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Scott Brown Goes To Washington

Aquarian Weekly 1/27/10 REALITY CHECK

MR. BROWN GOES TO WASHINGTON How The Bluest State Threw Up The Red Stop Light On Health Care

Politics, like comedy, need not apologize. It just is. The victor has his story and the loser, the excuses. It is the way of The Vote. This has never been more evident than what transpired in Massachusetts over the nine days from mid-January to this past Tuesday in a Special Election to replace a senate seat someone with the name Kennedy had owned since Senator Scott Brown1952.

The general consensus among pundits and reactionaries is that The Cradle of Liberty spoke loudly against the current atmosphere in Washington DC, including whatever incoherent monstrosity now stands as a Health Care Bill in the House. The election results, as abruptly surprising as they were, while always being a referendum on national politics by rule, is never as clear a national message as advertised. But, just as what you find funny does not make it comedy, does it fail to be comedy when you do not laugh.

It just is.

Before those crucial nine days unfolded you couldn’t have picked the victor, Scott Philip Brown, a little known and relatively benign anti-tax, fairly socially liberal Republican state senator out of a line-up. By around January 13, Brown trailed his opponent, the state’s attorney general, Martha Coakley by a respectable but hardly noteworthy 15 to 18 points. In a solidly Blue State boasting its own progressive health care system, where people for decades voted overwhelmingly for a Liberal Lion of dubious moral construct that also happened to be a particularly staunch proponent of a national health care system, the idea that a populist anti-Democrat uprising was a-comin’ is a myth.

After all the Right Wing chest-pumping and end-zone dances subsided, the exit polls clearly showed an alarming exodus of Independents, 60 percent of which make up the true Massachusetts electorate, a majority of whom before some major gaffs and haughty rhetoric from Brown’s opponent were hardly galvanized by his truck-driving, regular-guy approach. The best you can say for the decisive Independent vote was much of it may have emerged from boredom after their beloved Patriots were unexpectedly booted from NFL play-off contention.

In those vital days between the Shoo-in and Toss-out, the Democratic candidate treated the campaign as everyone else beyond her opponent did, as if the election was an irritating weigh station to her seat. It apparently did not matter to Ms. Coakley or her staff that openly mocking the Red Sox, which comes in slightly ahead of Catholicism in religious fervor up there, or publicly complaining that it was too chilly to campaign was bad mojo in a hyper-provincial state loaded with insecure pride-mongers. Ted Kennedy, despite his shenanigans, knew how to make Bostonians and beyond feel like they were running the federal government. There is a reason why a drunken lout with a sense of familial entitlement won every election every time, whether drowning a woman or with a Republican in the governor’s chair.

Many exit polls revealed that it was the stagnation and incompetence of government not National Health Care that drove the Brown vote. What a truck-driving nudist and a half-baked lawyer do in Beantown should have no bearing.

In her last televised debate performance, Coakley sounded like a grim mutation of Caroline Kennedy and Sarah Palin when she seemed unsure if the United States had a continued military presence in Afghanistan. Then as the national spotlight began to shine on her shrinking lead, with millions of dollars pouring in from a suddenly giddy Republican National Committee and the president’s last-minute doomed-on-arrival rescue mission, she desperately went Dukakis in the saddest attempt to appear like she wasn’t a detached intellectual snob.

Only then did the prospect begin to take hold that National Health Care was in jeopardy. Brown and his staff, who had primarily run an Independent campaign, steering clear of the still-damaged Republican brand, smartly rammed home a populace message, taking the Ted Kennedy formula of reminding the otherwise apathetic voter that the world would be glued to and changed by the results, giving them succor for their hometown penis-envy by becoming The Story. Evidence of this is that not since 1990 had such an election drawn as many participants, and just like the record numbers that put Barack Obama in office in 2008 was later championed by Democrats, so did the Republicans rightfully paint their enthusiasm with an ideological brush.

But let’s face it, no one saw this coming, nor did anyone have any idea less than two weeks prior that it would be a national story, never mind a referendum or uprising. Anyone who said they did lies. When most of the country was caught up in the human and political implications of the Haiti earthquake or whether the House Majority leader was a racist, dummy or an old, inarticulate coot, the rumblings in what is generally considered the most liberal of states, was ignored.

The fact is the Democrats were hot and heavy on this Health Care thing from the get-go, even before Arlen Specter and Al Franken gave them a “Filibuster Proof” majority, just as the Democrats were hot and heavy on ending the Iraq occupation in ’06. That a one-state special election can crush federal legislation is media-generated, political party pabulum. If you cannot pass a bill with 59 Senators, a stranglehold on the House and a sitting president after one solid year of The Push, you either don’t want to or have no capacity to do so. Many exit polls revealed that it was the stagnation and incompetence of government not National Health Care that drove the Brown vote. What a truck-driving nudist and a half-baked lawyer do in Beantown should have no bearing.

Shame on the losers – and to the winners goes the bending of truths.

Irony of ironies, the Democrats brought this on themselves long before Teddy went belly-up. Thinking John Kerry, another gangbuster lifer senator from the state, was about to take the White House in 2004 and Republican governor Mitt Romney would appoint his replacement; they pushed hard for a “Special Election” to decide the post. And now, before his body is cold and a lifetime memory of fighting for national health care dwindles, a Republican newbie rides south to the nation’s capitol to warm the Kennedy seat.

Thus, what was at best the longest shot in federal legislation since the privatization of Social Security now appears to be what this space long predicted – dead. The Democrats Dog & Pony Show on Health Care, which as stated here and among friends and colleagues for years was always a pipe dream worthy of Lewis Carroll but made manifestly impossible in the feeble hands of self-flagellating procrastinators, is now fading fast. No one really wanted a national Health Care bill in Washington. If they did, if this president did, they would have used the most dominant congressional majority in a century to do it.

That’s either hilarious or tragic.

Or it just is.

 

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Barack Obama’s America: Year One

Aquarian Weekly 1/20/10 REALITY CHECK

BARACK OBAMA’S AMERICA: YEAR ONE

Change.

It was all the rage in 2008 and it sure came into clear, brutal view in 2009.

Barack Obama: Year OneNo one paying attention could imagine it emerging differently, not with the new guy resembling in no way the last forty-three guys, governing in no way like anyone since FDR, and facing a two-front war beneath one of the most damaged global economic meltdowns in history. Forget race, generation and a tinderbox political environment, rousing approval numbers and a mad scramble for a healthy slice of the New Democratic Party Power Pie; the second Barack Obama raised his hand to swear his oath as leader of the free world, there was change.

Success?

Yes.

Failure.

Of course.

Much of both. This is what comes with the territory. There is very little anyone can write coherently about the office and its times without the gray areas filling the spaces; this means the bluster, inconsistencies, and burps of conscience, the screw-ups and luck-outs, the hard choices and thankless sacrifices, and most of all the inevitable charges of hypocrisy. This was all in evidence in Barack Obama’s America: Year One.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, it was a bloody rebirthing of Liberalism, a renewal of Diplomacy and a staunch surrender to analytical stasis. It began in an explosion of populist fuel, bucking haphazardly into a zigzag of ideology, and ending in perhaps the final trumpet call across the fields of Hope.

Right from the start, the new president was uninterested in sweeping clean all that had come before. He continued his predecessor’s policies at home and abroad, choosing to retain George W. Bush’s most influential appointees, Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Chairman and Secretary of Defense. Robert Gates. The former helped continue the federal government’s emergency bank bailouts towards record numbers, stopping the hemorrhaging while further bloating the federal budget. The latter shifted the vagaries in the War on Terror onto the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan as candidate Obama had foretold.

These and other penalties against the Left and a failure to appease anti-Bush Independents like the sustained genuflecting to Wall Street, an apathetic view towards immediately closing down Gitmo, a refusal to put steadfast timelines on a withdrawal in Iraq, and most egregiously a closed-door policy in Congress’s Health Care debate – something candidate Obama repeatedly promised to keep transparent – torpedoed his once stratospheric approval ratings.

Where Obama may have lost the majority of independents and many of the moderate leftists is the inability for him to intercede where necessary with the zealots of his party, especially the House Speaker and its majority leader, both of whom conducted much of the Recovery Act as some kind of re-shifting of taxpayer charities into a spectacular sinkhole of pork.

Another tweak to Liberals was the president’s almost habitual if not half-hearted attempt at bipartisanship. Tanking on arrival, due to the almost complete dismantling of The Right following his entry into office, it never had a chance. Whoever was left to defend the fractured conservative movement would not go quietly. Its pathetic representation in government reduced the fringes of the Fourth Estate to exact vengeance, the rightful weapon of the loser. Thus the Birther-TEA Party-Town Hall masses began to take hold of the age-old debate on how much the government may be allowed to act in the reconstruction of our damaged republic, from environmental, moral to defense and wealth redistribution. Soon, as was the case in the last administration, much of the back-and-forth, which turned civil rights and proactive military action into charges of fascism and war crimes turned Keynesian economics into forced socialism and health care reform into death panels.

Lost to the general public and the consumers of the sporadic bilge, the massive takeover by the federal government of the banking system was not a choice but a reaction, much like most of what the former president was forced to face in the ensuing months after 9/11. What followed for the Bush Administration defined it for history, much like the months following the massive financial band-aid that kept the economic fabric of the planet from unraveling any further, the effects of which bloats unemployment numbers and still strikes fear in the American consumer, which is all that is left us as an economic power.

Where Obama may have lost the majority of independents and many of the moderate leftists is the inability for him to intercede where necessary with the zealots of his party, especially the House Speaker and its majority leader, both of whom conducted much of the Recovery Act as some kind of re-shifting of taxpayer charities into a spectacular sinkhole of pork. It was the same mentality that allowed the most important element of the president’s initial boatload of political capital to spring several leaks, causing the Health Care Reform Bill to inevitably become a flaccid shell of its original intent.

Then, as is the case with every president, an unforeseen moment shifts the general inclination of the man in the Big Chair. Such was what is now called the Christmas Terror Plot, which pushed to the fore a more assertive and fed-up Barack Obama, who launched an unflinching pronouncement of culpability from the CIA to the FBI to the rafters of Congress, unthinkable for a commander-in-chief in war time. The outburst caused veteran reporter David Broder to observe, “Obama’s benign leadership style had reached its limits”. And now one gets the feeling that although the White House would love for there to be a Health Care Bill by the time the president hits Capital Hill for his State of the Union Address, what may enter the hen house is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

One can only hope, but dare we?

Although the largest building in the country’s greatest city was not taken down by lunatics nor has the president handed over major legislation to his wife, Barack Obama’s America: Year One faced the cacophony like few have ever had to endure. Maybe there were far too many television appearances and weirdly apologetic speeches abroad, his cabinet filled with questionable character, there was also not a litany of expected speeches (only one actually hit home in an emergency session of congress that was too little too late) and truth be told much of his style has been more reticent than radical.

What the new guy is not is a New Politician. He is the same one we have seen before, making the same mistakes and settling on the same hard decisions that don’t always jibe with the far-reaching, inspirational sonnet of the “outsider”. And in the end, which is only the beginning, Barack Obama’s America: Year One may have taught us a lesson we already knew deep down; twelve months does not a term make.

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Why We Care About Tiger Woods

Aquarian Weekly 12/9/09 REALITY CHECK

WHY WE CARE ABOUT TIGER WOODS

Salad DaysI was sitting sipping Bahamian beer with my wife at Rum Runners and listening to an ominous storm front move across Pelican Bay when I first heard the news of Tiger Woods’ “car accident”. I had my back to a dusty television jammed precariously between what looked to me like a 1950s loud speaker and an over-sized pool cue rack, but the sound of my wife bellowing over the charmingly bad seventies rock and a tall ebony barkeep racing for the jukebox volume hushed the revelry for a moment. Suddenly the tinny echo of the CNN reporter’s solemn announcement filled the void. It was “serious”; he said over and over, prompting a corpulent woman from Tampa to gasp, “He’s dead!” Her companion, a gangly, mustachioed hippie with a cheap Hawaiian shirt removed the ragged straw hat from his sweaty head and sighed, “First Michael Jackson, now this.”

Indeed, my wife agreed, Jackson was dead, murdered by a quack with nerve gas and a secret celebrity code; his whereabouts unknown, because apparently no one cares anymore who or what killed the King of Pop, and soon, when they dredged Tiger’s remains from the Florida everglades, likely masticated beyond recognition from a surge of ravenous crocodiles, there will be little anyone will care about — troop levels in Afghanistan, National Health Care Reform, or the all-important Black Friday retail numbers, which would doubtless decide the immediate economic future of the Western world.

No, everyone within earshot agreed: even the slightest injury to Tiger Woods would be beyond devastating news.

Why?

For starters, Woods, as the skinny brunette twenty-something from Nashville reminded us, easily rates in the top five of planet earth’s most famous people; certainly its most recognized athlete. He is this generation’s Babe Ruth or Muhammad Ali, transcending his sport, his race, his culture, his very humanity. Hell, as the panting barkeep offered, “Anyone that has a goddamned logo with his initials on every type of clothing and has the balls to constantly wear the thing in public is like some kind of Superman.”

Yes, Tiger, the man for whom only one name may suffice, does wear a logo of his initials upon his head and emblazoned on his form-fitting golf shirts, making him without debate our latest Nietchzian Ubermensch; an almost pristine caricature of the modern American Adonis; a multi-racial, youth-driven, handsomely slender master performer of his craft, obsessed with victory and perfection and cashing in. Tiger, with his $100 million a year endorsements, his gorgeous blonde Viking wife and two adorable kids, GQ cover style and jet-setter decorum, seems so likable he can comfortably straddle the most difficult of dualities: Lovably unapproachable.

It was beginning to look like a feeding frenzy would not only be unleashed, but this time, for a change, merited.

Could a rare profitable commodity so utterly indestructible truly be dead? Could he actually be unable to continue to set impossible standards of performance in the highbrow, country-club caste-crazy game he dominates with apparent ease?

The entire episode and its barely decipherable details seemed to set a pall on the whole island for the entire next day, which would have kept any normal couple from setting aside a three-day marathon of substance abuse, but I am happy to report, hardly curtailed us. My wife despises golf, which she has more than once dubbed “an elitist self-flagellation” in sober moments and far lengthier and even less comprehensible mockery under the influence. I have little use for the sport, as I have not played since high school, but do recall more than a decade ago predicting on a local television panel of sports journalists run by my friend Michael Miner, now a major player in almost every New York area sports media outlet, along with the gentleman currently running Westchester County, that Tiger would be the most celebrated athlete of his time. My esteemed colleagues differed on their prognostications since at the time Woods had not yet hit a golf ball for a dime.

Needless to say Woods eclipsed even my loftiest expectations, as he did for everyone else paying attention, as we all were on Saturday morning; the wife and I, half-asleep and ornery from an extended stopover at Miami International Airport. Every television and newspaper was busy arousing suspicions and offering half-cocked commentary. Now it seemed the Thanksgiving 2:30 am “car accident” happened between his driveway and the adjacent curbside, with smashed windows and his wife “hovering” over his “barely conscious” body with (gulp!) a golf club.

It was beginning to look like a feeding frenzy would not only be unleashed, but this time, for a change, merited. This was no imaginary boy in a balloon or anonymous kid trapped down a well or sold into slavery by dog-fighting trainers, or rich gargoyles suckering other rich gargoyles out of their land-raping money, or the delicate nuances of drunken teenage pop stars exposing their genitalia. No. This was serious business, and it would not be ending soon.

Before long back in the States and at the control center here at The Desk, the information poured in fast and furious, some refuting and contradicting the earlier ones, others expounding on what could best be described as the most mishandled philandering and subsequent publicity fallout in recent memory.

Not one, but two major stories in the National Enquirer and Us Magazine surfaced with hardcore dates and voicemails and text messages between our beloved Tiger and some Las Vegas floozy. Then another sex kitten emerged, then retracted, then re-emerged, and all the while nothing from Tiger or his considerable “camp”. Soon the police would downplay the case as a “weird mishap” and voices from the other side of reason began defending the poor guy’s right to privacy, which by all measures of logic is usually sold down the proverbial river with the type of ridiculous celebrity attributed to the few and the brave and the stack of cash accompanying it.

My favorite comments came from athletes who claim that somehow explaining oneself to the press or to the fans is a “professional courtesy” and not an impetrative, as my long-lost sportswriter pal, Barry Stanton once mused to a coked-out Lawrence Taylor during a charity golf event, “No one pays top dollar to see you play football in the park with your pals.” Ironically, this exchange of intellectual lobbing was met with the wielding of a golf club fairly close to Stanton’s head. He escaped unharmed, but his point hit home.

Humans tend to be attracted to the subtext of almost every innocuous and banal subject, especially when it contains salacious details or dark secrets of the famous. But this is far different. And although Tiger eventually released a “statement of apology” and had come to accept his “transgressions” there is something infinitely intriguing about the indestructible reduced to indefensible. That is not just an American phenomenon, but mostly a human one.

I believe Tiger would have a better “Leave me alone, this is a private matter” defense if he didn’t revel in his Master Of The Universe persona and didn’t profit immensely from it, just as the case could not be defended seriously when the president of the United States used the people’s property and time to diddle on his spouse.

But no president, not even the current Super Cool one — also a multi-racial handsome, youth figure, who is constantly on public as well as political trial — has been as popular as Tiger Woods for the past decade-plus. Only he, perhaps the amiable Peyton Manning in football and certainly the smooth Derek Jeter in baseball approach his level of sports persona earning power. In another ironic twist the multi-racial Jeter, fresh from a renaissance season and a fifth World Series title, was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year this week.

Hey, if Jeter’s teammate, the enigmatic Alex Rodriguez can go from tar-and-feathered steroid cheat, choker outcast, to World Champion hero class-act teammate in six months, what can Tiger Woods do with this nugget of personal “self-flagellation”? You see, in the end, there will always be someone somewhere who will offer the argument that we just love to build ’em up and knock ’em down, but then they ignore the fundamental beauty of a free society; that it provides a platform to which those can build themselves up with the always thorny opportunity to come down easy or hard.

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The Sins Of Pakistan

Aquarian Weekly 5/27/09 REALITY CHECK

THE SINS OF PAKISTAN How Sovereignty & Absinthe Will Defeat The Taliban Once & For All

A victory in the fight against terrorism is in fact a guarantee for the security and protection of our coming generations. – Pakistani Prime Minsiter Yusuf Raza Gilani

It has been a dormant fifteen days since I emerged from the dark voodoo-drenched tanks in the black heart of the French Quarter, where One For The Roadnow instead of begging the kitchen help for sweet absinthe, one can purchase a glass over the bar for eighteen American, complete with a tourist-seducing fire show. Traditionally, the French frown on such activities, but this has never stopped me from blazing my own goodly share of sugarcane, and as it turned out the lovely barkeep at the Old Absinthe House on the Rue de Bourbon hailing from the suburbs “just north of Paris” exhibited the right accent and deft of wrist to best apply the ice water where needed. These flashpoints from hazy days lost in New Orleans may appear random to the untrained eye, until one realizes from time to time you need companionship when summoning the Green Fairy, and I have been blessed over the years with many a hale and hearty volunteer, but on this night it happened to be an Italian accountant from Brooklyn, NY and a former member of the Israeli Defense Force by way of Manhattan.

The accountant had come less for the wormwood than the music, as did my dearest brother-in-arms, Buzz and his engagingly erudite woman, both of whom had stayed at the hotel after weird vibrations from deceased authors took hold. This could not be properly explained then and I shall respect this edict now. As for my new Israeli friend, he was happy to discuss his mandatory “three-year duty” but was not as forthcoming about the sordid details of the World’s Finest Fighting Force, however we both agreed on two very important points; the drink and the company were pretty fine and the Pakistan Army will crush the Taliban and speedily make nice what the U.S. military and its befuddled intelligentsia have screwed royally in the deserts of Iraq. This, we also agreed, would bring about serious and debilitating setbacks to the misguided clusterfuck that represents the radical Islamic revolution against the Saudi Empire and its benefactors, Uncle Sam.

This may be a lot to digest in two paragraphs, but there is no sane way to quickly describe being half out of one’s head on finely distilled Roquette 1797 while confronting the kind of naked truths best kept hidden from “normal” Bourbon Street revelers. Yes, my friend assured me, the Pakistani Army would not only expunge the rag-tag revolutionary horde from its Afghanistan border, but also “gut the entire operation” – again, I reminded him, a job we failed to accomplish seven long years ago.

Leave it up to the Experienced Intelligence Community in the District of Columbia to wonder how a trained fighting force, familiar with the enemy – since most of them were created by the Pakistan government to combat the ever-present threat of neighboring India – can be properly motivated.

We agreed once more that after enjoying a three-to-one ratio of men and ten-to-one in arms and cash, the highly motivated Pakistani forces will win the day, but alas fail to find Osama bin Laden among the defeated, for he has long been slain, dismembered and carefully planted along the mountainous region to keep the terrible Western Devil from apprehending him like a common criminal; de-liced on cable television and sent to the gallows like his sworn enemy, Saddam Hussein. But they will find hundreds of acres of poppy growth and chemical plants feeding the western world its taste of the Brown Master or H or as the physicists call it, diacetylmorphine. It is better known to the rest of us as Heroin.

While Pakistan hails the United States as its most cherished ally in the pursuit of “radical militants”, their enemy hails the same country as one of its best customers. It is the export of heroin that built the Taliban in the first place, not the oft-cited dedication to the Qur’an or any half-baked Jihad or parades of virgins awaiting the fallen in the afterlife. No, it’s the glorious god poppy that has put them on the map and sent them foolishly into battle with a nation heretofore obsessed with the dangers of their Hindu neighbors in India.

Not surprising, our half-assed “dismantling” of the original Taliban has reared its ugly head again, but not as surprising, even with a new commander-in-chief aboard, is the U.S.’s critique of Pakistan for “not being proactive enough in battling militants who are launching attacks from a swath of tribal areas”, despite, of course, the $10 billion handed over to former U.S. puppet, Pervez Musharraf to dick around like an Anglo-aristocrat for most of the last decade. Now he is gone, under suspicion of conspiracy to murder and other formally forgivable sins, as his successors are left to play the no-mercy IDF game. Musharraf predictably claims this will “backfire”, but anyone on the ground with any real experience with desert fighters disagree.

I learned back on ’96 to trust a member of the IDF when it came to not fucking around. This is the credo I made clear to my contacts at the Jerusalem Post in October of 2001 when I received several and varied e-mails fingering Iraq as the “bankrolling of 9/11 and the single most crucial target” in the terrorist vengeance jag we were all going to be on for the next few years. And I assured my new friend that not one of those journalists were from Texas, as he assured me that when a nation is put on alert to a gang of religious marauders breathing down its fractious democratic sovereignty, there is no use diddling around with the vagaries of an “exit strategy”. Leave it up to the Big Bad White House Chess Club to deconstruct a country defending its capitol and its nuclear arsenal.

Leave it up to the Experienced Intelligence Community in the District of Columbia to wonder how a trained fighting force, familiar with the enemy – since most of them were created by the Pakistan government to combat the ever-present threat of neighboring India – can be properly motivated.

Just the same, New Orleans is far enough away from Washington and something resembling reality to offer a more complete view of how things will go now that people who have a real stake beyond oil and strategic allies are in charge of this War On Terror. All one has to do is ask the statue of Andrew Jackson set in a vast park at the north end of The Quarter, a testament to what a motivated fighting unit can do when its cities are on the brink.

It was, however, more than an epiphany to realize all of America’s most cherished goals for most of the 21st Century’s first bloody decade has centered on crushing this so-called al Qaeda by way of the Taliban, somewhat sidetracked by the Iraq War and the gory circus hatched on the Middle East. But we were stupid and naïve then, a tough combination when dealing with Naked Truths, whether hyped up on a Euro liquid dream stomper on a balmy Friday night by the mighty Mississippi or rolling out field maps for the Pentagon Press.

Turns out Commander Bush had it right before 9/11; let the damned desert people figure this thing out for themselves.

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Corporate Lunacy In The Wake Of Katrina

Aquarian Weekly 9/20/06 REALITY CHECK

CHING-CHING, CASH IN ON TRAGEDY! Part II Aggressive Accounting, Money-Grabs, & The Future Of New Orleans

New OrleansIn Part II of our interview with Rita J. King on her investigative report, Big, Easy Money: Disaster Profiteering On The American Gulf Coast for CorpWatch (corpwatch.org), we uncover more greed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina: Corporate feeding frenzies leading to the fleecing of the unfortunate and the jobbing of the lazy federal government, which, in turn, fleeces us in the tax game, and learn how the these crimes could eventually bury the beauty and tradition that was once New Orleans.

These “business practices”, while being sneaky and rotten, are pretty much expected as shenanigans as usual. The question must be then, is all of this unethical behavior technically illegal?

It’s not necessarily illegal, but it clearly demonstrates the degree to which laws are set up to favor corporations. At a certain point you have to say it’s not a matter of politics, or anything other than the obvious fact that the greater good is not being served. I am not prepared to completely blame corporations for that – they’re playing a game. It’s called capitalism. I understand that. But if the system isn’t working, this is how empires crumble. In the history of the world, I’m not sure there’s ever been a civilization that has recognized its own demise in time to do anything productive to avoid the calamity.

Taxpayers need to know that the Army Corps of Engineers, Bechtel and Halliburton, among others, are using the same contract vehicles in the Gulf Coast as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq. They need to know that there are indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity open-ended contingency contracts being used on the Gulf Coast to squeeze out local companies, and cost-plus contracts that allow them to collect a profit on everything they spend, which really gives them an incentive to overspend. The report lays out the astronomical charges in detail. The American people need to read it.

“It’s not just that it’s expensive to get things done, we’re throwing billions of dollars at things that are not getting done – it’s wasteful, it’s disgusting, and how can we really expect the rest of the world to believe we’re interested in preserving their respective cultures, if we’re willing to decimate our own?

After all this research and investigation, what is your final assessment of these repeated money-grabs? Will they eventually bleed taxpayers and/or the federal government dry and consequently stall the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast or New Orleans specifically?

Corporate law requires that corporations put profit above everything else. People need to keep that in mind. The law is subject to the people. If people don’t like their taxes to skyrocket and their money to be squandered they must act. It’s not just that it’s expensive to get things done, we’re throwing billions of dollars at things that are not getting done – it’s wasteful, it’s disgusting, and how can we really expect the rest of the world to believe we’re interested in preserving their respective cultures, if we’re willing to decimate our own?

I wonder, in the absence of the minority voices, whose master plan to rebuild will be followed. The Louisiana Recovery Authority is coming up with a master plan, but in whose image? What are the values being used? It’s very unclear. It is one of the most precious regions in this country for its cultural diversity. You can’t rebuild what was already there, but you can value the history. I think the single most important characteristic of the rebuilding effort needs to be a creative approach to synthesizing the past to build a viable future.

Ironically, I watched a documentary on the rich and mysterious history of New Orleans only a few weeks before the devastation, and it was one of the first things I thought of, how much of it will be washed away inevitably?

When the early French settlers came to New Orleans, they almost perished from the heat, and so they brought in slaves from Ghana, because the climates are so similar, and the slaves wove into the wrought-iron gates of the city a symbol called the Sankofa, which still stands today. It is a heart with spirals on the inside and the outside and it means – which Bob Marley immortalized in his wonderful, “No Woman/No Cry”; “In this great future, you can’t forget your past.” You can’t rebuild unless you take the past into account. I believe the image of the Sankofa should stand as the pervasive symbol of the entire rebuilding effort of New Orleans.

But will it ever be rebuilt – physically, culturally, or symbolically?

The future of the city is uncertain, but I question the wisdom of rebuilding it in an area where the levees haven’t been improved. Climatologists are predicting increased ferocity in weather patterns in the near future. So rebuilding in this climate has to be undertaken with the utmost caution.

You’re talking planning, wisdom and compassion, so my humble guess is it will never be rebuilt.

Well, will it be rebuilt to my utopian vision? No. But it will be rebuilt to someone’s vision, and as such I think people need to keep a sharp focus on this process. We’ve been given an unprecedented opportunity here to look at our values, and the manner in which this rebuilding process is accomplished says something about the lives of every American. So people can hash out their ideas of American values until they’re red, white, blue in the face, but if they do not take a step back and realize this is the defining gesture of our lifetime, how we rebuild the Gulf Coast, then there is the risk it can be inevitably turned into a Mardi Gras theme park.

Really, what it comes down to is there’s something different about that place, and if we lose it, it will be a huge victory for homogenization.

Besides the public, or those who go to the Corpwatch web site, who is going to see this report?

The 20,000-word report is available with photographs online, in PDF format, and it’s also available as a pamphlet, the size of a magazine, which has been disseminated to most major media, and I believe it will be given to all congressional representatives. We are hoping to do a book, because, to my knowledge, CorpWatch is the only not-for-profit organization that has trailed Homeland Security’s spending since its inception. CorpWatch has written reports on spending in Afghanistan, Iraq, an alternative Halliburton report, and now this. All of it can be viewed on their site.

For more on the report and Rita J. King’s continued investigative journalism, please visit: ritajking.com

Part I: Corporate Lunacy in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina

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Mideast Crisis Dissected Soberly

Aquarian Weekly 8/2/06 REALITY CHECK

DOGPILE ON THE LOONS Al-Qaeda Gets On Board The Crazy Express

It is a jihad for the sake of God and will last until our religion prevails … from Spain to Iraq, we will attack everywhere. – Ayman al-Zawahri

Ayman al-Zawahri Yada. Yada. Yada.

The above statement was uttered from another pathetic sack of shit from another “secret remote location” somewhere in the desert. Another in a tired series of “Notice Me!” nonsensical prattle from displaced mutants streamed over Al-Jazeera television. “Coming up next after ‘Camel Races from Qatar’ another anti-Semitic rant from your friends at al-Qaeda! Take it away, Skip!” – “Tyrannical Western Civilization! Blessed Allah! Death! Vengeance! Holy this! Sacred that! Blah. Blah. Blah.” Retread. Cry wolf. Really sad.

The latest grainy and haunting video of a riled-up Ayman al-Zawahri comes complete with images of the World Trade Center burning and a portrait of Mohammed Atef hanging dramatically behind him. Trouble is Atef has been dead since November of 2001, and well, 9/11 was a few months prior to that and nearly five years ago now. I’m no trend-spotter and I rarely check the pop culture meter to see what’s hot and what’s not, but seems to me like we have ourselves a washed-up entity trying desperately to hone in on the new hot commodity: Hezbollah.

Let’s face it; al-Qaeda has a little David Lee Roth thing going on.

Much to the chagrin of the bin Laden clan, Hezbollah is front-page news right now. They have managed something the PLO, Hamas, and even their own hate-mongering coffee klatch could not accomplish – wake the sleeping lion Israel. That had to raise the collective ire over in the caves of Afghanistan: “We’re the baddest! We’re the tops on the terrorist hit list! Remember Spain? Remember London? What about 9/11? Look over here! Despise us! Shower us with fear!”

This is the fatal flaw in being a revolutionary; you have to matter. You have to be in the spotlight. It’s over for al Qaeda. They had their time. No one wants to hear from Ayman al-Zawahri anymore than they want to “Get Jiggy”. It’s over. Time to hate someone who matters.

Okay, so now, predictably, al-Qaeda has thrown its turban into the ring over this IDF kill-fest. Why not? Anytime anything happens anywhere in the terrorist realm they take credit. We even talk about this has-been clique as if it is still a threat, in and of itself. Truth is al-Qaeda is so 2001. Give it up. The whole thing reminds me of Britney Spears, who was at her nubile jail-bate best in ’01, and is now an ebony-quaffed pregnant white-trash harpy.

These guys cling to 9/11 as some kind of super-victory. C’mon already, 9/11 was a half-decade ago. Sarah Silverman is even goofing on it now: “American Airlines should advertise they were ‘first through the towers’.” If it weren’t for the Bush Administration or Ann Coulter it would be ancient history by now. This reminds me of driving down Northern Blvd. in 1993 and seeing an aging sign celebrating the 1986 Mets. Enough already. Let’s see some action and less yapping from these idiots.

What have you done to us lately?

“Stand with Muslims in confronting this unprecedented oppression and tyranny,” al-Zawahri continued. “Stand with us as we stand with you against this injustice that was forbidden by God in his book.”

Notice the desperate cry for attention to cash in, connect his merry band of yesterday’s news with the current crisis: “Stand with Muslims?” “Stand with us?”

Muslims = Us. This is akin to the Jerry Falwells of the world talking about their voodoo shit as if their myopic fantasies gel with the rest of Christendom.

This is the fatal flaw in being a revolutionary; you have to matter. You have to be in the spotlight. It’s over for al Qaeda. They had their time. No one wants to hear from Ayman al-Zawahri anymore than they want to “Get Jiggy”. It’s over. Time to hate someone who matters.

Now Al Jazeera is another kettle of trout. They are a happening media event right now. Go where the action is, that’s what I say.

To that end I recently contacted the advertising department of the station through Allied Media, which makes a pretty convincing argument about placing your ad campaign in their hands: “Al Jazeera is the largest and most controversial Arabic News Channel in the Middle East, offering news coverage 24 hours a day from around the world and focusing on the hottest regions of conflict. With programming focusing primarily on news coverage and analysis, the station has earned the loyalty of a large audience. It has also earned the enmity of various critics who argue that Al Jazeera is overly sensational, with a bent on showing bloody footage from war zones as well as giving coverage to violent groups. Criticism from varied governments has helped the channel garner credibility from an audience that is used to government-imposed censorship and biased coverage.”

Hottest regions of conflict! Excellent. The spirit of fighting censorship has always been something of a lifestyle for me. Al Jazeera turns negative publicity into gold! It’s like the new Eminem, who has also gone the way of spandex and Rubik’s Cube. Not to mention the ability to reach 40 million radicals in the Arab world and 175,000 in the U.S. alone.

So after a lengthy discussion with a Mr. M. Saout – he never did reveal what the M stands for – on my repeated failures with working within and without the vagaries of the publishing industry and the continued fuck-ups of my current distributor/publisher, Airleaf and the Phenix & Phenix Publicity troupe, I pitched the idea of plugging my next book to radical Muslims and funding a documentary on the primacy of Moses in the history of the Holy Land and why Islam is pretty much an hilariously formulated hoax.

Surprisingly, he was not receptive. Reminded me of my battles with Simon & Schuster ten years ago. He even used the same response: “This will not fly here.”

Therefore I urge all of my readers to pitch your own brand of entertainment to Al Jazeera now. You can reach Allied Media in Alexandria, VA at (703) 333 2008, or e-mail them now at aljazeera-tv@allied-media.com.

Just don’t suggest any of the following. They have all already been forcefully rejected:

The Mohammad Variety & Laff Hour

Stripping – Women out of their burkas and into your heart

The Osama Corpse Cam

Good Morning What’s Left of Beirut!

Celestial Virgins Are Overrated

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Condoleezza Rice Spins

Aquarian Weekly 3/23/05 REALITY CHECK

CONDEE SPINS ETERNAL

Secretary of ShiteI feel for Condoleezza Rice. I really do. I like her. I think she is by far the smartest and most sincere of the wild and wooly Bush Cabal. And as allegedly misguided as she was along with everyone else at the helm before 9/11, I believe she was just another sad symptom of the illusion this country’s government had lived under since the end of the Cold War.

But it pains me to see her eat shit the way she has time and again in front of the American press, the international press and a host of world leaders. Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State, could no longer eat the shit. This is why he is gone. But Rice auditioned well for the job during the 9/11 hearings when she went toe-to-toe with Democratic senators on “what the big boys knew and when they knew it”, prancing deftly around facts and timelines that showcased her considerable mettle and loyalty to the cause by gobbling massive quantities of excrement and emerging as a martyr for the good and true.

Don’t get me wrong; Secretary of State is a pretty good reason to eat shit. Hillary Clinton feasted on the stuff just to be first lady. Most people do it to keep a mid-level gig in some faceless corporation. Secretary of State is a few heartbeats from the presidency and comes with a cachet rarely, if ever bestowed upon intellects. Former recent secretaries like Henry Kissinger (Nixon’s savage bombing of Cambodia), Cyrus Vance (Carter’s disastrously planned rescue attempt of the Iran hostages) and George Shultz (Reagan’s Iran/Contra fiasco) gorged on the dung. Piles of it. And not one of them is getting into to heaven for it.

But I was not particularly fond of any of these gentlemen, and I never got the willies as I do now watching sweet Condoleezza parade these spin doctored fabrications around the globe like a jabbering marionette. It is sad and disturbing and I can no longer abide it quietly.

To wit:

On the leading candidate for Iraqi Prime Minister, Ibrahim Jafari, a “former” terrorist (former terrorist like being kinda pregnant or sorta dead) and well-known American foreign policy dissenter (a nice way of saying “hates us”) Rice has been laughably extolling his virtues to defend the purported democratic process. Last week Rice stated that Jafari “will be a fighter in the war on terrorism”, which is completely antithetical to the profile the CIA is willing to cop to and just plain silly talk.

The fact is a toad like Jafari and the predominant Shiite presence in the Iraqi democratic process creates another sort of anti-American political conundrum for the current administration. This is why falling back on the “fighting for the freedom of Iraqis” fable following the flop of the “US threat and WMD” song and story leads to wider problems. Not the least of which is Iran, considered among many US officials for close to a decade as the “real enemy”, now developing a nuclear bomb with no counterbalance from a weakened Iraq.

Oh what a tangled web we weave…

Concerning the uprising against Syrian troops stationed in Lebanon, a fishy stage show reminiscent of CIA-instigated protests in Central America for three decades and a cheap political attempt by the Bush administration to label a “victory for freedom”, and the subsequent mass retort provoked by the terrorist all-stars known as Hezbollah, Rice is coy. At once she manages to denounce Hezbollah as a “rogue terrorist outfit threatening to the United States” while responding to its legitimate political power recognized by the UN as a shoulder-shrugging downside of the democratic process. Rice knows well the powder keg that is Lebanon, and to spin a freedom march from the obvious seeds of another likely bloody civil war is so patently ridiculous not even this loose canon president is dumb enough to sell it.

Rice’s dance of the absurd is in lock step with the fantasy this administration has concocted since its many-layered theory of war two years ago in Iraq.

Truth is Lebanon has been, and always will be a breeding ground for anti-Israeli fervor. Syria’s military presence, while abhorrent to the new and improved Middle East freedom chatter of this government, is a necessary evil for the security of Israel and American concerns there. Despite Syria’s disdain for Israel, ironically, after years of horror in Beirut, the Syrians brought order and managed to expunge the IDF, leading to immense popularity and more than a little anti-American sentiment. But there was also a sense of lockdown, sovereignty, and protection. Left to its own devices, the Lebanese could prove more troublesome to US efforts in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict than most know, except Condoleezza Rice. She knows.

Rice’s recent appearance on “Meet The Press” had her chewing on chunks of crap when faced with the administration’s proposed appointment of a lunatic like John Bolton to ambassador of the United Nations. “He has a wealth of experience in UN affairs”, Rice told Tim Russert, which is tantamount to saying Michael Jackson is familiar with children. Bolton, known inside the Beltway as Bush’s Pit Bull, has publicly mocked the UN, calling it, among other undiplomatic descriptions, “obsolete”. Yet Bush, after grandstanding international unity all over Europe last month to help pay for the Iraq money pit, is sending this maniac into the cauldron of a corrupt and bitch-slapped conglomerate reeling with a lethal dose of figureheaditis. Rice, for her part, is rubber-stamping Bolton as “a very important part of my team.”

Anyone who listens to Bolton for 30 seconds knows he is an ass. He is the worst kind of myopic bully, the type of ideologically rabid monster this space warned against should Bush continue to run amok around this planet. If he is unleashed on the international scene he will no doubt be an embarrassment to an already yawping farce, and it is disconcerting to me that a brilliant and normally even-handed Condoleezza Rice has to vouch for it.

…when first we practice to deceive.

Rice’s dance of the absurd is in lock step with the fantasy this administration has concocted since its many-layered theory of war two years ago in Iraq. This maze of circular logic unleashed on the American public is so convoluted in patriotic pap by now it defies definition. Alas, Condee rides the dragon, and I feel for her.

In the spirit of this thorny trap, Rice has taken to calling the current opium-rich, unprecedented production of drugs in Afghanistan (described haughtily as a victory in freedom during the presidential campaign) as “a narcotics problem”. Yes, and Anne Boleyn had a headache. She also dubs Korea a “willing negotiator” sounding more and more everyday like Chamberlain handing Hitler Eastern Europe on a platter.

I have found it in my heart to forgive Rice for trying to tame this monstrosity, the way I gave Powell the benefit of several doubts before he went off the rails at the UN with tall-tales that embroiled this country in a bankrupt police action under questionable pretenses. My leash, irresistibly short for the authors of this mess, is longer for bureaucrats of the system, but for sweet Condoleezza and the looking glass on Pennsylvania Avenue, the slack is tightening.

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Kerry/Bush Debate

Aquarian Weekly 10/6/04 REALITY CHECK

Campaign 2004 HALF-TRUTHS & SOUND BITES An Experiment On The First Presidential Debate

Rich, White Boys“Yes, we have to divide our time between our politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever.” – Albert Einstein

The presidential candidates almost killed my cats last night. Grievances and morality aside, it was a fair experiment in semantics and responsive electroshock suggested by several Desk members and carried out beneath the angry protests of my wife, who, despite being a woman of science, could not fathom its goals. But it is a presidential election year, and there will be causalities, and I could not be expected to sit through 90 minutes of the rich white Yalies yammering on about how they plan on carving up the planet and restructuring cultures under the guise of “protecting” the United States without some sort of interaction.

It should be noted that I asked neighboring parents for human volunteers, but instead of allowing their children a chance to escape video games and pouting to be part of an educational endeavor many chose to call the cops. It was an obvious indictment on our community’s stunted evolution in thought that needs to be dissected in future columns, but, alas, this is a state that mocked Thomas Edison and then named towns and counties after him.

The experiment, headed by noted scientist and close friend, Doctor Cunliffe Merriwether, author of the exciting new book, “Quitting Science”, was two-pronged. Firstly, any candidate merely using the exercise of debate to spew the usual campaign rhetoric would send a mild shock to the ears of each cat. Our female cat, Mazzy was hooked up to the Kerry Meter. The male cat, Gueem was attached to wires under the Bush Battery. Both were dialed into hardware carefully designed by the hard working kids at Fairleigh Dickinson University (the Teaneck campus). The second penalty was for an error in facts while advancing an argument. This was a lethal component and nearly led to divorce, but luckily, as you will see, stretching the truth and playing with numbers did not get the felines fully singed, only slightly so.

In its most basic form the experiment, if not the debate, proved two things: The participants and their allies are hoping we don’t pay attention to detail, and my cats now cringe when shown a picture of either candidate.

It should also be noted that these college kids consider themselves “dog people” and are not planning on voting, or voting for Ralph Nader, which many consider the same thing. I do not concur with this defeatist attitude, but then again I was torturing my pets merely to compile material for a column, so who knows?

A third penalty was not agreed upon by my wife or even the hearty members of our experimental group, a searing shockwave if either candidate went over the allotted time designated by a 30-page Debate Commission rule book amazingly agreed upon by the Kerry attorneys, considering the bluster of their candidate. But, it turned out, having flashing green-yellow-red lights on the podium kept these crisp orators from blathering forth, and, I think, provided a nice Game Show kind of feel to the otherwise dry proceedings.

The following are the results of the experiment and apparently clear evidence that if not for my wife constantly switching to the NY Yankees winning the American League East title throughout the broadcast, the life of my cats were in serious jeopardy.

Doctor Merriwether insisted on my offering the results of the second phase of the experiment first for it “best postulates doom for the system.”

Gueem shuttered violently when the president, defending his half-assed military campaign in Afghanistan, claimed on three separate occasions that 10 million Afghanis had registered to vote. However, the Human Rights Watch this week proved that figure inaccurate because of the illegal multiple-voter registration and rabid human rights abuses fueled by a pervasive atmosphere of repression and fear throughout the country.

Poor Mazzy, already cranky with wires attached to her little head, was screeching terribly when John Kerry suggested that the United States has spent $200 billion on Iraq. Technically the senator was in the ballpark when cleverly factoring in expected spending by the end of 2005, but hardly near the actual, but already outrageous sum of $120 billion. And apparently, much to the chagrin of Pottery Barn spokespeople, there is no “You break it, you own it” rule to which Kerry bungled anyway, by stating, “You break it, you fix it” falsely attributed to something Colin Powel told the president in the ponderously tiresome Bob Woodward tome, “Plan of Attack.”

Other half-truths and bold-faced lies included the George W. Bush’s insistence that there are 30 countries in the war coalition, when half a dozen have already bolted, and the disingenuous suggestion that Poland was involved during the invasion when they were only part of what has become the interminable clean-up, policing affair. Also, the president’s insistence that 100,000 Iraqis have been trained to fight on the coalition’s side is wishful at best. According to a widely recorded statement by Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi last week, only 50,000 Iraqi troops would be ready by the proposed January election.

Kerry erroneously claimed weapons of mass destruction crossed the Iraqi border every day. Zap!

Bush claimed 75% of al Qaeda was gutted, despite CIA reports in August that just 66% of the original members responsible for 9/11 were apprehended or killed while more than twice as many have joined forces since the Iraq occupation. Buzz!

Finally, both candidates, expecting most Americans to have little to no idea what’s transpiring in North Korea or Russia threw facts to the wind in a drunken abuse of reality. Bush charged that Kerry’s proposal to have direct talks with North Korea would end the six-nation diplomacy that the administration has pursued over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and cause China to withdraw. Zap! Truth is four of the countries have already held extensive talks with North Korea during the six-party process and China has publicly called for the U.S. to conduct open negotiations with the rogue state. Kerry lost his mind for a moment when he claimed to have visited a place he called Treblinka Square in Russia years ago when no place exists. Buzz! Treblinka was a Nazi death camp in Poland during WWII, not a salient geographical location to the present debate.

But even I had to step in and end the madness when the Buzz Word/ Mission Statement part of the experiment got out of hand. From the beginning both candidates used questions and issues to set up their repetitive campaign jargon like Bush’s mantra that his opponent sends a “mixed message”, a phrase he used no less than seven times, while Kerry drove home the words, “mislead or misjudge” some 11 times.

Thanks goes to MSNBC’s David Shuster for providing these crucial final tallies. He also wanted me to point out that he made several calls to the ASPCA to report us.

Just imagine yourself getting a little electric charge on the ear every time pre-programmed politicians use the same damn expression.

When discussing his expensive and questionable strategies in this ever-popular War on Terror, Bush used the words Threat and/or Protect American people 16 times, Free or Freedom a whopping 35 times, Strong 12 times, Hard Work seven times, and Progress five times. John Kerry, driving home this fantasy that any country not already involved in this Iraq mess would be willing to follow his pitch, used the words Alliance 12 times, Plan 17 times, Change Direction seven times, and Safer five times.

In its most basic form the experiment, if not the debate, proved two things: The participants and their allies are hoping we don’t pay attention to detail, and my cats now cringe when shown a picture of either candidate.

Pavlov be damned.

P.S. For those slow on the take, the above is satire. No cats, especially my spoiled felines, were harmed for this column. However, its liberal pushing of the deadline might piss off my copy editor, Terry.

P.P.S. Unfortunately the bluster and lying by candidates is no joke.

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George Bush, Diseased Gambler

Aquarian Weekly 4/21/04 REALITY CHECK

HIGH STAKES – BAD BREAKS The Bush Doctrine of Manic Gambling

“It’s the action, kid. The action.” – Jimmy The Greek

Bush Rolls Dice For PressAbout halfway through the president’s impromptu CYA (cover yo ass) press conference this past Wednesday, I could clearly see the telltale signs of a rabid gambling addict. The glassy-eyed unwavering commitment to “stay the course” despite heavy losses, the implausible denial-speak that it would be worse not to have played the hand, and the remarkably stubborn inability to admit a mistake. I know these signs. I’ve been there. Trust me.

“I know it’s been a bad couple of weeks for us in Iraq,” remarked our president. “No one likes to see dead people on television, but we’re going to finish the work of the fallen.”

I feel for Captain Shoe-In. He is in over his head. Badly. But he cannot and will not stop. I could see it in his resolve, hear it in the quivering of his voice, and feel it in my bones. This is one Texan who is going all the way, staying at the table and waiting for the once-in-a-lifetime straight flush, banking on nailing the Trifecta, or biding his time until Monday Night Football. As long as the bookie answers the phone, there’s a chance. This is why wars, like casinos, run 24-hours.

“If additional forces are needed, I will send them,” the president announced during his opening statement. “If additional resources are needed, we will provide them. This government will do all that is necessary to insure the success of their mission.”

Whether you are for him or against him, backed the war in Iraq or opposed it, you must admit that it was a gamble from the start. Even the president broached it several times during his disturbing performance Wednesday. He had to be bold and aggressive and not wait around for an imminent threat. He was going on a hunch, got an airtight inside tip from spies and foreign intelligence. Saddam Hussein and Iraq was and would continue to be a threat to this nation, another in a long line of murderous thugs laying in wait for the right time to hit us again.

It was as if he were trying to convince himself after awhile. The time is now. Must invade. Put a scare into the troublemakers. Ramp up the war on terror. Shake up the order of things. Shock and Awe. Easy in. Easy out. Show the world we are not to be bullied.

“We will succeed in Iraq,” the president boldly pronounced. “We’re carrying out a decision that has already been made and will not change.”

George W. Bush gambled. Presidents do that. Some come away triumphant and end up with their likeness on currency or pitched in some heroic statuesque stance encased in a monument somewhere. Others eat shit. This particular president is somewhere in the middle and he knows it. Too late to turn back now. As long as he has his money in the middle of the table with the slimmest shot to get even, maybe even walk away with a big pot and buy breakfast for his sleep-deprived, cigar reeking pals, he’s letting it ride.

The White House Press, once a prestigious gig, now reduced to a human Iditerod, will never understand this. You don’t learn about social diseases from journalism professors. You have to live it out in the trenches, put down the rent on a long shot and bite your knuckles if you want to know a hearty soul like George Bush. The group effort to ask the same question 17 times wasted 40 long minutes probing the addict for where he went wrong, what mistakes he made, any regrets? This was a foolish tact, and did not serve the public well. The big stakes gambler knows not of what they speak. The high roller does not make mistakes. Bad Luck. Cold Streak. Someone jinxed me. Maybe. But mistakes? Nah.

When asked if he regretted any decision during his three-plus years at the helm, the president stammered like a school kid trying to flush a cigarette down the boy’s room toilet. And when stupidly pressed to compare the current police action to this country’s most egregious non-war war, Viet Nam, Bush could have said, “Please lady, Viet Nam? That damn thing went on for two decades. We’ve been at this thing barely a year.” Instead he sounded the gambler’s lament: “Don’t queer the results by comparing me with past failures!”

“I happen to think that analogy sends the wrong message to our troops and it sends the wrong message to our enemy,” our president responded.

The high roller does not make mistakes. Bad Luck. Cold Streak. Someone jinxed me. Maybe. But mistakes? Nah.

There ain’t no Red Sox curse and I ain’t no Bill Buckner, boy!

That’s how it goes for George W. Bush. He’s diseased. He needs help.

Usually those who suffer the ultimate fate of the high stakes junky or have the most to lose, family members, loved ones, spouses or college roommates, have to be sated. The addict must allay their fears that he is down, but not out. There’s a sure thing a-comin’ ma! This was evident in Bush’s repeated calls to not contemplate bailing in Iraq. Any talk of that is un-American and only aids the enemy. With apologies to my pop’s favorite film, “Kelly’s Heroes”, “Always with the negative waves, Moriardi!”

A sympathetic part of me chose to view that press conference as an intervention. Too bad the press corps poorly represented those paying for the gambler’s losses, namely us. I’m thinking some of the financial backers of this thing might have lobbed stronger demands on when exactly enough will be enough. When will our resources emptied? When can we expect “Mission Accomplished”? Yeah, that bit of theater a few months back was another clue to the gambler’s mentality. Win a big bet and get close to even and call it the big splash, breaking the bank. Then comes another chance to roll the dice, and bam!

The president had no answers for an end game or new government outlines or anything concerning the future of Iraq on 4/13. I heard that has-been fathead Newt Gingrich say the other night that “the press will know when the president damn well wants them to know.” Oh, good. Someone should remind the Bush people that listening to a pompous fraud like Gingrich would sentence the president to his kind of political oblivion. The press is supposed to mine our elected leader for answers that the tax paying, war-funding populace has a right to know. But the reporters let us down by allowing our top employee get away with the pussyfooting, “Wait and see”, “Patience and Resolve” and “We’ll be there as long as we need to be there to get the job done.”

What job? Free the Middle East? Reign democracy down on centuries of religious and cultural fanaticism? Sounds like the kind of doom talk that the ego-mad British Empire tried on half of the region for most of the 19th and 20th centuries. I recall Russia’s aborted attempt to bully Communism on Afghanistan succeeded nicely in bankrupting the Soviet Union.

The press intervention failed, except if you believe it was a good political move for the president to say anything, as opposed to the ducking and jiving we’ve gotten for the past six months, or to deflect any talk about the economy or any other wild cards for this November.

But like it or not, we’re going for it folks. All the way to the end, whatever end that may be, at whatever cost; lives, money, national safety. Didn’t you hear? Things are better than you think. We will win, but we won’t know when victory comes.

Sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down.

Gambling.

As Krusty the Clown’s accountant once told him, “It’s the best thing a person can do, if you’re good at it.”

And if you’re not?

Well, you’re Krusty the Clown.

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Who is Running This War on Iraq? James Campion

Aquarian Weekly 10/29/03 REALITY CHECK

ANARCHY IN BUSHLAND

Who the hell is running this Iraq thing?

Really. No joke.

You tell me. Is it the Secretary of State? The Secretary of Defense? The Pentagon? The White House? The CIA? The Department of Defense? The UN Security Council? What? Who?

Between the leaks and backbiting and mixed messages and strange answers and weird innuendo, things have gone awry the last few weeks. Bodies pile up, money sinks into the hole and we have plenty of wild memos and a redirection of power and hip-hip-hooray speeches, but the more this thing unravels it seems like no one, least of all the Commander and Chief is running this half-cocked operation.

Rumsfeld is a lunatic. This much is true. Ever since the wam-bam part of this frolic subsided, he has been pretty much impotent and he doesn’t like that. But too damn bad. Fire this idiot. Break some balls, get on board with this thing or get out.

Someone needs to get Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld into the same room and get them to kiss and make up or kick them the fuck off the team. And where the hell is Colin Powel? Wake up Dick Chaney and his oil buddies and put them on alert. But let’s get our stories straight and our belts tightened, because ostensibly you’ve got the balance of global intrigue being run like a Three Stooges skit right now.

I think as the bankrollers of this mess, someone somewhere in the federal government needs to provide us with some indication of what a “slog” means, and what exactly constitutes “sacrifice” and “this takes time”.

What is it? Ten months? Two years? Six generations? What?

Are there weapons of mass destruction? Is bin Laden or Hussein alive? Why the fuck was David Blaine in a box? Are the Red Sox and Cubs cursed, or what?

Ballpark the sucker. Get on the tube and rally the troops, pick a mouthpiece and go with it. Something. Anything.

There has been too much politics involved already. No one cares whose fault it is and who is right or wrong. No one wants to hear whining about how the media is wounding the effort or we must all “support the troops!” every five seconds. There are American kids being picked off like a boardwalk amusement daily and Iraqi civilians burning alive under a Dan Rather sound bite. Is it too much to ask for some order here?

Listen, although no one with one iota of understanding of what the British went through at the start of the 20th century trying to manipulate the political and social landscape of the Middle East thought this thing wouldn’t be time-consuming, expensive and bloody, what has transpired these past weeks is ridiculous. With Rumsfeld sending out mixed signals, administration officials selling CIA operatives down the river through jack-booted journalists, and more of the same tired flag-waving rah-rah rhetoric coming out of Captain Shoe-In, you have to wonder who’s in charge.

This was the worry with G.W. all along. He was dim, yes, but he’d surround himself with the right people, and the right people would rule the day, get us through. But that was before 9/11 and our “war on terror” and Osama and Afghanistan and Hussein and Iraq, and on and on. Right now there are too many cooks in this pot, and none of them seem to have a master plan.

Rumsfeld is a lunatic. This much is true. Ever since the wam-bam part of this frolic subsided, he has been pretty much impotent and he doesn’t like that. But too damn bad. Fire this idiot. Break some balls, get on board with this thing or get out. One or the other.

Hey, that was always the big hitch for those of us who believed the best way to deal with bullies is to bully them, take the fight over there and keep the cheap hits from the homeland, but without the covert nasties from the CIA and no help from anyone outside of Britain, it is time to reassess or get tough. But this vacillating, wishy-washy cowboy crap has got to go.

Screw you we don’t need you, or let’s free people together?

Pick a slogan, a premise, a thesis and stick with it.

Go back into development, tweak this bastard and get back to us asap.

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