Daily Archives: May 10, 2020

Psychedelics – Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Posted: May 10, 2020 at 5:51 am

Types of psychedelics

Psychedelics have been used since ancient times by various cultures throughout the world for their mystical and spiritual associations. LSD, magic mushrooms, Mescaline and DMT are usually swallowed, smoked or inhaled. Mushrooms are usually eaten fresh, cooked or brewed into a tea.

Occasionally, they may be mixed with tobacco or cannabis and smoked. Mescaline is usually swallowed. Peyote buttons may be ground into a powder and smoked with cannabis or tobacco. The buttons can also be chewed or soaked in water to produce a liquid.

Most forms of NBOMe are inactive if swallowed, and the most common methods of taking them are under the tongue, held in the cheek or snorted.

Generally, people who use psychedelics dont take them on a regular basis, but on occasions that may be weeks or months apart.

There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. Its important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

Psychedelics affect everyone differently, based on:

The effects of psychedelics can last several hours and vary considerably, depending on the specific type of psychedelic. The following may be experienced during this time:

Sometimes you can experience a bad trip, which is frightening and disturbing hallucinations. This can lead to panic and unpredictable behaviour, like running across a road or attempting suicide.

If you take a large amount or have a strong batch, you are likely to experience negative effects of psychedelics.6,7

The most common long-term effect of psychedelic use is the flashback. Flashbacks are a re-experience of the drug and can occur days, weeks, months and even years later.

Flashbacks can be triggered by the use of other drugs or by stress, fatigue or physical exercise. The flashback experience can range from being pleasant to causing severe feelings of anxiety. They are usually visual and last for a minute or two.

The effects of mixing psychedelics with other drugs, including alcohol, prescription medications and over-the-counter medicines, are often unpredictable.

Mixing psychedelics with stimulant drugs increases the stimulant effects and can further increase heart rate and place the body under extreme stress. Stimulants can also increase anxiety which can lead to a negative experience.8

Combing psychedelics with depressant drugs such as alcohol may further reduce coordination and increases the chances of vomiting. Alcohol may also decrease the effects of the psychedelic.8

If you do decide to use them, its important to consider the following.

Use of psychedelics is likely to be more dangerous when:

Most psychedelics produce tolerance rapidly and psychological dependence can occur in some people. The development of physical dependence is not well supported by evidence and there are no withdrawal symptoms even after chronic use.

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Celebrities share LSD trips in Netflix documentary ‘Have A Good Trip’ – Insider – INSIDER

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When rapper A$AP Rocky did acid, a rainbow shot out of his penis. When Sting did, the grass started talking to him. And for Rosie Perez, her psychedelic trip made it feel like her body became one with her mattress.

Their stories are all part of Netflix's upcoming documentary, "Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics."

In the documentary, which premieres May 11, celebrities recount what it was like to take mind-altering drugs like LSD and "magic" mushrooms and actors reenact the wild moments. Viewers can expect stories from Ben Stiller, Natasha Lyonne, Sarah Silverman, and others. Actors will also perform drug trips described by late stars Anthony Bourdain and Carrie Fisher.

The kooky vignettes are given a serious edge by researchers who explain the science of psychedelics and their potential to treat anxiety, depression, and addiction.

Indeed, existing research on LSD and psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in psychedelic mushrooms, suggests that the drugs could open dormant neural pathways in people's brains to help them have spiritual experiences and even find relief from mental health disorders.

Magic mushrooms have been on the psychedelic scene for decades, but they're currently gaining traction in the medical community as a potential treatment for depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

But only a handful of studies on the substance exist because of the its current status as a Schedule I drug (one withno currently accepted medical use, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration).

A small study, published in November 2016 in theJournal of Psychopharmacology, looked at29 cancer patients who reported feeling depressed or anxiousdue to their cancer diagnosis. For seven weeks, each patient went through psychotherapy sessions and received either a single 0.3 mg dose of psilocybin or niacin (vitamin B) afterward. Researchers noticed that the patients who received psilocybin had an immediate reduction in anxiety and depression, which held at the six-and-a-half-month follow-up.

An actor reenacts Carrie Fisher's psychedelic trip in "Have a Good Trip." Netflix

In another small study, published in 2006 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology,researchers gave 36 medically and psychiatrically healthy participants 30 mg of psilocybin, with dose adjustments made depending on patients' weight. The psilocybin was distributed during two or three separate sessions, and at a two-month follow-up, 50% of the participants said their psilocybin experience improved their personal well being or life satisfaction moderately. 29% said it improved their life satisfaction "very much."

One potential reason psilocybin has this effect, as Business Insider previously reported, is its ability tochange the way information moves through the brain.

Author Erin Brodwin compared the brain to a series of highways. Normally, traffic tends to buildup on some highways more than others. But when a person uses psilocybin, the brain reroutes some of the traffic onto the underused highways, freeing up space on the overused ones.

For a person with depression, overused highways can lead to more negative thoughts, self-criticisms, and overwhelming feelings, so psilocybin has the potential to help decrease those effects.

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The Queen of Consciousness Driving Psychedelic Study and Advocacy – Filter

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Amanda Feilding is the founder and director of the Beckley Foundation, which has been pioneering psychedelic research and advocacy to drive evidence-based drug policy reform since 1998.

The organizations scientific exploits, in collaboration with the Imperial Research Programme co-directed by Feilding and Professor David Nutt, have included, for example, a landmark 2016 study of psilocybin-assisted therapy for depression, and the first visualizations of LSDs effects on brain activity that same year.

The Foundations influential advocacy efforts have included the 2019 publication of Roadmaps to Regulation: MDMA, on which Filter reported. Its international reach was illustrated last year by a collaboration with Californias bid to decriminalize or legalize psilocybin mushrooms (haltedfor nowby the coronavirus pandemics restrictions on gathering signatures).

Feilding, who is 77, has led an extraordinary, experimental life, pushing the envelope of consciousness and its place in society. Hailing from an aristocratic background, her official titles include Countess of Wemyss and March and Lady Neidpath. But she is unofficially known as the Queen of Consciousness, a tribute to her bold work over half a century to demystify psychedelics and end their prohibition.

Why is humanity in such a mess? What makes us such neurotic animals?

The offices of the Foundation can be found on the grounds of Beckley Park, Feildings stately family home in Oxfordshire, England. After our interview, she was kind enough to invite me there for tea.

Kiran Sidhu: You were first introduced to psychedelics in the 1960s. What was it about your experience that made you dedicate your life to thembearing in mind you were also once spiked with LSD and spent three months recovering?

Amanda Feilding: I started taking LSD in 1965 without much knowledge of it. My passion has always been mysticism and religions. My experience of it was absolutely wonderful; instead of just reading about mysticism, with LSD, I was actually experiencing it. It was what I had always been looking for. LSD was a revelation; the increased awareness and unity. I thought it was wonderful, but it was like a trip to the funfair, and not a way of life.

I had been taking LSD for about six months before someone spiked my drinkI was spiked with what could have been a thousand trips! I would describe it as a psychic wound or a psychic rape. It was deeply damaging.

I locked myself away recovering in a sweet hut on the grounds of my home in Beckley Park. I absolutely love that hut, it has brambles by the windows and I think its where I will end my life, out there with the birds and nature. I had a friend who came to visit after three months who dragged me to a party in London where Ravi Shankar was playing.

There I met someone who became a great love of my life, a Dutch scientist. He told me his hypothesis of how you can actually control your trip, so you become the rider of the horse, if you like. And I like being in control, especially after my bad experience, so this was very interesting to me. This was something new and interesting to know that one could get high, open the door to a higher consciousness and at the same time navigate yourself. This was a new opening for me.

When I was 22 in the 60s, LSD brought my interest in mysticism into a reality and I thought we could bring this to society. I learnt how we could use the psychedelics and manage them in daily life. It felt like a real stepping stone for humanity. It can broaden our horizons. But thanks to misinformation, societys attitude went another way when it really shouldnt have.

You have been at the forefront of many revealing studies along with Imperial College. In your opinion, what has been the single most important study that you have been involved in so far?

The Beckley/Imperial LSD study [producing images of the brain on LSD] was finally fulfilling a dream Id had for 50 years: to explore the mechanisms underlying the effects of LSD. That opened the door to further research and produced that beautiful image of the connectivity on LSD as compared with everyday life.

Also, the early study on psilocybin [with Professor Franz Vollenweider, in 1998] was very importantdesigned to measure changes in brain blood flow, activity and connectivity induced by psilocybin. Global and regional changes in cerebral blood flow brought about by psilocybin were investigated using brain imaging (ASL and BOLD). We also investigated how psilocybin changes the pattern of connectivity between different brain regions in response to attention-demanding tasks or emotionally significant stimuli. The findings from this study were the first to inform the scientific basis for the use of psilocybin as an aid to psychotherapy. This study also examined the hypothesis that psilocybin enables vivid recall of repressed memories, which is likely to be key in the therapeutic process for mental diseases.

Beckley Park

The offices of the Beckley Foundation are based in your childhood home. You have described Beckley Park as part of my soul, although you called your childhood there very isolated. Do you think your experiences of this place paved the way for your interest in consciousness and psychedelics?

I would definitely say the place and the environment had a strong influence on me. The place is very magical: Its up a long bumpy track, with three moats and three towersan old Tudor hunting lodge. Its very romantic. The house certainly lends itself to introspection.

My family environment was an intellectual one, my fathers mother knew people such as Aldous Huxley and Nietzsche. My father was an artist, so for me, the new lifestyle was a revelation, not a revolution. It was a natural evolution to explore.

We used LSD to get a different level of consciousness in which one could experience more, and hopefully use ones brain better, think better, understand complicated ideas and understand ourselves better. My studies have been about human consciousness and its predicament. Why is humanity in such a mess? What makes us such neurotic animals?

You have led a very experimental life. In the 70s your interest in trepanning, the ancient practice of making a window in the skull to treat health problems, led you to drill a hole in your own head using a dentists drill to achieve a higher state of consciousness. Did your experiment work?

For the last 20 years I have tried not to mix the idea of trepanning and psychedelics too much. Psychedelics are taboo in themselves, and then to throw in trepanation is too much for most people!

I think its very difficult to say with sureness whether things that make a very subtle difference make a difference for sure. But I do feel it did make a difference. But then you get used to the difference, and its something that is then normal, and then how do you tell the difference? But I did notice a difference in all sorts of subtleties. It changed my dreams. I used to be such an anxious person and had anxious dreams. After my trepanation, they became less frequent. Theres a strong physiological hypothesis of how it works to alter consciousness.

Taboo-ness is the hidden force that works against usits the main enemy.

What I would say is that after 50 years, I am still serious about studying it now. I think Ive met a neurologist that I may be able to do that with. The hypothesis is that by making an expansion in the window of the skull, the membrane surrounding the brain can expand on the heartbeat. So that the pulse pressure is restored to what it was in early childhood before the fontanelle, and then the sutures, closed. That in turn restores the ratio of the blood to cerebrospinal fluid to what it was in childhoodie, a little more capillary volume in the brain and a little less cerebrospinal fluid.

All Im saying is that the research for this should be allowed. You can do all sorts of things now, you can get [gender reassignment surgery] on the [National Health Service], but amazingly trepanation, that has been going on for ten thousand years, is still taboo. Taboo-ness is the hidden force that works against usits the main enemy.

You have set up the Beckley Foundations LSD Micro Dosing Research Programme. Can you tell me about it?

Were expanding. I have set up collaborations with universities in Holland, the States and Brazil. I dont even think weve begun to really dig the depth of how psychedelics can help in both physiological and psychological illnesses. Im very interested to see how they help with degenerative illnesses and how useful they can be in lifting mood in palliative care, in pain management and cognitive functioning.

Most of the psychedelic research around the world has focused on large doses and the healing potential of the mystical or peak experience, in which profound shifts in consciousness and perspective can occur. However, a growing body of anecdotal evidence suggests that psychedelics may also exert positive effects on health and wellbeing at much lower doses.

Many microdosing adherents attribute a variety of health and wellbeing benefits to microdosing psychedelics, including enhanced mood, focus and cognition, but there has yet to be more rigorous, placebo-controlled lab-based studies of the practicea gap in the scientific literature that I was determined to fill.

I set up the Beckley Foundation LSD Microdosing Research Programme with the aim to thoroughly evaluate the safety and efficacy of microdosing on a number of cognitive, emotional and physiological parameters, paving the way for research into the therapeutic applications of microdosing under clinical trial conditions.

Psychedelics are having a renaissance; people like Gwyneth Paltrow are championing microdosing. Do you think the recent change in attitude just reflects the amount of research being conducted, or is there something more to it?

Research has given the stepping stones to a hostile society, to enable them to think, maybe we should look at these compounds again, and so the environment has changed.

Just like we had an industrial age, we are now in a digital age. Its rather unnerving in the ways it changes the environmentwe are confused and unhappy and entering an epidemic of mental illness, although seemingly, we have everything. Things like Instagram over-emphasize on image and people think everything they see is realitywhen in reality, the people showing off their beautiful handbags or whatever may be quite depressed. We are in a desperate need of something.

Ive been a fan of microdosing since the 60s. I think its a wonderful little lift.

What comes through with psychedelics is something that one knows through ones soulits not something new. Its loving nature, its loving yourselfits natural. Were part of nature, not apart from nature.

Ive been a fan of microdosing since the 60s. I think its a wonderful little lift. It can be used for humanitys benefit, but we need to move carefully. It needs to be carefully regulated and definitely decriminalized. Ive been fighting for that for 50 years, and I think were moving in that direction now.

Psychedelics and the knowledge that you can alter your consciousness should be part of the fabric of societyits not what the naughty boy does before he commits a crime. Psychedelics do not encourage crime, they increase connectivity with nature, which is good for the environment and your passion for people and openness. These are all good human qualities that should be nurtured with the careful use of psychedelics. Psychedelics used to be called fruit of the gods. They make us more god-like. They make us more ourselvesour better selvesif used well.

The only way we can drag psychedelics out of the naughty box is to prove that they have better efficacy than any other medicine thats being offered to treat psychological illnesses. We did a study of overcoming nicotine addiction using psychedelics with Johns Hopkins, and it had an 80 percent success ratethis was a pilot study a few years ago.

As the Queen of Consciousness, youve been campaigning for half a century. For the most part, youve been swimming against the tide, although the narrative has recently started to change in your favor. Do you feel like youre finally winning?

Yes. Though I dont feel much different. Its like if someone has worked hard to become rich and when they get there they dont feel much different from how they did when they were poor. I am very happy that my work over the last 50 years has had good effect, but disappointingly, I still suffer from a lack of funding to carry out all the wonderful research projects I have ready to go! The Foundation needs fundingplease help if you can. My position is to respect these compounds and be grateful for the potential of how psychedelics can be used to increase ones happiness and health. I thought that back in the 60s, and I think the same way now. And now it is beginning to get recognized, and hopefully it will be able to help humanity as a bigger group, and not just the oddballs.

Whats next for the Beckley Foundation?

I am excited about the next phase of our work which will combine exploratory studies into the underlying mechanisms of a wider range of psychoactive compounds [with] clinical trials investigating their therapeutic efficacy. We are also making steady progress towards the important aim of getting these breakthrough compounds into a regulated market.

We are facing an ever-worsening mental health epidemic.

As I mentioned, we also have an exciting new program of research specifically focusing on LSD microdosing, and first-of-its-kind research into unexplored compounds, such as 5-MeO [a close relative of DMT].

I am also now working on a most exciting new stage, where patients in need can finally get access to these treatments they need, through the development of clinics for psychedelic-assisted therapy. We are facing an ever-worsening mental health epidemic. Sadly, depression, anxiety, PTSD and addiction are on the rise, exerting a vast personal and economic toll.

Psychedelics have already been shownin ours and others researchto be safe and considerably more effective than currently available medications, with both immediate and long-lasting effects. Having joined forces with a number of leading global experts in the field, we are hoping to also play a pioneering role in this area and have started the process of setting up a prototype clinic, more details of which I will give soon.

Photo of Amanda Feilding courtesy of Feilding. Photo of Beckley Park via Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.

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The ‘Billions’ Stock Watch: It’s Time For Psychedelics And Subterfuge – UPROXX

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The Billions Stock Watch is a weekly accounting of the action on the Showtime drama. Decisions will be made based on speculation and occasional misinformation and mysterious whims that are never fully explained to the general public. Kind of like the real stock market.

Welcome back, you beautiful, duplicitous television program. Only one episode into the season and weve already moved from double-crosses to triple crosses. And Chuck Rhoades is marching into a dimly lit bar, flopping into a booth, and just straight-up saying Its a triple cross before he even says hello. Im so happy I might explode.

Lets backtrack a little, though, just so were all on the same page. At the end of last season, Chuck and Axe worked together to trap Taylor in a murky situation that resulted in Taylors personal fund folding into Axes. But, unbeknownst to Axe, Taylor agreed to work with Chuck to ruin Axe from the inside, largely because Chuck was deeply jealous of and angry at Axe for being Wendys savior in her fight to save her medical license, and also because thats just what Chuck does. And unbeknownst to both Chuck and Axe, Taylor had a plan to play matador and let the two bulls charge wildly gore each other in the ring. It was a lot. Billions rules.

And now its even more, somehow. Taylor gave Chuck info about a Bitcoin farm Axe is helping to bankroll, Chuck busted the farm and pressed Taylor for even more info, Taylor spilled the beans to Axe, Axe attempted to play nice with Chuck by returning the first-edition Churchill works that Chuck sold last season, Chuck immediately saw through this and diagnosed the aforementioned triple cross, and here we are.

On another show, a lesser one, this could be enough plot for most of a season. On Billions, it took up about 25 minutes, total, leaving plenty of time for hallucinogenic hijinks and cameos by WWE superstars and a full-on wedding. Billions moves very fast, always, heaving people and debris out of its way as it speeds by, kind of like a runaway locomotive barreling through Mardi Gras. To be clear, this is the highest compliment I know how to give.

Also, to continue being clear, just once in my entire stupid life Id like to storm into a dimly lit bar, belly up to a table where my co-conspirator is waiting, and announce Its a triple cross. The rush you must feel as the words leave your lips my God. More powerful than any drug you can buy.

Well, hello there, Mike Prince, as portrayed by televisions Corey Stoll. Pleasure to meet you. I feel like Im going to like you. Im almost sure of it. Yes, theres the thing where youre like the flipside of the Axelrod coin, a conscientious investor who claims to be attempting to do good as hes doing well, a money man who is human first, someone who cares about the means and the ends. All of that.

But mostly I think Im going to like you because you seem like a worthy adversary who gets under Axes skin. We havent seen many of those lately, at least on the money side of the show. Its not that youre even a threat, really, except to Axes pride, as we saw when you snaked him at the Vanity Fair cover shoot for the new crew of Decas (people with a net worth of over $10 billion) (and seriously, read the room here, fictional Vanity Fair), which Axe claimed not to care about and then promptly began plotting to ruin you over. Also, I think youre probably full of hooey and I cant wait for that reveal in a few weeks.

If there are two things in this world that are very much not for me, they would be, one, the great outdoors, and two, vomiting my brains out, so ayahuasca is not something that has ever really intrigued me, alleged universal clarity be damned. But good for Axe and Wags, though. Kind of. It is a little funny that the whole office is tearing itself apart in the wake of a hastily constructed revenge merger and Axe and Wags just decided to hop on motorcycles to screw off and do psychedelics to celebrate Axes net worth hitting 10 figures, but whatever. Again, I am not intrigued by the allure of puke-inducing braindrugs and I have barely half as many figures to my name as Axe, so maybe I just dont get it.

Axe did not appear to be having fun, though. Wags was all Mother Earth and hooting owls and Axe was going on maniacal rants about kings and power, and Im pretty sure he was stalking around the fire on all fours like a prowling jungle cat, if anyone needed another Bobby Axelrod is an apex predator metaphor. Axe does not seem like a dude who is wired at all for a mind-enhancing superdrug. I think hed benefit more from, like, a weed brownie and some herbal tea. Man needs to wind down, is what Im saying.

All that said, big fan of the self-discovery beard. And the wild mane of hair. Axe looks like a straight-up Game of Thrones character here, like Damian Lewis is still annoyed that hes the one working British actor in the world who wasnt brought in for an audition on that show, like hes cosplaying as Biker Tormund to exorcise those demons. I love it. Or rather, I loved it, past tense. I was devastated to see him clean-shaven and tightened-up at that Vanity Fair shoot. I was hoping hed come back to the office holding a sword and the detached head of one of his many mortal enemies. Set the tone. Show everyone whos boss. Make Brian happy.

Thats what Im really getting at here. My enjoyment. Grow the beard back. Come on.

In addition to being on the receiving end of this absolutely crushing exchange, one that made me physically wince and realize how much I never want to get into a heated argument with a trained psychologist, this was Chucks week:

But at least he has those books, I guess.

This is where I should probably discuss the cameo by WWE superstar Becky Lynch, who is apparently friends with Wendy, in what is possibly the wildest cameo this show has seen since Axe greased the wheels of a deal by having Kevin Durant record a Bar Mitzvah greeting on a cell phone. Im not going to do that, though. Instead, Im going to highlight the fact that Bonnie responded to a very reasonable HR-related complaint by lifting both of her palms to her face and ripping off an extended fake fart that someone in the captions department had to got to? transcribe. Im so happy for everyone involved here.

Kate Sacker is the best. Shes the most competent and confident person in the room in most of the rooms shes in, she gets stuff done and takes zero of Chucks crap, and she has everything lined up for a nice springboard into Congress. From there, presumably the Senate and/or the Oval Office. Shes an impressive lady who I would never cross in a million years and when she stares at people it looks like she is trying to turn them into dust right there on the floor. One day shell probably succeed.

But this is not good. Were a single episode into this season and shes already at least two strikes into Billions Characters Headed For Personal And/Or Professional Ruin situation. The first was articulating her plans for the future, the thing about Congress. No one on Billions ever gets to see their dreams through. Every dreamer gets crushed and swept up and tossed into a trash can. Remember Rebecca Cantu and her short-lived plan to run a department store? Remember Lara Axelrods hangover recovery business? Remember Ice Juice? Saying your dreams out loud on Billions is like having two weeks until retirement in a buddy cop movie. Things are about to go sideways for you. Quickly.

Which brings us to strike two: Working with Chuck to go after Axe. If theres one thing weve learned for certain about Billions over its four-plus seasons, its that Axe and Chuck are two cockroaches who will still be left standing after the apocalypse which they probably caused while everyone else around them gets vaporized. Sacker is about to get Connertyd. I feel it coming and I hate it.

I loved everything about the scene where Axes diabolical henchmen Wags, Dollar Bill, and Victor gave him an update on the Bitcoin prosecution. I love that all three of them came to deliver a brief message any one of them could have easily delivered solo. I love that they came in strutting in a wide line like a teenage street gang from West Side Story. I love that Axe, who presumably knew they were coming, was waiting for them while sitting in a chair facing the opposite direction and staring out his penthouse window at the city skyline around him like a total supervillain.

I missed you so much, Billions. Never leave me again.

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Have a Good Trip: Netflix release and cast as celebrities recall mind-bending experiences – Mirror Online

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No lie, a rainbow shot out of my d***.

Thats A$AP Rockys recollection of what happened to him when he did acid.

His story, along with those of other celebrities, are being told in Netflix s new documentary, Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics.

This documentary film is the latest from Netflix, with imagery that wouldnt look out of place in a video by The Beatles from the second half of the 1960s.

These entertaining anecdotes are pitched alongside some science from researchers who suggest such drugs can help with anxiety, depression and addiction.

It lands on Netflix UK on Monday May 11.

A$AP Rocky is not the only famous face in the film as Have a Good Trip features numerous celebrities talking about their experiences on acid.

The likes of Sting, Ben Stiller and Rosie Perez all appear in the documentary talk about what happened to them when they took mind-bending drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms.

Actors also perform the wild trips recalled by late stars such as Carrie Fisher and Anthony Bourdain.

The trailer, which you can watch at the top of this page, teases some of these journeys.

Sting opens it by saying: I dont think psychedelics are the answer to the worlds problems, but they could be a start.

remembers hearing the grass talk to him while actor Rosie Perez describes her body melting into her mattress when she lay down. Then theres A$AP Rockys rainbow of course.

As well as celebrities talking about their hallucinations, Have a Good Trip looks at the pros and cons of these trippy drugs, as well as looking at their history, future, science and impact on pop culture.

Netflix also says: The film tackles the big questions: Can psychedelics have a powerful role in treating depression, addiction, and helping us confront our own mortality? Are we all made of the same stuff? Is love really all we need?

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From "Solar Opposites" to "Midnight Gospel," recent otherworldly animation is worth the head-trip – Salon

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In the opening of the new Hulu adult animated series, "Solar Opposites," Korvo a snarky blue alien voiced by Justin Roiland explains his family's current predicament: "We crash-landed on Earth, stranding us on an already overpopulated planet. I hate Earth. It's a horrible home and one of these days I'm just going to blow it up and be done with the whole stupid thing, I swear to God."

Stranded with him is his alien family:Terry (Thomas Middleditch), their children/replicants, Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) and Jesse (Mary Mack). And then there's the pupa, a sentient supercomputer that will someday be capable of universal annihilation, but is currently a mewling blob carried by Terry in a Babybjrn.

The framing of "Solar Opposites" isn't revolutionary; think of it as a galactic "Green Acres" where the newcomers have to adapt (or not) to the odd customs of the natives. Cultures clash and laughter ensues. And like other Fox-developed adult animated series, like "Bob's Burgers" or "The Simpsons," "Solar Opposites" is grounded by a family unit that, for all their foibles, is genuinely fond of each other.

It will also lookand feel familiar to fans of "Rick and Morty," as both were created by Roiland and feature the work of former "Rick and Morty" writer and producer Mike McMaha.The animation styles are nearly identical and it almost feels like a natural extension of that series' universe, minus one thing: the overwhelming existential dread.

Whereas "Rick and Morty" is a ragtag exploration of nihilism and feelings of personal insignificance the idea being that if no one belongs anywhere and everyone is going to die, what's the point? "Solar Opposites" has a sunnier, but equally inquisitive, outlook.

Which, in these weird, weird times, will likely be deeply appreciated by viewers.

You see, this alien family has dichotomous views on their new earthly neighbors. Korvo, obviously, isn't a fan. Terry has adapted to life on earth. He bingesTV shows, enjoys checking out the makeup counter at Bloomingdales, and takes the pupa to watch the labradoodles at the dog park.Yumyulack is both disgusted and fascinated by them; he is forever shrinking the people in his life to run tests on them and keep them in a lab maze/terrarium. Meanwhile, Jesse just simply wants to fit in with her new high school peers, and in expressing that desire, she sounds a lot like someone in quarantine talking about The Before.

"I want to eat lunch with friends and see movies with boys," Jesse wails at one point. "I just want to chill at the mall."

Korvo's stony "I hate Earth" facade literallycracks every now and then, like when a new friend abandons them when they go clubbing in favor of some finance bros in the VIP section.In the face of this rejection, Korvo and Terry's bodies begin to bubble and little purple orbs of pus pop out. "Our bodies are not designed for this emotional overload," Korvo says, clawing at his skin. "There is a chance that we will overheat and die."

"I can't die! I have a bucket list," Terry responds. "I haven't touched a dolphin, or been on 'The Price is Right.' I'm supposed to fall in love on a train in India and maybe the woman is a little older than me?"

Again, sounds like a person trapped in quarantine, right? As the series continues, the universe of "Solar Opposites" continues to expand and the general lighthearted nature of the show and an undercurrent of just straight raunchiness is grounded by some of the more contemplative episodes. The sixth episode of the series, for example, delves into Korvo and Terry's relationship.

Up to that point, it's unclear whether the two are simply friends, associates, or romantic partners, but what becomes clear is that gender on their home planet of Shlorp isn't expressed in the same way it is here on Earth. So what does that mean for fitting in in their new home?

And, in a bigger sense, what does "normal" look like for them now?

This is a question a lot of us are probably asking ourselves about our current realities; I know that I've asked it often as my schedule has been upended and it seems that so many things are broken or warped beyond recognition. The world around us now feels deeply alien, which may be why shows like "Solar Opposites" are hitting at exactly the right time. Perhaps we can better parse our feelings about our planet when we look at them through an otherworldly lens.

Another new release that operates in the same orbit though decidedly strikes a more consistently earnest chord is "The Midnight Gospel." Heartfelt and trippy, this Netflix series is based on Duncan Trussell's interview podcast "The Duncan Trussell Family Hour" and is co-created by "Adventure Time" creator Pendleton Ward. The interviews from that podcast have been adapted into animated stories that center onClancy (Trussell), who lives in what looks to be an Airstream that is decked out with a "Universe Simulator."

Each episode begins with him selecting the universe he wants to visit, each completely programmed with places, people (or creatures), and their individual challenges. After rocketing past planets and galaxies, Clancy crash-lands and is immediately thrown into some kind of mission, all of which are bookended by conversations with that planet's inhabitants. This is where the show really shines; the topics discussed are wide-ranging and deep death, life, spirituality, love each approached with eccentricity, enthusiasm and deep compassion.

The final episode of the series features the voice of Trussell's late mother, recorded when she was in the final stages of cancer, as the two contemplate what comes next. It's one of the most moving episodes of television I've seen in recent years.

Oh, and then there's psychedelics. The show dropped on 4/20 and when you see the series' animation style you'll be like, "Of course it did." The first episode of the series features Dr. Drew Pinksy, animated as a zombie-fighting president, discussing psychedelics and their effects, benefits and some of the unknowns inherent to those substances. There's this persistent idea that while we can't currently literally visit other universes, perhaps psychedelics can offer an opportunity to do so and to maybe gain the insight that would be found on that trip with our feet still on earthly ground.

It's an idea that is appealing while homebound, and one that will be further explored in the upcoming Netflix documentary "Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics." Led by Nick Offerman, celebrities like Sarah Silverman, Nick Kroll, and A$AP Rocky will talk about some of their most mind-bending trips through animation, reenactments and interviews.

Per the film's Netflix description, "Mixing comedy with a thorough investigation of psychedelics, 'Have a Good Trip' explores the pros, cons, science, history, future, pop cultural impact, and cosmic possibilities of hallucinogens."

Again, there's this appeal inherent to things that take us outside our earthly existence, that encourage us to think deeply about both the world (and worlds) around us and ourselves. While homebound and isolated, maybe use this recent spike in otherworldly animation to let your imagination land among the stars.

The first season of "Solar Opposites" is now streaming on Hulu. "The Midnight Gospel" is currently streaming on Netflix. "Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics" premieres on Netflix on May 11.

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From "Solar Opposites" to "Midnight Gospel," recent otherworldly animation is worth the head-trip - Salon

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Netflix Reveals Celebrities’ Wildest Drug Trips, From Anthony Bourdain to Carrie Fisher – The Daily Beast

Posted: at 5:50 am

For everyone forced by the COVID-19 pandemic into quarantineeither by themselves or with a select few loved onesNetflix has become a vital means of (temporary) escape from reality. As if to enhance that role, the streaming service has now become a de facto advocate of traveling not outdoors but inward, via two offerings that directly target the psychedelic crowd: first, Pendleton Ward and Duncan Trussells trippy animated affair The Midnight Gospel, and now Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics, a documentary that investigates the varied experiences celebrities have had on acid, mushrooms and other hallucinogensand the potentially therapeutic role they might one day play.

That latter angle comes courtesy of Dr. Charles Grob, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA who believes that there are many conceivable benefits to using psychedelics to treat individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD and other similar ailments. The fact that the FDA has recently approved studies along those lines suggests that Grob isnt simply a counterculture outlier. Nonetheless, Have a Good Trip is at its dullest when attempting to make an actual argument for the societal benefits of mind-altering substances; no matter how promising their medicinal qualities may or may not be, the primary value of these drugs is the hysterically whacked-out stories that result from their consumption.

And thankfully, writer/director Donick Carys film has those in spades.

Premiering on Netflix on May 11, Have a Good Trip revolves around a series of interviews with well-known stars whove all tuned in and dropped out at one point in their lives, be it Ben Stiller, Natasha Lyonne, Sarah Silverman, Beastie Boys Adam Horovitz, Marc Maron, Paul Scheer, Rob Corddry, David Cross or My Morning Jackets Jim James. For some, like A$AP Rocky, who saw A rainbow shot out of my dick during sex on acid, the experience was euphoric and enlightening. For others, it was less sofor example, Rosie Perez, who was surreptitiously dosed at a crowded dance club and wound up losing her shirt while backstroking along a cascading wooden floor, and then merging with her bedroom mattress.

The traumatic and the riotous are often one and the same in these tales, as is generally true for those journeying through psychotropic realms. Thus, theres no better summation of this non-fiction inquirys outlook than that provided by Nick Offerman, whoappearing as an educational video-style laboratory scientiststates, Dont get me wrong, drugs can be dangerous. But they can also be hilarious.

Director Cary dramatizes his speakers anecdotes with Drunk History-esque recreations starring other notable comedians, and his films funniest accounts come from its two now-deceased participants: Anthony Bourdain and Carrie Fisher. The former recounts a Hunter S. Thompson-inspired road trip with a friend in which they picked up two beautiful hitchhikers, partied like crazy in a motel room, and then freaked out when one of the two women suddenly ODd before their very eyesonly to magically awaken a few moments later, behaving as if nothing had happened. For Fisher, meanwhile, an afternoon at the beach during her Star Wars heyday turned sour when, while tripping, she was photographed by a group of Japanese touristsall of whom got snapshots of Princess Leia zonked out of her mind and, like Perez, topless.

Have a Good Trips goofy formal flourishes dont end with those reenactments, all of which are prefaced by swirly-colored title cards. Shouting out to the 1980s, a corny LSD Afterschool Special hosted by Adam Scott imagines a Bad Trip by a bunch of high-schoolers (including Haley Joel Osment and Maya Erskine), while The More You Trip segments educate viewers on the dos and donts of tripping. Those lessons involve the need to control your set and setting, and to avoid driving and looking into mirrorsadvice that goes hand-in-hand with other handy tips about how best to handle a hallucinatory reverie, such as making sure you dont do so when in a negative frame of mind, since acid, mushrooms and the like enhance unhealthy thoughts and emotions to possibly unnerving degrees.

Further embellishments include animation for sequences like Stings recollection of a deer blood-soaked Mexican peyote trip, and stuffy archival videos from the United States Navy about the dangers of LSD. The film has a cartoonish everything-and-the-kitchen-sink aesthetic approach that keeps the proceedings lighthearted, save for when Dr. Grob or Deepak Chopra appear to provide some drugs-are-actually-useful blather. Have a Good Trip makes a far more convincing case for the acceptability of acid and mushrooms through its loony celebrity commentary, which underlines thatcontrary to common scare-tactic wisdomsuch drugs are less apt to make you jump out a second-floor window than simply lead you on a crazed adventure thats only as dangerous as you allow it to be.

It does demystify these drugs, casting them as consciousness-altering elements that are frequently great fun, occasionally big-time bummers, but always far from the insanity-inducing menace theyve been thought of by the public at large.

Consequently, Stings ruminations on how psychedelics help him forge connections with himself, his loved ones and the universe are ultimately far less impactful than absurdist bits such as Nick Kroll being covered in kelp by his friends and then running around a beach pretending to be a Kelp Monster. Have a Good Trip doesnt take its subject matter lightly, exactlyThe Grateful Deads Bill Kreutzmann wisely cautions against dosing others without their knowledge, and A$AP Rocky is upfront about the fact that he doesnt encourage everyone to give psychedelics a try, because some simply arent cut out for them. Yet through its raft of narratives, it does demystify these drugs, casting them as consciousness-altering elements that are frequently great fun, occasionally big-time bummers, but always far from the insanity-inducing menace theyve been thought of by the public at large.

Does this mean Have a Good Trip will encourage those who are on the fence to give acid or mushrooms a try? Possibly. But the real fun of Carys documentary is the vicarious thrill that comes from hearing how others fared, for good or ill, while tripping their balls off in less-than-ideal circumstances. Although watching it while under the influence will no doubt also be amusingif, that is, such hallucinating viewers can first manage to stop staring intensely at their hands.

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Democrats are on verge of the unthinkable: Losing a swing district in California – POLITICO

Posted: at 5:49 am

Their battle plan: Hope for the best next week, then try again in six months in the rematch, when Democrats expect their voters will show up with the presidential election on the ballot.

We dont underestimate how much of a Republican-leaning district this could be in May, but that will be a different electorate in November, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) said, noting that the winner will serve only a limited time in Congress. We dont get in this to lose a race, but I do think that in November, Christy will be successful.

Yet a victory by Republican Mike Garcia, a 44-year-old former Naval aviator and defense contractor, would provide a jolt of energy to the GOPs efforts to reclaim some of its lost suburban territory even as the partys chances of recapturing the House majority appear to be dwindling.

The close race is remarkable, in part, because voters in the district, which spans the northern Los Angeles suburbs, backed Hillary Clinton by 7 points two years prior. And President Donald Trump is still highly unpopular there; one Democratic survey found his favorability ratings underwater by double digits. Those same conditions could be present in several key seats that Republicans hope to flip back.

State Assemblywoman Christy Smith. | Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

It is not a unique district. It is similar to many of the districts that we won in the fall, said one Democratic consultant who works on House races. This was an anti-Trump response district, and if were ebbing in those districts we need to find out why. We cant just brush it off.

Trump gave Garcia his "complete & total endorsement" in a series of tweets Saturday.

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the election will be conducted almost entirely by mail, and ballot return tallies thus far ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday and received by Friday in order to be counted have only contributed to Democrats fears.

The electorate so far is older, less diverse and more likely to favor the GOP. Of more than 118,000 returned ballots counted as of Friday, 44 percent are from registered Republicans, and just 36 percent are from Democrats, according to Paul Mitchell, the vice president of Political Data Inc., a bipartisan company that analyzes voter data.

Look at the age breakdown, Mitchell said in an interview, pointing to turnout rates that showed that 15 percent of voters under 35 years old have returned their ballots thus far, compared to 49 percent of those 65 and older. "Thats a big deal. The Latino population is pretty significant here," he added, "but theyre turning out at half the rate of white voters.

Privately, Democrats are pessimistic about their odds. The DCCC has spent over $1 million on TV ads boosting Smith after the March 3 primary, but the cavalry of outside groups that typically drop millions in special elections has largely sat out the race.

Both House Majority PAC and EMILYs List, which endorsed Smith, concluded the May electorate skewed too heavily toward Republicans and the cost of running ads in the pricey Los Angeles market was too high to justify a major investment when the winner would serve for only a few months before facing voters again, according to sources with knowledge of their spending decisions.

Democrats maintain that the GOP advantage will evaporate in November, when turnout will return to normal levels. Democrats have a voter registration advantage of nearly 30,000 in the district.

I think thats why a lot of groups are kind of pushing the pause button, said Aguilar, who co-chairs the DCCCs program for top offensive targets. And I think its a realization that the dynamics in this race in November are going to just be very different and lean our way significantly.

Yet some worry a Republican victory in the suburbs could set a concerning narrative, spur a surge in donations and energy in other Clinton-won districts that the GOP needs if they have any chance of taking back the House. Plus, Garcia could get a boost from his win, offering him a limited power of incumbency and a solid fundraising perch.

I mean, it wouldnt be good, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said of a potential loss on Tuesday. This is the only election, and this is a seat we won. So any time you lose a seat thats concerning. You dont take that for granted.

But Bass said she believes Smith will win and predicted that polls trying to gauge an all-mail election during a global crisis were portraying the race to be closer than it is.

Your guide to the permanent campaign weekday mornings, in your inbox.

In an interview, Smith, a 50-year-old former school board member who flipped a red state Assembly seat in 2018, said she understood the need to allocate resources wisely and conceded her path to victory would be easier in November. But she also framed this election in dire terms.

The reason Im running is because my constituents cant afford to wait, especially in this Covid recovery moment, she said. We need a seat at the table for all of these decisions that are going to be made and someone who is there stridently fighting for what our community needs.

The race will be the first substantive test of how the pandemic affects federal elections. Both Smith and Garcia have been forced to wage largely virtual campaigns from their homes.

Garcia is running heavily on his bio as a former Naval aviator who returned to the district to work for Raytheon, a defense contractor.

He landed a Twitter endorsement from Trump but is also hoping to pick up independents turned off by the president. He has avoided many recent requests for media interviews, including for this story. And Democrats complain that has allowed him to avoid taking positions on key issues, including the administrations Covid-19 response.

Democrats dominate the congressional delegation in California, holding 46 of the state's 53 seats after netting 7 seats in 2018, including the 25th District. Republicans haven't flipped a House seat in California since 1998, when the GOP won two open seats that were held by Democrats.

After Hill resigned from the seat last fall, former Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.) announced a comeback bid. The DCCC and HMP, eager to face a foe they had easily dispatched, spent over $1 million to try and knock him into the runoff with Smith. But Knight (17 percent) finished a distant third place behind Smith (36 percent) and Garcia (25 percent) in the all-party election.

Privately, some Democrats have questioned the efficacy of expending precious resources trying to choose Smiths opponent in the runoff.

Republicans have hammered Smith as a Sacramento politician with a weak track record on education. And they seized on a gaffe she made on a livestream in which she appeared to mock Garcias time in the Navy. (She has since apologized.)

Christy Smith is a horribly flawed candidate who spit in the face of Mike Garcias military service and the public school teachers she voted to fire, NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said in a statement. These issues are going to sink her campaign next Tuesday, and they will keep her sunk in November.

Democratic strategists believe the fall election will be more of a referendum on the president, and that the shadow of Hills resignation will have subsided. Private Democratic polling from December found Hill's unfavorable rating exceeded her favorable rating by double digits, according to a source familiar with the survey.

Hill waded into the race in April with her new PAC, cutting a direct-to-camera TV ad aimed at juicing Democratic turnout. Her $200,000 expenditure caught the DCCC by surprise, according to a source familiar with spending in the race.

In an interview late last month, Hill said she believed she was still popular with Democrats in the district and hoped her familiar face would boost turnout among her partys low-propensity voters.

I was hoping that the race would be much easier to win, right? she said. And we want to be smart about how we spend the money. Do you spend it now, or do you spend it in November?

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The Southern Democrat with the power to shut down Trump’s convention – POLITICO

Posted: at 5:49 am

Between the governor and the mayor of Charlotte, who is also a Democrat, they really do control whether or not [the Republican convention] will happen, said David McLennan, director of the Meredith Poll, a statewide public opinion poll of North Carolina voters.

As one of a handful of Democratic governors in a Trump-friendly state, Coopers handling of the coronavirus is a test of his leadership and political savvy. So far, his wait-and-see approach to reopening North Carolina has boded well for him: A late April Meredith Poll showed two-thirds of North Carolinians including a plurality of Republicans approve of his job performance.

Those numbers have made Cooper a slight favorite to win a second term. But his popularity surge could be short-lived if the health crisis grinds on for months. Some Republicans have pushed Cooper to accelerate statewide reopening measures as other Southern states such as Georgia, Tennessee and neighboring South Carolina are doing in the face of skyrocketing unemployment and economic stress.

But what makes Coopers situation unique is the authority he wields over the other partys national convention. Trump has been adamant about having a full-scale in-person convention, but as those plans forge ahead, Cooper will have to walk a fine line between protecting and alienating his constituents.

The governor could ban such a large gathering outright. Or he could limit the number of people allowed to gather in any given place. But any moves to curb the convention could inflame Trump and his base and prove politically costly to Cooper in November.

It would be horrible for the governor to get out and try to clamp down on a nominating convention, said Daniel Barry, the former chairman of the Union County Republican Party. It would take something very dramatic for the state or the City of Charlotte to react in such a fashion and pull the plug.

The Republican National Committee is still scheduled to hold its convention in Charlotte, N.C., in late August. | Chuck Burton, File/AP Photo

Cooper has steered clear of predictions about the fate of the convention. Aides and Democrats in the state who work closely with him say he sees the event, which was expected to inject $200 million into the states economy, as a boon to North Carolina. If hes forced to call it off or scale it back, they said, it will be because public health officials whose advice he has heeded say it's too dangerous.

Republican officials said they havent had extensive discussions with Cooper about the convention; most of the talks have been between Charlotte's Mayor Vi Lyles, a Democrat, and GOP brass. But they said theyre not concerned that Cooper will pump the brakes on their convention plans.

On April 28, Charlottes Democratic-dominated city council voted 6-5 to accept a $50 million grant from the Justice Department to cover insurance and security costs for the convention, marking an important step forward. Opponents said holding a 50,000-person convention would be impossible to pull off and dangerous to public health.

During an April 3 Twitter town hall, Lyles hesitated to echo the GOPs full-speed-ahead message but said the city is "proceeding in that direction" [of hosting the convention] and has a contractual agreement with the Republican National Committee to do so.

Lyles addressed growing concerns during a second online forum on April 17, saying, I dont have an answer to say yes or no [about whether the convention will occur]. I have an answer to say we will be guided by the best decisions for our residents.

Democrats in the state who want the convention mainly point to the economic lift it would provide. Republicans see it as a needed boost for Trumps base and means of propelling Coopers challenger, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, in the fall governors race.

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. | Chuck Burton, File/AP Photo

According to a report from the governors office, North Carolina is flattening its coronavirus curve. But if North Carolina sees a second wave of infections close to August, Cooper will have to make a decision on whether or not Trumps show will go on.

Neighboring states like South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee relaxed stay-at-home orders as early as April 30, allowing residents to begin dining in restaurants and shopping in retail stores.

Cooper, by contrast, has taken a more measured approach. Hes employed a three-phase reopening strategy that allows nonessential businesses to reopen as early as Saturday but keeps a stay-at-home order in place for two to three more weeks, well beyond the edicts of other Deep South states.

I know people want their lives and their livelihoods back, Cooper said at an April 23 news conference at which he unveiled his reopening plans. And I have a plan to do that. But first, we need to hit certain metrics because the health and safety of North Carolinians is our No. 1 priority.

Cooper declined an interview request. But a senior political adviser, Morgan Jackson, said the governor "is not making any decisions based on Facebook comments and angry tweets, or signs that people are walking around carrying. Hes making them on health experts, data, science and also in consultation with business leaders and economists.

Cooper, 62, has been a fixture in North Carolina for more than three decades, including four terms as state attorney general. In 2007, he made national news in the infamous Duke lacrosse case, declaring that three players accused of sexual assault were victims of a tragic rush to accuse. In 2016, Cooper defeated Republican Gov. Pat McCrory after an uproar over the states bathroom law, becoming the first person to defeat a sitting governor in modern state history.

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How Never Trumpers Crashed The Democratic Party – FiveThirtyEight

Posted: at 5:49 am

Anti-Donald Trump activism among conservatives known informally as the #NeverTrump movement started in early 2016 as a way to stop the businessman from winning the GOP nomination. It failed.

Even by the slightly broader standard of influencing Republican politics, #NeverTrump has been largely unsuccessful. Trump won around 90 percent of self-identified Republican voters in 2016, similar to past GOP presidential nominees. About 90 percent of Republicans have approved of Trump throughout his first term, similar to George W. Bushs standing in his first four years in office. And with Trump as the face of the party, Republican congressional candidates won around 90 percent of the GOP vote in the 2018 midterms, just as in recent midterm elections. There is really only one anti-Trump figure among the 249 Republicans on Capitol Hill: Sen. Mitt Romney.

Never Trumpers tried to draft a high-profile Republican like Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to run against Trump for the GOP nomination. That didnt pan out either. Facing fairly weak opponents, Trump easily won the GOP primaries that occurred earlier this year. Polls also suggest most Republicans will be strongly behind Trump this November too he is getting about 90 percent of the Republican vote in head-to-head match-ups with the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

But Never Trumpers are increasingly involved in the Democratic Party and have gradually shifted their tactics in that direction effectively becoming a Never Trump and Never Bernie Sanders coalition. And they appear to be having more success shaping their new party than the one that many of them had been associated with for much of their lives. Heres how that shift has happened.

By pure numbers, the anti-Trump conservative bloc is both fairly small and not that remarkable. The group of Republican voters who disapprove of Trump is similar (but slightly smaller) than Democrats who disapproved of then-President Barack Obama during his first term. Conservatives who really hate Trump probably no longer identify as Republicans 11 percent of Republicans switched their party affiliation between December 2015 and March 2017, according to Pew. But surveys suggest that the share of Democrats switching affiliation in that same period is about the same. Its hard to be precise about this: Data suggests at most 10 percent of American voters overall are anti-Trump but generally lean Republican. Thats not nothing, but between 40 and 50 percent of Americans are likely to vote for Trump in November.

But while this hard to prove conclusively, anti-Trump conservatives are arguably way overrepresented in elite media, at least compared to their numbers in the general population. The New York Times, for example, has three conservative-leaning but Trump-skeptical opinion columnists David Brooks, Ross Douthat, Bret Stephens and no columnists who regularly align with the president. MSNBC has programs fronted by two anti-Trump hosts once closely aligned with the GOP establishment ex-Rep. Joe Scarborough and Nicolle Wallace, a former communications director for President George W. Bush and no explicitly pro-Trump hosts. Among the 53 Washington Post opinion writers highlighted on the papers website, seven are people who have identified with conservatives and/or the Republican Party in the past but regularly attack Trump. Just four are conservatives who regularly defend the president. Numerous anti-Trump conservatives are also featured prominently on CNN.

How did this happen? Well, from the media perspective, the prominence of Never Trump conservatives makes perfect sense. The readers and watchers of The Post, The Times and MSNBC in particular are disproportionately left-leaning. So these audiences probably dont want too much explicitly pro-Trump commentary. At the same time, news outlets usually like to present themselves as both offering a diverse set of voices and not too closely aligned with one party or the other. So by featuring, for example, George Conway, a conservative lawyer turned Never Trump leader who sharply criticizes the president in his cable news appearances and columns in The Washington Post, the press can essentially suggest, Its not just the liberal media, even Republicans were angry when Trump did X.

But its not simply as if the media has hired every Republican who says that they dont like Trump. Many of the conservatives in high-profile media slots (like Brooks) were there before Trumps rise. Robert Saldin, a political science professor at the University of Montana and co-author of a new book on anti-Trump conservatives, said the kind of conservatives who get jobs at places like CNN were predisposed to dislike a Trump-style GOP politician.

Many prominent Never Trumpers, Saldin said, operate and make a living in liberal institutions. They think of their jobs as translating conservative ideas to liberals. They had invested in the idea that conservatism was respectable, he said. In particular, Saldin said, these figures had worked hard to suggest that racism was not a major feature of conservatism.

So they were particularly horrified by Trump because he embodied what they had spent their careers saying was not conservatism, he added.

In my interviews with several prominent Never Trump conservatives, they not only suggested the groups high-media profile was somewhat accidental, but were kind of defensive about it.

Tim Miller, a prominent Never Trump activist who worked on Sen. John McCain and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bushs presidential campaigns, dismissed the notion that Never Trumpers are only in green rooms.

But getting into media consumed by liberals is in some ways the only game in town for anti-Trump conservatives, since Fox News is very pro-Trump and features few critics of the president. And that platform to reach Democrats has been particularly useful for Never Trump conservatives because

The core argument of Never Trump Republicans goes something like this:

This argument may not be totally true. And the Never Trump narrative is clearly self-serving of course a group of conservatives who feel like they dont fit in the current Republican Party prefer a more conservative Democratic Party that they can align with.

But true or not, this narrative matters because it has mirrored and likely influenced the Democratic Partys post-Trump strategy. Since Trumps victory, Democrats have done a lot of soul-searching. Is the party too left? Or is it too establishment and centrist? Are Democrats ignorant of the concerns of the Americans who dont live on the coasts? Are they too focused on nonwhite voters or not focused on them enough?

Faced with these complicated questions in 2017 and 2018, Democrats took an approach that was broadly similar to the Never Trumpers attacking Trump as a uniquely dangerous threat to American democracy while resisting more liberal policy ideas and recruiting fairly centrist candidates in key congressional races. This approach led some Never Trumpers to get behind Democrats in the midterms moving beyond simply opposing Trump to fighting the Republican Party more broadly.

By at least early 2018, if not late 2017, there was general understanding that we needed to build a cross-partisan pro-democracy coalition that could prevail over Trumpism, which meant helping to unite Democrats, independents and principled conservatives, said Evan McMullin, the anti-Trump conservative who ran for president in 2016 and now runs a group called Stand Up Republic that focuses on defending democratic values.

Fortunately, Democratic leadership and many candidates in competitive districts naturally understood this opportunity and what it required, he added. Unifying candidates like Ben McAdams in Utah and Abigail Spanberger in Virginia were examples of those who attracted the support of principled conservatives and Republicans.

Its hard to quantify exactly how many anti-Trump conservatives backed Democrats in 2018 and how big a role they played in Democrats taking the House and winning many key governors races. But that temporary alliance between Never Trump Republicans and Democrats was strengthened in 2019 for two reasons. First, Never Trump Republicans found there was little appetite in the GOP for a primary challenge to Trump another illustration of their declining influence within the party. And second, in a final blow for some of them, Republicans largely stood by Trump even as details emerged about his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

I was so sure there was going to be a handful of Republicans who were going to say it was clearly wrong, said Sarah Longwell, a longtime Republican strategist who was heavily involved in the effort to recruit a challenger to Trump. She added, Its been a slow realization that there isnt anybody left who is going to say anything.

In response, many of the Never Trumpers decided to get even deeper into Democratic politics, injecting themselves into the partys fractious presidential primary. And they had an obvious path to take: While Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were pushing Democrats to take more liberal policy stands, several candidates were echoing the views of the Never Trumpers. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was arguing that a Democratic candidate with fairly moderate policy ideas could win over Republicans in a general election, emphasizing his potential appeal to future former Republicans. Sen. Amy Klobuchar made similar arguments. Biden was publicly noting how much he likes the writings of The New York Timess Brooks, who was calling for Democrats to avoid going too far left.

When Sanders did well in the early primaries and seemed like he could win the Democratic nomination, Never Trump conservatives turned into a Never Bernie coalition. The Never Trumpers argument that Sanders couldnt win the general election, in part because anti-Trump Republicans (like themselves) wouldnt vote for him was compelling, particularly for a Democratic Party obsessed with beating Trump. And the Never Trumpers were already in the ideal positions to make these arguments and reach Democratic Party elites and primary voters the web pages of The Atlantic, The New York Times and The Washington Post and on MSNBC. Miller, in an anti-Trump publication called The Bulwark, described how he and other Republicans had failed to mobilize effectively against Trump in the 2016 GOP primary and laid out a step-by-step guide for how Democrats could avoid the same fate. (The piece was widely circulated on Twitter.)

Sanderss allies noticed all of this, of course, and started to publicly complain that MSNBC, in particular, was covering his candidacy too negatively. Its hard to prove that a lot of Democratic primary voters were Never Trumpers or that Democratic voters were particularly swayed by the groups warning about Sanders. But Never Trump conservatives were thrilled with Bidens victories on Super Tuesday and think they played a part in it.

One group that really mattered in the primaries were the high-information voters, the people who watch MSNBC, listen to The Daily, said Miller, referring to a popular New York Times podcast. A lot of these people went from Harris to Warren to Buttigieg and finally landed on Biden. For these voters, it was all an assessment of who could defeat Trump. For them, we [Never Trumpers] have a unique experience and insight.

Our message before and during the early primary elections was that principled conservatives and Republicans were a winnable bloc and could provide the decisive votes in general election swing states as long as Democrats didnt nominate a divisive, far-left candidate, McMullin said. Appropriately, Democratic voters prioritized replacing Trump in 2020 above other issues.

As I explained earlier, it is possible that 5 to 10 percent of the people who will vote for Biden in November backed either Romney in 2012 or Trump in 2016 and at some point identified as conservative or Republican. So while Never Trump conservatives are a smaller and less formal constituency in the Democratic Party than black voters, for example, some of them feel exiled from a Republican Party dominated by Trump, backed Democrats in the 2018 midterms and participated in the 2020 Democratic primaries. Michael Halle, a strategist on Buttigiegs campaign, said about 50 of the campaigns county precinct captains in Iowa were former Republicans who changed their party registration to become Democrats so they could participate in the caucuses and back the former mayor.

Those exiled Republicans are already mobilizing behind Biden in the general election. They are urging fellow conservatives not to support Rep. Justin Amash, who left the GOP in 2019 and last week announced an exploratory committee for a presidential run as the Libertarian candidate. They argue Amashs candidacy might increase Trumps chances of reelection.

So Never Trump conservatives can probably make some demands of Biden, just like any other constituency in the party, and he might feel some need to court them.

And that seems to be happening. The former vice president hinted recently that he might name some Republicans to his cabinet or transition team. Rumors of his consideration of Klobuchar for vice president is no doubt largely about her potential appeal to voters in the Midwest, but her more centrist politics also make her a favorite of some moderate Republicans.

I dont know that Biden needs a message for Never Trumpers most Never Trumpers are going to vote for Biden, Miller said. But, he added, I do think eventually the campaign should have a message for them.

Mostly, Never Trumpers simply want Biden to run a general election campaign similar to his primary run, emphasizing more moderate policies and appealing to more centrist voters.

I dont want him to make crazy sacrifices to the left that he doesnt need to make, Miller said.

The extent to which Never Trumpers become card-carrying members of the Democratic Party might have broad implications for the partys future. Are we seeing the birth of a new, ex-conservative faction in the Democratic Party or the resurgence of an existing one, with Never Trump conservatives joining with longtime Democratic moderates? Could that wing of the party become as strong as it was in the 1990s? The 2018 general elections and the 2020 primaries suggest more centrist Democratic candidates are winning among white, college-educated voters in the suburbs against both Trump Republicans but also Sanders Democrats. Thats an opportunity for Democrats to expand their coalition after all, white voters are the majority of American voters. Its also likely to be a challenge: The more liberal bloc of the Democratic Party increasingly favors big, transformative policies on economic issues that longtime moderate Democrats and ex-Republicans are unlikely to ever embrace.

On the other hand, the alliance between Never Trump conservatives and Democrats could be a fleeting one. If Trump loses badly in November, perhaps anti-Trump Republicans can regain influence in the party many of them still want to be in.

If he loses, there is a lot of room for a fight over the soul of the party, Longwell said.

If he wins, then its pretty definitive.


How Never Trumpers Crashed The Democratic Party - FiveThirtyEight

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