THE SCALIA BOMB

Aquarian Weekly
2/24/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE SCALIA BOMB

Once the death of ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was announced late on February 13, the wheels of political discourse, the fluidity of the 2016 presidential campaign, and the very core of the United States Constitution was put into play. No matter how this is handled, and chances are very good they will be handled poorly by the current members of the senate and our sitting president, his name, legacy and his vast and prominent ideological shadow will nonetheless hover.

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Elections have consequences.

We have all heard that spouted over and over throughout our lives come campaign time – whether a battle for municipal comptroller, dogcatcher or president of the United States. To the winner goes the spoils – the will of the people is paramount.

To wit: In 2012, Barack Obama, the duly re-elected president of United States, was given the right and responsibility by a majority of the electorate to appoint a Supreme Court judge in the event of retirement, which he has already done twice (Sonia Maria Sotomayor – 2009, Elena Kagan – 2010), and certainly if one is suddenly vacant. This is clearly framed in the Constitution. The idea put forth by Republican members of the senate or political rhetoric by GOP candidates that they will not consider his nominee or to refuse to even vote on said nominee is patently unconstitutional.

Now, of course, no one argues that it is the role of the senate to set parameters and hold hearings and even (wink, wink) stall or filibuster this process, but to arbitrarily state the chief executive, with an entire eleven months remaining in his presidency, cannot appoint a nominee for an empty seat on the Supreme Court is to ignore the will of the people to its elected president, and therefore I argue, treasonous.

If Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell had just merely said, “We’ll see” and let the process play out in the predictably obstructionist environment largely conducted by the congress over the past five years into January of 2017, then all is fair. But he did not. Like his bluster about “making Obama a first term president” and leading the charge to obstruct the agenda voted on by the majority of the American public twice in the past seven years, this reeks of partisan pettiness and ideological gridlock; the very reasons why an Independent socialist and a TV star businessman are the currently leading candidates for both major political parties.

Having stated the obvious, President Obama needs to be careful here. Back in 2006, then Senator Obama joined 24 Democrats to filibuster George W. Bush’s nominee, Samuel Alito. Obviously, Alito became a justice, but it did not come “smoothly”, as the president has challenged the senate this week. And so must the Republicans, in and out of the senate, tread lightly, as this false notion that not in 80 years has a president gotten a justice confirmed for the Supreme Court as Texas Senator erroneously blurted out during presidential debate in South Carolina. It happened six times in the twentieth century alone, the latest, Ronald Reagan’s 1987 appointment of Anthony Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson nominated two people in 1968, after announcing he would not seek re-election – Justice Abe Fortas to the Chief Justice position vacated by Earl Warren. But, of course, you could pack Yankee Stadium with what Cruz doesn’t know about constitutional history.

One thing Cruz, the president, and every Republican, Democrat and Independent on this continent understand is how monumental the Supreme Court has been over the past thirty years deciding on the most pressing social, economic and domestic issues of our day. It is the looming third branch of government, as laid out by the framers of this republic. Its decisions, however controversial, have shaped our history and solidified our Bill of Rights against the tide of painfully slow-moving progress.

However much they hold this fight dear, this is a huge gamble for Republicans, who are underdogs in any general election which gives any Democrat at least 244 very likely electoral votes before a single poll opens. Not to mention it fires up a Democratic electorate that is half as jacked as Republicans, who have only achieved the popular vote once (2004, G.W. Bush) since 1988 (H.W. Bush).

The idea put forth by Republican members of the senate or political rhetoric by GOP candidates that they will not consider his nominee or to refuse to even vote on said nominee is patently unconstitutional.

At least Obama will be forced to send a moderate to the senate, unless he decides to make this political, which he could very well do, which again, will embolden the left and the growing majority of independents with more progressive social concerns. And should the victor be Hillary Clinton or (gulp!) Bernie Sanders the nominee would in no way, shape or form resemble a moderate. It will be as liberal as Scalia was conservative, and that choice will have post-election political capital not available to a lame duck president. Say what you wish about Barack Obama, but listening to these stump speeches and watching the Democratic debates, he is a country mile farther to the center than either Sanders or Clinton.

This election also includes the “swing” factor – the amount of Republican seats up for grabs (24) dwarfs the ten the Democrats have to defend. There is only a four-seat majority that Republicans are likely to lose and thus hand the senate back to the Democrats.

But beyond a very risky and potentially gut-wrenching political gamble, it is the duty of the senate must hold hearings on an Obama nominee. Cease this childish and unconstitutional whining and do your job.

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MISTAH CHRISTIE – HE DEAD

Aquarian Weekly
2/17/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

MISTAH CHRISTIE – HE DEAD

Our mostly absentee governor has returned home utterly and completely defeated. His over one-year, suicidal presidential campaign, beginning in scandal with the so-called “Bridge-Gate”, which will go to trial this spring, ended with barely whimper on February 10, 2016, when the usually blustery and confrontational blowhard meekly announced the suspension of his campaign on Facebook, like the sagging, middle-aged dink he turned out to be on the big stage.

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Chris Christie’s career of garnering votes to continue culling a paycheck are no more. He will likely spend more absentee weeks and months brokering a deal with the Republican Party’s presidential frontrunner to try and get a cabinet position or a cushy federal government gig he so brazenly dismisses as some sort of welfare, because, as a serious candidate for anything going forward or certainly the final lame-duck years of his governance here in the Garden State, he is done and done.

Five years ago Christie was the darling of the national political scene. He was a mostly moderate, hard-talking, straight-shooting Republican governor of a heavy blue state and seemed to have the ear of the national party donation-class. He was begged by the party to head up a challenge to the increasingly shaky prospect of a Barack Obama second term. The Republican National Committee was certain that Obama was ripe to be taken down, and you know what – they were right. A strong candidate that could appeal to the TEA party anger of the base and help pull in moderates while bridging the gap to the all-important general election was paramount. Christie had all of these attributes in spades.

Christie, to his credit, recognized, that he had barely gotten things going here – and by that I mean fucking them up – so he declined several times citing that he was just not ready, or more dramatically, “It’s not my time.” Republican elites turned to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He was summarily hounded through a long and mostly pointless primary season by also-rans and nut cases before being roundly defeated by Obama, a stunning victory for a man with the highest unemployment rate and lowest re-election approval ratings for a sitting president in two generations.

Around this time, Hurricane Sandy devastated the state and Christie committed the sin of all sins; welcoming the “despised” president of the United States warmly. He was photographed surveying the carnage with him while petitioning the federal government (gulp!) for aid. This was seen among the thug-class as being some kind of anathema, and Christie began to see backlash. Nonetheless he was reelected in 2013 and seemed poised for a 2016 run.

However, my covering of the ensuing months into this primary year, I could not find a single soul who considered Christie’s run for president realistic. It appeared as if he just joined the gaggle of other mediocre governors and some crazies to muck up the lanes. It did not help in the least that another north-eastern big mouth bully completely upstaged him at every turn. Donald Trump, as he has done to most everything that people hold dear in the political realm, eviscerated the Christie purpose for running. He was bold. He was confrontational. He was politically incorrect. Christie looked liked a sad Jersey fat man screaming at a woman to shut up on CSPAN whilst in some incredible half-baked karma Trump appeared as a polished professional wrestling version of Don Rickles with money.

Turns out Christie’s finest moment was his final one on the stump. For ten crucial minutes on Saturday, February 6, he mentally broke Florida Senator Marco Rubio. During the ABC nationally televised debate, Christie took the young candidate apart; no small feat, since he was surging as the only establishment alternative to Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz only days before. Rubio had finished strong in Iowa and looked like he might make big noise and get big bucks heading into the New Hampshire vote. In classic Christie fashion, he laid into Rubio’s robotic responses to everything and for some odd reason that no one can still explain with any clarity Rubio provided ample and staggeringly stark examples of this. Christie pressed harder, himself looking like a Terminator machine, but an obviously damaged Rubio kept saying the same thing over and over and over until he was buried in the voting a few days later and remains on life support.

But this did not help Christie, who has no money and no support and was mostly a drive-by candidate – not quite the pathetic visage of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, but pretty awful. But like Jindal, Christie is a shitty governor with shitty approval ratings, hovering around 29 percent with a state fiscally downgraded seven times in the past year and half for being broke and incapable of paying bills. My property taxes here go up exponentially on the hour and our unemployment rate is a point higher than the national average, which while being far better than when the economy was struggling, still blows when you consider the state’s geographical proximity to New York, (unemployment rate there is one point better under a Democratic governor).

Now, if I have to deal with a Republican lecturing me on austerity and having the social issue flexibility of a 1950’s Alabaman statesman, I expect my taxes to go down.

If Christie is not taking the federal Medicaid expansion as part of the ACA because he is trying to win the GOP nomination, then why am I paying to supplement Ohio’s medical costs, as that state’s republican governor – incidentally still in the race – John Kasich takes his? Why do I have to hear this jack ass herald state’s rights and then blather on about how if he were president he would use the FBI to enforce federal law over states who have legalized marijuana? Why is it that a man born one day before me and lived through my generation goes hard-line against marriage equality after the Supreme Court deemed it legal, or say he abolished Common Core when my kid is still dong math conceived by a cyber-metric shut-in? If I have to deal with a governor who defunds Planned Parenthood and extends bear hunts in our beautiful part of the state to double the massacre of these spectacular creatures, I do not want to get raped on school taxes.

not quite the pathetic visage of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, but pretty awful

Fuck Chris Christie.

He is as useless as a titted bull and twice as stupid on Sunday.

We can only hope whoever wins this Republican nomination gets brain damage and puts him on the ticket so he can spend his days cutting ribbons and get the fuck out of my state.

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EXPLAINING BERNIE SANDERS

Aquarian Weekly
2/10/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

EXPLAINING BERNIE SANDERS

Like the Donald Trump phenomenon, there was a time, not long ago, that it seemed complete madness to consider a 74 year-old, Jewish, self-described Democratic Socialist, who is not even a member of the Democratic Party, as a serious candidate for president of the United States. But we are through the looking glass now, people. Somewhere between the 99% drum-circle and the tri-corner-hat-sporting TEA Party rancor we’ve got some wild cards here. And if I have learned one thing about the early weeks of presidential primaries, you do not ignore the zeitgeist. It is best to observe it from as far as you possibly can without completely detaching yourself. Study its habits. Understand its vagaries. Come to grips. Do not dismiss. Engage. This is how one approaches the 2016 candidacy of Bernie Sanders.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Speak At DNC Summer Meeting In Minneapolis

Let’s face it, the little-known eight-year Vermont senator stumbled onto the scene this past summer in front of a gaggle of reporters and a couple of supporters to announce he would be a left-wing alternative to the otherwise centrist/moderate massive favorite, Hillary Clinton. This is despite the narrative (one I have been willing to subscribe to) that after the unexpected humiliation of 2008 and a stint as Secretary of State, the former first lady and New York Senator would once again take her mantle as Madam Shoo-In and this time, absent a rock star against her, coast to the Democratic nomination and await whatever Republican fodder was left standing for her to demolish.

But not even Sanders, an over 50-year veteran of action politics, both in and out of the system, could have imagined the type of ire from progressives the Barack Obama presidency has wrought. While the president has been taking heavy fire from the right all these years, a growing contention to his secret wars, the failure to close Gitmo, the slow “evolution” on marriage equality, the utter lack of legal action against the perpetrators of the worst economic collapse in generations, an anti-working class, anti-union trade deal with China, and a half-hearted attempt to address the messy immigration issue (not to mention record deportations) was brewing on his left. But that is only half of what put Sanders in the game.

Young people love socialism. I did. Loved it. From 1983 to the almost the end of the decade I was indeed a socialist. I registered as such. It got so bad that I was still receiving literature from socialist groups way into the 1990s. Then I started to get published regularly. And it is difficult to explain the kind of pure, almost religious fervor socialists exude when you do not write like a socialist. It gets ugly. Not exactly like leaving the mafia or the CIA, but ideologically it’s close. Nonetheless, I was openly an intellectual, pragmatic socialist, primarily because I was, or fancied myself an artist. I would have loved free education, and free health care, and a safety net to write my poetry and play my songs in my rock and roll band, and ignore all this “working for the man” nonsense. Then I got to Arthur Koestler and what I called the holy trilogy; The Ghost in the Machine (Thanks, Sting), The Act of Creation and Suicide of a Nation. I dare anyone under the age of 25 to absorb that stuff and not decry capitalism.

Be that as it may, kids love socialism. It is getting so now that young people at Sanders’ packed-to the-rafters rallies have openly told reporters they are socialist, not “democrat socialist”, as Sanders likes to frame it, but socialist. And I doubt a single one of them have heard of Arthur Koestler, or maybe even listened to The Police. But, you see, young people start movements. This is what they do. They look like they are coming and you are going and that is the cool thing about being young, where ideology is attached to you like a tattoo and means something more than just watching your wallet or a fear of change or a fear of national implosion, which is all the rage for the Trump “movement”.

But make no mistake; while Barack Obama’s historical campaign was instilled with a generational, cultural and certainly racial shift, this is pure “against’ campaigning that Sanders had tapped into. He is against the greed of pure capitalism, the idea that it has winners and losers and the losers, of which there is an overwhelming majority, eat shit. And why should it eat shit when it is nine-tenths of the electorate? Why don’t the pharmaceutical companies eat shit, or the oil cartel, or the Wall Street speculators, or the silver-spoon, yuppie assholes?

Here is Sanders’ opening statement at a New Hampshire Debate on January 4:

“Millions of Americans are giving up on the political process. And they’re giving up on the political process because they understand the economy is rigged.

They are working longer hours for low wages. They’re worried about the future of their kids, and yet almost all new income and wealth is going to the top one percent. Not what America is supposed to be about. Not the fairness that we grew up believing that America was about. And then sustaining that rigged economy is a corrupt campaign finance system undermining American democracy, where billionaire, Wall Street, corporate America can contribute unlimited sums of money into super PACs and into candidates.

Our job, together, is to end a rigged economy, create an economy that works for all, and absolutely overturn Citizens United. One person, one vote. That’s what American democracy is about.”

if, like in youth, a campaign in the chilly winds of February cannot dream, then there is simply no point to democracy.

That sounds pretty good. Sure. The economy is in fact rigged. Fairness is a joke. (But to be fair, unless Sanders is from Planet Ork, it has always kind of been a joke). All this free college and free health care and taxing Wall Street is pie-in-the-sky and it is starting to irk the Democratic Party and their frontrunner, like Trump, and to a lesser extent, Senator Ted Cruz is bugging the Republican Party establishment. But just like building a wall that Mexico is going to pay for or abolishing the IRS are pipe dreams for the right, Sanders taps into something visceral now. And if, like in youth, a campaign in the chilly winds of February cannot dream, then there is simply no point to democracy.

Alas, it is all but a dream. Once this thing moves down the road, candidates like Sanders and Trump and Cruz take their medicine at one point or another in the trek. Once in a blue moon a Barry Goldwater or a George McGovern emerges in a fractured time to make their stand and then gets crushed in the general election.

There is certainly something weird and binding about these “anti” candidates, especially Bernie Sanders. There is something lying dormant in the political psyche that has been awoken. What that is exactly, or what it proves ultimately, escapes me. I have, if you have followed this space lo these past 18 years, long since abandoned absolute political fervor. No one is sending me literature. I mostly like Koestler’s fiction now. So I shall stand at my post and observe from a safe distance, take notes, and comment verily on the fallout.

There is always fallout.

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THE NAKED EMPEROR VS THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN

Aquarian Weekly
2/3/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE NAKED EMPEROR VS THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
How Donald Trump’s Political Farce Uncovered Political Farce

It is extremely rare that we are treated to true political theater. So much of it is fabricated, which is the entire point of political theater, really. However, every once and awhile comes an unexpected series of events that transpires, as they did over the past 72 hours, which defies the gravity of our system. And if you are lucky, these series of events reveal much about what is phony and pathetic. Such a thing has occurred and it forced me to trash what I was writing and write something else. Not quite stop-the-presses, but annoying just the same.

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Citizen Donald J. Trump, the presidential nominee front-runner of the over 150 year-old Republican Party saw fit to boycott his party’s final “debate” in a state holding the first voting for the 2016 campaign five days hence. He did so in protest over who would be moderating said “debate” and embroiled himself in combat with easily the most important media outlet in the Republican field. In protest, Trump held a competing event merely five miles away, covered by any and all remaining networks, which he thrashed together in a day. The “debate”, more a showcase (as noted in this column previously several times) in it does not allow for true point-counter-point argument of ideas to be presented as alternatives to each other, was hosted by the most powerful media voice of the right wing, FOX NEWS, a conglomerate so effective at propaganda it has shifted the very concept of television news irreparably for the rest of existence.

It is important to understand the gravity of this battle. Both FOX NEWS and Donald Trump live in the same fantasy stratosphere. In fact, they thrive in it. And when annoying things like factoids become an inconvenience to your mission statement, then it is nearly catastrophic when a similar, completely delusional force pushes back.

Trump, a man who lives by his own moral structure that is first and foremost arbitrated by him, accused a network whose promotional tagline is “Fair & Balanced” of unfairness. This shook its very foundation. Just think of every Twilight Zone you’ve ever seen. For 28 of the 30 minutes you think, along with the character, that you are somewhere or having an entirely different experience than the one that is actually transpiring, which sends shock waves through both and then cut to the credits. This was FOX NEWS last week. “What? Agenda? Fixed? Conflating news with ham-fisted talking points? Using actual events to generate an already decided-upon, self-serving narrative?”

Please try and grasp the horrifying beauty of this: the Republican front-runner, who leads in every poll imaginable over at least a dozen states, has made FOX NEWS stand trial for the very thing it was created to achieve.

For its part, FOX NEWS rightly defended its “journalist”, Megyn Kelly against Trump’s insistence that she was unfair to him in a previous showcase and could not be one of the moderators. However, Kelly is no longer a journalist. She gave up that title when she became a talk-show host. In a way, Trump uncovered one of my pet-peeves, which is why are talk show hosts dolled up and put in front of presidential candidates as if this were American Idol (three of them sitting at a table before the stage, get it?), when there are capable campaign trail reporters that know the candidates and the issues being pushed on the stump? Because it is a show, that’s why. Big name talk-show hosts of every cable network get their time in the spotlight to promote the network while the network pushes the personalities that drive said network. After the first debate, FOX NEWS crowed about record ratings like something straight out of Paddy Chayefsky’s Network. The reason for the big ratings – as if this is some kind of reality show and not a chance for voters to choose a presidential candidate – was Donald Trump. Trump knew this and took his basketball home. The first thing out of the candidate’s mouth was, “Watch their commercial ad rates drop now!”

And one very important abomination was unwittingly uncovered during this whole wonderful fiasco. Trump ostensibly held his event as a fundraiser for veterans. Interestingly, many veterans’ charity groups boycotted Trump by stating he was grandstanding by using veterans as a political tool. This argument, while it is most likely true, makes no sense on the face of it. Why would an organization created to get contributions ignore someone holding an event to do just that unless you were against them ideologically and/or politically and therefore you are in reverse also using veterans as tools?

when annoying things like factoids become an inconvenience to your mission statement, then it is nearly catastrophic when a similar, completely delusional force pushes back.

But that is not the kicker; where our little stripping bare of the disgusting nature of our collective fantasyland gets real is the mere fact that we, a nation obsessed with war, leave our veterans to need charity groups to care for them. We always seem to find the tax money to “bomb them back to the stones age” or “make the sand glow” or “shock and awe” and “boots on the ground” all over the place, but we have nothing in the budget to deal with the fallout?

This is the ugly truth of this country, which is always quick to go into war and yell about war and defense and supporting our troops, but the veterans of these national sins are left to beg for supper? How do we call this the greatest country on earth in the face of it? How do we brag on our exceptional nature and wave our flags with so much gusto while this goes on? All that money spent on making war and apparently none of it left to face its gory results?

In the rarest of times political theater provides us much needed clarity.

This one sure as hell did.

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WHY DONALD TRUMP MUST BE THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE

Aquarian Weekly
1/27/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

WHY DONALD TRUMP MUST BE THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE

For the first time in my lifetime, which has settled into its fifty-third year now, no new candidate running for president of the United States has dominated the media landscape, the rhetorical space, and, most importantly, the polls the way citizen Donald J. Trump has done, consistently and without waver. However, this is not why he needs to be the Republican nominee to run for the highest office in the land. It is because he embodies the emotional core of the anti-establishment bent that has gripped the GOP since the summer of 2010, when the TEA Party emerged out of the grassroots and was co-opted by the Republican establishment to win elections and take back the congress. Only this movement did little to curtail the “despised” Barack Obama agenda and still appears to be a flaccid sub-committee of goofballs screaming into a vacuum; mostly powerless and annoying. Trump, like no other GOP candidate in this race, can actually do what these people want, throw a grenade into the establishment and crack the concept of modern American governance.

Donald Trump

Like many of the TEA Party candidates ushered through the system like little revolutionaries in 2010 and 2012, Trump is not a politician. And to hear him speak for two minutes on the subject, you realize he has no idea how anything works to this end. Yet, Trump defies the very real argument that these types of candidates are mostly the result of redistricting and gerrymandering and merely work on local levels and once you expand the message nationally it is weak and ineffectual, as Obama proved in 2012 by getting re-elected with the largest margin for a Democrat since FDR in 1944. Trump is national, as the polls have reflected for half a year now.

Until September of this past year, the whole Trump thing was mainly a product of media fascination, as the candidate appeared on every television and radio show imaginable and said anything that popped into his skull, tweeting at a record pace, even for a high school kid, and capturing the imagination and good humor of the news class. But the skepticism that this is somehow a passing fad should now be put to bed, yet somehow it is not. There is still a very large segment of the media, both left and right, as well as the electorate that believe it is only a matter of time when everyone wakes up and realizes Trump is a rich, spoiled reality television star, whose actual record in real estate is not as nifty as the image, and his overtly combative language will sink him.

his has not happened. In fact, it has emboldened him and his supporters, and spiked his poll numbers at every turn. Thus, Trump has already thrown a grenade into the system. There is not one part of the political machine that normally pervades our discourse that Trump has not obliterated. He is the ultimate outlier. No one, and I mean no one, not even the candidate has a fucking clue what he is about or capable of or what may happen as a result. This all portends that he has the will and the legs to do the same should he be cast upon the general election or by weird happenstance be elected. Below all the bluster and grandstanding and half-assed malapropos, this is as independent a candidate as anyone has ever gotten. He is a monstrous construct of Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and John Anderson, all men I have voted for as independents. You get the feeling if this were 2008 and the country was lined up against a sitting two-term Republican administration yearning for change, then Trump would have declared as a Democrat. Trump is not about ideology or party politics, he is about Trump. His cult of personality knows no bounds or origin, it just is.

Without much argument, Trump is the only non-political candidate, save for religious loon, Dr. Ben Carson, and abject business failure, Carly Fiorina in the bunch. Calling Ted Cruz, a political hack who has spent his entire professional life in the public sector or phony TEA Party champion, Marco Rubio, nurtured at the teat of dynastic poltico, Jeb Bush outsiders is akin to Al Gore’s claim in 2000 that he was a reformer, despite being the sitting vice president for two terms. These are men who do whatever the political winds hint within their right-leaning sphere. Cruz is supposed to be a strict constitutional constructionist or as he puts it, an “originalist”, but when confronted with his in-eligibility to run for the office based on the 1788 construct of “natural born citizen” he cites a 1934 Supreme Court decision, while at the same time challenging the legitimacy of the Supreme Court in interpreting the ACA or marriage equality. He is a dyed-in-the-wool politician – sounds, looks, and smells like one. He is currently in the senate, which is located in Washington and bankrolls the government. Please.

Trump also dwarfs the rest of the field in this “grenade throwing” edict. Chris Christie is about as awful a governor as one could possibly have; a social conservative who cannot control his fiscal house. We are taxed to death while being lectured on morality. You want a competent governor, vote for John Kasich, but he’s been in government since the 1980s, so he’s out.

As a free-thinking, libertine independent, who mainly believes that politics is some kind of merry fuck-around for my own amusement and does little to affect my mainly sub-outlaw existence, there is no contest in the realm of a completely wild card candidate like Trump. On the far left you have Bernie Sanders, who espouses a failed government-controlled economic restructuring of wealth based on this illusion of fairness. The man has been in the United States congress in one form or another since Madonna was hip. On the far right you have the aforementioned political recidivists, who clamor for the same failed laissez faire/trickle-down nonsense.

Trump, like no other GOP candidate in this race, can actually do what these people want, throw a grenade into the establishment and crack the concept of modern American governance.

Trump has no failed ideological albatross. He is Trump. No one has a fucking clue what or who that is.

Grenade.

If independents and Republicans and even those of us curious to see the system broken into pieces for a lark are truly serious, then Donald Trump has to be a candidate for president.

It is going to be Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. Regardless of this Sanders daydream the leftist media has cooked up of his “surge” and the even more outlandish indictment jones the right media clings to. Write it down. Hillary Clinton is your other choice. No more an entrenched politician exists in this whole mess.

This is the contrast this republic was created to witness.

And this only happens if Trump is the Republican nominee.

Let’s see how serious we are about tossing a grenade into this thing.

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GUNS: MONEY, POLITICS & HYPERBOLE

Aquarian Weekly

1/13/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

GUNS: MONEY, POLITICS & HYPERBOLE

If my December 9 column, MASS SHOOTING IN SAN BERNADINO, or as it is better known among the faithful, “Blah, blah, blah…” is any indication, I, nor anyone else have anything new or particularly salient to say about guns and violence in this country. I have written at least fifty or more columns since 1997 detailing basic human nature, the price and sacrifice relative freedom puts upon its citizenry, and the sordid history of this nation, and so there will be nothing in here approaching the cause or half-baked swipe at solutions to the inordinate amount of guns we enjoy or the misuse of said guns.Executive Vice President of the NRA LaPierre holds a 300 Remington Ultra Mag that was auctioned off after he gave the keynote address at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah

What we will discuss now, in the wake of our president’s recent emotional speech at the White House and live CNN town hall, and finally, and more importantly, his executive actions to curtail the mass shootings and illegal and surreptitious flow of weapons throughout the United States, is the way in which the specter of all this is good business in several corners of our society.

I see this issue as nothing more than a pathetic off-shoot of Prohibition or the woeful failure of the War on Drugs or any other debate on the symptoms of our nature.

Staying with Barack Obama for a moment; the notion that this president is not a big fan of guns is not some kind of myth, like his Islamic leanings or his country of origin or the completely outlandish notion that what may be the most Wall Street-friendly president since Herbert Hoover is some kind of closet socialist. With an accommodating congress, I do believe there would be stricter gun laws under this president. Now, some progressives may argue that this did not occur despite two years of a Democratic-controlled legislature, but I counter with a fairly sizable economic stimulus package, an unprecedented auto-industry bail-out, and the Affordable Care Act taking up the lion’s share of progressive agenda. And even though this general disdain for the gun fetish does not immediately roll over into the narrative that Obama has a secret plan to take anyone’s guns away, (we’ll get to that line of bullshit later), it is real and must be included in any analysis of the issue.

So, if Obama wishes to try and appear neutral here, it is silly and false. His previous words, actions, and his not-so-subtle notions that federal intervention on the gun issue are well documented. When he denies it, I cringe. He is not being the least bit honest and that’s okay, for if he were honest an already manically paranoid segment of the electorate would go further off the deep end.

This obvious anti-gun stance or at very least misunderstanding of the excitably fervent pro-gun contingent appears to be a real threat to those who do not wish to budge on any infringement on the Second Amendment, even though very few who argue this know anything about the Second Amendment. I cannot say I do not hold a similar if not militant defense of the First Amendment, as I have spent my adult life openly fighting against any sort of systemic censorship; banned books, jailed comedians, movie ratings, music-warning stickers, over-reach by an un-elected FCC or Christian robots robbing me of my right to free expression and to absorb others is my myopic passion. So, I get it.

And although I rate Obama’s recent White House speech on a measured approach to increasing background checks and closing gun-show loopholes as a minor but at least positive step in perhaps toning down the nearly 30,000 gun-related deaths in this country as one of his best, it is a spit in the wind. And I am not going out on a limb to guess that he knows this by his repeated mention that if he can save one life he is pleased. So of course you applaud a president in approaching this rare level of political bravery (although this is less heroic in the face of his being a lame duck with no other elections to win like his “evolving” on a civil rights issue for marriage equality in his 50s’), because behind Social Security, the American gun owner is our political third-rail. However, this may appease the nine out of ten Americans who support stricter gun laws and even the eight out of ten Republicans not strangled by the NRA gun lobby who agree, it is not a real solution, and so I scoff.

You see, despite the fact that it appears every five seconds someone kills someone else with a gun, and that virulent police activity has gone goofy, violent crimes in this country, including gun-related, have been reduced considerably in the last half-century. According to FBI reports, “The number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly to the lowest rate in nearly 40 years. In all regions, the country appears to be safer. The odds of being murdered or robbed are now less than half of what they were in the early 1990s, when violent crime peaked in the United States. Small towns, especially, are seeing far fewer murders: In cities with populations under 10,000, the number has plunged by more than 25 percent.”

So this latest maneuver by Obama is pure politics; sloppy and unhinged, but it pales in comparison to the NRA, who have a fail-safe measure to cash in on tragedy and mayhem like no other time in its existence.

The NRA has used its own perpetuating myth of Obama’s scourge on gun owners (by in large gun laws have widely expanded during his administration) by ramping up sales due to the pending idea that if one does not stock up, one will be without. Every time the president has merely mentioned guns in a speech the NRA sends out email blasts and unleashes its executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre on television to rally more sales. It is brilliant, Madison Avenue type propaganda, which I applaud from a purely business standpoint, but it is hogwash, and LaPiere knows it.

LaPiere and the NRA do not care about guns rights or the Second Amendment. They care about serving their gun manufacturing masters by selling as many guns as possible.

The reason why I am sure of this is simply because he is adamant in applying guns to every measure of incident, weather terrorist or government overreach or mini-militia or you name it. You don’t get to be vice president of anything, especially a group funded for and manipulated by the gun industry, without seizing an opportunity to sell, sell, sell. As much as Obama jumps aboard every mass shooting as if an opportunity to squeeze political sympathy towards his cause, the NRA, led in public relations by LaPiere, brings up the insane idea that by buying more guns and thus arming everyone in sight that these random shootings will be abridged – as if people would come to Christmas parties armed to the teeth or kindergarten children packing, or any person generally minding their own business who are gunned down by a psycho because mommy didn’t love them or the Lithium is too expensive can be averted by buying lots of guns.

This whole thing is a con.

this latest maneuver by Obama is pure politics; sloppy and unhinged, but it pales in comparison to the NRA, who have a fail-safe measure to cash in on tragedy and mayhem like no other time in its existence.

Small leans on gun laws or people buying more guns will do nothing to stop or even restrict the very thing that prompts these “debates” (by this we mean opportunities to con), period.

It is a con.

We are being conned from both ends.

Accept this premise, and then perhaps we can secure our own responsibility in this.

Not before.

For that angle, please refer to the 50 previous columns I’ve written.

Blah, blah, blah…

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MASS SHOOTING IN SAN BERNADINO

Aquarian Weekly
12/9/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

MASS SHOOTING IN SAN BERNADINO

Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Blah. Blah blah blah,blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah Blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

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BLAH BLAH BLAH! BLAH BLAH BLAH!

Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah Blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blh blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah Blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah Blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

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BLAH BLAH BLAH! BLAH BLAH BLAH!

Blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah.

Blah.

Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah Blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blh blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah Blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Blah blah Blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah, blah blah?

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APRES PARIS LE DELUGE

Aquarian Weekly
11/25/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

APRES PARIS LE DELUGE
Look, Ma, Everyone Has Gone Crazy…Again

Be afraid of the lame, they’ll inherit your legs
Be afraid of the old, they’ll inherit your souls
Be afraid of the cold, they’ll inherit your blood
Apres moi le deluge, after me comes the flood

– Regina Spektor

I think it was my then managing editor, Chris Uhl, who aptly named this column Reality Check. I wanted to name it Fear No Art, but he was the managing editor and I gave in, but got him back by titling my first published collection of columns and essays Fear No Art in 2000; the one where I predict 9/11 and implore the United States government to make Osama bin Laden its number one priority in 1998. Ah, it’s all ancient history now. But, you see, it’s not. Uhl, it turns out, was correct. It is indeed time for a reality check, while also reminding ourselves of what lies in the shadows when we choose to ignore cold, sober fact and replace it with brush-fire panic.

paris-nov-13-2015

The tragedy in Paris last Friday was horrifying; one might say, terrifying, which is the whole point of terrorism.

It certainly has unleashed the crazy in many of us.

And one cannot merely blame French President Francois Hollande, who has gone all Dick Cheney this week or the United States congress and more than two dozen governors, who have decided to ignore the fancy U.S. Constitution they’re always touting as sacrosanct to arbitrarily reject 10,000 Syrian refugees or our president, who has become queerly dismissive and condescending, or the host of presidential candidates, many of whom are running dying campaigns, making desperate attempts to appear tough or anti-Muslim or whatever claptrap plays in the sticks; one must look at us – 75 percent of whom wanted nothing to do with this nut house in the Middle East again just two weeks ago to a neck-wrenching u-turn of 65 percent wanting blood.

Oh, how nostalgia runs deep.

We’ve been here before. Of course ours was a first strike, shocking beyond belief, and within our borders. We had spent a half century whistling along while our government played chess with the Middle East and we consumed the oil as if a bottomless bounty with no consequences. So we went completely spastic; trading in civil rights and trampling on law, and invading everything. Now we know better; or maybe we don’t. Either way, we all need to calm the fuck down.

Here’s how I see the Paris attacks; a desperate attempt for a suddenly flummoxed and barely structured organization, ISIS, whose original edict or caliphate or religious falderal that hides behind maniacs with lives so spectacularly empty they trade them in for “a cause”, no more pathetic an existence can be conjured by human thought, has been seriously curtailed over the past few months. ISIS is not used to losing. It is losing.

As published here on 7/22 (THE IRAN DEAL AND THE SECRET WAR ON ISIS) and again on 10/7 (SYRIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST EITHER/OR THEORY) the days of the growing ISIS movement are over. The Paris attack not only does not alter this opinion, it strengthens it.

If one had money on ISIS, as if a sporting event, or looks at it as one might with the long-view of an historical eye; visa vie the Nazis making what appeared at the time as merely another aggressive move towards the East and the Soviet Union at the height of its power, which turned out to indeed be the beginning of the end for them, then it is easy to see that this maneuver serves no strategic purpose for its progress. Hitting a major European city, especially one that heretofore had no skin in the game but was merely the easiest target because of a) its normal unrest, b) its large Muslim population, and c) its borders are a sieve, only makes it more difficult for ISIS to complete its mission; unless of course it hopes as a last resort to turn the tide by terrorizing the efforts to thwart it.

Let’s remember, the original aim a of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), was the return of territories (which they see as holy), once robbed by centuries of progress (wholly Western created) to a 12th or 14th or whatever century construct in the name of Allah and Muhammad… blah, blah, blood on your children, Biblical/Qur’an stupidity. This had nothing to do with the al Qaeda model of striking a blow against infidels abroad. ISIS was not global, it was primeval territoriality. Then the United States decided to send in humanitarian aid to assist refugees on a mountain in early August of 2014. Only then did Americans appear on videos being beheaded. This caused a predictable stir here and got the John McCains of the world riled up. Of course a stiff wind motivates McCain to invade someone, which is why I thank the god Baal on a daily basis that bleating lunatic was never president. Moreover, the current president began yammering on about “red lines in the sand” in Syria and put us squarely into its cultural civil war, which stars a brutal dictator (a dime a dozen in the Middle East), President Bashar Assad, who is a puppet of the Russian government and its own brutal dictator, Vladimir Putin.

You see, “getting involved” is a bad move. It’s too late, of course. We’re involved. To what extent, we’ll see. I know two things for sure; 1) once Barack Obama exits stage left, there is no one currently running for his job that has a hoot-in-hell of winning it that will not get us more involved than him, on both sides of the political aisle, and 2) the progress and aim of ISIS is coming to a close.

Now we know better; or maybe we don’t. Either way, we all need to calm the fuck down.

It will not take months or even a year to complete, because its rise and expansion has taken decades-plus, as ISIS has transformed and morphed in some way shape or form since the late-90s. But whatever the hell it was trying to ultimately accomplish is pretty much done. And every time they conjure up a Paris or a Libya or the failed attempt in Germany, it speeds up its demise.

Sure, there is going to be some lone wacko who walks into a café or bar in New York or Washington or London to try and take a few of us out for “the cause”, but that is our world now; just as it is on a far greater scale that some gun-nut finds his way into a school to shoot a bunch of kids. And don’t think destroying ISIS destroys religious-motivate hatred anymore than the Pope talking about the church being horrified by priests raping children will halt that.

Apres moi le deluge.

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THIS REVOLUTION IS TELEVISED

Aquarian Weekly
11/11/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THIS REVOLUTION IS TELEVISED
Pre-Holiday Conflict In The Republican Party Fuels Presidential Campaigns

Word I’m getting from those on the inside is that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is back on the sauce. His drinking problem, which began to rear its ugly head around this time four years ago, has returned with a Hemmingway-like vengeance. Only this time he doesn’t have a minor core of religious nuts or gun goofballs to deal with, while desperately trying to adhere to a 2012 post-mortem declaration by big-money donors and establishment voices to make the next national GOP candidate electable. This time he is facing a full-out revolt, not just ideologically, but quite literally.

RNC-debate

For the first time in distant memory all the current Republican presidential campaigns met in private this past week to cobble together demands on how the party will represent their needs; specifically in these showcases dressed up as debates. These included, among other key issues, the choosing of softball moderators and the temperature in the venues. The consensus is that Priebus has not had their “interests” in mind – whatever a collective of fourteen’s general interests may be. The byproduct of this is the lost-cause campaigns that are not yet polling at one-percent, like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former New York Governor George Pataki, Rick Santorum, and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who want out of the kiddie-table, pre-showcase debates to bloat an already crowded stage of ten, with every candidate getting equal time.

All of the campaigns want these things to be two hours, during which they are allotted four minutes at the top and the conclusion to speechify. This, of course, would give each candidate about additional six minutes to differentiate themselves from the field, but only if those differentiations do not include stupid things they say or stand for.

Most of this blew up after CNBC ran a clown show that turned into a whine-fest about the liberal media and then an out-right cry-baby complaint department. Even the declared winner (if there could be such a thing in these insipidly devised events) Marco Rubio, the mostly absentee senator from Florida, who turned opponent Donald Trump’s rightful tirade on how million-dollar Super Pacs (of which Rubio is second to only Jeb Bush) make candidates special-interest puppets into an opportunity to claim that the mainstream media is a Super Pac for the Democratic Party. Nice job.

To be fair, the CNBC production and the performance by its moderators was abysmal at best and a downright mugging at worst. How a financial network cannot ask a single question about the current administration’s largest trade agreement or force Republican candidates to explain to voters how another GOP president won’t sink the economic solvency of the western hemisphere again is beyond me. Bad questions, allowing candidates to shout incessantly over one another, and not having the proper notes to refute claims that candidates didn’t say things that were on their websites is inexcusable.

Having said that, bitching about it is bush league, especially during the damn thing. Texas Senator Ted Cruz spent two minutes complaining after being asked one of the few legitimate questions and then was perturbed to not get another two minutes to actually answer the question. Predictably, this kind of nonsense plays well with the base of the Republican Party, and the public in general, who all have some measure of beef with the media – specifically the networks who run these showcases dressed up as debates as if professional wrestling matches; complete with dramatic openings and promises of major conflict. The selling of Trump and the field of nine trying to take him down has turned news into big entertainment. However, attacking the messenger has a short shelf life. Didn’t help Nixon or the Clintons and it pretty much sank Newt Gingrich last time around.

There were rumors after the debate, most of them started by this columnist, that Priebus was already hammered on six Grand Marnier’s after his precious showcase had gone rogue, and yammered like a ten year-old about the line of questions and the decorum of the moderators, claiming the same kind of “attack dog” victimization as the Clinton Campaign parlayed into soaring poll numbers the previous week. It was well calculated on his part, but little did he know the candidates were not fucking around.

It is important to point out at this juncture that the current frontrunners – and have been for months – Donald Trump and Ben Carson, with zero political credentials between them, despite running for the top political job in the land, had no problem with the moderators or the showcase dressed up as a debate. Chaos fits their narrative just fine; the process is screwed. They’re merely here to provide an alternative. Ted Cruz, who has been in the U.S. Senate now for almost six years but continues to claim outsider status, once again piggybacked Trump and Carson’s headwind by comically suggesting that Rush Limbaugh and other right wing radio entertainers moderate. Good one.

The selling of Trump and the field of nine trying to take him down has turned news into big entertainment.

Seems Trump and Carson and a few other candidates eventually came to the conclusion that it is not such a good idea to allow barely relevant opponents a chance to muck up an already crowded field. Soon after the brief solidarity, Trump, in his inimitable fashion, began suggesting candidates start extracting themselves from the process, so he can have more time to do the Trump thing. Carson mumbled something about Jesus with his eyes closed and his poll numbers soared.

Priebus had a conference call with RNC officials to have someone on staff to make sure he has enough cognac on hand.

There are eight more of these left.

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SYRIA – A BIG MISTAKE

Aquarian Weekly
11/4/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

SYRIA – A BIG MISTAKE
Maybe They’re Wearing Sneakers

I won’t waste any precious column space mincing words or joking around. This latest move by the Obama Administration to “shift gears” or “change strategies” in the current bedlam that is Syria is a mistake; check that – a big mistake.

syria_mistake

Of course the knee-jerk reaction to cite Viet Nam or the last Iraq War, two of the most egregiously criminal conflicts this country embroiled its military and people in, is patently unfair. What is not unfair is that if this escalates – and thus far this president has not been honest about how things are being handled there, almost without question repeatedly saying the opposite of what appears to anyone paying attention to be the actual policy (the most obvious of these is the continued nonsense about “no boots on the ground” or “no combat personnel”) – it will certainly resemble them.

These are the soft lies of ramping up a war that no one wants and no one sees coming until we are trillions in debt and there are kids coming home in boxes or with vital parts missing.

What makes this worse than even those conflicts at its origins is that there is no clear enemy. We do not know, neither does our fancy intelligence that helped usher us into the Iraq War, who the hell we’re fighting for or against. This is a fact. Pentagon officials declined on two different occasions this week to specify which groups they will work with, or where they will be located. The Russians, who have stupidly thrown themselves into this thing to prop up a doomed regime, have no idea who they are fighting. Those fighting on the ground barely know, if they know at all.

Right now there are several factions, none of which could loosely be described as an American ally or even an eventual threat to the United States, perpetually fighting – door to door and street to street – in Syria. There are “rebels”, who are made up of ISIS fighters and al Qaeda and Saudis and Kurds and Turks, and on “the other side” there are Syrian defense fighters at the behest of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and next to them Iranian-backed soldiers of fortune, and a different faction of al-Qaeda, and from what I see on CNN, thrown into the sinkhole, is a cadre of free-lance Americans who are playing Cowboys and Indians because their penises are too small or their girlfriend left them or McDonald’s isn’t hiring.

Syria right now makes Viet Nam and Iraq look sane.

Let me write again: This is a big mistake.

The announcement this week (and by announcement, I mean more bullshit that is nowhere near what is actually happening, which is likely ten-times worse and coming in about two months too late) that 50 or so “special operators” will be in country to “advise” and “deploy” and “recon” and all the other shuck-and-jive we’ve heard from the Westmorelands and Wolfowitzs who foolishly lead their charges into damnation.

A glaring example of this is the combat soldier killed in combat while carrying out a combat mission in Iraq, which ignited nearly a week of yammering out of the Pentagon about how he really wasn’t in combat. This is what our greatest war criminal, Lyndon Baines Johnson would have called “a riddle wrapped in an enigma” before he sent thousands of American kids to die in a jungle against their will for nothing.

Senior White House “officials” and Pentagon spokesmen echoed the mantra that these troops will be deployed for less than 60 days at a time, and then this nugget: “We will not be establishing our own, U.S.-led headquarters … we will go to where they are. Our vision, at least at the outset, is for them to go for small amounts of time and to one location. I don’t anticipate they’ll be moving from place to place with regularity. They are not going to be out and about to advise and assist in the way we are in Iraq. This is to get guys on the ground and get eyes on … to see what more is possible. This is a start.”

Oh, it’s a start all right. Like Kennedy’s set of advisors and Mission Accomplished; the usual fog of war that takes our money and our youth and our legitimacy; we’re no longer legitimate, if we ever were, or at least not since WWII. We have no international voice that really matters, and this myth keeps us from admitting that not everything that happens everywhere is our business and that barely anything that happened in Viet Nam and Iraq was of vital or any defensive interest to this country.

We do not know, neither does our fancy intelligence that helped usher us into the Iraq War, who the hell we’re fighting for or against.

It is a lie. It is a dangerous, unholy lie, and we keep hearing it, and now we hear it from our anti-war president, the one I have championed for his previously smart and cautious Middle East policy; one that does not repeat the mistakes of centuries of over-zealousness by nations trying to quell centuries of blood-lust.

But that is over now. Barack Obama has begun the path for which he was definitely not elected. And trust me, whether it is Hillary Clinton or whatever war puppet the Republicans spat out, it will be far worse.

Barack Obama, September, 2013: “I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan.”

Maybe they’re wearing sneakers.

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