Saturday, March 29, 2008

Net Neutrality's Quiet Crusader

There's an article in the Washington Post about Free Press' Ben Scott. Scott is described as "a driving force for 'net neutrality,' a concept that in policy terms has come to mean enforcement of open access online, so cable and telecom operators cannot block or delay content that travels over their networks." Free Press sent out a newsletter yesterday to let people know about the article, and also to tell us how hard it is for an organization that fights for our rights against corporate media, to get this kind of exposure on the front page of the business section of the Washington Post.

So check it out and learn something about the unlikely people who fight to keep the internet open and accessible to everyone equally. And who also fight against media consolidation that squeezes out diversity and competition, so that individuals, small organizations and small companies have access to media that is not filtered or censored by large corporations. The video gives a pretty good synopsis of why net neutrality is important. Monopolistic phone companies, without regulation, would have prevented the internet from happening. If they weren't regulated after the internet started, companies like Google, Facebook and Myspace would never have gotten off the ground. Now we need to continue those protections to make it possible for the next Google or Myspace to develop. Giant corporations like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, stifle innovation and competition that benefits all of us, in order to keep more profit for themselves.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Stuff White People Like

First there was Black People Love Us!, then Rent-a-Negro, and now there is Stuff White People Like. Viral blogs satirizing political correctness/incorrectness. And it's hilarious. My son forwarded the link to me and I've only read a few posts so far, but it is really funny and I will be a regular reader. Stuff White People Like says this about San Francisco.
The City of San Francisco has a very multicultural population that ranges from white to gay to Asian. Within white culture this known as “ideal diversity” for its provision of exotic restaurants while simultaneously preserving property values.
It has a regular feature, White People in the News, where readers email in news stories with stuff white people like in them. Like this one.
By Michelle Quinn
The Los Angeles, Times, March 22, 2008

“Wil Shipley, a Seattle software developer, uses his iPhone at the Whole Foods fish counter to check websites for updates on which seafood is the most environmentally correct to purchase. He quizzes the staff on where and how a fish was caught. Because he carries the Internet with him, “I can be super-picky,” he said.”

Sent in by Stephen, an English grad student living in Florida, who likes the British site BeThinking.
They get a shout out and a link to their blog for their troubles. And congratulations to blogger Christian Lander, because he just landed a book deal. There is one thing I find disturbing about the blog, there's a list of 92 things white people like and there's a lot of things I like on the list.
  • coffee
  • microbreweries
  • hating corporations
  • religions their parents don't belong to
  • wine
  • St. Patrick's Day
  • organic foods
  • San Francisco
  • Barack Obama....
The list goes on. I'm not sure what it means, but I'm concerned.

Battle of the Party Religious Nut Cases

Personally, I think the GOP is winning, thank god (pun intended). But then I may be biased. As I've said here before, I'm not one for quoting scripture. But there is one that is o-so apropos.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
Matthew 7:3
New International Version
The Republicans, Ok, let's be fair, the Fox News wing of the party started this spitting match. But to me, again, a partial observer, they have a lot more to loose in a head to head comparison of just who has the kookiest religious support. I have said before, this is an aside from the real issues that we should be addressing in this campaign. One is literally blowing up before our eyes as we speak. The surge that was working about a week ago, now isn't.

And there are stories like this one, about a wave of murders, 20 so far, in one of our largest urban areas among African American students. A story which isn't even on the radar this political season for two obvious reasons. Guns and race. You see if you start talking about things like this then Obama supporters will whisper that you are talking about things that will hurt his chances in the fall. If you mention gun control or focus too much on race, we'll lose the red states. So forget I mentioned it. We'll talk again in November.

Now I am not so sure, after the revelations previewed in the new book Bad Moon Rising, by Author John Gorenfeld, that this story is not just as important as some of the others I just mentioned above. And all of this stuff isn't new. There's a post on Daily Kos in which this quote is excerpted from the book:
...the [Unification] church has established a network of affiliated organizations and connections in almost every conservative organization in Washington, including the Heritage Foundation, the largest of the conservative think tanks and an important source of government personnel during the Reagan administration... "Most people are afraid to address the issue because they don't want to publicize the extent of the church's involvement," says Amy Moritz of the Conservative National Center for Public Policy Research. (Source -- U.S. News & World Report, 3/27/89)
This is about a religious cult that has infiltrated a major political party in our country. One that owns a major influential conservative newspaper. And one with the "oft stated goal of destroying both Christianity and representative government." The comments in the Daily Kos post are informative as well.

Moon is a multi-billionaire who pays millions to W's daddy to speak at Unification Church events as well as other Bush family members. His influence reaches far into the Republican Party and conservative movement. The video below is of Moon in the Dirksen Federal building being crowned King of Peace by two congressmen. One of them Democrat Danny Davis of Illinois??? To me Moon is far scarier than the words of Reverend Wright because he is truly
dangerous to our entire way of life. But then this kind of thing is emotionally driven for a lot of people and as much as I hate to bring it back to race, video of a shouting black man is a lot more dramatic and scary to a certain segment of the American people. Maybe I should let you draw your own conclusions.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wal-Mart Seeks Worst Public Image Ever

Wal-Mart made Keith's Worst Persons list again today, that clip is not yet available. This one's from yesterday. Keith is threatening to put them on the list every day until they relent. The clip below is a little fairer to Wal-Mart and gives their side of the story, such as it is. I can't see much good coming out of this for them no matter how they spin it unless they decide to change their minds. They'll get more than $400k worth of ill-will and bad PR from this move. And it isn't as if they didn't already have some PR problems to start with. Makes you wonder what goes on in the legal departments and board rooms of companies like this. Are there people there who are like cartoon evil villains? Scrooge, the Grinch and Cruella De Vil all wrapped into one. Or are they that disconnected from the public perception of their companies? It's hard to fathom how they rationalize this to themselves. One more reason to hate them and a good reason not to buy anything from them.

Breaking News: Siegelman Free Pending Appeal

Dan Abrams of MSNBC and Crooks and Liars are reporting that former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman will be freed tomorrow pending appeal. The initial 60 Minutes story is here. An indication that the judge in the case believes there were some irregularities in the bribery case that landed the governor in jail. Those irregularities point squarely in the direction of Karl Rove and the US Attorneys scandal. The scandal involves the politicization of the US Attorney General's office and lead to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The Politico is calling it a victory for the blogosphere.

Tables Turned on Hannity: Association with Neo-Nazi Exposed

I just watched about as much of Sean Hannity and I can stomach in one sitting. In fact I'd be glad never to have to watch another minute. Except that the Fox News commentator and host of Hannity & Colmes, has been one the most vocal stirrers of controversy over Barack Obama's association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. From what I read, and I don't watch so I admit I wouldn't know, the Wright video clips have essentially run on a constant loop on Hannity's show. In an interview recently he was called out by Malik Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party for his own past association with known Neo-Nazi Hal Turner.

I hate to give too much focus to this stuff here. I think it is a distraction and takes attention away from much more important issues like the war, the economy, health care, Darfur, and many others. Almost every other issue is more important than this stuff. Unfortunately it's the stuff that gets the most attention. I've posted quite a bit Wright stuff lately and I need to balance it out. I'm not going to post the Hannity video, because it focuses on too much that is negative in my opinion and frankly I think this stuff only hurts Barack Obama's campaign. But I couldn't resist posting because Hannity gets bitten by his own guilt by association rhetoric. The video is here if you can stomach it. There's a post at HuffPo with more links. And there's the complete story of Hannity's Soul-Mate of Hate Neo-Nazi Hal Turner at the Nation.

PBS' Frontline: Bush's War

This PBS Frontline special aired on March 24 and 25. So why am I telling you now? I may be a day late and a dollar short, but through the magic of the Internets, or when it's rerun, the magic of DVR technology, you can see it anytime. It's available anytime online here. Here's the video description from Youtube:
Watch FRONTLINE Bush's War online right now at

On the 5th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, FRONTLINE presents the definitive documentary analysis of "Bush's War"

From the horror of 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq; the truth about WMD to the rise of an insurgency; the scandal of Abu Ghraib to the strategy of the surge—for six years, FRONTLINE has revealed the defining stories of the war on terror in meticulous detail, and the political dramas that played out at the highest levels of power and influence.

Now, on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, the full saga unfolds in the two-part FRONTLINE special Bush's War, airing Monday, March 24, from 9 to 11:30 P.M. and Tuesday, March 25, 2008, from 9 to 11 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings). Veteran producer Michael Kirk ("The Torture Question," "The Dark Side") draws on one of the richest archives in broadcast journalism—more than 40 FRONTLINE reports on the war on terror. Combined with fresh reporting and new interviews, "Bush's War" will be the definitive documentary analysis of one of the most challenging periods in the nation's history.

Following the broadcast: a new TV/Web experience. View the entire "Bush's War" online, integrated with more than 100 video clips of key moments since 9/11, drawn from FRONTLINE's robust online video archive and integrated into a master annotated chronology of the war.
I wish they'd make the whole video available on Youtube, but they only post previews there. It would be nice to be able to embed them here and I think it would increase their exposure. They don't possibly because they want you to visit their site. I think people still would if they could watch the videos on blogs and other sites. I think it would increase their visibility not decrease it. But so far, they don't.

In any case it's an important documentary of one of the most important issues of this election year. Focus on the war is being lost to the economy, except that the war is a major factor in the coming economic recession. And focus is being lost to the nastiness of the Democratic Primary, which is theater and not really important at all. This may be a good time to refocus on it especially in view of John McCain's plans to keep our troops there for 100 years and the drumbeat for war in Iran. And especially today when it looks like the surge strategy that was "working" is threatening to unravel. It looks as if all hell is about to break loose and it won't be good.

NCMR 2008: Media Reform Starts Here

Video description from Youtube.
The next National Conference for Media Reform will be held in Minneapolis, June 6--8, 2008. Join fellow activists, media makers, educators, journalists, policymakers and concerned citizens in calling for real and lasting changes to our nation's media system.
One of the ways we can help change corporate media, and create and grow new media that informs and empowers us. The Wright controversy is a perfect example of why this kind of reform is needed. More info on the conference at

Bill Moyers Journal: Body of War

Video description from Youtube:
Bill Moyers interviews former talk show host Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro on the true cost of war and their documentary, Body of War, depicting the moving story of one veteran dealing with the aftermath of war.

With extensive excerpts from the film, the filmmakers talk about Iraq war veteran Tomas Young, who was shot and paralyzed less than a week into his tour of duty. Three years in the making, Body of War tells the poignant tale of the young man's journey from joining the service after 9/11 to fight in Afghanistan, to living with devastating wounds after being deployed to Iraq instead.
The complete Bill Moyers Journal program can be seen on the PBS site. Beyond this young man's both painful and uplifting story, it is an apt story for this election year. The footage of the Bush administration and congress sounding the drumbeat for war in Iraq, and the Republican talking points are going to sound eerily familiar. You could almost loop Iran and Ahmadinejad into the sound in place of Iraq and Saddam and apart from a few younger looking faces, you'd have news footage that could pass for something taped very recently. Especially for one presidential candidate. For another a short clip she'd rather not be reminded of.

Update: What Press Won't Show that Wright Said

I also posted on Daily Kos and got some comments there about Wright's quoting from, or paraphrasing of, Ambassador Ed Peck. No one has been able to find the actual appearance on Fox that Reverend Wright claims to quote. So there is some dispute that as to whether the words are actually Peck's. I still feel that the sound bite does not reflect Wright's intended meaning. It doesn't come close. The most salient comment I got there was this one:
Simple answer: the truth doesn't sell ads.
Scandal does. Plus, a 5 second sound-bite is easier to put on air than 5 minutes of a sermon.

by skrekk on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 05:40:23 PM PDT
Sound bite journalism doesn't serve the public at all. It gives us half truths and stirs up controversy that does not help us solve problems. In fact it creates problems. This kind of journalism serves the corporate media, whose motivation is profit, not truth. It creates controversy and spectacle that they can use to draw our attention and while we're there, try to sell us something. Not that selling something in and of itself is bad. We have ads here. But when it comes at the expense of truth and when spectacle is disguised as news in order to do so, it is a corruption of the purpose of the media.

I think corporate media is a more appropriate name for the MSM precisely for those reasons. It's a more accurate reflection of their real purpose and the reason they often fail to serve the public good they purport to serve.

-Fight the powers.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Colbert Report: The Word - The Gospel of John

Colbert skillfully draws parallels between the recent Obama religious controversy and John McCain's ties to right-wing religious nut cases Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Obama's Wright Response

What the Press Won't Show You That Reverend Wright Said

Sometimes I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone when I'm watching TV and I see the media version of what's happening in the world and I see a completely contradictory version of it somewhere else. Or, metaphorically, like Charlton Heston must have felt at the end of the movie Soylent Green when he finally realizes that soylent green is made from people. It's not that I trust the media so unquestioningly that I can't wrap my brain around the fact that their version of what is real is so far from what actually is real, but that I just can't believe that it would be possible to have any remaining shred of credibility or status among the people of this country if you got something so absolutely, incredible wrong so many times. Even if you give people very little credit for paying attention to or caring about what's going on. Or even if you think they are not very smart. It still doesn't make sense.

Just how is it possible that you keep your status as the supposed watchdogs of government, and reliable sources of information from around the world? How can you not be laughed at when you call yourselves, The Most Trusted Name in News, or The Place for Politics, or the best political team on television, or whatever else the various marketing departments dream up for their news organizations? When I watch the in context versions of the sermons of Reverend Jeremiah Wright and contrast them to the endless loops we've been seeing on the networks and cable TV news shows for weeks, they leave me with two views of supposed reality that just do not jibe.

Last night I heard commentators on CNN and MSNBC still speaking as if they had no idea that the loop they play of Wrights comments on 9/11 are in fact a quotation and not his own words. That to me seems like a relevant fact. Even the people I trust to tell me much more of the truth than the the networks generally do, people like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, are repeating the same mainstream media narrative. And if we extend the conversation to what's happening in the blogosphere, I have not heard Arianna Huffington (though I'm behind reading her posts) put this into perspective. Arguably one of, if not the biggest story of recent weeks, and only one show in the mainstream media has taken the time to actually listen to one of Wrights full sermons and put what was said in perspective. It was CNN's Rich Sanchez and he did a very poor job of it. He continually tried to move the focus back to the prevailing mainstream media narrative of Wright and Trinity United as wild-eyed angry black militants that should scare the crap out of the average American.

This story could have potentially derailed the chances of the only viable African-American candidate for president, ever. Yet no one who calls themselves a journalist took any time to look beyond the surface of 10 and 20 second sound bites. It took Trinity United itself to start their own Youtube channel and blog to start to get the truth out to people. And one of the great ironies of the whole story is that it may bring the church more serious attention than it would have ever gotten even if Obama does become president. I am not a religious person at all and that is not the relevant part of the story to me, but it is interesting.

One personal, but relevant irony for me is that I found the story in context by going to Wikipedia. Yes, Wikipedia, the icon for unreliable information in the mainstream media was where I found that the media was still not correctly attributing the statements made by Wright on 9/11. That they had still not said that Wright was "[Paraphrasing] Edward Peck, former U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq, former deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism under the Reagan Administration and former U.S. Ambassador to a number of countries." Wikipedia was my source for accurate information that the mainstream press had gotten wrong over and over again.

And to me that is the real story here. That through this very medium, through new new media, the people, both those misrepresented directly and those to whom the truth was misrepresented, have redress. From the editors of Wikipedia who have no motivation except to provide reliable information to people for free. Yes it is vulnerable to corruption, but it is self correcting and those who call it unreliable are no more reliable. And from the people at Trinity United who are just like you and me. Who saw their pastor misrepresented in the media and decided to become their own media and put their own story out so that people could make up their minds based on more than 20 seconds of sound out of entire career.

The career of a man who was a US Marine and served in the US Navy as a hospital Corpsman and who has a commendation from same for treating President Lyndon Johnson when he was hospitalized. The career of a man who traveled to Libya as part of an contingent which included Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan to free United States Navy pilot Lt. Robert Goodman, whose fighter jet had been shot down over Lebanon. And to bring that soldier held prisoner by a terrorist back home to America. I got that from Wikipedia too.

Maybe it is not that the people don't care, or pay attention when our news and view of the world is reduced to the 20 second sound bite, or that they aren't smart enough to understand it when it's not, but that they felt little power to do anything about it. Through new media they are starting to take back that power and the mainstream media should be paying attention. We the people are not only the government, we are the media too.

Please take the time to comment on this post, whether you agree or disagree. And please take time to pass it on to people who may not have seen Reverend Wright's comments in context. And finally, take time to write the mainstream media, whoever you get your news from and let them know that you are paying attention.

See update here.

-Fight the powers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Carnival of the Liberals: Call for Submissions

I guess I should issue a call for submissions seeing as I already have one and I intended to ask for posts around a theme. I wasn't really finished formulating that theme, but I thought I'd better blast something out before more stuff comes in. First, thanks Carol, points for being first. If you've looked at my blog you can see that most posts are accompanied by supporting videos. At first they were mostly from Youtube. Now TV shows, broadcast and cable news, and even movies can be embedded legally on blogs.

In making this post, I'm thinking about why I almost always include video. Maybe it's because I'm too lazy to write all the details. Maybe it's because most people are too lazy to read. Though I can't support it with facts, I think video is more viral than text alone. But I think I can rationalize it better than that. Obviously I enjoy reading and writing or I'd have a vlog and not a blog. This is kind of a hybrid of the two.

I honestly believe there is something extremely powerful about our ability to create our own media and share it around the entire planet in the way the Internet makes possible today. It's a truism that it's changed and is constantly changing our world. From the Abu Ghraib scandal that would never have had the impact it did on our perception of the Iraq war if it weren't for the ability to share those pictures instantly around the planet and to comment on them, through the guy who got tazed at the John Kerry rally who made, "Don't taze me bro!" a catch phrase, to the clips of Barack Obama's former pastor that had the potential to derail the candidacy of an almost certain presidential nominee, we are seeing the impact new media has on our perceptions and our world.

In the case of the latter we are seeing Trinity United Church of Christ answer the media storm created by Reverend Wright by creating it's own Youtube channel and putting out videos with Wright's statements in full context. A topic I plan to post on shortly. It's shocking the difference context makes and more shocking that no one in the MSM made any effort to do so. But it demonstrates the power we have to be our own media. It increases the impact even a single individual can have on the world. To be in effect a revolution of one.

New media has completely changed this year's presidential primary and I believe has made it possible for a new kind of candidate, one who may never have had a chance before, to emerge as the almost certain Democratic nominee. In the video above from a year ago Joe Trippi, the strategist and Internet guru who put together John Dean's surprising rise to leader of the Democratic pack in 2004, talks about the possibilities for this year's race.

So finally, I'd like to ask for submissions that either include, or are on the topic of new media, with special emphasis on video. I'll leave it as broad as possible, but topics could include anything from how new media has affected this years presidential campaign, or the war in Iraq, to citizen journalism around the world. As long as it somehow involves new media in some way. I appreciate this opportunity to host Carnival of the Liberals and I look forward to your submissions.

-Fight the powers.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pilot Barney Fife: Gun Discharges on Airbus

DENVER -- Federal authorities are investigating how a pilot's gun accidentally discharged in the cockpit on a US Airways flight from Denver to Charlotte, N.C.
From CNN. Feel safer now with armed pilots on airplanes?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Clinton's Own Fairy Tale: Politico Reports on the Clinton Myth

Friday reported on the myth being perpetuated by the Clinton campaign and the media that she still has a chance at all in this race. Remember back in the South Carolina primary when the press was reporting, mistakenly, that Bill Clinton said Barack Obama's candidacy was a "fairy tale." He may have been misquoted then, but now the same thing could truthfully be said about his wife's candidacy. The Politico article goes on to delve into the reason the Clintons, obviously, and the media continue to spread the narrative that this is still a close race and that Clinton still has a chance.

The article sums up her real chances thusly:
Her own campaign acknowledges there is no way that she will finish ahead in pledged delegates. That means the only way she wins is if Democratic superdelegates are ready to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the party’s most reliable constituency.

Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote — which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle — and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.

People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.

As it happens, many people inside Clinton’s campaign live right here on Earth. One important Clinton adviser estimated to Politico privately that she has no more than a 10 percent chance of winning her race against Barack Obama, an appraisal that was echoed by other operatives.
But what is really telling is their analysis of the reasons the MSM want to keep this race on life support.

The Truth About the Surge

The truth behind the surge strategy in Iraq. Why it appears to be working now and why that peace is fragile. From