Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another WikiLeaks Doc Dump (Finally) -- and Asleep At The Wheel (Finally)

This might be an unworkable juxtaposition, but we'll give it a try and see what can be squoze out of it.

Julian has now dumped close to 400,000 mostly field reports about the Iraq Occupation on the eagerly awaiting public. Well. Except that from the yawning news reports it looks like the Gatekeepers don't much care anymore what WikiLeaks does or doesn't do. They haven't ignored the dump altogether, although in fact, it has been a non-story pretty much throughout the "Progressive" Blogosphere. The Major Mass Media has pretty much confined themselves to noting in passing that "there is this."

Once again, Julian "partnered" with Der Spiegel, Guardian UK, and the New York Times, apparently along with al Jazeera and BBC this time, and they've had the docs for months, analyzing the heck out of them to "find the lies" that have been told all these years.

This is always a puzzling perspective to me. The "lies." Well, if you want to deal with The Lies, then go back to the propaganda from the leading governments involved in the attack on and occupation of Iraq, and then go through the coverage of their propaganda, and then look at just about any initial report of "action" in the Iraq Theater. It's almost all lies, and it has been lies from the get go.

If you don't recognize that, then you really, honestly have not been paying attention at all. If you don't start with the premise that whatever they say about what is happening and what happened is a lie -- and neither the MSM nor the blogosphere starts there -- then you've got events all balled up in your mind, and you're probably never going to be able to come to grips with the enormity of the Lies Upon Lies that have been at the foundation of Our Middle East Imperial Adventure and especially of the Conquest of Iraq.

I remember years ago that I mentioned in a comment, probably at Glenn's Place, that if the Pentagon was saying it, or if field commanders and Public Information Offices in Iraq were saying it, it was probably -- in fact almost certainly -- a Lie. A fabrication. A falsehood. A deception. A fraud. One of the commenters -- Retired Military Patriot, who had been a PIO during his time in service -- took offense. He could not believe that the military people involved today would actually fabricate "information," and deliberately disseminate lies. It just wasn't done that way in his day, ie: Post Vietnam. But over and over again, as incidents in Iraq were reported, it was clear they did lie, first and foremost, and often to the bitter end.

So. Here's WikiLeaks dumping docs through their media Partners, and whaddaya know. Lies were routine. Gee. Anyone who was paying attention could see that back in the day, without WikiLeaks "revealing" it. It was obvious.

Well. It was obvious to me. It was obvious to a lot of other observers. The Pentagon and its people are incapable of telling the truth about pretty much anything. They lie to the Public and apparently to one another as a matter of course. They must be trained to lie. They must live in lies so profound and so deep seated they no longer have any conception of "Lying".

And this is an infection that has spread through much of the government and the media/corporate complex ("Our Rulers" as it were) it serves. We ought to blame Bernays and the success of the Public Relations game back in the 20th Century. The methods were adopted and perfected, and now apparently, the Powers That Be have no inkling of the simple fact that they are lying to the public -- and to one another -- all. the. time.

The latest WikiLeaks doc dump is being met pretty much with yawns all over the media-plex. First, it's too large to handle rationally and methodically. Second, what it apparently shows is... lies. The field reports themselves are -- apparently -- often lies. In other words, there is little truth anywhere. You can't find it from the docs. What you can find is that media reporting from the field was often inadequate or wrong. That's about it.

But we knew that. Didn't we?

At one point during the flap over the Afghanistan Doc Dump, Julian said something like "the problem isn't WikiLeaks, the problem is the secrecy."

That's good as far as it goes. There is no earthy reason to classify all these documents; there is no point in the Government as a whole classifying so much information so often. Except that by doing so, the Government can -- and sometimes does -- selectively release "secret information" when and how it chooses. Given the fact that WikiLeaks routinely partners with major media outlets, outlets that are routinely denounced as propaganda outlets, one is justified in suspecting that WikiLeaks partially serves that selective release function.

As much of a problem as all that secrecy is, there is a deeper problem that Julian, the major mass media and much of the blogosphere don't deal with, though: the perpetual Lies. It just isn't discussed.

Maybe everybody is so caught up in it they can't figure it out. I don't know. But clearly Bernays still rules.


As for Asleep At the Wheel, well...

They're a retro-Western-Swing band out of Austin, been around -- they say -- for 40 years now, and for more than thirty of those years, I've been wanting to see them. Missing them by "just this much." Truly. They were once based in Northern California and would perform from time to time in the Bay Area and Central Valley -- this back in the early '70's -- and that's how I got to know them. They were played on local radio in Northern California long before they were elsewhere. And their gigs were often close by. But back then, actually getting to one of their shows was difficult for me, sometimes impossible. Then they moved to Austin, and while they were producing lots of music, one didn't see them around here much at all.

Time passes, the years go by. In the '80's I was producing/directing occasional musical shows, and some of the people this got me involved with were associated with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in one way or another. In the 1950's Bob Wills had a resort off of what was then known as Highway 40 out of Sacramento called Wills Point. When I was a kid, I used to go swimming out there in their huge blue-bottomed pool. Well before I was born, my mother used to go out dancing at the Aragon Ballroom, which became the Wills Point ballroom after Bob Wills bought the place. Wills Point was run by Billy Jack Wills, Bob's brother. He had his own band that played there and regionally, while Bob Wills continued touring nationally, and they (Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys) sometimes would wind up playing at Wills Point. Then, thousands would show up to his shows. I think Bob Wills also had a ranch in Fresno. So there were deep connections between the Wills family and their operations and the Central Valley of California, much as there are still between Bakersfield and the Central Valley and Merle Haggard and Buck Owens (and Dwight Yoakam and so on and so forth, but I digress.)

Asleep At the Wheel is sometimes thought of as a "Bob Wills Tribute Band," in part because they have always done a lot of Bob Wills music, and a few years ago, they put together a play called "A Ride With Bob" that included plenty of Bob Wills music along with a fictionalized story line based partly on what might have happened if Bob Wills and Ray Benson (AATW's head man) had met. (An aside, they did meet, but it was a sad meeting as Bob Wills was incapacitated by stroke).

Back in the day, I started but never completed work on a play I called "Red" that was based in part on the legacy of Bob Wills -- in the Valley especially -- told through the eyes (and song stylings) of the daughter of one of his band members. I'm thinking I may have to go back to it.

At any rate, when I've been in New Mexico over the last few years, I've missed Asleep At the Wheel repeatedly because my own schedule required me to arrive just after they left, or required me to leave just as they were arriving. This happened over and over, at least five or six times. It became something of a running joke.

So a few months ago, I saw that they would be performing a "tribute to Bob Wills" show at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on Wednesday of this week, so I boldly got tickets since so far as I knew my schedule would keep me in California this week. Sure enough. Though San Francisco is "my city" in that I once lived there, and it's been my closest destination city for fifty years or more, and I've been to many many SF venues over the years, I'd never been to the Herbst. So that would be a bonus treat. It was the site of the signing of the UN Charter back in the day, after all.

Spent the day in San Francisco Wednesday -- and I realized I hadn't been there for... years. I have to say, it was really nice being back. And the show was well worth the wait, though I crabbed it was falsely advertised by the SF Jazz Festival, as it was not really all that much of a tribute to Bob Wills. But that didn't matter in the end. I got to see Asleep At the Wheel for the first time, and it was grand.

Thursday I was idly noodling around on the InterWebs and saw that AATW was scheduled to perform in Sacramento at a club I hadn't been to for many years. Oh. Dear. Somehow I had missed this gig listing previously. Not that I check their tour dates all that often. So I ordered up some tickets, and went to see them again on Thursday, and had a great time in a very intimate setting. They did a somewhat different show to boot, which made it all that much more entertaining.

During the show, Ray Benson mentioned the band's early career in Northern California and mentioned being played on KRAK radio in Sacramento, one of the first stations to play AAtW anywhere, and gigs at what was then called Crabshaw Corner, and I (along with many other old coots in the audience) had to laugh. Just the mention of Crabshaw Corner.... ha! This was the first time they'd been back to Sacramento since then, almost 40 years, and those who remember Crabshaw Corner (later the Oasis Ballroom, now a beauty salon) are ... well, dying out.

He also mentioned that Bob Wills' niece (Billy Jack's daughter) was in the audience, and that Tiny Moore, Bob Wills' mandolin player, had been based in Sacramento (he and Billy Jack married the McKinney Sisters; they had come out from Oklahoma Alabama, I believe, to sing with the band in the late '40's.) Plenty of connections, and I could list a whole string of others, as could, I suspect, nearly everyone else in the audience.

There is a history.

The show was even better than San Francisco, although the clarinet/saxophone player (Jonathan Doyle) was missing at the club show. I'm sure there's a story there... but we'll have to let it pass for now.

WikiLeaks and the secrets and lies they are involved with doesn't really relate to Asleep At the Wheel in any logical way, but I think at this point, many of us are beyond logic when it comes to the operations of systems we don't really understand and can't control.

Decades passed before I was able to see Asleep At the Wheel, and then I saw them twice in one week. Desire long delayed, in other words, but nevertheless realized with surprise, joy and satisfaction. There was no real "control" on my part involved. It was a form of Kismet.

WikiLeaks gives the world secrets and lies, through its partners in the major mass media. For those who were paying attention, the secrets weren't really secrets and the lies were obvious at the time. But apparently "paying attention" is a rarity. Or maybe a near impossibility for many people, who apparently no longer know what to pay attention to. And our ability to "control" the actions of a distant and unresponsive rulership gets less every day.

Is there a form of Kismet that can correct it?

I don't know... but it's interesting to speculate.


  1. Yah, I saw AAtW a couple of times when I lived in Seattle in the 1970s. Andy Stein was fiddling with them then; I don't think he does anymore, since he has been the music guy for Prairie Home Companion for yoncks. AAtW was so rockin' in them days. What a fun live band. And I have a couple of their LPs still. And they still rawk!

  2. I've worn out their "Swing Time" CD on drives back and forth between NM and CA, the old Route 66 route -- as well as a good long section of Hwy 99 in CA.

    Their current fiddle player is Jason Roberts, who also plays the name part in their Bob Wills opus. Jason has channeled Bob Wills to the extent that he essentially becomes Bob on stage. It is kind of eerie to watch him recreate the sounds and the movements and the attitude of Bob Wills through the entire set. Even when it is not Bob Wills music!

    And yes, they still rawk. The show I saw in Sacramento was "sponsored" by the Western Swing Society -- a pioneer in keeping Western Swing alive. They tend to be on the older side, if you catch my drift, their pres., for example, is probably in his eighties. But he can sure dance up a storm, and that seemed to get some of the younger folks out of their seats and dancing, too, and by the time they got to "House of Blue Lights" and "Hot Rod Lincoln," the place was wild.

    Fun, you bet!

  3. Comment section of NYT on Assange story:

    From Edward Said's *Culture and Imperialism*
    Yet it bears repeating that no matter how apparently complete the dominance of an ideology or social system, there are always going to be parts of the social experience that it does not cover and control. From these parts very frequently comes opposition, both self-concious and dialectical...Opposition to a dominant structure arises out of a perceived, perhaps even militant awareness on the part of the individuals and groups outside and inside it that, for example, certain of its policies are extraordinary amalgm of metropolitan individuals and movements - millenarians, revivalists, do-gooders, political radicals, cynical planters and canny politicians - contributed to the decline and end of the slave trade by the 1840s.


    A common anti-imperialist experience was felt, with new associations between Europeans, Americans and non-Europeans, and they transformed disciplines and gave voice to new ideas that unalterably change that structure of attitude and reference which had endured for generations within European culture.


    ...the weapons of critcism have become part of the historical legacy of empire, in which the separations and exclusions of "divide and rule" are erased and surprising new configurations spring up.


    They addressed that world from within it, and on cultural grounds they disputed and challenged its authority by presenting alternative versions of it, dramatically, argumentatively, and intimately...


    Lukacs shows that the effects of capitalism are fragmentation and reification: in such a dispensation, every human being becomes an object, or commodity, the product of human work is alienated from its maker, the image of whole or of community disappears entirely...This, he says, could be overcome by an act of mental will, by which one lonely mind could join another by imagining the common bond between them, breaking the enforced rigidity that kept human beings as slaves to tyrannical outside forces.


    All these hybrid counter-energies, at work in many fields, individuals and moments provide a community or culture made up of numerous anti-sytemic hints and practices for collective human experience (and neither doctrines nor complete theories) that is not based on coercion or domination...


  4. Hey Ché

    Ja, si, yes - that last link to the NYT comment section and the humongous Said quote was both a rebuttal and thanks for your own work!