THE FIGHT TO LEGALIZE WEED IN NJ CONTINUES

Aquarian Weekly
5/30/18

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE FIGHT TO LEGALIZE WEED IN NJ CONTINUES

There’s no reason to believe we can’t get there. This is not a rolling-off-the-log one, though. This is not one you get overnight. This takes time. We’re in that process right now.
– NJ Governor Phil Murphy, NJ 2019 Budget Address, May 8, 2018

Unlike the clown boy we have in the White House who is doing his illegal best to turn this damaged nation into a full-blown banana republic, we here in NJ hold our officials to a higher standard. Actually, we don’t. This place is a cesspool and has been for decades. The last guy here, you know, Chris Christie, was so spectacularly corrupt his record-low polling became legend. It led to the successful run by uber-progressive, Phil Murphy. As stated by Mr. Murphy throughout his campaign, the linchpin/cornerstone/foundation of his economic agenda and outlook for the Garden State leaned heavily on the rightful legalization of marijuana for sale, growth, and industry. The American way. Private sector growth and ingenuity free from government intercedence (especially this draconian federal government – that’s right Jeff Sessions, we mean you).

In other words: Don’t Tread on Us!

And while it is true that Murphy surfed into office on an anti-Trump wave last November, a wave growing by the month, the results of which will be evident this fall or not – we’ll see – there was no doubt his forward-thinking and fresh take on this issue was key to the resurgence of this state. It certainly was key to this space’s rousing endorsement of Mr. Murphy. This came, of course, with a caveat: Murphy had to get on this. Has it happened yet? Nope.

As I write this, Murphy’s party has total dominance in the state legislature, a body that had already drafted a bill to legalize marijuana when Christie was still limping around Trenton trying to avoid tomatoes being thrown at him by wandering urchins, which was duly supported by our new governor, who, once again, stomped to victory.

But it has been over the requisite 100 days – a mark that is common for government executives – of this administration and we have seen nothing but muckraking, filibustering, the usual religious, voodoo science and morality cries against legalization. This is the kind of cheap political nonsense that kept slavery alive for well over a century, massacred, then “relocated” native Americans, kept women from voting for 140 years, battled against civil rights, marriage equality, and on and on. It should be beyond our scope in the 21st century. This is not Alabama or anywhere near the god-forsaken South. This is New Jersey. Enough of this shit. Let’s get down to brass tacks and stop acting like it’s 1888, despite the old-fart, stuck in the 19th century national administration run by a guy who should be on a porch screaming at kids to get off his lawn.

Prohibition never works. Never will.

Based on several April polls conducted by NJ.com, half the citizens of our weird state are in favor of legalizing weed. And these are people over 45. People under that and especially people under 40 – in other words the future of this country, not fossils like this bleating troll of an attorney general, Jefferson Sessions, who is so goddamn out of it he still thinks Reefer Madness is a documentary and considers “high-tea” a code for shooting up, support this measure. Also, six out of ten NJ residents believe (and they are very correct) that bringing a new industry into the state will not only help with infrastructure (have you seen some of these byways around here?) and assist in funding schools and valued civil servants like firemen and police, etc.

And this is a majority. Murphy won with 55 percent of the vote. The current president of the U.S. didn’t get 50 percent of the electorate and he was duly slaughtered in the raw democratic vote by a woman who was generally despised. We have a true executive here. Not some also-ran pulled in by frightened steel worker union types. This is what democracy has wrought. Murphy has a mandate. Let’s get to it.

A few months back, I published a list of your representatives and their phone numbers for those like-minded free-thinkers and true free-market champions to pepper them with reason. That time has passed. It is time to begin to berate and cajole. We pay their salaries and it is time they begin to understand this, and to also understand one key element of what has changed around here in the past month.

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court correctly lifted an imbecilic ban on sport book in this country – another in a long line of ridiculous Judeo-Christian edicts on “sin” versus “law”, as if nine-tenths of nearly everything humans do for money or sport is not a sin. Sin is how you make a buck and keep the trains rolling, move merchandise and get along. Again, if we were to base everything on morality we would have no business in this country, or really a country. Come on. Gambling, like recreational drugs – booze, coffee, etc –and even killing machines like guns – is big business. Where is the morality there? It is not there. So shove it.

What was the highest court in the land’s argument for legalizing the betting on sporting events nationwide? It’s kind of crazy to allow one state the right to supply something to its citizenry and another a different set of criteria, or as Justice Samuel Alito reasoned:
“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.”

The key word there is “regulate”. Now apparently those who oppose the legalization are also the same ones who are anti-regulation. The EPA currently is a gutted joke run by a corrupt psychopath who believes the entire operation has less to do with the government preventing dangerous attacks on our environment and the general health than it is to get him swanky hotel rooms and free jet rides. So don’t give me any of your regulatory nonsense. Congress shall make no laws infringing upon our freedom. State rights! All that shit. Whatever hook you want to hang your tired ideology on it is time to couple the plant with the wager. There is no difference. Get off your high (pun intended) horse and dig on the reality of this.

I am not sure I can write anything more on the details of this. It is all out there. Some of our legislators have reportedly checked out the industry of what has turned Colorado’s economy around and they are starting to waver, because money makes the world go ‘round and because marijuana is less harmful to the human body and mind than alcohol, so it is time to stop pretending we’re God, or whatever, and begin to see clearly the path that is open to us. Let the Volstead Act, a crazy attempt at morally adjudicating our behavior, be your guide. Prohibition never works. Never will. Like supply-side economics and leech bloodletting.

This is the last time I shall persuade Mr. Murphy to come through with his campaign promise. This ain’t no mythical wall some real estate game show host made up because daddy didn’t love him. This is sound policy and I expect the governor to find a way to make it happen. The next words that come from here will be filled with vitriol and rage and the excuses will not be tolerated, nor should they by you.

Get to work.

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TOM WOLFE – 1930 – 2018

Aquarian Weekly
5/23/18

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

TOM WOLFE – 1930 – 2018

Tom Wolfe was a novelist in journalist’s clothes – included with his signature white suits and cane and top hat and matching shoes and all the rest. This is what people in the know will tell you. But I wholly disagree with this. I believe it was the opposite. He was a journalist first. Even in his best fiction, which for me pales in comparison to his best journalism, you will find more than traces of a man living comfortably in the Who What When Where and Why. He wrote nine non-fiction books from 1965 to 1981, all of them uniquely coddled with a style that rang bells and hit marks, sort of a bizarre combination of rousing endorsement and stinging rebuke on the form without compromise. It was art, man. And that is coming from someone who has spent decades of comparing this “spooky art” – as Norman Mailer put it – to craft. But Wolfe was indeed an artist, because he meant to be. And that’s where it comes down to it for those of us who were fueled on that stuff and chose this course for our own level of scribe-dom.

These observations could also apply to Mark Twain and Ernest Hemmingway, two of the most important voices in the emergence of uniquely American letters, both of whom were journalists (Hemmingway’s first novel The Sun Also Rises is a pure work of journalism and he never denied it). And like them here is also what needs to be written about Tom Wolfe: The environments in which his work was created would not be the same or have the same resonance without Wolfe’s talent to frame them, which was significant and relentless, and if there is a finer more poignant or even goddamn honest thing you can say about a writer of true stories than I have yet to hear or read it.

In fact, I would say his New Journalism, a term he coined, wrote diligently towards and acted as its curator for decades, was a thing to behold. It became for me and a whole generation of gestating authors more important than fiction because it is as George McGovern’s Campaign Strategist Frank Mankiewicz opined on Hunter S. Thompson’s “coverage” of events in 1972, “the most accurate and least factual account” of things possible. Thompson later mused in his brilliant Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 that objective journalism has failed us. It is what eventually landed a monster like Richard Nixon in the White House, a lesson we had to apparently learn again nearly half a century later.

Wolfe understood this better than all of his contemporaries; Norman Mailer, Gay Telese, Terry Southern, Joan Didion, and George Plimpton, all of them in one way or another guideposts that gave voice to this space in the manner in which all of it goes down. This is because Tom Wolfe stood on the high ground, took a moment to look down after a long breath and put the damn thing into perspective. What was happening to the craft? He needed to know. Mailer didn’t. Thompson didn’t. Joan kind of wanted to know but she knew that by asking was to take on too much lifting.

But that was long after Wolfe took his first gig at the Herald Tribune a few months before I entered the human race proper in 1962. The Herald hired bright, uber-pretentious seekers then; setting the paper apart from the rest of the steaming crap that boiled up from the subway grates in NYC in the post-war grit of Charles Foster Kane’s “Declaration of Principles”. These were rooms filled with terrible marauders and dime-store lede-driven tacticians that needed the kid to bring the new form. What would that be? Did Truman Capote know when he took that train to Kansas and wrote about wayward drifters who slaughtered a family for a few bucks that was never there? Many said In Cold Blood was the first “novel as fiction”, others, and Mailer would be one of those, would point to his Armies of the Night, which is a princely piece of vitriol that would reverberate from the 1955 founding of the Village Voice in the corner of the White Horse Tavern after too much drinking and way too much revolutionary thought.

It was his multi-layered command of the language that made him twist it like Picasso’s brush.

Be that as it may, I came to Wolfe around the time of Mailer’s breakout through George Plimpton. In the autumn of 1968, my dad took me to see the film Paper Lion in a theater in the bustling Parkchester section of the North Bronx. Not long after, maybe before middle-school, I would read the book. But it was Alan Alda’s depiction of the skinny intellectual trying to make sense of pro football by being a pro football player that had given me my own perspective on what it meant to be a storyteller. It was Plimpton’s work with the Paris Review that then led me to a Wolfe interview in which he revealed methods of combing taped interviews and observations to paint larger pictures of the craft that would have me devouring The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby before long. I would eventually find my way to his kinetic The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test after getting abducted by Ken Kesey’s fever-dream opus, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in a high school literary class and I knew that if I could or would make the words work; to heel and parry and spin and dance, it would have to be this way.

You see, I got Wolfe right away. This his Wolfe’s gift. He did not mess around. It was his multi-layered command of the language that made him twist it like Picasso’s brush. He could coin “Radical Chic” as easily as the “Me Decade” and it all made sense. It was the way in which he provided clarity to his subjects and gave them meaning. This is what is at the heart, if not a veiled comparison, of my first published book, Deep Tank Jersey – One Man’s Journey into the Heart of a New Jersey Club Band. And although the book reeks of Jack Kerouac and much of the journalism I had studied to get to where that book ends up, it is Wolfe who informs it. It would not have gotten off the ground if not for Wolfe and his New Journalism or the idea of it. It is the ideas that come through and that make us want to read it and to eventually write it because it has to be written, like art.

Like Tom Wolfe.

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IT’S UNCLE RUDY TIME…IT’S UNCLE RUDY TIME!

Aquarian Weekly
5/2/18

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

IT’S UNCLE RUDY TIME…IT’S UNCLE RUDY TIME!
(Sung to The Tune of the “Howdy Doody” Theme)

As I have written dozens of times in this space over the span of these 20 years, Rudolf William Louis Giuliani is by far the best politician of my lifetime, certainly in the time I have covered politics. He said if he were elected mayor he would clean up the cesspool of violence, crime and degradation that was New York City, bring back businesses and all that. He was elected in 1993 and he did. I was there the night he defeated David Dinkins; crammed into the New York Hilton on Sixth Avenue across from the Ziegfeld Theater around two in the morning, the returns rolling in slowly, and then it was over. Giuliani, looking haggard but defiant with his 50.7 percent of the vote, said the usual shit about law and order, as those of us in press row laughed. Oh, how we laughed. Clean up New York City?

Back then Donald Trump was a whore real estate junkie, and also a Democrat. His only stumble into politics was his full page Daily News ad calling for the hanging of the Central Park Five, all of whom were eventually found not guilty for raping a woman in 1989. It seemed like a pathetically transparent grandstand by another vacuous celebrity who knew nothing about the facts but needed to “weigh in”, a kneejerk reaction that he thought would play well as the tough guy to whatever suckers he was trying to roll somewhere on the island of Manhattan. In other words, Classic Donald Trump.

Back then Giuliani was the voice of the law in the most powerful legal team in the nexus of American street justice in the Southern District of New York, busting Wall St. fraud and mobsters. He was fond of referring to The Donald, as we called him back then, as a “two-bit hustler” around the main office building downtown. He said it more than once to one of his rising stars, James Comey, because Uncle Rudy (as I started dubbing him eventually) had no use for Donald Trump and lord knows any officer of the law busting money men for fraud was no ally of Trump’s.

But in 2016, there was no one more vociferous cheerleader for Donald Trump’s campaign for president than Rudy Giuliani, Mr. 9/11, America’s Mayor and a FOX News regular. No one could figure it out. Everyone in the know had a ton of stories of Giuliani openly mocking Trump as far back as when Uncle Rudy pulled out of a race against Hillary Clinton for NY Senate in 2000, when Trump dumped millions into a winning Clinton campaign. Four years later, the Clintons would be there to celebrate Trumps’ third marriage.

Even when Trump was reeling from the Access Hollywood tape a month before Election Day, Giuliani ran to any microphone he could find – one of the great quips of the 1990s around the press corps for years was “The most dangerous place in New York is between Rudy Giuliani and a hot mic” – to defend the candidate. He then began showing up to Trump’s rabid rallies, firing up the crowd with demented, almost fascistic nonsense that many considered the final nails in the credibility of a man who once spent $3.6 million to gather one delegate for an ill-fated run for president in 2008.

It was, in the end, vengeance for Uncle Rudy, who despised Hillary Clinton more than he could stomach standing next to Trump, who he knew was a corrupt liberal phony, who would likely destroy the Republican Party before he would get a niff at the White House. Clinton, as Uncle Rudy recalls it, mocked his pulling out of the 2000 rumble for senate because of health reasons as some kind of wimpy slink away. He did not forget it and he went hard after her, accusing her of every known crime since the dawn of civilization.

And then Giuliani did something quite interesting. He went on FOX News and started telling everyone that he had it cold from deep sources inside the FBI that the Hillary email stuff was not over. “Big news,” he grinned like the Cheshire Cat a day or so before his old buddy, James Comey re-opened the investigation publicly and to this day is cited (wrongly, mind you) in the half-assed liberal excuse-mill as the beginning of the end for Hillary Clinton. However, it was another appearance on the goofy “news’ channel that eventually alerted the FBI that something funky was going on within the Trump campaign and Wikileaks and the Russian government when Giuliani again promised more bad news for his enemy. He knew, he said, that the Russians had Clinton emails and soon they will be released.

What he has to do now may be tougher; keep himself and the president of the United States out of deep shit.

Trump, for his part, went on television that night and begged the Russian government to steal more Clinton emails. This, and not the alleged dossier and all the other Trump excuse-mill crap, was what put the tail on Trump that consequently led to Comey’s firing, the recusal of the Attorney General on the Russia case and the appointment of the special counsel.

James Comey, you may have heard, has laid this entire timeline out in his new book that doesn’t need any further publicity – if I see Comey’s mug on my TV again I may throw up. Suffice to say, within days of the Comey run on all-things media, Giuliani decided to “get involved”. He is now part of the crumbling, bumbling, completely ineffectual Trump Legal Team that has been unable to control its client. And there really isn’t any reason to ask why.

Before the Comey book release, Trump’s private lawyer, Michael Cohen, who has been his “fixer” for decades, was raided and picked up by the FBI with, allegedly reams of material that no one with half a brain doesn’t think is loaded with criminal activity, suddenly tossing a critical part of this investigation into the Southern District of New York, Uncle Rudy’s old stomping grounds.

Giuliani, a man who lived on the edge of the organized crime and Wall St. cartels knows when someone is about to cough it up. And it will not go down with his name attached to it. Because that is exactly what is transpiring, and all that talk about how supportive America’s Mayor was in 2016 is about to go out the window. Hillary Clinton is in the rearview mirror and the only thing keeping Giuliani out of this investigation is his contacts and his moxie, which he will use with every last breath.

And then, with Shakespearean type tragedy, Donald Trump put in a call to his favorite FOX morning show and went on a non sequitur rant to beat all of them for 30 uninterrupted minutes of what can only be described as abject lunacy, no less than eight times implicating himself in several open cases and contradicting Cohen’s lawyers’ plea to keep the cache of documents and emails that may implicate the president in dozens of crimes out of the government’s hands.

Rudy Giuliani is a quarter century older than he was that early morning in 1993 when he set forth to become what I still believe is one of the most impressive jobs in the history of governance. But what he has to do now may be tougher; keep himself and the president of the United States out of deep shit.

Good luck.

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EXIT STAGE RYAN

Aquarian Weekly
4/18/18

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

EXIT STAGE RYAN

I was waiting in the modest airport in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with my family finishing up a wonderful new book on Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks and peeling pieces of my burnt skin from my wrist when I saw Paul Ryan appear on CNN and say, after weeks of vehemently denying credible news reports, that he is no longer seeking re-election for the United States Congress. He’s handing in his speakership. For all intents and purposes, with the heat rising to dangerous levels in and around his party and its president, he is getting the fuck out of Dodge.

With the entire federal government in his party’s hands, the third most powerful figure in the United States government is quitting. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has seen the writing on the wall and it is not good. Internal Republican polling strongly indicates there is a political Blue Tsunami coming in six months and he wants no part of it.

Like athletes who take the millions to play in a new city and then have the balls to tell you it’s because of their family, Ryan is wheeling out the usual tropes. Anti-Trump Republicans and conservative columnists and the predictable wave of liberal analysis have wrongly interpreted this slipping out the back door as a clear sign of Ryan’s exhaustion of working for and a general disgust in the behavior of our game show president. That, of course, is utter nonsense. There are more pictures of Paul Ryan smiling while standing or sitting or signing bills with Donald Trump aka David Dennison (Warning: That ain’t ever getting old around here) than there is of Melania Trump, who looks in every White House photo op like she’s been kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

You see, when it suited his agenda (and I am seriously not sure what the hell that is anymore), Ryan ate Donald Trump’s shit, carried his water and spent more press conferences playfully dodging questions about his angry, off-the-hinge tweets. Even when he was uncomfortable with the president of the United States providing cover for marauding Nazi marchers, one of which murdered a protester with his car, there was something of an embrace of Trump.

Ryan told CNN their “differences” were merely “style” and geographic origins, that only lunatics are from New York City and not sweet, homey, down-to-earth Wisconsin, where paying porn stars to sleep with you and then shut-up and personal lawyers being raided by the FBI is unfamiliar cosmopolitan shenanigans. He was apparently the one person who missed the Netflix Making of a Murderer series, which makes his home state appear as some backwater third-world desert of kill-crazed hicks, corrupt police and a government asleep at the wheel.

What Ryan is most of all is a quitter and he is running from this rat-infested sinking vessel as fast as you can imagine

Despite his purported Ayn Randian roots, his long-rumored ideological fiscally conservative bent and the rest of what he tells girls and Wall Street hucksters at DC cocktail parties, Ryan sold his soul to Trumpism, with its empty promises, bloated deficits, and anti-trade, barely coherent nationalistic claptrap. Ryan is just another hack like Gerald Ford, who wanted everyone on his golf outings to think he wasn’t ruined by the pardoning of Nixon and some far-fetched palaver about “healing the nation” when he took one for the party and then went out and lost the presidency to a peanut farmer.

What Ryan is most of all is a quitter and he is running from this rat-infested sinking vessel as fast as you can imagine, despite there being zero chance, even in a year where most Republicans would be lucky to not be tarred and feathered in town squares, to be re-elected. According to the numbers’ geeks over at Five Thirty-Eight, Wisconsin’s 1st district, or what Ryan has been representing now since 2011, is 11.3 percentage points more Republican than the nation as a whole. Even in the current and climbing seven-to-ten-point Democratic advantage nationally, Ryan, with nearly $10 million in his coffers, would retain his seat, with the ignominious chore of handing the gavel back over to Nancy Pelosi, if she survives a fervent progressive insurrection, of course. But Ryan has endured worse. He ran on the doomed Mitt Romney ticket and once even tried to fake like he didn’t want to endorse Trump over moral reasons, which he soon found out was not his thing. Fuck morals. We got tax cuts to get to.

And all of that is fine. I expect politicians to smear their rhetoric with hard-ons for morality and then trolling for teenage interns or turn the EPA into a private resort for friends and family, but Ryan wants you to think otherwise. He plays the whole this-and-that game as well as any of them. And this way leads to the exit, before he is fully blamed for kowtowing to and enabling what appears to be on a daily basis some kind of ridiculous parody of a frat house administration being run by a sloppy con artist and a bunch of people profiting off the idea of governance.

Thirty-eight House Republicans, including Ryan, have decided to not run for re-election this year, and twenty-five of them are through with the whole concept of politics as a viable vocation for people who thought Jesus had something to do with the founding of this nation built on free labor and land grabs. That is the greatest mass exodus in civic duty since World War II, according to the Brookings Institution. That is 75 years of politicians sucking it up against all odds being bested by a year in which just saying you belong to this party is as if you are pleased to be taking a dump on all that is decent and upstanding in the national fabric.

Paul Ryan thinks by quitting he gets to escape all that. And sure, I guess, he does. Pretty soon his corporate benefactors, whom he handed the candy store with that monstrous “tax reform” boondoggle last year, will pay him Clinton money to laugh about how silly this Trump idiot is, followed by a Comey-styled, “Can you believe Trump said this about that?” book.

Next!

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I’M OFFICIALLY BORED OF CRAZY TRUMP

Aquarian Weekly

4/11/18

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

I’M OFFICIALLY BORED OF CRAZY TRUMP

Donald Trump, aka El Douche, aka David Dennison aka Twitter Boy, our game show president, needs new material.

I was frankly psyched for this run since it purported to be rife with intrigue, goofiness, abject megalomania and off-the-charts WTF. For columnists with a penchant to choose anarchy over actual governance and for someone whose love for this country expands only about six feet outside my door, a Trump presidency was supposed to be entertaining. And although for a while it was, it appears now to have a shelf life.

I believe this whole Trump thing has jumped the shark.

Crazy tweets about celebrities and half-baked conspiracy theories and campaign rallies and hookers and Russians and knee-jerk racist rants and random firings of lunatics from every angle in jobs they have no business having and fucking up all over the joint was amusing for a while, but save for this idiot yanking his pants down at the U.N. or flailing his cock at a festival audience ala his mentor, the ghost of Jim Morrison, this has become tiresome.

This whole thing has devolved into Trump’s old NYC 1980s routine of calling up Page Six of the NY Post and telling the staff who he’s sleeping with to close a deal on a swamp in Jersey. It is One Trick Pony land. He’s got one bit, it is stale, and it needs to change.

Hell, I honestly don’t know what to write anymore about this buffoon. Over sixty major contributors to the administration have either left in ignominious shame, quit under extreme pressure or were sacked on Twitter. Some of them have either publicly or privately mocked him as a child wracked with ADD with the inability to concentrate on anything other than what people say about him. A dozen or more of the campaign to elect El Douche are either under investigation or indicted, arrested or turning state’s evidence for something to do with colluding with Russia. There are what, now, 20 to 30 women either accusing this pig of sexual harassment or assault and still others, one most infamously, revealing massive pay-offs to keep affairs quiet. There is a trade war with China to save 300 steel jobs for another 16 months, which is turning the stock market into a cartoonish rollercoaster, hundreds of thousands of children are being turned from citizens into criminals as he and congress dither over DACA, and most recently in a fit of stroke or a doped-up rage he appointed John Bolton, an onerously psychopathic TV personality with a hard-on for invading 16 different countries, his third (Third!) national security advisor.

Fun fact: Bolton found out about the gig while on Fox News ranting about invading North Korea.

Hell, Trump’s lawyer had to get a lawyer.

But this ain’t cutting it for me.

In order to get me going here, he has to be waaaaay crazier.

Let’s face it kids, the funny has gone out of this thing. It is a TV show that needs to be cancelled, but it won’t.

And even if it did (Trump’s most brilliant move) we would be stuck with a man who thinks Jesus tells him what kind of shirt to wear every day and strives daily to spread the word that homosexuals are agents of Satan, while he can’t apparently be at a lunch alone with a woman for fear he might glance at her cleavage and Moses will yank him into a closet and make him look at pictures of Marylyn Manson jacking off to mutilation videos.

Mike Pence is Trump’s great equalizer, and something the Democrats should think about if they take back the House this fall, because there is enough evidence of the president committing six counts of obstruction of justice (most of it coming from either Trump’s TV appearances, speeches or twitter), to impeach him. But while Trump is like a sloppy dog that shits on your couch twice a day, Pence is a starving Rottweiler headed for your throat.

Be that as it may, Trump needs new material. Yesterday, at the time of this writing, he held another in a long, tedious stream of press conferences where he claimed for the billionth time that the 2016 presidential election, an election he won by a perfect storm, was rigged and fraudulent and that millions, not forty or a couple of hundred, millions of people voted illegally. This is so December, 2016. In fact, Trump himself – he probably forgot, what is he 75?, disbanded a special team to investigate voter fraud after it had the audacity to tell him the truth; he’s nuts, there is no voter fraud, and that he actually won the election and that maybe this whole paranoia is a sign of deeper issues, because, um, he is already the leader of the free world, so what the fuck is wrong with him?

In the same off-the-cuff riffing, as if some kind of blandly presented homage to the corpse of Robin Williams (he literally showed the speech prepared for him and flipped it away like it was a 1971 Johnny Carson appearance – I have seen about two dozen people do that in cheap comedy clubs, come on) he wheeled out the same exhausted, “Mexicans are the worst” shit, blathering something about “more rapes than ever”. I am not sure what this creep’s fascination is with rape except that he has been accused of just about everything egregious you can do to a woman, including marrying them, (rim shot!), so maybe this is his next move.

Soon after this standard, almost word-for-word greatest-hits of the kind of submental Citizen Trump performance he has cranked out a thousand times since late 2015, he gets on Air Force One and claims that the $130,000 paid to a porn star to shut-up had nothing to do with him, despite it being faxed and signed on Trump Administration paperwork, negotiated by his personal lawyer, and paid to a woman who went on 60 Minutes and said she got it for enduring what sounded like reluctantly mechanical sex with a fat old man.

Ugh, man that was a waste of our time. This Stormy Daniels may be more desperate for attention and even stupider than Trump; a spectacular feat in itself.

All I am saying is if this show is going to run for another two and a half years, it has to step it up. He is all talk, no action, except for perpetuating the rote Republican stuff that has failed miserably for years. He needs to take this mania to another level. We need better crazy, because this crazy is repeating itself.

I think it’s time he brings in pros to advise him; Charlie Sheen or Bill O’Reilly or Iggy Pop, real loons, who know how to change it up to keep the ratings going. I mean, this might fly for Johnny Lunch Pail and Mom & Pop Idaho, but this is the big stage. I don’t expect him to rise to the level of Andrew Jackson, but at least spice it up, get beyond the tweets and the Mexicans nonsense.

Trump has become an over-used catch phrase, a bubble gum pop song you can’t get out of your head.

If he is going to suck this badly at being president, he has to be more hilarious and outrageous.

This crap might get the liberals over at MSNBC lathered, but radicals need this moron to kick into a higher register and fast.

Let’s go Dennison, make with the pants-dropping.

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THE GRADUATE at 50

Aquarian Weekly
4/4/18

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE GRADUATE at 50
Celebrating My Favorite Film with Author Beverly Gray

It is about pace and movement, a persistent forward motion; the camera, the music, the relentless time that ticks beneath its characters’ frenetic iniquities. And then, quite consequently, it is about stasis; a spiritual, cultural, generational and intellectual immobility that comes from being unaware and unmotivated and under-the-gun. These are the two elements of my favorite film, The Graduate, which is now a half century old. It is, I believe, as flawless a work of art as I have absorbed for now 35 of those years. Long before I could grasp the more detailed elements of all that immobility in motion, it shook me to the core. It never fails at this, even today.

I see The Graduate reflected in the eyes and sounds and actions of those kids from Parkland High School and their generation that follow them into the streets and ask questions of why the world they enter is the way it is and what they can do to change it.

On the very surface, The Graduate is a dark comedy about a lost college graduate track star, Benjamin Braddock, whose future (to him) looks bleak and meaningless. To everyone else, including his doting and ultra-materialistic parents and their mostly distracted upper-middle class friends, he is a track star with a cool car and a bright future laid out before him; grad school, privilege and bachelor eligibility. Only one person seems to see Benjamin’s doom-struck vulnerability; the seductive villainess, Mrs. Robinson, a long-time family best friend. Trapped in a loveless marriage, she leads the confused and gullible collegiate into a summer affair that ends abruptly when the two families coerce Benjamin to take out her daughter, Elaine Robinson, so beautiful, so innocent, who Benjamin falls almost instantaneously in love with because she is as skeptical of the same death-sentence world for which they are both working diligently to join against their will.

This dynamic, which will turn recalcitrant boredom into romantic obsession and eventually a generational outcry would become cinema history.

But at its core, and what makes The Graduate a lasting work of American art, is the brilliantly creative way it captures the sometime involuntary transitions our lives can take from ambition into disillusionment into rebellion into reluctant acceptance and eventually settling into a kind of fantasy about intransigent retreat…but does it?

Like all great works of art, The Graduate asks its audience to decide on its message, its morality, its conclusions. It provokes independent thought – imagine that – and it is that creative leap that has captivated audiences, and me, for generations.

Late last year a book titled Seduced by Mrs. Robinson – How The Graduate Became the Touchtone of a Generation crossed my path and of course I needed to immediately read it and speak to its author, Beverly Gray, who holds a PhD in American Literature at UCLA. Although daunted by her accomplishments and smitten with her book, I found Ms. Gray to be a delightful conversationalist if not as manically intrigued by the intricacies of The Graduate as myself. “For a movie that touched me in a certain way and touched everyone around me I think it’s hard to beat this one,” Gray says. “Every time I see The Graduate I am surprised all over again that at the beginning there is this modest little emblem that says Embassy Pictures, not Paramount, not Universal, not 20th Century Fox. This small company put a little over three million dollars into this movie and it made a fortune. It would signal to people that they could do things in a different way.”

Reflecting its themes, the film’s production may have shown the way of independence, but its perfection is miraculous when considering the relative neophyte stage of those who created it: Produced by a B-Movie hustler, Lawrence Turman, and directed by second-timer, Mike Nichols, whom I eulogized in this paper upon his passing in 2014, and written by a TV comedy writer, Buck Henry, who would take its inspiration from a first novel by Charles Webb, while introducing relative unknown young actors, Dustin Hoffman (Benjamin Braddock) and Kathrine Ross (Elaine Robinson), and a stage actor, Anne Bancroft (Mrs. Robinson). These are artists discovering the craft. To conquer it so completely is a stunning achievement.

The Graduate was a great deal more ambitious for Nichols,” says Gray. “He was trying all sorts of things, including bringing some ideas from European filmmaking. He benefited from the independence of a movie not initially sanctioned by Hollywood.”

When considering its juxtaposition of movement and immobility, it is a work of seditious art reflective of America’s 1960s edicts; social, sexual, economic upheavals, yet it is relevant in these times dominated by a youth culture spanning the globe with technology and invention, simultaneously crippled and liberated by both. The greatest gift may be that The Graduate is a visual (wonderfully shot and edited), literary (beautifully scripted and executed) and aural (sublimely prescient songs by Simon and Garfunkel) tale told for then and now; human nature stripped bare and placed before us in startling genuineness.

Ultimately, The Graduate is a cyclical marvel; it begins with a confused and isolated man in a conveyance seat; an airplane, and ends with that same man, confused and isolated, this time with as equally confused and isolated woman, sitting in a conveyance seat; a bus. He is moving, but sitting. His journey, the movie, and thus your experience begins and ends in the same place; like life and death and love happiness and all the things that matter in life – beginnings and endings, all the same.

No matter where that bus was going for me, it was at least moving forward.

“The only time Benjamin seems to be in control of his destiny is when he is behind the wheel of a very snazzy sports car and he’s finally taking action,” observes Gray. “He is finally in motion, but as you say, he ends up in the back of that bus going somewhere or nowhere or who knows?”

And that, as stated, is the lasting charm of The Graduate…who knows?

Ms. Gray ponders it today: “I have seen it so many times that I don’t remember that very first time I watched it; if I felt excited or this sense of doubt and anxiety and worry about the end. What I love is that apparently Mike Nichols being particularly at that stage of his life a pretty cynical guy, always felt a cynicism about this romance and what was going to become of it. He was quite convinced that in a few miles on that bus Elaine was going to turn to Ben and say, ‘I have nothing to wear,’ and so on. Larry Turman insists that he turned to Mike and said, ‘You’re a really bright guy Mike, but you don’t realize that the youth of America are going to embrace this ending as the greatest, most optimistic thing that could possibly have happened. I suspect I felt little glimmers of doubt while I was probably clapping my hands with glee along with everybody else in the theater as we saw this exuberant light from the adult world.”

It is a story of searching for meaning where, ultimately, there is none. The promise of youth as a con. The glimpse of what ignoring the frightening vagaries of a future looks like when in the hands of a knee-jerk reactionary, who, in very Zen-like fashion, lives entirely within the moment coddled by a relentless id decrying any hint at convention. This is cat-nip for the young and a specter of destruction for the rest who need youth to perpetuate the nonsensical treadmill of society.

And in a very real way The Graduate is a warning to those who attempt to change the world against the tide of societal norms. The natural revolt of youth, as it was on March for Our Lives Day last week, is brimming with a sense that where they live, where they are asked to grow and thrive and realize their dreams is not how they wish it be. And that is okay. It is more than okay. It is a celebration of youth. But at the same time there is the reality that change is impermanent and that what they hold dear will too be challenged in time. The bus keeps going, but we are sometimes left sitting in it thinking we are breaking free, but we’re still, well…sitting.

For her part, having spent the time and energy writing about a film that has moved her for decades, something I am well-aware of in my authorial pursuits, Beverly Gray is most complimented when people read her book and want to revisit the The Graduate again and perhaps enhance their feelings about it.

“I would like younger people to see what the fuss was about in the 60s and maybe understand their parents or grandparents better because this was a movie that so many people of my generation felt was life changing in one way or another, not always in the same ways. Some people looking at Ben, some people looking at Elaine, some people even looking at Mrs. Robinson as a cautionary tale and making some of their own life choices based on a fear of ending up like her. I think a younger person, I would hope, would see something in a time that they don’t live in and also hopefully find something that’s meaningful to them.”

The Graduate is a work of art that today inspires me as much as it did when I was balefully looking out at a world not of my making that I had to face – change or no change. No matter where that bus was going for me, it was at least moving forward.

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THE HALF-ASSED STEEL TARIFF

Aquarian Weekly
3/14/18

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE HALF-ASSED STEEL TARIFF

Man, I was all prepared to crank out another two-way column that would upset everyone who loves and hates the president simultaneously, but after that noodle proclamation or whatever that was David Dennison aka Donald Trump signed into whatever it is he signed it into I’ve got nothing.

What I was going to write is that it should come as no surprise to anyone that Dennison aka Trump has been saying since, I don’t know, the late 1990s that he despises trade deficits and believes the U.S. is getting ripped off. He is partially right about this, which was ostensibly the foundation of Senator Bernie Sanders run, and that is why Dennison aka Trump was elected president by a thin margin of 77,000 voters in the Rust Belt in November of 2016. Beyond quasi-racism, name-calling, and fending off sexual assault and harassment claims, this was the core of his campaign. Dennison (Trump) would have been right to pay back those who put him in the White House, even if it plunged the rest of us into a possible trade war and jacked up the price of cars (steel) and beer (aluminum), among other goods. This idea, though, that just because the president is under siege from porn stars and a special counsel that he’s trying to change the narrative (while theoretically could be true) should not be deemed as the normal Trumpian aka Dennisonesque “shoot-from-the-hip” stuff. This is why is he president.

However, this week El Douche only went half-way – and some with a grasp of the facts and statistics could argue no-way – to end with any strong measure the true trade deficit for the steel and aluminum industries. By exempting Canada and Mexico from his half-assed edict, the president is barely throwing a cup of water on what he and the unions believe is a raging fire. It is symbolic, like most things Dennison (Trump) says or does. He is our most “How Does This Look?” president. He waves his hands a lot to make you think he’s pulling a rabbit out of a hat, when it isn’t really a hat and there was never actually going to be a rabbit.

To be fair, this is politics as usual, but this was supposed to not be that this time, right?

If Dennison (Trump) was to do what he boldly claimed a week earlier before the markets tumbled and nearly every member of his pro-trade/antiunion party starting to cry foul, then there could have been real teeth to this, and with it, part of the doom that I would have loved to predict here. But like Mexico paying for the border wall, branding China as currency manipulators, wiping out the ACA in his first week, revealing his tax returns, suing the 19 women accusing him of all measures of sexual improprieties, signing any DACA bill sent to his desk, outlawing bump stocks, signing the “largest tax cut in history”, growing the economy by four-percent, appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton, eliminate Common Core, (fuck it, I’m exhausted, you get it) he failed to either do anything or went to the edge and pulled back.

Let’s see how Americans like paying more for stuff to save a few thousand jobs in three states.

Don’t get me wrong, what our game show president doesn’t know about trade you could barely squeeze into Yankee Stadium. He infamously blurted out recently when pressed on this idea; “Trade wars are easy to win”, despite U.S. going oh-fer in every instance, most disastrously the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff that expedited the Great Depression or the fabulous 18 months when George W. Bush tried to save the steel industry in 2002 by raising tariffs on selected steel products that tanked more jobs than were saved and plunged the very states it was to “save” into economic crisis.

I was actually looking forward to a real biting trade tariff to prove AGAIN this nonsense about U.S. jobs being mostly eliminated from trade and how if it were implemented they would suddenly return. Then in another generation some other blowhard will promise to fix it and make jobs come back and some new suckers will buy it. But alas, none of that will happen, because in order of annual percentage, here are the top ten countries importing steel into this country, all of which have been sighted by the United Steel Workers Union as “cheating” by dumping unfairly underpriced product into this country – which by the way is the case with nearly every product that enters this country or is made by manufacturers abroad to keep prices down in places nearly 80-percent of the country shops at like Walmart and Target – but that is another cogent argument in the face of hysteria for another day:

1. Canada 16.7 percent
2. Brazil 13.2 percent
3. South Korea 9.7 percent
4. Mexico 9.4 percent
5. Russia 8.1 percent
6. Turkey 5.6 percent
7. Japan 4.9 percent
8. Germany 3.7 percent
9. Taiwan 3.2 percent
10. China 2.9 percent

And this is according to Reuters. In other estimations China is farther down the list, but definitely farther down than Canada and Mexico, who have been exempt from these tariffs. And this is a good thing if you care about unwinnable trade wars and paying more for goods, but it is really just a Band-Aid on a gaping wound if you voted for David Dennison aka Donald Trump and you expected results.

Listen, I get the steel and aluminum lobby has this coming every ten years or so. Someone has to pay lip service to these voters. However, why is the president choosing winners and losers here? Why is this socialist edict of saving a few thousand jobs more important than costing thousands or more of other jobs that may and would disappear as a result of a true tariff with real teeth. And what of these other countries that are not Canada and Mexico? Do they, especially allies like Brazil, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea (who at the time of this writing is working its ass off trying to avoid a nuclear war between ego-mad sociopaths) view this as a hostile gesture borne of capitalist cronyism and retaliate in kind?

A Symbolic gesture to the voter base is as old as the concept of politics, and thank goodness someone got to this nut job before he made a sweeping 25 percent/10 percent tariff on key trade partners like Canada and Mexico, which by treaty, must not be fucked with. If Dennison aka Trump really wanted to enact his belief and if we are truly to see this fail miserably, then why half-ass it. Why not just go after the WTO as he has NAFTA?

Show some guts and do what you say, for once.

Let’s see how Americans like paying more for stuff to save a few thousand jobs in three states.

That would be worth writing about.

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THE FIGHT FOR LEGAL MARIJUANA

Aquarian Weekly
3/7/18

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE FIGHT FOR LEGAL MARIJUANA
Voting is Not Enough – Time to Get Involved

In a not-too-shocking twist, a formally bold New Jersey Senate, pummeled by misinformation, illogical panic and religious idiocy, is beginning to show signs of cracking on one of the key issues of the 2017 gubernatorial election, the legalization of marijuana. Our new governor, Phil Murphy was elected this past November with 56% of the vote on the force of this promise. This space fully endorsed his candidacy – only done maybe twice in two decades here – for this issue based on last summer’s details of the N.J. Senate’s proposed bill to do so, which Murphy then used as one of his campaign platforms. The economic and legal ramifications of this vote is, in my humble opinion and backed with strong data from states who have gone this route, important for the money desperately needed for education, infrastructure and to finally deal with a state that is taxed higher than almost every other in the union. Plus, it is stupid to make a vice that is scientifically less damaging than alcohol illegal, allowing only drug dealers to profit from its overwhelming use.

It is simple common sense, reality, statistics and economic solvency we are discussing here. And it must be done by this governor within the first 100 days, as promised, or the shit will come down.

The support for legalizing marijuana in New Jersey currently is around 42%, so it is not as important an issue for as many as it is here, but for those who understand how important this will be for the region (New York has suddenly begun discussions long overdue in legalizing it and seeing the same positive economic indicators if they do), it is paramount.

I implore Senate President Stephen Sweney, a fellow architect and strong proponent of this bill, to stand strong and get your constituents in line. Many Democrats, of course, have been besieged with the usual nonsense that has no basis in reality to thwart this effort; preachers, knee-jerk lazy cops, who cannot help but whine about adding freedoms, and those who are afraid to make this kind of political leap. Republicans too are split, but if they are truly for state’s rights, free-market control beyond government regulation and economic sanity, then the choice is easy.

The real indicator that this is on the cusp of happening is the panic among the opponents of the bill, who suddenly, after years of fear-mongering and draconian crap from the former governor, are pitching the always half-assed decriminalization concept along with expanding medicinal marijuana.

It is simple common sense, reality, statistics and economic solvency we are discussing here.

Fuck that. They had their chance, and with no prior support for an economically sound and legally binding push for legalization, they wish to water it down to appease pot heads and liberals. This is NOT about that. This is about pulling the dumb and scared into the 21st century. It is about stopping the cuts on our already razor-thin educations budget, our crumbling infrastructure and what is likely to be escalating taxes thanks to the ridiculously irresponsible and possibly unconstitutional federal government tax reform that puts limits on our write-offs here. Not to mention the way the economic structure of the Western Hemisphere will crumble if this idiotic trade war the president of the United States wants to embroil us in which will raise the price of automobiles, canned goods, etc.

If you support this bill and the idea of legalizing weed you must contact your state legislator, and for that I provide a handy little list. Find yours and call them and tell them to be brave and stand up for the electorate and do the right thing for the state.

Dawn Marie Addiego (R) – Medford, NJ 08055 (609) 654-1498

Christopher Bateman (R) – Somerville, NJ 08876 (908) 526-3600

James Beach (D) – Cherry Hill, NJ 08002 (856) 429-1572

Chris A. Brown (R) – Linwood, NJ 08221 (609) 677-8266

Anthony R. Bucco (R) – Denville, NJ 07834 (973) 627-9700

Gerald Cardinale (R) – Cresskill, NJ 07626 (201) 567-2324

Richard J. Codey (D) – Livingston, NJ 07039 (973) 535-5017

Christopher J. Connors (R) – Forked River, NJ 08731 (609) 693-6700

Kristin M. Corrado (R) – Wayne, NJ 07470 (973) 237-1360

Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D) – Camden, NJ 08102 (856) 541-1251

Joseph P. Cryan (D) – Union, NJ 07083 (908) 624-0880

Sandra B. Cunningham (D) – Jersey City, NJ 07305 (201) 451-5100

Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D) – South Plainfield, NJ 07080 (908) 757-1677

Michael J. Doherty (R) – Washington, NJ 07882 (908) 835-0552

Nia H. Gill, Esq. (D) – Montclair, NJ 07042 (973) 509-0388

Vin Gopal (D) – Ocean Twp., NJ 07712 (732) 695-3371

Robert M. Gordon (D) – Fair Lawn, NJ 07410 (201) 703-9779

Linda R. Greenstein (D) – Cranbury, NJ 08512 (609) 395-9911

James W. Holzapfel (R) – Brick, NJ 08724 (732) 840-9028

Thomas H. Kean, Jr. (R) – Westfield, NJ 07090 (908) 232-3673

Fred H. Madden, Jr. (D) – Turnersville, NJ 08012 (856) 232-6700

Declan J. O’Scanlon, Jr. (R) – Red Bank, NJ 07701 (732) 933-1591

Steven V. Oroho (R) – Sparta, NJ 07871 (973) 300-0200

Joseph Pennacchio (R) – Montville, NJ 07045 (973) 227-4012

Nellie Pou (D) – Paterson, NJ 07505 (973) 247-1555

Ronald L. Rice (D) – Newark, NJ 07106 (973) 371-5665

M. Teresa Ruiz (D) – Newark, NJ 07104 (973) 484-1000

Nicholas J. Sacco (D) – North Bergen, NJ 07047 (201) 295-0200

Paul A. Sarlo – Wood-Ridge, NJ 07075 (201) 804-8118

Nicholas P. Scutari (D) – Linden, NJ 07036 (908) 587-0404

Robert W. Singer (R) – Lakewood, NJ 08701 (732) 987-5669

Troy Singleton (D) – Moorestown, NJ 08057 (856) 234-2790

Bob Smith (D) – Piscataway, NJ 08854 (732) 752-0770

Brian P. Stack (D) – Jersey City, NJ 07307 (201) 721-5263

Stephen M. Sweeney (D) – West Deptford, NJ 08086 (856) 251-9801

Samuel D. Thompson (R) – Old Bridge, NJ 08857 (732) 607-7580

Shirley K. Turner (D) – Ewing Twp., NJ 08628 (609) 323-7239

Jeff Van Drew (D) – Cape May Court House, NJ 08210 (609) 465-0700

Joseph F. Vitale (D) – Woodbridge, NJ 07095 (732) 855-7441

Loretta Weinberg (D) – Teaneck, NJ 07666 (201) 928-0100

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ALL THE PRESIDENT’S CRIMINALS

Aquarian Weekly
2/28/18

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S CRIMINALS

This is getting silly.

In just over one year, a record by any historical standards, a preponderance of people surrounding either the Donald Trump campaign or his administration have been indicted, sacked, left in disgrace or under investigation for some alleged crime. Many of these, as well-reported and corroborated by the United States intelligence community and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have ties to the Russian government, which has now been wholly implicated several times over with a mountain of evidence in covertly corrupting this nation’s democratic integrity. By any standards, this is an impressive level of incompetence and maleficence. It’s almost as if we elected a shady real estate mogul/game show host or something.

I just want to go on record as saying, before we begin here, that the 170 historians who voted Trump the worst president ever this week are all nuts. He is not even the worst president of my lifetime – this one goes to Dick Nixon, followed closely by Lyndon Johnson, who by the way made their top 10 (“What the fuck?” say the ghosts of nearly 60,000 kids who died because of Johnson’s Viet Nam lies). But there is no doubt this is the worst 13 months of any president ever. I maintain that even William Henry Harrison’s thirty days spent dying of pneumonia was better.

Ignoring Trump’s daily and quite insane Twitter rants, his preternatural lying jag, his overtly knee-jerk racism, the phalanx of women accusing him of sexual harassment and assault, (what he bragged about on an Access Hollywood tape), or his continued dismissing of this “Russian Issue” by never ordering a single investigation or stronger defense mechanisms to combat it or flat-out refusing to rubber stamp stronger sanctions on this cyber terrorism, and, if I may, the obstruction of the case by firing the director of the FBI, we’ll merely concentrate on this growing rogue’s gallery of criminals surrounding him.

Well-known Nazi sympathizer, Henry Ford used to say, “You can tell a lot about a man by the company he keeps.”

Let’s put that theory to the test.

Before he was even inaugurated, the president’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was breaking all kinds of laws negotiating with Russians on reducing sanctions while playing around with Turkey. He might have gotten away with it, except he pulled his son into the shenanigans, which forced him to lie to everyone in the White House and then, which got him indicted, lied to the FBI. Trump repeatedly, and still has not altered his stance, praised Flynn – a man who stood on a stage in Cleveland during the RNC Convention and demanded the arrest of the Democratic candidate for president – while sending him cryptic emails to “Be strong.”

During this time, in fact, before all of this, a blathering weirdo investment banker, Carter Page, who was ostensibly working for the Russian government as a business liaison to the U.S. to “loosen up relations” was covertly working as an international advisor to the Trump campaign at the same time he was being closely followed by the FBI for “questionable tactics”. His ties to some of the people around the Trump campaign with strange Russian connections include Trump Campaign Manager (June – September 2016, during the crucial end of primary, convention, and pre-campaign season) Paul Manafort, indicted on 32 counts of money laundering and defrauding the government and his deputy, Rick Gates, indicted on a dozen more counts, along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had to recuse himself from any investigation of Russian meddling after being loose with the truth twice in front of congress about his discussions behind the scenes with Russia.

It’s almost as if we elected a shady real estate mogul/game show host or something.

Then of course there is George Papadopoulos, the guy no one around Trump seemed to recall, despite photos of them with him, including the president, and who has also pled guilty to lying to the FBI and is now co-operating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who only was hired when Trump stupidly sent FBI Director James Comey packing.

At this juncture I am going to cut Trump slack for his kids and his son-in-law, what can you do there? Especially for Trump, who never saw these people when they were growing up. Trump Jr., though, has been lying to everyone about everything, specifically the infamous Jun 9, 2016 meeting with a ton of nefarious types to get illegally procured (let that read Russian spies hacking into the DNC computers) dirt on the Democratic presidential candidate. Jared Kushner, who has dubious intelligence clearance but yet is allowed to see daily briefings simply because he happens to be sleeping with the boss’s daughter, has also reluctantly disclosed secret meetings with Russian bankers, (let that read gangsters, for it’s important to point out that all Russian banks are mobbed up, which is why we can’t see Donald Trump’s tax returns).

Then there’s campaign advisors like J.D. Gordan and Roger Stone, both of whom had direct connections with Wiki Leaks during the campaign, Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, who has come out this week and showed a measure of pride in secretly paying off a porn star hush money to protect Trump, this Devin Nunes clown who is both co-chair of a Senate investigation on Russia while running defense for the White House by releasing anti-FBI propaganda in the guise of whistle-blowing, the acting CIA Director John Brennan, who was busted for lying to congress about the Central Intelligence Agency spying on congressional computers, Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who is currently being investigated for giving his son access to cushy kickbacks, a reality TV show contestant, Omarosa Manigault, who was somehow allowed to roam the White House for a year before being fired and then ran back to reality TV to trash her boss, and the Mooch, who after a week as White House communications director was thrown out for being a foul-mouthed lunatic.

I’ve run out of time, so I won’t even go into white supremacist nationalist, Steve Bannon, who steered the Trump campaign to victory in November 2016 and was Chief White House Strategist for the administration’s first seven months before he was fired and then painted his former boss as a lying, stupid treasonous crazy man in a recent NY Times best-seller. Nor can I begin to dissect the oozing scum that is Trump’s current Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, an unabashed racist, whose entire existence is to cleanse the country of every kind of immigrant, illegal or otherwise.

I apologize for missing so many others. I only have so much time and space, but you get the point.

What does that tell you about the man?

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GENERATION DEAD

Aquarian Weekly
2/21/18

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

GENERATION DEAD

There have been 18 school shootings in this country in 2018. We’re six weeks in at the time of this writing. That is two school shootings a week. That means it is highly probable that by the time this hits the newsstands there will be a school shooting. Extrapolate that out over a year and it’s roughly 104 school shootings. That is people walking into our schools with guns, most of them automatic weapons, manufactured to kill as many living things as possible in the shortest amount of time over the swath of the widest geographic landscape. This is America in 2018.

At this rate, it is fairly likely that someone you know, in a place pretty close to you, is going to have to endure this tragedy. The odds are heading rapidly in that direction. This is America in 2018.

I merely write this not to begin an anti-gun rant or even to call for stricter gun laws or to whine like the bitches over at the NRA or Fox News. If you have read this space even for a week, never mind two decades, you know that is not where we reside. Freedom is a messy, horrible thing. It can and will get nuts, simply because people are nuts. Or at least people who are free to do things with that freedom that is antithetical to our purported Christian, exceptional view of America, which is, of course, total bullshit.

America elected Donald Trump. He is a violent, combative bully, who drew huge crowds egging on his supporters to beat the people who protested against him. He supports police violence and violence against illegal immigrants and brags about assaulting women. He loves calling people mean-spirited names and seems to have a preternatural need to act like a tough guy. This is the part of Trump I get. I grew up in the Bronx in the 1960s. We took beatings and gave them. We learned then that this is a nation of punks. We celebrate punks in film, video games, music, religion, politics, you name it. Of course, our president is a punk. This is the land of punks and bullies and people with guns shooting kids.

And sometimes the punks like to say, “Its ain’t guns, it’s people!” And they may be right, but then nearly a year ago today in a closed-to-the-media move, the punks go and pass a law to allow crazy people to get guns and the punk in the White House signed it.

So, let me reiterate, as a free-thinker, I am not about tossing laws at everything nor am I inclined to believe this country great or its people generally decent. I may be a little iffy on allowing the crazies to buy guns illegally, but, hey, someone has to pay for all those campaign costs, and the NRA ponies it up, so they get to force their agenda – see the punk/bully theory here. I also choose to believe we have less violent people than we like to think when 17 high school kids are suddenly gunned down in cold blood in class. If we were truly off the rails this would happen twice daily, instead of twice a week. The question one has to ask oneself at this juncture is how much can you accept this violence?

And here’s some free-thinking for you: Pretty soon all these kids who are being shot at are going to grow up, if we don’t kill them all, and they are not going to entertain a free-thinking, open-minded stance on the whole guns and crazies issue. They might – what did our nifty Speaker of the House call it the other day? – have a “knee-jerk reaction” to it all. We are slowly building a generation of the dead, and those who might survive it are not going to be in the mood for nuanced discussions on guns.

Just saying.

Take cigarettes for an example.

When I was in high school I would conservatively estimate that half the kids in my graduating class smoked cigarettes. This was June of 1980. I was 17. This was the generation where there were cigarette ads in magazines, especially magazines aimed at teenagers, and on TV and in billboards and posters everywhere. During that time, you could smoke on airplanes and in elevators and hospitals and restaurants. Now you can’t smoke in any of those places and there are no cigarette ads, even on the Internet, where I can buy the materials to build a bomb right now to blow up the next Boston marathon, legally. Time and a shitload of scientific study and its resulting evidence ostensibly killed the dominating presence of the cigarette. Of course, this was ushered merrily along by the entire controlling board of William Morris perjuring themselves in front of the U.S. Congress in the 1990s claiming that not only was nicotine not addictive, but that they had no knowledge of the chemicals they were dumping into it to make it even more so.

A generation of smoking, more or less, gone. I mean, kids smoke, but half of the senior class? Come on.

Pretty soon all these kids who are being shot at are going to grow up… and they are not going to entertain a free-thinking, open-minded stance on the whole guns and crazies issue.

Speaking of smoke, it is becoming painfully obvious to the same kids that this nonsense they have been fed about marijuana is bullshit, as did my generation, which is why my generation, not the lazy, lying, self-absorbed, hypocritical Boomers, are now taking over states to legalize it. Because we know it is not as addictive or as harmful as alcohol or even caffeine. This is due to more scientific study and its resulting evidence. So, pretty soon, despite 80 year-old fossils temporarily running the justice department as a way to bring us back to the stone age, it will be legal everywhere. Even sooner than that it will be legal where I write this, New Jersey, or there is one Irishman in the governor’s office who is in for a world of shit around here.

But I digress.

We now have a lot of kids – and they are growing with every shooting, and if things continue the way they’ve been going, and I see no end in sight, do you? – then they are going to be pissed. And usually those who are pissed finally get involved. And you wonder how long it will be? Ten years? When the idea of the freedom to shoot people will be as restricted as the freedom to smoke. You can smoke, you just can’t find out anything about it anywhere or really do it anywhere. This makes my free-thinking wince a little, but hey, this is how we roll. Who would have even imagined in 1980 or even 2010 that marriage equality would find its high-water mark and become the law of the land. A land run by punks and bullies and people with guns killing kids?

I have no thoughts on this matter that does not include cynicism, disgust and loathing. But this ain’t about me. I’m going to be dead soon, and hopefully not at the hand of a crazy man with an automatic weapon, but you never know. But probably not before Jeff Sessions or Donald Trump. They are old and will die soon and they don’t give a shit whether you die or not, kids. I only had to endure bomb threats and kids trying to punch me in the face repeatedly in the schoolyard. There are kids right now on TV crying because their friend was cut down in a hail of bullets.

They’re growing up.

And they will vote.

Generation dead will then have the floor.

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