A colorful and nearly flawless inauguration, with a dash of musical performances, greets President Obama's second term. Even though he no longer has to make the trek to LA to fundraise, some of his supporters are hopeful that he will continue to draw on the industry for support. Watch the above video to see him take the Oath of Office.
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That would be his brother, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who made some jokes at his borther's expense at the opening of the 2011 Cable Show.
"On behalf of the entire Emanuel family, we apologize for Ari," said Emanuel, per the Los Angeles Times. "You know him as an agent, we know him as a brother. We thought that we got the worse end of the deal."
He was kidding, of course, but it makes me remember all of the jokes from President Obama about Rahm's penchant for expletives.
This week we saw Egypt erupt, while their government targeted journalists trying to cover the story.
George Clooney's eye-in-the-sky over Sudan produced some disconcerting images.
More than 400 rabbis protested Fox News "Nazi" references, and they made their grievances known on News Corp. turf.
And...presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty top gunned campaign spots, Keith Olbermann broke his silence with tweet after tweet, Maxine Waters finally weighed in against the approval of Comcast NBC U, and one of the biggest champions of NPR and PBS comes from the right.
Mailbox: There were a number of comments to the post on the Oscar snub of "Waiting for Superman" for best documentary, even as it helped elevate the fate of public education into the national debate.
Commenter "Khodabear" wrote, "Yours is the only substantial industry in the world that has absolute distain (sic) for its customers.
"Seriously - you make PG&E look like a chain of Day Spas. And you wonder why your revenues and business model continues to decline."
Commenter Ningrim wrote, "Variety acts like the reason for this is some mystery to them. They need to get out of the Hollywood bubble. Has a right-leaning or critical-of-the-left documentary every been nominated? Doesn't matter how good it is, that's an instant disqualification."
There were even more calls from congressional Republicans this week to end funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
My story on the perils ahead for NPR and PBS drew this lengthy response from commentator Lynne G, who found their marketing and lobbying campaigns wanting: "Public broadcasting's biggest enemy is itself - and I say that as a onetime employee and lifelong supporter. Across the system, in tv/radio/online, there's a head-in-the-sand mentality. Few outlets explore or develop smarter, more effective fundraising concepts. Fewer still study and practice competitive marketing. Despite all the economic and media changes of the past decade, most public broadcasting entities do things the same as they did in 2001. That includes still spending time and money on endless research and conferences to discuss the sorry state of their problems.
"Their big lobbying campaign to fight these funding cuts is a perfect example: they've got a website and strategy around the claim that 170 million Americans, half the U.S. population, use public media. And with this positioning, they're handing it to the Republicans who are probably asking, "Then why aren't you capable of generating more than 5-10 percent of member donors from that base?" It's a shame if we lose public broadcasting but the system itself is making it more and more a reality."
But there's ample evidence that the Jon Stewart-Stephen Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear drew as great or even more viewers than Glenn Beck's Rally to Restore Honor.
The comedians' three-hour event drew some 2 million viewers on Saturday, according to Comedy Central.
The event drew 1.1 million viewers 18-49, and 682,309 from 18-34. The cable net said that viewership was 3 1/2 times normal levels of that time period. The event also was shown on C-SPAN, which is not measured by Nielsen. There were 570,000 live video streams of the event, Comedy Central said, and more than 800,000 visitors to Rally related sites.
In comparison, Glenn Beck's Rally to Restore Honor on Aug. 28, parts of which were shown across many different news outlets, drew 1.08 million viewers on Fox News, 729,000 on CNN and 283,000 on MSNBC.
The most contentious issue is just how many people attended the rally. Comedy Central says that 250,000 people were there, and the Washington Metro bolstered the case by sending out a press release saying that the event helped shatter Saturday ridership levels.
Beck told his radio listeners that "at least" 500,000 attended his rally. But the area around the Lincoln Memorial, where his event was held, makes up a smaller space than the area where the Stewart-Colbert event was, starting at 3rd street and stretching down the Mall to the Washington Monument.
Like it did for the Beck rally, CBS News commissioned AirPhotosLive.com to do an estimate of the event, and the service determined that 215,000 attended, compared to 87,000 for the Beck event.
Some non-media reaction. Henry Rollins writes on VanityFair.com, "Considering the long-term effects of what might be dropping on all Americans this week, it will be interesting to see what they make of the outcome. Personally, I would much rather see the Palin-loving, Beck-watching crowd get results they find infuriating and contrary to everything they have been convinced they stand for. I think the waves of sanity washing over them might take a little getting used to but would serve them better in the long run. No matter what the election results are, I don’t think things are going to quiet down or resemble anything approaching sanity at all."
Here's my take on the event that appeared in today's Daily Variety.
The singer is one of a host of musicians who will perform this evening at "In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement," which is the latest in a music series. Also performing: Yolanda Adams, Joan Baez, Natalie Cole, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Howard University Choir, and The Freedom Singers. Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman and Queen Latifah are among those who will do readings of famous civil rights speeches and writings.
The event will be streamed live starting at 5 p.m. on the White House web site.
Visual artist Chuck Close is among the new members appointed to President Obama's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
The White House said that others nominated to the committee, chaired by Margo Lion and George Stevens, are entertainment attorney Fred Goldring, BET co-founder Sheila Johnson, Avid Partners founder Pamela Joyner, writer Jhumpa Lahiri and Ovation TV chairman Ken Solomon. Goldring and Solomon were Obama campaign bundlers, and Joyner was a major donor.
Remember them? How soon we all forget. The alleged White House party crashers were before a congressional committee today but didn't say much. They "took the fifth" pending the results of a criminal investigation.
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) said, “To have engaged in conduct that undercut the seriousness of our role to protect the president as some sort of reality TV stunt is an extraordinary affront to the seriousness of the issues that are before us today. The Constitution protects fools. It protects stupidity. It protects errant thought.”
Peter Bart was in Washington for the Kennedy Center Honors, and found the White House reception frostier toward the Hollywood crowd than even during the Bush years.
He writes, "While President George W. Bush in past years shook every celebrity hand and posed for photos with visitors at the White House reception, the Obamas remained aloof, fleeing to their box at the Kennedy Center.
"Stunned by recent security breaches, the White House kept guests shivering outside in 30 degree temperatures, opening the reception ten minutes late and shuttling guests through 25 minutes of repeated screenings and pat-downs, the whole process taking place outside.
"Several stars grumbled; one suggested to a social secretary that the Obama staff study the Academy Awards for lessons in celebrity management."
Said one prominent Hollywood actor, "I never thought I’d miss the Bushes, but this place seemed a lot warmer when they were here.”
In the post-Salahi security breach, the social side of the White House is either coming down to earth, or reflecting the fact the Obama has never been all that comfortable with Hollywood.
The effort to require that radio broadcasters pay performers when they play their music got the endorsement of the AFL-CIO.
The Performance Rights Act has been hotly contested in Congress, where efforts among lawmakers to negotiate a compromise have so far yielded little. Broadcasters have argued that they provide valuable promotion for artists, and therefore there's little need for compensation, especially at a time when so many of them are struggling with a dire ad market. They've also lined up some 252 House members and 27 senators to support a resolution calling for no new performance fee on radios stations.
The president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, is urging those lawmakers to take a second look, given that amendments have been made to the bill to take into account smaller station. "There is simply no argument to be made about financial hardships to broadcasters," he writes.
The bill has cleared the Senate and House judiciary committees, but as of yet there is no floor vote scheduled.
What struck me about the White House “gate crashers,” Michaele and Tareq Salahi, was not just their ability to pierce security checkpoints but also a report that Tareq had been spotted around town in a stretch Hummer.
Reality show culture, with all of its ostentatious trappings, has gained a foothold in the nation’s capital (see below), and it’s probably there to stay.
That's my latest column in Politico, which you can read here.
The Obama administration just released the list of those expected at tonight's state dinner.
Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Robin Roberts, Fareed Zakaria and Tom Friedman are among the journalists invited. The Hollywood contingent includes the Dreamworks trio, Mark Gorenberg and Wendy Wanderman, Ari Emanuel, M. Night Shyamalan, Kate Clinton and Urvashi Vaid, Alfre Woodard and Blair Underwood, Michael Lynton and Jamie Alter Lynton. Oprah Winfrey will not make it, but Gayle King is expected. Others expected include GE chairman Jeffrey Immelt, former FCC chairman Newton Minow and Facebook's Chris Hughes.
David Geffen and his boyfriend, Jeremy Lingvall, will be at the president's table along with Gursharan Kaur, the wife of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), according to the Washington Post. Ambassador to India Tim Roemer and his guest Mary Johnston; Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi; and Nancy and Paul Pelosi. Prime Minister Singh will be at the First Lady's table along with Colin Powell, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and others.
How did Geffen land such a plum spot? He was an early supporter of Obama's, having hosted him at his home when he was still a senator, and famously injected himself into presidential politics with a scathing critique of Hillary Clinton in an interview he gave to Maureen Dowd in February, 2007, just as he was co-hosting Obama's first major Hollywood fund-raiser. He's also good friends with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, which can't hurt when it comes to seating arrangements.
It's not hard to guess why the invites went out to many of the names: They were bundlers and fund-raisers during the campaign, or stumped for Obama on the trail. Other factors may be at play as well. In addition to holding fund-raisers for candidate Obama, Lynton presides over a media company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, with a big presence in India, including one of the leading Hindi language channels. Lynton also was named one of the 75 "Architects of the Indian Century" by the Indian biz publication, Business & Economy magazine. Dreamworks and Spielberg have a deal with Indian media company Reliance.
Minow served as chairman of the FCC during the Kennedy administration, but was a big Obama booster and hired him as a summer associate to the law firm of Sidley & Austin.
Nevertheless, there's bound to be some unhappy supporters who didn't make the cut, as First Lady Michelle Obama went to some length today to explain that the event had a limited capacity. (About 300 or so).
Politico has a live stream of the event, with Oscar-like arrivals, here.
The full list below:
Jose Feliciano, Marc Anthony, Pete Escovedo, Los Lobos and Gloria Estefan were among the performers on hand as the White House celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month this evening with a Fiesta Latino concert on the South Lawn.
The event --- which had President Obama wiggling his hips and taking to the dance floor (albeit not in Tom DeLay fashion) --- marked another in a series of concerts at the White House this year as the administration tries to bolster the visibility of the arts.
Obama said, per the AP, "In the end, what makes Latin music great is the same thing that's always made America great. The unique ability to celebrate our differences while creating something new."
Earlier in the day, Longoria Parker appeared at a Capitol Hill press conference along with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, right, and members of the National Museum of the American Latino Commission to discuss plans for a museum project in Washington.
The New York Times Jon Pareles reviewed the concert, writing, "coalition-building came with dance steps, sequins and plenty of rhythm is here." He also cited Lopez's quip, “While we have been in here, Lou Dobbs has petitioned to build a wall around this tent.”
The mag says, in a list just posted on GQ.com, "He knows procedure, he's ruthlessly pragmatic about what is politically achievable, and he knows how and when to twist arms and call in the many favors he's owed. All of which has helped him wrangle fence-sitters when it came to ponying up for the stimulus package, negotiate with the Senate Finance Committee on health care, and keep the liberal and conservative elements of his own party in line."
All people with the last name "Obama" and "Biden" were stricken from the list, eliminating the obvious choices. But as Politico points out, the day-to-day face of the administration, Robert Gibbs, is not anywhere to be found.
What's most noticeable is the influx of new names, reflecting the obvious shift of power in the past year. That still didn't keep Dick Cheney from ranking No. 9, after being ineligible from previous lists.
Among media types, Jane Mayer of the New Yorker and Scott Shane of the New York Times rank No. 27, The mag writes, "Their work has impacted our detention policies and, whether they'd admit it or not, forced the hand of the Obama administration to release the torture memos. Call them journalists, advocates, or pains in the ass of power, what they do is essential."
George Stephanopoulous is the only on-air journalist to make it, ranking No. 31. "The questions he asks—whether informed by his regular conversations with his old pal Rahm or not—are much tougher and more forward-looking than those you get on the other Sunday shows."
Other notables: Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, at No. 37; Bob Cohn, editorial director of The Atlantic.com, at No. 39; White House social secretary Desiree Rogers, at No. 40; Politico editor in chief John Harris, at No. 43; lawyer Robert Barnett, at No. 44; SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein, at No. 45; and restaurateur Ashok Bajaj is No. 47.
As a reminder that in D.C. power is not always about politics, Washington Capitals hockey player Alexander Ovechkin ranks No. 48.
GQ is feting the honorees this evening at 701 Restaurant in D.C, with the list featured in their upcoming November issue.
"Obama, I know you are listening," she said on the West Lawn of the Capitol, before shouting, at the top of her lungs, "'Are you listening?' We will continue to push you and your administration to bring your words of promise to a reality."
That stood in contrast to the rousing reception that Obama received on Saturday night when he addressed a black tie Human Rights Campaign gala at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where he vowed to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell, to sign hate crimes legislation and to work toward repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. The crowd of donors, celebrities and activists there often stood up in excitement.
Obama also quipped that he was the opening act for Lady Gaga. How right he was.
The National Equality March was less about changing minds that it was energizing a new breed of activist in the gay rights movement --- younger, more aggressive, more dispersed and more impatient with the political establishment. As such, more than a few speakers were skeptical of Obama's promises, or insistent on holding him to his word.
I wasn't able to make the march; after being on vacation with my husband all last week, we had to change our plans at the last minute.
But from what I saw, its success was in what it was not: Slickly produced. That made it all the more genuine, from the spartan stage to the online mobilizing. This was grassroots to the point that even 10 days ago, organizers had little idea of just how many people would show up. Established gay organizations were reluctant to sign on at first, and many bloggers harbored doubts from the start that the team could pull it off. But initial estimates ranged from 150,000 to 200,000, filling the streets of Washington from Dupont Circle to the Capitol.
Mindful of the lavish concert staged on the Mall in 2000 1999, organizers downplayed entertainment figures in favor of an eclectic mix of activists, many of them new to the gay rights movement in the furor following the passage of Proposition 8.
The co-director of the march, Robin McGehee, wasn't even known much beyond Fresno before the election last year. Reflecting the relative lack of resources (there was a $250,000 budget), she even gave a shout out to her parents during her speech as they were unable to afford to make the trip.
Despite the simple nature of the event, that didn't mean that it was show biz free, and some of the most eloquent words came from Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Milk," as well as Cynthia Nixon, who said, "It is time for us to make the president move beyond words....The right sentiment just isn't enough anymore." And the cast of "Hair" singing the song "Let the Sunshine In," near the event's coda, seemed especially fitting.
David Mixner, the author and activist who first suggested the idea for the march on his blog in May, was particularly adept in linking the host of concerns under the umbrella of equality for all. It's counterintuitive to stage a national event of this size with no snappy one liner. But perhaps that is just the point, especially if the goal is to create groups of activists organically in all 435 congressional districts.
It's never easy to measure the ultimate impact of an event like this. Perhaps it will be at the ballot box: Next month, voters in Maine and Washington state will decide whether to restrict same-sex relationships. Or it will be in the actions of Obama, who in so forcefully promising that he would end Don't Ask, Don't Tell may have spared himself stronger words of criticism at the rally but also has only increased the pressure on his administration to do something soon.
The success also may be in the ability to create a sense of momentum in an off-year and during a dire economy. That in and of itself is no easy task, and certainly would be enough to counter criticism that the whole event was a waste of time.
When “Milk” was released last November, activists still stinging by the passage of Proposition 8 that month were wistful of the energy of the gay movement and its leader, Harvey Milk.
Almost a year later, no singular figure like Milk has emerged, but the film itself has an influence in the National Equality March on Oct. 11.
The co-chair of the march is Cleve Jones, the AIDS and LGBT activist, whose portrayal in “Milk” by Emile Hirsch has given him new level of prominence. Along with Jones, the film’s screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, is on the bill to speak at a rally on the U.S. Capitol’s west lawn after the march. The film’s producer, Bruce Cohen, helped lined up a list of stars and other notables to endorse and publicize the event, and plans to attend along with his fellow producer of “Milk,” Dan Jinks.
But the march comes with doubts and uncertainty as to just how many people will show up and the strength of the organizing effort, as well as the wisdom of staging such an event with the dire economy and when resources are needed for a campaign to push back a Maine ballot measure to restrict same-sex marriage and another in Washington state to repeal domestic partnership rights.
Established gay rights organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force endorsed the event only in the past couple of months, and have not been central in its original planning. Some popular gay bloggers were initially very skeptical, and some charged that it was a way for Jones to capitalize on the profile boost he got from the movie.
The march’s goal is all encompassing — “equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states” — and activists are expected to push for a plethora of issues, from a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to same-sex marriage rights.
But when civil rights activist and political strategist David Mixner first called for a march on his blog last May, one of the triggers was impatience that the Obama administration hadn’t taken greater action. “I adore President Obama, but not enough to allow his team to delay my freedom for political convenience or comfort,” Mixner wrote. “It is unacceptable.”
That was followed by Jones’ announcement of plans to stage the march at a rally in Fresno after the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8.
Mixner defends the march’s timing.
Citing the civil rights march of 1963, at a time when African Americans were fighting many different strands of racial injustice, he says, “We are not the first group to be asked to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
“What is important is that it is happening and that we can handle more than one thing at a time,” he says.
And he also pushed aside notions that the march was “the Cleve show” — or even the “Mixner show.”
Mixner says of Jones, “He was new on the national scene again, and people sometimes aren’t comfortable when they are directly challenged to do more.”
In an interview with blogger Bil Browning, Jones said that he was initially resistant to the idea until Mixner mentioned that he and another gay activist, Torie Osborn, organize it.
The budget for the event is about $250,000, a fraction of the cost of previous gay rights marches. Organizers don’t have estimates of how many will show.
Robin McGehee, co-director of the march, says that some established organizations had originally been reluctant to sign on, “and in my opinion it could have been stronger.”
“When you don’t have the power, infrastructure and resources to fight back, you really are at the mercy of a viral grassroots effort,” she says.
Although Jones has been crucial in promoting the march, McGehee noted that some 105 people are on the steering committee, and one of the goals is to mobilize activists for further efforts.In that respect, she says, “the movie was exactly what our movement needed to give hope again to a new generation of people, who didn’t know him or had to be reminded again. It breathes life into a dream that we thought we lost on November 5.”
That's my latest column in the print edition of Variety, on newsstands Sunday, but you can read it here.
WireImage photo: Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown.
The result, according to the Washington Post's Roxane Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, is that Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) will back the bill, and McCain even gave her a 30-minute tour of the Capitol.
Something tells me Jon Hamm's advocacy of healthcare reform and the public option wouldn't go quite so smoothly were he to go to the Hill.
Thomas Reese, the famed Jesuit priest and scholar, compares Roman Polanski's plight to that of priests in the Catholic Church.
"Imagine if the Knight of Columbus decided to give an award to a pedophile priest who had fled the country to avoid prison. The outcry would be universal. Victim groups would demand the award be withdrawn and that the organization apologize. Religion reporters would be on the case with the encouragement of their editors. Editorial writers and columnist would denounce the knights as another example of the insensitivity of the Catholic Church to sexual abuse.
"And they would all be correct. And I would join them.
"But why is there not similar outrage directed at the film industry for giving an award to Roman Polanski, who not only confessed to statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl but fled the country prior to sentencing? Why have film critics and the rest of the media ignored this case for 31 years? He even received an Academy award in 2003. Are the high priests of the entertainment industry immune to criticism?"
Reese's post inspired a lot of spirited reaction, as you can see from the comments section.
Harvey Weinstein, directors and actors and others have called for Polanski's release. The Los Angeles Times' Patrick Goldstein outlines a compelling argument --- the timing, the possible judicial misconduct of the past, the use of scarce resources, his victim's forgiveness --- of why he has already paid his price. But a Goldstein points out, in the blogosphere and in many political circles, it's hard to see the campaign to free Polanski as being characterized as anything other than a double standard for Hollywood excess.
Also: Britain's the Guardian reports on rumors that Polanski is being used as a "sacrificial lamb" by the Swiss to appease the U.S. as its investigates tax evasion involving UBS.
That, and other news, in today's Roundup and Recap.
On "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" last night, Stewart featured a segment on the flap over the National Endowment for the Arts participating in a conference call to promote President Obama's service initiative. Rather than go into the details of the call, Stewart cites the absurdity that government-funded, paper mache artwork could influence policy debate.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
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Ben Davis at ArtNet defends Yosi Sergant, writing, "Let me tell you something: If I were going to pick an organization from which to launch a massive conspiracy to control people’s minds, it would not be the NEA, which is these days a feeble shadow of its original, Great Society-era self (its critics, including Courrielche, don’t seem to be aware that the NEA does not fund artists, only organizations -- individual artist grants were a casualty of the last culture wars)."
Moore in DC: Michael Moore has taken "Capitalism: A Love Story" to Washington, but his target is not Republicans but Blue Dog Democrats.
A New Brew: A new Starbucks ad takes on town hall protesters.
Not for Obama: Andy Williams doesn't like President Obama, and fears he's turning the country socialist. As best as I can tell, Obama still has Tony Bennett.
Don't Drop Her: Tom DeLay nearly drops Cheryl Burke on their latest "Dancing with the Stars" appearance. But Politico experts give him higher marks than last week's bum-shaking debut. On Twitter, DeLay calls his appearance a "disaster."
The French are appealing to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following the arrest of Roman Polanski in Switzerland with the possibility of extradition to the United States.
Polanski has been a fugitive since 1978, when he fled the U.S. after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl the year before.
The French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, sent a letter to Clinton following the arrest, presumably to demand his release. But State Department spokesman Philip Crowley was reluctant to step into the fray, telling reporters during the daily briefing today, "For the most part, I’ll defer to the – to California authorities and to the Department of Justice regarding this legal process.
"I mean, there will be a period of time, I think two months, for the state of California to make a formal extradition request. The role of the Department of State will simply be to review that request to make sure it meets the sufficiency in terms of our extradition treaty with Switzerland."
A group of 100 filmmakers, actors and other creative types have signed a petition demanding Polanski's release, and cite a recent event at the U.S. Embassy in France that was hosted by the new ambassador, Charles Rivkin, formerly the head of Wild Brain Media and the Muppets.
The group write, "On September 16th, 2009, Mr. Charles Rivkin, the US Ambassador to France, received French artists and intellectuals at the embassy. He presented to them the new Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the embassy, Ms Judith Baroody. In perfect French she lauded the Franco-American friendship and recommended the development of cultural relations between our two countries.
"If only in the name of this friendship between our two countries, we demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski."
The New York Times columnist, Nixon speechwriter and legendary wordsmith died today at age 79.
Among other things, he coined the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativism," the term Spiro Agnew used in blasting the media. In 1959, as a public relations executive, he steered Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev into a Moscow exhibit of the American kitchen where they had their famous "kitchen debate."
Safire won the Pulitizer Prize for columns on then President Jimmy Carter's budget director, Bert Lance, who was forced to resign because of shady business dealings.
It's not the social secretary or Kal Penn, but Victoria Espinel. She's Obama's nominee as "intellectual property czar," a position created by law last year to give piracy and copyright issues greater play in the White House.
The long-in-the-works appointment has drawn praise from media conglomerates, industry lobbyists and labor unions.
That, and other news, in today's Roundup and Recap.
It's been light posting, as I am still a bit under the weather...
Old Glory: Chuck Norris calls on tea partiers to stop using the American flag.
Maine Marriage: Opponents of gay marriage in Maine have come up with a money-saving way to defeat that state's acceptance of same sex nuptials: They're running the same ad that was run against Prop 8 last year.
Fritz Is It: A new documentary on former Vice President Walter Mondale debuts in Washington.
Book Party: Also this evening in Washington is a book party for "Hollywood on the Potomac." The author and publisher have been kind enough to send along this book, and I will do a longer post once it frees up here. But the photos are a fascinating glimpse into the D.C.-Hollywood worlds.
Chance Meeting: One man tells of his encounter with Spike Lee and President Obama in Martha's Vineyard.
And: Tom DeLay makes it through the first week of "Dancing with the Stars."
We'll see how this pans out, but Jay Leno's new Ten@Ten segment got off to an amusing start last night with first had an amusing guest in Barney Frank. (Mel Gibson had the honors last week.)
A follow to my earlier post:
Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, issued a lengthy statement this afternoon in which he distances himself from the much disputed conference call with United We Serve, the NEA's communications chief, Yosi Sergant, and other arts and service organizations.
Landesman, in fact, says he arrived at the NEA the day after the conference call.
He writes to the Huffington Post, "This call was not a means to promote any legislative agenda and any suggestions to that end are simply false. Rather, the call was to inform members of the arts community of an opportunity to become involved in volunteerism."
"The former NEA Director of Communications acted unilaterally and without the approval or authorization of then-Acting Chairman Patrice Walker Powell."
"Some of the language used by the former NEA Director of Communications was, unfortunately, not appropriate and did not reflect the position of the NEA. This employee has been relieved of his duties as director of communications."
His full letter is here.
One note about the arts community: It's not the only reason, but a reason, that this story has resonance on the right is it fits into the larger narrative about Obama that extends back to summer of 2008, when the McCain campaign introduced his famous "celebrity" ad. Industry conservatives see the devotion to Obama by his entertainment industry supporters as a little odd, they call him The One, as if they were following in the footsteps of a messiah and not a Chicago pol. The more extreme view is that it's an effort to indoctrinate kids --- which is kind of a common refrain these days. That's probably why the United We Serve campaign --- a general message to get people involved in their community --- instead appears like a celebrity led effort to once again unite behind Obama. They also argue that the furor would be just as great or greater had it happened during the Bush years at the NEA. (I have a feeling there's plenty of searching going on for parallel examples). Update: They are here and here.
The net result is that the NEA will probably be very, very careful in handing out grants, to ensure guard against the perception that grantees are getting their funding because of some kind of political agenda.
Obama, by the way, will be appearing with President George H.W. Bush on Oct. 16 to promote service at the Bush Library: The president for United We Serve, the former president for the Points of Light Foundation. So it will be interesting to see the reaction from Limbaugh, et. al. at this bipartisan meeting.
Update: The Edge of the American West blog coins a new verb: "beck v. trans. beck-ing, beck-ed, to be baselessly attacked by an idiot with a megaphone, then have those accusations alter your life for the worse because it’s politically expedient for your spineless superiors to demote or fire you."
That, and other news, in today's Roundup and Recap.
After Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood posted a audio recording of last month's conference call with the National Endowment for the Arts and groups pushing President Obama's United We Serve initiative, the White House has issued new guidelines on to prevent such a mix of politics and policy from happening again.
ABC News quotes White House spokesman Bill Burton: "To the extent there was any misunderstanding about what the NEA may do to support the national service initiative, we will correct it. We regret any comments on the call that may have been misunderstood or troubled other participants. We are fully committed to the NEA's historic mission, and we will take all steps necessary to ensure that there is no further cause for questions or concerns about that commitment."
The communications director of the NEA, Yosi Sergant, was reassigned after the call. Artists groups complained that statements he made made them feel uncomfortable that the call was an effort to push the president's agenda on healthcare, education and the environment, and a good government group also said that the remarks were "inappropriate." But the group says that it was not illegal, as it was not explicit politicking as was done during the election.
The danger, obviously, is connecting the politics of artists to the awarding of grants --- or even the perception of it.
What it has done is made some of Obama's enthusiastic supporters during the election much more cautious about what they say and where they say it. Michael Skolnick, political director for Russell Simmons, said on the call: "I’m hoping that through this group, and the goal of all this, and the goal of this phone call, is through this group we can create a stronger community amongst ourselves to get involved in things we’re passionate about as we did during the campaign. But to continue to get involved in those things, to support some of the president’s initiatives, but also to do things that we are passionate about and to push the president and push his administration."
The call was recorded by Los Angeles filmmaker Patrick Couriellech, who used to work with Sergant at their Los Angeles-based publicity firm.
Before he came to Washington, Sergant was heavily involved in campaigning for Obama, although he often made a point of saying that it was not connected to the official campaign. After the election and before he came to Washington, he was anxious to continue to engage artists, again from the outside, on issues of education, health care and the environment.
The whole affair has Glenn Beck, et. al., pushing the whole story as some kind of plot, and they are scouring the connections of everyone and anyone what was on the call.
Yet what I have seen is more a case of naivety than something nefarious, and some of the best safeguards come with the fact that the NEA is overseen by a council made up with a majority of Bush appointees. Some are scouring the conference call participants for their connections to Obama. The NEA chairman, Rocco Landesman, realizes that this is not a battle he wants to wage, as his desire is to get more funding rather than defend the very intentions of the organization itself.
Nevertheless, it is hard to argue the merit of having more safeguards in place, particularly when it comes to freedom of expression.
React to DeLay: Politico sizes up Tom DeLay's dance moves with a handful of expert judges/editors. Anne Schroeder Mullins writes, "When it comes to personality and charm, Tom DeLay hit it out of the park. After all, he loves to shake his tush. (A little too much perhaps.) And who needs dance moves? The Hammer stormed the dance floor and won over an unsuspecting crowd while he enthusiastically air-guitared and lip-synced "Wild Thing." Even Cheryl Burke said her partner is "charming." Tom DeLay gets an A."
For Corzine: Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito will hold a fund-raiser for Jon Corzine, in an uphill battle for reelection in New Jersey. The event, next Tuesday, also will feature Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
"Outrage" Pickup: HBO will show Kirby Dick's documentary "Outrage," which discloses closeted D.C. politicos who advocate against LGBT issues. It will debut on Oct. 5.
Actually, Will Ferrell is pushing for the public option in a new Funny or Die! video that spoofs issue ads and at the same time riffs on the ridiculousness of protecting the insurance industry.
Also featured in the 2 1/2 minute spot, "Something Terrible is Happening!, is Jon Hamm of "Mad Men," along with Donald Faison, Linda Cardellini and Olivia Wilde. It was produced in conjunction with MoveOn.org.
Up to now, the engagement of entertainment figures in the nitty gritty of the healthcare debate has been relatively scant, so we'll see whether this approach --- humor --- has any impact.
When Tom DeLay shook his butt one last time for the judges on "Dancing with the Stars," my first thought was, this is just still so strange. Host Tom Bergeron even said it was something "I am not sure I would see."
But in the smile and the moves and the outfits, DeLay may have done more to change his image than a grand jury handing down an indictment. They question is just what the image is.
Actually, you couldn't help but like the guy for sheer dancemanship. Only once did he worry about the embarrassment. Otherwise, he fretted over being able to get in touch with "his feminine side."
In his outfit of brown slacks and rhinestone lined vest, DeLay actually as quite controlled in his moves during his initial cha cha cha with partner Cheryl Burke. Without incident as the song "Wild Thing" played, he slid to the floor on his knees --- surely his most skillful move.
"You are crazier than Sarah Palin!" judge Bruno Tonioli told him afterward.
"That was surreal," said judge Carrie Ann Inaba.
"Some parts were magic, some parts were tragic," said judge Len Goodman.
Their score: 16 out of 30. Not great. But not terrible. He and Burke may very well be back.
“I got bigger critics than those judges,” DeLay quipped.
DeLay was shakier in a ballroom relay dance with Burke, and they ranked fourth out of all four pairings.
DeLay insists his motives are purely to win --- and have fun. Nevertheless, one Democratic org used the occasion to remind voters of DeLay's record as the Hammer. A good government group held a screening part in D.C. tonight. And some of DeLay's former GOP colleagues are still scratching their heads.
reports that he's got an irreverent answer to the question of whether healthcare protests are motivated by race.
"First of all, I think it's important to realize that I was actually black before the election," Obama said.
Responded Letterman: "How long have you been a black man?"
Obama said of the state of discourse: "One of the things that you sign up for in politics is that folks yell at you," he said. He noted that "whenever a president tries to bring about significant changes, particularly during times of economic unease, there is a certain segment of the population that gets very riled up."
Obama also talked more seriously about Afghanistan, with the top commander warning that the war would be lost without more troops. Obama said that he is going to be asking some very hard questions" in making a decision what to do next.
“The most important duty I’ve got is before I send some young man and woman in uniform over there and I’m answerable to their parents that if they don’t come back I’ve got to write a letter to them saying that their child has sacrificed on behalf of America—before I make those decisions I’ve got to make sure that the policy in place is worthy of their sacrifice,” Obama said. “That’s something that we are going to work through systematically in the coming weeks and months. We’re not going to make a decision about any further troop deployments until we know what exactly is our strategy….I’m going to be asking some very hard questions.”
Letterman also did a Top Ten List, the top ten reasons Obama agreed to go on his show.
That, and other news, in today's Roundup and Recap.
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said this morning that the FCC must be a "smart cop on the beat preserving a free and open Internet," arguing for new rules to guarantee Internet openness unhindered by the restrictions placed on it by Internet service providers.
This is bound to get very wonky, but what it comes down to is the FCC getting more aggressive when cable and phone companies slow speeds or even block some web traffic. Genachowski suggested that it was a free speech issue.
In a speech at the Brookings Institution this morning, Genachowski said, per B&C's John Eggerton, "Notwithstanding its unparalleled record of success, today the free and open Internet faces emerging and substantial challenges. We've already seen some clear examples of deviations from the Internet's historic openness. We have witnessed certain broadband providers unilaterally block access to VoIP applications (phone calls delivered over data networks) and implement technical measures that degrade the performance of peer-to-peer software distributing lawful content. We have even seen at least one service provider deny users access to political content. And as many members of the Internet community and key Congressional leaders have noted, there are compelling reasons to be concerned about the future of openness."
In a speech in Troy, N.Y., President Obama praised Genachowski's remarks.
Obama said, "One key to strengthening education, entrepreneurship, and innovation in communities like Troy is to harness the full power of the internet. That means faster and more widely available broadband– as well as rules to ensure that we preserve the fairness and openness that led to the flourishing of the internet in the first place. Today, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is announcing a set of principles to preserve an open internet in which all Americans can participate and benefit. I am pleased that he is taking this step. It is an important reminder that the role of government is to provide investment that spurs innovation and common-sense ground rules to ensure that there is a level playing field for all comers who seek to contribute their innovations."
Letterman to the Left: The New York Times' Bill Carter chronicles David Letterman's move toward political humor, what with tonight's visit of President Obama to his show and Tuesday's guest, Bill Clinton.
Obama Overexposed: The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz asks whether Obama's visit to Letterman, as well as his blitz of Sunday morning talk, is overexposing his brand. White House communications director Anita Dunn explained the strategy: "In an increasingly fragmented audience that gets information from a number of different sources, putting a huge amount of his time behind one medium increases our ability to really break through and get a message out. The effect of one interview, given how rapidly the news environment moves, doesn't last as long as it used to." But Kurtz wonders whether it's having the desired effect, given that his appearance on the Sunday public affairs shows failed to produce much in the way of news.
Dave Matthews on Race: In an interview with CNN, Dave Matthews says there is "racism everywhere" in America, and agrees with Jimmy Carter that Rep. Joe Wilson's heckling of President Obama was about race.
"Of course it is! I found there's a fairly blatant racism in America that's already there, and I don't think I noticed it when I lived here as a kid. But when I went back to South Africa, and then it's sort of thrust in your face, and then came back here -- I just see it everywhere. There's a good population of people in this country that are terrified of the president only because he's black, even if they don't say it. And I think a lot of them, behind closed doors, do say it.
"Maybe I'm paranoid about it, but I don't think someone who disagreed as strongly as they do with Obama -- if it was Clinton -- would have stood up and screamed at him during his speech. (Shakes his head) I don't think so."
That, and other news, in today's Roundup and Recap.
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez took on Fox News after the network ran an ad in the Washington Post today with a picture of last weekend's 9/12 protests on Capitol Hill and the headline, "How did ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN miss this story."
In fact, the broadcast news networks and CNN did cover the event, but Sanchez is by far the most vocal, taking on a tone of indignation at the CNN competitor.
In a tone that had shades of Olbermann, "I am not going to sit here in silence and allow my craft and my news operation to be unfairly maligned, because enough is enough. And yes, I am talking about you Fox News, you who claim to be fair and balanced. At what, I wonder?"
Sanchez then went into a five minute account of CNN's coverage last Saturday, even suggesting that a photo that Fox used in the ad came from a CNN camera. And he ran a tape of Bill O'Reilly doing one of his "Reality Check" segments where he complained about CNN's coverage.
"Here's the thing, we did cover the event," Sanchez says, "What we didn't do is promote the event."
He concluded, "Let me address the Fox News network now perhaps the most current way that I can, by quoting somebody who recently used a very pithy phrase --- two words. It's all I need --- you lie."
Sanchez was not the only news org figure making a public camplaint. ABC News' White House correspondent wrote on Twitter that Fox News' contention was "demonstrably untrue."
In a statement, Michael Tammero, vice president of marketing for Fox News, did not address Sanchez directly but the ad itself. He said, “Generally speaking, it’s fair to say that from the tea party movement…to Acorn…to the march on 9/12, the networks either ignored the story, marginalized it or misrepresented the significance of it altogether.”
Few other recent events seem to have stirred such a challenge over basic facts, starting with the original contention that the event drew up to 2 million, quickly challenged and even corrected to a fraction of that. (Media Matters for America is taking issue with Time's Glenn Beck profile for that very thing).
Meanwhile, Bill Maher offers his own theory on why the protest figures were subject to such wild estimates --- something that won't endear him to those in the movement. He writes, "News flash, Glenn Beck fans: the reason health care is so expensive is because you're all so unhealthy. Yes, it was fun this week to watch the teabaggers complain how the media underestimated the size of their march, "How can you say there were only 60,000 of us? We filled the entire mall!" Yes, because you're fat. One whale fills the tank at Sea World, that doesn't make it a crowd." In all seriousness, he says that not enough is being done in preventative care. We'll see if Beck responds.
Mudd's Memory: Roger Mudd has a very different take on his 1979 interview with Ted Kennedy than the late Massachusetts senator describes in his jest released memoir.
Shark Tale: "Mad Men" star January Jones will trek to D.C. later this month as the new spokeswoman for Oceana and its campaign to save sharks.
Lobbed at Dobbs: A leading Hispanic organization is calling on CNN to do something about Lou Dobbs, arguing that the anchor/commentators has been offensive to the Latino community.
Former Oregon Senator Gordon Smith will be the new head of the National Assn. of Broadcasters, the industry's chief lobbying group in Washington.
From B&C's John Eggerton: "Smith is described as a moderate Republican who also has good relationships with Democrats. He is a former member of the Senate Commerce and Finance Committees and knows all the broadcast issues. He is also tapped into new media issues as former chair of the Senate's high-tech task force.
"Jack Sander, former NAB joint board chairman, had told B&C following Rehr's resignation that the board would be looking for someone who could hit the ground running. Smith can do that, and has "the Wow! factor," which NAB was also looking for, said one source.
"Rehr had been a beer industry executive before joining the association, and conceded to B&C that he had felt like an outsider at the outset of his tenure.
""I think we are going to look for someone who either understands our business or has the ability to understand our businesses very, very fast," Sander told B&C in May. "We do not have time to have a six-month or eight-month learning curve about our business." "
MusicFIRST, the coalition of artists and record labels that has been fighting the NAB on the performance rights act (payment for performers when their songs are played on the radio), is "welcoming" the choice of Smith, who is a former moderate Republican defeated in his bid for reelection last year. They are using the opportunity to call out his past support of "artists and creators,' although it's hard to see the NAB suddenly reversing course given the strident way they have fought the proposed legislation.
Music FIRST's Jennifer Bendall said in a statement: "MusicFIRST congratulates former Senator Gordon Smith for being named the new head of the National Association of Broadcasters. During his years in the Senate he was a champion of the rights of artists and creators. We extend not only our congratulations but our invitation to Senator Smith to work with the music community to create a radio performance right that is fair to artists and musicians, fair to other music platforms and fair to radio."
That, and other news, in today's Roundup and Recap.
Some quick items this morning...
Time has put Glenn Beck on its cover, in a cover story with the headline: "Mad Man: Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?"
David Von Drehle writes, "Glenn Beck: the pudgy, buzz-cut, weeping phenomenon of radio, TV and books. Our hot summer of political combat is turning toward an autumn of showdowns over some of the biggest public-policy initiatives in decades. The creamy notions of postpartisan cooperation — poured abundantly over Obama's presidential campaign a year ago — have curdled into suspicion and feelings of helplessness. Trust is a toxic asset, sitting valueless on the national books. Good faith is trading at pennies on the dollar. The old American mind-set that Richard Hofstadter famously called "the paranoid style" — the sense that Masons or the railroads or the Pope or the guys in black helicopters are in league to destroy the country — is aflame again, fanned from both right and left. Between the liberal fantasies about Brownshirts at town halls and the conservative concoctions of brainwashed children goose-stepping to school, you'd think the Palm in Washington had been replaced with a Munich beer hall."
Pelosi's Warning: Fearing the caustic state of discourse (without mentioning Beck by name), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi teared up this morning as she recalled the murder of Harvey Milk. She was referring to the rheotirc that "created a climate" that led to violence.
"And so I wish that we would all, again, curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made, understanding that — that some of the people — the ears it is falling on are not as balanced as the person making the statement might assume,” Pelosi said..
On Tap: George Stevens Jr. and Margo Lion will co-chair the President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities. They co-chaired Barack Obama's arts policy committee during the campaign.
Mary Travers: Fritz Hollings invokes Peter, Paul & Mary's "When Will They Ever Learn?" in an essay on Afghanistan.
Newsom Nod: Former California state senator Sheila Kuehl has endorsed Gavin Newson's bid for governor.
The Democratic National Committee takes on Glenn Beck --- by name --- in a pushback against the Fox News hosts' obsession with President Obama's czars. (The new "Dancing with the Stars," with contestant Tom DeLay, premieres on Monday).
The female singer in Peter, Paul & Mary died today at age 72.
The group was a fixture in the Vietnam war protests and civil rights movements of the 1960s, and continued their political activism at reunion fund-raisers in the decades that followed. They also sang at the March on Washington in 1963 and participated in the Selma to Montgomery voting rights march in 1965.
Peter Yarrow said: "Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of my relationship with Mary Travers over the last, almost, 50 years, is how open and honest we were with each other, and I include Noel Paul Stookey in this equation. Such honesty comes with a price, but when you get past the hurt and shock of realizing that you're faulted and frequently wrong, you also realize that you are really loved and respected for who you are, and you become a better person."
We talk about the impact of Michael Moore's upcoming "Capitalism: A Love Story," the savviness (or lack of it) in President Obama's media blitz and the lack of rules when it comes to discourse in the popular culture.
That's on our latest edition of Wilshire & Washington on the Radio, which you can listen to here.
Paul Simon returned to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to push for healthcare reform, this time to argue for the needs of children in the debate.
With him were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
Simon appeared at an event on the west Capitol lawn along with Dr. Irwin Redlener. The two are founders of the Children's Health Fund, which provides healthcare for poor children. The org has pushed for passage of the expansion of the S-CHIP and supports universal healthcare for children.
Simon said, per the AP, "Poor kids can't vote. Neither can they afford to hire lobbyists to plead their cause or to describe their situation."
Although entertainment figures have been ubiquitous this year in Washington, few stars have lobbied on Capitol Hill as the healthcare debate gets ever more heated, due to the complexity of the issue and the controversy swirling around it.
“We think in politics we are in the field of attraction, that we are trying to attract people to what we say,” Pelosi said, per the New York Times. “Well, sometimes that happens, but our message is greatly amplified by someone in another field who’s devoted their life to this cause.”
That, and other news, in today's Roundup and Recap.
Linda McMahon, CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, is running for Sen. Chris Dodd's seat in Connecticut. “I have spent the past 30 years growing what began as a 13-employee small business into a publicly traded, global entertainment company that now provides over 500 jobs here in Connecticut,” McMahon said in a statement. "I understand what it takes to balance a budget, create jobs and grow the economy." She'll seek the Republican nomination next year. McMahon is married to Vince McMahon, majority owner of the company. Update: A look at her campaign contributions makes you wonder if she is in the right party.
Michael Moore takes his "Capitalism" publicity blitz to San Francisco, where he'll host a free lunch for local bankers on Thursday. Moore still supports Obama, even as his film offers some criticism for hiring Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers and taking Wall Street money. "I have the feeling [Obama's] faking right to go left. Let's hope I'm right."
Dennis Kucinich channels Roy Rogers, his horse Trigger and the healthcare "trigger."
Natalie Portman, Jerry Seinfeld, Sasha Baron Cohen sign a Jewish Federation ad that ran in Toronto, a counter protest to another celebrity filled group that criticized the event's salute to Tel Aviv.
Sonia Sotomayor dances at a charity gala with Esai Morales.
Just minutes after the Los Angeles premiere screening of Michael Moore's "Capitalism, A Love Story" ended, the filmmaker posted this message to his Twitter feed: "The packed house gets up to grab their torches and pitchforks..."
He was joking --- the audience actually bolted down to the post-screening buffet lines --- but it's not hard to see why he would think that way.
His latest movie tries to tap into populist outrage from the left, at a time when that anger has been channeled much more visibly by the right. The outrage that we have seen, the town halls and the tea parties and the birthers, have been over the fear of big government, not that there won't be a safety net. "They are very good at it," he told me, adding that conservatives' ability to "own the bailout" is for "entirely different reasons from me." It is also one of the reasons he was so anxious to get his movie out.
"Capitalism" is like a sequel to "Roger & Me" in that Moore's message is that what happened in Flint, Michigan, twenty years ago is now happening across the country: Companies shutting down plants, scaling back wages and laying off workers, all in the name of higher profits. But this movie has a much larger scope, taking on the notion that capitalism was never enshrined in the Constitution, but was sold to us as the best possible system. In making his point he turns not just to workers who've been left behind, but to Catholic priests and bishops, who preach of capitalism as no less than evil.
There's ample fodder: Wal-Mart collects life insurance policies on their workers, making a nice return when they die young; Continental, United and other airline pilots make so little they are forced to take another job and, in one case, collect food stamps; Citigroup draws up a memo for select investors, proclaiming a world "plutonomy" that can be foiled by that pesky thing called the right to vote.
Republicans, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush all take their lumps, which is to be expected, but so do House and Senate Democrats and even President Obama, as Moore treats his election as a turning point yet notes Goldman Sachs and Wall Street showered him with contributions, resulting in Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner. Special mention is reserved for Chris Dodd, who is hammered for accepting VIP treatment from Countrywide in the form of better terms on home interest rates, reaping $1,175,133.
On the other hand, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) is treated as a hero for speaking out against the bailout bill, and footage is shown of her impassioned plea, before it passed Congress. "This was almost like an intelligence operation," she says of the timing of the bailout so close to the 2008 election.
The biggest targets are Wall Street firms, as Moore resorts to trying to make a citizen's arrest of AIG executives and wrapping crime scene tape around the New York Stock Exchange. In remarks to the audience afterward, Moore said that the police were called as he posted the yellow tape around the wrought iron of the exchange, and he feared he'd be run out before they had enough footage. But the first officer told him to take his time. "It's OK Mike, these guys lost a billion dollars of our pension fund. Take as long as you like," the officer told him.
Moore drew roaring applause and several standing ovations at the premiere --- except for a man who sat behind me. He was not a fan of Moore's, and even mumbled "commie pig" as the filmmaker took to the stage. He chuckled at scenes of Obama's election, and clapped at the appearance of Ronald Reagan, depicted as kitschy as ever (with footage supplied, amazingly enough, by the Reagan Library). But the man stayed quiet when the scenes focused on the average Joes, watching the banks take their homes away.
"There's got to be some kind of rebellion between people who've got nothing and people who've got it all," one older man says as he loses his Peoria farm house.
Moore's most compelling "get" also acts as a rallying point to counter the right's ability to stir populist emotion. It is footage, long thought lost until Moore's production staff found it, of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 presenting what he called the "Second Bill of Rights," guaranteeing economic security via jobs with a living wage, medical care and a home. Roosevelt said: "Unless there is security here at home, there cannot be lasting peace in the world." It's a well-timed, stirring moment, and as "Capitalism" is released Moore no doubt will be one of the message's most formidable champions.
TMZ has the tape of President Obama calling Kanye West a "jackass."
Obama was doing an interview with CNBC on Monday when he made the remark. ABC's Terry Moran apparently picked it up from a live pool feed and then sent the comment out on Twitter.
If you've ever listened to long excerpts of the expletive-filled Nixon tapes, it's no big deal. But it's a rather rare bit of Obama off the cuff, which he as much as acknowledges when he talks about the trouble he got in with PETA for swatting a fly during a break in another interview. (Did they really complain?)
Politico's Michael Calderone interviewed CNBC's John Harwood, who says he considers the material off the record.
What the audio also shows is that Obama is very, very in tune with pop culture, perhaps more so than any predecessor. He doesn't just talk about West but the incident itself, calling Taylor Swift "a nice young girl." Remember, since he came into office, he has made quips about "Gossip Girl," among other references.
Update: ABC News employees apparently were unaware that the material was off the record, and Harwood also says that that wasn't explicitly spelled out. Rather, it is a tradition during interviews that extraneous comments before and after the interview are considered off limits.
Tom DeLay sent out this Twitter message --- or warning --- about his upcoming "Dancing with the Stars" appearance:
"Old age is catching up to me, may have a stress fracture in my foot. no worries, it'll take more than thhat to keep me off the dance floor."
DeLay told E!Online's Marc Malkin last week that he'd been taking cortisone shots because of the pain from his dance shoes.
Meanwhile, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has set up a watch party for Delay's appearance on Monday. The org was a frequent critic of DeLay during his Washington tenure, and its executive director Melanie Sloan tells the Wall Street Journal that they are throwing the part to watch Delay's “continued downward spiral — or is that a pirouette?”
Update: DeLay tweets: "No stress fracture! It is a pre-stress fracture. I live for another day."
The U.S. Department of State and a number of partners launched the "Democracy Video Challenge" this morning, a competition in which anyone in the world can submit video shorts that complete the phrase "Democracy is..."
The contest is in its second year, and last year drew more than 900 videos from 95 countries, with winning entrants selected via global online voting on YouTube.
Winners --- selected from seven regions of the world --- will see their works screened in Hollywood, New York and Washington. Judith McHale, the former Discovery chief who is now under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, called it an "unprecedented opportunity" to "promote a discussion about the meaning of democracy for people around the world."
Partners in the project include the Motion Picture Assn. of America, NBC Universal, the Recording Industry Assn. of American and, of course, YouTube. The kickoff of the competition was held at the United Nations to honor International Democracy Day and was emceed by NBC's Richard Engel.
Here's one of last year's winners, from Rodan Hamidi of the United Arab Emirates.
President Obama will be the sole guest on CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman" on Monday, making his first visit to the show since taking office.
Obama appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in March, a first for a sitting president on a late night talk show.
Obama's guest stint is tied to an overall blitz to promote healthcare reform.
Like his appearance on Leno, Obama is trying to reach an audience that may not otherwise be watching late night TV. Letterman's audience probably skews center-left, and there's probably some preaching to the choir here. But Obama's efforts have been to shore up his liberal support and at the same time drive up his numbers among independents, and a great part of that has been to explain reform and refute rumors. So expect some humor tied to the whole idea of "death panels," with Letterman at the ready to riff on Sarah Palin and Obama playing along but trying his best not to mention her by name.
What's also apparent by this booking is that the White House is unconcerned by critics contention that Obama is being overexposed, which is a contention not too difficult to prove in a month where he also appears on the cover of Men's Health and is doing five Sunday morning talk shows.
That, and other news, in today's Roundup and Recap.
President Obama called Kanye West a "jackass" for seizing the microphone during the MTV Video Music Awards, but is it a big surprise?
His off-the-record remarks made during a CNBC interview, reported by ABC News' Terry Moran on a Twitter feed, weren't necessarily out of sync with Obama's view of rap and hip hop.
Obama has embraced artists like Jay Z and DMC, particularly during the campaign, but he's also been publicly wary of how such musical talents become role models. As recently as last week, he warned students that the pursuit of such fame shouldn't be the be all and end all. "I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality-TV star, when chances are, you're not going to be any of those things," he told students last week in his back-to-school speech.
West, who apologized on the debut of "The Jay Leno Show" last night, has been an Obama supporter, having performed at one of his inaugural events.
In his Twitter feed, which was later deleted, Moran wrote, "Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a 'jackass' for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT'S presidential." (ABC News later apologized for the posting, given its off the record nature). It may not be presidential form, but it reflects what many people have been thinking, and surely that can't hurt.
U2 at G20: Rumors are circulating that U2 will perform at the G-20 economic summit next week in Pittsburgh.
Somehow this all makes sense...
President Obama on Sunday will appear on five morning talk shows --- a feat that has come to be called the "Full Ginsburg" because it was first accomplished by Monica Lewinsky's lawyer, William Ginsburg, in 1998.
The difference this time is that Obama will not be going on "Fox News Sunday." Instead, he will appear on Univision's "Al Punto with Jorge Ramos." The president will make the rounds on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," CBS's "Face the Nation," NBC's "Meet the Press" and CNN's "State of the Nation."
Obama will be the first president to do the "Full Ginsburg," although perhaps it is not an official "Ginsburg" with the absence of Fox.
Vice President Joseph Biden implored Hollywood and Los Angeles donors on Saturday to boost Sen. Barbara Boxer's war chest, signaling a potentially contentious reelection race and difficult year for all Democrats facing the midterms.
Appearing at a fund-raiser at the historic Green Acres estate owned by Ron Burkle, Biden cited Boxer's support of the Obama administration's recovery and economic plan --- parts of which were not popular with liberals and populists in addition to the opposition from Republicans.
"You are sophisticated people, but it is counterintuitive to tell people in the midst of a gigantic deficit that you are going to spend another $787 billion, that you are going to give banks over a trillion dollars," Biden said. "Well, ladies and gentlemen, Barbara stepped up."
He also suggested Boxer's ability to speak to the party's progressive wing was a reason that she can inherit the legacy of late senator Ted Kennedy.
"It's like that old joke, only Nixon can go to China. Only Teddy Kennedy could broker a compromise by telling the left of the left we may have to give up something to get there because we can't go home empty handed," Biden said, holding a microphone as he paced by a pool among the donors, occasionally shaking hands. "Barbara Boxer, because of her status not just in California but around the country [as] being an unimpeachable liberal, was able to say on these tough votes, to her liberal colleagues, 'You got to do this,' and then give them a reason why."
He also said, "This is not 'Vote for Barbara' because she is a beautiful version of a 1960s and 70s progressive hippie person who is liberal love peace and brotherhood. This is one hard baked senator who knows what the hell she is talking about."
About $500,000 was raised at the event, organizers say. It was chaired by Sim and Debra Farar, Ruth Singer, Burkle and Mickey Meyers. Carole King, who had crutches after recently breaking her ankle, sang three songs, including "You've Got a Friend," before Boxer and Biden took the podium. Guests paid $1,000 each to attend the event, and those who contributed $5,000 were invited to attend a luncheon that included Magic Johnson and Derek Fisher. Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca and former California governor Gray Davis also attended.
Although Boxer sailed to easy reelection in 2004, she faces a potentially well-financed challenger in former Hewlett Packard chief Carly Fiorina, who is exploring a bid for the seat.
Fiorina is potentially formidable opposition because of name recognition and her ability to self-finance a race, something Biden alluded to in his 30-minute remarks.
"You have all been around long enough to know that Senate races are won and lost by this November, the November before," Biden said. "Barbara may face a self financer. Barbara may find herself in a position where it is going to get harder before it is going to get easy."
Democrats have been slipping in midterm polls, particularly in the debate over aspects of healthcare legislation and continued high unemployment. Biden suggested that significant Republican gains would stymie their agenda on energy, healthcare and education. noting that Democrats who remain in office or are reelected will get skittish and think, "'Whoa, I am not going there next time. I got a bite out of that apple. I am not taking a chance."
As of June 30, Boxer has raised $8.3 million for the race and has $5.4 million in cash on hand, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. California Assemblyman Chuck Devore (R-Irvine), who has announced he is seeking the seat, has raised $377,930 and has $75,663 on hand.
Biden also highlighted progress of the stimulus package, noting that $28 billion has flowed into California and that the state would reap a total of $60 billion.
"Whether it would have been a depression, it sure as hell would have looked like one had we not made this investment," he said. "And guess what: the eight largest banks in America have paid back the money they owe."
His nomination was sent to the Senate for approval.
Hayfield has been serving as culteral ambassador of the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana since 2003. He founded and became artistic director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and was appointed artistic director of Jazz at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis last year. Mayfield, whose father drowned in Hurricane Katrina, also performed at a benefit concert.
The council advises the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Rocco Landesman, on grant applications, funding guidelines and other policy. Members are appointed by the president and serve 6-year terms. The council includes 14 members appointed by the President, and 6 members of Congress who serve in a non-voting capacity for two year terms. Twelve of the council's members were appointed by President George W. Bush and their terms do not expire until 2010 or later.
Winner, Blog of the Year 2008, Southern California Journalism Awards.