THE MEXICAN FLIP OFF

Aquarian Weekly
6/19/19

Reality Check

James Campion


THE MEXICAN FLIP OFF
How Mexico Keeps Embarrassing Donald Trump and Why He Allows It

Our Game Show President’s latest fuck up brings his old political dominatrix back for more punishment when he threatened to impose tariffs on another nation that has a stranglehold on our manufacturing infrastructure to stem the tide of weird paranoias in his head. This makes no sense to anyone with a modicum of understanding about treaties and international trade, and certainly for every member of the U.S Congress, including even those suddenly appalled Republicans who normally kiss his ass. But for Donald Trump, it was a winner. The minute he rode down that escalator and started calling Mexicans rapists and killers, or well…some of them are fine…but mostly rapists and killers, he had himself a fine argument to run the free world instead of having his contract renewed by the National Broadcasting Network. Soon there would be a wall and Mexico paying for it and more racist nonsense that went over big in the anti-free-trade wing of the Republican Party heretofore relegated to a dark quasi-conservative philosophy once pitched by the kind of laissez-faire isolationists that doomed the economy for generations. Then there’s the aforementioned ill-conceived tariff threats that forced Trump to cave and then, as is his childish wont, claim victory and get all pissy when anyone not affiliated with state-run television at FOX News couched it has an ass-kicking.

Let’s unpack this baby.

Unfamiliar with anything that has occurred in American history or the basic tenets of governance over the past centuries, Trump – who continues to float the idea of nations paying the U.S. for our occupations of said countries for our national security post-WWII – merrily conflates the idea of trade with national security. His ridiculous China trade war (including executive orders that are so wildly idiotic it would take four columns to cover, and I am beyond tired citing stupid shit this guy does, so go research it yourself) is destroying our farming industry, causing market unrest resulting in billions in big-government bailouts, and has just begun effecting our consumer bases. It also forced Trump’s National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn to quit in protest. So, of course, this growing fiasco became the basis for the president’s reasoning on taking on Mexico, which he has deemed an existential threat to our nation, even though illegal immigration has been down for ten years and was at an all-time low during the previous administration. In fact, Barack Obama’s border run was so invasive he began to get serious backlash from the Latino community that most likely resulted in the less than stellar turnout for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

A short aside here, it should be noted that the laws Trump uses to its most horrific depths in jailing children in inhuman conditions at our border was supported and enforced by the Obama Administration, which Trump and his usual lackies have cited to get the backlash for this national blight off their backs.

Mexico held firm against being threatened with tariffs for weeks, while waiting for the U.S. Congress to lose its shit, which it did. Even Mitch McConnell, who has been using Trump’s empty philosophical husk to ram-rod outdated right-wing crap through the Senate for over two years now, told El Douche to snap out of it. Trump, as he did with Nancy Pelosi after shutting the government down and bringing us to the brink of war with North Korea, and then relenting, avoids the catastrophe based on his own original decisions then reverses course at the last minute to claim that his brilliance saved the day. This is tantamount to someone lighting your house on fire and then after putting it out says, “You’re welcome.”

Trump ate shit. And then this week happened and, well, bon appetit!

The Mexican government even tried to save Trump from himself by agreeing to things they had already agreed to months before his showboating to throw him a PR bone, but then they heard Trump was doing a victory lap and telling the international press he had bested them. So, Mexico came clean and told everyone nothing was changed by the phony tariff threats. Trump then did the Trump thing and called an impromptu press conference waving a piece a paper around telling everyone a “secret deal” was made. Mexico, unfamiliar with “secret deals” to sucker the great unwashed up north, not only denied this goofiness, Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister produced paperwork of the actual deal and then when reporters studied Trump’s paper-prop, it jived with Mexico’s and he looked like an idiot. Again.

I say again because for some reason Mexico is the gift that keeps on giving for Trump (helped him get elected and the ongoing whipping post for his fear-mongering that fires up his base, which is his only support left) and the pill that taketh away (as in the fabricated “caravan” nonsense Trump tried selling to stem the tide of the Blue Wave that inevitably turned into a tsunami last November). The whole “Mexico is paying for the wall” thing has been an abject embarrassment. Even Trump knew it when less than a week into his presidency he begged then Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to go along with the ruse to cover his ass. Leaked White House transcripts has Trump whining, “The fact is we are both in a little bit of a political bind, because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall – I have to.” Peña Nieto literally laughed and then told the president he would not be taking any bullets for his lying, forcing Trump to ask him to simply keep it under his hat. “You cannot say that (you will not pay for the wall) to the press. The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that. You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstances.”

Trump even tried threatening to shut down relations because of this, but Peña Nieto instead told his press that he told Trump to go hump it and watched his approvals go through the roof. Trump ate shit. And then this week happened and, well, bon appetit!

But to be fair to Trump, he counts on people not having a clue what is really going on, which has kept his 38 to 42 percent of Americans digging his schtick and he absolutely needs Mexico as a villain in his ongoing MAGA bullshit. And that is why, despite getting skunked again and again by Mexico, he keeps going to that poisoned well.

The president needs Mexico, and it appears, Mexico, or at least its government really needs him.    

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BOB MUELLER’S PRIMER IN PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE TRUTH-TELLING

Aquarian Weekly
6/5/19

Reality Check

James Campion


BOB MUELLER’S PRIMER IN PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE TRUTH-TELLING
How the Speech of the Century Tells Us Everything We Need to Know & More

As I requested on May 5, Special Counsel Robert Mueller took to a podium and tried like hell to qualify what is already in his comprehensive 448-page report, which has been severely mangled by spin-doctored interpretation, botched by our finger-puppet attorney general, and turned into treason by FOX News. Clearly not comfortable in a public forum, he was nevertheless intelligently respectful and stuck to the facts of his findings. However, because he is a man of integrity and believes in crazy things like the U.S. Constitution (imagine that?) he was quite subliminal in his phrasing. There was much subtext to his dexterous wordplay simply because his position does not allow him to come out and say what he actually means. This might be considered lawyer-speak to some, but I heard it with writer-ears. For me, Mueller provided a subliminal plethora of metaphor and symbolism the likes of which is often found in the misty realm of poetry.

We begin with the core of Mueller’s address: He is tired of hearing the president, his media cronies, and a plethora of Republican lackies whine about Donald Trump being the victim of his investigation, which they have repeatedly dubbed a “witch hunt” or “a hoax” that was launched by “deep state” Democrats attempting a coup de tat. No less than eight times did Mueller make clear that not only did Russia fuck with our election, having every intention to do so and do it again in 2020, it did so to the detriment of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, and thus consequently helped the president win the 2016 election.

Mueller: “The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cybertechniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks. The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate. And at the same time, as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation, where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election.”

For the truly dense or Sean Hannity, who that evening went back on FOX and said Mueller was a tool of the deep state, Mueller reiterated, “They needed to be investigated and understood. And that is among the reasons why the Department of Justice established our office.” This was also a direct hit on the Trump/Barr witch hunt/hoax boondoggle that’s recently moved into a doomstruck DOJ counter-investigation on the origins of the investigation much like the short-lived and sadly funny “Voter Fraud” team launched and then predictably skunked by a winning candidate after the election.

Of course, all of the “helped Clinton’s opponent” stuff drives Trump nuts because it taints his victory, which if you’ve followed along, we ascertained long ago that was his initial motivation to fire the FBI director and get him stuck with a special counsel in the first place. And Mueller knows it, because if you listen to the way he presented his case, he doesn’t care a lick about the president’s insecurities. In fact, if the tone of this speech was any indication, Mueller sees Trump as a thin-skinned loon with a Twitter account who has less respect for American values than the man who perpetuated these crimes, Vladimir Putin, for whom the Trump has defended and naively believed when the Russian dictator told him he had nothing to do with it.

“These indictments contain allegations,” Mueller wryly continued, distinctly referencing previous and existing indictments about yet unnamed individuals that he felt compelled not to “comment on the guilt or the innocence of” and that “every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.” This was another cleverly worded sting at the president, who immediately went fourth grade again on Twitter after the address telling everyone Mueller cleared him with a hearty “Case Closed”. Mueller reminded us there is still much to learn about this whole mess and that the learning part should involve Congress.

When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

Mueller was also precise in his secret messaging to AG William Barr, who “made the report on our investigation largely public” using the telling adverb “largely” as a hint that it was not “completely public”, serving as an addendum to the letter Mueller sent to the AG after his ham-fisted summation farce and Barr’s shameless lying to Congress on how the special counsel viewed obstruction of justice. Barr told Congress Mueller saw none, when the report cited ten incidents of possible obstruction of his investigation, something he would restate later in this speech.

To wit: “That is also the reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

Ouch.

Mueller then took time to break the report down in two parts for the still-confused or Tucker Carlson. The first being “a broader conspiracy” with Russia to fuck with our election. While stating there was not enough evidence for broader (a key adjective here) conspiracy – unlike collusion, conspiracy is an actual legal term – it immediately conjures up a “kind of conspiracy”, making it likely that there was some form of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. He later will also conspicuously cite “evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now” to further this idea. Mueller did not twice use a blockbuster term like “conspiracy” in this speech without note. Moreover, this is an important distinction from the two-dimensional report. Mueller reiterated that although there was not a sweeping overall conspiracy, there indeed may have been one.

Hmmmmm.

The second part, stated Mueller, is “the results and analysis of our obstruction of justice investigation involving the president.” Here is where, again, things get hairy for Trump, and where Congress is instructed by the report and this speech to act. Mueller wrapped with the damning sentence; “And as set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

Mueller made a point to end each paragraph of this address with a major statement about Russian interference and conspiracies, but this is the dooziest of all doozies. In essence, Mueller obliterates the continued lunacy of “exoneration” repeated by the president and his zealots with a we tried to exonerate this guy, but let’s face it he is at best shady and worst a criminal, and there are plenty examples of both in this baby.

With one last salvo, Mueller looked up from his rostrum more than once and cited that “under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional.” In other words, this ain’t my gig, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have the evidence, just did not have the authority to charge someone under the overwhelming evidence for crimes and misdemeanors, and let’s face it none of this even approaches the most rudimentary definition of “exoneration”, so the president should probably stop saying this. “A special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy,” he concluded. “Bound to policy” means; I am busting with stuff that could impeach any president, but you know, the whole constitution thing. If I were Senior Twitter, I could just trample on it, but once again, I am a pro and not a game show host, so I was at the behest of an AG that is in the bag for the president and all of this is very, very bad and someone needs to do something about this and fast.

To wit: “The opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” This again refers directly to Congress, as Mueller does in several places in the report. It also reminded Barr that the DOJ is not the final word on this, as the AG has tried with everything he has to perpetuate in Trump’s defense. In the subtlest of ways Mueller flat-out accused Barr of obstructing justice if he continues this shit. This sentence leaves the matter up to Congress to adjudicate. You know, the equal branch of government Trump is treating like some NYC real estate regulatory department he can threaten, stonewall and bribe. This was Mueller’s job to hand them enough to consider impeachment, which is a political, not a legal tool.

Here is another kick in the teeth sentence to conclude: “Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.” Concentrate here on the word “could”, which throbs like a rotten tooth. Then reflect on a subsequent verb, “would”, which immediately lands on the table when someone says “could”. Mueller expounded by saying the special counsel was “guided by principles of fairness.” Only “fairness” kept Mueller from shouting from the rooftops that a criminal is running the free world. He would have if he could have charged the president with something, but that is up to…Congress.

Mueller rode off into the sunset hoping aloud that Congress would not make him repeat all this again in a media-crazed atmosphere of self-aggrandized political piss-fighting, but really that ain’t up to him. And he did take one last dig on Trump’s F.B.I. attacks by stating in conclusion they were a “professional staff who helped us conduct this investigation in a fair and independent manner” with “the highest integrity.”

“And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election,” said Mueller, putting his foot on the neck of witch hunt/hoax. “And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

That includes Congress, the president and the attorney general, assuming they are part of the “every American” thing, which I will conceded for the purposes of this speech; a speech that had all the elements of great theater and an even greater theatrical libretto.

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ESCLAVE IN UTERO

Aquarian Weekly
5/22/19

Reality Check

James Campion


ESCLAVE IN UTERO 
A Users Guide to Life After Roe v Wade Goes Down

Governments are instituted to “secure,” not grant or create, our inalienable rights.
                    – Thomas Jefferson, scholar, patriot, slave owner

Last month the first shot across the bow against habeas corpus, the very foundation of a free society preventing our inalienable rights from government oppression tantamount to forms of 17th century slavery, was fired with Ohio’s unconstitutional ban on abortion. Last week, Georgia picked up the mantle with HB 481 (“heartbeat bill”), the governor signing another law criminalizing abortion in the state. As I write this Alabama is following suite. A dozen states over the past few years have passed similar but smaller laws restricting access to women’s health care. All of this, with open admission by the Republican governors of these states, is to have these illegal laws stricken down in court with the express purpose of challenging the l973 landmark Supreme Court Roe v Wade ruling through mostly conservative appellate courts and then to the mostly conservative Supreme Court.

Demonstrators hold signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court as the court is due to issue its first major abortion ruling since 2007 against a backdrop of unremitting divisions among Americans on the issue and a decades-long decline in the rate at which women terminate pregnancies in Washington, U.S. June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque – RTX2IGAZ

For all intents and purposes, it is there that Roe v Wade will go. The final nail in the Trump coffin is being hammered on human rights. Women’s bodies will affectively be considered slaves to the state. Abortion will result in jail time. If you have certain genitals your literal freedom is at risk. And it will open a future that allows the United States government to tamper inside the bodies of every citizen; man or woman forevermore. That is what is going down soon. And there is not a thing we can do about it.

To be fair Trump is merely a tool of this scheme. It has been going on for years. While conservatives screamed about having all your guns taken away, they slowly changed the court system and began chipping away at women’s freedoms with strategic amendments to state statutes on abortion. Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush would have done the same thing. What makes it weird is Trump is really Pro Choice. He is only about attaching himself to whatever makes him win things like the presidency. So, even though it will go down that Donald Trump ended Roe v Wade and those who voted him in will have their signature on this abomination, it is a larger more sinister systemic slide toward in utero slavery that we must discuss and then deal with.

Now, on a personal level, I’ve expressed my philosophical conflicts in this space over the past two-decades-plus on Pro Choice v Pro Life. Unlike the First Amendment, which I think is sacrosanct or some Pro Choice supporters who meander on this subject, I willingly admit to abortion being a form of killing. This is not unlike the slaughter of say other mammals on the planet for sustaining human life or the justifiable murder we sanction through taxes and voting – for instance America bombings of Middle East villages with children casualties. Is not the Sandy Hook mass shooting a symptom of the Second Amendment? Sure. It’s not its aim, but gun people have to own it, so Pro Choice people need to own this. But are you giving up the right to bear arms because some kindergarten kids are massacred? Nah. Law is the law. And this is my Pro Choice or – more to the point here– habeas corpus argument. It is abjectly insane to allow a governing body the unchecked power over a human one in a purportedly free society. It makes no legal sense under our existing constitution. If they wish to add an amendment to strip habeas corpus and make a concerted mockery of the document, I am all for it, but if we are using it as an existing template to protect our rights, then to force humans against their will to do something within their bodies is simply a form of slavery and it is the very reason for the 1973 ruling.

The moral argument is, of course, always bullshit. There are a ton of laws that are immoral. The conscription law that freed the world in the 1940s is completely immoral, as was the bombing of Japanese innocents to end it. Right now, there is a law that separates children from their parents and leaves them in cages at our Southern Border. Fuck morals. They are subjective and obviously malleable to your politics. This is why Evangelicals forgive this president’s rampant immoralities. Shit, for Evangelicals, who believe even thinking of sex is a sin against God, to turn away for a serial adulterer that brags on tape about grabbing pussy is all you need to know. They chucked all that morality bullshit for their Pro Life movement. And I give them credit for this. Welcome to the world of secular opportunists. The high ground on morality has been ceded to a lying, womanizing, racist bully to jail teenaged rape victims!

Begin the post-apocalypse by considering your political life as a woman … your gender is under siege.

But enough of that. It is time to speak to the women around us who are totally fucked by this. And this means generations, when the government will again have the power to enact forced abortions once we’re overcome with natural disasters due to ignored climate change. Trust me, there will come a time when the government will limit the number of children. It may be while your bones are rotting in the grave, but you’ll have that as a legacy. Nice work.

Ladies, it is important to first move to states that will allow you to control what happens to your body, (or choose Canada, where it is legal and binding and never to be overturned) because the rescinding of Roe v Wade will undoubtedly carry with it a state’s rights statute. This will appease the conservative wing of those 70 percent of Americans who support not having the government poking around in its citizenry’s uteruses. In fact, last year when the judge who will likely push this over the top, Brett Kavanaugh was in his controversial “Who did he rape and when?” appointment, only 37 percent supported him. Put a more direct way, twice as many people support Roe v Wade than the guy who will strike it down.

If you decide to stick around goober states or live in this newly fascist country, then at the very least women need to be way more aggressive about making sure that contraceptives are on the books for any future health care legislation – another way Republicans have been chipping away at this; you can’t protect yourself from pregnancy and if you get pregnant you have to have the baby or go to jail. Tremendous! Meanwhile, pills that help 70 year-olds get hard-ons come free with male health care. Fantastic!

It may be too late to stop the eradication of Roe v Wade, but it’s time women finally mobilize and get a measure of take-backs. Come to grips with this: Roe v Wade is toast. Your uterus and your daughter’s and her daughter’s will be owned by the state. Begin the post-apocalypse by considering your political life as a woman – not an economic or anti-war or pro-war or religious principled vote. Your gender is under siege. So, it is time to push for the Equal Rights Amendment. Use it to topple anything that takes away your inalienable rights, which by definition “cannot be surrendered, sold or transferred to someone else, especially a natural right such as the right to own property.” You know what’s your property? Your organs. Imagine! Your house. Your car. Your apple tree and the parts of your internal being. An Amendment will supersede unlawful Supreme Court decisions and finally and properly protect them from government invasion.

The insurgence of women into congress in 2019 is a nice start.

Don’t Tread on Me.

Abolish the coming enslavement of your uterus.

This is on the clock now.

Get to work.  

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HOW BAD CAN TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS BE?

Aquarian Weekly
5/15/19

Reality Check

James Campion


HOW BAD CAN TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS BE?
Spoiler Alert: He Thinks They’re Really Bad

Come on, admit it. Even if you continue to defend Donald Trump despite everything, aren’t you the least bit curious as to why he has never released his tax returns despite every candidate since Richard Nixon doing so and the accepted idea that those running for or serving as president need to be transparent to the American people so there is no gory speculation on what kind of weird shit our public servants are into? I mean, especially for a (in)famous business man who stakes his reputation on being some kind of financial wizard and specifically this man, who finds the need to tout the most banal of accomplishments (making up many of them) and regurgitating his most heinous fuck-ups like the post-Charlottesville “both sides are good people” nonsense about neo-Nazis to defend himself. And it is extremely odd when considering this guy spent two years chasing down then president Barack Obama to release his birth certificate to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was an American citizen.

It is all very, very strange.

Unless…

There is some really bad shit in there. I mean, catastrophically bad.

Because this what people not in the bag for this president are left to think.

And, to be fair, this is against form for Donald Trump. He’s bypassing his usual braggart/knee-jerk/quick draw machinations to allow people to frame this gaping hole in his bio as anything they wish: a possible scofflaw or having ties to the mob or more Russian crap or perhaps tons of donations to Democratic candidates or left-leaning organizations despite his right-wing stances, or maybe he’s exaggerating his worth or financial successes. Maybe he paid no taxes at all. We can think anything is in there, because he is going to great lengths to keep the proof from us.

This is how public office works. It is not like big-time real estate, which is pretty much a shell game of rampant malfeasance meets outright fraud. People mostly find out stuff about you. And it will happen to Trump.

The law is airtight on this, despite the stonewalling by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, whose job it is to hand over such requests by Congress as dictated by the Supreme Court in a 1975 ruling. It is just a matter of time. It always has been. Trump gambled rightly that a Republican House wouldn’t expose him, but his trouncing this past November all but guaranteed this confrontation, something Trump dealt with the morning after Election Day when he did what he did best; parade a pig smeared with lipstick and declared it the prom queen.

To wit: After jockeying during the primaries and even his run for office with his memorable line of spectacular bullshit, “I’m being audited, so I can’t release them” he followed up for a few months there with my favorite, “They’re too complicated and cannot be fathomed by any person living or dead.” The last one was a paraphrase, but even that was more cogent than this ramble from early that morning after Trump got his clock cleaned in the mid-terms: “They’re very complex. People wouldn’t understand them. They’re done by among the biggest and best law firms in the country, same thing with the accounting firms, they’re very large, powerful firms from the standpoint of respect, highly respected, big firms, and great law firms. They do these things. They put them in. But people don’t understand tax returns. It is a very big company, far bigger than you would even understand, but it’s a great company, but it’s big and its complex and it’s (tax returns) probably feet high.”

From I understand the president hadn’t blown any Tai Stick or suffered head trauma before the above, but it still does nothing to make him look like he isn’t hiding something…again.

We can think anything is in there, because he is going to great lengths to keep the proof from us.

And that leads us back to the original conclusion; Trump cannot release his tax returns and survive serious scrutiny, embarrassment or worse. Period. So, we get stonewalling.

Thing is Trump likes to run things like this whole charade is another wing of his disastrous business dealings – and if the NY Times revelations this week that he lost billions in the 1980s and 90s is any indication, then good luck with this – he is no longer a private citizen. He works for us, not Trump Enterprises. And the majority of us apparently would like to see his so-called business genius or if some of the stuff that is in the Mueller Report about his negotiating with Russians to build towers while their government was attacking us jives with his records. Polls range from 56 percent to 74 percent of Americans interested in seeing the president’s returns and nearly 80-percent believe it should be a prerequisite to run for office, much less govern.

And even if Trump’s solid, unwavering 35 to 40 percent zealotry sticks with him whether there’s a lifetime subscription to NAMBLA or investments in Trump Tower al Qaeda in these sacred documents or not the rest of us living in the real world would like to see them. But for damn sure Donald Trump doesn’t want us to.

Why?

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TIME FOR MUELLER TO SPEAK

Aquarian Weekly
5/8/19

Reality Check

James Campion


TIME FOR MUELLER TO SPEAK

Things move so fast during this car-wreck presidency I am forced in mid-stream to abandon one column on Donald Trump’s spastic scramble to keep Congress and thus the American people away from his tax returns (Yikes, what horrors lurk within?) and shift gears to the breaking news on Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s recent eyebrow raising D.C. bombshell of a letter to Attorney General William Barr that was not only completely unexpected by out of character for the normally tight-lipped Mueller and unprecedented in the long history of special counsels and the justice department. Within hours of a report in the Washington Post about this unusually aggressive correspondence, Congress made it public, and man it is a doozy.

Mueller basically calls the Attorney General of the United States a liar, and worse yet, subsequently an accessory to Trump’s obstruction of justice the special counsel framed in his 448-page report, or at the very least making clear that Barr’s March 24 fluff-note disguised as a summary of the Mueller Report led to “public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation.” At which point Mueller goes on to write, “This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

Oy.

The letter is not long, but it is direct, (no one that makes his living in the law uses the term “threatens” lightly) and turns out to be a kill-hell bitch slap of a rebuke on the nation’s top law officer. In Barr’s grubby paws, according to the report’s author, there is no assurance of “full public confidence.”

Ouch.

And this point became far clearer during a heated exchange at Barr’s Senate hearing this week, as California Senator Kamala Harris, Democratic presidential candidate, got the beleaguered and stammering AG to admit that although he determined publicly more than once that the DOJ found no evidence of Trump’s obstruction of justice in the report, he never reviewed any of it before making this decision. Because, you know, he is only the nation’s attorney general and was the first one to have access to the most important official government document created in the last decade. I mean, why study it when you can merely make shit up.

Mueller concludes his stern warning on misinterpreting his two years of work by respecting the right of Barr’s office to review the material in the aforementioned report, but “that process need not delay release of enclosed materials.” In other words, “Hey, buddy, don’t use this whole ‘review process’ as an excuse to stonewall what is rightfully the American’s people’s document bought and paid for by them and researched and formulated for them.” And then with swift and severe precision Mueller slides effortlessly into his final paragraph with “Release at this time would alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation.”

This is the equivalent in writer’s parlance of a right-cross. Think of Mike Tyson in 1986 as a sentence. Barr would be the first-round casualty.

We know now that after digesting this little missive, Barr quite ceremoniously told Mueller to go fuck himself and took his sweet time before disseminating a rose-colored pro-Trump summary (that he later claimed was not a summary) of Mueller’s investigative opus and then before actually releasing the report held a surreal presser in which he tried to soften the obvious accusations that it levies on the president of the United States.

There was less speculation in interpreting the Bible or late-Sixties Beatles songs than the Mueller Report. Its author needs to speak, and soon.

This tiptoe through bullshit is what landed Barr in front of Congress again – a request he playfully dodged before complying, keeping himself from contempt charges that tend to lead to disbarment and other things – and it has wrecked whatever possible credibility the AG could have had after he shamelessly campaigned for the gig by kissing Trump’s ample hindquarters. 

But I digress.

This is about Robert Mueller today. It is his reputation that will be on the line next. What the special counsel does not get to do is throw stones at Barr’s rather flimsy glass house and then continue to play intellectual recluse floating above the fray with a smirk while occasionally being seen wandering in and out of D.C. churches every Sunday and leaking accusatory letters to the press. This was Mueller’s baby. He signed his name to it. And it has predictably been politicized by Congress and Trump apologists and constantly battered by Tweety McTweeter in the White House. There was less speculation in interpreting the Bible or late-Sixties Beatles songs than the Mueller Report. Its author needs to speak, and soon.

Now, there will be some who might claim that everything Mueller needed to do as a patriot and a respected investigator is encapsulated in this extensive report. Enough is enough. Leave the man alone. He did his job and did it well under scrutiny and leaks and hammering from all ends. But I disagree. As a writer, I believe it is incumbent on the author to stand up for the work and if there is any ambiguity in the interpretation of it then it must be put to rest. And this is not some novelist who can say, “I wrote it, you figure it out. It speaks to everyone differently. How you see it is where you come from emotionally and…blah blah blah.” This is law and it contains evidence and facts and it is being tossed around like a worn political football.

Mueller needs to fix this. And there is an easy way to put it all to rest; come out and speak. And not in an interview format on 60 Minutes or Oprah or CNN. He needs to conduct a press conference; a full, binding and unfiltered statement to the American people on where he stands, as his name is on the front cover of this massive undertaking that people are pulling apart. Book time on all the networks. Talk to us. Directly. Without media noise, a redacted tome, or certainly whatever lunacy comes from our game show president. It is that important.

And I don’t even mean sitting before Congress in some endless charade, which I assumed was coming no matter what was in the thing, never mind all the “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law” – the key sentence in all this. But if Congress is considering additional investigations, and we know there are already 14 independent ones ongoing mentioned in the redacted version of the report, then Mueller cannot be coy. The future of this presidency, future ones, and the structure of this republic is on the line here.

The Mueller Report was #1 on Amazon’s best-seller list for days after its release. It is a bonafide smash. People are obviously very interested in what its author has to say about it and for all this guessing and litigating to cease. Everyone has a side and an idea about what level of crap the president is in. There is only one man for whom any of that matters, Robert Swan Mueller III.

And he needs to speak.

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TRUMP GUILTY OF OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE – NOW WHAT?

Aquarian Weekly
4/24/19

Reality Check

James Campion


TRUMP GUILTY OF OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE – NOW WHAT?

Thank you.

Not since I began filling this space with words in August of 1997 have I gotten so many accolades from readers and colleagues on my correct analysis, as corroborated by the release of the Mueller Report this week, on President Donald J. Trump being clearly guilty of obstructing justice during the investigations into his campaign and administration allegedly working with Russians to destroy our democratic system. Now, to be fair, this was a slam dunk. I mean, the guy did it in broad daylight, on national television, Twitter, he even bragged to a bunch of Russians in the Oval Office with big-mouth staff hanging around. It was more like writing that pizza is good or war is bad, or nothing is better than sex. And folks, there is no sillier phrase in any language. Nothing is better than sex. Period. So, I appreciate your kind words, plaudits and references to my genius, but Trump being guilty of obstruction was a no brainer. Kind of like Trump himself.

There is so much damaging shit in this report about our game show president, it will take volumes by historians to distill over the decades. But since I promised that the piece referred to in all this praising would indeed be the last word on the report itself, I am not here today to rehash it. Although, come on, how great is it that the president is on record as saying the minute Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.” Then, according to his then attorney general Trump began his road to obstructing justice by tearing into Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation. Trump, as he did with FBI Director James Comey, when he tried to queer a criminal inquiry (this one was on soon-to-be-locked up former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn), begged to be protected from himself. This is the Donald Trump that appeared in my celebrated deconstruction of his obstructing justice – a man, who if he were innocent, sure did not act like it from day-one.

Also, if I may, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitting under oath she is a lying machine is delicious too, but I giddily digress.

And so, Robert Mueller after nearly two years and over 400 pages of what we can see here is heavily redacted info from an attorney general who is openly in the bag for Trump, the president committed at least ten different acts of obstruction of justice. What it comes down to is not that the president is guilty or not guilty, but what there is under the constitution to be done with this. Trump being guilty, as stated here for months and nailed down by federal investigators, is a done deal. What William Barr is arguing, again covered here two weeks ago (damn, I am good), is that unless there was collusion than there cannot be obstructing justice. And since there is no solid evidence of direct collusion – although the report states that there was plenty of merry collaborative efforts to use a hostile foreign entity trying to destroy its opponent to win the presidency by the Trump campaign – there is no point pursing the Mueller team’s evidence to this end.

What Barr is saying is, “Sure, this behavior is icky and bad and even toeing the line of criminal, if not criminal, but if the guy was only reacting out of fear for being railroaded, then what can I do?” And in this reasoning, Barr’s objective is clear: “Fuck the Justice Department and the United States and its citizens. I have to protect Trump.” As Trump has asked of anyone in his employ. The president often uses the specter of Roy Cohn, a despicable openly bigoted criminal lawyer, who according to Trump was a trusted mentor, to insist this. Thus, Barr’s credibility is shot. He should now be viewed as an untrusty hack who has dumped the objective concept of his office to be a lacky. Good for him. Let’s move on.

And where we move is the U.S. Congress. This is where this sordid tale now continues. Trump is guilty of obstructing justice. What Mueller is arguing is that it is not within his powers to prosecute a sitting president, this he punts to the legislative branch as our constitution states. The preponderance of evidence against Trump is enough for a deeper dive into an investigation and possible impeachment hearings, but whether congress, more specifically Democrats – Republicans have consistently crapped the bed on this fiasco – have the stones to pull this off is another thing. There is politics involved. And when that happens we see that more times than not all hope for legality and morality is tossed into the shit pile.

What it comes down to is not that the president is guilty or not guilty, but what there is under the constitution to be done with this.

The second Pennsylvania fell to Trump and it looked all the world like this doofus would be our president on November 6, 2016, I texted a dear friend, “Countdown to Impeachment”. It was part joke, but also knowing Trump since the 1980s here in and around NYC, it was obvious this guy was going to do something to get himself in trouble. And, well, here it is; an impeachable offense. Whether that happens or not, it’s up to congress. It was for Nixon and Clinton, and it came to bear. It was for Reagan, and it did not. This goes where congress goes.

And, trust me, I am not putting my stellar predictive talents on the line when it comes to congress. I have no idea how it will go there. Ever. Chances are nothing will happen. We’re 18 months from the 2020 election and Trump is still languishing in the low 40s approval rating and his “crazy shit” is now without the checks and balances of all those poor bastards in the White House that kept Trump from firing Mueller and implicating himself even further into this mess. They all quit in protest or were sacked for trying to stay out of prison for him. There are more Trump shenanigans to come to bury him, so, really, why risk a backlash or what DC insiders like to refer to as “investigation fatigue” to make a martyr out of this dink? Democrats could drag this out for publicity and wait until the election, or (imagine that!) congress could actually do its constitutional duty job and act as a viable check on the abuse of powers within the executive branch.

Whatever happens, this is what is at stake now that we have official compiled and corroborating evidence of obstruction of justice by the president of the United States.

Trump is guilty.

Okay…

Now what?

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THE ATTEMPTED MURDER OF THE PLANET & THE MERRY HUMAN VIRUS

Aquarian Weekly
4/17/19

Reality Check

James Campion

THE ATTEMPTED MURDER OF THE PLANET & THE MERRY HUMAN VIRUS 

And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
– Genesis 1:26-28

You know the deal; if there is a choice to be made – the environment or the human need to destroy shit – the latter wins out. Every time. If we had a slogan it would be; Humanity – Fucking Up Everything Natural For 200,000 Fun-Filled Years. This was true long before anyone thought to write this concept down, and then some enterprisingly insane Israelite decided to frame it as a holy edict by this God thing they made up: Dominion. The Torah (or as the Christians started calling it a few centuries in) the Bible is silly with it. Webster’s defines it as “sovereignty or control” or in more detailed conventions, “a governmental system”. Given this, we are “responsible” for this, but more times than not provided a choice between the planet and us, we choose us. Welcome to humanity, the virus of our terrarium.

Okay, so there is my opening paragraph for Earth Day.

When my fantastic new managing editor, Dan Alleva asked me to add my two cents to this occasion I shuddered. But I like Dan. He is doing a fine job already. He deserves much better than this, because I believe he generally cares about this thing. Enough that we should devote an entire issue of this paper to it. And that is quite noble, if not a tad naïve, at least from this damaged perspective. Yeah, we know, Campion; we’re all doomed, blah blah blah. Well, this seems about right, especially when considering I was asked to play at a No Nukes rally in the mid 80s and showed up with a song I wrote titled “Living in the Underground” that gleefully hoped for the end of times so we can all dance around in a tunnel to Elvis Presley records, or that I was invited to speak at a Tea Party thing in the late aughts in which within the first two minutes I called everyone there a blithering idiot before being roundly booed off the stage, and then there was the time a thoughtful and brilliant writer asked me to pen a screed on freedom of speech for an online community of creatives and I handed in 3,000 words of such rancid bellicosity that she could not run it.

So, considering the source, you were probably not going to get any kumbaya out of me. And to be fair, even in the context of the great human experiment, America, the previous administration was the kindest ever to the earth in its policies, I believe most of it was overkill and hindered our economic growth, and so I am as guilty as anyone in assisting in the planet’s demise. Quite frankly, I will always be guilty of choosing my own comfort over the earth. We all do. Come on. Shit, Al Gore spent years decrying Global Warming while whisking around in a private jet. Why? Because Al Gore is a human, and he can’t help it. We mean well, or we think we do – coming up with fancy philosophies and mottos and (ahem) Earth Days, but we still merrily burn fossil fuels and use plastic all over the joint and eat animals who are filling the ozone with methane.

Right now, as I write this, coal is being burned to make the electricity that lights my way and I used a car to get here to write it. Wait, I have to sip water out of this Styrofoam cup to keep hydrated, so I have the energy to slowly and quite deliberately erode the livable space my kid will have to inhabit.   

But for the purposes of mocking the doofus that sits in the White House today, who doesn’t believe in things like science or really any ounce of reality, I offer what our God-fearing country is now doing to help speed (and I do mean speed) along the destruction of the planet, or as Master George Carlin put it, us: “Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Maybe a little Styrofoam … The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas.”

First our game show president, after he struck Climate Change as a threat to national security, appointed a man who had sued the Environmental Protection Agency 13 times to run it. Scott Pruitt, a science denying ambulance-chaser from Oklahoma, immediately bragged to the Washington Post that he has “moved to shrink the agency’s reach, alter its focus, and pause or reverse numerous environmental rules.” Then, within weeks of making a move akin to choosing Al Capone to head of the FBI, Pruitt loosened all regulations on toxic air pollution. Because, you know, it’s not bad enough we don’t give a shit about the planet, but we need to use kill-friendly toxicity to ramp it up.  

Al Gore spent years decrying Global Warming while whisking around in a private jet. Why? Because Al Gore is a human, and he can’t help it.

Pruitt then began gutting every clean-water act known to modern law before he had to quit in ignominy under 14 different counts of fraud and who knows what else? The man is scum, even by human standards. But wait, he was replaced by an anti-environmental lobbyist for coal, Andrew Wheeler, who is currently poisoning something.     

But these two are merely poster boys for what has transpired thus far over the first two dismal years of this farce.

The United States pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement that was not necessarily one headed by Barack Obama but fit into his agenda to “save us” from ourselves. Poor bastard. But the Clean Power Plan was Obama’s baby and of course the Trump Administration has rolled back even the most commonsense aspects of it to “save the coal industry”, which is also dying a slow death that has actually accelerated during Trump’s silliness.

And my favorite, since we all claim to love animals, but really, really don’t; in July of 2018, the Trump administration announced its intention to change the way the Endangered Species Act is administered, saying more weight would be put on economic considerations when designating an endangered animal’s habitat, this includes the Migratory Bird Treaty Act reinterpretation, which means as long as you can make a buck you are allowed to kill birds, lots of birds, endangered or otherwise. It is, well, a Bird Holocaust, if you will.

I wish I could put that in the lyrics of my new Earth Day song; The bird holocaust is underway / Construct your power lines / Install your wind turbines / And smile, smile, smile until we slowly waste away. Something like that. I’m working on it. Maybe put it to the tune of “Imagine”, so John Lennon can be the first corpse to puke.

There’s more horrible shit going on, and I haven’t even gotten to China, which will surely erode the ozone so drastically that everyone will have some form of skin cancer to go with all the poison food and allergies and out-of-whack hormonal damage our offspring’s offspring will suffer until we indeed mutate into every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Did I mention the oceans?

Who has time for that condemned shit? Not me. Gotta get back to polluting.

Happy fucking Earth Day.

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FINAL WORD ON MUELLER REPORT & OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE

Aquarian Weekly
4/10/19

Reality Check

James Campion


FINAL WORD ON MUELLER REPORT & OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE


As stated time and again in this space, this whole Russian obsession the Trump campaign and its administration’s first two years of governance has displayed had nothing to do with collusion. The undisputed proof that the President of the United States plotted with a foreign government to help push the election in his favor seems crazy when considering this guy can’t keep two thoughts in his head for five consecutive minutes, much less oversee a Machiavellian scheme of this magnitude. Donald Trump doesn’t possess the mental capacity or the sense of survival techniques inherent in someone who would do anything like this. However, what I have been commenting on now for over two years was this dumbfounding collage of self-incriminating acts that made it look as if the president were guilty of something. He is so delusional to the consequences of his actions and certainly his comments that he keeps making things worse for himself. To his credit, Special Counsel Robert Mueller shut the Trump noise out and actually saved the president from himself by coming to the conclusion that despite the mounting idiocy coming from the White House to make him continuously appear as guilty as sin – weird tweets, incessant haranguing of the special counsel and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a dozen or so colleagues and alleged co-conspirators lying to congress and the FBI, 34 indictments, Trump was not guilty of at least an ill-conceived strategy with a paper trail.

We’ll get to more of Trump’s rampant stupidity that caused all these investigations in the first place, but let’s get to the crux of the issue for which this space has indeed repeatedly stated: Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice.

First off, we know nothing about what is in the Mueller Report because right now Attorney General William Barr (the third one in two years under Trump and handpicked by him for his anti-Mueller rhetoric) has not released it. After a few hours over a day and a half of perusing over 300 pages of the thing, Barr summarized Mueller’s findings on collusion and stated quite cryptically that “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” This is because Mueller believed he had enough evidence to conclude that Trump had obstructed justice. This has been bared out by Barr’s original statement and more recently in a detailed NY Times report that has Team Mueller bitching that this is starting to smell like a cover-up.  But unless motivated (and of course Barr is not) there is no precedence in implicating a sitting president on obstruction of justice if there is nothing to obstruct justice from. In other words, in Barr’s reasoning, if there is no collusion then what is Trump exactly trying to protect himself from?

And this is where Trump’s stupidity comes stumbling in.

Trump of course came roaring out of the gate (or in this case the golf course) to proclaim himself exonerated on all counts – which ran counter to his hand-picked attorney general’s specific comment about the report not exonerating him. In his usual bumble-fuck manner the president shouted about how much this whole thing was a waste of taxpayer money and time and put undue pressure on the first two years of his presidency. Startlingly, this is all true, but then this buffoon says it was all some kind of plot against him, as if he were a political martyr in the vaunted guise of a Clintonian “vast right-wing conspiracy” defense.

But, you see, no matter how you slice it, Donald Trump caused this whole thing by, again, doing and saying things that implicated him.

First, against the dire protestations of the man who actually helped him get elected, Steve Bannon, then the president’s chief strategist, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the man who was essentially investigating his possible involvement in an ongoing criminal review of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Not to mention at that time Trump bent over backwards to make up stories (counter to the overwhelming evidence gathered by the entirety of the U.S. intelligence community) that it was anyone but Russia who had hacked into his opponent Hillary Clinton’s emails among other illegal and hostile maneuvers.

This single act would have been enough to force Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel to investigate the president, but then Trump did something even more incriminating, he admitted guilt. On national television.  

Rosenstein, another Trump appointee by the way, was thrown into this steaming pile of shit because his boss, the then acting attorney general, Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from the case after being one of a hundred people around Trump that lied to congress about absolutely never having spoken to any Russians during the campaign. In fact, for the record, Trump repeated for fourteen months – from the time this came up during the campaign and well into his presidency – that no one near him had ever spoken to a single Russian, when, it turns out, all of them did – his family, his campaign manager, his associates (both business and political) and many members of his presidential staff.

When Trump told the anchor of NBC News that he fired Comey (already a controversial and suspicious move) because of “the Russia thing”, even after his beleaguered staff had gone crazy concocting some bizarre fiction and subsequent written statement claiming Comey was an FBI pariah that needed to be sacked by recommendation of, if you can believe it, Rod Rosenstein, he made it impossible for anyone to ignore it. Trump: “He made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.”

Bingo! Obstruction of Justice 101.

Also, for the record, Trump said this past August that he never said such a thing and that NBC “spliced” his answer to incriminate him, just like he eventually claimed it was never his voice on the Access Hollywood tape, even though he immediately apologized for bragging about assaulting women three weeks before he was elected the leader of the free world.

Donald Trump caused this whole thing by doing and saying things that implicated him.

Thus, Bob Mueller recommended that the DOJ consider Trump’s actions as possible obstruction of justice, (this is apparently what is riling them up enough to reach out to the media to berate Bob Barr), but among other things we have yet to see the entire report, which right now is being held up in the (ahem) Department of Justice. Why? If it “exonerates” Trump and he wins and the media and the Democrats and the FBI eat shit, then release it. No redactions. The whole report. That we paid for. Yet, thus far, and a preponderance of Republican legislators have worked as this guy’s echo chamber, the DOJ does not want us to see the whole report, which further raises suspicion on what’s in it. Apparently, no one supporting Trump wants this thing to see the light.

Again, all of this makes Trump look incredibly guilty of something. And if that’s the case then maybe the media didn’t go all that nuts, the Democrats may have a damn good reason to hold this maniac accountable, and the FBI was and is doing its job quite nicely.

Refusing to release this report is again another asinine move by Trump and his zealots, pretty much presuming there is ugly stuff in there. Maybe there isn’t, like there wasn’t collusion. But then why were all those people around the president lying? And going to jail for it? And what’s with all the meetings with Russians? And what about these private nobody-is-allowed-to-be-in-the-room-and there-are-no-transcripts meetings the POTA has with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin?

If I may offer my humble explanation: Beyond the president’s business dealings with Moscow, which hopefully will be revealed when we finally see his tax returns, Donald Trump’s insecurity and childish knee-jerk reaction about everything from Spike Lee to Saturday Night Live to a dead John McCain reared its ugly head once it became obvious that the Russians had aided and abetted his barely over the finish line election in 2016. He was pissed because Clinton won the popular vote and that his inauguration was far smaller than Barack Obama’s and all the other facts that run counter to his delusions of grandeur. Therefore, Trump tried to squash it, never realizing it made him look like he was involved all the time. Then when it came down to actual accountability he did what he has been doing since the 1980s; attack the messenger (the media) and the source of his headache, (Robert Mueller), before finding an alternate culprit (Democrats).

The comedic tragedy of Trump/Mueller comes down to this; over 1,100 times (a count roughly put together this week by the NY Times) the president of the United States framed the special counsel’s attempt to get to the bottom of our nation being attacked by a foreign adversary as a “hoax” or a “witch hunt”, but now uses it’s a questionable summary of his detailed report to defend his sad-sack actions that caused it all in the first place.

No more spot-on event could better describe the first two dismal years of this abortion of a presidency.            

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TO THE BALLOT

Aquarian Weekly
4/3/19

Reality Check

James Campion


TO THE BALLOT
Time for the People of NJ and Not Our Feckless Politicians to Legalize Recreational Marijuana


Eventually barriers do fall to those who are committed to breaking them down.
– NJ Governor Phil Murphy

In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.
– Mark Twain


Predictably, do-nothing NJ lawmakers have sunk the legalization of recreational marijuana this week, and not by striking it down, but by NEVER GETTING TO A VOTE! And so, in the interest of actual democracy (remember that kids?) I propose we do it the democratic way and have a vote. What a concept. Let the ballot box decide if we’re going to drop this delusory, over-officious, money-grubbing, half-assed nonsense about a plant and get down to the business of business. I will stand by the tally. I only ask that we have one.

Governor Phil Murphy and the Democratic-led legislature have failed, miserably. Republicans are, as always, useless. I will spend the next two years campaigning against all of them, but this is not about repercussions for abject failure, this is about moving forward and taking matters into our own hands. The will of the people, as our founders framed it.

No sense going over why this gutless body didn’t even put the matter to a vote – a myriad of the same crap you hear all the time, whether it is to keep minorities or women from voting, recognizing same-sex marriage – religious, taxation, antiquated, bigoted, irrational fears for the moral destruction of society. Stupidly, I have put my faith (is that even the right word?) in the self-serving myopic machinations of politicians, and they fucked up. Again.

Thus far I have made it a point that unlike the zombie Trump zealots who continue to somehow support him despite a spate of broken promises he used to narrowly win the presidency throughout the Rust Belt, not the least of which his constant ranting on repealing and replacing the ACA with a cheaper, better alternative health system, and my favorite boondoggle; bringing manufacturing jobs back and (chuckle) expanding the coal industry, I will hold Mr. Murphy accountable for his only campaign promise I cared two licks about – legalizing recreational marijuana.

Of course, the sensible commentator side of me realizes that the governor was motivated and had plenty of state senate support, control of most of the legislature, and even pushed hard these last months to get a vote, but let’s be honest, there are no medals for trying. This is not about wanting to do something. I would guess that Trump, beyond his infantile tweeting and defending himself against forty investigations, may wish to bring jobs back, he just can’t, and has not, and for this he should be held accountable. Same goes for Murphy. Whether he is a showbiz clown or a progressive Democrat. Results matter. Not talk and tweeting and posturing and desire. Everyone wants something. Politics and governance are about getting it done.

Why should drug dealers and drug lords profit? Why not firefighters or teachers or funds coming in to fix roads and bridges?

This is why it is imperative now that this state put the matter on the ballot this November. I believe it would have a far better chance to pass and thus no one has to feel like they’re damning children (God forbid people actually parent their miserable offspring) or pissing off God or doing whatever frightens politicians. Take it off their desks and lay it on ours. Let us decide. Once that part of it is done, they can bitch and fight over how to tax, regulate or enforce laws dealing with it. Apparently passing controversial bills has become an anathema to lawmakers. With elections looming, they wilt in the bright light of actually doing their jobs. Not even a vote? No public debate or forum? Just a bunch of suits in rooms deciding what’s legal so they can divvy up the tax revenues? Well that revenue comes from us, so let’s decide how we wish to use it.

Truth is money is what this all about for me. I barely smoke weed. I don’t care if its legal or not beyond cashing in. If and when I want contraband, I get it, like my former insane consumption of pure French absinthe. However, why should drug dealers and drug lords profit? Why not firefighters or teachers or funds coming in to fix roads and bridges? Hence, I do not subscribe to the civil rights concept of this. It is not a right to be feed your head. Ask the poor bastards that passed the Volstead Act. Marriage equality was indeed a civil rights issue. This is a commonsense issue.

This is not like say, climate change, which is real, and it is embarrassing I have to state this, but since an entire political party chooses to ignore scientific fact for economic posturing, I guess I do. People are going to believe what they believe. I assume humans are doomed and no matter what we do about the environment, it will come to pass. Thank goodness. We’re a virus and we need to go. No, this is direct line to simply monetize or if you will, exploit a thriving industry. This is how we built this country – free land grabs and slave labor. All I’m asking is we get down to the nitty gritty here, and to – what part of the proposed bill proffered – get those people out of jail doing serious time for smoking a particular plant. We spend enough money with jailing the poor in this country, drugs should not be part of it.

Commonsense needs to be on the ballot. And I am far from saying I think this will solve anything. Holy shit, a moron is president. Regardless of that electoral abortion, I will, as stated, stand by the decisions of the citizens of NJ, because what else do we have left?

The frightened and weak members of our legislature have had their day.

Put weed on the ballot.

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ENOUGH WITH FOX NEWS

Aquarian Weekly
3/20/19

Reality Check

James Campion


ENOUGH WITH FOX NEWS

Most columns that begin with “I never do this” and then the columnist goes on to do it is total bullshit. And yet, here I go: I hardly ever comment on other news outlets or media in general in this space. I think over the nearly 23 years of penning Reality Check I may have dedicated an entire column on matters of media once or twice, and mostly it was in a mocking capacity and scarcely worth noting. When I do make passing critiques on the silliness of cable news or morning shows or the way-too-easy-target talk radio crap-fest, it is merely in the service of a larger point – however rambling or meaningless said point. But today I am forced to comment on FOX News merely because it is suddenly embroiled in a first amendment issue, the likes of which I have spent a lifetime interpreting, and in most cases, defending to its most precious core.

Recently, the Democratic Party has refused FOX News’ request to host any of its presidential candidate debates. This is, of course, the privilege of the party, as it can find any outlet to do so, but the reasoning has gone beyond the right-leaning channel’s penchant to be overly critical and sometimes rancorous towards the party and its liberal platform as a matter of principle over coverage. Party chairman, Tom Perez, issued a statement this week that the cable news outlet “is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates.”

Now, normally, I would take issue with this. Mainly because words like “fair” are quite subjective and downright arbitrary and don’t belong in a serious political discussion and the very idea of “neutral” is at worst nebulous and at best in the eye of the beholder. Hate speech, liberal or conservative ideas, broad mayhem set beside intellectual exchanges all fall under the right to free speech and a free press. However, it has become increasingly disturbing how much FOX News has acted as a state-run propaganda wing of the White House in the past two years, specifically in the past 14 months. So much so that it must be finally stated that what has become of the already marred FOX News brand over the past decades has reached an untenable level of subjective glad-handing and worse still a direct link to governance. Therefore, it can no longer be looked upon as anything resembling a news source. It is for intents and purposes the kind of bizarro shit you see on YouTube or read on Facebook or listen to at the end of the bar around 3:15 am, and once again (yikes!) working as an unelected branch of the federal government.

recent study by New Yorker magazine has fully revealed the length and breadth of the damage FOX News has done to what was already loosely being sold as journalism. The exposé brilliantly researched and written by respected investigative reporter, Jane Mayer, with a myriad of inside sources, is beyond damning. It lays out a systemic pattern of back-and-forth sharing between Donald Trump and its public employees of information, suggested policy and agenda formats for U.S. public and international policy, and a measure of cover-ups on legitimate stories of executive branch crimes and misleading and/or alternate reality concepts peddled as facts.

It appears when the public elects a product of television – and its shortcuts to reasoning and immediate gratification of response, extrapolated in the concussive mendacity of Twitter and most of the Internet – there are consequences. It appears the choice of this president to use one singular communication tool posing as “news” to both figure governing techniques and ideologies, and to have those echoed back to him as if a cheerleading squad, and then promote fiction as a narrative to have it reported as fact, thus creating new fictions, is both stupid and dangerous.    

You have to go back to early 20thcentury Randolph Hearst level of journalistic corruption to equal the well-organized presidential publicity machine FOX has become

Now, to be fair (fair?), there is – and the New Yorker is as guilty of this as any – an alternate argument that much of what comes from commentary or coverage on the liberal side has also been queer and icky and at times downright lunacy. I used to watch FOX as my role here dictates to digest all the areas of coverage until I started to experience a dramatic shift in merely defending this president or stretching the credulity of an argument into pretzels as an insult to my intelligence. But I also watch MSNBC and can report that while it is the oft-times overly enthusiastic opposition wing of this edict, and it goes beyond the pale in setting up scenarios (much like FOX during the Obama administration) giving hope to the resistance that soon there will be impeachments and all the stuff that riles up the bases on both sides, it has never directly influenced presidential policy. You have to go back to early 20thcentury Randolph Hearst level of journalistic corruption to equal the well-organized presidential publicity machine FOX has become wherein hosts of shows, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro, and FOX & Friends, which even those within the Donald Trump orbit have admitted the president is both obsessed with and educated by, have crossed the barrier normally set up for purported news organizations.

The most egregious example of this is the recent furor over an emergency at the nation’s southern border, which has been roundly refuted by those actually controlling the border and every other news organization. Again, there are many in the Republican Party and even the White House staff who see the entire episode as classic Trump hyperbole, but by in large has received legitimate “coverage” on FOX News, including the election-period nonsense about invading caravans of illegal alien criminals, and the completely made up figures of drug trafficking, et al. Whether the argument about border security is lacking or is fine or whatever is up for debate, but a crisis? No. Yet it is covered as such by FOX, which is regurgitating the paranoid musings of a lunatic as a legitimate story. Either way it is not news and therefore cannot be considered a source of news. In the end, it cannot be allowed to do newsy things like moderate debates.

Bill Sammon, managing editor of Fox News’s Washington bureau, recently referenced poor Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, Shepard Smith and Martha MacCallum as those who “embody the ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism.” This is true in the sense that those are sincere reporters who find themselves besmirched by their affiliation with this clown show. Problem is if they are truly pros they would not only quit FOX but go on a pilgrimage to stop these embarrassingly pro-Trump-or bust tactics. They can stay if they wish. I shall not. And apparently those not named Donald Trump, who have a choice to be covered by legitimate news outlets, will not either. And who can blame them?

Enough with FOX News.

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