Countdown To Compromise

Aquarian Weekly 4/13/11 REALITY CHECK

OPENING ACTStaged Drama in the Final Minutes to Avoid Government Shutdown (for now)

It is still an open question, however, as to what extent exposure really injures a performer. – Harry Houdini

The Show was in full force by late Friday night when word came down a mere 22 minutes before the deadline to close the federal government. A deal struck!

For now.

Oooh…drama; as trumped up and distilled as any lame B-Movie script. And as any worthy cliff-hanger, there are heroes and villains, saviors and demons, and of course winners and losers; but alas these titles can and do change by the minute in The District.

Paul RyanAfter a year of feckless deadline-pushing by Democrats, who held “super majorities” in both houses of the legislature for the past year and Republicans, who used every political machination to filibuster and delay voting until what looked like a landslide November would put them more or less in the game, the sausage makers stepped into the spotlight. And they used that spotlight to provide a preview of the political bloodshed to come; the Main Attraction. Soon the 2012 budget and the looming deadline vote to raise the debt ceiling will have to be answered for, and if this is any indication, it will provide the truest elements of drama.

Until then, the Speaker of the House of Representatives was Friday’s big winner. Just as Nancy Pelosi before him, when she pulled off her party’s cherished health care initiative and thus the most significant Democratic legislative victory in a generation, John Boehner displayed great resolve and just the right amount of backroom conniving to rally and then stay his caucus tide; bringing about the greatest single year budget slashing in the nation’s history. Unlike Pelosi though, Boehner needed Democrat votes, especially in the thorny Senate where the rules change on the fly. Make no mistake, as was the case with the Health Care Reform Law, there awaits fallout, but not without the hedging of a political bet.

Boehner’s gamble to include ridiculously frivolous ideological riders like defunding Public Broadcasting or Planned Parenthood or even reduce funding to monitor greenhouse gas omissions and eliminate the funding to implement health care reform, struck gold. As the long hours of Friday passed and the glare of the spotlight shined on the ideological wish list, the Republicans held firm until their last breath, when all along no one, not the president, the Speaker, or the Senate Majority Leader thought any of it had a hoot in hell of surviving, Boehner played the extreme elements of his party, now popularly referred to as the TEA Party, like a pro, while continuing to spew his fiscal mantra –driving up his cut numbers with a deal already in his back pocket. He would not become another Newt Gingrich and take a P.R. beating and revive a politically wounded Democratic president.

It was something this space did not think he had in him, as predicted here last week when it looked like all the world he would hand off this kind of con job to his pit bull, Eric Cantor. But Boehner stiffened, and until the final hours, dangled red meat to his social conservative colleagues, and then by conceding to drop the goofy demands at the last minute, appeared to be giving up the store, when just a few billion were handed back to Democrats already having caved on $78 billion from the original 2011 budget proposal.

Oooh…drama; as trumped up and distilled as any lame B-Movie script. And as any worthy cliff-hanger, there are heroes and villains, saviors and demons, and of course winners and losers; but alas these titles can and do change by the minute in The District.

It may not have been genius, but it was a damned smart and sinister move, and proved Boehner may be a man of his word; this new conservative movement could well actually be about the fiscal and not the usual parade of Terry Schiavo religious wack jobs that crippled the party in 2006, put Barack Obama in the White House, and made media whores out of idiots like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.

Seven minutes before 11:00 pm, the victorious Speaker of the House was the first to address the media with less than a minute of standard Republican hoo-ha about “fighting for budget cuts” and “keeping America working”; but took no questions. Eleven minutes later, Boehner’s nemesis, who was also a de facto political victor in this little sideshow, the president of the United States stood before a window overlooking the Washington monument and began waxing poetic about sacrifices and the largest single annual budget cut ever and then went off the rails with a “Joe Cool manipulated the bi-partisan government victory” spin; yammering on about school kids from some God-forsaken mid-western hamlet, finishing his three minutes with a look ahead to “working together as one”.

By 1:00 am, the White House, suddenly presiding over by far a larger one-time program-slashing than anything Ronald Reagan dared attempt, would leak the contents of secret meetings over two days when Boehner and vice president Joe Biden engaged in an Irish stand-off, both threatening to paint the other as a raving lunatic to the press if the government were to shut down, to which the story goes Boehner admitted to his fancy two-step and had to head back to placate the TEA Party just in time to save face.

Ah, but then the losers first had to take to the podium at 11:10 pm, when Senate Majority Leader and poster boy for the mass Stimulus and Health Care moves of 2009, Harry Reid stood in the Capitol chamber and with the hoarse whisper of a broken man spoke of a “grueling process” to hack $40 billion from the government coffers in two months as if it came straight from his bank account, but in reality was a spit in the bucket of the trillions in the hole this government has dug over the past eleven years when a surplus was blown up by supposed conservative Republicans and a president who not only refused to veto one spending bill but signed onto an unfunded tax relief, ran two wars and bloated Medicare on the Chinese jiao.

Four minutes later, Mitch McConnell, who was all-but ignored in this process, stood at his own podium across from Reid and began waving the white flag of “avoiding the repeat of history”, before wrapping up his dreary two minutes by waiting for the thud that was once the Gingrich for President 2012 campaign. His terrible failures of 1995 have finally finished him. There are new legislators in town, Newt, who can get the dirty job done and still look like Yankee Doodle Dandies.

At 11:18, 42 minutes before the dreaded deadline, the reviews for The Show were in: It is a summer blockbuster, passing its script through the United States Senate and then rushed back to the House for an after-midnight vote and then quickly on to the chief executive’s desk.

A $39 billion cut to the trillions tumbling into infinity, and hardly a burp from Wall St. or a whisper on Main St. It was, in the end, just an Opening Act, but what an act! By 1:15 am, Saturday ultra-right congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was on FOXNEWS decrying Boehner as a gutless appeaser and leftist congressman Anthony Weiner was whining about Harry Reid and the president selling out.

Coming soon: Act II — This time it’s personal.


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Countdown To Compromise

Aquarian Weekly 4/6/11 REALITY CHECK

COUNTDOWN TO COMPROMISE How Congress Stretches Credibility And Avoids 2011 Government Shutdown

By the time this goes to press, we’re looking at eight days until a “continuing resolution” deadline for the legislative branch to send a bill to the White House or run the risk of a third federal government shutdown of the past sixteen years. Unlike the infamous hissy-fit mid-’90s’ Newt Gingrich/Contract with America variety, the country is mired in at best a stagnant economic recovery and embroiled in three — count ’em! — three military conflicts, the most recent now ratcheted up to something between Viet Nam circa 1955 “advisers” entry level or a pre-Iran/Contra illegal weapons trade smell test. As the Central Intelligence Agency vets the disjointed Libyan mob our nation contemplates arming, the fiscal battle of Capitol Hill has reached its nexus.

John BoehnerThe Republicans proposal of $32 billion in cuts to fund the government, the brainchild of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, has risen slightly in a behind the scenes wrangling to a reportedly $33 billion, which the Vice President recently leaked as “the number” most likely to slake Senate Republicans and to a large degree Speaker of the House John Boehner, who has from the very beginning has astutely striven to not become the Ghost of Gingrich while outwardly appearing religiously conservative. This spectacularly difficult juggling act will hopefully for his more reasoned Republican colleagues disallow the Democrats the political Hail Mary it needs to dismantle last November’s GOP congressional gains.

But, alas, as promised, the TEA Party caucus in the House is not screwing around. It plans on pushing a fairly steep $61.5 billion in cuts, and as of the final day of March, held rallies in front of the Capitol to prove it won’t be backing down, and, according to incendiary rhetoric from hardliners like Representatives Mike Pence from Indiana, Minnesota’s Michelle Bachman, South Carolina’s Jim DeMint and Joe Walsh from Illinois, if it ends in a stalemate that halts the running of the federal government, so be it.

Whether this queers Boehner’s two-faced political chicanery or the Vice President’s so-called “deal” and sinks Republicans into a public relations nightmare has yet to play out. Luckily Boehner has his sidekick, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in reserve to push hard against any kind of compromise, while at the same time working out a compromise. And compromise is sure to come; making it less likely that there will be a shutdown or its subsequent political fallout. No matter the outcome, the Speaker can continue to look responsibly legislative; claiming a measure of victory as his party upped the Ryan cut proposals by $1 billion, while Cantor remains unflinchingly hardcore.

No matter the outcome, the Speaker can continue to look responsibly legislative; claiming a measure of victory as his party upped the Ryan cut proposals by $1 billion, while Cantor remains unflinchingly hardcore.

The pit bull of this dynamic duo was on full display this week as Cantor went off the rails telling the press that if the Senate does not act, which it has not in 40-plus days, then the House’s current “continuing resolution” bill will become “the law of the land”. Now, Cantor is no Michelle Bachman. In fact, he appears to have a fair grip on reality and has used that grip at times quite deftly, especially during the contentious Health Care debate, as he sounded like the most sober and genuinely concerned opponent of key elements of the bill, while refraining from the embarrassing “death panels” or “socialism” hyperbole, which bogged down his congressional brethren. So the best estimate from that evidence is that he must know what every eighth-grader not on mescaline should know; that a bill cannot be a law unless passed through the Senate and signed by a president of the United States. Yet there was Cantor late Wednesday afternoon bellowing to a phalanx of national reporters that the House’s current resolution would magically be transformed into law as a consequence of the Senate’s inertia.

The only plausible explanation for Cantor’s silliness is by making a spectacle of himself he shines a pre-deal light on some portion of Republicans who either have to vote for the less-than-devouring budget cuts while holding their collective nose or throw some dissenting votes against it to regain traction on the Right. Like most congressional grandstanding, it is a show, but in this political climate and with larger battles to come, not the least of which the national budget and the debt ceiling deadline, we get a stellar performance worthy of the late Ted Kennedy at his thespian best.

The Democrats have their own scheme; allow the Republicans to fuck up again. Worked out great for Bill Clinton in ’96 when, with able assistance from excrement monger Dick Morris, the president used the “Republicans are going to kill your grandmother” to reclaim the White House. But hand-sitters like New York Senator Chuck Schumer couldn’t care less if this president survives the next two years, as long as the next two weeks gloss over Democratic congressional overreaches of the previous two years. He and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expect to let the House bill spin in the wind, get the in fighting to spill over into the cable news quagmire, and reap a political windfall.

Meanwhile, as mentioned, the word is that the Senate has already agreed in principle to move forward on the $33 billion resolution. And so now Democrats can feign disappointment and Republicans can fake a red-faced result of being the victims of an end-around. But it will be a small price to pay for moving the fight down the line to other issues, when the Democrats will cry responsibility and the TEA Party will have to stand and be counted or be mocked for a fringe noise-machine like the 2006 anti-war movement, duly ignored by Nancy Pelosi and the 110th congress.

The guess here is that it will be around $33 billion in cuts by week’s end with the ousting of pennies-on-the-dollar anti-Left riders like Public Broadcasting and Planned Parenthood, sending the spin-doctors to the microphones and test the measure of the shrink-the-government set. Now, cue the yawning.


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The Ides Of Libya

Aquarian Weekly 3/30/11 REALITY CHECK

THE IDES OF LIBYA How To Take An Arab Sucker Punch

Think not I am what I appear. – Lord Byron

This thing in Libya, the “humanitarian effort” — or whatever the strategic bombing of a sovereign nation embroiled in civil war is now called — is wrong. It is wrong for this country. It is wrong for this president. It is wrong for this economy. It is certainly wrong in the wake of the ongoing United States riotous 21st century foreign policy. Thus, it is wrong for these times. It does nothing but prove that no matter what manner of man occupies the position of commander-in-chief it comes complete with a fatuous level of committal to our oil masters, putting to rest any notion that what is left of this bankrupt nation’s illusionary pride is, as it has been during the whole of my lifetime, nothing but a feint echo.

Moammar GadhafiTurns out this fiasco was a no-go during the long weekend of March 18-20, until the Secretary of State, whose husband, as president, stood idly by when receiving reams of reports from Rwanda that there were scores of Tutsis being massacred in a systemic genocide mission, received word that the Arab League was all in favor of ousting the Libyan president but wanted the world to think it a mercy mission. This is how the West would rid the Saudis of Moammar Gadhafi and his secular abomination, sending a pack of radicals into a power vacuum. Keeps the rest of the planet from seeing the strong-arm tactics being deployed in Bahrain to prove whose boss.

Libya was nothing but a sideline venture for Barack Obama until the League of Arab States put its imprimatur on things. Then it went from stoic aphorisms on the concern for world peace to guns a-blazin’; a nifty shift in foreign policy dictated once again by our masters.

Why Gadhafi? Why now? This civil war, this insurrection by the latest in a long-running rabble that is “fed up” with his four decades of abject madness, is a distraction. Gadhafi is useless and stupid and fearing his threats to weed out the scum in their closets and slaughter their children is equally as useless and stupid. Have we learned nothing from grandstanding millionaire oil tyrants who wave machetes for CNN? Has the State Department and the CIA finally given up, and if so, how can we sic the Republican sweep of federal budget cuts on them?

No one believes Gadhafi a threat to anyone outside of his people, a people this country or the whole of Europe know less about than they knew what the Iraqis would do when we were through pillaging their country. It is the immutable right of a people to rise up against its oppressor as it is in the oppressor’s right to crush them. For instance: Let’s see how far things get around here if we run a mass assault on Pennsylvania Avenue, jack.

Propping up an indistinct revolt in a tiny, insignificant stretch of arid desert in North Africa makes as much sense as the fancy euphemisms this country has offered for war tactics under every president for the past one hundred-plus years.

Propping up an indistinct revolt in a tiny, insignificant stretch of arid desert in North Africa makes as much sense as the fancy euphemisms this country has offered for war tactics under every president for the past one hundred-plus years; from the annexing of Mexico and Hawaii and the Philippines and Cuba to the butting in on Korea and Viet Nam and Nicaragua and Afghanistan and Iraq. Call it a “humanitarian effort” if it pleases you, or call it a “police action”, “surge” “raid” or “project freedom”, but without the semantic gymnastics, it is an act of war. It is pushing another weak hand to the center of the table with very little in the way of chips to back it up.

And what is the end game; ousting a lunatic to usher in the mob?

Reports from all sides indicate that there is no central theme to the Libyan uprising, as was the sad case with the stalled Egyptian coup or Tunisia’s mutiny, where a random pack of citizenry cobble discarded WWII-era weapons and instigate land skirmishes against hired soldiers of fortune armed with Soviet-era weaponry in an all-out five-sided melee. This a revolution does not make.

So, then, whom is Europe going to eventually deal with for its oil supply? And why then are we assisting this half-baked desperate attempt at securing several nations’ supplies when many of them kept their arms folded when we attempted the same thing in Iraq eight years ago to the very day?

And dare we mention again that the United States military, its command and the entirety of the Pentagon, is broken and has been for decades; the gory results of its failures on display for the past ten years as third-world nations take forever to be secured and although it is gangbusters getting in, not so much getting out. And you would think that a man who stated years before he thought of running for president that using military force with no direct threat to the nation is an abuse of executive power would heed his own warnings, or the warnings of history, both recent and ancient.

But here we go again; more half-truths and ambiguous mission statements, half-assed allies — including the fancy Arab League which now hedges bets and plays against rote, much like the last two decades of Pakistan’s sinkhole alliance — and a well-meaning but toothless U.N. suckering the United States into another military folly.

And who is paying for this? I thought we were busted and our children doomed and our system hanging by a thread and everyone must tighten belts and sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. Is this the military industrial complex making waves to remain relevant, keep the TEA Party marauders from lumping them in with Public Broadcasting and the Department of Education?

Hell, a lot of entities benefit from this turn of events, but the least them is the American people, who once again bankroll a president caught in the crosshairs of international intrigue with his red, white & blue hanging out. But know this, if anyone thinks Gadhafi will get the message and back down or come to his senses or some other dime-store postulating from the same snake-oil peddlers who brought us “the Iraqis will greet us as liberators”, then prepare to be duped.

It may not be a disaster, it could even end is some sort of international public relations coup, but it is wrong. And I’m fairly sure we’ve had enough of wrong around here.


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Peter King’s Travesty

Aquarian Weekly 3/16/11 REALITY CHECK

THE CAKE HAS BEEN TAKEN Pack Your Sanity In Your Old Kit Bag And Puke, Puke, Puke

If you had a dime for every time a government official has used national security to railroad some segment of society, you’d never have to work again. The pitiable history of humanity is ripe with this kind of stench. The only question that needs to be asked is why it keeps happening, or more to the point, why it keeps happening in a purported constitutionally mandated republic which grants liberty to all.

Long ago, before I completely gave up on the ambiguities of democracy, human decency and the evolution of free thought and traded it all in to comment on what is obviously a fucked game of slobbered knuckle-dragging claptrap, I used to laugh out loud at the barbaric notions of the McCarthy Anti-American hearings of the 1950s. It was a surreal scene, to say the least; as if the whole fiasco was less horror show than sick joke. It is still hard to fathom that you could find two people, even those from the South, who would buy such a load of crap, much less allow it to happen in latter 20th century America. It was so unconscionably bizarre it didn’t even appear to feign rationale. It was as if there had been a mass hallucination or the Scopes Monkey Trial had been recast as a kangaroo court of gray-flannel Neanderthals posing as absolute authority on who was American or un-American, as if comic book villains had taken over the shop and were peddling this pathetically infantile shit as law.

Peter King's TravestyI was never quite sure how anyone could recall that era and be the least bit proud to be American or a human for that matter. It’s not like this was the 1850s; it was the 1950s. But then you think, hell, no one would ever get away with that crippled logic today; blathering incoherently about hidden radicalization and questioning the loyalties of certain citizens based on hunches. It’s bad fiction, much less decent reality.

So now we have another Republican legislator with another lame reason to drag an entire community, religion, culture, whatever through the muck as a chairman of another bloated government over-reach program that was as useless as tits on the proverbial bull nine years ago when it was dreamed up. The man says, “I have no choice” and that his hearings on the radicalization of Muslims are “absolutely essential” when none of it is remotely true. There is “a choice” and nothing is “essential” except food, water and breathing.

King says; “There are elements in that community that are being radicalized, and I believe that the leaders of that community do not face up to that reality. Too many cases are not cooperative, not willing to speak out and condemn this type of radicalization.”

What the fuck is going on?

Why isn’t whatever is left of the flaccid mainstream press, which is supposed to be wildly liberal, not calling for New York Senator Peter King’s arrest for subverting the constitutional and the civil rights of our citizenry in this most egregiously haphazard way? Why isn’t this new-fangled, next-generation president of ours not stepping in and closing down this ignominious sideshow and call it what it is; a fascist pogrom? And where are all these fancy “Keep government out of our lives” Republicans during this?

Yeah, I thought so.

Because as stated in this space for nearly 14 long years now, the whole thing is fucked. You’re fucked. I’m fucked. The system is completely and utterly fucked. You wonder why we’re a broke, indebted, war torn, backwards, sub-intellectual, fat, distracted, lazy-ass sucker of a nation? When Wall Street marauders pilfer freely with no repercussions and gigantic health care bills are voted on by legislators that still fail to understand its scope and the most interesting thing we can think of is watching a cokehead rant like a twelve year-old on the Today Show over and over and over?

The press might be hypnotized by the dog & pony show, but we know what’s going on here; an assault on civil liberties and a systemic urination on the constitution; pure and simple.

The only “controversy” I’ve read from the press is that King was once a supporter of the Irish Republican Army and a member of the terrorist group, Sinn Fein. But what the hell does that matter? I don’t care if King donates his salary to the Klu Klux Klan. King has nothing to do with this. He can call for all the hearings he wants or demand everyone from every walk of life come clean on anyone they might know who is a “radical”, whatever the hell that is? It’s like this incessant liberal bashing of Sarah Palin, as if she counts for anything. Ignore it and it will go away. That’s my motto. But allowing this xenophobic publicity whore to cobble together a nonsensical circus on our dime is a whole other animal.

Seriously, people, I was going to do my usual “Hey, great, let’s all hear it for Peter King! He’s going after the myopic loons who inhabit organized religion! I propose we begin hearings on fundamentalist Christians and Hasidim and put the Hindus on trial and make Buddhists crawl, and how about the snake charmers, Voodoo priestesses and Wiccan chieftains? We can begin by investigating the tax evading cretins who run these magic shows.” Yeah, I was going to have fun mocking the whole thing in the detached, goofy way I always do, but this, well, this sort of criminal affair turns the stomach like nothing else.

First it was months of moronic debate about allowing an Islamic center to be built in New York City, as if being upset by the location of a religious building held much weight. Then we’re overrun with assholes actually going out in public — many of them elected officials and journalists saying, “We know these people have the right to do it, but hey, have some sentimentality.”

What the motherfuck does sentimentality have to do with rights? While we’re at it; what does morality have to do with civil union rights? Or what does the survival of our social fabric have to do with outlawing plant life?

The press might be hypnotized by the dog & pony show, but we know what’s going on here; an assault on civil liberties and a systemic urination on the constitution; pure and simple.

You know the jack-offs who cry like Glenn Beck every time someone takes a butane to an American flag? Well it’s time they wake up and realize this is the real thing; only instead of just some meaningless cloth smoldering, actual live citizens are being rounded up and asked to answer for the inept, asleep-at-the-wheel federal government, CIA and FBI, all of which dropped the ball and left this country wide open for what went down on 9/11/01, leading to the tax sinkhole that is Homeland Security and its current vapid freak of a chairman.

As much as I hate to admit, I am embarrassed to even write about this, and if you’ve read this space for one week you would know that embarrassing me is not an easy task.

Well, what did you expect from this farce of a government representing the farce we’ve become?

Enjoy the show.


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Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Aquarian Weekly 3/9/11 REALITY CHECK


You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before. -Rahm Emanuel, November, 2008


It is the word of the year. It was the word last year. Everything from the price of wheat and oil and fabric and milk shifts on it. The national debt kills it. Political achievement depends on it. Tax laws hang on it. Whether or not the recession is truly over is incumbent on it. So it’s a fairly important word for 2011. Hell, the unemployment rate has already gained jobs for some and cost others. It’s created new ones and eliminated more than a few. Some are coming back. Some, well, might come back, but who knows?

Fight For Madison $But a job isn’t merely a word that is defined in Webster’s as “to carry out occasional pieces of work for hire” or “to carry out public business for private gain”. It tends to define humans. These humans usually call these “occasional pieces of work for hire” a career. In this country, the home of the mostly free and rarely brave, a good deal of humans hang dreams on them. With age, those dreams shift from Ruler of the Universe to freelance writer, but still carry some psychological weight. Some.

And so jobs may act as a socio-economic-political fulcrum, while also appearing as the sense, purpose and worth of a person. Many times these two crucial aspects of jobs don’t meet. That’s fine. It’s life. It’s tough and disappointing and messy. But one thing that is a constant with jobs is money; how much an entity is willing to pay for it and what its value is to the individual who may be carrying out “business for private gain”; the operative word there being “gain.”

Since the year began, it’s been jobs, jobs, jobs. It hangs over the daily proceedings as threatening storm clouds. It has dominated public discourse and caused all kinds of movements around here. Then we see people running amok in Egypt and Libya and other repressed, broke nations with high unemployment and a crashing currency, and we think, “Heck, that’s what a crippling lack of jobs, jobs, jobs can do to society, huh?”

It’s a sober view of this economic fallout most of the world is enduring, which the United States has duly suffered. Although we love to whine, things aren’t as bad as they could have been or might have been in the autumn of 2008 when the illusionary sphere of finance looked to be held together by lunatics and criminals; the two elements of civilization that will nearly always find a cozy place around money.

The past few weeks in Wisconsin, the “idea” of jobs has clashed to a high level of repute. The governor, a Republican “business” pawn, who has cleverly used his state’s over-bloated budget to crush civil workers’ unions, has literally put “jobs” on trial. By so doing, no matter his motive or masters or general wavering opinion from the Right or Left, he is serving his state’s taxpayers, the majority of which voted him in on this very platform. Governor Scott Walker desperately attempts to tear at the fabric of his political enemies, or simply put a major financial windfall for Democrats, as he outwardly pronounces the noble duty of extracting his state from going California falls under his job title.

Where was my guidance councilor on that one?

It’s a tough job, governor, as is any elected official whose ideology subsequently lands him/her the financial support needed to attain that job. Unions are a huge assistance to Mr. Walker’s ideological opponents and enemies to his sugar daddies. The financial crisis has given him the moment and leverage to pounce. Backlash, furor, protests, and shifting support from the nation can hardly be the issue. He has a job and he is doing it as he sees fit. As stated, it is a tough one.

But I argue it is not nearly as tough as teacher. Holy shit. Anyone going on television or writing about how cushy teachers have it, with their big compensation packages and three months off a year, are sadly misguided. I have spoken to children of all ages, from middle school through high school and colleges, usually as a welcomed guest and not a servant of the state, and I can honestly tell you after one hour of this I need seven belts and fourteen hours of sleep.

Teaching is thankless and horrible and your children are damaged and weird and unruly and frightening and dealing with that gaggle of misfits on a daily basis with wholly unrealistic expectations to produce societal robots for a dying workforce, while stamping out artistic expression and original thought, is an excruciatingly difficult task. Now, whether they unionize and have better benefits than the private sector and who pays for what can be debated, but hell, if I have to teach, I want big money, jack.

Therefore, I offer as a public service, a far better job than governor or teacher: Charlie Sheen. I like that job. And I support his successful run at being Charlie Sheen. Oh, sure he’s a celebrity and I guess an actor, if people still act on television, not to mention champion drug fiend, but mostly he is Charlie Sheen. Quality chemicals, dysfunctional living arrangements, countless network feeds to expound anti-social, radical notions and millions in the bank? Fuck governance and molding the youth, Charlie Sheen is the way to go.

Where was my guidance councilor on that one?

“Mr. Campion, do you have any idea what you’d like to do with your life?”

“Big bank account, high-class hookers, stacked bar, fast cars, and a general lawless existence, please.”

“Oh, you’ll need to have a father whose already successful in the field of entertainment or politics, and then you can get nepotism gigs, party until you drop, and even become president.”

“Sign me up.”

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Government Shutdown 2011

Aquarian Weekly 2/23/11 REALITY CHECK

WHILE YOU’RE AWAY Tips For A Pending Federal Government Shutdown

The shit is coming down. – Georgetown at Shelly’s Back Room, Washington D.C. – November 7, 1995

It is nostalgia time in The District this week as the Reality Check News & Information Desk unveils “alternative” plans (schemes) to successfully piggyback a 2011 federal government shutdown confirmed by our sources, several of them tanked on numerous and varied cocktails and thus kind (stupid) enough to reveal to a pack of beer-addled reporters late Friday. This is what happens when we take this operation on the road — and not for a whisk down memory lane, as was the case this past December when I was ushered into town by my brothers-in-law for a long weekend of measured debauchery. John BoehnerThis time we planted our ears to the ground, displaying a fairly (shockingly) sober attitude. This was bad news for the loose lipped and good fortune for those with the whirring digital recorders at the ready to flip it into journalism.

Word is now that a complete federal government shutdown is more than a threat. It is imminent, and with a far more stinging result than in ’95 when the above infamous quote from a long-lost friend and colleague was correctly predicted. Apparently a Democrat in the White House and a Republican turnover in congress results in a system seizure. The last Republican revolution rapidly turned things into the New Gingrich/Bill Clinton follies, but nowadays we’re deep into a damaged economy, a bottomless war culture, a fractured Republican base, and an aggressively liberal president wounded by what has turned into his legislative Iran/Contra over-reach in the unconstitutionally mandated federal health care laws.

Place this beside the growing national backlash over a corporate lackey governor of Wisconsin trying to crush the over-compensated bloat of the state worker union’s collective bargaining powers, and it neatly puts the “hard-choices” mantra of the new year into light.

The same jack-asses who were waving Don’t Tread On Me flags to slash the power and scope of the federal government have broken them out to keep the state entitlements coming. As predictable an occurrence as possible has put many on the Left in a feisty mood, something beaten out of them by a round pummeling last November, The same week the hardcore TEA Party types on Capitol Hill were able to shed dismal light on the speaker of the house, who was caught ceremoniously dumping his “cut the budget at all costs” rhetoric to back a needless Pentagon expense because it benefited his hometown coffers. This crap appeared on the heels of his “let them eat cake” moment when he dismissed the hundreds of jobs he aims to eliminate at the federal level with a blithe “So be it”.

Hypocrisy and vengeance, the precious fulcrums of government, are once again in the air, and we the people, as usual, are powerless to stop it.

Hypocrisy and vengeance, the precious fulcrums of government, are once again in the air, and we the people, as usual, are powerless to stop it. But fear not, as our loving parents would say, and whatever queer tomes of vapid self-esteem nonsense motivated them to do so; “When you are handed lemons, whip up some lemonade”. Or as we like to say here; NEVER SURRENDER. Isn’t that what this damnable space has been whining about all these years? Hell yes! And it is with that rugged American spirit of forging ahead that we offer the following survival guide to the looming federal government shutdown.

Firstly, if the federal government enters a forced hiatus, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will go dark. If you cannot extrapolate a stream of good times from this, you’re not paying attention. There’s a recession on and people are in dire need of questionably legal forms of mind-numbing substances and outrageously potent instruments of random violence. This is nirvana for those eager to return to the time of our forefathers, and what better way? We suggest none.

In addition to free reign on unchecked rage fueled by inebriation is the halt in border patrol. This will add to our fun by the unfettered load-in of imported recreational drugs, easing the Mexican cartels’ murder spree. Consider it a holiday, allowing even blood enemies to put hostilities on hold for a chance of share hassle-free windfalls.

Where to exhibit our new-found freedoms from restraint; how about the entirety of our nation’s parks when the National Park Service closes shop? If you think nightly video footage from a frenzied Cairo was entertaining, you wait. While on a roll, we propose there be a run on national monuments and museums — and by run, you know, a safe and responsible run, or as safe and responsible as gun-toting, heavily medicated boozers can muster. Things are so mellow in Arizona these days, they will be happy to welcome a surge of lunacy to the Grand Canyon, as in ’95 when angry tourists were turned away for the first time in 76 years.

Oh, and a federal government break will put a hold on freeloading do-overs, as all bankruptcy cases will be suspended. This will offset the delaying of delinquent child-support cases. Kids eat enough, at least according to the first lady.

Finally, we can all exhale confidently as the war funding will dry up and we can stop the madness for good. Not bad after the Democrats ran on and then reneged to fund the perpetuation of it five years ago. Hey, you may ask; didn’t this asshole decry the Egyptian revolution as anarchy just two short weeks ago and now he’s advocating anarchy here at home? Sure, and the irony is not lost on me. However, since we work on a federalist system, I am sure our wild abandon will be curtailed by local law enforcement officials and other buzz kill organizations. We merely offer a cogent response to the abandonment of our mamma leash to the whims of the political animal we’re asked to tame every two years in our voting booths. If we’re going to take it to the streets, we may as well have some laughs.

After all, the shit is coming down.

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Rand Paul: The Tea Party Man

Aquarian Weekly 2/16/11 REALITY CHECK

THE TEA PARTY MAN Rand Paul’s Maverick Battle For The New Right

Rand Paul is a dangerous man. The thing is it’s difficult to tell whether the Freshman Senator from Kentucky is more dangerous to the Left or the Right. Inarguably, he is dangerous to The System, for if nothing else he isn’t screwing around. He means to slash and dash the federal government by tying its purse strings and thus shrink it way past anything Ronald Reagan ever dreamed. The Gipper, like all poser fiscal conservatives, especially the newly minted Republican legislators, had not seen anything like Rand Paul. Certainly those who disingenuously rode the wave of the Tea Party angst won’t be able to stand idly by and allow this man to begin chipping away at policy with a zealot vehemence that would make Newt Gingrich look like a welfare freak. And although Democrats may casually dismiss him as a libertarian nut, they will also have public relations issues with a coyote sniffing around their usually manageable hen house.

Rand PaulApparently Rand Paul wasn’t merely piggybacking the anti-government groundswell of 2010. He was damned serious. And now that 2011 begins with him on the inside, he’s going to stand on principle, at least for the time being. This is nothing Republicans want to hear, fearing another 1995 disaster when a landslide of GOP support went sideways fast. Soon Big Bill Clinton was being sworn in again. Running through the halls of congress with an economic battle axe runs counterpoint to what the Republicans have in mind; take a lot of useless congressional votes, blame the Democratic-controlled Senate for their failures, and subsequently get rid of Barack Obama so they can go back to running up the debt on some other asinine war or massive Medicare handout.

On the heels of his newly formed $500 billion budget-gutting bill proposal that the Wall Street Journal calls “modest” and the New York Times deemed “ludicrous”, Paul has gone through the cable news circuit heralding his unflinching agenda. Apparently willing to put his immutable principles to the test with a vote, Paul has wasted no time carving out his own spot on Capitol Hill

And if he has to, Paul will go it alone.

For instance, on February 3, Paul was the lone dissenter against a bill that would outlaw citizens from aiming laser pointers at aircrafts. This is akin to an innocuous “no torturing puppies” piece of legislation. But Paul was opposed, agreeing it a sound safety issue but also pointing out that many states already have such laws on the books and should decide for themselves on the length and breadth of the “regulation”. This of course parallels Paul’s intellectual argument against certain aspects of the 1964 Civil Rights bill that became something of a public embarrassment for him during his campaign. After the obligatory backlash, Paul eased up on his original disagreement that any private enterprise be forced to comply with federal laws to serve patrons it felt unfit for service, namely African Americans.

Although months ago we dissected the issue as a goofy professorial discussion on States vs. Federal rights and not blatant racism, there seemed to be a disconnect with Paul’s ability to distinguish between core philosophy and plain governance.

To Paul, people seem to muck up the works with their silly needs and messy gray area interpretations. This kind of character tends to scare the hell out of professional politicians, happy to skip around the edges and pay lip service to facts.

You see, Paul is a wonk, a geek, a stat nerd with nary the bombastic personality of a Gingrich or the plastic charm of a Reagan. He comes on as a robot, unwilling to deal in emotional or endearing aspects of issues. It is numbers; deficits, surpluses and how to best control them that moves Rand Paul. To Paul, people seem to muck up the works with their silly needs and messy gray area interpretations. This kind of character tends to scare the hell out of professional politicians, happy to skip around the edges and pay lip service to facts. It is never about where your tax dollars are spent for Rand Paul, only the reasons to spend it. And he sees very little reason to spend it anywhere.

It is this no-nonsense dedication to reducing the power and expanse of the federal government that Paul brings his $500 billion plan to congress. With proposed cuts to the Departments of Agriculture and Transportation removing $42 billion and further reductions to the Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development of approximately $50 billion each, the bill also includes removing education from the federal government’s jurisdiction, allegedly creating an almost $80 billion in cuts.

As predictable as it is that a fiscal conservative would choose to beat on Agriculture, Energy, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, Paul doesn’t stop there, proving his libertarian mettle and that he’ll not renege on reducing government ala Regan and the last Republican president or even the Gingrich Republicans of a generation ago. Paul’s bill takes aim at the usual Republican spend-thrift strongholds like international aid, Homeland Security and the Defense Department.

In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal this week, Paul emphatically stated his desire to cut “wasteful spending” at the Pentagon. “Since 2001, our annual defense budget has increased nearly 120%” writes Paul. “Even subtracting the costs of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, spending is up 67%. These levels of spending are unjustifiable and unsustainable.”

Balls. That’s what it takes to go where Paul is going, where no one elected to congress as a member of either party has gone in our lifetimes.

But even Rand Paul’s balls have their limits. His proposed $500 billion in cuts, which he stoically calls “just getting started”, would keep 85 percent of the federal government churning out the entitlements; namely Social Security or Medicare.

Not even a true maverick like Paul would dare touch the untouchable, but Rome was not taken down in a day.

It is unlikely Rand Paul will get any of this past the committee stage; much less a vote in the House or the Senate, but it will be worth watching. His stand will be also worth discussing in the coming year as the initial grass roots tremors against government spending and tax issues fade into what is sure to be the expected “Patience is a Virtue” pitch the Republican-controlled House will hide behind. It appears as if Paul will stand virtually alone against the raising of the debt ceiling, which is approaching rapidly.

That’s when we’ll find out where Paul’s enemies reside; Left or Right.

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Egyptian Experiment In Anarchy

Aquarian Weekly 2/9/11 REALITY CHECK

CAIRO: EGYPTIAN EXPERIMENT IN ANARCHY Human Rights, Crude Oil & The Jeffersonian Con

When I first began penning this column in the late-1990s’ there seemed to be a spate American anarchist movements. A few whose thoughts were given voice and then viciously impugned in this space are the American Revolutionary Vanguard (last heard from in 2005), North American Anarchist Movement (last seen in 2002), and the Independent Institute (petered out in 2000). And those were just three that had an Internet presence. Oh, there were more, trust me. And I heard from many. Then the Patriot Act kicked in and the fun was over. Anarchy was out. Or at least stamped out by Big Brother. Just as well, it was an insipidly impractical solution for whatever ails, coming from the far Left or the far Right. No one likes to keep 24-hour vigil at the homestead to keep it from being looted or burned to the ground. Oh, and running water and ample electricity are commodities too precious to dump on account of political fervor.

Egyptian ProtestorsLast summer when the Tea Party enthusiasts started to contact us, we made our way to several events; even spoke at one, with much of the same detached irony that borders on contempt displayed here weekly. Not sure what they expected, but it’s what they got. In spades. Hey, you ask a wise ass to your silly gathering, you get one — a beggar’s version of Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes with less moaning and more booing.

But belly-up anarchist movements and our exploits in addressing pseudo revolutionaries are a mere detour to a more sober discussion on what is going on in Cairo, Egypt right now, which is a bonafide uprising and mere hours (at the time of this writing) from hard core anarchy. As American-made tear gas reigns down on what is coming up on two weeks of street mayhem, there is a certain by-the-hour sense of news shifting like desert sand in a storm. No one has a fucking scintilla of an idea where it will blow next and everyone’s fortunes are at stake. This makes for news. And in a world filled with crap that passes for fact and dung filling in the commentary spaces, this is the real deal.

It is a far more serious, less intellectual and even less-so emotional glimpse into pure desperation going on in Egypt right now. It is dissimilar to what went down in Iran two years ago, mainly because it is wholly economic and not in the least anti-theocratic. That botched mutiny was mostly youth-related. Like many of the failed communal counter-culture blips of the 1960s, it tanked. This will happen when enthusiasm over tyrannical religious rule is your only fuel. Money is a different animal. State-strangling corruption leads to economic strife, which then leads to a failure to feed the kids and keep the heat on. This is what we have unfolding on our television sets.

Egypt’s “democratic” state, supported with a stream of U.S. funds only out-matched by Israel, has hit the wall. It is democratic in name only and fails to even resemble our half-baked republic. Truth be told, and now it is being told, Egypt is more or less a crude-oil based dictatorship masquerading as a democracy to bolster the West’s energy’s concerns and act as a buttress against another 1967 all-out war with Israel. This charade has gone on for thirty years under the rule of a reality-compromised “president”, who has enjoyed American funds, weapons and protection for keeping the oilrigs flowing after Anwar Sadat was gunned down in 1981. This gained him unwavering support over the course of now five American presidents and was especially significant in the wake of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, when another U.S. pawn dictator was sent packing.

One of our few staunchly Arab-run allies is on the brink of total ruin. And go figure; after we’ve spent a decade jamming our big nose into Middle East business with goofy eighth-grade level pipe dreams of democracy and McDonalds for all.

In the course of this all-out revolt, our man has morphed seamlessly from stern leader to soothing orator to conciliatory speechmaker to placating sad sack. This was all starkly illustrated as he casually announced he wouldn’t run for re-election as the capitol of his country was being burned to the ground. A more delusional response is hard to conjure.

But the hallucinations of Hosni Mubarak are hardly at issue here. The main crux of the matter in Cairo is how the United States, Saudi Arabia, OPEC and Israel will deal with the fallout. And there will soon be fallout, because as the country stands on the brink of military lockdown, there will only be anarchy left. And within it, there comes a vacuum. And that vacuum breeds uncertainty. And if there is one place uncertainty cannot be allowed to endure for the oil industry or its bitch, America, it is Egypt. Of course the Saudis have been whistling past the graveyard for some time, but let’s face it, kids; if Saudi Arabia goes its electric cars and solar panels for everyone.

Seeing Egypt in flames has taken the heart out of our secretary of state. Hillary Clinton has changed her stance on this nightmare so many times there isn’t any point to it anymore. The United States, if the White House is any indication, has only one play here — appear as if we’re for freedom and the people and then get some new puppet asshole in there to patch up the works. We’re too close to closing shop in Iraq and winding down festivities in Afghanistan. The northeast is under mountains of snow and the airline and auto industries are on life support. This is no time for Egypt to descend into craziness.

One of our few staunchly Arab-run allies is on the brink of total ruin. And go figure; after we’ve spent a decade jamming our big nose into Middle East business with goofy eighth-grade level pipe dreams of democracy and McDonalds for all.

This is why as we go to press it is becoming obvious that whatever lip service Mubarak paid to his citizens, the hammer of violence would soon be succeeding it. Suddenly, after over a week of riots, looting and unlawful lunacy, with parked tanks as spectators, the pro-Mubarak vigilantes begin flailing machetes and heaving Malakoff cocktails into crowds of protestors. Of course, this makes things tough on his sponsor, the U.S. of A. We like our bankrolling of the rough stuff a little less public. First journalists get the beat down and then the cameras are turned off.

Call it revolution if you must, although a true revolution comes with some kind of leadership direction or manifesto or declaration of rights and basic post-fighting structural overview. Call it a conspiracy of the Muslim Brotherhood, although it is less likely than the laughable “9/11 was an inside job” paranoia. Or call it what it really is; anarchy.

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The Joe Cool Comeback Rally

Aquarian Weekly 2/2/11 REALITY CHECK

THE JOE COOL COMEBACK RALLY Inside Barack Obama’s State of the Union Call to Charm

We are poised for progress. -President Barack Obama 1/27/11

Listening to people who recently expanded the nation’s deficit by extending an unfunded tax law speak of deficits as the death of the human spirit and then applaud this nonsense giddily may be an abysmal way to spend a Tuesday night, but around here it’s go time. Around here, State of the Union addresses are required viewing, which is why it is far easier to stomach coming from someone of northern articulation than that of the smooth drawl of gooberism. Barack ObamaAlthough the illusions that somehow a post-Boomer progressive might throw off a few “legalize drugs” or “support gay marriage” promises or bag the useless bloat of Homeland Security and give up the ridiculous practice of Middle Eastern nation building have long been shattered, there remained a few interesting turns.

Shedding the non-interesting tones; that of the overtly Reaganesqe “Shining City on the Hill” Pollyanna – opportunity and creativity – or the JFK sing-song – sacrifice and co-operation, “America is not just a place on a map but a light to the world” – nestled boldly between the call to strengthen the nation’s standing in the global economy by not being “out-innovated, out-educated and out-built” lent an air of populism to the taken-to-the-woodshed lectern milieu.

Noting the more upbeat and even humorous if not glad-handing aspects of the interminably long address, the president of the United States took the opportunistic component of a State of the Union stage to reclaim his elected position as head honcho. Mere weeks after losing the House in a landslide, Barack Obama has found traction. First in his signing of the Bush Tax Cuts extension at the eleventh hour and then his rousing speech at the Tucson memorial services, both of which jacked his approval numbers to their highest in over a year, the president came across as cautiously confident.

The content, a laundry list of forward-thinking optimism – energy renewal, business ingenuity, workforce resourcefulness, private sector innovation and the always-gangbusting education – helped to ease down the medicine portion. Its most prescient moments replete with nods to a new generation of cyber jobs and international trade that likely scared the living shit out of the nearly ten percent of the country’s unemployed.

Again, none of this plowed any new field, with a few notable exceptions.

It is clear that the Democrats defeat in November has pushed the president further to the center with a sense that whatever had come in the previous two years would not do so with apology or reflection. Nowhere did Obama philosophically recall “mistakes” and postured “learned moments” that Bill Clinton offered in the wake of the Contract with America in early 1995. In fact, the president remained defiant against any talk of repealing his beloved Health Care Law, which was an easy victory lap considering the flaccid House-vote charade that preceded it. Nonetheless, there was conciliatory lip service paid to discretionary spending freezes and tough military jargon, and the key note to the recent campaign outrages; broader tax relief efforts for small business.

When the commander-in-chief says, “In South Korea, teachers are known as nation builders” it’s time for more crazy from Michele Bachmann.

An odd omission from the over one hour address was not even a puff of smoke blown towards gun control, specifically in the wake of the semi-automatic shooting of a congressperson on a street corner in broad daylight. And let’s face it; the Tucson/Gun Control connection is to liberalism what 9/11 was to neo-cons. It is the proverbial slam-dunk. Yet, not a peep. Its absence was as inauspicious as it was resounding.

And since the State of the Union is never a one-way affair, the Republican response by Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan may have been predictably terse as it was filled with doom and gloom, but paled in comparison to the creepy garbling coming from Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Much of the public-access-like production mocked verily in the press the following day was never the issue, but the mere fact that Bachman saw fit to speak at all on the part of a non-existent political entity, the apocryphal Tea Party, over and in some cases above the usually lone Republican rebuttal.

Bachmann is beginning to gain a fan base here. After nearly two hours of intellectual and ideological speechifying, a little crazy is applauded. She is a nut, but a nut with true grit. And there is always a place for crazy when we’re pushing midnight.

Still, this time around the State of the Union held a higher political order. This has been a rough twelve months for the president. But in defeat, he has registered a certified victory, an almost elegant backslap, unfurling a humbled exterior that was absent in his first two years in office. The Republicans are to thank for that. And when they abandon their principles to raise the debt ceiling in the months ahead, as the Democrats did in 2007 by funding a war they ran to halt, the chief officer of the republic will look ever more presidential.

Because somewhere along the line, the State of the Union address has become a television affair, this tribal media junket to retool agendas and sell weird theologies, just as party conventions have become hoorah showpieces to posture and pander. A call to arms, as much as this one pained to achieve, it was not. Not unlike the speaker of the House of Representatives posing as a marauder at the barricades on CNN the following evening to discuss the “broken congress”, when he has been a key member for sixteen years.

It is an act. Tired and pathetic, but nonetheless an act, which incidentally, painting education and career choices as a patriotic duty is as moronically passé as comparing Soviet space dominance to expanding broadband to the outskirts of Iowa.

When the commander-in-chief says, “In South Korea, teachers are known as nation builders” it’s time for more crazy from Michele Bachmann.

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Echoes of Tucson

Aquarian Weekly 1/19/11 REALITY CHECK


The “what should be” never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no “what should be”, there is only what is. -Lenny Bruce

The Great American Experiment plods along, wounded again as it has and always will be by those whose sense of freedom goes beyond rational boundaries — beyond rhetoric or artistic expression or dissent — into the well-worn satchel of destruction. Our list of carnage is long and painful and following each is a backlash of panicked reasoning when in reality, as stated here over the past years, whether Gabrielle GiffordsColumbine or Oklahoma City or 9/11 or Virginia Tech or Fort Hood, it is merely a burp in the system. Now it’s Tucson. And despite the obvious fact we have another lunatic with a cache of weaponry firing indiscriminately at strangers in a crowd, there is a rush to find societal fault, bad wiring in the machinery, motivations and inspirations in politics, media, art forms. Hardly. It is once again the terrible price paid for a free society, one that we all ultimately choose to live within. Although precarious and predatory, it is theoretically free, and with it comes dangers. Many dangers

The only issue, as with the above incidents mentioned and the hundreds more before them, is the continued bad policy of assuaging grief by attempting to sanitize the results of what a free society may engender; greed, bigotry, irrational hatred, unchecked vanity cultural and economic envy, and my favorite, stupidity. All part of the human psyche allowed to roam relatively free within the parameters arbitrarily erected by elected officials, who most times create unjust laws or make the repeated mistake to place singular blame of human frailty on a word, a drug, a gun, a song, a cultural movement, a political statement or a religious belief.

Jared Loughner no more killed those people because of a toxic political environment or pseudo-macho imagery from the Sarah Palin web site than those who tried to build a Muslim Cultural Center in lower Manhattan was a direct offshoot or commentary on the horrors of 9/11. This is the way some people see it, or for the purposes of their belief system, may want it, but the reality of which does not exist. It only does so in their heads; the contents of which should never cause a restructure of our basic freedoms; to express individual thought, creativity, sexuality, personal faith, sensibilities, etc.

Long before there was a Reality Check New & Information Desk, the results of which are more or less unfurled here weekly, there has been the constant battle to understand why it becomes so easy for humans to deny the realities of their baser instincts in the veiled attempt to fashion in its place a more palatable fantasy. It is as if there is a rush to accept this universal illusion perpetuated to better ignore Lenny Bruce’s “what is” with a juvenile grab bag of “what should be”.

Forget about rolling the subject all the way back to the first book of the Bible, in which the authors dealt with the fundamental fear in humanity to endure the unfathomable irrationality of nature; the slithering snake in the perfect garden, the eternal sense of security shattered by the primal heart of darkness, and all that crap. Let’s merely delve into the past week, where predating the tragedy in Tucson, three particularly interesting incidents of “what should be” spat defiantly in the eye of “what is”.

Jared Loughner no more killed those people because of a toxic political environment or pseudo-macho imagery from the Sarah Palin web site than those who tried to build a Muslim Cultural Center in lower Manhattan was a direct offshoot or commentary on the horrors of 9/11.

Within days of each other there was the incredible story that NewSouth publishers would be releasing a sanitized version of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the rather auspicious reading aloud of the U.S. Constitution by the newly minted congress, and the insane faux celebrity of a homeless drunkard as some queer form of societal reclamation.

Firstly, NewSouth would literally be rewriting arguably the American literary masterpiece by this nation’s most original and rightfully lauded author. For whatever “what should be” reasons that would either send Mr. Clemens’ ghost writhing in abject rage or rolling about in unfettered laughter, it was apparently more important to cleanse the scarred era of slavery from the American psyche and ignore a pejorative invective to supplicate modern sensibilities.

It is bullshit, plain and simple. Beyond the gall one would have to dare manipulate the manuscript of a master so frivolously is enough of a resounding argument against this atrocity, but to easily overlook Twain’s brilliant satire on the casual dehumanization of a race long before the Emancipation Proclamation could be realized is tantamount to hallucination. There were actual news stories on how many times the offending word was used in the book as if this were some kind of litmus to its existence. A more damaging constraint on intellectual artillery against the evils of society is hard to imagine.

On the same day this idiocy was revealed, the 112th congress thought it cute to underline its objective in holding its governing standards on the priority of the Constitution by having its members each read aloud a portion of it, but thought it prudent to gloss over the flawed tenets on which this nation was founded; as in accepting certain humans as a fraction of their existence. It was also decided that the “what is” of women being denied the right to vote and the outlawing of liquor be expunged from the record, as if these never happened.

A day or so within these two pathetic attempts at trying to deny reality with heavy doses of “what should be”, a poor soul was filmed by a local television station in Ohio and splashed all over the Internet. The ensuing blitz of compassion cum media frenzy had the quite suddenly famous golden-voiced Ted Williams, sporting a rap sheet a mile long and a parade of children apparently unwilling to shelter, spiraling into the kind of oblivion that put him back in the place he had already ended up. Williams is the poster boy for “what should be”, given a host of voice-over gigs within hours of his appearance on the Today Show, and the obligatory skeletons beginning to paint the actual story of half-mad indigent whose cuddly exterior hardly fit with the grim reality of his crime-riddled drug addicted past.

And so a few days later, we had Jared Loughner firing weapons into a crowd at a political event and the chimes of backlash began to ring in the direction of the harsh rhetoric of a recent Right Wing political movement, sometimes stupidly referred to as “a revolution” and painted with the broad brush of fist-pumping, gun-toting oratory. Ironically, much of the same people who were quick to target one ideology as a direct result of irreparable damage were then accused of inspiring another. So, maybe it is fitting they were forced to answer for it, but it doesn’t make it “what is”, only a flimsy helping of the bitter end of “what should be”.

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