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Volume 10, Issue 3: Ex Libris

The Secret Life of Bill Clinton

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard; Regnery-Gateway, 1997
Reviewed by Douglas Wilson

We must begin with the most important thing about this book, which is the credibility of the writer. Ambrose Evan-Pritchard writes for The Sunday Telegraph, which is a highly respected newspaper in Great Britain. This newspaper is not a tabloid. Because he is a Brit, he doesn't have that deep craving for mainstream respectability over here which is so characteristic of the blow-dried-haircuts-for-journalists that we have on this side of the water. He is one of the best investigative reporters alive today, and this is a book that will tell you more about our country's political institutions than you wanted to know.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section provides the first reasonable explanation of the Oklahoma City bombing that I have seen anywhere. If I may be allowed to speak plainly, the wild speculations of some conspiratorialists have been, um . . . wild speculations. Whenever anything remarkable happens, all the conspiratorial puppies and kittens come out to play. "Princess Diana was offed by the royal family," and so forth. In the minds of some, nothing remarkable can happen without that becoming prima facie evidence of some kind of perfidiousness afoot. Not surprisingly, more than one right-wing loon took advantage of the bombing to accuse the feds of bombing themselves. Alas, there are web sites out there maintained by men who type with their fists.
At the same time, the official explantions of the OKC bombing don't pass the smell test either. These explanations are just as unreasonable as those proffered by our conspiratorial brethren of excitable brain. Why were there no ATF agents in their building when the bomb went off? Why was the building bulldozed so darn quickly? Why did the feds prosecute their own informant Carol Howe after the bombing? Why was she acquitted? Why were no witnesses called in Timothy McVeigh's trial who would place him in downtown OKC at the time of the bombing? Why is there a grand jury in Oklahoma investigating the investigation?
Pritchard is an investigative reporter who investigates, and who has published the results. This, in general outline, is what happened at OKC. Eastern Oklahoma contains an enclave of neo-Nazis called Elohim City. Tim McVeigh had contact with Elohim City, and shared with them a same general frame of mind. This enclave of kooks was penetrated by the feds—at least two informers were situated there. One, the woman named Carol Howe, was on the payroll of the ATF. The other, a German named Andreas Strassmeier, was well-connected with the U.S. intelligence community. Because of these plants, the feds knew a bombing attempt was coming. They decided to do a little media showboating, arrest the mad bombers in the parking lot, and be the heroes of the day. Multiple witnesses saw the bomb removal squad in downtown OKC before the bombing.
When this sting operation went horribly, disastrously awry, the bureaucracy did what bureaucracies do best—stonewall and cover up. The received account of the bombing is nothing but a bunch of brightly colored deceptive threads woven into that Navajo throw rug we call an official explanation. The cynic's rule—never believe anything until it is officially denied—has been validated yet again. This official lying is not only demonstrable, it has been demonstrated repeatedly in this book.
A great deal was made of the fact that the bombing occured on the anniversary of the Waco slaughter, the crowning achievement of Janet Reno's tenure in office. Almost nothing has been made of the fact that the bombing occured on the morning of Richard Snell's execution in the state of Arkansas. Snell was a neo-fascist cult hero who died just a few hours after the bombing. The young Turks at Elohim City had worked themselves into a fury as Snell's execution approached. The action they took was predictable, and predicted by the federal informants. The prison deathwatch log noted that Snell watched the early coverage of the bombing. The log noted: "News 4 special on the situation in Oklahoma. Inmate Snell watching newscast, smiling and chuckling."
The feds were not responsible for the bombing directly. We can thank the neo-Nazi cranks for that. But Mr. Clinton's ATF, his FBI, his Justice Department, his entire apparatus of law enforcement is heavily involved in suppressing the truth about Oklahoma City.
The second section of this book concerns the murder of Vincent Foster. Here we also meet a pattern of official lying and intimidation which is operating much closer to the White House—just down the road. Foster was not depressed, he did not own the gun in question, his car was not where it was supposed to be, you can read the rest for yourself. In short, fewer things are more obvious than the fact that Vincent Foster did not commit suicide. But if Foster did not kill Foster, then someone else did. And that means that the thorough "cleansing" of his office by White House staff right after his death becomes a lot more suspicious than it originally was, and it was bad to begin with. Throw in a forged suicide note, and the whole thing starts to stink.
The last section of the book is a thorough expose of Bill Clinton's time in Arkansas, and the drug traffic that worked its way through that state. In short, this book is full of names, dates, and places showing that our president has all the ethical restraint of Caligula, and the system that surrounds him, whether conservative or liberal, has been hopelessly corrupted. Any conservative Christian who is still working hard trying to salvage this dead republic needs to get this book and read the post mortem report.


The Truman Show

Directed by Peter Weir; Paramount 1998
Reviewed by Michael Collender

Two years ago my boss handed me this "great script" by Andrew Niccol, telling me that Jim Carrey had been signed for the lead. A few months later a Jim Carrey fan friend of mine asked me if he could read it. He picked it up at 1 in the morning on a Saturday, hoping it would nurse him to sleep, but he came to church blurry-eyed. Now I had to read it. The Truman Show was a mystery: Its main character discovers his whole life has been a TV show. The film in the theater was quite different from what I had read.

The film opens announcing the mystery. As Truman Burbank, age 30, goes to work a stage light labeled "Syrus Major 9" falls in front of Truman's car. This is just one of the strange incidents that have suggested to Truman that his life is somehow out of kilter. In his college years he met Lorren Garland, who was quickly dragged away after telling him that her name was actually Sylvia and that his whole world was made for him. The man posing as her father tells him she's going to Fiji. Even though married, he still has a crush on Sylvia.
Finally, on a drive to work, the radio skips channels and he hears the production frequency broadcasting his location to the actors and extras. He feels as though someone is trying to keep him cooped up. No matter what he does he cannot escape his town of Seahaven, Florida. Finally he has an altercation with his prop wife who thinks he has gone mad and calls for someone to help as though someone could hear her in their house.
Christof, a man who guards his privacy, created this TV show. He controls the weather, the sun and moon, and the plot of Truman's life. The clever concept and amazing ratings of the show have been able to justify the expense of creating a huge dome, housing a set of the town of Seahaven in Burbank California.
Before the film's release I had planned to tear this film apart. The original screenplay had three TV executives: Christof, but also Moses and Roman. The True-man was imprisoned in a pseudo-world by `of Christ,' `Moses,' and `Roman.' The script was a preachy slam on the theistic worldview. At the end Truman realizes he is caged and escapes to see buildings higher and a sun brighter than anything he has seen before. The only thing keeping him from the real world was his fears and the assumption that what he had been raised with was the truly real. Someone changed the movie. I suspect it was for economic reasons since the film would have made less money being preachy. But someone with convictions may have decided they did not want a 70 million-dollar sermon against God. Perhaps similarly, the X-Files movie featured Scully and Mulder cussing profusely, but a Christian man responsible for the post-production sound decided to take it out. In the case of Truman Show, Christof still has Godlike power in Truman's life that he should not have, but God is not reproached for His sovereignty. In fact at one point Christof speaks from the clouds with a loud voice but he identifies himself as `the creator of a TV show.' Sylvia, now an advocate for freeing Truman from his televised prison, sits in front of her television seeing the conversation, and begs God that Truman would make a certain choice. (I should not say more for fear of spoiling the movie.)
The lack of hostility toward God allows for greater dramatic impact. In a universe without God, a writer must come up with some justification for moral impetus, duty, justice, and the natural well, from which spring all the wonderful and visceral infusions of life. In a world of random rioting atoms, a hero is hard to find. Hollywood understands this to some degree. An early draft of The Hunt for Red October features the political officer putting down the Bible with the use of vulgarity. The film of Red October depicts a Captain Ramius whose wife was likely a Christian, making him a richer protagonist. General Hummel's tragic flaw is his lack of discernment, and he dies saying, "What have I done?" The Truman Show, by not attacking God, demonizes Christof by making him a hypocritical man who has power no man should.
Some may object to Truman's interest in a girl who is not his wife. But the ethic of his decisions within the contrived marriage does not ruin the film as a work of literature, in the same way that David's decisions in 2 Samuel do not ruin the literary value of that book. Finally, I have one criticism of an otherwise great movie. It should have developed the mystery like the script. The script readers in Hollywood liked the script because they got pulled into the discovery; for a few moments they were in Truman's world trying to figure out what was happening. But the film described by the script could never be, since marketing it would be impossible. To sell the tickets, that secret had to be given away in the trailer.

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