HOW CONGRESS & POLITICS SHOULD WORK

Aquarian Weekly
2/21/24
 
Reality Check
 
 
HOW CONGRESS & POLITICS SHOULD WORK
A Simple Primer for the Uninitiated
 
Two events have recently occurred that prompts me to propose solutions to and from both. It’s what I do in my spare time, occasionally discuss these random theories with friends, and then pass them onto you. You’re welcome. Or… sorry.

The first is the current untenable situation with a skuttled border security bill in the Senate and a refusal by Speaker of the House Mike Johnson to even put it up for a vote. We discussed the tanking of the Republican-pitched, eventually bipartisan Senate border bill at the behest of current GOP presential candidate frontrunner, former president Donald J. Trump last week. With dwindling reasons why anyone should vote for this walking disaster with 91 indictments and the usual circus-like atmosphere surrounding him, the growing migration crises is his best argument. Thus, even though the Right has deemed it an existential threat for years, Republican members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate are willing to let it slide until November to help him out.

Although it is petty, hypocritical, and stupid – all hallmarks of this current Republican party – it is understandable politically. They want to win something, anything. Since 2016, Democrats have slaughtered Republicans in nearly 80-percent of elections and are undefeated in special elections and any vote that combats the Party’s continued attack on women’s reproductive rights across America. They believe, and current polling doesn’t refute this, that Trump is their best shot. But that’s all well and good for Trump, but what of these very same members of Congress that don’t hail from cushy gerrymandered, non-competitive districts in Arizona, California, New York, and New Jersey, all of which were won by President Joe Biden in 2020?

This brings me to my second event; the taking back of a House seat in New York’s 3rd District this week by Democrat Tom Suozzi, who did so by outperforming his polls by five points, which while impressive in a growing conservative Queens/Long Island area that elected detestable lunatic Republican George Santos by eight points in 2022, is still is not as impressive as what Democrats have done almost everywhere else – outperform polling by ten points on average.

Regardless of the spread, Suozzi’s win, buoyed by his embracing of the fucked border bill fiasco, should send shivers of abject fear down the spine of fellow congressmen and women who hold seats in similar Biden-friendly places from 2020. By my count, there are ten. Right now, Republicans hold a razor-slim five-seat majorly in the House, thanks to shitting the bed in ’22, a year they expected a “Red Wave” that didn’t materialize. If they want to pass the border bill – supported by sane conservatives and border security, et al – then all they have to do is make congress work as it is intended: Compromise and aisle-crossing temperament.

If just half of these vulnerable House members flip to supporting the bill, then they can have the numbers to pass it, assuming all Democrats follow suit, which is a gamble, since the far-left wing of the Party could not be happy with this Draconian thing the Senate whipped up that doesn’t even address their core immigration issue of Dreamers – undocumented people born in this country to illegal immigrants. But for the sake of argument, let’s say Democrats could play smart politics too and support the passing of a possible law that would ease tensions at the border, give their president a much-needed win on the issue, and remove it from a Trump talking point in the campaign going forward.

Since 2016, Democrats have slaughtered Republicans in nearly 80-percent of elections

None of this matters, of course, if the Speaker doesn’t bring it to a vote, but thanks to the insane wing of the Republican caucus, which negotiated a “one-vote to vacate” rule for the previously ousted former Speaker Keven McCarthy, one of the ten aforementioned congressmen/women could simply move to vacate, seconded by another one, and then join together with Democrats in having the votes to oust Johnson. Then, once this vacuous theocratic dink is toast find a moderate, compliant speaker to bring the damn bill up for a vote with the same numbers.

Bingo! Working congress! Much needed bill turned into law, and the crazy contingent sent packing with their goofy cult leader.

This not only helps the country, which is a sidebar here, but it makes perfect political sense – the only reason Republicans, many of whom abhor the boorish idiotic mess that is Donald Trump, kowtow to his MAGA contingent in the first place. Pure politics. These people have no ideology (there hasn’t been a Republican platform since 2016) nor leadership, (Trump is about to hand the Republican National Committee over to the woman currently sleeping with his son). So, it’s survival or nothing. I am offering these doomed congressmen in blue districts a way to govern and give them a victory, not hand a life-preserver to Trump. Fuck him. They need to defend their positions in the fall. 

At this point you might rightly point out, “But James, the Senate already killed this bill.” Yes, but there are enough moderate, clear-thinking politicians in the Senate, who must win state-wide elections, not fixed, gerrymandered district jokes, who might be inclined to take the House’s bold move as permission to take care of a national issue that is purportedly important to them. But remove the guesswork by taking the temperature of the votes in the higher chamber before making any moves. They’re all in walking distance of each outer. 

Let them figure it out.

I can’t do everything.

And so, if you are among the nearly 90-percent of Americans on both ends of the political spectrum who would like to see less theatrical voting like impeaching a homeland security chief, and more lawmaking from your Congress, this is the answer to your bitching.

Now, if only someone beside a columnist from a pop culture weekly could give this some traction across the social sphere, we might have something here.

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WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REPUBLICAN BORDER BILL?

Aquarian Weekly
2/14/24
 
Reality Check
 
 
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REPUBLICAN BORDER BILL?
Republicans Killed It    
 
This has been a stellar week for ridding the body politic of the Republican Party virus, as it continues its self-destructive Ouroboros routine to inevitable implosion.

Senate Republicans began festivities by competing a 180 to kill an historically comprehensive bi-partisan border security bill they demanded and aggressively helped to pen, much of it politically conservative anti-immigration porn. Lots of walls and guns and roundups, and zero liberal provisions for Dreamers and the like. The Wall St. Journal raved, as did the pro-Trump National Border Patrol Council, giving it a full-throated endorsement and demanding “its quick passage.” Then GOP nominee frontrunner, Donald Trump, fearing it would curtail one of the few political arguments he has to be president again, called it off, and his errand boy in the House, Speaker Mike Johnson said it would be dead on arrival. Soon, Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, who had worked for weeks on the bill’s drafting, got in line, and abandoned it. 

So, like Richard Nixon in ’68 skuttling the Paris Peace Talks to keep the Viet Nam War raging and killing hundreds of American kids a week to help him take the White House and a dozen years later when Ronald Reagan made clandestine deals with Iranian fanatics to hold off releasing American hostages until he was sworn in, Republicans once again toss the greater good for their presidential candidate. 

This should be enough stumble-bumming to make voters run the other way, but to outdo their ineptitude, Republicans in the Senate then agreed to pass a financial support bill for Israel and Ukraine without border provisions, something they flat-out refused to consider a month ago unless there was a border deal in there, something they just sank. It is difficult to fathom goofier ass-over-teakettle legislating than this. So, instead of making President Joe Biden complicit in the most conservative border security law ever, getting what they’ve been screaming was an existential threat handled, the supposed feeble old fart outmaneuvered them. Biden got the foreign aid he wanted without having to compromise. And, for good measure, he can now run around the country retaking the border argument away from Trump.

You get the feeling that if Republicans wanted to haggle for fruit at an Egyptian market they’d end up without pants. 

On the heels of this, Republicans decided to stage a dog and pony show impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for, get this, failed border security policy, something they could have overridden had they passed the bill they wrote! This ridiculously baseless charade, only outdone by the Impeach Biden boondoggle that offered zero evidence and less enthusiasm before ending up in a ditch, was engineered by the neophyte religious zealot, Speaker Johnson, the party’s fifth choice for the position after Republicans tossed the last guy, Kevin McCarthy in early October of last year. McCarthy then quit, followed by the exit of disgraced Republican congressman from New York, George Santos for committing roughly 34 crimes. This meant they didn’t have the votes. The thing tanked, and because Johnson doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing and is only there to be Donald Trump’s lapdog, he appeared woefully unaware that bringing a vote to the floor without the requisite numbers is a basic no-no. 

You get the feeling that if Republicans wanted to haggle for fruit at an Egyptian market they’d end up without pants. 

If Mike Johnson asked to wash my car for free, I’d instruct him to leave my property before my lawn caught fire.

This is a level of incompetence rarely seen, even for the federal government. We have reached a new low for a national political party that looks more like five-year-olds trying to get their lemonade stand onto the New York Stock Exchange. 

Why people are still voting Republican is beyond me. Honestly, this has gotten beyond ideological politics or the two-evils quotient. These people are dangerous, mostly to themselves.

To recap: Since the January 6 insurrection wherein one political party stood for toppling the government for a white supremacy fuck-tard wet dream and the enslavement of women’s bodies to the government after the Dobbs decision engineered in a stacked fascist Supreme Court by Republican machinations and a Donald Trump presidency, things deteriorated rapidly for the party. After Democrats handed Donald Trump’s administration an historic defeat in the midterms, a total and resounding rebuke of the clusterfuck of his reality show on high-grade crank, he coughed up the White House in 2020. More people than ever voted for his Democratic opponent, which was followed by a shockingly tepid midterms against a sitting president two years later, leaving the Senate back in the hands of Democrats and a House with a slim majority, which led to McCarthy being booted, and the ensuing failed votes for red-meat political theater.

Well, as discussed last week, once this goes up in smoke, there will hopefully there emerge a functioning Republican Party with a platform beyond “Whatever Trump Thinks in the Last Four Minutes.” Republicans had no platform in 2020, and they still stand for nothing beyond the whims of the guy sitting on 91 federal indictments. Soon the Chairman of the Republican National Committee Ronna Romney McDaniel, who has been unable to get her frontrunner top show up to her the party’s debates, will be gone. No doubt replaced by another slack-jawed Trump lackey, continuing the slide of this once proud institution founded by Abraham Lincoln. 

But it’s hard to argue anymore that when Republicans oversee anything bad craziness abounds. 

Vote accordingly.

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NIKKI HALEY & THE LAST DYING REPUBLICAN PARTY STAND

Aquarian Weekly
1/31/24
 
Reality Check
 
 
NIKKI HALEY & THE LAST DYING REPUBLICAN PARTY STAND
         
 
Somewhere at the confluence of laughable and pathetic lies those who still fail to see Donald Trump as a tyrant, his candidacy a pox on democratic ideals, and finally the capitulation of the Republican Party to his abhorrent whims. Just this week, the nearly presumptive nominee for the GOP demanded his only opponent, former South Carolina Nikki Haley exit the race, threatened to expunge her donors from his movement, and commanded Republicans in the United States Senate to abandon a crucial bi-partisan bill to secure the southern border and support the dire defense of Ukraine against the bloody invasion of Russia. This is going on right now, not in a Third World country, but America

For her part, Haley hangs in there, for now, trying to be a right-wing alternative to this mayhem, but she is an anathema to the Party. They don’t want her, or what she represents, the Ronald Reagan Republican ideology. That is dead and gone, maybe because it failed to deliver on its geopolitical policing of the world’s ills or the debunking of its trickle-down laissez-faire economic falderal, but maybe it is just because at its violent white-supremacy core the Party openly supports the final death-throes of the American experiment. But pick your poison, Haley is doomed, and only the general election stands between this dark storm and our future. This is blatantly obvious now, even to those who support fascism. It has come to a head.

The good news is Trump’s victory in New Hampshire, which for all intents and purposes was the final hurrah for Haley and what is left of the old, tattered Republican party, was tepid at best and a harbinger of difficult tidings for him.

Firstly, nearly 70-percent of Independents, who will decide who is president in November, sided with Haley, many of whom told exit pollsters their vote was “anti-Trump.” And despite stomping Haley in the Republican tally, still 25-percent abandoned ship. And unlike lily-white and painfully evangelistic Iowa, New Hampshire, while still pretty damn white, reflects more of the politically measured and staunchly secular hue of the country, which is why Republicans have only won the popular vote once over seven presidential elections since 1988.

Trump lost in 2020 by eight-million votes and nearly every swing state. He needs to expand his voter base but is working overtime trying to shrink it with attacks on Haley’s womanhood, crowing about ending Roe v Wade (supported by nearly 70-percent of Americans) with his Supreme Court justices, calling for the dissolution of the U.S. Constitution, and braying in court through haphazard lawyers that presidents should have total immunity against committing crimes. And although his supporters rightfully point to national polls that have him leading President Joe Biden by one to two points, despite being down in the crucial swing states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, there is still the matter of recent voting outcomes that have seen the Democrats win nearly every local and national election since he took office in January of 2017.

It is also important to note that through Democratic rule shenanigans Biden wasn’t even on the New Hampshire ballot and still won a more convincing victory over the field than Trump on the other side with mere write-in votes, which is the first sign that perhaps the “enthusiasm gap” between Biden and Trump is a tad overblown.

Haley is doomed, and only the general election stands between this dark storm and our future.

This is not lost on Haley, who continues to hammer home the idea that since his presidency Trump has coughed up the House, the Senate, the White House, and a host of governorships. She is also correctly stating that her lead over the weakened Biden is more in the five-point range. And all of those who voted Republicans out – women, educated suburbanites, et al – are hardly enamored with his mocking her mode of dress, or calling a woman candidate a “birdbrain,” while going to court every day facing a woman he’s already been found guilty of sexually assaulting and demeaning her in a second defamation case.

The bad news is that Haley is utterly alone. Since the economy is booming, low unemployment, lower gas prices, dwindling inflation without the prognosticated recession, and the stock market at all-time highs, the only weapon Republicans have in their political arsenal is border security. They scream and yell incessantly about it. It is by far the Party’s most potent and belabored issue. Yet, as they closed in on a solution, which many observers feel is as conservative a compromise as they’re likely to see in the Senate, the minority leader, Mitch McConnell tells reporters Trump asked them to skuttle it so he can continue to use the issue to get elected. And since McConnell admitted in public his only aim in the aughts was to make “Barack Obama a one-term president,” not legislate (a plan that worked out fantastically), and his cheating the system to ram anti-abortion justices on Supreme Court, seems to be gladly continuing his hackery to keep these “dangers” alive while aiding Vladmir Putin’s march across Europe. All in the name of electing a lunatic.

And while this is nothing new for Republicans – Nixon surreptitiously halted the Paris Peace talks in 1968 to allow his “Secret Plan to Stop the Viet Nam War” afloat and Ronald Reagan made secret deals with the Iranian theocracy to halt the release of the American hostages before the 1980 election against President Jimmy Carter – this proves once again Trump’s hold on the Party and its only aim is to prop up his vanity project.

And while I think it the longest shot, Nikki Haley should stay in the race to merely show that whatever is left of the Republican Party prior to 2016 remains on life support. At some point, the Party will have to rise from the ashes of this Trump insurgency, whether he wins in November and takes us into a dystopian autocracy or loses once again, taking the GOP with him. Who will be around to build back up in its terrible wake? 

It is likely too late for Republicans, something I am openly rooting for to return reproductive rights to our women, but as long as Haley stays on the stump in the face of utter defeat and reminds us that there could still be a viable two-party system, then maybe hope isn’t so far-fetched.

But I highly doubt it. 

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REPUBLICAN (DONALD TRUMP) PRIMARY

Aquarian Weekly
1/17/24
 
Reality Check
 
REPUBLICAN (DONALD TRUMP) PRIMARY
Or How Long Before the Terrorist Party Goes All-In  

The Republican Party is owned by Donald Trump and the MAGA cabal. This is hardly debatable anymore. He is poised to represent the party for a third consecutive run for president and has moved it from a conservative, Reagan-esque fiscally responsible, geopolitical faction to a populist vanity project. The idea the party is even faking a primary in 2024 is laughable, as funny as holding a dozen debates without the clear frontrunner. Even his competition is resigned to his victory, which is why none of them can articulate why they should be a viable alternative. Can you blame them? The man has a national polling number safely over 50-percent among likely Republican voters. They’re Republicans, where are they going? But suffice to say, the primaries are happening, and we cover politics here, so here we go.

Let’s start in Iowa. There is zero chance Trump loses there, even though it is likely going to be 15 degrees below zero next week and frontrunners want big turnout, so that might take a minor hit. That means Trump wins by 30 points instead of 40. We’re merely talking the spread now, not candidates. 

There are approximately three-million people in Iowa, of which about a hundred-grand will show up to caucus, and that number will be loaded with Evangelicals. Two-thirds of Iowans identify as such. Trump is killing it with Evangelicals, unlike in early 2016 when his loud-mouth, philandering boorishness handed Iowa to Texas Senator Ted Cruz. But since, Trump put three justices on the Supreme Court specifically to strike down Roe v Wade, which they did, an achievement he recently crowed about in a Des Moines town hall. Now he’s Jesus’s son. Iowa is a done deal. 

What holds the future of this dog-and-pony show beyond Iowa is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The once highly touted fascist has been a shit show on the campaign trail. He has taken over two-million dollars and a 40-percent voter share and turned it into campaign bankruptcy and a nine percent voter share. This is Rick Perry / Jeb Bush levels of crapping the bed. DeSantis sucks at everything – debates, stump speeches, defining his positions; being human or likable is beyond him. He imploded almost immediately and went from bad to worse faster than most people not named Rudy Giuliani, who once spent a million dollars for a single delegate – prompting still one of my favorite political observations: “That’s only one more delegate than me, and I didn’t run.” DeSantis might not get any delegates for twice the cash. Pretty impressive failure by any measurement of futility.

If DeSantis sinks to third place in Iowa, he may drop out. And if he does that, Trump sweeps the primaries. But if he comes in second, even a distant second, and hangs on for another two weeks, things might get interesting during and after the New Hampshire primary. This has less to do with the walking corpse that is Ron DeSantis than the only other barely breathing candidate left in this farce, Nikki Haley. 

The former South Carolina governor has held her head above water simply because she’s been surrounded by a parade of shitty candidates, many of whom are gone now, and one guy who has enough money to pull a Michael Bloomberg self-aggrandizing run until he becomes bored. Right now, the ghost of DeSantis is polling around nine percent in NH. Haley, however, is at 30. Trump is rocking at 41-percent lead there. Solid, but not insurmountable. Mainly because Independents (many of them abhor him) vote in the state, and only one out of four NH voters identify as Evangelical, likely the smallest number of that voting block Trump will see on this trek. But the real story here is former New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, who is sitting at 12 percent, just quit the race.

The idea the party is even faking a primary in 2024 is laughable

Christie’s only aim in running for president, as covered in this space months ago, was to hammer Trump. His campaign was Stop Trump “because he’s a fascist lunatic, who will take this country into a darkness rarely seen in many a generation” (his words). His 12-percent shan’t be going to Trump. Maybe, some of them go to DeSantis, but he’s MAGA-lite, and as illustrated above, sucks and is doomed. I’m no math whiz, but let’s say for the sake of argument Haley pulls even ten percent of Christie’s anti-Trump vote, then she’s at 42-percent, and that beats 41-percent.

Moreover, Christie smartly got out two weeks before voting, so there is time for polls to reflect her bump, and if there is a sniff that she might dent Trump, New Hampshire, one of the most vacillating contrarian states in the Union, would be happy to oblige. This is especially prevalent in a year in which there is no Democratic Primary to speak of, therefore the entire Independent anti-Trump attention will be focused on the GOP. However, if DeSantis decides to succumb to reality and suspends his “campaign,” then much of his nine percent might be enough for Trump to hold Haley off.

One interesting twist is Christie went out swinging at the remaining field, spatting, “Any candidate who doesn’t admit that Trump is unfit for office, then they themselves are unfit for office.” So, it is unlikely he endorses Haley outright, but again, this matters little – his 12-percent is less Christie-based than anti-Trump based. They will look at what is left and go for who’s closest, and that’s Haley. Giving your vote to DeSantis at this point is pot-pissing.

Let’s extrapolate this out, shall we? If this is a three-way race and Haley wins in NH. Then, even though she has no shot in her home state of South Carolina, where Trump is around 60-percent, at least he loses something for the first time since November, 2020. And, if you recall, that went well. Just as he did when he coughed up Iowa in 2016, he will say it was rigged. He says everything is rigged unless he wins. Convictions. Loses. The USFL. Atlantic City. 2020 general election. Everything he botches is someone else’s fuck-up. He will most definitely whine for a month between NH and SC and bring up all that bad mojo of election denialism that has torpedoed the GOP in every election cycle since he slunk out of D.C. with his tail between his legs. Could that boost Haley in SC? Could that remind those who may be under-motivated for Joe Biden in the general to remember what kind of loose cannon jack-ass Trump is when he’s running for office?

If nothing else, previous news-cycle primary shifts have taught us that narrative matters. It mattered for Trump in early 2016 when he was only winning primaries with 28-percent of the vote and everyone was convinced he was just trying to boost his NBC contract, yet he kept gobbling up delegates and winner-take-all contests. Bill Clinton in 1992, George Bush in 2000, and Barack Obama in 2008 all gained momentum from early surprise victories or even serviceable second-place finishes. A narrative bump for Haley against a thin-skinned psycho twit like Trump taking to social media and giving disjointed press conferences to bitch about the New Hampshire primary being stolen might make things look a little less cushy for him. 

Trump is going to be the Republican nominee and try and take down America from jail eventually, but there’s no reason this can’t be fun until then.

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THE VENGENCE OF JANUARY 6

Aquarian Weekly
1/10/24
 
Reality Check
 
THE VENGENCE OF JANUARY 6 
This is the Year We Decide Who We Are – Democratic or Fascist

Three years on, the horrific events of January 6 remain vivid. Everyone, from the right-wing extremists who enacted it and its opposition, purportedly the rest of the nation, keeps its memory alive. The instigator / orchestrator, as then sitting president, Donald Trump brings it up constantly. This is despite advisors and media apologists attempting to spin that day away from him and the damaged Republican Party, As he pursues finishing the job of bringing his brat-king fantasy in perpetuity, Trump promises vengeance for those who were prosecuted and “persecuted” for its crimes – crimes, by the way that happened on video streamed across the world in real-time. The Republican Speaker of the House recently boasted a scheme to protect the remaining fugitives from justice.

By the time the fourth anniversary of 1/6/21 comes up the man and the party responsible for its domestic terrorism will either be elected president again, heralding his defiance of law and order, or rejected outright, ending the fascistic violence he stands for. America has a choice. It will be an interesting year indeed.

Meanwhile, the fallout of January 6 is a fluid endeavor.

Donald Trump and his attorneys are trying anything possible to stall his D.C criminal trial, as in Georgia where his elaborate fake electors’ plot is in similar legal jeopardy. Much of the evidence for both indictments having been revealed in the congressional investigation on the attempted insurrection and a deeper Justice Department and FBI sweep – the largest in U.S. history – into his mob’s looting, assault on officers of the law, and finally murder. It could have been far worse had the heavily armed hordes gotten to lawmakers running for their lives inside the Capitol that day or the undetonated pipe bombs left in front of the Democratic and Republican committee offices.

More than 1,200 people have been charged with federal crimes for the events of January 6, ranging from misdemeanor offenses (trespassing) to felonies (assaulting police officers and seditious conspiracy). Over 170 have been convicted of at least one charge at a trial decided by a judge or a jury, while north of 700 have pled guilty to charges. Of the 750 sentenced, two-thirds have received jail time. Prison sentences have ranged from a few days of intermittent confinement to 22 years in prison – the longest sentence handed down to Enrique Tarrio, the former Proud Boys national chairman who was convicted of seditious conspiracy in a plot to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

“The peaceful transfer of power” is one of the most sacred tenets of the American experiment begun when George Washington, only the second general cum ruler in civilized history to abdicate power peacefully and legally after winning a revolution, insisted on there being a term limit for presidents while admonishing the monarch ideals of the fallen British overlords on the way out. Since the spring of 1797, this has been more than an American tradition. This hallowed ritual, the very underlining principle of our republic, stems from one of the first lessons we teach our children; learn to lose gracefully, uphold the spirit of competition, and adhere to the rules laid out before them. Consider the greater good of the institution and less about your temporarily bruised ego. The infantile petulance of the foot-stomping, red-faced sore loser crying foul when things do not go his way is anathema to the very core of America. 

Until Trump, we mostly lived under the idea of democracy as an agreed upon collective deciding our leaders at the ballot box, and despite some consternation in past presidential elections, most recently in 1960 and 2000, concession speeches and general adherence to decorum won out. This was appallingly missing in the words and actions of the former president. He chose a different path, to disenfranchise 81-million votes cast for Joseph Biden Jr. and use every lever of his office’s power to stop the will of the people. 

January 6 should not be a date to recall as mere history, it is a reminder…

Lest we forget, mucking up the “peaceful tranfer of power” was the aim and ultimate purpose of January 6, 2021 – the very day that would ratify the 59th American election of our president. Regardless of the skewered reasoning by Trump and his allies (rigged election, questionable voting machines, massive Democratic conspiracy), this was the goal. Period. After exhausting the false claims of the election fraud through the media, then being beaten in over 60 court cases, failed schemes to jam fake electors in at least four states, Trump tried in vain to convince Vice President Mike Pence to deny the ratification of the electoral college tally that day in congress. Not wanting to commit a crime he advised Trump not to pursue, the president ignored Pence and took one final shot to deny democracy by using a rally he set up and promoted on social media across from the Capitol as a call to arms – urging the amped up crowd to “fight” for their country, or more to the point his wishes and illusions. Joined by many of his cronies using similar violent rhetoric, much of it aimed at Pence, Trump then directed everyone present to march to the Capitol. What happened next, we all know. It is a matter of history, no matter what crazy shit passes for a revisionist one. 

Now, in 2024, just three years hence, we face the very same man that wants to be president forever. He has stated and shown quite effectively through his actions that he has no intention of continuing the American experiment as it is presently constructed. But ultimately, whether Trump believes in elections or not, this is not up to him. It is up to us. We have a decision to make as a nation this year – beyond the economy, border security, abortion rights, and a host of other issues that hang in the balance in November: Do we allow Donald Trump the most powerful post in the world after what transpired when he lost a free and fair election in 2020 or move on with the American experiment?

Fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice, that’s on us. 

It is as simple as that.

I do not believe a court or protests or third-party candidates or bitching about President Joe Biden’s age is going to keep Donald Trump from the White House. Voting for Biden, the only other viable candidate, is going to prevent autocracy in our times. The ballot box is our best weapon, otherwise we become, as Friedrich Nietzsche once warned, the monster we wish to defeat.  

January 6 should not be a date to recall as mere history, it is a reminder, like Pearl Harbor Day or 9/11 of what transpires when we shirk the responsibility to fight for the freedoms bestowed upon us in this rare but fragile framework. Know this, regardless of rationalizations to do so, a vote for Donald Trump this year is a vote for fascism and the repulsion of America as a concept and a democratic foundation.

Yup, it’s gonna be one interesting year. 

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THE LIE OF ORIGINALISM & STATES’ RIGHTS

Aquarian Weekly
1/3/24
 
Reality Check
 
THE LIE OF ORIGINALISM & STATES’ RIGHTS 
How a Compromised Supreme Court Will Save Donald Trump

The current Supreme Court is at best the most shamelessly conservative ever or at worst a political arm of the Republican Party’s agenda. The striking down of several tenets of the 1964 Voting Act and its siding with corporations over citizens and of course its most egregious crime, the stripping of women’s reproductive rights, has come to a head. Thanks to the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to strike the domestic terrorist, Donald Trump from its ballot come 2024, the Court must weigh in. There are several reasons why they should overturn this decision, not the least of which Trump having yet to be convicted of anything despite a mountain of glaring evidence, but many more on why they could uphold it: Specifically, the principles of states’ rights and local election laws that conservatives of every bent have flown up several flagpoles for a century or more. Or the Court can simply throw their master a lifeline and once again act as the legal arm of the Grand Old Party.

Juicy stuff.

Let’s unpack by starting with Originalism, shall we?

For decades now, conservative judges, most infamously led by late right-wing lion Justice Anthony Scalia, have held an unflinching belief in the primacy of Originalism, a stringent method of constitutional and statutory interpretation that asserts all legal text should be construed based on the original understanding at the time of adoption. And so, if this is to be understood as sacrosanct, then the Colorado Court’s interpretation of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted as one of the Reconstruction Amendments in the summer of 1868, is airtight. Any attempt by an individual or individuals to disrupt or topple the democratic construct of the nation must be disqualified from running for or holding office. This is the very definition of Trump’s attempted coup d’état. From using the nation’s most powerful pulpit to spread blatant lies and unsubstantiated claims about a fixed election – dozens of which had already been defeated in recounts and court cases – to the fake elector schemes that have him currently in legal jeopardy in Georgia and D.C., and culminating with that mess he started by inviting an angered mob to the Capitol to stop the ratifying of a fair and legal election on January 6, 2021.

Conservatives should cum when they read the Fourteenth Amendment. It’s in that pocket Constitution they always wave at the Woke. Rightfully considered one of the most consequential amendments adopted after the bloody massacre known as the Civil War, it addresses citizenship rights and equal protection under the law for formerly enslaved Americans. But it also provides protection against what they constantly harp on as the “evils of federal government.” Mostly, it should be a favorite for nothing else but forming the basis for the landmark Supreme Court decision declaring George W. Bush president in 2000. But, as all laws, the Fourteenth Amendment swings both ways, as unpopular anticonservative rulings such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). And it was the reasoning behind the Roe v Wade decision in 1973, which this hack Court conveniently wiped out to placate religious loons and fascists.

It’s a malleable amendment that you can choose to suit your needs, thus making it certain that his Court gets Trump back on the Colorado ballot tout suite, and at the time of this writing, the Maine ballot, as their courts have disqualified Trump’s 2024 presidential bid there.

Any attempt by an individual or individuals to disrupt or topple the democratic construct of the nation must be disqualified from running for or holding office.

To say this is whole thing is rare is an understatement. Section 3 of the Amendment was previously only used once, to block Socialist Party of America member Victor L. Berger of Wisconsin from assuming his seat in the House of Representatives in 1919 and 1920. Berger was convicted of a crime; violating the Espionage Act for opposing U.S. entry into World War I. But, let’s face it, that’s a fart in the wind when put up against the former president’s crime spree for those crucial months after we was waxed in the 2020 election.

And then we have States’ Rights – the political porn of conservative “values.” It is States’ Rights that was used to prop up slavery – something apparently former South Carolina (yeah, the state that started the Civil War), Governor Nikki Haley is unfamiliar with. It was also the hammer used in attempts to stop the Civil Rights and Voting Rights bills in 1964 and ’65. And it was States’ Rights that currently enslaves women with the Dobbs decision in 2022.

During a debate on gutting parts of the Voting Rights Act, which this Court has done flippantly, Republicans like Senator John Thune of South Dakota, cried, “Make no mistake about it, that is what we are talking about: federalizing elections in this country; usurping, preempting states, where elections have been administered and regulated since the inception of this country.” The aptly named Republican Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho chimed in with “This was a power grab that circumvented and federalized our entire elections process, stripping states of their constitutional authorities.”

Yeah, so if Colorado doesn’t want an insurrectionist on their ballot, then how liberal is it to have the federal government force it to do so?

Hmmm… I’ll give you a minute.

Now, remember, the only reason this Court exists as it does is Republicans refused to honor a vote on Barrack Obama’s SCOTUS nominee with ten months to go before an election because of that election’s import in 2016. Then when faced with a more pressing nominee from Trump in late 2020, only weeks before the election, they rammed an anti-abortion candidate through the Senate. Now, the very same Court will ignore States’ Rights and Colorado’s state-run laws of governing their election aid a criminal in running there.

Hypocrisy is baked in.

Now, I have been writing here for years that true conservatism is dead. It was already a flimsy reed of an ideology before Trump turned the Republican Party into a nationalistic populist sinkhole, but if this fixed Court rules against Colorado, which I expect it to do, then it is truly and finally finished.

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Scattershot – Life, Music, Elton & Me – Bernie Taupin (2023)

More than anyone in my youth, Bernie Taupin’s lyrics for Elton John’s brilliant run in the 1970s made me want to be a writer. The evocative expressions, three-dimensional characters, and conflicted stories covering the gamut of tragedy to comedy was a masterclass for an impressionable mind. It led me to want to discover more songs and artists that tread similar paths, so when I’d heard Taupin had a memoir in the works, I was more than excited.

Scattershot is not merely a memoir. In fact, it is less about Taupin as lyricist, co-songwriter, silent talent behind the pop throne, and more about his exploits navigating a strive for fame and his incredible run achieving and enduring it. The book details the ups and downs through his experiences in love and loss, laughter and tears, the exquisite fun of excess into terrible bouts with drugs, alcohol, lost loves, and, finally, survival and redemption.

At first, this disappointed me. I wanted to know more “behind the songs” stuff – you know, the process and craft that I am sure no one else would care to read (hence Scattershot). However, Taupin does provide (between all the hijinks and adventures in L.A., England, France, Mexico, the Caribbean, etc.) the odd bauble. Like, um, there is a fourth verse to “Daniel” that explains the whole thing? But then I realized, the real-life encounters, exotic locales, and hard-to-believe unfolding dramas reflect much of what made me love Bernie in the first place: his writing. The man is an observer, a social reporter of the mind and emotions of the human condition. He places these experiences, these outsized personalities inside his songs.     

Scattershot is aptly named as he finds a center in a whirlwind life and beautifully describes each layer. And that is the true payoff of this book – it is as stunningly written as a fan of his songwriting would hope. Funny. Sad. Insightful. A lasting memory of his travels within and without. 

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60 Songs That Explain the ‘90s – Rob Harvilla (2023)

I adored this book. 60 Songs That Explain the ‘90s is – to say the very least – a comprehensive ride through the 1990s musical landscape, which the author reminds us on its cover handles commentary for the over 60 songs promised. Rob Harvilla, whose work has appeared in Spin, The Village Voice, and more recently the pop culture online zine the Ringer, pours his heart into the time that framed him as a young man, a journalist, a husband, and a dad. The joyous expression of his love and even minor disdain for the songs that defined his generation make for compelling reading. His passion for this period is infectious and recalls many of its most important musical and cultural expressions.

The book flows quickly through styles and periods, genres and images from chaos-agents to sell-outs, influential women rockers to adversaries, flukes, comebacks, myths, and more. Through each, the songs and the artists behind them come alive as Harvilla deconstructs the very essence of what made them crucial to a decade that careened from one fad to another with tongue-cheek ease. 

Harvilla’s paragraphs on the imprint and import of Kurt Cobain and unabashed esteem of Céline Dion alone are worth the price of admission. These are just two of the polar aspects of the music covered in 60 Songs That Explain the ‘90s that enhance the trek with humor and pathos aplenty, for it is his voice that carries the day. You never feel as though he is not in there swinging with each comment, artist and tune. A true heart-on-the-sleeve effort that I always appreciate with this type of project.  

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Got to Be Something Here: The Rise of the Minneapolis Sound – Andrea Swensson (2017)

Another full disclosure: I have gotten to know author, journalist, broadcaster Andrea Swensson rather well in the past year (as I am currently writing a book about Prince and the Revolution). Andrea is one of the preeminent Prince scholars – she even spent time at Paisley Park with the man – and found time between writing liner notes for yet another Prince legacy box set to whisk me around Minneapolis this past summer touring all the most important places that created one of the great artists of the latter half of the twentieth century. But first, for me, there was Got to Be Something Here: The Rise of the Minneapolis Sound – the most important and comprehensive study of the music, culture, and import of the thriving and influential Minneapolis scene, which stakes a high place in the pantheon of popular music.

Swensson, also a music journalist, radio host, and podcaster, is a proud native of the Twin Cities and leads the reader on a similar tour through the neighborhoods, inside the clubs, and, most importantly, out on the streets of a growing American city through a long journey from jazz, blues, funk, soul, and rock. Lost figures – Black and white – bind together to form a distinctive sound and style that sets the world aflame in the 1980s, but has its deepest roots in each phase of its evolution.

However, it is in the city’s cultural history, specifically its Black and Jewish lower middle-class neighborhoods, where the true art blossomed and pulsed with revolution and extermination, fighting systemic racism, a lack of exposure, and a schizophrenic amalgam of musical aspirations clashing and inspiring a movement. Swensson sets the scenes, puts us in the middle of times that exploded myths and forged new paths.

Got to Be Something Here brims with atmosphere, and there was and is indeed something there worth exploring and celebrating.  

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Silhouettes and Shadows: The Secret History of David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) – Adam Steiner (2023)

Secret history? Sign me up. Silhouettes and Shadows: The Secret History of David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) delivers. Adam Steiner provides historical, political, sexual, and cultural context to one of David Bowie’s most underrated and forgotten albums. Crammed between his experimental Berlin triptych (“Heroes,” LowStation to Station) and his pop sensation coming out (Sell out?), Let’s DanceScary Monsters is Bowie’s grand pivot, the gift to and harangue of the emerging New Romantics period he had helped create and influence like no other.

Entering the 1980s out of his most prolific and shape-shifting era of the 1970s, Bowie is on-point in his lyrical and aural commentary, as Steiner illustrates with each track – the concept of hyper-change, fears, and regrets of wasted youth and uncertain future bursts from every beat and note. Splitting up the author’s deeply nuanced narratives are creative, poetic companion pieces and revealing quotations that add to the uncovering mystery.

Silhouettes and Shadows stands as a needed reflection point in the growing catalog of Bowie books, especially since his death in 2016. It bridges the gaps of his many personas with a portrait of an artist in constant flux who knows where he has been and where he might go.

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