" Madam Miaow Says: December 2008

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The Good Earth review: Anna May Wong and Chinese in Hollywood


Every so often I get together with friends for a day of culture. This generally entails snuggling up in my flat over a movie, a bottle (or more) of cava and munchies. Chocolate will invariably make an appearance, as sometimes does proper Jewish cheesecake from the bagel bakery, far superior to the ersatz frozen slabs of synthetic goo which should only be eaten as emergency therapy after the tragic break-up of a love affair, and straight from the freezer.

Last night CSM, Harpy, AngloNoel and I dug in for a night of cinematic frolix. Several bottles of cava may have been involved. Still, what better way to settle down to all 143 minutes of a Hollywood classic, the “last great achievement” of renowned film producer, Irving Thalberg, before he passed on to the Great Cinema in the sky?

I finally got to see The Good Earth, of which I’d been vaguely aware all my life but which surfaced again during my research into my BBC Radio 4 profile of the Hollywood screen-legend, Anna May Wong (to be broadcast 13th January 2009). This was the black & white MGM spectacular made in 1937, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller by Pearl S Buck about the turbulent fortunes of farmer Wang Lung’s family — a sort of Chinese Grapes of Wrath meets Gone With The Wind.

You’d think the biggest ever film role for a Chinese should be played by the biggest ever Chinese star. Ever since publication of the book in 1931, Anna May Wong had lobbied hard for the starring role of O-Lan, Wang Lung’s long-suffering wife. Fed up with being cast as either dragon ladies or prostitutes, this character meant a proper starring role at last for Anna and entry to the A-list.


But vicious race laws meant that you couldn’t have mixed race romance on the screen. Once a white actor, Paul Muni, was cast in the lead his wife would have to be played by a white actress in yellowface.

And what better choice for a strugglng Chinese peasant than the German actress, Luise Rainer? Luise did achieve an other-worldlyness and won an Oscar for her portrayal of O-Lan which has been described as “luminous” and “magical”. But, as film historian Kevin Brownlow says in the programme, “she wasn’t Chinese”.

Acting styles have changed over the years but key roles were played with a distinct absence of gorm. Poor Luise had hardly any lines but a lot of screen-time to fill. Mostly she filled it with an open mouthed passivity reminiscent of Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls. The dialogue she did speak was delivered with a thick Germanic accent but who cares? It was foreign, wasn’t it?

Would Anna May Wong have made a better O-Lan than Rainer? Ever since Garbo stared into the cosmic distance on the prow of her ship in Queen Christina and achieved demi-god status, actresses have been trying for the same effect with differing results. No inner life but a beautiful, blank canvas onto which the audience projects the best of itself. It’s a seductive image. Who wouldn’t want to look like they have a hotline straight to god? Even I’ve tried it but failed to keep the requisite immobile face, not being particularly inscrutable, see? Rainer does this to perfection. For 143 straight minutes.

So this is how good Chinese women were portrayed during the heyday of Hollywood, when its movies described the world, laying out its cultural templates, and woe betide anyone who strayed from the Grand Design. I must have been asleep when they gave those lessons coz look at me now.

Anna May Wong was beautiful and authentically Chinese but she had far too much going on inside. Unless she blanded herself utterly, her natural charisma and thought-processes would have upset the symmetry and harmony of white folk’s art.

That‘s not to say the film isn’t worth seeing. If you can suspend disbelief at the racial origins of the actors, you can marvel at the sheer gorgeousness of Hollywood cinematography at its height. Something else Kevin Brownlow told me but we didn't have time to include in the final cut: how did the director achieve the amazing effect of vast clouds of locusts swarming across the Chinese landscape at the climax of the film? They turned the film upside down and placed a tank of water in front of it. Then, as the film was running, they poured coffee grounds into the tank so they swirled in dark clouds. Then they turned the film the right way and it looks as if tonnes of locust biomass is rising above puny humanity. Fantastic!

Madam Miaow says ...The Good Earth. Gorgeous looking but another set of invisible chains I can do without, thank you very much.

The Good Earth — directed by Sidney Franklin, Victor Fleming (uncredited) and Gustav Machaty

Anna Chen writes and presents Anna May Wong: A Celestial Star in Piccadilly, broadcast 11:30am Tuesday 13th January 2009. Listen again online for seven days after transmission.

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Sunday, 28 December 2008

Israel massacre in Gaza: 270 dead and rising


Not content with trying to starve out an entire population with the blockade on Gaza, Israel has now used the cover of the Christmas period to attack the Gazan people directly with massive air strikes.

Since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, 9 Israelis have been killed, while 1,400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces during the same period. But casting all sense of proportion aside, Israel is the terror state that slams missiles into blocks of flats, killing civilian residents just because it believes an enemy is living there. It is now using US supplied F-16 fighter aircraft and state of the art technology to further crush civilians who voted in a way that displeased it.

The death tally is pushing 300 including 40 police cadets at a passing out parade (picture below).



Their excuse is that, since the end of the six month truce on December 19th, Hamas has been firing rockets into Israel territory. Reports vary with up to three Israelis killed. While any innocent death is one too many, there’s something pathetic and symbolic in these attacks. Yet every day Gazans are dying from lack of medicine and food denied them by the Israeli siege.

One Palestinian voice quoted at Socialist Unity website points out:
“Any response to Israeli attacks — whether peaceful protests against the apartheid wall in Bilin and Nilin in the West Bank is met with bullets and bombs. There are no rockets launched at Israel from the West Bank, and yet Israel’s attacks, killings, land theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never ceased for one single day during the truce. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has acceded to all of Israel’s demands, even assembling “security forces” to fight the resistance on Israel’s behalf. None of that has spared a single Palestinian or her property or livelihood from Israel’s relentless violent colonization.”

Another post at SU reminds us:
"A sobering thought to consider that 60 years ago 530 Palestinian towns and villages were depopulated and destroyed, and that 750,000 men, women, and children were forcibly expelled by Zionist terrorist organisations like the Stern Gang and Irgun in the process of 78 percent of historic Palestine being expropriated."

Israel has turned from David fighting Goliath into Godzilla, mindlessly smashing through a people already weakened by a two-year blockade preventing deliveries of food, fuel, printed materials and medical supplies. There are battery chickens treated better than this.

BTW, you know who created Hamas? Israel did as a religious counterweight to the secular Al Fatah. A bit like when the US backed the Mojahadeen against the Russians in early 1980s Afghanistan and sowed the seeds of Al Qaida.

STOP PRESS
Israel broke ceasefire 5th November. Story here
Obama on holiday in Hawaii says, "No comment".
Iranian leader Khamenei tells all Muslims to defend the women and children of Gaza against Israeli raids. More here.
Times online article on Hamas
Israeli trade unions protest against the bombardment.
"We know from our members that they have to travel 200 kilometers each day, like the nine who were injured in Ashkelon , just to find a place that is willing to hire them. ..."

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Israel massacre in Gaza: 270 dead and rising


Not content with trying to starve out an entire population with the blockade on Gaza, Israel has now used the cover of the Christmas period to attack the Gazan people directly with massive air strikes.

Since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, 9 Israelis have been killed, while 1,400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces during the same period. But casting all sense of proportion aside, Israel is the terror state that slams missiles into blocks of flats, killing civilian residents just because it believes an enemy is living there. It is now using US supplied F-16 fighter aircraft and state of the art technology to further crush civilians who voted in a way that displeased it.

The death tally is pushing 300 including 40 police cadets at a passing out parade (picture below).



Their excuse is that, since the end of the six month truce on December 19th, Hamas has been firing rockets into Israel territory. Reports vary with up to three Israelis killed. While any innocent death is one too many, there’s something pathetic and symbolic in these attacks. Yet every day Gazans are dying from lack of medicine and food denied them by the Israeli siege.

One Palestinian voice quoted at Socialist Unity website points out:
“Any response to Israeli attacks — whether peaceful protests against the apartheid wall in Bilin and Nilin in the West Bank is met with bullets and bombs. There are no rockets launched at Israel from the West Bank, and yet Israel’s attacks, killings, land theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never ceased for one single day during the truce. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has acceded to all of Israel’s demands, even assembling “security forces” to fight the resistance on Israel’s behalf. None of that has spared a single Palestinian or her property or livelihood from Israel’s relentless violent colonization.”

Another post at SU reminds us:
"A sobering thought to consider that 60 years ago 530 Palestinian towns and villages were depopulated and destroyed, and that 750,000 men, women, and children were forcibly expelled by Zionist terrorist organisations like the Stern Gang and Irgun in the process of 78 percent of historic Palestine being expropriated."

Israel has turned from David fighting Goliath into Godzilla, mindlessly smashing through a people already weakened by a two-year blockade preventing deliveries of food, fuel, printed materials and medical supplies. There are battery chickens treated better than this.

BTW, you know who created Hamas? Israel did as a religious counterweight to the secular Al Fatah. A bit like when the US backed the Mojahadeen against the Russians in early 1980s Afghanistan and sowed the seeds of Al Qaida.

STOP PRESS
Israel broke ceasefire 5th November. Story here
Obama on holiday in Hawaii says, "No comment".
Iranian leader Khamenei tells all Muslims to defend the women and children of Gaza against Israeli raids. More here.
Times online article on Hamas
Israeli trade unions protest against the bombardment.
"We know from our members that they have to travel 200 kilometers each day, like the nine who were injured in Ashkelon , just to find a place that is willing to hire them. ..."

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Friday, 26 December 2008

Harold Pinter's dead. So is Eartha Kitt


Harold Pinter’s dead.

And so is Eartha Kitt. Two heroes in one day.

This is a shout out to my home boy, Harold Pinter, playwright, screenwriter, actor and political activist, who died on Christmas Eve aged 78.

We were very proud of Harold Pinter in Hackney. Everyone knew that Harold and an actor, once called Maurice Micklewhite but now renamed Michael Caine, had gone to Grocers School at Hackney Downs, the “Eton & Harrow for clever working-class boys” in east and north London. From my bedroom I could see it nestled in the cleavage of the Liverpool Street line where it splits to go to Chingford or Enfield. Before it was "failed" by the Tories and then turned over to some millionaire entrepreneur friend of Labour for his plaything, that school was once a hotbed of cultural talent, with another smart Jewish lad, Steven Berkoff, also going on to great things in theatre (although never an “A” lister like Harold and Michael).

The 1950s and 60s being the era when a bright working-class male could soar up the society food-chain on his own wits with none of the old-school-tie networks sitting heavy around your throat like a hangman’s knot because privilege was a right turn-off, a time when every Baronet’s daughter wanted to sleep with the barrow boy, Harold made good.

His most famous breakthrough plays were The Caretaker, The Dumb Waiter and The Birthday Party, all guaranteed to épater le bourgeoisie. But my current favourite which cracks me up is No Man’s Land. (I yam Spooner.)

While tailors and hairdressers were determining the look of the 1960s, Harold shaped the very language, adding “Pinteresque” to the dictionary. He changed our perceptions and preoccupations, writing about power balances and the hypocrisy wielded by those in power. He wrote about the microcosmic power abuses at the personal level between individuals, which helped us understand what we were looking at when they were writ large in the world by our warmongering leaders. (The same lefties who squawk about bourgeois individualism, comically unaware of their own contraditions, also like Pinter.)

He never abdicated his responsibility as a member of the human race. Never a mere observer, he was brilliant on the war and never lost his sense of outrage and horror, unlike the cool and the hip and the plain bloody callous who mocked him for having a conscience. And using it.

Fucking Pinter’s fucking dead. Now for a fucking long Pinteresque pause …



Eartha Kitt, she of the amazing voice like melted 85 per cent chocolate, has also passed on this Christmas. Eartha made one of the best Catwomen ever and had Orson Welles on his knees, calling her, “the most exciting woman in the world”. Listen to her sing the double-entendre “Let’s Do It” in her trademark single-entendre style. Her “Just An Old Fashioned Girl” was my hymn in childhood. “ ... I want an old fash-i-oned mill-yona-a-a-aire” ... where did I go wrong? (Oh, yeah! New Labour got them all.)

Harold and Eartha — RIP

Also badly missed, poet Adrian Mitchell.



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Harold Pinter's dead. So is Eartha Kitt


Harold Pinter’s dead.

And so is Eartha Kitt. Two heroes in one day.

This is a shout out to my home boy, Harold Pinter, playwright, screenwriter, actor and political activist, who died on Christmas Eve aged 78.

We were very proud of Harold Pinter in Hackney. Everyone knew that Harold and an actor, once called Maurice Micklewhite but now renamed Michael Caine, had gone to Grocers School at Hackney Downs, the “Eton & Harrow for clever working-class boys” in east and north London. From my bedroom I could see it nestled in the cleavage of the Liverpool Street line where it splits to go to Chingford or Enfield. Before it was "failed" by the Tories and then turned over to some millionaire entrepreneur friend of Labour for his plaything, that school was once a hotbed of cultural talent, with another smart Jewish lad, Steven Berkoff, also going on to great things in theatre (although never an “A” lister like Harold and Michael).

The 1950s and 60s being the era when a bright working-class male could soar up the society food-chain on his own wits with none of the old-school-tie networks sitting heavy around your throat like a hangman’s knot because privilege was a right turn-off, a time when every Baronet’s daughter wanted to sleep with the barrow boy, Harold made good.

His most famous breakthrough plays were The Caretaker, The Dumb Waiter and The Birthday Party, all guaranteed to épater le bourgeoisie. But my current favourite which cracks me up is No Man’s Land. (I yam Spooner.)

While tailors and hairdressers were determining the look of the 1960s, Harold shaped the very language, adding “Pinteresque” to the dictionary. He changed our perceptions and preoccupations, writing about power balances and the hypocrisy wielded by those in power. He wrote about the microcosmic power abuses at the personal level between individuals, which helped us understand what we were looking at when they were writ large in the world by our warmongering leaders. (The same lefties who squawk about bourgeois individualism, comically unaware of their own contraditions, also like Pinter.)

He never abdicated his responsibility as a member of the human race. Never a mere observer, he was brilliant on the war and never lost his sense of outrage and horror, unlike the cool and the hip and the plain bloody callous who mocked him for having a conscience. And using it.

Fucking Pinter’s fucking dead. Now for a fucking long Pinteresque pause …



Eartha Kitt, she of the amazing voice like melted 85 per cent chocolate, has also passed on this Christmas. Eartha made one of the best Catwomen ever and had Orson Welles on his knees, calling her, “the most exciting woman in the world”. Listen to her sing the double-entendre “Let’s Do It” in her trademark single-entendre style. Her “Just An Old Fashioned Girl” was my hymn in childhood. “ ... I want an old fash-i-oned mill-yona-a-a-aire” ... where did I go wrong? (Oh, yeah! New Labour got them all.)

Harold and Eartha — RIP

Also badly missed, poet Adrian Mitchell.



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Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas cheer in the age of the credit crunch

Bad Santa says, "Gimme all your money and help the poor bankers this Xmas"

Merry Christmas and festive greetings to all my fellow bloggers and readers.

Our oven's on the fritz so for the first time EVAH I have no Xmas duck. However, Santa may be bringing a big steak for the Big Day, with a knob of duck pate on top as a sort of poor person's Tournedos Rossini (I have no recipe. I am just making this up and hoping that pond and pasture make for a good mix). Washed down with Baileys and Snowballs. Mmmm .... Good thing I have a stomach of steel. The lining, that is, not the abs. Sadly.

We moved the big TV from its usual place where it dominates the room and takes up acres of space, as well as being a dead giveaway over my predilection for too much telly. It's out of the way in the fireplace (unlit) and I'm now gazing forlornly at the hole in the room where a Xmas tree should have stood. I have decorations going back to my childhood and putting up the tree is always a fabulous way of invoking ghosts from the past. But we missed it.

Make the most of this year's Xmas cheer. Next year our fairy might be perched on a twig with a single glass ball — broke — and we might be dining on a potato nicked from an allotment, roasted on the open fire of what remains of our lives.

The Age of Enlightenment. Was that it, then?

Bah humbug but very sweetly.

Madam Miaow

Anna May Wong: Celestial Star of Piccadilly
Anna Chen writes and presents a half-hour profile of Hollywood's first Chinese movie star for BBC Radio 4. 
To be broadcast 11:30, Tuesday 13th January 2009, coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the making of Anna May's British hit,
Piccadilly.
Listen online for seven days after broadcast

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Heroes: Soldiers get the X-Factor



Is popular culture the highest form of expression which humans en masse can achieve? Or industrial product designed to plant false consciousness?

With the X-Factor finalists' video and single supporting British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, it looks like the cynics win. The government’s failing war propaganda has received a massive yuletide boost thanks to Simon Cowell and the release of his army advertorial in time for Baby Jesus’s birthday.

Shame the Three Magi didn’t have modern technology or they could have brought Him gold, frankincense, myrrh and a video knocked up by Pontius Pilate showing “our boys”, the Romans, and all their Good Works in Judea.

Hmm. What would Jesus do?

Dunno, but Irish site, Eirigi, has edited their own version of the X-Factor video with all the pertinent bits added — such as what soldiers actually do out there — just so you can make up your own mind (video above).

No doubt a gong awaits Cowell for services rendered to the Dark Forces.

Madam Miaow says ... Higher Trash is a thing of beauty, wonder, transcendence and joy. Then there’s the Lower Trash. Then there’s this ...

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Heroes: Soldiers get the X-Factor



Is popular culture the highest form of expression which humans en masse can achieve? Or industrial product designed to plant false consciousness?

With the X-Factor finalists' video and single supporting British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, it looks like the cynics win. The government’s failing war propaganda has received a massive yuletide boost thanks to Simon Cowell and the release of his army advertorial in time for Baby Jesus’s birthday.

Shame the Three Magi didn’t have modern technology or they could have brought Him gold, frankincense, myrrh and a video knocked up by Pontius Pilate showing “our boys”, the Romans, and all their Good Works in Judea.

Hmm. What would Jesus do?

Dunno, but Irish site, Eirigi, has edited their own version of the X-Factor video with all the pertinent bits added — such as what soldiers actually do out there — just so you can make up your own mind (video above).

No doubt a gong awaits Cowell for services rendered to the Dark Forces.

Madam Miaow says ... Higher Trash is a thing of beauty, wonder, transcendence and joy. Then there’s the Lower Trash. Then there’s this ...

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Friday, 19 December 2008

Dog hero rescues dog on freeway


Hero dog rescues another dog on a Chilean motorway in speeding traffic. Amazing video.

Madam Miaow says ... There's more solidarity on show here than I've ever seen from my lovely comrades currently ripping themselves apart in the left. Perhaps they should watch ... and learn.


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Dog hero rescues dog on freeway


Hero dog rescues another dog on a Chilean motorway in speeding traffic. Amazing video.

Madam Miaow says ... There's more solidarity on show here than I've ever seen from my lovely comrades currently ripping themselves apart in the left. Perhaps they should watch ... and learn.


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Sunday, 14 December 2008

Obama placates angry Asians: How politics works


President-elect Barack Obama’s appointment of pugnacious banker Rahm Emanuel as his Chief-of-Staff couldn’t have been more controversial, what with Rahmbo’s volunteer service in the Israel Defence Forces, his support of Bush’s Iraq war, and advocacy of compulsory “universal sevice” for all young Americans.

But then Obama nominated New Mexico governor Bill Richardson for commerce secretary, an appointment which pitched Latinos and Asian-Americans against each other. Richardson displayed none of the racial sensitivity he reserves for his Hispanic constituency when he helped prosecute Taiwanese-American Wen Ho Lee, a former nuclear scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, for spying ten years ago.

"This was the major Chinese-American civil rights case in the last 30 years,'' said Albert Wang, a Fremont physician. "And there was a feeling among many Chinese-Americans, particularly in Silicon Valley, that Bill Richardson did a lot to promote the notion that all Chinese-Americans are potential spies.''

"Wen Ho Lee bore the brunt of Richardson's actions, but there were many Chinese-American scientists who felt great fear,'' said Der, who once headed Chinese for Affirmative Action in San Francisco. "Even I got a visit from the FBI, and I'm not a scientist.''

Gee, how was Obama gonna get all the US Asians on board?

Hmmm, how to mollify a substantial minority with financial clout and an eye on political power?

Meanwhile, and entirely unconnected, Obama’s cabinet gets an Asian. It looks like science super-egghead and Nobel Laureate Dr Stephen Chu will be Head of the Department of Energy where his remit is biofuels, a poisoned chalice if ever there was one.

Hated by the big coal producers AND loathed by environmentalists, I don’t fancy Chu's chances.

Madam Miaow says ... Hey, Steve, the vessel with the pestle has the pellet with the poison. The chalice from the palace has the brew that is true. Doh! No, the flagon with the dragon holds the brew that is true ... Don't trust the gweilo!

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Obama placates angry Asians: How politics works


President-elect Barack Obama’s appointment of pugnacious banker Rahm Emanuel as his Chief-of-Staff couldn’t have been more controversial, what with Rahmbo’s volunteer service in the Israel Defence Forces, his support of Bush’s Iraq war, and advocacy of compulsory “universal sevice” for all young Americans.

But then Obama nominated New Mexico governor Bill Richardson for commerce secretary, an appointment which pitched Latinos and Asian-Americans against each other. Richardson displayed none of the racial sensitivity he reserves for his Hispanic constituency when he helped prosecute Taiwanese-American Wen Ho Lee, a former nuclear scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, for spying ten years ago.

"This was the major Chinese-American civil rights case in the last 30 years,'' said Albert Wang, a Fremont physician. "And there was a feeling among many Chinese-Americans, particularly in Silicon Valley, that Bill Richardson did a lot to promote the notion that all Chinese-Americans are potential spies.''

"Wen Ho Lee bore the brunt of Richardson's actions, but there were many Chinese-American scientists who felt great fear,'' said Der, who once headed Chinese for Affirmative Action in San Francisco. "Even I got a visit from the FBI, and I'm not a scientist.''

Gee, how was Obama gonna get all the US Asians on board?

Hmmm, how to mollify a substantial minority with financial clout and an eye on political power?

Meanwhile, and entirely unconnected, Obama’s cabinet gets an Asian. It looks like science super-egghead and Nobel Laureate Dr Stephen Chu will be Head of the Department of Energy where his remit is biofuels, a poisoned chalice if ever there was one.

Hated by the big coal producers AND loathed by environmentalists, I don’t fancy Chu's chances.

Madam Miaow says ... Hey, Steve, the vessel with the pestle has the pellet with the poison. The chalice from the palace has the brew that is true. Doh! No, the flagon with the dragon holds the brew that is true ... Don't trust the gweilo!

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Saturday, 13 December 2008

Things We Hope Are True: the Blagojevich Emanuel wiretap


Wiretap on line 312-XXX-XXXX
November 10th, 2008
12:42 PM Eastern Time

Rush transcript:

RAHM EMANUEL: This is Rahm.

ROD BLAGOJEVICH: Hey Rahm, yeah it's Rod.

EMANUEL: Uh-huh. What's going on governor, I'm busy.

BLAGO: Well, it's about that Senate appointment...

EMANUEL: We already gave you the list of people we like.

BLAGO: Yeah, I been looking the list over. Interesting names. Good people.
How's the transition going?

EMANUEL: It's going fine, governor. Are you calling to fucking tell me anything, or what, cause I--

BLAGO: No no, I'm just wondering if you have all your picks already made. I heard something about Dashle for HHS--

EMANUEL: I'm not gonna discuss ongoing deliberations, gov, you know that.


BLAGO: Hey, come on Rahm, let's not act like I'm a stranger here.

EMANUEL: Did I call you a stranger? If I thought you were a stranger, you think I'd be interrupting my important fucking business to take this goddam fucking phone call?

BLAGO: Hey you don't have to get curt with me, Rahm.

EMANUEL: This isn't me being curt, Gov, this is me being fucking busy. Now what did you call about?

BLAGO: I'm just feeling you out, seeing if Valerie [Jarret] still wants that Senate seat, just wondering what kind of priority that is for the President-Elect.

EMANUEL: Actually, it's not a priority. Valerie's had second thoughts about the job.

BLAGO: What, she doesn't want it anymore?

EMANUEL: She's having second thoughts. You want more details, you ask her.

BLAGO: She won't take my calls.

EMANUEL: Big fucking surprise.

BLAGO: What's that supposed to mean?

EMANUEL: Um, I don't know, what's it supposed to mean governor? A.) You're a fucking crook. B.) You're a fucking asshole. C.) All of the above.

BLAGO: I'm clean Rahm, you know this. You think that fucking Fitzgerald would being twiddling his fucking thumbs if he had shit to go on?

EMANUEL: I gotta go, Gov. You appoint who you want, we don't really give a shit.

BLAGO: What if I appoint Valerie, what if she takes it?

EMANUEL: What do you want me to say? We'd appreciate it, I'm not gonna fucking kiss your ring over it.

BLAGO: "Appreciate it"? Come on, this is a senate seat we're talking about. It's worth a fuck of a lot more than appreciation.

EMANUEL: You asked us for a list, we gave you a fucking list, you want to make your own list then make your own fucking list. [Raising voice] But if you're asking for anything else from me, or Barack, or Valerie, then you can fucking stop talking right now Rod.


BLAGO: Wait a sec there Rahm. Wait just a fucking minute. Who are you to talk to me like that? I fucking made you.

EMANUEL: You made me? You made me? Tell me you're fucking joking.

BLAGO: No no no, you listen to me shit-face. You see this list I got, the names motherfucking Obama fucking wants for the Senate. I just ripped it in two. How you like that? Oops, Harris just dropped it in the shredder. Harris?

HARRIS (muffled): Yes sir?

BLAGO: Did you just drop that list in the shredder?

[Whirring, shredder noise]

HARRIS (muffled): I did.

EMANUEL: Do you have me on fucking speakerphone?

BLAGO: It's in the shredder, Rahm. The list is bye bye.

EMANUEL: Hold on a sec -- you got me on fucking speakerphone? Who the fuck do you think I am?

BLAGO: Who are you Rahm? Who are you? You're shit, you hear me? Don't come back to Chicago Rahm, it's not your town any more.

EMANUEL: Pick up the phone Rod.

BLAGO: I'll put someone in the senate who will fucking fuck you. I might even put myself in there, how you like that Rahm? How you gonna explain that to fucking Barack, every time he's gotta call me up for my fucking vote. He'd have to take my calls then, wouldn't he?

EMANUEL: [Screaming] I said pick up the FUCKING phone!

BLAGO: [Picks up phone, speakerphone off] I got your attention now, didn't I?

EMANUEL: Shut the fuck up and listen to me for one second Rod. And I want you to listen carefully, because this is the last time I'm ever going to talk to you. You are fucking dead to me. You been fucking dead to Barack since '06, now you're dead to me. Know what that means? That means you're dead to my people in Chicago, Daley on down, and all these friends you think you have aren't gonna touch you with a ten foot fucking pole.

BLAGO: Oh now you're the fucking Godfather? Fuck you.

EMANUEL: No fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.

BLAGO: Fuck you!

EMANUEL: Listen up asshole. The shit's gonna hit the fan, maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, and when Fitz finally brings down the hammer it's gonna be my name that's going through your head. You won't know the hows or the fucking whys, but it's gonna have my fucking fingerprints all over it. Have a great life fatso.

BLAGO: Hey fuck--

EMANUEL: [Click.]

End of conversation


FBI File #9536B

HAT TIP: CSM and Harmony Central. Not forgetting existenz at the Daily Kos

STOP PRESS: For my fellow Brits who may not be aware, Ron Blagojevich is the Governor of Illinois caught via a wiretap allegedly trying to sell Obama's vacated seat for half a mill. No-one knows who tipped off the FBI but newly appointed Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been sporting a shit-eating grin the size of Chicago.

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Things We Hope Are True: the Blagojevich Emanuel wiretap


Wiretap on line 312-XXX-XXXX
November 10th, 2008
12:42 PM Eastern Time

Rush transcript:

RAHM EMANUEL: This is Rahm.

ROD BLAGOJEVICH: Hey Rahm, yeah it's Rod.

EMANUEL: Uh-huh. What's going on governor, I'm busy.

BLAGO: Well, it's about that Senate appointment...

EMANUEL: We already gave you the list of people we like.

BLAGO: Yeah, I been looking the list over. Interesting names. Good people.
How's the transition going?

EMANUEL: It's going fine, governor. Are you calling to fucking tell me anything, or what, cause I--

BLAGO: No no, I'm just wondering if you have all your picks already made. I heard something about Dashle for HHS--

EMANUEL: I'm not gonna discuss ongoing deliberations, gov, you know that.


BLAGO: Hey, come on Rahm, let's not act like I'm a stranger here.

EMANUEL: Did I call you a stranger? If I thought you were a stranger, you think I'd be interrupting my important fucking business to take this goddam fucking phone call?

BLAGO: Hey you don't have to get curt with me, Rahm.

EMANUEL: This isn't me being curt, Gov, this is me being fucking busy. Now what did you call about?

BLAGO: I'm just feeling you out, seeing if Valerie [Jarret] still wants that Senate seat, just wondering what kind of priority that is for the President-Elect.

EMANUEL: Actually, it's not a priority. Valerie's had second thoughts about the job.

BLAGO: What, she doesn't want it anymore?

EMANUEL: She's having second thoughts. You want more details, you ask her.

BLAGO: She won't take my calls.

EMANUEL: Big fucking surprise.

BLAGO: What's that supposed to mean?

EMANUEL: Um, I don't know, what's it supposed to mean governor? A.) You're a fucking crook. B.) You're a fucking asshole. C.) All of the above.

BLAGO: I'm clean Rahm, you know this. You think that fucking Fitzgerald would being twiddling his fucking thumbs if he had shit to go on?

EMANUEL: I gotta go, Gov. You appoint who you want, we don't really give a shit.

BLAGO: What if I appoint Valerie, what if she takes it?

EMANUEL: What do you want me to say? We'd appreciate it, I'm not gonna fucking kiss your ring over it.

BLAGO: "Appreciate it"? Come on, this is a senate seat we're talking about. It's worth a fuck of a lot more than appreciation.

EMANUEL: You asked us for a list, we gave you a fucking list, you want to make your own list then make your own fucking list. [Raising voice] But if you're asking for anything else from me, or Barack, or Valerie, then you can fucking stop talking right now Rod.


BLAGO: Wait a sec there Rahm. Wait just a fucking minute. Who are you to talk to me like that? I fucking made you.

EMANUEL: You made me? You made me? Tell me you're fucking joking.

BLAGO: No no no, you listen to me shit-face. You see this list I got, the names motherfucking Obama fucking wants for the Senate. I just ripped it in two. How you like that? Oops, Harris just dropped it in the shredder. Harris?

HARRIS (muffled): Yes sir?

BLAGO: Did you just drop that list in the shredder?

[Whirring, shredder noise]

HARRIS (muffled): I did.

EMANUEL: Do you have me on fucking speakerphone?

BLAGO: It's in the shredder, Rahm. The list is bye bye.

EMANUEL: Hold on a sec -- you got me on fucking speakerphone? Who the fuck do you think I am?

BLAGO: Who are you Rahm? Who are you? You're shit, you hear me? Don't come back to Chicago Rahm, it's not your town any more.

EMANUEL: Pick up the phone Rod.

BLAGO: I'll put someone in the senate who will fucking fuck you. I might even put myself in there, how you like that Rahm? How you gonna explain that to fucking Barack, every time he's gotta call me up for my fucking vote. He'd have to take my calls then, wouldn't he?

EMANUEL: [Screaming] I said pick up the FUCKING phone!

BLAGO: [Picks up phone, speakerphone off] I got your attention now, didn't I?

EMANUEL: Shut the fuck up and listen to me for one second Rod. And I want you to listen carefully, because this is the last time I'm ever going to talk to you. You are fucking dead to me. You been fucking dead to Barack since '06, now you're dead to me. Know what that means? That means you're dead to my people in Chicago, Daley on down, and all these friends you think you have aren't gonna touch you with a ten foot fucking pole.

BLAGO: Oh now you're the fucking Godfather? Fuck you.

EMANUEL: No fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.

BLAGO: Fuck you!

EMANUEL: Listen up asshole. The shit's gonna hit the fan, maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, and when Fitz finally brings down the hammer it's gonna be my name that's going through your head. You won't know the hows or the fucking whys, but it's gonna have my fucking fingerprints all over it. Have a great life fatso.

BLAGO: Hey fuck--

EMANUEL: [Click.]

End of conversation


FBI File #9536B

HAT TIP: CSM and Harmony Central. Not forgetting existenz at the Daily Kos

STOP PRESS: For my fellow Brits who may not be aware, Ron Blagojevich is the Governor of Illinois caught via a wiretap allegedly trying to sell Obama's vacated seat for half a mill. No-one knows who tipped off the FBI but newly appointed Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been sporting a shit-eating grin the size of Chicago.

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