The River

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Deja vu

---UPDATE: Arkansas GOP Head: We Need More ‘Attacks on American Soil’ So People Appreciate Bush

When I read that

The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, signed on May 9, 2007 declares that in the event of a “catastrophic event”, George W. Bush can become what is best described as "a dictator"..

(which was pointed out to me by both Bill Connolly and Inspector Lohmann)

And I consider Cheney's admission that he will immediately blame Iran for any terrorist attack regardless of evidence, and then I factor in the wingnut need for Americans to be reminded of the seriousness of their (delusional) global struggle against Islamofascism, I can't help but be reminded of those PNACers pining for American hegemony in the Middle East, beginning in particular with Iraq (an issue which transcended the regime of Saddam Hussein) but lamenting the fact that such a program wasn't easily sold to the public without a new Pearl Harbor, and also remember that nine months into the Bush II presidency an event happened that fits that description *exactly*, I have to wonder just how hard the White House criminals are wishing for a another "catastrophic event" and which players and/or patsies have been moved into position, and who and how many are in the crosshairs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Todd Snider: one of America's great unsung songwriters

Conservative Christian, Right Wing Republican, Straight White American Males


Friday, May 25, 2007

30 years ago today

(a repost in honor of the 30th anniversary of Star Wars)

Star Wars: What happened?

A very long time ago...

It is nineteen seventy five. Every other boy in the Hometown High School yearbook has long hair. The football team smokes reefer and congressmen are wearing extravagant sideburns. Many people who ten years earlier had been questing for Autonomy gave up and became Born Agains, Greenpeace members, Hare Krishnas, or Investment Bankers. Who will speak for the youth? The Eagles? I don't think so. Allow this mixture to ferment for a few years and the next thing ya know you've got Luke Skywalker riding in to save the day on a white horse and wearing a purple mohawk and large size safety pin nose ring.

-- The Post-modern Autonomous Footsoldier: an Historical Perspective

It’s been almost 30 years since Star Wars blasted its way onto the American scene. 30 years? Can that be right? No wonder I’m having trouble casting my mind back that far. Things, to put it mildly, have changed.

But travel back with me to a more innocent time. 1977. I’m 14. Culture is comic books, Rockford Files, Hollywood Squares, Laugh-In. Paul McCartney and Wings, Elton John, The Captain and Tenille. Jimmy Carter, Six Flags, recession.

I’m on a summer vacation with my next oldest brother and Mom and Dad. We’ve driven up the Eastern U.S. from Atlanta to Atlantic City, with a stop in D.C. Previews for a new science fiction movie have been on TV, some teaser posters have been displayed, but otherwise there hasn’t been much hype or attention to a new movie from the director of "American Graffiti."

It has caught my attention, however. The previews are riveting in a “my curiosity is definitely being piqued here” kind of way. I probably said something like, “that looks kinda good, doesn’t it Dad?” We often watched TV together, particularly The Rockford Files.

The new movie has me so intrigued that I’ve picked up the mass market paperback novelization, and have been reading it in the car. The vacation is almost over. We’re on our way home from up north, and we stop in college town for the night rather than try to drive it all at once. It so happens that it’s a Friday night and Star Wars is premiering across the country. I suggest we all go see it. I look in the phone book to find nearby theaters and call for show times. Yes, it’s spontaneous as hell. We get there uneventfully, on time, feeling good, successfully almost-completed vacation trip behind us. I still remember the college kids standing in the surprisingly long line, couples, date night.

Darkened, full, expectant theater. Previews over, and here it comes. The stage-setting crawl, the music, the imperial cruiser. A desperate message; strange, endearing robots escaping to a desert planet; a young dreamer; a mysterious old man. Adventure. Swashbuckling. A kiss and a swing across an abyss, just ahead of the forces of darkness. It is all fantastic and all real. It is an experience, it is elation, it is hope.

I’m sure we cheered the destruction of the Death Star. And we most certainly weren’t alone.

"For me, Star Wars is Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia" -- friends answer to why he hasn't bothered to see the latest Star Wars trilogy.

Flash forward to 2005 -- "Revenge of the Sith" and George Lucas, who seems to be stuck in some 80s Michael Jackson Thriller video hell. Only his videos are two-hour installments of wooden politics and “the force” mumbo jumbo punctuated by slickly produced, fast but incredibly bland, and, at times, sadistic battles.

The recent trilogy, the one that precedes the original (it makes sense in bizarro world), carries one extremely dispiriting American message: more is better, which has been our mantra since the Reagan and Gordon Gecko ‘80s. Greed is good.

So now, no one blinks when Lucas foists a meaningless piece of cultural detritus on a credulous public. If a light saber duel is cool, then a light saber battle against a droid wielding four of them is better. Isn’t that obvious? If a light saber face-off between arch representatives of good and evil is compelling, then two such battles simultaneously are even more impressive. And look! Light sabers now come in purple!

Unfortunately, more always transfers more of your money to wealthy schemers, ultimately leaving you exhausted and broke. Or, if you apply the paradigm to our government and its wars, exhausted and broken in body and soul.

But, ironically, isn’t Lucas supposed to be telling us that? So, with “Revenge of the Sith” we get pummeled with endless references to “the power of the darkside” and "the empire” and lots of shots of Hayden Christensen peering darkly from under his hood, flames dancing in the whites of his eyes. Do we really need all this pounding over the head, when we instantly understood the dark power of Darth Vader when he first strode through the dead bodies on a rebel ship back in the 70s, black cape flowing?

Do we really need all these references to the force, when we knew that Luke felt the entire panoply of human emotion as he watched the double sunset of Tatooine, heartbroken yet feeling a pull to play his part in a vast, incomprehensible, interconnected universe? Didn’t Alec Guinness already carefully and quietly demonstrate the principles of a spiritual approach to life?

Do we really need a “debate” over whether Lucas is warning America of its desire for empire when we all know America is The Empire, and many of us like it? There is something exceedingly hollow in being cautioned about the evils of empire with a movie that drips with consumerism and greed.

The Star Wars franchise and the American Empire are all about “more.” More product for you and me, and exported to others whether they like it or not. Free-Dumb for all. Consumerism, baby. Have you consumed Star Wars yet? Bought the video game, the toys, the fast food meal?

After viewing "Revenge of the Sith", you may, like me, feel like holding up your gloves and chanting “nada mas, nada mas.”

Like the Matrix series, these trilogies are nothing more than exercises in wretched excess. Every subsequent Star Wars film has been a parasite, sucking its life from the original, with the possible exception of "The Empire Strikes Back," which had Jedi training with Yoda, Lando Calrissian, and the memorable “I….am your father.” It was, at least, the dark counterpart to the first’s message of hope. is your destiny

But it also established one of the ills of the franchise, defining itself by how it’s different (this usually involves “more”): “hey! I know! We had a hot desert planet last time, how ‘bout an ICE planet?!”

If you do want to see big idea scifi, I suggest you rent “Nausicca of The Valley of the Wind,” the 1984 Japanese animated feature from Hayao Miyazaki. It doesn’t feature ham-fisted dialogue, in-your-face battles and graceless, frantic action. And it’s not about installing another nozzle on an already bloated money-sucking machine.

Poster for the Japanese mind-bender

It is about humankind struggling with what it has wrought – environmental devastation. It’s techno-militarism versus enlightened humanism. It’s told with imagination, style, pace, thrilling action, and it’s centered on a young, uncorrupted heroine. In short, it’s everything the original Star Wars was and the Star Wars franchise is not.

I viewed "Nausicca" recently, and appreciated it, but you never forget your first time. Rock-n-roll concerts, beer, girls, dirty brown Mexican weed, and the original Star Wars.

When you were young there were only two things you wanted. To be a Jedi Master and to have the power to stop time and wreak havoc on your sixth-grade classmates, frozen and impotent, as you wild through the halls hurling Apple II Pluses at cafeteria aides.

Harrison Ford made it out alive. Carrie Fisher does OK. But what happened to Luke? Did he go back to the Dagoba system for more training?

Petty jabs aside, this may be the only film in the last twenty-five years whose first viewing approximates the first time you got stoned. Not the first time you smoked pot, but the first time you didn’t have to fake being high. The moment that changed your life forever and landed you in this book.

No film has ever come close to the sense of sheer wonder that George Lucas’s work of genius provides. You can’t take it with you, but every now and then the feeling can almost be reclaimed. Almost.

-- “Baked Potatoes: A Pot Smoker’s Guide to Film and Video,” John Hulme, Michael Wexler

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Employment related program activities

According the the BBC (by way of the Happy Tutor), "Fast-food giant McDonald's has launched a petition to get the dictionary definition of a McJob changed."

Changed to what? asks the Tutor.

Probably something like this:

Mc·Job (mĭk-jŏb') n. Slang
Employment at a large, dynamic company utlizing both physical and people skills while bypassing the need for traditional matriculation or the associated expenses, offering both in-house training and a career path to full associate interfacing with management through well-defined processes, while providing the autonomy of self-provided healthcare. Often features exciting, peformance-driven culture where contributions are recognized down to the keystroke level, with outcome metrics tied to the capabilities of standard biological organisms.

Doomsday scenario

...The grounds for any social change will come when the last financial bubble is popped… but the ruling class has already well anticipated that eventuality on every single front, starting with the judiciary. Outright martial law combined with an Orwellian superstructure will blanket any and all social and political movements that might emerge even spontaneously.



Big Oil Completely Innocent

[aka fecklessness personified -- ed.]

...Far better to bluster to the press, save face with the public, and wait for the FTC to issue a "Get Out of Hell For Free" report that obviates the need for any such potentially threatening investigation. Now that Big Oil has been cleared for twenty years of rape, sodomy, plunder, conversion, obstruction, obfuscation, fraud, extortion, robbery, and the Death of the American Dream, I'm sure everyone on Capitol Hill can go right back to the useless, spineless, soulless bureaucratic dickering...


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Joe Bageant's letters

The latest, in response to his essay Ghosts of Tim Leary and Hunter Thompson, is a gem:

You could actually see the connection to everything, and you could sense the divinity, the connection, the intelligence and the beauty of it all. The pattern in an Oriental rug was like a roadmap to a mental place that actually existed. Like a Bible that had no need of words.

That seems to be what is missing in the frantic and futile efforts of today's Bible thumpers to experience God through the words of their concordias and scriptures. Sad, really. Spirit seems sort of like sex to me. You can read about an orgasm, but unless you have one, you just don't get it.


Related: The Hippies Were Right! by Mark Morford.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

We're number one!

In violence. We love it. We celebrate the moviemakers who give us a good jolt. We idolize the biggest, the baddest.

The only time we have ever reflected soberly on violence was on September 11, 2001. But we quickly patched back into the matrix. Our culture, TV, told us it was time to get righteously violent again. So we cheered as we bombed a poor, war-torn country, laughed about running out of good targets, and never once thought about the fact that the "Hulk will smash" routine was unnecessary. Evidence was supposedly forthcoming about who did Sept. 11, and that evidence would have been enough for even the Taliban to hand over Osama.

(Dude, I'm comin down. Gimme a hit.)

While we were craving another dose of the ol' ultra-violence, our American handlers, er, cultural arbiters spun the Osama bin talkin to Hussein/Hitler story. Yeehaw. Love it. Go git 'em. So we slammed Iraq.

And those are just the domestic consumption narratives. The ones that have many of us turning off the damned program in favor of the Internet, or dropping out altogether. There are many more areas, of course, where the Military Industrial Complex plays its market-expanding games, as the Frida Berrigan piece "America -- the world's arms pusher" makes clear. Her article is also the origin of the drug riff in this post, albeit in a, uh, altered fashion.

Maybe the only way to break through this paralysis of analysis would be to stop talking about weapons sales as a trade and the export of precision-guided missiles as if they were so many widgets. Maybe we need to start thinking about them in another language entirely — the language of drugs.

After all, what does a drug dealer do? He creates a need and then fills it. He encourages an appetite or (even more lucratively) an addiction and then feeds it.

Arms dealers do the same thing. They suggest to foreign officials that their military just might need a slight upgrade. After all, they'll point out, haven't you noticed that your neighbor just upgraded in jets, submarines and tanks? And didn't you guys fight a war a few years back? Doesn't that make you feel insecure? And why feel insecure for another moment when, for just a few billion bucks, we'll get you suited up with the latest model military, even better than what we sold them — or you the last time around.

And that's why I can't say it often enough:

Screw the United States of America (corporate/media edition). It has one goal, everything else spins off that. The goal: let's you and him fight. That's it. You need weapons? We'll sell 'em to ya. Is your fighting killing and maiming innocents and scaring the folks back home? We'll sell 'em security products. Can't reach your enemy? How 'bout some planes? Need fuel? I'll go ahead and supply it, since ya'll are so busy. Your land? The survivors can still live on it, long as you sign the resources over to us. No? Hey, those SOBs across the river just insulted your God/women/government/lifestyle/accomplishments and they are the only things that allowed you to survive that last lil fire fight. Just happen to have some assault rifles, cheap, that is, if you have the balls to use 'em. Made in Vietnam. Besides, you can't lose with God on your side. Think of the glory.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Giving journalism a good name

Greg Palast: When I say the 2008 race has already been stolen, about a million and a half voter registrations have been turned down. Even though there have been massive voter registration drives among Hispanics and African Americans, as the churches fill up the bucket, there’s a hole in the bucket where the registrations are being dumped.

It used to be that you signed your name -- bang, you got through, you’re registered. Not anymore. About 40% of the registrations are being rejected on the grounds that they don’t match citizenship files. Well, you know what? It ain’t the Soviet Union. We don’t have citizenship files in the United States. They don’t exist. They can’t exist under the law, which is the U.S. Constitution.

So how do you verify voters? Well, you don’t. About the only thing that could happen is if you require a passport -- and who has passports?

BuzzFlash: This is not conjecture on your part. You're very methodical.

Greg Palast: We've got the documents. We ain’t guessing. When I say they had caging lists targeting innocent black soldiers, I have the lists. I have the soldiers’ names. We spoke to their families. In fact, interestingly, "60 Minutes" came into our office and said, “My God, to prove what these caging lists are, you’re going to have to make hundreds of calls and spend hundreds of hours going through this stuff.” And we said, “Yeah, it’s reporting. Try it. It won’t hurt you.”


Damned refreshing. We need more of this.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

By Bobby @ SkullBolt

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Vote for Green Teams

Here's a chance to support someone who is giving of herself to make a difference. Ginger Criswell is a friend, a mother of two, and a community leader. She heads an environmental committee at my childrens’ school and has started an environmental club for interested students – the Green Team.

The Sundance Channel is sponsoring an environmental-themed Big Idea contest. Ginger’s idea is that the youngsters among us need to learn about caring for the environment and using sustainable practices early. And the sooner they get involved, in elementary-level programs such as Green Teams for example, the more empowered they will be to make a difference when they become adults.

Ginger submitted an entry in the required video format, and it made the preliminary cut. Video-wise, Ginger is a bit of a ringer, as she and her husband George own a video production company, Gwinnett Video Production Center. The "Green Teams" entry is bouncy and fun, reflecting the youthful energy inherent in the program.

You can view and vote for it at the Sundance Channel site. It's the third one down in the first column, the picture of a girl holding a large bag of plastic bottles.

Here ya go, this one. Vote early and often:

Monday, May 14, 2007

Conversations in the workplace

"How often do you have a conference call at work that veers into a conversation on spirituality? It was like we took 30 minutes out and went to an Ashram or something."

"Cool. That's where I go at lunch. What do you think Grateful Dead Europe '72 is?"


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hey, hey, my, my

Rock and roll will never die

Not if the Heartless Bastards have anything to say about it.

And they do.

Give them a listen.

Friday, May 04, 2007

And conspiracy theorists get a bad name

WASHINGTON, May 2–And you thought he was still “the decider.”
President Bush coined a new nickname for himself — ‘’the commander guy” — on Wednesday, as he criticized Congressional Democrats in a speech to the annual gathering of the Associated General Contractors of America, a construction industry trade group.
The man who last year proclaimed “I’m the decider,’’ in response to a question about whether he would fire Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary, came up with this latest moniker in explaining why he vetoed an Iraq war spending bill that dictated a timeline for troops to withdraw from Iraq.
“The question is, ‘Who ought to make that decision, the Congress or the commanders?,’’ Mr. Bush said. “As you know, my position is clear – I’m the commander guy.”


Comment: Hahahahahahahah... bahhahhahahha... phew ...haaaaaha ha ha, aahaa, ha.... me up, oh jeezus, we are so fucked

By the way, JFK was assassinated by the same criminal organization that gave the dumbass quoted above billions worth of weapons to play commanderator with.

E. Howard Hunt has confessed to the CIA plot.

The same criminals, of course, had nothing to do with the new Pearl Harbor.