james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 3/7/01 REALITY CHECK

HELP WIPE OUT FEDERAL EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY IN OUR TIME

“The President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” -U.S. Constitution Article II Section 2

There was a time, not too long ago–or maybe eons ago, it’s hard to tell now–that I found myself in a Bayridge, Brooklyn loft listening to a plot to kidnap Casper Weinberger. There were always plots back then, concocted by the type of people who laughed at any talk of reason, especially at 3:00 am after two consecutive days of serious drinking. So I sloughed it off as speed-addled gibberish, finished my beer and got the hell out of there.

“Grab Weinberger out of his three-story luxury home, throw him in a potato gunny and drag him to the crack boulevards in downtown D.C., then we’ll get the real story.”

That was the plan, and I would have volunteered to wrap the rope around the damn sack if I thought it would accomplish anything beyond garnering us a federal sentence. But not even Ollie North would be doing that kind of time. Ollie took the fifth, and so did Bill Clinton’s friends and lovers last week. And anyone else he diddled in the Lincoln bedroom those last precious hours in the White House.

But overt posturing about ideologies and party politics never did jazz me. Those things are nothing more than a smokescreen for the rich and powerful, and all the grass roots movements, protests or odd kidnapping would never slow them down.

The Iran-Contra boys got off easy. George Bush sr. saw to that. He was, after all, a CIA man first, and “once CIA, always CIA.” So Casper and Ollie’s cabin boy, Elliott Abrams, and Reagan’s security advisor, Robert C. McFarlane, who thought it was a good idea to swallow the Valium mother lode rather than rot in prison, all received cushy pardons from the president for pissing on the constitution. This was Bush’s parting gift to the bleeding hearts that dared question the judgment of The Great Communicator.

But those were top-level political criminals, not like the cheap whores Bill Clinton pardoned. Dime-store hoods like Marc Rich and chubby crackers like Hugh Rodham are pond scum compared to the depth of human mucus presidents dine with daily.

And no matter how much the bored national press tries to hype this daily litany of street trash the president set free, William Jefferson Clinton only carries the notorious, if not eminently predictable tradition, of abusing absolute power.

The Clinton’s were bought and sold long before they left Little Rock. Every president is, and will always be. Criminals are as much a part of our national landscape as public servants. Except criminals have money to burn, and politicians need flammable funds by the boatload, especially big-time politicians.

Big Bill wanted to make his “money people” happy. They pushed him over the top in New Hampshire in ’92 and promises were made, promises he couldn’t keep, like the one Joseph Kennedy made to the Chicago mob and Richard Daley to swing Illinois to his boy Jack so daddy could fuck the government for yanking his ambassador status back in World War II.

Federal executive clemency allowed George Washington’s pardon of all participants in the Whiskey Rebellion, Abe Lincoln and his successor, Andrew Johnson’s full and complete pardon to “all and every person who directly or indirectly participated in the late insurrection or rebellion” known as the Civil War.

Violent drunks and confederates aside, it is Gerald Ford’s pardoning of this nation’s greatest criminal Richard Nixon, and now Clinton’s obvious fire sale of freedom for campaign funds, legal fees and key votes for the wife, that has the dander dancing again.

But to call anything administered in the name of complete and absolute power illegal or immoral is missing the point of this, or any other, republic.

Big Bill knew he was meat on the way out. His legacy was humping, and his would-be successor used every angle to avoid mentioning it in a doomed campaign. Another Bush was breathing down his neck, and it was time to pay the piper. Hollywood money machines need to be greased, and Hollywood isn’t just a city in California. The constitution clearly allows it, so the argument is with the system not the use of it.

In the case of Rich and his flamboyant ex-wife, who dumped millions into Clinton endeavors, and more importantly, the state of Israel, the answer was easy. The Clinton’s bought off a 20-year fugitive to bolster significant Jewish votes for Hillary’s senate run. Should the Clinton’s apologize for bartering deals to hold onto power if the constitution provides such unchecked autonomy?

The second article of the constitution also hands military power over to its government’s executive branch. The Korean and Viet Nam police actions were the result of presidential decrees, cleverly sidestepping the messy business of having the legislative branch declare war. Thousands of Americans lost their lives in these little power plays, everything from Truman’s miscalculations to LBJ’s escalations to Reagan and Bush’s wars of convenience.

Bill Clinton is the same man who crawled from the Arkansas slime nine years ago. The public voted him in, and the constitution allowed him to run amok. The uproar is not with the past, but the current state of law allowing anyone in the United States government absolute power.

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Bill Clinton Remembered

Aquarian Weekly 1/31/01 REALITY CHECK

SO LONG TO BILL CLINTON – MINISTER OF FUN

Unlike many of my columnist brethren I have not found a good enough reason to compile an editorial overview of the Clinton presidency. Looking back serves only the purposes of historians and lawyers, and having never been accused of either profession, there is nothing for me to gain but the check mailed to the Putnam Bunker for penning it. But we were all there during these past eight years, and many have stories to impart and thoughts to convey. I am just not one of them, because the more I bang on this damned keyboard in front of me, the more I cannot think of one rational point that would encapsulate those times with any true justice.

Putting the universe in a paper cup was John Lennon’s deal, and then some transient manic-depressive put five bullets into him, and, for me, wrapping up the legacy of William Jefferson Clinton would be a far more fatal folly. And although death does not necessarily await the conclusion of this essay of the absurd, there was a time that evoking the image of Big Bill meant walking a tightrope against a stiff wind with no net in sight.

Politics has always been a crude hobby of mine, like getting loaded and debating the unanswerable or betting money I don’t have on football. But politics to Bill Clinton was life and death, and to get in the ring with him meant playing for keeps. Even reporting on it was a scarring experience. Some people learned that too late, but not me. I was always sure that being president was only some kind of warped high for Bill Clinton, a king-hell fuck around worthy of Ripley’s, but as serious as bone cancer, and I wasn’t about to put it all on the line to explain it.

In the summer of 1992 I was pushing 30, working as a sports columnist for a Westchester paper and coaching little monsters from Gravesend Brooklyn in the art of basketball. My dear friend, Chris Barrera happened to be working a media event for the burgeoning Clinton campaign at the Rye Hilton, where he shook the then governor of Arkansas’ hand and put all his eggs squarely in his basket. What followed was a strong affiliation with a Baby-Boomer giant, hatched from a Dead Head dream – a sax-playing, pot-smoking, war-protesting Elvis with a silky delivery – willing to get down with the corporate war mongers and deal makers to lay the leather.

The rest of us were laughing heartily at Bill Clinton that summer. He was accused of sex crimes, draft dodging and busy fending off a potential investigation for illegal money laundering. Gary Hart couldn’t survive an afternoon on a yacht, what chance did a man who was derisively cheered for wrapping up an interminably long-winded speech at the ’88 Democratic Convention have against a president of the United States that was riding high in the saddle after Desert Storm.

Those close to George Bush were sure the fat years of Ronald Reagan were still feeding the fire. He had the allusions of King George and the delusions of King Lear, but before long he would find himself bloodied in the Clinton ring. Meanwhile, a bleating curmudgeon named Ross Perot was busy suckering an electorate into believing that America was some kind of factory that needed a spit shine. He too failed to prepare for “the ring” and did nothing but help make Bill Clinton president.

And damn if Big Bill didn’t come out swinging with “gays in the military” and sending his wife into congress on a wing and a prayer to enact his greatest campaign promise. But as the liberals grumbled and the right wing smirked Hillary made a mockery of a national health care, and before two years were up, the Clinton’s were causing their party to lose control of congress for the first time in 40 years.

Then the government closed down, and political barnacles like Dick Morris came out of crevices to read Big Bill a riot act that would have him not only surviving the Republican storming of the Bastille, but looking like a mutated conservative doing it. Before long Newt Gingrich was another casualty of “the ring” and the sunny side of the economic street had unemployment down and the national debt being paid off like never before.

After all, Big Bill earned his executive wings with The Comeback, not one in particular, but a long line of beating the kind of truly savage odds Vegas junkies only dream about. A mere mortal would have been finished before his first limping campaign hit New Hampshire, but Bill Clinton survived, check that, thrived in the shit storm. Every cub reporter within ten feet of him had the makings of some hot story of rape, murder and embezzlement back then. Freelancers made a fortune on Bill Clinton; one of the hidden perks of his booming economy.

And those same freelancers came calling when word trickled that someone was coming clean on record about the chief. Man, those were the days of wine and roses for anyone calling journalism home. Chumps with three quotes and a flip pad could get credentials by the time Monica Lewinsky was done squawking into a tapped phone. Even people with no business commenting on politics made a descent living. Anyone in the press corps who weren’t goofy with excitement weren’t around long, because Bill Clinton was news, he breathed it in and expelled its virtues. It was all just rock and roll for Big Bill, not unlike Keith Richards’ statement about not having trouble with drugs, but cops. And Big Bill knew all about Keith Richards.

For me there is only one story worthy of explaining Bill Clinton.

During the height of his pending impeachment, Big Bill was on the golf course with Vernon Jordan when a call came from one of his lawyers about the grand jury transcripts, and after several minutes of stone-faced listening, the president answered, “You bet.” When queried on whether the news was bad or good, Clinton grinned and said, “Bad for me, which is how I like it.”

It was hard not to love that type of balls, no matter what you thought of William Jefferson Clinton. And I respected the demented will to go hard at every angle, despite being as guilty as a jackal in a hen house. But now Big Bill is literally history, and as Dick Nixon once mused, whoever writes the history will make the judgments. That was never Bill Clinton’s gig. He came, he saw, he banged it like a chubby intern. They only made one of his like. If there had been another, he would have found it and eaten it alive.

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Christie Todd Whitman In Washington Winterland honors NJ governor.

Aquarian Weekly 1/24/01 REALITY CHECK

EXILE ON ECOLOGY STREET– CHRISTIE TODD WHITMAN IN WASHINGTON WINTERLAND

At the behest of my furiously potent, if not rough-and-ready, managing editor, CAPTAIN UHL, I aim to crank out a few hundred words on the momentous confirmation of New Jersey governor, Christie Todd Whitman as the next Environmental Protection Agency administrator. After all, any act of professional charity is too paltry for the man responsible for deflecting any potential law suits levied on this publication as a result of this column, and as a fitting literary tribute to the captain’s undying service in pushing up deadlines and penning the foreword to my second book–not to mention some erroneous rumors I perpetuated regarding his love for terrorism and high stakes gambling–I am game.

But all joking aside, as I stated to Mr. Uhl in a rather lengthy e-mail, there is trouble for me whenever Tsar Whitman is the assignment.

Due to an unfortunate freelance gig landing in the New Jersey Monthly on the crack Whitman team some years back I was squeezed out, denied access, and held responsible for depicting Whitman staffers as “vapid hyenas stoked on low-grade bennies” and describing the governor’s vanquished tax cut proposal as “an economic fantasy worthy of Asimov.” It was honest reporting, very nasty stuff, for which I’ve apologized more than once. But it was all for naught, and there is no way I can thoroughly dissect this appointment at the level I am accustomed, leaving me a limited peripheral overview. But I like Whitman, just not as much as CAPTAIN UHL, and duty calls so…

The EPA appointment is, at its most basic roots, somewhere between a party burial and laughable miscasting. Christie Todd Whitman is pro-choice in a pro-life party with a pro-life president now on the payroll of the religious right. There is little question that her pro-choice stance had already taken her from darling of the GOP to political pariah within 10 months of barely upsetting Jim Florio for governor of New Jersey. So badly was her insider reputation that someone who could very well have once been Bob Dole’s vice presidential running mate was left to fend off Jim McGreevey in a tax war for re-election and was frozen out in the party’s national convention in 1996.

Political corpses are hardly a safe bet for resurrection, especially on a national level, and by the time I finished a column entitled, “Partisan Suicide” (Aquarian Issue 11/18/97) Whitman’s political funeral had already commenced. And make no mistake, the EPA is where the politically dead go when their party is trying to simultaneously build its female base and hide the baby-killers. But addressing the overwhelming numbers of women voters who are pro-choice and attempting to breed harmony after a paper-thin victory decided by the Supreme Court makes for strange political decisions.

Which brings us to another level of this appointment’s roots: the mere fact that anyone responsible for New Jersey could possibly be in charge of an environmental anything. This makes sense only when confronted with George Bush’s environmental record in Texas, which is, at best, criminal. In 1995, Whitman’s nearly $80 million slashing of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection’s budget was good for trimming governmental fat, but so severe Senator’s were holding press bids to slam her.

“Because we don’t have dead dolphins washing up on shore, the environment is obviously not the same issue it was,” said David Pringle, campaign director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation, in 1996.

Pollution fines decreased every year during Whitman’s one-plus terms while the northern part of the New Jersey Turnpike still twists under a pall of chemical reek. And although these items don’t necessarily label Whitman as a concubine to industry and Satan’s land rapist, it doesn’t leave her resume with a mother-nature glow either.

Whitman, like most Republicans, doesn’t care much for agencies and government regulators, but finds herself ironically cornered into one for ostensibly a promotion, but in reality, a political prison to which there will be no easy exit.

As for her truncated legacy as governor of the Garden State, there can only be praise for keeping the Devils from moving to Nashville at the expense of taxpayers and a doubled parking rate for every event held at the Meadowlands. New Jersey is still high on the car insurance gallows, mostly jacked by the worst drivers in the 48 contiguous states, fraudulent claims from gun runners and bookies slipping over the George Washington Bridge clamoring for no sales tax, and a shoreline ripe with bloated expenses.

But Whitman was funny when pressed, and she is a woman, for which there has to be some measure of victory. Howard Stern seems to like her, and she was quite adept at smiling on the promotional ads for wildlife. But now the poor thing is headed for a black hole with no bottom and very little leverage, but it’s good work if you can get it.

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Spoils From The Victor – Bush Backer Flaunts Gore Pain.

Aquarian Weekly 1/3/01 REALITY CHECK

SPOILS FROM THE VICTOR

As is the annual custom in this space, my prime GOP source and overall political snitch, Georgetown is loosed for a brutal reappraisal of recent events. Although his tale is long, and amidst the pantheon of the Reality Check faithful, a constant muse of vitriol from this author, there are places in the human heart rarely discovered lest revealed by his rather sharply forked tongue.

jc: I’ll dispense with pretense and let you pick the subject.

Georgetown: George W. Bush is president. Say it.

jc: Not yet.

GT: Mere time. I don’t know why you lied to your readers for three years making noise about shooting Al Gore, or at the very least, cranking out weekly columns depicting him as the fascist scum he truly is when you did nothing for the cause.

jc: The cause?

GT: And then you fucked me with that lame column on the convention. I spent ten days in that miserable excuse of a town enduring countless dinners with NRA geeks and someone claiming to be Jerry Falwell’s “love child” so you can have first-rate coverage and you write about my fistfight in the pit?

jc: Thoughts on the election?

Popular vote? Why do you think both candidates spent millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of time and television ads in the battleground states, so they can clean up the popular vote? Please.

GT: I have to say my favorite are these Democrats going to parties pounding the hard stuff with Bon Jovi and telling anyone who’ll listen that Al Gore won that election because he received the popular vote and got ripped off by the Supreme Court. Popular vote? Why do you think both candidates spent millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of time and television ads in the battleground states, so they can clean up the popular vote? Please. Sell that sore-loser bullshit to the weeping dupes over at ground control.

We watched the Gores parade Hollywood’s elite across Miami until 2:00 am on Election Eve so he could wrap up the close numbers in Florida. He knew he needed it, not some bloated California or New York numbers. Then the fucking networks give Florida up at 7:30 when there are two time zones in the goddamn state. Fucking Tom Brokaw. Wake his ass up for five minutes and drain the vodka out of his veins. What a joke.

jc: And the Supreme Court?

GT: A monumental rim job, that first go-round. This is the weakest line-up of judges in the history of this country and we’ve had some beauts. How these fossils could send a remand to the Florida Supreme Court knowing the goddamn thing was coming back is beyond rational. Why did they waste everyone’s time–for forty pages of nothing telling the court to rethink what they already went to the mat for in the first place? You think the Florida court, already on the DNC payroll, was going to allow that to stop them? Damn right Gore should be pissed at the Supreme Court. They wasted two weeks playing legal volleyball with Tallassee and then seven of nine of these airheads say it’s too late to count?

jc: So you have it on good authority that the Florida Supreme Court was bought off by the Democratic National Committee.

GT: Print that. Nobody pays attention in Florida politics. There are people I heard from down there during this thing that would put Boss Tweed in the minor leagues. This was world-class politics. We were all wired into a main nerve of energy rarely seen in most civilizations. Makes you proud to be an American when you see what serious money can do to the process. And that was right after you wrote that nonsense about “no constitutional crisis.” That took a pair of brass nuts. We were reinventing constitutional crisis down there, pal.

jc: I’m not writing this slanderous nightmare. Not even The Aquarian would print it.

GT: Slanderous? Who the hell are you kidding?

jc: Fair point. How long did you stay in Florida?

GT: Not one day. I received my calls in Washington the whole time. I got the scoop on the deep-red phone. We were making plans if the Supreme Court went belly up.

jc: What plans?

GT: That’s not ending up in Reality Check, anonymous or not.

jc: What happened to your boy, Lazio? Hillary ate him for breakfast upstate.

GT: That’s what “I’m from New York – She’s not” gets you.

jc: What’s the feedback?

GT: He’s our new Jacob Marley.

jc: How do you think Bush ran his campaign?

GT: Mediocre. I knew all along that it was going to be tight. I was against all that money spent in California and I would’ve been more aggressive in New Jersey and Michigan, especially with McCain hanging around. I thought the Dems screwed up by not using Clinton earlier. He helped bring in the minority and middle ground vote in two national elections. Polls never wavered on the fact that he would’ve beaten Bush himself. Gore used him as an excuse. Fact is no one liked Gore. If they could even stand him he would’ve run away with the thing. And I wasn’t too crazy about how Bush handled the drunk-driving thing. My plan was attack. They wanted to explain. That’s no way to run a campaign. Explaining is for losers and preachers. That cost millions of votes.

jc: What was the inside scoop on how the story was leaked so late?

GT: That was a Lieberman gig from day one. His people were working on that since the summer. I know of at least four or five journalists on the Gore campaign who held onto that info for three months.

jc: C’mon.

GT: It’ll come out eventually. It always does.

jc: Thoughts on the cabinet thus far?

GT: I think this Whitman thing is to get her out of the way. And notice that Junior ran foreign policy names up there first. Powell has always been a company man, despite all that Eisenhower “I don’t do politics” shit. And Condoleezza Rice is a genius.

jc: Why does Bush insist on screaming about the inevitable economic down turn, does he want to inherit a serious recession just to fuck the Clinton legacy?

GT: Yes. This is revenge of daddy.

jc: His first move?

GT: Military. He’ll go heavy military, money wise and maybe yank a few troops out of Europe. You’ll never know Clinton was president three months after Jan. 20.

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Al Gore is a Loser ‘s requiem for a lightweight

Aquarian Weekly 12/20/00 REALITY CHECK

REQUIEM FOR A LIGHTWEIGHT

Al Gore is a loser. This is what the history books will bare out after the obligatory screeching dies down. Those who imagined a less than dramatic kicking-and-screaming exit by a man so patently damaged by a lifetime in Washington politics as to become inhuman were sadly mistaken. The vice president did not go quietly, but he is gone for now, and don’t think those of us in the know think he’s going anywhere far. Most think he’ll have plenty to say, but it will not be from a position of authority and for now that is enough for me.

There was a time, not long ago, that I was frozen with fear over the prospect of an Albert Gore jr. presidency. My disdain for him had grown over the years from irritation to abhorrence. The moment his smug pout started spewing righteous babble at Frank Zappa during his wife’s First Amendment lynching disguised as “parental concern” to the savage dismantling of Bill Bradley’s considerable integrity, Gore’s enemy status reached dangerous levels in the Putnam Bunker. But as Election Day approached it quickly accelerated into the kind of mind-numbing fear from which I am only now recovering.

The Bradley people were entertained by my many letters warning them to rile Dollar Bill into a kill-frenzy before facing Gore, but they didn’t laugh for long. And the more the doomed phalanx of Bush staffers e-mailed me one fuck-up after the other from the campaign trail and the poll numbers tightened; I began to envision the horrifying possibility that Gore might actually win.

After throwing together post-primary notes for a column I entitled “Why George W. Bush Can’t Win In November” (Aq.3/8/00) the carcass of John McCain was hardly cold and Junior had leaned so far right only circus freaks could vote for him with a clear conscience. But I’m man enough to admit I thought that McCain was the last line of defense against Gore. And I’m man enough to sheepishly admit I was convinced that if there were true evil in politics, not just stupidity, mediocrity and petty, partisan greed, it took horrifying shape in Al Gore’s heart.

Evidence was mounting daily. There were those Joseph Lieberman fascist diatribes about “a vote for Gore is a vote for God” and the “battle between good and evil” masquerading as Bible-induced epiphanies coupled with the appointment of another wretched Democratic Party goon like William Daly hatched from the militant loins of his deranged father to run the campaign. Gore was looking eerily like a young Richard Nixon slandering Helen Gahagan Douglas in an all-hell damn-the-torpedoes stump. During these dark hours many of my sources have solid, written evidence of my consistent assassination rants. The most damning of these was an e-mail note I sent to Alec Baldwin:

I am sorry to hear of your departure to land’s unknown should Junior win this thing, but your leaving the country is small pittance when you consider that I may have to kill Al Gore should he win, and then your politics would force you to keep me from lethal injection. I implore you now to pray to whatever god you subscribe that Gore loses for his sake and the sake of any movement to keep slugs like me from systematic death.

But that was silly talk from a wounded journalist angered that cheap used-car peddlers represented anything important This might have a sent a weaker man careening toward total mental breakdown, but I had to remind myself of several adages echoed in this space about the litany of monsters that have called themselves president. And even though Gore could very well have been my own personal demon, it was time to get perspective.

Al Gore was never truly evil. He is just terribly flawed, instinctively insincere and severely overrated as a danger to anything binding. Even my off-hand tavern references to Gore as Nixon fell far short of the truth. Nixon held true to his beliefs that everyone but himself knew what the hell was good for the country. Gore began this way, but ended up a tired parody of something he previously thought was important. But, alas, he is just a loser, and not all the lawyers, decrying pundits; sign-waving miscreants or Jesse Jackson speeches can change that. Forgive me for deriving a soothing comfort in those words, the same wash of supreme joy I experience every time that mortally satanic creature, Bud Selig hands George Steinbrenner a World Series Trophy, but I do.

There were nights lately that my dream of penning a vicious attack on Gore had reached orgasmic proportions, but most dreams die hard and orgasms don’t last. These are the harsh realities of life, like the fact that Al Gore is nothing more than Walter Mondale with a grudge. In retrospect his talk of “winning the popular vote” and “correct hand counts” were so completely mad and pathetic that many of his staff was reduced to weeping trolls in its wake. Even the confused Supreme Court was too embarrassed to render a sane decision on the thing. No one with half a brain believes this man had won anything, because there are no consolation prizes for losers in politics and moral victories are spin placebos for anyone harboring hopes to occupy the oval office.

But at least Mondale had to admit to total, humiliating defeat. His trouncing was as historical as it was gruesome. Al Gore’s loss was so excruciatingly close to victory four or five different times that you can be assured that as you read this he is staring into space thinking about what-might-have-been, the overt behavior of the loser.

George W. Bush is a dumb ass and will no doubt be a useless leader in the fumes of this barely legal victory, but he won. Al Gore lost. To write that is divinely real, like Fitzgerald’s “high white note.” His stupidity notwithstanding, Bush will forever stand as the symbol of a two-party system joke rendered on a populace sure that it spits out the worst humanity can offer. But he is not Al Gore. He lost.

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Ten Lies About The 2000 Presidential Dispute gets real on political mayhem

Aquarian Weekly 12/13/00 REALITY CHECK

TEN LIES ABOUT THE 2000 PRESIDENTIAL DISPUTE

The following is a detailed expose of the transparent propaganda provided by arguing parties and overhwelmed pundits regarding what will surely be the endlessly disputed results from the 2000 presidential election.

1. This near-constitutional crisis will all but cripple the country and widen the chasm of ideological fervor among Democrats and Republicans further heightening the apathy of the American people. Yes, and Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Unfortunately this never reached the point of constitutional crisis. In fact, one must marvel at the authors of that document for jackknifing those attempting to usurp its wisdom, proving once again that the foundation of this republic was built on the complete understanding of humanity’s fragile nature and politicians’ insidious machinations.

As stated many times in this space, we’ve survived a Civil War, a Great Depression, two World Wars and Richard Nixon; litigious donnybrooks and political slap fights put as much a dent in this country as a lack of recycling would ultimately do to damage the planet.

We have always been the central office for apathy. It is important to remember that nearly two-thirds of the people inhabiting the original 13 colonies wanted to break ranks with England in the first place.

2. Al Gore, Joseph Lieberman and the DNC’s fight to contest the election is based on the principles of voter rights and a truthful outcome. Bullshit squared. Nobody with half a brain buys this crap from losers. Anyone who has ever competed for anything, much less political office, thinks they’re going to lose or believe even in defeat they weren’t the better choice. You give an ego-mad righteous clan like this the popular vote and a miniscule electoral deficit and there is no telling how far they will stretch the credibility of law in order to change the outcome. If these people truly wanted the proper vote tallies there would be a hue and cry to recount the whole damn nation, with its nearly four million lost votes and refuted ballots in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, etc and not a few Democratic-laden counties in Florida. This is about the gnawing feeling that had a few Floridians not been stupid or careless Gore would have been president of the United States.

3. George W. Bush wishes to move this process forward for the good of the country and begin a transition to the next administration. Sure, and seats are now available on the flying pigs. It will be interesting to see how “moving the process forward quickly” would be if Captain Shoe-In falls behind the eight ball as he did when the Florida Supreme Court started allowing dimpled chads from southern Georgia and Cuba to be counted until Easter. Bush has more votes. He wants to keep it that way. Winners don’t bother with goofy propositions like truth and fairness and nobody getting a break from the refs is in any hurry for a replay. The Bush people have run the same mantra up the poll for two months…Hold Off The Dogs.

4. Gore and the DNC had no allusions about winning, but has used these litany of lawsuits and this contest to dilute Bush’s victory and set up a Democratic landslide in 2002. This is a good one, especially if you spent last year looking for Sasquatch and the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. This would be giving the fractured din currently representing the Democrats far too much credit. It also misunderstands the damage the Republicans incurred with vapid impeachment proceedings in ’98. If nothing else this mess has doomed Gore’s standing in a party that already thinks he tanked this gig with extreme prejudice. Which brings us to…

5. Because Gore won the popular vote and lost by a mere 537 in Florida he will be in the driver’s seat for a 2004 run. This is very wishful thinking after this foot-stomping piss fight being dragged through every court from Tallassee to the District of Columbia. Many Democrats, especially ones due up for re-election, are not happy that 57% of the people think Gore is a sore loser and using the system to hijack a couple of hundred votes to satiate some sick fantasy. What seemed like a sure bet that Gore would use key Tonight Show minutes during the next couple of years of a dented economy and a meager GOP control to say, “Remember me!” has turned into the legal equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster. So…

6. Bush will use his bipartisan skills developed as Governor of Texas to reunite the parties, which has already begun with his choosing of Democrats for the cabinet. Who’s buying this bridge? Anything Bush does now revolves around public relations and political fanfare. The second Gore gives up the ghost Junior creases a Joker smile and runs amok. Texas is less a state than a gunrunning outback of thieving oil barons, and it is a testament to Gore’s blatant failings that its governor bested him–something he’ll have to stomach for eternity.

7. The Attorney General of Florida and its Supreme Court are partisan, but fair-minded soldiers for the system. Hardly, but who cares? Of course Katherine Harris is in Bush’s back pocket and the governor of the state is the man’s brother–almost the entire Florida Supreme Court is a left wing tool. But this is the framework of this republic, Democracy American Style, loaded with lawyers and spin-doctors and yammering journalists pumping the bilge. Failure of machines and rooting interest may be too much for our delicate psyche, but checks-and-balances are the very essence of this government and one single harmonious voice would be its death.

8. Voters were disenfranchised in certain counties of Florida by antiquated and confusing ballots. Check stupid and confused from Lie #2, neither of which are excuses under the law for being “disenfranchised”. These are the same ballots these people have been using for years and printed in the newspaper on Election Day.

9. Countries around the world are laughing at us. You realize how off-the-charts ridiculous this crapolla is when you peruse the many contingency plans designed by other governments in case of a contested election, that is those countries not run like an atavistic interment camp. These plans usually involve militias and tanks and geeks from a leaky parliament squawking at bullet-riddled walls.

10. When this historical ride is over we’ll miss it. I heard that from a Wall Street geek right before he was summarily shoved off a subway platform. Do with it what you will.

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james campion.com

The Aquarian Weekly 11/29/00 REALITY CHECK

SURVIVING THE GREAT “SYSTEM” ANAL PROBE

This unconscionable constitutional tragedy currently being perpetuated in Florida by party trolls and a bloated cadre of lawyers is a dangerous anal probe into what those of us on the ground floor of this abortion call “the system.” It became glaringly obvious late on Election Day that whatever the outcome someone was going to be shocked, devastated and/or pissed. What has transpired since has not only confirmed these possibilities, but sent a sickening reverberation straight to the heart of this republic. And although the framework of this fragile democracy is the best government conceived by humans, there is still no guarantee of its perfection or fairness.

It has taken the most controversial presidential race since 1876–when congress bartered land deals to anoint Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency– in order to bare our democratic wounds and the ambiguous methods of designing, compiling and enacting our voter privilege. When an election, at any level, is this excruciatingly close the chance for crazed backlash is very good, and as a result of this latest national train wreck “the system” is now thrust into the kangaroo court of public opinion, where truth is almost always defined. But the further you dig into this murky abyss devised by menlong buried, the more you understand its flawed nature.

Firstly, it is important to review the parameters available to the electorate. This country is, as noted earlier, a republic–a United States, not a united people of America– and this wild talk lately about turning it into a true democracy with a popular vote is reactionary prattle. These are the same people who would be whining that only big cities and media centers would elect a president while two thirds of the country would have little to no say.

Those hearty few attending the first Continental Congress knew empowering the colonies while erecting a government in the fumes of revolution was a sticky endeavor. It took 25 more years for the US government to emulate the Romans and allow the state to govern its own. And that is “the system” George W. Bush and Al Gore agreed to wage battle.

Secondly, above the din of outrage is the glaring fact that out of the 250 million people in this country only 100 million, 50% of registered voters, bothered to participate in “the system.” A large majority of those who did play along were able to find their way to the voting booth, cast a ballot without much confusion, and even left knowing what the hell it is they had just done.

The litany of errors and complaints by silly Floridians about their right to vote being yanked because of their own ignorance or carelessness has only caused a rash of enlightenment throughout the land. By the time of this writing there have been no less than fifteen states reporting ballot confusion, voter fraud, missing ballot boxes, paid-off homeless, double voting, police bullying, and a series of inconsistencies so foul that the amount of lawsuits being filed could not possibly reach fruition in any of our lifetimes. Meanwhile, close numbers and vacillating results in New Mexico, Iowa, Oregon, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Missouri threaten more lengthy recounts and legal wrangling.

Into this mayhem comes the revote theory, so off-the-charts wacky that many former Manson Family members and sacked Pets.com employees are lining up to be spokespeople. So now we’ll get all those sharp tacks that screwed it up the first time, couple them with the angry dolts who are sorry they voted for Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan, throw in the always-available paid lackeys, and let it ride. This kind of shit may fly at a Glassboro kegger, but deciding the 43rd President of the United States the first time is proving too difficult for us.

Then there is the terror of what is actually happening: a national election being decided by one state, controlled by partisan judges and attorney generals presiding over clairvoyant hand counts, where hired drones spin electronic ballots into lamp light to guess at voter intent. It is entirely possible that a Zippy the Chimp funzo dance on a Twister mat would be a more legally binding and fair-minded attempt at choosing the leader of the free world.

As much as I would love to see Al Gore deported in a rusty iron maiden and George W. Bush beaten by teenage drunks, I feel for them. There is little question that had it been Bush sitting in his cushy hotel room late Election Night staring down the barrel of defeat, there would have been noise. But many in the circumference of this firestorm do not believe it would have reached the levels of dementia the Gore people hit about 3:00 am when the numbers in Florida started dropping like a good day on the NASDAQ.

Gore has been reminded his whole life, from Viet Nam to the PMRC, from the senate to the chaotic ’88 primary, from Bill Clinton’s call to Air force Two and nearly eight years of trying to live down the most charismatic, lunatic politician in the last 50 years, that he is expected to be president. He sits a mere hundred votes from the promise land, but if he and the Democratic National Committee or the rankled Bush people insist on dragging “the system” through the courts there will be a slow dismantling of a delicate fabric that as a result might be viewed as silly and antiquated, awakening a need for mob rules, and no government has been able to survive that without massive bloodshed since the beginning of civilization.

Simply, the whole thing is fucked, but we dare not study it, for we will witness its demise. No societal ideology can withstand an anal probe like that, least of all one hatched by rebels and built with Civil Wars and constitutional amendments. Once you begin to poke under the rocks, and the slugs begin to scamper for cover, the collective horror will be palpable.

It is a cracked floor that Bush and Gore were asked to dance upon, but dance they did. Richard M. Nixon learned 40 years earlier, when the dirty deal goes down you eat shit, regardless of how badly you were robbed by bootleg cash and mob payoffs. And as the great voodoo madam, Sissy Meechum once crowed, “The time to cry is before the flood, not afterwards.”

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 11/1/00 REALITY CHECK

Campaign 2000LAST TANGO IN GHOSTLAND

“The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.” -Adolf Hitler

It is common knowledge among historians that the deranged make interesting public figures. Adolf Hitler was one of those rare mutant breeds that possessed a voracious appetite for the wild ride to the top. And it was an equally long drop to a syphilis-crazed breakdown that came far too late for civilization. Although he was not alone in the dark history of politics, Hitler was everything that is wrong with humanity and its societal systems; especially for those of us still hoping things like greed and hate will be kept relatively in check.

But before any of the mayhem and horror attached to his name would be unleashed, Hitler was nothing more than a political bully with no need for silly endeavors like elections. He made up the rules and no one bothered to ask him to explain it.

Elections are a tad different. When things go awry, the public is to blame. It is incumbent on us to make these people to stay in the ballpark of reality while their busy getting all hyped to fulfill their own version of some abject destiny. Surely, even the most optimistic flag waver in Kosovo today doesn’t believe the results of that election charade amount to a hill of beans, but sometimes even when we pick our leaders, who the hell really knows?

That is why a failure to vote, although oft noted as an egregious mockery of our civil right, is less a crime than voting for someone you believe would make a shambles of your weekly planner, much less the free world. And this notion that throwing a vote away on fringe loons and independent types is elitist drivel peddled by low-rent two-party sycophants. If you believe the system is fixed and archaic and the candidates boring and predictable don’t let anyone tell you that you have to play along like the company lap dog. Where, exactly, is the freedom in that?

Presidential politics stopped becoming big fun for those of us mired in reams of Kennedy and Nixon minutia. But Jack got his head blown off and Dick was sent packing as a crooked shyster. For a short time Ronald Reagan made it fun, but before long, he too became a tired windbag. This is why nearly half the nation’s populace abstained from voting for or against Bill Clinton in his two victorious runs. Many now admit they only voted as a sick joke to ram rod some hippie goofball down the throat of mom-and-pop apple pie. And for a while even they had to admit the thrill was gone when Big Bill turned out to be less rebellious and more lecherous.

So, you’ll get no argument from this space if you wish to stay home on Election Day. Mohandas Gandhi believed sedition did more for change than the normal violence or democratic attempts, especially when Indian lawyers were treated like illiterate farmers by English slave traders. Standing aside while the crazy train skips your stop is nothing to be ashamed of, unless you’re lazy or you don’t care.

This poses the greatest problem for American citizens. We are lazy and we like it that way. Just try and get us interested in anything. We’ve been dazzled and wooed with every bit of technology and fanfare available to us. Getting us pumped takes a bit of doing. But if you believe that George W. Bush or Al Gore deserve the job you’ll choose them to undertake, then you should take the time to exorcise your rights. And in doing so, you had better make damn sure they are the men you think they are.

And this is where the issue of voting with confidence gets a tad sticky. The men available to this voting public are mediocre statesmen/politicos with a weak resume and weaker leadership skills that will not bode well for the next four years. The first few months of which will be replete with monumental global turmoil including a quickly eroding Middle East stand-off from the Gaza Strip to Yemen, a highly volatile mess in the Balkans AGAIN, hordes of terrorists skulking into U.S military institutions, Korean backlash and China trade concerns. Add that to a domestic economic crossroads in oil prices and stock market fear coupled with intercity racial stresses ignited daily by a criminal lack of education and you not only refuse to put your fingerprints on this terrible craziness, but a first class ticket to Australia remains a distinct possibility.

This will be my last political blather for a while. There are too many other concerns and not nearly enough space. Do what you want and do what you must, but do yourself a favor and sleep well with the consequences. And if you don’t feel like taking the blame, abstain. Sure we have to live with the results, but we lived through Gerald Ford and George Bush, bell-bottom pants, disco, Max Headroom, a man by the name of Stump Merrill managing the New York Yankees, Oliver North Collector plate commercials, 30 Beach Boy reunions, 14 Million Whatever Marches, ten Julia Roberts’ tortured celebrity relationships, “We Are The World”, the electric car experiments, nearly a decade of “Three’s Company” etc.

We’ll make it.

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The Truth About Hillary Clinton – Political satirist, James Campion dissects the Hillary Senate Campaign.

Aquarian Weekly 10/25/00 REALITY CHECK

DECONSTRUCTING HILLARY

Political whores and power mongers are easy to spot in the waning moments of a campaign, especially campaigns surpassing a combined spending spree of $100 million between the two candidates. And there isn’t a half-assed pundit, pollster or sad commentary geek filling up newspapers with thousands of feeble prognostications who fails to be blinded by its queen; Hillary Rodham Clinton. This New York senate race is, has been, and will continue be all about the first lady. The GOP could have a door stop running against her and people will vote based on their love or hate for her.

The important element of this is the Clinton celebrity and the advantage and albatross it provides. Senator Rodham is at the crescendo of a decade-long game she’s played stumping for a man who has treated her like a scabby harlett throughout its duration. William Jefferson Clinton may have seen his wife’s gory mutations before any of us, but he has since become nothing more than a back-seat lecther in its wake.

Her opponent, Rick Lazio, is a few short months removed from sitting in his home out on Long Island and bemoaning the fact that his party didn’t think him a big enough name to take on the gaudy popularity numbers the first lady presented as a formidible senate challenge. This was a job for the Mayor of NYC, who first refused to offically announce anything beyond a raging hatred for Senator Rodham and then was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Rudolf Giuliani promptly backed out and in came Lazio with enviable spitfire and brimstone.

So Lazio jumped right in and became the anti-Hillary candidate phase two, because the New York senate race has always been about Ms. Rodham, or Hillary, as her “people” remind you she’s to be called. Sequestered in her rhinestone bathe of light, equivilant to a rock tour or a pre-war Hollywood opening night gala, the first lady’s suit of armor is shiny for a reason. The woman has never known a battle she couldn’t avoid.

Legitamate press never gets to her. Press conferences are nothing more than events for us fourth estate peons to gaze lovningly upon her devine personage. She smiles. She dances. She is a breath of jasmine from her lofty perch of azure. Television appearances are few and usually involve late-night comedians. Ted Koppel and Tim Russert, never mind traveling reporters, are off limits to the queen of pap. At the time of this writing there have been two debates, but it was deemed to rough and tumble for the delicate flower of Washington’s elite and the other was a party set-up that the Lazio people stupidly stumbled into with little investigation on their part.

Mere weeks remain in this charade of a campaign and what questions, what scrutiny, what hard-core politcs is Senator Rodham facing? Lazio brings no memory of powerful candidates with heaps of energy, but he at least he makes himself available to the press and handles the tough questions, ANY questions posed to him. His opponent is apprently too good or too busy or too sheltered for that.

These complaints may sound like the whining, selfish complaints of a spoiled journalist used to being fed fresh meat every time some ego-mad sucker needs coverage, and to that charge I plead ever guilty, but this is the very reason Hillary, with all her cries for equality and compassion, is a transparent candidate.

And how come my brethren let her get away with these lame duck and covers? Are we so silly with worshuip for a good story that campaigns are reduced to coronations before we have a glimmer of what a candidate stands for beyond notoriety? When will Senator Rodham be forced to face someone with a camera or a notepad who isn’t sporting a goon smile while peppering her with questions about the Chappaqua fire department picnic? Jackie Kennedy, princess of Camelot and national fashion plate, took more shit than this woman. The time has come for her mighty and untouchable hems to get filthy with debate rhetoric and that world-class litigious brain to crank its gears.

Lazio, predictably busy trying to be all things to all voters, has tried the credibility attack with his soft money overtures. It is admirable considering he’s had half the time to create the native New Yawker image from Giuliani’s shadow and separate himself from the stench of the Newt Gingrich clan the GOP so effectively shoved into the background at the convention. But Lazio is a New York politician and has served as a congressman for eight years. He has not been riding the ebb and flow of party casa de la Clinton for a decade of unpresidented verbal sewage.

In the end, this will mean nothing. Will Westchester, Central and Upstate New York voters despise or revere Hillary enough either way to defeat or elect her. Rick Lazio is the kid in class you hang with because the popular asshole ignores you. More than any election in this nation’s history beyond perhaps Jesse Ventura’s meteoric rise in Minnesota two years ago. And whether she wins or not there is a real sense now that celebrity can slant a race so completey that issues mean less than zero.

Senator Rodham and the Westchester crack team keeping her alive on bulging African American and women votes knows this. They will try and keep those and build on the all-important suburbs and Jewish/Hispanic votes and ride this puppy all the way to Washington without their candidate having to answer a single hard-line question about her ability to be grammar school principle, much less senator of New York. And that would be their victory and democracies loss. But this is something these people know quite well.

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Aquarian Weekly 10/18/00 REALITY CHECK

NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN FRINGE

Editor’s Note:Forty-eight hours before the first presidential debate of the 21st century, the author, sequestered in the Putnam Bunker compiled a series of random notes that this publication shall run with the warning that coherence is relative. Also included are a series of babbling rants during the two-hour debate to which we can only apologize in advance.

Sixteen hours ago an angry fucker by the name of Charles Dunwitty invited me to a fundraiser for George W. Bush for which I had no use and promptly threatened to revoke my debate credentials. This did not alarm me for I never received, nor applied for any credentials. Massachusetts is only romantic in the fall if caravans of desperate politicians and rabid protestors are miles South or West, not crawling around the best bars in Boston trying to wrest free rounds from yuppie derelicts.

Dunwitty is an ass, and so is his cheap fraud of an organization that runs its debate rehearsals in an Austin, Texas hotel for a man whose best attempt at formulating sentences was abandoned long ago at the fraternity kegger.

The Bush people, along with Mr. Dunwitty, see fit to ignore my many e-mails and letters instructing their candidate to begin dismantling this myth that their opponent is a champion of the poor and feeble while he rakes in millions from rich celebrities, huge pharmaceutical and tobacco corporations and laundered funds from corrupt union gangsters.

The standard Bush response: We appreciate your concern and support for the candidate. Perhaps they will appreciate being humiliated. Pennsylvania is teetering, New Jersey is falling and only a supreme being could fathom what the hell anyone in Missouri or Michigan will do until 11/1, and even then a sober prognostication will be dubious. Bush is going down, but for one key element: abrasive, caustic personal attacks.

********************************

Over the past twenty years I could be counted on to support or attend any Ralph Nader function, but lately things have been very shaky at his headquarters. Suddenly Nader, surrounded by the Buchanan Brigade and Jerry Brown granola-head rejects, is looking like madcap comedy relief for this thing and it is unpleasant to watch. Three times in the last four weeks there have been several Independent candidate/party rallies in New York City and each one has deteriorated into a Kumbaya mess. This is what illegitimate political campaigns have wrought; anger for change traded for whining because no one worth a damn is paid off by some group to make the NY Times or even the friggin’ Trentonian cover it.

I refuse to attend political funerals, especially for true warriors. This is why I rejected credentials to most of Bill Bradley’s final appearances last spring and why I won’t watch Nader go down in a mist of flaccid debate arguments. There is no sane reason to cover it beyond aimless rebellion, and that is for amateurs and dreamers and I will fight on the turf laid out before me or volunteer to pen another Declaration of Independence from this quagmire.

******************************

Several meetings of the Youth Vote for Westchester in the basement of Iona University in New Rochelle with the pimply peeved and we are no closer to any solid answers to why anyone under the age of 25 is paying attention to this race.

There is a strong contingent of women, who are not going to mess with any Republican chief executive saying all the right things about Supreme Court appointees respecting constitutional rights while drunken priests ram their BMW’s into abortion clinics. No one thinks much of the vice president, despite his or her fear of Bush. I tell them to ignore the news medium and make up their minds or stay the hell home.

The young men are less feisty, but want Nader or Buchanan to do anything to prove their worth. Most colleges are liberal, but this is a basin for the rich or upper-middle-class and these are the sons and daughters of Reaganites who made a killing in stocks and real estate during the 80s’ when the Democrats dragged punching bags to unseat the status quo.

None of these kids understand my tattered surrender flag. This is the new generation of “Choose-Or-Lose” offspring with little idea that something like the presidency means much more than the Queen of England or the host of the Today show. History is Viet Nam and Woodstock to these people. Debates are tantamount to bad local access television staged by pompous geriatrics with no serious long-range goals. And not one of us could grasp the notion of expensive over-the-counter drugs and social security concerns when marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine are so readily available twenty feet off campus.

*********************

The bile begins to work its way from the pit of my stomach to the tip of my throat and we’re not even through Jim Leher’s first question. Is this fossil going to ramble like this all night? Who has time for this monotone bullshit?

Gore is sighing and interrupting. Bush is stumbling and sniffling. Nobody wants to commit to anything. No one wants to piss anyone off, least of all each other. Polls say Americans don’t want negativity in their campaign rhetoric. Yes, and we watch PBS all day and never masturbate.

What level of brain-dead mannequins are we enduring with this vat of bilge? We need puss-filled, bloody ferret fights to the death now. That is how democracy works, not some number-crunching pinheads with interchangeable personalities. Likeable sods with wet feet and dapper ties leave us with grinning charlatans from the South pampered by daddy’s oil and tobacco money. This is what we deserve now. We don’t want any nasty commentary. We all hate the media. We like wimps and dignitaries to run the store. Friend of mine just said he’s embarrassed to be an American. I haven’t wasted this much time since the Eyes Wide Shut credits started to run. Dig up Kubrik and let’s try take- two.

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