Monthly Archives: December 2011

Music I Enjoyed This Year

I listened to almost no hiphop except for last year’s Janelle Monae, so no Frank Ocean, Roots, or Throne. It felt as if the only R&B I listened to was Amy Winehouse and Ike Hayes. As always now, there was so much music, so there was a lot I just didn’t get around to, so no Fleet Foxes, Anthony Hamilton, Teddy Thompson, and many others from the overvast overwhelming colorful sea. I think I enjoyed Adele’s album, but it was so ever-present, it feels like saying I enjoy clouds.

The one album I’ll make special mention of is Nerina Pallot’s Year of the Wolf. It was so tuneful I expected to hear more of it, wherever I was, but it remained little known enough that I could call it my own.

Some such lists are like stone tablets down from the mountain; these are a casual mentions in a conversation.

James Blake – James Blake
Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place
Alberto Iglesias – Skin I Live In soundtrack
Feist – Metals
Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
Real Estate – Days
Girls – Father Son Holy Ghost
Blood Orange – Coastal Grooves
Zola Jesus – Conatus
Youth Lagoon – Year of Hibernation
Nerina Pallot – Year of the Wolf
M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming
Grimes – Halfaxa
Tori Amos – Night of Hunters
The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient
EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints
Washed Out – Within and Without
Grouper – Alien Observer

Enjoy the last day of this year, and as many as you can of the next one.

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A Few Moments With Patton Oswalt

Two ancient fragments of genius from Feelin’ Kinda Patton. The following has explicit language, and this unfuckable hag makes me wince. But it made me laugh a great deal.

I’m terrified of getting married…I am. I don’t know why, man. Why am I so scared of being married? (audience inaudible) Nah, I really thought about it and I actually found the reason: Stella D’Oro Breakfast Treats. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? In the late seventies, (someone in the audience decides to say something) I’ll explain. The Stella D’Oro company put out a product called Breakfast Treats. And they’re like biscotti if you live in a trailer park. They’re these horrible, long crumbly ass cookies. They put a commercial on the air in the late seventies that is the most disturbing, horrifying fucking thing I’ve ever seen on TV. The commercial opens in…like three o’clock in the morning in this dank, David Fincheresque kitchen, and there’s this fifty-year old…just this woman, just this unfuckable hag in a housedress…sitting at a table gnawing on one of these breakfast treats. Then her husband comes trudging in and he’s got the bad combover and the shitty robe and he comes in and he goes: “WHAT’RE YOU DOIN’?!” That’s the first line of dialogue in this cookie commercial.

Patton Oswalt on Stella D’Oro breakfast treats. The Stella D’Oro ad.

Another: the Tom Carvel ice cream ads.

Like I said, I grew up in Virginia. Few things I miss about Virginia. One was the Tom Carvel ads on TV. I don’t know if you remember who Tom Carvel was. Tom Carvel owned about a dozen shitball ice cream stores up and down the east coast. And he….did these TV ads…and he did his own voice-overs, and therein lay the tragedy of Tom Carvel. ‘Cuz he had a voice that sounded like Tom Waits gargling chunks of hot asphalt, like…your spine would just turn into broken glass the second you heard it like, OH MY GOD, WHAT THE FUCK? It’s Tom Carvel on TV!

Patton Oswalt on Tom Carvel. A Tom Carvel ad, another ad, and another.

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A Thank You To Andrew Sullivan

For his brave retraction. I am on-line only a brief period each day, so I am late to this.

If Paul did not write these newsletters, then he has an obligation to say if he knew who did, or conduct an investigation. He has had years to do this, and hasn’t. And here’s what you’ve persuaded me of in the last few days: a person who has that kind of bigotry directly printed under his name without a clear empirical explanation of why he is innocent cannot be an honorable president of the United States. The hatred of groups of people in those letters – however gussied up by shards of legitimate arguments – is too deep and vile to be attached to a leader of the entire country. It is far too divisive. The appearance of things matters; and until Paul explains why this appears so horrible, he cannot shrug off the burden of proof.

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Freedom Under Siege by Ron Paul

Several great minds have had the same idea at once, and my mind has had it as well: to read Freedom Under Siege (PDF) by Ron Paul and see what can be found and how it connects with his newsletters. I leave in my points that are slightly redundant with those mentioned in Talking Points Memo.

The tone of the book is very close to newsletters; statements of extravagant waste or ludicrous events, rather than in-depth careful point by point intellectual arguments. A later possible task is to examine and refute the book’s criticism of the Federal Reserve, the necessity of gold backed currency, and the failure of the Marshall plan.

One primary point – though Paul has continued to deny that he read or was aware of the content of his newsletters, he refers early on, in this book he wrote, to an article in his Freedom Report newsletter:

Man, throughout history, has been tempted with power. Someone is always ready and anxious to use force over others, both within and outside of government, for his own interest. Some who reject the use of physical power over others and reject the material benefits of illicit power will, nevertheless, use government force to impose their social standards on others. It’s important to recognize that there is a difference between legislating morality and moral law.

The following is a Freedom Report essay written in 1982 addresses this subject:

Legislating Morality:

How many times have you heard it said: “Government should not legislate morality?”

When the liberals push laws mandating quota systems, integration of privately owned property, welfare aid, medical care for the poor, foreign aid to third-world nations or minimum wage laws, they do it in the name morality, claiming the nation as a whole has a moral obligation to fulfill the needs of others.

The rights of whites versus those of others comes up:

Every year new groups organize to demand their “rights.” White people who organize and expect the same attention as other groups are quickly and viciously condemned as dangerous bigots. Hispanic, black, and Jewish caucuses can exist in the U.S. Congress, but not a white caucus, demonstrating the absurdity of this approach for achieving rights for everyone.

This is noteworthy because it reminded me of this passage in “The Disappearing White Majority” from the newsletters:

What is often forgotten is how such changes affect our culture. Nearly every other group but whites are allowed a certain degree of cultural autonomy. Blacks have black schools, clubs, and neighborhoods. The same is true of Hispanics. It is human nature that like attract likes. But whites are not allowed to express this same human impulse. Except in a de facto sense, there can be no white schools, white clubs, or white neighbor hoods. The political system demands white integration, while allowing black segregation.

This passage, discussing the co-ordinated action of international bankers and socialist governments, all in conjunction with the Trilateral Commission, is similar to a newsletter piece on the Panama Canal:

The combination of liberalism’s naive belief that the world can be made a better place through socialist redistribution of wealth and the desire of certain international bankers to control the world through one-world government has brought us to a dangerous period in our history. Today the proposals of the Council of Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission have much more impact on policy than the Constitution. Sadly, world socialist order is of prime concern, not individual liberty, as it should be. This mixture of misplaced liberal idealism and the bankers’ goal of world domination, forces capitalists and communists to do business together on many occasions.

From the Panama Canal piece:


These treaties were undoubtedly written by the banking and big business interests of Wall Street. It is no secret that Torrijos is in hock to the Wall Street bankers for nearly two billion dollars. Nor is it a secret, although totally ignored by the managed news, that Torrijos has provided a banking haven for the international bankers. Since 1970, when the coalition of Torrijos and the bankers became evident, the laws were changed to protect the international bankers. Before this, there were a few million dollars of assets in a few banks: and yet today there are 73 international banks with assets of nearly $9 billion conducting business throughout the world. Torrijos was unable to continue this partnership without an increase in cash flow, since his debt service to the New York banks was costing him 40% of his budget. The New York banks needed Torrijos to remain “solvent” in order to protect their direct loan investments as well as their special banking paradise.

The connections of Carter, and essentially all his advisors, to the Chase Manhattan Bank and David Rockefeller have been widely published in the open press like U.S. News & World Report. The boldness of those who once kept secret the relationships between the ruling politicians and the big banking and big business interests demonstrates an arrogant display of confidence on their part that’s rather frightening. The Trilateral Commission is no longer known only by those who are knowledgeable about international conspiracies, but is routinely mentioned in the daily news. Evidence of its influence on the Republican and Democratic administrations is all about us. Jimmy Carter’s membership in the Trilateral Commission is hardly a coincidence.

Here’s an astonishing point, that goes surprisingly unmentioned in the Talking Points Memo page, that makes the explicit accusation that FDR knew in advance of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and did nothing because of his own ambitions:

Twenty-three years after World War I ended, America entered the Second World War, largely as a consequence of Franklin Roosevelt’s interventionist foreign policy. An excellent description of this can be found in Charles Callan Tansill’s Back Door to War. From this outstanding historic documentation of what transpired prior to the war, it is clear that the United States deliberately provoked the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor for economic reasons. Since the United States had broken the Japanese code, Roosevelt knew exactly what the Japanese were planning. FDR did nothing because of his own political ambitions and his desire to unify the country in support of the war. By the early 1940’s only a small minority stood on principle and objected to our becoming allies with Soviet murderers.

Another point, astonishing for its lack of mention in the national media; Paul states that he views majority vote and the move towards true democracy as a threat:

Throughout the twentieth century, the trend has been away from limited government and toward big government’s intervening in every aspect of our lives. It has been financed with borrowed money and a fraudulent paper money system. We have come a long way from the Republic envisioned by the Founders. Today, by majority vote, government can easily cancel out the earnings or rights of individuals without any debate as to constitutionality. The only debate is between the competing special interests, deciding who will benefit and who will suffer. We are witnessing the end stage of the Republic as we drift closer and closer to pure democracy. Dictatorship of the majority is every bit as oppressive as the dictatorship of the few. It is also more difficult to attack, since so many accept the notion that the majority has the authority to redefine rights.

Next, a point that makes clear that Paul has no issue with gunboat diplomacy or banana republics; he simply does not want the state to pay for the gunboats and the republics. If the United Fruit Company or Anaconda Copper want to pay for mercenaries to overthrow a foreign government through paid arms and mercenaries, he is okay with that, and sorry that federal law prevents it.

There is no moral justification for one generation’s committing another generation to pay higher taxes, to suffer more inflation, to sacrifice the lives of their youth (uprooted through conscription) for needless armed conflicts. With a noninterventionist foreign policy, citizens would never be forced to subsidize or die for any special interest. Taxes could be used only to secure peace and freedom for America.

Under these conditions of nonintervention, of course, individuals would never be prohibited from volunteering and contributing their own monies to any foreign cause. Our government is the only legal dealer in weapons of war, usually at a high cost to American taxpayers, as well as danger to our security. Thus the wishes of citizens are violated with every transaction. Americans who want to privately help anti-communists in Cuba, Afghanistan, El Salvador, or Nicaragua should be free to do so, and yet they are not.

An internationalist foreign policy leads to one world government:

An internationalist foreign policy includes goals of one-world government and international banking with fiat currencies, and this leads to economic isolationism, where nations become more militaristic and nationalistic. Trade wars ensue, and protectionism follows.

A point made several times in the book: for America to survive as a free and moral nation, abortion must be outlawed.

For those who are pro-life, an analogy of the rights of the unborn to the rights of the teenage draftee are worth considering. If rights are universal, those two groups should be treated equally. The life of the unborn and the life of the 18-year-old should both receive equal protection under the law. The Supreme Court decision of 1973 said there was a relative value placed on in-utero life as being less valuable than extrautero life.

A decade of struggle has not yet erased this inconsistency, but if we are to survive as a free and moral nation, this decision must also be reversed. Without its reversal, the relative value placed on life will lead to infanticide, euthanasia, and human experimentation. History has proven this, and consistent conservatives have supported this view. Relative value placed on human life by conscription is not unlike the examples above, which are arbitrary and discriminatory. Good conservatives fight for the right of even an unwanted, deformed, unborn child to live, yet at the same time seal this same child’s fate through a lottery system that issues death sentences to be carried out on distant foreign soils for causes unknown.

A truly free society, dedicated to maximum liberty for all, that ignores the important issue of all life, including fetal life, will have a difficult time defending its position on other matters. Failure to deal philosophically with the issue of a three-pound fetus inadvertently born alive during an abortion procedure and subsequently drowned by the abortionist will discredit the freedom movement.

A calloused attitude toward the unborn permits a calloused attitude toward the newborn, the elderly, and the deformed-as well as toward all principles of liberty. We should be neither surprised nor shocked that we hear frequent stories of newborns being thrown in ditches to die. Vocal support for infanticide and euthanasia is now common. We live in an age where child abuse is of epidemic proportions. Our emergency rooms are flooded with battered children, and the social philosophers search for the cause.

Without this the erosion of liberty will continue. A careless attitude toward the sanctity of life can hardly prompt an energetic and intellectually acceptable defense of individual rights. No one I know, including those who accept abortion as an absolute right of the mother, relishes the horror of dismemberment of a small, but quite viable human life.

Society’s attitude toward liberty is totally dependent on society’s respect for all life. This problem is more an ethical one than legal. No legislation or constitutional amendment can instill this very-much-needed respect for life. Samuel Adams was right that no law or constitution can solve our problems if “the manners of a society are universally corrupt.” A hardened attitude condoning and encouraging abortion will do great harm in undermining all our efforts to guarantee one’s absolute right to one’s own life.

This connection between abortion, euthanasia, and libertarian ideas is also to be found in a newsletter article, the firstmost in the Ron Paul Political Report from November 1992:

And what of euthanasia? It is becoming more acceptable as the rationing of health care gains ground. Liberal pro-lifer Nat Hentoff described euthanasia as the legalization of ending life. The trend ends as it has in the Netherlands, Hentoff writes, where more than 1,000 people die every year from “involuntary euthanasia” (known as murder to me).

It is not difficult to persuade the severely depressed to go along with suggestions of suicide because the nature of the disease has them already thinking that way. Most physically ill people are depressed to some degree. “Their physicians were so consumed with compassion that they decided not to disturb the patients by asking their opinion on the matter,” writes Hentoff. With this trend in medical ethics, he says that the slope has now become a chasm.

I recently receive a call from a minister who is on a medical ethics panel at one of Texas’ major medical centers. He wanted me to speak there, to denounce these pro-death, unethical trends. But since he only has one vote, I don’t know if he will succeed. I will give you a follow up on this later.

Make no mistake: if our culture is not willing to recognize the value of life, it can never be persuaded to recognize the derivative obligations to respect private property, limited government, sound money, etc. That’s why the opinions of the medical elite are a threat to our entire civilization. (Want a copy of my latest book on abortion? It’s available for $10 from our office.)

I set aside this last part of this anti-abortion section. I don’t begrudge Paul his faith; I only think it should be made clear that he is often positioned as a sane secular libertarian option. His libertarianism, as made clear from this sentence, stems from a religious perspective. Liberty has value, libertarianism has value because of the spiritual aspect of life.

If life has no spiritual value, what makes liberty worth preserving? If life itself is not very special, how can working for liberty be justified?

A section on the draft during the civil war, part of a larger section criticizing military conscription. I bold a word that I find strange, given the context, for its quote marks.

There was one case of great importance in 1863, Kneedler vs. Lane, heard before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where the issue of conscription was considered in detail. The draft was ruled unconstitutional, only to be reversed by a new majority on the court two months later. The complainants based their case on the claim that the federal government had no power to compel military service, even in fight of “insurrection,” for the Constitution says that “repelling insurrection and repelling invasion will be a responsibility of the state militia,” not the federal government.”

Later, in the same section, an inevitable battle between tyrants and those for liberty is anticipated in the United States:

The world today, just as in Lincoln’s time, is still in need of a good definition for the word liberty. But more than that, we need determined people who believe in and are willing to defend liberty. Those who dare to use the word liberty when promoting violence and tyranny must be clearly exposed. The tyrants must be identified and never confused as friends of freedom. If a battle must occur — which inevitably it must since liberty and tyranny cannot coexist – let it never be supposed that two factions advocating liberty are battling one another. The conflict must be clearly between liberty and tyranny.

On why women don’t need legal protection against sexual harassment:

Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity. Why don’t they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable. If force was clearly used, that is another story, but pressure and submission is hardly an example of a violation of one’s employment rights.

Against legal rights for discrimination in hiring and termination:

The concept of equal pay for equal work is not only an impossible task, it can only be accomplished with the total rejection of the idea it’s of the voluntary contract. By what right does the government assume low power to tell an airline it must hire unattractive women if it does not want to? The idea that a businessman must hire anyone and is prevented from firing anyone for any reason he chooses and in the name of rights is a clear indication that the basic concept of a free society has been lost.

The basis for his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights bill; these ideas he still believed in 1988 when this book was written.

This means that all associations are voluntary and by mutual consent of both parties. Contracts drawn up without force or fraud must be rigidly adhered to. This sounds reasonable, and most people would agree this outline of mutually agreed-to associations. But it also means that free people have the right to discriminate – in choosing a spouse, a friend a business partner, an employer, an employee, a customer, etc. Civil rights legislation of the past thirty years has totally ignored this principle. Many “do-gooders,” of course, argue from the “moral high ground” for their version of equal rights, knowing that they can play the sympathies and the guilt of many Americans. Yet the real reason for some of these laws is less than noble. For instance, minimum wage laws are popular, but the proponents rarely admit that this protects higher paid union-jobs and it increases unemployment.

AIDS victims are frequently a victim of their own lifestyle. They should not have any legal protection if they are fired by an employer for simply having the disease. This is fairly consistent with “Flown The Koop”, “AIDSomania”, and “Congressional Courage”:

Victims of the disease AIDS argue, with no qualms of inconsistency about rights, for crash research programs (to be paid for by people who don’t have AIDS), demanding a cure. And it’s done in the name of rights. Victims demand health care as well and scream “discrimination” if insurance companies claim they have a right to refuse to issue a policy to someone already infected with the AIDS virus. The rights of the insurance company owners are not considered, while legislation is passed forcing insurance companies to provide the insurance demanded by the victims. The individual suffering from AIDS certainly a is victim — frequently a victim of his own lifestyle — but this same individual victimizes innocent citizens by forcing them to pay for his care. Crash research programs are hardly something, I believe, the Found Fathers intended when they talked about equal rights.

The Supreme Court, in 1987, ruled that persons with contagious diseases are “handicapped” and are entitled to protection under affirmative action rules. If a person is fired because he has AIDS, typhoid fever or hepatitis, he can now pursue his case in court.

From the newsletter, “Congressional Courage”:

My old colleague, Congressman Bill Dannemeyer (R-CA), speaks out fearlessly despite the organized power of the gay lobby. He has become the target of violent attacks whenever he speaks, and he has even been advised to wear a bulletproof vest. Want to see why? Here are some excerpts from one of his recent speeches:

AIDS was “originally known as GRIDS–gay related immune deficiency syndrome.” For political reasons it was changed to AIDS. “A whole political movement has been created and sustained on a single notion: homosexual sodomy.”

“The average homosexual has 1,000 or more partners in a lifetime, and the average homosexual has only one sexual encounter per partner and never sees the person again after that encounter.”

From “Flown The Koop”:

[Surgeon General C. Everett] Koop then attacked private property rights and the real public health by urging that civil rights laws to [sic] applied to carriers of a fatal, communicable disease. And he condemned parents who worry about sending their healthy kids to school with AIDS victims.

The newsletter author has an obsession with David Rockefeller, and so does Paul in Freedom Under Siege:

Paul Volcker once admitted to me (to my surprise) before a banking committee hearing, that leaks did indeed occur regarding secret monetary policy. We also clearly know that appointments to the Fed require approval from the international bankers led by David Rockefeller.

Another point made clear in this book: while Paul views the state with animosity, which should not sculpt the values of any individual, there should be no mistake that he ultimately does believe that the religious life is the only righteous path. It should not be surprising that an evangelical should be able to vote for Paul, as long as he does not wish the state to actively sculpt the values of individuals through prohibition and other measures.

What one does with one’s life and property is a personal decision and it may or may not include religious beliefs. In a free society a person can “turn his life over to God” or squander it as he chooses. The important thing is that the state not be permitted to assume any ownership role of the individual.

There appears to be a binary choice, and a wasted life is one that does not choose the religious option.

Paper money is not simple economically inefficient but immoral:

Even if by some quirk paper money provided a net benefit to the economy, it would still have to be rejected for moral reasons. The power to create credit out of thin air is the moral equivalent to counterfeiting. Applying the Robin Hood ethic, robbing the rich to help the poor, cannot justify the process. Money creation dilutes the value of money already earned. It is a deceitful tax, unseen by all but a few and is equivalent to a farmer diluting his milk supply with water.

Also, paper money requires an authoritarian government. The use of paper money is what will trigger the fight between the forces of freedom and tyranny:

The breakdown of international trade eventually comes when enough people discover that the monetary policy is a charade and a fraud. A contest between market forces and government forces then erupts. The name of the game for the monetary authorities is maintaining power over the economy and political events. When paper is rejected by the market, governments inevitably retaliate by enforcing rules regarding currencies, flow of capital, financial privacy, and freedom to travel. The conflict is already visible and we can expect it to get much worse (including a new paper currency) before it’s all over. The monetary crisis will end when one side is victorious. If paper wins, an authoritarian government will be required. If gold wins, a free society will prevail.

There is one last interesting detail connecting this book to the newsletters, which I believe marks Paul’s authorship. He is credited as writing Freedom Under Siege; he denies authoring the newsletters.

From “Just Another Day’s Work for David Rockefeller”, in the September 1988 Political Report:

There is no “excess of democracy” this year, of course. The banksters have seen to it. One choice is George Bush, the Rockefeller candidate. No matter who is elected, the big bankers will be able to continue their policies of looting us.

This word “bankster” is an ancient piece of slang; it’s from the depression period, which fits with Paul’s age. He learnt it then, and still uses it. It’s been out of circulation since.

Harold Evans, in this article, “Banker + gangster = bankster”, provides an explanation:

Words pop in and out of our language as social conditions change. The American gangster, which is still with us, has been around as a noun and a reality since 1896 according to my Shorter Oxford, but it seems to have dropped another Americanism from the 1930s and I think now is the time to revive it.

The word is bankster, derived by a marriage of banker and gangster.

It was coined, as far as I can deduce, by an American immigrant, a fiery Sicilian-born lawyer by the name of Ferdinand Pecora. He was the chief counsel to the US Senate Committee on Banking set up in the early 30s to probe the origins of the Crash of 1929.

Ron Paul uses this same out-of-circulation word in Freedom Under Siege twice:

The bankers, by now more properly called Banksters, wanted the ability to inflate together uniformly. Why inflate? In the same way counterfeiting benefits the counterfeiter, so inflating the money supply benefits the banker who is in charge of distributing credit.

But at what expense? The banksters have deluded the value of the 1914 dollar to about eight cents. And its value is still shrinking.

So, this word that was entirely out of circulation ends up in an article in a newsletter Paul is associated with, but which he denies authoring, supervising, or even knowing anything about, and several times in a book he is credited with writing. I see the possibility of a distinguishing mark linking both writers, the known of the book and the unknown of the newsletters.

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In Iowa, Politics Is Everything

From “What Stephen Bloom Is Missing About Iowa”, by Lynda Waddington, a response to “Observations From 20 Years of Iowa Life” by Stephen Bloom.

In Iowa, more than any other state except maybe New Hampshire, “think globally, but act locally” isn’t just a catch phrase. Those are words to live by. Residents understand that politics ranging from the local park board to the White House are symbiotic relationships that impact us all.

It is not possible to offer an assessment of anything in the state — agriculture, immigration, religion, education, etc. — without also acknowledging and including the political ramifications.

While I know many western Iowans who do not agree with ever-inflammatory U.S. Rep. Steve King, they cannot deny the Washington pork he provides is beneficial.

[Stephen] Bloom correctly notes that suicide rates in rural areas are higher than in urban centers and that behavioral health services (as well as other specialized health care) are not readily available, a subject I researched for more than a year while working as a political reporter. He does not note, however, that rural advocates, as part of an Iowa-centric regional hub, advocated and won approval for a rural emergency hotline service as a part of the Farm Bill. Although the hotline, which many believed would save hundreds of lives, came with a price tag of less than 1 percent of the total Farm Bill appropriations, it was never funded. Members of Congress saw the need for the program, but never carried through.

A state where politics is of importance and connected to everything, a representative who can at least be expected to bring in the federal cash, a simple hotline to provide assistance for the beleaguered – especially military veterans – that remains unfunded.

These may be contradictions, in life, in Ms. Waddington’s piece, bless her heart, or both.

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Roy Cohn and Barry Landau

I read Eliza Gray’s compelling piece, “The Collector”, on Barry Landau, currently indicted on conspiracy and theft.

A relevant section from “The Collector”:

On August 28, 1979, [Andy] Warhol’s diary records, “On the front page of the [New York] Post was a big picture of Barry Landau saying that he saw Hamilton Jordan at Studio 54 asking where he could get coke.” Hamilton Jordan happened to be President Carter’s chief of staff, and the allegations caused a major sensation. And Landau wasn’t the only accuser—he was joined by Studio 54 co-owner Steve Rubell and a drug dealer named Johnny C. The Justice Department appointed a special prosecutor to investigate.

But Jordan was never charged. This was in part because Landau proved to be a very unreliable witness. Years later, Arthur Christy, the special prosecutor, recalled to the Associated Press that he became so frustrated with Landau that he shoved him up against a wall. “It was apparent that Mr. Landau was not telling the truth,” Christy said.

It also became apparent that Landau had been pressuring Jordan for favors for some time. Jordan’s assistant testified that her boss had instructed her to send a telegram from the Carters to a client of Landau’s, Broadway star Lucie Arnaz, to congratulate her on an opening. After that, the secretary said Landau called her repeatedly seeking other favors for clients, like a tour of the White House or a staged meeting with the Carters at the Kennedy Center. The secretary thought he was a “creep” and said other administration staffers had warned her that he was a “pest” and a “con artist.”

Landau clearly craved access to the first family. But he may have craved acceptance from Studio 54’s inner circle even more. At the time the Jordan story exploded, Rubell and his co-owner, Ian Schrager, were facing prison terms for tax evasion. At one point, Warhol suggests that the accusations against Jordan were a ploy by Rubell to get a more lenient sentence on the tax charges. “He said wasn’t it great what Barry was doing, and for a second I forgot Barry was doing it for Steve and so I started to say how horrible Barry was, but I caught myself,” Warhol writes. “It’s Steve’s deal with the government—if he gives them names he’ll get a better deal. So Barry’s helping him give names.” The gambit failed; after the Jordan case fell apart, both Rubell and Schrager were convicted on the tax charges and went to jail.

I thought across the name of Barry Landau before. I have.

From Citizen Cohn by Nicholas Von Hoffman:

If Roy [Cohn] was sometimes accused of betraying his clients, it can’t be said of his efforts to keep Steve Rubell out of jail. The government has said that Rubell and [Ian] Schrager to save themselves, pointed the Justice Department in the direction of “various disco owners skimming money and evading taxes,” but in all likelihood it was Roy who was supplying information in Rubell’s name to curry the United States Attorney’s favor. Roy took a certain risk providing this information to help Rubell. One disco owner, a client of Roy’s who had been paying Roy to bribe New York City officials to get a zoning variance, had confidential lawyer-client tax information turned over to the government to rescue the owners of Studio 54 from impending incarceration. It didn’t work, but the man, who went to the penitentiary himself, might have taken Roy with him had he learned of his attorney’s treason soon enough.

When offering up one of his clients to the government to save another didn’t work, somebody, Roy or Mitchell Rogovin, Schrager’s lawyer, thought if the federal prosecutors wouldn’t eat catfish they might be fed salmon. This time, instead of being given up an unknown proprietor of a Manhattan discotheque, they were offered President Jimmy Carter’s chief of staff, Hamilton Jordan. “Here we had information that wasn’t necessarily prosecutable – that the chief of staff to the President was using cocaine in public. But I can tell you from my CIA background that it’s the kind of thing the government would want to know, because the Russians might try to blackmail Jordan if they knew,” Rogovin said.

The accusation that Hamilton Jordan took cocaine one night at Studio 54 broke in the New York Times and Roy was blamed for it.

Whether Roy had launched the allegation into public print, he did decide to run with it. A Columbia Journalism Review study of the episode concluded that, at this point, “The story needed buttressing. Enter Barry Landau, a Studio 54 regular, a friend of Rubell, a man whom a Post reporter overheard shouting in a hotel lobby that his bills should be sent to ‘my lawyer Roy Cohn,’ and a self-described PR consultant who had no office and no clients but who had, as subsequent coverage revealed, falsely represented himself as the PR man for Lucille Ball and Andy Warhol. Landau gave Cohn a sworn statement in which he claimed that on the night Jordan visited Studio 54, Jordan had asked him where he could obtain cocaine. The Landau story was offered to the Times…the Times found reason to doubt Landau’s credibility.

“Finding no quick takers for the Landau information elsewhere, Cohn reportedly turned to the Post which decided to go with the story. As a Post reporter who checked out Landau recalls, his editor, told that Landau was ‘a flake,’ replied: “Who cares about Landau being a flake? We’re selling newspapers. We’ve got a story on the number two man in the government!’…The Post‘s sensational cover line read JORDAN BOMBSHELL A KEY WITNESS TELLS JUSTICE DEPT. CHIEF OF STAFF ASKED ME WHERE THE COCAINE WAS AT STUDIO 54.”

Harvey Mann, who was doing public relations for Studio 54 and remembered the incident, agreed with the Columbia Journalism Review‘s assessment: “None of that shit took place. Just none of it. Absolutely none of it. It was all from the fertile imagination of…Barry Landau…A real putz. A major putz.”

By this time the object of the game may not have been to get Roy’s client off, since what Roy was doing risked raising the ire of the highest people in the Carter administration, but to inflict damage on political opponents. This explanation fits what the Review reported transpired next: “Times stories the next two days undercut the credibility of this ‘key witness.’ But no sooner had Landau started to fade than a new character was brought into the act…Claudia Cohen, editor of the Post‘s Page Six, retailed a Fugazy limousine driver’s version of the one of Jordan’s wild nights on the town…” Be it remembered that is Roy’s friend Bill Fugazy. Claudia Cohen was a newer friend but a good one, for the dying Roy summoned the strength to go to her wedding luncheon. “The driver,” continued the Journal, “who refused to be identified, spoke of a ‘beautiful blonde’ who had accompanied Jordan and then told what came to be popularly known as the ‘Fugazy Blow Job Story.’ According to the driver, one of Jordan’s friends had ‘performed a sexual act’ with a woman inside the limousine while the driver waited in front of a hotel for Jordan. Claudia Cohen refuses to comment on whether this was a Cohn-fed story designed to discredit Jordan by association.”

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More Last Notes On Ron Paul: Pat Buchanan in 1996

(This post originally stated that Paul endorsed Buchanan in 1996; Paul endorsed Buchanan in 1992. Apologies for the error.)

This post is in part inspired by the overall rise of Ron Paul in Iowa, this Dave Weigel post, “Poll: Newsletters Not Hurting Paul in Iowa”, and a Conor Friedersdorf post, “Grappling with Ron Paul’s Racist Newsletters.

It should be stated emphatically: the newsletters will not hurt Paul at all in Iowa or New Hampshire. That there might appear to be a media elite that makes an issue of it only helps him. The best analogue, I think, for the Paul campaign is the campaign of the candidate who Ron Paul endorsed in 1992, Patrick Buchanan. In 1996, Buchanan carried with him a 1992 convention speech that many found repulsive, as well as a well documented history of questioning or diluting the possibility of the holocaust. This messy history did not hurt him at all in Iowa, where he placed second, or in New Hampshire, where he placed first, this with a small ten cent campaign (I think Buchanan would adore that they be called guerillas or an intifada) versus the Bob Dole colossus.

The mistake should not be made, then or now, that the base of either campaign was knuckle dragging paleos, rather than a wide spectrum of people repelled by a clump of false choices, whose passions are entirely rehearsed.

Here is John Cassidy in “Why Ron Paul Isn’t Just Another Right-Wing Nut”:

Out there in Iowa, thousands of Paul supporters, many of them young and enthused, seem determined to go ahead with this meaningless exercise in democracy. They are busy putting up posters, making phone calls, knocking on doors, and packing the candidate’s appearances in places like Sioux City and Maquoketa. In a primary in which many of the other candidates have largely forsaken one-on-one campaigning in favor of televised debates and television ad blitzes financed by super-PACs, Paul and his supporters represent a reassertion of old-fashioned shoe-leather politics. The other candidates have campaigns: Ron Paul, for good or ill, has a movement.

What sort of movement? From a brief reading of the national coverage of Paul’s campaign, you might be driven to the conclusion that his support is largely made up of racists, gun freaks, isolationists, homeschoolers, and Friedrich Hayek enthusiasts. Certainly, there are some of these. Paul’s decision, back in the early nineteen-nineties, to try and move beyond his econo-libertarian base by embracing other right-wing groups, including some linked to militias and neo-Nazis, is rightfully coming back to haunt him in the form of front page articles in the Times and elsewhere. When Newt Gingrich, as he did yesterday, describes the views of a fellow conservative as “totally outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American,” you know there is a problem.

But many of Paul’s supporters, particularly the younger ones, can’t be categorized as traditional right-wing extremists. What draws them to his campaign isn’t his views on welfare-dependency, Israel, or monetary policy, but his reputation as an outsider, a plain speaker, and a scourge of the political establishment.

This is Michael Lewis, writing of the Buchanan campaign in The Losers: The Road To Everyplace but the White House:

As always, Buchanan attracts a surprisingly prosperous and ordinary crowd; if you close your ears to their roiling enthusiasm you might think you are at a Dole event. But you’re not. The central fact about the Buchanan supporters is their panicky feeling of powerlessness. Some part of this feeling is no doubt the response of a psychotic mind to the complications of modern life. But another part of it is perfectly legitimate and endemic to minority life in a democracy. The people don’t rule. The majority does. It’s for just this reason—that, ultimately, they won’t win—that groups of people whose interests are not remotely similar can afford to join together into a single political movement. It’s only when such a movement comes close to actual power that it experiences the ordinary pressures to fracture. The evangelical Christian in the tweed jacket with the Buchanan sign looks first to his right, where he sees a raving lunatic, and then to his left, where he finds an unemployed worker, and asks: Do I want him to have his finger on the button?

More, equally important shared circumstances. A leading candidate, Romney now, Dole then, who is expected to win, is in a lock to win, who makes few contacts with voters, is kept outside of media scrutiny, has a pile of political opinions that aren’t his own but grabbagged from others in order to win the nomination, and a circular argument with a qualifier: the leading candidate is expected to win because of a substantial warchest and a pile of endorsements, which the candidate has received because he is expected to win, even though large numbers of Republican voters passionately do not want him to win, and are fighting against him in part because of this certainty that he will win.

The Buchanan election was at a time of greater economic prosperity than now, but he may have been received with such enthusiasm in Iowa because it was a period of relative long-term downturn in per capita personal incomes, from parity with the national average in 1975 to 90% in 1995. Incomes in Iowa went up and down since then, with a rise in the past two years I’m guessing due to the farm boom, though always still below parity with the national average – all in a period of stagnant national average incomes (U.S. Bureau Of Economic Analysis).

So, Paul may have many of the same political circumstances as the candidate he endorsed in 1992, but also a greater exhaustion over any foreign policy commitments, with greater unease over job security and economic stability. An important distinction is that Buchanan is a phenomenal speaker, while Paul is not. That this distinction is irrelevant is telling. That Paul is an unflashy, plain speaker is as crucial to his appeal as candidate as great speakership is in another. It is something that “represents” him, an anti-image of unprocessed small town straight talker, an image that may well be as false as Romney’s – who, I believe, is supposed to a be some sort of fire-breathing conservative – but which his supporters wish to continue to believe in, which the newsletters will not interrupt at all. The newsletters will be dismissed not because of any savvy on the part of the Paul campaign, but because his supporters wish to believe, and this belief, that he is a system shaking anti-establishment candidate, cannot be transferred on to anyone else.

If the analogy with Buchanan holds for Paul, then we can expect the possibility of his winning at least the same counties as his predecessor did. If geographic distribution of income across the state in 1996 was anything like it was in 2010, his winning counties will reflect the broad appeal of both campaigns, across counties of varying income levels. County map of 1996 Republican primary. Average weekly wages in Iowa (map is at the bottom) by county.

The winning counties for Buchanan, with each county’s average weekly wage in second quarter 2010:

Lyon ($526), Sioux ($580), Plymouth ($689), Woodbury ($690), Monona ($525), Osceola ($557), O’Brien ($548), Ida ($623), Shelby ($568), Buena Vista ($599), Carroll ($585), Pocahontas ($575), Calhoun ($540), Webster ($664), Hamilton ($592), Boone ($645), Hancock ($661), Howard ($586), Allamakee ($536), Dubuque ($670), Des Moines ($633), Van Buren ($586), Marion ($664), Mahaska ($611)

National average at this time was $865 (wage numbers are from Bureau of Labor Statistics). The only counties above $800 were Dallas, Polk, Linn, and Monroe – all of whom went for Dole in ’96.

Additional counties that might fall in line with Paul based on how they voted in the ’00 (2000 results) and ’08 primaries () might be Monroe, Madison, Warren, Jasper, Keokuk. Votes for Dole, but more tepid than in other places, votes for Bush but more tepid, if not a vote for Forbes, support for Huckabee.

Now: what was initially intended as a short reply to Conor Friedersdorf, who responds to the newsletters here. A fragment:

How is it — some of you might ask — that I’d even consider a vote for a candidate who, at best, negligently lent his name to a racist publication, profited from the deal, and either never bothered to find out who wrote the offending material or lied about being ignorant of it? (To be clear, if I thought he actually wrote the newsletters I certainly would not vote for him.) I’d answer that none of the policies he advocates makes me morally uncomfortable — unlike his competition. And that he has a long history of doing what he says when elected, and no more.

“How could you vote for someone who…”

Isn’t that a thorny formulation? I’m sometimes drawn to it. And yet. We’re all choosing among a deeply compromised pool of candidates, at least when the field is narrowed to folks who poll above 5 percent. Put it this way. How can you vote for someone who wages an undeclared drone war that kills scores of Pakistani children? Or someone who righteously insisted that indefinite detention is an illegitimate transgression against our civilizational values, and proceeded to support that very practice once he was elected? How can you vote for someone who has claimed to be deeply convicted about abortion on both sides of the issue, constantly misrepresents his record, and demagogues important matters of foreign policy at every opportunity? Or someone who suggests a religious minority group should be discriminated against? Or who insists that even given the benefit of hindsight, the Iraq War was a just and prudent one?

And yet many of you, Republicans and Democrats, will do just that — just as you and I have voted for a long line of past presidents who’ve deliberately pursued policies of questionable-at-best morality.

I am very much in favor of many of the policies which incite Mr. Friedersdorf’s support for Paul. I will, however, mention a modest proposal variation which fits his defense as well.

Obama supporter: Jack the Ripper? Is the GOP actually running you for president?

Jack the Ripper: Why, yes. And who are you to criticize? The many I have killed are only a fraction of those killed by the drones of your president. The suffering I’ve caused is but a thimbleful against the pain caused by your jails.

This is hyperbole, but even in this extreme case, it’s a working defense. Beyond this, it is a defense that implies, I think, a certain arrogance. That a candidate’s policies are so good, never mind their possibility of passage, that it exorcises any past sin. A counterpart on the other side of the aisle would be a democratic candidate who expected to be forgiven his klansman past because his promised programs of universal healthcare and gun control are so beneficial. Both varieties, I think, are a kind of condescending paternalism. Though our fellow men are asked to be accountable for their sins, some should be held less accountable than others because of the future benevolence they may demonstrate once they assume the powers of the state.

I will also note that if Paul is expected to be consistent with his past thoughts in any future policies as president, he will no doubt end all financial and diplomatic backing for the world court, as well as any financial backing for AIDS and other disease therapies internationally, AIDS research, as well as various subsidies for food, medicine, and heat back home – all of which could be expected to add a few thousand bodies to the charnel house. May we at least include such losses in the moral calculus, along with the lives saved from the end of drone wars?

A last note among many last notes: let us at least be rigorous enough to distinguish between intentional harm and unintentional, unwanted harm, incidental to the objective. The goals of the war in Afghanistan may, should, be questioned. The means to achieve that goal may, should, be questioned. I do not think, however, a claim can be made that the express intent, integral and necessary to the policy, was to kill children. If the goals could have been achieved without ever having such deaths, if these goals could indeed even have been achieved, the policymakers would have been grateful. I will contrast that with intent of the Paul newsletters, where the express intent, integral and necessary to the writer and the reader, are stories of jewish conspiracy, how those with AIDS those be exiled and ostracized, how to kill black men and get away with it, solely for the purpose of entertainment, ethnic solidarity, and above all, profit.

We may have another absurd modest proposal out of this contrast. There is a hostage situation in a city. A risky rescue is proposed and the mayor gives his sayso. Many, including children, are killed when things go wrong. In another part of the city, a man beats and robs a woman solely for the pleasure of humiliating her and the possession of a few more dollars. If we do not distinguish between intended and unintended harm, as Mr. Friedersdorf does not, it seems the robber should be preferred for mayor, as he has the blood of a simple mugging on his hands, while the current leader is culpable for the deaths of many.

This post has no formal closing, which is suitable, since with what may well take place in Iowa and New Hampshire it will be one of many last notes on this subject.

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Notes About One Of The Last Scenes In Blue Velvet (SPOILERS)

This post was cited by the site 366 Weird Movies in their insightful piece on the movie, “201. Blue Velvet”, published May 6, 2015. We are so very grateful for the mention.

The following contains very violent imagery.

Quick notes about one of the last scenes in the David Lynch movie, when Jeffrey enters Dorothy’s room for the last time, and finds the Yellowman and Dorothy’s husband, Don Vallens, both dead. It might be one of the most exotic, most memorable images I’ve ever seen, but when I try to put together the circumstances which lead to this event, in contrast, they’re banal.

Frank Booth has just been hit with a number of major raids across the city, his operation compromised.

David Lynch's Blue Velvet - the raid on Frank Booth - URL if gif doesn't load:

Though he knows Jeffrey is in a relationship with Dorothy, he does not know that he is also seeing Sandy, Detective Williams’ daughter. Nor does he know that Jeffrey surveilled him and knows about the various locations he operates. Williams learns of Frank’s business through Jeffrey’s research; however, Frank does not know this. The Yellowman has seen Jeffrey at Williams, and he’s seen him at Dorothy’s but in his bugman disguise; he doesn’t connect they’re the same man. So, when Frank is raided at various precise locations he assumes someone talked, not thinking that Jeffrey is the suspect. He believes it’s either Dorothy, or that the Yellowman double crossed him.

The Yellowman still has his gun holstered; he was among trusted associates and did not expect to be shot. Frank was there when it happened, because when he arrives at Dorothy’s apartment, he’s not surprised by the scene at all. The Yellowman was shot very close, if not at the exact position where he’s standing, since there’s no blood trail in the carpet. He’s shot on the left side, the exit wound on the right, with the gore hitting the wall on his right.

Blue Velvet Yellowman last scene

He’s moved slightly since then, so we see the exit wound. We can perhaps imagine the scene. The Yellowman, Raymond and Paul are pressing Dorothy on whether she talked to anyone. They threaten her directly, but also by threatening her husband in front of her. Raymond, say, shoots the TV for intimidation effect – I think the angle of the shot is from someone standing near where Dorothy’s husband is.

Blue Velvet Yellowman last scene

David Lynch's Blue Velvet - Yellowman is shot, TV is shot out - URL if gif doesn't load:

Raymond, say, gets a call from Frank to keep the Yellowman there – when he arrives, he may give a signal, some keyword said, and on that, shoot him. Frank arrives. They all turn to see him, including the Yellowman, who now faces the door, his right side facing the wall where the gore splatters. The Yellowman asks what’s happening out there. Frank gives an answer that contains the keyword. The Yellowman has no sense that he’s in danger, and Raymond shoots him. Dorothy flees. Dorothy’s husband, of no use to them now, is shot and killed.

I think of this as a possibility that fits the visual details in the scene. They’re the banal context of the gang betrayed, the traitor killed, that we’ve seen, or imagined we’ve seen, in many movies and TV shows. I stress the banality, because I think Blue Velvet is one of my favorite movies, if not my favorite, and to make clear, if only to myself, that the power of the movie does not lie with the plot, which again, is not that unconventional. To focus on the plot, or even worse, some “political” aspect of the story, is like investigating in-depth movie theaters or night cafes to get at the power of the paintings of Edward Hopper.

The most crucial part of what I’ve mentioned is that it’s entirely hidden and left to speculation. The aftereffect of the image, the puzzling sui generis composition is important, the before is not, can only be a bunch of several seen details. Blue Velvet‘s power lies in keeping many things under a veil. The nature of Frank’s operation. The relationships between Frank and Dorothy, as well as Frank and Ben. Whether Dorothy’s husband worked for Frank and what he did that got him into trouble. I will borrow a word from Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, “nyktomorph”. I disagree greatly with Booker’s book, but I think the word and his definition extraordinarily useful for talking about this movie. He links the phenomenon to the primal process of threat identification:

Because, in the darkness, the brain cannot get enough information to see the bush clearly, it is teased into exaggerating the significance of what it sees, building it up in imagination as a threatening monster. This is the phenomenon we may call a ‘nyktomorph’, a ‘night shape’: an image which, because the brain cannot resolve it, becomes invested with far greater power than if it could be clearly seen and understood. And to understand how fantasy works, one must appreciate that it is precisely because it feeds on these nyktomorphic images which cannot reach resolution that it comes to exercise such an obsessive hold over the human mind.

Booker considers nyktomorphs part of ego based fantasies, which he considers a kind of storytelling gone wrong. Booker does not approve of nyktomorphs; but I do.

That the true details of the plot remain submerged is part of the movie’s power. Many of its images are nyktomorphic too. For large parts of the movie, the viewer feels as if they see everything in the shot. Yet other vital scenes, most prominently Dorothy’s apartment and Ben’s place, feel so rich in detail that it’s impossible to absorb it all, with details always going missing. We are forever given too brief a view. When Jeffrey enters Dorothy’s apartment and sees the dead bodies, we are allowed only the briefest wide shot.

Blue Velvet Yellowman last scene

Then, another, later, but with Jeffrey blocking part of our view.

Blue Velvet Yellowman last scene

David Lynch's Blue Velvet - Yellowman knocks the lamp down - URL if gif doesn't load:

Afterwards, we will only get close-ups of parts of the scene, the Yellowman, the TV set, Dorothy’s husband; and then part of the scene at an angle when Frank enters the scene.

Blue Velvet Yellowman last scene

A far longer amount of time is given over to Jeffrey’s reaction to the mayhem. He gets a long look, we do not.

Blue Velvet Yellowman last scene

“Restriction is the mother of invention” is another phrase, very useful here. This was Lynch’s own project, which required many sacrifices and burdens for him to make; but he had the constraints of reality reaching the heightened quality of fantasy, but only reaching always within the restrictions of reality (the world of Blue Velvet is entirely our own, the world of Twin Peaks is not), all drawn within the lines of an A-B-C thriller plot. This would be the last time one of his movies would have this exact set of constraints. Twin Peaks and Fire Walk With Me had a thriller plot with a metaphysical fantasy world superimposed, most of its most astonishing moments coming from the pagan forces that attempted to manipulate the earthbound characters. Wild At Heart had an open ended road movie structure. Lost Highway was either a fantasy world formed by lunacy or another, different pagan force. The Straight Story was straight ahead realism, with none of the heightening of danger, eroticism, or both that is in Velvet. With Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire, we are again at the intersection of madness and metaphysical beings.

I note this distinction only to indicate why Blue Velvet may have such a different look and feel from David Lynch’s later work. His photon tapestries have given me crescendos of sensation that make the offerings of others so many empty plates. A great circus master neither needs nor wants advice from the stands.

All images copyright De Laurentiis Entertainment Group.

On May 9, 2015, the supplementary gifs were added to this post. On that same day, it underwent a session of copy editing.

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A Few Necessary (Possibly Last) Points On The Ron Paul Papers Here

First, I should say I am grateful to Mr. Ta-Nehisi Coates for the link here, by which the transcribed text may receive wider distribution. Second, I am grateful, again, to Mr. Jamie Kirchick for doing the hard work of obtaining these documents.

Given the current furor, I should state several necessary points.

I do not consider what is vile and offensive in these documents as having anything to do with libertarianism. I am in antipathy with several libertarian ideas regarding deregulation of markets, and in sympathy with many having to do with crime, surveillance, immigration and detention. What is said here should not, cannot, be connected or blamed on libertarianism any more than the prejudices of the democratic governors of the Jim Crow south be blamed on liberalism.

I do not work for, nor do I have any connection with, any of those currently running for the Republican nomination. I think all the candidates have been terrible, with the possible exceptions of Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson, who make me think of Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich in Eragon, for they prompt the same question: “Shouldn’t you two be in a better movie right now?”

My reason for transcribing the documents is that after reading of them so long, when I finally did get around to reading them, I found the content far more vile, far more disturbing than I expected. There was no exculpating context. I would come across references again and again to Paul’s own life, which semmed to indicate that if Paul himself was not the writer, the writer was happy to pass himself off and be mistaken for Paul. We may well live in a period of faux racial crisises constructed for political benefit – Shirley Sherrod being the most infamous example. For all I know, there may well be a Fox News segment accusing Barack Obama of being anti-white because he was witnessed listening to a Brand Nubian song in 1990. I do not believe anything need be constructed or exaggerated in these documents; these documents are damnable in and of themselves. My only goal in transcribing the pdfs, and posting links in several places, was that they gain a wide a distribution as possible, that the full extent be discussed, rather than the fragments of isolated image caps. Should anyone copy what’s here in its entirety and paste it to a more visited site, away and apart from the idiosyncrasies of a blog first started as a keepsake for my idle thoughts, I would be entirely in favour of such an action. This is not racial shit disturbing for fun and profit.

I will also concur with Mr. Coates on the point made in his post here: that the motive behind the publication, whether opportunistim or heartfelt prejudice, is irrelevant. Were I a black man living in an area where a newsletter with the article “Blast ‘Em?” had wide distribution, I would feel a greater fear, genuine fear, for my life. I would fear that one night I would be shot and killed on the pretext that my cap and pants implied that I was a thief. I would fear for my life when I drove an expensive car, perhaps my parents’, perhaps my own, that I would be shot and killed on the pretext that I had jacked it. Any legal repercussions of my murder could be avoided by following the instructions in “Blast ‘Em?” That the writer of the article wrote it solely for a few extra dollars would do nothing to lessen my fear. That it had been done for a few extra dollars, not out of any great ire, would seem to mean that my life, lived or lost, did not mean much of anything to the writer at all.

A few last documents, less damning if at all, may be transcribed and posted here (should no one else do so) after christmas. They will, most likely be my last thoughts on this subject and Ron Paul. I am in agreement with some of his policies regarding drug legalization and the dismantling of many of the post-9/11 security state measures, while being completely at odds with his belief that the social welfare state be entirely erased. However: the issue of the continued existence of government institutions can be debated, pro or con; the prejudice expressed in these newsletters cannot. That there be a stigma attached to “Blast ‘Em?” or “The Disappearing White Majority” does not restrict debate on any legitimate political ideas or proposals.

I close by re-stating my admiration for Andrew Sullivan’s work over many years which documented and made unyielding criticism of the torture and interment practices in every part of the world during the War On Terror. I wrote an angry, critical post directed toward him at a time between his losing a dear friend and christmas. It is a criticism specific to an endorsement, and no part of a larger attack on the man. My criticism, I believe, is very much a part of his own traditions of skepticism and speaking truth to power, which he has vigorously, thankfully, defended. And I believe that to make what small efforts that one can to shed light on, and lessen, the indignities of one’s fellow man, is very much consistent with the good works of the figures, antithetical to each other as they are, of last Thursday and this Sunday. This is not racial shit disturbing for fun and profit.

I wish you happy holidays.

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A Sentence I Very Much Liked

From Tropical Gangsters: One Man’s Experience With Development And Decadence In Deepest Africa by Robert Klitgaard.

We went back into town and looked around. Despite all the horror stories I’d heard about local conditions, Malabo made a good first impression. Most buildings were two-story Spanish colonial structures of no small charm – although colors that used to be white and yellow and light green had faded to off-white and battle-scarred tan and moldy green. The water stains on the walls were like mascara after tears. Malabo’s little harbor was spectacular. Ridged by steep cliffs a hundred feet high crowned with a majestic row of palms, the half-mile or so of harbor contained one big dock and one small one, and the sea in the distance looked clear and deep.

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