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How Blogs Fall Off My "Read Regularly" List: Balkinization Hosts a Nutjob

chicago dyke's picture
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I use Safari, and I have my bookmarks organized into groups. Some are blogs I read "Daily", some are "Important" but not read every day blogs, "Interesting" and "New (to me)" are some other categories I've incorporated into my navigation utility. I'm about to move one from the "Important" category into "the long list of blogs that had a couple of good posts which made me think they were going to positively contribute in the progressive movement but have since shown themselves to be mostly a bunch of assholes." I haven't yet, I hope not to. But this? Fuck no. Do something similar again soon, and you're gone, B-town. The author's CV, if it's the same guy. You'll love this:

Hell, Handbaskets, and Government Lawyers: The Duty of Loyalty and Its Limits, 61 Law & Contemp. Prob. 83 (1998).

Is Bill Clinton Unconstitutional? The Case for President Strom Thurmond, 13 Const. Comm. 217 (1996).

No, wait, it gets better.

Dead Man's Privilege: Vince Foster and the Demise of Legal Ethics, 68 Fordham L. Rev. 807 (1999).

Nixon Now: The Courts and the Presidency After Twenty-five Years, 83 Minn. L. Rev. 1337 (1999) (symposium; principal paper).

Nixon Now! Fuckin A!

I left some choice comments, if you want to add to them please do. I really am tired of being forced to treat tiny, impotent little men with closet issues and a fear of a world where white men don't rule, as if they had something important to say about my body.

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I was completely taken aback to see that at Balkinization. I hope at some point soon there'll be some kind of explanation why they posted it. I surely hope it's a better one than the reflexive need for "balance" that keeps Mallard Fillmore on the same funny pages as Doonesbury (for example).

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I thought everyone wanted to see "Howard the Duck" ripped off and made deathly unfunny and disturbingly reactionary. I guess it takes all kinds....

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

He's fat, drunk, and he loves taxes. Haw, haw, haw. And Bill Clinton sleeps with bimbos.

Hey, that stuff made Leno a milllionaire, too!

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

after all, there are more than 200 people employed on his show (band, producers, announcer, the guys who do the rotating bits, the office staff), and of those 200 only 19 are members of the WGA (including Leno himself). NBC said they'd shut it down, lay everybody off, if he didn't go back on the air; then Letterman cut his separate deal with the WGA and NBC said they'd not only lay off Leno's people, they'd fire them. NBC, remember, is selling its Burbank buildings, etc.

Not that I don't think there's a worthwhile principle involved in honoring the strike completely; but look, the WGA cut a deal for Letterman, and that gave NBC the ammo to shaft ALL Leno's people, a big majority of whom the WGA is simply not out to help with its strike.

So. It's a tough damn call, and I'm glad I didn't have to make it. But beyond that ... they were airing "Tonight" episodes that were several *years* old, back when the show was *funny*. And Leno's contract's up in another year or two. So maybe he's thinking it's time he did what good he could for the folks on his show, before he gets treated like Emeril is being treated at Food TV.

We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

Submitted by lambert on

Jay Leno wishes he could be funny.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

they're just "pretty" people who are good at short-term memorization. leno, lettermen, whatever. i don't turn to "celebrity" to find my political and social heroes.

200 people. vs...can i be rhetorical and say "two billion?" sure, not that many people work as writiers in hollywood. but- in the end, the writers are striking over a digital freedom of information issue.

that is: if it's on the web, we don't have to pay you for it fairly.

i suspect that question will be raised in the near future, again and again, to the detriment/benefit of 2B, and more. this is just the first round.

i would never expect a mere talking doll to understand such grave issues, or have the intellectual capacity to do so. if he could, he'd write his own jokes.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

is common amongst striking unions these days, and that is failing to achieve collegial solidarity. If they had found a way to join with other crafts unions then this walkout would have shut down all new production. Pity. The networks will now be able to peel off one small ally after another until the writers fold. At the least, the writers should have waited until next June when they could have partnered up with the Screen Actors Guild members who have the same new media reimbursement issues.

Back in the day, when the carpenters went out the plumbers and masons wouldn’t cross the line, because they needed the same support for their strikes; that quid pro quo seems to have evaporated. Contemporary union leadership sucks.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

strikes me as not merely the morality of the Mafia but implausible from a business sense. Yes the EnterTainOCorps stand to make even higher profits if they accumulate the trickle of revenue that would go through the tubes to the writers. But as the scab shows are proving, trying to do these shows without the writers is a disaster.

They suck. Stewart is unwatchable; the only bit of Colbert I've seen that was remotely good was last night when he had the choir on and they all sang "Let My People Go," which was kinda blatant.

And the producers and electricians and camera operators and other "little people" who would suffer if the Mafiosi shut down the shows? How much support exactly are they expecting from the WGA the next time their contracts are up?

Yeah it's not my ass or my money or that of my friends/employees/coworkers, but I still wish Stewart and Colbert at least (I have no expectation that an ass like Leno would even consider the notion) would have told them to go to hell and take their shows off the air. What are they gonna fill in those timeslots, the 863rd rerun of "Futurama"? "My Mother the Car"? For awhile, fine. Eventually they need new programming.

They've shut down the Golden Globes. They're about to shut down the Oscars if this isn't settled in time. (I heard the writers agreed not to picket at the Grammys; dunno what that's about but I smell backdoor negotiations somewhere). They shut down a couple of debates because Some People will not cross a picket line. Guess what party those people belong to?

There are an amazing number of people, working people, who hate unions with a passion normally reserved for Hillary Clinton and any hint of gun control. I have never understood this, although in my younger and union-member days I admit thinking dues were a bit high in the IBEW and the upper management of said union seemed to live a lot more like the management of the power company than us workers.

But hatred? Hell no. When I finally got laid off it was because as anyone could see the town was dying and had very limited need for new electrical facilities nor people to engineer them. Wasn't shit the union could do to revitalize Danville IL.

As far as I can tell this is mostly jealousy that somebody, somewhere does not have to live constantly in mortal fear of their job, and makes a decent wage at it. With benefits.

[sigh] [sob] those were the days...

Anna Granfors's picture
Submitted by Anna Granfors on

...an animation editor, and bringiton's not wrong about collegial solidarity, although I don't think it would have been possible with my union, IATSE Local 700 (Editors' Guild), as "we" were the first in town to come out actively anti-WGA. I complained bitterly to the union, and got a faceful of corrupt in response. (the latest issue of "our" Editors' Guild magazine had approximately, oh, 15% of its 150 pages bought and paid for by the studios, big glossy ads. and one and one-half pages about the WGA strike, basically just a "going on around town" news piece. in the bag, much? OH, yeah...)

coincidentally, I can't find work to save my ass right now, as all of the studios have begun de facto hiring freezes based on the writers' strike. maybe if I started hating those greedy writers...?

sigh.

Submitted by lambert on

On the one hand, I'm reminded of the old story about the Russian peasant who was granted a wish by a whatever sort of genie one finds on the steppes. After some thought, the peasant wished for his neighbor's cow to die.

On the other hand, it would be nice to know what happened to the unions besides getting fucked by the Conservative Movement. If they're at all like our beloved Democratic Party, some of their troubles are not of their making.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

So sorry Anna, rough times and it's likely gonna go on for a long while more. Your "leadership" have their noses so far up the rear of the studios it's a crime, worst of the worst.

The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 is what broke the unions. Was reading somewhere the other day on a Obama/Reagan kerfuffle thread and a commenter was blaming the Democrats for destroying the unions because Truman was President when Taft-Hartely was enacted. What the illiterate fool apparently didn’t know is that it was passed over Truman’s veto by a Republican congress. Between gutting their power to strike effectively and buying off the leadership, unions now are a shadow of what they once were. You want another progressive cause? Repeal Taft-Hartley.

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

Can I clear up a few items, please, since I happen to be a screenwriter and a member of the WGAw.

Taft/Hartley imposes severe limitations on coordination between unions in that it makes secondary boycotts illegal. You can't have unified walk-outs between separate unions because one of them is striking. Yes, individuals can refuse to cross a picket line, and unions can point their own members in that direction by announcing that their members will honor picket lines, but such support is usually only sustainable for a matter of days.

IATSE is a union that has always been in the pockets of the producers; it's a corporate union that took over literally by force, annexing by means of a forced jurisdictional crises, smaller independent unions, like my father's, The Screen Cartoonist Guild, a highly liberal union that got singed by McCarthyism and was one of the few unions to call strikes before IATSE took over. IATSE'S claim to fame is that they've never had to call a strike.

Hi Anna, my Dad was an animator for years, and became both the President and then the Business Agent for the Cartoonist's Guild, but before that happened, for years he was kept by Disney himself from becoming a full animator because he was on a shit black list for his union organizing all the way back to New York in the thirties as an eighteen year at the Flieshers Studio (home of Betty Boop. (When Bob Clampett made Beanie and Cecil into a cartoon series, he insisted my father quit Disney and become Bob's lead animator, which finally broke him out of his black list limbo.)

It's not a case of rich writers lording it over the poor craft service workers. On average, writers probably make less then most union workers on a set. I emphasize that "on average," because at any given moment the majority of workers in my union aren't drawing a pay check.

For years, the WGA was the most liberal and the toughest union in Hollywood, and almost the only one that ever went out on strike. We were the ones who got residuals; our strike meant actors and directors got them too. And we are talking about some of the biggest writers in Hollywood going out on strike, people like Billy Wilder. I hasten to add I wasn't a writer in those years, just a wee lass.

What those writers won, all writers, upon joining the union, inherit, which is why people like myself continued that tradition, not only for ourselves, but for writers to come. That's how it works in a union. In the 1988 strike, that went on for months, Billy Wilder came out to picket line after picket line to shake the hand of every writer picketing and to thank them for carrying on the tradition. He was too frail to join us on the line, but he had his driver take him around to thank every single writer picketing that day.

BTW, the reason that we were able to close down The Golden Globes is that all the actors nominated and those scheduled to present refused to cross our picket line. CD, I agree about the pernicious influence of celebrity in our society, but I'm not about to join you in suggesting the actors don't have the right and even the responsibility to participate in our politics, and I'm not about to diss someone like Kevin Bacon who has been traveling with the Edwards campaign. Susan Sarandon has earned the right to be taken seriously by the force of her ideas, and I say that even though I don't always agree with her analysis.

Actors have supported this strike as at no other time in Hollywood history. And the WGA has reached out to the other craft guilds; in fact, some of the people laid off at Warners, recently, left the studio with their pink slip in hand and joined writers on the picket line.

No one I know in my union blames any of the late night hosts who came back on air. They have contracts to fulfill, and staying out could be construed as a secondary boycott. Leno joined writers on the picket line in the first days of the strike, and even brought cookies and donuts to pass out. Both Stewart and Colbert have been supportive, and Xan, I don't quite agree on Colbert, I think he's been amazingly funny, still, and both he and Stewart find ways on air to reference the strike in supportive ways.

Believe me, writers are aware that when they do work they earn what appear to be ridiculously high fees. But we get paid the negotiated amount no matter how long we work on any given script, and we do all kinds of spec work on projects we try and sell. My career was truncated when I became the single caretaker during my mother's slide into dementia, and because of my union contract, I was eventually able to take a ridiculously early retirement and draw a decent pension, and yet still be able to work when I could. And my retirement came with health benefits I was no longer able to earn as a writer able to work with regularity. Not every writer gets that; it is based on the number of years you had earned covered; luckily i had enough years.

"Hollywood," the show business industry, has undergone many of the same traumas that have overtaken other industries since the eighties; a division between the top earners and everyone else because of a downward pressure on the wages of jounreymen writers and actors who aren't among the top one percent of earners; used to be that no one worked for the union minimum; the first pilot I was paid to write was above the mimium; by the mid-nineties the formula had been pushed down to the minimum plus ten percent, even for those of us who were in the top seven percent of earners in the Guild; at the same time, studios started paying the first million dollar fees for a script.

As in other industries, downsizing staffs and the elimination of many jobs has taken place through-out the industry. When I used to go in to pitch a show at a place like NBC, there were six people sitting in the room, three of them taking notes. It's been an on-going contractural work rule that writers don't submit any written material without pay, so all pitches were verbal, and producers only got three free meetings on any project before having to pay the writer something. By the late eighties, you were pitching to one person, who was listening and taking notes; I, like most other writers, began to hand in, after every pitch, a written summary of the shows concept along with breakdowns on characters and potential stories, and I was having six or seven or ten meetings without a whisper from my agent that I expected to be paid.

What producers got was more work for less pay from everyone.

And meanwhile, the Guild's failure to maintain solidarity within its own ranks in the late eighties and into the nineties meant that we got/get almost nothing from the sale and rental of DVDS, and truly terrible residuals on cable sales; any check less than $5.00 I deliberately don't cash on the hopeful theory that i can take more pleasure in the extra work I'm creating for the studio book keepers than I can buy anything worthwhile with the five bucks.

The settlement the Director's Guild has recently signed onto is being played in the media as a good non-union Guild doing its homework and making a breakthrough without a strike. Well, the Director's Guild has never had a strike and always let writers do the heavy lifting when it comes to benefits. It's no different this year.

Anyone who thinks that the Directors would have got any kind of deal without our strike is a loon. We've already had to give up the right to try and organize "reality" show writers in order to get back to the bargaining table.

Let me note in passing, there was a time when my father came into conflict with the WGA, which wanted to organize animation writers for the Guild, even though they are represented by the Cartoonist Guild, so genuine unions can have their differences, and as in all aspects of life, divisions into good and bad guys is always somewhat partial.

Okay, probably more than you ever wanted to know about show biz...just felt like getting some of this off my bosom....

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Nothing I can add to that, except that this is one of my most cherished childhood toys.

And you know what coda from the "Beany and Cecil" theme song is stuck in my head right now!

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

nothing about "no right to participate" in my post.

i *did* say i think leno and his ilk (celebrity without real talent, like writers have) are not the people *i* look to for political guidance. everyone is free to choose their own leaders, in my book.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... he's not a no-talent.

Actually, he was (and maybe still is, for all I know) an excellent standup comic, with a real gift for improvising with the audience.

But he sold his soul to tell ultra-lame jokes on "The Tonight Show."

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

... because a lot of us still need to be schooled on union history, especially regarding past strikes, and mistaking PR and disinformation for honest negotiation. Despite the radio silence declared (and let's remember how the AMPTP used that, last time), your words need to be read more widely than in this post.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Appreciate the amplification, no slight intended in my compressed statements. T-H is a bitch and the rules are the rules and they are bad for labor.

If you could, please do put this up as a full post, many people would be interested.

Good luck with the strike.

Anna Granfors's picture
Submitted by Anna Granfors on

...but your comment was amazing.

re: more work/less pay--I think that's probably industry-wide, although the problematic thing is that most younger workers aren't aware that things used to be different, and the studios are counting on that. in my case, I went from editing using two relatively simple tools, the Moviola and the KEM, to "editing" (actually editing/doing graphics fixes/color-correcting/onlining/creating finished masters) utilizing an ever-increasing number of software programs, and god help you if you don't keep up to the minute. and, no, it didn't happen overnight...it was a little bit at a time, but in essence, pure gain for the studios, who no longer had to outsource a lot of the jobs now heaped on the animation editor.

your dad's story must be a fascinating one...was his name Bud, by chance? (my editing mentor's dad worked on B&C as well--Dick Elliott.)

and re: VL's favorite toy...I useta love my Beanycopter! it was pure magic to a 4 year old...