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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2004 9:47pm PT  

From Harper's Index...

Number of articles in major U.S. newspapers that have called any White House statement on Iraq a lie : 0

Number of the five tax-cut questions asked the president on Meet the Press last winter that concerned the cuts' inequity : 0

Average amount a Bush Cabinet member will save this year due to cuts in capital-gains and dividend taxes : $42,000

Median U.S. household income in 2002 : $42,409

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...the Israeli way.
By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2004 1:20pm PT  

From AP:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A U.S. helicopter fired on a wedding party in the remote desert near the border with Syria, killing more than 40 people, most of them women and children, Iraqi officials said. The U.S. military said it was investigating. [ed note: see following item and the final graf of this item for good news on that!]
...
Dr. Salah al-Ani, who works at a hospital in Ramadi, put the death toll at 45.

Associated Press Television News obtained videotape showing a truck containing bodies of those allegedly killed.

About a dozen bodies, one without a head, could be clearly seen. but it appeared that bodies were piled on top of each other and a clear count was not possible. [emphasis added for Sean Hannity]

And they thought Gay Weddings were bad for the institution of marriage? The story concludes...

In July 2002, Afghan officials said 48 civilians at a wedding party were killed and 117 wounded by a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan's Uruzgan province. An investigative report released by the U.S. Central Command said the airstrike was justified because American planes had come under fire.
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Army clears Army of Wide-Spread Army Wrongdoing.
By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2004 12:44pm PT  

Turns out that the U.S. Army Brigadier General overseeing all U.S. Army operations in Iraq and Afghanistan tells us that the U.S. Army's Inspector General who is investigating U.S. Army abuse of prisoners at U.S. Army prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan says that there is no wide-spread pattern of abuse by the U.S. Army!

I'm glad that's all cleared up! Looks like the charges of a cover-up by the U.S. Army and a Pentagon Report on the deaths of prisoners in custody at four different U.S. Army prisons in Iraq and charges of U.S. Army abuse of journalists at a different prison in Iraq and U.S. Army abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan are wholly unfounded. For a while I was worried!

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By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2004 11:43am PT  

When I set out to look into what was going on at the "Andy Kaufman - Dead or Alive?" 20th Anniversary event after midnight last Sunday, little did I know I'd be sucked into it's vortex. I'd wished I'd brought a camera or a tape-recorder, but hadn't. Fortunately, I found this picture of me behind "Tony Clifton" over on Wally Wingert's website. He's the guy who setup the Andy Kaufman memorabilia in Andy's old apartment which was opened for viewing in "Act 4" of this bizarre and wonderful "event" around 2am or so that night / Monday morning.

Full details on my experience and how I ended up at this "event" here. Pointers to all the BRAD BLOG "Andy Kaufman Dead or Alive?" investigative articles here. Original photo on the web from which the above is taken here (for all those Photoshop cynics!)

UPDATE (4/25/04): The photo above (sans the red circle) is now also on the Official Tony Clifton website in the "Sightings" section. And hence, Brad ignominiously ends up, if only in the most insignificant way possible, as part of the annals of Andy Kaufman / Tony Clifton historical folklore. Sigh.

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By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2004 8:24pm PT  

Having for a couple of weeks inhabited his spirit, if not his body, for an Odd Couple spoof of sorts a few years back (Brad in OddFellas), the news of his passing was all the more sad to me. Good god was he funny. And a genius.

One of his last jokes, caught by Paul B., from the AP obituary:

Randall joked in September about how he envisioned his funeral: President Bush and Vice President Cheney would show up to pay their respects, but they'd be turned away because his family knows he didn't like them. During a speech to the National Funeral Directors Association, he said funerals should be planned as a celebration of life and "a touch of humor doesn't hurt a bit."
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By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2004 6:44pm PT  

I'm pretty sure --- not certain --- but I think I spotted Annette Bening in Tony's dream sequence on this week's Sopranos.

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The best show on television!
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2004 6:37pm PT  

The finale episodes begin tonight on BRAVO (9/8p with repeats later) and end tomorrow. If you haven't watched up till now, they are still worth checking into even this late in the game. That is, if you feel you can enjoy witnessing four completely twisted families in the midst of undoubtedly screwing up their children's lives for years to come.

Of the five sets of parent(s)/child(ren) on the show, only one pairing comes close to not being worthy of a call to Child Protective Services.

I'd have to turn away completely, if they hadn't gone ahead and put it on television for me to watch.

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By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2004 6:23pm PT  

I hate piling on. Really, I do. It's one of the reasons I haven't had much to say in the last coupla days about Bush, Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Rumsfeld, and all the other collective --- yet seemingly now very obvious --- disasters in this Whitehouse and besetting America.

Then comes a fresh perspective on something I (and probably you) have been pondering for years, yet that has been set aside lately in favor of more pressing and in-your-face catastrophes.

Thanks to Atrios for the tip-off to Rick Perstein's Village Voice article entitled "Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move - The Jesus Landing Pad". It's worth the read.

It reveals one of the (undoubtedly) many direct influences in this Whitehouse from the Fundamentalist Evangelical Right. This one, with Email evidence to boot, is from the nutbags at the Apostolic Congress, "the Christian voice in our Nation's Capital" as their website informs us.

I've long tried to convince my otherwise very intelligent Jewish relatives that this Whitehouse, and in particular those on the Far Right who suggest the Defense of a Israel as the Jewish Homeland at the top of their priorities --- and who have used it to justify just about everything these days --- are in fact, no friends of the Jews. In fact, the only thing they hate more than Jews is Arabs.

Therefore, under the convenient cover of the same "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" justification that the Right often uses to justify any number of outrages, even in comments on this blog ("So what that we gave chemical weapons to Saddam to use against Iran! They were our enemy at the time!")...too many in the Jewish community have fallen for the temptation to assume that those on the Evangelical Right and in the Whitehouse are actually their friends. They are not.:

It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. Not for our eyes were the notes that showed White House staffers taking two-hour meetings with Christian fundamentalists, where they passed off bogus social science on gay marriage as if it were holy writ and issued fiery warnings that "the Presidents [sic] Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level"—this to a group whose representative in Israel believed herself to have been attacked by witchcraft unleashed by proximity to a volume of Harry Potter. Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios.

But now we know.

"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the Voice.

You can, and should, read the rest of the piece over there.

It also outlines how this Apostolic Congress has "Christian Zionist" missionaries in Israel, in strict defiance of Israeli law, by the way, actively actively working towards converting Jews to Christianity.

Setting that appalling --- though too frequent even in this country --- practice aside, frankly, I don't have any real problem with anybody sharing their views with any Whitehouse --- nutcases or not --- in support of or in opposition to any matters of policy.

I am troubled, however, over the secrecy that surrounds it all, and more importantly the selectivity of it all. Does the Sierra Club get to have private Presidential audiences to discuss the Administration's Energy Policy? (Evidentally we have no legal right to know) Does the NEA get to put their personal two-cents in on "No Child Left Behind"? (It wouldn't seem so, since Education Secretary has described them as "terrorists") Does Colin Powell get to tell the President what he really thinks about Bush's Iraq Policy? (okay, bad example.)

Perhaps it's just the key constituents with the votes and bucks who get the access. Nothing really new there. But it's worth paying attention to who those folks with the influence actually are. The Jews who believe, by supporting Bush, they are supporting a Pro-Israel President should perhaps take a closer look.

Perlstein finishes with this:

Don Wagner, an evangelical, worries that in the Republican Party, people who believe this "are dominating the discourse now, in an election year." He calls the attempt to yoke Scripture to current events "a modern heresy, with cultish proportions.

"I mean, it's appalling," he rails on. "And it also shows how marginalized mainstream Christian thinking, and the majority of evangelical thought, have become."

It demonstrates, he says, "the absolute convergence of the neoconservatives with the Christian Zionists and the pro-Israel lobby, driving U.S. Mideast policy."

The problem is not that George W. Bush is discussing policy with people who press right-wing solutions to achieve peace in the Middle East, or with devout Christians. It is that he is discussing policy with Christians who might not care about peace at all—at least until the rapture.

The Jewish pro-Israel lobby, in the interests of peace for those living in the present, might want to consider a disengagement.

I agree. I wonder if anybody in my family will figure that out prior to November.

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By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2004 1:37pm PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2004 1:53pm PT  


George W. Bush Job Approval
Newsweek Time/CNN Zogby CBS
May '02 73 72 70 77
May '03 65 63 n/a 67
May '04 42 46 42 44
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By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2004 12:55pm PT  

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Reports of his demise, apparently NOT exaggerated!
*** A BRAD BLOG EXCLUSIVE EYE-WITNESS REPORT! ***
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2004 4:27am PT  

(Blogged at 4am...please pardon any typos or any other rambling unreadables!)

Tonight, or more accurately yesterday, was the 20th Anniversary of Andy Kaufman's death (or "death", depending on your point of view). If this is your first time hearing about this, check this entry first.

If you're caught up on any of this, you know that I was too late to purchase the $50 SRO tickets for the "Andy Kaufman Dead or Alive?" event at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. Here's a report from someone who did see the show. Well, "Act 1", anyway...apparently the only one I missed.

Orchestrated by Andy's co-writer and friend Bob Zmuda, the show was to have let out at midnight and so I was keeping on eye on some of the Message Boards and Chat Rooms where some of the folks who did have tickets (and were flying in from across the country to see the show!) were supposed to report in as soon as the "event" let out to report if, in fact, Andy had showed up.

As of 12:15pm, nothing...and I mentioned to someone in the Chat Room that I should just drive over there and see what's going on. Suffice to say, I was then harranged by the folks in the room to do just that.

Despite having just taken a coupla Exedrin P.M., my curiosity got the worst of me, and I headed over.

The street in front of the House of Blues was quiet, but I found one person who had just gotten out of the show. He said they moved across the street for "Act 2" - Milk and Cookies at the Comedy Store (Andy had done the same thing for his audience after his famous Carnegie Hall show). He also told me there was a wrestling ring set up.

I found a place to park, and walked right in to the "After Party" at the Comedy Store.

There were girls in the first room, which was mostly empty, offering Milk and Cookies. The crowd was in the next room where Tony Clifton was introducing some wrestlers.

After 15 minutes of three guys in chicken suits wrestling a couple of hispanic queens, four women came in and finished them all off. Somehow the chickens came back, however, and so Jerry Lawler (famously having pile-drived Kaufman many years ago) came out and finished off all the chickens to much approval by the Kaufman fans assembled.

Clifton then came back out and told folks that Andy not only brought the Carnegie audience out for Milk and Cookies after the show, but he then invited anybody who wanted to show up at 8am the next morning for a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. About 30 folks showed up, and Andy bought them Chocolate Cake.

Clifton would out do him, he told the crowd, as he announced "Act 3"...wherein the legendary porn star Ron Jeremy came out with a sign, also held by Dennis Hof, who is apparently the owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada. Act 3 will be tomorrow night (actually tonight, I guess) for anybody who can make it to the Bunny Ranch for free....whatever you like...between 8pm and Midnight.

Before you run up there, please note, you'll need to show your ticket stub to receive your freebie. (I don't have one, since I didn't get to the actual show, so it looks like I'm outta luck). A few Bunny Ranch denizens then took off their top and invited everyone to come on up tomorrow night for all they could eat.

Clifton then thanked everyone for coming and wished everybody a good night.

10 minutes or so later, as the crowd had thinned to about a third of it's original Act 2 size, Clifton once again took the mic, and said that "now that all the loooosers...who hadda go to be had left"...he was pleased to announce "Act 4"! Right now.

Whoever would like to join was invited to grab a candle for a vigil on the sidewalk. And then, anyone interested was invited to take the 10 minute walk down to Andy's old apartment, which is now apparently a condo. The owners were kind enough to allow folks to come on up, as long as everyone was quiet (mind you, we're now talking about 2am on a Sunday night / Monday morning).

I took the walk with the 75 folks or so who were still game down to Fountain and La Cienega. Only 20 or so could go in at a time (Suite #409 for you die-hards), where they had brought a bunch of old Andy memorabilia up there for display (original Tony Clifton costumes, original Foreign Man costumes, photos, scripts, etc.)

While waiting to go in, "Clifton" answered all questions about Kaufman and told various Andy stories. Most of which I'm too exhausted to report to you tonight. Suffice to say "Clifton" (a character played by Andy, now inhabited by Zmuda) was very generous to all who where there. (And at the prices they charged for the show, where Andy never showed up, that's the least he could be!)

Oh, yeah, Andy did show up...but it was Andy Dick, and he was trashed as he also hung around with Clifton and the crowd on the streets in the early Hollywood a.m.

Suffice to say though, it was an interesting night...especially since I was reporting on the phone much of the time to someone who was in the Chat Room that had volunteered to type away as I described what was going on. That unedited Chat Room transcript is here if you'd like to slog through it for the real blow-by-blow as "ks76r" (aka Mike) was kind enough to transcribe it all to the room from his comfortable post in Topeka, Kansas --- apparently where he was up all night folding laundry as the sun was rising :-)

Unless he shows up at "Act 3" tomorrow night (not an unreasonable place for Andy to show up) it would appear that --- as of this hour --- Andy Kaufman is still dead.

Thanks for the memories, Uncle Andy. And for the milk and cookies.

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(and a world-wide live show to boot!)
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2004 7:29pm PT  

The BRAD BLOG Andy Kaufman Compendium:

The groundwork is laid: "Andy Kaufman Returns" (5/8/04)
A once in a lifetime chance gets blown: "A Few Updates" (5/14/04)
The conspiracy widens. Big time.: "More on Uncle Andy's Funhouse..." (5/14/04)
Curiouser and curiouser. Just minutes into the 20th Anniversary of his "death": "More Andy..." (5/16/04)
A BRAD BLOG EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: Milk and cookies. Wrestling and hookers. "Andy Kaufman is Still Dead!" An eye-witness report. (5/17/04)
PHOTO UPDATE: Evidence that at least Brad is alive and was with Tony Clifton that night: "Brad at Tony Clifton / Andy Kaufman Event" (5/19/04)
UPDATE (5/27/04): Been following way too closely? Then you probably know about "Enrique" and "Claire Chanel" and "Stephen Maddox". If you do and want to know more, or have no idea what I'm talking about...Read Brad's AndyKaufmanLives.com / Enrique / Claire / Stephen Maddox / "Andy - Dead or Alive?" / Hoax / Mystery FAQ Page...Proceed at your own risk!
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By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2004 1:41pm PT  

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Growing Curiouser and Curiouser
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2004 12:04pm PT  

re: The Andy Kaufman situation...

If you haven't been following along, then reading this entry first will get you all caught up...

Okay, after I blogged that article yesterday, Joel, a user on the message board I referred to in the story, noticed that I had given the name "Stephen Maddox" of Greenwood, IN, as the owner of the AndyKaufmanLives.com URL. I had found that information by doing a standard Internet WHOIS search to get the owner of the domain.

Joel just posted the following in regards to that name...:

Nice Blog. You say Stephen Maddox owns andykaufmanlives.com. I know that name but couldn't remember where from. It drove me crazy all morning trying to remember where. I finally gave in and googled it. He is the character in a movie called the Running man. He is an insurance fraud guy chasing someone who faked their death!

Okay...this is gettin' kinda creepy now...

He is correct. It was a 1963 movie...

Something is whacky here...either that, or the entire world, including History and the entire Internet itself, is conspiring to play one tremendous joke on me. (Andy, of course, likely would have loved it I suppose.) [ed note: "would have loved it"? or "is loving it"?]

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