HENRY ALFRED KISSINGER – 1923 – 2023

Aquarian Weekly
12/6/23
 
Reality Check
 
 
HENRY ALFRED KISSINGER – 1923 – 2023

Concepts like Hell never resonate with me. Afterlife is a gamble at best. Maybe there is reward or retribution, maybe there is nothing. In the case of Henry Kissinger, who died this week at the remarkable age of 100, I sincerely hope there is an infinite anguish awaiting his blackened soul and that in this neo-Christian netherworld his torture reaches the levels of misery and death he spent a lifetime inflicting on the latter stages of the American Century. His like is a rare plague that exists merely to remind us of our failed and damaged humanity. He was a monster and a murderer, an epic liar whose contemptable resume rids us of all notions of a merciful god or one that might ignore his most heinous crimes, as we did continuously until he was expunged from this planet.

Kissinger orchestrated some of the most unconscionably vicious assaults on innocent life to promote his ego and get him laid. His celebrity and influence were unquestioned for his time – every president treated him as an honored stateman – and he used it to inflict wounds on the body politic and slaughter millions worldwide. He helped set in motion a myriad of war crimes in his wake that slithered through the halls of governance and used his heinous methods to wreak global havoc that stood in the place of something called “foreign policy.” His legacy is carnage for photo ops and hatred disguised as American Exceptionalism. He was scum and a villain of the highest order.

Before he ever came to power, eventually given the reigns of Secretary of State by the wretched and disgraced Richard M. Nixon, in 1968, the bloodiest year of the greatest of American crimes, the Viet Nam War that ended up taking nearly 60,000 American lives and over 1.3 million for no reason, he orchestrated the skuttling of possible peace talks that would have ended the conflict and essentially Nixon’s chance at the presidency. Accepting, as I do, the immoral senseless Cold War ideology that was later exposed by the publishing of the Pentagon Papers, the Nixon/Kissinger cabal not only conned the electorate into a “Secret plan to end the war” but coordinated its horrific escalation over the next eight years. Ironically, this mayhem led to the downfall of the Nixon presidency due to Kissinger’s pushing for “a White House Plumbers” unit to destroy the reputation of Daniel Ellsberg – the Pentagon Papers leaker – leading to a series of federal crimes called Watergate, which stood as the worst attack on the U.S. Constitution until the Donald Trump coup to overthrow an American election in late 2020 into 21.

Watergate was a black-ops plan cooked up by Kissinger who played Nixon’s inept paranoia like a Stradivarius and made a mockery of the law, while simultaneously leaking anti-Nixon rhetoric to his friends at the New York Times and Washington Post, further heightening his boss’s perchance for unchecked vengeance. This, of course, pales in comparison to his “Madman Theory” that turned the Viet Nam War into America’s genocide of the neutral countries of Laos and Cambodia, which endured years of carpet-bombing, as Kissinger played a public relations game with human life that had him standing as a “hero” of the failed war when the finality of our escape was in its death throes in 1974. To this day, Loas is still the most bombed nation in civilization. This cause célèbre scheme of creating destruction to later come in and claim “peacemaker” served Kissinger well, as in 1971 when he surreptitiously worked with Nixon and the CIA to squash the move to independence for Bangladesh, installing tyrants to rape, pillage and kill over 300.000 of its citizens, so Nixon could open U.S. relations with China. But Kissinger was only warming up.

His most lasting and puzzling maneuver was the placing of the genocidal maniac Augusto Pinochet as de facto head of state soon after Chileans elected the democratic socialist Salvador Allende president. Flipping “free and fair elections” was normal duty for the Central Intelligence Agency after WWII, but under Kissinger’s machinations became ambitious intervention routines that destroyed nations. According to the Commission of Truth and Reconciliation (Rettig Commission) and the National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture (Valech Commission), the number of direct victims of human rights violations in Chile under Pinochet from 1973 to 1990 accounted for around 30,000 people: 27,255 tortured and 2,279 executed. In addition, some 200,000 people suffered exile and an unknown number went through clandestine centers and illegal detention.

He flaunted his evil and we celebrated it.

Throughout most of the 1970s under Nixon and his successor Gerald Ford, Kissinger oversaw the implementation of a half-dozen “Dirty Wars” from Pakistan to Argentina, overthrowing governments and installing fascist murderers backed with U.S. intelligence and money. This was a culture of muscle tactics that came to define American policies that claimed millions of innocent lives under the guise of anti-communist munitions that rivaled the systemic massacres of Hitler and Stalin before him. This is not hyperbole, it is history.

In a piece I wrote in this space during the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, I recalled a morning in 1997 when I awoke from a long night of debauchery in Boston to Kissinger prophesizing the endless wars to come on CNN and quoted it: “What troubles me the most about the United States current standing in the Middle East in regards to Arab countries is the delicate balance between our alliance with Israel set against the tenuous financial dealings with OPEC. And right now no one knows how the fallout of the Gulf War will affect those invisible, radical factions who fall through the cracks of that balance.”

Kissinger echoed the lies that led us into pointless and inept wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, concurrently outing our failures (much of it espoused by him for decades) and destabilizing the region further; leading to whatever the hell is going on there now.

This is only a snippet of Henry Kissinger’s perversions of the American ideal and the desecration of the rule of law, as he roamed the halls of power and the influential elite – frequenting Hollywood parties to extravagant celebrity circle-jerks. He flaunted his evil and we celebrated it. Everyone in his presence was stained by his legacy, which, sadly, is ours. Coming to grips with the evils of men like Henry Kissinger to cleanse our own national soul may not be enough to do so, but it is a start.

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A REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS LIFELINE TO REPUBLICANS

Aquarian Weekly
11/15/23
 
Reality Check
 
 
A REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS LIFELINE TO REPUBLICANS
Roevember Streak Will Continue Unless the Following Happens

Another election evening and another trouncing of Republicans under the weight of the disastrously unconstitutional Supreme Court Dobbs ruling. What is now being dubbed the annual celebration of Roevember by gleeful pro-choice advocates continues the undefeated streak at the ballot box for reproductive rights in red, blue, and purple states, adding Virginia (Dems flipping the state legislature), Ohio (overwhelmingly voting to codify reproductive rights), Pennsylvania (securing a liberal state supreme court) and Kentucky (re-electing a Democrat for governor in an ultra-red state) to the list. Since Dobbs, Democrats have outperformed polls and previous election cycles by anywhere from six to 11 points despite low approval ratings for the Democratic president under the weight of several controversial issues from immigration to crime. Stripping the reproductive rights of 51.1percent of the electorate is killing the Republican Party. And doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon, as prominent legislators, senators and media cronies continue to ignore this trend.

Unless…

Please consider this a Public Service to Save the Republican Party from Itself – Or Else. It comes from the heart. Zero smarm. I promise. Okay, maybe some smarm and victory dancing on my part, but I would heed the following if I were Republicans, although I doubt, they will. They’re running a criminal for president and just elected a religious zealot for speaker of the House. But for the good of our democracy, the bleeding must stop. And I have a solution for both ends of the abortion issue and for pro-choice and pro-lifers to come together and stop the madness.

Consider it a treaty. All wars with this level of one-sided crushing begs a treaty. The Republican Party needs to come to the table or risk extinction. Democrats should recognize their incredible victory and humbly offer the defeated party a lifeline. For two reasons: a healthy democracy needs political balance, as long as that balance does not include fascism – as the current GOP supports – and it is more important that women have their rights back than to simply use Dobbs as a handy cudgel to cravenly win elections. As stated in this space, my goals to destroy the current Republican Party is not to unilaterally elect Democrats, it is to free enslaved women from this heinous Dobbs mistake and the large swath of Republican governors and Republican state legislators who have imposed draconian laws in fourteen states. The quicker we get there, the better it is for all.

First, before I submit my offer, it must be pointed out that it should have never gotten to this, and it is all the Republican Party’s fault. It used this private sovereignty issue to gin up religious-right support to win elections since the 1980s. Their president, Donald Trump, pledged to appoint judges to overturn Roe v Wade and he did, and crowed about it for years after, as is his wont on everything. They all own this and are paying for it with repeated election floggings. Ultimately, if not for Mitch McConnel stopping the vote for Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee by claiming sixteen months left of a presidency was not enough time to vote for one and then ramming Donald Trump’s nominee through with a month left in his presidency, and the ensuing Supreme Court nominees lying under oath about “settled law,” and then theocratic loons in the South turning America into an episode of Handmaid Tales, we wouldn’t be here. But we are. This is prohibition all over again. And like that moralizing disaster we need a way out.

The results of this have been catastrophic, with hundreds to thousands of women’s lives at stake. Not to mention – okay, I’ll mention – Republican-led states forcing doctors to allow women suffering with dangerous pregnancies to go into sepsis – what killed my father – rather than lose their license or go to jail. States where ten-year-old rape victims are prohibited to escape to free-states to terminate their pregnancy. Or states that force twelve-year-old girls to bring to term the child of their stepfather. These, and many more, are actually daily occurrences and it is clear, unless there is a national protection of women’s rights in this country the ballot-box shellacking of Republican candidates will continue unabated until there is nothing left of the GOP. I can go either way, but I am assuming they want to survive.

The Republican Party needs to come to the table or risk extinction.

If so, read on:

Before Roe v Wade was stupidly taken down, 99.9 percent of all abortions were conducted before Week-20 of pregnancies. I propose a bipartisan compromise of a 20-Week federal moratorium on legal and safe abortion rights, including all health care issues for women before, during and after pregnancy, and especially those who suffer rape and incest. There must be provisions after 20 weeks for health issues, et al, and include healthcare protections against government intervention afforded to men. This is only five weeks more than current governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin proposed before coughing up both of his state’s houses on election day. What Youngkin, a former wonder-boy of the party, wanted was a way out for Republicans to tight-rope walk this losing issue. He tried and failed to paint those who want freedom as radicals and his party as the sane ones. He’d hoped that by controlling the state legislature he could enact a 15-Week moratorium, which actually polls better than the nightmare going on in the rest of the South, but voters weren’t buying. In fact, they went steps further to hand all of the Virginia’s congress over to Democrats.

Youngkin’s move was a cynical political gambit, but it shows one key thing: Republicans are cracking. Bold talk about wiping out baby killers is over. The whole heartbeat movement is toast. The pro-life movement, pardon the pun, is on life support and they now know it. But with the Virginia trouncing of the 15-Week Hail Mary at the polls, Youngkin’s surrender proposal is out. And remember, Virginia is a purple state. Ohio, a ruby red state, voted overwhelmingly for 22 to 25 weeks – or the viability of the fetus – which was the 50-year Roe statute. So, my 20-Week compromise is sweet relief for Republicans. Take it or leave it. And make it quick, because more hurt is coming in 2024, as a half-dozen states are priming to put reproductive rights on the ballot and goose turnout, and many of them are red or battle ground states. Not to mention, the architect of this catastrophe, Donald J. Trump, is on the ballot too, as he brags about delivering the stacked Court to sink women’s rights.

The war is over. The evil axis of Republicanism and Theocracy lost. Badly.

And so, to ensure the Republican Party does not go the way of the nineteenth century Whigs, this is more than a fair proposal for a federal protection of reproductive rights. For a party with zero leverage and hanging by a thread, it is the best they’re getting.

And to my pro-choice and Democratic friends and/or enemies, and most importantly women, many of whom I reached out to prior to writing this a received a solid majority for the plan, I think you should lay it out there and be the bigger of the two in this fight. Come with an olive branch and restore sanity to the nation. Why risk someone competent and not defending himself in four trials to run for president as a Republican or some weird shit going down and somehow Republicans own all three branches of the federal government again. They will ban reproductive rights federally. The current Republican-controlled congress voted unanimously to do so this past January the week they attained power. It’s coming. So, get something on the books now. Take this issue, as it should be, off the table. Restore the rights of your moms, sisters, daughters, aunts, cousins, significant others, your friends, and more to the point, Americans.

Or, if you want, and I don’t deny it is tempting, let this go one more year and take down Trump and whatever is left of Republicans and then control everything and do what you want. But as an independent and a free thinker, I disagree with this crash and burn plan. Sure, if they resist and don’t say uncle, then wipe the Republican Party out. I’ll keep helping, as I have now since Dobbs went down. But this is the fastest, best way to return the blessed sovereignty of constitutional rights to the bodies of 51.1 percent of our electorate while simultaneously removing this political death grip from the necks of Republicans and get back to debating election-denying, insurrection-revisioning, gun-toting, Bible-thumping, LGBTQ-hating, and win that way.

Take the W, Dems, and take the L GOP, and end this.

Women in all states deserve equal rights. Now.

You are all welcome

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20 YEARS OF HEALING: MY JOURNEY IN MUSIC

Aquarian Weekly
11/8/23
 
Reality Check
 
Guest Columnist – Seán Barna
 
 
20 YEARS OF HEALING MY JOURNEY IN MUSIC

(Seán Barna is a sing-songwriter and activist, whose themes run from queer rights and the trans-underground, to love and loss and personal experiences. His series of single releases like “Straight Motherfuckers and Their Favorite Friends” (2015), and “Everyone’s Queen on Halloween” (2022) among others, EP’s Cutter Street, (2014), Cissy (2018), and Margret Thatcher of the Lower East Side(2020), and his latest LP, An Evening at Macri Park teem with humor and pathos. This is his second guest columnist appearance)

People always ask if I get nervous before I have to play a show. No, I do not. Not if there are five people in the audience, not if there are 8,000.


November 5, 2003

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Nothing.”

“Alright, are mom or dad there?”

“Yeah.”


I wish I had better words to replay and relive. Hell, even the best songs can get tiresome after twenty years living in your head. But all I have is, “Hey, what’s up?” to remember as the last conversation I had with my brother, Kyle. 

That conversation happened on a Wednesday. That evening was my first concert with my jazz combo. At the time, I was a freshman in the jazz drum set program at Florida State University College of Music and had been away from home for less than three months.

I have played thousands of concerts since then. That was the last one I gave without the experience of having lived the worst day of my life. My brother was hit by a car on November 8th, 2003. Twenty years ago. The police report listed his time of death as 10:03 p.m. It was a Saturday. I was practicing drum set in room 27 of the HMU music building at Florida State University. 
 
***
 
My dad asked me, “What’s your plan?” 

I’d been home for two weeks. All the people had gone, all the food had been eaten. We had returned to Southwest Florida from our native Connecticut, where we buried my brother. 

I had no plan. Somehow, in his own grief, he summoned the wisdom to give me this advice: “Whatever choices you make right now, whether you go back to school or not, or for that matter if you become a drug addict or something, nobody is going to blame you. They will understand. You can do what you want, but I think you should go back to school.” 

He was not wrong. Science is pretty clear on this: when a young person loses a sibling, they face an increased risk of early death themselves, for many terrible reasons, including deteriorating mental health from emotional trauma and increased risk of alcohol and drug abuse. Grief is a bitch.

And so, I went back to school. I will forever be grateful to my dad for this advice. Looking back, it is an obvious turning point for me. 

As a serious undergraduate music student, your life requires relentless prioritization over four years. You spend countless hours practicing for weekly private lessons and learning or rehearsing music for various ensembles. In my case, I had a weekly hour-long lesson with my drum set professor, Leon Anderson, and was the drummer of one of the university jazz combos. As a jazz major, I was also required to take a half hour classical percussion lesson – though I voluntarily did an hour-long lesson – and attend the weekly percussion studio class. Then there are multiple music and non-music academic classes.

Knowing I had serious catching up to do on my classwork, I asked my drum set professor if he could just give me a pass for the rest of the semester, since private lessons are basically a class that lasts four years instead of a single semester. “Of course. You have an A.” He also gave me a very nice card signed by everyone in the jazz studio (I wonder if I still have that card? There are some serious names on there…).

I also stopped by the office of Dr. John W. Parks, IV. Like me, he was in his first semester at Florida State, except he was the new Professor of Percussion. 

“Of course,” he said. “Don’t worry about it. Keep going to your lessons and work on cymbal crashes with Mr. Lloyd or something, but don’t stress about your grade.”

Keith Lloyd was a doctoral student and my graduate student teacher. 

“Thanks,” I said.

He stopped me as I was turning to leave. “Oh, and you haven’t performed in studio class yet. On Tuesday morning let’s have you perform the Bach you’ve been working on for your colleagues.”

My jaw hit the fucking floor. I was furious. Did he not hear what I just said? I do not have the capacity to practice hours a day right now. 

Though I had been a semi-professional drum set player since fourteen years old, I had just started learning four-mallet marimba a couple months before and could barely read melody. Plus, I did not really know anyone in the percussion studio. I was not one of them. I was a jazz guy, not a classical guy. A drum set guy, not a mallet guy.

And, to my astonishment, none of them knew what had just happened to me aside from Dr. Parks and Mr. Lloyd. Dr. Parks made the choice to let me tell who I wanted, if I wanted. 

I walked downstairs to the practice rooms and, fuming, got to work.

Seven a.m. on Tuesday came fast. Dr. Parks chose this time for our weekly class to weed out the students who were not serious about what they were doing. It worked because if you were late by even one second (I don’t mean two seconds and I certainly don’t mean three seconds), the locked door would slam shut in your face. If you did this three times, you failed.

It was my turn to play. I was terrified. Preparation aside, I just was not that good at this instrument yet. And J.S. Bach, under the best circumstances and in the hands of the best players, can be a nightmare to remember in live performance. 

My love and obsession with music did not go away, it just evolved.

It started fine but at some point, in the middle, I froze. Unable to remember the next note, I stood there as my vision started to blur from the panic and embarrassment. It felt like an eternity, but of course it was likely four or five seconds. That being said, of all the emotions a person can feel, embarrassment is my least favorite.

And then came one of the most important moments of my entire life.

From the corner of the room, I hear Dr. Parks shout, “A.” Horrified, I strike the A. Then, “F#.” I hit the F#. It continued like this.

With his photographic memory, he could see the music in his head, so he yelled out every single note for the rest of the piece until I made it to the end. Then he stood up and clapped. The rest of the studio, unaware of what was going on, followed his lead and clapped. Dazed, I sat down. I wanted to disappear.

By the end of the semester, I had added Percussion Performance as a second major. By the second semester, I was ranked #2 in the studio, behind only my graduate student teacher, after a rather stunning amount of practicing over Christmas break. By the end of my first semester in college, I had dropped jazz as a major entirely.

I believe – I know – that Dr. John W. Parks did not just save my ass that day. He saved my life. He did not encourage me or ask me to keep going, he insisted. 
 
***
 
My new routine was practicing eight to fifteen hours a day, forgoing all of the things a college student is supposed to do from attending parties to having sex with people you just met. This seemed to be a pretty healthy way to grieve my brother. Better than drinking, right? 

Playing the Bach Cello Suite in G Major, or Debussy’s Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum, my tears would fall from my face to the marimba. The music, so beautiful, provided a perfect setting for my sadness. 

Sounds peaceful, in a way.

But the reality is this: with even the smallest mistake, I would snap marimba mallets in half. Punch walls. Scream. Or, at my very worst, hurt myself. It was not out of the question that I would pull my hair or scratch my face if I missed even one note. As a percussionist, I wanted to be a bad motherfucker. And I was. But I was also a nightmare to the people around me, especially my best friend then and now, Ben King. And what I was doing almost killed me. 

During my junior year, my body started to shut down, my hands shaking so uncontrollably in one lesson that Dr. Parks forbade me to practice for a time.

To this day, I do not enjoy playing drums, especially in a rehearsal setting, due to legitimate PTSD and the association between the loss of my brother and the act of playing percussion. I play on all my own records, but I have not seriously practiced since probably May of 2006. But my love and obsession with music did not go away, it just evolved.

On August 18, 2006, I bought an acoustic guitar in Denver before attending a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert alone, hoping to rekindle my love of music.

On August 18, 2007, I saw Counting Crows live for the first time. This is the day I started writing songs. Until I wrote the previous sentence, just this moment, I did not realize this concert was exactly a year after buying my first guitar. Holy shit.

In September of 2014, I released my first EP, Cutter Street

In August, September, and October of 2021, I toured as a solo artist (with a band) for two months as direct support for Counting Crows, playing for larger crowds than I ever have in my life.

In May of this year, I released my second LP and first on the legendary label, Kill Rock Stars, entitled, An Evening at Macri Park.

This week, November 9th, the day after the 20th anniversary of my brother’s death, I am playing a show at Sleepwalk bar in Brooklyn. The evening is named, Songs for my Brother.

It is going to be an emotional, difficult show. I am playing entirely solo. The audience will contain friends and family, including my parents. 

What a couple of decades it has been. 
 
***
 
Am I nervous for Thursday’s show?
 
No, I am not.
 
The only thing that scares me about music is the thought of what my life would have been without it. 
 
Music is why I am alive. And when I am on stage, I want everyone to know they are not alone. 
 
Be kind to one another.

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Mo – King of the Clemens Estate – 2009 – 2023

Aquarian Weekly
11/1/23
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
Mo – King of the Clemens Estate – 2009 – 2023

Dignity. That is the word that keeps invading my thoughts as I comprehend the death of another of our beloved cats. I’ve penned five of these since 1997 when I embarked on this sojourn of expression, argument, and general mayhem. Each one of these eulogies becoming harder than the next. Getting older now myself, I appreciate the concept of death far more. Four years removed from saying goodbye to my dad, who’s birthday passed only from the final breaths of our latest ex-feline. James V loved Mo. I guess dignity knows dignity.

His given name was Rivera. We got him in 2009, only a few months old, as the Yankees were on the cusp of winning their fifth World Series title with the enormous contributions of one Mariano Rivera aka Mo. So, he was Rivera. But we called him Mo from the start and so did my daughter Scarlet, who was there when he was plucked from the shelter and subsequently became the first word she was able to write soon after. She couldn’t be prouder than to scrawl his name across a whiteboard or random scrap of paper, “MO.” Over and over. We realized the morning he passed that this was the first of the cats to go that she remembers from his arrival

And Scarlet knew Mo well. It is a fine tale of the toddler and the little girl and the tween and teen and her big, male cat. At his most robust, Mo was 21 pounds. He was long and grey and when she held him his body engulfed her. He looked like a lion. That was fitting. He had a regal countenance. A king. We once had a Queen around here. Mazzy. Mo was her grey successor. He had to “deal” with two black cats, deferring to their domain and acquiescing like a gentleman despite the fact that he could have killed them both within seconds. That is if he’d been as crazy as the cat he actually replaced. 

That would be Parker.

She was grey, lean, and extremely mean. She had the sniping disposition of her namesake, Ms. Dorothy Parker. She terrorized our other two cats, so she had to go. It was sad, but we had to send her back. Never thought the animal-crazed Vegan wife would go for it, but it became a matter of survival for the black ones cowering in the cellar. Yeah, Parker only lasted maybe a week, two? Back to the drawing board.

I KNOW what I will miss the most is the quiet times we had together on the couch.

And so here came Mo, big, bad, and serene as they come. It was if he knew his role. Calm things down. Get along to go along. From the moment we got him out from under the guest room bed he was a joy. Mostly quiet, very matter of fact in gate (which always included the requisite click-clacking of his incessantly growing claws) and comportment. He patiently waited his turn to eat and only swiped at cats that gave him shit, inside or out. One of the three black ones he had to endure (we kept bringing these damn black cats into the fray, but he sucked it up), Bukowski – who, once more lives up to his namesake. Jesus, he is a walking Hank: Likes to fight, annoy everyone around him, eat like a beast and lounge as if every minute is siesta. 

But Mo endured. Even when the two kittens came the summer before last. He just sighed and soldiered on. He was cool. As long as he could sit in his “Mo Patch” – a little spot out by our hot tub above the patio. Or he might lounge on the hill leading up to the barn or on the balcony outside our bedroom, looking up at the sun and feeling the breeze on his cheeks and brush past his whiskers. He would close his eyes and you can feel his damn smile. It was visceral. 

He was, in the end, a cat of simple pleasures. He didn’t hunt like the others, whine like the others (until towards the end when he was a cranky old man) or create useless drama. 

My mom took to him, and she pretty much despises almost every living creature on God’s green. But there was something Italian in Mo – he liked to eat, loved life, and got his rest. All these things are important to Phyllis Campion – relax and mangiare! Yeah, Mo could mangiare! He was the first down for breakfast and the last getting his calories in at night. He may have waited his turn, but when it was his turn, politely back the fuck up; the Great Rivera is dining.

But I think, nah, I KNOW what I will miss the most is the quiet times we had together on the couch. If I was sitting there, usually writing, sometimes reading, other times just watching TV, no matter where the hell Mo was, he’d find his way to lean on me, put his giant paws on my lap, and nuzzle his head into my hip. As I pounded out words on this infernal contraption, he would purr and give the other cats and anyone who might saunter by the side-eye. This was our time together. No sharing! He may have liked those times as much as eating, I tell myself, but then I realize I’m just being a melodramatic human idiot. Mo loved eating most of all. 

I am grateful that through that horrible pandemic I got to spend more time at home, the silver lining to the world collapsing. I was fortunate to be “stuck” inside and enjoy all that offered – being with family, including the four-legged ones. And Mo was the highlight because he just hung. No one around here hangs out with me, and I guess now no one will. And that’s okay, ‘cause ain’t no one hangin’ like Mo. He cannot be replaced. I made the words. He made the purring. Good partnership agreement. Yeah, gonna miss that.

And so we bid a hearty and melancholic ado to our King of the Clemens Estate. He was a benevolent and sympathetic ruler. He just needed quit time and a meal close at hand. There is never enough time to love that, I think. I should have loved it and him more. Life moves fast. Mo didn’t. He had his own clock. And that one stopped at 2:40 AM on Tuesday, October 24., 2023.

The king is dead, long live Mo. 

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THE “GOD KILLING” TOUR 2023

(Above photo, jc with IDF soldier outside the Dung Gate, Old City, Jerusalem, 5/29/96 – the day Benjamin Netanyahu was first elected Prime Minister of Israel)

 
Aquarian Weekly
10/18/23
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
THE “GOD KILLING” TOUR 2023
Square One: Rinse & Repeat

The Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.
               – Deuteronomy 20:16-18 King James version
 
It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
               – Mark Twain

I always find it interesting when Americans think everything is about them. The minute people started dying, missiles fired, and things went sideways for the umpteenth time in Israel this past week, politicians, pundits, Twitter (X or whatever), and the usual “echo chamber of the silly” weighed in on how this was someone’s fault around here. Of course, none of this is true. Well, some of it. I know we bankroll the Israeli Defense Force’s powerful armory and have been the one superpower to maintain the country’s sovereignty in the midst of its surrounding enemies, most of whom we either have uneasy alliances with over oil (Saudi Arabia), wage war against for stupid shit (Iraq) and constantly make deals with (Iran – Reagan to Obama), and then we moved the country’s capital to the hotbed of religious lunacy, Jerusalem, followed by someone sending their son-in-law to fix it, but, really, this has (hardly) anything to do with us. 

Long before there was Joe Biden and Donald Trump (as much as that seems hard to believe considering both are really old), and before there were Republican and Democratic Parties, shit, before there was democracy, there was God. And the formulation of this God in oral tradition and then documentation – much of it unpleasant with a lot of rules and terrible retribution for not following these rules – seemed to confuse those whom these rules applied to. (For a recent instance, the Torah, the Old Testament of the Bible, is written specifically for Israelites, the pure Chosen People. No one fits this category in America, or pretty much anywhere, yet people used this fucking thing to strip women of their reproductive rights a mere two summers ago). Crazy, right?

And now onto truly crazy. 

The very idea of Israel as the center of the theocratic universe and its “ownership” of such a place by these mostly confused sorts, gives both ends of their skewed theology credence to unleash mayhem. It begins with a “one way or the highway” scenario – the highway usually ending up with one person’s God telling them to kill the other person because their God is wrong or some such. It started with fists and then rocks and sticks, then escalated using whatever terrific new ways to kill came along. Look at Israel as the proving ground for how crazy the God thing can get. For the past five thousand or so years people have been killing each other for this small stretch of land over the God thing, and even when twentieth century craziness like politics (Nazis) and culture (Israeli/Palestinian) enter the fray, the results are the same. 

Since visiting Israel in 1996, the very month the current Prime Minister   Benjamin Netanyahu was elected for the very first time (also crazy, since the most famous baseball player of the last half century, Derek Jeter hadn’t even won any of his five title yet), I have been fascinated with the underlying human carnage there. Not just death carnage, but rights of survival carnage, parenthood carnage, day-to-day existence carnage. No Palestinian, despite their being treated as Europeans treated indigenous people on this continent, want violence. I know this. I went there and asked them. Anymore than most Republicans wanted the horrors of January 6 to unfold. And Israelis, despite their ham-fisted leaderhip and shaky (at best) human rights crimes, want to worry about their kids popping into a candy store being at risk to end up a smoldering heap of flesh and bone. 

But then there is the God thing, and ya know… 

There’s also politics, sure, but what is politics anyway? The Good Doctor, Hunter S. Thompson once mused it’s “the art of controlling your own environment.” And since that environment was never built, nurtured, fought for, or preserved on principle and law (human law, not the God thing law), then the opening for what is happening right now is infinite.

Even when twentieth century craziness like politics (Nazis) and culture (Israeli/Palestinian) enter the fray, the results are the same. 

One thing will be for certain, because it has been the case since the late 1940s, the IDF is a vicious and concentrated fighting machine (also met and spoke to many of them, which is made up of every citizen) and no terrorist attacks or fancy slogans are going to keep it from crushing all comers. People will “pay,” things will calm down (but not really), and then we will be back to square one, because square one in Israel is the default position – Square One being an untenable and weak cultural and religious off-balance that leaves a vacuum for extremist hatred and state retribution. 

Rinse and repeat. 

Now, I get accused all the time here of being a cynical twit. And I am. Guilty as charged. But, come on. If for five millennium, things go this way more or less than you must call it as you see it.

It sucks.

We suck. Humans, I mean. But don’t worry the planet has a plan for us that includes being under water over time and we’ll be eradicated from the proceedings.

Until then, there is Israel, the God thing, Square One, and a bunch of solipsistic self-centered ego-loons over here blaming it on each other.

Rinse and Repeat.

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UNIONS ARE BACK

Aquarian Weekly
10/4/23
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
UNIONS ARE BACK
A Right-Wing Populism and Post-Covid/Inflation Blowback Resurrection
 

According to a recent Gallup poll, 71 percent of Americans support labor unions. This is statistically significant for two reasons: This is the highest level of public backing of unions since 1965 and as of 2021 there has been a 57-percent increase in union election petitions filed, as reported by the National Labor Relations Board. There are two key factors in this surge in participation and national support for unions: Record corporate profits during post-pandemic shutdown, which shifted drastically after corporations asked workers to sacrifice or be furloughed or ended up being laid off during the crisis, and the solidarity among political parties on the subject. Up until Donald Trump’s complete 180 on working-class rhetoric, first as a candidate in 2015/16 and as president from 2016 through 2020, the previous pro-management Republican Party has now joined Democrats in competing in this field.

Timing and lack of opposition have led to a complete resurgence in the power, influence, and popularity of unions.

Over the past few months two major unions have struck against their employers, garnering increased press coverage and a windfall of public sympathy and solidarity; the Writers Guild of America, which settled last week with Hollywood production companies after being on strike since May 2, and what was once the most powerful union on planet earth, the United Auto Workers, who’s current standoff with auto manufacturers in Detroit continues and has not only gotten support from the president of the United States, but his likely Republican opponent. 

Both President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump have given vocal support to the union, and in an unprecedented move for a sitting president, Biden spoke on their picket line this week while Trump went to Detroit to ostensibly support the strike, but instead spoke at a non-union management conference. And while this is a classic grifting Trump move to say he is for a popular movement but knows his record says otherwise, so avoids being booed off the stage and puts on a con show instead, the leaders of both parties are on board with unions in both image and branding. 

This is an astonishing comeback for labor unions, who since the Ronald Reagan administration gutted laws protecting unions and firing 11,000 public workers during an air traffic controllers strike in 1981 saw a severe downturn in labor union support nationally. The over fifty-year Republican battle with unions, seen then as an early 20th century Communist off shoot of post-Industrial Revolution blowback, was the core of conservative politics. For a long time, Reagan was a paragon of conservativism for his bold actions forty years ago, but that all ended with the take-over of the Republican Party by Trump and the death of modern conservatism with his populist stance. Now, a large portion of the party, which has become a populist cult of personality that spent decades fighting unions, stumble over one another to be on their side.

This is understandable if not cynical analysis since this is precisely where the political winds are blowing. During last year’s record inflation, price gouging by corporations, especially the auto industry created record profits for management with zero “trickle down” to workers. Just like the advent of streaming services and the use of content created by entertainment writers, wherein the boom in repeated viewings of their work garnered them no extra pay, autoworkers saw exploitation and acted. 

The political might of unions and the reason for their increased popularity are due to the Republican Party’s at least rhetorical about-face on them.

The times have always dictated support for unions, which, as stated, after the Industrial Revolution saw the dehumanization of the worker class, lack of safety regulations, child labor, and other aspects of the period, along with political uprising in Socialist and later Communist philosophies affecting the order of the day. The same for post-World War II and its exploitation of the female labor force and returning GI’s from combat. Unions were never more powerful during the Middle Class/manufacturing boom of the 1950s into the early 60’s. And then came the outing of organized crime infiltration in labor unions, specifically auto workers after the asinine Volstead Act bankrolled their ascent, and the general malaise among union workers, which eroded public support. 

This, among many other factors, gave rise to modern conservatism and the over 60-percent negative view of labor unions from the 1980s until two years ago, when the once in a century Covid-19 pandemic shut the nation down, closed manufacturing, stymied shipping, and ground the international economy to halt. Workers, both essential and non-essential bound together in a direct backlash against companies gouging the American consumer while mistreating labor. 

This is, of course, not across the board, but the branding and public perception of management versus labor shifted dramatically, forcing both political parties to rush to their aid in hopes of remaining relevant. And while Democrats have been to a fault been the part of labor over the more corporate-minded Republican Party for a century, there is suddenly little area of disagreement on what unions mean to their success at the ballot box.

But make no mistake, the political might of unions and the reason for their increased popularity are due to the Republican Party’s at least rhetorical about-face on them. For the most part Trump’s government was not too far removed from Reagan’s in its ignoring and in some cases attacking worker’s rights, coupled with the massive corporate tax breaks over middle class relief. But since Trump is a media figure and his ham-fisted support of truckers, Johnny Lunch-Pail, barking about the return of manufacturing over outsourcing, and the fear of immigrants in the labor force pulled in the Rust Belt states to make him president, the Republican Party can no longer politically sustain an opposition to labor unions.

For the first time in many generations, labor unions are back, and perhaps bigger than ever, as now they have no political headwinds, not to mention low unemployment figures and inflation sinking from nine to three percent in the last two years to bring them back into the fore. And with a presidential election a year away, their voice and influence have become paramount.     

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SPEAKER ON THE BRINK

Aquarian Weekly
9/27/23
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
SPEAKER ON THE BRINK
The Sad Tale of Kevin McCarthy Continues

It’s weird, right? Doesn’t it seem like Republicans are trying to not get elected ever again for anything? First, they have a criminal, who already lost an election three years ago by nearly eight-million votes coughing up former red states in the process, at the top of their presidential ticket. And they repeatedly send doomed candidates to the slaughter who mimic his “stolen election” craziness. They ban abortion, which six-out-of-ten Americans abhor. They deny climate change after five of the hottest years on record, which most Americans want addressed. They defend gun manufacturers and block sane gun regulations in the wake of dozens of mass shootings annually, which is gaining support among voters. And in all states that they run they make it more difficult for citizens to vote.

And now they’re going to shut down the government in the middle of a childish and very public inner-party spat that makes it look like their whole plan is to wreck America. Or as the current Speaker of the House, California Republican Kevin McCarthy put it this week, “They just want to burn the whole place down.”

Mind you, Republicans do not control two-thirds of the federal government, and yet, for some reason only known to six or seven MAGA Morons, they are going to do the one thing that is guaranteed to bury them in opinion polls and further motivate Independents and moderate Republicans to vote them out next fall. You would think the Speaker could wrangle enough votes to at least provide the Senate with a budget to fund the government, the most important job of congress, instead of floating strange evidence-free impeachment inquiries and trying to embarrass law enforcement on Capitol Hill for hours on end, before giving his colleagues a week off with two weeks left to the deadline.

But, nah.

No one should vote for Republicans until they right this ship.  Which sucks, because it fails to put a check on Democrats…

These appear to be the actions of someone who just wandered into the Capitol, like that guy who’s going to prison for four years for putting his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk on January 6. But McCarthy, nearly 60 years-old with a marketing degree, has been in congress for 17 years. You would think he could envision the shit storm he is orchestrating. But wait, why is he Speaker in the first place? Ah, right. He needed to persuade these MAGA Morons to get him enough votes to gain the gavel after a record-shattering 15 votes (longest such proceedings in 164 years). And what did McCarthy give up getting those votes? Oh, right. He handed the majority party the right to have any member call for a motion to vacate the speaker’s chair. This was unprecedented idiocy that no Speaker has had to face in the 234 years of the U.S. House of Representatives, but what choice did he have? It was either that or go home. He wanted the damn job, and now he has it, and it comes with essentially no power. He cannot get the requisite votes for anything. He didn’t even have the votes for his sham impeachment inquiry, which means that it’s a toothless political exercise that is also wildly unpopular. Seven out of ten Americans don’t want it, so, of course, Republicans are doing it. They apparently are begging to get shellacked at the ballot box again.

Let’s review: McCarthy is fucked. His party is fucked. The country, as long as Republicans are in charge of anything, is fucked.

I am going to reiterate what I have written here since January 6, 2021, and the ensuing striking down of Roe v Wade by the corrupt Supreme Court jammed with lunatics by scheming Senate Republicans, who moved heaven and earth to rob women of their reproductive rights; the first elimination of citizen rights in my lifetime: No one should vote for Republicans until they right this ship.  Which sucks, because it fails to put a check on Democrats, who continue to have it easier because the Grand Old Party doesn’t seem to want to compete in the political arena anymore. They merely want to make Donald Trump and his 38-percent of the national vote happy. They show no desire to expand their voter block, which is shrinking by the generation, or work in a sane construct. They are fooled by conservative media that this is the way forward to govern. It is not. And if Democrats winning every special election in the last six years by an average of 11 points in a polarized atmosphere is any indication of what is coming next year, then I’m not sure what is.

When Republicans return with one week to go before the shuttering of the federal government due to their incompetence, McCarthy has one move left; work with Democrats on a bi-partisan bill that can pass a Democratic Senate and be signed by Joe Biden, a Democrat in the White House. Or watch those polls, and with it, Republican prospects for 2024 sink further. And with the end of gerrymandering in six states by next year and many of the members of congress fortunate enough to gain seats in purple districts in 2022 facing an ousting, this would be bad. For them. Good for people who don’t want American “burned down.” But to accomplish this would mean a revolt in the party and McCarthy’s eventual removal as Speaker.

It’s all so Shakespearean. But it’s what McCarthy signed on for: Fund the government or take a powder. Either way, as I see it, things go further sideways for the Republican Party; shutdown, backlash, or dump McCarthy and then who becomes Speaker? Bozo the Zealot? And can that person get enough votes from moderate Republicans, many of whom have taken to the airwaves and the D.C. press to deem this a “clown show” and “unserious” and “politically suicidal?” 

All of it is a terrible look for Republicans, who prove they are a mess and continue to entreat Americans to vote the other way.

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WHAT’S HAPPENED TO WOODY ALLEN IS BULLSHIT

Aquarian Weekly
9/20/23
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
WHAT’S HAPPENED TO WOODY ALLEN IS BULLSHIT

Woody Allen recently celebrated the release of his fiftieth film, Coup de Chance in Venice, Italy, which reminded me of a piece I had been working on in the spring of 2021 about the unconscionable smearing of his name and legacy by first the mentally disturbed Mia Farrow and her brainwashed kids, then a lazy press, and finally the victims of a vapid media echo-chamber. Alas, I was distracted by more pressing current events, but I think I need to get this out, and not merely because I adore Woody Allen’s work, but this entire sad episode of his having allegedly molested his then seven-year-old-daughter, Dylan, which had been intensely adjudicated 30 fucking years ago, exonerated him from all wrongdoing. And to be clear, this was not “fancy lawyering hired by famous rich guy” exoneration, but the more pressing “no evidence of any kind to substantiate dubious claims from a traumatized child” exoneration.

In the wake of HBO’s propaganda-addled Allen v Farrow that further perpetuated this egregious lie, and the reemergence of Farrow’s attack dog kids, Dylan and Ronan, to try and censor Allen’s 2020 memoir, Apropos of Nothing, I was taken aback. But when Amazon, which had negotiated a multi-picture deal with Allen sacked him, then American theaters refused to carry his films, and many of his supposed friends and colleagues ran for cover, I could no longer abide it. I needed to state, “What’s happened to Woody Allen is bullshit.” Nearly three years later, it still is bullshit. 

To be fair, Woody, 87 years-old now, doesn’t seem to miss a step and keeps working on what he’s always called his “little films.” He is pleased to just have the money and support to keep creating his art. But it endlessly irks me that he’s lumped in with the Weinsteins, Cosbys, Spaceys, and Trumps of the world when unlike them, he co-operated with authorities, had his private life, body and possessions inspected beyond reproach, endured two long trials, invasive forensics, and was again cleared due to lack of any evidence. A psychological evaluation of Dylan exposed that the poor, exploited child had changed her story numerous times throughout and appeared to authorities to clumsily regurgitate a flimsy script conjured by her mother, and Allen’s former lover, actress, Mia Farrow.

Farrow, who has been repeatedly outed as a horrid mother figure to ten adopted children, allegedly used Dylan, one of four biological offspring, as an emotional cudgel for vengeance against Allen for his relationship with one of Farrow’s adopted daughters, the twenty-one-year-old, Soon-Yi Previn, whom Allen married in 1997 and is still with to this day; the couple have two children. One of the other nine of Farrow’s adopted kids, the now 45-year-old Moses Farrow, in his blog, “A Son Speaks Out,” much of which fills a chapter in Allen biographer, Eric Lax’s 2017 Start to Finish: Woody Allen and the Art of Moviemaking, has outed Farrow’s severe physical and mental abuse that according to his accounts led to two of her adopted children to commit suicide at ages 27 and 17. These terrifying stories have since been echoed by Soon-Yi.

Perhaps the most psychologically abused of these children is Farrow and Allen’s biological son, Ronan, first named Satchel, then changed by his mother, who made false claims that he was Frank Sinatra’s child, a man she married at 21 in 1966 when he was nearly 50 (Sinatra would have been 71 when he did this proposed fathering – something the Sinatra family calls ‘a ludicrous lie’). Many allegations of unsolicited cosmetic surgeries prompted by Farrow on her son had somehow made him more loyal to her madness. He has used his otherwise noble defense of sexual victims in adulthood to hound his father relentlessly, including leading the charge to have Allen’s memoir dropped by Hachette Books, for which Ronan worked at the time.

Don’t take my word for it. If you find this an abhorrent take, then check the facts for yourself. It’s all out there.

But no one bothered to check the legal record on all this. The one that ultimately cleared Allen of the charges by law; not newspapers, social media, or activists: “The manifestations of Dylan were not true and had been made by an emotionally vulnerable minor trapped in a disturbed family situation and who responded to stress.” Sorry, this is the hard, cold facts. Yet here we are with Woody Allen in societal wilderness. It is, I repeat, bullshit.

I do have immense sympathy for Farrow, who was an abused child and suffered from serious trauma all her life, much of it by her father and the rest in the public since she was a teenager, exploited by the Hollywood star system, which had previously done irreparable harm for many damaged souls. She was emotionally injured and understandably angered by Allen’s at best peculiar actions and worst deviant behavior with Previn, so she simply heaped this pain on her former lover, for whom she was with for 13 years with no prior signs of sexual misconduct over dozens of films in which women actors were given prime roles – Mia garnering 13 – earning them Oscars with nary a complaint or inkling of misbehavior. 

So, despite having his name dragged through the mud in the early 1990s, and a stellar career of filmmaking and writing since, in 2021 he was suddenly ostracized from Hollywood, abandoned by his production company, and disallowed to have his work appear in American theaters. I think this is a horrifying miscarriage of justice and an abuse of the First Amendment, but which, again, seems to be fine for Woody. He has stated that he still supports the #MeToo movement, despite their unfair attacks on him and his livelihood, further illustrating a complete lack of accepting the truth. And that, as we know from nearly 30 years of this column, is bullshit and cannot stand without comment to the contrary. 

Women actors have stood up over these past years to defend Allen, his longtime ingénue, Diane Keaton, his more recent collaborator, Scarlett Johansson, as well as Kate Winslet, Angelica Houston, and others, including male voices. Many articles have been written questioning the entire episode’s motives and fallout. All of them like myself understand the difference between guilty people using “cancel culture” to explain away crimes and the unfortunate circumstances of familial in-fighting, spurned lovers, and the collateral damage of children caught in the crosshairs.  

Allen never cared much for Hollywood. Didn’t show up to any Academy Awards ceremonies when he was the industry’s resident genius, despite winning a ton of them. He did appear in 2002 after the 9/11 attacks to support his beloved New York City. But otherwise, he keeps on keeping on in the shadows. And while again this seems to be enough for Woody Allen it is not for me. I had to express my issues with this whole mess, much of it a matter of ignored record in service of accepted but misplaced demonization.

Don’t take my word for it. If you find this an abhorrent take, then check the facts for yourself. It’s all out there. And when you do, you’ll agree that, if I may state once more, what’s happened to Woody Allen is bullshit.     

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LET’S TALK EDUCATION

Aquarian Weekly
9/6/23
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
LET’S TALK EDUCATION

In the recent Fox News showcase of candidates vying to be Donald Trump’s running mate or at the very least increase speaking engagement fees, a subject caught my ear: “A crisis in education in America.” After laughing at this irony, since for decades Republicans have waged rhetorical war on intellectualism and over the past fifteen years unleashed a legislative assault on the public school system, I thought I’d check the statistics and see if there is indeed a “crisis.” Turns out there is! And Republicans are causing it.

The most egregious of course is in Florida, conducted as a political ploy by Governor Ron DeSantis, one of Fox’s also-rans, with its banning of books, although other states have indiscriminately implemented “selected reading” for students and have levied sanctions and threatened arrests for teachers daring to cross these arbitrary lines. There has also been a steady movement on the Right to sanitize American history to protect the feelings of white people. A repeated lie perpetuated on the teaching of Critical Race Theory being offered in grade school, or even middle to high school classes, has succeeded in ginning up the great unwashed. CRT, as they like to frame it – one, they can’t deign to say it, and two because it sounds more sinister that way – is a college-level course and even that is rare. And, come on, who thinks these people even know what CRT is?

This country has seen this kind of middling crap before. I direct you to the Scopes Monkey Trial, probably our most embarrassing chapter of this pogrom against education – I am leaving out the South’s rejection of African Americans to attend schools and universities because I don’t want to further upset white people, and let’s face it that had way less to do with education than systemic racism.

Nearly a century ago in 1925, a high school teacher, John T. Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which had made it illegal for teachers to teach human evolution in any state-funded school. The argument: the Bible takes priority over all human knowledge. Crazy right? Wait, read that last sentence again and think of the current state of 51% of our American citizenry in bondage to the government thanks to more idiotic Republican/Fundamentalist claptrap. Crazier still, Scopes was found guilty! But later the goofy verdict was overturned, not because it was abjectly stupid and unconstitutional but on some technicality.

For more on this sad footnote in our complicated history that Republicans try to hide from our kids, check out H.L. Mencken’s work on the matter – some of the finest journalistic writing ever. Seriously, Mencken kicked ass.

Nine out of the ten worst educated states are run by Republicans.

But things have certainly reached a saturation point lately. Republicans want to run the federal government to strip women’s reproductive rights nationally and wipe out the Department of Education, so parents can decide curriculum. Now, as a person who feels we do need to restructure our education system, it is not to teach less or massage the public-school syllabus to match our national pride or placate superstitious zombies, it is to expand the scope of knowledge. To this end, we absolutely CANNOT leave education up to a mob of people who can’t agree on proper diet for their kids, or sleep time, or what content their offspring can consume. We had to put stickers on everything in the 1980s because parents were unable to decipher if “Fuck Like an Animal” was an appropriate listening experience for their eight-year-old daughters.

Also, please stop teaching that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America. This was a difficult feat for a man who never stepped foot on the continent, never mind that there were already people here and lots of other Europeans.

But I digress.

Did some research on the Most Educated States in America based on 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Since this paper was founded and is published in New Jersey and I am writing this from my barn office on Jersey soil, I will not bury the lede: NJ is in the Top Ten. As a starting mean, let’s note that the national average is 43.8% – the share of a state population with a high school and/or bachelor’s degree. That number already makes me cringe, but judging from some of the stuff that pops up as popular on Netflix and the cable ratings for Sean Hannity, it makes sense.

I think you know where I’m going.

The Ten Worst Educated States are as follows, West Virginia: 22.40, Mississippi: 25.64, Louisiana: 27.36, Arkansas: 30.87, Alabama: 34.46, Oklahoma: 35.32, Nevada: 35.70, Kentucky: 35.70, New Mexico: 36.99, Texas: 40.14.

Firstly, can someone explain to me how in 2023 only two out of ten West Virginians have graduated from any level of schooling?

Second, you got it: Nine out of the ten worst educated states are run by Republicans. (For the record there is a Democratic governor of New Mexico, but it’s a purple state, so there could be some fucked up stuff in there already, but to be fair, the party does also run the legislature.) But that’s one out of ten.

I repeat: Nine of ten of the worst educated states are run by Republicans.

Is there a crisis in education?

To finish our research let’s peek at what the statistical ratings are for Most Education States.

Unless you’re from West Virginia, I think you know what’s coming.

The most educated states in America: Massachusetts: 83.03, Maryland: 76.73, Connecticut: 72:06, Vermont: 71.40, Colorado: 69.30, New Jersey: 68.85, Virginia: 67.33, New Hampshire: 67.20, Minnesota: 63.98, Utah: 63.31.

Come on, NJ, let’s get this to at least seven out of ten!

Eight of the ten states are distinctly NOT run by Republicans, and Virginia has just recently flipped its governorship, and is likely to flip back.

But… Massachusetts. Wow. Completely, shamelessly indoctrinated in liberalism. There is no more “woke” section of this nation. Shit, there’s a reason DeSantis sent those migrants up there. Turns out this was a boon to the migrants, at least if they wanted to learn stuff, instead of being sold that education is a progressive, elitist, radical plot to turn our kids into snowflake robots.

Look, if there is one thing I’ve learned from six decades of being a free thinker, despite Catholic school and mediocre public schools and years of reading and research and never being complacent on what new information emerges from the apparently dwindling great minds of this world: Knowledge is Good. (If I may borrow from the good people at National Lampoon).

Republicans think it’s bad, and then they stand on a stage and pander to the Fox News agenda of denying truth and pass this disease onto our kids. And those kids grow up to storm the Capitol and go to jail and then apologize for being duped by a lunatic.

But judging from the overwhelming number of Gen Z voters – many of them having endured locked downs from school shootings and are far more respectful of gender identity, race, and sexual preference, and sure as hell don’t want the government to control their bodies or choose the Bible over all human knowledge, I think we’re going to be fine.

Republicans on the other hand will be forced to keep running monosporic fascist narcissist domestic terrorists like Trump for high office or start educating their children better.

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WHAT THE HELL IS CHRIS CHRISTIE DOING?

Aquarian Weekly
8/23/23
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
WHAT THE HELL IS CHRIS CHRISTIE DOING?
Corpulent Kamikaze from New Jersey Explained

Good question.

Once a popular and within his party revered governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie had his time to run for president. That time was 2012. He did not run. Instead, he chose to run the year Donald Trump was in a contract dispute with the National Broadcasting Network and decided to raise his brand by ruining the Republican Party and then after that particular joke ran dry, went onto wreck the country. During Trump’s rise, Christie bailed on his goal and became the first Republican to publicly back the leading candidate, working inside the wavering campaign, debate prepping and standing weirdly behind him as Trump made a mockery of democracy.

When Trump became president he dangled many jobs in front of Christie, something the venerable politician, considering his simpering fealty, thought would be a slam dunk to get. And it would have been for normal politicians. But Trump was a game show host who spent decades using a quasi-real estate business to build his celebrity while getting other people to pay for it. Trump didn’t know what the fuck he was doing and cared even less about it. And so he was duly informed by the ad hoc fascists behind him that Christie had made one of the grandest mistakes for any Republican back in 2012 when he embraced and worked with then President Barack Obama, a Democrat, to assist in the rebuilding of his state after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

Christie was out in the cold.

But Christie was steadfast; throughout Trump’s horrid run of governance from 2017 until the insurrection of January 6, 2021, the former governor now claims he hung around in an attempt to be one of the few “adults in the room” surrounding Trump, keeping him from completely tanking America under the weight of his haphazard whims. Basically, Christie followed the actions of his Republican brethren Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Lindsay Graham; forget the terrible things Trump said about them and their families, emasculating them publicly and constantly, damaging their reputations, and just suck his ass like a pathetic bitch.

However, something happened to Chris Christie on that dark day in January of 2021. A profound sense of clarity overcame him; what many outside this space considered would be the final straw for Trump among his party. But to Christie’s dismay, his party kept defending Trump, making excuses for him, perpetuating his gambit to lie that he actually won an election he was pummeled in by nearly eight million votes – yeah, that’s the ticket, I won, not lost, and it was stolen, like the popular vote in 2016, yeah, stolen!

Christie, who had eaten more of Trump’s shit than anyone thought humanly possible, couldn’t stomach that, so he began extricating himself from his former sins, admitted he fucked up, that he now realized that Trump was evil and stupid and hated America and democracy and treated the country like all his failed private businesses. He was likely to run again in 2024 and he had to be stopped.

Christie, mostly a poser phony jackass who sucked at governor, is here to make some noise.

Some months ago, despite no ideological lane or foreseeable constituency, Christie announced his bid for the presidency. Throwing his hat in the 2024 race seemed silly. Ron DeSantis, humiliated governor of Florida, was poised for coronation should Donald Trump implode, which he most assuredly would, and there was several (turns out four) investigations that were to end up with Trump and his cronies indicted for the 2020 and 2021 shenanigans to take down the federal government and piss on the will of the voters. DeSantis was next up! What the hell was Chris Christie doing, exactly? He’s not MAGA, he’s not a culture warrior decrying “Wokism.” He wasn’t even a former cable news commentator. He’d retired back to Jersey. Out of the game.

But wait…

Ron DeSantis sucks. He is broke and has shed twenty poll points since the moment anyone outside of the sinkhole of Florida heard him utter a word. There is no more second place, just a giant hole where once stood an empty suit. So, Christie decided to do what DeSantis could not; he became Donald Trump’s troll under the bridge to the former president’s unwitting Billy Goat Bluff: Tormenting him on social media, taking to news shows and fake news shows, legitimate press and the goofy right-wing echo chamber of horrors. Trump’s a loser, he said. Trump’s a liar, he cried. He’ll sink us all – Republicans, Independents, Democrats. He must be stopped!

At first, again, this seemed silly. What’s the end game, to merely trip Trump up? Name calling and verbal fisticuffs have greatly assisted in faking the gullible unread and unwashed from believing Trump is good at debate. He is not. My fifteen-year-old-daughter would eviscerate Donald Trump in a debate. I might even feel bad for him. But Christie said he was in it to win it and suddenly he is tied with the fumbling DeSantis for second in New Hampshire and gaining in Iowa for primary positions he had no business sniffing in the spring.

And his only platform is taking Trump down. He says a few things about President Biden but considering the economy humming at a record rate and the bogeyman inflation cut from nine percent a year ago to three percent currently and all-time lows in non-wartime unemployment, and not really being into the Hunter Biden sweepstakes, that’s all Christie has got. And he does not mind playing the kamikaze. Republicans don’t want him, but that has not stopped Trump’s corpulent pit bull from gnawing at his shinbone day after day.

And now with only a week to go before Trump surrenders himself to yet another district indicting him – mugshots to come! – and a debate stage he will skip, because what’s the point? He’s forty points ahead of anyone close to him and apparently no one in this field beside Christie wants to take him on. (My daughter is busy with Minecraft). One guy said he’ll pardon him if elected to an office Trump wants, and if this idiot were within twenty points of the Donald, he would call him every racist name in the book.

And so, Christie, mostly a poser phony jackass who sucked at governor, is here to make some noise. We do that in New Jersey. And it is rarely pleasant.

Let’s see how far this noise goes.

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