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Final Battle For U.S. Healthcare 2009

Aquarian Weekly 9/16/09 REALITY CHECK

HOPEVILLE IN AUTUMN

This debate has become less about facts than emotions. – Joe Scarborough

Political animals, real political animals, know virgin territory when they see it. This kind of thing can create weird currents and strange vacuums and absorb concussive effects unrecognized to the untrained eye. The efficient aggressor can use it as a rare opportunity for marking territory. In fact, identifying uncharted political and social terrain is one of this space’s specialties, recognizing when events go sideways and judging how the true professionals own it. Aristotle was a pro. Cincinnatus. That crazy idiot who runs South Carolina.

Joe Cool Makes His CaseThis past Wednesday, Barack Obama proved his political pedigree, unleashing his thus far unforeseen feral side in an historic address to congress upon its autumnal reconvening. All the tell-tell signs were there; the snarl, the unflinching spring-loaded crouch poised to mutilate whatever remains of a National Healthcare debate. It was evident in his tone; combative with overtures of indignation and a sousance of schmaltz.

Presidents prepared to horsewhip lawmakers, plead with the electorate, and make certain everyone within earshot knows whose boss can provide a most revelatory experience. And believe me, political animals can smell a member of the pride from miles away.

It was, ultimately, this president’s finest speech, as noted by NY Times columnist, David Brooks on PBS soon afterwards — the best since the campaign’s Race Speech. But it was, without argument, overtly and unapologetically political; from the opening salvo, which conjured the independently spirited Teddy Roosevelt, whose anti-establishmentarianism status has gained traction in recent decades, all the way to the shameless grand finale, a tearful tribute to the Left’s late hero, Ted Kennedy. It toed the difficult line between paying backhanded lip service to bipartisanship while ripping the opposition new holes. Mostly it accomplished its only pertinent goal, to galvanize a recently dispirited and fractured Democratic base spewing queer demands on half-baked ultimatums.

The address’ most important point, however, was its stake of historical claim, which is exactly what is transpiring in Washington right now as you read this; for never in any lifetime has Healthcare Reform gotten this must traction, caused this much furor, or moved this far down the legislative line. For the first time even fellow cynics are willing to admit that this puppy might even come to a vote, unlike the recently quashed Cap & Trade fiasco.

It was crisp, chock full of luster, and at times a king-hell romp. The problem is it is a speech he should have given three months ago.

There is a sense now, and you can almost feel it seep through the television as Republicans squirmed in their seats, shouting random hoots and waving copies of dissenting bills, that this idea of avoiding a head-on collision with Joe Cool is a dream fast dying. Ask South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson, who confused the chamber with a Dylan Goes Electric concert and blurted out “Liar!” twice. By morning, reeling Republican officials were shoving him out the door to blubber a half-assed apology.

It is becoming more and more evident by the day that this issue will have to finally be settled in the realm of law and not in the ambivalence of popular opinion or beneath the din of stupidity. The country is fast losing patience with the issue, and the months of incoherence coming from the founders of this movement has left ample room for Myth-Making 101. The president made more than veiled references to this throughout the hour-long address, affecting an anger lost on his first nine months in office.

It was crisp, chock full of luster, and at times a king-hell romp. The problem is it is a speech he should have given three months ago. It was nothing more than a pep talk, a call to arms. What was needed was a final summation, a forceful, undeniable framework. But instead of a singular push for one signature agenda, a strongly worded manifesto for an actual bill the president would sign, we received vague examples of what can be worked out through determination and an understanding of its gravity. And although it is admirable this mostly liberal president could begin to broach opening interstate insurance competition or visiting tort reform, it has become laughable that a wide range of options and back-to-the-drawing-board rhetoric is still passing for a proclamation.

The failure to hit concrete points like the who and how of its bankrolling (made more curious the day after when even prominent Democrats were waiting on number-crunchers to figure how in the world $900 billion over ten years would pay for this thing) was manifest upon a reading of the transcript the next morning. Without the drama and inflection of the performance there seemed to be nothing in the text that answers the key questions, and since the Democrats have no one even close to this guy’s ability to communicate, trouble still brews.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are also slowly splitting at the seams. There is the tried and true political animal salivating from The Right refusing to cast a vote for anything that would hand this president a much-needed first term victory, one in which has avoided chief executives for nearly a century. Then there is a growing contingent of moderates and survivalists (political animals all) lead by Maine Senator Olympia Snow, who understands all to well that being on the wrong side of history is not a wise move. If the train has left the station, it is better to not be left on the platform with nary a voice or anyone to bow to. But they have also learned the lessons from the Democrats who voted with fervor for an unpopular and badly conceived war, only to be buried by its abysmal results. This has now become the new administration’s gamble, as Iraq was the last go-round.

This time, however, unlike a few poor souls being shipped halfway across the globe on the wave of flimsy excuses, we’re all on the front lines now.

 

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Mr. Burris Goes To Washington

Aquarian Weekly 1/14/09 REALITY CHECK

MR. BURRIS GOES TO WASHINGTON

Remember the case of Roland Burris the next time some prickless dink prattles on about Founding Fathers and the almighty Constitution, or God given freedoms and the law-abiding exquisiteness of The System. Tell them Tag Teamnone of that matters unless it is performed in action, through the letter and spirit of law, and not through some ideological, half-assed political ceremony of the absurd. For what the 111th Congress of these United States, and most egregiously the Democratic Party, is currently doing to the process of government as dictated by our democratic framework is patently criminal.

Burris’ appointment by embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich may turn one’s stomach, perhaps like a little man-on-man love or burning cloth symbols or expressing one’s liberties wherever they may lie on the socially acceptable scale, but it is not a basis of democratic law. It is anything but. Just as the idea that certain members of a political party or their fancy new president or their tired drone congressional leaders can sidestep constitutional law on the grounds that it was hatched in the cloud of “criminal complaint” flies in the face of the same Democratic Party which argues about Guantanamo Bay detainees. If they are entitled to their day in court and due process under the guise of “innocent until proven guilty” — and not in the press or the goofy court of public opinion — then so is Blagojevich.

Until that day Blagojevich is the governor of Illinois, and as such, empowered by that office to choose the successor of a vacated senate seat as stated in the 17th Amendment of our constitution. He has done so. Whether this jibes with anyone’s political, personal or moral objectives is not the point, nor should it be. It is the power and privilege of the office Blagojevich was elected to, by the people and for the people, and he has made his choice.

The legislative branch of the federal government manipulating the actions of a state governor, whether under investigation, arrested, vilified or not, is a dangerous game, especially now at the dawning of a new administration with a massive economic stimulus package to be debated and passed. Illinois is entitled by constitutional law two representatives in the highest branch of congress, and that branch has no right to deny it.

The only binding recourse for this congress to cite is Article One, Section Five of the Constitution: “Each House has the power to judge the elections and qualifications of its own members.” The body has refused to do so. Why? Because it is a bogus argument. The qualifications (age, residency, citizenship) are all in order and Burris was not elected, but appointed, which sends the matter to the Illinois state legislature, which refused to act, and thus handed the whole shebang back into the governor’s chair, where Rod Blagojevich presently sits.

This is the end of the actual sane and legal part of the story.

What the fuck is the difference between a man openly selling a seat in congress for cold, hard cash and another one getting it through cash laundered in bribes, television ads, backroom donations from special interest groups or organizations, or the wholly unfair panoply of redistricting, family ties, favors owed, or any of the dozens of idiosyncratic reasons a person ends up in the position for such a prominent seat of power in the first place?

It only becomes a different story because what is being heaped upon Blagojevich’s choice is an unlawful attempt at casting penance upon another embarrassing Chicago-Politics episode, and in any reasonable conclusion, hostile and bordering on racketeering. According to constitutional and Illinois State Law, which are the only realities that should or do matter here, it is not up to Harry Reid or the president elect to decide who or what emerges as a replacement for the state’s senator. Certainly the media, the people or the sitting members of congress can have a say and protest and make cases against the appointment and by due process make strides to block or debate or filibuster it, but rejecting it outright by concocting bullshit scenarios about the state attorney general from Illinois refusing him a state seal or this imbecilic falderal about a “tainted selection” is seedy, petty, and most importantly…say it with me brothers and sisters…Unconstitutional!

Of course this is nothing new for the Democratic Party and its rogue’s gallery of thuggish miscreants, who time and again for over a decade have stonewalled such great Americans as Ralph Nader and Bill Bradley and other “undesirables” from playing in their precious power games. And it is certainly nothing new for the wildly inept and criminally insane behavior of prominent members of this body for decades, most recently trolling airport stalls or flirting with young pages, collecting truckloads of Alaskan gifts or whatever bilious chicanery Tom Delay displayed daily as legislative deportment. Is it a sad state of affairs that a man who left a woman to die in an automobile forty years ago is allowed to be a celebrated senior senator from Massachusetts as poor, innocent Roland Burris twists in the wind? Sure, but for reasons of money, stature, name and power, Ted Kennedy neatly sidestepped that little screw-up to be one of the most influential liberal lions of the modern Democratic Party, the same party which today pushes a legally appointed official to the curb under the guise of proper decorum.

This brings us, as always, to the putrid fan dance of hypocrisy seen nightly on most of your C-Span stations: What the fuck is the difference between a man openly selling a seat in congress for cold, hard cash and another one getting it through cash laundered in bribes, television ads, backroom donations from special interest groups or organizations, or the wholly unfair panoply of redistricting, family ties, favors owed, or any of the dozens of idiosyncratic reasons a person ends up in the position for such a prominent seat of power in the first place?

Oh, and this sidebar argument that there has to be an African American representative in the senate or there should be one to replace Barack Obama is stupid and a classic American insult to blacks everywhere. I thought I heard some jackass on MSNBC blather on about having a proportional amount of blacks and women and Hispanic representatives to that of the census. Again, as moronically naïve and dim-witted as that position is, it is for the people or law or constitutional debate to decide, not a few high-minded chieftains of government imposing punishment against the purported mockery of their station.

So while the Obama Administration’s first 100 days near, and a broken economy awaits this magic stimulus package, the United States Senate is three seats down; one from political smugness, the other in a contested Minnesota election that stinks to high heaven, and the last from the Empire State where the clubhouse leader appears to be an airhead. But it all pales in comparison to this latest outrage, no matter what backroom dealings put a band-aid on it as this goes to press.

I know one thing, if I were sitting in the electric chair in Chicago today and the governor stayed my execution, I’d be none too pleased to have the guy at the switch answer, “I’m not sure this Blagojevich character is a straight shooter.”

ZAPP!

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Democratic National Convention ’08

Aquarian Weekly 9/3/08 REALITY CHECK

THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHILL Democrats Make Mile High Noise & History

There are only two aims of achieving success at a major party’s national convention; define/redefine the candidate while skewering his opponent and bridging any chasms widened by primary overzealousness, power positioning, and/or the expected special interest harangues. This week in Denver the Democrats rolled out their dramatically manipulated showcase to bring the Obama brand in from the far-left, Commie-pinko, radical-darkie wilderness, dogpile on the frightening glut of Republican stupidity, and save November from the hordes of Clintonites frothing at the collective mouth to implode the immediate future.

Obama in DenverWhether this multi-media flimflam was a success is purely in the eye of the beholder. FOX NEWS continuously paraded out one stone-faced commentator after the other to deride it as a sham, while MSNBC gushed like apple-cheeked cheerleaders at the slightest utterance. The actual networks, cutting in only for the final hour of coverage each night, unfurled what could only be described as the look of annoyance for interrupting Celebrity Slug Chewing for this banal absurdity.

And it’s hard to blame any of them. Conventions have lost its luster for this reporter, especially ones not attended or at least infiltrated by some cheap mole in my employ. In fact, this is the first presidential election in years wherein The Desk or its pale pre-comparisons would not have any firsthand inside knowledge save for whatever minced across our television screens in all its Hi-Def glory.

But what could best the actual drama of “true conventions” like those in the early 20th century, sprayed unceremoniously with vicious bullspit careening from the mouths of angry delegates who screamed mercilessly through thick clouds of cigar smoke at union leaders and mafia thugs. Oh where oh where are the fistfights and chain-beatings, or even hissy fits by lifers like Ted Kennedy and Pat Buchanan or power-grabs by staunch heavyweights like Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson; the real old-world rough-and-ready politics that inspired this boy to borrow its addictions for weekly fodder?

It is dead and gone now, tepidly replaced by the sounds of two-dimensional revelry. These are no longer Conventions, but Coronations; a final bugle cry over the ghosts of an ancient American battle heard beneath the agonizing din of digitized chicanery. Merely echoes; sad echoes of once potent political muscle whitewashed in a sea of queer sentiment.

Ah, but somewhere this week there was a place for those echoes in Madam Shoo-In’s “endorsement” speech, which roused the faithful to conveniently forget her ideological and personal crippling of the eventual Democratic nominee for six months of ugly campaigning. But despite the obvious hypocrisy of the thing, Hillary Clinton did her party proud, erecting a plethora of reasons why a “lesser-of-two-evils” vote for Barack Obama beats the living snot out of another four years of GOP madness.

It was sound reasoning, even by a jilted harpy in her element; signs waving madly with her moniker one last time; written boldly and then ripped from the clutches of apoplectic delegates to be replaced with much more party-friendly UNITY signs.

All hail the neck-wrenching U-Turn of party diplomacy!

“This man is incapable of nothing but dooming us all!” to “If you give a shit about what I was trying to do by openly mocking your candidate, you had better cast vote for him!”

But the Clintons are nothing if not professionals, and they effectively accomplished the second of the two convention goals, mending fences.

On the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the third generation removed announced, “I get it.” And this is the fundamental difference between the old guard and whatever this Obama insanity represents. The vision of the dispossessed becoming the reality of change; not only political or ideological change, but unmitigated rubber-hitting-road change.

For his part, Big Bill pulled out one of the finest performances of his ex-presidency. The tired pathos of his loose-cannon ramblings a few months ago on the campaign trail was replaced by a stirring oration, a greatest hits of the Clinton Repertoire, reminding us of his robotic capacity to grandly hoist fury without peer. He was reborn in it. You could see glimpses in how this slick southern grifter had once gained the world’s highest office. It was like watching the Elvis Comeback Special in ’68, when, for just a fleeting moment, an apparition of rebellious boogie madness emerged from a dreary decade of bad movies and silly posturing.

Not even vice presidential nominee Joe Biden’s pugilistic meandering could douse the festivities. In a strange way, The Biden Bulldog approach is an apt juxtaposition to the otherwise “above it all” Obama, who needs to maintain his amiable exterior and let the cranky, old canine attack, not unlike the squeaky clean grandfatherly Eisenhower standing behind Dick Nixon’s carnivorous snarls.

Biden was brought in to “connect” with the disgruntled Reagan Democrats that Senator Rodham so deftly courted in the primaries, but his ranking as third-most-liberal senator behind the candidate he joins, along with his Catholic faith, only serves to further weigh down this unlikely underdog ticket.

But it matters little now. Because after what transpired in the Coronation’s final evening, how can Barack Obama deign to be president? It will be a step down to what he has become, this living symbol of the American Dream, the struggle of those not “in the club” busting through the invisible ceiling for a slice of the pie, a voice in the clamor, a head to be counted. He is also by every account – pro or con – the New Guy; new to the game, new to the gig, and new to past generations of every imaginable failure.

If he were to lose, following the empirical pomp of his stadium triumph, could you picture this man skulking back to the senate like John Kerry or wandering around screaming about Global Warming like Al Gore? Perhaps someone could find him another country to run, maybe a more progressive, fun-loving, wackier country.

Even if he happens to win, still one of the great long shots in western civilization, it will never eclipse the immensity of the night the purpose and power of this improbable run stood before 80,000 manic and weeping minions beneath a barrage of fireworks and confetti to accept a major party’s nomination for the presidency.

On the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the third generation removed announced, “I get it.” And this is the fundamental difference between the old guard and whatever this Obama insanity represents. The vision of the dispossessed becoming the reality of change; not only political or ideological change, but unmitigated rubber-hitting-road change.

Those of my generation, Obama’s generation, were given the breath and length of the unprecedented opportunity to “get it”. And although tons of sky candy, blasting music, tearful tributes, and political theater are filled with nothing but big noise and empty promise, none of it adds up to the guy at the podium “getting it”.

Now he only has sixty-odd days to convince an ultra-conservative, puritanical, fear-addled nation that he “gets it”.

But for three days what looked and sounded like “the same ol’-same ol'” careened into the final fifty minutes as nothing we have ever seen. And that is more than a show, bub, that’s history.

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Will The Real John McCain Please Stand Up

Aquarian Weekly 5/28/08 REALITY CHECK

WILL THE REAL JOHN MCCAIN PLEASE STAND UP

Now that the Democratic Party’s sixteen-month hissy fit winds to a merciful close, the electorate will be forced to ask the absentee Republican candidate for his credentials. Trouble is they are not of the usual tried-and-true variety. The charming confusion that is John Sidney McCain III’s political biography is anything but ordinary. And as I write this, it continues to stew, creating a daily definition that begs the obvious question: Who the hell is John McCain really?

John McCainNo one with a lick of sense can argue that the Arizona senator and presumptive GOP presidential nominee tiptoes across the thinnest of campaign tightropes. He is a Republican in a political season that rates the very term with extreme prejudice. For six of the last eight years his party has been at the helm of some trying times, a good portion of them circumstantial, others self-inflicted. He has also been a major part of this ride, in some cases leading the vocal charge for an unprecedented domestic and international litany of train wrecks, which fairly brands him with the blame. Still other times he was battling the status quo with contrarian bills and harsh criticism of its leaders, which equally brands him a political traitor.

For good or ill, McCain must combine these peculiarly fascinating and perhaps instructively unique dualities and find a way to traverse his way through the most difficult of strides: Distance himself from the currently doomed Washington atmosphere and rally the very troops who stand accused of screwing everything up.

This is not an easy balancing act for a congressman, much less a presidential candidate. It is why McCain appears at times like a stalwart maverick and others like he is a blithering idiot, the latter popping up more frequently since the Democrats have all-but decided on his opponent.

When he excoriates rivals for views he himself espoused a few years earlier, whether it is on the Iraq occupation or tax cuts or negotiating with foreign nations not jiving with the American world plan, McCain looks like a pandering hack. When he’s making bold statements about changing the tone of previous elections that appeared petty and vicious by staying above the fray, but then when things get juicy, as in the turbulent weeks following the now-infamous Reverend Wright fiasco, he jumps to question a candidate’s integrity, he looks desperately silly.

This is a shame; because part of the McCain appeal is that he is anything but a pandering hack or desperately silly. His record, for the most part, shows he has stood by principle even when it looked like political suicide, as in his repeated public mockery of the bungled Iraq war policies devised by the obviously mad Donald Rumsfeld, whom he berated vehemently in public for close to two years. Later, when he was wallowing in primary purgatory, flat broke and without a hint of legitimate press coverage, his defense of the dubious troop surge in Iraq seemed like the final nail in his campaign’s coffin.

McCain has gambled where few politicians of this age have gambled, heading up questionably deduced crusades outside the mainstream and across the ideological aisle with like-minded legislators who believed that campaign finances were becoming counter-productive to the electoral process, the executive branch of government should be given the override veto power to curtail federal spending, a bating of the powerful tobacco lobby was long overdo, a reduction of greenhouse gases by big business was paramount, and the monitoring of the senate’s filibuster stranglehold in judicial nominee process was a much-needed self policing of congress.

This is a man who at once rattled the sabers of military might while railing against the use of torture in any manner. He questioned the long-range wisdom of the original Bush tax cuts and worked with the much-despised ultra-liberal lion, Ted Kennedy on immigration reform. When he was torn to pieces during his 2000 presidential campaign by a burgeoning Texas smear-machine, he dusted himself off and during the general election hugged the soon-to-be president like a long-lost brother. Four years later, however, he would deride the same army of political hit men and his party’s privately funded muckrakers in a staunch defense of fellow Viet Nam vet John Kerry.

It is a difficult and thorny trek laden with social, political and philosophical minefields. At some point the 71 year-old senator of 26 years will have to figure out which McCain is best suited for the trip, and when he decides who that is, then the public can vote on it.

McCain is also two sides of the personality coin: An über-serious war veteran of imprisonment and torture, who has dubbed himself “the worst nightmare” for America’s enemies, who often displays a playfully self-effacing sense of humor. He speaks like a hawkish macho man to the NRA and meets with lunatic Christian cult preachers, then pivots to jive with liberal joke-factories like The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live. He winks at the Right Wing of his constituencies with talk of conservative judges, but derides any notion of crazy amendments to ban gay marriage.

During the final weeks of his successful Lazarus-like rising from primary oblivion, he battled every conservative talk show host imaginable – many still refusing to back his candidacy – a vocal pogrom that may ride into November now that a Clinton is no longer a threat. In succeeding despite not sucking up to performing party robots, he has disproved the myopic notion that a Republican must pander to the ultra-right of the party to lead it. Hell, McCain even called the evil leftist press corps his base in 2000 and still enjoys their company on his Straight-Talk Express.

But there have been signs of change on that front lately, specifically when the media pounced on the ever-fading president as he stared down the lowest approval ratings since Nixon in a speech to Israeli hardliners wherein he compared anyone who even considers diplomatic relations with foreign nations he’s deemed “terrorists” as an act of appeasement akin to disgraced British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain. McCain echoed these mawkish sentiments, continuing to recall Hamas leader, Ahmed Yousuf’s “endorsement” of a Barack Obama presidency as a de facto threat to national security.

Rightly accused of the worst kind of political chicanery, using an official speech on foreign soil as a sitting president to influence an American election, McCain was unceremoniously tethered to Bush’s usual verbal goofiness and ham-fisted public relations; not a place he wants or needs to be for any hope of victory.

So John McCain struggles to hover aloft from “business as usual”, once a champion of Independents, the maverick’s maverick, and gather the rancorous base of his wounded party, while also forced to upset the Change Agent, Hope Movement of Barack Obama, who has systematically stomped on the heretofore immutable laws of Democratic Party politics by ignoring the socialist-minded working class special interest lobby to create his own uncharted path to the White House.

It is a difficult and thorny trek laden with social, political and philosophical minefields. At some point the 71 year-old senator of 26 years will have to figure out which McCain is best suited for the trip, and when he decides who that is, then the public can vote on it.

 

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Will Women Vote For Barack Obama?

Aquarian Weekly 5/21/08 REALITY CHECK

THE GREAT DIVIDE Race, Gender & The New Frontier

The cultural landslide that has sprung from the 2008 Democratic primary race is nothing short of historic. Nothing about it can be measured by the past.

Nothing.

The failure of the general press coverage to grasp this has rendered the entire industry impotent. Metric geeks endlessly pour over voter trends and intra-party splits, swing state exit polls and traditional supporter blocks. Skewed commentary prattled by pathetically debased punditry try in vain to corral some sense of this outlandish idea that a woman and a black man are not merely running for the highest office in the land, but the victor may hold a very real shot to compete as a heavy favorite. The whole idea has crippled the media and sent voters into a feeding frenzy rarely witnessed by hardened professionals that are paid not to blink.

Suffragette CityBut a story without precedence is death to journalism. It removes the air of certainty from events. When the schematic is smashed to pieces, there is terrible panting and grasping for answers where there are none. But alas, one certainty has emerged; there is no sense in continuing to postulate any kind of Kumbaya-hand-holding détente between warring factions inside the Democratic Party now that Illinois Senator Barack Obama is its presumptive nominee.

Not this time.

There is a Great Divide in the party that goes beyond anything or anyone preceding it.

Way beyond.

This is not JFK vs. LBJ in 1960 for the liberal center of the Democratic Party or Goldwater vs. Rockefeller in ’64 for the Republican Party’s conservative soul. It is nothing like the personality battles in the Republican Party between Ford and Reagan in 1976 or the one within the Democratic Party between Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter four years later.

These were ideological, philosophical battles or skirmishes over national “electablity” and backroom party politics. Baby stuff. The kind of stuff you come back from.

You can shake off Lyndon Johnson accusing Jack Kennedy of drug addiction or Kennedy calling Johnson “a dumb hick”. Small potatoes. Before long they were on the big ticket stealing the White House from Tricky Dick.

It was business as usual when Teddy refused to shake the president’s hand at the convention or Goldwater used insider muscle to paint Rockefeller as a Commie lunatic. Shit, when Ronald Reagan called George H. W. Bush “a wimp” and Bush coined the phrase “voodoo economics” it lead to twelve years of Republican dominance.

These were, after all was said and done, still Anglo-Saxon, protestant old-time political robots – with the grand exception of JFK, who was at best a buffet Catholic. They had constituencies that ran long before the Civil War, demographics that included big labor and gun lobbyists, industry moguls and congressional favor-trades. These were entrenched factions that had run unchecked over the body politic since the rich colonial merchants thumbed their noses at the English crown and riled up the illiterate peasants to shed the blood of revolution.

It was been-there/done-that, over and over and over again.

If a staunch supporter of an also-ran had to compromise or trade in their devotions for a lesser deal, it came easier, because there would be another one just like them entering congress to beat their drum or at the very least a carbon-copy waiting in the wings to fight on in four years. There had been two centuries of lily-white, silver-spooned, Anglo-Saxon swinging dicks that had come before and were more than likely to come again.

So I ask my fellow compatriots of the Fourth Estate: Where exactly do these women, who viewed Hillary Clinton as their first and maybe only legitimate shot at the big prize, go after the smoke clears?

These candidates did not in any way, shape or form, resemble Hillary Rodham Clinton, a woman, or Barack Obama, an African American. Not one of them hailed from a gender or race that was made to bear centuries of discrimination, condescension, social and cultural pandering, rejection, assassination, or recrimination.

Again, barring Kennedy, who, along with being Catholic had to overcome the taint of Irish blood, which for over a century had lived uncomfortably at the corner of despised and shunned. But lest we forget Kennedy, an insanely rich blue blood, cheated the electorate and was murdered before finishing what he started, so let’s not get all giddy about that anomaly.

So I ask my fellow compatriots of the Fourth Estate: Where exactly do these women, who viewed Hillary Clinton as their first and maybe only legitimate shot at the big prize, go after the smoke clears? Do they just sigh forlornly and forget that a one-time junior senator with fifteen minutes of experience shoplifted their girl’s long and painful road of political theater all leading up to this signature moment?

If things turned out differently, the same could have been said of Obama’s hardcore African American support, which watched in abject horror as the Clintons suddenly turned from sweet-talking sympathizers to blurting the same tired subtle racism of the past.

What is happening now inside the Democratic Party is literally historic. This amazing run of ’08 could very well be the final tolling bell for an African American or woman candidate in the presidential arena for a long time. Think about it: A weak sitting president lording over an unpopular war and a sinking economy representing an opposition party at its all-time low, tanking special elections in Mississippi and fighting off one criminal allegation after the next. This is the outsider’s one genuine shot, even if it is still a long shot, and I remain one who will believe it when I see it. But even I know that if not now, when?

The real question this fall is not about working class white men or swing states or the general unpopularity of the Republicans, it is how Obama manages to carry November in a party dominated by women if the women either stay home or turn to John McCain to free up a Hillary comeback in 2012?

This is not about politics now. It is not about parties or platforms. This is a culture war, plain and simple. It is about being unlucky in timing. If it were merely Obama, then there would have been a groundswell from the bottom up, as all good revolutions move societies. If it had been a woman, alone, fighting from the nether regions of American politics, it would have been the sole story of the early century. But there were two in a contest that requires only one representative. One of those representatives, whose constituency has waited forever to be heard on this kind of stage, will have to see The Dream die.

All these women, many of them, in fact, almost all of them, over sixty and showing up in record numbers, recall all too clearly a time when they were worth half of a man’s salary in the workplace, if they could work at all. They were told they were too limited in mental and emotional scope to be doctors, lacking in cerebral temperament to practice law, and far too weak to serve in the armed forces. Some even recall not being granted the right to vote at all or being able to emerge from the kitchen to make a stand, politically, socially, sexually, or professionally. And if they don’t remember, their mothers and grandmothers certainly told them all about it.

So what will the women do once the crusade’s shut down?

And how, in this season of discontent with the status quo, does The Change Candidate rally the troops enough to make history?

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Independence ’08

Aquarian Weekly 6/13/07 REALITY CHECK

INDEPENDENCE ’08

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. – John Quincy Adams

Al GoreNow that the Democratic-controlled Congress has scurried away with its collective tails tucked neatly between its legs and our Boy President has his hefty slaughter budget, perhaps the majority of the U.S. citizenry will see it clear to finally look outside the infinitely neutered two-party system for a chief executive. Polls indicate this is a distinct possibility. Of course, after the 2004 presidential election results anyone who views any poll as anything more than a hollow mind-screw can only blame themselves. But I dabble in politics here. And politics is silly with polls. Polls that mean even less than nothing 500 days from pay dirt with half the possible 2008 candidates still pussyfooting around Hollywood and the Bible Belt. Long way to go, buster. A long painful way.

But for the sake of fun and frolic, I give you the latest Gallup poll, which paints a split electorate: Republicans, 27 percent; Democrats, 34 percent; independents, 38 percent.

Anyone who has endured this nearly decade-long rave-clutter I send to press every week knows I’ve been ringing the “independent candidate” bell since 1980 when a young and smarmy jc headed to the voting booth and yanked a lever for John Anderson. Since, I have mostly voted for independents save a few vengeance votes thrown in to skew the bell curve. So, one might consider these recent poll numbers, however vacant they appear to my battered logic, bringing a measure of joy to a miserable shit like myself.

Nope.

It’s a fixed game. The Electoral College is not set up for mavericks, outsiders, and alternatives. It is a system. And by definition it has its limitations and rules and restrictions, making it nearly impossible, no, sorry – impossible for anyone to bring about a systemic shift. Pat Buchanan told me this in 2000, Ralph Nader in 2004, and in way, although not as directly or grumpily, the humorlessly ill-fated 1992 Ross Perot campaign, which garnered 19 percent of the popular vote and yet not one Electoral notch, resounded it to the rafters.

Hell. No matter the freak-show, we aim to plug it, flaunt it, and vote for it. If you can’t beat it, dismantle it.

Meanwhile, we choose from the predictable pot. A pot which could become even more crowded if Al Gore and Fred Thompson listen to the hue and cry.

Sure. The potential candidate is always sexier than the fifty we already have to choose from. It’s the back-up quarterback theory: At any level, the guy starting and stinking makes the unknown commodity on the bench a blooming rose. The problem nearly always arises when everyone is sadly reminded why the back-up is a back-up.

Despite spending much of my waking hours in the wretched and unforgiving summer and autumn of 2000 bribing, spitting and penning for the downfall of the vice president, I invite Al Gore to run. For nothing else but to see the Clinton Machine, his former champions, slice and dice him to gory shreds. What would James Carville do then? What kind of rift would it cause? What measure of contemptible flotsam would it produce? Oh, the joys of big-time party politics.

Gore is this year’s white elephant, a Ted Kennedy-type specter hovering over the proceedings, playing the polls and the media, keeping his name alive for the last remnants of his fifteen vainglorious Tinseltown minutes. And although he reeks of defeat and sore-loserism, he is also a delicious choice for those who felt cheated by the 2000 Florida shenanigans and a prime cut candidate for those who bleed Clinton but realize that a woman has no chance to carry the South or Midwest, especially the key battleground states that John Kerry so flippantly pissed away.

But it’s easier to be the pundit, the specter, the back-up, as long as you don’t have to produce. And all of us awake enough to recall his first go-round do not wish that on the most hated of our enemies. Gore is better on the sidelines with windbags like Newt Gingrich, who are pithy and witty and full of grit as long as they don’t have to win anything anymore. That train left the station without them many moons ago. Their tickets have been punched. Nostalgia is one thing, but civic victory is a twisted bitch mistress with fangs.

Once bitten…

Fred Thompson? He’s a tease. An actor. This is a plus for presidents, especially conservative Republican presidents, but only those in the game; governors of big states, not has-been dilatants who abandoned Washington crying about boredom. But according to Politico.com, Thompson has already decided to run and will likely announce within the month, grabbing him a huge chunk of the pro-life, anti-gay contingent not hoarded by religious zealots and human asterisks. This is especially bad news for Mitt Romney, who was already a few weeks from tattered, and worse news for anyone not singing Thompson’s right-wing tunes come primary season.

Remaining are the independent teases, which now either land on those of the expanding pack of Democrats and Republicans who could pull a clever Joe Lieberman ruse or this rather interesting Internet fad called Unity ’08.

Basically Unity ’08 surmises a combined Republican/Democrat hybrid ticket matching together all the tired over-hyped agendas of these party dinosaurs to make it seem new, like these laughable attempts of slop-house fast food chains whipping up the odd “health food” menu to keep the watch-dog wolves at bay. The only truly interesting odd-couple combo would be this proposed rabid anti-war/global warming Bloomberg/Hagel ticket, for no other reason but that NYC’s mayor is a billionaire four times over and would saturate the political landscape with so much white noise neither entrenched party could escape unscathed.

Hell. No matter the freak-show, we aim to plug it, flaunt it, and vote for it. If you can’t beat it, dismantle it. This has been our raison d’etre here, and we see no reason to stop.

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Bush – 1 Democrats – 0

Aquarian Weekly 3/7/07 REALITY CHECK

BUSH – 1 DEMOCRATS – 0

The president needs a check and a balance. This president hasn’t had one, hasn’t listened to others, including his top military commanders, and it’s about time he did. Harry ReidAnd Congress, I think, has the responsibility, not just the power, the responsibility to speak out and to change the course when you have a failing course, which is what we’re on in Iraq. – Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan “Meet The Press” 2/24/07

The public is saying, ‘We hired you to get out of Iraq – now figure it out.’– Tom Matzzie, Washington director of the anti-war group MoveOn.org

Yup. And yup.

Guess what?

Coming up on six weeks now since Nancy Pelosi dragged the kid-props up to the rotunda on Capitol Hill with her nifty gavel, and she is, along with dozens of her fellow Democrat freshman congressmen, officially full of shit. This shatters the Republican Revolution’s record set in 1995 by nine months, an amazing feat of deceit even by my low-ball standards. Somewhere Newt Gingrich is green with envy. He is no longer the king of shallow congressional promises. Long Live the Queen!

Why is Pelosi Speaker of the House? The Democrats control Congress. Why do they control Congress? The Republicans have stunk up the joint, spawned several deviants, and the Iraq occupation has turned out to be one of the most egregious embarrassments in U.S. military history. What did all of the Democrats promise if they took power? Make the president accountable and force his hand in continuing this strategic atrocity. Have they done this? No.

The collective reasoning? We tried, but there is too much opposition from Republicans and not enough support or votes or a scintilla of a sane idea or plan from us…yet. What a shocker! Campaign promises gone awry. Wow. I am stunned. Democrats weak, unorganized and ill prepared? Hard to fathom. Nothing is going to change? Holy Kick-Boxing Jesus you can knock me over with a feather.

At the time of this writing, Congress has given up trying to curtail this president’s murderous folly to spike troop numbers into an all-out civil war. This is bad news for voters (suckers) who sent these lying sons of bitches to do the work of the American people in the first place. As usual, the concept of voting has failed us, leaving the only solution promoted by this space for close to a decade: Ready your muskets.

As usual, the concept of voting has failed us, leaving the only solution promoted by this space for close to a decade: Ready your muskets.

Man, I never tire of writing that. It rolls off the tongue like “Be all you can be” or “Where’s the beef?” or “The greatest show on earth” and all the other hyped folderol that separates us from our money or limbs.

How much longer before we have a draft, kiddies? How much money is left in the coffers to dump into this suicide mission? How much more damage can the architects of this four-plus-year fiasco be allowed to cause?

Christ we ask a lot of questions. Maybe we should just accept this spectacular string of incompetence with a song and a smile.

Well, at least we finally have prominent employees of our government coming to grips with the brutal truth we’ve been tossing around here for years now: The mess in Iraq can no longer be rationally referred to as a war but an occupation. The “stay the course” policy, while genuinely hokey and broadly stupid, has registered nothing in the way of stabilization much less victory, and whatever becomes of the chaos and destruction we’ve ignited in Iraq if we abandon ship, it can no longer include American lives without defining it as cold-blooded murder.

Senator Levin’s impressive if not uneven appearance on “Meet The Press” notwithstanding, we still have but a flaccid non-binding resolution from the Democratic-controlled Congress and more cowardly filibustering from wounded Republicans, and our Boy President still gets to push his chips (military lives) onto the table blindly hopeful of dealing into an inside straight.

I would give anything to be on Jack Murtha’s payroll right now. Just so I could see the crimson begin to fill his pallid features. Oh, yes. It is an ugly sight, made uglier only by what is happening to Ted Kennedy’s exploding head.

“Iraq is going to be there – it’s just a question of when we get back to it,” announced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this week.

All righty, then. Why doesn’t Mr. Reid tell that to the soon-to-be slaughtered kids ushered off to this meat grinder? Iraq may still be there, but unfortunately they have no such guarantees.

And why don’t those gutless Republican jack-offs who keep blocking any debate on a diverse plan of attack join them. Mike Castle, Howard Coble, Tom Davis, John Duncan Jr., Phil English, Wayne Gilchrest, Bob Inglis, Sam Johnson, Ric Keller, Mark Steven Kirk, Steven LaTourette, Ron Paul, Tom Petri, Jim Ramstad, Fred Upton, Jim Walsh, among others are trading on more lives and tons of our tax dollars to save the obliterated legacy of this aborted presidency. All of these men should never see another term in the service of this country. And we will lend all of our undying support and meager resources to seeing them destroyed.

I know why George Bush has to remain steadfast. As stated ad nauseam in this space for years now, it’s an all or nothing proposition for him. Everyone with half a brain save Dick (keep your sunny side up) Cheney – insert your own joke here – believe things will turn out well if the clock were to buzz on this disaster. As long as Captain Shoo-In keeps it alive, no one can say he officially lost. But this is the very reason why the most nationally focused mid-term election since 1994 swept in a new party, a party that ran crazy on anti-war rhetoric, but has come up dismally short. And now, instead of some semblance of order, a lean on the never-ending madness of King George, we have more of the same.

“House Democrats met for an hour and a half behind closed doors trying to figure out what exactly the Democratic position on Iraq is,” says our pal, Tucker Carlson. “Democrats say, ‘we were elected on our position on Iraq’, but isn’t this the kind of thing they should have thought through as a group maybe before the election?”

And once again we say…yup.

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Lieberman/Independent

Aquarian Weekly 8/16/06 REALITY CHECK

THE LIEBERMAN EXPERIMENT How The Vanquished Shall Inherit Independence

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

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

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

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

Enter our hero.

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

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

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

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

To wit:

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

That’s what winning does, it breeds imitation.

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

So it absolutely must succeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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Dick Cheney Shooting

Aquarian Weekly 2/22/06 REALITY CHECK

DICK CHENEY – KING OF ALL MEDIA How The Powerful Can Easily Manipulate Information

Dick CheneyOkay, so the first shooting by a sitting vice president in over 200 years isn’t quite as exciting as Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton settling old scores with a pistol duel on the cliffs of Weehawken, New Jersey. We have a fat old bastard, probably drunk, definitely a shitty shot (now we know why all those military deferments during Viet Nam) peppering another possibly soused old fart while quail hunting. Rich dipshits hopping around with their cute little bird-shot guns blasting away at penned foul doesn’t have the same dramatic feel as two rankled patriots, in the prime of their forefather powers, pitched on the banks of the Hudson River, aiming cocked weapons at dawn over a blood feud of national politics and personal angst.

Hamilton didn’t make it. Dick Cheney’s victim, 78-year-old, Texas lawyer, and generous contributor to Republican coffers, Harry Whittington, most likely will. So it doesn’t even have the searing tragedy of a Massachusetts senator leaving a crocked date-rape candidate to drown in a lake.

It’s really not much of a story, even for a vice president: Big mistake by an idiot hunter. Happens all the time, but not enough. Besides, people get shot every few minutes in Texas. It’s state law.

The narrative gains momentum when it becomes painfully evident, once again, that the present administration, infamous for shutting out the press, making up convenient back-stories for obvious screw-ups, and clumsily handling of public relations after major blunders, decided it best to create a rousing farce out of an accident. At least that’s what it seemed to be, if you believe the snoozing White House press corps, who are still bitching about being jerked around like carney rubes.

I guess the lack of forthrightness on the part of the vice president might not look so bad if it weren’t surrounded by a litany of senate hearings and investigations regarding the administration’s mishandling of just about every possible event since it took the reigns in 2001.

The truth of it is the press, and vicariously the American people, were merely playthings for the Dick Cheney media manipulation machine, which began the second Whittington hit the ground. This vice president, like his president, doesn’t think we need to know whom our highest elected officials are shooting on weekends. It’s apparently none of our business, since we’re not paying his salary or this isn’t any kind of democracy we’ve got going here. In other words: Business as usual.

Cheney, as he has done countless times during his weak tenure as VP, disappears immediately following a crisis. He does not materialize before the authorities for 14 or so hours, not unlike Ted Kennedy missing 12 hours after he left a girl to die at Chappaquiddick. Had to get the story straight, or perhaps sober up. Whatever the reason, in the meantime, Cheney’s camp cherry-picks an old friend, and owner of the ranch where the shooting occurred, Katharine Armstrong, to contact the local paper and make a vaguely general announcement about an accident. An announcement, by the way, which initially blamed the poor bastard Cheney shot for being in the wrong spot, or some bizarrely concocted horseshit.

Next, it seemed, no one in Cheney’s employ thought it of any import to let the White House know the details for hours, which has caused more than a little rancor between the warring staffs of the vice president and his boss.

The following random series of misrepresentations, poorly presented to the laughably lazy and ill-informed White House press corps by White Press Secretary Scott McClellan starts to reek of cover-up. But there is no cover-up, just a spectacular parade of stupidity. In other words: Business as usual.

For days after the incident, McClellan appears to know less than nothing about facts or timelines or if the vice president had even bothered to talk to his president, which we find out days later, he did not. Then there is the complete silence by the shooter himself, who then decides to bare his soul to another handpicked media stooge on the home team FOXNEWS network.

Throughout the entire fiasco, the White House press corps blows a gasket, simply because they weren’t handed a story, as they usually are. “How could a local paper get the scoop over us? We’re entitled!” Bullshit. This is the same whining we heard from this clan over 30 years ago when a couple of cub reporters for the Washington Post were bringing down a president, while they gave the crooked bastard standing ovations on Air Force One.

Well, although some of it is hilarious, other parts tragic, and mostly confusing, the unfortunate incident bares out the alarmingly evasive behavior of this administration in its utter distain for the press, which, in turn, translates into its disdain for sharing anything with the American people, it’s liberal manipulation of reality, and the conspicuous transparency of its inability to simply function in any possible way, shape or form.

The Cheney shooting is sad and pathetic. Those who hate him will revel in it; those who defend him will make excuses for it, or in an ironic twist, pull the ol’ Clintonian: “We’re not going to belabor this minutia, but get back to the business of serving the American people”. Either way you carve it up, that is not our concern here.

What our concern is, and has always been, here at The Desk, is getting to the oft-ignored core of things. And the core of this thing is the way the Bush Administration has consistently displayed an unhinged quality to their governance, this repeated bungling of general tasks of executive branch duties, like protecting the borders, conducting a war, handling a crisis, both natural and political, and a faulty communication system that is at best sloppy, and at worst down-right dishonest.

Most of all, what the Cheney shooting incident and its aftermath frighteningly illustrates is the arrogance of power, and how an authoritative public official and the subject of a newsworthy event can create the story he wants the public to view, provide the news the way he wishes it to be perceived, and usher it along in a timeline of his choosing. This, my friends, is the very definition of fascism: “a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.”

I guess the lack of forthrightness on the part of the vice president might not look so bad if it weren’t surrounded by a litany of senate hearings and investigations regarding the administration’s mishandling of just about every possible event since it took the reigns in 2001.

In other words: Business as usual.

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The Iraq Papers Volume V

Aquarian Weekly 12/28/05 REALITY CHECK

The Iraq Papers Part VINVISIBLE & PARALYZEDHow The Democrats Are Unable To Cash In On Tragedy

Hillary ClintonThe following is the final of five segments tying together the loose ends of a fantastic load of misinformation, propaganda, media hype and revisionist history surrounding what is now being dubbed the worst war effort in the 229 years of this republic. Today we wonder where the hell is America’s “other” political party as the Republicans lay waste to the Iraq Situation? What is their plan for sparking debate and changing the direction? Where is the loyal opposition in a system fixed to rely on only two? And the obligatory – What the hell is going on here?

Do you know what the biggest dilemma in the Iraq War is – aside from the endless murder and criminal lack of planning of course: There is no alternative to the madness. And do you know why? We have a two-party system, and one of those parties is crippled by inertia and has shown no backbone by parading weak candidates offering limp rebuttals and providing nothing in the way of a suitable opposing voice. This is the point of democracy, especially in time of war. And not since John Adams’ poorly fabricated Alien Sedition Acts of 1798 has political dissent been so patently abused in this country. Any intelligent, well-informed dink can expect blind jingoistic tripe from the citizens of a wounded nation, but when perpetuated by a dumbstruck press and a worthless minority party in Washington things can go frightfully awry.

Robert Kennedy was the last legitimate anti-war candidate this nation has produced. George McGovern doesn’t count. He never counted, which is why the Nixon people did cartwheels when he emerged as an opponent in ’72, four years after RFK was gunned down at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, and was summarily whipped like a redheaded stepchild. Kennedy had a chance to stop the Viet Nam War, because he helped form it. But we’ll never know. And chances are pretty good that had Howard Dean, the only anti-war candidate beside Ralph Nader in 2004, had not imploded in Internet illusions and well-documented crimson-faced hysteria he would have likely been beaten worse than John Kerry.

But at least Dean spoke out against the war. He had no real plan, but he wasn’t “on the fence” or talking about “voting for before he voted against” or some other Johnnie Cochranesque flimflammery. So the Democrats, having been dispatched as the party of the futilely weak and bewildered, appointed Dean its chairman. But aside from a “Daily Show” appearance and the odd fundraiser speech, where the hell is he? Even with John Murtha’s call for an exit strategy, there has been little to no response from Capital Hill Democrats.

Jesus, let’s completely hand the government over to the Saudi monarchy and end all suspicion.

Oh, and Ted Kennedy doesn’t count either. He counts less than McGovern ever did. Kennedy is a murderer and lying sack of pigeon shit and he should be in prison. The fact that he’s allowed to keep a job, any job, in a freethinking society speaks volumes about the state of Massachusetts’s government and can best explain why the 2004 Kerry presidential campaign was run like a Marx Brothers skit.

Fundamentally, no one in three years has stepped up to strongly oppose this war, or offer alternative solutions. Mainly because nearly every Democrat voted for it, and as stated in Part One of our series, they were all correct in doing so. It was a UN decree defied by a madman and things had come to a head. A decade of threats was useless and America wanted blood. Congress more or less exists to enact the will of the people. Sometimes that will is misguided and stupid, but just the same, it’s in the job description. But accusing members of congress for bandwagon jumping is too easy. Instead we accuse them of bowing to fear. And because of that fear they have been George W. Bush’s bitches for too long and its time to suck it up.

And by sucking it up nobody means sending Hillary Clinton to the slaughter. This would be considered merely sucking. I don’t care how much money this woman has, she is a liberal and has a vagina and will not win a single southern or mid-western state, and may even lose key states Kerry barely carried. Has no one in the Democratic Party paid attention to voting results the past few years? Liberal? Woman? Why don’t they send Osama bin Laden’s corpse to New Hampshire? Couldn’t be any worse.

Look, I never vote Democrat or Republican, and I probably won’t even join the charade in 2008, but realistically, if the Republicans are left in charge for another half-decade, you might as well ready your muskets. Seriously. Hillary Clinton? She’s not even anti-war. She’s spent so much time warming up her moderate rhetoric she’s not sure what the hell she is. Most importantly Dean hates her guts and he runs the party. So what will come of this shit, another droning fop from the senate? Jesus, let’s completely hand the government over to the Saudi monarchy and end all suspicion.

All right, so forget the Hillary nightmare for a moment and get back to reality. I beg Democrats, when one of you with enough balls finally does come out to make noise like Senators Chuck Schumer or Joe Biden, please stop saying this whole thing is as bad as Viet Nam. It’s just sad and wrong. It’s like people calling Bush a Nazi or writing that Joe McCarthy was a hero. Leave the shock value to Hip Hop and get down to concepts we can use.

Factoring in the cost of living and time alone, Viet Nam is Numero Uno. Viet Nam was long. Very long. Scary long. It was so long it’s hard to effectively calculate without a NASA brain. It was also far more nonsensical strategically and politically. The very fact that this country, far more financially solvent and powerful in the world arena then, quibbled over a patch of land in South East Asia would be incredibly hilarious if it weren’t tragically pathetic and horribly criminal. Fear and stupidity got us in, and ill-planning and badly run planning bogged us down and sent us home bloody, fractured, embarrassed losers.

Sound familiar?

This is the only parallel between the Iraq War and the Viet Nam conflict, which wasn’t even technically a war, since it was never sanctioned legally by congress. It likely killed one president and crippled two more. This thing here while equally born of fear and stupidity and as badly planned and executed needs much more time and death and money and riots to make the grade. This war has only linked two presidents, who happened to be related, but will only sink one.

Which brings us illogically back to the Democrats, who, as a group, seem horribly incapable of mounting a challenge. And it will mean everything this time, because if the house and/or senate can be divided politically, there will be higher levels of investigations and trials and maybe even a nifty impeachment again. Yippee!

This makes my job fun.

But as far as ending any war, I think not.

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