- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
A Vice President Without Borders, Bordering on Lunacy
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times
June 24, 2007
WASHINGTON - It's hard to imagine how Dick Cheney could get more
dastardly, unless J. K. Rowling has him knock off Harry Potter next
Harry's cloak of invisibility would be no match for Vice's culture
I've always thought Cheney was way out there the most Voldemort-
like official I've run across. But even in my harshest musings about
the vice president, I never imagined that he would declare himself
not only above the law, not only above the president, but actually
his own dark planet a separate entity from the White House.
I guess a man who can wait 14 hours before he lets it dribble out
that he shot his friend in the face has no limit on what he thinks
he can keep secret. Still, it's quite a leap to go from hiding in a
secure, undisclosed location in the capital to hiding in a secure,
undisclosed location in the Constitution.
Dr. No used to just blow off the public and Congress as he cooked up
his shady schemes. Now, in a breathtaking act of arrant arrogance,
he's blowing off his own administration.
Henry Waxman, the California congressman who looks like an
accountant and bites like a pit bull, is making the most of
Congress's ability, at long last, to scrutinize Cheney's chicanery.
On Thursday, Mr. Waxman revealed that after four years of refusing
to cooperate with the government unit that oversees classified
documents, the vice president tried to shut down the unit rather
than comply with the law ensuring that sensitive data is protected.
The National Archives appealed to the Justice Department, but who
knows how much justice there is at Justice, now that the White House
has so blatantly politicized it?
Cheney's office denied doing anything wrong, but Cheney's office is
also denying it's an office. Tricky Dick Deuce declared himself
exempt from a rule that applies to everyone else in the executive
branch, instructing the National Archives that the Office of the
Vice President is not an "entity within the executive branch" and
therefore is not subject to presidential executive orders.
"It's absurd, reflecting his view from the first day he got into
office that laws don't apply to him," Representative Waxman told
me. "The irony is, he's taking the position that he's not part of
the executive branch."
Ah, if only that were true. Then maybe W. would be able to close
Gitmo, which Vice has insisted he not do. And Condi wouldn't have to
worry every night that she'll wake up to find crazy Dick bombing
Iran, whispering to W. that they have to do it before that weak
sister Hillary takes over.
"Your decision to exempt your office from the president's order is
problematic because it could place national security secrets at
risk," Mr. Waxman, the chairman of the House Oversight and
Government Reform Committee, wrote to Cheney.
Of course, it's doubtful, now that Vice has done so much to put our
national security at risk, that he'll suddenly listen to reason.
Cheney and Cheney's Cheney, David Addington, his equally
belligerent, ideological and shadowy lawyer and chief of staff, have
no shame. After claiming executive privilege to withhold the energy
task force names and protect Scooter Libby, they now act outraged
that Vice should be seen as part of the executive branch.
Cheney, they argue, is the president of the Senate, so he's also
part of the legislative branch. Vice is casting himself as a
constitutional chimera, an extralegal creature with the body of a
snake and the head of a sea monster. It's a new level of gall, to
avoid accountability by saying you're part of a legislative branch
that you've spent six years trying to weaken.
But gall is the specialty of Addington, who has done his best to
give his boss the powers of a king. He was the main author of the
White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects, and he
helped stonewall the 9/11 commission. He led the fights supporting
holding terrorism suspects without access to courts and against
giving Congress and environmentalists access to information about
the energy industry big shots who secretly advised Cheney on energy
Dana Perino, a White House press spokeswoman, had to go out on
Friday and defend Cheney's bizarre contention that he is his own
government. "This is an interesting constitutional question that
legal scholars can debate," she said.
I love that Cheney was able to bully Colin Powell, Pentagon generals
and George Tenet when drumming up his fake case for war, but when he
tried to push around the little guys, the National Archive data
collectors I'm visualizing dedicated "We the People" wonky types
with glasses and pocket protectors they pushed back.
Archivists are the new macho heroes of Washington.
Democrats plan to cut Cheney out of executive funding bill
Filed by Josh Catone
Following Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that his office is
not a part of the executive branch of the US government, Democratic
Caucus Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) plans to introduce an
amendment to the the Financial Services and General Government
Appropriations bill to cut funding for Cheney's office.
The amendment to the bill that sets the funding for the executive
branch will be considered next week in the House of Representatives.
"The Vice President has a choice to make. If he believes his legal
case, his office has no business being funded as part of the
executive branch," said Emanuel in a statement released to RAW
STORY. "However, if he demands executive branch funding he cannot
ignore executive branch rules. At the very least, the Vice President
should be consistent. This amendment will ensure that the Vice
President's funding is consistent with his legal arguments."
At a press briefing yesterday, White House Deputy Press Secretary
Dana Perino said that Cheney's assertion that he operates outside of
the executive branch of government was "an interesting
constitutional question that people can debate" and a "non-issue."
On Thursday, Emanuel suggested that if Cheney feels his office is
not part of the executive branch "he should return the salary the
American taxpayers have been paying him since January 2001, and move
out of the home for which they are footing the bill."
Take-Two delays plans to distribute 'Manhunt 2'
Fri Jun 22, 2007
Video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software said on Thursday
it has suspended plans to sell Manhunt 2 after the title was slapped
with restrictive ratings for its extreme violence.
The game, developed by the same Take-Two studio behind the
controversial Grand Theft Auto and Bully titles, had originally been
scheduled for a July 10 release.
Take-Two said it "temporarily suspended" distribution plans for the
game while it reviewed its options following the banning of the game
in Britain and a U.S. ratings body decision to give it an "Adults
The rating would prevent its release on game machines made by Sony
"We continue to stand behind this extraordinary game. We believe in
freedom of creative expression, as well as responsible marketing,
both of which are essential to our business of making great
entertainment," Take-Two said in a statement.
Manhunt 2 casts the player in the role of a psychotic man who
escapes a mental institution and kills enemies with a variety of
weapons and objects as he tries to find out what happened to his
Take-Two's statement followed comments from Chairman Strauss Zelnick
on Wednesday saying he fully backed the game and considered it a
work of art.
The company's options include canceling the game entirely, releasing
it unchanged only for personal computers--a move that would
drastically limit sales--or altering its content to achieve a less-
Manhunt 2 was originally expected to bring in about $40 million in
sales for Take-Two, which had just over $1 billion in total revenue
last year, according to Wedbush Morgan research.
Take-Two shares fell 4 cents to $20.61 on Nasdaq on Thursday.
Motley Crue Accuses Manager of Dirty Dealings
Mötley Crüe is claiming that Rock Star made Tommy Lee look like less
of a rock star.
The Dr. Feelgood band sued one of their managers Monday, claiming
that Carl Stubner made business decisions with his own interests in
mind and gave Lee bad career advice, which in turn tarnished the
Not only did Lee's participation in the reality shows Tommy Lee Goes
to College on NBC and Rock Star: Supernova on CBS get in the way of
Mötley Crüe's 2005 Red, White & Crue tour and plans to record a new
studio album, costing the band's annual revenue to fall to only $19
million in 2006, but the NBC series' "inane overtones" made Lee
look "incoherent, lazy and incompetent," alleges the lawsuit filed
in Los Angeles Superior Court. (View the complaint.)
The show, which debuted in 54th place in the Nielsens and portrayed
Lee disrupting classes, consistently arriving late forand
struggling throughmarching band practice and supposedly hitting on
his college-age tutor damaged the reputation that he earned "through
years of great effort and hard work with Mötley Crüe," the band
states in court documents obtained by E! News.
Plaintiffs Lee, Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil and Mick Mars allege that
Stubner and his company, Sanctuary Management Group, over-promoted
Lee's unsuccessful side projects while dropping the ball with Mötley
Crüe, which, per the complaint, grossed more than $30 million on its
worldwide Red, White & Crüe tour but sustained damages because Lee
was not available at the band's disposal, causing them to perform
Lee's packed schedule also prevented him from promptly joining his
band mates in the studio in 2006 to record an album that, per an
agreement they had with Wal-Mart, was supposed to be released this
Stubner, meanwhile, maintains that he never worked for the band or
any of its members, besides Lee, in the first place.
"Mr. Stubner and Sanctuary continue to manage Tommy Lee and make no
apology for having effectively managed, promoted and furthered
Tommy's career with great success," Sanctuary spokesman Kevin
Chiaramonte said in a statement.
"Mr. Stubner and Sanctuary will vociferously defend this lawsuit
which is utterly and entirely without merit or basis."
The lawsuit states, however, that Stubner acknowledged during a
meeting at his office in December 2005 that Lee was "overexposed"
and agreed that Lee should be "exclusively available" to record,
tour and film a movie supporting the tour.
But, then came Rock Star: Supernova in 2006, and Lee's
unavailability supposedly forced Mötley Crüe to cancel 40 shows and
lose more than $8 million in ticket and merchandise sales.
The show's lackluster ratings and the so-so success Supernova
achieved after the fact "diminished the public's interest in Lee and
their overall perception of his musical talents," the lawsuit reads.
"Stubner's motivation was greed. He has brazenly said as much,"
the "Girls, Girls, Girls" guys claim. "Stubner stated that he
received significantly higher commissions on Lee's solo projects
because he did not have to share his take with the other managers.
(The band has two other managers, neither of whom is named in the
"He claimed that it was a 'no brainer' to prefer and promote Lee's
projects over those of Mötley Crüe."
According to the lawsuit, Stubner told the band that he'd only make
Lee readily available for tour dates if they and the other managers
agreed to increase his commission. The defendant also demanded 100
comped tickets per show and then sold them at "scalper" prices,
Sixx, Lee, Neil and Mars allege.
The platinum-selling rockers, who also claim that
Stubner's "extortion" is jeopardizing their 2007 tour, are asking
for more than $20 million in damages for breach of fiduciary duty
and constructive fraud.
Playboy Mansion to open in Macau
By MIN LEE, AP Entertainment Writer
Wed Jun 27, 2007
Hugh Hefner is planning to open a Playboy Mansion in the burgeoning
gambling mecca of Macau, complete with female "bunny" dealers, a
villa-style hotel and several dozen gaming tables, his daughter said.
The 40,000-square-foot Playboy Mansion Macau, scheduled to open in
late 2009, will give Hefner's company a key foothold in China after
a failed attempt several years ago to build a club in Shanghai,
which some blamed on the Chinese government's conservative line on
Macau, located an hour by high-speed ferry from Hong Kong, has seen
its gambling revenue grow rapidly since the government ended a
monopoly in 2002, letting in Las Vegas casino brands like Wynn,
Sands and Venetian.
As the only place on Chinese soil where gambling is legal, Macau
draws many tourists from the mainland who can't bet at home. It
overtook the Las Vegas strip in gaming revenue last year.
"Asia ... is a very important region for us," Christie Hefner, head
of Playboy Enterprises Inc., told reporters Tuesday.
The company is attempting to rebound after reporting a loss in 2005
and earning profits of only $2.3 million in 2006. Christie Hefner
said 40 percent of the $800 million made in retail consumer sales
last year came from Asia.
The Playboy Mansion Macau, styled after the original Playboy Mansion
in the U.S., will follow the company's planned opening of a club at
the Palms Resort in Las Vegas in October. Christie Hefner declined
to say how much the new mansion will cost.
Plans for Playboy's Shanghai club fell apart in 2004 ostensibly over
a disagreement between investors and local officials over how to
value the amount of the investment, although some questioned whether
it had to do with the company's racy reputation.
While Playboy can sell men's clothing in China, its magazine is
Make It a Large for a Quarter More?
A short history of movie theater concession stands. Plus: A candy
By Jill Hunter Pellettieri
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2007
What movie snack you choose to indulge in is not a decision to treat
lightly. When else is it socially acceptable to consume 8 ounces of
Reese's Pieces by yourself? And yet few among us spend much time
dithering at the concession stand. Maybe you're a Raisinets guy. Or
perhaps you prefer the salty magic of popcorn. Elaine Benes is a
Jujyfruits kind of gal. Me, I'm a Red Vines person trapped in a
Whatever our concession allegiances, they tend to be deeply
ingrained. And for most, a trip to Live Free or Die Hard won't be
complete without some goodies, even if it's the kind of goody we
might otherwise avoidparticularly at such egregious prices. How
exactly did we form this cultural habit? Today, concessions are the
lifeblood of the theater business: According to the National
Association of Theatre Owners, they account for approximately 40
percent of theaters' net revenue. But it wasn't always this way.
In 1905, the advent of nickelodeon theaters changed the landscape of
American entertainment, which was still dominated by live
performances, from stage plays to vaudeville. By 1907, around 3,000
nickelodeon theaters had opened, and by 1914 an estimated 27 percent
of Americans were going to the movies every week.
Concessions were not sold inside nickelodeons, but snack bars and
candy shops frequently flanked the theaters, and independent popcorn
and peanut vendors hawked their goods in the theater aisles. It
didn't take much to entice people with popcorn, an already immensely
popular treatthey delighted in its transformation from kernel to
pop, and were enchanted by its bewitching aroma. According to Andrew
F. Smith's excellent social history, Popped Culture, popcorn vendors
had been tantalizing customers since the 1840s, appearing at pretty
much any crowded eventfairs, rallies, you name it.
But theater owners had yet to realize just how lucrative concessions
could be. Far from embracing food sales, many were downright hostile
toward them, particularly as nickelodeons gave way to the fancier
movie houses of the teens and '20s. During those two decades, in an
effort to enhance the moviegoing experience, ambitious showmen
constructed opulent movie palaces, like Sid Grauman's Chinese
Theater in Los Angeles, which opened in 1927. These palaces, some of
which cost millions to build, could rival the sophistication of
European opera houses. Appointed with expensive antiques, marble
columns, bejeweled chandeliers, and even perfume sprayed into common
spaces, they transported moviegoers to another world. Yet it was a
world without munchies.
Movie theater owners wanted their venues to remain upscale, free
from the chomping of snacks you'd find at burlesque shows. They also
wanted their plush theaters garbage-free. But as in the nickelodeon
days, entrepreneurial vendors sold snacks outside. Popcorn kernels
and candy wrappers ended up littering theaters despite owners' best
efforts to keep food out.
Then came the Great Depression. Squeezed like everyone else, palace
owners sought new sources of revenue. Some deigned to install candy
dispensers, and others leased lobby space to popcorn vendors.
(Owners did, however, hold the line against peanuts, whose messy
shells were even more of a nuisance than the errant old maid.) But
according to Smith, it wasn't long before theater owners recognized
popcorn's lucrative promise and began selling it in-house. Early
popcorn popping machines had created disagreeable, burning odors,
but by the 1930s, the technology had improved. And because popcorn
was so cheaptheaters could sell it for 10 cents a bag and still
turn a nice profitit was a treat that even cash-strapped Americans
could manage to splurge on.
Eager to avoid the mistakes of their predecessors, theater builders
of the 1930s constructed more humble neighborhood houses, and with
concessions becoming a bigger part of the business, the candy
counter became an architectural consideration. Theaters still hoping
to appeal to highbrow customers offered homemade bonbons,
chocolates, and candy apples, but as mass production grew more
prevalent, an abundance of newer candiesJujubes and Jujyfruits,
Baby Ruths, Raisinets, Milk Duds, and othersemerged on the scene.
Candy suffered a setback during World War II, however, when sugar
was rationed. Popcorn production, on the other hand, was given the
go-ahead by the War Production Board because of its health benefits
and popularity. Popcorn flourished, solidifying its hold over the
After the war, in the mid- to late-1940s, theater owners grappled
with another threattelevisionthat made it more important than ever
to capitalize on snack sales. According to Maggie Valentine's The
Show Starts on the Sidewalk, theater owners were successful in their
efforts: From 1948 to 1956, despite a 50 percent decrease in theater
attendance, concession sales increased fortyfold. The end of the war
meant a return to sugar. Soda flowed freely, and candy counters
tempted moviegoers with Goobers, Sno-Caps, Chuckles, and Black
Crows, as well as newer delicacies such as Junior Mints and M&Ms.
Theaters now gave concession stands prime placement in their
lobbies, and inventive sales campaigns took off in an effort to
boost profits. Valentine says theaters adopted the up-sell, now so
common in the fast-food business, way back in the '50s. Rather than
simply ask, "May I help you?" smiling attendants were instructed to
push the higher margin merchandise and suggest additional purchases.
As Valentine writes, " 'Will that be a large?' proved a better
response to a drink or popcorn order than 'Right away.' "
Today, movie houses are continually expanding their offerings. Newer-
fangled candiesSour Patch Kids, Gummi Bears, and otherswhich
appeal to children, have largely ousted fruity mainstays such as
Dots. Companies have capitalized on the moviegoing crowds by
morphing large candy bars into shareable, bite-size candy more
suitable for the movies, like Nestlé's Buncha Crunch.
Movie theaters have of course also branched out, serving chicken
fingers and chili cheese fries to complement standard snacks.
Landmark Theatres, which specializes in independent films, appeals
to foodies by offering local items, such as hot dogs served with
homemade relish on fresh La Brea Bakery buns. And more theaters are
aiming to capture older crowds with reserved seating, alcohol, full-
service restaurants, and other amenities.
Still, the old standbys are the real moneymakers. We may sigh when
the kid behind the counter solicits that $9 for a small Coke and a
medium popcorn, but traditional concessions are by now inextricably
linked to the moviegoing experience. Not only is there the kid-in-a-
candy-store excitementhere's one place where it's still safe to
gorge on junk foodbut the smell of popcorn that pervades every
movie theater can bubble up nostalgia in even the most curmudgeonly
customer. A trip to the concession stand might elicit memories of a
first dateholding her hand, greasy with popcorn, in the dark
theater, or the tug of your teeth on the licorice sticks you ordered
as a kid, or the Good & Plenty your grandmother used to buy you on
your Saturday trips to the movies. What's $9 for that?
Jill Hunter Pellettieri is Slate's managing editor.