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government | imperialism & war selection 2004

Hunter S. Thompson: Ugly, Tasteless, Terrifying and Wild... Count Me In!

"Four more years of George Bush will be like four more years of syphilis," the famed author said yesterday at a hastily called press conference near his home in Woody Creek, Colorado.
Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson
He's been America's most unorthodox political commentator for more than 30 years. But for Dr Hunter S Thompson the Bush presidency is evil beyond belief - and judgment is nigh

by Hunter S. Thompson

The genetically vicious nature of presidential campaigns in America is too obvious to argue with, but some people call it fun, and I am one of them. Election day - especially when it's a presidential election - is always a wild and terrifying time for politics junkies, and I am one of those, too. We look forward to major election days like sex addicts look forward to orgies. We are slaves to them.

Which is not a bad thing, all in all, for the winners. They are not the ones who bitch and whine about slavery when the votes are finally counted and the losers are forced to get down on their knees. No. The slaves who emerge victorious from these drastic public decisions go crazy with joy and plunge each other into deep tubs of chilled Cristal champagne with naked strangers who want to be close to a winner.

That is how it works in the victory business. You see it every time. The weak suck up to the strong, for fear of losing their jobs and money and all the fickle power they wielded only 24 hours ago. It is like suddenly losing your wife and your home in a vagrant poker game, then having to go on the road with whoremongers and beg for your dinner in public. Nobody wants to hire a loser. Right? They stink of doom and defeat.

"What is that horrible smell in the office, Tex? It's making me sick."

"That is the smell of a loser, senator. He came in to apply for a job, but we tossed him out immediately. Sgt Sloat took him down to the parking lot and taught him a lesson he will never forget."

"Good work, Tex. And how are you coming with my new enemies list? I want them all locked up. They are scum."

"We will punish them brutally. They are terrorist sympathizers, and most of them voted against you. I hate those bastards."

"Thank you, Sloat. You are a faithful servant. Come over here and kneel down. I want to reward you."

That is the nature of high-risk politics. Veni, vidi, vici, especially among Republicans. It's like the ancient Bedouin saying: "As the camel falls to its knees, more knives are drawn."

Presidential politics is a vicious business, even for rich white men, and anybody who gets into it should be prepared to grapple with the meanest of the mean. The White House has never been seized by timid warriors. There are no rules, and the roadside is littered with wreckage. That is why they call it the passing lane. Just ask any candidate who ever ran against George Bush - Al Gore, Ann Richards, John McCain - all of them ambushed and vanquished by lies and dirty tricks. And all of them still whining about it.

That is why George W Bush is President of the United States, and Al Gore is not. Bush simply wanted it more, and he was willing to demolish anything that got in his way, including the US Supreme Court. It is not by accident that the Bush White House (read: Dick Cheney & Halliburton Inc) controls all three branches of our federal government today. They are powerful thugs who would far rather die than lose the election in November.

The Republican establishment is haunted by painful memories of what happened to Old Man Bush in 1992. He peaked too early, and he had no response to "It's the economy, stupid." Which has always been the case. Every GOP administration since 1952 has let the Military-Industrial Complex loot the Treasury and plunge the nation into debt on the excuse of a wartime economic emergency. Richard Nixon comes quickly to mind, along with Ronald Reagan and his ridiculous "trickle-down" theory of US economic policy. If the rich get richer, the theory goes, before long their pots will overflow and somehow "trickle down" to the poor, who would rather eat scraps off the Bush family plates than eat nothing at all. Republicans have never approved of democracy, and they never will. It goes back to pre-industrial America, when only white male property owners could vote.

Things haven't changed much where George W Bush comes from. Houston is a cruel, crazy town on a filthy river in East Texas with no zoning laws and a culture of sex, money and violence. It's a shabby, sprawling metropolis ruled by brazen women, crooked cops and super-rich pansexual cowboys who live by the code of the West - which can mean just about anything you need it to mean, in a pinch.

Houston is also the unnatural home of two out of the last three presidents of the United States of America, for good or ill. The other one was a handsome, sex-crazed boy from next-door Arkansas, which has no laws against any deviant practice not specifically forbidden in the New Testament, including anal incest and public cunnilingus with farm animals.

Back in 1948, during his first race for the US Senate, Lyndon Johnson was running about 10 points behind, with only nine days to go. He was desperate. And it was just before noon on a Monday, they say, when he called his equally depressed campaign manager and told him to call a press conference for just before lunch on a slow news day and accuse his high-riding opponent, a pig farmer, of having routine carnal knowledge of his sows, despite the pleas of his wife and children.

His campaign manager was shocked. "We can't say that, Lyndon," he supposedly said. "You know that it isn't true."

"Of course it's not!" Johnson barked. "But let's make the bastard deny it!"

Johnson - a Democrat, like Bill Clinton - won that election by fewer than 100 votes, and after that he was home free. He went on to rule Texas and the US Senate for 20 years and to be the most powerful vice president in the history of the United States. Until now.

Armageddon came early for George Bush this year, and he was not ready for it. His long-awaited showdowns with John Kerry turned into a series of embarrassments that broke his nerve and demoralized his closest campaign advisers. They knew he would never recover, no matter how many votes they could steal for him in Florida, where the presidential debates were closely watched and widely celebrated by millions of Kerry supporters who suddenly had reason to feel like winners.

Kerry came into October as a five-point underdog with almost no chance of winning three out of three rigged confrontations with a treacherous little freak like George Bush. But the debates are over now, and the victor was John Kerry every time. He steamrollered Bush and left him for roadkill.

Did you see Bush on TV, trying to debate? Jesus, he talked like a donkey with no brains at all. The tide turned early, in Coral Gables, when Bush went belly up less than halfway through his first bout with Kerry, who hammered poor George into jelly. It was pitiful... I almost felt sorry for him, until I heard someone call him "Mister President", and then I felt ashamed.

Karl Rove, the President's political wizard, felt even worse. There is angst in the heart of Texas today, and panic in the bowels of the White House. Rove has a nasty little problem, and its name is George Bush. The president failed miserably from the instant he got onstage with John Kerry. He looked weak and dumb. Kerry beat him like a gong in Coral Gables, then again in St Louis and Tempe. That is Rove's problem. His candidate is a weak-minded frat boy who cracks under pressure in front of 60 million voters.

Bush signed his own death warrant in the opening round, when he finally had to speak without his teleprompter. It was a Cinderella story brought up to date in Florida that night - except this time, the false prince turned back into a frog.

Immediately after the first debate ended, I called Muhammad Ali at his home in Michigan, but whoever answered said the champ was laughing so hard that he couldn't come to the phone. "The debate really cracked him up," he chuckled. "The champ loves a good ass-whuppin'. He says Bush looked so scared to fight, he finally just quit and laid down."

This year's first presidential debate was such a disaster for George Bush that his handlers had to be crazy to let him get in the ring with John Kerry again. Yet Karl Rove let it happen, and we can only wonder why. But there is no doubt that the president has lost his nerve, and his career in the White House is finished. No mas.

Indeed. The numbers are weird today, and so is this dangerous election. The time has come to rumble, to inject a bit of fun into politics. That's exactly what the debates did. John Kerry looked like a winner, and it energized his troops. Voting for Kerry is starting to look like serious fun for everyone except poor George, who now looks like a loser. That is fatal in a presidential election.

I look at elections with the cool and dispassionate gaze of a professional gambler, especially when I'm betting real money on the outcome. Contrary to most conventional wisdom, I see Kerry with five points as a recommended risk. Kerry will win this election, if it happens, by a bigger margin than Bush finally gouged out of Florida in 2000. That was about 46 per cent, plus five points for owning the US Supreme Court - which seemed to equal 51 per cent. Nobody really believed that, but George W Bush moved into the White House anyway.

It was the most brutal seizure of power since Hitler burned the Reichstag in 1933 and declared himself the new boss of Germany. Karl Rove is no stranger to Nazi strategy, if only because it worked for a while, and it was sure fun for Hitler. But not for long. He ran out of oil, the whole world hated him, and he liked to gobble pure crystal biphetamine and stay awake for eight days in a row with his maps and bombers and his dope-addled general staff.

They all loved the whiff. It is the perfect drug for war, as long as you are winning, and Hitler thought he was king of the hill forever. He had created a new master race, and every one of them worshipped him. They were fanatics. That was 66 years ago, and things are not much different today. We still love war.

George Bush certainly does. In four short years he has turned our country from a prosperous nation at peace into a desperately indebted nation at war. But so what? He is the President of the United States, and you're not. Love it or leave it.


"Four more years of George Bush will be like four more years of syphilis," the famed author said yesterday at a hastily called press conference near his home in Woody Creek, Colorado.

"Only a fool or a sucker would vote for a dangerous loser like Bush. He hates everything we stand for, and he knows we will vote against him in November." Thompson, well known for the eerie accuracy of his political instincts, went on to denounce Ralph Nader as "a worthless Judas goat with no moral compass."

"I endorsed John Kerry a long time ago," he said, "and I will do everything in my power, short of roaming the streets with a meat hammer, to help him be the next president of the United States."

Which is true. I said all those things, and I will say them again. Of course I will vote for John Kerry. I have known him for 30 years as a good man with a brave heart - which is more than even the President's friends will tell you about George W Bush, who is also an old acquaintance from the white-knuckle days of yesteryear. He is hated all over the world, including large parts of Texas, and he is taking us all down with him. Bush is a natural-born loser with a filthy-rich daddy who pimped his son out to rich oil-mongers. He hates music, football and sex, and he is no fun at all.

I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, but I won't make that mistake again. The joke is over for Nader. He was funny once, but now he belongs to the dead. Nader is a fool, as is anybody who votes for him in November - with the obvious exception of professional Republicans who have paid big money to turn him into a world-famous Judas goat. Nader is so desperate that he's paying homeless people to gather signatures to get him on the ballot. In Pennsylvania, the petitions he submitted contained tens of thousands of phony signatures, including Fred Flintstone, Mickey Mouse and John Kerry. A judge dumped Ralph from the ballot there, calling it "the most deceitful and fraudulent exercise ever perpetrated upon this court".

But they will keep his name on the ballot in the long-suffering Hurricane State, which is ruled by the President's younger brother, Jeb, who also wants to be the next president of the United States. In 2000, when they sent Jim Baker to Florida, I knew it was all over. In that election, 97,488 people voted for Nader in Florida, and Gore lost the state by 537 votes. You don't have to be from Texas to understand the moral of that story. It's like being out-coached in the Super Bowl. Only losers play fair, and all winners have blood on their hands.

Back in June, when John Kerry was beginning to feel like a winner, we had a quick rendezvous on a rain-soaked runway in Aspen, Colorado, where he was scheduled to meet a harem of wealthy campaign contributors. I told him that Bush's vicious goons in the White House are perfectly capable of assassinating Nader and blaming it on him. His staff laughed, but the Secret Service men didn't. Kerry suggested I might make a good running mate, and we reminisced about trying to end the Vietnam War in 1972.

That was the year I first met him, at a riot on that elegant little street in front of the White House. He was yelling into a bullhorn and I was trying to throw a dead rat over a black-spike fence and on to the President's lawn. We were angry and righteous in those days, and there were millions of us. We kicked two chief executives out because they were stupid warmongers. We conquered Lyndon Johnson and we stomped on Richard Nixon - which wise people said was impossible, but so what? It was fun. We were warriors then, and our tribe was strong like a river. That river is still running. All we have to do is get out and vote, while it's still legal, and we will wash those crooked warmongers out of the White House.

2004 Independent Newspapers, Ltd.

homepage: homepage: http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1028-29.htm

Fear and Loathing, Campaign 2004 28.Oct.2004 14:45

see also:

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson sounds off on the fun-hogs in the passing lane  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/10/300592.shtml

Not So Fast Dr. Thompson.... 28.Oct.2004 15:12

Gustav Prowler

While I always enjoy a bit of Dr Gonzo's ranting, the sentence "Thompson, well known for the eerie accuracy of his political instincts," should be tempered with the fact that he widely and repeatedly declaimed that there was absolutely no way Bush Sr could win the White House in '88.

Heh heh. 28.Oct.2004 15:26

alsis38 alsis35@yahoo.com

I am astounded that Thompson once voted for Nader. I could see him voting for Perot, but not Nader. I can't even imagine him and Nader in the same county. Surely said county, state, nation, and universe would explode in some giant matter-meets-anti-matter-type cataclysm. :D

Oh, well. You learn something new every day, I guess.

p 28.Oct.2004 16:02


i just heard from someone that ann coulter likes the grateful dead!!sheesh.seems like alot of white people seem to like some alternative culture stuff or soul music,tet they turn right aruond and say or do something reactionary.i once knew a white guy who listened to sly stone but when he drove by a black man walking down the street he would say ''theres a nigger''.i think a lot of whites are absolutely insane.deportation anyone??

"p" 28.Oct.2004 17:09


yes, agreed that 'a lot of whites are absolutely insane' Sly rules tho ;-)

i don't know if you remember, but the 1980s Republican Party Chair Lee Atwater (now deceased) was a blues guitar fan and musician. he even got Stevie Ray Vaughan - ^cringe^, not Stevie Ray who I love oh so dearly but the fact that he'd agreed to do this - to show up at one Republican Party event (in Texas??) of some sort or another, back then.

The Repubs have their own "claims" of bein' pop culture hipster/rockers. it's part of the whole 'neoconservative' re-modeling for the boomer generation since Reagan '80.

Coulter's 'musical tastes' - apparently she was an '80s-era Deadhead, actually followed 'em on tour for awhile - (but I doubt she has the perception or inclination to enjoy a 1969 Dead recording, or one of Old And In The Way :p

Garcia is not white 28.Oct.2004 18:00

Migratory Bird

The name Garcia. Think about it.

Why do you think they had so many Mexican images in their art work? Day of the dead worship? Get it! This was a mariachi band that whites followed that used Mexican art work, ideas, and folk art.

Now ya, dig?

'mariachi band' 28.Oct.2004 20:32


the artwork, imagery yes perhaps . . .

but the music, hmm . . . was it David Crosby, who described The Grateful Dead as "electronic Dixieland"?

(Garcia's father was actually an immigrant from Spain, btw)

....and 29.Oct.2004 01:47

Migratory Bird

Frida Kahlo was actually Hungarian Jewish and so was Diego Rivera.

So yes, Garcia had the element of catholic native mysticism about him. And yes he was apart of latino culture.

Just becuase people want to denigrate him to just a bunch a white guys doesn't mean he was nor did they stick to traditional white rock band behavior.

In fact they were the only band I know that seemed to tour every year not for money but for the culture they believed in... which had roots in Latino Culture.

While I am no deadhead, and certainly can not quote transcripts of songs or timelines of their "dead" culture, I still respect them for what they really were.

Check out their art work and then compare it to Posada. Same stuff. Every bit of early art work paid homage to this culture.

Just check out Posada for Posada. That stuff is rock and rollin', kitten!

Posada Link 29.Oct.2004 02:45

Migratory Bird

Jerry's father 29.Oct.2004 08:00


Spanish, not Mexican.

Did you check out Posada? 29.Oct.2004 14:08

Migratory Bird

Same dancing skeletons, same roses, same day of the dead celebrations. That is why they are called the Greatful Dead. This was the face of the leering laughing skeleton. When November 1st comes around you can celebrate Jerry Garcia for bringing Day of the Dead celbrations year round to all of America.

My best friends are red headed Mexicans. I have black family, gay family, asian family, white family. You never know in America who is white and who is not. It is when you are poor that skin color is important. That is what is freaky. Money only knows one skin type and that is green. Do people with money construct mind blowingly racist schemes in order to get more money? Ya bet ya! But I don't think that the work of the dead should be denigrated to this catergory nor should in be:

a bunch of white kids following a white band around the country. But the head guy for that band just happened to have a latino name, use the imagery of posada and lead day of the dead celebrations as well as borrow a heavily influenced name as Greatful Dead. Sorry but it wasn't white.

interesting, MB 29.Oct.2004 14:25


"becuase people want to denigrate him to just a bunch a white guys"

--who on here has said anything like that? such a statement reveals more about your attitudes toward music in general than anything else.

what you say about the visual aspects of the group is interesting. an in-depth Dead scholar could probably refer us to specific quotes from, or interviews with, band members, lyricists (e.g. Robert Hunter) or artists associated with the group as to whether Latino or Mexican portrayals had specifically been part of their intent.

but you also must remember - many of their fellow San Francisco rock groups from the same era: Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver - also collaborated with the same visual artists (e.g. Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse) for their album covers, designs and stage set-ups.

so what you are saying, needs to take into account the influences of these aesthetics and varied artist/creative inputs and currents flowing around them, too. the Dead, and San Francisco music scene of that time, was more than just Jerry Garcia alone (although in retrospect of his passing, he's become something of a 'saint' representative of the whole era and location).

just a musical comment on Garcia also - he was hugely influenced by bluegrass music, he actually traveled the US playing in acoustic bluegrass groups - primarily on banjo, not guitar - for 5 full years before he had ever even met any of the GD band members (only at that point did he begin playing electrified pop and blues/rock music). Banjo was really his true love, as an instrument and player - he stated and insisted on this many times in music interviews.

(read Blair Jackson's biography "Garcia" for more . . . and listen to the Old And In The Way or Garcia/David Grisman albums, available at Multnomah County Library)

"why they are called the Greatful [sic] Dead" 29.Oct.2004 15:39


since you brought this up specifically:

'The Grateful Dead' was apparently a random name choice - several different interviews (don't have the specific references in front of me but Dead scholars could confirm, and Blair Jackson's book also says something about it), including one with Garcia, tell a story that the band members were sitting around trying to decide upon a band name - they were called 'The Warlocks' at that point - and one of them was by chance looking through a dictionary [of folk tales?] or some other reference book, arriving at this:

"Refers to a series of Old English folk tales with the same basic theme. A traveler enters a village and finds the villagers desecrating, or refusing to bury the body of a dead man because he died owing creditors money. The traveler pays the dead man's debts and sees to a decent burial. Later in his travels the man is saved by a mysterious event, which is credited to the dead man's grateful spirit. Hence, The Grateful Dead. The band was originally the Warlocks, and picked Grateful Dead out of a dictionary after realizing there was another band called the Warlocks."

also on the Skull & Roses imagery:

this artwork - by San Francisco artist Alton Kelly - first appeared on a 1971 live album  link to tralfaz-archives.com which was originally slated, by the band's preference, to be entitled "SkullFuck" [yes, that's true]. Record label executives would not allow the album to be issued with this title. so they issued it with the title "Grateful Dead".

after 1971, when it had first been employed on this album release, the Dead organization began reproducing it extensively. It became a 'featured logo' for their brand-new 'DeadHeads' club / mailing list (inaugural memberships for which were first announced on the liner notes to this 1971 album), and was subsequently prominently featured in their stage show artwork backdrops and other merchandising / promotional graphics post-1971.

artists like Alton Kelly, Stanley Mouse, Rick Griffin, and others pioneered a style, not just for the San Francisco groups' albums and on-stage visual appearance, but also for concert promotional posters which advertised their live shows on bulletin boards and telephone poles around the area  http://www.sfheart.com/sixties_art.html.
1971 live LP,
1971 live LP, "Grateful Dead" - jacket artwork by Alton Kelly

About Sf heart.com 29.Oct.2004 18:59

Migratory Bird

Look I don't plan on researching more into the dead as I am not a huge fan. The fact is that they protect certain truths which they have created mazes around. They were extremely spiritual and they considered themselves coyote like guardians. Their are a lot of conflicting reports from those times on why and how and what and where. Seemed that everybody had their own miniscule perception as to what was going on. They have before paid homage to the styles of Posada. That is a fact. His name is Gracia which is a fact. Why do people want him to be white so damn badly?

Now as to the website SF Heart. I posted one of Allen Cohen's peices up. They found that peice and thought it was titled my moniker "Migratory Bird!" I emailed them about the blunder. They never fixed it, they never emailed me back, in fact I showed them how this mistake had been made. So I really wouldn't take them as an acurate site.


If you go to the site compare the poems On the Liberation of Iraq
with the poem Migratory Bird.

"Why do people want him to be white so damn badly? " 29.Oct.2004 19:59


I don't know what you're on about . . .

is it that you secretly *want* him to be "white" (whatever that means), maybe?

seems you're a little obsessed with the topic. you keep repeating yourself.

but if you're going to try to 'prove' to others that the Grateful Dead music with Jerry Garcia, or Garcia himself, was "non-white" - or whatever it is you're really trying to say - you'll have to come up with a more substantiated, convincing, and referenced case.

The Grateful Dead, and Jerry Garcia, first and foremost were musicians who were concerned with music. the other cultural / artistic influences and talents that they had, and happened to inspire or participate in, came along with the primary force of the music. Music is about listening, hearing, and feeling, not visual or external appearances.

and as explained above - and by Garcia himself, many times in interviews - though many of the 'saintly followers' might want to believe otherwise, Garcia alone - by himself was not the full scope of The Grateful Dead, and vice versa. Garcia's own music and artistic life talents tell the story of a unique American artist, going beyond just 'The Grateful Dead'.

a GREAT book for you to find at the Multnomah County Library [use their database to put a hold on it] is the recently-republished "Garcia: A Signpost to New Space" - consists of two long dialogue/interviews with author Charles Reich and former RS editor Jann Wenner about music, art, psychedelics, psychology . . . one of the best-ever insights into Jerry Garcia and his vision, in the man's own words - 200 pages of 'em.

concerning Latino / Mexican influences on California'60s rock culture - the groups of Carlos Santana, War, and Malo [headed by Carlos' brother, Jorge] all had great influence with a huge audience of white and non-white music fans (should you want to categorize music lovers that way) of the '60s-'70s. Later on in the 1970s, funk / R & B groups like Mandrill and Earth, Wind & Fire also incorporated Latin music influences to their sound. Try listening to these groups' music some time.

as to the SF Heart web site - I know nothing about them at all, but simply referenced it above because I'd come across it in Google search, and it happened to have a few good examples of the San Francisco graphic artists and artwork from that era. There are plenty of other references out there on the topic. Try going to the Multnomah County Library - art section.

[by the way - the book "The Art of Rock: Posters from Presley to Punk" by Paul D. Grushkin - referenced at the SF Heart web site above - is a really good one for an introduction / overview of the concert posters and graphic arts from the '60s era in San Francisco - and many of those same artists like Kelly/Mouse were still doing concert poster art again in the 1978-1983 punk rock renaissance on the west coast.]

on art history / influences . . . as far as the graphic artists like Alton Kelly, Stanley Mouse, Rick Griffin - you can do research yourself on them, at the art library, and over the internet. because they were from the Southern California region, I'm sure you could find evidence that one or more of them was - at least partially or at one time or another - inspired or influenced by Mexican / Latino art such as Posada's.

that's how all art and music is - people influencing and inspiring each other, across genres, and through generations.

You are completely missing my point 29.Oct.2004 20:47

Migratory Bird

You have your point- I have mine.

You are determined to say that Jerry was not influenced by his ancestory. That he had not a bit of latino heritage he was proud of.

That his motive was something different. I disagree.

what "point" - "latino heritage"?????????? 29.Oct.2004 21:13


I don't have a "point". and whatever yours supposedly is, it's totally unclear.

the things I've outlined in comments above are references, works of art, and cultural artifacts, left behind for you and me to appreciate and learn from.

I certainly don't know, or can articulate, what Jerry Garcia's "motive" [your word] is, or was (and why would any artist have to have a "motive"???) . But the best way to find out what such a thing would have been, would be to:

1. Listen closely to all the types (and there were a lot of styles and contexts he played in) of music that he made.

2. Read printed and spoken interviews - or watch/listen to video/recorded interviews - with the man.

3. Study biographical material (see the Blair Jackson "Garcia" book - lots of references at end, and plenty of details about Jerry's childhood, teen years and early adulthood in San Francisco's mission district).

4. Look closely at some of his paintings and artworks.

5. Read some of his poetry.

if you are trying to make a "point", 'Migratory Bird' then you need to back up what you are saying.

"latino heritage" -

please, find a reference - anything at all - a piece of art or music - an interview or comment - from Jerry Garcia's life or his artistic works, that shows or reveals him as such.

Jerry Garcia's father, Jose, was an immigrant from the port city of La Coruna, Spain.