Heads I Win; Tails You Lose If your name is Clinton, there's no way you can win with the Dolphin Queen, Peggy Noonan (or any of the other wing-nuts on the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, for that matter). Here's Nooner on the appearance by the Clintons at Billy Graham's last crusade held in Flushing Meadows, New York:
And there are the Clintons. There are always the Clintons. The man for whom Barack Obama worked so hard in 1992 showed up with his wife this week to take center stage at Billy Graham's last crusade in New York. Billy Graham is a great man. He bears within him deep reservoirs of sweetness, and the reservoirs often overflow. It was embarrassing to see America's two most famous political grifters plop themselves in the first row dressed in telegenic silk and allow themselves to become the focus of sweet words they knew would come.
Why did they feel it right to inject a partisan political component into a spiritual event? Why take advantage of the good nature and generosity of an old hero? Why, after spending their entire adulthoods in public life, have they not developed or at least learned to imitate simple class?
I suppose if the Clintons didn't go to the crusade (which took place in the state in which both Clintons reside), they would be snubbing "people of faith."
It isn't as if this isn't par for the course for Noonan. Here are a couple things she said about Bill and Hillary in the past. Noonan lets us know her superhuman ability to read faces:
Neither [Hillary] nor Bill loves America. They don't want the presidency to help the country but to use it as a platform to power...I met Hillary recently at the funeral of a mutual friend. It was bizarre; when she looked at me her face separated into entirely different halves. Her mouth smiled but her eyes told me quite clearly, "I detest you and will do my best to destroy you."
In her screed, The Case against Hillary Clinton, Noonan makes the following analysis:
It's as if [Bill and Hillary] don't have a facade, they've become a facade. You sense a depression on his part and an anger on hers. They seem to me trapped, lost in a maze of inauthenticity, looking for the admiration that they think will lead them home.
Noonan isn't the only one who can read faces. I possess that trait also. I saw Noonan on MSNBC recently and her mouth was telling me that the US should be resolute in the War On Terror but her eyes told me quite clearly, "I would like to straddle a gang of al-Qaeda warriors in the reverse cowgirl position."
War of the Worlds Premiere and Scientology I checked out the War of the Worlds premiere last night. No, I didn't crash the after-party--they didn't even have an after-party to crash. That sucked.
There was a huge crowd outside Grauman's Chinese Theater for the premiere. I got there too late to get a WOTW t-shirt.
Ever since Tom Cruise became vocal about how Scientology is the answer to humanity's problems, there has been more media scrutiny of Scientology (which is a bad thing for Scientology). For instance, Salon is doing a four-part series on the cult and the first two installments are far from flattering (the first Salon story is a primer on Scientology's Xenu-based theology and the second story slams L. Ron Hubbard's turgid and sterile book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.
One thing from the first Salon article I didn't know was that Greta Van Stretched-Face was gullible enough to shell out the cash to go to the OT level of Scientology. I did more research on the net and found out that she was also scammed by a Scientology con artist. Maybe she actually believed her own bullshit when she joined Fox News and contended that they really were fair and balanced. Click here and scroll down to listen to Howard Stern's hilarious take on Van Susteren as a child of Dianetics.
One of the good things about living in LA is that with so many Scientologists fishing for live ones, it's a field day for mockers like me. Scientology has a fair game policy but so do I: if you approach me on the street trying to convert me, then expect to get ridiculed.
Around LA, there are Scientologists with e-meters and signs that read "FREE STRESS TEST." This is the first step to getting fresh suckers to the Dianetics scam. Whenever Scientology toadies offered me this "service," I've had success getting rid of them with the following responses: "Do you think you could get John Travolta to give me a part in one of his movies?" "I think I have a thetan cluster on my foot, but it might be a corn. Could you make a diagnosis?" "I just spoke to Xenu and he told me I was already Clear." [in a redneck voice looking at the e-meter]: "Ain't nobody gonna hook me up to no jumper cables!"
Misc. Religious Stuff I was in Westwood Village and on top of a newspaper rack for The Daily Bruin was a Spanish language version copy of one of the lamer Chick tracts "Tiny Shoes" (the Spanish language version is called "Los Zapatitos").
Last night, a friend and I checked out the scene near the Third Street Promenade. There was a group of Bible-beaters with a banner that read, "THE LORD KILLS--REPENT!" Whenever I see such a group, I ask them if they're giving out Chick tracts. I asked the guy who was the head of this group (I later found out his name--I'm not making this up--is Darwin Fish, which made me think of this) for a Chick tract. Mr. Fish told me that Chick is a false teacher because he is a five-point Calvinist and a KJV-Only proponent. He gave me a tract that also had the title, "THE LORD KILLS--REPENT!" which identified his group as "a true church."
I took a look at the tract and it had a section titled, "BEWARE," which listed what Mr. Fish and "a true church" believe are false teachers; included in the list of the deluded are Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, John Hagee, James Dobson, and many others. I asked Mr. Fish what he thought about the late reconstructionistRousas John Rushdoony; Mr. Fish wasn't familiar with him.
I also noticed that in the "BEWARE" section that it lambasted "certain holidays" such as Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. I told Mr. Fish that I liked Halloween. He asked me why. I told him my reasons: 1) You get to wear whatever you want; 2) Halloween is noted for great parties; and 3) Halloween gives women an excuse to dress like tarts. He wasn't impressed with my response and the conversation soon ended.
Later, I took a look at Mr. Fish's web site (which was listed on the "THE LORD KILLS--REPENT!" tract). The site is totally hard-core. Check out their intro. A true church even has a blog.
Why We Need Air America I just heard a little bit of the Edward Klein interview on the Al Franken radio show. Joe Conason was a guest and he savaged Klein on his shoddy reporting for the book. UPDATE: Here's the audio. It's fucking great. UPDATE: More on Klein by Michael Tomasky.
An Encouraging Phenomenon Kudos to those in the blogosphere who have responded to Karl Rove's latest effort to exploit 9/11 and smear Democrats (remember that when the twin towers were still smoldering that Rove proclaimed that the GOP will use the tragic events in the 2002 congressional elections). I haven't written about it because so many others are doing such a good job.
meta-crash Pronunciation: mA-tÃ krash Function: verb Etymology: meta- plus Middle English crasschen transitive sense 1 : to enter or attend an event devoted to crashing events without an invitation.
I recently found out that the premiere for the forthcoming film Wedding Crashers will be held in New York City at the Ziegfeld Theatre on July 13. It doesn't appear there will be an LA premiere.
That's okay that it's not in LA because I wasn't planning on crashing the premiere or the after-party. Those of you familiar with this blog might be surprised to hear that: What better party to crash than one devoted to the subject of crashing?
I'm way ahead of the curve on that one; earlier this month, I crashed the Wedding Crashers press junket held from June 10th through the 12th. I wasn't that interested in going; I wasn't that interested that much in the round robin of interviews with the cast and director (though I went to the Four Seasons on both the 11th and 12th) and I wasn't the least bit interested in hanging out with entertainment reporters at the press party at Hooter's (I had a much more compelling party to attend that evening; sorry, I can't give details).
I went because it would involve meta-crashing--a term I just coined to describe sneaking into events devoted to sneaking into events; plus I wanted to go to the press screening of the film. I expected this to be a formulaic Hollywood date film (think Hitch). To my pleasant surprise, it wasn't. I enjoyed the off-beat and dark humor (the film's writers wrote for the short-lived TV series The Trouble With Normal). The quirkiness of Wedding Crashers really won me over.
The protagonists (played by Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn) engage in some crashing behavior that, from a dharmic standpoint, I wouldn't have done. While it would be a bit of a stretch to call for a code of ethics for people who sneak into events in which they were not invited, I will--in an upcoming post--discuss the ethical aspects of crashing events.
What Next? A Lecture from Jack Abramoff on Ethical Lobbying? On his radio show today, GOP flack Sean Hannity threw some softballs to Karl Rove. Rove gladly answered Hannity's questions about how the Democrats are lowering the bar on political civility.
It's bad enough that journalists have to prostitute their journalistic integrity in order to work for Roger Ailes, but now it appears that they have also sacrificed their health and the health of their children. Ailes ordered neurotoxic insecticide sprayings for the Fox News building in New York (via Atrios). This has led to the hospitalization of at least one Fox News employee and is suspected in the birth of a Downs Syndrome baby by another employee.
Ailes cares so much about you that he is covering it up and firing people at Fox News who do the right thing and address the issue. If you read this blog, you would know what a dick Ailes it.
Now you can do something about it. 1. File a Worker's Compensation claim. 2. Sue Ailes and Rupert Murdoch. Take a look at Murdoch's News Corporation. Talk about really deep pockets. 3. Find others and make it a class-action suit. 4. In the meantime, take as much evidence (memos, edited stories, tape recordings of meetings) that shows that Fox News is more of a political operation than a journalistic outlet and write an expose of Fox News. Be a journalist for once. 5. If you lack the documentation illustrating how Fox News is a political operation, tape record meetings and conversations with other employees and management. From what I've heard, it won't be difficult to get a lot of incriminating evidence. 6. Try to find incriminating evidence about the insecticide cover-up. 7. Contact city, state, and federal agencies that address worker safety. The U Department of Labor would be a good start.
Do the right thing. It's good for you dignity and your health. It can also make you a very wealthy individual.
The other day I was at a party with a group of politicos, and the subject of far-rightwing literary agent Lucianne Goldberg arose.
So I reminded everyone how biographer Kitty Kelley had successfully sued her agent, Goldberg, for damages after the publication of Kelley's biography of Elizabeth Taylor. Goldberg, said Kelley, was guilty of breach of contract, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty with regard to the handling of Kelley's royalties.
The jury agreed--and awarded Kelley punitive damages as well.
Speaking at the trial, Carl Brandt, one of the most well-respected literary agents of our time, spoke out against Goldberg, saying (and here I quote the Washington Post article on the trial) that Goldberg's conduct "constitutes gross violations of accepted industry standards and practices applicable to literary agents, as well as fraud and highly morally culpable conduct unsuited to one acting as a literary agent."
None of my political friends knew this.
I was shocked. I mentioned it to a few other people. They did not know this either. I Googled it. Sure enough, people have indeed discussed Goldberg's treachery during the Lewinsky debacle, but it seems to have drifted out of the public view.
Why is it that conservatives are not only willing to call liberals on their transgressions, but willing to slander them as well? And never let it drop? Why is it liberals, trying to fight the good fight, feel it's somehow wrong? You should never fight mean. You shouldn't hurt anyone.
I'm not suggesting slander and libel. I'm only say that when you actually have truth on your side, there's no reason to let it go. Ever.
Remember how, in the Odyssey, dawn is always, "rosy fingered dawn?" Or during the heyday of Spy Magazine, Donald Trump was always "short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump?
Every time Goldberg's name is mentioned, the word "thief" should be right there.
Every time anyone on the far right who's guilty of any kind of criminal behavior is mentioned, the facts should be right there.
When one side is constantly making up, and then throwing, dirt, there is nothing wrong with using the truth to fight back. It's time the left realized that fighting politely while the other side is viciously punching below the belt may mean you're left with a little more dignity, but you've probably lost the fight.
LA Film Festival I finally made to the Los Angeles Film Festival yesterday. A friend and I went to the Shorts Program 1 (there's another showing 1:30 on 6/26 at the Director's Guild). I liked every one but my favorite was The Raftman's Razor which I thought was really tight. I could tell that Keith Bearden, the director, knows both cinematic art and sequential art.
My second favorite short was Are You The Favorite Person of Anybody? During the closing credits of this film, audience members were laughing; I was laughing uncontrollably. I really liked the film.
After the screening, my friend and I were milling around the DGA building lobby getting swag and talking to people. My friend and I separated and we spoke with different people. I was buttonholed by a Communist who lectured me about Marxist theory and art--he was distributing the Revolutionary Worker newspaper; my friend, on the hand, was talking to the producer of a critically-acclaimed film. What did I do to deserve that?
Consider Michael Kinsley, the Los Angeles Times editorial page editor and columnist, who recently derided the [Downing Street Memo's] importance. According to him, "you don't need a secret memo" to know that "the administration's decision to topple Saddam Hussein by force" had been reached by then. Anybody could tell that war was "inevitable," he wrote. "Just look at what was in the newspapers on July 23, 2002, and the day before," he wrote, citing an opinion column by Robert Scheer and a Times story about Pentagon war planning.
But let's also look at what Kinsley himself wrote on July 12, 2002, after those war plans were leaked. On the Post's Op-Ed page, he suggested that despite all the logistical planning and bellicose rhetoric, "Bush may be bluffing ... Or he may be lying, and the leak may be part of an official strategy of threatening all-out war in the hope of avoiding it, by encouraging a coup or persuading Hussein to take early retirement or in some other way getting him gone without a massive invasion."
So Kinsley himself wasn't quite certain whether Bush had decided on war, yet now he says we all knew.
LA Film Festival I finally have time to attend some screenings at the LA Film Festival. I don't know what I will see yet. Two films from last year's festival I enjoyed were Up for Grabs and Tarnation (which I missed at the festival but saw later).
Book Notes One must read book that is available online is Eric Scheibeler's Merchants of Deception. Click here to download the book. I read it and it is shocking. Amway is a bizarre Republican cult-like organization in which the people at the bottom are the most fervent (probably because, like Sun Myung Moon's devotees, their fervor is all they have). This is sad because despite all of Amway/Quixtar's hype about financial independence by becoming a member, very few people achieve this. Most lose money and some make chump-change by working long hours.
It's also a shame how little scrutiny Democrats have given to these scam artists who are major bankrollers of the Republican Party (also, click here and here). Contrast that with Republicans who target for smearing major funders of Democratic causes such as Hollywood and George Soros (Remember Dennis Hastert's innuendo that Soros makes his money from drug dealing?). Scamway/Quixtar is a huge target that Democrats aren't exploiting.
Another note on books, I noticed on the Google ad that appears on this site that it advertised Edward Klein's libel-laden book The Truth About Hillary(click here, here, here, here, and here). I'm not going to be any part of that. I removed the Google ad from this site.
One final book note, as luck would have it, Mark Fuhrman's book on Terri Schiavo, Silent Witness : The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo's Death, will be released in a couple weeks--right after the autopsy showed the following: Schiavo could not respond to visual stimuli (take that, Bill Frist); Schiavo was in a vegetative state (remember when the Schindler family divined Terri's intent by saying that she said "nooo" when they told her that her feeding tube would be taken out?); and that her state was not due to trauma (take that, "Coach" Sean Hannity; Quick note: read today's Howler for more). Anyway, Fuhrman's book, more than likely, contradicts the autopsy findings because it is aimed at the wing-nut book-buying demographic. It's a good thing that his thunder is being stolen. Synchronicity.
UPDATE: I almost forgot: I noticed that Michael Kelly's Things Worth Fighting for: Collected Writings was now in paperback. It still has the fraudulent "Farmer Al" column.
I Transcribe; You Decide Representative Tom Tancredo (R-Colo) on Al "Right" Rantel's LA radio show (KABC) today:
TANCREDO: There is a phenomenon that we have to work with in this country and it is not necessarily created by massive immigration but it is certainly exacerbated by it and that is the cult of multiculturalism--
TANCREDO: --that permeates our society--
RANTEL: Right. It no longer means anything to be an American.
TANCREDO: That's right and we tell out children in school--
TANCREDO: --and the California schools are some of the worst for this--
TANCREDO: --from some of the high schools out there--
TANCREDO: --teach children that there is nothing of value in Western society--that to be part of America is to be part of something of which you are ashamed.
Book Recommendation I was in the bookstore the other day and got the chance to check out Robert Greenwald and Alexandra Kitty book Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War On Journalism. The book is a terrific supplement to the documentary film. Books, however, can go into the kind of detail not practical for a film and I appreciate the comprehensiveness of the book.
I thought the chapter on Roger Ailes was especially strong. The man is a complete fuckpig and a disgrace to journalism (Click here for my brief article on Ailes). Coincidently, when I was in the bookstore, I noticed a copy of Ailes' book You Are the Message. It's a good book on the presentation of the self and it got me to think how Ailes and I are opposites: I don't care a whole lot about the outside; I focus on the substance of a matter. Ailes, on the other hand, is all marketing (e.g., "We report; you decide.") and no substance (e.g., his supposedly "fair and balanced" news channel is a freakish mixture of transparent Republican hacks and neutered Democrats). The man has no soul.
More Hillary-bashing The other day, Media Matters for America documented that the first verifiable claim made by Edward Klein in his forthcoming book The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President was false. Now, Media Matters has two more articles on distortions, misrepresentations, and innuendo in the book: Click here and here. 6/8 UPDATE: Today's Howler has more.
Quasi-crashing the Batman Begins Premiere After-Party This time, I was semi-legit. Here's the story: I have a friend who had an invitation to the premiere and after-party (I can't go into detail because I want him to remain anonymous). He took his girlfriend to the premiere and she wasn't sure if she wanted to go to the party. He told me to meet with him and his girlfriend after the screening and they would let me know if she wanted to go to the party. If not, I could go in her place.
After the screening, she said she didn't want to go. This isn't fullblown crashing but party tickets are not transferable (the party ticket read "Strictly non-transferable") and I wasn't supposed to be admitted. I just hoped they didn't ask for names at the door. They didn't.
It was held at the Hollywood and Highland Grand Ballroom. We had an okay time. Wolfgang Puck catered the party. It just seemed like a Hollywood party, not a Batman-themed party.
Warner Brother must have spent a fortune for four huge 15 to 20 foot tall bat wings. They could have better utilized the money to give party guests some cool Batman swag. I hope that doesn't sound too presumptuous considering that I wasn't invited. If the studios were smart, they would hire me as a party consultant; I know what works and what doesn't.
UPDATE: I didn't see Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise at the party. I saw Christian Bale leaving the screening. I wasn't focused on the actors; I hoped to see Neal Adams or one of the DC crew but didn't.
. . .My subject is not Hillary. My subject is history. The Klein book [The Truth About Hillary : What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President], like Morris's recent Rewriting History, is produced in the first instance to damage Hillary Clinton in the short term (well, actually, point No. 1 is to make money; hurting Clinton is a close second). But there is another reason these anti-Clinton tomes still appear with regularity, and liberals who criticize the Clintons from the left need to recognize it: The right knows that if its historical interpretation of Clintonism can prevail, then liberalism as a project can be killed for decades. That is: If they can persuade America over the next few crucial years (crucial because historical interpretations of Clintonism are just really beginning) that the Clinton era was not one of prosperity, peace, and a demonstration that government can deliver common goods, but was instead one of corruption, turpitude, and a fat and happy people discarding its moral values for the sake of higher mutual-fund values, they will have won an extremely important argument with serious long-term ramifications. . .
Thank goodness, they haven't yet managed to rewrite Watergate except in the pages of their own sheets. But they're rewriting the 1990s, and they're working overtime to ensure that they will control how the history of the current administration is written. Young people who don't care about Mark Felt should at least be moved, one hopes, to care that history remains history and is not subverted into propaganda. The future depends on it.
I am really baffled by [Charles] Colson and Gordon Liddy lecturing the world about public morality. Both of them went to jail after being convicted of misbehavior surrounding the Watergate cover-up. They were threatening and they paid a price for it. And as far as I'm concerned they have no standing in the morality debate.
[Pat] Buchanan is a little different because he hasn't done time, but I'm not ready to be part of his indignation.
A Note to Bloggers about the Downing Street Memo Every little bit counts when it comes to bringing attention to the Downing Street Memo (it's not as if we can depend upon members of the mainstream media--especially the Washington press corps--to do their jobs on this or any other issue). Google bombing is one way to get informative sites to the top of Google searches. That is why I created a Downing Street Memo Google bomb. Because bloggers have added these Google bombs to their sites, a Google search of "Downing Street Memo" yields informative sites.
Quick update: John Kerry wants to make an issue out of the Downing Street Minutes. Here's what he had to say: "I think it's a stunning, unbelievably simple and understandable statement of the truth and a profoundly important document that raises stunning issues here at home. And it's amazing to me the way it escaped major media discussion. It's not being missed on the Internet, I can tell you that."
As the Washington Post again basks in the faded glory of its Watergate coverage, many of the scandal's crucial lessons remain obscure even to people close to the iconic events of 33 years ago. Ironically, that's especially true for those on the winning side.
Indeed, it could be said that today's U.S. political imbalance--tilting so much in favor of Republicans over Democrats--derived from the simple fact that conservatives learned the real lessons of Watergate while the liberals didn't.
Most importantly, the bitter experience of Watergate taught the conservatives the need to control the flow of information at the national level.
Following President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974, former Treasury Secretary William Simon and other conservative leaders began pulling together the resources for building the right-wing media infrastructure that is now arguably the most intimidating force in U.S. politics. A key goal was to make sure they could protect future Republican presidents from "another Watergate." [For details, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]
Meanwhile, liberals largely treated the Watergate scandal as manna from heaven and assumed that similar gifts would be delivered by the mainstream news media whenever future Republican governments stepped out of line. The Left saw little need for media investment and instead stressed local grassroots organizing around social issues.
This progressive priority--summed up in the slogan, "think globally, act locally"--became almost dogma on the Left, even as conservatives expanded their political base across the country by exploiting their widening advantage in media, from AM talk radio and cable TV news to magazines, newspapers and the Internet.
Hey, I Have Standards I was having sushi with a director friend in Hollywood Tuesday night when we observed that the premiere for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was nearby at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre. With a little effort, we found out the premiere's after-party was at Skybar. I wasn't interested but I helped my director friend get in. My reward: last night he gave me a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants towel that was given to party guests. Woo Hoo--as if.
A Good Omen I'm not the only person to note that the disclosure by W. Mark Felt that he is the artist formerly known as Deep Throat coincided with the broaching of talk of the impeachment of George W. Bush over the Downing Street Memo and other high crimes and misdemeanors.
On a similar note, check out the articles on Watergate, Deep Throat, and the current sad state of investigative reporting by the mainstream media by Greg Palast and David J. Sirota.
Remarkably, [Bob] Woodward sleepwalked through eight years of Bill and Hillary Clinton. There he was, sitting on the second biggest story of his career -- the emerging impeachment of Bill Clinton -- and he didn't act. Travelgate, FBI Filegate, missing Rose law firm documents found in Hillary's residence, the conviction of Webb Hubble, Vince Foster's mysterious death, the endless parade of White House bimbos ... all seemed to add up to nothing in the eyes of Mr. Woodward and his colleagues at The Post.
A Small Success In April, when John Cloud wrote a godawful Time cover story on well-known dissembler Ann Coulter, it wasn't business as usual. Internet pundits and the blogosphere addressed Cloud's puff piece swiftly and decisively. My small contribution was to update my blog on Coulter's book Slander because Cloud had written in the Time article these infamous words: "Coulter has a reputation for carelessness with facts, and if you Google the words 'Ann Coulter lies,' you will drown in results. But I didn't find many outright Coulter errors."
Of course, this was laughably bad reporting because my Slander-blog was one of the first sites to pop up for a Google search of "Ann Coulter lies" and my site gave numerous examples not just of errors but of outright deception on Coulter's part just in the book Slander. Since the Time article came out, I have received over 6000 hits based on Google or Yahoo searches of "Ann Coulter lies" and they continue to this day. Every little bit counts.