Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Aquarian Weekly 3/9/11 REALITY CHECK


You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before. -Rahm Emanuel, November, 2008


It is the word of the year. It was the word last year. Everything from the price of wheat and oil and fabric and milk shifts on it. The national debt kills it. Political achievement depends on it. Tax laws hang on it. Whether or not the recession is truly over is incumbent on it. So it’s a fairly important word for 2011. Hell, the unemployment rate has already gained jobs for some and cost others. It’s created new ones and eliminated more than a few. Some are coming back. Some, well, might come back, but who knows?

Fight For Madison $But a job isn’t merely a word that is defined in Webster’s as “to carry out occasional pieces of work for hire” or “to carry out public business for private gain”. It tends to define humans. These humans usually call these “occasional pieces of work for hire” a career. In this country, the home of the mostly free and rarely brave, a good deal of humans hang dreams on them. With age, those dreams shift from Ruler of the Universe to freelance writer, but still carry some psychological weight. Some.

And so jobs may act as a socio-economic-political fulcrum, while also appearing as the sense, purpose and worth of a person. Many times these two crucial aspects of jobs don’t meet. That’s fine. It’s life. It’s tough and disappointing and messy. But one thing that is a constant with jobs is money; how much an entity is willing to pay for it and what its value is to the individual who may be carrying out “business for private gain”; the operative word there being “gain.”

Since the year began, it’s been jobs, jobs, jobs. It hangs over the daily proceedings as threatening storm clouds. It has dominated public discourse and caused all kinds of movements around here. Then we see people running amok in Egypt and Libya and other repressed, broke nations with high unemployment and a crashing currency, and we think, “Heck, that’s what a crippling lack of jobs, jobs, jobs can do to society, huh?”

It’s a sober view of this economic fallout most of the world is enduring, which the United States has duly suffered. Although we love to whine, things aren’t as bad as they could have been or might have been in the autumn of 2008 when the illusionary sphere of finance looked to be held together by lunatics and criminals; the two elements of civilization that will nearly always find a cozy place around money.

The past few weeks in Wisconsin, the “idea” of jobs has clashed to a high level of repute. The governor, a Republican “business” pawn, who has cleverly used his state’s over-bloated budget to crush civil workers’ unions, has literally put “jobs” on trial. By so doing, no matter his motive or masters or general wavering opinion from the Right or Left, he is serving his state’s taxpayers, the majority of which voted him in on this very platform. Governor Scott Walker desperately attempts to tear at the fabric of his political enemies, or simply put a major financial windfall for Democrats, as he outwardly pronounces the noble duty of extracting his state from going California falls under his job title.

Where was my guidance councilor on that one?

It’s a tough job, governor, as is any elected official whose ideology subsequently lands him/her the financial support needed to attain that job. Unions are a huge assistance to Mr. Walker’s ideological opponents and enemies to his sugar daddies. The financial crisis has given him the moment and leverage to pounce. Backlash, furor, protests, and shifting support from the nation can hardly be the issue. He has a job and he is doing it as he sees fit. As stated, it is a tough one.

But I argue it is not nearly as tough as teacher. Holy shit. Anyone going on television or writing about how cushy teachers have it, with their big compensation packages and three months off a year, are sadly misguided. I have spoken to children of all ages, from middle school through high school and colleges, usually as a welcomed guest and not a servant of the state, and I can honestly tell you after one hour of this I need seven belts and fourteen hours of sleep.

Teaching is thankless and horrible and your children are damaged and weird and unruly and frightening and dealing with that gaggle of misfits on a daily basis with wholly unrealistic expectations to produce societal robots for a dying workforce, while stamping out artistic expression and original thought, is an excruciatingly difficult task. Now, whether they unionize and have better benefits than the private sector and who pays for what can be debated, but hell, if I have to teach, I want big money, jack.

Therefore, I offer as a public service, a far better job than governor or teacher: Charlie Sheen. I like that job. And I support his successful run at being Charlie Sheen. Oh, sure he’s a celebrity and I guess an actor, if people still act on television, not to mention champion drug fiend, but mostly he is Charlie Sheen. Quality chemicals, dysfunctional living arrangements, countless network feeds to expound anti-social, radical notions and millions in the bank? Fuck governance and molding the youth, Charlie Sheen is the way to go.

Where was my guidance councilor on that one?

“Mr. Campion, do you have any idea what you’d like to do with your life?”

“Big bank account, high-class hookers, stacked bar, fast cars, and a general lawless existence, please.”

“Oh, you’ll need to have a father whose already successful in the field of entertainment or politics, and then you can get nepotism gigs, party until you drop, and even become president.”

“Sign me up.”

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

“The King’s Speech” vs. “Social Network”

Aquarian Weekly 3/2/11 REALITY CHECK

ANGLO-AMERICA ON PARADE “The King’s Speech & “The Social Network” in Oscars Contrast

By the time this goes to press it is likely one of the two films we’ll discuss here will have won the Academy Award for Best Picture; “The King’s Speech” or “The Social Network”. Granted, many outside of Hollywood could not give a pack of flying farts, nor do we, particularly. Although the Oscars is the only award show worth watching, an annual fury of unchecked wagering (some larger than others) on the outcomes of Best Costume, Most Likely to Gaffer or some such. My wife is always surprised when I pick six or seven in a row, citing corporate politics and the inner machinations of the studio culture — who is owed what and why someone like say Martin Scorsese can be repeatedly ignored after directing an unmatched string of brilliant, culture-defining films and then win for a piece of shit like “The Departed”.

The King's SpeechIt is also an opportune time for me to ratchet up a healthy dose of rage for less dire activities, which has happened on several occasions, not the least of which surrounded the defeat of “E.T.” at the hands of “Gandhi” in 1982, when as an apoplectic college student drunk on a dozen Genesee Cream Ales I went off the rails and took on half a dorm room of activists.

However, we’re not here to merely discuss Oscar mistakes, but use the timing to discuss two extremely important, if not disparate films, as a consequence of their place of origin and the revealing aspects of their cultures.

Aside from three-word titles beginning with “The”, there is nothing about either “The King’s Speech” or “The Social Network” that could be compared. The contrasts however are stark and provide ample insight into the general milieu of which they depict. There is also the interesting inside game of how the awards culture may view the films around the events of its times.

For a good example, one could cite the 1976 Best Picture that the experts had all-but handed to “All The President’s Men” for its timely pertinence to the fall-out of Watergate, et al. Judging from the preponderance of left-leaning, Nixon-despising voters, it appeared to the odds makers as a no-brainer. However, it was the individualist, rags-to-riches feel-good “Rocky” that took the prize, celebrating the nation’s bicentennial in style; erasing our horrors by pasting over it with goose-bumped fantasy.

This, of course, was the polar opposite of the old-fashioned childhood fairy tale of “E.T.” being dumped in favor of the solemn epic of political strife in “Gandhi” two-years into the Reagan era. This made the 1998 Oscars a tough call as the brutal WWII odyssey magnificently told in “Saving Private Ryan” was beaten by the wryly poignant “Shakespeare in Love”. Go figure.

This year “The King’s Speech”, a superb tale of overcoming a stigma, both physical and metaphorical, set against the backdrop of a Europe at war, has rightfully been the talk of the odds circuit. As timing is everything in handicapping these things, “King’s” recent release last month helps the cause. The press has been kind and the performances, specifically Colin Firth as the self-flagellating, reluctant King of England, George VI, whose infamous stammer threatens to victimize an empire, are certainly worthy. “The Social Network”, released in early October of last year, initially fell into “perfect timing” in the “awards season” brief, but has lagged in the shadow of “King’s” since the new year. But just in the nick of time, the more recent uprisings in the Middle East, more to the point, Egypt has brought the subject of Facebook and social media in general to the fore. And while “King’s” deals with a time of enormous upheaval and greatness overcoming peril both on a personal and national level, the charming/alarming story of Harvard computer geeks on an inebriated vengeance kick exploding into a billion dollar culture shift now trumps it. However, here comes another royal wedding, so…

There is nothing subtle in the way these films showcase their cultures.

Ultimately, though, and what I actually set out to dissect this week, is the glaring introspection of stereotypes set in these films’ environments that make for an interesting stand-off at Oscar time; an echo of the British sense of deportment, image and overt social roles versus the infinite American scuffle for fame, riches and personal victory.

Let’s face it, without having to issue a spoiler alert “The King’s Speech” is eminently English in every way, and not just its setting, cast, and history. It reeks of a sense of duty to a greater cause, the respect (obsession) with both visible and hinted caste systems, the tethered subjugation of personal safety for an expected task, and the explicit role of gender in a habitually repressed society. The setting and its environs ignite the patrician tension and the subsequent English charm. Without the cultural boundaries and royal expectations, as well as the pressure set upon the mid-twentieth century man, or the male figure seen as an effective father figure, leader, or functioning testosterone machine, especially when confronted by an outside aggressor, we have the story of a whiny dink with a speech impediment.

Now line that up against the world of “The Social Network” and it’s as if we are watching a different species, much less a different culture; as the characters — youthful, defiant, slyly disingenuous and voraciously creative — work on a sub-level of society, actually going as far as to circumvent, manipulate, and eventually obliterate it. “Social” is uniquely an American film, or at the very least a heaping slice of Americana; with characters exhibiting a feral level of competition, utilizing ingenuity as an act of revenge, and once the cash comes in, unleashing a relentless back-stabbing free-for-all.

“The Social Network”, as “The King’s Speech” on the other end of the pond speaks of the image and scope of power, could only be about the power grab in the American experience; substitute Mark Zuckerberg, played with an understated kind of robotic myopia by the young, talented, Jesse Eisenberg, with say Thomas Edison and you’ve got the American Experience and everything that results from it; power, celebrity, riches. Oh, and also backlash, fall-out and comeuppance.

There is nothing subtle in the way these films showcase their cultures. For instance, the use of references and soundtracks; Shakespeare is routinely quoted and classical music beautifully layered in “King’s” and a bevy of fast-talked, tech-driven jargon and strategically placed hip hop/rock colors “Social”. At the end of each film, the melancholia of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony in “King’s” expertly balances the tortured protagonist’s final triumph and The Beatles “Baby You’re a Rich Man” underlines the main character’s ivory tower isolation at the epilogue of “Social”; both as equally gripping as they are forcefully incongruent.

Both stories are about men, one a middle-aged product of societal station, the other a boy, using wit, skill and aggressive battle tactics to overcome the very same prejudices that make the former character in “King’s”, well, a king. Even their women respond accordingly to their environments, “King’s” mothering queen engineering the action, ably played by the gorgeous Helena Bonham Carter, and the parade of young women, opportunistic, manipulative and sometimes outright mad, which come in and out of “Social”.

Finally, we have the supporting male characters, which act as confidants and spiritual guides in both films. The stalwart, Geoffrey Rush, who plays therapist, Sherpa, and buddy to the king in his time of crisis and the new comer, Justin Timberlake, whose slick-talking, coke-addled contrivances, pull the golden goose inside out. The Englishman, refined, if not middle class, a patriarchal substitute, and the American, a rebellious, capitalist rogue, a kindred spirit. It matters little the personalities or their methods, because both main characters do just fine in the end. Well…?

So who will win? Hey, by the time many read this, you’ll know. But, as in the tertiary awards; Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Roles, Director, etc, don’t look for the voters to provide a hint where they believe the audience or the artists are in terms of sentiment, acceptance or comfort. For certain, both films have done well and gotten the lion’s share of rave reviews; American and British.


Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Government Shutdown 2011

Aquarian Weekly 2/23/11 REALITY CHECK

WHILE YOU’RE AWAY Tips For A Pending Federal Government Shutdown

The shit is coming down. – Georgetown at Shelly’s Back Room, Washington D.C. – November 7, 1995

It is nostalgia time in The District this week as the Reality Check News & Information Desk unveils “alternative” plans (schemes) to successfully piggyback a 2011 federal government shutdown confirmed by our sources, several of them tanked on numerous and varied cocktails and thus kind (stupid) enough to reveal to a pack of beer-addled reporters late Friday. This is what happens when we take this operation on the road — and not for a whisk down memory lane, as was the case this past December when I was ushered into town by my brothers-in-law for a long weekend of measured debauchery. John BoehnerThis time we planted our ears to the ground, displaying a fairly (shockingly) sober attitude. This was bad news for the loose lipped and good fortune for those with the whirring digital recorders at the ready to flip it into journalism.

Word is now that a complete federal government shutdown is more than a threat. It is imminent, and with a far more stinging result than in ’95 when the above infamous quote from a long-lost friend and colleague was correctly predicted. Apparently a Democrat in the White House and a Republican turnover in congress results in a system seizure. The last Republican revolution rapidly turned things into the New Gingrich/Bill Clinton follies, but nowadays we’re deep into a damaged economy, a bottomless war culture, a fractured Republican base, and an aggressively liberal president wounded by what has turned into his legislative Iran/Contra over-reach in the unconstitutionally mandated federal health care laws.

Place this beside the growing national backlash over a corporate lackey governor of Wisconsin trying to crush the over-compensated bloat of the state worker union’s collective bargaining powers, and it neatly puts the “hard-choices” mantra of the new year into light.

The same jack-asses who were waving Don’t Tread On Me flags to slash the power and scope of the federal government have broken them out to keep the state entitlements coming. As predictable an occurrence as possible has put many on the Left in a feisty mood, something beaten out of them by a round pummeling last November, The same week the hardcore TEA Party types on Capitol Hill were able to shed dismal light on the speaker of the house, who was caught ceremoniously dumping his “cut the budget at all costs” rhetoric to back a needless Pentagon expense because it benefited his hometown coffers. This crap appeared on the heels of his “let them eat cake” moment when he dismissed the hundreds of jobs he aims to eliminate at the federal level with a blithe “So be it”.

Hypocrisy and vengeance, the precious fulcrums of government, are once again in the air, and we the people, as usual, are powerless to stop it.

Hypocrisy and vengeance, the precious fulcrums of government, are once again in the air, and we the people, as usual, are powerless to stop it. But fear not, as our loving parents would say, and whatever queer tomes of vapid self-esteem nonsense motivated them to do so; “When you are handed lemons, whip up some lemonade”. Or as we like to say here; NEVER SURRENDER. Isn’t that what this damnable space has been whining about all these years? Hell yes! And it is with that rugged American spirit of forging ahead that we offer the following survival guide to the looming federal government shutdown.

Firstly, if the federal government enters a forced hiatus, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will go dark. If you cannot extrapolate a stream of good times from this, you’re not paying attention. There’s a recession on and people are in dire need of questionably legal forms of mind-numbing substances and outrageously potent instruments of random violence. This is nirvana for those eager to return to the time of our forefathers, and what better way? We suggest none.

In addition to free reign on unchecked rage fueled by inebriation is the halt in border patrol. This will add to our fun by the unfettered load-in of imported recreational drugs, easing the Mexican cartels’ murder spree. Consider it a holiday, allowing even blood enemies to put hostilities on hold for a chance of share hassle-free windfalls.

Where to exhibit our new-found freedoms from restraint; how about the entirety of our nation’s parks when the National Park Service closes shop? If you think nightly video footage from a frenzied Cairo was entertaining, you wait. While on a roll, we propose there be a run on national monuments and museums — and by run, you know, a safe and responsible run, or as safe and responsible as gun-toting, heavily medicated boozers can muster. Things are so mellow in Arizona these days, they will be happy to welcome a surge of lunacy to the Grand Canyon, as in ’95 when angry tourists were turned away for the first time in 76 years.

Oh, and a federal government break will put a hold on freeloading do-overs, as all bankruptcy cases will be suspended. This will offset the delaying of delinquent child-support cases. Kids eat enough, at least according to the first lady.

Finally, we can all exhale confidently as the war funding will dry up and we can stop the madness for good. Not bad after the Democrats ran on and then reneged to fund the perpetuation of it five years ago. Hey, you may ask; didn’t this asshole decry the Egyptian revolution as anarchy just two short weeks ago and now he’s advocating anarchy here at home? Sure, and the irony is not lost on me. However, since we work on a federalist system, I am sure our wild abandon will be curtailed by local law enforcement officials and other buzz kill organizations. We merely offer a cogent response to the abandonment of our mamma leash to the whims of the political animal we’re asked to tame every two years in our voting booths. If we’re going to take it to the streets, we may as well have some laughs.

After all, the shit is coming down.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Rand Paul: The Tea Party Man

Aquarian Weekly 2/16/11 REALITY CHECK

THE TEA PARTY MAN Rand Paul’s Maverick Battle For The New Right

Rand Paul is a dangerous man. The thing is it’s difficult to tell whether the Freshman Senator from Kentucky is more dangerous to the Left or the Right. Inarguably, he is dangerous to The System, for if nothing else he isn’t screwing around. He means to slash and dash the federal government by tying its purse strings and thus shrink it way past anything Ronald Reagan ever dreamed. The Gipper, like all poser fiscal conservatives, especially the newly minted Republican legislators, had not seen anything like Rand Paul. Certainly those who disingenuously rode the wave of the Tea Party angst won’t be able to stand idly by and allow this man to begin chipping away at policy with a zealot vehemence that would make Newt Gingrich look like a welfare freak. And although Democrats may casually dismiss him as a libertarian nut, they will also have public relations issues with a coyote sniffing around their usually manageable hen house.

Rand PaulApparently Rand Paul wasn’t merely piggybacking the anti-government groundswell of 2010. He was damned serious. And now that 2011 begins with him on the inside, he’s going to stand on principle, at least for the time being. This is nothing Republicans want to hear, fearing another 1995 disaster when a landslide of GOP support went sideways fast. Soon Big Bill Clinton was being sworn in again. Running through the halls of congress with an economic battle axe runs counterpoint to what the Republicans have in mind; take a lot of useless congressional votes, blame the Democratic-controlled Senate for their failures, and subsequently get rid of Barack Obama so they can go back to running up the debt on some other asinine war or massive Medicare handout.

On the heels of his newly formed $500 billion budget-gutting bill proposal that the Wall Street Journal calls “modest” and the New York Times deemed “ludicrous”, Paul has gone through the cable news circuit heralding his unflinching agenda. Apparently willing to put his immutable principles to the test with a vote, Paul has wasted no time carving out his own spot on Capitol Hill

And if he has to, Paul will go it alone.

For instance, on February 3, Paul was the lone dissenter against a bill that would outlaw citizens from aiming laser pointers at aircrafts. This is akin to an innocuous “no torturing puppies” piece of legislation. But Paul was opposed, agreeing it a sound safety issue but also pointing out that many states already have such laws on the books and should decide for themselves on the length and breadth of the “regulation”. This of course parallels Paul’s intellectual argument against certain aspects of the 1964 Civil Rights bill that became something of a public embarrassment for him during his campaign. After the obligatory backlash, Paul eased up on his original disagreement that any private enterprise be forced to comply with federal laws to serve patrons it felt unfit for service, namely African Americans.

Although months ago we dissected the issue as a goofy professorial discussion on States vs. Federal rights and not blatant racism, there seemed to be a disconnect with Paul’s ability to distinguish between core philosophy and plain governance.

To Paul, people seem to muck up the works with their silly needs and messy gray area interpretations. This kind of character tends to scare the hell out of professional politicians, happy to skip around the edges and pay lip service to facts.

You see, Paul is a wonk, a geek, a stat nerd with nary the bombastic personality of a Gingrich or the plastic charm of a Reagan. He comes on as a robot, unwilling to deal in emotional or endearing aspects of issues. It is numbers; deficits, surpluses and how to best control them that moves Rand Paul. To Paul, people seem to muck up the works with their silly needs and messy gray area interpretations. This kind of character tends to scare the hell out of professional politicians, happy to skip around the edges and pay lip service to facts. It is never about where your tax dollars are spent for Rand Paul, only the reasons to spend it. And he sees very little reason to spend it anywhere.

It is this no-nonsense dedication to reducing the power and expanse of the federal government that Paul brings his $500 billion plan to congress. With proposed cuts to the Departments of Agriculture and Transportation removing $42 billion and further reductions to the Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development of approximately $50 billion each, the bill also includes removing education from the federal government’s jurisdiction, allegedly creating an almost $80 billion in cuts.

As predictable as it is that a fiscal conservative would choose to beat on Agriculture, Energy, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, Paul doesn’t stop there, proving his libertarian mettle and that he’ll not renege on reducing government ala Regan and the last Republican president or even the Gingrich Republicans of a generation ago. Paul’s bill takes aim at the usual Republican spend-thrift strongholds like international aid, Homeland Security and the Defense Department.

In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal this week, Paul emphatically stated his desire to cut “wasteful spending” at the Pentagon. “Since 2001, our annual defense budget has increased nearly 120%” writes Paul. “Even subtracting the costs of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, spending is up 67%. These levels of spending are unjustifiable and unsustainable.”

Balls. That’s what it takes to go where Paul is going, where no one elected to congress as a member of either party has gone in our lifetimes.

But even Rand Paul’s balls have their limits. His proposed $500 billion in cuts, which he stoically calls “just getting started”, would keep 85 percent of the federal government churning out the entitlements; namely Social Security or Medicare.

Not even a true maverick like Paul would dare touch the untouchable, but Rome was not taken down in a day.

It is unlikely Rand Paul will get any of this past the committee stage; much less a vote in the House or the Senate, but it will be worth watching. His stand will be also worth discussing in the coming year as the initial grass roots tremors against government spending and tax issues fade into what is sure to be the expected “Patience is a Virtue” pitch the Republican-controlled House will hide behind. It appears as if Paul will stand virtually alone against the raising of the debt ceiling, which is approaching rapidly.

That’s when we’ll find out where Paul’s enemies reside; Left or Right.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Egyptian Experiment In Anarchy

Aquarian Weekly 2/9/11 REALITY CHECK

CAIRO: EGYPTIAN EXPERIMENT IN ANARCHY Human Rights, Crude Oil & The Jeffersonian Con

When I first began penning this column in the late-1990s’ there seemed to be a spate American anarchist movements. A few whose thoughts were given voice and then viciously impugned in this space are the American Revolutionary Vanguard (last heard from in 2005), North American Anarchist Movement (last seen in 2002), and the Independent Institute (petered out in 2000). And those were just three that had an Internet presence. Oh, there were more, trust me. And I heard from many. Then the Patriot Act kicked in and the fun was over. Anarchy was out. Or at least stamped out by Big Brother. Just as well, it was an insipidly impractical solution for whatever ails, coming from the far Left or the far Right. No one likes to keep 24-hour vigil at the homestead to keep it from being looted or burned to the ground. Oh, and running water and ample electricity are commodities too precious to dump on account of political fervor.

Egyptian ProtestorsLast summer when the Tea Party enthusiasts started to contact us, we made our way to several events; even spoke at one, with much of the same detached irony that borders on contempt displayed here weekly. Not sure what they expected, but it’s what they got. In spades. Hey, you ask a wise ass to your silly gathering, you get one — a beggar’s version of Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes with less moaning and more booing.

But belly-up anarchist movements and our exploits in addressing pseudo revolutionaries are a mere detour to a more sober discussion on what is going on in Cairo, Egypt right now, which is a bonafide uprising and mere hours (at the time of this writing) from hard core anarchy. As American-made tear gas reigns down on what is coming up on two weeks of street mayhem, there is a certain by-the-hour sense of news shifting like desert sand in a storm. No one has a fucking scintilla of an idea where it will blow next and everyone’s fortunes are at stake. This makes for news. And in a world filled with crap that passes for fact and dung filling in the commentary spaces, this is the real deal.

It is a far more serious, less intellectual and even less-so emotional glimpse into pure desperation going on in Egypt right now. It is dissimilar to what went down in Iran two years ago, mainly because it is wholly economic and not in the least anti-theocratic. That botched mutiny was mostly youth-related. Like many of the failed communal counter-culture blips of the 1960s, it tanked. This will happen when enthusiasm over tyrannical religious rule is your only fuel. Money is a different animal. State-strangling corruption leads to economic strife, which then leads to a failure to feed the kids and keep the heat on. This is what we have unfolding on our television sets.

Egypt’s “democratic” state, supported with a stream of U.S. funds only out-matched by Israel, has hit the wall. It is democratic in name only and fails to even resemble our half-baked republic. Truth be told, and now it is being told, Egypt is more or less a crude-oil based dictatorship masquerading as a democracy to bolster the West’s energy’s concerns and act as a buttress against another 1967 all-out war with Israel. This charade has gone on for thirty years under the rule of a reality-compromised “president”, who has enjoyed American funds, weapons and protection for keeping the oilrigs flowing after Anwar Sadat was gunned down in 1981. This gained him unwavering support over the course of now five American presidents and was especially significant in the wake of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, when another U.S. pawn dictator was sent packing.

One of our few staunchly Arab-run allies is on the brink of total ruin. And go figure; after we’ve spent a decade jamming our big nose into Middle East business with goofy eighth-grade level pipe dreams of democracy and McDonalds for all.

In the course of this all-out revolt, our man has morphed seamlessly from stern leader to soothing orator to conciliatory speechmaker to placating sad sack. This was all starkly illustrated as he casually announced he wouldn’t run for re-election as the capitol of his country was being burned to the ground. A more delusional response is hard to conjure.

But the hallucinations of Hosni Mubarak are hardly at issue here. The main crux of the matter in Cairo is how the United States, Saudi Arabia, OPEC and Israel will deal with the fallout. And there will soon be fallout, because as the country stands on the brink of military lockdown, there will only be anarchy left. And within it, there comes a vacuum. And that vacuum breeds uncertainty. And if there is one place uncertainty cannot be allowed to endure for the oil industry or its bitch, America, it is Egypt. Of course the Saudis have been whistling past the graveyard for some time, but let’s face it, kids; if Saudi Arabia goes its electric cars and solar panels for everyone.

Seeing Egypt in flames has taken the heart out of our secretary of state. Hillary Clinton has changed her stance on this nightmare so many times there isn’t any point to it anymore. The United States, if the White House is any indication, has only one play here — appear as if we’re for freedom and the people and then get some new puppet asshole in there to patch up the works. We’re too close to closing shop in Iraq and winding down festivities in Afghanistan. The northeast is under mountains of snow and the airline and auto industries are on life support. This is no time for Egypt to descend into craziness.

One of our few staunchly Arab-run allies is on the brink of total ruin. And go figure; after we’ve spent a decade jamming our big nose into Middle East business with goofy eighth-grade level pipe dreams of democracy and McDonalds for all.

This is why as we go to press it is becoming obvious that whatever lip service Mubarak paid to his citizens, the hammer of violence would soon be succeeding it. Suddenly, after over a week of riots, looting and unlawful lunacy, with parked tanks as spectators, the pro-Mubarak vigilantes begin flailing machetes and heaving Malakoff cocktails into crowds of protestors. Of course, this makes things tough on his sponsor, the U.S. of A. We like our bankrolling of the rough stuff a little less public. First journalists get the beat down and then the cameras are turned off.

Call it revolution if you must, although a true revolution comes with some kind of leadership direction or manifesto or declaration of rights and basic post-fighting structural overview. Call it a conspiracy of the Muslim Brotherhood, although it is less likely than the laughable “9/11 was an inside job” paranoia. Or call it what it really is; anarchy.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

The Joe Cool Comeback Rally

Aquarian Weekly 2/2/11 REALITY CHECK

THE JOE COOL COMEBACK RALLY Inside Barack Obama’s State of the Union Call to Charm

We are poised for progress. -President Barack Obama 1/27/11

Listening to people who recently expanded the nation’s deficit by extending an unfunded tax law speak of deficits as the death of the human spirit and then applaud this nonsense giddily may be an abysmal way to spend a Tuesday night, but around here it’s go time. Around here, State of the Union addresses are required viewing, which is why it is far easier to stomach coming from someone of northern articulation than that of the smooth drawl of gooberism. Barack ObamaAlthough the illusions that somehow a post-Boomer progressive might throw off a few “legalize drugs” or “support gay marriage” promises or bag the useless bloat of Homeland Security and give up the ridiculous practice of Middle Eastern nation building have long been shattered, there remained a few interesting turns.

Shedding the non-interesting tones; that of the overtly Reaganesqe “Shining City on the Hill” Pollyanna – opportunity and creativity – or the JFK sing-song – sacrifice and co-operation, “America is not just a place on a map but a light to the world” – nestled boldly between the call to strengthen the nation’s standing in the global economy by not being “out-innovated, out-educated and out-built” lent an air of populism to the taken-to-the-woodshed lectern milieu.

Noting the more upbeat and even humorous if not glad-handing aspects of the interminably long address, the president of the United States took the opportunistic component of a State of the Union stage to reclaim his elected position as head honcho. Mere weeks after losing the House in a landslide, Barack Obama has found traction. First in his signing of the Bush Tax Cuts extension at the eleventh hour and then his rousing speech at the Tucson memorial services, both of which jacked his approval numbers to their highest in over a year, the president came across as cautiously confident.

The content, a laundry list of forward-thinking optimism – energy renewal, business ingenuity, workforce resourcefulness, private sector innovation and the always-gangbusting education – helped to ease down the medicine portion. Its most prescient moments replete with nods to a new generation of cyber jobs and international trade that likely scared the living shit out of the nearly ten percent of the country’s unemployed.

Again, none of this plowed any new field, with a few notable exceptions.

It is clear that the Democrats defeat in November has pushed the president further to the center with a sense that whatever had come in the previous two years would not do so with apology or reflection. Nowhere did Obama philosophically recall “mistakes” and postured “learned moments” that Bill Clinton offered in the wake of the Contract with America in early 1995. In fact, the president remained defiant against any talk of repealing his beloved Health Care Law, which was an easy victory lap considering the flaccid House-vote charade that preceded it. Nonetheless, there was conciliatory lip service paid to discretionary spending freezes and tough military jargon, and the key note to the recent campaign outrages; broader tax relief efforts for small business.

When the commander-in-chief says, “In South Korea, teachers are known as nation builders” it’s time for more crazy from Michele Bachmann.

An odd omission from the over one hour address was not even a puff of smoke blown towards gun control, specifically in the wake of the semi-automatic shooting of a congressperson on a street corner in broad daylight. And let’s face it; the Tucson/Gun Control connection is to liberalism what 9/11 was to neo-cons. It is the proverbial slam-dunk. Yet, not a peep. Its absence was as inauspicious as it was resounding.

And since the State of the Union is never a one-way affair, the Republican response by Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan may have been predictably terse as it was filled with doom and gloom, but paled in comparison to the creepy garbling coming from Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Much of the public-access-like production mocked verily in the press the following day was never the issue, but the mere fact that Bachman saw fit to speak at all on the part of a non-existent political entity, the apocryphal Tea Party, over and in some cases above the usually lone Republican rebuttal.

Bachmann is beginning to gain a fan base here. After nearly two hours of intellectual and ideological speechifying, a little crazy is applauded. She is a nut, but a nut with true grit. And there is always a place for crazy when we’re pushing midnight.

Still, this time around the State of the Union held a higher political order. This has been a rough twelve months for the president. But in defeat, he has registered a certified victory, an almost elegant backslap, unfurling a humbled exterior that was absent in his first two years in office. The Republicans are to thank for that. And when they abandon their principles to raise the debt ceiling in the months ahead, as the Democrats did in 2007 by funding a war they ran to halt, the chief officer of the republic will look ever more presidential.

Because somewhere along the line, the State of the Union address has become a television affair, this tribal media junket to retool agendas and sell weird theologies, just as party conventions have become hoorah showpieces to posture and pander. A call to arms, as much as this one pained to achieve, it was not. Not unlike the speaker of the House of Representatives posing as a marauder at the barricades on CNN the following evening to discuss the “broken congress”, when he has been a key member for sixteen years.

It is an act. Tired and pathetic, but nonetheless an act, which incidentally, painting education and career choices as a patriotic duty is as moronically passé as comparing Soviet space dominance to expanding broadband to the outskirts of Iowa.

When the commander-in-chief says, “In South Korea, teachers are known as nation builders” it’s time for more crazy from Michele Bachmann.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Echoes of Tucson

Aquarian Weekly 1/19/11 REALITY CHECK


The “what should be” never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no “what should be”, there is only what is. -Lenny Bruce

The Great American Experiment plods along, wounded again as it has and always will be by those whose sense of freedom goes beyond rational boundaries — beyond rhetoric or artistic expression or dissent — into the well-worn satchel of destruction. Our list of carnage is long and painful and following each is a backlash of panicked reasoning when in reality, as stated here over the past years, whether Gabrielle GiffordsColumbine or Oklahoma City or 9/11 or Virginia Tech or Fort Hood, it is merely a burp in the system. Now it’s Tucson. And despite the obvious fact we have another lunatic with a cache of weaponry firing indiscriminately at strangers in a crowd, there is a rush to find societal fault, bad wiring in the machinery, motivations and inspirations in politics, media, art forms. Hardly. It is once again the terrible price paid for a free society, one that we all ultimately choose to live within. Although precarious and predatory, it is theoretically free, and with it comes dangers. Many dangers

The only issue, as with the above incidents mentioned and the hundreds more before them, is the continued bad policy of assuaging grief by attempting to sanitize the results of what a free society may engender; greed, bigotry, irrational hatred, unchecked vanity cultural and economic envy, and my favorite, stupidity. All part of the human psyche allowed to roam relatively free within the parameters arbitrarily erected by elected officials, who most times create unjust laws or make the repeated mistake to place singular blame of human frailty on a word, a drug, a gun, a song, a cultural movement, a political statement or a religious belief.

Jared Loughner no more killed those people because of a toxic political environment or pseudo-macho imagery from the Sarah Palin web site than those who tried to build a Muslim Cultural Center in lower Manhattan was a direct offshoot or commentary on the horrors of 9/11. This is the way some people see it, or for the purposes of their belief system, may want it, but the reality of which does not exist. It only does so in their heads; the contents of which should never cause a restructure of our basic freedoms; to express individual thought, creativity, sexuality, personal faith, sensibilities, etc.

Long before there was a Reality Check New & Information Desk, the results of which are more or less unfurled here weekly, there has been the constant battle to understand why it becomes so easy for humans to deny the realities of their baser instincts in the veiled attempt to fashion in its place a more palatable fantasy. It is as if there is a rush to accept this universal illusion perpetuated to better ignore Lenny Bruce’s “what is” with a juvenile grab bag of “what should be”.

Forget about rolling the subject all the way back to the first book of the Bible, in which the authors dealt with the fundamental fear in humanity to endure the unfathomable irrationality of nature; the slithering snake in the perfect garden, the eternal sense of security shattered by the primal heart of darkness, and all that crap. Let’s merely delve into the past week, where predating the tragedy in Tucson, three particularly interesting incidents of “what should be” spat defiantly in the eye of “what is”.

Jared Loughner no more killed those people because of a toxic political environment or pseudo-macho imagery from the Sarah Palin web site than those who tried to build a Muslim Cultural Center in lower Manhattan was a direct offshoot or commentary on the horrors of 9/11.

Within days of each other there was the incredible story that NewSouth publishers would be releasing a sanitized version of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the rather auspicious reading aloud of the U.S. Constitution by the newly minted congress, and the insane faux celebrity of a homeless drunkard as some queer form of societal reclamation.

Firstly, NewSouth would literally be rewriting arguably the American literary masterpiece by this nation’s most original and rightfully lauded author. For whatever “what should be” reasons that would either send Mr. Clemens’ ghost writhing in abject rage or rolling about in unfettered laughter, it was apparently more important to cleanse the scarred era of slavery from the American psyche and ignore a pejorative invective to supplicate modern sensibilities.

It is bullshit, plain and simple. Beyond the gall one would have to dare manipulate the manuscript of a master so frivolously is enough of a resounding argument against this atrocity, but to easily overlook Twain’s brilliant satire on the casual dehumanization of a race long before the Emancipation Proclamation could be realized is tantamount to hallucination. There were actual news stories on how many times the offending word was used in the book as if this were some kind of litmus to its existence. A more damaging constraint on intellectual artillery against the evils of society is hard to imagine.

On the same day this idiocy was revealed, the 112th congress thought it cute to underline its objective in holding its governing standards on the priority of the Constitution by having its members each read aloud a portion of it, but thought it prudent to gloss over the flawed tenets on which this nation was founded; as in accepting certain humans as a fraction of their existence. It was also decided that the “what is” of women being denied the right to vote and the outlawing of liquor be expunged from the record, as if these never happened.

A day or so within these two pathetic attempts at trying to deny reality with heavy doses of “what should be”, a poor soul was filmed by a local television station in Ohio and splashed all over the Internet. The ensuing blitz of compassion cum media frenzy had the quite suddenly famous golden-voiced Ted Williams, sporting a rap sheet a mile long and a parade of children apparently unwilling to shelter, spiraling into the kind of oblivion that put him back in the place he had already ended up. Williams is the poster boy for “what should be”, given a host of voice-over gigs within hours of his appearance on the Today Show, and the obligatory skeletons beginning to paint the actual story of half-mad indigent whose cuddly exterior hardly fit with the grim reality of his crime-riddled drug addicted past.

And so a few days later, we had Jared Loughner firing weapons into a crowd at a political event and the chimes of backlash began to ring in the direction of the harsh rhetoric of a recent Right Wing political movement, sometimes stupidly referred to as “a revolution” and painted with the broad brush of fist-pumping, gun-toting oratory. Ironically, much of the same people who were quick to target one ideology as a direct result of irreparable damage were then accused of inspiring another. So, maybe it is fitting they were forced to answer for it, but it doesn’t make it “what is”, only a flimsy helping of the bitter end of “what should be”.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Congress Circa 112

Aquarian Weekly 1/12/11 REALITY CHECK


The business of America is business. -Calvin Coolidge

The 30th president of the United States was a horrible jackass with an incurable rash of brain warts and a queer brand of constructionist that ran a counterbalance to all known modes of reasoning. Calvin Coolidge was simply the worst Republican politician of the 20th century whose name was not Richard Milhouse Nixon. His ideas were roundly debunked within minutes of his injurious attempt at governance, the gory results of which fueled the greatest meltdown in modern capitalism. 112 CongressThis brought about a bastardized gargantuan liberal dream for the better part of a quarter century, also debunked as severe a suicidal fiasco as could possibly be fashioned by a modern soul not named Karl Marx. Only the third worst Republican president of the American Century could renew FDR’s New Deal spirit, in one G.W. Bush, who’s bungled two-term disaster put Barack Hussein Obama in the Oval Office and, with the eager assistance of a predominantly Democratic legislature, monitored the tripling of the national debt.

And so here come the denizens of Coolidge’s rancid dung heap; the corporate lackeys and scourge of the union thugs, the anti-environment, deregulation fanatical New Republicans, whose proposed mission is to “fix broken government” by dismantling its unchecked gluttony.

Of course this only happens on talk radio and Ayn Rand books, but in this government, the one the 112th congress and its hordes of freshmen enter with heads held high, it will be business as usual. Business being the operative word, since this will be the Business Congress or as it will be known for a short time before The System bogs down their lofty rhetoric and even loftier ambitions, The Laissez-faire Marauders.

Yes, but that will die as quickly a death as did the anti-war fervor that ushered in the 110th congress, which collectively talked trash about ceasing the two unfunded, ill-conceived, unwarranted foreign occupations, only to slink away four years later with both still raging and only a heap of dubious domestic spending to show for it. Neo-conservatism was out in ’06, broke and embarrassed under a siege of misappropriations, absent funds and scores of dead Americans for what was beginning to appear as a red herring, this strange and terrible ruse perpetuated on an angered and sandbagged public. Now it is half-baked liberal hubris sent packing under the guise of fiscal revolution and power to the people. Its architects run out of the capitol on a rail as their president’s approval numbers climb on the wings of a debt bloating extended tax cut.

The 110th congress galloped in high on the horse of transparency in government and a halt to the heaps of illegal shenanigans that doomed their previous Republican cohorts, only to engage in backroom dealings and rule-bending partisanship and whatever insane shit Charlie Rangel pulled. But now the 112th is here to “triumphantly return to open rules”, akin to the Bush Era being a new time for clean and respectable government after the nasty Clinton besmirching of the office, only to be awash in a parade of scandals from Scooter Libby to the unprecedented political house-cleaning of U.S. Attorneys.

If I were John Boehner, I too would be openly weeping.

The great Hunter S. Thompson once told me that there is only so much shit people will eat, but I disagree. I think a healthy gorging of dung is what makes penning this column each week so satisfying. Hell, it keeps us voting. Most importantly, it keeps the illusion of democracy alive and well in this the Chinese Century.

The last congress put the kibosh on Hope & Change, much as this one will be pissing on the TEA Party mirage, when “the will of the people” will be best served as hollow voices for another attempt at raping the business landscape with guiltless banshees masquerading as free market saints. Reminiscent of the gutted Fanny & Freddie bottomless pits which held the state’s manipulation of the market hostage, coupled with faceless bank gamblers who sold crap bonds for sure things and then bet against the house.

It is time to roll again, a Wild West show worthy of the last Wild West show and the one before that, more watered down free market malarkey prefabricated by The Gipper and the self-mutilating Contract With America.

Thirty-three hours into the New Guys came an immediate backtrack on the latest Pledge to America. Cutting $100 billion of government spending in the first year now becomes a “hypothetical cut”. Cut-As-You-Go bill proposals allowing for only budget slicing initiatives goes bye-bye with the showy House vote to repeal the Health Care Law, which according to the Congressional Budget Office would add $230 billion to the current national debt. And then there’s the all bills must have a clause in the U.S. Constitution giving it absolute authority scheme. However, of the initial three initiatives proposed by the 112th — cut the congressional budget, repeal the health care bill, and instruct House committees to present new health care legislation — none carry the aforementioned citation.

If I were John Boehner, I too would be openly weeping.

But who really thought any of this would change a thing? The closest this space came to buying any portion of this falderal was in 2008, when a new generation was supposed to carve out a true “progressive” approach to governing. Instead it was more goofy old-world big government kowtowing to party politics and then finger-pointing windbag gobbledygook draped in a “what’s good for us” palaver. It was wrong and defeatist and put the very notion of change on hiatus when the entirety of a Carter/Clinton redux marched into the president’s cabinet, not to mention tax frauds and hedge fund cheats in top finance positions, the whole shebang put on effective flat line notice today when William M. Daley (a fucking Chicago Daley of the Son of “beat on the hippies” Daleys) was named chief of staff, replacing the previous Chitown party-entrenched troll.

Anyone who has the balls to label yours truly a cynic after this recidivist crap needs to rub the fairy dust and red white & blue gook from their peepers and salute your commemorative Ollie North plate.

Happy New Year, indeed.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Citizen Health Care

Aquarian Weekly 12/29/10 REALITY CHECK


Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market. – Henry E. Hudson of the Federal District Court in Richmond, Virginia 12/13/10

The new year will begin for the federal government in the courts, where the Health Care Law, derisively dubbed Obamacare, will be deconstructed and hammered about, as it should be. The most sweeping piece of federal legislation in half a century will go the way of Social Security and the Civil Rights Act, both boldly and unabashedly unconstitutional, and both challenged vehemently through the court system. Washington & Whiskey RebellionIt is the way of the Patriot Act, also ridiculously unconstitutional, details of which were roundly defeated in every court it entered for close to a decade now. This is precisely why when many readers of this space accused me of not being more outraged in print over its passing, I continued to retort, as I have when discussing the Health Care Law, that if it is truly illegal, then someone somewhere will take it the judicial route and curtail the madness.

Ending the madness, historically speaking, is a tougher chore.

The federal government, as any entity, whether structured by humans or selected by nature, is to expand its power, even as it is checked and balanced and corralled by federalist parameters. Since the time of the Whiskey Rebellion during George Washington’s initial foray into the presidency to John Adams’ Alien Sedition Act, followed by the expansion of powers under Andrew Jackson and through Abe Lincoln’s Marshall Law, including decades of illegal conscription acts forcing young men to die against their will for the state, the New Deal, Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Watergate and Iran-Contra, and now Obamacare, this is business as usual.

Ironically, this time it is a spate of Republican support to use the “evil activist judicial system” as a tool to repeal Obama’s greatest political triumph. Both Judge Hudson and Virginia’s attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II (joining a predictable 19 of 20 attorneys general) are Republican. A more political uprising there couldn’t be, but it does not mean the motivation to challenge the law or the subsequent ruling is wrong. It is not.

Of course forcing citizens to buy something is unconstitutional, even under the aforementioned Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, giving congress all kinds of insane power to tax and shift infrastructure and kick you out of your home if a highway works better there. This was the conservative, libertarian and wholly out-of-step argument against forcing private business to serve minorities under the Civil Rights Act and mostly each step of the income tax boondoggle that has grown exponentially.

Hell, I have long argued that forcing drivers to purchase insurance in order to drive or even demand they be licensed is unconstitutional, as is setting speed limits and safety standards like seatbelts. These are complete and indisputable infringements on the freedoms to access a way of travel. The flimsy argument against mine is that no one needs to drive an automobile and that it is a privilege not a right. This is true, as it is something of a public service to keep the uninsured from running amok, causing those legally insured from having to monetarily rectify a situation born of “choice”. Someone may rightfully choose not to be insured, but what does the state do when that individual comes in direct contact with those who are responsibly insured?

The state, I maintain, should back off. Let us handle it. Free market.

I have always believed much like other frontiersman that it is every sucker for himself. Period. This is freedom. Screw safety, regulation and goddamn commerce. Screw your neighbor and fuck unjust laws. Freedom.

I have always believed much like other frontiersman that it is every sucker for himself. Period. This is freedom. Screw safety, regulation and goddamn commerce. Screw your neighbor and fuck unjust laws. Freedom.

‘Tis the season, after all.

Shit, never mind mere whiny modes of “public service”, matters of “health” have slowly but surely crept into the over-regulatory, behavioral arena for years now, from tobacco to alcohol taxes. Moreover, overreaching regulations on where one can imbibe to how much one can imbibe and what one can do when imbibing, which also runs into the questionably constitutional area of who the hell decides what is enough imbibing before operating an automobile. I can attest that tolerance is not a generality, but is treated as such. Or as I once soberly told a judge in a potential DWI jury duty jag I was summons to attend, I am a remarkably better and safer driver soused than jacked up on stress and caffeine while trying to juggle the morning paper, flip radio knobs and a operating a cell phone.

Why should the state or the government decide how much alcohol I can consume and not be able to operate a vehicle? It is specious and arbitrary and blatantly unconstitutional.

At least the Health Care Law, along with the other outlandishly restrictive laws dreamed up by congress over the decades, was debated, voted on and vetted through the press. The difference, if appears, that in the cases of The New Deal or Civil Rights there was a groundswell of public support, wherein hardly 40 percent of the electorate wanted anything to do with national health care. A good deal of those people drive drunk. Some are driving drunk right now.

‘Tis the season, after all.

How about when un-elected officials in say the FCC decide what music, television or art is considered indecent. Decency laws are always bullshit, like drug laws, whether marijuana or steroids, which were demonized by lobbies and later ignored by scientific fact and drawn into more unjust laws.

So good luck to the Common Wealth of Virginia and the harangue of politics, for most laws are unconstitutional; whether state or federal, fiduciary or moral.

Everyone for themselves.

‘Tis the season, after all.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

The Politics Of The Tax Cut

Aquarian Weekly 12/8/10 REALITY CHECK


The current posturing in Washington D.C. over the expiration of the “Bush Tax Cuts” is predictably reminiscent of what occurs when…well, you fill in the blank. Mitch McConnelThis latest lame duck congress has one option, extend the cuts, all the cuts, period. The time for discussing options has passed. Politically, it has been run out of town on the proverbial rail. The Democrats have nothing further relevant to add in the matter. That ship sailed with the Recovery Act and the Health Care bill. These moves were costly and created a vacuum for the opposition to piggyback the oldest protest in the books; taxation. Therefore, any further blather about whether this government will allow the entire shebang to go down is off the table.

Also off the table is the yammering about the national debt or the massive U.S. deficit. These are buzz words for campaign ads and canned speeches. No one, and we mean no one has the balls in this woeful economy to begin tightening strings and begging national sacrifice. It is as doomed a plan as it was when poor Jimmy Carter hatched it and any such notion would likely swing the electorate back to the president come 2012.

Debt mongering is suicide for the burgeoning Republican movement, which is half fabricated and a third hocus-pocus anyway. Republicans will have their own internal struggles come the inevitably necessary but ideologically embarrassing raising of the debt ceiling around springtime. That is when we’ll learn all we need to know about the smoke and mirrors TEA Party movement, which by all accounts was really something Dick Army and FOXNEWS dreamed up.

Now, lets deal in realities, albeit, limited realities.

The president and his recently eviscerated party has proposed raising the limit on whom would receive the benefits of a nada increase, from the originally proposed $250,000 a year to $1 million. Let that read from the merely affluent to the outright wealthy. It should be noted that the arbitrary $1 million mark ignores an interesting nugget; if one takes into to consideration the normal standard or living increases, $250,000 becomes over $350,000, and yet no one addresses this.

Erroneously repeated information is an American tradition. Just as we wink-wink still celebrate (and teach in schools by the way) Columbus, who actually crash landed in what is now the Bahamas, as some sort of discoverer of North America when the Vikings beat him by 400 years. The political voices keep repeating $250,000! $250.000! as if it’s real. Anyone taking two seconds to check what the standard of living was in 1993 when the pre-Bush, Clinton tax code was in effect would rightly translate it to the aforementioned $350.000.

But what do you expect from people who vote for and against a bill they didn’t read or understand (and still don’t, by that way) and then actually run for re-election on this pitiable stand?

Certainly the $250,000 vs. $1 million is class warfare, but this, like accepting and passing down myth as historical record, is nothing new. This country was built on class warfare, even the blatantly ill-informed dunderheads on cable television who bray endlessly about founding fathers can attest to that. The idea that the rich make the most from the American capitalist system and should thus pay more, despite the obvious fact that they already pay more by percentage (and we conspicuously exclude corporate entities that according to a widely publicized 2008 Government Accountability office study determined that from 1998 to 2005 67% of American corporations paid no Federal Income taxes) is an abject failure.

Letting the Bush Tax Cuts, much of which was never budgeted and were badly planned and bared little fruit, to lapse at this point would be an economic disaster and certainly stem the tide of GOP support and further erode any kind of political traction the Democrats could hope for.

The wealthy provide the jobs and investments needed to keep the country afloat, never mind moving in the direction of a recovery; this is agreed to by even those who moderately espouse more stringent government regulations on international trade, environmental issues and books cooking. The stabilization of the tax code is critical for this bracket, and although perhaps a roughly estimated eight percent of the national debt could begin to be slashed by a $1 million threshold effort, the damages could be severe in the short term.

And the short term is always the prime consideration in The District.

On the heels of an upheaval in the electorate last month and the very real continued national expenditures on the military occupation of two countries and a massive entitlement system that will never be broached by any politician interested in future employment, taxes cannot and will not be raised.

The political question is still out there; who benefits?

Right now Republicans have the popular talking points, despite the actual facts that middle class taxpayers had their greatest relief as part of the original stimulus package and the across-the-board marginal tax rate being generally lower under the Obama administration than at any time under anti-tax hero, Ronald Reagan, not to exclude the generally accepted fact among credible economists that the original Bush Tax Cuts sank job growth for the first two years of its existence.

Democrats, as is their wont, run scared. This time it is warranted. There is more than mere tax rates and class warfare on the docket. There are capitol gains, estate taxes, corporate taxes and certain marriage penalties and child deductions to consider; all of which are sticking points to the argument, which currently cannot be won by the party in power.

This is why at the time of this writing, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell headed up a Republican vow to block any new bills in congress unless the tax issue is resolved, making it appear as if the GOP and not Obama is answering the call of the American electorate. It also sets up a nice challenge to the White House to keep a government shutdown in the offing, an ill-fated tactic of Newt Gingrich’s “revolution” in 1994, which eventually ushered in Bill Clinton’s comeback two years later.

Letting the Bush Tax Cuts, much of which was never budgeted and were badly planned and bared little fruit, to lapse at this point would be an economic disaster and certainly stem the tide of GOP support and further erode any kind of political traction the Democrats could hope for. With a few weeks to go before the deadline and the Christmas break approaching, there is little choice but to extend them all. The only question for Washington will be at what political gain?


Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More