Search Results for: Afghanistan

TIME WARP‏

Aquarian Weekly
6/25/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

TIME WARP
The Never-Ending Fancy Shit Show That Is Iraq

I leave the country for seven days and end up in a fucking time warp?

Or did I misread this latest madness on getting “involved” with Iraq again, as if that is an option. Let’s face the hideous fact that this has been an abject clusterfuck since we recognized Iraq as a sovereign nation in 1930 and began screwing around with it through secret CIA coups around 1960, which later culminated with one of those fancy “puppet regime” deals three years later.gplaio

From then on the CIA was all-in. Horrifying lowlights include the 1980s U.S. sale of chemical and biological weapons, viruses and bacteria along with anthrax and bubonic plague to Iraq to fend off the Iranian revolution, which was the predictable result of another of our fancy puppet dictators. This is where you get that ironically bile-inducing photo of a smiling Donald Rumsfeld shaking the hand of brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein in 1983 as part of our fancy “special envoy” assignment. Later, of course, it would be Rumsfeld, as Secretary of Defense – second in disaster only to the cruel joke that was Robert McNamara, architect of the fancy institutional slaughterhouse known as Viet Nam – who so bungled the fancy 2003 Iraq campaign that it has landed us back here in this weird redux of doom.

Lest we forget George H. W. Bush (an ex CIA man, of course), who as president in 1990 embroiled this country in the fancy oil-centric farce known as Desert Storm to curtail the monster we helped to create, which later, as we well know, led to the Osama bin Laden (another monster we helped to create to kick the Russians out of Afghanistan) fatwa against the United States (amongst other silly Islamic-based nonsense), that culminated in the bombings of an American embassy in Africa, the USS Cole and finally 9/11. Then baby Bush came along, bringing with him the crusty idiots who fucked this thing up in the first place (aka Dick Cheney and the aforementioned war criminal Rumsfeld) to invade Iraq with falsified intelligence and other badly planned fancy goofs.

Let us now take a moment to address our current president, who needs to know, as he contemplates another fancy run on this religious/cultural desert sink-hole, that he is only president because Hillary Clinton voted to give G.W. Bush a blank check to commit this foreign policy atrocity in 2003, and that despite his unbelievable streak of one stumblebum domestic folly after another lately, his current policy of not listening to war-mongering cretins, who never wear a uniform but feel the need to send us into suicide missions for their own tiny-penis reasoning, is the only thing keeping him in the “not-awful” column around here.

It goes without saying that when it comes to Iraq, enough is enough.

Like Syria should be Russia’s problem, so then is Iraq Iran’s problem, and maybe Ronald Reagan’s original theory to use Iraq as a fulcrum against its insane neighbor, something the two succeeding Republican presidents seemed oblivious of, is the best plan of action.

Right now the militant group, something called the Grand Poobah Liberation Army of Iraq and Oates, is wreaking havoc with the crack military army we trained to keep that part of crazy land from coming apart (something again we needlessly instigated, maintaining our putrid half-century of fancy operations). This has excited all the has-been brain farts that created this feces to write op-ed pieces in driveling rags like the Wall Street Journal to call for more fanciness. It’s hard to blame Cheney, though. This latest nonsense is his and history will record his fancy goof and that scares him, because Cheney believes in permanent retributions like hell and he knows he’s going there and the best thing he can do is hope that the blood stain won’t be on his children, like some kind of fancy Biblical curse.

Lord knows a decade-plus and trillions of American money and gallons of our blood, is not enough to control the uncontrollable. But just as in 2003, this fancy aggression argument is made with no idea how Iraq works or has worked for centuries.

It goes without saying that when it comes to Iraq, enough is enough.

This is tribal warfare between Sunnis and Shiites and should remain so, as it will remain so forever. Long after all of us our gone and more of our children’s children will return from some part of oil-land with key limbs missing, there will still be Sunnis and Shiites, and they will be killing each other over holy land or Allah or specific pant styles and it won’t make a damn difference if we are tough or dithering or arrogant or determined or support Israel or continue to blithely ignore the atrocities of Saudi Arabia or use solar power or drill-baby-drill. This is what goes on and we should seriously, after decades if not centuries of evidence, finally get the fuck out of it.

We are so naïve and have been for years (including myself, who stupidly felt that unfinished fancy business started by one Bush meant it needed to be dealt with by another one or it could come back to bite us) in the idea that we can “control” or “abate” or “defend” this infinite bloodletting. It is stupid and worse still insane and even the mere thought of putting more lives or money at risk for it is so completely off-the-charts foolhardy that it defies further comment.

As a matter of prediction; once these half-assed militants get near the real shit, say, Bagdad, where the Shiites will then be asked to defend their own, instead of indefensible desert outposts posing as “cities, (something the mighty U.S. Army could barely accomplish) then it will be bye-bye Sunni insurrection.

Bye-bye

Something the United States should finally be saying to Iraq for good.

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VA SCANDAL: OUR IMPRINT, OUR LEGACY, OUR SIN‏

Aquarian Weekly
5/28/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

VA SCANDAL: OUR IMPRINT, OUR LEGACY, OUR SIN

One can conceive, even fathom something as horrifying as the Veteran’s Administration systematically allowing dozens of wounded soldiers to die and then scramble to cover it up, just as easily as one can conceive and even fathom the bizarrely ritualistic lies, deceit and ideological idiocy that put them there in the first place. There is the din of bureaucracy, money, ineptitude, and plain human nature to ignore “problems” of this magnitude when it is so overwhelming it reaches Biblical proportions. The question before us is why is it that so many dubiously opaque crises/scandals seem to be pored over with obsessive myopia, but this one, for decades, has been shrugged with a collective shoulder.Memorial-Day-AP75

Over two administrations now, both Republican and Democrat, there have been revelations of egregious treatment of veterans by our system; the first, the woeful conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital in 2007 and now these new murderous allegations of the VA Health Care System in Arizona. Never mind the known troubles with such institutions since WWII well into the 1970’s, depicted graphically in memoirs by veterans of several wars too numerous to recount here. Yet, despite some oversight and investigations that receives a third if not less of the media coverage and overall slanderous rhetoric of lesser “crimes”, these fail to resonate with the American public, no matter what ideological line one inhabits. And while there is bi-partisan rage and lip-service condemnation from two presidents, this abomination, as damaging to whatever withering tatter of a soul is left of this nation as one can imagine, we see none of the hyperbolic outrage given to the ACA or the IRS scandal or this obsessive nonsense surrounding the Benghazi embassy attack.

Why?

Is it because it involves the military and the Pentagon; and these have been arguably the most untouchable monoliths of our bloated and mostly ineffectual federal government? Why is it that it takes about five minutes of knee-jerk debate and a few flimsy pieces of evidence or bent reasoning to stumble headlong into war; flushing billions upon trillions of our money on needless slaughter from the jungles of Viet Nam to the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq, but when it comes to dealing with its most heinous realities, that our youth has been cut down, mutilated and massacred, we meander along endless lines of time?

This is how big our Military Industrial Complex has become; a gorging monster of bureaucracy that consumes up to 19 percent of our national budget, nearly as much as the much-ballyhooed entitlements, Social Security (24 percent), or the combined spending for Medicare and Medicaid (22 percent). According to a Peter G. Peterson Foundation study published in April of this year, the U.S. defense budget dwarfs those of ballpark economic stalwarts combined; China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, UK, Germany, Japan and India respectively at $607 billion to our stupefying $640 billion. And several studies have shown, and much of it pointed out in congress during last year’s sequester debates, that a healthy dose of it is either outdated or unnecessary.

Yet no one blinks an eye.

Why is this self-contained, hardly ever dissected monstrosity spread around the globe like a bottomless money-pit never put up for discussion by anyone on either side of the political aisle when seriously deciding the fate of the national debt or outlandish deficits or other well-tread political footballs?

How did the denizens of defense, this sub-cultured, fund-gobbling cottage industry, become so untouchable that it barely gets a whisper and people run from it like gun laws?

Why is it that it takes about five minutes of knee-jerk debate and a few flimsy pieces of evidence or bent reasoning to stumble headlong into war… but when it comes to dealing with its most heinous realities, that our youth has been cut down, mutilated and massacred, we meander along endless lines of time?

This VA disaster, a legitimate scandal of epic proportions and an a pox on our American ideals, whatever pile of streaming feces that emerges from, should be front and center above all else. What kind of putrid nation that waxes poetic at every nauseating turn about “supporting our troops” and respecting and thanking our fallen for “protecting our freedoms” on the eve of Memorial Day allows this to happen without gutting the whole damn thing piece by piece?

The Military Industrial Complex is too big to fail or god forbid too expansive to even approach with a critical eye; and so the victims of its gorging mass of inhuman machinery get swept under the rug. We should be ashamed that these people, and they are people as they were people when they were so flippantly referred to as “troops”, (a more dehumanizing term is hard to find), are even languishing in these half-assed institutions, needing the kind of one-on-one care rarely afforded to them, while waiting for treatment as if someone with a head cold.

Everyone and everything is to blame for this. Forget merely firing directors and tossing more shit on congress and the president; we the people should look ourselves in the mirror as we continue to go about our business and complain about health care costs and standards of living and taxes and regulations and drugs and civil rights as neighbors and sons and daughters and friends continuously get shipped off to a nihilistic never-land to be carved up in order to keep this monster fat and happy.

After the morally bankrupt nightmare that was Viet Nam and all the pathetic fuck-all that followed, we still find ourselves whistling past a very real and lasting graveyard that has out names on it; our legacy, our sick obsession with war.

Our sin.

This is ours.

We own it.

For good.

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PRELUDE TO IRRELEVANCE

Aquarian Weekly
2/5/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

PRELUDE TO IRRELEVANCE
State of the Union Turns into Beginning of the End For President & Congress

The horror. The horror.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

That was a weird State of the Union address.

I’ve been watching these things since I was a kid, a curious little brat wondering what’s with all this presidency and congress, followed by wasted time covering and/or commenting on them since the late 80s’, and I have to be honest, that was some bizarre shit.

Here we have a president basically if not identically rolling out last year’s agenda (and the one before that and probably, don’t quite recall, but likely the one before that) with the same distant aplomb as is his wont, delivered to a vacuous body of haircuts, power ties, jewelry, expensive shoes and scrap-paper smiles that will most assuredly do with it what it has done for five years…nothing.

Oh, there were the obligatory claps and smiles, harrumphs and frowns, demands and asides, and, as usual, all of it seeming like pantomime; this strange scene from a Fellini film where no one is whom they claim to be because we’re not sure, nor or they, that they may be mere apparitions or perhaps something the auteur has put there to fuck with our heads. But this time the whole affair appeared more funereal, an ocular dirge worthy of requiem, accompanied by images of reptiles slithering through rotted human skulls.

Weird.

The orator, Barack Obama, is two steps from lame-duck with a massive law strung around his neck, and the parts of it that’s working for a minuscule portion of the electorate has does nothing to mitigate its disaster. There is not a thing the president can say now or tomorrow, next week or next year that is going to amount to a wit, because even if he were as tyrannical as his ham-fisted detractors childishly wail, he is faced with the most inert congress in the history of this republic. Despite dominating the political landscape by gaining two of the most impressive electoral victories for a Democratic candidate in two generations, Joe Cool appears as if he is a custodian, or worse, a bystander to history.

obama_state_union_2013
Obama sounds done because he is done. Change time, if there ever was one, is now over. That is unless the Democrats can slyly do what the Republicans pulled off for the remaining seven years of G.W. Bush’s train-wreck, painting him as a “defender of our sovereignty” after he idly stood watch over the horrors of 9/11. Shit, if anyone can sweep that nightmare under the rug, then it should be no problem making people forget the monstrosity of the AFA.

But this charade has a shelf life and it has come due. And the funny thing is Obama has known this since his second inauguration, when he began sounding the siren for “going it alone”. Of course this was no clairvoyant act of political genius. You’d have to be completely brain dead to expect this congress to allow anymore big stuff after the tactics of Nancy Pelosi’s 111th addition and the advent of this pestering joke of a TEA Party that works for a government it derides at every turn and then sits on its hands to prove ideological points in what amounts to kindergarten hissy fits.

What Obama does have going for him is that he is still president for the next three years and what he counted on during this Mad Hatter-esque showcase is congress being the most reviled body this nation has ever known; its approval ratings dipping weekly into single digits, most of it pockmarked with clownish machinations staged for TV or committees filmed on TV or cable news sideshows on TV. Its members have now found it so tiresome to bludgeon this domestically ineffectual president they have taken to beating relentlessly on each other.

No less than four different Republicans gave rebuttals to this death rattle; the obligatory doe-eyed woman rolled out to quell more craziness from queer dinosaurs like Mike Huckabee, another woman, this time an obligatory Hispanic, the TEA Party guy cranking up his obligatory rant on “tyranny”, and Rand Paul, who, well…is the obligatory Paul who blazes his own path.

One gets the feeling that with the senate up for grabs this November, the Republicans for the third such election cycle will fuck it up with the same tired quasi-religious, misogynistic bigotry that screws the party every time. Already you have jackasses threatening to throw cub reporters off the balcony of the capital rotunda. You can’t make this crap up.

And so the president will extend his damaged usefulness beyond this body of the inept with the executive order, a fancy bit of marksmanship used by every president except William Henry Harrison, and mainly because he croaked shortly after being sworn in. Despite being accused of abusing this nugget by sub-mentals, Obama, as this space has argued and continues to argue, is so dispassionate about executive comings and goings that he has signed less executive orders in his first five years in office than any president since Grover Cleveland, and remember Cleveland had to span his out over half a decade since he served non-consecutive terms.

At 167 such orders, his is a whopping thirty behind G.W. Bush at 197 in his first five years and Clinton at 238, which means, and I think this doom-struck address pretty much presumed, he has some ground to make up.

Joe Cool appears as if he is a custodian, or worse, a bystander to history.

But beyond the normal hoary political miasma, this annual lament was made complete by two of the most heinous uses of unfortunates to plug talking points this reporter has seen in some time, which effectively plunged the wretched thing to such depths it is hard to not offend by merely broaching them. I am speaking of the president’s parading of a mutilated veteran of 10 duties to the desert abattoir called Afghanistan for a painfully long standing ovation that should have stood as a warning against the brutal vagaries of our 21st century lust for perpetual war instead of a living metaphor for working our way through hard times and the down-syndrome child so callously offered up as some kind of right-wing talisman during the official Republican rebuttal.

The horror. The horror.

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Reality Check

THE CLASSICS

The top ten all-time Reality Check columns as determined by volume of mail or immediate feedback by the hearty members of the indomitable Check Group.

THE 9/11 SERIES

This five-part commentary is now lauded among readers as some of jc’s finest columns in the wake of the events of 9/11. Two of these brutally honest pieces were included in the charity compendeum, “Glory: A Nation’s Spirit Defeats the Attack on America.” (2001)

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EDWARD J. SNOWDEN & GLENN GREENWALD: HACKING INTO HYPOCRISY

Aquarian Weekly
6/19/13
REALITY CHECK
James Campion

EDWARD J. SNOWDEN & GLENN GREENWALD: HACKING INTO HYPOCRISY?

If there is one thing that this space has tried to illustrate for the past 16 years is that hypocrites are not the exclusive property of ideological or political affiliation. In the past weeks, as we have been inundated by a phalanx of stories depicting with grand detail one fuck up after the other from the current administration, which whisked into Washington five years ago on a transparent change in government delusion, here come hordes of congressman like Rand Paul (threatening to take the NSA to the Supreme Court after he dismissed the same body as meaningless following the landmark Affordable Care Act ruling) and senators like Lindsey Graham (supporting the government’s spying on citizens’ phone and e-mail records while arguing that gun background checks are an invasion of privacy). It is a wonder you vote.
snowden
I have never seriously voted. Mostly, I backed candidates with no chance to win as a protest against two representatives from massive corporate-backed political parties offering nothing approaching an original thought or concept. Then my mortal enemy, Al Gore decided he needed to be president, so I all-but worked with the Bush campaign to smear his sorry ass back to Tennessee only to watch the dumb-struck asshole who bested him make a mockery of governance for eight long years. Then I decided to vote for Barack Obama, as a member of my own generation in protest against the annoyingly overrated Boomer dipshits who preceded him, only to be once again stuck with another lost idiot acting as if he just woke up and someone told him he was president.

But my voting record and vast disappointment with politics aside, there never appears to be anyone truly minding the store, so it’s back to figuring out exactly how the shit-house will go down this time.

This week the latest in a long line of computer geeks given access to a spectacularly massive cadre of sensitive national security files, Edward J. Snowden has clearly represented why neither political party will ever have the answers needed to quell the rapacious need for the American people to appear free while feeling safe, or other such fairy tales.

Okay, so you would have to be completely in the tank for the sorry butt end of whatever remains of a national Right Wing movement in this country not to have noticed that for two congresses now Republicans have provided nothing in the way of serious legislative rebuttal to what they deem as “socialist, anti-American and freedom-threatening policies”. In place of doing its job, the GOP-controlled congress decided to throw feces against the wall and screech like monkeys to make the Democratic president look ineffectual.

This worked great. He was re-elected by the greatest margin a member of his party tallied to secure the presidency since Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964. I was two at the time. I was 50 last November. That is a long run with no Democratic dominance at the executive level. And you know what; it ain’t gonna end soon. Not with the current demographics of the country pointing Left and an entire generation of young people fairly certain the majority of the Republican platform is religiously-based nihilistic bigotry.

Snowden’s anti Big Brother Libertarian roots are only outdone by Glenn Greenwald’s ultra-radical attempts at dismantling the American myth.

On the heels of this we have Mr. Snowden, a 29 year-old Booz Allen Hamilton employee (contractor to the National Security Agency) and chronicled supporter of Ron Paul’s anti-government brigade, leaking classified top-secret material to a foreign newspaper. As another quick aside, lord knows the sub-contractor element is not lost on me, the near victim of many hoaxes perpetuated by “businesses” I thought I was hiring to do jobs, only to find they merely fobbed it off to some other dinks, whose only care to the completion of said job was to not get caught screwing up, which in my case, they most assuredly did.

Snowden’s motivations for leaking vital defense intelligence on a lark are best framed by the reporter who broke the story, Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald told the NY Times this week that his infamous source for the British paper, The Guardian scoop “knew that in order for someone to do this story the way it had to be done he had to be in an adversarial posture vis-a-vis the U.S. government.”

Snowden, an “ex-CIA” (once CIA always CIA – ask Lee Harvey Oswald and George H.W. Bush) who claims after making a living working in the business of citizen surveillance suddenly found Jesus and decided this was crazy, wanted to join the “feces tossing task force” and make nasty for what could tactfully be described as a beleaguered president. However, Greenwald’s analysis mirrors the very argument for Daniel Ellsberg’s outing of the gargantuan lies the U.S. government laid on the American public for over a decade of unsanctioned mass murder in Viet Nam.

You see, although it appears as if Snowden is just a radicalized version of say Mitch McConnell, whose failed attempt at turning his senatorial position into the home-base for making Obama a one-term president, there is something far more interesting. Both Snowden and his non de plume Greenwald are Ellsberg worshippers (full disclosure, so is the author). Moreover, Snowden reportedly met directly with the nation’s most cherished whistleblower through documentarian, Laura Poitras this past January.

Snowden’s anti Big Brother Libertarian roots are only outdone by Glenn Greenwald’s ultra-radical attempts at dismantling the American myth. Greenwald’s current post at The Guardian has given the ex-litigator and award-winning blogger legitimate reporter contacts and sources, many of which were used to reveal the “secret wars” both hot and cold the U.S. has been running since 9/11, including the Dick Cheney/Karl Rove/Scooter Libby outing of a CIA agent in 2005.

Greenwald, an ex-patriot forced to live in Rio De Janeiro with his Brazilian partner because of discrimination against same-sex marriage, which consequently disallows similar rights of citizenship to heterosexual couples, has personal as well as ideological issues with the United States government of which he wrote in the preface to his wonderfully cynical 2006 book, How Would a Patriot Act, “the fact that this seizure of ever-expanding presidential power is largely justified through endless, rank fear-mongering—fear of terrorists, specifically—means that not only our system of government is radically changing, but so, too, are our national character, our national identity, and what it means to be American.”

The Snowden/Greenwald partnership in bi-partisan derision for the flimsy foundations of this republic has come at a crucial time, as new and old neo-con voices begin to bellow about dragging the U.S. into another bloody quagmire in Syria – trumped by ex-president, Democrat Bill Clinton and former presidential candidate, Republican John McCain.

Killer drones, Gitmo, an endless war in Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, systemic discrimination and the rank hypocrisy of our times, all neatly wrapped up in one single act of blessed conceit by pissed-off people with a pen.

That is something I can finally vote for.

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How I Learned To Stop Worrying & The Love The Shield Law

Aquarian Weekly
5/29/13
REALITY CHECK
James Campion

Quit while you’re ahead. – Carl Bernstein

holderJust received notice from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that I am a criminal.
Well, could be a criminal. Aim to be a criminal? Not sure. The statute of limitations must be up on this puppy from 10/10/01 — KASBAH ROCKING:
“Right now a Columbian refugee is having dinner with an overtly effeminate Taliban gunrunner in a quaint bistro on the outskirts of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. They’re discussing the coming ski season and desert fall fashions. Drinks are flowing and names are innocently exchanged. Every witty aside by the young gunrunner is met with hearty laughter, as a hidden tape recorder hums inside the Columbian’s left breast pocket.

By morning the gunrunner will be missing. Word will spread through the sequestered Taliban offices, memos will be sent, and maybe a few more soldiers will defect to the Northern Alliance. But after a few days, there will be no mention of him. When his family comes calling, they will be sent to a briefing, and perhaps, also turn up missing.

A few days later maps and phone records will mysteriously disappear. There will be internal arguments and stepped-up security. Rankled officials will call for strip searches, and someone might be shot for treason. Word will spread that two or three training camp security personnel didn’t show up for work that morning, and relative innocents will be tortured. The air of paranoia will thicken and the stench will spread quickly.

And what of the friendly Columbian gentlemen?

He will be enjoying a weekend in Paris by Halloween, and several other well-versed, highly cash-motivated ex-cons will take his place long before he boards the airplane.”

Oh, yes; those were heady times; mere weeks after 9/11 when reporters were afraid to print such nonsense, but the Reality Check News & Information Desk was on duty. Now, it seems, the FBI, to which we warned only two weeks ago, has gone Gestapo on us here at the Fourth Estate; The Government Will Decide The Difference Between Good Investigative Journalism and Treason.

By the mere exercise of excelling at my job, (to which I have avoided for lo these many years since my journalism professor at Trenton State wanted to know why I chose TV Guide for the semester’s internship) I stand accused by a system I am sworn to watchdog like the Dairy Council sitting on the board of review at the FDA and claiming that milk is good for the bones of a human over five months old when all of the science argues against it. Yeah, like that.
These are strange times to be a journalist, especially one on the fringes like myself and Geraldo Rivera, who once told me over several cocktails, and I assume from his manic stuttering and distracted blinking, a dangerous amount of cocaine that if one were to really think about it, what passes for journalism is at best a crime.

Ah, yes, but a threat to national security?

The nation’s greatest journalist, Mark Twain once wrote to a friend in 1880; “Journalism is the one solitary respectable profession which honors theft (when committed in the pecuniary interest of a journal) & admires the thief….However, these same journals combat despicable crimes quite valiantly–when committed in other quarters.”

The nation’s greatest journalist, Mark Twain once wrote to a friend in 1880; “Journalism is the one solitary respectable profession which honors theft (when committed in the pecuniary interest of a journal) & admires the thief….However, these same journals combat despicable crimes quite valiantly–when committed in other quarters.”

Or as investigative journalist extraordinaire, Carl Bernstein once imparted to me in the press box at Shea Stadium during Game 3 of the 2000 World Series, “Quite while you’re ahead.” I had asked him about the future of investigative journalism, such as it is beyond TMZ, which at the turn of the century had yet to exist but nonetheless had forefathers of wonderful schlock like Inside Edition or The Drudge Report. Oh, how we laughed.

Bernstein knew a few things, more so than his partner in the greatest of all scoops, The Watergate Scandal, which so many today wish would crop up again, so they can say they were there, but they would be wrong, because for journalists there was only one “there” there and it was that steamy night in D.C. when it all went wrong for Dick Nixon. Lately Bob Woodward has been feeling the heat from the current White House. Maybe he’s no longer welcome at Pennsylvania Avenue, even with a Democrat in there.

But Woodward, like Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan is a registered Republican, although he did not work for Ronald Reagan like Noonan did or write seventeen books feeding into the myths of Reagan. None of this could be helped, because Noonan is an idiot, and I am not writing this to be mean or biting, she has an obvious mental disability, and if they allow her to speak anymore on Meet The Press THAT would be criminal.

Speaking of long-running “news” shows, I once received a fax here at The Desk from David Westin, then president of ABC NEWS, when the great Ted Koppel was sent packing to make room for some Hollywood bullshit, to which I sent this response and then later to press (THE RAPING OF ABC NEWS — 3/13/02): “Trouble is news doesn’t bring the big numbers anymore, otherwise how could anyone explain these infinite obsessions with Monica Lewinsky, O.J. Simpson and Jennifer Anniston? Maybe you can convince Koppel to chair a panel show where inbreeds beat each other with tire irons or maybe he can join degenerate imbecilic couples on blind dates and report on the wacky results?”

So nobody understands more than I that aside from pedophiles and terrorists, journalists are the most reviled of groups. I expect backlash to hearing incessantly and with little humor that you are not what mommy told you, but criminal? Not sure that beats the hell out of being hunted, as in the immediate wake of 9/11 when I sent to press this observation on the anthrax/journalist scare (CASUALTIES OF WAR — 11/7/01): “Most of these people are frightened now. You have to wear rubber gloves just to deliver pizza at the New York Times and everyone at the GE building are issued gasmasks and need four kinds of ID to get on the main floor of the NBC Nightly News.”

There were tougher times to be a journalist, like during the opening months of prohibition when giants in the business like H.L. Mencken would storm through Baltimore newsrooms flailing his arms about like a spastic ape spitting pistachio shells at secretaries. No booze is worse than being labeled a criminal by the FBI, believe me. Take me down, but leave the gin.

So now I hear they’re discussing passing another goddamn law called the Shield Law, which will officially grant the First Amendment to those whose livelihoods depend on it.

Shit, it’s more than freedom for some of us. It’s, you know, definition. Like congressmen wearing flag pins.

Not all obsessions need a symbol, bub.

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Reality Check

THE CLASSICS

The top ten all-time Reality Check columns as determined by volume of mail or immediate feedback by the hearty members of the indomitable Check Group.

THE 9/11 SERIES

This five-part commentary is now lauded among readers as some of jc’s finest columns in the wake of the events of 9/11. Two of these brutally honest pieces were included in the charity compendeum, “Glory: A Nation’s Spirit Defeats the Attack on America.” (2001)

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The Summer of Obama

Aquarian Weekly 6/20/12 REALITY CHECK

THE SUMMER OF OBAMA

A national political campaign is better than the best circus, with a mass baptism and couple of hangings thrown in. – H.L. Mencken

The stomp outweighs the gavel where persecution reigns. – Marquis De Sade’s aid-de-campe

With the notable exception of 2008, when there was no one left to defend or explain the abysmal eight years of George W. Bush, all election seasons are about the incumbent — his economy, his international standing, his policies, his leadership, his likeability and the confidence in the citizenry to either award him another four years or be so completely frightened or apathetic about his opponent, the choice is down to the lesser of two evils. Outside influences like hostages or a complete unforeseen economic meltdown and/or the random “October Surprise” not withstanding, that’s pretty much it. And in the cycles of an election season, none is crueler than summer. The best and the brightest, strong incumbents like Roosevelt or Reagan or even Nixon, have felt the sting of summer polls, dips in voter confidence, et al. But for the shaky ones, like the one we have now, the summer can be the death knell.

Barack ObamaIt’s time for those in the White House to get real about how they plan on defending this presidency. The hackneyed early pounding of challenger Mitt Romney by what appears to be a close-your-eyes-and-aim-a-dart strategy at the Barack Obama re-election committee has been weak and mostly ineffectual — and not because Romney isn’t one of the worst candidates in recent memory. Hell, a good deal of the underground element of his party never wanted him. I have yet to hear a single Republican or conservative friend or colleague — as long as they are not in the employ of the GOP — say anything positive about their candidate, except that he isn’t Barack Obama. Also, these same types who keep writing me missives that begin with “Beware the TEA Party” have yet to explain how the hell this fat-cat establishment stooge is their representative after six months of a long Republican primary.

No, Romney stinks, just like John Kerry stunk the last time we had a weak incumbent ready to be had. Kerry’s stench didn’t fully reveal itself until September. That’s about when the “I’m not Obama” thing will wear thing for Romney. He had better be about something and have a semblance of an alternative vision, because if he has to survive on cult of personality or tangible elements, he is toast. But in the summer of an election year when the warts of a presidency are out in full force, it’s all about The Man. And for Joe Cool, there are warts.

This economy, although rightly argued by the White House as markedly better than it was when Obama took office (Dow at 7,500 and the private sector losing 800,000 jobs monthly), it is hardly a scintilla of what was projected or even promised by his crack economic team of Wall St. punks and Clinton-era has-beens. The massive stimulus was hijacked by liberal lions in the congress — a congress that was controlled for four years, two under the president, before being ousted in 2010 in the wake of a slipshod and soon-to-be decided by the Supreme Court “unconstitutional” boondoggle of a Health Care Law.

And while this president has been more effective at this illicit and wholly vague “war on terror” than the cowboy president who preceded him, his ramping up the heat in Afghanistan and the blithe dismissal of most of its dead-end policies has been egregious. Remember, this is our anti-war candidate, who has assassinated more disparate terrorists than any president in history, included in the carnage are an America citizen and the man responsible for 9/11. The chances now or anytime that this guy, or anyone, least of all another Ivy League wimp trying to appear tough, is going to end this perpetual state of war is nil. It has been and will be the bankruptcy of this nation, because even purportedly fiscal conservative voices are in favor of never-ending aggression. Obama has done nothing to curtail it, if anything he has to done the opposite.

Shit, can Joe Cool run on this at best shaky and at worst horrid record of economic solvency, as instituted nearly a century ago, or will this be about how shitty Romney is or how shitty the Republicans were in the first place?

Apparently, even in the bitter heat and unforgiving light for summer, six out of ten voters still dig Joe Cool. And why not? He’s still the young candidate (Romney being another tired Baby Boomer nudge), articulate (except when explaining the actual gig he’s been given) and he’s overseen, Afghanistan aside, an overall responsible and effective foreign policy (the Libyan move — which I mocked ceaselessly — was a win-win).

But these same voters do not want more spending or more pathetic excuses about The Right blocking all these infusive economic salves. There is only a Right because in the dust of a Republican spending surge for the better part of a decade, leftist banshees like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid ram-rodded the usual parade of government overreach and caused a backlash. Being shocked that the opposition party, roundly mandated by the electorate in 2010, is blocking your agenda is like being surprised when a TV ad is biased towards the product it’s hawking.

Of course all this pales to the woeful economic numbers that for good or ill (and it has mostly been ill for presidents since FDR made it the business of the executive branch to be responsible for American fiscal solvency) are crushing Joe Cool weekly. Thanks for the most part to Republicans like Coolidge first and Hoover last, both of whom chose to ignore one out of every four Americans being out of work for three solid years prior to Roosevelt’s madness, the country as a whole has henceforth accepted the assistance and regulatory powers of the federal government over the monolithic banking system.

Trouble for this president is his desire to play the middle. Thus, he’s painted as a big-government liberal (in some goofy places as a socialist) as he cow-tows to the interests of speculators, banks, unions, and manufacturers, while also managing to pay lip service to the Dodd-Frank bill, which was passed under a Democratic congress and never certified. The Left claim it doesn’t exist, and what happened last month to J.P. Morgan Chase makes it clear that Joe Cool has no clear footing on either side of the aisle.

And thus here we are, as we were in the summer of 2004 when I sent to press the summation of what this fall’s election should be about: “George W. Bush was ready to be had by anyone aggressive and smart enough to build a viable alternative argument to massive job losses, a throbbing recession, the most spendthrift administration since FDR, and the worst post-war effort ever bungled by a sovereign nation. This election is supposed to be a referendum on the incumbent’s standing. It was ripe for a legitimate challenger to seize the opportunity to engage a debate on its merits.”

Karl Rove brilliantly framed it about gay marriage and soccer mom fear mongering and re-elected a dunce, who continued to care take the greatest economic collapse in eight decades, as will be the case this time around for Barack Obama. Second terms in my lifetime have been doom chambers. No one can survive it, least of all a polarized nation of overfed and over-stimulated mutants ramped with fear over some bullshit they read in a random screed like this nonsense.

But at least I am willing to go on record calling it nonsense, rather than commentary or analysis, even though it is as salient as any crap I’ve read from anyone for months. Shit, can Joe Cool run on this at best shaky and at worst horrid record of economic solvency, as instituted nearly a century ago, or will this be about how shitty Romney is or how shitty the Republicans were in the first place?

Hell if I know, but I do know it’s time for this president to get himself a helmet.

As Voodoo Princess Madam Sissy Meechum says, “It’s a long summer.”

 

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Health Care on Trial

Aquarian Weekly 4/4/12 REALITY CHECK

HEALTH CARE ON TRIAL

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is unconstitutional. I have written this repeatedly over the past year; originally in HEALTHCARE U.S.A. 3/24/10 and later that year, CITIZEN HEALTHCARE 12/29/10. It was true then and it is true now.

No politically charged Supreme Court decision in this politically charged election year is going to change that. It is not within the boundaries of the Congress of these United States to make such laws as to force its citizens to purchase insurance. This should have been the case for the 1935 Social Security Act that forced Americans to purchase retirement insurance or the Enrollment Act of 1863 that forced American men to fight for the Union and every subsequent Selective Service or Draft laws that wiped out thousands upon thousands of American citizens, many of them in unconstitutional “wars” like Korean, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq I, Iraq II or even before all that the Militia Acts of 1892 that forced every American to buy muskets and gunpowder.

U.S. Supreme CourtThis shit has been going on for a long time, folks.

Hell, the damn U.S. Constitution was only four years old when the second official congress and George Washington, the first president, pissed on it. The next guy in charge, John Adams, by far the most influential revolutionaries of the 1770s, but a lunatic chief executive, signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which granted the president the power to deport citizens of questionable allegiance to the United States and jail or deport journalists for writing “slanderous” or “malicious” (determined by the White House) anti-government sentiments. Andrew Jackson became the godfather of Jim Crow by wielding an iron fist across the fruited plain with the 21st congress’s unconstitutional 1830 Indian Removal Act. Oh, boy did the South hammer that baby home over one hundred years of racketeering, voter intimidation and government-sanctioned murder.

Need we go on?

Yes?

Okay, how about this nation’s most revered and influential chief executive, Abraham Lincoln, who forced an entire region to restructure its moral and economic foundations through military invasion, which brought with it an unconstitutional drafting of the poor, the eradication of due process and habeas corpus, the jailing of dissidents against the federal government and of course the radically unconstitutional Marshall Law. Woodrow Wilson subsequently abused these “safety during war time” tactics during WWI and FDR during WWII when both presidents interred thousands of innocent German and Japanese civilians respectively. The world champion of unconstitutional nonsense, Richard Nixon used the same scheme to bug, slander and intimidate anti-war protestors, wielding the CIA, IRS, FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service in a clumsy attempt to destroy political opponents until he was asked to leave the premises.

Some of these cases were never challenged, some challenged and overturned or embarrassingly watered down or left to expire ungracefully. Some were regionally challenged for decades like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was a needed intervention of the federal government to impede Bill of Rights abuses. In the recent case of the Patriot Act, a whopper of unconstitutional chicanery, every case that was brought against it was successful, rendering most of it flaccid and ineffectual.

Not so with what the political culture pejoratively refers to as Obamacare, which has been challenged in lower courts across the land in several states and exonerated each time. Every liberal and conservative judge has seen fit to uphold the law as constitutional, despite its controversial Individual Mandate, an invention of the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation in the 1990s and vocally supported by the Speaker of the House and leading Republican voice at the time, Newt Gingrich. It was a collective Right Wing knee-jerk response to the massive socialized medicine overhaul presented by then first lady, Hillary Clinton.

The federal government is not without precedent for this maneuver, of course.

This same blue print was formed and enacted by another current Republican challenger to the president, Mitt Romney, when his derisively coined Romneycare became the law of Massachusetts in 2006. And the man he now challenges? Barack Obama spent thousands of campaign dollars horse-whipping the aforementioned Ms. Clinton for “mandating Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty” in the spring of ’08, something he signed into law 24 months later.

The Individual Mandate, reeking with congressional history through Conscription and Social Security is the constitutional sticking point of Obamacare and not the Single-Payer socialist model utilized in every industrialized nation in the free world and what the liberal/progressive lobby has bellowed about for 60 years. This is a halfway house for insurance companies, one of the leading lobbies in the final days of this law’s formation, to gain millions of new clients.

Perhaps only the Individual Mandate will be struck down by a predictable 5-4 margin or maybe, in an uncommon move by the highest court in the land, a reasonable hedge decision of cutting off the Individual Mandate clause and leaving intact the most controversial law since the Patriot Act and certainly as economically driven a law since the Civil Rights Act. But as a fulcrum to the process, the Individual Mandate may take with it the entirety of the law and consequently the thousands of participants either benefiting or being hounded by its slow infusion into the national marketplace.

The federal government is not without precedent for this maneuver, of course. The vagaries of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, although in spirit was originally included by the framers as a legal means to prevent a federalist construct in interstate trade and currency, certainly left a gaping legal hole in its letter. It is not unlike the currently eviscerated Stand Your Ground law that proponents claim was not implemented to include blue-line wannabes chasing down and murdering black teens. Sorry, no rule is singular, and neither is the Commerce Clause.

Thus the Commerce Clause has been used for a myriad of insanities over the two-century plus existence of this republic and it has its place here. If the Supreme Court rules against it, then it will be doing so in abject rejection to former rulings on Wickard v Filburn, which allowed congress to limit the amount of wheat grown by an Ohio farmer in 1942 or the 2005 criminalization of homegrown marijuana case of Gonzalez v Raich.

When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is eventually ruled unconstitutional in June of this year, it will certainly reveal an incredible opportunity for those motivated enough to abolish Social Security or Medicaid or Medicare or Federal Income Tax or any of the dozens of federal laws that are and have always been unconstitutional.

Don’t tread on me?

Indeed.

 

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12

Aquarian Weekly 12/28/11 REALITY CHECK

12

This will be the last column I pen this year, in the final days of this twelfth month of 2011, and I choose to write about the number 12.

In a few days we embark on 2012, and each year I try and end the previous one with a tag line or a semantic touchstone for where things may go over the following calendar run. It’s a way of cleansing by throwing something out there for kicks. We hardly ever — and by hardly ever, we mean mostly — predict how things will pan out. Never did go much for the “past is prologue” stuff. Don’t look back. Rearview mirrors are for suckers. This is more our speed.

jcNone of this is true, of course. The entire purpose of this space is to point out that nothing is new and that somewhere along the line of civilization, and most assuredly in the history of these United States of America, there has been a dead-ringer or worse catastrophe than the one currently being endured. This calms the natives from believing the End is Nigh, an age old defection in the human condition that bridges raging ego with a preternatural fear of the unknown to justify the eradication of existence, when all it really means is that things are subject to a natural shift and we’re just pissed about it.

However, the end of the year is hardly for reflection but dissection, and in that spirit we offered up 2011 as the year of “challenge”, as the political and social landscape of our nation would be motivated to defend, refute or understand the largest legislative maneuver in nearly half a century; the National Health Care Law. Before that in 2010, we predicted a re-birth of fiscal conservatism by examining a growing worship of Ayn Rand by the wounded Right Wing. Back in 2009, which we labeled the Year of the Guilty, we took a turn for the weird. Not sure where that was going.

Now 2012 is upon us and it is long in coming for me.

The number 12 is my number.

Well, I was initially partial to the number 2 in the grand scheme of the primary numbers, but my grandmother and mother were both born on a twelve, and later I was married on a 12. My first hero, Joe Namath wore number 12 and his team won its only title on a 12. When I was 12 my head exploded when I heard The Who’s Tommy for the first time, which completely altered my being, and then shortly after or during this experience, my body exploded into another completely different being.

Yet, somewhere along the line I learned from the Oxford Dictionary that a study of the number (or word) twelve’s etymology suggests that “twelve” arises from the Germanic compound “twalif” “two-leftover”, so a literal translation would yield “two remaining-after having ten taken”. Therefore, the remaining “tw”- hints that twelve and two are related.

Nice.

Also, in any monotheistic measure, 12 rules; as in 12 tribes of Israel for Judaism, 12 apostles and a bunch of crazy 12 stuff in Revelation for Christianity, which brings us to the Mayan calendar, end of the world thing, and well — I get that. Also, there are 12 Imams, whom are considered the legitimate successors of Muhammad in Islam. But my favorite is the Hindu 12, which indicates the number names for Surya, the Sun God.

Really nice.

Of course, my awareness of the number 12 is not without its constant reminder: The Roman calendar has 12 months, broken up by 24-hour days split into 12-hour periods, which begin at the stroke of midnight (12:00 am). In fact, the very basic units of time (60 seconds, 60 minutes, 24 hours) can all perfectly divide by 12. And for what’s it’s worth, the Western and Chinese zodiacs have 12 signs.

This year of ’12 could be the year we get out of the war business for a while. That would be nice.

Maybe my absolute favorite (and let the music geeks have at it on this one) 12 is the number of pitch classes in an octave, not counting the duplicated (octave) pitch. Also, 12 is the total number of major keys, (not counting enharmonic equivalents) and the total number of minor keys (also not counting equivalents). This applies only to twelve-tone equal temperament, the most common tuning used today in western influenced music.

Beyond nice.

Crucial, really.

There are 12 steps in AA.

There are 12 face cards in a deck.

There are 12 Federal Reserve Districts in the U.S.

Human visitors to the moon; 12.

You may have heard something about the number 12 deriving from Egeria, the Roman water goddess, often pictured carrying 12 jugs of water, which she summarily spills to create the earth’s lakes, oceans and rivers.

Here’s a final tidbit about my 12; the word “twelve” (the largest number with one syllable) is also the largest number with a single-morpheme in English. In linguistics a “morpheme” is the smallest semantically meaningful unit in a language.

Chew on that for a while.

So, while we’re enjoying our 12 days of Christmas, I wish to ponder on all-things 2012, a presidential election year. The hope here, and a mild prediction, is that a true third party candidate will emerge to finally challenge the status quo.

Why not?

Has that not been my mantra for eternity? Why not in ’12? If not now, when? If the Payroll Tax debate, as innocuous and petty a tit-for-tat political piss battle as can be imagined, ends in a virtual stalemate, what is the point of a Two-Party system? (and let’s not deal with the ironies of my conveniently decrying the number 2 appearing here, shall we?)

Not sure who or what a third-party candidate would look like, and the foolish dream is it won’t be a nut like Ross Perot or Donald Trump, but we’re feeling positive for a few fleeting seconds, so go rain on someone else’s parade.

This year of ’12 could be the year we get out of the war business for a while. That would be nice. When Iraq goes to the dogs after trillions spent and thousands dead and maimed we’ll turn our attention to letting Afghanistan tumble, ignore the Middle East and continue this interesting infatuation with Asia, the New Europe for the New Century.

The desert is out in 2012.

Sadly, what is also out in 2012 is Hackwriters.com, which has been printing this column across the U.K. and the rest of planet earth for the past 12 years. Along with the brave souls at this paper, and several others who have come and gone over the nearly 15 years we’ve been at this, Hackwriters and its staff have been right on the front lines with the Reality Check News & Information Desk.

We wish their next endeavor in 2012 to be better.

Why not?

Embrace the 12.

It’s good for you.

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