International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year:A Reality Check Trip Down
So long Captain Shoo-In: Our Bedeviled Boy Howdy
feel for Captain Shoo-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." -
HIGH STAKES -- BAD BREAKS: 4/21/04
The final epitaph
to the tenure of our 43rd president is that he was far more adept at
procuring the job than actually performing it; manifested most glaringly
in his rare public appearances when it seemed as if his brain experienced
sharp stabbing contractions, a searing ache that dulled the reasoning
centers allowing only facile gurgles to escape.
This bizarre malady provided him with an unprecedented carte blanche
to hand over his most pressing tasks to "pals" or more entrenched
Washington types that proceeded to avail themselves of the most incredible
streak of power mongering known to the office. What will be written
in the years to come, as it has been in a record-shattering number of
published mea culpa tomes for the past few years, is that the George
W. Bush Administration presided over an impressive stretch of bad luck,
poor execution, and finally, the ultimate dare to future presidents
to prove themselves more inept.
"The federal government failed us on 9/11. Its primary purpose
is to protect our borders. The leader of this government happens to
be the president. The president happens to be George W. Bush. The Electoral
College decided that two Novembers ago. The Supreme Court upheld it.
I defended its decision. Therefore I defend the right of the people
of this republic to blame its leader for the death of its citizens and
destruction of its property during a full-scale terrorist attack."
- THE BLAME GAME: 6/5/02
Any sober review of the Bush years is obliged to lead with 9/11/01 and
his administration's criminal lack of defense of the nation's borders
-- specifically its greatest city -- and the resultant actions of its
fallout. Massive deficits, imploding economy, occupation of Iraq, domestic
spying, predatory abuse of executive powers by the vice president, spectacular
incompetence at several and varied levels of federal governance aside,
the unconscionable tragedy of 9/11/01, and everything thereafter, is
on Captain Shoo-In.
It was a name this space gave the governor of Texas in the summer of
2000, when we joined forces to halt what seemed like the inevitable
march to power for Albert Gore Junior. Captain Shoo-In was part mockery,
part prestige; carrying with it a purpose, more formula than man, more
pomp than distinction. It is also how I referred to "the candidate"
when I told his soon-to-be-famous puppet-master, Karl Rove, half-soused
and thirsty for blood, that come autumn it was Go Time.
"George W. Bush is a dumb ass and will no doubt be a useless leader
in the fumes of this barely legal victory, but he won. Al Gore lost.
To write that is divinely real, like Fitzgerald's "high white note."
His stupidity notwithstanding, Bush will forever stand as the symbol
of a two-party system joke rendered on a populace sure that it spits
out the worst humanity can offer. But he is not Al Gore. He lost."
- REQUIEM FOR A LIGHTWEIGHT: 12/20/01
The world was before all of them then, the political madness, eerie
paranoia, and foolish pathological waves of volume lying unfurled as
if a red carpet of fantastic possibilities. Who knew it would present
itself with alarming regularity over eight long, painful years; particularly
the final half of those years when what was left of The Bush Legacy
reeked with rampant humiliations culminating in being pushed to the
curb by his own party during the 2008 presidential campaign and having
shoes tossed at his head by rogue journalists in the country he bet
his nuts on?
"Gnashing of teeth is in vogue at the Pentagon these days, where
they are heard weeping down the corridors, each one of them wondering
what the hell happened? How did we, the strongest, richest, nation on
earth wage a war so ineptly, so myopically, as to render what was a
wounded, vengeful, united nation into a mass war protest? This was a
popular war, now it appears to be the worst kind of murderous sham."
- PUNCHLINE IRAQ: 12/13/06
Captain Shoo-In never saw it coming. This was not his thing. Detail
was like gum on his cowboy boots, which he proudly sported that fateful
Year of The Golden Dragon. The Captain would not trail in 2000. He was
as he had been from birth, a Frontrunner, and 2000 was a fine year for
the dynamic pairing of money and name recognition. The first weeks,
months, and long campaigning dénouement of our foray into the
21st Century was always Junior's for the taking, and to his ultimate
credit and our dire consequence, he took it, or rather he paid for it,
along with the Supreme Court, where he fired his first salvo against
what would be the final gasping breaths of modern conservatism; allowing
the judicial system and not the Voice of the People to decide The Decider.
"Today, if Goldwater saw a Republican president of the United States
signing off one hundred percent of the domestic spending for six consecutive
years, funneled to him by a Republican Congress handing over nearly
half of the national budget on rebuilding the ideological face of entire
regions across the globe, while getting re-elected on "moral"
grounds and not performance record, he would never stop puking."
- Conservatism vs. Fundamentalism: 11/8/06
Being handed the free world by the judicial branch was a faux pas Junior
could live with, but it cast a bitter precedent on All-Things Bush for
the foreseeable future; whether in the ludicrous entitlement rush of
the infamous Medicare Bill or the ridiculously liberal No Child Left
Behind, the queerly designed emancipation of illegal aliens, the colonizing
of a sovereign nation, or as a consequence the most bloated domestic
spending ever. There was not a bill Baby Bush would not and did not
sign, and somehow those on the Right, the real Right, not the lapdog
party bagmen, barely spoke out against it. This is what high times at
the top of the ticket bought for The Watchdogs -- a reconsidering of
their precious ideology.
But, alas, they were not alone. Lord knows the press never said a word
for most of All-Things Bush, at least not until it was far too late.
The Bush Years will be credited with the Death of Modern Conservatism,
but far more egregiously for its healthy participation in the Death
of Journalism. It was, those first two crucial years after 9/11/01,
a stand-down policy in the national press; sans the frenzied attention
paid to surreptitious chemical warfare and shadow-men at airports and
weird scenes from the mail system. It was a time for flag lapels and
yellow ribbon pins and keeping the hard queries to one's self in a manic
ramp-up to war, its subsequent military operations or whatever expensively
homicidal fiascos transpired afterward. It is why George W. Bush and
his cabal of nincompoops were allowed to wreak havoc for so long: They
would soon be cast as the rancid gore of evil by the same lazily jingoistic
press corps that allowed them unmitigated free reign in the first place.
"Ahhh, the ugliness has now hit home. It ain't the media after
all. We came late to the dance. We gave this gaggle of hubris-mongers
a free pass, and now lookie here! It's a goddamn gaffe and the approval
ratings are Nixonian and Carteresque, and soon when the history comes
due on this rampant disjoint generations will wonder who the hell was
minding the store."
- MR. MOJO SINKING: 4/5/06
Turns out that despite the late-to-the-party hue and cry, none of the
has-beens that doomed The Captain were evil or insane; they were nothing
more than The Mediocre Elite. This is what passed for the Best &
Brightest in the Bush Years; Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Tom Ridge,
John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, George Tenet, Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney;
inefficient retreads from our botched past dragged from the ashbin of
history to crack the very foundation of democracy. It is, if nothing
else, an impressive line-up of abject failures. There isn't enough space
in a thousand volumes to recount their dumbness. Suffice to say it was
never pretty or particularly artful, but it did help to make All Things
Bush appear as if it were scratched together by an army of third graders
jacked up on a steady diet of Pixie Sticks chased with Mountain Dew.
"Bush's approval ratings flounder somewhere in the mid-20s, close
to a Watergate low. Stunning, even for a monumental screw up. His war
is now officially a suicide anvil roped around his neck and Jesus has
abandoned him. He no longer speaks in private anymore, at least not
anything close to coherent. In public he manages to burp out weird things
like "internets" and some Seussian nonsense about "Victory
is not no violence." Insiders say he lives in constant fear there's
another Scooter Libby stumbling drunk and angry through the White House
looking to dump more foul odors on his office. Key aids are on 24-hour
notice to keep him informed if the vice president shoots anyone else."
- FRAT HOUSE FRACAS: 5/16/07
Ultimately, the Bush Administration's hard right turn from the muted
campaign jargon of "compassionate conservatism" and "humble
foreign policy" into saviors of the moral, cultural, and political
universe unraveled beneath a torrent of substandard denizens and most
disturbingly a steadfast adherence to The Plan; whatever the hell that
was. From the State Department, attorney general's office to the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, the age of Bushies -- policy-minded drones
who wore their allegiance as a badge -- ignored minor details such as
civil liberties, the anonymity of CIA agents, separation of church and
state, freedom of dissent, etc. But they did it for love; of God, country,
and legacy, all of which turned to sewage on our dime.
"Americans want to relate to the fantasy model of the Everyman.
They want a man who believes, whether it's asinine, insane or astoundingly
feral. Kennedy believed the bullshit. So did Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald
Reagan. These were believers. They had it down. That's why they won
national elections. George W. Bush is a believer. He is president, again.
John Kerry pretended to believe. He is going back to the senate."
- Second Term Madness 11/10/04
There will always be a sweet spot in the heart of The Desk for Captain
Shoo-In. We covered his every move, and sometimes even agreed with one
or two; especially the attempt to privatize Social Security and expunge
America's Mistake, Saddam Hussein from power. The argument that 9/11
"had nothing to do with Iraq" has always been hog dung. You
don't meddle around in "holy land" with Arab sovereignty and
muscle your way into the ancient order of tribes with your nifty Desert
Storm and expect it to go away quietly. It had to be done, but it had
to be done efficiently, which was beyond George Bush or any of the people
paid to make it happen.
Today, mere hours before he exits into ignominy, the 43rd president
leave a nation fatigued and broke after six years of war and occupation,
a record deficit and a hemorrhaging economy. There is a distrust of
government now that rivals the dark times of Nixon, and the Republican
party, his party, is broken into a billion pieces. The Age of Reagan;
tax cuts, deregulation, global manipulation, and passive aggressive
buffoonery is done.
© James Campion Jan 17th 2009
Burris Goes to Washington
the case of Roland Burris the next time some prickless dink prattles
on about Founding Fathers and the almighty Constitution, or God given
freedoms and the law-abiding exquisiteness of The System.
The Year of the Guilty
James Campion + Readers letters
nine will be the year of The Guilty. Exoneration is in the air. Free
rides. Hard promises. Credentials for all; particularly those who don't
The Bogus Battle for Christmas
just in: Christmas has nothing to do with religion. Around here, and
by around here I mean America, it is the granddaddy of consumer holidays
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