2008 "American Dream" theme

How much do you like the 2008 "American Dream" theme?

Lame. Lame. Lame.
215
30%
Lame. Lame. Lame.
215
30%
Sort of lame.
60
8%
Sort of lame.
60
8%
Good enough.
32
5%
Good enough.
32
5%
Brilliant. Inspiring.
47
7%
Brilliant. Inspiring.
47
7%
 
Total votes: 708

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Valkyrie
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Post by Valkyrie » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:16 pm

But it really is a San Franciscan event. It couldn't have started anywhere else. It wouldn't involve the concepts (principles) or elements (ravers and hippies and freaks, oh my!) it does unless it started where it did To deny the origins is to deny the cultural influence of the city on the event, which is formidable.

Of course, the notion of ownership is a different animal altogether. It's positively ridiculous for anyone to claim to own culture (although the French try!) or control the direction that it takes. Although the origins are certainly American, San Franciscan, it is owned, directed and shaped by the people who live it.

I think that has a lot of tie-ins with the very American notion of distancing yourself from your parents. Try as you will to define yourself on your own terms, to alienate yourself from your heritage, you are grown from the seeds of who you are that your parents gave to you.
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Post by SFNathan » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:30 pm

"But it really is a San Franciscan event."

I agree - but that doesn't mean it is NOT an American event or not a global event. It can be all these things, since people from all over the globe, and many people from San Francisco have helped to create it. It can be all of those things and does not have to be exclusively identified with any region.

And in fact, it IS a uniquely global event because people from all over the globe have brought art (like the waffle last year) that did not come from American creators, so it has become much bigger than just an American thing, or a San Francisco thing, even 'though it still has strong San Francisco and American participation.

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Post by theCryptofishist » Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:45 pm

I wonder about citing the waffle as an example. After all, it wasn't named the waffle by it's creators, it got spontaniously dubbed the waffle by all the americans who are so geografically ignorant that they all did a sort of word association to belgian and came up with waffle. If the group had been coming from the capital, we woulda called it "the Sprout."
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Post by SFNathan » Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:36 pm

"I wonder about citing the waffle as an example. After all, it wasn't named the waffle by it's creators, it got spontaniously dubbed the waffle by all the americans who are so geografically ignorant that they all did a sort of word association to belgian and came up with waffle."

hmm... I thought it was named the waffle because it looked like a big waffle-ish thing from a distance...

But my point is, if this were just an American event where internationals came as spectators, than we wouldn't have some of our most amazing playa creations, like Uchronia (the waffle), which was probably the most impressive work of art on the playa in 2006.

Burning Man is truly a global event, as well as an American, San Franciscan, and Nevadan event.

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BAS
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Post by BAS » Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:52 pm

...I always kind of thought of Burning Man as a Southwestern U. S. of A. sort of thing... :oops:


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Post by lurker » Thu Oct 11, 2007 6:21 am

I think you miss the point.

Burning Man originated in San Francisco, in the US. Here.

We don't declare what happens in the Sambadrome as 'global' because there are participants from all over the world.

The only time we seem to feel the need to excise national origin is when it's the US.

Burning Man, Black Rock City is invigorated and enlivened by it's international citizens. We are happy when they come home. But we would do this even if they were not here--and we have, at the beginning.

It just seems that all anyone wants to attribute to the US is vileness.

We can't celebrate a nation that can bring us something as wonderful as Burning Man--we have to burn flags, deride the nation, deride the ideals it tries to hold dear and spit on the very idea that anything dreamlike can come from America.

And hey, America had nothing to do with Burning Man, it's 'global'(even though a whole bunch of us are anti-globalists).

There's nothing like Burning Man anywhere else in the world, it's a shining beacon of hope for the weird population of the world--and it was created by Americans.

It is an American Dream.
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Change the 2008 Theme, and Honor the American Dream

Post by cowboy_logic » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:28 am

I wrote the following and just uploaded it as a petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/change ... and-honor- the-american-dream. I'm hoping that if a huge number of participants sign it, with their Playa name or otherwise, the Burning Man organizers will change the 2008 theme. Or they won’t and at least while retire after giving off a mighty yelp. Please circulate the URL!

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Post by SFNathan » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:31 am

Lurker, I agree with a lot of what you say there. And I've actually adjusted my feelings from being totally opposed to the theme to being more willing to work with it, even being somewhat inspired by possibilities that could come from it.

What's appealing to me about the theme is the idea of having a real exploration of America as a subject that is worth looking at. And I totally agree that there are aspects of America that you and I and everyone at Burning Man can be proud of. I just also believe that if we are going to look at this subject that we must be willing to let people express themselves fully, with all the radical free speech that has been the history of this community (including satire, burning art, and every other wild expression that the Burner community comes up with).

If there is anything in America that makes me proud, it's the community consciousness I've found in San Francisco and at Burning Man. And that is something that came from America and I'm very proud to be a part of it. I also think it's very important to think of America as part of a global community. What we do here impacts the global environment and our relationships with our neighbors are very important to our ability to live the life we want to live in America.

My whole point (which is consistent with your last point) is that we can be proud of America, while still thinking critically of America, and Burning Man is a global event at the same time as it is an American event. It's easier for me and others to get into the theme if we design it as a broadly inclusive theme about America, rather than saying that the theme not only might IMPLY that this event is an exclusively American event (which still troubles me), but that in fact the theme declares this TO BE an American event that is in principle exclusive to internationals. We have too many great international burners to not allow them to call this event 'home' along with the rest of us.

I hope that when the theme team expands upon this theme they somehow deal with this issue which is the most troubling to me - how to recognize the global attendance and creation of art at Burning Man, paying full respect to our international Burners, and have the theme be about America in a way that allows the radical free expression that is historic to this community. I don't think they will scrap the theme, but if they rewrote the theme in a way that better addresses those two issues, that would go a long way to addressing many of my concerns about the theme.

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Aww for fuck sakes!1

Post by Alchemy » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:49 am

SHUT UP AND MAKE SOMETHING!!
got fire?

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Post by Simon of the Playa » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:53 am

i'm still going as a mexican.

think of the guy from the 60's...the 'keep on trucking' dude....



well, add a sombrero, and change the caption to "KEEP ON CROSSING"


america is the ultimate mongrel, and we are strong because of it...


America is a WORLD nation, unlike any other.....the vast "melting Pot" really does exist, and we need to come to terms with immigration and open our arms to all of those who would leave everything they know, to struggle in a new land, simply for an idea of what life should be...

FUCK YOU TOM TANCREDO and all the other Xenophobic Nazis who want to wall off our border (yeah YOU MR. Schwarzenegger....where the fuck did YOU come from, and why is it more appealing than Nogales or T.J?)

like i said, until we appreciate the fact that WE ARE ALL IMMIGRANTS (of course the exception is the native americans) and let EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO BE HERE, IN, WE ARE A NATION OF HYPOCRITES.

white, brown, red, yellow, pasty pink, or jet black, it does not matter...

read the fucking inscription on the statue of liberty....and then tell grandma that she has no right to be here because she doesnt have a fucking green card.

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Post by Silverwheel » Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:38 am

Well, in the long view the Native Americans are immigrants, too - as is pretty much everybody except those from a tiny area of Africa, and who are still there.

We're all immigrants, and any relationship to any arbitrarily-assigned area within a set of borders is no more than a convenient fiction whose convenience is approaching obsolescence. We're citizens of the planet, though, and that is our commonality. Our common ground is not metaphor - it literally is our common ground.

One of the things that I think will happen is that we will eventually abandon political borders, along with other concepts that were only relevant in an age of limited production and distrubution - that's if we don't kill off our species first, of course.

We have an interesting challenge ahead of us, folks. We must select what is to be the new human nature. Some of the very things that allowed us to survive when our gene pools were tiny will have to be abandoned if we are to continue surviving. Time will tell, but I think one of the things we will cast aside is nationalism. Or we'll die.

If I wasn't clear, I think the 2008 theme sucks. But that doesn't mean it can't be a useful start point to say something important.
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Singing about her head, as she rode by.
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Post by Ugly Dougly » Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:01 am

I'm going as an American, despite the theme.

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Me bad

Post by swampdog » Fri Oct 12, 2007 3:33 pm

Ok, me bad. I haven't read this whole thread or the dozens of others about the topic. But here I go anyway.

My first take on the theme was that it was really great idea. I'm an almost 50 yr old highly privileged white american male, and I grew up singing all the patriotic songs. America is part of me as much as I am part of America.

Or at least, the old America is. What is this place we're in now? How did I get here? What happened to the principles they told us about in Boy Scouts? Were they always lies, but the secrets better kept? Or has our country reached a new depth of degradation, lies, violence, greed, and corruption? A very paranoid part of me imagines Bush bombing Iran and then declaring martial law and canceling the '08 elections.

I think of the theme as more of a question. Some of the posts I've read that are most vehemently opposed to the theme see it as jingoistic. We've been sold and sold and sold "The American Dream" and I couldn't agree more that making Burning Man a place to sell that to ourselves and our global friends would be a really bad bad idea.

But what is America? What is it to dream in America? What is it to dream *of* America? Can we reclaim our ideals? Or is the concept, the dream of America obsolete? Is there a new dream that is America? Or are we in a post-America world, where we are all global but haven't all realized it yet?

I sometimes think it's time to go, but that concept of patriotism drilled into me, for all those years of pledging allegiance and my country 'tis of thee, is hard to turn away from. Is there something important about being American or is it just a place?

I don't see this as a theme that excludes anyone else in the world either. I'll bet nearly every non-American who attends burning man has very strong opinions on those questions. Whether they like it or not (and whether we like it or not) the actions of our country have a outsize impact on the rest of the world. Our war in Iraq has increased tensions with the muslim world for everyone. Our use of resources has a global impact. I'd be very interested to see art from around the globe that reflects the impact that America has. Even if it's "why do you think we care about you?"

I think it's a great theme.

edited to add:
ok, me less bad now - I've read more of the posts and read the actual official theme announcement. I'm less positive now about it - it really is about patriotism and how-great-is-America, isn't it? (duh, it's there in the first sentence). And, for those who say we should leave politics behind at burning man - yes, good point. Is "political art " an oxymoron?

Still - what is it to dream in America?

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Burning McMan

Post by Filthy Luker » Sun Oct 14, 2007 2:29 am

Do you think they will give me an art grant if it's for a giant macdonalds M?



have a nice day
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Re: Burning McMan

Post by Kinetik V » Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:08 am

Filthy Luker wrote:Do you think they will give me an art grant if it's for a giant macdonalds M?

have a nice day
If Mechabolic can get funded then anything's possible. Did the thing even run more than once or twice, and if so did it ever come close to looking like the sketches? And was it worth the extra funding the community was asked to cough up at the last minute? I don't think so. At least one of the artists is running for SF Mayor...and he's already got a running start on how to financially mismanage the city budget. Back to the giant M idea, I'd like to see that out there as an in your face, what the hell can they do about it kind of thing. The only problem is how would you handle all the ravers wanting food at 6 a.m. who come flocking to the sign....
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Post by theCryptofishist » Sun Oct 14, 2007 12:47 pm

Feed them to each other, perhaps.
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Post by spidermonkey » Wed Oct 17, 2007 2:21 am

reading this discussion, i could relate to, and understand everyone's point of view (maybe that should be the american dream!)..... i didn't like the theme at all at first; Black Rock City covered in stars and stripes is not a good image.
i think there are several things that could be done about this.... those who don't like it could communaly disagree and do their/our own theme, ( a BRC theme coup d'etat) or do separate themes of our own choosing...
or it could be taken in many different ways, for example: the foundations of the american dream, the problems w/ the american dream (that would be kinda depressing), your hopes for the american dream, the american dream from other countries point of view, etc. (and don't forget south AMERICA) everyone can choose to interpret it their own way that will make them feel fulfilled and heard....
we could also set up some kind of international refugee camp, which would be kind of fun :)
we could try to get it changed or everyone could work with it in their own way and see how many themes this theme turns into... eh?
folks, can't we all just get the fuck along? (that would be a great american dream too! yaaaay!)
what do you think? these ideas and more could all be worked with. i def. don't think its a reason not to go :( i love you all and hope i see you in BRC..... Black Rock, is my american dream..... that would be pretty hard to accomplish... but hey, its ok to dream right?
)'( namaste
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Post by Frankly » Fri Oct 19, 2007 8:23 am

Regardless of theme, there are plenty of brilliantly creative BM artists that will be obscure enough in their interpretations to make this work. Plus, it will be election year and there will be an air of change so hopefully Bush effigies will not abound. That's too easy anyway. I'm sensing pilgrims themes to the billionth power. And teepees galore.

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Post by Valkyrie » Fri Oct 19, 2007 10:39 am

You know? I have been doing even more thinking on this and the one thing that has been niggling has become increasingly manifest:

How on earth can this theme unite anything on the playa?

It's deliberately (or not?) divisive. But divisive not in a way that brings people together to challenge each other, but divisive because it's such an interpretive idea that you can't connect to engage. The only way people could come together on anything relating to the theme is via the vehicles presented through popular media... but isn't that what we're trying to get away from? The jingoistic (anti-)nationalism and the engagement with the government is pretty much about the only thing anything could come together on.

I know a lot of the foreign nationals have raised objection to the theme and I've pointed out that there's the whole aspect of their arrival in this country. But that's a radically different thing than, for example, my own experience as a descendant of the founders of this country who was raised by folks who believed that draft dodging was immoral.

The theme raises divisions amongst us, building barriers to collaboration and our ability to work together and share experiences because it calls upon such different things based on your origins. It draws out and makes example of what I believe are the very things that we're trying to overcome in the coming together.


As a related discussion, I think about a professor I had who had explored the notion of citizenship in one of her books that became quite important in the field (Flexible Citizenship by Aiwa Ong - I highly recommend it). When she was talking about it in class, she discussed her own experience with agonizing over her decision on whether to become a US Citizen. Until that point, I found it unfathomable that anyone would want to live in this country and not want to take full benefit of citizenship.

She explained that it's more than just signing up for the benefits, it's an issue of identity. You become an "American" even if you're Chinese or Malaysian (two identities she already held). The American exists as a figure nearly everywhere in the world, and it's not necessarily a good thing. You can take part, borrow, or mimic what you might think are the good parts of being American, but you don't necessarily want to be like that yourself. For most of the world, the "American Dream" of the last century has turned sour. (Lexus and Olive Trees be damned.)

Another point she raised was that when you become a "member" or "citizen" of this country, you take on some degree of responsibility for what is happening here, and she wasn't really prepared to do this. Are we asking our foreign national participants to take responsibility for the mess that our own country is becoming?

As an anecdote to the side-story, I was sitting in on a collaboration session where we had agreed to not talk about the theme. Someone eagerly suggested "The Eye of Sauron" (apparently, it was a perennial suggestion) but I couldn't help thinking to myself "But I thought we agreed we wouldn't be addressing the theme!"
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Post by lurker » Fri Oct 19, 2007 10:48 am

Odd, no? That 'Chinese' and 'Malaysian' were fine identities to have but'American' has it's drawbacks.....

or that it's fine to be here....enjoying the benefits---but to take responsibliity by becoming part of the nation whose benefits one enjoys.....oh no...

And I have not read it, so I don't know what path she chose

How did she get Chinese and Maylaysian? Her ethnic makeup? The same way a lot of Americans get Chinese and Maylaysian?

Why are all the other nationalities okay....but ours is suspect? Why are they 'ethnicities', and we're not?

Why does everyone whining talk about the American Dream as if it's a concrete thing, with specific definitions and parameters?
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Post by Valkyrie » Fri Oct 19, 2007 11:00 am

Heh. Read the book Lurker before you jump to conclusions. ;-) Oh, and by the way, she was working as a professor at a state university, educating our youth, paying our taxes for services she couldn't enjoy, and doing more giving back most citizens would do, so I'd hardly say she was a leech. That's a common argument against non-citizens that just doesn't hold water.

You don't choose the identity you're born with, so I suppose you could be forgiven for being happy with being an American. And thus she was happy with being a Chinese Malaysian (which isn't an identity that's very popular even there).

"American Dream" is a theme. Art is (generally) a concrete thing. If you try to apply a theme to a thing, it becomes concrete.
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Post by Bin Noddin » Fri Oct 19, 2007 11:22 am

Here you go: Chinese-Malaysian-American-Jewish dream. Sad that she's gone, but her books are wonderful. http://www.geocities.com/Hilarytham/

HA! I knew it was in there somewhere:
from a review by Gilbert Purdy of The Tao of Mrs. Wei
The reader is likely to be entertained, in particular, by two traits that are persistent in the title character of this book. The first is her preoccupation with the Chinese spirit-world that accompanies her everywhere. The second is her utter lack of political correctness. The poet uses the persona to shield herself as she contrasts the strictures common to the contemporary poetry world with the straightforward freshness of her protagonist.

This provides the opportunity for any number of amusing, and refreshingly human, moments. At the end of "Mrs. Wei Meets the New Improved American Dream", for example, a fellow emigrant, from San Salvador, tells Mrs. Wei:

he is looking for a woman to marry,
any woman who can get him a green card.

"Better if she is blonde with big breasts," he adds,
holding out his hands to show the size
of his dreams, his hope green as an uncut tree.

While it might not be suggestible for Tham to write such a poem in the first person, her Mrs. Wei is at liberty to follow the conversation to its conclusion without appending an all too predictable withering rejoinder or commentary upon the damage done to the American psyche by the physiognomy of the Barbie Doll. The final seven words are entirely true to Mrs. Wei, and, therefore, entirely appropriate.
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Post by lurker » Fri Oct 19, 2007 12:17 pm

Didn't say she was a 'leech'. I said--
And I have not read it, so I don't know what path she chose
Which is, I think, quite a bit different.

Even this, which is harsher, doesn't quite get to the 'leech' level--
or that it's fine to be here....enjoying the benefits---but to take responsibliity by becoming part of the nation whose benefits one enjoys.....oh no...
The thing I'm pointing out is that Chinese or Maylaysian are just fine. ANY other nationality is just fine--there are Canadian burners who complain about this theme while touting their own Canadianness

Why is it America and Americans who must self efface to the point of expressing disgust with our own country? Why must we, to make others feel better, deny anything good that we've done?

While at the same time praising THEIR cultures and THEIR nationality?

Doesn't that seem wrong to you?
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Post by Valkyrie » Fri Oct 19, 2007 2:02 pm

Consider the issue of the Canadians approaching the theme with their own Canadianness... What if it were a mixed group? Canadians and say, Belgians and maybe a few Philipinos and toss in a couple of Americans. So what ever could they possibly collaborate on? Would the American's view trump their own if they were working together, since they just don't reconcile at all?
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Post by Greenltdistrict » Fri Oct 19, 2007 6:31 pm

Sorry to go tangetal but...how do I vote? Can't seem to figure it out!!! PLEASE!! SOMEBODY HELP!!! :D

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one mans dream is another mans nightmare

Post by Filthy Luker » Sat Oct 20, 2007 7:27 am

the probelm with the tired cliche of the american dream is that it assumes there is no other dream in the world, or that the dream (or opportunites) available in america are special and better than anywhere else. Get out of your country for a minute and realise that we all have dreams and have been dreaming and living as individuals, cultures and nations for many thousands of years before invaders destroyed the existing cultures in america and began dreaming their capatilist dream.
WE should be in an age of the Global or even Universal dream.
Fuck patriotism towards our oppressive countries.
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Post by lurker » Tue Oct 30, 2007 9:26 am

the probelm with the tired cliche of the american dream is that it assumes there is no other dream in the world, or that the dream (or opportunites) available in america are special and better than anywhere else.
There isn't. You don't hear about the British Dream or the Canadian Dream or the Chinese Dream(and we've all had enough of the German Dream---that was a joke)

The fact that the term is known all over the world is a testament to the idea that people outside the US think there's something special about it.

Better? Who knows? Special? Absolutely.

There's a commercial on with Dennis Hopper, he goes on about the American Dream--says that tored old house/white picket fence/ 2.5 kids thing and says it's crap. Says that the REAL American Dream is that everyone gets their OWN dream. Crazy, fun, weird--even that house and that half a kid--if that's what you want.

But all anyone here who's against the theme seems to want is a dream that spits at everyone elses--because they've decided that anything with 'American Dream' in the name is a rah-rah red, white and blue patriot fest.

And it's not.
"Life is like a box of razor blades. Sharp, shiny, and good for removing unwanted body hair"

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zzzzzzzzzzz

Post by Filthy Luker » Tue Oct 30, 2007 1:21 pm

dream on
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Post by Finnegan » Sat Nov 03, 2007 6:35 pm

Why is it America and Americans who must self efface to the point of expressing disgust with our own country?
Um, maybe cuz we do amazingly horrible things, all over the world? Just a wild guess. I for one am pretty well disgusted with the various atrocities performed in my name, using my meager tax dollars.

Wouldn't it be a little eye-opening to have Bush/Darth on trial in the Hague, then executed. Afterwards, we get to pay a hefty tax for some serious reparations. Sorry, that's what happens when war criminals (finally) get their come-uppance.
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Post by mdmf007 » Sat Nov 03, 2007 7:47 pm

Finnegan wrote:
Why is it America and Americans who must self efface to the point of expressing disgust with our own country?
Um, maybe cuz we do amazingly horrible things, all over the world? Just a wild guess. I for one am pretty well disgusted with the various atrocities performed in my name, using my meager tax dollars.

Wouldn't it be a little eye-opening to have Bush/Darth on trial in the Hague, then executed. Afterwards, we get to pay a hefty tax for some serious reparations. Sorry, that's what happens when war criminals (finally) get their come-uppance.
No way any US official is going to the Hague, history is written by the victors, and the powerful.

also - I dont remember Mechabolic working - maybe it did. I do remember the email asking for more money like a week or two before they left

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