Monday, March 31, 2003

LINKS FOR TUESDAY

Oscar winner targets Bush and bin Laden

The film will look at the alleged 'murky relationship' between Bush senior, controversial defence investment firm the Carlyle Group, and the bin Laden family. According to Moore, the former President had a business relationship with bin Laden's father, Mohammed, who left $300 million to his son.

US arms trader to run Iraq

Garner's business background is causing serious concerns at the United Nations and among aid agencies, who are already opposed to US administration of Iraq if it comes outside UN authority, and who say appointment of an American linked to the arms trade is the 'worst case scenario' for running the country after the war.

The battle between Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon

Rumsfeld’s personal contempt for many of the senior generals and admirals who were promoted to top jobs during the Clinton Administration is widely known. He was especially critical of the Army, with its insistence on maintaining costly mechanized divisions. In his off-the-cuff memoranda, or “snowflakes,” as they’re called in the Pentagon, he chafed about generals having “the slows”—a reference to Lincoln’s characterization of General George McClellan. “In those conditions—an atmosphere of derision and challenge—the senior officers do not offer their best advice,” a high-ranking general who served for more than a year under Rumsfeld said. One witness to a meeting recalled Rumsfeld confronting General Eric Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff, in front of many junior officers. “He was looking at the Chief and waving his hand,” the witness said, “saying, ‘Are you getting this yet? Are you getting this yet?’”

Gradually, Rumsfeld succeeded in replacing those officers in senior Joint Staff positions who challenged his view. “All the Joint Staff people now are handpicked, and churn out products to make the Secretary of Defense happy,” the planner said. “They don’t make military judgments—they just respond to his snowflakes.”


And:

There were reports last week that Iraqi exiles, including fervent Shiites, were crossing into Iraq by car and bus from Jordan and Syria to get into the fight on the side of the Iraqi government. Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. Middle East operative, told me in a telephone call from Jordan, “Everybody wants to fight. The whole nation of Iraq is fighting to defend Iraq. Not Saddam. They’ve been given the high sign, and we are courting disaster. If we take fifty or sixty casualties a day and they die by the thousands, they’re still winning. It’s a jihad, and it’s a good thing to die. This is no longer a secular war.” There were press reports of mujahideen arriving from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Algeria for “martyrdom operations.”

The Bush Administration is starting to sound more and more like it has adopted the weird, see-no-evil, individually opportunistic culture that sunk Enron. If that's the case, the ship of state is rudderless, and could end up smashed on the rocks, in the wake of the capsized energy trading company. This Seymour Hersh essay for the New Yorker is somewhat long, but it's quite good, if not disturbing. I urge you to read it.

Links courtesy of J. Orlin Grabbe.

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Sunday, March 30, 2003

Bush's Peril: Shifting Sand and Fickle Opinion

"Saddam won't win," said Richard C. Holbrooke, the former United States representative at the United Nations. "Unlike L.B.J. in Vietnam, Bush won't quit. He's a different kind of Texan. He'll escalate and keep escalating. In the end his military strategy will probably succeed in destroying Saddam.

"But it may result in a Muslim jihad against us and our friends. Achieving our narrow objective of regime change may take so long and trigger so many consequences that it's no victory at all. Our ultimate goal, which is promoting stability in the Middle East, may well prove elusive."


Well, that's what I've been saying...

Click here.

Link courtesy of Talking Points Memo via Eschaton.

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WITNESS

I watched some big chunks of Witness last night on Bravo. I have seen the film several times and I really think that it is one of the best movies of the last two decades. I also think that it is one of the more ideological films to achieve box office success in recent history. I really need to do a textual analysis of pacifist themes in the film here on Real Art sometime soon, but not today.

Instead, I now post a really moving bit of the screenplay (that I ended up transcribing myself because I could only find rough drafts online). To get the sense of the moment, you need to know that Harrison Ford plays a Philiadelphia cop, John Book, that has to hide out in Amish country from rogue cops who want to kill him. An eight year old Amish boy, Samuel, the title character who the rogues also want to kill because he can identify a killer cop, has discovered Book's gun and plays with it. Book worriedly takes the gun away, unloads it and hands it back to the boy to examine. Samuel's mother, Rachel, played by Kelly McGillis, walks in and insists that Book respect their ways. Book then gives her the gun for safekeeping. The film then cuts to the next scene:

(Book's unloaded .357 and bullets lay on the kitchen table in the foreground. Behind, sitting at the table, are Samuel and his grandfather, Eli.)

Eli--This gun of the hand is for the taking of human life. We believe it is wrong to take life. That is only for God.

(Cut to a close up of the two with Samuel's face dominant)

Many times wars have come. And people have said to us, "You must fight. You must kill. It is the only way to preserve the good." But, Samuel, there is never only one way. Remember that. (pause) Would you kill another man?

Samuel--I would only kill a bad man.

Eli--Only the bad man, I see...and you know these bad men by sight? You are able to look into their hearts and see this badness?

Samuel--I can see what they do. I have seen it.

Eli--And having seen, you become one of them. Don't you understand?

(Cut to a close up of the gun and bullets)

What you take into your hands,

(Cut to a close up of the two with Eli's face dominant)

you take into your heart. "Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord. And touch not the unclean thing." (pause) Go and finish your chores now.

Saumel--Yes, Grandfather.

(Samuel exits. Close up on Eli with a very concerned look on his face)


The verse is from 2 Corinthians 6:17. Why the hell do so many American Christians seem to be reading a different Bible from the one I've read? I think the Amish are on to something...

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Upbeat Tone Ended With War
Officials' Forecasts Are Questioned


"A senior administration official who briefed reporters Monday on condition of anonymity said Rumsfeld "has right along said that he thought that fighting was likely to last weeks, not months." Rumsfeld told troops last month that "it could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." Rumsfeld also contradicted the Army chief of staff, who told the Senate that "several hundred thousand" troops would be needed to occupy Iraq. "Far off the mark," Rumsfeld said.

Some officials' predictions may yet be realized, even if early signs have not been encouraging. For example, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz said in a speech earlier this month that "the Iraqi people understand what this crisis is about. Like the people of France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberator." Wolfowitz said yesterday that "we probably did underestimate the willingness of this regime to commit war crimes," but he said other forecasts were on course."


This from a guy who has whined for months about how Saddam Hussein is so evil that "he gassed his own people." (Of course, Noam Chomsky has pointed out how the Kurds are Saddam's own people in the way that the Cherokee were Andrew Jackson's own people, while others have pointed out that the gassing occurred when Iraq was an ally during the Reagan administration.)

Click here.

Link culled from Eschaton.

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MICHAEL MOORE FIRES BACK

"That is where the country is at. It's liberal, it's for peace and it is only tacitly in support of its leader because that is what you are supposed to do when you are at war and you want your kids to come back from Iraq alive."

Click here.

Thanks to my buddy, Kevin, for the link.

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Saturday, March 29, 2003

Critics lasso and hogtie Broadway's `Urban Cowboy' musical

"It's possible to be bland and vulgar at the same time," wrote New York Times critic Ben Brantley, adding that Urban Cowboy "makes you long for the quiet good taste of shows like The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."

So...how many years has it been that Broadway totally sucks now? Ten? Twenty? I forget...

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Friday, March 28, 2003

MORE ON THE CONSERVATIVE MEDIA

Consultants Tell Radio, TV Clients That Protest Coverage Drives Off Viewers

"Get the following production pieces in the studio NOW: . . . Patriotic music that makes you cry, salute, get cold chills! Go for the emotion," advised McVay Media, a Cleveland-based consultant, in a "War Manual" memo to its station clients. ". . . Air the National Anthem at a specified time each day as long as the USA is at war."

Yet another bit of the media that is now willing to abandon the facade of "objectivity." Click here.

Thanks, again, to my good friend, Matt, for the link.

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MANUFACTURING CONSENT

The other day, I was talking to my mother over the phone about how the US corporate news media (which is what most Americans turn to for their news) ignore and distort the truth, and often simply lie in support of the corporate, military, and government dominated establishment. I did a pretty bad job of getting my point across. The whole conversation made me think that I need to address in blog form Noam Chomsky and Edward Hermann's propaganda model of how the US news media actually function. (For an excerpt from their book that goes into much more detail, but is kind of dry and tedious, click here.)

The Propaganda Model

The first and most important point to make about the propaganda model (PM) is that it is an analysis of the business of the news. Chomsky and Hermann's PM is often dismissed by establishment critics as a conspiracy theory; it is often portrayed as a crazy, impossible "expose" of some sort of secret, intentional, individually directed cabal against the people of America. As Chomsky has pointed out, such dismissals serve to discourage "institutional analysis," but never actually address the arguments head on. In constructing the PM, Chomsky and Hermann analyzed thousands of US news media stories, how they are gathered, how they portray the facts, what is emphasized, frequency of story occurrence, news media career issues, and news media economic issues. They arrive at some startling conclusions that are supported by reams of credible evidence. One of the most startling conclusions, to me, is that most of the individuals involved in the news business seem to have no idea that the industry is structured in such a way that it, ultimately, serves as a propaganda force that strongly supports the corporate, government, and military establishment. (This is especially startling considering the conventional wisdom that states that the media is totally liberal; it is clearly conservative on the most important issues.)

In discussing the media's methods of business and newsgathering practices, Chomsky and Hermann determine that the truth is essentially siphoned through five "filters" before it is distilled into the consumer product known as "news." Sometimes, the truth passes through these filters almost unchanged. Much of the time, however, this "news" reflects the views and assumptions of the powerful interests that control America. Even though the news industry believes that it bends over backwards to be "objective," it is usually, in fact, quite subjective--I would even add that there can be no such thing as "objectivity" in the news and that the industry should just give up the fa├žade. (Fox is trying really hard to do this already; it is pretty clear to almost anyone with a brain that Fox is not "fair and balanced.")

The rub here is that the news business sets the boundaries of national debate about and understanding of extremely important issues: the PM filters make it such that numerous, important points of view and facts never even make it into the debate. In other words, whether by conscious intention or by individual businesses collectively, but unknowingly, pursuing their perceived best interests, the American "marketplace of ideas" is rigged in favor of the wealthy elites that run the country. This severely undermines any concept of American democracy that was taught to us in school--most people do not realize this, do not want it to be true and, therefore, are quite resistant to even considering its possibility.

But Chomsky and Hermann prove it beyond a doubt in their book, Manufacturing Consent.

The Five Filters

SIZE AND OWNERSHIP is the first filter. In short, the media are not owned by regular people; no normal person could even hope to ever compete in a field that is already totally monopolized by a few vastly huge corporations. This creates an unrelenting downward pressure on newsgathering organizations to reflect their masters' views in reporting. These reflected views in the news also strengthen such corporate powers by providing "popular" leverage in Congress to get bills passed that further their ends.


ADVERTISING is what pays the bills and makes the news business profitable. Advertising also skews the news while it skews the fictional concept of consumer choice of news sources. In other words, the main incentive to produce news products is not to dutifully inform the people; rather, it is to attract audiences that are desired by advertisers. This means that news products are tailored to seduce news customers into buying what advertisers are selling. News stories that show a business, industry, or product in an unfavorable light are often relegated to the trashcan (or, at least, page 13A in the bottom left corner...) if they are ever even written: reporters often self-censor so as not to offend advertisers.

SOURCES become problematic for news organizations when viewed through the PM. As the news business increasingly becomes concerned with the bottom line, old style, hit-the-streets reporting becomes increasingly anachronistic. That is, reporters cost money: for years now, the mass media has been employing fewer reporters and keeping fewer bureaus in different cities. At the same time, due to the rise of cable and the Internet, there are increasingly more news outlets, and, therefore, the need for news products has also increased. The media have heavily turned to relying on corporate and government spokespersons to fill the gap. It's a good deal from a business point of view. Government and corporate sources are always in the same place, always have something to say, and, because of their relative importance to the country, always look and sound newsworthy. Obviously, these spokesmen have their own agendas, and too much reliance on them distorts the news in their favor. That's what's happening right now.

FLAK AND THE ENFORCERS refers to organized negative responses to news products. The way this works is such that any reporting that is perceived as unflattering to the views or aims of these "flak machines" is attacked so endlessly that the news business loses money. A worst-case scenario, in these terms, is a boycott of news advertisers--advertising is the entire reason for the news business's existence. Of course, both liberal and conservative groups create flak (but I would say that the most powerful "flak machines" are conservative; they've got the money), but the point is that the news business is highly vulnerable to this kind of pressure and they certainly never admit it to their consumers.

ANTI-COMMUNISM AS A CONTROL MECHANISM is the fifth filter. Although, since the dismantling of the Soviet Union, this concept is somewhat obsolete (but charges of "Socialist!" still freak out reporters, editors, and producers), the basic concept of "national religion," as Chomsky and Hermann call it, still heavily influences the creation of news products. That is, there are some very basic assumptions that "everybody knows are true" to which journalists must be subservient. One assumption is "free trade." Almost all corporate journalists seem to believe that "free trade" on corporate terms is totally the way to go--anybody challenging this is a total loon, treated like the Catholic Church treated Galileo for daring to say that the Earth orbits the Sun. Another assumption that is now a "national religion" is anti-terrorism-by-force. Again, if the media even cover dissenting views at all, anybody that opposes "war on terrorism" is simply crazy, or extremely naive, if not downright traitorous.

A Closing Thought

The most interesting thing about the PM is that it is, for the most part, self-imposed by individuals working in the news industry. That is, there is really no actual "censorship" as understood in the traditional way--the business doesn't force reporters to obey. Instead, the business hires and advances only those individuals that already buy into the filtering process (although, I'm sure, that's not how most reporters see it). In other words, you don't work in the news unless you already buy the bullshit. That's probably why so many journalists think that Manufacturing Consent is a bunch of crazy rubbish (even though they never take time to actually sit down and read the damned thing), and that Chomsky and Hermann are lunatics. The beauty of the PM is that those suffering the censorship have no idea that it's happening. Neither do their readers and viewers.

The net effect of the PM is that news products overwhelmingly favor pro-military, pro-government, and pro-corporate views and goals without seeming that way to most Americans. This, as well as some other problems such as campaign finance, has destroyed democracy in the United States. Sadly, not many people seem to want to know this.

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QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES

Woman Kidnapped by a Police Officer During a Routine Traffic Stop

At the time of the abduction, Reza worked for an elite unit of the Internal Affairs Division that conducted undercover operations to weed out bad cops.

Silly me. I always thought that internal affairs cops were supposed to be the good guys...

Click here for bad Ray Liotta movie

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Thursday, March 27, 2003

THE MOTHER OF ALL BOMBS

My friend, Alan, observed about my MARS COMES IN MARCH post below, that the MOAB was a one time thing only. That is, the military only built one of them and used it as a scare tactic. As Alan said, "Evil dictators watch CNN too, so I believe the media were led to believe that MOABs would be raining down on Iraq."

I bought it, too. Apparently, this big weird bomb, the MOAB, will not be used in Iraq. That's good.

George Smith of the Village Voice meditates further about the MOAB.

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GO FRANCE!

Go France!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2003

OSCAR ROMERO: SAINT?

"There is some opposition in the Vatican by people who feel that to canonize Romero is to canonize a political cause," said Guillermo Gomez, investigator for the canonization office of the archdiocese.

Click here.

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QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES

Trooper sent to prison for drug rip-off

Davis still faces charges of solicitation of capital murder for allegedly trying to have two witnesses against him killed. He will return to court today to face those charges.

Ordinarily, Texas State Troopers are the guys I prefer to pull me over if I have to get a ticket. They're well trained, well educated, professional, and courteous. I'm glad I've never had to deal with this guy...

Racial profiling reports decried

And Harris County Constable Victor Trevino said the reports from his officers are even less helpful. Trevino discovered recently that, rather than identifying Hispanic motorists separately, his deputies often identified them as white.

So it's not just the Houston Police Department; other local representatives of Harris County's law enforcement community are being fishy about racial profiling, too.

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MORE MICHAEL MOORE

Of course, the corporate apologists were annoyed.

Read this Time essay. It may take a moment to load.

I read this writer guy's bio and I found out a few things. James Poniewozik started his career in the publishing industry. From there he moved on to Salon, which is heavily entrenched in the corporate establishment, as a media critic for a couple of years (it's always amusing when members of the media criticize the media). After Salon, he hit the big time. Literally. In 1999, he landed a post at Time Magazine as a television and media writer and has now been there for nearly four years. I hope everybody realizes that Time's parent company, Time Warner Turner AOL, is one of the five or six corporations that control virtually all mass media in the United States, and is one of the most powerful and influential organizations represented in Washington. In other words, Poniewozik has spent his entire career as a corporate media insider, and is now one of their top mouthpieces. Understand that to advance so high in the corporate media, one has to mirror the views of one's superiors: Poniewozik isn't just surviving treacherous corporate media career waters; he's thriving in them.

His essay on Michael Moore, I'm sure, makes his corporate masters proud.

It is interesting to note that he begins his essay with the typical lip service paid to freedom of speech. This is totally in keeping with the dominant media script that basically mouths a few meaningless platitudes about concepts such as freedom and liberty before ripping into those concepts. Poniewozik plays by the rules.

He then goes on to show that he either doesn't understand what Michael Moore has been saying for nearly fifteen years, or that he's just trying to obfuscate Moore's message. Sometimes, it's hard to tell if guys like Poniewozik believe their own bullshit. The truth is that Moore isn't trying to simply end a war. Moore (among many other goals) is trying to end the conditions that make war likely. That is, Moore opposes the corporate usurpation of our great republic--corporate control of the government, and therefore, the military, makes future war making all but inevitable: the ability to impose by force a stable business climate on the world makes the temptation to fight when confronted with difficulty almost irresistible to the wealthy elitists that run the country. Of course, Poniewozik would have addressed this point of view in his essay if he was actually a journalist, instead of a Waylon Smithers-like corporate toady.

The truth is that Michael Moore, with only a very brief speech at a key place and time, has spawned more discussion in the mainstream media about the movement that he represents than all of his documentaries and writings put together. Moore has also managed to frame these issues in ways that the O'Reillys of the mass media world would never allow on their shows in a billion years. I heard the tail end of a CNN Headline News report on Moore's speech and the one comment that resonated was an anchor saying something like, "It's too bad we didn't get to hear from the other side." What a total laugh. The mass media constantly, always, all the time, pounds away at a pro-consumerism, pro-materialism, pro-corporate, pro-free trade, pro-war message from which there is no escape. Moore's speech was a drop among a veritable monsoon and the corporate wonks are crying "foul." Buch of baby losers.

Poniewozik and his ilk want Moore to be nicer because they know that nice guys finish last. The conservative movement didn't get where they are now being led by soft-spoken pussies like the milk toast Democratic governor of California, Gray Davis, or wussy-boy Senate Minority Leader, Tom Daschle, or the snotty, pissy, founder of Ms. Magazine, Gloria Steinam. No, the conservatives came into power led by enormous buttholes like Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and Tom DeLay--bullies, like super-bitch Ann Coulter, keep up a full-court press.

General George S. Patton once said, "Give me an army of West Point grads and I win a battle; give me a handful of Texas Aggies and I'll win a war."

Give the progressive movement a bunch of good for nothing, Democratic, careerist politicians and we may get a bill passed. Give the progressive movement a handful of Michael Moores and we'll change the whole damned country.

Up yours, Poniewozik.

Thanks to my old friend, Matt, for emailing me the article.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Allies Risk 3000 Casualties in Baghdad - Ex-General

McCaffrey said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had misjudged the nature of the conflict. Asked if Rumsfeld made a mistake by not sending more troops to start the offensive, McCaffrey replied: "Yes, sure. I think everybody told him that."

Yet more signs of troubled times to come...

Link culled from Eschaton.

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COUNTERPUNCH BRINGS YET MORE DISTURBING NEWS ABOUT THE WAR

James Bamford further demolished the rationales for the attack on Iraq. “There is a predominant belief in the intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq will cause more terrorism than it will prevent. There is also a tremendous amount of embarrassment by intelligence professionals that there have been so many lies out of the administration -- by the president, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell -- over Iraq."

Plus!

A bit on the West Bank!

Silly Rummy!

The Dixie Chicks!

Click here.

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USA Can Fabricate "Finding" of Mass Destruction Weapons in Iraq

"The information war" conducted by Washington against Iraq "is no less intensive than the military operations themselves", he stated.

I'm sure that when push comes to shove, there's not really much of a difference between the Bush Junta and an LAPD anti-gang unit. And who knows more about propaganda than Pravda?

Once again, thanks to J. Orlin Grabbe.

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Monday, March 24, 2003

IRAQ VERSUS THE USA: DAVID AND GOLIATH?

"At the forefront of the invasion, U.S. forces are conducting what their officers call "movement to contact" operations, charging northward toward Baghdad until they hit an enemy unit that fights. Unlike the campaign to oust the Iraqi military from Kuwait in 1991, however, Iraqi forces in this war have not been subjected to weeks of B-52 bombing raids in advance of the ground invasion. The reason is that the entire U.S. strategy is built around the premise that the senior Iraqi leadership, not the military, is the enemy."

The really, really, big, huge problem that I see here is that, in a war, you fight a military, not its leaders. The US won in 1991 by employing a clear, simple, systematic strategy, executed with overwhelming force. This time, as this Washington Post analysis states, the assault force is using only one third of the ground troops that were used then, and war planners are taking a lot of new risks--the most forward US forces are enabled by a mostly unguarded supply line; isn't this how the Germans ended up losing in Russia during WW II?. The fact is, the best way to win a war and to keep casualties at a minimum is to make sure that nothing goes wrong and to have several backup plans just in case something does: make sure you cannot lose. That's what succeeded in 1991. That's not what the US is doing now.

Link courtesy of J. Orlin Grabbe.

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Sunday, March 23, 2003

MICHAEL MOORE

Lifted off of Eschaton comments:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Politics grabbed center stage at the Academy Awards on Sunday as the winner for best documentary, director Michael Moore, charged President Bush with waging a "fictitious war." Wagging his finger from the stage as he was both applauded and booed by the assembled celebrities, Moore said, "We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you." Moore won for "Bowling for Columbine," a provocative film on the roots of gun violence in America, whose title refers to the Colorado high school where two students massacred 13 people before killing themselves in 1999. Moore, who received a standing ovation from the assembled celebrities, invited the other nominees for best documentary film to join him onstage in solidarity against the war against Iraq. "We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in a time where we have fictitious election results, that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons," Moore said.

Here is a transcript of the speech also lifted from Eschaton comments, but originally from Smirking Chimp:

Whoa. On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan from Canada, I'd like to thank the Academy for this. I have invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to ? they're here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much.

My senior year in high school, I was the class president. Our class would assemble in the auditorium once a month or so to discuss senior business such as the class picture, fundraising for the prom, senior breakfast, and other odds and ends. Usually, during the last five minutes or so of the class meetings, the senior principal would offer me the microphone to discuss any important class officer business that needed to be addressed. Generally, it was a rather dry affair: yadda this, yadda that (although the class meeting where we got to decide the class song was kind of fun).

Many high schools have a "senior skip day" tradition--seniors skip school en masse, in defiance of school authority. School authorities have little luck preventing this, but some years they try harder than others. Kingwood High School was no different the spring that our appointed skip day was approaching. Rumors had been flying that the administration was going to take draconian disciplinary measures against all students who skipped. Some seniors were unsure of whether they should participate. When the senior principal handed me the microphone at the end of a senior meeting in April, I really didn't intend to say anything about it; it just popped into my head. "I've been hearing a lot of rumors about severe punishments for participating in senior skip day. I don't really know if they're true or not. But all I have to say is, see you at the beach!!!!!" The whole place erupted in a sustained applause, with whistling and shouting.

The senior principal and faculty members just kind of stared with dumbfounded looks on their faces. It was really one of my most pleasing moments in high school.

Even though he got a few boos (and a reader on Eschaton comments said that he heard "that a BBC reporter said the media pool were doing the booing"), tonight, Michael Moore essentially said, "See you at the beach!!!!!" in front of a dumbfounded, pro-war, corporate-dominated establishment.

HA! In yer face!

God bless Michael Moore.

Thanks to my buddy, Kevin, for calling me up and telling me about the cool moment at the Oscars. (Even though I am an actor, I never watch the Oscars. But that's another story...)

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NOAM CHOMSKY RESPONDS TO THE START OF WAR

This is pretty much what I think, too (of course, I probably get a lot of my ideas from Chomsky without realizing it):

"Even before the Bush administration sharply escalated these fears in recent months, intelligence and international affairs specialists were informing anyone who wanted to listen that the policies Washington is pursuing are likely to lead to an increase in terror and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, for revenge or simply deterrence. There are two ways for Washington to respond to the threats engendered by its actions and startling proclamations. One way is to try to alleviate the threats by paying some attention to legitimate grievances, and by agreeing to become a civilized member of a world community, with some respect for world order and its institutions. The other way is to construct even more awesome engines of destruction and domination, so that any perceived challenge, however remote, can be crushed – provoking new and greater challenges. That way poses serious dangers to the people of the US and the world, and may, very possibly, lead to extinction of the species – not an idle speculation."

For more click here.

Thanks to ZNet for the link.

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Saturday, March 22, 2003

A NEW REASON TO HATE ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS

I just heard a couple of local pundit types on KPRC TV here in Houston talking about how the demonstrators drain police resources that should be protecting us all from terrorists (without mentioning, of course, how US military activity is actually making terrorism more likely). Right now, there's nothing to this effect posted on their website, but I'll keep checking...

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ISN'T HE SO CUTE?

"Do you think you could give me a mullet?"

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This is an email I sent to a buddy who asked why I think the Iraq war is evil.

A REAL ART SPECIAL (an exclusive for my good friend, Alan)
Why Bush's Iraq War is Evil


I will try to be brief.

My first assumption here is that the United States is a plutocracy rather than a democracy (or, if you prefer, it's a sham republic owned and operated by the forces of wealth). The plutocracy legitimizes itself by cloaking its actions with the American sacred words, "freedom" and "liberty." This lie has always existed in the history of our republic and, at times, there has been great tension between the democratic impulse and wealth's ability to "keep the rabble in line." Today, however, due to the vast power of corporations in general and the propaganda power of the corporate dominated news media, this tension is barely a nuisance to the plutocracy. I have written about this on my website in the essay called "THE CONTEXT FOR TRULY UNDERSTANDING THE USA IN 2003 PART II" (be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Anyway, the Iraq war follows this point of view. That is to say, the true aims of the war are cloaked in patriotic, pro-freedom language and rhetoric: "Iraq is a threat to our democracy," or "We will give the Iraqis freedom," or "This is to stop bin Laden, who hates our freedom," or "This will start a domino-effect of democracy throughout the region." In truth, and throughout history, American foreign policy has rarely been so benevolent.

The truth is that the American military usually serves business interests: when good things result from US military action, it's most often a secondary byproduct, or highly exaggerated for legitimizing purposes. This is the case in Iraq right now. The "evidence" coming out of the White House about both al-Quada links and WMD has been either so thin or, in at least a couple of cases, outright fabrications, that it has to be obvious that securing Iraq is about something else.

Clearly the war is about both controlling Iraqi oil and stabilizing the Middle East under the iron fist of a Pax Americana for business purposes (and perhaps a little bit of revenge for daddy, but I discount this as a major motivation) . I don't understand why the hawks don't simply admit this: if they do, then the argument comes down to the morality of war and whether to continue using fossil fuels--I think that this is a pretty good position for the hawks to argue from; after all, our economy is kaput without oil and that's a pretty huge, real, life-threatening deal (even though such an argument is not enough to persuade me, personally). Instead, for some reason (maybe to capitalize on 9/11, or simple political tradition), the hawks hide their true motivations and make themselves look all the more snakelike to the relative few that are able to see the Wizard behind the curtain. Our soldiers lives are threatened, Iraqi civilian lives are threatened for reasons that the United States population seems to be unaware of.

We are at war to support business. There may be some legitimacy to that, but, at this point, it doesn't matter: the war has been rammed down the throat of America (and Iraq) for the near-secret motivations of the plutocracy. Furthermore, given that the "democratic" war aims are simply a ruse to justify the killing, I have a strong suspicion that freedom will not ring in Iraq after the war. If I were a betting man, I would bet on some new, America-friendly dictator being installed--dictators do make the best trading partners if they, too, can "keep the rabble in line." Even further, the Kurds will lose again. Turkey sent 1,000 troops into northern Iraq yesterday so they could finish the job they started against the Kurds back home in the 1990s.

The war on Iraq is evil because it endangers numerous lives, both American and foreign, with combat and terrorist "blowback." The war is evil because there should have been an informed, national debate about it, and there was not. The war is evil because it serves the aims of a powerful American minority that has treasonously hijacked our republic. The war is evil because it is steeped in lies. The war is evil because it will kill thousands in order to replace an anti-American, human rights abusing dictator with what will be, in all probability if history is any indicator, a pro-American, human rights abusing dictator. Finally, the war is evil because it is being fought by regular people against regular people; they pay the price: the wealthy get rich.

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NEW YORK IS A UNION TOWN; HOUSTON, HOWEVER...

I am happy to note that artist solidarity in New York City recently resulted in a musician strike victory. New York has a strong tradition of labor unions and this sometimes results in economic justice. Contrast that with Houston:

"The last thing I really want to do is leave the Houston Symphony," said Ver Meulen, "but I can't remain in an orchestra where the board of directors is bent on turning it into a Triple-A farm club."

Texas is a "right to work" state. That actually means that Texas is a "screw the workers" state. Here in Houston, another musicians' strike is not going so well. Click here for economic injustice.

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Friday, March 21, 2003

ERIC ALTERMAN: CHICKEN HAWK

"I actually agree with this, by the way. For me, the antiwar movement such as it was, is over. We lost. It’s time to wish the best for our soldiers and the victims of this war focus on building a better future."

You'll have to scroll down a bit or use the "find on this page" function to get the quote in context; it was posted on March 19th. By his logic, the Vietnam war protesters should have kept their mouths shut. I knew when I first saw him on C-Span that he was one of those pissy, snotty, latte liberals. What Liberal Media? is still a great read, though.

Thanks again to Tom Tomorrow for the link.

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BUSH AND BLAIR: ENDLESS LOVE

This is really funny. Really, really funny. Click here.

Thanks to Tom Tommorow for the link.

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AMERICA'S FAVORITE STANDUP COMEDIAN

Ari Fleischer is onstage right now just a crackin' the jokes...check out NPR or CNN.

UPDATE: CNN and NPR are no longer running the War Def Comedy Jam hosted by Ari Fleischer, but C-Span continues the hilarity...

UPDATE 2: Okay, forget Ari. Check out Pacifica or KPFT for more conscience oriented coverage of America's rise to empire.

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THE OTHER SHOE DROPS

Some kind of massive bombardment is underway right now. Is it the long awaited "shock and awe?" Who the hell knows? NPR correspondents aren't sure and neither is this very recently posted Houston Chronicle article. Rumsfeld is going to spoon out some information to the heavily restricted war press in a few minutes...

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WHAT BUSH WOULD HAVE DONE
Even if Saddam Had Left Within the 48 Hour Deadline


I'm on a Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting email list and I get some cool reports from time to time. Here's one I just got. It may even be up on their website for all I know, but I thought it was interesting enough to just past the whole thing on Real Art:


FAIR-L
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism

MEDIA ADVISORY:
Will the War Begin With a Big Lie?
Iraq will be invaded or occupied regardless of "ultimatum," report says

March 19, 2003

George W. Bush's March 17 speech has been boiled down to one blunt
statement: "Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours.
Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a
time of our choosing."

Headlines the next morning focused on this message: "President Tells
Hussein to Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours or Face Invasion" (Washington Post);
"Bush Gives Ultimatum to Hussein: Leave in 48 Hours or Face War" (Ft.
Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel); "President Gives the Iraqi Dictator One Last
Deadline" (San Antonio Express-News).

One story, however, at the bottom of an inside page in the New York Times,
had a different message: "Allies Will Move In, Even if Saddam Hussein
Moves Out" was the headline over a page A16 story by Times military
correspondent Michael Gordon. "Even if Saddam Hussein leaves Iraq within
48 hours, as President Bush demanded, allied forces plan to move north
into Iraqi territory, American officials said today," the article began.

Gordon pointed to a little-noted line in Bush's speech: "It is not too
late for the Iraqi military to act with honor and protect your country by
permitting the peaceful entry of coalition forces to eliminate weapons of
mass destruction." While in the context of the speech, this seemed to
refer to what Bush hoped Iraqi commanders would do in the event that his
ultimatum was rejected, Gordon reports that this was actually a signal
that regardless of what Hussein chooses, the U.S. would still, in Gordon's
words, "enter Iraq to search for hidden weapons of mass destruction and
help stabilize the nation so that a new and more democratic regime could
take over."

Even if the Iraqi military were to overthrow Hussein, Gordon wrote, "a
military intervention seems very likely." He quoted Colin Powell's
statement on March 17 to the effect that "the only way for Iraq to avoid
an attack is for Mr. Hussein to leave the country and 'allow this matter
to be resolved through the peaceful entry of force.'"

In other words, there is nothing that Iraq can do to avoid invasion and
occupation; its only choice is whether or not to surrender. Why dress up
this straightforward policy with a claim that Saddam Hussein's refusal to
step down within a 48-hour deadline "will result in military conflict"?
Presumably because the White House knew that the media would find the
drama of the ultimatum irresistible, and would therefore frame the
upcoming war not as a choice that Washington was making, but as a final
test for Saddam Hussein.

Media have by and large failed to challenge this spin campaign, and
continue to frame the story as a "defiant" Saddam Hussein spurning the
last chance for peace. "Saddam Sneers Back: Hell No, I Won't Go" was the
New York Daily News' front-page headline on March 19. The cable news
channel MSNBC actually had a "DEADLINE" clock in the lower-right hand
corner of its screen at all times, ticking away the seconds until the
meaningless deadline passes.

Even the Times itself did not seem to have grasped its own
correspondent's report: "War Imminent as Hussein Rejects Ultimatum" was
the paper's lead headline (3/19/03), with an accompanying story beginning,
"The White House said today that Saddam Hussein was making his 'final
mistake' by rejecting an ultimatum ordering him to leave Iraq or face
war."


Here is a link to the original New York Times article (you will have to register if you haven't already; if it's any consolation, I don't think I get any spam for having registered myself).

UPDATE: FAIR does, in fact, have the essay on their website. But, what the hell, I'll leave it here, too.

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Thursday, March 20, 2003

U.S. troops raid Afghan villages, searching for al-Qaida

"About 1,000 U.S. troops and attack helicopters swept into villages in southern Afghanistan today in a new military operation to flush out remaining al-Qaida terrorists and their allies, an Army spokesman said."

So...just how many more al-Qaida remnants are there, anyway? Click here.

Grumble, Soviet, grumble, mutter, Vietnam, grumble...

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Looming war with Iraq draws viewers to news channels

"'The people who are really fascinated by it have a place to go, which is the cable news networks,' said Andrew Tyndall, publisher of the Tyndall Report, a newsletter that tracks TV news coverage."

Last time, I spent the first three days of the bombing campaign glued to CNN. Not this time, no, thank you.

For news of current day news sheep, click here.

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QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES: A BLAST FROM MY PAST

Some of you may remember reading my post on why I hate cops back on January 12th. For a lark, I thought I'd dig up a local news report from the time the cops invaded my home, weapons drawn, last summer. There is no mention in the report of how every apartment in the complex where I live was illegally searched (remember, the search happened at least seven hours after the shooting, and could in no way be considered "hot pursuit"), but it did say this:

"Sheriff's deputies have set up a dragnet to find the other suspect."

"Dragnet?" Well, I guess so, if it was a dragnet in my bedroom...

For a news whitewash of cop misbehavior, click here.

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AGAINST ALL ODDS, US DIPLOMACY GETS WORSE

Listening devices found at EU offices

The French newspaper Le Figaro broke the story today, saying Belgian police identified the bugs as American. The report did not say why officials believe the devices are American, and that report could not be confirmed immediately.

Well, here's one good reason why they might suspect the US:

Earlier this month, London's Observer newspaper reported the United States was spying on other U.N. Security Council delegations. The Observer said a U.S. National Security Agency memo showed the United States was monitoring the phones and e-mail of U.N. delegates in New York.

For bad spy novel, click here.

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Scalia bans broadcasters from free-speech event

The ban on broadcast media, "begs disbelief and seems to be in conflict with the award itself," C-SPAN vice president and executive producer Terry Murphy wrote in a letter last week to the City Club. "How free is speech if there are limits to its distribution?"

Well, I'd say that free speech isn't really being defiled here: however, its first amendment sibling, freedom of the press, certainly is being flipped off. I guess this is one of those rights that can be curtailed during war...

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HMMMM....

Still no "shock and awe," as my friend, Alan, generously and quickly pointed out. Earlier today, some NPR analysts were speculating that the military is trying to get Saddam to simply quit in fear and that the massive bombing campaign may not happen. This is, of course, good; thousands of lives may be saved as a result. But, as they say, we've only just begun to fight, and I fear that Saddam may try to make a real war of it this time: there is still the rot of death on the air...

However, I do pray for a quick end to the killing. I also pray that Bush comes through on rebuilding Iraq when it's all over--given that he forgot to include funding for the rebuilding of Afghanistan in his 2003 budget, I fear he may "forget" again.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2003

MARS COMES IN MARCH

Click here for mood.

And so it begins. After the "surgical strike" ends, some 3,000 pinpoint "guided" missles will rain fire and death down on millions of helpless Iraqi citizens in an opening salvo to "shock and awe." MOAB, the "mother of all bombs," will create explosions similar in scale to nuclear blasts. This taste of Hell will last a day. As the smoke and dust clears, the overwhelmingly powerful military of the United States, dressed in their sci-fi, high-tech, anti-chemical costumes of war will emerge spraying death and decay on helpless populations of innocent human beings: the stormtroopers of a new era will now claim their mantle of evil. Hospitals, water, and power facilities will be destroyed in order to "destroy the enemy's ability to make war." This will also destroy the enemy's ability to heal the sick, eat, and drink. Cholera, starvation, and a host of other ancient plagues will now be unleashed. By America. Thousands of refugees will die in their pathetic attempts to avoid the carnage and slaughter. Thousands more will die later, probably millions.

The death toll will easily multiply our WTC losses by at least a hundredfold.

Feel better, America?

Yeah? Just wait until our beloved troops, whom we all support, come home with a new Gulf War syndrome that the Pentagon, again, will ignore. Depleted uranium dust and exposure to toxic chemicals will, once again, sicken thousands of American soldiers who will have no idea that it is happening. These soldiers will, again, infect their families and live hellish lives as did their predecessors in the 1990s. And what happens to the minds of killers?

But it's okay because it's all for America, right?

I knew this was all inevitable, but I'm sick to my stomach right now...


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Tuesday, March 18, 2003

SCALIA LICKS HIS CHOPS

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Tuesday night that government has room to scale back individual rights during wartime without violating the Constitution.

Click here for outrage.

Thanks, once again, to Eschaton for the link.

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FBI PLANS TO ROUND UP THOUSANDS OF IRAQIS LIVING IN THE US

Remember the Japanese-American internment camps during WWII? Well, check this out:

Working from an initial list of some 50,000 Iraqi nationals living in the United States, the FBI has winnowed that number to about 11,000 who would be targeted for interviews in the event of a war, a senior FBI official said.

And there's also this little gem:

Although Bush administration officials do not emphasise it publicly, U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism experts are in broad agreement that a war in Iraq will dramatically increase the chances of terrorist attacks against U.S. targets.

I'll say this again: waging war on Islamic populations will cause more, not less, terrorism.

We ought to call it the "War to Cause More Terrorism."

Click here.

Link Courtesy of J. Orlin Grabbe.

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YOU HEARD IT FIRST ON REAL ART

Yesterday, Tom Tommorow posted a comparison between Bush's latest call to arms and the John Gill speech from the classic Star Trek episode "Patterns of Force:" it seems that somebody over at the house of Atrios on Eschaton comments independently came up with the joke, and Mr. Tomorrow thought it was so funny that he would post it, too. Well, readers of Real Art, if you've been paying close attention, you know that I made the joke first back in January after the SOTU address. That's why I've gotten five hits in the last twenty hours or so from both Google and Yahoo searches--it seems that people are trying hard to find this hard to find teleplay on the internet. So, as a service to wayward searchers, I now retro-link to my archived blog entry.

Enjoy.

What can I say? Tom Tomorrow's funny; I'm funny...

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Monday, March 17, 2003

SPRING BREAK ENDS

Alas!

So, I'll probably be slowing down the frequency of my posts for a while. But who knows? I managed to post four times today, including this one. I'm starting to really enjoy this blogging thing...

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NOTES ON LAST FRIDAY'S ANTI-WAR DEMONSTRATION IN HOUSTON

*On the way to the demonstration, we passed the Chinese Consulate building. Since I first noticed it, it has always looked like an old, crumbling, Stalin-era, relic of the cold war. (Yes, I know; Stalin was a Soviet from Georgia, not Chinese. That's just how it looked to me.) Now that the Chinese Communist Party is allowing capitalists to join, the consulate seems to be getting a much needed face-lift. The revolution just ain't what it used to be, huh?

*Shortly after we got to the protest at Mecom fountain in the museum district near Montrose, a woman I met told me that Houston has a local chapter of Not in Our Name.

*The demonstrators came from all walks of Houston life. There was the usual group of tatooed, pierced types. The largest group, however, consisted of aging baby boomers, some of whom brought their children. I heard one forty-something on his cell phone, presumably to his wife: "Did you get the kids? Good." Say what you want about the mostly fabricated generation gap between Boomers and Gen X-ers, at least they're out there doing something instead of sitting on their butts watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet. Boomers may still be self-righteous and arrogant, but they're motivated.

*I had a two sided sign. One side said, "Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 19:19," in order to appeal to the many Christian fundamentalists in Houston; the other side said simply, "MAKE LOVE NOT WAR." A group of Islamic women in head coverings seemed to contemplate standing in the open space next to me, but thought better of it. Later, a Christian minister in a clerical collar stood next to me for a moment, but then left. I wonder if my anti-war/pro-sex message made them uncomfortable...

*A lot of the action was in the form of rush hour traffic responses. Most drivers seemed supportive, honking and flashing peace signs. Bus and cab drivers were well represented. There were, of course, butthole hawks. One patriot called me an idiot as he drove by. One guy shouted, "Get a life!" I yelled back, "Get a wife? She's right beside me!" Another guy flipped us off. I said, "Hey, no man! Two fingers! The peace symbol is two fingers!

*All in all, my peace protest experience was really pleasant. I got to meet some like-minded people, feel like I was actually doing something constructive for a change, and live a 1960s fantasy I've had since childhood. If you have any inclination at all, you should go to a demonstration, too.

Thanks to my old friend, Matt, for, years ago, directing my attention to the above linked Atlantic article.

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ANNEX THE SUDETENLAND:
Reading Between the Lines of Bush's Latest Call to Arms


Just a few notes:

For their own safety, all foreign nationals, including journalists and inspectors, should leave Iraq immediately.

So that there are fewer witness to the death and destruction.

Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I have a message for them: If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you.

Of course, no one can really get out of the way of MOAB and "shock and awe."

As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the food and medicine you need.

No doubt something along the lines of the pointless food drops in Afghanistan that looked good on TV but didn't actually feed any relevant number of people at all.

We will tear down the apparatus of terror...

While building up our own...

...and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free.

Like Guatemala or Chile when were through with them.

In free Iraq there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms.

At least, none of these awful things that are run by people not working for us.

The tyrant will soon be gone.

And replaced by a new tyrant.

The day of your liberation is near.

But in this case "liberation" means "new kind of oppression."

More:

Yet the only way to reduce the harm and duration of war is to apply the full force and might of our military, and we are prepared to do so.

What? More war equals more peace? Does he think the American public will believe anything now?

If Saddam Hussein attempts to cling to power, he will remain a deadly foe until the end.

And that's why Bush desperately hopes that Hussein actually won't leave Iraq.

In desperation, he and terrorist groups might try to conduct terrorist operations against the American people and our friends. These attacks are not inevitable. They are, however, possible. And this very fact underscores the reason we cannot live under the threat of blackmail. The terrorist threat to America and the world will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is disarmed.

But everybody should just forget about the reports from the Department of State and the DoD that clearly state that waging war on Islamic populations will cause more, not less, terrorism, huh, George?

For the full swill experience, click here.

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MY OLD NEIGHBORHOOD REENACTS THE WW I PERSECUTION SCENE FROM EAST OF EDEN

But instead of persecuting a German shopkeeper, this time it's a French real estate agent.

Kingwood is among the most materialistic, superficial, deluded, elitist, drug-ridden, hateful, blind, fundamentalist, conservative places I have ever been. It is also the neighborhood where I grew up. In addition to recently breeding a thrill-seeking robbery gang of drill team girls, and whining so endlessly about its recent annexation by Houston that politicians in the Republican dominated state Legislature took pity and offered a slew of sympathy bills, Kingwood is now persecuting its French residents.

Kingwood sucks.

Kingwood desperately needs James Dean.

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Sunday, March 16, 2003

MORE ON AUSTIN'S BARTON SPRINGS

The Save Our Springs Alliance website relates even more disturbing news about the water quality at the Barton Springs Pool and a discovery that may have environmental impacts on a national scale:

This in fact has been the pattern of research into pollution from urban runoff: more extensive research quite often reveals pollution much worse than expected. And Barton Springs and Barton Creek are among the most heavily studied and most vulnerable watersheds in the world. Ultimately, and somewhat ironically, the Statesman’s greatest contribution to Austin, Barton Springs, and the nation may well be in helping draw attention to the fact that urbanization is an even greater threat to our nation’s waters.

Click here.

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ONE STATE TWO PLANETS

Austin: Barton Springs

When I lived in Austin in the early and mid 1990s, real estate developers were trying to build over the aquifer that fed Barton Springs, which is considered by Austinites to be a local treasure. Many believed that the developers' plans could very easily wreck the delicate ecological balance that allows the springs to exist: a local political movement of citizens quckly arose, gained power and seats on the city council, and did battle with pro-development political forces. (Alas, recent news indicates that the efforts of Austin's green alliance may have been for naught.) Democracy, or at least a reasonable facsimile, seems to exist in Austin.

Contrast that with:

Lobbyists lead pack of donors
Poured $4 million into Harris County legislators' campaigns


"It tells you that for many politicians and candidates, it is money over principle," said Craig McDonald of Texans for Public Justice, another campaign finance advocacy group.

Plutocracy prevails in Houston. That's where our president's daddy lives...

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Saturday, March 15, 2003

HE WHO HUNTS THE DRAGON BECOMES THE DRAGON

"Torture has never been a reliable means of extracting information...it is ultimately self-defeating as a means of control...and so one wonders why it is still practiced. The only possible reason must be...pleasure."

Captain Picard from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation


"Al Qaeda captives held at overseas CIA interrogation centers, which are completely off-limits to reporters, lawyers and outside agencies, are routinely "softened up"--that is, beaten--by US Army Special Forces before interrogation, as well as thrown against walls, hooded, deprived of sleep, bombarded with light and bound in painful positions with duct tape. "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job," one official said"

And it's a whole lot worse than that. The Nation reports on how America ratchets Harry Callahan's Dilemma (see my post on Thursday) up a few more notches. This is pretty disturbing. This is not America, at least not the one that I know. Click here.

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The evolution of punishment explained

Modern hunter-gatherer societies, which are assumed to be similar to those of early man, have a maximum size of 150-180 people. Without punishment, the computer simulations suggest that co-operation would have died out in groups of this size.

It is interesting to note that, in terms of this article, public schools are still operating at a pre-civilization level. But I already knew that.

Thanks, once again, to J. Orlin Grabbe.

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HYSTERICAL REDNECKS FORCE COUNTRY SINGER TO RETRACT ANTI-WAR REMARKS

Dixie Chicks Learn the Truth About Southern Hospitality

"There were a few radio stations (around the country) that immediately went out and banned them," said Michael Cruise, program director for KKBQ and KTHT (97.1 FM). "We didn't want to be hasty. We knew how the wind was going to blow, because you know how patriotic Texans and country music listeners are. We decided the fair thing to do was to put a Web poll up and ask our listeners, and whatever you guys decide, we'll abide by. "We ended the poll at 2:30 p.m. today. It was 72 percent in favor of dumping the Chicks from the playlist."

Of course, anybody reading Eschaton on Thursday already knows that KKBQ was tampering with the poll in order to get the results it wanted...

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SPOCK WITH A BEARD

"Mirror matter is not anti-matter, it is altogether weirder. It is somehow a "reflection" of normal matter, a sort of parallel series of particles required to restore the balance of the Universe."

I'm beginning to miss the Einsteinian universe. It seems like there's some new rub or take on either the nature of the universe or the nature of physics every six or seven months now. Okay, fine. Not anti-matter. Mirror matter it is, then.

HOLLYWOOD'S WORST SEQUEL YET: THE BLACKLIST

Godless homosexual communist actors and directors scare the crap out of Oscar TV executives.

"Meryl Streep, Sean Penn, Vanessa Redgrave, George Clooney, Dustin Hoffman and Spike Lee...Sarandon and Robbins are also among those on this year’s unofficial blacklist, along with Ed Norton and Dennis Hopper...Top of the loose-cannon list this year is the Bowling for Columbine director, Michael Moore, a favourite to win the documentary feature award."

For retro cold war fun that's happing again, click here.

Links nabbed from J. Orlin Grabbe.

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BLOOM COUNTY RETURNS?

It's kind of hard to tell if Breathed is actually going to be doing new strips; they may just be making old stuff available online. But then, alas, it is "morning in America" once again, so perhaps we will get to see new adventures of Opus and company. But it's gonna cost...

Thanks to retroCrush for the link.

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Friday, March 14, 2003

THE US PRESS SUCKS, SO LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT THE UK PRESS

From Saturday's world section of the Independent:

Top US military planner fears a 'likely' repeat of Somalia bloodbath.

"Colonel Turner outlined a worst-case scenario: 'Within hours of our attack, Saddam launches Scuds on Israel. Israel's government launches a full-scale attack on Iraq, creating a holy war. Saddam, threatened with his own survival, uses chemical and biological weapons and human shields. He torches his own oil fields, thousands of his own people are killed. Photos of US soldiers amid landscapes of Iraqi civilian bodies blanket the world press which aligns unanimously against the US.'"

They'll call the movie Apocalypse Now. Wait, that's already been used...

Secret US report scorns Bush policy, attacks Middle East policy

"The intelligence source who leaked the document concluded: 'This idea that you're going to transform the Middle East and fundamentally alter its trajectory is not credible.'"

Well, DUH!

US preparing to abandon UN and launch war within a week

"At the same time, Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said President George Bush would allow Britain to keep trying a bit longer, perhaps until Monday."

Yes, the United States now "allows" the UK to play its fun little UN game. We're too old for that stuff, though. The US is run by grownups...(punchline provided by Eschaton)

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QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES

Here is a cool list of police corruption links. Enjoy.

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DEATH TO THE CONSERVATIVE ENABLING DEMOCRATS!

Tom Tomorrow puts it so well that I'll just paste it on to Real Art:

"Short story: "partial birth abortion" is a canard, a wedge issue, a way for the anti-abortion crowd to inch closer to their objective through stealth rather than honest debate. It's the equivalent of marijuana legalization advocates who also happen to be really, really enthused about the many practical applications of hemp fiber in everyday life.

And they just won an important victory. The vote was 64-33, with 3 abstaining. Which means that it was the 16 Senate Democrats who voted "yes" who put this thing over the top.

For what it's worth, they were:

Bayh (D-IN)
Breaux (D-LA)
Byrd (D-WV)
Carper (D-DE)
Conrad (D-ND)
Daschle (D-SD)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Hollings (D-SC)
Johnson (D-SD)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Miller (D-GA)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)

Thanks, Democrats!"


Mr. Tomorrow then goes on to list Democratic Senators who voted for the war. Check it out. This should put to rest any moronic accusations that somehow Ralph Nader got us into this mess. Democrats and Republicans are destroying this country without any help at all.

ALSO, Mr. Tomorrow has a link to a blogger who clearly articulates some of the workings of the thirty year conservative rise to power by analyzing a little known Lewis Powell memo from 1971 and more (I'm still a bit dim on linking to blog entries--you may have to scroll down to the February 25th entry called "Some History of the Conservative Movement"). I'm happy to note, that Real Art has hit upon a very similar topic back on February 16th.

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STEAL THE SECRET PLANS

"On July 11, 2001...it was stated by the (US officials) that the United States planned to launch military strikes against Afghanistan in October of that year. The purpose of these strikes was to topple the Afghanistan government and the Taliban in order to replace it with a government 'more sensitive to the needs of American oil interests.'"

"On August 20, the Government of France, through the American Embassy in Paris and their Embassy in Washington, issued a more specific warning. This warning specified the exact date, time and places of the attacks."

"These investigations disclosed in late May of 2001 that an attack was to be made against certain specified targets in the American cities of Washington and New York. But it was apparent that the Mossad was not only fully aware of these attacks well in advance but actually, through their own agents inside these Arab groups, assisted in the planning and the eventual execution of the attacks."

"The terrorist attacks on American targets were fully known to many entities well in advance. The US President was fully informed as to the nature and exact time of these attacks."


These quotes are supposedly from some German intelligence document regarding the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This could be a fake; I'm hesitant to believe such a thing. But the document's line of thinking seems reasonable. I certainly wouldn't put it past King George II and his advisers. Anyway, read at your own risk.

Link courtesy of J. Orlin Grabbe.

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QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES

Undercover cops monitoring peace protesters, documents show

"In a two-page message he sent to Capt. Paul Chignell, Crenshaw described 'First Amendment activities' as a 'guise' used by some radical groups to 'conduct their contemptuous acts against corporate and government structures.'"

Back to San Francisco. Link taken from J. Orlin Grabbe.

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THE COOLEST TOYS EVER

If you don't enjoy this list of cool old toys aimed at baboomgenxers, you're a freak.

(You see, I made up the word "baboomgenxer." Bah boom JINX ur. It kind of combines "baby boomer" with "generation x-er" and makes just one huge pop culturally homogenous demographic...'cause, you see, what with decades of television series reruns and movie reruns, the establishment of the classic rock cannon, and the continual recycling of styles and fashions, everybody born from around 1950 to around 1988 has roughly the same pop cultural experiences...and...it's a very clever word...and...ah, just go look at the old toys...)

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DOONESBURY

Gary Trudeau is giving some mainstream exposure to a conservative economic idea that I wrote about on January 6th. Cool.

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Thursday, March 13, 2003

STILL MORE BS OUT OF TEXAS

Remember my post on Dick Cheney from Monday? No? Well scroll down to the post, check it out, and scroll back up. Now, here's the follow up: in addition to getting a sweetheart deal for post-war Iraq, Halliburton still has the vice president on the payroll! Of course, they all say that the arrangement is such that there could be no conflict of interest. So I guess that the sweetheart deal just ended up that way. Kind of like how Wendy Gramm just ended up on Enron's board of directors.

Link courtesy of Tom Tomorrow.

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HARRY CALLAHAN'S DILEMMA: Why the "War on Terrorism" Will Damn America's Soul

Dirty Harry was one of the first cultural artifacts in what would eventually be an enormous mass media backlash against the progressive gains of the 1960s. Harry Callahan is San Francisco's avenging stormtrooper, brutally violating civil rights while his audience can't help but cheer him on; in fact, to the manipulative credit of the makers of the film, and Clint Eastwood's charisma, it is quite difficult for film viewers to resist his fascist allure. By the film's end, Harry asks Scorpio if he feels lucky: the narrative is such that audiences almost beg the psychotic killer to reach for his gun. When he does and Harry blows him away, we are satisfied. Dirty Harry helped to give an emotionally powerful mythology to Nixon's "War on Crime" rhetoric--it is no accident, I think, that the film is set right smack dab in the middle of one of the USA's most liberal cities.

(To be fair, the film is, in fact, more sophisticated than I am saying, with some subtle nuances that play against Harry's violent contempt for civil rights--in fact, to this day, Eastwood denies that the film promotes fascism; he says it's "anti-authortarian." For the most part, however, the message that the film strongly pushes is clearly a mandate for cops to gleefully violate the Constitution while apprehending crooks.)

However, Dirty Harry's sequel, Magnum Force, throws a wild card into Callahan's ideology. Harry is confronted with the dark and distorted logical conclusion to the argument that he makes in the first film. A secret quartet of crack-shot rookie traffic cops conspiring with Harry's superior, Leiutenant Briggs (Hal Holbrook), acts as an anti-Mafia death squad, dramatically decreasing organized crime in San Francisco. Harry is appalled--these new guys go too far. Harry, of course, deals with the situation in typical form and, of course, his murderous ways are entirely satisfying on an emotional film-viewing level. This is, however, simply a deus ex machina, a plot device that resolves the movie's story but not its themes. Magnum Force asks an enormous moral question that inconspicuously goes unanswered.

This, then, is Harry Callahan's dilemma: at what point does the ruthless efficiency of violence and murder become unacceptable?

This is also America's dilemma. Terrorism (as defined by Bush, rather than being inclusive of state-sponsored terrorism, which actually makes for a better definition) is used by desperate people who have a massive grievance against an institution or a state, but do not have an army with which to make war. The United States cannot possibly wage "War on Terrorism" because, by definition, terrorists have no military with which to fight. Blasting civilian populations in the Islamic world will not end terrorism. It will, however, inspire even more terrorism in retaliation for very real injuries inflicted by the United States. The State Department and the Department of Defense agree: it's called "blowback."

How will the American warmongering establishment react when it becomes clear that its military adventures have been utterly ineffective? My best guess is that they will do what the death squad in Magnum Force did: turn up the heat. So, too, will the forces of Islamic terrorism. And, then, so will the US. And so will they. And so will we.

Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (who Bush called "a man of peace") is already an expert on this dynamic.

The dark and distorted logical conclusion to this line of thinking can be seen in the history books. The Nazis, in retaliation for "terrorism" or partisan resistance, massacred entire villages. American soldiers slaughtered the elderly, women, and children at My Lai and hundreds of other villages during the Vietnam War. Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet ruthlessly eliminated his political opposition at the National Stadium in Chile. Salvadoran right-wing para-military soldiers murdered liberation theologist and Cathloc Archbishop, Oscar Romero, while he said mass. It has already begun anew in Afghanistan.

(It is important to note that, except for the Nazis, from whom our military learned, all of the above mentioned examples involve the US government in some way).

This is our future if we continue along these lines: the US will continually escalate its own violence and killing; all the while, terrorism will escalate. Our future will be less like Dirty Harry and more like Mad Max or Brazil. This is the end of morality for our people. The very soul of America will turn from its traditional tarnish to a deep, dark, wretched rot. I know that President Bush, as a fundamentalist Christian, believes in Hell. I wonder if he ever fears going there.

some research also done at ClintEastwood.net

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Wednesday, March 12, 2003

WOODY ALLEN: JAZZMAN

"For more than three decades, filmmaker Woody Allen has been playing jazz clarinet on Monday nights in intimate Manhattan settings. He spent 25 years performing weekly at Michael's Pub, famously missing the 1978 Oscar ceremony. While Annie Hall was winning multiple trophies, he was back East doing his regular Monday night gig at Michael's."

This is a pretty good article that does a nice job making connections between the artistic impulses behind both music and film.

Click here.

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WHO GUITARIST CLEARED OF PEDOPHILIA ALLEGATIONS

Thank god. I really didn't want to believe it was true, anyway. I mean, Pete's no Michael Jackson: we all know that he likes "Rough Boys" but I'm pretty sure that he meant grown up guys in leather jackets at seedy pubs...

Click here.

"And the morals that they worship will be gone."

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CONFLICTING REPORTS ABOUT THE CAPTURE OF BIN LADEN

He may already be in custody but the US isn't about to admit it. Here's Houston Chronicle coverage, and here's Yahoo coverage provided by Eschaton. Here's my own take which I just wrote about on Eschaton comments: I'll paste it here.

"I think that I can offer some small bit of corroboration here. Last weekend late at night I saw a cable news channel "breaking news" spot (I forget which network) that said something to the effect that bin Laden had been cornered in Pakistan, a shootout was in progress, and more details would be forthcoming. During the voiceover, they showed video of a suburban neighborhood with soldiers running around.

At first I thought, "what the hell?" But when I heard nothing more about it, I just figured that they were rehashing the capture of that Ron Jeremy guy and that I had misunderstood.

Now I'm thinking that I heard it correctly. Perhaps a late night producer ran the story trying to get a huge scoop over rivals and his bosses then killed the story at the request of the Pentagon.

That kind of thing has happened before..."


Did anyone else see this report? Has anyone run across it on the internet?

My life is more and more like the Matrix every day.

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AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

Monty Python alumnus Terry Jones considers the coming war.

"And yet it worries me that Mr. Bush says that one of the reasons he wants to kill a lot of Iraqis is because Saddam Hussein has also been killing them. Is there some sort of rivalry here?"

Click here. Link culled from Eschaton comments.


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Tuesday, March 11, 2003

RON'S SOAPBOX

I now present a rousingly riotous new rivet in the superstructure of REAL ART: permanent links! Yes, that's right. After futzing around for seemingly several hours, I have doped out enough of the screamingly simple, yet tantalizingly tedious HTML code to provide you, true believer ("true believer"? Where the hell did that come from?), peril free pathways to your pondering penman's most prized places on the World Wide Web. (What's with all the alliteration?)

(What's happening to me?)

Excelsior!

makeminemarvelmakeminemarvelmakeminemarvel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!








AND THEN THERE WAS ONE

CBS is now reporting that there is a good chance that the UK may be dropping out of Bush's mercenary army.

Link via Eschaton.

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A POINT OF LIGHT IN THE CONSERVATIVE WASTELAND

And I don't mean one of those thousand points of light. Who says Houston is all conservative? Well, I usually do, but not today:

Peace activists, newlyweds gather at Mecom Fountain. I think I'm going to try to join in this Friday.

Also

Bhopal protesters block access to Dow plant. Remember the Union Carbide distaster in Bhopal, India? No? Click here. Now, it's Dow's problem since they bought UC: welcome to Houston, Greenpeace activists! (Okay, I know that Greenpeace has actually been in Houston for years, but they haven't been so noisy, lately.)

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