“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” (www.18In08.com) as well as his planned debates and town meetings in 50 colleges this summer into fall has been one of the factors in the recent rejuvenation of young voters in this historical 2008 election season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“18 In ’08” Interview Part I

Aquarian Weekly 6/25/08 REALITY CHECK

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

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

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

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

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

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

This fall the “18 In ’08” juggernaut, online at www.18in08.com, will visit 50 colleges across the country, that is after launching a celebrity PSA series this summer while also hosting a series of “youth-focused debates and town halls”, of which I hope to be part. But since this is the home office of skepticism and cranky ennui, we put the kid to the test.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But will it translate to the fall?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bye, Bye Baby Boomers

Aquarian Weekly 6/11/08 REALITY CHECK

Barack Obama Buries The Boomers

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

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

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

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

The man is right; it is our time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

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

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

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

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

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

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Fuck Scott McClellan

Aquarian Weekly 6/4/08 REALITY CHECK


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

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

Fuck Scott McClellan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Will The Real John McCain Please Stand Up

Aquarian Weekly 5/28/08 REALITY CHECK


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Will Women Vote For Barack Obama?

Aquarian Weekly 5/21/08 REALITY CHECK

THE GREAT DIVIDE Race, Gender & The New Frontier

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


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

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

Not this time.

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

Way beyond.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Clintons Make Deal With Party 2008

Aquarian Weekly 5/14/08

N.C. & Indy Voters Send Clinton Kamikaze Campaign Into Broker Mode

So she sat on, with eyes closed, and half believed herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and all would change to dull reality. – Lewis Carroll Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland

One For The RoadIt was around ten p.m. eastern time on May 6 when even the most dizzying of sycophants at The Machine began to take stock. The merry time of misrule that was all the rage for close to two months was sounding taps from a distant bugle horn due south. The phones at the Bloomington, Indiana Headquarters of Clinton Central had gone silent, ceasing the mindless bustle and putting many on alert. Several of them had thought there had been a blackout, but the televisions above their heads continued to buzz the bad news from North Carolina. The mood, so full of helplessly false hope shoveled without shame by obvious psychopaths for weeks, now took on that of a cartoon character having realized it had wandered off the cliff and suddenly, in a rush of cold reality, glanced down to find the abyss.

The unrecognizable stench of bitter and lasting defeat draped the air. And for the first time, deep inside the spectacular blanket of denial that had become Campaign Fantasy Camp, everyone understood the initiative had changed.

Standing from his cubicle, headset still clamped to his head, the emotionally strained voice of an exhausted intern croaked, “What are we doing here?” No one, it turned out, had a serviceable answer.

By dawn the gallows jabber of “being in the zone” and “downhill momentum” and “game-changing” appeared a sad joke in the unforgiving light of day. To those still left in “charity” employ of what one Clinton aid recently called The Three-card Monte of campaigns, “a dismal march of shameless pandering and sophistic photo-ops”, the jig was most agonizingly up.

North Carolina, in play for days, turned into a Barack Obama landslide. Worse still, Indiana, the primary that was supposed to seal the “white working class” super-delegate deal for Madam Shoo-In, was at first too close to call and ultimately a few thousand tallies from scratch.

Let it be known that it was the final razor-thin count in the Hoosier State that began to dismantle the Clinton Machine. Indiana, the historians will write, loosened the Clinton’s death grip on the Democratic Party. Those who had stood firmly behind their impenetrable wall to crash and burn reputation and treasure, started to awaken to their folly.

So what is Hillary Rodham Clinton doing here?

Around two a.m. the next morning the 42nd president of the United States took a separate flight back to Chappaqua, New York. The diehard early-90s’ Clintonites begged him to stay, but he could no longer bare the charade. He told what was left of several high-ranking campaign officials that his wife had “gone around a weird bend” and he could no longer follow her than run himself, and not even the brainwashed ilk of Paul Begala or Lanny Davis could envision such obvious madness. “No matter how much I owe her,” Bill Clinton whispered, “I owe her the truth this time.”

The Machine’s moneyman, Terry McAuliffe, giddy as a schoolgirl at 6 p.m. of the last election day that will matter to a Clinton in a very long time, had nothing to say to reporters by midnight. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked him how much money the New York Senator had left. McAuliffe looked at her blankly and stammered, “Money?” as if he had never heard of the word.

The truth emerged twelve hours later. The Machine had officially gone belly up, and reports by late afternoon the next day had the candidate personally in the hole for over $11 million. All of her public office earnings spent on a random fling across key national election swing states downing whiskey shots, toting rifles, fitting for hardhats and telling the national press she was going to “obliterate Iran”. By the Sunday before the fateful vote, Clinton’s brandishing of the ill-conceived and badly argued Tax Holiday idea was so viciously pilloried by every known economist it appeared she had lost her grip on whatever authenticity remained viable.

Hillary Clinton would have to come to grips with the annoying concept of fact. She is done, and has been for some time. She has been running from something, not towards it; and only what is left of her good name is being challenged, not Barack Obama or a long-shot chance at the White House.

Word began filtering through the offices that Ms. Rodham cancelled her scheduled post-primary bookings on the Today Show and Good Morning America so she could “think out the strategy”, which was to focus on keeping the lions at bay, show no blood, and hitting her knees like Nixon and Kissinger during the eve of the Great Exodus.

It wasn’t until cooler heads mapped out an Exit Strategy that things began to level.

Hillary Clinton would have to come to grips with the annoying concept of fact. She is done, and has been for some time. She has been running from something, not towards it; and only what is left of her good name is being challenged, not Barack Obama or a long-shot chance at the White House.

Thus, a long and painful intervention ensued, and according to sources very close to Fantasy Epicenter, late Wednesday negotiations with Howard Dean and the DNC bigwigs in a special Washington meeting ended with the following provisions:

1. No more vilifying ads or skewering depictions of the presumptive nominee.

2. Halting the ridiculous nonsense about having a chance to win anything by creating new and more bizarre routes and making up crazy rules to suit these pathways.

3. Bring the curtain down on what Joe Klein aptly described in Time magazine last week as “a woman transformed from Eleanor Roosevelt into Huey Long in two short months.”

4. No more clamoring for debates, but they get to keep “challenging the system” to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida, which will appear to the press and the American people like a populist charge to “bring true democracy back to The Party”, ending with the May 31 party caucus to heroically bring them back into the fold.

For its compliance in this treaty, The Machine gets the following:

1. Allowed to play footsies with the Democrat base in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon for the next two weeks, talking proudly of “forging ahead” and “fighting on” bravely, but with an air of a farewell tour.

2. Have all outstanding debt erased by the liquid Obama funds and the committee coffers.

3. A formal and public offer of being on the ticket, which she will politely and officially decline, with the caveat that at least a dozen Clinton operatives get prominent posts on the Obama National Campaign Staff, and upon victory, several receive administration jobs.

4. A smoothing over with party operatives, who have viewed for some time the Clinton Campaign as a kamikaze force trying to destroy Obama in the hopes there is a McCain victory in the fall and a To The Rescue Clinton Revival in 2012. There will be no mass shift in super delegates to seal Obama’s nomination until she officially and respectively suspends her campaign.

On May 20, the day of the Oregon primary, which Obama is projected to win, Hillary Rodham Clinton will concede defeat, releasing her delegates, and appear magnanimous in the process.

The Clintons get one last moment in the sun, and then will be asked to infiltrate the Reagan Democrat- white/male infrastructure of the party in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and rally the troops in the wounded Michigan and Florida delegations. Obama will paint the Clinton legacy with great pomp and humility, but look ahead to a new chapter in American history, thus separating his New Generation movement from the haggard remains of the Boomer nonsense that derailed what was once a well oiled, multi-million dollar political engine.

If The Machine does not comply, the dwindling Clinton power base will be ignored and the candidate’s standing in Democratic Party good will, and therefore her lengthy career within it, is no more.

Only time and actions will tell if The Deal was accepted in full or merely another con by the masters.

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Pennsylvania Dooms Democrats Again 2008

Aquarian Weekly 4/30/08 REALITY CHECK

KEYSTONE KOP-OUT Why Barack Obama’s Inability To Bury The Clinton Ghost Dooms November

A few weeks before John McCain is sworn in as the next president of the United States, many in the press will likely ask What Happened To Barack Obama?

The majority will use antiquated measuring sticks to speculate on his inability to connect with white men, Catholics, Hispanics, older women, or low-income Reagan Barack ObamaDemocrats. Still others will ponder his first fractured weeks of April ’08, the spring of his discontent, when he had unlimited funds and media power, a groundswell of celebrity fervor, and two opponents both in and out of his party wounded by daunting preconceptions, relative campaign poverty, and the stench of old-time politics about them, but wasted valuable energy grappling with age-old labels of anti-Americanism, elitism and liberal mania. The rest will be left to deconstruct the night he tanked Pennsylvania and they’ll ultimately consider it his national election death knell. The night everyone finally realized that America would not be voting for a black, liberal, northerner, now matter how jazzed all the college kids and cable television hosts had become.

And they will all kick themselves for not seeing the obvious signs anyone with half the experience and none of the access were afforded. How could they not see that time and again all the huge crowds and revolutionary fire burning across the Internet and on the streets of big cities and on large campuses and the increasingly bogus blogoshpere had failed to seal a single absolute?

There are still very large holes in the “unsinkable” good ship Obama, flooded beyond retribution by the unshakably bizarre windmill-tipping masquerade of Hillary Rodham Clinton, spurned prom queen mutated into Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter.

But those paid to dissect this most historic of Democratic presidential primaries continually misread the American voter. Just when it seems the starry-eyed fallacy of youthful grass roots rebellion has all-but convinced the last vestiges of Journalism 101, things fall apart. Yet they continue to hold out the faintest hope for something new and improved, while clutching to a greater vision for big-time political theater. But it is repeatedly squashed by cold, hard facts; vote tallies they constantly push in Obama’s direction, despite all the evidence to the contrary; then real, raw votes push back.

Soon they will write that they did not heed the signs until it was far too late.

Perhaps they were too busy handing over a New Hampshire contest to the dynamic new kid on the block that he did not deliver. Still they paved a yellow brick road of Super Tuesday momentum in California, New York and New Jersey, but he was crushed. They ignored that and ascribed him lofty ambitions in Texas and Ohio after an incredible run of 12 wins in a row, effectively burying his opponent, but leading to his penultimate failure; he could not make Madam Shoo-In go away. They even convinced themselves to put him on the fast track to a single-digit loss in Pennsylvania that they believed would finally implode the old-time politicos to abandon ship and hand the whole caboodle over to a spit-shine orator that gave them all the kind of chills they’d conjured when they picked up the pen and applied for the press cards in the first place.

But it turns out no one has abandoned anything, and nobody with decades of bad road and shit-gorging and the soot and blood and sweat of long years on the stump and in the houses of congress and the backrooms of power are giving up the ghost that easily.

This is not Hollywood. This is not Dreamland. This is not a romantic novel of high expectations and heroic figures with candyland aspirations. This is the deep end of the American experience, the knife-fight, killjoy, air-sucking brass-knuckle jungle, and it is no place for unfurling preconceived notions of bountiful honor.

This is not Hollywood. This is not Dreamland. This is not a romantic novel of high expectations and heroic figures with candyland aspirations. This is the deep end of the American experience, the knife-fight, killjoy, air-sucking brass-knuckle jungle, and it is no place for unfurling preconceived notions of bountiful honor.

This is the black hole no one admits forms at the center of our high-and-mighty republic, a black hole that swallowed the Barack Obama myth in the Keystone State on April 22, 2008.

If Pennsylvania acts as anything but a Democratic Waterloo, it will be nothing short of a miracle. The only maneuver that might save the party from total annihilation is if Obama steals Indiana and snaps the mass hallucination that is the Hillary Clinton campaign on May 6. Then he will be free to provide serviceable fodder for Dick Nixon’s legendary Silent Majority.

But winning in November against a Caucasian gray-haired military Republican is now completely and utterly out of the question.

However, if Obama fails to take Indiana and shake up these rubes that keep handing the Clintons money so they can play candidate fantasy camp, the following scenarios are tabled:

1. The whole sordid ordeal goes all the way to the Denver National Convention with a Goldwater/Rockefeller type party split motivating a frightened gaggle of super delegates to force-feed the combined ticket of a woman/black man, which will lose the national election by a minimum of twenty points.

2. The Clinton Machine tumbles forth into August demanding retribution for Michigan and Florida delegates, prompting a perceived kidnapping of the nomination against overwhelming mathematics (trailing in pledged delegates, popular vote, and overall contests won) and voter will, which would likely incite a mass walkout of over thirty states and lead to a GOP landslide, or even more fatal for Democrats, an Obama secession into a third party that would not only queer any chance the Democrats have in 2008 but obliterate the party’s standing for the all-important redistrict extravaganza of 2010 that currently has them salivating for a national power grab.

3. Obama limps to inevitable victory in late-June with enough mud on him to sink even the most vetted, lily-white southern-crossed governor, let alone a black guy with ten minutes experience.

Not one of these scenarios ends with a Democrat in the White House, in a year that a splintered rake and a stripped ’74 Impala could defeat the Republicans.

What started out as a press geek’s dream has turned into a Fellini nightmare of clowns and tarred nudes and painted mules parading into a big top of smoking mirrors.

At the start of this thing, only three and half short months ago, Barack Obama looked like something we have never seen and would never see again, something almost weirdly pristine. After three months under constant campaigning, truckloads of cash spent, and Clinton Machine muckraking, he is sounding and looking like he might be just another tired Democratic leftist quack with not a chance in the world to cut into America’s very real Puritan/Racial/Cultural/Generational divide.

Perhaps he carries down with him the hope and prospects of an anti-cynical stance for a new generation of voter, who is fast learning what we all learn eventually: This is not a game for high-minded idealism, but a cushy seat in the black hole.

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Confession Of An Elitist

Aquarian Weekly 4/23/08 REALITY CHECK


Hi, my name is James Campion, and I’m an elitist.

I’m fairly certain most of the people who have read even a sentence of this column over the past decade-plus have come to this conclusion already. But for those who have been laughing too hard or throwing up too violently to realize this personality trait, it is true.

ElitistNow, this does not mean I think I am necessarily better than anyone. Oh, heaven’s no. It is quite the opposite. You all have it over me. You’ve managed to fool yourself in thinking you matter. This is an enviable talent I do not possess. I have often admitted in print that I should be eradicated. Erased like a horrible mishap of biology. I am a completely useless organism that shamelessly gorges on the very systems I berate. I am a phony and a hypocrite. I need to die, right away, without so much as a hint of remorse. But, alas, I am too lazy and mainly interested in seeing what will happen next to do it myself.

However, I do think I see things clearer than most, in fact, way clearer. I am repeatedly, and in many ways, revoltingly astounded how utterly stupid most people are, and by most people, I mean anyone but me. In fact, I have pretty much figured that the entire human experiment is not only an abject failure, but if there is a God and he or she or it is responsible for this miserable shit, he is the ultimate fucking idiot.

Whew, that felt good.

Okay, so this brings me to the subject of today’s dissertation.

There was a lot of talk this past week out of Pennsylvania (the world’s think-tank) that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is also an elitist, just because he rightly pointed out that most hard-hat, Johnny Lunch pail, beer-gut, fast-food trough fuckers will never vote for “the black guy” because they are bitter, bigoted, gun-toting Neanderthals, who bludgeon the rest of us clear-thinking folk with their Jesus rants and demand those running for high office perform their goofy slack-jawed activities like bowl, fish, hunt, or back-spit at the corner watering hole while blaming all the ills of the world on women, “niggers”, and “those illegals” just to get a sniff of the dullard vote.

Shit, that’s not elitism. Not even close.

When you are done reading this missive, the hope against hope is your speed-addled, television-mangled dumb ass will be able to differentiate its author from Barack Obama, who is merely one of those intellectuals with a Faulty Edit-Meter.

For those of you with your face in a Blackberry, a Blue-Tooth in your ear and a thumb up your shoot, Faulty Edit-Meters are a dime a dozen in places like Harvard. Many of these overly nurtured and appallingly sheltered brain mutants are not allowed to roam through society, so they sequester themselves in academia in some form or other. Unlike us elitists, who get an endless kick out studying the damaged human animal, they fear every aspect of civilization. This is why many of them never leave higher education at all, safely walling themselves in with the other shuddering eggheads, who find a measure of pride in loathing the rest of us for jacking off to pro football and Project Runway reruns.

Obama is an intellectual that managed to escape the pod, that’s all.

Enlightenment keeps us from playing along with your knuckle dragging, drool-slobbered lifestyles and superstitions. In other words, most of what you cherish and enjoy about breathing for seventy or eighty odd years we honestly believe is not only petty and banal, but a dangerous self-mutilation of the precious gift of reason.

But people fear intellectuals like the plague. Many among us think the very concept of reading, debating, general discovery, the sciences, literature, high art, and subtle and not-so subtle forms of cultural rebellion is the plague, and these mindless thugs have been trying to halt it ever since they sent Galileo packing 375 long years ago. But he was the lucky one. Intellectuals have been summarily stoned, crucified, beheaded, tarred-and-feathered, burned at the stake, and other sordid pleasantries for centuries.

This is why faux historians and bored high school teachers still try to sell Adolf Hitler, a barely-educated hack painter bereft of an original thought in his badly styled head, as some kind of mad super-genius. He wasn’t a genius. He was a fraud. This is different than intellectual or elitist. Other frauds include religious conman Pat Robertson, social parasite Al Sharpton, baseball commissioner Bud Selig, and whatever steaming sack of vermin feces is the CEO of Guitar Center, to name just a few.

Elitist is merely a term the threatened hordes of mediocrity use to make the freethinking and open-minded feel like they’re diseased. True elitists call this Enlightenment. We adore this affliction. We worship it like you worship money, strip clubs, and invisible godheads. Enlightenment keeps us from playing along with your knuckle dragging, drool-slobbered lifestyles and superstitions. In other words, most of what you cherish and enjoy about breathing for seventy or eighty odd years we honestly believe is not only petty and banal, but a dangerous self-mutilation of the precious gift of reason.

I’ve said it before in various ways, so what’s one more: There is no point to you. You are sucking up vital minerals and resources this planet needs to keep nobler beasts and essential plant life going. It is you who are the virus. Humanity is nothing more than evolution’s fart in the wind. We suck, so we distract ourselves in a constant stream of meaningless activity and pointless belief systems to avoid the truth. But that’s fine, nothing, not even an amoeba wants to suck. But the good news is we’ll be gone someday and everything will return to normal.

Also, if I may, portraying someone as bitter because they were drawn into a fixed system like moths to a flame with fairytales of the American Dream – work hard, study hard and you will be king of the world – and end up being cold-cocked by the realities of life is not the least bit elitist. It is judgmental. Hell, some may say, and I may be one of them, fairly observant, actually. But everyone judges. This is part of the virus of humanity. Those trees and animals you’re killing through your futile existence don’t judge. The real Jesus guy alluded to something like that, not the crazy Euro-Christ mannequin you cling to, the guy whose basic tenets you ignore in order to better populate your fancy social clubs dressed up as churches.

Oh, and saying someone “clings” to something like the fight over gun rights or the pro-life issue is not an insult. I cling to the idea that if one more asinine politician tries to perpetuate a civil rights abuse on us again, like denying gay marriage, I’m not only going to not vote for them, I am going to spend many of my waking hours making sure they are exposed as the stone-cold fascists they really are.

So call Barack Obama a liberal or an amateur, say he is in over his head and a big-government tax fiend, but he is not “out of touch”. He’s “in touch”. He might be too “in touch” to be president. Those types tend to be badly articulated car salesmen with a buddy complex.

Now, if you want a true elitist to run things, look no further.

I’m your man.

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Iraq – The New Iran

Aquarian Weekly 4/16/08 REALITY CHECK

IRAQ – THE NEW IRAN General Petraeus Hands Baby Bush A Tehran Surprise

Go find the young men never to fight again Bring up the banners from the days gone by Sweet moderation Heart of this nation Desert us not, we are Between the wars. – Billy Bragg

Happy TogetherI’ve been thinking about Billy Bragg lately, his song about the cycle of international chess the Big Boys play, and how after five years of this military abortion in Iraq we are no closer to anything resembling an end; and don’t think for ten seconds there will be one – whatever Bible-swearing caretaker is in charge – or how many speeches or hearings or investigations we’re inundated with. It is all downtime to the next fisticuffs, really. Always was, is, and will be. Change the names and faces, and here we go again, mista.

This week, General Petraeus, current commander of U.S. troops in Iraq and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker spoke for nine long hours before congress. There was a great deal of publicity about their recommendations to halt the planned troop reduction this summer and loads of commentary on their assessment of The Surge’s “continued success”, whatever in the wide world that could mean. But the most important phrase uttered by either man was simply “malign influence”, which both used when describing neighboring Evil Axis member, Iran’s place in this increasing theater of the absurd our nifty State Department boobs have designed.

Ah, Iran. Where have we heard that bauble before?

Here, for one.

Rifling through The Desk’s archives, we stumbled on this gem from a column entitled, “Manifest Destiny Made Easier Through Modern Chemistry”, dated late-December, 2004:

The American government is being duped by Iran, which now all but controls the fate of the coming January election. Not even what is left of the CIA can stop it. Any clear-thinking person without agenda or chemical dependency in the know understands this. Soon the Shiites will be in charge. They will take orders from Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and ask the Americans to leave, thank you very much. And all of Saddam Hussein’s nightmares will come true. He will be tried by the western infidels while the very same Iranians the United States paid him to keep at bay will run amok in his charred palaces, toasting his jailing.

People paid good money to practice journalism still possess the stones to ask why the hell Hussein kept refusing to reveal he had no weapons, even with the threat of U.S. aggression. The answer is simple: Either lie to the UN or risk letting the Iranians know he was a paper tiger and take him out. Americans seem to care about women and children and hospitals and taking prisoners. This is of little concern to Iranians. It was a fair trade off. Hussein knew, as did the CIA, that if it were the Iranians pouring over the border, the Grand Poobah’s head would have been on a spike, instead of getting a lice exam on CNN.

Eight and one half months of a lame duck wartime president and his gaggle of nation-builders ruminating over the chessboard.

Now the politicos, or whatever they call themselves in Tehran these days, see daylight with this hamstrung election next month, and soon the bloody paws of the American president will be asked to shake hands with the men who will plot 9/11 Part Deux and the United States will have to convince the rest of the planet how we have to gut the whole goddamned thing again.

And this will all be done legally through an election.

At least that is how it will appear. Elections are funny things. Sometimes they’re on the up and up, and sometimes the dead walk and pistols are brandished. Sometimes candidates bug offices and other times their soup is poisoned. Sometimes there is The Night of Long Knives and things go awry.

I see what is transpiring in Iraq right now, and although it resembles no real Euro-historical perspective outside the homogenized white-man’s Bible being peddled in Alabama currently or the drive-by that offed Francis Ferdinand, I am reminded of old-time politics. Not Richard Daley strong-arm street-whipping kind of politics. I’m talking Aaron Burr unloading a fatal pistol shot into Alexander Hamilton to decide the fate of New York kind of politics. Old time, real hard, skull-cracking, back-door fighting, western world type of politics: George Bush’s kind of politics. That is what will decide Iraq.

It was clear-headed long-term thinking, well reasoned and stated without trepidation. It sings, papa, like Bragg at the Royal Albert Hall circa 1984, but I have to admit; I don’t recall writing any of it. It seems like a dream now, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, the blurred years of occupation dressed up as war with all of our tax money (and the junk-loads lent by China) funneled east to rebuild, protect, and integrate a foreign nation ablaze in civil war. Our boy commander-in-chief as President of Iraq in bed with religious fanatics sold to the world as democracy.

General Petraeus continued to reiterate his concerns over “Iranian-supported Special Groups” manipulating violent outbursts in a phalanx of cable news interviews following the congressional hearing, wherein he painted a gory picture of not only Iranian influence on the ground in Iraq, and behind the slaughter of American soldiers, but also a very real and present danger within the barely-cobbled Iraqi government.

You might not believe the good general. The press might not believe him. The Iraqis might even be skeptical. But the only one who counts, George W. Bush, does. And so Captain Shoo-In took little time to announce to the world that he is on board with the whole deal, no shock to anyone who has paid attention to even the broadest details of this occupation for these five long years.

And that means anything is possible now: Attacks on Iran? More spitfire rhetoric? A January surprise before the purveyors of this ill-conceived roustabout hit the road for good?

It’s all on the table.

Eight and one half months of a lame duck wartime president and his gaggle of nation-builders ruminating over the chessboard.

Rook takes Pawn.

Your move.

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