American Jobs Act Analysis

Aquarian Weekly 9/14/11 REALITY CHECK


If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. – Lewis Carroll

Let it be known that on 9/8/11 at 7:10 pm in a joint session of congress on Capitol Hill, the 2012 presidential election campaign of Barack Hussein American Jobs ActObama began in earnest. The 44th president of the United States channeled the lofty rhetoric and grumpy spirit of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman respectively for what would be his final attempt to salvage a modicum of victory from a damaged economy he inherited and has failed to reverse. And don’t think it wasn’t more than a coincidence the address was given mere minutes before the National Football League’s official season’s kick-off.

Kick off indeed.

In fact, Obama’s American Jobs Act, a multi-layered and strangely bi-partisan $450 billion government goosing of a dragging economy, is quite simply Joe Cool’s Hail Mary pass. It is a last minute heave to the end zone, a last gasp before the president has to defend his economy and then his job in the coming year.

When Obama entered the Capitol chamber, unlike his march in the first months of ’09, he did not possess the congress (to which he wrongly abdicated power for his first stimulus package) nor was riding a Caesar-like 72 percent approval rating (plummeting to a new low of 44 percent by that morning), and most importantly, he is now straddled with an already tepid government-goosing mach one that by most counts kept the economic sinkhole from widening but hardly lowered the unemployment rate to promised levels (in fact it has risen exponentially since).

What commenced is what history will record as Barack Obama’s Big Jobs pitch, a rousing ding-dong wood shedding — this president’s finest in more than a calendar year and by far the most passionate a mostly dispassionate leader has given since taking office. Possessing his penchant for populist singsong and slapping a new coat of paint on old “prop ’em up, boys” Keynesian structure, it both cracked the whip toward congress and rallied a lethargic voting base. Thus, it was first and foremost a political call to arms, but had enough wonk to fulfill his biggest failure as president; to marry soaring rhetoric about the buoyancy of America ala Ronald Reagan with an actual line-by-line plan.

As fired up as a former president of the Harvard Law Review can get, Obama pulled out some of the off-the-cuff derision he displayed before the final meetings with the Speaker of the House went all to hell in the debt ceiling talks, going as far as turning his angst on the press and even the malaise of the country to the plight his presidency finds itself in. The key line in the rollout was “You must pass this bill now!” — hardly an exercise in reservation and clearly an audition as the reasonable voice still missing for the independent voter.

The president, at the end of every day, is a politician, and so are his opponents, and they all work for the government. And every day they give speeches and appear on talk shows and talk about jobs being the number one priority, whether they think it has anything to do with what they can effect or not.

And that is the nut this time; and not that it is a last ditch effort for Barack Obama to save his neck, put a massive band-aid on the gaping wound that is this hemorrhaging nation’s fallacy of its once purported economic might, or even that many of his Republican rivals at the helm actually refused to rate the proposed plan as anything approaching DOA. Nope. The nut is in the fact that Joe Cool is at his most compelling when his back is firmly planted on the wall.

To borrow another football analogy, Obama is a fourth quarter QB, looking rather pedestrian for an entire game, only to pull out all the stops, striking a scrambling improvisational John Elway figure for the crucial waning minutes. He did so in Iowa against the Clinton Machine in 2008, then again after the Sarah Palin factor put the pressure on that fateful autumn, and still again, when the events of this past summer seemed to sink into the sadly comical.

This does not change the bare facts that this president has been here before, three or four agonizing times with this horrid economy and once with what is still being debated by Washington’s most learned legal minds as a confusing unconstitutional mess of a health care law, and each time the stakes were raised. Not to mention his repeatedly wearisome retreading of class warfare brimstone and this doomed idea of getting any Republican to vote for taxing the rich to bail his legacy out.

Another inconvenient truth is that much of what is cobbled into the American Jobs Act is old school — been-there-done-that stuff. At times one could conjure recent memories of the last president unabashedly asking the American people to support troop surges and new strategies in Iraq; a stumble-bum war and its fractured plan that seemed more surreal with each passing month.

The details of Obama’s desperate salvo, to be unveiled in two weeks, will no doubt appear eerily redundant to the point of inertia. But believing in self-manufactured myths is what frames presidents, in victory and defeat, and this one still has a pulse, albeit a faint one, politically, as does the entirety of congress, mostly made up of Obama’s opponents and all with the lowest approval ratings of any American politicians not named Herbert Hoover.

Right now Joe Cool can afford to be bold. He has no official challenger for his gig, and judging from the eight-headed fiasco a small portion of the nation endured the night before in the second of an interminable five early-staged Republican debates, that time is a long way off. And so the president runs against congress and the idea that it’s go-time or they too must face the electorate. His position will not be the only one in question come November of 2012.

The American Jobs Act is no New Deal or Great Society; it’s not even Morning in America. Still, it is a measure — big government trying to extend the teat for a few more months of misery — but a measure nonetheless. The president, at the end of every day, is a politician, and so are his opponents, and they all work for the government. And every day they give speeches and appear on talk shows and talk about jobs being the number one priority, whether they think it has anything to do with what they can effect or not.

And so…Hail Mary!

On the eighth day of the year’s ninth month, Joe Cool rolled back and let it fly.

Let’s see where it comes down.


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9/11 Remembered? – No, Thanks

Aquarian Weekly 9/7/11 REALITY CHECK


“If rape is imminent…relax and enjoy it.”

Napoleon said that. The former Emperor of France was a brute and a tyrant, but a cockeyed optimist at heart. It was by far the smartest thing he ever uttered in his highly significant 52 years on this planet, far more prescient than “If you don’t like it, then send me to Saint Helena” or “Let’s try Russia”.

I have found this disturbing axiom on the indifference of suffering useful in many stages of my life, through personal torment and professional upheaval. In many ways, in a decidedly lesser damaging quotient, there is generally a lot of “grin and bear it” to the march of time and the events that define it.

What may be far more insidious is the marking of life’s horrors as if it is of the utmost importance to recall over and over; perhaps to avoid repeating or to honor those felled by it or to merely see it as momentous in a morbid way.

It is the way I have always seen the concept of funerals, and no amount of stockpiled guilt or psychological babble will convince me otherwise. They are barbaric and needlessly painful and often in the case of dignitaries, heads’ of state or celebrities maudlin beyond stomaching.

This is in fact how this space chooses to “remember” or as it is put in certain quarters “commemorate” the ten-year anniversary of 9/11/01 — as those with the pen wax poetic and those with the pulpit speechify and those who were there recall with reverence the retelling of what is a prime example of the worst humanity has wrought.

This is a sickness only people who suspend reason for emotion would find comforting. I find it appalling and degrading.

Count me out. I lived through it and wrote endlessly about it in this space lo these ten years and will not pay its anniversary mind, save ironically for these words of protest.

I only thought about broaching the subject the other day when I saw a photographer displaying his celebrated “falling man” photo. One of the quotes went something like “It is peaceful and almost hypnotic, as if there was no violence or tragedy attached to moment”. Whatever the exact words, the sentiment was in the ballpark of “beauty from disaster”. Yes, a man plummeting to his death, a death he chose because it was either that or be charred alive inside a burning building which only moments before was his bustling downtown office was a Keatsesque experience.

Truth is only beauty when you haven’t had to witness that miserable shit.

Truth is only beauty when you haven’t had to witness that miserable shit.

This is the sort of middling crap I am going to find hard to endure and harder I fear to ignore this week. You know, the slow motion shots of carnage, ensuing rescue, eyewitness accounts of heroism and a town and nation’s rebirth, the viscous fallout of terrorism meets monetary international concerns all wrapped up nicely in a triumphant “they couldn’t stamp us out” flag-folding, marching band tribute to Mother Country.

Fuck that.

Remember the Alamo, Pearl Harbor Day, The Great Chicago Fire, whatever. It is the height of grieving bullshit that strives to numb the pain and wipe away the abhorrence. Not me, chum. I embrace those things like a beloved child’s toy. I say hang onto it. Keep it close. Nurture it as your own. Remember, “Love your enemy”?

That reminds me of how I feel about Easter. What the hell are these people celebrating? Your savior being mutilated by the state and due to some existential falderal lifted to religious significance by a supposed preordained act inflicted upon the “son” of an omnipotent ruler of the universe? I choose to be pissed about the murder of a revolutionary spirit. I ask the Jehovah Witness contingent every time it descends upon the Clemens Estate. “Aren’t you pissed they killed Jesus?” They have no serviceable answer. Of course not, they are stuck in perpetual grieving commemoration.

Don’t even bring up the abject horrors of Passover.

Perhaps after extrapolating these putrid nuggets from yearly spring rituals, once every ten years reliving mass murder as some kind of patriotic duty seems a trifle, but I’m not buying in.

Hey, half of the county in which I currently reside is under water. The devastation around here is epic. Never has anyone I spoke to from my or any generation breathing seen this kind of disaster in New Jersey. None of us are in the mood to recall any part of a decade-old crushing blow.

So have your commemoration without me. Consider this my spat of defiance, America. Keep your 9/11/01 breast-clutching slobber-fest. I don’t want to heal. I like to rub the scar and all the scars that followed that terrible morning and think about how we’ve learned nothing.


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Steve Jobs Retires

Aquarian Weekly 8/31/11 REALITY CHECK


The story this week should be the overthrow of one of the world’s most celebrated tyrants. It’s not. That kind of thing — Axis of Evil, Matters of National Security or Taking the Fight to the Enemy — is so 2003. We’re out of the oughts and into the money game now. Moahmmar Gadhafi and his kind no longer rate. Oughts? We’re talking Eighties here; Reagan, Madonna and “Where’s The Beef?” By the time this goes to press the self-styled Libyan King of Kings will have likely been smoked out of his bunker, throat slit and burned alive, his mangled and charred body dragged through the streets of his beloved Tripoli. There will soon be a much-publicized kangaroo tribunal for his sons, and they too will be snuffed out; palaces sacked by rebels spitting on their corpses.

ISteve Jobsnternational intrigue is so messy. No one needs to think about that anymore, even with Dick Cheney’s new tome pending. The one where he shovels dirt on his friends and defecates on his foes, continuing the tried-and-true Dark Lord act he pulls out of mothballs for cocktail parties and the poker buddies from intensive care. Cheney is even older and less relevant than Gadhafi, with far less charm. No one would waste their time killing Cheney, never mind setting his lifeless body on fire, and after the neo-con drones are done making his “memoirs” a NY Times bestseller, it will go the way of bargain-basement Wal-Mart Sarah Palin drivel and we can go about paying attention to a far more important changing of the guard.

Steve Jobs is the story this week. That’s right. The co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple is stepping down. Currently the most successful, well-run and powerful company in the United States of America, a dying super power deep in debt and embarrassed to even admit its part in the bloody coup that has rid the planet of a madman, is losing its figurehead, master-of-ceremonies, nucleus.

Jobs is no normal man. Yes, he’s a magnate, mogul, inventor, risk-taker and pioneer, all the things that made this country great in the first place. But he’s also this weird combination of Thomas Edison, Jackson Pollack and Bob Dylan rolled into one. There is this Svengali nature about him, a corporate shaman, for when he speaks technology leaps, products move, stocks rise and life as we know it changes. Jobs has the power of a thousand armies and the will of a thousand more, and when he goes and Apple puts someone in his place, it will roll on, just because that’s the air tight ship he’s helped to build, but it will not be the same. No, sir.

So now what do we do? How do we go on without Jobs? He is our true entrepreneurial genius, our modern-day Henry Ford, without all the Nazi affiliation. Hell, you want someone who is most like this chic veneration of Founding Fathers? Ben Franklin. Steve Jobs is like Ben Franklin rolling in Ben Franklins.

It’s a funny thing, but Steve Jobs’ company actually works. It works because his products work, and in one of the worst downturns in consumerism in our lifetimes due to a limping economic landscape, his products sell. Big time.

It’s a funny thing, but Steve Jobs’ company actually works. It works because his products work, and in one of the worst downturns in consumerism in our lifetimes due to a limping economic landscape, his products sell. Big time. If not for Apple, there would be no U.S., just a shell of outsourced corporate land rapers and bloated union zombies backed by lobby money, manipulated by junk bond day-traders, and bankrolled by castrated politicians.

This is America without Steve Jobs; fat, stupid and boring complainers waiting for Jesus or the Chinese to bail us out. Not Apple and not Steve Jobs. He keeps coming. He’s had tumors and a liver removed and was reported dead on five different occasions in the last decade alone; his decade, the Apple decade, but rose again to sit at the right hand of the Lord.

Is he God?

Maybe Jobs is closer to Rasputin than Ben Franklin, but he sure as hell could be God in a nation gripped with fear that the dollar will soon be defunct and our national character washed out with the sad echoes of a slumping empire.

Not sure about any of that, but I do know Steve Jobs’ stuff is good, real good, and the kids eat it up; kids who until four months ago couldn’t pick Moahmmar Gadhafi out of a line-up — even with an iPhone. These glassy-eyed geeks are the future of America, and they expect stuff to work and work quickly with top-notch customer service and groundbreaking innovations — cool stuff, fast stuff, the best stuff.

We’re connected now, and Steve Jobs and his merry Silicon Valley clan have connected us best. Think about it; is there a worse state in the union than California right now? It is busted and leaking from every economic orifice, and if Apple were to take their baffling profit show elsewhere, it may as well sink into the Pacific.

Yeah, the story this week isn’t another dime-store third-century thug losing his country to a motivated and internationally armed rabble. That is the way of the old world order. Shit, next week there will be another one somewhere waving his cock substitute at some CNN camera. Yawn. Steve Jobs, true titan of American industry, a maverick and a originator, is one of the rare people who love the work and the machinery and the methods and may not only be the best model for the business evolution, but evolution itself, while Gadhafi, of course, represents the victimhood of a damaged subculture bullied by megalomaniacal recidivism.

Its lousy 20th century bloodletting and cheap medal-festooned mimicry, but when success and not freedom is your goal — Steve Jobs is the story.


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We Suck

Aquarian Weekly 8/24/11 REALITY CHECK

WE SUCK (Apparently)


The stock market is crashing! My house is worthless! The Middle East is a tinderbox! Too much government! Too little government! Get me a job! Protect my kids! Save the poor! Fuck the poor! Whose fault is this? The Democrats? The Republicans? The Arabs? The Debt? Taxes? Regulations? Corporations?

I hear you, America; in all your complete vacillating, half-assed philosophical sexting miasma. I’m no reality show or Donald Trump, but I can entertain your angst. Give me a minute or three. Let’s begin here: This is our fault.

Yes, us.

We the people.

Waaah!All of it. Well, not all of it, because it wasn’t our idea to be pulled into this insipid dog-eat-dog, half-baked backstabbing clusterfuck. This was our parents’ idea, or at the very least the results of some dim amorous overreach. So they have some explaining to do, but for the most part, after we intellectually accepted this cyclical madness – let’s agree to say sometime during high school age – it’s on us.

Admittedly, agonizing self-examination is not a popular editorial style and thus does not fly on talk radio, op ed pages, blogs or cable news. No one wants to hear how they are weak and stupid and completely at fault for their leaders, economy and the disasters of the planet. It works better to blame these things on Muslims or the weak dollar.


For those who find comfort in Dr. Phil or Glenn Beck, please get off now. This isn’t for you. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but if you hang in there I promise no one-dimensional axioms or convenient boogiemen. Next week, we’ll return to general mockery of all-things, but it’s time to say hello to the mirror.


Okay, I know the president didn’t turn out to be the Black Jesus and congress is filled with feckless self-promoting creatures, but how about we exhume Gerald Ford or worse still Franklin Pierce? How about those guys? Sound good? These were my offers to those who bitched about G.W. for eight years. The deal still stands. Also, you think this 14 percent-approved congress is shit? How about we get ourselves the fancy prohibition congress? Let’s bring those good old boys back for one more go ’round? How’d that work for you?

You do realize that the president or the federal government does not choose our vocational path or our present locale or the home we decided on or the car we financed or the stuff we stockpiled, our choice of spouse or shrink or whether we thought it a good idea to take those night classes or bet the three-team teaser, sleep with the stripper, develop the speed habit, eat more fried food than the human heart could conceivably endure, got us addicted to EBAY, forced us to march in rallies, invest in ponzi schemes or be hypnotized by the endless stream of media overload.

So it’s probably not an advisable plan to expect these scapegoats to pull us from the morass, assuming it is a morass or just a setback, a run of tough luck or life’s many tragedies. Did we learn nothing from the Wizard of Oz? Want a brain? Learn.

This falls under the category of rock music rotting your brain or video games contributing to the downfall of Western civilization. Its crap and we know it. Maybe we should stop having all these children and then asking the rest of us to deal with them. How can I feed my kids on this salary? What kind of education system is this? The debt is murdering my grandchildren. Well, then…

While you’re pulling back on all the needlessly selfish procreating, how about quitting it with all these organizations. They are time thieves and a distraction from the real issues in our lives. The Organization of Self-Righteous Big Mouths with No New Good Ideas that Exploit Individuals & Murder Independent Thought is no way to personal gratification or solving social or political problems, never mind putting food on the table. Put down the sign and the funny costume, shelve the slogans, and get on with reexamining your own mess.

I got news for you; sit down, because this is going to hurt – “When you wish upon a star…NOTHING HAPPENS.”

Finally, let’s please stop interpreting dead philosophers and long-gone patriots to define personal agendas. This is literally a dead end. For a good example of this goofy task, please see any Bible deconstruction or Islamic Extremist and check out women politicians telling us what the Founding Fathers wanted, when for one thing we know they didn’t want women politicians, or women to have anything to do with political discourse, voting, or really working at all.

The above examples are all merely fancy forms of whining. We’re whiners. We are. When did we get so goddamned sappy? Was it Disney movies? Hippie parents? Sugar? God? Too much TV? Not enough vegetables?

I got news for you; sit down, because this is going to hurt – “When you wish upon a star…NOTHING HAPPENS.”



And while we’re at myth busting, the government is not going to get you a job. Nope. And if by some weird circumstance of desperation, it does, it’s not going to last. And let’s face it; this worshipping of the Free Market isn’t going to help out either. The Free Market is not here for you. Companies are interested in profit, not putting your kid through college or in advancing American Exceptionalism. Like, for instance, insurance companies are not into paying off on your timely and responsible investments. They’re keener in turning this money into profit and then using that money to hire a team of lawyers to keep you from recouping it when in dire need. And by the way, this didn’t just happen in the last five years. It’s been going down since the dawn of the concept, or long before you hit high school.

Apparently, we missed the memo on most of these immutable truths.


But, relax. It’s going to be okay. Well, that’s also bullshit. Nothing is going to be okay, unless of course you do something about it. Prayer and hoping and the odd lottery ticket are no elixir. You’ll have to make this happen on your own. Sure, luck and timing are key, but I can tell you quite frankly there is no luck and/or timing while you’re pissing away your life blogging about tyranny.

So take a breath. We’re already smarter than we were a dozen or so paragraphs ago. Doesn’t it feel good to face the truth? Freeing, right? It’s a spiritual experience to understand the con of spirituality. Even gurus tell us spirituality is nothing but a word without action.

Now we can stop existing in a “talking point” or banking on “campaign promises” or “House votes” or basing our self-worth on beer ads. Guess what? Life isn’t on the Internet or in your smart phone. Celebrities are not your enemies or your heroes; they are famous and only made so because you need a distraction, nothing more. Let them go.

You see? You’re not really stupid or weak, just misguided.

And look, the sky didn’t fall.

Sure, things blow right now. Even when things aren’t generally crappy, they’re crappy for someone somewhere. But its time to cease blaming everything on people you put in office to run the place you live. They are means to an end, not an endgame on your means.

So go seize your destiny and begin penning the hate mail…now.


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S & P vs. U.S.A.

Aquarian Weekly 8/17/11 REALITY CHECK

S & P vs. U.S. of A.Re-Birth of Consumerism, Rise of the Machines & The Great Corporate Revolution

There is no America. There is no democracy. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality — one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. – Paddy Chayefsky

S & P Bone PickingThe great fraud perpetuated by the “independent” agency, Standard & Poor’s lowering of America’s credit rating for the first time in the nation’s history should be a clarion call to those opposed to the complete capitulation of democracy to corporate whims. This is what is happening now. Believe it. There is less use in denying it as it is in stopping it. It has been happening for decades, and has come to a head this week.

The evidence of this blatant oligarchy is overwhelming.

Why do you think the same S & P, which manipulates the very structure of international stock trades and awarded triple-A ratings to what even those who had slopped them together called “horseshit” investments in 2007 now suddenly ignores a two-trillion dollar clerical error in U.S. debt to sink the markets? You think a cabal this powerful, which eagerly funneled doomed bundles of bankrupt mortgages and failed bonds through their fixed system, eventually leading to the downfall of the western hemisphere’s economic solvency, has suddenly found sanctity?

S & P laughably takes on the American political system by berating the recent debt ceiling debate as a lack of confidence in U.S. treasury, as its interest rates consequently stabilize and hundreds upon hundreds of investors ironically flock to buy what appears to be the only refuge for money today. This is the lie. The ratings shift is nothing but a smokescreen, an excuse to instigate a growing crisis of government and its lean on the industrial landscape of the nation and the world. It is a blatant corporate con with S & P as its grift.

For the federal government’s part in allowing this hoax, one only has to look at the flaccid and ineffectual Finance Reform Act heralded in late 2010 as an aid to consumers, unions and activists, which was to restructure and curtail the power of agencies such as S & P to sink the American economic system again. Not one of those provisions has been signed into law. Not one.

And before we continue, lest anyone think the following deconstruction of recent events a paranoid rant or a bow to some well-structured conspiracy, let me remind you that nothing in modern civilization, from fascism to communism to capitalism, happens on the shoulders of one giant. It takes a slow erosion of disparate measures that becomes ever clearer as it unfolds.

To wit: The current economic crisis – bubble-burst correction, recession, double-dip or otherwise – is merely a grand chess game played by those who have the money and thus the influence to massage outcomes. This is nothing new in the lore of American capitalism, from the manufacturing rich north crushing the agricultural south to the industrial revolution, trust busting, The Great Depression to The Great Society.

Most recently, it is massive energy concerns pushing oil men into high executive positions to wage wars in significant business locales, while coincidentally partnering with weapons’ manufacturers that cash in on the proceedings quietly. It is also omnipotent prescription drug cartels and insurance monopolies that turn what appears to the media and the political landscape as a socialist health care push for the people into a 20,000-page hall pass to seize the entire system.

So then let’s talk about the power of politics here.

Two of the main political players that have emerged since the 2007 economic meltdown are President Barack Obama and the “new” TEA Party legislators, both of whom have overtly expanded the vacuum slowly but surely filled by the corporate power structure.

Profits. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.

The obvious is the TEA Party, which has gone beyond the 1980s “smaller government” fiscal conservatism to a more anarchical anti-government stance. They have succeeded in hijacking the Republican elite to repeat the tired mantra of “job creators”, while the nation’s largest corporations sit on record profits but maintain hiring freezes, thus keeping the unemployment rate higher. The less obvious and so more insidious is Obama, a purported progressive with a long record of liberal legislation, who has presided over the most corporate friendly tax rates in U.S. history and continues to expand a military industrial complex which has quadrupled in a decade of war mongering.

There is a reason why certain men become president and then appear to take on cross-ideology. Take for instance military hero Dwight Eisenhower cutting the defense budget to its lowest number ever or communist combatant Richard Nixon opening relations with Red China. Now we have the outward appearance of a “class-warfare” president kowtowing to the top two percent of the nation’s economic scale. The speeches the Right repeatedly mock Obama for have actually been an effective ruse, as the president continues to say one thing and do another, like extending the Bush tax cuts, failing to have a single-payer option in the Health Care law and lately signing a debt-cutting bill without raising tax revenues. Each and every time Obama caves and then feigns anger, which ostensibly paints him as a corporate enemy when in fact he is its most effective ally.

Just as it would be too obvious for a liberal president to cut defense budgets and/or open relations with a communist aggressor, so too would it be too obvious for a conservative chief executive to allow the kind of corporate tax loop holes that has the largest conglomerates paying no taxes at all. Even the wildly criticized bank bailouts and auto industry loans, begun by George W. Bush and taken up by the president, have been profitable.

Profits. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.

This is a power structure, politically, legally and ideologically run by business.

Republican frontrunner to challenge Obama for the presidency, Mitt Romney, a shameless plutocrat (this week), understands well who his daddy is. What did he say in a candid moment as he was being heckled as just another tool of big business in Iowa this week? “Corporations are people, my friend.”

The S & P dodge and its resultant implosion of the stock market it influences is the latest in this grand shift in the economic framework of the United States. Many of the jobs lost in the 2007 disaster are gone forever, as is the place it came from; a manufacturing rich, agriculturally sound super power long lost to international trade, fixed export/import restraints, and mass consumer-rich chains selling everything under one roof from sneakers to smart phones to fruit to shotguns.

When Paddy Chayefsky’s blustery corporate chairman, Arthur Jensen delivers his impassioned speech at the denouement of his brilliant film, “Network”, written and produced in the mid-70s’, it appeared then as an absurdly dark satire with the kind of dizzying paranoia of Orwell’s 1984.

Who’s laughing now?


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Averting Debt Ceiling Mess 2011

Aquarian Weekly 8/3/11 REALITY CHECK

AVERTING THE CRISIS THAT WASN’T Suckered By Messy Democracy Masquerading As Melodrama

Ho-ho, fans of democracy; we have ourselves a deal. No crisis, as if there ever was one, and no belly up for the debt-addled United States of America. Armageddon avoided. Spin doctoring for all.

Nothing shocking. It is how the sausage is made around here, and if you choose to merely eat the fatty innards of the gutted swine without witnessing the slaughter and rendering, then you were not spared. Mitch McConnellEveryone needed to be on board this time, bubba, like after 9/11 when every Joe Six-Pack and Soccer Mom was yanked into the racial, cultural, religious quagmire that is the rest of our sick and twisted planet. Sleepy time was over, such as it is now, many weeks and months in: Welcome tweets, blogs, and cable news geeks to the world of legislating.

Ugly, huh?

Ugly, but hardly new; where in fact the system worked like a charm, albeit rather publicly, which was apparently the choice of all involved this time. This caused the word on the street to conclude this the most divided government in U.S. history, the worst legislative gridlock. Bullshit squared. Not once during this Capital Hill pissing match did we come close to the tried and true level of fisticuff, knife-wielding, gun-toting wrangles that mar our congress’ past. From the very start, this was a graveyard whistle, nothing more.

And now it is done.

This idea that the country was held up as an embarrassment by airing its dirty political laundry is absurd. Grow up or get a helmet, bub. This is how it works in a democratic republic. Just like in 2000, not our greatest hour but nonetheless displayed that this is a nation, after all the bitch and moan, of laws. And where other countries descend into a pit of riots and coups, we figure it out. Whether anyone is happy with the process matters little. It is a process, and it has an outcome, as predicted here weeks ago.

Also, a deadline is just that, a deadline. Anyone who has done what I do weekly knows what that means. In fact, sometimes it means extending it, like this one, wherein my trusty managing editor, J.J. Koczan held the presses so this space could squeeze its gibberish into an eventful Sunday night of last hurrahs. So when there is eight days left and CNN has a counter in the bottom right of its screen and pundits from talk show rodeo clowns to high-paid “insiders” to the blogosphere shut-ins decide it’s time to get things done, they forget that August 2 is not July 15 or anywhere in between, and if you have to make a stand, you has every right and every reason to continue to make it until the clock strikes midnight or perhaps past that.

Negotiation. Debate. Grandstanding. Rhetoric. Posturing.

Democracy in action: Fierce. Mean. Petty. Beautiful.

Clamor of a “crisis” was mostly fabricated by a media hype machine worthy of its moniker, but also curiously over-stated by the president, who suffered by far his worst month in office, bellowing from his bully pulpit about end times on fourteen different occasions, pointing fingers and castigating the opposition party without a single new proposal beyond the already pulverized “tax the corporate jet owner” rants that died on arrival nine months ago. It was as if he were hermetically sealed and rolled out for a rehash of The Great Society every so often, unaware of the conflict at hand.

Letting the system fail may have been the only way for things to truly change, for good or ill.

Barack Obama’s repeated calls for sanity, while turning up the heat on the international markets, Wall St. and the elderly from Montauk to Big Sur about Social Security checks bouncing made no sense. It was amateur hour and he knows it. Or maybe he doesn’t, but he should at the very least know this: Regardless of how bad congress fucks up, the president of the United States eats it. Ask Herbert Hoover. Ask George H. W. Bush. Ask any other poor sucker who happened to be in charge of the executive branch when things went sideways.

It is also important to remember that a Democratic-controlled legislative branch had the reigns and thus an ample opportunity to raise the debt ceiling long before the Republican avalanche last autumn. But according to Senator majority leader, Harry Reid, he chose instead to pass it on for two reasons, help stave off complete annihilation on Election Day (meaning keeping his own seat) and dump the vote on a new rancorous Republican class and let the deed fall to them. Reid, like Obama, gambled on the tough talking TEA Party newcomers’ resolve.

Big mistake.

The freshman Republicans sent poor embattled John Boehner to carry the bad news time and again to the White House and later the Senate with ridiculously worded bills slashing Medicare and capping spending and something akin to a Balanced Budget Amendment that even Ronald Reagan and New Gingrich had both previously thought mad. The Right had gone Right, big time — maybe for the first time since the 1929 crash. And there appeared to anyone paying attention that the crazies meant business. And good for them… for awhile.

Almost to a man, the TEA Party caucus ignored the prevailing Cassandra language and forged ahead with no compunction about sinking the richest nation in the world with mounds of debt from two unpaid wars, several unfunded tax cuts, a bloated prescription benefit law so patently insane even the last president who signed it nearly busted brain vessels upon its fallout, not to mention TARP and Stimulus, bank bail outs and propping up the pathetic U.S. auto industry.

Boehner, a Washington lifer who voted over and over for years to add to the very deficit he yammers about chopping down, could not control these people, and it turns out neither could Eric Cantor, his second in command, who up until a week or so ago, stood tall with the TEA Party caucus before even he could not see the upside and began to desperately back Boehner. But still, to their credit, the freshman congressman held firm…for awhile.

In the final hours Sunday evening, I found myself rooting for the whole shithouse to go up in flames, a fine quote from Jim Morrison, who once mused he loved any activity that appeared to have no meaning, which is what is left us after this “deal”.

Letting the system fail may have been the only way for things to truly change, for good or ill. The 87 members of what was once the boldly zany TEA Party had the moment before them. The moment has passed.



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Rupert Murdoch – A Tribute

Aquarian Weekly 7/27/11 REALITY CHECK


Keith Rupert Murdoch, champion of the fourth estate, whose international media empire and its unhinged influence on law, politics, power and celebrity is this generation’s William Randolph Hearst – a true media giant; no shame, no principle, no soul. According to the kind of reliable sources Murdoch bankrolls, it has been reported in several publications that the News Corp. owner and operating office was once caught in the men’s room at his now defunct News of the World jacking off to Hearst’s most quotable maxim; “You furnish the pictures, and I’ll furnish the war.” It was alas Murdoch’s mantra, an elixir as powerful as smack and as smooth as Jameson’s.

Rupert MurdochFor these and many other laudable qualities, we celebrate Murdoch’s reign as one of the finest smut peddlers the modern concept of the press has conjured. His corporate gluttony devouring dozens of powerful media outlets, many of which ironically spend countless pages and hours decrying the entire medium, has not only vaulted him to the greatest heights of his art form but also turned him into a sickeningly rich man, the latter accomplishment being far more important in this or any society.

The following is our in-depth coverage of his conglomerate’s embarrassing hacking scandal and the house of cards that has toppled as a result of its outing. It is of course as crass, vindictive, and filled with the sort of hoary innuendo passing as fact and grossly overstated rumor passing for reporting that Murdoch not only loves but pays handsomely for. It shows no mercy, as Murdoch’s best properties certainly would not, had his own pathetic crimes not been the juicy subject.

After all, did News of the World not set up a 67 year-old FIA (Formula One Racing) President Max Moseley with sadomasochistic prostitutes (on the newspaper’s payroll) to give life to the infamously beautiful headline, F-1 Boss Has Sick Nazi Orgy with Five Hookers? And how about the more recent gorgeously repugnant NY Post headline when actor David Carridine was found dead of apparent erotic asphyxiation; HUNG FU?

And so for our hero, the wretched pile of steaming feces named Keith Rupert Murdoch, for which somewhere there must be a Rosebud buried in the snow, we offer our humble salute.

MURDOUCHE – The Unfair & Imbalanced Saga of Ruppie The Wrinkled Kingpin

The slain body of the heroic Sean Hoare, whistleblower of the heinous crimes of News Corp. against the British government and the very moral fabric of humanity itself, lies cold in a Scotland Yard morgue; his desperate cries for justice silenced. But by whose hand, the public ponders? Some may speculate that the source of his courageous revelations might well know; the unrepentant media kingpin and cradle robber, Rupert Murdoch, whose wife, aka The Dragon Lady, almost a half-century his junior, who some have called a mail order bride or worse still a Chinese spy, was last seen ruthlessly pummeling a helpless comedian in the very chamber her husband was humiliatingly standing accused.

Close by, the frail and confused curmudgeon was slumped over in near narcoleptic seizures as he incoherently answered a series of questions about his newspaper’s hacking into hundreds of cell phones, including that of a dead girl, whose parents as a result were sure was still alive. Murdoch could barely maintain consciousness as he endured one charge after another for his part in a spectacular series of police corruption, political bullying and character assignation. Witnesses on the scene were heard to comment on the strange odor of formaldehyde and ether emanating from Murdoch as he allegedly coughed up blood and spat vulgarities at his underlings about “mourning the loss of his testicles”.

When confronted with the obvious hypocrisy of this blather, News Corp issued this merely speculative repeating of a vaguely substantiated statement: “F*#k off.”

The decrepit mogul’s son, James, who has been allegedly tied to the Australian equivalent of the U.S.’s Klu Klux Klan, was forced to speak for his decomposing father, echoing his sad declaration that he was the best man to clean up the very same sewage he’d been bilging for decades. Experts admitted that it was a curious shift in course for the defense, having the senior Murdoch move away from acting as a kind of Ronald Reganesque doddering old fool post Iran/Contra to a more defiant Watergate-era Nixonian cover-up stance.

Meanwhile, Murdoch’s prize American enterprises, the NY Post, Wall Street Journal and FOXNEWS, which all exhausted thousands of words and hundreds of hours prosecuting the leftist Acorn and NPR, have to date spent only a couple of minor blurbs and a mere seventeen minutes glossing over his crime spree, most of which were laced with flaccid denials and defensive arguments. When confronted with the obvious hypocrisy of this blather, News Corp issued this merely speculative repeating of a vaguely substantiated statement: “F*#k off.”

FOXNEWS resident psychologist, Keith Ablow, who is seen weekly weighing in with dime-store analysis for Murdoch on all matters of the mind from perceived pedophilia in toy ads to possible homosexual subtext in children’s cartoons, has ventured a wild guess that his employer is either evil incarnate or an excellent judge of human nature, or strangely enough, both.

Plans to ship what is left of the stinking husk of the decomposing overlord to a hyperbolic iron lung chamber where toxins will be shot into his shriveled brain around the clock by Cuban slave traders was neither confirmed nor denied by News Corp. spokesman.

Nonetheless, details of the hearing are already being optioned to Twentieth Century Fox for a film adaptation to be followed by a reality show after Murdoch purchases Parliament outright and fires the entire British government.


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Debt Ceiling Countdown 2011

Aquarian Weekly 7/20/11 REALITY CHECK

BRING IT ON Republican Principle or Economic Catastrophe?

Let’s get this straight; the debt ceiling will be increased by August 2, 2011. The United States of America will not go into default. It will not lose its platinum credit rating. There will be no implosion of our federal government’s ability to wage war, tax or provide a bevy of entitlements. Events will continue as they always have, just like there will be a National Football League season and all fifty states will pass some dumb ass law that will find the next Casey Anthony guilty of something.

It will be business as usual around here. You know why? Because no one in congress, read this loud and clear, NO ONE has the balls, the foresight or the principles to stand up for a fucking thing they believe in. Never have. Never will. It is an American tradition as old as the Continental Congress. Just ask poor John Adams, who stupidly tried to foment revolution including all 13 colonies while suggesting the abolishment of slavery, especially in the face of a Declaration of Independence boldly stating that the Supreme Being endowed all men as being created equal, penned eloquently, mind you, by a slave owner.

Tea Party CaucusYeah, we know how that worked out. Clearer heads prevailed. Clearer gutless heads, that is, and no one argued with it. Because of it, we’re here now. Because of it I’m writing this, instead of bent over a pint in a pub in Dublin or driving madly across the cliffs of Naples. I’m here, you’re here and we’re all here, because the Continental Congress did not stand by its true, core principles. It just passed the buck down the road, fully knowing that fateful decision would inevitably lead to Civil War. When? Soon, bubba, real soon.

So now the bold talk comes from the 112th congress about letting the nation fall into deadbeat status over a massive debt reducing bill sans tax increases in a myopic balance budget directive will all be for naught. Two weeks out, everyone looks like Patrick Henry. It’s like the big mouth before a fistfight. Tough talk always comes early. Let’s hear the talk when the fur flies. Shit, Eric Cantor appears to have gone rogue on the rest of his party, except for those freshmen congressmen, who were elected to slash the government and not put a scintilla of the burden on the American people.

Fucking right I’m rooting for Cantor. And if you were a true patriot, you’d do the same. Let the country go into default. Let the guns of Gettysburg roar. They have to roar eventually. Why not now? Why not let the stock market crash and the free market fend for itself against a torrent of shit this generation has not yet witnessed. Or let nothing happen, just as simpletons like Michele Bachmann claim. What do you expect from religious fanatics but yammering about faith over fact? These sunshine and rose yokels always think five minutes of research is anathema, and I applaud them for it. Stick to your guns, whatever guns they may be. I want to see for myself if God helps her out when the penniless ravaged rabble come crashing through her front doors demanding cash, food and guns.

Let the guns of Gettysburg roar. They have to roar eventually. Why not now?

Doom or victory would finally answer some questions about less government, wouldn’t it? If we survive, our children will live on streets paved with gold. Good for them. They are our future. Either that or they will be key pieces in trade if the bond futures disappear and the banks close up shop. A healthy middle class white baby will capture prime trade value in a post apocalyptic environment. I’ve already tagged my kid for Ebay. Hell, Bachmann has something like forty kids. That is tantamount to a millionaire in the new world order.

Calvin Coolidge’s corpse is laughing at us right now. Ayn Rand is coughing up several lungs. Wherever those lunatics are now, we salute their ideological rocks. They had them and were willing to see it through, consequences be damned. This congress, as in the case of every congress, has none of this pioneer spirit.

You know why the Right is not going to win the day and disallow us from seeing what pure, unadulterated conservative economic theorizing will unleash? Because the Left had a chance for true socialism last year with the massive Health Care law and instead cobbled together a barely coherent monstrosity that barely scratches the surface of anything resembling national health care, just as this space predicted for the entirety of that imbecilic debate.

For once, I’d like to be wrong about this. Lord knows I’m comfortable being wrong or at the very least bent or wildly off the mark. But I have never been wrong about the overreaction or overreach of politicos. They always make me look like a genius — no easy task. Predicting the gutless nature of our legislators is better mojo than my three-team teaser run of 1991; my finest year in gambling. My only problem that year is that I had nothing to really put down, because if I’d been laying serious cash, I certainly wouldn’t be writing this now or doing anything that didn’t include getting lit on a beach in Mexico.

But I’m not on a beach and there will be no Republican stand and the debt ceiling will be raised and then the crying wolf set will move on to dissecting who’ll pay the most political capital for this latest breach of ethics; this bland, safe and boring compromise.

For the record, I say…bring it on!


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Debt Ceiling Stare Down

Aquarian Weekly 7/13/11 REALITY CHECK


By August 2 we will learn the final and binding results of the 2010 mid-term elections. This is when the nation’s debt ceiling needs to be raised, as it’s been some 70 times over the past half century, including ten times during the eight years of the George W. Bush Administration, six under a Republican-controlled congress. This latest suddenly austere version of Republicanism, forced upon an American electorate that had little choice if it wished to go against the latest version of spend-thrift Democratism, is now asked to stand for massive spending cuts and no tax hikes or allow the nation to go into default.


Debt Ceiling ChartAnything less than these two outcomes will be another campaign promise dumped and another in a spectacular series of lies perpetuated on the American electorate in our sad and pathetic political history.

We were promised no compromise, no tax increases and a dramatic slashing in federal spending, including a raid on entitlements.

Are we going to get them?

Of course not.

Where do we go then?

Again, this is akin to the 2006 version of Democratism, which was chosen by a majority of voters to defund the ridiculously botched Iraq War and failed to do so. In fact, those election results eventually bore a troop surge in Iraq, which for all intents and purposes elongated our nation building, further bloating the aforementioned national debt. Then, after taking the White House, the continued rise in Democratism ignored the anti-war rhetoric and used their newfound powers to explode national spending with stimulus, bank bailouts and the propping up of the auto industry. Then there was Health Care.

None of the above had a damn thing to do with ending the Iraq mess, which still rolls along with a face-saving reduction in troops and the building of the largest U.S. embassy on planet earth bankrolled by a continued influx of American tax dollars. Then, laughably, the same people who ran and won as anti-war candidates, went along with their president by supporting and funding increased troop levels in Afghanistan – now the longest running military operation in our illustrious two-century plus glut of military operations.

Thus, the 2010 results, which roundly rejected Democratism – merely a continuation of Republicanism spending spree/tax cut/multiple war/massive entitlement expansion that forced the national debt to be a political issue in the first place – is at issue.

To put it bluntly, the ball is now in Republicanism’s court, where it will take the miracles of miracles to see binding results on the country’s $14.4 trillion hole.

Unless you’re asleep, apathetic or stupid, you’re likely not to be fooled by the results of the latest debate to appear concerned about a mounting national debt that no one in the federal government, regardless of ideology, actually cares a wit about.

Unless you’re asleep, apathetic or stupid, you’re likely not to be fooled by the results of the latest debate to appear concerned about a mounting national debt that no one in the federal government, regardless of ideology, actually cares a wit about.

This is good, because no one in this government has the stones to turn the nation into a deadbeat. The buck will be passed, the can kicked down the road. There will be some give and some take and next year when the parade of challengers to Barack Obama emerges in a din of complaints, they will tell us all how they will change Washington and fix it and not one of them will. Ever.

Let’s try and remember eight long months ago, as ancient a history as one can muster in several and varied news cycles, that many of the freshmen of our 112th congress crowed about never allowing the debt ceiling to be raised, damn the consequences. It was scorched earth time last November. Yes, our children’s very existence was at stake. We were headed towards doom.

So why are we discussing this now? Is this another case of the government telling us that the very survival of civilization depends on war success in the Middle East but yet no offers no reinstatement of the draft or there is a curious absence of World War II-era attrition at home?

Ask yourself why the Speaker of the House has to have secret meetings with his base to make nice with his subordinates every time he meets with the White House about a deal. Is he on board with the 2010 plan or is he worried about the 2012 fallout that will usher in a second term for Obama?

It is far from cynical to point out that 2012 politics are being played here. If Republicanism folds on tax increases and gets its massive federal cuts, while inching into the entitlements arena, as purposed in what is now being cited in the Beltway as The Grand White House Proposal of $4 trillion in cuts over ten years, then how do they hammer at the president all summer for being too weak to act? And if Democratism allows Social Security and Medicaid to be tinkered with while slashing several popular government programs, how does Obama sell his candidacy as a protection against the opposition’s draconian measures?

And then ask yourself if the Democratism that now cries blood-for-blood with austerity measures metered out to big oil concerns, closing corporate tax loops and billionaire tax code changes, how come when it boasted a “super majority” for two years it did nothing about them?

As these words go to press meetings within the Two Party System and their purportedly immovable ideologies continue behind the scenes. This aids in dealing with the inevitable fallout after they both cave and the plan goes into the tank. Everyone can then conveniently blame the other guy for not adhering to real solutions.

So then where do we go?


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Marriage Equality in New York

Aquarian Weekly 6/29/11 REALITY CHECK


Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality. – Martin Luther King

New York State is one vote away.

It is one vote away in its state senate to ratify a basic civil right; the right for a particular group of adult taxpaying citizens to marry. It is a long time coming for a state hosting the greatest and most progressive spark of the free world on all-things, New York City. It is also a long journey for the largest such state to ratify this right, a state with many political twists and turns and which at its core is socially conservative. And so after lagging years behind other states on this issue, it is down to one more vote to make same-sex marriage the legal right it should be across a nation that loves to parade its pride in providing and protecting the liberties of its people.

Marriage EqualityI know that I have not written all I am going to write about wars and poverty and repression and hypocrisy and honor and the frailties of the human animal. Not even close. I will be long gone from this mortal coil before I reach that place. Yet, after all I have written on this issue, I certainly have not begun to broach a subject that my wife recently reminded me has been “my most ardent issue”. This was spoken to me two weeks ago when I failed to answer the request to speak with a gay protest group in Manhattan. It forced me to wonder if writing is the only way to get in the fray. And so last week I had a second opportunity and used it to discuss the issue in full-force during a petition rally in the West Village.

But rallies, petitions and protests were never my style. Marching is only effective when it is done on the doorstep of oppression, like Martin Luther King’s famous march on Selma or to the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. I see myself more of an annoying literary voice, shrieking from the comfort of my own keyboard. When faced with “getting involved” I am always reminded of when the great Arthur Koestler mused in his twenties how he would be better served discovering Communism by getting a job in a factory and was set straight by a colleague who reminded him he could do more from the journalism pulpit than in front of an iron press.

Truth be told, it pains me to continue to have to put into words what kind of abject shock it is that I have to comment in 2011 about the denial of basic civil rights to citizens that is done so for no good reason but that a certain segment of society is threatened by it. This of course is the same segment of society that was irrationally threatened by the rights of Jews, Italians, Mexicans, American Indians and the Irish, African Americans and women. The list is long and the embarrassment lasting. And along the fight to deny they used the same arguments you hear today. But the tide of liberty is strong, and soon each denial was silenced by the rule of law; a rule set down in the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution.

This has officially become the will of the people.

The piecemeal theory of applied rights to some and not to others based on strange ideologies is a human sickness, cured eventually by the cold realities that whatever stipulation granted one group of citizens a right has to apply to the other, simple as that. It takes awhile, but it gets there. It may do so, as in the women’s right to vote, in several incarnations and ratifications and strange bedfellows like temperance groups that irreparably damaged the country by passing a Prohibition Amendment, or it happens through the states, like abolishing slavery, which then forced some states to secede and then the military came in and put the kibosh on that, or the federal government simply comes in and ends the madness by granting basic civil rights to its citizens above and beyond the will of certain states, and dare I mention we’re in the South again for that one?

But the gay marriage issue is interesting in that it is not regional or attached to the history of American civil rights history, as in the abomination of Prop 8 in California that was passed on the strength of the African American vote, fueled in November of 2008 by the Barack Obama candidacy. The mere fact that people were putting to the vote a right, as in your neighbor deciding if you can play chess after 10 pm on a Sunday, is hard to fathom anyway.

The issue doesn’t even seem to be able to crack political leanings, as those on the Left, who enjoy the majority of gay support – a support that has dwindled considerably over the past four or five election cycles according to many polls – yet pay only minor lip service to it, if that. At least a great majority of the Republican Party fights openly and stridently against issue, culminating in the shameless exploitation of it in the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush, who promised a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, only further proving the point of those subscribing to the fact that the only way to deny a right is to legally take that right off the board by jamming it into the constitution. The Democratic Party is either lukewarm or silent on the issue, a far worse crime, especially if those being silent support the issue.

This has never been more evident in light of the president’s speech this week at a New York City gay rights group fundraising function, wherein Barack Obama, the purported progressive new generation politician, was showered with abuse. And so what is the more pathetic exploitation, the use of a social issue to rally the troops against it or one that appears sympathetic to cull its support?

This president, New York and the United States had better prepare for this new tide of history, for slowly it is shifting, as it always had and always must shift in the direction of liberty. For the first time since it has been polled, a slight majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage or at least civil unions. This has officially become the will of the people.


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