WELCOME (BACK) TO THE JUNGLE

Aquarian Weekly
6/17/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

WELCOME (BACK) TO THE JUNGLE

It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter terrorist threats to the United States.

– Excerpt from a letter accompanying a classified report to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate President Pro Tem Orrin Hatch, R-Utah this week from President Barack Obama

Uh oh.

If that little tidbit of information that escaped the red-alarm of the mainstream media obsessed with reality-show transgender announcements, presidential candidates with zero chance to ever be president 17 months from Election Day, and Lebron James doesn’t scare the living shit out of you then it damn well should.

Start being scared.

aumfjungle

The president went on to state that he would strongly consider “direct additional measures,” which more pointedly means expanding bases and additional troops could be deployed if needed.

Oooh-boy.

Our antiwar president is slowly being dragged into a giant mess we’ve already made of Iraq with the kind of “cautious” speak we’ve heard for a century around here from many a president citing national security to embroil us in a useless, unwinnable, soul-sucking, fund-sinking, bloody fray.

It began a few months back with “advisors” and “special forces”; buzz words for your kids coming back from some foreign desert sinkhole in bags or with stuff missing from their bodies. Just so we’re clear. Don’t want to miss the point of all these “advisors” and “special forces”.

Remember when the president announced a few months back to a dubious and overwhelming majority of war-weary Americans that this kind of thing was a mercy mission and a training exercise? This is translated as “See you in another quagmire, sports fans.”

Lock up your sons and daughters. It’s time to add more wounded that will be ignored and dead that will be forgotten.

We’re off to WAR again.

As if it ever ended or will ever end.

Granted, Barack Obama has cited the wildly sweeping 2001 AUMF, the bane of American foreign policy and arguably the sole reason there is an ISIS and a massive national deficit. It is the golden ticket for every U.S. president until the end of time to wage questionable military exercises all over the joint. He is well within his right and purview.

The egregious Authorization for Use of Military Force, a fancy piece of legislation titled Pub. L. 107-40 was codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001 and eventually signed into law by President George W. Bush on September 18, 2001. It gives the Patriot Act a run for its money and puts all this haughty talk for the past few years about presidential overreach into grim perspective.

You want presidential overreach, jack?

The AUMF, which Obama (the guy who in 2007 scoffed at these sort of tyrannical knee-jerk powers) mentioned directly in his letter, “authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001”. The authorization grants the president (any president) the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.”

What does ISIS have to do with 9/11?

What did Iraq have to do with 9/11?

What did Libya or Syria or Iran have to do with 9/11?

Glad you asked. It’s simple. It all does.

Why do you think former Vice President and godfather of Iraq madness, Dick Cheney was so hot and heavy about conflating Saddam Hussein with 9/11 – something that had credence due to faulty intelligence and Bush 41’s laughably unnecessary Kuwait war in 1990, but could not lead to war without the AUMF?

Why do you think every hawk in congress cites 9/11 when anything goes awry overseas, especially in the Middle East, and berate the president for “leading from behind” every time a firecracker goes off in the desert?

It is not to remind us of our weakness in the summer of 2001, how we felt invincible and untouchable for all the crazy shenanigans we pulled aboard for more than half a century fearing no consequence. It is strategic. It puts all missions under the guise of the AUMF, providing the kind of unchecked military power that even Abraham Lincoln would have found troubling.

Well, maybe not Lincoln. He went a little nuts. But that was our Civil War, not someone else’s. But the AUMF makes it, prompts it, cajoles it, nay, demands that it is ours.

The idea of 9/11 is no more a date in American history than a blank check for future actions against any threats that remind one of 9/11, like EVERYTHING.

All that crap the CIA pulled after WWII would have been so much easier if congress had not merely declared war on Japan and Germany in 1941, but simply said that any country that sees fit to 12/7 us or threats to 12/7 us is open game.

Blank check.

War.

Stick that in your “Don’t Tread on Me” pipe and inhale.

And so while we debate the merits of insane cops running amok or whatever middling crap we can dig up on Dr. Ben Carson, who is a pathetic side-show to our already insipid presidential politics, our president is once again thrusting this nation into another war it cannot win and will likely only exacerbate its incendiary status.

Lock up your sons and daughters. It’s time to add more wounded that will be ignored and dead that will be forgotten.

Think I’m simply an anti-war whiner? A cynic?

Fair enough: Let’s examine the facts of how there came to be an ISIS in the first place.

After the Iranian overthrow of the puppet tyrant the United State implanted in 1979, ignoring the democratic wishes of yet another in a long line of oil rich nations, we began arming auxiliary tyrant Saddam Hussein’s Baathist soldiers to combat it. These are the same soldiers that rumbled into Kuwait in August of 1990, prompting the Gulf War, which helped to build the case for al Queda (the terrorist outfit led by Osama bin Laden mobilized from the CIA-created Mujahideen that fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and were later abandoned when we no longer needed them, grew predictably and stridently anti-American, and bombed American foreign installations and ships in the late-‘90s) to unleash the 9/11 attacks. These are also many of the same soldiers that today (with American weapons) make up ISIS.

And you know who our ally in all this is now?

Iran.

So, now with all of that whiz-bang success from arming rebels and propping up corrupt regimes and our spectacularly disastrous foreign military-led policy of the past 15 years, we once again go slowly down the path of self-destruction.

Don’t be afraid of ISIS.

Or Iran, the Affordable Care Act, Caitlyn Jenner, Wall Street.

Be afraid of “additional measures”.

Be very afraid.

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GOODBYE PATRIOT ACT

Aquarian Weekly
6/10/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

GOODBYE PATRIOT ACT
Hello USA Freedom Act

And so the odious unconstitutional boondoggle merrily passed into law during the über paranoia of 9/11 and renewed time and again for 14 long years is gone. We say goodbye to the Patriot Act, one of the most intrusively open-ended pieces of legislation ever considered by a feckless knee-jerk congress since the generation-damaging Volstead Act. It’s very name a stain on its harbinger for what we have come to expect from all this “Don’t Tread On Me” rhetoric – the same jackasses carrying this glorious flag have no problem with their government spying on them, just don’t provide them health care. What a joke we are and have been lo these many years of pre-war trade-in on our civil rights for the fog of safety, from the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the jailing and deporting of German citizens during WWI and Japanese citizens during WWII to the FBI spying and CIA tampering with anti-war groups during the Viet Nam fiasco, we will eat any shit given us.
House Republicans Discuss Climate-Gate And Copenhagen Summit
And eat it we did for a decade and a half, and many of us – me included – didn’t seem to care. Why should I care? I break the law around here hourly. I have so much contraband at the Clemens Estate it would take a team of prosecutors months to dissect it. I have been open about my malfeasance and I have hung my “Don’t Tread On Me” flag proudly at every camp we have called home since the Putnam Bunker in the early-to-late 1990s. No one has ever harassed me. I am a middle-aged white man living in the woods with no priors. I am a working member of the Fourth Estate with skeleton-packed closet and blood on my pen. I treat NYC as a social experiment in spectacular abuses best kept off the pages of this paper and anywhere on the Internet, including the places where openly declaring that you yearn to cook and eat women can get you life in prison.

And I put it all in print with my name under it.

I welcome spying, as I welcome most of my unconstitutional miasma, which is why I cannot help but be surprised when anyone is shocked at the level of power and scope we have given our government, both local and federal, since Andrew Jackson told the Supreme Court to fuck itself and start the institutional migration of the Native Americans he couldn’t kill.

We are already choked by laws. Many of them keep us from killing ourselves and others. I have never believed in these, per se, more like tolerate them. Free Thinkers and the Evolved scoff at your petty morals (thank you, Keith Richards). We openly mock the diseased conditions that lead to things like Sharia Law or the PMRC or whatever crap Pat Roberson conjures or what con men like Mike Huckabee think you should be doing with your body. Fuck Mike Huckabee. He is a goober and a religious zealot and his kind is dying out and they know it, so they step out every four years to remind us of what it would be like if more of these cretins had the power to make us just like them.

Ah, but I digress.

Back to the lovely Patriot Act.

We now rest easy knowing our dick pics are safe from prying Big Brother.

Suddenly some gutless weasel who signed up to spy on us decides it’s a bit too much spying for his like, so he flees the country and at first anonymously unleashes all the collected data – including highly classified information – he’d stolen to the press in the guise of “whistle blowing”. In turn, the NY Times erroneously published secrets detrimental to the health and well being of Americans in harm’s way. Instead of standing his ground and going through the proper channels of the law, like the heroic Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1970 tried (in vain, but he tried) to persuade several senators of the crimes being perpetuated in the name of freedom by the United States abroad before going to the NY Times, and then stayed here to take his medicine and prove his position. Fuck Edward Snowden. I like my dissidents to take it standing strong, not cutting and running like Jesse James. Give me Jesus of Nazareth or Gandhi or Emma Goldman or Lenny Bruce any day, any week.

Now we’re all appalled? Right Wing to the Left Wing, we can finally agree on something and that something is the tip of the overreach iceberg, and you know what, this new USA Freedom Act has plenty of stuff in there that’s unconstitutional. As my good friend, Doc Buzz once mused, “Who’s kiddin’ who?”

I will give the USA Freedom Act one thing; it is the first time in a billion years a government has passed a law reducing its power. It has never happened in this country or on this planet to be fair. But it did this week. And that is news.

And so goodbye Patriot Act.

We now rest easy knowing our dick pics are safe from prying Big Brother.

Until the next thing blows up and then you’ll be glad to give blood samples to buy gum.

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ELIZABETH WARREN UNLEASHED

Aquarian Weekly
5/27/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

ELIZABETH WARREN UNLEASHED

Elizabeth Warren is what makes writing about politics interesting. She is the Democrats answer to Ted Cruz. She represents the polar end of a national party and can and will make waves to muck up the works when she can. In the end, though, her voice will be watered down by the legislative process. The progress of her times, as well as Ted Cruz’s, will go on. She will have made a point and she will live with her uncompromising street cred intact.Elizabeth Warren

Unlike Cruz and the right wing TEA Party he purports to represent – a sort of but not quite new fangled movement that shares the undertone of opposition for the current president and his policies, more specifically the ACA, which ushered this new wave in during the 2010 mid-terms – Warren is an old-fashioned liberal. She is dyed in the wool pro-labor, pro-regulation, pro-national education, and all the things that have become less fashionable in the past twenty years or so. This is why I laugh when people call Barack Obama a lefty. Lefties in the 1970s were lefties. It’s like calling Ronald Reagan a right-winger now. Reagan is a liberal compared to Ted Cruz, whereas Warren though would fit right in with Ted Kennedy.

And that brings me to Warren’s big move against her party’s president during this inner-party kerfuffle regarding Obama’s hot-and-heavy pursuit of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is the latest in a string of trade agreements proffered by presidents since the first Bush in the late 1980s. Since then it seems like everyone has had to pitch one. None of them seem to be total slam-dunks. In many ways they have hit the working class hard, specifically the organized labor front. Even staunch conservatives have barked about trade agreements that almost always benefit the other nations. Pat Buchanan famously ran amok in the streets of Seattle during the WTO protests that turned into riots in 1999. “Now you might not have seen me, but I was out there at the Battle of Seattle,” he puffed to me when running for president as an independent in 2000. “I was out there all five days. The WTO didn’t see me because I was disguised as a sea turtle moving around the imperial troops.”

Buchanan, who I hear from now and then with pithy commentary for my work, is an old-fashioned conservative. He is the one chuckling at Ted Cruz the way the president chuckled at Elizabeth Warren for two weeks when he was pressed by the media to respond to why she was very loudly telling rally after rally that Obama was screwing the working man and being “secretive” about his little trade deal. The president candidly struck back in interviews and his own stumping, saying, “Elizabeth and me are friends and we agree on a host of issues, accept apparently this one. And I have to say she’s got it wrong this time.”

You got the feeling that, as is his wont with many of the distended voices on the right, Obama tried shrugging this off until the vote came in and Warren successfully – mind you a lot more successfully than Cruz’s 400 votes to eradicate the ACA or his entertainingly flaccid filibuster routines – got the issue to a debate on the senate floor. Suddenly the shrugs became anger. You can tell by the way the White House responded to Warren that they considered this an affront – for awhile what was “She’s mistaken that we’re not transparent on the details of the deal” became “She is lying.” Obama called one of the more endearing and combative Democrats, a woman for whom the extreme left wants dearly to run for president in 2016 against the other more formidable woman, a liar. And worse yet the president called her the most damning moniker around these days; “a politician. “She’s a politician like everyone else.”

Interesting.

Make no mistake; Obama is getting his trade deal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell loves it. He all but smooched the president’s ass on the floor of congress last week and couldn’t care less if staunch anti-trade voices in his party were bitching. He “commends” the president on his bravery to face down the radical wing of his party, something McConnell has failed to do at every turn. This is a man who boldly announced forty days into Obama’s presidency that his job was to make him a one-term president. He failed at that too.

But McDonnell and Obama, strange bedfellows for the TPP, will win out. Maybe they should. I have no idea how this thing is coming out, like we had no idea how Iraq was going to come out or the ACA or really anything. But this does not change the fact that Warren has gone rogue and she has plenty of supporters.

She will have made a point and she will live with her uncompromising street cred intact.

Now Warren (Senator from Massachusetts – as Blue as a Blue State could be) may reek of Ted Kennedy’s brand of liberalism, but she also appeals to the Ron Paul wing of the Democratic Party. All those young people who hung onto Paul’s anti-military, anti-inefficient government stuff – something his son has chucked – flock to Warren. According to them she has fought the good fight because she is uncompromising, another dirty word in politics these days. And maybe it should be. It can get you momentum, serious mojo among the “fed up” and there are always plenty of those.

I’m reminded of something the great H.L. Mencken mused about Calvin Coolidge; “Half the people hate him and other half hate those who hate him, but they don’t comprise any portion that actually supports him.” I loathe paraphrasing a friggin’ genius, but I have no time to look it up. You do it.

I do have time for one more comment; Elizabeth Warren is interesting, because she may be the first person in a long time that has captured some kind of bygone sense of populist liberalism that’s not simply Keynesian, tempered by pragmatic professorial think-tanks of mortified inaction or works at MSNBC. But, alas, she’s like that kid pitcher who takes the majors by storm and gets big headlines and then sort of fades away, as if he never was and you miss him, but you move on; the political version of Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. He was damn interesting. That lasted a summer. But oh what a summer it was.

Look it up. Gotta go.

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BALTIMORE IS BURNING‏

Aquarian Weekly
5/6/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

BALTIMORE IS BURNING

Beat-up little seagull
On a marble stair
Tryin’ to find the ocean
Lookin’ everywhere

Hard times in the city
In a hard town by the sea
Ain’t nowhere to run to
There ain’t nothin’ here for free

“Baltimore”, Randy Newman

At some point cops will stop killing black guys and black neighborhoods will stop ending up in flames. Not sure when that will be; maybe when my daughter (now seven) will be around to see it. Hard to tell. Hope so. Who knows?

I know I’ve written more than a little on this subject now for a couple of grim years. Most of it centers on my harshly cynical view of humanity; all that stuff about hatred and violence and the silly notion that society can quell this bubbling genetic combustion or you know…what will become of us? All that stuff that seems to be obvious and hardly worth noting, but somehow escapes the noisy vox populi and the overly hyped redundant punditry.

A Baltimore Metropolitan Police transport vehicle burns during clashes in Baltimore

We choose to ignore our baser instincts and go with the more “better angels” thing. I get that. I do. Like that movie with the kid and the tiger on the boat; which story would you choose to believe if you had the choice?

Then there is this useless search for answers. Is there a serviceable answer that would suffice; with any of this?

But I think on this occasion I bring some personal experience, because even the African-American community is finding it difficult to spin the mass riot in Baltimore, Maryland this week into something of a fair response to the mysterious death of another black kid by white cops.

You see, about 11 years ago I walked to the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in downtown Baltimore one afternoon with my parents and my wife. This was the first and only time I felt real, gripping fear. It was also the most disturbing level of abject poverty and destitution I have ever witnessed, and I have been to New Orleans and Israel.

Now mind you I’ve escaped some harrowing shit before. A few lowlights would be threatened at knife point at a Rolling Stones concert behind some alleyway in Hartford, Connecticut, weird vibrations at a slum bizarre in Barcelona, Spain, a quizzically half-day gypsy cab ride around the more alarmingly remote corners of Freeport, Bahamas, extremely dangerous teenaged vehicular machinations in the shotgun seat of a rusted-out 1965 Mustang in Freehold, NJ, some “bat-wielding” incident of my own making in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, an agonizingly long and perilous walk around the Old City of Jerusalem with helicopters hovering less than two hundred feet above my head, (not to mention having wandered wittingly into a Bedouin hutch), whatever it is I barely survived on the Jersey Shore 20 years ago this summer with some hedonistic rock band bent on destroying my compromised constitution, Catholic grammar school nuns, Disney World. I even managed to survive picking fights with Italian girlfriends when they were hungry.

Still, choosing to usher my family through the burned-out, boarded-up streets in downtown Baltimore with the most desperate and angry looking people I have had the misfortune (or maybe fortune, because I think once in all of our American lives, we should see this kind of arresting social and economic horror) to witness. It is the kind of “backed into a corner” vista that breeds a level of frustration that torches a CVS over something the cops may or may not have done.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that this is less a race thing than a poverty thing, which is far more prevalent in this year of our Lord 2015 than it has been in some time visa vie the soon-to-be mantra of the 2016 presidential race on both sides of the ideological aisle; income inequality. Add to that social inequality, educational inequality, health care inequality, you name it.

Now, the history of civilization is bloated with incidents of the have-nots rising up and causing mayhem for the have’s and these inner-city outbursts lately that begin with a call for justice and end up in total violent chaos is a comment on the idea of “nothing left to lose”, a mentality of the cornered animal that is not beneath us. And for further proof that Baltimore may be the template for more to come – because I think this one trumps Ferguson by a long shot – is the glaringly putrid statistics that cry out to be studied.

It is our reminder that places like Baltimore and Detroit and dozens of cities and towns across the U.S. in the richest most economically solvent nation in the world have been left to rot.

Baltimore’s decline, which has been steadily sinking since the 1980s, interrupted by the construction of Inner Harbor, which is only a few blocks from the pathetically Third-World conditions I witnessed in 2004, has perhaps reached its saturation point. The city’s unemployment rate is nearly double the national average and among the city’s African Americans it hovers around 30 percent. The high school graduation rate among inner city blacks is among the lowest in the country. Thus the crime rate is one of the highest of any city; its legend exploited in pop culture the way The French Connection, Taxi Driver and Death Wish cast a pall on the devolution of New York City in the 1970s, with the acclaimed The Wire series about destitute crime-ridden neighborhoods patrolled by corrupt and violent cops. Art reflected reality; since 2011 the city has doled out some six million dollars in court settlements to victims of police abuse.

So the question should not be, what the hell just happened in Baltimore?, it really should be, how did this not happen sooner and why doesn’t it happen weekly?

Baltimore has not benefitted from anything; social programs, budget cuts, a stringent police presence, outreach programs, the corporate explosion of the 1980s, the booming 1990s economic surge, the housing bubble of the 2000s or the slowly emerging economic recovery since 2009. It is our reminder that things are never “all rosy” around here. It is our reminder that places like Baltimore and Detroit and dozens of cities and towns across the U.S. in the richest most economically solvent nation in the world have been left to rot.

Last week our African American president rightfully pointed out that the U.S. economy is the strongest among any in the western hemisphere. It has come back faster than Europe by a long shot. Things are way better now than they were when the entire financial system was on the brink of total annihilation in the fall of ’08, which ushered him in into the White House in the first place. But none of this has come close to putting a dent into what is the “Baltimore Problem”, and I am in no position to suggest how it can be “solved”.

But one thing I have learned from this week is that while this eruption may in several ways have been the result of race, police, urban, sociological or even political issues, it is first and foremost economic.

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IRAN: SO FAR AWAY‏

Aquarian Weekly

4/29/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

IRAN: SO FAR AWAY
With Apologies to the Ayatollah and Flock of Seagulls

Here’s hoping that a deal can be nailed down with Iran over its nuclear capabilities. Not sure what that deal would be or how it would eventually be stricken, but it is the best course of action now. Not in a few years or when we get a perfect one or whatever, but now.

There will never be a better time to get Iran to capitulate.

Irantalks_600

And it doesn’t matter who is president or who runs congress or what type of religious fanatic heads that god-forsaken shit-hole, but this needs to happen and happen as soon as possible.

Due to the collapsing oil market (its chief export), and crippling sanctions, Iran’s economy is in shambles. It is embroiled in (at least) a two-front war against ISIS in Iraq and what amounts to Saudi Arabia in Yemen. And while I think our involvement in that skirmish is misguided to say the least (for this space is on record as being vehemently against the Saudis in every way, shape or form and cannot believe to this day they don’t get more shit for 9/11, but okay, I guess oil is important and I’ll shut up about our hypocrisy in the Middle East, blah blah blah) it has drained Iran of its resources for war and terror.

There is also a real sense now that unless a deal can be worked out, there will be a proxy or outright war with Iran this country does not need, support for Israel or not. It is a war that cannot be won and one we cannot afford, and that, by the way, an overwhelming number of Americans oppose. Aside from tough-talking hawks who NEVER and I mean NEVER send their kids to war, this is a solution that is doomed to fail and because of that it is complete a deal or it is war, and that is it.

Sure, there could be war anyway, say if the Iranians do what Saddam Hussein did for decades and just pussy-foot around with weapons inspectors, but hey, we now know that Hussein was bluffing. Why? To keep the Iranians out of Iraq. Why do you think we propped his sorry ass up there in the first place? The vacuum created by Dick Cheney’s folly has given Iran full reign to their borders and for this they cannot be blamed. However, that is merely the threat of war, wherein without a deal war is imminent. Unless we are not entirely honest about preventing Iran to get a nuclear weapon, which in that case is another discussion.

This brings me to the childish notion that an imperfect deal means no deal. The very concept of a deal means both parties have to leave the table unsatisfied. Every deal known to civilization carries with it this caveat. The last time we screwed around demanding the perfect deal with Iran it went ahead and expanded its capabilities for nuclear weaponry by hundreds of centrifuges.

And finally it is nutso to claim that perhaps years from now a deal may come back and haunt us and so on and so on. Really? Neo-cons are making this argument? Haven’t we placated every nation in the Middle East over the decades for immediate gain, ignoring the long term ramifications, like Afghanistan to stop the Soviets and Iraq to stop the Iranians and please don’t make me name all these, you know what I’m talking about. It is the most specious of arguments against a deal. No deal is permanent and situations change with the times, but trust me the time for a deal has come.

What also makes the timing for the finalizing of a deal with Iran is the bitch-slap the U.S Navy just delivered on its wayward fleet this week. It is always easy for bullies to talk tough, until there is an actual showdown, and in many ways that is what happened in the Arabian Sea this week. Iran not only blinked, it closed its eyes and went home humbled. This is all you need to know about what Iran is willing to endure on the world stage. It is no longer speculation. It is a nation in dire need to make a deal and it is in the best interest of the region that one is struck immediately.

There will never be a better time to get Iran to capitulate.

Make all your lesser points for and against a deal with Iran. Go ahead. I am sure they are all salient. Here is mine, and it will not change; we must not be in any position to have to back up international diplomacy with the threat of war again for at least a generation, if ever. Least of all there should be no consideration to perpetuating such madness in the same region we just screwed up so severely it may take half a century to quell, if at all.

We have to stop thinking we hold all the cards all the time. We don’t Not here. Not now. If anything, we should be damned grateful Iran is on the ball of its economic and war-torn ass. Yes, we must be the more gracious of the two nations. Yes, we have to trust-and-verify. And yes, we have to avoid anymore wars.

We make this deal.

Now.

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MADAM SHOO-IN PART II

Aquarian Weekly
4/22/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

MADAM SHOO-IN PART II
Ms. Rodham’s Déjà vu Trail Begins Again

Okay, here’s the deal: Unless she murders someone or is murdered or convicted of an actual crime, or if someone finds the elusive “live girl/dead boy” in her possession, I write about Hillary Clinton once this year.

clinton2

This even seems beyond silly now, some five-hundred and some odd days from November, 2016 and a half year before primary season. Granted, this is Hillary we’re talking about; the original Madam Shoo-In, who unlike her male counterpart, George W. Bush (Captain Shoo-In) was not so much a shoo-in. Yet, she is preternaturally compelling; a weird combination of sort of beloved and very much hated. She is the New York Yankees meets Madonna; something far bigger than the actual thing she is supposed to be.

Let’s say for the sake of argument Jesus Christ came back this week. I would have to comment on this, no? And this is not to say I am comparing the possible return of God to judge the heaven and the earth to a Democratic candidate for president of the United States, but absent something that outlandish this is the political equivalent of a Second Coming. People assumed it, had faith in its coming, and now that it has come, you kind of have to observe it as sort of news.

Look, it’s news. Her husband was a two-term president, who for one reason or the other presided over the greatest peace-time economy in the history of this republic and in the grand scheme of things was arguably the finest president of the latter half of the 20th century because of it. If you are going to be fair, which politics is not, but come on; no wars, surplus, booming economy, and the aforementioned Yankees winning the World Series every year of his second term save one. Those were high times. Plus, Big Bill was entertaining. He was impeached. It was Camelot for bankers, lawyers and journalists; a Warren Zevon song come to life.

So, there’s that.

Plus, Hillary Clinton was in this same boat eight years ago and was ousted by the most unlikely candidate possible. I think even those who think Barack Obama is Satan agrees with that one. Before the autumn of 2008 the idea that anyone other than a white, male, Anglo-Saxon (probably Southern) protestant would be president was goofy. Shit, the only candidate who wasn’t all of these things (he was most of them) was John Fitzgerald Kennedy and he cheated, and then they blew his head off.

So, there’s that.

Then there is the fear factor. The Clinton Machine is no myth. It is real and it is humming again and that is cause for alarm and excitement. Don’t think Ms. Rodham strikes terror in all those who do not support her? Why do you think we were straddled with Sarah Palin? McCain and his people knew she was a moron, but they gambled on how much Clinton’s spurned legion would bring to their cause. Why do you think Obama made her Secretary of State? To keep her from mischief making on the sidelines. Why do you think FOX NEWS has already gone 24/7 nuclear on her? When MSNBC thought Chris Christie had a prayer they turned their network into Bash-Christie-All-The-Time. Ted Cruz ain’t getting that kind of wincing respect. Trust me.

AND finally, and even more implausibly, she’s a woman! A woman right now as I write this that has about as clear a path to victory this early than anyone I could recall who wasn’t already president. If they held the election, say, tomorrow or in a month or even at the end of this year, Ms. Rodham would win the damn thing by a fairly sizable margin. This is all hypothetical poll crap, but none of these hypothetical polls are reasonably close. She has 86 percent of her party wrapped up, leads the closest breathing Republican (Scott Walker – and he hasn’t even declared his candidacy yet) by double-digits, and the rest of the field by the kind of spreads that approach Putin-levels.

So, there’s definitely that.

What I am saying is I’m giving myself a pass on making mention that this past week Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her intentions of running for president AGAIN. But I’ll do this once and then let this thing ruminate for about a year. That’s all I have in me. And I am certainly not going to waste my time on people who barely poll at all like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul or that guy from Florida, who said something last week about being bursting with new millennium ideas and then supports the 60 year-old Cuban embargo. It’s Hillary and then back to real news.

Hell, if I am completely honest I have to admit that I’ve written probably the meanest, most spiteful columns in my nearly twenty years doing this about Ms. Rodham. I would say pound-for-pound that putting aside my irresponsibly vicious stomping of the deceased Ted Kennedy and maybe my stomach-turning eulogies of Gerald Ford and Jerry Falwell, my pieces on Clinton’s last run is as bad as it gets around here. That is until Dick Cheney kicks it. Then you’ll see a horror show.

Today, even I have a hard time digesting NEW HAMPSHIRE: SAME OLD SONG & DANCE – 1/16/08, THE EMPEROR’S NEW FACTORY GIRL – 3/12/08, THE PARTY VS. THE MACHINE – 4/9/08, LET’S MAKE A DEAL – 5/14/08, and BYE, BYE, MISS AMERICAN PIE – 6/11/08 – all of which include a fine sense of political reporting, but reek of bestial rage.

But if the opening days of this run is any indication she is the story here. Period. Not who wins, but if she loses. Think I overstate this? Check out the media obsession with her fast food lunch choices or where her van is heading next or listen to the torrent of attacks being heaved at her from desperate Republicans candidates – even some not who have yet to declared candidacy like our Chris Christie, (seven out of ten of us Jersey-ites thinks he sucks ass).

She is the New York Yankees meets Madonna; something far bigger than the actual thing she is supposed to be.

In many ways, this is a story about a story. This is not about Hillary Clinton at all. It is about Madam Shoo-In. She is no mere candidate, but an American monolith, a pant-suit gargoyle that reminds us that our choices are few and they come with fangs. Maybe another Bush should oppose her, turn this thing into a dung-fueled dynasty run.

Oh, and by the way, it is important to note, that while the Middle East continues to go wacky, there is no longer a non neo-con in this race. Even Rand Paul has given up the Libertarian charade. There will be war and it will include Americans dying after 2016. Make no mistake, Clinton is an interventionist and so is every Republican running for president. Not sure who will handle the ACA or the deficit or Wall Street or climate change or religious freedom, but mark this down, there will be war; Democrat or Republican.

Okay, I made it.

I’ll see Hillary next year.

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INDIANA DREAMIN’‏

Aquarian Weekly
4/8/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

INDIANA DREAMIN’
Theocracy Hoosier Style Goes Belly Up

Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
– Matthew 16:6

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the freedom to “hate” and the monumental difference between some college dink singing racist songs and the institutionalization of discrimination. And there could be no better example of the latter than what went down this week in Indiana with its fancy “religious freedom” law.Religious-Freedom-Law

What we are talking about here is the state protecting the right for any business to deny service to a certain segment of people based on religious beliefs without the threat of being sued. Seeing how most of America, specifically a significant portion of the business community, including large corporations like Wal-Mart, along with the political and media contingent, has gone ballistic over this goofy thing, we have to try to see the point, before carrying on our own fun-sized bashing.

Those who drafted and signed it into law, most notably Republican Governor Michael Spence, argue that it is patently unconstitutional for anyone to be forced to serve someone if their customer’s lifestyle is antithetical to their religious belief. And while religion has no bearing on the business world – some purported founders like, say, Jesus or Mohammad might argue the entire fiduciary concept is antithetical to religion itself, but let’s not approach that easy conclusion – it does prevent frivolous lawsuits from mucking up the court.

Sure, who wants the right to fight discrimination in court?

The other argument for the law is that it is religious freedom that is being discriminated against. Shouldn’t people be able to do anything they want based on their religious beliefs, including ignoring civil right laws?

Nope.

That kind of nonsense is called theology, or to use the Islamic term, Sharia Law. This is just the Christian version.

This is no law that protects religious freedom. It is a cleverly spiteful rejection of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality that is being fought vehemently by atavistic bigots all over this great nation. And yes, if you think another taxpaying citizen does not deserve the same right as you based on the difference in their skin color, gender, sexual orientation or whatever, you are indeed a bigot. It’s fine, live with it. I too am a proud bigot. I think people who base legal precedent on religious beliefs are idiots and should get over themselves and their half-baked illusions and stop pestering the intellectual and cultural evolution of the rest of us.

Feels good to admit it. Embrace your bigotry.

However, take that bigotry and make it law, we’ve got problems.

Fun pertinent fact: Indiana is the birthplace of the Klu Klux Klan, but I digress

First of all, religious freedom is already protected by the First Amendment. It is clear and no one has ever argued this. When marriage equality is the law of the land, and it will be, so please stop being the horse-and-buggy set trying to stop the advent of the automobile, no church, synagogue, mosque or Scientology hall will be expected to, or more to the point, be forced to conduct gay ceremonies.

The government or the shift in cultural winds can and will never intersect with religion. That is sacrosanct and it should be. Since embracing the beauty and majesty of the Rastafari, I am glad local officials are allowing me to smoke my faith’s requisite copious amounts of ganja unimpeded.

The previous notion of fantasy was brought to you by hypocritical discrimination against certain religions that don’t fit in with the fascist evangelical narrative. We now return to our screed already in progress

Let me be clear, even though I think religion is an insipid and dangerous tool of the oppressed, I am not mocking its use. Feel free to be a snake charmer for all I care. It’s just that when you speak in theological terms it is impossible to balance the morality of your customers. You see, if you are truly a Christian insulted and disgusted by the homosexual lifestyle and you feel it condemned by your God, then you must also be careful not to do business with anyone who is divorced or has coveted anything at anytime in their lives or failed to honor their parents or killed anyone, and by the way, good luck with that. We have all killed; you and me. We give money to the government and that government drops bombs on people, thus according to scripture and the Ten Commandments, we are murders, period. You want to be true to the letter of the almighty God? Face it, our bigotry is the least of our issues.

What I have described above is cultish behavior. America is not a cult. It is a republic based on laws, one of those very important laws defends your right to believe and worship to your heart’s content, but it is not an easy-pass to heap those beliefs on the rest of us and it sure as hell doesn’t provide the avenue to make a law that enforces an individual’s religious belief over another’s civil right. That is what political scientists call coo-coo.

Also, do we now have to pass a litmus test to see if someone will take our money? This is where we’re going? If I gamble, I can’t get a milkshake? What about my choice of hair style or code of dress or if my type of music is questionable? And, by the way, who decides this? God?

Which God?

And once you pick the God, I assume it will undoubtedly be the Christian God, which is a Trinity God and is adhered to the existence and teachings of Jesus Christ, who said, and I paraphrase, to not judge lest you be judged and who was absolutely without question an anti-religious revolutionary who surrounded himself with “sinners” and pissed on the Temple and its leaders with unflinching glee. That God? Yeah, okay. Nice try.

That kind of nonsense is called theology, or to use the Islamic term, Sharia Law. This is just the Christian version.

But, alas, stupidity has its advantages. This thing was so off-the-charts dumb it has scared the shit out of people who couldn’t care any less if gays marry or not, but are not so sure they want some religious nut-job deciding whether they can get a cup of coffee.

There is a pretty good chance that Indiana will be this generation’s Stonewall. It could and should place the final rung on the ladder to marriage equality and eradicate once and for all this latest in a long line of discriminatory laws and battles to keep our citizens from equal rights.

Go Hoosiers!

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MIDDLE EAST BLOOD JUGGLE

Aquarian Weekly
4/1/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

MIDDLE EAST BLOOD JUGGLE
or How To Hold Onto A Fistful of Rain & Not Have Too Many People Killed

Now that the bloody coup in Yemen has finally transpired and anarchy is the rule of the day, things have become extremely grim to the greater hopes this country harbors for a manageable Middle East. This has been our red herring since before World War II. It is our addiction; the junky U.S. Hell, this finger-in-the-dam illusion had its moments, but it also has an expiration date, and it has come due. blood_juggle2

Untenable is a kind word to describe our current events there, another more accurate has a military slant, FUBAR. And while the United States, in all its completely delusional might, believes it has a hand in this – beyond the hand that helped usher this inevitable madness along – there is little that can be done beyond containment. And the containment option did not work well for the British or any previous empire, so good luck with that.

Yemen certainly complicates things on the Iranian front. All this talk about Benjamin Netanyahu’s grandstand in front of congress a couple of weeks ago and his shameless flip-flop-a-go-go re-election being some kind of influence on all this is laughable. The United States is influenced by Israel the way a jackhammer is curtailed by the sidewalk. Israel is America’s bitch. It will do what we tell it and shut up when it needs to shut up. If this was up for debate then the U.S. would have let Israel retaliate during the first Gulf War instead of sucking it up. Israel exists to put fear into OPEC, nothing more. Netanyahu may be fooled by his influence, but we should not be.

No, Iran wants chaos in Yemen and the U.S. does not, or let me rephrase that, Saudi Arabia does not. And while there are strong indications that at least something can be resolved in slowing down its proposed nuclear ambitions through a multi-nation deal and its role in fighting the suddenly uber-important spread of ISIS, Iran cannot be allowed to mess with the Saudis. The U.S. is Saudi Arabia’s bitch and therefore we must put our cards in another cultural civil war that no one will win, but we will somehow be responsible to clean up.

Before we continue our review of FUBAR 2015, let’s get a few things straight: Every time the United States has conducted any military operation in the Middle East it ends in disaster, including the first Gulf War that appeared gangbusters until it lead to the emboldening of Saddam Hussein and its left-overs convincing congress to invade the nation and turn it into a tinderbox. Not to mention that we suck at war now. It is so bad that no one, not even the hawks in Washington, take this option seriously anymore. I have heard moans and laughter at events connected to early presidential campaign stops by Scott Walker and Ted Cruz when they start talking about military solutions in Iraq or Iran. No one with half a brain thinks the U.S Army can do anything but further inflame the Middle East, so believe me when I tell you that anyone who makes this point in congress or running for president is patently insane and should be shunned and humiliated.

This mess in Yemen also uncovers another marching line in our parade of delusions, Syria. The gory quagmire that is left of this country has been yanked into the ruin of Iraq and the Iranian issue due to the fact that since ISIS has become the enemy du jour both the Syrian regime headed by President Bashar al-Assad, who the U.S. has called a tyrant and worked with the Russians to curtail his use of chemical weapons on his citizens, has been an invaluable ally, along with, you guessed it; Iran. The Russians, embroiled in its own international quagmire in the Ukraine, has stood with the U.S on both fronts; supporting Syria’s fight against the push of ISIS and putting the screws to Iran over its nuclear program.

By the way, Russia scares the shit out of Netanyahu, and it should. One of the reasons, among many self-serving and some arguable, that he has gone ballistic to scuttle any deal with Iran. Something the IDF will not admit, but knows could be a problem, is Russia’s meddling in the Middle East, since OPEC has imploded its paper thin, oil-based economy in the last four months. Suddenly the pivot for Russian President Vladimir Putin to arms deals and ISIS killing could be a tricky problem for Israel, who spends all of its defense policy propaganda on Arabs.

Here’s a fun kicker; as recently as this week Iran, in a Netanyahu/Putin type photo-op maneuver to try and not seem too cushy with the U.S. and appear to not sell-out its country’s myopia decided to cease the defense of Iraq’ city of Tikrit against ISIS in protest to the United States’ continuing bombing campaigns there. This proves that once again while the military might of the U.S. resonates with the UN and the “we have to do something” crowd, it only mucks up the works.

This brings us to the final bit of juggling, and that is something we have covered here for sometime; the Sunni versus Shiite undercurrent, which is not so much an undercurrent as the primary reason for these weird alliances and bizarre massacres. There is and will be nothing 21st century diplomacy or military action can do to put a fancy ribbon on this nightmare. It ends in annihilation. And while it seems defeatist and nihilistic to suggest such a thing, it really makes no sense to try and put the proverbial square peg into the round hole either. No amount of money, negotiations, fast talk or tough talk or more to the point bombing or dead Americans is going to change this fact. It is the worst of civil wars, a religious/cultural one. And to be involved, which we definitely are, folks, whoever is president or controls congress or what year it is or who stands on what side of the ideological fence, will lead to bloody ruin.

Untenable is a kind word to describe our current events there, another more accurate has a military slant, FUBAR.

However, I think it is important for the smaller voices – mine being one of them – to at least point out the futility of trying to get this thing under some semblance of control. It was that kind of hubris that pretty much put this stuff in motion. Whether it’s the Shah of Iran creating the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini or the bolstering of Saddam Hussein to combat Khomeini or the ousting of Hussein to protect OPEC or the Mujahideen to combat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan or the second Iraq war to combat Hussein or whatever it is you call what is going on now, it is not a means to a positive end. Never has been, so what should make a difference now?

Okay, so maybe you say at the end of this, what is the United States supposed to do, nothing?

I ask: Has the United States tried doing nothing before?

If nothing is the alternative to our fingerprints being all over this horror show, I say, yes, nothing.

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THE EQUALITY OF HATE‏

Aquarian Weekly
3/18/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE EQUALITY OF HATE
Or The Delicate Balance of Us

Here’s one thing we know; bigotry, in any way, shape or form is never going away. Okay, so maybe if a meteor hits the earth or it floods over like 98 percent of scientists claim or if a mass virus kills the human race. Otherwise, failing that kind of calamity, bigotry is a keeper. Whether racist, misogynist, homophobic, jingoistic, cultural, religious, anti-rich, anti-poor, anti-government, idiosyncratic celebrity loathing, the idea of arguing that this is somehow rare and abhorrent behavior is silly. Everyone has negative thoughts about some people or some things, just as we have positive thoughts and opinions about other things. This is called humanity. It is what we are and it never fails to astound me that it surprises anyone, much less engenders the kind of sudden outrage in us. It’s as if people are slapping their cheeks in amazement that the sun is there every morning.thomas_jefferson_portrait

Humans – all humans, everywhere for the entire time they have been around – judge; harshly. Sometimes we do so with reason (a familial or cultural guidance, or an experience, both personal and general) and often for no good reason at all. Not everyone can know everything, and many of us refuse to enlighten ourselves to the basic panoply of humanity anyway – and even if we did actually know everything, the enlightenment would likely lead to a myopic conclusion that would only serve to feed the existing ignorance we cling to like a lifeline. Humans casually find something troubling about whatever it is that is different or whatever it is that makes them feel uncomfortable. It’s our thing. Anthropologists have pretty much concluded that it’s our main thing.

I think we see these notions as pretty much fundamental truths of being able to use our senses and our sense-memory and our nature-v-nurture to form completely reasoned or irrational fears and hatreds for some other group of people. It is patently wrong to consider this a deviation of the norm or a form of monstrosity. Hatred is a pure emotion, like love. It is a waste of intellect and energy to fight this. It just is. Our nature can no more change than our basic DNA. We have hair and fingernails and brains that immediately differentiate one thing from another, and this allows us to group people and construct generalities about them that eventually evolve into either worship and inspiration or devolve into bigotry and revulsion.

Most behavior, even acceptable social types of behavior, is engrained. It comes from a primal place; like people believing in angels or being afraid of spiders or feeling more comfortable in cities as opposed to the woods or vice versa. It stands to reason that if you are more adapted to one thing then the other thing would appear to be something you do not like. It’s not only ignorance or the fear of the unknown; you just don’t like it. Period.

I get the feeling sometimes, like this week when that video of the frat kids from Oklahoma were singing some frat song about “niggers”, that we see this as a shocking occurrence because it reflects in each of us what our own set of bigotries rears. It really doesn’t matter what these kids were singing; could have been “faggots” or “cunts” or “kikes” or “crackers” or “towel-heads” or “fascist right-wingers” or “liberal weenies”. Because when I hear any of these terms I lump them all together into a coagulation of our basic impulse. This is not unlike people trying to figure out why a man would arm himself to the teeth and go out one sunny morning and kill kindergarten children or why people plan for years to hijack planes to ram into giant buildings or what the hell the Nazis were thinking. There is no actual, reasonable explanation for these actions (admittedly and thankfully, all of these are outliers to normal bigotry), but rest assured these reactions are purely based on the natural us-v-them mentality that is made manifest in the core of our humanity.

I have no idea why these kids found it joyful to sing songs with hateful lyrics about a race of people anymore than school pride giving them a sense of self-worth. If someone wants to whittle these reasons down to youth or booze or peer pressure or a cultural miasma, or even if they wish to see it as endemic of the Southern culture rich with anti-everything-but-white-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant rhetoric, actions and traditions, they certainly can. But as much as we cringe to accept it, these are humans doing human things, just like the celebration of the Selma March last week was our society celebrating humans displaying human things, like rationality, bravery, passion, solidarity and defiance against institutional oppression.

This is why Thomas Jefferson could very well be the American avatar, and precisely why he was chosen to pen what would become our Declaration of Independence; a man who aimed for the highest honor of humanity in demanding our engendered equality while at the same time owning humans. He is our yin and yang. He fills both our base nature and our highest aspirations. Jefferson is our collective id and super ego, our ethos and pathos; a vain, racist, dreamer, poet statesman; the shining symbol of our schizophrenia.

This is precisely why you should ignore talk about our society being post-racist. This is like saying Americans are post-human.

Sure, I was stunned, and still am, that this nation elected an African-American president and considers a woman the frontrunner to succeed him. Stunned. Not because we have not come a long way from slavery and lynching and denying basic civil rights to taxpaying citizens or allowing women the right to vote and kind of coming close to earning what a man earns in the workplace and no longer finding it charming to being treated as if not deserving a crack at dignity, and we are kind of sort of coming to terms with the idea that anyone regardless of sexual orientation can play in our social sandbox. Nope. It’s because it was done in the face of our deepest desires, to judge something not the “norm”, or whatever it is that our traditions allow, as unacceptable.

Okay, so that brings me to the second racial story of the week, the shocking (being facetious for a moment) revelation that the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department has been working under a racist construct. This is where, as Jefferson rightly saw it, human nature must be curtailed. Of course cops are humans and therefore have prejudices as stated in the previous paragraphs, but when it erodes the systemic nature of law and order then it needs to be changed. This is how the Civil Rights Act gets done. This is how suffrage succeeded and how marriage equality will rightfully soon be the law of the land. In other words, people can continue treating each other as if some are better or worse than others, but the system shall do all it can to never reflect it.

Hatred is a pure emotion, like love. It is a waste of intellect and energy to fight this.

This is the difference between some asshole screaming racial epitaphs during a sporting event and a racist owning an NBA team. This is the difference between some goon from the neighborhood telling you that women who are raped cannot conceive a child and a senator espousing it. This is the difference between people being afraid of Muslims and an Alabama law that curtails their religion. This is the difference between people protesting against Planned Parenthood Clinics and states systemically reducing them. And this is the difference between a dickless frat boy singing songs and a police department targeting African Americans.

You see, the concept of America, at its best, really, is when we take human nature and put it on systemic trial. We accept through free speech and a free press and a democratic open system of government that we would eventually make sure that none of it is corrupted by our baser instincts. Freedom is at once being able to hate and not let it discriminate who gets to hate more.

We shall all hate equally.

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114th CONGRESS‏

Aquarian Weekly
1/21/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

114th CONGRESS
Welcome to the Jungle

And so the right to govern is upon the Republican Party, which has bitched for six years that it was the minority, throwing stones at the systemic glass house, but now finds itself at the forefront of legislation. Or, in other words, it is easy to be the outsider carping about how things could be different if someone else, namely you, had access to the gears. Now we’ll see how this goes.

There is little question that the Barack Obama Administration took a beating in both the 2010 and 2014 mid-terms. This is what happens to most presidents, some worse than others, and these were significant thrashings. The 2010 Tea Party movement following the completely partisan and highly questionable passing of the Affordable Care Act was monumental if not brief. In other words, this is what happens when a preponderance of people, many of those with no governing experience in the least, whose sole purpose for being elected is to stop the very thing to which they were elected to steer, can be troubling. Beyond Mitt Romney, a party-power moderate, being a total disaster as a presidential candidate, look no further as to why the Tea Party experiment lasted about 18 months and helped re-elect an anemic Obama.

The 2014 round was different because many moderates, or those who claimed so, took the point, and especially in the case of the GOP takeover of the national scene ala the senate, there was a fundamental shift in the RNC that took much of the groundswell of both Obama campaigns and funneled it strategically into winning back the game. It is important to note that by all indications the Republicans should have taken the senate in 2010 if not for the Tea Party muse of amateur candidates going sideways and scaring many voters who came in wanting a sea change.

One thing the 114th Congress has achieved in its victory is the continued perception that Obama is an abject failure as a president. His November low-40s approval rating, the spate of scandals vaguely attached to him at the beginning of the always dangerous second term, and his obvious lame-duck demeanor of “going it alone” on domestic (immigration) and foreign (ISIS) policies put him on very shaky ground.

However, much of the “scandals” attached to the president were wildly overblown (Benghazi) and some, while being indefensible, commenced completely outside the White House (IRS), but are hard to escape since the buck, as stated in song and story, must land at the executive’s feet. Having affirmed this, the Republican surge of 2014 is also different from 2010, because while being two years removed from a seismic financial collapse in ’08, the economic trends have been pointing upwards for well over a calendar year, and have recently spiked for the first time since before the 21st century into the category of solid. (2013 marked largest private sector job increase since 1999). Therefore, using the method for which the 114th congress wrested power from the Democratic power base – the fault of all things falls to the president – it would seem that some plaudits are due Mr. Obama.

Perception has quickly shifted since November – remember this is perception, not reality, a game usually played by the party out of power – now that the economic outlook has improved greatly. The reasons for which are many – some global, some policy-driven, mostly the pendulum swing of natural order, as many economists predicted during the 2012 presidential campaign that the candidate lucky enough to be around would benefit from the trend pointing upward. Had Romney prevailed he could claim, “I told you so” and if Obama won, which happened, he could claim a six-year plan reaping the benefits.

For the record, these include the unemployment rate down to 5.6 percent currently from 9.6 when Obama took office. Many rightfully cite that it is partly due to a preponderance of the workforce failing to even continue looking for a gig, which, we are reminded, was the also the case in 1986 during conservative economic stalwart, Ronald Reagan’s sixth year in office when the number was a steady 7.1 percent. And this was, as we all remember fondly, “Morning in America”. It is also important to note that candidate Romney promised to get the number down to under six percent by his apocryphal second term in 2016. It is two weeks into 2015.

Additional numbers compiled by Forbes magazine (hardly the font of Keynesian economics) from graphs presented in the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 report, reveal the result of 58 consecutive months of private-sector job growth (most in the history of the republic). This has slowly, if not painfully, produced an increase of 5 percent in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the most in over a decade. This is not factoring in the tripling of the stock market since 2009 and the recent dip in gas prices to under two dollars, which seemed so much a pipe dream also-ran Republican candidate, Newt Gingrich was laughed off the stage by a conservative audience when he promised to personally get prices under $2.50.

As stated, much of this spectacularly fantastic economic news when compared to the financial horrors of the Western hemisphere hanging from a thread in the autumn of 2008, are due to many factors well above and beyond the White House – not the least of which being the dreaded 2013 Budget Sequestration, which both parties warned would destroy the entire concept of the American economic system, can be seen as a very positive effect on this recovery, including the “congress of no”, which has substantially subtracted to the national deficit – $486 billion down from $680 billion in 2013. But if the perception of a corrupt administration was a determining factor for bashing the president then it stands to reason the perception of the recovery is his to gloat.

Thus the president’s approval rating has spiked to a modest, but hardly egregious, 47 percent. To contrast, George W. Bush, whose pathetic two-terms are unfairly compared to this president, left office with an amazingly sad 22 percent.

Okay, so where does this leave our 114th Congress, already cranking out bills to get the Keystone Pipeline going (57 percent approved by American public), hits on the existing Dodd-Frank law, and a legislative response to Obama’s controversial executive action on immigration laws?

One thing the 114th Congress has achieved in its victory is the continued perception that Obama is an abject failure as a president.

Unlike, say, the 1994 Republican Revolution led by Newt Gingrich, which assisted in making Bill Clinton’s late-90s’ economy by far the best war-free run ever, this is not a stable crew. First off, House Speaker John Boehner is mostly despised by his base and his trust factor with the president is nil, as is Obama’s record to deal with political adversity, (he sucks at it), while consequently Clinton thrived better under pressure than when things went fairly smoothly.

The good news for all of us is that this congress shows no signs of spending or even recognizing the final two years of this presidency, and most of the executive orders Obama has promised will do little to shift economic trends. The question, which now must be asked (some 22 months out) is who will take the White House in 2016 and what effect that might have in shifting power in the senate back to the Democrats, or if by then, as was the case with the swing from last summer to now, the numbers begin to lag on the perception of both parties.

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