Friday, October 31, 2008

Democracy Now: Academy Award-Winning Filmmaker Michael Moore on the Election, the Bailout, Healthcare, and 10 Proposed Decrees for the New President’s

Academy Award-Winning Filmmaker Michael Moore on the Election, the Bailout, Healthcare, and 10 Proposed Decrees for the New President’s First 10 Days
Democracy Now
Host: Amy Goodman

With the election four days away, we spend the hour with Academy Award-winning filmmaker and author Michael Moore. His film Fahrenheit 9/11 took on the Bush administration. Sicko took on the health insurance industry. His first film Roger and Me targeted General Motors. Moore joins us from Michigan to talk about the election, the bailout as “robbery,” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the changing political climate in his home state. Moore also shares his ten proposed decrees for a new administration’s first ten days in office.

To Listen to the Interview

To download and view (for free) Michael Moore's new film Slacker Upring:

go here

"This is being done entirely as a gift to my fans. The only return any of us are hoping for is the largest turnout of young voters ever at the polls in November."
- Michael Moore

Democracy Now: Live Election Night Coverage

One of the news sources that I trust the most is Democracy Now and they have just announced a special 5 hour election night coverage special and expanded day after wrap up.

Live Election Night Coverage
Democracy Now! will broadcast & video livestream a five-hour election night special on November 4th from 07:00PM–12:00AM ET to report the results as they come in.

On November 5th, Democracy Now! expands to a two-hour, “The Morning After” broadcast & video livestream from 08:00AM–10:00AM ET to provide complete coverage of the election outcome.

BBC Documentaries: America's First Principles

America's First Principles
BBC Documentaries

In the run up to the US Presidential Election Allan Little presents an appraisal of the man described as America's "Apostle of Freedom": Thomas Jefferson.

This programme is set entirely at Jefferson's estate at Monticello, with its vineyards and plantation "street" where slaves once lived and worked and will consider some of the key "Jeffersonian principles".

It highlights the contradictions of Jefferson the man and shows how his vision continues to define the continent of America and its relationship with the world today.

Thomas Jefferson was the author of the founding document of the American Republic.

He was also symbolically the author of America itself.

However, Jefferson has also been America's man for all seasons.

"Southern secessionists cited him on behalf of states' rights; northern abolitionists quoted his words in the Declaration of Independence against slavery."

Conservatives echo his warnings against the monarchical and aristocratic potential of strong federal government; liberal reformers claim him in the battle for government intervention to promote equality.

Why has he come to mean so much to so many?

What was the America to which Jefferson aspired?

The programme will focus on the contradiction that emerged within Jefferson's own life time:

The man who was hostile to the growth of federal power but who, as president, vastly extended the role of his own office;

The man who "held these truths to be self-evident" that all men are created equal and yet who owned a slave plantation and believed that blacks and whites could not live together in America;

The man who believed that America as the alternative to Europe should turn its back on foreign entanglements who, nonetheless, as president started the process by which America would become the greatest of all players on the world stage.

The programme reflects on America today, from the view of Monticello and will examine these three key areas of Jefferson's gift to the world: the role and nature of the federal government in American democracy; the place of race in American society; and the character and idea of America in world.

To Listen to the Episode

Michael Benton: Learning From the Dahlai Lama?

(A blog post got me thinking...)

Recently I read something from the Dahlai Lama about attempting to, just for seven days, resist thinking any negative thoughts about any other person. He stated that in a competitive, consumer society we are conditioned to focus on the negative and that this is destructive to our psyches and communal well-being.

At first I said well that is fucking ridiculous there are too many idiots and assholes for me to resist thinking negative thoughts... but then I reflected on what my statement said about myself.

So I decided I would try it. The first day was a disaster... no luck, OK, I would do it an hour at a time-very difficult (I work on a busy campus and I do run into a lot of people...). Manageable, but strangely I noticed how easily my mind could laspe into negative feelings/thoughts and that even as I worked to develop a positive outlook about current events/relationships, past events would begin to seep into my consicousness and would assail my defenses... what about when this happened, or when I failed to do this, or when this person let me down, or the countless people I have hurt in my lifetime...

Despite the periods of pain this exercise has caused me, I have been noticing more moments of pure happiness and delight in life--I am also more conscious of how my negative thoughts are a conditioned reflex (often unconscious) and that I can choose to be happier.

I'm an old school existentialist who is suspicious of bliss, but I am learning to enjoy myself more... hopefully I can spread some of that joy.

BBC Documentaries: The Lost Veterans

The Lost Veterans
BBC Documentaries

Sergeant Phil Northcutt has been living with his girlfriend Jennifer and their one-year-old son, Kai, in a single room, raised up on stilts over the back yard of a house in Long Beach, California.

It's little more than a crash pad which belongs to a friend of his.

For the moment though, it's the nearest thing that Phil has had to a place of his own in three years.

Phil was lucky - he came back from serving with the Marine Corps in Iraq in one piece. His experiences of serving with the US military changed him so much that he couldn't go back to his old life.

Advocacy groups estimate that Phil is one of at least 1,500 veterans from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan who sleep rough in America's cities every night. It's a problem that the authorities seem reluctant to admit to.

Official figures show that 150,000 veterans of various military conflicts are living in shelters or on the streets, although many charities working with the homeless say the true number is double that.

The current conflicts are already swelling this vagrant population - as more soldiers reach their point of discharge from the army.

When the process of eventual withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan begins, it's likely to put further strain on an overburdened system.

Almost half of these 'lost veterans' have drug abuse problems and over a third have serious psychiatric disorders. Many have been to prison.

In 2006, Phil Northcutt was sent to jail for growing marijuana. The only drug which stopped the recurring nightmares of his time in Iraq. He was imprisoned for 11 months.

When the Marine Corps offered him an 'other than honourable' discharge, meaning the loss of benefits, he took it.

Andrew Purcell spoke to many of those, like Phil, trying to get back on track. He finds out more about their struggles reintegrating into civilian society, and why they feel abandoned by the US military.

To Listen to the Episode

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Slate V: Power Recap "From the Last Debate to the Final Week" of the Presidential Campaign

Slate V has provided us with a two minute Power Recap "From the Last Debate to the Final Week" of the Presidential Campaign:

If you need to know what happened before this recap, here are two earlier videos:

From the First to Last Debate in Four Minutes

From the Conventions to the First Debate

Hollywood Bitchslap: Stefan Forbes on Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story

Stefan Forbes on Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story
by Peter Sobczynski
Hollywood Bitchslap

The director of the acclaimed new documentary "Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story" talks about his movie and the man who, even in death, may well be the single most influential man in contemporary American politics.

Although he has been dead since 1991, the legacy of the late Republican political strategist Lee Atwater--the man responsible for the belief that the best way to get a candidate elected to public office was to drive up the opposing candidate’s negative numbers by any means necessary--is still going strong today. After helping to organize college-aged Republicans during the 1970s into a potent political force, he served as one of the key strategists for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election bid (where his dirty tricks helped the candidate win a crucial primary in South Carolina that saved the entire campaign from doom after some early stumbles) and eight years later, he was put in charge of George Bush’s presidential bid. Thanks to his gifts for lying, mudslinging and cannily exploiting racial fears--best exemplified by the infamous ad that he devised linking an escaped rapist and killer by the name of Willie Horton with a prison furlough program that opponent Michael Dukakis oversaw while serving as governor of Massachusetts--he not only got Bush into the White House but became a media celebrity himself. Alas, he passed away three years later from a brain tumor and in a move that shocked his colleagues, he issued a number of public apologies to many of those that he had wronged throughout his career. Nevertheless, his influence on the contemporary political process can still be seen today thanks to the actions and activities of such avowed protégés as Karl Rove and Tucker Eskew, an associate who helped destroy John McCain’s 2000 presidential bid with dirty tricks and who is now working on McCain’s campaign to help out with Sarah Palin.

Just in time for Election Day, Atwater’s story has been chronicled in Stefan Forbes’ fascinating new documentary “Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story.” Using a collection of new interviews with Atwater’s former friends and cronies--and even a couple of victims of his work, such as Dukakis and fellow political operative Ed Rollins--and eye-opening vintage footage (including revealing comments from the then-unknown likes of Rove and George W. Bush and an unaired interview in which Atwater steadfastly denies both the existence of and his participation in the Willie Horton ad), the film paints a clear and distinctive look at how one man managed to completely change the face of contemporary political campaigning and how so many people allowed themselves to fall victim to his actions. If you are at all interested in American politics or if you simply want to know how modern campaigning turned into such a bitter and savage competition to see who can outsleaze the other, you owe it to yourself to see this film.

Recently, Forbes came to town to present his film at the Chicago International Film Festival and the day after the screening, he sat down in a conference room to talk about the film and Atwater’s enduring legacy.

What was it that first got you interested in filmmaking?

I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at a time when there were all these incredible independent theaters. My dad was a cameraman and documentary filmmaker in Europe and grew up going to see Woody Allen movies and Bergman and all the classic French films. I grew up surrounded by them--we didn’t even have a TV in the house, so they were my entertainment as a kid. I guess I was always drawn to it and even with making documentaries now, I come at them from the perspective of a movie lover sitting in a dark theater wanting to be transported by the power of a story.

What was it about the story of Lee Atwater that made you want to explore it in a film?

I was just fascinated by how one guy could have such an influence over our country and, by extension, the world. I always felt that there was more to his story that we didn’t know. He was a more complicated man and behind his pose of the gun-slinging political assassin, there must have been something deeper driving this guy and I wanted to find out what it was.

In planning “Boogie Man,” what was the approach that you chose to take in investigating Atwater and his legacy?

The whole epic story about Ronald Reagan and the Bush Dynasty has been told so many times that as a filmmaker, you have to work extra hard to uncover the truth of what really happened, even when we have all been blinded by what we think we know. I had to go back and watch it all again and study hundreds of hours of videotape first-hand to really get at the truth. I thought I knew what happened but the more I really looked at it, I started realizing how we had gotten the story so wrong. I was amazed that George Bush’s inaugural speech in 1989 was filled with this shocking racist invective that I have never seen written about once and if I hadn’t gone back and listened to that entire speech, I never would have known. The project was about starting from scratch and talking to Atwater’s closest friends and worst enemies and going through these archives to discover what really happened and not accept some pre-packaged media narrative. It was incredibly exciting to find these nuggets of video that had never before been seen and they told a completely different story. It was like detective work, like being on the trail of a jewel thief and trying to piece together how this guy pulled off these incredible scams.

Lying, mudslinging and rumor-mongering have been a part of American political campaigns for as long as such things have existed--what was it about Atwater’s approach that made these tactics so successful from when he was utilizing them himself through today, when they have been kept alive through the efforts of protégés like Karl Rove?

When Atwater achieved prominence in the 1980s, people were scared to go that negative in a presidential election and he showed them that if your candidate couldn’t inspire hope, you could win by demonizing the opponent. Traveling around the country during this election season as “Boogie Man” is going into 40 cities, I’ve been amazed at the level of vitriol in these TV ads in swing states. We are living in a world that Atwater created where no attack is too offensive to launch and no smear campaign seems too beneath some of these candidates. His playbook has been winning elections for the GOP from his grave. Nixon may have started the culture wars but it was Atwater who used them in such a brazen no-holds-barred way that it is amazing to me that the Democrats haven’t yet learned how to fight back effectively.

And yet, at least in terms of this year’s presidential election, not many of those tricks seem to be working as effectively as they have in years past. Is this because voters have become more aware of the manipulations thanks to things like the internet or is it for the same reason that they didn’t really work in 1992 when Clinton won--the fact that the economy was in such bad shape that voters were less willing to be swayed by such diversions?

Fear tactics are working better than ever--it is just that the global financial crisis is the scariest thing out there and it puts in perspective the irrelevance of the “washed-up old terrorist,” as John McCain himself called William Ayers.

At one point during the film, it is suggested that if Lee Atwater had been alive to run Bush’s re-election campaign in 1992, Bill Clinton would have been defeated. Do you believe that to be the case or do you think that Clinton would have won thanks to a combination of the poor economy at the time and his own unusual resilience in the face of any obstacle that came his way?

It is a fascinating question that Lee’s friends argue about a lot. As a Southerner, Clinton instinctively understood the Atwater playbook in a way that no Democrat has since. You couldn’t paint this bubba from Arkansas as a guy who hated America or was an elitist, no matter how hard they tried. Again, Democrats get distracted by Atwater’s dirty tricks and fail to understand the power of the culture war. However, the heavily funded misinformation campaign that Atwater launched against Clinton from the headquarters of the RNC way back in 1989 continued to this day and may well have crippled the Clinton presidency and made Hilary an unviable presidential candidate. Even if the GOP loses this fall, they will embark on a similar campaign against Barak Obama because Atwater taught them that politics is war and that you have to win by any means necessary.

To Read the Rest of the Interview

Eugene Jarecki: The Straight Talk Train Wreck

("Eugene Jarecki's 2006 film "Why We Fight" won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival as well as a Peabody Award. This posting is an excerpt from his new book, The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril. It has just been released by Simon & Schuster/Free Press.")

The Straight Talk Train Wreck
by Eugene Jarecki
Huffington Post

In November '05, as the theatrical release of Why We Fight approached, I visited Washington for a follow-up with the Senator, both as a courtesy and hoping he might appear at the film's premiere. I arrived early for my appointment, and his receptionist pointed me to a seat on the couch. She was busy fielding a torrent of calls. "Senator McCain's office, please hold," she said repeatedly. "The office of Senator McCain, please hold...."

On a TV flickering silently, the Senate was in a frenzied session on the administration's handling of pre-war intel on Iraq. Watching the charade of partisan posturing onscreen, I wondered if Americans outside the Beltway even cared at all. The calls coming in to the receptionist suggested they did. From her responses, the callers seemed concerned with a wide array of subjects facing the Senator. "The Senator is unavailable at the moment," she would say. "May I pass on a message? Yes he is familiar with that issue. You say you support it? Yes? I will pass that on to the Senator. Thank you for calling." Some version of this conversation recurred ten times in the first 15 minutes I was there.

During a lull, I approached the receptionist and asked her how many such calls she fields each day. "Oh hundreds," she smiled. "Is there a system for passing all this on to the Senator?" I asked. "Oh yes," she replied, brandishing a steno pad with an immaculate handwritten tally of the views expressed. "I share this with him at the end of the day." Impressed and inspired, I returned to the visitor's couch. For a moment, Washington seemed to be working for America.

As I waited, though, I noted a conversation taking place on the opposite side of the waiting room. There at a conference table was a group of businessmen meeting with two of the Senator's staffers. I hid myself in a magazine and pretended not to listen. From what I could gather, the businessmen represented a defense interest seeking the Senator's support for some system produced by their firm. It was pretty ironic. There I was, having made a film that investigates military-industrial-congressional corruption, and after less than an hour in Washington I was already witnessing in microcosm the tension of forces acting on public policy. On my right, the voices of Eisenhower's "alert and knowledgeable citizenry" seeking their Senator's ear through his receptionist's headset. On my left, representatives of the military-industrial sector, seeking with quiet confidence to influence the Senator on a matter of mutual interest.

A balanced picture? How could it be, really? Given the grotesque costs of elections and the need for members of Congress to bring home jobs, the most important people for any politician, Republican or Democrat, are those whose companies create jobs and generate contributions. And for the most part, that's not you and me. Most Americans don't meet their politicians. Half the country doesn't vote. Ninety-six percent don't write campaign checks.

I didn't see the Senator that day but met instead with his Chief of Staff Mark Salter. I explained to Mr. Salter that Senator McCain's outspoken onscreen remarks were proving popular with audiences weary of the status quo. I told him I wanted to arrange events to inspire public discourse and hoped the Senator might appear. Salter had bigger fish to fry, thanked me perfunctorily for my visit, and that was that.

But I could never have anticipated what happened next. The film was released nationally in January 2006. A few days later, I got a call from an agitated Mark Salter. He didn't recall my visit, hadn't seen the film, and after a panicked battery of questions, demanded I send him a copy. As promised during our November meeting, I had already sent him an advance copy, which I pointed out was already in his office. He asked me to hold, presumably confirmed this, then came back on the line to say he'd get back to me.

When next I heard from Salter, panic had grown to fury. He said the Senator's critical comments about the dangers of preemption and of American imperialism could give the mistaken impression McCain was opposed to the Iraq war and the Bush Administration broadly. But the moment in the film that was his greatest concern was when, responding to a question about the controversial awarding of no-bid contracts to Halliburton, McCain concedes, "It looks bad. It looks bad. And apparently, Halliburton more than once has overcharged the federal government. That's wrong." When pressed on how he would tackle this problem, McCain boldly declares, "I would have a public investigation of what they've done."

At that moment in the film, a phone rings off-screen and Senator McCain is advised by a staffer that Vice-President Cheney is calling. With a nervous laugh, the Senator excuses himself. "The vice-president's on the phone," he stammers, rising and scrambling off-screen, leaving the camera rolling on his empty chair. Different people see this scene differently. Some see McCain's sudden departure as perfectly normal. He's a high-ranking Senator, and the Vice-President is calling. Others see McCain's departure as evidence of a too-close relationship with Cheney. They note a certain embarrassment in McCain's body language. To yet a smaller, third group, McCain's reaction underscores Dick Cheney's omnipotence in Washington. Given the Administration's penchant for wiretapping, one viewer laughingly told me he thought perhaps "Cheney had decided the interview had gone on long enough."

Jokes aside, when McCain's office voiced their concern about this moment, I expected, if anything, they might fear the suggestion of uncomfortably close ties between McCain and Cheney. When Salter instead declared to me that I was "making it look like John McCain was critical of the Vice-President," and that "Vice-President Cheney has nothing to do with Halliburton," I realized that what he was objecting to was not that McCain might have appeared too close to Cheney but rather not close enough. Mr. Salter demanded that I send him a transcript of the Senator's interview, not just the parts that appear in the film. Since none of the film's more than twenty other interviewees had been provided such a thing, and since I valued the film's independence from political pressure, I told Mr. Salter I would seek advice from other journalists and get back to him.

Salter next resorted to threats, saying that, unless I complied, he would smear my name in the media and exert pressure on the film's principal funder never to work with me again. I said I thought the BBC would be unlikely to welcome such pressure from an irate chief of staff to a senator. Salter then changed gears, appealing to my sense of fairness. "When Senator McCain sat down to talk to you," he explained, "he thought he was talking to a television crew from the BBC." I said that that was true, but that the film had then gone on to win Sundance and secure a theatrical release. But then something troubling about his remark dawned on me.

"If you don't mind my asking," I said, "are you suggesting there are things Senator McCain will say to a British audience that he isn't comfortable saying to the American people?"Needless to say, this didn't help matters. But I wasn't trying to be snide. My question was just the logical extension of what Salter had intimated. But it clearly touched a nerve. He became enraged and, after hanging up, sought to make good on his threat to tarnish my name and career.

To Read the Entire Article

David Bordwell: It Was a Dark and Stormy Campaign (on Narrative)

(Courtesy of Green Cine)

It Was a Dark and Stormy Campaign
by David Bordwell
Observations on film art and Film Art


Barthes’ essay, along with other Structuralist studies, initiated the academic field of “narratology,” the systematic study of storytelling as it is manifested in many media. From the 1970s to the present, this became a vast, varied, and exciting area of inquiry.

The questions are fascinating.

*What is a story? How does it differ from other things, such as a description or an abstract image? Are jokes narratives? Are dreams? Are riddles? Is the concept so broad that anything can be treated as a story?

*Why do stories engage us? What do we need to know, or do, to understand a story? What powers enable us to create stories? Are story-making and story comprehension distinctively human activities?

*Do stories rendered in language differ from those rendered in other media? Is the ability to make or follow stories dependent on our knowing language, even if the story is presented without words (as, say, a silent film)?

*How do narratives imply or suggest or symbolize broader meanings than the bare events they recount? What enables a narrative to stand for more than it seems to say?

*What patterns of narrative construction do we find in different traditions, periods, times, and places? How might they bear the traces of social and political views? How might they express varying conceptions of the world?

In retrospect, we can see that Aristotle, nineteenth-century theorists of the drama, and theorists like Walter Benjamin, Georges Polti, R. S. Crane, and Northrop Frye did reflect on the phenomenon as narratologists were beginning to conceive it. But very few thinkers had asked these particular questions, in quite the way that Barthes and other Structuralists had.

The questions may seem impossibly abstract or broad, but they get more manageable if we look at particular cases. Take film. We all assume that Hollywood movies belong to a storytelling tradition, one that some people consider formulaic. But if Hollywood movies are formulaic, they must adhere to conventions—conventions we might not find, say, in Homer’s epic or Ibsen’s dramas or Neorealist films. What are those narrative conventions? Where did they come from? How do they fit together? What might be their effects on viewers’ beliefs and experiences?

Studying the narrative conventions of various filmmaking traditions has kept Kristin and me busy for many years. We explained some rudiments of narrative theory in the first edition of Film Art (1979); I think that this was the first time an introductory textbook put the area on the film studies agenda. In the 1980s we wrote The Classical Hollywood Cinema and Narration in the Fiction Film; in the 1990s Kristin wrote Storytelling in the New Hollywood; in the 2000s I wrote The Way Hollywood Tells It and Poetics of Cinema. Most recently we composed some items on this website ... .

Now, after a thirty-year pageant of academic theories and analyses, we find that the term has trickled down, so to speak, to bare-knuckle politics. It turns out that the current Presidential election in the U. S. is all about “narratives.” The candidates have them, as do the campaigns. And those narratives are served up in newspaper accounts that are also narratives. How the word gained its new status is a question for another time. For now, we have plenty of tales to occupy the narratologist.

Link to the Entire Essay and Hyperlinked Resources

A prime example of this narrative trend is Barack Obama's recent American Stories, American Solutions: 30 Minute Special:

More on Bordwell and Obama's special:

Countdown to Nov. 4

Election Protection Wiki

SourceWatch has set up a wiki for those that are concerned about problems during the upcoming and future elections:

Election Protection Wiki

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

C-SPAN After Words: Jane Mayer The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals

Jane Mayer Interviewed by Dana Priest
C-SPAN After Words
Accessed on Odeo

Jane Mayer, New Yorker Magazine Staff Writer, talked about her book "The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals." The book recounts her investigation into the campaign from the Office of the Vice President to legalize torture and expand the president’s powers as commander-in-chief.

To Listen to the Conversation

An effigy of Senator Barack Obama discovered hanging in a tree on the University of Kentucky's campus

My thoughts:

I have been troubled by the extreme hatred generated during this campaign and the refusal of either of the major party candidates to address it or call for an end to it. It is not a conservative or liberal thing... liberal pundits on AlterNet have been just as vicious/myopic as the conservative hate-jocks on TV/Radio... this is big business, these 352 days, 24 hours-a-day, campaigns... who will be the voices in the wilderness of hate?

I have been wrestling with this deep, dangerous divide in our nation and believe as public intellectuals we must have the courage to address it openly. No matter who wins this will not disappear after the election. Extremist factions have dominated the discourse of our nation (mediated and interpersonal) for too long. What can we do? What should we do? Where are we going as a nation?

We have been talking/writing about the important election issues in my 101/282 classes and I asked my students about Abu Ghraib. Only 6 students out of 60 recognized the name and/or the significance. My head is hurting from banging it against the wall...

Always questions, few answers....


Michael Benton
KY is 57% democrat and currently McCain is polling 55% and Obama at 35%
email we received today:

From: President Lee T. Todd, Jr.
Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 12:14 PM
Subject: Campus Incident on October 29, 2008

Unfortunately, this morning an effigy of Senator Barack Obama was discovered hanging in a tree on campus. I am personally offended and deeply embarrassed by this disgusting episode. This is not reasonable political expression; it is just malicious. And it is unacceptable.

On behalf of the University of Kentucky I apologize to Senator Obama and his family. I will personally assure them that this is not who we are as a University or as a state.

As President of the University of Kentucky, I feel outraged and hurt. I am outraged because we work very hard, every day, to build bridges across the divides. Diversity and inclusion are among our most precious core values. Episodes like this serve only to erode our confidence in and respect for one another.

Regardless of your political opinions or the candidates you support, a University such as ours must be a place where spirited discussion can take place, but within the bounds of civility, common sense, and respect for the views and feelings of others. We have insisted - and we will continue to insist - that we as a University and as a state rise above hatred and acts of malice or ignorance. The line separating civil discourse from unacceptable behavior has been crossed, constituting a clear violation of the University's code of ethics, and possibly constituting criminal acts, which would also violate University regulations. Such acts will not be tolerated. Those found responsible will be subject to the full force of university, state, and federal rules and regulations.

There is an on-going investigation into this incident, which includes federal authorities. If you have any information that would assist in this investigation you have a responsibility to contact the UK Police Department ...

Another email:

From: Provost Kumble Subbaswamy
Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 4:02 PM
Subject: Campus Forum to Discuss Effigy Incident

The UK Interfaith Dialog Organization and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Cultural Center will jointly sponsor a Campus Forum tonight at 7:00 p.m. in Memorial Hall to address issues and concerns that have arisen because of the effigy incident this morning. Student, community and university leaders will be on hand to underscore UK's core values of diversity and inclusion, and to reiterate the community's commitment to civil discourse and mutual respect under all circumstances, and in the face of political disagreement in particular. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Program participants will include Mehmet Saracoglu, President UK Interfaith Dialog Organization; Mayor Jim Newberry; President Lee Todd; Tyler Montell, President, UK Student Government; Reverend Peoples from Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church and others.

[Free parking will be available in the Limestone Parking Garage next to Kennedy Book Store - entrances are on Limestone and Upper streets.]

C-SPAN After Words: James Bamford The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America


James Bamford, author of "The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America " interviewed by Jonathan Landay.

To Listen to the Conversation

Milk (Gus Van Sant)

With Proposition 8 on the ballots in California, this is a good time for the release of a film about the life of Harvey Milk. Great casting, an excellent director, a powerful real-life story, one of the longest unresolved civil rights campaigns, and another possible culture war over the film! Also, for good measure, a response from Focus Features CEO James Schamus to the critique about the release schedule.

"Never blend in!"

Website for Milk

The film, appropriately, premiered at the Castro Theater in San Francisco and Green Cine has started an archive documenting the event.

The Kentucky Theater will open the film on 12/12!

Charlie Kaufman on Filmmaking; Release of Synechdoche, New York

(One of my favorite screenwriters--Being John Malkovich; Human Nature; Adaptation; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind--directs his first film.)

Charlie Kaufman on filmmaking:

It was my only job for the last five years and I need to have a job! I need to pay my mortgage and the economy is falling apart! What's the world going to be like in two years when I'm done with my next script? Is anyone going to want it? Is anyone going to buy it? Do I even want to put it out there because people have been so mean? A million stupid things are paralyzing me from writing. But it's what I like to do! I like to put something in the world that I feel is honest from my vantage point. That's the kind of decent thing to do in the world. To give people what you think is honest because, otherwise, you might as well be selling soap. In fact, you are selling soap! I don't want to do that. I'm not in that business. I've got to just jump into something and make it about what I'm interested in again. But there's pause. There's always pause at this point.

Green Cine archive on the film

The Kentucky Theater will get this film on Nov. 26th!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bill Moyers Journal: George Soros

George Soros
Bill Moyers Journal (PBS)

Burst of the Super Bubble

In his new book, THE CREDIT CRISIS OF 2008 AND WHAT IT MEANS, George Soros explains the credit crisis through the lens of his conception of financial markets and human affairs, a theory he calls "reflexivity." What we are seeing, according to Soros, is not just the deflation of the housing bubble, but that of a much bigger "super-bubble" twenty-five years in the making. Based on too much credit and too little regulation, the super-bubble has supported an unsustainable world order, where the United States consumes more than it produces.

In his interview with Bill Moyers, Soros lays out several short-term prescriptions for dealing with the crisis, one of which — directly injecting cash into banks in exchange for a share of the company — was authorized in the $700 billion bailout, and is being considered by the US Treasury.

But along with stopping the slide into more dire financial straights, Soros also has a vision for a post super-bubble world. For Soros, this unraveling, though inevitable, need not cause too much despair. Consumption has been the motor of our economy for 25 years, he explains, and now that motor is gone. But we can create a new motor to deal with one of the main aspects of our over-consumption problem — energy. Combating global warming will require a huge amount of effort — the amount of change and development that can restart an economy. Soros goes on to explain:

I think we all have to consume less. We will consume less because we will have to. And rather than being unemployed, let's keep employment up. We'd use it for dealing with global warming. That, I think, is the way that this could work in the right way.

To Listen/Watch/Read

Hakim Bey: Poetic Terrorism

Poetic Terrorism

WEIRD DANCING IN ALL-NIGHT computer-banking lobbies. Unauthorized pyrotechnic displays. Land-art, earth-works as bizarre alien artifacts strewn in State Parks. Burglarize houses but instead of stealing, leave Poetic-Terrorist objects. Kidnap someone & make them happy. Pick someone at random & convince them they're the heir to an enormous, useless & amazing fortune--say 5000 square miles of Antarctica, or an aging circus elephant, or an orphanage in Bombay, or a collection of alchemical mss. Later they will come to realize that for a few moments they believed in something extraordinary, & will perhaps be driven as a result to seek out some more intense mode of existence.

Bolt up brass commemorative plaques in places (public or private) where you have experienced a revelation or had a particularly fulfilling sexual experience, etc.

Go naked for a sign.

Organize a strike in your school or workplace on the grounds that it does not satisfy your need for indolence & spiritual beauty.

Grafitti-art loaned some grace to ugly subways & rigid public monuments--PT-art can also be created for public places: poems scrawled in courthouse lavatories, small fetishes abandoned in parks & restaurants, xerox-art under windshield-wipers of parked cars, Big Character Slogans pasted on playground walls, anonymous letters mailed to random or chosen recipients (mail fraud), pirate radio transmissions, wet cement...

The audience reaction or aesthetic-shock produced by PT ought to be at least as strong as the emotion of terror-- powerful disgust, sexual arousal, superstitious awe, sudden intuitive breakthrough, dada-esque angst--no matter whether the PT is aimed at one person or many, no matter whether it is "signed" or anonymous, if it does not change someone's life (aside from the artist) it fails.

PT is an act in a Theater of Cruelty which has no stage, no rows of seats, no tickets & no walls. In order to work at all, PT must categorically be divorced from all conventional structures for art consumption (galleries, publications, media). Even the guerilla Situationist tactics of street theater are perhaps too well known & expected now.

An exquisite seduction carried out not only in the cause of mutual satisfaction but also as a conscious act in a deliberately beautiful life--may be the ultimate PT. The PTerrorist behaves like a confidence-trickster whose aim is not money but CHANGE.

Don't do PT for other artists, do it for people who will not realize (at least for a few moments) that what you have done is art. Avoid recognizable art-categories, avoid politics, don't stick around to argue, don't be sentimental; be ruthless, take risks, vandalize only what must be defaced, do something children will remember all their lives--but don't be spontaneous unless the PT Muse has possessed you.

Dress up. Leave a false name. Be legendary. The best PT is against the law, but don't get caught. Art as crime; crime as art.

Republicans Against 8

The Republicans in my birthplace (CA) are way more liberal than the Democrats in my adopted state (KY). Good to see this...

I support the Republicans Against 8

Mona Domosh on Nationalism

In the now famous words of Benedict Anderson (1991), nations are imagined communities; that is, a nation connotes a group of people who believe and imagine that they belong together even though an individual will never meet more than a tiny fraction of the other members of his/her 'community'. Understanding the politics of nations, therefore, involves much more than studying their geopolitical boundaries; it involves analyzing cultural discourses. People believe and imagine that they belong together because they participate in, read, and hear a common set of cultural practices. This national imagination is constantly being made and remade through words, images, music, performance—that is, through pageants, patriotic songs, political speeches, holiday rituals, iconic figures, memorialized landscapes. The political geography of nations then is intricately bound up with cultural practices and products.

Understanding how and why certain of these practices and products participate in the making of national identity is no simple matter, yet it is extremely important to do. As Jan Pettman argues, ‘nationalism constitutes the nation as above politics, and so disguises the politics of its making. This is the extraordinary power of the nation as that thing which people will kill and die for’ [Worlding Women: A Feminist International Politics. NY: Routledge, 1996: 48]. In other words, feelings of national identity are what prompt people to act in powerful ways, yet the politics of nationalism - how and for what reasons it has been formed in particular ways - are disguised from common view. The most basic research questions stem from the quest to disclose and make visible the workings of nationalism. Cultural geographers and others investigate the constitution of national identity - how notions of race, class, sexuality and gender are used to set up distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them’ hierarchically, so that ‘others’ outside the nation are placed lower in the ranking; they examine the deployment of nationalism - how national identity is reiterated daily, often in the most banal ways; and they study the relationship of nationalism to landscape - how nationalism both shapes and is reinforced by particular symbolic landscapes and human-environmental practices.

Imperialism – the imposition of one country on another – is often predicated on a form of nationalism based on ‘natural’ superiority. The Roman world, for example, distinguished between those ‘civilized’ people of the Roman nation who spoke Latin, and those living outside of Roman boundaries who spoke other languages – the ‘barbarians’. Assumptions of national superiority provided both the reasons for and legitimation of the conquest of ‘barbarians’ by the ‘civilized’ Romans. National identity in nineteenth and early twentieth-century England was based partly around notions developed from evolutionary theory that posited the English people as ‘naturally’ more evolved and civilized than others living outside its borders; again providing cause for and legitimation of imperial conquest. Understanding the cultural practices and products of national identity formation, therefore, is critical to analyzing imperialism – the actual military or political or economic imposition of one country over another is made possible by and legitimized with a set of cultural ideologies and practices that we call nationalism. Cultural geographers, among others, investigate the ideologies that underlay the complex social relationships between the ‘conquerors’ and those that are ‘conquered’ both in colonial settings and in the spaces at the heart of the empire; the relationship between national identity and imperial discourse; and the specific cultural practices that were constitutive of, and in turn shaped by, imperialism, such as photography. (141-142)

Domosh, Mona. “Selling America: Advertising, National Identity and Economic Empire in the Late Nineteenth Century.” Cultural Geography in Practice. Ed. Alison Blunt, et al. NY: Oxford UP, 2003.

Slowfood in the Bluegrass (University of Kentucky: 11/21)

(From Chris Stapel)

Nov 21: Slowfood in the Bluegrass.
Rural and Development Seminar Series, 3-5p.m,
University of Kentucky Singletary Center President's Room.

Panel Discussion on sustainable agriculture and the local food movement with Jim Embry (Sustainable Communities Network), Susan Carson Lambert (RE Strategies, LLC) and Bob Perry (Food Systems Initiative) with reception to follow. Free and open to the public.

BCTC’s Peace & Justice Coalition/BFS Fall 2008 Speakers series: The Mountaintop Removal Roadshow (11/3); Activism Against the Nuclear Industry (11/7)

Each semester, BCTC’s Peace and Justice Coalition and the Bluegrass Film Society host a speakers series. The theme for this fall is activism. Next week’s presentations are:

The Mountaintop Removal Roadshow

Monday, November 3, 5:00 - 6:15 p.m., Oswald Auditorium, BCTC Cooper Campus, Dave Cooper

Mr. Cooper will provide the context for mountaintop removal coal mining and will explain the process, the environmental impacts, and the devastating impacts on the health and welfare of families living in coal country.

Activism against the Nuclear Industry

Friday, November 7, noon until 1:00 p.m., Oswald Auditorium, BCTC Cooper Campus, Jim Toren and Carol Rainey

Activist Jim Toren with FootPrints for Peace and author Carol Rainey have focused their activism on the nuclear industry. Raising awareness via long marches often through many states, they fight the nuclear installations from the Ohio River Valley to Oak Ridge to France.

Bill Moyers Journal: James K. Galbraith

James K. Galbraith
Bill Moyers Journal

When last week began, minders of the world's major economies had gathered together to hammer out a coordinated strategy for stabilizing the world economy. In response, investors kicked off the week with the biggest single-day percentage gain in the Dow Jones industrial index in seventy-five years. Thus commenced a roller-coaster week on Wall Street, with stock markets gaining and losing huge amounts daily before ending low on Friday.

Markets this week remained volatile, as traders reacted to a steady stream of bad economic news in the US and abroad. Economist James K. Galbraith joins Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL to help make sense of the state of the economy, the efficacy of the bailouts, and how we got here.

To Listen/Watch the Interview and to access more resources

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Story: Destroyed by the War

Destroyed by the War
The Story (American Public Media)
Host: Dick Gordon

Nearly two full years after he got home from Iraq, Byron Hancock's PTSD was at its worst. His wife Kristi came home from work one day to find a war movie blasting on the television and his military gear spread across the floor. Byron told her that he'd killed a neighbor and had to leave town. Kristi was eventually able to bring Byron back to reality, but even today he struggles.

As Byron and Kristi tell Dick Gordon, they were the last to expect this.

Byron was one of the top snipers in the Marine Corps, and an experienced police officer. He'd seen a lot of trauma. But coming home from Iraq, the flashbacks and nightmares were more than he could handle. He started drinking and eventually left his job.

These days, Byron has finally found some help. He's now at the Trauma Recovery Program of the V.A. Palo Alto Health Care System.

To Listen to the Episode

Seaking of Faith: Being Autistic, Being Human

Being Autistic, Being Human
Speaking of Faith (American Public Media)
Host: Krista Tippett

One child in every 150 in the U.S. is now diagnosed to be somewhere on the spectrum of autism. We step back from public controversies over causes and cures and explore the mystery and meaning of autism in one family's life, and in history and society. Our guests say that life with their child with autism has deepened their understanding of human nature — of disability, and of creativity, intelligence, and accomplishment.

To Listen to the Episode and Access Multimedia Resources

Altcountry #59: Los Alamos; O'Death; Drive-by Truckers, Rick Trevino & Los Super Seven; Stairwell Sisters, Bob Haley; Grayson Capps; Marybeth D'Amicos

#59: It gets pretty dark sometimes
Altcountry (Netherlands)

Los Alamos (from Argentina), O'Death, Drive-by Truckers, Rick Trevino + Los Super Seven, The Stairwell Sisters, Bob Haley (from Norway), Grayson Capps, Marybeth D'Amico, Rusty Truck, Calexico and Blue Mountain.

Cesar Rojes, Rick Trevino and Los Super Seven

Listen to the Episode

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Utne Reader: 50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World

Utne Reader is a magazine that each month provides a collection of articles from the independent/alternative press. One of my favorite annual features is:


Monday, October 20, 2008

Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker: The Hidden Labor of Capitalism

For the African, European, and American hewers of wood and drawers of water in the early seventeenth century, work was both a curse and a punishment. These workers were necessary to the growth of capitalism, as they did the work that could not or would not be done by artisans in workshops, manufactories, or guilds. Hewers and drawers performed the fundamental labors of expropriation that have usually been taken for granted by historians. Expropriation itself, for example, is treated as a given: the field is there before the plowing starts; the city is there before the laborer begins the working day. Likewise for long-distance trade: the port is there before the ship sets sail from it; the plantation is there before the slave cultivates its land. The commodities of commerce seem to transport themselves. Finally, reproduction is assumed to be the transhistorical function of the family. The result is that the hewers of wood and drawers of water have been invisible, anonymous, and forgotten, even though they transformed the face of the Earth by building the infrastructue of "civilization." (42)

Eugene Jarecki on “The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril”

(Jarecki is the director of the 2005 documentary Why We Fight)

Eugene Jarecki on “The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril”
Democracy Now
Host: Amy Goodman

Election Day is two weeks away, and this year may see one of the highest voter turnouts in US history. But filmmaker and author Eugene Jarecki argues that while voting is essential, it is not enough. He writes, “Unless we see our vote as part of a commitment to involve ourselves consistently and unrelentingly in the political process, our vote is wasted. This is because the forces that have led us to this economic, military, and political precipice exert such awesome power over the mechanics of Washington that no single candidate or group of legislators, whatever their intentions, can possibly go up against them unless armed with an irrepressible public mandate.”

To Listen/Watch/Read

Skinny Devil Music Lab

(From David McLean. David is a great local guitarist and this site is a good example of the expanding opportunities for independent musicians to get their music/name out to the public.)

... want to announce the new Skinny Devil Music Lab channel at YouTube! Stop by, subscribe to the channel, rate some videos & leave some comments, add us as a friend, and tell all your family & friends. We'll be using the channel to promote not only my forthcoming CDs, but also EACH OF YOU (musicians, artists, & more), provide educational videos, and much more! Come on over:

Skinny Devil Music Lab on You Tube

More later!

David M. McLean
Skinny Devil Music Lab

"....embrace your fear..."

Ignoring Evidence, Mexican Authorities Charge Activists with 2006 Murder of Independent Journalist Brad Will

Ignoring Evidence, Mexican Authorities Charge Activists with 2006 Murder of Independent Journalist Brad Will
Democracy Now
Hosts: Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez

Mexican authorities have arrested two activists in the murder of the independent journalist Brad Will. Speculation has long centered around police officers and pro-government militants in Will’s death. Some were initially arrested in the months after the shooting, but ultimately released. But today the government is accusing two members of the popular movement APPO, the group opposed to state governor Ulises Ruiz. Will’s family has criticized the charges, calling the arrests a sham.

To Listen/Watch/Read

Ex-Asst. Treasury Sec. Paul Craig Roberts on Wall St. Bailout: “Has Deregulation Sired Fascism?”

Ex-Asst. Treasury Sec. Paul Craig Roberts on Wall St. Bailout: “Has Deregulation Sired Fascism?”
Democracy Now
Hosts: Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez

As the Bush administration announces a $250 billion plan to partially nationalize the nation’s banking system, we speak to Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department in the Reagan administration and a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts says the latest bank measure suggests the bailout is “either incompetence or fraud.”

To Listen to the Interview

Cecilia Boateng: Response to Ramin Bahrani's Chop Shop

(A student response to a BFS film)

I want to talk about a couple of characters in Chop Shop. I think the director (Ramin Bahrani) used the right characters to get his message across.

Before I talk about the characters, I first want to say something about some of the cinematographic techniques the filmmakers employed. The film is non-narrative and the style is informal. The characters speak vulgar street language. However, Bahrani used very interesting backgrounds to bring out an irony which is worth discussing. Alejandro (Ale), the protagonist, lives in a cluster of shanty auto shops where the people hustle and sometimes steal to make ends meet. The streets are untarred with potholes filled with rain water and most of them do not have good places to sleep. Just across the street, however, is a baseball stadium where everything looks alright with the spectators as they enjoy the games.

I think Bahrani wants to tell us that while some people are well-to-do and enjoying life, unfortunately others are suffering just a few yards away, in the same city. The main characters are Alejandro, Isamar, Carlos, and Ahmad. Coupled with background music like reggae and merengue songs, it clearly appears that the filmmakers want to portray an underdeveloped and impoverished Latino community.

Ramin did something which I think was quite interesting. No narrator mentioned the venue for the movie but the editors used a couple of scenes to tell us that. One is the Mets stadium, but even then it is not a direct message since there are many stadiums in the world. What really confirms the location is the shout of “Let’s go Mets!” from the spectators. Another scene is at the beginning of the movie when the truck driver told Ale to get off his truck. Just as the truck stopped a white van passed by and an inscription “NYPD” was on its side. Also, in the backdrop of this scene I can see the top of the Empire Building. Indirectly editors are telling us that the movie was made in New York.

To say that the whole story took place in a single day would be a lie and impractical. To convey the message that it occurred over a period of time the editors applied some cinematographic techniques that show this passage of time. There are scenes of morning where frames are toned with light bluish color making them relatively fussy. For afternoons, the characters and objects are captured in their natural colors and they appear very clear. There is even a scene where somebody remarks, “It’s hot!” and Ale replies, “Yeah, it’s really hot!” I think the editors added this to imply an afternoon time. There is also a scene of a rainy morning yet the pictures were clear. Metaphorically, I think Bahrani wants to say that all days are not equal. When a night scene comes you can really see it is night time in the movie. They did a good job with the night scenes.

In most movies, night scenes are shot in day light and toned brownish black. In this case, I think they captured the scenes in natural night time, but used the street lights as backdrop to put the characters in focus. With close-up shots I even see the angry facial expressions of Ale as he chances upon what Isi is doing with a man in a car. I think those are brilliant shots.

Speaking of the Ale, he is a child who has been thrown into adulthood prematurely. He is deprived of natural childhood experiences and at such a tender age he has do what adults do to survive. He speaks vulgar language like them, drinks alcohol like them, and discusses adult issues like such as sex. Movies, they say, are a reflection of life in the society. Based on that, I think the director of this movie is telling us what is going on in the deprived communities in America. Some people do not care if children go to school or not. The adults themselves are mostly illiterates and kids are made to hold more responsibilities than their age requires. Such kids never grow past this obstacle because the environment does not permit it.

Nevertheless, Ale is a character with a strong-willed personality. Even the betrayal of Carlos’ uncle cannot stop him. This trait makes him appear “stubborn,” as his sister describes him. His determination is driven by the love for his sister, Isamar (Isi), and his desire to see to it that her needs are met. He loves her so much that not even his close friend, Carlos, can stand in his way. Ale is poor but poverty does not stop him from loving and caring for those in his life. The message here is, where there is a will there is way.

Granted, stealing is not right, but in order not to see her engaged in prostitution he engages in all sort of thievery. I can also say Ale is very forgiving. He trusted his sister but she betrayed his trust. He is devastated after knowing what the sister does at night around the neighborhood. From then on his sense of humor dissipates and he becomes intolerable, but he sees it is wise to forgive her in the end. I think that is how it should be: people close to us can, and will, offend us but if we are able to forgive them happiness will return.

For the character Isamar, what I see is a teenage girl who has potential but the odds are against her. I do not see their parents in the movie, I presume they are dead or have left them. Whatever it is I think there are many girls out there in America who are very caring and want to do the right thing but such difficulties in life do not give them a chance.

Also, in such deprived communities, there are some who have a little or a lot of power over others in terms of money and social status such as Ahmad. As Ramin portrayed him, such people use their position to abuse others as young as Ale. They use kids to perform their evil acts, and can go to the extent of “pimping” teenage girls like Isamar for their personal gain.

The movie’s ending is abrupt and still has some suspense. It makes me wonder what is going happen to Ale and Isi. Other viewers like me will yearn for more.
The most important thing is Ale and Isi are more relaxed now after forgiving each other and life must go on. I also think that Ale has come to terms with reality that he cannot overcome his poverty overnight. It is something that he must wrestle with for the rest of his life.The ending encourages further thinking, which is good.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Alma Guillermoprieto: How To Be a Mexican

How to Be a Mexican
by Alma Guillermoprieto, Latin American writer and journalist
UChannel (Princeton University) and Center for Latin American Studies (Vanderbilt University)

Guillermoprieto discusses concerns surrounding Mexican identity, heritage and culture, as she examines the impact of globalized culture on traditional Mexican ways of life. One in every 10 Mexicans now lives across the border, and issues surrounding U.S.-Mexican relations continue to be in the news.

Guillermoprieto grew up in Mexico City and New York City, where she danced professionally for several years. During the 1970s, she became a journalist for The Guardian and later The Washington Post. Guillermoprieto was one of two journalists to break the story of the massacre of some 900 villagers at El Mozote, El Salvador, in 1981 by the Salvadoran army. She later worked for Newsweek as a South America bureau chief and wrote several articles on Latin American culture and politics for publications including The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books.

Her experiences as a former professional dancer and her time in Latin America have provided the basis for her books, including Samba, Dancing with Cuba, Looking for History and The Heart that Bleeds. The latter two are collections of essays that Guillermoprieto published in The New Yorker about the “Lost Decade” of Latin America, the 1990s.

Guillermoprieto’s writings have gained her a popular following, as well as a MacArthur Fellowship, a fellowship from Harvard University’s Neiman Foundation for Journalism and a membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

To Watch the Multimedia Lecture

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Word of the Day: Palliate

(I think the first two definitions are very appropriate for our current economic crisis. Definition courtesy of the essential online Webster Dictionary and this was a Word-of-the-Day entry from way back in 2004.)

palliate \PAL-ee-ayt\ verb

1 : to reduce the violence of (a disease); also : to ease (symptoms) without curing the underlying disease
2 : to cover by excuses and apologies
3 : to moderate the intensity of

Example sentence:
Roberta tried to palliate her actions with explanations and apologies, but Donald refused to accept her excuses.

Did you know?
Long ago, the ancient Romans had a name for the cloak-like garb that was worn by the Greeks (distinguishing it from their own "toga"); the name was "pallium." In the 15th century, English speakers modified the Late Latin word "palliatus," which derives from "pallium," to form "palliate." Our term, used initially as both an adjective and a verb, never had the literal Latin sense referring to the cloak you wear, but it took on the figurative "cloak" of protection. Specifically, the verb "palliate" meant (as it still can mean) "to lessen the intensity of a disease." Nowadays, "palliate" can be used as a synonym of "gloss" or "whitewash" when someone is attempting to disguise something bad.

Tapestry of the Times #6: The New Lost City Ramblers; Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard; French Carpenter; Texas Gladden; Bill Monroe; Josh White; Malinky

Tapestry of the Times #6 (WYPR: Baltimore and Smithsonian Folkways)
Host: Aaron Henkin

French Carpenter plays the fiddle tune that won his grandfather’s release from a Civil War prison camp, Texas Gladden sings of a mother’s spectral encounter with the ghosts of her children, Hatian Vodou practitioners sing a funerary song to release the spirits of the dead, Indonesian pop legend Rhoma Irama makes the teenagers of Jakarta go crazy, and folk legend Josh White lets us all know what he thinks of his landlord… Real music, real people, and the stories behind the sounds.

Temporary Link for this show--this week

Rhoma Irama

After this week this will be the permanent aqrchived link

Tapestry of the Times #5: Red Allen/Frank Wakefield; Snooks Eaglin; Berzilla Wallin; Peggy Seeger; Mary Stachelrodt; Mary Pinckney

(A new radio show dedicated to mining the history of the legendary Smithsonian Folkway Recordings. This is going to be an amazing, long-running show as the SFR recorded music and spoken word from around the world for 42 years!)

Tapestry of the Times (WPYR: Baltimore) #5
Host: Aaron Henkin

In this episode of Tapestry of the Times, songs from New Orleans street singer Snooks Eaglin, Calypso from Trinidad’s Mighty Sparrow, the sounds of Brazilian capoeiristas, music from mountains of Puerto Rico, and lush layers of melody from Zimbabwe. Plus: a showcase of female vocal talents Berzilla Wallin, Peggy Seeger, gospel traditionalist Mary Pinckney, and Alaskan Yupi’k singer Mary Stachelrodt. Real music, real people, and the stories behind the sounds…

To Listen to the Show

The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Melody

Michel Foucault: "So Is It Important To Think?"

(Courtesy of Contextual Musings)

Thought does exist, both beyond and underneath systems and edifices of discourse. It is something that is often hidden but always drives everyday behaviors. There is always a little thought occurring even in the most stupid institutions; there is always thought even in silent habits. Criticism consists in uncovering that thought and trying to change it: showing that things are not as obvious as people believe, making it so that what is taken for granted is no longer taken for granted. To practise criticism is to make harder those acts which are now too easy... [A]s soon as people begin to no longer be able to think things the way they have been thinking them, transformation becomes at the same time very urgent, very difficult and entirely possible.

-- Michel Foucault, (1981) [2000] "So is it important to think?" in In J. Faubion, ed., Power (New York: New Press, 2000), pp. 160-1.

It Was Only a Matter of Time ...

until someone decided to lure in suckers through bogus pitches from either of the two major American presidential campaigns... This one is so over-the-top you have to wonder who would ever give it a second glance. Although, I have to admit they picked the right candidate to lure in suckers...

John Mccain Extention Network to undisclosed-re.
show details 2:03 AM Reply

John Mccain Organization, Alaska
London/Germany Extension Office
Foreign Relations Committee
Address:Bressenden Place
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Revised 16/10/2008

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[FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS STERLING (GBP)] in the just concluded UK/Germany
John Mccain campaign [CHARITY] extension network held in London.

Participants were selected through a computer voters ballot system drawn from
a pool of over 800,000 names drawn from Europe, America, Asia, Australia,
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conducted to encourage the supporters of President John Mccaine — REPUBLICAN
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The result of our computer voters draw (#978) selected your email address
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Michael Benton: History of World Cinema

OK, so my wild ambition is to teach an extended master class on world cinema each semester and I can include six films in each decade--two weeks on each decade; each week, one in class and two through the BFS. What films would you include... I'm slowly building this up and will be constantly updating it. We have many classes that cover American films, so I will not be including any American films although they will be touchstones for the discussions in the course. I will be building this slowly b/c I am rewatching any film that I might consider. Some films that are originally included, may be dropped when I am convinced that other films would work better. I am not limiting myself to the consensus of what are the grand classics and will definitely consider cult favorites as influential films. I'm drawn to films that have strong social, political, philosophical and spiritual themes. Of course, form and aesthetics are also essential critieria for the selection of many of the films. Some films may not exactly be the best of the decade or of the director's body-of-work, but they capture the zeitgeist. I would also like to expand the scope to cover as much of the world's cinemas as possible. Comments/suggestions/critiques are appreciated and I would be very interested in any other lists. Feel free to educate me ;)

History of World Cinema

GUERRILLA FILMMAKING ON A EPIC SCALE: Che comandante Steven Soderbergh talks strategy and tactics with Amy Taubin

(Film Comment is a magazine that I purchase and read regularly. I'm excited to see the entire cut of Soderbergh's two films and del Toro is perfect for this role--a plea to the powers that make these decisions, please bring the two films our way!)

GUERRILLA FILMMAKING ON A EPIC SCALE: Che comandante Steven Soderbergh talks strategy and tactics with Amy Taubin
Film Comment (Sept/Oct 2008)

Many movies take the form of a hall of mirrors, where narrative is reflected in the filmmaking process and vice versa. Few, however, accomplish this with the dedication, clarity, and brio of Steven Soderbergh’s fraternal twins, The Argentine and Guerrilla (bundled under the shorthand title, Che). In the press conference following Che’s Cannes premiere, Soderbergh remarked that what most fascinated him about the Latin American militant was his will. Although revolution, as Mao chided, “is not a dinner party, not an essay, nor a painting” and, despite the heady sentiments of ’68, not a film either, Soderbergh’s own will—to shape every aspect of this project from conception to release—is palpable in Che, the film that places him in the ranks of the masters.

At Cannes, where responses ranged from “a triumph” to “a disaster”—which coincidentally describes the respective trajectories of Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Cuba as depicted in The Argentine and in Bolivia as depicted in Guerrilla—the only near consensus was that Che would never again be seen in the version that was shown at the festival, a version that many believed was a rough draft. “No doubt it will be back to the drawing board for Che,” brayed Variety, where prognostication about box-office performance colors every paragraph of critical evaluation. As far as this viewer was concerned, I was almost certain, however, that what was screened at Cannes was 98 percent finished. Bearing in mind that Kubrick famously went into projection booths and clipped bits out of his films even after they were in release, it was a given that Soderbergh would do some tinkering; digital postproduction makes the temptation irresistible. The more serious worry was that in the U.S., the full four-hour-plus version would prove as elusive as Vertigo after Hitchcock withdrew it from distribution.

Not so. The Argentine and Guerrilla will premiere in North America at the Toronto Film Festival and then play in the New York Film Festival, showing, as in Cannes, back to back with a short intermission. According to Soderbergh this “road-show” version will open for limited one-week engagements in some 20 cities at the end of the year—a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution and the 80th anniversary of Guevara’s birth. “I think, for hardcore people who have a day to throw away, it’s the fun way to see it because all the call and response is right there,” he says. The two films will then be split up. In the foreign territories where Che was pre-sold (the pre-sales covering $54 million of the $58 million budget) there are, to Soderbergh’s knowledge, no plans to show the two films together. Given that Che is already nearly paid for, the movie only needs to do enough business in the U.S. to cover the cost of prints and advertising. “The definition of what is financial success for us in this country may not be good enough for people who write about movies,” the director said with barely detectable irony, “but if this movie does $5 million and then sells a couple hundred thousand units on DVD, we’ll be very happy with those numbers.”

Writing about Soderbergh in Filmmaker in 2002, I argued that the structuring principle underlying his films is contradiction, not in the Marxist political sense but as an aesthetic according to which an object is defined by what it is not. Contradiction determines the shape not only of Soderbergh’s individual films but also the relationship of one to another. The sexy, extroverted Out of Sight (98) and the melancholy, introspective The Limey (99), for example, are more dazzling as a pop art couple than either is on its own. What Soderbergh terms “the call and response” relation between The Argentine and Guerrilla is intrinsic to their form and meaning. The Argentine depicts the 1956-58 campaign in Cuba’s Sierra Maestra and ends in glory with Che and Fidel en route to Havana. Guerrilla follows Che’s disastrous attempt to repeat the Cuban strategy in Bolivia in order to spearhead a revolution throughout Latin America. Largely based on two books written by Che, Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War and Bolivian Diary, The Argentine and Guerrilla are action films, couched from the perspective of the man who was at the center of the action—who experienced the physical agony and the adrenaline rush of guerrilla warfare (heightened because he was asthmatic) and who, because he was a military strategist fighting for a political cause and ideology he articulated with great brilliance, also saw himself and his situation from the outside. The character of Che Guevara (embodied by Benicio Del Toro with intelligence and an unflagging conviction) gives rise to the push/pull experience of both films, the sense that one is both immersed and distanced.

“It was something i couldn’t say no to, which is different from saying yes,” Soderbergh remarks about Che. “I can’t sit here and say I wanted to do it. I only knew I had to do it.” Soderbergh, Del Toro, and producer Laura Bickford began talking about a Che movie when they were shooting Traffic in 1999. When Del Toro and Bickford discovered that Terrence Malick had been in Bolivia as a journalist in 1966 working on a story about Che, they asked him to write a script. Malick’s involvement with the material was intense, and Soderbergh thought he should direct it as well: “I said to him the list of people that I’d be willing to step aside for to see their version as opposed to mine is pretty short, but you’re at the top of it.”

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Science Talk: Saddle Up That Stegosaurus--A Visit to the Creation Museum

Saddle Up That Stegosaurus--A Visit to the Creation Museum
Science Talk (Scientific American)

In this episode Columbia College Chicago's Stephen Asma discusses the new antievolution Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., as well as his books on natural history museums and monsters, both mythological and teratological.

To Listen-to/Read the Conversation

Still, the best analysis, is Media Czech's photo-documentation of the arguments put forth in his:

Fun at the Creation Museum

Looking for Media Info

A good intro to the basics...

I Want Media Resources

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

John Nichols: Alaska's Largest Paper Labels Sarah Palin "Orwellian"

Alaska's Largest Paper Labels Palin "Orwellian"
by John Nichols
The Nation

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin says that she was "vindicated" by the report on her firing of Walter Monegan, the state's Public Safety Commissioner she removed after he refused to intervene on the governor's behalf to dismiss her brother-in-law as a state trooper.

"I'm very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing, any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that," Palin said after the Alaska Legislative Council released the 263-page report on the inquiry.

"If you read the report you'll see that there was nothing unlawful or unethical about replacing a cabinet member," she continued. "You gotta read the report."

Actually, if you read the report that the Republican-controlled Legislative Council unanimously approved for release, it says -- in the words of Stephen Branchflower, the veteran prosecutor who conducted the probe -- that:

Branchflower writes:

"I find that Governor Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52 110(a)of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. Alaska Statute 39.52 110(a) provides: The legislature affirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust."

So Palin is, um, well, lying.

But what kind of lie are we talking about here?

Alaska's largest newspaper, The Anchorage Daily News, says it's "Orwellian" in character.

The Daily News, a publication that has often (though not always) sided with the governor, and which has published the governor's columns over the years, is blunt in its dismissal of the "vindication" spin.

"Gov. Palin, read the report," the paper taunts. "It says you violated the ethics law."

To Read the Rest of the Report and The Anchorage Daily News Editorial

Christopher Buckley leaves National Review after Obama endorsement

(Courtesy of Jonathan Vincent.)

Buckley leaves National Review after Obama endorsement
by Alexander Mooney
Political Ticker (CNN)

Christopher Buckley, the son of conservative icon William F. Buckley, said Tuesday he's resigned from the conservative National Review days after endorsing Barack Obama's White House bid, among the most powerful symbols yet of the conservative discontent expressed this election cycle.

In an online column, Buckley said he had decided to offer his resignation from the magazine his father founded after hundreds of readers and some National Review colleagues expressed outrage he was backing the Illinois senator.

"While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for," Buckley wrote.

"Eight years of 'conservative' government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case," he also wrote.

The resignation comes four days after Buckley formally endorsed Obama on the Web site The Daily Beast, writing the presidential campaign had made John McCain "inauthentic," and Obama appeared to have a "first-class temperament and first-class intellect."

In a statement posted on the publication's Web site Tuesday, National Review editor Rich Lowry noted Buckley was writing for the magazine on a trial basis, and took his offer to resign with the "warmest regards and understanding" sincerely. Lowry also took issue with Buckley's contention the magazine had been flooded with angry mail over Buckley's endorsement, saying it had received a relatively small 100 e-mails expressing disapproval.

"It's an intense election season and emotions are running high," Lowry said.

Matt Lewis, a contributing writer to the conservative Web site, told CNN the National Review made the right decision in quickly accepting Buckley's resignation.

"While it is acceptable for a conservative to vote for a third party – or to abstain from voting for McCain – no real conservative could cast their vote for Obama," he said. "The conservative movement didn’t leave him, he left it."

But in his column Tuesday, Buckley expressed disappointment the magazine, and conservatives in general, were not more open to dissenting opinions that his own father once championed.

My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman," he said, adding later, "My point, simply, is that William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much."

Buckley is only the latest among several prominent conservative to express dissatisfaction with McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin. David Brooks, Kathleen Parker, David Frum, Peggy Noonan, and George Will, all high-profile conservative thinkers, have each openly criticized the ticket over the last month.

"Sadly, I think Christopher Buckley is merely the latest example of the “conservative” avant-garde who has succumbed to a common temptation: Becoming more liberal is tantamount to becoming more open-minded. There is a palpable elitism among some of the conservative panjandrum," Lewis said.

Link to the Report

Jonathan Raban: Cut, Kill, Dig, Drill

(The best analysis yet of the Sarah Palin phenomenon.)

Cut, Kill, Dig, Drill
by Jonathan Raban
London Review of Books


What is most striking about her is that she seems perfectly untroubled by either curiosity or the usual processes of thought. When answering questions, both Obama and Joe Biden have an unfortunate tendency to think on their feet and thereby tie themselves in knots: Palin never thinks. Instead, she relies on a limited stock of facts, bright generalities and pokerwork maxims, all as familiar and well-worn as old pennies. Given any question, she reaches into her bag for the readymade sentence that sounds most nearly proximate to an answer, and, rather than speaking it, recites it, in the upsy-downsy voice of a middle-schooler pronouncing the letters of a word in a spelling bee. She then fixes her lips in a terminal smile. In the televised game shows that pass for political debates in the US, it’s a winning technique: told that she has 15 seconds in which to answer, Palin invariably beats the clock, and her concision and fluency more than compensate for her unrelenting triteness.

She has great political gifts, combining the competitive instincts of a Filipino gamecock with the native gumption she first displayed in her 1996 race to become mayor of Wasilla, when she blindsided the incumbent mayor by running not on local but on state and national issues, as the pro-gun and pro-life candidate. Mayors have no say on abortion or on gun laws, but Palin got the support of the local Evangelicals (it greatly helped that her – Lutheran – opponent’s surname was Stein and her backers put it about that he was a Jew) and of gun-owners who keenly supported a bill, then pending in the state legislature, that would affirm the right of Alaskans to carry concealed weapons into public buildings. On more typical mayoral concerns, she promised to halve Wasilla’s property tax and ‘cut out things that are not necessary’, citing the bloated budgets for the museum, the library and arts and recreation. She won the election with 616 votes to Stein’s 413.

There followed what some Wasillaites saw as her reign of terror. She demanded resignation letters from all the city managers, ridding herself of the museum director, the librarian (whom she was later forced to rehire), the public works director, the city planner and the police chief, who’d argued against the concealed weapons bill and had supported a measure to close the town’s bars at 2.30 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. at weekends (the owners of the Mug-Shot Saloon and the Wasilla Bar had given money to Palin’s campaign). City employees were forbidden by her to speak to the press, and during her first four months in office she provoked a string of appalled editorials in the local paper, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman:

Wasilla found out it has a new mayor with either little understanding or little regard for the city’s own laws.

Palin seems to have assumed her election was indeed a coronation. Welcome to Kingdom Palin, the land of no accountability.

Mayor Palin fails to have a firm grasp of something very simple: the truth . . . Wasilla residents have been subjected to attempts to unlawfully appoint council members, statements that have been shown to be patently untrue, unrepentant backpedalling, and incessant whining that her only enemies are the press and a few disgruntled supporters of former mayor John Stein.

Surrounding herself with fellow congregants from the Pentecostalist Wasilla Assembly of God and old school chums from Wasilla High, the 32-year-old mayor set about turning the town into the kind of enterprise society that Margaret Thatcher used to extol. She abolished its building codes and signed a series of ordinances that re-zoned residential property for commercial and industrial use. When the city attorney ordered construction to stop on a house being built by one of her campaign contributors, she sacked him.

Having come to power saying that her agenda was to pare down Wasilla to ‘the basic necessities, the bare bones’, she surprised its citizens when she redecorated the mayor’s office at a reported cost of $50,000 salvaged from the highways budget; its new red flock wallpaper matched her bold, rouge-et-noir taste in personal outfits. Another $24,000 of city money went on a white Chevy Suburban, known around Wasilla, without affection, as the mayormobile. She hired a city administrator to deputise for her in the day-to-day running of Wasilla’s affairs and employed a lobbyist in DC to wheedle lawmakers into meeting the town’s ever-expanding list of claims for congressional ‘pork’ (so named from the antebellum custom of rewarding slaves with barrels of salt pork). That expenditure, at least, paid off: during Palin’s six-year tenure as mayor, the federal government doled out more than $1000 for every man, woman and child in Wasilla. Her pet project was a $14.7m ice rink and sports complex, which opened in 2004. It is said to be lightly used, it has left the city servicing a massive debt, and a Jarndyce and Jarndyce lawsuit continues over the bungled way in which Palin acquired the land on which it’s built.

Present-day Wasilla is Palin’s lasting monument. It sits in a broad alluvial valley, puddled with lakes, boxed in on three sides by sawtoothed Jurassic mountains, and fringed with woods of spruce and birch. Visitors usually aim their cameras at the town’s natural surroundings, for Wasilla itself – quite unlike its rival and contemporary in the valley, Palmer, 11 miles to the east – is a centreless, sprawling ribbon of deregulated development along a four-lane highway, backed on both sides by subdivisions occupied by trailer-homes, cabins, tract-housing and ranch-style bungalows, most built since 1990. It’s a generic Western settlement, and one sees Wasillas in every state this side of the 100th meridian: the same competing gas stations, fast-food outlets, strip malls and ‘big box’ stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Fred Meyer and Home Depot, each with a vast parking lot out front, on which human figures scuttle with their shopping trolleys like coloured ants, robbed of their proper scale.

To Read the Rest of the Essay

James Bamford: “The Shadow Factory -- The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America”

James Bamford: “The Shadow Factory -- The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America”
Democracy Now
Host: Amy Goodman

The Bush administration’s wiretapping program has come under new scrutiny this week. Two influential congressional committees have opened probes into allegations US intelligence spied on the phone calls of American military personnel, journalists and aid workers in Iraq. We speak to James Bamford about the NSA’s spying on Americans, the agency’s failings pre-9/11 and the ties between NSA and the nation’s telecommunications companies

To Listen to the Conversations

Sam Green, Co-Director of THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND, on the New Notoriety of William Ayers

(The documentary The Weather Underground is one of my favorites. John McCain wants to make this an issue, rather than tackling what truly concerns our nation, so in the interest of being an informed citizen you should check this out before voting. I was fortunate to meet and talk with Bernadine Dohrn when I was a grad student at Illinois State University. She was a passionate advocate/defender of childrens rights and impressed me with her dedication to social service in Illinois. Later that night she gave a speech at the university and I was once again impressed by her intelligence, her wit, her sense of history and her patience in dealing with unruly people. She never dismissed the few who attacked her, instead, she sought to engage with them in a dialogue.)

Sam Green, Co-Director of THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND, on the New Notoriety of William Ayers
All These Wonderful Things (A.J. Schnuck)

Intro by A.J. Schnuck:

As the American presidential contest enters the homestretch, some bloggers on the right and elements of the McCain/Palin campaign remain convinced that the key to their last-minute comeback lies in pushing the tenuous relationship between Barack Obama and former Weather Underground founder William Ayers.

One truism of being a documentary filmmaker is that your subjects often continue to make news long after your film has wrapped and is widely seen. Kicking off a new feature here at the blog, Sam Green, the co-director of the Oscar-nominated THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND, writes about Ayers' return to prominence and the mixed feelings it provokes for the director:

Sam Green's statement:

I, like most Obama supporters, have watched with a mixture of apprehension and revulsion as McCain and his VP-pick have ratcheted up their efforts to smear Obama with his tenuous link to Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the Weather Underground. Me and my pal Bill Siegel made a documentary about the Weather Underground a couple of years ago, and we filmed a number of interviews with Bill Ayers. Since that time, he's become a good friend of ours. We took him and Bernardine Dohrn, his wife, with us to the Academy Awards in 2004 when our film was nominated for an Oscar.

So it's hard to see this brouhaha and not feel terrible for the person at the center of it. After his long-ago association with the Weather Underground, Bill Ayers has gone to become a widely known and respected education expert. He's a Distinguished Professor (really, that's his title!) at the University of Illinois and has written more than 10 books. To have all of his work, and what he's about, so publicly misrepresented must be extremely painful. Not to mention the fact that he's received such a torrent of death threats that the University has had to provide him with a bodyguard.

To Read the Rest of the Statement