Democratic National Convention ’08

Aquarian Weekly 9/3/08 REALITY CHECK

THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHILL Democrats Make Mile High Noise & History

There are only two aims of achieving success at a major party’s national convention; define/redefine the candidate while skewering his opponent and bridging any chasms widened by primary overzealousness, power positioning, and/or the expected special interest harangues. This week in Denver the Democrats rolled out their dramatically manipulated showcase to bring the Obama brand in from the far-left, Commie-pinko, radical-darkie wilderness, dogpile on the frightening glut of Republican stupidity, and save November from the hordes of Clintonites frothing at the collective mouth to implode the immediate future.

Obama in DenverWhether this multi-media flimflam was a success is purely in the eye of the beholder. FOX NEWS continuously paraded out one stone-faced commentator after the other to deride it as a sham, while MSNBC gushed like apple-cheeked cheerleaders at the slightest utterance. The actual networks, cutting in only for the final hour of coverage each night, unfurled what could only be described as the look of annoyance for interrupting Celebrity Slug Chewing for this banal absurdity.

And it’s hard to blame any of them. Conventions have lost its luster for this reporter, especially ones not attended or at least infiltrated by some cheap mole in my employ. In fact, this is the first presidential election in years wherein The Desk or its pale pre-comparisons would not have any firsthand inside knowledge save for whatever minced across our television screens in all its Hi-Def glory.

But what could best the actual drama of “true conventions” like those in the early 20th century, sprayed unceremoniously with vicious bullspit careening from the mouths of angry delegates who screamed mercilessly through thick clouds of cigar smoke at union leaders and mafia thugs. Oh where oh where are the fistfights and chain-beatings, or even hissy fits by lifers like Ted Kennedy and Pat Buchanan or power-grabs by staunch heavyweights like Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson; the real old-world rough-and-ready politics that inspired this boy to borrow its addictions for weekly fodder?

It is dead and gone now, tepidly replaced by the sounds of two-dimensional revelry. These are no longer Conventions, but Coronations; a final bugle cry over the ghosts of an ancient American battle heard beneath the agonizing din of digitized chicanery. Merely echoes; sad echoes of once potent political muscle whitewashed in a sea of queer sentiment.

Ah, but somewhere this week there was a place for those echoes in Madam Shoo-In’s “endorsement” speech, which roused the faithful to conveniently forget her ideological and personal crippling of the eventual Democratic nominee for six months of ugly campaigning. But despite the obvious hypocrisy of the thing, Hillary Clinton did her party proud, erecting a plethora of reasons why a “lesser-of-two-evils” vote for Barack Obama beats the living snot out of another four years of GOP madness.

It was sound reasoning, even by a jilted harpy in her element; signs waving madly with her moniker one last time; written boldly and then ripped from the clutches of apoplectic delegates to be replaced with much more party-friendly UNITY signs.

All hail the neck-wrenching U-Turn of party diplomacy!

“This man is incapable of nothing but dooming us all!” to “If you give a shit about what I was trying to do by openly mocking your candidate, you had better cast vote for him!”

But the Clintons are nothing if not professionals, and they effectively accomplished the second of the two convention goals, mending fences.

On the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the third generation removed announced, “I get it.” And this is the fundamental difference between the old guard and whatever this Obama insanity represents. The vision of the dispossessed becoming the reality of change; not only political or ideological change, but unmitigated rubber-hitting-road change.

For his part, Big Bill pulled out one of the finest performances of his ex-presidency. The tired pathos of his loose-cannon ramblings a few months ago on the campaign trail was replaced by a stirring oration, a greatest hits of the Clinton Repertoire, reminding us of his robotic capacity to grandly hoist fury without peer. He was reborn in it. You could see glimpses in how this slick southern grifter had once gained the world’s highest office. It was like watching the Elvis Comeback Special in ’68, when, for just a fleeting moment, an apparition of rebellious boogie madness emerged from a dreary decade of bad movies and silly posturing.

Not even vice presidential nominee Joe Biden’s pugilistic meandering could douse the festivities. In a strange way, The Biden Bulldog approach is an apt juxtaposition to the otherwise “above it all” Obama, who needs to maintain his amiable exterior and let the cranky, old canine attack, not unlike the squeaky clean grandfatherly Eisenhower standing behind Dick Nixon’s carnivorous snarls.

Biden was brought in to “connect” with the disgruntled Reagan Democrats that Senator Rodham so deftly courted in the primaries, but his ranking as third-most-liberal senator behind the candidate he joins, along with his Catholic faith, only serves to further weigh down this unlikely underdog ticket.

But it matters little now. Because after what transpired in the Coronation’s final evening, how can Barack Obama deign to be president? It will be a step down to what he has become, this living symbol of the American Dream, the struggle of those not “in the club” busting through the invisible ceiling for a slice of the pie, a voice in the clamor, a head to be counted. He is also by every account – pro or con – the New Guy; new to the game, new to the gig, and new to past generations of every imaginable failure.

If he were to lose, following the empirical pomp of his stadium triumph, could you picture this man skulking back to the senate like John Kerry or wandering around screaming about Global Warming like Al Gore? Perhaps someone could find him another country to run, maybe a more progressive, fun-loving, wackier country.

Even if he happens to win, still one of the great long shots in western civilization, it will never eclipse the immensity of the night the purpose and power of this improbable run stood before 80,000 manic and weeping minions beneath a barrage of fireworks and confetti to accept a major party’s nomination for the presidency.

On the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the third generation removed announced, “I get it.” And this is the fundamental difference between the old guard and whatever this Obama insanity represents. The vision of the dispossessed becoming the reality of change; not only political or ideological change, but unmitigated rubber-hitting-road change.

Those of my generation, Obama’s generation, were given the breath and length of the unprecedented opportunity to “get it”. And although tons of sky candy, blasting music, tearful tributes, and political theater are filled with nothing but big noise and empty promise, none of it adds up to the guy at the podium “getting it”.

Now he only has sixty-odd days to convince an ultra-conservative, puritanical, fear-addled nation that he “gets it”.

But for three days what looked and sounded like “the same ol’-same ol'” careened into the final fifty minutes as nothing we have ever seen. And that is more than a show, bub, that’s history.

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Open Letter To Barack Obama

Aquarian Weekly 8/27/08 REALITY CHECK


The following was sent from The Reality Check News & Information Desk to the Obama For America campaign headquarters on the late afternoon of 8/20/08.

To the faithful,

I am in no mood for professional niceties, unless it involves a devolved fit of abject rage and spite, for which I am currently well primed. Less than twenty minutes ago I took the business end of a rusty axe to this conjunctively rotten “wireless keyboard” the bloated snake oil fiends at Microsoft had the audacity to ship to my new digs here at The Loft on Clemens Estate. There is no use trying to explain the motivation for such an irrational act. Suffice to say it had to go. The goddamn thing was as useless and infuriating as nearly every half-assed piece of miserable crap those spastic nerd zombies continually pitch as technological elixir. Fuck them. They are damned lucky I don’t festoon the gnarled remains in dog shit and mail it postage due to Bill Gates’ mother.

Needless to say, this eerie mental infarction set off shock waves through the outskirts of our normally sleepy neighborhood. It’s been a rough few days for these people. Around midnight Friday, the giant maple tree at the far end of The Compound’s Building #2 cracked in half and took down several power lines, plunging miles of homes into complete darkness. Unbeknownst to them, much of their electrical current was rerouted to a phalanx of burning wires spilled along the edges of my property. I screamed; “My lawn is on fire!” for six consecutive minutes before the arriving police apprised me that lethal levels of toxic smoke had been billowing uninterrupted into my lungs the whole time.

Now an otherwise melodious late-summer afternoon is obliterated in a din of manic screeching and cursing, as I repeatedly bashed what passersby could only hope was an inanimate object onto the doorjamb of my office, and then, after kicking and stomping every key from its cheaply fashioned moorings, I stumbled into the deeper reaches of my barn to grab the bluntest object I could find and impale the enemy of my purpose: To make words, these words, sent to you.

I only recount the fallout of these ridiculous events to prove a point; shit happens, and you had better be prepared to do anything it takes to see it doesn’t derail your goal. My goal was to get this letter out today, come hell or high water or failing equipment from faceless corporate junk peddlers. We do not suffer swine with a smile here at The Desk and so shall you not suffer it from this moment forward, especially if you want to make good on this insane promise to sweep a liberal, African American intellectual from the North into the presidency. But as you face insurmountable odds, remember one crucial element: You are the Forgotten Generation’s only hope now, pal; the lost souls born at the ass-end of Boomer and before the beast-whipped sensibility of the seventies fully rendered X’s apathy.

We do not suffer swine with a smile here at The Desk and so shall you not suffer it from this moment forward, especially if you want to make good on this insane promise to sweep a liberal, African American intellectual from the North into the presidency.

Don’t fuck this up. I mean that in its most base form; DO NOT FUCK THIS UP. Any burp, any mild slip will doom us all. Listening to the dyspeptic reciting of historical perspective by mind-raped worm lizards working at the NY Times is a recipe for defeat. All those jackasses who prompted you to get in the mud ring with the Clintons have proven themselves laughingly ineffectual. Keep the chin up and the hands clean and we might survive this weird experiment until mid-September with a puncher’s chance.

A Puncher’s Chance means having little or nothing to do with the powerbrokers of this condemned Democratic Party of yours. It is loaded with freaks and losers, and no one without dung for brains believes a single word any of them utter. Shit, two years ago the lot of them were elected railing endlessly about stopping “the war”, but as you may have noticed, it was as binding as a mortgage writ on the Florida coast. Time to finally distance yourself from those who will anchor your wings, including deranged assholes like Jesse Jackson who canonize victimhood, but they are nothing more than malicious creatures devoid of conscience. When they reach out to befriend you your soul will whither to dust. There is clearly documented incidents of this in the Library Of Congress – look it up.

Jesus, man, you’re not even from the South! How is this supposed to work exactly? I can tell you now, ignore the South, the whole horrible abortion of it, just make as if it never existed, as Lincoln did. You stand in awe when you realize that in 1860 the greatest president this country ever produced carried only two of 996 counties below the Mason-Dixon line. Let the goobers paint you as a snubbing elitist; it only emboldens the Midwest. Those people are angry for being jerked around for twenty years by the socio-theological yammering that passes for political platform. They don’t give half a fart who marries whom or gun laws or rap music; they want to be counted, so get the count. Get it twice if you have to. Ask Teddy K. how to do it before he slips into final unconsciousness.

Next week you’re going to stand in a football stadium and pomp it up, but know this; only the most wretched, morally stained mutants can survive what you are about to encounter. I have watched a parade of dime-store charlatans maneuver their rotting corpses into the White House for over four decades, and for the first time someone born within fourteen months of me, and in a stunning development, actually someone who doesn’t want to make me gag has a shot at the Big Chair.

Focus on that and forget all these silly pleas for Eastern Europe or asinine lip service for a Maoist Fairness Doctrine and begin to pay attention to the white-haired wild man behind the curtain. His eyes never look right to me. They dart queerly and his grin is a mask of sinister madness. But I am not averse to vote for him. I do not hate John McCain as I have hated almost everyone who has fronted a major party since 1972, but McCain used to have a point, now he believes in nothing but winning. I find that strangely refreshing, like Brett Favre going all Paris Hilton to play another down of football. But this is more than politics or voting or a laying of hands. It is about destiny and righteousness and getting what I want, what you want, to force the bastards to eat dirt and like it.

So as I sit here banging on my old, reliable keyboard and stare unblinkingly at the mutilated remnants of what used to pass for newfangled technology, once a shiny beacon of possibility silenced forever beneath a blizzard of misguided passion, I offer these words of wisdom: One man’s salvation is another’s demon.

Let this be your lesson and your clarion call, my friend.

Yours in battle,



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Obama In The Uphill (Part II)

Aquarian Weekly 8/13/08 REALITY CHECK

OBAMA IN THE UPHILL Part II Electoral Map Realities Douse Change Parade

There are many weird concepts the American people are willing to accept; seraphim, truth in journalism, the infallibility of heroism, patriotic duty, lottery tickets, all-meat diets, love, Hare Krishna, humanity; but one thing they are apparently not ready swallow is the next president of the United States being a black liberal one-term senator from the north. The evidence of this is reflected in the current polling data coming out of the individual state counts, which will ultimately decide whether Barack Obama or his Republican counterpart, John McCain will be our next chief executive.

Frontrunner McCainIf it is not McCain, we have ourselves a story, bub.

It has been a horrid twenty or so months for Republicans, and their man has spearheaded what many RNC insiders have called a “god awful shit-can” campaign. Yet he survives, while Obama barely leads in polls that your average citizen lies in not appear racist or just plain stupid.

But it’s not merely race or the goober-quotient that hounds Obama, as many victim-jockeys offer up in handy excuse form. For decades this country has exhibited a conservatively uninteresting voter block for president. Beyond boredom, there is nothing particularly galling about this, but it is fact – something lost on crazies like Chris Matthews who insist on describing the older, whiter, military candidate as an underdog. Americans generally go for blandly fabricated billboards, certainly not anyone resembling Barack Obama, whether black, red, orange or green.

This is about the time when you’ll hear the word radical thrown around. Radical? Obama is about as radical as the next button-down lockstep who runs for high office. You want radical? There is a long frightening list located in the deep draw of The Desk, to be published by autumn.

It is these among other crucial reasons that this race is currently wide open with nearly 170 electoral votes up for grabs, including the standard lynchpin states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, etc.

Ohio, the most economically devastated state in 2004, loudly resounded that it would rather collectively starve than vote for any pansy liberal. The same people who doomed John Kerry buried Obama by closing their eyes and holding their noses to vote for Hillary Clinton, who’d somehow managed to convince them she was the second coming of Huey Long.

Pennsylvania was not kind to Obama in the primaries either, and although he holds a six to eight point lead now, the money people around his camp are very worried that his failure to secure the Philadelphia suburbs in the spring could eventually tip the state to McCain on Election Day.

For its part, the McCain campaign has taken the bait and dumped twice the cash than Obama on media presence in both states. The silly “Make Obama look like some kind of Biblical myth or celebrity airhead” has made its rounds in places where “uppity” and “arrogant” combine nicely with “elitist” and “lofty” to drum up a significant enough voter fear.

And, for the record, there is no way McCain loses the predominantly senior-laden, Jewish block-vote in Florida to Obama. Democratic 50 to 1 spending and not a single television, print or radio ad run by Republicans has resulted in more or less a flatfooted tie.

The failure to secure even one of these three huge electoral-rich states, ones with Democratic blood on their hands in the past two presidential elections, has sent Obama headquarters scrambling to engage discussions on the Midwest and challenge the heretofore Republican stronghold of the deep south. But early returns do not support this effort. Republicans enjoy double-digit leads almost everywhere below the Mason Dixon line. Let’s face it, without uttering a single word, McCain can be confident that most of the South is spoken for.

Only Virginia and Georgia can conceivably lean toward Obama, their cities teeming with a strong African American vote, but McCain still maintains a pretty solid seven-point lead in Georgia and Virginia has never moved more than a percentage point one way or the other. Talk of North Carolina being in play is a media fantasy pitched to drunken lacrosse freaks at Duke for a lark.

It is early August and we have another Inevitable Candidate who does not have the numbers. Things have shifted seamlessly from the Hillary Myth to the Obama Myth.

Approaching the Midwest, Obama has decent leads in his home state of Illinois and bordering Wisconsin, but inexplicably barely holds leads (Iowa – seven-points) or trails in other border states, such as Indiana (two-points) or is being routed in Kentucky (20 points). Iowa is particularly troubling when considering it was the state that started it all for him in February and hailed him as the Democratic nominee in June, and has suffered McCain’s wrath for this ethanol energy business for years.

Prevailing wisdom among the pundit elite, when they are not slobbering all over themselves laying odds on these innocuously vapid VP choices, has heralded Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada as the new Battleground States. Okay, great. Let’s have a look how our Change Candidate is doing in the Rockies and the desert.

Colorado, an increasingly liberal state in a time of deep hatred for all-things Republican, has endured a considerable influx of McCain and Obama ads, yet remains even. In a few weeks the Democratic Convention in Denver should boost Obama’s flaccid numbers here, but how much will his triumphant acceptance stadium rally on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech further paint him as a vacuous superstar? Remember that Obama has every advantage here, not the least of which is a moderate Republican running for governor who has openly endorsed the Democratic candidate.

New Mexico, another state that boasted impressive early numbers for Kerry in 2004 only to swing Republican is also on the bubble. It’s governor threw the Clintons under a speeding train too late for the Obama camp, which as a whole sees Bill Richardson as a pusillanimous opportunist who will doubtless end up fucking them if he is not offered the Vice Presidency, of which he most certainly will not.

Finally we have Nevada, which is still embroiled in secret lawsuits from the Clinton hardliners over shenanigans in the scheduling of its January caucus. Once again, in a year replete with doomstruck economic forecasts resulting in rabid anti-Republican fervor, McCain stands dead even.

And while Obama has rapped up most of the northeast sans New Hampshire, which not only resurrected the Hillary monster in February but also simultaneously gave rise to the reanimated McCain Express, looks shaky at best. Obama barely leads in Minnesota (two to five points) and Michigan (four points), which he will certainly lose if McCain chooses Mitt Romney as a running mate, and he is somehow down in Missouri.

It is early August and we have another Inevitable Candidate who does not have the numbers. Things have shifted seamlessly from the Hillary Myth to the Obama Myth.

Someone needs to show this space better state numbers in the next three weeks or it will doubtless take one of the most baffling upsets in recent presidential campaign history to keep John McCain from being the 44th Commander-in-Chief.

It’s not about the hoopla. It’s the numbers…stupid.

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Obama In The Uphill (Part I)

Aquarian Weekly 8/6/08 REALITY CHECK

OBAMA IN THE UPHILL Part I Superstar/Timing + Liberal/Minority = Longshot

Fresh from his world tour as media darling, Barack Obama, Democratic nominee for president and political rock star extraordinaire, looks invincible. He is charismatic, youthful, and one of the most consummate orators this country has produced in decades; a powerful combination in a year of economic downturn, stagnating progress in an unpopular foreign occupation, and a sitting president with historically low approval ratings. In a time defined by the word CHANGE, he has all but the copyright. Meanwhile, his opponent is an aging, white, military veteran, as entrenched in Washington politics as anyone he competed against for his party’s nomination.

Obama TourThings could not be rosier for a newbie candidate, whether using the measure of domestic angst, general enthusiasm, or simple timing.

So where then are the cold numbers to back it up?

While Obama was receiving standing ovations from American troops, discussing international ideologies with heads of state from Bagdad to Berlin, and speaking in front of hundreds of thousands of people waving (not burning) American flags, John McCain was on the Today Show yammering incoherently about a magical border between Pakistan and Iraq then sped off to be captured smiling awkwardly from a Food King cheese aisle.

By all matters of reasonable prognostication, Obama, or anyone NOT Republican, should be trouncing McCain, both nationally and, more importantly, in state races; which has always and will continue to choose our presidents.

But he is not.

No matter the poll, even the more radical ones you might find online, Obama barely ekes out the margin of error or is woefully behind. Outside the usual Democratic strongholds like New York and California, and a few scattered in-between, Obama fails to crack the all-consuming 45% range, something a candidate will need to achieve to gain the presidency, unless Ross Perot has another run in him.

Even sacrificial lambs like Dukakis and McGovern had summer numbers better than this. Jimmy Carter, running against a man who not only pardoned one of the great criminals the presidency has known but narrowly survived a savage pistol-whipped by Ronald Reagan to take his party’s nomination, ran double-digits everywhere in the summer of 1976. However, come autumn, he was sweating Gerald Ford. After Watergate had brought the federal government to its knees in constitutional crisis, the squeaky clean Carter barely hung on for victory by less than 700,000 votes; a lousy three percent.

Following Labor Day, when most Americans start paying attention, the entrenched, more conservative choice – the tried-and-true, less wild card candidate – always begins to close the gap. In almost every case since I’ve been on the planet, this has meant the Republican candidate. Now is when Obama should shine, not only in magazines and on the evening news, chatting up Katie Couric or appearing in front of throngs of adoring fans, but in early state polls – indicating which ones he needs to bolster and defend and which to ignore and prepare for humiliation.

No matter the poll, even the more radical ones you might find online, Obama barely ekes out the margin of error or is woefully behind. Outside the usual Democratic strongholds like New York and California, and a few scattered in-between, Obama fails to crack the all-consuming 45% range, something a candidate will need to achieve to gain the presidency, unless Ross Perot has another run in him.

Obama appears unstoppably meteoric, while his opponent reeks of same-old politics. Republicans appear doomed, while Democrats point fingers and rally the troops. Ah, but appearances in the summer of a presidential election can be deceiving, especially appearances not backed up by figures. Numbers have no emotion. No face. They do not bend to wills or are coerced by rhetoric. They are neither starry-eyed nor dismayed. You either have them or you don’t, and right now, anyone paying attention to this contest can clearly see that Obama does not have the numbers to back up the hoopla; of course with the kind of hoopla he’s engendered one would need Julius Caesar returns.

But we are far from that.

As stated very early in this thing, Barack Obama has a ton of unprecedented baggage to carry; an African American, liberal, junior senator with a weird name and a fuzzy New American background. There are long odds this man would qualify for a driver’s license in Mississippi, much less apply for the nation’s highest office. Shit, beyond race and familiarity, experience and political ideology, by any litmus, Obama is the big risk. He is quite literally the Change Candidate; if he becomes the 44th president of the United States, nothing will ever be the same again – for good or ill.

This reporter thinks for good, but that means less than nothing. My backing of Obama is purely generational. He is of my time, and it’s about time to turn pages. Choosing another military grey-haired white protestant repeats what I have witnessed since I began to grasp such things, and none of it is particularly pleasant.

But personal madness aside, success in the presidency has more to do with circumstance, luck, and matters of history, and even that is a heaping bowl of subjective.

Hey, if 9/11 had not transpired perhaps George W. Bush would have been a serviceable caretaker president like the affably lost Rutherford B. Hayes, but it did, and extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary men. Bush, on the other hand, turned out to be a mediocre, half-assed simpleton. Therefore the record is spotty to poor to downright criminal.

There is no telling about this Obama guy or anyone for that matter. This is why they play the game, jack.

However, one thing is for certain, this is not a country that embraces change without a fight. It is not an electorate open to the new and untried, and this will be to McCain’s ultimate advantage. Soon, as we see transpiring slowly, his campaign will pound this home: New guy is untested and strange, and this equals scary and dangerous. It’s McCain’s best shot, and the early state-by-state numbers bare this out.

Again, never mind these inane national polls, which range from three points to ten. They have proved meaningless in the past and with this wild card candidacy, they are far less than that. Even if he loses, it is probably a good bet that Obama will secure the popular vote. The droves of new Democrats registered during the record-smashing primaries seal it, not to mention conceivably a 50% increase in the youth vote; and that’s coming from a skeptical/conservative prediction. Obama will roll when he takes his states, but conquering the electoral map is a far different animal.

Next week we dissect the hard-core numbers and burst a bubble or two.


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“18 In ’08” Interview Part II

Aquarian Weekly 7/2/08 REALITY CHECK

18 IN ’08 Part II The Future Of Voting In America


In the second installment of my discussion with filmmaker and activist, David Burstein, as he crisscrosses the country fueling the political fervor of the elusive Youth Vote, we delve into the issues, the Internet, and the cultural impact on the current presidential campaigns. Burstein’s documentary, “18 In ’08” ( as well as his planned debates and town meetings in 50 colleges this summer into fall has been one of the factors in the recent rejuvenation of young voters in this historical 2008 election season.

What are the main issues for the 18 to 24 block?

Well, in general, college affordability and student loans, but we’re incredibly concerned about the economy as well. We’re about to enter the job market and many of us have parents whose support we count on for college, and we need them to have good financial backing. Health Care and Global Warming I hear about constantly, but mainly it’s the issues that all voters are talking about.

In your discussions with these young voters, do you get the feeling that they are headed for a heap of disillusionment here, by which I mean the executive branch of our federal government might very well have little to do with combating Global Warming, and although the president and congress can do some things to stimulate or wound an economy, it is often minimal on the grand scale. Are they counting on radical change from either of these candidates, and if they don’t get it, could you envision many bailing in the next election?

Absolutely. This is why many young people go the non-political track now, like non-government organizations and engaging in their own forms of activism. One of the big challenges for us with this film and our cause is that we must convince these people that you have to pursue both tracks parallel. If you vote and participate in the political process while working on the grass roots side you can really get something done. But I think it’s about fifty-fifty anyway. I find that many young people are idealistic and just as many are realistic as well.

Here’s my theory of why Barack Obama and to a lesser extent Ron Paul has attracted a preponderance of the Youth Vote: They are not merely standing as an alternative, say like Kerry against Bush in 2004 or even Bush standing against the Clinton legacy in 2000, but presenting themselves as something entirely beyond the normal this vs. that. Is that a fair assessment?

Yeah, I think so. It’s a sense of the new, but also a sense of authenticity. Young people are frustrated by the political process, gridlock or polarization, but we also want to vote for something instead of merely an alternative. There is something in the style of McCain and certainly Obama that speaks to that, but it’s also in their voting records and how they approach the idea of change. More than anything I think there is a level of trust there for Ron Paul and Obama. They speak their mind and speak in our language, less gobblygook of distant unrelatable facts and figures than a hopeful slant on this idea of change.

“The Internet influences every dimension of the political and campaign process. In fact, its driving many campaign professional out of their minds. They no longer have complete control over their message.”

Have you found that most of the Youth Vote is independent? And I mean that not only in political affiliation, but this penchant to move from each issue independently and without adherence to one party or to one philosophy or another?

Absolutely. There has been a big change on how people view politics going forward, and I think for our generation and every following generation. Young people are much less party-loyal or family-loyal in making up their minds politically. We are taking this responsibility far more seriously and personally, and not merely following in what our parents believed or what we are told by the media or celebrities. I think the days of voting along party lines will die with this generation.

On a scale of one to ten, what does the Internet mean to the Youth Vote now?

Well, on a scale of one to ten I’d rate it at least a twenty. It’s making a huge impact in every sense. The first impact is in raising money. Then there’s the evolution of the Blog in the last elections cycle. YOUTUBE affected the midterm elections considerably, most notably the George Allen “Macaca” incident which turned him from the leading Republican presidential candidate to being ousted from the senate. Social networking has become effective in that it allows bloggers to become de facto representatives of a campaign, putting out information, sending messages, raising money. But probably the most revolutionizing development is the citizen ad. Now any voter with the material and editing skills can have a voice online, using the medium to make an imprint on political dialogue. Look at Facebook, where yesterday the Obama Campaign was bragging that they have reached one million supporters. The Official Students for Barack Obama organization began online and has now been adopted as an official arm of the campaign. You have candidates giving personal press-free presentations from their offices to the voters on their web sites.

The Internet influences every dimension of the political and campaign process. In fact, its driving many campaign professional out of their minds. They no longer have complete control over their message. I know that’s a long answer, but I feel very passionate about it.

Well, it may be the last true vestige of democracy, which means the good and the bad, because with every positive movement comes the seedy underbelly. And the Internet has its litany of misinformation, scurrilous rumor and unsubstantiated nonsense as well.

This is always going to be true of the Internet. We just have to be more educated on what is credible or not. The Obama Campaign has done a nice job with his smear site that links to the rumors and debunks them.

Describe the whole political zeitgeist in retrospect to your shooting through 2006 to finishing in 2007 and now during your time promoting it while the primaries were happening.

Having candidates has changed things. While we were shooting there was this sense that young people were mostly against things as opposed to focusing on a figure for their issues or positions. The other change is the effect of the Iraq War, which previously students were hot on the trail to protest or in some cases they were fighting it. Unfortunately, Iraq has slipped off the radar, which fueled the Youth Vote in ’04 and then ’06 certainly. But in a good way it’s led to young people beginning to focus on all issues, like right now it’s the economy. Before their involvement in the larger issue of war there seemed to be an unawareness that is not there now. There’s been a progression in the sense that the war, while being significant, was not as direct a connection to their lives as economic issues relating to their parents and their job futures. Politics is now being viewed as relevant to their daily lives.

NEXT WEEK: PART I – The Future Of Voting In America

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“18 In ’08” Interview Part I

Aquarian Weekly 6/25/08 REALITY CHECK

18 IN ’08 Part I Young Voices Crying Out In The Wilderness

They told us they would turn the electorate upside-down in ’72. They didn’t. They told us they’d flood the gates after Nixon went nuts. They didn’t. They promised to show up in the 80s’, and guess what? And then came the 90s’, and well, nothing really. Oh, and after the hemming and hawing and legal hand wringing mania of 2000, the horrors of 9/11, and wars raging on two fronts, they vowed to show up like never before. But, alas, although the 2004 contribution was considerably better than a little, it was still painfully short of significant. Now they claim they’re enthused, primed, and motivated like never before, and in many ways during this historic primary season they’ve delivered in record numbers; but the question remains: Will the elusive, mercurial, slightly disillusioned and mostly lazy Youth Vote make a serious dent in the body politic this November?

If they do, as they did in many tight state midterm elections in 2006, then it may very well be their voice that decides who the next president of the United States will be.

Late in 2005, a member of this potentially crucial voting block, then 16 year-old student and burgeoning filmmaker, David Burstein, stepped from the shadows of his disappointing predecessors to produce and direct “18 In ’08”, subtitled, “A Film. A Movement. A Change.”, an ambitious documentary utilizing interviews with celebrities, pundits, politicians, and voters of all ages discussing the importance of young Americans to exercise their right to vote.

Released last year, the piece has an idealized, almost emotionally massaged tinge to it, all-but begging the heretofore disenfranchised to at least consider stripping away the layers of immature political apathy for a more hands-on approach. The film is painstakingly nonpartisan and filled with views from all perspectives; poignant, pertinent, and at times humorous, even when not intended.

Burstein could have stopped there, but he did not. He followed the project and its seemingly endless promotion (to date it has been screened over 400 times and helped register more than 21,000 voters) with an organization of the same name, which, by his definition aims to “register, engage, and involve the youth vote in our political process”.

This fall the “18 In ’08” juggernaut, online at, will visit 50 colleges across the country, that is after launching a celebrity PSA series this summer while also hosting a series of “youth-focused debates and town halls”, of which I hope to be part. But since this is the home office of skepticism and cranky ennui, we put the kid to the test.

james campion : My favorite quote from your film is former Howard Dean campaign guru, Joe Trippi saying that in 2004 the youth vote was the only demographic that grew since the 2000 election, which is, to say the least, not saying much.

David Burstein: It is true that voter participation between 18 to 24 year-olds increased eleven percent over the previous election, which was a bump over the 2000 numbers, and although I see this as progress, it is definitely not worthy of young people who have a lot at stake in this election. It’s a good sign that these numbers are going up, but they need to increase further. Most importantly, we need to raise awareness that the numbers are going up. When we were shooting the film, we found politicians that didn’t have these facts on their radar screen, and if we end up having the largest turnout of young voters since receiving the right to vote, which I think will happen, then showing these numbers will significantly impact the system by proving to future candidates that it is a constituency they’ll have to pay attention to.

Your film states that 37% of the 29 million possible young voters participated in the 2004 presidential election. Can you juxtapose that with the 1972 election, where, as you say, the greatest numbers turned out?

It was 37 percent compared to about 48 percent in ’72, which was the largest in history.

So just about half the possible voter block of 18 to 24 in ’72 showed up and far less than that in 2004, which was a significant jump from previously sad showings. Is it crazy to think perhaps we can get to half this year, or perhaps to your way of thinking, that’s not good enough?

“If we end up having the largest turnout of young voters since receiving the right to vote, which I think will happen, then showing these numbers will significantly impact the system by proving to future candidates that it is a constituency they’ll have to pay attention to.”

If we can get to fifty percent or even hit sixty percent, then people will take note that the Youth Vote is one to be reckoned with. If you tally all the votes cast in the primaries this year it equals the totals of many previous general elections, so fifty percent would be a success, but I think we still have to do better than that.

But will it translate to the fall?

Well, thanks to the extended primary against Hillary Clinton the Obama Campaign has the advantage of having run in every state, building offices and student organizations in each with all the names, e-mail addresses, and voter ID’s that go with it. So signs point towards an astronomical number of young people voting, even with the fair drop-off rate of disillusioned Clinton voters. And there is also the fact that we’ve never had a general election where less people voted from any demographic than did in the primary race.

It’s my understanding that Obama’s campaign, specifically in the smaller caucuses, where he essentially wrapped up the Democratic nomination, utilized energetic young people who were well groomed for political canvassing, and many of these kids were high school age with time on their hands for an old-fashioned ground game.

Oh, yes. The Obama Campaign did unprecedented outreach to high school students, particularly starting with Iowa, where if you were seventeen but were going to be eighteen for the caucuses, the outreach was enormous. This wasn’t talked about much, but I think it will be a significant bump in the youth voting numbers in November.

It is pretty much accepted that McCain is going to have to battle for the Youth Vote, which he has promised to contest, have you seen that transpiring as of yet?

To a degree. He’s done more to reach out to young voters than Bush had in the previous two elections, let’s put it that way. Just today his campaign launched a Facebook application for young voters to sign up and watch videos from the Straight Talk Express. He’s done quite a bit with new media. He was one of the first candidates to use YOUTUBE and grant interviews to bloggers. But at the end of the day it comes down to what message young people respond to and there is only so much either candidate can do beyond addressing their issues. And they don’t want these candidates to come to campus and talk about legalizing marijuana. They want to be talked to as real voters and earn their respect beyond saying “You are the future” or some other tired refrain, and I think McCain and Obama have done pretty well on that count thus far.

NEXT WEEK: PART II – The Future Of Voting In America

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Bye, Bye Baby Boomers

Aquarian Weekly 6/11/08 REALITY CHECK

Barack Obama Buries The Boomers

This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for this country that we love. – Senator Barack Obama, on the occasion of becoming the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for President of the United States — St. Paul, Minnesota June 3, 2008

I am not a woman or a black man. I am not liberal or conservative, and I do not vote or call myself Democrat or Republican. I am not, despite years of penning this god-awful dreck, particularly enamored with politics — at least not in any meaningful way. Fittingly, for the purposes of this piece, I am definitely not a Baby Boomer. I was born in late 1962, and I don’t care what sociologists say, if you were not feasibly able to spark a joint at Woodstock in the summer of ’69, then you are not a Boomer. I was pushing seven, less than ten miles from Yasguar’s Farm in the Catskill Mountains barely staving off stomach rot with the other unfortunates who were vacationing in an emerging disaster area. Our water supply had been fowled by overflowing wells contaminated by the collective defecation of a chemical-addled horde. Nope, I am no Boomer, and neither is Barack Obama. No sense asking him what he was doing during Nam, most likely flipping baseball cards or maybe puking up tainted water like me.

Barack ObamaIn fact, all the weird shit that passes for campaign bating these days doesn’t work with Obama. He has no particular beef or on any vengeance trip, no tedious defense of failed revolutions or standing firm against The Man. Nobody knows who this guy is really. But we do know he doesn’t have the Us Against Them baggage of the last two presidents; Boomer’s both.

June 3, 2008, at around 9:01 in the pm, eastern time; a seminal moment in American history: Sure, an African American achieves the title of presumptive nominee for a major political party, but what is most telling is he happens to be from my generation — the forgotten generation. Somewhere jammed between the Hippies and the Gen Xer’s, the proud, the cynical, the overfed and over-stimulated; we now have ourselves a candidate. He ain’t old world and he ain’t counterculture; he is new, as in brand-spanking, jack.

The man is right; it is our time.

Shit, Obama may turn out to be a brilliant leader or another scrap paper fraud, squeak out the most unlikely of victories or be crushed like all the other lefty northerners before him, but he’s our swinging dick, and we dig him plenty for it.

And it’s about goddamn time. You know how long I’ve endured this parade of mediocre rich white guy /country bumpkins and their miserable children? Do you realize how many misogynistic, paranoid B-Movie actor jack-offs have captained this ship?

The Boomers had their shot too, and let’s face it, the uprising of the sixties counterculture plummeting into a wretched yuppie gorge, then festering into the sappily nostalgic, and finally careening into a damaged political power play has gone denouement. The tally is in: It was an abject failure; ceremoniously imploded into crystal nothingness by the violence at Altamont, the frenzied con of the Manson Family, through Kent State, into the Age of Nixon, and all the way to the graveyards of Wall Street. Thanks for the music and the drugs; now please burn out and fade away.

Two failed Baby Boomer presidents: The final influence of the gory sixties afterbirth pilfering an already bastardized system with a stale angst better left to the rigors of ancient history.

Hillary Clinton’s doomed campaign of whining low blow militants is a requiem for the Boomers. There she was the night Obama turned a very heavy page talking about “deciding what to do next”, as if anyone is interested in what the loser’s next move might be. Perhaps she’ll have her eggs sunny-side up or learn to marathon or finally divorce the troglodyte she’s been carrying for decades.

It was a long, strange trip from the Inevitable Candidate, “This will be over by February fifth” to twisted RFK assassination references in order to hang around long enough for another mutant to emerge from Archie Bunker’s psyche to destroy the New Wave. Yeah, the only problem with that equation is that Hillary is Archie Bunker now; an anachronistic voice wistfully harkening the “good old days” in a vein attempt to escape irrelevance.

By week’s end the Clintons will have officially had the last shovel of dirt dumped on their botched attempt at being the alternative to the Reagan Myth, which helped usher in the laughably pathetic George W. Bush and his “compassionate conservative” hoax that effectively exposed the whole ruse as the century’s last cruel joke.

Ultimately, America has Big Bill to thank for Captain Shoo-In, another dullard from the Age of Aquarius. Clinton’s legacy, aside from his spastic libido, will be the choke-campaign of his vice president and his spouse blowing a 20-point national poll lead with an over $50 million coffer to a guy no one outside of the south side of Chi-town had heard of 14 months ago.

Baby Bush’s claim to fame beside war, jingoistic fear-mongering and constitutional mockery, will be that he completely snuffed out the wounded remnants of the Reagan Revolution, which had barely survived on the fumes of the first two pathetically ineffectual years of The Big Bill Follies (followed soon after by the scandalized lame-duck years); proving once and for all that a granola-head conman who plays a mediocre sax and a faux cowboy drunkard with a gizzard full of silver spoon is no way to lead a country.

Two failed Baby Boomer presidents: The final influence of the gory sixties afterbirth pilfering an already bastardized system with a stale angst better left to the rigors of ancient history.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

We’ll forgive Bush and the Clintons for their gaudy machinations and ill-conceived governing, coming as it has from a generation of spoiled, self-important, media whoring brats masquerading as revolutionaries; the last rancid fumes of the post-war fist-pumping, tie-dyed rip-off conjured from Madison Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue, which lorded over the brutal raping of genuine social, cultural, political and philosophical freedom rides from Berkeley to Selma to Greenwich Village.

In the end, the Boomers gave us presidents from both sides of the ideological fence, and they both came up snake eyes. The main issues facing the Clinton and Bush administrations were national health care and social security reform respectively and neither was brought to a vote. We might have even noticed, if not for a plethora of sex jokes and the pulpit grunts, piss fights and money-pit wars, and one disastrous day in the late summer of 2001.

Well, for the Democrats at least, the new generation has spoken: No more Us vs. Them or Burn Baby Burn or police bating, campus-riot, self-flagellating guilt-revolution chic. This is how real revolutions go: Hope. Change. Passion.

The Clintons hung on as long as they could, lying, cheating, changing the rules, and blaming the media. But they are dust, unless Obama has a brain hemorrhage and puts them on the ticket.

Otherwise, John McCain, this is your generation’s problem now.

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Fuck Scott McClellan

Aquarian Weekly 6/4/08 REALITY CHECK


Well, why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner? This is one-and-a-half years after he left the administration. And now, all of a sudden, he’s raising these grave concerns that he claims he had. And I think you have to look at some of the facts. One, he is bringing this up in the heat of a presidential campaign. – Press Secretary Scott McClellan on former Bush administration anti-terrorism czar, Richard Clarke’s Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror. March 22, 2004

Scott McClellanScott McClellan wants to go to heaven now. He thinks writing a book confessing his sins will get him there. Dick Nixon and Bill Clinton tried it. Chuck Colson and Ed Meese too. George Tenet, Richard Clarke and Paul O’Neill gave it a shot recently, and some may have forgiven them for it, but God is not likely to be counted among them. God has different criteria, and it is not designed to make exceptions for manipulating the American public as bucket-carrying surf for the Commander-in-Chief and his band of cronies on matters of war and treason. Public opinion and cleansing the soul may be good business for Jesus and Judge Judy, but for omnipresent judgment it is something akin to white noise.

Fuck Scott McClellan.

This is what God will say when the final writ comes due, and he will have his family and country and president to thank for it, because they were the ones who convinced the chubby Texan momma’s boy that there would be a final reward for blindly following the guiding light of George W. Bush, Republicanism and loyalty.

Oh, it was loyalty that put Baby Mac in the rumble seat of the Big Ride long enough to laugh all the way from Austin into history; a history he hopes to queer by thrashing a few random thoughts together about how horrible and unjust his government was while he spun it happy-go-lucky for the voting hordes.

Poor, misguided, stupid fool the former White House press secretary was. He lied repeatedly and without shame for the Big Machine. He was cast before the public as a puppet of Machiavellian demons battling to keep Dick Cheney and Karl Rove out of prison, while defending the federal government’s mishandling of natural disasters and cobbling together incriminating fabrications about Middle Eastern invasions.

Victimhood, the rascal’s last refuge; a cozy place to lick the wounds and pass the blame, conveniently weaving a quilt of denial – it will put The Dirt on you, the kind that doesn’t wash off.

Many who held the position of press secretary wrestled with The Dirt when leaving the post. Private discussions with Franklin Pierce’s press representative revealed suicidal dreams and long nights of self-flagellation after failing to properly explain the plunging of a nation into Civil War. The Dirt was also on the sad sack who tried to locate all those missing Japanese citizens during World War II, while failing to mention that the country’s chief executive was almost always minutes away from mental and physical incapacity. Some even claim that Andrew Jackson’s press people went mad from lack of sleep after the “mass evacuation and systemic execution of entire races”.

“Oh, woe is me, the messenger, duped like a child in these trying times! Oh, how the evil network of cruel monsters used me as a tool of incompetence and propaganda.”

If McClellan truly wanted to “set the record straight”, he would have come clean years ago in an interview or by making a statement to the congress, not after receiving a healthy advance from a major publisher and going on the Today Show and whining like a school girl.

That is a direct quote from the public relations firm that spun the nasty deeds of Jesse James into paperback gold, while he was busy shooting innocent rail workers in the face for spare change. They claimed innocence as well, victims of corporate greed and misrepresentation. Over and over they asked their detractors if they would have so easily refused boatloads of cash to paint an obvious psychopath as the playful rogue of the Wild West.

McClellan wants to free his soul; the opening quote for his book, What Happened: Inside The Bush White House And Washington’s Culture Of Deception is “The truth will set you free”, the most abused Bible verse in a fantastically mangled litany of them. The truth sets one free when it is served up during the time of a terrible lie being perpetuated, not after all the money was made and the plaudits were handed out and then you can’t sleep at night because you think the Devil is nipping at your heals.

This would have been a whole lot bigger if the book had been titled, What’s Happening, and it hit the shelves when McClellan stepped down. Now it simply justifies from the inside what everyone has since learned from simple observation and a minimum of investigation. Great, thanks for adding to the parade of Bush-bashers months before he becomes a private citizen and his approval ratings are that of the final days of Nero.

If McClellan truly wanted to “set the record straight”, he would have come clean years ago in an interview or by making a statement to the congress, not after receiving a healthy advance from a major publisher and going on the Today Show and whining like a school girl. Then maybe these revelations, spoken from the heart of the Bush inner sanctum, would have rightfully fueled a public outcry that made it politically solvent for the spineless legislative branch to wrest what McClellan clearly describes as blatant criminals from the halls of federal government.

The liberating magic of the truth applies to Colin Powell, who stood up to the president of the United States about his misgivings on foreign policy and war in 2004, two months before resigning his post as secretary of state, admitting before a senate committee on governmental affairs that his speech to the UN in February of 2003 about Iraq’s stockpile of weaponry was “wrong”. Powell, treated like a punk and a sell-out by his party and administration, stood his ground and went on record, legally binding and lasting, to the press, the citizenry, and the world that there were serious and dangerous problems with the government’s transparency. Like John Dean a generation before, he stood up, against the pressure to keep quiet and cover-up when it was most useful to the country, not when it was financially and spiritually expedient.

What McClellan should have done without hesitation and in front of a grand jury, was expose these serious charges completely and without equivocation. Because among the litany of crimes McClellan levels against his former boss and his cabal, admitting that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby deliberately told him to lie to save the vice president from being indicted for treasonous acts by revealing the identity of a CIA agent for political smearing is grave.

If McClellan’s observations are correct, Libby, Rove, and Dick Cheney must be tried and executed for treason against the United States in a time of war. Period.

But his words are merely passed off as that of a “disgruntled employee manipulated by an avaricious publisher”, and that he is just piling on an already disgraced lame duck president.

Perhaps McClellan should heed his own words, as flaccid and incredible as they appear now, when he criticized a former colleague for conveniently trickling out major indictments in a book years after the fact; “If you look back at his past comments and his past actions, they contradict his current rhetoric.”


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Will The Real John McCain Please Stand Up

Aquarian Weekly 5/28/08 REALITY CHECK


Now that the Democratic Party’s sixteen-month hissy fit winds to a merciful close, the electorate will be forced to ask the absentee Republican candidate for his credentials. Trouble is they are not of the usual tried-and-true variety. The charming confusion that is John Sidney McCain III’s political biography is anything but ordinary. And as I write this, it continues to stew, creating a daily definition that begs the obvious question: Who the hell is John McCain really?

John McCainNo one with a lick of sense can argue that the Arizona senator and presumptive GOP presidential nominee tiptoes across the thinnest of campaign tightropes. He is a Republican in a political season that rates the very term with extreme prejudice. For six of the last eight years his party has been at the helm of some trying times, a good portion of them circumstantial, others self-inflicted. He has also been a major part of this ride, in some cases leading the vocal charge for an unprecedented domestic and international litany of train wrecks, which fairly brands him with the blame. Still other times he was battling the status quo with contrarian bills and harsh criticism of its leaders, which equally brands him a political traitor.

For good or ill, McCain must combine these peculiarly fascinating and perhaps instructively unique dualities and find a way to traverse his way through the most difficult of strides: Distance himself from the currently doomed Washington atmosphere and rally the very troops who stand accused of screwing everything up.

This is not an easy balancing act for a congressman, much less a presidential candidate. It is why McCain appears at times like a stalwart maverick and others like he is a blithering idiot, the latter popping up more frequently since the Democrats have all-but decided on his opponent.

When he excoriates rivals for views he himself espoused a few years earlier, whether it is on the Iraq occupation or tax cuts or negotiating with foreign nations not jiving with the American world plan, McCain looks like a pandering hack. When he’s making bold statements about changing the tone of previous elections that appeared petty and vicious by staying above the fray, but then when things get juicy, as in the turbulent weeks following the now-infamous Reverend Wright fiasco, he jumps to question a candidate’s integrity, he looks desperately silly.

This is a shame; because part of the McCain appeal is that he is anything but a pandering hack or desperately silly. His record, for the most part, shows he has stood by principle even when it looked like political suicide, as in his repeated public mockery of the bungled Iraq war policies devised by the obviously mad Donald Rumsfeld, whom he berated vehemently in public for close to two years. Later, when he was wallowing in primary purgatory, flat broke and without a hint of legitimate press coverage, his defense of the dubious troop surge in Iraq seemed like the final nail in his campaign’s coffin.

McCain has gambled where few politicians of this age have gambled, heading up questionably deduced crusades outside the mainstream and across the ideological aisle with like-minded legislators who believed that campaign finances were becoming counter-productive to the electoral process, the executive branch of government should be given the override veto power to curtail federal spending, a bating of the powerful tobacco lobby was long overdo, a reduction of greenhouse gases by big business was paramount, and the monitoring of the senate’s filibuster stranglehold in judicial nominee process was a much-needed self policing of congress.

This is a man who at once rattled the sabers of military might while railing against the use of torture in any manner. He questioned the long-range wisdom of the original Bush tax cuts and worked with the much-despised ultra-liberal lion, Ted Kennedy on immigration reform. When he was torn to pieces during his 2000 presidential campaign by a burgeoning Texas smear-machine, he dusted himself off and during the general election hugged the soon-to-be president like a long-lost brother. Four years later, however, he would deride the same army of political hit men and his party’s privately funded muckrakers in a staunch defense of fellow Viet Nam vet John Kerry.

It is a difficult and thorny trek laden with social, political and philosophical minefields. At some point the 71 year-old senator of 26 years will have to figure out which McCain is best suited for the trip, and when he decides who that is, then the public can vote on it.

McCain is also two sides of the personality coin: An über-serious war veteran of imprisonment and torture, who has dubbed himself “the worst nightmare” for America’s enemies, who often displays a playfully self-effacing sense of humor. He speaks like a hawkish macho man to the NRA and meets with lunatic Christian cult preachers, then pivots to jive with liberal joke-factories like The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live. He winks at the Right Wing of his constituencies with talk of conservative judges, but derides any notion of crazy amendments to ban gay marriage.

During the final weeks of his successful Lazarus-like rising from primary oblivion, he battled every conservative talk show host imaginable – many still refusing to back his candidacy – a vocal pogrom that may ride into November now that a Clinton is no longer a threat. In succeeding despite not sucking up to performing party robots, he has disproved the myopic notion that a Republican must pander to the ultra-right of the party to lead it. Hell, McCain even called the evil leftist press corps his base in 2000 and still enjoys their company on his Straight-Talk Express.

But there have been signs of change on that front lately, specifically when the media pounced on the ever-fading president as he stared down the lowest approval ratings since Nixon in a speech to Israeli hardliners wherein he compared anyone who even considers diplomatic relations with foreign nations he’s deemed “terrorists” as an act of appeasement akin to disgraced British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain. McCain echoed these mawkish sentiments, continuing to recall Hamas leader, Ahmed Yousuf’s “endorsement” of a Barack Obama presidency as a de facto threat to national security.

Rightly accused of the worst kind of political chicanery, using an official speech on foreign soil as a sitting president to influence an American election, McCain was unceremoniously tethered to Bush’s usual verbal goofiness and ham-fisted public relations; not a place he wants or needs to be for any hope of victory.

So John McCain struggles to hover aloft from “business as usual”, once a champion of Independents, the maverick’s maverick, and gather the rancorous base of his wounded party, while also forced to upset the Change Agent, Hope Movement of Barack Obama, who has systematically stomped on the heretofore immutable laws of Democratic Party politics by ignoring the socialist-minded working class special interest lobby to create his own uncharted path to the White House.

It is a difficult and thorny trek laden with social, political and philosophical minefields. At some point the 71 year-old senator of 26 years will have to figure out which McCain is best suited for the trip, and when he decides who that is, then the public can vote on it.


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Will Women Vote For Barack Obama?

Aquarian Weekly 5/21/08 REALITY CHECK

THE GREAT DIVIDE Race, Gender & The New Frontier

The cultural landslide that has sprung from the 2008 Democratic primary race is nothing short of historic. Nothing about it can be measured by the past.


The failure of the general press coverage to grasp this has rendered the entire industry impotent. Metric geeks endlessly pour over voter trends and intra-party splits, swing state exit polls and traditional supporter blocks. Skewed commentary prattled by pathetically debased punditry try in vain to corral some sense of this outlandish idea that a woman and a black man are not merely running for the highest office in the land, but the victor may hold a very real shot to compete as a heavy favorite. The whole idea has crippled the media and sent voters into a feeding frenzy rarely witnessed by hardened professionals that are paid not to blink.

Suffragette CityBut a story without precedence is death to journalism. It removes the air of certainty from events. When the schematic is smashed to pieces, there is terrible panting and grasping for answers where there are none. But alas, one certainty has emerged; there is no sense in continuing to postulate any kind of Kumbaya-hand-holding détente between warring factions inside the Democratic Party now that Illinois Senator Barack Obama is its presumptive nominee.

Not this time.

There is a Great Divide in the party that goes beyond anything or anyone preceding it.

Way beyond.

This is not JFK vs. LBJ in 1960 for the liberal center of the Democratic Party or Goldwater vs. Rockefeller in ’64 for the Republican Party’s conservative soul. It is nothing like the personality battles in the Republican Party between Ford and Reagan in 1976 or the one within the Democratic Party between Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter four years later.

These were ideological, philosophical battles or skirmishes over national “electablity” and backroom party politics. Baby stuff. The kind of stuff you come back from.

You can shake off Lyndon Johnson accusing Jack Kennedy of drug addiction or Kennedy calling Johnson “a dumb hick”. Small potatoes. Before long they were on the big ticket stealing the White House from Tricky Dick.

It was business as usual when Teddy refused to shake the president’s hand at the convention or Goldwater used insider muscle to paint Rockefeller as a Commie lunatic. Shit, when Ronald Reagan called George H. W. Bush “a wimp” and Bush coined the phrase “voodoo economics” it lead to twelve years of Republican dominance.

These were, after all was said and done, still Anglo-Saxon, protestant old-time political robots – with the grand exception of JFK, who was at best a buffet Catholic. They had constituencies that ran long before the Civil War, demographics that included big labor and gun lobbyists, industry moguls and congressional favor-trades. These were entrenched factions that had run unchecked over the body politic since the rich colonial merchants thumbed their noses at the English crown and riled up the illiterate peasants to shed the blood of revolution.

It was been-there/done-that, over and over and over again.

If a staunch supporter of an also-ran had to compromise or trade in their devotions for a lesser deal, it came easier, because there would be another one just like them entering congress to beat their drum or at the very least a carbon-copy waiting in the wings to fight on in four years. There had been two centuries of lily-white, silver-spooned, Anglo-Saxon swinging dicks that had come before and were more than likely to come again.

So I ask my fellow compatriots of the Fourth Estate: Where exactly do these women, who viewed Hillary Clinton as their first and maybe only legitimate shot at the big prize, go after the smoke clears?

These candidates did not in any way, shape or form, resemble Hillary Rodham Clinton, a woman, or Barack Obama, an African American. Not one of them hailed from a gender or race that was made to bear centuries of discrimination, condescension, social and cultural pandering, rejection, assassination, or recrimination.

Again, barring Kennedy, who, along with being Catholic had to overcome the taint of Irish blood, which for over a century had lived uncomfortably at the corner of despised and shunned. But lest we forget Kennedy, an insanely rich blue blood, cheated the electorate and was murdered before finishing what he started, so let’s not get all giddy about that anomaly.

So I ask my fellow compatriots of the Fourth Estate: Where exactly do these women, who viewed Hillary Clinton as their first and maybe only legitimate shot at the big prize, go after the smoke clears? Do they just sigh forlornly and forget that a one-time junior senator with fifteen minutes of experience shoplifted their girl’s long and painful road of political theater all leading up to this signature moment?

If things turned out differently, the same could have been said of Obama’s hardcore African American support, which watched in abject horror as the Clintons suddenly turned from sweet-talking sympathizers to blurting the same tired subtle racism of the past.

What is happening now inside the Democratic Party is literally historic. This amazing run of ’08 could very well be the final tolling bell for an African American or woman candidate in the presidential arena for a long time. Think about it: A weak sitting president lording over an unpopular war and a sinking economy representing an opposition party at its all-time low, tanking special elections in Mississippi and fighting off one criminal allegation after the next. This is the outsider’s one genuine shot, even if it is still a long shot, and I remain one who will believe it when I see it. But even I know that if not now, when?

The real question this fall is not about working class white men or swing states or the general unpopularity of the Republicans, it is how Obama manages to carry November in a party dominated by women if the women either stay home or turn to John McCain to free up a Hillary comeback in 2012?

This is not about politics now. It is not about parties or platforms. This is a culture war, plain and simple. It is about being unlucky in timing. If it were merely Obama, then there would have been a groundswell from the bottom up, as all good revolutions move societies. If it had been a woman, alone, fighting from the nether regions of American politics, it would have been the sole story of the early century. But there were two in a contest that requires only one representative. One of those representatives, whose constituency has waited forever to be heard on this kind of stage, will have to see The Dream die.

All these women, many of them, in fact, almost all of them, over sixty and showing up in record numbers, recall all too clearly a time when they were worth half of a man’s salary in the workplace, if they could work at all. They were told they were too limited in mental and emotional scope to be doctors, lacking in cerebral temperament to practice law, and far too weak to serve in the armed forces. Some even recall not being granted the right to vote at all or being able to emerge from the kitchen to make a stand, politically, socially, sexually, or professionally. And if they don’t remember, their mothers and grandmothers certainly told them all about it.

So what will the women do once the crusade’s shut down?

And how, in this season of discontent with the status quo, does The Change Candidate rally the troops enough to make history?

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