Aquarian Weekly 9/19/01 REALITY CHECK


The gaping wound smoldering from the southern tip of Manhattan, that was once the center of international commerce, a symbol for the influence of free market capitalism and the global power of democracy, is a testament to the transparent safety of this nation. America, as a verbal and metaphoric target of Arab nations and rogue Islamic factions, has now truly become a bloody reality amid the carnage and death, where once stood two of the word’s largest edifices in its greatest city.

Pearl Harbor?

Far worse. For the first time since 1812, there was a foreign attack on the mainland of the United States. This time it was an invisible enemy infiltrating airports, federal institutions, hijacking airplanes and confusing covert intelligence, air traffic control, law enforcement and the entirety of the US government.

In its wake is the fear of vulnerability. Something we have always believed was the worry of those poor people “over there”; Russia, China, Korea, Israel, Kuwait, Serbia, et al.

It was a fear I experienced minutes after both towers of the World Trade Center toppled into the streets of lower New York, while tooling up Route 17 to the apex of a hill in Ramsey, NJ; the skyline of Manhattan covered in an ominous billow of creeping soot. Right across the river, in the city I grew up in, mere blocks from where I was born. Not across the globe, but across the street. Friends, acquaintances and family in ground zero of a war zone.

Pearl Harbor was a military installation in the Far East, breathing down the neck of an Axis Power. The World Trade Center is downtown, where I was a few days before, having a drink on McDougal Street, as I’d done hundreds of times; taking in the hypnotizing lights of the mighty buildings.

They are now gone, and with them, thousands of innocent lives. American lives. New Yorkers. Not Libyans, Palestinians, Serbians or Vietnamese, but people very much like myself, saying good-bye to their spouses and children that fateful morning. Before long they were reduced to suicidal jumpers or a gruesome part of the charred ruin.

Before the counting is done, the horrific numbers will dwarf Pearl Harbor, the Titanic, and even the most soldiers lost in the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

Two hundred and twenty-five years of this republic cannot offer a tragedy to equal one of this magnitude.

It is abundantly clear the United States was not prepared for it. Despite video threats and Internet notes from the underground al-Jihad, Hizballah, Abu Sayyaf etc., and a decade of attacks on embassies, battle ships and spy planes bankrolled by billionaire terrorist point-man, Usama Bin Laden to the contrary.

Two hundred and twenty-five years of this republic cannot offer a tragedy to equal one of this magnitude.

Car bombs, loons with submachine guns, maybe. But a highly strategic, sophisticated attack on the nation’s largest city and its military epicenter on domestic, commercial airlines with plastic box-cutters and US pilot licenses?

How could this happen here?

The Central Intelligence Agency has not been the same for the past thirty years plus. For whatever economic, political or legal reasons you subscribe, the manpower has been woefully low and the tools, although modern and state-of-the-art, has failed time and again to avoid dangers previously thwarted. Certainly the continued presence of a Saddam Hussien in the Middle East speaks volumes on this sad fact.

Airport security, despite being annoying to many travelers, has been deemed lax by recent media investigations and FBI reports over the past few years. Understaffed? Pressured to cutback to keep prices competitive? Either way, they remain a gateway to danger and a key suspect in this momentous war crime.

A myriad of reasons from police presence to security surveillance to military awareness have been and will be dissected for hours, days and years. But the main reason our lives have been thrown in sunder and threatened within our borders may well be simple apathy.

The signs have been there. The hatred of America abroad is palpable, especially in the Middle East, where the fanatical religious fervor is off the charts. Perhaps the fat and happy among us chose to think this country too big and bold, untouchable in every sense of the word.

There is plenty of blame, but it doesn’t tell the full story.

When the bodies have been counted, the rubble swept away, and the memorials echo into history, much of the backbone of this penultimate terrorist attack will bare out.

We will shudder when we find out that many American insiders and Fundamentalist Muslim sympathizers were on Bin Laden’s payroll; trained pilots, crew members, employees, even citizens boarding those planes. We will marvel at the planning, money, government spies and US intelligence leaks over years of compilation that lent itself to this atrocity on our land.

And we will see hour after hour of footage of those airplanes crashing through those buildings. We will see and hear more terrifying stories of an American city turned into the set of some outlandish Godzilla movie. Beirut in the summertime, Judgment Day ten times over. Chelsea Piers turned into a morgue, St. Vincent’s hospital a veritable triage.

Throughout this difficult time there will be a great deal of macho loon-speak about bombing innocents on every continent available, nuclear holocaust and wiping out the towel-heads. Thankfully, they have nothing to do with whispering to the president, who as of this writing has come off as a man doing a great deal of listening.

George W. Bush’s robotic speech to a nation, wondering where the hell he’d been for nearly ten hours of the crisis, is a strong clue that many educated, level-headed types know exactly what balls have been dropped in these months of national slumber.

The right people know where and who and why and how. And now perhaps in the shadow of this incredulous doom they will be allowed to go where they need to go and pay whom they have to pay and grease all the right dupes who need to be protected from the anger of this nation. And you can bet they will sing like the proverbial canary, and the number of names and their affiliating states will be stupefying.

Already we hear from them, condemning these acts, giving blood, sending resources, and begging to be on board against the evil menace called terrorism. Their protests are just a little too loud. Their press conferences a tad too staged. And it will be all in the name of self-preservation, because they will all be guilty and they certainly will all pay in one way or the other.

If this country wants its people to continue to give billions of its earnings to rebuilding and aiding and protecting everyone everywhere, we must demand restitution now. Everything on this globe worth a shit outside of Russia and China has the smell of American money, technology, science and know-how on it.

It is time we get some interest back and get these countries, all of these countries, to start handing over every known terrorist suspect for the past thirty years, their affiliates and their money sources.

Bombing cities and showing off military power might be comforting to angry emotions, but pales in the face of true, methodical eradication of the disease that threatens the free world. But, alas, the greatest threat is hatred. And hatred will never cease.

But freedom must not be curtailed as a result. So we will all be a potential victim, because freedom is worth it.

There is, and never will be, a completely safe haven from hatred when you stroll the streets of gold in the best example of collective humanity any nation or philosophy has imagined.

At nearly 9 am on a sunny Tuesday morning we were finally awakened to that fact.

Now, what do we do about it?

Next Week Part II – Enemies of Reason or The God Bullshit Must Cease

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 9/5/01 REALITY CHECK


There is little point in deriding California congressman, Gary Condit anymore. He is something akin to a cured disease, once feared, but quelled by vaccination. The wonder drug was television. One half hour worth of talking to be exact. Less than thirty seconds was all that was needed, really. America welcomed Capital Hill into its homes. The incredibly ineffective vague references and non-denial denials that we sponsor in Washington nicely displayed and wrapped up between GAP commercials.

Before the credits rolled on what is now dubbed, “The Connie Chung Mistake” in San Mateo County, the Democratic party’s top spin machine was in full force, moving districts around to include right wing hooters and liberal yahoos to “put the Condit business on ice.” This is how it’s done in big government. While the last of the congressman’s supporters stock up on office supplies before the end comes, blockade redistricting begins.

And the end will come for mister “respect for the Levy’s”, whether he goes quietly or not. This has already been decided, and it will not be his choice. That option ceased when a cadre of lawyers convinced the congressman that whatever fuck-awful advice put him in that chair across from Maury Povich’s wife, it could not have come from anyone claiming sanity. There is no way the rest of his congressional brethren can allow any more jack-asses out of the barn. At least not within 12 months of Election Day.

Anyone with any hope of a political career does not contact a major network and treat it like an evasive hooker statement in the bowels of a city police department. That was videotape of a man rehearsing for trial, not political backsliding.

They would have us believe that Condit is some sort of mutant, a horrible aberration. They will sell us the biblical imagery of the sheep wandering from the righteous flock. “Pray for Gary Condit,” they will say. “Pray for his corrupted soul. We shall cut him out of our clan like a cancerous cell. How this all happened, we cannot tell. But we will get him the help he needs, and most importantly, replace him with someone closer to our own moral fortitude.”

And it will be as false as Condit himself, because nearly every one of these sanctimonious cretins have a story to tell, maybe not as unfortunate as Gary Condit, with missing interns leaving incriminating phone messages et al, but stories just the same.

There is a cellblock mentality running through the heart of congress right now. Secretaries are on the alert to curtail visits, postpone luncheons and keep the cub reporters at bay. When this kind of whistle blows, there is a bunker instinct, like roaches scurrying to find refuge when the kitchen light is flicked on. There is no natural heroism in the roach heart. He will leave his companions behind to find cover.

Believe that the branded loner has already been separated, ostracized like the King Leper, and when the smoke clears, things will be back to normal.

Condit knows this. Anyone with any hope of a political career does not contact a major network and treat it like an evasive hooker statement in the bowels of a city police department. That was videotape of a man rehearsing for trial, not political backsliding. The mistake by most pundits after the thing ended was to try and compare it to Nixon’s “Checker’s Speech” or the Bill Clinton follies. Condit is a small timer, a cub in a lion’s den of bullshit. Nixon and Clinton were the big time, men fit for the presidency. Congress is the minor leagues of deceit. They enjoy the pack mentality of who is responsible for what district. There are far too many of them to finger. They hide in numbers and avoid real confrontation; therefore they have minor lying skills.

Condit is nothing more than a beer-league softballer sent up to pinch-hit at Yankee Stadium in the seventh game of the World Series. He was excruciatingly out of his league, and he struck out looking at a nasty Chung slider down and in. The bat never left his slumped shoulder. It was sad, yet compelling to watch, like witnessing the savage attack of plains wildebeests being torn apart by ravenous coyote.

There was a queasy sort of snuff film quality about it. The man appeared ambushed, as if he hadn’t asked for the time to plead his case, but was dragged from of Chuck Manson’s cubbyhole to answer for the mass slayings of millionaires.

The best guess of most practicing attorneys I’ve contacted was that Condit tried to set himself up as some manner of victim, a Pilate/Jesus scenario, where people would weep at his crucifixion and write romantic sonnets to his demise. But that backfired into a transparent cry for help; fake hair, fake smile, and a deep-seeded guilt written in large letters across his sweaty forehead.


You want reality television?

Minority leader, Dick Gephart changed his tune almost immediately after the carnage. Many in his offices barely had to time to comment before the Missouri congressman started painting Condit as a lecherous little wart-heel capable of all modes of unspeakable evil; and how can you really comment after Gephart spent weeks raising Condit’s behavior as the font of integrity? You cannot.

And they did not. And now people continue to ponder Condit’s political future, as if he had one. It’s tantamount to listening to Pete Rose yammer on about his plans for Cooperstown.

It’s over, and the boys down in Virginia are already replacing this one with another. One who is as quiet and reserved as they on matters of sex and money. One that wouldn’t be caught dead heaving incriminating evidence in alleyway dumpsters all over town.

And every night they go to the local church and pray to whatever god will listen that something in their closets doesn’t turn up missing or dead or in front of some damned Grand Jury.

How is government supposed to run with all this distraction?

Goddamn media.

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Stem-Cell Research Exposed gets to the nucleus of the matter.

Aquarian Weekly 8/22/01 REALITY CHECK


Politically, George W. Bush’s fractured decision to allow some government funding for some stem-cell research was eerily Clintonian in its approach. He has come as advertised.

Many of his supporters last summer did a great deal of behind-the-scenes crowing that Bush would get elected on being a centrist, which they cleverly labeled compassionate-conservative, and come out in the first few months of his presidency laying the groundwork for a more conservative agenda. And then, faced with his first true controversial issue, they promised he’d check the polls and split the difference. His predecessor would be proud.

Ideologically, and coming from a position of no-win, the president’s eventual solution was sober and empathetic, but a tad disingenuous when reflected in the dusty mirror of his campaign rhetoric. This was not so much Clinton bending to the right to save his presidency, as much as it was a case of Bush’s moral ambiguity.

We test animals and now embryos. Then it will be fetuses and infants. Pretty soon they’ll come for useless dregs of society like Carrot Top and those monotone Jehovah Witness freaks who come to the door to remind you that you are doomed. Oh, and then they’ll come for you.

Even when the Texas governor was firing up the brimstone for the Religious Right those last few months of the campaign by swearing on the graves of the prophets that he would never endanger the potential for human life in the name of science, he was privately torn. This was evidenced by the extra few minutes the president pained over the decision. After all, this was a man, who cut the review time on Texas executions in half to avoid detail.

The stem-cell matter wasn’t exactly the secession of the southern states from the union or Harry Truman’s A-Bomb dilemma, but this was a tough call for Bush. Especially in an age of speeding technological discovery that overwhelms our view of the world on a daily basis. But despite his adamant rants to the contrary, the president had to realize that he would be remembered for this only in a good light simply by opening Pandora’s box. The debate on the genesis of life will rage on regardless of the consequences of stem-cell research. However, if the eventual results find cures for paralysis, Parkinson’s disease and a myriad of cancers, it will be his legacy.

So Captain Shoe-In gets his proverbial cake and a Texas style barbeque to boot.

But that is world-class politics, southern style. Bill Clinton was an Arkansas man, and Baby Bush has the Lone Star tattooed into his brain. This is how things get done in the Bible Belt: Grease the church, pet the public and get back to the golf course for an afternoon of mispronouncing the names of Middle Eastern terrorists with the remaining members of the Memphis Mafia.

Now the question remains, what dupes in congress will battle the forging of progress? Will this be another open-heart surgery harangue or a battle to the death like abortion?

Meanwhile, the ever-widening chasm between scientific enlightenment and atavistic morality grows larger and deeper. We test animals and now embryos. Then it will be fetuses and infants. Pretty soon they’ll come for useless dregs of society like Carrot Top and those monotone Jehovah Witness freaks who come to the door to remind you that you are doomed. Oh, and then they’ll come for you.

Sure, if I thought someone close to me could be saved by carving out pieces of you or injecting some wonder drug into the fat artery under your knee, you can bet I’ll be pushing the local magistrate to fund that. After all, Dr. Zaius, with all his simian posturing was right; it’s a question of survival.

But enough of that alarming imagery, we’re talking about politics here. And George Bush, ignoring mail from the marketing wing of the Artists Against Puritan Pig Fuckers is doing a fine job of shifting the focus on moral issues and away from the true domestic grit of his presidency: crumbling social security structure, campaign finance reform, et al.

Where’s the liberal wing of the Washington Post these days? This is the same fanfare sideshow that jack-sucking phonies like George Will and Rush Limbaugh, sipping brandy and puffing on stogies over at hypocrite junction, would be reaming the Clinton war machine about. “Dance around the bleeding-heart, violins issue and ignore everything you were elected you for!”

But don’t let it be said that fairness is not the aim of this space or its author, and despite pejorative commentary by my sources to the contrary, I like George W. He has a charming sort of Gerald Ford quality to him. You know, “Everything is great because we’re Americans, right?” attitude that strikes to the heart of this proud republic. He sent Al Gore packing, and for that he gets the George Steinbrenner approval rating from the best and the brightest here at The Desk.

And as for the future of stem-cell research and the thousands of brave embryos marching into the great unknown to advance the freedom of knowledge and medicine, we say, thank you. We’ll get to building your monument and stick it proudly beside the Vietnam and WWII varieties so we can remember them as we do all those perfectly healthy, young American kids we sent to be slaughtered in America’s name.

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What id Belief? – Infamous Gonzo journalist, James Campion comes clean.

Aquarian Weekly 8/8/01 REALITY CHECK


Hello Mr. Campion,

I’m a faithful reader of your column and I’m impressed by your political sensibilities. However, I do believe that your nihilistic approach to politics can sometimes be off-putting. Do you have any beliefs at all, other than professional cynicism?


Dearest Michelle,

It is rare that I respond in print to a letter or note, not because I don’t appreciate the mail or the responses, but more often than not they do not warrant a direct answer. Opinions, like rectums, are a key part of everyone’s make-up. The only difference between myself and a great many of my readers is that I’m paid to put my opinions onto paper once a week in some sort of coherent fashion, which is not always the parameters for those we confront daily on our highways, at our jobs, visits to market or late at night in our favorite watering holes.

Yet, each of them has an equal right to their own truths. Some even change or reform them with age and experience. A great deal us with credos and haircuts in our youth begin to redefine the world we’d pigeonholed years before when faced with the inevitable nagging pains of loneliness, poverty or ridicule. Age has a way of filling our heads with contradictions. Black becomes white with the passage of time. That is if we choose to accept this new reality, which a good portion of society refuses to do, regardless of the heaping evidence to the contrary.

Oh, how boring this planet would be if all of us just stuck to our guns and forged ahead regardless of the consequences, to which there are many and varied. But these roadblocks can spur on serious contemplation, leading to a more evolved thought process, which may or may not elevate us to an almost pristine level of understanding.

We are nothing more than fragile creatures possessing the audacity to convince ourselves of invincibility.

It is in that seminal moment when maturity gives birth to clarity, which allows us to fully realize our flaws. We are nothing more than fragile creatures possessing the audacity to convince ourselves of invincibility. We nurture this insatiable need to fool ourselves into thinking we can exist without forgiveness, love and guidance, and that although we’re yanked from the womb kicking and screaming alone and end up in the ground in the same fashion, we’re still all finally measured by those who’ve benefited from our empathy.

A teacher friend of mine once mused that it is easy to have a philosophy, the difficulty lies in living it. Concepts and ideas can sometimes define people when they’re often unsure what they believed in the first place. Cradling strong beliefs over a few drinks with a woman we’re trying to impress or a professor we hope to influence is far different than wrestling with the results of them. That is why most of us shy from offering our true beliefs out loud or even allowing them a prominent place in our conscience.

This brings me to your question of my beliefs.

I have ignored many, if not all, of the scenarios presented quite adroitly in the previous paragraphs. It has never been particularly important for me to have anything resembling a strong philosophy or belief. Those things are transient, like standing at a railway station and hoping to get to Detroit by taking the nonstop to Philadelphia. I want the next train that pulls in to head in my direction, but no matter what I believe, the damn thing is going to Philly. It’s a train all right, but not the one I hope it will be.

Let me get more confusing.

You mentioned politics in your question. And as much as I appreciate the plaudits regarding my sensibilities to the political culture, I cannot admit to the label of cynic. I am intrigued, even at times mesmerized, by politics and the people who inhabit its rocky terrain, but I have no real use for it as a solution for anything binding or true. Looking for truth in politics is boarding that train to Philly and expecting to end up at the Union Depot in downtown Detroit.

The word cynic denotes an air of skepticism. Contrarily, I strongly believe that human beings, especially male ones, have shown time and again, an amazingly consistent inability to govern themselves. This comes from a narcotic known as power, which has a debilitating symptom called money. Sometimes these gory stimuli work in reverse order. But inevitably, these drugs and its fallout fell the best and brightest, and those who were barely qualified for dogcatcher find themselves with money and power and the rest of us are forced to pay attention to them.

Ah, but I spent far too much space on politics and sociality and avoided the key question: What do I believe?

I believe in Friday conversations with my father and Saturday morning calls from my brother, and when the shit storm swirls there is no one I want in my foxhole other than Phyllis Mary Campion. I believe in the possibilities behind my wife’s eyes and her laughter when I’m pissed. I believe in 2:00 a.m. on Bleeker Street with a good cigar and a frozen Margarita. I believe in The Simpsons. I believe the rock song hasn’t been improved since the Suicidal Tendencies “Institutionalized”. I believe the ’78 Yankees was the best sports team ever. I believe in those incredibly inspiring, chaotic run-on Jack Kerouac sentences. I believe God is more easily defined by infants and cats.

And I believe I’m done.

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Desperately Leaking Condit uncovers Chandra Levy rumors galore.

Aquarian Weekly 7/18/01 REALITY CHECK


Last week this space sent to press a comment by it’s leading Washington snitch, Georgetown that sent my telephone jingling for three days. The piece had yet to see the light of day, but the man who has spent years trying to disassociate himself from this column suddenly found a moment of misguided pride and set about blabbing the prediction that California congressman, Gary Condit should resign in shame following what has turned into a very sordid and damning investigation involving missing interns, adulterous affairs and lying to the FBI.

Ironically, Georgetown found that he wasn’t the only one who had dirt on Condit and willing to pass it along during a bevy of happy hours. Seems like the last few weeks have been a haven for leaking associates and unnamed payroll sources for the National Enquirer. The Beltway is alive with scoop on Condit’s “bizarre sexual appetites” and “backroom pay-off dealings”.

But charges of kidnapping and sexual indiscretions are not news in the white-collar jungle, and anyone with half the gravy on a congressman’s extracurricular activities likely has some of the stink on him, so it is common knowledge that when the leaks start to reach legitimate reporters it’s something like a bulging septic.

Levy isn’t the first, nor is she the only one to be in the wrong place and the wrong time in the nation’s capitol. But if Levy is dead or missing for another week or so, which has all the presumptions of death without a body, Condit’s behavior in this is going to bring him down hard.

However, no one who has worked for the Reality Check New & Information desk could seriously consider themselves anything close to legitimate press, and even when accepted as such in places like Yankee Stadium or Gracie Mansion the instructions have been to deny with extreme prejudice and cause the type of credential-revoking stir that might make news gathering a cause worth achieving.

So when I joined the mainstream journalists and ignored innuendo on where this case was going long before Memorial Day, I dropped the ball and ignored the credo I’d so vehemently defended. Georgetown wasn’t the first and has not been the last mole to mumble nasty stories about Condit to me, and if it weren’t for the Washington Post hammering away at this thing, the Levy case probably wouldn’t have cracked national front pages or the MSNBC agenda line-up.

Meanwhile the congressman’s intern and former lover has been missing for nearly three months and a 39 year-old flight attendant by the name of Anne Marie Smith has been telling anyone with a tape recorder and a byline that Condit knows exactly where Chandra Levy is and had an iron-clad affidavit detailing an adulterous headboard banging romp with the 53 year-old congressman to back the allegations up. Portions of which include Smith’s adamant claim that Condit tried to force her sign legal documents that she didn’t even know him.

Condit’s only defense for the duration of this growing embarrassment was to chuckle and deny having so much has shaken Levy’s hand, looking concerned for his intern and her family and sending his neurotic speed-freak San Francisco attorney, Joe Cotchett on the Sunday talk show circuit to swear on a stack of courtroom Gideons that the congressman had been more than cooperative with police. Cotchett laughed heartily at any charges of obstruction of justice and accused every media outlet of libel, slander and kooties.

But two days later the DC police issued a warrant to search Condit’s apartment and whispers of a lie-detector test and DNA samples soon followed. At the time this piece goes to press a full-fledged drama of an 18 year-old minister’s daughter sodomy rap will be making the Geraldo grade.

Curiously, the cops still won’t publicly admit Condit is a suspect in the Levy disappearance, yet they subpoenaed his phone records and interview everyone from his car mechanic to the Capitol Hill laundry clerk. Only then did the congressman admit to the Levy affair, and only through written statements and spokespeople.

Seems people in the know who were behind the scenes defending Condit, and other unnamed spin doctors familiar with the situation, felt that it was in the congressman’s best interest not to open “the closet full of bones” by even admitting to any kind of affair with Levy. This speaks of a history of tawdry misdemeanors and a stain on the man’s marriage, but what could have possessed legal people to advise Condit to fib about a sexual affair in a possible murder/kidnapping case?

The best answer weeded out through the most putrid forms of investigative reporting, including blackmail, laundered money and death threats, is that Condit either put the screws to Levy, sending her running for cover, which is likely if anyone is moved to believe that Condit pulled a similar tactic with the stewardess, or knocked her up and tried to force her to abort it. This might have caused a young woman familiar with Washington’s political power money to head for the underground.

Levy isn’t the first, nor is she the only, one to be in the wrong place and the wrong time in the nation’s capitol. But if Levy is dead or missing for another week or so, which has all the presumptions of death without a body, Condit’s behavior in this is going to bring him down hard.

Unless, of course, he, or someone else on the payroll knows where she is and how she got there. This is the part of the story people have only speculated at. No one has dared to go on record to implicate some kind of witness protection program for tattlers with a couple of hundred thousand dollars of taxpayer shut-up money. These are the same voices that are oddly silent when my questions center on why, if Levy isn’t dead, she hasn’t tried to ease her poor family’s grief by showing up somewhere. And how come it is easier to spot Elvis at a truck stop in Butte, Montana than it is to spot this chick.

It’s been an interesting week around here. And since our budget is consistently low and our interest in California politics even lower, most of the calls that have come in were all but ignored. But I can still hear Georgetown saying more than once in our latest interview that Condit had better resign soon. And the last time he was that sure about anything was Pat Buchanan’s exodus from the GOP and he was right on before anyone I’d read or heard on that one.

But Condit is not a Republican, and DC is a Republican town right now. Lips are tighter than ever about intern diddling since the Clinton scandal. Most of the theories on this are at the least a government intrigue worthy of Watergate and at the worst grossly irresponsible. And, as usual, somewhere in the middle lies the lonely truth.

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Song of the Bloated Hyena reviews G.W. Bush’s first five months as president.

Aquarian Weekly 7/11/01 REALITY CHECK


Georgetown, hero of many, enemy of more, has been silent since the GOP took November and ran with majority numbers into Washington. He has refused to answer calls to scoop the inside dirt on the tax cut fight, the gasoline hikes, the sagging economic burdens, the president’s Euro-tour, James Jeffords defection, the looming Supreme Court nominations and the plunging poll numbers for the man he once dubbed Captain Shoe-In on North Beach, San Francisco two summers ago. The silence is over.

jc: Why do I bother giving you valuable print space?

GT: Because this cheap column needs me. People love the real deal, not some satirical thousand-word literary masturbation. You should be sweeping the stalls in Grand Central Station with the kind of garbage you spew in this space. Did I hear right? Did you write that Bob Franks tried to pick your wife up in a bar in Jersey in some drunken stupor?

jc: That’s one way to interpret that.

GT: The only way.

jc: Never mind. How do you like these poll numbers on Bush after only five months? Did he get caught in some Paula Poundstone mishap? What do you figure…twenty to thirty percent by Christmas and a Mussolini burning by next June?

Right now the perception around town, and I think the polls reflect this, is that Bush is all talk and no action. His ability to communicate any message to the public is for shit.

GT: What did you expect? Economy is shit and Jeffords fucked us good. Now everything is bogged down up there. You think by ramrodding that patient’s bill of rights through the senate is going to help matters?

jc: Is he going to veto it?

GT: My best guess now is no. I don’t know anything concrete from anyone who’s talking, but I can tell you this: Not one soul with any say or cash in the party has one iota of confidence in that happening. I know one thing; we drew big money to shut McCain up last summer so Junior could skid through that primary, and it wasn’t so he could fist-fuck us on this Ted Kennedy bullshit. He cried like a five year-old after South Carolina and when the bank opened up he promised a whole lot. But those same people will have a great deal to say come November 2002.

jc: What else is riding on the mid-term elections right now?

GT: This goddamn tax cut. If that doesn’t jumpstart Christmas, shit will fly.

jc: What about the Supreme Court?

GT: Don’t go there, not yet. If anything, we’re looking at senate hearings up the ass. I was playing darts with that pinhead Shumer two weekends ago, and he’s giving me loads of grief about partisan philosophy and political ideology. And I’m not even worried about him. He’s dry. What about those other drunken psychos?

jc: It’s a booze thing?

GT: Shumer’s got it on good word that Hillary alone will jam up anything approaching a Bork or Sessions or Clarence Thomas. Circus Maximus times twenty on this one.

jc: Is that some kind of cryptic reference to Hillary’s drinking problem?

GT: What the fuck are you talking about?

jc: Never mind. So what about Bush’s campaign boasts about nominating a “strict constructionist” or bust?

GT: Yes, and he’s also a reformist.

jc: Should I bring up school vouchers now?

GT: That was never going to happen. People like their kids to remain stupid. Makes them feel superior to someone.

jc: So, what do you make of these pathetic poll numbers? It can’t be all economy.

GT: Listen, the man lost the popular vote, which doesn’t mean a hill of beans in the constitution, but this has always been a country of public perception. Bush was on daddy’s payroll when he crushed Dukakis and he land-slided Texas. What does this kid know about squeaking by? So he starts in like the new fat man in town, the pimp daddy strutting around Washington with his Gingrich smirk and no one in the party is willing to tell this guy he barely has a mandate to change the color of the drapes in the oval office. It’s been like Elvis’ final years over there.

jc: First you’re telling me the man has no balls, now you’re saying they’re too big?

GT: He’s got the attitude, believe me, but I don’t think he can put it into action. Perception is everything. Right now the perception around town, and I think the polls reflect this, is that Bush is all talk and no action. His ability to communicate any message to the public is for shit.

jc: He did get some semblance of tax cut through there.

GT: Politically that will be his albatross because he sold it as a necessity for the economic slump, not the money owed from a surplus. He sold the latter to congress, but the former to the people. Zogby isn’t polling congress. The people see the imp before the progressor. Secondly, the tax cut ostensibly cost us the senate when Bush crossed Jeffords on some Vermont things. You see Vermont is close to the vest when it comes to its political promises. Jeffords owed more to his constituency than he did to the party, or for that matter, the rest of the country. I see it as similar to Giuliani snubbing your boy up there.

jc: George Pataki.

GT: Yes, Pataki. You still on the outs with him?

jc: It doesn’t matter anymore.

GT: You’re out of New York politics now?

jc: We’ve only got limited space here.

GT: Oh, there’s a story there.

jc: Why do Europeans hate the Bush’s?

GT: Fuck Europe. The only thing that matters right now is how Vladimir Putin sees Chinese nuclear weapon progress and how this administration handles the way China will come strong in the next few years. Everything else is bullshit; the Middle East and this Palestinian crap, the oil stuff etc. You were right on about China last year. I read that crazed junk you wrote about the spy ring. That was good. But that’s changing fast and the whole mess will be a key to the legacy for whoever is holding the office by 2005.

jc: We all enjoyed the semantics parade when the spy plane went down.

GT: That’s the last compliment you’re getting from me. And don’t print it. You’re going to print it, right?

jc: Who’s going to win this Jersey gubernatorial race?

GT: Not McGreevey. He couldn’t beat Whitman, and no one wanted her to win.

jc: But Schundler received no party support during the primary.

GT: Gubernatorial primaries? Is there a more meaningless endeavor?

jc: Editing and writing the transcripts of these conversations for one.

GT: Hey, do you think Gore still thinks he won?

jc: Give me a quick prediction.

GT: Gary Condit will step down before this hits the newsstands.

jc: Do you think he knows where that woman is?

GT: Let’s just end this by saying he should step down.

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Bret Schundler vs. Bob Franks ‘s sober study of 2001 NJ Republican primary.

Aquarian Weekly 7/4/01 REALITY CHECK

BROKEN HEROES ON HIGHWAY 9True Tales of New Jersey Gubernatorial Races

The Garden State is without leadership. For all purposes of government, the state’s executive branch is a rudderless ship upon a rocky sea of rumor and speculation. There hasn’t been this much false panic since 1938, when Orson Welles suckered the Trenton Fire Department into shooting hobos mistaken for Martians on Route 1 in New Brunswick.

Governor, Christie Todd Whitman is in Washington performing as an illusionist for the Bush administration’s ecology sinkhole. Acting governor, Donald T. DiFrancesco dropped out of the running in April after denying “implausible land deals” and “mob connections”. Democratic contender, Jim McGreevey, fresh from a near-stunning upset of Whitman in 1997, has ostensibly been campaigning ever since with his tired lower auto insurance and property tax mantra for a carbon copy run.

So the weary and confused look to the GOP for candidates worthy of the state’s more than interesting political history. Last Tuesday Bret Schundler soundly defeated favorite, Bob Franks for the Republican primary and will set the course for an epic ideological battle with McGreevey.

Schundler, a staunch social and fiscal conservative, won despite the party’s history of centrist candidates and wild stories in the Bergen Record of spinning a 1969 apple red Mustang convertible in tire-screeching doughnuts and holding up traffic for nearly twenty minutes on Route 59 in Spring Valley, New York a Sunday ago.

It seems that Franks had been allegedly nerve-chewing laxatives all morning and needed to end the thing quickly. For nearly an hour he just laughed like a braying tetanus-ravaged goat. Schundler hardly had to talk and the debate was his.

“Public testing of centrifugal forces is legal in Rockland County,” my top source, G-Padre reminded me.

“Even if your days from an election?” I asked.

“Especially then.”

But Schundler was the winner. And winners can magically spin doctor criminally dangerous acts into valid, almost heroic scientific experiments. Losers become pariahs for simply jaywalking on Main Street in Lodi. This is not the case in most states, but New Jersey is different. Politics here is akin to a social dizziness, a kind of all-encompassing paranoia, like Steven King’s Jack Torrence wielding mallets at his family for a shot of beer.

Not that Schundler had been guilty of anything that heinous, just simple extremist right-wing concepts. And that is not yet a crime in most of the contiguous Untied States. Not yet, although Liberalism is punishable by public shackling in fourteen counties in Utah. Several sources at the Kaysville Sentinel reported two summers ago that Bill Bradley barely made it out of Salt Lake City alive.

Ironically, Franks spent the weekend with the family in relative privacy. His people swear he would never be caught causing scenes on public byways, but nasty rumors of he, Rob Monte from Dogvoices and myself going shot-for-shot in the backroom at the Sea Shell on Long Beach Island during an horrific gale on Saturday night were rampant on the Monday before the election. They were soon quelled when a reporter from the Trentonian, who was savagely beaten with several pool toys for inadvertently touching my wife’s hair the same night, identified Franks as a “large Latino fellow with long sideburns”. Managing editors for the Trentonian could not be reached for comment.

But sadly it was Franks, backed by the highest-ranking party officers in the state, shocking many of the gambling rings in press row Tuesday by hardly carrying 40% of the vote halfway through the count. Best money had Schundler out of it by 10:00 pm before the northern precincts reported, but that became doom-talk long before the victory dinners got cold over at Franks’ headquarters. The band packed up well before midnight and women and children were sent away weeping.

Schundler outspent Franks, but not as much as Jon Corzine, who poured $60 million of investment banker money toward the defeat of Franks in a 2000 senate run. Schundler believes in financial responsibility, but he could taste victory a week before the election when the two men appeared on Gabe Pressman’s Sunday morning television show out of New York. It seems that Franks had been allegedly nerve-chewing laxatives all morning and needed to end the thing quickly. For nearly an hour he just laughed like a braying tetanus-ravaged goat. Schundler hardly had to talk and the debate was his.

Sussex County Republican Assemblyman, E. Scott Garrett called Franks “loud and nasty” the next day and immediately the momentum pendulum began to swing.

But dissecting old news is not the style of this space, so to look ahead at a McGreevey vs. Schundler race there are several factors involved. The first of which is the inevitable Left vs. Right wars and the second is the ever-popular “integrity” question. Both men are fine candidates, both have plans to lower taxes and car insurance with the obligatory abortion and gun ownership issues at the core, but where most states demand water-walking minister types, New Jersey is in need of a notorious rabble rouser in the tradition of William Franklin or a schizophrenic fun-lover like the colorful Lord Cornbury.

Many New Jersey voters don’t remember the name of William Franklin, the last colonial governor of New Jersey driven from the State at gunpoint by the infamous “Pine Robbers.” as a wart-bellied trader to mother England. He was not popular among colony historians, but many townships took his name anyway. But New Jersey’s first Royal Governor, Lord Cornbury, best known for his private cross-dressing habits, is nowhere to be found on a Jersey map. There are no Cornbury townships, nor will there ever be. And now it’s doubtful there will be any McGreevey boulevards or Schundler Counties when all is said and done here.

But that will be the rub, for this reporter is contemplating a complete move to the scenic mountains of Vernon, New Jersey, where bear run free and the beer flows nightly. No one up there cares a rats-ass about ideology, when a transvestite defector with a laxative jones can drum up some quality headlines. And that is the place for me.

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 6/13/01 REALITY CHECK


The following Memo From The Reality Check New & Information Desk was sent to the E-mail of Jason Hillery, program director for KKMG-FM radio and faxed to the general manager of Citadel Broadcasting, Brenda Goodrich on 6/6/01. The crux of the diatribe centers on the $7000 fine levied by the Federal Communications Commission on the Colorado Springs station for playing an edited-for-airplay version of Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady.” The FCC’s reason for slapping a fine on a nearly two year-old record that had previously received enough television and radio airtime to become a number 1 record is that it “contains unmistakable offensive sexual references.”

To The Faithful,

Under no circumstances should your company pay a cent of that fine. In fact, instead of a check or money order forward this message: “Listen, you pusillanimous, non-elected bully freaks, there are well-attested cases on the books defending our right to air, print and utter material of a shocking or offensive nature due to the cryptic, if not, wholly ambiguous laws pertaining to indecency. And if you would like to press this issue further we can take this grade-school extortion and place its merit in federal court where you will be exposed as the illegal puritan sounding board you have always been, hopefully rendering these cushy jobs of yours obsolete.”

I won’t need any credit for penning it. Do with it what you will; edit the damn thing or put your own sentiments in. I’m not even sure I understand the details of your particular case. Perhaps you went to a day care center and blasted the song a hundred times over the intercom or you had a contest for five year-olds to do their best rendition. I’m sure you had your reasons, all of them stemming from ratings or advertising revenue, but it really doesn’t matter to me nor should it to anyone culling a check from the federal government or certainly some shut-in house wife with a valium jones and a Jesus fixation.

The important thing here is that you NEVER SURRENDER. Put up the fight of your lives or just be another stepping stone to the dark ages revisited. Your time as “Magic Radio” playing all the hits is over. This baby is CNN quality news now and since it reached the Reality Check News & Information Desk red-letter box, it has now become a front-page First Amendment imperative. The term “lightning rod” applies here. Time to take off the goofy radio banter hats and strap on a fucking helmet, because it will get ugly before it gets better.

Of course you could pay the fine and let this thing die out like your peers at a radio station in Madison, Wisconsin. Maybe lay-off a few troubled souls and cut back here and there to save face. You can ignore the fact that the right of the medium and the artists it exploits is on the block right now. What are a few grand and a spin monkey SUV giveaway contests to distract the locals really going to do to affect the future of basic American freedom? That would be easy, and easy is what puts money in the bank and keeps the rotary club and church types from painting you all as back-alley pornographers.

But that is no option. Not for this fight or this right, and not for these times. Lenny Bruce didn’t get run through the courts for nearly a decade so you can back down. Certainly those poor bastards at Lexington and Concord didn’t get blown to unrecognizable pieces for you to slink into a corner and forget your duty. Remember Berlin in the mid-30s’ when putting the “right message” across to the “right people” meant a wonderful playground for all who kept walking the “good” path?

It is time the FCC and the occasional frightened peon with too much time on their hands become non-factors in the grand scheme of democracy, and its time you make it happen. Do you want Colorado to forever be known for John Elway and the home of unsolved mentally abused child murders? Okay, so not many of us remember Elway much anymore, but you get my drift.

It’s time to put your state, your medium, and every decent law-abiding artist and listener on the map by simply telling these anonymous trolls to take this weak-ass subpoena of the sublime and cram it repeatedly up their collective rectum.

Then, when you inevitably win the case in a sane court of law (anywhere outside of Los Angeles) you can lead the brigade against this insidious group of power-mongers who sit in judgment of free speech like it was given to them from a lake in Camelot.

Put yourself on the culture map. Show some guts. We’re all behind you over here in the hub of true journalism, where the weak are sent whining back to the classroom and those hung up on following rules are reminded that nothing worth a shit in any civilization was achieved without the ever-dangerous maverick approach. And nothing has ever been changed without a fight, and it is time to get downright nasty with these sons of bitches. Make the government reveal names and positions and give the American people a guideline on free speech to debate and appeal.

Someone has to do it, why not you people? Once, the pioneer spirit pushed west and opened Colorado through heinous crimes against Native Americans with illegal and violent activity. In that demented spirit, let’s ferret out the guilty and shed the glaring light of reason on their sheltered heads. Fire the first blow in this smoldering coup de tat by refusing to pay an illegal fine used to separate us from our liberty.

Always On Guard,


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George W. Bush & Big Money Oil ‘s biting essay on rising gas prices.

Aquarian Weekly 5/30/01 REALITY CHECK


George W. Bush is an oilman. Make no mistake about that. To write or utter anything about an energy crisis and the President of the United States and avoid that slice of information is tantamount to discussing Martin Luther King’s contribution to the Civil Rights movement and fail to make the distinction about his race.

This is a prickly time for Captain Shoe-In now that his spotty environmental record is put to the dollar-sign test and his oil buddies are sending him gift baskets with tiny notes reminding him why he sits behind the big oak desk on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thus, no sane human wanting to continue a career in public servitude need entertain fantasies of Bush or anyone on his payroll walking into a meeting with the CEO of EXXON or MOBIL and demanding to cut back on profits to save the average consumer a few cents on the gallon. Not during this economy and not with the GOP running things.

Ari Fleischer would have to call a briefing to announce the drilling of crude oil in Bush Sr.’s head before that would happen. Mining the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a literal walk in the park in the face of this kind of dedication.

Environmentalists aside, anyone calling themselves American cannot be happy about paying two dollars a gallon to fill up his/her guzzling SUV to an industry reporting a annual 53% profit margin. We don’t give half a fart about any polar bears or white wolves or the serenity of virgin wilderness if it means being raped by angry Arabs wiping their collective ass with large, unmarked US bills.

Drilling on American soil is an answer. It’s either that or Junior makes a call to Kennebunkport and gets daddy’s war chart out of mothballs. Oilmen worth a salt will bomb Middle Eastern cities long before the three-dollar-a-gallon alarm begins to clang in the oval office. Bill Clinton ignored that one. His alarm was hooked up to Barbara Streisand’s cell phone and the Hoola Hoola Tittie bar on Corcoran St.

Big Bill left the oilman to clean up the mess, like the oilman’s poppa left his successor a pissed off Iraqi tyrant.

Out here on the outskirts of reality things are bogging down. I know small trucking firms that have recruited state inmates to carjack oil rigs in the middle of the night on the NY Thruway. They abscond with at least a dozen men engaged in highway detail a week by greasing the guards and grabbing them off the Garden State Parkway. My main man, G-Padre traded a pair of brand new Nikes for a return trip fill-up to Atlantic City and back. It was pitiful to see him hand those beautiful sleds over to some grease monkey for a couple of gallons of gas.

But times are hard and they call for the most desperate of measures.

I overheard one reporter friend tell me that Time magazine editors are throwing around Jimmy Carter’s name for a Bush cover story in June. “The comparisons are frightening,” he said. “Man barely beats sad-sack VP and is elected president under the pawl of a limping economy and a stand-off with OPEC.”

This jarred my own memories of selling doughnuts and coffee at the Freehold gas lines in the late 70s’. I can vividly see that sweaty fat guy punching a pregnant woman square in the face for having an even license plate on the odd day or vice versa. I cannot recall the details. I just know it’s the kind of thing you don’t forget easily.

And who will forget two dollars a gallon for gasoline anytime soon? If this keeps up, Bush will have to find an animal to screw or sell old college photos of he and a hairy cross-dresser on a coke binge to the Weekly World News in order to alter the legacy of the 2001 gas crunch. Who will run things then: Some left-wing radical actor like Warren Beatty talking about shiny cities on the hill? They’ll talk of the Bushs’ as one-term losers and a tainted dynasty of fatback oil barons licking the boots of terrorist sympathizers.

But there is no need to worry, unless you have any plans on visiting wildlife preserves. Not likely. You’ll be at the gas station long before that. Anyway, before the president allows his unceremonious ousting at the hands of liberal Hollywood freaks, he’ll be using the Yale campus as a blasting area for earth-culture tests.

It was all the vice president could do to keep a straight face when Tim Russert suggested the administration turn the whole affair into the OK Corral with Chaney and Bush on one end of the dusty street and EXXON and MOBILE on the other. I was hung over and barely awake, but I could swear Chaney smiled and said, “Tim, you can put a fancy dress and deep-red lipstick on a high plains wart hog, but it sure don’t make it the prom queen.”

Americans pay for tons a shit they don’t use, like education, health club subscriptions, deodorant; but everyone uses oil, so they will pay. But it is getting painfully obvious that the far end of the tether is within site and this always leads to political fallout or war.

But, a loss in profits?


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The FBI & Timothy McVeigh ‘s biting expose on the hidden agenda.

Aquarian Weekly 5/23/01 REALITY CHECK


Raise your hand if you believe anything about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s non-disclosure of documents, misrepresentation of the illustrious John Doe No. 2, the bleeding-heart cross-that-T-and-dot-that-I speeches of new attorney general, John Ashcroft or the mia culpa congressional confessional of FBI director Louis Freeh.

Put your fucking hand down.

The FBI screwed this Timothy McVeigh case up. That is their history. You know what friends to lend money too, and whom to avoid. The trust of the American people in the FBI went by the boards many eons ago, the examples of which I will not waste space citing, but there is much more pepper in this particular sauce.

McVeigh, in between media performances and patriotic ramblings, waits to die. He is certainly a horrible blight on any society. Most civilizations would have eradicated this disease long ago, but we’ve been trying to improve on that.

Nobody really wants to execute anyone in this country, except, of course, those who’ve suffered losses by the hands of the accused. If we actually craved it, there would be hundreds of these things weekly, the appeal system wouldn’t be so convoluted and people with the most cash wouldn’t walk, and, the least, fry.

Politicians talk a good game, and we’re all so tough and intellectual about capitol punishment, but when it comes down to it there is an awful glut of Pontius Pilates in our midst. This is why many activists against the death penalty want to broadcast these things into your living rooms, so you can vicariously take part in your murder.

“What? I know I voted for the death penalty, but I don’t want to see the results of it! I’m a 21st Century American, filled with empathy and wit, and I surely don’t expect anything that I decide to result in injecting someone with poisons!”

This is why any talk about Pro-Choice activists actually wanting to abort fetuses is ludicrous. Sure it makes sense on a surface level to prevent unwanted births and to cleanse society of killers, but there is serious doubt anyone wants to see, participate or take responsibility for any of it.

Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people. Should he die? Should those 168 innocent people, many of them children, have died?

We discuss.

McVeigh sits and waits for his demise.

But now it doesn’t look like there will be any demise, at least not a forced on him by the state.

The FBI takes the current fall for this. Why? More importantly, why now?

Mere days before McVeigh takes the long walk there is suddenly years of hidden files, 700 of them, turning up all over the joint. Hiding that many files in the FBI for that length of time is tantamount to hiding an elephant in a crowded subway train. Since nobody in law enforcement wants to see a record-setting mass murder laugh in the face of justice, there can be only one explanation for this coincidental revelation: someone in the FBI feels guilty. And whoever it may be cannot be trembling with guilt over the systematic snuffing of a single mutant, but perhaps the premeditating killing of hundreds of people would do it.

Think about it for just a second. Why did McVeigh finally decide to take his medicore nothing of a life and strive for warped notoriety? According to the source himself, when McVeigh saw the Branch Davidian compound in Waco raided, and eventually torched by the FBI in 1994, something significant snapped in his brain. One year to the day later he took his revenge on the United States government by hitting one of its buildings.

Misguided? Horrific? Why, of course it is. But none-the-less, the terrifying result of what McVeigh, and frighteningly enough a great number of people slinking in the shadows of subculture have called a war, came to a head in April of 1995.

Janet Reno, then attorney general, did not understand this war. But the FBI knew damn well what a potential powder keg they were lighting when they started that land mission against a religious cult turned militia.

Militia was a popular word in 1994. Scores of angry mid-western white guys were throwing out hints that the shit would soon come down. And the FBI had these fuckers bugged and under constant surveillance. But they made the fatal mistake of ignoring one of the bureau’s key credos: Take everything dead serious. They did not. And those people in Oklahoma City paid with their lives.

Why didn’t the investigation, dubious and corrupt as it may have been, weed the guilty out? No one has any satisfying answers on that. Reno, who should have been jailed for the Waco fiasco long ago, walked. Nobody said anything, and nobody will.

But someone inside the FBI cracked last week, and ironically, McVeigh, the man who perpetuated a reactionary heinous act of pure evil will benefit. But that’s fine, because there really isn’t any sane reason for killing someone who has killed. You hear the victim’s family members say they will rest easy when McVeigh is dead. But isn’t there something strangely wrong with that? As if the murder of another can somehow quell the pain of a loss. That somehow someone’s little girl will rise from the grave the second McVeigh’s heart stops.

It costs hundreds of millions of dollars to execute someone in this country. Lawyers, appeals and political debates drain the coffers dry. Maybe it costs more to feed and provide cable television and cigarettes for murders, but who really knows? It’s all a great debate to keep us from silly things like the truth. But the pertinent aspect of this latest public farce, conducted in front of yet another innocuous House of Appropriations Committee, is that the FBI had a confessed mass murder on the way off the planet and slipped up big time. It is always easiest to ask how when the real question worth a damn is why?

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