Until The Bare Lies Shine Through: Your William S. Burroughs Thanksgiving Prayer 2018

We began posting this Thanksgiving Prayer by William S. Burroughs and Gus Van Sant back in 2006, and quite a few things have changed since then. The deadpan list of Bloody American Triumphs is more relevant than ever in this annus futuit sursum maximus of 2018, and if Burroughs were with us today, he might look at his 1986 poem and wonder how he'd ever been such a starry-eyed optimist. Back in the anxious Thanksgiving of 2015 we fretted because the presidential campaign featured "serious debates over registering religious minorities and bringing back torture." Heh. We were so innocent back then, and didn't think that guy had any chance of really getting elected.

Now we find ourselves in the second year of an illegitimate presidency, with some shards of hope that the biggest Democratic midterm win since Watergate will at least mark the beginnings of accountability. It remains anyone's guess whether the Trump years mark the beginning of a new, degraded era where all politics will be terrible forever, or a temporary season of madness from which we'll emerge blinking in confusion, swathed in bandages and wondering why Canada keeps asking us if we remember anything, especially where we stashed Toronto.

Even if there are fewer than four Trump years, the cleanup from this mess is going to take decades, and a substantial chunk of the nation seems to have sworn fealty to the glib, pouting sociopath leading their torchlight parade. We said last year that we had no idea where the bottom was in American politics, but we hadn't reached it yet -- and that was a week before Trump generously endorsed the Senate bid of an accused child molester. Since then we've had children separated from their parents at the border (even now, over 140 have yet to be reunited, there are more than 14,000 children in jail, and the program has cost upwards of $80 million), Trump deploying the Army to Texas to boost turnout in the midterms, and the nation's alleged leader saying much nicer things about Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin than about France and Canada. Trump is lying more frequently and flagrantly than ever, and just before Thanksgiving, a federal judge accused the Mississippi legislature of "gaslighting." Oh, yes, and an entirely political party rallied around a Supreme Court nominee who was credibly accused of attempted rape. It's beginning to look a lot like Gilead.

The important thing to remember about The Handmaid's Tale (Spoiler warning!) is that it ends with an epilogue telling us that the Republic of Gilead came to an end, and in the future future, that dystopia has faded into a mere historical curiosity. After hell, things got better, so there's your happy ending.

Out here in reality, the judge didn't just say Mississippi was gaslighting women, but did so while striking down the state's restrictive new abortion ban. It remains to be seen what the higher courts, seeded with Trump appointees, will do.

Burroughs might well look at 2018 and have a good rueful laugh. He told us so. We had An American Dream, and we -- or at least a slim plurality of those of us who voted in just the right number of states in 2016 -- picked the guy who promised to vulgarize and falsify that dream until the bare lies were central to his "governance." Just enough of us were desperate enough to believe the comforting lies about how the coal jobs will come back, the manufacturing jobs will come back, the blacks will finally stop insisting their lives matter, and if only we're brutal enough, the browns will stop seeing the USA as a place of refuge. We've already become a place people flee as refugees.

We can only assume that Burroughs would say Donald Trump is the president America has been working toward for decades. Sure, three million more of us voted for the competent but sometimes excessively private lady with the emails, but that's not how our system works, so stop being a crybaby and suck it up. Also, show us your papers. Now we've got an entire political party that seems intent on finally sandblasting that pesky poem off the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. To be honest, we prefer people who aren't tempest toss'd or wretched refuse. We like winners.

Sick of winning yet? Or just sick?

And yet. For all the morons and cheats and petty churchy bastards who've forgotten Jesus was quite insistent that we must care for our neighbor, who is anyone who needs our help, we can still be thankful there are people who refuse to be shouted down by the idiots who are afraid of foreigns. We can be thankful there's no shortage of women who won't stand for a pussy-grabber in chief. We can be thankful for schools that give EVERYBODY eat, nurses who buy up and forgive patients' hospital debt, and a celebrity chef who fed Puerto Rico and then hired a Syrian refugee as a pastry chef. We can be thankful there are tiny babies we can guide through our big messy world with Mr. Rosewater's one rule for living on Earth: "God damn it, you've got to be kind."

So we'll be thankful anyway, even if at times we can only be thankful it's not worse than it is. We've got each other, there's a highly evolved descendant of a dinosaur in the oven, and the bed is covered with the winter coats of people we love -- or can at least tolerate for a few hours, although we may have to ask them to please not wear that MAGA hat to the table. If people are getting married and having babies in this crazy stupid world, then there must be hope. For all the petty small-minded terribleness and evil out there, we still have the option of laughter, because it sure as hell beats giving in to the bastards.

A happy and safe Thanksgiving to all Wonkers everywhere, and remember to Buy (almost) Nothing tomorrow.

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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