A Legacy Already

If Bill Clinton is as popular as he is today after failing to deliver on two huge campaign promises, health care reform, and open military service for gays, imagine how history will judge Barack Obama. While it is true that in fulfilling Clinton's agenda Obama had the benefit of 18 years of general public attitude shifts, the congressional opposition to his plans have still been strong. In his approach he was vilified by both sides for either causing detriment or not doing enough.

Throughout being called "disengaged" by members of his own party for his coolness Obama has steadily delivered on the issues for which he campaigned. Two weeks after being accused of weakness by avowed progressives for postponing a repeal in tax cuts for the wealthy, Congress successfully took up his cause to repeal the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. With the clock ticking down to Christmas, the Senate then immediately went into discussion on the nuclear arms treaty Obama is looking to have ratified. It may very well pass!

Obama's biggest challenge thus far has not been the predictable confrontation coming from the Republicans, but the flack he has taken from his own party. Impatience is part of what has stirred his base. The other factor is the tendency to focus on the news of the day rather than on the big picture. The most antsy progressives have followed and propelled an inaccurate narrative that Obama does not fight hard enough for what he believes in. They go through flashes of outrage when they see coverage of how fast his agenda is not moving or when there seems to be backward momentum. They are chasing the ball. Meanwhile, Obama seems to be studying the men on the field. Either that or every victory he has won has been by sheer luck. If the latter is the case he is the luckiest president this country has ever had.

On any given bad day people line up to eulogize Obama's presidency yet few proclaim a likely second term when things go right. If there is any reason why he seems disengaged, that would be it. If Obama paid his loudest critics any mind it is doubtful he would have racked up the successes he has. To justify their decision to be dissatisfied with Obama, the put off progressives deride what he has done as not good enough or watered down. Like the Republicans they have resolved to just be against him. Some have even chastised him for his Afghanistan policy, though it is the policy he campaigned on when they were donating money and knocking on doors for him.

It is Obama that history will judge and not the armchair chiefs of staff who give up on Obama on a weekly basis. The president knows this which is why he is playing for the long term; not just for reelection, but for the books.

Was It Karma?

In 1953 Eartha Kitt recorded her classic Christmas hit "Santa Baby." Nearly 60 years later the song sits in the Pantheon of seasonal classics along with the likes of "The Little Drummer Boy," "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing," and "O, Come All Ye Faithful." The only difference is that none of those songs sexualize Santa Claus.

Though Kitt is never explicit in the song, her tone is graphic enough to the point that when she sings "come and trim my Christmas tree..." I'm not imagining an evergreen if you know what I'm saying. You may ask, why would Santa Claus be adorning her pubic region with some decorations bought at Tiffany. I don't know, but why else why would she be singing the song like that?

Until this writing I had always put Jimmy Boyd's "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" in this same category of "sexual Santa carol" until just moments ago it occurred to me that in that song Mommy was kissing Daddy who was dressed up like Santa. It may be the values voter in me to point this out, but engaging in sexual activity with the use of costumes is fetishism, be it suggested or clear cut. Still, "I Saw Mommy" comes off as more innocent even as a child aged in the single digits witnesses the intro to this romp under the mistletoe.

"Santa Baby" sees "I Saw Mommy"'s fetishism and raises it one prostitution. Right? She is purring out her pricey Christmas list as we are led to believe she is going to screw Santa in return. A convertible? A sable? A platinum mine? If you're daughter got that stuff from Santa you'd smack her in the head and ship her off to a South Pole nunnery.

"Santa Baby" is a song at the line of sacrilege. Right on the other side of that line would be a song called "Jesus Baby." I do not know what the words to that one would be and frankly I don't want to know, but Kitt knew the limit and she took us all there. We loved her for it and it was a blessing for her for the rest of her life... or was it? It was a big day when Eartha Kitt died. It was a Thursday in 2008 on which many of us gathered together, but not to mourn the loss of a singing icon. We gathered together to open presents and eat a big dinner while possibly listening to Santa Baby in the background. Eartha Kitt died on the very day she sang about (presumably) in her biggest hit. What is up with that?

WEEPER OF THE HOUSE by Ray Richmond

Things that make John Boehner cry:

--Baby ducks swimming in line behind their mother on a lake.

--The scent of rose petals.

--Watching Larry King’s final night on CNN.

--Moonlit walks on the beach late at night with his beloved (himself).

--Rainbows, puppy dogs and lollypops.

--Every rendition of “God Bless America” at every sporting event in America.

--The daily memory of his humble roots.

--The feel of faux animal fur on his sensitive skin.

--Weddings.

--Bar Mitzvahs.

--“The Simpsons.”

--Lady Gaga.

--The bumps and grinds of a stripper at The Royal Palace on Connecticut Avenue in D.C.

--Television interviews.

--Other people named John.

--The sound people make when they mispronounce his name “Boner,” “Banner” or “Limbaugh.”

--Democrats.

--Republicans.

--Men.

--Women.

--Children.

--Sunsets.

--Sunrises.

--Halitosis.

--Estate taxes.

--The memory of crying fits from the past.

--All of those “P” women (Pelosi, Palin, Plinton).

--The heart-rending tale of the illegal immigrant who cleans his home.

--Borat.

--Pantomime.

Things that make John Boehner laugh:

--Children without health insurance.

--The feel of genuine animal fur on his wife’s ruddy skin.

--Parole hearings.

--Funerals.

--Due process.

--The excruciating agony of others.

--Unemployment.

--Drug-induced coma.

--“Schindler’s List.”

--The thought of global thermonuclear war.

--Divorce.

--The idea that he’ll soon be third in line for the Presidency.

--Hearing people say the term “Jewish holidays.”

--Sexual abuse of children through the clergy.

--Watching video of rogue cops beating people senseless.

--Bedbugs.

--Oncology wards.

--Hearing people whine about that BP thing.

--Teen pregnancy.

--Vomiting.

--Famine.

--Someone else’s misfortune.

--Dog fighting.

--AA meetings.

--The stench of rotting flesh.

--When smart people try to pronounce all them fancy words.

--Unexplained hair loss.

--Afghanistan.

OK, I believe that my work here is done.

Stop Stealing My Lead-In Lines!

I should be flattered and part of me is, but the other part is underpaid. Recently I've seen either by odd coincidence or pure theft titles of my posts appearing on some of the chatter shows I watch. Just today I saw this header pictured while watching "Hardball." My regular readers will notice that it just so happens that I recently wrote a bit called Bachman-King Overdrive"* about Michele Bachmann and some other tool Republican getting blustery over black farmers winning a case of discrimination against the Department of Agriculture. In case you have not read it, the link is here.

The "Hardball" piece today reported on how Bachmann was pledging to hold weekly civics classes for members of Congress so they can learn about the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and such. In typical Republican center-of-the-universe thinking, Bachmann assumes that just because she's an idiot, so is everyone else. At least she has enough class to admit she doesn't know shit. Now if she'd just shut the fuck up the world would be a much better place. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Click here to see the Hardball segment.

For readers under the age of thirty, Bachman-Turner Overdrive or BTO was (is) a Canadian classic rock band that originated from the lineup of the even more Canadian classic rock group The Guess Who ("American Woman," "Share The Land"). BTO had a string of hits in the 70s including "Takin' Care of Business" and "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet." They obviously had a thing for droppin' their Gs.

*I apologize to Michele Bachmann for previously spelling her name wrong. (to self) One L, two Ms. One L, two Ms. One L, two Ms...

Fun Times

Today the left-wing polit-erati had a field day Obama-bashing, not only for his perhaps ill-advised give-in to Republican tax cuts, but also for coming out swinging at his armchair Democratic critics who are now acting like he hasn't significantly reduced troops in Iraq, or signed into law landmark legislation that protects the consumer, or taken banks out of the student loan business, or directed the SEC to enforce the law, or saved millions of jobs, or poured money into much needed infrastructure. It seems to me like the guy has earned the benefit of the doubt. What have any of those talking heads done?

And Rachel Maddow, no offense but I'm positive you will become irrelevant long before Barack Obama. As an MSNBC commentator, don't be so sure you aren't already. Let's make a wager. If Obama wins reelection, you have to wear a dress.

CTFD


Ooooo. Everyone is hopping mad at Obama and I admit so was I for about 20 minutes until I calmed down and put things into perspective. I also watched a little Chris Matthews which also helped. I am now way back in Obama's corner and getting tired of everyone pissing and moaning because rich people get to hold on to their tax cut for another two years.

Well as much fiscal sense as that does not make, it is not the entire picture and people who are going to get caught up on the outcome of this one confrontation should take themselves out of the gallery now because, God forbid, Obama may have to toss more bones to Satan's dogs to do what's right.

I think the anger is mostly from people who simply got involved in the fight for the sake of the fight instead of navigating for what success was possible. As partisans, we love to stick it to the other side and we hoped ourselves until we were blue that the moment would come when the White House and Congress announced that the Republicans have lost yet another battle. Then we could dance and cheer about how we skewered those thin-lipped minions of millionaires again like we did with the stimulus and healthcare and financial reform.

Obama does not have that luxury. It is not a sporting event for him. Today he guaranteed that the people who really need help, the unemployed will get some relief. He may have had the option of playing all or nothing, but if he did, how would you feel about things then? Sure you would be blaming the scumbag party, but nothing would have gotten done when something should have been done.

The legislative session is not over either. If Obama starts taking his ball and going home now it would endanger what still has a slim chance of passing through Congress such as the START treaty and the repeal of DADT. It is about the big picture. He is not Dumbledore and this is not Hogwarts. Short of magic, there's nothing the guy could do but agree to an extension of tax cuts to the wealthy for the time being. It's not that big of a deal.

Part of the problem is that many of us envision the Republicans in a room popping champagne and listening to Lawrence Welk in celebration of how they really got Obama. Not the case. This little victory does not remedy the pain they feel of having Barack Obama sitting in the Oval Office. They are still smarting from everything that Obama has done so far that they were unable to block. They are still seething. This is not the big victory they've been waiting for, folks. What would really make them happy is if Obama was voted out of office in 2012. So go ahead and pull your support now. Because that would really give them hope.

Al Franken Points Out Who Has The Better Track Record

The meat of this speech starts at 4:30 where he says "Now frankly I'm a little tired of being lectured by my friends on the other side of the aisle on the deficit."


Bachman-King Overdrive

This week the House of Representatives voted to disburse funds for a settlement claim made by black farmers who were denied federal loans because they were black. It was passed with the help of 16 Republicans which in this political climate is a groundswell, but that bipartisan support was tempered by the subsequent behavior of the Republican race warriors. Michele Bachman (surprise surprise) accused the claimants of fraud and demanded an investigation. Steve King got up and cited a story of how one claimant named “Johnny” was actually an urban dwelling drug addict who filed for the money in the name of his father. Then he blamed Barack Obama for paying out these “reparations.” Was the story King told true? I’m going to go out on a limb and say no, he was just taking from the “say anything to make white people mad” playbook (ahem, death panels).

Frauds? Drug addicts? Reparations? The only thing missing from their screeds was the rampant use of the word “darkies” and intermittent tobacco spitting. What makes it more sickening is the $251,973 in government subsidies received by Bachman’s farm between 1995 and 2006, thank-you Wikipedia

Bachman and King are doing everything to represent the white people who are bent on the paranoid delusions of what America will become when in a few years white people will outnumbered by nonwhites. They are punching air over a fantasy of Blacks stealing everything that belongs to white people. Meanwhile the richest people in the very top earning tier are actually amassing more and more of the share of the American wealth, not black people.

Hey Michele and Steve, your people are STILL winning. You are the Michael Jordans of making money and no one contests that. Just remember, while Michael Jordan was the best, he never tried to keep other players off the court. He was a classy competitor who raised the bar in a way that made the game more interesting for everyone. Why can’t you do the same thing? Oh yeah, because you’re mentally unstable racists. Sorry.

Sarah Palin Has A Word For It: Plagiary

I usually stay away from cnn.com when I'm looking for news. They don't have any crosswords or jigsaw puzzles. Not even sudoku - and when I'm reading my news online I need my distractions. Then again I never really looked for any of those amusements on the CNN site so a couple hours ago I decided do a little online recon and make sure I wasn't falsely accusing CNN of being void of any fun. For the sake of debriefing, it was not a false accusation.

I was a little disappointed because a small part of me was hoping that I was wrong. I would have been curious to see if the CNN crossword puzzle was more like Sunday New York Times hard:

23. Leda's "swain" per Yeats

or TV Guide easy:

15. "Friends" star _____ Anniston

********************

While at cnn.com I saw an Ed Rollins commentary entitled "Palin, I knew Reagan and you're no Reagan." It basically said the same thing I wrote in an earlier post regarding Christine O'Donnell. Read it here.

The only difference was that Rollins' piece had too many words. And of course, mine preceded his by two and a half months. Most people would be upset, but I think it's great Ed Rollins is stealing my ideas. I could use the wider audience. When I finish the piece I'm working titled "Glenn Beck Ain't Shit" I hope he steals that too.

Response To The Leak Of Diplomatic Cables

I will admit that at first some of these leaked memos revealed by Wikileaks lend themselves to comedy. For example, when I read that Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai was "an extremely weak man who did not listen to facts, but instead was easily swayed by the most bizarre stories or plots against him" I said to myself "Sounds like a Fox News fan."

And then on further thought I think that this Julian Assange character needs the comfort of a prison cell where the only Wikileaks that happen occur after others hack their cables into him again and again.

Why You Gotta Call It Black Friday? Oh, It's A GOOD Thing.

On Friday millions of Americans bum rushed the mall to get their hands on a limited supply of some crap, but in this year’s melee, no one died. According to the AOTL Almanac, when no one dies on Black Friday it means another six months of unemployment above 8.5%.

By all news accounts, Friday’s show of shopaholism was encouraging and I could not agree more. The amount of shopping activity indicates that those people with jobs are shopping enough to make up for the unemployed. It really is the spirit of the season.

The uptick in 2010 Black Friday sales was truly unexpected considering we’ve had economy so shitty the country was anger-y. Man, were they angry. They were so angry that three weeks ago they voted the Democrats out of the House of Representatives. Whatever the Republicans were promising it sure did work, and quick! The new Congress doesn’t even start until January.

Well, whatever made everyone so angry, it’s gone. It’s over. Everyone is happy and shopping. So the next time I feel angry I’ll vote for a teabagger and head to the mall.

God bless Americans.

The Others (re-edited)

In an article about the impasse over extending unemployment benefits, one source describes the conflict in Congress this way: "Democrats argue cutting those benefits would hurt the economic recovery. Others argue extending the benefits will provide a bigger incentive for unemployed to remain without a job."

Others argue? Others? Why, who be these mysterious unnamed forces gathering in opposition to the hordes of lazy people living like kings on $300 bucks a week on the government dime? They are Republicans like Jon Kyl, pictured here, of course. Kyl took heat earlier this year for accusing those collecting unemployment of being happy with their situation.

At first I was discouraged with the so-called liberal media for being too afraid to call the culprits of this gridlock by name, but then I warmed to the idea of referring to them as "others" because it accurately portrays them as the detached enigmas that they are. Nothing demonstrates their vast lack of connection from America like this issue and others like it.

It's no wonder how Kyl and his Other colleagues even end up in office. It would be intuitive to assume that people with so much antipathy for the average American could never be elected executioner. Our elected officials are put in office to look after our best interests and if they don't we can remove them. That is the intuitive way of looking at it, but here is what really happens: Kyl and the Others are so appealing to so many because of their allegiance to the wealthy and powerful. If you give people in America the choice between the well-heeled and the underdog, they will go with the well-heeled. Even through their part-time resentment, the underdog is agog with the barons because the rich have the things the rest of us want. In other words we all want to be rich.

The downside is that the wealthy and powerful are not samely in awe with the average American. The privileged use the admiration of the average American to elect the Others to do their bidding. Once elected, the Others give all of their attention to the wealthy and powerful while keeping the workaday headaches at arm's length. And should the rabble find themselves in any sort of peril, the Others essentially blame the victim for their problems, that is, when they aren't using the average American's problems as a cause to blame Barack Obama. Jon Kyl and Others like him can't even hide their contempt for the underdog. Kyl's misspeak earlier this year was leftover ramble from the welfare debate. Now that welfare reform has come and gone the Others are hungry for someone else to openly malign. Why not the unemployed?

What remedies Kyl and the Others do have for the currently unemployed are really handouts for the wealthy and powerful. What the unemployed need, they say, is more tax cuts. By their logic tax cuts not only puts a few hundred bucks in the average American's pockets but gives multimillionaires and billionaires huge windfalls. The wealthy will then turn around and out of the kindness of their hearts create more jobs for the unemployed. This is clearly an agreement the Others have formed with the wealthy on the trust system. There is clearly no obligation or promise whatsoever on the part of the wealthy to honor this little arrangement. The wealthy certainly did not uphold their end of the bargain enough prevent the biggest economic meltdown since the Great Depression.

Yet in spite of the failure of their tax cut theory the Others continue to pursue the same tack while expecting a different outcome. They are adamantly opposed to extending additional funds so laid off engineers and firemen, and cops, and teachers can keep their houses while they insist the most important economic order of the day is to get billionaires more money back in April. Again with that?

An intuitive thinker would guess that the Others would have short political lives for their abandonment of the average American, but the intuitive thinker would be wrong. In the face of tough times, the average American just elected the Others to a majority in the House of Representatives. Yes. The average American was angry at the party who supported emergency relief for average Americans so they elected the Other party who vowed to do nothing but oppose the current president and extend billionaire tax cuts.

Today my dog saw a container of standing water outside and began drinking from it before I stopped him. Every few minutes he would go back to drink more before I had the sense to dump it out. Now I'm not not saying that some people are as dumb as my dog, but, in the words of Bart Simpson, I don't know how to finish that sentence.

Top 10 Alternative Titles for W's New Memoir

By Ray Richmond













10. "I Miss Bein' Presyden (or However the Frig You Spellit)"

9. "I Was a Gooder Presedint Than My Daddy Was"

8. "I Still Say Invadin' Iran Was the Right Thing to Do"

7. "No President Left Behind (Except Me!)"

6. "Dang, What the Hell Was That?"

5. "Hey Look, Laura, I Wrote a Book -- But I Still Ain't Read One Neither"

4. "I'm George, and I'm an Alcoholic"

3. "So Who's Gonna Pardon Me, Huh?"

2. "My Ass From a Hole in the Ground: Scenes From a Presidency"

1. "Well Thank God That's Over"

Chip's Fables

There must be some fable of Aesop where perhaps a chicken or turkey criticizes a wolf for not being a good wolf. The chicken tells the wolf that it should be strutting around a barnyard eating corn and laying eggs and crowing when the sun comes up. Then the wolf eats the chicken and says something Aesopian like “Aha! You do your best at being what you are, and I’ll do my best at being what I am. The moral would be something along the lines of don’t tell someone what to do if you have no experience in doing what it is that they do.

By my last count, there have only been 44 U.S. presidents, only five of which are still living. But for some reason everyone thinks they have a grip on how to do the president’s job better than the current person in the office. That includes me after a couple beers. I basically give the guy good marks though I shrug at what seems to be a lack of a tenacious office of messaging because very few accomplishments sell themselves in the United States of No One Reads The Fucking News. Meanwhile the Republican Death Panel type talk and lies gain traction much better than humility. It seems to me that Obamaco is naïve to this, but, BUT…

I defer to Obama because I consistently believe he is exceptional. When he is seemingly silent while Death Panel type lies abound I think to myself it must be for a reason. He must be choosing his battles. He knows this is chess. It ain’t checkers. He’s lining up his men to play the bishop’s fannypack or the double rook do-si-do. Right? Right? Barack? This is the calm before the ass-kicking, right?

Thinking about it too much does not help. One begins to overanalyze and ponder Obama’s motivation. Just like Bill Clinton’s fatal flaw was asking women out for a White House quickie, Obama’s could be his relentless cool. WHO KNOWS!

Chickens like me have to understand that the man definitely has a plan, in a manner of speaking. Realistically, he must have eight or nine. He is sharp enough that he probably knows what he wants his legacy to be, but unlike an unnamed predecessor, he doesn’t go around talking about it. Maybe he knows he’ll be the Jackie Robinson of presidential politics. He’ll be remembered as the one who played superior while the ones that tried to stop him at every turn will be scorned. When people look back at how his presidency coincided with the use of the filibuster as standard legislative procedure and how people took to the streets to protest his tax hikes after he had just signed tax cuts into law, they will understand just what a fucked opposition he had to deal with.

So for all those chickens yet to be hatched, they will get a fuller story after all the tell-all books have been written and the penitent Mitch McConnells who upon realizing they were going to die soon came clean on how they behaved almost like comic book villains in order to get back at Obama for ever being elected.

So if I know this to be the case, why do I Monday morning quarterback the Obamster? Because I want the satisfaction of seeing some comeuppance for the Fox slander job. And that is my agenda. Obviously it is not his. I guess that is why he’s president and not me.

Tiz The Sea-zen


I have a friend who I don't see eye-to-eye with politically who, I think, will laugh her ass off when she reads this. Two nights ago she forwarded me an email that appeared to have been sent from a friend of the "original recipient." In other words, it seemed like a third generation email from a friend of a friend of my friend. The gist was that Obamacare was going to force the writer of the email who has cancer to forgo their treatment and instead talk to an end-of-life counselor. It went on to describe how the sympathetic doctor who has no use for socialized medicine could do nothing about it. He then recited some facts about how people in Britain have to forgo placements of heart stents if they are under a certain age or something like that.

I got suspicious by that point so I Googled a phrase from the email and the first link that came up was Snopes. The Snopes article for some reason began on the topic of Natasha Richardson, but quickly went into the loony facts from the email I had been forwarded. The fact that Snopes was apprised of this information indicated that this was not an email written by the friend of a friend of a friend.

I forwarded the link to my friend with the warning that this is why people think Richard Gere has a gerbil stuck in his ass to this day. That pre-Internet rumor was always retold the same way - "This is totally true. A friend of a friend of a friend or something is an emergency room doctor and one night..."

While I was at work yesterday I was sent two emails in response to the link I sent her, but I didn't have the energy to stress about my job AND the bait she was stringing out so I ignored them. Wise choice considering she's watching my dog during the day. If I had read what she sent I probably would have been agitated into sending a response which may have made things awkward. "Fuck you and feed my dog at 5."

Besides, I'm realizing that it's impossible to convince people of what they don't want to believe. Cheers to the people who keep trying. I'd rather let time prove me right. And in the even heart patients start dropping in the streets, it looks like I owe my dogsitter a Coke.

Rent's Not The Only Thing That's Too Damn High

Jimmy McMillan - I will reserve judgment that this guy is too cool until I find out a little more about him. The last thing I would like to do is jump to endorse him in any way before I find out that he has skeletons in his closet, or strewn about his apartment where apparently the rent is too damn high.

McMillan who is currently running for governor of New York on the Rent Is Too Damn High ticket got his say in the gubernatorial debate Monday night and what exactly did he say? You got it; rent is too damn high.

Finally someone is taking attention off of that political ne'er do well Carl Paladino and he's doing it in style. Looking like a cross between a member of the band(s) Parliament/Funkadelic and a character from the movie "Dune," this guy may be a little loopy, but he is impeccably loopy. Some people who are slaves to a certain propriety and therefore poor judges of character may see Jimmy McMillan as pathetic because he does not drone on in safe, innocuous platitudes on various topics. McMillan may be pathetic to those who wear their britches way up their crack, but not to those who applauded him at Monday night's debate who know the rent is too damn high and artificially so like many of the other goods and services for which consumers must shell out their hard-earned dough.

I don't want to imply that what makes Jimmy McMillan so interesting is an appetite for weed. His rent may be so damn high that suing me may be just the sort of rent relief he is looking for, theoretically. I'm NOT saying that Jimmy McMillan owns a two foot glass bong and can identify up to 20 strains of marijuana by smell. I'm NOT saying that Jimmy McMillan spends too much damn money on rent in an apartment that smells like a surfeit of skunks drinking warm Heinecken. I'm NOT saying that you could scrape and sell the residue on Jimmy McMillan's TV remote for a tidy profit. I'm NOT saying Jimmy McMillan's heart smiles every time he hears the word "sticky." All I'm saying is Jimmy McMillan, based on what little I know about him seems like an okay dude. I wish him luck in anything else except this governor's race.

Let's Be Consistent, Bill O'Reilly And Like-Minded People

This past week on "The View," guest Bill O'Reilly said something so typical, it actually got two of the show's co-hosts to hoist themselves up off the couch and truck it backstage to the craft service table for some Red Vines and Cheezits before the segment was over. They were discussing that stupid so-called Ground Zero Mosque (again) when tribal Bill screamed that it should be built somewhere else.

Instead of fuming over bowls of candy and nuts, Whoopie and Joy should have tested Bill's commitment to his own standard. Here's how:

Will O'Reilly and people like him heed suggestions from victims of racially inspired white terrorists, spree killers, assassins, and such as he expects Muslims to follow as a result of the September 11 Attacks? Given patterns of white supremacists acting out, one can argue that Whites are trying to kill us.

Choose your era. From the Ida B. Wells strange fruit years to 2009 when white supremacist Richard Poplawski killed 3 cops because he thought Obama was coming to get his guns; from Klansmen blowing up little girls in a church to Bufford Furrow gunning down kids at a Jewish community center before killing a Filipino mail carrier in Los Angeles; white terrorism is a reality. There is no sense in mitigating it with any nuance. There are white people filled with so much hate and/or paranoia that it drives them to kill. They have done it in the past and there is no reason to expect they won't try again.

If Bill O'Reilly believes that those who culturally resemble perpetrators of terrorist acts should maintain low profiles in the name of good taste, then he should start by taking himself off the air. Then, just like he is doing with New York Muslims, we can establish restraining orders for white people.

Needless to say, I would not expect Bill O'Reilly to go for this. It would put him in the same category as the Muslims he lectures now about decency. Out of his own sense of self-preservation he would argue one of the following:

1. "As abhorrent as these racist acts are, they don't in any way compare to what happened to 'us' on 9/11."

2. "I stand in the great majority of white people who find these racist acts abominable. It is offensive to think that just because I am white I should be punished for the actions of a few racist knuckleheads who happen to be white!"

3. "Exactly who's going to make these arbitrary assignments as to where I can go and what I can do?"

As for argument 1, it is the type of subjective analysis that would be expected from someone who knows they are about to be forensically identified as a hypocrite. It's not the same thing to YOU, Bill O'Reilly.

Argument 2 is a logical response. Bill O'Reilly should not be presumed in cahoots with white supremacists just as Muslim-Americans should not be lumped with murderous extremists.

Argument 3 points out how ridiculous arbitrary assignments are in this situation. Some Mosque opponents have determined what number of blocks from Ground Zero would be appropriate for a Mosque to be built, but that is just a random opinion.

In taking the opinion that he does on this New York Mosque deal, O'Reilly is speaking for a group of people who are not yet identified by name, but I will identify them now; they are People Who Are Angry At Muslims. The case made against the New York Mosque is all about anger from what I hear. Anger may be natural, but it can be dangerous and when people try to justify decisions they make out of anger it affects their integrity.

I won't change my opinion of the proposed location of the New York Mosque, but I will have a little more respect for Bill O'Reilly and people like him when they hold themselves to the same ridiculous standards they expect Muslim people to follow. I'm not holding my breath. There but for the grace of God, Bill.

Beck And Call

I'll save a complete psychological examination of Fox News creature Glenn Beck for another day, but now I will refer to his odd tendency to project the worst parts of his personality unto others. During an interview on his own network following his curious gathering on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August Beck was forced to backtrack on his claim that Barack Obama was a racist who hated white people.

A couple weeks later in a hail of oral palsy Beck continued on his baseless campaign to warn that violence from the left was imminent. Meanwhile, Byron Williams was sitting in jail following a shootout with California Highway Patrols in August. Williams confessed that when officers attempted to pull him over he was on his way to kill personnel at the progressive Tides Foundation.

It just so happens that The Tides Foundation is a frequent target of Beck's, perhaps because they advocate for children's issues and higher education. While Williams did not cite Beck as his inspiration for his attempted spree, he does speak of how Beck "blew his mind" with various screeds that fingered organizations like Tides as threats to right-wing insanity.

Beck continues to deny any ties between himself and right-wing aggression while continuing to do everything but load weapons and put them in the hands of unstable conservatives.

For the Media Matters interview with Byron Williams, click here.

Grenier of "Entourage": I'd Like To Get Into Acting

Adrian Grenier of HBO’s “Entourage” has expressed interest in a new career – acting. “I’ve always been curious about it, but I guess I’ve also probably been equally afraid” said the twenty-something star in the same tones in which he recites lines as his “Entourage” character Vincent Chase.

Grenier is hoping his success on “Entourage” will open doors for him in Hollywood. “It seems once you become famous at one thing it makes getting into acting a lot easier. Look at how many rappers are in movies now. I’m practically a rapper, except I don’t rhyme, I don’t recite my words to music or any beats, and there’s absolutely no emotion or intensity involved.”

“Entourage” will begin its eighth and final season in Summer of 2011.

Trapped Miners Prepare To Return To Their Wives And Mistresses

After over two months, 33 trapped Chilean miners are mentally preparing to be reunited with the 104 women they left behind. In an interview conducted via wireless technology, the spirited singing and laughing seen only days earlier has been replaced by contemplation and perhaps confusion.

“They had originally said they might not be able to get to us out before Christmas” said miner Oscar Saldano. “It’s not even All Saints Day. What the hell? Don’t get me wrong. It’s going to be good to leave this place, but don’t screw with our heads like that. We made plans for Christmas and New Years.” When asked what those plans were Saldano replied “Hanging out down here.”

From over a mile beneath the earth’s surface, heavy machine operator Pedro Saenz lamented “I haven’t heard the sound of my wife yelling about my affairs in two months, nor have I heard my mistress nagging me to leave my wife. It will be sure good to go back to that” he said as he seemed to look over his shoulder before slyly tossing his wallet behind a rock. “We’re all ready to get back though” he continued. “They gave us these special sunglasses so we can face the sun, but what about earplugs.” After a long pause he assured “I’m joking, I’m joking, I’m joking. Really, I’m just joking.”

Mystery Money

Of course the Chamber of Commerce denies it is raising millions in foreign money for the Tea Party, but until they furnish a list of donors, it only causes Tea Party critics to speculate as you can see here.

AOTL's First (and last?) Political Cartoon

The saddest part about this fiasco is that it turned out better than I thought it would. These are the best architectural renderings I've ever done. And I've had no training! I could have spent a little more time on the background, put in some birds, trees, a smiley sun, but I should be focusing on the fact that I captured the mood in Washington with pinpoint accuracy. I think I've talked myself into a new career.

The Squishy Center

This picture is the personification of a phenomenon I refer to as the squishy center. No, I’m not talking about the middle of a Hostess cake treat or candy bar or 80s fad chewing gum. I am referring to about 50% of the American public who freely fluctuate on most items on the U.S. political menu. The squishy center is made up of a fluid, fickle people who seem to painstakingly agonize over which side of an issue to support. Once it seems they have made a decision of what to back, they typically begin to engage in more wavering sometimes even after the issue has been codified into law.

To see how the squishy center behaves, we can track the popularity of gay civil unions for a span of time in 2003. According to Gallup, support for civil unions in May of that year was at 49%. There had been an almost steady increase in support since 2000. Between May 2003 and August 2003 gay marriage had been legalized in parts of Canada, the Episcopal Church elected a gay bishop, and the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional to make laws against doing anal (for everyone, not just gay people). By August, support for civil unions had dropped to 37%.

The convergence of these events proved to be too much gay. The proportion of the squishy center that had oozed itself into the “for” column for civil unions oozed back to the “against” or “not sure” categories until the hullabaloo died down. One would think that all of the other news would have encouraged anyone dipping their toes into the waters of this forward-moving stream. It would have accept the right-wing slander squad had done an adequate job of instilling the “floodgate” philosophy that once you support one gay thing the floodgates of the gay agenda will open and it will be your fault.

From that point to now, it has been a losing battle for the conservative regarding civil unions. The squishy center’s support began to cement when the hair of children failed to fall out and cows failed to pass curdled milk as a result of homos legally shacking up. As for the floodgates, the only thing they seemed to be holding back was news that Ricky Martin and that kid from “American Idol” were gay which we already knew. To date we have gone from civil unionery being an issue to having it become a non-issue as it has been replaced by the currently controversial gay marriage which will eventually become a non-issue within the next seven years.

Just as the squishy center settles as they find comfort with an issue, their support will fade once it is apparent things are not going well. Just prior to the Iraq invasion of 2003, the Squishy Center was glopping to and fro, wanting to find a way to support the Bush Administration, but only finding itself able to do so with conditions; we should invade Iraq after giving the weapons inspectors a month to finish their job, only after we have the support of the U.N., only if it is not an opportunity for a company Dick Cheney has worked for to bilk taxpayers, etc.

Following the outbreak of the war, any and all reservations the squishy center had were chucked aside. The U.S. kicked ass at the outset of the invasion therefore it must have been a good idea so thought the squishy center. 79% of Americans thought the war was justified, for a while. By August 2004, 67% of Americans believed the U.S. went to war based on the wrong information yet in November the squishy center pulled through to reelect George W. Bush.

Backing Bush was a signature marker of the squishy center’s tendency to err on the side of the Establishment. As an orderly group, obedience is a strong component of their value system. The Establishment represents all of the things they were taught to trust and respect growing up. But just as they crave the approval of the Establishment, they don’t want to be judged poorly by history. They don’t want to be the anti-suffragists, the segregationists, the Lindberghs, and in 5 years from now they won’t want to have been the death panelers. At the same time, they don’t want to suffer the sting of being caught outside of the mainstream, just like in high school.

Barack Obama has based his priorities on what he knows of the Squishy Center. While he is criticized (for everything including) ramming through health care while he should have been focused on the economy, Obama knew that waiting to pass health care would only give Establishment opponents such as the insurance industry and right-wing opponents such as the Death Panelers more time to infect the brains of the squishy center. He would have less support for his agenda as more time passed. As it was, though Obama won the legislative debate, but he lost the public debate in the immediate aftermath. The opponents effectively placed enough doubts in the minds of the squishy center that opinion had become tilted against what the American voter including a good proportion of the squishy center had actually voted for in November 2008.

Though it’s hardly a watershed, 5% fewer people are “strongly opposed” to the health care legislation now than they were when it was passed. Health care and most other issues usually have a hardened core on the pro side and on the counter side. It can roughly be said that 25% of people initially lined up against the Iraq War, and for civil unions, and for health care reform, while another 25% lined up in lockstep behind the Iraq War, against civil unions (now gay marriage), and against healthcare reform. The squishy center represents about 50% of the people, non-scientifically speaking. Modern politics is about the pursuit of the squishy center. It’s why Republicans slander gays, and make up false weapons claims, and conjure up the notion of death panels. It is not to scare their own rock-ribbed 25% who are already scared into the Republican corner; it is to scare enough of the squishy center just long enough to pull a fast one. I say just long enough because if you have to tell such egregious lies about anything, you will eventually be found out. The squishy center always finds out they’ve been had by the right sooner or later. While they won’t go down in history as crusaders for justice, at least they won’t be remembered as the obstructionists.

AOTL Series On Race - Extra

Et tu, fashion?
This link will take you to a Newsweek article detailing the lack of MOC or models of color on the fashion runways. As someone that doesn't follow fashion, I can't say I was aware of it, but at the same time, I can't say I'm surprised.



AOTL Fun History - The Surrender At Appomattox

Contrary to the AOTL-doctored painting featured above, Robert E. Lee was reportedly gracious in defeat at the close of the Civil War. He did make his view of things clear to General Grant though - "You didn't whip me, you just overpowered me, I surrender this day 8,000 men; I do not surrender them to you; I surrender on conditions..."

Before sitting down to put pen to paper Lee shook hands with Grant's staff including General Ely Parker (standing in front of George Custer) whom Lee mistook for a Neeeeegro or "mulatto." When Lee was informed that Parker was a Seneca Indian Lee quipped "I'm glad to see one real American here."

Maybe under different circumstances, Lee could have been a great comedian down in the Collard Belt.

Sensing The Stimu-Lies

Why do Congressional Democrats even bother? Why would they support what’s right if they can’t even stand by their positions in the face of success? Why do they make things so much easier for the opposition by letting the Republic Party control the discussion by misrepresentation and lies? Take these following links to articles on the success of the Recovery Act or stimulus bill.

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/statenewengland/838207-227/nh-stimulus-halfway-to-goal-on-jobs.html

http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-20-007-jobs-284885.html

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010846442_recoveryjobs21m.html

http://money.cnn.com/2010/07/09/news/economy/stimulus_job_subsidies/index.htm

http://factcheck.org/2010/09/did-the-stimulus-create-jobs/

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/117xx/doc11706/08-24-ARRA.pdf

These articles all reflect how the Recovery Act created jobs. Not to mention the, the act provided tax cuts for 95% of working families. Any CPA can tell you that. But we don’t hear about the success of the stimulus coming from the people who passed it. We hear lies coming from the Republic Party in a successful attempt to discredit it.

Among the Republic complaints:

“We need permanent jobs, not jobs that will disappear when the Stimulus Package is done”

“The Stimulus Package has created debt and no jobs”

“All this bill has stimulated is dependence on the federal government”

“This stimulus package has done nothing to reduce unemployment”

“[This program] will provide much-needed aid during this recession by enabling businesses to hire new workers, thus enhancing the economic engines of our local communities." Wait. That was actually Mississippi governor Haley Barbour in a moment of clarity.

Republicans overwhelmingly say it didn’t work, of course. That’s what the Republic Party is telling them to do.

Meanwhile Democrats lack confidence in solid Democratic successes. As a result, we will have people who benefited from the stimulus who will turn around and vote for the Republican just because the Democrat didn’t have the balls to run on their record.

What does the Republic Party know that Democrats don’t? If you repeat something enough, people will begin to believe you. If someone repeats a lie and there is no one there to counter equally with the truth than most people will go ahead and believe the lie. It’s called controlling the debate, but Democrats wouldn’t know anything about that.

No-Broehner


John Boehner is hoping to ride a wave of anger into the office of Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives which is nothing to laugh at and good for him. He’ll be two heartbeats away from the presidency and he will be a pretty powerful guy in his own right. This past week Boehner awkwardly presented to the American Public a pledge of what to expect with a Republican majority in Congress. The fact that neither Boehner nor his Young Guns could explain or expound on the contextual brevity of their pledge is a real harbinger of a whole bunch of nothingness to come out of a Republican controlled Congress.

Not that there will be a catchy name attached to Nancy Pelosi’s tenure as speaker such as the Sundress Speakership or the Gyno-Congress. She won’t need it. As the first woman SOTH Pelosi also goes down in history as one of the most effective, a feat that was more easily realized with a Democratic president. If Boehner replaces Pelosi, he risks being Gingrichized, as in Newt Gingrich. The Republican strategy in opposition is not to work together with the president where possible, but to oppose everything in hopes that the Democratic president has no successes. Though Boehner is credited with being a skilled negotiator and coalition builder, his recent efforts have been way more obstructionist.

With no indication that this would Boehner would change if he becomes speaker there will be little to mark his time at the top. Even when Gingrich had his Contract With America, it was Clinton who got most of the credit for whatever parts of it that did pass. Gingrich shot himself in the foot by making himself such a high-profile House leader. All it did was make it easier for people to discover just how unlikable he was. While Boehner may be a tad more tolerable, he does not really have a plan besides the vague mission of cutting taxes and lowering spending.

When the economy turns around to the point where people can feel it, the credit will go to Obama, not Boehner and the Republicans (unless Obama cedes the narrative which is possible). Legislatively, there is not much more for the Republicans to block. Obama passed his signature acts while he could take advantage of his majorities in Congress. Now he’s taking out his veto pen in light of Republican threats to undo his agenda. So get ready for at least two years of a do-nothing Congress again. Obama won’t mind. With Congress essentially out of session he could spend that time on his reelection campaign. Good luck John!

Keep It Simple, Stupid For The Holidays

The thought does not always count. American shelves, virtual and real are stocked with "gifts" that will end up spending more time in dressers, the back of the cupboard, or a box in the closet than they will in the light of day. Just because that t-shirt with the words "Kinkier than a cheap garden hose" made you giggle when you saw it is no reason to buy it as a gift, especially if it's something you would never wear yourself. The same thing goes for a "Fuck, it's Monday" coffee mug or a Hawaiian kukui nut necklace. Just because it's Christmas does not mean it is time to be generous to the point of uselessness.

God bless America that we are so prosperous that we can indulge in this pattern of buying trash, but there are more fitting tributes to our great nation than spending money on tossable jokes and baubles. Why not promote that prosperity by buying local/American this Christmas? You don't have to completely forego the Gaps, Ikeas, or Best Buys, but devote a portion of your holiday budget to the ailing American economy. For your iron deficient loved one whose always cold, a Faribault blanket from Faribault, Minnesota, USA will chase away the shivers AND boost GDP. For the garden lover, that lawn aerator from Bully Tools will help spike your soil and the employment rate. Of course, I do not vouch for these products and recommend you research the reputation of the seller's wares before making any purchases.

Begin your shopping here: http://www.americansworking.com/

How Did It Come To This?


I just finished watching a great movie that I’ve seen before. Okay. Actually I just watched the ending so I could get the quote that I am about to use as the topic of the day. The movie is “Judgment At Nuremburg” in which Spencer Tracy plays an American judge sent to Germany to try Nazi war criminals. Burt Lancaster plays a judge who is on trial for sentencing innocent people to death in compliance with Nazis and under very little if any duress. By the end of the movie Lancaster is serving his life sentence (the person who inspired the role of Lancaster’s Janning had been freed by the time the movie was released in 1961). At the end of the movie Lancaster's character requests to see the judge who sentenced him before the judge departs for the U.S. and Tracy obliges. In his cell Lancaster, in a plea for sympathy tells Tracy “Those millions of people, I never knew it would come to that. You must believe me. You must believe me” to which Spencer Tracy delivers these final words of the film: “Herr Janning, it came to that the moment you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.” Then he walked on down the hall.
In “Paragraph 175,” a documentary on the rounding up of gays in Nazi Germany, one survivor is asked how a country could look on and knowingly allow mass homicide to occur. He answered “people become apathetic very easily.” Boom!
It does not have to come to genocide for behavior to be considered antisocial. All ugliness starts small and through silence, and/or inaction gains steam. The ugliest people always think that they are in the right and in most cases only become repentant once they are looking at 5 to life or once the consensus has flipped against them.
Like Ernst Janning, the antisocial don’t assume that it will “come to that.” Well, it hasn’t come to genocide here to date, but what it does come to is a diminution of rights, personal harm, and sometimes death. A Muslim cabbie is stabbed by a fare in New York. Mosques around the U.S. are being vandalized. A minister threatens to publicly burn the Koran. Apologists may admit to all this activity being wrong, but then are happy to loosely opine “but this wouldn’t be happening if they weren’t building that Mosque at Ground Zero.” So any Muslim deserves what they get? Really?
Newt Gingrich is lobbying hard for the Ernst Janning award with his recent speeches which unapologetically frame all Muslims as the enemy. He talks about how horrific a people they are and how much better we are than they are. He gets the kind of people who listen to him to become angrily obsessed with fantasy scenarios such as Muslim law being imposed in America. And with all that has been transpiring in the past few months, what does Newt Gingrich think the people who listen to him will do? He’s smart enough to know someone might go stab a Muslim or vandalize a Mosque. It’s come to that, Mr. Gingrich and it’s all because of you and people like you.

A Ray of Light-Heartedness: AOTL Interview With Ray Richmond


I may invoke a little Henry Ford when I sum up my friend Ray Richmond; say what you want about him as long as you say he is irreverent, independent and committed to the progress of humanity. He is also a highly dedicated journalist who has covered entertainment and television since 1984 in addition to penning the books “The Simpsons: A Complete Guide To Our Favorite Family,” “TV Moms,” and “My Greatest Day In Show Business.” He has also been a contributor to Ahead On The Left. In fitting fashion he accepted the offer to be the first AOTL interviewee where he shared anecdotes and his thoughts on the state of journalism today.

It’s probably good that my first interview is with someone who has interviewed people for a living so I won’t have to drag information out of you.

I can even do both sides of it actually. I can ask the questions and give the answers. It’s funny. You know the actor James Woods, right?

You interviewed him for your book “My Greatest Day In Show Business.”

This was for a different thing. It was for something he had done on TV and we missed each other somehow as far as our appointed time on the phone and he gets my voicemail and he says ‘that’s alright. I’ll give the interview for you. You would have asked me this and this is what I would have answered. Then you would have asked that and I would have answered this’. He did this for ten minutes on my voicemail, he conducts the interview.

Was it fairly comprehensive?

It was! It was funny and comprehensive, and perfect.

Did you have to go back and call him to fill in the blanks?

I didn’t. It was exactly enough. It was like wow, that was pretty cool.

You’re not still doing interviews anymore are you? What is it you’re doing right now?

I am actually. I was doing some work for Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood. I just interviewed a few Emmy nominees in advance of the Emmy awards, you know, Q&As with various actors.

Did you talk to anyone who won?

I did. I could look it up even as we’re speaking right now. Of course I have no memory left at all. It’s completely sapped because of drugs and Alzheimer’s.

In that order?

Actually not anymore. Now it’s the other way around. But I spoke with Jimmy Fallon the host. That was actually really good. He was pretty good on the show too. I talked to Sharon Gless, Dennis Quaid, Martin Short, Patrick Stewart. He’s Sir Patrick Stewart now.

That’s right.

So I got ask him what it’s like to be a Sir. I actually reminded him that when “Star Trek: The Next Generation” premiered in 1987 I was working for the Orange County Register as the TV critic, I was the guy that said ‘what kind of blasphemy is this. Some stupid bald-headed British guy is playing the captain? This thing is never going to fly.’

No pun intended.

I reminded him of this and he says in that authoritative voice ‘you wrote that?’ I said yeah, but I didn’t mean it’ and he said ‘I said the very same thing.’

So you and he agreed.

We agreed but the way he said it was in the most intimidating way imaginable.

With that voice of God of his.

Exactly. I thought ‘oh fuck. I’ve offended God’. So I did a lot of interviews for Deadline Hollywood. I’m still doing stuff for the Hallmark Channel. I do the worst imaginable things for the Hallmark Channel given my general manner and style, doing this stuff that’s sweet and syrupy, but it works out well. I do stuff for their press kit material.

How do you describe your style?

It’s a little bit out there. I like to have fun and make people laugh and be as entertaining as I can instead of the usual question answer question answer question answer, blah blah.

Kind of like what I’m doing with you?

Exactly. You kind of want to shake things up a little. Sometimes I’ve been called on the carpet for being overly eccentric or a little too out there. I always err on the side of being off the wall to get attention, to get a laugh. There’s so much shit on the Internet now. The material is just never-ending and I think the only way to stand out and break up the monotony is to do something different. Why would they want to stop and read something if it’s just more of the same shit someone else is doing which is why I applaud you for what you’re doing with Ahead On The Left. You’re doing something different.

Oh. Thank-you.

You’re also being a good Democrat in a time when it’s hard to be a Democrat.

You went to journalism school. Where did you go from there? Did you intend on covering television or is that something you happened into?

I sort of just happened into it. I went to journalism school. I really loved journalism. I actually wanted to be a sports writer. I’m actually kind of a frustrated jock at heart, but I realized that it really takes up all your nights and you really can’t have a life if you’re a sports writer and you’re always on the road and I didn’t want that. Then I ended up getting a job at the features department at the LA Daily News while I was still in school at Cal State Northridge in late 1977. In the features department I found I really enjoyed writing features and I seemingly had a knack for that. The TV thing didn’t come up until 1984 when the TV critic had quit and they sort of asked me ‘do you watch much TV’ and I said yeah I watch TV.’ They asked if I wanted to be the new TV critic and I said sure. That’s pretty much how it went down.

I want to go back to journalism school because I know you have a funny encounter involving Carl Bernstein if you want to talk about that.

Oh sure. Usually you don’t want to talk about these things until all the principles are dead, but I could well be dead before they are so this is 1978 I believe. It’s after “All The President’s Men,” Nixon had resigned three and a half years before. Woodward and Bernstein of course had taken down the presidency and they came from the Washington Post.

So it was a big deal, Carl Bernstein was going to be speaking to the journalism department at Humboldt State University, our little 80 person journalism department. I attended there for a year. Everybody was all excited ‘Oh my God! Carl Bernstein is gracing us with his presence.’ Everyone then was wanting to become an investigative reporter. Journalism schools were being flooded. The only school not being flooded was Humboldt State. So anyway, Carl Bernstein is there. We have a little party for him after he speaks and I’m there with a woman who basically I had been fucking for about five days, Robin. We’re talking with Bernstein, the party’s winding down and he, kind of apropos of nothing looks at us and then looks around and asks ‘is there anyplace in Eureka where I can get a massage at this hour?’ Five of six of us look at each other like ‘what the fuck is he talking about’ except Robin of course, the woman I had been shagging for five days who looks up and says ‘oh I give great massages’. The five people that are there with me look at her. I’m staring daggers at her like ‘did you just fucking say that to Carl Bernstein?’ He asks if that’s okay, looking at me knowing that I was with Robin and I said ‘shhhhhure, fine.’

So Carl Bernstein and Robin pile into my Toyota Corolla and I take them to her apartment. I went upstairs to wait it out for about 45 minutes, just laying on the bed trying to read something thinking ‘oh my God. Carl Bernstein’s probably getting a blowjob downstairs from this woman.’ And he of course was married at the time to Nora Ephron. They made a movie about his dalliances.

“Heartburn.”

“Heartburn.” Precisely, and this is one of those dalliances that inspired “Heartburn.” So about 45 minutes later Robin comes running upstairs pulling her shirt down over her head. Bernstein is shirtless and pulling on his underwear running to the bathroom. She walks in the door, this is the greatest line in history, takes my hand, looks me straight in the eye and says ‘it’s not what you think.’ I’m like ‘of course it’s what I think, but it’s fine. I don’t have any claim on you. I’ve known you for five days.’

So Bernstein finally comes out of the bathroom, we pile back into my car, I’m taking him back to his motel in Eureka and he’s not making small talk, but microscopic talk; barely visible talk. And he actually says just before exiting the car ‘if you’re ever in Washington I’ll give you a tour of the Post.’ Can you imagine? ‘Hey Carl, remember me? You got a blowjob from my girlfriend at Humboldt State. Can I have a tour?’

But it was a good school. I learned a lot. And I love journalism. There’s a little sadness to it now to some degree. Not to sound like an old fart who decries the good old days.

No, do, because I was going to ask you about this anyway.

Journalism really is disappearing as an art form and as a literary tool in the form that I remember it. It’s still there on the Internet and such, but the depth of reporting still only exists a few places like the New York Times, the New Yorker, or Rolling Stone even sometimes too, but too often there is a decided lack of depth which has been replaced too often by fluff and headlines. So much of covering entertainment is about the TMZing of celebrities, catching them at their worst. I just don’t give a shit about Lindsay Lohan and all this other crap. I knew it was time to leave the trades because I just don’t care about the promotion of the industry execs and the upward progression of those people. They don’t care about what happens to me. Why would I care about them?

Didn’t Edward R. Murrow even have to delve into covering some fluff in order to keep balance and interest?

Oh yeah. And I’m not being arrogant about it either. It’s not like I’m too good for it. I feel like too much of one is replacing the other. It’s not like they’re coexisting; it’s actually replacing it and blogs, are really not journalism. I don’t care what anybody says. They are opinion. They are not news. There are no checks and balances with them. They are simply opinion and they have their place and it’s great, but it is just opinion and it is not going to take the place of news coverage.

There is a lot of analysis that goes on with blogs I think, but I was discussing this with a friend yesterday how blogs are often cited as news. It’s almost like there’s no such thing as journalism school anymore.

Right. These things are partisan pieces. They are not unbiased. And it’s expected that you’re supposed to put a slant on things in a blog, but if you’re covering actual journalism you try your best to keep your opinion and your own view out of it. It’s getting tougher and tougher to find that.

If you had it all to do over again and you didn’t fall into television would you have chosen another area to cover?

I probably would have chosen politics. Even though right now I’m really down on the political process. I just feel like it’s a bunch of people who are bought and sold by Big Business. There’s no real politicking or actual serving the people going on. I would have probably gone into something that had more social value to it. One time I actually put a little social heft into the process when I was covering entertainment and I wrote about Merv Griffin and outed him. Do you remember that whole furor?

You outed Merv Griffin?

Did I not tell you this story?

You told me about when you were working for Merv Griffin you were working late one night while Merv and friend were upstairs in his office not wanting to be disturbed.

Oh yeah. This is a whole other story. This was like my greatest moment in journalism. Merv died in August of 07. I had a Friday column at the time at the Hollywood Reporter. Basically the column was Merv Griffin was gay. Can we get over this in the purportedly liberal-minded Hollywood? Why should we be snickering about that in the corner? Why is that a shame for the man? Why can’t it simply be he was a coin collector, he was a great TV producer, and he was gay? So I wrote a column about this sad thing that the man had to die taking this secret to his grave. Of course everyone in Hollywood knew, but most people in the country didn’t know he was gay even though it was the worse kept secret in Hollywood. So I wrote this column. Literally the lead sentence was ‘Merv Griffin was gay.’

I thought it would never go out into the light of day, but one editor said ‘hey, I like it.’ Another editor was like ‘hey, good job.’ I asked myself is it actually possible this thing could get published? I told them they better run it up the flagpole to make sure. It was kind of a hot potato. They said sure. Basically, anyone who could have stopped it or would have stopped it was on vacation. It was August. And it fucking runs. I ran out and bought five copies. I couldn’t believe it.

Within an hour shit completely hits the fan. It runs the day of his funeral. It was not my intention for that to happen, but I was fine with that. His production company ended up pulling a hundred thousand dollars in advertising. There was a new editor who hadn’t even started. She was in New Orleans with a sick relative. She turned out to be a really spineless person. She freaked out. They can’t reprint the paper, but they pull it offline.

When I found out about it I told them they had to put it back up. I said we are admitting furor here. ‘I don’t care if you think it was a mistake to publish it. You’ve got to keep it online. You have to support me.’ They said ‘sorry, we’re keeping it offline.’

There’s a gay radio host named Michelangelo Signorile. He finds out about this and he instructs all of his listeners to call the Hollywood Reporter. Five thousand people called in protest. It crashed the phone system and crashed the Internet. Now everyone is going crazy. I talked to the editor again. I said ‘you have to restore this. I’m telling you. I will sing your praises as First Amendment heroes but you better fucking put it back online.’

So they did. Then it became a big cause célèbre. I did seven different radio shows. I got newspapers calling me because I was the guy that outed Merv Griffin. It was exactly the point I made in the column. It was perfect. They couldn’t handle the fact that somebody was gay. Everybody was losing their fucking minds.

Where did all the backlash come from?

I was getting emails saying ‘you and you’re gay agenda you fucking faggot.’ I’m like ‘hello, I do not have a gay agenda. The agenda is equality.

I ended up getting a nomination for a GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) award and trust me, it’s the first and only time anyone will be outed in the pages of the Hollywood Reporter or any other major Hollywood trade. I knew there would be a little bit of a backlash. I had no idea it would be a shitstorm. I almost got fired over it. I had to plead for the job of the copy editor and the editor who let it go in. I said ‘if you’re going to fire anyone, fire me. But you better not fire any of us.

How long did it take for everything to die down?

I’d say two weeks. But to this day it is the proudest moment of my career by a wide margin. When I was finally let go from the paper I had all kinds of issues with this one editor that got rid of me, but it was cited as a reason: ‘and you had that whole thing with Merv Griffin.’ So now it can be told that it was a contributing factor to my being fired.

You have other revolutionary events under your belt as a journalist. You were the first journalist to actually watch a voice taping of “The Simpsons.”

I guess that’s true. I guess I was. I totally forgot. That was great. It was in part because I had done their book review. You have to give yourself a little credit there too. It almost killed me, but I really wouldn’t have been able to finish it without you. You should have gotten credit on the cover as well too, but as they say, life ain’t fair.

I don’t think things would have ended up any differently. I’d still be here interviewing you for my blog instead of sitting in a penthouse office somewhere.

You and me both. I’m struggling for work too. It ain’t like that sure made my life. On snpp.com I’m a big deal. Did you go to the lunch they threw after the book came out?

Yes

Matt Groening actually said it was the best product to have come out of the Simpsons franchise.

“I heartily endorse this event or product.”

Exactly

I should say that like Krusty the Klown.

I just got an email like that today. It was a request for a donation in the LA AIDS Walk and it was signed ‘sincerely, your name.’

Before I go I just want to say good luck and best wishes in light of your upcoming wedding.

Thank-you. I look forward to seeing you there and receiving your blessing, literally.

Likewise.