MUSIC: Intro/Hendrix, Star Spangled Banner
s9/ Prodigy, We Have Explosive
Exeunt/WildChild, Renegade Master
J. Good Morning, and welcome to The Mojowire, Vol. 3, No. 5... I'm Mojo...
S. And I'm Sean, it's Saturday, Feb. 26, 2005, Day 1,412 of the Neocon Captivity, and here's the news for the week gone-by...
J. Brought to you by Mojohaus-fine journalism, afflicting the comfortable since 1988. Now headlines, from Mojohaus:
S. First this morning, we will reflect on the sad and terrible passing of an American Giant. Journalist Hunter S. Thompson, godhead of the wire, took his own life last week, and we will not see his like again. We will start our show this morning by ruminating on our loss.
J. You are absolutely not going to believe who's back in town these days with a brand new bag: Swift Boat Liars for Bush, and this time it is the gay-loving, anti-veteran AARP -- yes, the American Association for Retired Persons -- in their sights as they prepare to do battle in the name of the President's scheme to destroy Social Security.
S. Then our special correspondent from low earth orbit, Dr. Strychnine, bring us the strange and terrible saga of Jeff Gannon, nee Guckert, White House Correspondent and male gigilo and the portends of doom represented by this whole sordid affair.
J. Finally we have a special report regarding our treacherous, steroid poisoned governor who is yet again making headlines for political ineptitude and a virtual inability to play well with anyone in Sacramento, including members of his own party. Wait till you hear what the Gropenator is up to now...
…So stand by to stand by while we get ready to pull the pin on this thing...
NOTES ON THE PASSING OF AN AMERICAN GIANT
J. It was just about a quarter after 10 on a stormy night here on the Pacific Coast when I learned about the apparent suicide of Hunter S. Thompson. It was like a kick to the groin as the words burned across the top of the CNN website. I felt sick, I felt like I wanted to wake up...
So it is with a deep sense of sadness and regret that we here at the Wire must join with others in announcing the passing of an American Giant. It is hard to accurately put into words the personal sense of loss we are feeling at this moment. Since high school, Thompson's writings have been part inspiration, part sacred wisdom, part taboo cultural meme, part call to arms against the forces of evil and dumbness.
But to do the Doctor any real justice I would have to start by quoting Voltaire, as Hunter himself did when he penned his whipsong elegy of Richard Nixon: "To the living one owes respect, to the dead, one owes only truth."
With that in mind, I must say that it had occurred to me recently that Thompson might not have long left. Between his nearing 70 years old, his nearly obsessive self-destructive streak, and his penchant for making enemies in high places, I was starting to worry that this news might be coming at some point.
There is a need for the Human mind to ascribe a reason to an act like this. Many scenarios crowded my head immediately. My inner conspiracy theorist immediately jumped to several versions of the "assissinated" scenario, others that quickly suggested themselves were terminal/chronic illness diagnosis, drug induced psychosis, untreated manic depression...
According to reports, it was last Sunday evening when Thompson, on the phone to his wife about his next ESPN column, abruptly put the phone down, and Antia Thompon could hear the hammer cocking on the gun, then heard the muffled gunshot... But this was not a sudden act of desperation or madness according to family and friends. Hunter had been talking recently about ending his life due to his health problems, and had spent recent weeks bonding with his family and leaving detailed instructions on the dispostion of his writings and personal papers.
It is not easy to take in any context, but I am sad that he apparently took his own life. But in the end, he died as he lived; completely on his own terms with no apology or explanation, because friends don't need it and enemies won't believe it.
The truth is that we may never know exactly why Hunter decided to take his own life at that time, and if that's how he wanted, I am compelled by a strong sense of respect to leave it at that... "res ipsa loquitor" as the Doctor might have said; "the thing, it speaks for itself."
Whatever the reason, I want to believe that Hunter is in a better place. If I am saddend, it is more for those of us now left behind to fill the shoes of a genuine American giant.
Who will fill this void? Hunter Thompson was a colossus who cast his long baleful shadow across a generation of American news reporters, who at once were inspired by him and simultaneously feared what he represented.
Thompson was a Titan who trod on a road of bones, absolutely fearless of anything -- editors, sources, political enemies. If there was a truth out there that needed to be said, or even if he just thought it needed to be said, Hunter said it. Many American news reporters admired that, but at the same time felt a sense of dread and shame when they heard it.
S. His style of journalism, although professionally eschewed in mainstream newsrooms, was envied by most journalists as a the righteous unleashing of a lethal writing machine fueled by an audacious combination of guts, brains and compassion in a relentless, ruthless pursuit of the truth about the Ameircan condition; an unflinching chronicler of our times ... the truth, no matter what.
In spite of whatever drug or neuro-disease fueled mania drove some of Thompson's wilder ramblings and made him seem less a reporter than a self-obsessed drug addict constantly bemused and amazed at his own survival, the truth was that he was doing what many of us in the news media instinctively felt we should be doing; not just paying attention to the man behind the curtain, but chasing that shiny little green-clad freak around with a wolverine and a can of mace until he relented and told us where Bebe Rebozo hid the last Nixon tapes. But we lacked the testicular fortitude to lace 'em up on a daily basis and get after it like Thompson did.
We never got to meet Thompson, or see him in a public appearance, but he has had a profound spiritual influence over our work, like an ancient Peyote munching shaman reading the currents on the wind and brandishing uncomfortable truths like blunt instruments. Not that we tried to be Thompson clones, there are far too many of those; but his writing talent and his ruthless ability to pierce the veils of the venal, stoopid and cruel and strip them down naked so that they might be seen for what they are... those are traits to be emulated.
Because you always knew if you fell short of the true religion, there would be Thompson casting his judgements upon you from his highly fortified compound, heaping his contempt upon those fakes, rubes and fools who were not pure enough to join in a noble pursuit, now corrupted by whores, pimps and simpletons unworthy of the name "journalist."
Thompson once wrote about the dynamics of a biker funeral. He said that their funerary rites were an affirmation among the tribe that their numbers were now lessened by one and that for those who keep score, like journalists and bikers, that their their circle was now smaller and the forces arrayed against them pushed in a little closer today than yesterday...Our world is a little darker today than yesterday, and we are poorer for it.
Reading through his ersatz obit of Oscar Acosta, I often wondered if the same kind of left hand whipsong might not be made of Thompson's passing. As he said of Acosta, Hunter was a preacher, and it was that basic instinct that ruined him for anything else. Cranking himself so full of acid that he could properly walk with the King, coming closer to finer, higher truths, which he could then bring back, to exchange for more acid, indeed the full circle...
Thompson crammed more humanity, madness and grace into one person than most of us will meet in any three Human size packages in our entire lifetimes. He was a high powered mutant, one of God's own prototypes, never even considered for mass production. It can, and will be said truthfully and with great respect that he stomped upon the terra.
And when you think about it, was it likely to end any other way? No "prolonged illness" bed ridden in a hospital for Hunter Thompson, no cheesy dope-influenced car crash, or sleazy homicidal love triangle... Those would have been too easy, too cheap. This way, it was a kind of poetry, however dark and grim...
He bought the ticket and took the ride...
And in many corners he will be missed, especially in Woody Creek, where it is said that every light in town dimmed when we heard that Hunter had cashed his check.
Mahalo, Hunter ...
SWIFT BOAT SOCIOPATHS FOR PHASING OUT SOCIAL SECURITY
J. Hey Red State, have you ever wondered why you're walking funny these days, or why there's a strange pain in your butt? Has it ever occured to you to wonder how your opinions are formed, who forms them and how they are transmitted to you, and how you in turn vote to screw yourselves blue at the ballot box?
Wonder no more, because Maximum Leader and his gang at the helm of the Mighty Wurlitzer are providing us with a rare glimpse into the GOP corporate echo chamber that gently prods the rubes like you into the sheering pens.
So we pray your patience Red State and you faithful wireheads, while we unravel the weirdness that is the current battle over the Social Security phase out as a terrible object lesson in political science and the brutal realities of the Bush Administration.
A brief firestorm broke across the blogosphere last week, when the American Spectator, Freeperville and a few other selected web sites carried a paid ad from an organization called United Seniors Association -- or USA Next-- which depicted a picture of a soldier with a big red 'X' over him, next to a picture of a newlywed gay couple, which bore a green checkmark. The point, according to the caption is that this was the AARP's true agenda, to promote gay marriage at the cost of our brave young fighting men in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After enduring nearly 18 months of Ken Mehlman drunkenly driving the Mighty Wurlitzer across the land, careening into gardens, over fences, thourgh banks of mailboxes, over curbs, we thought we had become hardned to the depths of debasement this administration would go to get their way.
Then they have to pull out something like this, so damaged, so deranged, so self-parodying that you have to wonder if it isn't all some sort of giant joke. Even people like the Whitehouse.org parody site don't do stuff this weird.
But apparently this group, USA Next has been around for a couple of years, beating up on the AARP on behalf of the President and generally making a big nuisance of themselves and guess who they're recruiting to help with the Social Security Phase Out effort. We get this bit in introduction from last Wednesday's New York Times (And big ups to Times Staff Writer and former Mojowire associate Glen Justice for this story... you rock Glen.):
"USA Next, a conservative group planning a campaign attacking AARP over its stance on Social Security and other issues, ran an Internet advertisement on Monday linking the group to support for same-sex marriage...USA Next plans to attack AARP with television commercials in coming weeks intended to discredit it on Social Security. USA Next has hired consultants who worked for Swift Vets and P.O.W.'s for Truth, which made headlines last year for its attacks on Senator John Kerry's record in the Vietnam War ."
Word around the campfire is that the group has hired Chris LaCivita, an alleged former Marine who advised the Swifties for Bush, on its media campaign and helped spin their hideous lies. He raked serious bank for that few months, too; more than $30,000 for his work, campaign finance filings show.
Officials said the group was also seeking to hire Rick Reed, a partner at Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, a firm hired by the Swift Liars and paid more than $276,000 to do media production, records show.
So given the big-time nature of the reality distortion field cranking up here, we decided (along with the majority of greater blogovia) to take a quick look-see at exactly who and what are USA Next, and what's the deal with their boss, one Charlie Jarvis?
Well, one of the first things you do in a case like this is get the address of the organization and gun it through your favorite search engine. Hey, journalism and law students, wake the hell up and take some notes, we're givin' away valuable tips here... This trick immediately turns up some interesting tid bits. There have been more than a few Republican outfits using this Jermantown Road address in Fairfax, but the most notable one that most stumbled on to was O'Neill Marketing. The O'Neill people wasted no time in putting up a note on their website disclaiming any current connection with Jarvis or the USA group, noting that they only did some work for them in the past, but are now no longer connected with them.
I keep thinking of that moment from the movie JFK where Jim Garrison is explaining the signifcance of a French Quarter building with two address and two separate entrances going to the same office...
Then there was this courtesy of a reader of Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo: "I work near O'Neill marketing, so I took my lunch hour to go check them out. ... 3900 Germantown Rd is a little four story building near Fairfax City. In the lobby, on the orientation board, O'Neill is listed as occupying suite 300, as are about 25 other organizations. The building didn't look that big from the outside, so I trooped upstairs to check out suite 300. Turns out 300 is an incubator. You know the type: start-ups go there, lease some space, share the cost of paying a receptionist, share the copier, share the coffee machine... A nice person in the elevator told me that 300 is a kind of "mish-mash" of things; people come and go all the time. USA is indeed listed in 450, but, how can I put this? They aren't welcoming visitors."
Fine, but when one considers the company O'Neill keeps now, and were keeping at the time they had USA as a client it makes one wonder. There were radical right wing religious groups such as the Christian Action Network and Heartbeat International, which are devoted soley to socially facist agendas dressed up in clerical vestments. Other current fundraising and advocacy clients include the Reagan Ranch klavern of the Young Americans for Freedom, The Republican Governor's Association, the Republican National Congressional Commitee and the RNC. But Charlie Jarvis was too hot to touch as a client?
S. Well, let's take a little closer look at USA Next itself. Apparently, many of us found this bit upon even a cursory search. At the behest of Public Citizen, an administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration brought the heat on Jarvis and crew, as reported on Talking Points Memo:
"On August 8, a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Appeals Board Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued a ruling upholding the imposition of a $554,196 civil monetary penalty against the United Seniors Association, Inc. (USA Inc.). The ALJ found that USA Inc. violated Section 1140 of the Social Security Act, which protects Social Security program words and symbols from being used in a misleading manner."
These are complaints about this group that date as far back 1997, when Northern California Rep. Pete Stark was officially asking the USPS Postmaster General to initiate mail fraud investigations into USA Next for their blatant lies and misappropriation of government and quasi-government symbols to bilk people out of millions of dollars.
Moreover, it has been known for sometime that one of USA's big behind the scenes supporters has been the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which appears to have quietly channeled as much as $41 million to four PACs in 2002 to help elect a Congress willing to do the drug industry's bidding, no questions asked, according to a Public Citizen report from last September.
United Seniors was one of the four PACs PhRMA used to pimp their hand picked monkeys in selected races, and United Seniors ran election ads for these guys with PhRMA money, according to Public Citizen: "In 2002, USA received $20.1 million from a single source, according to its IRS filing – 79 percent of its total revenue that year. PhRMA acknowledged providing an “unrestricted educational grant” to USA in 2002. USA also received $1.5 million from PhRMA in 2001, according to its IRS filing. Public Citizen estimates that USA spent at least $13.6 million on political ads in 25 races in 2002."
This is kind of money we are playing for here. These are big stakes, so that brings us directly to the man sitting at the table looking at the cards, the inestimable Charlie Jarvis himself. Jarvis has been something of a intermediate size player behind the scenes for many years, working on a number of campaigns and causes, and when one takes a close look at this guy, the whole "AARP wants to sell your children to the sodomites" thing comes into focus.
From a 1999 campaign report from Tribune Media tagging him as a treacherous little thug: "If Steve Forbes had character, I think he would fire some people," [then Presidential candidate Gary] Bauer said Monday. "(My wife) Carol and I had to go through a miserable couple of weeks." Bauer, who said he'd never speak of it again, is, of course, speaking about last month's allegations of sexual impropriety levied by former aide Charlie Jarvis, who accused Bauer of spending "hours and hours and hours behind closed doors with a young single woman." Bauer has repeatedly denied all and said the woman is a campaign manager. Jarvis is now an unpaid adviser to Forbes..."
Jarvis himself likes to brag about being a businessman who served as some sort of flying monkey minion in the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations, apparently also as undersecretary of the Interior. But it is his post-government work that really brings this kook into sharp relief, I mean, how does a guy go from the Number Three post at Interior to being a punk knee-breaker for a low rent delusional snake oil salesman like Gary Bauer.
Well, it turns out he was also the Executive Vice President of Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family, which is nothing more than a right wing agit prop hate machine designed to keep the flock herd bound and submissive, lest ramapaging leather boys break into your house and start busting up your Pat Boone records and make you listen to trashy Euro-dance music and force your women to have abortions and get jobs and weaken your bodily fluids with flouridation, hair products and seasonally coordinated coture...
And... you know... that would suck for Red State...
Further, it would appear that fleecing seniors out of their church tithe and drug money is not only interest of Grand Wizard Jarvis who has also used USA Next to get seniors behind oil drilling in ANWR after an Anchorage-based big oil lobbying concern called "Arctic Power" cut his crew a check for $181,000, according to a report from the AARP.
So, that's how it works Red State, you are being had, and you may now thank us for this lengthy peek behind the curtain at how you are being fleeced by the very people you put in power. See you on the breadlines comrades.
cue JAMES music
And now the music is telling me that we have an incoming transmission from the redoubtable Dr. S9…
J. That’s right. It is time once again for our regular contributor Dr. Strychnine, reporting from his super-secret, ultra-dope, mega-cool, extra-jiggy, Mojohaus spy satellite of love high in geosynchronous orbit above Baghdad by the Bay…take it away S9…