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So sayeth the Supremes...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2004 1:13am PT  

I don't have much to add here, but with everything else going on, somehow this AP story seems to have gotten overlooked today. And yet it's quite notable, so here it is...

BOSTON --- The U.S. Supreme Court refused Friday to block the nation's first state-sanctioned gay marriages from taking place here starting next week.

The justices declined without comment to intervene and block clerks from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in Massachusetts. The state's highest court had ruled in November that the state constitution allows gay couples to marry and declared that the process would begin Monday.

At least something is still going right in this country and even the Supremes didn't screw this one up! Yet.

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Apparently - an investigative report!
(NOTE: Looking for the usual Red Meat Politics? Scroll past this long entry!)
By Brad Friedman on 5/14/2004 11:35pm PT  

Hopefully the usual Bush Bashers and Kerry Haters will pardon a brief pause for my continuing flight of fancy over this Andy Kaufman thing. It should all be over one way or another by Sunday (theoretically). So feel free to scroll past this long item if you're looking for the red meat!

I've been kicking myself all day for waiting so long to decide to buy tickets to the "event" around the corner at House of Blues this Sunday to mark the 20th Anniversary of Andy's Death (and possible re-appearance?), as there is now no more $50 SRO tickets. So it looks like I'm SOL instead.

So in lieu of it all, and noticing an alarming number of "Andy Kaufman" searches that have hit this blog in the last day or two, I went about a bit of armchair detetive work on the whole thing, and found a tidbit or two along the way.

If you're lost at this point, please see my "Andy Kaufman Returns?!" piece from last week for background, and then feel free to return.

Anyway, here's a few items of note as Sunday nears...a website called AndyKaufmanLives.com was begun last September 2003 by a guy known only as "Enrique". It's one no-frills continuous page where "Enrique" muses on his belief that Andy could have faked his death. He does so by periodically posting skeptical questions that folks may have and then goes about answering them. For example...

9/12/03
What about life insurance? Isn't that a crime? Isn't that how most people get caught?

Yes, that is how most people get caught. Many people fake their death so that life insurance can be collected. Any hint of possible fraud and insurance companies conduct an investigation.

I have read that no life insurance policies were collected.

Good enough...then suddenly the 9/16/03 entry is in a different font and color:

9/16/03

**********Message from the owner of the URL**********

Hello, my name is Steve. I am the owner of Jetelectro cartoons which owns this URL.

I have received many requests for info on Enrique and this web site. Many have asked who he is, where does he live, and how can we reach him. The answer to all of your questions is, I have no idea. I will explain briefly how this came about and why I am no help in getting you answers.

Awhile back I received a phone call from someone who identified himself as Eric at first, then by the end of the conversation he said his name was Enrique. He said he got my name from a friend of a friend in the animation business, although he never said who. He asked how much I would charge to buy the URL, set it up with a hosting service, then type periodic updates for roughly 1 year. A few days later I received a money order with no return address. So I bought andykaufmanlives.com. About a week after that I received a CD, no return address, containing the original HTML document to put up on the site. It came with typed instructions that I would be getting faxes every once in awhile, and that I should add them to the document exactly as typed.

So once again, I have no idea how you can reach him. I don't even know if he will be reading this (although I assume he does to make sure I copied his faxes correctly). I don't know why he wishes to stay anonymous, although I assume it is to avoid criticism over his views. I have received a few of those kind of e-mails also.

Okey doke...Odd enough. But then as I was highlighting the above text to copy it here, I discovered that hidden throughout the page, which has only a plain white background, there is text in a white font so that it can't be seen. Frequently just "Andy Kaufman," or sometimes more elaborately: "Andy Kaufman, Latka, Andy Kaufman lives, Taxi, Andy Kaufman Lives, Andy Kaufman, Andy Kaufman Lives, Latka, Andy Kaufman, Taxi, Andy Kaufman Lives"

That's a trick frequently used by websites that hope to get their page listed high on the various search engines when people might be searching for example, for "Andy Kaufman Lives". Search Engine "'bots" see that text - and add it to their index - even while normal humans don't. But if the above message from "Steve" is to be believed, and he was only suppose to transcribe "Enrique's" typed faxes verbatim, there would be no invisible text to be retyped.

So either "Steve" is lying to "Enrique" about simply retyping what he's sent (in order to up the hit rates for the page - which doesn't carry any ads in any case) or the whole thing is a swell sham and "Enrique" actually is "Steve" since supposedly "Enrique" claims that he doesn't know enough about HTML to do it himself, and therefore, would be unlikely to use the old "hidden keyword trick".

For the record, searches on both Google and Yahoo find no such company as "JetElectro Productions". However a "Stephen Maddox" of Greenwood, IN, is the owner of AndyKaufmanLives.com according to a WHOIS search.

But let's move on...In February of 2004 "Enrique" makes his last post for many months. In that post, he points to a message board, (which he had also pointed to and posted on some months earlier). The message board is ostensibly dedicated to the hardcore Andy fans, and of late is all about the 20th Anniversary "re-emergence" stuff.

More on that message board in a moment.

No more posts from "Enrique" on AndyKaufmanLives.com since that February 28, 2004 post, until today - a post from "Steve" again:

May 14, 2004

**********Message from the owner of the URL**********

Hello, I am Steve from JetElectro Productions

We have received many e-mails asking if Enrique will add new entries to this site. For the longest time I did not know. Yesterday I received a new fax from Enrique with 3 new questions and answers. He requested that it not be posted until this weekend. Also, we at Jetelectro think it is interesting that Bob Zmuda will be interviewed on Air America radio this evening. If you find that interesting go to www.airamericaradio.com and click on listen live. He is scheduled to be on "The Majority Report" this evening, Friday May 14. 8pm in New York. 7pm here in the Midwest.

Thank You

And then this final post on the page, today, again from "Enrique":

Do you think Andy Kaufman will reveal himself on May 16th, 2004?

No. As much as I would love that to happen, I do not believe it will. A fake death is absolute, as absolute as a real death.

So he will not be at the tribute in Hollywood?

I did not say that, I said he would not reveal himself. I do not believe he would appear at the tribute as Andy Kaufman, or in a costume, or any other suspicious fashion. I would say that if the man we knew as Andy Kaufman was at the tribute, no one would know.

How would no one know? These are his close friends. Are you suggesting plastic surgery? A sex change? Reincarnation? A House of Blues employee?

I wouldn't know

"Enrique" is starting to sound more and more like Andy's Co-Writer and current inhabitant of Andy's "Tony Clifton" character Bob Zmuda if you ask me.

Now back to the message board I mentioned previously...An hour or two ago, a new post there from "Anonymous" (which is what "Enrique" seems to go by when he posts on this board, apparently...though he hasn't posted for months...until today):

Subject: enrique

Message: has returned with some interesting news. stay tuned to his page in coming days. thank you.

There is, of course, a "Link to Enriques' Site" at the top of this message board.

An alert poster there, also noticed the following from a 10/30/03 post on "Enrique's" site:

Could he be in another country?

Why not? I was on the island of Aruba last week and no one knew or had even heard of him. I talked with cab drivers, store owners, hotel clerks, pool boys, bankers, waiters, and tourists. The name meant nothing to them. So how easy would it be for him to be a retired American living in a beach house?

The reference to "Aruba" is notable, given this exchange from last week's LA Weekly article on this whole affair:

Answering Machine, the next morning, 2004: “Hi, it's Lynne Margulies [Andy's girlfriend]. Hey! It was Aruba! I just woke up this morning and thought of it. Aruba. That's where Andy used to talk about going. Just jokingly, I think. I don't know where Aruba is, and I don't think he did either. But it sounds good. AH-ROO-BAH!

So there you have it...Just about all I've gleaned in the last hour or two while avoiding the mess that is Iraq, the Whitehouse, and everything else.

Oh, except for this last piece of business found by one of the message boarders in the "fine print" at the bottom of the Comic Relief page (Bob Zmuda is one of the founders of Comic Relief) advertising the event:

Please note: This is a non-televised event. No cameras or recording devices will be permitted. Tickets are non-transferable and photo I.D. is required. Audience members will not be allowed to enter or leave the theater during the last 30 minutes of Andy Kaufman --- Dead or Alive?

Hmmm...Odds are the joke is on me for having even paid it all this much attention (And you! For having read this far!) But that was, after all, largely the point of whatever the hell it was that Andy did. We were the show. And so I'm glad to play my part yet again for Andy...20 years later.

We'll see what --- if anything --- happens on Sunday. But, as the song says, "If you believed they put a man on the moon..."

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Some BRAD BLOG Followups and Housekeeping...
By Brad Friedman on 5/14/2004 1:22pm PT  

In re: my earlier pieces (here and then here) on Bill Kristol and the other NeoCons and their policy break from Bush as seen in his recent Weekly Standard piece. Is it just me? Or did Kristol appear truly dejected on last night's Daily Show? While, as he said, he was "trying to put on [his] game face" during the interview with Jon Stewart, his slumping body language suggested that he's truly been up against it, as he referred to "a really tough week, and a really tough last six weeks".

He's has been up against it, I'd imagine. And it showed. He was one of the original NeoCon architects (along with Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle etc.) behind this whole Iraqi Misadventure. One that far pre-dates 9/11. Even the most militant of Hawks should by now be able to see that these guys got their fair shot at it, and --- frankly --- have just blown it all in one single Mesopotamian Misjudgement. Now can we move on to Plan B already?

In re: my previous rant (or rants) at Sean Hannity. Even the NY Post has picked up now on the outrageously politicized, remarkably hypocritcal and astroundingy poor taste airings of the full "uncut" audio of the Nick Berg beheading. What I had forgotten to mention, as an ironic sidebar, is that his flagship station in NY (WABC), his station out here in LA (KABC) and many other stations in between, are owned and operated by a little company known as Disney. You remember them...the ones who opted against distributing Academy Award winner Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11 because it was too political and they "don't wish to alienate" the "families of many political stripes" that they cater too. I guess that only applies to films and not radio for Disney? (Films like Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction mind you!)

In related unsurprising news, there's still no word on how the FCC feels about a "live" beheading being played over the public airwaves in the middle of the afternoon.

In re: Andy Kaufman's imminent return to life this Sunday. After hemming and hawing about it for a week or so, we finally decided to fork out the $50/per SRO tickets to the big show on Sunday at the House of Blues being put on by Andy's co-writer, Bob Zmuda, and girlfriend Lynn Margulies. Sadly, though, by the time we finally got around to trying to purchase tickets, all the $50 SRO tickets were gone. Next available ticket: $99.95. To rich for my blood, I'm sorry to say.

I do believe though, it's virtually assured now that Andy is indeed alive and well and will be making his glorious re-appearance from the dead this Sunday --- since we won't be able to be there to witness it. :-(

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By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2004 8:23pm PT  

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Another Irony Watch Flashback
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2004 7:42pm PT  

"The POWs I expect to be treated humanely, just like we're treating the prisoners that we have captured humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals."
- George W. Bush, as the US was invading Iraq, March 23, 2003

"That's a violation of the Geneva Convention, those pictures you show, if, in fact, those are our soldiers."
- Donald Rumsfeld, on Face the Nation, March 23, 2003

Source: Reuters, "Bush warns Iraq over Prisoners"

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By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2004 7:18pm PT  

The gospel according to Reuters...

Mel Gibson's box office smash "The Passion of the Christ" broke the ignominious record as the most-pirated movie on Internet file-sharing networks in April, an online piracy tracking firm says.
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By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2004 3:09pm PT  

After endlessly criticizing Democrats for "politicizing this war" and more specifically the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Sean Hannity --- as I railed on Tuesday --- has been pointing folks to his website where he's proudly featured links to the Nick Berg beheading.

As if that's not both hypocritical and horrendous enough, he's been playing the audio from the beheading on his radio show - over the public airwaves! (FCC are you listening?) - for the last two days.

Does this guy have any self-respect left? Or entirely too much of it?

"Let Freedom Ring" indeed...

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Or, more 'With Friends Like These...'
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2004 2:12pm PT  

Following up my "With Friends Like These..." article from Tuesday (which is, incidentally, now being run at DemocraticUnderground.com - the third such article of mine they've run in as many weeks, I'm proud to say) wherein I described how even the NeoCons at The Weekly Standard are falling away from Bush, a lot more evidence is emerging that Conservative support for Bush is rapidly evaporating.

The Washington Post on Monday ran a piece about exactly that, citing - among others - two Hard Right Commentators who have been very critical lately of Bush:

Conservatives have become unusually restive. Last Tuesday, columnist George F. Will sharply criticized the administration's Iraq policy, writing: "This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts." Two days earlier, Robert Kagan, a neoconservative supporter of the Iraq war, wrote: "All but the most blindly devoted Bush supporters can see that Bush administration officials have no clue about what to do in Iraq tomorrow, much less a month from now."

But it's not just the War where Bush is losing what should be his core support:

Richard W. Rahn, a prominent Republican economist, excoriated the administration's telecommunications, antitrust and international economic policies in a Washington Times column April 30 along similar lines. "From the beginning of the Bush administration, sympathetic, experienced economists have warned its officials about the need to avoid some obvious mistakes," he wrote. "Unfortunately, these warnings have gone unheeded."

...Rahn said he has grown concerned over what he sees as "a lack of vision and policy consistency" in the Bush administration. "I mean, we knew where [President Ronald] Reagan was heading; at times there were deviations from the path, but we knew what it was all about," he said. In contrast, he said, now "there doesn't seem to be a clear policy vision."

While all the polls continue to trend away from Bush support, showing his Job Approval Ratings at an all-time low, falling now well below the crucial %50 mark, I'll take a counter-position from Conventional Wisdom to say that dumping Rumsfeld (and a few other folks) would put Bush in better stead with the public than he will otherwise be, running up the down escalator for the next 6 months.

Conventional Wisdom also had it that Presidential Apologies would be bad for Public Opinion and Good for the Opposition, but that was proven wrong with Clinton, and seems to have been proven wrong with Bush as well, as his Almost-Apologies last week didn't seem to directly add to his woes, and may in fact have briefly shored him up.

Add to it all, Mark Mellman's piece at The Hill, bolstering John Zogby's article by pointing out that, contrary to the lazy through-line being echoed throughout the supposedly "Liberal Media", Kerry's current position is "better than any challenger in modern times has ever been doing at this point in this race" and you know that Team Bush must be pulling out whatever's left of Karl Rove's hair just about now.

Either that, or they're still in the same Bubble of Denial that kept Bush's Daddy from reading the writing on the wall before it was far to late to change the fates.

So Democrats (and people who care about America) should take heart...Even with Kerry leading the ticket, all signs seem to be heading your way.

(Thanks to KJO for the pointer to the WaPo article!)

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As of 5/11/04
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2004 7:08pm PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2004 2:42pm PT  

I see both pros and cons in releasing all of the Iraqi Prisoner Abuse photos to the public. Yet for a week, I've been having trouble coming up with an opinion on this matter one way or another. Do you have one? Would really appreciate hearing any of your thoughts, if you have them, on this matter...

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By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2004 2:24pm PT  

Either Bush/Rumsfeld is lying or Colin Powell is. I'll let you decide.

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By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2004 1:58pm PT  

While Rush squirms like a worm defending his latest reprehensible statements of last week, today he as much as admitted that the Bush policy for "The War on Terror" is a disastrous failure.

An "irate" caller phoned in to tell Rush how angry he is at the way things are going in Iraq, and that he's beginning to think "the only way to defeat these animals once and for all" may just have to be "complete and total annihaltion".

Of course, Rush was pleased with the call, and agreed with the sentiments. Which would imply, of course, that even Rush agrees Bush's "War on Terror" is not working. On which Rush and I would agree.

Let's just hope when the current strategy to "rid the world of evil-doers" is abandoned for a plan that may actually have a chance of working, that's it's not Rush or his caller who's advice is heeded.

Have I mentioned lately what a dangerous man Rush Limbaugh is? How long did it take before McCarthy's assault on America was actually recognized for what it was? How long will it take America to realize the same about Rush?

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And they say we're politicizing this thing?!
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2004 11:48pm PT  

All day long Hannity was yammering on --- "Where's the outrage?!...They were so angry about the abuses by our guys, but where's the outrage now that terrorists have beheaded an American?!"

I got your outrage right here, Sean.

I'm outraged that you find any moral equivalence in comparing those hoodlum thugs to what should be the squeaky clean symbols of goodwill, peace, democracy and fair play that should be the Servicemen and Women of the United States Armed Forces.

I'm outraged that you are using this tragic event to demonstrate how "our Army isn't nearly as bad" as Saddam and the rest of the terrorists goons who are now attacking and killing our men and women in Iraq everyday thanks to the backwards policies of your "President".

I'm outraged that you are unable to see the clear systematic failure of the command structure in Iraq.

I'm outraged that you haven't demanded that your "President" and his Department of Defense stop cutting corners, stop lying about how it's going and how much money, troops and resources we really need to be sending over there to make this work and keep our people safe.

I'm outraged that you seem to imply that we should all shut up and stop criticizing those like Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush who are accountable for this mess...or that you would support the words of a Vice-President who deplorably tells Americans that we "should all get off his case".

I'm outraged that you can't see that unless actions are taken to correct these failures, such attacks by our enemies --- growing in size everyday, again thanks to your "President" --- will most likely become the regular course of events for decades to come. Even after your boy has long ago moved back to Crawford in shame.

I'm outraged that you would do what you accuse us of doing --- putting Party before Country --- as you and your fake conservative cronies have done every single day since 9/11/2001.

I'm outraged that you --- after criticizing CBS for releasing the pictures of abuse at Abu Ghraib --- have posted links to a live beheading on your own website.

I'm outraged that you continue to stand by a "President" that spends $200 Billion to under-fund an unnecessary war instead of spending on the needs of our own country, so that a 26 year-old boy from Pennsylvania would choose to take a job in the most dangerous place in the world, where he has no business even being, to do the work that your newly "privatized" military should be doing.

I'm outraged that you stand behind arrogant and pointless and self-destructive world-wide aggression and a "President" with an inability to heed any single piece of advice that doesn't tell him what he already wanted to believe before he even started.

And I'm outraged that you, Sean Hannity, can't seem to tell the difference between a bunch of backwards unaccountable bandits and a chain of command in a (theoretically) civilized country where behavior such as rape, murder, torture and sodomy with broken chemical lightbulbs is not supposed to happen. Not ever. And when it does --- somebody --- even if they happen to be your political friends --- must be held accountable.

I'm outraged, but I'm hardly surprised.

UPDATE: The next day after posting this entry, Sean Hannity began playing the uncut audio from the Nick Berg beheading live on his national radio show. And on his many Disney owned affiliate stations to boot! God Bless America.

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...Who needs Democrats?
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2004 10:47pm PT  

The Conservatives, clearly an important pillar of Bush support if he is to still have a chance of winning in November, seem to be going rather wobbly on the old boy.

I'm talking about real Conservatives here, not the Hannity's, Limbaugh's and other ersatz armchair faux "conservatives" who wouldn't know real Conservatism if it came up and bit them on their Goldwaters. Yes, there are still a few of them left in America. And yes, they will have to grease up their walkers and get to the polling place if Bush hopes to have a chance of winning the Presidency for the first time again this year.

Another critical article from The Weekly Standard (hardly a card-carrying member of the "Liberal Media", senior-edited by Bill Kristol whose own critical Bush article I discussed a day or two ago), nicely enumerates many (if not all) of the issues on which Bush is failing to make the grade by (true) Conservative standards.

Irwin M. Stelzer's Standard piece aptly entitled "All Hat and No Cattle", spends the bulk of it's ink outlining where Bush has gone entirely off the Conservative reservation. And then, as if prodded by a Standard editor, somehow shoehorns all of those arguments to make them fit the article's paradoxical sub-title, "Why, despite everything, Bush should win". Go figure.

Anyway, in case any of those ersatz armchair faux "conservatives" (several of whom troll this Blog regularly) are wondering what real Conservatives think of Dubya, here's a short list of just a few of their, or at least Stelzer's, critiques:

Much disappointment in the "breakdown of civilian control over the military" and "chain of command that is in disarray" as seen via the US retreat from Fallujah and promotion of two anti-Shiite Generals from Saddam's former army left behind to keep "peace" in the city, while "Saddam sits comfortably in prison...awaiting an eventual return to power, which is just what happened the last time he was thrown into prison by a legitimate Iraqi government." Toss into the mix what is seen as broken pledges "not to allow a few thugs and remnants of the old regime to recapture Falluja" and the failure to kill or capture Moktada al-Sadr. All of that just the latest in a series of similar examples where Bush has failed to deliver in Iraq.

On the budget front, they are none to happy with Bush "presiding over the largest expansion of the welfare state since the glory days of Lyndon Johnson." From exploding "non-military non-homeland-security expenditures" such as the prescription drug program "likely to end up claiming 2 percent of GDP" to the stalled energy bill which "to anyone who knows anything about energy markets says will do nothing to reduce our reliance on oil imported from the Bush family friends in Saudi Arabia."

Then there's the fiscal sitch. Stelzer's happy that Bush's tax cuts have seen us out of "the recession he inherited from Clinton", but "that was then and this is now" and the deficit is out of control even while Bush "continues to increase spending and press for still more tax cuts...The time is long past when anyone believed that the tax cuts would be self-financing...his talk about cutting the deficit in half is nothing more than that--the talk of a man with a large hat and a very small herd."

Which brings it all back to Iraq...The Generals calling for more troops were right, and Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz were wrong about what would be needed in both numbers and dollars. Furthermore, Bush has drained resources and man power from other places around the world to fight this battle, leaving us "vulnerable to the lunatics who run North Korea, and to any other regime that, sensing our lack of resolve in Iraq, decides that now is the time to strike against American interests." Add to that a beauracratic mess on the ground which has lead to a "reconstruction program [that] languishes." And the final blow: Bush's plan to "hand off power to some version of a sovereign Iraqi government cobbled together by the U.N.'s Israel-hating Lakhdar Brahimi."

Wow...and I thought that Kerry's core supporters were pretty tepid. He'll really have to work to screw this one up! Or...he could choose Dick Gephardt as his running mate.

Stay tuned...

ReddIt this story!



By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 9:40pm PT  

ReddIt this story!



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