"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Like his right-wing rival Rush Limbaugh, Fox News star Bill O’Reilly has taken to equating some of his liberal nemeses with Nazi goose-steppers. From the June 10 broadcast of “The Radio Factor With Bill O’Reilly,” courtesy of online watchdog Media Matters for America:
“O’REILLY: Joseph Goebbels was the Minister of Propaganda for the Nazi regime and whose very famous quote was, ‘If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth.’ All right? ‘If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth.’
“And that’s what Stuart Smalley [a well-known Al Franken character from "Saturday Night Live"], and Michael Moore and all of these guys do. They just run around.”
Turning to a recent screening of Michael Moore’s much-hyped forthcoming film “Fahrenheit 9/11,” O’Reilly decided that a who’s-who of A-list Hollywood actors are also Nazi cheerleaders.
“O’REILLY: So who turns out for the screening of this movie last night? You ready? Now, here are the celebrities that turn out. Here are the people who would turn out to see Josef Goebbels convince you that Poland invaded the Third Reich. It’s the same thing, by the way. Propaganda is propaganda. OK?
“Billy Crystal. Martin Sheen. Leonardo DiCaprio. Ellen DeGeneres. David Duchovny. Sharon Stone. Meg Ryan. Ashton Kutcher. Demi Moore. Norman Lear. Rob Reiner. Jodie Foster. Chris Rock. Larry David. Jack Black. Matthew Perry. Diane Lane.”
Warming to his theme, O’Reilly later compared Hollywood liberals to infamous Nazi-propaganda filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl.
“O’REILLY: No, no, no, but I think it’s [the effort by some Hollywood celebrities to help defeat President George W. Bush] more organized than ever before and I think they [anti-Bush Hollywood celebrities] have more access to the media than ever before because the celebrity media, as I said, is so profitable and pervasive. So now it becomes a Leni Riefenstahl Third Reich propaganda proposition where what they say and do is put in everybody’s face.”
“Clearly, something is very wrong when inexperienced, poorly trained military reservists are allowed to run wild and abuse prisoners. Clearly, something is wrong when enormous mistakes are made in the occupation of a country whose defeat was a foregone conclusion. I mean everybody knew the USA would defeat Saddam, so why was the aftermath of the war so screwed up? Is this another intelligence failure? Is this a strategic failure on the part of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his team? We don’t know because Mr. Bush rarely holds anyone publicly accountable for doing his or her job poorly.”
“Bush outclasses the left”
That’s according to Atlanta talk radio host and longtime Clinton-basher Neal Boortz, who is applauding President Bush’s cordial conduct during Monday’s unveiling of the Clinton portraits at the White House. He says the Dems ought to learn a thing or two from the current president about dignity and tact.
“Yesterday, in a ceremony at The White House, the portraits of Bill and Hillary Clinton were unveiled at The White House. In attendance were former President Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton, along with several administration officials. Basically, it was a big reunion, though Monica Lewinsky was not invited.
“President Bush spoke at the event, praising President Clinton’s ‘energy and joy.’ He also said ‘Over eight years, it was clear Bill Clinton loved the job of the presidency. He filled this house with energy and joy.’ In other words, it was a completely non-political, positive event to honor the hanging of the official presidential portrait.
“Now, understand the setting: here you have George Bush, who ran for office against the Clinton administration promising to restore honor to the White House. These are ideological opposites. Yet, Republican President George Bush can set all of that aside and out of respect for the office of the presidency, have this ceremony.”
Boortz, overlooking the unruly Republican impeachment mob that made Clinton’s second term less than joyous, then cast a baleful eye on Al Gore’s recent scorching speeches against the Bush presidency.
“Contrast (Bush’s civility) with the remarks awhile back of Al Gore, who called on Bush’s entire cabinet to resign, and who has accused the president of being a liar and misleading the nation, among other things. The left loves to demonize Republicans for being hateful, but it sure looks like the other way around these days.
“This is the new face of politics. The Democrats are the new party of shrill, intolerant, uptight whiners, and there’s George Bush praising political rival Clinton while smiling, joking and having a good time.
“Now you tell me just who is mean-spirited?”
Boortz must have missed the coordinated GOP onslaught three weeks ago branding Al Gore as “insane.”
It’s the war, stupid
Reason Magazine’s boisterous editor Tim Cavanaugh is no card-carrying conservative, but his latest campaign prediction will no doubt delight the right. He writes off the recent polls giving John Kerry the lead, declaring that “Bush is a lock” in November.
“It doesn’t matter how much gas costs, how poorly things are going in Iraq, what new torture memos surface, or whether there are new terror attacks inside our borders. John Kerry hasn’t got a whore’s chance in a convent, Bush is going to kick his ass all over the United States, and when we see the results in November, the idea that anybody ever thought Kerry had a prayer will seem as quaint and absurd as the brief flurry of ‘excitement’ for Dukakis (or was it Kakdukis?) back in Old ’88.”
Kerry’s fate, in fact, has everything to do with the war, says Cavanaugh.
“When U.S. troops are in the field, the candidate perceived as more hawkish always wins … Even in 1972, when public opinion had supposedly shifted decisively against the war and it was clear to all that we were going to lose, Nixon vivisected McGovern — just on the promise of losing it a little more slowly than McGovern would have.”
Conservatives, however, will be less than happy with Cavanaugh’s assessment of the president and his popular appeal.
“Though I find Bush slightly (ever so slightly) less emetic than Kerry, he’s a crook, a stumblebum, and a lazy, mirthless little prince, and any country that would re-elect him deserves every bad thing that will happen to it.”
Send in more troops
What’s more dangerous: the streets of Baghdad or Los Angeles? No contest, says Bob Weir, a retired NYPD sergeant now living in Texas who contributes to the American Thinker blog.
“A recent ABC News special report had me wondering what country I’m living in. When I heard the opening remarks: ‘Homicides have risen dramatically as street gangs continue to terrorize the public,’ and ‘People are refusing to leave their homes for fear of attack by roving gangs,’ I had to listen closely for the location referred to because I expected it to be a report from Iraq, Latin America, or Afghanistan. Sadly, it is too often a domestic situation that rivals and even supersedes the criminal machinations of the aforementioned venues.”
Not only does L.A. need a lot more cops, says Weir, but also a tough mayor like Rudy Giuliani to back them.
“According to the FBI, membership in just one … notorious L.A. group, known as the 18th Street gang, is about 15,000, while the total gang membership is about 100,000. With a police force totaling about 10,000, it’s simple to draw the conclusion that we need to hire more cops. That often becomes the cry of police chiefs and mayors when the slaughter in the streets starts dominating the headlines.
“NYC has about 40,000 cops, yet crime is on the rise. They have more cops than many countries have soldiers in their combined military forces. It’s not the number of police that matters, it’s how effective they’re allowed to be. The crime in NYC went down when cops knew that Mayor Giuliani was supportive of them. Perhaps L.A. Mayor Hahn intends to emulate his former East Coast counterpart.”
Weir has no patience for those who are concerned about police brutality.
“Most people have unrealistic expectations of the police. They want them to look and behave like a bunch of boy scouts, and pacifists, but at the same time expect them to be tough enough to handle the grimiest, sleaziest, most violent prone Neanderthals that ever walked the Earth. While they’re chasing and/or rolling around the ground with some desperado that wouldn’t think twice about killing them, the cops have to be extra careful not to offend anyone’s sensibilities, because they might end up on the evening news as a precursor to a courtroom in which they become the defendants.
“I can hear the liberals screaming already: ‘The police must not use unnecessary force.’ No kidding? The problem is that the cop very often has less than a second to make a decision on what is ‘necessary,’ while his inquisitors will have weeks or months to determine the validity of his actions.
“It’s interesting that those complaints always come from people who have never faced off against a desperate criminal who had no intention of being arrested again without a fight. When a cop risks his or her life to put that kind of savage in a cage, he or she has very possibly saved your life — because tomorrow that savage would have been stalking you.”
Speaking of liberal howling, Bush critics are loudly charging that the administration is ensuring more urban violence by slashing funding for youth programs. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, for the upcoming budget year “the Bush administration has proposed reducing its national block-grant programs for combating youth violence by 40 percent, from $307 million to $180 million.”
Summer of hate?
Tech Central Station columnist Michael Totten says the Bay Area’s peace-and-love legacy is drowning in a wave of hatred over the war between the Israelis and Palestinians. He says virulent anti-Semitism is now disturbingly fashionable on the Berkeley campus.
“Over the past two and a half years Berkeley, California, has added radical Middle Eastern politics to its chic campus culture. The result isn’t pretty. A city that prides itself on tolerance and diversity is fast-becoming an epicenter of hate.
“A recent article called The Berkeley Intifada in the East Bay Express is an eye-opener for those who think Berkeley is still what it was. Violently anti-Semitic vandalism and graffiti is making a comeback. ‘It’s the Jews, stupid,’ was scratched into a 9/11 memorial. The glass door to Berkeley’s Hillel building was shattered by a hurled cinderblock. Just in case the message wasn’t clear, someone wrote ‘FUCK JEWS’ on the wall nearby. Swastikas were spray-painted on a campus building accompanied by a bilingual old world eliminationist death warrant: ‘Die, Juden.’”
Totten argues that political correctness has mutated into a monstrosity.
“Most of the students who promote a free Palestine don’t hate Jews, whatever they think of Israeli counter-terrorism. But they put up with hate in the ranks all the same. Even the more radical and racist Palestinian activists are ‘allies’ in the campus cause du jour …
“It’s bad enough that the torchbearers of Political Correctness compromised their honorable anti-racist principles with expediency and hypocrisy. But what’s left of Political Correctness is worse even than that … Ethnic and religious minorities are allowed to behave like skinheads. It looks as though the activist set expects hatemongering anti-social behavior from Muslim immigrants just as they expect a dog to pee on the rug. It’s the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ with a racial twist …
“Political Correctness is finished. What started out as intolerance of hate has become hatred’s enabler.”
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Read more of “Right Hook,” Salon’s weekly roundup of conservative commentary and analysis here.
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)