The International Writers Magazine: USA Reality Check with
James Campion + Readers Letters
STAKES - BAD BREAKS
The Bush Doctrine of Manic Gambling
how it goes for George W. Bush. Hes diseased. He needs help.
the action, kid. The action." - Jimmy The Greek
About halfway through the presidents 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.
Ive been there. Trust me.
"I know its been a bad couple of weeks for us in Iraq,"
remarked our president. "No one likes to see dead people on
television, but were 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,
theres 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.
"Were 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, hes letting it ride.
The White House Press, once a prestigious gig, now reduced to a human
Iditerod, will never understand this. You dont 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 boys room toilet. And when stupidly pressed
to compare the current police action to this countrys most egregious
non-war war, Viet Nam, Bush could have said, "Please lady, Viet
Nam? That damn thing went on for two decades. Weve been at this
thing barely a year." Instead he sounded the gamblers lament:
"Dont 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
There aint no Red Sox curse and I aint no Bill Buckner,
boy! Thats how it goes for George W. Bush. Hes 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. Theres a sure thing a-comin ma!
This was evident in Bushs repeated calls to not contemplate bailing
in Iraq. Any talk of that is un-American and only aids the enemy. With
apologies to my pops favorite film, "Kellys 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 gamblers
losses, namely us. Im 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 gamblers 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 "Well 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 Russias aborted attempt
to bully Communism on Afghanistan succeeded nicely in bankrupting the
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 weve 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, were going for it folks. All the way to the end,
whatever end that may be, at whatever cost; lives, money, national safety.
Didnt you hear? Things are better than you think. We will win,
but we wont know when victory comes.
Sometimes youre up and sometimes youre down.
Gambling. As Krusty the Clowns accountant once told him, "Its
the best thing a person can do, if youre good at it." And
if youre not? Well, youre Krusty the Clown.
© James Campion April 19th 2004
LETTERS April 2004
Your piece on gay marriage ("Bigotry & Gay Marriage" was
magnificent. Too bad many of our leaders do not have the guts and either
avoid the issue altogether or become fanatics for some bizarre ritual
of keeping people down - blacks, women, gays, the obese, the long-hairs,
the unwashed, the nerds, the beasts, and my mother.
God bless you and the horse that props you up. Salvador
Conservatives are always saying get rid of government control but every
time something comes up that they hate (flag burning, gay marriage, abortion,
Howard Stern, etc) they cry out for a Constitutional Amendment. But it's
alright to own assault weapons, pollute the environment, deny the existence
of basic scientific facts and give tax cuts to the rich while letting
social security die from total lack of fiscal sense. And they say Jesus
Mr. Campion! I baffle myself trying to think of a reason why any dope
would oppose gay marriage and all I could come up with is homophobia!
I saw Jon Stewart do stand-up down here in Philly two weeks ago, and he
summed it up best: "Wait, you mean gay marriage doesn't mean us straight
people will be forced to marry gay people? Than why does anyone give a
You need to get saved!!! (john 3:16) FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE
GAVE HIS ONLY BEGGOTEN SON THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHALL NOT PARISH
BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE!! JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS FOR MY SINS AND YOURS
AND HE IS ALIVE TODAY SITTING ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD. JESUS SAVES!!
PS. he will save you to all you have to do is ask Janessa
Just a few points, my friend,
If it is for love and all that high-minded crap, then let those gay couples
tell us so. I am, though, more willing to suspect that this is more of
a grab attempt of the entitlement pie. As for Darva, Britney and the rest
of the social miscreants, I don't care if youre gay, straight, bi
or sell, if you saw those things all you could do is shake your head in
a bewildered disgust.
As for Bush "starting this", it is this kind of history revision
that caused a guy by the name of Bill Roberts to start writing a column
to prevent such history revisionism. Bush was minding his own business
fighting the war on terror and (according to the libs) busy giving out
sweetheart contracts to Halliburton when the Mayor of San Francisco decided
to break the law and marry same-sex couples. From there, the craze spread
like wildfire. Bush only made a stand (if that's what you can call it)
after gay couples all over the Union were gettin' hitched.
I think the big question is, where do we stop defining down what our society
will welcome as acceptable behavior? People say gay marriage is no big
deal and that if people want to love, let them. A mere 30 years ago, two
gay individuals marrying would have been unheard of and even less accepted.
Now with our loosening social values, gay marriage is being forced on
the American population as a "gonna happen, git with it or git out
of the way".
In a society that is always pushing the edge of the social envelope, where
do we go from here? Do we honestly believe for a second that this is the
most extreme social issue of our day? What will we be asked next to accept
as normal and acceptable? No one seems to either be able or willing to
answer these questions. People talk about freedom, but one thing I learned
as a soldier is that with freedom comes from responsibility and it seems
lately too many people want one (freedom) without the other (responsibility).
Citizens . . . take note!
Gay, Straight, Incest-ites, Polygamists, Beast-ophiles! Marriage is for
everyone! Why should heterosexuals be the only ones who should suffer
divorce and alimony! Let all partake!
Hey, James !
I could not WAIT to respond to your column on "Bigotry & Gay
Marriage"! You may say that it is dumbest subject you have had to
rebuke in your space (and I DO hear why you say that), but I'm glad you
decided to tackle it and loved every word of how you did it.
I believe that not allowing gays the right to be married is about nothing
but money as well, and want to take your observation about how (certain)
people "blow" at marriage to the next level... How about this(?)-
Perhaps we make a limit to how many times someone can get married, and
after you've reached that limit - you're not allowed to get married anymore.
This "3 (or how many ever) strikes, you're out" policy would
force everyone (not just gays) to REALLY examine whether or not they are
truly in love with someone before they decide to take a vow for "all
What does anyone expect from our sitting President when it comes to this
issue? Even sadder was to realize Ronald Reagan's famous moment of amazement
during his re-election campaign with a bar code scanner at the checkout
of a supermarket (which was already commonplace for us "everyday"
people). It came from a sheltered ignorance. PONDER THIS: Just like the
bigots who are afraid of people who are anything BUT white because they
have never met a "person of color" in their life... our President
could quite possibly be afraid of homosexuals because he has never had
the opportunity to get to know one (or at least someone who admitted it).
For that to even be a possibility in the year 2004 is mind-boggling.
I know a LOT of people who are homosexual, a LOT of great people... who
really love their partners (and have for many years more than some of
my heterosexual friends loved their spouses). I think in this century
a pre-requisite for being the President of the most diverse and powerful
country on the planet is you should have at least one good friend (or
at LEAST associate) who is gay. To have absolutely NO knowledge of that
large a percentage of the population of the country you are in charge
of IS ignorance AND bigotry, and gives YOU no right to have ANY opinion
on it at all. Peace!
" Reality Check, Thanks for another great article. You know, this
subject is one that my current circle of friends have been debating, and
not one of us can figure out why people have such issues with this. You
can't help who you fall in love with, and if marrying your own kind is
immoral, what about all the crazy things people do sexually to each other
(not to mention children, dogs, and yes, perhaps a sofa or two) in the
name of love and/or lust? Just once I'd like to meet somebody who can
explain why love
Brian in St. Pete
all rights reserved