2010 U.S. Allies Run Amok

Aquarian Weekly 4/14/10 REALITY CHECK

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE…

Rumors of Afghani President Hamid Karzai’s drug use in the wake of his inflammatory anti-American comments are highly suspect. While it is true that Karzai has an insatiable appetite for chewing pure hashish bricks, it would be hard to tie this activity to the insane gibberish he decided to announce to his people after meeting with the president of the United States two weeks ago. Drugs are merely an excuse for being a self-destructive asshole. Stating that the U.S. fixed an election he won and that its armies, which now keep him from being executed, must leave or he will join those who aim to execute him is the talk of an idiot, not a hash fiend.

Hamid KarzaiKarzai suffers less from drug abuse than politics. He is a politician, and as such, must play to his base, which consists of religious lunatics with an irrational hatred of western values or some such voodoo bullshit. Moreover, many of these constituents see Karzai as an American stooge. He must turn this around quickly, faced with a looming deadline in which the crucial U.S. presence in that lunatic asylum ends.

Karzai’s loose-canon babbling matters little, since his days are numbered. Anyone with any grasp of Middle East political savvy has given him less than a week to live the minute the last marine leaves. What does matter is that Karzai is just one of several U.S. allies continuing to act smugly in the face of our generosity and military sacrifice. At least Karzai has the balls to be a two-faced conniver, unlike the last president of his former neighbor, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who kissed America’s ass for years after 9/11 to hide the embezzling of millions of U.S. tax dollars.

Musharraf and Karzai are symptoms of this antiquated U.S. foreign policy that was rightfully born during the Second World War but continued haphazardly during the Cold War; this penchant to capture the hearts and minds of nations through force, executions, and coups to better promote democracy and freedom throughout the world to the point of military disaster and near bankruptcy.

The tribal kill-tank that is today’s Afghanistan is an unfortunate offshoot of America’s secret war to kick the Soviets out in the 1980s, which was left to disintegrate into chaos once the job was complete. Another fine example of the U.S. spending blood and treasure to correct its original foreign policy catastrophe.

For an even more pertinent model, check out Iraq. As stated ad nauseum in this space for years, despite naive drivel that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11; if the first George Bush didn’t play war hero in Kuwait, there would have been no U.S. military presence on “holy ground” and al Qaeda would not have had a prime source for causing the kind of havoc it did in the 1990s, which lead inevitably to the horrors of 9/11.

These are tough economic times. Extravagances like being responsible for the survival of an ungrateful and obstinate pack of morons must be addressed.

The worst part of the whole Afghanistan/Iraq goofiness is the United States did not get the proposed stranglehold on oil riches after decades of playing half-baked neo-con dunderheaded international three-card monte with half the region.

Then we have the always-intriguing call for democracy in Palestine, which was made manifest in open elections wherein the people chose a world-class terrorist outfit. Not to mention it is perfectly legal for citizens of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, two main allies we liberated and protected, to openly donate funds to al Qaeda.

But the Arabs are only half the problem here.

Nowhere in the Fourth Estate is there a more pro-Israel stance than exhibited in this space. It has raged for years about its sovereignty and applauded its military brilliance, but this latest nonsense with that strutting ass, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over treaty-busting settlements in the Gaza Strip, summarily shoved in the face of the American vice president in March, is as sad as it is suicidal. Without U.S. weapons and mounds of cash, Israel would have been a smoldering heap by 1978.

Netanyahu is the prize thoroughbred in the smirking stable of American lackeys that operate under the delusion they have control over their fate. It started in the spring of 1996, which happened to be the month I spent in Israel. I was in country when Netanyahu had three hyperbolic-laden debates with then Prime Minister Simon Perez and then on Election Day, when he acted as if he’d conquered Europe. Netanyahu’s militaristic, right wing nationalism is cute, but exists in his own fantasy. He is a puppet of the United States, as every one of his predecessors has been (of which he is one, having been ousted in ’99 before returning in late 2005) and his successors will be.

It’s just the way it is, jack:

No America, no Israel.

Netanyahu’s demand for the United States to stay out of Israel’s business is akin to crazy people waving signs at Tea Party rallies to keep the government off their Medicare.

It is time to face the hard truth: Nation building, like Liberalism and Conservatism, is a failed American philosophy, which for some strange reason seems to go on unchecked.

But the American tradition of repeating mistakes aside, there is a tried-and-true American staple that is currently misguided: anger.

As Americans go loony over a tepid National Health Care Reform Law their government spends billions a year to prop up the damaged social construct of sanctimonious blowhards and backstabbing narcissists half a planet away. Not to mention our kids losing limbs and lives over this miserable shit.

Under this kind of geo-political meandering you would think the United States would have stopped the Congo War by now, which has claimed over five and a half million lives since 2001. Maybe we’d stop doing business with China, which is an abject civil liberties joke. Perhaps we might consider storming the Vatican and eradicating the systematic raping of children?

In January of 2003, this space called it Selective Heroism; all that talk about Axis of Evil was stupid and expensive. It didn’t work in Viet Nam or any of the ensuing meddling.

These are tough economic times. Extravagances like being responsible for the survival of an ungrateful and obstinate pack of morons must be addressed.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

Health Care U.S.A.

Aquarian Weekly 3/24/10 REALITY CHECK

HEALTH CARE U.S.A.A Half-Century of Fear, Morality, Lobbying, and Defeat Gets Its Vote

One thing I can say about this Barack Obama guy, he kicks my cynical ass every time. No way an African-American, liberal, neophyte can even show up to a fight with the Clinton machine, much less defeat it for a shot at the most powerful post in the land. Really? No way this guy can turn around and beat a white, right-wing military veteran in a mostly center-right and still annoyingly xenophobic nation. No? And there is no way in my lifetime there will ever be any sort of national health care reform, never mind a single piece of significant sweeping social legislation with the kind of national debt, unemployment and rabid anti-government fervor throughout the land. Guess what?

Obamacare  In a few days from the writing of these words, there could be an actual passing of a bill through congress that will in some way ultimately affect — one side argues completely, the other slightly –17 percent of the United States economy. Agree, disagree, whoop it up or gnash your teeth, this is a big one. As far as presidents and history go, a really big one; politically, socially, and perhaps even indefinably.

If you think fourteen months of hemming, hawing, pushing, lying, paying-off, manipulating, decrying, backstabbing, protesting, more lying, and normal, ugly democratic silliness, then try over fifty years of it. This is how long this country and its elected officials, mainly Democrats with the notable exception of Richard Nixon, have attempted in some way shape or form to tackle the enormous and in many ways unwieldy United States health care system.

Harry Truman, in the wake of an age of big foreign military triumphs and HUGE government reforms, coupled with the last gasp of overwhelming trust in the nation’s political system, could not do it. Neither could it be accomplished by the otherwise domestically effective Lyndon Johnson, the last chief executive to work with the legislative branch to this mass degree. The aforementioned Nixon gave it a go, but stalled. And the last guy to make it a political clarion call armed with a predominantly Democratic congress, William Jefferson Clinton, mucked it up. Not this guy. It looks like this guy is going to pull it off.

Not since LBJ’s Great Society and the Civil Rights bill has a president asked his party to fall on a sword for a vote. In 1964, Johnson, a dyed in the wool Southern Democrat from the old-school, asked similar Southern Democrats representing racist counties all through the South to cast a vote that assured the extinguishing of their profession. It was filibustered and argued and threatened as tyranny then, as this bill is facing now, on the grounds of state sovereignty and other fair and salient legal and constitutional arguments. But the Civil Rights bill and the martyrs from both sides of the aisle were on the side of not just a moral argument, but a Bill of Rights one.

This time, however, there is no bi-partisan effort nor is there any more than a hazy ideological divide on what is exactly moral; allowing millions of Americans in the world’s richest nation to go without some kind of health care or the stringent idea that it is something of a gained privilege to be able to afford to see a doctor if one is ill. And then there is the fall-out; simple human nature to inevitably abuse such programs, wherein an entitlement becomes just another teat for the unfortunate or even lazy to suck dry at the expense of the always-burdened middle class.

When something needs to be done, we’re warring and banning and throwing money and political rhetoric around as if the very structure of existence depended on it, or we do absolutely nothing. It’s an either-or game we play with everything.

And how far to go? This is always the quarrel, whether it’s the extent and expanse of the unregulated business monopolies or creating massive government entitlements to curtail the damages of an historic economic meltdown. Sure we need to fight the Commies, but at what cost, for how long, and how many lives are sacrificed for how many screw-ups? Sure, let’s federalize the banks, create a national highway system, or how about crush one half of the American economy at the end of the gun because slavery is immoral. Maybe all these restructures could have been piecemealed, brought along slowly to see what happens, but that’s not the American way. It never has been.

When something needs to be done, we’re warring and banning and throwing money and political rhetoric around as if the very structure of existence depended on it, or we do absolutely nothing. It’s an either-or game we play with everything. What is also the American way is to water down what is left of the original intent of a progressive all-consuming government-controlled, single-payer pool, as practiced by Great Britain and Canada and other smaller, less diverse nations, to twist in the most convoluted way as to not be estimable by the most learned among us.

This is how things get done and have been done since those who came before us made it up and then amended it, and still there are the exceptions, like when two presidential candidates are battling out an election in the courts and one is handed the job and the rest complain that its illegitimate, but it’s really not, it’s just the way it goes.

And that’s history in a nutshell, from war and peace to bill-making and ballot-counting.; petty, underhanded, spiteful, and mainly jerky. It is simple math: The majority of the vote sends those to their gig and they do what they will, and if it doesn’t sit right after a period of time, they go bye-bye. In November of 2008, the United States elected Barack Obama and a boatload of Democrats. You would have to assume people, even those who use the Daily Show and Glenn Beck as their news sources, understand the ramifications of this maneuver. You’re going to get government stuff. Just as you know when you elect Oil Men, you’re going to get crazy wars for oil.

Still, it is hard to fathom its come this close, and if a Health Care Reform Bill becomes law this week than this is what the Barack Obama administration will take into history as its legacy. Nothing done from here on in, barring another in an endless series of pointless wars will be as significant for good or ill.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

TEA Party Fun

Aquarian Weekly 3/17/10 REALITY CHECK

THE CURIOUS CASE OF “THE AL QAEDA 7”Defining the Enemy in the Age of Hypocrisy

Here we go again; more political agenda masquerading as public outrage with cheaply framed ham-fisted watchdog techniques. As boring and antiquated as James Madison’s smear campaign against John Adams during the 1800 presidential campaign against his boss, Thomas Jefferson, its methods reek of American tradition, often misunderstood in its time by neophytes and professional chicken littles as uncharted calamitous abuse of power, treason and other grade-school malarkey passed off as editorial comment.

Keep America SafeThis week another in the long line of innocuous watchdog groups, made legitimate merely by its Internet presence, decided to take on the Justice Department for its failure to release all nine names of lawyers hired by the federal government despite their history of defending members of al Qaeda, in so doing ostensibly putting into question their patriotic loyalty. An ad run on YOUTUBE by Keep America Safe, founded by so-called journalist and full-time whiner, William Krystal and the unfortunate offspring of the polluted Cheney genes named Liz, strongly suggested a cover-up, neatly dubbed The Al Qaeda 7.

Ignoring the fact that these idiots vehemently defended the first president to suffer a significant attack on two major American cities by foreign intruders since the War of 1812, Keep American Safe has every right to besmirch the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder by calling into question the legitimacy of its federal employees. Its members and founders are American citizens, and as such pay their salaries. They deserve, as we all do, the transparency of our government, its agendas, and its effect on its citizenry. Transparency or bust! I get it.

The problems with this half-assed ad hominem attack begin to emerge when you consider the fact that just four short years ago the KAS founders argued tooth-and-nail the right for then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to dismiss over two dozen federal attorneys on political and not performance grounds. And when pressed on the issue of the highly unconstitutional Patriot Act, run rather illegally by the very same Justice Department they are now criticizing, with its fancy spying on American citizens, again, a stringent defense on the grounds of, get this, national security.

Whew, the hypocrisy meter just busted. Let’s pause to adjust the sucker and continue if we can keep the laughter to a minimum.

All of a sudden transparency is tantamount, whereas before it was something close to treason to suggest the government tell us what the hell it’s doing. Nifty.

All of a sudden transparency is tantamount, whereas before it was something close to treason to suggest the government tell us what the hell it’s doing. Nifty.

Oh, and by the way, it is important to point out at this juncture in the rant that anyone can and has uncovered the names of these lawyers merely by surfing the Web.

And lest we forget the steaming pile of hypocrisy offered up by the other side, we now have scores of liberals up in arms that anyone, never mind conservative axe-grinders, dare question the integrity of the Justice Department, which was rightfully battered for years during the scarred Nixon and Reagan administrations.

Questionable backgrounds of lawyers? Shit, this is tidily winks for the Justice Department, the home of the most heinous rogues to ever chair a position of power in the guise of law enforcement, offering a gaggle of attorney generals so completely undaunted by such nonsense as constitutional rule their names and deeds echo terror in the hearts of those unlucky to remember.

In my lifetime alone we have the president’s little brother, Bobby Kennedy, who not only sat on the assistant counsel of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations under the drunken monster that was Joseph McCarthy, but also had the audacity to take the mob to task after its machinations put him and big bro in power in the first place. Then there is the always hilarious lying to the Soviets about the removal of U.S. missiles in Turkey whilst the entire eastern seaboard of the United States stood in peril. Oh, and who can forget the always fun-loving John Mitchell, who not only fought to enforce civil rights laws in the South and sought conspiracy charges against protestors of the Viet Nam War, but also merrily bankrolled Dick Nixon’s multi-million dollar domestic spying, smear and surveillance schemes before being shuffled off to prison.

Why stop there?

The legend that is Edwin Meese III, whose murderously ill-conceived crackdown on student protestors in Berkeley as then Governor Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff made him the perfect dupe for the bungling crimes of Iran-Contra, which only succeeded his unlocking the door for the social conservative movement that summarily wrecked the Republican Party and allowed a bunch of voodoo men to gain power over the ensuing decades.

And there’s barely any space left to discuss Janet Reno’s massacre of lunatics in Waco, Texas with a war-time arsenal of tanks and bombs, John Ashcroft’s post-9/11 use of the FBI as some weirdly formed Gestapo with a questionably legal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the sacked Operation TIPS that is so incredibly criminal it is far too complicated to detail here.

Business as usual.

Then there is the question of why any member of a terrorist cabal, especially a non-citizen, has a right to an attorney under U.S. law, which this space has already weighed in on more than once. To summarize: Anyone with a lust for martyrdom fueled by religious fantasy to destroy property, life and limb, has — to any reasonable estimation –officially checked out of society anyway, U.S. or otherwise. Fuck them.

But the thing is we can’t really “fuck them”, because whether Left or Right, America must stand for a rule of law or we as a nation, as a people, would be no more civilized than the bleating scum who aim to tear us down. Even if these wretched sons of excrement were tried in a military court, which some argue is better than a civil setting, representation must be provided, and assuming these attorneys are American citizens, they would have to be present. Does this make them terrorists? Does it make them sympathize with terrorists?

You see, Keep America Safe is just another “group” that has to find another “group” to paint with a broad brush as “evil” or “wrong” to justify the standing of their group, just as John Adams’s enemies painted him as a backstabbing Tory for his defense of British soldiers following the infamous Boston Massacre, perhaps the one incident that cemented in the minds of the colonists a spark of revolution; a revolution, mind you, championed as no other by Mr. Adams.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

Health Care Summit?

Aquarian Weekly 3/3/10 REALITY CHECK

HEALTH CARE SUMMIT? Death Rattle With Suits

The forty-fourth president of the United States appears to be as possessed by a doomed agenda as the last one. Maybe at this point Barack Obama has no choice. It has now been over a year and there is still no National Health Care Reform Law, only a massively incoherent pile of legislation that now only a minority of Americans want and less understand, a Democratic Party if not split, certainly splintered over, and a Republican opposition that despite hundreds of its amendments added to the thing, continue to rail against it for political leverage.

Before The StormIf the 2/25 Health Care Summit between lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle chaired by the chief executive displayed anything, its that whatever remains of the National Health Care debate is merely a death rattle, some distant bugle call over a bloody and silent battle field.

For the most part, the crazy talk was over. It was lawmakers doing what lawmakers do, muddy the facts and refute the rebukes. Over seven or so hours of speeches and debate, boring presentations of facts and figures, and the obligatory spate of pointless drivel, there remained the same conclusion as when it began; the current Senate version of Health Care Reform is vehemently opposed by every Republican, hardly endorsed by moderate Democrats, and barely a boon for Liberal ones.

What began in spirit as a negotiation continued in a series of disjointed debates. And as hard as the president pained to keep it civil and above-board, many on his side and the other reduced it to talking points and posturing. There was serious points made, but just as many derided. So, as my beloved maternal grandmother, Carmella Martignetti, the great political philosopher of the twentieth century once mused; “It is over, but it doesn’t know enough to lie down.”

For his part, the president revealed a side to him that I once believed, and to a lessoning extent still believe is his strongest asset, the ability to rise above the fray, beyond mere politics and generation, someone who is not tainted by Boomer angst and old-line rhetoric. It is a side that was rarely seen during his first tumultuous year, wherein this massive undertaking of national legislation which makes up roughly 17 percent of the federal budget was not enough to send him to the Hill but once. This legacy-making moment came and went, came again and then went again, with a steely resolve and almost robotic detachment.

Only one speech given at a special assembly of congress last year, arguably Obama’s only effective oratory to date, could begin to budge events, but even that was not enough. Bringing us to yesterday’s performance, which was even and presidential, a true display of leadership, and not in that phony, affected way you might have seen by pros like Reagan or Clinton, but more down and dirty with a bit more polish than the “everyman” version utilized by the last guy. An objective observer, if there is such an animal anymore, would have to admit to its courageous outreach and balanced effort to determine the agreements, differences and spaces between both when coming to difficult conclusions about a major overhaul in federal legislation.

But what was the point really?

An objective observer, if there is such an animal anymore, would have to admit to its courageous outreach and balanced effort to determine the agreements, differences and spaces between both when coming to difficult conclusions about a major overhaul in federal legislation.

Firstly, it is far too late. This should have been done, as clearly and concisely with a trust in the electorate to comprehend, from the very beginning, rather than the lofty presentations and bully-tactics that ushered it in and pushed it through. But most importantly, there is no time, never mind the four-to-six week psuedo-deadline given by the president at summit’s end, to cobble together four or five or ten disparate philosophies over spending, the extent of government involvement, regulatory ceilings and floors, and the stemming of insurance and dictatorial fraud both in the private and government levels.

The next and only step for this president and his Democratic majority is to turn to Reconciliation, an oft-used process of avoiding a filibuster threat with a mere majority of fifty-one votes over the required sixty that is always vilified by the opposition until it gains power. It is pure democratic politics, as the law allows. Democrats and Republicans alike have used it to great effect, most dramatically with the infamous Contract With America in the mid-nineties. There is nothing to deride beyond its premise, which is another debate entirely. And although ramming a bill through a Reconciliation vote is an easy target to bash as one-party tyranny, as both the president and vice president decried when used several times by the previously Republican-controlled congress, it is now the only way any Health Care Reform bill is turned into law.

The Republican stance that there should be a new, drafted-from-scratch or piece-meal bill is at best naïve and at its worst, and probably more to the point, vindictive. It has no basis in reality. It would be tantamount to opponents of the Iraq War asking for the troops to be sent back to the ships and re-deployed the moment they reached the outskirts of Baghdad. The mere idea that anyone would articulate this in public is as hilarious as it is frightening.

And so the political fallout of Reconciliation, the only option beyond backing down for the president, will be devastating. Independents are gone for Obama now. And although National Health Care was one of the central themes of a stirringly successful 2008 campaign, in the face of ten percent unemployment, a dipping housing market and a slower recovery than anticipated, it has not only lost national traction, it has become a political albatross.

The president has three years to win the disbelievers back or get them to crawl back if the Republicans send a weak retread like Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney in opposition, or if a true conservative voice like Ron Paul emerges in a populist TEA Party configuration and hands the White House back to him on a silver platter.

For congress, the overwhelming majority of which is Democrat, it must do what it has never done; stand united. There are as deep divides among Democrats as Republicans over many details in the bill. There is even a deeper distrust between House Democrats and their colleagues in the Senate, which deconstructed the House bill and executed any chance of a Single-Payer Option, the treacherous Third Rail of Health Care Reform.

It is an election year. The Democrats are looking at substantial losses. The Republicans have shown no interest in compromise and the majority party has shown it does not care. This president, like the last one, has bet it all on one hand, and as he wisely stated at the summit’s conclusion, the results will out and its denouement is what elections are for.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

TEA Party Fun

Aquarian Weekly 2/24/10 REALITY CHECK

THE INDEPENDENTS SPEEPSTAKES TEA Party to Green Party to Reform A-Go-Go

In the agonizing hours of November 5, 2008, following the near annihilation of the Republican brand, its most celebrated voice, Rush Limbaugh apologized to his listeners for TEA Party Local #421“carrying the Republicans water”, ignoring his sworn allegiance to conservative ideology and the glaring facts at hand to defend what he said was a party gone astray. It was self-serving and silly – essentially Limbaugh’s tired act for the past two decades – but it rang true. In his own clownish way, he stumbled onto something more than a half-baked guffaw and uttered a coherent plea, which was later picked up by many of the talking heads at FOXNEWS, the GOP broadcast network. The Republicans, they all said, were not very Republican with their nation building and federal government bloating and TARP bailout stimuli.

And for a time both Limbaugh and more pointedly FOXNEWS held this ground. What choice did they have? The president was a Super Man and the Democrats had a Super Majority, and the progressive movement, so damaged by Viet Nam and the Reagan Revolution, the Contract with America and 9/11 xenophobia, was now front and center, representing a nation that had been sold atavistic palaver about being “center-right”.

But over the past thirteen months the wind has shifted dramatically, as it will when someone as kinetically charged as Barack Obama streaks into the White House with so much promise following the dirge of a weakened predecessor. As stated time and again in this space over the past year, Joe Cool’s symbol of the Left’s Hopes & Dreams has eerily mirrored that of Ronald Reagan’s meteoric New Right rise of 1980. Then, just as quickly, with a sagging recession and a fallout in the Hope Department, there were heavy loses in the polls and consequently two years later on Capitol Hill.

The idea of the fifteen-minute fix and immediate satisfaction or else is an American institution. Comes with the territory, jack.

And so suddenly those who kicked the Republican brand to the curb and subsequently embraced and then trumpeted fringe Right movements, most notably the many and varied TEA Parties, are once again grab-assing at the laziest route to a return to power. Why not re-brand the Republican Party with the same exhausted bullshit that has made it as abject a failure as the Democrats for well over a century and a half?

The pendulum swings and people conveniently forget what ushered in the alternative.

Usually it is sound if not recidivist advice.

Problem is there now appears to be a segment of the fragmented street rabble crazies who actually believe a national third party is a viable alternative to what conservative NY Times columnist, David Brooks recently framed this way: “I just don’t see how we get out of the fiscal hole if Republicans are not willing to raise taxes and Democrats not willing to cut spending. I’m actually beginning to think, for the first time in my life, there’s a prospect for a third party at some point in the future.”

Uh-oh.

Last summer FOXNEWS, along with colossal drug concerns and anti Health Care Reform lobbyists, helped promote, bankroll, and lend legitimacy to what the mainstream could only then best describe as angry, disenfranchised lunch pail enthusiasts, whose most vocal exclamations were horrendously grammatical and explicitly racist banners. Entertaining, colorful and highly motivated Jerry Springer rejects had apparently captured the very real outrage of a nation barely able to cobble together two original thoughts without a spate of banal anarchism. Ah, but between the specious rants about the Founding Fathers and laughably insipid definitions of Tyranny, there lies a germ of true democratic spirit, one in which may take down not one, but two parties in one fell swoop.

One can only dream.

Entertaining, colorful and highly motivated Jerry Springer rejects had apparently captured the very real outrage of a nation barely able to cobble together two original thoughts without a spate of banal anarchism.

A dream we’ve kept alive here since the day we began to send words to press.

To wit: The February 20 issue early in the election year of 2008, in a piece entitled, INDEPENDENCE RULES, Reality Check issued this synopsis of American Politico: “The two-party system, which has halved the ideological soul of this nation for over a decade, has now reached its breaking point. The special interest fobs and extremist twits who have monopolized the national discourse for decades are being swept under by a tidal wave of independent voting. Republicans and Democrats are crossing lines. Fiscal conservatives fed up with social fascists, liberal lions pissed at whining granola heads, war hawks and peaceniks, activists and casual observers are jumping around like never before.”

Not a big deal. You could pretty much yank out an archived piece around here for the past dozen years plus and read something or other trashing the two-party system, but this time it was a growing reality which had been covered a year and half earlier on June, 13 2007. In this space under INDEPENDENCE ’08 appeared the results of a Gallup poll, which painted an evenly divided electorate: Republicans, 27 percent; Democrats, 34 percent; Independents, 38 percent. The following analysis was then offered: “Despite exit polling of stark contrasts in conservative vs. moderate vs. Evangelical voting blocks on the Right and women, black/Latino, and an economic range voting block on the Left, nothing has crossed the divide of this polarized nation than the quickly emerging, highly influential, and increasingly mighty Independent vote.”

And into this vacuum emerged the first African American, predominantly liberal neophyte to gain the White House. And it has not begun to close one iota. In fact it has become a gaping maw, which may swallow him and whatever poor sucker dares face it.

There was a time, as it was for George W. Bush the months following the 9/11 attacks, when the country was ready for The Big Leap. Bush, for all his failings and chronic stupidity took it. Not so much for Joe Cool, who demurred when he should have pounced, sequestered, then media blitzed when he should have hammered home The Deal.

And maybe it was too much to ask. There hasn’t been a single major sweeping change in legislation since 1964. This is what awaited this president and this dead-on-arrival congress, predominantly made up of federal government zealots, who had the electorate by the balls and still could not get a thing done.

This week Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, one of the few Democrats with a chance in hell of retaining his seat this fall, up and quit. Why? Upon the occasion of his hissy-fit resignation, he told an interviewer that two weeks prior to giving up he and several fellow Republicans co-sponsored an anti-deficit bill, only to find out later they turned around and voted against it for what he deemed was “purely political reasons”. Well, of course they did. Probably the same assholes who voted against the Recovery Act and then took bows back in their states for the dumb shit it paid for.

And so as Brooks concluded, there is indeed “unprecedented levels of distrust in Washington”, at least since the decades prior to and following the Civil War. And from its ashes comes the TEA Party, and whatever it is or wherever its going will chip away at the final progressive movement of any of our lifetimes and whatever is left of ancient conservative wisdom.

 

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

“We The People” 2010 Model

Aquarian Weekly 2/10/10 REALITY CHECK

WE THE PEOPLE

The American people are smart enough to do this on their own. – John Boehner, Ohio Republican Representative, when asked on Meet The Press if there should be federal government regulation over the purchase of health insurance across state lines.

Part of our 2010 Faux Revolution is the expulsion of ridiculously unsubstantiated nonsense like using the American People whenever someone is trying to make, prove or back up a point. There is no real American People, and if there were such an animal there is no way they would be willing or able to agree en masse on everything stated daily by debaters, lawmakers, executives, pundits, etc. It is a fantasy, which is a nice way of saying it is a blatant lie, and it must stop. In fact, all mention of any kind of “people” in solidarity must cease, especially when pitching ideology. The good of a group is never considered when ideologies are being thrown around. It is only good for the ideologues espousing their creed for an explicit segment of society. The rest is a steaming pile of bullshit.

American PersonThere is one exception; as is the rule in every scientific postulation: The American People adore free stuff or want a lot of stuff, but not pay a lot for it. This, of course, is not particular to the American People, but Human Nature in general. “Free” is the most popular word in any language, but since we are built as a nation on the concept of Free, it comes with the territory. This is why populism is so popular among the American People. Give us more cops! More parks! More malls! More roads to get to the malls! Bring the mail! Protect the kids! Kill the bad guys abroad! Keep the banks honest! Taxes? Fuck that!

Then there is the Oedipal angle of the American People. Who did this terrible thing to us? Oh, it’s us!

For instance, lately, the American People have come to their senses about institutions; suddenly they all suck. Government, Organized Religion, Banks, Military, almost all forms of systemic authority are under scrutiny. Ah, but who thought up these institutions? Who runs them? In most cases who chooses who runs them? And who supports their perpetuation? The American People do. Did I miss something? Are the Russians running our banking system? Who makes our laws and enacts them? Scandinavians or Americans? And are these people or pods of some kind?

Right now you’re shouting, “Hey, I didn’t vote for…” or ” I did not choose…”, but then aren’t you also a member of the American People?

A-ha!

I love when American People in a position to opine while speechifying broach the distinction between the American People living on Main Street and the American People running Wall Street; as if only one such group is defined as the American People, which is apparently at odds with the thinking of the American People.

Another queer aspect of the American People quotient is its inability as a group to determine what is acceptable for the individual as opposed to the whole, and most importantly how individual conscience deals with society at large.

There is one exception; as is the rule in every scientific postulation: The American People adore free stuff or want a lot of stuff, but not pay a lot for it.

Two prime examples of this would be Abortion Rights and the Environment.

Several polls annually state a majority of the American People is against abortion as an act, the act of yanking a live healthy human fetus from an otherwise healthy female host. Yet, if faced with an individual case, say, your daughter is raped by a retarded, herpes-ravaged dope fiend at a Death Metal Concert, there is some leeway. Usually, in a bizarre twist many American People who do not want the government regulating their use of weaponry have no problem dictating the possession of actual living tissue inside fifty-one percent of the populace.

Oh, and although the American People are all for drilling for oil or wiping out forests to build Wal-Marts, it’s not so cut and dry if it is taking place across the street. In both cases we have a “We’re against it, but…” and a “We’re all for it, but…” issues continuously presented as one solution to please the American People.

Another excellent and more pressing illustration is the National Health Care issue. Like Social Security, Medicare, Education, and other mass government-run entitlements, there is at first an opposing yammer of “socialism” or “tyranny”. Then, after it is instituted, whether it works or not, it’s a Third Rail, an untouchable “right” of the American People. First the American People are against it, and then once they have it, the American People fight like rabid dogs to keep it. In most circles this would be called schizophrenic behavior, in more select ones, fucking hypocrisy.

Then there is the case of the American People not realizing who is among the counted, as in every possible Gay Rights issue known to us.

Right now there is a congressional hearing going on to determine if it is unlawful to deny members of the United States military, which is of course apprised of American People, their right to be openly gay.

This is spectacularly asinine in several fascinating ways, not the least of which being that whilst engaged in military service American People are no longer considered “civilian”, and thus their normal everyday distinctions as woman or man, black or white, poor or privileged, etc, no longer apply. The idea of an army of one is an Army of One. This accounts for the similarity in haircuts and uniform, not to mention a singular code of decorum. The individual aspects of the American People are stripped from them, including determining the worth of a soldier by where he/she places his/her privates in any given act of coitus.

But that’s nothing compared to the outrage of debating a government employee’s individual rights while completely ignoring those of the American People who happen to also make up our homosexual citizenry. This is not only the proverbial “cart before the horse” as much as it is “the contents of the cart before the cart is even assembled”. Never mind the goddamned horse.

So, okay, we’re agreed? The American People do not want national health insurance just assuredly as the American People crave it. The American People include the entirety of the American People regardless of sexual or political preference. Therefore we conclude unequivocally to never dump the American People on the American People again.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

Jerome David Salinger – 1919 – 2010

Aquarian Weekly 2/3/10 REALITY CHECK

JEROME DAVID SALINGER – 1919-2010

J.D. SalingerThe aura around this book of Salinger’s — which perhaps should be read by everyone but young men — is this: it mirrors like a fun house mirror and amplifies like a distorted speaker one of the great tragedies of our times — the death of the imagination.

I believe that the imagination is the passport we create to take us into the real world. I believe the imagination is another phrase for what is most uniquely us. Our boy Holden says, “What scares me most is the other guy’s face — it wouldn’t be so bad if you could both be blindfolded — most of the time the faces we face are not the other guys’ but our own faces. And it’s the worst kind of yellowness to be so scared of yourself you put blindfolds on rather than deal with yourself…”

To face ourselves. That’s the hard thing. The imagination. That’s God’s gift to make the act of self-examination bearable. – John Guare – Six Degrees of Separation

I say that the true artist-seer, the heavenly fool who can and does produce beauty, is mainly dazzled to death by his own scruples, the blinding shapes and colors of his own sacred human conscience. – J.D. Salinger – Seymour: An Introduction

There was always something comforting about knowing that J.D. Salinger was still shuffling around the bending country roads of Cornish, New Hampshire, picking up his mail, stopping for a muffin and getting the grocery shopping done. It was reassuring, like kick-offs in the autumn and a first pitch in spring, haircuts and holidays; Ol’ Mr. Cranky is still holed up in that large tin barracks on his woodland property banging away on an old Underwood, wrinkled beyond recognition but every gray hair in place. But alas, on a frozen New England January day, the author recluse, the last human standing who can claim Great American Novel status, checked out for good.

This was just another in a series of exits for Salinger, albeit his last. He’d not only made “checking out” an art form, his raison d’etre, but eventually outlasted Howard Hughes as American’s most impenetrably ardent hermit. The subtler terminology for such behavior would be “retreating from unwanted attention”, which in an ironic twist worthy of his most striking characters transformed him from dropout scribe to silent legend.

Thus, stalking Salinger, although in recent years as the Boomers got older and less inclined to search for intangible things like lost youth or hope unanswered, was in itself an art form; the media, the fans, the curious – getting a glimpse of the man who penned The Catcher in the Rye just once, maybe get a photograph or God willing have a brief encounter, was an enduring obsession.

There were hundreds of stories and countless periodical or televised introspective guesses to whatever the hell happened to J.D. Salinger, a man, who at the age of thirty-two published his one and only novel, a 236 page ode to the awakening from the sweet bliss of childhood ignorance into the stark, cold realities of becoming a compromised, disingenuous bit player in a fixed game. Adulthood is the enemy of its protagonist, Holden Caulfield, perhaps the most famous and deconstructed literary invention in the latter half of the 20th Century, the post-war, business booming, super-power American Century. It was to usher in the rise of the Middle Class and its everlasting explosions of atomic destruction, rock and roll and television.

A team of psychiatrists working ’round the clock daily for decades could scant crack the level of psychosis replete in these stories, bloated with characters so vividly bizarre and charmingly damaged by religion, commerce, war, family, sex and the gnawing curse of intellectual curiosity they crawl inside your head and force a sinister smirk through the tears.

In some ways it was the shedding of untruths about America in the sixties, not the button-down, smile-and-ignore-the-horror fifties that made The Catcher in the Rye what it would become, a dog-eared, coffee-stained Bible for practicing Hippies, striving to reject a slaying of the wild spirit engendered in those whose only worries surround skinned knees and cruel barbs, a pinky rolling forever lost into a sewer drain or the sun setting on another day of infinite imagination. There was an entire movement based on it, and aside from perhaps the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, Woodstock or the uprising against an unjust war, only the first read of Catcher could best indoctrinate a generation of the spoiled and disillusioned.

Its author, however, was nothing of the kind. J.D. Salinger was the second child to well-to-do Upper West Side Jewish/Catholic parents, who sent him to Manhattan’s best schools and encouraged his love of the arts, eventually shipping him abroad to an exclusive Austrian trade institute until forced to flee from Nazi terror, a terror he would confront in 1944 as an infantryman on D-Day, where he miraculously survived the slaughterhouse of Utah Beach and frigid hand-to-hand mutilation at the Battle of the Bulge. Being among the first of forever-scarred soldiers liberating the concentration camps awarded J.D. Salinger an extended stay at an army mental hospital, an experience which formed the deepest recesses of several of his most memorable short story characters; drained and soulless creatures who returned from the war bitter, distant, and harshly cynical.

During the campaign in Europe, the young Salinger sought out and found Ernest Hemingway, with whom he carried on a correspondence for months, exchanging ideas and gaining inspiration. Rare for giving attention to anyone not killing, fighting or drinking, Papa ignited in Salinger a series of beautifully crafted short stories published in the famed New Yorker. The first such venture was a prelude to a theme stretched to its limit in Catcher, A Perfect Day for Bananafish, a delightfully disturbing “check-out” afternoon for an unbalanced young man named Seymour Glass, who begins innocently enough telling fairytales of fictitious ocean dwellers to a young girl in the surf on a sunny beach only to end up blithely traveling up to his darkened hotel room to discharge a pistol into his brain. In between there are the materialistic blathering wife and the purity of a child, another “phony” adult and an “unblemished” child inspiring a man’s unexplained exit.

Along with his lifelong penchant for “checking out”, disgust with mature matters and the worship of youth, particularly young girls, Bananafish began for Salinger what would become the literary undercurrent of a career shadowed by the enormity of Catcher. Seymour would only be one, if not the most significant of the Glass family, the entirety of which the author would mine for several and varied metaphors in his seminal works; Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, and Raise High The Roof Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction, his only other published books.

A team of psychiatrists working ’round the clock daily for decades could scant crack the level of psychosis replete in these stories, bloated with characters so vividly bizarre and charmingly damaged by religion, commerce, war, family, sex and the gnawing curse of intellectual curiosity they crawl inside your head and force a sinister smirk through the tears. Not even a chubby little sophistic drone like Mark David Chapman’s marrow-sucking assassination dreams born of Holden Caulfield lore could hope to dwarf them.

And then J.D. Salinger checked out, never to publish again.

After the final Glass installment, Hapworth 16, 1924 in 1965, Salinger’s battle to remain as he once wrote as his “rather subversive opinion that a writer’s feelings of anonymity-obscurity are the second most valuable property on loan to him during his working years” was won. He wrote, but we didn’t read. Several books by his daughter and former young assistants and lovers revealed some, but not enough. Only two biographies have been published, one rather forgetfully bland one and Ian Hamilton’s boundlessly interesting, In Search of J.D. Salinger, which by legal reprisal happenstance brought forth Salinger’s only public utterances in court interviews.

It was Hamilton’s constant harassment by Salinger to stay away, prompting the author to cut off friends and business associates, sue every known publishing house in New York coupled with the subsequent amateur pilgrimages that proved a hearty impetus for a memorable discussion with my friend and colleague Dan Bern on the rights owed to Salinger’s many worshipers that he publish again. Later, an aborted book idea to travel to Cornish and sit in the local coffee shop and take in the aura that had shrouded the town for a taste of the final steps of the mysterious J.D. Salinger only wetted our appetite to understand further the kind of mind and talent that could deny the innate need for the consummate artist to celebrate success.

But that is all gone now, with Jerome David Salinger, who checks out with the mind and heart of the Holy Trilogy and one masterpiece.

 

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

Scott Brown Goes To Washington

Aquarian Weekly 1/27/10 REALITY CHECK

MR. BROWN GOES TO WASHINGTON How The Bluest State Threw Up The Red Stop Light On Health Care

Politics, like comedy, need not apologize. It just is. The victor has his story and the loser, the excuses. It is the way of The Vote. This has never been more evident than what transpired in Massachusetts over the nine days from mid-January to this past Tuesday in a Special Election to replace a senate seat someone with the name Kennedy had owned since Senator Scott Brown1952.

The general consensus among pundits and reactionaries is that The Cradle of Liberty spoke loudly against the current atmosphere in Washington DC, including whatever incoherent monstrosity now stands as a Health Care Bill in the House. The election results, as abruptly surprising as they were, while always being a referendum on national politics by rule, is never as clear a national message as advertised. But, just as what you find funny does not make it comedy, does it fail to be comedy when you do not laugh.

It just is.

Before those crucial nine days unfolded you couldn’t have picked the victor, Scott Philip Brown, a little known and relatively benign anti-tax, fairly socially liberal Republican state senator out of a line-up. By around January 13, Brown trailed his opponent, the state’s attorney general, Martha Coakley by a respectable but hardly noteworthy 15 to 18 points. In a solidly Blue State boasting its own progressive health care system, where people for decades voted overwhelmingly for a Liberal Lion of dubious moral construct that also happened to be a particularly staunch proponent of a national health care system, the idea that a populist anti-Democrat uprising was a-comin’ is a myth.

After all the Right Wing chest-pumping and end-zone dances subsided, the exit polls clearly showed an alarming exodus of Independents, 60 percent of which make up the true Massachusetts electorate, a majority of whom before some major gaffs and haughty rhetoric from Brown’s opponent were hardly galvanized by his truck-driving, regular-guy approach. The best you can say for the decisive Independent vote was much of it may have emerged from boredom after their beloved Patriots were unexpectedly booted from NFL play-off contention.

In those vital days between the Shoo-in and Toss-out, the Democratic candidate treated the campaign as everyone else beyond her opponent did, as if the election was an irritating weigh station to her seat. It apparently did not matter to Ms. Coakley or her staff that openly mocking the Red Sox, which comes in slightly ahead of Catholicism in religious fervor up there, or publicly complaining that it was too chilly to campaign was bad mojo in a hyper-provincial state loaded with insecure pride-mongers. Ted Kennedy, despite his shenanigans, knew how to make Bostonians and beyond feel like they were running the federal government. There is a reason why a drunken lout with a sense of familial entitlement won every election every time, whether drowning a woman or with a Republican in the governor’s chair.

Many exit polls revealed that it was the stagnation and incompetence of government not National Health Care that drove the Brown vote. What a truck-driving nudist and a half-baked lawyer do in Beantown should have no bearing.

In her last televised debate performance, Coakley sounded like a grim mutation of Caroline Kennedy and Sarah Palin when she seemed unsure if the United States had a continued military presence in Afghanistan. Then as the national spotlight began to shine on her shrinking lead, with millions of dollars pouring in from a suddenly giddy Republican National Committee and the president’s last-minute doomed-on-arrival rescue mission, she desperately went Dukakis in the saddest attempt to appear like she wasn’t a detached intellectual snob.

Only then did the prospect begin to take hold that National Health Care was in jeopardy. Brown and his staff, who had primarily run an Independent campaign, steering clear of the still-damaged Republican brand, smartly rammed home a populace message, taking the Ted Kennedy formula of reminding the otherwise apathetic voter that the world would be glued to and changed by the results, giving them succor for their hometown penis-envy by becoming The Story. Evidence of this is that not since 1990 had such an election drawn as many participants, and just like the record numbers that put Barack Obama in office in 2008 was later championed by Democrats, so did the Republicans rightfully paint their enthusiasm with an ideological brush.

But let’s face it, no one saw this coming, nor did anyone have any idea less than two weeks prior that it would be a national story, never mind a referendum or uprising. Anyone who said they did lies. When most of the country was caught up in the human and political implications of the Haiti earthquake or whether the House Majority leader was a racist, dummy or an old, inarticulate coot, the rumblings in what is generally considered the most liberal of states, was ignored.

The fact is the Democrats were hot and heavy on this Health Care thing from the get-go, even before Arlen Specter and Al Franken gave them a “Filibuster Proof” majority, just as the Democrats were hot and heavy on ending the Iraq occupation in ’06. That a one-state special election can crush federal legislation is media-generated, political party pabulum. If you cannot pass a bill with 59 Senators, a stranglehold on the House and a sitting president after one solid year of The Push, you either don’t want to or have no capacity to do so. Many exit polls revealed that it was the stagnation and incompetence of government not National Health Care that drove the Brown vote. What a truck-driving nudist and a half-baked lawyer do in Beantown should have no bearing.

Shame on the losers – and to the winners goes the bending of truths.

Irony of ironies, the Democrats brought this on themselves long before Teddy went belly-up. Thinking John Kerry, another gangbuster lifer senator from the state, was about to take the White House in 2004 and Republican governor Mitt Romney would appoint his replacement; they pushed hard for a “Special Election” to decide the post. And now, before his body is cold and a lifetime memory of fighting for national health care dwindles, a Republican newbie rides south to the nation’s capitol to warm the Kennedy seat.

Thus, what was at best the longest shot in federal legislation since the privatization of Social Security now appears to be what this space long predicted – dead. The Democrats Dog & Pony Show on Health Care, which as stated here and among friends and colleagues for years was always a pipe dream worthy of Lewis Carroll but made manifestly impossible in the feeble hands of self-flagellating procrastinators, is now fading fast. No one really wanted a national Health Care bill in Washington. If they did, if this president did, they would have used the most dominant congressional majority in a century to do it.

That’s either hilarious or tragic.

Or it just is.

 

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

Barack Obama’s America: Year One

Aquarian Weekly 1/20/10 REALITY CHECK

BARACK OBAMA’S AMERICA: YEAR ONE

Change.

It was all the rage in 2008 and it sure came into clear, brutal view in 2009.

Barack Obama: Year OneNo one paying attention could imagine it emerging differently, not with the new guy resembling in no way the last forty-three guys, governing in no way like anyone since FDR, and facing a two-front war beneath one of the most damaged global economic meltdowns in history. Forget race, generation and a tinderbox political environment, rousing approval numbers and a mad scramble for a healthy slice of the New Democratic Party Power Pie; the second Barack Obama raised his hand to swear his oath as leader of the free world, there was change.

Success?

Yes.

Failure.

Of course.

Much of both. This is what comes with the territory. There is very little anyone can write coherently about the office and its times without the gray areas filling the spaces; this means the bluster, inconsistencies, and burps of conscience, the screw-ups and luck-outs, the hard choices and thankless sacrifices, and most of all the inevitable charges of hypocrisy. This was all in evidence in Barack Obama’s America: Year One.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, it was a bloody rebirthing of Liberalism, a renewal of Diplomacy and a staunch surrender to analytical stasis. It began in an explosion of populist fuel, bucking haphazardly into a zigzag of ideology, and ending in perhaps the final trumpet call across the fields of Hope.

Right from the start, the new president was uninterested in sweeping clean all that had come before. He continued his predecessor’s policies at home and abroad, choosing to retain George W. Bush’s most influential appointees, Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Chairman and Secretary of Defense. Robert Gates. The former helped continue the federal government’s emergency bank bailouts towards record numbers, stopping the hemorrhaging while further bloating the federal budget. The latter shifted the vagaries in the War on Terror onto the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan as candidate Obama had foretold.

These and other penalties against the Left and a failure to appease anti-Bush Independents like the sustained genuflecting to Wall Street, an apathetic view towards immediately closing down Gitmo, a refusal to put steadfast timelines on a withdrawal in Iraq, and most egregiously a closed-door policy in Congress’s Health Care debate – something candidate Obama repeatedly promised to keep transparent – torpedoed his once stratospheric approval ratings.

Where Obama may have lost the majority of independents and many of the moderate leftists is the inability for him to intercede where necessary with the zealots of his party, especially the House Speaker and its majority leader, both of whom conducted much of the Recovery Act as some kind of re-shifting of taxpayer charities into a spectacular sinkhole of pork.

Another tweak to Liberals was the president’s almost habitual if not half-hearted attempt at bipartisanship. Tanking on arrival, due to the almost complete dismantling of The Right following his entry into office, it never had a chance. Whoever was left to defend the fractured conservative movement would not go quietly. Its pathetic representation in government reduced the fringes of the Fourth Estate to exact vengeance, the rightful weapon of the loser. Thus the Birther-TEA Party-Town Hall masses began to take hold of the age-old debate on how much the government may be allowed to act in the reconstruction of our damaged republic, from environmental, moral to defense and wealth redistribution. Soon, as was the case in the last administration, much of the back-and-forth, which turned civil rights and proactive military action into charges of fascism and war crimes turned Keynesian economics into forced socialism and health care reform into death panels.

Lost to the general public and the consumers of the sporadic bilge, the massive takeover by the federal government of the banking system was not a choice but a reaction, much like most of what the former president was forced to face in the ensuing months after 9/11. What followed for the Bush Administration defined it for history, much like the months following the massive financial band-aid that kept the economic fabric of the planet from unraveling any further, the effects of which bloats unemployment numbers and still strikes fear in the American consumer, which is all that is left us as an economic power.

Where Obama may have lost the majority of independents and many of the moderate leftists is the inability for him to intercede where necessary with the zealots of his party, especially the House Speaker and its majority leader, both of whom conducted much of the Recovery Act as some kind of re-shifting of taxpayer charities into a spectacular sinkhole of pork. It was the same mentality that allowed the most important element of the president’s initial boatload of political capital to spring several leaks, causing the Health Care Reform Bill to inevitably become a flaccid shell of its original intent.

Then, as is the case with every president, an unforeseen moment shifts the general inclination of the man in the Big Chair. Such was what is now called the Christmas Terror Plot, which pushed to the fore a more assertive and fed-up Barack Obama, who launched an unflinching pronouncement of culpability from the CIA to the FBI to the rafters of Congress, unthinkable for a commander-in-chief in war time. The outburst caused veteran reporter David Broder to observe, “Obama’s benign leadership style had reached its limits”. And now one gets the feeling that although the White House would love for there to be a Health Care Bill by the time the president hits Capital Hill for his State of the Union Address, what may enter the hen house is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

One can only hope, but dare we?

Although the largest building in the country’s greatest city was not taken down by lunatics nor has the president handed over major legislation to his wife, Barack Obama’s America: Year One faced the cacophony like few have ever had to endure. Maybe there were far too many television appearances and weirdly apologetic speeches abroad, his cabinet filled with questionable character, there was also not a litany of expected speeches (only one actually hit home in an emergency session of congress that was too little too late) and truth be told much of his style has been more reticent than radical.

What the new guy is not is a New Politician. He is the same one we have seen before, making the same mistakes and settling on the same hard decisions that don’t always jibe with the far-reaching, inspirational sonnet of the “outsider”. And in the end, which is only the beginning, Barack Obama’s America: Year One may have taught us a lesson we already knew deep down; twelve months does not a term make.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

2010: Year of the Faux Revolution

Aquarian Weekly 1/13/10 REALITY CHECK

2010: YEAR OF THE FAUX REVOLUTION

I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all. – Alexis de Tocqueville

And in Berkeley And in Greenwich Village And in Paris And in Scottsbluff, NebraskaNo one sits around funky little coffee shops anymore Talking revolution They get a Starbucks to go – Dan Bern

TEA Party 101It is true; this space declared 2009 The Year of the Guilty, as it was ushered in on the wings of a Rod Blogojevich stand-off and ended with what is left of the Tiger Woods brand. In between there were villains of all kinds. They know who they are and let’s leave it at that. If there is one thing we shall not do here is be roped into any Top Ten or Year End listings. We prefer a sweeping FUCK YOU to the entire lot and move on.

And so we roll undaunted into the new decade filled with less zeroes and more complaints, something you may have already noticed in the latter half of the annual bitch-fest by the great unwashed; Whining & Panicking 101.

Everything is screwed.

The system has failed us.

The government is after grandma and the military is a joke.

Hey, we’ve been more than happy to contribute to these and other half-baked hyperboles, but this year all bets are off. This year we will separate the wheat from the chaff and see who is on board for a steaming bowl of unflinching reappraisals, a hardcore trip to the cruelest type of honesty, the kind that does not accept those mailing it in or regurgitating some weak-ass theology from media darlings. This year, 2010, is the Year of the Faux Revolution.

I am on board. Lord knows we’ve been holding a DO NOTHING BUT DECRY fest for almost a dozen years around here. It’s about time we carry it to the streets; with the caveat that the temperatures rise above freezing, otherwise we’ll keep it inside for now. Nevertheless, in 2010, this is the space to visit for all your phony outrage and fabricated incredulity. Our cup runneth over; imbibe, boogie and be merry, for tomorrow we realize it doesn’t matter a lick.

Ah, but before proceeding into the quagmire of misdeed, misrule and mistakes, we merely present a few middling ground rules…

Please do not send us back to failed alternatives or discredited “isms”, and certainly do not waste our time conjuring opaque fantasy worlds of yesteryear when the roses bloomed, the virgins sang, and the sun shined every minute of every day. These things have not worked and do not exist respectively. Sell it elsewhere. This is real bullshit revolution, like pissed off teenagers or concerned celebrities, well-intentioned politicians and whatever nonsense passes for religion.

This year we will separate the wheat from the chaff and see who is on board for a steaming bowl of unflinching reappraisals, a hardcore trip to the cruelest type of honesty, the kind that does not accept those mailing it in or regurgitating some weak-ass theology from media darlings.

Those unhappy with our current state can no longer contradict themselves, for instance asswipes carrying signs like “KEEP THE GOVERNMENT OFF MY MEDICARE” and news anchors telling me to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior need not apply. And for the last time cease and desist from sending anymore of these decrepitly incoherent four-hundred year-old fossils from its ex-vice presidency outpost who did not have the balls to run for president crapping all over the one who had the stones to seek victory and claim it. It’s like a lazy-ass neighbor standing on the curbside with a hammer criticizing your carpentry skills. Fuck him and fuck all the others with no guts to get in the ring.

Moreover, and in specific cases, more importantly, 2010 will ask that someone please come with something harder than GIVE ME MY COUNTRY BACK, since there isn’t a living soul who can tell me what country that is, and believe me I have asked an agonizingly long line of friends, family, and colleagues. No one seems to know; is it the one when women and blacks had no rights, or the one where minorities could not share diners and hotels and schooling was denied to immigrants and lynching was considered a weekend picnic and rioting in the streets was a common occurrence or hijackings became daily ritual or gas lines wrapped around the block? You can have that country, jack. Perhaps this is an America further back, one ravaged by Civil War? How about one prior to the ratification of the Constitution, which has rendered more self-serving blather and less pure understanding than the Qur’an and the Holy Bible combined.

Finally, could we all agree that we are not, nor have we ever been SAFE, whatever the hell that means? Unless it stands for wrapping oneself in a hermetically sealed existence afraid of everything and everyone and dealing off personal freedoms one by one until this is some kind of highway bound, hot-wired citadel. It’s a fallacy perpetuated by halfwits with something to prove and less to lose. No one is safe, and never will be. Accepting this is a joy worth embracing and a key component to a 2010 way of thinking.

Let’s stick with stuff we can wrap our hands around, because 2010 is about coming to grips, getting our digits dirty and backing it up with more than just flags and ribbons. True Faux Revolutionaries (with respect to my dear friend Admiral Daniel Bernstein — goddammnit I’ve got to call the master soon for a fusion of volume-addled burn-elixir — I’m blasting your opus right now as I write this inspired bit of gibberish, Admiral, and I will never stop requesting an updated version for our faux anthem) will not be allowed to quip from the sidelines.

And, okay, as a consequence, there will be no more or at least less offending disjointed run-on parenthetically interrupted sentences with cryptic messages to my songwriting pals.

But I digress.

Shit, we’ve had quite the little rock-slinging group for awhile now; writing, reading and spewing ill humor all over these Reality Check papers. Maybe you posers can get on board. Maybe you pundits will take heed. Maybe we’ll get ourselves new chants and new slogans and new places to meet under naked light bulbs in “funky little coffee shop” basements and realize that we sure as hell have ceased trying to alter reality long ago, save for the fashionable bout with the Green Fairy and the gallons of gin I consumed New Year’s Eve. Ah, we took it to the streets that night, right kids?

And if you don’t understand these subtler forms of indignation, then maybe you should stick to FOXNEWS and MSNBC and MS. Magazine.

This is a new American language for a new year.

That, my dear friends, is change you may not believe in, but you will soon hear it coming.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More