Open Questions For Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi

I sent the text below out to [email protected] I have read Matt for some time and found him occasionally extremely damn funny. The Stone’s political blog was demanding questions, so I thought I would shoot this in. Here’s hoping for response.


It’s been a while. Rolling Stone’s blog is demanding that readers send you questions. So, here I go with a few that pop into my mind. Slide one or more over to Dickinson if you can’t decide which one butters the editorial bread best.

Would you accept my apology for initially telling you that you should pay Dylan Avery any more credence than a Mitt Romney abortion pandering session?

Not that there’s anything sinister with happening to agree with one party’s values more, but do you think that your National Affairs coverage is perhaps a little bit too partisan?

Advocacy journalism is a fine and splendid thing, but do you ever miss actually spanking the donkey instead of hanging NeoConservative bastards — who no one with a spinal cord, a moral soul, and/or a Rolling Stone subscription really appreciates — out to dry?

Are upper management’s power lunches limiting your ability to report on approaching Ad Council or drug czars on acid?

When you re-hash terms like “half-bright,” do you get the sense that the publication’s language is effectively evolving?

Do you personally relate to Julien Sorel of Le Rouge Et Le Noir? If so, how?

Half-seriously: Why do you hate America?

Does peace kill?

Any plans to hit the road for Presidential ’08? If not, could you give me a reference? I may still be young, but I am way older than Cameron Crowe.

Could you put in a good word for me in the College Journalism Competition?

Why do you think it took so long (at least a year) for the 24-hour news networks to report on the “gay bomb” research?

Considering that Rolling Stone’s plugging Ron Paul would only help shove Democrats even farther into anti-war and pot-legalization mode down primary road, why hasn’t Wenner Media built a gigantic golden idol to him on Avenue Of The Americas?

Why isn’t Spin covering politics?

Is Amy Goodman too idealistic?

What are your feelings about Klosterman?

Is America doomed?

Do you have children, a wife, a life partner?

What is your favorite YouTube campaign stunt? What is your least?

Will the blog or online media make print effectively irrelevant for political updates?

Who is the de facto craziest Christian in America?

If a financially struggling young American is now aware that Iraq poses no categorical threat to a single American’s life, liberty, or constitution, and he at the same time chooses to enlist in the military with the full knowledge that he will likely have to kill people in the country in whose occupation he assists, do you blame him? If not, considering your disdain for Imperialism, why not?

Do you blame an Iraqi for killing a U.S. soldier who occupies his country in order to “democratize” the citizenry by force? If so, why?

Where is Osama Bin Laden? Have you made a concerted effort to follow up on that last interview?

Do it bother you that Gonzo is now a porn genre? Does it titillate you?

Briefly, what are your religious beliefs? Is Sam Harris reductive in his arguments?

Why is a significant portion of the Beast archive M.I.A.?

To request a blanket answer, are liberals less racist than conservatives?

How are the Stone’s politics connected to its editors’ philosophy on covering certain musical artists? Would they not cover a Christian metal band because they are lame, or because they lack technical skill?

What is your most-viewed news source (1) on television, (2) in print, and (3) on the internet?

Do you ever find Rolling Stone’s advertisers’ interests necessarily antagonistic to the humble lifestyle that would allow Americans to depend less on foreign oil?

How often do you write to or call your congressperson and/or senator?

How much are you paid, respectively, for a single AlterNet, Rolling Stone, or Buffalo Beast post?

As you asked readers on Smirking Chimp, would you shake Bush’s hand?

Considering how long you have been pumping out exclusively political articles for Rolling Stone, do you feel that the constant beat reporting has hurt your ability to seek out diverse news sources, vìs-a-vìs, stunting your access game?

Have you considered freelancing?

If you could ask George W. Bush one question and be actually guaranteed an honest answer, what would you ask him?

Fill in the blank: _____________________, barked George W. Bush at his reflection.

In what way is Rudy Giuliani’s divorce proceedings relevant to his potential ability to carry out the office of president?

That’s all I’ve got right now.
Take care,

Tyler Bass

Mike Gravel And A Rock

Ten Movies Leading Toward The Apocalypse

The Omega Code
A flick I caught at Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Pleasure/Piety Palace in Santa Ana, California, a decadent estate in homage to a first century socialist/schizophrenic who asked followers to abandon all of their property in order to follow him. A truly annoying film that pumps the most insane evangelicals into insufferable and unquestioning Israel-licking, as god magically destroys planes in mid-air to protect a state. It takes place in a modern day environment, molding the Revelation of John into more than babbling metaphor, and into self-fulfilling prophecy cognitively accessible to the most willfully ignorant midwestern nutjobs. Atrocious. Amazingly bad for civilization. If the people who made it honestly believed it, they would not charge a cent.

Left Behind (The Trilogy)
An adaptation of Tim LaHaye’s series of novels about The End whose substantive political message is how good it would be to fear anyone who talks seriously about world peace, and that if a leader finally did, he would probably be the anti-Christ. A lot like the Omega Code, except the True Christians® are miraculously pulled off of Earth into heaven where they will somehow be in bliss with god while their loved ones suffer pestilence and war at his hands. An assault on euthenasia and proponent of narrow-minded exclusivity, this film encourages dishonesty toward employers and infiltration and offers creedence to the desperate hallucinations of weak-willed sheep. It lies way more than Da-Vinci Code.

The Skateboard Kid
If god did exist, the release of this film would have justified another Sodom and Gomorrah, only this time in the offices of producers in New York and L.A. Instead of lightning striking them; however, this film features a bolt hitting an unimportant, stupid kid’s skateboard, magically making it talk, fly, and spit unimportant, stupid “witticisms” dumber than Captain Planet comebacks. It wasn’t amusing when I was eight, and not entertaining drunk or high on anything. A blight on humanity, The Skateboard Kid should have ended Dom Deluise’s career simply because he was able to interject any energy whatsoever into the hackneyed script.

Blues Brothers 2000
The mother of all sequal letdowns. A major studio-sponsored piss on John Belushi’s grave, despite its intentions and the presence of otherwise talented musicians.

Jesus Camp
An excellent and frightening A&E documentary. Showcases the people who desire to be closest to the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and who will be quickest to demand first strike use. Evil adults speak lies and in tongues to children and encourage them to bow at the feet of a cardboard cutout of homicidal warlord George W. Bush. The film displays Ted Haggard at the heights of his hypocrisy, warning his flock that they did not need to have a debate about homosexuality because “it’s written in the bible,” undoubtedly at the same time when he was fucking male hookers and smoking meth. Worst moment: camp leader Becky Fischer encouraging children to drill/dance with sticks, camouflage their faces with paint, all in order to counteract the way Islamic Fundamentalists teach their children; in effect, turning them into what she hates.

Loose Change (All “Editions”)
A crock of lies that succesfully brainwashed me the first time I saw it, simply because I was dizzy from the other bag of bullshit about Saddam Hussein and 9/11 sold to me by media sources who were supposedly more credible than a lying windbag like Loose Change Writer/Director Dylan Avery. Like the administration itself, attempting to influence through blind fear instead of reason. Avery’s willingness to pay any taxes from the hundreds of thousands of dollars he’s made “to the machine, man” says volumes. This film is a testament to the ease with which one can persuade/dissuade the rabble into patriotic fervor, dissidence, or simply opening their pocketbooks. Frightening when you believe it, and even more so when you find out how false it is.

Passion Of The Christ
Mel Gibson’s self-funded and intensely profitable reel regarding the death of Jesus for the Christian/S&M set. Glorified senseless bloodshed as much as Postal 2, but kept Focus On The Family’s James Dobson momentarily non-critical about violence in popular media. Only after pressure from distributors did Gibson back off of offering subtitle to a still-included line that has caused untold suffering to millions of Jews: “His blood be on us, and on our children.” He kept it in the film, probably because he was still hitting the International Jewish Conspiracy pipe.

Hamas TV “Mickey Mouse” Teaches Islamic Supremacism
Children’s programming at its most destructive, and the ill-spirited rambling of a impoverished production crew barely clinging to their existence as their neighbors’ homes are mowed down by Israeli “settlement.” In the video, Farfur the Mickey ripoff, chants in costume of the day when Islam will conquer all other cultures, and goofily dances with his fingers gesturing as a rifle while 11 year old Harwa, battered by war and longing for vengeance, sings on the phone of an answering being a Kalyshnikov. Demonstrates the terrible human trait guaranteed to bring about The End, the willingness of new generations to carry grudges across the ages.

The Day After Tomorrow
A film that bled more metric tons of unwarranted skepticism about finite resources and global warming than the nation’s Hummer 2s’ do carbon. By e-mail, dim-witted liberal group plugged the film to its members as the movie that Big Oil Didn’t Want You To See. A caricaturish coping-device/exploitation film, Day After Tomorrow’s sensationalism helped oil company representatives lampoon earnest, responsible concern about the environment. Kind of like the way the Japanese made Godzilla to emotionally deal with the physiology of future generations being poisoned by The Bomb, this film is surely the harbinger of bad times ahead.

Root Of All Evil?
The release of Evolutionary Biologist’s Richard Dawkins’ film about the evil of labelling belief without evidence virtue is perhaps the ultimate harbinger of The End. Why? The American networks did not have the good sense to air it. We’re screwed.

Noam Chomsky Critiques My Iraq War Essay

So I wrote to Noam Chomsky, fowarding him an 800 word essay I crafted for a contest for The Nation.

The essay “Withdrawal” was the product of a lot of collected conclusions about the Iraq War, my response to a prompt regarding the most important issue for young people in the 2008 United States Election. My hope is to win a ton of bragging rights and a thousand bucks. I would like to flash it on “Spectacle Monopolized,” but any hope of keeping good terms with The Nation‘s editorial or legal team means that I must waste some good copy’s possible public exposure until futher notice. However, Dr. Noam Chomsky got a sneak preview. The following is what he sent back:

Thanks for sending. Very well put. On the higher level of opposition today than in the 60s, you’re quite right. Opposition did grow in the 60s, but it took a long time, and only really became significant when the US attack on Indochina — which is what it should be called — reached a far higher level of intensity than the Iraq war today, awful as it is.

One side comment. The “baby-killer” story is mostly propaganda. It might have happened here and there, but if so, it was quite a marginal phenomenon. There has been some scholarship trying to track it down, but without much success. It mostly reduces to “I heard that….” In reality, the anti-war movement was highly supportive of soldiers. That’s why there were GI coffee houses near bases, and many other supportive actions. Activists were opposing the civilian leadership, just like now



Paul: Saving Our Asses

Hillary Clinton Momentarily Oblivious

Conversation With Governor Kaine On The Failed Smoking Ban

Quite recently, revolutionary breakthroughs in our understanding of physiology have led a sizable number of men of medicine to an understanding that burning tobacco fumes might not be so good for the humours. Realize this is the cutting edge.

In the last Virginia budget session, Governor Tim Kaine was pushing a ban in establishments where “vendors” serve food. That proposal sank primary because of a relatively close House of Delegates vote. Salem Representative Morgan Smith’s alternate proposal was that certain establishments could designate themselves “smoking permitted” by a sign near the entrance, and would then not have to accommodate non-smokers. Kaine then vetoed proposal.

I used to frequent Richmond’s Harrison St. Cafe until they voluntarily discontinued their smoking section about a year and a half ago. Surely many new customers made themselves at home at the time I walked out permanently. Molly Berg, a current daytime server at Harrison St. Cafe, did not believe that the change had hurt business at all. Berg liked the change for her own health. “The smokers just stand outside now,” she said.

By the time all was said at the Capitol without anything done, Tim Kaine’s optimism for his proposal next year did not seem forced. He was eager to discuss it.

TSB: What are your feelings about the failure of your smoking suggestion about restaurants?

TK: I think that it was a very valid and constructive debate.

TSB: Could this happen in the future?

TK: I felt confident that the issue is going to be back before the legislature next year. I learned early in my political life in Richmond that it’s often the case that you don’t get what you want the first time you ask for it. I would then suggest that persistence is a very valuable character trait, and I will definitely persist in this.

The Senate clearly would have supported the amendment – the way it was structured, that is – the house rejected the amendment so it never got to the senate. The votes in the senate were very clearly there to ban smoking in restaurants, and, in the House, forty congress members very definitely wanted to do it. And then the other 59, for a variety of reasons, voted against, but even in the hearing of the debate, it pointed out ways that we might be able to come at this again next year with a significant chance of success.

TSB: Were the special interests lobbying hard against it?

TK: Oh, of all kinds. I mean, some lobbied against it. Others did not do a direct lobby against it. They said, “Well, there’s all kinds of questions and confusions about this.” I view some of those arguments as kind of a red herring. But there were some legislators who I think expressed that they would support a ban of this kind or at least a ban that would be similar if they had some questions answered, and that gives us the opportunity over the next number of months to sit down with those folks and try to answer their questions and find out what they might support.

TSB: What kind of questions?

TK: Well, the issue that was raised, which you probably saw in the debate – some were saying, “Oh, this will stop there from being smoking at weddings and at the hot dog cart on the street.” Those were kind of ridiculous arguments, but they were kind of thrown our there at the end to try to cloud the subject up a little bit. And to the extent that the legislators had any concerns about those questions, that led some to vote against the amendment, but I think we can amply explain between now and next year that those concerns are not warranted, and that there is a way to do a restaurant ban that is a very targeted ban that won’t have the effect of being too broad.

Thursday Morning

Dear Friend,

I believe in solving problems with shows of military strength, not an unbearable series of apologies — from idealism, not realism.

I’ve seen the everyday pompousness and stubbornness of the Americans across our country. I’ve seen huxters and inheritors do everything but scrape and save, while giving in to corruption and fear. I’ve witnessed the funeral of morality and the rebirth of theft. I have good reason to believe in the American Lifestyle and the remarkable things we can achieve in the style of the ill-fated Roman Empire.

I am running for President because when I look to the future, I see a country where American are confident that the whole will see as they do, and the consequent destiny.

I will gladly suffer fools who disbelieve in our seizing my opportunity and mock my sharing a vision of how America can be worse. I want your help to begin that work today.

When I was first elected Mayor, we looked at the places where the City, or bureaucracy, or corruption, were taking away people’s dignity. We focused resources — we took on the problem with the state.