Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Open Letter to Lt.Col. Barry Johnson, CPIC

Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2006 13:09:16-0700(PDT)
Subject: Recent Interview on Pat Campbell's show.
To: barry.alan.johnson@us.army.mil,
To: barry.johnson@iraq.centcom.mil

Lt.Col Johnson:

I happened to be listening to Pat Campbell's show when I heard him ask you if you knew Michael Yon. You may think it was my imagination - but I'm sure I heard you gasp as you were not only blindsided by the question but clearly uncomfortable at the mere mention of Michael Yon's name. A five second gap of silence on radio does not go unnoticed; the emnity you were harboring was palpable.

I'm sure a few people were touched by your deep concern for Michael's well-being, but surely you, better than most people, understand that you cannot spin to a PR savvy audience - especially to someone who has worked in Hollywood as long as I have- so don't insult me or Michael's far reaching, savvy and very influential global audience, by trying to do so.

I have a quote from you which appeared in TMCnet.com in March and subsequently went viral in various news media forms in which you state that CPIC:

"tries to support what the commander wants, since they're fighting the war. We don't turn down embeds at all. When we get a request, it may be very specific or broader. We go to the unit involved. They manage their own embeds! We don't force them to take anyone; we\'re not going to force anyone to interact with media. We may offer advice and talk to them about their reasoning. In the end, we respect the wishes of the unit."

So which
lie do you want me and over 1 million weekly readers of Michael Yon's on-line magazine, not to mention Pat Campbells audience, to believe?? The one I just quoted or the one you told us in that interview with Pat Campbell ( an MP3 version will be circulating the Internet and blogosphere rather quickly) in which you admited turning down Mike Yon's embed?

While I am sure
you believe your concern for his personal safety and well-being is heartfelt and noble, I find it utterly disingenuous.

After all, Pat Dollard, who I know personally, isn't sponsored by any MSM media, his financial health is in dire straits and he was injured TWICE, once very seriously, while being embedded with the Marines on two separate trips to Iraq. Apparently your concern for health and welfare of embeds stops at Michael Yon. Do you think that's fair??

Stop spinning Barry - you're lousy at it - you couldn't spin your way out of the mess you created when you decided to PAY to have stories planted in the Iraqi media in order to control the dissemination of information - and you can't spin your way out of the
this truth - that your personal biased agenda partly fueled by a desire to prevent some truths about this war from being reported by Michael Yon, but more likely to punish him for having the audacity to take legal action against the PAO for the blatant theft of his intellectual property- are the ONLY reasons you have chosen to deny him an embed.

I do remember Michael having been credentialed by The Weekly Standard, yet his embed has still been denied.

I have read your Hold Harmless agreement, which indemifies the Military from any harm any journalist incurs. To claim that you won't allow him to embed regardless of his signing this agreement
proves that there is another agenda at stake.

The Marines, the soldiers, their families and those of us in the civilian world that still support this war - and understand that Iraq is a big, complicated problem and that while the mainstream media flee or hunker down deeper in their hotel fortresses, the Western world's understanding of Iraq suffers with each passing second - want Mike Yon and Walt Gaya in the frontlines in order to salvage the mess being inflicted upon the general populace, created by an inept PAO which under your directorship, is responsible for doing a major disservice to the those who lay their lives on the line for freedom and truth.

Nothing you say or offer up to the press can be trusted since you have proven yourself to be disingenuous, incompetent, and a really bad liar!

Your unsuccessful effort at spinning the truth regarding Michael Yon, your senseless denial of his embed request, and your even more unsuccessful effort at winning over the media and by fiat the hearts and minds of ALL Americans with regards to our war on terror resulting in the undocumented efforts and success of our troops is
not a legacy you should be proud of.

Does it make you feel
somewhat humbled to know that the terrorists have been better able to work the media in their favor than you have in ours?.

Quoting Sec Def Rumsfeld:

"We've arrived at a strange time in this country where the worst about America and our military seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press, and reported and spread around the world, often with little context and little scrutiny, let alone correction or accountability after the fact"

Had it not
been for Michael Yon- a writer who possesses a better understanding of military ops than most credentialed journalists on the big media payrolls, who can and does provide full context to the events he witnesses, who continues to be interviewed by major print, radio, tv and on-line media as the GOLD standard for ALL coverage in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and who garners the respect of generals, a long list of Lt.Col's, grunts, Marines, airmen, seamen, special forces, Hollywood celebs, and even "administration hating, anti military, lets cut and run" Democrats - this war would have been completely lost on the homefront in 2005 thanks to a biased agenda filled media, thus handing over a huge victory to jihadists around the world; and not even your plan to pay for good news to be planted in the media could have salvaged that scenario.

People want the whole picture - something besides combat- which is exactly what Michael Yon provided in his evocative, insightful, informative, riveting and honest dispatches. Yet
you deny him an embed for personal reasons and then mislead the public as to why you took this ludicrous action.

This is reprehensible
Lt.Col, simply reprehensible. It smacks of censorship, a vendetta, and an overall misguided need to control the dissemination of information from both Iraq and Afghanistan - none of which bodes well for you, the Military and especially our troops in harms way.

I seriously question and strongly doubt your commitment to ensuring that the entire truth -
good bad and ugly- reaches the minds and hearts of a global populace.

I just returned from LA - where I spent time with many of those I've worked with during my 10 years of being an agent in Hollywood. The Hollywood elites HATE the military and this Administration and feel they were lied to about why Iraq needed to be invaded and Saddam removed from power, but, in
every conversation I've had Mike Yon is cited as the best and most trusted source that they read. There are offers being fielded to turn his soon -to- be -released book "The Battle For Mosul" into a film project. In relaying to these people why his embed has been denied (based on what you said in this radio interview and what Mike wrote on his website) the response has been that once again the man at the heart of, if not directly responsible for paying to have good news placed in the media shines the spotlight on why anything coming out of Military Public Affairs Offices is subject to skepticism.

Again I ask you,
Lt Col Johnson - is THIS the legacy you want both personally and professionally?

Let me be clear that this isn't just "small talk" amongst jaded celebs - this meme is growing fast and going viral - and not just among Democrats but among the Hollywood Republicans - one who is a very important political figure and running for re election - and also among milbloggers, media bloggers, and those responsible for ultimately taking down Dan Rather at CBS and Eason Jordan at CNN.

It is a well known fact that the Pentagon Public Affairs has reached out to bloggers writing about the military and continues to do so. Bill Roggio was

invited to embed with the Marines by Col. Lapan who arranged his embed. In Lapan's view: "We have invited bloggers . . . to embed in an effort to tell the story. Bloggers, in my mind, are just another means to communicate accurate, truthful information about what we do"

Marine Col. Lapan GETS IT. Either you don't which means you should NOT be the CPIC Director - or you do - which means you refused Mike Yon's embed soley to exercise a personal vendetta.

I cannot sit by idly as you continue to contribute to the souring of media and military relations that both Joe Galloway and Marine
Col Lapan have cited:

"I see things headed in the wrong direction. I don't think we're at the point we were post-Vietnam, but it's headed that way."

We have
lost this war in the media, Sir, and as the CPIC Director, you remain completely accountable for that failure.

I have already contacted influential Generals and Lt.Col's I know personally - some stateside and some now deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan - who have praised Mike Yon and who want him embeded with their units. I further intend to contact a rather extensive list of milbloggers, as well as more Republican and Democrats elites in Hollywood and the political arena.

This will go viral, Lt.Col. Johnson, and it will blowback on you professionally as it becomes clear that you have done a HUGE disservice to our troops, their families, the Military in general, our President, the media and the American people.

I ask you to put aside your personal vendetta, your pettiness and your ego, and to please provide Mike Yon and his team with any embeds he requests.

And furthermore, I ask that you stop standing in the way of others who have requested embeds and for no understandable reason, been denied.

Pajamas Media "How Many Embedded Reporters Cover The Iraq War"
The Belmont Club - "Censorship By The Military"
The Adventures of Chester " Michael Yon Names Names

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Death Of A President - Redux

Early this morning I blogged about the hightly controversial film, Death of a President, which screened at The Toronto Film Festival Sunday nite. I thought this film was a waste of my time and a waste of celluloid. Michael Philips, of The Chicago Tribune, was also not impressed. Here is an excerpt from his review aptly titled " A slow Death Of A President"

Having seen it, I can say that "Death of a President" keeps its tone civil and its pace measured, to a fault. It's a bit of a grind. While Range certainly has a political agenda, he's going for a brand of hushed realism bordering on the mundane. It's best considered as a well-sustained technical experiment in a certain style.

The film was greeted with polite applause and, in a post-screening discussion, director Range thanked Bush for "very kindly [coming] to Chicago twice" while Range and his crew were there filmin

Gabriel Range, the film's director, admitted in an interview in the LA Times, that he deceived the White House officials in order film footage of the President on his visit to Chicago.

And it what has to be one of the most delusional and twisted attempts to justify portraying President Bush as the assassination victim, Gabriel had this to say:

"I can understand how some people will find the premise offensive. But I think it's absolutely justified. The whole point is for the film to be about America today. And it couldn't be about America today - not the real America- if it didn't involve the real president. You just react differently to this as an audience than you would if it were, say the president, on "24"
Kevin Costner, a rather savvy knowledgeable person when it comes to how audiences react, came out in strong opposition to D O A P saying that Range failed to consider how the Presidents family would react to scenes of the President being assassinated.

It's awfully hard if you're his children, his wife, his mother, his dad: thee a certain thing we can't lose as human beings, which is empathy for maybe the hardest job in the world. Whether we think it's being performed right or not we can't, like, wish......or think that's even cute"

Thank God someone in Hollywacked has the intelligence and sensitivity to understand how completely offensive this premise is.

Critically this film has flopped - but that hasn't stopped Newmarket Distribution - the company that distributed Mel Gibson's "The Passion Of Christ" - from ponying up the ludicrous sum of $1 million dollars for the North American distribution rights to this piece of boring overhyped waste of celluloid.

Thanks "OC Boy" for the tip about Kevin
Read more at World Net Daily.

Death of A President aka DOAP

On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks -- while many Americans watched and/ or debated ABC's airing of " The Path To 9/11" - I found myself at a screening of the most controversial movie this year at The Toronto Film Festival --Gabriel Range's "Death Of A President' .

"It's a disturbing film," said Peter Dale, head of More4, a television channel that will telecast the film in England in October.

"It raises questions about the effects of American foreign policy and particularly the war on terror," said Dale, who denied criticism that the film made an anti-Bush or anti-American political statement.

"It's a fairly attention-grabbing premise, but behind that is a serious and thought-provoking film.". Noah Cowan, the co-director of the Film Festival ( no agenda here) downplays the films politics. "Range is ultimately interested in addressing today's political issues through the lens of the future," Cowan wrote. "Xenophobia, the hidden costs of war and the nature of civil liberties in a hyper-media age all come under the microscope."

Now that I've seen this film - my response to to both Dale and Cowan is Bullfuckingshit!

The only thought this film provokes in any sane persons mind is the frightening reality that this film gives voice to the darkest desire that Range would like to see fullfilled-- the asassination of Pres.Bush.

It is claimed that film "addresses a wide array of contemporary issues including the loss of civil liberties, the ramifications of war," - not true. It doesn't even tackle one of the most important questions a film like this should ask: how do we measure "how far is too far" on the question of wiretapping, arresting suspected terrorists, due process, what constitutes torture, etc.

According to the film festival decision makers- in what is a sad attempt to justify including this waste of celluloid in the film festival- they claim that:

"D.O.A.P contributes meaningfully to the public discourse surrounding current
social issues, demonstrates highly original storytelling techniques and utilizes
innovative digital effects. The film is not exploitative in any way and treats
what would certainly be a great tragedy respectfully and un-cynically. "

It contributes nothing to the public discourse beyond the usual rhetoric from the "Blame America, Blame Bush, Support Dictators, Despots, Jihadists and Mass Murderers" crowd.

It also demonstrates the same lack of understanding by Range about the nature of our enemy; the very real ideological battle that we are now fighting, the existential threat we are facing, and about the extraordinary means way we need to find to handle this threat. That same lack of understanding is equally present in most Europeans, democrats and their left wing lemmings - be they found in the MSM or the blogosphere.

(...) "it ultimately critiques the overwhelming influence and manipulation
of mass media."

The buzz surrounding this film IS soley the product of mass media manipulation.
Roy Greenslade, a noted British media critic said the film "crossed the line" and was "obviously tasteless" and "It's about hype rather than a serious matter."

Roger Friedman, also in attendance last nite, expresses much of what I thought about the film and all that occured before, during, and after the screening.

The film was seeking a North American distribution deal....and got one! I'm guessing it will be released close to the November elections.....in order to influence those results.

I'm hoping this has the same effect as "Farhenheit 9/11" did - ensuring the Republicans win again!

Monday, September 11, 2006


This morning, as I looked out towards the city towers that formed the skyline, the air was crisp, the sun was shining, and the sky was cloudless; just like Sept 11th, 2001.

I saw a plane fly overhead, which sent a chill running down my spine.
As memories flood through my mind my heart is overcome with a tsunami of emotions.

8:43am- Unthinkable: AA Flight 11 slams into a WTC tower, Bldg 1
9:03am - Unbelievable: UA Flight 175 slams into the WTC South Tower.
9:37am - Uncomprehensible: AA Flight 77 slams into the Pentagon.
9:59am- Unimaginable: South Tower of the WTC collapses.
10:00 - 10:06am: UA Flight 93 crashes into a field as the passenger attempt to take back control of their flight.

I cannot forget that dayas the images still sear my mind and I still get the same visceral reaction today as when I saw them for the first time.

Ten days earlier I had been in NYC and found myself at the base of the World Trade Center looking upwards, unable to see the top of this very tall building.

The city was about to undergo a change, a shift, of some sort, I could feel it in my very being. Something was not quite right. Ten days later, I'd come to understand those intuitive yet powerful feelings I was experiencing.

The HORROR of the events of September 11th remain a part of my DNA.
On that day, the World was forever changed.
The unimaginable became real.
It was a day, when history would split and from that moment on, the world would be defined as "before" and "after".

I was in NYC on Labour Day Weekend, and my friend Deb, who was with me, asked me why we were taking a taxi to the South Seaport. I shrugged and replied " I don't know -I'm just feeling compelled to explore the area".

After spending some time wandering around South Seaport, we journeyed up along Fulton to see the Fulton Market. Meandering through the many small and winding streets that make up the Wall Street-Tribeca-Financial District area, I reflected on how this is where the City of New York and the Financial Center of trhe world first began.

We passed the NYSE, along Vecey to the WTC, around the WTC to Barttery Park, back up along Church to Broadway past City Hall, through City Hall Park, and along the streets of Tribeca past St Vincents Hospital, making our way to Soho. Throughout that entire walk, I was overcome with an unexplainable sadness. Deb noticed me fighting off tears, particularly around the WTC, and when we sat down in City Hall Park, she wrapped her arms around me, as I let the tears flow. I could not understand why I was crying - why I was so overcome with sadness. It was Labour Day weekend, the city was overflowing with energy, yet something was, off, out of balance. I couldn't shake that feeling of dread, that while everything looked okay on the surface, something dark was brewing beneath.

All those streets we journeyed along would become familiar to everyone who had watched the continuous news coverage of 9/11 - while I would recognize their names and some landmarks- what I was seeing was not the streets I had wandered!

Instead, I was witnessing a modern day Pompeii.

On Sept 18th,2001 I wrote this in my journal:

have no idea what compelled me so intensely to hop into a taxi and head over to South Seaport, and wander the area now known as Ground Zero, but what I do know, is that on Sept 11, 2001, I wrote in my journal that " I am, we are all, forever changed" I have not been able to write anything more since then.

I have not stopped crying, and can't sleep much. The images of planes flying into buildings intentionally slicing through them like a knife does through butter, and people falling or choosing to jump from 100 stories.

I see a neighborhood I recently wandered through covered in ash, soot and the remains of human bodies.I see Tower 2 collapsing, and I hear the voices of people I do not know on a plane hijacked by some madman hellbent on destroying lives, calling their loved ones to say "Goodbye, I love you" as they realized their fates were sealed.

I hear them praying, screaming, crying, and I am overcome with that horrific unexplainable feeling of a thousand frightening deaths that overcame me on a crowded subway on a sunny Tuesday morning at 8:45am - a feeling which was like NOTHING I had ever felt or experienced- and which sent me leaping through the closing doors of that subway onto the platform to avoid what I thought was a panic attack but what I now understand was the connection that all Souls feel to each other but humans sometimes fail to recognize; I was dying with them.

I find myself demanding to know why it took this unimaginable event to occur in order for all of us - Americans,Candians, Europeans, Africans, Asians, the entire world, to put aside our petty inconsequential political, personal, social differences, and come together united in love, united in our understanding that this evil is frightening and dangerous to all people in all countries; united in our determination to work together regardless of our own agendas to effectively erradicate this evil, to reach out with small gestures of kindess to one another, to love alot more, and hurry alot less, to pay attention to what is good, true and kind; to speak kindly to one another and about one another; to increase or awareness of other countries as more than geographical locations; to understand their policies, and their peoples common struggles to overcome tyranny and live in freedom; to eliminate the misguided notion that international events have no relevance at home - a notion that Pres.Clinton held onto for 8 years.

The terrorists that planned and committed these vile acts on Sept 11th worship a God of Hate, and dare to defame Islam by proclaiming to be representatives of ALL Muslims. It scares me to think that they are a reflection of something dark in the human soul. Some light of rationality has gone out and none of us as yet know how to adjust our vision.

On Sept 11th, the worst of humanity brought down the Twin Towers; and where the towers have fallen, the best of humanity has risen. The challenge will be to ensure that only the very best of humanity continues to flourish so that the very worst of humanity has no place to grow.

2,996 murdered.
Remember September 11, 2001.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ponder This

You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.
--Sam Keen