Hollywood's 9 Billion Dead (And Just One Baby); Carl Pope, Take This Pack and Shove It; More on Hitchens, Corn and Cooper; Kissinger and the Great Beast: 666
by Alexander Cockburn
December 5, 2002
The Death Factory, and Hollywood's One Baby
Today, Thursday December 5, my friend and CounterPuncher Dr Pete Livingston is filing suit in Federal Court seeking declaratory relief to uphold his right to distribute the documentary "Over 9 Billion Dead Served". The feature-length film, a passionate anti-war commentary, is almost entirely comprised of clips from the 25 biggest box office movies. Pete contends that his film is protected by the Fair Use Doctrine. Fair Use Doctrine, is designed to protect the use of copyrighted material without permission for the purposes of criticism and education.
Livingston's company, Not the Enemy Media, is currently being blocked by legal threats from Fox Entertainment Group, Columbia, and Universal Studios. Film companies have denied Livingston permission to use even a single frame of their material. Universal went so far as to demand that Pete tear apart his documentary and remove the portions of their material.
The lawyers representing Livingston are a feisty and competent bunch: Bill Simpich, Tesfaye Tsadik, and Jim Wheaton. Bill Simpich says, "This film gives the filmmakers' lenses a 180 degree spin and exposes them as creators of the mindset that leads Americans to war. There is no better evidence of this than the footage itself. Nothing less will do".
"This all began", Livingstone explains, "as an empirical examination of feature films, but it soon became clear that the examples and issues presented in these films could not be believably addressed using words in a book or in articles. The imagery of these films are often amazing and horrifying in ways that requires the transformative use of the original (copyrighted) material to convey. Literally, you've got to see it to believe it. We believe that under the First Amendment and the rules of the fair use doctrine, that this analysis is permitted and that the events like the shooting at Columbine, the September 11th attacks, and the subsequent war in Afghanistan demand it."
The documentary indicates that in these movies, Hollywood filmmakers have illustrated the mass murder of over nine billion people. In the same movies, only one baby was born (and survived). Livingston claims these movies have drawn on various negative stereotypes, including blacks, Arabs and Nazis, to make killing not only tolerable, but often amusing. "Many of the studios that made these films take exception to my use of the images. They want to cash in on death, dying, and remorseless murder, but they don't want to take any responsibility for what they've done. My position is that the cost of exploiting the corporate welfare afforded by copyright ought to be self-exposure to unlimited criticism using the copyrighted material. If the studios don't like covering that token non-cost, maybe they shouldn't indulge in the use of stereotypes to capitalize on the fanciful slaughter of billions of innocent people in the first place.
Contacts: Pete Livingston, Ph.D. Voice: 510.236.3309
Bill Simpich (pm only) Voice: 510.444.0226 Fax: 510.444.1704.
The Sierra Club is threatening to disband a Utah chapter whose leaders are speaking out against the U.S. threat of invading Iraq. They are this defying a decision by the timid leaders of the Club to avoid a formal stance on the war issue. The board members of the Sierra Club's 175-member Glen Canyon chapter in southern Utah says their views reflect those of most of the 700,000 members. They point that in 1981 the Sierra Club adopted a resolution opposing war in general because of its environmental consequences. ''War is not healthy for children and other living things,'' Dan Kent, secretary of the Sierra Club's Glen Canyon Group, said in a recent statement. ''It is the ultimate act of environmental destruction.... For the board to compel our silence plays right into Bush's mad world, where a nation of police, prisons, bombs, bunkers is better than lowering oneself to diplomacy to save lives.''
Carl Pope, the Sierra Club's executive director, is threatening to remove the Utah activists from their regional ruling board and disband their group.
Here's a vivid response to the Sierra Club gauleiters, from Emily Jan, defending the position of the Glen Canyon group:
Dear Mr. Pope and fellow board members, I am a Sierra Club member from Oakland, California and Moab, Utah. I am writing to say that I am beyond appalled at the recent course of events concerning the Glen Canyon Group, and am most seriously considering retracting my own membership and support. Since when does the Sierra Club operate as a fascist state? And openly so? You are 'inclined' to file a BOLT action against John, Patrick, Tori and Dan? They did not Breach any kind of Leadership Trust. It is precisely for the reason that they HAVE the courage to stand up and speak out against the gag rule of their cowardly "superiors" which makes them EXACTLY that: Leaders. Whom we can Trust. Which is something this country desperately needs...
"I come from the city which is proud to call Congresswoman Barbara Lee one of our own. Like the Glen Canyon Group leaders, she was in the extreme minority, the one alone amongst all her peers in Congress who had the courage to stand up to George W.'s hysterical clamour for war after 9/11. We cheered her on then, as I cheer on the Glen Canyon Group now. Bully for them, for being the only ones who had the courage and insight to stand up and be counted, for I deeply suspect that if you actually did bother to make the count, there would be more of your loyal members on their side than you might think.
"If you do decide to "excommunicate" these four Leaders, rest assured that this country will have proof of your cowardice in the face of truth, your valuing political connivings and corporate ties over the good of the people and the cause you represent, and perhaps worst of all, your deadly lack of vision. And, you can most assuredly take my membership, previous support, black backpack and all, and stuff it.
artist and environmentalist
Oakland, California Moab, Utah.
A recent response in The Nation's letters columns by Christopher Hitchens to criticisms of him by Katha Pollitt in that same journal contained the following sentence: "Just watching the sluggish stream sliding by in the past few months, I have seen the editor of CounterPunch, one of our fellow columnists, reprint a vicious and paranoid and subliterate screed, explicitly associating Jew power with the destruction of the World Trade Center."
On October 3 CounterPunch, whose coeditors are Jeffrey St. Clair and myself, ran here on this website a piece by Kurt Nimmo about the uproar over Amiri Baraka's poem about September 11, and the efforts of the ADL to get Baraka dislodged from his position as poet laureate of New Jersey. You can find Nimmo's useful piece at www.counterpunch.org/nimmo1003.html.
Since most newspapers (with the exception of the Newark Star-Ledger, which printed the entire poem) didn't bother to share with their readers what Baraka actually wrote, we also put up Baraka's poem. (He subsequently sent us his indignant, detailed response to the ADL's charges of anti-Semitism, which we also posted on our site (www.counterpunch.org/baraka1007.html).
Actually, I strongly doubt whether Hitchens ever looked at our web page, since he told me the last time I saw him that his Internet skills are confined to reading his e-mail. I also doubt he's ever read Baraka's poem, or his subsequent defense, both of which are well worth studying and far less deserving of the charges of subliteracy, viciousness and paranoia than much of what Hitchens puts out these days. The phrase "Jew power," by the way, is Hitchens's, not Baraka's.
I would have thought that Hitchens, a man who once defended David Irving's First Amendment rights, would have thought twice about those sentences in his answer to Pollitt, so carefully designed to tarnish me and CounterPunch with the charge of abetting anti-Semitism. I can easily imagine his howls if I decried him as an apologist for Irving or noted the writer Edward Jay Epstein's recollections of Hitchens asserting in 1995 that "no evidence of German mass murder had ever been found," without adding any context.
A few weeks ago I strongly criticized David Corn and Marc Cooper for their attacks on the recent peace demonstrators in DC and the Bay Area as being dupes of the Workers World Party. So far as Corn was concerned, I wasn't harsh enough. I read a transcript the other day of Corn's recent session on The O'Reilly Factor, where he cooperated with pathetic eagerness when O'Reilly invited him to denounce the peace movement and people like Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon as dupes and cat's-paws. To me, Corn seemed to have assigned himself, without much self-awareness, a toehold on the shelf alongside such epic snitches and Namers of Names as Harvey Matusow.
Maybe it's this lack of awareness about the moral timbre of what he writes and says that causes Corn to be so upset about my description of his book as "not unsympathetic" to Shackley. He thinks I was being weasel-worded. In fact, I was trying to throttle back my view that the book is a disgusting effort, truly creepy in its detached, passionless tempo of narration about a terrible man stained from head to toe with blood. I recently reread the chapter on Shackley's tour as CIA station chief in Vietnam and find no reason to change my assessment.
Cooper yaps like a terrier in a badger's den on discovering that I decried the Workers World Party for Marxism-Leninism-Bonkerism back in 1990. In a letter to the Nation he gives the impression he himself was responsible for this triumph of excavation, which is odd since, earlier, the press critic Mark Hand had the courtesy to send along to CounterPunch precisely the same stuff I wrote, along with his agreeable commentary which he put up on his site.
It's certainly true that in late 1990 I was harsh about the WWP's line and since there was a choice of two big marches, I urged antiwar demonstrators to attend the other march. I have news for Cooper. In 1990 Iraq had invaded Kuwait, and I had many arguments about the appropriateness of a UN-sanctioned response with people in the antiwar movement, including an exchange with Michael Ratner right here in these correspondence columns, disputing his view that criticisms of Iraq should not be on the agenda of the progressive community amid Bush I's build-up to war. There were two large demos planned, and since I reckoned there was no chance they would unify, I urged my preference.
Here we are in 2002, with the UN a wholly owned US subsidiary (as I should have conceded to myself and others a lot more than I did in 1990) abetting an imperial onslaught as brazen and lawless as any colonizing sortie of the nineteenth century. In the urgent task of organizing antiwar demonstrations, the WWP has worked capably in building up coalitions. The group's core Bonkerism is probably undiminished, but I don't think that's the issue, and I don't see Cooper, Corn and Gitlin doing anything more serious in organizing peace rallies than advertising their own political respectability in the mainstream press.
Meanwhile a more prominent American was also having his credentials severely scrutinized, by the New York Times. On Friday, November 29, the New York Times lashed out at Henry Kissinger's selection by George Bush as the director of a comprehensive examination of the government's failure to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks.
After a dutiful bow to Kissinger's "keen intellect and vast experience in national security matters" the NYT toasted him as a power-mad money-grubber with far too keen an eye for the main chance to be a dispassionate watchdog for the public interest. In Times-speak this translates thus: "Unfortunately, his affinity for power and the commercial interests he has cultivated since leaving government may make him less than the staunchly independent figure that is needed for this critical post." "There can be no place", thundered the Times "for the kind of political calculation and court flattery that Mr. Kissinger practiced so assiduously during his tenure as Richard Nixon's national security adviser and secretary of state. Nor is there any tolerance for the kind of cynicism that Mr. Kissinger applied to the prosecution of the Vietnam War."
The editorial insisted that Kissinger sever "all ties to Kissinger Associates", and then had a poke at Senator George Mitchell, nominated by the Democrats to serve as the vice chairman on Kissinger's investigative commission. "Mitchell, the Times sneered, "is not known for rocking established institutions."
Of course the mere notion that Kissinger will rock any sort of boat is preposterous. His prime function will be to protect the White House from any damaging revelations of what Bush had been told, and when he was told it, in the run-up to 9/11.
For a far more exciting, albeit somewhat eccentric assessment of Kissinger I recommend the speculations of Dr Leonard Horowitz, who roosts in Sandpoint, a lush little community in western Idaho, when he runs an outfit called Tetrahedron. Horowitz claims to have decrypted a centuries-old alphanumeric code currently used by British and American intelligence agencies and to have discovered "a foreboding fact" while analyzing the code-the words "Kissinger" and "Vaccination" both decipher to "666," the infamous "mark of the beast."
In his 1998 book "Emerging Viruses: AIDS & Ebola- Nature, Accident or Intentional?" (Tetrahedron Press, 1998), Horowitz claims that Kissinger, "through his chain of command, directed members of the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council to advise U.S. Army officials to develop immune suppressive "synthetic biological agents" descriptively and functionally identical to HIV/AIDS and the Ebola virus."
And how did HIV and Ebola viruses break out of their military≠ medical labs? Horowitz suggests that "through the Merck pharmaceutical company, a major U.S. biological weapons contractor whose president, George W. Merck, directed America's entire biological weapons industry, contaminated chimpanzees were used during the early 1970s to develop the earliest experimental hepatitis B vaccines given to gay men in New York City and Blacks in central Africa. This says Horowitz, was the precise vaccination that triggered the AIDS pandemic."
I'm a little disappointed by the tentative nature of Horowitz's next phrase: "No doubt Merck's chief advisor, Dr. Kissinger, would have approved of this AIDS outcome given his enthusiasm for his National Special Security Memorandum 200, ordered just before these vaccinations began, that called for massive Third World depopulation especially targeting Black Africans." What's a weaselly "no doubt" doing in a story of this importance?
Dr. Horowitz sweeps on: "it is not likely an accident that the names 'Merck' and 'Bush' both decipher to '300' using the same code. This is consistent with the "Committee of 300" and its powerful influence over global politics and governmental policies. It is, likewise, no "coincidence" that Kissinger, the only modern day political leader whose name deciphers to '666,' with his 'special services' record at the CFR, became a top advisor to the Merck pharmaceutical company-the world's leading vaccine maker-with the word 'vaccination' also resolving to '666'".
"Now that we have some of their secret codes," Dr. Horowitz concludes, "it is possible to perform statistical analyses, the scientific method of determining correlation (coefficients) for testing associations-in this case co-conspirators in a global conspiracy. When this is done, the outcome proves a genocidal theory beyond our worst nightmares."
My only disappointment was that Horowitz didnít somehow wedge the Illuminati into his story, or the Templars. A conspiracy theory without these elements isn't all that it might be.
Many years ago my father visited the secretary of a British society that used certain measurements in the Grand Pyramid in Egypt to predict the future. After running through the basic mathematical drill the secretary murmured that in his estimation the predictive power of the Grand Pyramid was over-estimated. Scenting a possible recantation my father pressed him. What sort of "over-estimation" he asked. "Well," said the secretary, many people believe that the calculations to make current predictions based on the pyramid can be done "in five minutes". Not so. "Serious predictions involve math that requires "at least three weeks to complete."
Nuts are never more impressive than when admitting just a measure of uncertainty into the precision of their mad interpretations.
And yes, the same can be said of economic forecasters.
Alexander Cockburn is the author The Golden Age is In Us (Verso, 1995) and 5 Days That Shook the World: Seattle and Beyond (Verso, 2000) with Jeffrey St. Clair. Cockburn and St. Clair are the editors of CounterPunch, the nationís best political newsletter, where this article first appeared.