Sunday Pages: "Plants of the Gods"

A podcast by ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin

Dear Reader,

Yesterday was a dark day in the annals of this country. Despite the presentation of evidence so overwhelming that even Mitch McConnell conceded that Donald John Trump was guilty as charged—“There's no question—none—that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it,” he said, after voting not to convict—Republicans in Congress saw fit to acquit the ex-president for a second time.

People were rightly enraged, although the anger was directed at various Democrats. The House managers should have called witnesses! (In a presser after, they said that they had no wish to do so, and calmly explained why). Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democrats denied the House the ability to call witnesses! (Not true). Nancy Pelosi has abdicated her responsibility of checks and balances! (Um, she impeached the fucker. Twice. That’s the limit of what she has the power to do).

We should be angry at McConnell, who has spent his career undermining the Senate to the point where it barely functions at all. We should be angry at the obvious traitors like Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul and Ron Johnson and Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley. We should be angry that Tommy Tuberville, once the HC at college football powerhouse Auburn, has any role in this at all (and that he appears never to have watched Crimson Tide). We should be angry with Trump, for a million different reasons.

What we all want, and what the nation must have to survive, is justice. Trump and his collaborators must be held to account. Yesterday was one of those days—too plentiful these last four years—when it felt like this would never come to pass. The handmaidens of hopelessness took to Twitter to excitedly foretell that all is lost, that the bad guys have won, that nothing will ever change, that we might as well just accept our descent into despotism. To hell with that! If Trump and his MAGA cult are a cancer upon the body politic, these purveyors of despair are lesions of doom.

I refuse to accept the nihilistic clucking of Chicken Little. Reality check: The House managers kicked ass. Trump’s defense team—a mob lawyer, a rape apologist, and an ambulance chaser—was a joke. Literally, people were laughing at them. The FBI has made dozens of arrests relating to January 6, and there are reports that they are pursuing a RICO case—which means that the people at the top, the masterminds who incited the insurrection but did not physically participate, can be charged. Joe Biden’s choice for Attorney General, spurned Supreme Court Justice nominee Merrick Garland, so terrifies Lindsey Graham and the other seditious Senators that they have delayed his confirmation hearing.

Look, I want these fuckers arrested immediately, but this stuff takes time. If Garland is confirmed, and then nothing happens for six months—fine, then we have cause for complaint. But it’s not reasonable to expect Joe and Kamala to clean up this mess before they even have the guy in place who will be the one pushing the proverbial broom.

One of the silver linings of four years of Trump is that I’ve gotten to meet people I otherwise would never have had the pleasure to know. For example: Dr. Mark Plotkin, the brilliant ethnobotanist. Before the pandemic curtailed his activities, Plotkin spent a great deal of time in the Amazon, studying the incredible plant life there, learning from the indigenous peoples. He’s written a bunch of best-selling books about his amazing experiences (and yes, his books about the Amazon can be purchased on Amazon).

Plants of the Gods: Hallucinogens, Healing, Culture and Conservation is his latest project—a podcast about hallucinogenic plants and fungi and other botanical marvels. There are episodes about wine, episodes about opium, episodes about the poisons found in nature. (Did you know that when Bayer introduced heroin in the 1880s—in cough syrup!—it was believed that the new compound was not addictive? Everyone thought this was so great as to be heroic—hence the name.) Plotkin has a soothing voice, and it’s a pleasure to listen to something interesting that has nothing whatsoever to do with Trump, impeachment, and so on. For “Sunday Pages,” please check it out.

Speaking of podcasts: By popular demand (if “popular” can mean “three or four people asked”), I have decided to launch a weekly PREVAIL podcast. I’ve dabbled in the format before, but this third time will be, hopefully, a charm. The trailer is up now—the theme song by Matthew Fossa is amazing—and the first episode, featuring a discussion with my friend Lincoln’s Bible, is set to drop on Thursday. I’m still tinkering with it, but the aim is to be a worthy supplement to the website. Please subscribe, download, and share.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

CORRECTION: Tommy Tuberville was head coach at Auburn, not Alabama, as I wrote in the email. Apologies to Nick Saban and fans of the Tide.

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