I'm Finally Back with Proof of God I'm finally back after a long Christmas vacation. The other day, I saw proof of God. I was at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica milling around before I saw Gangs of New York (which was great) and I saw a table set up by devotees of fringe presidential candidate Lyndon Larouche. To me, that's proof of the existence of a God with a sense of humor. As a mocker of the political fringe, I bowed my head and thanked Him for bestowing upon me this opportunity for ridicule. So I went up to the table and acted like a live one. After a minute or so of hearing incoherent ranting (it was worse that Drudge's radio show), I informed the guy that I was an agent of Henry Kissinger (who,according to LaRouche, is responsible for all the evil in the world). The guy looked kind of shocked, so I said, "Just messing with you" and went to my movie.
Nominate Sun Myung Moon as The Washington Times's Knave of the Year A few days ago, I mentioned that the Moonie Times is having a Noble and Knave of the Year contest. Do your part and enter Sun Myung Moon, an odious America-hater (America, according to Moon, represents "Satan's harvest") and criminal, as Knave of the Year. To do this, e-mail the nomination to email@example.com with "Nobles Contest" in the subject line.
Do book sales validate a person’s ideas? Well, if book sales are anything like movie box office receipts, then the answer is no. Movie box office sales for 2002 just topped 2001 numbers, making 2002 a record year. Some of the hits, such as Signs, deserved to be hits. Other hits, such as Sweet Home Alabama, were pap. Some good films like Auto Focus did nothing at the box office.
A similar situation exists with book sales. Slander, an intellectually dishonest book was number one on the bestseller lists for weeks. Al Gore’s books did not sell. As I write this, Savage Nation by Michael Savage—which hasn’t even been released, is number 20 on Amazon.com. Of course, I haven’t read the book yet, but if it reflects the thoughts that are aired on Savage’s radio show (e.g. yesterday, Savage referred to Trent Lott’s hateful words in his paean to Strom Thurmond as “innocent comments”) then the book is crap. By the way, Savage’s radio show has ads for an herbal pill for sexual dysfunction.
We Don't Have Trent Lott To Kick Around Anymore It's just as well. There are bigger fish to fry. Some have suggested that Ashcroft should be the next target. The choices I have mentioned are Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush (scroll down to 12/13). But Rush's recent racist comments (scroll down to 12/18) put him in the running. Let's roll!
Quick Takes As an Angelino, I find it especially funny that the Norah Vincent is still seething over being busted by Jim Capozzola (who is the opposite of a blowhard) for plagiarism (click here for Jim’s rebuttal). On the topic of blowhards, since Rush recently made a blatently racist comment (scroll down to 12/18), I think an e-mail to Howard Kurtz for defending this hatemonger is in order: firstname.lastname@example.org. Barney Gumble has a content-analysis study that reveals the overrepresentation of right-wing think tanks on C-SPAN; I await an article on HMO’s by Dr. Nick Riveria. Anthony York’s article in Salon on George W. Bush’s coziness with Confederates is another reason to get Salon Premium. Buy my friggin’ video—it’s entertaining and your purchase will keep me blogging.
Al Franken Smacked Around Katherine Harris on Late Night With Conan O'Brien Last Night CONAN: You claim that you saw former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris recently. You saw her?
AL: I did.
CONAN: In person?
AL: Yeah. For the audience that doesn’t know, she’s the one who, in Florida, the Secretary of State in Florida who declared the election for Bush anytime she could. [audience laughs] And so I was up at the Kennedy School, the Kennedy Library actually. Every two years they have a seminar for incoming freshmen, Congresspeople. She won in Florida; she’s a Congresswoman...So Katherine Harris is one of these freshmen and so I did this presentation with Norman Ornstein who’s a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and during the presentation, I said, “Our role here is to tell you things you need to know as a member of Congress and one thing every member of Congress needs to know is how to take a punch. It’s going to happen to you sooner or later-at a town hall meeting, an angry constituent is going to hit you. So you need to know how to take a punch, so I need a volunteer. [Al looks around the room] Ummmm. Katherine Harris.” [Conan and the audience laugh]. And she laughed. [more laughter]
CONAN: And you hit her? Yeah?
AL: But later we were getting on the bus and she said, “Oh, I really thought you were funny” and I went, [in a falsetto voice]”Oh, Katherine Harris likes me. I’m so happy.” ...And I said, “Do you want to hear the joke I didn’t tell?” and she said, “Sure.” I said, “Okay, well, five of the freshmen were educated here at the Kennedy School—got their Master’s here, including Katherine Harris. Right here at the Kennedy School is where Katherine Harris learned to purge African-Americans from the voting rolls.” [nervous laughter from the audience] And she said, “Oh, I don’t think the Kennedy School would have liked that.” [Conan and the audience laugh]
CONAN: [laughing] She didn’t say, "That’s not true."
AL: She didn’t say that wasn’t true.
CONAN: Spreading joy wherever you go, Al.
For more on the phony felon purge in Florida, click here.
Tomorrow: Al Franken on George W. Bush's racist tactics
On Tuesday, when a caller to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show suggested that Trent Lott should not only step down as Senate Majority Leader but perhaps should even resign his seat in the Senate, Limbaugh warned the caller about the problems with this scenario:
The Democrats in Mississippi look to be ready to nominate Mike Espy, the former agriculture secretary, to be the new senator from Mississippi that would replace Lott. That'd be a double whammy, to get a Democrat plus an African-American in there to take Trent Lott's seat. That takes the Senate back to 50-50, with Dick Cheney breaking tie votes.
Certainly, if one is a Republican, it would be a setback to have a Democrat replace a Republican in the Senate. No problem so far. Let’s look at the other half of Limbaugh’s “double whammy”: Espy’s race. Most people don’t see it as a problem for an African-American to replace a white person in the Senate—unless, of course, they’re racists. Limbaugh has a right to view Espy’s race as the other half of a double whammy—and I have a right to call him a racist. Jeff Cohen and Steve Rendell raised questions about Limbaugh’s views on race when he was being considered for a spot on ABC’s Monday Night Football. What Limbaugh has said in the past is consistent with his recent comment about Espy.
12/19 UPDATE: On today's show, Limbaugh accused Democrats of using"race-baiting rhetoric" and referred to former President Clinton's comments that he made yesterday as "an assault on the whole South."
Erratum:I originally wrote that the conversation occurred on Monday. It was Tuesday.
Limbaugh's Latest Lies On his show today, Limbaugh discussed how he met Hillary Clinton at a wedding recently. He mentioned how he said regretted some things regarding Chelsea (I'm assuming that he was referring to the incident on his television show in which he put up the picture of Chelsea and made a comment about the White House dog). It would have been nice if he admitted lying about how this was an accident. Rush then dissembled when he said that the differences with Bill and Hillary were "not personal," and that "every time" he discusses the Clintons, "it is policy-oriented." Oh Please. He has repeatedly made fun of Hillary's appearance. During the 1990's Limbaugh was on the forefront of the movement to implicate the Clintons in Vince Foster's death. I could go on.
Interesting Omission The Washington Times has a contest to name "the noble and the knave of the year." I noticed that in the list of the nominees for Knave of the Year, Al Gore was singled out for the vague offense of "giving in to the urge to grandstand from any possible platform." Wow, what a terrible transgression; run for the hills, Al. Trent Lott wasn't listed as a knave nominee; could it be because the Moonie Times is the type of "newspaper" that would hire someone like Robert Stacy McCain?(link via Atrios).
Wretched Excess Pat Buchanan's column, "Trent Lott: Victim of a hate crime" in my favorite journalistic cesspool Worldnetdaily. By the way, Worldnetdaily is in the publishing business; its second is a book by hate radio's Michael Savage: The Savage Nation. The WND ad for the book informs us The Savage Nation is being published in a partnership with Thomas Nelson Publishers, a Christian publishing house.
Quiz for Right-Wingers Here is the question, Mr. or Ms. Right-Winger: Suppose there is a guy—let’s call him Scoobie. His accomplishments in Hollywood include some low-level production work for a documentary film (so low-level that he isn’t mentioned in the Internet Movie Database). He is writing a fictional screenplay and is trying to find funding for a documentary film that he wants to make. He works part-time as an extra. Scoobie goes to a lot of Hollywood parties. Here’s the question: Would it be ethically permissible for Scoobie to refer to himself as “a movie producer” when he introduces himself to attractive women at these parties? Explain why or why not it would be ethical for Scoobie to do this. You have one minute for an answer. You are not allowed to look for an answer in The Book of Virtues by William Bennett.
Answer: No, it is not ethically permissible for Scoobie to do this. Reasons: First, there are enough poseurs in Hollywood; one more is one too many. Second, when describing oneself to a woman, stretching the truth a little is okay, even expected. Embellishment in the pursuit of babe action is no vice. However, if you aren’t producing anything, you ain’t a producer. Wanting to produce movies doesn't make a guy Steven Spielberg.
The reason for the quiz: when George W. Bush ran for Congress in 1978, he listed his occupation as “oil producer.” The thing is that he never produced any oil—zero, zip, nada. As I told Rush a couple years ago, "the only oil George Bush saw at that time was the oil that he put on his salad." (Okay, that was unfair--I'm sure it was a servant who put the oil on Bush's salads). I bring this up because, in the wake of Al Gore’s decision not to run in 2004, Michael Barone, in an otherwise thoughtful piece, rehashes the stale right-wing attack: “Mr. Gore had the habit of taking plausible arguments and exaggerating them to the point of unbelievability--he actually was interested early in the Internet, but he didn't invent it. Natural politicians have an instinct that protects them from such self-defeating tactics. Mr. Gore, like Nixon, lacked that instinct.” Give me a break, do I have to explain this one more time? I’m not even going to bother. Oh, by the way, in the responses section for this article, a reader rehashed the Love Story lie that wasn’t a lie.
Bad Karma? I knew I would catch some flack for suggesting yesterday that the late Barbara Olson inhabits hell. On the one hand, it is bad form to speak ill of the dead. It’s bad karma and not very sporting because the dead can’t defend themselves. I don’t think she is in hell (I believe in reincarnation, so I don’t have any idea of her current location).
On the other hand, fair is fair. One of the principles of this web site is that I show more civility to people on the right than they do to people on the left. Unfortunately, that isn’t a difficult feat. Olson and her hubby Ted--in their heyday—were an embodiment of the politics of personal destruction. Ted and Babs would attack the dead with nary a thought to the pain they caused others. To compound their cruelty, they attacked were dead people who had no dog in the fight. The dead people they attacked were collateral damage in their depraved crusade against the Clintons. Ted and Barbara were neck-deep in the Arkansas Project--which can best be described as a massive dirty tricks campaign in which Scaife-paid Arkansans would report juicy details to Scaife-paid “journalists.” The late Vince Foster’s reputation was a major casualty in this Scaife-funded cesspool. In a story for the American Spectator, David Brock “reported” that Foster and Hillary Clinton were fondling each other (which even National Review’s Byron York admitted was a smear). Ted confided to Brock that he knew the talk about Foster being murdered was not true but he felt that circulating this canard might shake loose another scandal. Let’s also not forget Barbara’s description of Bill Clinton’s deceased mother as “a barfly who gets used by men.”
I’m certain that if Olson were still alive, she would be writing another piece of reckless hackwork for the Regnery publishing mill. For my friends on the left, let me just say that I will try to be more karma-oriented. For my friends on the right, when I get one percent as mean as Barbara and Ted, then you can e-mail me and bitch.
Bummer I went to the Catch me If You Can World Premiere in Westwood hoping to crash the after-party (which would be the ultimate considering the topic of the film). No such luck because there was no after-party; How lame. However, I can console myself with the thought that I had everything so well prepared that I would have gotten in had there been a party.
New Strategy Despite numerous e-mails sent to him, Sean Hannity once again said on his radio show today that he thought Trent Lott was sincere when Hannity interviewed him. The guy doesn't care about the truth. New strategy: e-mail Alan Colmes at email@example.com and ask him to bring up Lott's lying on the Hannity & Colmes Show.
Woo Hoo This site is the first one that pops up for a Google search of the term, "Lott lied." Still, we need to confront Sean Hannity of the "fair and balanced" network for not saying anything about Lott's lie to him last Wednesday regarding the Council of Conservative Citizens. Hannity's radio show is 3:00 to 6:00 PM EST. The call-in number is 1-800-941-7326. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. At least e-mail him about it.
I Wish I Took My Own Advice I was just writing an e-mail to someone today discussing strategy for successful calls to talk radio. I emphasized how important it was to start out being compliant, almost meek, and then letting the host have it. I cited two examples of this type of call: my 2000 call to Limbaugh and Greg from Orlando’s recent call to “The Doctor of Democracy.” Bill O’Reilly was on his radio show discussing how Al Gore should go on his show and become a news analyst for the Fox News Channel. I called the show and—at long last--I finally got through to O’Reilly. Here were the first things out of my mouth (I was so disgusted with what he was saying, I couldn’t help it):
SCOOBIE: Hello, Mr. Working-Class. Yeah, I really think that’s an insult for you to say that Al Gore should come on to your show—much less that he should get a job at the Fox Propaganda Channel.
O’Reilly’s female co-host gasped. O’Reilly say, “Oh, stop, will you?” and then he asked me a couple questions—which I would have gladly answered but he cut me off and went to the next caller.
Analysis: This call was like my last to Limbaugh: I had knockout punches that I couldn’t deliver because I wanted to get my jabs in right away. At first, I should have sounded as if I had some doubts over whether Gore would have been treated fairly, O’Reilly would have asked me why I thought that way. At that point, I could have hammered away at O’Reilly and Fox News. Better luck next time—and there will be a next time.
Urgent: E-mail Howard Kurtz In previous posts, I have urged people to e-mail Howard Kurtz regarding his outrageous defense of Rush Limbaugh's hate radio program (e.g, here). In today's column on the media foodchain regarding the Lott comments, Kurtz once again rewrites history:
Even after Lott's comments were reported, though, much of the establishment press ignored them for days. It wasn't until Lott apologized last Monday night that such newspapers as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today took note of the matter. In the meantime, Lott was pummeled by a number of online Weblogs --particularly by conservatives who agree with him on many issues -- in a way that helped force the story into public view...
This is rank revisionism; The bloggers who were early on this were Josh Marsall and Atrios, not right-wing bloggers. The article also implies that Glenn Reynolds was one of the early birds ("...Glenn Reynolds, the Tennessee law professor who jumped on the story in his InstaPundit column..."). Reynolds was a johnny-come-lately. Glenn was behind the pack on this one.
E-mail Kurtz at kurtzh@washpost and tell him he is wrong. CC me; I'd like to see what people are writing. It's important.
UPDATE: Roger Ailes (the blogger, not the right-wing windbag) offered similar thoughts; he also recommended writing the Post's ombudsman at email@example.com
The Next Deserving Targets: Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris
One of the foundations of this blog is the hope of contributing to the goal of a world in which George W. Bush wakes up every day for the rest of his life wishing that he hadn’t stolen the 2000 election. This goal also extends to Bush’s enablers in the state of Florida (specifically his brother Jeb and Katherine Harris) and to his enablers in the press.
I am ecstatic that the mainstream media--at long last—is taking a long and hard look at Lott’s long history of repugnant appeals to racists (This might not have been the case had it not been for the doggedness of bloggers like Atrios and Joshua Micah Marshall). However, Lott’s racist comments at Trent Lott’s birthday celebration are minor compared to Jeb Bush’s and Katherine Harris’ racist deeds. While Lott has repeatedly waxed fondly of the days in which minorities didn’t possess civil rights, Jeb and company made this a reality in Florida with the systematic disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of mostly minority voters with the phony felony voter purge. Greg Palast, who was working for the BBC, did some top-notch investigative reporting on the felony voter purge/scam. This story was prominent on the BBC in Great Britain. There was a virtual blackout in the United States of this information from the mainstream media. Why is it that one had to have gone to Europe to see a news broadcast about this appalling denial of the rights of American citizens?
George W. Bush was right when he said that “recent comments by Senator Lott do not reflect the spirit of our country.” However, he was dead wrong when he went on and said, “...the founding ideals of the political party I represent was and remains today the equal dignity and equal rights of every American.” The current Bush regime is a direct result of the intentional deprivation of the rights of minority voters in Florida by Republicans. Like Lott, the people behind the 2000 coup are antithetical to America’s values; unlike Lott, it was their actions, not their words that serve as a testament of the racist legacy of the contemporary Republican Party. The long overdue repudiation of Lott’s discredited ideas should be just the beginning. Trent Lott is finally paying a price for his racist words. Jeb Crow and Katherine Harris need to pay a price for their racist actions; they should be the next targets. They deserve no quarter.
Instant Analysis of Trent Lott's Press Conference Whitewash. I was especially struck by Lott's comment that as a Republican from Mississippi he has to "think about every word, every phrase" he utters. Bullshit.
Update: Sean Hannity Still Doesn't Get It In my previous post, I called upon people to e-mail Hannity at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know that Lott lied to him in his interview regarding the extent of his involvement with the racist Council of Conservative Citizens. Hannity apparently hasn't received the message because on his radio show, he described his thoughts about his interview with Lott: "I believed him to be sincere." Please write Hannity and tell him he is wrong and that Lott lied to him. E-mail Hannity and tell him that Lott wasn't sincere. Give the following web addresses for evidence:
My post: http://www.scoobiedavis.blogspot.com/2002_12_01_scoobiedavis_archive.html#85861190
Addendum: Hannity’s lame “double standard” argument. It’s great that when I check Sitemeter, that many of the Google searches that lead to this site are by people who are looking for information on Robert Byrd, William Fulbright, Donna Brazile's "white boys" comment, and the term “white nigger.” I would guess that many of them are buying the argument by Hannity and Limbaugh that the media scrutiny regarding Lott’s statement reflects a double standard because the Democrats have recently done things just as bad. As I recently pointed out, these arguments are specious. Today, Joe Conason also touched upon this in his blog for Salon (which is another good reason to get Salon Premium). Hannity is still pounding on how Bill Clinton’s recent praise for William Fulbright is morally similar to Lott’s comments on Strom’s presidential candidacy. Wrong. It would only be analogous if Clinton had cited Fulbright’s embrace of the notorious Southern Manifesto and said that America would have been better off if the Southern Manifesto had been implemented. Anyone who can’t tell the difference is morally obtuse.
Homework Assignment Yesterday, I reported how Trent Lott played fast and loose with the facts regarding his involvement with the racist group the Council of Conservative Citizens. Today on Hannity's show, Hannity didn't seem to have any knowledge about Lott's lies. This is ironic considering that Hannity was part of the chorus on the right that, during the 2000 campaign, put every sentence by Al Gore under a microscope in an attempt to portray Gore as a pathological liar (click here for an example of Hannity's dirty work; check the Daily Howler archives for a comprehensive examination of this phenomenon).
So Lott lied to Hannity's face and Hannity either doesn't know about it or doesn't care. I don't know which is the case. Let's find out. Please do one of the two following things:
1) E-mail Hannity at email@example.com and inform him about Lott's lie regarding the CCC. Mention my post or Josh Marshall's post on the matter. Ask him if he knew about this.
2) Tommorrow (Friday), call Hannity's show at 1-800-941-7326 during the hours of 3PM - 6PM EST. Ask him if he knew about Lott's lies, and if so, ask him why he gave Lott a free pass.
Attention Mainstream Media: Trent Lott Dissembles Big-Time in Interview In today's interview on Sean Hannity's radio program:
HANNITY: I want you to address this one issue that is being brought up by your critics. You had this controversy some years ago. You spoke to a group called the Concerned Citizens Council [Hannity obviously meant the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group]. You want to explain that? What if any relationship do you or did you have with that organization which has been accused of having racist points of view?
LOTT: Well, the event they are talking about, I presume was an open forum for candidates running for public office and the public was invited and the media was invited. This was not a closed thing. There were Democrats and Republicans there and African-Americans there; and it was one of those events that you have almost every two years when you have important elections in a small community. You have them all over the state. You don’t usually ask who is sponsoring this thing. In this case, I knew some of the people that were involved but I also knew that a lot of political candidates were going there and I said things that we support in terms of opportunity for our people there that I would say anyplace else. But the main thing was that it was an open forum.
REALITY: When Lott was questioned about his ties to the CCC in 1998, he gave a similar bullshit explanation:
1997: Lott holds a private meeting with the CCC in his DC office
1997: Lott endorsement of the CCC is circulated in the group's literature
1995: Lott addresses the Mississippi chapter of the CCC
1992: Lott praises the group as keynote speaker at the CCC's national convention
1991: Lott addresses the Mississippi chapter of the CCC
1989: Lott appears in CCC publication Citizens Informer with his uncle, a CCC executive, and cousin, a member
1990-1998: The Citizens Informer publishes Senator Lott's column
Lott got a free pass from the alleged liberal media once with this lie. Will the media let him get away with it again?
Instant Analysis of theTrent Lott Interview on Sean Hannity’s radio show Lott did some fancy footwork regarding his views on race. The main question raised by this interview should be: Will the mainstream media once again fail to question Lott’s dissembling regarding the extent of his involvement with and his endorsement of the Council of Conservative Citizens? More on this later.
Talk Radio’s Pathetic Apologia for Trent Lott’s Neo-Confederate Ideology I heard Sean Hannity doing his best to explain away Trent Lott’s comments endorsing Strom’s 1948 presidental candidacy. Here are main points in Hannity’s spin (which also were some of the same thoughts expressed on Michael Savage’s show yesterday):
1. What about former klansman Robert Byrd who recently used the term “white nigger”?
2. Lott is not a racist and he was just saluting a man who turned 100 (Bob Novak’s explanation).
3. Al Gore’s father voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
4. Bill Clinton recently saluted his former mentor Senator William Fulbright who opposed various pieces of civil rights legislation.
Here’s how to answer these talking points:
1. Senator Byrd was criticized for his language.
2. Lott has a long pattern of neo-Confederate thought (largely ignored by lazy and/or willing press). Trent Lott’s worldview is revealed in the pages of the Southern Partisan magazine where one finds numerous images of the romanticized view of the antebellum South. This is Lott’s view of paradise and, according to John Ashcroft, if you have a problem with that, then you represent “a perverted agenda.” Trent Lott is a neo-Confederate.
3. Gore’s father did vote against it but he later supported various pieces of civil rights legislation. Lott, on the other hand, pointed to a presidential candidacy specifically intended to thwart the civil right movement and claimed that had it succeeded, then problems would be diminished.
4. Fulbright is best known for his scholarship program and his foreign policy work. Clinton never brought up Fulbright’s opposition to civil rights legislation and praised it. In fact, the news story Hannity cited acknowledged that Clinton disagreed with Fulbright on many issues—and certainly civil rights was one of them. That’s one thing about Clinton that scared the right: Clinton’s appeals to bread-and-butter issues appealed to both African-Americans and working-class whites.
I hope Lott keeps his job in the Senate; now that Strom and Jesse are leaving, we need someone in a leadership position who reminds all Americans that the Party of Lincoln is now the Party of Jefferson Davis.
LIMBAUGH: Praising Strom Thurmond for calling a gay soldier "not normal": "He's not encumbered by being politically correct.... If you want to know what America used to be--and a lot of people wish it still were--then you listen to Strom Thurmond." (TV show, 9/1/93)
REALITY: In the America that "used to be," Strom Thurmond was one of the country's strongest voices for racism, running for president in 1948 on the slogan, "Segregation Forever."
Advance Screening Last night I went to a media screening for the New Line Cinema film About Schmidt starring Jack Nicholson. The film was directed by Alexander Payne—whose previous film, Election, is one of my favorite films of the last decade. It is a film about Warren Schmidt, a recently retired Omaha insurance actuary, who at age 67, finally decides to examine his life as he prepares for his only daughter’s wedding. I enjoyed watching this film. It wasn't as edgy as Election, but I thought it was a very good film. There were great performances by Nicholson, Kathy Bates, and Howard Hesseman. I think Dermot Mulroney stole the show with his portrayal of Schmidt’s underachieving, mullet-haired, soon-to-be son-in-law; I didn’t recognize him as one of the stars of My Best Friend’s Wedding (I’m not the only one; the production notes indicate “that during production, the younger female visitors to the set refused to believe that Mulroney, with the cascading mullet, Jerry Garcia tie, and black Reeboks, was in fact the same leading man they swooned over in My Best Friend’s Wedding”).
Random thoughts about the film: For those of you who enjoy bad films, when Schmidt is channel-surfing on the TV, he catches a few seconds of Bob Hope and Phyllis Diller in The Private Navy of Sergeant O’Farrell—one of the worst Hope comedies of the 1960’s. For those of you who enjoy bad radio, when Schmidt is in his car, he listens to Rush Limbaugh tell listeners how liberals “see a dark lining in a silver cloud.” Prior to the wedding, Schmidt stays in his future son-in-law’s room and reads the old Encyclopedia Brown books. Sometimes at these screenings, the stars show up to see the audience reaction. If I saw Nicholson, I was planning to schmooze with him—he wasn’t there so I didn’t get my chance.
The press kit we received reflects a good trend in Hollywood. Let me first give you the old movie press kit format: 9”by 12” folder with pockets containing 8.5” by 11” typed production notes and glossy stills from the film. For About Schmidt, they gave us the regular 8.5” by 11” production notes but the press kit was a CD that contained the trailer, some of the soundtrack music, photos, logos, and the production notes. A somewhat better press kit was provided for the film xXx. It consists of a standard 5.25” by 7.5” DVD box with the xXx poster on the front over. Inside, in the inside clips, is a 66-page copy of the production notes. The CD contains the trailer, 29 photos from the film, music from the soundtrack, logos, production notes, and quick access to the xXx web site. The standard CD/DVD box is great because the old folder would inevitably get creased if mailed.
More Amazon.com Follies A couple weeks ago, I criticized internet pranksters who sabatoged the Amazon.com page for Slander by recommending Mein Kampf as a companion book. Amazon.com caught this and changed it; the new companion book is Bernard Goldberg's Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News (more on this). I received an e-mail concerning how pranksters sabatoged the Amazon.com page for a book by Pat Robertson. Apparently as a result of the Reverend Robertson agreeing with Jerry Falwell that gays and other groups are to blame for the 9/11 attacks, gay activists repeatedly clicked on Robertson's book Six Steps to Spiritual Renewal and an anal sex manual for gay men, tricking Amazon.com's automated recommendation system into connecting the two items as a reflection of shoppers' interests. Read more about the flap here.
Goldberg's book has a special place in my heart. As I told reporter John Cotey, I decided to start a blog after reading Bias. The reason: the book is a joke. One of the most absurd claims in the book was one of Goldberg's examples of media bias: the fact that people in the news media tend to refer to Limbaugh as a "conservative" talk show host but don't tend to refer to Rosie O'Donnell as a "liberal" talk show host--Goldberg thought this outrage was so blatent that he mentioned it twice in his skimpy book. As I and others pointed out, a simply content analysis of Limbaugh's show and O'Donnell's former show would clearly indicate that Limbaugh spends about 98 percent of his show discussing politics and O'Donnell spent 99 percent of her show discussing entertainment topics. Many on the right didn't notice these types of howlers in the book so I added my voice to the blogosphere to address these types of issues.
The Liberal Media? Right as I'm writing this, Robert Novak is spinning wildly about Trent Lott's outrageous statements about Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential candidacy. Here's an article I suggest reading and re-reading regarding the media.
The Blankley/Limbaugh Poison It was fun listening to Rush Limbaugh getting creamed on his own show by Greg from Orlando (scroll down to 12/6 for the transcript). However, there was something in the transcript that is more important than Greg’s direct hits to the radio thug and Bush. When things got too hectic for Limbaugh and he muted Greg, he said something in his pseudo-conversation with Greg that deserves mention and discussion. Limbaugh cited Tony Blankley’s Washington Times column on John Kerry. Here is the part of Blankley’s column that Limbaugh cited:
Tim Russert asked whether there was any turning back on the presidential quest. Mr. Kerry responded: "Well, I mean, I hope not, but on the other hand, if you find that — you know, I can remember in times of war when you turn around and the troops aren't there behind you. . . ." Does he really remember that? He was a combat officer in Vietnam. Did his men fail to follow his lawful order? Did he attempt to rally the deserting troops? Was insubordination involved, or only a failure to keep track of his men's whereabouts during combat? Or, was he just slipping into his comments a sly reference to his military service?
Here’s Limbaugh’s take on Blankley’s column in his make-believe conversation with the Greg--who couldn’t answer back because Limbaugh muted him:
There’s just a story in the paper today, Greg, and I’m sorry, you missed this. I forget who wrote it—it might have been Tony Blankley’s column today. John Kerry said something, “You know, I’ve learned a lot with my military experience and if you’re leading the way and you turn around and the troops aren’t behind you, you got a real problem.” Now what he was trying to say is: Bush is trying to take us into areas nobody wants to go, but the answer to the question—or the question that is: “Oh, Senator, you were commanding officer in Vietnam and you actually turned around and troops weren’t there? What kind of commanding officer were you?” We can play this any number of ways you want, Greg, baby.
It was obvious to anyone living in reality that Kerry was speaking metaphorically about turning around and not having the troops there when he was in Vietnam. Blankley and Limbaugh chose to take Kerry’s innocuous remark, put it under a microscope, and give the most jaundiced possible interpretation to it. Limbaugh was correct when he said “we can play this any number of ways you want.” I agree: it’s just that Limbaugh and Blankley played it down and dirty. ldabney put it well: "But what he's doing is called "reifying your metaphor", treating something that's abstract as if it's concrete. Tsk, tsk! The ability to understand metaphor and analogy is a higher order thinking skill, and I doubt that Rush wants his "dittoheads" mucking around with such things, even though, as we can see, he understands it very well."
It is manifestly ridiculous to suggest that Kerry was alluding to a concrete situation in Vietnam in which he faced soldiers who were flouting his authority. What would these guys know about Kerry’s tour of duty anyway? Limbaugh, as we all know, had the pimple on the ass excuse to avoid Nam. To the best of my knowledge, in the 1960’s, Blankley’s primary activities involved creating a phony front group, the Filthy Speech Movement, to discredit the Berkeley Free Speech Movement (Obviously, this was good training for being the Washington Times’ chief political operative, er, I mean, editorial page editor). When Kerry was risking his life in the Mekong Delta, Blankley and Limbaugh were chugging beers at the Delta House. Am I alone in my outrage over these two clowns questioning the fitness of a commanding officer who was awarded a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and THREE Purple Hearts?
A larger lesson should be learned here: The issue of a political opponent’s Vietnam era status is irrelevant to the hard right:
1) If you are the hard right’s political opponent who avoided the Vietnam draft (even if you opposed the war), then the hard right calls you a draft dodger (conveniently ignoring the shitload of Republicans who were in favor of the war and whose fathers pulled strings to keep them out of Southeast Asia).
2) If you are the hard right’s political opponent and you not only served in Vietnam but also spent years of your life in the Hanoi Hilton, you become the victim of a whispering campaign by Rove and company that you are mentally unstable because of your imprisonment. During the 2000 campaign, Limbaugh even had a parody commercial "The McCain Mutiny" that had John McCain as the paranoid Captain Queeg. John McCain, it’s time to leave the GOP.
3) If you are the hard right’s political opponent who served in Vietnam as a highly-decorated commanding officer, then the hard right will come up with a reason to question your competence as an officer—no matter how many medals you were awarded.
This reveals a fundamental truth: the hard right (which encompasses most of the Republican Party) cannot be reasoned with—it must be discredited and defeated. One exception: if you are a pushover like Juan Williams or Alan Colmes, you can be friends with the right and get a cushy deal with Fox News to be pushed around by the Neanderthals on that network.
UPDATE: Even many Freepers are not buying Rush's attacks on John Kerry. Some of the posts are downright pro-Kerry (at least regarding his military service) and anti-Limbaugh.
Weekend Stuff I'm going to be posting over the weekend. I changed the name of my Ann Coulter page to attract more web surfers. I added some new blog links. One I wanted to specifically mention is Mark A. R. Kleiman's blog. A few years ago, I was a grad student in my first year and teaching a course on drugs and society. I heard about a conference at Harvard Law School sponsored by the Drug Policy Foundation (DPF) so I attended it. DPF is a pro-legalization group and I have heard all of the legalization arguments and I was skeptical (and I still am skeptical). Let me digress--I am strongly in favor of medical marijuana, access to syringes, the medical use of psychedelics, and jury nullification. I am strongly opposed to mandatory minimum sentences, asset forfeiture, and people like Bill Bennett. Anyway, Kleiman, who unlike about 95 percent of the people at the conference was not a legalizer, gave a talk and faced a slew hostile questions; he did a very good job of answering those questions, even though, unlike talk radio jocks, he didn't have a mute button.
Truncated Transcript of Rush Being Clubbed Like A Baby Seal--WITH AN IMPORTANT UPDATE Transcribing is no fun but it was a blast transcribing Rush's conversation with Greg (possibly Gregg) from Orlando. The only problem is that the audio from Limbaugh's web site cut off the last part of the conversation in which Greg from Orlando confronts Rush about his lie that he didn't avoid military service in Nam because of a pilonidal cyst (the last part of the conversation is described in Joe Conason's blog). If anyone has a transcript of this last part of Greg's conversation with Rush, please let me know.
UPDATE 9:35 A.M. PST: 1) I received a WAV file from one of our friends at Rush Versus Reality. To Limbaugh's credit, he didn't delete the last part of Greg's conversation from his audio file. To Limbaugh's discredit, the reason he didn't need to do this was because Limbaugh or someone in the control room muted Greg's follow-up when he tried to confront Limbaugh about the pilonidal cyst lie. The audio file I received is no different than the one on Limbaugh's web site except it goes a few seconds beyond the audio on Limbaugh's web site; there is no followup response by Greg about Limbaugh's pilonidal cyst lie--it's just Limbaugh going to the next caller: "Judy in Chicago, you're next..." In my last conversation with Rush (scroll down to 11/27), the same thing happened: When Limbaugh began to give his long speech after he interupted me I began to interject but soon discovered after saying a couple sentences that Limbaugh was still talking and couldn't hear me--and soon thereafter, I was disconnected. In both cases, Rush performed a "seamless mute"--one in which the listeners don't have any idea that the caller is trying to make a point but is muted. In other cases, the muting of the caller is not so smooth. A case in point, when I was confronting Matt Drudge about the Ken-Lay-stayed-overnight-in-the-Clinton-White-House smear, when I mocked him about not responding and said "Where’s Drudge? Hello. [laughing] There’s no Drudge," this was muted but it lead to four seconds of dead air for radio listeners--a major no-no for radio. 2) Rush's distortions of Kerry's words that led to his questioning of Kerry's fitness as a battlefield commander deserve a response. I'll give that later.
Here is a transcript of the incredible conversation:
LIMBAUGH: Here’s Greg in Orlando Florida. Nice to have you on the program, sir. Welcome.
LIMBAUGH: Yes sir.
GREG: Yes, about John Kerry. I’m not as sure that he’s going to be as easy to write off as a garden-variety liberal. Did you see the New Yorker piece on him a couple weeks ago?
LIMBAUGH: Yeah, You mean the one with molasses dripping off of it.
GREG: It started out telling the story of how when Vietnam happened, he went down to the recruiting station and signed up with his two best friends, John J. Pershing III and Fred Smith, the founder of Federal Express. Now that’s the kind of gravitas that gave me a chill up my spine. And I’m wondering if in the debates with Bush, he might ask Bush just off-the-cuff “Where were you when you were supposed to have shown up for duty in Mississippi and you didn’t show up for that year?”--in the national guard when he dodged the Vietnam draft. And Rush you never mentioned how you dodged the Vietnam draft.
LIMBAUGH: I didn’t
GREG: Yes, you did. You claimed you had a boil on your butt—
[Limbaugh mutes Greg]
LIMBAUGH: No, you see, that’s part of popular mythology that is out there that I have not whined nor complained about, Greg. But that is just a bunch of internet BS and hyperbole. Never happened. Was not the cause, wasn’t the case. This business of Bush is a bunch of BS, too. And if John Kerry tries to bring up Vietnam in a debate with George W. Bush, and asks that question, all Bush has got to do is bring up Bill Clinton—and all he’s got to do is give a couple quotes about John Kerry. There’s just a story in the paper today, Greg, and I’m sorry, you missed this. I forget who wrote it—it might have been Tony Blankley’s column today. John Kerry said something, “You know, I’ve learned a lot with my military experience and if you’re leading the way and you turn around and the troops aren’t behind you, you got a real problem.” Now what he was trying to say is: Bush is trying to take us into areas nobody wants to go, but the answer to the question—or the question that is: “Oh, Senator, you were commanding officer in Vietnam and you actually turned around and troops weren’t there? What kind of commanding officer were you?” We can play this any number of ways you want, Greg, baby. But until you can get your facts straight and stop believing a bunch of internet B.S. and hyperbole, you guys are—You see, this is exactly what they have been doing for fourteen years, my friends. And we haven’t been complaining about it--we haven’t been whining about it. And not one thing he said has anything to do with the ideas that are important to the American people today. It isn’t about personalities, Greg. Although if it were, you’d definitely be climbing out of a hole that you’ve just dug for yourself. Judy in Chicago, you're next. Welcome...
UPDATE: Limbaugh is also a racist (scroll up to my 12/18 post).
Must Read, Must Listen Joe Conason tells of a caller who got past Limbaugh's screener and tore Limbaugh a new one. I listened to it; the call is a classic. Addendum: It's about time that a columnist for a major newspaper wrote what is in tomorrow's E.J. Dionne column.
Quick Takes It's taking a long time on the critique of the Wall Street Journal columns I mentioned in my previous post. I'm amazed at the temerity of the editorial page folks for reprinting Morrison's column. Maybe Dr. Krauthammer M.D. (Psychiatry) can make a diagnosis of their reasons for reprinting it (Slate has a much better "blast from the past" article).Thanks everyone who contributed; I was able to go to Ralphs and get some Scoobie Snacks (carrots, apples, and beets). For a laugh, click to the post on Democratic Underground that points out how the mustached picture of Rush Limbaugh from the 1970's looks a lot like porno star Ron Jeremy (who, by the way, is masterfully lampooned by Horatio Sanz in the upcoming American Pie knockoff, After School Special; Sanz's character is Vic Ramalot--get it?).
Why Aren't Progressive Making Inroads In Syndicated Talk Radio? The Right Is Gaming the System. Randi Rhodes, a popular talk radio host on the left (she's ranked as number two in her market), was refused syndication by Clear Channel, because a certain talk radio host with a pilonidal cyst said that if Clear Channel syndicated her, he would go elsewhere. Why is El Rushbo and the right afraid of Rhodes? Because she puts righteous foot to right-wing ass. Here is a sample of her work; Rhodes puts wingnut Oliver North in his place.
A Note to Cursor readers I'd first like to thank Cursor.org for linking to my short conversation with Rush Limbaugh(scroll down to 11/27). Be sure to click to the link to read the transcript of my longer conversation with Limbaugh that occurred in 2000. Also, scroll down to read about how my activites made wingnut David Horowitz have a hissy fit. Also, read the 12/01 post and e-mail Howard Kurtz--it's important. I'm having a great time now but I'm working on other projects.
Religious Perversity in Los Angeles When it comes to odd religions, LA is best known for being the home of the world headquarters of the Church of Scientology. The Los Angeles Jewish Journal has an informative article on a huge campaign in the City of Angels by Jews for Jesus (anytime I see one of them handing out tracts on Venice Beach, I inform the person that I'm a "Hindu for Buddha"). Also, recently my neighborhood was bombed with newsletters from nutcase Tony Alamo. For those of you not familiar with Alamo, he set up a church/cult with his wife Susan. When Susan Alamo died of cancer in 1982, Alamo and parishioners tried to resurrect her from the dead (local disc jockeys played the song, Wake Up, Little Suzie when they heard about it). Alamo, along with Jack Chick, is one of the last vestiges of the "Whore of Babylon" school of anti-Catholicism. On the topic of Jack Chick (who is from nearby Ontario, CA), I received an e-mail that Chick has a new comic tract called "Fallen." It's a hoot.
Once again, Howard Kurtz has dropped the ball regarding Rush Limbaugh. Despite massive criticism of Kurtz’s standing up for Limbaugh in the face of Tom Daschle’s criticism of Limbaugh, Kurtz had a softball interview with the hate-meister on CNN’s Reliable Sources (click here for the transcript). When Kurtz stuck up for Limbaugh in his Post column, he asked, “Has the senator listened to Rush lately?” and claimed that Limbaugh was in the “mainstream.” People familiar with Limbaugh’s rhetoric responded, “Has Kurtz listened to Limbaugh lately?”