By Ed Rampell on August 08, 2014

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Tricky Dick’s resignation, on August 8 at 9:00 p.m. (EST) CNN is airing encore presentations of the documentary “Our Nixon”, an award winning compilation film by Penny Lane about the only U.S. President (so far!) who resigned and had to leave that office is disgrace. The documentary is largely composed of 500 hours of never-before-publicly-seen Super 8 home movies shot by three Nixon aides that were seized by the FBI during the Watergate investigation, then filed away and forgotten -- until the intrepid (and obstreperous) Lane unearthed and rescued this cinematic treasure trove for posterity. She has shaped out of the raw material of this footage an eye-opening insider’s glimpse of President Richard Milhous Nixon and his benighted administration.

Lane painstakingly matches sound and wry musical choices to the silent chronicles and adds archival video from network news vaults. The fly-on-the-wall Nixon remix includes celluloid shots by advisor John Ehrlichman, chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and special assistant Dwight Chapin. The documentary reminds us how young this regime’s hacks and hatchet men were -- Ehrlichman was 43, Haldeman 34 and Chapin a mere 27. But boy were they ever on the wrong side of the ’60s/’70s generational divide!

Chapin, the youngest, went to college with dirty trickster Donald Segretti, whose Nixonian specialty was “ratfucking,” (pardon my French, but the Nixon administration was known for its “expletives deleted”) the Democrats, such as that phony “Canuck” letter to presidential candidate Sen. Edmund Muskie that supposedly caused him to cry and appear weak; tossing marbles on the ground at a Democratic rally; and other pranks gone berserk. The film discloses that “Segretti” translates, appropriately, from the Italian to “secrets” in English.

Our Nixon contains great behind-the-scenes footage of historic events, such as Tricky Dick’s 1972 breakthrough Beijing trip, where the veteran anti-communist met with Mao and applauded a performance of the revolutionary ballet The Red Detachment of Women. The doc also springs some surprises. Did you know that the right’s idiot savant, William F. Buckley, was on Nixon’s China trip? And Tricky Dick’s comments on Henry Kissinger (the National Security Advisor’s sex life is far more offensive to Nixon than his mass murders), eavesdropping, his approval ratings, and more are eyebrow- and hair-raising.

The documentary’s most jaw-dropping moment took place not behind closed doors in the Oval Office but in the White House East Room on January 28, 1972, when Nixon -- presiding over a dinner marking the 50th anniversary of Reader’s Digest -- introduced the decidedly unhip Ray Conniff Singers by defiantly snarling: “And if the music is square, it’s because I like it square.” But then, one of the singers did something cool enough to give Nixon indigestion. Canadian alto Carole Feraci pulled a Medea Benjamin, held up a banner that declared “Stop the Killing,” and proclaimed to the astonished crowd that included aviator Charles Lindbergh, astronaut Frank Borman and Alice Roosevelt Longworth: “President Nixon, stop bombing human beings… You go to church on Sundays and pray to Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ were here tonight, you would not dare to drop another bomb.” As the bandleader tried to snatch Feraci’s banner, the 30-year-old held onto it and added: “Bless the Berrigans and bless Daniel Ellsberg.”

Penny Lane is the perfect name for someone who compiles documentaries out of archival footage. (The Beatles song is all about a trip down memory lane.) After a screening at the 2013 LA Film Festival, Penny Lane did an interview while her crew handed out buttons declaring “Hi. I’m an effete, impudent intellectual snob." Our Nixon is a pointed reminder about the U.S. surveillance state run amok, as America grapples with another presidential Big Brother snooping scandal under Tricky Baracky, whom Republican House members would like to impeach.

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BREAKING NEWS: Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson of Bhopal infamy died a fugitive from justice. The Progressive got...

This Halloween movie will scare anyone who cares about news.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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