Ani DiFranco Speaks With James Campion

Aquarian Weekly 5/15/02 REALITY CHECK

TALKIN’ REVOLUTION BLUES
A Discussion with Ani DiFranco Part I

I consider Ani Difranco a fellow soldier in these ridiculous, sometimes humored, but always-rewarding sieges on the elusively hidden truths of our silly human collective. Since the night this magazine sent me to an old theater in Portchester, NY to watch her perform nearly seven years ago, I’ve been a fan. That night she spoke to me like few other artists have. I’ve seen her play a half-dozen times since, and each one brings a new experience, always effusive and brutally honest.

Over 12 years and 15 records, her biting lyrics usually reflected my own well-crafted cynicism of a politically ambiguous world bloated with lethal doses of sweet propaganda primed to reduce us to merrily marching mindless hordes. But along with being a kindred spirit, DiFranco’s independence in the manipulative landscape of creative distribution has been a great inspiration for a young author butting heads with publishing icons. More than once I’d used her name as less noun than verb, as in: “These fuckers keep this shit up and I’m going to Ani this book”; to which I did, happily.

So when we met on a chilly, overcast spring day in the industrial pall of Poughkeepsie, NY, in the bowels of the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, set on the shores of New York’s famous river of simpler times when the folk singer might earn a cup of java from a passing stranger for spinning yarns of heartbreak, Ms. DiFranco and myself had ourselves a chat. Two admitted lunatics dissecting the greater good.

on a morning beatific in its indian summer breeze on the day that america fell to its knees after strutting around for a century without saying thank you or please – 9/11 poem

james campion: This stanza of the poem you performed so movingly at Carnegie Hall a few weeks ago hits home for me, because it succinctly projects what I’ve been writing about for years concerning the U.S. presence in the Middle East and our inability to fully understand the cultural, racial and religious issues that are prevalent there.

ani difranco: Except to exacerbate them. (laughs) Well…yeah. I really don’t have a mind for the hyper details of foreign policy, or of what the stupid white men are doing, but I feel compelled to express things like the United States exploitation of not just the Middle East, but also the “Third World”. Our capitalist selfishness in terms of using the world’s resources and labor and just manipulating weaker countries for strategic and economic reasons. That’s a very obvious and basic thing to say, but somehow I feel the need to keep saying it.

jc: You refer to yourself as a folksinger, which I find enlightening, because throughout the centuries folksingers or minstrels used music to comment on social mores or social wrongs of the time. So, as a folksinger, do you feel you can tap into those same things and not be sitting on CNN pointing the literal finger?

ad: (chuckles) Well, CNN would probably be an impossible place to tap into anything real since all of the information is completely co-opted and controlled by corporate forces. So, yeah, it is a much better venue to pick up a guitar and walk into a bar and talk to people one on one. I love my job; traveling and making art in very common, open spaces and feeling totally free to talk about political or social issues. Music is a very effective way to communicate and inspire.

I think that every room is a perfect venue for political change, whether it’s a theater with a stage in it or a whether it’s a classroom or whether its the halls of justice. I’ve been engaged in conversations recently where people ask me, “What do you think is more important? What’s more effective? What’s more legitimate statement: To make radical art or to try and get in the system?” And for me it’s Yes! Yes! All of it. Whatever you’re fucking good at.

I used to dance; I went to art school for years. I love to paint. But there was something about music and the inclusion of words, the literal communication through words that I really felt was my most effective way to make change, to inspire people, to become myself. But for somebody else it might be raising your kid to be a respectful, loving, thoughtful questioning person. There’s infinite numbers of ways we can change the world.

jc: Yes, but do you believe there is still a chance for grass roots movements?

ad: Ah! It’s happening as we speak. You know it. It’s all around us. I feel a new sense of optimism out there. We may even be surfacing from the 80s’, (chuckles) culturally speaking. Of course I have a bit of a slanted perspective from standing at my microphone, in terms of what cross section of young folks I encounter, but I am impressed and hopeful with the political will of the young people now. They recognize that they were born into…

jc: A fixed game.

ad: Yeah, an homogenized culture, and wanting to dissect that. We were probably born just early enough to know a time when you could actually buy a record at the local record store.

jc: You’re taking me back.

ad: Yeah, (laughing) I think that young people are beginning to question that sort of corporate super structure. You know, all of the protests in New York and Seattle and Prague. I find those all very inspiring.

jc: So, you’re optimistic.

ad: I am…optimistic.

jc: You’ve mentioned Ralph Nader at several of your shows these past couple of years. I voted for Ralph the first time around. I vote for people with no chance. I voted for John Anderson in 1980 and I’ve had high hopes for a third party candidate to arise for a long time. Do you have any confidence that politics is really any way to get to the crux of any issue?

ad: Absolutely, now more than ever. I think that is of primary importance. I was ten years old in 1980, so by the time I was coming to any kind of adult consciousness the political system was a corrupt, capitalist club of elite corporate CEO’s. The whole Reaganomics, and the whole Reagan/Bush regime we are still living under, and I think young people completely divested themselves from their government. There was such a disconnection.

jc: There’s a deep seated cynicism. I know. I’m there.

ad: Well, the cynicism is well founded. We’ve had our citizenship stolen and consumerism foisted upon us, and at this point, ironically enough, there is a reinvestment in the belief in government, a reinvestment of energy and involvement, and that is the only thing that can recreate or salvage our “democracy”. I just don’t see a lot of young people getting involved in party politics, trying to infuse themselves into the system if there is nobody to vote for. So, not only do we have to get out and vote; we have to get out and run.

I’ve been engaged in conversations recently where people ask me, “What do you think is more important? What’s more effective? What’s more legitimate statement: To make radical art or to try and get in the system?” And for me it’s Yes! Yes! All of it. Whatever you’re fucking good at.

I have a friend I was just talking to last night who spent the last week in D.C. meeting with all these representatives and senators about this Yukka Mountain in Nevada. They’ve already spent four billion dollars on nuclear waste all over the country, and they have this plan where they want to ship it all to Nevada and dump it in an Indian Reservation.

jc: (sarcastically) That’ll work.

ad: Yeah, and it’ll never leak and it’ll be fine. No problems. So, here is my friend Susan attending meeting after meeting after meeting with all these senators, and she’s trying so hard to get these people to vote “no”. And when I spoke to her last week she was saying, (dreary tone) “Okay, I’m going to D.C. and I’m fixin’ to get really disillusioned and I’ll probably come back as a car bomber…”

jc: (laughs) Into the mouth of the beast.

ad: (excited) But after days and days of meetings, she called last night and it was so great to talk to her because she was re-inspired at the possibility of one person to make a difference. These senators just vote on what their aids say they should vote on. You know how it is. But she felt that her presence really had effectiveness that week.

If people had any idea how much power they have, shit could really change. If we just started exercising it. There’s some kind of African proverb that says; “If you don’t think one person can make a difference, spend a night in a room with a mosquito.” So, yeah, I am longing for an inspiration of progressive young people to change the system, and really get inside the system, not just working from without.

jc: When you write in your songs and speak at some of your shows; it is from a humanist standpoint, politically. You have this artistic individualism about you. So how did you react to the whole patriotic fervency that we just passed through? Not to demean why people lean on the group dynamic, but sometimes individual thought can be sucked out by this conglomerate – “Unless you’re with us you’re against us” mentality that happens when a nation is wounded. Did you feel at all ostracized from the vox populi?

ad: Well, that’s nothing new. The day I stop feeling that way I’ll have to start questioning myself. (laughs) But yeah, it’s just so sickeningly sad the way calculated propaganda and these huge media outlets could twist the idea of patriotism. They’ve done it forever. Completely inverting it. Go back to McCarthyism and the House Committee on Un-American Activities? When it is the most American activity of all to express yourself, to fight the government when it’s wrong. Democracy is about, “If you don’t like your government, change it. If you can’t change it have a fucking revolution.” They wrote it right in the constitution.

jc: Ready your muskets I always say.

ad: (laughs) Yeah! There’s some quote, I wish I could remember which Founding Father said it.

jc: Jefferson’s “Let’s have a revolution every ten years.”

ad: Oh, I don’t know, that’s a good one.

jc: I’m paraphrasing, but he did say it.

ad: You see? There is always this, “hear what you want to hear – see what you want to see”. They can twist things like the constitution or the Bible into any kind of oppressive tool.

jc: But isn’t the Bible an oppressive tool?

ad: It depends on how you read it; same as any document. They are just tools to be used, they can be used against us as well as for us, but there are certainly many positive messages in the Bible. I think Jesus…

jc: Ah, love and forgiveness.

ad: Sure, I think reading any document literally, especially something like the Bible, which is all metaphor, is so misguided. I’m not really interested in Jesus as a “walking on water” kind of guy, but as a revolutionary, as a guy who was trying to free the slaves, fuckin’ A. There it is right in the Bible: “Slaves bad.” (laughs) “Love your brother!”

jc: They took care of that guy.

ad: But there was some quote I read somewhere recently, it might have been from Jefferson, that “to not criticize your government, especially in times of war, when your government is perpetrating violence on another people, to not be critical is an act of treason.”

jc: I think it might have been John Adams. Those guys were all maniacs. If you read about the Founding Fathers, and get outside of the textbooks, they were downright radical. When you discuss McCarthyism it was in the 1950’s, not the 1850’s. And that gets back to the original question about your art, because I believe the only true voice left is through free expression. Art may be the only thing not annexed in a fluent dialogue between people and ideas, but every once and awhile when someone gets close to the bone, so to speak, they try to manipulate their words or tear pieces of them away like a Jesus or a Gandhi.

ad: Right on.

Next Week: Part II

For a complete unedited transcript of the conversartion: Ani Dialogue

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

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Parenting 101

Aquarian Weekly 5/8/02 REALITY CHECK

INTRODUCTION TO PARENTING IN A PREDATORY ENVIRONMENT

Due to the rash of recent revelations regarding the systematic abuse, both physically and mentally heaped on children of several generations, we present the following public service announcement from the hard-working, well-meaning staff of the Reality Check News & Information Desk.

Its aim is to identify evil in several forms, and not the more obvious of the species like Nazis, pimps, thugs, terrorists, grotesquely obese rednecks, hockey goons, loquacious crack heads, a third of congress, televangelists, talk show hosts, people who thought it was a good idea to marry on network television, dope fiends on welfare, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, the Gore family, the greedy fuckers who kidnapped my cat, Bill Gates, Chuck Heston, Al Sharpton, the little known, but all-too frighteningly real Nixon clones, NIKE, the entire editing department at Maxim – especially that little chunky fellow who repeats “ya know” like a mental patient, telemarketers who do not understand the brutally frank language of a quintessential “death threat”, anyone who refers to anyone else as “dude”, the Academy of Arts and Sciences, OPEC, NRA, NOW, PMRC and those always peppy cretins who use the following for general murder and mayhem: God, Jesus, Muhammad, the Bible, a flag, a clever chant, a rousing anthem, creed or atavistic speech.

Due to space constraints and the odd bathroom break, the list has been truncated, but suffice to say, contains witless examples of humanity’s mistakes. But it is not the obvious that we look to expose here.

No, chances are quite good that anyone seen ranting on about “green men from Hector stealing his soul at 4:30 on Easter Sunday morning, 1978”, while wringing his hands around a four-day old pigeon corpse is likely to send you scampering to the other side of the street. Unless you cull paychecks for freelance journalism, and then you are obliged to stop and pretend to care about the gentleman’s plight long enough to bag a viable lead.

If you have a child, whether male or female, PLEASE do not leave in the care of anyone EVER. Perhaps only your own parents or possibly siblings may suffice, but only following painful scientific scrutiny, a full cavity search of their persons and several psychological exams. Any other option is simply egregious neglect on your part.

And this is why we strongly believe our extensive experience in the realm of the odd, degenerate, deviant, mischievous and downright rotten, allows us the exclusive privilege to speak freely about the following subjects. As a veteran of over twenty years of running wildly around the darkest corners of sub culture, and chairman of The Desk for the past five, I accept the duty of dissemination with a destined ferocity rarely equaled in the annals of the written word.

Those who have known me lo these many years will concur that I have had the unique pleasure to have seen things that no one should have to endure without the proper medication, weaponry or shock treatment. Some of the things I have written about in this space and beyond should, by all sober reasoning, have rendered me a jabbering loon long ago. Some may astutely cite it most certainly has done so. It is a wonder I ever leave my room willingly.

But alas, we digress, for the matter at hand is advice and wisdom and salient pointers about the evils of this world which fail to tote their own handy sirens. Certain clever aphorisms point to the fact that the least of the suspected evil ones are in the greatest need of our attention. So read carefully on if you are currently a parent, or believe that you shall one day procreate. But, fear not fellow myopists, just about anyone sucking air in the 21st century will benefit from our humble foray into “personal safety for loved ones”. It is all part of a series we hope to continue to investigate in future columns under the heading:

LIFE IS BEST WHEN EXPERIENCED THROUGH THE EYES OF PARANOIA.

Point One: If you have a child, whether male or female, PLEASE do not leave in the care of anyone EVER. Perhaps only your own parents or possibly siblings may suffice, but only following painful scientific scrutiny, a full cavity search of their persons and several psychological exams. Any other option is simply egregious neglect on your part.

Point Two: All members of an organized religion, teachers union or the ubiquitous weekend volunteer coaching sect are prohibited. If you absolutely MUST give your kid a modicum of spiritual guidance, a half-assed education or a slice competitive nature, PLEASE make sure that the moment they can reason you fill their tiny heads with mind-bending scenarios of potential mental anguish, rape and humiliation.

Point Three: Do not teach your children that people are bad because of their race, gender, culture, faith or political affiliation. People are bad merely by being people. You know damn well that you couldn’t begin to calculate the moments in your childhood when you should have been crushed, maimed, scarred or mangled in some horrid way if you hadn’t been one lucky bastard. And maybe you weren’t so lucky, or know someone who didn’t make it through puberty for one stupidly heinous reason or another. So…

Point Four: The television, radio, cd player, video game players and most filmmakers or sports celebrities are not equipped to provide your offspring with the proper foundation for reality in the areas of sexual conduct, personal hygiene, proper vocabulary, polite etiquette or anything resembling sane behavior. These are forms of entertainment and corporate cash cows, and exist solely to distract us from understanding what the fuck is really going on in the way of annexing our souls for a buck and a hearty guffaw.

Point Five: (and perhaps the most important of all) Ignore convention, obliterate traditions, abuse parameters and be very aware of those who use phrases like “That’s not how it’s done” or “You better let us decide for you”.

Our next few installments will include:

How to Arm Your Children Against Priests, Camp Councilors, Babysitters and Gym Teachers.

Try and Avoid Marrying Crazy Women Who Are Liable to Drown Your Kids in a Car or Murder Them En Masse After A Particularly Difficult Lunch Break.

Men Who Lose Their Keys Every Thirty Seconds Make Bad Role Models.

Do Not Take Advice From Pathetically Wordy Columnists Who Crank Out Meaningless Crap to Make Short-Notice Deadlines.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 4/24/02 REALITY CHECK

CURBING THE INSANE & OTHER SOBER JUDGEMENTS

Hoorah for the Supreme Court!

Its final judgment on repealing the ambiguous Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 is a victory for not only free speech, but also the precious freedom of expression promised to the citizenry of this wounded, often misguided, but always resilient country of ours. As stated ad nauseum in this space since its inception in late 1997, this “law”, along with so many others which slip into the national debate each year, is a dangerous seduction in governmental regulations of art. This cannot stand; no matter how neatly rapped it is in scare tactics, pugnacious rhetoric and volatile “save the universe from ourselves” puritan horseshit.

This was not a “law” based on banning child pornography. If that is all these freaks want from “laws”, then why do they muck them up with vague semantics and strangely worded phrases like ” a range of techniques” and “youthful looking adults” and the always fan favorite, “designed to convey the impression of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”

Here’s a law we can jam through congress and send in front of the Supreme Court just to dare them to boot it: “Any use of actual humans under the age of consent as established by the state in which the alleged crime is being committed, in any form of art, film or dance routine, results in castration, general eye-gouging and public stoning. A raffle or a big lottery drawing will be arranged for the top ten people chosen to cast that first stone!”

This is just another example of how the concept of congressional politics, sequestered in its sliver-spoon, five martini lunch, kickback mania, can manipulate the loathsome language of our presently raging sexual deviances.

I apologize for the smoothed tone; it was the dreaded third draft. The first was closer to the bone and more direct, but even the enlightened sometimes bow to law speak.

But until which time we can get down to the crux of our “laws” we must be ultra-careful to watchdog what the hell the government decides is “youthful looking” and what “range” the techniques will achieve, and what exactly “conveys” anything. And let us not deem to understand the “impression” offered by anyone, least of all a designated area of “explicit conduct.”

Read that wording again. Now read Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” without blushing or running for your annotated Bible, with the bolded Leviticus chapters for extra “Wrath of God” goodness. “Oh, Jesus! Not Sir William! My Lord, where do we spark up the bonfire to burn that horrid ode to teenage lust?”

This is just another example of how the concept of congressional politics, sequestered in its sliver-spoon, five martini lunch, kickback mania, can manipulate the loathsome language of our presently raging sexual deviances. In other words, if someone hoists “ban child pornography” on any debate they are sure to get a rousing “YEAH!” from the clamoring constituency. This is tantamount to yelling, “Free Beer!” at a Hell’s Angel’s picnic or starting the obligatory “Boston Sucks!” chant in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium. You are assured of instant support and popularity, and that is so needed these days when most Americans view our politicians as the legion of Satan with a collective bad hair day.

Back in ’96, this was incredibly important to the Clinton administration, which was trying to draw attention away from the Willie Follies going on nightly in the Oval Office. Not to mention the FBI’s rabid cover-up of then attorney general, Janet Reno’s systematic murder of armed religious fanatics in Waco. Let’s face it, when your hosting “Friday Night Ass Slapping” in the West Wing, it’s hard to not at least claim you despise some form of pornography.

Remember, when this whole mess became concrete there was the silly idea that some right wing radical revolution actually meant something. We were all proud of our “Contract with America” and the sweeping changes in freedom it would provide to Johnny Six-Pack and his 3.2 tax relief. But that was before Captain Newt went to Princeton and tried to explain why God cheated women in the “strength of mind” sweepstakes and the freshmen congress fucked with the elderly. Yeah, it was fun while it lasted, and this annoying bit of legislation is its sad residue.

Now we have that lazy crackpot, John Ashcroft cramming CNN with cries that this ruling will prevent the FBI from rounding up the child pornographers and pedophiles running amok on the Internet. I think Johnny better stop looking at the Internet and begin trolling our churches and YMCA’s and Boy Scouts and all those sickening cretins who parade four year-old girls in juvenile beauty pageants dressed like Jodi Foster in “Taxi Driver”.

“Taxi Driver”? That was also in trouble under that atavistic act of 1996. But Jodi was only acting. You want to practice world class projectile vomiting, go to one of these beauty pageants. Yes, that is quite normal.

I have written volumes about this duplicitous type of government wrangling meant to satiate the weepy with mounds of paper trails, and I’m running out of space this week, so I think it is important to once again point out that thirteen year-old girls in jeans ads does not constitute child pornography. Neither does these silly machinations Britney Spears calls dancing. That may constitute subtler forms of child abuse, but let’s not go into that thorny category without mentioning the state of this country’s school systems, religious institutions or the pathetically poor state of parenting in the opening few years of this fancy 21st century.

Everyone knows what is child pornography. Let’s get down to combating that heinous problem, instead of creating new ones.

Meanwhile, without the complete and unadulterated freedom of expression and speech we are a doomed society. It is all we have left to us that isn’t cajoled, manufactured, bribed or compromised.

As always:

Fuck Law.

Use your brain.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

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Dick Cheney World Tour

Aquarian Weekly 3/20/02 REALITY CHECK

THE DICK CHENEY WORLD TOUR

We can all rest easy now that Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak is on board for the long overdue house cleaning that will be stomping through an Iraqi outpost very soon. Seeing how Egypt is mostly a satellite of Israel and its plummeting tourist numbers, Mubarak’s approbation is not nearly as newsworthy as the fact that the vice president has decided to come out of his hermetically sealed hibernation tank to grace the Middle East with his notorious presence.

It’s all part of the 2002 Dick Cheney World Tour, or more to the point, Arabian tour, where he will entertain the insane jabbering of atavistic patriarchs waxing poetic on anti-Semitism and crude oil prices, which have been steadily rising over the past weeks since our president started upping the ante on these haughty catch phrases of his.

Not that anyone at the time it was uttered seemed to mind the tasty allegory found in Junior’s pithy, “axis of evil” comment. In fact, if you can find a congressman or news commentator with a modicum of pride left in Washington these days, one might even say the crazy bastard nailed it on the head.

Fuck Iraq, and any dumbasses that still find themselves trapped inside of it. How many years of this pathetic bullshit are we supposed to stomach before someone with a pair of steel rocks puts the fear of Allah in Saddam Hussein?

Fuck Iraq, and any dumbasses that still find themselves trapped inside of it. How many years of this pathetic bullshit are we supposed to stomach before someone with a pair of steel rocks puts the fear of Allah in Saddam Hussein?

Captain Shoe-in is just the man for the job. His father failed. His predecessor, the Minister of Fun obviously couldn’t hack it. He has the blessing of these outrageous approval numbers and no one appears to care about Enron ending civilization anymore.

But I am way off the path here.

There is no truth to the reports that on Dick Cheney’s last visit to these shores he begged the president’s daddy to ramrod the scud express into Baghdad as acting chairman of Desert Storm. Cheney is a man of varied foreign policy skills, and one of the reasons why the Bush people pushed the Texas governor to add the old man to the ticket two summers ago.

But some people claim Cheney never advised the first Bush to “cut the head off the wounded reptile.” That was the boastful talk of patriotic crazies who once found it necessary to report that General Patton begged Harry Truman to use the U.S. Army to plow through Poland and up into Stalin’s living room to “personally kick that son of a bitch in the ass.”

Cheney never had it in him, but that’s what Jordan’s King Abdullah would have the traveling UPI geeks believing. Except for the glaring fact that Jordan was so overwhelmed eleven years ago, they had Syria and Iran thinking they would apply for a Euro-NFL franchise.

It was nice of the king to offer his meaningless opinion on the matters of American war policy though.

Here’s what he doesn’t get: The vice president’s eleven-state Terrorpaloooza road show has two faces.

There is the diplomatic “smooth the locals and keep the fracturing coalition intact for the impending big hit”, traveling photo op. Followed closely by the more intriguing, “let’s cut the crapolla chief and get down to the Nitty Gritty” stop off.

The Nitty would be the current “second phase” of this infinite War on Terror, not including the Anaconda thing that has been unfortunately running the bills up way past the spec limit in what’s left of Afghanistan. The pussy footing with the Philippines and the impossible mess going on in Korea not withstanding, the real crux of what is left of that gaping hole in lower Manhattan and that chunk of the Pentagon missing over by the Potomac has bore a great big, juicy target on Iran and Iraq.

The Gritty would be a not-so-subtle propaganda mission to pit certain Arab nations against each other based on economic concerns and desperate security measures in the region, especially the security of the Palestinian state that is about three more car bombs from extinction if the gloves are truly off for the Israeli Defense Force.

In times of foreign military action, it is important for a nation to not spread itself too thin. I think this is best understood not by history scholars, but by those ruthless bastards from my high school days who used to sit next to me around a large kitchen table and play RISK until the last bloodied man was standing.

God, I miss that.

But once again, I cannot stay on track.

And that’s probably a good thing, considering that this column has become a bit of a dangerous mark on my permanent record in these times high paranoia. It’s important to make my comments seem random and half-baked, loaded with carefully placed expletives and wry references to board games.

Divide and conquer.

The oldest one in the book.

But make no mistake here. Dick Cheney is the perfect angel of mercy to prelude the harbinger of doom. Who that will be, is anyone’s guess. Not even my stoolie, Georgetown is coming clean on that one, and I wouldn’t be bold enough to venture a guess.

Some of the right people will tell you these latest skewed ravings coming from the woefully out of touch U.N. Security Council about a resolution that “affirms a vision” of an official Palestinian state in the borders of Israel, where the Jews and Palestinians will live in beatific harmony, is a sign that something concrete in the way of missile tonnage is coming soon.

Now even Cheney himself is forced to consider this lunacy out on the front lines, while his boss riles up the American citizenry with talk of nuclear bombardment and Wrath of God 101.

 

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

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The Battle For Civil Liberties After 9/11 – A James Campion Special Report

Aquarian Weekly 3/6/02 REALITY CHECK

BATTLE LINE AMERICA

I think it’s important to point out that Donald Rumsfeld has gone insane. His Meet the Press, 2/24/02 appearance frightened me in ways that is hard to discern at the moment, but suffice it to suggest that he is clinically mad and currently has the power of two Caesars and Benito Mussolini thrown in for good measure.

No American citizen should have to suffer through anything like that without a network banner warning or a scrolling marquee underneath. Jesus, I felt like those crazed farmers after the “War of the Worlds” broadcast for most of the morning before a phone call from Georgetown jerked me back to reality.

“See that beautiful maniac, Rumsfeld?” he said with preternatural glee. “Goddamnit he’s good.”

I only broach this because my concern is always with national interest and not with the radical impulses of the foreign press. Rumor of the Pentagon leaking false stories doesn’t alarm my journalistic sensibilities, mainly because I sold them not long after college for a case of Genesee Cream Ale and a moped. On the contrary, I believe the more unstable the voice, the better.

It is apparently not bothering enough Americans that the events of 9/11 has given the government a free reign to slowly turn this country into subtle forms of marshal law, an Orwellian spectacle of never ending military missions and infinite wars.

There were times when the loose-cannon approach served Ronald Reagan well. The Soviets viewed the Reagan people as capable of anything, and that’s how Ronnie liked it. UN officials were sure the president would burn the planet to cinder on what they dubbed his more severe “incontinent days”. And by 1986, Muammar Kadafi found himself waking up in the middle of the night soaked with sweat and screaming about John Wayne gremlins gnawing on his testicles with nightmarishly penetrating fangs.

Ordinarily appearing on a network news program as a jabbering lunatic would be advantageous during times of global crisis, but it appears that Rumsfeld is making major decisions on restructuring civil liberties under the auspices that we are perpetually under attack. With the preponderance of this latest blind national acceptance of anything that comes down from the Pentagon or the FBI or the CIA these days, we had better be damn sure those signing off on them aren’t frothing at the mouth.

I don’t believe Rumsfeld is aware that he is loosing his mind, and he doesn’t appear to be merely a blubbering ass like Jesse Helms or Ted Kennedy. Normally, I would blame his behavior on “interview stress”, caffeine overload or bad briefing, like someone forgetting to remind the Secretary of Defense that the Pentagon has been bilking the American people since its inception, and it probably isn’t a good idea to try and sell mercenaries as choir boys on holiday when the red light is on over the camera.

The truth is there is a quagmire in Washington now that will be hard to siphon with one session of congress or one election, and since the secretary of defense is appointed, and not elected, and the current commander and chief is going nowhere, we are confronted with serious issues.

Some congressmen have already begun running for reelection by blaming the slag economy on the millions a day we’re spending on super jets cruising New York Harbor and the circumference of the Beltway. Others take credit for riding the wave of sudden hysteria into what will no doubt mean the kind of military spending that drove the national debt into NASA proportions during the 80s’.

But it will be hard for Democrats to get a sniff while this near untouchable Texan cowboy is mucking up the oval office with letters to the parents of kids who keep getting charred on senseless military missions or the pink slips for “special agents” who were pulling down six figures a year not to find Osama bin Laden.

It is apparently not bothering enough Americans that the events of 9/11 has given the government a free reign to slowly turn this country into subtle forms of marshal law, an Orwellian spectacle of never ending military missions and infinite wars.

Anyone whose career is dependant on the outcome of the next phase of this “war on terrorism” have to believe that if there is no concrete move on Iraq by summer’s end it becomes an ever harder to sell to the American people, the crumbling Arab coalition and the Pentagon itself.

Rumsfeld’s Sunday morning television stint notwithstanding, there is a certain air of John Mitchell bluster to his press conferences that set off alarms here at The Desk. This “holier than thou” Vince Lombari shtick has gone from wonderfully eccentric to annoyingly pedantic. His snide remarks broke up press row when Afghani caves were being smoked daily for two months, but in the glare of this latest military hiatus they sound like juvenile smoke screens.

Meanwhile Muslim women are being molested at airports and any protest against racial profiling is suddenly a hint of un-American activity.

Tom Ridge, director of the Office of Homeland Security, has taken that title to filter every possible panic the FBI sniffs to the point of hysteria. Of course there will be threats at major events, the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics, a Britney Spears afternoon jog. But what Americans don’t know is that this has been happening for decades, and because your government failed to protect us initially, we are stumbling toward a third world police state.

What September has done is raise the level of terror, its exact directive. Now we may be living in terror of our own government.

And this is a government currently being run domestically by attorney general, John Ashcroft, Ridge and Rumsfeld and Pentagon officials who have been on an unnatural level of readiness for six months. This is apparently too much pressure of for these boys, and if not, they really ought to prepare their spokesmen better.

The press cannot be trusted to uncover the truth on any of this. The news channels have been reduced to beauty pageants and piss fights between the left and right, and the New York Times is now soliciting unmarried freelancers to cover Middle East events since the video slaughter of Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl.

It is not a safe time to be an editor and chief when the good reporters are asked to stand down and wear flag pins and the freelance warriors are taking their lives in their hands just showing up for work.

For me it will be a comfortable ride, and I will not be swayed. I’ve fortified Fort Vernon and put the cats on full alert. And thank the gods of journalism I cloak myself in this weekly column so I don’t have to work press conferences or damned piker leads any longer.

Oh yeah, and my wife’s bullhorn privileges have been suspended until further notice.

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Inside Enron digs deep.

Aquarian Weekly 2/20/02 REALITY CHECK

INSIDE THE ENRON FIASCOA Special Report From The Desk

This ain’t about this that what where or how This is about the freaks doing everything they wanna do Now.” – Prince Rogers Nelson

With very little funds and even less disposable time, the Reality Check New & Information staff was able to track down several reliable sources in an ongoing investigation into the wildly popular Enron fiasco. The subjects, ranging from low-level insiders with the beleaguered corporation to peripheral clients of the dubious Arthur Anderson Accounting Firm, relayed the following details under their own volition. No one was paid, drugged or coerced into coming forth nor were they necessarily direct victims of any presently discussed alleged corporate and accounting malfeasance.

As is the ritual around here, the bulk of the information was edited for content by myself and sent to each individual contributor to either reject or qualify. It is important to note that all interested parties stood by the following story.

Late in the winter of 2000 the Enron Corporation purchased huge tracks of land in the Alaskan wildlife area to ostensibly build an amusement park to be run by current vice president, Dick Chaney under the supervision of Greenpeace. But it was merely a front for illegal drilling and gun running to be overseen by Chinese naval captains who were using kickbacks from prominent investors to torture Tibetan monks and fund forced abortions.

Whitman was on a private Enron jet with our Zippy Smith the day a cub reporter from the Fort Worth Telegram called Enron executives to rebut a rumor that the company never existed and the CEO of a multi-billion dollar energy concern was nothing more than a Liza Minelli impersonator from South Florida.

A gentleman, whom we shall dub, Zippy Smith handled the clandestine negotiations and claims that one of the key investors was a high-ranking government official whose main responsibility was the recruitment of Serbian refugees to act as a diversion at the Russian border.

It was during this time, according to Smith’s estimation, that nearly a third of Enron’s donations to the Clinton administration were used to develop specific levels of germ warfare in the basement of a Pizza Hut outside the city of Khobar in Saudi Arabia.

Another source, known to us as Dark Horse, confirmed much of Smith’s allegations, but made it clear that Enron was never officially registered as a corporation at all. From the start, former CEO Kenneth Lay, recently in the news for pleading the fifth during congressional hearings, was implemented at the helm as a patsy.

According to Dark Horse, Lay was a notorious cross-dresser and charter member of Divas Key West; a Florida based female impersonator entertainment company. During the Gulf War, Lay worked as an assistant to Dick Chaney and was expected to barter deals with every rogue element in OPEC, including the overtly effeminate stepfather of Osama bin Laden. But a third source close to the operation tells us that Lay was never there, and that his name was being used unbeknownst to him while working feverishly on his award-winning Liza Minelli routine.

This source, to whom we must refer to as Chunky, claims to have been present at several meetings in which Chaney ordered around a diminutive Arab boy whom he routinely called Kenny. It was this kid’s job to answer any phone calls regarding “the Alaskan thing.”

The plot thickens from here.

Zippy Smith explicitly confirms the Dark Horse tale and told us that around this time the Bush sr. administration was trying to outfox Saddam Hussein by creating fictitious energy concerns. The historically squeaky clean, Arthur Anderson accounting firm was hired with obscene defense monies to create the phony corporations from thin air under the guise of national security.

It turns out that one of the surviving names was Enron, and during the Internet boom of the mid-90s’ several recently indicted accountants in the employ of Arthur Anderson began creating a solvent company from five-year old fabricated books.

Our Arthur Anderson source echoed the story while adding that all of the documents originally drawn up included the names of deceased land barons from the late 1800s’. These are the papers key AA accountants shredded during the final days of Enron.

It was around this time that Kenneth Lay darted back into the picture after his alleged incarceration on trumped up charges of public nudity and male prostitution. Both Smith and Dark Horse agree that Lay’s subsequent suit against the Monroe County police was mysteriously dismissed. Apparently an unnamed character witness later identified as Cliffy Boy revealed that Lay had been merely working undercover as a correspondent for 60 Minutes.

CBS executives could not be reached for comment. It was getting late and we were hungry.

Dark Horse intimates that the mysterious Cliffy Boy was the late J. Clifford Baxter, former vice chairman of Enron who was found dead of an apparent suicide outside his home in Sugar Land, Texas, but is vehement in his claim that “this was no suicide, Bub.”

The question raised several times throughout the investigation was how were the employees involved in the decade-long scam?

Dark Horse told us that the original employees were in on the scheme, but left soon after unloading their phony stocks at record highs. Many of the original members of the Enron Project used the fast cash to buy shares in the Houston Astros and named the stadium after the bogus company for laughs.

The governor of Texas at the time, now president, George W. Bush, former owner of the Texas Rangers and a known Astros hater, threatened to blow the whistle on Enron, but the project had been his father’s puppy and continued to rake in billions for the state. So Bush decided instead to use blackmail to procure ridiculous campaign funds in exchange for announcing Dick Chaney as his running mate.

The new employees were merely on a need to know basis, which didn’t seem like trouble until the NASDAQ collapse in July of 2000.

By September of that year Enron needed new blood and started working with the CIA, pillaged by budget cuts and mostly bored stiff, to deal with underground real estate groups in the purchasing of land throughout the US and Canada. Zippy tells us the plan was to drill for oil beneath the radar of the soon to be doomed Environmental Protection Agency.

Come fall, all that mattered little when G.W. outspent John McCain in the GOP primaries and squeaked by the general election to become President of the United States and appoint party lackey, Christie Todd Whitman to head of the EPA.

Whitman was on a private Enron jet with our Zippy Smith the day a cub reporter from the Fort Worth Telegram called Enron executives to rebut a rumor that the company never existed and the CEO of a multi-billion dollar energy concern was nothing more than a Liza Minelli impersonator from South Florida.

This prompted a frenzied mass selling off of all phony stock and a cover-up worthy of Wall Street, throwing thousands of innocents into sudden poverty and a cadre of boring pundits from the drone of actuary hell into our living rooms nightly. Not to mention the millions that will be spent trying these freaks in several and varied courts.

With apologies to that drunken fossil, Paul Harvey, now you know the rest of the story.

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What’s Next For The War On Terrorism? investigates.

Aquarian Weekly 1/23/02 REALITY CHECK

WHAT NOW?

“Regiments are costly articles everywhere, and more so in this country than any other under the sun.” – John Adams

There is the assumption among the literary set that most people sit when attempting to read. If for some reason you find you are the exception to this, it is time you grabbed a squat.

The United States is prepared to take $42 billion of your money to rebuild a country they just spent an estimated $4 billion destroying. By all measures, this is a whopping bill for dismantling an Arab mafia.

Sorry, I’m wrong.

Afghani women can now wear lipstick, Tora Bora bars can restock their jukeboxes with Elvis records and the US Army has successfully proven once again that without the help of a global power behind rebel factions, most Arab nations fold like cheaply tailored Boy Scout tents.

Yes, and the transport of the 50 Taliban and al Qaeda detainees, currently being held at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, could not have been cheap.

The stockholders of this republic needed to be consulted on this.

We’re funding 12-hour airplane trips with two guards per man, jail cells furnished with handy Korans, televisions and exercise bikes? That’s got to run in the high six figures for each guy. And this does not include a lengthy trial vehemently protested by Ed Asner.

I think a public vote was in order: High six figures for transport and lodging or $45 per man to put a bullet in their heads where they stood. This price could have been negotiated down, if they were to dig their own graves for easy dumping.

Sure the options range from disturbing to brutal, but this is a damaged economy and we were told that survival is the order of the day.

I’m referring to domestic survival here.

Now that the rabid purchasing of American flags has subsided, the US economy is on a record roll of futility. Last year, for the first time since I began sucking air, the rate of inflation reversed upon itself. This is the economic equivalent of “Planet of the Apes”. It just doesn’t happen.

This Enron fiasco is so patently evil and corrupt it threatens the future of corporate embezzlement, inside trading, or anything that dupes the middle class into droned mediocrity for the remainder of this century.

There is a web of lies and financial indiscretions, and then there is Armageddon. The good people at Enron careened into the latter. And there is very solid evidence suggesting its malfeasance is not unique.

After all, this is a country fueled by corporate greed.

What shall we do without it?

Things are so bad right now by the time you finish reading this sentence another thousand people will be out of work. Apparently not even K-Mart will survive this, which will adversely affect the wardrobes of millions of mid-westerners.

Lord Almighty, even the executive producer of ESPN Radio New York is hounding me with poetic e-mails about $100 worth of Miami Dolphins paraphernalia I’ve owed him for two years of bad gambling, even though that wretched team mistook the first round of the play-offs for a goddamn bye week.

Wars are supposed to be good for economies.

What the hell is going on?

So now that the tears have dried and people can stand on planks above Ground Zero and see the results of the New War, and Osama bin Laden’s corpse is making its way across the Mediterranean Sea on a motorized dingy, or whatever wildly misguided intelligence you’d like to believe, it is becoming apparent that our president is about to be in the same spot his father found himself a decade ago.

The CIA allegedly has plenty of evidence that the Iraqi government, or regime, or madman dictator, aided and bankrolled the attack on this nation. This is not a subject of debate. It is a given. What is before the current administration is that if the United States actually continues this War on Terrorism it will have to do so in Baghdad or it will be waltzing toward failure.

Either that or the state department can start taking requests for Dublin and a house cleaning of the IRA or perhaps a raid on Manila’s transcontinental drug cartel. But that seems even less likely than a chief executive with the last name Bush doing anything to upset the massive oil concerns in Saudi Arabia or inconveniencing the other nations of this precarious alliance currently thriving in terror central.

And if I can borrow the tired holiday advertising campaign that THE TERRORISTS HAVE ALREADY WON IF you don’t spend your money like a drunken sailor on doomsday, despite the stock market looking like a Dickensian workhouse…

THE TERRORISTS HAVE ALREADY WON IF…We continue to chase dead men around the Middle East. As covered extensively in this space, al Qaeda will not allow figureheads to fall into enemy hands to be humiliated by the Western Satan. They have long since assassinated them for the love of Allah. The remedy is to call their bluff by claiming we’ve already captured bin Laden and Mohammad Omar and have sentenced them to clean toilets in the Pentagon unto death.

THE TERRORISTS HAVE ALREADY WON IF… We spend five seconds listening to Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His money-pit scheme to continue raiding caves and craters in Afghanistan with American troops is insanity. Get those kids out of there or face another Somalia farce, adding to the astronomical costs of lunatics idly waiting to form governments with third century BC, chieftain/war lord civic methods.

THE TERRORISTS HAVE ALREADY WON IF… We don’t completely abandon military presence in Pakistan before the impending nuclear piss fight with India turns the region into a smoking sinkhole. Its government is barely in control, and a war with a rabid neighboring enemy will cause American causalities and diplomatic troubles. Not to mention the costs.

At the current rate, we’ll be giving back that $400 a head in order to pay for this JohnWayne, macho hoedown.

Hey, vengeance is an expensive ride.

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Remembering Rudy Giuliani – A James Campion Tribute

Aquarian Weekly 1/2/02 REALITY CHECK

REMEMBERING UNCLE RUDY, KING OF NEW GOTHAM

No one glides more comfortably in the straits of the abyss than myself. I have called the worst part of the human condition home for decades, rode the black steed into the fires of Hades and emerged merrily chomping on a stogie and nursing a German beer. I have been bloodied and battered by first amendment abusers and earned meager wages for trashing nearly every breathing mammal in the employ of modern politics. But I am here to bemoan the death of the Rudolf Giuliani’s tenure as mayor of NYC.

I have always loved Uncle Rudy, King of New Gotham, Savior of the Urban Money Pit, Redeemer of the Fractured Island.

Somewhere along the mid-90s’ I wrote Uncle Rudy was the best public servant of my lifetime, and on his final days in office, I am proud to reiterate it.

I loved Uncle Rudy before it was hip and patriotic and obligatory, because I love New York City, and Uncle Rudy saved it.

It was an era of prosperity for anyone who loves the Big Apple, and as much as I claim to love Uncle Rudy, I love NYC even more. Even after the press boys at Gracie Mansion took my name off the list, I talked to him following nearly every Yankees celebration for four years, and he told me how much he would miss all of it. I told him how proud I was of the city, and how it looked like it could withstand anything.

I loved Uncle Rudy before he became Time magazine’s man of the year, because the gutless editorial department was too frightened to put a mass murderer on its cover. Before the mayor of New York was mayor of the world soon after George Bush sr’s chickens came home to roost in the opulence of lower Manhattan. Before the greatest city in the world became the greatest city in the world once again.

Until Uncle Rudy, campaign promises rang as hollow as guarantees from banks or insurance companies. It was, and still is, an accepted joke of the people and their leaders that nothing will really ever be done about anything. “Band-aids on gaping wounds” is how one elder reporter once described a particular campaign speech to me. And he sat through plenty of them. Told me to get another profession. “Stop sniffing after them pant-legs of powerful men who only use the press to inflate their delusions,” he snarled. “Then they become your delusions, boy.”

Those were the images I recall dying a brave death the night Uncle Rudy defeated David Dinkens in a drag out, knock down battle for the soul of New York City. No one in the pubs or the delis or the subway runs from Canal to Columbia, whether they lived on the right or the left wings believed Dinkens could lose. From the Hip Hop fusion of Harlem to the rapacious lunacy of Wall Street, was anyone buying that a Republican could win the mayoral race with spit and fire, much less govern?

They’ll tell you now they could feel it, but they lie.

I can remember listening to that victory speech tooling down the Brooklyn/Queens Expressway, sneaking a peek at the Statue of Liberty by the old bridge and wondering if this crazed New Yawker, this glorified policeman, this shrill for the law-and-order choir that paid him handsomely to battle crooks under the guise of morality would have the balls to take on Mamma Bureaucracy.

But they underestimated the little bastard. Uncle Rudy did no dances and had no diplomacy. He called us cesspool merchants and feeble bleeding hearts and vowed to end the bullshit and clean up the town, New Sheriff and all that old Western nonsense. He had the badge and you could take the highway or bend to his bark.

Me and my pal Dibbs heard that bark tooling through Times Square during The Change. This was before MTV and Disney and the rich athletes poured their money into it. You could feel the old harlot coagulate and blister in the artificial midnight sun of the midtown lights. “He’s moving all the porn theaters and massage parlors and strip clubs outta here?” he laughed. “We won’t be able to see them, but WHO’S KIDDING WHO?”

Man we laughed.

That’s when we spent all of our money keeping NYC in the black on clubs and pubs and ridiculously over-priced restaurants, and the women at NYU, even though we could see those cameras Uncle Rudy put in Washington Square Park and Union Square and the Bowery. And what the hell happened to the squeegee guys down at the Third Avenue Bridge? And whatdya mean we can’t camp out in Central Park by Strawberry Fields or dump the Village Halloween Parade out on the street at four in the morning? And where on earth did all those ornery, crazed indigents go on every corner with the smell, the guilt, and the brick throwing madness?

I spent the better part of the late 80s’ and early 90s’ in NYC when it was a gunner’s paradise; the drug capital of Sodom and the cheapest street lay on the Eastern seaboard. But mostly it was a corporation bankrupt with smearing ointments and perfumes on terminal skin diseases. Everyone was leaving, again, like in the 70s’, like when the president told us to borrow money from the Saudis and Bella Absug was on the streets with a tambourine and a hat.

Then Uncle Rudy said he was going to clean it up. It wasn’t about politics then. Later it became a political circus, like when The Man told George Pataki he could look somewhere else for votes and backed the NYC chairman of the board, Mario Cuomo, a liberal democrat.

Then the party booted Uncle Rudy off the VIP list in the ’96 convention. But Uncle Rudy couldn’t be bothered. He had to bolster the cops and secure the streets, and put the hammer down.

And that hammer came down a few times too many, and maybe too hard. Innocents were gunned down like the last days of Saigon and raped in the bathroom of precincts, and it wasn’t too popular to be the strong armed mayor defending the blood lust and reminding everyone how NYC was the safest big city on the continent and tourism numbers were at a record high.

Then 9/11/01 happened and Uncle Rudy’s brand of the Big Bad was suddenly in vogue and the nation understood that the greasy wheel with the hammer was all the rage when skyscrapers became war zones and firemen and police were heroes again.

It was an era of prosperity for anyone who loves the Big Apple, and as much as I claim to love Uncle Rudy, I love NYC even more. Even after the press boys at Gracie Mansion took my name off the list, I talked to him following nearly every Yankees celebration for four years, and he told me how much he would miss all of it. I told him how proud I was of the city, and how it looked like it could withstand anything.

It sure did.

Now rules are rules and some other guy is promising some other stuff. But it ain’t Uncle Rudy. He was the King.

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War On Terrorism Revealed digs the dirt of Washington.

Aquarian Weekly 12/26/01 REALITY CHECK

A GEORGETOWN CHRISTMAS

Editor’s Note:

Having only heard from the infamous GOP snitch once since the events of 9/11/01, which was described by Mr. Campion as a disjointed message rendered mainly through indecipherable code, the insider known as Georgetown contacted jc the week before Christmas from an undisclosed location via the walkie-talkie feature of his Nextel phone. The following is the most coherent portions of that conversation.

jc: It’s been a long time. I put several calls into your office, and no one is willing to go on record regarding your whereabouts. You were assumed dead until I saw your picture on the CNN web site in the background of the Ashcroft deposition on treason.

GT: Hey, everyone on the payroll is a little busy right now. Plus, after reading those irresponsible columns you were cranking out for weeks on the war, I couldn’t lend credibility to any of it. You know the only reason you have any clout down here is because I keep calling you a cancer. That’s a popular term right now.

jc: Irresponsible?

GT: What is this bullshit about bin Laden being dead? He’s not dead. I know four major Saudi diplomats who had dinner with him last week. That legless fuck, what’s his name, the guy in that video with him, called the embassy in Pakistan and leaked his travel arrangements to the secretary. Christ, he’s using an American jeep to pick up broads at the border. Where do you get your info?

jc: I need to see a body. No one can to produce it, because it’s chopped up and buried in caves all over the desert. This allows his disciples to claim he ascended to heaven on some big rock in Tora Bora where he sits at the right hand of Mohammad laughing at the Western Satan.

What is this bullshit about bin Laden being dead? He’s not dead. I know four major Saudi diplomats who had dinner with him last week. That legless fuck, what’s his name, the guy in that video with him, called the embassy in Pakistan and leaked his travel arrangements to the secretary. Christ, he’s using an American jeep to pick up broads at the border.

GT: This is why it is impossible to talk to you now. You think this is all a big joke

jc: I’m not joking. He’s dead.

GT: He’s not dead. We have tapes dated 12/13 that have him ordering mescaline from his connection out of a hotel in Riyadh. He’s changed his name to Shlomo, and often passes himself off as an Israeli diamond merchant.

jc: That sounds like a blatant rumor. What did he need mescaline for? He was sitting on a mountain of smack.

GT: The man’s a junky whore.

jc: Anyone in this government have any balls to call the Saudis out for this?

GT: King George is not going there. Not with a 90% approval rating and gas prices plummeting.

jc: Iraq?

GT: There are already CIA agents planting Wall Street Journal press credentials on Iraqi military officers. American press affiliation is now punishable by hanging. Except for the NY Times, which is considered an ally of the Hussein regime.

jc: So, this will bring the grand total to three American presidents defeated by Saddam the Terrible.

GT: Not so fast. There will be weapons inspectors in there by Valentine’s Day. You can count on that. We have Hussein’s brother-in-law handcuffed to a shower nozzle in an Atlantic City hotel room. He’s standing in about a foot of water with his testicles connected to a car battery.

jc: Old-fashioned CIA stuff.

GT: You were right about one thing in those ridiculous columns: The real spy-ring is back, baby.

jc: I need to see more assassinations.

GT: They’re coming.

jc: Since you’re being brutally honest, can you comment on the 60 Minutes report last Sunday that Republican congressmen were sending death threats to Jim Jeffords’ house.

GT: So? That fucking, scum sucking, traitor humped the system, screwed his constituents, the party and the whole goddamn country. He should be standing next to that John Walker kid when they send him to the firing squad.

jc: Are you confirming that story?

GT: Wish I could, but CBS hasn’t gotten anything right since Uncle Walty walked.

jc: You think that kid’s a traitor?

GT: Jeffords is no kid.

jc: I mean the American kid who fought with the Taliban.

GT: I’ll eat monkey shit if he’s convicted of anything.

jc: I didn’t ask you that.

GT: Traitor.

jc: Back to the Jefford’s factor. Are you guys concerned about the budget vote?

GT: I’m concerned about the fact that the people of Vermont voted for a Republican and ended up with an Independent that is holding up the GOP agenda, backed by one of the most popular presidents in forty years. Now this bastard is holding court to the highest bidder. It’s fucking criminal and should be exposed for what it is: self-aggrandizement.

jc: See if you agree with this: Junior runs this War on Terrorism up the flag poll for four years, brilliantly masking the inevitable bankruptcy of the US economy.

GT: How about this one? Seventy percent of all Americans under the age of 25 join the military, leaving more money for their parents to spend now that they don’t have to bail them out, pay for drug rehab or support college in perpetuity.

jc: Do you expect the government to start investigating all these celebrity charity events?

GT: Let’s call that whole thing what it is: a PR farce. They’ve spent thirty years trying to figure out where the Concert For Bangladesh money went and now George Harrison’s dropped dead. Christ, you can’t expect dolts like George Clooney to know what’s going on. And it’s painful watching that O’Reilly guy sucking up free press by calling him names. It’s like watching Madonna at a Hollywood premier. Creeps the hell out of me.

jc: I’m not even that cynical.

GT: Didn’t I just hear you do a radio spot recently where you swore college football is fixed?

jc: I’ve started a petition to hold the next BCS poll meeting in Cleveland so their brutish drunken Browns fans can pelt them with garbage.

GT: You can put a bonnet on a whore, but that doesn’t make her queen of the Easter parade.

jc: Ouch.

GT: I was talking about football.

jc: Last one. I’ve been dying to know how badly you think we fucked up on 9/11.

GT: (long pause) Have kids, then tell them to have children, and hopefully by then they will know what happened.

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 12/12/01 REALITY CHECK

ISRAEL UNDER SIEGE

The state of Israel is under attack. This is not a particularly new revelation. It has been under attack since its inception, which has long surpassed any record for civilized conflict harkening back thousands of years. But this latest atrocity is apparently not going to easily slide into the pages of “here we go again” or “let’s get to the bargaining table for some whiz bang peace talks”. This one will change the face of Israel, its borders and its history, once again.

Didn’t you know? There have been a wide variety of peace talks and treaties signed. Yes, several presidents and ambassadors, dignitaries and heads of state have stood smiling for the cameras, heralding their new and improved peace accords. The faces and dates change, and there is celebrating and political posturing, and then there are dead babies on the cross down bus and slaughtered civilians in inadvertent crossfire.

Israel is defending itself.

And it’s about time.

What has happened over this past week is long past due. The hour has arrived for this nation to fight back in earnest. It is time it chooses survival over compromise. Anyone arguing against this has not stood next to wounded protestors on the streets of Jerusalem. I invite them to the experience. It is well worth the trip if you are going to debate peace processes and diplomatic posturing.

The enemy of order is the Palestinian Liberation Organization, its leader, Yasser Arafat and its offshoot freedom fighters, Hamas.

It is time for the United States government to get onboard with this view of Arafat, and what has been wrongfully perceived as an underdog Arab nation being denied strips of sand promised by God.

These are dangerous days for freedom fighters. They are now officially dubbed “terrorists”. This is what happens when the USA is yanked into the proceedings. Of course, with billions upon billions of annual dollars poured into Israel’s military and political aid, the USA has been more than involved since WWII.

But it’s different now. That kind of “involved” was before the big buildings disintegrated into the streets of lower Manhattan. Now it is a direct involvement, the type that tends to change semantics.

So, this incredible charade Arafat has perpetuated for decades as some kind of fatigues-wearing, hate-mongering guerilla wild man turned dignified world leader, is now finished. He is exposed, finally, as a thug instigator, murderer and inciter of violence and destruction. He can no longer hide behind this mask of suffering minority leader. He is the villain we pain to paint in Osama bin Laden, although bin Laden’s resume has to take a back seat to the disingenuous spin machine keeping this psycho windbag in a seat of authority.

It is time for the United States government to get onboard with this view of Arafat, and what has been wrongfully perceived as an underdog Arab nation being denied strips of sand promised by God. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians presently being charred by angry Israeli Defense Forces see it this way. They are abused, imprisoned and killed for the actions of a rogue military organization, acting under the ridiculous guise of a government asking for rightful sovereignty.

It needs to be eradicated. And those who have harbored, bankrolled and/or defended its actions must be silenced.

This is no different than what the United States is conducting thousands of miles from its borders, except for the fact that the enemies of Israel are its citizens. At any moment, a countryman could slink into a grocery store, hotel or city bus and detonate a bomb strapped to his torso. This happened last week, and the week before that, and the one before that.

There is a fine line between compassionate diplomacy and self-preservation, and this last devastating blow in Jerusalem, which left 25 more innocents dead, has crossed that line, again.

The PLO has been kicked out of nearly every bordering Arab country from Jordan to Lebanon and settled onto Israel soil to cause deadly mayhem. It exists only to terrorize. Whatever lied behind its original purpose is buried beneath all this hate.

For years, clear-thinking people have been screaming about these atrocities in several languages from several ports. Only now, in a world-turned-war-zone, with the American spirit wounded, can the rest take heed.

If Israel is going to be an ally of the United States, then it must be allowed to defend itself from this madness. It will not be pretty. It will be war. It has been war, just called “unrest” for decades. Now it has a proper term, because America has unleashed it on the world: The War On Terrorism.

Well, Israel is the birthplace of terrorism, the home office for killing innocents. This is where it all began in religious order on holy land, and has been raging for centuries.

The United States present raping of Afghanistan and its eventual revisit of the “Saddam Hussein Problem” puts Israel squarely on the firing line. If there were ever a place that would constitute the use of the term “Ground Zero”, it would be there.

Arafat, and the present Palestinian government, has had their chances, and they’ll probably have a few more, although it should end right here. His “police” will make a few grandiose gestures and symbolic arrests, but the track record is long, and none of it approaches positive.

This is not about religion or politics. This is about the preservation of life.

But if history teaches us anything, sadly, the smart money is always on religion and politics.

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