PART 1: THE STRANGE CASE OF THE WHITE EXECUTIVE JET
Well we had our fun last column with “Jason vs. Predator” and etc. but this time, before we get to the nerdy shit, we gotta talk about Iraq. And before we even get to that I gotta bring up something I bet most of you haven’t even heard about: the mysterious “white executive jet” that the press casually connected yesterday to Flight 93, the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. I don’t know the significance of this jet but I think it’s a good example of the big pile of lies we americans keep getting buried under, without much complaint.
It all begins with an article in Newsday and other sources about “Moussaoui Jury to Get Sept. 11 ‘Replay’ – Videos, airliner cockpit recordings to be offered.” The story is basically a press release rewrite about prosecutors’ plans for the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the nutball who they want to execute in connection with the hijackings even though he was in jail at the time.
What’s odd about this article is this new admission that comes out of the blue about the existence of another plane:
“Additional recordings would be played from the cockpit of an executive jet that tracked Flight 93 on Sept. 11, according to written proposals subject to approval by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema.”
Now look man I’m no researching expert but I did some searching and as far as I can tell this plane has never been mentioned or explained before. There were many witnesses of the crash who said they saw a white jet flying above Flight 93, or nearby immediately after the crash. Many witnesses thought this was a military jet that shot the plane down. Others disagreed. At the time, the FBI refused to confirm the presence of the second plane, then said they mispoke by not denying its presence. Except for some of the Pennsylvania press, these stories were dropped within a day or two and never mentioned again. The plane was forced down by the passengers, end of story. Why would there be another plane?
But now, as if nobody thought differently, there was another plane.
This new information brings up alot of questions:
- What does it mean that it was “tracking” Flight 93? Why was some plane full of mysterious rich dudes able to do this if the military wasn’t?
- If this plane was really there then why did the government hide it until now?
- Why was this plane of mysterious rich dudes in the air at a time when all civilian flights were grounded?
- Who was on the plane, why were they there, what were they trying to do, how did they do it, where did they go afterwards, why are they hiding their identities?
The article does nothing to answer these questions, or acknowledge that they exist. It does offer a little more information that only makes it all more suspicious:
“The government said it would play the cockpit voice recordings from Flight 93 and the executive jet in open court, but asked Brinkema to keep both recordings and their transcripts from dissemination outside the courtroom.
“An official for NetJets, a company that sells shares in private business aircraft, confirmed that the plane tracking Flight 93 belonged to the company. The official, who asked not to be named, said the company was asked not to comment on the Sept. 11 flight but would not say who made the request.”
My guess is that the government was lying to us before, and now they’re lying to us again (soon under oath) to hide that they shot down a plane that may have already been commandeered by its innocent passengers. But I don’t know. What the fuck happened? is an important question but I’m more concerned with why doesn’t the press care? If this information can come out without raising any eyebrows, then what the fuck is wrong with our national eyebrows?
There are two possibilities here that both look bad: either the government hid this plane from us before, or they are making it up now. We also know that they are either lying to hide the presence of a military jet, or (more sinister, in my opinion) there was a fucking EXECUTIVE JET tailing a hijacked plane! And nobody yet has found this worth writing a story about to find out, you know, what the hell? Whatever the deal is, a free and responsible press would be all over this story, trying to figure out what this plane was, why it was there, what exactly it did and who was on it. But I can’t find a single story about it yet (can you?) Instead they just slip it in casually like it’s a trivial detail. And this is the same sorry ass press we have to count on to give the suckers who are open to another oil war in Iraq reliable information.
PART 2: IRAQ ATTACK 2
So about Iraq. I mean they are really layin the propaganda on thick now and it’s turning into the mad tea party on tv and the radio.
They keep claiming that there are no plans to attack Iraq. And then they talk about when are we gonna attack Iraq. They’ve gotten us so used to the fact that they’re gonna attack Iraq for no reason that they’re getting people to argue over before they attack Iraq for no reason, shouldn’t they first tell Congress that they are going to attack Iraq for no reason?
Well hey, that’s not the argument. They shouldn’t attack Iraq. But if they were, then yes, they would be required by the constitution to have congress declare war. I mean that’s how it worked when we were still using parts of the constitution.
They did a hearing already. The gyst of it was hey, we have no plans to attack Iraq. But since you brought it up, why don’t you convince us to attack Iraq.
Then they piled it on about how Iraq has deadly weapons, etc. etc. One person they accidentally forgot to invite is this arms inspector Scott Ritter, who has been everywhere questioning whether Iraq really could have weapons. Look him up if you haven’t read about him. He is a republican, he believes in war, he’s even part of that select minority of people who voted for George W. Bush. And I know that doesn’t make him sound like the ripest banana on the tree but he does know these issues a fuck of alot better than I do, and he still says in no uncertain terms that a war is not justified.
And now they’re going through the old refusing to negotiate routine. First they say that the problem is that Saddam won’t let inspectors in. Then Saddam says look, you can send Congress in for 3 weeks, and they can bring any inspectors they want, just like you’ve been asking for forever. But our government, not willing to settle for peaceful solutions, says no, we’re not interested. And also even if he does allow inspectors in, we would still attack. I mean, we’re not going to, there are no plans, but I mean we would though, still, is what I mean. You know.
Sure, be suspicious of the offer. But also take it. That’s how you deal with problems in the real world, you negotiate. You try to convince people of things. You don’t just blow the shit out of everybody that has nothing to do with it, and expect the one asshole in the palace to change. That’s terrorism.
You don’t see this on CNN, but I’d bet that at least 20%-30% of americans, and a much larger perecentage in other countries, believe that Bush is a madman or idiot, that he is a zealot, that he stole the office, that he is a criminal who is using his time in office to steal more money for corporations, to weaken the constitution, and to make billions off of weapons by killing millions of people around the world.
So we don’t take him seriously when, for example, he claims that he is going to cut down on corporate crime. We don’t expect to see anyone from Enron, Halliburton or Harken get arrested (or detained indefinitely without charges). But we still try to talk sense into the guy. We don’t just say, “Bah, let’s nuke him.”
Unlike Bush, bin Laden and Hussein, we normal people don’t believe in terrorism. We figure these three are being unreasonable, we tell them what they’re wrong about. And I think alot of us would enjoy seeing all three of them in jail by any means possible. But we’re not gonna go blow up hospitals in Virginia and starve Washington DC to death to convince Bush to leave the white house.
But that’s the thing. The goal here really isn’t to get weapons inspectors in, or even to replace Hussein. They need a war or two, any war or two. This is yet another war about money and power – a war about keeping Bush’s popularity up (by destroying lives AND the economy), about controlling more oil, about filling the pockets of Bush’s many colleagues, golfing buddies and parents who make their millions through the manufacturing of deadly weapons. I mean if we run out of wars, how are we gonna keep justifying this military budget?
The real threat to them is not Saddam, but peace. So be prepared for the propaganda avalanche. Let’s not forget PART 1 in this series, I believe it was called OPERATION KILL THE RAGHEADS. And wasn’t that a shitty movie. The thing I remember most is how everybody wore yellow ribbons and shirts that said “Support our troops” on them. I always wondered how it was supporting troops to send them in to risk their lives over oil, and how it was spitting in their face to say hey, get them the fuck out of there.
It was a big PR swindle – trick everybody into thinking there are only two choices. Either you support the war, or you pee all over the poor saps who have to fight it.
Well now here it is a decade later and I don’t see any of you assholes with the bumper stickers supporting the tens of thousands of Gulf War vets who are saying wait, no seriously, I DO have a mysterious disease. Even if the government says I don’t. Where is your ribbon for that? Where are your Gulf War Syndrome commemorative collector cards? Collect all symptoms.
I don’t know who came up with “Support our troops” but I’ll bet it was a PR firm. Possibly the same one hired by Kuwait that notoriously cooked up a fake story about soldiers killing babies to convince Americans to go to war.
And now we’re dealing with a regime made up of many of the same people, who this time promised to run the country like a corporation, who are intimately involved in at least 3 major corporate fraud scandals, who are trying hard to make us forget about the recession that is already making us forget about the either a) complete moronic incompetence or b) deliberate backturning that led to some shit that went down last september. I don’t know if you remember that. This is also the regime that openly said they were going to lie to us during what they saw as a war that would never end, who tried to open a department of propaganda, whose figurehead is the son of the ex-CIA madman who pioneered the Media Blackout war when he invaded both Panama and Iraq during one four year presidency.
So man, I can’t wait to see what they come up with to convince us this time around. My guess is that they’ll say Saddam is behind the recent rash of kidnappings. Or maybe he pushed those miners into the mine.
I know I am rambling on but I need to get this out. Let’s think about this bullshit real quick. Yes, Iraq, like the US, is run by an unelected nutball. And let’s pretend, although it is obviously a load of horseshit, that Iraq really has somehow managed to build from scratch a stockpile of chemical or nuclear weapons without it being detected. Hell, let’s even pretend they have, let’s say, almost one tenth as many deadly weapons as we do. (which even fuckin George Bush wouldn’t claim with a straight face)
EVEN THEN, in that fantasy world, it’s hard to ignore the reality of who’s done what in the past. Has Iraq done anything to harm american citizens, ever? Not much. Not over here, not over there. I mean hell, even when we sent in troops to kill them, when we used experimental weapons like a tank/bulldozer that buried people alive, and when we started blowin up their hospitals pretending we thought they were weapons factories, they didn’t do all that much in self defense.
On the other hand, we did attack them, killing alot of their civilians. We destroyed their infrastructure, and then, just to rub it in, we killed an estimated 1.5 civilians through 11 years of sanctions. This continues, even while we “fight” against “terrorism,” we’re starving people to death. It almost makes you want to support the fuckin war, just to get it over with.
So really, who poses a threat to who here?
If you agree, please do us all a favor and NEVER SHUT UP about it. Write your corporately owned senators, call talk radio, write newspapers, rant on the internet (like me), bring it up at work, sign petitions. These guys are democrats, but oh well. Please sign their petition, or at least read it, because it makes some good points.
PART 3: THE GOOD NEWS
There is some good news, though. The bastards are already appealing it, but I had to smile when I saw the headline “Judge orders U.S. government to release names of 9/11 detainees”
It means a fuckin lot when an individual like me actually thinks a judge is cool. This gal gets the thumbs up from me for writing, “the first priority of the judicial branch must be to ensure that our government always operates within the statutory and constitutional constraints which distinguish a democracy from a dictatorship.” That’s in about half the articles you’ll find on this ruling. They just kind of throw it in there without acknowledging that a federal judge has just stated that Bush is trying to be a dictator.
PART 4: MORE BAD NEWS, THOUGH
Remember how as soon as it was announced, we knew the “WAR ON TERRORISM” was just gonna be a blanket excuse for every damn thing? Well just in case you haven’t seen any appalling enough examples, here’s one where our friendly government is using it to protect… now this may surprise you… an oil company. 11 Indonesian villagers have filed a lawsuit saying that “Exxon Mobil, which operates a natural gas field in the province, paid and directed Indonesian security forces that carried out murder, torture and rape in the course of protecting the company’s operations in the 1990s.”
So we’re saying hey, this might interfere. I mean I know on the surface it sounds like it doesn’t make any god damn sense at all, but this business of stopping murder, torture and rape, you know – it could interfere with the business of stopping terrorism. And it could interfere with US interests, you know, like pumping oil, and like murdering, torturing and raping people. Or, you know, I mean, what I mean to say is, erm, hahem. Uh… please join me in “God Bless America.”
PART 5: THE NERDY SHIT – DIGITAL PROJECTION AND VIDEO
Oh yeah, but, uh, movies. Last week I saw SIGNS at Seattle’s Cinerama, which I always considered the best theater in Seattle. That might have to change because now they seem to project everything digitally.
When the Boeing Digital logo came up I wasn’t the only one who groaned. A young man behind me told his girlfriend “digital projection sucks!” And I doubt he heard it from me.
I must admit though that SIGNS looked better digital than YODA ATTACK did. I think it’s because of the mostly shadowy cinematographism. During the Yoda picture, it was the brightly lit scenes, anything with sunlight or a bright white, that was noticeably pixelated. This time around it was distracting early on and then I kind of forgot about it.
But I did notice another flaw with the projection. Whenever the camera panned, it caused a bit of a flickering. This is something you see alot with real projection. According to my sources, there is a shutter which looks sort of like a propellor, that spins around to cover and then uncover the frame at a certain rate to help create the illusion of the moving pictures. This is what Cinema is all about, in my opinion, is the illusion of moving pictures. But let me get off of my soap box.
The point is that if this propellor deal is not lined up quite right, it does not hit at the exact right moment, and this can damage the illusion. It can create a flickering on the image that is most noticeable when the camera pans (moves sideways). So you might feel kinda sick as the camera does one of them establishing shots with some rock song playing to show all the people walkin on the street or whatever.
A digital projector doesn’t need this propellor deal though, but it manages to have the same problem. This time I don’t think it’s a maintenance problem that could be fixed if the projectionist knew what they were doing. I think the technology just hasn’t caught up yet. It’s not able to process the information fast enough. I’m sure this problem will be solved eventually but for now it’s yet another reason why digital projection doesn’t live up to the hype.
Digital video, though, I gotta admit I’m getting softer on that. At least when it’s used properly. I watched two new movies this week that were shot on the digital video, and it didn’t bother me on either one.
On one hand you had FULL FRONTAL which used a JULIEN THE DONKEY BOY approach, grinding the shit out of the footage so that it just looks as hideous as possible. Most critics seem to be saying this is the worst photography they’ve ever seen, but I liked it. It’s not trying to imitate film or amateur porn, it’s creating a look of its own that’s so muddy and blobby at times it is almost abstract.
Now this isn’t a look I want to see all the time but it worked here. And I definitely prefer it to movies like BAMBOOZLED where it looks like they’re trying to imitate a film look and doing a really, really bad job.
On the other hand there was SPY KIDS PART 2 which was using the more obvious approach of just pretending its film. This is the “high end dv” you hear about, the same thing they used for YODA ATTACK and VIDOCQ. And you know if I didn’t read it already, I woulda assumed this was film.
I think this is more significant than YODA ATTACK because although it’s still a movie with a real big budget and studio backing, it is much lower and made by a dude who doesn’t own his own effects company. He was still able to make a movie jammed full of ridiculous computer effects, and it is probaly true that he couldn’ta done it if he had to shoot it all on film and then wait for it to be developed to make sure it turned out all right. But he still made a movie that, at least to the casual observer such as myself, appears to be on real film. A real movie. (except about kids with gadgets flying around in submarines and swordfighting against skeletons and shit)
So it’s still gonna take a while but these are two movies that demonstrate that 1) digital video doesn’t necessarily have to look like garbage and 2) we are slowly edging toward that promise that computers can make big epic movies on modest budgets.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.