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The Iraq Papers Volume I

Aquarian Weekly 11/30/05 REALITY CHECK

The Iraq Papers Part I THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S NEW CLOTHES Learning to Jog Naked on the Endless Treadmill of a Winless War

American Soldiers The following is the first of five segments tying together the loose ends of a fantastic cargo of misinformation, propaganda, media hype and revisionist history surrounding what is now being erroneously dubbed the worst war effort in the 229 years of this republic. Today we’ll lay the groundwork for our series by saving precious protest/debate time believing and/or fighting for the current administration to unfurl, discuss, or merely make-up an exit strategy.

The piper, as the nifty allegory goes, is due. All doubt has been expunged. Whatever hopes and plans and flag-waving, ribbon-tying nonsense that has been perpetuated by the most blindly optimistic pom-pom gripping homers, they are now null and void. The jig is undeniably up, the check has been cashed, and every last chicken has settled home to roost. The Iraq War – Desert Shield in all its gory incarnations has now outlived even the direst doomsayer prognostications offered up by the least likely peaceniks of yesteryear. And there’s no end in sight. Not with this president, or any president who ordered the thing up.

It is beyond him now to stop it. Too late. And it wouldn’t have mattered if John Kerry had been elected a year ago either. It didn’t matter when Tricky Dick took the reigns from the tattered remains of LBJ. History is our greatest source. Been there. Done that. Got the tee shirt. Once the United States of America gets its teeth into an invasion, occupation, police action, whatever, it’s in for the long haul.

You think the Yale Boy doesn’t know he’s already sunk? His only chance at being painted by history as anything less than a war mongering dumbstruck goober is to blindly deal into an inside straight or even a royal motherfucking flush!

So when people ask you why the vermin are presently leaving the sinking vessel, so to speak, you just tell them any breathing mammal worth a shit knows when the cabin is taking on too much water. It’s a doomed proposition. Instinct tells you this. Pure instinct. Not fact or intellect. Vibes. This baby is screwed. Totally fucked, or as the marines like to say, FUBAR – Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition. That’s what we got here, ladies and gents, a full-on, hardcore FUBAR. And no one’s going to be able to click their heels and make it back to Kansas or Texas for that matter, regardless of what well-meaning congressmen say now.

Specifically we site Pennsylvania representative, John Murtha, a decorated war veteran, who spent 37 years of his life serving as a US Marine, and, who last week, after years of support for this mess, including printed records in his own book as late as a year ago, told his commander-in-chief we have to bring the boys home…right now! God bless him, he’s at least willing to admit he made a mistake voting for the war, plugging the war, going to the mat for our Boy President and our nation’s best stab at foreign intelligence. But he’s a silly man and he has lost his mind. Psychologists call it Temporary Paralysis of the Reasoning Functions. My father calls it Shit for Brains. Either way, he’ll be fine, but for now he’s a crazy man.

Try and remember if you can delve way back to the winter of 2002, this was invasion an easy sell. Everyone was on board, most importantly, the American people. Big time. Well over 60%. Close to 70%. Then came congress. Over 90% was it? An overwhelming vote for war. The CIA was hot with info, the Pentagon was breathing hard, and the press sat around saluting everyone and wearing American flags on their lapels. It was a slam dunk, to offer a tired quotation. Sure, maybe a few European nations were barking, a few college kids and folk singers, but even Ted Kennedy said Saddam Hussein had to go.

Oh, and by the way, let’s not leave out that the man won a national election 12 months ago and defeated an opponent who supported the war.

So why should the president abandon ship?

He has everyone on record as being enthusiastically for it. Didn’t have to sneak around like before Viet Nam or push embargos like before World War II or institute Marshall Law like before the Civil War. Marched right into the United Nations, which, despite later vapidly disingenuous protestations, passed an ironclad resolution to oust a dictator who did not comply with international regulations. Made a few speeches, showed dramatic slow-motion replays of planes crashing into the World Trade Center accompanied by haunting melodies, and whipped the remaining pansies out of the Oval Office.

Why should the president pull out now?

Even if the whole shebang has been deficiently planned and horribly executed, coupled with mounds of misinformation and bad predictions coming out of every orifice of his cabinet and the Pentagon and his generals, why should George W. Bush quit now? If he does, he loses. Presidents are not used to losing. In fact, they’re immune to it. This is how they become presidents. The very notion sends them into a diarrhea-induced rage. They spit and whine and twitch spastically as if cornholed by a 5,000-volt livestock taser.

But if the president stays in the game long enough, keeps slamming money on the table – he has a shot for the big cash-in. You think the Yale Boy doesn’t know he’s already sunk? His only chance at being painted by history as anything less than a war mongering dumbstruck goober is to blindly deal into an inside straight or even a royal motherfucking flush! Imagine that. Land on his feet like Mr. Magoo or the Boston Red Sox. Get lucky, if just once. Stay alive long enough to fall ass backwards into fortune.

But if the president leaves the table, he gets nothing. And right now Junior is one of the most unpopular presidents since Ulysses S. Grant. But he isn’t a war hero or even a decent drunk, and, most of all, he doesn’t have to get re-elected. Good luck.

Next Week: WHEN GOOD IDEAS ARE EXECUTED BY DUMB ASSES – Debunking The Myth of the Iraq Mistake

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Lay Off The Catholics

Aquarian Weekly 4/20/05 REALITY CHECK

LAY OFF THE CATHOLICS

Pope John Paul IIMy favorite thing about this 24-hour harangue of televised and radio-addled news commentary and coverage is the hyping and lauding over an event until the marrow is sucked dry and then we’re left with the inevitable backlash. We’re experiencing this now with the passing of Pope John Paul II. I’m pretty sure the funeral is finally over. I could be wrong. It might still be going. Like Reagan’s interminable send off these things seem to take on a life of their own like David Blaine living in a box for weeks.

But assuming they finally buried the Pope, after weeks and reams of praise and plaudits and tributes, we get the “The Pope Was A Misogynist!” “The Pope Turned A Blind Eye to Aids In Africa!” “The Catholic Church Is Atavistic Voodoo!” The Catholic Hierarchy Excuses And Harbors Known Pedophiles!” All predictable, and, I might add, asinine. Not nearly as asinine as claiming the Pope or Ronald Reagan’s lunatic arms race or kids holding hands in a quilt or some such bullshit ended communism in eastern Europe.

All together now…

COMMUNISM IMPLODED BECAUSE THERE IS NO MONEY IN IT.

I have written that in this space more times than the “F” word, and man, that ain’t a little.

You see what people don’t get is that religion, specifically organized religion, and in the case of the Vatican, a major league powerful, billion-dollar world altering religion has to have strict – balls to the wall – dogma to exist. Some of it acts as a sound guideline. Some of it stinks with antiquity. Some of it is wacky. Some of it borders on sacred. The Catholics are silly with this stuff. Believe me, I was one. But it is not for us to deride. It is their deal, and the Pope, although this one was quite the traveler and commentator on world events and as progressive as Popes go, was the infallible mouthpiece for the church’s dogma.

I dug this Pope, for the most part. His written apology stuck in Jerusalem’s Western Wall for eons of anti-Semitic actions, murders, and other mayhem at the hands of the Roman Catholic charges is one of the most humbly sympathetic and mind-altering gestures performed by any human in the 20th century. And when he was shot by that crazy Turk, and then healed up and came back and hugged him. That was downright Jesus stuff. Not the Jesus Christ Jesus, but you know, the Jewish ascetic from Nazareth. Forget it.

Anyway, as far as Popes go, this one was brilliant, charismatic, and widely influential. But he’s the friggin’ Pope. The Catholic Church is NEVER going to allow women priests or advocate birth control or lean a little on the abortion issue, or sell their own priesthood – the backbone of the religion – down the river for a few deviant scum. It’s like the mafia or the NYPD. They take care of their own.

You don’t like it, don’t join, or get out! Suck it up! It’s a religion.

I don’t like to see a cardinal who shielded known pedophiles preside over a tribute mass for the Pope anymore than I like to see a murderer like Ted Kennedy as an acting senator or ex-cons like Ollie North hosting debate shows on cable. But, hey, it’s their gig. I wash my hands of it, and whatever they want to do is fine with me.

This tidbit of angst came up last year when I got a ton of mail telling me I was being flippant about this gay Episcopal bishop issue. Remember that craziness? So I repeat: you want to be gay, use condoms, be a woman with equal rights to perform ceremonies, or get a pound of flesh for people diddling your kids, then go somewhere else. You’re not Catholic then. Find a new thing. People do it all the time. There are tons of faiths out there, and mostly, they’re pretty much the same crap.

This is not like politics where you can have a pro-choice Republican or a pro-war Democrat. It’s not likely they’ll be invited to the monthly weenie roast, but why not? It’s fun, keeps the democracy thing on its toes. But this just in: Catholicism is a theocracy.

When I read or hear these outcries against certain religious tenets I cannot help but consider the source for the 9/11 disaster. It was the failure of this country’s leaders to see the lunacy of fundamentalism, in this case Islamic. This is not unlike the voting public failing to see that their president is a religious fanatic – if he really believes this nonsense, of which I’m not totally convinced. But let’s just say George W. Bush really believes Jesus Christ told him that God wants us to free Iraq. I’m pretty sure he’s said this in major magazines, but maybe I was drunk. What now, tootie?

You see, we are so anesthetized to the rhythmic din of faith as mania we hardly notice when people leaping around in burkas in the middle of nowhere leads to crashing planes into our buildings. But it’s real. And that’s when things must be debated or, in some sober cases, bombed into oblivion. With the Catholics, it’s basically; they don’t go in for the gay/condom/woman deacon thing. And, really, who believes young boys claiming they’ve been violated?

I blame the Pope for none of it, especially John Paul II. He was The Man. Jeez, he had the two names that reek of Christianity – St. John, the guy responsible for all those signs at football games, and St. Paul, the guy responsible, let’s face it, for the football games. The Pope represented the dogma to the end. He did his job, for which you cannot make the same assessment on about two-thirds of this abysmal government of ours.

You don’t like it, don’t join, or get out! Suck it up! It’s a religion. How would Major League Baseball like it if the commissioner one day decided that everyone should use tennis rackets and head directly to third base upon hitting safely? Or how do think the NRA would react if the new director made some kind of statement to the effect of “Guns are bad” on national television tomorrow? Hey, how about if the immigration department just let thousands of illegal aliens march over the border daily and the federal government granted them driver’s licenses? Yeah, how’d you…

Oh, right.

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John Kerry Reports For Duty

Aquarian Weekly 8/4/04 REALITY CHECK

Democratic Convention 2004 G.I. JOHN DIGS IN

John Kerry For 50-plus minutes last Thursday night the Democratic nominee for President of the United States ended four long days of bashing, cajoling, revising and challenging from every spectrum of the party during its Beantown convention, finally setting a course for battle over the next 90 days. When considering the amount of cable, network, internet and radio coverage all over the planet, and the relative ambiguity of his primary platform, this may not only have been John Kerry’s most important hour, but arguably the most dissected speech given by a presidential candidate ever.

And although it was not Ronald Reagan in 1980 or the first JFK in ’60, it put a little meat on the bones of the Kerry campaign and transformed the otherwise vagueness of his vacillating messages that so far had all but added up to “I’m not Bush” into a viable street-fighter mentality needed to force a debate this fall.

After the usual spitfire incoherence of Ted Kennedy and Al Sharpton, the overly contrived shill of Senator Rodham and the expected bombastic brilliance of a Big Bill rally-chat, a fine piece of oration by Illinois senator, Barack Obama and a wildly overrated presentation by the vice presidential candidate 24 hours earlier, Kerry burned through four key segments of what his people believe he will need to defeat a man who barely knocked off the worst campaigner this reporter has ever seen or covered four years ago.

The overwhelming key to Kerry’s coming out party was his military service. No less than ten times by my count the Massachusetts senator roused the locals by referring to his experience as a foot soldier or his sentiments blooming from such a position or his sympathy for the present-day soldier or remembering his fellow Viet Nam soldiers. Beginning with a salute and his announcement that he was “reporting for duty” immediately put the onus on his toughness in these tough times to which the Bush people believe they have erected a kind of monopoly upon.

This puts the expected White House backlash on the defensive for no other reason but its administration’s assistance that everyone must, regardless of opinion “Support the troops!” Well, for half of his acceptance speech, the one that would finally define him to the American people, John Kerry effectively announced himself “One of the troops!”

Somehow Kerry has managed to erase hundreds of hours of sound bites bloated with anti-war rhetoric from his youth, the likes of which seemed to galvanize the Democratic base during the primaries and co-opted the Howard Dean movement to the tune of comeback victories in Iowa and New Hampshire and a burial of Dean. Taking the mantle from the opponent seems to be this man’s style, and that bodes well for victory in this stinking arena.

The second, and not without merit or coincidence, Kerry hammered home images of hope from every corner of populist-speak. Not unlike the 2000 Al Gore snoozer that actually zoomed a 15-point spike in the polls, Kerry read a laundry list of impossible federal programs from (ho-um, here we go again) the ever-popular Universal Health Care to Middle Class Tax Breaks and “hit-the-rich-corporate-devils” commentary to the gauche but always effective swing-vote middle America tap dance of a united, free and working country.

For half of his acceptance speech, the one that would finally define him to the American people, John Kerry effectively announced himself “One of the troops!”

Yet Kerry was also able to invoke a sixties mentality, an almost Hippy-Messiah kind of mantra with “We believed we could change the world. And you know what? We did. But we’re not finished. The journey isn’t complete. The march isn’t over. The promise isn’t perfected. Tonight, we’re setting out again. And together, we’re going to write the next great chapter of America’s story.”

A bold slice of Baby Boomer Pollyanna to say the least.

The man who voted for NAFTA having the balls to shout about halting the export of jobs to other countries has the ring of winner written all over it. Where Gore failed to realize the sick genius of Big Bill, the Kerry people fully understand its importance to political survival.

These first two points has given root to what you will be hearing, seeing and enduring from this campaign over the next three months and it has to scare anyone working for the Bush campaign because the “All-Things-To-All-People” stuff worked gangbusters for Al Gore, and everyone with half a brain knows if he wasn’t hated by most of the voting public he would have waxed Captain Shoe-In with it by Labor Day. Believe me, several key members of the Bush 2000 staff told me as much on several occasions when I warned them of Gore’s power to promise the moon for a vote.

The third point of the Kerry speech, which was without argument a speed-reading exercise to take advantage of primetime network coverage, was the aforementioned “I’m Not Bush” portion. The sign of a serious contender is not forgetting what created your candidacy in the first place: The other guy’s pathetic performance while in charge. For there is no doubt that every re-election bid ever conducted has been a referendum on the incumbent, and this one reeks of it. John Kerry is not too proud to admit, “As long as I’m not George Bush, you have to at least consider me!” The very reason John Edwards is the antithesis to Dick Chaney, physically, emotionally, ideologically, metaphysically, and the perfect reason to invoke the idea that after 9/11 this country was all together in a support group and somehow the Bush administration managed to ruin it.

Last but certainly not least, because the brand spanking new nominee closed with it hard, John Kerry has put out the united front of taking the high road, laying down a positive, touchy-feely gauntlet for the next few crucial weeks when the Republican machine will try and gain a foothold into whatever bump this convention may hold by lambasting him on his flip-flop, liberal mess of a voting record.

To wit: “My friends, the high road may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And that’s why Republicans and Democrats must make this election a contest of big ideas, not small-minded attacks.”

This way Kerry can gain a measure of momentum from something like a Michael Moore propaganda film, while not being straddled with having to defend its aggressive stance. After Moore, for whom I’ve had a good relationship from afar through his lovely wife and his always-passionate and humorous satire, was taken apart by Ted Koppel the other night, Kerry would be wise to take any road that lets the other guy gut Bush like a prize fish and reap the benefits without the inevitable embarrassment.

Every pundit across the land waited for John Kerry to either fall flat on his face or rock the foundation of this election season with his acceptance speech, but on the final night of the Democratic Convention, his first real moment in the spotlight, he did neither. What he did was set up an interesting scenario by which the attack must now come to him rather than from him, and if so, perhaps at a cost for his opponent. He told us he is a soldier who cares about everyone from every walk of life and affiliation and who is not the other guy because that is what being the opponent is all about and when you get on board with it let’s remember to play nice.

John Kerry may still be a blurry image to many of the voting public, but he is now at least an image, and one that the president will have to contend with and not easily brush aside any longer. The Liberal who wants to jack up the military and raise taxes for your financial relief has spoken.

Good luck fighting that nonsense.

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JFK Assassination 40 Years Hence

Aquarian Weekly 11/26/03 REALITY CHECK

BIRTH OF THE CYNICAL AGE
Perspectives on the JFK Assassination 40 Years Later

John F. Kennedy“We stand at the edge of a New Frontier – the frontier of unfulfilled hopes and dreams. It will deal with unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus.”
– John F. Kennedy

suddenly in sunlight he will bow and the whole garden will bow
– ee cummings

Forty years ago this week the 35th president of the United States was brutally murdered in broad daylight. There were hundreds of eyewitnesses lined along the execution route. It was the first openly documented incident of the television age. Yet after volumes written, debates raged, and the endless dissection of that day’s events; the countless hours of legal wrangling and propaganda, documentaries and tributes, cries of conspiracy and calls for clearer heads to prevail, we are no closer to one accepted truth on the identity of the assassin.

However, this humble missive will abstain from piling on to my mother’s brilliantly snide, “Who Didn’t Kill JFK?” mantra. Instead, its aim will be to put into perspective what this seminal moment in American history has done to the landscape of my generation, and all others hence.

I was 14 months old when John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. I recall growing up in the Bronx with its effect still palpable years later, especially on its anniversary, when cars would drive all day with their headlights on, flags were flown at half mast, and school teachers regaled us on where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.

Almost immediately, apart from its war-torn history, no human drama had better crystallized America – its psyche, its message and medium, its resolve and destiny quite so completely and violently as what transpired that overcast autumn afternoon in Dallas, Texas.

On the level of raw emotion, there is something everlasting about a person of such limitless potential, power and celebrity cut down in his prime, forever frozen in indestructible youth, like James Dean or Marilyn Monroe, or if Elvis Presley or Mickey Mantle had not gotten old and fat and drunk. It is a glowing tribute to dying young, before your time, unfinished business; no closure, no definable answers.

On broader levels, the severing of a head of state from its body politic is a trauma akin to the disorientation experienced by a living organism thrown from its normal environment into one of total confusion. This is especially stunning when a leader so distinctly engrained in the id of a free society leaping into an age of mind-bending change is slaughtered like a farm animal. As a result, what had been previously confined to certain pockets of metropolitan bohemia and smoky cafes or college campus conclaves; bitter dissent, counter-culture rage, a desire for eradicating atavistic symbols of tradition exploded into the mainstream throughout the ensuing decade of enormous unrest and social revolution.

People hate their deities to turn out mortal.

Like no one before or since, the image of Jack Kennedy was the epitome of 20th century iconoclasm. He represented the visionary generation, bloated with dreamers; always saying what needed to be said at the right time with the right cadence. A mutation borne of Nietzsche’s Ubermensch, perfectly molded for his times and fully capable of rising above the petty tragedies of mortality to manifest infinitely.

Kennedy was the first American president born in the American century, a hero in its greatest of wars, rising from the dark annals of its recent past. He had come from mysterious money like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby; a raucous American invention of questionable origin feeding off the decadent opulence of rabid capitalism. The second son of an ignominious father with his bootlegging millions and international intrigue, mob connections and dirty-scoundrel 19th century fortunes, JFK wore the mantle of promise like a mighty amour.

The gargantuan political Kennedy machine devoured miles, blazing trails beyond the stuffy, buttoned-down plastic, two-dimensional Eisenhower cocoon. From the moment of his emergence into the public eye, JFK was sold as brilliant living color. In the campaign for president, this fit perfectly against the grain of Richard Nixon’s stony black and white.

The two entered the senate in the early 1950s’, one from the dirt and grit of Californian poverty, the other from a New England golden chariot. Nixon stood for the pillars of America’s past; God and country, mom and apple pie, a Quaker in his lily white victorious post-war splendor. Kennedy represented uncharted territory, a young, bold Irish Catholic, a playboy, tan and brave, how all of America liked to think of its new decade. He was poised to strike forth from Hollywood illusions, fearless in the face of fast-changing times and the Red Scare. Contrarily, Nixon was the angry pit bull of the Eisenhower administration, reeking of passé dread.

The legacy of 11/22/63 is that America was never innocent, only blind, deaf and dumb to realities best kept hidden by more soothing fables of princes living happily ever after on streets of gold.

But despite all the revisionist history about Camelot and “a land of hope and dreams”, Richard Nixon, and not Jack Kennedy, won the 1960 presidential election. But Daddy Kennedy stole it outright. Everyone knew it, but did not care. It had always been the American dream to bury the past, look to the moon, beyond the endless horizon. Every revolution has its causalities. Dick Nixon may have been Camelot’s first, but not the last.

Jack eventually paid for the sins of his father, the notorious Joseph P. Kennedy, with his life. He entered politics for the old man, won the Pulitzer with his connections and influence, became a senator from Massachusetts against all odds, and muscled into the role of youngest elected presidential at the age of 43.

There are always debts to pay for any man of power in a democracy fraught with dangerous ambiguities, but as president, Kennedy added to them by taking on the mechanism of government, the silent assassins in the CIA, the swollen power of the FBI, the imminent threat of the Soviet Union, and the fumes of Harry Truman’s Cold War.

Bullied by Nikita Khrushchev and haunted by Fidel Castro, Kennedy signed away an empty check for Viet Nam to solidify South East Asia for generations, and set the course for his successor, Lyndon Johnson to build into a decade of war. Ironically, Kennedy’s victim, Dick Nixon, became its benefactor and finished the decade of the 1960s’ by plunging the nation into a cloud of paranoid madness.

Mostly, the truncated Kennedy administration – a mere 1,037days in length -uncovered the demons of our government; the stranglehold of the Pentagon, the sinister nature of spying and assassinations, and the rabid abuse of the Bill of Rights by J. Edgar Hoover and his ilk. It also set the course to shine light on the Civil Rights movement, pushing the kind of sweeping legislation not seen in this republic since the Reconstruction a century before.

Mere days after November 22, 1963, the United States government may have appeared to roll along relatively unaffected, but the nation dimmed considerably. Whipping up the laughable fictions of the Warren Commission, escalating the fighting abroad and insulating the powers that be could not erase the sudden realization that the endless skyway of the New Frontier did, in fact, have tolls, and they were steep. The fabricated marketing of idealism and the voracious appetite of post war America dove into a quagmire of brutal truths about the vicious nature of politics. No one seemed to know anymore who or what was running things. One thing became evident; JFK had been just another piece of a bloodless machine eradicated like a spare part.

Doubts about the conduct and make-up of America’s best and brightest would fester throughout subsequent years of presidential screw-ups including Viet Nam, Watergate, Iran Hostage Crisis, Iran/Contra, Monika Lewinski, and now the furor over Weapons of Mass Destruction.

It has been chic to blather on and on about America losing its innocence in that most violent moment forty years ago, a rebirthing of cynicism and a wariness about the definition of justice, and the gnawing questions about who holds the reigns of the richest and most powerful nation on earth. But the legacy of 11/22/63 is that America was never innocent, only blind, deaf and dumb to realities best kept hidden by more soothing fables of princes living happily ever after on streets of gold.

Eight presidents later the reverberation of 11/22/63 continues to quake the nature of news, politics, fear and vision. The New Frontier came apart like a house of cards and no Age of Aquarius could make it right. And all the Baby Boomer rhetoric about privilege and promise plays out quite nicely in the horrid memory of invincibility being shattered by bullets on a gray noon.

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

Aquarian Weekly 3/6/02 REALITY CHECK

BATTLE LINE AMERICA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

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

Aquarian Weekly 8/30/00 REALITY CHECK

Democratic National Convention 2000TINSLETOWN LOONEY TOONS

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

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

DB: And we were stuck with Nixon.

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

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

jc: Vast right wing conspiracy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DB: You can’t bash Lieberman.

jc: Too late.

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

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

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

jc: You were talking tough back in March.

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

jc: Gore is down 42% with independents.

DB: The debates will change that.

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

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

jc: The rich love tax cuts.

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

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

DB: We all felt bad for that poor girl.

jc: Her daddy makes toast.

DB: No comment. I thought Hillary was fair.

jc: About Gore’s acceptance speech…

DB: Saved the day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DB: We’ve already factored that in.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

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OUR MONSTER FIXATION

Aquarian Weekly
4/14/21

Reality Check

James Campion

OUR MONSTER FIXATION
What Godzilla vs. Kong Tells Us About Our Times

I am going to state for the record that I am an unabashed King Kong vs. Godzilla fan. Not because the original film came out the year I was born or that I have fond memories of going to see it with my grandma when I was a boy in the Bronx, but because it is so damn cool when two titans of the monster universe clash. No matter the reason. However the writers and filmmakers decide to get these two together is okay with me. This is why when Godzilla vs. Kong was released to great fanfare last Friday, I made it a point to sit my girls in front of our giant TV with my ridiculous sound system and watch it. And we did. And it was fucking fantastic. Silly. Cheesy. At times downright unintelligible claptrap. But when King Kong and Godzilla face off, all sins are forgiven.

I have always been fascinated by monster films. So is my daughter. I dig that about her. We have a slice of the macabre in us. She was riveted to the film. And why not? The sights and sounds of giant creatures stomping around, crashing through buildings and tossing tiny humans aside like ants, triggers something primal in us. Maybe because we’re in the smaller category of human? Maybe it’s an appetite for destruction? Who knows? One thing is for certain, these monster films, especially the ones featuring the biggies, and you get no bigger than King Kong and Godzilla, reflect a deeper framework of a world that is both joyful (beaches, sunsets, flowers, furry little creatures) and terrifying (floods, fires, storms, and large, growling creatures).

Nature vs. Civilization is always at the forefront of these creatures and their films. And they are always wildly popular. Despite hundreds of giant monster movies, many of them downright awful, the biggest stars, King Kong and Godzilla have not faced off in nearly sixty years. Most of that has no doubt to do with copyrights and lawyers, you know, human/civilization stuff, but nevertheless when they do come around, they are a hit. What does it say that with all of the content streamed our way since the pandemic hit in the spring of last year that Godzilla vs. Kong topped the list last week? Here we are, trapped by a virus, our civilization threatened by an unknown natural enemy we cannot wage war against culturally, politically, racially, added to the systemic vs. science fight on how to curtail this threat. So many factors; ideology, religion, politics, government. And here come the monsters.

Auspicious timing has been a reoccurring theme to monster films – especially the exaggerated grotesque forms of nature – a giant gorilla, who is both ancestor and imposing beast, arriving as tall as a building. Buildings, of course, being the big deal when King Kong was introduced to the world in 1933, the very height of the Great Depression. It would take more than a mere column to discuss the artistic ramifications in literature, art, film, and music that our man-made disaster did to the world, culminating in World War II, but suffice to say King Kong underlined it. It was perfect timing for a large ape to be brought against its will to the United States, fast becoming the dominant global power, to its greatest city, soon to be the world’s epicenter for progress, media, capitalism, and ingenuity, and scale its greatest edifice, the Empire State Building, erected merely two years before, only to be felled by a fleet of airplanes.

While a ship takes the fictitious film crew to Skull Island to encounter the mighty Kong in the original film, the airplane is the generational star of King Kong. Used for the first time a generation before as a special weapon of World War I, the purported war to end all wars, coupled with Charles Lindbergh’s improbable transcontinental flight only five-years gone, the airplane as both weapon and viable travel craft was relatively new. It is no coincidence that airplanes bringing Kong down resonated with 1933 audiences. The giant ape and the newest technology, battling on the biggest skyscraper on the planet in the biggest city of the biggest power around. A power brought low by stupidity and greed and the question of whether untethered capitalism, and the control of the economic environment as some kind of craps table, was viable for survival. The vengeance of the all-mighty buck as a far more imposing creature than the hairy beast with a crush on the screaming blonde woman.

Whew. A little on the nose, huh?

That is nothing compared to Godzilla.

King Kong is a film about the Great Depression, progress versus our natural past. Godzilla is a post-World War II film about the horrors of the atomic age, what humans had wrought on itself. The atomic bomb that laid waste to millions of Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki put an end to the global massacre of billions for ideology and racism. The fears of our progress to make war, kill as many of us as possible, is in every frame of the 1954 film. And it does not hide its lineage from King Kong in its very name; Godzilla is from the word Gojira, a combination of two Japanese terms for “gorilla” and “whale”, both the fictionalized and actual largest mammals on the planet. This is not only nature come to lay claim to the planet, but the mutant ramifications of fucking with nature so badly.

This, of course, makes perfect sense in post-war Japan, a country ravaged in humiliating defeat, forced to see its holy leader felled by Western war technology and laid low by the growing dangers of the twentieth century. But Godzilla was so popular, an American version was introduced in 1956, literally challenging the legacy of King Kong with its title, Godzilla, King of the Monsters. A young Raymond Burr was added to the footage and thus the plot to put an American in the thing, a representative of our culpability in all this, harkening back to King Kong coming to die under a fusillade of airplane bullets thirteen years earlier. To be fair, it was just a Hollywood cash grab, but it was hard, as it is now, to ignore this theme. It is also quite cool to consider Godzilla and Elvis Presley showing up at the same time. Much of what came before was about to be swept away by another monster entirely.

The sights and sounds of giant creatures stomping around, crashing through buildings and tossing tiny humans aside like ants, triggers something primal in us.

So, it was inevitable that the two mighty franchises and its monsters should clash, and they did, in August of 1962. It was the height of the Cold War, two months before the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a year before the Kennedy Assassination, and the Beatles and the 1960s and all that. A Japanese film company produced it with a plot teeming with anti-corporate greed and growing fears over pharmaceuticals and nuclear realities. None of it makes any sense when considering A) Kong dies at the end of the original film – despite American exploitations for the franchise – and B) how he ends up across the globe. Nevertheless, it was a massive international hit, released in America the following year. When I saw it in the late sixties, we all assumed there would be a sequel, considering the spate of these monster films throughout my childhood on TV and elsewhere. There would be a ton of rematches to come. Alas, this was not to be.   

Which brings us to 2021, and our pandemic/quarantine world, and the two titans returning to once again remind us of our self-destruction; technology and innovation over nature and humanity, our greed versus the sustaining of the planet, the unknown virus lying in wait to wipe us out. The ape from our past and the reanimated dinosaur from pre-history are products of things going terribly awry. Apparently, I would learn as we laughed and cheered and fist-pumped our way through Kong Versus Godzilla, this is a sequel of recent films, none of which I have seen. I mean, I am 58 now, and not as connected to the many universes run by giant conglomerates. But when I see these two lovable bastards about to fight, count me in.

Because that what monster movies do for us. They bring us back to our humanity by threatening it with large creatures that don’t belong, but kind of belong. They have human characterizes, they like kids, and are jealous and macho and fearful of something different moving in on their territory. All the stuff that we make and unmake.

We love monster movies. And it is no wonder at all.  

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ANDREW CUOMO ON THE BRINK

Aquarian Weekly
3/17/21

Reality Check

James Campion

ANDREW CUOMO ON THE BRINK
N.Y. Governor Clings to Power in Doomland


As I write this, the governor of New York Andrew Cuomo is being besieged with requests to resign. First, he endured a scandal regarding his administration’s hiding of Covid-19 casualties in state run facilities and more recently a phalanx of women have accused him of several haughty to criminal levels of sexual harassment. Most people reading this column and familiar with the previous dunce who just left the White House may consider these stains to be the perfect training ground for a presidential run, but Cuomo is a Democrat, and it’s been a long time since Big Bill Clinton’s wild days of forgive-me fornication. The Me Too movement is now calling the shots in the Democratic Party, and what is considered “Locker Room Humor” or “Boys Being Boys” in Republican circles is anathema around these parts. Therefore, Cuomo’s reign is hanging by a thread.

The question posed to me for the past week has been Cuomo’s lack of seriousness with the idea of quitting. This does not surprise me. I expect him to dig in. This is in his nature, and it is not for us to argue it. It’s a Darwinian imperative for Cuomo. 

Firstly, the man is a political animal, not merely a comedian trying his hand at governing, like former Minnesota Senator Al Franken, who went from yukking it up on Saturday Night Live to the big chamber in D.C., and after enduring an infinitesimal sexual harassment grievance compared to Cuomo’s, exited his post in shame. This kind of moral thinking is beyond Cuomo. His father was a legendary NY bestial marauder, and his offspring is just as hairy. He will not go quietly, if at all, in my humble estimation.

And this is not just cynicism on my part. As of late this week, the governor still enjoys a majority of support among New York voters and a much larger portion in the party. This is akin to Donald Trump’s stellar support among Republicans despite his bevy of irrational lunacy and criminal behavior, two impeachments and inciting an insurrection. Politics is not about morality or values, and it sure as hell isn’t about weird idyllic notions like America. It is about power: Getting power and hanging onto power. Cuomo already nailed the first one, twice. The second, always the trickier of the two, is now on the table. This is when true politicos go to the numbers. If the numbers hold (Trump and Clinton) you remain steady and hope things blow over, and if they don’t (Richard Nixon) you bail.

Speaking of “the blow over” the irony of the Me Too movement is that it may have rattled cages and given credence to those who wish to overcome social inequities and fear of reprisals to come forth and tell their stories, but in truly high-profile cases – outside of Hollywood, where it has wreaked havoc – it has gone belly up. Trump skated through more than a dozen of these things, including bragging about assaulting women, before he was elected, and a Supreme Court Judge was confirmed despite the horror of the accusations against him by a woman brave enough to come forward.

In this climate, where rhetoric and shocking headlines may have some pull, once the dead end and now merely a speed bump for politicians, why should Cuomo quit?

Politics is not about morality or values, and it sure as hell isn’t about weird idyllic notions like America. It is about power.

And lest we forget, and I shan’t because I watched it up close, my dear friend, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who was defeated by Cuomo in 2014, tried to alert voters of Albany’s corruption excused by the then incumbent. That summer, Cuomo summarily disbanded his own high-powered Moreland Commission to root out corruption in state politics once they began sniffing into his campaign finance issues. The whole thing stunk to high heaven. Cuomo was re-elected.

Again, in this climate, with the power and promise of two generations of Cuomo politicians, the absolutely joke of repercussions for previous political figures and sexual harassment, and the numbers in his favor, why would a craven lifer give up the most powerful governorship in the most powerful state in the union? The type of creature Cuomo is does not bend to the outcry of editorial pages or Twitter. Even his party bows to his resistance. He’s in charge. Giving that up is a tough gig. You had better have the votes to oust him. The party and/or the state government will likely have to step up and impeach Cuomo, and if the votes are there, he will go, if not, as with The Donald, then he will ride this out.

Here’s the deal; Cuomo’s career is toast, he knows it. He was the toast of America during the pandemic, despite complaints from inside his administration of grandstanding. Many in the party wanted him to run for president. Ahhh, but the same brutal acumen that makes him what kind of mutant he is, lets him know that it’s over now. He’s not a moron like Trump. He sees the writing on the wall. I see Cuomo more as a political shapeshifter like Clinton or a Kennedy, someone who gets that by quitting you just give into the enemy and mark your legacy for all times as a quitter. When we think of LBJ now, do we think of the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act or Viet Nam or the Kennedy Assassination? I argue we don’t. He’s the guy who quit rather than to defend his legacy at the ballot box. He’s a quitter. And that is worse in the political sphere that Cuomo runs in than pinching a woman’s ass.

If grabbing pussy gets you to the White House, then Cuomo is going to stay put.

The scum, as Hunter S. Thompson so eloquently put it once, also rises.  

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THE REAL VICTIMS OF “THE BIG LIE”

Aquarian Weekly
2/17/21

Reality Check

James Campion

THE REAL VICTIMS OF “THE BIG LIE”
Members of Cult Terrorists Pay the Price for Political Theater 

As the second impeachment trial of the former president rolls on, I can’t help but think of all the random Americans who turned into cultist, terrorist, insurrectionists as a result of the repeated chant to “Stop the Steal” from those who merely used it to deflect from the reality of defeat. This tactic, as discussed ad nauseum in this space, was openly declared for months and at every turn appeared to those familiar with dime-store propaganda to be a fabricated media smokescreen. For whatever the reasoning – delusion, irrationality, classic grifting – the fallout is the people who believe it, and those who act upon it; especially when specifically prodded by the perpetuator of The Big Lie.

I shan’t spend more than a sentence making the point that this behavior has been propagated since humans could communicate, sometimes to horrific results. Being suckered or brainwashed or riled up by the ravings of a megalomaniac is as common a human trait as love, jealousy, fear, and hate. It is baked into our DNA. We can’t help it. The thing that matters most are the lives of these people who seem to be (and I am only guessing here) so empty and bereft of emotional contentment that they seek outside sources to provide a level of self-esteem. Again, for whatever the reasoning there were a whole lot of people who bought into this thing with zero evidence and no logical framework. It was, for them, (another guess?) a brighter alternative than the ignominious ending to what they deemed as an imperative

Some took to Facebook or chatted up their theories on Twitter. Still others made a placard and did some protesting or kept their election signs up on the lawn a few more weeks after the election. And while that last one is pathetic and a little sad, none of those things are criminal. I believe people have every right to think the earth is flat or that Tom Brady doesn’t cheat. Whatever gets you through the night. It is the criminal thing that we’re interested in here. Some people felt the need to act as if this was Armageddon, as if there was nothing left to lose. The desperate and disappointed among us are also a dime a dozen. In the grand pantheon of the human experience, the illusion of fate and doom can be powerful sparks to weird and violent actions. The results were on display on January 6.

I’m reminded of the most famous of these illusions, the Resurrection of Christ. I am using the word illusion; one might use faith – a belief in something with no tangible evidence. For me, as I delved into over ten years of research on this subject for my third book, Trailing Jesus, I was unceasingly intrigued by the refusal to abandon a movement as dramatically ingrained in the spirit of first century Palestine simply because of the systemic execution of its leader whom many believed was God. It was decided to ignore the gory facts of this and repeat that Jesus of Nazareth didn’t really die or that his purpose was to die, and whammo! you have a resurrection. Defeat? Nah, victory! The cults and violence that succeeded this story is the legend of western civilization. And the funny thing is, it had little to nothing to do with the original Jesus movement. For more on that, you can read my book.

Shameless plugging aside, let’s take the most famous of the Big Lie suckers, Q-Anon. Part of this belief depends on certain dates that would allegedly hand a divine intervention victory to the ousted president. January 6 as one of those, which brought many of them to Washington D.C. to commit crimes against the nation. The next date is March 4. Let’s see how that goes for them.

Politics, religion or cults are okay in their place. No point risking it all for any of it.

But cultists are easy targets. They look to something otherworldly (like resurrection) to cure the pain of loss. But what of the Proud Boys and The Oath Keepers, two right-wing extremist groups who plotted the attack on the Capitol and used the president’s January 6 “rally” to enact violence and mayhem? These political terrorist groups used the trauma of defeat as a call to action to overturn the results as a matter of “principle”. Political principle is as good a reason for terrorism, or as Osama bin Laden once jibed, “One man’s terrorist is one man’s freedom fighter.” But at least bin Laden (American intervention), like the IRA (draconian British colonialism) or even the Weathermen (Viet Nam draft), based their rage on something tangible, despite building its violent grievances on lies.

I look to the Kennedy Assassination to find where people like the Proud Boys live. For years the main reason for delving into conspiracy theories about the murder of the president in broad daylight was not the shock of the incident but the idea that a bumpkin communist with an antiquated rifle could cut down the mighty Camelot. Now, unlike The Big Lie of 2020, there is ample evidence that there were shenanigans with that incident, however, it does not explain the initial and continued motivation to find out something more befitting the magnitude of this tragedy – it had to be more – a government plot, a mafia hit, a vengeance jag for Fidel Castro. This falls under the category of hero/godhead worship, but in a more socially foundational construct. The country is being taken away from us is the theory here. The “rally” that ignited the violence of 1/6 was titled “Save America”. These guys heeded that call to arms.

This is the core of the Capitol insurrection, which began the moment the former president did not accept defeat and decided to jack up the demented into providing a reason to unleash their grievances upon the symbol of American democracy, inviting them to the place of their eventual crimes, and finally allowing, even cajoling them to run amok as he tweeted inflammatory rhetoric condemning the vice president and anyone not buying into The Big Lie for one last media event. Finally, and most egregiously, is the ignoring of a call for the national guard to protect fellow Americans. That is something for the Senate to debate. But, let’s face it; there is little chance that committing political suicide is available to already feckless Republican sycophants who once called the former president a conman, liar, psychopath and nonetheless did his bidding to maintain power. These cretins get to keep their gig and make like nothing happened. Good for them.

But what about the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, Q-Anon suckers? They are arrested, humiliated, their lives ruined. They will do time for this. They’re losing their jobs, what good standing they may have perpetuated as a front for their extremism, and for what? A revolution? As horrific as January 6 was, that is one sad revolution. They are now criminals. Terrorists. Maybe martyrs for the cause – the ravaged butt end of The Big Lie? I wonder if they will be thinking of St. Peter’s last thoughts as they hung him upside down to die or St. Stephen’s bloody carcass lying beneath a torrent of stones. How did that all work out?

Not that I give a shit about any of these idiots, mind you. They’re adults. We all have to endure the consequences of our stupid shit, even though many of their lawyers are blaming this on all the brainwashing I covered above. You see, only presidents and rich people get away with stuff. These people are duly fucked and fucked for nothing. Nada. Bullshit. The ravings of a dung stain on history.

There is a lesson here. Maybe one person might read this and say, “Hey, the next time a stranger tells me something that only benefits his/her agenda, perhaps I should step back and think for myself before putting on a funny outfit and break shit and kill people or join some confusingly named group (come on, who doesn’t think of the Village People when you hear Proud Boys? You know you do). Politics, religion or cults are okay in their place. No point risking it all for any of it. Those things will fail you. Every time. And man, did the latest gaggle of the duped get jobbed on this one.

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THE GREAT VOTER MIGRATION

Aquarian Weekly
2/10/21

Reality Check

James Campion

THE GREAT VOTER MIGRATION 
& The Future of Southern Politics 

To celebrate Black History Month, I dedicate a column this week to a brilliantly prescient account of the present and future political climate in the United States as proffered by African American journalist, Charles Blow in his new bookThe Devil You Know – A Black Manifesto. Its central theme, already played out in the 2020 presidential election and again just last month in the heretofore red stronghold of Georgia, is a new “great migration”, this time in the opposite direction. Citing the Great Northward Migration or the Black Migration of the early to mid-twentieth century that saw six million African Americans leave the rural South to Northern urban centers, Blow posits that the shift Democrats were seeking after its subpar showing in the 2016 presidential elections in the Rust Belt to a new “southern strategy” might well tell the tale for coming generations.

“The proposition is simple,” writes Blow. “As many Black descendants of the Great Migration as possible should return to the South from which their ancestors fled, which are the true centers of power in this country, and as such control the lion’s share of the issues that bedevil Black lives: criminal justice, judicial processes, education, health care, economic opportunity and assistance.”

For Blow, this begins in the cities, the most economically thriving part of the new South, especially in its major metropolitan centers. In a 2018 Forbes report, the worst cities for Black Americans were found in the North from the Great Migration, whereas the majority of Black wealth was being realized in the South. More than one thousand of the nation’s twelve-hundred majority Black cities reside there, all of which are home to most of the nation’s Black-owned businesses and boast the most Blacks in local government.

This, of course, like all economic calling, including the first Great Migration, is where the direction of any racial, economic, or generational group will lead. It is the plot line of the American story.

Blow’s points, noteworthy in how the voting went in the past two election cycles but crucially in the most recent, is why The Devil You Know is perhaps the most important political theory book of the past two decades. It summarizes the foundation of the Black voter explosion that helped culminated in over eighty million votes for President Joe Biden, whose own flagging campaign was rescued by the Black vote in the Democratic Primary. Those numbers, already calculated among Democratic insiders, who tallied the most fervent support for the defeated Hillary Clinton four years earlier in the African American vote, measurably increased for Democrats in 2020, as it did also for Republicans. More young Blacks under the age of forty-four supported the losing party, thus allowing Republicans to outperform the top of the damaged ticket, leading many to surmise that the general numbers of a steady voting bloc were evident everywhere.

New Black voters… were lying in wait for the general election and to turn a reliable red state a deeper blue

Seeing how only eight percent of the Black vote routinely supports Republican candidates, the party has some work to do, but according to Blow’s research and reasoning this is ever more evident in the South, where a traditionally White voting bloc had shifted from Democrat in the early part of the previous century to Republican during the Civil Rights movement, resulting in the blowback against the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act signed into law by a Democratic president, Lyndon B. Johnson in the early 1960s. LBJ’s predecessor, also a Democrat, John F. Kennedy and his Justice Department, run by the president’s brother Robert, became the first administration to openly challenge the region’s draconian and racist Jim Crow laws. This led, as we know, to Richard Nixon’s shamelessly racist “Southern Strategy”, which fanned the flames of fear amongst white voters, and some Blacks as well, to the changes implemented by overzealous federal government interference. Nixon would win overwhelmingly for a Republican for the first time there and change regional politics for nearly half a century.

Despite overwhelming numbers for the African American community, due to voter suppression, violence, and corrupt police activities, it became ever more difficult for politicians to secure or count on Black support throughout the South. The shift changed in the early 1990s, as Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton began to solidify the heretofore silent Black vote to his advantage, and although he failed to win a popular vote average nationally, consolidated this constituency to gain two consecutive terms as president. However, the Democratic Party did not spend enough time and effort working that segment of their voter base, which ended up costing Al Gore a razor-thin election in 2000 and later another tight loss by John Kerry in 2004.

It was, of course, the electing of Barack Obama, the first Black candidate president in 2008 in which the greatest number of African Americans flocked to the polls. Obama became the first Democrat to win the presidency by a considerable margin since LBJ in 1964, but his party could not maintain that level of support in his re-election bid of 2012, despite securing a second term. Many political scholars cite a lack of faith in a true Southern breakout of Black votes.

This changed dramatically in 2020.

The most prevalent formation of this change was enacted by one of the most effective and powerful political minds of the past decade, Stacey Abrams, who while losing her bid for governor of Georgia in 2018, found formally silent Black voting blocs amidst the urban centers of Atlanta and Columbus. A former state legislator, lawyer and author, Abrams canvased Georgian counties for two years, expanding the base and registering record numbers of new Black voters. These were lying in wait for the general election and to turn a reliable red state a deeper blue, a blue that became solidified with the election of two senators in a January run-off, one of them a Black candidate.

Similar numbers were revealed in Arizona, another state the Republicans lost in 2020, much as the Dems lost Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania four years earlier, Black destination cities of Phoenix, Tucson and Tempe have shifted the balance of political power in the state, leading to inter-party fisticuffs just weeks ago when Martha McSally broke ranks with Republican pushing to overturn the 2020 election results – causing a restructure of the political landscape back to the state’s more racially divided roots. Blow believes, although a heavier lift, the influx of African American entrepreneurs entering the largest growing cities in America – Houston and Dallas in Texas, and Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina – will cause a dramatic shift in not only the political power structure but also a need for the Republican Party to either court this vote or expunge the white supremist underbelly currently battling for a majority voice in The Grand Old Party to remain relevant.

Blow’s book, while certainly political – I concentrated on his theory of economic migration to urban centers acting as Democratic strongholds, such as Detroit and Philadelphia in states Biden won back this cycle – it is more a study of the racial power structure in the second decade of the twenty-first century. This goes beyond, of course, winning elections, it proves Hunter S. Thompson’s, another great son of the South, axiom; “Politics is the art of controlling your environment.”

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