Last year, when conservative commentator Armstrong Williams took $240,000 in payoffs from the Bush administration to promote its education policies in the media, he needed to reach a national television audience to satisfy the terms of his lucrative deal. Fortunately for Williams, he was good friends with David Smith, the CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation's largest owner of television stations.
. . .
Even before the payoffs became public, the news staff at Sinclair was horrified. The producer who edited the interview Williams did with Paige calls it "the worst piece of TV I've ever been associated with. You've seen softballs from Larry King? Well, this was softer. I told my boss it didn't even deserve to be broadcast, but they kept pushing me to put more of it on tape. In retrospect, it was so clearly propaganda."
The Federal Communications Commission is investigating the cash-for-coverage deal, and other media outlets have severed their ties to Williams. But not Sinclair. Smith leaves open the possibility of putting the commentator back on the air, dismissing the entire controversy as "foolish." Williams, for his part, is confident that Sinclair will have him back. "David Smith has stood beside me as a friend," he says. "I'm not too concerned about my relationship with Sinclair, if you know what I mean."
That's from Rolling Stone (which arrived today) -- Eric Klinenberg's "Beyond 'Fair and Balanced'" -- and is available in full online.
On the cover of this issue of Rolling Stone is Green Day. The cover story ("How the brats grew up, bashed Bush and conquered the world") by Matt Hendrickson is excerpted online:
"Let every redneck in America hear you," yells Green Day guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, and 5,000 British fans respond with a chant of "Idiot America!" It is January, and Green Day are playing London's Brixton Academy, two weeks into a European tour that sold 175,000 tickets in less than an hour. In April, the band begins a one-month U.S. arena tour behind American Idiot, the album that debuted at Number One in September and has barely been out of the Top Ten since. The album that took on George Bush and the war in Iraq ("We did everything we could to piss people off," says Armstrong, who performed the title track in a Bush mask in the weeks leading up to the presidential election). The album that earned the band seven Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year (Winning that one, says bassist Mike Dirnt, "would restore my faith in rock & roll," to which Armstrong adds, "I feel like we deserve it" ). The album that made Green Day superstars again.
[Note, when you go to other links, you leave the work-safe-zone that is The Common Ills. The story above will take you to one such link.]
Last night, Green Day won the Grammy for best rock album. (No, I didn't watch, but Rebecca said their performance was amazing.) And of course, this album was reviewed by Kat in her Kat's Korner in December -- "Kat's Korner Green Day v. the Disney Kids." The Third Estate Sunday Review reprinted that Kat's Korner in January.
We're leaving politics but we're on journalism and on making things available online, so I think it's worth noting. In the print issue, you get a feature entitled "The King of the Night" which is excerpts from Timothy White's interview with Johnny Carson. Online, you can find the full Rolling Stone Interview White conducted with Carson. If you liked Carson, White or just good journalism (or two or all three), check it out because the Rolling Stone Interview was one of the premiere interview forms in the sixties and seventies (it peters out in the mid to late 80s -- since then, it's sometimes been amazing and sometimes been fluff). (There are two printed collections of Rolling Stone Interviews -- check your libraries -- if you'd like to sample one, I'd urge you to go with the one covering the late sixties and seventies. Joan Baez has a great interview in the eighties collection but, off hand, I'm not remembering any other ones that amazed with their use of the interview format.)
[Timothy White died in 2002. The Boston Phoenix's Ted Drozdowski wrote a very informative obituary entitled "Timothy White1952–2002."]
Moving on to In These Times which arrived in the mail Saturday. The issue we're focusing on is the one with the cover story "Cashing in on Cons" (February 28, 2005). [If, in haste, I leave out a link to a story, you can search it at the web site of any of these magazines.]
There are so many wonderful stories here but we'll highlight three. Are those three you would have chosen? Maybe not. So check out the site (where you'll also find the latest issue).
Cynthia L. Cooper's "Dems: Because They Can?" is a story that I think many members would want to read. From that article:
In a moment of morning-after madness, politicos within the Democratic Party are taking three giant steps backward from a woman's right to choose. The results could be disastrous for progressive women's political base.
Much of the drama is emerging around the normally staid contest for the chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which will be decided by 447 electors on February 12 at a DNC vote in Washington, D.C. All of the candidates for the position now held by Clinton-ally Terry McAuliffe are men, a large number of whom who are using Lincoln's birthday as the opportunity to distance themselves from reproductive freedom. This comes at the time of greatest peril, when one or two anti-abortion appointments to the Supreme Court could upend the right to privacy protected by Roe v. Wade.
"What are we," asks Eleanor Smeal, president and founder of the Feminist Majority Foundation, "fair weather friends?" Apparently so.
"We fought like mad to beat back the Republicans," blogged Karen M. White, national political director for EMILY's List, a pro-choice Democratic fundraising machine. "Little did we know that we would have just as much to fear from some within the Democratic Party who seem to be using choice as a scapegoat for our top-of-the-ticket losses."
Yes, Howard Dean is now the DNC chair and we're happy about that. (And need to continue to press to the party not to ignore the grass roots. I'm personally hopeful that Dean won't need any prompting himself; however, he's up against the structure so the struggle isn't over.) But this is an issue that matters to many who come to this site. (Matters to me as well.) So I'd encourage you to read the article.
Robert Parry has an article in this issue entitled "Freedom from Reality: A compliant press allows Bush to spin an inaugural yarn of abstract nonsense." From the must-read article:
One of the most troubling crises confronting the world today is that the U.S. executive branch -- controlling the most fearsome arsenal in history -- has largely detached itself from reality and faces no counterforce in Washington capable of bringing it back down to earth.
In that sense, George W. Bush’s second inaugural address on January 20 stood out as a defining moment. Bush wrapped a grim record of presidential abuses—an unprovoked invasion, extraordinary secrecy, tolerance of torture and indefinite imprisonments without trial -- in
the noble cloak of "freedom" and "liberty," words he uttered 27 and 15 times respectively, as if words can amend truth.
Bush's speech also ignored the fact that he and his supporters have consistently harassed and denigrated dissidents at home, often by tarring them as disloyal or crazy. Remember, for instance, the vicious attacks from the right against former Vice President Al Gore in fall 2002 when he questioned the justification for rushing to war with Iraq.
This hostility toward dissent has continued to the present as some conservative pundits, such as the Washington Times' Tony Blankley, are suggesting that journalist Seymour Hersh be investigated for espionage for writing an article in The New Yorker about the Bush administration’s secret military operations in Iran and elsewhere.
"Federal prosecutors should review the information disclosed by Mr. Hersh to determine whether or not his conduct falls within the proscribed conduct of the [espionage] statute," Blankley wrote.
[Note: In the last mag round up, I neglected to provide a link to Parry's article that we highlighted: "Bush's Death Squads." My apologies to those who weren't able to find the article. The e-mail came in today and I'm not going to go back a week or more to find the post. But if you were unable to locate the story, or didn't think to search, the link is included in this note.]
The third story we'll highlight is by someone that's been the topic of many e-mails, Bill Moyers.
(And yes, I miss him on NOW with Bill Moyers -- as well.) Moyer's has written "Blind Faith" and here's the beginning of the piece (though I doubt most members need a highlight to click on the article, they're probably there already just from reading Moyer's name):
One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress.
For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. The offspring of ideology and theology are not always bad but they are always blind. And that is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
One-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup Poll is accurate, believes the Bible is literally true. This past November, several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in what is known as the "rapture index."
These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans. Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre: Once Israel has occupied the rest of its "bibli-cal lands," legions of the Antichrist will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.
From The Nation (we're focusing on the Feb. 21, 2005 issue), we'll start by highlighting the cover story ("Our Godless Constitution") by Brooke Allen:
It is hard to believe that George Bush has ever read the works of George Orwell, but he seems, somehow, to have grasped a few Orwellian precepts. The lesson the President has learned best--and certainly the one that has been the most useful to him--is the axiom that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. One of his Administration's current favorites is the whopper about America having been founded on Christian principles. Our nation was founded not on Christian principles but on Enlightenment ones. God only entered the picture as a very minor player, and Jesus Christ was conspicuously absent.
Our Constitution makes no mention whatever of God. The omission was too obvious to have been anything but deliberate, in spite of Alexander Hamilton's flippant responses when asked about it: According to one account, he said that the new nation was not in need of "foreign aid"; according to another, he simply said "we forgot." But as Hamilton's biographer Ron Chernow points out, Hamilton never forgot anything important.
In the eighty-five essays that make up The Federalist, God is mentioned only twice (both times by Madison, who uses the word, as Gore Vidal has remarked, in the "only Heaven knows" sense). In the Declaration of Independence, He gets two brief nods: a reference to "the Laws of Nature and Nature's God," and the famous line about men being "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights." More blatant official references to a deity date from long after the founding period: "In God We Trust" did not appear on our coinage until the Civil War, and "under God" was introduced into the Pledge of Allegiance during the McCarthy hysteria in 1954 [see Elisabeth Sifton, "The Battle Over the Pledge," April 5, 2004].
In 1797 our government concluded a "Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, or Barbary," now known simply as the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 of the treaty contains these words:
As the Government of the United States . . . is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion--as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Musselmen--and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
This document was endorsed by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and President John Adams. It was then sent to the Senate for ratification; the vote was unanimous. It is worth pointing out that although this was the 339th time a recorded vote had been required by the Senate, it was only the third unanimous vote in the Senate's history. There is no record of debate or dissent. The text of the treaty was printed in full in the Philadelphia Gazette and in two New York papers, but there were no screams of outrage, as one might expect today.
The Founding Fathers were not religious men, and they fought hard to erect, in Thomas Jefferson's words, "a wall of separation between church and state." John Adams opined that if they were not restrained by legal measures, Puritans--the fundamentalists of their day--would "whip and crop, and pillory and roast." The historical epoch had afforded these men ample opportunity to observe the corruption to which established priesthoods were liable, as well as "the impious presumption of legislators and rulers," as Jefferson wrote, "civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time."
If we define a Christian as a person who believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ, then it is safe to say that some of the key Founding Fathers were not Christians at all. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine were deists--that is, they believed in one Supreme Being but rejected revelation and all the supernatural elements of the Christian Church; the word of the Creator, they believed, could best be read in Nature. John Adams was a professed liberal Unitarian, but he, too, in his private correspondence seems more deist than Christian.
We'll next note John Nichols & Robert W. McChesney's "FCC: It Could Get Worse" where they caution that the exit of Michael Powell from the FCC doesn't mean we can stop paying attention or stop making ourselves heard:
But don't think that Powell's exit and the Justice Department's backing off mean the fight is done. As Representative Maurice Hinchey, the New York Democrat who was in the forefront of the fight against Powell's rule changes, notes, a bad turn has been avoided, but "we still have a long way to go toward achieving honest and balanced reporting" and toward the development of regulatory structures that "provide greater rights to smaller media outlets who too often are silenced by the media giants." Those giants haven't given up on their battle for bigness. And it appears that the Bush Administration is preparing to bring in new, potentially even more industry-friendly troops. With Powell leaving, there will be a reshuffling of the three-member Republican faction that now dominates the FCC. (Democratic commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, both critics of rule changes that would have allowed one company to own a newspaper, television and radio stations and other media in the same market, and that would have dramatically eased controls on the growth of national networks, will remain. But they will also continue to be on the weak end of a 3-to-2 partisan divide.)
Bush will definitely have an opportunity to appoint a new chair, and if, as some predict, former wireless industry lobbyist Kathleen Abernathy also leaves, he could radically reshape the commission. One prospective replacement for Powell is the third Republican appointee on the commission, Kevin Martin. But Martin upset industry insiders when he sided with Democrats Copps and Adelstein to block Powell's attempt to choke off local phone competition--former House Commerce Committee chair Billy Tauzin dismissed Martin as a "renegade Republican" after that vote. And the insiders want to be sure the agency is chaired by someone who is 100 percent in favor of their agenda.
That's created something of a bandwagon for the appointment of Becky Klein--a former head of the Texas Public Utility Commission--with whom the industry has already developed a cozy relationship. When Klein challenged Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett last year, the Austin Chronicle described her as "a horrible candidate" who appeared to be less serious about winning a House seat than "auditioning for her next GOP patronage job." Despite that fact, Klein collected more than $800,000 in campaign contributions, with a substantial portion coming from telecommunications and energy companies--more, in fact, from those industries than any other first-time GOP candidate in the country. Klein earned just 31 percent of the vote, but as Gene Kimmelman, a senior director of Consumers Union, explained, "Clearly, the companies are investing in the future."
For our third highlight, we'll note Katha Pollitt (a voice that speaks to many Common Ills members) who has a column in the issue entitled "Summers of Our Discontent:"
As the saying goes, behind every successful woman is a man who is surprised. Harvard president Larry Summers apparently is that man. A distinguished economist who was Treasury Secretary under Clinton, Summers caused a firestorm on January 14 when, speaking from notes at a conference on academic diversity, he argued that tenured women are rare in math and science for three reasons, which he listed in descending order of importance. One, women choose family commitments over the eighty-hour weeks achievement in those fields requires; two, fewer women than men have the necessary genetic gifts; and three, women are discriminated against. Following standard economic theory, Summers largely discounted discrimination: A first-rate woman rejected by one university would surely be snapped up by a rival. We're back to women's lack of commitment and brainpower.
On campus, Summers has lost big--he has had to apologize, appoint a committee and endure many a hairy eyeball from the faculty, and complaints from furious alumnae like me. In the press, he's done much better: Provocative thinker brought down by PC feminist mob! Women are dumber! Steven Pinker says so! The New York Times even ran a supportive op-ed by Charles Murray without identifying him as the co-author of The Bell Curve, the discredited farrago of racist claptrap. While much was made of MIT biologist Nancy Hopkins walking out of his talk--what about free speech, what about Truth?--we heard little about how Summers, who says he only wanted to spark a discussion, has refused to release his remarks. The bold challenger of campus orthodoxy apparently doesn't want the world to know what he actually said.
We're now going to focus on Vanity Fair and the March 2005 issue which is on sale now.
We'll start by highlighting an article Rupert Everette wrote -- "Letter from Cambodia:
The actor and Vanity Fair contributor visits the heart of darkness in Asia's ongoing battle against H.I.V./AIDS." The article is available online in full (along with photos). Here's the opening of the article:
It is five o'clock in the morning in the Cambodian jungle. The 12th-century Temple of Bayon with its 54 towers looms black against a purple sky. A full, watery moon glides through space above us; time stands still and the chattering brain is stunned into silence.
We are not alone. A few other tourists grope their way up ruined stairways, like beetles in the half-light. Banyan trees weave through the walls, across the balustrades, sucking this forgotten civilization back into the earth. Huge porticoes balance precariously on teetering columns, and vaulted ceilings are caught in the branches' embrace as they fall in ghostly freeze-frames like broken card houses. Wandering here at this hour is probably quite dangerous, and it won't be long before there are signs and barriers and officious tour guides with megaphones, but for the moment we are watched by just a few young Buddhist monks—little kids, really—who are the keepers of these temples of Angkor.
I'm soon lost, separated from the rest of the group in a maze of black stone corridors. A little girl beckons me to follow her. We enter a small room where an enormous Buddha and a tiny old nun sit. There are offerings at the feet of the statue -- including a packet of Lay's potato chips—and the nun is arranging things as I come in. She has a shaved head, unwavering blue eyes, and no teeth. She sits on her haunches and proffers some sticks of incense, which I light from candles on the floor. She motions for me to kneel beside her and pray. I gaze up at the huge, smiling face of the Buddha, through wisps of smoke that billow and curl my prayers to the heavens. I'm transfixed. He seems to be looking straight at me, and for a moment everything drops away. A nudge in the ribs from the nun's bony elbow brings me back into the room.
She motions for me to bow. I do.
"One," she says in English.
"Two." She's bowing with me this time, showing me the way.
"Three." We bow in unison.
And then, "Peace!" she exclaims, as if it were that simple.
But there is no peace, and certainly nothing here is simple.
Cambodia is facing an AIDS crisis virtually unparalleled in the rest of Asia. The nation's health-care system is woefully overmatched and the average person lives on about five dollars a day. This beautiful country gasps for breath, plagued by governmental instability and a deeply traumatic past: an estimated 600,000 died in the 1970–1975 civil war, many as a result of U.S. bombing raids that began in 1969; soon thereafter, 1.7 million were killed or starved to death under the oppressive reign of the Khmer Rouge. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has approved $25 million in AIDS funding for Cambodia over the next two years, more than $8 million of which is already in the country. I'm here to see how it's being spent.
We're breaking our own rule by linking to Christopher Hitchens (or I'm breaking our rule) but it's about the Ohio voting and the anger over Mother Jones' "slap down" (as Barry terms it)
is a constant in the e-mails. So we'll note this article by Hitchens, "Ohio's Odd Numbers:
Are the stories of vote suppression and rigged machines to be believed? Here is "non-wacko" evidence that something went seriously awry in the Buckeye State on Election Day 2004"
and we'll be thankful that he addressed he it. (Any angry e-mails should be directed to me at email@example.com.) From the article (which isn't just in print, it's online -- feel free to send it to Mother Jones), here's the opening:
If it were not for Kenyon College, I might have missed, or skipped, the whole controversy. The place is a visiting lecturer's dream, or the ideal of a campus-movie director in search of a setting. It is situated in wooded Ohio hills, in the small town of Gambier, about an hour's drive from Columbus. Its literary magazine, The Kenyon Review, was founded by John Crowe Ransom in 1939. Its alumni include Paul Newman, E. L. Doctorow, Jonathan Winters, Robert Lowell, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and President Rutherford B. Hayes. The college's origins are Episcopalian, its students well mannered and well off and predominantly white, but it is by no means Bush-Cheney territory. Arriving to speak there a few days after the presidential election, I found that the place was still buzzing. Here's what happened in Gambier, Ohio, on decision day 2004.
The polls opened at 6:30 a.m. There were only two voting machines (push-button direct-recording electronic systems) for the entire town of 2,200 (with students). The mayor, Kirk Emmert, had called the Board of Elections 10 days earlier, saying that the number of registered voters would require more than that. (He knew, as did many others, that hundreds of students had asked to register in Ohio because it was a critical "swing" state.) The mayor's request was denied. Indeed, instead of there being extra capacity on Election Day, one of the only two machines chose to break down before lunchtime.
By the time the polls officially closed, at 7:30 that evening, the line of those waiting to vote was still way outside the Community Center and well into the parking lot. A federal judge thereupon ordered Knox County, in which Gambier is located, to comply with Ohio law, which grants the right to vote to those who have shown up in time. "Authority to Vote" cards were kindly distributed to those on line (voting is a right, not a privilege), but those on line needed more than that. By the time the 1,175 voters in the precinct had all cast their ballots, it was almost four in the morning, and many had had to wait for up to 11 hours. In the spirit of democratic carnival, pizzas and canned drinks and guitarists were on hand to improve the shining moment. TV crews showed up, and the young Americans all acted as if they had been cast by Frank Capra: cheerful and good-humored, letting older voters get to the front, catching up on laptop essays, many voting for the first time and all convinced that a long and cold wait was a small price to pay. Typical was Pippa White, who said that "even after eight hours and 15 minutes I still had energy. It lets you know how worth it this is." Heartwarming, until you think about it.
The students of Kenyon had one advantage, and they made one mistake. Their advantage was that their president, S. Georgia Nugent, told them that they could be excused from class for voting. Their mistake was to reject the paper ballots that were offered to them late in the evening, after attorneys from the Ohio Democratic Party had filed suit to speed up the voting process in this way. The ballots were being handed out (later to be counted by machine under the supervision of Knox County's Democratic and Republican chairs) when someone yelled through the window of the Community Center, "Don't use the paper ballots! The Republicans are going to appeal it and it won't count!" After that, the majority chose to stick with the machines.
I want to note the table of contents to the print edition to be sure that everyone knows what's in the issue:
361 Hollywood 2005 Trust V.F.'s annual portfolio, now in its 11th dazzling year, to capture the best the movies have to offer, starting with a wine snob, a Foxx, a motorcycle diarist, a million-dollar baby, and a raging reunion. Photographs by Annie Leibovitz and other top photographers.
408 EYES WIDE OPEN A skinny 16-year-old misfit from the Bronx, Stanley Kubrick cast himself as the next Weegee in 1945 and landed a $50-a-week job taking photographs for Look magazine. Mary Panzer discovers how the master director learned to tell stories in pictures.
414 SLEEPLESS NIGHTS The Aviator dramatizes Howard Hughes's glory days. Bruce McCall continues the epic, with five inventions the increasingly obsessive tycoon ought to have dreamed up.
420 THE KING WHO WOULD BE MAN Marlon Brando's 1947 performance in A Streetcar Named Desire brought him a stardom he could never accept. Seven months after Brando's death, his friend Budd Schulberg, screenwriter of On the Waterfront, reveals the tragic struggle of an acting legend.
426 AND THE OSCAR DOESN'T GO TO . . . Edward Sorel salutes the giants of film who never won an Oscar in a major category.
428 DANGEROUS TALENTS The maverick director of 1955's Rebel Without a Cause, Nicholas Ray bonded with his young cast, but the car crash that killed his 24-year-old star, James Dean, was the beginning of the end for Ray too. Sam Kashner describes the turbulent making of a classic.
185 31 DAYS IN THE LIFE OF THE CULTURE High on Sunset Strip -- Krista Smith interviews Argyle Hotel owner Jeff Klein. Hot Type. Hot Tracks. Eve Epstein devours Layer Cake. Deda Coben goes vintage at The Way We Wore; Elissa Schappell reviews Metropolis; Sally Horchow joins L.A.'s Proscenium Club. A. M. Homes on artist Larry Clark. Leslie Bennetts unreels Jordan and Ridley Scott's short for Prada; Edward Helmore takes lessons from Lulu Guinness. My Stuff -- Frédéric Fekkai; Emily Poenisch on Viktor & Rolf's Flowerbomb.
214 OHIO'S ODD NUMBERS Are the stories of voter suppression and rigged machines in Ohio to be believed? Christopher Hitchens presents "non-wacko" evidence that something went seriously awry on Election Day.
220 FROM FEAR TO ETERNITY The 1964 anti-war film The Americanization of Emily, starring James Garner and Julie Andrews, can't be found at the local Blockbuster. But James Wolcott won't let a brilliant comic ode to cowardice be forgotten.
230 DON'T ASK, DO TELL In L.A. to cover Robert Blake's murder trial, Dominick Dunne runs into a potential witness in Phil Spector's murder trial, hears from Howard Hughes's right-hand man, and gets an invitation from an increasingly reclusive Elizabeth Taylor. Photograph by David Bailey.
236 TWILIGHT OF THE NEWS Tom Brokaw is gone and Dan Rather is going. The audience is shrinking. Michael Wolff predicts that Peter Jennings will be the anchor who turns out the lights of network news as we know it. Illustration by Risko.
240 MOORE'S WAR Few doubt that Michael Moore's hugely successful Bush-bashing documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, had an impact on the 2004 election, but even some of the director's supporters wonder whether it ended up helping the wrong side. As Moore's formidable publicity machine ramps up its campaign for the best-picture Oscar, Judy Bachrach finds the Michigan-born muckraker in a fighting mood.
258 HALL OF FAME Rupert Everett nominates the young activists of Global Justice, who are fighting AIDS in the Third World. Photograph by Ben Watts.
260 SCHOOL FOR COOL Founded in 1971 as a small-scale experiment in progressive education, Crossroads now has roughly 1,100 students, a college-level curriculum, and a growing list of celebrity alums, including Amy Pascal, Jack Black, and Zooey Deschanel. But Frank DiGiacomo finds there are questions about the path Santa Monica's hippest private school is taking. Photographs by Susanna Howe.
280 POKER'S WILD Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck, and James Woods may be the most visible poker players in Hollywood, but they're hardly alone. Dropping in on some of the most exclusive home games, Duff McDonald delves into the latest star obsession. Illustrations by John Corbitt.
296 THE GARDEN OF KABBALAH Last year's must-have accessory was the little red string Kabbalah bracelet favored by Demi, Ashton, and Britney. But is it ancient Jewish mysticism that has L.A. in thrall or just clever marketing? Interviewing devotees (including Madonna and Roseanne) and doubters, Evgenia Peretz reports.
312 MIDNIGHT REVOLUTION Despite its X rating and taboo subjects, Midnight Cowboy, starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, was an instant hit, going on to win three 1969 Oscars, including best picture. Peter Biskind gets the behind-the-scenes account of how director John Schlesinger began the revolution.
330 THE GROUPS When Annie Leibovitz is behind the camera, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. V.F. reprises 14 of the photographer's most memorable group portraits, from the Redgrave women to the strategists in Bush's war room.
349 THE ZOË SHOW More of the very expensive words of Edwin John Coaster. George Wayne turns the tables on Inside the Actors Studio's James Lipton. Intelligence Report: Film Festivals, by Adam Leff and Richard Rushfield. Staff archivist David Kamp presents another installment of Vanity Fair: The Missing Years; Bruce Feirstein's 8 Simple Rules … for Surviving in Hollywood.
It's the Hollywood issue that Vanity Fair does every year around Oscar time. I'll note that this year's "Hollywood Portfolio" features some amazing photographs: Javier Bardem (photographed by Bruce Weber), Don Cheadle (photographed by Mark Seliger), Annette Bening (photographed by Annie Leibovitz -- Bening reminds me of Bette Davis in this photo), and many more.
I'll note my personal favorite photo is Annie Leibovitz's "The Family Business" which is a photo of Jane Fonda and Troy Garity. (Garity is, of course, the son of Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden.)
If you've seen the Barbershop movies, you are familiar with Garity's work. But if you haven't seen Soldier's Girl, you're not familiar with the strength he has a dramatic actor. For that Showtime movie, he received a Golden Globe nomination. Jane Fonda, of course, has won two Oscars (Klute, Coming Home), one Emmy (The Dollmaker) and seven Golden Globes. I think it's a great picture.
Back to what's available online at Vanity Fair. At their Commentary section, you'll find additional articles including Sam Kashner's "informative piece on the making of Rebel Without a Cause" (Kara in an e-mail Sunday).
Maybe you'll find something of use in the print edition, maybe you won't. But we'll continue to highlight Vanity Fair for the strong reporting they've done and for the reason that they are beefing up their web site.
Lastly, we'll note that the next issue of The Progressive will feature a commentary by Howard Zinn. We're noting that, not excerpting from it because Ricky's already e-mailed that he's seen it online but is trying to wait for the print edition to be delivered. So for those who would like to read it right now, "Changing Minds, One at a Time" (like Ricky, I'm going to try to wait for the print edition to arrive which should be at least two more weeks).