Hillary Clinton’s Last Stand – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 4/9/08 REALITY CHECK

THE PARTY VS. THE MACHINE
Behind The Scenes Of Madam Shoo-In’s Last Stand

Justice is the end of government. – Alexander Hamilton

Dynamic Duo Circa 1976When you do this for money and turn it over in print, you end up on the e-mail list for all kinds of promotional drek and various levels of campaign palaver from county comptroller to president of the United States. Privy to this stream of information and access to the individuals who compile and send it along is a unique perspective, especially as times careen into desperation. And desperate are the times for the doomed Hillary For President campaign and its grab-bag staff, many of whom have been hammering me to tell the story of their wounded candidate being bullied by party officials and stuffy “male” elders, who wish to steal the will of the people and hand it over to backroom Democratic moguls that would crush their champion of the underdog.

For a sizable fee I would take on such a task, a ringing endorsement, a defense worthy of William Kunstler. You would walk from these words a changed human, crying out into the wilderness that Clinton is Virgin Mother to us all, elixir to our economic ills, commander of our fate, and spiritual center of the American Dream. But there is no fee forthcoming, so there will be no unabashed defense of a multi-million dollar political celebrity, whose surname has unleashed havoc through Democratic Party circles for decades, and who, before the shock and awe of Super Tuesday Part One, February 5, was the overwhelming favorite to nail down an early nomination and set sights on the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

“Weep not for the big and strong that take it in the groin, bend over, and wail that they have been wronged.”

Benjamin Disraeli said that.

It was either he or a rug salesman I met in Jerusalem.

But one thing is certain; a funny thing happened on the way to the ball, Cinderella became a washwoman, and her coach a rolling vegetable, and those on board became feral and unhinged. They quit, they bickered; pointing fingers and cursing at each other like townie drunks on conference calls to the national press. Many who had been pulling down big paychecks suddenly realized there had been no plan past mid-February and that Barack Obama was not only failing to go away quietly, he was repeatedly beating their candidate, state after state, like a military drum.

That’s when the e-mails and calls started to become more and more bizarre, crazy claims of having won primaries that didn’t exist, making certain state votes more equal than others, playing every half-baked card from race to gender to silly claims of media bias.

That’s when campaign bullhorn Howard Wolfson began to admit that he wasn’t as smart and as tough as he thought he was, that his candidate was grating and ill-prepared for battle, that most people cringe at the sight of her and others become violently ill at the prospect that she might reopen the Lincoln Bedroom to scores of drug dealers, Hollywood creeps, and Southern real estate rapists.

It was Wolfson’s idea to create the Clinton Myth that she had any chance of winning anything after Obama made mincemeat of the math on February 19 in Wisconsin, that his candidate should go on national television and say the Republican nominee was a better leader than her Democratic opponent. It was Wolfson, not the beleaguered and now emasculated strategist Mark Penn, who commanded a Red Bull swilling Wall Street actuary to claim his candidate had a de facto Electoral College number lead over the soaring Obama, or that somehow, as the final votes were counted in Texas last week and the opponent had won, that “momentum should will out”.

Let both parties crumble under the weight of a brutal truth: The two-party system has wrought this groaning creature, not Clinton or Obama. They are merely its symptoms.

But no one listens to Wolfson anymore, least of all Hillary Clinton. Her husband has convinced her to decry the weasels that silenced him when he had this baby on the run back in South Carolina, calling Barack Obama “Jesse Jackson-Lite”. Now he’s back, imploring The Party he used to have in his back pocket to calm down. But they’re too busy running for the hills to listen. Calm is the last emotion political animals express when they see an inevitable November stomp turning into a John McCain Comeback.

Every poll imaginable has the Republican candidate leading both Democrats in this election year of endless war, economic disaster, and Ulysses S. Grant approval ratings. So the Party is through being the Clinton’s bitch and has begun to fight back, privately and publicly. The groundswell is palpable and overwrought with feeble dealmakers. None of them appreciate the Hillary Machine mocking their un-democratic rules, riling up spurned delegatations from Michigan and Florida, accusing caucuses of being fixed, calling The Party a strong-armed fascist regime, and shitting all over its frontrunner at every turn.

Since the aforementioned Super Tuesday last gasp, Obama has gained 53 all-important Super Delegates and Clinton has lost a net of five. These include insiders who have been carrying the Clinton’s water for over a decade, not the least of which is the opportunistic Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico and former presidential candidate, as clever as any vermin abandoning a sinking skiff. Richardson, a former Clinton lackey, is just the biggest name to go public. More are coming.

They were promised big futures, free rides, and a bask in victory, not this tedious wallowing in the sad fumes of yesteryear and an endless mop-up after a series of bogus claims the candidate makes about bartering peace in Ireland, taking on pharmaceutical companies, and dodging sniper fire in Bosnia. Only the stupid ones remain. The ones who apparently missed out on Monica Lewinsky and Vince Foster and Whitewater and Marc Rich and the other incredible piles of feces left by the rancid trail of Clintonmania.

It is over for them and the Democrats, who had their chance to change the country and maybe the world, but will now be relegated to a blue dot query in Trivial Pursuit.

But that’s too fucking bad.

If the Clintons want to battle on, they should, and have every right. No party insider, also-ran candidate, bleating pundit, Super Delegate, or voting public should decide. Obama can’t get the magic number of pledged delegates anyway. If it goes onto the Denver National Convention and ignites the mass suicide of old liberals, let it. If Obama or Clinton can’t win, then let the party die.

Let both parties crumble under the weight of a brutal truth: The two-party system has wrought this groaning creature, not Clinton or Obama. They are merely its symptoms.

This is something of a media tour for the Clintons now, a farewell march akin to Douglas MacArthur those last few months in 1952 when he still thought everyone would ignore his insanity and hand him a nomination for president. He was merely a ghost then, as Hillary is now and has been since Obama emerged victorious on February 19 in Wisconsin, two weeks after the Waterloo of Super Tuesday and fifty long days on the morning these paragraphs hit the newsstands.

The Clintons have been around. They are no strangers to this Party nonsense. Primaries are not about democracy. They are about a team choosing its best player. Since February 5 that player has been Barack Obama.

But, hey, maybe the DNC should consider handing this whole thing over to the Clintons. Apparently to be president now is to be embroiled in a meaningless unachievable goal and pretend its wine and roses.

Madam president, your surge is working.

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“The Speech”: Barack Obama On Race – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 3/26/08 REALITY CHECK

THE SPEECH Inside Barack Obama’s Bold Sonnet To Our Bitter Demons & Better Angels For 37 minutes on the18th day of March 2008, Barack Obama, junior senator from Illinois and leading Democratic candidate for president of the United States, delivered as brutally candid a speech about race, human nature, and the forces for change that lie between them as intellectually possible. It was the first time in the history of this nation, a candidate for high office, or any office for that matter, addressed the hard truth about its deepest, most festering wound; a self-inflicted lesion so profoundly absurd and odious it stands to this day as the greatest failure in America’s boldly infinite quest for equality.

Barack ObamaObama, son of a black Kenyan man and white mother from Kansas, not only addressed the realities of cultural divides in the most direct of terms, but ripped open wide the scabs that we’ve been less-than gently picking at for decades of riots, marches, assassinations and defiantly booming rhetoric, but also let slip from our subconscious at dining room tables and private parties.

It may have been political suicide. It may have been transparently self-serving. But it was without valid refute brilliantly honest and long overdue.

It had to be said, and it had to be said by him, the first truly legitimate African American presidential candidate.

It also had to be written and spoken as eloquently and forcefully as it was, and it had to be done now.

It had to be done on the heels of one solid week, hour after hour, of rip-roaring lunacy from another religious/politico psycho by the conspicuous name of Jeremiah Wright, former pastor from something called the Trinity United Church of Christ. The man who married Obama, baptized his kids, and originally hailed from the church the candidate has clung to like a life preserver as he was accused from every corner of being a Muslim, as if it were the crime of all crimes, on 60 Minutes, the Internet wilderness, and by his smarmy opponent.

A Muslim? Imagine the horrors of that?

What a crock it all is, this grab-ass cloak of religious righteousness we demand from our public servants, who are forced to lip-service our superstitions and by association are abducted by the cauldron of separatist hate-speech and fire and brimstone diatribes aimed at everything not falling in line.

It is a sick and terrible world we enter in these Houses of the Lord, closed-door meetings of the flock, who look to the pulpit for atavistic pandering submentals to spew personal angst against whatever you’ve got.

So here was Barack Obama, standing in the birthplace of liberty, draped in racist innuendo and religious madness, evoking the words of Thomas Jefferson and William Faulkner, referencing the O.J. Simpson murder trial and the Katrina disaster, deconstructing the social and cultural ramifications of Affirmative Action and Jim Crow, using the widest array of colloquialisms and slang from “gangbanging” to “the laziness of welfare”.

This was history. Real history. Not this fabricated televised nonsense we’re force-fed like lab rats. It was revolution in words. Striking words. Distinct words. No surrender in them. Powerful stuff.

Fucking amazing is what it was. Shockingly, mind-numbingly crazed. I literally laughed out loud during it. Chills and laughter; these are my tenets; the bare essentials of why I wandered into writing about this miserable shit in the first place.

This was history. Real history. Not this fabricated televised nonsense we’re force-fed like lab rats. It was revolution in words. Striking words. Distinct words. No surrender in them. Powerful stuff.

This was a man not only running for president, a black man no less, but a frontrunner down by nearly 20 points in a crucial primary state, peering out into the glare of lights, poised microphones, scribbling pads, and the one-eyed monster that had been tearing pieces from him for seven long days, delivering the goods. This was not a cultural leader like Martin Luther King or a radical voice of a fringe movement like Malcolm X. This was not a professorial university discussion or a stand-up routine by Chris Rock.

This was a minority candidate for president of the United States, and he was not running for cover, offering up rhetorical apologies or lame excuses. He was not rising above the issue like Jackie Robinson or dancing around it like James Brown. Instead, Barack Obama dove headfirst without a hint of remorse, embracing his race while deftly looking beyond it, as his campaign has claimed to strive for since its inception.

It is not even fair to pull quotes from the thing without missing its nuances. It would be like playing you 40 seconds of Miles Davis’ “So What” and pulling the plug or offering up “When I’m Sixty Four” and claiming it captures Sgt. Pepper’s. Fuck that noise. Listen to it. Read it. Watch it. It’s all over the net. If you haven’t seen it all the way through and do not emerge at least in awe of the type of person who dares to provide a tangible, concrete opinion on a passionate, divisive subject while also trying to sucker you out of a vote, then I’m sorry, we’re not watching the same game.

What Obama was able to do for what basically constituted 29 out of 37 minutes (the other eight or nine minutes were admittedly jammed with pandering populist stuff) was box Pastor Wright and everyone who clings to old grudges as some kind of badge of courage, and told them it is time to let go. Change for real. No more of the same anger Baby Boomers harbor for the Left and the Right; the old guard, the has-beens, the jesters on radio and brooding curmudgeons at the typewriters and the creaky bones using up space on Capitol Hill. They all have axes to grind. They all have a point, black and white. Everyone is mad with envy, disdain, fear, and posturing, but Obama says, for his part – and it has steadily become a very significant part in all of this – that he will abstain, thank you very much.

And here is where the purported Candidate of Change officially crosses the generational divide. Here is where if found yourself supporting what has heretofore been a showcase of progressive goofiness, you can begin to believe this guy may actually mean it.

Look, there was always very little chance a black man would ever be elected president of a country forty years removed from his race being denied access to eateries, public bathrooms or hotel accommodations. It is a nothing short of a miracle and a testament to this great nation’s force of progress he stands before a crowd of predominately white middleclass journalists in the city of our birthing and pitches his domestic or international policies much less how and why we are pandemically incapable of looking beyond a person’s skin or gender or religious affiliation in these infant years of the 21st century.

But then isn’t it ever more shocking when you consider America currently fights and dies halfway across the globe in a desert where the kind of religious, racial and cultural chasm has grown as a cancer for centuries, while we are less than two centuries removed from our own bloody Civil War.

Glory, glory, Halleluiah. Indeed.

 

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Democrats Are Burning – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 3/19/08 REALITY CHECK

THE DEMOCRATS ARE BURNING Same Ol' ShowThe unabated immolation of the Democratic Party, ceremoniously sparked with extreme prejudice by the Clinton Machine two weeks ago, has now officially become a raging firestorm. From prostitution rings to racist blather and return salvos of “monster”, the flames of remorse will soon swallow up everything in its path. Before the first cherry blossoms bloom in Washington DC, whatever is left of this rancid collection of rogues, creeps, felons, and dumb asses will likely be the better part of cinder.

Ah, poor Eliot Spitzer. He needs it rough, and not just hair-pulling, ass-slapping rough. It’s games the governor needs. Adult games, chaired by professionals utilizing tools of the trade, the varied sort one cannot transport on a post-9/11 flight anymore. And the girls are harder to come by these days too. The really discreet ones with the bravest hearts have to be purchased and shuffled across state lines via railway on the tax-payer tab, laundered from several bogus companies and check-listed by text-message.

It is high times for a man of lawful pursuits, full of zest to clean things up and set right the ways of the universe. Vices don’t come cheap for crusaders.

We have come a long way from the honorable Horatio Seymour or Samuel J. Tilden, who likely entertained fantasies of being tied up in baby bonnets and slapped around like the dirty little maggots they truly were, but apparently were fortunate enough not to be cursed with the Dipshit Gene. It is a nasty affliction spawned by power and hubris, something we have seen all-too prevalently in our elected officials as of late, perhaps to the point of prompting a telethon to combat it.

Wake up Jerry Lewis, we have a problem.

The Dipshit Gene, an endemic side effect of political theater for centuries, has recently wreaked its havoc on the former governor of New Jersey, who enjoyed the odd Israeli boy between illegal land grabs and backroom pay-offs. It has also claimed a Republican Idaho senator, who found a sliver of wiggle room in his anti-gay pogrom to troll insatiable delights from airport men’s room stalls. Then there was the Florida congressman, who could not help but solicit the lurid notations of teenaged boys. And who could forget the senator from Louisiana taking time from his moral outrage to accrue a hefty escort service bill of his own.

All the names are well documented, and their tales, all-too familiar, and, sadly, their wives all-too compliant to the obligatory press conference frown.

Oh, the Dipshit Gene has its collateral damage victims aplenty. Time after agonizing time we see these wounded heroines standing beside their shamed men with solemn expression and a curious but unyielding determination; an excellent example to all the young girls out there just waiting to get their talons into a rich and influential up-and-comer, only to be publicly humiliated as the useless prop they will become.

Oh Lord, how many more of these educated, ambitious young women will be felled by this endless parade of slobbering cretins? How many more of them will set the bar lower for a limping women’s movement left to defend college basketball players at the mercy of evil radio geeks?

Watching the mortal remains of Silda Spitzer, a proud graduate of Harvard Law and mother of the disgraced governor’s children, covered from head-to-toe with heaps of Dipshit run-off, one had to be reminded of Hillary Rodham Clinton postulating weird Right Wing Conspiracy theories on the Today Show circa 1998 in defense of her husband’s chronic misogyny.

Oh Lord, how many more of these educated, ambitious young women will be felled by this endless parade of slobbering cretins? How many more of them will set the bar lower for a limping women’s movement left to defend college basketball players at the mercy of evil radio geeks?

The questions abound. And perhaps it was the sting and tenor of those questions that rendered mad the furious nonsense tumbling from the maw of former Democratic VP nominee and now former Clinton fundraiser, Geraldine Ferraro. In a coincidental mental fart worthy of Grandpa Simpson, Ferraro made it clear on three straight speaking engagements from a podium, on the radio, and then to something called the Daily Breeze that Barack Obama is the cheap bi-product of an African-American bamboozle.

“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,” a reportedly drug-free Ferraro told the Torrance, California paper. “And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”

It was soon after this beer-spit idiocy hit pavement that Ferraro completely lost whatever is left of her atrophied mind and claimed she was somehow misinterpreted. Of course, never in her neck-wrenching backtrack did she explain what else she could have meant; maybe it was that Obama “wears black” or prefers “black automobiles” or that the knuckle-dragging mutant who claimed Bill Clinton was “the first black president” has rendered Hillary black by association. Hey, it could have transpired during all those crucial years of alleged experience she compiled while cleaning out the White House vases.

But the news wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Clintons, who have stumbled four ways to Sunday to deny, eulogize or duck their association with Spitzer and Ferraro. Ferraro is chump change. It was Spitzer; a soon-to-be subtracted Super Delegate in the Clinton Camp, whose insane suggestion that New York State issue licenses to criminals a few months back transformed the Unsinkable Madam Shoo-In into the last-chance kamikaze pilot she is now forced to be.

Mere days before the Spitzer revelations and the Ferraro meltdown, an Obama foreign policy aid and campaign big-shot, Samantha Power unforgivably forgot that journalists print conversations in newspapers and told one of these types that Ms. Hillary was “a monster”, putting the Clinton Machine into combat mode and throat-jumped that thing down all of our gizzards for close to a week.

This was the clearest evidence there are cracks in the Teflon Master Barack and the faintest hope that stealing this nomination is still alive and well for April 22, a mind-screwing six weeks away.

Meanwhile, as the Republican Party chants “Burn baby burn!” with every match added to the already spreading wildfires, the tanned and rested John McCain collects his fundraising checks, smoothes the Conservative wounds, and plans a diplomatic cross-globe trek, which will cement any question he is a man of experience and sober ideals.

And to think, we have re-votes in Michigan and Florida to come.

Florida? It’s tough enough for these people to vote correctly the first time.

Burn baby burn.

 

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Hillary Is New Factory Girl – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 3/12/08 REALITY CHECK

THE EMPEROR’S NEW FACTORY GIRL
Smoke, Mirrors & The Madam Shoo-In Shuck Jive Express

I’m just getting warmed up. – Hillary Rodham Clinton 2/27/08

There is only one book ever written worth a damn on the subject of politics, The Shining. It is a gritty tale detailing the illusion of controlling one’s environment and trading on addiction to make the malleable concept of reality your bitch. It is also a deep study in survival at any cost and a grim warning that whatever beautiful temptress emerges from the bathtub of Room 237, it will always turn into a wretched hag oozing with boils.

Dragon Lady RevivedIt is a book every wide-eyed young voter and late-arriving cheerleader for change must read before studying what will now be a brutal dismantling of their fragile sense of hope in the meat-grinding cesspool of real American democracy. It is a book The Clintons know well. It has defined their celebrity, put them in the game, and help them turn mere elections into Stephen King’s drunken metaphoric contradiction; Jack Torrence stumbling down the hallway wielding a mallet and screaming about love.

The jig is up, kids. No more Apple Pie for the stupid and naive. The gremlins are in charge of your precious CHANGE mantra now. How do you like your groundswell, grass roots good times replaced by the fumes of recidivist device, shady accusation, and a cadre of lawyers poised to challenge everything you claim to hold dear after two months of falling head over heals for The Process.

Don’t ask Howard Dean, chairman of the now tattered and reeking Democratic National Committee, who harbored silly dreams of nailing down a meteoric candidate filled with glitter and purpose, speeding like a silver bullet into the heart of a Republican stranglehold on national presidential politics.

Dean had two shots; this summer with the ceremonious crowning of Queen Hillary and one lousy week ago when Barack Obama appeared as unstoppable a young and brash candidate as any of us has ever seen. But now he sports the look of a San Francisco cabbie coming to grips with the horror of faulty brakes. And he is in no mood to tell you about it. Believe me, I tried more than once. He ain’t talking, and neither are the rest of the poor suckers rooting to cash in on the choking fumes of George W. Bush.

Remember the original Captain Shoo-In? Sure you do. He’s still in charge thanks to the Ohio Voter, who ushered him back into office despite four years of painfully obvious damage. The Ohio Voter can make things happen. “As goes Ohio, so goes…” The Ohio Voter historically regurgitates every festering gargoyle to hold the highest office. The Ohio Voter has spoken: Madam Shoo-In lives to fight, and fight she will, to the ultimate detriment of every possible equation her constituency strives for; unseating the Republicans from the White House and restructuring what has been for half a century a corrupt and ill-run Democratic Party.

That is all over now; trampled under the boot of laughably myopic television ads depicting a comforting mother hen keeping your children from certain death, cherry-picked mudslinging from Canadian interoffice memos, and cleverly disguised discussions on the horrors of Islam. It is all over because whatever pie-in-the-sky notion the Democrats were scheming to sell as a Movement or an Independent Force will be on trial for three agonizing months of P.T. Barnum’s Parade of Oddities.

This is the raw, ugly, and violent world of politics I’ve come to know, and in some sick twist of ignominious fate, love. Not all this goofy appeal to the masses about generational progress and the evolution of thought. It is cheap body blows lobbed from smiling harpies on late-night variety shows changing masks on the fly: Queen Of Inevitability, Weeping Damsel, Sleeve-Rolling Actuary, Wounded Media Victim, Lunch-Pail Factory Girl.

This Democratic Party nomination process, whatever comes of it, is no longer about choosing a candidate that can achieve victory in the national campaign. It is about entitlement and anger and chaos and creating a vacuum of delusion to allow a flawed retread candidate to gain the high ground. It is Karl Rove’s wet dream — Change the dialogue, ignore reason, and circle the wagons. It is also his puppet-boy, Baby Bush’s fanatical idea of warfare illustrated with imbecilic glory in The Surge; claim victory in the face of a rudderless strategy ad infinitum.

Two weeks ago there was some discussion, much of it in this space, that Hillary Clinton had two ways to go: A) Succumb to the immutable truth of math and realize she could never achieve the allotted pledged delegates needed to overtake Obama, and recede into the humbled statesman her deranged husband could never be, uniting the party and forging a bright political future as the most powerful legislator in the American landscape. B) Abandon all decorum to rip and shred her opponent, raising doubt and remolding the way-of-the waves to her own cirque-due-soleil in the feint hope she could circumvent the system and forcibly abduct her prize.

She chose B. Overwhelmingly so. And, apparently by some queer force of mind-bending fortune, to the tune of a two-to-one late arriving undecided vote in both Ohio and Texas, which after 20 debates and as many months of campaigning is so off-the-charts asinine it bears study.

Mostly, she chose Fear, Dirt, Guilt, and Doubt, the core instincts of the American Vote manifested in the heart of the Ohio Voter and now spread like wild fire all over what can now officially be described as the final bell for the collective scam of Momentum and Inevitability.

That ship has sailed for the Democrats. This is going all the way to Pennsylvania, seven more tormented weeks of nasty backbiting, lower blows and bellowing headlines of hidden tax records, questionable liaisons, voter fraud, stump cheating, and the dangerous weakening of both doomed hopefuls. To April 22 and beyond, all the way to the convention in late August; pecking and spitting and kicking and whining, and, dread of all dreads; pathetic court battles or an inevitable costly re-vote in Michigan and Florida; vital national election swing states utilized as political torture chambers.

How this helps either Clinton or Obama is anyone’s guess. Some say it strengthens the candidates. Some also say the earth is flat and Oswald acted alone. Some people are still looking for hairy bipedal humanoid creatures inhabiting the greater northwest, but they are dumb and in need of care or chemistry. Three months of this spastic horseshit will help only one candidate; John Sidney McCain III. He sits pretty, running the first unopposed national campaign; unquestioned, undeterred, and earning money — not spending it wildly across the Pocono Mountains grinding mincemeat out of whatever unlucky sap might survive it.

So now that we have video of Madam Shoo-In saying only she and the Republican nominee can lead the free world, the earth has returned to its familiar axis. We can all get down to picking another Democratic runner-up in the grand tradition of McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry. This is the raw, ugly, and violent world of politics I’ve come to know, and in some sick twist of ignominious fate, love. Not all this goofy appeal to the masses about generational progress and the evolution of thought. It is cheap body blows lobbed from smiling harpies on late-night variety shows changing masks on the fly: Queen Of Inevitability, Weeping Damsel, Sleeve-Rolling Actuary, Wounded Media Victim, Lunch-Pail Factory Girl.

The now infamous Billary “Kitchen Sink” policy of dragging the lofty, spit-shine Master Barack Show into the quagmire of old-time political theater is in full swing. Get on board or get the fuck out.

Know this, you people who cherish the flimsy ideals of The Vote; The Clinton Machine didn’t just muddy the waters in Ohio and Texas, but commandeered the delicately structured Peace Train that might have written a far different manifesto against a rubber-stamp war fiend like John McCain and drove it into a ditch. Let’s all say it together; Here’s Johnny!

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Inpendence Rules – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 2/27/08 REALITY CHECK

THE CHEESEHEAD VICTORY LAPObama & McCain In Driver’s Seat

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

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

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

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

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

What the hell is happening here?

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

But I did not. Not yet. Not now.

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

What the hell is happening?

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

Not now. Not yet.

At least not on the Democratic side.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the hell is going on here?

Hillary knows.

And this is why the man keeps smiling.

 

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Inpendence Rules – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 2/20/08 REALITY CHECK

INDEPENDENCE RULES

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

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

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

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

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

So how did we get here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where is the Union vote?

Where are the anti-gay voices?

Where is the gun lobby?

Where is the entitlement threat?

Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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McCain Seals Deal – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 2/13/08 REALITY CHECK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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McCain Seals Deal – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 2/6/08 REALITY CHECK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now John McCain is a pariah?

Please.

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

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

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

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

If…

Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course, this could be avoided.

If…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If…

 

 

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The Heart & Soul Of Democrats (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 1/30/08 REALITY CHECK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

LAST WEEK: THE HEART & SOUL OF REPUBLICANS

 

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The Heart & Soul Of Republicans (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 1/23/08 REALITY CHECK

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

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

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

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

Well…?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repeat: Not yet.

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

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

NEXT WEEK: THE HEART & SOUL OF DEMOCRATS

 

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