PLANNED PARENTHOOD & MADE-UP SHIT

Aquarian Weekly
8/12/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

PLANNED PARENTHOOD & MADE-UP SHIT

I want to make clear from the outset that I honestly could not care less if Planned Parenthood is defunded or shut down or whatever this wacky congress would like to do. Have at it. I also think that whoever was caught on camera being blithe about sensitive issues should be terminated and there should be some oversight to how a government-run, taxpayer funded institution is run. What needs to be pointed out is this gnawing penchant for political activists – both on the Left and the Right (this time it is the Right) to go off half-cocked and just make shit up to support its agenda. The anti-gun lobby has done it repeatedly after every shooting that occurs in this country (and Lord knows it is daily and insane and speaks more about us than the weapons used, but that is for another column) or the recently hyped Black Lives Matter movement that moves from shedding light on a serious issue of racist practices by an inordinately large number of police killing unarmed black men to an all-out assault on police in general.

planned-parenthood

If you’ve read just one paragraph of this space since 1997, you would know I have no problem with people getting riled up about a cause. And I think if you are even remotely familiar with my work you also know it is not acceptable to create your own facts in the fervent pursuit of your passion. This is the most dangerous area of our discourse, always has been. It takes us from “I disagree with his policies” to “he’s Hitler”, which is more irrational, sub-mental hyperbole than making shit up, but the journey is the same. This problem is further exacerbated when purported news outlets like the pathetically inauthentic FOX NEWS/MSNBC cabal take a story that really doesn’t exist and make it one. It’s one thing for citizens, activists, protesters, lobbyists, or paid political pundits (including the radio host goofballs) to spin their own “truths”, but when supposed journalists not only work fast and loose with facts but blurt out-and-out lies as news, things take on a kind of Alice in Wonderland aura.

Okay, so the biggest problem pro-life crowd has with Planned Parenthood is its safe and convenient (and legal) taxpayer-funded locations to provide abortions for women who decide to go that route (pro-choice). In fact, PP is the number-one enemy of the pro-lifers to the point where, for instance, petitions for mayors, congressmen and governors to close these (perfectly legal) locations are a key to elections. In the past decade many Republican officials have been skirting national law and passing laws to curtail the effectiveness of PP on the state level on the accepted assumption that PP is an abortion factory, when in fact the percentage of abortions to the other specifically women’s health provisions account for about three percent or 328,000 of the group’s nearly 10.6 million services provided last year. And although I support the right for those who oppose abortion to try the political route (as opposed to killing doctors) to advance their agendas, I also do not support a systemic flouting of law for “moral” reasons. Once again, though, this is a subject for another column – one I have written at least a dozen or more times.

The meager (when compared to the ridiculous amount of money thrown at useless murdering like the U.S. military) $528 million is about forty percent of its annual budget, less than pennies to individual taxpayers. Yet, the federal defunding (states can and do provide a sizable sum) of the other ninety-seven percent of PP’s services will adversely affect its usefulness. So while overreacting to make an ideological point, it ends up doing greater damage to nearly 2.7 million women that need PP for non-abortion related care. In an approaching election year, this kind of reactionary nonsense seduces political suicide for Republicans, who already have problems looking like they are perpetually waging social war on women.

And so once videos of PP officials casually describing in detail the “selling” of aborted fetus parts donated legally by the mothers, the pouncing began. The “outrage” singles out the profiting of this ghoulish practice and the horrors of not only the inhumane practices, but the entire idea of PP being some kind of underground human trafficking scheme.

The problem with this is none of it is true. Not a word. PP has for years provided a service to use aborted fetal tissue with written consent of the parents to scientific research for a myriad of diseases and never profits from it. The money causally discussed in the videos (which is a matter of decorum not criminality) subsidizes the preservation and transportation of said tissue, and in most cases these funds are reimbursed. While some may find this appalling, it is no different than you donating your organs to science or to save lives after you’re gone. The spectacularly irresponsible narrative that PP is coldly cashing in on this is a fantasy concocted by overzealous activists that count on you being ignorant to the facts at hand.

…while overreacting to make an ideological point, it ends up doing greater damage to nearly 2.7 million women that need PP for non-abortion related care.

The bigger problem with wildly disseminating misinformation and the orchestrated fabrication of all this leads to government officials, presidential candidates, and members of congress hinting at “investigations”, which like most investigations will end up costing taxpayers more money than the actual funding of an institution and will need nowhere, because there is no crime or story here. The story should be that people who oppose abortion will use any measure, however fanciful and inaccurate, to advance their agenda. And perhaps the most glaring problem will come if congress decides to shut the federal government down over this straw man, (and the sad fact is almost all of these politicians know this is trumped up bullshit, but pursue it to gather favor and potential votes) which will cost us fifty times what we’re discussing here, if we’re so worried about money.

Believe what you will about pro-life or pro-choice, but here are the facts; a woman’s right to choose is protected by law, Planned Parenthood is a legally run women’s health institution that provides useful services to millions of patients annually, and while people with agendas may live by their own versions of truth, none of it alters the first two. And while anti-abortion activists do not hold a patent on making shit up, they are in this case very much making shit up.

Read More

UBER VERSUS NYC

Aquarian Weekly
7/29/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

UBER VERSUS NYC

This was bound to happen here. It has happened elsewhere. The grassroots ingenuity of transport services, more specifically Uber and to a lesser extent Lyft, offer a convenient alternative to mass transit and traditional cab services. In the case of Uber, which thanks to my friend Dan Bern I personally used to great effect in my spring visit to Nashville, Tennessee – a town spread out into disparate neighborhoods yet bereft of available conveyance for those not wanting to rent a car – it adds a fairly unregulated number of extra vehicles to the area while threatening the livelihoods of the existing official vehicular fleet. In other words, Uber is to a region-city-town-county what Napster was to the music business. There may be compromise and reshuffling, but there will be no going back.

lyft_cab

In Nashville, for instance, it took months of wrangling with the local cab services to settle on an agreement to infuse the Uber fleet into the city’s environment, mostly because many of the cabbies (minuscule in comparison to a metropolis silly with them like NYC) saw an opportunity for themselves to break out and become Uber drivers.

Uber drivers must pass a rigorous review of driving records and other key personal histories, but is according to the drivers I spoke to more lucrative than the traditional hack route. It is a well-oiled concept that invites single moms, college students, struggling lower-economic, two-job types, and others to take on a livery business to help make ends meet. Some drivers I met in Nashville raved about its flexibility and its boost to their incomes (average Uber income per hour is $12, while it is $30 in NYC). Some loved it as a distraction – one woman concerned my brothers-in-law and myself by boldly stating she had been driving people around town for some thirty hours without sleep and wondered (if she hadn’t passed out by then) if we needed a ride to the airport the next day. Needless to say we passed on her, but used Uber nonetheless.

Uber is cheaper than cab and car services simply because there is no expected tipping. You sign up through an app on your phone, connect it to your credit card or Paypal and hit it. Within minutes, depending on where you’re an independent driver arrives promptly. In Nashville we rarely waited more than four to five minutes for a car, most times it was two to three minutes.

But Nashville is a burb compared to places like Chicago, L.A., Houston, and especially the largest city on the planet, New York. In fact, my only Uber experience in NYC was a bad one. In early June my wife and I found ourselves in our usual position of fairly inebriated on McDougal Street in the Village and it was late and we needed to get back to our hotel in Tribeca. Normally I’d hail a cab and end of story, but I decided to try out Uber in the big town. I hit the app and a car was promised in three minutes. The car purportedly showed up on Bleecker around the corner in the requisite time. Not sure why it wasn’t in front of us. The driver called me, but the street was buzzing with people and traffic and it was hard to hear him. I explained that we were around the corner, but his response was unintelligible. Just then a free cab happened to be passing right by us, so I flagged it, told the Uber guy never mind, and went about our business. The next day I received a ten-dollar cancellation fee from Uber. I wanted to fight it, but screw it.

I ended up using cabs the rest of my brief stay that weekend, and part of me felt it right, since cabbies have always held a special place in my heart. I’ve had some amazing adventures in cabs all over this world. Drivers always take my advice and always put the pedal to the medal – I rarely trust any cabbie that does not blatantly break the law, especially in NYC. It is a must. And, on a personal note, my grandfather was a proud member of the hack brigade and I believe in supporting these guys/gals whenever possible.

This takes us to the issue at hand. City of New York Mayor Bill De Blasio is now faced with the same dilemma as every New York mayor before him, how to integrate progress into the city construct seamlessly without destroying the echo-structure of the town. He must simultaneously serve all New Yorkers; consumers and workers, while managing the progress of capitalism. New York’s history is filled with these moments, and for the most part New York was the experiment for the rest of the country, the most significant of these were canals, roadways, social programs, fiscal parameters, subways, building, or general infrastructure, and a host of inventions thrown into an urban environment left to its own devices.

De Blasio claims that Uber and Lyft present a possible ecological and traffic-congestion problem to the city. His latter claim is not unfounded. Uber adds hundreds of cars a day to the already uber-(pun intended)-congested streets, and having driven for over four decades around all five boroughs (I parceled medical records around NYC during the late 80s and early 90s to supplement my meager freelance earnings), I can tell you it ain’t beanbag. I have seen things on the byways of NYC that are hard to explain in print. Suffice to say – though since the city’s rebirth in the mid-90s things have been less hair-raising – it is not an easy town to traverse. This is the concern of city officials, as much as the added smelly and dangerous exhaust the additional vehicles provide. But I shan’t go down a road that claims that a few less cars will save New York from its noxious fumes. That is part of the charm, come on.

De Blasio has begun his push-back by imposing limits to the amount of cars Uber can have “on the job” at any one time. I don’t think this unreasonable, but as a business model, no one wants to have “limits” imposed on your expansion, and Uber is expanding big time. The company estimates adding 25,000 customers every week.

Ultimately Uber and Lyft will win out. This is not an if but when and how.

Uber is making its case that by rightfully pointing out that De Blasio has another reason for his push-back, NYC cabs are in jeopardy of going the way of the horse-drawn carriage. Also, more ubiquitous and affordable modes of transportation via the car lowers the mass-transit numbers, which every mayor wants to keep up, freeing the streets of congestion. Uber has countered with a multi-million dollar ad campaign online and on TV suggesting that lower-income, minority travelers now have an option, especially in the outer-boroughs, where cabs loathe to tread; specifically because they are not guaranteed a return fare.

But the sinister underbelly of this, which puts De Blasio in a tight bind to his liberal constituency, is that cabbies for decades have refused to pick up black and Hispanic fares for a variety of reasons that do not jibe with the civil rights of these individuals. Uber has no such agenda or history. De Blasio and the cab lobby cannot hide from this argument. It is real. I have seen it myself and spoken to those who have been denied rides.

Uber also has a hidden, less than moral-outrage argument for its own push-back. If Uber becomes part of the regulation of NYC-Transit, does it lose its “affordable” outside the system appeal?

Ultimately Uber and Lyft will win out. This is not an if but when and how. Maybe a compromise is coming, but if De Blasio or city officials think by ignoring a popular service with progressive tendencies a winning quotient in NYC, they will also go the way of the horse and buggy.

As usual, the rest of the nation watches the outcome.

Read More

THE IRAN DEAL AND THE SECRET WAR ON ISIS‏

Aquarian Weekly
7/22/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE IRAN DEAL AND THE SECRET WAR ON ISIS

Let me be the first journalist or pundit or columnist or politician or radio host or prime minister to admit I have not read the entire Iran Deal. I am sure a 150-page stream of international-law gobbledygook is a fine summer jaunt, but I’ll stick to Simon Critchley’s The Book of Dead Philosophers, which I am currently enjoying and this book on Bob Dylan’s recording sessions from 1960-1994. Good stuff. I am never going to read the Iran Deal, but like all the other people who haven’t done so and probably never will, yet felt compelled to comment on it over the past few days, I will nevertheless write about it. But at least you know that I know I have not read it and have little idea of what’s in it, unlike everyone running for president and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and everyone on cable news and on the radio and in nearly every newspaper op ed page in the nation.

waronisis

However, unlike those who merely agree with this thing because they support the president or disagree because they do not, I have only one agenda, which has been consistent here from the moment our purportedly antiwar president took the oath in January of 2009, stay the fuck out of Middle East conflicts. And so an Iran Deal, while being ridiculously calamitous in believing will accelerate the process for an Iranian nuclear program or spectacularly naive to think it will mark a new era in Iranian/American relations, is better than what has transpired since the CIA-orchestrated coup d’état of Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, for the despotic Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, better known to his bosses in the U.S. State Department as the mighty Shah.

I am not going to waste much time going over the complete disaster that has been the U.S. foreign policy in regards to Iran for over six decades and eleven presidents. We all know the deal; U.S. backed bloody dictatorship followed by bloody theocratic revolution, giving asylum to bloody dictator, hostage crisis, sanctions, working out alliance with and arming bloody Iraqi dictator, Iraq invades Iran, more sanctions, secretly trading arms with Iranians to back illegal Central American war in Nicaragua, you guessed it…sanctions, war kicking out aforementioned U.S.-backed Iraqi dictator in neighboring Kuwait, “axis of evil”, second war deposing Iraqi dictator, Iranians begin nuclear program for energy, which no one on the planet believes, G.W. Bush nixes initial Iran Deal to not appear weak in “war on terror”, suspected nuclear plan quadruples, diminutive lunatic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies Holocaust, the existence of Iranian homosexuals and promises to wipe Israel off the map, U.N. (everybody together now!) sanctions, citizens discover twitter and fake an Arab Spring, Ahmadinejad goes bye-bye, Iran Deal.

Okay, I lied – minor time-waster; but you get the point.

There are two options left for the U.S., the U.N, and the rest of the oil-addicted world – deal or war. Period. I choose deal.

Of course hardliners in the U.S. and Iran will bitch about this thing. This is the aim of “the deal”. No one is happy. Would it be better if there were stronger terms on weapons-testing and did testing end up in a war in Iraq in 2003? Yup. And would it be better for Iran if the sanctions would be lifted sooner without all this “trust but verify” verbiage? Yup. But, again, this is the nature of “the deal”. People get something and give something up they would not want to give up. I find it hard to believe people over six years-old would find this concept alien. How does anyone get through forty seconds of adult life, never mind international relations, without compromise?

Now, although I think Netanyahu a buffoon, he is in a tough position – one he created by being the hard-line candidate and prime minster, but nevertheless it is a tough one. He has been saying for ten years that Iran is weeks away from making a bomb. If I said for instance that I am sure Martians are coming next month for ten years I would be put away. Prime ministers and presidents say stuff like this and get re-elected. It’s just the name of the game. I do not blame him and I realize that if this thing goes sideways Israel will have to be aggressive, but I also know that all this bluster from Netanyahu is backed by billions of American dollars (our taxpaying dollars) and billions in U.S. weapons, and out of mere diplomacy, we would have to back such aggression.

This is why “the deal” makes sense. It finally puts us in the game. Instead of lip service and name calling and grandstanding to get votes or seem morally superior, we now in a sense partner with Iran to make sure they act responsibly in the international construct or finally pay for their transgressions. It is an oil-rich, advancing, and geographically large nation. It is about time.

And if this pisses off the Saudis who are currently fighting Iran in Yemen, all the better.

I want to take a moment to point out that this haughty notion of making deals with countries that ignore human rights and sponsor terrorism and/or foreign aggression being a no-no is crazier than the Martian analogy. Please see Saudi Arabia and China for prime examples of why this never seems to matter.

However, there is another key reason, and maybe the key reason, for “the deal” at this time; the growing issue with ISIS.

Aside from the Egyptians and a rag-tag army of Kurds, there is no one who has been more of an ally against the Sunni-configured ISIS than the Shiite theocracy of Iran. Just like our tentative and eventually disastrous alliance with the Soviet Union during WWII, the Iranian influence, intelligence and underground weapons’ network in the region is second to none. We need Iran to defeat ISIS, plain and simple.

This is a classic Barack Obama move. Joe Cool has been pussyfooting around with drones and “relief aid” and Special Forces for too long. He has to stick to his “no boots on the ground” rhetoric and continue to appear “weak” to hawks while also getting into the deep weeds with regards to Iraq. U.S. fingerprints will be all over the Iranian military thrust, eventually strengthened by lifted sanctions, in Iraq now. The Iran Deal comes with a secret détente no one to my knowledge had sussed out; these two nations have a common interest and a common enemy; thus speeding up the negotiations now more than ever.

And if this pisses off the Saudis who are currently fighting Iran in Yemen, all the better. This is should be their war, yet they insist on asking us to fight it. They had their chance. Fuck them.

So Obama gets his secret war against ISIS, which I have also vehemently opposed, seeing this is a cultural civil war that has nothing to do with us. This thing reeks of Ronald Reagan’s expedient support of Iraq in 1982, which did not end well for any of us.

But it isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last.

Read More

EQUALITY…OF COURSE

Aquarian Weekly
7/8/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

EQUALITY…OF COURSE

Let it be so marked that on June 26, 2015, 239 years after declaring the right to be free and sovereign to pursue life’s ambitions under the law, and not some theocratic monarchy, that we have once again embraced our truest nature as a nation; that we must never deny the rights we enjoy to our fellow citizens. For that is the day the U.S. Supreme Court, echoing its own prior ruling on this measure and every lower court that has been forced to observe it, that all the citizens of these United States will be granted the opportunities of all, regardless of sexual orientation, as did their fore-runners in race, religion, and gender. Homosexuals now join every one of us not born male, white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant, who were told we do not belong in the pantheon of Thomas Jefferson’s haughty dreams of all being equal, from his God to the compulsory halls of law, but eventually triumphed as you do.

gay_marriage

I write these words on the eve of commemorating our nation’s day of birth, July 4, 1776, a full dozen years before its official commencement, the ratifying of a national Constitution. It sacred words of law since amended to include so many more than it defended that late June day of 1788, not unlike the one that duly reflected its power and purpose 227 years later this past week almost to the day. When tested, it has endured. And its crowning achievement exists in the millions it has freed from the tyranny of discrimination through hatred, tradition, religion, and the will of the majority, which ultimately has nothing to do with whether you are entitled to the rights of someone who is not like you, the right to breathe free. That, Jefferson said, is settled by merely being human.

And so America, its concept, its majesty, its stubbornness, its clamor and furor and foundation, gets it right…again.

Eventually.

Because all we have to do as Americans is look to the history of our vaunted Declaration of Independence and the bloody insurrection that lasted nearly nine long years and its ensuing half-decade of debate and rancor that helped forge a Constitution that would be insufficient to raise its ambitions to Jefferson’s promise. It is why it took 73 years to bring forth the idea that some men being more equal than others (apologies to Orwell) was something America could not abide. Of course it took five more years of the most devastating war the nation has endured and 600,000 dead before America became an actuality. The last days of slavery and the eradication of the aborted Confederate States put the legal end to the discussion on who was denied the right to exist.

But of course this took another century before everyone was on board, commencing with the signing of the Civil Rights Act, which continued what the 41st Congress did five years after the Civil War by allowing African-Americans the right to cast a vote, the most binding of our democratic rights. During that time it took America 143 years to finally recognize the full rights of more than half its citizenry with the Constitution’s 19th Amendment, providing our women the right to a vote, nearly a century and a half after Jefferson’s notion about universal equality given not by the state but by simply being.

And now our homosexual brothers and sisters join our proud ranks, cementing a right that should never be provided by a state, but only protected by the state, these United States, a republic, not a theocracy, a rule of law, not the majority of discrimination. But know this; what happened on June 26, 2015 is not merely the end of something, but just the beginning of a whole other thing.

If what you have read above is not enough of a warning, you should be aware that there will be battles ahead. Those woefully unaware of what it is to be an American already pontificate and conspire on how to subjugate this right to marry as any law-abiding, tax-paying citizen may (check that, heterosexuals in prison can marry). It is happening now as I write this and will continue for many, many years, long after you are gone from the script and will be fought by your children and your children’s children. But at least they are now assured by law that they are not “less than” but “equal to”, and that is the whole and binding and spiritual point of June 26, 2015, which is a direct and proud descendent of July 4, 1776. It is the reason there is an America. In some twisted wrench of logic, it even makes all the other crap worth it.

But if I may throw in a humble bit of personal joy; I have made it mostly my ambition here in this space for over 12 years to make known the atrocity of our denying our citizens their inalienable rights. For some, I know, it seemed like every argument forged here would find its way back to this subject. But through it all, I held the strong and unwavering belief in this abomination being unconstitutional, and for that my ecstatic relief of June 26, 2015 knows no bounds. Trust me; my first gin on July 4 will have special meaning. And for that I thank one of my heroes, Kurt Vonnegut, whose prose one day, not sure when or what passage, some 15 years ago, woke me up to the sad fact that I had not spoken up, that I had not used this minor but sometimes effective pulpit to shout from the rafters the core elements of this crucial fight.

what happened on June 26, 2015 is not merely the end of something, but just the beginning of a whole other thing.

And I thank all who appreciated the effort and came around to my words and all of the gay news outlets and magazines who reprinted my rants on this latest battle in our tumultuous history. I even thank those whose opposition, however misguided, but sometimes salient (and you know how you are) arguments seemed to put at least some measure of intellect into what was ordinarily a pathetically stupid and sadly derivative counterpoint to this journey.

Freedom. Rights.

We get there eventually. It is frustrating and perplexing, but when it comes, it is damn glorious.

Read More

FLAGS ARE BULLSHIT

Aquarian Weekly
7/1/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

FLAGS ARE BULLSHIT
Or An Ornery Stroll Down Our Useless, Pathetic Clinging To Symbols

Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment.
– Mark Twain

My little swastika
My little swastika
You can do what you want
But I’m taking it back
It’s not yours anymore
It’s mine now

– Dan Bern

Flags are bullshit.

They are symbols and symbols are not reality and thus are bullshit.

nascar_confederate

Before you start your hissy fit, let’s not merely embrace the ranting of yours truly and instead head to the dictionary; the place where those who cling to or are threatened by symbols rarely tread. According to Merriam-Webster a symbol is “a material object representing something, often something immaterial.” Then a quick shift to “immaterial” brings us to “of no essential consequence; unimportant.” A flag is then a symbol and thus “immaterial” or “of no essential consequence and unimportant”. The Oxford Dictionary uses the word “abstract” in its definition – and “abstract” being something “existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.”

Can you imagine getting worked up over something with no concrete existence, the bogeyman, vampires, an insurance company with integrity, God?

Oh, shit, God. Right, that works us up.

But be that as it may, a flag is bullshit, like a weird haircut, lawn signs or tee shirts with pithy sayings. None of these things mean a thing. It’s akin to people crowding around a guy wearing a Michel Jordan jersey and wanting his autograph. Do people really believe this guy is Michael Jordan?

Votes, laws, actions; these are the things that sustain humanity.

Not flags.

Not symbols.

The swastika never did a damn thing. Neither did the crucifix. The Yankees interlocking NY never won a baseball game and heavy metal hand-horns never wrote, recorded or performed a single song. I just recently watched a brilliant documentary called Happy Valley on the Jerry Sandusky crimes, which were enabled and perpetuated by the entire institution of Penn State University for fifteen years. When I think of Penn State now, I personally think of a child-rape factory, but does that make everyone who goes to Penn State or represent the university pedophiles?

People who conflate the symbol with something actual and binding and/or are threatened by symbols or inspired by them are simply misguided. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that worshiping symbols can sometimes lead to great things; so more power to them. Still, sometimes this misguided worship can perpetuate violence. But make no mistake; these are just excuses for the greatness and violence, not causation.

This past week a white kid shot black people in the South. This used to be called Tuesday afternoon in the South. Now it is a national outrage. That is what is known as progress or what the dictionary defines as “a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage.” It is a slow, painful, abjectly embarrassing level of progress, but one that happened under the shadow of our beloved American flag, not the defunct, dishonored, terrorist, insurrectionist, anti-American symbol of the Confederate flag, which had its symbolic moment for around six years 150 years ago, before it was summarily defeated, humiliated, and left to the dustbin of history. However, for 90 years prior to the Civil War slavery boomed under the American flag. After the crushing of the Confederate South, Jim Crow happened under the American flag. Lynching happened under the American flag. Women denied the vote; American flag – illegal wars, assassinations, high political crimes, spying on and jailing of dissidents, marriage inequality, American flag. Does that make all Americans murderers of innocents, bigots, racists, tyrants?

This hubbub about the Confederate flag or streets in the South named after criminals and defenders of slavery is insane. There are monuments and airports and holidays dedicated to slave owners all over this country. The goddamn capital is named after a slave owner. It is impossible to have an America without slavery. Free labor and land grabs made America, a country stolen from someone else before our forefathers kicked those guys out. Slavery is, among many other misappropriations of humanity, forever a stain on our national soul. There is no coming back from this, or wiping it from our national psyche, and if you take away one symbol another feckless, misguided murderer will use something else, a film or a song or another kind of flag or symbol to justify violence.

You know what is far more dangerous and a pox on the idea of America than some bullshit flag? The sweeping eradication of planned parenthood centers in an overt attempt to subvert the law of the land or votes to prevent citizens from enacting their civil rights or laws that disenfranchise voters on some fantasy of voter fraud or other laws giving religious belief a reason to empower the open market to legally discriminate, all of it happening in the South right now, not 150 years ago, under the American flag.

Some people get riled up about these things – not enough of us, but some. But everyone, and I mean everyone, Republican, Democrat, Independent, you name it, get nuts about a fucking, stupid, meaningless piece of cloth with bars and stars on it. It would be like complaining that the surfing at Normandy Beach on D-Day was sub-par or the rain at Gettysburg was a bit dreary.

It’s akin to people crowding around a guy wearing a Michel Jordan jersey and wanting his autograph.

I’ll give you a prime example of this craziness. This week the president of the United States was making a larger point on symbols of racism having no bearing on actual racism by using the word “nigger.” People went sideways on the word. The word, not his actual point, became the story. This quite ironically made his point: The symbol (the word), not the actions of what that symbol purportedly represents, is a distraction. Nothing more. Like people thinking if we get rid of the “N” word all racism will cease or if we eradicate all the names of sports teams that use Native American terms or symbols we will somehow wipe away the horrible, criminal actions of the past that allow us to be here getting all worked up in the first place.

It is easier for us to get all righteous about the meaningless, like embracing or protesting the Confederate flag, because the meaningless doesn’t really exist, like arguing what Islam means in the grander scope of the violence in the Middle East. I argue Islam, like all religion throughout blood-soaked human history, is an excuse to perpetuate violence. I can find as many justifications for violence against infidels in the Bible, but it would simply be exploiting a symbol and attaching all of your reasons for doing whatever you do, good or bad, to it. But it is far from reality. It is merely a distraction from what we need to observe and contemplate as humans sharing this spinning sphere.

Flags are bullshit.

Read More

WELCOME (BACK) TO THE JUNGLE

Aquarian Weekly
6/17/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

WELCOME (BACK) TO THE JUNGLE

It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter terrorist threats to the United States.

– Excerpt from a letter accompanying a classified report to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate President Pro Tem Orrin Hatch, R-Utah this week from President Barack Obama

Uh oh.

If that little tidbit of information that escaped the red-alarm of the mainstream media obsessed with reality-show transgender announcements, presidential candidates with zero chance to ever be president 17 months from Election Day, and Lebron James doesn’t scare the living shit out of you then it damn well should.

Start being scared.

aumfjungle

The president went on to state that he would strongly consider “direct additional measures,” which more pointedly means expanding bases and additional troops could be deployed if needed.

Oooh-boy.

Our antiwar president is slowly being dragged into a giant mess we’ve already made of Iraq with the kind of “cautious” speak we’ve heard for a century around here from many a president citing national security to embroil us in a useless, unwinnable, soul-sucking, fund-sinking, bloody fray.

It began a few months back with “advisors” and “special forces”; buzz words for your kids coming back from some foreign desert sinkhole in bags or with stuff missing from their bodies. Just so we’re clear. Don’t want to miss the point of all these “advisors” and “special forces”.

Remember when the president announced a few months back to a dubious and overwhelming majority of war-weary Americans that this kind of thing was a mercy mission and a training exercise? This is translated as “See you in another quagmire, sports fans.”

Lock up your sons and daughters. It’s time to add more wounded that will be ignored and dead that will be forgotten.

We’re off to WAR again.

As if it ever ended or will ever end.

Granted, Barack Obama has cited the wildly sweeping 2001 AUMF, the bane of American foreign policy and arguably the sole reason there is an ISIS and a massive national deficit. It is the golden ticket for every U.S. president until the end of time to wage questionable military exercises all over the joint. He is well within his right and purview.

The egregious Authorization for Use of Military Force, a fancy piece of legislation titled Pub. L. 107-40 was codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001 and eventually signed into law by President George W. Bush on September 18, 2001. It gives the Patriot Act a run for its money and puts all this haughty talk for the past few years about presidential overreach into grim perspective.

You want presidential overreach, jack?

The AUMF, which Obama (the guy who in 2007 scoffed at these sort of tyrannical knee-jerk powers) mentioned directly in his letter, “authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001”. The authorization grants the president (any president) the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.”

What does ISIS have to do with 9/11?

What did Iraq have to do with 9/11?

What did Libya or Syria or Iran have to do with 9/11?

Glad you asked. It’s simple. It all does.

Why do you think former Vice President and godfather of Iraq madness, Dick Cheney was so hot and heavy about conflating Saddam Hussein with 9/11 – something that had credence due to faulty intelligence and Bush 41’s laughably unnecessary Kuwait war in 1990, but could not lead to war without the AUMF?

Why do you think every hawk in congress cites 9/11 when anything goes awry overseas, especially in the Middle East, and berate the president for “leading from behind” every time a firecracker goes off in the desert?

It is not to remind us of our weakness in the summer of 2001, how we felt invincible and untouchable for all the crazy shenanigans we pulled aboard for more than half a century fearing no consequence. It is strategic. It puts all missions under the guise of the AUMF, providing the kind of unchecked military power that even Abraham Lincoln would have found troubling.

Well, maybe not Lincoln. He went a little nuts. But that was our Civil War, not someone else’s. But the AUMF makes it, prompts it, cajoles it, nay, demands that it is ours.

The idea of 9/11 is no more a date in American history than a blank check for future actions against any threats that remind one of 9/11, like EVERYTHING.

All that crap the CIA pulled after WWII would have been so much easier if congress had not merely declared war on Japan and Germany in 1941, but simply said that any country that sees fit to 12/7 us or threats to 12/7 us is open game.

Blank check.

War.

Stick that in your “Don’t Tread on Me” pipe and inhale.

And so while we debate the merits of insane cops running amok or whatever middling crap we can dig up on Dr. Ben Carson, who is a pathetic side-show to our already insipid presidential politics, our president is once again thrusting this nation into another war it cannot win and will likely only exacerbate its incendiary status.

Lock up your sons and daughters. It’s time to add more wounded that will be ignored and dead that will be forgotten.

Think I’m simply an anti-war whiner? A cynic?

Fair enough: Let’s examine the facts of how there came to be an ISIS in the first place.

After the Iranian overthrow of the puppet tyrant the United State implanted in 1979, ignoring the democratic wishes of yet another in a long line of oil rich nations, we began arming auxiliary tyrant Saddam Hussein’s Baathist soldiers to combat it. These are the same soldiers that rumbled into Kuwait in August of 1990, prompting the Gulf War, which helped to build the case for al Queda (the terrorist outfit led by Osama bin Laden mobilized from the CIA-created Mujahideen that fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and were later abandoned when we no longer needed them, grew predictably and stridently anti-American, and bombed American foreign installations and ships in the late-‘90s) to unleash the 9/11 attacks. These are also many of the same soldiers that today (with American weapons) make up ISIS.

And you know who our ally in all this is now?

Iran.

So, now with all of that whiz-bang success from arming rebels and propping up corrupt regimes and our spectacularly disastrous foreign military-led policy of the past 15 years, we once again go slowly down the path of self-destruction.

Don’t be afraid of ISIS.

Or Iran, the Affordable Care Act, Caitlyn Jenner, Wall Street.

Be afraid of “additional measures”.

Be very afraid.

Read More

GOODBYE PATRIOT ACT

Aquarian Weekly
6/10/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

GOODBYE PATRIOT ACT
Hello USA Freedom Act

And so the odious unconstitutional boondoggle merrily passed into law during the über paranoia of 9/11 and renewed time and again for 14 long years is gone. We say goodbye to the Patriot Act, one of the most intrusively open-ended pieces of legislation ever considered by a feckless knee-jerk congress since the generation-damaging Volstead Act. It’s very name a stain on its harbinger for what we have come to expect from all this “Don’t Tread On Me” rhetoric – the same jackasses carrying this glorious flag have no problem with their government spying on them, just don’t provide them health care. What a joke we are and have been lo these many years of pre-war trade-in on our civil rights for the fog of safety, from the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the jailing and deporting of German citizens during WWI and Japanese citizens during WWII to the FBI spying and CIA tampering with anti-war groups during the Viet Nam fiasco, we will eat any shit given us.
House Republicans Discuss Climate-Gate And Copenhagen Summit
And eat it we did for a decade and a half, and many of us – me included – didn’t seem to care. Why should I care? I break the law around here hourly. I have so much contraband at the Clemens Estate it would take a team of prosecutors months to dissect it. I have been open about my malfeasance and I have hung my “Don’t Tread On Me” flag proudly at every camp we have called home since the Putnam Bunker in the early-to-late 1990s. No one has ever harassed me. I am a middle-aged white man living in the woods with no priors. I am a working member of the Fourth Estate with skeleton-packed closet and blood on my pen. I treat NYC as a social experiment in spectacular abuses best kept off the pages of this paper and anywhere on the Internet, including the places where openly declaring that you yearn to cook and eat women can get you life in prison.

And I put it all in print with my name under it.

I welcome spying, as I welcome most of my unconstitutional miasma, which is why I cannot help but be surprised when anyone is shocked at the level of power and scope we have given our government, both local and federal, since Andrew Jackson told the Supreme Court to fuck itself and start the institutional migration of the Native Americans he couldn’t kill.

We are already choked by laws. Many of them keep us from killing ourselves and others. I have never believed in these, per se, more like tolerate them. Free Thinkers and the Evolved scoff at your petty morals (thank you, Keith Richards). We openly mock the diseased conditions that lead to things like Sharia Law or the PMRC or whatever crap Pat Roberson conjures or what con men like Mike Huckabee think you should be doing with your body. Fuck Mike Huckabee. He is a goober and a religious zealot and his kind is dying out and they know it, so they step out every four years to remind us of what it would be like if more of these cretins had the power to make us just like them.

Ah, but I digress.

Back to the lovely Patriot Act.

We now rest easy knowing our dick pics are safe from prying Big Brother.

Suddenly some gutless weasel who signed up to spy on us decides it’s a bit too much spying for his like, so he flees the country and at first anonymously unleashes all the collected data – including highly classified information – he’d stolen to the press in the guise of “whistle blowing”. In turn, the NY Times erroneously published secrets detrimental to the health and well being of Americans in harm’s way. Instead of standing his ground and going through the proper channels of the law, like the heroic Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1970 tried (in vain, but he tried) to persuade several senators of the crimes being perpetuated in the name of freedom by the United States abroad before going to the NY Times, and then stayed here to take his medicine and prove his position. Fuck Edward Snowden. I like my dissidents to take it standing strong, not cutting and running like Jesse James. Give me Jesus of Nazareth or Gandhi or Emma Goldman or Lenny Bruce any day, any week.

Now we’re all appalled? Right Wing to the Left Wing, we can finally agree on something and that something is the tip of the overreach iceberg, and you know what, this new USA Freedom Act has plenty of stuff in there that’s unconstitutional. As my good friend, Doc Buzz once mused, “Who’s kiddin’ who?”

I will give the USA Freedom Act one thing; it is the first time in a billion years a government has passed a law reducing its power. It has never happened in this country or on this planet to be fair. But it did this week. And that is news.

And so goodbye Patriot Act.

We now rest easy knowing our dick pics are safe from prying Big Brother.

Until the next thing blows up and then you’ll be glad to give blood samples to buy gum.

Read More

ELIZABETH WARREN UNLEASHED

Aquarian Weekly
5/27/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

ELIZABETH WARREN UNLEASHED

Elizabeth Warren is what makes writing about politics interesting. She is the Democrats answer to Ted Cruz. She represents the polar end of a national party and can and will make waves to muck up the works when she can. In the end, though, her voice will be watered down by the legislative process. The progress of her times, as well as Ted Cruz’s, will go on. She will have made a point and she will live with her uncompromising street cred intact.Elizabeth Warren

Unlike Cruz and the right wing TEA Party he purports to represent – a sort of but not quite new fangled movement that shares the undertone of opposition for the current president and his policies, more specifically the ACA, which ushered this new wave in during the 2010 mid-terms – Warren is an old-fashioned liberal. She is dyed in the wool pro-labor, pro-regulation, pro-national education, and all the things that have become less fashionable in the past twenty years or so. This is why I laugh when people call Barack Obama a lefty. Lefties in the 1970s were lefties. It’s like calling Ronald Reagan a right-winger now. Reagan is a liberal compared to Ted Cruz, whereas Warren though would fit right in with Ted Kennedy.

And that brings me to Warren’s big move against her party’s president during this inner-party kerfuffle regarding Obama’s hot-and-heavy pursuit of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is the latest in a string of trade agreements proffered by presidents since the first Bush in the late 1980s. Since then it seems like everyone has had to pitch one. None of them seem to be total slam-dunks. In many ways they have hit the working class hard, specifically the organized labor front. Even staunch conservatives have barked about trade agreements that almost always benefit the other nations. Pat Buchanan famously ran amok in the streets of Seattle during the WTO protests that turned into riots in 1999. “Now you might not have seen me, but I was out there at the Battle of Seattle,” he puffed to me when running for president as an independent in 2000. “I was out there all five days. The WTO didn’t see me because I was disguised as a sea turtle moving around the imperial troops.”

Buchanan, who I hear from now and then with pithy commentary for my work, is an old-fashioned conservative. He is the one chuckling at Ted Cruz the way the president chuckled at Elizabeth Warren for two weeks when he was pressed by the media to respond to why she was very loudly telling rally after rally that Obama was screwing the working man and being “secretive” about his little trade deal. The president candidly struck back in interviews and his own stumping, saying, “Elizabeth and me are friends and we agree on a host of issues, accept apparently this one. And I have to say she’s got it wrong this time.”

You got the feeling that, as is his wont with many of the distended voices on the right, Obama tried shrugging this off until the vote came in and Warren successfully – mind you a lot more successfully than Cruz’s 400 votes to eradicate the ACA or his entertainingly flaccid filibuster routines – got the issue to a debate on the senate floor. Suddenly the shrugs became anger. You can tell by the way the White House responded to Warren that they considered this an affront – for awhile what was “She’s mistaken that we’re not transparent on the details of the deal” became “She is lying.” Obama called one of the more endearing and combative Democrats, a woman for whom the extreme left wants dearly to run for president in 2016 against the other more formidable woman, a liar. And worse yet the president called her the most damning moniker around these days; “a politician. “She’s a politician like everyone else.”

Interesting.

Make no mistake; Obama is getting his trade deal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell loves it. He all but smooched the president’s ass on the floor of congress last week and couldn’t care less if staunch anti-trade voices in his party were bitching. He “commends” the president on his bravery to face down the radical wing of his party, something McConnell has failed to do at every turn. This is a man who boldly announced forty days into Obama’s presidency that his job was to make him a one-term president. He failed at that too.

But McDonnell and Obama, strange bedfellows for the TPP, will win out. Maybe they should. I have no idea how this thing is coming out, like we had no idea how Iraq was going to come out or the ACA or really anything. But this does not change the fact that Warren has gone rogue and she has plenty of supporters.

She will have made a point and she will live with her uncompromising street cred intact.

Now Warren (Senator from Massachusetts – as Blue as a Blue State could be) may reek of Ted Kennedy’s brand of liberalism, but she also appeals to the Ron Paul wing of the Democratic Party. All those young people who hung onto Paul’s anti-military, anti-inefficient government stuff – something his son has chucked – flock to Warren. According to them she has fought the good fight because she is uncompromising, another dirty word in politics these days. And maybe it should be. It can get you momentum, serious mojo among the “fed up” and there are always plenty of those.

I’m reminded of something the great H.L. Mencken mused about Calvin Coolidge; “Half the people hate him and other half hate those who hate him, but they don’t comprise any portion that actually supports him.” I loathe paraphrasing a friggin’ genius, but I have no time to look it up. You do it.

I do have time for one more comment; Elizabeth Warren is interesting, because she may be the first person in a long time that has captured some kind of bygone sense of populist liberalism that’s not simply Keynesian, tempered by pragmatic professorial think-tanks of mortified inaction or works at MSNBC. But, alas, she’s like that kid pitcher who takes the majors by storm and gets big headlines and then sort of fades away, as if he never was and you miss him, but you move on; the political version of Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. He was damn interesting. That lasted a summer. But oh what a summer it was.

Look it up. Gotta go.

Read More

BALTIMORE IS BURNING‏

Aquarian Weekly
5/6/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

BALTIMORE IS BURNING

Beat-up little seagull
On a marble stair
Tryin’ to find the ocean
Lookin’ everywhere

Hard times in the city
In a hard town by the sea
Ain’t nowhere to run to
There ain’t nothin’ here for free

“Baltimore”, Randy Newman

At some point cops will stop killing black guys and black neighborhoods will stop ending up in flames. Not sure when that will be; maybe when my daughter (now seven) will be around to see it. Hard to tell. Hope so. Who knows?

I know I’ve written more than a little on this subject now for a couple of grim years. Most of it centers on my harshly cynical view of humanity; all that stuff about hatred and violence and the silly notion that society can quell this bubbling genetic combustion or you know…what will become of us? All that stuff that seems to be obvious and hardly worth noting, but somehow escapes the noisy vox populi and the overly hyped redundant punditry.

A Baltimore Metropolitan Police transport vehicle burns during clashes in Baltimore

We choose to ignore our baser instincts and go with the more “better angels” thing. I get that. I do. Like that movie with the kid and the tiger on the boat; which story would you choose to believe if you had the choice?

Then there is this useless search for answers. Is there a serviceable answer that would suffice; with any of this?

But I think on this occasion I bring some personal experience, because even the African-American community is finding it difficult to spin the mass riot in Baltimore, Maryland this week into something of a fair response to the mysterious death of another black kid by white cops.

You see, about 11 years ago I walked to the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in downtown Baltimore one afternoon with my parents and my wife. This was the first and only time I felt real, gripping fear. It was also the most disturbing level of abject poverty and destitution I have ever witnessed, and I have been to New Orleans and Israel.

Now mind you I’ve escaped some harrowing shit before. A few lowlights would be threatened at knife point at a Rolling Stones concert behind some alleyway in Hartford, Connecticut, weird vibrations at a slum bizarre in Barcelona, Spain, a quizzically half-day gypsy cab ride around the more alarmingly remote corners of Freeport, Bahamas, extremely dangerous teenaged vehicular machinations in the shotgun seat of a rusted-out 1965 Mustang in Freehold, NJ, some “bat-wielding” incident of my own making in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, an agonizingly long and perilous walk around the Old City of Jerusalem with helicopters hovering less than two hundred feet above my head, (not to mention having wandered wittingly into a Bedouin hutch), whatever it is I barely survived on the Jersey Shore 20 years ago this summer with some hedonistic rock band bent on destroying my compromised constitution, Catholic grammar school nuns, Disney World. I even managed to survive picking fights with Italian girlfriends when they were hungry.

Still, choosing to usher my family through the burned-out, boarded-up streets in downtown Baltimore with the most desperate and angry looking people I have had the misfortune (or maybe fortune, because I think once in all of our American lives, we should see this kind of arresting social and economic horror) to witness. It is the kind of “backed into a corner” vista that breeds a level of frustration that torches a CVS over something the cops may or may not have done.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that this is less a race thing than a poverty thing, which is far more prevalent in this year of our Lord 2015 than it has been in some time visa vie the soon-to-be mantra of the 2016 presidential race on both sides of the ideological aisle; income inequality. Add to that social inequality, educational inequality, health care inequality, you name it.

Now, the history of civilization is bloated with incidents of the have-nots rising up and causing mayhem for the have’s and these inner-city outbursts lately that begin with a call for justice and end up in total violent chaos is a comment on the idea of “nothing left to lose”, a mentality of the cornered animal that is not beneath us. And for further proof that Baltimore may be the template for more to come – because I think this one trumps Ferguson by a long shot – is the glaringly putrid statistics that cry out to be studied.

It is our reminder that places like Baltimore and Detroit and dozens of cities and towns across the U.S. in the richest most economically solvent nation in the world have been left to rot.

Baltimore’s decline, which has been steadily sinking since the 1980s, interrupted by the construction of Inner Harbor, which is only a few blocks from the pathetically Third-World conditions I witnessed in 2004, has perhaps reached its saturation point. The city’s unemployment rate is nearly double the national average and among the city’s African Americans it hovers around 30 percent. The high school graduation rate among inner city blacks is among the lowest in the country. Thus the crime rate is one of the highest of any city; its legend exploited in pop culture the way The French Connection, Taxi Driver and Death Wish cast a pall on the devolution of New York City in the 1970s, with the acclaimed The Wire series about destitute crime-ridden neighborhoods patrolled by corrupt and violent cops. Art reflected reality; since 2011 the city has doled out some six million dollars in court settlements to victims of police abuse.

So the question should not be, what the hell just happened in Baltimore?, it really should be, how did this not happen sooner and why doesn’t it happen weekly?

Baltimore has not benefitted from anything; social programs, budget cuts, a stringent police presence, outreach programs, the corporate explosion of the 1980s, the booming 1990s economic surge, the housing bubble of the 2000s or the slowly emerging economic recovery since 2009. It is our reminder that things are never “all rosy” around here. It is our reminder that places like Baltimore and Detroit and dozens of cities and towns across the U.S. in the richest most economically solvent nation in the world have been left to rot.

Last week our African American president rightfully pointed out that the U.S. economy is the strongest among any in the western hemisphere. It has come back faster than Europe by a long shot. Things are way better now than they were when the entire financial system was on the brink of total annihilation in the fall of ’08, which ushered him in into the White House in the first place. But none of this has come close to putting a dent into what is the “Baltimore Problem”, and I am in no position to suggest how it can be “solved”.

But one thing I have learned from this week is that while this eruption may in several ways have been the result of race, police, urban, sociological or even political issues, it is first and foremost economic.

Read More

IRAN: SO FAR AWAY‏

Aquarian Weekly

4/29/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

IRAN: SO FAR AWAY
With Apologies to the Ayatollah and Flock of Seagulls

Here’s hoping that a deal can be nailed down with Iran over its nuclear capabilities. Not sure what that deal would be or how it would eventually be stricken, but it is the best course of action now. Not in a few years or when we get a perfect one or whatever, but now.

There will never be a better time to get Iran to capitulate.

Irantalks_600

And it doesn’t matter who is president or who runs congress or what type of religious fanatic heads that god-forsaken shit-hole, but this needs to happen and happen as soon as possible.

Due to the collapsing oil market (its chief export), and crippling sanctions, Iran’s economy is in shambles. It is embroiled in (at least) a two-front war against ISIS in Iraq and what amounts to Saudi Arabia in Yemen. And while I think our involvement in that skirmish is misguided to say the least (for this space is on record as being vehemently against the Saudis in every way, shape or form and cannot believe to this day they don’t get more shit for 9/11, but okay, I guess oil is important and I’ll shut up about our hypocrisy in the Middle East, blah blah blah) it has drained Iran of its resources for war and terror.

There is also a real sense now that unless a deal can be worked out, there will be a proxy or outright war with Iran this country does not need, support for Israel or not. It is a war that cannot be won and one we cannot afford, and that, by the way, an overwhelming number of Americans oppose. Aside from tough-talking hawks who NEVER and I mean NEVER send their kids to war, this is a solution that is doomed to fail and because of that it is complete a deal or it is war, and that is it.

Sure, there could be war anyway, say if the Iranians do what Saddam Hussein did for decades and just pussy-foot around with weapons inspectors, but hey, we now know that Hussein was bluffing. Why? To keep the Iranians out of Iraq. Why do you think we propped his sorry ass up there in the first place? The vacuum created by Dick Cheney’s folly has given Iran full reign to their borders and for this they cannot be blamed. However, that is merely the threat of war, wherein without a deal war is imminent. Unless we are not entirely honest about preventing Iran to get a nuclear weapon, which in that case is another discussion.

This brings me to the childish notion that an imperfect deal means no deal. The very concept of a deal means both parties have to leave the table unsatisfied. Every deal known to civilization carries with it this caveat. The last time we screwed around demanding the perfect deal with Iran it went ahead and expanded its capabilities for nuclear weaponry by hundreds of centrifuges.

And finally it is nutso to claim that perhaps years from now a deal may come back and haunt us and so on and so on. Really? Neo-cons are making this argument? Haven’t we placated every nation in the Middle East over the decades for immediate gain, ignoring the long term ramifications, like Afghanistan to stop the Soviets and Iraq to stop the Iranians and please don’t make me name all these, you know what I’m talking about. It is the most specious of arguments against a deal. No deal is permanent and situations change with the times, but trust me the time for a deal has come.

What also makes the timing for the finalizing of a deal with Iran is the bitch-slap the U.S Navy just delivered on its wayward fleet this week. It is always easy for bullies to talk tough, until there is an actual showdown, and in many ways that is what happened in the Arabian Sea this week. Iran not only blinked, it closed its eyes and went home humbled. This is all you need to know about what Iran is willing to endure on the world stage. It is no longer speculation. It is a nation in dire need to make a deal and it is in the best interest of the region that one is struck immediately.

There will never be a better time to get Iran to capitulate.

Make all your lesser points for and against a deal with Iran. Go ahead. I am sure they are all salient. Here is mine, and it will not change; we must not be in any position to have to back up international diplomacy with the threat of war again for at least a generation, if ever. Least of all there should be no consideration to perpetuating such madness in the same region we just screwed up so severely it may take half a century to quell, if at all.

We have to stop thinking we hold all the cards all the time. We don’t Not here. Not now. If anything, we should be damned grateful Iran is on the ball of its economic and war-torn ass. Yes, we must be the more gracious of the two nations. Yes, we have to trust-and-verify. And yes, we have to avoid anymore wars.

We make this deal.

Now.

Read More
Page 12 of 46« First...«1011121314»203040...Last »