DEATH RATTLE BATTLEFIELD

Aquarian Weekly
3/23/22

Reality Check

James Campion

DEATH RATTLE BATTLEFIELD
How Putin’s Folly in Ukraine is Systematically Destroying Russia

Things are actually going worse than I predicted two weeks ago (PUTIN’S FANCY CLUSTERFUCK) when this ill-conceived and badly figured military invasion of Ukraine began for Russia. Vladimir Putin’s utterly insane idea with no rational endgame to occupy a neighboring nation with a subpar, hardly motivated army, (more confused by the reasoning for the fighting than motivated to “win”), has turned into a bloody stalemate that will only worsen when the tough part of the war inside the urban slaughterhouse commences. The Russian Army has been exposed as ill-equipped and badly led. The entire enterprise has caused a once proud nation to be dragged into economic and moral calamity. It, and its beleaguered tyrant president, has been summarily shunned by the rest of the world. It would seem Russia is on the brink of complete anarchy in less than a month, purely on the whims of a madman.

Putin has done what no NATO coalition could have done. He has doomed Russia. The country is bankrupt, ostracized from the 21^st century global economy – more than 400 hundred western companies have abandoned it, throwing thousands of citizens out of work, and in the process dragged the last thirty years of progress and assimilation since the fall of the Soviet Union into a new dark ages. It is so bad Putin is forced to beg China for much-needed help and then take to the airwaves to shout about “traitors and scum,” many of whom cling to a harsher reality of food shortages, gas hikes, and an isolation from the goods and services in which they rely.

That is to say nothing of the Russian troops who routinely abandon tanks to run scared into the Ukrainian forests or put down their weapons in an open act of desertion. And who can blame them? According to Pentagon officials quoted in a recent NY Times article, more than 7,000 Russian troops are already dead, a greater number than American troops killed over 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. To gain a starker perspective on this, the article goes on to state that “in 36 days of fighting on Iwo Jima during World War II, nearly 7,000 Marines were killed. Now, 20 days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Putin’s military has already lost more soldiers.”

General don’t die. Russian generals are dying. Daily.

And through the “fog of war” these are conservative estimates. Some in the U.S. military have been given greater numbers of deaths, which they describe as “staggering.” As many as 10,000 Russian soldiers have likely been sacrificed for this boondoggle, due to Belarusian morgues filling up daily with the slain.
This nearly one-month offensive, predicted by Putin’s brain trust (many of which have likely been executed by now or thrown in prison) as originally taking three to four days, has eviscerated Russian troop morale. Motivation for this mess was already shaky due to soldiers having to murder many of their fellow Slavs for what sounded to them and the rest of the planet as a goofy propaganda ego-circle-jerk by a mentally challenged dictator. The general rule of war is that a ten-percent casualty rate, which includes wounded, for a single unit renders it unable to carry out combat-related tasks. The estimate so far is nearly 21 thousand total wounded, which is nearly ten percent, as there are reportedly more than 150,000 Russian troops in Ukraine. And the kicker might be that four Russian generals have also been killed, a number that usually hovers around zero for generals. General don’t die. Russian generals are dying. Daily.

Considering a lunatic like Putin won’t be quitting this folly anytime soon, he has upped the ante on this losing bet by slaying civilians, using illegal weapons, calling in mercenaries from Syria and the black ops the Russians normally used to assassinate journalists and dignitaries. A kitchen sink tossing is sure to follow. These are desperate times for a despot living in a fantasy.

Ever more galling to Putin is Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, former comedian and TV star, being the toast of the western world and recently enjoying a standing ovation during a speech to the U.S. Congress. Zelenksy has made a very public mockery of the false bravado of his enemy, as women, children and young civilian men join forces with the undermanned Ukrainian Army to thwart the “mighty” Russian Army that staggers around looking to move forward while barely holding flank. And all of it is televised 24-hours a day and flashed on social media: The failures, the embarrassment, the eventual surrender.

While invading Ukraine was never going to end well, not even I could have predicted that there is a chance that Putin may actually lose this war. The longer this bloodletting and destruction of the Russian Army continues this is becoming more of a reality. As stated here a month ago, even if he eventually holds out, after thousands and thousands of his troops are slaughtered and he massacres thousands of Ukrainians, implants a puppet government, and claims some kind of empty victory, then he becomes nothing more than a flaccid occupier, continuously fending off insurgencies and domestic terrorism. All the while continuing this dance of economic suicide with his people and the rest of the civilized world.
Putin is going to lose this eventually, be tossed into the rancid dustbin of history like all the crazies who attempted this stupid shit. But what is to become of Mother Russia, its people, and its general standing in the world, economically, politically, morally? What of the people who endure the last vestiges of this maniac, who has gambled their fortunes on a losing and deadly proposition?

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PUTIN’S FANCY CLUSTERFUCK

Aquarian Weekly
3/9/22
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
PUTIN’S FANCY CLUSTERFUCK
Stark-Naked Emperor Stumbles Into Infamy
 
 Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.
                                       – Michael Gerard Tyson
 
 What the fuck is Vladimir Putin doing?

This is not rhetorical. I have no idea. And from all I have read, heard, and/or deciphered from this Russian invasion of Ukraine, no one – and there has been nothing viably coherent from the man himself – has a goddamn clue. We are a couple of weeks into this ill-conceived, terribly executed military mission, and despite becoming an international pariah and sinking his nation’s already anemic economy, this entire mess has done nothing but effectively lift the veil on whatever myth the Russian president has been concocting for decades: He is shrewd global manipulator.

Suddenly, the man looks spectacularly stupid and embarrassingly weak. Add in a sprinkle of pettiness, a dab of irrationality, and top it with pure idiocy. Certainly, our politicians, including our last president, who carried the tyrant’s water bucket for four years and just this week called him “a genius,” figured this guy was shrewd and cunning. Fox News spent the past few weeks ejaculating over his brilliance as a proud world leader with his finger on the international pulse, understanding the brutal nuances of world politick and acting with swift and measured precision. Wherein our old, clueless president is unmatched. Shit, say what you want about cranky Joe Biden, he has played this like a champ. So far, he has rallied the world to put the screws to Putin’s hubris move. If anything, it has revived his nearly flat-lined presidency.

It is an understatement to stress that now in the wake of this super-botch, everyone may have miscalculated Putin. That is except Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, whom Putin has turned into a rock star and the world’s superhero – another hidden prize of his grand blunder. Let’s face it, Zelensky’s defiance has turned this into a hack move made by a third-world chump, as if Saddam Hussein had come back as a bald, fat goon, whose only hope for anyone to pay attention to him is to bully the country next door. Putin has created a quagmire of human misery and destruction that has the distinct look of a man trying to open a tuna can with sledgehammer. Four days into this, even Donald Trump was faking love for NATO.

The confused torpor that was George W.  Bush suddenly looks like a mighty warlord compared to this stooge.

Vladimir Putin was supposed to be our worthy adversary, akin to Rommel vs. Patton instead of Mike Tyson vs. the town drunk. He appears to have no endgame beyond what he, I guess, claimed was defense against NATO’s influence too close to his border, but instead has created the worst possible scenario: An angry and motivated enemy at his border. Dead mothers clutching charred infants have a way of getting the locals riled. He thought no one would have the stomach to oppose him, and before the week was out, everyone did, even China, who acts like an ally but would just as soon move on as a solo act, and Saudi Arabia, who positions itself to absorb Putin’s fleeing oil customers.

Of course, any act of war is going to bring hardship. But most dictators worth a shit would have weighed this against what riches and real estate might be available once the carnage is done.

To wit: One can deduce the actions of Adolf Hitler’s 1939 invasion of Poland in five seconds. It was horrible, immoral, and world-shattering, but it made military, economic, and national defense sense for Germany. What does Russia get out of “owning” Ukraine? A money-pit headache. Moreover, Hitler’s burgeoning economy was built on a war machine that not only revived the nation’s solvency but had already done some nasty shit for months before this. It appears the lapdog generals in charge of this operation did not have what it takes to tell Putin his heretofore latent army sucks ass.

The Hitler comparison makes Putin uncomfortable? Okay, take Napoleon in the opening years of the nineteenth century. The French had been preparing for war for decades and possessed what turned out to be an unstoppable force to expand the parameters of his rule in Europe. Putin’s army has had a hard time even getting a foothold in the country across the fucking street. He could have gotten a Northern California biker gang to pull this off quicker. So, now he has exposed his military as wildly overrated and undermanned, and his generals as stupefied neophytes. If Stalin had this force, the Nazis would have glided into Moscow in 1944, Russian winter and all.

I don’t know who talked up the Russian invading army as potentially impressive, but Jesus Bicycling Christ, this whole thing is a stumble-bum fiasco manned by frightened nineteen year-olds with no over-arching plan to refuel vehicles, secure flanks or deal with street-to-street combat. The first week of the invasion will be studied by war historians as a primer on what not to do – overwhelming the botched United States Iraq invasion in the early aughts. In fact, I would say the confused torpor that was George W.  Bush suddenly looks like a mighty warlord compared to this stooge.

And so, predictably, desperate and exposed as a fraud, Putin “readies his nuclear capabilities”. Yawn. The oldest and laziest Cold War maneuver. This is what you do when you fail to learn your own nation’s military history, which would have clued Putin in that both Napoleon and Hitler were eventually defeated by fucking Russia! And mainly because they could not occupy nations that didn’t want to be occupied. Failing that, all he had to do was call up Dick Cheney. The former VP might have told him that the place you are wrecking will not likely be welcoming you as liberators.

But, of course, history is pretty much bloated with tales of once powerful nations taking over other nations who did not like that so much. Soon, there will be, for Russia, the exhausting task of fending off insurgencies and weeding out coups. This is far more difficult than poisoning journalists in London, jailing Pussy Riot, and fucking with other country’s elections. Those things gave him an air of invincibly that this invasion has summarily obliterated.

So far, just moving in has been a humiliating slog against civilians brandishing homemade weapons, further revealing half-assed Russian ground-war capabilities. It has alienated the only economic partners keeping Russia a viable nation, unleashed crippling international sanctions, and ceased a crucial oil pipeline partnership with Germany. Remember, Putin is pulling this horse-turd under the auspices of a global economy that his country relies on desperately. Hitler and Napoleon had no such troubles. They were self-contained nations built for war. No oil money. No Russia.

Invasion is the easy part. Occupation is where things get hairy.

Again, I state, this makes zero sense for Russia, and even less for Putin, who clearly has never given a flying mist-fart about Russia. He has a raging hard-on for the tattered myth of the Soviet Union, conveniently forgetting that what ultimately sunk it was stretching its lust for colonization, which is what also sunk every world power since the dawn of civilization.

Putin has made the ultimate mistake of the grifter, believing his own con.

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“LEGITIMATE POLITICAL DISCOURSE” WEEK

Aquarian Weekly
2/16/22

Reality Check

James Campion

“LEGITIMATE POLITICAL DISCOURSE” WEEK
How We Got Here & Where We’re Going

For about a week at the beginning of February 2022, the Republican Party pulled back from the brink of insurrection.

Flirting with this concept since the domestic terrorist attacks on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, a majority of the party in both houses of congress and throughout the country, in the media and in the halls of state governance, have either dismissed or supported the horrors of that day, which resulted in seven deaths, 769 criminal charges, and over 70 convictions thus far. This includes the former president of the United States, who perpetuated this lunacy by telling the great unwashed that the election was stolen, inviting them to Washington D.C., promising via twitter to “Be there, will be wild!” and then once they got there armed and riled up by crazy talk, encouraging them to “March to the Capitol and fight for your country.” This ridiculousness is ongoing, as he announced at a recent rally in Arizona that he will pardon the convicted if re-elected. But until three words were part of a Republican National Committee resolution last week, all of this was partisan rhetoric, political grandstanding, and genuflecting to the 70-percent of Republican voters who continue to believe this nonsense.

It was then the RNC censored two GOP senators on the bipartisan January 6 Committee, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger. This too could have been seen as mere politico shenanigans, until the 168 members referred to their supposed insubordination to the party for “participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

That, apparently, was the game changer.

Legitimate Political Discourse.

Those three words could well go down in history as the moment things began to shift in the Republican party. That day, actual “ordinary citizens” who are not white supremacists brandishing weapons, demanding the heads of the Speaker of the House and the Vice President, while smashing windows, breaking-and-entering into a federal building, and beating police with Trump flags, stood up and said, “That’s enough.” Even Republicans who heretofore watched in silence as its party was being hijacked by the insanely seditious goofiness that passes for “the opposition” started to backtrack. This was ultimately the Right dismissing its fringe, as the Left did with distancing itself from the “Defund the Police” movement in 2020. This last-ditch effort kept the Republican Party from being an enemy of the state because that is what that statement underlines. Supporting terrorism of any kind is a bad look, even for fun and argument, especially when representing the entire party’s stance.

When Georgia Congressman Andrew Clyde, five months from the insurrection, noted that it looked like “a normal tourist visit” most people were horrified, but Clyde is just one idiot, and although there are plenty of those in congress, when the RNC, essentially representing the whole of the GOP, frames a violent mob trying to overthrow a national election as Legitimate Political Discourse in a signed resolution, it ropes in every Republican.

For a few weird days, it looked like one of America’s two major political parties was exiting the framework of the U.S. Constitution. That is fairly big news, for it is equivalent to either party supporting al Qaeda. It wasn’t long before at least a few GOP voices put the brakes on this as quickly as you can Osama bin Laden.

Supporting terrorism of any kind is a bad look, even for fun and argument

Legitimate Political Discourse was announced on Friday, February 4, by Tuesday, February 8 (to be honest a tad too long to address the rhetorical rejection of the rule of law and American sovereignty, but he got there) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denounced it. While he did finally agree that water is wet by calling the events an insurrection, which is what it was, he tamped that down with procedural blather. “The issue is whether or not the RNC should be sort of singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority. That’s not the job of the RNC,” McConnell said in his damage-control press conference. He conveniently forgot to mention that the Republican Party was sanctioning the murder of police and the attempted harm of members of the U.S. Congress. But it was a start.

This was followed by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin praising “my Republican colleagues who have been willing to speak the truth in the last few days,” while also castigating his party by admitting that for months now “the vast majority of my Republican colleagues remained silent while the party leaders declared Jan. 6 legitimate.” Maine Senator Susan Collins echoed this by calling the entire RNC resolution “absurd” and that “every moment that is spent re-litigating a lost election or defending those who have been convicted of criminal behavior moves us further away from the goal of victory this fall.”

It is important to recall when all three of these senators, all of whom publicly blamed Trump for his role in the riot from day-one – McConnel said he was “practically and morally responsible” – had a chance to vote to impeach him when he still held office and did not.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who announced this hot mess, also began running for cover, claiming the phrase Legitimate Political Discourse was not in the original draft of the resolution. This was quickly backed up by the man who wrote it, some cheap political MAGA hack, David Bossie. For his part, the former president called McDaniel to congratulate her for the resolution and for bravely reframing the horrors of January 6 as patriotic protest against government aggression.

Swap the name Donald Trump for Jefferson Davis and you get the picture.

For his part, House Minority Leader Mike McCarthy, a very silly man, has tried to play this as close to the vest as possible. He knows he may be on the brink of becoming the next House Speaker if things go the way of first mid-term elections for unpopular presidents, and Joe Biden certainly is one (41-percent approval at the time of this writing), so he has cover. McConnell is not so fortunate. With most of the potential Republican candidates laying in wait to run this November being a rogue’s gallery of knuckle-dragging psychos, it will be tight, and even some indicators are pointing toward the Democrats hanging onto the Senate.

Let that read that political expediency is now at the forefront of the party – not that it wasn’t at any point – but Legitimate Political Discourse has set the bar. Let’s see if the party nominates the man responsible to run for president again.

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THE RUSSIA THING… AGAIN

Aquarian Weekly
2/2/22
 
Reality Check
 

James Campion
 
 
THE RUSSIA THING… AGAIN
 
 
Let’s put this out there first: No one thinks engaging in a war with Russia is a good idea. Not even those who claim to think it is a good idea. And now that most Republicans are pro-Russia thanks to the last president, who was Vladimir Putin’s bitch, we don’t have as much rooting interest from the hawk camp as we did during the Cold War. (You know you have lived a long time when things shift this dramatically – if you would have told me in 1985 that Democrats were the anti-Russia hawk party, I would have assumed you were experiencing crack shivers). And let me also state for the record that despite the cheering and victory laps the West did after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, Russia has never not been armed to the teeth with nuclear war heads and is now run by a psychopath, who has been mostly unchecked by the loyal opposition for close to a decade.

Our current president has been all over the map here. A change from the last guy who stood on foreign soil and sided with Putin over the American intelligence community. Either way, that lapdog is gone now, reduced to screaming to the great unwashed that he won the last election from his golf bunker in Florida. The guy who did win, Joe Biden wanted this gig – and the shit storm that is coming down now appears to be far more important than his botched exit from our endless military bullshit in Afghanistan or exploding inflation or even the zig-zag pandemic mandates we continue to endure. He needs to steer this one clear of military action. Period.

The day before I am writing this, the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank released satellite imagery on the Russian build-up in Ukraine showing “a significant and sizeable presence of Russian ground troops, tanks, small arms and mobile artillery.” It states: “If peace talks fail, an escalation between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Russia could extend well beyond Eastern Europe and include retaliatory measures that are global in nature.”

No shit. We didn’t need a fancy international think tank to come to that gory conclusion, but thanks, nonetheless.

The Russians are moving troops to the Ukrainian border (which the Kremlin calls “exercises”) and although, again, we get the predictably bold talk mixed with calls for cooler heads from our president, the Pentagon has been alerted to ready 8,500 American troops to enter the region should an invasion move ahead.

It is never a good idea to engage in any kind of direct military kerfuffle with Russia.

Let me repeat for anyone not yet fully comprehending it: Going to war with Russia is not an option. This is why Ronald Reagan went nuts and outspent them ten-to-one on defense, forever bloating the military budget, which is the main reason we are in horrible debt today and will continue to be unless we address the federal government’s upside-down budget – which we won’t, but that is another column for another day. I just mention it because the narrative has been for my entire existence on this planet (coming up on six decades this September) there has been Total Annihilation or Bust. Skirmishes in the Baltics is so 1917. You can fuck with Russian-backed dictatorships in the Middle East or even try to upset U.S. dictatorships next door to those other dictatorships, but moving in on Russian military shenanigans in Eastern Europe is not an option. Ever.

I am not suggesting that Putin should be left to his own devices. This is a tough call, because, again, Putin was coddled and sucked up to so embarrassingly for the four years prior to Mr. Biden’s arrival, there is an issue with what Russian thinks is our “resolve.” (Should we mention the stupid and very public shake-down of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by Donald Trump to withhold U.S. security aid unless he dug up fantasy dirt on then candidate Biden’s son, Hunter?) But that is, again, in the rearview. This is Biden’s call now. His approval ratings have tanked and show no signs of improving in time to stop what is certainly going to be mid-term spanking this November. And unlike previous years when presidents and the military get nearly one-hundred percent support for any action, this is a different time. There is no stomach for this outside of a few voices. And that is a good thing; because I don’t think it is remotely redundant to again point out that it is never a good idea to engage in any kind of direct military kerfuffle with Russia. Ever.

Making matters worse is that Ukraine is playing this very “Czechoslovakia circa 1938,” fobbing it off as business as usual – all talk/no action Putin – something South Korea never does, despite the almost incessant non-aggressive aggression from the North and whatever chubby nutcase is engineering it. It also doesn’t help that no one in Europe, least of all France and Germany (and Germany has made it clear due to pipeline oil issues, it does not want to side with the U.S. in this affair no matter the threat to its border interests), is remotely excited about a twenty-first century ground war.

For whatever it’s worth, which if recent history is any indication, is nothing, Russia has publicly stated through its venerable Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov that they have no intention of invading Ukraine. “We do not want wars, but we won’t allow our interests to be rudely trod upon or to be ignored,” Lavrov, who is also Russia’s representative at the United Nations, said this week. Much of this rhetoric stemming from talk for months of Ukraine joining NATO, a George W. Bush 2008 dream that got under Putin’s skin, which eventually led to the Trump-backed anti-Bush, anti-NATO wing of the Kremlin during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. For its role in all this, the Ukraine has no plans to join NATO, something Biden has acknowledged.

All of this provides insight into Putin’s gambit as ill-conceived and not entirely supported by his faux government. So, it might eventually need diplomatic face-saving. Not to mention that Russia’s current post-pandemic economy is weak, far weaker than ours, and needs European oil dollars to subsist. Wars are costly. And Putin can’t afford it.

Not sure who said that “history finds us” or how “we don’t choose our moment it chooses us” or whatever paraphrase you’d like to cite in that direction, but this is where Joe Biden stands now. Thank goodness we have a functioning State Department again. Talks are ongoing, and it must be clear to even a loon like Putin that this is not a wise move. There should be a sign above his desk that reads the mirror image of my stance: War with the United States is never an option.

Yeah, going to war with Russia is not an option.

Ever.  

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REGARDING THE TIK TOK 12/17 NATIONAL SCHOOL THREATS

Aquarian Weekly
12/22/21
 
Reality Check
 

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

Spoiler Alert: We sent our kid in. Packing.
   

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

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

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

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

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

– Palestinians and Israelis.

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

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

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

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

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

And by it, I mean, reality.

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THE POLITICS OF CHOICE

Aquarian Weekly
12/8/21
 
Reality Check
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FUN WITH FACEBOOK

Aquarian Weekly
11/3/21
 
Reality Check
 

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

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

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

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

But, as usual, I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NEW JERSEY CHOICE FOR GOVERNOR IS SIMPLE

Aquarian Weekly
10/27/21
 
Reality Check
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vote Murphy.

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ALL EYES ON THE COMMONWEALTH

Aquarian Weekly
10/20/21
 
Reality Check
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CALIFORNIA SCHEMING

Aquarian Weekly
9/15/21
 
Reality Check
 

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

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

And I need to stress rapidly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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