Andy Card We Hardly Knew Ye

Aquarian Weekly 4/5/06 REALITY CHECK


Goodbye DeadweightThus, we will begin the coronation on what has in recent years proven to be, if nothing else, an entertaining embarrassment: The Second Term. Seeing how second terms have not been kind to any president in my lifetime, to say I have every confidence it will end in disaster is to barely scratch the surface of the girlish excitement that rattles my bones. And those who didn’t live through Watergate, Iran-Contra, or may have forgotten the beauty of 15 months of Monica Lewinsky and Kenneth Starr, could not fully understand the opportunity it provides cynical old political junkies like myself. SECOND TERM MADNESS Captain Shoo-In Gets a Rousing Rubber Stamp (Issue: 11/12/06)

Andy Card is small potatoes. As Chief of Staff, he was impotent in this whole mess, and his sacking (resignation/firing/retirement) will be of small significance to any proposed “shake-up” the frightened Republicans on the Hill have been calling for. Seven months remain for the GOP to defend its power in Congress, seven months for this president to rise from the ashes as another second-term causality, and seven months for things to appear radically different before the hammer comes down and the wheels spin in the other direction.

History tells us it’s sooner than later, but I maintain, with redistricting and retirements and other unforeseen mishaps this summer, it will be nearly impossible for the Democrats to take back the legislative branch of this government and put the Bush Cabal up on trial, as fun and apt as all of that might seem. But it doesn’t mean the dents have not become irrevocably deep or there isn’t this one-way-street type of speed-addled careening out-of-control vibe that has taken hold in the Beltway now. Reversals are out in ’06. It’s time to stand in the fire and take it like champs.

People still basically like Bush, they just think he is a lousy president, like everyone around here loving former NY Jets coach, Herm Edwards. He was a funny guy, likable, the kind of chap you want over for a beer. He just couldn’t coach a football team worth a damn.

So this Reaganian dumping of the main staffer, Card, for damaged goods, budget director, Josh Bolten, doesn’t have the same resonance it once did. Donald Regan had the old man’s back, making calls, smoothing over the curious. He had to go. Iran-Contra was patently criminal. Wrong, for sure, but with a gargantuan heaping of corporate arrogance that ended up ceremoniously defecated on the Constitution. It was not lying about war, or reactionary John Wayne tactics, or the badly formulated war-hawk nonsense we have here. This is fucked, yeah. The sheen is off the apple, jack, but it ain’t enough bloodletting for yours truly.

A lot more people are going to have to go to jail for that to happen, and that is not going to happen. Not on this planet, smoky. Down here we lobby like a motherfuckers, provide the lip service, and then throw the mild mannered to the wolves. Good advice if you’re taking on water, can’t get the vehicle up to speed. Survival guide tactics; throw off the useless weight, and then, according to our boy president, the new baggage will be in charge of cleaning some more house.

According to former adviser to both Bushes, Mary Matlin, “The president’s given (Bolten) full license to remove or to recalibrate for the purposes of re-energizing and getting our mojo back.” Matlin went on to tell CBS News there would be more changes, but what that would do in regards to “changing any mojo”, she was not entirely certain.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told the Washington Post, Bolten “rides motorcycles” or some other insignificant claptrap, and that’s good enough for me. I’m used to it. It tickles me in the private places I enjoy. But where is the mojo, son? Gone hiking with the credibility sherpa and a parade of hungry huskies trying to get the hell out of here before the final shovel-full of dirt comes down?

Holy shit, that was way too many conflicting metaphors, even for this space. Ignore it. They’re only words, like mojo, or budget director or recalibrate. None of them have anything to do with the fallout that is The Second Term. They’re merely symptoms, like the media.

Ahhh, the ugliness has now hit home. It ain’t the media after all. We came late to the dance. We gave this gaggle of hubris-mongers a free pass, and now lookie here, it’s a goddamn gaffe and the approval ratings are Nixonian and Carteresque, and soon when the history comes due on this rampant disjoint generations will wonder who the hell was minding the store.

Look, Card had nothing to do with the run-up on Iraq or the fallout of Katrina or the Dubai extravaganza or the Medicare Bill that will soon reap the whirlwind of bankruptcy. He did not have his fingerprints on anything to do with sailing past the law of the land on wire-tapping the citizenry, which is likely to end in impeachment proceedings unless the Democrats are left out of the barn. And this country is not ready for any kind of reprimand or even censure of the commander in chief. People still basically like Bush, they just think he is a lousy president, like everyone around here loving former NY Jets coach, Herm Edwards. He was a funny guy, likable, the kind of chap you want over for a beer. He just couldn’t coach a football team worth a damn.

And speaking of sports farces, this whole cleaning house/infusing new blood stuff on Pennsylvania Avenue is as flaccid as Major League Baseball’s “investigation” into steroid use. What a joke this is. What are they investigating, something we already know? Too late, bub. Genie has left the bottle never to return. I have a good idea, let’s take away home run records and pennants and MVP awards, and let’s get all the owners to give back all the money these chemical spills brought in, then let’s run the commissioner out of town on a rail.

You know what this all is, you fans of politics and baseball? White noise. Muzak to relax yo mind and float downstream.

Tap your foot and get in step.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


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High School Tries President

Aquarian Weekly 3/22/06 REALITY CHECK

PRESIDENT ON TRIAL AT LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL Batten Down The Hatches, The Kids Are Taking Over

To be filed under the increasingly over-crowded Asinine Over-Hyped Paranoia heading this week, we have the case of a Parsippany High School 12th grade politics and government class under fire. The students, and their 37-year-old teacher, Joseph Kyle, are being vilified in the press, and the fast dwindling rah-rah home team Bush apologists for conducting a “hearing” on the “war crimes” of the president. Okay. So? What the hell is the problem here? People who defend Bush are offended? Descent American outraged? The very foundation of our democracy challenged?

This is a goddamn High School. If the Daily Record, a Morris County newspaper here in NJ, didn’t run the story, and the always-banal Drudge Report didn’t post it on the Internet, who would care? It’s an academic exercise, nothing more. No one is actually putting the president on trial for anything, and if they did – still a distinct possibility – it is unlikely to be run by teenagers.


Liberal bias among faculties of both college and high school run amok!

That’s the hue and cry from heavy breathers like Joe Scarborough, who has a Herculean enough effort filling 42 minutes of air time with his limited broadcasting skills, mawkish interviewing acumen, and overall grappling with articulation daily on MSNBC. This makes his desperate attempt at a personal crusade against using taxpayer money to brainwash children with liberal agendas understandable. It’s just not plausible.

The same teacher, into his ninth, and heretofore-uneventful year, at the school had a similar trial against Bill Clinton during his impeachment hearings at Montclair High School. Scarborough might remember Big Bill. He was president when the now talk show host was a member of the Gingrich Revolution. He might still be up on Capitol Hill wasting taxpayer money himself if he wasn’t such a dipshit.

So as Scarborough’s “guests” went haywire in the usual talking-head spurious clap-trap raid on sanity about how a high school is no place for this kind of anti-American blah, blah, blah, we decided to investigate further. Imagine that? Actually researching a subject before babbling like incontinent hyenas. I think I’m onto something here.

Upon further review, Kyle’s class is an advanced placement elective, wherein the general lesson plan is “to explore current events and foreign policy in an interactive way”. So it’s precisely the place for this type of progressive inquiry into the deeds and results of authority and government. The only item these nimrods on the Scarborough goober-fest can protest to is the class is not a propagandized blur-machine of patriotic nonsense. They have a point there. Other than that, they’re idiots.

The other rant that has permeated the outrage of this innocuous event, is that our taxes pay for this. Yes, and if you had any idea the utter wasteland that is the education system in this country, especially at the high school level, there could be trouble. But there isn’t much trouble, because you have no idea. And that’s good. Lord knows we do not need any violent uprisings now. The economy is fragile enough.

The least of our problems is that we pay for children to expand their minds on controversial subject matter, and, once again, I maintain that the damning of a president’s actions during war is not all that controversial. I defy you to name a president from Lincoln on down that did not commit some form of war crime. Then you might have a story. But you can’t, so don’t try. The bigger problems with our tax money being dumped into an education netherworld are a subject for another column. It does not belong here, other than to point out the absurdity of this counter-argument about school kids play-acting.

Enter the gutless hierarchy, as is the custom in media outcries. This week’s reactionary coward will be played by Parsippany-Troy Hills School District, interim superintendent, James Dwyer. Poor guy is interim. Talk about unlucky. Dwyer decided, logically, that playtime would continue, but a verdict by a “five teacher international court of justice” will not be rendered. Whatever the hell that is. In other words, let’s protect the system from goofy lawsuits or continued bashing by keeping the faculty out of it.

Well, that is a rousing endorsement for enlightened thinking, and standing by your principles, or principal, whatever the case may be. An excellent lesson for all young people: First sign of trouble make with the lip service. Every student should aspire to this kind of hedge betting. It’s the kind of gamble that lands the high rollers on the discount bus from Atlantic City, but does not engender faith of any kind in our educators.

Although I vaguely recall similar gutless weasels in high positions when I roamed the hallowed halls of state schooling. It brings back sweet memories. Mediocrity for all and all for mediocrity!

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Jane Siberry at Zankel Hall


Aquarian Weekly 3/22/06


New York, New York

Jane SiberryEmerging out of the winged shadows like a Beat diva from the fog of Warholian lore, accompanied by the strains of pre-recorded strings and the faint echo of birds, singer-songwriter, Jane Siberry settled into ninety minutes of free-form poetry, a cappella yearnings, an engagingly dry wit, and an eclectic spectrum of song styling which seemed oddly comfortable in the Broadway surroundings. As a storyteller, Siberry has few peers, as a poet she floats random association headfirst into a post-modern cul de sac, but as a songstress, and most chillingly, as a vocalist, she is one of the finest I have ever seen.

Alone on piano and acoustic guitar for most of the performance, Siberry deftly, almost too comfortably, commanded the auditorium as if she were literally born in mid-lyric. Her expression as art, body and soul is astounding to witness, as esoteric as a Sixties drifter and as elegant as a pre-war siren. Confronted by the sweet caress of the melodies, woven with dissonant jazz chords and vicious key changes, it is not hard to fit her songs, or her supple voice, into any era, any genre. Even the drawing of her breath pulses in key.

The intimate surroundings of Zankel Hall, and its rapt audience, framed the perfect canvas for the willowy Siberry, who demurely announced during several encores that she is championing a new way to sell her music: an on-line “self-determined” pricing of her 10-plus CD catalog, including live recordings. “I am restless to reduce the abyss between the audience and the artist,” she gleefully announced amid cheers.

The set, partially and beautifully, backed up by a quartet of violin, cello, French horn, and oboe, illustrated the point perfectly. Each song – strike that – each note was presented with the utmost care and attention to detail. The ensemble buoyed such goose-bump inducing numbers as “You Don’t Need”, “I Paddle My Canoe”, the wonderfully moving, “In My Dream”, and the brilliant, “Love is Everything”.

Siberry, the consummate composer with a unique reverence for the spoken word and a subtly to emote, adroitly eschews the pretension of the eccentric artist for the transparent minstrel: songs as parables, poems as mirrors.

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Asterisk Nation – Dan Bern

Aquarian Weekly 3/15/06 REALITY CHECK Guest Columnist – Dan Bern

ASTERISK NATION Look In The Mirror, It’s Barry Bonds

Barry BondsHaving already beaten this particular lifeless steed into oblivion some 13 months ago, almost to the day, I decided to place a call into the badlands and rile up my brother-in-arms, Dan Bern. The man this space affectionately anointed The Admiral some years ago has become my favorite songwriter, author of a damn fine book I helped fashion to some degree, and an award-winning sports columnist. But I didn’t call on him for any of those reasons. The man loves Barry Bonds. True love. Unconditional amore. Sick. Unwavering. Enviable.

This week Sports Illustrated printed excerpts from a book due later this month by San Francisco Chronicle scribes that details Bonds jacking himself with every known steroid to modern man for some seven years. This has caused a furor among baseball purists who want his miraculous 2001 single-season home run record of 73 to be stricken from the record, or, if possible, place an asterisk next to his name in the all-time list, of which Bonds is fast approaching number two with a bullet.

But for Bern, the SF Giants are his team, and Bonds, his man. He will follow both into the bowels of hell, an offer he once proffered to me after a night of too many in the desert. I might take him up on it some day. For now, he gets the floor.



So you want to put an asterisk after his name. Fine. Put an asterisk after his name. As long as his name’s still up there, put anything you want after it. Barry Bonds.* Or is it Barry Bonds*. Asterisk then period, or period then asterisk? I think the last one’s right. Asterisk then period.

Why does it have to be an asterisk? How about an ampersand? Barry Bonds&.

Barry Bonds%.

Barry Bonds@.

That looks pretty good. Barry Bonds@.

What did he do, really? Violate a drug policy that was never in effect? You know he looked at McGwire in ’98, with bovine calves, and figured, man. If that big ox can take whatever he’s taking and hit 70, what would a truly great player hit? Namely me? Barry Bonds^. Not bad.

Barry Bonds^, Rafael Palmeiro^ and Jose Canseco^.

How about the senators who led the grand inquisition? How about the Zoloft, Ativan, Prozac, Levitra in their veins when they’re legislating? Do they get asterisks, too?

John McCain*. Elizabeth Dole*. Tom Delay**:{&!

In fifteen years, when genetic engineering really gets going, steroids are going to look like Chicklets.

Where do we draw the line? What is not a performance-enhancing substance? Contact lenses? Double frappuccino? Viagra? Bee Pollen? Gatorade? One-a-Day? In fifteen years, when genetic engineering really gets going, steroids are going to look like Chicklets. And what about Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi’s kids? Isn’t that genetic engineering? Isn’t that a little unfair? Don’t those kids needs asterisks, too?

Barry Bonds#.

Barry Bonds$. Hmm. Maybe that’s too attractive. Everybody’s gonna want one. From here, the whole thing looks like Smoke Screen Central. War bad, economy bad, popularity numbers bad-how’s about a Steroid Scandal! Let’s get Bonds-no one likes him anyway! Let’s get him before he gets the home run record away from Ruth. What? Ruth doesn’t hold the record anymore? Who? Aaron? Well….at least he was a nice boy….

Barry Bonds+. Yeah. No kidding.

Barry Bonds=. Wow. Wonder what’s on the other side of that.

Barry Bonds;. Kinda cool. A semi-colon. You’re always stopping sentences, making them pause before they can continue. That Bonds;–he always makes you take a breath.

The Steroids Era. I can kinda buy it. Like the Dead Ball Era, the Ruth Era, the War Years.

The Steroids Era. 1986 (Canseco’s* Rookie Year) – 2004 (inclusive). The Steroids Era saw monstrous home run totals and equally monstrous physiques. The Steroids Era saw Brady Anderson* hit 50, Greg Vaughn* hit 50, Luis Gonzalez* hit 50. McGwire* hit 50 four years running, Sosa* hit 60 three out of four years. McGwire* hit 70 and Barry Bonds* hit 73. Ken Caminiti* died.

Maybe if I were trying to get the big guy out, I’d be more worked up about Bonds*. But from what I hear, a lot of the pitchers were juicing, too. The guys who were doing it invariably say, “It just maximizes my workouts. I recover faster.” Which is pretty much what the guys who take Vitamin C say. Of course, the guys who don’t take steroids (or who haven’t gotten caught) say other things: “He’s superhuman. His hat grew three sizes.”

Maximizing my workouts, assuming I’m working out, sounds pretty good to me. Heck, half the stuff, they advertise on the radio late at night. “Human growth hormone.” Wow. That sounds pretty good. Honey, can I get that? And The Cream and The Clear, can I get that too?

The Cream* and The Clear*. It sounds so, well, clear. They aren’t even pills. You just rub it on your skin. That sounds nice. Kind of like a nicotine patch. And how about that? Isn’t that cheating? Shouldn’t you have to quit smoking without artificial enhancements? Shouldn’t nicotine patch people have an asterisk, too?

Or if you’ve had a flu shot? Two hundred years ago they didn’t have flu shots. They just died. Without your flu shot, you’d be dead. Shouldn’t you have an asterisk, too? How are we supposed to compare actuarial tables from 1806 with actuarial tables from 2006*?

All right, kids. Enough. Have a great Cialis* weekend. Enjoy your asterisk-less existence while you can. Today they come for Barry Bonds*. Tomorrow they come for you*.


Dan Bern is the author of “World Cup – A Sort of Diary” and “Quitting Science by Cunliffe Merriwether”. Some of his recordings include “New American Language”, “Fifty Eggs” and “Fleeting Days”. He has a new one due out this year and will be performing at Carnegie Hall on 4/22.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

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Iraq Newspaper Propaganda

Aquarian Weekly 3/8/06 REALITY CHECK


Hot Off The PressesGood news! It turns out the U.S. government is going to continue to pay Arab newspapers to run pro-American propaganda after all. Despite weepy protests from jealous hometown reporters not on the pay roll, more erroneous stories out of the human lying-machine known as Scott McClellan, and the latest pile of steaming feces emanating from Donald Rumsfeld’s craw, things will continue as before. Huzzah for capitalism and free press! It’s time for this space to cash in.

I don’t know whose been previously penning these fancy fairy tales, but they lack a certain grit and verve only a seasoned veteran of journalism can provide. And not any journalist, but one with no discernable recognition of concepts like dignity or integrity, one that has little to no regard for facts, research, or general reporting skills, and one whose mere existence is up for sale to the highest bidder, regardless of crimes against humanity at large. Most importantly, one whose moral faculties are so severely damaged they can only be properly observed by the purest intent for mayhem.


And so, the following is an audition to take over as the home office for world-class pro-war propaganda (cue the dramatic music). I have sent it to the U.S. Department of State/American Foreign Service Association (AFSA).

To whomever it may concern,

I am a big fan of your war. It is a fine war, possessing all the qualities of such: plenty of death and destruction without all the sappy tunes from that Second World War. I was never a big fan of “Over There”. But I digress already; for I am officially submitting my participation in this “yellow journalism” scam you got going over in Iraq. Not only that, I wish to run the entire thing, pick the editors and copy boys, set type, write the headlines, and buy drinks for all the secretaries. I am on board. Completely. And as a proponent of all things bullshit with no conscience to speak of, at least not one usually found in Homo sapiens, I believe I am the perfect fit for this gig.

Mad skills. Gutless pot shots. Questionable grammar. If I don’t get this job I’m off to the NY Post.

Now we all know, if you do your homework, you’ll see my byline over a great deal of, okay – reams of negative commentary on the mishandling of this war, a bunch of crazy stuff about the president being a stammering dunce and other immature anti-military ranting. But I beseech you, in the interest of our future endeavors, to ignore it all. I am a changed man, strike that, not entirely changed, for I still base my opining on who manages to benefit me the most, and if you pay me, that would be you guys. Trust me when I tell you that I am all for whatever dumb shit you’re trying this week. And I will gladly accept the job of making it seem feasible, even heroic in the face of the most pathetic failures.

Thus, to illustrate how I can passionately defend both sides of an argument, expertly ignoring any and all negative aspects of the opposing argument (I was a champion debater in both high school and college – taking the finals with the bold assertion that Abe Lincoln was a Portuguese lesbian – I still have my notes) I have included two potential leads, pro/con, for the U.S. Ports/United Arab Emirates issue.

AMERICA SAFER THAN EVER How The Almighty Dollar Saves Us All

The overtly bigoted attacks on an Arab nation and an Arab security concern cannot mask the importance of honoring free market exchange, regardless of who owns the companies. You’ve been hearing a great deal of sensible talk about how freedom is all well and good, but without our safety, it is non-existent. Trading in a few civil liberties for the right to enjoy freedom is the least we can sacrifice in these difficult times. But freedom and safety must take a back seat to money. Without money, what do you have? No money. And how would that sit with all our debtors and the billions we spend on bribing nations with weapons and handouts. Who the hell do you think pays for all this shit? Free enterprise, that’s what. And if the United Arab Emirates has earned its place in protecting our ports in a free enterprise system, then we must show the rest of the world how to make an honest buck. So now we should all shut up and go back to paying attention to the money pit that is Iraq.

Pretty nifty, huh? I especially like the way I wrapped it up by distracting everyone with a bigger problem. That’s what’s called a “tie-in” in the business, just one of the many buzzwords and axioms you get from a seasoned pro. But let’s say you’re not a fan of our ports being run by terrorist sympathizers. Check this out.


AMERICAN PORTS A SIEVE Another Sad Example OF How The Federal Government Blows

You want to know what should frighten us to the very core of our beings? The president is vehemently defending a deal he didn’t even know about until the Washington Post told him. Hey everybody, the Washington Post is running Foreign Relations! Cool. Now if we can just get the NY Times to balance the budget. I have a better idea, let’s get the Chinese to run the Central Intelligence Agency. Maybe those nuts who won the Palestinian election can take over the Secret Service. Perhaps then one of the highest members of our executive branch could make it through a weekend without shooting anymore of the elderly. And let’s try and remember this was the party that won a national election to protect us. It certainly wasn’t general competence, leadership, or economic wizardry. I guess its time we all move to states no one gives a shit about like Idaho or Montana and leave the port cities to the capitalist martyrs.

So there you have it. Mad skills. Gutless pot shots. Questionable grammar. If I don’t get this job I’m off to the NY Post. But before I conclude, I would like to thank you for your time and consideration. I think you guys are doing a bang-up job. Literally. So as a bonus, I leave you with additional pro-American headlines for no charge: SOCIAL SECURITY IS DOOMED & OTHER BUDGET SAVING SCHEMES FEMA & YOU: DON’T CALL US, WE’LL CALL YOU HOORAY FOR GOD! FIND BIN LADEN? WE’RE BUSY SPYING HELPS US HELP YOU TOM DELAY: WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE? OUR MOTTO: THE LESS YOU KNOW, THE BETTER WE FUNCTION

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


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Dick Cheney Shooting

Aquarian Weekly 2/22/06 REALITY CHECK

DICK CHENEY – KING OF ALL MEDIA How The Powerful Can Easily Manipulate Information

Dick CheneyOkay, so the first shooting by a sitting vice president in over 200 years isn’t quite as exciting as Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton settling old scores with a pistol duel on the cliffs of Weehawken, New Jersey. We have a fat old bastard, probably drunk, definitely a shitty shot (now we know why all those military deferments during Viet Nam) peppering another possibly soused old fart while quail hunting. Rich dipshits hopping around with their cute little bird-shot guns blasting away at penned foul doesn’t have the same dramatic feel as two rankled patriots, in the prime of their forefather powers, pitched on the banks of the Hudson River, aiming cocked weapons at dawn over a blood feud of national politics and personal angst.

Hamilton didn’t make it. Dick Cheney’s victim, 78-year-old, Texas lawyer, and generous contributor to Republican coffers, Harry Whittington, most likely will. So it doesn’t even have the searing tragedy of a Massachusetts senator leaving a crocked date-rape candidate to drown in a lake.

It’s really not much of a story, even for a vice president: Big mistake by an idiot hunter. Happens all the time, but not enough. Besides, people get shot every few minutes in Texas. It’s state law.

The narrative gains momentum when it becomes painfully evident, once again, that the present administration, infamous for shutting out the press, making up convenient back-stories for obvious screw-ups, and clumsily handling of public relations after major blunders, decided it best to create a rousing farce out of an accident. At least that’s what it seemed to be, if you believe the snoozing White House press corps, who are still bitching about being jerked around like carney rubes.

I guess the lack of forthrightness on the part of the vice president might not look so bad if it weren’t surrounded by a litany of senate hearings and investigations regarding the administration’s mishandling of just about every possible event since it took the reigns in 2001.

The truth of it is the press, and vicariously the American people, were merely playthings for the Dick Cheney media manipulation machine, which began the second Whittington hit the ground. This vice president, like his president, doesn’t think we need to know whom our highest elected officials are shooting on weekends. It’s apparently none of our business, since we’re not paying his salary or this isn’t any kind of democracy we’ve got going here. In other words: Business as usual.

Cheney, as he has done countless times during his weak tenure as VP, disappears immediately following a crisis. He does not materialize before the authorities for 14 or so hours, not unlike Ted Kennedy missing 12 hours after he left a girl to die at Chappaquiddick. Had to get the story straight, or perhaps sober up. Whatever the reason, in the meantime, Cheney’s camp cherry-picks an old friend, and owner of the ranch where the shooting occurred, Katharine Armstrong, to contact the local paper and make a vaguely general announcement about an accident. An announcement, by the way, which initially blamed the poor bastard Cheney shot for being in the wrong spot, or some bizarrely concocted horseshit.

Next, it seemed, no one in Cheney’s employ thought it of any import to let the White House know the details for hours, which has caused more than a little rancor between the warring staffs of the vice president and his boss.

The following random series of misrepresentations, poorly presented to the laughably lazy and ill-informed White House press corps by White Press Secretary Scott McClellan starts to reek of cover-up. But there is no cover-up, just a spectacular parade of stupidity. In other words: Business as usual.

For days after the incident, McClellan appears to know less than nothing about facts or timelines or if the vice president had even bothered to talk to his president, which we find out days later, he did not. Then there is the complete silence by the shooter himself, who then decides to bare his soul to another handpicked media stooge on the home team FOXNEWS network.

Throughout the entire fiasco, the White House press corps blows a gasket, simply because they weren’t handed a story, as they usually are. “How could a local paper get the scoop over us? We’re entitled!” Bullshit. This is the same whining we heard from this clan over 30 years ago when a couple of cub reporters for the Washington Post were bringing down a president, while they gave the crooked bastard standing ovations on Air Force One.

Well, although some of it is hilarious, other parts tragic, and mostly confusing, the unfortunate incident bares out the alarmingly evasive behavior of this administration in its utter distain for the press, which, in turn, translates into its disdain for sharing anything with the American people, it’s liberal manipulation of reality, and the conspicuous transparency of its inability to simply function in any possible way, shape or form.

The Cheney shooting is sad and pathetic. Those who hate him will revel in it; those who defend him will make excuses for it, or in an ironic twist, pull the ol’ Clintonian: “We’re not going to belabor this minutia, but get back to the business of serving the American people”. Either way you carve it up, that is not our concern here.

What our concern is, and has always been, here at The Desk, is getting to the oft-ignored core of things. And the core of this thing is the way the Bush Administration has consistently displayed an unhinged quality to their governance, this repeated bungling of general tasks of executive branch duties, like protecting the borders, conducting a war, handling a crisis, both natural and political, and a faulty communication system that is at best sloppy, and at worst down-right dishonest.

Most of all, what the Cheney shooting incident and its aftermath frighteningly illustrates is the arrogance of power, and how an authoritative public official and the subject of a newsworthy event can create the story he wants the public to view, provide the news the way he wishes it to be perceived, and usher it along in a timeline of his choosing. This, my friends, is the very definition of fascism: “a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.”

I guess the lack of forthrightness on the part of the vice president might not look so bad if it weren’t surrounded by a litany of senate hearings and investigations regarding the administration’s mishandling of just about every possible event since it took the reigns in 2001.

In other words: Business as usual.

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Religious Extremism vs. Free Speech

Aquarian Weekly 2/15/06 REALITY CHECK

LOONY TOONS Another Sordid Tale of Religious Extremism vs. Free Speech

Hip-hip Allah!And kill them wherever you find and catch them. Drive them out from where they have turned you out; for Al-Fitnah (polytheism, disbelief, oppression) is worse than slaughter. – Qur’an 2:191

True revolutionaries never bomb buildings. – Dan Bern

Just when you think you’ve written about the dumbest, most illogically asinine subjects known to modern man, this happens: Months ago some Danish newspaper prints satirical cartoons depicting Muslims and their fancy prophet Mohammad in a “bad” light. Initially, no one gives a shit. Then riled up clerics take a fieldtrip around the Middle East with the things, along with additional non-published heretical material to raise the collective ire. Extremist Muslims, who need little motivation to do so, predictably freak out. Threaten violence. Wreak violence – big time violence and destruction. And what are the predominant responses to this whole pile of steaming sociological horse hockey and babbling religious fanaticism? Defend the vicious protestors or bow to fear. We truly are living in an age of enlightenment and intellect, I’ll tell ya.

Let me begin by respectfully stating that what Islamic loons do on their own time with their own set of wacky dogma is their business. I have been pretty consistent on this issue with Christianity, Judaism, Scientology, Wicca, the Promise Keepers, the Branch Davidians, Jim Jones, those desert hippies who worship The Burning Man, whatever. Believe what you will. We’re all proud of you. But what any of it has to do with a free press or freedom of expression in purported free societies is anyone’s guess. Although who the hell knows what goes on in Europe these days, where Muslims carrying a grudge against the British government can be deported or some insanely illegal shit.

We have to quake because Muslims are pissed at their icons being battered in art and/or satire? How about someone from the State Department getting upset that apoplectic religious freaks are running amok over a goddamn cartoon?

And as far as ultra-violent activity in the Middle East…well, who really needs a cartoon for this to go down anyway. A stiff breeze and a burp could buy you weeks of flag-burning, chant-addled frenzy in a dozen theocratic monarchies. Let’s face it, after awhile its white noise and test patterns; the boy who cried riot.

Normally I wouldn’t even get too crazy about this brand of raging stupidity until it reaches these shores. But now we hear American newspapers are backing down from printing the cartoon and network news organizations are blotting out the images in its reports, despite the clear fact that it is news – big time news. And then there is the case of the United States government, which, by the way, is on a well-documented mission from God to spread freedom and enlightenment throughout the world, making mind-bendingly goofy statements.

To wit:

Our State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper: “These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims. We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression, but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable.”


How is it that Christian icons and Jewish Biblical Characters are fair game in print, film, music, art, comedy, and not Mohammad? Because we don’t know shit about Islam and are infinitely afraid all Muslims are crazy or this confused white bread government of ours has depicted most of the Islamic world as radical hate-mongers of freedom, while also conveniently passing lip service to the “normal and peace loving members of Islam”?

Honestly, who cares if Muslims are offended? Boo hoo. Get a helmet. Have we gone complete off the rails with this religion crap now? We have to quake because Muslims are pissed at their icons being battered in art and/or satire? How about someone from the State Department getting upset that apoplectic religious freaks are running amok over a goddamn cartoon?

Of course this is another superlative example of why George W. Bush should be sent to prison for using the United States military to now force-feed the Middle East democratic ideals. We should have sent Snoopy in as an emissary.

Here’s the argument from the other side: Muslims are prohibited from depicting or creating renderings of Allah or Mohammad in any way, good, bad, or otherwise. It is an anathema to their customs and beliefs. Well, once again, goodie for them. But what in the name of all that is holy and idiotic does this have to do with the Danish Press or the French Press or certainly the First Amendment laws of the United States of America?

Another salient question at this juncture might be: Were the people who wrote, drew and/or published these cartoons even Muslim? If not, what are we getting nuts about? What’s next, everyone at the New York Times is now forbidden to eat meat on Friday or the entire editorial staff at the Washington Post has to be home by sundown later that afternoon? Maybe we should let Billy Graham run NBC news.

Hey, I’m well aware that people who make the most noise and break the most things get their way on this planet. This is business as usual, like religious violence. The Crusades and the Holocaust are fine examples of forcing religion on others and the persecution of religious cultures. But have we learned nothing from their fanatical crimes? This is 2006. Why are religious fundamentalists even allowed to debate this subject, much less burn and pillage unchecked and then defended in the press?

I’m offended. How about that? I worship at the altar of free speech and expression. And these lunatics are trampling all over it. But that’s not new. That kind of God reasoning for wreaking havoc on everything is as old as it is crazy. But it doesn’t make it right, and it is even less right to apologize or give into virulent oppression. Believe what you want. Fine by me. But keep it to yourself.

Of course I have my doubts 90% of these maniacs give half a fart about Mohammad anyway. How many of those conveniently enraged fuckers stealing televisions and ransacking grocery stores during the Rodney King riots had even heard of Rodney King?

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Hooray For Hamas!

Aquarian Weekly 2/8/06 REALITY CHECK

HOORAY FOR HAMAS! The Gory Truth About Arab Politics

In ChargeDemocracy does not guarantee equality of conditions – it only guarantees equality of opportunity. – Irving Kristol

Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia, Santa Claus, and Heaven. – H.L. Mencken

The misguided dream of democracy’s positive influence in the Middle East has been severely wounded, at least a positive influence that favors the United States. It turns out to be gangbusters for the Evil Doers, however. This is the problem with democracy, you can’t always control it – something the Bush Administration doesn’t know anything about. Just ask the poor suckers who voted for Franklin Pierce in the ill-fated 1852 election, which speed-tracked the Civil War or the duped architects of the doomed Richard Nixon experiment, which ended in mass corruption and disgrace.

We used to be good at fixing elections around here – bloodless coups and handy assassinations. Now we wait for the other guy to decide. Not a good idea. Hey, too bad Jeb Bush wasn’t running the West Bank. But, alas, sing all the songs of freedom and power to the people you like, a democratically decided election for power in Palestine has been handed over to terrorists. And anyone not seeing this as a reflection of the coming hordes to run Iraq is either not paying attention or still digests the gooey swill being pumped from the White House as something other than fiction.

The people have spoken. The system works. It just doesn’t work out well for us, and it is a bad sign of things to come. But it is a good sign for those who have America’s true interests at heart; not this obsessively dangerous need to have revisionist history pass for a foreign policy, as it has for these past few years. The nonsense had to end eventually, as all nonsenses do. And Hamas may have ended it.

This is the political equivilant of showing up at a Christian Brothers retreat and being molested by Hell’s Angels.

Hamas, effective and deadly Arab mayhem marauders long before it became chic to pay attention to terrorists, having gained governing power in Palestine is the worst possible result for anything the United States has been trying to accomplish in the Middle East since 9/11. Period. This is not debatable. Don’t try. It is so bad it defies a viable discussion of details or the obligatory postulating of silver-lined clouds, as in, “Hey, at least the dinner china was fancy on the Titanic.”

Believe me, I have mulled over the idea that once in charge Hamas will be forced to act responsibly and spend its time caring for its citizenry and concentrating on its country’s infrastructure, and not so much on wiping out Israel or being the home office of anti-American hoo-ha. This is what our president, the draftsman of this doomed war-addled audible in Iraq would like you to believe. Yeah, and when Saddam Hussein was in charge he was soooo distracted by human rights and economic issues he couldn’t possibly be a threat.

There is gullible, and then there is being a slobbering dumb fuck. The above reasoning is aimed at the latter.

The reason Hamas defeated the restructured skeleton of the late Yasser Arafat’s flaccid Fatah Party is that it is not interested in peace processes or posturing negotiations to get invited to fancy White House soirees. It espouses a deep-seated hatred for Jews, a Jewish homeland, and the big money that non-theocracies like America sends to them without faking all the nice-nice. This election seals it. Hamas, and the 70% of Palestinians it now represents, has little use in negotiating any kind of peace with Israel, and worse still, harbors an infinite jones to wipe it, and all of the Jewish populace, off the map.

One of Hamas’ giddy victors, Mushir al-Masri recently announced, “Negotiations with Israel are not on our agenda.” Followed by the heartwarmingly diplomatic, “Recognizing Israel is not on the agenda either now.”

Things have already gotten wacky over there since the election. And one thing the United States does not want to see is increased wackiness in Israel now. Not with Ariel Sharon in a coma and the IDF chomping at the bit to rape and pillage. And they will rape and pillage, Jack. And you know what would be the wet dream of every member of al Qaeda? Israeli soldiers mass-murdering Palestinians. Then the whole Arab world is in.

Holy shit. What a disaster. This is the political equivilant of showing up at a Christian Brothers retreat and being molested by Hell’s Angels.

It’s the flipside of this hippy dream our government whipped up when it turned out Hussein was lying about being the big shot on the block to keep the Iranians from invading him. America was going to spread love and cheer throughout the Middle East! Freedom and liberty, choices for the people! Thomas Jefferson lives!

So now that the bad guys get all the votes, our governement decides not to recognize Hamas’ victory as legitimate. That’s a funny way of defining freedom. It’s kind of like how things are going over here, narrow definitions of freedom. Freedom this and freedom that. Then we wiretap the citizens. Lip service. The only freedom this government of ours is interested in is the kind of freedom that keeps it running smoothly in the global monoply game its created.

When you couple this with the political landscape of Iran right now, you get the feeling the whole free elections thing is a bust with Irab nations fueled by an entrenched loathing for the western world. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the Islamic theocracy in Iran, is the greatest enemy to sanity this side of Allah. These crazy motherfukcers are gearing up the nuclear arsenal. This is what the majority of Iranians want. This is democracy. This is freedom.

It just isn’t what the United States or its government or its boy president wants.

You better watch what you push for, bub. Sometimes the lady is a tramp.

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Judging Alito

Aquarian Weekly 1/25/06 REALITY CHECK

JUDGING ALITO The Harsh Truth About The Soon-To-Be New Supreme Court Judge

Sam AlitoA man should not strive to eliminate his complexes, but to get into accord with them; they are legitimately what directs his conduct in the world. – Sigmund Freud

Here’s all you need to know about Supreme Court nominee, Sam Alito: He worked for Ed Meese. Probe and poke this guy all you want, present self-serving congressional speechifying masqueraded as inquiry and even rummage through his garbage while you’re at it. But you certainly don’t need any Senate hearings, least of all this badly formed farce the Democrats staged last week. I have always felt you learn more about a man by examining his friends and associates. I prefer to run with the outlaw mind myself, that and the artist mentality. I don’t like anyone to appear normal or functioning around me for more than an afternoon, except in the case of my publisher, for whom I have volumes of hate mail and a pending law, but that is a tale for another day.

For the most part, I support the socially deranged. This says all you need to know about how things run around here. Alito supports the criminal element; specifically constitutional marauders like Ed Meese, one of the most corrupt and damaged creatures ever to serve as Attorney General, and believe me, when considering the long and painful rogue’s gallery therein, it is an achievement like no other. Make your call about Alito from his long law record; I shall take this one to the bank.

It doesn’t matter how conservative Alito is, he’s damn conservative, a guaranteed stone-cold Barry Goldwater conservative; women in the kitchen, God in the living room, and all free thought channeled through a red, white and blue fairy land, but not too fairy land – people will talk. Turns out this court needs a conservative voice to balance the debate anyway. It stands now at four (liberals: Stevens, Souter, Breyer, Ginsburg) against four (conservatives: Scalia, Thomas, Roberts) with one moderate, Anthony Kennedy.

I have always felt you learn more about a man by examining his friends and associates.

Kennedy will be the all-important pivot on key hot-button issues, a position currently held by Sandra Day O’Connor. The pivot will swing left and then right. No telling where he will end up. Kennedy swings left: Prayer at high school graduations? No. Roe v. Wade? Yes. Flag-burning? Cool. Sodomy ban? Nah. Then he swings right: 2000 Florida vote, Bush v. Gore? Stop the recount! Partial-birth abortion ban? Good. Affirmative-action quotas? No. Boy Scouts banning of gays? Why not?

Kennedy is the wild card here, not Alito. He is conservative, yes, but this doesn’t bother me. People have to believe what they believe and will interpret everything through that prism. You can’t alter nature. However, it does bother me that the man spent quality time around a monster like Ed Meese, much less work for him.

And not only did Alito work for Meese, he lied to get the gig, said he chaired some atavistic Princeton club that tried to ban women and keep privileged white boys in charge of the weekend keggers. At least he said he lied, or beefed up the resume for the old man. He could never abide such extremist lunacy. Not him. Either way, Alito knew Meese would eat up that kind of anti-subversive stuff. It made the cranky bastard horny to think of women as cattle and free expression as a virus that needed to be eradicated. Alito took orders from this goon, and that should be a problem for anyone judging his character.

I heard Pat Buchanan joke the other day that Alito was being treated as though he were in the dock at the Nuremberg trials. Truth is this is no joke, but that’s cool, because anyone who took orders from a fascist lunatic like Ed Meese needs to be grilled like a Nazi sympathizer. Let’s put it this way, I heard a lot of nonsense during the 2004 presidential campaign about the Bush people being Nazis and Bush some kind of defacto Hitler. This was wrong. Not so with Meese, whose mutated freak genes make assholes like John Ashcroft and Dick Cheney look like cheap hoods.

But I didn’t hear much about this somber fact while Democrats conducted these latest Senate hearings, always chock full of political spite and vigor. You wonder sometimes if the Democrats even remember what it was like to wield real power. Listening to Joe Biden grill Alito is akin to watching in sad horror as some ex-jock waxes poetic about his glory days half drunk and weeping uncontrollably into his worn-out varsity jacket. That’s why these guys give 40-minmute soliloquies when they’re supposed to be reviewing a candidate’s law record – no one pays attention anymore.

It’s over. So over. And pretty soon when these hearings are a quaint memory and Alito takes his chair in the highest court in the land, they’ll all go back to their cushy offices and pray to whatever god they buy into that mid-America looses its collective minds and votes for a woman in three years, because no matter how damaged this Bush Administration abortion is or how corruptible this current Congress is, things will not shift in 2006.

Alito? He can endure being the Democrats punching bag for a while. The gig is worth it. But soon he will have to face down the demons that have followed him since his days on the wall with Master Meese. Or not. Most likely it will be not.

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Sirius Radio & The Death of the FCC

Aquarian Weekly 1/18/06 REALITY CHECK

I HAVE A DREAM Why Satellite Radio Will Crush The FCC

Howard SternNever lose sight of the fact that all human felicity lies in man’s imagination, and that he cannot think to attain it unless he heeds all his caprices. The most fortunate of persons is he who has the most means to satisfy his vagaries. – Marquis de Sade

Don’t be told what you want Don’t be told what you need There’s no future no future No future for you. – Sex Pistols

My feel-good wish for the New Year is to witness the mortal wounding of the FCC. I don’t expect it to flat-line, but it needs to bleed, terminally, perhaps a day or two in intensive care on the critical list. “Doesn’t look good, doctor, contact the next of kin.” No cure. Have a nice day. It was good to know ya.

Dare I?

It has been my fuzzy little dream for decades, but now it can actually come to wondrous fruition with the emergence of satellite radio. With Howard Stern’s debut on Sirius Radio this past week, along with most of the subject-specific programming available to subscribers for $12 a month, there appears to be a real sense that things will loosen up on the old traditional airwaves; finally freeing up Marconi’s instrument of destruction for more penetrating and corruptible behavior.

There have been some who’ve opposed smut radio, shock jocks, and certain levels of discerning demographics of music programming, as well as the odd slice of controversial and biting subject matter for the darker souls among us. And they now claim victory. They say kicking the likes of a Howard Stern off the air and onto pay radio at least takes him away from being available to everyone. And I would applaud their perspective. Whatever shuts these cretins up is fine by me. Because the only thing that matters in radio is ratings, which translates into advertising muscle and then the all-important product-placement dollars.

The idea that commercial radio was invented to serve the populace and/or the greater good is as infantile and naive as assuming big-time college sports creates school spirit while maturing young citizens may learn fair play and teamwork or that television and the Internet would become super tools of education, enlightenment, while promoting evolved thought. Nothing exists without it garnishing a buck in this country, nothing worth a shit to the masses anyway. Nothing anyone would pay attention to or that you might receive without sending out search parties.

It doesn’t need to be regulated. People don’t watch it, it goes away. Simple as that. No muss. No fuss.

Radio, television, newspapers, et al, exist only to sell products, period. Not to promote agenda or serve the citizenry, but to sell cars, beer, loads of corporate junk and other things bottom line. Advertising is where the money is in these mediums. Very few make a serious buck in broadcasting. Advertising. Marketing. All that crap. That’s where the money is.

So, think about it: If people are willing to pony up cash to listen to the radio, like they currently do to watch cable television or, say, rent films or use high-speed Internet, there will be someone around to exploit it for dollars. And that’s how change comes along in this country: Cash. Cold, hard, and handy cash. The rest is white noise and head patting.

Why are listeners abandoning free radio to pay for it? The money people will want to know this. The product hawks and Madison Avenue geeks have to know. And they will know all too soon, believe me. Then they will do something about it.

You know why the number one television show in the country is “Desperate Housewives”? Because “Sex in the City” kicked ass on HBO, that’s why. You think for one minute a racy show like “Desperate Housewives” gets anywhere near network television without some joker in a power tie saying, “Jesus Jumping Christ in a Blanket, Jack, have you seen the numbers that middle-aged woman sex romp is doing on HBO? Let’s get us one of those!”

“But, Bill, we’ll never get that garbage past standards and practices, we’ll get hate mail and threats by the Catholic League of Freakazoids!”

“Let’s see what Pepsi and Nike and Home Depot has to say about that, Jack. How about Ford and Honda and Budweiser and Coors?”

“Holy Shit, Bill! It’s a goddamn go!”

All these “CSI” shows? Cable. “Six Feet Under”, “The Sopranos”, even that hilariously consistent Larry David thing; all of them have been co-opted by network TV, and not one of them would have made it past secretaries five years ago. No way. All these Reality Shows everywhere? MTV’s “The Real Life”.

Network TV is now not merely a landscape littered with dirt and grime, exploitation and sex, sex, sex, with just the right amount of violence thrown in; it’s pretty much home base. And that’s great, if that’s what people want. And it’s quite obvious they want it big time. Otherwise it would go away. It doesn’t need to be regulated. People don’t watch it, it goes away. Simple as that. No muss. No fuss.

All these righteous fuckers who voted for George W. Bush to push the God agenda last year are the same ones tuning into this crap weekly, in big numbers, far bigger numbers than go to any voting booth. These people yell and scream about Hollywood and rap music and violence and sex and then turn around and lap this stuff up in record numbers. And again, that’s good. A free society should measure what the populace wants. Television has always been a good source for that. Television, fast food, speed banking, cosmetics, diet pills, booze and technological doo-dads; it’s the melting pot, really.

It’s like these ubiquitous ultra-violent video games; you think these things would survive without tons of people buying them? No is the answer to that one. And, once again, that’s a good thing. If that’s what people want, and it’s not hurting anyone, then fine.

Here’s where satellite radio grants my wish: Once advertisers realize the windfall of subscribers ponying up cash to listen to Lesbian donkey humping, then the reigns will be loosened on the ol’ squawk box and perhaps then can we have a completely free society unhampered by non-elected shit heels manipulated by loony soccer moms and mid-western preachers. The free air will then finally be free.

And pretty soon we’ll be hearing all sorts of fucks and shits everywhere.

And if people want it, then fine.

Everyone has to have a dream. This is mine: The death of the FCC.

Thanks for helping folks.

Happy New Year!

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