Monthly Archives: February 2009

Meet the “Republican Rapper”

I met the world’s first self-proclaimed “Republican rapper” on the second day of the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference. He is Hi-Caliber, a former construction worker from New Jersey who told me that after just 10 minutes of listening to right-wing radio shock jock Michael Savage ranting about “Islamofascism” and illegal immigration, his “whole views on the world changed.” Now Hi-Caliber records inspired battle anthems against President Barack Obama, who he denounces as a “socialist in the White House;” he attacks Nancy Pelosi as “phony baloney;” assails the liberal media; calls for a border fence; and warns darkly of the Fairness Doctrine.

In this Daily Beast exclusive video, Hi-Caliber kicked some of the most novel rhymes I have ever heard. Hear him for yourself.

“Konrad” Ziegler Goes Nuts

My note: Numerous Facebook friends and a few commenters have noticed John Ziegler’s obsession with male genitals. When his anger peaks, he can’t seem to stop discussing testicles. Is this significant? See the video and judge for yourself.

During an otherwise ordinary day at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Convention, I had a run in with conservative radio talk show host John Ziegler. For the uninitiated, Ziegler is a talker memorably profiled by David Foster Wallace who, while not enjoying Limbaugh or Hannity levels of devotion, is a reasonably famous figure in the conservative media. Our confrontation is already infamous. Huffington Post’s Jason Linkins, Wonkette, and other bloggers seized on it for posts. Robert Stacy McCain, a former Washington Times writer drummed out of the Moonie paper partly because of my reporting on his white supremacist leanings, posted a barely comprehensible Youtube video.

Why the rage? Well, the roots of Ziegler’s fury lay in a series of reports I produced in 2006 about the factually challenged TV movie The Path To 9-11, in which I laid out the film’s ulterior right-wing agenda. (See here, here, here, and here for the full story). In early 2008, I received a series of emails from someone calling themselves “Konrad Ziegler.” “I am producing a documentary on how “The Path to 9/11″ got essentially killed in 2006 and I am wondering if you would be willing to do an interview with me and take a victory lap for your role in helping to create that reality,” the mysterious filmmaker, “Konrad,” wrote me in an email. Given the unusually cryptic nature of his request, I declined to respond.

When the film Blocking The Path To 9-11 appeared, my suspicions were confirmed—“Konrad” was actually John Ziegler. Variety panned Ziegler’s documentary, calling it “tedious.”

Which leads us to the encounter with Ziegler in the lobby of the Omni Shoreham. When I brought up our shared history, Ziegler exploded, inexplicably accusing me of “hurt[ing] poor children, most of whom were black.” See his histrionics for yourself.

The Gray Lady on Jindal’s Exorcism

The New York Times’ Charles Blow takes notice:

A day after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s widely ripped Howdy Doody-meets-Mister Rogers response to President Obama’s address, Max Blumenthal piled it on with an interesting article on The Daily Beast reiterating some things not widely known about the “Bayou’s boy wonder.”

One of the most interesting facts in the piece, titled “Bobby Jindal’s Secret Past,” was that Jindal said he witnessed, and then haltingly participated in, the exorcism of his very close friend (a woman named Susan) when he was in college.

The Exorcist

Bobby Jindal didnt work voodoo in his response to Obama, but he did in college

Bobby Jindal didn't work voodoo in his response to Obama, but he did in college

Last night, on the evening of President Barack Obama’s first major speech, the Republicans put forward Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as the face of the opposition, tapping him to deliver their response. As a 37-year-old Indian-American Rhodes Scholar, the first-term governor presented a deliberate visual counterpoint to Obama. His folksy speech last evening is meeting with mixed reviews. But with GOP politicians already jockeying for the 2012 primary, Jindal is emerging as a top contender.

“From the insiders I’m talking to, Jindal’s in the top three, right next to [Sarah] Palin and [Mitt] Romney. He’s the rock star of the Republican Party right now,” says Jeff Crouere, the former executive director of the Louisiana GOP and host of daily political talk show Ringside Politics.

But as the country gets acquainted with the Bayou’s boy wonder, the stranger details of Jindal’s religious or personal background remain largely unknown, even among the Republican grassroots. How many Americans know that Jindal boasted of participating in an exorcism that purged the spirit of Satan from a college girlfriend? So far, Jindal’s tale of “beating a demon” remains behind the subscription wall of New Oxford Review, an obscure Catholic magazine; only a few major blogs have seized on the story.

Born in Baton Rouge in 1971, Jindal rarely visited his parents’ homeland. His birth name was Piyush Jindal. When he was four years old, Piyush changed his name to “Bobby” after becoming mesmerized by an episode of The Brady Bunch. Jindal laterwrote that he began considering converting to Catholicism during high school after “being touched by the love and simplicity of a Christian girl who dreamt of becoming a Supreme Court justice so she could stop her country from ‘killing unborn babies.’” After watching a short black-and-white film on the crucifixion of Christ, Jindal claimed he “realized that if the Gospel stories were true, if Christ really was the son of God, it was arrogant of me to reject Him and question the gift of salvation.”

Continue reading

God and Ponzi

Godtube is perhaps the strangest bit player in the saga of Ponzi schemester R. Allen Stanford

Godtube is perhaps the strangest bit player in the saga of Ponzi schemester R. Allen Stanford

The case of alleged Ponzi schemester “Sir” Allen Stanford, the Texas billionaire, has rocked over 50,000 customers who fear they may fallen victim in what SEC charges is an $8 billion fraud. One of the more interesting bit players to surface is a website called Godtube. Godtube spokesperson Holly Taylor claimed to me her company’s involvement with Stanford has made “zero business and financial impact” on the website’s parent companies, Tangle.com and Big Jump Media, and insisted that one of Godtube’s funders, VCE Capital Partners, purchased only “a nominal amount of shares” with Stanford amounting to 0.5 percent of the company’s total shares.

So the Stanford connection may not doom Godtube. But it reflects the extent to which Stanford’s alleged fraud is so widespread that it touched even a modest online start-up that is emerging as a social networking hub for young evangelicals.

Watch the Godtube prayer against “excessive hugging” and “fondling in the name of Jesus”

Many of Godtube’s users are like 26-year-old Marlon Hines of Farmington Hills, Michigan. When Hines wanted to take his self-authored “prayer against lust” to the public, he chose to post it on Godtube instead of the better-known online video sharing giant YouTube. Tens of millions of users may visit YouTube each month, but its more modestly trafficked, religious spin-off guaranteed Hines something no other website could: an audience of like-minded conservative Christians eager for jeremiads against sexual immorality.

Continue reading

My Interview With Vitter Primary Opponent, Porn Star Stormy Daniels

With 2010 midterm elections approaching, Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter is positioning himself as a leading conservative stalwart. In July 2008, Vitter joined accused bathroom-stall sex solicitor Sen. Larry Craig in co-sponsoring the anti-gay-marriage Marriage Protection Amendment, then addressed a massive antiabortion rally on the National Mall three days after Barack Obama’s inauguration. Vitter was also the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s lone vote against sending Hillary Clinton’s secretary of State nomination to the Senate floor.

Continue reading

Rush Limbaugh Loses A Popularity Contest

The GOPs de facto leader has higher negatives than Rev. Wright and Bill AyersThe GOP’s de facto leader has higher negatives than Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers

Republicans who have turned to Rush Limbaugh to lead the fight against President Obama may have backed the wrong horse. According to one recent poll, Limbaugh turns out to be one of the most unpopular political figures in the country.

An October 24, 2008, poll conducted by the Democratic research firm Greenberg-Quinlan-Rosner has Rush Limbaugh enjoying a public-approval rating of just 21 percent among likely voters, while 58 percent have “cold” feelings toward the right-wing radio-talk-show host. Limbaugh’s cold rating was higher than that of all the political figures the firm polled. It was seven points higher than Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright and eight points higher than former Weather Underground domestic terrorist William Ayers. (As the firm points out in an email, it’s true that Wright and Ayers both had lower “warm” ratings than Limbaugh—as you’d expect for men who have virtually no constituencies.)

Limbaugh is so unpopular that only 44 percent of Republican voters reported “warm” feelings toward him, ten points less than those who felt the same way about Limbaugh’s top competitor, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, and a full 20 points lower than Fox News itself. Yet in spite of rock-bottom favorable numbers, Limbaugh confidently declared one week after Obama’s inauguration that his power far exceeded that of the Republican Party’s top two leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives. Obama, Limbaugh roared, is “obviously more frightened of me than he is Mitch McConnell. He’s more frightened of me, than he is of, say, John Boehner, which doesn’t say much about our party.”

Continue reading