Tag Archives: max blumenthal

The Rally To Restore Sanity and The Campaign To Restore The Radical Right

On my way to the Stewart/Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear, I got a text from John Legend, who has been my friend since our college days. He told me he had decided at the last second to fly into to DC to perform with The Roots on the National Mall. So within a few minutes I was backstage with John and the rest of the performers.

John Legend, Tony Bennett and some random guy

John Legend, Tony Bennett and some random guy

As I stood beside the stage watching John and The Roots play Donny Hathaway’s “Little Ghetto Boy” before a huge and relatively diverse crowd, it occurred to me that this was the first time in a long time I had witnessed a rally on the Mall that wasn’t filled with troglodytic racists and anti-abortion fanatics. The Sanity/Fear rally was calculated as the mirror opposite of the rallies I have grown accustomed to reporting on for the past six years: Blind rage and cultural despair was replaced with irony and high-minded humor, while the Tea Party was mocked not as a dangerous movement comprised of pathological bigots but as a stupid and uncool endeavor. One sign read: “Tea Parties Are For Little Girls and Imaginary Friends.”

Most of the performers had to watch the rally on a big screen TV in a tent that was set up behind the stage. I watched with them, except for the moments when Father Guido Sarducci stood in my way (his tattered cape was hard to see around). Cat Stevens aka Yusuf Islam, who now lives in Dubai, told me that he wanted his appearance at the rally to represent his return to the US since being denied entry to the country by the Bush administration for specious reasons. I talked to Tony Bennett about the influence of Yiddish Theater on Irving Berlin. “That guy knew what he was doing,” Bennett remarked. The crooner spent most of his time writing down song lyrics on a small pad of paper and quietly rehearsing them to himself. At one point, a security guard asked Kareem Abdul Jabbar to take a picture of him standing beside John Legend — a weird spectacle. When Jabbar excused himself as he nudged past me, I asked him if I was blocking his view (I wasn’t). Later, Ozzy Osbourne rushed in and out of the tent with glasses of water for himself and Sharon, while I talked to Jacob “Dude, you have no Quran” Isom about his theory on why God created gays.

As much as I enjoyed the uplifting rally, the backstage fun and clever street theater on the Mall, I was disturbed by John Stewart’s constant drawing of false equivalencies between the extremist Tea Party and mainstream liberals, which he employed again and again to supposedly reveal how the political debate has careened out of control. In Stewart’s presentation, open racist conspiracists like Glenn Beck, Pam Geller and the Fox News grotesque gallery of pundits were likened to center-left figures like Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz simply because they all broadcast their opinions at maximum volume and rely on emotional manipulation. It was like comparing the Klan to the Shriners because members of both groups wear funny costumes.

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Following up on Freeman’s Sabotage, by “Max Blumenfeld”

I’m trying to get footage of my AJE appearance on Youtube. In the meantime, here is a write-up from AJE that includes some of my comments about Freeman:

Max Blumenthal, a blogger and journalist for the Daily Beast website who has been following Freeman’s nomination process, told Al Jazeera that his withdrawal was “a catastrophic defeat for the Obama administration”.

“What happened is the Israel lobby won,” he said.

“What [Freeman] said that I think is most remarkable in his statement, is that apparently the Obama administration will not be able to dictate its own Mideast policy and he places the blame for this squarely on the Israel lobby.”

Blumenthal said that the Israel lobby had “been furiously emailing sympathetic reporters, smearing him [Freeman] in public” and that “political decisions came into play with respect to [Freeman's] views on Israel and essentially his appointment was torpedoed”.

This was the Israel lobby’s “first all-out fusillade and they succeeded because they knew that Freeman would be dispensable to political elements in the White House that needed to court the Israel lobby, needed their money for senate races”, he said.

Also, Daniel Pipes refers to reporting by me, or at least some doppelganger version of me named “Max Blumenfeld,” to take credit for taking Freeman down:

Dear Reader:

As many of you may know, Charles Freeman has “has requested that his selection to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed.”

What you may not know is that Steven J. Rosen of the Middle East Forum was the person who first brought attention to the problematic nature of Freeman’s appointment, in a February 19 blog titled “Alarming appointment at the CIA.” Within hours, the word was out; and three weeks later Freeman has conceded defeat. Only someone with Steve’s stature and credibility could have made this happen.

Even those who backed the Freeman appointment acknowledge Steve’s leadership in this effort. For example:

I congratulate Steve and am proud of this early achievement by the Forum’s newly created Washington Project.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Pipes