'Spartan' Director Mamet Spins Tale of Conspiracy, Corruption
by Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press, Posted on Wed, March 10, 2004
(Posted here by Wes Penre for www.illuminati-news.com, March 20, 2004)
"Write it down, Oct. 17," says David Mamet, when asked to defend the
presumption of his riveting new thriller, "Spartan," which is that
the American public is blissfully unaware of how its government
"That's the day they (meaning the Bush administration)
announce that they have found bin Laden," says Mamet.
"If I'm wrong, it will only be because its hand has
been forced by a reporter with no one's water
to carry or a turncoat. This is a vicious game and it
always has been, and most of the time the public would
just rather not know."
Mamet may be one of the few show business figures
worth taking seriously on such subjects, and not
just because he can claim among
his writing credits the all-too-prescient satire "Wag the Dog," about
an administration that invents a war to distract the public from a
For one thing, Mamet has never been burdened by a liberal agenda. For
another, he immersed himself in the history of the military and
espionage before writing "Spartan," which is not about a Michigan
"I read reams," says Mamet, rattling off a long list of tomes, from
books on the CIA and military defense to international political
histories, investigations and memoirs. His conclusion is that anyone
who doesn't acknowledge the existence of government-approved or -
assisted conspiracies and off-the-books missions is either hopelessly
or purposely naive.
Not that all conspiracies are created equal, Mamet allows: There's
far more evidence, for example, of an agreement to prevent the
release of the American hostages in Iran until after Ronald Reagan's
inauguration in 1981 than there is of any involvement by Lyndon
Johnson and the CIA in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Mamet bows to no one in his explorations of men and power,
but "Spartan" is first and foremost a thriller. It bears a far
greater resemblance to the intricate macho manipulations of
his "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "House of Games" in content and style
than to recent plays like "Boston Marriage," a period piece about a
lesbian relationship, and semisweet confections like the film "State
"Spartan" stars Val Kilmer as a special operations officer called to
duty when "the girl" goes missing. Her identity is kept a mystery for
some time, but from the presence of high-level government officials
at every level of the investigation, we can assume it is not the
niece of an agriculture secretary.
With its machine-gun dialogue, unabashed masculinity and moral
dilemmas, "Spartan" will almost certainly be compared to the work
that made Mamet a brand name. He views it, not surprisingly, as
completely contemporary, a reflection of the present, though one
viewed through a cracked mirror.
"To run for office in this climate, one has to either join or accept
the reality of secret societies and make constant decisions about
secret knowledge. Not that the movie business or the real estate
business isn't similar, it's just that the stakes aren't as high when
you're using currency as opposed to human beings as your game
pieces," Mamet says.
Mamet wrote "Spartan" at the suggestion of producer and fellow
Chicagoan Art Linson, who shares Mamet's fascination with power and
moral corruption (his credits include "Fight Club" and "Heat"). He
has teamed with Mamet on projects including "The Untouchables" and
the con-man caper "Heist."
It was Linson who suggested Val Kilmer for the role of the secret ops
agent who ends up a target of the people he supposedly works for, and
if Mamet knew about Kilmer's reputation as a problem child, he didn't
"I had an absolute blast working with Val," says Mamet. "One of the
most pleasurable experiences with an actor I've ever had."
Though Kilmer is notorious for rewriting the dialogue of his
characters, Mamet's rhythmic, percussive approach to writing and
directing (he does both here) does not lend itself to too much
interpretation, which is one reason he tends to use the same actors -
including William H. Macy, who has a pivotal role in "Spartan" - over
Kilmer says he had no reason to want to rewrite a word.
"Come on, this guy's the best at what he does, and he has something
most writers and directors don't these days, which is backbone," says
"When you're dealing with somebody who is actually in charge, and who
knows what he's talking about, you can have a real collaboration
without having to go to the mat."
While Mamet was putting the finishing touches on "Spartan," he was
also in preproduction on his version of "Dr. Faustus," which opened
in San Francisco last month to mixed reviews.
Meanwhile, he is at work on his next film script, which he says tells
the story of Joan of Arc's dog, Fluffy, "the dog who saved France."
Assuring the writer he is not pulling his leg, he says the film has
already been shopped to, and rejected by, most of the Hollywood
"When they can't understand it, I figure I'm on the right track, so,
so far, so good."
The Judas Economy
(Conspiracy Nation, 3/8/04) -- Writing in 1997, the authors of The
Judas Economy warned that the "appearance on the scene of vast
numbers of elite workers in the emerging world, willing and anxious
to work for less, is intensifying the pressure in developed countries
to drastically pare down and cut costs." (The Judas Economy by
William Wolman and Anne Colamosca. Addison-Wesly Publishing, 1997.
Seven years later, the authors' warning is proved correct by current
concerns about outsourcing.
The world ends not with a bang but with a whimper: "If American
prosperity dies, it is more likely to be with a whimper, not a
bang." "There is a quiet desperation... It's all very quiet. Very
private. But the agony is widespread." (Wolman & Colamosca, op. cit.)
The system works to gradualize economic collapse, to prevent wide
public outcry. On the other hand, the system is fallible and a
revolutionary sudden collapse could occur. There is an uncanny sense
of hope in statements by, for example, Lyndon LaRouche, predicting
imminent global financial meltdown: "Good. Then at least the bullshit
will end," is the implicit hope. The Capitalists have their
government stooges working to gradualize the transition to
hopelessness; others hope that the experts will fail so that
meaningful change is forced to happen.
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, where wealth
accumulates and men decay. The supposedly populist stock market is in
fact mostly owned by a relative few. "The vast majority of stock in
this country, after all, is held by the richest 5 percent of the
population." (Wolman & Colamosca, op. cit.) Yet news of stock market
gains is presented by the corporate media as if it's something we
should all cheer about.
The authors trace an accelerated betrayal of workers to 1988 and the
end of the Cold War: "The sudden collapse of Communism raised the
power of global capitalism to new heights." Whatever you think of
Communism, the demise of Capitalism's arch-foe left it free to bully
whomever it chose.
What has been gradually happening, say Wolman and Colamosca, is a
synthesis of labor where an antithesis, for example, between
conditions of Chinese workers and American workers slowly levels out:
A "new heaven" for third-world workers; a "new hell" for workers in
the developed world. "At the end, relative wages, heaven and hell,
Other myths challenged by the authors:
...that small business is the prime generator of new jobs. This "has
been greatly exaggerated."
The unemployment statistics are misleading. The "labor force
participation rate for men aged twenty-five to fifty-four has been
falling since 1971." These are the "discouraged workers" who are not
calculated into the unemployment rate. In 1995, for example, 838,000
men wanted to work but had given up looking for a job.
The Federal Reserve is not owned by the general public but by the
commercial banks who hold the stock in the system. The role of
various Fed chairmen is to "dissemble; tell the public as little as
possible about what you are really up to..."
"In the 1990s we witnessed a concentration of wealth that is probably
without historical precedent in the United States, one to which the
wealth concentration [during the 1920s] was only a pallid prelude."
The low taxes granted to some are spent largely on goods and services
not produced in the United States.
We are now in a phase of history where "finance rules all." But
historically "the financialization of society has always been a
symbol that a nation's economic position has entered a phase of
deterioration." (Wolman & Colamosca, op. cit.)
In 1997 the authors were warning of a "new crisis of capitalism." The
only question is, will the deterioration be sudden or (relatively)
gradual. The government stooges are working to keep things gradual
and the corporate media strives to mask the crisis, otherwise the
People would wake up.
Think outside the box.
McDonald's to Dump Supersize Portions
Wed Mar 3, 2004
By DAVE CARPENTER, AP Business Writer
CHICAGO - Hold the fries - at least the super-sized version. In a
sign of the times, McDonald's is getting rid of the extra-large
portions that had become one of its signatures. The burger giant said
it has begun phasing out Supersize fries and drinks in its more than
13,000 U.S. restaurants and will stop selling them altogether by
year's end, except in promotions.
The company cited the need to trim a menu that has expanded in recent
years and said eliminating super-sizing is only part of that effort.
"The driving force here was menu simplification," spokesman Walt
Riker said after McDonald's disclosed the change in strategy in a
brief statement late Tuesday. "The fact of the matter is not very
many Supersize fries are sold."
But the downsizing of super-sizing comes with fast-food companies,
especially industry behemoth McDonald's, under intense pressure to
cater to Americans' growing preference for healthier food options.
The move is part of McDonald's "Eat Smart, Be Active" initiative,
which it launched last year under first-year CEO Jim Cantalupo and
U.S. operations chief Mike Roberts in an attempt to revive then-
stagnant U.S. sales.
McDonald's added entree salads with great success last year and has
been moving to provide more fruit, vegetable and yogurt options with
its Happy Meals. But the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company remains a
lightning rod for public criticism - and legal action - when it comes
to obesity and other health worries.
Two lawsuits claiming McDonald's hid the health risks of eating Big
Macs and Chicken McNuggets were thrown out in federal court in New
York last year. An award-winning documentary called "Super Size Me"
then reaped more unwanted publicity for McDonald's. The documentary,
which chronicles the deterioration of filmmaker Morgan Spurlock's
health during a monthlong experiment eating nothing but McDonald's
food, won a directing prize at the Sundance Film Festival and is set
for wide release this spring.
Riker said the phasing out of super-sizing has "nothing to do with
that (film) whatsoever."
The company has called the documentary "a super-sized distortion of
the quality, choice and variety available at McDonald's." It says the
film is not about McDonald's but about Spurlock's decision to act
irresponsibly by eating 5,000 calories a day - "a gimmick to make a
Richard Adams, a former McDonald's franchising executive and now an
independent consultant for franchisees, said health concerns no doubt
factored into the decision. But he said the company has been
promising to clear up some of the "clutter" on its menu since adding
a slew of new products in the late 1990s when domestic sales were
"Now that sales have improved, it's easier to pull things off the
menu," said Adams, who operates Franchise Equity Group. "When sales
are declining, the corporation and the franchisees are terrified at
the prospect of selling a few less 42-ounce drinks. When sales are on
the upswing, it's easier to admit that you can't be everything to
McDonald's detailed the menu changes - quietly under way since
January - in a seven-page memo to franchisees, obtained by The
Associated Press. The elimination of the 7-ounce "Supersize" carton
of fries is part of a switch from five size options down to three;
the biggest will now be the 6-ounce "large" fries.
"The reason for reducing the number of fry sizes is to simplify
operations and enhance our ability to deliver better service to our
guests," the memo said, adding that the 7-ounce carton "will be
eliminated as part of our healthy lifestyle initiative."
The other changes include making bagels an optional breakfast
product, dropping 2 percent milk in favor of exclusively 1 percent
and otherwise tweaking the size and choice of items in order to come
up with a "core" menu that reflects customers' preferences.
Some customers had a mixed reaction to the news.
Jamie Cox, 19, dining at a McDonald's in downtown Chicago with his
girlfriend Tuesday night, said he normally super-sizes his meal but
usually throws out leftover fries. "It's a waste," he
acknowledged. "Once they get cold, they're nasty. But we would die
without the (Supersize) drink."
Another Chicago patron who likes Supersize, 21-year-old Ward Stare,
said he could do without the extra-large portions.
"When you think about it, there's not much of a difference between
the large and Supersize," he said. "You just pay more. ... I don't
think I would miss it that much as long as you still get a good
proportion of food."
McDonald's shares rose 4 cents to $28.46 in morning trading on the
New York Stock Exchange.
On the Net:
AFL-CIO votes to spend $44m to unseat Bush
By Leigh Strope, Associated Press, 3/11/2004
BAL HARBOUR, Fla. -- Labor leaders voted yesterday to spend $44
million to mobilize union household voters in November against
President Bush, a record sum in an election they say is do-or-die for
the labor movement.
The AFL-CIO's get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of Senator John F.
Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, are concentrated in a few
battleground states that labor leaders believe will determine the
next occupant of the White House. Florida, Ohio, and Missouri top the
"People are fed up with this administration's inability to create
good jobs and get our country back on track," AFL-CIO President John
J. Sweeney said. "They are demanding a change, and we plan to give it
Union leaders meeting this week at a luxury seaside resort approved
an increase in the assessments they pay to the AFL-CIO to help fund
the $44 million effort, which does not include money the affiliates
will spend individually on their own programs. The 64 unions agreed
to pay 48 cents per member.
Labor's strength in the workplace has been plummeting, but union
members have remained reliable voters for Democrats. One in four
voters in the 2000 election was from a union household. That year,
the AFL-CIO spent about $41 million to mobilize its 13 million
members and their families.
Overall, organized labor funneled $90 million into the 2000 election,
and followed with almost $97 million in 2002, according to the Center
for Responsive Politics, which tracks political donations. Bush
expects to raise at least $170 million for his reelection bid.
Previous election efforts focused on registering and turning out new
union voters. This time, the AFL-CIO is targeting undecided and swing
union household voters.
In the battleground states narrowly won by Bush in 2000, those voters
could make all the difference.
Hollywood Disaster Film Set To Turn Heat On Bush
By Dan Glaister
The Guardian UK
Movie depicting horrors of global warming could boost votes for
Democrat challenger Here's the pitch: a dullish candidate, outflanked
by his opponent's serious money, attacked for his liberal leanings,
is swept to an unlikely victory thanks to a blockbuster movie that
focuses on the effects of big business and the agro-industrial
Audiences throw their popcorn aside, pick up their ballot papers and
realise that they too can make a difference. The studio behind the
movie: 20th Century Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch. The director:
Roland Emmerich; no Martin Sheen-style bleeding heart Democrat but
the brawn behind Independence Day.
It sounds unlikely, but this summer might just see an alliance of
commerce, populist entertainment and feel-good concern combine to
weaken President George Bush and hand votes to his expected Democrat
rival John Kerry.
On the other hand, the film could tank, like one of its director's
other monster-budget summer openings, Godzilla.
May 28 sees the worldwide release of The Day After Tomorrow, the eco-
armageddon story to beat all others.
The first trailers for the film, released on the internet last week,
give a taste of the scale of the eco-horrors to come. Filmed in a
combination of slick computer generated special effects and faux
newscast verité, tidal waves sweep across cities and snow piles
halfway up the towers of Manhattan as disjointed voices articulate
the chaos around them.
"What you are seeing is happening now," says a breathless
newsreader. "Look over behind me," shouts a TV reporter, "that's a
tornado, yes, a twister." The film cuts to a volcano erupting next to
the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. A huge flock of birds flies across
the sky, a mass of people is seen crossing the Rio Grande between
Mexico and the United States.
Filmed with a budget of more than $100m (£55.6m) and special effects
said to be the greatest thing since, well, since the last big budget
movie, the film has one other difference from other Hollywood
blockbusters: it has a conscience.
"At some point during the filming we looked around at all the lights,
generators and trucks and we realised the very process of making this
picture is contributing to the problem of global warming," the
director and producers say in a statement on the film's official
website. "We couldn't avoid putting CO2 into the atmosphere during
the shoot, but we discovered we could do something to make up for it;
we could make the film carbonneutral." By planting trees they will
take out the CO2 the production put in.
The film's website includes a lengthy list of internet links to
organisations that have researched the effects of global warming.
During filming last year, Emmerich described the film as "a popcorn
movie that's actually a little subversive".
Whether this is the typical hype that surrounds a Hollywood
blockbuster or the heartfelt statement of a tortured artist does not
really matter. What seems certain is that the film will help to
propel global warming and the environment high up the political
President Bush is known to be sceptical about the possibility of
global warming, while the environment is a traditional strong card
for the Democrats. With issues such as oil drilling rights in Alaska
playing strongly among some voters, the president's opponents have
regularly attacked him for the favouritism he is perceived to have
shown to the fossil fuel giants that dominate the US economy.
The Pentagon even got in on the act, releasing a study last month
that suggested that one outcome of global warming could be the rise
of mass civil unrest. In one scenario, drought, famine and rioting
erupt across the world, spurred on by climate change. As countries
face dwindling food supplies and scarce natural resources, conflict
becomes the norm.
"Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life," says the
Pentagon study. "Once again, warfare would define human life."
"The climate is going to play a significant role in the campaign,"
said Luke Breit, chairman of the Democrat's environmental caucus in
California, where the environment is traditionally a key political
issue. "John Kerry is mentioning clean air and water at every
opportunity. It's going to be on the first tier of issues. Our job is
to make clear how anti-environment the government has been."
But while it can be fortuitous for an event such as a mass appeal
movie to come along and propel an issue to the forefront of voters'
consciousness, there are also pitfalls. "The danger is it could make
it look more trivial," said Mr Breit. "My guess is that people in the
environmental leadership around the country are holding their breath.
I'm hoping that it's going to be very good and that we have great
entertainment value but that at the same time it treats the science
One US environmental pressure group has already enlisted the help of
one of the film's stars, Jake Gyllenhaal, to help promote its agenda
while promoting the film.
The Day After Tomorrow's advance publicity suggests a typical
Hollywood mix of fact, fantasy and hype: fake weather reports and
testimonies from fans about where they would like to be the day the
world dies are mixed with earnest exhortations to help avert global
And Hollywood has been here before. The Perfect Storm, Armageddon and
Twister all combined Hollywood's love of little people battling
insurmountable natural - and unnatural - powers while giving great
"In Independence Day Roland Emmerich brought you the near destruction
of the earth by aliens," says the website. "Now, in The Day After
Tomorrow, the enemy is an even more devastating force: nature
itself." It'll have them voting in the aisles.
Saturday, March 20, 2004 12:07:42 -0800