Dissecting Bob Kerrey & Viet Nam War Atrocities gets to the bone on war.

Aquarian Weekly 5/9/01 REALITY CHECK

WAR IS HELL & OTHER EXCLUSIVES

As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular. – Oscar Wilde

Big story this week: Innocent people died in Viet Nam. Other noteworthy events were the sun came up today and when you stop breathing…you die.

Stop the presses: War is Bad. Put it up in huge letters on the front page and send a copy to Dan Rather when you can wake him.

It was apparently newsworthy for Time magazine to slap former Senator and Navy SEAL, Bob Kerrey on its cover for his recent revelations about killing women and children in combat. At first he wasn’t sure he didn’t kill the enemy. He might have killed women and children. Somebody killed women and children. Whatever.

This is still an issue for anti-Viet Nam activists that cannot seem let go. They somehow feel by laying it all out on the line about the horrors of that unjust war, as if any war is just, then a nation and humanity will be healed. These are the same dupes who protest this country’s involvement in ceasing the systematic eradication of people due to religion or race or some other insignificant attribute.

But who among us can blame them? Anytime a father, brother or friend gets shipped against his will to a jungle halfway across the globe to be slaughtered for the pride or ideology of the rich and powerful, it tends to take all talk of glory out of the thing. No one wrote any clever musical ditties or memorable slogans promoting that.

War is Bad. But war is also the best thing a country can do for its economy. There are still scholars and historians who swear on stacks of Bibles that every war from Ancient Greece to WWII to that asinine Desert Storm was the result of sagging economies. War is good for money and if there is killing, mass or otherwise, there is most likely money involved: Money, power, God, all of that crap. No Time cover or endless debate on burning babies and massacred innocents will make it stop.

Blood is on the hands of Kerrey and his troupe. This is the unfortunate reality of war, but blame, fault, public derision and outcry should not accompany it. Kerrey was put into one of life’s most impossible situations. He was a soldier. His job was to kill and break stuff. Mostly, Kerrey wanted to stay alive. In the midst of chaos and disorder, shit happens.

The Shit. Isn’t that what the poor souls like Kerrey called battle in South East Asia? Kerrey has to live with that, but the blame, no sir.

Blame goes to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. This was their war, enacted strategically by the heartless kill mongers who culled paychecks from the Pentagon, the CIA and the military. If there is anything resembling a hell, there is a special wing housing them. And they are surely trading anecdotes with the litany of leaders who sent the masses to their doom for a patch of land.

But these have been the gory details of civilization since its senseless inception; so dissecting these concepts, as if it happened for the first time yesterday, is redundant and silly and really should stop. Now.

The ONLY reason to perpetuate this sorrowful mess, beyond television and radio ratings and newspaper sales, is the remote possibility that someone might learn about how disgusting and meaningless the loss of ANY life is over rifts about borders or perspective. But that will not happen, because as long as there is the penis and available currency, atrocities will soon follow. Dredging up memories of the poor souls sent across the globe to set this horror show in motion does no good for anyone.

Sure its interesting, like watching idiots eat bugs for a million dollars, but after its over we’ll be distracted by Cuban refugee children or a celebrity drug overdose. What is most important is that we understand that this country has been involved in some heinous war crimes. This is a prerequisite for any country. Ask the original natives of any continent. Ask Native Americans.

Viet Nam was a major fuck up. It was wrong and pointless and costs thousands of lives for little reason beyond ego. But in the grand scale of the putrid abortion man has made of this globe, Viet Nam is nothing more than blowing through a toll on the Garden State Parkway.

We used to revile people who came forward with the truth about war. Then we applauded them. Now we want them to stand for everything that is bad about anything. And when they are done, we wonder how they sleep or could have kept it hidden for so long.

Bob Kerrey wanted to be president. He failed. Now he is pouring his heart out to magazine editors and 60 Minutes. But this is not going to mean a hill of beans to people who lay in wait for the next big American invasion, so the sales of ammo and helicopters and flags can rise and CNN can make media stars of cub reporters willing to stand on rooftops and be bombarded by missile fire. It makes for great television and wins awards, don’t you know.

People will protest, make noise and eventually governments will come to some compromise on how to satiate the masses and gear up for another slice of Hades. And in the middle of it all will be another Bob Kerrey, and he will kill innocents and be haunted by it. He may or may not tell us about it. But it won’t make a fucking difference.

Hey, did you hear?

War is Bad.

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The Real China & U.S. Relations Discovered – Satirist, James Campion inside the “China Syndrome”.

Aquarian Weekly 4/18/01 REALITY CHECK

THE CHINA SYNDROME

The annual Reality Check News & Information Desk memo to the State Department regarding China and the defacto Cold War we’ve been waging with them for thirty years has once again only revealed the redundancy of its measures, the idiocy of its intent and the gnawing fact that it wasn’t due until mid-summer. But an international incident has a way of expediting useless correspondence, and there is little reason why anyone over there would be surprised at the events culminating from a spy plane boo-boo or why anyone should apologize for it.

A Chinese pilot died and 24 American spies were detained for a bit, but in the grand scheme of international espionage, all things ended somewhere between hunky and dory.

Human life has never rated particularly high in the overall theme of foreign relations. The Huns and the Vikings tried it for a time, but found raping and pillaging far more lucrative. The Greeks and Romans realized after a short bout of conscience that it just got in the way, and most of today’s nations manage that difficult balance of moral center while disregarding humanity completely.

The United States puts conditions on human life based on size of paycheck, color of skin and whether testicles are involved. China is completely lost in this category.

The real debate here is about financial diplomacy and the collective super ego: who looks like they won or lost before we’re back to business as usual.

And it is that spirit which is celebrated each time one of our corporations deals with China’s marketplace and the almighty free trade is freewheeling. Yet we spy and they spy, and we meet and they meet, and both countries put up wonderful fronts for the press and mom and pop apple pie and those unfortunate human rights casualties masquerading as citizens of China.

So it is a tad laughable that anything approaching a hostage situation, complete with room service and Great Wall rights, would rile anyone on either end of this political farce. Of course the Chinese are clumsy when it comes to snowing public relations, something this country has excelled at for a long time. Meanwhile, there are college kids in Beijing right now who hack into the Pentagon computer system on their lunch hour while IBM copyboys are sending forty miles of Chinese military secrets across crackling phone lines daily.

So for eleven days both countries postured over whom would apologize and how, and then in the wondrous tradition of a Bill Clinton grand jury appearance, the word “sorry” became only an apology when attached to a specific incident, as in “we’re sorry for the guy dying, but not for spying” or “we’re sorry we had to land because of your pilot’s inexplicably fatal actions, but not for landing on your air base.”

Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, a little perplexed that he’s not allowed to buy anyone in the new administration yet, was in the precarious position of staring down THE superpower on the planet, with one-tenth of its nuclear firepower and a host of his own spies in U.S. prisons. Zemin’s flimsy credibility stems from China’s massive population of potential American product consumers and the cheap slave labor that keeps K-Mart upper management in Christmas bonuses. China’s half-assed policy with Taiwan and North Korea is a minor inconvenience, and any real nuclear threat over the past four decades has been minimal at best.

China is no Soviet Union, regardless of what the flag-waving brutes tell you. The Chinese haven’t been as aggressive nor have they flaunted military might around the region the way Russia did for decades after World War II. China’s greatest crimes are within its borders and the human-rights abominations that are often ignored in Tibet.

And with all this spying going on, the U.S. government knows every gory detail.

This is followed by the obligatory public outrage, a few annual protests, an in-depth investigative report on 60 minutes during sweeps week and a bevy of speeches by government officials looking to keep the gig.

But yet we keep trading and smiling and spying, so, of course, there will be the occasional reconnaissance air craft lumbering across the sky – over international waters in international airspace, mind you – and something might or might not run into it. Then things are going to be strange and silly for a short time while everyone in charge scrambles to save face.

The real debate here is about financial diplomacy and the collective super ego: who looks like they won or lost before we’re back to business as usual. And rest assured business is what we’re talking about, because the days of “Yankee-Go-Home” and “Over There” and the comfy sense of national pride take the back seat to popular terms like “Bottom Line” and Profit Margins”.

George W. Bush has gotten what he wished for all along, he is the CEO of American Trade Concerns LTD, and it’s his job to keep those wheels greased and put out little brush fires like this latest embarrassment. And anytime a spy mission or a an under-the-table deal surfaces to the embarrassment of the two nations, there will be a ton of meetings and name calling and nasty good old-fashioned pride. And when it has been taken care of, like this latest screw up, then the money machine will be jumpstarted and all is right with the world again.

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Campaign Finance For An Enlightened Age ‘s manifesto for the cash poor politico.

Aquarian Weekly 4/11/01 REALITY CHECK

CAMPAIGN FINANCE FOR AN ENLIGHTENED AGE

Hey, goodbye all you punks Stay young and stay high Just hand me my checkbook And I’ll crawl out to die – Pete Townshend

I recently received a petition masquerading as a public relations memo faxed from the McCain/Feingold rah-rah group. It inadvertently alerted me to a growing problem in Washington called the Campaign Finance Reform bill. It was packed with twenty Senate phone numbers and instructions to flood their offices with calls demanding a ban on soft money contributions from corporations, special interest groups and Hollywood types.

A gentleman calling himself Cuddy signed the thing with a pleasant, “Thanks for your help”; an assumption that rubbed me the wrong way for reasons I will touch upon further ahead.

The whole Reform thing seemed like a good idea last year when everyone in the Republican Party attached the flimsy “reformer” ideology to every campaign speech. First John McCain was a Reformer, which helped him rap up the New Hampshire primary, and then George W. Bush became the “Real Reformer” and crushed the original Reformer. After a few months of this, Al Gore decided that being a Reformer was just as good as any other bullshit that might get him elected.

Meanwhile boatloads of cash came pouring into every campaign all the way to November. Ironically McCain rode the crest of the duplicitous wave that rode G.W. into the White House. Junior even had the old war hero up for a photo-op or two and then went about the business of making the Democrats pay for eight years of the Flying Clinton Show.

But a strange thing happened on the way to the inauguration hootenanny: John McCain wasn’t fucking around. He really wanted to reform campaign finance laws, and do it yesterday. Bush promptly dismissed this as grandstanding, gave McCain and his soldier-in-arms, Russ Feingold a friendly pat on the fanny and told them maybe.

Last week McCain bugged everyone within earshot to consider, vote, conclave and piss-fight over some measure of campaign finance reform. Proponents like Tennessee senator, Fred Thompson argued for stringent laws banning everything but citizen limits, making the NRA, union money, Exxon and the ACLU impotent in its wake. Opponents like Kentucky senator, Mitch McConnell, who told Time last week that the whole thing was “stunningly stupid”, join Nebraska senator, Chuck Hagel by adding fat to the bill with the hopes that it will be laughed out of Congress by happy hour.

But anyone discussing this with any serious hope of being elected to anything above and beyond dogcatcher needs to keep the soft, hard or sideways money coming from all ends. And I, for one, concur, because its high time I cash in on the American political sweepstakes.

It is my plan over the next two to three years, perhaps even the following 16 months, to earn an obscene payoff for illegal activities, including, among other gems, fraud, laundering, blackmail and journalism all wrapped up in a neat little package with one goal: Make myself independently wealthy enough to sufficiently create a special interest clan called the AAPGF: Artists Against Puritan Goat Fuckers.

I’m still working out the name, and not because Goat Fuckers is too strong and possibly offensive to the PETA crowd. On the contrary, Goat Fuckers stays, but if you really want to get something done inside the Beltway you need eye-opening political contributions and AAPGF is a difficult sound bite pronunciation for the producers of Hardball. And make no mistake, we’ll be spending quality television time making a ruckus and getting the ear of politicos with power dreams.

Initially the AAPGF would secure a finer ride for its president, maybe something in a Mercedes convertible and perhaps larger carnivorous fish for the recently manicured moat surrounding the Putnam Bunker. A close second would be the actual group, a heavy-bacon watchdog agency railing against any level of censorship. Major contributions from solvent creative types, huge studios and productions companies will help purchase the odd congressmen and senator, who we’ll ride through the system and crush any bill threatening the First Amendment like Campaign Finance Reform.

Plan B would be to stockpile the funds and go the other way for laughs. Ramrod the bill home with my pal Caddy over at the McCain office and pass the power of campaigns into the hands of the journalists. Then we’ll see who gets the serious kickbacks, that can, and will be funneled into a private cartel of freaks threatening anyone seen trying to regulate anything remotely creative.

Not that campaign finance reform is creative, but it does fall under the soothing blanket of the First Amendment. The National Rifle Association and National Organization for Women have every right to battle for their constituents as politicians do. And the AAPGF will not back down to any laws hampering our near-libel attempts at painting enemies of free expression as Morality Thugs orFear Pimps, our two favorite pejorative monikers. Murder and rape are worthy causes, but where is the support for people wanting to photograph 100 nudes on Wall Street or painting elephant shit on religious icons?

And while the freelance scribe business is both utterly degrading and grossly underpaid, it does have its setbacks. Why can’t an eager sod like myself take the American dream and abuse it to absurd degrees, with vague references to voicing the disgruntled nature of the bored and frightened, and cash in on the effort? I ask you: Can you deny a fellow patriot his right to buy happiness?

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Anatomy Of A Tax Cut ‘s real solutions for an unreal republic.

Aquarian Weekly 3/21/01 REALITY CHECK

ANATOMY OF A TAX CUT

Seven out of ten Americans believe they surrender too much of their funds to the federal government. The other 30% either fail to pay taxes or burn money at parties for laughs. Most admit a “tax cut” would be less a reprieve than an overdue refund fantasy cooked up by decomposing Reaganites silly with glee over running the store for at least the next two years. And anyone presently holding tech stocks or a casino comp card won’t argue with any of it. But all agree that a $1.6 trillion tax cut proposal is dubious at best.

This is a country founded on taxation angst, even when many of the original colonists were more than pleased with a lunatic king arbitrarily jacking up the odd tea tariff. But money has a way of conquering weaker emotions like loyalty, and today “we are the people” paying inordinate sums of our hard-earned greenbacks to an organization that barely has the capacity to deliver the mail or defend our borders. Schools are a breeding ground for murdering middleclass cretins and most of the federal government’s money-pit institutions are corrupt, obsolete and in dire need of gutting or scrapping.

A $1.6 trillion tax cut is massive for any government, especially one teetering on economic recession with a wounded stock market and looming debt.

Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle and his chicken-little contingent, propose a paltry $750 billion to $900 billion plan with warnings that anyone claiming under $120 thousand of annual income will get nothing more than a diner tip from the federal government, while corporate gluttons and rock stars will be in the Marc Rich payment plan.

Daschle has to say that, he’s a Democrat. And Republicans have to disagree, otherwise they’ll all have to reenter the private sector and pay for their drinks. But anything Daschle offers will be a far cry from the $3 to $4 trillion windfall the GOP campaign gurus hammered against Al Gore’s “risky scheme” mantra this past fall.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey and House Whip Tom DeLay, both wild and wooly Texas Republicans, would like a $2.2 trillion tax slashing over the next ten years.

Into this gaping chasm floats one George W. Bush and his litany of advisors, parading through a tax-bating U.S. tour. And while already proving as full of crap as anyone who’d ever manned the position -see his flaccid follow-up to early John McCain meetings regarding soft money, the Real Reformer will not be cranking up anything resembling campaign finance reform. But he will be paying back those who backed his presidential charge with promises of a hefty tax cut.

But how hefty?

The victorious 230 to 198 vote ramming the bill through the House, was pleasant, but expected. The same ride through the Senate, split right down the partisan middle, will be an entirely different animal.

That’s why our barely-mister-president has taken this baby on the road through Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he painted its Democratic senators as gutless toads clinging to fat-cat traditions, and Louisiana, for Cajun delicacy and a rousing old-fashioned political pep rally, with everything but the caboose bunting.

Then it was onto Florida and then New Jersey, where the president accused Democratic senators’ Robert Torricelli and John Corzine of all forms of heinous crimes including land rape and jockey tampering.

Bush has a month before the tax debate begins in earnest. What to do with a projected 10-year, $5.6 trillion surplus? Should he stand tall and reject anything but the steadfast number? Should he compromise on a trigger function of the bill that would warn us of impending debts in the near future? Should he make the same deal with Satan that put Bill Clinton on an economic lucky streak?

One maneuver Bush cannot pull off is taking this thing on television to usurp the power of congress with a friendly televised discourse. That was Ronald Reagan’s gig. In 1981the Gipper sat behind a desk with old glory waving behind him and peddled the goods. But Bush is no salesman. If anything, he’s a motivator, and someone who the GOP pray can cope with the slings and arrows to come.

But in the end politics may derail anything resembling the present bill, morphing it into something akin to slapping a band-aid on a gaping wound. So in the interest of economic sanity and lightening the government’s bloated budget, I offer these key suggestions:

Firstly, we must wipe out income tax. This is capitalism’s albatross. What was the point of a 50-year Cold War if every citizen cannot chase the brass ring? There are other ways to keep the federal government solvent.

For instance, take away all tax-exempt status, especially churches, mosques and synagogues. In fact, to lighten the load on welfare programs, open these buildings up to the poor and homeless and put these people to work. Make organized religion and other scams masquerading as religion carry their weight.

Next, make the drinking age 18 to coincide with tobacco smoking and legalize marijuana. Anyone old enough to participate in war and vote for public servants and government policy should be able to dull their senses legally. Then tax the hell out of these products and enforce the law on any minor caught imbibing. All parents of the apprehended miscreants will pay huge fines.

Capitalists love addiction. We cannot get enough drugs, gambling and sex. The government needs to cash in on these blessed weaknesses. To that end, legalize casino gambling nationwide and then once we have that regulated properly, sports gambling.

This will provide the government with tons of funds for building up the military, Medicare and what is left of Social Security. Check the gaudy lottery numbers, which, by the way, is legal gambling.

And speaking of Social Security, bag this mess. No one under fifty should have any illusions about collecting money from a doomed system. Cut it off for anyone born after a decided date. This will add more to a paycheck for gambling and carousing, flooding the economy with plenty of money to grease corporate kingfish and special interest lobbyists.

Now let’s get started.

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 3/7/01 REALITY CHECK

HELP WIPE OUT FEDERAL EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY IN OUR TIME

“The President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” -U.S. Constitution Article II Section 2

There was a time, not too long ago–or maybe eons ago, it’s hard to tell now–that I found myself in a Bayridge, Brooklyn loft listening to a plot to kidnap Casper Weinberger. There were always plots back then, concocted by the type of people who laughed at any talk of reason, especially at 3:00 am after two consecutive days of serious drinking. So I sloughed it off as speed-addled gibberish, finished my beer and got the hell out of there.

“Grab Weinberger out of his three-story luxury home, throw him in a potato gunny and drag him to the crack boulevards in downtown D.C., then we’ll get the real story.”

That was the plan, and I would have volunteered to wrap the rope around the damn sack if I thought it would accomplish anything beyond garnering us a federal sentence. But not even Ollie North would be doing that kind of time. Ollie took the fifth, and so did Bill Clinton’s friends and lovers last week. And anyone else he diddled in the Lincoln bedroom those last precious hours in the White House.

But overt posturing about ideologies and party politics never did jazz me. Those things are nothing more than a smokescreen for the rich and powerful, and all the grass roots movements, protests or odd kidnapping would never slow them down.

The Iran-Contra boys got off easy. George Bush sr. saw to that. He was, after all, a CIA man first, and “once CIA, always CIA.” So Casper and Ollie’s cabin boy, Elliott Abrams, and Reagan’s security advisor, Robert C. McFarlane, who thought it was a good idea to swallow the Valium mother lode rather than rot in prison, all received cushy pardons from the president for pissing on the constitution. This was Bush’s parting gift to the bleeding hearts that dared question the judgment of The Great Communicator.

But those were top-level political criminals, not like the cheap whores Bill Clinton pardoned. Dime-store hoods like Marc Rich and chubby crackers like Hugh Rodham are pond scum compared to the depth of human mucus presidents dine with daily.

And no matter how much the bored national press tries to hype this daily litany of street trash the president set free, William Jefferson Clinton only carries the notorious, if not eminently predictable tradition, of abusing absolute power.

The Clinton’s were bought and sold long before they left Little Rock. Every president is, and will always be. Criminals are as much a part of our national landscape as public servants. Except criminals have money to burn, and politicians need flammable funds by the boatload, especially big-time politicians.

Big Bill wanted to make his “money people” happy. They pushed him over the top in New Hampshire in ’92 and promises were made, promises he couldn’t keep, like the one Joseph Kennedy made to the Chicago mob and Richard Daley to swing Illinois to his boy Jack so daddy could fuck the government for yanking his ambassador status back in World War II.

Federal executive clemency allowed George Washington’s pardon of all participants in the Whiskey Rebellion, Abe Lincoln and his successor, Andrew Johnson’s full and complete pardon to “all and every person who directly or indirectly participated in the late insurrection or rebellion” known as the Civil War.

Violent drunks and confederates aside, it is Gerald Ford’s pardoning of this nation’s greatest criminal Richard Nixon, and now Clinton’s obvious fire sale of freedom for campaign funds, legal fees and key votes for the wife, that has the dander dancing again.

But to call anything administered in the name of complete and absolute power illegal or immoral is missing the point of this, or any other, republic.

Big Bill knew he was meat on the way out. His legacy was humping, and his would-be successor used every angle to avoid mentioning it in a doomed campaign. Another Bush was breathing down his neck, and it was time to pay the piper. Hollywood money machines need to be greased, and Hollywood isn’t just a city in California. The constitution clearly allows it, so the argument is with the system not the use of it.

In the case of Rich and his flamboyant ex-wife, who dumped millions into Clinton endeavors, and more importantly, the state of Israel, the answer was easy. The Clinton’s bought off a 20-year fugitive to bolster significant Jewish votes for Hillary’s senate run. Should the Clinton’s apologize for bartering deals to hold onto power if the constitution provides such unchecked autonomy?

The second article of the constitution also hands military power over to its government’s executive branch. The Korean and Viet Nam police actions were the result of presidential decrees, cleverly sidestepping the messy business of having the legislative branch declare war. Thousands of Americans lost their lives in these little power plays, everything from Truman’s miscalculations to LBJ’s escalations to Reagan and Bush’s wars of convenience.

Bill Clinton is the same man who crawled from the Arkansas slime nine years ago. The public voted him in, and the constitution allowed him to run amok. The uproar is not with the past, but the current state of law allowing anyone in the United States government absolute power.

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Bill Clinton Remembered

Aquarian Weekly 1/31/01 REALITY CHECK

SO LONG TO BILL CLINTON – MINISTER OF FUN

Unlike many of my columnist brethren I have not found a good enough reason to compile an editorial overview of the Clinton presidency. Looking back serves only the purposes of historians and lawyers, and having never been accused of either profession, there is nothing for me to gain but the check mailed to the Putnam Bunker for penning it. But we were all there during these past eight years, and many have stories to impart and thoughts to convey. I am just not one of them, because the more I bang on this damned keyboard in front of me, the more I cannot think of one rational point that would encapsulate those times with any true justice.

Putting the universe in a paper cup was John Lennon’s deal, and then some transient manic-depressive put five bullets into him, and, for me, wrapping up the legacy of William Jefferson Clinton would be a far more fatal folly. And although death does not necessarily await the conclusion of this essay of the absurd, there was a time that evoking the image of Big Bill meant walking a tightrope against a stiff wind with no net in sight.

Politics has always been a crude hobby of mine, like getting loaded and debating the unanswerable or betting money I don’t have on football. But politics to Bill Clinton was life and death, and to get in the ring with him meant playing for keeps. Even reporting on it was a scarring experience. Some people learned that too late, but not me. I was always sure that being president was only some kind of warped high for Bill Clinton, a king-hell fuck around worthy of Ripley’s, but as serious as bone cancer, and I wasn’t about to put it all on the line to explain it.

In the summer of 1992 I was pushing 30, working as a sports columnist for a Westchester paper and coaching little monsters from Gravesend Brooklyn in the art of basketball. My dear friend, Chris Barrera happened to be working a media event for the burgeoning Clinton campaign at the Rye Hilton, where he shook the then governor of Arkansas’ hand and put all his eggs squarely in his basket. What followed was a strong affiliation with a Baby-Boomer giant, hatched from a Dead Head dream – a sax-playing, pot-smoking, war-protesting Elvis with a silky delivery – willing to get down with the corporate war mongers and deal makers to lay the leather.

The rest of us were laughing heartily at Bill Clinton that summer. He was accused of sex crimes, draft dodging and busy fending off a potential investigation for illegal money laundering. Gary Hart couldn’t survive an afternoon on a yacht, what chance did a man who was derisively cheered for wrapping up an interminably long-winded speech at the ’88 Democratic Convention have against a president of the United States that was riding high in the saddle after Desert Storm.

Those close to George Bush were sure the fat years of Ronald Reagan were still feeding the fire. He had the allusions of King George and the delusions of King Lear, but before long he would find himself bloodied in the Clinton ring. Meanwhile, a bleating curmudgeon named Ross Perot was busy suckering an electorate into believing that America was some kind of factory that needed a spit shine. He too failed to prepare for “the ring” and did nothing but help make Bill Clinton president.

And damn if Big Bill didn’t come out swinging with “gays in the military” and sending his wife into congress on a wing and a prayer to enact his greatest campaign promise. But as the liberals grumbled and the right wing smirked Hillary made a mockery of a national health care, and before two years were up, the Clinton’s were causing their party to lose control of congress for the first time in 40 years.

Then the government closed down, and political barnacles like Dick Morris came out of crevices to read Big Bill a riot act that would have him not only surviving the Republican storming of the Bastille, but looking like a mutated conservative doing it. Before long Newt Gingrich was another casualty of “the ring” and the sunny side of the economic street had unemployment down and the national debt being paid off like never before.

After all, Big Bill earned his executive wings with The Comeback, not one in particular, but a long line of beating the kind of truly savage odds Vegas junkies only dream about. A mere mortal would have been finished before his first limping campaign hit New Hampshire, but Bill Clinton survived, check that, thrived in the shit storm. Every cub reporter within ten feet of him had the makings of some hot story of rape, murder and embezzlement back then. Freelancers made a fortune on Bill Clinton; one of the hidden perks of his booming economy.

And those same freelancers came calling when word trickled that someone was coming clean on record about the chief. Man, those were the days of wine and roses for anyone calling journalism home. Chumps with three quotes and a flip pad could get credentials by the time Monica Lewinsky was done squawking into a tapped phone. Even people with no business commenting on politics made a descent living. Anyone in the press corps who weren’t goofy with excitement weren’t around long, because Bill Clinton was news, he breathed it in and expelled its virtues. It was all just rock and roll for Big Bill, not unlike Keith Richards’ statement about not having trouble with drugs, but cops. And Big Bill knew all about Keith Richards.

For me there is only one story worthy of explaining Bill Clinton.

During the height of his pending impeachment, Big Bill was on the golf course with Vernon Jordan when a call came from one of his lawyers about the grand jury transcripts, and after several minutes of stone-faced listening, the president answered, “You bet.” When queried on whether the news was bad or good, Clinton grinned and said, “Bad for me, which is how I like it.”

It was hard not to love that type of balls, no matter what you thought of William Jefferson Clinton. And I respected the demented will to go hard at every angle, despite being as guilty as a jackal in a hen house. But now Big Bill is literally history, and as Dick Nixon once mused, whoever writes the history will make the judgments. That was never Bill Clinton’s gig. He came, he saw, he banged it like a chubby intern. They only made one of his like. If there had been another, he would have found it and eaten it alive.

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Christie Todd Whitman In Washington Winterland honors NJ governor.

Aquarian Weekly 1/24/01 REALITY CHECK

EXILE ON ECOLOGY STREET– CHRISTIE TODD WHITMAN IN WASHINGTON WINTERLAND

At the behest of my furiously potent, if not rough-and-ready, managing editor, CAPTAIN UHL, I aim to crank out a few hundred words on the momentous confirmation of New Jersey governor, Christie Todd Whitman as the next Environmental Protection Agency administrator. After all, any act of professional charity is too paltry for the man responsible for deflecting any potential law suits levied on this publication as a result of this column, and as a fitting literary tribute to the captain’s undying service in pushing up deadlines and penning the foreword to my second book–not to mention some erroneous rumors I perpetuated regarding his love for terrorism and high stakes gambling–I am game.

But all joking aside, as I stated to Mr. Uhl in a rather lengthy e-mail, there is trouble for me whenever Tsar Whitman is the assignment.

Due to an unfortunate freelance gig landing in the New Jersey Monthly on the crack Whitman team some years back I was squeezed out, denied access, and held responsible for depicting Whitman staffers as “vapid hyenas stoked on low-grade bennies” and describing the governor’s vanquished tax cut proposal as “an economic fantasy worthy of Asimov.” It was honest reporting, very nasty stuff, for which I’ve apologized more than once. But it was all for naught, and there is no way I can thoroughly dissect this appointment at the level I am accustomed, leaving me a limited peripheral overview. But I like Whitman, just not as much as CAPTAIN UHL, and duty calls so…

The EPA appointment is, at its most basic roots, somewhere between a party burial and laughable miscasting. Christie Todd Whitman is pro-choice in a pro-life party with a pro-life president now on the payroll of the religious right. There is little question that her pro-choice stance had already taken her from darling of the GOP to political pariah within 10 months of barely upsetting Jim Florio for governor of New Jersey. So badly was her insider reputation that someone who could very well have once been Bob Dole’s vice presidential running mate was left to fend off Jim McGreevey in a tax war for re-election and was frozen out in the party’s national convention in 1996.

Political corpses are hardly a safe bet for resurrection, especially on a national level, and by the time I finished a column entitled, “Partisan Suicide” (Aquarian Issue 11/18/97) Whitman’s political funeral had already commenced. And make no mistake, the EPA is where the politically dead go when their party is trying to simultaneously build its female base and hide the baby-killers. But addressing the overwhelming numbers of women voters who are pro-choice and attempting to breed harmony after a paper-thin victory decided by the Supreme Court makes for strange political decisions.

Which brings us to another level of this appointment’s roots: the mere fact that anyone responsible for New Jersey could possibly be in charge of an environmental anything. This makes sense only when confronted with George Bush’s environmental record in Texas, which is, at best, criminal. In 1995, Whitman’s nearly $80 million slashing of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection’s budget was good for trimming governmental fat, but so severe Senator’s were holding press bids to slam her.

“Because we don’t have dead dolphins washing up on shore, the environment is obviously not the same issue it was,” said David Pringle, campaign director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation, in 1996.

Pollution fines decreased every year during Whitman’s one-plus terms while the northern part of the New Jersey Turnpike still twists under a pall of chemical reek. And although these items don’t necessarily label Whitman as a concubine to industry and Satan’s land rapist, it doesn’t leave her resume with a mother-nature glow either.

Whitman, like most Republicans, doesn’t care much for agencies and government regulators, but finds herself ironically cornered into one for ostensibly a promotion, but in reality, a political prison to which there will be no easy exit.

As for her truncated legacy as governor of the Garden State, there can only be praise for keeping the Devils from moving to Nashville at the expense of taxpayers and a doubled parking rate for every event held at the Meadowlands. New Jersey is still high on the car insurance gallows, mostly jacked by the worst drivers in the 48 contiguous states, fraudulent claims from gun runners and bookies slipping over the George Washington Bridge clamoring for no sales tax, and a shoreline ripe with bloated expenses.

But Whitman was funny when pressed, and she is a woman, for which there has to be some measure of victory. Howard Stern seems to like her, and she was quite adept at smiling on the promotional ads for wildlife. But now the poor thing is headed for a black hole with no bottom and very little leverage, but it’s good work if you can get it.

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Spoils From The Victor – Bush Backer Flaunts Gore Pain.

Aquarian Weekly 1/3/01 REALITY CHECK

SPOILS FROM THE VICTOR

As is the annual custom in this space, my prime GOP source and overall political snitch, Georgetown is loosed for a brutal reappraisal of recent events. Although his tale is long, and amidst the pantheon of the Reality Check faithful, a constant muse of vitriol from this author, there are places in the human heart rarely discovered lest revealed by his rather sharply forked tongue.

jc: I’ll dispense with pretense and let you pick the subject.

Georgetown: George W. Bush is president. Say it.

jc: Not yet.

GT: Mere time. I don’t know why you lied to your readers for three years making noise about shooting Al Gore, or at the very least, cranking out weekly columns depicting him as the fascist scum he truly is when you did nothing for the cause.

jc: The cause?

GT: And then you fucked me with that lame column on the convention. I spent ten days in that miserable excuse of a town enduring countless dinners with NRA geeks and someone claiming to be Jerry Falwell’s “love child” so you can have first-rate coverage and you write about my fistfight in the pit?

jc: Thoughts on the election?

Popular vote? Why do you think both candidates spent millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of time and television ads in the battleground states, so they can clean up the popular vote? Please.

GT: I have to say my favorite are these Democrats going to parties pounding the hard stuff with Bon Jovi and telling anyone who’ll listen that Al Gore won that election because he received the popular vote and got ripped off by the Supreme Court. Popular vote? Why do you think both candidates spent millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of time and television ads in the battleground states, so they can clean up the popular vote? Please. Sell that sore-loser bullshit to the weeping dupes over at ground control.

We watched the Gores parade Hollywood’s elite across Miami until 2:00 am on Election Eve so he could wrap up the close numbers in Florida. He knew he needed it, not some bloated California or New York numbers. Then the fucking networks give Florida up at 7:30 when there are two time zones in the goddamn state. Fucking Tom Brokaw. Wake his ass up for five minutes and drain the vodka out of his veins. What a joke.

jc: And the Supreme Court?

GT: A monumental rim job, that first go-round. This is the weakest line-up of judges in the history of this country and we’ve had some beauts. How these fossils could send a remand to the Florida Supreme Court knowing the goddamn thing was coming back is beyond rational. Why did they waste everyone’s time–for forty pages of nothing telling the court to rethink what they already went to the mat for in the first place? You think the Florida court, already on the DNC payroll, was going to allow that to stop them? Damn right Gore should be pissed at the Supreme Court. They wasted two weeks playing legal volleyball with Tallassee and then seven of nine of these airheads say it’s too late to count?

jc: So you have it on good authority that the Florida Supreme Court was bought off by the Democratic National Committee.

GT: Print that. Nobody pays attention in Florida politics. There are people I heard from down there during this thing that would put Boss Tweed in the minor leagues. This was world-class politics. We were all wired into a main nerve of energy rarely seen in most civilizations. Makes you proud to be an American when you see what serious money can do to the process. And that was right after you wrote that nonsense about “no constitutional crisis.” That took a pair of brass nuts. We were reinventing constitutional crisis down there, pal.

jc: I’m not writing this slanderous nightmare. Not even The Aquarian would print it.

GT: Slanderous? Who the hell are you kidding?

jc: Fair point. How long did you stay in Florida?

GT: Not one day. I received my calls in Washington the whole time. I got the scoop on the deep-red phone. We were making plans if the Supreme Court went belly up.

jc: What plans?

GT: That’s not ending up in Reality Check, anonymous or not.

jc: What happened to your boy, Lazio? Hillary ate him for breakfast upstate.

GT: That’s what “I’m from New York – She’s not” gets you.

jc: What’s the feedback?

GT: He’s our new Jacob Marley.

jc: How do you think Bush ran his campaign?

GT: Mediocre. I knew all along that it was going to be tight. I was against all that money spent in California and I would’ve been more aggressive in New Jersey and Michigan, especially with McCain hanging around. I thought the Dems screwed up by not using Clinton earlier. He helped bring in the minority and middle ground vote in two national elections. Polls never wavered on the fact that he would’ve beaten Bush himself. Gore used him as an excuse. Fact is no one liked Gore. If they could even stand him he would’ve run away with the thing. And I wasn’t too crazy about how Bush handled the drunk-driving thing. My plan was attack. They wanted to explain. That’s no way to run a campaign. Explaining is for losers and preachers. That cost millions of votes.

jc: What was the inside scoop on how the story was leaked so late?

GT: That was a Lieberman gig from day one. His people were working on that since the summer. I know of at least four or five journalists on the Gore campaign who held onto that info for three months.

jc: C’mon.

GT: It’ll come out eventually. It always does.

jc: Thoughts on the cabinet thus far?

GT: I think this Whitman thing is to get her out of the way. And notice that Junior ran foreign policy names up there first. Powell has always been a company man, despite all that Eisenhower “I don’t do politics” shit. And Condoleezza Rice is a genius.

jc: Why does Bush insist on screaming about the inevitable economic down turn, does he want to inherit a serious recession just to fuck the Clinton legacy?

GT: Yes. This is revenge of daddy.

jc: His first move?

GT: Military. He’ll go heavy military, money wise and maybe yank a few troops out of Europe. You’ll never know Clinton was president three months after Jan. 20.

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Al Gore is a Loser ‘s requiem for a lightweight

Aquarian Weekly 12/20/00 REALITY CHECK

REQUIEM FOR A LIGHTWEIGHT

Al Gore is a loser. This is what the history books will bare out after the obligatory screeching dies down. Those who imagined a less than dramatic kicking-and-screaming exit by a man so patently damaged by a lifetime in Washington politics as to become inhuman were sadly mistaken. The vice president did not go quietly, but he is gone for now, and don’t think those of us in the know think he’s going anywhere far. Most think he’ll have plenty to say, but it will not be from a position of authority and for now that is enough for me.

There was a time, not long ago, that I was frozen with fear over the prospect of an Albert Gore jr. presidency. My disdain for him had grown over the years from irritation to abhorrence. The moment his smug pout started spewing righteous babble at Frank Zappa during his wife’s First Amendment lynching disguised as “parental concern” to the savage dismantling of Bill Bradley’s considerable integrity, Gore’s enemy status reached dangerous levels in the Putnam Bunker. But as Election Day approached it quickly accelerated into the kind of mind-numbing fear from which I am only now recovering.

The Bradley people were entertained by my many letters warning them to rile Dollar Bill into a kill-frenzy before facing Gore, but they didn’t laugh for long. And the more the doomed phalanx of Bush staffers e-mailed me one fuck-up after the other from the campaign trail and the poll numbers tightened; I began to envision the horrifying possibility that Gore might actually win.

After throwing together post-primary notes for a column I entitled “Why George W. Bush Can’t Win In November” (Aq.3/8/00) the carcass of John McCain was hardly cold and Junior had leaned so far right only circus freaks could vote for him with a clear conscience. But I’m man enough to admit I thought that McCain was the last line of defense against Gore. And I’m man enough to sheepishly admit I was convinced that if there were true evil in politics, not just stupidity, mediocrity and petty, partisan greed, it took horrifying shape in Al Gore’s heart.

Evidence was mounting daily. There were those Joseph Lieberman fascist diatribes about “a vote for Gore is a vote for God” and the “battle between good and evil” masquerading as Bible-induced epiphanies coupled with the appointment of another wretched Democratic Party goon like William Daly hatched from the militant loins of his deranged father to run the campaign. Gore was looking eerily like a young Richard Nixon slandering Helen Gahagan Douglas in an all-hell damn-the-torpedoes stump. During these dark hours many of my sources have solid, written evidence of my consistent assassination rants. The most damning of these was an e-mail note I sent to Alec Baldwin:

I am sorry to hear of your departure to land’s unknown should Junior win this thing, but your leaving the country is small pittance when you consider that I may have to kill Al Gore should he win, and then your politics would force you to keep me from lethal injection. I implore you now to pray to whatever god you subscribe that Gore loses for his sake and the sake of any movement to keep slugs like me from systematic death.

But that was silly talk from a wounded journalist angered that cheap used-car peddlers represented anything important This might have a sent a weaker man careening toward total mental breakdown, but I had to remind myself of several adages echoed in this space about the litany of monsters that have called themselves president. And even though Gore could very well have been my own personal demon, it was time to get perspective.

Al Gore was never truly evil. He is just terribly flawed, instinctively insincere and severely overrated as a danger to anything binding. Even my off-hand tavern references to Gore as Nixon fell far short of the truth. Nixon held true to his beliefs that everyone but himself knew what the hell was good for the country. Gore began this way, but ended up a tired parody of something he previously thought was important. But, alas, he is just a loser, and not all the lawyers, decrying pundits; sign-waving miscreants or Jesse Jackson speeches can change that. Forgive me for deriving a soothing comfort in those words, the same wash of supreme joy I experience every time that mortally satanic creature, Bud Selig hands George Steinbrenner a World Series Trophy, but I do.

There were nights lately that my dream of penning a vicious attack on Gore had reached orgasmic proportions, but most dreams die hard and orgasms don’t last. These are the harsh realities of life, like the fact that Al Gore is nothing more than Walter Mondale with a grudge. In retrospect his talk of “winning the popular vote” and “correct hand counts” were so completely mad and pathetic that many of his staff was reduced to weeping trolls in its wake. Even the confused Supreme Court was too embarrassed to render a sane decision on the thing. No one with half a brain believes this man had won anything, because there are no consolation prizes for losers in politics and moral victories are spin placebos for anyone harboring hopes to occupy the oval office.

But at least Mondale had to admit to total, humiliating defeat. His trouncing was as historical as it was gruesome. Al Gore’s loss was so excruciatingly close to victory four or five different times that you can be assured that as you read this he is staring into space thinking about what-might-have-been, the overt behavior of the loser.

George W. Bush is a dumb ass and will no doubt be a useless leader in the fumes of this barely legal victory, but he won. Al Gore lost. To write that is divinely real, like Fitzgerald’s “high white note.” His stupidity notwithstanding, Bush will forever stand as the symbol of a two-party system joke rendered on a populace sure that it spits out the worst humanity can offer. But he is not Al Gore. He lost.

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Ten Lies About The 2000 Presidential Dispute gets real on political mayhem

Aquarian Weekly 12/13/00 REALITY CHECK

TEN LIES ABOUT THE 2000 PRESIDENTIAL DISPUTE

The following is a detailed expose of the transparent propaganda provided by arguing parties and overhwelmed pundits regarding what will surely be the endlessly disputed results from the 2000 presidential election.

1. This near-constitutional crisis will all but cripple the country and widen the chasm of ideological fervor among Democrats and Republicans further heightening the apathy of the American people. Yes, and Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Unfortunately this never reached the point of constitutional crisis. In fact, one must marvel at the authors of that document for jackknifing those attempting to usurp its wisdom, proving once again that the foundation of this republic was built on the complete understanding of humanity’s fragile nature and politicians’ insidious machinations.

As stated many times in this space, we’ve survived a Civil War, a Great Depression, two World Wars and Richard Nixon; litigious donnybrooks and political slap fights put as much a dent in this country as a lack of recycling would ultimately do to damage the planet.

We have always been the central office for apathy. It is important to remember that nearly two-thirds of the people inhabiting the original 13 colonies wanted to break ranks with England in the first place.

2. Al Gore, Joseph Lieberman and the DNC’s fight to contest the election is based on the principles of voter rights and a truthful outcome. Bullshit squared. Nobody with half a brain buys this crap from losers. Anyone who has ever competed for anything, much less political office, thinks they’re going to lose or believe even in defeat they weren’t the better choice. You give an ego-mad righteous clan like this the popular vote and a miniscule electoral deficit and there is no telling how far they will stretch the credibility of law in order to change the outcome. If these people truly wanted the proper vote tallies there would be a hue and cry to recount the whole damn nation, with its nearly four million lost votes and refuted ballots in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, etc and not a few Democratic-laden counties in Florida. This is about the gnawing feeling that had a few Floridians not been stupid or careless Gore would have been president of the United States.

3. George W. Bush wishes to move this process forward for the good of the country and begin a transition to the next administration. Sure, and seats are now available on the flying pigs. It will be interesting to see how “moving the process forward quickly” would be if Captain Shoe-In falls behind the eight ball as he did when the Florida Supreme Court started allowing dimpled chads from southern Georgia and Cuba to be counted until Easter. Bush has more votes. He wants to keep it that way. Winners don’t bother with goofy propositions like truth and fairness and nobody getting a break from the refs is in any hurry for a replay. The Bush people have run the same mantra up the poll for two months…Hold Off The Dogs.

4. Gore and the DNC had no allusions about winning, but has used these litany of lawsuits and this contest to dilute Bush’s victory and set up a Democratic landslide in 2002. This is a good one, especially if you spent last year looking for Sasquatch and the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. This would be giving the fractured din currently representing the Democrats far too much credit. It also misunderstands the damage the Republicans incurred with vapid impeachment proceedings in ’98. If nothing else this mess has doomed Gore’s standing in a party that already thinks he tanked this gig with extreme prejudice. Which brings us to…

5. Because Gore won the popular vote and lost by a mere 537 in Florida he will be in the driver’s seat for a 2004 run. This is very wishful thinking after this foot-stomping piss fight being dragged through every court from Tallassee to the District of Columbia. Many Democrats, especially ones due up for re-election, are not happy that 57% of the people think Gore is a sore loser and using the system to hijack a couple of hundred votes to satiate some sick fantasy. What seemed like a sure bet that Gore would use key Tonight Show minutes during the next couple of years of a dented economy and a meager GOP control to say, “Remember me!” has turned into the legal equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster. So…

6. Bush will use his bipartisan skills developed as Governor of Texas to reunite the parties, which has already begun with his choosing of Democrats for the cabinet. Who’s buying this bridge? Anything Bush does now revolves around public relations and political fanfare. The second Gore gives up the ghost Junior creases a Joker smile and runs amok. Texas is less a state than a gunrunning outback of thieving oil barons, and it is a testament to Gore’s blatant failings that its governor bested him–something he’ll have to stomach for eternity.

7. The Attorney General of Florida and its Supreme Court are partisan, but fair-minded soldiers for the system. Hardly, but who cares? Of course Katherine Harris is in Bush’s back pocket and the governor of the state is the man’s brother–almost the entire Florida Supreme Court is a left wing tool. But this is the framework of this republic, Democracy American Style, loaded with lawyers and spin-doctors and yammering journalists pumping the bilge. Failure of machines and rooting interest may be too much for our delicate psyche, but checks-and-balances are the very essence of this government and one single harmonious voice would be its death.

8. Voters were disenfranchised in certain counties of Florida by antiquated and confusing ballots. Check stupid and confused from Lie #2, neither of which are excuses under the law for being “disenfranchised”. These are the same ballots these people have been using for years and printed in the newspaper on Election Day.

9. Countries around the world are laughing at us. You realize how off-the-charts ridiculous this crapolla is when you peruse the many contingency plans designed by other governments in case of a contested election, that is those countries not run like an atavistic interment camp. These plans usually involve militias and tanks and geeks from a leaky parliament squawking at bullet-riddled walls.

10. When this historical ride is over we’ll miss it. I heard that from a Wall Street geek right before he was summarily shoved off a subway platform. Do with it what you will.

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