The Progressive Review

FOOTBALL & THE RISE OF AMERICAN IMPERIALISM Long before George Bush, and in the comfort of his den on Sunday afternoon, the author saw the American empire coming




THE RISE OF A LIBERAL ARISTOCRACY AND THE FALL OF AMERICA: The collapse of liberalism and what's it has cost the country

CIVIL SOCIETY: They say they want civil society; what they really want is for you to shut up. An uncivil look at the civil socialites. 

THE CLUB: How Washington really operates

THE AUTISTIC CONFEDERACY Why Washington doesn't work

Bentley ad

APRIL 2009



TMZ - The battleground is one of the most exclusive areas of Bev Hills, called Beverly Park, which is divided into Northern and Southern parts. The South Beverly Park Homeowners Association is suing the North BPHA -- the posher part where Barry Bonds, Rod Stewart, Sly Stallone and Denzel Washington reside -- because the hired help and others for the Southern masters have been blocked from entering on the North side. Housekeepers and gardeners have been forced to take a seven-mile detour to enter on the South.

JULY 2008


Forbes Burglars beware. There's a house not far from New York City that's waiting for you. Force entry through one of the bulletproof doors or windows and you'll trigger hidden shotguns loaded with non-lethal ammo. If somehow you're still standing, the owner can retreat to a hidden, fortified room where he can flood the rest of the house with tear gas.

Other security features include biometric scanners and trap doors. The fortress cost its owner (a prosperous hedge fund manager who we've agreed not to name) $10 million to build. It highlights just how concerned the ultra-wealthy are about their safety, and how much they're willing to pay to protect themselves. . .

Paranoid? Maybe not. The hedge fund manager mentioned above was once kidnapped during a trip overseas. Sears chairman and billionaire Eddie Lampert was abducted in 2003. Successful banker Ernest Rady was bound and shot with a stun gun during a robbery at his home last year.



TELEGRAPH, UK - According to therapists, being a super-millionaire is a sure-fire recipe for unhappiness. . . For some people, flying first class represents the height of luxury. But not Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, who has become the first person to buy an Airbus A380 superjumbo to use as a private jet. . . Another, anonymous, billionaire spent L83 million on a flat in the Richard Rogers Partnership's new Hyde Park development - which was double the going rate.

Such excessive spending might not be a sign of conspicuous consumption but of addiction. "For the super-rich, houses, yachts, cars and planes are like new toys that they play with for five minutes and then lose interest in," says psychoanalyst Manfred Kets de Vries, one of the new breed of therapists treating the angst of the very rich. "Pretty soon, to attain the same buzz they have to spend more money. All the spending is a mad attempt to cover up boredom and depression."


LOTTE JEFFS, GUARDIAN UK - Water - it's the new wine. At Claridge's, a "water menu" featuring more than 30 worldwide varieties is set to make a splash when it launches this month. Keep it simple with a L5 bottle of Tau from Wales, or for L20 experience the taste of New Zealand's finest volcanic springs. Gimmick? "Not at all," says Renaud Gregoire, Claridge's food and beverage director and my water sommelier. "I truly believe in the menu. I thought long and hard about it, and getting hold of waters from remote places was extremely challenging. It's taken me 10 months to perfect."

First I try Berg - iceberg water from Newfoundland. It's poured with such reverence that I'm compelled to give it a sniff, before swirling it around my mouth. It tastes like a glass of water: cold, wet, and tasteless. Maybe comparing it to Cloud Juice (9,750 drops of rainwater from Tasmania) will help. It's a bit earthier maybe, but I struggle to find anything more to say than: "Mmm ... refreshing.". . .


MAY 2007


PETER CARLSON, WASHINGTON POST - Country club prisons just aren't the same since they started letting the riffraff in. Back in the good old days, when a nice, respectable white-collar criminal went to federal prison, he could do his time playing tennis with crooked pols, embezzling bankers, book-cooking accountants and other high-class folks. Not anymore. Now, Club Fed admits all kinds of lowlifes.

"Despite widespread perceptions to the contrary, minimum security prison camps are not reserved for former congressmen and CEOs," writes Luke Mullins in the May-June issue of the American magazine. Now, these once-prestigious country club prisons are places "where the nation's elite -- professionals, politicians, corporate executives -- live alongside the indigent foot soldiers of the drug trade."

The folks at the American seem saddened by this egalitarian trend, but that's not surprising. The American is published by the American Enterprise Institute, the famous Washington-based right-wing think tank. In a perverse way, it's heartwarming to know that the AEI's devotion to the welfare of the rich does not stop when the rich are convicted of multiple felonies and shipped to the slammer.


ATRIOS - Radio host Rush Limbaugh is far from conservative when it comes to his big appetite. The[New York?] Post's Braden Keil reports that Limbaugh and a female companion lived large at Kobe Club last Thursday night, devouring bacon with truffles, Japanese strip steak, Kobe beef cheek ravioli, a large seafood platter, a combo of American, Australian and Japanese wagyu steaks and several "side" dishes. After finishing their $700 feast, Limbaugh left the server a $1,000 tip. On a previous night, Limbaugh and another female friend were spotted by patrons sharing a $4,000 bottle of wine at '21.



BAHRAIN TRIBUNE - Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are reportedly set to marry at the World War II hideout of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. The date for the couple's nuptials has been confirmed as the weekend of Friday November 17 to Sunday November 19 and it was initially reported that the pair were going to tie the knot at George Clooney's Italian villa at Lake Como. It has now been claimed that Tom and Katie are actually going to wed at Italy's lavish Villa Feltrinelli hotel which overlooks Lake Garda. Katie, 27, is believed to have chosen the location after falling in love with it during a trip to the area with close friend Victoria Beckham - the wife of soccer superstar David. The 19th Century building was used by fascist dictator Mussolini to hide from the Allied forces during the war, but the hotel's colored history didn't put off the 'Batman Begins' actress. A source told Britain's Daily Express newspaper: "Katie recently visited the hotel with Victoria and fell in love with it instantly. It's an ideal place for Tom and her to tie the knot because it's hidden away by dense greenery on the landward side, while the view on the opposite side which overlooks the lake is stunning. Katie was made aware that Mussolini used it as a war-time base, but she seemed more interested in the fact that the likes of Grace Kelly had stayed there."



YLAN Q. MUI, WASHINGTON POST -Kira Lieberman has more pairs of shoes than there are days in the year. She knows this because she, a 29-year-old political consultant, and her husband are moving out of their Georgetown row`house, and she counted them all. She has 371 pairs of shoes bearing labels such as Chanel, Prada and Chloe, plus 24 pairs of boots. "Actually, 25," she said recently, interrupting herself. "I just bought a pair today." The newest addition to her collection is a pair of black Chanel booties with the logo in silver. Price tag, $1,060. . .

Lieberman is part of a burgeoning cadre of Washington area fashionistas who are squashing the region's stodgy reputation under their four-inch stilettos. Christian Louboutin platform slingbacks are showing up at trendy restaurants such as Zengo. Manolo Blahniks are clicking on the marble floors of staid government buildings. And Gucci is even making a cameo in school hallways.. .


NEWS, AUSTRALIA - Owners of the Indie Spice restaurant in Belfast will make what is otherwise a normal delivery - except for one thing - it's headed to New York. The Times reported that the order will be blast-chilled before leaving and packed in dry ice so that it only needs to be heated up on arrival across the Atlantic. Half of the food will arrive from the restaurant's Dublin branch by private jet, where the rest of the order will be picked up and flown to London. From London, the food, which will be accompanied by one of the owners of the restaurant and the other owner's wife, will board a Virgin Atlantic flight to New York. It will be met there by a limousine that will take them to a private party in Manhattan. . . Including all the transportation costs, however, the price rises to more than $15,000. "At first I thought someone was messing us about but it turned out it wasn't a wind-up (joke)," Arif Ahmed, one of the restaurant's owners, told The Times. . . "It took us a couple of days to ensure it wasn't a hoax". . . Francis, who heads the Stush Music record company, is holding a private dinner for a young soul singer, called Heather Park, who is apparently a big fan of Indian food, his caterers told The Times. The newspaper said it could not contact Francis.


BAHRAIN TRIBUNE - Nicole Kidman outraged hotel staff by demanding all the light bulbs in her suite were changed. The Stepford Wives actress demanded the 60 watt bulbs were swapped for less powerful 40 watt ones, during her stay at the swanky Dorchester hotel, in London, England. The softer lighting is said to be just one of several diva-like requests the Hollywood star made for the L1,700-a-night suite, where she was staying with her husband, country singer Keith Urban. Nicole also reportedly demanded an air humidifier, an exercise machine with a wobble board and a treadmill.


JULY 2006


REUTERS - Houston's political and business leaders, including former President George H.W. Bush, turned out for Kenneth Lay's memorial service Wednesday, less than a week after the Enron founder's sudden death. Friends and family lauded as a devout Christian and family leader the man who built Enron into an international energy powerhouse before its collapse in the biggest corporate scandal of its time.

Lay's stepson David Herrold told the nearly full First United Methodist Church that Lay was wrongly convicted, and he was angry about the portrayals of his stepfather in the media. "He did have a strong faith in God and I know he's in heaven, and I'm glad he's not in a position anymore to be whipped by his enemy," Herrold said. . .

Lay was a longtime friend of the Bushes, contributing to their political campaigns and was nicknamed "Kenny Boy" by President George W. Bush. The former president and his wife Barbara entered and exited the church by a rear exit and did not speak to the media.

MAY 2006


[The so-called Visitors Center, aka congressional bunker, is currently priced at over $500 million. We're keeping you up to date on what amounts to a million buck political storm cellar for each member of Congress]

SUBTOPIA - Visitor Center, Capitol Bunker, whatever you want to call it, looks pretty obvious Washington planners are bracing for a future subterranean vacation, and this one is closer to home than ever. It almost sounds like a private little slice of Vegas tunneled down there on the Capitol doorstep; an instant paradise poured into concrete - underground pavilions, buried media arcades, chambers within chambers, in short, posh new atomic architecture; or Washington's new Survival City.

[Tom] Vanderbilt[author of Survival City] reminds me of this Lewis Mumford quote, "The masters of the underground citadel are committed to a 'war' they cannot bring to an end, with weapons whose ultimate effects they cannot control, for purposes they cannot accomplish." Read the chapter, The Underground City, for a tour of the nation's congresional bunker spaces built over the last several decades.

At the end, Vanderbilt writes about the lasting legacies of the Cold War: an architecture of conspiracy: "The subterranean state and the black budget created a world without walls and without boundaries -- everything was possible, everything potentially connected -- and, in the absence of visible lines of power, the paranoid draftsman steps in, sketching an Escher-like world of interlocking secret tunnels and furtive conduits of power. In such darkness, the only light to guide the way is fervent, unblinking belief in disbelief. Whenever a space is opened or a document declassified, the inherent Cold War logic states that this must have occurred only because there is some other space, some other document, buried even deeper, belonging to an even more secret agency, that remains out of view."


SURVIVAL CITY: Highlighting the Cold War era's obsession with what Vanderbilt calls "constant protection from an invisible threat," this is a fascinating political and cultural analysis of "cold war architecture": a vast array of structures from missile silos to small towns built to test the effectiveness of an atomic blast, presidential fallout shelters, nuclear waste dumps, monoliths like the windowless Pac Bell building in Los Angeles, and countless motels and diners named "Atomic." The physical structures that resulted from Cold War ideology and politics also had far deeper and extensive psychological and emotional implications and ramifications: "the domestication of doomsday." Mixing first-person narrative of his travels around the U.S. in search of Cold War sites and objects with an extensive accumulation of provocative historical facts ("the U.S. Air Force bombing raids on Tokyo exacted a higher cost in lives and property" than the later atomic bombings), Vanderbilt takes great pains to reveal the Cold War policies behind the scattered remnants he encounters.


JUDI HASSON, FEDERAL COMPUTER WEEK - RTKL, the architecture firm handling the project, states on its Web site that strengthened security, with a respect for free public access, is a design priority. "The building would have to be fitted with state-of-the-art technology in order to deliver adequate security measures, material protection and multimedia use," according to RTKL's statement. The Capitol Police declined to comment on whether the facility is secure against bombs, nuclear threats, or biological and chemical incidents. Although the center contains supplies of gas masks, officials declined to say how many.

In the absence of official acknowledgment, speculation has focused on the lowest of the structure's three levels. "There's obviously a bunker there," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org. "How could it be otherwise? They've got a bunker at the White House, and there's a bunker out at Camp David. There are many scenarios under which you would not have time to get the Congress out of town."

"I think it's safe to say that there are security-related features that are likely to be located on the lower level," said Steven Aftergood, an analyst at the Federation of American Scientists who specializes in security policy. "It's hard to imagine that security was not foremost in the mind of the architect and planners.". . .

The 580,000-square-foot center includes four bombproof skylights that allow visitors to see magnificent views of the Capitol dome. . .

In a tour conducted for Federal Computer Week, Fontana described some of the visitor center's state-of-the-art, high-tech equipment. For example, it includes cable lines that conform to tougher combustibility standards than national requirements. . .


WEEKLY STANDARD, 2003 - Forget the cost for a moment. Among all the plans to burrow out a prairie-dog town under Washington, the worst remains the Capitol Visitor Center, which is an aesthetic disaster of astonishing proportions. It closes off to the public the elegant symbol of democracy in the east front stairs. It insists that the proper way to visit the Capitol is by passing through five acres of underground bunker (a larger footprint than the Capitol's). And, perhaps worst of all, it will turn a trip to the home of Congress into a multimedia extravaganza in which the tourist never gets to the Capitol itself-screened off by theaters, gift shops, a cafeteria, and a 16,500- square-foot gallery.

APRIL 2006



JACQUELINE TRESCOTT WASHINGTON POST - The Smithsonian's Office of the Inspector General is looking into the executive compensation and accounting practices of Smithsonian Business Ventures, the division of the institution that operates its retail and publishing enterprises. Inspector General Debra Ritt notified SBV Chief Executive Officer Gary M. Beer that she was starting an audit of how the salary and bonus levels of its managers are established and whether those payments met the agreements set by the Board of Regents. . . CEO Beer earned $525,000, according to the Smithsonian's 2003 tax return, the latest one available to the public. Lawrence Small, secretary of the Smithsonian, earned $813,000, according to the return, including a housing allowance. The top salary for civil service employees is $162,000.



FRANK AHRENS AND PETER SLEVIN WASHINGTON POST - Disgraced international press tycoon Conrad M. Black, who stepped down as head of his media empire in 2004 after he and other executives were accused of looting the company, was indicted Thursday on eight counts of wire and mail fraud. U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said Black -- who renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 to accept a British lordship -- "lived large" off of company shareholders, helping to steal $51.8 million from Hollinger International Inc., which owns the Chicago Sun-Times and once owned the Jerusalem Post, London's Daily Telegraph and hundreds of smaller newspapers in the United States and Canada. . .

The company-funded lifestyle enjoyed by Black and his political columnist wife, Barbara Amiel Black, is notable, even compared with the excesses of other top executives of the era, many since indicted or jailed. The Rigas family, which controlled cable company Adelphia Communications Corp., used company money to build a golf course. Former Tyco International Ltd. chief executive J. Dennis Kozlowski threw elaborate parties at company expense. Former HealthSouth chairman Richard M. Scrushy used company money to buy a Lamborghini, fly friends to the Grammy Awards and promote a band, a shareholder lawsuit claims. Scrushy was acquitted by a jury of criminal fraud charges. . .


STEPHANIE MCCRUMMEN, WASHINGTON POST - In the two years since they moved into their voluminous 8,000-square-footer on the edge of Virginia's suburbs, the Bennett family has not once used their formal dining room, where the table is eternally set for eight with crystal, an empty tea set and two unlighted candles. Not even guests use the palmy, bamboo morning room beyond it; and the museum-like space Bonnie Bennett calls the Oriental Room -- all black lacquer and inlaid pearl, fur, satin and swirling mahogany -- is also gloriously superfluous. "It's kind of stupid, because we never sit in here," said Bennett, 32, who bought the largest house she could for the investment. But she carried around a crumpled photo of the furniture for eight years, and now that she has space for it, she admires it as others might a work of art. "It's just me ," she said. . .

In a way, the green frontiers of suburbia are imprinted with visions of perpetual self-improvement in the form of ever-expanding houses that seem at times dreamed into existence, as builders have honed their ability to anticipate people's desires. And so when Alyson Skinner wanted a bigger house on 10 acres in western Prince William County, there it was. . .

AUGUST 2005. . ..


TIMES, UK - Members of Britain's elite have been selected as priority cases to receive scarce pills and vaccinations at the taxpayers' expense if the country is hit by a deadly bird flu outbreak. Workers at the BBC and prominent politicians - such as cabinet ministers - would be offered protection from the virus. Ken Livingstone, the London mayor, has already spent L1m to make sure his personal office and employees have their own emergency supplies of 100,000 antiviral tablets.

If there is an avian flu pandemic in the coming months there would be enough drugs to protect less than 2% of the British population for a week.

The Department of Health has drawn up a priority list of those who would be first to receive lifesaving drugs. Top of the list are health workers followed by those in key public sector jobs. Although senior government ministers would be among the high-priority cases, the department said this weekend that it had not decided whether to include opposition politicians.




SALLIE HOFMEISTER, LA TIMES, BIG SKY MT - There's no dry cleaner here, no carwash, nowhere to get a blow dry or a manicure. Looking for a sushi restaurant? You'll have to settle for a buffalo burger at the Corral Bar. The closest place to park your private plane is at the airport in Bozeman, an hour's drive down a two-lane road. Big Sky is no Aspen, Colo. But the super rich are flocking here anyway.

The lure: the Yellowstone Club, a private, millionaires-only resort community whose amenities more than make up for Big Sky's lack of a traffic light or a designer boutique. Occupying 22 square miles of mostly wilderness, it's the only private club in the U.S. with its own ski mountain and world-class golf course. . .

"Sometimes you have to pay to play," says the Yellowstone Club's website, which explains that in exchange for an initiation fee of $250,000, a required property purchase of $1 million to $10 million and annual dues of $16,000, members enjoy a gated wonderland that offers 40 hiking and biking trails, rivers perfect for fly-fishing and an 18-hole course designed by former pro Tom Weiskopf, who is a member. So few skiers use the 2,700 feet of vertical slopes that a blizzard can take weeks to pack down, guaranteeing so much untracked snow that the club has trademarked the slogan "Private Powder."



RICHARD LEIBY'S list of special deals for Inauguration attendees:

- The Fairmont's "President for a Day" -- or rather, four days (must stay four nights between Jan. 17 and 21). Includes: Two actors posing as Secret Service agents to "guard" you during your stay, Beluga caviar and Dom Perignon "state reception" for 10 in the presidential suite, chauffeured Rolls-Royce to and from an inaugural ball, in-room massages and other salon services for "The President" and "First Lady." Price: $10,000 per night. (Still available.)

- "The Hay-Adams Inauguration Package," four nights, Jan. 19-23. Includes: Cristal champagne upon arrival, a Cadillac sedan on call 24 hours, in-room salon services for one day, presidential cuff links and a Tiffany commemorative keepsake. Price: $25,000 (sorry, this one is booked).

o The Ritz-Carlton's "Presidential Package 2005," four nights, Jan. 17-21. Includes: First-class airfare to and from Washington; a $20,000 set of luggage from Saks Fifth Avenue, packed before you travel by a hotel-supplied butler; 24-hour on-call chauffeur and personal massage therapist; "daily selection from the hotel's extensive menu of butler-drawn baths"; his and hers ballroom garb from Saks, including white gold diamond earrings and necklace; two tickets to one of the official inaugural balls -- and two weekend stays per year until Inauguration 2009. Price: $150,000 (available).

o The Mandarin Oriental's "Presidential Privilege 2005," four nights, Jan. 17-21. Includes: Private jet service to and from D.C.; guest's choice of chauffeured Maybach, Rolls-Royce or Hummer for duration of visit; a private dinner for eight guests; 20 "Washington-based movies" on DVD; daily supplies of Krug champagne and Beluga caviar; tickets to an inaugural event; designer fashions from Neiman Marcus, including (for her) an Oscar de la Renta gown, Manolo Blahnik shoes, a mink coat, and (for him) a Kiton tuxedo, David Yurman cuff links and 18-carat gold Cartier watch. And an American flag, flown over the U.S. Capitol. Price: $200,500 (still available!).

JULY 2004



Membership: 2,700 (1 member per acre)

Waiting list: 3,000

Average number of years on waiting list: 15 to 20

Slogan: "Weaving Spiders Come Not Here."

Books to read about it: "The Bohemian Grove" by G. William Domhoff and "The Greatest Men's Party on Earth" by John van der Zee.

Accept minorities: Yes, especially if they can play an instrument.

Best place to spy: Put your canoe in the Russian River at Northwood, just west of Johnson's Beach in Guerneville, and head downstream past their floating boathouse. The Bohemians couldn't buy the whole river. One suspects they are irked by this fact.


PETER PHILLIPS, COUNTERPUNCH, 2003 - The collective corporate stock ownership by members and guests conservatively exceeds $100 billion.

During the summer of 2003 the men at the Bohemian Grove heard off-the-record presentations -no media is allowed - from William F. Buckley Jr., William Safire, Charles Murray, George Shultz, Michael York and Charlie Rose. Additionally, there were daily lectures from world-class experts on global warming, war policy, school vouchers, mad deer disease, horse racing, stem cell research, terrorism, American-Russian relations, and marine ecosystem. Concerts, plays, and daily parties rounded out the two-week session for 2003.

On June 4, 1994 a presentation at the Grove from a University of California Berkeley professor stressed that, elites are important and must set the values for society that are translated into "standards of authority," and that elites cannot allow the "unqualified masses" to carry out policy. The speech was given an enthusiastic standing ovation by the over 1,000 men present and seemed to represent the feelings of many club members.




In 1989, Malcolm Forbes and Caspar Weinberger traveled to the Grove on Forbes' jet, which had Forbes' motto, "Capitalist Tool" printed on its tail.


COUNTERPUNCH, 2001 - Some years ago a gay writer called Ron Bluestein described his stint waitering at the Grove in a very funny pamphlet, "A Waitress in Bohemia," in which he evoked the below-the-stairs homosexual culture fostered by a workforce mostly recruited from San Francisco. Some anthropologists of Boho culture even believe that the Grove is now encircled with gay residential suburbs that have inevitably sprung up to accommodate these migrants.

Informed sources discount these stories somewhat. Of course there are gay waiters and gay bohemians too, discreetly cruising River Road, but it seems that it was back in the 1970s things got somewhat out of hand. The Club took certain measures and things are now under control.

Along with its most definitely closet contingent, the club also has about 2,000 heterosexuals cooped up for the summer retreat, with no women officially on the premises except for a daily minibus of female cleaners -- the consequence of a lawsuit brought by feminists a few years ago -- which can go no farther into the Grove than the Camp Fire circle, 400 yards from the Main Gate. Randy members break bounds and head for such straight cruising spots as the Northwood Lodge and Country Club where vigorously bejeweled women in their thirties are to be found

A few years ago KGO radio, out of San Francisco, had an interesting talk show in which callers with first-hand Grove experience told their tales. A man from Monte Rio said he was only one of several towns-people renting cabins every year to prostitutes traveling from as far as Las Vegas to renew the Bohos' spiritual fibers. He said it was a big shot in the arm for Monte Rio's ailing economy. This same caller moved from shots in the arm to shots in another location. He said he stocked his cabins with plenty of booze as well as syringes of a potency drug recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration which furnishes four to six-hour erections.


One of the ways that social climbing journalists improve their status is by repeatedly proving their devotion to the mindless center. Over the past few decades the permissible public variation from this center has become ever less, leaving us with the anomaly of a country that is in deep trouble but not permitted to talk about it. One recent example was the Washington Post's Dana Milbank placing Ralph Nader on the far left, particularly ignorant given Nader's courting of the Perot vote yet a signal that Milbank will do nothing to challenge the Washington certainty that Bush and Kerry represent the outer range of acceptable political choices.

A classic work of this disingenuous genre comes now from the New York Times, where Nicholas Kristof attacks those who call Bush a "liar" yet immediately turns around and labels anyone who disagrees with his childishly narrow view of the world as "conspiracy theorists." Beyond such hypocrisy, note that he relies almost entirely on ex cathedra judgments thus saving himself the trouble of actually debating the people he is criticizing:

NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, NY TIMES - Plenty of Americans think so. Bookshops are filled with titles about Mr. Bush like "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them," "Big Lies," "Thieves in High Places" and "The Lies of George W. Bush."

A consensus is emerging on the left that Mr. Bush is fundamentally dishonest, perhaps even evil - a nut, yes, but mostly a liar and a schemer. That view is at the heart of Michael Moore's scathing new documentary, "Farenheit 9/11."

In the 1990's, nothing made conservatives look more petty and simple-minded than their demonization of Bill and Hillary Clinton, who were even accused of spending their spare time killing Vince Foster and others. Mr. Clinton, in other words, left the right wing addled. Now Mr. Bush is doing the same to the left. For example, Mr. Moore hints that the real reason Mr. Bush invaded Afghanistan was to give his cronies a chance to profit by building an oil pipeline there.

I'm against the "liar" label for two reasons. First, it further polarizes the political cesspool, and this polarization is making America increasingly difficult to govern. Second, insults and rage impede understanding. Lefties have been asking me whether Mr. Bush has already captured Osama bin Laden, and whether Mr. Bush will plant W.M.D. in Iraq. Those are the questions of a conspiracy theorist, for even if officials wanted to pull such stunts, they would be daunted by the fear of leaks.

NY POST - [Gay porn star] Chad Savage is working as a valet at Bohemian Grove, the all-male annual gathering inside a 2,700-acre redwood forest in Monte Rio, Calif., that has been attended by every Republican president since Calvin Coolidge, as well as by industrial titans and media magnates

MAY 2004

JIM KIRK, CHICAGO TRIBUNE - Barbara Amiel-Black, wife of press baron Conrad Black, liked to tip the doorman at posh New York clothing retailer Bergdorf Goodman--and then expense it to her husband's company, Sun-Times owner Hollinger International Inc. Chicago-based Hollinger also paid $90,000 to refurbish a 1958 Rolls-Royce limousine that the couple used to tool around London in high style.

In the life of the formerly powerful publishing couple, such perks were routine, according to new allegations in Hollinger's lawsuit against the couple and other former executives. For many years, Black, his wife and other executives used Hollinger as a

APRIL 2004


NY TIMES - Brighton's nine-day $2,295 program at the University of California, Los Angeles and Tufts is the shortest and least expensive of the three. The June session at U.C.L.A. is nearly full, though there are still plenty of openings in the August sessions both at the California campus and Tufts. All three programs include preparation for the SAT, writing essays and guidance on college selection, interview tips and college visits.

MARCH 2004


LIBBY COPELAND WASHINGTON POST - Friend Swap, the matchmaking party devoted to the young and powerful of Washington, is a singles scene that favors suit jackets over bare shoulders and business cards over lipsticked napkins. This is as it should be, really -- mature, methodical dating for mature, methodical people. They are overachievers, 80 percent of whom have graduate degrees, the sort of people who, asked to describe themselves, offer their Myers-Briggs personality types. The group was founded in 2002 by a Harvard lawyer, and before this year was called Harvard Hotties FriendSwap. When the organizers throw their yearly party, smart young lawyers walk in and discover themselves surrounded by smart young lawyers. This is generally regarded as a good thing. One smart young lawyer praised a FriendSwap party as "a room full of people who were pretty much like me." . . . If you can push through the well-behaved crowd, abundant -- perhaps slightly more than the general population -- with men of below-average height, you'll find a remarkable fellow named Dan Prieto. He has designed an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the 15 women who've been selected for him as possible love matches. The spreadsheet lists the women's jobs, hobbies and physical characteristics, and ranks them on a scale he devised of 1 to 3. Prieto, 35, uses it as a crib sheet for his conversations tonight with the women, whom he has scheduled at regular intervals. "I made appointments every half-hour," says Prieto, who works on Capitol Hill. The idea for the spreadsheet came naturally to him, he says, because he used to be an investment banker. The principles of finance, it seems, are not so different from the principles of dating.

IAN URBINA, VILLAGE VOICE - This Saturday, more than a thousand of America's top military and government leaders and their guests are scheduled to gather at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., for a secretive tribal rite called the 103rd Annual Wallow of the Military Order of the Carabao. . . The exclusive Military Order of the Carabao (named after the mud-loving water buffalo) was founded in 1900 by American officers fighting in the Philippines, so naturally there will be a lot of singing and cigar smoking by the 99.9 percent male crowd. Recent guests have included Colin Powell and General Richard B. Myers, current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many of the country's top military leaders are listed as members. (You have to be an officer to even be considered for membership.) Acting like a cluster of Klingons, the guys will toss around revered imperial slogans, such as "Civilize 'em with a Krag!" referring to the rifles used by Americans to kill thousands of Filipinos, who had fought Spain for their freedom and didn't want to be handed over to another colonial power.

And there will be rousing speeches, like last year's address by top honoree James Schlesinger, the Nixon-era CIA director and defense secretary, who decades later is still an influential hawk urging a new war with Iraq. . . An aide to Schlesinger told the Voice late last week that Schlesinger said he recalls saying, "You know, General Sherman had it all wrong. It's not war that's hell, it's peace that's hell." The aide added that Schlesinger didn't have time to talk further about the Wallow but that what he told the crowd was a "humorous remark made in reference to the defense budgetary situation.". . .

The Carabaos rarely rear their heads in public, even though war correspondents can be chosen as "associates" and a few mainstream reporters attend their events. But a guest who had been attending the Wallow for several years was fully debriefed right after the 2002 bash last February and furnished the evening's seating chart, song lyrics, and other documents.


JOHN MCCASLIN, WASHINGTON TIMES The multimillion-dollar renovation of the State Department's headquarters continues, with the cafeteria reopening last week and touting several new fancy menu items: oysters Rockefeller, clams casino, shrimp, mussels, calamari, stuffed crab, crab cakes, souvlaki, Greek salads and stromboli baked in a "state-of-the-art" brick oven.


NY DAILY NEWS - Miami's finest are claiming [Jennifer]Lopez demanded that they donate security services during her recent trip to their city. "Lopez's people said since they paid a lot in taxes, we should give them officers," Miami Beach Police spokesman Detective Bobby Hernandez told the Miami New Times. "I had to explain that there are a lot of people with money here. They have to hire off-duty officers like everyone else."



PETER PHILLIPS, PROJECT CENSORED - San Francisco Bohemian Club members and guests from around the world recently completed two weeks of celebration, self entertainment and partying at their private 2,700 acre redwood retreat on the Russian River in Sonoma County, California. Described as the "Greatest Men's Party on Earth," the members of the Club and international elites have been gathering in their redwoods for over 100 years. . . The San Francisco Bohemian Club is unique among private men's clubs in that it holds an annual 16-day summer encampment where the 2,400 members are free to invite several hundred distinguished business associates and guests from around the world. . . The collective corporate stock ownership by members and guests conservatively exceeds $100 billion.

. . . During the summer of 2003 the men at the Bohemian Grove heard off-the-record presentations - no media is allowed - from William F. Buckley Jr., William Safire, Charles Murray, George Shultz, Michael York and Charlie Rose. Additionally, there were daily lectures from world-class experts on global warming, war policy, school vouchers, mad deer disease, horse racing, stem cell research, terrorism, American-Russian relations, and marine ecosystem. Concerts, plays, and daily parties rounded out the two-week session for 2003.

On June 4, 1994 a presentation at the Grove from a University of California Berkeley professor stressed that, elites are important and must set the values for society that are translated into "standards of authority," and that elites cannot allow the "unqualified masses" to carry out policy. The speech was given an enthusiastic standing ovation by the over 1,000 men present and seemed to represent the feelings of many club members.







NEWS, AUSTRALIA - Supermodel Elle Macpherson has reportedly lined her baby's cot with lead to shield him from cosmic rays on planes. Macpherson, 40, allegedly also used foil blankets to shield herself and sons Flynn, five, and Aurelius, 12 weeks, from radiation, British newspaper The Sun said today. The lingerie designer is said to have spent thousands of pounds on the custom-built cot, which Macpherson's partner Arpad Busson carried aboard a British Airways flight from the Bahamas to London recently.


LAURA SESSIONS STEPP, WASHINGTON POST - On the first morning of Camp CEO, in an open-air pavilion surrounded by fragrant pines and more than a few mosquitoes, a corporate veteran named Gail Deegan hit her Girl Scouts with a subject that both intrigues and frightens girls. "Money," said Deegan, former chief financial officer at Houghton Mifflin publishing, "is not a dirty word."

They were a mixed bunch, these 19 campers, black and white, going into grades 8 through 11, drawn from Boston and its suburbs, several supported by scholarships to attend one of the few Girl Scout camps in the nation devoted to business. . .



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