Archive for May, 2007

Memorializing the Deadly Myth of John Wayne

May 30, 2007


Ed Rampell and Luis I. Reyes

This Memorial Day is the centennial of John Wayne, born May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa. The 2007 Harris poll of America’s favorite movie stars places the Duke at No. 3. A remarkable ranking, considering Wayne’s last picture was 1976’s “The Shootist” and he died 28 years ago.

Wayne, who didn’t win an Oscar until late in a six-decades-long career, is Hollywood’s most underrated actor. He was arguably a better actor than the fellow Midwesterner and two-time Oscar winner to whom he is often compared, Marlon Brando, the Method actor who played antisocial misfits in films ranging from the 1954 biker flick “The Wild One” to 1973’s sexually charged “Last Tango in Paris,” which critic Pauline Kael called “the movie breakthrough” that “altered the face of an art form.” If Wayne portrayed the strong, silent type in films such as 1952’s “A Quiet Man,” Brando was known for bellowing “Stella!” in 1951’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

In private life, Brando was a troubled, angry loner, much like the characters he often portrayed. Wayne’s motion picture persona is associated with cowboys and soldiers. In fact, he was neither.

Wayne was full of contradictions. Although the star of countless Westerns such as John Ford’s 1939 “Stagecoach” and 1953’s “Hondo” owned a ranch, the Duke “didn’t particularly like horses and preferred suits and tuxedos to chaps, jeans and boots,” according to his son, Michael Wayne. The prototypical cowpoke also favored the sea over the prairie.

While many of his contemporaries, including Henry Fonda, Clark Gable and Ronald Reagan, served in the armed forces during World War II, the lead in such wartime sagas as 1945’s “They Were Expendable,” 1948’s “Fort Apache” and 1968’s “The Green Berets” did not. Wayne was not only missing in action during the 1940s’ liberation of the Philippines and Europe, he wasn’t a cavalry officer, a Vietnam commando or a Leatherneck—flying or otherwise—for he was never in the military.

According to Gary Wills’ book “John Wayne’s America,” the man who portrayed the archetypal, battle-hardened Marine, Sgt. Stryker, in 1949’s “The Sands of Iwo Jima,” actually avoided the draft during WWII. Wills contends that the Duke did not reply to letters from the Selective Service system, and applied for deferments. Apparently, Wayne—who had sought stardom during years of B-pictures following Raoul Walsh’s 1930 frontier drama “The Big Trail”—got his big break during the struggle against fascism when many Hollywood action heroes like Tyrone Power enlisted and shipped out more

Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant shit to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Mother fuck him and John Wayne
Cause I’m Black and I’m proud
I’m ready and hyped plus I’m amped
Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps
Sample a look back you look and find
Nothing but rednecks for 400 years if you check
Don’t worry be happy
Was a number one jam
Damn if I say it you can slap me right here
(Get it) lets get this party started right
Right on, c’mon
What we got to say
Power to the people no delay
To make everybody see
In order to fight the powers that be

(Fight the Power)


Whatever happened to Ahmed Chalabi? (the man whose lies about WMDs took us to war)

May 30, 2007



Whatever happened to Ahmed Chalabi? (the man whose lies about WMDs took us to war)

He is the great survivor of Iraqi politics, still flexing his muscles in the wreckage of Baghdad despite the infamous part he played in the ill-fated US invasion. Patrick Cockburn caught up with him

Published: 16 May 2007



Ahmed Chalabi stands on the bank of the Tigris river within easy sniper range of the opposite side and surveys the twisted steel girders of the al-Sarafiyah bridge in Baghdad, its central spans torn apart by a massive truck bomb last month. The force of the blast impresses him. “I am surprised that the explosion managed to bring down three spans,” he says as he looks at the wreckage.

It is a placid enough scene but nothing in Baghdad is truly safe. I supposed that Mr Chalabi’s numerous and heavily armed police and army guards knew their business but I was hoping that we would not dawdle too long. The al-Sarafiyah bridge, once one of the sights of Baghdad, connected the Shia district where we were standing with Wazzariyah, where there had been clashes with Sunni insurgents. I selected a reassuringly vast concrete plinth of the bridge to dodge behind if there was any shooting.

Conspicuous in a dark business suit, Mr Chalabi seemed uncaring about our possible vulnerability to hostile fire and was talking with some of the men in charge of rebuilding the bridge. There were no signs of reconstruction. He stepped into a small, dark, river police patrol boat which circled below the bridge for a few moments. Returning to the bank he remarked that one of the policemen on the boat had told him that “five out of 16 river policemen in his unit had been killed”. “Snipers at Taji,” one of his aides commented. As for the bridge, Mr Chalabi said reconstruction was “very slow – they should be working now”.

Democrats and Republicans, the old good cop bad cop (who really controls things?)

May 29, 2007


Iron law of oligarchy

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The iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German syndicalist sociologist Robert Michels in his 1911 book, Political Parties. It states that all forms of organization, regardless of how democratic or autocratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably develop into oligarchies. The reasons for this are the technical indispensability of leadership, the tendency of the leaders to organize themselves and to consolidate their interests; the gratitude of the led towards the leaders, and the general immobility and passivity of the masses.

Essex girl fills White House race with lurve (hottest potential first lady)

May 22, 2007



Elizabeth, 6ft, towers over her congressman husband Dennis




Elizabeth, 6ft, towers over her congressman husband Dennis

AN Essex girl may be the first lady with a tongue stud to have set her sights on the White House. The wife of Dennis Kucinich, a left-wing Democratic congressman and 2008 presidential candidate, is a 29-year-old hippie chick from Upminster at the end of London Underground’s District line.

Elizabeth Kucinich, née Harper, has been on the stump with her husband, a 60-year-old anti-war campaigner from Cleveland, Ohio, mingling with the likes of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama backstage at the Democratic presidential debates. “There’s a kind of camaraderie,” she said.

A 6ft tall willowy redhead who has been compared to Arwen Evenstar, the Lord of the Rings character, she towers over her diminutive husband. “Who cares?” she said in an interview. “I like wearing high heels so I’m used to being taller than most men I stand next to.”

Nor is she bothered by their 31-year age difference. “I have never noticed it at all,” she said. “Dennis is a very mature but young-at-heart gentleman and we complement each other.


The second coming of Saladin

May 19, 2007


The second coming of Saladin
By Pepe Escobar

The best lack all conviction
While the worst are full of passionate intensity.
– W B Yeats, The Second Coming

DAMASCUS – The discreet green-and-white tomb of the greatest warrior of Islam, Saladin – by the splendid Ummayad Mosque in

the former seat of the caliphate – may be the ideal place to meditate on if, where and when Islam may be shaken again by the advent of a new Saladin, nine centuries after the illustrious deeds of the great Muslim general.Saddam Hussein, not least because he was also from Tikrit (although Saladin was a Kurd), fashioned himself as the genuine article – fighting (twice) the infidel Christian armies of the US. He is now no more than a martyr for a minority. Osama bin Laden carefully fashioned his iconography as a cross between Saladin, Che Guevara and the Prophet Mohammed. But as in the immortal line in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, “his methods are unsound”; despite the marketing success in the expansion of the al-Qaeda brand, bin Laden will never be able to capture the collective conscious of the ummah.

The new Saladin might be the son of a Palestinian refugee victim of the Nakhba (“catastrophe”) 59 years ago. He might be a computer wizard too sophisticated to be tempted by al-Qaeda’s Salafi-jihadism. He might be an angry young man straight out of the “sanctions generation” in Iraq – deprived of everything while he was growing up, courtesy of the “international community”.

He won’t be a tourism developer in Dubai, self-styled “city of captivating contrasts” (between the Western/Arab business elites and the South Asian slaves, maybe?). He won’t be the pampered son of the Sunni business aristocracy in Damascus showing off his Porsche Cayenne. He won’t be a billionaire international playboy posing as politician a la Saad Hariri in Beirut. He won’t be a gas-dealing executive in gas nirvana Qatar.

Will Al Gore face his inconvenient truths about our stolen elections?

May 19, 2007


by Harvey Wasserman | May 18 2007 – 10:39am |  permalink
article tools: email | print | read more Harvey Wasserman
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

Al Gore has just made his second major contribution to our national political dialog.

His first, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has helped make the perils of global warming real to the American mainstream.

Now his “Assault on Reason” is excerpted in Time Magazine. With it he paints a compelling portrait of a democracy being obliterated by money and television.

The content is very much on point. But the former Vice-President must finally face the huge personal responsibility he bears for much of the problem.

First, he was an important party to the complex but catastrophic Telecommunications Act of 1996. This Clinton-era corporate goodie bag enabled a huge spike in the monopolization of the electronic media Gore now decries.

To fight the problem, Gore should now become an active agent in reversing that horrific pro-monopoly give-away. He could fight to re-establish meaningful pluralistic media ownership and public access, and for reviving both the Fairness Doctrine and Equal Time Provision, which once guaranteed balance in media content.

Second, Gore was victim of the theft of the election of 2000, but he also enabled it. In the entire history of the United States, few events have more deeply damaged our democracy than the stolen Florida vote count and warped Electoral College outcome that followed.

The Electoral College was ostensibly designed at the 1787 Constitutional Convention to protect the rights of small states. But it also facilitated the ability of slaveowners to cast 3/5ths of a vote for each of their chattel. There are few more destructive monuments to electoral cynicism. Gore would be a welcome ally in finally ridding ourselves of this historic obscenity. After all, he won by half a million popular votes and “lost” the election.

That Gore was victimized in 2000 was largely his own fault. Amidst the carefully choreographed chaos of the Florida 2000 vote count, the Gore campaign inexplicably asked for a recount only in four counties, rather than statewide. This was a miscalculation of epic proportions. In recent years it’s been proven that Gore did win the legitimate Florida statewide vote count, and would have prevailed with a full and honest recount.

The Florida 2000 recount was sabotaged by Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris, as J. Kenneth Blackwell did again in Ohio 2004. In both cases, a very sophisticated GOP apparatus aided by key technicians from partisan voting machine companies, has been bound and determined to steal the presidency at any cost.

Gore’s actions on the 2000 recount might be discounted as a stategic failure.

But they were followed by something much much worse. In January, 2001, the Black Caucus of the US House demanded a Congressional dialogue on the seating of the Florida delegation to the Electoral College. This procedure had been established in 1887, in response to the stolen election of 1876. It required the signature of one Representative and one Senator.

Tragically, Gore prevented this from happening. As the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress gathered to ratify the election, Gore repeatedly gaveled down those Representatives demanding a discussion of the theft of Florida’s decisive electoral votes. This very ugly, politically catastrophic moment is forever memorialized in Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11.

Staff from the office of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone have said Gore told those Senators inclined to join in that he would not recognize them if they tried. Senator Hillary Clinton told the Free Press Editor that Gore “begged” her not to sign on to such a challenge.

The result: there was no Congressional challenge on the theft of the election of 2000. Ironically, with Dick Cheney presiding over Congress, there was indeed such a session on the stolen election of 2004, facilitated by Sen. Harry Reid. But following the cave-in of 2000, it again lacked the full weight of the Democratic Party and its presidential candidate.

In short, Al Gore and the Democratic Party were complicit in the most demoralizing and anti-democratic events in the recent history of our nation. It is fine for the brilliant and lucid former Vice President to decry the power of money and television in the destruction of our democracy.

But what can tangibly and irrevocably destroy a democracy more thoroughly than the outright theft of elections, especially when it happens without challenge from the opposition?

We welcome the heartfelt insights of Al Gore on the broader issues of modern democracy. But when will he finally come clean on what he and John Kerry did—and didn’t do—in allowing the theft of our last two presidential elections?

When will Gore muster the courage of former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker in denouncing the role of voting machine proprietors and techno “insiders” in corrupting the voting process?

Most of all, we need to hear how Al Gore and the Democratic Party plan to guarantee it never happens again. And then we need to see them actually act on it.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman’s three books on the theft of the 2004 election are available at Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH, A.D. 2030, is at

About author Harvey Wasserman is co-author, with Bob Fitrakis and Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO?, just published by the New Press. He is author of SOLARTOPIA! and HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE U.S., available at

Good Riddance Jackass

May 15, 2007

It’s always sad when someone dies. But while it’s sad to lose any life, a man of such active hate deserves no good will in death. I don’t come to praise or bury the now-deceased Jerry Falwell, I just thought I’d note that the world lost a real jackass today.

“I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.'” –J. Falwell

“The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country”

Jerry Falwell


“The whole (global warming) thing is created to destroy America’s free enterprise system and our economic stability”

Jerry Falwell


“What we’ve worked on for 30 years, to mobilize people of faith and value in this country, what we’ve done through these years is coming to culmination right now.”

Jerry Falwell



at least he will find out where sadame’s “weapons of mass destruction” are





Officer allowed to quit quietly after marijuana brownie case

May 12, 2007


listen to this.

May 9, 2007



Dearborn police declined to pursue criminal charges against one of its officers last year, even after the cop admitted to taking marijuana from criminal suspects and, with his wife, cooking it up in brownies.

Then-Cpl. Edward Sanchez was allowed to resign from the department, but he was not charged with a crime. He declined to comment Wednesday.
His wife, Stacy Sanchez, admitted to police investigators that on another occasion she removed cocaine from her husband’s police cruiser — drugs purportedly earmarked to train police dogs — and used it during a three-week binge. She, too, has not been charged criminally. Dearborn Police Cmdr. Jeff Geisinger left a phone message with Free Press reporting partner Local 4-WDIV saying Sanchez resigned during an internal investigation. Geisinger did not return subsequent calls asking why Sanchez was not prosecuted.

The decision not to charge Sanchez upset Dearborn Councilman Doug Thomas, who said the department’s inaction sends the wrong message to the public.

“If you’re a cop and you’re arresting people and you’re confiscating the marijuana and keeping it yourself, that’s bad. That’s real bad. That’s like apprehending a bank robber and keeping some of the money for yourself.”

He promised to investigate.

“It doesn’t add up here,” Thomas said. “If he was allowed to resign with no action, he can apply for another police position. There’s all kinds of ramifications.”

The department’s investigation began with a bizarre 911 call from Sanchez’s home in Dearborn Heights. On the night of April 21, 2006, a panicky Sanchez told an emergency dispatcher he thought he and his wife were overdosing on marijuana.

“I think we’re dying,” he said in the 5-minute tape, obtained under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

“We made brownies and I think we’re dead, I really do,” Sanchez continued.

He told the dispatcher he had never made marijuana brownies before, but had previously used marijuana.

Then, he asked the score of the Red Wings game on television that night, explaining, “I just want to make sure this isn’t some type of, like, hallucination that I’m having.”

When later questioned by police investigators, Sanchez said his wife took the marijuana out of his police vehicle while he was sleeping, but she told investigators she tricked him into eating a pot-laced brownie.

“Cpl. Sanchez was insistent that he would never ingest marijuana or any narcotics intentionally,” an investigator wrote.

But in a subsequent interview, Sanchez acknowledged he fetched the marijuana from his car, put it in the brownie mix, and ate the brownies.

Sanchez also said he took the marijuana “off the street from unknown persons,” investigators wrote.

“I questioned him in detail about how many times and what types of narcotics he seized without arrest,” the report said. “He was adamant that he only seized marijuana, and it was on a few occasions. Cpl. Sanchez stated that it had been over a year since he seized this marijuana and that the marijuana was taken to train his K-9,” or drug-sniffing dog.

Wayne State University criminal law professor David Moran said Sanchez’s behavior was problematic — as was the Police Department’s decision not to charge him.

“An officer has a duty to enforce the law and if an officer finds someone in possession of illegal narcotics, he has a duty to seize the narcotics, arrest the persons … and properly dispose of the contraband if no charges end up being filed,” Moran said.

Moran said it is a criminal offense in Michigan for officers to fail to perform their duties.

“It is not as unusual as it should be for the police to look the other way when an officer commits an infraction, but this is a lot worse than the average police officer speeding a little bit,” Moran said.

Contact JENNIFER DIXON at 313-223-4410 or

The US vs John Lennon…

May 7, 2007



One short piece in this film slapped me upside the head– Nixon’s speech on November 03, 1969. In that televised speech he told America that he had an agreement with South Vietnam, and that as the South Vietnamese forces grew stronger, that the US would stand down. Then he said, “I have not, and do not intend to set a timetable for our withdrawal.”

Boy, doesn’t that sound fucking familiar?