Oh Nine: Year Of The Guilty

Aquarian Weekly 12/31/08 REALITY CHECK

OH-NINE: YEAR OF THE GUILTY

Two-thousand nine will be the year of The Guilty.

Rod BlagojevichExoneration is in the air. Free rides. Hard promises. Credentials for all; particularly those who don’t deserve them — the powerful, the beautiful, the twisted and the onerous. It will be especially productive for the onerous, where the beating of the chest will pass for intellectual currency. Balls will be all the rage in Oh-Nine; big, shiny pairs — and those unable to acquire them or flash them in a pinch will be in the shit-can.

It will be the year of Blogojevich, the Man From Illinois, who has joined the long line of criminally insane governors, but in Oh-Nine there awaits Retribution. Listen to him now; “They have nothing. I will fight.” Shit, yeah. In Oh-Nine fighting will take the place of half-assed lying. Double-speak is not going to cut it. Shuck-And-Jive will have its place, but there will be less to exploit with bullshit when raw defiance is readily available. It will be a time to go all-out, not pitter around making excuses for putting into practice the fundamental principles of good old-fashioned Capitalism: Play To Pay is back. Skinny ties, pastels, mash-ups, liquid speed balls, and Cash On Hand; An Ayn Randian/ Ubermensch kind of free-wheeling.

Blogojevich will be the shining symbol of the New Year’s proud stomp; a staking of claims and a sober revision in Ignoring The Sidelines. This, of course, will mean that Oh-Nine will be silly with shameless entrepreneurship. Shame is not an option now that the bottom has dropped out of the pocket-pickers game. Demure malfeasance is passé. It will be a Blogojevich fire-sale milieu; everything has a price and someone will pay it. No more haggling. All choices will involve money; faith, love, the whole gamut of existential concepts will be readily available on the cheap. The line forms on the left, and you had best get there early; because once the kitty is empty, that’s it, jack.

Always the impatient act-first-ask-questions-much-later progressive, the president has gotten a head-start on Oh-Nine by rolling out his first of several lists of pardons for The Guilty, where Scooter Libby is its most fortunate beneficiary. The vice president’s bagman can breathe easier now. The days of apologizing for doing the bidding of The Cowardly have passed. In Oh-Nine, The Guilty will no longer be pariah. Each and every Backstabber will be expected to walk proudly in the glaring light of day; stand tall and wave a symbolic fist. The Cowardly have no place in Oh-Nine. Cheap frauds and moral goblins like Dick Cheney may have to euthanized to clean the slate.

Shame is not an option now that the bottom has dropped out of the pocket-pickers game. Demure malfeasance is passé. It will be a Blogojevich fire-sale milieu; everything has a price and someone will pay it.

Ninety percent of Talent is showing up. Woody Allen said that. He was trying to be both funny and philosophical, but it turns out he was mostly prescient. Showing up will also be all the rage in Oh-Nine. Ask Caroline Kennedy, who has emerged from a lifetime political cocoon to wave Camelot aloft once more. Succeeding in making it less wretched to sell a Senate seat in Springfield than it is to hand one to American royalty in Albany, the Kennedy brand has made yet another comeback.

Not to be undone, the Cuomo’s fancy offspring is also throwing his hat in the ring. How about Pataki’s daughter? She’s cool. I used to work with her in Westchester. She’s smart and attractive and has the right last name to beg her way to Capitol Hill.

But, shit, by the time the Nepotism Twins make a bid for Washington, Oh-Nine will be in full swing, and so shall our familiarity with Realistic Expectations, the mantra of the new president of the United States. Barack Obama’s first 100 days of rescuing the national economy, rebuilding international relations, and gutting the federal government’s incredible mass of dead weight, will be pushing the great “Proving I Am Not The Christ” syllabus.

Realistic Expectations is an important ingredient to survival when failing to come with the H-Two-O party tricks, shuffling upon it or making with the wine. Many of the Oh-Eight holdovers are waiting patiently for Change to give way to Divinity. This bodes well for another comeback in Oh-Nine; Crucifixion, which, like Jell-O, one can always anticipate finding room. In Oh-Nine, the stakes in modern politics will be that high. Politicians, now reviled and run out of town aflame with derision will be expected to perform miracles. Sadly, for those living on Cloud #9, the president-elect is merely a politician. This can hardly be denied. He will not escape Oh-Nine anymore than we can.

Oh-Eight was an excellent example of Rejection. We rejected antiquated notions of jingoism, racism, phony Republicanism, and the Baby Boomer Lie. It is a new time for a new generation. But as the utterly defeated George W. Bush will tell us, The times do not often jibe with The Plan. If not for terrorist invasions and hurricanes or economic implosions, a dunce can make a pretty fancy chief executive. But Times trump Plans, and when the Kumbaya chorus has died down and things get kicking in Oh-Nine, The Guilty will replace The Cowardly, and politicians may have to raise the dead, but it will be anything but boring.

I’ll see you there.

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Auto Industry Bailout

Aquarian Weekly 12/3/08 REALITY CHECK

BEGGARS & CHOOSERS Hard Promises On The Road To Automotive Welfare

History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s dam is the history we make today. – Henry Ford Interview in Chicago Tribune May 25th 1916

Henry Ford’s bastard children are currently suspended in the slow ascent of Oliver Twist’s empty gruel plate. Attached as if by a pulsing umbilical cord is the world economy, jobs for thousands of tax paying consumers, several and varied satellite industries from media, transportation, culinary, service, litigious, and big labor, not to mention the entirety of the technological engineering fleet of American Century sad sacks looking for a peculiar method to prop up our past and sell it as progress. The American Auto Industry is weeks from going belly up in an already eroding economic slog, and with the federal government in transition, over half the states already bankrupt, and what is left of Wall Street becoming a drooling Dali rendering, there is not much choice but to turn to us, the American Tax Payer.

Beginning Of The EndThe People’s Republic Of America to the rescue!

These are curious days and we are crazy with empathy now that the Lefty is on his way to the White House to put right all the crimes of Captain Shoo-In, who is now officially the only sitting president of these United States to be completely ostracized from the reconstruction of his own shit’s nest.

Yes, Virginia, we’re going to keep America strong in the global economy, secure its national defense, and restore order to our fiscal sovereignty, but not without conditions. Those who sit idly by and rail against the demise of the free market system with the manufacturing hub of this economy on its last legs whistle past several graveyards. These are the same sub-mentals who would pitch the fit of all fits if the president allowed our national defense to go under. However, only suckers hand over blank checks to doomed business templates. If it means raping and pillaging this broken monstrosity called the American Auto Industry, then so be it.

Our first act as The Controlling Interest begins with the sacking of the entire management teams at Ford, GM, and Chrysler for fucking the workers and screwing consumers with their half-assed, greedy, mendacious falderal masquerading for countless decades as good, old-fashioned American ingenuity. These dunderheads must suffer banishment from all modes of future free-enterprise leadership until which time the debt has been paid in full with fair interest. Their time has quite obviously passed.

The new blood will be made to endure a rigorous baseline IQ exam, and not just business acumen, but also the basic function of reason in which they must at least hit the sixty percentile or be forced to walk from coast to coast beneath a dunce cap. These tests must be passed on C-SPAN with Ivy League business professors looking over their shoulders mocking them verily.

Secondly, and most pressingly, the United Auto Workers must either accept new rules on these insane demands for the workforce or there will be fatal cuts in personnel starting with reps, lawyers, and lobbyists. In fact, in trade for our boundless generosity the UAW must lend thirty percent of its employee base to do our bidding; rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, aiding in the withdrawing of troops in Iraq, and general everyday chores like garbage removal, babysitting and something in the line of sweeping.

Believe me when I tell you this take-over stuff is gangbusters.

When you consider that the whole of the American Auto Makers must adhere to a minimum of franchises per state, almost twice what they can afford, and that over 20% of the contracted workers are absentees per fiscal year while being immune to discipline or expulsion is beyond ridiculous. The gravy train stops under The People’s Republic Of America.

Look to the Auto Industry’s Grand Daddy, Henry Ford for wisdom in these dark hours of pending bankruptcy. His deranged fascist rants, while sounding like the plaintiff wail of a doomed dinosaur sinking beneath the tar pit of history, have a ring of veracity rarely heard in this bleating whine of present day entrepreneurship. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s dam is the history we make today.

It is a new dawn; embrace the future with aplomb and a frontier spirit. The Twentieth Century is dead. If you would like to join it, well, that’s entirely up to you. We, with the money, choose to look ahead.

Believe me when I tell you this take-over stuff is gangbusters.

I’m digging this ownership of the banking set thus far. I recently stormed into my Bank Of America branch and demanded all manner of perk and a drastic halt to all the passé, pre-bail nickel & diming. Using the tried and true James V. Campion method of sticking it to the “lenders”, I began throwing my primary stockholder weight around. No more paying for personal or company checks, no more fees at ATMs, no more jacking around with their five-layered incongruent Internet banking crap. I told the goddamned bank manager to stand down; the people are in charge now — and hell if he didn’t acquiesce.

It’s good to be The Man.

Look, these deadbeats are going to get the money. No way this economy can handle the dissolution of over a million jobs, both direct and tertiary to the auto industry, and survive. This country cannot function without some kind of domestic manufacturing. This is the time to put the hammer down, the hammer of The People.

It is not a question of IF these self-mutilating fossils of industry will get our money, but WHEN. And if it is WHEN then it’s under our conditions.

Take it or leave it.

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An Open Apology To America 2008

Aquarian Weekly 11/12/08 REALITY CHECK

AN OPEN APOLOGY TO AMERICA

Dearest United States (Most of),

I was wrong.

Despite my hard-line skepticism, serious doubts, and relentless cynicism born from over two centuries of recidivistic dementia, you did not elect a middle-aged Anglo-Saxon, Protestant white guy who pandered to your basest fears while treating you like a spastic ten year-old. You did the unthinkable, the historic; expunging the old-boy’s network filled with tired retreads with lobby-addled dance cards and corporate lackeys, labor racketeers with Birch Society, Morality-Quack, Hollywood, Oil Baron, Wall Street golf enthusiasts.

You did it. You made history. You buried history. You literally put a new face on your presidency. You voted in overwhelming numbers from middle class white single moms to lunch pail beer swillers to college dinks and fist-pumping queers and radical outsiders to fed-up genuine conservatives and leftist pinkos to disgruntled retirees and proud minorities and even weary first-timers nourished on well-earned apathy.

You put a man into your White House who only 21 months ago was nowhere. No money. No name. No affiliations. No press. No groundswell or demo-marketing focus group pollers. No favor-handing, my-turn party craven resume. No silver-spoon nepotistic underachiever credentials. No misogynistic double-talking viper psychosis. A first-generation American with a black father from the jungles of Kenya and a single mother from the wheat fields of Kansas having to leap frog the entire Democratic Smear Machine and the Republican Madhouse.

You said you wanted change, and instead of whipping yourself into a senseless frenzy and then looking the other way, you did the unthinkable. You voted for change. You went out and enacted the concept of democracy; however distorted, manipulated and dysfunctionally imperfect it remains. You gave the democracy thing a whirl.

And as astounding as it feels to actually write this, you did not need ugly rhetoric or wild shenanigans, under-handed tactics or silly slogans or scorched earth backbiting and angry retorts from every corner of the antiquated two-party death knell to do so. The steady, bright, even-keeled, unwavering hope peddler put it to you and you actually voted for him.

You kicked tradition in the balls. You stomped the terra and made history, and while you were at it, you did not ignore your darkest corners of it. You faced it, as the candidate faced it with you.

And I am especially pleased with your youth, which had been pummeled with nonsense for four decades when Viet Nam and riots and thug-police and a corrupt FBI and unbridled CIA and a lunatic president battling the fire-breathing, march-happy underground radicals obliterated the middle-ground of your body politic setting up one bummer after another; Kent State, Watergate, Malaise, Savings & Loan, Iran/Contra, Desert Storm, Contract With America, Monica Lewinsky, Ken Starr, 9/11, Patriot Act, Mission Accomplished, to name just a very few.

I did not think you had it in you. I had heard forever how motivated and pissed off and fired-up you were going to be, and come Election Day, I was disappointed in you every time. Every time. But not this time.

Granted, it took the greatest economic meltdown in 80 years and one car wreck of a campaign to move you quickly in this direction, but move you did. And I am proud of you and I owe you a public and humbling apology.

Four years ago, in the wake of the inconceivable re-election of George W. Bush, I wrote this about you…

“Turns out Zell Miller’s apoplectic lunacy at the convention three months ago was right on the money. He was goofy, but he spoke for the electorate. Miller represents the majority. It hasn’t changed in 220-plus years of this republic. You want to change the hearts and minds of the hinterland? You want to jerk the South from its Bible Belt? You had better get the army together, like Lincoln did. Burn their cities and teach them a thing or two. These people are still fighting the damned Civil War. Those people who were power-hosing the black folk in Alabama and Mississippi and the Carolinas during the Civil Rights movement? They’re still there, and they had children, and they’re not trading the country in for any slick talking Yankee lawyer who ain’t down with Jesus. Give them a smiling hick like Carter or Clinton or they’re sending you back to the Ivy League.”

Well, Virginia and North Carolina kicked my ass but good this time. Those states, along with Colorado and New Mexico out west, where the new economic centers are, beat the hell out of convention. The blaze of true change engulfed weirdly entrenched places like Missouri, Indiana and Iowa, and put old Democratic politico junctions in Ohio and Pennsylvania in their place. Barack Obama, the next president, didn’t even need them or the almost entirety of the south; like he didn’t need them to defeat Madam Hillary and put to shame the sad excuses offered up by losers like Al Gore and John Kerry. He did not need them to beat the white, military veteran who yelled “Socialism” and “Radical” from sea to shiny sea.

You kicked tradition in the balls. You stomped the terra and made history, and while you were at it, you did not ignore your darkest corners of it. You faced it, as the candidate faced it with you.

On the eve of the most unlikely victory in your rich and bizarrely brilliant ledger, Mr. Obama stood before a cheering mob in Manassas, Virginia, the site of the bloody battles of Bull Run, mere miles from the capital of the doomed Confederacy, and within shouting distance of the home of your father, George Washington and your most endearing author, Thomas Jefferson, who had both dreamed of and fought for liberty while inexplicably owning human beings. Then, after carrying that state in his improbable ride to the most powerful post on the planet, standing before a million weeping revelers in a park where 40 years before in the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination the Democratic Party went up in flames as thousands of protesters were beaten bloody by crazed cops on national television, in the home state of your greatest president, the emancipator of the slaves, Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, 47 year-old junior senator, a black man, embodied your greatest promise; all men are indeed created equal.

It is a story of achievement so starkly inconceivable it does it no service to encapsulate it in the words bound by political commentary. Only poetry. Only song. Only someone not yet born will be able to immortalize it properly.

But until then I offer this humble request for forgiveness.

Now excuse me while I take a few weeks off and then get back to irrationally deconstructing everything you hold dear and reducing it to badly humored fodder.

Your proud son, jc

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What’s Worth Voting For 2008

Aquarian Weekly 11/5/08 REALITY CHECK

WHAT’S WORTH VOTING FOR A Final Demented But Well-Meaning Overview From The Middle Ground

Better fare hard with good men, than feast it with bad. – Thomas Paine

I’ve been howling politics from the rafters, on stages, in living rooms and kitchens, apartment stairwells and street corners, and in every bar from NYC to San Francisco with friend and foe for well over two decades. I have culled a paycheck to do so as a free-lancer and in this space for much of it. I have reveled in its oddities and absurdities, marveled at its prominent depths and smattering of heights, battled against and with the best and brightest, worst and dimmest, and occasionally even gotten involved. Much of it has been either to cause trouble or to plant tongue firmly in cheek and have a chuckle. But I have never taken The Vote for granted.

Grassroots RevolutionAround here The Vote is sacred.

I have yet to vote for a Democratic nominee for president of the United States. I voted for a Republican once in 2000. I did so assuming the candidate would likely be a minor disaster, which was proven understated. But it was never a vote of approval. I merely did so to aid in the eventual defeat of Al Gore with whom I had a personal vendetta. When I did vote prior, I voted Independent or not at all. Every trip to the booth has begun from a point of conscience and personal pride, exercising my right to choose the person I’d want on the job or I would respectfully abstain on the grounds that a vote for just anyone would incriminate me.

John Anderson, Ross Perot and Ralph Nader never had a shot, but I slept well with my decisions and laughed heartily during every minute of Iran/Contra through Monica Lewinsky and so on.

Seven elections, four Independents, two protests in absentia and one George W. Bush were always followed by the obligatory laughter.

But laughing along the sidelines will no longer be an option.

This week I cast my vote for Illinois Senator Barack Obama. I do so for reasons repeatedly established in this space since that evening way back in early January when the candidate stepped to the microphone in Iowa, having miraculously revealed chinks in The Machine, and delivered the finest stump speech in more than two generations. He has done nothing to shake my confidence over two campaigns, one brutally contested for his party’s nomination and one burped up by his opponent.

What this ultimately means is unlike almost every election I have followed and commented on since engaging in schoolyard fistfights over McGovern/Nixon in ’72, the candidate I fully endorse actually has a chance to govern.

How the hell did that happen?

For starters, I am pleased with Obama’s demeanor, cool sense of self and his overall decorum under the type of pressures no other presidential candidate in the history of these United States has had to face. He is the ultimate underdog; a ridiculously inexperienced, intellectual, Liberal, northern, African American senator. Nothing close to this list has come within a bullhorn’s shout of the White House in the 219 years we’ve been doing this. The fact that Obama has beaten the steepest of odds has already been interpreted here as victory.

Secondly, I have been duly convinced of Obama’s rational decisions at every turn and a somewhat sincere attempt at formulating ideas and alternatives to the madness that is our failed federal government. The only caveat to this assessment is his repeated denials of hanging with crazy people, which he most certainly has, and his choice of Senator Joseph Biden, who is as crazy as they come and another abhorrent Baby Boomer big mouth that thinks by simply showing up we’re all better for it.

But let’s face it; anyone who has ever served or lived for that matter has dabbled in matters of crazy. Lord knows you agree with that one.

Mostly, I strongly believe that it is his time, his generation’s time, and his culture’s time to give it a go. And so I shall vote for him.

Unfortunately for both the candidate and me, this is dangerous.

For the first time, a major party candidate did as little as possible to placate its base — Right or Left — and decided to go his own route in his own way; equal and effective parts grassroots, generational, technological, and oratorical.

First off — again, well established over the course of decades of printed material and four published works — I am a lunatic. Proud of it. Think of the most radical, cynical, vulgar and unconscionable ball-cracking contrarian and multiply it beyond your imagination. This is yours truly on a good day. I am a miserable, spiteful, vicious bastard the rest of the time. Pissing me off is not a good move. I tend to become a rabid mutant when disappointed; feral, spastic, and downright depraved when fed garbage and told its ice cream.

When I think something is already screwed, as it is 98.9% of the time, it’s easy to laugh it off, but when I am counting on someone or something and they fail to deliver, I tend to hurl derision every which way. It’s best when I have no expectations. Ask my wife, my family, what is left of my friends or any poor soul who spends five uninterrupted minutes in my company.

This is why I have found it far more pleasant to avoid expectation altogether. Whether I root for a team or purchase the talents/labor/utilities or heaven forefend, a product from anyone within our free-market economy, I expect to be hosed. I presume to fight, scratch and claw for every dime, right, or voice I attempt to infuse into a myriad of situations.

A good example of low expectations is my overview of the American electorate and its previous gaggle of victors.

I think most of what arises through the national political scene is akin to a sad parody of futile embarrassment. Most of what I have been forced to vote for, cover, or witness for the better part of my 46 years of existence has more or less resembled a steaming pile of horse feces. Thus, I have concluded that most Americans, like most humans, are a puerile collection of damaged goods, delusional egoists, or just plain stupid. Therefore, I count on these people getting the leaders they deserve; corrupt, lazy, and phony miscreant ignoramuses.

This, of course, translates nicely into the philosophy that John McCain is the perfect president. He is erratic, mean-spirited, confused, and at times downright scary. If you were to wrap the American psyche into a fun-loving ball and throw in a dapple of religious zealot gooberism with this vacant-eyed running mate of his, you’d have yourself a Clinton or Bush or Reagan or Carter or the usual mediocre fare.

This is why, along with he being a white, vaguely conservative, flip-flopping military veteran; I have been more than amazed McCain hadn’t wrapped this puppy up by Labor Day. Most candidates with this list merely have to avoid stabbing their mothers in daylight or kicking a paraplegic to be elected, especially when facing the Obama list. Apparently, somewhere along the line, voters thought whatever the Republican candidate was doing trumped these sins, which tumbled him into the unenviable position of being a symbol of the most unlikely of defeats.

Barack Obama is the first viable alternative to these repeated shams: Inarticulate, carousing, half-cocked, plastic, quasi-religious, social marauders, whipping up a frenzy of tired old proxies from long-dead campaigns. Obama has not pulled these tricks. He has not gone negative or petty or stooped to the latest feeble notion to appeal to The Dumb, despite long-discredited institutions like the NY Times or whatever passes for fading Sixties liberalism these days.

For the first time, a major party candidate did as little as possible to placate its base — Right or Left — and decided to go his own route in his own way; equal and effective parts grassroots, generational, technological, and oratorical.

Maybe it’s why he is considered radical and new and represents change and appears to some as un-American. Who the hell has grown up in this fixed and damaged national political environment and could aptly define someone uttering something smartly compiled and coherently processed?

Well, this weird angle worked like gangbusters around here and put me in the strange position I’m currently in: The cozy place normal voters have continuously settled with previous candidates, hope, enthusiasm, and (gulp) trust.

Hey, let’s not get nuts. I have no signs standing on my property or a bumper sticker on my car, and I do not own any article of clothing with the man’s name or face on it. As a member of the rogue press, I did not donate time or money to promote the candidate or his agenda. I certainly do not look for ideology in a candidate. No politician could begin to identify anything that rattles around in my head. It’s best that way. I do not expect this candidate to take on the entire establishment and turn this puritanical country into an unrecognizable frenzy of revolt.

That would be nice.

But I’ll take Barack Obama.

The closest thing I’ll get to a candidate with a chance.

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GOP R.I.P.

Aquarian Weekly 10/29/08 REALITY CHECK

GOP R.I.P. Exploring The Death Rattle Of Modern Conservatism

The Gipper's Last StandJohn McCain is correct about one thing; he is not George W. Bush. Bush won. Twice. McCain is not going to win. Not unless he begins to stand for one particular platform for more than three consecutive hours or starts throwing ugly and doing it soon.

These robo-calls about domestic terrorism and repeating Joe the Plummer over and over like a mental patient is not going to cut it. The ACORN thing is a nice touch; sets up an Al Gore kind of whining after the ignominious pummeling he is about to receive, but shan’t do the trick either. Socialism is always gangbusters with the base but didn’t work for the Goldwater crowd versus the Kennedy Machine in ’60 and is less likely to fool anyone now, especially since the Republican candidate voted for a massive socialism bill a few weeks back and his running mate takes oil company profits and distributes them among the citizens of Alaska.

No, the hole the Arizona Senator has dug for himself is too deep for cheap tricks and old routines. With two weeks to go he is staring down the barrel of the worst defeat a Republican candidate for president has endured in over eighty years. It is largly the fault of one lousy campain from the ground up, but it is also a serious defect within his party.

Unless the Obama campaign allows Nostradamus Biden to offer further dire prognostications or the candidate is found with a dead girl or a live boy, the state numbers, which have been steadily rising for five solid weeks in the direction of the Democratic candidate, looks to bury the Republican on 11/4.

Granted, national polls have taken more than their fair share of beatings in this space. Most of them, especially Zogby, have been proven less than useless. But the almost scientific breakdown of these averaged state polls on Rear Clear Politics or the Politico web sites are hard to ignore. From every corner of the contiguous United States, the trend toward the Democratic ticket is beyond anything most of us living have ever seen.

Virginia? A ten-point lead for the African-American Liberal in a state not won by a Democrat in 48 years is almost unfathomable. Indiana? The stronghold of Republicans for a century still in play boggles the senses. Florida? Teetering. Missouri? Slipping away. Gone is New Hampshire, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Iowa. The South invaded; the Midwest swept away, the western rim a distant memory, the entire east coast under siege.

It will have to be a new day in true Conservativism — fiscal and anti-government Conservatism, with a healthy respect for environmental issues and staying out of the affairs of half the planet’s battles and its citizens’ bedrooms, churches and freedom of expression and dissent — or it will continue to rot away at its foundation…

Only the Reagan explosion in the final weeks of 1980 begins to approach this sudden tidal wave of upheaval. It is, like Reagan, the result of an independent electorate — and many refugees from across the aisle — witnessing the victorious candidate in a debate forum and surprised at not being confronted with a radical extremist nutcase, but someone quite astute, noble, and, well…presidential. It is as if all of the ridiculous fiction bouncing around Internet innuendo backfires all at once: Where is the man with the horns breathing fire? Why am I supposed to be afraid of this man?

The Democrats tried to demonize Ronald Reagan twenty-eight years ago, but went too far. Perhaps if they had reigned in their abhorrence of the California governor, Jimmy Carter would have survived those final brutal days of October. But they decided instead to go ballistic, painting Reagan as something right of Rudolf Hess, and it cost them. Reagan may have been a yawping mannequin or fabricated prop, but he was not Grendel. And that revelation, as the final undecided voters of this election have finally realized, can now be applied to Barack Obama, which may well end in the most unlikely landslide in the history of this nation.

The McCain camp, led by Rick Davis, has its collective finger in the damn. No money. No message. No momentum. No nothing. It’s just as well. Staying on the defenseive means not digging the hole deeper. The whole mess never did get off the ground, and then, for some mad reason, it took the safer candidate and unleashed him in several directions at once, throwing Hail Mary bombs when a fullback dive would have done the trick. The only two explanations involved either being intimidated by the Obama aura or frightened to death of simply being a Republican.

I’ll take the latter.

It’s not a good time to play for the Grand Old Party. In fact, you’d have to reach back past even the dark days of Nixon and all the way to Herbert Hoover to find a lower standing for Republicans. The Bush Legacy will ultimately be its near total destruction of the modern Republican Party. In its wake free trade is in ruins, foreign policy a circus fire, and almost the entirety of the legislative branch turned over to the opposition; political suicide in its purist form. Spread across the headlines like faded words on an ideological tombstone: Here Lies The Last Vestige Of Modern Conservatism — 1964 to 2008.

After McCain’s sorry carcass is dragged from the public eye, and Sarah Palin gears up for her weekday talk show opposite “Ellen”, the Party of Lincoln and T Rex and The Gipper is going to have some serious soul searching to do. Unless Obama is a total disaster — a tough act to eclipse considering the last six years of The Captain’s Shoo-In Follies — this will be a nation represented by an astounding shift: Astute reasoning, overt intellectualism, universal diversity, and an odd infusion of youth. It will hopefully be far more secular and less pandering to extreme social tyranny, less inclined toward international hubris, and exceedingly more articulate in the ways of governance.

The “Conservative Elite”, which the McCain campaign has been bashing along with the evil media and certain parts of the country that is cronies deem “un-American”, will have to begin erecting a different type of opposition. It will have to be a new day in true Conservativism — fiscal and anti-government Conservatism, with a healthy respect for environmental issues and staying out of the affairs of half the planet’s battles and its citizens’ bedrooms, churches and freedom of expression and dissent — or it will continue to rot away at its foundation as it has over these past years as the Tom Delays of the world began to tell people how to live and die and the Bill Bennetts began to tell people what is “acceptable humor, music, and modes of dress and decorum”, and the Fallwells of the world began to hijack faith, and the Rush Limbaughs of the world became performing donkeys and the Dick Cheneys of the world treated the American people as lab rats.

If Obama indeed builds a even bigger government on the backs of the American taxpayer — an unlikely scenario with the current and growing economic and military crisis long from ending and the government he inherits already bloated to distraction — then this new breed of Conservative will need to roll up its collective sleeve, dig in the heels and rail against it. And they will have my support; but only if and when they stop acting like populists with a theocratic social chaser and running inarticulate goobers as candidates.

But there’s always a third party.

Anyone?

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Joe Cool Down The Stretch 2008

Aquarian Weekly 10/22/08 REALITY CHECK

JOE COOL DOWN THE STRETCH Obama Pushes McCain To The Brink

Joe CoolThere is absolute chaos cast upon the land. The economy acts like a wild animal. The country’s banking system hangs by a thread. People’s investments hemorrhage by the hour. The unemployment rate spikes to new and alarming levels. The Middle East is a powder keg, which is nothing new, but now we’ve got six years of our own blood and treasure on the line. The president of the United States has never been more unpopular without a pending Civil War and Congress has voted for the most socialistic financial tourniquet since The New Deal. As a result, the American electorate is about as angry with government as it has been in over a generation.

In less than twenty days two men stand against each other to take over this mess; one, a cranky pre-Boomer warrior — grizzled, combative, and so desperate for his shot at the prize he emerged undaunted from a previously derailed presidential run while being summarily besmirched within his own party. The second; a young, meteoric African-American junior senator, has shown the grit and audacity to take on the most powerful of Washington political machines and managed to traverse fairly insurmountable cultural and ideological heights to be in position to make history.

After nearly one and a half years at peddling their integrity, philosophy and political prowess with decisions which have ranged from unerringly brilliant to queerly perplexing to outwardly dumb, these two combatants have displayed incredible staying power and an enviably finite belief in their abilities to fight on and never blink.

Until now.

In the past weeks, when times called for the cooler head, a more stately approach to handling crisis in a sprinting news cycle, and the unyielding clamor for a symbol of change became as serious as bone cancer, only one came to play.

Barack Obama’s campaign, unflinching from the start — grass roots, grounding, vast and penetrating during a vicious dogfight with The Clinton Mystique — has put the screws to this election season. Their candidate has been smooth under fire, handling appearances, both in the press and on the stage, like a master tactician. He has maneuvered through weird neck-wrenching shifts in the political and cultural climate and time and again endured blatantly racist and increasingly absurd attacks on his character with an almost regal flair.

In short, when the bell rang and the pressure was on, Obama has looked presidential and as cool as the proverbial cucumber.

At the same time, his esteemed opponent has gone off the rails; playing his campaign, which was in the driver’s seat historically and culturally, as if its candidate were the young, black, northern liberal Democrat. In one disastrous month he has gone from the self-described “steady hand at the till” to an erratic populist demagogue. One day he is a champion of low taxes and deregulation, the next he is buying up bad mortgages and restructuring national health care. He makes inroads to rise above Rovian ugliness and then unleashes a dimwitted harpy from the great north to rile up the Timothy McVeigh set.

In short, McCain has been such a catastrophe almost every right wing pundit, columnist, and now even anonymous members of the current Republican administration openly mock him, and far more damaging, for the first time since his opponent has been running, it is he and not the more experienced McCain who is considered the less risky choice for president.

Coolness is in and wild abandon is looking like a losing strategy. Liberalism and inexperience are no longer factors in this contest. With three weeks to go only the race of his opponent can save John McCain now.

The word from The Right is that the economic meltdown has doomed John McCain. Before that he was rolling. This is revisionist and whiney and it will not stand here. The numbers moved, as expected, in McCain’s favor slightly on the national level after his convention bump and radical VP pick of Sarah Palin, which began to backfire once the Alaska governor began to show a fantastically imbecilic grasp of almost every subject put to her. Then, before things had gone terribly wrong on Wall St., McCain denounced the Bail Out plan, followed by the inexplicable “suspension” of his campaign to ostensibly rouse Republicans — firmly against the bill — to rally in its favor.

It was at this point things began to shift.

The first debate, which many American began to believe McCain was trying to duck, clearly ended in favor of McCain. However, while forcefully illustrating his knowledge of foreign affairs, he subsequently came off as condescending and mean-spirited. The standard Democrat’s recipe for defeat ala John Kerry and Al Gore had suddenly convinced the independent voter that the Republican candidate did not respect his opponent. Thus began a disconnect that McCain has yet to mend.

Then there is the matter of the final debate.

The first, as mentioned, went to McCain on substance and performance. The second was a draw, with an uneven showing by McCain and Obama beginning to flex his centrist muscles. But let it be marked that on the fifteenth day of the tenth month of 2008, the 47 year-old Democratic Illinois Senator wiped the floor with the 72 year-old Republican Senator from Arizona and rendered the competitive nature of this presidential race to near critical.

While McCain spat out one accusatory canard and ham-handed non sequitur in his dizzyingly buncombe fashion, Obama calmly smiled, looked at the camera, and summarily defused each charge with well-framed proposals. McCain’s only retort was to make finger quotes to mock his opponent’s “eloquence”, as if being able to formulate difficult concepts into coherent points was some kind of anti-American con job.

For ninety excruciatingly pathetic minutes, McCain failed to illustrate, as the Weekly Standard’s conservative columnist, Bill Krystol pointed out on FOXNEWS, “one plausible reason to vote for him”. This point was echoed by NY Times conservative columnist, David Brooks, whose wincing analysis on PBS concluded with “I’m not sure the American people are prepared to have John McCain on their TV screens for the next four years.” Later on CNN, when asked what McCain can do to follow up his performance that night, a bewildered David Gergen, who has advised five of the past seven presidents said, “Beats the hell out of me.”

Contrarily, the next day conservative commentator, Dick Morris wrote in the NY Post; “Obama looked like the better president. Obama is smoother, prettier, younger and more presidential.” This was as word began to spread that the godfather of modern conservative letters, William F. Buckley’s son had written a column for the Daily Beast that he planned on voting for Barack Obama.

And at the time of this writing the usually silent and non-partisan Republican icon, Colin Powell was preparing to join these voices.

When the final face-off between the spastic rambles of the Republican candidate dismissed by the tranquil elusiveness of his Democratic opponent mercifully concluded, the only reason Barack Obama would not become the 44th president of the United States, is his race.

Perhaps myopic cheerleaders on The Right, the religiously motivated, or those rightfully worried about an all-Democratic federal government can honestly vote for John Sydney McCain now, but no clear-thinking unbiased observer with eyes, ears and most of its brain can seriously make this choice.

Coolness is in and wild abandon is looking like a losing strategy. Liberalism and inexperience are no longer factors in this contest. With three weeks to go only the race of his opponent can save John McCain now.

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The People’s Republic Of America

Aquarian Weekly 10/8/08 REALITY CHECK

POWER TO THE PEOPLE Bailout Crumbles Beneath Populace Outcry & Candidates Scramble To Keep Up

Power To The PeopleFollowing the most dramatic display of democracy in modern times, the electoral map has revealed a seismic shift. The American people have spoken loudly and the presidential candidates had better be listening. Congress sure listened. You don’t think so? When was the last time you witnessed a final and very public failure to pass a bill of such dire magnitude as that of the Bail Out? I can tell you, if you like? How about never. Bills that significant with that much pre-hype and unfettered grandstanding never fail that miserably when all indications were to the contrary. Illustration of this unprecedented congressional anomaly was a stock market in record freefall.

Normally congress, unless it is headed by puppet demagogues like Newt Gingrich, even at its most inept, is shrewder than this. It is regularly a body careful not to rock boats and appear as rudderless and foolhardy as it did last week. Normally votes are meticulously considered, vociferously argued and either pushed through with beating chests or abandoned outright, not changed on the fly and abjectly booted with millions of voters looking on aghast. Normally laws, as Benjamin Disraeli once mused, are like sausages; best not seen being made.

There could only be one reason for such an upchuck in spineless etiquette; the citizenry went ballistic, or as one congressional aid put it to me; “By Monday afternoon these people had the fear of God in them.”

Who put it there?

Angry constituents pummeling the Capital Hill switchboard in record numbers.

Not since the pending impeachment of Richard M. Nixon had the legislative branch of this government been harassed so vehemently. It was an unprecedented free-market protest that some deemed arbitrary and naïve and others as responsibly heroic. Either way, it’s ultimately what this democracy jag is all about.

Consequently, the fallout has rendered this most historic of presidential races upsidedown.

For the first time, this space is willing to concede that there is a serious chance Barack Obama could be the next president of the United States.

The Democrats are the ones handed the Golden Parachute. Let’s face it; if a Southern Caucasian were running instead of an African American Liberal, it would be a faits accomplis. McCain and this bespectacled hood ornament he calls a running mate could take their ball and head home, because it would be over and done. But, sadly, this is not the case, and even one of the most ineffectual and laughably goofy campaigns in recent memories still has a fighting chance.

For two solid weeks John McCain has acted as if he’d awoken from a frenzied round of shock therapy. His every move has sabotaged his candidacy. The “suspending of my campaign” and nearly pulling out of the debate for a Here Comes The Calvary two-step backfired when house Republicans flat-out ignored he and his lame-duck president, forcing McCain to scuttle to Mississippi where he spent two agonizing hours acting like a condescending jack-ass in front of millions of debate viewers.

The president can’t stop The Piper, nor could Congress, God or God’s God or even General Motors or Standard Oil or Donald Trump or The Saudis.

Ironically, it was the Arizona Senator who emerged the victor, but you’d never know it. His humorless crank show bogged down by wooden platitudes turned an extremely weak performance from his opponent into looking oddly presidential. In a weird twist of fate, this is works out better for McCain, since Obama’s ability to actually formulate coherant thoughts has always been a glaring drawback to obtaining the presidency.

Speaking of which, the Palin choice for VP, a queerly devised cocktail of ballsy desperatation just a few short weeks ago, has quickly gone from intriguing freak show to complete implosion. Two fairly timid network interviews revealed the woman as a stammering dimwit. Aside from authoring some of the funniest evening news soundbites in recent memory, it caused over a dozen prominent conservative scribes to demand her immediate dismissal from the ticket.

Palin’s entry into national punchline coupled with almost daily disasterous economic news, and McCain’s inability to have anything close to a singular position on any of it, began to heavily tip heretofore swing states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin, and stunningly Virginia to Obama’s side. Top McCain aides, against their candidate’s wishes, received their week-long pleas to pull funds from Michigan completely, and within days even Ohio, for the first time since this battle was forged, had severely lessoned its Republican support.

But to the surprise of more than a few, the vice presidential debates did not bury the McCain ticket after all. Palin was not as dismally vertiginous as advertised, and at times even used her folsky populism to score points with the usual rube-voter block. Meanwhile, Joe Biden spent endless sentences displaying his wonky dance of the bland, regurgitating a mind-numbing rollout of facts and figures. Of course, Biden won the bloodless contest, as did McCain the week before, because he is better versed in the deeper details of governance. Obama, as Palin after him, has a broader appeal, both choosing to give speeches instead of answers. Throughout her overly rehearsed robotic performance, Palin completely ignored direct queries to meander aimlessly into melodrama.

(Fill blank in with question here)

Biden: Blah, blah 7,400, blah blah, forty-percent since 1984, blah blah, $600 million.”

Palin: Blah blah, gosh darn it, blah blah maverick, blah blah (add wink here).

Whether any of this makes a headline beyond the weekend is dubious. Soon the reformed Senate version of this massive federal government economic band-aid with its porked up millions for Puerto Rican rum and tax benefits for auto racetrack owners will head back into the House where it will surely pass this time.

And the temperature of the people will again be taken, and where that leads will inevitably decide how the last month of this election season goes.

At some point John McCain needs less more bold moves and bizarre forms of performance art or pulling distracting side-shows from his hat, and more finding of a way, any possible way, to not look like the poster boy of a stale government sitting on bad wars and a shitty economy.

And Barack Obama had better not think for one solitary minute he is still not the underdog.

 

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The People’s Republic Of America

Aquarian Weekly 10/1/08 REALITY CHECK

WELCOME TO THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF AMERICA Presiding Over The Ashes Of Free-Market Capitalism In The Age Of Avarice

This is a valley of ashes!-a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. Socialist ConcressOccasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight. – F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby

And maybe all the things You thought you got coming to you Ain’t coming to you Not in this life And maybe all the promises You thought were broken Were never really made Promises never made – Dan Bern Toledo

Calvin Coolidge’s doomstruck “Every Man For Himself” convention speech of 1924 roused the tycoon brigade and whipped off a flapper-rich parade of blank checks from Wall St. to Main St. The Roaring Twenties were already careening into what F. Scott Fitzgerald later called the “greatest orgy of excess and greed known to modern man”. That night Coolidge was for all intents and purposes reciting The American Manifesto, the “Where’s Mine” siren to every Mr. Jones who lived under the illusion that a Golden Ticket was the birthright of a generation. Slick hucksters with nary a piss pot began living high on the hog on the backs of millions of ghetto rubes and sucker farm hands who were soon to be flattened by The Crash.

That was the year of the Awakening, when Land Barons & Fat Cats found Jesus and ran hat-in-hand to Mother Government, forging a golden age of American Socialism. The New Deal’s avalanche of investigation, transparency and oversight saved us from ourselves before WWII thinned us out for the Baby Boom and helped to wipe clean the nasty memories of economic suicide.

This was the vacuum later filled by Ronald Reagan and an eruption in rapacious lunacy to rival the darkest days of Nero. An army of yuppie zombies spent the Sleepless Eighties gorging on the fleshy innards of the crumbling middle class. Blind surfs who couldn’t be bothered knotting the thin power ties were ushered into a nether world of sad excuses and poorhouse hand-outs. But soon the Savings & Loan Crisis forced Mother Government back into the arena to wield her mighty rolling pin of taxpayer relief to the tune of $160 billion.

Fast forward to the Zany Nineties when everything appeared invincible in the cyber boon. Geeks got rich bilking nerd wannabes and consumer addicts while corporate lackeys spent trillions on researching how to rape the new Wild West. But it all went belly up in the summers of 2001 and 2002. It was not disaster but portended one, so there was nowhere for the money men to scramble but to Real Estate, where the Bubble was filled with the hottest most expensive air and Credit flowed like sweet nectar. No one claimed to see the bottom, thus it was called bottomless, and “no bottom” means not having to pay up. Ever.

The president can’t stop The Piper, nor could Congress, God or God’s God or even General Motors or Standard Oil or Donald Trump or The Saudis.

Oh, the land of Every Man For Himself returned in spades and mere speculation morphed into a riot of flat-out gambling. Eight year-olds and homeless junkies were good for six-figure plastic and hardened criminals on the lamb were buying up property on fake leases with fluxuating interest rates that began to expand with the fine print. Things looked so rosy in the lending field there was enough fun money to cover a nation. Shit, it covered many nations, all the way to China, via the White House, chief.

Ah, but the hardest lessons are learned by those in promise to the Piper. The Piper always comes, and sometimes The Piper comes in the form of a bank. And when the bank needs your capital and you have none, we all have a problem, especially when those banks are attached to the teat of Mother Government. And this is where we find ourselves today, bub, because Mother Government is us, and we have to pony up with $700 billion to slate The Piper or the Piper will get his one way or the other.

The president can’t stop The Piper, nor could Congress, God or God’s God or even General Motors or Standard Oil or Donald Trump or The Saudis.

And it became frighteningly apparent these past weeks the gang running for high office knows even less about this than you. Listening to Barack Obama talk about economic crisis is like the aimless rambling of a man learning that his wife has been moonlighting as a hooker and his kids’ college fund had been dumped on a three-team teaser. But it was far easier to stomach than John McCain, who appeared as a doddering stroke-victim wandering the halls of a sanitarium bellowing incoherantly about how he must suspend bingo and save the uiniverse. It’s as if the very notion of how money works is as alien to him as speaking without mini-flashcards.

These people talk as if The Market is some kind of ancient dragon that has devoured innocent Americans. It is not a mystical beast, it is the creation and manipulation of Americans; ones with retirement funds and pensions and college investments for their kids and leans on their cars and loans for their homes. And, as usual, it is never anyone’s fault. It’s the system! It’s the policies! It’s the evil Moneylenders!

Either way, we’ll soon be the proud owners of the fragments of Coolidge’s maniacal mantra. We will embrace the victims of Captilalism and become a government-run Market controlled by The People. That’s right; the People’s Republic Of America. The concept of a free market system is not only wounded, it is dead, and its ghost is named Socialism. The government, bloated beyond precedence and under the umbrella of a loser gaggle which still possess the balls to refer to their party platform as Conservative have sunk the ship. Now it will be time for a clean-up, and no matter what poor sap is unlucky enough to helm this gory economic afterbirth, it will ultimately be ours to control.

Where’s all the big government, Liberal bashing now?

Sorry, you can’t hear it under all the gimmie…gimmie…gimmie…

Freeloaders, deadbeats and gamblers rejoice!

We’ve got your back.

 

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Republican National Convention ’08

Aquarian Weekly 9/10/08 REALITY CHECK

HURRICANE PALIN STEALS THUNDER FROM RNC New Kid In Town Puts Old Man On The Brink

Sarah PalinA political acceptance speech viewed by thirty-eight million Americans is enough to send even the most staunch campaign minds into meltdown. Barack Obama’s August 28 appearance in front of eighty thousand delegates receiving Super Bowl/American Idol television numbers apparently scared the living shit out of John McCain. Less than 24 hours later he proved it by choosing for his ticket a completely unknown 20-month governor of Alaska, who also happens to be in her mid-forties, ultra-right wing, and most conveniently, a woman. In one fell swoop the McCain camp galvanized a flaccid base, challenged the gender/generational voting gap, and put some historical wow into a comatose candidate fronting a damaged brand.

But make no mistake; this was an intimidated and reactive move that reeks of desperation.

Ignoring the foundation of his campaign (experience), and against his better judgment, personal feelings, and fast-fading maverick pedigree, the Republican nominee for president of the United States panicked. Why he did so considering his opponent being an off the charts liberal, black junior senator is up for discussion. But what will ultimately be open for debate and an endless juicy line of factoids is its effect on this race, which according to the Grand Old Party’s top dog was in jeopardy of being something far worse than doomed. He had become irrelevant.

Say one thing for the Sarah Palin choice; it reflects a healthy chunk of acquired wisdom.

In 2000, McCain made serious inroads as a “reformer”, but before long he was ushered aside by half-assed Reformer Bush bullshit. So he knows first hand how one can usurp a decent idea to victory. And let’s face it; Hillary Clinton spent months combating the Obama surge with the weakly received “ready to serve from day one” crap which was roundly defeated.

Clinton failed to grasp the Change zeitgeist and grossly miscalculated the generational wave and was eventually dismissed as a tired has-been, a mantle that had been passed to John McCain. That is until Friday, August 29, when fighting the newbie with tough talk of being a sound and safe choice was trash-canned in favor of Two Can Play At This Game.

Love her, hate her, or be mostly confused by the whole mess, you must admit by Palin’s very existence, this 44 year-old woman who’d made a reputation on ripping and tearing at the foundation of her state’s “business as usual” ethics, puts McCain’s hopes, if not aboard the Change Train, at least hanging onto its caboose.

Of course it also puts the myth about the candidate being anything but a party suck-up and political panderer to bed. This was as calculated and fabricated a political move than could be made, which, of course, is fine, but not in the usual McCain idiom. By all reports the candidate wanted a trusted and close advisor like Independent/Democrat Joe Lieberman, a choice that he had stated time and again would help him “lead” rather than “gain him political traction”.

But somewhere along the line, whether his inability to crack the national 45 percent ceiling or his tepid numbers in the Southeast and Midwest or the kickass showcase the Democrats unleashed the week before, the once pushed-aside conservative party voices began to squawk, and McCain caved. This is the only explanation to why there was little to no vetting of Palin, who was never even mentioned on the shortlist, whom McCain had only met once, and who mockingly stated a few weeks ago she didn’t know what a vice president did.

The most important aspect of the past week for Republicans was to somehow some way distance themselves from themselves, and by attacking the media as misrepresenting the horrible results of the present government, which was perpetuated gleefully for the past eight years by their very own candidate, then they can say, “Shit, everything is fine, it’s the depiction of it that’s the problem.”

But Palin makes sense in a few crucial ways. First and foremost she is a woman who can seduce the disaffected Clinton supporters who have spent months whining about “gender bias” and cracking “glass ceilings”. Now that history is on both tickets, let’s see where these PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) gals go. And for those craving the young and untested Washington outsider, Palin has it in spades. You get no farther away from Washington DC than Alaska. You get no further from the mainstream than you do with a moose-gorging, gun-toting, baby machine. And best of all, she finally puts a corny goober into this race.

Then there is the unexpectedly advantageous offshoot that Palin is damaged goods — Evangelical hardliner with a knocked up teenaged daughter embroiled in an ongoing investigation on the firing of an in-law and weird connections to the Alaskan Independence party which continuously proposes the secession of the state. These among other baubles ignited a media feeding frenzy that has been used by the McCain people to great lengths as an implication of Leftist backlash, always gangbusters with the Republican base.

The last prominent perk of the Palin move is a magnificent marketing spin to what was sure to be a less than spectacular convention. In its wake the tainted Republican image was reborn in swaths of America First and calls for Anti-Establishment Central, not unlike peddling cheap furniture polish in a fancy can or selling crappy beer with a multi-colored label.

The most important aspect of the past week for Republicans was to somehow some way distance themselves from themselves, and by attacking the media as misrepresenting the horrible results of the present government, which was perpetuated gleefully for the past eight years by their very own candidate, then they can say, “Shit, everything is fine, it’s the depiction of it that’s the problem.”

It was classic fare and brilliant in its idiocy. It never fails. Anyone with any scope of fairness and even the slightest sense of political theater salutes it.

This intricate magic show was never more on display than in the almost Through The Looking Glass quality of a convention replete with a line-up of speakers who were pummeled in the party’s primary by a far less conservative candidate. Huckabee, Thompson, Romney and Giuliani shamelessly trumped up McCain’s Right Wing credentials with insane gibberish like the hammering of eastern-establishment elitists from a billionaire former governor of Massachusetts and the open derision towards a media that anointed the King of Mayors frontrunner status when he was accruing less votes than Ron Paul.

And by the way, how come Paul was left at the altar while a sad-sack windbag like Fred Thompson gets to wax poetic? I guess the only true conservative left who doesn’t exploit God and the flag for every morsel has been officially shut out of the Republican Party for good.

Paul, a true reforming libertarian, is on the outs while a losing Democratic vice presidential candidate was allowed 40 uninterrupted minutes of droning prattle. But it’s just as well, the man who eight years ago cried, “A vote for Al Gore is a vote for God” and then whimpered about being ripped off by Republicans when he was beaten in 2000 fit right in during what turned into the Victimization Revue.

But nothing compared to what the party did to its superheroes George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, two-time victors in the most polarized elections in generations, who were treated like rancid street trash: The president, pushed from primetime via satellite, meekly offered burps of feint praise and the vice president wasn’t even allowed on American soil during the festivities.

So it was no surprise that when McCain finally took the stage he spent close to an hour critically deconstructing the entire Bush legacy as a series of sad mistakes, a strange close to the incumbent party’s convention.

And as the music played and the balloons descended to the floor I thought for the first time a white, military veteran, Republican might actually blow this.

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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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