Aquarian Weekly

Reality Check

James Campion

A Stroll Through The Difference Four Years Make

You’ve heard it: What about 2016? Everyone thought Donald Trump would lose and he won. Yes, this is true. And after four years of sober reflection, for reasons that are varied and somewhat complicated, and still others that are blatantly obvious and should have been then, Trump became the forty-fifth president of the United States. But with the advantage of hindsight, there are factors this time around – not the least of which is Trump being an incumbent presiding over, and the underlying cause, of two national crises instead of a tweeting troll tossing stones at the guy in charge – that makes 2020 a very different election year than 2016. But that is only part of the story.  

My colleague and friend Bill Roberts of Conservatively Speaking – a column that shared space in this paper with me some years back in the aughts and currently a staunch Trump supporter – co-wrote the post-mortem of that election with me the week after. The conclusion of Mr. Roberts, which explains one aspect of Trump’s victory, was the uncharted vote not understood in polling and mostly ignored by both parties that pushed Trump to a narrow electoral college victory, specifically in the Rust Belt. Trump’s opponent, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, although up by 2.5 points on Election Day, teetered in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan; all states that had traditionally voted for Democrats for decades. This time they swung to Trump, who won them by a razor-thin margin of approximately seventy-seven thousand votes. There are more seats in Met Life Stadium a few miles down the road from where I am writing this.

What I added to Bill’s analyses, which I have maintained for four years, is Clinton’s embrace – along with every previous presidential candidate whether Republican or Democrat – of international trade deals. Many of these deals had done damage to the Rust Belt lower-middle class high school educated voters, who had heard for years about how jobs and factories going abroad could be returned. This was always a lie, and one Trump, a champion liar, latched onto. With Steve Bannon (just arrested for fundraising fraud as I write this), the architect of the last six weeks of the campaign in which he actually disciplined Trump like never before or since, the candidate visited these states time and again, while Clinton never went to Wisconsin or Michigan, an unconscionable fuck-up that led to Trump – an outsider that wasn’t really a Republican or Democrat – to seem like an alternative. In classic Clinton fashion, she started hedging her bet on trade when she saw it was a 2016 loser, but it just fed into her phoniness and entrenched political image. That, in a nutshell, is why Trump became president.

Of course, there are many nuances to this – racism, fear of foreigners, Russian interference, Trump’s free TV time due to the interest in his clown show, his wild claims and name calling – all contributed to the upset. In the summer of 2020, as mentioned above, Trump is the status quo, and the status quo is historically shitty right now. The nation is suffering its worst economic collapse in my lifetime because of a deadly pandemic the president still does not admit is even happening. He no longer gets to say “I alone can fix it” when he is in charge and clearly can’t.

Before we leave Hillary Clinton. She is the worst candidate for any civic position I have every witnessed. Her losses to a then neophyte Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries and later to a game show host who didn’t even want to win and would have lost if not for Bannon, are epic. Hubris and stupidity are what doomed the heavily favored Clinton, not FBI Director James Comey reopening the investigation on her emails or Russian hacking into DNC emails. That assisted, sure. But if Clinton had not avoided the press for eighty-six days that summer and actually went to states that were teetering on flipping on her, then she would be president. Hillary Clinton is not running this time.

What Obama people argued in 2016, and I ignored, was it should have been Joe Biden, who was dealing with the death of his son, Beau, not Hillary Clinton to run. But that was never an option for Biden, who was steamrolled by a Democratic Party showing its old-world idiocy (the outed emails revealed this) to get their hands on “the first woman president” angle. The party then slanted the table against Bernie Sanders when he started piling up delegates. Ironically, the Vermont Senator shared much of Trump’s anti-trade rhetoric without all the racism, sexism or queer TV performances.

But even the Sanders Movement was bullshit. For four years I had to hear about the Sanders’ youth coalition, this burgeoning progressive voter-base inside the Democratic Party. Where was it during the 2020 primaries? They didn’t show up. Sanders’ numbers were precipitously down from 2016. The whole thing is a myth. The 2016 Sanders vote turned out to actually be anti-Hillary, because many of them made Joe Biden the 2020 nominee. This adds to the notion that without Clinton on the ballot this time, this ain’t 2016. And it also skewers the Republican’s weak argument that a centrist forty-year veteran of D.C. is somehow a radical. There is a progressive wing of the Democratic Party, sure, but it is much smaller and less active than reported. The primaries settled that score. And Biden’s VP pick of Kamala Harris and not Sanders or ultra-progressive Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren underlines this.

Hubris and stupidity are what doomed the heavily favored Clinton.

The idea of a 2016 coronation for Clinton was a death knell because it ignored the Obama collation that had triumphed like no Democratic candidate in fifty years. Joe Biden was part of that coalition. Without President Obama’s VP on the ticket, 2016 could not be a referendum on his legacy. It was more of a referendum on the 1990s and the Clinton years. Biden connects more with the numbers in 2008 and 2012; both winners. And now with a woman of color on the ticket he has galvanized the very vote that would have bested Trump in 2016. Clinton received eighty-nine percent of the black vote in 2016. Biden is hovering at nearly ninety-one. His Latino numbers also dwarf Clinton’s, and most importantly for Biden, white suburban women, that abandoned Clinton, have returned with a vengeance. The 2018 mid-terms numbers that created the Blue Wave have increased during the meltdown of the past six months. Those three factions are enough to overcome seventy-thousand votes.

Finally, and most importantly, the difference between 2016 and 2020 is the undecided vote. While it had a volatile effect on polls in 2016, wherein anytime either Clinton or Trump became the main story there was a dramatic shift against them, is miniscule now. This is why Clinton’s 2016 poll graph looks like the blueprint for a rollercoaster, while Biden’s has been a steady hum. In 2016, nearly a quarter of the electorate was undecided into November. Trump received the whopping lion’s share of it. This time it is eight to ten percent. And without expanding his forty-percent base, Trump needs a Hillary Clinton with her forty-four percent base to leap her and win with the forty-six percent he garnered in 2016. Biden has consistently polled around fifty percent (As I write this it is an average of 51.2). Neither Clinton nor Trump ever sniffed fifty percent. Where exactly is Trump getting these secret votes?

Also, it should be pointed out that state polling, because of the anomalies apparent in 2016, has improved greatly. Those voters ignored last time are in the system and are considered. Unless some new middle-aged white guys have formed like pods all over Michigan and Pennsylvania, it is impossible for Trump to find the variables Mr. Roberts discussed in November of 2016 this time around.

So, what am I saying here? Is Biden a shoo-in? Nah, that was Hillary’s nickname and she lost and handed us this national nightmare on a silver platter. Trump, as covered here two weeks ago, is already trying to tamp down the vote with his usual bizarre rhetoric, because as he has rightly pointed out, “When people vote, Republicans lose.” But this time around the numbers are not three to four percent for a wildly unpopular Democratic candidate; they are a six, seven to ten percentage point lead for a fairly likable one. And the enthusiasm to vote against Trump, the incumbent with a terrible record, is higher than his opponent’s.

Throwing a Hail Mary touchdown pass in the final seconds worked swimmingly for Doug Flutie and Boston College once. Flutie was not asked to repeat that four years later. This is what is asked of the 2020 Donald Trump, morph back into an outsider, grenade-throwing grievance candidate. It is he who is the system now and that system is broken.

Change is in the air, and that change candidate is not the current president. The time, the numbers, the opponent, and the crises make 2020 very different from 2016.

But only the Election Day numbers can bear this out eventually, whether the president accepts them or not.

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Aquarian Weekly

Reality Check

James Campion

Gratuitous, Strategic, Historic VP Choice

There is no use debating this: California Senator Kamala Harris was presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s best choice for a running mate. He is ahead in the polls and his opponent is self-immolating. This was the safe, boring choice, despite its historic ramifications of a woman of color and daughter of immigrants.

Harris is an accomplished center-left former state persecutor and attorney-general and a recent addition to the U.S. Senate, as well as a fully-vetted presidential candidate who had just failed to gain the nomination and knows why. She is strategically pragmatic, spinning her ideology with how the political winds blow. She has media chops, an engaging personality and bulldog debating skills. Crucially, she is young. At fifty-five, Harris balances a candidate who will be seventy-eight when he is sworn in. Mostly, she fits the key element of Biden’s choice, since he put himself in a corner by narrowing his pick by gender. Harris is indeed a woman. And, most importantly for many political and cultural reasons, a black woman, specifically Jamaican/Indian. Harris checks off a bunch of firsts to be part of a major political party ticket for the presidency. She was the logical course of action to keep the wheels rolling to November.

But let’s get down to what kind of actual factor Senator Harris can be for the ultimate prize here: Getting rid of Donald Trump.

This is the sixth presidential race this space has covered and in each I have broken down VP picks. In almost all cases, even weird ones like Sarah Palin, it is difficult to pinpoint what they ultimately mean to the candidate’s chances for victory. There have been none that did a better reverse balancing act of age/experience than Dick Cheney for George W. Bush, since he was a stalwart Republican D.C. lifer that boasted foreign policy experience when everyone was worried Bush’s kid was a dullard who woke up out of a cocaine fog at forty and decided he wanted to run things. You only have to see Biden, another D.C. lifer, to see why Barack Obama made him his wise choice for a young black man who had been in the senate for fifteen minutes running for president in 2008.

However, Harris is interesting, beyond this historic, and for many Americans, inspirational decision. For one, unlike Hillary Clinton, who felt subjugating her rigid personality would make it more palatable for goofballs in the electorate to not think her a bitch because she was a thinking, aggressive woman – among many Clinton mistakes – Harris does not have this problem. Her general demeanor is confrontational and no-nonsense. She loves being tough, telling you she is tough, and fighting you if you’re not buying it. She is smart, articulate, and well-versed in law and politics, something missing in the current VP. I would feel sorry for Mike Pence, if he wasn’t such a vapid ass-hat.

Personality and gender are all well and good, but let’s take a look at what pundits in the black community are warning against – the token pick.

Having a prosecutor on a ticket running against a criminal is another good call. 

Of course, VP picks are always “token picks”. Take JFK tapping a man he hated, Lyndon Johnson as his running mate in order to unify the party and gather southern support he needed. Or Ronald Reagan choosing a man he called a wimp, George H. W. Bush, who in turn called the Gipper’s tickle-down economic theory “voodoo” to appease center-right and independent voters. Bill Clinton was accused of, and in some cases bragged about fucking everything in sight, so he chose a prude in Al Gore who spent much of the late 1980s leading pogroms against rock music.

It is just plain racist and sexist to suggest Biden is doing any less pandering by picking Harris. He absolutely had to choose a woman of color, but beyond balancing age, gender and race, it is for two other essential reasons: Getting elected and giving due props to those who put him in this position in the first place.

Firstly, this decision goes beyond the current climate of racial reckoning in this country. The current president is pandering to the ultra-right and more racist elements of America when he embraces confederate symbols, calling black protestors terrorists, and making 1950s-style warnings to white suburban “housewives” that their neighborhoods will soon be invaded by minorities. This enables Biden a contrast to this, yes, but let’s face it, African-Americans are the second most consistent voting-block in this country. The first is senior citizens. But unlike older voters, they are mostly loyal to the Democratic Party. Barack Obama’s victories in 2008 – the most impressive for a winning candidate since 1988 – and 2012, in which Biden, of course, was a part, brought out record numbers of black voters, many of whom stayed home for Clinton and ultimately cost her states like Pennsylvania. If Harris helps this even a little, she is effective.

And because this is politics, and politics, like business, life and everything else, is about contacts, assistance and deal-making, and Joe Biden has been doing this for a long, long, loooonnnng time, the former VP has some debts to pay. If it were not for the African-American vote, inspired by an African-American congressman from South Carolina, there would be no Joe Biden candidacy. It is the voice and work of one man, Jim Clyburn that allowed Biden to now be leading in national polls by nearly ten points and looking like an eight-five percent gambling bid to take the White House in a few months.

Covered in this space in the first weeks of March as something of a political resurrection, Biden gathered nearly fifty-percent of the vote in the SC primary – remarkable considering the packed field. This after having never in three attempts at presidential candidacy winning one, including the first three held in early 2020. Following a stern lecture from Clyburn on his shitty organization and tepid stump speeches, the congressman went to the mat to endorse Biden and strongly prompt the African-American community, for whom he is a trusted staple, to save Joe’s ass.

Biden won, gave the speech of his life that evening, and since has been the leading contender to oust this bleating lout in the White House.

Now he adds a woman who Reuters is already calling, due to recent polling, a more popular figure than the former VP among registered voters. And that helps. Her acceptance speech this week also helps. She tore Trump and Pence newly efficient butt-holes on everything from trying to kill us all with this Trump Virus to owning the worst economy in more than a century. It was a cold, hardcore slam. Let’s see more of that. Hell, having a prosecutor on a ticket running against a criminal is another good call.  

Choosing the senator from California was a no-brainer for Biden. He needs Kamala Harris, but he also needs to, as they say, “dance with the girl who brung him.”

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Aquarian Weekly

Reality Check

James Campion

Forget the Excuses, Ignore the Noise, Bring the Pain   

Donald J. Trump has to go. Thus, I have spent and will continue to spend all of my energy in this space and beyond to help make that happen. So far, if the polls are to be believed, it is on its way to becoming reality. We have a couple of more weeks of this rancid shit show if we get it together and do that thing we must: Vote! And not only vote, but make sure other likeminded citizens who care about the future of this nation get to voting to oust this political inferno.  

These past few weeks, in desperation mode, the president has been trying to undermine the idea of voting. This makes sense. If enough people vote, he loses. He has never polled over forty-four percent. He has never been in the black. He is, as far as I can tell, the only underwater president, as he was the only ever underwater candidate. He won a plurality against a larger field to gain the Republican nomination with less than forty percent in most of the primaries and then he won the presidency with one of the most improbable inside-straights in the history of national politics.

I’ll give you an example of how goofy 2016 was – Trump garnered forty-six percent of the vote and won. Mitt Romney, the previous GOP nominee, won forty-seven percent and lost. Romney was more popular than Trump. Wisconsin, a state that helped put Trump over the top, voted less for him than Romney four years earlier. The difference being Romney went up against the most powerful candidate since the late 1980s in Barack Obama, who did get over fifty-percent of the vote and won the overall count, which Trump did not, crushing it in 2008 and 2012, while Trump beat the worst politician of my lifetime, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who sucked.

I wish to get into that subject another time, but I digress.

Where were we? Oh, right; Trump is fucked, and he knows it, so he needs to convince people that things are rigged and a fraud and all those things he says when he is fucked. Like the day before I sent this to press where he began spouting that his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, “hurts God” and would end religion. But by now we should know this crazy shit is coming. If not for being the leader of the free world, this nonsense would be ignored as the ravings of a lunatic. Like New England Patriots fans who keep trying to convince us they don’t cheat despite being fined almost annually for cheating.

Mail-in balloting seems to be a bugaboo for Trump. Not sure why. He votes by mail. Republicans do more mail-in voting than Democrats. Before Trump turned the party into a frat house, Republicans pushed for legislation to make it easier to vote by mail. The idea that one guy, and it is an important guy, no doubt, says something is illegal and fraudulent does not make it so. What it does tell you is that despite the brain bubbles Trump knows mail-in voting is going to be increased dramatically as the Trump Virus ravages the nation, so he makes this crap up for a built-in excuse when he gets his clocked cleaned.

Stand on line as long as it takes. Vote.

None of this has any bearing on anything. States run these elections. The system, while weird and screwy for centuries, works. Even when JFK had dead people vote and George W. Bush got lawyers together to make him president or a game show host suckered a few thousand people in the Rust Belt to buy his snake-oil, it works. Always has. This is why Trump floated the universally panned idea, even at FOX News, that maybe the election should be postponed. Why would he say such a thing? A president suggesting something this country performed during the Civil War, every other war, and a Great Depression?

Predictable. If you are going to lose, that is. And Trump is going to lose. He knows it. If Trump were ahead in these polls he keeps calling fraudulent, he’d want to have the election moved up to this weekend. Remember in 2015 during the primaries, the man brought pages of poll numbers into rallies. He talked about polls the way Christians talk about Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. He is obsessed with ratings. While Americans die of a pandemic he failed to contain, he cites his television ratings. Ratings are polls. He likes those, but he doesn’t like ones where he is getting beat. Thus, they’re fraudulent.

Now, I have been getting a quite a bit of worried correspondences from people in my line of thinking – Trump must go – that somehow the president’s fucking with the Post Office, which he is doing to essentially slow down ballots or some other shenanigans he is cooking up to make his rousing defeat look like something else, will do irreparable harm to the process. And while Trump has worked hard to destroy America, he won’t be able to kick this one to the curb. Elections have rules that have nothing to do with Trump or any president, because the founders put in fail-safes for knuckle-draggers. And once they go in effect, Donald Trump is a candidate, not president. The boxer doesn’t get to referee. He might want to, and says he is going to, but he cannot. There is a referee for that, the United States Constitution. We already know Trump doesn’t care about that, but this also matters none. We run elections in this country, despite mentally-challenged narcissists with a Twitter account.

And here’s the best part: If counting the votes this November takes five, even six months to accomplish – most likely it will be weeks, but to calm my friends, let’s have some fun – as of January 20, 2021 Trump’s term is over. Until someone is officially elected then Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, becomes president. Trump doesn’t just get to keep going as long as there is not a result in the 2020 election or he engages in his showbiz lawsuits or “refuses to go” like I have seen in more fringe scenarios. Someone has to be in charge and the Constitution says Trump is done with his first term at 11:59 on the nineteenth. So, if you want to finally see a woman president at the expense of a bloated, big-mouthed misogynist, then root for some crazy long counting.

Other than that, voting is fine – by mail or over long pandemic-related lines at the polls. There is zero evidence that mail-in ballots can be fabricated or manipulated. This is an excuse for being wildly unpopular and headed for defeat from a guy who lies about everything all the time.

But, just to be clear, I think people should suck it up and go out and vote the old-fashioned way on November 3. Go to the polls. Put on a mask or a hazmat suit, get out of your cocoon, stop Netflix for a minute, and hit the streets. If people can take to the streets to protest amidst tear-gas and rubber bullets and endure armed paramilitary forces, or if people can rush into the streets to tear down statues and burn the local Wendy’s, or if people insist on going to beaches and midnight rages in the face of a pandemic, then they can vote. Drive down the street or one-hundred miles. Stand on line as long as it takes. If they want you to get an ID, then fucking get one.

It is a few hours, one day out of your life to end this nightmare.

Donald Trump has to be stopped. To do that, you don’t waste your breath berating him or arguing with your friends and relatives, or march against him with homemade signs of him dressed as Hitler, or impeach him, or write stupid op-eds like this one. You get your asses out there in November and save America from this madman.


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Reality Check

James Campion
The weird, bizarre and dangerous history between the current president of the United States and Russia, specifically its tyrannical president Vladimir Putin, took another odd turn this week after Donald Trump acted first aloof and then dismissive of intelligence reports from last month that Russians have been bankrolling terrorist fighters in Afghanistan and since late 2019 putting bounties on the heads of U.S. soldiers. After a July 23 phone conversation with Putin of unknown original or subject – because Trump has been silent about these in the past anyway – there appeared to be no discussion of this rather grave information between the two “leaders”.

“No, that was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly, that’s an issue that many people said was fake news,” Trump told in reporter Jonathan Swan, who has already conducted several revealing interviews with Trump in the past. Shockingly and quite embarrassingly for the craft of American journalism, Swan is the first reporter to press Trump on this. For some reason this has not been a high priority for the sleepy White House press that takes Trump’s click-bait nonsense about injecting bleach, postponing the election and V-shaped economic recoveries instead. This is especially egregious since, as covered in this space weeks ago, there is evidence the White House knew about what the official report registered as Unit 29155 of the GRU – Russia’s military intelligence agency – since it began and there have been actual military deaths allegedly associated with the allegations.

Oh, there were some chatter about it for a day or so a few weeks back when the NY Times published a deep-dive into the reports, but understandably while Trump is assisting in the death of hundreds of Americans a week by continuing his unconscionable battle against scientists, doctors, governors and everyone else concerned with the spiking numbers of this virus, not to mention his fascist deployment of secret police to jail protesters and fly spy planes over American cities gathering cell phone information from all citizens, whether they are dissenters or not, will distract the press. But then television personality turned “press secretary” Kayleigh McEnany told the American people Trump never saw the briefing. “He doesn’t read briefings,” went the excuse. Then the poor overwhelmed simpleton spent the next days trying to convince everyone Trump does and can read. Or some such. All of it effectively kiboshing the killing of American soldiers as the commander-in-chief has no idea or could not care any less. “Why doesn’t anyone like me?” Trump asked instead, and then tweets that social media is “unfair.”

I get that it is hard to concentrate in a circus. But no way should this have gone unchecked for this long, especially when considering this presidents proclivity to defend and prop up the myth of Putin, even against his own country’s intelligence, as in 2018 when he stood on foreign soil and committed treason refuting American intelligence, defending the Russian president, and brazenly siding with our enemy. 

His feckless, damaged psyche makes it easy for him to subjugate his fragile ego to strongmen – Putin being the Mac-Daddy.

After using his prerequisite “hoax” routine with Swan, which is our president’s running “Take my wife, please” bit and has worked like a charm with the original Russian investigation that got him impeached and this Corona virus which he said would disappear magically in a few days and be gone when it warmed up in April, Trump said, “I have never discussed it with him.”

This is odd for any president, even one as dumbfounded as this one. I mean, Trump consistently re-tweets nonsense that teenage racists post on the dark web with absolute zero vetting. His constant knee-jerk reactions to the slightest criticism by Hollywood celebrities, political opponents, cable news network pundits are legendary. Shit, in 1990 Trump took out a full-page newspaper ad asking for the death penalty against five black teenagers for a crime they did not commit. But a foreign enemy that has used cyber-attacks to interfere with our elections, along with aggressive international military moves in the middle east and all the rest, is a “hoax”?

“I have never discussed it with him.”


And what exactly does “discuss other things” entail?

Again, the Trump-Russian “thing” as Trump liked to call it when the president unceremoniously sacked the head of the FBI investing Russian interference that began to close in on him because a laughable preponderance of his campaign staff and people he tabbed for his cabinet had been busted talking to, making deals with, and having shady connections with Russian that began to surface as early as late 2016 and into 2017 when he was president, has been a consistent part of this presidency. It never fails to pop up. Why was Trump bragging to Russian diplomats about firing Director of the FBI James Comey hours afterwards in the Oval Office? Why did Trump make a deal with Russian ally and American enemy Turkey to pull troops from Russian stronghold Syria? And why did the United States pull 1,200 troops from Germany a few days after this mysterious July 23 call between Trump and Putin?

Now, to use a Trumpism, many say it’s because Putin has “something on Trump.” The infamous Steele dossier that has been proven mostly correct over years of scrutiny makes allegations of Trump’s sexual exploits during Russian visits. Of course, there is the money-laundering and ties to the Russian mafia, some of which came out during the Mueller investigation and has his personal lawyer, the demented troll Rudy Giuliani, in hot water. But I tend to dismiss these as too conspiratorial. I have always thought Trump too stupid to actually hatch this kind of clandestine plan. I have maintained, and Trump has shown this to be true on several levels during his public career as a conman, that his feckless, damaged psyche makes it easy for him to subjugate his fragile ego to strongmen – Putin being the Mac-Daddy. “Daddy” being the operative word here.

Think of Trump’s support for macho “domination of the streets”, as he commanded mayors during the first weeks of the George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protests, using force as the first resort. His praising of China’s use of tanks to murder students during the 1989 Tiananmen Square and the bombshell from former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s best-selling book, The Room Where It Happened about a private meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, wherein Trump advised Jinping to “go ahead with building concentration camps for Uighur Muslims” because it “was exactly the right thing to do.”

Whatever the reason, Trump has been and still is very much in the back-pocket of one of the most despotic leaders on the planet who has been at cyber war against the U.S. for the entire time he has been president. Blessedly, that time is coming to an ignominious close. The American health system, its economy, its democracy is in ruins. Planned or not, Trump has succeeded in helping Putin weaken America. As I wrote years ago, Trump is our greatest threat, a terrorist that must be stamped out this November to return us to a sovereign nation that holds our enemies accountable. Whatever issues Trump has with Putin or the Russians then becomes private. Let his hidden tax returns be someone else’s concern.

But make no mistake, something is going on with Trump and Russia, since the very beginning of this garbage-heap presidency. The latest actions of a president soon to be defeated is enough evidence. Listen carefully when the president questions our free and fair elections, our system, calling it “fraudulent”. Listen as he undermines the democracy and the nation he was elected to “lead” and see with your own eyes how the lives of American soldiers and our safety must take a backseat to the whims and wishes of a madman Russian.

“I have never discussed it with him.”

“That was a phone call to discuss other things.”

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Aquarian Weekly

Reality Check

James Campion

The Final Vestige of a Fascist Game Show Host President

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’
               – President Ronald Reagan, Aug. 12, 1986

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it — that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!
                 – Mario Savio, Sproul Hall, University of California, Berkeley, Dec. 2, 1964

Donald Trump is doomed, and he knows it, and he is aiming to spend these last months of his repellent presidency to take us down with him. He has shredded the constitution, flouted the rule of law, lied about everything possible while surrounding himself with Russian operatives and criminals, lining his and his family’s pockets for nearly four years. He is impeached, humiliated, beaten, and now he is coming for your cities. He is coming for your right to protest. The secret police paramilitaries the goober militias have warned us about has come to pass. The president of the United States had waged war on us – not the press, not the liberals, not his political opponents, everyone. We are his enemies. Donald J. Trump is against foreign wars, so he has invented one here and right now as I write this there are armed forces in Portland, Oregon, and soon they will invade Chicago, Illinois and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Not Bagdad. Not Berlin. Not Pyongyang. Not Khe Sanh. American cities.

Unmarked, fully armed agents tossing citizens into vans, macing and tear-gassing mayors and bystanders, arresting journalists and beating on middle-aged Navy vets is an excellent way of distracting the nation from the disease the president’s incompetence has let run amok, his inexplicable defense of the Confederacy, and thus, slavery, and his diving poll numbers, but while he can use his nickname attacks, damaging trade wars, his commuting of convicted felons, and his daddy-didn’t-love-me rages on Twitter to prop up his fragile, childlike ego, this end game – the final throes of a madman – shall not stand.

If I may be so bold to paraphrase; First they came for the media, but I’m not media, so I did not speak out, then they came for the progressives, but I’m not progressive, so I did not speak out, and then they came for the protestors, and I am not protesting, so I did not speak out, and then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

t’s not like this hasn’t happened before. Memphis, Tennessee in 1968 days before the daylight slaughter of Martin Luther King, in 1970 at Kent State, which took the lives of four unarmed students, and in 1999 on the streets of Seattle. It is a craven, ham-handed political move. It is only happening in Democrat-run cities. Trump is not even trying to hide it. In fact, it is the logical offshoot of the president’s fascist, racist Fourth of July speech in which he called protestors terrorists, and keeps doing it every day in these deranged, rambling political rallies dressed up as press conferences or Covid-19 updates. Trump clearly does not care anymore, if he ever did. He is a lame duck and his days are numbered and he is taking it out on the majority of Americans who have deemed him an abject failure, a stain on the America esthetic. We who mourn decency and coherent, functional leadership from a president are under attack.

Not Bagdad. Not Berlin. Not Pyongyang. Not Khe Sanh. American cities.

This is a president who cares more for statues than human life. He cancels his convention but demands you send your children back to school. He is apparently fine with four million Americans infected and over 140,000 dead. Its overrated, a hoax. He did a great job. This is our president.

Remember the caravan careening towards our borders before the 2018 mid-terms? There was no caravan. This was a tactic to scare people who clearly were disgusted and horrified by the first two years of this rancid, dysfunctional clusterfuck of an administration. And that was enough to wave into congress every leftist they could find to shove in Trump’s fat, orange face. The midterm landslide was the first repudiation. The final reckoning of the despotic state is coming. The only way to curtail it, to make one last gambit, is to use troops against us. Lincoln did it during the draft riots, Wilson used it to round up Germans during WWI, FDR used it to round-up Asian-Americans during WWII, Nixon used it to crush Vietnam protests. Each were during wartime, and it was unconstitutional then and it will always be, but this nightmare perpetuated by a bleating imbecile we handed the U.S Army over to, is an incredible new low.

In his monosyllabic, free-association word-diarrhea the other day Trump floated unleashing these thugs on New York City. Yes, please come. I live thirty-four miles from the island and it would be my pleasure to stand on the barricades and thwart the invading army, like Washington on the banks of the Hudson hunkered down against Mad King George’s forces that never came. The American Revolution would have been over in its first weeks had the British attacked, but they didn’t. They didn’t dare fuck with New York. Washington knew it. Trump? He doesn’t know anything. He may make his gravest mistake to come here.  

I propose we start to build a human ring, if we have to be armed, we do it, around the southern tip of Manhattan island and wait for Trump’s fascist invasion from DC. Our flag? Not American. That has been stolen, co-opted and sold to the Russians with the Trump logo on it. The only flag that ever mattered – Don’t Tread on Me. I shall take mine down from its honored perch above my writing nook and stand tall in front of the hordes denying this authoritarian act of aggression, because I love my daughter and my wife and my friends and my country. Fuck this racist autocrat. He does not stand for me. He is the terrorist. His time is coming in November. Three more months of this shit. But he will not get is dog-wagging moment on our watch. This ain’t Portland or Albuquerque or even Chicago. We already kicked Trump’s sad carcass out of the big city and sent him to Florida where everyone goes to die, like his presidency.

Our government is now at war with us.

We will win this war.    

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Aquarian Weekly
Reality Check

James Campion
Douse the Flames, Save the Property, Worry About Politics Later
I have been confronted lately with concerns about former VP and Senator Joe Biden’s candidacy for president. From the left; he’s not progressive enough, has a checkered past with women, supported a ridiculous crime bill, too old, and from the right; he’s senile, somehow all of a sudden after forty centrist years in DC is a radical Marxist or puppet of anarchy, and, of course, he’s a Democrat. Here’s the thing about Joe Biden. He is not Donald Trump. The current president is presiding over a three-alarm fire. The entire country – domestic, health, economic, moral, legal and foreign affairs are a complete and utter disaster. He is responsible for most of it and where he is not directly culpable he has made far worse. He is as lost, angry and destructive as many feared.

Another four years of this and there will no longer be an America, just the burnt wreckage of another Trump Enterprise – like two marriages, Atlantic City, Trump University, the USFL, or pretty much everything Trump has had anything to do with. Have you seen his kids? See Back to the Future II and Biff Tannen’s dystopian Hill Valley for the best reference or maybe take a gander at these tax records he’s gone all the way to the Supreme Court to hide from us, because why see the tax returns of a guy who claims he’s a great business man as the reason he ran for president in the first place?

As a result, what I have been telling these fine fence-sitting, lukewarm and dubious voters is, “Put out the fire first, then worry about where to set the furniture later.”

Things have become beyond desperate around here. Not even I thought Trump was this bad. The most cataclysmic national event of my lifetime, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the president of the United States is not only denying it is happening, he is, as is his wont, lying openly about it. He tells us among many other doozies, “99-percent of Coronavirus cases are totally harmless,” while he never wears a mask and mocks his own administration’s scientists and doctors. It’s like a Bond villain is running things. Can you fathom FDR’s fireside chats centering around his big radio ratings during the Great Depression, never mind WWII? This is this generation’s WWII, and the president is telling us there are no Nazis and Pearl Harbor was a media hoax.

Now, I am no alarmist, but since March, over 130,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. We are the most infected country on the planet, and it’s not even close. Europe and Mexico won’t even allow us in. Forget about the argument I have already made months ago that this could have been abridged by mere competence and an embrace of science, but after waiting a month to do anything, the president spent six weeks paying lip service to the threat, turning “daily updates” into mini propaganda rallies. And never once during them did he ever show empathy for the sick and dying or their families or anything that didn’t feed his insatiable ego.

It got so bad for Trump and the nation, advisors shut these farces down. Then for the past two months, Trump officially announced the virus defeated and the threat over. He held rallies. No masks. No social-distancing. People on his staff got infected. Rally goers got infected. So, it is not over. In fact, on the whole, it is getting worse. The president is now quite literally killing civilians. To compound this madness, he and his Secretary of Education Betty DeVos are demanding states fully open schools this September and endanger our children. Remember when Republicans were so into states’ rights they would rather African-Americans be stripped of their rights to preserve them? Shit, during the Reagan Administration kids were everything, now it’s “Fuck kids.”

Let’s check out other parts of this raging blaze.

The Russians having been paying bounties to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq since last year and nothing is being done about it. In fact, this rather important breech of security and the safety of our troops has been kept from congress and the American people. Trump’s defense? He didn’t know anything about it. We have already covered the Department of Justice being run as if a mafia-like strong-arm of the White House. Dozens of former administration officials have left Trump and immediately put on the record his ineptitude, mental shortcomings, laziness, narcissism and general sloppy, careless behavior. He predictably denies all of this and then follows it up by swiping his phone like a teenager during an economic press conference while we endure the worst financial crisis in over a century. Almost no one that has been around this administration considers it anything less than a constant danger.

It’s like a Bond villain is running things.

It is also important that our next president not defend and embrace dictators. What the hell is this shit? I know it’s a daddy issue to worship strongmen and get their approval, but we’re trying to have a democracy here. And can we try and remember there are still children being kept in cages at the border? Detrimental Chinese tariffs and the gutting of the state department, demeaning and ignoring allies abroad, and campaign fraud to pay-off porn stars. The non-existent new border wall, the radical abuse of the emoluments clause, and the relentlessly insane tweets about nothing but his thin skin. Using the military for his own vanity and to teargas Americans enacting their right to protest. And what about all these criminals being tried and convicted all around him? His children and the people they are currently sleeping with are running half the government and a white supremacist, Stephen Miller is running just about everything else while Trump watches TV all day and plays golf.

Then there is this obsession with the confederacy and these stupid monuments. Trump’s Fourth of July speech at Mount Rushmore was by far the most divisive and inflammatory pile of authoritarian gibberish every uttered outside a KKK rally. It declared war on the American people, or at least a majority of them who have never supported him. Trump will be the first president to ever serve a full term in the age of polling to lose the popular vote when elected and follow that up by never having anything close to a positive approval rating. He has waged war on the free press, the FBI, the CIA, generals in the military, the Republican Party, congress, and even his own advisors for nearly four miserable years of failure.

Donald Trump is the third president in American history to be impeached. This happened seven months ago and in the face of this conflagration, it’s treated as a mere flesh wound.

This is a resilient democracy we’ve carved out. It has endured many hardships and ugly, horrible stains. Lunatics, racists, criminals and despots have held office on all levels and we’re still here. But we got rid of those assholes because there is a limit to the damage America can have inflicted upon it. Enough of Trump. This was an experiment that failed… miserably. It has to stop. And it has to stop this November. Period.

Complaining about Joe Biden is like whining about the rain at Gettysburg.

The house is on fire.

We need to put it out.

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Aquarian Weekly
Reality Check

James Campion
The Systemic Anarchy of The Final Days of Trump
The Justice Department is a sinkhole of criminal activity and another miserable stain on this abortion presidency. In a long line of Attorney’s General that have crawled the gutters of Washington’s most rancid sewers, William Barr has become its Lizard King. The president and his bag man don’t even care anymore – if they ever did – who knows it. The bell is tolling for El Douche and he chooses to go out by running this country like some half-assed mafia and there isn’t a fucking thing this toothless congress will do about it. And they know it. “Fuck America,” Barr says in the darkness of his office, his shirt opened to his sweating, bulbous stomach hiding the grip he holds on his bottle of cheap mezcal. “This is Trump Enterprises,” he burps. “And I have the platinum card.”

Donald Trump’s AG has always been a cheap hack and a backroom sneak – Barr infamously prompted George H. W. Bush’s pardon of Ronald Reagan’s convicted criminals in the sordid Iran/Contra affair and continued his deep-state career working back channels to meliorate sentences or disrupt investigations against the most heinous anti-American thugs in the annals of this nation as a matter of course. Barr is thick with Washington D.C. shit, making him the perfect ally for this bleating troll of a president, who has openly turned the rule law into blood sport to better feed his insatiable vanities.

In the past year, Barr has flouted the very foundation of law because in the certain circles Barr and Trump are the law. There is no other explanation for the bizarre behavior coming from the DOJ, which this week was yanked further into the open as Aaron Zelinsky, an assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland formerly detailed to the Russia investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, told the House Judiciary Committee that prosecutors involved in the criminal trial of Trump’s aide and political bottom-feeder, Roger Stone experienced “heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice” to give Stone “a break” by requesting a lighter sentence. U.S. attorney general Michael B. Mukasey and former deputy attorney general Donald Ayer followed Zelinsky by stating under oath that several questionable orders from the attorney general has led him to conclude that Barr “poses the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law.”

While the Stone case was being debated in congress, a divided federal appeals court ordered the dismissal of the case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about illegally negotiating with Russia before Trump was even sworn in. Barr undermined the case of his own department was making against an admitted guilty defendant in the same clumsy way he had injected the DOJ into the Stone case, which was only a cause célèbre because he was Trump’s buddy. No competent lawyer in the country could fathom any other reason why the attorney general of the United States would deign to be involved in a case being brought forth by local jurisdiction or intervene in a federal one against a defendant his own boss initially watched spin in the wind.

This banana republic behavior began in 2017, after Trump fired the FBI director to stunt the investigation into his campaign’s myriad of weird connections to several Russians after they had infiltrated the U.S. presidential election. After denying this ever happened, despite intelligence evidence to the contrary, the president was known to bray, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” to anyone who would listen when his then attorney general, Jeff Sessions recused himself from any role in the Justice Department Russia investigation. Unbeknownst to our game show president, but not a lifelong politician like Sessions, the FBI is part of the Justice Department not the legal counsel for him.

For narrative clarification, Roy Cohn is generally accepted as one of the worst human beings to ever infect this planet – a treasonous murderer, among other sundry hobbies – long before he became Trump’s mentor in 1970s New York. A disgraced lawyer, Cohn was an aging homophobic queen jacked up on so much cocaine he could barely form sentences when he met Trump, but his hate and rage turned The Donald on. This made sense. Cohn had a lot of Trump’s daddy in him – a vengeful racist, anti-Semitic, paranoiac, whose hatred was outweighed only by an acute self-loathing. This is what Trump wanted for an attorney general, and so he turned to Bill Barr when Sessions was relentlessly ridiculed and sent packing into the gory afterbirth of history. Like all of Trump’s dismissals, when Cohn died ravaged by AIDS in 1986, the future president ignored his calls and publicly denied even knowing him.

Barr began things with a Cohn-like bang when he infamously misled – okay, that is like saying the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground – let’s say created damnable fiction out of a pre-public Mueller Report, claiming there was nothing to see. Days later, when the damning document outlined several obstructions of justice by the president, it was painfully clear Barr was Cohn and Trump had his personal counsel and the DOJ would act as the corrupt arm of a burgeoning fascist state.

That was the good news.

Barr is thick with Washington D.C. shit, making him the perfect ally for this bleating troll of a president, who has openly turned the rule law into blood sport.

Barr then set about disrupting every ongoing investigation of this president – and man, there are quite a few. My friend Pete from Jersey recently reminded me how it boggles the mind to even contemplate much less accept that a sitting president of the United States had to pay $25 million for defrauding citizens with his phony college and make payoffs using campaign funds to porn stars and his unchecked tax evasion hidden by sequestered tax records, and, well, you know the deal. It is way too much to cover here.

Barr has used his post as law as a way, much like Nixon and his convicted felon AG, John Mitchell, to divert storylines and block the course of justice to better insulate a partisan divide. It is not unlike the national socialist infusion into 1930s German law or Castro’s consolidation of “legal” power in 1959. Anyone with the slightest grasp of political history can see Barr’s power-addled nonsense from a mile away.

Perhaps the best example lies in the end of the previous week when at ten at night on a Friday, the usual cold news time, Barr announced the retirement of U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman. Berman, as we all know now, released a statement the next day refuting this and went on to declare he had no intention of stepping down and cease the host of ongoing cases against Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani’s shadow government shenanigans, Trump campaign finance violations over the Stormy Daniels payments, part of which led to the conviction of Trump’s other lawyer, Michael Cohen, and a deep dive on illegal activates by the only financial institution who would do business with Trump over the past decade, Deutsche Bank.

Barr’s ham-fisted move to force a “retirement” was quickly surmised by Berman as another Trump shell game. Back in February, the same scam was run on U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie Liu. Trump smugly dangled a promotion of a “big job” at Treasury as trade bait for her resignation. One might call this a quid pro quo. Once Liu acquiesced, the promotion was predictably rescinded on grounds that Liu was “insufficiently loyal to Trump”. Embarrassed by Berman’s uncovering of yet another blundering coup, Barr was forced to sack him. Barr sited the president’s wishes as the reason, as only he could fire a federal prosecutor, but Trump, again, unaware of how anything in this government works, claimed it was Barr’s call and knew nothing about it.

As stated above, with poll numbers sinking rapidly, a disease out of control that the president denies is even happening, and Trump taking the side of the fallen confederacy in the face of millions marching for racial justice, Barr knows the end is nigh, so he is left to operate on a wild west “who cares” axiom. Barr and Trump can’t even, nor do they necessarily, bother to give a crap if they even get their lies straight anymore. It is just one overgrown disease equaling a Covid-19 level virus spreading on this flatlining presidency.

There are still many months left for this duo to take down the United States. And they are openly showing they aim to do so.

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Aquarian Weekly
Reality Check

James Campion
Military, Religion, Police
I applaud the people protesting every day around the world since that atrocity a few weeks back that took the life of yet another black man at the hands of a lunatic white cop. This is odd for me, the man who has repeatedly mocked grassroots attempts to upend entrenched social and political nonsense. I even tried to keep my wife from marching in the Women’s March after “Grab Their Pussies” Boy got elected president. But she went. Two years later a boatload of young women whisked into congress. I would like to think those millions who joined Erin were a pretty significant reason.

And I especially would like to applaud the Black Lives Matter crowd because, like the previous countless times minorities have stormed the streets – peacefully or violently – against injustices, it reminds me why I work the keyboard to fill words in here weekly. It is damned inspiring, and, amazingly, it has had an effect.

If you would have told me that the right wing of our political system would have come around on police reform simply because “defunding the police” has gained serious polling momentum in this country a few weeks ago, hell, a few days ago, I would have laughed heartily and went back to the cigars and gin. But that is what’s happened! Even our game show president has taken a moment from his racist rants and defending the Confederacy to cobble some half-assed thing together to placate the movement. More importantly, and with less pandering, states, counties and municipalities throughout the fifty states have begun overhauling and changing laws involving chokeholds, use of deadly weapons, pulling back on police weaponry and other measures to hold cops accountable for unwarranted violence against the citizenry.

It’s a hell of a start. Because it is important for everyone to know that in my lifetime, or really anyone’s lifetime, cops have always been a member of the Untouchable Triumvirate: the military, organized religion and the police. As a social experiment, it is fascinating, but as a democratic premise it is horrifying that these three institutions have been mostly above oversight or even simply questioning.

You’ve heard it: “The military protects us and gives us the right to complain, so shut the fuck up about it taking sixty percent of the national budget every year and spending obscene money it does not need to police the world and engage in pointless wars, and during all of it commit atrocities against humanity.” That is the answer to anyone questioning the military about anything. It gets so bad that the military has been entangled in the national discussion with the American flag forever. Kneeling during the national anthem and burning a flag is immediately spitting on our troops. And when you protest bullshit military engagements, like every single one since World War II, you are kicking the guy who joined the Army in the balls.

That is some monumental untouchable shit.

Then there is religion. Like the police, it has a self-granted insular regulating policy that the rest of us cannot touch. For instance, if say what has gone on in the Catholic Church over the past century-plus, and in this country for decades, with all the raping of children and incessant cover-ups, goes down at Amazon or Macy’s or U.S Steel, would we just turn our heads? Would we send our kids to schools and colleges supporting pedophilia? Why is it when it comes to kids being in harm’s way in every other walk of life we can halt the planet from spinning, but with religion, “It’s okay, they’ll handle it.” But they don’t handle it. It goes on. It is still going on and they are still lying about it.

This untouchable concept also goes for all the craziness religions espouse, like discrimination against women, gays, race, or really everything that is not included as a tenet in their religion, and they do it on American soil and completely bypass the laws the rest of us have to endure. Oh, also, god forbid you question the tax-exempt status of any religion, including, by the way, fucking Scientology.   


It is horrifying that these three institutions have been mostly above oversight or even simply questioning.

And so, that brings us to the police; with its impenetrable dome protected by insane deals struck with an intractable union that has one job; and that gig is not to Protect and Serve the public, it is to Protect and Serve the police force. It is the strongest union ever devised by human imagination and it is a monster. I wish I could write that you have to shoot an unarmed man in the back or choke a man to death on video to get fired, but you can’t even get fired for that! Ever. And we keep arming these maniacs with street tanks, chemical gases, stun-guns, you name it.

Untouchable Champion.  

I am always amused how police unions flip the political narrative on its head. Conservatives hate unions of all kinds, except the police union. Liberals bend into pretzels to defend even the most corrupt and useless unions but hammer hard at the police. Either way, the reality is that police unions make it nearly impossible to relegate, fire, press charges against or even reprimand shitty cops, especially criminal ones. Union bosses had the nerve to hold a press conference this week in NYC to bitch about how they are the victims. “Let us do whatever we need to do!” they shouted. What line of work gets that kind of carte blanche? Somehow, unlike everything on planet earth there are good things and bad things, but there are apparently no bad cops. And none of them can commit a crime.

And as stated before here, I am not sweeping the entire system under, but everyone agrees, except cops, that it is far worse when there is a shitty cop than a shitty baker or candlestick maker. In fact, I have always defended the idea that the police should be put on a higher plane, because they represent society, they stand for how we wish for society to run, without crime and rape and murder and crazy shit you see daily that these poor fuckers have to deal with. When a cop is killed, and everything stops – huge ceremonies filled with solemn dignitaries – I never blanch. And if someone shoots a cop, I believe they are telling us, they’re checking out of society. Period. It is important we give the police their due. If so, then why can’t we then put them under the same level of scrutiny when they perform heinous acts while wearing our uniform that we pay for to represent us?

Now, finally, it must be said here that in all of these institutions there has been and continues to be raging systemic racism and misogyny, which reflects most of society, but is magnified because in the case of two of them, we’re paying for it, and the other one, religion, gets a free ride. At least two perform a tangible service. I don’t know how religion gets away with it. Superstition? Maybe some of them provide soup kitchens, rehab centers and shelters, and that’s great, but it pales in comparison to what police and the military deal with every day.

But no matter how you slice it, I think this movement must expand to break-up the Untouchable Triumvirate. Moral monopolies don’t work.

Then you’ll see some change.  

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Aquarian Weekly
Reality Check

James Campion
A Photo as Microcosm of a Weird, Dying Presidency
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
– Revelation 21:8
The lasting image of the Donald J. Trump presidency in its final throes is worthy of a Pulitzer and should one day hang in a museum next to other great post-modern American art, or at least shoved into the back of a macabre Hall of Curiosities.

An elderly man with a burnt-orange countenance, permanent scowl, queerly coiffed and colored hair, his suit draped in a simian frump upon his obese frame, stands disturbingly statuesque holding a Bible as a silent weapon. Behind him is a boarded-up church. Flanking him, out of this seminal shot, is a line of older white men and one woman; one of the men, also bizarrely fat for someone dressed in army fatigues, casts a pose of menace. Just out of their frame are hundreds of armed police – secret police, national guard and unknown forces deployed by the Department of Justice – many of whom have just gassed and shoved and beaten peaceful protesters aside to make room for this most starkly honest portrayal of the American performance. Beyond them is a country damaged by a pandemic, burning from anger and fear, millions out of work. Still, there he stands. Saying nothing. Posing for the photo that defines a presidency.

“Is that your Bible?” someone asks.

“It is a Bible,” he says.

Odd. Staged. Cryptic. Grotesque. Defiant. Stoic. Vacant. The image is all of these and so much more. Mostly, it is a symbol of the dying conceit of America – rich, privileged, illiterate, myopic, macho, nostalgically tone-deaf and rapidly irrelevant. The world spins, evolves, progresses, as the figure, lost in his own bubble, remains immovable, turgidly crippled by illusion. Hatred sustains him.

This has been some three-plus years, huh? I promised at the onset of what I rightly predicted as the coming abortion of a presidency that I would not comment on how strange things would get compared to prior “normal” presidencies, because I knew coming in that Donald Trump was not going to be a normal president, or really any kind of president. Even up until that fateful first presidential debate when there was a scintilla of a chance I may have been wrong about Trump, that he was some kind of genius savant that despite being a deplorable human may end up surprising us all. Five minutes in, the joke was over, and recorded it so in this space. Trump proved himself that evening to be a bumbling fool, a mere puppet of the radical right sent as an avatar for long-debunked theories about white supremacy and the power of familial wealth over democracy.

And it turns out those seventy-seven thousand people who made him president against the wishes of the majority, by nearly three-million votes, wanted this type of president. Someone who shook things up, even destroyed the status quo. And if that was the yardstick, then Trump is the most successful of American presidents. As an actual chief executive and commander-in-chief, he has authored the worst first term in modern or maybe all of American history. He has pissed on the constitution, flouted the rule of law, caused divisions in gender, race, politics, generation, and more. For those seventy-seven thousand, mission accomplished.  For the rest of us, he has been an abject failure living in his own cocoon of lies and deceit, believing he is indestructible and his greatness unquestioned. The photo shows us all of this.

The photo is also significant in painting this dim moment of a fading presidency. Trump is virtually alone now, with only the most radical religious fanatics, wannabe fascists, Neo-Nazis and the KKK left to defend him. Maybe some people who want more conservative judges and who hate the media and smarmy social-progressive assholes like me who view them as sub-mental, anti-American goons, might still root him on, but their time too is up. No one functioning remains in the White House beyond anti-immigration and evangelical zealots. Television personalities, wives of confused right-wing intellectuals and people currently fucking Trump’s daughter are left to run the scraps of this mess. The president is alone, clinging to any prop that might remind him that once he pulled an inside electoral-college straight against the worst political opponent in history. Without Hillary Clinton and those poor suckers who thought they might “shake things up’ but were left with disease, unemployment and now streets filled with people who have had enough of police-state racism and old-world dog-whistle politics, the man in the photo is history’s shit-stain.

Do not underestimate the power of the photo. It is there to remind us of our ugliness, pettiness, our scramble to hoist blame on everyone and everything, instead of looking in the mirror. It is a warning that this happened, is happening, and can happen again. In five months, we can change this, and the photo will be a sad reminder that when we scapegoat, look for messianic figures wrapped in a TV-show grift, buy on the cheap, choose the inflicting of pain on enemies rather than leadership or governance, we are left as we are now: in flames, sick and broke.

And so, it has come to pass; our lasting photo of the Trump presidency, which I have named “Psychopath with a Bible”. It’s a powerful, atavistic image of the old, white, rich racist – a dying breed, infested, weak, grasping on some fantasy of the past – that puts a bow on this presidency.

Frame it. Stare at it. Come November, remember it. End it.

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Aquarian Weekly

Reality Check

James Campion

“I Can’t Breathe” Part II

A riot is the language of the unheard.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Minneapolis is burning. A police precinct is breached. There is the usual looting and insanity, calls for calm, mayoral and gubernatorial speeches, and some dumb shit blurted on the internet by our game show host president. We have pretty much seen this all before. Why? How? Usually we have a difficult time coming to hard, cold answers here. We mostly muse. We parse. We mock. We deconstruct rigid realities from stories with many plot twists and angles. This one is easy.

Nearly six years ago a forty-four year-old unarmed African-American man was choked to death in broad daylight by a twenty-nine year-old police officer named Daniel Pantaleo in Staten Island, New York. Several police officers held down Garner or looked on as he pleaded, “I can’t breathe!” It was captured on camera. The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide. Five months later a Richmond County grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo or any other cop on the scene. Naturally, people, like me, went nuts. I commented on it more in-depth at the time, so please read it to get my original gist.

But, really, what gist is there to get? Garner was murdered. Yet, Pantaleo didn’t go to jail. He was fired because he used an illegal chokehold on Garner, which, of course, killed him. But, you know, he murdered a man on video shouting “I can’t breathe!” and he is a free man.

Now fast-forward nearly six years. An unarmed George Floyd is murdered by a police officer, on tape, in broad daylight. The incident is eerily similar and much sadder, because we already had Garner’s case to look back on.

Floyd, a forty-six year-old black man, was attempting to pass a twenty-dollar counterfeit bill at a corner store. Someone at the store called 911. That call was odd in itself. The transcript reveals that the caller observed the man as “not acting right” and assumed drunk or high. The 911 operator asks, “What’s he look like, what race?”

Um… what?

The cops show up – four of them. They pull Floyd out of his car. They walk him uneventfully to the police car and he collapses. Then three officers, one of them, Derek Chauvin, forty-four and white, hold him down. Chauvin though, puts his knee and his full weight on Floyd’s neck. Floyd pleads, “I can’t breathe!” Let me stand up! I can’t breathe!” Chauvin is clearly pushing his weight down on his neck with each plea for eight minutes.

Eight minutes!

I’ll tell you what, find someone, even your fifty-pound kid to kneel on your neck for eight minutes. Get back to me.

Then Floyd becomes predictably unconscious. The police pull his lifeless body onto a stretcher. He was dead. We know this because medics could not find a pulse in the ambulance. This is usually the sign of death. I am sure there is someone who will refute the concept of death as a counter-political argument for this, but let’s go with “no pulse equals death” for the remainder of this column and for all time, shall we?

Mayor Jacob Frye was asked on national television if he thought this incident rose to the level of murder. He said, “I do.”

The incident is eerily similar and much sadder, because we already had Garner’s case to look back on.

Then, (cue the dramatic music), riots, looting, police vans being ransacked, cops in armored gear tossing smoke grenades and shooting rubber bullets into crowds. The city, as mentioned, is still on fire. I have a friend there, a screenplay writer, and she is frightened for her life.

This all could have been avoided. We had nearly six years to get on this. One man, regardless of race or vocation, kneels on another man’s neck until he dies. This is murder. I don’t need to know the circumstances. Also, I agree, and have written about this extensively for twenty-three years here, that police officers should be held to a higher order, they represent and protect our society. But then they also should be held to higher standards. But even using normal social standards, Chauvin killed Floyd, just as certain as Pantaleo killed Garner. If Pantaleo is not convicted of said crime, then it can and will happen again.

And it did.

This is similar to this nation’s initial reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was slow, confusing, mostly non-existent. It was a sloppy, embarrassing, deadly farce. It could have been curtailed. Instead it was not. One-hundred thousand people didn’t have to die. Just like if the people who were responsible for security at Newark Airport had done their jobs, not being heroes, just doing their jobs, there would have been no 9/11 attacks. If Pantaleo had been convicted of a clear crime of at least manslaughter, perhaps Chauvin would have thought twice about leaning onto a man’s neck until he died, and Minneapolis would not be on fire right now.

Or, to take us all the way back, as I have done with 9/11 and this pandemic, how about Chauvin having two prior violent incidents as a police officer that went unchecked. Not that this is pertinent to this case directly. I get it is part of the gig, but this guy appears to be a little shoot-happy. In light of Floyd’s death, Minneapolis authorities look as if they kind of averted their eyes to this guy. And while I do not condone riots, we know this shit is going to go down if this happens again and yet there appears never to be any justice in these cases and that just makes violent retribution a possibility, or, as the King quote above states, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

Beyond all of this, I ask; When are we going to confront this issue? How about all the energy we spend getting pissed at NFL players for kneeling (ironically) to protest the inordinate number of African-Americans killed by police officers in this country, we use that fervor to find out why it keeps happening and do something about it when it does.

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