Here’s the hook: yesterday, the Bush Administration released not one, but TWO sets of creepy “regulations” rewriting laws in Bush’s image. One you have heard about, but one, weirdly enough, you haven’t heard about at ALL.
And that’s even creepier. But to get there, I’m going to ask for your indulgence, because we need a little setup before I tell you what those regulations are … all 169 pages of them.
i. Terminal synchronicities
Some astonishing “end of era” deaths, relating to some creepy zeitgeist events.
First: Mark Felt died. Appropriately enough, let Bob Woodward of the Washington Post tell you who Mark Felt was:
‘Deep Throat’ Mark Felt Dies at 95
By Patricia Sullivan and Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, December 19, 2008; 3:05 AM
W. Mark Felt Sr., the associate director of the FBI during the Watergate scandal who, better known as “Deep Throat,” became the most famous anonymous source in American history, died yesterday. He was 95.
Felt died at 12:45 p.m. at a hospice near his home in Santa Rosa, Calif., where he had been living since August.
Felt “was fine this morning” and was “joking with his caregiver,” according to his daughter, Joan Felt. She said in a phone interview that her father ate a big breakfast before remarking that he was tired and going to sleep.
“He slipped away,” she said.
As the second-highest official in the FBI under longtime director J. Edgar Hoover and interim director L. Patrick Gray, Felt detested the Nixon administration’s attempt to subvert the bureau’s investigation into the complex of crimes and coverups known as the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.
He secretly guided Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward as he and his colleague Carl Bernstein pursued the story of the 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate office buildings and later revelations of the Nixon administration’s campaign of spying and sabotage against its perceived political enemies.
Felt insisted on remaining completely anonymous, or on “deep background.” A Post editor dubbed him “Deep Throat,” a bit of wordplay based on the title of a pornographic movie of the time. The source’s existence, but not his identity, became known in Woodward and Bernstein’s 1974 book, “All the President’s Men,” and in the subsequent movie version, in which actor Hal Holbrook played the charismatic but shadowy source…. [emphasis added].
It is eerie how Felt’s passing exactly demarcates the moment of a national debate over whether the MUCH WORSE THAN WATERGATE* crimes of the Bush Maladministration should be given a Fordian Pass, or be prosecuted.
[* As John Dean, who should know, has called them.]
This has been and will be the subject of much discussion — one hopes — in days to come.
Now, when I restarted this blog in 2005 (it began as a campaign blog, a sort of internal investigation of sleazy Oregon politics), I promised myself that I would only cover stories that either no one else was covering, or else stories of whose “angle” I had a unique take on — something that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of print, if I didn’t say something.
Well, let’s take the part of that story that’s not being told … about where “Deep Throat” got his nickname.
There was a porno movie that had created a stir in the waning days of the Nixon Maladministration: it was called “Deep Throat,” and the only reason that IT — and not something else — galvanized the nation, it seems, is that it came because it was “steam engine time,” as Charles Fort used to say.
I have met many of the principals in my journalistic travels, and I’ve actually seen it with a profession’s eye, and, frankly there’s not a lot about the movie that recommends it. But it was the right movie in the right place at the right time, and, in an odd way, thrust the twin concepts of fellatio and clitoral stimulation into the national debate in a palatable manner (no pun intended).
Just as Playboy had been the magazine in the right place at the right time to finally wean a nation of horny male-persons from a diet of Sears catalog undergarment sections, and topless tribeswomen in National Geographic, Playboy was the right thing in the right place at the right time. So, too, “Deep Throat.”
And, because of the grand hoo-haw at the time, Mark Felt was “code-named” (OK: nicknamed in a good-old-boys bit of juvenalia) “Deep Throat.”
Now, if you Google “Deep Throat” odds are, you’ll get the informant story and not the fellatrice movie.
(And, if you feel a bit sqeamish about, you know … THAT, just remember that it was the GOP that insisted on bringing the details into our living rooms and schools and churches of the Lewinsky-Clinton fellatio incidents — that so enthralled a nation that we had the big impeachment drama that hung on and on and on and on.)
But there are two other deaths that point us to a story nobody’s covering, as well. The death of Bettie Page (about which I’m still assaying an essay) — who was the 13th Playboy Playmate, and, synchronistically enough, the Playmate on the Newsstands when I was born (magazines usually come out a month early for reasons that have never quite made sense to me), January 1956 — Bettie Page’s Playboy appearance was one of those watershed moments, too. Of course, nobody finked on Nixon then, and was code-named “Bettie Page” but it might have happened in some alternate universe or parallel dimension.
Because there are some weird linkages here.
Mark Felt dies, known as “Deep Throat,” for his whistleblower role in Watergate. Requiescat in Pace, Mr. Felt. You were a patriot.
And the death of Adam Walsh finally was resolved, twenty-some years later:
Prisoner Who Confessed To Killing, Recanted, Died Named Abductor, Murderer
updated 3:18 p.m. PT, Wed., Dec. 17, 2008
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Hollywood police said that they have closed the case in the 1981 killing of 6-year-old Adam Walsh.
Walsh, whose father is “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh, was abducted from a Sears store inside the Hollywood Mall on July 27, 1981. His severed head was found two weeks later in a Vero Beach canal. The body was never recovered.
Self-proclaimed serial killer Ottis Toole confessed to killing Walsh, but he twice recanted and died in prison in 1996. However, the Hollywood Police Department said overwhelming evidence indicated that Toole was responsible for the killing.
“It is our determination and conclusion that Ottis Toole was the abductor and murderer of Adam Walsh,” Hollywood Police Chief Chad Wagner said.
John and his wife, Revé Walsh, always believed Toole was the killer and said they now have closure after 27 years.
“We needed to know, and today we know,” John Walsh said.
John Walsh, the father, turned the death of his son into a crusade, and ultimately, a career — he has been the host of “America’s Most Wanted” for much more than a decade. And, the Associated Press is more than happy to exhume the grand guignol horrorshow, in all its gory glory. The tale took a passel of AP writers, so you know it just drips blood. And it does.
Associated Press writers Sarah Larimer, Tamara Lush and Travis Reed in Miami; Mitch Stacy and Christine Armario in Tampa; and Mike Schneider in Orlando contributed to this report.
Here’s a creepy sample:
In one of the most gruesome explanations of Adam’s fate, Toole told a Brevard County investigator that he chopped off the boy’s head, then brought his body back to Jacksonville and burned it in his mother’s yard. “I ate a little bit of him,” the detective recalled Toole saying. But Toole told others he buried it by the Florida’s Turnpike or dumped it in the canal with the head…
Propriety (and a firm regard for ‘cease and desist’ letters) forbids me from quoting more of the AP’s gorenographic epic, but if that sort of thing is your cup of tea, well, the pot is now whistling.
Adam Walsh closure and deja vu. Right?
Which is just weird as hell, timing-wise, or perhaps even planned. I mean, I can accept it as a harmonic coincidence of some sort — they happen all the time, of course, — but it sure as hell would be a slick trick to have planned the timing in one of those Rovian Specials that we’ve grown so accustomed to:
Well, let the good ol’ Gum’mint provide the segue:
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
28 CFR Part 75
[Docket No. CRM 104; CRM 105; AG Order No. 3025-2008______]
RIN 1105-AB18; RIN 1105-AB19
Revised Regulations for Records Relating to Visual Depictions of Sexually Explicit Conduct; Inspection of Records Relating to Depiction of Simulated Sexually Explicit Performance
AGENCY: Department of Justice.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: This rule finalizes two proposed rules and amends the record-keeping, labeling, and inspection requirements to account for changes in the underlying statute made by Congress in enacting the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. [emphasis added]
Yeah, THAT Adam Walsh.
So, what on Earth could the grisly abduction and decapitation of Adam Walsh have to do with adult movie record keeping?
We’ll get there by and by.
ii. The Regs you may have heard of …
The whole process of Federal regulation is one of those very ‘not sexy’ issues that we don’t pay any attention to until it’s our bull that gets gored.
Federal regulations are where the “rubber meets the road.” They are the interpretation by the Executive Branch (the branch that EXECUTES the laws) of the laws that the Legislative Branch passes.
A good example is “signing statements” in which the sitting president states his ‘interpretation’ of the law he’s signing — in Bush’s case — as Resident — he ofttimes makes statements on the order of ‘day is night’ or ‘black is white’ or ‘2+2=5’.
So, THESE new regulations have been front page news all day on the political blogs:
Rob Stein / Washington Post:
New Rule Protects Health-Care Workers’ ‘Right of Conscience’ — The Bush administration today issued a sweeping new regulation that protects a broad range of health-care workers — from doctors to janitors — who refuse to participate in providing services that they believe violate their personal, moral or religious beliefs.
Yeah? Well, they ain’t talkin’ about tonsillectomies, kiddies.
They’s talkin’ bout sexin’ and contraceptin’ and abortin’.
I wonder if you are familiar with the history of contraception in this country? There isn’t time to go into it, from Anthony Comstock‘s indictment and conviction of Margaret Sanger for distributing information on it, through the landmark ’60s Warren Court decision overturning Connecticut’s law against contraception (on the grounds it wasn’t any of the gum’mint’s beeswax), through the Rust v. Sullivan case, which basically said it was OK for the government to institute a ‘gag order’ on doctors receiving federal funds to keep them from telling about contraception or abortion.
So much for the First Amendment.
Ever since Anthony Comstock, the Jerry Falwell of his day, but Falwell given federal powers to enforce his hyper-Victorian notion that sex was fundamentally dirty, and, therefore no one should be allowed to speak of it, write of it, or depict it …
Presumably to keep it from catching on.
Well, Comstock never died.
That picture of Bettie Page in Playboy (they bought it from somebody who already had the picture, like Hefner bought the Marilyn Monroe calendar shot for his first issue) could have gotten you arrested in most places when it came out in December of 1955.
Now, it would be a respectable perfume ad in Vanity Fair. Nothing risqué about a couple of non-erect nipples.
But, to this DAY, the fact that Al Franken wrote a humor piece on sex for Playboy magazine a decade and more ago is a CAMPAIGN slur blasted through the chilly streets of Minnesota. (See “Putting the ‘Petty’ in Petit Bourgeois – Part ii,” 6 June 2008)
And, the reason for the regulation on “medical conscience” is to give virtually any health care officer, from the nurse to the janitor, the pharmacist to the busboy, the chance to veto contraception, abortion, or both.
Because even though we’ve learned to control the tyranny of the body (and it’s valuable NOT to have endless unwanted and “accidental” children at a moment when the world’s collective beehive of humanity tops 6.7 billion and rising geometrically), there are powerful forces that demand that unwanted pregnancy control your life — as some sort of Divine Judgment for having committed the Original Sin, which isn’t actually the original sin at all, but you can’t argue with a fanatic when they get all rhetorical, so Original Sin it is.
iii. The Regs you didn’t (hear a damned thing about)
It starts back in the days of both “Deep Throats.”
Tricky Dick didn’t like that porno and … well:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A 1968 United States Supreme Court decision that held that people could view whatever they wished in the privacy of their own homes caused the United States Congress to fund the President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, set up by President Lyndon B. Johnson to study pornography.
The commission’s report, called Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, and published in 1970, recommended sex education, funding of research into the effects of pornography and restriction of children’s access to pornography, and recommended against any restrictions for adults. The report was widely criticized and rejected by Congress. President Richard Nixon, who had succeeded Johnson in 1969, also emphatically rejected the report.
In an example of détournement, Earl Kemp published an illustrated edition of the Presidential Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography in 1970 through a publishing company owned by William Hamling called Greenleaf Classics. Kemp and Hamling were eventually sentenced to one year in prison for “conspiracy to mail obscene material,” but both served only the federal minimum of three months and one day. 
And then, in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court (the Burger Court) ruled in the landmark Miller v. California case that pretty much anything was OK as long as it didn’t offend “community standards.” (There’s more nuance, but that’s the gist of it.) In his book,It Seemed Like Nothing Happened: America in the 1970s author Peter N. Carroll writes:
So, what do the new “Adam Walsh” regs have to do with Nixon’s “citizen’s crusade against the obscene”?
Well, like the Meese Commission under Reagan, they’re going to stop this horrible practice. Just like Comstock at the turn of the 20th Century.
In a rarity, the new regs actually explain themselves in something approaching English. Take it away, regs:
The Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988, Public Law 100-690, codified at 18 U.S.C. 2257, imposes certain name- and age-verification, record-keeping, and labeling requirements on producers of visual depictions of actual human beings engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Specifically, section 2257 requires producers of such material to “ascertain, by examination of an identification document containing such information, the performer’s name and date of birth,” to “ascertain any name, other than the performer’s present and correct name, ever used by the performer including maiden name, alias, nickname, stage, or professional name,” and to record and maintain this information. 18 U.S.C. 2257(b). Violations of these record-keeping requirements are criminal offenses punishable by imprisonment of not more than five years for a first offense and not more than 10 years for subsequent offenses. See id. 2257(i). Any matter containing such visual depictions must be labeled with a statement indicating where the records are located, and those records are subject to inspection by the government. See id. 2257(c), (e). These provisions supplement the federal statutory provisions criminalizing the production and distribution of materials visually depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
If you’re not up on your Orwell, let me note the glaring madness that has remained unchallenged ever since the first regs were issued in 1988, ostensibly to protect underage performers like Traci Lords (currently appearing in the film “Zack and Miri Make a Porno“) even though it was always apparent that Lords had procured fake ID and a US passport which the Feds never GOT was exploitation, all right, but not by the producers who had demanded ID from said fraud.
Traci Lords (3rd from right)
Because they didn’t give a hoot about “Traci Lords” — what they wanted was a way to eradicate porn by making it more and more difficult to make legally. To make by regulation illegal that which is by statute legal.
Er … just like they did with contraception and abortion rights.
Remember, these are the thugs who figured out how to use “community standards” to try Harry Reems and Larry Flynt in Memphis, Tennessee, and just recently Rob Black and Lizzie Borden in Mary Beth Buchanan’s Eastern Pennsylvania, and Max Hardcore in Florida*. (*see “Profiles in Cur-age” 5 Dec 08, and “War Porn and Silencing Soldiers” 5 Nov 07).
Just as they’ve made it legal but impossible to obtain contraception and abortion services in more and more locales. It is the criminality of morality, or, rather, ‘morality’ criminality: using any sleazy dodge to attain their ends, which are allegedly ‘moral’ — e.g. if I don’t like the idea of you liking it, it must be suppressed.
And, to underscore the point, the “new” 2257 regulations already have an ugly record of failing to live up to the Constitution.
It’s been a clear-cut First Amendment case for 230 years, but somehow that “free speech” isn’t the “free speech” we’re ever talking about, and the same mentality that attempted to imprison Margaret Sanger for giving out information on contraception now looks to stop pornography even if it is legal, and, demonstrably, seems to DECREASE the very sexual crimes that “moral” crusaders insist that it engenders.
(Three studies on three continents in three different decades show a correlation between availability of pornography and decrease in sexual crimes, like rape, child molestation, etc. In Japan, the decrease in the latter was very markedly so.)
This anti-sex crusade flies in the face of instinct AND reason. The science doesn’t support it, but they persist nonetheless. And in an infernal, and by no means ‘divine’ manner, it cannot be questioned. Moral criminals.
Here’s an example of the kind of Catch-22 rules they’ve written into the new “Adam Walsh” version of the rules (and, no, Adam Walsh was never the point of these regs — just a smokescreen to attack porn from a new direction, from First Amendment attorney Paul Cambria at Adult Video News:
“For a performer who was not 18 as of this date, the date of original production is the date that such a performer was first actually filmed, videotaped, photographed, or otherwise depicted.” 28 C.F.R. 75.1(m). Consequently, primary producers may now have two different dates of production for a work depending on whether they use performers who are not of age as of the first day of shooting.
But what about comp[ilation]s? One would think that the date of production on a comp would not be relevant to determining the age of any performers in the compilation because the composition is entirely secondary to the original production. Not so, according to the new regulation: “With respect to matter that is a secondarily produced compilation of individual, primarily produced depictions, the date of original production of the matter is the earliest date after July 3, 1995, on which any individual depiction in that compilation was produced.” 28 C.F.R. 75.1(m). Seems simple enough, right? Well, check out the next line of the definition: “For a performer in one of the individual depictions contained in that compilation who was not 18 as of this date, the date of original production is the date that the performer was first actually filmed, videotaped, photographed, or otherwise depicted for the individual depiction at issue.” Translated: For every performer in a compilation who turned 18 after the production date of the earliest depiction in the compilation, you must have the date on which he or she was first filmed. Not only does this make no sense in terms of relevancy, it is a very burdensome task: If scene X is published on its own (not in a comp) and all of the performers were 18 before the first day of the shoot, then all the producer would have to know is the date of filming (or the first date of a multiple-day shoot). But if scene X is published in a comp containing a scene that has an earlier date of original production, now the producer of the comp must be concerned with the date of first filming of any performer in scene X who was not 18 by that earliest original production date associated with an entirely different production. So, it looks like the days of irrelevant comp dates are not entirely over.
I know. It seems confusing, but the gist is that insanely meticulous record keeping has to be engaged in. And this is only one instance of dozens, if not to say, gazillions. (Or, you can go to the federal penitentiary for five years for not keeping your records in perfect cross-referenced order — for EACH violation. I am not kidding about this.)
But what was that “glaring madness” to which I earlier referred?
It is this: the “burden of proof” has been turned on its head in the Best Big Brother tradition.
The “crime” of 2257 is NOT that you used underage performers. It is that you can’t PROVE that you didn’t. This is allegedly to protect “children” like, say, Traci Lords.
It is a back door and upside down recriminalizing of legal activity.
But it has to do with sex, so don’t expect any hue and cry.
But get this: without a peep, the §2257 regulations are a fundamental reversal of the concept of “innocent until proven guilty.” Instead, you are guilty until proven innocent in ever-increasing “dot every i, cross every t” manner of bureaucratic nightmare.
And all in the name of Adam Walsh and to ‘protect’ Traci Lords.
Still, the irony can’t be lost that, while we are quick to decry the sleazy attack on abortion and contraception via the regulations that are dominating discussion in the blogo-media politicosphere, not a peep has been heard about the OTHER set of regs, promulgated by the same mentalities using the same instrumentality to achieve extra-legal ends in their “moral” crusade against sex.
And, they depend on people’s embarrassment to keep anyone from talking about their anti-sexual depravity. Thus, the “medical veto” regs are discussed, but the Kafkaesque “record keeping” requirements vanish in the face of the cacophany of our media’s daily vapors.
(You know, as Bush brags about his African AIDS initiative, nobody mentions that his Maladministration has used funding to keep condoms from being distributed in Africa. Might have SEX. Can’t have that. If they do, it’s DIVINE RETRIBUTION for them to get AIDS. Right?)
Well, somehow, I don’t think sex will be defeated, but a lot of lives will be crushed by our compassionate conservatives.
Which seems to be what gets THEM off.
Mark Felt, Bettie Page and Adam Walsh: All at a strange point of completion, personally and historically.
And criminals of high moral purpose obsessed with other people’s sex. Funny about these coincidences. Maybe it’s time for another fusillade in the sexual revolution. Maybe it’s “steam engine” time again.
The grave is silent. It is the living that we must attend to. But we are haunted by their ghosts.
Or we could go back to analyzing shoe flight vectors.