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'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Over There 

Via Karmalised, here's Justin Raimondo's thoroughly entertaining skewering of Steven Bochco's Over There. I didn't watch the show but am not really surprised by Raimondo's review because I read in, I think, The New Yorker that Bochco claimed his intention was to make a TV series about Iraq that was entirely devoid of politics, which is such an asinine statement that the show just had to come out as sneakily rightwing drivel.

In the passage below Raimondo mentions a theme that you see a lot in Hollywood war movies:

Tying it loosely together is an overarching view of soldiering as an inherently noble and valorizing activity, one that is not necessarily tied to country or ideology. The aesthetic quality of military life that brings out the human capacity for teamwork is underscored in the opening battle scene, as the unit sticks together under enemy fire. Yet these are not unthinking automatons: they disobey orders and spontaneously fire back, even though they've been told to hunker down – while Sergeant Screamer faces down his superior officer by protesting orders that contradict the rules of engagement "and common sense," as the Screamer avers. As if the U.S. military, which decimated Fallujah and is systematically leveling the Sunni Triangle, isn't being aggressive enough. Yeah, that's the real problem, isn't it? After all, we've only killed around 100,000 Iraqis so far – what're we waiting for?

For example, I just watched Apocalypse Now for the first time in a long while and, while I like the movie on aesthetic grounds, Apocalypse Now is a deeply conservative film. The idea that the US military just isn't ruthless enough is pretty much the primary theme of Apocalypse Now. If the US was only willing to go all out in the way that Kurtz was willing to it could have won the Vietnam War but, no, it was too noble, waging such a war would be too immoral, Kurtz had to be killed -- damn that liberal army brass! Seriously, I know the standard take is that it's an antiwar film depicting the horror of war and so forth, but the thing was co-written by John Milius who is a, you know, crazy conservative gun nut.

Anyway, I think Steven Bochco would have been better off doing a remake of his ... umm ... underrated masterpiece, Cop Rock...

Friday, July 29, 2005

Richard Perle: The Movie 

Oh man ... From a piece about PBS being stolen by the right that is a couple of weeks old:

We are now faced with a CPB that will mimic Fox news with its "fair and balanced" theme.

What does that mean? We got our first hint last week. The leading advocate of the Iraqi invasion, Richard Perle, will be featured on the "new" and "balanced" PBS in a made-for-television movie produced by a good friend of Perle, Brian Lapping. Lapping said that Perle is correct that "quite a lot of the preconceptions about neocons are just wrong." And, as he explained in the New York Times, the Perle film will be "mostly a journey, through his life and experiences." It will show Perle, who called journalist Sy Hersh a "terrorist," interacting with his critics who, get this, "say he was overly optimistic about American prospects in Iraq."

[ ... ]

"He's a very gentle performer, a very persuasive performer," said producer Lapping.

Has this thing aired yet?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Harm to Individuals 

Remember about a month ago when I wrote that due to an ACLU FOIA case the Pentagon was about to release additional photos and video of torture at Abu Ghraib? Well, wouldn't you know it, they've decided to refuse to comply. Here's E&P:

So what is shown on the 87 photographs and four videos from Abu Ghraib prison that the Pentagon, in an eleventh hour move, blocked from release this weekend? One clue: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress last year, after viewing a large cache of unreleased images: "I mean, I looked at them last night, and they're hard to believe.” They show acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane," he added.

A Republican Senator suggested the same day they contained scenes of “rape and murder.” No wonder Rumsfeld commented then, "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse."

Yesterday, news emerged that lawyers for the Pentagon had refused to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release dozens of unseen photographs and videos from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by Saturday. The photos were among thousands turned over by the key “whistleblower” in the scandal, Specialist Joseph M. Darby. Just a few that were released to the press sparked the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal last year, and the video images are said to be even more shocking.

The ACLU says that the Pentagon is claiming releasing the material could be harmful to "individuals":

In a letter filed at the eleventh hour, the Department of Defense claims that photographs and videos of abuse that the court had previously ordered redacted for future release "could result in harm to individuals" for reasons that will be set forth in a memorandum and three declarations that the government will file under seal with the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York.

Under the government’s proposal, the documents explaining the government’s reasons for withholding the images of abuse will not be available to the public except in redacted form, and the photographs and videos may never be made public.

The ACLU has expressed skepticism at what appears to be yet another attempt by the government to deny the public critical information about the abuse and torture of prisoners.

Maybe the full letter is clearer but who are these "individuals" the Pentagon is so worried about harming? -- The victims of torture. A lot of harm has already come to them. Must be individuals with names like Bush, Rumsfeld, Feith, Miller, Gonzales, etc.

It is amazing that the Freedom of Information Act even exists. Chomsky, when called upon to defend an assertion he frequently makes, that despite its flaws the US is probably the freest country in the world, often mentions the FOIA, a bit of legislation that contributes deeply to the rights of citizens and that is uniquely American. It is not surprising that this administration feels it can simply ignore it.

Propaganda Follies 

This has been posted elsewhere but if you missed it: (from "'Enemies of humanity' quote raises Iraq PR questions", CNN)

The U.S. military on Sunday said it was looking into how virtually identical quotations ended up in two of its news releases about different insurgent attacks.

Following a car bombing in Baghdad on Sunday, the U.S. military issued a statement with a quotation attributed to an unidentified Iraqi that was virtually identical to a quote reacting to an attack on July 13.

[ ... ]

Following are the two quotes as provided by the U.S. military in news releases:

Sunday's news release said: "'The terrorists are attacking the infrastructure, the ISF and all of Iraq. They are enemies of humanity without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community today and I will now take the fight to the terrorists,' said one Iraqi man who preferred not to be identified."

The July 13 news release said: "'The terrorists are attacking the infrastructure, the children and all of Iraq,' said one Iraqi man who preferred not to be identified. 'They are enemies of humanity without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community today and I will now take the fight to the terrorists.'"



Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Roberts 

I don't have any snappy commentary on the subject of John G. Roberts because I never heard of the guy before. From what I've read he seems to be about what one would expect from this administration.

Regarding the big issue at hand, the AP has dug up some contradictory quotes:

"We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." — Roberts, in a 1991 Supreme Court brief he co-wrote for the first Bush administration, while he was principal deputy solicitor general.

as opposed to

"Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. It's a little more than settled. It was reaffirmed in the face of a challenge that it should be overruled in the Casey decision. Accordingly, it's the settled law of the land. There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent, as well as Casey." — Roberts, during the confirmation hearing, when asked for his own views on Roe v. Wade.

Salon has up the best Roberts primer that I've seen, which isn't saying much: this guy really has a very small footprint within the public record -- I suppose this is the point of choosing Roberts. Here's what the Salon FAQ has to say about the two contradictory quotes above:

Roberts has been involved in two key decisions while arguing on behalf of Republican administrations, both of which pro-choice groups consider attacks on women's reproductive rights.

In Rust v. Sullivan, the then-deputy solicitor general coauthored a brief in support of regulations prohibiting U.S. family planning programs, which get federal aid, from giving any abortion-related counseling. In that brief, he wrote: "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled ... The Court's conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion ... finds no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution." The court upheld those regulations. In another case, involving the Operation Rescue, he coauthored the government's amicus brief supporting the group's right to target clinics, under the First Amendment, arguing that Operation Rescue was not engaged in a conspiracy to deny women equal protection.

But in his confirmation hearing in 2003 to the appeals court, when asked about abortion, Roberts said that the Supreme Court was clear on the matter, and he could uphold it: "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land," he said. "There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent." Whether as a member of the court he would try to change that law remains to be seen.

Not much help there.

Generally, the Salon piece does not paint a picture of a hardcore moral conservative true-believer rather it portrays Roberts as a weaselly partisan conservative careerist, a Republican party stooge, a Bush/Cheney yes-man.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tali Fahima 

Jews sans frontiers reports that Tali Fahima's trial is about to start.

Chavez Over 80% 

Oil Wars, here and here, cites Venezuelan polls that are reporting an 80.5% approval rating for Hugo Chavez. Here's a little of OW's commentary:

The opposition has always made the arguement that Chavez is trying to “buy” support through his social programs and that is what accounts for his high popularity. Yet in this poll only 37.4% say they have personally benefitted from the Missions. When asked if they had family members who had the number rises to 48.8%. So obviously there are a lot of pro-Chavez people who aren’t even involved with his social programs.

There were some other interesting numbers. For examle, 74.3% of Venezuelans believe they live in a democratic country as opposed to 23.4% who don’t. The opposition propogandists sure aren’t doing their job very well. The most favorably viewed institution in the country – the armed forces at 71.8%. And for those who are ideologically inclined 47.9% would prefer that Venezuela had a socialist system against 25.7% that prefer capitalism.

Interesting Times 

I'd just like to say that, for the record, I completely agree with Cockburn's latest but still feel strongly that the current Rove scandal is a very important matter, just as although this is a hard left blog it tacitly supported John "Send in More Troops" Kerry after he became the Democratic nominee last year. The above is not a contradiction and, I believe, is not hypocrisy although I admit that reasonable people may disagree.

In my defense I defer to the implications of the (probably fake) Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times." We are all unfortunately currently living in an interesting time, a time in which the US government has been hijacked by "a bunch of fanatics", to quote Zbig Brzezinski, who is, again, someone who would not be often cited favorably on a blog with "leftist" in its title if this were a saner political era.

Ending Rove's political career, however unlikely, would certainly be a step towards a saner political culture, and so I will write posts about the scandal and generally cheerlead for the rights of the CIA in this particular case. The goal here is to crawl our way back to a more boring dynamic in which traditional targets of leftist criticism such as mainstream Democrats and the CIA will only appear on this blog in their proper roles.

(Oh yeah, and sorry for the light posting and everything lately I've been kind of distracted but am planning to get back into blogging soon...)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Why Did Scott McClellan Lie So Poorly? 

A thread often lost in the details of the Plame affair, a news story about as baroque as these things ever get, is the reason Rove -- I guess we no longer have to say "the leaker" -- was peddling information about Joseph Wilson's wife in the first place.

There were two reasons actually.

The first was pure vindictiveness. Joseph Wilson publicly embarrassed the warmongers by writing in the Times that "some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program" was "twisted" by the Bush administration "to exaggerate the Iraqi threat" -- and his words were implicitly supported by his position as a participant in the intelligence gathering, and therefore, a primary witness to the twisting and exaggerating. For this crime, Rove lashed out at Wilson by way of his wife, who Rove had deemed "fair game", and ended her career as a CIA field agent. This is the story that is usually told, and it's certainly true, but I think commentators tend to place undue emphasis on the revenge motive because it exemplifies so purely the extreme political viciousness that is the Bush administration's modus operandi. John Dean, for example, titled a Salon piece about the Plame affair "More vicious than Tricky Dick" referring, of course, to BushCo.

Besides simply wanting to hurt Wilson, however, Rove shopped around the story for a more rational reason: he wanted to discredit the idea that Cheney and the Whitehouse had anything to do with Wilson's trip to Africa. In his Times piece Wilson wrote

In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake [ ... ] The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.

implying that his trip to Niger was a direct result of Dick Cheney's "questions". It was also widely reported that Cheney had been briefed about Wilson's findings when he returned. Cooper's emails to his bureau chief reveal that Rove was pitching a story attempting to discredit the connection between Cheney and Wilson and to paint Wilson's trip as a smalltime affair that came about due to nepotism. And, indeed, this is the motive that Rove's lawyer is citing to this day; Luskin says Rove's phone call with Cooper "was not an effort to encourage Time to disclose [Plame's] identity. What he was doing was discouraging Time from perpetuating some statements that had been made publicly and weren't true."-- the statements Luskin is referring to are statements implicating Cheney in the genesis of the Niger trip.

Now, here's the thing. This whole question about the teleological status of Wilson's trip -- did it come about because Cheney wanted it or did it come about because Wilson's wife was a CIA agent? -- reduces to a he-said/she-said situation between Joseph Wilson and the Bush administration, and, further, the Bush administration is probably lying. Take this exchange with Rice from 2003 recently posted on the First Draft:

Q Dr. Rice, when did you all find out that the documents were forged?

DR. RICE: Sometime in March, I believe. Is that right?

MR. FLEISCHER: The IAEA reported it.

DR. RICE: The IAEA reported it I believe in March. But I will tell you that, for instance, on Ambassador Wilson's going out to Niger, I learned of that when I was sitting on whatever TV show it was, because that mission was not known to anybody in the White House. And you should ask the Agency at what level it was known in the Agency.

Q When was that TV show, when you learned about it?

DR. RICE: A month ago, about a month ago.

Q Can I ask you about something else?

DR. RICE: Yes. Are you sure you're through with this?

in which Rice seems to be itching to say, "Wilson was sent to Niger by a smalltime CIA agent who happened to be his wife." (to plagiarize an Atrios commenter) Isn't this just a little bit much? -- BushCo has a smoking gun regarding Iraq's attempt to develop nuclear weapons and the National Security Advisor hears about a CIA trip to investigate the smoking gun's authenticity from a TV show? Look, based on our experience watching these people operate over the years, on watching Karl Rove operate, and specifically because of the strictness of the administration's message discipline regarding the genesis of the Niger trip and because of things like the evident desperation in the Rice quote above and the aggressiveness of Rove's multiple phone calls to multiple reporters, it looks to me like this whole line is just a big lie, and, of course, Joseph Wilson has maintained as much all along.

One of the things that amazed me about the revelation that Rove was Matt Cooper's and, presumably, Novak's primary source is the extent to which it proved that McClellan and various spokespeople, including Rove himself, were blatantly lying about Rove's involvement, unartful lying that led to this somewhat life-affirming sight yesterday. I know politicians often lie, but they usually lie indirectly -- nondenial denials, weasel words, etc. Understanding that the entire Bush administration at the time was focused on aggressively lying about the genesis of Wilson's trip provides context that helps explain the inelegance of its lying regarding the burning of Valerie Plame. McClellan was walking a maze of lies at the time -- that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium from Niger; that other evidence supported the reality of this transaction besides the forged documents; that this other evidence was known to British intelligence but couldn't be revealed to the public for security reasons; that even if there wasn't other evidence, Bush didn't know the documents were forged when he made the State of the Union speech that mentioned African uranium, that the Bush administration had nothing to do with Wilson's trip to Africa, etc. Given this context, McClellan's willingness to make statements like

Let me make it very clear. As I said previously, [Karl Rove] was not involved, and that allegation is not true in terms of leaking classified information, nor would he condone it.

probably just indicates that McClellan was too preoccupied with keeping other lies straight to split any hairs regarding Plame.

London 7.7.2005: Questions, Questions, The Power of Nightmares Revisited 

[This post is by guest blogger Richard Estes. Richard lives in Northern California, and co-hosts a radio program, with an emphasis upon peace, civil rights, labor and environmental issues, on KDVS 90.3 FM in Davis, CA.]

Last week, I reviewed The Power of Nightmares from both a political and artistic perspective. Now, the commentary of Adam Curtis, the producer, linked in that review, has the ring of prophecy:

The Power of Nightmares . . . does not say that the Islamist terrorist threat is an illusion. The West does face a deadly threat from groups and individuals inspired by dangerous ideas--the horrific attacks on America and the bombings in Madrid and Bali make this only too clear. But the film also argues that the true nature of this threat has been completely misunderstood by governments, security services, and the international media. It has been distorted and exaggerated to create a vision of a unique threat unlike anything we have faced that justifies extreme countermeasures. This fantasy, which has trapped our leaders and our media, prevents us from comprehending and dealing with the dangers we face. The film tells not only how it was created but also why, and in whose interest.

Indeed, Cui Bono? Curtis inspires this question in regard to the perpetuation of the mythologies associated with the "war on terror", but we must also ask it in regard to the motivation for these attacks and our governments’ responses to them. Since last Thursday, there have been several columns, originating primarily in the UK, and not the US, of course, stating the obvious: that the attacks were launched in response to the invasions and ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Columnists ranging from Faisal Bodi to Robert Fisk to Paul Craig Roberts have engaged in this essential endeavor. One group, the Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe, has already taken responsibility for the attacks with a statement to this effect. Bodi put it most bluntly, "Blair has put us in the firing line", while Fisk asked rhetorically, "If we are fighting an insurgency in Iraq, why are we surprised when insurgency comes to us?"

Predictably, Tariq Ali rightly emphasized the role of perpetual occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel as the drive wheel for Islamic terror. Davey D., on his Hard Knock Radio program on KPFA, had some very interesting interviews with asian and black Londoners. Definitely not what you get on Prime Time Live with Diane Sawyer.

Still, we must persist in asking the question, Cui Bono?, as we look to the events that motivated the attackers. In response to 9/11, Bush said that he invaded Afghanistan to displace the Taliban, eradicate al-Qaida and democratize the country, and, yet, to this day, many high ranking al-Qaida operatives, including Bin Laden himself and Mullah Omar, remain at large. One of the most revealing aspects of Nightmares is the extent to which it examines whether Afghanistan, especially episodes like the combat at Tora Bora, constitutes a kind of "phony war" reminiscent of the western front in Europe in 1939-1940.


Ted Rall strongly believes that the planning for the war in Afghanistan predates 9/11, prompted by a policy to construct an oil pipeline through the country that would enable the US to access Central Asian oil and natural gas without traversing Iran. Afghanistan can readily be seen as a piece in a larger puzzle, whereby US military bases, already spread throughout the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, some of whom possess significant reserves of untapped oil and natural gas, enable the US to achieve broad geopolitical goals, such as control over the development of the Russian and Chinese economies.

As for the war on Iraq, Bush and Blair again struck based upon false pretenses, but, by now, we know that "all of the above" is the correct answer to Curtis’ question. Permanent military bases, control over the oil supply, use of the Iraqi economy as leverage to pressure the entire region to open itself to investment upon neoliberal terms, enhancement of the hegemonic position of the US and Israel, the looting of US and Iraqi public sector funds for a kleptocracy associated with private contractors, all are valid to varying degrees, with squabbling leftists responsible for ascribing the correct percentages. Interestingly, such an interpretation of Iraq and Afghanistan is, as noted noted in my original review, somewhat at odds with Curtis’ view of the "war on terror" because he sees the transformative power of ideas as the centerpiece. For Curtis’ response to the criticism that he has ignored economic and geopolitical dimensions, see his thoughtful answer to the sixth question in this interview.

Currently, there is a fear that the UK, and perhaps even the US, will soon experience more attacks. This is undoubtedly a frightening prospect, but we should also be worried about something even more disturbing, if the number of killed and injured are the sole consideration, the prospect that Bush and Blair will seek to exploit public anger over the London attacks, as they did with 9/11, to justify invading and occupying another country outside the sphere of US influence, inflicting substantial numbers of casualties in the process. By looking around the world, and asking Cui Bono?, we may soon discover the answer to a related question, Who’s Next?

As we do so, we should avoid a serious error. The fact that most people would consider the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan abject failures, regardless of motivation, does not mean that the interests behind these conflicts do. Like real estate speculators, they may have a much longer time frame by which to measure success and failure, and the fact that Iraq and Afghanistan are ungovernable today in 2005 does not mean that they cannot accomplish their goals at some future date, say 2012 or 2015. Hence, current conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan should not be perceived as a restraint against possible impending actions elsewhere. Instead, we need to make our voices heard loudly that the dead and injured in London shall not be exploited like those in the World Trade Center.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Power of Nightmares: Fritz Lang is Dead, Long Live Fritz Lang! 

[This post is by guest blogger Richard Estes. Richard lives in Northern California, and co-hosts a radio program, with an emphasis upon peace, civil rights, labor and environmental issues, on KDVS 90.3 FM in Davis, CA.]

Adam Curtis' recent BBC documentary, The Power of Nightmares, has achieved cult status despite his inability to find a distributor in the United States. It is currently being screened at the Roxie Theatre in San Francisco, and, it will soon hopefully find other independent venues around the country. It is provocative not only as a consequence of its content, but also because of the interpretative challenges that it presents to the audience.

In The Power of Nightmares, Curtis radically reinterprets the political landscape: the "war on terror" is a fraud perpetrated by politicians who rely upon fear to disguise their lack of any optimistic, futuristic vision. He elaborates upon this insight in three one hour episodes, combined into a feature length film,Baby, It's Cold Outside, The Phantom Victory, and Shadows in the Cave.

According to Curtis, American neoconservatism and Islamic fundamentalism represent competing, yet symbiotic, deformed ideologies based upon a shared contempt for the ability of people to govern themselves. They conspire, sometimes consciously, sometimes not, to induce people to believe in the effectiveness of the other to enhance their influence. The willingness of both to deceive the broader public results in them ultimately deceiving themselves, as they did in Afghanistan, with frequently catastrophic consequences for the rest of us.

How is one to relate to such a deconstruction of modern politics and governance? The title itself, The Power of Nightmares, is ambiguous. Is it exposing a grotesque psychological manipulaton or is it just another form of the manipulation that it purports to expose? Does it more skillfully accomplish what it attributes to neoconservatism, the construction of myth in the service of a political ideal? Could it be just a cinematic confection, reducing some of the most traumatic events of the last 50 years into a form of kitsch? Curtis's eclectic storytelling technique, a technique that freely uses archival footage from a variety of media sources to evoke the mood of the historical periods that he surveys, prompts the questions, while making the answers elusive.

If examined substantively, The Power of Nightmares fairs well. Curtis has effectively summarized the evolution of Islamic fundamentalism and American neoconservatism since the end of World War II, with an emphasis upon their pragmatic alliance in Afghanistan, an alliance that emerged out of their hatred of the Soviet Union. Viewers can only be chilled with apprehension, in light of renditions and the use of torture in Iraq and Guantanamo, upon learning that two of the most influential figures in the development of Islamic extremism, Sayyid Qutb and Ayman Zawahiri, advocated resort to extreme violence after being tortured in Egyptian prisons by guards trained by the CIA. Similar to a number of episodes at Abu Ghraib, guards unleased a guard dog upon Qutb after smearing him with animal fat.

Curtis has been criticized for asserting that al-Qaeda doesn't exist. While this is not accurate, anyone interested in commentary upon this aspect of the film and other related issues can read Peter Bergen's excellent, measured evaluation of it and Curtis's explanation of his motivation in making it.

For me, the film's most glaring omissions is the lack of any reference to the neoconservatives in the context of race and economics. Curtis allows Richard Perle and Michael Ledeen to state, without challenge, that the neoconservative movement is driven by the desire to spread democracy. In fact, neoconservatives have consistently demonized people of color whenever they have sought to govern themselves outside the American sphere of influence, democratically or not, as, most recently, in Venezuela. Perle glancingly alludes to it, when he mentions that neoconservatism has revived the legitimacy of evaluating different cultures in the search of ideal social models. Undoubtedly, his model is Eurocentric, but Curtis, given that his subject and critique are, in their own way, Eurocentric, declines to walk through the door that Perle has opened for him.

Such an omission is not surprising. Others, such as Tariq Ali in his 2002 book, The Clash of Fundamentalisms, have already excavated this history, and, furthermore, it would raise the explosive question as to what extent neoconservatism can be said to have an independent existence and influence separate from American policy generally beyond mundane domestic patronage struggles, thus suggesting that neoconservatism, and the ill-defined liberal order that it, according to Curtis, seeks to displace, are themselves mythical, with Curtis complicit in the marketing of them. It is certainly to plausible to see The Power of Nightmares as a psychoanalytical avoidance of Ali's materialistic exposition of this story.

Curtis, like the neoconservatives and the Islamic fundamentalists, is fascinated by the question as to whether people have the capacity to conduct their lives independently, without the assistance of an elite to that controls them through the manipulation of their desires. In this respect, The Power of Nightmares is the logical sequel to his earlier film, The Century of the Self, a documentary that exposes the purported history of how Freudian psychology and modern advertising methods have impaired individual political free will. Curtis, unlike the neoconservatives and the Islamic fundamentalists who have responded negatively, evades answering this essential question, while paradoxically recognizing the susceptibility of people to such manipulation.

Curtis is thus an heir of the legacy of the great German and Hollywood film director, Fritz Lang. Lang, like Curtis, frequently referenced Freudian concepts in his films. In early ones like Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse and M, all produced during the turbulence of the Weimar Republic, he understood that the social transformation associated with rapid urbanization, technological innovation and new forms of communication (in his case, film and radio), created new, alarming prospects for the exploitation of fear as a means of accomplishing political ends, especially in the form of hysterias incited by inflaming public anxiety. Of course, such exploitation can easily burst through the boundaries by which its originators seek to contain it, a danger explicitly given cinematic expression by both of them.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

It's Rove 

Here's a follow up to the previous post. Lawrence O'Donnell on Huffington's blog:

I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's emails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.

McLaughlin is seen in some markets on Friday night, so some websites have picked it up, including Drudge, but I don't expect it to have much impact because McLaughlin is not considered a news show and it will be pre-empted in the big markets on Sunday because of tennis.

Since I revealed the big scoop, I have had it reconfirmed by yet another highly authoritative source. Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week. I know Newsweek is working on an 'It's Rove!' story and will probably break it tomorrow.

Oh, Man 

Well, merry Christmas everyone ... if this turns out to be true:

Now that Time Inc. has turned over documents to federal court, presumably revealing who its reporter, Matt Cooper, identified as his source in the Valerie Plame/CIA case, speculation runs rampant on the name of that source, and what might happen to him or her. Tonight, on the syndicated McLaughlin Group political talk show, Lawrence O'Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, claimed to know that name--and it is, according to him, top White House mastermind Karl Rove.

Here is the transcript of O'Donnell's remarks:

"What we're going to go to now in the next stage, when Matt Cooper's e-mails, within Time Magazine, are handed over to the grand jury, the ultimate revelation, probably within the week of who his source is.

"And I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source of...for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time magazine's going to do with the grand jury."

Here's the thing though -- After Joe Wilson made his famous frog-march quote, didn't he specifically say that it wasn't Rove?

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