REGARDING THE TIK TOK 12/17 NATIONAL SCHOOL THREATS

Aquarian Weekly
12/22/21
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
REGARDING THE TICK TOK 12/17 NATIONAL SCHOOL THREATS       
Thoughts from a Parent on the New Violence Normal
 
 
Okay, so the morning I am writing this (December 17, 2021) I get a text from one of my daughter’s eighth-grade friends at around six am on whether the young thirteen year-old in my care is going to school today. I must admit (bad parenting 101) I was unaware that there was a warning out there about some National School Bomb/Shooting Day floating around the Internet thanks in no small part to a Tik Tok/Snap Chat social media viral frenzy over a few days in mid-December. This was, as I have researched, the bizarre but expected offshoot of a hoax perpetuated by some enterprising urchins in the Midwest trying to get schools to shut down “for fun.” But, well, in this era of the weekly school shootings, and being a parent of a middle school kid, this was, to say the least concerning.

Spoiler Alert: We sent our kid in. Packing.
   

Well, not really. It is just something I write to be pithy and to allay my growing fears about what the hell is going on, but unlike many of my fellow Americans, I am not in the “What Have We Become?” camp. This has been the America of my fifty-nine years of breathing. In the 1960s, there were weekly bomb threats to my Catholic School in the Bronx, NY. I was in first grade, and we were routinely waltzed into the playground behind the school. Interestingly, one time I was standing back there and noticed the shadow of the school engulfing us tikes as we waited for the bell to usher us back into the joint. I decided that any detonated bomb would likely rain rubble down upon us. I turned and walked home. I got a lot of shit for that, but at six, I think I possessed enough self-preservation to consider it again the moment I heard they’d announced in the towers on 9/11 that everyone should not panic and stay in their cubicles. My guess is I would have turned and walked out. But who knows?
  

Anyway, it totally sucks that we must be wary of our children walking into a school that may or may not be shot up or blown up today. Right? Whether you support full gun rights or fear every kind of terrorism or believe some other thing, we can agree this ain’t cool. This is not Jerusalem, after all. When I went to Israel in 1996 the main response to what had been going on there for decades (centuries?) was “We just want our kids to take the bus in peace.” – Palestinians and Israelis.

I live in the mountains of New Jersey, and although there is the usual congregation of gun-perverts you expect up here, I think it is a fairly benign region. But then again, these sleepy towns are the ones with the neighbor’s kid who decides he’s had enough.

But getting back to this morning’s drama, before the fancy tweet from Governor Phil Murphy, “While there are no known specific threats against New Jersey schools, the safety of our children is our highest priority and we will work closely with law enforcement to monitor the situation and remain prepared,” I received several texts from other concerned parents. By the way, as an aside, I think this whole using Twitter to make serious government-related announcements should stop. Another fantastic legacy held over from our previous President Idiot. What if you are not on Twitter? Your kid doesn’t count? You think I follow Murphy on Twitter?
    

“We just want our kids to take the bus in peace.”

– Palestinians and Israelis.

Doing some research on all of this, there have been, according to Nassau, Long Island Police Chief Patrick Ryder, a 148-percent increase in school threats this year. It is a thing now. So “a thing” usually ends up being exploited on the Internet. This, I think, (Jesus, I hope) is what we have here. I have prided myself in not living in fear – of viruses, terrorists, evangelicals, fringe movements, the government, Major League Baseball, big cities, traveling abroad, mainlining absinthe, and the like. This was a tough one. My daughter is more important than anything on planet earth, as I am sure your offspring is. But how are we supposed to live (function) in this “new normal” environment of violence-first? I wonder back to the Pilgrims and those lunatics who started building houses on Native American land, or any number of crazy violence-related shit Americans have been dealing with since we decided to stomp around here as if we owned the place?
  

I suppose there is no answer to any of this when you consider our legacy of violence. And now our ability to post some madness out there that gets reposted and reposted. How do you think you end up with the kind of street riots of 2020 and, most egregiously, the January 6 insurrection of the U.S. Capitol in broad daylight? The Internet is our playground. And every playground has those kids, you know those kids. The ability to communicate the idea of violence, insurrection, destruction is so easy now. And so is complete and utter bullshit. The crazies count on the bullshit. And although I do support every kind of free speech, this equates to shouting fire in a crowded theater. Causing panic is terrorism. So, if you forward this stuff, are you a terrorist? I am still formulating my opinion on government officials who support those who caused January 6, including President Idiot, so I’ll get back to you on that.
 

And, let’s face it, it is all well and good to use this space to parse these social aspects of our collective damaged psyche for a lark, however, this is my kid. These are your kids. Are we forced to live in an armored compound and stock up on canned goods?

I say, nah to that. But I guess I cannot fault anyone for going full-on “Check Out” when this kind of thing hits home. It can change perspectives. Fast.

I always say Expect the Worst, Hope for the Best. I guess prepare for all of the above is the best answer to any of it.
  

And by it, I mean, reality.

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THE POLITICS OF CHOICE

Aquarian Weekly
12/8/21
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
THE POLITICS OF CHOICE       
How Candidates Use and May Use SCOTUS Decision on Roe v Wade
 
The most important Supreme Court hearings on women’s reproductive rights since the 1973 Roe v Wade decision to legalize abortion under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, specifically its Due Process Clause, providing the sacrosanct “right to privacy” to all citizens, male and female, is underway. A decision is expected this summer, and with the current ultra-right court, packed with three new judges that have a written and judicial history of opposing the law, it appears its current legal status is in jeopardy. The new controversial Mississippi law seeks to lower the abortion timeframe to fifteen weeks that pro-choice advocates claim will further roll back the rights of women against government interference to control what happens inside their bodies. The pro-life argument is that it protects a fetus at that point in the pregnancy, which new scientific evidence points to its viability to survive outside the mother.
 

To reiterate what I have always written here, I support all American’s Fourteen Amendment rights, as all Americans should. Many who cry about the government’s mandates on vaccines (“My body my choice”), have filched the pro-choice rallying cry as their own while simultaneously supporting overturning Roe v Wade. This is precisely why Senate Republicans played fast and loose with denying then President Obama a vote on his pick to replace the late conservative justice Antonin Scalia with ten months to go before the 2016 election and then with only six weeks to go before the 2020 election, rammed through a replacement for staunch defender of Roe v Wade, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg with a known anti-Roe candidate.

Abortion has always been ancillary political chum, but make no mistake, it is fully engaged in the construct now, and this will be a cut-and-dry political decision for this court. It wants to make it about constitutional law, but since 1973, Roe v Wade has been considered – over hundreds of challenges – to be “settled law”. So, like the whole flip-flop Republican maneuvers to stack this court with changing philosophies, this is now fully about politics.

The abortion debate has moved away from the 1980s into the 90s’ “third-rail” framing into political gold for Republicans, used to great effect in every local and national election for this century thus far. The slow, methodical building of local and appellate judges and the ignoring of the high crimes of the former president to remake the high court is evidence that this is now, by consequence, a fully engaged and shamelessly political issue on the table for Democrats should the expected ruling come down this summer.

According to recent polling, there is anywhere between sixty-five to seventy five percent of Americans who want no part of the government dictating what goes on in a citizen’s body. This is far higher than pro-gun number (also a Republican winner at the voting booth for decades), as nearly seven out of ten Americans want stricter gun laws. I have been consistent in my argument for the First Amendment, and therefore reluctantly support the Second Amendment on the merits of the slightest restructure of those rights as a slippery slope to government control over our constitutional heritage. And this is where I fall on abortion. It is not a moral or political decision for me. It is law and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution to protect our rights to not be invaded by a social, political, or governing institution. I believe every American should support this. But most conservatives are goofy with this issue and just chuck the whole “Don’t Tread on Me” edict. They want their guns and not adhere to health mandates but go nuts on a woman’s uterus. It breaks the hypocrisy charts, and it should not be.

But back to politics, where abortion has been mostly a winner for Republicans. It is not the main reason for hanging onto their shrinking support on most issues at the polls, but it helps. Religious support for Republicans during the Reagan Era shifted this paradigm. One wonders in the wake of this decision if the Biden Era will be seen as a new rallying cry for pro-choice activists once their rights have been so radically impinged.

Conservatives… want their guns and not adhere to health mandates but go nuts on a woman’s uterus. It breaks the hypocrisy charts, and it should not be.

I wholly support expanding the Supreme Court, blowing up the filibuster, and/or passing state laws here in New Jersey to protect women’s reproductive rights. I think it is as important as the Civil Rights issue, and later, for me, marriage equality. These are all dramatic political plays with major risks, but this issue calls for the kind of sweeping actions Republicans pulled in 2016 and 2020 to stack the SCOTUS with anti-Roe judges in the first place.

The Democrats are poised to take a serious beating in 2022. President Biden’s approval numbers are nearly at Trump-level tanking. Note: If there is a presidential poll that puts you in a discussion with Trump, it is time to panic. Inflation is real and it is going to get worse before it gets better. Oil prices are rising, as new Covid variants pop up. This whole new “Parents Rights” stuff that helped secure a Republican gubernatorial victory in a mostly blue state, is happening. There are some months to go, and things swing so quickly in this political climate, it is hard to predict six months out, never mind a year. Half a year ago, Biden had a 53-percent approval rating; the highest for a president since the first months of the Obama presidency thirteen long years ago. It hovers dangerously at 42-percent. Considering mid-term history, the massive redistricting going on right now, and the draconian anti-democratic laws being crafted in the wake of the Big Lie in Republican-run states, Dems are in electoral peril.

But… introduce this disastrous SCOTUS decision, and there is your wild card. Does the left have any chance to exploit abortion rights the way the right exploited wiping them out? Can this be, in essence, the passing of the Affordable Care Act kind of political wind shift that kick-started the right-wing Tea Party movement of 2010 this time galvanizing liberals and independents?

Let’s face reality here; the House is toast for Democrats, where redistricting tips the scales considerably. But the Senate is different, and in the wake of a Roe v Wade gutting, could rile up the independent vote (staunchly pro Roe v Wade) and the vacillating suburban women vote that wilted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but came out in droves to sink Donald Trump last year. It is, after all, the Senate that approves future federal judges; something Republicans have used as a craven cudgel to remake minority ideologies a force. It is political viper Mitch McConnell’s greatest or saddest legacy.

The SCOTUS decision, the final victory for the right’s decades-old fight to essentially end national abortion rights is upon us. It is as political as any decision in my lifetime for the high court, and it may be a powerful political pendulum that could swing the other way

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FUN WITH FACEBOOK

Aquarian Weekly
11/3/21
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
FUN WITH FACEBOOK
Coming to Grips with Humanity One “Like” at a Time
 
Facebook’s rank-and-file employees warned their leaders about the company’s effects on society and politics in the United States. And they say its inability to effectively moderate content has magnified those dangers, both in the U.S. and abroad.      
             – NPR Review of Facebook Papers 10/25
 
The release of the Facebook Papers has underlined a point I have consistently, and most times vulgarly made in this space for twenty-four years now: The problem is never with politics, companies, media outlets, art, etc, it is with us. We’re the problem. We make this stuff. And sometimes with the best intentions. Television was to its inventors a way to communicate and educate the masses, raise their awareness, and challenge the intellect and imagination for generations to come. It ended up with Real Housewives of the Jersey Shore and Tucker Carlson. We also buy, consume, and support this stuff we make. We do this. It is our way. So, who could possibly be surprised that when some college dink creates a way to rate women on the Internet that it would devolve even further into a mud pit of domestic terrorism, human trafficking, and Baal Worship groups?

Apparently one Frances Haugen was surprised. So much so, that the former Facebook product manager disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission a cache of communication and damning data that reveal that (wait for the shocking conclusion to this allegation…) Facebook’s leaders “repeatedly and knowingly put the company’s image and profitability ahead of the public good – even at the risk of violence and other harm.”

This is adorable. Next, we’ll be stunned to learn that oil companies spend billions to lobby and cover-up their pollution of the planet or that the National Football League is nothing more than a gambling delivery system.

You know who runs oil companies and the NFL? Us. You know who uses oil/gas to run our vehicles and heat our homes and incessantly watch the promotion of violence, stupidity and brain damage? Us. We don’t care about the planet or the dumbing of our culture, any more than we care if our neighbor dies of Covid. God forbid they might be gay or socialist or religious or want to get an abortion. Then we care. A lot. An annoying lot. But companies? They don’t give a shit about anything but “profitability.” Even “image” is a crapshoot. It’s actually refreshing when someone doesn’t try to sell, say, fascism as some kind of self-help, security measure. This was always the difference between someone like say Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, although to be fair to Reagan he wasn’t a psychotic terrorist, but still, I like my fascists to be up front about it. Trump is at least that.

But, as usual, I digress.

Also, if I may, this Haugen person was a product manager – and what the fuck does a product manager do at an internet social media site? – not some poor sucker that worked in the mail room. When she joined this rancid outfit, Haugen was presumably under the delusion that it was there to nurture babies and keep kittens safe. The woman is thirty-eight years-old (twenty-one when Facebook was launched) and attended fucking Harvard! Didn’t she read the dozens of books painting its founder Mark Zuckerberg as an angry misogynist and raging sociopath? Assuming she’s not a reader (do you have to read to get through Harvard?) there was even a popular film about the whole thing that presents Zuckerberg as all of the above, in addition to a narcissistic, exploitive, backstabbing, lying piece of steaming shit. So, um… Haugen went to work there anyway. Then, I guess, she suddenly found Jesus?

Our nature does not lean towards our “better angels’ it leans towards Facebook.

But enough about Haugen. I am sure she is trying to save her soul by whistleblowing, and for entertainment purposes, we thank her. But let’s get to the Facebook Papers, which I assume submits that somehow Facebook has an obligation to keep lunatics from being lunatics or idiots from believing idiotic shit, or whatever it is alleging. Spoiler alert, Facebook was invented and implemented for exactly these things. It is a platform for humans to do what humans do. It is in a way a microcosm of America, which has always stood as the Great Human Experiment. Give people the rights and freedoms to hang themselves or as Lincoln surmised choose to express “the better angles of our nature” and things don’t go so well. I love Abraham Lincoln. He was by far our greatest president and the true moral compass for a nation so badly damaged by “our nature” that he wiped out half the nation and gave his life for the effort. But in this case Honest Abe was wrong. Our nature does not lean towards our “better angels’ it leans towards Facebook.

We could have used Facebook to come together as a global village and cease hunger and genocide, instead we used it to perpetuate something called Q-Anon, which is a middle-school version of Dianetics, if L. Ron Hubbard’s parents procreated with sub-mental cousins.

The first big revelation in the Facebook Papers is that its algorithms do not properly translate globally, leading to misinformation and hate-speech, which hardly ever transpires here in our English-speaking nation (Cue laugh track). You know what else doesn’t translate globally? Porn and Trumpism. Neither gives a shit, and if you consider this for a hot minute, why should Facebook? You think Chiquita Banana corporation carefully considered the oppression of the Cuban people? How about Apple? Do they lose sleep over eight year-old Chinese girls putting their IPhones together in poorly ventilated sweat shops for twelve hours a day? I am sure most of us who have these phones don’t give it another thought. But Facebook needs to care?

After the January 6 attempted bloody coup against our government and the blatant attack on the core of our democratic system perpetuated by the then sitting president of the United States and backed by a large majority of one of the two major parties in this country, it was revealed that much of the effort was planned on Facebook. This must have also been astonishing, since most of the people who use Facebook now are middle-aged white angry people. But, alas, the network only labeled these activities “harmful” but “non-violating.” Which makes sense, because unlike those who actually worked in congress and helped plan the overthrow of the government on behalf of a crybaby, Facebook does not and should not be the arbitrator of political decorum or possible sedition. Those who argue that Twitter has acted more responsibly, then good for Twitter. While it was their decision to kick off domestic terrorists, this is a business model for Facebook. Hell, someone beyond OAN has to profit from this.

Now, the revelation of human trafficking of Filipino maids is a different story. If this brings Facebook to its knees, then so be it. That ain’t cool, because unlike anything stated above, or the nifty discussions on whether the “Like” button is a form of bullying, that activity is illegal – but again, is only a glimpse into what depths human nature can go when it has a chance to exploit, profit or subjugate.

Ahh, Facebook. It is our mirror. We see ourselves and we don’t like it, so we blame the glass. This is what we do, but then we’d only have ourselves left to shout at, and what fun is that? That would be, to use the visual parlance of the platform, a thumbs down.

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NEW JERSEY CHOICE FOR GOVERNOR IS SIMPLE

Aquarian Weekly
10/27/21
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
NEW JERSEY CHOICE FOR GOVERNOR IS SIMPLE
Treason, Banning Abortion, Lean on Voting Rights, and Attack on LGBTQ or Not
 
New Jersey is not Texas or Alabama, or God forbid Florida. We do not elect religious loons or social puritans. We occasionally get sucked into cults of personality, like with the tough-talking poser Chris Christie, who sold us a guy-next door boondoggle and ended up a spluttering sewage pump. He was a portly fucktard and a total bust as governor. Even a knuckle-dragging celebrity whore like Donald Trump routinely ignored him. This is the free-thinking state. Our stronghold against the national fervor to turn the concept of democracy into a propagandized circus freakshow for hack lawyers, Internet goons and land rapists. We have open debates on things like corruption here. We know who our criminals are and if we choose to elect them on merit, fine. But eventually we merrily expunge fascists when they reveal themselves. I helped get one of those out of my district, so I know. And this is why there is no other choice but to vote for Governor Phil Murphy for a second term.

It is odd to cite “the lesser of two evils” in this case. Murphy has actually been a solid governor. His leadership during the Covid crisis received less press than the shamed and sacked former governor of New York, whose name escapes me at the moment. The other guy, a shameless publicity hound and ego pimp, ultimately did more harm than good. There was a steady hand in this government during the depths of the pandemic of 2020 and beyond. No grandstanding. No panic. No shifting agenda. And, of course, there is the legalization of marijuana, the only reason I touted Murphy’s first run for the seat four years ago. He delivered. And soon we shall see its results on state income, as we have already seen a welcomed plummet in ridiculous drug arrests. Murphy deserves another term.

But this is less a full-throated endorsement for the Democratic candidate as it is a warning to New Jersey voters about Republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli. The latter is a dangerous gamble with the state’s stand on women’s reproductive rights, a fortification of democratic parameters like voter protection, security for the LGBTQ community in the workplace, and the above-cited measured approach to the Covid crisis.

Firstly, make no mistake New Jersians; Roe v Wade is on life support nationally. Once this radical right-wing Supreme Court gets ahold of the phalanx of abortion cases coming this year, the matter will be thrown to the states. Nearly seventy percent of N.J. voters support Governor Murphy’s “Reproductive Freedom Act,” which expands the medical care for women and acts as a stronghold against the inevitable attack on women’s fundamental control over their bodies from federal government interference. A Don’t Tread on Me concept that has escaped those who wave that particular flag. Don’t get me started on the misuse of symbolic laundry. I have fought on that hill too many times to recall.

Nonetheless, women’s rights are in serious peril in the wake of a Ciattarelli administration. A source inside the campaign was quite open with me about the candidate’s Right to Life stance – a politically correct phrase for “Open Your Legs and Let the Statehouse In.” It is the most crucial issue facing the state, especially, again, with the imminent striking down of Roe v Wade in the Supreme Court.
  

A vote for Jack Ciattarelli means a total overhaul in our voting system.

The source also confirmed that although Ciattarelli has tried to distance himself from the treason-wing of his party, he not only attended a Stop the Steal event this past year, later claiming ignorance of the thing, which should make you stop for a moment and consider his mental faculties, but he also spoke at a Pro-Trump rally, boasting a roll back in the state’s current LGBTQ curriculum and pledging to wipe out mask mandates for schools. So, in a way, he is a Right to Life candidate who is okay with killing kids already out of the womb. This is a problem for me. I have one of those “out of the womb” kids. I like having her around. And Jack Ciattarelli is not allowing the state government to endanger her, so he can appeal to the zombies at OAN.
  

And make no mistake, a vote for Jack Ciattarelli means a total overhaul in our voting system; pulling polling stations out of Black neighborhoods and implementing all these useless and anti-democratic, anti-voting laws the other fascists are signing into law in Republican-controlled states across the fruited plain. Do you want partisan flunkies overturning your vote to give an election to the loser? That’s a thing right now. States handing over the power for government employees to blithely overturn the will of the people. And Jack Ciattarelli supports this. Loudly. Boldly.

Ciattarelli’s act may play well in goober states. But here his policies and beliefs are sadly atavistic, so he has predictably leaned heavy these past weeks on the Lower Taxes bullshit. Let me ask you, because I know the answer, I’ve been living in this state since late 2001; did your taxes go down over the two Chris Christie terms? No. They did not. So, if you are going to toss out democracy, habeas corpus rights, the protection of the socially persecuted, and put your kids in danger, shouldn’t you at least pay a little less money to the state? But you won’t. Not a dime. In fact, like with Christie, your taxes will go up. And they will continue to go up if this puritanical crackpot gets in office and turns the thing into the latest Republican shit-show.
 

And that is the nut, isn’t it? As my friend Doc Buzz once mused so presciently about all-things politics; Who’s kidding who? Ciattarelli is a Republican. And until further notice, this is the party of Trump. And Trump is a treasonous criminal, who should have been dragged from that podium on January 6 and tried on sedition charges instead of ending up shuffling his fat carcass around Mar-a-Lago speed-injecting acetaminophen and pissing on women dressed like his mother.
 

New Jersey is not Mar-a-Lago. There is a scrouge across this land and we need a defense against dangerous idiocy.

Vote Murphy.

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ALL EYES ON THE COMMONWEALTH

Aquarian Weekly
10/20/21
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
ALL EYES ON THE COMMONWEALTH
The Governor’s Race May Predict a 2022 Mid-Term Outcome      
 
In two weeks, the national temperature of the voting public will be taken again. The last one, the doomed recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, in September, did not end well for Republicans. But this was before the approval-ratings nosedive for President Joe Biden, who has appeared overwhelmed and mostly impotent in the face of several crisis from Afghanistan to the border to Covid-19 surges to inflation, which has led to a national malaise and as a result the hemorrhaging of the Independent vote. Virginia is not only a “purple” state but has leaned solidly in the Democrats’ column since 2012 – an unprecedented thirteen-cycle winning streak in a highly competitive state. While stressing again, as in California last month, most politics is local, a governor’s race in a key battleground state like Virginia is a fair to crucial bellwether on how badly things could go for Democrats in the 2022 mid-terms.

Beyond national prognostications – a fun exercise for political junkies like yours truly – reside the players. The two candidates acutely represent both parties. Former Governor of Virginia and current Democratic candidate to regain that title, Terry McAuliffe is a pre-Obama lifer, mostly centrist and connected to the national political machine. He has the full backing of the national party, which means his president Joe Biden. His opponent, Glenn Allen Youngkin, is a former CEO of the $260 billion global investment Carlyle Group, loudly endorsed by former failed businessman and recent ignominious loser of the 2020 presidential race, Donald J. Trump.

On the ground, Virginia is not immune to the national issues facing a mostly post-Covid United States. Economic strains including jobs, vaccine mandates, the undermining of democratic ideals and the state of the current presidential administration is on the table for Virginia voters.

So, the state (a bellwether of national politics), the parties (locked in a death-match of reality and conspiracy) and the candidates (reflections of this ongoing narrative) are all entwined in this one. It is why we have these elections. It is why we vote. And when it is done, we accept the outcome as the will of the people and not some lopsided agenda-fueled tyrannical overthrow of the system based on ego-addled lies. But that is for many future columns to come. Virginia is the order of the week.

Virginia – seemingly always at the center of the national fervor and our historical tipping point.

For the record, McAuliffe is a loathsome hack. He toiled for both Clintons in wins and losses and ran the party for a spate in the early aughts. He represents wheel-and-deal party politics and is roundly dismissed by most politicos as something of a relic. Youngkin is a Republican, which now unfortunately represents anti-American domestic terrorism. He claims to be against the brutal violence perpetuated during the dark hours of January 6 at our Capitol and is trying to distance himself from recent rallies for his campaign hosted by petulant thug Steve Bannon, who is soon to go to jail for contempt of congress in his role inciting the attempted overthrow of the 2020 election results in a bloody coup. At a recent pro-Youngkin rally, participants pledged allegiance to a flag used on January 6, which unfortunately for the candidate reminds voters of what it means to back anyone on a Republican ticket now.

But the Democrats have had a bad sixty or so days. The barely Democrat-controlled congress is in a stalemate on how much more we can jack up the deficit, duly bloated in record numbers by the outgoing Republican-led congress for four years of drunken spending. Both parties fight against the power of the other to spend our money and now it is the progressives v the moderates on what should have been a slam-dunk effort to expand infrastructure spending eight years ago. As mentioned, Biden’s national numbers (52-percent disapproval in Virginia as a result) are in a sinkhole and McAuliffe can no better hide from this than Youngkin can wipe the stain of Trumpism (eleven months of claiming the 2020 election was a fraud with zero evidence) from his candidacy.

Ever more the reason why the Commonwealth of Virginia, once the most powerful force in the nascent days of the republic, birthplace of Thomas Jefferson, the father of modern democracy and the former capital of the Confederacy, is back at the center of our national soul. The very history of America plays out on its bloody ground. And in two weeks it shall again.

As of this writing, McAuliffe barely leads Youngkin by three points, well within the margin of error. Biden easily carried Virginia by ten points only eleven months ago. Youngkin, a very wealthy CEO, has outspent his opponent, exposing his weakness on crime and economics in a phalanx of attack adds. McAuliffe is clinging to two key popular issues: The state favors vaccine mandates for businesses (fifty-four percent) and keeping Roe V. Wade legal polls at sixty percent. Recent abortion-restriction laws in Texas have alerted voters to the reality of this issue most of all. What a shocker. In a close race, the Republican is all about crime and the Democrat is all about reproductive rights.

As far as the numbers guys are concerned, this one is hard to prognosticate. Beyond the national climate or local issues, there is recent history in polling. According to the Five Thirty Eight estimates, a model for higher turnout has McAuliffe leading Youngkin by eight points instead of three points. This is similar to the 2017 race between Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam, in which the latter trailed by the same three points going into the election but ended up losing by a solid nine points. The problem with this, the celebrated prediction group notes, is that in 2017 there was an unpopular Republican president. Now that particular shoe is on the other foot.

The final word on this election, as in most close elections, is Independents. Right now, Youngkin leads McAuliffie by nine points there. That is the difference between Biden carrying Virginia last year and the Democratic candidate coughing it up in two weeks. Whether this tells us how 2022 will play out and the prospects for a Republican wave or a more tempered Democratic defeat is dubious. But less so when considering Virginia – seemingly always at the center of the national fervor and our historical tipping point.
 

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CALIFORNIA SCHEMING

Aquarian Weekly
9/15/21
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
CALIFORNIA SCHEMING
What the Golden State Recall Election Tells Us About National Politics 
 
 
Six weeks ago, California Governor Gavin Newsom was in trouble. The recall election slated for 9/14 looked to be hanging in the balance. When a recall was first broached last year after a backlash resulting from his flouting his own mask mandate and other stressing economic issues facing his state, the idea of ousting him before the end of his term was about 50-50. But there was a serious swell rising against the beleaguered Democrat. Since, there have been alternative Republican candidates entering “the race”. Then the numbers shifted dramatically. The frontrunner, Larry Elder is the biggest culprit, if Republican strategists on the ground are to be believed. Elder’s presence has morphed a competitive contest into a rather banal one.

Elder is another of these goofy “conservative” talk show hosts. Before the age of Trump this used to mean something. Now, it is a place for abject lunacy. His candidacy in a wildly Democratic state centers mostly around name recognition, the usual twenty-nine to thirty-eight percent far-right militant radical vote, and for window dressing, being African American does not hurt. For a while that kind of thing held some sway, especially when he received a rousing endorsement from Trump himself. It was enough to gain a plurality among the right. But then a funny thing happened on the way to the governor’s seat; Elder started appealing to the body politic. It was then when things went rapidly south.

And I need to stress rapidly.

Californians, it turns out, are not so keen on someone who says before his first cup of tea upon being sworn in he would eliminate the mask mandates put in place by the current administration, and then make it more difficult to fully vaccinate the state. This stuff is gold on the radio, where resentment, fear and outlandish blather helps sell beer. On the campaign trail, however, it is poison. In the past two weeks the nearly 50-50 split to kick Newsom to the curb has gone the other way almost twenty percent. Now nearly seven out of ten in the state support keeping the governor right where he is. Twenty percent did not shift by the selling of a new Newsom, but the very possibility of a crazy Elder.

What California tells us, if anything, is that although a chief executive may not be the popular choice, his opponent matters.

Now, I know that contextualizing a state or any local race into a national prognostication is foolhardy at best and quite frankly fucking insane at its core, but for the purposes of fun, let’s take what was happening to an obviously vulnerable sitting executive and extrapolate his story of seeming defeat to an unlikely reprieve on the national scene.

While Newsome’s governorship was being taken off life support, the president of the United States has been in a significant tailspin. Not since George W. Bush, the last president to enjoy a crossover appeal and rejection, has a president suffered the kind of nosedive approval ratings as Joe Biden in the past three weeks. As broached in the space recently, his steady fifty-three percent approvals since inauguration in January has sunk him to forty-five percent. Not once in those weeks has there been a respite. The numbers dive, slowly, steadily.

The botched and badly communicated exit from Afghanistan and the return of the Covid restrictions, rising hospitalizations and deaths being the two big reasons. There has always been a sense that Biden is not completely compos mentis, and the former did not help this assessment. The Covid thing is beyond his control. The federal government can only do so much. If states like Florida, Texas, and most of the South wish to force schools to not mask children and basically ignore the Delta variant explosion, then so be it. But among independent voters, these issues have led to a softening and then a mass exodus.

This is a crisis point for Biden. Independents decide close elections. And without an opponent, and if things were to be settled this November instead of three years from now, he would be very beatable.

Which brings me back to California. There is still a fervor to want change at the top, and Newsome’s approval numbers may not be overwhelming (he is at Biden’s former fifty-three percent) but once Larry Elder took his radio schtick into actual politics, it went the other way. If a Trumpian candidate is pummeled in California now, one wonders if Joe Biden might consider trolling Donald Trump to announce his candidacy. Because there is a very strong possibility that if a sane, actual conservative runs in 2024, the president is in deep shit.

Of course, Biden has three years, not three months. But what California tells us, if anything, is that although a chief executive may not be the popular choice, his opponent matters. Not sure there is (the November election is less than a year ago) the stomach for another Trump run or for another Trumpian candidate. And since Elder has already started predictably claiming election fraud a week out, the fallout might also be equally as ugly.

Let’s see if the Elder vote shows up to make this competitive. But if he loses, and if he loses by ten points, his presence in the race clearly forced the electorate to choose between incompetence and bat shit crazy dangerous.  

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WOMEN IN BONDAGE

Aquarian Weekly
9/8/21
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
WOMEN IN BONDAGE
Supreme Court Ignores Unconstitutional Bans on Abortion in Texas, Thus Enslaving Women’s Bodies at the Behest of the State
    
 
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
– Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
 
 
The moment former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg stopped breathing the rights of women were put on life support. This overwhelming conservative court is now poised to strike down the forty-eight year-old Roe v Wade decision that we were told (like we were told the twenty-year Afghanistan War would be swift) was “decided law.” It is not. It never was. Until an amendment exists, (but it kind of exists, doesn’t it? – more on that in a couple of paragraphs), there is no such thing as “decided law.” They are likely coming for marriage equality as well. If the slow gutting of the Civil Rights Act is any indication, there is some radical judicial shenanigans to come.

But this is not a column about the vagaries of political justices or religious fanatics or the age-old arguments about fetal rights or heartbeats. This is about one thing, and has always been about that thing: Can a democratically constructed government based on a human’s right to live free in a nation built on the concept of law dictate what happens inside the body of its citizens?

The answer to that question must always be no. The government should not demand you remove your appendix or change your sexual organs. There are anti-choice, pro-lifers who bitch about the strong suggestion they receive a vaccine to save their lives and the lives of other fellow citizens, many of them family and friends. Not a mandate. A Suggestion. Yet, they wholly support the government dictating what goes on inside their bodies.

Oh, no, wait a minute, not everyone’s bodies. Women’s bodies. Just women. So, um, it is prejudicial on top of the other life and liberty stuff. Oh, I get it. Sure. And so, the end of Roe v Wade, a correct legal decision based on the basic principles of liberty, would mean that there can come a day when the government could force a woman to terminate a pregnancy. Oops. Yes. It would. Why wouldn’t it? Roe v Wade protects the systemic control over the bodies of more than half our citizenry. It protects women. Women are citizens. Thus, striking it down makes women’s bodies slaves to the state. This issue should be argued on the merits of the Thirteenth Amendment.

Okay, so maybe the Thirteenth Amendment is going too far – not sure it is – but there is always the Fourteenth Amendment, which grants the rights of citizens (women, the whole of women, including the uterus) over draconian laws instituted by lunatics. Of course, that amendment, passed in 1868, only granted these rights to men. It is specifically in the wording. Men only. But then the Nineteenth Amendment, passed in 1919, supersedes it. Allowing not only women to vote but making them equal in the eyes of laws previously passed for men. So, now we’re up to three amendments. How many do we need to grant equal rights to women? Apparently more, as in the 1970s there was the proposition – stymied, of course – for an Equal Rights Amendment. Because maybe four fucking amendments might get women where they need to be.

Which brings us back to this: My daughter. Your daughter. Our daughters. Slaves to the state. None of them would have control over what happens inside them, now that Texas flouts the constitution, as they do, and many states do now with voting rights, and pushes this issue to its logical end – enslaving women. All of these things to be dictated by government over citizens. Unconstitutional. Period.

Women have taken your shit for as long as there has been anything known as society…

This has not been a good year for the constitution or democracy. It starts with a president trying overturn a free and fair election and become a dictator, then anarchists attacking the state capitol, and now the Supreme Court paving the way to enslave women’s body as the behest of the state.

Yeah, and we fear the Taliban halfway across the globe. No point. It’s here. And now. Next up, burkas. 

I shan’t get into the spectacular level of hypocrisy in the conservative, anti-government, Don’t Tread on Me clan that demand that women cash in their uterus. It is an appalling lack of ideological self-awareness, or really awareness or rationality. It is, in fact, the very definition of irrational, like most of the arguments to allow the government to take control of women. Government control. Over the body of a citizen of the United States. This is where we are heading.

And we need to get our heads around that. It is coming. Both of Donald Trump’s SCOTUS appointees are intractably anti Roe v Wade in previous rulings, comportment and commentary. We’ve already covered this. That particular ship has left the dock a while ago. It is a done deal. Its time is limited. And for those who have fought on the front lines against it for decades, your time has come. Good for you. But that does not mean it isn’t draconian and wrong and has no place in a society built on the concept that we are all free. Not women. Not for long.

Women have taken your shit for as long as there has been anything known as society – long before anyone considered freedom or that women were not property. Women. Property. To marry off and auction off and stigmatize and marginalize and objectify and demean and corner and make less-than. They’ve been on the butt end of religion and law and social mores and bigotry. But since 1973, when a woman couldn’t own a credit card or be a doctor or get a loan, they had at the very least, control of their bodies. And this is our ticking time bomb now. And this non-ruling ruling by the highest court in the land means, for now, there isn’t a fucking thing that can be done about it.

But right now, not tomorrow or next week or some time when we get our shit together, it is time to begin working out a plan to up-end anti-choice candidates for any office. It should be the democratic litmus test of all litmus tests. It used to be. But we got soft. The anti-choice crowd were hoping we would sleep on it. And we did. They made it their crusade. And now they are reaping the benefits. But the only way to protect the rights of women – even the unknowing women who support the pro-life movement at the peril of their own rights – is to upend this and make it our moral fight. Stop playing defense and get on offense to make it a law and maybe even an amendment, or at least evoke the rights granted by three amendments and the existence of a ratified constitution that the systemic control of any citizen is illegal and immoral. 

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AFGHANISTAN – THE BIG FAIL

Aquarian Weekly
8/25/21

Reality Check

James Campion


AFGHANISTAN – THE BIG FAIL

Success has many fathers; failure is an orphan.
– Italian proverb

Man, I have written a whole lot about Afghanistan over two decades. Not as much as Iraq, but a lot. It has been a long, strange trip, over three presidencies, two of which claimed some sort of victory there and all three that dangled withdrawal. This past week or so the announced finality and exit of American troops from the region after the nation’s longest war did not go well. The government that we spent two decades building and the military that we spent two decades training, folded in a week to the Taliban that we were sold were defeated fifteen years earlier. The United States streak of losing military actions and de-facto wars since 1945 continues. This is an epic fail for the U.S. And despite the above quote, it has a shit-ton of fathers.

This could have been predicted in 2001, when President George W. Bush knee-jerked into what we all thought – and were told – was a brief military operation to dismantle the wheels of terrorism that led to 9/11, the first in a series of spectacular lies that would take forty columns to review. The Soviet Union had a similar run in the Afghanistan in the 1980s that ran the gamut from swift invasion, troubled occupation, frustrated abandonment, and a nation completely sunk into chaos. Their final report on conditions on the ground in 1989 were as follows: “Clearly visible is the growth of [Afghan] self-sufficiency, self-confidence, ability to evaluate the situation correctly … which they lacked during our military presence in Afghanistan.”

Oops.

Does this skewed overview of the situation sound familiar?

Which brings us back to our own botched calculation over thirty years later.

Despite the above’s recent history readily available to all involved – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and the usual suspects – five years into the “quick military operation,” Bush claimed victory, as he did three years earlier in the notorious “Mission Accomplished” speech about Iraq (that war is still going on, I think? Maybe? Sort of.), stating “We have defeated the Taliban and freed the nation.” Then he sent more troops in and went away, making way for Barack Obama. That didn’t go particularly well either, despite the obvious opposition to the campaign by the incoming commander-in-chief.

After running for office on ending “endless wars” and hoping to bring what was then an already “too long” fiasco in Afghanistan, Obama added 30,000 troops to the fray within months of being elected, claiming an eighteen-month surge to bring the war to a conclusion. This, as you might ascertain, did not occur. So, the last guy ran on absolutely ending “endless wars.” Donald Trump promptly told the nation that Bush and his cronies were war mongers, the generals were idiots, and he alone could fix it. Of course, like everything that came from Trump, this was total bullshit. The former draft-dodger told the press in 2017 after becoming president that “We have wasted too much blood and treasure on Afghanistan” and blustered about pulling out at least a dozen times in his four years. The events of this week prove that never happened on his watch.

This war… was about vengeance for 9/11 and to shroud our dependence on foreign oil in a patriotic security mission.

Then we have Joe Biden, who as senator, watched our secret war to arm the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to help facilitate the Soviet boondoggle, then abandon our allies, leading to the rise of al Qaeda, and the emergence in the 1990s of Osama bin Laden, and, well, you know the deal. Biden was even in the room as Obama’s vice president when word came that bin Laden had been killed way back in May of 2011. Everyone thought, well, maybe, now we can pull out of this mess after ten years. Nah. Let’s do ten more.

Biden, or someone after him, at some point, was going to have to take the L for this. How long are we supposed to police and build and manage a foreign government and prop up its military? This is not rhetorical. I mean to ask this: How long? Thirty years? Forty? Forever? This thing had to end. Afghanistan is not Syria or even Iraq – this was not an ongoing skirmish. This was a finger-in-the-damn proposition. The U.S. Army is not a police unit. It is not a building contractor operation. It is there to invade and break shit, kill people, and get the fuck out. Afghanistan was something else, and that something else, like all things, had to end. The defeat in Afghanistan was inevitable. Okay, you think defeat is too hard, you need the edges smoothed, then how about an Incomplete? Whatever the semantics, it was as immediate as it was predictable. The entire farce of the War on Terror – a never-ending money pit of violence, lies and fuck-ups – was set up for bad endings. Think of all of this like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. You just know… right?

This does not excuse the images of people hanging off airplanes and women and children running for their lives and the predictable anti-American chanting and effigy burning. These are not good looks for any president. Ask Jimmy Carter. Biden is in charge now, not Bush or Obama or Trump. He wanted the gig. He’s a big boy (unlike the last cry baby) and he has taken the shit storm like a man. And he should. His historically steady approval ratings have sunk five points to under fifty percent for the first time in his first eight months on the job, and while most of it is related to the backlash over the Delta variant and its probable negative effects on an economy that has already dipped its toes into the early stages of inflation, the swiftness of Afghanistan’s fall into the hands of an enemy we were told was bested fifteen long years is a tough pill to swallow for Americans.

But lest we forget, this war was never about protecting women’s rights or nation building or whatever Judea-Christian falderal you hear, it was about vengeance for 9/11 and to shroud our dependence on foreign oil in a patriotic security mission. It was all bullshit. It is always bullshit when it comes to war, and it had to end, badly or otherwise.

Here’s the only silver lining, and it is at best a long shot. I would think, moreover I would hope we take measured, reasoned, and careful consideration before going the war route in the future. George H. W. Bush promised “no more Viet Nams” in his Kuwait show that gave a generation the false hope we had learned from our mistakes there and in Korea a decade earlier. But we clearly did not. And if twenty years of wasted human life, abject destruction, and trillions of dollars spent in Afghanistan just to see the images of the last week isn’t enough a lesson, then we, and anyone we deign to assist in the future, deserve to be fucked.

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GOVERNORS BAWL

Aquarian Weekly
8/11/21

Reality Check

James Campion

GOVERNORS BAWL


To say the very least, this has been a strange summer for the governors of four of our biggest states: California, Florida, New York and Texas. To say the most, it has been a friggin’ shit show.

Two Democrats.

Two Republicans.

Half of this notorious quartet is mired in an alarming spike in the new Covid variant, Delta, while continuing to mostly ignore its impact on their citizens and play politics with their constituents’ lives. One barely hangs on beneath a torrent of several sexual misconduct allegations that this week came to boiling point after the state’s attorney general announced the findings of an investigation previously touted by the accused as his salvation. And one still faces a recall election this fall after his alleged failures in handling a growing housing crisis, rising homeless numbers, a distressing crime rate and climate change that’s fueled water and electricity woes – not to mention failing to curtail the virus outbreak last year, seemingly fiddling while L.A. burned, so to speak.

A couple of these gentlemen entertain aspirations for the White House, which means, if the last guy was any indication, they are well on their way. Donald Trump also monumentally fucked up a response to Covid and bragged about his assaulting women, and he got to be president. Never mind his continued lie about having the 2020 election stolen from him, which caused a violent breech on the Capitol, killing now… six officers, is it? Yes, Blue Lives Matter, except if you are protecting a federal building against heavily armed middle-aged white right-wing extremists. Then fuck it.

But I digress.

Let’s go alphabetically by state.

California is an economically savaged state with environmental issues from wildfires to floods to smog and pollution – make no mistake, if the northern part of the state goes bye-bye (the most beautiful stretch of land on this continent) then we may well all pack it in. But mostly, for now, it has a serious Covid issue. Although fifty-three percent of California residents are fully vaccinated, way better than most states, it has not been enough to prevent Delta from spreading. To make matters worse, beleaguered Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom was spotted late last year flouting his own mandates, eating at the ritzy French Laundry restaurant, maskless.

In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is facing increased pressure from inside and outside his party to take any action to address the state’s surging number of cases and hospitalizations from the coronavirus. He responded by signing an executive order last week banning cities and counties from mandating their kids wear masks in school. And as he did last year during the height of the pandemic, DeSantis has refused to heed CDC guidelines or even acknowledge any measure of mask mandates for businesses, leading to what is now the state’s worst Covid infection numbers, even when considering 2020, and, moreover, according to the Miami Herald, an unprecedented explosion of children being admitted to pediatric hospitals due to Covid. Only Texas has reported a higher spike in child patients, but we’ll get to that horror show shortly.

And while lives are not in the balance and the economic woes of New York, especially NYC, have been recently lessoned, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, once the darling of his party and the nation due to his handling of the pandemic for most of 2020, is being squeezed by Democrats and Republicans alike to resign his office following the results of an investigation conducted by the state’s attorney general that reported that he had sexually harassed eleven women and created a general “hostile” work environment for women. Not surprisingly, due to the new climate of boys will be boys set forth by “Grab ‘Em By the Pussy” Trump, Cuomo is digging in, using The Donald’s playbook of acting victimized by Cancel Culture and a politically motivated witch hunt. Problem for Cuomo is the Democratic Party kind of frowns on this behavior instead of celebrates it as some kind of dying breed of white male dominance. Impeachment is now on the table.

Four huge states. Large populations. Bad vibes. Crime. Ineffectual governance. Political survival.

And last, but certainly not least, is the sad tale of Texas and its governor, Greg Abbott. Like DeSantis, taking cues from failed real estate criminals rather than scientists and doctors, Abbott resists any changes in the state’s policies toward Covid-19 even as the Delta variant spreads at the worst rate in the country. Cases are up more than two-hundred percent in Texas over the past two weeks. On the surface that seems bad. Looking deeper, it is morally bankrupt systemic malfeasance. In the face of all this, Abbott doubled down on his do-nothing strategy this week, bringing to mind the incredibly ineffectual Herbert Hoover laissez-faire non-planning that worked so well to exacerbate the Great Depression. To put it mildly, the utterly silly apathetic governance applied here is gutting the state’s morale on beating back the disease enough to reduce confidence in both the private sector and its government. In other words, if the governor has no ideas beyond “Screw it”, then the only way to describe his office is useless.

Four huge states. Large populations. Bad vibes. Crime. Ineffectual governance. Political survival.

It’s going to be a fun summer.

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SUDDEN REPUBLICAN ABOUT-FACE ON VACCINES EXPLAINED

Aquarian Weekly
7/28/21

Reality Check

James Campion

SUDDEN REPUBLICAN ABOUT-FACE ON VACCINES EXPLAINED


After a year of claiming the Covid-19 pandemic was an orchestrated fraud on the American people, overrated, a weird flu that will disappear in a few weeks, a way for the federal government to strip its citizenry of its rights, and the ensuing vaccines being deadly tools to control our brains, the voices of the Republican Party have suddenly reversed course. This past week staunch detractors of the vaccine roll-out, cravenly fabricated for political purposes, have begun to quite vigorously implore that their loyal sheep march in a different direction. What the hell just happened?

Firstly, it should be pointed out that most Republican governors, members of congress, cable newsies and other voices from the right never truly believed this anti-vaccine, pandemic-denying bullshit. Most of these people hunkered down in their homes, slathered on the hand sanitizer, and masked up. These same people were the first in line to get vaccinated. There has been a wonderful line of Internet backlash against colossal idiot, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who a year ago told the world that once Joe Biden won the election, there would be no more pandemic. “He doesn’t even have to be sworn in,” Cruz proclaimed. “It will suddenly disappear.” Cruz, for the record, is vaccinated. His family, at least the ones who didn’t conspire to kill JFK, is vaccinated. Yet, he continues to take to the floor and rail against all of it. He is a phony. It is a political show to secure the former lunatic president’s slack-jawed base. No one believes any of it.

This shameless circus of hypocrisy brings us to the second issue: The Delta variant.

In the past few months, a second wave of a more aggressively infectious Covid virus has spread throughout the U.S. Depending on your source, ninety-eight to ninety-nine percent of those who are infected (and the numbers are rising every day) are un-vaccinated. The three worst states are Cruz’s Texas, run by Republicans, Missouri, run by Republicans, and Florida, run by one of the most defiant anti-vaccine psychos, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. One of the leading opponents of shutting down his state to curtail the spread of Covid last year, Florida had dips and spikes in the infected and the fallen like no other state. Now Florida finds itself at the epicenter of this new outbreak (45,000 new cases, 10,459 in June). There is widespread panic, especially among the elderly, a fair portion of the state’s population. But if last year’s ignoring of thousands of deaths is any indication, DeSantis doesn’t give a shit about old people dying. DeSantis cares about Republican voters dying.

It is bad politics to kill your voter base.

Nearly seven out of ten Republicans refuse to be vaccinated. These are mostly the voter base of the party – white and uneducated, or what is left of this cult. Do the math. If ninety-nine percent of the unvaccinated are getting infected by the new variant and seventy percent of these victims are Republicans, and you run a state that routinely has a one to three percent victory margin, then the governor cannot withstand losing votes to the Grim Reaper.    

Here is DeSantis two days before I’m writing this: “If you look at the people that are being admitted to hospitals, over ninety-five percent of them are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all. These vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality. Telling them that the vaccines don’t work, I think that’s the worst message you can send to people at this time because I think that the data has been really, really good in terms of preserving people.”

Can a columnist write WTF?

I think I just did.

Getting back to Texas, according to a recent Texas Tribune report, the state has endured nearly nine thousand Covid deaths since February. All but forty-three were unvaccinated people. Not sure what nearly one hundred percent of eighty-five hundred people comes to, but as far as I can tell that is a lot of dead Republicans.

The other day, my pal, proud Republican and fierce anti-Trump voice, S.E. Cupp took to CNN airwaves to make this very case. “Republican politicians and right-wing radio and TV voices are literally killing their own voters,” she said. And for a shrinking party who has chosen to run amok all over voter and democratic rights to remain relevant, this is not a winning strategy. Within hours of Cupp’s declaration. FOX News nighttime rodeo clown Sean Hannity implored his listeners for the first time since the pandemic hit in early 2020 to take it seriously and get vaccinated. A lapdog shill for Donald Trump for four years and the purveyor of the worst conspiracy propaganda around, with the notable exception of comedian Tucker Carlson, (also vaccinated), who continues to rail against vaccines nightly, Hannity can nonetheless see the writing on the wall.

It is bad politics to kill your voter base. If you are going to make up stories about Trump winning the previous election, the one he was smoked in, to keep the thing breathing, why put a pillow over its face?

If this all sounds the bottom of the barrel being scraped, you know your sounds. But I add, again, for those with political aspiration. Keep those in your camp breathing. Helps come election day.

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