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The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check + Readers Responses

Fear of a Barrack Planet
• James Campion
The Fallout of The 2014 Mid-Term Elections


Poor old Mitch McConnell. He’s so happy, for now. The Republican Party takes control of the U.S. Senate. Thus, as minority leader, he suddenly becomes majority leader. Just like that. Presto. Democracy. Cool stuff. New regime, like the waves of 2006 and 2010 that changed everything. Remember? No? Because they changed nothing, which is the exact opposite of change, like when Change was all the rave in 2008. That’s out now. Kaput.

Six years of obstructionist politics to “make Barrack Obama a one-term president” (negative sound-effects buzzer) turned into plan B, take over the Senate, (positive chiming sound effect) allows McConnell this new lease on political life. Problem is McConnell is going to have to govern now; work with a lame duck president of the United States, who has no reason to do so with no one from his current administration having to defend it, or at least caucus with a very ornery Right Wing filled with TEA Party types who were elected to stop government from growing, and even some of whom, like the always entertaining self-promoting Ted Cruz and whatever Rand Paul is today – libertarian, hawk, Republican power player – will be positioning themselves for a White House run.
Good luck with all that.

You see, McConnell is very old. Not sure how old, but likely not able to quickly get through a supermarket line quickly or maneuver a car in city traffic without causing some delays. He speaks as if someone has a gun to his head in a spy film and looks two minutes from having “fallen and I can’t get up”. But luckily for McConnell he doesn't have to drive or buy his own groceries. He’s been in the Senate for 30 years. Thirty fucking years in the Senate. I was 22 when he came in. I am friggin’ old, but not as old as Mitch McConnell. Or Harry Reid on the other side of the putrid aisle. Two aisles, both putrid. The one they call Red is now in the hot seat. We’ll see how that goes.

A few months ago McConnell was spending millions fending off a battle to his Right and then spent millions defending himself against a weak opposition from the Left. He works for a body of government that has a 19 percent approval rating and has accomplished less than any congress in the 238-year history of this republic. Now he’s the big boy, and it will be high time he gets to work, because there is little patience in this electorate and the way the map is looking and the demographics are shaping up for 2016, his lifeline ain’t long.

But make no mistake about it; this was the Democrats turn to take the beating, much like 2010, but with less populace outrage. This was big Republican mainstream money and less grocer-next-door quality of the TEA Party run; well organized and strategically planned. Good execution. Old politics style. No longer is the passé Affordable Care Act in play; this was the summer of ISIS and Ebola and “Obama hates America”. Very effective stuff when the mood, which has not changed since late 2003, is “Kick the bums out!” New bums, Old story.

For instance, lending a nod to the quality reporting of Andrew Romano from Yahoo News, who while pointing out that despite a surge of Latinos over the past half-decade and the legalization of marijuana, the fairly progressive state of Colorado elected Cory Gardner as part of the key states to flip the Senate to Republican, also notes the GOP strategy to run a “repackaged” Gardner as a moderate. “Gardner isn't a moderate,” Romano writes. “He’s a pro-life Republican who ranked as the 10th most conservative House member in 2012. He has opposed Republican immigration reform efforts, voted to shut down the government unless Planned Parenthood was defunded and supported Ted Cruz’s efforts to gut Obamacare. Yet he emphasized compromise and displayed a remarkable, Bill Clintonesque talent for triangulation on immigration, abortion and birth control. In the process, Gardner may have provided the GOP with its biggest lesson of the night: A Republican can still win in a purple state — if he’s the right kind of Republican.”

Like Mitch McConnell, who is the face of the 2014 mid-terms; big time GOP national politics is back. Let’s see if they centrist this thing like Newt and Big Bill in ’94 or if they go off the rails and turn this into part six of “The Revenge of the 2000 Election” and usher in new bums from the other side of the putrid aisle.

Here’s my guess; the Democrats follow the winning model of obstructing any wild bills that are sure to continue flowing from the House and declare them “radical”, further pushing the narrative that Washington is “broken” and that it needs “new blood”. Blaming a lame duck president, who is no longer bound to run (and what comes of that for the next two years is fodder for another time) will not curtail the derision aimed at the newly “Republican-controlled” legislative branch. A sort of copycat strategy wonderfully deployed to political success the past six years, which allowed the GOP to grab seats at the power table.

It will go down like that (the two-aisle putrid equation) and it will work, because unlike the fortuitous map just exploited by Republicans (mostly defended seats by Democrats in both “Red” and “Blue” states) in two years it will be the Democrats who will go after 23 of the 33 seats held by their opponents in more friendly territories – Illinois, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin – doing so in a national election year when far more Democratic demographics flood to the polls to vote for what looks like the most potent presidential candidate in several generations.

Lots of jobs will change hands; some people on the Left and Right (shouted from the rooftops by their lapdog town criers on cable news and radio) will bitch and celebrate. But for you and me, it’s the same old “two putrid aisles” using tried-and-true fear mongering and waves of our frustration to gain power that they will abuse to secure book deals, corporate speaking engagements and lobbying gigs.
Just like that.

READERS RESPONSES November 14th 2014

Dear Mr. Reality Check,

It is getting so that much of what I experienced on 9/11, the fear, the horror, the devastation and yes even the anger pales in comparison to what I just knew was going to be a lifetime spent in perpetual war. (OBAMAWAR – Issue: 9/25/14) Because I knew, as it had been in England during the constant threat of the IRA specifically in the 70s and the 80s, that there would be no downtime or post-war victory or even semi-Cold War tension during peace time with sporadic moments of tension. This was going to be a constant for the rest of anyone’s lives after the terrible morning of 9/11.
And so the idea, as abhorrent and disgusting and even “Holy crap, here we go again” as it is to accept the mentality of trying to “draw down troops” or begin to deal with things diplomatically that seems like the right thing or at least the prudent thing to do for our economic solvency and our collective public mental health to not constantly be at war, it is almost an impossibility now.
There was only two ways the U.S. could have handled the aftermath of 9/11, draw in the reigns and begin to see that treating the world as our own personal chessboard leads to these kinds of tragedies. In other words, not accept the occasional backlash and just get ourselves out of the international meddling game (maybe develop new types of fuel or go another route that doesn’t make every maneuver in the middle East seem like either a cold attempt to prize energy from lunatics or defend the sovereignty of Israel), or ramp it up and make it about us completely. We went with option two and once that decision was made, no matter if the commander-in-chief is Dick Cheney by way of G.W. Bush or Barack Obama or whoever follows, there must be war or the threat of war or the idea of war.
That is what I felt 13 years ago and I still feel today. Not because I want it, but because it is now the way of the world, our world. It sucks, but it is real and it is not going to end in our lifetimes or most likely our children’s or even our children’s children.
I agree with one thing you wrote, “This is our anti-war president.” Because, as I say, there is no longer such animal.

Susan K.

Very well said from an anti-war position...or should I say a 'position of peace'...I am all for peace...but I still subscribe to Reagan’s 'Peace through Strength' mantra. If ISIS is only 20-30k as you say...let's wipe them out before they are 200-300k....then 2-3 Million. Right now arming the Syrian rebels to do the job is insane... look what training the Iraqis did for many years... next to nothing. We need to do it as quick as possible thru air, land and all means Necessary...There are no Arab countries coming to stop them...if we need to go it alone...then So be it.

Donald Brown Jr.


W. may have talked about a “humble foreign policy” but that was before 9/11. After terrorism hit our country he had absolutely no choice as president but to respond; it was imperative that the United States not take that act of terrorism lying down, that we fight back in some way. Many disagree on the correct response and whether his was right or not, but W. wasn’t looking for war and almost everyone agreed at the time on the direction. Perhaps if Clinton had taken bin Laden out when he had the chance – perhaps nipping efforts to target the U.S. in the bud – maybe 9/11 and the ensuing Iraq mess never would have happened and we wouldn’t continue to find ourselves facing Jihad hell. Who knows but one thing is clear: cause and effect is very strict. Right now the world seems like a tangled mess and I don’t know if anyone can figure it all out anymore.

Elizabeth Vengen esq.

Ha! I like this one. You sound like the guy from your “y” book.

Laura DeBona

Ok James,

What is the end game? 30,000 fighters already in the field with untold numbers operating here in the states with other fighters entering our nation by exploiting our virtually unguarded Southern border and you want Jimmy fucking Carter?!?!?!? Dude got ate up in the Desert and then made a speech which admitted he was out of his pay grade with his “Crisis of Confidence” speech.
Under this thought, why fight the Nazis? They were a wacky European problem and didn’t concern us.
So what will it take for you to finally take these guys serious? Remember, if they strike Mainland US, it may be too late. The yellow bellies in our government will look to surrender so as not to make anyone mad and to “alleviate potential casualties”. At that point, it is time to get the band back together in the form of the Army of Northern Virginia, give a rebel yell and whoop some Haji ass.

Bill Roberts

Ask yourself this: Why are gas prices plummeting? Because there is a Middle East Crisis? Why now? Election year? A-ha! This is how it works. Anti-war is not good business. Not that war is good business anymore. In fact it is shitty. The economy stalled and then tanked under the Bush War Machine. But the general mood was more war-friendly then. Not now. As gullible as this electorate is, watch they vote the Republicans into the Senate this time – predictable! – they will not buy into war AGAIN. Don’t blame them, but they miss the bigger point: This is a war nation, pro-guns, pro-God (God loved war) ask David and Solomon and Moses, our revolutionary brutha from a different ideological mutha. Yeah, that is REAL Middle East action; hardcore, not like Obama, who will likely make another quagmire of this. No boots on the ground????? WTF? Who believes that crap, the people who believed in MISSION ACCOMPLISHED or “Greet us as liberators” or “enriched uranium”? Remember that dog and pony show with Powell and his test tube, then he panics and thinks he’s going to hell, so he backs Obama as an anti-war president and here comes Mista Change and the same-old shit?
Yeah, right. Ask yourself: Who does this benefit?


© James Campion November 14th 2014
James Campion is the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, "Midnight For Cinderella" and “Y”.

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