GERALD FORD?

Aquarian Weekly 1/10/07
REALITY CHECK

GERALD FORD?

History is a myth that men agree to believe. – Napoleon

For some sad reason only known to the gods of misfortune, I found myself listening to the “Imus In The Morning” radio broadcast sometime during the surreally long week of funeral events surrounding the passing of our 38th Gerry Footballpresident. Our pal, Mike Barnicle, of Fabricated Story fame, was unabashedly stating that all this talk 33 years ago about “a deal” regarding Gerald Ford’s pardoning of Richard Nixon was patently false and in fact “may have been one of the most heroic deeds in modern presidential history”. The colossal absurdity of this nonsense sent a stinging stream of coffee to the back of my throat. I was flummoxed, or as flummoxed as a hard-ass cynic could be. It was a stunning observation even for Barnicle, world-famous for stupidity. It was then, as I struggled to get my vehicle under control, that I planned on writing this rebuttal.

Believe me when I tell you I had no intention of wasting two paragraphs on the human doorstop that was Gerald Rudolf Ford or his misnomer presidency. The whole terrible fiasco had safely slumbered in my memory banks like a hazy college speed binge. The images were vague if not frightening. I recollect something about a puppet man holding the fort after the 37th president torched the U. S. Constitution, but it was fuzzy and disquieting, and I chose to let it go, make my peace with the whole debacle. Heal.

Yes, and then the old fart had to up and croak and I couldn’t turn on a network or cable news show for 150 hours without some dink waxing poetic about Ford’s dubious legacy. But I even ignored that, understanding that there’s nothing us humans love more than belaboring burials, honoring our country, and/or reconfiguring unpleasant history by constructing beloved myths. Why I even heard one of Saddam Hussein’s kids talking about how much he loved the family pooch. Sure, and Hitler loved his dog too. Loved it so much he fed it cyanide so it wouldn’t have to watch daddy shoot himself.

Look, respecting the dead and supporting the grieving is one thing, but a complete revision of history is the worst kind of sin. This hooey about Gerald Ford doing anything approaching “heroic” or the blind patronization of his freeing a criminal as “healing the country” or the meaningless celebration of he being “a regular guy” is as maudlin and saccharine and silly as it gets. How anyone chooses to sooth the pain of loss is none of my business, to each, his own. Here’s where I get involved: When grieving and flowery speeches replace hard news and cold fact.

Reality Check, baby.

Gerald Ford? His wife did more for this country by guzzling turpentine.

Here’s all you have to know about Gerald Ford: He was the ultimate team player, a Football Guy. He took one for the team soon after the Kennedy Assassination and once again after Richard Nixon made a mockery of governance. Gerry was our sacrificial lamb, saluting bravely and keeping his mouth shut like a good capo. He was a cover all his life, a beard for the awful things that needed to be done to stay the American course. He may just as well have worked for Tony Soprano.

How anyone chooses to sooth the pain of loss is none of my business, to each, his own. Here’s where I get involved: When grieving and flowery speeches replace hard news and cold fact.

And I would have gladly returned the favor. Kept it under raps. Let the boy off the hook: Poor bastard, what could he do? They offered him the vice presidency to keep the Republican Party from closing shop for good. Protect the country from the Big Bad Commies. This was his sworn duty.

Ford and his Democrat buddy, power-broker Tip O’Neill, along with Al (“I’m in charge now!”) Haig laid the groundwork to get Nixon the hell out of a mutilated White House and set him free to wander the beaches of Sacramento like some kind of doddering madman who’d been haunted by gremlins and beaten by ego. O’Neill and his cronies would never have allowed a beast like Spiro Agnew anywhere near the title of chief executive. He was a hateful creature and did everyone a favor by defrauding the government and evading taxes. Haig? Well, old Al made a deal with the devil; let’s leave it there. And good ol’ Gerry, the Team Player, played ball.

Nothing wrong with any of it, mind you. It’s politics as usual. Covered weekly in this space. Well documented in the annals of time. I’m sure Gerry Ford was a nice guy, good father, and an upstanding citizen with many fine qualities. He worked hard as a congressman, served the Navy well in the Big War, did the Shriners proud. But it pales in comparison to his decision to push the whole Watergate disaster under the rug, make like it never happened. Smile and go on.

Very nice. Very brave. Very weak. Very gutless.

You decide. Just don’t make shit up.

Republicans, however, should erect shrines to Gerald Ford. He did stem the tide of total extinction. People forget the utter black hole that was the final months of the Nixon Administration, or whatever was left of it. The entire episode teetered on constitutional crisis. I laugh every time I hear a badly conceived comparison to it, as if Clinton getting hummers and lying under oath or Baby Bush trumping up faulty intelligence to avenge daddy’s enemy could ever approach the atrocity of Richard M. Nixon. By all rights the entire Grand Old Party should have gone the way of the Whigs in his wake. But to his credit, Ford stopped the bleeding.

Not so sure his tourniquet was so good for the rest of us, but it did spare Nixon from justice and help elect Ronald Reagan and two Bushes.

But then Gerry was always adept at keeping his finger in the damn. He did it quite well as one of the chosen few to sit on the Warren Commission; a quickly cobbled smokescreen to fill whatever unsightly holes pocked the JFK assassination. Many would argue the group still stands as the focal point in one of the grandest of cover-ups, others may bandy about its rush to judgment to keep the wolves at bay, or at least Fidel Castro at bay. Either way you look at it, the Warren Commission, of which Gerald R. Ford was the last surviving member, took one for the team. Swept out the nastiness, shooed away the curious, and glossed over the glaring incongruities of shady doings, helping the nation “heal” from the shock of a fallen leader.

So Ford was, in the end, the perfect caretaker of a wounded federal government and the savior of saviors for the Republican Party. But this does not make him a national hero. It doesn’t make him a villain either. He just was. A cog in the great machinery of government. Another in the long line of parts grinding along.

Final word on Gerald Ford: He just was.

Sorry Barnicle. Sorry network geeks. Sorry revisionists.

And that’s the unremarkable truth.

Go ahead and twenty-one-gun salute that, I’ll finish my coffee.

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Iraq Study Group Report Dissected

Aquarian Weekly 12/13/06 REALITY CHECK

PUNCHLINE IRAQ Study Group Report Final Nail In Bush’s War Coffin

“Grave and deteriorating.”

“Decades to play out.”

“Enough troops are simply not available.”

“Withdrawal would only lead to bloodbaths.”

Ouch.

Light ReadingThe above are just some of the ominous lowlights strewn along the 142-page Iraq Study Group Report released the first week of December to what can only be described as the walking corpse of a presidency.

“The ability for the United States to influence events is diminishing.”

Thud.

There is the end, and then there is THE END. In Iraq, now, we have hit the latter. For all purposes of intent, the presidency of George W. Bush is finished. He will wait it out for two more innocuous years because of constitutional law, nothing more. Everything he bet his gig on has gone belly up. The check has been cashed. The piper is due. The die lies still on the table. It is over. Way over. Too late, the hero.

“Humanitarian catastrophe.”

Crash. Boom. Bang.

It is Tuesday morning and the gambling axioms tumble down – the back-door cover never came, the horse did not place, the bluff failed. Here comes the bookie. His humor left home, his rancor full-bore. Here stands the leader of the free world without another penny to wager, our penny, stuck in his hand like the harbinger of midnight. Captain Shoo-In’s fancy coach is officially a rancid pumpkin.

There are no more alleys to turn into on this one. First it was ties to 9/11, then a cadre of Weapons of Mass Destruction. When that didn’t stick it was toppling an evil regime in an unstable area. Then it was restructuring the region with democracy. Then it cleverly morphed into “Stay The Course Or Lose Miserably”, doom and gloom, utter chaos unless we see it through. Then the tried-and-true Losers Quit-Americans Stand Tall. But all of it seems like some kind of sick joke now. Historians will scratch their heads. “The Boy President had his chance,” they will say. “One chance to grab destiny, and he tragically fumbled it away.”

The walls are closing in now and the allies are few and far between. The architect of this disaster in Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld, is long gone, sent packing while the administration leaks lame memos from the fallen demagogue as if there was some queer notion he was horny with reality after six years of swearing to fantasy. The rough-and-tumble UN bully, John Bolton, is also toast, his brash house-cleaning nothing but a flaccid pecker-waving exercise in futility. Nothing has changed, except, of course, his forwarding address.

The big-time hawks are now running scared too, their plans sullied, their mighty rhetoric flayed. Gnashing of teeth is in vogue at the Pentagon these days, where they are heard weeping down the corridors, each one of them wondering what the hell happened? How did we, the strongest, richest, nation on earth wage a war so ineptly, so myopically, as to render what was a wounded, vengeful, united nation into a mass war protest? This was a popular war, now it appears to be the worst kind of murderous sham.

I knew that incredible pile of bullshit about Axis Of Evil was dumb, but now it looks like something out of a world-class charlatan snake-oil rap, and if the only way to save face in Iraq left us is to suck up to Iran than just torch the damn place and get the fuck out.

Shock & Awe to Shame & Angst.

Not an easy ride to the bottom. It took screw-ups of the most stupendous kind. Everything and everyone failed. It is a slam-dunk, to use a most-unfortunate phrase. There is not one party, not one faction of this federal government, not to blame on this one, a bottomless sinkhole of guilt.

You want to know how badly things have gotten? The Iraq Study Group is not only suggesting but clamoring for an alliance with Iran. An alliance with Iran? If that isn’t the final tolling bell of defeat nothing is. Iran is bankrolling, instigating, and perpetuating the worst of the sectarian violence in Iraq. The second Saddam Hussein went kaput the Iran party train was tooting into the station. Now, after nearly 3,000 American troops dead and thousands upon thousands of innocents slaughtered and maimed, we are going to pow-wow with proudly belligerent terrorist loons salivating to turn the planet into a Jew-killing spree?

Wow.

I knew that incredible pile of bullshit about Axis Of Evil was dumb, but now it looks like something out of a world-class charlatan snake-oil rap, and if the only way to save face in Iraq left us is to suck up to Iran than just torch the damn place and get the fuck out. It is an absolute slap in the face of anything resembling honorable and decent, a complete ramrod ass-ream to the American people, whether they be staunchly ant-war or blindly gung-ho.

There is no way this government can justify a scintilla of the past three-plus years of this foul mistake with that kind of move. I dare Junior to cop to it and get out of town with a shred of legacy beyond humiliated goober, his scarred credibility shackled like Houdini in a water-box.

The incoming Secretary of Defense went screwy the other day in front of Congress admitting there was no way we are winning the war; a war, by the way, we already won but then was suckered by some half-baked idea to rebuild the country and use the United States military as some kind of traffic-cop force stuck inside a cultural abattoir. The brain-damaged elite even cheered the Gates performance. This is the final resting place for foreign policy – the pundit-intelligentsia doing back-flips of joy over the new defense czar taking one for the team.

If the Bush track record with study groups is any indication (please refer to the 9/11 Commission’s ignored recommendations for three consecutive years) then there are going to be a lot of disappointed people around here. But election results, firings, and a host of scurrying bigmouths are a persuasive avenue to changing policy. When ten bipartisan think-tank dignitaries, who have served four presidents, compile, in print, every war decision you have made and stab gaping holes in them all, there is time to pause.

The joke is over.

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Dems Sweep, GOP Weeps

Aquarian Weekly 11/15/06 REALITY CHECK

DEMS SWEEP, GOP WEEPS Angry Voters Shift Balance Of Power & Scold Confounded President

Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war; That this foul deed shall smell above the earth With carrion men, groaning for burial. – William Shakespeare

Shock & AweThe scorn of the final tally is fierce. When motivated, the electorate can be predatory, and election results, a thing of brutal beauty. On November 7, 2006, do not let it be said that the rail was not long and the ride not swift. Republican ass was systematically booted, a tenderized morsel masticated and spit out by the American voter like so much chum. The finality of it, a cold dish of dizzying trauma, signals it is not merely over, but really over, so completely and utterly over that it is hard to fathom without grave contemplation – a flogging worthy of historical record. Defeat pure, concussive and lasting; a degrading experience in every way.

What transpired in this Midterm Election, a national referendum on folly, malfeasance and war, will be dissected for years this way: For the first time in six election cycles one party thoroughly obliterated the other for reasons of legislative ineffectualness and the repeated and pathetic failures of the executive order. Many careers went belly up. Reputations were desecrated. No witnesses dared deny the hurt.

There are only two examples in the last half century to equal the beating the Republicans took last Tuesday, the Midterm elections of 1946 and 1994, both GOP landslide victories against first-term Democratic presidents, one who did not want to be president in the first place, and told everyone so, Harry Truman, and the other, a loose cannon, Bill Clinton, who only became president because of a bleating little troll called Ross Perot.

Let’s face it folks, there is Midterm backlash in the normally dysfunctional second term of a president, a well-known American tradition, and then there is the absolute and crushing devastation George W. Bush endured those last excruciatingly painful hours of Election Day, 2006.

Do you have any idea how striking and total the Democratic storm to the House of Representatives and, even more stunningly, the Senate is to political junkies like yours truly? Do you realize how difficult it is for the Democrats to now be sitting on a 30-plus- seat blow out after a decade of wild redistricting and gerrymandering? Jesus, man, if not for that, the Democrats may have captured 50 seats.

Defeat pure, concussive and lasting; a degrading experience in every way.

After the dismantling of what was left of the Democratic Party following its doomed 2004 presidential bid, could anyone with half a brain have predicted this kind of vicious throttling? Maybe a slight shift of power in the House, but this?

And the Senate? Not a single soul on either side of the political fence could have seen this coming. Even now it is unconscionable to swallow an entrenched redneck like George Allen Jr., once the darling of the Grand Old Party, and glassy-eyed dreamer for the White House in 2008, losing to a nobody anti-war geek like Jim Webb in Virginia! Nor is it the least bit conceivable that an ultra-conservative state like Montana, and even much of Pennsylvania, and the normally Republican-stronghold of Ohio, would allow their GOP candidates to be summarily dismissed at such a dizzying rate.

Around 10:30 on Election Night, the groaning visage of a beaten and ravaged Ken Mehlman, Chairman of Republican National Committee, became the symbol of the evening’s humiliation. He could barely cobble together a sensible reaction to the whole thing. His party coming apart at the seams, he appeared on television like a man standing helplessly by as a gang of street thugs raped his pet and keyed his Beemer. And no one with an ounce of sympathy could blame him. Long-time, high-functioning representatives like Anne Northup and purported senatorial lifers like Rick Santorum were being snowed under, rejected, as if they had been caught in some horrible set-up, jacked by Ashton Kutcher for cheap laughs.

Later, Tom Delay, poster-child for corruption personified, made shameful public attempts to undercut what was fast becoming a thrashing so embarrassing he’d be lucky to have his parking validated on K Street after midnight. His failure was absolute, but not as finite as former Golden Boy, Karl Rove, who was found early Wednesday morning skulking around Georgetown simpering like a wounded dog. His only friends were winners, and when their gravy train derailed, they left him to toll the final bell like Hugo’s Hunchback.

The most stunning fallout of this dramatic shift of power was the immediate erosion of the formerly unyielding firewall of a president who conducted a bizarre post-game press conference as if emerging from a car wreck. Disoriented and puzzled, the artist formerly known as Captain Shoo-In sold three years of steadfast support for “staying the course” or the other nonsense his vice president spewed recently about “full speed ahead” on the Iraq policy by sacking Donald Rumsfeld and agreeing to hear a “fresh perspective” on the war effort.

Through the looking glass and over the rainbow, the Cowboy Prince appointed dissenting voice, and former George Bush Sr. advisor, Robert Gates to Secretary of Defense. Then, in a moment usually reserved for outlandish soap opera twists, announced he would conference with the pragmatic realists over at the James Baker Institute for further advisement.

Sources close to the cold-cocked administration reported finding the remains of Dick Cheney clutching his chest in an insignificant, almost emasculated lump on the Oval Office floor.

The very sight of Democrats bigwigs like future House Speaker, and Liberal viper, Nancy Pelosi dancing like conquering Vikings on televisions across the nation had quite obviously disoriented the Bush Team. No one within ten blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue was even willing to admit there was an election until Howard Dean, vehement opposition to the Iraq War for three years, started squawking about how the new Congress needs to be careful not to pull out of the war too soon, nor waste precious time holding those in charge accountable.

Hardcore professionals know the clarion call of the victor when they here it. Suddenly Dean, the goofy outsider throwing stones at the glass house, found himself inside; a strong waft of power filling his flared nostrils, and gory visions of Patton on a binge prancing around in his swimming head. He was heard to whisper, “God help me, I love it so.”

The people have spoken.

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Conservatism VS. Fundamentalism

Aquarian Weekly 11/8/06 REALITY CHECK

CONSERVATISM VS. FUNDAMENTALISM Final Battle For The Soul Of The Republican Party

Jerry FalwellOne week left for the Republicans to defend their turf. One week left before the final nail is driven in the Revolution’s coffin. One week to go for the tattered remains of the Contract With America before it is likely shuffled off into blessed ignominy with every other spectacular line of steaming bullshit shoveled upon the voting public. One more week before…gulp!…the Democrats take the stage once again.

Seems like only yesterday Newt Gingrich and his charges swept into town as the power-tie cavalry and promised to clean up the corruption, trim fiscal bloating, and finish the job The Gipper began in 1980. Conservatism: Less government, more individual freedom. But, alas, the new order went the way of the old order – Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Today, with 12 years of Republican control in two branches of the federal government, corruption abounds, pork is aplenty, and no one seems to know how to protect the borders, wage a war, or save the nation in time of national crisis, hurricane or terror.

What happened to the dream, some may ask. I will not be one of them. The dream, as John Lennon once wrote, is over, mainly because there never was a dream. Rhetorical power drives and ideological demagoguery, but not really a dream.

I don’t believe in Beatles.

Exactly, Johnny.

But failure to overcome the greatest human frailty – pure greed and a lust to horde, in this case power over promise – is not the only downfall of the modern Republican surge of 1994. Nope. The Republicans went wrong because the party that claims to have a direction – and appears so primarily because the other party we’re stuck with is woefully devoid of direction – has none. It is divided. It has lost its way.

How?

Conservatism vs. Fundamentalism: Fundamentalism won.

No one affiliated with this charade wants to admit it, beyond the old guard: William F. Buckley, George Will, and Pat Buchanan. But somewhere along the line the purveyors of true Conservatism bastardized it, sold it down the river for votes and popularity and special interests. Don’t worry. It’s not the first time this has happened in politics. It happened to the rotting corpse of Liberalism too. And it’s bound to happen again.

You see, when Barry Goldwater ran for president as the first strongly opinionated right-winger in 1964, and was savagely painted as a war-mongering despot by the sanctimonious LBJ clan, he did so as a true Conservative. He wrote a book about it. He was pro-environment, pro-choice, and pro gay rights. He even fought against Jerry Falwell and his medieval Moral Majority thugs at every turn, the ones who now run this government and press their atavistic Stone Age agenda as holy war.

Truth is the Republican Party has been hijacked by religious zealots, who ignore the very tenets of Conservatism by wishing to use the Bible instead of the Constitution for a framework of civil rights and a guideline of governance.

Truth is the Republican Party has been hijacked by religious zealots, who ignore the very tenets of Conservatism by wishing to use the Bible instead of the Constitution for a framework of civil rights and a guideline of governance.

Then there is the subject of Fiscal Conservatism, of which this Republican Congress and the present administration patently ignores.

Today, if Goldwater saw a Republican President of the United States signing off one hundred percent of the domestic spending for six consecutive years, funneled to him by a Republican Congress spending nearly half of the national budget on rebuilding the ideological face of entire regions across the globe, while getting re-elected on “moral” grounds and not from performance record, he would never stop puking.

Not since the Great Society of massive government programs has a president or a Congress passed this level of domestic spending in one six year period. Even factoring in two wars, anti-terrorist provisions, and the rate of inflation, this is still one of the most bloated federal governments in the history of this nation. What, I ask you, is conservative about that?

Okay, never mind Goldwater, what about the other Conservative sacred cow, Ronnie Reagan?

Here’s what the aforementioned Pat Buchanan told me about that six years ago when he bolted the Republican Party for an independent run for president; “If Ronald Reagan ran as a Republican it would be a far different story than what they’ve got now.”

The sad truth about Conservatism is that it is, like most isms, a lie. There is no Conservatism to speak of, not the actual original concept, but a weirdly translated coagulation of political agenda and fear mongering. Not unlike Christianity, or the neo-corporate version of it exploited by fundamentalist freaks or organized clans. Mostly, the term Conservatism, and its home base, the Republican Party, has been sold out by the Religious Right, which corrupted the party platform and got a religious fanatic elected president on the assumption that he is pure and true and takes his cue from Jesus Christ.

This is how morality puppets are allowed to attack sexual lifestyles and scream murder of innocent babies on the floor of Congress, beat the floorboards against Hollywood and South Park and video games while they funnel billions into government-created sink holes like Homeland Security and No Child Left Behind and Medicare bills which grease the palms of no-bid contractors and union creeps and pharmaceutical conglomerates that buy and sell this country from the inside, sucking our resources and jilting the populace.

I might agree or disagree with many intellectual and philosophical concepts behind Conservatism, modern or otherwise, but I know one thing, real conservatives would not support nation building, which the current administration and Republican-controlled Congress does. Nor would real conservatives tinker around with the touchy illegal immigration issue, which this lame Congress continues to do. And real conservatives certainly would not allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation to spy on its citizenry with the most inclusive and abusive laws yet known to this republic.

How in the world these performing seals like Rush Limbaugh, who claim to be conservatives but are really just interested in playing party barkers, can continue to defend this two-dimensional fraud is as perplexing as the National Organization For Women defending the actions of a misogynistic predator like Bill Clinton to promote its national agenda.

Look, this week, when the voters speak, and perhaps the Republicans lose the House and/or the Senate, many will look to the failed Iraq War, or the rampant corruption, and the malaise of a “do-nothing” Congress. But this space chooses to believe there may be, praise God, a swing in the phony fascist Holy Roller contingent whose days of influence and bullying are numbered.

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2006 Midterm Senatorial See-Saw

Aquarian Weekly 10/25/06 REALITY CHECK

2006 Mid-Term ElectionsA HOUSE DIVIDED

Mark Foley In the grand make-up of this republic there is little more convoluted a practice than midterm House of Representative elections. Redistricting, quitting, dumps, retirements, backlash, and overall national fervor for or against the party in power make it virtually impossible to predict, not to mention the discrepancies found in polling. You see people are generally willing to be polled on issues and campaigns, but rarely show up to actually cast a vote in non-presidential years. Therefore, in the case of the particularly close races, it is anyone’s guess as to the ultimate outcome, which casts incredible pressure on the incumbents and a fair amount of doubt in races where seats are left vacant.

Not to mention the pangs of guilt and shame heaped upon journalists, pundits and the cream of the jock-sniffing elite. There is gambling, and then there is trying to prognosticate House races three weeks from paydirt, and chief, there isn’t a bookie alive that wouldn’t be willing to take that kind of bizarre action. The odds are long and money changes hands so fast there is a twisted kind of inertia that sets in, destroying futures, wrecking marriages, and sending locked real estate exchanges into infinite limbo.

Yet, as usual, I cannot turn away.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs, of which 50 can be considered something close to competitive. After careful and mind-numbingly boring research conducted over three days of eye-twitching caffeine abuse, the Reality Check News & Information Desk’s crack staff whittled the number of key races down to 22.

Currently, Republicans hold a 232-202 advantage with one Independent leaning left. Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats to wrest control. Really, it comes down to a few seats, because if the Republicans can manage a split, they will retain control.

The races in question include many of the aforementioned open seats spread over 19 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin. Open seats increase the chances for Democrat gain and Republican remorse, a more likely scenario with each passing day.

These 22 “up-for-grabs” races, in essence, become this year’s Battleground States, and to some extent, expand the silly concept that Florida or Ohio elects a president, as they did in the last two hotly contested presidential campaign years, and will ultimately decide the survival of the Democratic Party as presently constituted or usher in two entertaining years of investigations, arrests, resignations, and maybe one glorious spring of impeachment proceedings on our boy president.

The names are not important. Believe me. No one who reads this space gives a flying flatulence who is actually running and why. Are you hanging your democratic resolve on the Rick Renzi/Ellen Simon battle for 1st district in Arizona? No, you’re not.

There is gambling, and then there is trying to prognosticate House races three weeks from paydirt, and chief, there isn’t a bookie alive that wouldn’t be willing to take that kind of bizarre action.

In all due respect to the Renzis and Simons, half of these people are despicable and desperate, but the end game is threefold: Which party will own the legislative branch, what does it mean for the future of Washington politics for the remainder of the Bush White House, and how does a petulant balance skew the sinking vessel of oozing hubris that is Capital Hill.

As stated last week in this space, normally midterm elections reflect the mood of the country in the first go-round for a president. Mainly, they ride on local issues. Even in the case of this year’s second term mess – wherein Republicans have been abandoning the Pennsylvania Avenue ship in serious numbers and the president is not helping anyone maintain traction, no matter how many gin-martinis Karl Rove ingests in preternatural fits of animal paranoia. The ghosts of Mark Foley, Tom Delay, and Duke Cunningham might not even be enough to save the Democrat cause.

How soon we forget that in the fall of 2004 nearly two-thirds of the electorate deemed George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq War underwhelming at best and criminally demented at worse, yet he is still president. So this white noise punditry about a disgruntled country over a never-ending, dubiously-constructed conflict thousands of miles away affecting how Idaho or Georgia voters will lean is crazy talk, and not a fair assessment of how the House will go for the next two years.

However, it is our duty to delve, and delve we shall – if only locally.

Here in New Jersey, Republican incumbent Mike Ferguson has taken more than a little shit for the $57,000 he received from the dark-hole fund bag of Tom Delay, whose very name conjures defeat in GOPland. His challenger, however, the newbie, Linda Stender, offers only an exhale in a predominantly liberal state both revolted with the Iraq War and still horrified over Democrat despot Jim McGreevey, the formerly expunged governor who has turned the derision he’s received for years of money-laundering, backroom dealing, and other modes of heinous criminal activity into homosexual discrimination. If I were gay I’d root out this son of a bitch and smack him silly on principle alone.

Next door in New York, four races roll along neck-and-neck. The most notable involves long-time incumbent, Republican Peter King, who is one of the few staunchly conservative congressman who remembers the early-nineties revolution. King is a major player and a key voice of the ruling majority, and is in some trouble. His challenger, fellow Long Islander, Dave Mejias has gained momentum the past few weeks. This race is one of the many across the nation that reflects not only local issues but also the national furor. It may well be a siren song for Republicans and a telling microcosm for this thing come November 7.

Let us pray for poor Tom Reynolds, who has been likely doomed by the Mark Foley sexcapades.

On a national level, of the 22 states mentioned as toss-ups, the Democrats are likely (a very weak likely – please see opening paragraphs above) to increase their bulge by a net of seven seats. But there are far too many “ifs” on the Republican side in too many of these tight races. And again, many of the open seats give the Democrats a nudge, but how much of a nudge?

So, against all better judgment, and with over 15 years of defeats to consider, this space must report that the Democrats will take the House, ever slightly.

If so, round up the outlaws.

If not, bury the dead.

But I’m not betting on any of it.

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2006 Midterm Senatorial See-Saw

Aquarian Weekly 10/17/06 REALITY CHECK

2006 Mid-Term Elections SENATORIAL SEE SAW

Kenneth BlackwellAccording to most polls conducted during the second week of October, the Democrats hold a commanding percentage lead over Republicans in the coming mid-term elections. Of course these polls mean less than nothing, and with three long weeks to go, really, they mean even less that that. But for this space, which more or less put the dirt on the Democratic Party as we know it, there is pause for reflection.

Not so fast.

The flatline is starting to wriggle, beeping ever so slowly, and resuscitation is all the rage. The events covered in last week’s Reality Check have taken hold and put the GOP brass in defense mode for the first time in years. It’s been two decades since the Democrats have been referred to as favorites and they smell blood in the water.

Again, we must caution: Meaning? Nothing.

Firstly, national polls in a congressional election year are as useless as AA meetings on Mel Gibson. People vote locally in these things. Voters won’t rush to the polls to oust Republicans because Bush’s sad approval ratings are in the Gerald Ford range anymore than they’ll carry the outrage of Instant Message Boy Sex into the booth.

Secondly, and most importantly, Republicans have recent history on their side. In almost every election since George W. Bush signed on, Republicans have been in some kind of political trouble, and in the case of the 2004 presidential campaign, on the brink of defeat. But once the base was roused and the war or terrorism or the very the idea of change was broached by the majority of our citizenry, the GOP came out on top.

Still, perception is everything in campaigns, and Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman is on the hot seat. He and Master Karl Rove have mere days to start rallying the troops the way they did to great acclaim in the waning moments of two presidential elections, when it looked like Captain Shoo-In was taking the pipe. Now they do it to save our Boy President from an assured impeachment pogrom if the Democrats take the House and Senate back, still an uphill climb but perceived to be much more likely in the wake of scandal after scandal and no positive end in sight for the Iraq mess.

At the very least, the Republicans are conceding that there are major leaks by having already tipped their hand: Go hard in three of the Senate races they have a legitimate shot at winning to retain power. These include re-election bids for Senator Mike DeWine in Ohio, Senator Jim Talent in Missouri, and Bill Frist’s open seat for Bob Corker in Tennessee.

National polls in a congressional election year are as useless as AA meetings on Mel Gibson.

Out of the nine competitive races across the country, these are the ones the GOP is funneling its majority of money, media manipulation, random polling data, and full-court independent advertising campaigns.

In Ohio, the state that basically re-elected Bush, economic disaster continues to batter Republican hopes. The state’s unemployment rate has skyrocketed to 5.7 percent, a full point higher than the national average. This has unhinged the religious/moral base that came alive in the final weeks of 2004 after Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell rallied the “idiot vote” by demanding a state constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage.

The aforementioned Mike DeWine, a moderate Republican, currently finds himself embroiled in a scrum with ultra-liberal Democrat Sherrod Brown, but has lost significant ground since the summer. As in every senate race, the Democrats must win in Ohio or lose any chance of gaining even the slightest majority.

In Missouri, Claire McCaskill, a tough-talking prosecuting attorney who has brazenly compared herself to fellow hometown legend, Harry Truman, is posting a spirited challenge to incumbent Jim Talent. Talent has thus far failed to paint McCaskill as an anti-war weakling, which has thrown this crucial battle into a dead heat.

And in Tennessee, Bill Frist’s open seat has sparked a good old-fashioned southern piss-fight between real estate king Bob Corker, the Republican mayor of Chattanooga, and slick-talking Democratic Representative Harold Ford. If Ford wins, he will be the first African American ever to be elected statewide. This pathetic factoid has Democrat Central refusing to hold its collective breath.

In all three of these key races the polls have vacillated so much over the past few months it is virtually impossible to tell who will survive. And that’s what we’re talking about now: The Republicans trying to keep their heads above the waterline by turning this midterm scramble into their Alamo, and the Democrats taking one last swipe at the brass ring before whipping boy Bush heads into the Texas sunset.

But the Democrats still have the House in play, a more likely scenario for victory this November. Even without the Senate, gaining power there could cobble together enough investigations and censures to cripple the last two years of the Bush Administration and pave a smoother road to whatever chum they send on the presidential campaign trail in 2008.

However, no one on the Democratic side is willing to concede the Senate just yet, least of all DNC Chairman Howard Dean, who has managed to pull off the near-impossible for the past few months, keep his big trap shut. Any wild outbursts from Dean could queer any deal, and he knows it. For the most part the party high rollers have gagged all the loose lips and have smartly let House Speaker Dennis Hastert take the dance card.

For all his Washington know-how, Hastert is looking more and more like a man handed the entertainment bill after the Duke Lacrosse team kegger. But Rove and the RNC brain trust can’t waste any time bailing him out. He’s on his own, and may become an effective national deflection to keep these races local and appeal to the base one last time.

Guess here is the Republicans keep the Senate, slightly.

Next we’ll tackle the Democrats shot at the House.

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2006 Midterm Elections Dilemma

Aquarian Weekly 10/11/06 REALITY CHECK

2006 Mid-Term Elections MIDTERM ELECTIONS DILEMMA

Dennis HastertHere’s my midterm elections ’06 dilemma: Continue to root for the hapless Democrats to crash and burn one last time to put a final nail in their coffin and leave the dismantling of the two-party system to this abortion the Republicans have fashioned over the past decade…or…pull for the Democrats to sweep into Congress and begin the always-entertaining Investigation/Impeachment Follies for the next two years.

Double-edged sword: either way you win and lose.

It is no secret that the Republicans are ready to be had, and if the Democrats can’t do it now there really is no logical reason to have them around, save for laughs and sympathy. Therefore, this should be the Democrats last ride at the rodeo, opening the doors for some kind of third party or Independent run to wade into the quagmire that is the legislative branch of our fancy federal government.

All of this, of course, is the fantasy notion of a pathetic man, who still believes in the “better angels of our nature”, despite centuries of corruption, madness, and disaster. But forgive me, I dream because I must.

But it would take an October Surprise worthy of Disney or the Bible to keep the Republicans in power now, despite the parade of mediocrity coming from the opposition, because let’s face it kids, the GOP is reeling.

There hasn’t been this kind of fallout on Capital Hill since the near shooting of Missouri Senator Tom Benton by the blabbering lunatic Henry Foote 166 years ago. Foote, a fun-loving senator from Mississippi, was a terrible goon with a short fuse and no boundaries, but he would’ve fit in well with the present legislators, who have presently turned the U.S. Congress into a Martin Scorsese film.

Forget the Abramoff stuff, which on any normal calendar year would land half of Congress in prison. That’s merely the opening act.

Things have gotten so bad you half expect the bastard offspring of Caligula to burst through the chamber two-fisting Jack Daniels and brandishing a Luger.

Since, we have mounds of proof Texas Congressman Tom Delay has been ripping off taxpayers for as long as he’s been sworn in. Then there is the curious case of Virginia Senator George Allen Jr., who has now publicly taken racist stump banter to new levels and spent three days last week apologizing for having a Jewish mother so vehemently you’d think he was caught sniffing coke off the ass of a teenaged hooker. And what can anyone make of Mark Foley? The Florida Representative’s text-message romp with young male pages, and the apparent cover-up from spin-conscious Republican leaders, presents just the right kind of creepy for potential voters.

Things have gotten so bad you half expect the bastard offspring of Caligula to burst through the chamber two-fisting Jack Daniels and brandishing a Luger.

Never mind the albatross that is our Boy President defending his vacillating approval numbers, scores of defamatory book releases, and one too many Donald Rumsfeld media events, but these baffling presidential news conferences are straight out of Lewis Carroll. When Bush starts yammering on about this Iraq War of his being the “fight for civilization as we know it” I pray for an apparition of the Mad Hatter to materialize and bash him in the back of the head with a cricket bat.

But that’s just what this reporter is willing to explore in the first week of October with three more weeks of rallies and pratfalls. Things have a way of turning around more than once these days.

To wit: Just last week things were looking up for the president and his wounded charges. Firstly, gas prices were plummeting, and crazy people were calling him Satan at the UN, proving once and for all what kind of reeking farce that gaggle of has-beens are running on the East Side, as they more or less pull off the impossible: Make the bully look like the victim.

But wacky Venezuelan despots aside, the Bill Clinton FOXNEWS meltdown made even the goofy Dick Chaney “Meet The Press” escapade look sober. Why a man who was once the leader of the free world would need to get into a schoolyard piss match with a hack like Chris Wallace is beyond me. Maybe the part of Big Bill’s brain that chose to solicit Oval Office head from the kid intern took over. Either way, it was a calling card to many voters that there still lurks mania in the hearts of the Democrats’ best and brightest.

Then the Foley thing hit the fan and House Speaker Dennis Hastert had the balls to use politics as his party’s “cover-up” defense, as in his Washington Post quote, “I know our opponents want me to be guilty of something.” Does he mean opponents of congressmen using government property (the people’s property) to flirt with underage boys, and then the Republican leadership covering it up? I’m sure we can find a few of those.

Bad news for Hastert is these opponents vote. But good news for Hastert is most people, especially mid-westerners and southerners, would sooner vote for a bumbling Republican skank then hand the reigns over to the scary Democrats. It gives me the same sense of American pride I felt when listening to the National Organization of Women defend the predatory nature of the aforementioned Mr. Clinton.

But, be that as it may, we have a job to do here, and despite our dilemma we shall shoulder on.

There are 33 seats available in the Senate. With the vice president holding a deciding vote, the Dems need a swing of at least seven seats of them for a bonafide majority (this does not count Vermont Jim Jeffords, who is an independent and repeatedly votes Democrat). Depending on what poll you use, there or about six to seven seats legitimately up for grabs, two or three firmly in the GOP column, and five to six leaning to the Democrats, four of which are currently Republican.

This will be a tough go for the Democrats, but we will begin to discuss the states, seats, and races in question next week.

On to the House, where the Dems need to pick up roughly 16 of the 31 open seats (three vacancies to consider), to gain a majority. Again, without getting into particulars, this is a more realistic quest for the Democrats to sniff power, but no gimmie.

I fear the only “gimmie” is this space will likely despise the results, whatever the results, and spend the ensuing years mocking the victors.

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Corporate Lunacy In The Wake Of Katrina

Aquarian Weekly 9/20/06 REALITY CHECK

CHING-CHING, CASH IN ON TRAGEDY! Part I Report Uncovers Corporate Lunacy in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina

New OrleansRita J. King is a colleague, a friend, and a fine freelance investigative journalist who has gone deep inside many nasty corners of society, business, and politics for the Village Voice among other publications. In 2003, the New York Press Association awarded her first place for investigative reporting on the nuclear industry and in 2005 she placed first in the NYPA news category for “The New Agent Orange,” an investigative article about nine soldiers who returned from Iraq and are now suing the government because they believe they were knowingly exposed to Depleted Uranium.

Her new work, completed just last month for CorpWatch, (corpwatch.org) a decade-old nonprofit monitor of all-things-corporate online, is called Big, Easy Money: Disaster Profiteering On The American Gulf Coast, a tirelessly researched and frightening insight into the rapacious milieu of scavenger business practices that inevitably follows the type of historic disaster that was Hurricane Katrina.

Now, one year removed from the litany of mistakes and tragedies that have rendered the gulf coast a watery graveyard, we find its reconstruction to be less than ethical, and in most cases, downright deplorable. I figure it’s high time Ms. King was given a proper voice at The Desk, because, for some warped reason, she is a fan of this space.

James Campion: How did you initially get involved with this story?

Rita J. King: I frequently write about Indian Point nuclear power plants, which a company called Entergy Corp. owns, and they’re headquartered in New Orleans, so I figured chances are there’s a story there. CorpWatch asked me to write a feature about Entergy, which, consequently, declared bankruptcy in the wake of Katrina, and has asked for a $718 million Community Development Block Grant so taxpayers and ratepayers can bail them out. There’s also an Entergy subsidiary in Mississippi that’s asking for a similar bail out. Between the two of them it is a billion and half dollar bail out to shelter the corporation from the cost. As I was gathering the information for the Entergy piece, CorpWatch asked if I would write the whole report.

So for six months I did hardcore investigative research on the contract procurement process, which involved scouring through all the records of contracts of prime contractors and government agencies, and I found the numbers to be very convoluted and unclear, but in the process I interviewed a lot of people who were beyond the focus of the scope of the report. And so my hope was to use the report as a platform to segue into some of the deeper social issues involved.

When you began the report, were you already assuming that there was likely to be some cloudy areas of where the relief money was coming from and how it would be spent, or even a fertile ground for corporate malfeasance?

“What I didn’t except to find, but came away with, is this feeling that the ‘bumbling bureaucrat’ image that used to pervade our thinking on these things has been replaced with a ‘fox in the henhouse’ image. Corporations are far savvier than the governments they manipulate and the politicians they enrich.”

Going in I knew this was the most pervasive disaster that had ever taken place on American soil. And I knew that some of the corporations that were notoriously profiting off the Iraq War were involved. I also knew that it was cheaper to do domestic disaster than foreign conflict, but I did not know going in what the specific ramifications were going to be and I did not go in assuming malfeasance was an issue as much as ineptitude – you have to keep in mind that FEMA was gutted in the 90s, and it has continued to be gutted, and as the Department of Homeland Security grows in the number and worth of contracts it gives out, personnel is being cut back. What I didn’t except to find, but came away with, is this feeling that the “bumbling bureaucrat” image that used to pervade our thinking on these things has been replaced with a “fox in the henhouse” image. Corporations are far savvier than the governments they manipulate and the politicians they enrich.

For example, on 9/7/05, a week after Katrina, President Bush suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, which protects workers’ wages. Two months of controversy followed. He reinstated it, but not retroactively, so all of the contracts that were given out during that time were exempt form the Davis-Bacon Act, which resulted in a lot of workers not being paid or being paid slave wages.

Then there is the contracting pyramid, wherein corporations benefit greatly from undocumented workers performing the labor at the bottom, because each successive subcontractor is only responsible for the layer below them. So, as a prime contractor, if I subcontract the work to you and you subcontract the work to someone else, and so on, I am not ultimately responsible for what the last subcontractor who hires the workers chooses to do, and whether they pay them…or not.

Some of what I learned is shocking, and largely unreported. The two largest Chinese construction companies, Beijing Construction Engineering Company Unlimited and Beijing Urban International Company, have made a proposal to the city of D’Iberville, Mississippi through Gulfco Construction, which is actively trying to procure visas for thousands of Chinese laborers so they can work cheaply, and with their own materials, to rebuild vast swaths of the coast. Who is going to own those areas when they’re done?

So the cloudy numbers add up to hidden profits for those insidious enough to exploit the chaos?

Exactly. Prime contractors like AshBritt received $500 million, or $23 per cubic yard, to remove debris, according to an investigation conducted by NBC. At the bottom of their pyramid the company hired C & B Enterprise, which was paid nine dollars per cubic yard. That company hired Amlee Transportation, which they paid eight dollars a cubic yard, and they turned around and hired Chris Hessler Inc. for seven dollars a cubic yard, who then paid a debris hauler from NJ, who was paid three dollars per cubic yard, which is less than the cost of actually doing the work. So AshBritt gets paid $23 a cubic yard for nothing more than subcontracting.

I have to say this does not shock me.

AshBritt was listed in the Small Business Data Base as both a minority-owned and woman-owned company in order to tap into the federal regulation for set-asides, which stipulates that a portion of the contracts go to businesses owned by people who are categorized thusly (the same applies to other special groups, such veterans or physically disabled individuals). AshBritt’s owner, Randall Perkins, listed his wife, Cuban-born Saily Perkins, as the company’s president. However, I found a list of 2004 campaign contributors compiled by the federal election commission that listed her occupation as homemaker. Perkins later claimed it was a clerical error.

Part II: Aggressive Accounting, Money-Grabs, & The Future Of New Orleans

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Middle East Solutions

Aquarian Weekly 8/23/06 REALITY CHECK

MIDDLE EAST SOLUTIONS
Niftier Than Cease Fires & Other Running Jokes

IDF in LebanonIf only Abraham had kept his cock in his pants.

Be that as it may, God’s starting quarterback screwed up. Since then it’s been a mess.

But fear not, unlike Amorous Abe or our faulty Supreme Being, I have a grip on this idiocy called The Promised Land, and I aim to finally impart it. It will not be pleasant, and it will certainly not adhere to any normal but previously failed policy or philosophy. However, it is the only solution to bring about a lasting peace to a region torn asunder by cultural and religious madness for centuries – long before there was a United States, and, in fact, long before anyone labeled European could amble erect.

The first phase of our solution begins with ceasing this United Nations shit. The UN is completely inept and wholly corrupt. The best thing the UN can do is disband. Then it can get the hell out of NYC before someone gets seriously hurt. No one wants to hear from the UN on cease fires when it passes all these apparently innocuous resolutions, like the one they passed over a dozen times on Saddam Hussein, the impotence of which gave him the balls to start expanding his nonsense to Kuwait and got us involved. Once that happened, there was no way we could escape having to eventually oust him, which then morphed into a tainted brand of Nation Building 101, and we all know how that’s turning out.

Every time someone from the UN starts yammering at Israel to calm down or implores the latest band of marauders to back down someone from Israel retorts by pointing to a toothless UN resolution. The UN likes to bark, but has nothing approaching a serviceable bite. It is as useless as a drug-free American cyclist or Mel Gibson’s AA sponsor.

This brings us to the United States and their white-noise president. Please. No more speeches from George W. Bush on freedom and democracy. After five years it is beyond funny and has successfully trumped pathetic. It has now reached the rank of sad, like our Boy President’s “Islamic fascist” comment, which makes as much sense as any number of mumbled declamatory claptrap this guy’s offered for the past six years. And sadder still is the robotic Condoleezza Rice, who has contradicted herself so many times over the past 18 months I’m pretty sure ESPN will hire her.

Let’s see if this is an exercise in international chest beating by Iran, or if it really wants the obliteration of western efforts and Israel as a working entity in Allah’s backyard. Why not? This is what they want.

We need to stay out of this one. Really. I know we bankroll the damn IDF and I know we have billions invested in these oil fields and refining centers, but we have proved pretty convincingly now for half a century we do not know how to wage war anymore, especially a war against guerilla factions from cultures we know nothing about, like Korea or Viet Nam, and now crazy Islamic extremists. Enough of our Bungling Giant routine, let the more experienced handle it.

And what about this goofy dilettante crap citing democracy as being a roadmap to peace? Our friend Tucker Carlson rightfully pointed out the other day, as did Washington Post columnist, Jefferson Morley in March of 2005 and yours truly a month earlier, that terrorist champion Hamas was elected in Palestine, as was Hezbollah to prominent positions in the Lebanese government. Some 85% of Lebanese support Hezbollah, which openly ran a campaign with “a call for the destruction of the state of Israel.” Hoorah for democracy!

This brings us to Israel, which has miraculously existed for over half a century, despite a half dozen or so wars, a million skirmishes, bomb and missile attacks, terrorist activities, etc. A good portion of its neighbors, at least those who have the guts to go on record, pretty much pray, plan, and even attempt to execute this aforementioned “destruction of” every day. It is no secret: Everyone in the region, whether Christian, Muslim or Hebrew understand this as fact.

Sure, sometimes there is muted diplomacy-speak about giving this stretch of sand back or bowing to a religious superstition, but mostly it has always been, and will always be an Us or Them proposition: An End of Times Biblical Massacre worthy of King David or the Implosion of Jericho or the systematic murder of Egyptian children. Oh, it’s way beyond the meager notions of politics or intellect or humanity.

So now that we have eliminated the amateurs and newcomers to this blood feud and sufficiently pinpointed motivations, we are left with the Arabs and the Jews, specifically Islam vs. Judaism, or Abe’s little mistakes. Order all the cease-fires you want. We’re still left with the sovereignty of Israel and the promise of a Holy Land. That’s all we’ve ever had here, fans. Face it. Hezbollah wants to wipe out Israel and the Jews. The IDF wants to gut, disarm, and annihilate those who point the finger of violence at it.

I say let it rip.

Really.

See how far all the threats and rhetoric can go. Let’s see if this is an exercise in international chest beating by Iran, or if it really wants the obliteration of western efforts and Israel as a working entity in Allah’s backyard. Why not? This is what they want. This is true freedom in action. It is their free will, not ours and not the UN’s, but their free will, and even the shortsighted Yahweh has some idea about that concept.

The finality of real peace sometimes takes an addition by subtraction. It is harsh. It is cold. But it is authentic. Not like all the usual bullshit we hear from every corner of this globe, and have heard for a long, long time. Peace often happens after one side is gone, like the Carthaginians at Himera, or the French at Waterloo, or the Germans at Leningrad or the Japanese at Hiroshima.

The bleeding hearts and neo-cons do a great deal of sanctimonious grandstanding and pointless pontificating on the subject of the Middle East, about oil and peace and God and children and civilians, but we don’t really believe it, because if we did, we’d let them be free to enact all this stuff they incessantly yammer on about. It is what they want.

The innocent? Enough of these people have had time to contemplate if they actually want an End of Times or not, and as far as I can see they have chosen to hang around with the crazies, and therefore they’ve played their innocence card, and unfortunately, they are dragging their poor children down with them.

Hey, people make mistakes with children all the time.

God did with Abraham.

Abraham sure did with his.

Check tonight’s news for the results.

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Lieberman/Independent

Aquarian Weekly 8/16/06 REALITY CHECK

THE LIEBERMAN EXPERIMENT How The Vanquished Shall Inherit Independence

Joseph LiebermanJoseph Lieberman could be the most important name in American politics since Thomas Jefferson. His inspired bailout on the Democratic Party for an independent run for senator from Connecticut, if successful, might just begin to erode the two-party monopoly that has heretofore damaged our delicate hold on democracy for over 100 years.

Think I’m being too dramatic? Really? Check this out, Jack.

Unless you’ve been hermetically sealed for the past decade this whole two-party thing has reached a polarized critical mass. The usual black and white nonsense pitched by liberal to conservative agendas has never been more embedded, leaving a proving ground for militants and goofballs the likes of which no free society could survive.

In many ways it has become absurd, and more so, dangerous, as it has rendered candidates for either the Democratic or Republican parties hostage to many social, cultural and/or fiduciary issues that command the party line. All this slaking the extreme right or left wings of said parties has made plastic tools of politicians and reduced the vagaries of debate and voter confidence to a dense morass of “us vs. them”. And although this works in the odd theocracy or fraternity kegger, it is hardly a sober guideline for governance.

Enter our hero.

Joseph Lieberman, fresh from a humiliating party horsewhipping for the past months, is going to ignore his defeat as a Democrat and run for senate as an independent. It is this observer’s opinion that he will win, and when he does there will be a minor tremor in Washington politics, that may, if there is an ounce of justice and progress and true intelligence in the design of this republic, escalate into a full-scale quake that rocks the foundation of this partisan stalemate on free thought within our currently cracked system.

Lieberman, independent, free to offer an alternative to “one way or the highway” can actually live or die on the grounds of his own beliefs, however brilliant or abhorrent they may be. The voter choice will be for a single voice and not the collective. The fog cleared, the din abated.

Lieberman, independent, free to offer an alternative to “one way or the highway” can actually live or die on the grounds of his own beliefs, however brilliant or abhorrent they may be.

Oh, it’s a long shot, but dreams die hard here at The Desk. Twenty-four years of independent voting, ranting, arguing, and literary bitching could render a serviceable pay-off after all.

To wit:

Lieberman gives the Democrats the finger. He becomes an independent candidate, runs on his own platform that is judged merely by its “independent” ideas and goals, and not that of some odious conglomerate pushed by party heads and special interest fops, and wins going away. Other party pariah’s who dare think outside the agenda of both parties copycat the revolutionary concept of “thinking for one’s self outside the shackles of black and white resolve”. Candidates once again represent the people through their own devices, and not that of blind allegiance to a one-note dirge. Parties suffer. Freedom wins. Everyone wins, because everyone will want a piece of the pie.

That’s what winning does, it breeds imitation.

Politics is not unlike professional football. Whatever scheme makes good every other team and coaching staff is running to repeat it. Every so often there is a maverick, and if he hits the jackpot with victories, soon the pack will follow. Doesn’t always work out in every individual case, but the sport is revived anew. That is how we see this Lieberman Experiment, but only if it succeeds.

So it absolutely must succeed.

Lieberman was jobbed from the beginning. The Democrats have talking points that begin with bashing the Iraq War, which opposes nicely the stupidity of the Republicans race to ignore it. However, Lieberman has stood by his conviction that the war, however mishandled and junked, was necessary. Unlike fellow Democrats who voted for it (the comedy team of John’s Edwards and Kerry) Lieberman is staying the course. It may be shortsighted and political suicidal for an opposing party member to back a fantastically unpopular president and his mounting folly, but to his credit Lieberman is consistent. This got him the boot.

Lieberman’s defeat in last Tuesday’s Democratic primary to his entertainingly loquacious challenger Ned Lamont, the perfect party dupe, was a measly six percentage points, or roughly 100,000 votes. These are votes easily made up by independents and moderate republicans disgusted with right wing screw-ups, but fearful of pie-in-the-sky revisionists. The question is will these people see this as an historical imperative or a sore loser’s attempt at vengeance. The answer, I believe, will echo loudly against the two-party lethargy, which trumps this “throw the bums out” ripple against incumbents everywhere.

Also, Lieberman can win because he’s been entrenched in his position since 1988, and as is New England’s political wont, there’s always room for the “same old”. He has a rich history of incumbent crushes on his side. These people love to keep the boys coming back for more, regardless of bad behavior, scandal, or just about anything – see Ted Kennedy for the best example. Lieberman’s loss made him only the fourth incumbent senator to lose a primary since 1980. This bodes well for his name being on a ballot come November.

In conclusion, it will be nearly impossible for Lieberman to lose, unless there is some underhanded political chicanery, which there most certainly will be, but that cannot derail him. His corny “Team Connecticut” campaign must focus on a rally for new horizons and blazing trails and all that rah-rah poop, and not any goofy pictures of him tonguing the president.

Look, I don’t like Joseph Lieberman. I despise his sanctimonious moralizing most of all. Not the point. And maybe he truly is a sore loser trying to change rules to benefit his own gain. Hell, that’s fine. Whatever it takes. There was a whole lot of changing the rules for personal gain going on in Philadelphia in 1776. Fairly sure I dislike half of those jokers. The results were pretty good, though.

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