We Want John Bolton

Aquarian Weekly 5/4/05 REALITY CHECK

WE WANT BOLTONAmerica The Ugly Has Spoken

John BoltonNot even the most optimistic Democrat on Capitol Hill thinks the rabidly vilified John Bolton won’t be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. They fully comprehend, as well as the realists among them that he represents the will of the people. This past November we rubber stamped the mean, war crazy jingoists, and damn it, if we don’t deserve our pit bull to crack a few heads around the United Nations then what was the point of voting George W. Bush back into office in the first place? It sure wasn’t his stellar economic record or a stirring command of the English language.

We have political capitol here. Didn’t the memo go out? Wasn’t there a general e-mail head’s up received on this? We voted. Bush won. He won on a record of boorish and aggressively dangerous behavior, combative and unyielding to anything resembling sober reason. This is obviously the agenda. He is also God’s choice. What is the argument? Let’s get on with it already.

Look, no one around here gives half a shit about the latest and greatest independent intelligence report that proves for the hundredth time that this government went mad over flimsy evidence to wage a money pit war on Iraq. Fuck that noise. We needed to crush the Evil Doers, or at least the Evil Doers that peeved off the president’s daddy, and, as a result, we’re more than willing to bankroll the rebuilding of it for the next two decades no matter what. So save all your bleeding heart analysis for the French hippie freaks. We want Bolton.

We want the “quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy”. He represents the American spirit; uncompromising, self-aggrandizing, quick to judgment, and conveniently patriotic. His ambitions are our ambitions. Three million more of us put any doubts of this to rest on Election Day, and a couple of thousand more Ohio residents made it law. If Captain Shoo-In wants John Bolton, an oft-quoted anti-UN big mouth to kick the ass all over the world stage than so be it. You think those kids who come back in boxes every day from the Middle East or the family members they leave behind care who we piss off after two years of bloodshed?

Grow up.

There’s a new sheriff in town, and he has the badge to prove it. The proverbial cards are on the table. John Bolton is aces up and the pot goes to Washington DC.

This is the New World now. We don’t fiddle around with diplomacy. We have The Dick Chaney School of Batten Down The Hatches & Hang On To The Women & Children, Here Comes The U. S. of A. international view for ya. It’s the 9/11 blank check theory of foreign policy, and its here to stay, so deal with it. Maybe the rest of the planet should have gotten on board when we were scrambling around like lunatics looking for scapegoats. Then there would be no need for outcry and long Congressional hearings that frivolously spend our tax money on done deals.

Yeah, I know, Bolton screams and yells at secretaries and doesn’t particularly care about playing nice with other government agencies and he may or may not have treated Colin Powell like his bitch. It’s a small price to pay to jam a first class jerk off into the malaise of the United Nations. Give it a little spit shine and weaken its resolve to keep us from gutting the world to protect our interests. We’ve been cow towing to these fossils for far too long. We’re the muscle and the money of that operation, so instead of sitting around making pretty, its time to stop all the silly role playing and finally show the rest of this poor, docile planet who’s boss.

The administration and its mouthpieces like to call this appointment and its fallout Reform. We are reforming the United Nations. It is a way of reminding everyone that its main headquarters resides on our soil, a few blocks from where the towers went down and all this craziness ensued. Reforming means no more begging to enact our will on things. No more meetings. No more dancing for our supper. We are reforming the UN from ostensibly being an objective international forum to our blind handmaidens. It’s our address that bares the checks sent all over the place to combat famine and pestilence and it is our army that ousts beret-wearing religious war mongers, so we’re going to make some changes around here.

You know, Reform.

The mask is off. We no longer appear to peddle global compassion, while doing whatever the hell we want. Now we come hard, without the song and story. No more fancy pants chats or teary-eyed speeches from phonies like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. We have the Texas Oil Man in charge; the Shit-Kicker King. He is our hero. He is the savior of the Western World. The British know it; now so will everyone else slow on the take, like the Democrats, who still think they have a say in this.

Those woefully uniformed who are left out there will now finally know what kind of bulldozer is coming to rearrange the furniture, get acquainted with the Bull/China Shop policies we got going here. No one will dare feign surprise about what kind of mayhem follows. There’s a new sheriff in town, and he has the badge to prove it. The proverbial cards are on the table. John Bolton is aces up and the pot goes to Washington DC.

Cue the madman with the axe, taking chunks from the bathroom door.

“Heeeeeere’s Johnny.”

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The Government & Terry Shiavo

Aquarian Weekly 3/30/05 REALITY CHECK

DECONTRUCTING THE CONSTITUTIONHow The God Fascists Are Trampling On Your Inalienable Rights

Tom DelayThe powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. – Amendment X United States Constitution

“I was in the house when the house burned down.” – Warren Zevon

This government’s deconstruction of the Bill of Rights and Constitution since 9/11/01 has been outright oppressive and downright criminal. It has managed to make a complete mockery of Amendment IV and Amendment I, and now the 109th Congress has seen fit to ignore Amendment X in a grandstanding political maneuver so patently absurd it bares serious scrutiny by the members of this republic.

The Terri Schiavo case is the very reason I repeatedly tell friends and colleagues to read their constitution. Read it every day. Download it off the Internet, take it out of the library, buy a hand pocket version of it, and get to know it well. It is all that stands between you and government tyranny or the wonton desires of fanatics. And this, my friends and colleagues, is the age of King George and the God Fascists. The Enlightenment is in a shambles. Superstition and false morals have invaded the system like parasitic vermin. Get it in writing, team up the lawyers, and be willing to fight dirty.

This is no time for outrage or long-winded speeches. This is a time for reflection and reaction both personal and public. It is time we put our houses in order, ready our muskets and wait for the hordes to come charging over the mountain, because they have long begun their ascent, and it does not look to be abated by law or reason.

Know this: Elections and sedition are for sheep. Wolves earn freedom. It’s time for a serious uprising.

The blind audacity of the federal government to halt its tasks for the will of the people and suspend the law of the land while the president of the United States rushes in at the eleventh hour to sign law based on an individual case of state rights is martial law. Period. The irony is that this is a Republican run federal government, which claims in its stringent platform to defend state rights and reduce the powers of the federal government.

Whle you chew on that one let me take a moment to point out that I do not agree with the actions of the subject’s husband. He doesn’t want to divorce this poor woman, so he demands she starve to death? This is a murder of convenience. This is not a mercy killing. If someone is unable to function and has a living will that stipulates they want to pull the plug, so be it. This is not one of those cases. Also, I would like to make clear I do not agree with the woman’s parents either. By law, and this is why I am so adamant that the denial of basic civil rights to gay marriage is so egregiously unconstitutional, a spouse has full and complete rights. This is not negotiable, nor should it be.

The Terri Schiavo case is the very reason I repeatedly tell friends and colleagues to read their constitution. Read it every day. It is all that stands between you and government tyranny or the wonton desires of fanatics.

But make no mistake; this is a clear case for the state’s court system. This is why we have it. Checks and balances. Simple civics. Look it up. The federal government has three basic functions, uphold the constitution, protect the borders and deliver the mail. One out of three is not good enough.

The funny thing is the federal government’s failure to protect the borders on 9/11 has caused it to usurp power and enact crazed laws all over the joint, from the vague terminology of the Patriot Act to the loosely translated use of the military. These leans on civil liberties are not ideological – conservative nor liberal, they are unconstitutional. They are above the law. Just like congress sticking its nose in Major League Baseball over drug abuse when dozens of businesses in this country piss all over the environment, create new and improved toxins for us to inhale and ingest, openly steal money from stockholders and farm out manufactured labor to Dickensian work camps all over the Third World. How about the FCC imposing $500,000 fines for ambiguous indecency standards while huge foreign conglomerates own 70% of the airwaves and the White House infiltrates news programming with fully-produced propaganda schlock?

Am I the only one who is incensed at these sanctimonious cretins pointing fingers and riling up the locals on certain issues, while blatantly ignoring others? Am I the only sap who gets miffed when shitheels like Tom Delay run roughshod over the ethics of his office while working diligently to block an investigation, and then has the unmitigated gall to stand before the American people and talk about morals as if he invented them?

I’m also not amused at this nonsense about the sanctity of life. Oh, boy, these phonies can’t wait to wave that tattered flag at you. Then you realize that 40 million Americans are currently denied health care and their government has done nothing to even investigate it. They did manage to pass a Medicare bill last year that handed the pharmaceutical companies a blank check, but that was when morals took a back seat to Calvin Coolidge’s axiom that “the business of America is business”.

All this noise about Terri Schiavo is just that, noise. It has no legal merit, and morally it is thorny and sad. I detest the details as much as the next guy, but she should not be a political football for the federal government. This incessant meddling and horseplay with its power and reach has gone above and beyond for too many consecutive months to let it stand much longer. And although I am all for the federal government intervening when an entire race of people are denied civil rights, it is not for the government to intercede on the behalf of one person who does not effect the general populace.

Finally, if I may be so bold, it needs to be mentioned that Shiavo is in this condition because she was a world-class bulimic, resulting in heart failure and irreversible brain damage. She destroyed herself by her own free will, kind of like an alcoholic or a junky. And I ask you, how much of a furor would the Moral God Police be whipping up if this were a hobo junky from Harlem?

I wager none.

Now, let’s all hop off the high horse and get back to screwing up Social Security reform and spending our money like drunken sailors.

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Condoleezza Rice Spins

Aquarian Weekly 3/23/05 REALITY CHECK


Secretary of ShiteI feel for Condoleezza Rice. I really do. I like her. I think she is by far the smartest and most sincere of the wild and wooly Bush Cabal. And as allegedly misguided as she was along with everyone else at the helm before 9/11, I believe she was just another sad symptom of the illusion this country’s government had lived under since the end of the Cold War.

But it pains me to see her eat shit the way she has time and again in front of the American press, the international press and a host of world leaders. Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State, could no longer eat the shit. This is why he is gone. But Rice auditioned well for the job during the 9/11 hearings when she went toe-to-toe with Democratic senators on “what the big boys knew and when they knew it”, prancing deftly around facts and timelines that showcased her considerable mettle and loyalty to the cause by gobbling massive quantities of excrement and emerging as a martyr for the good and true.

Don’t get me wrong; Secretary of State is a pretty good reason to eat shit. Hillary Clinton feasted on the stuff just to be first lady. Most people do it to keep a mid-level gig in some faceless corporation. Secretary of State is a few heartbeats from the presidency and comes with a cachet rarely, if ever bestowed upon intellects. Former recent secretaries like Henry Kissinger (Nixon’s savage bombing of Cambodia), Cyrus Vance (Carter’s disastrously planned rescue attempt of the Iran hostages) and George Shultz (Reagan’s Iran/Contra fiasco) gorged on the dung. Piles of it. And not one of them is getting into to heaven for it.

But I was not particularly fond of any of these gentlemen, and I never got the willies as I do now watching sweet Condoleezza parade these spin doctored fabrications around the globe like a jabbering marionette. It is sad and disturbing and I can no longer abide it quietly.

To wit:

On the leading candidate for Iraqi Prime Minister, Ibrahim Jafari, a “former” terrorist (former terrorist like being kinda pregnant or sorta dead) and well-known American foreign policy dissenter (a nice way of saying “hates us”) Rice has been laughably extolling his virtues to defend the purported democratic process. Last week Rice stated that Jafari “will be a fighter in the war on terrorism”, which is completely antithetical to the profile the CIA is willing to cop to and just plain silly talk.

The fact is a toad like Jafari and the predominant Shiite presence in the Iraqi democratic process creates another sort of anti-American political conundrum for the current administration. This is why falling back on the “fighting for the freedom of Iraqis” fable following the flop of the “US threat and WMD” song and story leads to wider problems. Not the least of which is Iran, considered among many US officials for close to a decade as the “real enemy”, now developing a nuclear bomb with no counterbalance from a weakened Iraq.

Oh what a tangled web we weave…

Concerning the uprising against Syrian troops stationed in Lebanon, a fishy stage show reminiscent of CIA-instigated protests in Central America for three decades and a cheap political attempt by the Bush administration to label a “victory for freedom”, and the subsequent mass retort provoked by the terrorist all-stars known as Hezbollah, Rice is coy. At once she manages to denounce Hezbollah as a “rogue terrorist outfit threatening to the United States” while responding to its legitimate political power recognized by the UN as a shoulder-shrugging downside of the democratic process. Rice knows well the powder keg that is Lebanon, and to spin a freedom march from the obvious seeds of another likely bloody civil war is so patently ridiculous not even this loose canon president is dumb enough to sell it.

Rice’s dance of the absurd is in lock step with the fantasy this administration has concocted since its many-layered theory of war two years ago in Iraq.

Truth is Lebanon has been, and always will be a breeding ground for anti-Israeli fervor. Syria’s military presence, while abhorrent to the new and improved Middle East freedom chatter of this government, is a necessary evil for the security of Israel and American concerns there. Despite Syria’s disdain for Israel, ironically, after years of horror in Beirut, the Syrians brought order and managed to expunge the IDF, leading to immense popularity and more than a little anti-American sentiment. But there was also a sense of lockdown, sovereignty, and protection. Left to its own devices, the Lebanese could prove more troublesome to US efforts in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict than most know, except Condoleezza Rice. She knows.

Rice’s recent appearance on “Meet The Press” had her chewing on chunks of crap when faced with the administration’s proposed appointment of a lunatic like John Bolton to ambassador of the United Nations. “He has a wealth of experience in UN affairs”, Rice told Tim Russert, which is tantamount to saying Michael Jackson is familiar with children. Bolton, known inside the Beltway as Bush’s Pit Bull, has publicly mocked the UN, calling it, among other undiplomatic descriptions, “obsolete”. Yet Bush, after grandstanding international unity all over Europe last month to help pay for the Iraq money pit, is sending this maniac into the cauldron of a corrupt and bitch-slapped conglomerate reeling with a lethal dose of figureheaditis. Rice, for her part, is rubber-stamping Bolton as “a very important part of my team.”

Anyone who listens to Bolton for 30 seconds knows he is an ass. He is the worst kind of myopic bully, the type of ideologically rabid monster this space warned against should Bush continue to run amok around this planet. If he is unleashed on the international scene he will no doubt be an embarrassment to an already yawping farce, and it is disconcerting to me that a brilliant and normally even-handed Condoleezza Rice has to vouch for it.

…when first we practice to deceive.

Rice’s dance of the absurd is in lock step with the fantasy this administration has concocted since its many-layered theory of war two years ago in Iraq. This maze of circular logic unleashed on the American public is so convoluted in patriotic pap by now it defies definition. Alas, Condee rides the dragon, and I feel for her.

In the spirit of this thorny trap, Rice has taken to calling the current opium-rich, unprecedented production of drugs in Afghanistan (described haughtily as a victory in freedom during the presidential campaign) as “a narcotics problem”. Yes, and Anne Boleyn had a headache. She also dubs Korea a “willing negotiator” sounding more and more everyday like Chamberlain handing Hitler Eastern Europe on a platter.

I have found it in my heart to forgive Rice for trying to tame this monstrosity, the way I gave Powell the benefit of several doubts before he went off the rails at the UN with tall-tales that embroiled this country in a bankrupt police action under questionable pretenses. My leash, irresistibly short for the authors of this mess, is longer for bureaucrats of the system, but for sweet Condoleezza and the looking glass on Pennsylvania Avenue, the slack is tightening.

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Explaining Media Liberal Bias

Aquarian Weekly 3/16/05 REALITY CHECK

LIBERAL BIAS IN THE MEDIA Explaining The Obvious To The Uninitiated

Dan RatherThe exit of embattled CBS news anchor Dan Rather this past week has renewed age-old discussions on liberal bias in the media. This always brings a smile to my face, for I, as consequence of experience, have always known that the accusation rings hollow in the sense that if by painting the press with one bold ideological brush stroke will somehow force it en masse to either back off its alleged job as public watch dog or make it more rancorous against the purveyors of liberalism. This has never been the case, nor will it ever be, no matter how many Dan Rathers are thrown under the bus, anymore than the moral lunacy of the right will be curtailed by revelations that Bill Bennett is a terminal gambling freak.

I have no love for Dan Rather. I met him once about 20 years ago, maybe more. I don’t remember. It was long before he was stomped by thugs on Park Avenue for failure to acknowledge “Kenneth’s frequency”, but long after he started a mosh pit on the floor of the ’68 Democratic Convention. He was perfectly cordial. I never saw him as an elitist or even that passionate about anything, really, least of all frequencies or punk music. He was a newsman. You can identify their species from a mile away. No sense of humor or fashion, myopic dinks with a tinge of nervous energy you might misconstrue for pretension. I don’t think he wanted anything more from life. None of these people do. They live for news; disaster, murder, political suicide, celebrity implosion. Personally, I never forgave Rather for that farcical report on the 20th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination in which he presided over a theater of the absurd proving “without a shadow of a doubt” that Oswald acted alone. Honestly, its fictitious zest made the Bush National Guard Papers seem tame by comparison. But that’s my problem.

Sure Rather is a liberal. So were Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow, Jacob Riis and Walter Winchell, Margaret Fuller and Ernie Pile. Most reporters, journalists, newspersons are liberal. Unless you’ve studied or practiced this craft, it is apparently hard to grasp. This is true of yammering asses like William McGowan or Bernard Goldberg, neither of whom know the first thing about reporting the news, but answered a curious calling to write books featuring “in-depth analysis” of American journalism. Some might call this stupid. I concur. These poor saps are busy discussing party politics in the cauldron of human nature, a folly if there ever was one.

In order to get up for a life of reporting, one must believe one can/will change the world, make government work diligently for the people, expose the bad guys, celebrate the common man, while repeatedly taking shots at the rich and powerful for the general good. It is a tough calling in a country where the rich and powerful run things, make laws and do whatever the fuck rich and powerful wants. This is an acceptable reason for the remainder of journalists not already raging alcoholics or recovering from some kind of addiction to barely cling to a last remaining shred of sanity.

Shitty hours, crappy pay, lunatic editors and horrific travel routes will leave even the most centered among us with a flimsy excuse for optimism. Believe me, when you’re dealing with the sickness of the human psyche on meager wages and no sleep, you are bound to steer your allegiance to things like civil rights, government programs, underdog causes, conspiracy theories, counterculture pursuits, etc. Big Business, Real Estate Moguls, Religious Fervor, Military Industrial Complexes, Imperial Foreign Policies, and the odd nasty political malfeasance tend to rile these creatures up.

Shitty hours, crappy pay, lunatic editors and horrific travel routes will leave even the most centered among us with a flimsy excuse for optimism.

This is why most of the modern American newspaper chains were launched by Socialists back when Socialism meant power to the people and the rejection of money and progress running roughshod over natural resources, human dignity, and the truth. There was always a sense among the originals that the press would not only keep the tyranny suffered under King George at bay, ala the searing pamphlet by the first subversive patriot Thomas Paine, but it must also force the issue of change and progress like the printed abolitionist movement from brave souls like Horace Greeley, who started the Herald Tribune as a daily anti-slavery rant or Mary Livermore who published the Woman’s Journal as the genesis of suffrage.

Journalists are also skeptics. They need proof for stuff. Lovely and warming concepts like God, country, and apple pie don’t swing a good reporter. It’s the facts, ma’m. The beauty of skepticism leads to edification through research and training in diverse thought (another key reason people keep missing for why most American universities or higher learning institutes breed liberal idealism). Not accepting tenets on face value, to question everything from traditions to subtle to overt forms of bigotry is the foundation of journalism and, for that matter, a free society for which journalism is supposed to serve.

It always struck me as odd that people do not bat an eye when conservative thought enters free enterprise or fiscal responsibility (sans military build-up and corporate stock and tax fraud) but yet find it necessary to debate the leanings of journalists.

But saying that liberal optimists who have convinced themselves that what they do is important for the survival of the republic and not for greed or fame or notoriety is not necessarily true either. Every news jockey in this country would trade some part of himself or herself professionally to get ahead, find a bigger audience and translate that into cash. This is especially true in American journalism.

I personally know heavy leftists who lied to FOX News, the National Review or the Washington Times to get a gig in a more conservative news organization, and vice versa to get gigs at the Village Voice, the New York Times, or Newsweek, more liberal publications.

So, in the end, the publicity monsters like Pulitzer and Hearst still beat in the chests of our journalists, who begin their journey of reporting with all the wide-eyed cheer of the most naïve college sap and end up voracious capitalistic fundamentalists. It’s a crude journey, even for someone like Dan Rather, whose only crime was laziness and the false sense that being rich and powerful makes you resistant to accountability.

That kind of armor is reserved for the presidency.

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A Citizen’s Guide to Tax Reparations

Aquarian Weekly 2/9/05 REALITY CHECK

TORCH SONG OF THE MONEY WISEA Citizen’s Guide to Fair Tax Reparations

“We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.”– James Madison

“Pay me, sucka.” – Muddy “Mississippi” Waters

My attempt two years ago to secede from the union failed miserably. Some bullshit about landowner’s rights and state dues and back taxes, loop holes all. The best attorneys I could find in the tri-state area were felled, leaving me to write off 250 yards of barbed wire and six long months of trying to wrest a work visa for my wife out of the State Department. Heavily maligned and poorly executed as it was, my reasons were well argued and my solvency was good, but New Jersey is a tough nut to crack. Ask our last governor, who played the gay card and was sent packing. Suffice to say; if you want to claim your meager patch of land as a separate nation, sans an application to the UN and a working military, it is nearly impossible on this soil. Trust me on this.

However, in the spirit of such a bold move, this year I will attempt to recoup any personally earned or gained moneys funneled into the Social Security fund for the past quarter century plus with the caveat that I will ask for nothing from the United States treasury when my time is due.

It is important to note; whether this government restructures Social Security or crosses its collective finger for the future, it will not longer be my concern. I certainly hope things work out for the rest of you. I’ll be happy to keep tabs on the results for this gig, but for now I wish to take personal action and pull up stakes.

To this end, the letter I drafted and submitted through my congressman is lengthy, boring and mostly pointless. The highlight is thus:

“I wish to extract any funds I have heretofore put into this forecasted bankrupt mechanism of government. I will pay any penalties, sign any affidavit, and secure any insurance needed for such a transaction. You will never have to worry about me again. I shan’t come crawling back with my hand out. Enclosed is my Social Security Card to be turned in with extreme malice. This is not a joke or a symbolic gesture of dissent. I want my money and I want it now.”

We’ll see how that goes.

When I pay for an automobile and it breaks down every day and the radio doesn’t work and the brakes are faulty I don’t allow the dealer to tell me to “hang in there” and “the thing moves in a forward motion, so that is some sort of victory, no?” I chuckle and demand a refund.

In the meantime, it is important to note that all this decrying of Social Security lately, years too late for my blood, has to take a back seat to the money pit that is Iraq.

Anyone calling the 1/30 election there a victory is not familiar with the term. Victory, according to Webster’s is “an achievement of mastery”. Although it is a miraculous achievement that the country was not burned to cinder with rivers of blood running in the streets of Baghdad, I would not call the voting process a victory.

Here’s how I define victory:

Remove US troops from the equation and have another one of these babies. Let freedom ring, so to speak. Then we’ll have a fair result of political expression. If I had armored guards surrounding me I could sleep comfortably on Webster Avenue in the Bronx with two grand in my pocket. Some might call that urban safety; others might deem it a fixed game. I side with the latter’s camp on that one.

Granted, I expect our president, the architect and CEO of this doomed operation, to call it a victory. At this point he would be wise to call the safe passage of camels and one-legged peasants to the Euphrates a victory. But ignoring the company spin line, I agree with one thing King George has decreed time and again; the birth of a democracy is hard. There was plenty of bloodletting here in the first few attempts at voting. Jesus, this republic went nearly a decade with no constitution, bill of rights, an army, or anything resembling a federal government. It was fun times for anarchists, land barons and religious folk, but it wasn’t a nation, and neither will Iraq be until the foreigners get the hell out.

Until then I suspend optimism and look to aggressively recover my investment on this abortion, especially in the wake of hearing talk there will be another $30 billion needed from the taxpayers to continue policing chaos.

No sir, not me. I’m done paying for this thing. I’ve seen the results. Not a big fan. When I pay for an automobile and it breaks down every day and the radio doesn’t work and the brakes are faulty I don’t allow the dealer to tell me to “hang in there” and “the thing moves in a forward motion, so that is some sort of victory, no?” I chuckle and demand a refund.

This is a case for an old fashioned do-over. I no longer want my money going toward this thing. If all the flag-wavers want in, great! Good luck to you. Count me out.

That’s right, I’m on record: I do not support our troops. Shudder if you must, but at this point anyone choosing a free trip in uniform to the Middle East over prison does not get my support. My pity? Yes. My sympathy? Absolutely. Support? No more. No how.

I choose instead to ignore the pentagon, these silly Donald Rumsfeld press conferences and whatever statistics anyone wants to e-mail to me on either side of the debate, and object conscientiously.

As a stockholder in this country and its actions here and abroad, I will happily wave my right to sue the company on misuse of funds and misleading investors on the length and breath of things if I can simply bail out with my losses. I’ll even cease trashing the thing in print. I just want whatever percentage of my taxes that have gone to Mission Iraq returned promptly. Fair is fair.

And in order to quell any suggestions that I move to another country, I say no. I like bad television, shitty food and sports. I prefer instead to enact my rights and cause trouble with the hopes it will inspire the spirit of democracy and freedom the world over. That, and I’m a selfish prick.

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In Bush We Trust

Aquarian Weekly 2/2/05 REALITY CHECK


Buddies Forever“All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.” – George W. Bush Inaugural Speech 1/20/05

Aside from the whole FDR fear thing and the “Ask not…” rhetoric from JFK, George W. Bush made as bold and weighty a statement on the occasion of his second inauguration than any president of the past century, and despite its ragingly sanctimonious myopia, one this space applauds heartily. Honestly. I’m not kidding. I am all for it.

It’s a nice sentiment, a tad hyperbolic and utopian, even blatantly idiotic in its far-reaching schmaltz – something most might say with no real intention of ever seeing it through, like the romantic fool telling his beloved he would die for her. But I think this guy is serious as a heart attack. He had better be. That kind of proclamation is not something the citizens of this country or the rest of the world should take as political grandstanding. So I’m behind it one hundred percent, and anyone who is not does not get to continue along with me or George or the rest of the human race. It’s a new day. We are now the judge, jury, and police force of the world.


So despite the fact that I believe, deep down, this president is likely as full of hot air as any who have preceded him, a well-earned pessimism of the office, I will stand with him, and most importantly, hold him to it. The slate is clean. All sins are forgiven: The bad economy and foreboding ridiculousness of this Medicare mistake, the outrageous deficit, the egregiously run and vaguely explained war, and all this jabbering about God and morals aside; for once I will give management the benefit of the doubt. Does this guy deserve a lick of it? Nah. But never again let it be said I am not for the success of this or any president or the ambitious goals of our government.

Here’s the catch: I want George W. Bush to back up his words. I am rooting for him. I will sit here and wait patiently for the results, as should you and the rest of the planet, whether you think him a dog, Satan, a brilliant savant, or somewhere in between. Granted, he had a previously unprecedented shot to capture history with the world watching mere days and weeks after 9/11. He fucked that up. Big time. Then we have “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.”

It’s a big leap, but good for him. Reach for the stars, I say, the last go-round for the big cowboy. So let’s roll up those denim sleeves and slip back the ten-gallon white hat and get to work. Four years ain’t that long.

Here’s the catch: I want George W. Bush to back up his words.

All who live in tyranny would start with China, which this country openly trades with and the UN recognizes despite its historic and continued crimes against civil and human rights, forced abortions, execution and mass imprisoning of dissenting citizens, religious leaders, writers, artists etc. Oh, and that nastiness with Tibet. Oooh, that’s bad, man. I can’t wait for King George to spit in their face and demand to let their people go. My testicles tingle at the thought of it.

Then it’s onto Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. These guys are nuts. That Kim Jong Il makes Saddam look like Bazooka Joe. After the tongue lashing we give to China, George will go medieval on those fuckers. I will be so proud to be an American again; leading the way, not caring a lick about economic solvency or international trade or what China or Russia might think. Stick it to them, like France and Germany, and all those countries that really don’t help our economy and oil consumption, a true humanitarian gesture – might I add daringly, a Christian offer of peace and empathy.

Then it would be onto Africa, where in the bloody Sudan, which according to Amnesty International and the highly credible contributors to Human Rights Watch (http://hrw.org/) is a top candidate. Since February 2003, its city of Darfur has been the scene of massive crimes against civilians of particular ethnicities in the context of an internal conflict between the Sudanese government and a rebel insurgency. Almost two million people have been forcibly displaced and stripped of all their property and tens of thousands of people have been killed, raped or assaulted.

How about Rwanda next? Those people have needed help for a decade, while we were cockfighting with Iraq thousands were being systematically slaughtered in a seemingly endless civil war. I think a selfless act of diplomacy and harsh words from our beloved King and his army of freedom fighters would not only be appropriate, but damn heroic.

Finally, we will choose gain over pain as we stand firm against America’s favorite monarchy, and the central figure in the 9/11 attacks and most of our problems with terrorism for the past fifty years, Saudi Arabia. Oh, this will be a tough one for our intrepid King George. It will take guts to jab our allies, our major Middle Eastern oil source, and a contributor of billions of dollars to our corporations and real estate concerns here at home.

Oh how proud we will be to see the tough and rumble George W. Bush, so brave and steadfast in his speech, back up his bragging like Muhammad Ali and smite the enemies of liberty and freedom. The oil companies – his political base – and conservatives and liberals alike will shudder, but he will not waver, because “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.”

We’re waiting…

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Beware The Doctors

Aquarian Weekly 1/19/05 REALITY CHECK


“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” – William Shakespeare King Henry VI, Part II, (Act IV), Scene 2

Beware The DoctorsDoctors really don’t know what they’re doing.

Take one aside at a mixer after his or her third Manhattan and ask. They’ll tell you. And when you’ve talked to enough of them off the record it will hit you: No one has a clue how you tick or what keeps you ticking. It’s a crapshoot, like predicting the weather or prognosticating the Oscars. My mother calls it “the educated guess.” Call it what you will, it’s wacky science and you’re the lab rat.

That being established, no matter the circumstance or political rhetoric, should there be any legislation passed that would diminish the amount or severity of liability placed upon doctors, hospitals, drug companies et al, if these guesses go awry. Otherwise what is now a free-for-all in medicinal darts will turn into something out of an Aldous Huxley novel.

What the 109th congress will now debate, along with the desperately needed – but doomed to oblivion – Social Security reform, the fate-sealing eternal tax cut, what to do about the gluttonous 23% increase of federal spending the past three years, and more nonsense about adding bigoted amendments, is the extent of your right to protect yourself from the tyranny of medicine.

By which I mean for instance a maddening expansion of pharmaceuticals consumed by Americans in the last decade. This alarms many pundits. I am not one of them. If people need to be medicated to stay the fuck off towers with an automatic weapon, I’m all for it. Most of us are nuts. This is a fact. Medicine has curtailed the results of this; a cause for celebration, not harangue. The self-righteous louts who deride the medicated are delusional, which is our most heinous social malady. But, alas, there is no drug to assuage the delusional, unless you count religion. I do not.

Of course there is always the odd prescription of mood-altering drugs to depressed teenagers with suicidal tendencies that sort of-kind of might cause an increase in depression and suicidal tendencies or the sedation of rambunctious toddlers with some nifty narcotic to zombie them up. But I’m not sure what level of outrage this rouses in the grand collective, so I’ll call it an epidemic for lack of a sane definition.

They can tort reform all over the map and you’ll still pay through the nose with less or no rights in case all this guesswork lands you in a wheelchair or worse.

However, anyone who has been to a physician in the past few years knows well of what I broach. And I’m not talking about massive screw-ups like people dying on operating tables or given a lethal dose of something or a frighteningly bad diagnosis that leaves them crippled or dead. It’s the quick check-up to unnecessary craziness that needs to be accounted for.

To wit; I was diagnosed with high cholesterol two summers ago. My doctor could not whip out the samples of Lipitor fast enough. He was busy cranking out a handy prescription when I suggested exercise and diet. Soon after the obligatory derisive chortle, I demanded I have three months to lower the “bad” cholesterol naturally. I did. Lipitor and my doctor lost out.

Now assuming the best-case scenario, which doesn’t have my doctor in cahoots with a massive pharmaceutical company, and he isn’t a lazy ass, he was likely guessing that drugs were best for me. I disagreed. I guess I lucked out.

But if you take this story and ratchet it up considerably to bring in larger physical problems, you might get the picture.

The government wants you to believe that lawyers and frivolous damage claims are ruining the medical profession, keeping you from the best care, and jacking up the cost of health care in general. This is bullshit, like most of what this government, or any government tells you. The fact is the toothpaste is out of the tube when it comes to health costs. They can tort reform all over the map and you’ll still pay through the nose with less or no rights in case all this guesswork lands you in a wheelchair or worse.

Bash lawyers all you want. It’s fun. I do it in weaker moments. Bashing attorneys is the comedic equivalent of the fart joke. It never fails to get a laugh. It’s cheap and it always works. But when you are damaged goods, you had better get a good one or you will be one of the forgotten.

Many malpractice lawsuits are out of control, but making laws to curtail or put restrictions on the amount and severity of legal recourse is how this country deals with aberrations of any kind; throw the baby out with the bathwater. The federal government, the FBI and the CIA can’t protect us, so chuck civil rights. Lunatic children shoot up the schools, outlaw guns and video games. Drug problem? Jail everyone. Homeless problem? Make them disappear.

Why should the American people give up the right to sue lousy doctors or negligent hospitals just because the denizens of our court system cannot tell the difference between a frivolous lawsuit and a legitimate claim? We have regulated ourselves silly. So much so, that many of us crave some form of chemical to keep us from facing the truth.

And what is the truth?

The AMA and huge Pharmaceutical corporations have stronger lobbies in Washington than you and me. They dump tons of money into campaigns. Those campaigns find themselves in chairs in congress and they make the laws. We eat shit.

This is how it works.

Shakespeare knew this. That’s why the above quote, often misused to mock the law profession by those who still think Randy Newman hates short people and we didn’t steal Texas, is really about the first sign of abuse of power. A character that goes by the name of Dick the Butcher, whom the author describes as “the head of an army of rabble and a demagogue pandering to the ignorant” and who plans on overthrowing the government, utters it.

It is a warning about letting things run smoother by giving up the right to have a voice if you become a casualty.

Consider this another, if not less literary, warning.

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George W. Bush’s Agenda

Aquarian Weekly 12/15/04 REALITY CHECK


Kofi AnnanThe following is a continuation of a discussion taped in the last days of November with Republican insider and eight-year contributor to Reality Check, Georgetown.

james campion: How is this administration going to conduct foreign policy with damaged credibility at home and fence-mending abroad to be done? I ask specifically about the proposed handling of Iran and Korea, more legitimate threats to the US than Iraq, and the president’s interminable piss-fight with the UN.

Georgetown: The president has already begun mending fences with Canada, using it as a springboard for France and Germany. And it seems that now, more than ever in the past four years, France has become a major voice in foreign intelligence. Several aborted embassy attacks on American concerns due to the intel diligence of French interception have been reported. These things are normally fuzzy, but I think, this time, accurate.

The credibility issue is a fair one, and I know of your beef with re-electing a president with international egg on his face, but if the Iranians and the Koreans continue to threaten the world economy with strident war stances, it will backfire on them. I don’t think the US has to lead the charge to quell these regimes. Threat to businesses will do it for them.

jc: Are you saying this time this government errs on the side of caution?

GT: I think the rogue element inside the Pentagon to invade Iraq has been silenced for now. Many of us in the party believe, and I think the election bares this out, that the majority of the American people blame the military and the CIA for the ambiguous motivation to go to the war, and, right or wrong, see the president as making the choices they would have made based on that intelligence and fervor manifested by their over zealousness.

jc: Once again, giving the commander in chief a pass, but okay.

GT: Again, this is a fair argument, but it was not the first time, nor will it be the last that the executive branch of this republic is mislead in a crisis by its subordinates.

jc: What about this UN stuff? Specifically the Kofi Annan brother’s malfeasance in the Food for Oil mess and the usual stalling on critical issues concerning terrorism. Bush has to make a stand one way or the other, despite the hypocrisy of say, Rumsfeld who kept the mess of the Iraqi prison scandal off him, but wants to pin guilt by association on Annan.

GT: The UN stuff is too hot to handle politically. Bush cannot seem like he is pushing an opponent under the train, and the perception of someone in charge taking the fall for his people screwing up hits too close to home. I think the UN needs to clean itself up. Not that we’re blameless, because we belong to the United Nations, and rightfully so. We’re its muscle. In the end, the UN covers the right of free trade, which keeps the world together. There are still problems in the Sudan and elsewhere. The UN needs us, and we need them to help clean up after the Iraq election or to pick up the slack in securing a country headed for anarchy.

The UN needs us, and we need them to help clean up after the Iraq election or to pick up the slack in securing a country headed for anarchy.

jc: Speaking of which, is there still optimism, however guarded, that this experiment in Iraq will see the light of day before the end of the Bush administration?

GT: No. Those days are over. Now that Bush has been elected you will here a great deal more brutal and realistic language concerning Iraq. It is plain fantasy now to believe that any of us will live to see a true, steady, and solvent democracy in the Middle East. That is for the next generation to continue or abandon, maybe even as soon as the next administration.

jc: Before we touch upon domestic concerns, what the hell is Bush doing with his buddy Putin, for whom he “looked deeply into his soul”? The word we’re getting is Putin is slowly developing the blue print for a second Soviet Union and doing so by poking into the Ukraine’s political structure? Where do we stand on this for the foreseeable future?

GT: There is no way the United States can do anything but comment and smile about that. Move on.

jc: A few quick ones. Social Security reform. How hard will congress jostle this around, and how much is Bush really dedicated to this?

GT: This will not be a top priority until after the 2006 elections. Those members of congress hoping to be elected need to tread with caution over this, not to mention it really won’t begin to strain the system until the first Baby Boom retirement glut in 2010 or so. Makes no political sense to run hard at it right away.

jc: Are there people under the age of 55 that still think they’re getting anything out of the government?

GT: Apparently.

jc: How about making the tax cut permanent?

GT: Top of the list. The Republicans will muscle this through during the first session after the new year.

jc: Supreme Court judge appointees?

GT: Honestly? Only Bush knows how far right he will go and how hard he’ll fight for the choices. This is a wild card worth watching for both sides and could also effect the 2006 elections.

jc: Why, because the perception will be that Bush has slid about as far right as someone in his position can? Why keep up the centrist veil when most of the actions of this president, except for his Big Government penchant, have been socially conservative?

GT: IF you are pressing about the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, forget it. Partial birth abortion is on the docket. That’s a different animal politically. It’s the automatic weapon caveat to any legal movement on that amendment. He wants to, deep down, make a stance, but as much as I admire what he has done since 9/11, I don’t Bush has the balls.


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George W. Bush’s Second Term

Aquarian Weekly 12/8/04 REALITY CHECK

THE IRON FIST PRINCIPLE Part I GOP Insider Georgetown Weighs in on Throwing Weight

The Madness of Bob JonesDear Mr. President:

The media tells us that you have received the largest number of popular votes of any president in America’s history. Congratulations!

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America-though she doesn’t deserve it-a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

Don’t equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

– Letter to President Bush from Bob Jones III of Bob Jones University 11/3/04

Soon it will be the 10th anniversary of a Republican controlled congress, and four years since the Grand Old Party has taken the reigns of every branch of government, save for the judiciary, which could soon change dramatically. This is their puppy now and for the foreseeable future, a future looking increasingly bleak, or for those remaining optimists, uncertain at best, no matter the chief executive. But that is opinion, not reality.

The reality is that this is a nation in serious debt with a gluttonous budget, rising poverty, a wounded image abroad, and at war in two countries with another soon to be an issue. The president, re-elected not on his sketchy, if not abysmal governing record, but on the wings of the metaphysical notion of morality and that old standby, fear, has made promises about deconstructing Social Security, balancing a sane budget, pursuing a constitutional amendment concerning the definition of marriage, and more.

However, currently there is division in the Republican ranks. More of the conservative wing, quiet during George W. Bush’s first campaign, much of his first term, and the re-election bid, has begun to bark. The religious quacks have come to collect a hefty bill, the war hawks are vindicated, and the big oil mongers are laying in wait. Supporters need to be greased and decisions have to be made. Second terms come with monstrous asterisks. It is the game. Sign up. Play hard.

So we go to our long-suffering Republican insider, the man, the myth, the maniac Georgetown for some much needed dirt. This comes on the heels of his refusal to dish any during the final months of the 2004 campaign, despite several requests for an audience and his insistence to pummel this reporter for revealing the obvious drinking problem of his party’s power broker a few weeks back. (Second Term Madness Issue: 11/10/04)

james campion: Say your piece. We have a lot to cover.

Georgetown: I just want those readers slow on the take to know this column often blurs the lines between satire, rare honest reporting, and vicious opinion. So, in light of that, I want to make clear that your observation and assessment of Karl Rove’s drinking a few weeks back, as off the record as it was, is irresponsible and wholly vindictive, and if I had known you would abuse the access our relationship provides you than I would have refused it, and will, until which time you have apologized in print.

jc: You’re assuming that I meant to imply that Rove is a drunkard and therefore most of the advice and direction of the Republican machine is powered by flippant, half-in the-bag concepts borne of whiskey.

GT: Correct.

jc: Well, for that I certainly apologize. How could anyone derive such an outlandish assumption from that paragraph? I called him a genius. I even lead with it.

GT: Don’t get me started. What do you need to know?

jc: How much is Rove’s monster going to force the president to cow tow to lunatics like Jerry Falwell and Bob Jones.

GT: There is no question that the religious right has embraced the party, and this president, but I see this term being much like the first; a lot of moral and cultural proclamations, but no real bite.

No one is forgetting the bullshit that came during he 9/11 Commission hearings. People sold out the president. They could not have expected to stay around after November 2.

jc: Tell me about these shake-ups in the cabinet and the stalemate over this proposed intelligence czar in congress.

GT: Obvious steps to gut the dissenters out of the inner circle. I’m not sure most conservative voices agree with the shake-ups in the cabinet, state, and the CIA, but no one is crying over Powell going, or Ridge, or some of those assholes over at CIA. Scapegoats abound. No one is forgetting the bullshit that came during he 9/11 Commission hearings. People sold out the president. They could not have expected to stay around after November 2.

jc: Yes, but let’s not forget the dumping on the CIA during the investigation. There seems to be no blood on the White House or anywhere else in Washington but in intelligence.

GT: Define it how you will, but know this: when the dust settles the 9/11 intelligence bill will pass and all the posturing by Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon will not stop it. I expect it to pass before the new year.

jc: This stinks of slapping a band-aid on a gaping wound. Classic lame duck congress forced to do something politically that makes no sense, not to mention piling another government agency on the thing. We’ve now officially entered The New Deal Part Two.

GT: The flack over the proposed 9/11 Commission bill request is not about national security, it’s simply that the war is being run exclusively, as all wars, from the Pentagon. And as a result, this glut of disinformation on WMD and all that did not sit well with state or Powell. Still doesn’t. But no one wants to reconstruct the present chain of command from the Pentagon to some kind of new fangled security/spy czar, which the present bill proposes. This only mucks up the process to wage war.

jc: I see this bill as another smoke screen for a government embarrassed about its collective incompetence leading up to 9/11 and painfully repeated before the war. Who is in charge? Who is responsible? No one. The FBI fails; we have government pork like Homeland Security. The CIA fails; we have more bureaucracy with this shit. How about someone doing their job?

GT: I don’t disagree. I think it’s a mistake. Adding more voices to an orgy of political ego and backbiting will cripple the effort. The president waited too long for this, now it’s throwing meat to the wolves.

jc: You’re certain the president is behind it.

GT: He is, but not at the cost of selling out the war people or the conservative hawks, who cannot run this war if they, or even in the case of Rumsfeld’s people, have to get red stamped in Washington for every fart. If it were peacetime, like before 9/11, the commission has a point. Not now.

jc: But won’t Bush be seen as a dreaded flip-flopper if he allows congress to dictate the passing of a national security bill after the tax payers went in for the whole commission nonsense? What about all this “I’ve got political capital” bullshit?

GT: The president will soon learn that a mandate, if this election defines itself as such, carries the power of the party, not the individual. To me, the most significant victory is Tom Daschle sent packing. Next to Kennedy in Massachusetts, there has not been a more insufferable liberal force. He was ousted and the House is truly ours. The president must abide.

Next Week: Part II

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Yasser Arafat Is Dead

Aquarian Weekly 11/17/04 REALITY CHECK


Yasser ArafatYasser Arafat is dead.

I could have written that well over 100 times in the last seven years of penning this column alone. Come to think of it, I may have done it once or twice anyway. Forget about how many times he could have bitten the bullet over the last 40-odd years of his public life. After all, this is a man who was a functioning revolutionary freedom fighter/terrorist, whose base camp was smack dab in the center of the country he was threatening to reconstruct and/or obliterate for nearly half a century. This is tantamount to Osama bin Laden hanging out in Cleveland making his handy videotapes and masterminding the random car bombing.

If you had told me ten years ago that Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic would be in prison, while Yasser Arafat died in a French hospital of natural causes, I’d have taken that action against vicious odds.

Then again this is man best known for waging war, while winning a Nobel Peace Prize. He was born in Cairo, Egypt, but swore Jerusalem his birthright. He was pummeled in two major conflicts with the Israeli Defense Force, but still managed to maintain credibility with his people. He pretty much invented modern terrorism, but ran around shooting the peace sign at reporters.

This is what we in the business call a lifer. I choose to call Arafat a survivor, and an enviable one at that. Damn enviable. Whether you loved him or hated him, it was hard not to give him that.

I hated him.

He was a terrible thug. He was also a classic narcissist, claiming to fight for Palestine, negotiate a state, while grabbing as much face time on international news and free meals at the White House, but you never got the feeling this was viable without him running the show. He had Fidel Castro blood. He was full of himself, and, in the end, a miserable failure.

Most of us learned of Yasser Arafat and his band of loons called Fatah, and later the PLO, at the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, Germany. Arab guerillas took hostage and later murdered 11 Israeli athletes, much of the drama unfolding on television with Howard Cosell’s nasal drone providing the gory soundtrack. It was the first Olympics I recall watching. Watergate followed this nicely, and my cheery life of cynicism was underway.

Whether it was peace accords or killing innocents, Arafat was in the news and being cheered and the target of assassinations. He was just one of those people whose notoriety seemed as insane as his methods.

But the PLO was just getting warmed up. By the early 1980s’ Arafat’s brand of freedom fighting nearly had all of Lebanon in flames, another ignominious defeat his worshippers chose to ignore and his enemies saw fit to let pass.

Yet, death and failure did not deter Arafat. If anything, it was this kind of brutal mayhem that had people paying attention to the Palestinian effort to gain statehood in the first place; a resounding victory for terrorism, and a blow to sober reason and judgment. Of course, those were loftier concepts to swallow after the powers that be carved up the Middle East like a Thanksgiving turkey following WWII, concluding nicely with the U.S.A.’s recognition of the Zionist movement as Israel and the only sane nation in the region.

This, of course, was nothing approaching sanity. Israel has been the home office for inhumanity and ultra-violence for thousands of years. Three monotheistic cultures forced to inhabit the same land they each considered their destiny, the Lord’s recipe for disaster.

Enter stage Arafat.

Forever wrapped in his trademark checkered kaffiyeh and handy desert fatigues, Arafat played the religious/cultural card well. Not unlike his successors today who use the Arab culture and Islamic religion to beat their megalomaniacal chests or corporate goons who hide behind the American flag. Blatant opportunists. History and the current globe are littered with them. But no one with half a brain bought it, least of all the myriad of Israeli leaders who were forced to beat back Arafat’s minions time and again, still unable to crush him completely.

This was when Arafat went to plan B, negotiator for peace settlements, which was a rather interesting maneuver, since he had nothing in which to negotiate. Apparently unfamiliar with the way things work on this planet, Arafat developed what I call The Crazyman Theory. It is one rarely tried by those whipped in a war or sent packing by progress and gluttony like the American Indian, whose “I was here first” thing didn’t work out all that well.

Arafat seemed to believe that since the Palestinian people, of whom he could not be included, mind you, had been living there for centuries, they were entitled to the land. He was also able to continue to carry rifles around and wave a fist, while keeping pace in the dignitary circuit. It was quite Al Capone of him, really. I always thought that was what I most admired about Arafat, his balls; a big scary pair. Rather fearsome in their enormity.

But even these fleetingly triumphant moments ended in tragedy. After unconscionably winning the Nobel Peace Prize for signing the Oslo Accords with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1994, an Israeli extremist assassinated Rabin, not unlike the shooting of poor Anwar Sadat after he was seen shaking hands with an American president and an infidel. This is simply because while Arafat put on the good face for the world, he was spreading hate and fear among his people, blowing up innocent women and children at bus stations and markets and dance halls.

I’ve been to Jerusalem. You can’t spit without hitting an Israeli soldier. Yet, they only seem to be harmed as collateral damage in these monstrous acts of random violence. So while fighting for freedom may be humanity’s noblest act, murdering the innocent in cold blood is its most heinous.

In the end, Yasser Arafat was a murderer, because the cause does not justify the means or the direction of those means.

This does not bother the megalomaniac, and it did not sway Yasser Arafat. Whether it was peace accords or killing innocents, Arafat was in the news and being cheered and the target of assassinations. He was just one of those people whose notoriety seemed as insane as his methods.

And now Arafat is dead, and no one seems to know what this will mean for peace in the region.

It couldn’t hurt.

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