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Hillary Movie Makes Its Supreme Court Debut

James Hirsen By Tuesday, 24 March 2009 06:53 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Hillary Movie Makes Its Supreme Court Debut
2. Brad Pitt Too Good Looking to Play D.C. Reporter?
3. Obama Tries to Reach Iran Through YouTube Diplomacy
4. Biden’s Birth Certificate Joke
5. Prez Minus Teleprompter Equals Biden

1. Hillary Movie Makes Its Supreme Court Debut

A U.S. Supreme Court case is about to be heard, and with any luck it may finally get the campaign finance reform albatross off the back of the First Amendment.

The question for the High Court is whether a feature-length documentary, in this case “Hillary: the Movie” and the television ads designed to promote it, can be suppressed by campaign finance laws without violating the First Amendment.

The Citizens United (C.U.) movie was released when Hillary Clinton, then a New York senator, was competing with Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.

It was distributed to eight theaters. The C.U. group wanted to run ads on television in key election states during the peak primary season and air the movie on cable television's video-on-demand.

Federal courts claimed that ads promoting the film violated the McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws.

Judges decided that “Hillary: The Movie” was a 90-minute attack ad. Courts also ruled that if the film were broadcast on cable television, financial backers would have to be disclosed and the cost of the broadcast paid for by C.U.

I was involved in filing a brief for this case on behalf of a public interest law organization and am familiar with the legal issues it raises.

The High Court’s ultimate decision is going to be of vital importance particularly for documentary filmmakers and producers of narrative movies that have political themes.

The film in question didn’t request that its audience vote for or against a certain candidate. It is simply a feature-length movie that presents information about Clinton's background, experience, and character.

This is the essence of political speech that the First Amendment is exquisitely designed to protect.

Ironically, the Federal Election Commission dismissed a similar complaint against Michael Moore based on his ads for a movie that may sound familiar — “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

2. Brad Pitt Too Good Looking to Play D.C. Reporter?

Director Kevin MacDonald says he’ s relieved that Brad Pitt pulled out of the upcoming movie “State of Play.”

Washington, D.C. journalists aren’t likely to be too happy about it, though.

MacDonald says he’s glad Pitt’s not in the flick because the dude is just too handsome to play a D.C. reporter.

The flick’s storyline is based on a BBC mini-series in which an investigative reporter works with a police detective to solve a murder involving a congressman's mistress.

MacDonald says the journalist is supposed to be a bit of a schlump, and Pitt can’t play a schlump, so he’s hired Russell Crowe.

Luckily for the director, the congressman is played by Ben Affleck who happens to be quite adept at playing schlumps.

3. Obama Tries to Reach Iran Through YouTube Diplomacy

Following in the footsteps of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama has decided to communicate U.S. policy, concerning one of the most dangerous regimes in the world, via an Internet video.

Obama recently posted one of his patented YouTube videos in which he “reached out” to Iran just as the Iranians were beginning to celebrate their new year.

There was a problem, though. YouTube has been blocked out by the government of Iran since the Fall of 2008.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, responded to President Obama's video with a dismissive rejection. He demanded specific concessions from the U.S. with respect to Iranian policy.

“They chant the slogan of change but no change is seen in practice. We haven't seen any change,” Khamenei said in a speech before an Iranian crowd.

Khamenei said there has been no change in Obama's language when compared to that of his predecessor.

He also said Washington's accusations that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons are a sign of U.S. hostility and reiterated the claim that Iran’s nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

Obama's video was posted just as Iran prepares for what could be a significant presidential election this June. The defiant despot Ahmadinejad is running for another four-year term against Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister.

The world would be better off with the less hostile Mousavi, but Obama’s message is like a campaign ad for the hardliner, Ahmadinejad.

The Iranian president will likely claim credit for the Obama video diplomacy. The sudden shift in U.S. policy will have Iranian voters and the Arab populace concluding that the extremely harsh rhetoric of Ahmadinejad forced a Western superpower to capitulate.

Ahmadinejad will declare that he can push foreign policy via a hard-line stance far more effectively than his more moderate rival.

Which just goes to show how Obama’s use of YouTube to communicate appeasement can embarrass the West and strengthen a renegade regime’s hand.

4. Biden’s Birth Certificate Joke

Obama is the first president since Grover Cleveland to skip the annual dinner hosted by the Gridiron Club. The formal press event is where politicians essentially roast each other.

Somehow Joe Biden was sent instead of the prez and, true to form, the guy hit a big nerve.

Biden set up a joke by pointing out that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was a speaker at the event, was born in Austria.

He then explained that Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, also a featured speaker, was born in Canada.

Biden’s preliminary punch line was, “This is going to be Lou Dobbs' worst nightmare.”

Having broached the citizenship subject, he proceeded to allude to the Obama birth certificate controversy.

“I never realized just how much power Dick Cheney had until my first day on the job,” Biden said.

“I walked into my office and, you know how the outgoing president always leaves the incoming president a note in his desk?” he asked. “I opened my drawer and Dick Cheney had left me Barack Obama’s birth certificate.”

The president’s birth certificate has been the subject of citizen lawsuits, which allege that our current president hasn’t established the citizenship by birth prerequisite necessary to hold the office.

Biden also made fun of the president’s ample ego.

“[Obama] can't be here tonight, because he's busy getting ready for Easter,” the vice prez matter-of-factly stated.

Whispering a secret to the audience, Biden divulged, “He thinks it's about him.”

If you’re like me, you’re wondering how long it’ll be before the administration sends the veep on a permanent mission to Uzbekistan.

5. Prez Minus Teleprompter Equals Biden

The easiest TV spot for a liberal politician to do other than “Larry King Live” is “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Obama recently lost some of his presidential luster when he appeared on the late-night comedy show to answer vapid questions like, “So, how cool is it to fly in Air Force One?”

Too bad the prez forgot to bring his trusted teleprompter.

In referring to the banks that his administration is bailing out, Obama said, “It’s almost like they’ve got — they’ve got a bomb strapped to them, and they’ve got their hand on the trigger.”

Digging a deeper hole, he added, “You don’t want them to blow up. But you’ve got to kind of talk [to] them, ease that finger off the trigger.”

As bad as Biden’s gaffes may be, the president minus his teleprompter is beginning to rival his veep. Another of Obama’s remarks was comparing his bowling scores to “the Special Olympics or something.”

White House staffers knew the prez had stepped in it so immediately following the show a statement was released indicating that Obama had “in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics . . . He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world.”

In contrast to what they did to his predecessor and his malaprops, the press pretty much ignored Obama’s boo-boos.

Larry King went as far as to say that Obama's bowling blooper actually helped focus attention on the Special Olympics.

Continuing on his glam tour, Obama’s scheduled stops include an interview with “60 Minutes” and a second prime time news conference in which he’ll pre-empt “American Idol” for a second time.

As far as the White House is concerned, though, there’s only one American Idol, and he’s not using his pipes in that way — yet.

At a time when broadcast TV networks’ earnings are plunging, the decision to hold another primetime event during sweeps month is infuriating television execs.

“Every time the president disrupts prime time, the networks lose another couple million dollars . . . In this economy, that's the last thing we need,” an industry insider told TV Week.

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Hillary Movie Makes Its Supreme Court Debut2. Brad Pitt Too Good Looking to Play D.C. Reporter?3. Obama Tries to Reach Iran Through YouTube Diplomacy4. Biden’s Birth Certificate Joke5. Prez Minus Teleprompter Equals Biden 1....
Tuesday, 24 March 2009 06:53 PM
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