Monday, October 17, 2005

DUmmie FUnnies 10-17-05 (Filmmakers Admit They Needed DeLay Indictment To End Movie)



The laughable DeLay indictment whipped up by PARTISAN Texas District Attorney, Ronnie Earle, has now become even MORE of a joke thanks in large part to a startling admission by the two filmmakers who made a movie featuring the Puke of Earle as their hero. As you can see in this San Antonio Current ARTICLE
titled, "The Big Buy spent two years tracking Ronnie Earle as he built his case against Tom DeLay," they made the STARTLING ADMISSION that they needed the DeLay indictment in order to conclude their "documentary" along with the reward of getting a primo spot to show their film at the Dallas Video Festival. See, if there were no DeLay indictment their whole two year effort would have been for naught. Forget the DeLay indictment. The filmmaker's own admission is an indictment of the integrity of Ronnie Earle. This admission comes on the heels of the astounding discovery that the MAIN document in Earle's case against DeLay does NOT exist as chronicled in the previous
EDITION of the DUmmie FUnnies. So let us now read the questions and comments of San Antonio Current Reporter, Elaine Wolff, in Moody Blue while the startling admissions by the two filmmakers are in Bolshevik Red. As usual, the commentary of your humble correspondent, wondering if the filmmakers realized that they were actually filming the self-destruction of Ronnie Earle, is in the [brackets]:


Texas filmmakers Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck planted themselves on historys doorstep two years ago when they started filming Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle as he investigated Congressman Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land) and his Political Action Committee, Texans for a Republican Majority. The PAC is suspected of funneling corporate donations to state elections as part of the Texas GOPs successful 2002 plan to take control of the statehouse and redraw congressional districts in favor of Republican demographics a plan that resulted in significant gains for Republicans at the national level in 2004.



[Actually those two filmmakers AND Ronnie Earle planted themselves in deep doo-doo as we shall see. Hee! Hee!]



History obliged the documentarians when DeLay was indicted last week on two counts of conspiracy to skirt election laws and money laundering. Birnbaum and Schermbeck already had finished and screened one version of the story, The Big Buy, when DeLay was indicted, but are now filming a new ending. They spoke with the Current in consecutive phone interviews.




[More like Ronnie Earle obliged the documentarians when he based his indictment on a key document that does NOT exist. BTW, the documentarians probably noticed the glaring problem of no DeLay indictment at the original screening. They NEEDED that indictment to make their film appear to have some veracity. No matter that the ultimate indictment was based on a NON-EXISTENT document.]




Where does the original film end?




[Exactly NOWHERE since without a DeLay indictment their film would be completely INCONCLUSIVE.]




Mark Birnbaum: What happened was that my friend, Bart Weiss, who runs the Dallas Video Festival, for many years has presented me with the gift of a deadline. He called us and said, You guys have been working on this film for two years, finish it! Ill give you the closing film spot at the festival, Sunday night in the big room. So Jim and I talked about it and we said, Lets do it. Really, Ronnie Earl has done what he set out to do. He at one point in the film raises his hand and points, and he says, Its my job to point in the direction of the hill that needs to be taken. And this is a problem, this a probem facing our country, and we need to do something about it. And at the end of the film he says we need to turn off this tap, this corporate money. So even before any trials, hes already accomplished that. So we decided we could end our film with that.




[Bottom line: The reward for a DeLay indictment was a primo spot for your film at the Dallas Film Festival. Thank you for that admission, Mark, and could you please pass the popcorn?]





I thought if Tom DeLay was going to be indicted that would have happened already.




["HURRY RONNIE! HURRY HURRY! We need for you to get an indictment of Tom DeLay so our film can have the closing spot at the Dallas Film Festival! HURRY!!!"]




So you were surprised when the indictment was handed down?




MB: As every bit as surprised as you were. Every bit.




["WHAT? You were able to pull it off on time before the Dallas Film Festival, Ronnie? Thank God you were able to whip up that key document. Was it faxed to you from a Kinko's in Abilene?"]





DeLays defenders have latched on to the film as evidence that Ronnie Earle is a self-promoter with bigger political ambitions who is using this case to catapult himself onto the national stage.




[Ronnie Earle is aiming to star as the Coyote in a Road Runner cartoon. He is adept at playing the part where the ACME Co. package explodes in his face just like it did when his case against Kay Bailey Hutchison was tossed out the moment it went into a courtroom.]




MB: His bigger political ambitions are that he wants to retire. He was planning on retiring about three years ago, before all this started. Ive come to know him as a modest fella. Hes a politician, hes run for office; it takes a certain amount of ego to do that. But hes not part of the kind of in political group here in Austin. Hes not a big guy in the Democratic party.




[Strange how this "modest fella" promised to indict DeLay at a Democrat fundraiser.]




If you could put the story in historical terms, what is the kernel that appealed to you?




MB: I gotta say that the story we sought to tell was not exactly dramatic, but we thought it was important, that plan that began with [the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee] to dominate politics in the state of Texas and ultimately in the United States by first winning these elections in 2002, the state elections, then pushing through off-year redistricting, redrawing the map, so that in 2004 they could win a majority in Congress a perfectly legal plan, all according to the way the system is supposed to work, but for one alleged fact: For the first step of their plan, to win the 2002 elections in Texas, they used corporate money for political purposes a felony since 1905. And when Ronnie found out about that, he said, You cant do that. Its against the law.




[It's also against the law to base your case on a document that does NOT exist.]





So it was also well over a year into it that we switched our stylistic approach to the story to make it a crime story, a noir film: a lot of shots of the capitol at night, which looks kind of menacing. And we started shooting our interviews at night with one bulb on the desk kind of look. And that lent an appropriate feel to the story. Ronnie Earle was pursuing a crime, a number of crimes, that had been committed. That gave it a much more coherent style and look and we thought we had never seen a documentary quite like that maybe Errol Morris Thin Blue Line, but that was dark, but it wasnt noir.




[LOL!!! Thanx, Mark, for getting so carried away with yourself in your discussion of film style and giving us some laughs. Apparently you really NEEDED that indictment of DeLay to make your stylistic film noir work. I mean if you show menacing shots of Ronnie Earle late at night, your film would go NOWHERE without the indictment at the end.]





Did you talk to Republicans who were concerned about how the 02 and 04 elections were won or are they just happy to be firmly in control of the state?





MB: It turns out the attorneys for most of these Republicans are liberal Democrats here in Austin Joe Turner and Roy Minton theyre quite openly and liberal Democrats, but they defend these Republican guys. They expressed concern, the same concern that Ronnie is expressing.


We havent gotten anybody fairly high up in the Republican party. Were now attempting to call Mr.DeLay and Mr. DeLays attorneys to let them know we very much want to interview them. Now that were re-doing the end of the film, wed like very much for Mr. DeLay to sit for an interview and explain why hes innocent and express his concerns about Mr. Earle. Its gonna be a little bit harder for him to say no to. At least I think maybe hell answer the door when we knock.




["Damn those Republicans and Tom DeLay for not participating in our stylistic film noir which would be cut to make them look like the scum of the earth."]




Did you feel you came away from this with a new perspective on the political process or did it reinforce beliefs you already held?




MB: Very much so in that I wasnt familiar with the details of this story and I was pretty unclear about what redistricting was and how that game is played. And as always happens when I make a film, Im immersed in other peoples lives and in the details of the facts that surround their lives, so I come away learning a lot. Our last film, Larry v. Lockney, was shot in a small town in the Panhandle, Lockney, Texas. And I had very little, almost no experience of life in a small town, only what Id read, but I hadnt directly experienced it, so it was a real revelation for me. Its one of the great benefits of this job; its the greatest job in the world.




[You are unclear about redistricting, Mark? I tell you what it is. Only EVIL Republicans redistrict in their favor when they have the majority of the legislature. Democrats are much too principled, especially in California, to ever participate in such a nefarious plan. Are there any other fairy tales you wish me to tell you, Mark?]




What do you think Ronnie Earles three greatest political skills are?




[Hype, forgery, and blatant partisanship.]





MB: His sense of humor. Have you heard why he said he wants to be cremated? He says becase thered be a constant line of people waiting to piss on his grave. Hes a very deeply committed American. He just completely, deeply believes in democracy and its effectiveness and that is absolutely the core of what he is fighting for and trying to protect, thats what he feels is at stake: Democracy is imperiled by this large influx of corporate money into the elections process.




[Funny how Ronnie Earle has no problem with corporate money going to his pet causes when he blackmails that dough out of them in exchange for dropping cases against the corporations. Sorry for tossing a monkey wrench into your loving enshrinement of Saint Ronnie.]





When this Republican leadership is under attack they have been very adept at turning it around and undermining the accuser. Do you think this movie has the potential to counteract that kind of blowback?




[EVIL REPULICANS! EVIL! EVIL! EVIL! Oh, Miss Wolfe. I do believe your bias is showing.]





MB: Hardly. I think our little movie is a just ping-pong ball on that constantly crashing wave of administration and big political power. So I dont think they have anything to worry about from us. But, Ill tell you this: [Texas] State Representative Lon Burnam [D-Ft. Worth] was at the screening and hes a guy who lives and breathes this stuff, he eats this stuff for breakfast. He saw the film and he said hed never seen all of it presented in the way that we did, the way that we connected the dots, and [he] thought that people needed to see it just because of that, because it just explained a complicated process.




[Thank you for citing that "unbiased" critic, DEMOCRAT State Representative Lon Burnam.]





We made a film about campaign-finance reform without once ever mentioning the phrase campaign-finance reform, which causes peoples eyes to roll up in their heads. So I feel like weve accomplished something here; weve explained a complex process that most people are not aware of but that affects their lives, [that] changed the political climate of this state and of the United States.




[Theme of your film noir: REPUBLICANS CORRUPT! REPUBLICANS CORRUPT! Yeah, thanx for simplifying a complex process, Mark.]




How did you feel about this very close-up look at campaign finance? Jaded or optimistic?




[I opt for stupid.]




Jim Schermbeck: Oh, we dont use those words. We dont want anybody to know this is a film about campaign finance, or else they wont see it. If youre talking about how elections get their gas in America, I think its eye-opening in that respect and Tom DeLay is kind of in a class by himself in that regard, so its an extreme of an extreme close-up and its pretty interesting to watch.




Since DeLay hasnt talked to us yet, theres not really a good proponent of this type of system speaking on his behalf. So Im not sure you get the other side, its defense whatever that could be to rely on this kind of money to do the politicking.




[And of course, Democrats NEVER rely on corporate money in your film noir fantasy, Jim.]





You said that DeLay is in a class by himself; could you expand on that a little more?




[EVIL! EVIL! EVIL! Plus we don't like his haircut. Not stylistic enough for our film noir.]





JS: On the Hill his various enterprises are known as DeLay Inc. for a reason. There are interlocking committees like TRMPAC and ARMPAC and so forth. Hes had childrens charities, sometimes money comes to childrens charities, sometimes theyre linked to political activities as well. He was the organzier of the K Street Project which is now an online affair where they fill every available lobbyist position on the Hill with Republicans. So it is quite the empire.




[Tom DeLay has childrens charities? EVIL! EVIL!]





What is your philosophy about the way the political finance system is supposed to work?




[When corporate money goes to Republicans it is EVIL! When the same money goes to Democrats it is for the greater good. Just ask Hillary.]





JS: Well, I think people should be allowed to give to the campaigns of their choice, and I certainly have done that. Its how much you give and whether that twists the campaign itself and whether that money should be coming from just individuals themselves or corporations. And I think Texas has a good law surprisingly good for Texas and keeping corporate money out of those elections is a good idea. I think there were good reasons to do it in 1905 [when the law was passed]; I think there are good reasons to do it now.




[You gave money to campaigns, Jim? Gee I wonder which ones? I guess the answer to that question wouldn't be hard to figure out.]




After spending a lot of intimate time with Ronnie Earle, what is your measure of the man?




[Best damn BS artist I ever met. Of course his cases do tend to fall apart when they come up against the FACTS.]




JS: People accuse him of being a partisan Democrat, and I dont think thats where hes coming from. If there were still a chapter of the Farmers Alliance Populist Party left over from the turn of the century, I think Ronnie would be the first to sign up for that, because hes more of a populist than a Democrat.




["Populist" is just a polite way of saying liberal Democrat hack.]




Im not sure people know what populist means anymore. How do you define it?




[A polite way of saying "Socialist."]





JS: Its kind of a bottom-up view of politics, putting more emphasis on the grass-roots, citizen-friendly aspects of government than on a top-down approach. Its giving citizens at the grass-roots level more power to decide things rather than assigning that power to institutions or our government or things above them in the hierarchy.




[This sounds like regurgitated Hugo Chavez blather but what can one expect from a "stylish film noir" director?]




Was there a particular moment in the filming process, a particular interview, that was a turning point or an epiphany for you?




["When we found out we needed the DeLay indictment in order to get a primo spot at the Dallas Film Festival."]





JS: We started [filming] right after the investigation started, so we werent sure we even had a story to tell until the first indictment came out. And it was that day of the indictment and the night of the indictment that changed things and made sure we had a film. And certainly the interviews we had with Ronnie around that time, and especially the night of, were pivotal for us. I think because of the blowback he knew was coming, he took it with a it was all kind of an abstract idea up to then, so the indictment made it real and he takes on a more serious tone at that point. I guess for him, as well as us, that was a pivotal moment.



[I've already thanked Mark for his admission and now I am thanking you, Jim, for admitting that you NEEDED the DeLay indictment in order to give your film a finish plus a reason for being.]





As a concerned citizen as much as a filmmaker, are you worried about the blowback?




["Blowback." A new liberal buzzword meaning the EVIL conservatives are checking up on us.]




JS: You mean because of the DeLay indictment? No, thats to be expected. You play with fire when you start messing with Tom DeLay, so I imagine [Earle] took that into account.




[You play with fire when you present Ronnie Earle as some sort of saint.]




I understand there is the possibility of a theatrical release?




[After Earle's case goes down the tubes it will be released as a comedy.]




JS: Well, we are all lighting candles that that is going to happen. A theatrical release would be like hitting the lottery for people like us. Were gonna finish the film and were gonna get it the best deal we can to have it seen by as many people as we can in hopes of showing them what this case was about.




[TRANSLATION: "We hit the lottery when Ronnie Earle scammed an indictment based on nothing."]





Our idea when we came to it, or at least my idea, was to provide a documenation of history in the making. I was beginning high school when the Sharpstown scandal hit in Houston, a scandal about 30-35 years ago that shook the Democratic party to its core in Texas; it was a big deal. When I read that this investigation was starting, I remember thinking we need to document this, because theres no film you can go back and see that tells you what Sharpstown is about, why its important, why you should be reading about it now in order not to repeat those same mistakes. So my goal was to go out and do a film that can be seen 10 years from now and they will instantly understand what this case was all about it and how it got to where it is.




[Ronnie Earle will have plenty of time to watch your film while serving out a jail term for basing an indictment on a non-existent document.]





Mark said Lon Burnam saw the film and felt that it provided a great narrative.




[Ah! That "unbiased" critic again.]





JS: [Laughing] Well, Lons gonna say that thats pretty self-serving because hes in the film!




[Let me take a wild guess here. DEMOCRAT Lon Burnam came off as a good guy in your film noir?]





Its not just about Ronnie Earle, Ronnie Earle is certainly the point of view that we have because he allowed us access to him, so of course were gonna use that, but the film is really about all the events from the 2002 election onward. So it includes redistricting, and the investigation, and the indictment, and so on. I think what it does, in terms of the timeliness of what is going on right now, it puts the DeLay indictment in total historical context. People can understand why Tom DeLay might have been indicted if they see this film.


[And thank you, Jim, for putting the DeLay indictment in the REAL context. You desperately needed a conclusion to your film noir so Ronnie Earle was happy to oblige by ramming through an indictment based on a PHONY document. And I think people can understand why Ronnie Earle was desperate for an indictment when they see your film...hopefully in court when presented as evidence for DROPPING the DeLay indictment.]

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