Holy Land Obama

Aquarian Weekly 3/20/13 REALITY CHECK

HOLY LAND OBAMA

By the time these words hit the stands, the president of the United States will be in Israel. This has not been as anticipated a trip as in the past for a few reasons; Barack Obama has been spending quality time on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the U.S. continues its anti-Iranian nuclear rhetoric and running point on crippling international sanctions, the American public has bottomed out its interest in Middle Eastern affairs for the first time since 9/11, and all eyes have been on the slow crawl to attain some measure of a federal budget here at home. But, make no mistake; this visit will have its repercussions.

Obama & NetanyahuFirstly, long before the 2012 election season, this administration has turned its trade/energy/negotiation attention away from the primacy of the Middle East and focused it on Asia, where for years economic forecasters have pointed to it as the New Europe. In fact, even mother oil has become more important to the energy concerns of China (having eclipsed the U.S. for the world’s largest oil importer) and India than it currently does to the U.S. This has added to the already strained relations between the Obama Administration and Israel.

Most of Netanyahu’s posturing, including his over-analyzed, behind-closed-doors harangue against the president during a 2011 U.S. visit, has centered on Israel’s concern for Iran’s nuclear capabilities, but politically it is imperative for the brash prime minister to keep U.S. fears of an insane Middle East percolating. Pressuring Iran has internal consequences for Netanyahu as well, if merely to appear tough to Palestinians; an act of personal relevancy that has served him well over several terms.

Netanyahu, no fan of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who openly supported a Palestinian state, now has to deal with newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who represents the U.S.’s new and improved “anything but war” stance. Something the American people now overwhelmingly support and by default reflects an expedient solution for a nation with less available funds than a will to fight someone else’s battles anytime soon.

Next is the mere fact that there are bigger fish to fry in the Middle East. The key question remains whether or not Syria, Egypt, Lebanon or Iraq will maintain its solvency as working states in the grand scheme of international diplomacy. Deeply contentious Shiite and Sunni religious/cultural civil war is now front and center in all-things Arab Spring, which handcuffs any Western interference. With the outcome in serious doubt and no obvious ally emerging, the last thing Obama wants to do on this trip is appear gratuitous. Any commentary on this matter, even on a chummy diplomatic sojourn, can be counterproductive.

These are the types of trips that can distract a president from more pressing issues and weaken his domestic position.

Yet, there is no way to escape the most explosive aspect of this disaster; Syria. It is a killing field rife with intrigue between Iran, Hezbollah, and the Syrian government. All three factions are attempting to crush the “rebels”, whom the United States have supported rhetorically, but with no plans to add weapons — mainly due to Israel’s horror that those weapons could be used against its interests. Syria will be the giant elephant in the room when Netanyahu and Obama chat, but there is little chance the details of those chats will not have already been determined before Air Force One hits the Holy Land.

But what will ultimately stare the president directly in the face is the 300,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Obama has held fast in his opposition to the expansion of Israeli settlements there, a neat balancing act for the leader of a nation that kicked indigenous peoples off their land. In a similar show of our convenient Manifest Destiny two-step, Netanyahu has no designs on reversing Israel’s course to colonize the region and ignore the 2.5 Palestinians that also call it home. This will make Obama’s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas an interesting study in appearing not to play favorites. Explaining personal ideology that speaks directly against U.S. policy has been a favorite task of the presidency dating back to George Washington’s famous farewell address.

It is this tightrope walk, in the shadow of the Iranian mess, that makes Obama’s Israel trip so intriguing. What critics have dubbed the White House’s “maintenance trip” due to the failure of having even a tertiary peace initiative, there appears to be no directive here beyond face-saving.

Yet, it is no time for a misstep, which can harm the president politically at home, as he maintains an edge in popular support over Republicans in the battle to balance the budget, reform taxes, propose immigration reform and introduce a measure of gun control into the legislative discussion. But polls are beginning to show an erosion in the post-election high and soon the ramp-up to the 2014 mid-terms will force members of both parties into local political fights that will all-but halt any second-term agendas.

These are the types of trips that can distract a president from more pressing issues and weaken his domestic position. Republicans, who have failed to paint this president as a weak foreign policy commander-in-chief, would love nothing more than this thing to go sideways, ala Mitt Romney’s pre-campaign Britain trip that made him look like a piker and effectively sabotaged the first weeks of his presidential run.

Let’s face it; this is bad timing for Obama. He does not need this kind of pressure, but he spent a boatload of money and time fighting to retain this gig, and there will never be a good time to pull off a balancing act of this magnitude.

 

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 2/30/13 REALITY CHECK

READERS RESPONSES

I am forever entertained by the notion of whether or not this country will ever consider gun violence to be an epidemic. Your piece on this idea was not only a masterpiece in satire, but it said all the things I wish to say, and more. (GUNS & THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT – Issue: 1/16/13) And it all begs the question: Why is that a single man, out of the millions of airplane travelers, can make an aborted attempt to board a plane with an explosive device in his shoe – a one in a billion shot – and for the rest of eternity every human flying out of this nation anywhere has to take his/her shoes off at airport security, but nearly a thousand people have been murdered by guns since the Newtown Massacre (and you are right, it is not so much a tragedy as a massacre, let’s quit pussyfooting around and call it what it is) and we’re not allowed to even discuss guns?

Melissa Aughey

 

The quote you used for the open of your column this week was stunning. (Excerpt from Memo PPS23 “Review of Current Trends, U.S. Foreign Policy” by George Kennan, Head of the U.S. State Department Policy Planning Staff. Written February 28, 1948, Declassified June 17, 1974) To think, a man with that kind of intel in the highest reaches of the U.S. government could so precisely predict the way that the American government would and should conduct its business for decades after World War II is just, well I cannot think of another word but stunning!

How this translates to our right to bear arms, especially against a type of government that had no problem during the Viet Nam War bugging, harassing, and in some cases as in Kent State, murdering its citizens is beyond me. Not sure if you are joking when you say that gun violence is a cultural aspect of how the government or the environment of the fifties might have effected our nation going forward, or even going back to the frontier days, but I’m still not sure it translates to the rights granted us by the Second Amendment.

I think it’s interesting reading, and you are a fine writer, but it is stretching the credibility of the argument. Period.

ALLIE88

 

The paranoia in this column reeks of Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States. I would be shocked to learn that Mr. Campion would have not read it. In fact, on a weekly basis there are many parallels to Mr. Zinn’s work and Mr. Campion’s sentiments, both ideologically and psychologically. I’m not saying he is merely regurgitating Zinn’s philosophies on how the nation has progressed during the post-World War II era, but the similarities are eerie. I think all people should read Zinn’s work. It is well researched and reasoned. Mr. Campion has a more cynical and aloof style and I doubt highly he believes half of what is written here weekly, but it still has an echo of Zinn’s approach.

I will say that it is not a popular viewpoint, so it isn’t as if Mr. Campion is gaining any style points or urging any readership from this type of radical thinking. But it is radical and it is at points paranoid and there is always a place for that in the sensationalism of editorials.

M.A.Fererra

 

Oh, I never supported the Patriot Act, it may have looked like it but I was more “beat Al Qaeda’s ass at every opportunity”. No sir, in fact I was detained in Orlando Airport for speaking German to the TSA agent and when he stated he didn’t speak German, I advised him that weren’t all Nazi’s German. Boom, it’s on and now I am surrounded and getting fucked with. When I told them they were fucking with a Ranger Qualified veteran of the 101st Airborne Division, they stated in no uncertain terms they didn’t give a flying fuck and proceeded to try to make an example of me. I had a crying wife and 2 scared little kids. As I was “released”, I turned around and looked at him and told him “Sir, rest assured, when the revolution comes, people will remember this”. I thought I was going to get arrested but for some reason I was able to walk.

It’s getting bad out here, brother. More and more, I tend to agree with you on the erosion of freedoms.

Peace, Bill Roberts

 

I agree that guns are in our DNA. The question is can we ever get it out?

Stephanie V.

 

What are we saying here, Campion? (TOBACCO, BOOZE & FIREARMS – AN AMERICAN LOVE STORY– Issue: 1/23/13) We’re all at fault? Or none of us are at fault? We have guns, we love guns, our history is riddled with guns and gun violence, that we all profit from murder and mayhem and now we whine like bitches because our children are murdered in our kindergartens or that in some precise way you are turning this whole story on its head and removing the moral quotient but slyly admitting that all of this has been going on for centuries and our foundation, the founding fathers, the revolution, the Civil War, the fight in the streets in the Wild West, the eradication of the Native American population, The Alamo, everything is tied together in some bizarre synchronicity? This is bullshit Carl Jung gobblygook. It is beyond your understanding. This is shit psychoanalyzing. If I want to have a gun, it does not put me in the long line of killing. I have not killed and I don’t intend on killing, but I have this right and I won’t allow bits and pieces of it to be taken away by the sentimentality of liberal thought that will strip us of our God-given right to survive the attack of evil.

Sometimes your words ring hollow. This is one of those times, friend.

EEE-9(OVER)

 

Love the concept of the “Holy Trinity”: Tobacco, Booze, and Firearms. Never heard it or read it put quite that way. There is a fist-like quality to this type of slant, a no holes barred thing that is intriguing for no other reason but it is so wrong in the face of these terrible tragedies we endure almost on an hourly basis in this country, a country born and expanded and perpetuated by the type of violence you depict in you column. It makes me sad to know we have come to this and that there is no way back. But it is good to know someone is telling it straight, being honest to the point of painful. I just wish it didn’t have to be written and I didn’t have to read it.

anonymous

 

Your last line (“Not sure what this tell us, beyond the notion that industry, economy, and tradition trump human life. It is a high price some of us pay to live in a land that’s vital resource is the worship of the Holy Trinity.”) is on the money (no pun intended).

V.

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In Praise of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” 2013

Aquarian Weekly 2/6/13 REALITY CHECK

SOUTHERN COMFORT INTERRUPTEDIn Praise of a New Revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Wouldn’t it be funny if that was true? – Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Great art has a boomerang effect that is hard to match in other disciplines of human endeavor. Once something of artistic density is created it permeates time, culture, and progress. There are the usual attempts by those whose foresight is driven by the wallet (and this does not necessarily preclude the artist, in fact, in most cases is highly motivated by him) to rearrange its brutality to create a more palatable or sellable franchise. Thus is the pedigree of Tennessee Williams’ most accessible ensemble piece, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a Broadway revival of which now plays at the Richard Rogers Theater. Its eviscerating themes of casual mendacity, psycho-sexual anguish, overt greed and pomposity, and a crushing fear of mortality have swooped back to confront a 21st century audience with the subtlety of a jackhammer.

Scarlett JohanssonTruth be told, I had no desire to see it this time around. I had read it in college and found it to be no Glass Menagerie or certainly A Streetcar Named Desire, for my money Williams two true masterworks, but at the request of the wife to see Scarlett Johansson play Maggie the Cat, I would give the play and its gifted author its rightful due. Needless to say, Johansson, much like Elizabeth Taylor, who made the role famous in the film adaptation three generations removed, exudes a primal sexuality that has less to do with talent, training or guile, but pure biology. Her voluptuous draw had the theater packed with twenty-somethings clamoring to share airspace with the star and none seemed to be prepared to absorb Williams’ cruel truths, a perfect blindside that any writer drools over. The poor bastards never knew what hit them.

Williams’ best work, of which now after being thoroughly moved by this staging, I am fully willing to admit that Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is included, deals in his key central theme of living a lie in order to assimilate into an alien existence not of his characters making. This inevitably leads to Williams other pressing themes of violence due to either creeping madness brought on by this charade or alcoholism, which either expedites the madness or quells the rush of its inevitability. All insights into Williams’ homosexuality in a mid-twentieth century southern milieu of intolerance, bigotry and machismo, along with the schizophrenia suffered by his beloved sister Rose, and the violent outbursts of an age when alcohol fueled the desires of a repressed nation are all on display with a relentless vigor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

The play’s debut in 1955, the height of America’s last purely conservative moral levee, hinted at Williams’ original theme-scape, but failed to bellow it; as if the words only broached the subject like a slight tap on the shoulder instead of the swift punch to the jaw that unfurls now. The three-act version today is Williams’ 1974 re-write, which many of the freedoms the post-Sixties cultural shift and the Seventies individuality explosion inspired. It bears only a minor resemblance to the famous film with Taylor and Paul Newman of 1958. Ironically, it was infamous director Elia Kazan who neutered its thematic force. Kazan had lived his own life of ignominious duality when informing on wrongly accused colleagues to the absurdly unconstitutional House Committee On Un-American Activities when he himself was a communist.

Tennessee Williams breathes again in this loud, brash and concussive revival of a story best known for its wounding due to censorship, but spins back with ever-threatening speed to assail us once again.

Having achieved enormous success with the quintessential film adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire starring a young and sexually charged Marlon Brando in 1952, Kazan subjugated Williams’ crucial expressions for a Hollywood squeezed by the strangely powerful Motion Picture Production Code, enacted in 1934 and later abandoned in 1968 at the dawn of the golden age of modern film. Kazan, also having directed the original Broadway staging, cajoled Williams into toning down the striking language of the play to avoid the obligatory blowback subjected to works of the time.

The fury of Williams’ boomerang effect is palpable in this staging, as Johansson, feverishly bawdy, stomps around in nothing but a slip for half the performance, taught in sexual frustration and cunning manipulation, taunts her crippled husband (both physically with an ankle injury and mentally in the throes of an alcohol stupor) with wild abandon. She lends proper voice to Williams’ incongruities of a dying post-war southern motif filled with land barons, heirs, belles and debutantes trolling their children around like trophies. Her husband, ably but not strongly portrayed by a handsome Benjamin Walker, acts as Williams’ whipping boy; both characters providing insight into the author’s tortured psyche.

The play, however, is abducted by the work of veteran Irish actor, Ciarán Hinds, whose outstanding turn as Julius Caesar in HBO’s Rome a few years back put him on the map. Hinds, as Big Daddy, the patriarch of a Tennessee Valley cotton empire, seethes with regret and disgust for his life, family and station. He is the play’s philosophical weathervane; vulgar and unwavering with nary a stitch of societal affectation brimming in every other character in the piece, pushing the others to confront their hypocrisy as he shouts “Liars! Liars!” at them all. Stricken with cancer, although he has been deceived by his doctor that he is safe to enjoy his 65th birthday, Hinds’ Big Daddy tries in vain to save his son from the slow suicide of drink the young man believes he must pursue due to his pangs of guilt over the death of a close friend whose homosexual advances he had to refuse, which in the end led to his friend’s death. It is a riveting performance.

Mostly, though, it is Tennessee Williams who breathes again in this loud, brash and concussive revival of a story best known for its wounding due to censorship, but spins back with ever-threatening speed to assail us once again.

 

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 1/30/13 REALITY CHECK

READERS RESPONSES

How can you write so much and still not get it?(THE (NEW) NEVER DEAL – Issue: 12/19/12) Susan Rice was a tool, nothing more. Susan Rice was tossed out knowing the right would immediately call for ineligibility and therefore Obama would get the guy he wanted in Kerry. Now Kerry gets the nod and the right can’t complain lest the press crucify them for being mean-spirited. It was typical Chicago politics and people still don’t get it and continue to praise Dear Leader. Well, we get the government we deserve.

Bill Roberts

 

There was a sense from the very beginning that the Republicans were going to cave on this tax hike thing. They had no choice. Boxed in. They only had to appease the new TP contingent and Grover the Rover. Once the deadline passed, it was all-systems-go with the excuse that they LOWERED people’s taxes! YIPPIE!

Sarah5678xxx

 

Sir,

Republicans are finished. Going the way of the Whigs! Who represents the American taxpayer anymore? The conservative movement failed! The TEA Party failed! Hell, Reagan and Bush I failed; only Bush II didn’t raise taxes, but he spent us into oblivion and handed the country over to the Democrats who come and go spending. There is no one in the current climate that represents – really represents – the American taxpayer. The elderly are bleeding us dry. Soon the Baby Boomers will bankrupt us all! The youth is oblivious to all of it! The minorities are suckered into believing one party is for them and the other is not when neither is not. They both love guns and are afraid of abortion and afraid of immigration reform. This column of yours is right to point all of this out, but what are the alternatives? And don’t give me this trite bullshit about revolutions. There are no more revolutions. People are too interested in tweeting and IPADs and celebrity minutia to be truly “involved”!

Beat that cynicism, Campion, you crazy motherfucker!

Layton

 

Most places that dissect the political landscape do not go to the dark places Reality Check goes. I’m not sure this is a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe it’s just a thing. I often wonder how much of this column is a send off. Is this a way to play with the supposed important issues of the day? I know you’ve written of your apathy before, but when I read the breakdown of how congress is handling this fiscal cliff issue and how it will likely screw up the debt ceiling again and how this president is more worried about making speeches and appearing to care than actually governing I have to also wonder how much of what you cover is actually the joke and maybe you have no other choice.

Zach Ballan

 

Hello James,

I mentioned this once before, but it bears repeating. Almost all of these emails end up in my spam folder because of your use of the word “f*ck.” You write very intelligently, but those words distract for me. Really necessary???

Chuck

 

Mr. Campion,

I was in attendance nearly ten years ago at a book signing you had for Trailing Jesus and someone asked you why you use such abrasive language, your blatant and flippant use of vulgarities to make your points. And I distinctly recall you telling that person, “It’s hard to properly explain politics without using the F-word.” I laughed at that, as did many in attendance that day. And now, nearly a decade later, having come and go with following this column and your career, I realize that this was no quip. This was a great insight. It is in fact more of an honest insight than you will hear or read anywhere else.

It’s hard to believe that so many people are not in on this particular joke.

Matthew Russo

 

It is a shame that this last vote from one of the most dysfunctional and do-nothing congresses in U.S. history would vote for a minor bill when something so big could and should have been done. (TAX HIKES, NO DEAL & THE GOP CIVIL WAR – Issue: 1/9/13) There was so much to tackle and the president (if it weren’t for Joe Biden, this wouldn’t have even been accomplished) has not led at all on this. I voted for him, and make that twice now, and he was head and shoulders a better choice than McCain or Romney, but I am continually disappointed in the results of his work. He does not, as you right pointed out here, work successfully on anything across the aisle. I get the feeling that he honestly wants to, and I know the Republicans, especially this latest band of idiots, have stonewalled some of his measures, but there has been absolutely NO attempt on his part to get down and get things done. Call them out. He did so a little during this and it actually helped, and I think he’s already begun to set up the debt ceiling debacle to come by making sure these Republicans do not pull the same junk they did the last time around, but to what end? Where is the true bi-partisanship he continually promises? At least fake it!

PopeyeyeyeyeYAY

 

Why is John Boehner the speaker of the house? There has got to be someone somewhere in that capitol building that has a semblance of an idea what it takes to negotiate or communicate or lead a group of legislators. He is a fucking embarrassment. There is no other word for it. Why does he bother showing up to press conferences? Nearly every single one ends in him lying his ass off. I’m sure he believes this pile of crap, but then he has to shuffle his sorry ass back into public to all-but apologize for the shit he rolls out the day before. I mean, who the hell calls a press conference to announce a vote – all arrogant and full of spit and vinegar – and doesn’t even have the votes? Does he speak to his caucus? Does he understand the job? Say what you want about Nancy Pelosi, she was no pussy like this ass-jack.

Wall-Pie-Trooper

 

FUCK THEM ALL! (except for those who voted against this bill) How the fuck did our government get so completely fucked up? As my sister would so succinctly say, MOTHERFUCKER!

Elizabeth Vengen Esq.

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Tobacco, Booze & Firearms: An American Love Story

Aquarian Weekly 1/23/13 REALITY CHECK

TOBACCO, BOOZE & FIREARMS – AN AMERICAN LOVE STORY

In the midst of the furious debate on gun violence in America following the Newtown massacre, this space has dedicated over 2,000 words to the silly idea of trying to regulate human behavior and ignore the very core of the American psyche; the gun. Admittedly, the summation had gone a tad Mark Twain, floating majestically above the fray by clearly pointing out how utterly helpless we are as a species. Oh, Mrs. Clemens baby boy, how we miss ye. And so this week we’ll get into the nitty gritty by exploring more salient concepts like money and power found in the economic and cultural ties firearms have had in the formation of what we like to call our Holy Trinity.

Mighty John BrownThe Holy Trinity of the American Experience is tobacco, booze and firearms, in that order. These three elements are the cornerstone of this republic. They provided a texture to the lofty rhetoric of Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin, the clarion call of Patrick Henry and the musket blasts of the Minutemen. You can almost touch their influence in Thomas Jefferson’s radical screed of defiance aimed at an empire that dared possess the tangible fruits of rebellion; tobacco, booze and firearms. Free labor and land grabs may have made this country an unstoppable force for international power in a gilded age of white, Anglo-Saxon, male supremacy, but it was the Holy Trinity that provided the fuel.

The first British colony, Jamestown, Virginia became the birthplace of European colonialism in North America on the strength and riches of “brown gold”. Tobacco built the American Colonies and made Virginia its most powerful hub. The might of Virginia sent notice to the Continental Congress that slavery be left out of its native son’s “all men are created equal” idiom and put fellow Virginian George Washington in charge of the Continental Army. It is why today it houses the capital of the nation.

This was made possible by tobacco.

John Hancock, whose name by no mere coincidence appears first and largest in the signing of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, sparked the tax wars with Great Britain over what is known as the Liberty Affair. Hancock’s importing of Madeira wine, among other goods, brought to the continent on his famed sloop, the Liberty, helped build a personal empire, which found itself under siege of crippling leans by the British government, summarily turning the entire operation into a smuggling ring. And although the tax on tea, which sparked a seminal stir to revolution, it was pre-dated by the outrage over the price of wine, rum and scotch that led directly to the closing of the ports in Massachusetts, home to the foment of revolt in the words and deeds of its most vociferous patriot, John Adams.

This was made possible by booze.

And, well, as discussed over the past weeks in this space, none of these business dealings and high-minded talk of free states amount to a hill of beans without firearms, which aimed by the rabble at the mighty British Army forged a nation from the hoary shenanigans of land barons and importers. It then provided the force to stretch the shenanigans further west and inevitably across the globe. If the French had not butted in by sending us a statue of a lady holding a torch, a far better symbol of the United Sates might be a man smoking a cigarette while holding a bottle of whiskey and a rifle.

Not sure what this tell us, beyond the notion that industry, economy, and tradition trump human life. It is a high price some of us pay to live in a land that’s vital resource is the worship of the Holy Trinity.

However, despite its enduring mark on our nation, the Holy Trinity has consistently come under scrutiny by an equally commanding force in the forging of America; religion. It is to these shores the persecuted wished to openly worship without fear of government reprisal. Their stake in the power vacuum was a vital part of such draconian measures played out in the Prohibition Era and the William Morris trials of the late-1990s; both emerging triumphant in the moral outrage that occasionally cloaks the vox populi when trepidation over prolonged hedonism comes home to roost. To a lesser extent we have seen this pogrom against firearms in the push for the Brady Handgun Violence Act and the Assault Weapons Ban of the early nineties.

This balancing act of capitalistic profligacy and moral turpitude is why anyone doing what this space and the Reality Check News & Information Desk purports to do; sit back and enjoy the show. It is law, politics, protest and crime; it is MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and the TRUTH anti-smoking movement of the past two decades and Just Say No and Gun Control advocacies butting up against the mighty arms of the Holy Trinity; Big Tobacco, Anheuser-Busch, the NRA.

Big Tobacco had quite a run, hampered in the last two decades by heavy laws prohibiting smokers from enjoying in almost any indoor, and now in some cities like New York, outdoor locations. Hits against targeting advertising towards teens and massive warnings of just about any possible malady that could be contracted due to the use of the product, would not have been possible if the heads of seven of the major tobacco companies had not testified under oath to congress that nicotine was not addictive. It was self-inflicted wounds, but has yet to make a huge dent in the habit. Over 50 million Americans have died as a result of smoking in the past decade.

Booze, and its most powerful lobby, Anheuser-Busch, have never wavered, surviving the drunk-driving attacks of the 1980s and a bout with the satellite TV movement later in the decade. Before Direct TV all-but corned the market by making a deal with the National Football League, about as influential and powerful property in the nation, satellites were primarily used by sports bars, which provided “stolen” feeds of out-of-town games directly from networks with the NFL receiving no revenue. But the usually unflinching league, which spits sponsors and networks out like sunflower seeds, buckled when beer conglomerate unleashed its full potential, the results of which opened an entire media industry up for home use. Around 750,000 people have died of alcohol related deaths in the past decade.

And so now we have a blowback on firearms, which, by any measure of reaction, is warranted. Kindergarten children being mowed down in class by military-style kill-machines by another in a long line of anti-social, middle-class white nerd males is bad publicity. Dead children is a tough one; which the NRA in its infinite wisdom has predictably decided to suggest providing more guns to “good people”, as if it is tough enough distinguishing between the good and bad people. But just as Big Tobacco could not have its CEO’s telling the consumer base it’s product is a drug, and Anheuser-Busch could not be bothered with the NFL’s lost profits, the NRA cannot go to the White House or on Meet The Press and agree to start putting leans all over their cash cow.

Roughly 320,000 people have died in the last ten years due to gun violence.

Not sure what this tell us, beyond the notion that industry, economy, and tradition trump human life. It is a high price some of us pay to live in a land that’s vital resource is the worship of the Holy Trinity.

 

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Guns & The American Experiment

Aquarian Weekly 1/16/13 REALITY CHECK

GUNS & THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT

We should dispense with the aspiration to ‘be liked’ or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism. We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers’ keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague and unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better. – Excerpt from Memo PPS23 “Review of Current Trends, U.S. Foreign Policy” by George Kennan, Head of the U.S. State Department Policy Planning Staff. Written February 28, 1948, Declassified June 17, 1974

George KennanEvery second the American Experiment remains in motion human nature is on trial. This is what we have unleashed upon civilization. Ours, this mostly unfettered, stumbling mish-mosh of haphazard choices, is the playground for what price there is for freedom. It entertains both its most glorious triumphs, what the sixteenth president called “our better angels”, and the despicable depths of depravity, something the same man unleashed on half the nation. It is our blessing and curse, a tightrope balance between the brass ring and bone cancer. Most of us live somewhere in its comfy middle, but we are without fail the heaving breath of its legacy. We cannot escape it anymore than we can escape our very DNA.

And make no mistake; there is no escaping the violence of human nature. It is in our blood and our Bible and our founding. At the barrel of a gun, did we break the chains of tyranny, tore through the natives and stomped the rebels, forged the West and built the shining cities. It is through massacre and destruction across the globe could we fulfill Thomas Jefferson’s promise to be the world’s beacon of light, taken to epic heights during horrific world wars and ill-fated police actions and black ops and foreign coups.

It is within human nature, as in all nature, to dominate. Manifest Destiny, American Exceptionalism, Damn the Torpedoes, From the Halls of Montezuma, Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick, and on and on. The American Experiment is its proving ground. Through the deepest forests and the mountains majesty, over the bloody terrain where the flag, may it wave, is planted with the wind of domination. And with domination comes the fear that it will be threatened, as in the children’s game of King of the Hill; the British Empire knew it, the Church knew it, the Kaiser knew it, and we have known it for two-plus centuries.

This American Experiment is also a forward moving concept, never backwards. We may glance back with a nostalgic eyes and see a time we wish to return to, emulate, celebrate, but it is hard to deny it hasn’t been paved with gore and guts and the grand old gun.

We are ultimately the sum of our parts, this fantasy that by the barrel of the same gun we can also cease the march of the cult, the criminal, the vigilante, the government. You might ask how that worked out for David Koresh and the hundreds of religious militants armed to the teeth in a fortified compound in Waco, Texas. That is if they hadn’t been plowed under by U.S. tanks and burned alive by the government.

When the gun lobby talks about the right of ownership, it is correct. It is the ownership of dominance, the fulcrum against fear; the fear of the brown guy, the foreigner, the dark stare from the stranger, the terrible chance that somewhere in the mist lurks someone who needs to be taken down.

Koresh knew right then that the gun is our most illuminating symbol of freedom. The gun defines us. The gun provides us the free will that Cain enjoyed in order to choose to either slay his brother or walk away. The gun provides the American Experiment with its human nature hypothesis; dominate, protect, eradicate.

When the gun lobby talks about the right of ownership, it is correct. It is the ownership of dominance, the fulcrum against fear; the fear of the brown guy, the foreigner, the dark stare from the stranger, the terrible chance that somewhere in the mist lurks someone who needs to be taken down. It is the core of our myths, our American story bloated with greed and lust and the man in the white hat taking down the one in the black hat, so we can all go home fulfilled with our comforting dose of dominance. It is Jesse James. General Custer. Al Capone. Rambo.

The gun is the core of our American Experiment: To shoot or not to shoot. The right to bear arms and become the predator or the victim or live peacefully — not because it is demanded or bellowed or craved or even urgently needed, but because we choose to live free or die, or both. This is the grand bargain. It is non-negotiable. It exists without guilt, what the Buddhists understand as “just is”.

We, the Americans in this great Experiment, own this choice, that precious moment of time between whether to take a life or turn away, just like we own the burning of innocents abroad, the countless assassinations and invasions and colonizations, the secret overthrow of democratic governments for fascist regimes that afforded us the right of domination to cultivate industry, swell our economy and expand our horizons. Guns are the beat of our national anthem; of rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air, and our heroes of war and Remember the Alamo.

It was as if after the Newtown massacre, everyone suddenly woke up. Where have you been? What did you think this was all about? This freedom? This human nature? This America? It was as if it were 9/11 all over again, and we awoke to the realities of a world we created; and not in any calculated plot to have enemies we nurtured and provoked and partnered with come back to kill our citizens, but because it is the toll that is paid for our pursuit of dominance, to achieve the quintessence of our human nature.

And now we are going to regulate this mess, pass laws that will curtail the minutest segment of this groaning beast?

Please.

It’s the guns. It’s the games. It’s the movies. It’s the music. It’s the streets. It’s the economy. It’s the media. It’s everything but us, free, dominant and imbued with our nature.

Can you recall a single law passed since the Civil Rights Act that has actually granted anyone more freedom? How much safer are we? You might ask the kids in Columbine who were wiped out during the first Assault Weapons Ban.

Oh, but we’ll pass something, and it will assuage our guilt for being human and American and dominant and in fear and draped in the ignorance of feeling for just a fleeting moment as if we are entitled to safety from ourselves.

The sun will set and then come up again and those who need to get whatever weapon they wish to get will do so, as will those who wish to get the illegal drugs they procure with little effort every single day. And we’ll continue to be so pleased with ourselves that we are just and moral, while also being completely free.

This, of course, is the aphrodisiac of human nature; denial. It is how we humans cope with all this nature.

 

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Tax Hikes & No Deal 2013

Aquarian Weekly 1/9/13 REALITY CHECK

TAX HIKES, NO DEAL & THE GOP CIVIL WAR

In the final hours of the first day of 2013, Speaker of the House John Boehner strode despondently through the Capitol rotunda amongst a clamoring mob of reporters, looked in the direction of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and spat, “Go fuck yourself!” Not far from Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell looked down at the floor and smirked. Many in the crowded hall believed the Speaker’s derision was meant only for Reid, a mortal enemy of House Republicans and the poster boy for the type of bill Boehner had just watched the Republican-controlled congress pass into law. But it could not go unnoticed that it was McConnell, a supposed ally, that pushed the onus for the entire nation’s tax hike squarely on a 16-hour binge that left Boehner no choice but to deliver his moderate and lame duck votes.

Mitch McConnellThe Fiscal Cliff saga ended with an increased tax rate on the upper two percent of the populace, an extension of unemployment benefits, and a bump in estate taxes, but not so much as a fingerprint on federal spending. Suddenly Boehner was a pariah and McConnell and the Senate lauded as the body of congress that avoided catastrophe. Even Nancy Pelosi hailed McConnell as a champion.

The air, one reporter noted, hung heavy with the stench of TEA Party death. Even the trusted deficit hawk, Paul Ryan, who stood as the only true representative of fiscal conservatives on a doomed national ticket, voted Yey. The man for whom those of us paying attention during the campaign noted had already voted for George W. Bush’s insane 2003 Medicare boondoggle that added seven trillion dollars to the national debt, had now rubber stamped an additional four trillion on top of it. And Boehner, who nearly 48 hours later barely survived a vote for re-election to remain Speaker in the face of a mass exodus of GOP hardliners, had to realize that whatever the president might say about refusing to negotiate the looming Debt Ceiling Fight Part II under any circumstances, he now has no power to stop it.

Not since the disgraced Newt Gingrich, straddled with an ethics admonishment and stung by the resurrection of Bill Clinton, has a Speaker of the House received a narrower victory. Two years removed from a rousing slaughter of Democrats in the mid-terms and riding what he felt was the controllable egos of first-timers, the figure head of the 112th congress, arguably the most ineffectual in modern U.S. history, is a man with no constituency who resides over the first Republican supported tax increase since the dawn of the nineties.

Gremlins from inside showed their fangs when the Speaker then refused to bring to a vote the promised Sandy Relief funds that had gone stagnant for 60 days, 50 or so days more than any previous natural disaster on American soil. Republican congressmen went ballistic, taking to the floor to publically flog Boehner while high-profile Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie repeatedly called his office shouting obscenities at a flustered secretary when asking for “that dunce to come and take his medicine like a man.” Christie concluded a spirited public dressing down of his party and specifically Boehner by whispering to a colleague on his way off the podium that the man who still had not returned his calls was “a pussy”.

Republican congressmen went ballistic, taking to the floor to publically flog Boehner while high-profile Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie repeatedly called his office shouting obscenities at a flustered secretary when asking for “that dunce to come and take his medicine like a man.”

The White House had scored its victory, however hollow, as the president won an 18-month campaign fight against opponents who argued against raising the taxes on two to three percent at the top of the wealth chain. This did not stop the Left from eviscerating Obama for caving in on the $400,000 threshold from the long-anticipated and hoped for $250,000. Later, though, economists rightly pointed out that accounting for today’s rate of inflation, the antiquated latter number only applied to when the original Bush Tax Cuts went into effect at the turn of the century. Had the Clinton Era Tax Rates not be eliminated, the number would have ended up around $397,000.

It did not help public perception of Obama that several independent reports estimated Joe Cool’s Hawaii Christmas romp costing taxpayers upwards of four million dollars, making this Man of the People act appear as if it was not only hypocritical, but downright shameful. And there is clear evidence that what ailed the president’s first term, what Bob Woodward in his most recent work, “The Price of Politics” called “a lack of interest to work directly with congress” had not yet found a cure. Aside from brief calls between the Oval Office and the Speaker’s quarters, Obama let his vice president and the Senate carry his water once again.

But ultimately Joe Cool held the winning hand and everyone on both sides of the aisle knew it. Shit, the president was doing a victory lap before the final Senate tally and long before the rankled GOP-led congress had a crack at the thing. The Republicans, flaccid and cornered, were going to let the Fiscal Cliff deadline come and go and then claim to be saving 98 percent of the American public from significant tax hikes, while postponing the sequestration of their beloved Military Industrial Complex. This was never in question, despite the maudlin posturing.

It became apparent by New Year’s Eve that Boehner and his fractured and soon to be scuffling Republican caucus was coming apart at the seams. Cries from blowhards like California’s Darrell Issa that congress would counter with stringent entitlement cuts was buried under fears that Wall St. and then the electorate would sink them further into the political abyss. A complete capitulation to the quickly cobbled Senate bill from the dawn hours of 2013 was the only course of action. Boehner’s reluctant right-hand man, Eric Cantor, who in the capacity of House Majority Leader fully backed his Speaker’s half-bright Plan B that died before it reached the floor a week earlier, had broken ranks and began knifing Boehner behind the scenes while calling a press conference to state that in no way would he dare vote for the Senate’s “incomplete” bill.

There was a groundswell for Cantor’s revolt, which he did not abate by January 3, when the House reluctantly re-elected the Speaker. This means there is now almost a 100 percent chance that congress will shut the government down in a few weeks over the Debt Ceiling, forcing Obama’s hand in using an executive order to pay the nation’s bills and push the hardliners to begin to ask for Boehner’s head. Cantor, it seems, will not argue with this, as he is already begun to lay the groundwork for this tact.

This has been a rough few months for Republicans, but the trouble is just beginning for Obama, as there is a serious discussion internally among those in the White House that the Simpson/Bowles provisions would have been a greater salvo when it was issued over two years hence, as the murmuring on the Right has speculated that Obama’s purported four trillion dollar compromise might have looked better than what has just been passed and what awaits in budget battles to be waged over the opening months of the 113th congress.

Before he is even sworn in, the president has already cashed in quite a bit of his bargaining chips, banking on a dissolute and frightened GOP opposition still smarting from the results of November 6.

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell’s Machiavellian shenanigans keep the heat on Boehner and the House and the collateral damage on the White House.

Go fuck yourself, indeed.

 

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 1/2/13 REALITY CHECK

READERS RESPONSES

While it is true that Obama is in a no-lose situation now, having gained re-election by the strongest margin for a Democrat since FDR, I think it is incumbent on him to be more aggressive than you even describe in your column. (THE EMPEROR’S NEW SHOW — Issue: 11/28/12) Having voted for his “change” mantra the first time around (I abstained this time) I was disappointed in his less than enthusiastic fervor for getting into the muck with congress or being more assertive during the entire Health Care debate and vote and later failing miserably to explain it to the people.

I believe, as you do, that these second terms are rife with trouble; hubris, laziness, or an out-of-touch disease that hits all presidents in their final political run of their lives, but mostly I think it is that animal you describe as “a man who no longer has to run for anything.”

While I’m inclined to think that with a recalcitrant Republican opposition in congress and so many big hurdles to climb, the Fiscal Cliff negotiations, the new Debt Ceiling back-and-forth, Immigration Reform, Iran, the Deficit, this will likely be another underwhelming second term.

Judith O’Keefe

 

It will be interesting to see the amount of passion exerted on the Right now that the TEA Party has been neutered. This past election was a joke for them. I have to ask, do these people, who worked so hard, and they really did, whether you agree with all of their protests or candidates or not, they did really take things to another level of grass roots politics — do they feel cheated? Did they feel cheated by the party that claimed to embrace them? Did they feel cheated for the lack of voice they received in the primaries, as each and every candidate they tried to latch onto to was ultimately defeated by a moderate? Did they feel cheated that their arguments about the laziness of an electorate raised and brainwashed into a take-take-take culture were overwhelmed merely three years after they were offered?

I know you always say to be careful to think that once you make a mark in Washington that it will hold much past one or two election cycles, but even you have to be amazed at how little the TEA Party has mattered. The question then that I have for President Obama is will he be emboldened by this new voice he has been provided by the people and go hard Left this time; arguments to the contrary that his first term was littered by Leftist governing — I argue it was a mish-mosh of centrist nothingness. Even Obamacare reeks of middle-of-the-road junk legislation, something I fear we will pay for forever.

Hell, I know Romney was a crappy candidate. I am glad he was sent packing. But I wonder what we are getting in Obama II.

Jer009badass

 

The president should be strengthened by his re-election. For nearly three years the cry from his opposition was that not only would he be a one-term president, but leave in disgrace, ala Truman or G.W. Bush. But the very opposite has occurred. He gained momentum, because the opposition had no viable answers. They made shit up and for awhile people were angered by the slow return of the economy or maybe Obamacare or maybe by the nods to Cap & Trade and broken promises to end wars quicker and close Gitmo, so they were inclined to buy it. But in the end, when these same people began to pay attention to the record, it was not a disaster. Fair to middling perhaps, but no disaster.

Now this president that set history on its ear, that did in fact change the political winds in Washington and took as many slings and arrows as any president in recent memory for his personal past; whether being a citizen or whatever nonsense the radicals made up, can lead for real.

No more excuses about how awful the last lousy president left this country’s fiscal solvency in, and how Bush destroyed our foreign relations and sunk us into unwinnable, ill-conceived wars. Time to lead or be judged solely on that.

This is where history is made, not in elections.

I pray he answers the call.

Lizzy-TalkBack543

 

Mr. President, I didn’t vote for you because I didn’t feel that you earned my vote in the first time. That being said, I don’t want you to fail. You were chosen represent my country, so I want you to make it a better place. Mr. President, please prove me wrong.

donp700

 

Your nod to the politics of this Benghazi tragedy is right on the money. It is an obvious attempt by the defeated Republicans to take the sheen off the apple of this decisive victory for Obama. The only scandal here is that a disgraced John McCain, once a beaming American hero, so clear-headed and independent in his thinking, yes, even a maverick, as he claimed in his ill-fated 2008 election, the same man who unleashed the horrible Sarah Dumb-Ass upon an unsuspecting world, would engage in such chicanery.

The only fly in this ointment is that while the Democrats failed to make a case of Watergate, which was breaking during the final months of the 1972 Election, and most of the national media ignored its obvious impact on an election Nixon would win in a monumental landslide, soon the truth emerged. It would fell his second term in ways the country had not seen in over a century.

I fail to see how this is anything close to Watergate, a constitutional crisis like no other, but there is fire where there is smoke and one has to wonder how much of this dirt is tossed on a White House that while feeling its oats in a rounding re-election, would be wise to take all allegations seriously. The Republicans will not stop with a mere election to oust this president. Hope they know this.

Fielding II

 

Benghazi is not a scandal? Four Dead Americans, one of who was the Ambassador, on the anniversary of 9/11 all blamed on a video and a non-existent demonstration and that’s not a scandal? When the compound had been repeatedly attacked in the months before 9/11. When the Ambassador had asked for more protection and had been denied. When the Ambassador knew that he had been targeted. When the attack went on for seven hours and was being viewed in real time by our intelligence people and no attempt was made to rescue our people. When the head of the CIA said he knew almost immediately that it was a terrorist attack and the President and his administration kept telling the American people and the United Nations that it was not a planned terrorist attack. That doesn’t constitute a scandal? Are you serious? Baghdad Bob lives in America in the form of the American media.

urbanjoe

 

If George Bush was not taken to task for the horrors of 9/11, I should think this tragedy in Benghazi would not merit a peep.

Ellie Tellie

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12/14/12

Aquarian Weekly 12/26/12 REALITY CHECK

12/14/12

A myth is an image in terms of which we try to make sense of the world. – Alan Watts

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? – Matthew 6:26-27

There is a video on YOUTUBE of a Canadian golden eagle flying majestically through a cloud-streaked sky, cutting through the wind with an impressive wingspan, talons poised and beak slacked joyously. Suddenly the giant bird reverses its course and swoops violently down upon a meadow and grabs a child, about 10 to 14 months, and lifts it into the air. The voice of what the viewer could only guess is the child’s father begins to shout, “Holy shit!”, which is heard above the screams of its mother. The giant bird struggles to lift the weight and must drop the child about eight feet from the ground. It fortuitously lands unharmed, rolling over and crying hysterically. The eagle, hardly fazed by this failure, ascends again to seek out a lighter load for its prey.

NewtownA casual observer of this can be amazed, even titillated; it is nature at its most stunning, a balance of cold calculation mixed with random circumstance and vicious beauty. A more subjective view of the event engenders horror; the terrifying understanding that to live is expose that life to swift and brutal disorder. Either way, it is the way of nature, the random and sudden meeting between a hunting-killing machine and its unsuspecting victim, developed over centuries of evolution into something that cannot be stopped by merely eradicating it once, twice or a dozen times. There is always another and another and then another species that will swoop down until the realization that no plan or level of intellect or force or compassion can halt its progression. Only fortune could hope to shield life from it.

Succumbing to the reality of nature, to the vagaries of its relentless law of chaos, sparks horror and dread in the human heart. It is too much to bear, this sense that no one is either safe or in danger, it is merely life, existence, and therefore placed in the laissez-faire course of acting as predator or prey. It is the haphazard but perfectly functioning cruelty of the natural world; the world we live in, not the fantasy utopian dreams created by civilization’s laws, religion and cultural myths, which have transformed the wildly unpredictable snake in order to conjure the evil tempter of Eden.

But the snake, as the great Native American proverb warns, is a snake, nothing more; not evil or devil or monster. It is the snake, sharing existence with us, the all-important human, who cannot help looking for a way to control the snake from being the snake.

And so, on the fourteenth day of the twelfth month of the year twenty-twelve, such a predator, as random and furious and sudden as the golden eagle careening towards the defenseless child, emerged to lay waste to twenty-six lives, twenty of which had not yet reached their eighth year in this unfettered chaos of existence. One young man, whose name is not important, as if anyone had bothered to name the eagle, walked out of the myth society had created to realize his true nature, that of the predator, and began seeking the truth of his being; a truth as random and horrifying as the heart that beat within him.

The survivors and the witnesses on the ground and on television, some housewives, others businessmen the news media and the president acted as humans do when the random chaos of existence unleashes its indefinable mayhem in places not normally if ever visited upon. There are tears and cries for explanation and security against it; as if in some strange way there is security against existence, as if there is some law to pass or prayer to offer or secure place anyone can go to avoid it.

It is the snake, sharing existence with us, the all-important human, who cannot help looking for a way to control the snake from being the snake.

But it is forgivable panic, since a significant portion of existence is the desire to preserve it and to also protect those who may need protecting against the forces of nature; like levees against the rising tide or measures to keep the billowing flames from devouring us. It is forgivable that humans cannot and will not ever accept that at any moment the predator will strike in the form of a storm or a fire or the troubled mythmaker manifesting carnage to wreak its blind vengeance upon the unsuspecting purveyors of illusion.

Perhaps in a moment of madness, I too would ask for forgiveness to have written that Penn State University should have been razed in the wake of years of child rape; bankrolled and provided without a peep from faculty and coaches in employ to protect, serve and educate; a systemic rape house for a pedophile they called colleague and friend, allowed, nay, enabled to unleash his random carnage upon the innocence of youth. And well, there are far more children being raped in churches and schools and homes across this nation and every nation every hour of every day than there are myth-crushing gunmen.

Maybe some forgiveness should be provided me for repeatedly pointing out that each and every one of us who call ourselves American provide money to our government to bomb villages and cities across the Middle East; hospitals and schools and playgrounds with innocent children being massacred, burned and mutilated. Our tax money pays for it and some of us even cheer it. And this has been going on unchecked for decades; here, there and everywhere.

But you can keep your forgiveness. I don’t mind. I am just like you. I have been fed the same myths and illusions. The Bogeyman is in the closet. The Bogeyman wears special garb and speaks special languages and has agendas and ideologies. The Bogeyman can be spotted and ferreted out and made to stand down. There are cages to put him in and pills to quell his urges and science and medicine to explain him and a God to judge him.

But there is no Bogeyman and there is no closet or jail or drug or God that will keep him in check. He is next door and down the street. He sits next to you on the train and hands you your change at Starbucks. He lives in the inner city, the suburbs, the woods. He laughs at jokes and grits his teeth when he stubs his toe on the furniture .He has a blog. He has a dog. He goes to church. He owns a gun. He doesn’t own a gun. He plays video games and he watches movies, like the guy passing him on the street and the other guy reading about the guy obliterating school children or his high school bullies or the girls who ignore him or the parents who don’t love him or the guy he didn’t vote for or the music he used to like but now sounds like a hollow shrill.

He is you.

He is me.

He is the eagle, the snake, the gunman.

He is nature.

He is existence.

The rest is myth, except for the parts that are illusion.

 

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The (New) Never Deal

Aquarian Weekly 12/19/12 REALITY CHECK

THE (NEW) NEVER DEAL The Madness Method Explained

Now that things have gone underground in Washington, the wheels of our national fate are turning. A sign of progress is that the first body of this standoff has been tossed out. Susan Rice has fallen on the sword and will remove one jack-boot the president had to humiliate the already damaged Republicans. Accepting her de facto resignation from consideration for secretary of state due to her role as puppet mouthpiece for the Benghazi debacle in September is the olive branch or duck and cover the White House needs. Meanwhile at the Capitol, the speaker of the House has driven his blade through the carcass of Paul Ryan, the only pariah left from the failed attempt to carry out senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell’s doomed operation; “Make Barack Obama a one-term president.”

Human bids are crucial to these types of negotiations. American history is ripe with the skin trade amongst politicians. In 1832, Andrew Jackson, sick with brain warts, offered several men up to the obviously mad Henry Clay in the National Bank Affair, many of which disappeared completely from public life. Clay, well known for treating states as if poker chips, was well acquainted with Jackson’s proclivity for gunplay and offered the president six counties in Kentucky to open.

So now that the sides have mercifully stopped grandstanding to the press every five seconds and begun to hammer away in private, there is tight security on who is taking the worst beating and who can appear the least wretched to the American public when this bloated dung bag is finally sent up for a vote.

John Boehner has already tested the waters on this. The speaker is a poll freak. Many in his employ claim he hangs the results in pie charts above his desk, so that when the TEA Partiers enter his office to complain they can plainly see that now 70 percent of the voting public, 50 percent of Republicans, wish to tax the top two percent. According to the Wall St. Journal, hardly a bastion of leftist propaganda, now 80 percent of voters want a compromise, and for the first time since its inception, over half of those polled believe the election settled any discussion on the survival of Obamacare.

As explained nearly a month ago in this space, the jig is up for House Republicans. But according to reports inside the capitol, after a private briefing with its caucus, there appears to be little budging on the raising of revues on the rich. Not because it’s the national will or a normal executive mandate carried immediately after a general election, but because districts and counties historically fuel members of congress, not states like senators, or the nation as a whole like presidents. The congress has always been a tough nut, made much tougher since for some weird reason the Republican establishment thought it could ignore the influx of the TEA Party fervor in 2010 and elevate an old-line lifer to the post of speaker and then nominate a liberal to lead its national ticket.

But stranger events are to come, as the word being bandied about in the “smart” circles centers on both the White House and the congress allowing this debate to purposely spill over January 1; so all can save political face. And quite frankly, it makes perfect sense.

For Republicans, the claim can be that taxes have now hiked on everyone automatically, thus a compromise can occur without breaking the no-tax pledge and the guilty can appear to be actually lowering taxes. Of course, the hope will be that most people don’t read this column, which most do not, and will forget that it was congress that devised this insane plan in the first place, in essence defaulting on all promises.

This, of course, fills this heart with bubbles of sweet joy, if only because it proves the point of this entire Reality Check News & Information gig: All of this is utter bullshit.

For Joe Cool, the White House can continue to point to the abysmally low public rating of the current congress as do-nothing and act as a hero for five minutes. All of this is plausible, because in the original agreement, the Fiscal Cliff directive has a retroactive clause, allowing a deal to be struck on, say, January 5 or even February 5, in order for everyone to appear functional during an actual crisis, instead of merely avoiding one, which in cinematic parlance is boffo.

This, of course, fills this heart with bubbles of sweet joy, if only because it proves the point of this entire Reality Check News & Information gig: All of this is utter bullshit.

Remember when everyone told us this latest in a series of stalemate elections would decide the existence of the nation? And remember how it was the most important thing since Adam banged Eve? Yeah, well, you voted and no one in charge seems to give a flying fart. Everything, as the saying goes, is as it was before. Maybe Barack Obama is standing a little taller and the part of congress with a self-preservation streak is humbled, but for the most part it is status quo with no one standing aside to say, “I guess the people decided”, because the people, as usual, decide nothing pertinent, except whose picture gets to hang in customs when you slink back across the border with your baggage packed with Cuban cigars.

For the record, this has never happened to me. It is merely a vacant analogy.

And what then of this terrible Fiscal Cliff that will doom us all; where blood will run through the gutters of our streets while Baby Jesus weeps for our living souls?

Also bullshit.

See? Doesn’t all that hand ringing on whether Mitt Romney was an imbecile or if Obama stole Florida seem silly now? What fools we were to let these pikers rile our gills, make us feud with friends, take to the streets in gory garb, and wait on line for three hours to vote. It was a fuck around, a piss in the wind. It’s akin to surviving a roller coaster ride in which you truly believed you might die and then as you exit a ten year-old kid jumps into your seat.

This is a thrill ride worth writing about. Sometimes I feel as emboldened as that woman who spent her life with the apes. Hell, it brings back fond memories of being half out of my mind; check that, completely out of my mind on gin, sucking on a fresh stogie at Shelly’s Backroom with my pal, Georgetown a generation ago: Newt Gingrich throwing a fit for not getting the good seat on Bill Clinton’s plane and shutting down the government. How we would laugh.

For instance, I can hear us now deconstructing the fact that with Susan Rice gone, most likely to take the non-hearing national security advisor position, John Kerry, once the bane of the Right Wing smear system, will instead be named secretary of state. Meanwhile, Republican Chuck Hagel will be the new secretary of defense; a man who refused to support the anti-Rice cheerleader, John McCain for president against, you guessed it, Barack Obama in 2008. And then, in the font of poetic justice, Scott Brown, sent packing on a rail by the voters of Massachusetts will get to run again for Kerry’s vacant senate seat.

I complete this analysis at the Clemens Estate, but I’m spiritually in Shelly’s right now.

Another round, please!

 

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