John McLaughlin, TV Host Who Made Combat of Punditry, Dies at 89 [The New York Times] John McLaughlin, a former Roman Catholic priest who became an aide to Richard M. Nixon in the White House and parlayed his fierce defense of the president into a television career as host of “The McLaughlin Group,” the long-running Sunday morning program of combative political punditry, died on Tuesday at his home in Washington. He was 89. [more inside]
Robert Martens, whose homegrown animations (including adaptations of the Mars Attacks cards, Herbie Popnecker, Jack T. Chick and Struwwelpeter) have been featured here previously, has used his distinctive style of limited animation to create UFOLOGY 101 - Space Spooks and Looney Goons, a weird and charming satirical anthology animation about the history of UFOlogy. References include the celestial phenomenon over Nuremberg in 1561, the claims of George Adamski, and the better-known incidents involving Roswell and Jonestown.
"We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” - John Ehrlichman, a senior aide to Richard Nixon. [more inside]
“I understood that Nixon couldn't be frozen in the world of the tapes — he belonged ‘in the arena.’ And that made him a natural for Twitter.” Justin Sherin analyzes how and why he imitates Richard Nixon on Twitter as @dick_nixon.
Promoting his new book Brief Encounters, talkshow host Dick Cavett appears on CBC's Sunday Edition with Michael Enright. Cavett recounts to Michael Enright about a legendary on-air donnybrook between Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer in 1971 on his show, a frank discussion with Richard Burton about alcoholism, being singled out by Richard Nixon for revenge, and Dick Cavett's worst show.
"And on the Seventh Day, He gave a Barbecue." - Based on the 1969 book of the same name, The Begatting of The President is a parody Biblical retelling of the fall of Johnson and the rise of Nixon as narrated by Orson Welles. [Youtube playlist]
Harry Shearer reenacts the moments preceding Nixon's resignation speech as captured by a running television camera. If it seems weird and stylized, the actual footage seems even weirder. The reenactment is part of a television series, Nixon's the One, created by comedian Shearer and Nixon scholar Stanley Kutler. Andrea DenHoed writes about the TV show and the strange scene before the speech in The New Yorker.
Andrev Vltchek offers a different perspective on Cambodia's Khmer Rouge period There is actually only one thing that I want to know: how Communist was the Khmer Rouge, and was it the ideology, the Marxist ideology, that drew farmers to the ranks of the movement? San Reoung thinks for a while, then replies, weighing each word: “It was really not about the ideology… We did not know much about it. I was, for instance, very angry with the Americans. I became a soldier at the age of 17. And my friends were very angry, too. They joined Khmer Rouge to fight Americans, and especially the corruption of their puppet dictator Lon Nol, in Phnom Penh.”
What Really Happened in Chile '“A coup attempt will be initiated on 11 September,” the cable read. “All three branches of the armed forces and the carabineros [Chile’s national police] are involved in this action. A declaration will be read on Radio Agricultura at 7 a.m. on 11 September. . . . The carabineros have the responsibility for seizing President Salvador Allende.”' "That is how the U.S. government learned of the coup in Chile. This might be hard for many Americans, Chileans, and people elsewhere to believe, since it has become conventional wisdom, especially on the left, that Washington played a crucial role in the military-led overthrow of the democratically elected Allende, which resulted in the nearly 17-year authoritarian rule of General Augusto Pinochet." [more inside]
It has been said in half-jest that Pepsi was the official soda of the Cold War. Vice President Richard Nixon shared a Pepsi with Soviet Russia's Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, at the opening of the "American National Exhibition" in Moscow on July 24, 1959, after the famous "Kitchen Debate" (CBS newscast on Archive.org; transcript with two photos from the day). But how was it that Pepsi was the only Western soda-pop available there that day? Look to Donald Kendall, a long-time pal of Richard Nixon, who starting out in 1947 selling fountain syrup in New York, and rose through the ranks to be President of Pepsi Cola International by 1957. [more inside]
"Harry Shearer is best known for providing the voice of Mr Burns in The Simpsons and as Derek Smalls in spoof rock band Spinal Tap. His next role sees him take on former US president Richard Nixon in a series based on the disgraced politician behind closed doors... To borrow from Sir David's opening line - the following conversation was recorded by the BBC and these are the words actually spoken by Shearer and edited only for time." - The Beeb interviews Harry Shearer on his new role as Nixon.
"Untold History of the United States challenges the basic narrative of the U.S. history that most Americans have been taught.... [Such history] is consoling; it is comforting. But it only tells a small part of the story." Instead of clips of modern people pondering the past, Oliver Stone's ten-part series relies heavily on archival footage and clips from old Hollywood films, with narration by Stone. Towards the end, he gets into the assassination of JFK, "but that should not detract from a series that sets out to be a counterweight to the patriotic cheerleading and myth-making." [more inside]
A recent great pull from White House photographer Pete Souza shows Bush and Obama seeming to not just tolerate but actually enjoy each other's company. This is nothing new, however. Not only have Presidents always still been just as human as anyone else, but they occasionally cross the aisle to have close relationships that can be not only shocking, but endearing - including Barbara Bush referring to Bill Clinton as their "adopted son." Ridiculous conspiracy theories abound, but a simpler explanation may serve: that even the most partisan of politicans have more in common with each other than they would like us to believe - a common background, and often, common professions.
Warning! The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased, entry for the United States of America
"Kissinger and, to some degree, Bush have been what we call Pinocheted. This is a new verb in the lexicon of the human rights movement since Juan Garcés’s accomplishment in getting Pinochet arrested. They have faced the issue of, when they travel abroad, will they be subpoenaed and questioned for crimes that they supported or participated in or instigated?" -- On the fortieth anniversary of that other 9/11, Democracy Now talks about the role Nixon and Kissinger played in getting the 1973 Pinochet-led coup against the Chilean government off the ground, as part of its larger coverage of the coup and its effects.
"It would have been the Queen’s Speech to end them all. At midday on Friday 4 March 1983, the monarch was due to address the nation to announce that Britain was at war and – due to the “deadly power of abused technology” – a nuclear conflict was at hand." But it was only part of Wintex-Cimex 83, a large-scale annual NATO war game. This is just one example of speeches that were written in case of the worst, but never given. [more inside]
YOU ARE 29 YEARS OLD, AND IT'S YOUR FIRST YEAR ON THE JOB. ACCEPT WATERGATE ASSIGNMENT? [ YES / NO ]
Declassified tapes of President Lyndon Johnson's telephone calls provide a fresh insight into his world. Among the revelations - he planned a dramatic entry into the 1968 Democratic Convention to re-join the presidential race. And he caught Richard Nixon sabotaging the Vietnam peace talks... but said nothing.
Nixon's Enemies - Master List "This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration, Stated a bit more bluntly --how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies. " [more inside]
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward: 40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought. [more inside]
The Red Flag in the Flowerpot - "Four decades after Watergate, there’s something that still nags at Ben Bradlee about Deep Throat." [more inside]
"If we can get the playoff games, believe me, it would be the greatest achievement we've ever done." -- Richard Nixon. The 37th President loved him his football (and I mean, he really loved him his football), and a previously unreported tape recording revealed that Nixon attempted (and failed) to broker a change in the NFL blackout policy, which at the time specified that NFL games would not be broadcasted in their hometowns, regardless of a sellout, and this included playoff games. Why does it matter? Well, Nixon's deal would have screwed fans just so he could get a Redskins playoff game on TV. There are antitrust implications that are still being argued today. And the president still travels with a football.
Gawker's John Cook yesterday published an exclusive report on a trove of documents from the Nixon Presidential Library tracing the development of Fox News to a 1970 internal memo annotated by then-consultant Roger Ailes. Part of a 318-page cache of similar documents, the memo -- "A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News" -- called for the creation of a strongly pro-Nixon news outlet operated from the White House which would disseminate partisan news packages free of charge to local affiliates across the country. By coordinating release of these targeted reports with allied politicians and duping opponents into hostile interviews, Ailes hoped to bypass the "prejudices of network news" -- a desire which led him to advocate for some unexpected political policies at the time, from campaign finance reform to anti-poverty efforts. The report comes as Fox is waging an aggressive two-front PR war with perceived ideological enemies -- calling on viewers to file IRS complaints against Media Matters' tax-exempt status for their dogged fact-checking of the network, while on-air hosts launched a campaign to label Jon Stewart "racist" after he called out their record of falsehoods following a critical interview with Chris Wallace (previously).
The Nixon Presidential Library recently opened a new exhibit on Watergate. In previous years the museum's position was that the scandal was an attempt by Democrats to overturn the 1972 presidential election, but it is now taking an unforgiving look at the 37th president and the actions that led to his resignation.
"Virtually every Irish I’ve known gets mean when he drinks. Particularly the real Irish... The Italians, of course, those people course don’t have their heads screwed on tight. They are wonderful people, but,... The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality.” Dick Nixon, the taped gift that keeps giving, catalogs ethnic types. [more inside]
Daniel Schorr is dead at 93. Schorr began a career in journalism which spanned more than six decades at 12 years old, when he wrote a story for the Bronx Home News about a suicide. A woman had jumped from the roof of his building, he phoned the police and then wrote and article about the event, for which he was paid $5. After serving in military intelligence during World War II, he worked as a foreign correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times before joining CBS in 1953 as one of the legendary "Murrow Boys". [more inside]
We've had excerpts before, but this is the full performance. Nixon in China, with music by John Adams, libretto by Alice Goodman and choreography by Mark Morris. Directed by Peter Sellars, conducted by John DeMain, and presented by Walter Chronkite. Houston Grand Opera, 1987. Parts 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
He was... "...the meanest, toughest, most ambitious S.O.B. I ever knew but he'll be a hell of a secretary of state." -- Richard NixonAlexander Meigs Haig, Jr.,, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, who served US Presidents Nixon (as a military adviser, deputy assistant for national-security affairs, and chief of staff), Ford (chief of staff), and Reagan (secretary of state), has died at the age of 85. Haig commanded a batallion during the Vietnam War (where he was seriously wounded), managed the White House during the Watergate scandal that brought down President Nixon, and was himself a former Presidential candidate. [more inside]
Ann Nixon Cooper has died at the age of 107. She came to great recognition after being highlighted at the age of 106 after casting her vote in Atlanta for Barack Obama and then being mentioned in President Obama's victory speech regarding the changes she had seen in her lifetime. Here she is remembered by Karen Grisby Bates, who helped write Cooper's memoir, A Century and Some Change: My Life Before the President Called My Name, which will be released in January.
The man who provided Bob Woodward with the critical leads on the story that eventually saw the resignation of Tricky Dick Nixon has died: W. Mark Felt, aka. Deep Throat, was 95.The NYT has a little feature on why he was such a big deal. Only in 2005 did Felt finally admit to being Deep Throat in a Vanity Fair article. [more inside]
It's been a busy week for presidential libraries. The Nixon Library released 200 hours of tape (excerpts) and 90,000 pages of documents (excerpts) that detail his obsessive attempts to destroy his political enemies. The LBJ library released MP3s of dozens of phone calls, including one where he accuses Nixon of treason for stalling Vietnamese peace talks in advance of the 1968 election. Finally, the Reagan Library released 750,000 pages of documents (NYT, reg. req.) to researchers. [more inside]
America has come a long way. There is the official version of history or the peoples' version. There are artifacts and rankings. They had some quirks and were occasionally men of their time. If you prefer audio or visual references those are available as well. Common knowledge has it that one GW was our first President but the title of first is under dispute. 230 years later another GW is making a run for worst. That is also under dispute by the nations best brains. For better and worse, the story of the Presidency is the story of America.
According to political scientist Wayne Parent, “The South has moved from being the center of the political universe to being an outside player in presidential politics.” Are we finally seeing the end of Nixon's infamous Southern Strategy? For years Republicans have depended on the region to win elections. Some now argue that the G.O.P. has "transformed itself from the Party of Lincoln into the Party of the Old Confederacy." In any case, playing to racism and resentment [PDF] isn't as effective as it used to be. Furthermore, many Republicans have publicly disowned such tactics.
Don't get the impression that you arouse my anger. You see, one can only be angry with those he respects
Soon to be a Ron Howard movie (trailer here), portions of the Frost/Nixon interviews can be found online. More Nixon interviews can be found here. [more inside]
Richard Nixon had his nemisis and his name was Dick Tuck . Is Inventive, high quality campaign pranking a thing of the past? [more inside]
Bush had Karl Rove. But the original wiretapping President needed brains too. Introducing Kevin Phillips. He predicted the prolonged Republican dominance of Washington 1970-present and advised the Ford and Reagan presidencies. He predicted a more liberal 1990s and when the Bushies killed his party he became uttery disgusted. Recently he spoke about the influence of the christian right, our addiction to oil, and America's debt (public and private) at the University of California Santa Barbara. [more inside]
Gravelter Skelter [video, WTF content].
John Adams. NIXON IN CHINA. Excerpts: News has a kind of mystery. Act 1 Scene 3. Act 2 Scene 2a. I am the wife of Mao Tse Tung. Chairman Dances.
Arthur Bremer was released from prison today, after serving a 35 years of a 53-year sentence for the attempted assassination of George Wallace. After Harper's Magazine published Arthur Bremer's diary in 1973, the manuscript inspired both the character of Travis Bickle in the film Taxi Driver and the Peter Gabriel song "Family Snapshot". After Bremer shot Wallace, Nixon obsessed about the shooting on his audio tapes and pestered FBI agent Mark Felt for information, which Felt a.k.a. "Deep Throat" leaked to cub reporter, Bob Woodward. Woodward's relationship with Felt would later crack the Watergate scandal wide open, but Nixon's plan to portray Bremer as a George McGovern supporter remains less well-known.
Weird political junk on eBay. Traffic lights from Dealey Plaza, President Garfield's funeral shroud, Yitzhak Rabin's Scandalous Greek Vase. And here is the boat which Brezhnev gave Nixon (after Nixon gave him a Cadillac). No bids yet at $1m.
Some old news regarding Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Further proof that tigers don't change their stripes. Tiger Force in operated in Vietnam, led by the recently-deceased Colonel David Hackworth), with the task of out-guerilla-ing the guerillas. Their attrocities were covered up by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and James Schlesinger, who most recently headed an independent panel probing Abu Gharib. Others incidents inside...
Former GOP senior strategist Kevin Phillips wrote the political Bible of the New Right, The Emerging Republican Majority. He coined the term "Sun Belt." He voted for Reagan twice and still considers himself a staunch Republican. But now Phillips, the author of a new book called American Theocracy, is warning that the party of George Bush and Karl Rove ("W brand Republicans," in the phrase of GOP pollster Jan van Lohuizen) has become "God's own party" -- the champion of a convergence of "petroleum-defined national security; a crusading, simplistic Christianity; and a reckless credit-feeding financial complex." Phillips also cautions that the W-brand party's "sense of how to win elections comes out of a CIA manual, not out of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution." [Phillips was also discussed here.]
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald says emails relevant to the Valerie Plame leak investigation have gone missing from the White House. "In an adundance of caution," Fitzgerald wrote [PDF] to "Scooter" Libby's lawyers on January 23, "we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system." Might this help explain why Alberto Gonzales -- now the Attorney General, and lately so busy mustering arguments to assert that Bush's NSA domestic-spying program is "legal" -- waited 12 hours before instructing White House staff to preserve documents relevant to the leak investigation after telling Andrew Card about it? Shades of the late, great yoga instructor, Rose Mary Woods. [More on Plame here.]
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