France and Denmark twice, and Norway and the Netherlands once). This time it was Boston and the Northeast. We wound up on a beach in Kennebunkport during the trip. Locals reminded me that this was home to the senior Bush and Barbara, but I thought little of that.
It was a nice trip. We found that there was not a lot of lobster to be had due to red tide. Essentially, red tide puts lobsters into hibernation and they don’t migrate as far inland when that’s the case.
There were also all too frequent gay slurs bandied about in the bars we went to. That was a little jarring. I would have expected that in Alabama, but not Massachusetts. That didn’t happen so much in Boston but in the other places we went.
There was a welcome relief over being away from work for a while and writing. There were no more strange occurrences. Things seemed to be returning to normal.
I spoke to a husband of a friend of my partner’s while we were having dinner in Boston. I mentioned that I’d been uncharacteristically cheery and energetic for several months and then suddenly in a funk come March. He said that for some reason, his business (psychological counseling) always seemed to pick up around that time.
Speaking to a pre-med student later in the year, he would (cautioning that true diagnosis can only be done with time and under the care of a professional) say that is sounded a bit like a form of seasonal manic/depression (the name of which escapes me as I write this). I’d think for a while that that was the explanation. But then I wouldn’t be thinking of what lead up to it nor did I know then the details of MKULTRA.
By the time the Fall came, I had finished Blindsight and then started and completed reading the Rifters trilogy by Peter Watts. I had also taken a look at his blog, though I don’t remember quite when I actually started posting comments on it.
A lot of what Watts talked about, seemed to excite him, was strange science. Whenever I came across an article on something like that, that reminded me of something in the Rifters books, I’d email him a link and make a comment.
One example was the “zombie ant,” a parasite that causes ants to climb to the top end of blades of grass. There, the ant might be picked up and eaten by a bird, allowing the parasite to multiply.
When people initially hear of something like that, they often wonder, “How does the parasite know to make the ant do that?” It sounds like reasoning of some sort, so how can this brainless thing cause another creature to do its bidding?
The answer of course is evolution. Hypothetcally, there were similar parasites that caused their hosts to do other behaviors. Because those behaviors did not result in multiplying, those parasites died out.
Basically, it was a crap shoot and the winners moved on, the losers did not. Conditions and chance decided the outcome. It doesn’t know, isn’t conscious (at all in fact) merely doing what it does just like a cold makes you sneeze and cough, spreading itself to your family, friends, co-workers.
When October or November rolled around, the energy suddenly came back. Perhaps it wasn’t as strong as the last time or maybe I was just better at managing it, but I didn’t repeat the kinds of things that had happened the previous Spring.
And I had a new idea for a story. This time I decided to self-publish a comic mini-series. First I was thinking twelve issues. Then, as the costs became more apparent, I figured six. Then later I tried to figure out how to do it in four or five.
By March of 2009, I had found the artist I was going to use. This project was actually going to happen, at least the first issue.
I woke one morning thinking about how the dogs were getting older. There was a reminder card from the vet that they needed shots. I pushed for getting an appointment and so my partner and I took them over.
Within the next week or so, Thorin would start losing a scary amount or weight. I could touch fingers and thumbs around his belly without squeezing. We could not figure out what the cause was. Eventually, they prescribed some vitamins and change of diet and he stopped losing and later started gaining weight.
Some time into that, Cleo started limping. We assumed it was due to the vet assistant taking her upstairs for her shot. She had not been cooperative and that was where they could restrain animals who they were concerned might bite.
It would turn out, as she got worse and it became clear that she was also very weak, that that had not been the problem. What was happening, the vet explained, was that she was losing red blood cells. Her white blood cells were killing the red ones. They said that they had no idea what was causing it.
My partner (mostly) spent a great deal of money on trying to get her healthy, blood transfusions, and seeing a specialist at a clinic in Manhattan. He worked at Google , having left the French bank years before. In fact it was Google that had at last put his salary over mine, not to mention the bonuses and stock options.
By September, just about the time that the comic was finished and published, we were at our wits’ ends. One specialist stated that removing Cleo’s spleen might tell what the problem was, might even be spleen cancer causing it. My partner was out of town, so I was facing this conversation alone.
What were the odds that it would help? “50-50,” he said.
I had to have a conversation with my partner who was in California at the time over the cellphone and lousy reception to decide if we wanted to do it or not. While I did love that dog, it was an awful lot more money to be throwing out there on a fifty-fifty. What pushed me into a “yes” was actually that I didn’t want her to die because my partner loved that dog so very much. He had already lost his mother and grandmother to cancer and his sister was ill with breast cancer, sometimes flying to Manhattan for some treatments. I was willing to let Cleo go for me, but not for him. It was in some ways obscene spending so much money on a dog when there was so much misery in the world affecting people.
The surgery didn’t help. The surgeon, who happened to be an Arabic man, had promised to call me and let me know either way. He didn’t. Three days went by and I heard nothing from him. I finally got angry and called and a different vet agreed to meet with us. It may have been due to a bad vaccine, he said.
The first indication of any idea of what had happened and it was after a low five figures had been spent.
The last time I saw Cleo, she was strangely behaving more like her old self. I wondered since if it weren’t because she wanted to spare me the pain.
My partner would again be out of town when the last ditch efforts were being made and failed. We would both be on the line with the vet when he said if it were his dog, he would at that point put her to sleep. We agreed, from opposite coasts.
It would be many months, maybe a year, before I’d recall a subplot from one of the Rifters books . There’s a character, a psychopath who the megaconglomerate corporation uses as a drone pilot to guiltlessly exterminate people with what are essentially advanced drones. The reasons vary…outbreak, rebellion, just because. The character’s cat gets injured and, because of various problems veterinarians don’t have the resources to use on pets, such things are basically only allowed to expend resources on human beings. The cat dies. The psychopath uses a small drone to paralyze the vet and his wife while killing their infant and making them watch.
Once again, employees of (now, after January of 2009) Barack Obama try to push me to violence. There would never be, of course, any kind of federal or even NYPD inquiry into the death of a dog . It therefore made for the perfect provocation. Only they and I know for certain what happened.
Likely, many of you don’t believe me now.
Here’s item 10 from that 1955 draft MKULTRA memo:
10. Substances which produce physical disablement such as paralysis of the legs, acute anemia, etc.
Cleo’s illness wouldn’t be the last thing that would happen that would make me refer to item 10.
1 Priest, Dana and William M. Arkin, “Top Secret America – Google as contractor to NSA,” Washington Post, 2010:
2 Watts, Peter, Maelstrom, October 2001, Tor Books, ISBN 978-0-312-87806-1.
See character Achilles Desjardins.
3 Even though all of the harassment I am describing is illegal under federal law.
Conspiracy Against Rights, Title 18 USC Section 241: