james campion.com

The Aquarian Weekly 11/29/00 REALITY CHECK

SURVIVING THE GREAT “SYSTEM” ANAL PROBE

This unconscionable constitutional tragedy currently being perpetuated in Florida by party trolls and a bloated cadre of lawyers is a dangerous anal probe into what those of us on the ground floor of this abortion call “the system.” It became glaringly obvious late on Election Day that whatever the outcome someone was going to be shocked, devastated and/or pissed. What has transpired since has not only confirmed these possibilities, but sent a sickening reverberation straight to the heart of this republic. And although the framework of this fragile democracy is the best government conceived by humans, there is still no guarantee of its perfection or fairness.

It has taken the most controversial presidential race since 1876–when congress bartered land deals to anoint Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency– in order to bare our democratic wounds and the ambiguous methods of designing, compiling and enacting our voter privilege. When an election, at any level, is this excruciatingly close the chance for crazed backlash is very good, and as a result of this latest national train wreck “the system” is now thrust into the kangaroo court of public opinion, where truth is almost always defined. But the further you dig into this murky abyss devised by menlong buried, the more you understand its flawed nature.

Firstly, it is important to review the parameters available to the electorate. This country is, as noted earlier, a republic–a United States, not a united people of America– and this wild talk lately about turning it into a true democracy with a popular vote is reactionary prattle. These are the same people who would be whining that only big cities and media centers would elect a president while two thirds of the country would have little to no say.

Those hearty few attending the first Continental Congress knew empowering the colonies while erecting a government in the fumes of revolution was a sticky endeavor. It took 25 more years for the US government to emulate the Romans and allow the state to govern its own. And that is “the system” George W. Bush and Al Gore agreed to wage battle.

Secondly, above the din of outrage is the glaring fact that out of the 250 million people in this country only 100 million, 50% of registered voters, bothered to participate in “the system.” A large majority of those who did play along were able to find their way to the voting booth, cast a ballot without much confusion, and even left knowing what the hell it is they had just done.

The litany of errors and complaints by silly Floridians about their right to vote being yanked because of their own ignorance or carelessness has only caused a rash of enlightenment throughout the land. By the time of this writing there have been no less than fifteen states reporting ballot confusion, voter fraud, missing ballot boxes, paid-off homeless, double voting, police bullying, and a series of inconsistencies so foul that the amount of lawsuits being filed could not possibly reach fruition in any of our lifetimes. Meanwhile, close numbers and vacillating results in New Mexico, Iowa, Oregon, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Missouri threaten more lengthy recounts and legal wrangling.

Into this mayhem comes the revote theory, so off-the-charts wacky that many former Manson Family members and sacked Pets.com employees are lining up to be spokespeople. So now we’ll get all those sharp tacks that screwed it up the first time, couple them with the angry dolts who are sorry they voted for Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan, throw in the always-available paid lackeys, and let it ride. This kind of shit may fly at a Glassboro kegger, but deciding the 43rd President of the United States the first time is proving too difficult for us.

Then there is the terror of what is actually happening: a national election being decided by one state, controlled by partisan judges and attorney generals presiding over clairvoyant hand counts, where hired drones spin electronic ballots into lamp light to guess at voter intent. It is entirely possible that a Zippy the Chimp funzo dance on a Twister mat would be a more legally binding and fair-minded attempt at choosing the leader of the free world.

As much as I would love to see Al Gore deported in a rusty iron maiden and George W. Bush beaten by teenage drunks, I feel for them. There is little question that had it been Bush sitting in his cushy hotel room late Election Night staring down the barrel of defeat, there would have been noise. But many in the circumference of this firestorm do not believe it would have reached the levels of dementia the Gore people hit about 3:00 am when the numbers in Florida started dropping like a good day on the NASDAQ.

Gore has been reminded his whole life, from Viet Nam to the PMRC, from the senate to the chaotic ’88 primary, from Bill Clinton’s call to Air force Two and nearly eight years of trying to live down the most charismatic, lunatic politician in the last 50 years, that he is expected to be president. He sits a mere hundred votes from the promise land, but if he and the Democratic National Committee or the rankled Bush people insist on dragging “the system” through the courts there will be a slow dismantling of a delicate fabric that as a result might be viewed as silly and antiquated, awakening a need for mob rules, and no government has been able to survive that without massive bloodshed since the beginning of civilization.

Simply, the whole thing is fucked, but we dare not study it, for we will witness its demise. No societal ideology can withstand an anal probe like that, least of all one hatched by rebels and built with Civil Wars and constitutional amendments. Once you begin to poke under the rocks, and the slugs begin to scamper for cover, the collective horror will be palpable.

It is a cracked floor that Bush and Gore were asked to dance upon, but dance they did. Richard M. Nixon learned 40 years earlier, when the dirty deal goes down you eat shit, regardless of how badly you were robbed by bootleg cash and mob payoffs. And as the great voodoo madam, Sissy Meechum once crowed, “The time to cry is before the flood, not afterwards.”

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 11/1/00 REALITY CHECK

Campaign 2000LAST TANGO IN GHOSTLAND

“The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.” -Adolf Hitler

It is common knowledge among historians that the deranged make interesting public figures. Adolf Hitler was one of those rare mutant breeds that possessed a voracious appetite for the wild ride to the top. And it was an equally long drop to a syphilis-crazed breakdown that came far too late for civilization. Although he was not alone in the dark history of politics, Hitler was everything that is wrong with humanity and its societal systems; especially for those of us still hoping things like greed and hate will be kept relatively in check.

But before any of the mayhem and horror attached to his name would be unleashed, Hitler was nothing more than a political bully with no need for silly endeavors like elections. He made up the rules and no one bothered to ask him to explain it.

Elections are a tad different. When things go awry, the public is to blame. It is incumbent on us to make these people to stay in the ballpark of reality while their busy getting all hyped to fulfill their own version of some abject destiny. Surely, even the most optimistic flag waver in Kosovo today doesn’t believe the results of that election charade amount to a hill of beans, but sometimes even when we pick our leaders, who the hell really knows?

That is why a failure to vote, although oft noted as an egregious mockery of our civil right, is less a crime than voting for someone you believe would make a shambles of your weekly planner, much less the free world. And this notion that throwing a vote away on fringe loons and independent types is elitist drivel peddled by low-rent two-party sycophants. If you believe the system is fixed and archaic and the candidates boring and predictable don’t let anyone tell you that you have to play along like the company lap dog. Where, exactly, is the freedom in that?

Presidential politics stopped becoming big fun for those of us mired in reams of Kennedy and Nixon minutia. But Jack got his head blown off and Dick was sent packing as a crooked shyster. For a short time Ronald Reagan made it fun, but before long, he too became a tired windbag. This is why nearly half the nation’s populace abstained from voting for or against Bill Clinton in his two victorious runs. Many now admit they only voted as a sick joke to ram rod some hippie goofball down the throat of mom-and-pop apple pie. And for a while even they had to admit the thrill was gone when Big Bill turned out to be less rebellious and more lecherous.

So, you’ll get no argument from this space if you wish to stay home on Election Day. Mohandas Gandhi believed sedition did more for change than the normal violence or democratic attempts, especially when Indian lawyers were treated like illiterate farmers by English slave traders. Standing aside while the crazy train skips your stop is nothing to be ashamed of, unless you’re lazy or you don’t care.

This poses the greatest problem for American citizens. We are lazy and we like it that way. Just try and get us interested in anything. We’ve been dazzled and wooed with every bit of technology and fanfare available to us. Getting us pumped takes a bit of doing. But if you believe that George W. Bush or Al Gore deserve the job you’ll choose them to undertake, then you should take the time to exorcise your rights. And in doing so, you had better make damn sure they are the men you think they are.

And this is where the issue of voting with confidence gets a tad sticky. The men available to this voting public are mediocre statesmen/politicos with a weak resume and weaker leadership skills that will not bode well for the next four years. The first few months of which will be replete with monumental global turmoil including a quickly eroding Middle East stand-off from the Gaza Strip to Yemen, a highly volatile mess in the Balkans AGAIN, hordes of terrorists skulking into U.S military institutions, Korean backlash and China trade concerns. Add that to a domestic economic crossroads in oil prices and stock market fear coupled with intercity racial stresses ignited daily by a criminal lack of education and you not only refuse to put your fingerprints on this terrible craziness, but a first class ticket to Australia remains a distinct possibility.

This will be my last political blather for a while. There are too many other concerns and not nearly enough space. Do what you want and do what you must, but do yourself a favor and sleep well with the consequences. And if you don’t feel like taking the blame, abstain. Sure we have to live with the results, but we lived through Gerald Ford and George Bush, bell-bottom pants, disco, Max Headroom, a man by the name of Stump Merrill managing the New York Yankees, Oliver North Collector plate commercials, 30 Beach Boy reunions, 14 Million Whatever Marches, ten Julia Roberts’ tortured celebrity relationships, “We Are The World”, the electric car experiments, nearly a decade of “Three’s Company” etc.

We’ll make it.

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The Truth About Hillary Clinton – Political satirist, James Campion dissects the Hillary Senate Campaign.

Aquarian Weekly 10/25/00 REALITY CHECK

DECONSTRUCTING HILLARY

Political whores and power mongers are easy to spot in the waning moments of a campaign, especially campaigns surpassing a combined spending spree of $100 million between the two candidates. And there isn’t a half-assed pundit, pollster or sad commentary geek filling up newspapers with thousands of feeble prognostications who fails to be blinded by its queen; Hillary Rodham Clinton. This New York senate race is, has been, and will continue be all about the first lady. The GOP could have a door stop running against her and people will vote based on their love or hate for her.

The important element of this is the Clinton celebrity and the advantage and albatross it provides. Senator Rodham is at the crescendo of a decade-long game she’s played stumping for a man who has treated her like a scabby harlett throughout its duration. William Jefferson Clinton may have seen his wife’s gory mutations before any of us, but he has since become nothing more than a back-seat lecther in its wake.

Her opponent, Rick Lazio, is a few short months removed from sitting in his home out on Long Island and bemoaning the fact that his party didn’t think him a big enough name to take on the gaudy popularity numbers the first lady presented as a formidible senate challenge. This was a job for the Mayor of NYC, who first refused to offically announce anything beyond a raging hatred for Senator Rodham and then was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Rudolf Giuliani promptly backed out and in came Lazio with enviable spitfire and brimstone.

So Lazio jumped right in and became the anti-Hillary candidate phase two, because the New York senate race has always been about Ms. Rodham, or Hillary, as her “people” remind you she’s to be called. Sequestered in her rhinestone bathe of light, equivilant to a rock tour or a pre-war Hollywood opening night gala, the first lady’s suit of armor is shiny for a reason. The woman has never known a battle she couldn’t avoid.

Legitamate press never gets to her. Press conferences are nothing more than events for us fourth estate peons to gaze lovningly upon her devine personage. She smiles. She dances. She is a breath of jasmine from her lofty perch of azure. Television appearances are few and usually involve late-night comedians. Ted Koppel and Tim Russert, never mind traveling reporters, are off limits to the queen of pap. At the time of this writing there have been two debates, but it was deemed to rough and tumble for the delicate flower of Washington’s elite and the other was a party set-up that the Lazio people stupidly stumbled into with little investigation on their part.

Mere weeks remain in this charade of a campaign and what questions, what scrutiny, what hard-core politcs is Senator Rodham facing? Lazio brings no memory of powerful candidates with heaps of energy, but he at least he makes himself available to the press and handles the tough questions, ANY questions posed to him. His opponent is apprently too good or too busy or too sheltered for that.

These complaints may sound like the whining, selfish complaints of a spoiled journalist used to being fed fresh meat every time some ego-mad sucker needs coverage, and to that charge I plead ever guilty, but this is the very reason Hillary, with all her cries for equality and compassion, is a transparent candidate.

And how come my brethren let her get away with these lame duck and covers? Are we so silly with worshuip for a good story that campaigns are reduced to coronations before we have a glimmer of what a candidate stands for beyond notoriety? When will Senator Rodham be forced to face someone with a camera or a notepad who isn’t sporting a goon smile while peppering her with questions about the Chappaqua fire department picnic? Jackie Kennedy, princess of Camelot and national fashion plate, took more shit than this woman. The time has come for her mighty and untouchable hems to get filthy with debate rhetoric and that world-class litigious brain to crank its gears.

Lazio, predictably busy trying to be all things to all voters, has tried the credibility attack with his soft money overtures. It is admirable considering he’s had half the time to create the native New Yawker image from Giuliani’s shadow and separate himself from the stench of the Newt Gingrich clan the GOP so effectively shoved into the background at the convention. But Lazio is a New York politician and has served as a congressman for eight years. He has not been riding the ebb and flow of party casa de la Clinton for a decade of unpresidented verbal sewage.

In the end, this will mean nothing. Will Westchester, Central and Upstate New York voters despise or revere Hillary enough either way to defeat or elect her. Rick Lazio is the kid in class you hang with because the popular asshole ignores you. More than any election in this nation’s history beyond perhaps Jesse Ventura’s meteoric rise in Minnesota two years ago. And whether she wins or not there is a real sense now that celebrity can slant a race so completey that issues mean less than zero.

Senator Rodham and the Westchester crack team keeping her alive on bulging African American and women votes knows this. They will try and keep those and build on the all-important suburbs and Jewish/Hispanic votes and ride this puppy all the way to Washington without their candidate having to answer a single hard-line question about her ability to be grammar school principle, much less senator of New York. And that would be their victory and democracies loss. But this is something these people know quite well.

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 10/18/00 REALITY CHECK

NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN FRINGE

Editor’s Note:Forty-eight hours before the first presidential debate of the 21st century, the author, sequestered in the Putnam Bunker compiled a series of random notes that this publication shall run with the warning that coherence is relative. Also included are a series of babbling rants during the two-hour debate to which we can only apologize in advance.

Sixteen hours ago an angry fucker by the name of Charles Dunwitty invited me to a fundraiser for George W. Bush for which I had no use and promptly threatened to revoke my debate credentials. This did not alarm me for I never received, nor applied for any credentials. Massachusetts is only romantic in the fall if caravans of desperate politicians and rabid protestors are miles South or West, not crawling around the best bars in Boston trying to wrest free rounds from yuppie derelicts.

Dunwitty is an ass, and so is his cheap fraud of an organization that runs its debate rehearsals in an Austin, Texas hotel for a man whose best attempt at formulating sentences was abandoned long ago at the fraternity kegger.

The Bush people, along with Mr. Dunwitty, see fit to ignore my many e-mails and letters instructing their candidate to begin dismantling this myth that their opponent is a champion of the poor and feeble while he rakes in millions from rich celebrities, huge pharmaceutical and tobacco corporations and laundered funds from corrupt union gangsters.

The standard Bush response: We appreciate your concern and support for the candidate. Perhaps they will appreciate being humiliated. Pennsylvania is teetering, New Jersey is falling and only a supreme being could fathom what the hell anyone in Missouri or Michigan will do until 11/1, and even then a sober prognostication will be dubious. Bush is going down, but for one key element: abrasive, caustic personal attacks.

********************************

Over the past twenty years I could be counted on to support or attend any Ralph Nader function, but lately things have been very shaky at his headquarters. Suddenly Nader, surrounded by the Buchanan Brigade and Jerry Brown granola-head rejects, is looking like madcap comedy relief for this thing and it is unpleasant to watch. Three times in the last four weeks there have been several Independent candidate/party rallies in New York City and each one has deteriorated into a Kumbaya mess. This is what illegitimate political campaigns have wrought; anger for change traded for whining because no one worth a damn is paid off by some group to make the NY Times or even the friggin’ Trentonian cover it.

I refuse to attend political funerals, especially for true warriors. This is why I rejected credentials to most of Bill Bradley’s final appearances last spring and why I won’t watch Nader go down in a mist of flaccid debate arguments. There is no sane reason to cover it beyond aimless rebellion, and that is for amateurs and dreamers and I will fight on the turf laid out before me or volunteer to pen another Declaration of Independence from this quagmire.

******************************

Several meetings of the Youth Vote for Westchester in the basement of Iona University in New Rochelle with the pimply peeved and we are no closer to any solid answers to why anyone under the age of 25 is paying attention to this race.

There is a strong contingent of women, who are not going to mess with any Republican chief executive saying all the right things about Supreme Court appointees respecting constitutional rights while drunken priests ram their BMW’s into abortion clinics. No one thinks much of the vice president, despite his or her fear of Bush. I tell them to ignore the news medium and make up their minds or stay the hell home.

The young men are less feisty, but want Nader or Buchanan to do anything to prove their worth. Most colleges are liberal, but this is a basin for the rich or upper-middle-class and these are the sons and daughters of Reaganites who made a killing in stocks and real estate during the 80s’ when the Democrats dragged punching bags to unseat the status quo.

None of these kids understand my tattered surrender flag. This is the new generation of “Choose-Or-Lose” offspring with little idea that something like the presidency means much more than the Queen of England or the host of the Today show. History is Viet Nam and Woodstock to these people. Debates are tantamount to bad local access television staged by pompous geriatrics with no serious long-range goals. And not one of us could grasp the notion of expensive over-the-counter drugs and social security concerns when marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine are so readily available twenty feet off campus.

*********************

The bile begins to work its way from the pit of my stomach to the tip of my throat and we’re not even through Jim Leher’s first question. Is this fossil going to ramble like this all night? Who has time for this monotone bullshit?

Gore is sighing and interrupting. Bush is stumbling and sniffling. Nobody wants to commit to anything. No one wants to piss anyone off, least of all each other. Polls say Americans don’t want negativity in their campaign rhetoric. Yes, and we watch PBS all day and never masturbate.

What level of brain-dead mannequins are we enduring with this vat of bilge? We need puss-filled, bloody ferret fights to the death now. That is how democracy works, not some number-crunching pinheads with interchangeable personalities. Likeable sods with wet feet and dapper ties leave us with grinning charlatans from the South pampered by daddy’s oil and tobacco money. This is what we deserve now. We don’t want any nasty commentary. We all hate the media. We like wimps and dignitaries to run the store. Friend of mine just said he’s embarrassed to be an American. I haven’t wasted this much time since the Eyes Wide Shut credits started to run. Dig up Kubrik and let’s try take- two.

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 10/11/00 REALITY CHECK

Campaign 2000 TAKING THE PULSE OF AMERICA

The results of a two-week, intense and expensive Reality Check News & Information Desk investigation on 2000 presidential election polling data and the organizations that sponsor such gathered numbers have produced a few salient answers.

The first of which is that hallucinogenic drugs most likely influence the individuals conducting the Gallup agency and Cable New Network polls. The type of primary narcotic is not known from our results, but we can be relatively assured within a six percent margin of error that these people are at least mildly sedated, or at worst, pretty fucked up.

The numbers compiled and published weekly in Newsweek magazine, although even further from anything resembling reality, do not seem so much effected by recreational consumption of mind-altering chemicals as they are just stupid. And although the ever-popular Battleground polls being run by the hour at voter.com appear stable and sober, we can only conclude that those compiling this information are distracted by countless hours of porno and the 700 Club.

On 9/20 Gallup had the vice president up by 10 points with a convention bullet. Two days later they had him up by five and this week they claim he trails by three. On August 1, Newsweek positioned the governor of Texas as a 17-point leader and one month later he was down by 15. Last week they were selling a dead heat. Those still awake at Battleground have had both main candidates pretty much even for six months. CNN has been going on the coin flip/spin-the-bottle method, periodically forcing Jeff Greenfield into his nightly stammer to explain it.

Never in the history of these United States has too-much-information reached its saturation point. Somewhere Marshall McCluen is puking or laughing or something.

For example, CNBC ran some bogus poll last week that Ralph Nader was dead and Pat Buchanan reached one percentage point. This has not effected either’s notoriety. And the Wall Street Journal has printed more than one poll result with Ronald Reagan involved.

It is our conclusion that there seems to be no point to these things anymore, unless someone is getting rich, laid or attempting to sound relatively intelligent after five martinis at the weekend mixer. But as a journalistic tool, the national poll of 700 disinterested or highly rankled shut-ins with lengthy agendas is no way to take the pulse of a nation.

However, there was a significant factor not added to our less-than-detailed equation prior to postulating the drug/porno theory for pollsters, and that is the fickle nature of a nation so bored and fed up with choosing from a pool of rich, white guys from political families sucking up to rapaciously bloated corporations and interest groups that they would rather watch people eat rats on an island or wonder why Eminem disses Christina Aquilera than spend five seconds giving half a turd who is running for president.

Many volunteers for our experiment informed myself and the other poor souls involved that the last of these speculations seemed the most plausible. I had personally given up on making sense of this psychotic shit around 1974, and no one else in the room could muster a single reason to drag their asses four feet to vote for George Bush or Al Gore even if either had agreed to assume their car payments. But the guilt of not participating in the patriotic duty of all Americans was strong, and more than half forced out motivations ranging from writing in Vincent Furnier to throwing a warm Pepsi on the instrument panel inside the voting booth.

This behavior was paramount in the next phase of our experiment, which included a full-scale three-state poll of our own.

Beginning with New Jersey on the first week of September, six Reality Check participants phoned nearly 300 residents of Bergen and Passaic counties and simply asked for whom they would cast their vote. Less than 50% planned to vote. The 20 to 30% range was saved for those mired in partisanship and a final 10% wanted to do the right thing, but had little to know idea what that would be.

Nearly 250 people polled in New York’s Westchester and Putnam counties were more interested in Hillary and Lazio and felt whomever’s party seemed to have any momentum in late October would get their attention. Again, more than 50% did not give a damn.

Finally, it can be said that citizens of Connecticut are best when hanging up. Nearly half of the 200 people we called would not let us finish a sentence. The others wanted to know how the hell their senator is simultaneously running for reelection and vice president.

Unfortunately, beyond the incredible amounts of beer and pizza ingested throughout the process, the whole affair was futile for us. Our endeavor had been nothing more than spitting into the wind, which is the clearest description of any of these Gallup jobs. The glut of them alone puts no credence into what may happen in that seminal moment when you have to decide either the lesser of two evils or choosing an administration that will spend the next four years dreaming up new and improved excuses for not honoring six months of fantasyland promises.

So, with a few weeks of campaign to go, and 35 seconds of clarity peppered throughout hours of debates and television appearances, it is our suggestion that drugs might not be worth your recreational dollar as much as it might help you make sense of what you are forced to endure.

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THE NEW GORE RULES – Political satirist, James Campion’scoverage of the 2000 presidential race

Aquarian Weekly 9/20/00 REALITY CHECK

Campaign 2000THE NEW GORE RULES

Before Jerry Lewis was done blubbering through “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, young members of the Al Gore for President Committee, California chapter, were popping several corks of $12 champagne and sending condolences to the George W. Bush camp. Labor Day is the dead line for making a race of presidential campaigns and the vice president is back from the dead. Suddenly this is shaping up to be the closest run since 1960 when Dick Nixon considered shutting down the government for a recount.

Autumn looks to be good business for the Democrats. An underdog winter gave way to a summer slide in poll numbers, but that was history by September 1 when their boy had come from resembling a robot politician to some hipster Gandhi looking to topple all evils. Transformation # 346 has pulled Promise Boy into a statistical dead-heat with Bush careening towards those ugly weeks when his daddy turned a steady 1992 lead into a Clinton ass whupping. And for the first time since John McCain stole New Hampshire, Captain Shoe-In needs to get serious.

At press time, Bush has survived countless months in this process NOT being Al Gore. First he was NOT Bill Clinton, then NOT John McCain, but now NOT being Al Gore isn’t enough. Gore took care of that with a PT Barnumesque extravaganza in Los Angeles, complete with dramatic films, a make-out session with his wife and a line of world-class populist rhetoric aimed at every human sucking air. It was a brilliant slice of bull dung worthy of his predecessor and G.W. has had no answer.

It wasn’t long ago that Bush had Gore on many personal issues from blatantly lying about campaign finance infractions to calling an impeached president the “greatest ever.” Gore pulled out of that donnybrook and started another. He did it to Bill Bradley. He is doing it to Bush.

NOT being Al Gore is no longer working because Gore took himself right out of that equation by drawing issue lines in the sand and painting the Republican Party as corporate-subjugating power mongers. This worked for his buddy, Big Bill in ’95 against the Republican Revolution and has all-but neutered Bush’s clever “Compassionate Conservatism” slogan. Gore has redefined the fight. Now the question is: What is the Bush camp going to do about it?

Bush, a man who has set tones all the way to his own fantasyland convention, has suddenly been left at the corner of morality and integrity with a weak explanation for tax cuts and a wild challenge to restructure every government program since the New Deal. Gore put him there, a place in which he is quite obviously uncomfortable. It wasn’t long ago that Bush had Gore on many personal issues from blatantly lying about campaign finance infractions to calling an impeached president the “greatest ever.” Gore pulled out of that donnybrook and started another. He did it to Bill Bradley. He is doing it to Bush. This is the kind of fight this space has maintained a junkyard dog like McCain would have been effective winning, but popular GOP think tanks of their imbecilic masses put the kibosh on that, so Bush is what they get.

Another key question at the GOP headquarters since New Year’s has been: Can a Golden Boy with an open lane to the White House handle the big hit? McCain derailed that free ride, but when things got tough Bush leaned on the power brokers of the party, as did Gore in his primary battle with Bradley. McCain turned out to be a more difficult fish to fry. Bush was supposedly toughened up by the experience, but not nearly enough to fend off a national collapse in his numbers. Now all there remains is the general voting public and a bloodied Bush doesn’t seem so insulated anymore.

Gore’s comeback is miraculous only when considering Bush’s lack of rebuttal. Gore has been able to effectively sell the idea that he has been part of an administration that deserves to have a second act while outlining a myriad of horribly demented government programs that need rectifying. A man who has been one heart beat from the presidency and the deciding vote in the senate for eight years has ingeniously cornered Bush’s outsider market. Junior has responded to this latest political magic show by smiling like a dipshit and calling a NY Times reporter an asshole.

Don’t be fooled, the Bush people figured on a cushion before the debates. Gore is overrated as a debater, but Bush has problems explaining agenda to reporters. This is why the Bush camp has refused to acquiesce to formal debates where Gore can hammer away at long-form, uninterrupted hyperbole in two-minute increments. In this arena, he will skin Bush alive. Consequently, Bush recently tried to rope Gore into an informal, close nit battle with Tim Russert. This is a fight the Bush people think their man is more likely to win.

Not forgotten in the grand scheme of polls and trends are the bare-bones facts of bagged electoral votes. Each candidate has already a third of them wrapped up by voting history and party prevalence alone. Gore will not lose New York or California and Bush cannot lose Texas or Florida and hope to win. Many of the key battleground states are still vacillating, but the Bush people know full well the states that put Reagan and Bush sr. in the White House, and were wrested away by Clinton in two consecutive elections, are not sweeping to Gore. There has yet to be a poll invented that can figure how Michigan will go.

Labor Day numbers are fickle. In the last week of August 1976, Jimmy Carter was coming off Watergate and the pardoning of Nixon, and lead Gerald Ford by 38 points. With three weeks to go it was 15, then 10 by Halloween. Carter won by a mere 57 electoral votes. In 1992 Ross Perot had thrown the whole thing into a tizzy and Bush sr. was sitting on Pennsylvania Avenue planning his victory gala. He was trounced by 212.

Anything spoken or polled before September in a presidential campaign is bull cookies. This is what the junkies at the office pool over at U.S. News & World Report call “go time.” Gore gets this. Bush needs to.

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Democratic National Convention 2000 – Political satirist, James Campion exposes populist bullshit.

Aquarian Weekly 8/30/00 REALITY CHECK

Democratic National Convention 2000TINSLETOWN LOONEY TOONS

The call of equal opportunity, two-party system insurrection rears its putrid head. So, we plow ahead and dip below the machinations of the Democratic Party’s showcase for renewed morality and heralded economic prosperity with one who makes this dreary mess his home, my number one Dem insider, Dibbs.

jc: It doesn’t bode well for the party when there are highly publicized riots in the streets during a Democratic convention. Last time that happened was in ’68, and an eight year Democratic run ended.

DB: And we were stuck with Nixon.

jc: Whose bright idea was it to have Rage Against the Machine play in the parking lot, and then have the always dumbfounded LAPD shut down the lights and tell the crazies to go home?

DB: Maybe it has something to do with the mayor of Los Angeles being a Republican.

jc: Vast right wing conspiracy?

DB: Hilarious. Where were the reports decrying that fiction the Republicans were peddling in their ridiculous television promo of a convention. All that crap about “inclusion” and medicare, healthcare and social security revisions that we’ve been trying to pass through that damn GOP-ruled congress for the past six years. Are they kidding with that junk? Bush has the nerve to drone on for over an hour about how the Clinton administration has dropped the ball on these issues. And then these goons on the FOX channel and Robert Novak tell us that the only reason the economy has been roaring for the entire stretch of Clinton’s term is because of the Contract of America? What the hell is that if not blatant hypocrisy and taking credit away from those who are due it?

There is still a solid contigent here who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about Gore or any of those people wanting to hang onto the White House at any cost.

jc: Granted, Clinton’s speech was on the level of “old soldier’s never die”, but between that film of him doing everything but pulling a baby from a burning wreck, his pro wrestling entrance, and 50 minutes into the thing without ever mentioning the vice president, how does that exactly help Gore.

DB: He is quite simply the best public orator this country has produced in over a century. Setting the record straight is more important to Gore than reinventing himself.

jc: Was there much flack from the White House on the “first-night-and-out” demands from the Gore camp?

DB: At first I think the president was looking at this from the standpoint of paybacks. In the end Gore implored him to go out his way, but do it fast and early.

jc: Regarding Lieberman’s speech, how do you think morality boy sleeps when he u-turns on school vouchers, eliminating affirmative action, privatizing social security and glossing over attacking pop culture to appease the convention’s liberal wing?

DB: You can’t bash Lieberman.

jc: Too late.

DB: It was a gutsy pick. Before this convention there was defenitely a sense that the liberal wing of the party had been luke warm on Gore, especially with how he went after Bradley in the primaries and choosing Lieberman to balance the ticket, but they pulled up the reigns and came full force by Tuesday night. I was with Ted Kennedy and a bunch of his Massachusetts people before he came out to speak, and all of Caroline’s “new frontier” references had him stoked. No one I talked to had seen him that pumped in some time. I was frankly surpised. That night, with Bradley et al, it became the liberal contingent’s attempt at equal time.

jc: But doesn’t Lieberman’s subjigation make your skin crawl?

DB: There was never any love-loss between Clinton’s centrist ’92 run and the party big boys, but who cares? Bush’s move to the center alienated all those conservatives who couldn’t get to speak while Colin Powell and John McCain were gumming up the works in Philly. There is still a solid contigent here who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about Gore or any of those people wanting to hang onto the White House at any cost. There were times this past week when I felt like this was Reagan’s last stand back in ’88 when half the GOP wanted to string George Bush up, but couldn’t stomach the thought of giving up the strings. Things were alot more divided around here until the GOP convention started looking like new democrats revisited.

jc: You were talking tough back in March.

DB: It looked like McCain wasn’t backing down. Christ, I thought the man was going to demand recounts. We had him pegged as some crazed Perot guy who would jetison all the independents who hated the Gingrich dupes to Gore. Never happened.

jc: Gore is down 42% with independents.

DB: The debates will change that.

jc: How do you define these entertainment geeks like Cher, Ron Howard, Sean Penn and the Balwins coming out full force for a ticket with two humps who’ve painted Hollywood as jesters for Caligula?

DB: The alternative is damaging tax cuts and a stranglehold on women’s rights.

jc: The rich love tax cuts.

DB: All the more reason why those people should be commended for backing the right horse.

jc: Who was more stiff at the podium, Hillary or Karenna Gore Schiff?

DB: We all felt bad for that poor girl.

jc: Her daddy makes toast.

DB: No comment. I thought Hillary was fair.

jc: About Gore’s acceptance speech…

DB: Saved the day.

jc: A grade-A populace speech in the grand tradition of Harry Truman. The man promised everything but a cure for cancer and free beer.

DB: Gore is a policy wonk. He knows it and so does Bush. That is why the Republicans are jamming everything but ideas and policy down our throats. Gore spread a system of government out that was real and sober.

jc: That’s funny. I used the words, “phony” and “surreal”.

DB: It signified the strength of this ticket; working America against corporate interest.

jc: A man who stands before me on the strength of tobacco money crying about special interests and large corporations is unconscionable.

DB: We expect to cut halfway into this paper lead and take that empty-headed goon, Bush apart in the debates.

jc: If you’re not within 10 points by Labor Day you’re going to need a Bush screw-up.

DB: We’ve already factored that in.

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The VP Factor & Other Boring Summer Political Tales – Political satirist, James Campion attempts to explain Dick Chaney.

Aquarian Weekly 8/9/00 REALITY CHECK

THE VP FACTOR & OTHER BORING POLITICAL SUMMER TALES

By Tuesday morning of the last week in July, and one week before the shiny happy ones congregate in the City of Brotherly Love to coronate a man they’ve been calling Captain Shoe-In for 15 months, the word came over the wire that George W. Bush had completed the Republican ticket for the 2000 run.

It was a 59 year-old Washington stalwart named Dick Cheney, whom the opposition will certainly remind the public served under the first, under whelming Bush administration, and voted to protect every kill machine known to modern man as Congressman deluxe for the enlightened state of Wyoming, but the home team will sell as a moderate, sober and eminently capable statesman.

Realistically, it is a sane frontrunner choice. Mid-summer polls still show Bush running four to five points ahead of the current vice president with a healthy 10-point bulge among registered types.

Strangely, and perhaps this is because the Gore camp hasn’t come up with a serviceable strategy or their candidate has yet to warm up the attack engines, Bush possesses the best of both worlds. He is the outsider, a champion of change and honor in the reeking fumes of scandal and distrust, while simultaneously acting as favorite. This is an interesting problem for the man trying to take credit for the best U.S. economy ever witnessed without the benefit of a major war.

Although many in the party leaned heavy for what they thought would be the final nail in Gore’s coffin, the majority simply hates McCain. If Bush was behind and needed a jolt, that move makes sense. But he is not behind.

Enter Cheney, innocuous and safe, with hardly a controversial bone in his body. Unlike Colin Powell, an African American with no political experience, Libby Dole, a woman with no political experience, Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Ridge, a stringent pro-choice voter, or the revolutionary loose-lipped John McCain, who leaked his name into the VP ring last week, Cheney is a non-story.

In a win-win move that still has massive independent voter base rumblings, the Arizona Senator slyly put the onus on Bush to wipe clean their messy party-splitting primary battle. If Bush chooses McCain it makes an advertised maverick look like a team player, and if not, the McCain camp gets to see where their candidate stands for the future by studying the fall-out.

But, alas, there will be no fallout. No one with half a brain in the Republican Party wants to screw with a summer lead by reminding anyone of John McCain. Bush had been extremely careful until McCain stole New Hampshire and made the golden boy fight. He has survived nicely, and key advisors thought putting a madman like McCain on the ticket would only pose more questions. Although many in the party leaned heavy for what they thought would be the final nail in Gore’s coffin, the majority simply hates McCain. If Bush was behind and needed a jolt, that move makes sense. But he is not behind.

And that is why the recent history of GOP running mates have made the old boys tremble over the past few weeks.

There is still not one person who was alive to stop it who can explain how the hell confusion could have been a good enough excuse for the 1952 convention to straddle Dwight D. Eisenhower with Richard Nixon, other than the young Senator’s willingness to do everything Ike wanted no part of, like ugly campaigning and hard-nosed governing. The untouchable general almost paid dearly until Nixon chucked any chance for a legacy of respect and humility with his desperate “Checkers Speech”, forcing the would-be president to be chained to this decision for eight long years. The party eventually paid an even larger price for Nixon’s sins.

Before Nixon was done dismantling the U.S. government as it was designed, he chose Spiro Agnew to serve as vice president. Agnew was sent packing under mounds of illegal campaign funds. When the man who succeeded him, Gerald Ford tried running with the pardoning of Nixon around his neck, he was faced with the churning specter of Ronald Reagan in an nasty primary that put Ford at the then California governor’s mercy. Reagan had other plans, so Ford ran a spirited, but doomed campaign with the only Washington Republican left standing, Bob Dole. Four years later Reagan, smelling failure, tucked the man he called a “wimp”, George Bush Sr. under his considerable wing and returned the party back to a crossover-winning proposition.

And then there was Dan Quayle…

But with Dick Chaney, all those terrible nightmares are history. The Cheney pick solidifies the Bush comeback from the primary mess. His man is vanilla squared. Despite being Chief of Staff for the silly Ford administration and a major cog in the now-remembered farce known as Desert Storm as acting Defense Secretary for G.W.’s dad, Cheney helps to allay the fears that Bush is some kind of frat house party animal with a rudimentary grasp of foreign affairs.

Other than a few minor tremors about a supposed social moderate truly being a staunch conservative on key GOP hush-hush issues like abortion and guns, or his record number of heart attacks, no one paid to listen for earthquakes see any reason to believe Cheney will help or hinder Bush. Again, he is in the lead, and due to the fact that his party holds its convention first, he had to come with a name that didn’t rock the boat. The choosing of a vice president without a major voice or key state to carry come November is one way to carefully nurture the momentum.

Now it’s onto the convention to parade the rest of the gang before CNN and go about not losing to Al Gore.

NEXT WEEK – GEORGETOWN REPORTS FROM THE CONVENTION

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Joseph Lieberman & The Great Leap Of Faith – Political satriist, James Campion deconstructs a demogogue VP choice.

Aquarian Weekly 7/26/00 REALITY CHECK

JOSEPH LIEBERMAN & THE GREAT LEAP OF FAITH

The GOP Fan Fest was barely done sweeping up the graffiti tonnage when the phones started to jangle in Nashville. The Gore Camp was fluttering with reaction to the first Republican Convention ripe with minorities and touchy-feely types and an absence of NRA, religious right or impeach-crazed congressmen. An eight-point deficit sunk to a 17-point chasm and the comfort of the front runner and his snoozer running mate brought one answer: SPLASH.

And by firing back with vice presidential candidate, Connecticut Senator, Joseph Lieberman, the current VP has made a big one. The name immediately cut hard into the gaudy Bush numbers, yanking the stunned interns from their seats over at Gallup. By the first full week in August, Al Gore had pulled within 2 lousy points of Captain Shoe-in with a bombast convention of his own pending.

But why did Joseph Lieberman make sense to the panicking democratic minions?

When the day is done, Joseph Lieberman is no different than Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell in the righteous, religious-judgment two-step and had William F. Buckley so juiced a few years back he endorsed him over a Republican candidate for senate.

Firstly, Lieberman is no Dick Cheney. He was the frontrunner’s opening gesture to the conservative wing of the party before the moderate convention, but a bland pick when considering the other, more courageous choices. Lieberman is truly the “wild card” name predicted by anyone willing to go on record after Bush named Cheney.

Gore needed a buzz and Lieberman resonates like an angry wasp’s nest.

Lieberman is a devout Orthodox Jew and a democratic legislator with an arms-length conservative, moralist voting record. And although no one in Washington will offer anything but “honorable” to describe the man, another word lingers inside the beltway, “enigma.” He is a purveyor of moral conduct and religious purity, yet he is a divorcee with an overwhelmingly “pro-choice” voting record.

Moreover, Lieberman secures many liberal circles while standing glaringly on the side of such conservative issues as school vouchers and Bill Bennett’s fascist Empower America crusade against pop culture. He supported George Bush’s Gulf War and was the first democrat to describe the Monica Lewinsky scandal as “immoral and harmful”, but on fiscal concerns he will back Gore’s fears of a GOP controlled congress buoyed by one of their own.

Then again, the Dems have had a history of “wild card” VP candidates from the mentally unstable Tom Eagleton and a woman, Geraldine Ferraro to presidential liabilities like the Catholic Jack Kennedy and the morally bankrupt William Jefferson Clinton. But as the VP’s had a way of killing a ticket, luck has followed the main draws.

If there was one salvo the GOP unloaded on the present administration during its televised centrist show, it was its lack of trustworthiness and moral structure. Lieberman answers that in spades. He is a morality nut and steps right in line with Gore’s corpulent shill of a wife and a PMRC past dripping with condescending “save the children” rhetoric.

But Gore’s attempt here is to seem more caring and less corruptible, and despite the predictable chicken littles moaning about mid-America’s disdain for East Coast Liberal Jews having little to no shot, it is hard to argue that Lieberman isn’t at least a news-making choice.

As discussed in this space for the last year, Al Gore has two main problems.

The first, and most damaging, is that people don’t like him. They don’t want to give him credit for the economy, blindly accept his alleged pristine record with ecology, embrace his repeated denials about campaign finance misappropriations or beam at whatever earth tones he happens to model while canoeing up a man-made creek. The majority of voting types see him as a Washington dupe and a disingenuous lout who would tell anyone anything they wanted to hear to be elected dogcatcher.

This brings us to problem number two: His opponent has brilliantly crafted an image of the one man Gore is trying to separate himself from: Bill Clinton.

Junior’s speech at the convention broke many seemingly unattainable Clinton records for moderate hyperbole. From saving Social Security and Medicare to even mentioning single mothers and inner city children, Bush laid out liberal agenda with a slice of “compassionate conservatism”, going as far as complimenting the president if not for his silly peccadilloes. Everything from his strained attempt at not smiling to avoid the “wise ass smirk” to the passionate call for change reeks of Big Bill at his most eerily phony moments.

Cut through all the polished speech-gunk and George Bush jr. told the nation that he knows what you liked about Bill Clinton and he can provide that and then some, without all the embarrassing perjury aftertaste. New and improved mouthwash in a handy mess-free bottle.

If Gore was the least bit likable, or faced with another stuffed-shirt conservative beast, then Joseph Lieberman is still serving the good people of Connecticut. He certainly isn’t balancing the ticket on battle lines drawn by the GOP convention.

Bush has set the tone thus far. That will change in a presidential campaign. Gore’s flow with the momentum is very reminiscent of Big Bill as well. But this worked with Clinton because he went in knowing he would get a pass by anyone he could entertain for four minutes. The Gore people know that if their man spends half that time with an independent voter he is likely to queer the deal.

When the day is done, Joseph Lieberman is no different than Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell in the righteous, religious-judgment two-step and had William F. Buckley so juiced a few years back he endorsed him over a Republican candidate for senate. But he is Gore’s lightening-in-a-bottle to balance a ticket wherein the presidential candidate has a problem separating ethics with business as usual.

NEXT WEEK: DIBBS BACKSTAGE AT THE CONVENTION

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Republican National Convention – Political satirist, James Campion’s wise-ass Philly excursion.

Aquarian Weekly 7/26/00 REALITY CHECK

Republican National Convention 2000GEORGETOWNON THE FLOOR

For the first time in 52 years, the Republican Party held its convention in the City of Brotherly love in order to anoint George W. Bush its 2000 presidential candidate. Due to a glut of parking infractions and incidents stemming from one peculiar night in 1982 whilst attending a Muddy Waters show, the Reality Check News & Information Desk was unable to be properly represented. But our primary GOP source, the always gregarious, Georgetown did attend, and although he despises journalists, somewhere between cocktail hours and gratuitous speeches, here is a synopsis of his nightly inside report.

jc: I’m going to come right out and ask this. Did you beat a Texan named Bubba with pom poms?

GT: During the first roll call Monday, some asswipe from Austin stepped on my fucking foot and started screaming “Keyes! Keyes! Death to Tyrants!” This went on for the 20 minutes it took for Texas Lt. Gov. Rick Perry to ask for his state’s delegates to cast their vote. So we beat that red neck with pom poms until security escorted him into the lobby.

jc: How big were these pom poms?

GT: I don’t remember, but the guy came back three hours later with this goofy smile on his face and about thirty or forty Bush/Chaney buttons plastered all over him. But it wasn’t just me.

Nobody was crazy about Powell’s “Affirmative Action” stuff. I thought it was ballsy.

jc: Where were you when the final tally came in at about 10:03 Wednesday night?

GT: Right in the middle of that friggin’ Ralph Nader insurrection We heard a CSPAN intern gave him a press credential and he started having an anti-Bush conference right in the middle of the floor. Meanwhile, that moron from Wyoming kept going on and on bashing Clinton and they’re flashing live shots of George and Laura all over the joint. It was chaos.

jc: Was that the week’s biggest noise on the floor?

GT: Nah. A platform committee for “Pro-choice” Republicans motioned to the floor for a debate on incest and wound up dealing with Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Ridge who told them in no uncertain terms that it was nice of them to attend but it was time to come to grips with the fact that “this party can no sooner bend on ‘pro-life’ than jamming half-assed gun laws down the collective throat of three-quarters of this country’s taxpayers.” Then he went home to meet Bush and do a live hook-up from Eisenhower’s office in Gettysburg. That’s how tight a barge we were running, son.

jc: Conspicuously absent from the proceedings were Dan Quayle, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich and Christine Todd Whitman.

GT: No one needs to see Danny Boy. Ford and Dole were enough fuck-up reminders. I wanted to kill someone if they mentioned one more time in that documentary that Ford brought the country out of the darkness. And there’s a new rule that Robertson is not allowed near any televised party shindigs until after November 7.Bible is out, military is in. Gingrich? He’s a talking head now and Whitman is pro-choice. Next.

jc: No bad-vibe Gingrich tough guys.

GT: We’re getting elected this time around.

jc: We heard Ford’s stroke Tuesday night was caused by someone whispering in his ear that his tribute was going to celebrate the pardoning of Nixon.

GT: Funny. The man is 87, and we heard it was a sinus attack. Now they say he had two strokes. Poor bastard. And by the way, you forgot to mention that Lazio wasn’t present. Good move. He’s bucking the national spotlight for his constituency. Hillary has to go to their convention and, once again, looks like the carpetbagger she is. I was at the meeting for that one.

jc: What is this bullshit about delegates bowing their heads when Arizona congressman, Jim Kolbe gave his speech Tuesday night?

GT: The gay thing? Listen, inclusion is one issue, and his presence speaks to that, but we were not getting into anti-platform agendas. Did you hear those hoots emanating from the Log Cabin Republicans about gay rights and appointments to the cabinet? Probably not, since they were squelched by the University of Temple marching band cranking a dead-on original version of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. It was so moving Jeff Greenfield stopped drinking for a minute to listen.

jc: Your assessment of the media coverage?

GT: Tight as a battle ship, baby. The networks didn’t get a crack at anyone not cleared by the Bush people. Fuck Peter Jennings and that sap, Russert. I know you like Koppel, but he’s another cheap lapper. He spent a half an hour one night reminding G.W. that his father was president. What a crank. This was our house, and not one of these media outlets had a goddamn clue what was really going on. Got Nancy Reagan in and out without a whisper. NBC blew the shot of her exiting and they were pissed.

jc: Let’s get to the speakers. Anyone do the job?

GT: Nobody was crazy about Powell’s “Affirmative Action” stuff. I thought it was ballsy. Schwarzkopf from the USS New Jersey listing military drop-offs under the Clinton Administration was humorous. But not nearly as humorous as The Rock. What a fucking goon. Someone got canned over that idea. Three quarters of his fans are too young to vote.

jc: What about Cheney?

GT: No one was too disappointed in Cheney. He’s a block of wood, but he reminds everyone that this is George Sr.’s revenge. And that’s funny because the conservative wing of this party wanted to murder Bush from ’87 on. Why do you think Buchanan sabotaged the ’92 convention with that insane “culture war” speech that cost us 10 points in 24 hours? Not one of us talked Bush into fighting Clinton harder. We gave up on him and now we’re fighting with their lives to elect his son.

jc: Grade Bush’s speech.

GT: Fair. The transcript was fantastic. I thought he tried too hard not to smirk.

jc: Most moderate Republican speech in history.

GT: The guy is no politician. Reagan he will never be, but he pulled the agenda to the left just enough to leave all that primary stuff in the dust. We have the utmost confidence that this will boost his numbers and prepare him for the debates. That’s the final hurdle.

jc: Did this vanilla, non-political convention present a kindler, gentler GOP?

GT: You give us the White House and Capitol Hill and we’ll eat your young.

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