Fast Food Nation, Richard Linklater's movie adaptation of Eric Schlosser's seemingly unadaptable muckraking book, hits theaters today. Before you dig in, whet your appetite with our recent interview with Linklater and our review of the flim. And check out this piece Schlosser wrote for MJ about slaughterhousesAmerica's most dangerous workplaces. Bon apetit!
That's the question posed by Tom Engelhardt in a new piece that deflates some of the hype surrounding the retun of Robert Gates and Jim Baker. The conventional wisdom is that "daddy's boys" have arrived to (once again) save George W. Bush's butt from a fiasco of his own making. (See this week's Newsweek cover for the short version of this satisfying pop psych-meets-poli sci analysis.) But Engelhardt suspects that rather than advocating redeployment or withdrawal, Gates and Baker may just prolong our involvement by signing onto the recently floated plans to send more troops to give it the old school try:
...[P]erhaps the disaster behind us will be nothing compared to the disaster ahead, especially if Daddy's Boys, the Iraq Study Group, other Democratic and Republican movers and shakers, and all those generals and former generals floating around our world decide that this isn't the moment to rediscover a Colin Powell-style "exit strategy," but "one last chance" to succeed by any definition in Iraq. Then, god help us -- and the Iraqis. Sooner or later, we'll undoubtedly be gone from a land so determinedly hostile to being occupied by us, but that end moment could still be a long, long time in coming.
Here, for instance, is Robert Gates' thinking eighteen months ago in a seminar at the Panetta Institute at California State University in Monterey on "phased troop withdrawals" from Iraq:
"But Mr. Gates qualified his comments, noting it sometimes takes time to accomplish your goals. Sixty years after the end of the Second World War, 'there are still American troops in Germany,' he noted. 'We've had troops in Korea for over 50 years. The British have had troops in Cyprus for 40 years If you want to change history, you have to be prepared to stay as long as it takes to do the job."
So hold onto your hats. Tragedy and more tragedy seems almost guaranteed, and the Pentagon has just submitted to Congress a staggering $160 billion supplemental appropriation request in order to continue its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Engelhardt says we should expect "endless months or years of non-withdrawal withdrawal plans" combined with preparations for a permanent American presence in Iraq (a story that hasn't received much mainstream attention but was covered in MJlast year.) George Bush Sr.'s cavalry may have arrived, but we're far from being rescued.
The rebranding and repackaging of America marches on... The SF Chroniclereports that the cash-strapped Golden Gate has hired a consultant to look for corporate sponsors:
The consultant's recommendations could include installing signs at the south visitors area or on benches and sidewalks at the ends of the bridge.
"This is not a naming rights deal," cautioned bridge spokeswoman Mary Currie. "It's more of a behind-the-scenes, low-key, corporate partnership, much like the Proud Partners Program in the national parks."
According to the pending contract, "the sponsorship program must enhance the value of the Golden Gate Bridge's 'brand' and its image as an internationally recognized icon of historical engineering and architectural significance."
Bartram and Currie said the district's plans follow the lead of the National Park Service's "Proud Partners Program," which has raised $100 million from corporations such as Discover and Ford Motor Co. Currie noted that signs at trailheads in some parks greet hikers with: "This trail brought to you by Ford."
Hopefully any Silicon Valley companies thinking about getting a piece of the bridge will consider the cautionary tale of microchip magnate Max Zorin's unsuccessful 1985 attempt to use the bridge in his bid for world corporate domination.
That's the scuttlebutt from the New Hampshire Union Leader, which says former California Republican Rep. Bob "B-1" Dornan is considering throwing his hat into the ring for 2008. His platform? Purge the adulterers and gays from the GOP:
"I can't stand the thought of my party having as its three front-runners three open adulterers, Newt Gingrich, Giuliani, and McCain," Dornan said.
"I've got one mission left in me, to come up to New Hampshire and tell the truth, and tell the Republicans you better find yourself a fresh face and not Rudy Giuliani who took his mistress around with him and then divorces Donnna who learns she was divorced sitting at home watching TV with her children.
"We need a fresh face if the Republican Party is going to appeal to an Orthodox Jewish, Evangelical or practicing Catholic."
Aside from adultery, Dornan's other issue is homosexuality, which he called "a cancer in my party."
He said he'd consider backing the right candidate or even running for President himself.
"Fifteen hundred bucks (to file for President)? It would be worth it if I could stand in front of a huge audience again and say, folks, is the Republican Party the party of values, the party of life?"
Oh, this is gonna be good. Let's see if thisunlike many of Dornan's pet military aviation projectscan actually get off the ground.
What will bring down communist Cuba once and for all? Will it be the post-Castro power vaccum, the trade embargo, or the Cuban people's insatiable yearning for a good box of chocolate? The Miami Herald reports today that a new report from the Government Accountability Office has found some questionable spending by anti-Castro groups getting money from the U.S. government:
One recipient, the GAO says, used USAID funds to purchase a chain saw, Nintendo Game Boys and Sony PlayStations, a mountain bike, leather coats, cashmere sweaters, crabmeat and Godiva chocolates.
Juan Carlos Acosta, executive director of Miami-based Acción Democrática Cubana, told The Miami Herald in an interview Tuesday that except for the chain saw, he bought the items and sent them to people in Cuba.
He said he bought the chain saw to cut a branch that had fallen near the door of his office after a hurricane. He bought ''five or six'' cans of crabmeat and some boxes of chocolate to send to Cuba.
''These people are going hungry,'' he said. "They never get any chocolate there.''
Asked why he'd sent cashmere sweaters to Cuba, Acosta replied, "They [auditors] think it's not cold there." Plus, "At $30, it's a bargain because cashmere is expensive."