2006 Midterm Elections Dilemma

Aquarian Weekly 10/11/06 REALITY CHECK


Dennis HastertHere’s my midterm elections ’06 dilemma: Continue to root for the hapless Democrats to crash and burn one last time to put a final nail in their coffin and leave the dismantling of the two-party system to this abortion the Republicans have fashioned over the past decade…or…pull for the Democrats to sweep into Congress and begin the always-entertaining Investigation/Impeachment Follies for the next two years.

Double-edged sword: either way you win and lose.

It is no secret that the Republicans are ready to be had, and if the Democrats can’t do it now there really is no logical reason to have them around, save for laughs and sympathy. Therefore, this should be the Democrats last ride at the rodeo, opening the doors for some kind of third party or Independent run to wade into the quagmire that is the legislative branch of our fancy federal government.

All of this, of course, is the fantasy notion of a pathetic man, who still believes in the “better angels of our nature”, despite centuries of corruption, madness, and disaster. But forgive me, I dream because I must.

But it would take an October Surprise worthy of Disney or the Bible to keep the Republicans in power now, despite the parade of mediocrity coming from the opposition, because let’s face it kids, the GOP is reeling.

There hasn’t been this kind of fallout on Capital Hill since the near shooting of Missouri Senator Tom Benton by the blabbering lunatic Henry Foote 166 years ago. Foote, a fun-loving senator from Mississippi, was a terrible goon with a short fuse and no boundaries, but he would’ve fit in well with the present legislators, who have presently turned the U.S. Congress into a Martin Scorsese film.

Forget the Abramoff stuff, which on any normal calendar year would land half of Congress in prison. That’s merely the opening act.

Things have gotten so bad you half expect the bastard offspring of Caligula to burst through the chamber two-fisting Jack Daniels and brandishing a Luger.

Since, we have mounds of proof Texas Congressman Tom Delay has been ripping off taxpayers for as long as he’s been sworn in. Then there is the curious case of Virginia Senator George Allen Jr., who has now publicly taken racist stump banter to new levels and spent three days last week apologizing for having a Jewish mother so vehemently you’d think he was caught sniffing coke off the ass of a teenaged hooker. And what can anyone make of Mark Foley? The Florida Representative’s text-message romp with young male pages, and the apparent cover-up from spin-conscious Republican leaders, presents just the right kind of creepy for potential voters.

Things have gotten so bad you half expect the bastard offspring of Caligula to burst through the chamber two-fisting Jack Daniels and brandishing a Luger.

Never mind the albatross that is our Boy President defending his vacillating approval numbers, scores of defamatory book releases, and one too many Donald Rumsfeld media events, but these baffling presidential news conferences are straight out of Lewis Carroll. When Bush starts yammering on about this Iraq War of his being the “fight for civilization as we know it” I pray for an apparition of the Mad Hatter to materialize and bash him in the back of the head with a cricket bat.

But that’s just what this reporter is willing to explore in the first week of October with three more weeks of rallies and pratfalls. Things have a way of turning around more than once these days.

To wit: Just last week things were looking up for the president and his wounded charges. Firstly, gas prices were plummeting, and crazy people were calling him Satan at the UN, proving once and for all what kind of reeking farce that gaggle of has-beens are running on the East Side, as they more or less pull off the impossible: Make the bully look like the victim.

But wacky Venezuelan despots aside, the Bill Clinton FOXNEWS meltdown made even the goofy Dick Chaney “Meet The Press” escapade look sober. Why a man who was once the leader of the free world would need to get into a schoolyard piss match with a hack like Chris Wallace is beyond me. Maybe the part of Big Bill’s brain that chose to solicit Oval Office head from the kid intern took over. Either way, it was a calling card to many voters that there still lurks mania in the hearts of the Democrats’ best and brightest.

Then the Foley thing hit the fan and House Speaker Dennis Hastert had the balls to use politics as his party’s “cover-up” defense, as in his Washington Post quote, “I know our opponents want me to be guilty of something.” Does he mean opponents of congressmen using government property (the people’s property) to flirt with underage boys, and then the Republican leadership covering it up? I’m sure we can find a few of those.

Bad news for Hastert is these opponents vote. But good news for Hastert is most people, especially mid-westerners and southerners, would sooner vote for a bumbling Republican skank then hand the reigns over to the scary Democrats. It gives me the same sense of American pride I felt when listening to the National Organization of Women defend the predatory nature of the aforementioned Mr. Clinton.

But, be that as it may, we have a job to do here, and despite our dilemma we shall shoulder on.

There are 33 seats available in the Senate. With the vice president holding a deciding vote, the Dems need a swing of at least seven seats of them for a bonafide majority (this does not count Vermont Jim Jeffords, who is an independent and repeatedly votes Democrat). Depending on what poll you use, there or about six to seven seats legitimately up for grabs, two or three firmly in the GOP column, and five to six leaning to the Democrats, four of which are currently Republican.

This will be a tough go for the Democrats, but we will begin to discuss the states, seats, and races in question next week.

On to the House, where the Dems need to pick up roughly 16 of the 31 open seats (three vacancies to consider), to gain a majority. Again, without getting into particulars, this is a more realistic quest for the Democrats to sniff power, but no gimmie.

I fear the only “gimmie” is this space will likely despise the results, whatever the results, and spend the ensuing years mocking the victors.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Corporate Lunacy In The Wake Of Katrina

Aquarian Weekly 9/20/06 REALITY CHECK

CHING-CHING, CASH IN ON TRAGEDY! Part I Report Uncovers Corporate Lunacy in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina

New OrleansRita J. King is a colleague, a friend, and a fine freelance investigative journalist who has gone deep inside many nasty corners of society, business, and politics for the Village Voice among other publications. In 2003, the New York Press Association awarded her first place for investigative reporting on the nuclear industry and in 2005 she placed first in the NYPA news category for “The New Agent Orange,” an investigative article about nine soldiers who returned from Iraq and are now suing the government because they believe they were knowingly exposed to Depleted Uranium.

Her new work, completed just last month for CorpWatch, (corpwatch.org) a decade-old nonprofit monitor of all-things-corporate online, is called Big, Easy Money: Disaster Profiteering On The American Gulf Coast, a tirelessly researched and frightening insight into the rapacious milieu of scavenger business practices that inevitably follows the type of historic disaster that was Hurricane Katrina.

Now, one year removed from the litany of mistakes and tragedies that have rendered the gulf coast a watery graveyard, we find its reconstruction to be less than ethical, and in most cases, downright deplorable. I figure it’s high time Ms. King was given a proper voice at The Desk, because, for some warped reason, she is a fan of this space.

James Campion: How did you initially get involved with this story?

Rita J. King: I frequently write about Indian Point nuclear power plants, which a company called Entergy Corp. owns, and they’re headquartered in New Orleans, so I figured chances are there’s a story there. CorpWatch asked me to write a feature about Entergy, which, consequently, declared bankruptcy in the wake of Katrina, and has asked for a $718 million Community Development Block Grant so taxpayers and ratepayers can bail them out. There’s also an Entergy subsidiary in Mississippi that’s asking for a similar bail out. Between the two of them it is a billion and half dollar bail out to shelter the corporation from the cost. As I was gathering the information for the Entergy piece, CorpWatch asked if I would write the whole report.

So for six months I did hardcore investigative research on the contract procurement process, which involved scouring through all the records of contracts of prime contractors and government agencies, and I found the numbers to be very convoluted and unclear, but in the process I interviewed a lot of people who were beyond the focus of the scope of the report. And so my hope was to use the report as a platform to segue into some of the deeper social issues involved.

When you began the report, were you already assuming that there was likely to be some cloudy areas of where the relief money was coming from and how it would be spent, or even a fertile ground for corporate malfeasance?

“What I didn’t except to find, but came away with, is this feeling that the ‘bumbling bureaucrat’ image that used to pervade our thinking on these things has been replaced with a ‘fox in the henhouse’ image. Corporations are far savvier than the governments they manipulate and the politicians they enrich.”

Going in I knew this was the most pervasive disaster that had ever taken place on American soil. And I knew that some of the corporations that were notoriously profiting off the Iraq War were involved. I also knew that it was cheaper to do domestic disaster than foreign conflict, but I did not know going in what the specific ramifications were going to be and I did not go in assuming malfeasance was an issue as much as ineptitude – you have to keep in mind that FEMA was gutted in the 90s, and it has continued to be gutted, and as the Department of Homeland Security grows in the number and worth of contracts it gives out, personnel is being cut back. What I didn’t except to find, but came away with, is this feeling that the “bumbling bureaucrat” image that used to pervade our thinking on these things has been replaced with a “fox in the henhouse” image. Corporations are far savvier than the governments they manipulate and the politicians they enrich.

For example, on 9/7/05, a week after Katrina, President Bush suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, which protects workers’ wages. Two months of controversy followed. He reinstated it, but not retroactively, so all of the contracts that were given out during that time were exempt form the Davis-Bacon Act, which resulted in a lot of workers not being paid or being paid slave wages.

Then there is the contracting pyramid, wherein corporations benefit greatly from undocumented workers performing the labor at the bottom, because each successive subcontractor is only responsible for the layer below them. So, as a prime contractor, if I subcontract the work to you and you subcontract the work to someone else, and so on, I am not ultimately responsible for what the last subcontractor who hires the workers chooses to do, and whether they pay them…or not.

Some of what I learned is shocking, and largely unreported. The two largest Chinese construction companies, Beijing Construction Engineering Company Unlimited and Beijing Urban International Company, have made a proposal to the city of D’Iberville, Mississippi through Gulfco Construction, which is actively trying to procure visas for thousands of Chinese laborers so they can work cheaply, and with their own materials, to rebuild vast swaths of the coast. Who is going to own those areas when they’re done?

So the cloudy numbers add up to hidden profits for those insidious enough to exploit the chaos?

Exactly. Prime contractors like AshBritt received $500 million, or $23 per cubic yard, to remove debris, according to an investigation conducted by NBC. At the bottom of their pyramid the company hired C & B Enterprise, which was paid nine dollars per cubic yard. That company hired Amlee Transportation, which they paid eight dollars a cubic yard, and they turned around and hired Chris Hessler Inc. for seven dollars a cubic yard, who then paid a debris hauler from NJ, who was paid three dollars per cubic yard, which is less than the cost of actually doing the work. So AshBritt gets paid $23 a cubic yard for nothing more than subcontracting.

I have to say this does not shock me.

AshBritt was listed in the Small Business Data Base as both a minority-owned and woman-owned company in order to tap into the federal regulation for set-asides, which stipulates that a portion of the contracts go to businesses owned by people who are categorized thusly (the same applies to other special groups, such veterans or physically disabled individuals). AshBritt’s owner, Randall Perkins, listed his wife, Cuban-born Saily Perkins, as the company’s president. However, I found a list of 2004 campaign contributors compiled by the federal election commission that listed her occupation as homemaker. Perkins later claimed it was a clerical error.

Part II: Aggressive Accounting, Money-Grabs, & The Future Of New Orleans

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Middle East Solutions

Aquarian Weekly 8/23/06 REALITY CHECK

Niftier Than Cease Fires & Other Running Jokes

IDF in LebanonIf only Abraham had kept his cock in his pants.

Be that as it may, God’s starting quarterback screwed up. Since then it’s been a mess.

But fear not, unlike Amorous Abe or our faulty Supreme Being, I have a grip on this idiocy called The Promised Land, and I aim to finally impart it. It will not be pleasant, and it will certainly not adhere to any normal but previously failed policy or philosophy. However, it is the only solution to bring about a lasting peace to a region torn asunder by cultural and religious madness for centuries – long before there was a United States, and, in fact, long before anyone labeled European could amble erect.

The first phase of our solution begins with ceasing this United Nations shit. The UN is completely inept and wholly corrupt. The best thing the UN can do is disband. Then it can get the hell out of NYC before someone gets seriously hurt. No one wants to hear from the UN on cease fires when it passes all these apparently innocuous resolutions, like the one they passed over a dozen times on Saddam Hussein, the impotence of which gave him the balls to start expanding his nonsense to Kuwait and got us involved. Once that happened, there was no way we could escape having to eventually oust him, which then morphed into a tainted brand of Nation Building 101, and we all know how that’s turning out.

Every time someone from the UN starts yammering at Israel to calm down or implores the latest band of marauders to back down someone from Israel retorts by pointing to a toothless UN resolution. The UN likes to bark, but has nothing approaching a serviceable bite. It is as useless as a drug-free American cyclist or Mel Gibson’s AA sponsor.

This brings us to the United States and their white-noise president. Please. No more speeches from George W. Bush on freedom and democracy. After five years it is beyond funny and has successfully trumped pathetic. It has now reached the rank of sad, like our Boy President’s “Islamic fascist” comment, which makes as much sense as any number of mumbled declamatory claptrap this guy’s offered for the past six years. And sadder still is the robotic Condoleezza Rice, who has contradicted herself so many times over the past 18 months I’m pretty sure ESPN will hire her.

Let’s see if this is an exercise in international chest beating by Iran, or if it really wants the obliteration of western efforts and Israel as a working entity in Allah’s backyard. Why not? This is what they want.

We need to stay out of this one. Really. I know we bankroll the damn IDF and I know we have billions invested in these oil fields and refining centers, but we have proved pretty convincingly now for half a century we do not know how to wage war anymore, especially a war against guerilla factions from cultures we know nothing about, like Korea or Viet Nam, and now crazy Islamic extremists. Enough of our Bungling Giant routine, let the more experienced handle it.

And what about this goofy dilettante crap citing democracy as being a roadmap to peace? Our friend Tucker Carlson rightfully pointed out the other day, as did Washington Post columnist, Jefferson Morley in March of 2005 and yours truly a month earlier, that terrorist champion Hamas was elected in Palestine, as was Hezbollah to prominent positions in the Lebanese government. Some 85% of Lebanese support Hezbollah, which openly ran a campaign with “a call for the destruction of the state of Israel.” Hoorah for democracy!

This brings us to Israel, which has miraculously existed for over half a century, despite a half dozen or so wars, a million skirmishes, bomb and missile attacks, terrorist activities, etc. A good portion of its neighbors, at least those who have the guts to go on record, pretty much pray, plan, and even attempt to execute this aforementioned “destruction of” every day. It is no secret: Everyone in the region, whether Christian, Muslim or Hebrew understand this as fact.

Sure, sometimes there is muted diplomacy-speak about giving this stretch of sand back or bowing to a religious superstition, but mostly it has always been, and will always be an Us or Them proposition: An End of Times Biblical Massacre worthy of King David or the Implosion of Jericho or the systematic murder of Egyptian children. Oh, it’s way beyond the meager notions of politics or intellect or humanity.

So now that we have eliminated the amateurs and newcomers to this blood feud and sufficiently pinpointed motivations, we are left with the Arabs and the Jews, specifically Islam vs. Judaism, or Abe’s little mistakes. Order all the cease-fires you want. We’re still left with the sovereignty of Israel and the promise of a Holy Land. That’s all we’ve ever had here, fans. Face it. Hezbollah wants to wipe out Israel and the Jews. The IDF wants to gut, disarm, and annihilate those who point the finger of violence at it.

I say let it rip.


See how far all the threats and rhetoric can go. Let’s see if this is an exercise in international chest beating by Iran, or if it really wants the obliteration of western efforts and Israel as a working entity in Allah’s backyard. Why not? This is what they want. This is true freedom in action. It is their free will, not ours and not the UN’s, but their free will, and even the shortsighted Yahweh has some idea about that concept.

The finality of real peace sometimes takes an addition by subtraction. It is harsh. It is cold. But it is authentic. Not like all the usual bullshit we hear from every corner of this globe, and have heard for a long, long time. Peace often happens after one side is gone, like the Carthaginians at Himera, or the French at Waterloo, or the Germans at Leningrad or the Japanese at Hiroshima.

The bleeding hearts and neo-cons do a great deal of sanctimonious grandstanding and pointless pontificating on the subject of the Middle East, about oil and peace and God and children and civilians, but we don’t really believe it, because if we did, we’d let them be free to enact all this stuff they incessantly yammer on about. It is what they want.

The innocent? Enough of these people have had time to contemplate if they actually want an End of Times or not, and as far as I can see they have chosen to hang around with the crazies, and therefore they’ve played their innocence card, and unfortunately, they are dragging their poor children down with them.

Hey, people make mistakes with children all the time.

God did with Abraham.

Abraham sure did with his.

Check tonight’s news for the results.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

Read More


Aquarian Weekly 8/16/06 REALITY CHECK

THE LIEBERMAN EXPERIMENT How The Vanquished Shall Inherit Independence

Joseph LiebermanJoseph Lieberman could be the most important name in American politics since Thomas Jefferson. His inspired bailout on the Democratic Party for an independent run for senator from Connecticut, if successful, might just begin to erode the two-party monopoly that has heretofore damaged our delicate hold on democracy for over 100 years.

Think I’m being too dramatic? Really? Check this out, Jack.

Unless you’ve been hermetically sealed for the past decade this whole two-party thing has reached a polarized critical mass. The usual black and white nonsense pitched by liberal to conservative agendas has never been more embedded, leaving a proving ground for militants and goofballs the likes of which no free society could survive.

In many ways it has become absurd, and more so, dangerous, as it has rendered candidates for either the Democratic or Republican parties hostage to many social, cultural and/or fiduciary issues that command the party line. All this slaking the extreme right or left wings of said parties has made plastic tools of politicians and reduced the vagaries of debate and voter confidence to a dense morass of “us vs. them”. And although this works in the odd theocracy or fraternity kegger, it is hardly a sober guideline for governance.

Enter our hero.

Joseph Lieberman, fresh from a humiliating party horsewhipping for the past months, is going to ignore his defeat as a Democrat and run for senate as an independent. It is this observer’s opinion that he will win, and when he does there will be a minor tremor in Washington politics, that may, if there is an ounce of justice and progress and true intelligence in the design of this republic, escalate into a full-scale quake that rocks the foundation of this partisan stalemate on free thought within our currently cracked system.

Lieberman, independent, free to offer an alternative to “one way or the highway” can actually live or die on the grounds of his own beliefs, however brilliant or abhorrent they may be. The voter choice will be for a single voice and not the collective. The fog cleared, the din abated.

Lieberman, independent, free to offer an alternative to “one way or the highway” can actually live or die on the grounds of his own beliefs, however brilliant or abhorrent they may be.

Oh, it’s a long shot, but dreams die hard here at The Desk. Twenty-four years of independent voting, ranting, arguing, and literary bitching could render a serviceable pay-off after all.

To wit:

Lieberman gives the Democrats the finger. He becomes an independent candidate, runs on his own platform that is judged merely by its “independent” ideas and goals, and not that of some odious conglomerate pushed by party heads and special interest fops, and wins going away. Other party pariah’s who dare think outside the agenda of both parties copycat the revolutionary concept of “thinking for one’s self outside the shackles of black and white resolve”. Candidates once again represent the people through their own devices, and not that of blind allegiance to a one-note dirge. Parties suffer. Freedom wins. Everyone wins, because everyone will want a piece of the pie.

That’s what winning does, it breeds imitation.

Politics is not unlike professional football. Whatever scheme makes good every other team and coaching staff is running to repeat it. Every so often there is a maverick, and if he hits the jackpot with victories, soon the pack will follow. Doesn’t always work out in every individual case, but the sport is revived anew. That is how we see this Lieberman Experiment, but only if it succeeds.

So it absolutely must succeed.

Lieberman was jobbed from the beginning. The Democrats have talking points that begin with bashing the Iraq War, which opposes nicely the stupidity of the Republicans race to ignore it. However, Lieberman has stood by his conviction that the war, however mishandled and junked, was necessary. Unlike fellow Democrats who voted for it (the comedy team of John’s Edwards and Kerry) Lieberman is staying the course. It may be shortsighted and political suicidal for an opposing party member to back a fantastically unpopular president and his mounting folly, but to his credit Lieberman is consistent. This got him the boot.

Lieberman’s defeat in last Tuesday’s Democratic primary to his entertainingly loquacious challenger Ned Lamont, the perfect party dupe, was a measly six percentage points, or roughly 100,000 votes. These are votes easily made up by independents and moderate republicans disgusted with right wing screw-ups, but fearful of pie-in-the-sky revisionists. The question is will these people see this as an historical imperative or a sore loser’s attempt at vengeance. The answer, I believe, will echo loudly against the two-party lethargy, which trumps this “throw the bums out” ripple against incumbents everywhere.

Also, Lieberman can win because he’s been entrenched in his position since 1988, and as is New England’s political wont, there’s always room for the “same old”. He has a rich history of incumbent crushes on his side. These people love to keep the boys coming back for more, regardless of bad behavior, scandal, or just about anything – see Ted Kennedy for the best example. Lieberman’s loss made him only the fourth incumbent senator to lose a primary since 1980. This bodes well for his name being on a ballot come November.

In conclusion, it will be nearly impossible for Lieberman to lose, unless there is some underhanded political chicanery, which there most certainly will be, but that cannot derail him. His corny “Team Connecticut” campaign must focus on a rally for new horizons and blazing trails and all that rah-rah poop, and not any goofy pictures of him tonguing the president.

Look, I don’t like Joseph Lieberman. I despise his sanctimonious moralizing most of all. Not the point. And maybe he truly is a sore loser trying to change rules to benefit his own gain. Hell, that’s fine. Whatever it takes. There was a whole lot of changing the rules for personal gain going on in Philadelphia in 1776. Fairly sure I dislike half of those jokers. The results were pretty good, though.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Mideast Crisis Dissected Soberly

Aquarian Weekly 8/2/06 REALITY CHECK

DOGPILE ON THE LOONS Al-Qaeda Gets On Board The Crazy Express

It is a jihad for the sake of God and will last until our religion prevails … from Spain to Iraq, we will attack everywhere. – Ayman al-Zawahri

Ayman al-Zawahri Yada. Yada. Yada.

The above statement was uttered from another pathetic sack of shit from another “secret remote location” somewhere in the desert. Another in a tired series of “Notice Me!” nonsensical prattle from displaced mutants streamed over Al-Jazeera television. “Coming up next after ‘Camel Races from Qatar’ another anti-Semitic rant from your friends at al-Qaeda! Take it away, Skip!” – “Tyrannical Western Civilization! Blessed Allah! Death! Vengeance! Holy this! Sacred that! Blah. Blah. Blah.” Retread. Cry wolf. Really sad.

The latest grainy and haunting video of a riled-up Ayman al-Zawahri comes complete with images of the World Trade Center burning and a portrait of Mohammed Atef hanging dramatically behind him. Trouble is Atef has been dead since November of 2001, and well, 9/11 was a few months prior to that and nearly five years ago now. I’m no trend-spotter and I rarely check the pop culture meter to see what’s hot and what’s not, but seems to me like we have ourselves a washed-up entity trying desperately to hone in on the new hot commodity: Hezbollah.

Let’s face it; al-Qaeda has a little David Lee Roth thing going on.

Much to the chagrin of the bin Laden clan, Hezbollah is front-page news right now. They have managed something the PLO, Hamas, and even their own hate-mongering coffee klatch could not accomplish – wake the sleeping lion Israel. That had to raise the collective ire over in the caves of Afghanistan: “We’re the baddest! We’re the tops on the terrorist hit list! Remember Spain? Remember London? What about 9/11? Look over here! Despise us! Shower us with fear!”

This is the fatal flaw in being a revolutionary; you have to matter. You have to be in the spotlight. It’s over for al Qaeda. They had their time. No one wants to hear from Ayman al-Zawahri anymore than they want to “Get Jiggy”. It’s over. Time to hate someone who matters.

Okay, so now, predictably, al-Qaeda has thrown its turban into the ring over this IDF kill-fest. Why not? Anytime anything happens anywhere in the terrorist realm they take credit. We even talk about this has-been clique as if it is still a threat, in and of itself. Truth is al-Qaeda is so 2001. Give it up. The whole thing reminds me of Britney Spears, who was at her nubile jail-bate best in ’01, and is now an ebony-quaffed pregnant white-trash harpy.

These guys cling to 9/11 as some kind of super-victory. C’mon already, 9/11 was a half-decade ago. Sarah Silverman is even goofing on it now: “American Airlines should advertise they were ‘first through the towers’.” If it weren’t for the Bush Administration or Ann Coulter it would be ancient history by now. This reminds me of driving down Northern Blvd. in 1993 and seeing an aging sign celebrating the 1986 Mets. Enough already. Let’s see some action and less yapping from these idiots.

What have you done to us lately?

“Stand with Muslims in confronting this unprecedented oppression and tyranny,” al-Zawahri continued. “Stand with us as we stand with you against this injustice that was forbidden by God in his book.”

Notice the desperate cry for attention to cash in, connect his merry band of yesterday’s news with the current crisis: “Stand with Muslims?” “Stand with us?”

Muslims = Us. This is akin to the Jerry Falwells of the world talking about their voodoo shit as if their myopic fantasies gel with the rest of Christendom.

This is the fatal flaw in being a revolutionary; you have to matter. You have to be in the spotlight. It’s over for al Qaeda. They had their time. No one wants to hear from Ayman al-Zawahri anymore than they want to “Get Jiggy”. It’s over. Time to hate someone who matters.

Now Al Jazeera is another kettle of trout. They are a happening media event right now. Go where the action is, that’s what I say.

To that end I recently contacted the advertising department of the station through Allied Media, which makes a pretty convincing argument about placing your ad campaign in their hands: “Al Jazeera is the largest and most controversial Arabic News Channel in the Middle East, offering news coverage 24 hours a day from around the world and focusing on the hottest regions of conflict. With programming focusing primarily on news coverage and analysis, the station has earned the loyalty of a large audience. It has also earned the enmity of various critics who argue that Al Jazeera is overly sensational, with a bent on showing bloody footage from war zones as well as giving coverage to violent groups. Criticism from varied governments has helped the channel garner credibility from an audience that is used to government-imposed censorship and biased coverage.”

Hottest regions of conflict! Excellent. The spirit of fighting censorship has always been something of a lifestyle for me. Al Jazeera turns negative publicity into gold! It’s like the new Eminem, who has also gone the way of spandex and Rubik’s Cube. Not to mention the ability to reach 40 million radicals in the Arab world and 175,000 in the U.S. alone.

So after a lengthy discussion with a Mr. M. Saout – he never did reveal what the M stands for – on my repeated failures with working within and without the vagaries of the publishing industry and the continued fuck-ups of my current distributor/publisher, Airleaf and the Phenix & Phenix Publicity troupe, I pitched the idea of plugging my next book to radical Muslims and funding a documentary on the primacy of Moses in the history of the Holy Land and why Islam is pretty much an hilariously formulated hoax.

Surprisingly, he was not receptive. Reminded me of my battles with Simon & Schuster ten years ago. He even used the same response: “This will not fly here.”

Therefore I urge all of my readers to pitch your own brand of entertainment to Al Jazeera now. You can reach Allied Media in Alexandria, VA at (703) 333 2008, or e-mail them now at aljazeera-tv@allied-media.com.

Just don’t suggest any of the following. They have all already been forcefully rejected:

The Mohammad Variety & Laff Hour

Stripping – Women out of their burkas and into your heart

The Osama Corpse Cam

Good Morning What’s Left of Beirut!

Celestial Virgins Are Overrated

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Robert Novak & Journalistic Ethics

Aquarian Weekly 7/19/06 REALITY CHECK

UNRELIABLE SOURCES How Two Bobs Are Killing The Free Press

Robert NovakIn the long, steady stream of crumbling credibility surrounding this god-forsaken Valerie Plame outing case, syndicated columnist Robert Novak released the names of his confidential sources this week, or at least the confirming sources in the 2003 story that lead to this mayhem in the first place. Nobody is surprised at the revealing of Karl Rove, who, unfortunately, is not going to prison, and nobody beyond the most insufferable Beltway nerds have any clue who Bill Harlow – a purported spokesman for the CIA, which is a contradiction in terms anyway – is. But neither name is important here, nor is the identity of the original source. Here we only, finally, discuss the concept and importance of protecting confidential sources to the power and priority of a free press, the penultimate blockade in our 230 year-old experiment in democracy.

Novak, along with celebrity journalist and a hero of anyone who has done this job for five minutes, Bob Woodward, who, in recent decades since toppling Tricky Dick, has morphed into a celebrity political slut, have sold out one of the most sacred tenets of this profession: Do Not Reveal Sources.

This atrocity comes on the heals of last year’s jailing of journalists Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper for attempting to protect sources, an incident which brought to the surface over a dozen cases across the country in the past 24 months of accredited journalists subpoenaed in federal cases and forced to reveal confidential or background sources under the threat of prison.

Nobody loves to bash the mainstream media more than me, and God knows I have been unkind in this space to my chosen profession, or part-time profession now, or whatever it is you might call what we do here; but if the press is going to be this weak, then batten down the hatches, we’re officially living in a fascist state.

Then we have this asinine argument two weeks ago that the NY Times should sit on the electronic spying of bank records, as if the public has no right to know that federal agencies are tapping into private accounts. You can certainly argue social responsibility or timing or even the age-old national security issue (see Berlin, 1933 for details) but you cannot argue rights. It’s nuts. It’s stupid. And folks, unless you have yet to visit the most rudimentary civics class, it’s unconstitutional.

But enough Basic American History and Journalism 101. Back to Novak and Woodward.

Last year Woodward barbed and winced and then apologized for a similar story he penned on the Plame affair, going as far as engaging in childish schoolyard antics, by telling everyone the aforementioned secret source spoke to him first. Jeez. Bully for him. However, through all this weeping, back-biting, and sickening consolation, we get the name of former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who has repeatedly offered a telling “no comment”, which means he is, of course, the primary source.

So I guess it’s too bad for Armitage. Simply because he entered into a sacred agreement that he provide information for a story, regardless of whether anyone thinks the story pertinent, politically motivated vengeance, or nonsense, he has to scramble and eat shit. This is, in journalistic parlance, an abomination, not unlike what normally fills the space of this column weekly. But I digress.

Listen, if Armitage wants to reveal his identity, this is his right. But he should not be forced out, not by special prosecutors or publicity-starved journalists, or anyone at any time. It is foremost Armitage’s right to privacy being infringed upon, but it is also the right of a free press to gather information for an important story and not selling out their primary sources to do so that is the most heinous element to this mess.

I don’t care who’s guilty in all this Plame case. That’s Plame’s problem. I’m sure everyone is guilty. Maybe Scooter Libby will be the scapegoat. Maybe not. Maybe his “I’m a nutso Alzheimer’s victim” defense will fly. Not sure. Don’t care. Not anymore. Politics is ugly and war is hell. Plame is a small causality compared to the thousands of people either dead or maimed in the past three years. What I do care about, as should you, is that a sad majority of the national press in this country is chucking the final remnants of investigative journalism into the scrap heap: The Deep Background Off-The-Record Source.

I’ll tell you one thing, if I had the goods on an important story to impart, I would go nowhere near Novak or Woodward. I don’t give half a fart how long these geezers have been pounding the trail. They cannot be trusted. But who can be trusted? Ah, good one.

So it should be considered an outrage for anyone who celebrates freedom as bestowed upon us through bloody revolt, raging debate, and countless speeches from rich white guys that the supposed free press can be bullied this way. I have had enough of this bullshit. Nobody loves to bash the mainstream media more than me, and God knows I have been unkind in this space to my chosen profession, or part-time profession now, or whatever it is you might call what we do here; but if the press is going to be this weak, then batten down the hatches, we’re officially living in a fascist state.

Christ, I have been one of the saner voices in the wilderness over the pasty years when all of my radical and left wing pals begged me to compare this government to Nazis or scream about baby killers in Iraq. I have stayed out of that arena. I choose to sling arrows from a more logical point – in the middle. But I will not sit around and watch tired incontinent hacks like Novak or prima donnas like Woodward piss all over the immutable right and duty of journalists to protect sources, no matter what.

The bidding on the identity of Georgetown begins now.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Al Qaeda Shell Game

Aquarian Weekly 6/28/06 REALITY CHECK

AL QAEDA SHELL GAME The Great Con Of Terrorism

Interchangable PawnThere’s a big article in this week’s Newsweek magazine that echoes the fantasy that has been conjured by not only the mainstream media, but, more alarmingly, by the CIA and the Pentagon, and the whole of the United States government: This al Queda everyone has been so hot about since 9/11 is a tangible entity. It is not. And this bit of misinformation has been as dangerous an enemy as we’re told al Queda is supposed to be. Those in charge don’t admit it, or won’t admit it in public, because they have no idea what or who al Queda really is, and that would not go over too well if they went that route.

The worst part is this is not any grand revelation. It’s been a repeated mistake that has had grave consequences for this country before and after 9/11/01, not the least of which is the bloody dog and pony show currently going down in Iraq. And not only did those in charge of the thing mistake insurgents for guerrilla warriors, but also clumped at least three warring factions as “the Iraqi people” for four years running now. As in, “The Iraqi people yearn to be free of a dictator” and “The Iraqi people want the right to vote” and “The Iraqi people will treat us like liberators”.

Wrong. Wrong. And, guess, what? Wrong.

There were never any Iraqi people. The “Iraqi people” didn’t think so; therefore we shouldn’t have gone along with it. But we did. We didn’t recognize the Sunnis or the Kurds or the Shiites as completely separate religious, cultural, and geographical entities, which were held together by the iron fist of madness, and left to their own devices would fight to the death to gain control of the hearts and minds of a fractured nation. And because we failed to realize this, we now have our military embroiled in an all-out civil war, one in which we cannot abandon anytime soon without looking like master chessmen sacrificing pawns for a minor victory down the line.

But that is a discussion for another day. Now we speak of al Qaeda, and more precisely its latest fallen “leader”, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, made infamous by his televised beheading of American Nick Berg two years ago, and whose death a few weeks back drove confetti sales up inside the Beltway and had everyone giddy with joy.

The bigger picture? There is no al-Qaeda. There is only chaos.

And that’s where we come to our Newsweek article and its query over “Who Will Be al-Zaqawi’s Successor?”

Successor? What do we think this is some kind of hostile corporate take-over, an NFL coaching change, or the Queen of England here? There is no successor. There is no leader. There is no al-Queda. It is a ruse, a smokescreen, some kind of shell game that fractious hordes of murderous rogues are playing on the big bad U.S. of A. This is why this space has maintained for five years now that the celebrated figurehead of western hatred Osama bin Laden is dead. He had as many enemies within the radical Muslim community (and just using the word community here is short-sighted naiveté) as he did without. It’s a free-for-all, kids. The sooner we cop to this, the sooner we’ll be able to deal.

A prime example of this came home to roost this week when two U.S. soldiers were found mutilated beyond recognition by purportedly al-Qaeda in response to al-Zaqawi’s death. A brand new loon by the name of Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, aka Abu Ayyub al-Masri, aka Youssef al-Dardiri, another Reagan-funded member of the 1980s’ Afghani Freedom Fighter clan, claimed mastermind/leadership duties on this abomination, and according to reports and web blogs and other completely unreliable sources, Mr. Whatever is now the “successor” to al-Zarqawi. We call him Mr. Whatever because there are also more reliable reports out of London and Jerusalem the morning I write this that al-Muhajer and al-Masri are not even the same guy. But the real problem here is that some other branch or segment or off-shoot of al-Qaeda, whatever that is, (and there are now five or six of these in Iraq alone) claims responsibility.

Of course this is business as usual in the underworld kill-fest of terrorism. Usually in places like Israel or Pakistan you have to get in line to claim responsibility for this kind of brutal shit. On a fair day four different news organizations will throw a dart at a board with names of various independent terrorist organizations (and again I use the term “organizations” with the utmost irresponsibility) and hope for the best.

According to Newsweek, right now in Iraq there are at least eight known terrorist groups claiming to be an arm of al Queda. They are the Mujahedin Shura Council, which consists of the Victorious Sect Army, the Monotheism Supporters Brigade, the Al-Ahwal [Fear] Brigade, and the Al-Murabitun Brigades. Then there is the Ansar-al-Sunnah, the Islamic Army of Iraq, the Mujahedin Army, and the 1929 Revolutionary Brigade. And as far as we, the CIA, the FBI, the U.S. Military, Dick Chaney, Donald Rumsfeld, Katie Couric, or the gray-haired guy who won American Idol know, none of them wear any kind of uniform or espouse a specific political agenda or ideology, except to cause as much mayhem and murder as possible. I guess that’s an ideology, but none that we, quite obviously, can fathom.

You see, and this has been brought up here (“The New War” – Issue: 9/1/98) and elsewhere over and over but has not sunk in enough to be useful, this enemy is not the Nazis or the Soviets or pick-and-choose your direct identifiable enemy. This is a roaming pack of thugs and criminals and crazies that you cannot wage war on or give speeches about or pinpoint in any military conventional way. A glaring example of this is the “Mission Accomplished” flack the president takes to this day. The fact is the mission was accomplished: Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party were expunged from Baghdad. This was the mission, however steeped in lies and propaganda: This was the mission.

Since then the mission has been something else, which is why Republicans in Congress this past week arguing that pulling out of Iraq is tantamount to surrender is playing both sides of the fence. First they agree with me that the mission had been accomplished, and now we’re trying to build a nation, but when the debate tumbles in that direction they conveniently try and make this about The War. It is not a War, it is an occupation/policing of a violent civil conflict and a fending off of random acts of murder, and it should have never come to this if the people running things had understood the bigger picture.

The bigger picture? There is no al-Qaeda. There is only chaos.

How do you fight chaos? I don’t know. We pay people to handle that. But I know one thing: You don’t do it like this.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

The IDF Summer Tour

Aquarian Weekly 6/26/06 REALITY CHECK

On The Road Again With The Humorless Kill Machine

Bierut BurnsThe Israeli Defense Force has gone crazy.

This is not good news for anyone in a turban with an Allah fixation. It is worse news for anyone standing next to these people. At least the militants will be massacred for a cause, however extraordinarily pathetic that cause might be. The rest are just human run-off.

Innocence does not matter. Innocence is like a speed bump to the world’s fiercest fighting unit. Innocence. Regret. Conscience. Mercy. These are not in the vocabulary. The IDF does not scare. It does not wince. It just keeps coming. Retreat? Only when the USA says so, like six years ago when Lebanon began to emerge from the dark ages. Otherwise, it’s hardcore advancing. Pure. Brutal. Destruction.

But it’s not World War III or the End of Times, or anything else the kooky Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says it is. It is horrible for some, devastating for most, and scary for all – but it is only the beginning.

In all due respect to Nasrallah, who will likely be a charred corpse by the time I finish this column, his Hezbollah, just like al Qaeda or the PLO, is merely a pawn in a greater game. Soon, when Iran finally stands up for itself, instead of funding cheap hit-and-run artists, and Syria gets its collective head out of its ass, then Isreal will have a real enemy to pummel. Perhaps then the USA can get involved, or the UN, or some other impotent gaggle of neckties.

Until then it’s crazy time.

Hey, it’s not like we didn’t warn these idiots: “As far as Iran taking over as ‘The New Threat’, many familiar with the region and the country’s capabilities for war know it pales in comparison to what Israel holds and is more than willing to use at the drop of a hat. And pretty soon, if someone is wacky enough in this crumbling administration to will it, there could be word that they’ll have to fend for themselves. And once the IDF gets the green light, they will point the finger at Iran. Go ahead and tally up the potential devastation. I dare you. Know this: The Iranians will not come out on top.” (“Iran Crisis Is A Fraud” – Issue: 4/26/06)

Lebanon should not be left out of the equation either. It’s as good a reason as any for why 30 years of rebuilding has gone kablooey in a few days. Just think of it as another democratic experiment gone awry in the theocratic capital of the world. Hezbollah running Lebanon. Hamas running Palestine. The Israeli Defense Force going ballistic.

Either way you slice it, it’s bad press for starting democracies in crazyland. Freedom is just a word.

Adolf Hitler was free.

Genghis Khan too.

All those slave owners from the birth of this nation until the military smacked them around were free as birds.

Free. Free. Free.

But, as is my wont, I digress.

So Iran wants to drag Israel into a two-front war? Drag the U.S. into the mess to make the kind of waves it takes to keep North Korea off the crazy charts for a weekend? Sounds good in the pitch, but once the script is fleshed out and the casting is done and the director is on board, all you’re left with is Iran in a two-front war: Whipping up Shiite mania in Iraq to kill American soldiers while keeping the soon-to-be severely fractured Hezbollah in the game.

Meanwhile, here comes the IDF. Pissed. Armed. Razing the landscape. Running amok.

Not too bright.

But then Iran can never be obliterated. Too big. Worth too much to too many people. They can afford to be stupid.

Syria? They’re a whole other thing altogether. The rest of the world would hardly bat an eye if Syria were torched from the desert. What excuse does Syria have for being involved in this Islamic suicide pact? At least the Israelis are a threat to democracy because of over-zealous military vengeance, and Iran is clearly insane, but if Syria thinks it’s going to get a pound of flesh for being unceremoniously booted out of Lebanon last year by acting as a tinderbox for this giant ball of Hebrew flame coming down the pike, then it has sorely miscalculated.

Hope they really dig Mohammad, because he’s going to have some serious company soon.

The saddest of all is when finger-waving, red-faced loons start speaking out from these apoplectic religious outposts: “We will rain down terror and rejoice as the blood of your children run rivers through the streets!” Sure, on the wrong end of a one-to-ten ratio, skippy.

It’s like watching those painful pre-event interviews with the morons who insist on “running with the bulls” in Spain. They seem so confident, almost beatific, a tangible sense of joy wafts across their rosy expression. Then they are speared by a full-charge, grunting beast and they cry for their mommies.

You want to jump through the screen and stop these blathering zealots. Tell them they are loved. Drink a beer. Listen to a little James Taylor. Get a job. But don’t fuck with Israel. Especially an Israel that has a weakened United States two doors down dealing with a pile of shit six-feet deep. It’s a recipe for a heaping portion of death.

But it’s too late now. The ass kicking has begun.

Every once in a while the ass kicking is needed. Every so often the fervent believers have to be shown the real deal: Missiles. Tanks. Real Soldiers. And not the U.S. kind with the compassion and rebuilding and securing towns, but the blasting and pillaging and crush, kill, destroy.

Every so often, more so than not, the crazies get crazy in crazyland.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

Read More

The Democrats Are Finished

Aquarian Weekly 6/21/06 REALITY CHECK

THE DEMOCRATS ARE FINISHED Reasons Why Even With A Fixed Game, The GOP Will Remain in Power

Nancy PelosiThis crazy half-reasoned notion perpetuated by the rooting press and a hopeful citizenry that the Republican Party is doomed and that come November the putrid approval ratings of this mediocre-to-bungling president, along with soaring gas prices, a vacillating stock market, a botched-to-bankrupt war effort, a litany of investigations, and a landslide of hideous Capitol Hill corruption, will swing voters to the Democratic Party is at best silly, and at worst, stupid. The Republicans are not going anywhere. And the Democrats? Ha…ha, ha, ha…woo-ha, ha…gulp…ho, ho, ha ha heeeee!

Are you people out of your fucking minds? Have you slept through the past six years of this administration and GOP rule? These guys can do anything. It doesn’t matter what annoying crap these morons spew or what sort of questionably moral or legal or barely decipherable programs or issues or theories they throw out there, they are here to stay. Count on it.

Sure, I’m a history guy. You can cite tons of recent history that says that no president can be in the low-30s in approval ratings with all of the lunacy that has passed for governance over the past few years and have his party retain power in the Congress. But I would have bet the Clemens Estate that the bloodied corpse of this man would have been sent packing two years ago. He’s pretty much stunk up the joint since those towers in Manhattan hit the ground, and was well below the historical bottom line poll numbers for winning in 2004, but he was re-elected – by an even larger overall margin. And his party retained power then, just as they will this November.

Oh, you’ll say, “But Mr. Campion, or James, or dumb-ass, since then you have the Katrina screw-ups, the failed restructuring of Social Security, the Medicare Bill gaff, the Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Tom Delay and Bill Frist fall-out, the Abramoff revelations, the appalling 9/11 commission report, the Abu Ghraib horrors, the Guantanamo Bay fiasco, the vice president shooting, and, Jesus, man, this god awful clusterfuck of a war!”

Face it. The Democrats are finished. Then it will be left up to the Republicans to completely annihilate this republic and FINALLY wake up the rest of us to consider finishing them off as well. Believe me when I tell you, it’s for the best.

All good points, and you might add that even I, for a short time, was duped into thinking these maniacs were screwed. I even wrote it down and sent it to press with my name above it, and this paper printed it. But they are not screwed. On the contrary, I believe the results of the 2006 mid-term elections will, for all intents and purposes, kill the Democratic Party. It almost happened once, back in 1976, when all Jimmy Carter had to do after the Watergate disaster was show up. Then he barely hung on against Gerald Ford, a man for whom even the staunchest Republicans represented the ultimate stuck pig.

And so, I can confidently predict another Republican victory (maybe a few seats go, but not enough to swing power) marking the end of the Democratic Party, because the signs are there. You know how these religious fanatics are always looking for signs of the apocalypse or the second coming of Jesus or Mohammad or Charlie Chaplin? I happen to be able to read the clouds, the writing on the proverbial political wall – and fans, the writing is clear: Don’t count on fun and impeachment, and more investigations, or anything like that. Count on more of the same.

It is the Democrats last chance, and they will squander it. Then they will whither and die.

Item: Last week in San Diego, the first major symbol of possible Republican angst in the voting booth reared its head when Republican Brian Bilbray beat Democrat Francine Busby to replace imprisoned former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham in the 50th Congressional District. In a contest the Union-Tribune correctly dubbed as “a gauge of voter attitudes for the national midterm elections”, Bilbray carried the day. It is well known that San Diego is faithfully conservative, but so is the majority of this country, and say what you want about this Bush Kabal, Duke Cunningham is one of the most corrupt and insane politicians to emerge from a gooey quagmire of reprehensible behavior, who took stealing, cheating, lying, and overall villainy to new and exciting heights. Did it matter? Nope.

Another significant sign that the Democrats’ Waterloo is nigh is this whole Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage nonsense. Of course Bush, who failed to even utter this proposal to “stabilize society” since the week before his re-election, has brought this steaming pile of bigotry out of mothballs to galvanize the base. Who cares? It does! And that’s all that counts.

Item: Nearly 60% of America opposes gay marriage, and some 42% favor some kind of national law to ban it. Whipping these atavistic zombies into a frenzy is sound politics, and speaks to a larger issue – many congressional districts teeter on the precipice of social issues, whether local or not, and Republicans currently have a stranglehold on it. Period. Push comes to shove, they will use wacky fringe issues to batter Democrat opponents, and recent history shows it works like gangbusters.

The final problem with extrapolating the paltry Bush approval ratings or the avalanche of bad news pummeling Congress weekly to build a “voter anger” or “voter need for change” theory is that even though only a jabbering simpleton, or, say, Sean Hannity, can even fathom contemplating this current government as remotely decent, the majority of people in this country like Bush. I like him. I think he’s just a lousy president and a doofus, but I don’t dislike him personally. He’s not a bad man, just overwhelmed and stymied by his own limitations – mentally, emotionally, politically, and, well, in just about every base facet of human capacity to function.

So, even though, when forced to give an answer on whether Captain Shoo-in knows what the hell he’s doing, people will respond, “Not really.” But if they think he should be tarred and feathered or run out the District of Columbia on a rail? “Nah.”

To the voting public, Bush and the Republicans are like a mediocre, but lovable, ballplayer, that, although deserves booing, also engenders support.

Hey, I get a lot of mail from angered and fed up people, there’s just not enough of you to pull out 14 Congressional seats in four months. Not when you include the Red states involved and the overall philosophy of this country.

Face it. The Democrats are finished. Then it will be left up to the Republicans to completely annihilate this republic and FINALLY wake up the rest of us to consider finishing them off as well. Believe me when I tell you, it’s for the best.

Or you can pray to whatever god you might subscribe to that a woman is elected president in ’08.

Ha…ha, ha, ha…woo-ha, ha…gulp…ho, ho, ha ha heeeee!

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

The NSA Tapes

Aquarian Weekly

THE NSA TAPES – Reality Check News & Information Desk Hotline Tapped

NSA TapesEditor’s Note: Due to a gaping loophole in the Freedom of Information Act, the following transcripts on private conversations between members of the Check Staff and/or James Campion, with outside sources compiled by the NSA, were obtained and sent to press unedited for the purposes of authenticity. Our legal department omitted last names and referenced names for obvious reasons. Do not be shocked. This could be you.

MARCH 7 – 11:23 AM Incoming call from Jack C.

Melissa (staff bully): Desk, can I help you?

Jack C (stalker): Where’s Campion?

Melissa: We don’t know. We never know. It’s best that way.

Jack C: But I have to speak to him. What’s his cell number?

Melissa: Cell phone? No. No cell phones. You have to use Morse Code.

Jack C: Morse code? Who the fuck uses Morse code anymore?

Melissa: Campion. Morse code – hard to trace and easy to save incoming information.

Jack C: I’m not going to…

Melissa: It’s simple, dim wit, just always remember a dash is equal to two dots and the space between parts of the same letter is equal to one dot.

Jack C: But I don’t have an instrument…

Melissa: And please don’t forget that the space between two letters is equal to three dots. And if you want to really piss Campion off, put more than a single space between two words, because that equals five dots. Five dots! Get it?

Jack C: Ma’am…

Melissa: Are you writing this down, suckfish? (line breaks up here)

APRIL 12 – 2:45 AM Incoming call from Parker P.

Carl (nervous intern): Desk?

Parker P (actress): Never mind, I need to speak to the managing editor, please.

Carl: Ms. xxxxx?

Parker P: You know who this is. I cannot be kept waiting!

Carl: Everyone is asleep.

Parker P: You’re not asleep.

Carl: I’m standing guard.

Parker P. I got problems.

Carl: Call the cops.

Parker P: It’s not that kind of problem. I need money. Tell Campion I need money. Just tell him it’s The Thing. He’ll know what I mean. The Thing. Don’t screw this up. There’s a time situation here, and it’s closing in.

Carl: Do you know what time it is, Ms. xxxxx?

Parker P: I’ll ask the questions here! Tell Campion to wire money to a Western Union station outside of Toledo for The Thing! The goddamned Thing! Make it a rush. In fact, I might need double.

Carl: Perhaps tomorrow…

Parker P: Listen to me, shithead! Some serious stuff is going down, and I’ve got to have this money, and I’ve got to have it before dawn! Otherwise there’s no deal! And I’m telling you right the fuck now, if Campion gets wind that I called and asked for the cash for The Thing and you didn’t wake him, and we miss out, he is going to blow a stack. And then I’m going to drive up there and beat the mortal snot from you with my bare fists. Do you understand me now? (call is cut short here)

APRIL 22 – 5:47 PM Incoming call from the Village Voice

Erin D (wife): What?

Unidentified Village Voice Editor: Wow, you’re answering the phone now? I thought Campion made you up.

Erin D: He did, go away.

VV: We need copy on this McDougal Street Flasher piece.

Erin D: What part of go away didn’t you comprehend? I’m up to my ass in shutters right now and I’m no secretary.

VV: Why did you answer the phone then?

Erin D: Seriously, I’m going to find you and make you pay. Do I even like you?

VV: I’m pretty sure we’ve never met.

Erin D: I know you. Didn’t I whip you in an arm wrestle at Chumley’s?

VV: That wasn’t me, that was xxxx xxxxxxxx.

Erin D: Right. I snapped that boy’s tendon right in half. Pretty good for a five-foot, 97- pounder. I love when men think they can take me. I bet I can take you.

VV: Can you at least take a message or let the machine pick up?

Erin D: Nah. (dial tone here)

MAY 14 – 9:35 PM Incoming call from Peter B.

James Campion: Yes?

Peter B (gadfly): What’s up.

JC: Nothing. You?

Peter B. Not much.

JC: Sounds good to me.

Peter B: Watching the Yankees game.

JC: Got the NBA on. Rooting for Lebron. Wife’s a big Pistons fan. She’s kicking me in the shins every time King James gets to the rack. And he’s getting to the rack, son. Ow!

Peter B: She’s sick.

JC: Why I married her.

Peter B: You know what the hell’s going with this Carl Pavano character?

JC: I think he’s in the witness protection program.

Peter B: He’s been out for a year. They say this is second or third rehab after he fell on his buttocks covering first base in March. His buttocks. Fell. Two months for that.

JC: Jacked on steroids.

Peter B: Likely.

JC: The King for three…! Yes! Hey, put that down… (sounds of struggle here, communication interrupted)

May 16 – 4:19 PM Incoming call from Dan B.

Dan B. (songwriter): Maestro.

JC: Admiral.

Dan B: You know, every couple of weeks I wander into a bookstore and head right for the fiction section and look to see if there’s a new J.D. Salinger.

JC: He hasn’t published anything since 1963.

Dan B: I know, man, The Four – There’s always just the holy, sacred four. That’s all there ever is, or will ever be – just those. But why?

JC: Maybe that’s all he had in him.

Dan B: I can’t accept it. How can anyone that good at something, that incredibly brilliant, just bag it? It’s Salinger we’re talking about! Salinger!

JC: Maybe he still writes, but hates publishers. I hate publishers. I really hate publishers.

Dan B: So? It’s not like Salinger would have to go on a book tour and sit at Barnes & Noble and sign books for three hours or go on the Today Show. He’s friggin’ J.D. Salinger!

JC: Maybe he hates writing. I pretty much hate writing. No, wait, I love writing. On third thought, I hate it.

DB: He has to realize he’s cheating the world. He has too. To be that great at something and kill it off. Halt it. It’s like a suicide. It’s creative suicide. He killed off Seymour Glass and that was it.

JC: He probably writes every day and has hundreds of stories, dozens of novels, and no one will see them until he dies and then his kids will exploit his legacy.

DB: They say he writes ten thousand words a day, and has been since the mid-sixties.

JC: I think that’s kinda romantic, pounding out tons of work for no one, for no cash. He’s obviously clinically mad. That’s it – he’s a nut. Or maybe he’s writing under an assumed name.

Dan B: Thomas Pynchon. Yeah, Thomas Pynchon is Salinger’s pen name.

JC: Maybe Dan Brown. Salinger wrote “The Da Vinci Code”.

Dan B: He writes for TV sitcoms now.

JC: Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s become terrorists.

Dan B: Okay. (high-pitched squeals over the line – agents crash in)

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

Read More