Letterman vs O’Reilly….Again!

October 28, 2006

“Culture Warrior” Bill O’Reilly visits the Letterman show once again and blabbers the same old BS to justify the war on Iraq……. Sadaam Hussein killed alot of Iraqis, 9-11, Al-Qaeda, etc….

As usual Letterman has the best lines.

“I keep turning on FOX and all I get is The Simpsons”

LOL !!!


The Anti-Empire Report – October 19

October 28, 2006

The Anti-Empire Report

Some things you need to know before the world ends

October 19, 2006
by William Blum

The jingo bells are ringing

“Who really poses the greatest danger to world peace: Iraq, North Korea or the United States?” asked Time magazine in an online poll in early 2003, shortly before the US invasion of Iraq. The final results were: North Korea 6.7%, Iraq 6.3%, the United States 86.9%; 706,842 total votes cast.

Imagine that following North Korea’s recent underground nuclear test neither the United States nor any other government cried out that the sky was falling. No threat to world peace and security was declared by the White House or any other house. It was thus not the lead story on every radio and TV broadcast and newspaper page one. The UN Security Council did not unanimously condemn it. Nor did NATO. “What should we do about him?” was not America Online’s plaintive all-day headline alongside a photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Who would have known about the explosion, even if it wasn’t baby-sized? Who would have cared? But because all this fear mongering did in fact take place, http://www.vote.com was able to pose the question — “North Korea’s Nuclear Threat: Is It Time For An International Economic Blockade To Make Them Stop?” — and hence compile a 93% “yes” vote. It doesn’t actually take too much to win hearts and mindless.

Media pundit Ben Bagdikian once wrote: “While it is impossible for the media to tell the population what to think, they do tell the public what to think about.” So sometime in the future, the world might, or might not, have nine states possessing nuclear weapons instead of eight. So what? Do you know of all the scary warnings the United States issued about a nuclear-armed Soviet Union? A nuclear-armed China?

And the non-warnings about a nuclear-armed Israel? There were no scary warnings or threats against ally Pakistan for the nuclear-development aid it gave to North Korea a few years ago, and Washington has been busy this year enhancing the nuclear arsenal of India, events which the world has paid little attention to, because the United States did not mount a campaign to tell the world to worry.

There’s still only one country that’s used nuclear weapons on other people, but we’re not given any warnings about them.



Native Sons

October 27, 2006

Their names are Rodriguez, Smitty and Jones
Mortillo and Toby and Nick
All are our native sons, all caught up in the war
that they say will never end
Only flag draped flights back to their homes
or in hospitals laying in beds

Some are against the war while others just think that way
everyday a brother dies, a chopper takes him away,
leaving a space where he used to be,
wondering who will be next

Everything is crazy here, it’s getting easier to hate,
how did they allow themselves to get into this darkness,
with death all around and living on the edge,
the recruiters said nothing about this

There is metal flying here up in the air,
metal flying sideways and down in the ground,
car bombs all around like ten tornados all day

A cut off boy’s hand is now stuck on a wall
as if saying “please won’t you stop”
A lady’s blue scarf lay in her red blood
in a white wash war the bombs bursting in air
Iraqi fake policemen dying for a job,
Iraqi fake soldiers too.

America you are not so beautiful anymore,
hear us, we are your native sons

We will defend everyone but this is not right,
this is just dust to dust all of the time
Everybody killing everybody
because someone is different, doesn’t make sense anymore.

As in a thousand wars, there are so many gods,
don’t even know who to pray to
One lives in a white house,
others spit fire in a satanic hex
Others chew on their tongues all day in congress,
but nobody goes home dead

Their names are RodrIguez, Smitty and Jones,
Mortillo, Watada and Toby and Nick
If the war don’t stop, then they will stop it
like what happened in Vietnam

They will not fight for empire and money,
God doesn’t Bless America like this

Americans, you can keep your faded yellow ribbons
on your cars and trucks and on your foreheads
Even your faded flag decals are nothing to be proud of,
there are too many dying and too many dead

– Dennis Serdel, Vietnam Veteran 1967-1968, Light Infantry, Americal Div. 11th Brigade, purple heart

The Departed

October 23, 2006

Saw it tonight. Really disappointing.

Mob movie, directed by Martin Scorsese. Expected alot more.

Jack Nicholson does a great job of playing himself, providing comic relief as always but is hardly believable as the crime boss Frank Costello. To say he was miscast is a huge understatement.

The first half of the movie is a snooze fest and not even the second half of it leading into the finale with some good twists and turns, rescues the movie from being an average suspense thriller.

One of the few highlights of the movie was Leonardo DiCaprio, who is outstanding as Billy Costigan, the undercover cop who infiltrates the crime gang headed by Nicholson. DiCaprio’s pretty boy image has hurt his credibility as a serious actor. This movie should change that.

Martin Sheen gives a superb performance as usual as police captain Oliver Queenan. Sadly though, he does not get too much screen time, he should have played a much larger part in the movie. A really poor decision to give more attention to Nicholson’s sidekick/enforcer character(I forget his name) who contributed very little instead of developing Sheen’s role in the movie.

A director of Scorsese’s stature can and must do better. Hopefully he’ll regain his touch soon because with The Departed, he’s unleashed his third turkey in a row.

Where Have All The Black Soldiers Gone?

October 22, 2006

So Clint Eastwood decided to write blacks out of history in his new critically acclaimed movie about the famous WW II photo and the story behind it. In the movie there are no black soldiers to be seen anywhere even though in the real battle of Iwo Jima there were nearly 900 that participated. Was it an unintentional oversight on Eastwood’s part? No, it’s a continuation of an old tradition in American cinema.

Where have all the black soldiers gone?

African-Americans written out of Pacific war in Clint Eastwood’s new film, veterans say

Dan Glaister in Los Angeles

On February 19 1945 Thomas McPhatter found himself on a landing craft heading toward the beach on Iwo Jima.

“There were bodies bobbing up all around, all these dead men,” said the former US marine, now 83 and living in San Diego. “Then we were crawling on our bellies and moving up the beach. I jumped in a foxhole and there was a young white marine holding his family pictures. He had been hit by shrapnel, he was bleeding from the ears, nose and mouth. It frightened me. The only thing I could do was lie there and repeat the Lord’s prayer, over and over and over.”

Sadly, Sgt McPhatter’s experience is not mirrored in Flags of Our Fathers, Clint Eastwood’s big-budget, Oscar-tipped film of the battle for the Japanese island that opened on Friday in the US. While the film’s battle scenes show scores of young soldiers in combat, none of them are African-American. Yet almost 900 African-American troops took part in the battle of Iwo Jima, including Sgt McPhatter.

The film tells the story of the raising of the stars and stripes over Mount Suribachi at the tip of the island. The moment was captured in a photograph that became a symbol of the US war effort. Eastwood’s film follows the marines in the picture, including the Native American Ira Hayes, as they were removed from combat operations to promote the sale of government war bonds.

Mr McPhatter, who went on to serve in Vietnam and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander in the US navy, even had a part in the raising of the flag. “The man who put the first flag up on Iwo Jima got a piece of pipe from me to put the flag up on,” he says. That, too, is absent from the film.

“Of all the movies that have been made of Iwo Jima, you never see a black face,” said Mr McPhatter. “This is the last straw. I feel like I’ve been denied, I’ve been insulted, I’ve been mistreated. But what can you do? We still have a strong underlying force in my country of rabid racism.”

Melton McLaurin, author of the forthcoming The Marines of Montford Point and an accompanying documentary to be released in February, says that there were hundreds of black soldiers on Iwo Jima from the first day of the 35-day battle. Although most of the black marine units were assigned ammunition and supply roles, the chaos of the landing soon undermined the battle plan.

“When they first hit the beach the resistance was so fierce that they weren’t shifting ammunition, they were firing their rifles,” said Dr McLaurin.

The failure to transfer the active role played by African-Americans at Iwo Jima to the big screen does not surprise him. “One of the marines I interviewed said that the people who were filming newsreel footage on Iwo Jima deliberately turned their cameras away when black folks came by. Blacks are not surprised at all when they see movies set where black troops were engaged and never show on the screen. I would like to say that it was from ignorance but anybody can do research and come up with books about African-Americans in world war two. I think it has to do with box office and what producers of movies think Americans really want to see.”



Saxophone Colossus Strides Into a New Life

October 22, 2006

Good article in today’s Times on a true music legend. One of the few jazz greats still with us and still going strong. The last time I saw Sonny perform was at the summer stage in Lincoln Center. It was a year before 9-11.

Saxophone Colossus Strides Into a New Life


GERMANTOWN, N.Y. — Until recently, Sonny Rollins practiced his tenor saxophone in a cottage studio a short, loping distance from his house here, on the rustic property he and his wife, Lucille, bought nearly 35 years ago. Mr. Rollins, who has long been lionized, partly for his intense, solitary practicing — or woodshedding, in jazz argot — would often work in the cottage past nightfall. At the house, his wife would turn on the porch light so he could find his way back through the dark.

Lucille Rollins died not quite two years ago, and Mr. Rollins initially turned to his regimen for solace. “So I came out here a few times,” he said in his studio one recent afternoon, “and then I looked, and there was no light on the porch. It just kind of highlighted that, well, there’s nobody there now.” These days, he practices in the house.

Mr. Rollins has faced many more changes since the death of his wife, who scrupulously managed his business affairs for more than 30 years. Last year he fulfilled his recording contract with Milestone, and instead of renewing it, he formed his own label, Doxy Records, through which he is releasing his strongest studio album in a decade or more, “Sonny, Please.” And while the album has been licensed to Universal, which plans to distribute a digital version next month and a CD in January, it has quietly been available for several months, along with other merchandise and free audio and video clips, at sonnyrollins.com. For Mr. Rollins, who turned 76 six weeks ago, this has all been new terrain.

As an elder statesman, Mr. Rollins is aware of the emblematic impact of his decision to abandon the traditional recording-industry model, though he plays down that impact. “This is where the business is going,” he said. “I hate technology myself, but that aside, one of the good things technology has done is allowed guys to use the Internet and sell their own product. I think this is inevitable.”

A certain amount of faith accompanies that claim, given that Mr. Rollins does not own a computer. He consented to a Web site at the urging of the trombonist Clifton Anderson, his nephew and a longtime member of his band. Through the recommendation of Terri Hinte, the former director of publicity at Fantasy, Milestone’s parent company, Mr. Anderson enlisted as Web producer an entrepreneur, Bret Primack, who first met Mr. Rollins in the 1970’s.

Mr. Primack unveiled sonnyrollins.com on Mr. Rollins’s 75th birthday; he says the site has logged 250,000 visitors from 95 countries. Last month Mr. Primack assembled some streaming video clips of Mr. Rollins in concert, provided by a collector, Hal Miller. (They were up for one week, but most of them can still be found on YouTube.) Periodically Mr. Primack sends Mr. Rollins the comments from his guest book, which Mr. Anderson credits with helping to ease his grief.

Still, seclusion suits Mr. Rollins, who moved more than 100 miles north of New York City, he said, “because Lucille and I wanted to be away from people.” Answering a knock at the door of his house, he wore a hooded sweatshirt; a radio inside blared baseball playoff chatter. (A Yankees fan during his youth in Harlem, Mr. Rollins grew disillusioned some years ago with what he called “the mercenary nature of the team,” and has since rooted for the Mets.)

For the brief walk from the house to the cottage — past an actual woodshed, appropriately enough — Mr. Rollins pulled on snow boots and a ski jacket, though it was a warm and cloudless day.

Mr. Rollins stomachs but does not savor his extramusical duties. “Releasing this record and dealing with lawyers and this whole thing, that’s a very difficult thing that I have had to do,” he said. He has also had to approve decisions regarding concerts and promotions. “So that brings me into the picture more than I’d want to be,” he said, “but there’s no choice.”

He was painting a picture in stark contrast to what he wistfully remembered as “a perfect existence,” in which Mrs. Rollins handled everything but the music. Partly to fill that void, Mr. Rollins has gathered an inner circle of Mr. Anderson, Ms. Hinte and Mr. Primack. (His agent, Ted Kurland, occupies a concentric outer circle, along with his recording engineer, Richard Corsello, and his tour manager, Peter Downey.)

At times this team has knowingly crossed boundaries established by Mrs. Rollins. The most prominent example is “Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert,” the album with which Mr. Rollins fulfilled his obligation last year to Milestone and the Concord Music Group, which acquired Fantasy in 2004. The album was a bootleg: the man who recorded it, an avid jazz collector named Carl Smith, had previously offered it to the label at no charge. But Mrs. Rollins would brook no exception to her policy of condemning illicit taping.

“Lucille was adamant about shutting that door and keeping it shut,” Ms. Hinte said, “and Sonny was not.”

When the album was finally issued, its back story — involving a concert in Boston just four days after Mr. Rollins had evacuated his apartment near the World Trade Center — helped make it a success. Mr. Rollins was voted artist of the year in two critics’ polls, and he won a Grammy Award, only the second of his career.

“Sonny, Please,” recorded in a New York studio one month after Mr. Rollins and his band had finished a Japanese tour, has a less dramatic provenance. (Its title is derived from an expression of exasperation frequently used by Mrs. Rollins.) But it is a noteworthy achievement, at least to anyone intimately acquainted with Mr. Rollins’s working habits.

“He’s the foremost living example of someone who is always much too hard on themselves in the studio,” said Orrin Keepnews, who produced many of Mr. Rollins’s records over the years, beginning in the mid-1950’s. “When I worked with Sonny,” Mr. Keepnews said from his home near Berkeley, Calif., “he refused to get involved with mixing. As intensely self-critical as he is, he has obviously crossed into an area where he can handle that now, which is a big step.”

Mr. Rollins still describes listening to his own playing as “an excruciating experience.” But because his wife is gone, and he trusts no one else to edit his albums, the task is his. While recording “Sonny, Please,” he went into the engineer’s booth to listen to playbacks, something he had rarely done before.

Of course, he had some gentle encouragement. “We were all trying to make this record more comfortable for him,” said Mr. Anderson, who is credited as the album’s producer; he was referring to the band, which also comprises the bassist Bob Cranshaw, the guitarist Bobby Broom, the drummer Steve Jordan and the percussionist Kimati Dinizulu. “We’re committed to making the music the best vehicle for Sonny to be able to express himself. A lot of critics say that the band is just there for Sonny, and that’s true: we’re there for Sonny.”

Viewed from one perspective, that’s a purely comforting thought; from another, it might seem terribly lonely. Mr. Rollins suggested that it might be both.

“When I play, I have a lot of responsibility,” he said. “The band has to sound good, and I’ve got to sort of bring the band together by what I do.” He admitted to feeling an increasing burden of expectation over the years, partly self-inflicted and partly a product of his stature.

It is a heavy load for any artist, even if someone else programs his Web site. Thankfully there exists that elusive, unforced moment, in the course of some pressing improvisation, when inspiration strikes, and the weight, however briefly, disappears.

“Oh, sure,” Mr. Rollins said, brightening at the thought of that possibility. “If something like that happens, everything is fine.”


October 16, 2006

“This I believe: That the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual”

– John Steinbeck

“We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary”

-Malcolm X

“The most violent element in society is ignorance”

– Emma Goldman

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

– Rudyard Kipling

“Each of the Iraqi children killed by the United States was our child. Each of the prisoners tortured in Abu Ghraib was our comrade. Each of their screams was ours. When they were humiliated, we were humiliated. The U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq – mostly volunteers in a poverty draft from small towns and poor urban neighborhoods – are victims just as much as the Iraqis of the same horrendous process, which asks them to die for a victory that will never be theirs”

– Arundhati Roy

“Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth — more than ruin — more even than death…. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man”

– Bertrand Russell

“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are people who want crops without plowing the ground. They want the rain without the awful roar of the thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. Without struggle, there is no progress. This struggle might be a moral one. It might be a physical one. It might be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will”

– Frederick Douglass

“Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose…….They have always taught and trained you to believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people……It is the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices…..The working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both”

– Eugene Debs

“Each word has an echo. So does each silence”

– Jean-Paul Sartre

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

– Jack London

“While there is a lower class I am in it; while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free”

– Eugene Debs

“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am – my faith, my knowledge, my being. When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people. I think music can make the world better. A musical language transcends words. I want to speak to their souls”

– John Coltrane

I believe in living
I believe in the spectrum
of Beta days and Gamma people

I believe in sunshine
in windmills and waterfalls,
tricycles and rocking chairs;
And i believe that seeds grow into sprouts
And sprouts grow into trees

I believe in the magic of the hands
and in the wisdom of the eyes
I believe in rain and tears
and in the blood of infinity

I believe in life
and i have seen the death parade
march through the torso of the earth,
sculpting mud bodies in its path
I have seen the destruction of the daylight
and seen bloodthirsty maggots
prayed to and saluted

I have seen the kind become the blind
and the blind become the kind
in one easy lesson
I have walked on cut grass
I have eaten crow and blunder bread
and breathed the stench of indifference

I have been locked by the lawless
Handcuffed by the haters
Gagged by the greedy
And, if i know anything at all,
it’s that a wall is just a wall
and nothing more at all
It can be broken down

I believe in living
I believe in birth
I believe in the sweat of love
and in the fire of truth

And i believe that a lost ship,
steered by tired, seasick sailors,
can still be guided home to port

– Assata Shakur

Gillo Pontecorvo, 86, Director of “Battle Of Algiers”, Dies

October 14, 2006

The Battle of Algiers was one of the first political films I ever saw. It had a profound effect on me at the time. Looking back on it now it is even more striking to contemplate the themes of the movie and how closely it parallels the war in Iraq.

In the movie, the French colonizers occupy Algeria and systematically torture and kill countless of innocent Algerians. The French military’s attitude towards the native people was that they were less than human therefore justifying all the barbaric acts they went on to commit.

The inhumanity of their actions is at the center of the movie but so is the Algerians right to resist occupation and defend their country from an invading foreign army.

Pontecorvo made that his main political argument and in doing so shaped the movie with a clarity and moral force that still resonates today. In the process creating a work, that like all great art, is deeply moving and timeless.

Not long into the movie the Algerian resistance movement is organized and begin their struggle against the French military and their collaborators in the local police, responding to their brutality by fighting fire with fire, implementing different tactics and by using all means at their disposal.

The Pentagon actually used the film for military training in preparation for the war and occupation of Iraq.

Unfortunately, none of the Generals and geniuses in the Defense Department seemed to have learned much from this brilliant and courageous movie.

Here We Go

October 13, 2006

I’ve finally given in and joined the blogosphere.