Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: October 2010

Thomas Jefferson

“I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. ”        Thomas Jefferson

James Madison

“History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments. ”       James Madison

Abraham Lincoln

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the Country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed.”            Abraham Lincoln

From the inception of the American nation, there has been a chronic battle between those of great wealth, guarded by “corporate” status, and those who sought to defend the population against the predations of those parties. At this point, with corporate controls extended throughout the government, including the Courts, and especially the Supreme Court, through corruption in direct and indirect forms, as seen in the vast sums spent on “lobbying” (buying is the more correct word) in both legislative houses, and finally in the Executive, where the major figures of Wall Street and the corporate world chronically enter and leave the government in a revolving door apparatus transparent to all, it is clear that the corporations have won this battle decisively. Perhaps this election, warped by vast sums of corporate money, and guided by the corporately owned and controlled mass media and press, will give the public’s seal of approval to this victory, though ironically much of the protests of the day are directed against just those corporations. Their capacity to manipulate public sentiments through the media they own would make Joseph Goebbles green with envy.

Or perhaps we’ll awaken on the 3rd and find out it was all a dream.

Or a nightmare.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

As it seems my posting, below, on Paul Krugman’s column today is – despite being sent before I replied to Douthat, and was listed there as #13 – either going to be not printed, or shunted so far down the list it may as well be not printed, I post it here.

Mr Krugman’s economic logic is impeccable. If you don’t have money you can’t spend it and the communal economy will slow, shrink and stop. Except his economic logic ignores a certain bit: the US, representing 5% of the world’s population, has in the last half century consumed 25% of the global resources and wealth. After getting up off its post-war knees, Europe has done similarly. And this is going to stop, and printing all the money in the world for Americans and Europeans to spend isn’t going to fix it. What “the West” needs to do is not figure out how to sustain the unsustainable, but to alter its essential philosophy of living so that less is more, and less if fine. Far better than being rapists of the world on the conscience too.

What Paul needs is a paradigm over-haul: our methods of thinking and the “economics” we build with it are no longer appropriate. We need to devise a steady-state economy (and population) that doesn’t need, as America does, constant wars in order to work.

www.jonjost.wordpress.com
www.cinemaelectronica.wordpress.com

Rally for Restoring Sanity, Oct 30, Washington DC

While evidently attended by far more than the Glenn Beck rally of a month and more ago, the Colbert and Stuart Rally for Sanity this weekend seems to have scarcely made a ripple in the main-stream and right-stream press and the seeming attempt to stampede the country into a tidal-wave vote for Tea Party and Republican candidates.  The theme seems to be “repudiate Obama” and almost anywhere we look in the media the point seems pounded home.  I guess having twice as many people showing up for a rally for something as dubious as sanity doesn’t fit into the propaganda pattern.   Better the drumbeat of hysteria to rush our lemming folks off the cliff and leave things firmly in the control of our 2% hyper-rich and powerful.

Oil out on the allegedly clean Gulf of Mexico, Oct 22

Meantime word burped out of the inquest on BP’s Maconda oil catastrophe that dear old Halliburton-  famed for former CEO Dick Cheney’s bid-free Iraq war jobs in which over-billing, fraud, and doing a lousy job, were the norm – apparently peddled some cement which had failed its own tests, fobbing it off on BP to use to seal the well.   Halliburton’s stock took a 10% drop on the news, though apparently it regained some of this.  Despite a long and chronic record of illegal behaviors and dubious actions, Halliburton remains, like Blackwater/EXe, a major client of the US government.

Trevor Case, Lincoln Nebraska

Taking his cue from his government, Trevor Case, mug shot above, tied up his “girlfriend,” Danielle Stallworth, whom he believed had been unfaithful to him, and subjected her to water-boarding and other abuses, stopping only when the unmarried couple’s 2 year old daughter entered the living room where Trevor’s ministrations were being carried out.  The sterling example and legal arguments of the Bush administration clearly had impacted 22 year old Mr Case’s thinking.  He is being held on $150, 000 bail in Lancaster County, Nebraska.

Glenn Beck rally, Washington DCGlenn Beck crying

It is but a few days before the American mid-term elections, and the slosh of hidden money authorized in the name of “free speech” by the Supreme Court’s recent “Citizen” ruling, has risen to tsunami levels, with the likes of Karl Rove directing the funds with hyperbolic “pin-point” accuracy, to put it in military lingo, which usually translates as lots of collateral damages.  Well, certainly in this election there’s already been a lot of collateral damage to the Union’s ostensible and increasingly suspect ritual of “democratic elections.”   Since the Supreme Court’s heavy thumb on the scales of “justice” in the year 2000, when in violation of its own mandate, it appointed George Bush president (though Gore had a half-million votes more in national counting), the funny computer-count machines of 2004, and the court’s increasingly anti-public/pro-corporate rulings under Roberts, the already ragged mythology of “free” elections has been shredded.   American elections are as much a sham as are those of Afghanistan, where our foreign office personnel pretend to be shocked at the suitcases of money delivered to the right-hand man of our hand-picked President Karzai.   In America now the  suitcases can be delivered, legally, in anonymity.

“We carpet-bombed for two months in 82 races, now it’s sniper time,” said Rob Collins, president of American Action Network, which is one of the leading Republican groups this campaign season and whose chief executive is Norm Coleman, the former senator from Minnesota.

Meantime for months, or actually now some years, on a 24/7 basis, the airwaves and television have been drowned in the hysterical ranting of mostly right-wing, often “Christian” fundamentalist hatred, with ever more pressure to take recourse to arms (in that good old down-home American fashion) and, well, just kill or stomp whoever doesn’t agree. The natural consequence of this is just what you would expect:

And, of course, there’s a bit more to this – a little further examination shows the lady did try to stick her styrofoam board placard into Rand Paul’s car, which scarcely justifies the thuggish behavior of this guy, but hell, he’s been egged on by Rush and Sarah and Glenn and the gang. And she is a MoveOn member, proof positive she’s real trouble. So goes electioneering in America, where soon I expect the private armies that have emerged in the last decade and more – all of course Republican or further right in sentiments – may be out on the streets and, if things go like they’ve been going, left uncontested by the government, State or Federal.


What all of this suggests is that the country is confronted with problems that neither of our traditional established parties can meaningfully address, and in turn either there are attempts to infiltrate them, to re-direct them – as has basically happened with the combination of Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party, who seem to have hi-jacked the Republican party – or to abandon them, which I think increasingly is the left side of the political spectrum’s inclination, especially after the euphoria and subsequent drastic disappointment with Obama.  In my view though the American public – left, right, center – is utterly unprepared to cope with our imminent reality of being nationally “down-sized” from what we grew accustomed to in the post-WW2 period.  Like it or not, the present world will not continue to tolerate America’s wildly disproportionate take of the globe’s resources – about 25% seized, often by military force, commonly by lopsided economic/business arrangements, by 5% of the world’s population.   We got away with it for a while, but no longer, and our future is going to be one of shifting to our fair 5% of the globe’s resources and wealth.   While Americans could live quite well on that, it requires a major change in how we share our wealth, and the present political stress in America is that of an oligarchy attempting to retain the major portion of the domestic wealth for 2% of the population, while cutting everyone else down.   That’s what is going on now, and has been going on since Reagan was in office, though naturally it was claimed it was for the good of everyone, the real numbers were fudged, and the middle class played frog in the pot.  A look at income distribution, or Main St anywhere USA, shows another picture.  The subsequent reaction is inchoate, misguided, very volatile and dangerous  even for those oligarchs who for the moment seem to have channeled the anger that should be aimed at them towards others.  But I suspect in due time they’ll get badly burned for this kind of  politics – just as they’ve been burned in Pakistan and myriad other places where they’ve played dirty.

But, likely enough we’ll have a visit from our friends whose graphics share a certain commonality, not to mention a mentality.


I have friends who are a bit more sanguine about the political currents flowing now in the USA.  Older enough than I to have weathered the McCarthy red-baiting era, and other similar spasms which America seems to chronically endure, they are sure it is yet another passing phase and we’ll right ourselves in due time.   I am less sure of this.  Instead I am skeptical that the large American public will sort out for itself an equitable way in which to spread the tightened belt which our failing, unacknowledged, empire will coerce upon us.  As the economy shrinks, as it must and will, I am inclined to think  we’ll take the frequent recourse for such tensions, and call for a strong man (or woman) to come solve the problems which we ourselves refuse to admit or consider how to solve.  In fact, the reasonable solutions run so counter to the alleged traditional American ethos that it would be a hard sell.  The examples of dealing with global warming, or our excessive addiction to petroleum, or more fundamental, our warring habit, all point to the intractability of what our real problems are.  So more likely we will take what seems an easy route, like the Germans did, and pay an awful price for our bad choice.

And received today on a veterans list-mail based in Oregon on which I participate, came this – which unfortunately is all too likely to be true.  Our wonderful citizenry of which some believe in the right to vote… for some, but not others.

 

TO ALL DEMS, GREENS, MINORITIES ETC, PLS COPY/PASTE/FORWARD PERTINENT PARTS BELOW TO YOUR CONNECTIONS THIS ALERT ABOUT POLLING-PLACE INTIMIDATION REPUBLICAN & TEABAGGER THUGS ARE PULLING IN SOUTH, BUT PROBABLY ALL OVER COUNTRY:
“EDDIE, ET. AL., PLEASE DO A COUPLE OF THINGS FOR ME (AND FOR YOU — AND FOR ALL OF US REALLY) THERE IN TEXAS: I’M GETTING LARGE VOLUMN OF MAJOR INDICATIONS OF RAMPANT VOTER INTIMIDATION IN TX AND ELSEWHERE IN THE SOUTH WITH REPUBLICANS AND TEABAGGERS AT POLLS ATTEMPTING TO INTIMIDATE DEMS BY GOING UP TO THEM AND DOING SOME THINGS LIKE TAKING PICTURES OF THE DEMS AND MINORITIES AND ASKING IN THREATENING MANNER IF THEY (DEMS AND MINORITIES) ARE ALLOWED TO VOTE AT A PARTICULAR LOCATION… THIS IS WHAT I MEANT IN POSTS LAST WEEK ABOUT NOT GOING TO VOTE ALONE AND STICKING AROUND THE POLLS AND ROTATING SHIFTS AT THE POLLS AS THIS IS THE KIND OF CRAP THAT IS GOING ON TO REDUCE VOTER TURNOUT FOR DEMS AND MINORITIES, BECAUSE IF THE REPUBS HASSLE DEMS AND MINORITIES — AND OTHERS THAT “LOOK” LIKE THEY’RE DEMS — THEN SOME DEMS WILL JUST LEAVE AND NOT VOTE RATHER THAN PUT UP WITH THE HASSLE OR BE INTIMIDATED AND BE AFRAID OF SOME VIOLENCE, SO PLS TRY TO GET THIS WORD OUT ALL OVER YOUR TX NETWORKS, AND ELSEWHERE IN THE SOUTH IF YOU HAVE WIDE CONNECTIONS VIA MINISTERS OR ORGANIZATIONS YOU BELONG TO AS I HAVE RELIABLE WORD FROM PROGRESSIVE TALK RADIO ON WEST COAST (MIKE MALLOY SHOW) THAT THESE TACTICS ARE ALREADY BEING DONE AND ARE WORKING FOR THE REPUBLICANS AND TEABAGGERS TO A DEGREE… THANKS”

Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner

The United States Treasury concealed $40 billion in likely taxpayer losses on the bailout of the American International Group earlier this month, when it abandoned its usual method for valuing investments, according to a report by the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

“In our view, this is a significant failure in their transparency,” said Neil M. Barofsky, the inspector general, in an interview on Monday.

In early October, the Treasury issued a report predicting that the taxpayers would ultimately lose just $5 billion on their investment in A.I.G., a remarkable outcome, since the insurance company was extended $182 billion in taxpayer money in the early months of its rescue.

 

Mr Geithner, our President’s right-hand man when it comes to fiscal policy was deeply involved in the TARP program (initiated by former President Bush who had been told by Bernanke, Geithner and all the other high-up former Goldman-Sachs collaborators-turned-government-employees that the sky was falling and that unless a trillion dollars was coughed up – no questions asked, no questions to be asked – the world would collapse).  He had previously been Chairman of the New York Fed branch in the 90’s, during which all the toxic soups of slice ‘n dice ‘em derivatives had been cooked up and sold around the world, leading to massive bonuses for the CEO’s of Goldman-Sach, BofA, Lehman Brothers (r.i.p.), JP Morgan and the other powerhouses of Wall Street.  Prior to his appointment by Mr Obama Mr Geithner had been caught fudging some numbers on his taxes.  So when it comes to numbers, Mr Geithner is a bit fast and loose.  As head of the Treasury Department he is directly responsible for issuing this report.   A little conflict of interest?

Neil Barofsky, Inspector General

Mr Barofsky:

I  been looking at your books, Mr Geithner, and it looks like you been cookin’ ‘em.  Like according to my figures AIG is down for a 45 billion buck loss, and you got ‘em down for a measly 5 billion in the hole.  What gives?  You did this on your taxes, now this?

Mr Geithner:

Ah, geez Mr Barofsky, I mean, like what’s a little 40 billion off among friends?  I mean we’re all in this together.  Besides my boss told me to try to make things look good, especially now, y’know, before the elections and all.  I mean 40 billion – that’s nothin’.  Think we gave a trillion just 2 years ago.  And if we hadn’t done that the world as we know it would be gone.  Got me?  And besides, you ain’t got no enforcing powers, so suck my…



And for those with a taste for schadenfreud, though he wasn’t at the helm during the previous decade or so, here’s a late news item:

7:46 p.m. | Updated The American International Group said Monday that its chief executive, Robert H. Benmosche, has cancer and that he is undergoing “aggressive” treatment.

Robert H. Benmosche, in happier days at his villa in Croatia

Somewhere along the line I read that stress is a killer and can prompt cancer along.    Mr Benmosche is 66.

Ellen McClaughlin in Angels in America

Picture near mouth of Mississippi River, Oct 22 2010

Recently it’s been alleged that all the BP oil blow-out stuff evaporated, got munched by hungry microbes, or otherwise just went away, not to worry.  The above picture was taken on Oct. 22, 2010, though the Coast Guard, the record of which in the last 6 months indicates it is in the pay of the US of Corporations, and not acting in the public interest, asserts this orange stuff is an algae bloom.  Fishermen who have gone through it says it smells like oil, is sticky, and requires a solvent to clean off their boats, and they think it is aged oil.

Photo, Oct. 22, 2012

Ah, but hell, there’s an election on, and if you don’t live down there, who cares, right?  The below figures have asserted that business, including BP, should be free of regulations by evil government, and Mr McConnell if I recall correctly said BP was owed an apology.

Paul Rand and Mitch McConnellClarence Thomas, his wife, and Anita Hill

Of course the above is far eclipsed by the running soap-opera in DC, where Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Virginia, dropped a telephone message to Anita Hill at 7:30 a.m. the other week, saying Anita owed her husband an apology for her claims of his sexual harassment actions long ago during his confirmation hearings.  No sooner did this stir up old angers than another former associate (lover?) of Thomas’ indicated he was indeed a porn junkie, chronic sexual predator, and other nice things.  All of which he lied about during his confirmation hearing.  Virginia Thomas runs a right-wing organization, Liberty House, that receives much money anonymously courtesy of a ruling by the Supreme Court, in which Thomas did not recuse himself, which allowed such donations to be made for political purposes without revealing the source.  Conflict of interest?   Impeachment anyone?

US Government lubrication

And, in case you need a primer in what is going on and has been going on, and always was going on, read this excellent, if slightly long for web-attention spans, brief on the State of the Nation by Joe Bageant.

Barrister Morgan of Leeds UK got right back to me with this heart-tugging photo of Mrs Helen Cole being consoled by a pedophile while being crushed by watermark.  Poor Mrs Cole.  This, naturally, was accompanied by a letter, impressively  headed by this authorized logo, which was followed with further information about Mrs Cole who wants me to disburse her wealth to the world’s needy, that being doubtless Barrister Morgan.  At least he needs to get her out from the “,” in which she remains.

MORGAN OWEN CHAMBERS

5 Merrion Way, Leeds LS2  8NZ , United Kingdom .

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Barrister Morgan Owen, I am Mrs.Helen Cole’s attorney.She has instructed me to assist you with the relevant document to have access to the account.She said she has prayed about it and it was revealed that you are the trusted one to utilize this funds to better the less opportune in your society,you have been destined to do this to bring people closer to the almighty. You are to provide the below information which will enable me process the relevant document which will be enable you take charge of the account as directed by Mrs. Helen Cole. The requested detail will also enable the high court validate the WILL of Mrs Helen Cole.
1. Full names.

2. Residential address.

3. Phone number.

4. Fax number.

5.  Sex.

6. Age.
I have just been informed earlier today by the doctor that Mrs. Helen Cole is in comma. She had earlier told me about you that if situation gets worse I should contact you in order  to process all relevant documents in your favor regarding the status of her account to your name. You are being reminded of the task ahead to use a reasonable part of the funds to build a temple of worship and also help the less privileged in your society as you have been appointed by God to complete this task Attached is a photograph of her at the hospital.I want you to include her in your prayers.

Barr. Morgan Owen.

This is worse than Alice in Wonderland – Mrs Cole keeps falling in that comma! So I better reply fast and see just when they want that bank account data.

In the same morning mail, of course, came another hot deal being offered by Money Morning. Maybe you’ll want to jump in:

Money Morning E-letter
| White Listing Instructions|

Dear Money Morning Reader,

Imagine a tiny company suddenly rendering over $15 billion in drugs from Bristol-Myers, Genentech and Roche obsolete…

Because their new therapy is far more effective.

Unlikely?

Not if you listen to experts such as Forbes Science Business, who are calling this drug “the wave of the future.”

This company is already making early investors serious profits. Estimates show their breakthrough could catapult the stock from $7 to $140. And now, AstraZeneca, Bayer and Merck are collaborating with this firm.

Please – take a look at the full story right now in our just-released video presentation here. But hurry, this is clearly a time-sensitive opportunity.

Sincerely,
Mike Ward
Mike Ward
Publisher, Money Morning

See their video here.

Hey, you too can be rich, which is what you always wanted to be, no?

As a kind of research, I subscribe to a few financial newsletters, just as I occasionally dip my head into various right-wing blogs, the Wall Street Journal, and such, just to keep myself up-to-date with the thinking of a large section of my fellow primates.  So each morning I am greeted with a hustle about how I, too, can get rich fast and easily.  Another one I receive is specifically about the oil and energy sector.    I have a low tolerance level for these, just as I would for the mega-church God-wants-you-to-be-rich line which I understand animated much of the last few decades (I wonder if they now preach God-wants-you-to-be-in-debt/poor?).   Outside of wandering into churches and temples, mostly in Europe or Asia, to look at the architecture and/or art, I don’t go to church, so my knowledge of the American Jesus wants you rich phenomenon is only second hand.

No, it’s not your price, it is that I find your entire logic and sense of values to be immoral.  I subscribe simply to get a taste of the pure capitalist way of thinking which surrenders all meaningful values in the pursuit of profit, no matter how.  Your news exemplifies this and reminds me each day of how sick that mentality is.

Money Morning E-letter
Dear Money Morning Reader,
 

You’ve been a Money Morning Reader for a few months. By now, I’m sure you’ve seen dozens of promotions for our premium newsletter, The Money Map Report.

You missed an opportunity to bank as much as 1,820% gains on a microcap oil company sitting on an estimated 40 billion barrel oil motherlode…

You passed on the report that showed how you could turn $10,000 into as much as $240K from the U.S. company that has a lock on 50% of the global lithium market….

You sat on the sidelines as Money Map Report readers saw a staggering…

  • 685% on Morgan Stanley…
  • 213% on Petrobras….
  • 127% on Yanzhou Coal Mining Co…
  • 232% on National Oilwell Varco…
  • 158% on Sinovac Biotech Ltd…
  • 285% on Icici Bank…
    … all in the last 12-16 months.

We’ve racked our brains… We can’t figure out why you wouldn’t want to be part of this.

It must be the price.

Until now, the lowest price we’ve offered the Money Map Report for is $49.50. That’s half off the retail price.

But still, you’ve let this incredible opportunity pass you by.

We’ve decided to give you one last chance. For a limited time, we’re offering you a coupon good for an additional $10 off our lowest price.

That means you can get a full year of the Money Map Report – including access to our entire portfolio of investment recommendations, in-depth monthly briefings and continuous portfolio and market updates – for just $39.50. That’s 60% off the regular price.

We’ve never offered the Money Map Report for this low… And we may never again. But, I want you to see exactly what you’ve been missing out on.

Just $39.50 for all our expert recommendations… our best special reports and investment opportunities… and access to every pick in our portfolio.

In addition, we’ll send you our Free Action Guide: Become a “Kevlar” Investor: Shield your assets and move into pockets of near-guaranteed 300% gains.

This Action Guide will show you how to make your portfolio “bulletproof” – no matter which way the market turns. It gives you six immediate winners:

  1. Get “Free” Gold – This junior mining outfit in Canada is a great commodities play and their current price does not reflect the gold they also control. You get the gold for “free”… so 300% targeted gains are all but certain!
  2. Cash-in on China’s Paranoia – The Chinese are set to install one billion security cams and one company dominates! This has “ten bagger” written all over it!
  3. Market Crash Protection – If the market drops 2,000 to 4,000 points again you won’t lose money, you’ll actually make up to 300% gains.
  4. Next Big Oil Bonanza – This is the Saudi Arabia of the future. It’s up in Canada, it’s fairly priced, it’s a solid 30% a year gainer, and it’s a takeover target – meaning you could double your money.
  5. Profiting from Bankruptcies – Companies are going under at a record pace and that means one software maker is climbing the charts.
  6. Once in a Lifetime Superstock – This nanotech company is on the cusp of the next big breakthrough in computing for potential 3,000% gains!

Sign up now. We’re certain you could make over 100 times the $39.50 purchase price in the first 6 months alone.

But, I simply can’t afford to offer this forever. Your $10 coupon is only good for the next 5 days. That’s it.

And, I’ll never offer it to you again.

So, if you’ve looked at our promotions in the past and thought, “maybe later” – now is the time to act. You’ll never have a better opportunity.

Go here to use your coupon now.

Sincerely,
Signature of Mike Ward
Mike Ward
Publisher, Money Morning

P.S. We’ve just heard from contacts in China that the government has decided to give millions in contracts to our “favorite son” surveillance company. That kind of volume is sure to jack up the stock price in the next couple of weeks. So get your free Action Guide right away to get in on this! Plus, respond right now and we’ll include a “quick response” bonus report that is essential reading: VAT Attack! Do You Own Blue Chip Stocks That Could Be Flattened?

On a lighter level, today’s post also carried a note from Doctor Lizzy, as follows:

Mrs Helen Cole told me to send this mail to you as at last two (2) weeks
regarding you to contact her Lawyer but I forgot to do it and now that she
is in state of comma I have to let you know what she told me to tell you.

Below are the details she gave me for you to contact her lawyer.

Name – Barrister Morgan Owen.
Email – Barr.Morgan.o@gala.net

Thank you:.
Dr Lizzy.

To which I responded (normally I would just delete to junk/spam, but this one was too ditzy to pass up) as follows:

Dear Doctor Lizzy

Being in a state of “,” is very bad. Send me the particulars please so I can help.

Thank you

Mr Dizzy Jon

Oh, we’re all going to be so rich and so happy!!!!

David Brooks, New York Times “conservative” columnist

Your Submitted Comment

Display Name

Jon Jost

Location

Seoul, Korea

Comment

“The system will inflame your weaknesses (Kirk’s mistakes were serious and he has apologized for them).”

No, you will not be admitted into the system unless you have already demonstrated you have those weaknesses. Your list of Kirk’s past achievements is given as if it were a shiny accomplishment: but it is all dull establishment, where kissing ass, being a yes man and agreeing to a thoroughly already corrupted system is an absolute requirement. Nobody who has rebelled against the so-called consensus, say that we need a gigantic bloated military, ever gets in, and we do have a gigantic bloated and corrupt military. It is already clear that those who wrote glowingly of Kirk’s role are themselves the kind who would embellish their records, lie and commit fraud. That’s the rule of the game.

Grow up Mr Brooks, stick your head outside your establishment bubble and see that from outside you all appear to be corrupt. You too. Or maybe even especially.

http://www.jonjost.wordpress.com

http://www.cinemaelectronica.wordpress.com

Yesterday, early in line – comment sent after, to other columnist, was printed number 27 – I responded to the David Brooks item with the above. It wasn’t printed. Mr Brooks, again, brooks no dissent. While I am sure his most high eminance does not himself deign to read these things, it appears his hired underling at the Times is under instructions to not let certain things pass. I guess I crossed the line here. Curious, since others took him to task under similar lines, though none went quite so far as to say Mr Brooks is “corrupt.”

Mr Brooks, by himself and by many of his readers is painted as a wise, articulate, well-read “conservative” who often seems to be drifting towards, oh my god, some kind of “liberal” stances. He however always auto-corrects himself, and returns to his true Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, New Standard roots. A right-wing shill dresses in seeming “reasonableness.”

But it is a charade, and his censoring scissors, used not at all the first time for me, and I am sure for many others, shows his truer self.

 


Since getting back from our European summer, I have, in the partly cynical interest of securing airfare in the winter (so as to get to some other screenings), sent off requests to a number of festivals for waivers on any entry fees, since on principle I don’t accept them though not so long ago it was simply a fiscal matter – I couldn’t afford them.   Most replied favorably, and I’ve sent off DVDs of Swimming to the San Jose Maverick festival, Ann Arbor, Sundance.  Those aren’t going to get me to Europe though.  So I wrote the Berlinale Forum, where some time ago, I was a regular, having shown many films there, though the last were back in 1993, Frameup and The Bed You Sleep In *.   I shifted back then to Digital Video and it took a while for them to face reality and not side-line DV to a video sidebar, which I declined to allow with my work.  Rotterdam didn’t take such an attitude, so I went there instead.  In turn I later got the impression, when the Forum had shifted policy and decided to accept video work on an equal footing with celluloid, that I had along the way become persona non grata.  At least they rejected some films I sent them, I don’t recall which.   This year I sent a few emails, requesting a waiver, and at first got no answer and then a few further attempts got a bounced-back email – perhaps consigned to a spam filter.  Inquiring with a Berlin film-world friend, I got assurances the emails were right, and then yesterday I got this:

Dear Jon Jost,

Thank you for your email. I can't explain why it hadn't reached us, most
likely because of the attachments?!

Concerning Swimming in Nebraska, unfortunately it is not possible to
submit a film twice.

Concerning the fee waivers, I fully understand your request but
unfortunately I'm sorry to inform you that it won't be possible for us
to waive the fee this time.
The rules have changed last year, we must observe them really strictly,
for this festival fee is an essential part of the financing of the
selection process.
I truly hope that you will find a way to submit your films, and we would
be happy to watch them then.
(As a reminder for the Forum: films submitted for screening at the Forum
must have been completed within the last 12 months before the start of
the festival; must be at least 60 minutes long; must not have been
screened at any other German or European festivals; and with the
exception of the country of origin, must not have been shown in European
cinemas or broadcast on television.)

Sorry for not bringing better news.
Best regards from Berlin,

Cécile Tollu-Polonowski

Though I would not have paid in any event, I looked up to see what the submission fee was: 125 Euro, or about $170  or so. And I wrote them this:

Hi

I guess, unless Forum policies change in the future, I long ago saw my last Berlinale. It is bad enough, especially in the current cultural climate, to have to pay with one’s own money to do your work, as I do. To have to pay to roll the dice on whether others will choose to show it merely compounds the matter. I, and I am sure many others, won’t be paying 125 Euro for the privilege of participating in cultural Lotto. All things change in time, and I guess the Forum is no exception. [I'd note that for many from more economically deprived parts of the world the 125 Euro buy-in is truly prohibitive - I have some Philippine and Malay filmmaker acquaintances who would choke on this.]

While I know they no longer run or perhaps even participate in it, kindly pass along my regards to Erika and Uhlrik Gregor.

Thank you

jon jost

Actually these days the once vaguely practical utility of festivals, at least for the kinds of things I do, is pretty much gone: there is no little tiny niche market one might make a sale to, at least not that I know of, so it pretty much boils down to wanting to visit the place. I like Berlin and have friends there I’d like to see, so I’d go if invited, but not if it costs a little bundle to bet on it. I guess we’ll have to find some other reasons for going to Berlin some time.

Long ago, the first time I went to Berlin, at one point I found in my hotel room a special Berlin kinda item, (s)he was one of the party sort that gravitate to festivals.  Nothing happened, except I guess a glimpse into a certain Berliner life-style.   Later I moved there and spent a few years, and have been back many times.  Nice city in my book.

A handful of weeks back while rummaging the many hours of old tapes on hand, I started to mess with some material I’d originally thought to make into an installation, and instead now have made into a film of some kind.   Better hurry before tape goes the way of of the dodo – in fact just the past week went to have my old DSR-11 fixed as the tape insert mechanism went on blink and the authorized Sony repair guy, charging $120 or so for my bother, gave me back the deck in worse shape than I gave it to him: now not only doesn’t the in/out mechanism work, but it won’t play when the tape goes in; Friday it goes back but not for him to pretend to repair it.   Will get it directly to SONY somehow.

This film is one  in which 3 standard DV images share an HD wide-screen most of the time, though at a later point it’s two images.  And I think towards the very end it’s likely to be a single image.   These are culled from various things shot in the last 14 years, since I started working in DV – odds and ends that are of interest, but which I didn’t shoot with anything particular in mind.   Slowly they’ve gravitated together.

A few minutes in10 minutes in or so30 or morealmost 50 minutes

The woman to the right was Portuguese Olympic-level sharp-shooter, exercising 2 hours a day – the shot is almost 60 continuous minutes; the middle is a rickshaw cyclist in Raipur, India, giving me and another guy a ride; and to the right is my own hernia operation, filmed by myself, about 8 years ago.  I find all these images a bit disturbing, for differing reasons, and imagine they’ll shake up most people’s sensibilities.

A brief few seconds of scientific footageJust over 50 mins

Portuguese acting as if they were afflicted with Tourette’s syndrome

Then some more scientific material.

About 55 mins

A bit more Tourette’s

A girl and a gun

And then a finale, which I kind of know what it should be, but haven’t come up with the material just yet.  It should be very disturbing.  [Update April 11 2011:  the finale includes now 3 screens of hard-core porn, a bit more scientific imagery, and death.]

Just what this means, I am not sure.  Just as I’m not sure why in the present situation I should plow on making these things at all.   Of late my track record’s been rather minimal, to say the least:  starting back in 2004, with Homecoming, and then with La Lunga Ombra, Over Here, and Parable, I’ve been pretty much shut out of festivals, each film going to just a festival or two, and then…. nada.   Still waiting to see if Swimming in Nebraska gets anywhere.  Since I haven’t tried at all, there’s been no television, though I suspect there’s still a few places where some of these would fit in, but maybe not.  Maybe a few places or maybe not that they’d fit in.

Bottom line is that each film took more time and energy than I could tally up, and the end result is maybe a few hundred people see each one.  Of course at the back end it is the same as at the front: no pay.

Now with a work like Dissonance I can kind of accept it: it’s a demanding, elusive, strange film, which even I have no idea what, if anything, it means, or if it should “mean” anything.   It seems more related to some visual arts/painters than to 99.9% of cinema.   But then I ponder, if painter X can unload his work on a museum for X hundred thousand or so, why doesn’t this do so as well.  Or at least a little.  The fact is if I went to show it at a prestigious museum, like MoMA, or the Walker, I’d be lucky if they coughed up $250.  And probably they’d want me in the flesh but not pay to get me there.  Or put me up.  In fact, as with many others in America, the pay-scale has been sliding the last decade, not even treading water.

And so, then again, what’s the point?   I scratch my head, and flick on the computer in the morning, and get on to the next one.  It’ll be a portrait of Lisbon, shot mostly in 1996-98.  [Update: shown at the Rotterdam Film Festival 2011.]

Imagens de um cidade perdida


[For earlier ruminations in the same realm, see this and this.]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,678 other followers