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"Four more years of George Bush will be like four more years of syphilis."

-Hunter S. Thompson

On the day John Kennedy was shot in Dallas in 1963, Hunter Thompson wrote, "I was not prepared at this time for the death of hope, but here it is. Ignore it at your peril. I have written Semonin, that cheap bookstore Marxist, that he had better tell his boys to buy bullets. And forget the dialectic. This is the end of reason, the dirtiest hour of our time...... No more fair play. From now on it is dirty pool and judo in the clinches. The savage nuts have shattered the great myth of American decency. They can count me in - I feel ready for a dirty game." It occurs to me that perhaps this passage is crucial to understanding why the political writings of Hunter S Thompson are so rude and unrestrained.

There is no place in dialectics or in reasoning for attacking the person instead of the opinions, actions, or policies of the person. Personal attacks are bad form wherever the goal is a well organized society. In the Senate, in debating clubs, and wherever people discuss things in the manner of reasoning creatures, personal attacks and name calling are discounted as having nothing to do with the discussion at hand, and those who indulge in ad hominem fallacies are ignored, penalized, expelled, or simply not tolerated. Perhaps their mouths are duct taped for the remainder of the discussion or they are silenced in some other civilized manner.

There is a phrase in the above quote which I regard as essential to understanding Hunter Thompson. "...I feel ready for a dirty game." This desperate and enraged declaration is, to my mind, a bedrock principle of Hunter S Thompson's political writings. Why concern one's self with technicalities like argumentum ad hominem when a President who showed such promise is impeached without due process- dispatched by an ounce of lead?

Thompson knew that political assassination was a fact of life, like train wrecks and rogue grizzlies. But he seems to have taken the killing of JFK personally. And he seems to have remained 'ready for a dirty game' for the remainder of his life, where politics were concerned. Who did he suspect of killing JFK? I have no idea. I can't recall ever reading anything by Thompson where he reveals his conclusions or suspicions about that assassination.

Thompson was very angry when he wrote those words. I think he remained angry at any politician, Republican or Democrat, who was more interested in their own career than they were in the American Dream, which Thompson treasured and held sacred. That equals a lot of anger at a lot of politicians, considering the nature of politics.

America is fortunate to have had a truly unique writer among our number. He was able to use the personal attack in a way that somehow charmed most readers into shrugging it off as a sort of barbaric poetic license. It took courage to write the things he wrote. Libeling some of the most powerful men on earth in nationally and internationally published books and magazines calls for a certain daring. Although he diluted his viciousness with humor, his attacks on powerful politicians included ruthless personal insults, significant criminal allegations, and every type of outlandish and offensive accusation. These are entirely out of line in civilized political discourse. But I suspect that privately, even those who had a firm determination not to cross the line into name-calling and who had only disdain for those who did cross that line, somehow wished to make an exception for Hunter Thompson.

I don't think Thompson really gave a rat's ass. Hunter was never afraid of alienating or offending anyone. In fact I am convinced he intentionally outraged and offended both conservatives and liberals in order to get us to think. Here's an example. A life-long pot smoker has heard nothing but great things about this totally righteous dope activist named Hunter Thompson. She decides to read the famous drug book Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. The behavior of the protagonists allows her to understand, for the first time in her life, why some people 'hate dope'. She's finally seen the other side of the coin! Did Hunter intend, then, to stomp out the scourge of drug abuse by showing the depravity it can spawn? You decide. Me, I think the goal of Hunter's writings is to expand consciousness. Period.

In a televised interview with Charlie Rose Hunter shocked liberals everywhere who projected their ideals onto him by saying he was in favor of the draft. He looked into the camera briefly when he said this. It was the only time during the interview he looked into the camera. He said that the draft has a 'civilizing' effect on the military. I took this to mean that the draft makes the military more a part of a country and less a semi-separate appendage of a country, and that having non-volunteers in the military makes the government more likely to use diplomacy as much as possible, and to try to avoid deployment of the military, for obvious political reasons.

Hunter did not fear alienating huge blocks of people. He set an example in that regard. People get confused though, because they lump the lifestyle together with the genius and the journalistic integrity. In terms of lifestyle, it will become obvious to anyone who tries to consume large amounts of mescaline, speed, acid, liquor, and other dangerous drugs for several consecutive days that Thompson is not a role model where drugs are concerned. Very, very few people can handle that lifestyle. Why try? What is the point of emulating a functional drug monster? We won't know why Hunter behaved as he did. Mystery is not a bad thing, though. Hunter was a crazed dope-fiend and a genius. Charlie Parker was a genius and a smack addict. But that has nothing to do with how the rest of us approach the question of dangerous drugs. Too many people make the mistake of thinking they can emulate a genius by taking on their destructive habits.

But enough moaning. Thanks to Hunter S Thompson, we have the writings of a totally unique wordsmith in our libraries and on our bookshelves. If you read Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, and ignore Thompson's other books, you miss the majority of what Thompson has to offer. Thompson offers you the writings of a political thinker, a brave and insightful journalist, a humorist, a prose stylist, a social observer, and more. But most people don't think of prose style and journalistic courage when they think of Hunter S. Thompson. They think of the drugs, the guns, and the craziness. Because of this many simply dismiss him as a part of the lunatic fringe, another odd phenomenon with no importance, to be noted for unlikely future reference. But the drugs and the craziness were totally incidental to who and what Hunter S Thompson is and was. He was a political thinker, a scholar, and a fearless writer. Reading Thompson makes you think.

He was also an unrepentant name-caller, a champion of argumentum ad hominem.

In the days after 911 you couldn't buy an American flag anywhere. Flags were sold out. I remember distinctly. Too late everywhere I went, I couldn't even buy a sticker or cheap decal with the image of the flag of the United States on it. It seemed like everyone was buying and flying the flag. No one was saying anything bad about the President, not even those of us who had long been appalled by his apparent lack of intelligence, his stupefying ability to quell the budget surplus , and his disdain for diplomacy in a world where nuclear weapons were soon to be -or already were- in the possession of the very nations he had truculently and for reasons known only to himself and the few unfortunate souls who think as he does, terminated diplomatic relations with. In a time of war, criticizing the president is dangerously close to treason. And no one doubted (or so it seemed to me, though apparently those who see the world as a conglomerate of conspiracies were already feverishly formulating their theories that the 911 attacks were 'an inside job') that there were shadowy forces bent on killing all of us, as soon as possible, by any means available. These haters had thrown their first really big punch, and it left us dazed.

During this period of shock, Hunter pointed out that the Bush administration was using the 911 attacks as a psychological tool. He was right. Any politician with a will to survive uses what leverage is available, and often times a politician poses with the victims of a natural disaster to allow us all to see for ourselves what a great and good-hearted person they are, in the hope that this will further their political career. So when criminally insane assholes cause massive death and the destruction of the Biggest symbol of our Biggest city, and crash the titanium turbines of another jet through a couple/few layers of the Pentagon, our indestructible reinforced concrete military headquarters and main fortress, and attempt to crash yet another jet into the White House or maybe the Capital Building, I felt that Hunter was willfully naive in his powerful denunciation of Bush for using 911 to consolidate his presidency. Sure, it's something to be aware of! But to characterize it as an aberration is a mistake, I think, since politics almost demands that one use whatever means one can to stay elected.

If kicking dogs made people vote for a candidate 75% of the time without fail, damn near every candidate for elected office with two legs, access to dogs and the money to run election spots on TV would be seen kicking dogs on TV. During election season televisions from Duluth to Key West would be glowing with images of smiling politicians kicking hapless dogs.

What no one can deny is Hunter's unwavering willingness to question authority in the public presses when no one else was doing so. No journalist criticized Bush during those eerie months after 911. Not in any meaningfully well-distributed publication anyway, not here in the United States and not abroad, as far as I know. Except Hunter. I think he was mistaken, but I admire his courage. Journalists may be a pain in the ass sometimes, but to me they are as crucial to a free society as education and sanitation.

Here are some examples of Hunter's savage (one of his favorite words) attacks on the very powerful, taken from an October 2004 issue of Rolling Stone, after the presidential debates where we the people apparently decided we would rather have a vapid bully as our president than a nerdy, strange, but apparently intelligent statesman. If presidential terms were not limited to two terms, would we, the American people, elect Bush a third time, knowing what we know now? If only half of us vote and if this nation elected an obvious embarrassment to a second term, who can say for sure he wouldn't win a third term? We the people seem to be in a dangerously torpid condition politically, and we had better wake up. Ah, but no one wants to hear that soap box stuff. I don't want to hear it either. But when Hunter got on the soap box, I was more than willing to lend an ear. That's how he was different. Who can possibly fill such a gap? No decent person, certainly.

From Rolling Stone Magazine October 2004 (the italics are mine):

"Kerry came out of October as a five-point underdog with almost no chance of winning three rigged confrontations with a treacherous little freak like George Bush."

"Did you see Bush on TV, trying to debate? Jesus, he talked like a donkey with no brains at all.....I almost felt sorry for him, until I heard someone call him 'Mister President,' and then I felt ashamed."

"...and that is Rove's problem: His candidate is a weak-minded frat boy who cracks under pressure in front of 60 million voters."

"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."

"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."

"Nixon was a barrel of laughs compared to this gang of thugs from the Halliburton petroleum organization who are running the White House today—and who will be running it this time next year, if we (the once-proud, once-loved and widely respected "American people") don't rise up like wounded warriors and whack those lying petroleum pimps out of the White House on Novemember second."

{Thompson reveals a little known fact (?) about our President and makes a heavy allegation as he goes on to quote an alleged classmate of Bush from Yale}:

"He lifted his shirt and showed me a scar on his back put there by young George. 'He burned this into my flesh with a red-hot poker,' he said solemnly, 'and I have hated him ever since. That jackass was born cruel. He burned me in the back while I was blindfolded. This scar will be with me forever.' There is nothing new or secret about that story. It ran on the front page of the Yale Daily News and caused a nasty scandal for a few weeks..."

"The question this year is not whether President Bush is acting more and more like the head of a fascist government but if the American people want it that way. That is what this election is all about. We are down to nut-cutting time, and millions of people are angry. They want a Regime Change."

"Four more years of George Bush will be like four more years of syphilis."

"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, in no particular order, and he is no fun at all."

"I told him (John Kerry) that Bush's vicious goons in the White House are perfectly capable of assassinating Nader and blaming it on him."

Thompson has shown countless people that politics is vitally important and, if you drain the poisons out of your skull on a regular basis by laughing at yourself, politics can be fun. Here are the closing lines from the October 2004 Rolling Stone article I've been quoting from:

"We were angry and righteous in those days, and there were millions of us. We kicked two chief executives out of the White House 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."

> Vote. While it's still legal <

Look at how incredibly close the election was in 2000. If more people had voted we might not be at war in Iraq. Think about it

Those who wish to place corrupt hacks in office will always get out and vote. It's in their marrow. It's in their autonomous nervous system. You have to respect them for it. The only way to keep them from the polls is to chop their spines into several pieces and scatter them in different precincts. But this can cause suspicion of foul play. And after all, it is agreed by virtually all modern political thinkers that spine-scattering is too intemperate for a civilized society; too unkind. The only practical way to stand up against the autonomous voters is to get off our asses and out-vote them.

These people who vote for greedy death-suckers will always vote. Even if they are obscenely hung over and far gone with whooping cough, even if their car is mired in three feet of near-freezing mud and their clothing is pulled off by the sucking action of the quagmire while they try to dig the car out. They will walk naked in the cold, their bare buttocks fouled with spatters of dried mud... yes, they will walk on the raw nerves of their bloody feet to the polling place, coughing blood and making a gruesome sound as they wheeze and whoop. Only a moldy canvas tarp or a coat full of spiders, found by the side of the road and wrapped crudely around them like a troll's blanket, will prevent their arrest for indecent exposure. They will suffer horribly, and they will be ashamed. But they will vote.

And if the rest of us don't vote, the people who vote from instincts informed by greed and avarice will always vote for us.

"I don't want to pull jury duty. That's a real drag, man.”

Look at it this way, if you ever found yourself falsely accused of a crime and were sitting at the defense table, would you rather have you or someone else as one of the jurors? I thought so. Do the right thing. You will feel better for it. You will be a better person here in the real world where the soldiers are sent to war over and over again, because there is no way to get out, not like Vietnam where we could just leave. It would be far too dangerous to 'just leave' Iraq. Declaring war on Iraq is a miscalculation that will cost thousands of lives, cost who knows how many billion dollars, and cost years of war.

"What a bummer. You and your politics are like, nowhere, man. You need to lighten up.”

You're right. And the great thing is, here in America, you can have fun with your vote. You can place a write-in vote for Maxwell Smart. All those write-in votes scare the shit out of the 'real' candidates. And those jolts of cold terror (a block of voters motivated enough to vote but disgusted enough to reject all the nominated candidates) could, if there are enough of them, keep our politicians honest. Or at least a little more honest than they otherwise would be.


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