The River

Friday, September 23, 2005

Woody sez:


This is our country here as far as you can see no matter which
way you walk or
No matter what spot of it you stand on
And when you have crossed her as many times as I have you will
see as many ugly things about her as pretty things
You will hear whole gangs of travelers and settlers arguing
about her.
What she is, how she come to be, what you are supposed to do here.
and you will hear some argue at you
That she is so beautiful you are supposed to spend your life just
feeling her pretty parts,
Sucking in her sweetest breezes and tasting her fairest odors,
looking at her brightest colored scenes,
And I would say that gang has the wrong notion.
And there are some bunches that tell you she is all ugly and all
dirty, that there is nothing good about her, nothing free, nothing
clean, that she is all slums, shacks, rot, filth, stink, and bad
odors, loud words of bitter flavors,
Well, this herd is big and I heard them often and I heard them loud,
but I come to think that they too was just as wrong as the first

Because I seen the pretty and I seen the ugly and it was because I
knew the pretty part that I wanted to change the ugly part,
Because I hated the dirty part that I knew how to feel the love
for the cleaner part,

I looked in a million of her faces and eyes, and I told myself there
was a look on that face that was good, if I could see it there,
in back of all of the shades and shadows of fear and doubt and
ignorance and tangles of debts and worries,

And I guess it is these things that make our country look all lopsided
to some of us, lopped over onto the good and easy side or over
onto the bad and the hard side,

I know that the people that run our desks and offices got so full
of the desire to grab enough money to run away and hide on, that
they let this thought run them, instead of the bigger plan,
well, this has always been a hard word to say, but
It could very truly be that our office people are doing the best they
know how to do,
But we had ought to teach ourselves better and higher than this
before we run ourselves and put ourselves into our offices.

Damn straight.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I am a traveler in the last days of an American Dream

I have watched the twin towers of commerce on the eastern shores of America destroyed by fire. I have witnessed a takeover of the presidency by an oil family who are determined to own every drop of oil in the world, and control all the lands and peoples because they are superior; they have white skin and Christianity. The presidency is allied with Christian extremists who don’t consider themselves extremists, rather Christian soldiers working to claim all this for their God, a god who gave them the right to kill Indians and gives them the right to takeover the Middle East.


Note to self: check wood s lot everyday; if you're too tired for the words, there's always the pictures.


An e-mail at work from my wife entitled "short, non-Katrina read" and today's Rigorous Intuition post both point to a couple of favorite recent films.

RI blog author Jeff Wells' post is about Bob Dylan's 2003 film Masked and Anonymous, which was almost universally slammed by corporate media critics. My review, in the form of a IM chat, was at odds with the prevailing sentiment.

An interesting cast o characters

Jeff also points us to a great David Vest piece on the film. The musician, writer and sharp observer of the American scene writes:

In spite of what you may have read, the film is not "set in some imaginary third-world country at some point in the future," anymore than King Lear is about prehistoric England. Failure to recognize the true setting should immediately disqualify any reviewer. "Masked and Anonymous" is a spot-on accurate portrayal of what is going on RIGHT NOW, seen through the eyes of someone with vision and not just eyesight, someone who has looked through the eyes not only of Charley Patton and Elizabeth Cotton but also of Emmett Miller and even Daniel Decatur Emmett.

All America's chicken-hawk foreign wars have come home to roost. The horrors once visited upon El Salvador, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Somalia and Iraq are now rolling through the streets of California.

Leigh's e-mail provided a link to a Guardian piece about Japanese animated filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, who makes films of singular artistic integrity -- Howl's Moving Castle, most recently, as well as Oscar winner Spirited Away and the metaphysical epic Princess Mononoke.

Scenes from Howl's Moving Castle and Hayao Miyazaki at the Venice film festival in 2005. Photograph: Claudio Onorati/EPA

The article features a rare interview with the director, including:

"Personally I am very pessimistic," Miyazaki says. "But when, for instance, one of my staff has a baby you can't help but bless them for a good future. Because I can't tell that child, 'Oh, you shouldn't have come into this life.' And yet I know the world is heading in a bad direction. So with those conflicting thoughts in mind, I think about what kind of films I should be making."

Perhaps this is why he tells children's stories. "Well, yes. I believe that children's souls are the inheritors of historical memory from previous generations. It's just that as they grow older and experience the everyday world that memory sinks lower and lower. I feel I need to make a film that reaches down to that level. If I could do that I would die happy."

I ask if he feels he's managed that already and he chuckles and shakes his head. Nor does he feel that film can be employed as a force for good. "Film doesn't have that kind of power," he says, gloomily. "It only exerts its influence when it stirs patriots up against other nations, or taps into aggressive, violent urges."

This is a black diagnosis indeed. But then, inexplicably, Miyazaki's mood lightens. Perhaps it's the sunshine, or the cigarette, or the fact that the interview is almost over. "Of course," he relents, "if, as artists, we try to tap into that soul level - if we say that life is worth living and the world is worth living in - then something good might come of it." He shrugs. "Maybe that's what these films are doing. They are my way of blessing the child"

If it walks like a castle, it must be a castle. Howl's Moving Castle.

Another fairly recent favorite is The Station Agent.

Hangin out, hangin in.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Boundless creativity

I don't know how he does it.

Monday, September 12, 2005

"We Went into the Mall and Began 'Looting'":
A Letter on Race, Class, and Surviving the Hurricane

I think on Friday the helicopters began to arrive dropping water and MRE rations in the parking lot in front of us. It was the first food and water ever to arrive -- three days after the hurricane. And it was just tossed from the helicopter for people to run after and gather. The old and the sick had nothing. Again, no one knew what was happening. Fires were burning all around. Everyone was desperate and frightened. Everyone was just trying to survive. And all, other than us tourists, were there because they had been completely wiped out -- they had lost their homes and every possession and had young kids and elderly parents to feed.

As the helicopters arrived, we also ran down and gathered what we could. We began to survive on the army rations. Ernesto and I became friendly with the man who had given the speech chastising our group. He invited me to go with him to the Convention Center and distribute whatever Army rations we could pick up from the next helicopter to the disabled there since they had no way to get rations. We gathered about thirty meals out of the next drop. (The drops were scandalous -- throwing food and water out of a hovering helicopter -- people scrambling for food to survive. Reduced to animals foraging -- when the copters could have landed, imposed order with guards, and distributed food with some respect and humanity)


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Like I was sayin,

New Orleans: the specter of military dictatorship

Friday, September 09, 2005

Response 'baffling'?

"The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it." -- Joseph Mengele, camp doctor at Auschewitz, notorious for his experiments on inmates.

Heavily armed military police patrol Canal Street in New Orleans.
Photo: AP
[Does this look like humanitarian relief for New Orleans?]


The South Side Democrat called FEMA's slow response "baffling."

"I don't understand how you could have a situation where you've got several days' notice of an enormous hurricane building in the Gulf Coast, you know that New Orleans is 6 feet below sea level. ... The notion that you don't have good plans in place just does not make sense," Obama said.

-- Chicago Sun-Times report

It's only "baffling" if you haven't caught up with reality yet. Remember, they are creating new realities, and they are hell for anyone on the wrong side of their guns. Hyperbole? Ask the Iraqis.

People forced to stay in the Superdome, in the city, without food or water or medical care. Forced. With guns. People trying to relay supplies out of a truck, instead of having them thrown at them from an overpass, met with guns.

Here's the reality: this whole exercise is just the beginning. The more they do things that are unacceptable to decent people, the more they will need an army (read: thugs) that will execute shoot to kill orders. Surely you don't think it was an accident that they could so easily round up a contingent of Iraq battle-hardened soldiers to patrol N.O., do you? Do you see incompetence in that?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, they are not incompetent. They accomplish what they want to do. Steal two elections? Done. Invade a country, rob it blind and set up army bases? Done. Allow a natural disaster to fester, whip up unsubstantiated horror stories so you can introduce police state features such as mandatory detention and shoot to kill military operations against fellow countrymen? Done.

It looks hideous to us. It's all incredibly crude. So we're baffled. We won't accept that they are evil, inhuman, predatory scum. And it’s not like they try to hide it. When Bush was asked about what went wrong and what didn’t go right, he responded, “What didn’t go right?”

They have tremendous resources. They have trillions in unaccounted for, black ops money. They can get things done. And the media, the big broadcasters that mesmerize the populace, is on THEIR side. The scumbags are unaccountable, and they know it. Hence the flagrant disregard for New Orleans in the days after the hurricane.

They've had years and years to move people into position, to groom, to purge, to get people to accept and go along. It's only going to get worse. New outrages will come.

They will roll out new products, and they will turn the screw a little more.

This has only just begun. The impact of hundreds of thousands of displaced people, who need jobs and homes and whose children need schooling, will slowly but surely begin to be felt. The psychological scars from the experience will begin to tell upon them. "We are more vulnerable now than before 9/11 because faith in the system is gone," reported Anne Gervasi from New Orleans. "No system can sustain itself as a viable entity when the citizenry are the walking wounded. Victims implode a system from within and expose its decay. This is the beginning of the end unless we can get a drastic change of philosophy and restore the government to a system 'by the people for the people.' Right now nobody down here believes we have that."

What have the dead taught the living? Responsible and effective government matters. At this moment, we have neither. We are, simply put, on our own.

-- William Rivers Pitt, Let the Dead Teach the Living


Yes, and if you are in the way of the Halliburton/Military profit-off-misery machine, there's also an army and detainment camps to deal with.

This is more of the same. Really, there is nothing shocking here. What they've done to Iraq is ten times worse. What they've done to countless countries through economic hitmen is much worse. This is just a little intro. A little hint of how bad it can and will get here, of how we the citizens of the U.S. will be treated, as in no different than the citizens have been treated elsewhere. The life of blind privilege is over, at least for those of us who can see.


Karen Johnson prefers to stay so she can take care of her parents, who are disabled. She walks around waving a white flag so that no one mistakes her for a looter. But she will not stand her water-laden ground when authorities arrive, she said.

"When they come with M16s to the house pointing, with their hands on the trigger, I'm not crazy," Johnson said. "I will go."

Johnson needn't worry about police firepower.

Police Chief Eddie Compass said his officers are "going to do this with sensitivity."

"We're going to use the minimal amount of force," he said.

CNN report


The human and compassionate response to a disaster is not a military force with shoot to kill orders, it is not, as I saw on Fox News last night, soldiers going through houses with guns at the ready as if they are at war in an occupied country.

More people need to catch up with reality. But I don't think I can wait anymore. This country is going down fast. There will be more emergencies, natural, man-made and economic. Catastrophic upheaval for millions, breakdown of civil order, and soldiers to quell the unrest and camps for survivors, as well as dissidents.


Regarding forming communities in order to survive. I heard a radio interview yesterday with a Chicago doctor who had been one of the infectious disease doctors in for a conference staying at the Ritz Carleton. We might laugh at the relative luxe with which such people suffered out five or six days, but still, things weren't so hot for these people either. It was a rather ordinary interview in many respects. He told about how they set up a triage unit and worked, with intermittent electricity, to treat people suffering from lack of their medications, cuts and bruises, dysentery, etc. They had several serious cases and tried to see if they could get them to Charity Hospital. That's when they found out what a nightmare was going on over there.

At any rate, the interview was about to wind up, and this doctor, sensing the immiment end of his fifteen minutes (5 actually) of fame, said "May I just say one thing?" The interviewer consented. Here's a paraphrase of what he said: "I just want to say that we were all kinds of people there. We were black people and white, hispanic, gay, and straight, And we formed a community in order to survive. And I'm just thinking that that is what has to happen all over America right now: we have to form these kinds of communities to take care of each other, because that will be the only way we can survive."

Holy shit, I thought. Was he saying we can no longer depend on government and must take it all into our own hands? And that we damn well better make sure those communities are inclusive, because these divisions and labels don't mean squat when you only have 1 bottle of Perrier left among you? I think he did.
samela | 09.08.05 - 8:04 pm | #

-- From a Hullabalo comment thread


This is the "homeland" equivalent of picking up a country and slamming it against the wall every now and then.


albertchampion - I have been posting on my blog [Nothing New Under the Sun, check it out] and anywhere that I could scream, that this is an act of war for days, and I think I have figured out the motivation, too.

Here is a question for researchers which I am not able to do the legwork right now: match up the timeline of the defunding of the levvees, which came when they were half finished and most vulnerable, unsealed repairs, - and see how it corresponds to the insurgency in Iraq rising in force.

If it starts as it becomes obvious that no flowers'n'barrels'o'oil were forthcoming, then we have the motive: Texas is annexing Louisiana for their oil; and the Mayflower Medicis are using the Maybury Machiavellis to secure one party rule and consolidate power for their collective aristocracy of blood and wealth.

If it started *before* - then this is LIHOP II, and the whole damn thing, from Saddam to Osama to Saddam, has been a Phantom Menace from the start.

I dont' know which possibility is more likely, or more horrible. But it's one of those two.
bellatrys | Homepage | 09.09.05 - 7:08 am | #


The raison d'etre for this, Digby, is contained in your preceding post.

It is an excuse for dictatorship, the rule of the Strong Man over the stupid helpless peasants who could only fight amongst themselves when crisis hit.

They tried to set up a situation that would "prove" the Straussian paradigm, that the masses are incapable and must be ruled for own good by the innately-better elite; social engineering/experimentation of the nth degree, unprecedented scale. They expected race riots in response: there were none. That did not stop them: they just lied and said that the black savages were engaging in slaughter and rapine. People did not believe them: the hoi polloi came frmo around the country to rescue other peasants, caring nothing for color: so they had to keep them out and their victims in.

And now they are trying to hide the bodies, and say that their point is proven: one man one vote democracy is a foolish system that cannot be effective in the face of the harsh real-world challenges of the 21st century and so we must be Strong and give the Keys back to Daddy Landowner, who as always knows best.

The fact that Gov. Blanco is female and a democrat is part of their fascist meme. The fact that she in fact was not weak and did ask for help did not stop them from refusing her aid and then lying about her request. The fact that instead of surrendiering LA to the plutocrats at once she refused - which is why no aid allowed in, in part - is ignored by the SCLM. The fact that her actions have been, as soon as she could, to hire the competent former director of FEMA, Witt, and put him in charge of managing disaster recovery since they have been abandoned, and has been touring the front in military trucks to assess the damage and give orders, is ignored in favor of the meme of her fecklessness.

The fact that she was a prolife anti-affirmative-action conservative Democrat who ran as Repub-lite, explicitly - is also left out of the discourse.

As is the fact that disaster management for NOLA had been subcontracted to a private company named IEM, of shadowy origin and memoryholing habits, as exposed by China Mieville on his blog, Lenin's Tomb, who apparently did nothing at all for the years that they were getting paid to come up with a hurricane management plan.

Connect. The. Dots.

And then perhaps people will have a bit more sympathy for the America-hating of the communists, to whom we did all this, even if they weren't communists really or at least weren't totalitarians but people like Chavez, for the past hundred-odd years...

...America-hating that is so virulent that even Iran, to whom we also did this, with a CIA sponsored and stage-managed coup (complete with fake native leadres) against secular elected leader Mossadegh in 1953, is trying to help us...
bellatrys | Homepage | 09.09.05 - 7:23 am | #

-- From a Hullabalo thread here.


For more on FEMA and what the business world might call its core competencies, please see the indispensable Kurt Nimmo: FEMA and Katrina: REX-84 Revisited.

UPDATE: Chris Floyd nails it, as usual...

No Direction Home


Just as the media have always overhyped Bush's popularity, they are now overhyping the "political crisis" he is supposedly facing. There is no political crisis whatsoever, if by that phrase you mean something that will cause Bush to alter his policies. The war in Iraq will go on. The war against the poor will go on. The slow destruction of middle-class security and stability will go on. The long and ferocious right-wing campaign against the very idea of a "common good" will go on, unabated -- perhaps even strengthened -- as it faces a backlash from the half of the American public that does accept the reality of what they saw in New Orleans and all along the Gulf Coast.

This is what you must understand: Bush and his faction do not care if they have "the consent of the governed" or not. They are not interested in governing at all, in responding to the needs and desires and will of the people. They are only interested in ruling, in using the power of the state to force their radical agenda of elitist aggrandizement and ideological crankery on the nation, and on the world.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A soldier patrols the street next to a house fire in the Garden District in New Orleans Tuesday.

And I don't have to read the news
Or hear it on the radio
I see it in the faces of everyone I know
The sun comes up
The sun goes down
But what's gonna happen to our little town

-- Our Little Town by Greg Brown

Earline Scott of Baton Rouge reacts to a fire in the Garden District in New Orleans Tuesday.

[AP Photos/Rick Bowmer]

UPDATE: Our town? It (as in the U.S.) is occupied -- The Battle of New Orleans