Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lewis and Clark Reach the Euphrates

America's most famous advance team gets a little lost.

Cross posted at dKos and My left wing.

After four months of discovering how the state disability insurance program of California works, I'm back at the Mark Taper Forum theater in LA, tech rehearsing Lewis and Clark Reach the Euphrates. The last play I did here was Stuff Happens, which was a critical look at the run up to the Iraq war, featuring Keith Carradine as George Bush. That was back in July and August. Since then, Bush's poll numbers have steadily tanked. While this play isn't as directly critical of the Bush administration, it does explore American interventionist policies in wars based on questionable intelligence, and I'm hoping it will lead us to Bush approval numbers somewhere in Cheney land (end snark). When it comes to actual impact on Bush’s numbers, hopefully there will be many more Lawrence Wilkersons.

Meanwhile, over here on the West Coast, Lewis and Clark, sent by President Jefferson to explore the new Louisiana Purchase, get a little lost in time and space. After trying to entice the Sioux Nation to convert to capitalistic democracy, they stumble into US wars of aggression, starting in Cuba with Teddy Roosevelt and the rough riders, then to the Philippines, where a US commander laments the guerrilla tactics used against the US Army, to Viet Nam, and eventually, Iraq. We're still in tech rehearsals and we just got to Viet Nam, but I've gotten the idea. Throughout US history, leaders have lied to pursue an interventionist, if not outright imperialistic, foreign policy.

There's a lot of comic relief in this play (Lewis and Clark are smoking a joint in Vietnam right now, complaining that it’s the worst tobacco they’ve ever tasted), and it's probably necessary considering the seriousness of the subject matter. I'll be able to get a better feel for it's effectiveness when I see the whole thing at our first preview Thursday. What I've seen so far is intriguing, if only for its ambition. Taking these two American icons into the future they helped create is an adventurous way to compare and contrast the early American vision of expansion with the corporate military industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about.

Lewis and Clark are, to say the least, confused. But their views of the role of the American Philosophy actually fit into every time and place. Their denial of their predicaments is eerily reminiscent of Bush administration’s insistence that everything will be OK. Their superiority, politely expressed as conviction that everyone would want to be like America, inadvertently insults or unconsciously instills confidence, depending on whether they’re dealing with Native Americans, a black slave, Teddy Roosevelt, Army commanders in the Philippines, a CIA agent in Vietnam, or when they finally reach the Euphrates. The point, it seems, is that they might actually fit into any American adventure, and that's a scary thought.

While the fear of an enemy hasn't changed much over the centuries, our knowledge, or at least our potential to learn about an enemy, has. In Lewis and Clark's day, America was a little country, afraid of the superpowers of the day. Even in Roosevelt's day, America was still limited in what it could know about the rest of the world, in the diplomatic and military sense. It was extremely difficult for us to find out about the world, especially with the likes of William Randolph Hearst practicing yellow journalism. But as we move into Vietnam and Iraq, we have become a huge power with the ability, if not the balls, to find out the truth about our supposed enemies, And the thread of powerful people ignoring facts, or generating lies, for profit, runs as clear as an 1806 river through time, from Hearst's yellow journalism whipping up “humanitarian” enthusiasm for the Spanish American war, to the gulf of Tonkin fiasco furthering our involvement in Vietnam, to the fact that as late as October of 2004, Seventy-five percent of Bush supporters said they believed that Iraq was providing "substantial" support to al Qaeda.

Maybe this is something every generation has to learn for itself, the hard way. Perhaps even the greatest generation, if not threatened with an actual threat, would have allowed someone in power to manufacture one. But maybe, just maybe, if we write about it, create plays about it, film movies about it, and tell our kids about it, perhaps a generation soon will figure out how to avoid these messy, expensive frauds we let these egomaniacal plutocrats get us into.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Hey, Bill O'Reilly, come on over to my house...

O'Reilly Blasted for Coit Tower Comments

Bill O'Reilly:

"If al-Qaida comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."

John Hanley, president of the San Francisco Firefighter's Union Local 798:

"Coit Tower is a monument to the bravery of the men and women of the San Francisco Fire Department. When Bill O'Reilly makes an attack on Coit Tower, he's attacking us and our bravery. Mr. O'Reilly, maybe we should bring you into some of our burning buildings and see how brave you are."

Bill O'Reilly Enemies List - Sign Up Tonight

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bush: Please come campaign for Arnold next year...

I mean think about it, other than the war in Iraq, the Katrina disaster, the deficit, the CIA leak, torture, stopping stem cell research, homeland security, global warming, and undercutting science, we've yet to really feel the negative effects of the Bush administration. -- Bill Maher
In Ohio, the Republican party used Diebold and discrimination at the polls to beat back the Reform Ohio proposals. Big suprise. In NYC, a liberal billionaire got re-elected as Mayor, but he is a Republican, so that was a win. In Texas, the red-neck right passed an anti-gay-marriage bill that is going to make all marriages illegal.

Other than that, the negative effects of the Bush administration were felt far and wide yesterday, when Democrats won two governorships, beat a traitor from their party for Mayor of St. Paul, beat an anti-gay marriage proposal in Maine, a crazy anti-tax proposal in Washington, and all of Arnold's $60 million dollars worth of idiocy.

On to '06.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Millions of deaths at BushCo's feet

I've seen arguments about why we shouldn't compare Bush to Hitler, and I agree with Bill Maher. We shouldn't do that because Hitler was a decorated soldier who fought on the front lines. But, generally, I think comparisons to Hitler make the left look a little loony, unless, of course, we carefully explain why we're making the comparison.

The environmental damage being done by the Bush administration will, in the long run, cause more deaths than the Nazis ever dreamed of.

Raping the world for the sake of corporate profit is the name of the BushCo game. Be it war, drilling, mining, logging, anti-environmental trade pacts, killing environmental treaties, not cleaning up Super Fund sites, or gutting rules and regulations meant to conserve and protect the natural world, these vicious thugs are seriously screwing up the planet, and it's going to kill many millions of people. Lung diseases, cancers, starvation, unsanitary and polluted water supplies, you name it -- the BushCo is doing everything they can to maximize profits at the cost of people's lives everywhere.

And this isn't like the "collateral damage" of 100,000 dead civilians in Iraq. The BushCo PR agents can't say, well, we honestly try to minimize the damage done by global warming. Hell, until very recently, the denied it was even happening. And it wasn't until very, very recently that Bush admitted that humans are causing climate change. But has he done anything about it, aside from some lame us suggestion that we conserve more energy?

Climate change is just a small part of the picture. Through globalization, the process that allows Bush friends to spread environmental harm to third world countries, the deaths are really piling up. From e-waste to strip mining, from clear cutting to industrial sludge, BushCo makes sure that third world countries do whatever they have to do to their environments and their citizens to pay off the debts they've accrued from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and countless other capitalist sources for economic invasions of third world countries.

By stripping these countries of their natural resources and forcing them to privatize their public utilities, the Global robber barons ensure that the poor people of these countries will remain poor, further expanding the corporate sponsored economic cleansing of millions of people who do not contribute to their bottom line. From Monsanto's global proprietary seed campaign to deforestation of the Brazillian rain forest, the BushCo lead in viral irresponsible capitalism has opened the door for global conglomerates to do whatever they want, to whomever they want, with no threat of repercussions or criminal investigations. Enron was just the beginning of a perverted type of corporate accounting that is, to put it bluntly, completely unaccountable.

Cross-posted at the Daily KOS.