MUGGER: You wrote, "Why would Bush, who was described by Helen Thomas as the worst president in American history, give her the time of day?"("MUGGER", 3/19) Class, MUGGER, class. Something you would realize if you would just take the time to separate your lips from Dubya's sphincter where they've been crazy-glued for what seems like an eternity. When are you going to admit that we're being led by an asshole?
César Díaz, Denia, Spain
Qs & No As
HEY, since MUGGER loves to yap on and on about every subject he doesn't know shit about, could you get him to answer a few questions I have ("MUGGER", 3/19)?
Isn't W. Bush's attack on Iraq a body blow to the right wing and Bush himself? Because they are all exclaiming that Daddy Bush failed!
Isn't the game already over for Bush, in the eyes of twits like MUGGER and other Republicans? Because as our commander-in-chief, how did his promise of catching Osama go? And didn't he fail us as commander in chief on September 11th? (Not just in CIA/FBI fuck-ups, but also on the matter of no military jets intercepting the hijacked airliners, as is the protocol, and other strange failures.)
Didn't Bush insist his humongous tax cuts would turn our economy around? Didn't his daddy ridicule this totally failed Reaganomics as "voodoo economics"? And didn't history already prove Reaganomics as a total failure? Or will MUGGER say that trickle-down economics works as we see from how much richer the working poor got in the 80s? Do MUGGER and other right-wing dorks suggest that the tax cuts did, in fact, turn our economy around? The biggest tax cuts in history should equal the biggest economic boom in history, no?
Hasn't every single thing Bush has said so far turned out to be false? Whether you like him or not, he's flip-flopped every single time. Why does MUGGER like lying, failed politicians so much?
Janice Amato, Manhattan
Mike Signorile: I am appalled at the arrogance of the president ("The Gist"). Who made him God? With all the advice from the religious leaders against war, would he ignore the people he thinks he is a part of (except the Catholics) and do a thing that will kill many of our troops and innocent victims? He could not even get the approval of the U.N. to start this war, and he ignored all advice. The inspectors were making progress and the president should have supported the idea of saving the world a lot of heartache. I support the troops and think one man should not put them in harm's way. This president is just not doing the right thing here.
Mary Harness, Hamlet, IN
MUGGER's column ("MUGGER", 3/19) slammed Matt Taibbi's earlier New York Press article ("Cage Match," 3/12) in which he posited that the White House required pre-approval of all questions asked at the recent Bush press conference. Smith rebuked Taibbi with the putdown: "Not that he had a shred of evidence to back up that charge." Curiously, Smith's same column offered the statement that Saddam Hussein was involved with al Qaeda in planning the 9/11 attacks. Funny, but I don't seem to recall seeing any shreds of evidence backing that claim. If anything, the Bush administration's argument that Saddam and al Qaeda were in union has never been supported with a public display of irrefutable data or photographic proof. Perhaps Smith has a shred of evidence that he would like to share with the public? If so, he'd be giving us more than the Bush administration has to date.
Phil Hall, Manhattan
NYP Year 0
MUGGER: Is 1988 your birth date? Your column ("MUGGER", 3/19) could have been written by a 15-year-old trying to ape Bill O'Reilly.
Joseph E. Maglitta, Cambridge, MA
To the Matt
Thanks to Matt Taibbi for his hilarious take on the pornographic speculations of much of the press on the Elizabeth Smart case ("Cage Match," 3/19). Of course Bill O'Reilly wants to know all the salacious details about this 15-year-old girl held captive by a lunatic fundamentalist. Since O'Reilly is a fundamentalist himself, I'm betting he identifies strongly with Brian Mitchell; he obviously blames the victim for not escaping sooner. As for the rest of them, lightweights Dan Abrams and Connie Chung and the rest, one wishes it were not so, but they are puppets of the corporations that own NBC, CBS, ABC, et al. Only the lazy listen to the news put out by these corporations. Unfortunately it seems that the lazy comprise the majority.
Theresa McCarthy, Petoskey, MI
We, Like, Totally Apologize
In Armond White's Willard review ("Film," 3/19) he totally said that in Gremlins, the evil gremlin's name was Scar. This is wrong. The evil gremlin was named Stripe because of the white mohawk-like white stripe on his head. Scar was the evil brother in The Lion King. Coincidentally though, in the 1951 movie, Arizona Manhunt, Stuart Randall's character is named "Scar Willard." So go figure, 52 years later a mistake in a review will connect the two. Coincidence, or pants commercial?
Martin Farrell, Huntington, WV
Driving on the Left
MUGGER: If there were a left-leaning media in this country, I wouldn't have to know who Ann fucking Coulter is ("MUGGER", 3/19). These people who think the media is left-wing, they think Bill Clinton is left-wing (a mildly interesting social democrat, no more left-wing than Bill O'Reilly). They think Bill O'Reilly is middle of the road. I always trust news that tells me how honest it is being. Don't you?
Peter Smith, St. Petersburg, FL
Bring the Pain, Jerseyboy
Michelangelo Signorile's compliance in helping the DNC promote various anticonservative boycotts could come back to haunt New York Press ("The Gist," 3/5). Similar efforts like those being directed against Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh can easily be directed against the Press by people like me. There are many people like me who think the current Press is far inferior to what it was in past years but we have not yet put the paper down for good. It already looks to me like the Press is thinner than it used to be. Before it gets too thin to print, please inform the DNC lackeys like Signorile that the Press should not be promoting boycotts and should actively discourage them.
Stuart Scheer, Cresskill, NJ
Mike Signorile: Always good to see one of your columns ("The Gist," 3/19). You've been a ray of light in the otherwise dark year of our lord George W., and you're to be thanked. I regret to inform you, however, that all institutions upon which the individual(s) could at one time rely for the maintenance of global/regional/national balance are now, like "Mistah Kurtz," fully, finally and permanently "dead." The U.N. is dead. The courts are dead. International treaties are dead. The Congress is dead. The power of the vote is dead. Church is alive, which is the same as saying free thought is dead. The JDAMs and MOABs are alive, which simply means humanity and reason are dead.
And the press? The press is dead in a very dead way. The world is a chicken separated from its head. Dead, dead, dead?but running around helter-skelter just the same. I hear gurgling from Chirac, babbling from Schroder, chanting from the Pope, tongues from Daschle, "mum" from Hersh, hummina, hummina from Clinton (but that might be hubba, hubba?you never know with Bill), and "toyo-ta-ho" from our Wagnerian Dubya. The world is like a once-majestic oak, poisoned at the roots, running through the seasons of leaf changes in a matter of days and weeks, spending 500 years or more of energy in a few afternoons.
As the Council Oaks in Austin, TX, lived and died, so have our institutions. Delayed recognition of the tree that falls in the forest won't make it stand. The press will continue to run through the seasons of its existence, and people will read, watch and listen, but there is nothing dynamic happening there. Indeed, an existence that owes itself to one principle and one alone?the exposing of lies, failed in the final hour to expose the biggest lie: that we have turned every aspect of our self-governance over to the sham of due diligence and can no longer turn back to the truth unless we are prepared to suffer mightily. Journalism will fall now, as the leaves. It isn't that calling out the "minions, monkeys and agents" in the press is not a worthwhile pursuit on its face, but at this point I think it is rather like complaining about a cold sore on a body ravaged by the flesh-eating virus. By the time you get the Orajel? Well, you take my point.
Theodore C. Marcus, Atlanta
Too Legit to Quit
MUGGER: You lost me. Your piece about Bush and Blair going to war started out as a diatribe about how the New York Times hasn't denounced the new anti-Semitism and then without warning morphed into a piece on whining baseball players, whining journalists and then whatever else you said ("MUGGER," 3/19). The irony is that you have whined louder than any of the journalists you describe.
Perhaps I'd be more inclined to take you seriously if you offered more of an argument for war than, "Oh, that's right, Saddam had nothing to do with al Qaeda's attack. That's believable." But all you did was lob insult after insult at people making legitimate arguments, and then failed to make any of your own. That's cowardly. Let me guess?you don't have any legitimate arguments. Now I get it.
Victoria Gomelsky, Manhattan
Over and Out
Mike Signorile: Great article on Alterman ("The Gist," 3/19). Keep up the good work, and keep up the good fight.
Sean Brodrick, West Palm Beach, FL
MUGGER: Enjoyed your column ("MUGGER," 3/19). I especially liked the missiles hurled at Matt Taibbi, a fellow writer for the same paper. Keep up the good work. I assume or at least hope that an agreement was worked out with the new editors and publisher to keep you on ad infinitum.
Bob Logomasini, Weehawken
Mike Signorile: I've never written to a newspaper columnist before, but I wanted to say that you summed up what a lot of people in New York may be feeling, even if they haven't acknowledged it ("The Gist," 3/12). I particularly like that someone besides me remembers that our president was flying around seemingly scared on 9/11, while those of us in New York and Washington, DC, were dealing with it as best we could. I've never been able to summon any respect for the man since then.
John E. Moore, Manhattan
MUGGER: How can anyone from NYC be against every effort to rid the world of men-of-terror who also support terrorists ("MUGGER", 3/19)? Short of an attack directly on the New York Times offices, what will wake up the owners and staff? As much as I despise Gore for his weirdness and pathetic changes in beliefs to try to win the election of 2000, if he were president and took appropriate action against al Qaeda and Iraq, I would be open to giving him grudging respect for protecting our country. Why can't the Democrats and their leftist cohorts care about our country? Who will save us if we don't act?
Margaret McCarthy, Libertyville, IL
Scions of the Times
MUGGER: You wrote "But then I've always considered the Times to be anti-Semitic itself" ("MUGGER," 3/19). I agree. I remember when my mother and father were in the New York teacher's union, the Times would constantly bash the UFT and ignore the rabid anti-Semitism of the Sonny Carsons and other agitators of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville era. Going back even further, the Times basically ignored the Holocaust, which even current Times folks have said was shameful. And of course, Israel is always the bad guy?the homicidal suicide bombers and hijackers aren't terrorists, because they're "provoked." The fear of being seen as a "Jewish" newspaper (although I believe that by this point the Sulzberger/Ochs families are Protestant) apparently overwhelmed any sense of decency.
Michael Goldstein, Encino, CA
Mike Signorile: Thanks for supporting Eric Alterman by pointing out the truth of his charges ("The Gist," 3/19). Is it too obvious for anyone to compare Howie Kurtz to Walter Winchell? I mean, they are both nasty, right-wing gossip columnists who can ruin anybody's career. They both suck up to the most authoritarian members of government they can find (Winchell fawned all over the corrupt J. Edgar Hoover) and wave the flag relentlessly. Of course, Matt Drudge poses as Winchell, but it's just that?a pose. The guy doesn't have the power Kurtz does. It seems Drudge got the costumes, but Kurtz got the power.
A few years ago, I read the Winchell biography by Neil Gabler. It described how Winchell invented his powerful position as the changing media landscape created a new niche for gossip. Hasn't media criticism in the internet age descended to Winchellesque levels of toadying, smearing and black-listing for fun and profit? Why don't you call Kurtz "Howie Winchell"?
Patrick Devaney, Haverhill, MA
MUGGER: Loved your column ("MUGGER," 3/19). As for the last bit about Bush acting less like John Wayne and more like JFK?newsflash?Bush already is following the JFK presidential model. It was JFK/RFK who planned the Bay of Pigs. This was to be a regime change by the U.S. president of a ruthless dictator, without going to the U.N. or caring about world opinion, American opinion, media opinion. These two masterminds actually joined forces with the CIA, Cuban exiles, the Mafia and assorted American kooks to knock off Fidel Castro. In spite of what happened with this Bay of Pigs invasion fiasco, JFK/RFK continue to be idolized by the American media and loony liberals/Democratic partisans, Hollywood and the media elite (who offer the world the Cuban Missile Crisis as justification for this?missiles that never were used to attack us first!). I always marvel that post-WWII, Democratic presidents can't seem to win wars or plan successful invasions, while Republicans have no trouble at all. Go get 'em, Georgie.
Judy Close, Jamaica, NY
MUGGER: When is ol' Helen Whatsername going to be tipped over on her righteous chair among the press corps, tilted enough to take up her time trying to right herself ("MUGGER", 3/19). Shameless old hussy!
Carol Hoffman, Redmond, OR
Gone on Good Terms
MUGGER: When I lived in NYC, I loved?I mean loved?your weekly. Now that you sold it, I don't begrudge you a single penny of your hard-earned cash. That said, I'm weeping over what the Press has become absent your iron hand of ownership. Christopher Carbone's imbecilic essay ("Books," 3/19) on some French guy's contention that "if-nous-do-X, then-the-terrorists-have-won" is bad enough standing alone, but can you live with yourself by authorizing payment to someone who thinks that shopworn slogans somehow qualify as philosophy? For Christ's sake, man. I'm not a New Yorker nowadays, so if you can tell me what happened to Christopher Caldwell, I'd be greatly appreciative.
Brian Moore, Covington, LA
So Many Bastards
I support the war and I am vociferously against the leftist bastards. It is remarkable how so many people agreed with the claptrap that Matt Taibbi wrote ("Cage Match," 3/12), and I wonder what it is that the left makes them so popular. What I think, too, is that the left cannot give a crap about the Iraqis, or the Jews, but, rather, they are using the war to push their Marxist agenda. If you listen carefully, you will see, or hear them talk about the rot of capitalism. So, I know they couldn't give a rat's ass about peace and justice as they claim but rather they are pushing their own ideas, now that the Soviet Union is gone, and wonderfully so. Perhaps it is just my perception, I don't know, but it's frightening that people wish the Marxist system should be with us, perhaps the lazy bastards want to be on the dole and not work. Or, perhaps they are morons, and worse still, they are so smug in their idea that they are on the right side. No pun intended. Keep up the great work.
Bert Zackim, Manhattan
Who's Afraid of Howard?
Mike Signorile: I don't know why everyone is so afraid of Howard Kurtz ("The Gist," 3/19). Reliable Sources was scaled back to one day and I cannot imagine he is any box office attraction for the Washington Post, which has one of the most Democratic voting areas in the country. From a marketing point of view the whole thing is incomprehensible.
Alice Marshall, Fairfax, VA
All in One Column!
MUGGER: You wrote: "Crowley, like numerous scolds, objected to Bush's breaking with Beltway Establishment protocol by not allowing 82-year-old Helen Thomas to ask the first question, a perk she's received since JFK's brief administration. Horrors. Why would Bush, who was described by Thomas as the worst president in American history, give her the time of day? Some self-consumed reporters probably thought the snub of Thomas was even worse than Bush's scuttling the ABM Treaty or advocating the necessary overhaul of Social Security, an entitlement that was enacted in the 1930s, when the United States was an entirely different country" ("MUGGER," 3/19).
Wow. You actually manage to semi-insult one of the most beloved presidents in U.S. history, blow off a huge gaffe on Bush's part (one of many each day, or maybe hour) and excuse his evisceration of Social Security. All of this is done without mentioning his plutocratic, "obliterate the middle class and turn North America into South America" tax cuts, or his blowing of a massive budget surplus and plunging the nation into another depression. It's like a moron trifecta.
Jim Collins, Bethesda, MD
Nazis, Nazis Everywhere
MUGGER: I realize you think that Matt Taibbi's column ("Cage Match," 3/12) is satire. I do not. I am not just some idly mouthing-off hysteric. I spent two and a half years peacekeeping in Bosnia. I know from personal and day-to-day contact how Nazis think; I had to deal with the Serb, Croat and (only once or twice) Muslim variety every single day. And if I learned anything in Bosnia it's this: What ends in a barn filled with the murdered began with a rant. Auschwitz began when a couple of German drunks in a bar started to cheer a youngster in a stupid moustache who said, "Let's hang all the Jews from lampposts!" Don't you be the guy on the next barstool. Next time one of your writers advocates this kind of madness, use your editor's spike, okay?
Richard L. Kent, Washington, DC