Inpendence Rules – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 2/27/08 REALITY CHECK

THE CHEESEHEAD VICTORY LAPObama & McCain In Driver’s Seat

I have a dream of a new American language. – Dan Bern

Mere seconds after the Associated Press had called the Wisconsin primary for Barack Obama, a surprisingly early projection, nestled as it was within a lead paragraph describing his once unbeatable opponent’s campaign as “fading”, the young senator stood at center stage grinning from ear to ear. He waved his outstretched arms aloft in the vain attempt to silence 20,000 screaming revelers, who had crammed into a Houston arena for what was described on the program as a rally, but had long mutated into something more. The eruption of sound signified a sudden awareness that this was now the opening stride to a symbolic victory lap.

Obama In HoustonBy this time every cable news network had cut from what was the latest in an agonizing series of plodding stump speeches by Hillary Clinton, during which the beaten candidate had refused for a month of primary and caucus whippings, ten consecutive in all, to congratulate its winner. A week removed from first place and looking more like the boondoggled heroine of a Rod Sterling script, Madam Shoo-In was being unceremoniously bumped from primetime to make way for the speeding bullet from Illinois, the closest politics has come to producing a phenomenon in any a lifetime.

A black man, cheered as a conquering hero, a few giant leaps closer to becoming the president of the United States, in a city named for a slave owner who traded Native Americans like cattle and pilfered land from Mexico.

The sound of his voice booming from the television filled my outer room as I sat furiously banging on this keyboard, trying like hell to come to grips with the very real feeling that this might actually happen; that the system will be yanked from its moorings and sent packing with yesteryear’s hokum — the cynicism still beating strong in my heart, but the chills bolting up through my spine and into the weary frontal lobe.

What the hell is happening here?

I was moved to write that Wisconsin, a blue-collar state bloated with old-world Democrats, entrenched Reagonites, and far less than ten percent of its populace comprised of African Americans, had finally put the dirt on the Clinton Campaign.

But I did not. Not yet. Not now.

Why?

The numbers supported it. Obama had claimed a stake in every possible voting block, taking what the pundits described for days as a “no-excuse” prize; meaning it was not one handed on a platter of race, youth, independents and a GOP mass exodus that spinners at the rival campaign could downplay as just another fluke.

A black man, cheered as a conquering hero, a few giant leaps closer to becoming the president of the United States, in a city named for a slave owner who traded Native Americans like cattle and pilfered land from Mexico.

Ah, but if you spend enough hours hanging around the subject of big-time politics, and are forced to unfurl random thoughts under a byline, you had best be prepared to dismiss the looming danger of “real feelings”. That’s when instinct kicks in, what I call “the reporter’s wince”; you’re left calmly conjuring too many false alarms, too many bad prognostications, and far too many failed stabs at giddy prophecy.

Step back and exhale, remember that the blood and guts of the Arkansas Mafia is thick with dark history and the skeletons in the Democratic Party will rattle when you least expect it. Gary Hart, Bill Bradley, Hubert Humphrey, Ralph Nader were all its blindside victims.

But then I was moved to turn away from this infernal word-machine and glance over at the tube to see that, incredibly, the man kept smiling and the crowd kept cheering.

What the hell is happening?

Wait, I told myself, inching closer to midnight on what had clearly morphed into Victory Lap Tuesday; this was no time to deal in absolutes.

Not now. Not yet.

At least not on the Democratic side.

The Republicans have come to different conclusions. Whatever Mike Huckabee is doing, it has little to do with 2008 or presidential politics. He is working emptier rooms in the hopes of making a case for speech time at the convention, a place on the ticket, or bigger checks on the lecture circuit. For weeks now this has been about John McCain, even if until this past Tuesday he was reticent to say it out loud.

All of that changed after his own convincing Wisconsin triumph, where the embattled Arizona senator pulled an even 45-45 percentage tie in conservative voters, a pertinent factoid for a Right Wing punching bag in a critical fall swing state.

It was enough motivation for him to launch into the first of what will be hundreds of national election speeches aimed at identifying himself as the protector/anti-tax warrior/experienced candidate in the face of a mind-numbing socio-political sprint the likes of which has not been hinted at in the checkered history of this great nation.

It was a rusty presentation, appearing to be more a test-model for the big time than any tangible platform, but it was nonetheless a fair glimpse into the difficult task before the Republicans this summer; make people ignore the sweeping radiance of Master Barack and a groundswell of two-to-one voting for Democrats. He will most certainly need to do better than piss-raining on everyone’s Hope Parade by couching this momentum-charged press frenzy as “an eloquent, but empty call for change.”

This has been a losing strategy for what is left of the Billary Charge, which was on display two nights later in the Austin debates. More of the same “solutions” and “readiness” mantras garnished with a smatter of insults and accusations, couched in last-minute semi-passionate and “human moments”. Pulled in all directions, her camp in fighting on whether to mud-wrestle or take the highest road to a political future beyond this speed bump campaign, she was uneven in one of the last televised chances to stop the steam train, and drew no real blood.

Some of my colleagues went as far as calling it a conciliatory performance, her final sentiments a valedictorian moment.

But perhaps the smarter of the Clintons has seen the writing on the wall, much of it on the front page of the NY Times, which in a desperate grapple to stop the rapid decline of subscriptions has turned into the London Mirror by plastering salacious innuendo about the Republican frontrunner and a sexy lobbyist running wild in 2000 on its historic front page. This caused every last one of his Republican “enemies” to reunite against the evil liberal monolith, just as they will against the other one; CLINTON.

What the hell is going on here?

Hillary knows.

And this is why the man keeps smiling.

 

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Inpendence Rules – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 2/20/08 REALITY CHECK

INDEPENDENCE RULES

Injustice in the end produces independence. – Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire

At the risk of beating the dearly departed equine, we submit for the public record one last time — with the caveat that it is not only worth repeating, but will be the deciding factor in what is shaping up as a seminal moment in American presidential history — Independence rules.

Obama RallyAfter weeks of following the voting trends in the Democratic and Republican primaries/caucuses, The Desk’s dedicated moles have returned time and again to this key element: Despite exit polling of stark contrasts in conservative vs. moderate vs. Evangelical voting blocks on the Right and women, black/Latino, and an economic range voting block on the Left, nothing has crossed the divide of this polarized nation than the quickly emerging, highly influential, and increasingly mighty Independent vote.

For almost two months now Independents have wreaked havoc on the nomination process, causing the kind of bizarre results that have rocked the very foundation of party power brokers and sent talk radio into paroxysms of fear. And these fears, such as they are, can now be considered well founded, or as Dick Nixon used to say, “It ain’t paranoia if they’re after you.”

To wit: On Christmas Eve a discussion group of politicos set strong betting odds on the frontrunners for both parties: They were solidly, as they had been all summer, Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Rodham Clinton; powerful national figures with name recognition and celebrity appeal — heretofore critical prerequisites for chief executive. The most likely runner’s-up, or the candidates that could cause the most trouble for both, were John Edwards and Mitt Romney; middle-aged, white, populace mongers — also key skill sets for centuries of presidential timber. The idea that Barack Obama (youthful, unknown black junior senator) and John McCain (much older, hanger-on, Washington maverick) would be the presumptive nominees of their respective parties by mid-February was not only laughable it was patently insane.

So how did we get here?

The easy breakdown is that on the Democratic wing, Madam Shoo-in has been an interesting cocktail of grating and arrogant, her husband has suddenly become stump poison, and she is now bouncing her head against an already low ceiling of likeability while battling overall abhorrence within the party. On the Republican side, the defense of McCain’s ascent from completely bankrupt/yesterday’s news to “most electable” can be laid on the stupidity of Giuliani to ignore six state elections before competing, Fred Thompson’s flaccid attempt at campaigning, and the general assumption Romney cannot help but lie about everything under the sun.

There is also the ethereally lazy assumption that somehow Obama has tapped into some kind of spiritual meteor while McCain has warmed our hearts.

The worst kept political secret is out: Independents are deciding the candidates for the 2008 presidential election, and pretty soon they will decide the national contest; and the quicker the press, the party big guns, and perhaps the Clinton Campaign digests this, the sooner they can get on with the business of dismantling it.

However, for the record, I now submit an eye-opening Gallup poll published in the 6/13 publication of this column entitled, “Independence ’08”, which canvassed registered voters across the fruited plains, the results of which looked like this: Republicans, 27 percent; Democrats, 34 percent; Independents, 38 percent. And although everyone but desperate news organizations have roundly discredited the very concept of polls, this baby has come home to roost — big time.

The two-party system, which has halved the ideological soul of this nation for over a decade, has now reached its breaking point. The special interest fobs and extremist twits who have monopolized the national discourse for decades are being swept under by a tidal wave of independent voting. Republicans and Democrats are crossing lines. Fiscal conservatives fed up with social fascists, liberal lions pissed at whining granola heads, war hawks and peaceniks, activists and casual observers are jumping around like never before.

This is why Chris Matthews and Wolf Blitzer and the entire FOX NEWS goon squad appear as if they’ve never covered an election before. All of their stale propaganda and has-been punditry is being trampled with every passing vote.

Where is the Union vote?

Where are the anti-gay voices?

Where is the gun lobby?

Where is the entitlement threat?

Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone.

The pollsters are inert. They no longer know what queries to pose. The columnists are dumbfounded, clawing for trends and trying to appeal to anything that still resembles a one-dimensional audience. Robert Novak has been relegated to trying his hand at Hip Hop poetry and Lanny Davis has started a Jane Austin book club. Entrenched government dealmakers have no idea where to turn to kiss ass, grease wheels or, heaven for fend, endorse. Congress is so confused its wasting hours on Capital Hill wondering if Roger Clemens doped up or the Patriots videotaped their way to Super Bowl titles.

God help the insiders who suddenly find themselves outside. Washington is normally a vapid tunnel of innuendo and gross misconduct, but when this primary season is over it will look like something chaired by Tina Turner in a wacky eighties jumpsuit crying, “Two man enter, one man leave!”

The worst kept political secret is out: Independents are deciding the candidates for the 2008 presidential election, and pretty soon they will decide the national contest; and the quicker the press, the party big guns, and perhaps the Clinton Campaign digests this, the sooner they can get on with the business of dismantling it.

And don’t worry, fans, you know that’s coming.

There is only one way for the Billary Brigade to save their inevitable conquest; and its not to demean their opponent as a cheap Jesse Jackson forgery or sack half their campaign staff, or send Big Bill to the nearest glory hole to shut him up, it is to rally the old-guard base. Failing that, she can start wooing Independents, but that’s too cheap a ploy even for a Clinton.

And as sad as it might seem to these faux conservative barkers that have seen fit to usher this nomination over to McCain with their tired blustery nonsense and name-calling, they too need to begin pandering to the party lifers or get off the tracks, for as the political sage Voodoo Madam Sissy Meechum once said, “The train be comin'”.

 

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McCain Seals Deal – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 2/13/08 REALITY CHECK

GOODBYE SUPER TUESDAY Romney Bails/Madam Shoo-In & Master Barack Draw

Super Delegate CasualityAfter nearly half the country’s states have weighed in on the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, only one party has managed to rubber-stamp a presumptive nominee, John McCain, whose right-wing obstinacy and an abject rejection from the south has all-but gained him a seat on the big ride. Next door, McCain’s purported Secret Weapon, Mike Huckabee, swept through the Bible Belt and mercifully put the booby-prize, lesser-of-three-evils, flip-flop mess of a Romney campaign out of its misery. Meanwhile, the Democrats gear up for delegate deadlock and an ugly late-August convention battle in Denver.

With 2025 delegates needed for nomination, and the current trend of virtual splits in state wins and proportional delegate counts spread evenly, there are simply not enough primaries or caucuses left to allow Democratic voters to decide a candidate. According to party rules, this means Super Delegates or VIP’s — DNC officials, congressional Democrats, party fossils, and a confusing host of grass roots activists — will rumble inside something called the Pepsi Center to anoint what could be the next president of the United States.

Under this unconscionably stupid system, forty percent of the delegate force rests in the beer-spit vagaries of 769 shady, back-scratching fat cats, which could, once and for all, sufficiently expose the corruption, cruelty, and down-right scamming of a two-party system that should have been abolished a century ago.

Time to add a new contestant to the time-honored axiom about things best not seen made: sausages, laws, and now, national party nominees.

The ultimate fates of Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton will inevitably reside in this suspect exercise, much to the soon-to-be chagrin of a record number of voters, both new and old, who have stormed the polls for their candidates.

Most have stormed for Barack Obama, the first legitimate insurgent national party candidate since George McGovern. Backed by gusts of weirdly skewered polls (Zogby not only had him leading in every primary, but also “American Idol” and a perplexing Best Picture pool for the Oscars), showered with plaudits from slobbering press lackey’s (most of these cable news’ guys practically weep whenever a state is called for Hillary Clinton), an African American backlash (to the tune of a whopping 80 percent), and millions of motivated young voters (shattering turn-out records everywhere), Obama rolls on unhampered by party arrogance.

The reasons vary: Obama is new, damned good, but mostly, he ain’t a Clinton; otherwise there was more than a fair chance he’d have been tossed into the scrapheap long before New Hampshire ala Gary Hart or Howard Dean.

You want to make a difference this November on the Democratic side? You best find out the identities of these power-broking fuckers and come with serious cash donations, promises of eased government regulations, or six-figure job offers.

Most important of all, Master Barack currently has more money than any presidential candidate in history, earning $32 million in January alone, most of it coming from the Internet in a staggering grass-roots windfall; a pipeline of funds tripling the dwindling Clinton campaign coffers, which needed a $5 mil loan from its candidate just to make it through Super Tuesday. It was a difficult spin for campaign head, Mark Penn, who told the Washington Post that the once-lauded money maverick, Terry McAuliffe had been dismissed on assignment to Hollywood Boulevard with tambourine and tattered hat in hand.

In the face of all of it, the Clinton Camp claimed victory on Super Tuesday based on lowered expectations and this increasingly redolent idea that she is suddenly the underdog, an act of deceit only exceeded by their candidate’s goofy claim she won a Florida primary that was not contested by any candidate, including her, and didn’t even count.

In quick response, The Obamians pointed to the new infusion of John Edwards’ white-male votes in Georgia, stealing Connecticut, and a sweep of mid-west caucuses, all of it hollow victories in the shadow of the big-state stomping by Clinton in California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, despite Kennedy/Oprah muscle.

The final question for Democrats may be what all this “Change Agent”, New era”, “Yes, we can”, spiritually-uplifting Obama miasma will mean in August when the insiders begin to buckle under the pressure of the Clinton Machine. Over a decade of favors rendered, deals struck, and cushy insider jobs will be on the line in Colorado. How do you think these Super Delegates get so fucking super; Excalibur emerging from a mystic lake?

However, there is always the anti-Clinton wing of this sleaze-bazaar raising up to slap a seal of approval on the new kid just to take down Madam Shoo-In and her nauseating Billary dynasty.

No matter how it’s sliced, a sweeter summer treat for political junkies does not exist. When the bottom feeding is finished, it will make what happened in 2000 at the tip of the Florida peninsula look like your eighth grade civics class.

You want to make a difference this November on the Democratic side? You best find out the identities of these power-broking fuckers and come with serious cash donations, promises of eased government regulations, or six-figure job offers.

Don’t forget to identify your candidate: Senator Rodham’s all-woman, Latino-supported, lower-income, entrenched entitlement lifers, or Master Barack’s youth-movement, black-centric, upper-middle class, highly-educated liberals.

On the other side of the fence, many Republicans, as divided and confused as their opponents, prepare to hold their noses and become belated McCainiacs. Humiliated and drained of millions of his own fortune, Mitt Romney, everyone’s favorite counterfeit conservative, used his long-awaited C-PAC speech to declare himself a suspended dead man in the grand tradition of the 1960 Goldwater or 1976 Reagan bow-outs.

Romney’s hackneyed “You’ll be sorry” campaign eulogy in the holy name of ideological purity was so patently disingenuous it had the editorial department of the Wall Street Journal comparing it to the defiant Nuremburg babbling of Hermann Goering.

It was a bitter end to a solid five months of uninterrupted conservatism for Romney, who would just as soon become a Scientologist/PETA/NRA/Butthole Surfer next time around if it can gain him the White House. But you could hardly blame him. Finding a conservative who can get votes these days is like picking out a heterosexual designer in “Project Runway”.

Fred Thompson and Ron Paul hardly set the political world aflame, Rudy Giuliani’s tough-guy routine garnered only one more delegate than either of my cats, and now Romney, with an arms-length liberal record of pro-gay rights, pro-choice, et al, takes his steel testicles and slumps off into the sunset praying the Democrats obliterate the GOP this fall so he can be its savior four years hence.

Draping himself in rhetorical patriotic compost, the Billion Dollar Loser did his best to play martyr for a war-torn country in need of unity. Apparently not since Franklin Pierce’s doomed Kansas-Nebraska Act hastened the confederacy, has quitting politics been such a noble act of national security.

The only remaining question for McCain and the party is what to do with Huckabee, who has whipped the religious fanatic base into what Doctor Hunter S. Thompson once described as “a Jesus-based rage” and can now hold up the south as a socio-fascist firewall for anyone harboring hopes of winning the White House from the Right.

McCain predominantly carried Democratic states (New York, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts) on Super Tuesday, and will have some work to do to secure the party’s base, which he is sure to confront in the coming weeks — the prospect of which has his staffers in mid-cringe. The last time McCain sucked up to the Right he was seen wearing a tunic at Bob Jones University baptizing the whores of Babylon with a used Strom Thurman staff.

Of course the old man could always tell these righteous has-beens to take a hike and continue to seduce the center/independent vote and pray to his chosen deity the Clintons are left standing come fall.

 

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McCain Seals Deal – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 2/6/08 REALITY CHECK

AND THEN THERE WERE THREE McCain Seals Deal/ Dynamic Duo Cage Match

Future McCainiacSomewhere in the late hours of 1/29, as the GOP’s most feared and disdained candidate was wrapping up the Florida Primary, and ostensibly his party’s nomination for president, George Will, Bill Bennett, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the faux conservative Republican voices in and out of the party came to fully understand, once for all, the jig was up. Nearly eight long years of silently allowing the Bush Cabal to dismantle the myth of the Reagan Revolution in a deluge of nation-building, entitlement-funneling, corporate-toting, religion-pandering, fear-mongering, and spend-thrifting, has left the driver’s seat warm for John McCain.

Limbaugh was a little late last week when he said the Republican Party would be left in ruins if either McCain (maverick moderate) or Mike Huckabee (religious nut) emerged as its nominee. Its ruin had long been painstakingly deconstructed, and in a tragedy worthy of Greek drama, expedited beneath a torrent of his own joyfully vociferous compliance.

Limbaugh, along with every other alleged conservative, as clearly defined by the post-war libertarian Barry Goldwater movement — reduced government by being fiscally responsible, staunchly secular, ardently conservational, and unwaveringly isolationist — had long ago sold principle and ideology down the river to defeat the Evil Big Bill Clinton and seize power.

The same “electable” cow-towing that phonies like Limbaugh and his cronies now decry (“Never mind the bullocks, here’s the best chance to win!”) worked against them in 1992, when Democrats sold their ideological soul to defeat the Reagan 12-year monopoly, motivating Republicans in 2000 to ignore principle and nominate a candidate which eventually prompted conservative poster-boy Pat Buchanan to bolt the party and run against him. Buchanan told me that winter that his beloved party “walked away from their own grass roots, their own people, and their own best ideas and platform.”

Turns out George W. Bush is the same predictable Oil Baron silver-spoon special-interest tote his father was, a man most authentic conservatives painted as a festering wimp and a tax fiend. Yet he had the “best chance to win”, and win he did; twice!

Winning is a powerful amnesia-inducing agent for blustery ideologs.

Take William Jefferson Clinton, who was never about Hope or Change or “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”. He was a winner. And winners are forgiven every questionable legal tactic, ubiquitous peccadillo, and nasty back-door political muscling, just as Captain Shoo-In was given a pass time and again, as he happily approved every pork-barreled, ear-marked bill, while razing and rebuilding the Middle East for billions of American tax dollars a day.

Now John McCain is a pariah?

Please.

Seven letters making up one little word will have these cattle in tow: CLINTON.

However defined, the two-decade Arizona Senator has engineered one of the great political comebacks of this era, worthy of Truman’s eleventh-hour victory over Dewey in ’48 or Nixon rising from the ashes to not only grab the Republican nomination 20 years later, but two consecutive terms as president of the United States.

Less than 30 days ago McCain was a walking punch line roaming the perimeters of the party trumpeting the escalation of an unpopular war and pushing for illegal immigration amnesty. He was too moderate, even too liberal, having twice voted against the Bush tax cuts, pushed for campaign reform, and teamed with prominent Democrats on a variety of causes including (gulp!) copping to Global Warming. He’s spent years dressing down Donald Rumsfeld as a blithering idiot and failed miserably to kiss up to the Religious Right. Most crippling of all, he had no money.

Now he is not only going to represent the Grand Old Party in the fall, but he will win the presidency hands-down.

If…

Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.

As these words hit the streets, Madam Shoo-In’s big Super Tuesday score is on the ropes. Barack Obama’s momentum, fueled by a saccharine Kennedy smooch-fest and more Bill Clinton messiness, could push this thing into the convention. But will it be enough to hold off the parade of hip-pocket Democrats the Clintons have coming to them from years of Oval Office favors?

Even the most casual political observer knows a McCain vs. Clinton national election campaign effectively hands the White House back to the Republicans, as a fractured, rankled and otherwise sleepy electorate, thus far limping to polls and squabbling internally, will be sufficiently geared up by a north-eastern liberal woman senator who happens to go by the name of Clinton.

Another phony Right Wing mouthpiece, Sean Hannity said the other day that he cannot abandon 20 years of defending conservative values just to back the best candidate to win, which is laughable hyperbole, even for him. He, like Limbaugh and rest, already did so in 2000, and he will do it again; as will Novak and Coulter and Will and so on.

Seven letters making up one little word will have these cattle in tow: CLINTON.

Republican voters have backed McCain because they remember the Reagan Myth as just that. Reagan significantly raised taxes every year of his two-terms, including in 1983 to save the evil Social Security, teaming with ultra-liberal Tip O’Neal, a mortal enemy, who had called him “the most ignorant man to ever occupy the White House”. He appointed at best a moderate judge to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor, a move vilified by conservatives everywhere. He also played the world map like a chess game, bankrolling secret, not-so-secret, and flat-out illegal wars everywhere.

The vast majority of Republican voters also know that McCain is their only candidate with a puncher’s chance with independents, cross-over moderates, Latinos, and the high-ceiling anti-Hillary voter block. A McCain national candidacy would complete what many prominent Democrats predicted in the fall of 1992, that the Clintons would sink the party for decades.

Of course, this could be avoided.

If…

John Edwards walks in step with Rudy Giuliani, who endorsed McCain the day of this writing, and send his delegates and union support Obama’s way; creating a political vacuum the Democrats could have owned nearly a month ago leaving Iowa, but inexplicably deflated in New Hampshire.

An Obama national candidacy will never engender the kind of motivational abhorrence a Clinton one will. Many Republicans, fed up with the party, have already shown a willingness to vote for the guy, never mind independents.

Edwards has made no secret that his plan after a crushing Iowa defeat he toiled to avoid for nearly four years was to stay in the race long enough to collect key delegates all the way to the convention, where he would play king maker. As it is, Edwards owns a sizable chunk of the party voice, and his timing to bow out seven days removed from 22 primaries speaks two ways: He will hand his constituency over to Obama, all-but burying a woman he has beat upon for weeks, or silently bow out and let the working class Democratic establishment of the past half century move en masse into the Clinton Camp.

Either way, Edwards is angling for a spot on the national ticket or a place in the winner’s cabinet. The question remains: Who can promise him the most prominent position for his anti-poverty/anti-corporate agenda?

Across the aisle, the only also-ran one-trick pony standing, Mike Huckabee has managed to split the Evangelical vote for a staggering Mitt Romney, ultimately costing the former Massachusetts governor Florida. Huckabee is also angling for a seat on the national ticket; sealing for McCain the religious-fanatic vote and sending Limbaugh’s group into spasms of feral madness.

With Huckabee, a likable, funny, and quality stumper, McCain is a formidable figure; moderate, centered, fatherly, with a consistent message of strength and experience.

Of course, the conservative wing could vote their conscience and back the only true one of their brethren left standing; Ron Paul.

If…

 

 

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The Heart & Soul Of Democrats (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 1/30/08 REALITY CHECK

THE HEART & SOUL OF PARTY POLITICS Part II Democrats At The Crossroads In 2008

There are still high-ranking Democrats, otherwise smart people with yardstick resumes, who manage to remain straight-faced when decrying the 2000 presidential election as some kind of de facto rip-off, whining about capturing the popular vote and Ralph Nader and the always-popular Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, sounding eerily similar to the drunk I encountered in Key West two Thanksgivings ago who repeatedly claimed the 1960 Yankees champions for out-hitting and out-scoring the Pittsburg Pirates over the length of a seven-game World Series they eventually tanked. It was a queerly enticing re-examining of our pastime for the hazy three-am ambiance of depraved hedonism, but hardly a sound template for substantive historical perspective.

L'Nuff Saidosers, like drunks, find comfort in reminiscing. As a species, humans tend to lean on random explanations for consolation, like when you trip on the sidewalk and then inexplicably look back to locate the culprit. But after a while reappraisals end up a cheap substitute for the hard truth, and this is where the Democratic Party finds itself in the winter of 2008, somewhere between the comforts of a tired excuse for “the near-miss” and the cold realities of a failed generation.

Standing at the crossroads of revisionist hard-sell, old-fashioned populism, and disenfranchised symbolism are three wild-card presidential candidates. Less ideologically split than the Republican scrum, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, and Illinois Senator Barak Obama still represent a vexing dilemma to party power brokers and, most importantly, voters, as Democrats attempt to devise a single game plan to cash in on what looks to be this year’s war-addled, recession-stalled, and rancorous American political landscape.

Although displaying a minor separation in distinct number-crunching, impassioned methods, and degrees of wild rhetoric, the three Democratic choices more or less share significant party agendas; social liberalism, mildly anti-war, rabidly anti-Bush, push for equality in tax burdens, empty Health Care reform promises, etc.

What creates the obvious schism between these candidates and ultimately the Democratic Party for the 21st Century is the thorny decision to either look forward or reach backward; The Roosevelt muscle-government redistribution of wealth (Edwards), the post-sixties Baby Boomer faux defiance (Clinton) or a long-shot open-tent movement attempting to blur political lines across the divide (Obama).

Edwards’ once Cassandra-fueled “Two Americas” mantra has gained a creepy resonance now that stock market machinations, a collapsed housing market, and Federal Reserve resuscitations have tumbled us into an economic bloodbath. If money worries had come this past June instead of culminating these past weeks, Edwards might appear less footnote than legitimate contender. But alas, it has not, and in the wake of the Barack/Hillary celebrity tournament, he remains the atavistic symbol of old world test pattern blabber; white, southern, lawyer. Yawn.

Edwards is also the victim of having been on a ticket dumped in 2004, something his primary opponent, Ms. Hillary, does not carry. Although she is the living embodiment of the bloated-government, mid-20th-century, been-there-done-that candidate, Senator Rodham can, and has, taken partial credit for sleeping with the man who was at the helm during the most prosperous peacetime economy in the history of the nation. Of course, the same can be said of Monika Lewinsky, who, according to court records, can also claim foreign policy experience having discussed the late-nineties Serbian conflict with the president between Oval Office fellacio sessions.

That was then; a ghostly dream of post-war nuclear children, hell-bent to dance free and live to consume, and this is now; an emerging generation of info-savvy punks needing to break free of exploited victimhood and self-congratulatory romanticism to reclaim the Democratic Party from the stale molds of antiquity.

Additionally, possessing the last name of Clinton does not hurt those Democrats reminded that it was attached to victory more than once, which is why Madam Shoo-In’s camp has continuously sent a rambling Big Bill onto the campaign trail as the company dog and pony act, using his spastic raping of decorum to drag the once impenetrable façade of Master Barack into a quagmire of schoolyard dozens. Never has an ex-president looked more pathetic as an opponent battering ram, appearing more like one of those vapid celebrity casualties from the Cable TV trash heap than anything approaching credible.

It was Big Bill’s haphazard defense of his wife’s shaky Martin Luther King analogy to curtail the inspired nature of Barack Obama with her wonky “get-things-done” message which sent the party down a road of racist goofiness that will only help to put whatever chum the Republicans cough out into the White House quicker than expected.

Speaking of the GOP, it is more than ironic that in the past week Obama resurrected the name of Ronald Reagan, which is known to cause violent paroxysms in the heart of the old Democratic Party as it explodes teenage-girl glee in what is presently a splintered conservative movement. Obama is both Reaganesque in his innate ability to inspire over instigate, but he also represents the New Left, just as Reagan was the figurehead of the New Right, emerging from his party a steadfast elder statesman, as Obama represents the youth/change and raging minority underscore of a Democratic Party in dire need of a jumpstart.

It is important to remember that Reagan effectively obliterated the Democratic Party while stomping the heart of the counter-culture in a gold-plated Hollywood victory march envied by anyone claiming American politics home. Stealing Southern and Mid-Western Democrats, weakening unions, and putting the Left on notice, the Gipper was a galvanizing Pollyanna engine, taking on the nightmares of Watergate, the subsequent Carter malaise, and a Cold War-Middle East monster under the bed. Reagan provided the damaged American Dream with a grandfatherly face while simultaneously co-opting the initially sincere but ultimately fabricated feel-good Woodstockian hippy glow into his own flag-tripping Kumbaya rally cry.

It turns out of course that Reagan was completely insane, already deranged by creeping brain-disease and surrounded by an angrily-motivated cadre of hardened white-collar thieves looking to fatten the corporate coffers and play petty parlor games with the world map. But Ronnie was already a grizzled veteran of years on the stump, as Big Bill appears now, and by proxy, so does his spouse, screeching like a banshee about “wanting to take the country in my direction”, which looks like the direction we’d headed before for good or ill.

Obama, while being an admitted weak administrator with little to no experience in anything but sporting a bright, fresh-kid countenance, is no weathered-storm. Put-on or not, there is something independent about Obama that could gather the flock at some point, a discovered shiny penny in a pile of soiled loose change. But, then again, so was the man for whom the young senator is unfairly compared to, John Fitzgerald Kennedy; the symbol of a new dawn, but also a terrible reminder of festering political wounds.

But that was then; a ghostly dream of post-war nuclear children, hell-bent to dance free and live to consume, and this is now; an emerging generation of info-savvy punks needing to break free of exploited victimhood and self-congratulatory romanticism to reclaim the Democratic Party from the stale molds of antiquity.

Whether any of this nonsense translates into November victory on a national stage remains unknown, but chances are excuses and whining will soon follow.

 

LAST WEEK: THE HEART & SOUL OF REPUBLICANS

 

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The Heart & Soul Of Republicans (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 1/23/08 REALITY CHECK

THE HEART & SOUL OF PARTY POLITICS Part I Republicans Define Internal Battle For 2008

John McCainDespite dismal approval ratings, second-term numbness, and a celebrity fatigue worthy of the latest Britney Spears meltdown, George W. Bush is still the president of the United States. Love him or hate him, he represents the man holding the prize currently being grappled for daily across the contiguous map. And although most of the Republican candidates have conspicuously kept his name out of the debate, his specter looms large on how each may ultimately gain party favor by rallying every wing, inevitably becoming, well… becoming Captain Shoo-In.

Make no mistake; Bush is president because he was able to represent the pro-corporate, geo-conservative, and religious-right segments of his party, while also managing to hold a place for its dwindling moderates. So far several of the current Republican candidates have only been able to match this template as a group. No individual figure has yet emerged to connect the dots, something that needs to be rectified before the final bell rings in Minneapolis this September.

The alternative is a convention looking oddly similar to the fractured goofiness of the Democratic Party forty years ago, absent doped-up student theatrics and subsequent cop beatings.

Well…?

At the time of this writing, Mitt Romney is now the third Republican presidential candidate to achieve victory over three different contests. Romney best represents the “New Bush”, an establishment frontrunner; primed and garnished as the Grand Old Party’s most serviceable representative of its fiscally conservative/military-industrial-complex platform. His only competitor for this title is Fred Thompson, a retired Tennessee senator cum actor, who has displayed a less than enthusiastic fervor to compete, and as a result, has not. Just the same, Romney has failed to spark passion across several other key Republican agendas, mostly the fairly moderate or culturally obsessed Christian lobbies.

If things continue to be mucked up across the ideological aisle, then closer to home the party’s three or four or five divisions will need to be mended. Failing that, one will emerge as the singular voice and dominate the fall agenda, providing a clear choice for the remaining fifteen percent of the electorate who will not be expected to vote blindly along party lines.

Romney’s fragile balancing act on the “electable” tightrope is mainly due to an affected hedged-bet with social conservatives and war hawks while clumsily managing to consistently distance himself from them. Romney’s Achilles heel is that Arizona senator and one-time loser in this endeavor eight years ago, John McCain, has also adopted this type of Clintonian/Bushesque two-faced boogie. While Romney has been hatched from a queer religious bent with questionable blood-stances on race, gender, and other hot-button political death-knells, McCain has traveled from the other end of the long and winding independent/moderate road, soliciting hard-line conservatives with only modest success.

Former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, joins McCain in this purgatory. In the arena of vague socio-political positions, be it abortion, gun control, or gay rights, or the unenviable tact of backing the party-harangued Bush Immigration Amnesty plan, McCain and Giuliani are a two-sided coin. Giuliani also joins McCain in trumpeting the current administration’s wacky war plans, using a strength-in-defense-stance to corner the all-important “fear” market exploited with Machiavellian brilliance in 2004 by the recently ostracized Karl Rove.

But McCain and Giuliani also share something more damning; the “near-broke, barely-maintaining” image laughably ignored by Romney. With an obscene heap of cash unrivaled by any candidate standing, Romney officials’ plan all along has been to use unlimited funds and party muscle to all-but obliterate their “moderate” competition, as a phenomenal lack of interest will surely jettison Thompson’s Reaganville flop.

Ah, but not to be denied is the very vocal, extremely motivated, and heretofore unshakable foundation of the party’s main 2004 voting block; Evangelical Christian conservatives, represented notably by former Arkansas governor and current Baptist minister, Mike Huckabee. After an upset bid in Iowa, the Huckabee camp has been driving the God-Vote home, unleashing the candidate into Bible-waxing infinitum.

As long as Huckabee hangs around he will continue to hoard the anti-gay, pro-life, Christmas fascists, and if and when he goes, may be a powerful endorsement to whomever is left; a bad sign for Romney, who has spent an inordinate amount of time and money mudslinging Huckabee left, right, and in between.

Finally, there is the variable Alternate National Candidate Status, executed with superb precision by the Bush Cabal in 2000. The once motivated Anti-Clinton Engine set its collective sights on the droning visage of Al Gore, the poster-boy for eight long years of the Same-Old-Crap. This allowed Bush to eradicate the loose-cannon nonsense of an independent-minded McCain campaign with one goal; recapture the White House for the Republicans. Without this safety net — since Republicans are now the ones pitching eight more years of the Same-Old-Crap — the need for someone who can shine in a general election is not yet revealed itself.

Repeat: Not yet.

A few more Clinton surprise victories or another streaking Obama run could change all that. But if things continue to be mucked up across the ideological aisle, then closer to home the party’s three or four or five divisions will need to be mended. Failing that, one will emerge as the singular voice and dominate the fall agenda, providing a clear choice for the remaining fifteen percent of the electorate who will not be expected to vote blindly along party lines.

And as Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush kick themselves for not throwing their tattered derby into the ring, the always-dangerous Mike Bloomberg waits in the wings to fill the vacuum from his Independent perch.

NEXT WEEK: THE HEART & SOUL OF DEMOCRATS

 

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2008 New Hampshire Primary: Same Old Song & Dance

Aquarian Weekly 1/16/08 REALITY CHECK

NEW HAMPSHIRE: SAME OLD SONG & DANCE
Madam Shoo-In Weeps To Upset/Mac Is Back & Rudy Exhales

Momentum Halted. Freight Train Derailed. Revolution stalled.

Madam Shoo-InIt took all of five days for the usual screwballs in New Hampshire to deliver a splash of cold water on the short-lived “change” mantra. Both Republican, Democratic and Independent primary voters ignored the surge out of the Iowa Caucuses and harkened back to bygone days of bore by handing John McCain his second victory in the “Live Free Or Die” state (Straight Talk campaign disaster of 2000) and inexplicably revived yet another damaged Clinton campaign (Big Bill’s “Comeback Kid” in ’92).

Expected was Mike Huckabee sinking to a distant third place finish while Mitt Romney once again outspent his way into also-ran, strangely making Rudy Giuliani the big GOP winner by keeping his bizarre wait-it-out until Super Tuesday strategy alive and well. And John Edwards was once more left to spin fancy on what has now turned into the world’s longest-running political funeral. But nothing could approach the drama of what the Hillary Machine pulled off in the first primary of this 2008 presidential race; drama made possible by an agonizing plethora of bogus polls and lazy journalism.

Not a single poll had Senator Rodham winning in New Hampshire. None. Winning? Nearly two dozen across New England had double-digit leads for Barack Obama by noon of election day. Pundits of every shape put the dirt on her. There was no truth to the rumor these were the same pollsters who erroneously prognosticated a rousing John Kerry victory in the fall of 2004, buttressed by the same dumb-ass yakkers who gave teeth to the gutless 110th congress, but there were alleged reports of face-to-face meetings with high-ranking Clinton officials and major contributors readying to abandon ship by midnight. Several of them chirping on radio and appearing on cable television calling for heads to roll and primaries to skip.

Zogby errors and press gaffs aside, in-house Clinton Camp data concurred. Additionally, every candidate from both parties came into the primary’s penultimate weekend conceding to Obama’s golden fumes, stumbling all over themselves to blather on about being “agents of change”; a nauseating display reminiscent of the spectacularly phony Bush and Gore campaigns grasping at a slice of the populist goof-off rant on being a “real reformer” eight years ago.

Not only was the young, dynamic, completely in control Illinois senator seemingly invincible after his Iowa stomping — drawing huge crowds and gushing plaudits from bottom-feeding media whores — but his chief adversary, once an icy, calculating Teflon queen, was reduced to the butt of jokes, mocking headlines of doom, and the recipient of Fourth Estate taunting the likes of which had not been seen since Richard Nixon stormed from a California stage in 1962 stammering about not having him around to kick anymore.

But a few key elements entered the Democratic race beginning sometime during an ABC News debate the Saturday before the primary when a smarmy Charlie Gibson asked the only legitimate woman candidate in the history of this nation why no one liked her. She responded tersely that it hurt her feelings. Feelings, it turns out, Ms. Hillary had not displayed enough for the electorate. That is until the day before the polls opened when the wife of the one of the most calculated political minds of the Boomer Generation choked up when speaking to a gathering at a Portsmouth coffee shop, ending with a shattered revelation about her candidacy being more “personal than political”.

The Clinton Comeback Part II further illustrates why the Democratic party is still in disarray and why it still has doubts about sending a powerful candidate into the fray, giving he/she a sense of speed, coronation, or the most critical of all, an untouchable aura. Instead it is back to the same old wounded liberal elephants of the hippie age trying to recapture a failed counterculture gamble on the wings of vacant political ogres.

Not surprisingly these two events, later trumped up in a puerile feminist rant by Gloria Steinem in the N.Y. Times and the oafish appearance of two shock-jocks at a Clinton event shouting sexist nonsense, were cited by slack-jawed commentators and even a flummoxed Terry McAuliffe on three different news outlets as the very reason Hillary Rodham Clinton went from road kill to Madam Shoo-In once more.

The Return Of The Woman Vote for Ms. Hillary because she wept like a damsel is as sickeningly condescending a sexist theory as anything postulated by knuckle-dragging brutes like Bill Bennett or Rush Limbaugh. “Hillary rallied because she went ‘touchy-feely'” may be the truth, but it is a sad truth made even sadder by the likely Clintonian exploitation of it.

Of course this is all tired horse dung bulldozed by lazy politicos looking for an angle on why the state would throw a monkey wrench into the only chance the Democrats have to take the White House in November: A central figure representing a movement away from the status quo. The Democrats need a symbol, an immovable force, like the type the Republicans send to the national ticket more times than not — a Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush or another stylized billboard. This is especially important when the figure in question also happens to be either a black man or a woman.

The Clinton Comeback Part II further illustrates why the Democratic party is still in disarray and why it still has doubts about sending a powerful candidate into the fray, giving he/she a sense of speed, coronation, or the most critical of all, an untouchable aura. Instead it is back to the same old wounded liberal elephants of the hippie age trying to recapture a failed counterculture gamble on the wings of vacant political ogres.

Over two hours before NBC called the Democratic Primary for Ms. Hillary, (nearly 45 minutes before any other network, particularly CNN, still scarred from the now infamous botched “Gore Projections”) John McCain, not far removed from his own oblivion, burped through a hackneyed speech — looking once again like the spoiler he’s been for the GOP before. In newsrooms across the fruited plain, there was a sense that the Republicans were toast. They would flounder around like soused has-beens in a Eugene O’Neill play attempting to draw the short straw.

But none of the entrenched sycophants who ramble inside the insomniatic whirlwind of this wonderfully paradoxical mayhem could ever see the writing on the wall. And in New Hampshire on January 8, 2008 only one constant remained: Independents will decide this year’s president.

This is the lesson of Iowa and New Hampshire thus far; not change or cult of personality or comebacks or history or clamor for a new spirit. The Independent vote put Huckabee and Obama in the driver’s seat for five days and yanked them into the trunk on an Indian summer night in New England. Neither candidate performs strongly at their party’s core. They need Independents. Unfortunately for the both of them, especially Obama, McCain carried the Independent day. The strong money here says that the monstrous Obama poll leads, some of them approaching an outlandish 15 points, may have convinced many Independents to try and tip the scales for an embattled McCain, who was in a reported dead-heat (more bogus polls) with the increasingly abhorrent Romney.

Whatever the reason, Barack Obama failed miserably in New Hampshire. What appeared to be a coronation that would hand him huge endorsements and build his momentum through Nevada and South Carolina, is now back to square-one with a revitalized political mastermind sitting on more money than God and a backbone of Democratic voter base. All Madam Shoo-in needed was one victory to turn this into a knock-down-drag-out. She has the money. She has the hubris. She has the moral bankruptcy to turn this thing into a gory street fight and you can bet your Arkansas/New York dollar it’s coming.

It is also a new day for the Grand Old Party, which can now exhale that they will not have to deal with a holier than thou sympathetic newcomer on a meteoric rise and instead begin to ratchet up the national attack dogs on the braying Dragon Lady.

More good news for Uncle Rudy.

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2008 Iowa Caucuses: What Happened?

Aquarian Weekly 1/9/08 REALITY CHECK

IOWA: WHAT HAPPENED?
Obama Rises, Hillary Skids/GOP Field Swings Wide On A Holy Huckabee Blip

Huckabee Illustrates ChancesIn this most historic of election years, with no incumbent and a primary season beginning as early as any before, and its candidates for both major parties ranging from an African-American, an Hispanic, a Mormon, an Italian Catholic, a Fundamentalist to a woman, the first salvo was fired across the frozen cornfields of Iowa on the first Thursday of the new year. And although it is a minor shift in the system – these oddly constructed caucuses so early in the process – the results may have vaulted one winner into the kind of momentum that cannot be slowed and another sending his party into an all-out gang fight or at least a fairly entertaining skirmish between an insurgent eccentric and the fat-cat establishment.

A half-year ago the victories of Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee, even considering the queer vagaries of the Iowa Caucuses, would have seemed daft. Huckabee was an ill-coached religious nut and Obama was a flavor-of-the-month young black man who’d been senator for five minutes. They were both way behind in the polls and their campaigns seemed lost. Both are now something extremely binding in this business of politics; they are winners.

What this means for either of these men, their party’s final choice for a national candidate or ultimately the presidency, or even what the people of New Hampshire might do five days out or South Carolina soon after is anyone’s guess.

For now, they are winners. Moreover, they are underdog winners, a perilous position to be in at kick-off. This is especially true when considering both of their prime opponents’ money, organization power, and insatiable madness not to lose.

Make no mistake; Mike Huckabee is not going to be the Republican nominee for president of the United States, any more than Pat Buchanan was going to be in 1992 or John McCain in 2000, or George H. W. Bush way back in 1980. Huckabee’s Iowa stand will be his Alamo, a mere blip on the rest of this exercise. But what Iowa managed to do for the Republican Party was provide suitable tread for the drag-ass McCain, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani campaigns, ostensibly opening wide the door of opportunity for the entire field.

Particularly, it is McCain who remains a dangerous counter-offensive for a party that has never embraced him, in fact, mostly despises him, but may have to decide he is the only Republican candidate who could stave off an unavoidable Democratic take-over on the national stage.

Had Mitt Romney, the party darling and fabricated money pit, won, there would have been an inevitability to the coming weeks which would have made campaigning something of a pathetic dirge. Instead, the insanity of the Huckabee victory is like some kind of free pass for every GOP candidate, including the mercurial Ron Paul run. It literally put the fear of God into the party powerbrokers, who watched their golden shyster piss away nearly eight million dollars for the right to be flogged like a musk ox by a Bible fanatic.

Unlike Huckabee, Barrack Obama is no joke, no mere blip or strange eruption of angered extremists sending a message to the party platform. He is a rock star.

RNC Chairman, Mike Duncan, looking more like someone who wandered into a dangerous neighborhood with a fat wallet than the party’s staunch figurehead, clearly had a hard time coming to grips with it, and probably should not have been coerced to appear boondoggled on national television. Before long, wide-eyed and sweating profusely, he was making weirdly formed cases for Duncan Hunter and the ghost of Strom Thurmond.

“Anything, Jesus, anything but this!” he screamed into the camera.

But it was a joyous yawp compared to the fallout at Clinton Central, where phone calls from New Hampshire did not bring good news. These are the tough inquiries when the wheels begin to come loose. The ones from under-whelmed fundraisers in Manhattan and Southern California who need to know what the fuck happened to promises that “the worst that will transpire in Iowa is a cheap Edwards victory, which we’ll wipe clean in five days.”

Unlike Huckabee, Barack Obama is no joke, no mere blip or strange eruption of angered extremists sending a message to the party platform. He is a rock star. He is a revivalist voice from some remote outpost; a phenomenon of youth, race, and indescribable energy. He looks like he was created for the stump, a modern-day Moses in a power tie; something the Democrats have been begging for since Robert Kennedy was murdered, his younger brother left a woman to drown in his car, and Gary Hart danced away on a yacht.

Obama’s speech election night was pure inspiration. Coming as it did on the heels of Senator Rodham’s robotic concession drone, it was political theater. Worse still for Clinton, Obama obliterated the once impenetrable suit of Hillary armor, the fallacy of the Electable Inevitable, the all-important national poll numbers which had her guffawing at the silly notion of these annoying little primaries. Madam Shoo-In’s defeat is compounded by a count of 41 to 17 percent of independents and the ridiculous amount of women, particularly young women, who voted overwhelmingly for her surging opponent.

Traditional wisdom by early morning after the Iowa Caucuses had the rural, predominantly middle-class, white, working class Midwesterners leveling a stark repudiation on the status quo; a weakened president, a flaccid congress, and a heap of economic and foreign policy woe to come: A barely one-term senator with no experience (little blood on his hands and less skeletons in the closets) and a down-home Baptist preacher, a true GOP outsider/underdog (not a corporate puppet) crushing the two more entrenched national frontrunners.

It is a theory certainly co-opted by a shaken John Edwards, who had more or less spent the past four years banking on Iowa to jettison his last hurrah. He stood before his stunned constituents and shouted, “Tonight there is a vote for change!”

But it was certainly not a vote for Edwards, who, unlike the Republican clan, can only endure one more defeat before surrendering. Then, what does he do with his formidable support? Hand it to the woman he has been thrashing relentlessly for months or to the rocket ride from Illinois?

It is true that the Iowa turnout broke records in all demographics, including youth, women, and independents. Sixty percent of the participants were first-timers. Lines formed early. People were turned away. Well over two-hundred thousand participated, an eighty-nine percent growth from 2004 in a swing-state that split between Al Gore in 2000 and George W. Bush four years later.

It was arguably the most powerfully resonant Iowa Caucus in history, but all of it means little without New Hampshire’s outcome in less than a week. It sits there like a firewall, a Waterloo, or a launching pad of historical proportions.

Obama wins there, then he will surely take South Carolina and begin to put the squeeze on things. Huckabee shows up and he will make life hard for the GOP big boys, and if McCain makes his stand, there will be hard decisions coming.

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Mitt Romney: Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell

Aquarian Weekly 12/12/07 REALITY CHECK

MITT ROMNEY: DON’T ASK – DON’T TELL

A person should not be elected because of his faith, nor should he be rejected because of his faith. – Mitt Romney 12/6/07

Mitt RomneyHalleluiah! The voice of reason and enlightenment bellows from the voice of Mitt Romney, Republican, Mormon, Pro-Choice/Pro-Life, Pro-Gay Rights/Anti-Gay Marriage, Pro-War/ Anti-War candidate. Down in the Iowa polls and out nearly ten million bucks, he greases the hair, polishes the smile, floods the stage with American flags, and begins to flippantly deconstruct his party’s entire political platform for the past decade: Take religion out of politics? Ah, but wait, in literally the same rancid breath he lauds the tenets of Christian faith as not only a prerequisite for his own candidacy, but the very fabric of the nation and its government.

It is the worst kind of pandering, pathetically transparent and manipulative, reeking of disingenuous double-speak. It humps the very ghost of the Checker’s Speech and pays homage to the demons of Tammany Hall, rendering Romney either perfect presidential timber or a madman.

Mitt Romney may be a two-bit carney grifter with the morals of a guttersnipe, but I’m willing to forgive him for that. Most presidential candidates possess the guttersnipe gene. It is inherent. No one can achieve lasting success in this game without it. Survival is impossible for those bound to high-ethics. Principles are for losers. So we must exonerate pusillanimity in our big-time politicians. However, what we can no longer willingly accept is another crazy man in the White House. Eight years of this non sequitur seat-of-the-pants lunacy is quite enough for any civilized nation outside of Central America.

I’m sorry, but it is painfully difficult for anyone not using dung for brains to fathom why a republican candidate running for any office save dogcatcher would question the inclusion of his religious authenticity. Mere desperation? Sure, for a Democrat. But what party crammed this mindless claptrap into the public discourse in the first place?

There’s video playing on my computer screen right now of Romney questioning why people need to know his religious convictions. He is stunned that his Mormonism would be an issue in his campaign.

What the…?

Perhaps he’s kidding? I’m always down for humor in the grind of a difficult stump. Maybe Romney is just cutting it up. That must be it. He’s a jokester. Not crazy, but merely funny. But no one is laughing. No. They are applauding. He looks deadly serious.

The only explanation left is Romney’s leaning on his strength, lying, but despite his astounding proclivity for the craft, he’s not even a good liar. For the duration of his crumbling campaign the best he’s done is say he either didn’t mean something or he now believes something else. Once again, this is all fine and dandy. In fact, lying is a prerequisite for the presidency, so he had better bone up, especially if he plans on lying at this Herculean rate.

But please, no more babbling frat-house coke fiends hooked on Jesus who run to deranged, crippled old warmongers for policy judgment!

Perhaps Romney is just stupid. Yes, dumb. Reagan was as dumb as a pole. And LBJ had cobwebs in his frontal lobes. Hell, you can be an idiot and still lead.

Wait, Romney’s still speaking. He’s reversed course again and says that although his particular sect of Christianity is off limits, (Mormons are considered cultists by the rest of Christianity) it is important that religion stay in our nation’s forefront in everything from celebrating Christmas to swearing in on the Bible, and those opposed to all this “have taken the separation of church and state beyond its original meaning.”

Wait! What? Hasn’t he just called for a separation of church and state so we can leave him alone about his wacky beliefs? And how does Romney know this so-called “original meaning”? Has he engaged in séance with Thomas Jefferson lately? This sounds awfully close to George W. Bush consulting the Virgin Mary on bombing the Middle East.

Perhaps Romney is just stupid. Yes, dumb. Reagan was as dumb as a pole. And LBJ had cobwebs in his frontal lobes. Hell, you can be an idiot and still lead. But he doesn’t appear to have mental deficiencies. Romney speaks clearly enough and seems to believe most of what he says. I always felt Al Gore and John Kerry lost because they were phonies that didn’t quite embrace phoniness. This is why they could never grasp the finer points of campaigning. You could never quite shake the feeling while listening to them that they’d stolen someone else’s identity and were caught in a disquieting plot of alien design.

Romney has that look right now as he blurts out the phrase “moral convictions” every thirty seconds to keep from convulsing. I half expect a reptile to explode from his rib cage at any moment.

Watch Romney speak some time. Really watch him. The eyes dart spastically, the brow furrows, his speech patterns falter and then queer altogether. He often looks like the boy who has just realized he’s lost in a department store; that eerily suspended moment of panic-clarity before the freak-out.

“It is important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions.”

Creed? No they don’t. Not at all. I have a Jewish friend on the phone right now.

“Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior?”

“What? No!”

I’m dialing up a Muslim as Romney keeps rolling.

“Religion and freedom endure together or perish alone.”

I’m not even sure what that means. Is that some kind of existential gobbledygook designed to hypnotize the elderly? Where is this going? Are we supposed to include Romney’s Christian tenets or ignore them? Is religion in or out of this thing? Are we to consider his incredibly passionate and enduring sense of faith and at the same time not expect him to be influenced by it? I’m confused. I’m not sure what this guy stands for or what he is capable of? I like his tie, though. He looks presidential in a way. He moves his hands in a subtle but forceful manner. I am beginning to love his indescribable aura of invincibility and ambiguity, like the living embodiment of an epic poem. He appears as a god.

My taxes are paid. My future is secure. War is over. Praise Jesus!

I like his chances.

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2007 Iowa Caucuses Loom

Aquarian Weekly 12/5/07 REALITY CHECK

30 DAYS TO PAY DIRT Iowa Caucuses Loom For GOP & Dems

Barack ObamaThere’s been over a year of white noise and revelry and backbiting and futile positioning rhetoric between 16 candidates with nary an incumbent nor true frontrunner sitting pretty. Long and pointless months of innocuous sound bites and crowded debate stages, asinine media manipulation and representative-laced excuse mongering has given way to the true campaign season, separating the haughty posturing and delicate strategies from the nitty gritty.

The wide-open 2008 race for the White House has entered the realm of Go Time, a buzz phrase for all campaign officials who’ve toiled with little sleep or personal monetary gain for mounting weeks and months in order to see tangible results. Go Time for the huddled and hunkered in a presidential race is pudding proof, when rubber finally hits road, and over the next crucial month Republican and Democratic hopefuls will put petal to metal and turn all these insufferable polls and goofy prognostications into the ultimate campaign trail pay-off, VOTES.

Here at The Desk, where we have driven a rusty spike through the hollow heart of two such endeavors in 2000 and 2004 – arguably the most hotly contested, protested and detested presidential election seasons ever – we have lain low, preaching patience and the need for a sober, stand-back level of perspective. That time is past. Thirty days is a blip in this procedure. A bad month has crushed the nuts of big-time politicians; shoo-in muscle geeks, who looked right but went left and fell into Carroll’s Rabbit Hole never to return.

The month before an opening primary or caucus will maim a weak candidate and catapult a strong one. What happens over the next thirty days, especially in the case of certain prominent candidates, may well determine the ultimate fate of the next president of the United States.

On January 3, the earliest starting gun in the history of this nation’s presidential campaign season, a season which has been ramping up the moment the Democrats stormed mathematical control of the legislative branch 13 months prior, an Iowa Caucasus for both parties will set in motion several scenarios which could cut the field, put to rest the wounded, and fire the panic jets beneath heretofore unstoppable marches.

Recall recent history when John Kerry’s 2004 run entered the final month before Go Time a floundering mess, overshadowed in every circle by a manic Howard Dean, only to emerge 45 days later as an “electable” juggernaut, or back in 2000, when a struggling George W. Bush was pushed to the brink by a hard-charging John McCain before baring the kind of fangs that put him in the big chair and eventually launched the War Era.

Let’s begin with where the Republican candidates stand.

After last week’s raucous YOUTUBE debate, which resembled the audience whoops and participant rancor of the most idiotic Jerry Springer freak show, the shift in the Iowa poll numbers is stark. The state’s shaky frontrunner, Mitt Romney’s shallowly disingenuous stammering and the pit-bull snarls of national poll leader, Rudy Giuliani gave way to a somewhat coherent Ron Paul and a stellar performance from Mike Huckabee. According to a Dec. 2 Des Moines Register poll, Romney, who has spent $7 million in his Iowa effort, has dipped from 29 to 24 percent, while Huckabee, spender of a poultry 300 grand in the state, has spiked from 12 to a leading 29 percent. Giuliani, whose people never expected anything from the caucus, wallows with the other also-rans at 13 percent.

Thirty days is a blip in this procedure. A bad month has crushed the nuts of big-time politicians; shoo-in muscle geeks, who looked right but went left and fell into Carroll’s Rabbit Hole never to return.

As stated here ad nauseam and proven out repeatedly, polls mean less than nothing. They are fun as a meager checkpoint and to analyze against trends, but usually end up stiffing, particularly in mercurial voting sites like Iowa and New Hampshire. However, one major issue has transpired on the Republican side: Romney, a flip-flopping master in the plastic-coated bull dung composition of a Bill Clinton or Ronald Regan, has teetered on the brink with Evangelical Christians. His vacillating positions on abortion, gay rights, and other key social issues have allowed Huckabee to vault ahead, but the former Arkansas governor and Baptist pastor has little to no party support to challenge in a national election and has even less money to win it.

Republican insiders believe Huckabee’s momentum will only serve to strengthen the Giuliani strategy of waiting out early losses, which are almost certainly assured in Iowa, NH, and possibly South Carolina, creating a confusing log-jam and leaving him the rest of the big states to grab on Super Tuesday, February 5. Nearly half the delegates stand to be taken on the biggest such primary day in history.

The Wait Game for Uncle Rudy also means allowing time for a Democratic candidate to come into focus. If it’s Hillary Clinton, then he is almost a guaranteed choice to head her at the pass, regardless of the former New York City mayor’s uber-liberal stance on gay rights, abortion, immigration, and even gun control.

Hillary? Not so fast.

With one month to go before the Democrats vote in Iowa, the 12-month honeymoon for Madam Shoo-In has come to a screeching halt. The Barack Obama campaign has woken up. By managing to deftly remain on the high road, they’ve also brazenly taken the bruises leveled on Senator Rodham by John Edwards and turned them into a legitimate comeback.

The same Dec. 2 Des Moines Register poll has Obama up from 22 to 28 percent and Senator Rodham slipping from 29 to 25 percent, only two percentage points behind a steady Edwards at 23.

Again, taking these numbers with huge grains of sodium, perception is everything. Up until about two weeks ago Obama looked nearly dead. Only massive Hollywood cash support and a groundswell of anti-Clinton rumblings from inside the party kept him from the kind of flash-in-the-pan footnote status the wooden Fred Thompson has settled into. Suddenly, with Clinton’s husband mucking up the works making up stories about not supporting the Iraq war before he didn’t support it or some such nonsense and a likely surge coming from the Oprah Winfrey factor when she enters the fray later this week, Obama’s electricity in Iowa could change everything.

Clinton has been not only running a national campaign and more or less ignoring the Democratic field for six months, the Republicans have already anointed her the opponent. She cannot afford to drop Iowa and limp into New Hampshire, which is notorious for following up an Iowa victory (check Kerry over Dean in ’04) or going nutso like a Pat Buchanan or Paul Tsongas win. Then South Carolina’s strong African American voter base may take early victories as a sign Obama could actually win this baby and avalanche what was once a Sure Thing.

But Sure Things come and go quickly in the primary season. A little bump like actually voting has a way of turning bold candidates into road kill and making newspaper jackasses look as stupid as they sound. Most importantly, winners have a way of standing come summer.

Thirty days.

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