Aquarian Weekly 10/29/08 REALITY CHECK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll take the latter.

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

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

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

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

But there’s always a third party.


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Joe Cool Down The Stretch 2008

Aquarian Weekly 10/22/08 REALITY CHECK

JOE COOL DOWN THE STRETCH Obama Pushes McCain To The Brink

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

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

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

Until now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was at this point things began to shift.

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

Then there is the matter of the final debate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The People’s Republic Of America

Aquarian Weekly 10/8/08 REALITY CHECK

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

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

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

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

Who put it there?

Angry constituents pummeling the Capital Hill switchboard in record numbers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Fill blank in with question here)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The People’s Republic Of America

Aquarian Weekly 10/1/08 REALITY CHECK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freeloaders, deadbeats and gamblers rejoice!

We’ve got your back.


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Republican National Convention ’08

Aquarian Weekly 9/10/08 REALITY CHECK


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Democratic National Convention ’08

Aquarian Weekly 9/3/08 REALITY CHECK

THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHILL Democrats Make Mile High Noise & History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Open Letter To Barack Obama

Aquarian Weekly 8/27/08 REALITY CHECK


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

To the faithful,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in battle,



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Obama In The Uphill (Part II)

Aquarian Weekly 8/13/08 REALITY CHECK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Obama In The Uphill (Part I)

Aquarian Weekly 8/6/08 REALITY CHECK

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

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

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

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

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

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

But he is not.

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

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

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

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

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

But we are far from that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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“18 In ’08” Interview Part II

Aquarian Weekly 7/2/08 REALITY CHECK

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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