NEW JERSEY: HOME OFFICE TYRANNY

Aquarian Weekly
11/5/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

NEW JERSEY: HOME OFFICE TYRANNY

It is not based on any clear public health evidence. It’s not the recommendation of public health and medical experts at this point. You know, I think we have to be very careful about letting politicians make medical and public health decisions, and all of the evidence about Ebola shows that if you are not symptomatic, you are not infectious.
– Kaci Hickox, nurse suspected of being infected with Ebola virus and involuntarily quarantined under recent draconian N.J. law.

What went on here in New Jersey for the past week is nuts. Wish I could embellish this observation more astutely, but I’ll stick with nuts. Governor Chris Christie and his partner in crime, Governor Mario Cuomo in neighboring New York, who have teamed up to keep both of their hides poised for doomed presidential runs, stood in front of reporters, live cameras and the citizens of their respective states and stripped them all of their civil rights.kaci-hickox-75

As much as I get the human nature to panic over deadly African diseases that don’t involve homosexuals – how many thousands of American lives had to be sacrificed to AIDS before anyone lifted an eye-brow in the 1980s – not sure that suspect Ebola cases warrant dumping the entire concept of the Bill of Rights down the crapper. Ebola, terrorism, World Wars, refugee crisis, you name it; first sign of trouble we’re trading in our rights.

Why?

Blanket quarantines of health workers with fevers, even in an unwarranted panic state is patently unconstitutional and deserved the ensuing outrage. Slice it anyway you like, but Maine resident and Doctors Without Borders nurse Kaci Hickox was a victim of systemic overreach, to say the least. Remember, anytime your government, federal or local begins selling the idea of trading in your civil rights for the greater good, take it for bullshit.

Forget the unheated cell-like bubble Hickox was forced to subsist in for a few days, which could have been 21 full days had she even come close to actually testing positive for the disease. In fact, Hickox, who revealed no symptoms of the virus (the only time it is contagious) merely registered a low-grade fever on a forehead scanner, though she had not previously registered a fever and has not since.

Ebola scare aside, this type of lockdown is symptomatic of a grander systemic issue; a knee-jerk stripping of our rights granted by law every time there is some kind of crisis. This mentality has lead to a our right to privacy afforded by the Fourth Amendment being obliterated by the goofy Patriot Act and the legal vagaries of the Affordable Care Act or something as onerous as Eminent Domain or even the unconscionably cruel internment camps for Japanese citizens, not to mention the always lamentable suspending of habeas corpus every chance we get.

I suspect this kind of fascist lunacy in Texas, but New Jersey?

This also gives us an insight into this “holier than thou” tough-guy routine run amok displayed by Christie, which is totally out of character for a mealy-mouthed talking suit like Cuomo. It is this sort of iron-fist bluster that has dragged Christie down with the Bridgegate scandal, which has thus far revealed no hard evidence of his personal wrongdoing but reflects his modus operandi for bending the law on a whim. And wasn’t it Christie who rightly pointed out that a person should not be assumed guilty by mere circumstantial evidence? Then why was Ms. Hickox assumed ill with less evidence by the same man?

Back home in Maine, Hickox is fighting for her freedom against another hypocritical Republican governor, who claims to represent individual rights over the “public good” in matters of gun control, federal funds to supports national health care, and this childish notion that denying the civil rights of gay citizens somehow protects the “sanctity of marriage”.

Here is a doozy from Governor Paul LePage: “While we certainly respect the rights of one individual, we must be vigilant in protecting 1.3 million Mainers, as well as anyone who visits our great state.”

Can you imagine if a liberal Democrat blurted that claptrap? It would take all of three seconds for someone to call him a Nazi.

Ah, but LePage nor Christie are Nazis. They are symptoms, deeper and more egregious than anything threatened by Kaci Hickox; this idea that it is perfectly fine to ignore the most fundamental right, more vital than the First Amendment or Second Amendment or any of the others – the right to exist. Once parameters are put on this, we might as well close up shop.

Even if the argument based on even a shred of medical evidence beyond panic is offered for rounding up a citizen and quarantining her, then what is to keep state or federal officials from throwing you in a bubble for sneezing? There is a crawling skin disease afoot and you happen to have an itch? In the bubble!

And then there is this very real social disease of ignoring the science in place of spastic hand-wringing.

A doctor on the scene at Newark Airport, where this state-sanctioned crime was first committed, stated clearly to officials that Hickox’s forehead reading was not an accurate one and that her flushed features did not constitute a lasting fever. In other words, this de facto jailing was done without proper medical science being administered; a classic ploy used to create unsubstantiated claims into law involving drugs (marijuana, steroids) or matters of environmental hazards (toxins, pesticides) or the poisons corporations are allowed to put in our foods (GMO’s).

Remember, anytime your government, federal or local begins selling the idea of trading in your civil rights for the greater good, take it for bullshit.

For years I have written of the war against intellectualism; specifically science, usually waged by either “traditionalists”, who claim that because something was always done this way that it should always be done this way and damn the facts, thus spitting in the face of progress or religious loons, who prefer voodoo reasoning backed by century-old screeds dictating modern law over the nuisance of reality.

This is what dooms us; not Ebola. Ignoring science and plowing ahead like frightened children is our disease. The entire scare, in a pathetic series of them, perpetuated by hungry media outlets looking to trade fear mongering for ratings and politicians, who love to exploit a crisis to appear decisive is a flimflam; a house of cards in which we place our precious right to exist.

“This is the government’s job,” Christie said of this dangerous law.

Causing undo panic, stripping civil rights and ignoring the facts presented by medical science? I suppose then he’s right.

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FEARGUSON, U.S.A

Aquarian Weekly
8/27/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

FEARGUSON, U.S.A

Ferguson is a city of around 21,000 citizens in St. Louis County, Missouri. For nearly two weeks now it has been the focal point of the nation, as the shooting death of an unarmed African-American man by a Caucasian police officer has sparked debate, protest, riots, armed guards, and, well…you know the routine. But what it is to the rest of us is Fearguson; a place not on a map with real people or actual ideologies, logic or law. It is exists in the deepest recesses of the human psyche, and because this is a free society that works under the laws of a nation that still bears the scars of its original sins, it boils over with two of humanity’s most basest instincts; Fear and Anger.cnnmailbox_65

It doesn’t get any more primal in the human condition than Fear and Anger. These are the biggies; empathy, sadness, love bounce around in there somewhere, but at our core, as mammals, we react immediately with Fear and Anger. It is the basis of all violence and war. Name one act of violence; whether personal or systemic, and it is derived from Fear and Anger. Sure, sometimes it is masked in wealth, borders, religion or ideology, and most times it is propped up by race, nationality, gender or economic standing, but mostly it is merely Fear and Anger.

The reason I delve into dangerous Freudian corners on this is there is no way to properly process why it appears that once a week a black man is shot dead by a cop, mostly white ones. Or why African-American communities erupt either with righteous anger or indefensible rage resulting in destruction of property, arson and looting. None of this can truly be explained, unless you get down to the raw truth of it; Fear and Anger.

I broached a similar framework during the 1992 L.A. riots over the brutal beating of Rodney King by white police officers. And as we are learning now in Ferguson, it does not happen in a vacuum. There is history there, as in L.A. It was long and festering – going back to the Watts riots in 1965 – this bitter tension between the police and black communities. No way to understand what the hell was truly going on if you watched that nightmare unfold from afar; back East or in the Midwest, without understanding that history; a history of Fear and Anger that had no other possible conclusion but to explode into violence.

The dirty little secret of the 1994 O.J. Simpson trial in the wake of ’65 and ’92 is that it had no chance of ever being about Simpson or the people he allegedly murdered, despite the preponderance of physical and circumstantial evidence against him. It was the history of Fear and Anger that fueled the “not-guilty” verdict. This eerie sense that it was entirely plausible that he could have been framed by a police force so damaged by its continued actions against citizens of color that it almost became a fait accompli.

Let’s forget race for a moment and concentrate on matters of the state – the system – law enforcement culture versus the ideal of citizenry. On a grander scale, I return once again to the 1960’s, where Fear and Anger had its most visible parade of loons and goons, primarily due to the widest generation gap in our nation’s history and a completely immoral, insane and inexcusable war in Viet Nam. The unrest on college campuses and the violence in the streets across the country in the escalated stages of the war, when it appeared to even the most jingoistic among us that this horror show was now merely a killing ground of youth and a massacre of civilians abroad which had reached its saturation level, especially for a federal government that felt as though it was being challenged by radicals possibly backed by communist interlopers.

Who can forget the images of the children, mostly white middle-class kids, being beaten into bloody pulps by crazed policemen in the streets of Chicago or frightened national guardsmen opening fire on students carrying books at Kent State? That single film of a shaggy-haired kid running for his life across a newly-shorn campus lawn brilliantly captures the point.

There is no getting away from what lurks way down there

But that all feels like another age; a much scarier and untenable world of chaos, but it was nothing more than Fear and Anger; fear of being murdered for the United States saving face internationally and the ensuing anger of being its fodder and the resultant fear of a complete crack in the nation’s foundation and the unremitting force needed to quell it.

Months after 9/11 the entire country fell victim to Fear and Anger. It was an absolutist’s dream, and the first time since World War II where the nation rallied against a single enemy, even if it meant that enemy was among us; Muslim, Arab, etc. Sure as hell there was Fear and man was there ever Anger. It was not a proud time. It revealed, on the most basic level, the Fearguson edict; and although it did not blow up in spastic acts of anarchistic violence, it was a slow burn into some of the most heinous war crimes committed since Viet Nam.

Los Angeles. Chicago. Watts. Iraq. Ferguson.

Fearguson all.

What Fearguson is comes from the core of this country’s being; it deals with race, economics, bigotry, and distrust of authority – some of it earned, some of it calculated – as it also comes from a predisposition to judge, on both sides; a bunker mentality that reflects our most embarrassing faults; we’re human. Not monsters or mutants or alien beings; humans. ISIS in Iraq, Nazis in Germany, KKK in Alabama, Black Panthers in San Francisco, hippies, yippies, Birchers, TEA Party, 99-percenters, NRA, NOW, gay, straight, black, white, Christian, Muslim. Human.

It all comes from Fear and Anger. Doesn’t matter what triggers it; overzealous police or enraged citizenry. Look how the mayor acted this week, the governor, the voices on cable news, your friend’s opinion, this column.

We love to pick sides and weigh the consequences of other’s actions and find a safe place to land ideologically. We love our psychology and philosophy and our reason. But there is no getting away from what lurks way down there.

Fear and Anger.

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AUGUST 8, 1974

Aquarian Weekly
8/13/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

AUGUST 8, 1974
The Seeds of Reality Check

Richard M. Nixon, August 8, 1974, speaking from the Oval Office:

I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.

Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow.President Nixon with Advisor H.R. Haldeman

Ah, yes. Forty years ago to the day I write this; I was eleven years old lying on the floor in front of my parent’s trusty RCA, pawing through the new reprints of Will Eisner’s Spirit. Eisner created and produced many of his legendary character’s exploits in the 1940s’, but was resurrected in the 70s’ as part of a growing interest in the anti-hero, vigilante, masked marauder; half on the side of the law and the other half in the shadows; a “spirit”. Unbeknownst to me, it was the perfect metaphor for what I was about to witness at nine bells; the president of the United States resigning his post – embattled, disgraced, busted cold for high crimes against the Constitution. It was a defining moment for me. It shaped all that has been written in this space for coming on 17 years this month.

The first thing I recall about the presidency were tapes of John F. Kennedy’s speeches on space exploration that came with a record album of the 1969 moon landing, a celebratory moment of patriotism which froze the nation in wonder just five years prior. The fallen president had foretold the triumph, the record boasted. To a kid, just learning about world events, it was as if Kennedy was still president. He was not. I was told he had been gunned down six years before. I recall every November 22nd people would drive their cars around Pelham Parkway and Morris Park Avenue with the lights on as a tribute to the fallen president.

This was my introduction to American politics; murder and crime.

Of course, this became something of a joke in my first civics classes in 1976, the year of the nation’s bicentennial celebrations; where for the first time I would learn about the origins of the nation with bold talk of liberty and God and apple pie. Three years removed from the horrors of Viet Nam, another sunny display of America’s stains. I remember those images from television too. But war was still something of a romantic haze for me; war comics, war films, war games, war toys. Imagination over reality, like a president’s voice heralding a mission launched during the first term of a man I was now watching quit the most powerful job in the free world, Richard M. Nixon.

I spent the summer of 1973, the first one in Freehold, New Jersey, a long way from the Bronx, and a long way from everything I had known for the first decade of life, watching the Watergate senate hearings, or as it was known then, “the trials”. I had yet to make friends, and it was so damn hot outside and the bugs were incessant and every TV station – we had five of them then – had the damn thing on. So I found myself weirdly in a trance in front of the tube watching powerful be-suited men sweating beneath a torrent of hard queries couched in the kind of moral berating I had come to know all too well in Catholic school.

These people were in big trouble, and America was coming apart.

My parents, especially my mom, tended to downplay these things, as there was a sense in our house that these people were going about “business as usual”, and too bad for them, they were caught. Could have been the last guy or the guy before that, but it happened to be the 37th president of the United States going down. Hell, my parents had watched the entire western hemisphere balanced like an egg on a high wire in October of 1962. Could you blame them for not batting an eye at this? I was barely one month old, their first son, and a good portion of the planet was minutes from annihilation as Soviet warships approached U.S. shores. Forty-one days into life and it could have been curtains for me.

So maybe America wasn’t really coming apart. Maybe it was just Nixon coming apart. Not every president uses the White House as a criminal syndicate and not every administration has some 48 persons indicted for crimes and a dozen or so others do time and the chief quitting outright on national television. Of course, we still had yet to endure Ronald Reagan, whose administration still holds the record for 138 indictments and 21 convictions, or Bill Clinton, who was officially impeached, something Nixon never was, or whatever crazy shit George W. Bush finagled and this new guy, same as the old guy, whose NSA still runs amok, as he drags us back into Iraq.

These people were in big trouble, and America was coming apart.

But it was hard for me and my generation to grasp, that weird cusp of the Boomers; too young to get high at Woodstock or worry about things like race riots, assassinations and the draft, but too old to ignore the glaring fact that those at the top could not to be trusted. Since much of what the government did prior to the Kennedy assassination, Viet Nam and Watergate was viewed as a deep matter of public trust, this was a new way of understanding.

All of it began to unravel, thank goodness, in my formative years; this charade that all-is-well and that the smart and powerful have everything under control, was fast coming to a close. The Kennedy assassination opened a nation’s eyes, Viet Nam gave us something to see, and, well, the crimes of Nixon pretty much sealed it.

You might call it a reality check.

August 8, 1974.

Forty years ago.

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VA SCANDAL: OUR IMPRINT, OUR LEGACY, OUR SIN‏

Aquarian Weekly
5/28/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

VA SCANDAL: OUR IMPRINT, OUR LEGACY, OUR SIN

One can conceive, even fathom something as horrifying as the Veteran’s Administration systematically allowing dozens of wounded soldiers to die and then scramble to cover it up, just as easily as one can conceive and even fathom the bizarrely ritualistic lies, deceit and ideological idiocy that put them there in the first place. There is the din of bureaucracy, money, ineptitude, and plain human nature to ignore “problems” of this magnitude when it is so overwhelming it reaches Biblical proportions. The question before us is why is it that so many dubiously opaque crises/scandals seem to be pored over with obsessive myopia, but this one, for decades, has been shrugged with a collective shoulder.Memorial-Day-AP75

Over two administrations now, both Republican and Democrat, there have been revelations of egregious treatment of veterans by our system; the first, the woeful conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital in 2007 and now these new murderous allegations of the VA Health Care System in Arizona. Never mind the known troubles with such institutions since WWII well into the 1970’s, depicted graphically in memoirs by veterans of several wars too numerous to recount here. Yet, despite some oversight and investigations that receives a third if not less of the media coverage and overall slanderous rhetoric of lesser “crimes”, these fail to resonate with the American public, no matter what ideological line one inhabits. And while there is bi-partisan rage and lip-service condemnation from two presidents, this abomination, as damaging to whatever withering tatter of a soul is left of this nation as one can imagine, we see none of the hyperbolic outrage given to the ACA or the IRS scandal or this obsessive nonsense surrounding the Benghazi embassy attack.

Why?

Is it because it involves the military and the Pentagon; and these have been arguably the most untouchable monoliths of our bloated and mostly ineffectual federal government? Why is it that it takes about five minutes of knee-jerk debate and a few flimsy pieces of evidence or bent reasoning to stumble headlong into war; flushing billions upon trillions of our money on needless slaughter from the jungles of Viet Nam to the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq, but when it comes to dealing with its most heinous realities, that our youth has been cut down, mutilated and massacred, we meander along endless lines of time?

This is how big our Military Industrial Complex has become; a gorging monster of bureaucracy that consumes up to 19 percent of our national budget, nearly as much as the much-ballyhooed entitlements, Social Security (24 percent), or the combined spending for Medicare and Medicaid (22 percent). According to a Peter G. Peterson Foundation study published in April of this year, the U.S. defense budget dwarfs those of ballpark economic stalwarts combined; China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, UK, Germany, Japan and India respectively at $607 billion to our stupefying $640 billion. And several studies have shown, and much of it pointed out in congress during last year’s sequester debates, that a healthy dose of it is either outdated or unnecessary.

Yet no one blinks an eye.

Why is this self-contained, hardly ever dissected monstrosity spread around the globe like a bottomless money-pit never put up for discussion by anyone on either side of the political aisle when seriously deciding the fate of the national debt or outlandish deficits or other well-tread political footballs?

How did the denizens of defense, this sub-cultured, fund-gobbling cottage industry, become so untouchable that it barely gets a whisper and people run from it like gun laws?

Why is it that it takes about five minutes of knee-jerk debate and a few flimsy pieces of evidence or bent reasoning to stumble headlong into war… but when it comes to dealing with its most heinous realities, that our youth has been cut down, mutilated and massacred, we meander along endless lines of time?

This VA disaster, a legitimate scandal of epic proportions and an a pox on our American ideals, whatever pile of streaming feces that emerges from, should be front and center above all else. What kind of putrid nation that waxes poetic at every nauseating turn about “supporting our troops” and respecting and thanking our fallen for “protecting our freedoms” on the eve of Memorial Day allows this to happen without gutting the whole damn thing piece by piece?

The Military Industrial Complex is too big to fail or god forbid too expansive to even approach with a critical eye; and so the victims of its gorging mass of inhuman machinery get swept under the rug. We should be ashamed that these people, and they are people as they were people when they were so flippantly referred to as “troops”, (a more dehumanizing term is hard to find), are even languishing in these half-assed institutions, needing the kind of one-on-one care rarely afforded to them, while waiting for treatment as if someone with a head cold.

Everyone and everything is to blame for this. Forget merely firing directors and tossing more shit on congress and the president; we the people should look ourselves in the mirror as we continue to go about our business and complain about health care costs and standards of living and taxes and regulations and drugs and civil rights as neighbors and sons and daughters and friends continuously get shipped off to a nihilistic never-land to be carved up in order to keep this monster fat and happy.

After the morally bankrupt nightmare that was Viet Nam and all the pathetic fuck-all that followed, we still find ourselves whistling past a very real and lasting graveyard that has out names on it; our legacy, our sick obsession with war.

Our sin.

This is ours.

We own it.

For good.

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LAST CHANCE POWER DRIVE

Aquarian Weekly
1/15/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

LAST CHANCE POWER DRIVE
Chris Christie: Welcome to Thunderdome

Well, it was a good eight weeks for the governor of New Jersey. Two months ago he was the Republican lion, staring into national TV cameras and commanding the rest of the world, especially Washington DC, to take a good, hard look at “How things are done here in New Jersey”, so we could all learn something. Yes, he was riding high. A remarkable 65-percent pounding of a Democrat in the proverbial Blue State, looking like a prime candidate for president of the United States and a true challenge to the type of demographics that will likely fell the GOP on the national level for generations.

Next thing you know he’s in a the docket of the state capital giving nearly a two-hour mea culpa speech replete with words like “sad” and “embarrassed” and “sorry”, trying to explain how he’s not a bully, something he has staked his reputation on. Around here, this type of strong-arming comportment is known as “tough”. However, for a man who routinely calls people he finds objectionable “idiots”, the details are always in the semantics and how people outside of this historically corrupt state would see our “business as usual” as something less appealing.christie_65

Of course, none of this is any good for Chris Christie if he has designs on being president of the United States, or even to continue governing N.J if this thing finds its way into Drumthwacket, the bizarrely appropriate name of the governor’s mansion in Trenton. I only know this because while schooling down there in the early 80s’, our collegiate custom was to heave ice balls over the fence at Thomas Kean’s basset hound.

At least we thought it was a dog.

Be that as it may, even if Christie knew nothing of the “bullying” or “revenge” tactics his closest aides perpetuated on Fort Lee due allegedly to its mayor, a Democrat, not endorsing his Caesar-like campaign that was well in the bag by the September date this four-day traffic jam choked the gateway to the one of the most highly traversed bridges on this continent, it reeks of chaos.

Chaos may be gangbusters for stoned college kids pelting a defenseless canine on federal property, but it’s bad for politicos with agendas. The perception for Christie to be unflappable, undaunted, even irascible had to be strengths going in, as most of the Right in this country and a large defection of Independents have decided that whatever is currently going on in the White House is flimsy, uninterested and indecisive. Backtracking on this kind of nonsense does nothing for this “image” of the recalcitrant do-gooder. It is bad branding, and if this had happened this early to a leftist, African-American nobody Senator from Illinois in the first few months that people started to take notice of him, Hillary Clinton would have already been president.

Speaking of Joe Cool, maybe Christie’s cries of having heard about this scandal on the internet the day he headed for his lengthy “hand-in-the-cookie jar” yammering qualifies him for the presidency. Barack Obama’s modus operandi lately has been Ronald Reagan’s fancy “no recollection of events” defense of a myriad of weird to criminal actions by members of his government, from whatever happened in Benghazi to the IRS screwing with conservative groups to the drunken power of the NSA well into the roll out of this Affordable Care Act boondoggle.

Maybe Christie has hit upon something here. The fact that he may have known about this act of political vengeance, so prevalent in the history of governorships across this fruited plain, is for the investigations and courts to decide, but at least we know this; if he were this unaware that his top aides were perpetrating a heinous level of malfeasance than he’s the idiot. And then the next logical question would have to be, what’s worse; insidiousness or ignorance? Reagan and Obama embraced ignorance and it paid off handsomely for Reagan and so far Obama’s “What the…?” response to his brand of chaos has kept the big dogs at bay. Let’s face it, I’ve heard the arguments proposed by the independent investigative councils looking into most of these screw-ups, and they may be sillier than the president being out-to-lunch since the spring of 2011.

Chaos may be gangbusters for stoned college kids pelting a defenseless canine on federal property, but it’s bad for politicos with agendas.

Let’s face it, overreaching the opposition to how a chief executive reacts to a potential scandal tends to engender blow-back sympathy for those who don’t see the president or this governor as a tyrant but merely an insufficient leader, like the last guy, whose presidency came in with tragedy and left with the implosion of the Western world’s economy.

But anyway you’d like to slice it; political or perception, this ain’t good for the new kid in town; especially this early in the game, when the national mood is ornery to outright fierce. Until he officially announced his intentions to run for the nation’s highest office, nothing close to this mess could befall Christie. But here we are, a mere eight weeks into the nation peeking into the Garden State, and things have gone sideways.

If nothing else, it goes to show you how far it is between this bitter winter of 2014 and whatever emerges in the summer of 2015 as a viable challenge to the status quo, which may now not include one Christ Christie.

Hey, he’s the idiot who ordered us to take a good, hard look.

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SYRIA – JUST SAY NO

Aquarian Weekly
9/4/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

 

SYRIA – JUST SAY NO

                                                 Keep on chooglin’.
                                                         – John Fogarty

This is a nation of war junkies. I’m a junky, you’re a junky. We cannot get enough. There isn’t a skirmish, civil war, revolution or upheaval that we can’t comment on, Syriainvestigate, monitor or butt into. It is amazing. Since World War II, arguably the only war this nation has involved itself in that remotely hinted at national security or moral imperative, we have stumble-bummed our way around this globe to horrific results.

Now here comes the nightmare of Syria.

In no way, shape or form should we bother to even nod at this atrocity. It is classic Eighth century madness perpetuated by 21st century weapons. It is a firestorm. It is a quagmire. Most pressingly, it has no direct correlation to the running or defense of this nation. It will end in disaster and huge debt; none of which we can afford after 12 years of this miserable shit.

So, of course, we’re seriously discussing diving right in.

It is important to point out that despite begging the first of our fabulous warring Bushes to not sink us in the Kuwait tomfoolery; this space supported a second move on Iraq in 2003. Never in my most cynical, hell-addled imagination did I think we could fuck that up so spectacularly. I lived through it and reported on it and I still find it hard to believe what an incredible stank fest that thing became, and this was facing a fractured military force which had surrendered to CNN camera man a decade earlier.

Believe me when I write this; Syria is another animal entirely. This is not a good idea now, and never was. Even the humanitarian-chemical weapon excuse our government is pitching is weak when compared to the consequences. We get directly involved in this shit storm and there is a whole bunch of crap to pay.

Believe me when I write this; Syria is another animal entirely. This is not a good idea now, and never was. Even the humanitarian-chemical weapon excuse our government is pitching is weak when compared to the consequences.

Let the Russians deal with this. Syria is their bitch, their oil supply. We handle ours, Saudi Arabia, the right way. We forgive their human rights atrocities, their terrorist activities and toss them tons of money. We bow to their leaders on the tarmac and sell them huge chunks of our major cities. This is how it is done. But Russia is a broke anachronistic lump of atrophied machismo, whose leader is a foul wretch comically under the delusion he still matters. It is sad, but it is their sadness, not ours. We have our own broken Middle East junk; and that’s on the $$$ docket for many generations.

So we need to go cold turkey, turn away from the pure, deadly stuff before it gets on top of us for good and we end up like a bloated Elvis, slumped off his toilet and face down in the shag rug.

Consider this an intervention.

Was Viet Nam not enough of a near-death ride?

Sometimes it’s a party and then it’s that one time – a lethal speedball with John Belushi in a steamy cabin at the Chateau Marmont.

Syria is our speedball.

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EQYPT: DEMOCRACY, RELIGION & THE GREAT DIVIDE

Aquarian Weekly
7/24/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

EQYPT: DEMOCRACY, RELIGION & THE GREAT DIVIDE

Author’s Note: It is imperative that one comes to the following with the jaundiced view shared by this space that in no way do we think there was, is and will be anything truly binding to this fourth or fifth Arab Spring in Egypt. Mostly, these people are nuts. This is no way to run a democracy; incessant revolution is bad for commerce, tourism and general stability, and if history has taught us anything – and that concept only works if you know anything about past events that almost always effect current ones – then Egypt may well go the way of 19th century France or 20th century Russia. It was difficult for anyone to fathom the volatile nature of those places and the volumes of gibberish it produced from people who lived through it, much less those with the clarity of hindsight. Let’s just say if the entire place isn’t burned to the ground by late-October it is a victory for the human race. Now carry on…egypt

The current chaos that is Egypt provides juicy insight into how a 21st century Middle East democracy can run; either as an extension of the fourth century tribal councils that dominate a fair portion of the region or some semblance of a secular law-based structure which might serve as example and catalyst to the world stage.

Granted, the former has had a tremendous head start. Tribal councils are pretty straightforward and have little room for messy things like debate, dissent, diversity, human rights or, god-forbid, voting. Hard-line is easy; it’s the way things have been done and the guys in charge use mystical reams of holy rhetoric and violence to keep the occasional “How about we try…” set in line. Democracy, with its handing over major decisions on ideological concerns to the greater populace, is dangerous for any culture; even those not mired in the whole pre-enlightenment milieu.

Unlike Israel, which had partial democracy heaped upon it by world war, genocide, colonialism and the inevitable march of progress, Egypt has exhibited an insularly deliberate crawl into the values of individual freedoms. The Egyptian model is unique. It comes – with all due respect to the piles of money it receives to make nice-nice with super powers – from an internal will to balance its religious traditions with its yearning to grant a voice to all its people.

However, unlike Israel, the echo of puppet regimes and violent upheavals surrounding its boarders has given the nation pause. There has never been a sense that Islam is without its influence in Egypt. On the contrary, it lives and breathes within its tenuous democratic construct in a far more powerful way than the nationalistic fervor of the Zionists. One does not get the sense that the bankrolled democracy of Israel is flexible in the way it perceives its sovereignty or its separation from its enemies, which is every bordering state.

Egypt is bipolar; even in its geographical location – the cultural origins of Africa mired in Middle Eastern turmoil; loaded with oil and little else, save for a tourism trade slowly eroded over the years with a growing western sense that its potential dangers outweigh its seductive landscape.

Its generational gap is growing, and with it an embrace of the type of technologies which obliterate superstitions that oppress women, art, press, and general free expression. As in all nations teetering on social revolution, the world’s alternative visions wash over Egyptian youth with reckless abandon. And unlike the outrage aimed at western ideals and culture prevalent in the 1979 Iranian revolution, Egyptian youth do not appear to be sated by returning to the purity of the past.

This begs the question; can Egypt truly be a model for the rest of the region’s view of democracy; a far more organic and sane template than the war-ravaged, westernized abomination in Iraq formulated by aging, white, Anglo-Saxon Cold War relics at the barrel of a gun.

The Egyptian people, made up of some Christians, but mostly Muslims, and within the Islamic faith, the Salifis, Sunnis,Sufis, have not yet found a common ground democratically. The question for them, as it was in the first Arab Spring over two and a half years ago, is to choose a religious-based society run by a religious-based government or one democratic secular state that respects all sects and faiths and moves the evolution of free thinking forward. This was, allegedly, the nation’s aim when booting its previously democratically elected president, Hosni Mubarak in favor of a new order, dissolved parliament and restructured constitution.

However, after a military “handling” of a special election, the Salifi-led Muslim Brotherhood movement took the reins of the fractured parliament with less than 50 percent of the national will and then propped its new president (receiving barely 51 percent of the vote), Mohammad Mosi into power. Mosi and the Muslim Brotherhood, wholly unpopular among the rankled 49 percent from day-one, began to run things as if they had been handed one of those tribal council type deals and this was not going to fly with a country still stinging from the street protests that captured the world enough for the military to act in ousting Mubatrak in the first place.

Egypt is suddenly faced with a singular religious dilemma in its burgeoning if not slightly off-kilter democracy. The Mosi/Muslim Brotherhood “experiment” was a bust. The near-majority of the nation now roundly rejects the running of things by order of the Qu’ran, including state-sanctioned crimes against non-Salifi citizens. But what is the choice? To fully separate a deeply-held religious base from the public sector; respect its moral and traditional tenets, but keep it where it belongs in mosques and homes and not in the building of roads, delivering of mail or especially the law of the land. Or give up.

This begs the question; can Egypt truly be a model for the rest of the region’s view of democracy; a far more organic and sane template than the war-ravaged, westernized abomination in Iraq formulated by aging, white, Anglo-Saxon Cold War relics at the barrel of a gun.

It is, unfortunately, the barrel of the gun that rules the near complete anarchy that has exploded on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and many cities across Egypt now that the military has once again taken charge; failing to give into semantics that the country has suffered its second military coup in two years and faces sanctions from its benefactors, including a scrambling U.S. that appears it will continue to send its $1.6 billion of “aid” to its tenuous ally if an exhumed mummy ran the place.

Although half the country losing an election, throwing a hissy fit and forcing the army to take over the government does not a democracy make, this could well be Egypt’s chance to stand up for the human condition in a region ravaged by civil rights atrocities and religious madness. It is a chance, as rare as they come, to shift the course of history and find a legitimate, internal, democratic form of government which represents the whole of the people against the myths of religion and tyrannical traditions that conspire to strangle liberty.

Author Postscript: Not likely.

Do yourself no favors and “like” this idiot at www.facebook.com/jc.author

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GRAPEFRUIT CIRCUS BLOWS THROUGH TOWN

Aquarian Weekly
7/17/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

GRAPEFRUIT CIRCUS BLOWS THROUGH TOWN
Florida’s Reality Show Kangaroo Trial Achieves Maximum Effect

A spectacular bevy of ridiculous bullshit has gone down in the now-approaching seventeen years I’ve penned this column. I have been forced to write about more than a few of them – the last one being the whole Donald Trump pay-attention-to-me-I-have-money-and-a-tv-show-otherwise-I’m-the-guy-you-try-and-avoid-while-getting-on-the-subway-screaming-that-aliens-have-lodged-a-brain-washing-device-in-my-rectum media blitz. Normally I think everything is entertaining; mostly kids falling down wells or dogs dragging seniors from burning buildings or wells, but rarely is any of it news. But this whole George Zimmerman trial has to be news, right? It is on television all the time; and I mean ALL the time. It’s like the Olympics without all the talented shut-ins on steroids.zim_2

So, let’s see, we’ve already covered the outcome of this on the 28th of March, 2012 in a rather spiteful piece called LOOK AWAY DIXIE LAND on how embarrassingly terrible the South always seems to be when things like this “happen” – what with all their silly laws that allow people to shoot other people for “feeling threatened”. By the way, that is the law; this Stand Your Ground thing, which is so off the charts goofy it deserves to unearth the level of crap we have endured now for well over a year and in our faces for the past weeks.

Way back when, before Al Sharpton got involved, this was not self-defense or race profiling or gun control or even, (gulp!) politics, whether Floridian or national. This was and still is about a law that allows a man to kill another man at his discretion.

Outside of the poor souls that live in Florida, no one should give a shit about their laws anyway, unless they want to challenge that law as unconstitutional, which it may or may not be. Let’s face it; killing people on a whim was very popular in 1788, when the thing was ratified. Dueling was all the rage then, until it reached national status – kind of like a Zimmerman Trail circa 1804, sans cameras, lawyer-experts or HLN. When Aaron Burr, the sitting vice president, shot to death a founding father of the nation and a recent secretary of state because Aaron Burr was pissed about being framed as “voluptuary in the extreme”, only then did the whole dueling craze pass into oblivion.

For the record, the word “voluptuary” (the kind of accusation people understood as reasonable cause to be blasted in the chest with steaming hot lead at twenty paces) was a nineteenth century slight intimating that a person of repute was far more interested in money and sex than high-minded human endeavors, which is now considered high compliment among rappers, professional athletes, bishops and 83 percent of congress.

But, I digress, as is my wont here when procrastination beats actually putting into words that George Zimmerman was completely within his rights under Florida law to shoot a kid – a kid, mind you, armed with nothing but Skittles – in the heart at point-blank range, simply because he was getting his ass kicked.

And that’s the nut for me; Zimmerman is innocent of whatever happened in Florida, where killing is a way of life, like orange picking and dying in a retirement home, but he’s still a pussy.

Jesus, man. Do you have any idea how many ass-kickings I’ve received? And many of them have not been solicited; the way Zimmerman apparently felt the need to do. I hardly had to be chased down to get my beatings. In fact, it was mostly the other way around. And for the record, if I were being chased by that asshole, you can bet if he caught up to me, I would not be hanging around asking what it is he might think in his muddled I-need-to-be-important psyche. I might go at him like a wild banshee and sort out the consequences later.

For poor, young, black Trayvon Martin, the consequence was death.

In the end, whether South or North, this is the model of how we handle things in this country – a little show piece and then back to the business of bullshit. It is a rare delight, however, to have our steaming pile paraded the way it has in this “trail” hour after miserable hour and day after miserable day to help us fully understand how truly brutal the human condition can be.

And, by the way, I am not saying race was not a factor. Of course it was. Everyone admits the crimes in the area Zimmerman was patrolling were being committed by mostly, if not all, people of color. And by “patrolling”, I mean running around acting like he was some kind of de facto authority with his CB-radio and his gun and his little pick-up truck, trying to act like Chuck Norris or some other middle-aged goofy white guy the television culture has elevated to the level of folk hero.

The black kid running with the hoodie and the macho talk about “creepy looking crackers” and Zimmerman, in hot pursuit, intoning about “fucking punks always getting away with it” all plays a part. But the most pertinent is a man and a boy (male testosterone on heavy display) doing everything in their power to provoke, instigate, grandstand and put themselves into a position where violence ensued.

It’s pretty much a stark metaphor for human civilization and not so much a far cry from Burr’s fatal shooting of Hamilton all those years ago, and everything in between.

And here is where we get to why any of this got to trial in the first place, and why it has been rolled out like a reality show. The state of Florida wants this to go down with some kind of ancillary nod towards decorum. You can’t have all these shootings go on without someone getting their dander up. Throw them this dog & pony show for a few weeks, allow some cameras and commentators in, and then when the guy walks, and there are few riots here or there – one can only hope – then it’s back to business and nothing changes.

This is how it goes in the South: “Lynchings? Oh, they’re horrible, but a legal and perfectly honorable way to make sure black men don’t, you know, look in the general direction of a white woman or dare to take a sip out of a fountain marked for whites, or, apparently, walk down the street with some candy and soda. Sorry, it’s the law, have a nice day.”

In the end, whether South or North, this is the model of how we handle things in this country – a little show piece and then back to the business of bullshit. It is a rare delight, however, to have our steaming pile paraded the way it has in this “trail” hour after miserable hour and day after miserable day to help us fully understand how truly brutal the human condition can be.

What should happen is someone should sue the state and drag Jeb Bush – goddamn it if only George Senior had kept the thing in his pants, we might have avoided some serious crap these past decades – into court and pound him incessantly for signing such an unconscionably asinine bill into law.

The villain here is Florida and Bush and whatever local yahoos cobbled these suggestions of free-wheel killing on a “feel” to “feel” basis.

George Zimmerman is not the problem. He is the proverbial pimple on the monstrous ass of this lunacy. He is a lesion on the rotting husk of a dying man. He is mucus. He is pus. He’s our chubby symptom.

Oh, and as a postscript to this madness; over 70 people were murdered by gun violence over the holiday weekend in Chicago, Illinois.

When is Al Sharpton heading up there?

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EVERYTHING IS DISEASE

Aquarian Weekly
6/26/13
REALITY CHECK
James Campion

EVERYTHING IS DISEASE

Disease – a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.
– Webster Dictionary

The American Medical Association has officially recognized obesity as a disease, a move that could induce physicians to pay more attention to the condition and spur more insurers to pay for treatments.
– NY Times June 18, 2013

The fancy bureaucratic body that brought you “bully awareness” in the summer of 2002, covered adroitly if not with snot-nosed assery in this space in the 6/26/02 Reality Check under the headline IN DEFENSE OF THE AMERICAN BULLY, now opens the floodgates to a juicy pile of human frailties with its “Obesity is a Disease” offering. And if you failed to notice the little nugget attached to the lead in this week’s NY Times piece about spurring more insurers to “pay for treatments”, then it gets even better for us all.

First things first; it is official that everything is now a disease and therefore must be treated as so.kid

I am vertically challenged.

Disease.

I am also a jerk.

Disease.

I cannot wait for my next annual physical. My doctor already thinks I’m insane. He’s going to love this one.

“How are you feeling, James?”

“Short.”

“Ha! Funny.”

“Discrimination!”

“What?”

“The person who came in before me was a load and I’m short; so what’s the difference?”

“There are no health concerns for being short.”

“Really? You should have seen the beatings I took in schoolyards. Also, I repeatedly wrench my back trying to reach high shelves. Not to mention the agony I’ve suffered searching for a decent-fitting tweed jacket.”

“This is not funny, what is actually wrong with you?”

“I’m also a jerk.”

“This is true, but it is not a disease.”

“Tell that to my wife.”

And believe me, I shall be taking these matters up with my insurance company, and just to stick the social knife in and twist it, I’m going to get a national insurer under the Affordable Care Act and you can pay for my being a jerk, which, in an existential sense, makes me an even greater jerk in need of serious attention.

Faith is now also a disease.

Believing in the existence of something with no immutable evidence is a serious disease. Now some would say this falls under the heading of insanity, but I ask; whose sicker, the corpulent or those who put the balance of their health and well-being on wild supernatural notions?

You know how many faiths there are and how much money these things bring in? There is a whole slew of the diseased out there just waiting to be treated. Soon there will be a pill for this; “Here, take two of these and by morning you’ll come to the conclusion that your entire belief system is childish and sad and you will then either turn into a jerk, which is something we also have a pill for, or live out your life not basing your view of reality on fairy tales.”

Now this is progress and evolution. The AMA has a point and I’m on board.

And is fat like obese, as in “I’m feeling fat today”? Is it “I’m feeling diseased today”? Or “Man, I should not have eaten that street burrito at two am after fifteen beers” diseased? Or the “Entire Midwest region of the continental United States” diseased? Or “80 percent of the Pittsburgh Steelers tailgaters” disease?

The only problem is it threatens the Gay Rehabilitation racket, especially now that everything is a disease – eye color, skin color, hair style, dialect, sexual orientation. Even Alan Chambers, whose unbelievably brilliant money-printing con-job Exodus International (another in the endless line of diseased faiths) had to close the largest gay rehabilitation centers going. Chambers, a self-loathing gay man whose wish was that everyone end up like him and shut off their identity under the guise of shame, guilt and that faith thing again to get “straight”, sees the writing on the wall: This is the AMA’s problem now.

Chambers recently addressed a gathering of the diseased faithful and said for the past 37 years this whole “you can pray the gay away” sham was hurtful and wrong and some other thing he thinks is either getting him into heaven or keeping him out of jail. Couldn’t be sure, since most of it was in tongues, but, suffice to say, there really isn’t any point in trying to change gays as there isn’t in changing caucasians or people who are really good at playing the piano. These people are simply diseased.

Not sure how far we can go with sexual proclivity here, it has many possibilities that go far beyond things like “sex-addict”, which has all the scientific probability in humans as say alcoholism or gambling addiction or drug addiction, all of which, beyond mere genetics like in a preponderance of cases with obesity or sexual orientation, height, race or whatever else we’re passing around with all the sex, are apparently diseases.

And should we get in on the whole “what and who decides what makes someone obese” discussion? Does the line shift, like how much alcohol in the blood stream is legal? Or how much sugar should be in drinks? Or what plant you can smoke and which one you can’t? Or how fast you can go on certain roads?

And is fat like obese, as in “I’m feeling fat today”? Is it “I’m feeling diseased today”? Or “Man, I should not have eaten that street burrito at two am after fifteen beers” diseased? Or the “Entire Midwest region of the continental United States” diseased? Or “80 percent of the Pittsburgh Steelers tailgaters” disease?

And where does stupid fall in all this? Can we get a little love for the stupid? There is so many of us out here. We have talk shows and run for congress and dupe the faithful and develop TV series that exploit the stupid and run customer service for Expedia and work the counters at Guitar Center and build condos in flood zones and get high ranking jobs with the NSA and consider Chris Bosh, who scored zero points in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, part of some imaginary Big Three or root for the NY Jets or play the lottery or continue to teach our children that Columbus discovered America.

But most importantly, should there be a Jerk Council now? Can we get some funding on developing a cure, maybe call it Jerk-Off? Something catchy like that.

Just trying to help.

Which is also a disease.

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EDWARD J. SNOWDEN & GLENN GREENWALD: HACKING INTO HYPOCRISY

Aquarian Weekly
6/19/13
REALITY CHECK
James Campion

EDWARD J. SNOWDEN & GLENN GREENWALD: HACKING INTO HYPOCRISY?

If there is one thing that this space has tried to illustrate for the past 16 years is that hypocrites are not the exclusive property of ideological or political affiliation. In the past weeks, as we have been inundated by a phalanx of stories depicting with grand detail one fuck up after the other from the current administration, which whisked into Washington five years ago on a transparent change in government delusion, here come hordes of congressman like Rand Paul (threatening to take the NSA to the Supreme Court after he dismissed the same body as meaningless following the landmark Affordable Care Act ruling) and senators like Lindsey Graham (supporting the government’s spying on citizens’ phone and e-mail records while arguing that gun background checks are an invasion of privacy). It is a wonder you vote.
snowden
I have never seriously voted. Mostly, I backed candidates with no chance to win as a protest against two representatives from massive corporate-backed political parties offering nothing approaching an original thought or concept. Then my mortal enemy, Al Gore decided he needed to be president, so I all-but worked with the Bush campaign to smear his sorry ass back to Tennessee only to watch the dumb-struck asshole who bested him make a mockery of governance for eight long years. Then I decided to vote for Barack Obama, as a member of my own generation in protest against the annoyingly overrated Boomer dipshits who preceded him, only to be once again stuck with another lost idiot acting as if he just woke up and someone told him he was president.

But my voting record and vast disappointment with politics aside, there never appears to be anyone truly minding the store, so it’s back to figuring out exactly how the shit-house will go down this time.

This week the latest in a long line of computer geeks given access to a spectacularly massive cadre of sensitive national security files, Edward J. Snowden has clearly represented why neither political party will ever have the answers needed to quell the rapacious need for the American people to appear free while feeling safe, or other such fairy tales.

Okay, so you would have to be completely in the tank for the sorry butt end of whatever remains of a national Right Wing movement in this country not to have noticed that for two congresses now Republicans have provided nothing in the way of serious legislative rebuttal to what they deem as “socialist, anti-American and freedom-threatening policies”. In place of doing its job, the GOP-controlled congress decided to throw feces against the wall and screech like monkeys to make the Democratic president look ineffectual.

This worked great. He was re-elected by the greatest margin a member of his party tallied to secure the presidency since Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964. I was two at the time. I was 50 last November. That is a long run with no Democratic dominance at the executive level. And you know what; it ain’t gonna end soon. Not with the current demographics of the country pointing Left and an entire generation of young people fairly certain the majority of the Republican platform is religiously-based nihilistic bigotry.

Snowden’s anti Big Brother Libertarian roots are only outdone by Glenn Greenwald’s ultra-radical attempts at dismantling the American myth.

On the heels of this we have Mr. Snowden, a 29 year-old Booz Allen Hamilton employee (contractor to the National Security Agency) and chronicled supporter of Ron Paul’s anti-government brigade, leaking classified top-secret material to a foreign newspaper. As another quick aside, lord knows the sub-contractor element is not lost on me, the near victim of many hoaxes perpetuated by “businesses” I thought I was hiring to do jobs, only to find they merely fobbed it off to some other dinks, whose only care to the completion of said job was to not get caught screwing up, which in my case, they most assuredly did.

Snowden’s motivations for leaking vital defense intelligence on a lark are best framed by the reporter who broke the story, Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald told the NY Times this week that his infamous source for the British paper, The Guardian scoop “knew that in order for someone to do this story the way it had to be done he had to be in an adversarial posture vis-a-vis the U.S. government.”

Snowden, an “ex-CIA” (once CIA always CIA – ask Lee Harvey Oswald and George H.W. Bush) who claims after making a living working in the business of citizen surveillance suddenly found Jesus and decided this was crazy, wanted to join the “feces tossing task force” and make nasty for what could tactfully be described as a beleaguered president. However, Greenwald’s analysis mirrors the very argument for Daniel Ellsberg’s outing of the gargantuan lies the U.S. government laid on the American public for over a decade of unsanctioned mass murder in Viet Nam.

You see, although it appears as if Snowden is just a radicalized version of say Mitch McConnell, whose failed attempt at turning his senatorial position into the home-base for making Obama a one-term president, there is something far more interesting. Both Snowden and his non de plume Greenwald are Ellsberg worshippers (full disclosure, so is the author). Moreover, Snowden reportedly met directly with the nation’s most cherished whistleblower through documentarian, Laura Poitras this past January.

Snowden’s anti Big Brother Libertarian roots are only outdone by Glenn Greenwald’s ultra-radical attempts at dismantling the American myth. Greenwald’s current post at The Guardian has given the ex-litigator and award-winning blogger legitimate reporter contacts and sources, many of which were used to reveal the “secret wars” both hot and cold the U.S. has been running since 9/11, including the Dick Cheney/Karl Rove/Scooter Libby outing of a CIA agent in 2005.

Greenwald, an ex-patriot forced to live in Rio De Janeiro with his Brazilian partner because of discrimination against same-sex marriage, which consequently disallows similar rights of citizenship to heterosexual couples, has personal as well as ideological issues with the United States government of which he wrote in the preface to his wonderfully cynical 2006 book, How Would a Patriot Act, “the fact that this seizure of ever-expanding presidential power is largely justified through endless, rank fear-mongering—fear of terrorists, specifically—means that not only our system of government is radically changing, but so, too, are our national character, our national identity, and what it means to be American.”

The Snowden/Greenwald partnership in bi-partisan derision for the flimsy foundations of this republic has come at a crucial time, as new and old neo-con voices begin to bellow about dragging the U.S. into another bloody quagmire in Syria – trumped by ex-president, Democrat Bill Clinton and former presidential candidate, Republican John McCain.

Killer drones, Gitmo, an endless war in Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, systemic discrimination and the rank hypocrisy of our times, all neatly wrapped up in one single act of blessed conceit by pissed-off people with a pen.

That is something I can finally vote for.

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