THE HOUSE DIVIDED PRINCIPLE

Aquarian Weekly
10/9/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE HOUSE DIVIDED PRINCIPLE
Terrorist Politics 101 

 

Get used to this.

Unless there is another Watergate-sized disaster in the White House or the Republican Party fades into oblivion from lack of demographic or pseudo-religious support gun geeks than there will be a GOP-controlled House, most likely a barely-controlled Democratic tedSenate, and definitely a Democrat in the White House for most of our natural lives.

As each generation passes and the diversity of the national electorate expands, the realistic numbers, as they have the past decade-plus, will dramatically skew Democrat, but the entrenched districts across most of the South and Mid-West will also secure an impenetrable Republican legislative coalition.

Thus, the Republicans, slyly gerrymandered and considerably well-versed in local politics, will hang onto a small but crucial part of our tri-balanced system and continue to act as all nearly powerless groups tend to; defiant, petty and destructive. This is what transpired in the ludicrous debt ceiling debacle of 2011 and what is happening right now with the wholly nonsensical shutdown of the federal government.

This action is the very definition of terrorism; to enact your will in glaringly anti-establishment ways when civil ones are not available to you.

Before your head explodes, we can bag the term terrorist for, say, insurrectionist or radical. It’s your choice. Whatever the semantics, this jacking around with the running of government and paying the debts the nation has already rolled up to grandstand  ideology masked in empathy for the common good is a desperate ploy utilized by those rendered mute by the powers that be, which is normally viewed by the minority group as tyrannical.

It’s juicy stuff. I love it for its historical perspective and entertainment value; but, of course, there is no end game to any of it, just as we have learned with fundamentalist Islamic extremism in its violent third-world ways. Pissing on systems in which you are neutered is a classic response; wholly understandable, if not irrational.

Because it is irrational for one party of a two-party republic to ignore the tenets of law it has collectively sworn to legislate. As unpopular and perhaps asinine as the Affordable Care Act may end up being, it is a law; upheld by every available avenue of the United States Constitution.

You see, you draw up a bill, vote on it, and the president of the United States signs it into law. This is the fundamental structure of this American experiment.

Now, if that law is unjust, according to the rules of said Constitution, it has its day in court, such as the atrocity known as the defunct Defense of Marriage Act. And so the ACA had its legal dissection by the third branch of government, the Supreme Court, and, unlike DOMA, was upheld, cementing the very strength and integrity of the democratic system formulated 225 years ago.

The last vestige of eradicating the existence of this flawed and perhaps disastrous law was left to the gaining of access to the final branch of the government; the executive. Less than a year ago, this nation chose quite decisively re-elect the man for which the law is now pejoratively named, Obamacare, Barack Obama, thus electorally putting the final ribbon on the ACA.

Legislation, judicial review and election results solidified an acting law; and yet those powerless to stop it, continue to cause a ruckus, as if the U.S. Constitution was merely a suggestion. Not because they don’t like it or think it bad but because every possible means for them to have a voice has been squashed by decorum.

This action is the very definition of terrorism; to enact your will in glaringly anti-establishment ways when civil ones are not available to you.

Those who spend hours in the great halls of congress, this hollowed body currently approved by an historically abysmal 10 percent, shouting about the primacy and infallibility of said Constitution, are now shatting on it like bratty sore losers.

Those who simultaneously rail against systemic equality, and who cite the will of 57 percent of the populace that despises the law, but ignore 90 percent of the populace that begs for mandatory gun legislation and a realistic immigration bill, shout equality for everyone.

If the government had not been shut down and used as a blackmail scheme, then this would be fine political theater, but pushing this hissy fit into the governing realm for which they were elected it simply insurrection, radicalism and really, terrorism.

At one time or other in my life, I have supported a degree of each, so believe me it is plain as day and it is not going to stop anytime soon, if ever; because to throw systemic bombs into the works, to endlessly filibuster committees and obstruct votes is not the way of democratic law, but the way of the powerless to dismantle it.

And so the national demographics won’t change and the districts in the House races won’t budge.

Get used to this.

The media has, the stock market has, and even the members of the government that closed shop this week have.

This is the norm.

Remember, as Napoleon once mused, “It ain’t rape, if you sit back and enjoy it.”

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MO

Aquarian Weekly
10/2/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

MO

Straight as an arrow; stoic with a slightly visible breath – a fierce figure of calm in a gathering storm standing upon a raised patch of dirt 18 feet in diameter. The left arm mobent to the chest, the ball gripped in the mitt, the right hand dangling casually. A look in at 60 feet and six inches – razor sharp and icy like a jungle cat at prey – before a slight shift in weight brings the bare hand to meet the ball. Then in one fluid series of ballet-esque motions – a coiled slant forward, as if a bow fletching to strike, cranks the body fusion into a bullet arc, a millisecond prelude to the knee kick from the left leg and the arm whirling high above the head with the release of the stitched sphere to its destination.

A single pitch. The professionals call it a “Cutter”, a spinning, knifing diving thing that burns inside on lefty batters and disappears to righties. One pitch. Nineteen major league seasons. A record 652 saves (the final outs of a close game) over a record 952 appearances in Major League Baseball contests. An unprecedented stretch of excellence with a single, devastating pitch has ended.

The great Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees is retiring as quite simply the undisputed finest closer to ever ply the trade at any level anywhere, and without question the longest running level of near-perfection in the history of sport.

I first heard the name on July, 4 1995 while riding shotgun in a grey Isuzu pick-up truck with fellow Yankees fanatic, Peter Blasevick, a long-time friend and colleague, whose band DogVoices I decided against all reason to follow and turn its exploits and that of the New Jersey rock circuit into a book called Deep Tank Jersey. Rivera was dismantling the Chicago White Sox over eight innings, allowing one run while striking out 11. He would never be as affective a starter again.

The next time his name hit my radar was an 11-inning play-off game in 1995 between the Yankees and the Seattle Mariners, when a skinny reliever my dear friend Tony Misuraca called The Elfin while another, Bo Blaze frantically scribbled onto scraps of paper, “Please, Young Mariano, get this out!”, pitched three scoreless innings – the 13th, 14th and 15th to earn the win in a marathon at Yankee Stadium. The team would eventually lose the series in its final inning with Rivera in the bullpen helpless to stop it. But that would not happen too often over the next five years when the team that had not tasted a World Series in 18 years (an annual event the greatest franchise in professional sports history practically invented) would reach it five times, winning four, including three in a row.

Rivera would be the lynchpin of those title teams that could well be (considering the three-tier postseason set-up) the most dominant the game has ever seen.

By ’96, Rivera was a full-time bullpen pitcher, a set-up man for the then closer and mentor, John Wetteland. First year manager, Joe Torre, who had previously cobbled five winning seasons out of twelve in prior locations, placed the budding Rivera in the seventh and eighth innings and ostensibly turned a nine inning competition into six. It would earn the 26-year old right-hander a top-five finish in the Cy Young voting, almost unheard of at anytime in the game’s history and a telling quote from two-time champion manager of the Minnesota Twins, Tom Kelly, who famously said of Rivera, “He needs to pitch in a higher league, if there is one. Ban him from baseball. He should be illegal.”

Fortunately for the Yankees Rivera was not banned, and went on to shatter regular and post season records for closing out games from 1997 until this season. The most incredible of these statistics is his incomparable play-off performances, which for all intents and purposes Rivera turned into grand opera and classic art all at once. Over 96 appearances in his career (missing only 2008 – the only year the team did not make the post season – and last season due to injury) the man the sport affectionately called Mo would post an historically low .70 ERA with a record 42 saves and eight wins against one loss.

Robin Roberts of ABC News recently figured that less people have walked on the moon (12) than have scored a post season run off Mariano Rivera (11).

When the Yankees won, as they did in ’96, 1998 through 2000 and 2009, he was unhittable, and when he hiccupped in 2001 and 2004 for one inning each, the team went home. Only in the 2003 World Series loss to the Marlins did Rivera not play a prominent role in the team’s fortunes, but that was after his Herculean three inning scoreless performance in the second greatest baseball game I’ve ever seen, the 11-inning epic against the rival Boston Red Sox that ended on one swing of the bat.

This is the literal definition of most valuable player.

During the unfathomable 1998 season in which the Yankees posted a 125-50 record – the best single-season baseball team ever – I accepted a job hosting a sport show at WFAS in White Plains with my good friend and now Westchester County Executive, Rob Astorino. The following three years I spent a lot of time in the Yankees clubhouse, and there was never a time when Mariano Rivera wasn’t laughing or counseling or motivating his teammates, a completely opposite figure than the almost robotic assassin that took the mound time and again, cracking bats in half and whiffing confused hitters.

After the ’99 title, where he recorded the last out of the 20th century, a century the Yankees owned, I stood with him at his locker in the din of celebration all around and we spoke of his World Series MVP. Over a full ten minutes never once did he mention himself. In his then broken English, speckled as it was with contemplative uhhs and ahhs, he sounded like a Zen Buddhist, spiritually humble, defiant against the idea of the world being a random swirl of events. He was centered in all his genuine talk of God and family and teammates who allowed him to have the ball in the final minutes of glory.

In the press box that night, as the fly ball that ended the series nestled into the left-fielder’s glove, I jotted down a note in my scorecard to my Unlce Vinnie, who had seen Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio play and who had passed away when I was off on my honeymoon in mid-June.  I recalled one day the previous summer when he shook his head at the mention of Rivera. “That kid,” he whispered, “is an all-timer.”

In October of 2009, I took my wife, now a diehard Yankees fan, more than me, for sure, to Game 2 of the World Series, a game in which, as he had done countless times, Rivera came in to clean up a mess in the eight – two on, no one out in a two-run game – and closed the door.

This past August, I walked hand-in-hand with my five-year old daughter, Scarlet into the new Yankee Stadium; a favor my father granted me over 40 years before in the old one, and on her back was a number 42, Mo’s number, and the name of her favorite cat that we named after the great Rivera.

And so one of the leisure pleasures of my life, like a Joe Namath pass, a Woody Allen film, a Stones song, and a Hunter S. Thompson screed, the great Rivera standing on the mound about to throw, will no longer be.

Mo.

Thanks.

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VLADIMIR PUTIN: SATIRIST – James Campion

Aquarian Weekly
9/18/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

  

VLADIMIR PUTIN: SATIRIST

It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
– Vladimir Putin, Preisdent of Russia (NY Times 9/1113)valdimir-putin-shirtless

Ahhh…ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…ooohh, hee-hee- ha ha ha ha ha ha ha  ha  ha ha ha ha (choke) ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (snort) ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…uhhhhh…ha ha ha  ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…oooh, holy shit…ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…wait a minute, I… ha ha ha ha ha ha  ha…Whew.

Oh, man that’s precious. Fantastic. Classic shit.

I have to say, despite his complete disregard for human and civil rights, his lifelong dedication to a godless Soviet regime, and his phalanx of shirtless macho propaganda photos displaying him in an Alexander the Great kind of glow, this Vladimir Putin character is hilariously poignant whilst discussing the democratic ideals of other nations.

I stand in awe of his complete command of irony.

I have never written such blasphemy before, but this masterpiece he sent to press this week is more scathingly witty than the best of Lenny Bruce.

That’s right. I evoked Saint Lenny on this one.

Now, most likely, Putin wrote none of his op-ed piece in the NY Times; a quasi-Son of Sam plea for sanity for those not possessing the sensitive yearnings of a maniac. I’ve read Russian translations of his rhetorical skills, and it is dubious this yammering brute could formulate anything resembling a monosyllabic Rambo-esque soliloquy “Unless they’ve been me, unless they’ve been there” type of grunt, much less this masterpiece. But the quintessence of the man was there, inside every word.

For the best example of this kind of manic stream-of-consciousness, one has to randomly stab one’s finger to a passage in any James Joyce or even those wonderfully crafted zig-zags through fog-addled logic Charles Manson saves for his endless parade of parole hearings. You know; “Your discarded children in garbage cans” stuff. Timeless comedy.

In essence, Putin’s brilliant satirizing of his own shortcomings as a serviceable human specimen, never mind witless leader of a flat-lined series of disparate states wallowing in the fading mist of Russia’s sad century-long attempt to try and keep up with the massive money–machine military lunacy of the United States, rings many bells; hypocrisy, disillusionment, condescension, and petty exhibitionist solipsism.

Take it from me, this ain’t easy to do.

For the best example of this kind of manic stream-of-consciousness, one has to randomly stab one’s finger to a passage in any James Joyce or even those wonderfully crafted zig-zags through fog-addled logic Charles Manson saves for his endless parade of parole hearings. You know; “Your discarded children in garbage cans” stuff. Timeless comedy.

This 1,068-word fucker was a whiz-bang. I wish I had written it. Worthy of Mailer; not Norman Mailer, I mean this guy Nick Mailer who cleans my gutters ever spring.

My favorite part was all the peacemaking. I love how Putin tactically weaved his “Look, ma, I didn’t shit my pants for the first time in six months, can I have a loli?” prose into the thing. How he’s stepping in and getting rid of weapons he supplied to another Middle Eastern thug and taking care of the business he should have taken care of two years ago. The whole Syrian mess, for which he uses as a metaphor to eviscerate the U.S. as a power-mad global puppet master, is tantamount to dumping your incorrigible little brat on the neighbors and after he has all but burned down their house, you step in and say, “Sheesh, you people don’t know what you’re doing, I’ll take it from here. And, by the way, you’re welcome!”

It is beautifully done. I hope the envy I feel for this budding word master is seeping through my effusive praise.

I could only add that if Pussy Riot, the all-girl Russian punk band Putin has seen fit to jail for two years for singing lyrics like “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away
Рut Putin away, put Putin away – The head of the KGB, their chief saint,
Leads protesters to prison under escort – The phantom of liberty is in heaven
Gay-pride sent to Siberia in chains” could speak freely today from their prison cells, they would applaud the strong anti-imperialist rant their president sent to an American newspaper.

And if all the homosexuals Putin is deporting and jailing and signing laws to strip them of rights could read this moving testament to “all men being created equal in the eyes of God”, I am sure they would raise a defiant fist with him.

All hail, the scribe, Vladimir Putin; never has self-flagellation sounded so goddamn funny.

Bravo.

Now, if he truly thinks he’s a better jack ass than me, let’s see him pull it off weekly.

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BOONDOGGLE UPDATE – James Campion

Aquarian Weekly
9/11/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

 

BOONDOGGLE UPDATE
Or Our Merry Ride Into The Syrian Abyss Continues    

 In the event Syria imploded, for instance, or in the event there was a threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of al-Nusra or someone else and it was clearly in the interest of our allies and all of us, the British, the French and others, to prevent those weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of the worst elements, I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure our country.
– Secretary of State John Kerry before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 9/3/13kerry

When John Kerry let that little nugget slip, the entire tightly wound war yarn began to unravel. This neat little saving of the Syria people will once again turn into a long and painful ownership of all-things Syrian. This is how things go around here, and have gone for a long time. You dabble, you hang. You lend a little support and try and right the wrongs and soon you are the proud owner of chemical weapons in a country where nary a soul believes you are anything less than Satan.

But don’t look here. I’m already Satan. I oppose this Syrian maneuver.You know the drill…

In 2002 you weren’t American or didn’t love America or supported the terrorists if you spoke out against the coming Iraq War. This time you are anti-humanitarian or missing the point of international law or even side with massacring women and children.

In 2002, it was someone making up enriched uranium and slapping it into a state of the union address with no viable evidence and the president of the United States telling the press there were rocket launchers in Turkish hog stables. This time it is the Secretary of State sitting in front of the U.S. Senate and pitching hair follicles and unmarked dead bodies in the Syrian streets.

In 2002, it was slam-dunk intelligence, now it’s slam-dunk intelligence.

So I ask you; why should we believe it? Whom can we trust with vital information that will drag this country into another Middle East clusterfuck?

These people are so disoriented; they can’t even be honest about their motives. This is all about the horrors of chemical weapons? Who used napalm in Viet Nam and aided Saddam Hussein in gassing the Iranians during the 80s’?

These people are so disoriented; they can’t even be honest about their motives. This is all about the horrors of chemical weapons? Who used napalm in Viet Nam and aided Saddam Hussein in gassing the Iranians during the 80s’?

The Syrian regime?

Nope. The United States of America.

This is the plumber who just flooded your house asking to redo pipes.

Yes, no thank you.

And for the record, I would like to divest my argument from those who support my point like Senator Rand Paul, whose understanding of executive powers allowed by the constitution is wholly non-existent. Apparently sometime in his half century on this planet he was woefully unaware of Jackson’s genocide of Native Americans, Lincoln’s complete annihilation of the South, Truman’s murder of hundreds of thousands of Japanese, and Reagan’s nifty arms trade with Iran to support jungle rapists.

Congress was not consulted on any of these.

The president can do whatever the hell he wants. And we have seen the handiwork. We have to stop acting as if these things never happened; these Koreas and Viet Nams and Iraqs et al.

Please refer to Lyndon Johnson’s speeches about weakening the enemy’s resolve or Dick Nixon’s “peace with honor” shtick or Dick Cheney’s “we’ll be treated as liberators” nonsense.

Then we can discuss Syria.

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SYRIA – JUST SAY NO

Aquarian Weekly
9/4/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

 

SYRIA – JUST SAY NO

                                                 Keep on chooglin’.
                                                         – John Fogarty

This is a nation of war junkies. I’m a junky, you’re a junky. We cannot get enough. There isn’t a skirmish, civil war, revolution or upheaval that we can’t comment on, Syriainvestigate, monitor or butt into. It is amazing. Since World War II, arguably the only war this nation has involved itself in that remotely hinted at national security or moral imperative, we have stumble-bummed our way around this globe to horrific results.

Now here comes the nightmare of Syria.

In no way, shape or form should we bother to even nod at this atrocity. It is classic Eighth century madness perpetuated by 21st century weapons. It is a firestorm. It is a quagmire. Most pressingly, it has no direct correlation to the running or defense of this nation. It will end in disaster and huge debt; none of which we can afford after 12 years of this miserable shit.

So, of course, we’re seriously discussing diving right in.

It is important to point out that despite begging the first of our fabulous warring Bushes to not sink us in the Kuwait tomfoolery; this space supported a second move on Iraq in 2003. Never in my most cynical, hell-addled imagination did I think we could fuck that up so spectacularly. I lived through it and reported on it and I still find it hard to believe what an incredible stank fest that thing became, and this was facing a fractured military force which had surrendered to CNN camera man a decade earlier.

Believe me when I write this; Syria is another animal entirely. This is not a good idea now, and never was. Even the humanitarian-chemical weapon excuse our government is pitching is weak when compared to the consequences. We get directly involved in this shit storm and there is a whole bunch of crap to pay.

Believe me when I write this; Syria is another animal entirely. This is not a good idea now, and never was. Even the humanitarian-chemical weapon excuse our government is pitching is weak when compared to the consequences.

Let the Russians deal with this. Syria is their bitch, their oil supply. We handle ours, Saudi Arabia, the right way. We forgive their human rights atrocities, their terrorist activities and toss them tons of money. We bow to their leaders on the tarmac and sell them huge chunks of our major cities. This is how it is done. But Russia is a broke anachronistic lump of atrophied machismo, whose leader is a foul wretch comically under the delusion he still matters. It is sad, but it is their sadness, not ours. We have our own broken Middle East junk; and that’s on the $$$ docket for many generations.

So we need to go cold turkey, turn away from the pure, deadly stuff before it gets on top of us for good and we end up like a bloated Elvis, slumped off his toilet and face down in the shag rug.

Consider this an intervention.

Was Viet Nam not enough of a near-death ride?

Sometimes it’s a party and then it’s that one time – a lethal speedball with John Belushi in a steamy cabin at the Chateau Marmont.

Syria is our speedball.

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STOP & FRISK

Aquarian Weekly
8/21/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

STOP & FRISK
Crime, Freedom & The Urban Myth 

 It has taken awhile; 14 years to be exact, for NYC to be up in arms about this hilariously unconstitutional Stop & Frisk policy.

After 9/11/2001, of course, all bets were off. But unlike the outrageous vagaries of the deplorable Patriot Act and the wild nonsense perpetuated by the FBI and the NSA (which has suddenly gotten everyone from Right wingers to the leftiest Lefties in a tizzy) Stop & Frisk was implemented in 1999. This was a far different and more docile NYC than it had been ten years prior; before Rudolf Giuliani swept in with a Law & Order mandate not seen in generations. Back then, NYC was winding down its decades of decay, crime sprees and overall mayhem that seemed to attract a gritty, Wild West mentality that inevitably turned ugly and painful and was costing the greatest city in the world millions in lost business and lawsuits while overtaxing its police, fire department and EMT personnel.

frisk

While it seems unconscionable now, the city’s glorious comeback from the early Nineties and the booming national economy allowed the Big Blue Line to sneak in its Stop & Frisk, which is described in no uncertain terms by a 1999 Attorney General Report as “A person is temporarily detained on the street against his or her will for purposes of questioning.”

Everyone was giddy. The city was infused with new businesses and construction, Times Square was alive with touristy junk and loud noise and flash that did not emanate from gun shots or sirens or police and ambulance lights. It was high times, bub; and nobody gave a flying fart about who was being frisked or why.

In fact, there are many instances after 9/11 that the draconian Stop & Frisk policy came in handy; specifically halting the kind of the shenanigans unleashed on Boston during its annual marathon a few months back. Hell, after the tanks left the Lincoln Tunnel entrance and the helicopters quit spinning around the Statue of Liberty, a few undesirables being patted down under suspicion seemed like child’s play around here.

And, truth be told, as many of us who actually spent time in NYC in the Eighties and early Nineties knew well; there was not a whole lot of law being adhered to nor any semblance of order. For instance, in the period between 1987 and 1995, yours truly suffered several stints of victimhood; car theft, assaults, hit and runs from gypsy cabs, stolen radios, clothes and other items from several cars and friends’ cars; a harried chase by obvious maniacs in several cars at ludicrous speeds through dozens of red lights over curbs and up the island of Manhattan all the way to a police station in Croton panting like refugees. My father was mugged in broad daylight upon returning to the city after working there for thirty years. The guy was here twenty minutes before being jacked by two thugs outside his hotel.

Washington Square Park; where in the late 80s’ I could get crack, smack, six teenage hookers and a machine gun in a three minute stroll from 5th Avenue to Thompson Street. Now that’s quite the odyssey from anarchy to tyranny.

Not to be undone, the abandon displayed by these assailants had fueled my already unhinged stylings, allowing me to best take full advantage of this palate of lunacy. It was all made manifest in quite an unruly spree of moving violations across all five boroughs that today are so abjectly embarrassing to recall that only a nod to the statute of limitations would permit me to even broach them.

Suffice to say, I was so horrifying reckless during these times that I considered (but never acquiesced) to just copping to the damn things and turning myself in. Once, no maybe twice, I nearly slammed a careening vehicle into a police car whilst driving in a manner better suited to fiction; never once seeing so much as a ticket. One time the policeman simply rolled down his window and asked if I was “fucking nuts’, to which I had to admit I certainly was – certifiably so. It is the only explanation; that and the fact I routinely witnessed vehicular crimes the likes of which could fill 60 of these columns.

So, let’s face it; Stop & Frisk seemed like the normal evolution for pulling the entire madness out of the quagmire. I might have even gotten in on the fun for kicks. Shit, authority in those days meant whoever was around. Cops would show up only if something was on fire, mostly if it was not the elderly or a ghetto kid. I had an entire staff of Coney Island police laugh in my face when I spastically burst in and announced that my car was stolen. It was the 16th such auto theft that morning.

Now, however, it seems like this stroll down Marshall Law lane has gone awry. Shocker. How could unchecked systemic aggression not work?

It seems the percentage of minorities compared to whites being routinely stopped for no reason has alarmed many, even those running for mayor – all adopting an anti Stop & Frisk stance. This kind of shameless political pandering would seem excessive if not for the lockdown policies of the current mayoral administration stretching to the absolute ridiculous, whether it being the size of one’s soda or the amount of salt being administered at greasy spoons. Not to mention I can no longer smoke a cigar in Washington Square Park.

Washington Square Park; where in the late 80s’ I could get crack, smack, six teenage hookers and a machine gun in a three minute stroll from 5th Avenue to Thompson Street. Now that’s quite the odyssey from anarchy to tyranny.

But this is NYC, and not the South, for which this space has given it good. And since I was born and raised here and not down where the stupid and crazy are in charge, I can only reiterate that this is wrong. Stopping someone for no good reason, whatever the race, in this city of cities is even more deplorable than the sillies in Arizona who order the harassing of citizens until they make with identification, or Florida, where it is not only legal to murder anyone for anything, it is encouraged.

But, listen, we all know the minute this thing is rightfully expunged from the books, the crime rate will go up or some shithead from Staten Island is going to blow up the Chrysler Building and everyone will want it back.

Don’t look at me. I’ve calmed down considerably. It’s been at least eight months since I backed up on 12th street for three blocks in stop dead traffic to get back to through traffic on Washington Street.

I’m a changed man, and so is my city.

  

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MR. RODRIGUEZ VS MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Aquarian Weekly
8/7/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

MR. RODRIGUEZ VS MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL   

Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez is a Major League Baseball Player. He also happens to be an America citizen. Mr. Rodriguez’s treatment by MLB makes it hard to swallow that his employers are fully aware of this. It appears, in fact, that MLB considers one of its signature employees a faulty product it’s recalling. And for that this space is openly imploring Mr. Rodriguez to take immediate legal action against MLB, so it can explain its motivation for threatening to deny his right to work based on circumstantial evidence that he broke any of the collectively bargained rules agreed to by the league and its Players Association.Bud Selig

And, as a result of this proposed legal action, this space hopes once and for all that MLB’s ridiculous exemption from the United States’ anti-trust laws be ceased, so its $9 billion enterprise can finally be litigated like every other business in this so-called democracy.

The current MLB “investigation” resembles more a witch hunt against one particular player than satisfies the grounds in which that player can be harassed with the threat of suspension. Such a suspension, whether it is the reported remainder of this season and all of next, never mind this insane nonsense of banning him for life, will cause adverse career ramifications for Mr. Rodriguez.

This is not some mere penalty handed out by a game. This is a man’s life and livelihood at stake and if it is to be impinged in any way, then there needs to be just cause. There is not.

In order for MLB to suspend a first-time offender for a maximum of 50 games, that player must fail a random blood test. MLB does not have a positive blood sample from Mr. Rodriguez. What MLB has is the testimony of a drug dealer and a vague list of clientele from a Miami biogenesis lab, which the league sued this past March for selling illegal substances to a handful of its players. In less specious terms, under the agreement MLB has with the Player’s Association, it has no grounds to perpetuate these actions against Rodriguez.

Yet the man the sports types call A-Rod, a cute nickname which reduces him to a figure from a children’s game and not an American citizen that provides him protection under the Bill of Rights, is currently the subject a dubious investigation for being linked with the lab in question. I merely use the word “dubious” to point out that while there has been a lot of unsubstantiated jabber about a preponderance of evidence piled up against Mr. Rodriguez, much of it has yet to surface, and the league, which is oh-for the courts in its long and sordid history, fails to engender any benefit of the doubt.

Moreover, this is a league well versed in the practice of leaking harmful information on an employee it wishes to besmirch preceding a suspension. In fact, MLB has done this once before to the very same Mr. Rodriguez. This ham-fisted but effective burying of a player’s reputation queers public opinion and riles the sports writing world (where nearly every speculation has something of a 17 percent success rate), making the subject guilty in the court of public opinion before any actual evidence is revealed.

In 2003, MLB conducted its “anonymous” testing of hundreds of players for steroid use; a test the league promised in collective bargaining with the Player’s Association to keep sealed. For reasons only known to MLB, in 2009, Mr. Rodriguez’s name happened to wind up in the notebook of a reporter working for the most prominent sports magazine in the nation. When Sports Illustrated got a hold of this illegally leaked information, Mr. Rodriguez had to eat shit, call press conferences, and deal with the fallout.

This is a league well versed in the practice of leaking harmful information on an employee it wishes to besmirch preceding a suspension. In fact, MLB has done this once before to the very same Mr. Rodriguez. This ham-fisted but effective burying of a player’s reputation queers public opinion and riles the sports writing world (where nearly every speculation has something of a 17 percent success rate), making the subject guilty in the court of public opinion before any actual evidence is revealed.

This leaking method was especially efficient on A-Rod, who, while he could not be suspended since no rules had yet to be put in place, was branded as an actual offender by proxy.

There was a time not long ago when Alex Rodriguez was arguably the best player in the majors and well on his way to perhaps being the best to ever play his position. He was an exceptional shortstop; a defensive master, and a high-average, run-producing machine with immense power. He plied his trade in Seattle, Washington and then Arlington, Texas, where he became a star. In 2003, he morphed into something of a celebrity icon when he was traded to the NY Yankees, the most famous professional franchise in the biggest city on planet earth. It was here where he became notorious for appearing with the TMZ set.

This put an already intolerable celebrity big ticket athlete on the shit list of a majority of the Americans, who, while worshiping the rich and famous, and harboring a love-hate fascination with New York City, tend to hold same with deep seated jealousies. Mr. Rodriguez was our specially packaged asshole; much of it, truth be told, due to his Herculean self-inflicted narcissistic idiocy. He’s a dumb jock; a muscle-headed pretty boy dickhead; none of which is even remotely illegal or pertinent to his first run-in with MLB, which was merely a media circus since before 2005 it was not even a rules violation for players to use PEDs.

In fact, one could argue that MLB not only ignored the use of PEDs, but in many ways, encouraged it, as did the sanctimonious band of feckless sports writers who made good livings sending sonnets to press about Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa’s famed home run chase in 1998; when both were most likely jacked to the tits on every steroid known to modern man.

MLB commissioner, Bug Selig, forever tarnished with presiding over the longest and most wildly uncontrolled abuse of PEDs in modern sport, subsequently reaping billions in revenues for MLB and its owners, finds he can no longer handle bad steroid press on his watch. Back when the homers produced by PEDs were pulling his sagging sport out of distant third place behind the NFL and the NBA, neither Selig nor his giddy owners could ever have dreamed the level of shock and awe produced from human parade floats making a mockery of baseball’s sanctified record books. This turned Daddy Warbucks into Captain Morality, and so now Selig wants desperately for there to be a symbol of steroids that has nothing to do with him.

Bud Selig simply needs a scapegoat, since Barry Bonds beat his system and then Roger Clemens went to congress and pissed on him. Whether they or Mr. Rodriguez are actually guilty of PED use is not at issue. They probably were and he probably is, but there are rules in place to cease this behavior, and none of these applies to his case.

So it’s Mr. Rodriguez’s turn to be the scapegoat and he should not take it. He needs to sue baseball for threatening to deny him the right to earn a living. Most of all, Mr. Rodriguez needs to put before a court the atavistic anti-trust exception that MLB has enjoyed for a century of its outside-the-law practices. He must break the backs of these tyrants and force baseball out of the shadows of American business practices.

Play ball!

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EQYPT: DEMOCRACY, RELIGION & THE GREAT DIVIDE

Aquarian Weekly
7/24/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

EQYPT: DEMOCRACY, RELIGION & THE GREAT DIVIDE

Author’s Note: It is imperative that one comes to the following with the jaundiced view shared by this space that in no way do we think there was, is and will be anything truly binding to this fourth or fifth Arab Spring in Egypt. Mostly, these people are nuts. This is no way to run a democracy; incessant revolution is bad for commerce, tourism and general stability, and if history has taught us anything – and that concept only works if you know anything about past events that almost always effect current ones – then Egypt may well go the way of 19th century France or 20th century Russia. It was difficult for anyone to fathom the volatile nature of those places and the volumes of gibberish it produced from people who lived through it, much less those with the clarity of hindsight. Let’s just say if the entire place isn’t burned to the ground by late-October it is a victory for the human race. Now carry on…egypt

The current chaos that is Egypt provides juicy insight into how a 21st century Middle East democracy can run; either as an extension of the fourth century tribal councils that dominate a fair portion of the region or some semblance of a secular law-based structure which might serve as example and catalyst to the world stage.

Granted, the former has had a tremendous head start. Tribal councils are pretty straightforward and have little room for messy things like debate, dissent, diversity, human rights or, god-forbid, voting. Hard-line is easy; it’s the way things have been done and the guys in charge use mystical reams of holy rhetoric and violence to keep the occasional “How about we try…” set in line. Democracy, with its handing over major decisions on ideological concerns to the greater populace, is dangerous for any culture; even those not mired in the whole pre-enlightenment milieu.

Unlike Israel, which had partial democracy heaped upon it by world war, genocide, colonialism and the inevitable march of progress, Egypt has exhibited an insularly deliberate crawl into the values of individual freedoms. The Egyptian model is unique. It comes – with all due respect to the piles of money it receives to make nice-nice with super powers – from an internal will to balance its religious traditions with its yearning to grant a voice to all its people.

However, unlike Israel, the echo of puppet regimes and violent upheavals surrounding its boarders has given the nation pause. There has never been a sense that Islam is without its influence in Egypt. On the contrary, it lives and breathes within its tenuous democratic construct in a far more powerful way than the nationalistic fervor of the Zionists. One does not get the sense that the bankrolled democracy of Israel is flexible in the way it perceives its sovereignty or its separation from its enemies, which is every bordering state.

Egypt is bipolar; even in its geographical location – the cultural origins of Africa mired in Middle Eastern turmoil; loaded with oil and little else, save for a tourism trade slowly eroded over the years with a growing western sense that its potential dangers outweigh its seductive landscape.

Its generational gap is growing, and with it an embrace of the type of technologies which obliterate superstitions that oppress women, art, press, and general free expression. As in all nations teetering on social revolution, the world’s alternative visions wash over Egyptian youth with reckless abandon. And unlike the outrage aimed at western ideals and culture prevalent in the 1979 Iranian revolution, Egyptian youth do not appear to be sated by returning to the purity of the past.

This begs the question; can Egypt truly be a model for the rest of the region’s view of democracy; a far more organic and sane template than the war-ravaged, westernized abomination in Iraq formulated by aging, white, Anglo-Saxon Cold War relics at the barrel of a gun.

The Egyptian people, made up of some Christians, but mostly Muslims, and within the Islamic faith, the Salifis, Sunnis,Sufis, have not yet found a common ground democratically. The question for them, as it was in the first Arab Spring over two and a half years ago, is to choose a religious-based society run by a religious-based government or one democratic secular state that respects all sects and faiths and moves the evolution of free thinking forward. This was, allegedly, the nation’s aim when booting its previously democratically elected president, Hosni Mubarak in favor of a new order, dissolved parliament and restructured constitution.

However, after a military “handling” of a special election, the Salifi-led Muslim Brotherhood movement took the reins of the fractured parliament with less than 50 percent of the national will and then propped its new president (receiving barely 51 percent of the vote), Mohammad Mosi into power. Mosi and the Muslim Brotherhood, wholly unpopular among the rankled 49 percent from day-one, began to run things as if they had been handed one of those tribal council type deals and this was not going to fly with a country still stinging from the street protests that captured the world enough for the military to act in ousting Mubatrak in the first place.

Egypt is suddenly faced with a singular religious dilemma in its burgeoning if not slightly off-kilter democracy. The Mosi/Muslim Brotherhood “experiment” was a bust. The near-majority of the nation now roundly rejects the running of things by order of the Qu’ran, including state-sanctioned crimes against non-Salifi citizens. But what is the choice? To fully separate a deeply-held religious base from the public sector; respect its moral and traditional tenets, but keep it where it belongs in mosques and homes and not in the building of roads, delivering of mail or especially the law of the land. Or give up.

This begs the question; can Egypt truly be a model for the rest of the region’s view of democracy; a far more organic and sane template than the war-ravaged, westernized abomination in Iraq formulated by aging, white, Anglo-Saxon Cold War relics at the barrel of a gun.

It is, unfortunately, the barrel of the gun that rules the near complete anarchy that has exploded on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and many cities across Egypt now that the military has once again taken charge; failing to give into semantics that the country has suffered its second military coup in two years and faces sanctions from its benefactors, including a scrambling U.S. that appears it will continue to send its $1.6 billion of “aid” to its tenuous ally if an exhumed mummy ran the place.

Although half the country losing an election, throwing a hissy fit and forcing the army to take over the government does not a democracy make, this could well be Egypt’s chance to stand up for the human condition in a region ravaged by civil rights atrocities and religious madness. It is a chance, as rare as they come, to shift the course of history and find a legitimate, internal, democratic form of government which represents the whole of the people against the myths of religion and tyrannical traditions that conspire to strangle liberty.

Author Postscript: Not likely.

Do yourself no favors and “like” this idiot at www.facebook.com/jc.author

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GRAPEFRUIT CIRCUS BLOWS THROUGH TOWN

Aquarian Weekly
7/17/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

GRAPEFRUIT CIRCUS BLOWS THROUGH TOWN
Florida’s Reality Show Kangaroo Trial Achieves Maximum Effect

A spectacular bevy of ridiculous bullshit has gone down in the now-approaching seventeen years I’ve penned this column. I have been forced to write about more than a few of them – the last one being the whole Donald Trump pay-attention-to-me-I-have-money-and-a-tv-show-otherwise-I’m-the-guy-you-try-and-avoid-while-getting-on-the-subway-screaming-that-aliens-have-lodged-a-brain-washing-device-in-my-rectum media blitz. Normally I think everything is entertaining; mostly kids falling down wells or dogs dragging seniors from burning buildings or wells, but rarely is any of it news. But this whole George Zimmerman trial has to be news, right? It is on television all the time; and I mean ALL the time. It’s like the Olympics without all the talented shut-ins on steroids.zim_2

So, let’s see, we’ve already covered the outcome of this on the 28th of March, 2012 in a rather spiteful piece called LOOK AWAY DIXIE LAND on how embarrassingly terrible the South always seems to be when things like this “happen” – what with all their silly laws that allow people to shoot other people for “feeling threatened”. By the way, that is the law; this Stand Your Ground thing, which is so off the charts goofy it deserves to unearth the level of crap we have endured now for well over a year and in our faces for the past weeks.

Way back when, before Al Sharpton got involved, this was not self-defense or race profiling or gun control or even, (gulp!) politics, whether Floridian or national. This was and still is about a law that allows a man to kill another man at his discretion.

Outside of the poor souls that live in Florida, no one should give a shit about their laws anyway, unless they want to challenge that law as unconstitutional, which it may or may not be. Let’s face it; killing people on a whim was very popular in 1788, when the thing was ratified. Dueling was all the rage then, until it reached national status – kind of like a Zimmerman Trail circa 1804, sans cameras, lawyer-experts or HLN. When Aaron Burr, the sitting vice president, shot to death a founding father of the nation and a recent secretary of state because Aaron Burr was pissed about being framed as “voluptuary in the extreme”, only then did the whole dueling craze pass into oblivion.

For the record, the word “voluptuary” (the kind of accusation people understood as reasonable cause to be blasted in the chest with steaming hot lead at twenty paces) was a nineteenth century slight intimating that a person of repute was far more interested in money and sex than high-minded human endeavors, which is now considered high compliment among rappers, professional athletes, bishops and 83 percent of congress.

But, I digress, as is my wont here when procrastination beats actually putting into words that George Zimmerman was completely within his rights under Florida law to shoot a kid – a kid, mind you, armed with nothing but Skittles – in the heart at point-blank range, simply because he was getting his ass kicked.

And that’s the nut for me; Zimmerman is innocent of whatever happened in Florida, where killing is a way of life, like orange picking and dying in a retirement home, but he’s still a pussy.

Jesus, man. Do you have any idea how many ass-kickings I’ve received? And many of them have not been solicited; the way Zimmerman apparently felt the need to do. I hardly had to be chased down to get my beatings. In fact, it was mostly the other way around. And for the record, if I were being chased by that asshole, you can bet if he caught up to me, I would not be hanging around asking what it is he might think in his muddled I-need-to-be-important psyche. I might go at him like a wild banshee and sort out the consequences later.

For poor, young, black Trayvon Martin, the consequence was death.

In the end, whether South or North, this is the model of how we handle things in this country – a little show piece and then back to the business of bullshit. It is a rare delight, however, to have our steaming pile paraded the way it has in this “trail” hour after miserable hour and day after miserable day to help us fully understand how truly brutal the human condition can be.

And, by the way, I am not saying race was not a factor. Of course it was. Everyone admits the crimes in the area Zimmerman was patrolling were being committed by mostly, if not all, people of color. And by “patrolling”, I mean running around acting like he was some kind of de facto authority with his CB-radio and his gun and his little pick-up truck, trying to act like Chuck Norris or some other middle-aged goofy white guy the television culture has elevated to the level of folk hero.

The black kid running with the hoodie and the macho talk about “creepy looking crackers” and Zimmerman, in hot pursuit, intoning about “fucking punks always getting away with it” all plays a part. But the most pertinent is a man and a boy (male testosterone on heavy display) doing everything in their power to provoke, instigate, grandstand and put themselves into a position where violence ensued.

It’s pretty much a stark metaphor for human civilization and not so much a far cry from Burr’s fatal shooting of Hamilton all those years ago, and everything in between.

And here is where we get to why any of this got to trial in the first place, and why it has been rolled out like a reality show. The state of Florida wants this to go down with some kind of ancillary nod towards decorum. You can’t have all these shootings go on without someone getting their dander up. Throw them this dog & pony show for a few weeks, allow some cameras and commentators in, and then when the guy walks, and there are few riots here or there – one can only hope – then it’s back to business and nothing changes.

This is how it goes in the South: “Lynchings? Oh, they’re horrible, but a legal and perfectly honorable way to make sure black men don’t, you know, look in the general direction of a white woman or dare to take a sip out of a fountain marked for whites, or, apparently, walk down the street with some candy and soda. Sorry, it’s the law, have a nice day.”

In the end, whether South or North, this is the model of how we handle things in this country – a little show piece and then back to the business of bullshit. It is a rare delight, however, to have our steaming pile paraded the way it has in this “trail” hour after miserable hour and day after miserable day to help us fully understand how truly brutal the human condition can be.

What should happen is someone should sue the state and drag Jeb Bush – goddamn it if only George Senior had kept the thing in his pants, we might have avoided some serious crap these past decades – into court and pound him incessantly for signing such an unconscionably asinine bill into law.

The villain here is Florida and Bush and whatever local yahoos cobbled these suggestions of free-wheel killing on a “feel” to “feel” basis.

George Zimmerman is not the problem. He is the proverbial pimple on the monstrous ass of this lunacy. He is a lesion on the rotting husk of a dying man. He is mucus. He is pus. He’s our chubby symptom.

Oh, and as a postscript to this madness; over 70 people were murdered by gun violence over the holiday weekend in Chicago, Illinois.

When is Al Sharpton heading up there?

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DOWN GOES DOMA

 

Aquarian Weekly
7/3/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

DOWN GOES DOMA
Along with Prop 8, Supreme Court Ends Latest Era of Legal Discrimination

Although Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

– Justice Anthony Kennedy

Unconstitutional.a

Of course.

The Defense of Marriage Act, a nifty piece of legislation which disallowed a segment of taxpaying citizens access to the Bill of Rights, is now dead and buried. DOMA, as it is most popularly referred to, was another in a long line of “laws” heaped upon the public by the government to strip us of our civil liberties, as in the now debated Patriot Act. Only this one insidiously singled out a segment of society, denying them access to systems put in place to protect spouses and their property and dignity.
Justice Kennedy expounds; “DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency. Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person. And DOMA contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities.”

Amen.

The fact that DOMA was ever formed, voted on, passed, and signed into law is an abject embarrassment for the length of breath of this republic and it is lucky for this country and the people in it that 84 year-old Edith Windsor stood up and said, “What?” Motivated by over 300 grand of estate tax she wouldn’t have had to pay if not for these goofy laws saying she couldn’t marry a woman named Thea she’d lived with for four decades simply because he was not a man named Theo, Windsor became this era’s Oliver Brown.

Upon announcing incredulity with silly laws, Brown v. The Board of Education put a spike through serration, which is a nice word for saying “state sanctioned discrimination” or “legal bigotry”. People like Windsor and Brown make all of our hollow talk about Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness and haughty spouting about the U.S. Constitution being our Bible, which is all correct, can now rest easier that a little more of  us are allowed inside the freedom boat, protected against social tyranny.

The great irony of an abomination called the Defense of Marriage Act is that it was designed and presided over by a Speaker of the House and signed into law by a president, both of whom had routinely made sport of cheating on their spouses (Newt Gingrich, twice divorced, and Bill Clinton’s well-documented misogyny). Although it never quite seriously explained why two of the most powerful men in America would not be more of a “threat” to the sanctity of marriage than an everyday citizen who deserved the same chance to shit all over their spouses. The answer was always that people who make an open mockery of this institution are less a stain on marriage than two people of the same sex.

And that’s the rub.

It is selective moralizing.

We have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights to safeguard against such nonsense.
And that’s apparently what opponents of this obvious and way overdue Supreme Court ruling don’t get. They get all uppity and defensive saying, “Oh, if we defend traditional marriage we are called bigots!” Well, yes, if you are only applying this glorious worship of an institution to one segment of society then it is the very definition of discrimination, and this is only practiced by bigots. Hence, you are a bigot.

Of course, they muddy the whole thing by calling themselves traditionalists, which is old hat for people trying to deny rights they enjoy to other citizens, whether it’s the Irish owning land or Jews allowed access to certain institutions or women voting or African Americans eating at a diner below the Mason Dixon line. “This is the way it’s always been done,” they say. “Why are you going around changing stuff?” The other day talk show host Rush Limbaugh couched his derision on the ruling by actually saying out loud that “things are going along just fine and then the gays say, ‘Hey we want to be able to marry’ and then its madness.”

Yes, can you imagine waking up one day and realizing your height keeps you from getting a driver’s license? And when you say, “Wait a minute!” Some sanctimonious nitwit says, “Take it easy, buddy, things are fine the way they are. This is how we do it and have always done it.” I bet you would take it like a good citizen and realize that tradition is far more important and you’d run out and get yourself a bike.

Sure.

I guess things were going along just fine until some moron invented a radio, huh?

And I know she’s silly and cannot really be taken seriously outside the geeks at CPAC, but the other day when Michelle Bachmann, who would not have been able to publicly voice political opinion, never mind cast a ballot, less than a century ago, stands on the capitol steps as a senator and derides this law on the basis of Biblical law, which openly frames women as nothing more than livestock, is beyond absurdity. Not sure she realizes how much of a metaphor for this ruling she’s truly become. Hell, if Moses or George Washington showed up to her little speech yesterday, if they could ever stop choking, both men would have wondered what bizarre joke was playing out by having a woman legislator speaking to a crowd of people she was not serving soup to.

Look, traditionalists and Bible thumpers won’t get it. This is their thing. And this is why we have a Bill of Rights and a Constitution, to protect us from those who don’t get it, which brings us to the second Supreme Court ruling, California’s goofy Proposition 8, an excellent example of why leaving civil liberties up to the vagaries of state laws is also thorny. Having people vote whether, say, people with blonde hair can have kids is dangerous. And lawmakers? Well, we’ve already seen how that goes on the federal level. Right now in Texas the state legislature and its governor are trying to make it legal to shoot women on the way to get a pap smear. Something like that. I can’t tell.
Most laws in Texas end up allowing the shooting of someone or something. It’s hard to fathom what those preciously colorful idiots are doing down there. It’s like “the weird kid in the basement” state.

And so, regardless of all the other junk and flaws and spectacular hypocrisy that we’re straddled with around here on a daily basis year after fuck-awful year, we have a very proud day in the American experiment; the fantastic Don’t Tread on Me, “Give me liberty or give me death” and “All men are created equal” part that seems to perfectly rear its beautiful head when some generation or segment of our society decides what another can or can’t do.

This is going to be one hell of an Independence Day at The Desk.

Yee-Ha!

 

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