THE OVERRATED CRIME NARRATIVE

Aquarian Weekly
7/14/21

Reality Check

James Campion

THE OVERRATED CRIME NARRATIVE
Backlash To Shitty Policing & Right-Wing Paranoia Fuels Myth


Last week I indicated the uptick in crime in New York City, mostly violent crime, which has, across the board in the U.S., increased during the pandemic of 2020 and spilled into the first six months of this year. This is why I touted the centrist, former police captain and current Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for the next mayor of NYC. The trends are not good, but it is important to point out that they are a mere blip in not only NYC’s recent and ignominious crime history, but also the greater U.S. After a year of Black Lives Matter backlash to white cops murdering African Americans at an alarming clip, and the ensuing absurd Defund the Police movement, leading into an embarrassingly sycophantic pro-police resistance, the numbers of growing crime rates have not only been exaggerated, but fetishized, mythologized, and just plain made up.

U.S.: violent crime rate graph 1990-2018

The raw numbers do not back up this latest American hysteria, much of it predictably fueled by the Republican Party, currently out of power and viable ideas that don’t include Dr. Suess. Much of my sources within the party have openly admitted that “fear of crime” is the go-to for the 2022 mid-terms. Don’t get me wrong, I support anything a party can do to stay relevant, but it seems odd that one of the most heinously violent domestic terrorist crimes committed in my lifetime only six months ago, the January 6 attack on the Capitol, seems to not bother these people at all, yet they cling to fantasies of shadowy figures running amok killing innocents in record numbers.

And lest anyone think this is a slanted partisan deconstruction of Republican bullshit; I remind you that last summer when it would behoove me to continue to bash the former president for what appeared at the time to be a daily raging violent outburst of humanity – oft-times compared to the late 1960s – I cautioned readers  to pump the brakes, it wasn’t even close. And more famously, I took much shit from my liberal friends for tamping down the whole “Just like Vietnam” craziness that transpired during the height of the Iraq War, which, again, was not comparable in any possible way. The idea of Reality Check is to keep it real, to strip the usual “Worst Ever” or “Best Ever” miasma that has soiled what now passes for intellectual debate.

Now, back to crime.

“Americans overall are much less likely to be killed today than they were in the 1990s, and the homicide rate across big cities is still close to half what it was a quarter century ago.”

The fact is that 2020, while, again, showing a rise in violent crime, mostly due to a once-in-a-century pandemic, was concerning (homicides up twenty-five percent), it does not warrant this kind of public and political frenzy. In fact, last year, because businesses, bars, and general lockdown curtailed humans from interacting with other humans and their stuff, the U.S. crime rate dropped considerably: Over ten percent for robberies, nearly eight percent for property damage, and nearly fifteen percent for rape. According to a Guardian piece this week, “Americans overall are much less likely to be killed today than they were in the 1990s, and the homicide rate across big cities is still close to half what it was a quarter century ago.”

I remind you again, there were armed lunatics within fifty feet of the vice president of the United States screaming for his head in the U.S. Capitol a few months back. This seems to be an actual issue that maybe should be worrisome.

As the above quote hints, all of this numbers-crunching includes 1991, the “murder year” of all years. This includes the ultra-violent 1960s and the wild and wooly 70s, where the states with the most humans (Florida, New York, California, and Illinois – in that order) topped the charts. Ghost states like Montana and Utah with about two thousand people in them were predictably toward the bottom. Since 1991, and including 2020, and this year, the steady decline in crime (especially violent crime) has gone down considerably, and except for some anomalies like last year, has stayed that way.

There is also this silly idea that larger cities are currently under siege. This is also not true. And while there are more people with diverse racial, economic, and cultural backgrounds to consider in cities, crime numbers there may surprise you.

According to FBI 2021 data of the Most Dangerous Cities, the Top Five are Muskegon Heights, Michigan, Tukwila, Washington, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Memphis, Tennessee, Little Rock, Arkansas. Nary a Los Angeles, New York, Chicago or Houston in the bunch. For larger cities, would you guess that considering the murder rate per capita for the size and scope of cities that St. Louis, MO (69.4) is the murder capital of the U.S.A.? Followed by Baltimore, MD (51.1), New Orleans, LA (40.6), Detroit, MI (39.7) Rounding out the bad towns are Cleveland, OH (33.7), Las Vegas, NV (31.4) and Kansas City, MO (31.2) just outside the curve. New York and Los Angeles are not even in the Top Fifteen.

Now, it is a well-worn subject in this space how over-the-top this country is when compared to other advanced and rich nations in our gun violence. This has been the case in 1991, 2001, 2011 and this year. That has not changed for the worse. It has always sucked. It is a sad commentary on us, but hardly an indication that things have suddenly gone off the rails. But even considering these cases, the FBI figures that nearly eighty to ninety percent of the victims of these shootings know their assailant. And since domestic violence was the most significant issue last year – along with the insane anti-Asia violent crime wave – these stats have held true.

All of these numbers are easily found. I found them. Taking the word of desperate politicians and cable news for anything is a dereliction of your citizenry, but on a hot-button issue, and especially since it may keep you up at night cradling a handgun, it is probably a good idea you take a gander yourself.

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ERIC ADAMS NEEDS TO BE THE NEXT MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY

Aquarian Weekly
6/30/21

Reality Check

James Campion

ERIC ADAMS NEEDS TO BE THE NEXT MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY

I need to state first for the record, if I haven’t already over the nearly quarter century I have written this column, that I love New York City more than almost anything. Honestly. My family, sure. Music, absolutely. The Yankees, but they’re New York. The Bronx, really. That’s where I’m from. Born and raised. Well, actually, I was born in what was then called Columbia Presbyterian Hospital on the northeast end of Manhattan. My dad worked there at the time. Kind of a perk. But I grew up on Van Ness Avenue and White Plains Road, a short stroll from the Bronx Zoo. I did all the Bronx things – stickball, punch ball, fistfights in Catholic schoolyards at six, survived many of my friends being run down by speeding cars at eight, and throughout my boyhood, ducked the barrage of ammo that came raining down on us every Fourth of July.

Going to Manhattan in those years was always magical. Even when we moved to New jersey in the early seventies, and my dad was working in this incredible skyscraper across from the Plaza Hotel on West 57th, it was as if visiting Oz. All the best music, the best films, plays, books, came out of, or were centered on NYC. Spiderman plied his trade there. Come on. This is why I dedicated my only novel to NYC. In my twenties and early thirties, I only ever dated NYC women, Brooklyn girls, to be exact. I had to. They got me. And I got them. My current wife, from a small town up outside Syracuse, strangely possesses a cosmopolitan streak a mile wide. We practicably live on the island. She once walked a dozen city blocks in her bare feet. We were comfortable at three in the afternoon and three in the morning there. It has everything a Vegan/Pagan/Feminist/Progressive/Artist could want – food, yoga, bars, and weridos. Lots of blessed weirdos. Whenever we have been to other cities of repute, London, Paris, Barcelona, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, she always remarks to me, “So… this is it? It’s not New York.”

So, I know when the city is in crisis. I can remember having my car stolen, and my girlfriend’s car broken into, and during that time when I drove medical records across all five boroughs in the early nineties, how much of a lawless wild west town it was. I could do anything, and I did. I drove along the street on the side of the Jacob Javits Center in reverse for four blocks, cut down one-way streets the opposite way to avoid traffic, drove on sidewalks, sped on service roads, and escaped a four-car pile-up I was in (but did not start, I promise), and double and triple parked like some petty outlaw. I saw drugs sold everywhere at any time and feral homeless attacking my car when I pulled off the Willis Avenue Bridge from Westchester, where I was living at the time. It wasn’t the romantic 1970s kind of hellhole, the Taxi Driver times, but it was bad. Race riots, carjacking, random shootings of all kinds by all ages across all races, neighborhoods, and economic strata.

The city is not there yet, but I see the signs.

I covered the Rudolf Giuliani election in the early nineties for the North County News out of Yorktown, NY. I was there that night when a Republican won and summarily announced he would clean up New York. We all laughed. And you know something, he did. A few things saved New York City in the 1990s – mostly Disney and MTV turning Times Square from a cesspool into a mecca, the Derek Jeter Yankees, along with the Rangers and Knicks being great, and the man I affectionately called Uncle Rudy. Giuliani did crack down on all the things we assumed could not be contained. His run was at times draconian and silly, and he could be quite the fucking asshole, but New York needed him.

This is a time to rebuild from the Covid-19 shutdowns and for real police reform, not combative Defund-the-Police nonsense.

This is the same man that has recently had his law license suspended for perpetuating Donald Trump’s hissy-fit election lie bullshit that led to the January 6 insurrections. Watching him blathering on like one of those lunatics on the subway, Giuliani has become America’s dupe and general embarrassment, and worse still, a threat to the nation’s democracy. He has fallen hard and should rightfully be locked up. Maybe he is mentally ill? It may have been contracting the prostate cancer that prevented him from going up against Hillary Clinton for that senate seat in 2001. Another race I covered in this space. Giuliani, like many New Yorkers could see a Robert Kennedy type carpetbagger thing going on. The hatred for the Clintons was strong in him. Giuliani is also a bleating media whore, precisely why he keeps constant vigil around Trump, another legs-akimbo hustler of a different ilk. This combination drove him to complete madness in 2016 when Clinton tried to be president and Trump was the only one who could stop her. And that obsession will likely land him in prison.

But all of this NYC reminiscing brings me to Eric Adams, the current Brooklyn borough president, and currently atop the leader board for Democratic nominee to run for Mayor this fall, which means, the next mayor. Crime rate and shootings are up – not at eighties levels, but they are on the rise, and speaking to people from Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx these past few weeks, it is getting clear that public safety is key to keeping the city on its current trajectory back from the quarantine. I spent my 22nd anniversary, as we mostly do, in Greenwich Village a couple of weeks ago, and the town is teaming. It is making it back, and it does not need to get into culture wars, union falderal or progressive chatter. It needs stabilization. It needs time to breathe and welcome in more tourists and bridge-and-tunnel types like myself and my daughter, who grew up on the streets of NYC with her dad wheeling her around to the sights and sounds of the grand metropolis.

New York is plenty progressive, even Staten Island. Ask the people of central Brooklyn, southeastern Queens, and the Bronx, areas dominated by working and middle-class Black and Latino voters. This is a time to rebuild from the Covid-19 shutdowns and for real police reform, not combative Defund-the-Police nonsense. Weeding out the shitty cops is what Adams, a former NYPD Captain, can and will do. Center-right in this environment is the right way to go for New York. Trust me on this. I have been there.

Another key element, that should never be overlooked in this equation is that Adams would be the first Black mayor since David Dinkens (that is fucking amazing, there has only been one). I believe in what Adams is selling, and being a Democrat, he may be an even more effective voice for the city on that issue. Adams is also from my generation, the one that ain’t quite Boomer but sure ain’t X. He’s got that Barack Obama thing going for him. He has grown up in the same milieu as me.

Regardless how this Ranked Choice Voting thing goes – choosing a top-five candidates and figuring an aggregate winner from those ballots – and man it is stupid for a city this size, Adams, who is leading fairly substantially, needs to be the next mayor of New York City.

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THE JOE BIDEN BIPARTISAN FANTASY

Aquarian Weekly
6/16/21

Reality Check

James Campion

THE JOE BIDEN BIPARTISAN FANTASY
& The Waning Progressive Patience  


It made perfect sense that Joe Biden would use the kumbaya tactic during his 2020 campaign for president. The divisive atmosphere in Washington D.C. was ratcheted up to all-time highs during the previously disastrous presidency. He sold the image of the uniter. He had spent decades in the Senate as a mostly centrist Democrat, and he served two terms as Vice President getting things done for a mostly incommunicative novice as his boss. Biden, he told us, was the perfect choice to unite the political divides. But it was bullshit. Even if Biden didn’t believe it – because I think he did – someone needs to wake him up to reality. There is no bipartisanship to achieve. It is a fantasy, and whether his presidency amounts to much in the coming months before another election season emerges for the mid-terms, there will be stasis for any agenda. And in the process, he risks losing the progressive wing of his party in the process.

Once the Republican Party rejected a bi-partisan attempt to investigate the January 6 insurrection, it became plainly obvious, if the last twenty years hadn’t been enough of a clue, that neither party has any desire, or more to the point, political motivation, to compromise or even reluctantly work together for some of the most important measures in front of us; most notably infrastructure – purportedly supported by both parties and wildly popular in polls, and something equally supported by the prior Republican president.

Infrastructure – or whatever Democrats and Republicans agree its definition – is a must. This has seen some movement, as a bi-partisan group of ten senators recently came up with a proposal for $974 billion in infrastructure spending over five years and $1.2 trillion over eight years, including $579 billion in new government investment. This will doubtless irk progressives – no corporate tax hikes and very little on climate change initiatives – and scare conservatives, who want to do nothing and help Biden fail. But all indications are that it will be chewed up, fucked with, and tossed around by both parties until it is a shell of its original form. This is how gridlock happens.

The clock is ticking on majority rule for Democrats.

The other more pressing issue for the country is the attack on voting rights in full order by Republican-led legislatures and governors across twenty-two states now. More is to come. Nearly half the nation is restricting many ways to vote, which effects every voter, Republican and Democrat, but is designed to curtail lower-income African American areas that cost Republicans in key swing states. Congress, at the federal level, has been tasked with dealing with this. But remember, there is no political capital left for Republicans to fight their own on anything. As discussed here last week, as long as the former president claims, without any proof, that the 2020 election was stolen from him, his voter block must be kowtowed to. This is basic Politics 101. So where does that leave the federal government to protect the civil rights of voters everywhere? Or should the federal government even be involved? Can it not afford to? None of these questions seem to be recognized, despite the mounting evidence that the very core of democracy is being threatened.

This is Joe Biden’s fantasy obliterated.

And progressives, who were weirdly banking on a sweeping Roosevelt-type agenda, despite losing every candidate in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, are losing patience. Right now, many of them have seen fit to blame Joe Manchin, a heretofore strange anomaly, a Democratic senator from the deep red state of West Virginia, who has zero interest in going full-on progressive, and is happy to ride the Joe Biden bipartisan fantasy all the way to avoiding a vote that would cost him his seat back home. Manchin is certainly an issue for a 50-50 senate for Democrats, but infrastructure and a voting rights bill (there are currently two in question) need sixty votes. That is ten Republicans in an environment that saw merely six Republican votes for the attack on the Capitol in which their own lives were in jeopardy. Good luck with that.

Manchin is not the problem, bipartisan bullshit is.

Talk of blowing up the filibuster rule, which would make it purely majority rule, is madness. And Manchin is not the only one who will vote to stop it. Many Democratic senators have commented off-the-record that they have no stomach for it. Anything done from here on out on a Biden agenda must be done through reconciliation, which only needs a majority vote. In that case, Manchin needs to be corralled. Easier said than done.

And I haven’t even touched on police reform, which is woefully overdue for legislative debate, as it continues to be a systemic stain on this nation. The police unions must be made to cough up their racist, shitty cops, or the structure of the police, without the help of Defund the Police shouts or Black Lives Matter protests, and all the blue waving flags around, cannot hold this boondoggle. There is a reckoning coming on this issue. It is only a matter of time.

I do not have a solution for any of this. Not the point here. Just pointing out the obvious, that seems to have escaped our president. There is no path forward with bipartisan support in the senate. I think the best way to govern is with reality, and we already tried the last guy, who is not familiar with the concept. Let’s hope the new guy can get it together.

Seeing how the economy is opening up and jobs are coming back and the fallout of shortages and looming inflation could very well be on the horizon, this president must face facts.

The clock is ticking on majority rule for Democrats.

Fantasy be damned.

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IS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY NOW A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION?

Aquarian Weekly
6/9/21

Reality Check

James Campion

IS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY NOW A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION?
Suddenly a Legitimate Question 

I have been following politics since the early 1970s, covering it since the late 1980s, and paid to comment about it here and elsewhere since the late 1990s. I have mostly taken a realistic, some may say pessimistic or cynical, stance to this subject. I understand why politicians shift radically with the winds of change to stay relevant and get elected, which causes many to think them slimy, opportunistic hypocrites. This is why I do it, quite frankly. Politics reveals a great deal about human nature, and the reason people love/hate politicians is we are acting out our own psychological issues through them. I, for one, do not blame politicians for being human. It is when they sell bullshit excuses for this behavior that raises my antennae, and, well, you know.

Otherwise, I see it all as part of a grander game. Therefore, I do not think all Democrats socialists, nor do I think Republicans are fascists. But something very interesting has happened since the days following the defeat of Donald Trump to Joe Biden in November of 2020, culminating in the seditious atrocities of January 6, the most heinous act of domestic terrorism since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. A majority of the Republican Party has actively chosen to abdicate its position as representing a segment of the American body politic to enthusiastically support an anti-American program and shamelessly cover-up the invasion and destruction of the Capitol by murderous thugs, resulting in the killing of police.

What gives?

Now, my first reaction to this behavior is, of course, (see above) mere political survival. It is the most important aspect of the gig. Without being elected there is no chance to enact agenda or ideologies. And what good would it be to bash the rantings of your party’s most popular figure, alienate his rabid base, or put a spotlight on something he cooked up that ended in political sedition and murder? But I am not sure that interpretation washes here. Because… um… what is the agenda? To stop the free and fair election of the leader of the free world – that was the point of the rally that began things on January 6, conceived, promoted, and conducted by the president of the United States. He did not like losing. He wanted to stop the ratification of the vote. He caused a riot. The entire “rigged election” enterprise was to sate the wounded ego of a narcistic loon with zero evidence. It ended with the events of January 6.

If anyone could see another agenda here beyond terrorism, please write me.

Is this what the Republican Party wants? To forever be implicated in this crime against the nation?

As to the ideology? Is it to take up legislation in dozens of states based on this lie to change voting laws ostensibly to “protect” against a security breech that never happened? If this was to occur in, say, Venezuela, what would we be saying about it? Yeah, I thought so.

This brings us to the question at hand; has the Republican Party now morphed into an anti-American terrorist organization hell-bent on destroying democracy?

Hardly. I would respect the party more if it were. But it is merely filled with opportunists, who secretly laugh at Trump and his conspiracists and don’t believe a wit about it, but avoid confronting it, and more egregiously, use it to enact laws to make it easier for them to stem the tide of history that is against them at the ballot box.

There is a political axiom attributed to everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Adolf Eichmann, “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.” But what if said crisis is stupid made-up shit?

But forget all that. The very idea that I could write such a headline, as less satire and more interpretative of events, is what should give us a chill. It is very plausible that we have lost the Republican Party as a legitimate political entity in this country if the party supports suppressing votes and protecting terrorists, many of whom were trying to lynch them, including the then vice president, a Republican, who is also conspicuously silent about this. Forget about the party of Lincoln, the party of Reagan is now dead and buried – the final nail in the coffin is when its members voted to oust traditional conservative Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney to replace her with less conservative New York congresswoman Elise Stefanik simply because Cheney is against anti-American sedition and Trump crap and Stefanik is not.

As covered here a few weeks ago, Cheney is a Reagan Republican, Stefanik is a Trump Republican. That maneuver affectively ends one era for another. And if January 6 is any indication, it is not a proud era for Republicans.

To wit: Mitch McConnell, the minority leader of the Senate, who after January 6, told the august gathering that Donald Trump “held responsibility” for inviting and rousing the mob to the ultimate destruction and murders that followed. Yet, he ordered his constituency to block an investigation on those events. This is the same contingency that ordered up nine, that is correct, nine different investigations of the Benghazi tragedy that killed two Americans in a Libyan war zone. This is the American Capitol under siege with hundreds of armed marauders shouting for the heads of the vice president and the speaker of the house. Is it crazy then to inquire if this man is not at least committing treason?

How about Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader in the house, who screamed at Trump in the White House to stop the insurrection on that dismal afternoon and took to the House floor to decry its horrors, only to continue to deflect from finding out more about where it originated from, how many factions enacted it, and if it could happen again? There are still questions about how many members of Congress had a hand in January 6. Is this what the Republican Party wants? To forever be implicated in this crime against the nation?

These are serious questions. They are not meant for sensationalism or to piss-off innocent Republicans, who have their own reasons for loyalty to the party. I have friends, family members and colleagues who remain Republicans in the face of all this. And I feel sorry for them, because they do not deserve what is happening to their party. America needs at least two healthy political parties.

But it is fair to dissect this and confront them with these facts, because all of what’s covered above has happened and continues to occur within one of the two major parties. The refusal to even appoint a bipartisan commission when it was supported by thirty-five House Republicans and six GOP Senators is a damning admission to this assertion. But they have made this bargain and hope to win elections, and as stated above, that is the gig.

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VACCINES, CDC, & THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS

Aquarian Weekly
5/19/21

Reality Check

James Campion

VACCINES, CDC, & THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS

So, I’m halfway home. The wife and I got the first Moderna shot a few weeks ago. On the twenty-seventh day of May 2021, we shall be vaccinated. This week the Center of Disease Control and Prevention announced if you are one of the nearly half of Americans fully vaccinated against Covid-19, you can shed your mask, and go about your business outside of hospitals and airports, etc. But for the most part, all the whining – I never understood this, why is wearing a mask such a burden? Man, we are lazy, weak slackers – can now cease. No more watching Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, former libertarian, current whiney bitch, scream at Doctor Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president, while he tries to explain to him that a square has four sides. Although, it was sometimes entertaining. Nevertheless, things are moving along swimmingly.

Of course, there are concerns. Children, for instance, are not vaccinated. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency approval for use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in twelve to fifteen-year-olds and the CDC also (kind of quietly, if you ask me) announced kids as young as twelve can get the normal Pfizer shot. Hmmmm… That leaves really young kids. But, apparently, they are just rotten carriers of the virus, not its victims. I mean, let’s face it, toddlers and a little further along children are rotten carriers of everything. Example: I barely survived my daughter’s kindergarten years in which I endured varied and mysterious illnesses I had never experience in a half-century of living. In a world-wide pandemic, I haven’t had as much as a sniffle. Children are a far more dangerous virus than anything conceived by eating bats.

As a brief aside, I like to think that children are either freaks of nature, a biological prank or a vengeful God’s way of proving that we are generationally challenged. I live with a teenager now. And she is showing signs of what I was as a teenager, and if this comes to fruition, I may have to move out.

It is that kind of ice-cold factoid writing that proves where we are in this one. I am here to state clearly that once we get to a majority of vaccinated Americans this entire operation needs to turn into a science experiment. Everyone goes about their business. If you do not want to get vaccinated, I support your decision. But for the rest of us, we go to bars and the beach and to the ballgame and God help me, live music concerts. Please! I want Broadway back. If the un-vaccinated attend a show and catch Covid and get horribly sick or die, dems the breaks.

At some point, and maybe it will be next year, Covid-19, which is never going away and there will be annual booster shots for us all for the foreseeable and probably infinite future, the general sentiment – even among the most paranoid among us – will be that it is time to move on. But I think that time is now. We are a sort-of democracy, or at least claim to be. Over fifty percent of something is good enough for me. I know this has zero to do with science, as most experts say we need to be at seventy to eighty percent immunized to get to that critical herd immunity thing, but every revolution has its casualties.

Children are a far more dangerous virus than anything conceived by eating bats.

Most of the people who are not getting vaccinated at this juncture are complete deniers and anti-vaccination types. Fine. They are rolling the dice and unfortunately roll the dice for their kids in every vaccination offered anyway. So, they can go about their business. Good luck to them. Those who are still hesitant and feel they are young, healthy, or like my family, lucky enough to not catch the virus, then more power to ya. Your call. And for those hesitating to see what happens, know that all vaccines show their aftereffects on subjects within three months of the shot. People have been getting these things since last September, and officially since December 2020, it’s not going to grow a third eye. And if you believe Bill Gates is putting a chip in your arm, you need to die. So, please do not take the vaccine and leave the gene pool.

Look, although this may read as unusually harsh – welcome to Reality Check, my name is James Campion, and I have been filling this space with vitriol now since 1997 – we have been quite patient (most of us outside of Florida and Texas) and now we have this fancy vaccination. So, let those who want to risk it, risk it, and let’s all get back to pre-pandemic life. If a new strain appears because we are not fully immunized against it, then, well, what else can you do? The time has come to find out.

I don’t want anyone to get sick or die. But I also don’t want people to stockpile guns and wander into a school and kill children or cops to shoot unarmed Black men in the back or half of congress to promote a false stolen election theory drummed up by a con man and then support domestic terrorism or people to abuse recreational or prescription drugs or eat fast food until their bloated heart explodes or blast eighties hair metal from their sadly over-sized, penis-compensating pick-up trucks or see another headline with the words My Pillow Guy in it or have to give money to Cablevision because I have no fucking broadband in the woods or scoop litter when my wife leaves for a few days or write about, talk about, ague about or even think about a quarantine.

Life’s tough. Get a helmet.

Go get vaccinated or not. I honestly do not care anymore. For the rest of us, it’s time to roll that dice and see what we come up with. Because, if you think about it for about a minute, that’s pretty much how America even exists.

Until then, I wish everyone reading this the very best of luck, health, and well-being.

Or not. Whatever.

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THE NOT-SO CURIOUS CASE OF LIZ CHENEY

Aquarian Weekly
5/12/21

Reality Check

James Campion

THE NOT-SO CURIOUS CASE OF LIZ CHENEY
Wyoming Congresswoman at The GOP Fault Line


You know the deal: Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney who along with eight her Republican House colleagues joined all the Democrats in voting to impeach the former president for trying to destroy democracy in a sad and dangerous attempt to save face for getting his clock cleaned in the 2020 presidential election is not happy about her party and the country simply “moving on” from all this. Especially since it eventually led to a deadly insurrection on the Capitol by right-wing terrorists. However, this meandering over crimes committed by its titular leader makes zero sense for Republicans, who have been furiously changing election laws all over the country based on this bullshit in hopes of winning back power in 2022. Back in D.C., Republicans are performing the difficult political trick of simultaneously condemning the attack on the symbol of American law and order and the attempted murder of colleagues while appeasing the very people who did this and the guy who planted its seed, Donald Trump. Thus, Trump remains the GOP’s messianic avatar with the only voter base that can make the party relevant in the near future.

Because of her understandably furious reaction to the January 6 terrorist attacks, Cheney is at her party’s fault line, making her as important a figure for party unity as West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who has rankled his fellow Democrats and skuttled President Joe Biden’s more sweeping bills through his siding more with Republicans. Cheney right now is the key Republican figure and the last vestige of hope for them to admit that Trump’s lies about having the 2020 election stolen is a threat to the future of this democracy and reeks of fascist elements of one-voice for one-party.

But that is political crazy talk. Again, it does nothing to help Republicans using The Big Lie to change election laws to benefit their winning in 2022 and beyond, nor does it assist the convenient sweeping under the rug one of the most heinous acts of a president in the republic’s history.

This is the sweet spot for this space. There is nothing quite like intraparty political intrigue, especially when it is so unabashedly cynical. Republicans have stated emphatically that their main objective is to win back the House and Senate, which is understandable if this were 2022, but we are four months into the new administration and 117th congress, and they have been tasked by their bosses, us, to legislate and debate and represent their districts and the nation at large. Spending all their time setting up for future political successes usually floats near the surface of this shallow pool, but this time it is the entire pool.

Again, Cheney is the most interesting political football for this battle to rescue a GOP hijacked by the Trump coalition. What used to be a problem for the United States is now squarely inside the Republican Party, as gutless lackies like Senators Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz, and Congressman Mike McCarthy, jet down to Mar a Lago, Florida to kiss the ring of the Donald and gain bonafides with its base, mostly made up of science-denying, race-baiting, election-fraud minions. Because without these voters, as stated here before, there is no more Republican Party. And these voters are motivated not by infrastructure bills, foreign policy or systemic injustice, this is about culture wars and anti-woke rhetoric that fires their fears that their country is eroding.

Maybe silencing Cheney is the way to put that final nail in the coffin of the Republican Party as we had come to know it over the past forty to fifty years.

There is no other place for the Republicans to go to remain in power. Following the Trump win in 2016, this maneuver has cost them two chambers of congress and the presidency, not to mention the previously sacred moral high ground, as well as being proponents of fiscal responsibility, intrepid geo-politics, and free trade that used to be the pillars of conservatism. No one knows what conservatism is anymore. Ronald Reagan would be a flaming liberal to this base.

Liz Cheney is a traditional Reagan Republican, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, not long ago the pro forma conservative. She represents the Bush wing, the suddenly dismissed identity of the party that was erected in the late 1970s and started to see cracks during the second half of an ongoing Iraq conflict that was openly challenged by Trump during the 2016 campaign in which he called George W. Bush a war criminal and anything to do with that war a sad mistake. It got so bad, during the general election Trump ran to the left of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who voted for the thing, and was a staunch proponent of the Reagan Doctrine.

Cheney, who in almost every respect, is a dyed in the wool old-world conservative, the kind that used be a big star in the party, but now due to her voicing her concerns Republicans have tied themselves to a violent, anti-American contingent is anathema. She represents an upside-down argument about what the party will stand for going forward, post-Trump, and she is not shy in stating it.

Behind the scenes Republicans like minority leader McCarthy have begun plans to remove her from any seats of influence within the caucus, quite literally expunging what is left of Reagan from the party and embracing the mythos of popularism and nativism and most importantly, for Cheney, reality. She recently wrote in a Washington Post op ed titled “The GOP is at a Turning Point” that “History is watching us.” Now, I’m not sure of that, but certainly the long-term solvency of the Republican Party is. The short game to stick with the popular base movement is what put Democrats behind the bell curve in the late 1960s to early 70s. A radical left contingent gave rise to semi-electable candidates and quasi-governing officials, who in the long run could not pull in enough moderate and independent voters to stay relevant for long, leading to six years of Nixon and twelve years of Reagan/Bush, and eventually in the 1990s, losing the House for the first time in generations.

This is a far more polarized electorate now, but with a much heartier independent vote than ever before in American politics. Joe Biden got a hell of a lot of votes, yet in districts across the nation some Republicans shocked the pundits. Cheney sits on this split, and it is widening by the hour.

Lastly, it is deliciously hypocritical that a party that has gotten itself all in a tangle over what they deem is Cancel Culture, the practice of businesses, publishers, corporations, sports leagues and overly polite society taking little chips off of questionable to outright racist and misogynist content, etc, and cancelling it, is doing the same thing to Cheney. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene have been raising money and making a name for themselves by whining about what they deem is an attempt to silence them in this climate. Greene often wears a mask with “Free Speech” on it. Yet, they are smack dab in the coalition to silence Cheney simply because she ain’t going along with the plan.

And maybe silencing Cheney is the way to put that final nail in the coffin of the Republican Party as we had come to know it over the past forty to fifty years. It will be worth watching, for both entertainment and, yeah, for the future of governance in the United States for the next fifty.

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BIDEN AT THE CENTURY MARK

Aquarian Weekly
5/7/21

Reality Check

James Campion

BIDEN AT THE CENTURY MARK
The First 100 Days in Our National Recovery

It is going to be difficult to judge this president without gazing through the dismal lens of the last one. Donald Trump was such an ineffectual, downright moronic and haphazard president, anyone who followed him would have an advantage of “not him”-ism. Think of how good a McDonald’s hamburger might taste after a pile of steaming shit – it’s not rib-eye, but it’s sort of edible. This will be Reality Check’s fourth president hitting his first 100 days in office, and the first that will skew the numbers from any semblance of reality. Sure, Joe Biden has a 54-percent approval rating at the century mark, which is below George W. Bush (63-percent) and Barack Obama (62-percent), but way above Trump’s 45-percent. And that was Trump’s four-year high – he was just warming up to suck – but it is hard to know what I am analyzing here. Nevertheless, I’m bound to duty, so let’s do this.

To get the obvious out of the way, Biden is not Trump. When the president used my “house on fire” analogy I had worn out last year during his congressional address this week I had to smile. Because for these first 100 days the most important thing Biden could have done was turn the page, fast. Especially since we are still enduring a pandemic that has taken the lives of a half-million Americans and sunk the economy. All of this was defiantly ignored by his predecessor, especially when Trump lost the election and spent his final three months disappearing to whine or emerging to blather tired bullshit about election rigging, ending his sad tenure with the gathering of lunatics to attack the Capitol. What a merry time of misrule it was.

When I write, Any new administration had to be better, it comes with heavy emphasis, like, ANY NEW ADMINISTRATION HAD TO BE BETTER. And for the first couple of weeks Biden shifted tone, connecting the otherwise abandoned federal government response to Covid-19 with the states to expand testing and get the new vaccines out to as many places as possible, specifically lower-income urban and rural areas, and did things presidents do, like function and not tweet at four am about craziness, embrace foreign despots, deny reality, and lie, lie, lie, and more lying. So, is this success? I guess? It’s not a shit show, so that’s a win.

People who somehow find the temerity to defend the Trump presidency conveniently forget he was hired to wreck shit. On that front, and by that measure, the experiment to send a game show host to run the free world was a rousing success. What revisionist historians try and tell us is this was a form of functioning, like having someone demolition your home and call it redecorating. Biden, on the other hand, is being president. Whether you agree with his policies or ideology is up for grabs, he is actually doing the thing he was elected to do, instead of running the federal government as a vanity project wrapped in criminal activities.

To say the very least, confidence in a functioning president was paramount in late January 2021, and on this count, Biden delivered by quickly undoing much of the damaging silliness of the Trump era by going executive-order crazy. Even supporters of the president realized that this was a speed-train approach, but since Trump mostly altered the terrain through a phalanx of executive orders, this sidewinding method held sway in changing course accordingly.

The other key element of Biden’s first 100 days is his restocking the business of government – the gutted state department, the eviscerated diplomacy tract, politicized justice department, embattled intelligence community, and the use of the national guard to deploy vaccines, etc. (220 million shots in 100 days – he promised 100 million). But this is just doing the job. After the last four years, it is apparently big news.

He is actually doing the thing he was elected to do, instead of running the federal government as a vanity project wrapped in criminal activities.

On the ideological front, Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue package was as progressive and big government as it gets. No Republican would touch it under the hypocritical auspices that it would add to the debt and it was too expensive, all the things they ignored for the four previous years of senseless corporate handouts and tax-cuts. Spending is always suggested in economic crisis, especially one created by the government when shutting it down in the first place, but Biden came in swinging. And if his address to congress is any indication he intends to spend some more. To be fair, again, expanding infrastructure investments was a Trump/GOP edict – roads, bridges, airports, schools, broadband – but once again the $2 trillion price tag is too high for them, and unless Biden can get a couple of his sticky centrist Democratic senators onboard there is likely to be compromise or fancy politicking.

One major cross-political pollination occurred in the final weeks of the century mark for this president; Biden’s decision to remove troops from Afghanistan. There have been both left and right arguments for and against this war since we invaded that country twenty years ago, making it by-far the longest running U.S. military engagement. First, it was a Bush plan (GOP backed), then it was Obama’s inheritance (wait and see, and then wait, and wait and wait some more) for eight years, then Trump went all America-First No More Stupid Wars, but kept it going, despite threatening a few times in his final year to end it, but, ironically, was met this time from Democratic blowback. The Pentagon also weighed in, warning of doom and gloom, but this was expected, since the generals always want war. Keeps them in business. Gives them a reason to exist. Biden, unlike Trump, is old-world. There is more Reagan and Bush in Biden than Trump. Biden is a Cold War vet. He still sees America as the Shining City on the Hill. Devoid of perspective, Trump didn’t see any money is supporting our allies. But for all his bluster and maverick nonsense, four years went by and we were still at war in Afghanistan. Biden wants out.

Not sure what this tells us about a Biden Doctrine. His job for the past 100 days was to get us back in the international game, wipe the egg off our face and put us back into conversations about climate change, international treaties, alliances in Europe and Asia, all left to rot or were sabotaged in the last administration.

One major failure for Biden, he miscalculated the partisan divides in his town. All that “work together” rhetoric revealed he was out of touch. Even his close friends on the other side like Lindsay Graham have long ago sold their commitment to govern for faux heroism in the eyes of the far right. Biden also needs to come to grips with the centrists on Capitol Hill, specifically West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who has shown more empathy for the Republican caucus than his party’s president. Yet, this should not shy Biden from being bold on his agenda, (national referendum on voting rights to placate the Black vote that put him in the White House and to stem the tide of voter suppression the Republicans seek to stay relevant, for one). Seeing how the weight for 2022 looks to be shifting back to a GOP controlled House and Senate, there is no better time than now.

The mark for Biden’s first 100 days is incomplete. He has shown he can transform and rebuild. He has brought decency and sanity back to the presidency. He has been really liberal (big government solutions) and steadfastly moderate (keeping Trump era immigration regulations in place). He has not yet shown his hand on the refugee crisis at the southern border, which has been punted to the next 100 days, or three and a half years.

But one thing can be said about Joe Biden. He is no Donald Trump.

cmini

And I will take that every day and twice, please, on Sundays.       

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LOW BAR ANOMALY

Aquarian Weekly
4/28/21

Reality Check

James Campion

LOW BAR ANOMALY
Where We Are After Derek Chauvin Guilty Verdict

It never ceases to amaze me how a country that celebrates its “exceptionalism” with such sickening fervor continues each year to honor Major League Baseball’s “allowing” an African American to participate in its endeavors after 78 years of existence. The observance of Jackie Robinson Day, this late-arriving moment of racial enlightenment in April of 1947, is a pathetical solemn reminder of our incredibly low bar of enthusiasm for racial-equality progress, especially when considering how deeply engrained systemic racism was/is in our national construct. This level of disgust revisited me this week when the guilty verdict came in on all three counts against Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Some would like to see this as a sign that we have turned the corner on 1) Unchecked police violence against our citizenry, especially our Black citizens or 2) The way our cities and states handle murderous police officers in its wake. But joyous singing in the streets does not change the fact that this outcome is a mere anomaly in a wider issue. To wit: Less than twelve hours after the Chauvin verdict a Black man was shot dead by a cop in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The city has still not released the bodycam footage. Outrage ensued. Protests began. Change non-existent.

We have a loooooonnnnnngggg way to go.

Let’s concentrate on the Chauvin case.

A cop, in broad daylight, and on camera, kneels on a man’s neck for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds. That man, as we all know by now, was George Floyd, perhaps the most famous civil rights martyr since Martin Luther King (and man, there have been an alarming amount of those). Floyd begged for his life on this recording. He repeatedly shouted that he could not breathe, as did Eric Garner in a 2014 Staten Island, New York incident in which he was murdered in broad daylight on camera. Floyd, like Garner, predictably died from not breathing. This time, once again, it took nearly ten minutes. I’m no doctor or prosecutor, but I would think without any other evidence or whatever the poor bastards hired to defend this thug had to cook up to “excuse” it, if someone is doing something this violent to another person for nearly ten minutes, there is a very good chance the perpetrator is working towards killing him. This is as cold-blooded and open-and-shut case as you can get, irrespective of race or civic duty. This was murder.

This legal slam-dunk even forced several fellow officers to turn on Chauvin and do what has been impossible in police circles – officers acting as witnesses to prosecute police crime. Sadly, this was lauded as some kind of heroic act. When in reality it was yet another anomaly in a case jammed with them. Is this going to show cracks in the Silent Blue Wall? Will this change the “closing of ranks”, union blowback, or reduce the stupid Pro-Police No Matter What Crimes They Commit or the usual political intransigence we have seen forever?

I argue no to all those questions. A very confident no.

Granted, the aforementioned Garner case only resulted in the sacking of his murderer, Officer Daniel Pantaleo. But despite prior issues of racism, Pantaleo was the subject of two civil rights lawsuits in 2013 where plaintiffs accused him of falsely arresting and abusing them, including one in which he and other officers allegedly ordered two Black men to strip naked on the street for a search, he saw no jail time for Garner’s death. In fact, he was never indicted. So, if we lower the bar to a spectacular limbo-like level, then, sure, Chauvin actually going to jail for killing a Black man is progress.

Whoopie.

Should we break out into a chorus of “God Bless America” or just throw up?

Less than twelve hours after the Chauvin verdict a Black man was shot dead by a cop in Elizabeth City, North Carolina… We have a loooooonnnnnngggg way to go.

The Chauvin case proves that you need overwhelming, damning, sure-shot evidence that a cop murdered a citizen. What if that young woman with the smart phone doesn’t show up? Anomaly. No other cop on the scene stopped it. They had ten fucking minutes to do it. A lot had to work out for justice. Anomaly. Sometimes it doesn’t. Most times.

A cop shooting someone in the heat of the moment or not making a correct decision with his weapon or even these repeated shootings of unarmed Black men in the back, are not going to shift in the other direction because of the Chauvin verdict. Police and the echo-chamber defense of “any and all” police activity will argue that cops need to have a wider spectrum of violent retribution in order to do their jobs correctly. And if we push too hard against all this racial profiling and murdering then they might not want to be cops.

For instance, in what can only be deciphered as a publicity stunt to cull the goon vote, Amanda Chase, a GOP candidate for Virginia governor, told reporters upon hearing the Chauvin news, “Today’s verdict makes me sick. I am so concerned about our law enforcement right now, quitting. And you should be, too.”

But this has always specious claptrap, which keeps cities and states from weeding out crappy and racist police, of which there are way too many. And the idea that critiquing this is somehow anti-police is another childish retort to common sense. Not liking some foods does not make you an enemy of food.

Sure, celebrating the Chauvin guilty verdict seems like the thing to do, but now what?

Until guilty verdicts for murdering cops becomes the norm, this is just a blip in our systemic issues radar.

And, let’s face it, if this is what we’re congratulating ourselves on – convicting a guy for choking a man for ten minutes on tape – then I’m not even sure anyone has even begun lifting the damn bar.

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AMERICA: THE VIOLENCE PROBLEM

Aquarian Weekly
4/21/21

Reality Check

James Campion

AMERICA: THE VIOLENCE PROBLEM
History, Legacy, Inhumanity & Stupidity 


We are a nation forged in blood. Violence is our thing. America, as stated here time and again, is the great human experiment. And so far, for the past 300,000 or so years of humanity the results have been fairly consistent. We are super-duper violent. And in the freest of national constructs, humanity gets to let it all hang out. And man, we have done a fantastic job of bringing the bang. Since day-one, shit, before day-one, Americans have killed everything and anyone in our path, then expanded that globally, and then when that wasn’t enough, we turned the big stuff on ourselves. Violence is in our political structure, our media, our religions, our neighborhoods, our sports, our hobbies, our obsessions, our songs, our art, our vocabulary, our DNA.

I have written about all of this since this column started in the late summer of 1997. In the first volume of my collected musings, Fear No Art – Observations on the Death of the American Century, there is a piece from 12/9/97, LOVE & HATE that frames it. Since, there have been many revisits here to this American Violence phenomenon. So why bring this up now? We know we like to kill and celebrate killing and make movies about it, video games, all of that stuff. Seems kind of redundant and a little condescending. Or… is it?

Timing is everything in life, as it is in journalism, and especially commentary. And in the last few months, there has been an alarming uptick (that is being kind, it has been a flood) of violence in this country. We were barely through January when the president lost his shit and invited a bunch knuckle-draggers to Washington D.C. to attack the Capitol and threaten the lives of the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and Capitol Police, a few died, along with other casualties. Welcome to 2021!

Then there is the 147 mass-shooting so far this year.

That is 147 in 106 days.

According to the tally on the Gun Violence Archive 2021 site, there has been 12,406 gun-related deaths in 2021 – 5,410 in the homicide department, 6,996 by suicide and some 9,754 injured. Eighty-seven children have died by the gun so far, 184 injured, and 313 teens (758 injured). It is barely halfway through April. We are on a killing spree folks. Hang on tight.

Of course, we love guns. I get this. We are not going to stop loving guns. I also get this. The gun is a part of the great American experiment. Deal with it. Also, deal with these deaths. It is part of the violence pact we have here. We will be violent, and we will love guns. It is in our national anthem and our constitution. Hard to argue against any of this. Many have tried. The most popular bill ever is the Brady Bill. People mostly want gun control. But they can’t have it. Killing is way more popular.

We are a nation forged in blood. Violence is our thing.

War is the offshoot of our love of high-powered weaponry. We used to be excellent at war. We totally suck at it now. And we spend a lot of blood and treasure to suck at it. We haven’t won a real war since 1945. That is more than a half-century of sucking. But we still love it. Why? Because it is really violent.

The above list of this year’s wild doings does not include the thousands of stabbings, violence in robberies, violent retribution for spurned lovers, dumped spouses, angered friends, upset employees, politically disenfranchised losers, racists, economically despaired loners, and the usual shit – rape, pedophilia, Florida congressmen romps. There is someone killing someone right now as I right this. Actually, a lot of killing.

But what really brings all this home is the violence perpetuated on the citizenry by its police forces. This is especially prevalent in African American communities. For the uninitiated and deaf to all this, it is kind of why there is a Black Lives Matter movement. Not to promote Marxism or as some kind of progressive attack on cops, just shitty, racist ones who kill unarmed Black citizens over and over and over and over and over and over… I have also written about this over and over, especially in the last few years, also bringing to bear the police union, which is the most immovable workforce in the history of any nation. The police unions are so strong their members have free reign to kill, maim, break into homes, beat, choke, and generally manhandle any of us with zero retribution. It is pretty much a Gestapo Force. Nah, it is a Gestapo Force.

Just last week about a short hop and a skip from where George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis cop, who is currently on trial there, there was yet another shooting of an unarmed Black man. You can’t make this up. You wouldn’t. In fact, you should expect it.

So, I wouldn’t say we have a gun problem, or a cop problem, or even a systemic racist per se. What we have here is an American Violence Problem. We’ve learned to live and die with it. Like we will with pollution, bad television, the homeless, NFL and soon Covid-19.

Those are just symptoms of the grand human experiment.

America, this is our virus.

Violence.

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LET’S TALK FILIBUSTER

Aquarian Weekly
3/31/21

Reality Check

James Campion

LET’S TALK FILIBUSTER

In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority. Were the defensive privilege limited to particular cases, an interested minority might take advantage of it to screen themselves from equitable sacrifices to the general weal, or, in particular emergencies, to extort unreasonable indulgences.
– Federalist Papers, Publius
(Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay)

This is the fun time in American politics. The gloves are off. And when the gloves come off, the real fighting begins. None of this namby-pamby jab and parry. This is gut-punch and chin-shot time. True politics as blood sport. How it was drawn up. If the Republicans are going to use the rules available to ram a Supreme Court justice to a vote with weeks left until a national election after taking ten months to avoid a vote before a previous presidential election, because simply, they had the power, then it stands to reason that the Democrats are contemplating blowing up the current automaton filibuster rule to get things done on their end. They have the power.

Simple math.

Who has the most votes?

Democracy in action. Like the forefathers wished it and put down in writing. It’s all in the Federalist Papers. Shut off the TV, turn off talk radio, silence the blogs, vlogs and podcasts, chuck the slogans, give up your marching signs, and read the fucking thing. It’s chock full of America in there. Real America, not this nonsense we’re dealing with today. It is the foundation for whatever we supposedly celebrate in all our “exceptionalism”. And man, does it hate letting the minority make calls.

And that is where the rubber hits this particular road.

Firstly, let’s make it plain; the filibuster as presently constituted is against the fair rule of democracy. I use fair not in the sense that “life is fair”, because it most certainly is not. If it were, we wouldn’t need a Federalist Papers or the Constitution, or 600,000 wouldn’t have had to die to free humans from slavery. It is a failsafe, as Messrs. Hamilton, Madison and Jay surmised, to muck up the system if abused. And it has been abused more in the last decade than at any time since the antiquated rule emerged during an 1806 parliamentary procedure. For most of the next 150 years it was barely broached, save the Southern Democrats and most Republicans who used it to try and stop the Civil Rights Act, because, you know, Black people and rights has always been our disconnect. Lawmakers saw a problem and battled it out. The idea of simply blocking something on “principle” was not the issue. If you wanted to stop something, like say, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, then you had to make your points, stand your ground, vote your conscience and the will of your constituency, and live with the consequences. See Doris Kearns Goodwin’s’ magnificent Team of Rivals or check out Steven Spielberg’s brilliant film based on it, Lincoln for a slice of the true American nightmare of legislation.

The problem is, and here is where our 2021 edition of Let’s Talk Filibuster comes in, the Republican Party is in deep shit. It is losing its majority nationwide. Most of its electoral strength comes from gerrymandering counties in states and dominating deep red states in the Great Northwest or the South. They need to curtail voting ubiquity. Since taking a shellacking in November, some states like Georgia are passing or poised to pass restrictive voting laws ostensibly to keep minorities from having access to drop boxes or voting on Sundays when they go a-churchin’, along with other fancy elements of suppression like making it illegal to hand out water on voting lines. That’s right. Illegal to hand out water. The design is to kill voting, hence helping the minority party keep the numbers down in order to win. Classic political maneuvering. The Democrats, who are in the federal driver’s seat want to, of course, keep the demographic progression of the voting block flowing in their direction. A new bill just ripped through the Dem-controlled House that will override these new measures.

And now it is the Senate’s turn. And even though the Democrats have a majority in both houses of Congress and the presidency, here comes the filibuster, an automatic stoppage to vote by proxy, not physical oratory, discussion, debate or rhetoric. In other words, democracy under siege. Of course, it is highly debatable – if there were anything close to such an animal in the Senate – whether this new bill is constitutional. But that won’t be discovered legally or otherwise unless this automatic filibuster is eliminated, and we get to vote on it.

This is gut-punch and chin-shot time. True politics as blood sport.

Eliminating this anti-democratic caveat in the system is seen as a nuclear option – not sure why, if you read the Federalist Papers or care a lick about the origins of American democracy. But let’s say you don’t, and you just want to stop the other party from getting the mandate they acquired by the vote in November; then you hide behind the current filibuster.

Now, there is another side to this. So juicy. It means the perception will be – not unlike the one-sided ram-though Affordable Care Act vote of 2009 – that this is a power grab by Democrats to tip the playing field, much that crazy shit Republicans pulled earlier this year that led to the insurrection on the Capitol. Apparently, those who perpetuated it now call it satire, that they were only kidding, the election was not stolen. But it is merely a wonderfully entertaining but shameful survival tactic to avoid lawsuits and prison. But be that as it may nixing the filibuster, which doesn’t even have enough Dem votes, means there will be a political price to pay for Democrats, and certainly, as noted above, there is a very good chance this new Voting Rights Law, if it should make a majority vote, will be vehemently challenged in every possible court.

But hell, the ACA and the Patriot Act are still going strong, so fuck it.

And so, what to do about the filibuster as it is currently administered in the grand scheme of lawmaking?

When you hear the bell, come out swinging.

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