Heaven and Earth
Thoughts on Baseball, Art, and Other Altered States

Tobacco Road
Tom Rogers and the Philip Morris Tollway

Coyote Waits
Native American folklore says that Coyote will outlive us all and be the last survivor on earth

Hallucination Engine Revisited
The Psycho-dynamic Obsolescence of General Motors

search engine by freefind


Unprecedented, Uncovered and Unconstitutional: Robert Greenwald, Iraq
W hile Karl Rove is green lighting the Bush 2004 presidential campaign — a soft-focus Morning in America montage that edits out four years of scandal, fear-mongering and war — Robert Greenwald is busy creating a trilogy documenting the Bush administration’s first and, hopefully, last term.

Greenwald produced part one, Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election, in 2002. It’s a disturbing look at the Florida election — a twisted undemocratic process tainted by irregularities, electoral injustices, and voter purges in a state governed by the winning candidate's brother.

Next, Greenwald produced and directed Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War. Told through more than 20 interviews with experts totaling over 300 years of government experience, Uncovered exposes the distortion of intelligence that led the U.S. into its current quagmire in the Middle East.

Now, Greenwald is working on part three of the trilogy. Mike Kaspar and I spoke with him on our KUCI radio show, Weekly Signals, about his work and the upcoming presidential election.

Bush has been called “the worst president in history.” Isn’t it disheartening to work on a project about his life?

"There’s at least one hopeful thing that has happened because of Bush: Politics has come back into the center of people’s lives. In my profession, making films, I’ve never seen a greater concern, involvement and discussion on an ongoing basis. That talk is usually about what movie is getting green lit. Now, there’s a tremendous discussion about politics — who’s going to be the candidate, campaign issues and the state of the country. I see tremendous hope in that because in survey after survey Bush is shown to be out of touch on the issues. His is a radical right agenda not connected to the way that the majority of Americans feel. And if we all can get off our butts and work hard enough, there will be a difference in 2004."

You released Uncovered at the end of 2003 in a unique way. Over 2,600 people from all over the country held DVD premier house parties. What’s happening with the film now and do you think it’s having any political effect?

"The film has an unsettling effect on people who feel that the war was the right thing to do based on how dangerous they were told Saddam Hussein was. To them it was profoundly unsettling because they weren't given the right information by their government.

"There is no doubt that Hussein was a terrible danger to his own people, but the notion that he was a danger to the rest of the world is nonsense."

Will a change of presidents bring about a quick reversal of our foreign policy?

"Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who I have enormous respect for, said something that continues to trouble me. He said that this is not going to take a couple of years to rectify. There’s been a lot of damage to the our country’s reputation, starting with where we were on 911 when ninety percent of the world supported us to now, when ninety percent is against us. This is going to be a long-term reclamation project. So, if there’s a change in the presidency in 2004, whoever it is will have to work long and hard. It will be difficult to get it turned around."

Who among the Democratic candidates is best suited for the job?

"I think there are many people better suited for the job than Bush — and this is just my personal opinion — or Lieberman, who I would not support. But otherwise I think there are many capable candidates and hopefully, sooner rather than later, there will be one. Then, the country can have a real debate and see the alternatives to Bush’s policies."

Lately, some members of the Democratic Party have spent more time criticizing the frontrunner, Howard Dean, then criticizing Bush. What’s your take on the bickering?

"I’m almost embarrassed by the way several of these candidates are dragging themselves into the gutter, running a campaign that’s anti-Dean.

"No one is going to vote for anybody because they’re anti-Dean. No one is going to vote for a Democrat because he’s busy attacking another Democrat.

"It’s nonsense and we’re seeing that the candidates who are leading the attacks are just falling further and further behind in the polls. If they agree that the current president is a serious threat to many of the things that Americans believe in, then I would hope that they would campaign on a different level and not just campaign on what looks like pure ambition."

What is store for 2004?

"Uncovered is the second part of a trilogy. The first part was Unprecedented, and the third, that we’re working on right now, is called Unconstitutional: Civil Liberties After 911. We will have it out by May or June.

"There are heart wrenching, painful stories about people whose civil liberties are being abused every day in the name of the war on terrorism. Unconstitutional will be told partly with interviews with experts, as we did in Uncovered. But its primarily going to be a personal emotional narrative. We want to bring home to people that their civil liberties are not just abstract concepts. Civil liberties effect how we live our lives. Even a lot of conservatives agree that we’re seeing an enormous destruction of those liberties right now. Again, it’s an issue that shows Americans are not supportive of the Bush administration."

Will John Ashcroft have a starring role in the new film?

"We’ll take a hard look at the Patriot Act and John Ashcroft being the champion of that. But it’s not just one guy. It’s a law that was passed in the middle of the night, not read by many legislators, just forced through at a time when they were literally told that if they didn't sign it then, they’re going to be to blame when something bad happens in this country. Today, there’s evidence that the Patriot Act has been completely ineffective and a complete waste of resources."

Are you working on any other similar film projects for 2004?

"I’m also working with the AFL-CIO in creating a 15-minute piece about Bush’s war on jobs and the loss of jobs. Hopefully, that will also help in connecting to another constituency."

How can progressives help change the national agenda?

"Historically, issues effect the candidates. But there’s a tendency for progressives and liberals to say “Where is our knight in shining armor?” I say it’s the opposite. If you look at civil rights, or the women’s movement or the environmental movement — all of them started at the grass roots level. Then, the politicians followed. It’s their job to follow. So, whatever is the strongest issue — environment, jobs, health care — I urge you passionately to get involved with it to make it more forceful. Then, believe me, whoever the candidates are, they will be responsive."

— Nathan Callahan, January 7, 2004


© NathanCallahan.com / Nathan Callahan / all rights reserved