THE SCALIA BOMB

Aquarian Weekly
2/24/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE SCALIA BOMB

Once the death of ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was announced late on February 13, the wheels of political discourse, the fluidity of the 2016 presidential campaign, and the very core of the United States Constitution was put into play. No matter how this is handled, and chances are very good they will be handled poorly by the current members of the senate and our sitting president, his name, legacy and his vast and prominent ideological shadow will nonetheless hover.

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Elections have consequences.

We have all heard that spouted over and over throughout our lives come campaign time – whether a battle for municipal comptroller, dogcatcher or president of the United States. To the winner goes the spoils – the will of the people is paramount.

To wit: In 2012, Barack Obama, the duly re-elected president of United States, was given the right and responsibility by a majority of the electorate to appoint a Supreme Court judge in the event of retirement, which he has already done twice (Sonia Maria Sotomayor – 2009, Elena Kagan – 2010), and certainly if one is suddenly vacant. This is clearly framed in the Constitution. The idea put forth by Republican members of the senate or political rhetoric by GOP candidates that they will not consider his nominee or to refuse to even vote on said nominee is patently unconstitutional.

Now, of course, no one argues that it is the role of the senate to set parameters and hold hearings and even (wink, wink) stall or filibuster this process, but to arbitrarily state the chief executive, with an entire eleven months remaining in his presidency, cannot appoint a nominee for an empty seat on the Supreme Court is to ignore the will of the people to its elected president, and therefore I argue, treasonous.

If Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell had just merely said, “We’ll see” and let the process play out in the predictably obstructionist environment largely conducted by the congress over the past five years into January of 2017, then all is fair. But he did not. Like his bluster about “making Obama a first term president” and leading the charge to obstruct the agenda voted on by the majority of the American public twice in the past seven years, this reeks of partisan pettiness and ideological gridlock; the very reasons why an Independent socialist and a TV star businessman are the currently leading candidates for both major political parties.

Having stated the obvious, President Obama needs to be careful here. Back in 2006, then Senator Obama joined 24 Democrats to filibuster George W. Bush’s nominee, Samuel Alito. Obviously, Alito became a justice, but it did not come “smoothly”, as the president has challenged the senate this week. And so must the Republicans, in and out of the senate, tread lightly, as this false notion that not in 80 years has a president gotten a justice confirmed for the Supreme Court as Texas Senator erroneously blurted out during presidential debate in South Carolina. It happened six times in the twentieth century alone, the latest, Ronald Reagan’s 1987 appointment of Anthony Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson nominated two people in 1968, after announcing he would not seek re-election – Justice Abe Fortas to the Chief Justice position vacated by Earl Warren. But, of course, you could pack Yankee Stadium with what Cruz doesn’t know about constitutional history.

One thing Cruz, the president, and every Republican, Democrat and Independent on this continent understand is how monumental the Supreme Court has been over the past thirty years deciding on the most pressing social, economic and domestic issues of our day. It is the looming third branch of government, as laid out by the framers of this republic. Its decisions, however controversial, have shaped our history and solidified our Bill of Rights against the tide of painfully slow-moving progress.

However much they hold this fight dear, this is a huge gamble for Republicans, who are underdogs in any general election which gives any Democrat at least 244 very likely electoral votes before a single poll opens. Not to mention it fires up a Democratic electorate that is half as jacked as Republicans, who have only achieved the popular vote once (2004, G.W. Bush) since 1988 (H.W. Bush).

The idea put forth by Republican members of the senate or political rhetoric by GOP candidates that they will not consider his nominee or to refuse to even vote on said nominee is patently unconstitutional.

At least Obama will be forced to send a moderate to the senate, unless he decides to make this political, which he could very well do, which again, will embolden the left and the growing majority of independents with more progressive social concerns. And should the victor be Hillary Clinton or (gulp!) Bernie Sanders the nominee would in no way, shape or form resemble a moderate. It will be as liberal as Scalia was conservative, and that choice will have post-election political capital not available to a lame duck president. Say what you wish about Barack Obama, but listening to these stump speeches and watching the Democratic debates, he is a country mile farther to the center than either Sanders or Clinton.

This election also includes the “swing” factor – the amount of Republican seats up for grabs (24) dwarfs the ten the Democrats have to defend. There is only a four-seat majority that Republicans are likely to lose and thus hand the senate back to the Democrats.

But beyond a very risky and potentially gut-wrenching political gamble, it is the duty of the senate must hold hearings on an Obama nominee. Cease this childish and unconstitutional whining and do your job.

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MISTAH CHRISTIE – HE DEAD

Aquarian Weekly
2/17/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

MISTAH CHRISTIE – HE DEAD

Our mostly absentee governor has returned home utterly and completely defeated. His over one-year, suicidal presidential campaign, beginning in scandal with the so-called “Bridge-Gate”, which will go to trial this spring, ended with barely whimper on February 10, 2016, when the usually blustery and confrontational blowhard meekly announced the suspension of his campaign on Facebook, like the sagging, middle-aged dink he turned out to be on the big stage.

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Chris Christie’s career of garnering votes to continue culling a paycheck are no more. He will likely spend more absentee weeks and months brokering a deal with the Republican Party’s presidential frontrunner to try and get a cabinet position or a cushy federal government gig he so brazenly dismisses as some sort of welfare, because, as a serious candidate for anything going forward or certainly the final lame-duck years of his governance here in the Garden State, he is done and done.

Five years ago Christie was the darling of the national political scene. He was a mostly moderate, hard-talking, straight-shooting Republican governor of a heavy blue state and seemed to have the ear of the national party donation-class. He was begged by the party to head up a challenge to the increasingly shaky prospect of a Barack Obama second term. The Republican National Committee was certain that Obama was ripe to be taken down, and you know what – they were right. A strong candidate that could appeal to the TEA party anger of the base and help pull in moderates while bridging the gap to the all-important general election was paramount. Christie had all of these attributes in spades.

Christie, to his credit, recognized, that he had barely gotten things going here – and by that I mean fucking them up – so he declined several times citing that he was just not ready, or more dramatically, “It’s not my time.” Republican elites turned to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He was summarily hounded through a long and mostly pointless primary season by also-rans and nut cases before being roundly defeated by Obama, a stunning victory for a man with the highest unemployment rate and lowest re-election approval ratings for a sitting president in two generations.

Around this time, Hurricane Sandy devastated the state and Christie committed the sin of all sins; welcoming the “despised” president of the United States warmly. He was photographed surveying the carnage with him while petitioning the federal government (gulp!) for aid. This was seen among the thug-class as being some kind of anathema, and Christie began to see backlash. Nonetheless he was reelected in 2013 and seemed poised for a 2016 run.

However, my covering of the ensuing months into this primary year, I could not find a single soul who considered Christie’s run for president realistic. It appeared as if he just joined the gaggle of other mediocre governors and some crazies to muck up the lanes. It did not help in the least that another north-eastern big mouth bully completely upstaged him at every turn. Donald Trump, as he has done to most everything that people hold dear in the political realm, eviscerated the Christie purpose for running. He was bold. He was confrontational. He was politically incorrect. Christie looked liked a sad Jersey fat man screaming at a woman to shut up on CSPAN whilst in some incredible half-baked karma Trump appeared as a polished professional wrestling version of Don Rickles with money.

Turns out Christie’s finest moment was his final one on the stump. For ten crucial minutes on Saturday, February 6, he mentally broke Florida Senator Marco Rubio. During the ABC nationally televised debate, Christie took the young candidate apart; no small feat, since he was surging as the only establishment alternative to Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz only days before. Rubio had finished strong in Iowa and looked like he might make big noise and get big bucks heading into the New Hampshire vote. In classic Christie fashion, he laid into Rubio’s robotic responses to everything and for some odd reason that no one can still explain with any clarity Rubio provided ample and staggeringly stark examples of this. Christie pressed harder, himself looking like a Terminator machine, but an obviously damaged Rubio kept saying the same thing over and over and over until he was buried in the voting a few days later and remains on life support.

But this did not help Christie, who has no money and no support and was mostly a drive-by candidate – not quite the pathetic visage of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, but pretty awful. But like Jindal, Christie is a shitty governor with shitty approval ratings, hovering around 29 percent with a state fiscally downgraded seven times in the past year and half for being broke and incapable of paying bills. My property taxes here go up exponentially on the hour and our unemployment rate is a point higher than the national average, which while being far better than when the economy was struggling, still blows when you consider the state’s geographical proximity to New York, (unemployment rate there is one point better under a Democratic governor).

Now, if I have to deal with a Republican lecturing me on austerity and having the social issue flexibility of a 1950’s Alabaman statesman, I expect my taxes to go down.

If Christie is not taking the federal Medicaid expansion as part of the ACA because he is trying to win the GOP nomination, then why am I paying to supplement Ohio’s medical costs, as that state’s republican governor – incidentally still in the race – John Kasich takes his? Why do I have to hear this jack ass herald state’s rights and then blather on about how if he were president he would use the FBI to enforce federal law over states who have legalized marijuana? Why is it that a man born one day before me and lived through my generation goes hard-line against marriage equality after the Supreme Court deemed it legal, or say he abolished Common Core when my kid is still dong math conceived by a cyber-metric shut-in? If I have to deal with a governor who defunds Planned Parenthood and extends bear hunts in our beautiful part of the state to double the massacre of these spectacular creatures, I do not want to get raped on school taxes.

not quite the pathetic visage of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, but pretty awful

Fuck Chris Christie.

He is as useless as a titted bull and twice as stupid on Sunday.

We can only hope whoever wins this Republican nomination gets brain damage and puts him on the ticket so he can spend his days cutting ribbons and get the fuck out of my state.

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EXPLAINING BERNIE SANDERS

Aquarian Weekly
2/10/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

EXPLAINING BERNIE SANDERS

Like the Donald Trump phenomenon, there was a time, not long ago, that it seemed complete madness to consider a 74 year-old, Jewish, self-described Democratic Socialist, who is not even a member of the Democratic Party, as a serious candidate for president of the United States. But we are through the looking glass now, people. Somewhere between the 99% drum-circle and the tri-corner-hat-sporting TEA Party rancor we’ve got some wild cards here. And if I have learned one thing about the early weeks of presidential primaries, you do not ignore the zeitgeist. It is best to observe it from as far as you possibly can without completely detaching yourself. Study its habits. Understand its vagaries. Come to grips. Do not dismiss. Engage. This is how one approaches the 2016 candidacy of Bernie Sanders.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Speak At DNC Summer Meeting In Minneapolis

Let’s face it, the little-known eight-year Vermont senator stumbled onto the scene this past summer in front of a gaggle of reporters and a couple of supporters to announce he would be a left-wing alternative to the otherwise centrist/moderate massive favorite, Hillary Clinton. This is despite the narrative (one I have been willing to subscribe to) that after the unexpected humiliation of 2008 and a stint as Secretary of State, the former first lady and New York Senator would once again take her mantle as Madam Shoo-In and this time, absent a rock star against her, coast to the Democratic nomination and await whatever Republican fodder was left standing for her to demolish.

But not even Sanders, an over 50-year veteran of action politics, both in and out of the system, could have imagined the type of ire from progressives the Barack Obama presidency has wrought. While the president has been taking heavy fire from the right all these years, a growing contention to his secret wars, the failure to close Gitmo, the slow “evolution” on marriage equality, the utter lack of legal action against the perpetrators of the worst economic collapse in generations, an anti-working class, anti-union trade deal with China, and a half-hearted attempt to address the messy immigration issue (not to mention record deportations) was brewing on his left. But that is only half of what put Sanders in the game.

Young people love socialism. I did. Loved it. From 1983 to the almost the end of the decade I was indeed a socialist. I registered as such. It got so bad that I was still receiving literature from socialist groups way into the 1990s. Then I started to get published regularly. And it is difficult to explain the kind of pure, almost religious fervor socialists exude when you do not write like a socialist. It gets ugly. Not exactly like leaving the mafia or the CIA, but ideologically it’s close. Nonetheless, I was openly an intellectual, pragmatic socialist, primarily because I was, or fancied myself an artist. I would have loved free education, and free health care, and a safety net to write my poetry and play my songs in my rock and roll band, and ignore all this “working for the man” nonsense. Then I got to Arthur Koestler and what I called the holy trilogy; The Ghost in the Machine (Thanks, Sting), The Act of Creation and Suicide of a Nation. I dare anyone under the age of 25 to absorb that stuff and not decry capitalism.

Be that as it may, kids love socialism. It is getting so now that young people at Sanders’ packed-to the-rafters rallies have openly told reporters they are socialist, not “democrat socialist”, as Sanders likes to frame it, but socialist. And I doubt a single one of them have heard of Arthur Koestler, or maybe even listened to The Police. But, you see, young people start movements. This is what they do. They look like they are coming and you are going and that is the cool thing about being young, where ideology is attached to you like a tattoo and means something more than just watching your wallet or a fear of change or a fear of national implosion, which is all the rage for the Trump “movement”.

But make no mistake; while Barack Obama’s historical campaign was instilled with a generational, cultural and certainly racial shift, this is pure “against’ campaigning that Sanders had tapped into. He is against the greed of pure capitalism, the idea that it has winners and losers and the losers, of which there is an overwhelming majority, eat shit. And why should it eat shit when it is nine-tenths of the electorate? Why don’t the pharmaceutical companies eat shit, or the oil cartel, or the Wall Street speculators, or the silver-spoon, yuppie assholes?

Here is Sanders’ opening statement at a New Hampshire Debate on January 4:

“Millions of Americans are giving up on the political process. And they’re giving up on the political process because they understand the economy is rigged.

They are working longer hours for low wages. They’re worried about the future of their kids, and yet almost all new income and wealth is going to the top one percent. Not what America is supposed to be about. Not the fairness that we grew up believing that America was about. And then sustaining that rigged economy is a corrupt campaign finance system undermining American democracy, where billionaire, Wall Street, corporate America can contribute unlimited sums of money into super PACs and into candidates.

Our job, together, is to end a rigged economy, create an economy that works for all, and absolutely overturn Citizens United. One person, one vote. That’s what American democracy is about.”

if, like in youth, a campaign in the chilly winds of February cannot dream, then there is simply no point to democracy.

That sounds pretty good. Sure. The economy is in fact rigged. Fairness is a joke. (But to be fair, unless Sanders is from Planet Ork, it has always kind of been a joke). All this free college and free health care and taxing Wall Street is pie-in-the-sky and it is starting to irk the Democratic Party and their frontrunner, like Trump, and to a lesser extent, Senator Ted Cruz is bugging the Republican Party establishment. But just like building a wall that Mexico is going to pay for or abolishing the IRS are pipe dreams for the right, Sanders taps into something visceral now. And if, like in youth, a campaign in the chilly winds of February cannot dream, then there is simply no point to democracy.

Alas, it is all but a dream. Once this thing moves down the road, candidates like Sanders and Trump and Cruz take their medicine at one point or another in the trek. Once in a blue moon a Barry Goldwater or a George McGovern emerges in a fractured time to make their stand and then gets crushed in the general election.

There is certainly something weird and binding about these “anti” candidates, especially Bernie Sanders. There is something lying dormant in the political psyche that has been awoken. What that is exactly, or what it proves ultimately, escapes me. I have, if you have followed this space lo these past 18 years, long since abandoned absolute political fervor. No one is sending me literature. I mostly like Koestler’s fiction now. So I shall stand at my post and observe from a safe distance, take notes, and comment verily on the fallout.

There is always fallout.

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THE NAKED EMPEROR VS THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN

Aquarian Weekly
2/3/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE NAKED EMPEROR VS THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
How Donald Trump’s Political Farce Uncovered Political Farce

It is extremely rare that we are treated to true political theater. So much of it is fabricated, which is the entire point of political theater, really. However, every once and awhile comes an unexpected series of events that transpires, as they did over the past 72 hours, which defies the gravity of our system. And if you are lucky, these series of events reveal much about what is phony and pathetic. Such a thing has occurred and it forced me to trash what I was writing and write something else. Not quite stop-the-presses, but annoying just the same.

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Citizen Donald J. Trump, the presidential nominee front-runner of the over 150 year-old Republican Party saw fit to boycott his party’s final “debate” in a state holding the first voting for the 2016 campaign five days hence. He did so in protest over who would be moderating said “debate” and embroiled himself in combat with easily the most important media outlet in the Republican field. In protest, Trump held a competing event merely five miles away, covered by any and all remaining networks, which he thrashed together in a day. The “debate”, more a showcase (as noted in this column previously several times) in it does not allow for true point-counter-point argument of ideas to be presented as alternatives to each other, was hosted by the most powerful media voice of the right wing, FOX NEWS, a conglomerate so effective at propaganda it has shifted the very concept of television news irreparably for the rest of existence.

It is important to understand the gravity of this battle. Both FOX NEWS and Donald Trump live in the same fantasy stratosphere. In fact, they thrive in it. And when annoying things like factoids become an inconvenience to your mission statement, then it is nearly catastrophic when a similar, completely delusional force pushes back.

Trump, a man who lives by his own moral structure that is first and foremost arbitrated by him, accused a network whose promotional tagline is “Fair & Balanced” of unfairness. This shook its very foundation. Just think of every Twilight Zone you’ve ever seen. For 28 of the 30 minutes you think, along with the character, that you are somewhere or having an entirely different experience than the one that is actually transpiring, which sends shock waves through both and then cut to the credits. This was FOX NEWS last week. “What? Agenda? Fixed? Conflating news with ham-fisted talking points? Using actual events to generate an already decided-upon, self-serving narrative?”

Please try and grasp the horrifying beauty of this: the Republican front-runner, who leads in every poll imaginable over at least a dozen states, has made FOX NEWS stand trial for the very thing it was created to achieve.

For its part, FOX NEWS rightly defended its “journalist”, Megyn Kelly against Trump’s insistence that she was unfair to him in a previous showcase and could not be one of the moderators. However, Kelly is no longer a journalist. She gave up that title when she became a talk-show host. In a way, Trump uncovered one of my pet-peeves, which is why are talk show hosts dolled up and put in front of presidential candidates as if this were American Idol (three of them sitting at a table before the stage, get it?), when there are capable campaign trail reporters that know the candidates and the issues being pushed on the stump? Because it is a show, that’s why. Big name talk-show hosts of every cable network get their time in the spotlight to promote the network while the network pushes the personalities that drive said network. After the first debate, FOX NEWS crowed about record ratings like something straight out of Paddy Chayefsky’s Network. The reason for the big ratings – as if this is some kind of reality show and not a chance for voters to choose a presidential candidate – was Donald Trump. Trump knew this and took his basketball home. The first thing out of the candidate’s mouth was, “Watch their commercial ad rates drop now!”

And one very important abomination was unwittingly uncovered during this whole wonderful fiasco. Trump ostensibly held his event as a fundraiser for veterans. Interestingly, many veterans’ charity groups boycotted Trump by stating he was grandstanding by using veterans as a political tool. This argument, while it is most likely true, makes no sense on the face of it. Why would an organization created to get contributions ignore someone holding an event to do just that unless you were against them ideologically and/or politically and therefore you are in reverse also using veterans as tools?

when annoying things like factoids become an inconvenience to your mission statement, then it is nearly catastrophic when a similar, completely delusional force pushes back.

But that is not the kicker; where our little stripping bare of the disgusting nature of our collective fantasyland gets real is the mere fact that we, a nation obsessed with war, leave our veterans to need charity groups to care for them. We always seem to find the tax money to “bomb them back to the stones age” or “make the sand glow” or “shock and awe” and “boots on the ground” all over the place, but we have nothing in the budget to deal with the fallout?

This is the ugly truth of this country, which is always quick to go into war and yell about war and defense and supporting our troops, but the veterans of these national sins are left to beg for supper? How do we call this the greatest country on earth in the face of it? How do we brag on our exceptional nature and wave our flags with so much gusto while this goes on? All that money spent on making war and apparently none of it left to face its gory results?

In the rarest of times political theater provides us much needed clarity.

This one sure as hell did.

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WHY DONALD TRUMP MUST BE THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE

Aquarian Weekly
1/27/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

WHY DONALD TRUMP MUST BE THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE

For the first time in my lifetime, which has settled into its fifty-third year now, no new candidate running for president of the United States has dominated the media landscape, the rhetorical space, and, most importantly, the polls the way citizen Donald J. Trump has done, consistently and without waver. However, this is not why he needs to be the Republican nominee to run for the highest office in the land. It is because he embodies the emotional core of the anti-establishment bent that has gripped the GOP since the summer of 2010, when the TEA Party emerged out of the grassroots and was co-opted by the Republican establishment to win elections and take back the congress. Only this movement did little to curtail the “despised” Barack Obama agenda and still appears to be a flaccid sub-committee of goofballs screaming into a vacuum; mostly powerless and annoying. Trump, like no other GOP candidate in this race, can actually do what these people want, throw a grenade into the establishment and crack the concept of modern American governance.

Donald Trump

Like many of the TEA Party candidates ushered through the system like little revolutionaries in 2010 and 2012, Trump is not a politician. And to hear him speak for two minutes on the subject, you realize he has no idea how anything works to this end. Yet, Trump defies the very real argument that these types of candidates are mostly the result of redistricting and gerrymandering and merely work on local levels and once you expand the message nationally it is weak and ineffectual, as Obama proved in 2012 by getting re-elected with the largest margin for a Democrat since FDR in 1944. Trump is national, as the polls have reflected for half a year now.

Until September of this past year, the whole Trump thing was mainly a product of media fascination, as the candidate appeared on every television and radio show imaginable and said anything that popped into his skull, tweeting at a record pace, even for a high school kid, and capturing the imagination and good humor of the news class. But the skepticism that this is somehow a passing fad should now be put to bed, yet somehow it is not. There is still a very large segment of the media, both left and right, as well as the electorate that believe it is only a matter of time when everyone wakes up and realizes Trump is a rich, spoiled reality television star, whose actual record in real estate is not as nifty as the image, and his overtly combative language will sink him.

his has not happened. In fact, it has emboldened him and his supporters, and spiked his poll numbers at every turn. Thus, Trump has already thrown a grenade into the system. There is not one part of the political machine that normally pervades our discourse that Trump has not obliterated. He is the ultimate outlier. No one, and I mean no one, not even the candidate has a fucking clue what he is about or capable of or what may happen as a result. This all portends that he has the will and the legs to do the same should he be cast upon the general election or by weird happenstance be elected. Below all the bluster and grandstanding and half-assed malapropos, this is as independent a candidate as anyone has ever gotten. He is a monstrous construct of Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and John Anderson, all men I have voted for as independents. You get the feeling if this were 2008 and the country was lined up against a sitting two-term Republican administration yearning for change, then Trump would have declared as a Democrat. Trump is not about ideology or party politics, he is about Trump. His cult of personality knows no bounds or origin, it just is.

Without much argument, Trump is the only non-political candidate, save for religious loon, Dr. Ben Carson, and abject business failure, Carly Fiorina in the bunch. Calling Ted Cruz, a political hack who has spent his entire professional life in the public sector or phony TEA Party champion, Marco Rubio, nurtured at the teat of dynastic poltico, Jeb Bush outsiders is akin to Al Gore’s claim in 2000 that he was a reformer, despite being the sitting vice president for two terms. These are men who do whatever the political winds hint within their right-leaning sphere. Cruz is supposed to be a strict constitutional constructionist or as he puts it, an “originalist”, but when confronted with his in-eligibility to run for the office based on the 1788 construct of “natural born citizen” he cites a 1934 Supreme Court decision, while at the same time challenging the legitimacy of the Supreme Court in interpreting the ACA or marriage equality. He is a dyed-in-the-wool politician – sounds, looks, and smells like one. He is currently in the senate, which is located in Washington and bankrolls the government. Please.

Trump also dwarfs the rest of the field in this “grenade throwing” edict. Chris Christie is about as awful a governor as one could possibly have; a social conservative who cannot control his fiscal house. We are taxed to death while being lectured on morality. You want a competent governor, vote for John Kasich, but he’s been in government since the 1980s, so he’s out.

As a free-thinking, libertine independent, who mainly believes that politics is some kind of merry fuck-around for my own amusement and does little to affect my mainly sub-outlaw existence, there is no contest in the realm of a completely wild card candidate like Trump. On the far left you have Bernie Sanders, who espouses a failed government-controlled economic restructuring of wealth based on this illusion of fairness. The man has been in the United States congress in one form or another since Madonna was hip. On the far right you have the aforementioned political recidivists, who clamor for the same failed laissez faire/trickle-down nonsense.

Trump, like no other GOP candidate in this race, can actually do what these people want, throw a grenade into the establishment and crack the concept of modern American governance.

Trump has no failed ideological albatross. He is Trump. No one has a fucking clue what or who that is.

Grenade.

If independents and Republicans and even those of us curious to see the system broken into pieces for a lark are truly serious, then Donald Trump has to be a candidate for president.

It is going to be Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. Regardless of this Sanders daydream the leftist media has cooked up of his “surge” and the even more outlandish indictment jones the right media clings to. Write it down. Hillary Clinton is your other choice. No more an entrenched politician exists in this whole mess.

This is the contrast this republic was created to witness.

And this only happens if Trump is the Republican nominee.

Let’s see how serious we are about tossing a grenade into this thing.

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DAVID BOWIE 1947 – 2016

Aquarian Weekly
1/20/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

DAVID BOWIE 1947 – 2016

The task of philosophy is to teach the individual to become autonomous: not to ask, what is Being? but rather, what do I think about being, justice, physics, etc.
– John David Ebert

Strange fascination, fascinating me.
– David Bowie

One thing that must be said about David Bowie that never changed, despite his manic, almost schizophrenic ambition to do so both musically and physically throughout his almost five-decade career; his performance art never moved fashion, started trends or signified rebellious solidarity. Bowie’s trip was just the opposite; solitary, introspective, antithetical. While Elvis Presley obliterated the past and introduced a new youth paradigm in the 1950s, followed by The Beatles transformation of an entire culture in the 1960s, and skipping to Madonna’s anti-fashion, campy reimagining of a woman as the saint/sinner in the 1980s, Bowie was our perpetual outsider – zigging when the rest of the thing zagged. Thus, by not transforming anything but himself, constantly and without bearing, he became the pop culture, rock symbol of the 1970s.

Bowie

“He spoke to skinny backgroundish guys everywhere who, while in the midst of fighting to find it, questioned the very reason behind having a place (at all) in any current society. It wasn’t a gay thing, but an idea that a person could reinvent themselves into any entity that broke the norm,” my friend Peter Saveskie elegantly wrote to me this week.

Bowie was a creature of the 1970s, an era I’d immersed myself in for over three years while researching my new book, Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon in which Bowie is famously quoted as saying that “Rock must prostitute itself. If you’re going to work in a whorehouse, you’d better be the best whore in it.” In the same interview Bowie is quite adamant that anything that emerged out of the wildly experimental 1970s had to have a sense of humor in it. Humor, of course, being perhaps the most subjective and private of reactions to the great social order, something never lost on David Bowie’s best work.

The 1970s was the first time, specifically in America, where assimilation reigned for nearly two centuries, that individuality exploded from every social corner; race, gender, sexual affiliation, musical and artistic branding, even the origin of nationality. Until the ‘70s, there was none of this African-American, Italian-American stuff, or the identity politics that still rages along today. It was the beginning of societal edges careening into the mainstream, something often erroneously tied to the 1960s, when, in fact, there was a counter-cultural gathering to the rebel nature of youth. The following decade all of that fractured into segments of society creating a space to express; on a lesser note in music, where rock transformed from a movement to disparate interests, which led to several groundbreaking inventions, glam, prog, punk, disco, rap and hip hop.

David Bowie swam these currents with little interest in latching on to anything. Perhaps for the first time in the genre we have an artist that lives and breathes as a reflection of our worst fears; that change is inevitable and with it comes a breakdown in togetherness. Bowie disturbed the notion of youth culture by making it a non-culture; his most famous character, of which there were dozens, Ziggy Stardust, (“Oh don’t lean on me man, ’cause you can’t afford the ticket”) was a complex vision of doom and hope in the ostracized, the shunned, the queer, the bizarre, the unwanted, the rejected. His Aladdin Sane (“Sits like a man but he smiles like a reptile”) was an urban myth eulogized in the underbelly of cults that seemed to pop up every forty seconds throughout the decade. This is what it comes to, when we realize we are not of our time or place but of our own identity, says Bowie in his dark Berlin trilogy.

Bowie’s family history is of very real schizophrenia, his half-brother Terry suffered deeply from it and disintegrated in front of his eyes, after he had introduced him to the wonders of rock and roll as an expressive tool to escape the horrors of what might indeed be his own illness. Bowie ran from it his whole life, sure that he was afflicted with madness. He wrote about it constantly with spectacular success; “Rock and Roll Suicide”, “Scary Monsters and (Super Creeps)”, “An Occasional Dream “, All the Madmen”, “Quicksand” to name a very few.

Bowie dabbled in androgyny like no one outside of the subculture of homosexuality, especially in England where it had always been hidden in plain sight in the realm of theatrics, both professional and cultural, simply because it rejects identity. He dabbled even in the idea of humanity, its bigotry and pettiness, transforming himself into an alien appearance – made ever more eerie with his two different colored eyes and one perpetually dilated because of a beating he took as a youth in school. He embraced the black experience, not like The Rolling Stones, who had expressed its holy ritual as a pop machine, but its fusion of jazz and funk and street jive. His appearance on the popular Soul Train, the first such musical television show that did not collect kids like a mass marketing ploy, but set strict parameters on black music for its brilliance, its blood and soul, was historic. Ten years later he recorded what would turn out to be his most popular album, Let’s Dance with Nile Rogers and spat on MTV’s ignoring of black music at its own peril.

If I may, I wish to add a bit of my own experience discovering Bowie in the 1970s and beyond. My favorite Bowie album without question is Hunky Dory, because pound for pound it has his best songwriting, a skill for which he is stunningly underrated. It would also, I would come to find out, specifically from Peter Doggett’s wonderful The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s and my friend, Ken Sharp’s Kooks, Queen Bitches and Andy Warhol; The Making of David Bowie’s Hunky Dory mark the first time Bowie forged a new identify, that of the “screwed-up eyes and screwed-down hairdo” – the quirky phrasing and the William Burroughs cut-up lyrics that hinted at Fascism and bisexuality and sophism and the indefinable charm of hiding; “Ch-ch-ch-changes…”

“Rock must prostitute itself. If you’re going to work in a whorehouse, you’d better be the best whore in it.”

When Bowie escaped America in the late 1970s barely hanging onto any of his contrasting identities, strung out on cocaine and running wild through the pitched dangers of Hollywood, he mused about his seduction with suicide as an artistic statement, wiping out his persona so as to not have to face the inevitable fade into banality, and then he created his finest work with Brian Eno and finished up the decade awash in myth.

I leave this piece in the hands of another friend, Doctor Slater, whose screeds on all-things at all hours of the day and night hit me in the special places every time. He wrote to me last night of Bowie: “The particular brand of poison I’m partial to has left me agog as to this Mr. David Robert Jones. Davy Jones, that’s probably a contemporary I would want to distance myself from, product of the TV scene. What name do I choose? A big fucking threatening knife, yes, that is to be my new last name. Bowie. He sold himself as a bond. He’s featured on money, and alternative currency called the Brixton Pound. Like Benjamin Franklin. And from the 80s’ comes the reinvented Duke. Asking us to get along, long before the cops beat the shit out of Rodney King. From the Spiders of Mars to Getting me To Church on Time, the man knew how to surf. He predicted the collapse of the music industry. Fuck that puff dicking around with the Yanks in the California sand, I’ll show the world what a proper English lad can do. Mind your manners young ones.”

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GUNS: MONEY, POLITICS & HYPERBOLE

Aquarian Weekly

1/13/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

GUNS: MONEY, POLITICS & HYPERBOLE

If my December 9 column, MASS SHOOTING IN SAN BERNADINO, or as it is better known among the faithful, “Blah, blah, blah…” is any indication, I, nor anyone else have anything new or particularly salient to say about guns and violence in this country. I have written at least fifty or more columns since 1997 detailing basic human nature, the price and sacrifice relative freedom puts upon its citizenry, and the sordid history of this nation, and so there will be nothing in here approaching the cause or half-baked swipe at solutions to the inordinate amount of guns we enjoy or the misuse of said guns.Executive Vice President of the NRA LaPierre holds a 300 Remington Ultra Mag that was auctioned off after he gave the keynote address at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah

What we will discuss now, in the wake of our president’s recent emotional speech at the White House and live CNN town hall, and finally, and more importantly, his executive actions to curtail the mass shootings and illegal and surreptitious flow of weapons throughout the United States, is the way in which the specter of all this is good business in several corners of our society.

I see this issue as nothing more than a pathetic off-shoot of Prohibition or the woeful failure of the War on Drugs or any other debate on the symptoms of our nature.

Staying with Barack Obama for a moment; the notion that this president is not a big fan of guns is not some kind of myth, like his Islamic leanings or his country of origin or the completely outlandish notion that what may be the most Wall Street-friendly president since Herbert Hoover is some kind of closet socialist. With an accommodating congress, I do believe there would be stricter gun laws under this president. Now, some progressives may argue that this did not occur despite two years of a Democratic-controlled legislature, but I counter with a fairly sizable economic stimulus package, an unprecedented auto-industry bail-out, and the Affordable Care Act taking up the lion’s share of progressive agenda. And even though this general disdain for the gun fetish does not immediately roll over into the narrative that Obama has a secret plan to take anyone’s guns away, (we’ll get to that line of bullshit later), it is real and must be included in any analysis of the issue.

So, if Obama wishes to try and appear neutral here, it is silly and false. His previous words, actions, and his not-so-subtle notions that federal intervention on the gun issue are well documented. When he denies it, I cringe. He is not being the least bit honest and that’s okay, for if he were honest an already manically paranoid segment of the electorate would go further off the deep end.

This obvious anti-gun stance or at very least misunderstanding of the excitably fervent pro-gun contingent appears to be a real threat to those who do not wish to budge on any infringement on the Second Amendment, even though very few who argue this know anything about the Second Amendment. I cannot say I do not hold a similar if not militant defense of the First Amendment, as I have spent my adult life openly fighting against any sort of systemic censorship; banned books, jailed comedians, movie ratings, music-warning stickers, over-reach by an un-elected FCC or Christian robots robbing me of my right to free expression and to absorb others is my myopic passion. So, I get it.

And although I rate Obama’s recent White House speech on a measured approach to increasing background checks and closing gun-show loopholes as a minor but at least positive step in perhaps toning down the nearly 30,000 gun-related deaths in this country as one of his best, it is a spit in the wind. And I am not going out on a limb to guess that he knows this by his repeated mention that if he can save one life he is pleased. So of course you applaud a president in approaching this rare level of political bravery (although this is less heroic in the face of his being a lame duck with no other elections to win like his “evolving” on a civil rights issue for marriage equality in his 50s’), because behind Social Security, the American gun owner is our political third-rail. However, this may appease the nine out of ten Americans who support stricter gun laws and even the eight out of ten Republicans not strangled by the NRA gun lobby who agree, it is not a real solution, and so I scoff.

You see, despite the fact that it appears every five seconds someone kills someone else with a gun, and that virulent police activity has gone goofy, violent crimes in this country, including gun-related, have been reduced considerably in the last half-century. According to FBI reports, “The number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly to the lowest rate in nearly 40 years. In all regions, the country appears to be safer. The odds of being murdered or robbed are now less than half of what they were in the early 1990s, when violent crime peaked in the United States. Small towns, especially, are seeing far fewer murders: In cities with populations under 10,000, the number has plunged by more than 25 percent.”

So this latest maneuver by Obama is pure politics; sloppy and unhinged, but it pales in comparison to the NRA, who have a fail-safe measure to cash in on tragedy and mayhem like no other time in its existence.

The NRA has used its own perpetuating myth of Obama’s scourge on gun owners (by in large gun laws have widely expanded during his administration) by ramping up sales due to the pending idea that if one does not stock up, one will be without. Every time the president has merely mentioned guns in a speech the NRA sends out email blasts and unleashes its executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre on television to rally more sales. It is brilliant, Madison Avenue type propaganda, which I applaud from a purely business standpoint, but it is hogwash, and LaPiere knows it.

LaPiere and the NRA do not care about guns rights or the Second Amendment. They care about serving their gun manufacturing masters by selling as many guns as possible.

The reason why I am sure of this is simply because he is adamant in applying guns to every measure of incident, weather terrorist or government overreach or mini-militia or you name it. You don’t get to be vice president of anything, especially a group funded for and manipulated by the gun industry, without seizing an opportunity to sell, sell, sell. As much as Obama jumps aboard every mass shooting as if an opportunity to squeeze political sympathy towards his cause, the NRA, led in public relations by LaPiere, brings up the insane idea that by buying more guns and thus arming everyone in sight that these random shootings will be abridged – as if people would come to Christmas parties armed to the teeth or kindergarten children packing, or any person generally minding their own business who are gunned down by a psycho because mommy didn’t love them or the Lithium is too expensive can be averted by buying lots of guns.

This whole thing is a con.

this latest maneuver by Obama is pure politics; sloppy and unhinged, but it pales in comparison to the NRA, who have a fail-safe measure to cash in on tragedy and mayhem like no other time in its existence.

Small leans on gun laws or people buying more guns will do nothing to stop or even restrict the very thing that prompts these “debates” (by this we mean opportunities to con), period.

It is a con.

We are being conned from both ends.

Accept this premise, and then perhaps we can secure our own responsibility in this.

Not before.

For that angle, please refer to the 50 previous columns I’ve written.

Blah, blah, blah…

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IN DEFENSE OF EBENEZER SCROOGE

Aquarian Weekly
12/23/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

IN DEFENSE OF EBENEZER SCROOGE
A Christmas Plea For Leniency For A Misunderstood Freethinking Capitalist

Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.
– Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

’Tis the season for forgiveness and empathy; which works both ways, bub. Caring for the less fortunate, giving to those in emotional need, understanding those who may be ostracized and forlorn; these are the sentiments I wish to bestow upon one of the most despised characters in the English language, the brilliantly named Ebenezer Scrooge from the master Charles Dickens’ seasonal-standard 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol.

I maintain, if the jury would allow, that Scrooge, while being obstinate and crotchety, mostly rude and myopic, is hardly a villain and does not deserve the kind of black mark rendered upon him next to some of the most vile of literature’s rogues, like say, Louis Stevenson’s Mr. Hyde, Shakespeare’s Claudius, Stoker’s Dracula or even Milton’s Satan.

Sheesh, Satan?

scrooge1

We have here a psychopathic monster, the greatest villain in English literature, the king of vampires, and Satan.

Satan.

I read an essay two years ago, and the author escapes me, but he compared Scrooge to Grendel from the epic one-thousand year old poem, Beowulf, the original monster introduced to the language. The argument if I can paraphrase had the similarities of loneliness, isolation, abandonment, mommy issues, etc. This is lazy and presumptuous analysis since, of course, these fill all manner of villain back story from Dr. Moriarty to the Wicked Witch of the West to the Grinch to the Joker.

Grendel?

Murderer? Monster? Villain?

What exactly are Ebenezer Scrooge’s crimes?

He hates Christmas? He is cheap? He does not care about anyone, not even himself?

How about he refuses to partake in a phony celebration of humanity in a glaringly inhuman urban setting of blight and disease, poverty and despair, or in other words 19th century London? This crushing economic nightmare has strangled anything resembling a middle class and has led to a reality of paranoia and hording and a sense that if one does not hang onto one’s meager possessions, one is likely to become a freezing, homeless carcass.

Scrooge, as the novel tells us right off the bat, works in finance, lending finance to be exact, and is faced day after day with his and the next generation’s dwindling largesse, seeing his friends and colleagues, once prosperous men of business, reduced to begging, borrowing cretins for whom he must prop up with no manner of end. And so he treats his clients and his employee, the terminally optimistic Bob Cratchit with a sense of dread well earned. Cratchit wants to put more coal on the fire. He is cold. Scrooge is adamant that to waste it is a sin. In these times he finds himself, with so much evidence of doom, Scrooge is nothing but pragmatic. He treats his family and his associates with equal caution, rightly bursting their fantasy bubble that “all will be well”, because there is no reason for such gaiety on December 24 or July 10 or frankly anytime on the calendar.

If anything Scrooge appears to be – and I believe it has since been sussed out that this was Dickens’ aim – a microcosm for the era. Scrooge, like all of Dickens’ characters is a victim of his age. His reaction to this is not charity, but survival; the basic human response to crisis. This is Victorian England at the crossroads, as Dickens had painfully and vividly unfurled in some of his most striking polemics (Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby) against the untenable Industrial Revolution – its progress obliterating the working class and replacing it with greed, antipathy, pollution, and unchecked power.

However, perhaps it is what Scrooge’s environment has done to him physically that allows Dickens to begin to riff with glee; the manifestation of avarice and the pursuit of soulless profits from faceless factories that not only operate beyond human frailty, but in spite of it. It is the inhumanity towards humanity that fuels A Christmas Carol, which transforms Scrooge into a twisted creature.

To wit: “Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind- stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dogdays; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.”

These external features, while rendering Scrooge a physical wreck like, say, eating poorly or incessant smoking and drinking can alter a person’s outward appearance, are merely self-inflicted. I applaud Scrooge’s internalizing of his loathing of a system he did not create but that created him. He does not go out and shoot anyone or go on a murderous spree, or steal from or destroy his competition. He does not start a movement to defend the blatantly cold and anti-Christian machinations of capitalism or use that power to manipulate an already corrupt system. If anything, he means to protect and enhance his dearly departed partner Jacob Marley’s legacy by not giving into sentiment in a time of grave economic and social dangers, not to mention disease and crime.

Beside Marley, Scrooge has another man for whom he must pay homage in A Christmas Carol; his once gregarious boss, Fezziwig (another fantastic name that paints a picture of a preternaturally gleeful and foppish English businessman) introduced to readers during the visitation of the first of the three promised ghosts by the apparition of his fallen friend. Fezziwig hosts a grand party for his employees, something completely alien in Scrooge’s current times, sharing his wealth and laughing in the face of the oncoming economic deluge, which will cause him to be swallowed up by the industrial cabal that will also gobble up his earnings, absorb his beloved business, and cause him ruin. This indeed is a cautionary tale, and not that of the heart, but the stomach that will soon be empty if one tosses away his fortune on fun, frolic and the frivolity of Christmas.

Also, if I may, I think that Scrooge’s infamous blurting of “Humbug!” at the mention of the holiday is quite enviable. He will not give into banal social niceties at a time of utter predatory corruption. His honesty, even in the face of self-denial (which I can surely argue is an unwavering self-awareness), is extraordinary. Everyone tries to get this guy to lighten up, and, ironically, most of them represent Scrooge’s fears; they are broke and in dire need of assistance, as they can no longer provide for themselves. Why in the name of all that is holy would Bob Cratchit have six children in this economic apocalypse and then complain that he cannot feed or clothe them properly? And why is this dubious at best and immoral at worst behavior Scrooge’s problem, or his problem that the sixth of the brood is a sickly boy? Maybe Cratchit should have stopped at five or maybe four or two or even one. The man is clearly insane or sexually insatiable and is quite frankly lucky to have a gig. He should have worked on Christmas or at least kept it in his pants.

The key discussion that drives the rest of the novel’s narrative occurs right before Scrooge calls it a night and before being haunted mercilessly by having to view himself as an abandoned child, a jilted lover, a miserable miser and a forgotten and despised dead man standing above his shallow grave. It involved men seeking Scrooge’s charity, despite knowing well that such a request will send him up a wall. When pressed for his sympathies, Scrooge answers with the query that haunts humanity time immemorial; “`It’s not my business,’ Scrooge returned. `It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!’”

Why in the name of all that is holy would Bob Cratchit have six children in this economic apocalypse and then complain that he cannot feed or clothe them properly?

And so when our former villain protagonist becomes our newly reborn hero, “cured” as it were by the ghosts of his past, present and future, and begins forgiving debts and throwing his money around like a drunken sailor, we rejoice. He is filled with the Christmas spirit! Yahoo!

And then what?

For all of his days, writes Dickens assuredly, he would “keep Christmas”. But how many more of those did he have before he was faced with the same horrors of reality he once embraced over a philosophy of sudden philanthropy? What then becomes of our Scrooge?

Not sure. But I know this, each year we relive this tale (my Dad has a running tradition of sitting down near midnight on Christmas Eve each year to enjoy the 1951 Alastair Sim version, and in the autumn of 2008 I even purchased him a copy at Dickens’ London house where he wrote the thing in an amazing six weeks) and Scrooge becomes our miser villain once more before plunging into the vortex of his psyche and coming out the other side a man who he would never recognize and his times would likely swallow up hole.

I forgive you, Mr. Scrooge, and so should we all.

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UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY OF TWO MILLENNIA

Aquarian Weekly
12/16/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY OF TWO MILLENNIA
In Praise of The Christos Mosaic

Full disclosure; author Vincent Czyz is a dear friend and a frequent contributor to our monthly Readers Responses. Among his many qualities; he is a wonderful conversationalist and debater on all things, a fine dinner guest and an impeccable dresser. We have supported each other’s work for over a decade now (that is hard to believe); he as a purveyor of fiction and a novelist, mine as whatever you call this, as well as an author and one-time novelist. I like Vincent. This much is true. But I absolutely love his new book, The Christos Mosaic, a page-turning masterpiece of a thriller with more than an undertone of controversial reimagining of Biblical history. It will challenge your beliefs and keep you on the edge of your seat; a pretty damn enviable balancing act.jc_vc

It is strange for us to have books published within a few weeks of each other, mine a pop culture treatise on one of the seminal records of our childhood, Shout It Out Loud –The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon, and his long-awaited entertaining polemic on the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth and the sinister underbelly of black market antiquities throughout the backstreets of Turkey and Egypt. We celebrated this welcomed anomaly at the historical Algonquin Round Table last month in the heart of NYC. It was a magical touchstone for me, and I dare say, for him. Vincent worked hard on this book for more years than he cares to remember and it is quite simply a triumph.

Having researched and penned a controversial book on the subject, released in 2002, Trailing Jesus – A Holyland Journal, and since have engaged my wit and wisdom against Vince’s considerable barrage of wonderfully buttressed factoids about First Century myths and the origins of Christianity, I looked forward to The Christos Mosaic with bated breath. This, I assumed, and rightly so, would be the culmination of my friend’s incredible journey, both personally and professionally – and certainly spiritually – to put down once and for all the inner conflict of the intellectual pursuit of truth versus the comfortable blanket of faith. I came to know that journey well. It is a difficult one for anyone, let alone a writer to make, and then dare to put down for posterity; but to do so in the engagingly penetrating novel form – replete with action, intrigue, sex, violence, and mystery – is as immense an effort as one can expect from art.

Vincent lived in Istanbul, Turkey off and on for seven years, teaching English at several foreign universities as a burgeoning novelist, much like his protagonist and the novel’s hero, as well as its moral center, Drew. But when pressed at our Algonquin dinner if the character was autobiographical, he demurred, assuring me Drew was indeed a work of complete fiction, and in fact the characters in Christos were more fictionalized than any of his other work, which includes the published collection of brilliantly evocative short stories, Adrift in A Vanishing City. However, like the places and characters that stimulate Adrift, Christos puts the reader on Istanbul’s every street corner – the cafés, bars and apartments – awash in the sights, sounds and even the smells of the city, and the colorful language and mannerisms of its inhabitants. (Vincent even went as far as providing English phonetics to bring the reader into the pronunciation of the Turkish language that lends an authentic air to the richly rewarding dialogue).

Here is one of many favorite passages of Christos in which Vincent puts the reader squarely inside the claustrophobic bustle of Cairo’s largest marketplace, Khan Al-Khalili: “Tourists, merchants, boys carrying trays of tea in their hands or long pallets stacked with round loaves of bread on their heads all fought for position in dusty, often- unpaved streets. With some of these narrow byways, a car was not an option. Sellers had set up their tables so that even pedestrians had to pick their way through.

They were stuck behind a man in a turban who was pushing a cart with wooden wheels. The cart was topped by a wood-fed oven with a tall pipe. The man, who was having difficulty maneuvering around tables piled with wares, was selling roasted yams.

And then there were the flies. Smaller, faster than the ones Drew was used to. They were everywhere. You could wave them away, but they’d settle right back on you – generally around your eyes and mouth drawn to the moisture.”

This is the tool Vincent uses so well to weave his stirring tale; the backdrop, the people; the grimy, pulsing humanity. It engulfs our hero, Drew. He must navigate through the density of his surroundings, the recalcitrance of his intellectual opponents, and the villainy of those who value profit over discovery and myth over truth.

Drew is a seeker, like Vincent. He is the seeker in all of us, who must grapple, frustratingly so, as the evolution of deduction gnaws at the comfort of our traditions. Not coincidentally, Drew is introduced in the novel as a precocious college student challenging the norm and using his literate skills to eviscerate what is accepted knowledge about the beloved and reverential Saint Augustine, providing the reader with the intellectual corner in which Drew will come out fighting and keep fighting throughout his adventure, even when the noose is tightened on an ancient but unfolding mystery.

And the unraveling of that mystery, some two-thousand millennia long, is both shocking and inspiring, not unlike my favorite of the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas quotations attributed to the historical Jesus; “Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all.”

He is the seeker in all of us, who must grapple, frustratingly so, as the evolution of deduction gnaws at the comfort of our traditions.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the arguments presented through the evidence discovered, hinted at, debated over, and eventually unearthed in Christos are not hyperbolic and provocative merely to play on our most deeply held beliefs for dramatic purposes. They are carefully presented through painstaking research and sound analysis without embellishment. It really is hard to fathom how Vincent crammed all of it in, but he did, and he did it well.

Ultimately what my dear friend has created here in The Christos Mosaic is more than a novel; it is an impeccably framed thriller that will hopefully spark new discussions and provide insight into the future of Christian thought and study for the new century.

It was also one hell of a fun read.

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MASS SHOOTING IN SAN BERNADINO

Aquarian Weekly
12/9/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

MASS SHOOTING IN SAN BERNADINO

Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Blah. Blah blah blah,blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah Blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

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BLAH BLAH BLAH! BLAH BLAH BLAH!

Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah Blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blh blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah Blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah Blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah Blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blh blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah Blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah Blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah Blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blh blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah Blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah Blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

BLAH BLAH BLAH! BLAH BLAH BLAH!

Blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah.

Blah.

Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah Blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blh blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah Blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah Blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah, blah blah?

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