I Met the Walrus

Posted by on Jul 16, 2008 | 0 comments

Amazing how something forty-years old is completely relevant today. An interesting recorded interview with John Lennon made into a short film. (c/o Jenny Eliscu)

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watching liberty go down the drain: FISA, Rove….

Posted by on Jul 14, 2008 | 2 comments

This observer has no doubt that when that great foretold moment comes when the American citizenry willfully gives up it’s basic liberties, say, o I don’t know, the Fourth Amendment, that many will sit and watch it happen on their televisions as if it was just one more entertainment event. Most won’t realize it has occurred at all. Some of us have noticed though. A sitting President has committed a felony and no one cares.

What separates the idea of a proper democracy from the rabble is one simple thing: the rule of law. The simple idea that everyone is equal and must answer to the laws of the land if they violate those laws or are accused of violating those laws. They must deal with the system and the laws whether they are guilty or innocent. The system and the people will decide. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but it is what we have. And, it’s the lynch pin of law and order in our society. It is also that which keeps the select few from attaining power that is unresponsive to the will of the people and the rule of law. It’s the lynch pin to checks and balances.

So, what happens when people refute the overriding principle that everyone must be subject to equal protection and application of those laws? We literally become that which those who established our Constitutional form of government were fleeing from and refuting. The founders were reacting specifically to the practice within a monarchy of unequal protection under the law, that is: some were able to skirt laws and oversight and the will of the people by being above the law or protected by the monarchy, who were entirely above the law.

Of course, any honest observer knows fully well that the USA has not been a proper democracy for decades and functions today as a plutocracy. We are becoming that which the founders feared.

And, it shall not stand.

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bush a liar or incompetent

Posted by on Jun 17, 2008 | 0 comments

In the LA Times, James Kirchick writes that Bush didn’t lie about the run up to war. He was simply given bad intelligence. So, Bush wasn’t lying, he was incompetent? Personally, I think it was both.

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the dubya syndrome

Posted by on Jun 8, 2008 | 0 comments

this sign is now posted on a good deal of the construction sites on the upper east side. after the recent spate of crane collapses and tragic and very likely preventable deaths, the sign gave me pause to think.

first, it’s a bit too close to closing the barn door after the cow is gone to my mind. but, it also alarms me. who really thinks a sign will help fix the problem? also, the point of the sign~to quell those who would think they can get by if they have a good alibi~ filled me with sorrow. what is going on? have we fallen that low in this country that it is assumed that fuck ups are acceptable? on a construction site where lives are at risk? and the alibi thing… wow. just. wow. it’s one thing when the guy who bags the groceries at the store is thinking of alibi’s about mess ups. but, on a construction site? I understand that accidents happen, but they should be rare and unacceptable in these environments. the existence of an “alibi culture” in this country is killing us.

more dubya syndrome. the bar is so low, we don’t expect much. even the president of the most powerful nation in the world is a fuck up with lots of alibis.

don’t follow leaders, watch your parking meters…

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McClellan: How I Was Disillusioned

Posted by on May 30, 2008 | 0 comments

Speaks for itself:

What we are seeing is a man with a conscience revolting against the tyranny he witnessed and took part in.

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thugs in the white house

Posted by on May 29, 2008 | 2 comments

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, Matt Drudge has had “Scott the Snitch” on his propaganda site all day, an attempt to paint former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who has a new book coming out that is not kind to his former employer, as a turncoat. It’s rather interesting for a couple of reasons.

The word “snitch” is a pejorative that means “informant”, and in it’s most popular usage is associated with criminals and mobsters who break with their masters and turn. So, in a sense, Drudge is implying that the White House is mob like. It’s an appellation that isn’t really used in any other context other than refering to informing on others where a crime has been committed to denigrate that person. The appropriate term here would be “whistle blower”. But that doesn’t serve Drudge nor his masters.

And, of course, the White House are following the party attack line, calling McClellan “disgruntled“, or “out of the loop” or insert ad hominem here. No doubt he’ll be “insane” by the end of the media cycle. Look for the Freepers and extremist wing nut blogs to fill that hole with bile.

Keep in mind, the only news here is that it’s a former loyalist saying that the Bush White House chose propaganda over policy. We’ve heard this accusation before. The propaganda over policy issue, and why is was implemented, was a topic on this blog nearly FOUR YEARS AGO, and the facts bare this out. It was an attempt to polarize the public with fear and solidify and maintain power in that manner.

Ultimately, history will tell the story of whether George W. Bush was simply over his head, or a willing puppet who stood by playing golf and spouting propaganda while Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld implemented disastrous policy. Personally, I think Dubya is an ideological tool of Cheney. Not smart enough to engage policy in any meaningful manner, he simply agrees with whatever Dick says and catapults the propaganda like a good doggy.

Not a bad job if you can get it. Alas, the real world is a bit more serious than this piss ant approach to to governing and policy. And, we will pay the price for the insipid, emotional playground politics of this White House.

We already are.

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"in the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

Posted by on May 2, 2008 | 0 comments

Remember those words above, spoken by George W. Bush, on May 1, 2003.

What does his paid lap dog PR person have to say about the “mission accomplished” debacle?

“President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said `mission accomplished’ for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday. “And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year.”

Ah, yes. The banner was not specific enough. Of course, the preznit still said: “in the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” So, I guess it’s safe to assume that the preznit’s PR dupe is either an idiot or a liar or both.

Well, let’s look at the specific facts and see how accomplished this mission has been. (Courtesy of Iraq Campaign)

The Cost of War Since ‘Mission Accomplished’— May 1, 2003 — April 24, 2008

US TROOPS KILLED IN IRAQ ————————- 139 ————- 4,051
(as of 4/21/08)

US TROOPS WOUNDED IN IRAQ ——————–524 ————- 29,780
(as of 4/15/08)

(World Health Organization)

(United Nations)

US TROOPS DEPLOYED IN IRAQ —————– 150,000 —–155,000
(Brookings Institute, Iraq Index)

—————— 23,000 —– 9,852
(Brookings Institute, Iraq Index)

TOTAL DIRECT COST —————————– $53 bil —– $525.9 bil
(Brookings Institute, Iraq Index)

—————————– N/A ——– $1.3 tril
(Congressional Joint Economic Committee Report)

——————————– N/A ——– $16,500
(Congressional Joint Economic Committee Report)

—————-72% ———— 33%

PRICE OF OIL ————————————–$26 / bbl ——$119 / bbl
(Department of Energy)

Nuff said.

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the social media unrevolution

Posted by on May 1, 2008 | 1 comment

Or How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Echo

he great promise of the internet was that it would level the information playing field by allowing equal access to all information, and facilitate the production of new information. The relationship between the two would, in theory, allow for a more democratic bottom up approach to solution based innovation. In a nutshell: we are stronger as a group, and the internet will allow us to function at a higher level to solve our problems.

Or so we thought.

The onslaught of investment during the dot com boom of the late 1990’s was rooted in the idea that the internet was a new form of television, and that if we apply those creative, financial and production processes directly, it’ll work. It didn’t, for lots of reasons but mostly because there was no monetary infrastructure for online content and web users didn’t want their MTV on the web, they wanted to connect with others via the web. So, the TV web went away and the social web rose up. And, revenue from ads began to pour in.

It’s important to remember that in 2001 everyone was still wondering how and if Amazon and then Google were going to be profitable. Ad revenue finally kicked in. But, unfortunately it was too late for the web TV movement. Sites such as and died from lack of revenue before web ads had become viable. It took a few years to figure out how to monetize it, figure out what worked and what didn’t, and for essential tech advances to come into play. (Front loading ads on video, bad idea. Clickable hot spots in video and embedding, good idea. Pop ups, bad idea. Banners and text ads, good idea. Ad sense, good. Subscription, bad.)

In the past four years the reintroduction of “social media” and “social networking” (which was the attraction of AOL back in the mid 90’s) applied in tandem with marketing and ad placement has become all the rage. And, the rush was on to create content to take advantage of this newest “revolution”.

Except, none of the best practices of producing video content that we know work in TV to attract an audience have been put into use. Some of this is due to the over reaction to user created content, and the assumption that low budget and thus low production value would translate into revenue. There was an assumption made by many involved in the web 2.0 movement that simply putting content out there would translate into financial gain if they could get the page hits. Not necessarily true it would appear. It’s a gamble given the rather nebulous manner in which most of the content distributors are handling revenue sharing; one person’s money train is another’s dripping faucet. A verifiable form of revenue sharing and accounting still needs to be set up and agreed upon in order for the big money to spend big money.

Among independent web content producer’s there has been a strong push to attract venture capital, with very little traction because of the lack of dealing with the reality that investors – whether in film, TV, or web – don’t merely want a return on their investment but also to see and understand that they are getting something tangible and valuable for their money. They want a simple value for value exchange. They want to see something great too. And, there seems to be a real lack of understanding of that basic rule by many content producers in the web 2.0 world. The governing rule is: just get it online, who cares what it looks like, people will watch. And, it’s not true.

The problem is so acute that Bill Cammack, an Emmy Award winning editor who knows of what he speaks, works in the web 2.0 area and realizes this is an issue, felt it necessary to video tape a how to shoot video 101 class and post it on his site.

I admire Bill’s patience, he does a nice job of laying out the basics, he has provided a real service, and it shines a light on the central issue that the web production community will have to aim higher in quality of production value and creative ideas if we are going to attract the big money and then begin to also nurture those relationships in the long term. I think that Bill understands this as well.

In the next few years the web landscape could change pretty dramatically. Social networking combined with video and mobile technology is going to create the next information movement. How we use it is the question. I agree with Deborah Schultz on this. We need to do more to make social media more viable, more useful, more informative and more entertaining. And, it begins with the community and the work. We need to be more innovative, more interesting and more professional.

At the moment, I’ve also become a bit disenfranchised with the web 2.0 community because on one hand it loves to play footsy with itself, it functions as a giant echo chamber looped onto itself. And, in some quarters, it’s turned nasty. It also feels way too much like the nascent independent film movement of the early 1990’s. Everyone was running around spending their own money on projects looking for an angel to come down and pave their way to creative and financial bliss. Now, I don’t have a problem with the work, or the dream, but in how it’s done. From two decades of experience what I do know is that the people who succeed are those that work on the craft and create compelling and professional content. It’s a real skill and an art. Forgetting that is deadly. If you endeavor to reach out, and communicate with others with skill, it works and people watch. And, when that occurs, the money follows. And, if you are lucky, a lot of money follows.

And, of course, since it involves money, which has its own pitfalls. By the late 90’s, the indie film industry was overtaken by the Hollywood “indie” studios. Even if you could raise your own money, make your film and get it into a major film festival, that didn’t guarantee that it would ever get into theaters. The studios had too many competing “indie” films of their own to release anyway. Many studios would buy up small film festival entrants and put them on the shelf to languish, just to ensure the film wouldn’t be released, its topic too close or too good to compete with something they’d already produced. Or even better, they’d manipulate the festival buzz on a given film to ensure that it did not find a buyer.

Today, the internet promises to provide a venue to equalize the distribution playing field a bit. But, it is important for web 2.0 producers and filmmakers looking to the web as a distribution model to realize that right now as I write, the big fish in Hollywood are planning to do the exact same thing in distribution online as they have done in theaters and TV. That is: control a good portion of it. And, access to the internet, with very few exceptions, is through corporations that are currently creating long term relationships with Hollywood studios and independent studios.

This is why the professional writers and producers are holding back in getting too deep into the web production world. The money isn’t in place, and the distribution is not in place. Thus, the atmosphere for many in the independent web production world is one of the wild west- no adults, free to do what you want, there’s always a seat at the bar and the drinks are all free. Thing is, you look around and it’s the same faces all looking for the same person: the one who has the wallet to pay for the drink.

There will be a user created world, a semi-professional world, and a professional world in the next web movement. Quality and money will be linked at the hip. A few in the first will make money, a few in the second will make money, and everyone in the third will make money. The big pay days will be there. The others will be seen as necessary to maintain viable communities online.

The interesting show to me would be one that combined those worlds to their greatest advantage. Democracy in action. At least for a little while until the next next web comes along.

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all the media madness you can stand

Posted by on May 1, 2008 | 0 comments

all kinds of media mayhem swirling around the dead corpse of reality:

  • Seems that child TV star Miley Cyrus, who is 15 years-old, has been used and abused by the adults around her, and everyone is blaming her for it, or each other, except for Jamie Lee Curtis, who knows a thing or two about this stuff. It pretty pathetic that people feign outrage that a 15 year-old girl showed some skin in an industry that literally thrives and survives on it. You can’t have it both ways people. Get a grip.

    Oh wait. I forgot where we were… And, of course, there’s just oodles of money to be made. Feh.

  • It appears that a Hillary Clinton supporter at the National Press Club may have helped facilitate the Jeremiah Wright appearance. And, considering that Hillary has secured the endorsement of Satan’s personal ball washer Richard Mellon Scaife and has actually sat down for an interview with America’s Own Adulterous and Sexual Harassment poster boy, the Falafel himself, the cretin of all media, Bill O’Rielly, I feel completely comfortable saying that it official: Hillary Clinton has gone to the dark side. The appearance on O’Rielly is a completely obvious attempt to keep the Wright issue afloat. And, of course, Fox is more than willing to assist, since they want her to be the nominee and go agasint McCain in the fall.

    Add to this the fact that Rush Limbaugh is supporting her candidacy and it leads yours truly to to surmise that the Clinton campaign is either colluding with three of the most fascistic elements in the right wing echo chamber, or she’s being used by them. Personally, I think it’s the latter. Conservatives are scared of Obama. They don’t know how to beat him. They’ve wanted Hillary as the nominee for years. They feel they can beat her hands down.

    So, the Clinton campaign: Gone to the dark side or dupes?

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    The Truth According To Wikipedia

    Posted by on Apr 29, 2008 | 0 comments

    A documentary on how the web 2.0 “revolution” is kaput. Old news, but essential watching for those interested in the issue. Will blog on this later.

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    meet the new boss, same as the old boss

    Posted by on Apr 20, 2008 | 0 comments

    The New York Times has come out with a really good article with supporting video that looks at how the Pentagon manipulates news and information to their advantage, and did so during the revolt of several generals. This is a continuation of a a pretty important issue that I’ve written about in the past:

    “The BBC has a report on the “Information Operations Roadmap” which…

    …calls for a far-reaching overhaul of the military’s ability to conduct information operations and electronic warfare. And, in some detail, it makes recommendations for how the US armed forces should think about this new, virtual warfare.

    Here’s a PDF of it. Read it for yourself. This is part of the Rumsfeld plan to control information, as David Miller put it:

    The concept of ‘information dominance’ is the key to understanding US and UK propaganda strategy and a central component of the US aim of ‘total spectrum dominance’. It redefines our notions of spin and propaganda and the role of the media in capitalist society. To say that it is about total propaganda control is to force the English language into contortions that the term propaganda simply cannot handle. Information dominance is not about the success of propaganda in the conventional sense with which we are all familiar. It is not about all those phrases ‘winning hearts and minds’, about truth being ‘the first casualty’ about ‘media manipulation’ about ‘opinion control’ or about ‘information war’. Or, to be more exact – it is about these things but none of them can quite stretch to accommodate the integrated conception of media and communication encapsulated in the phrase information dominance. […]

    Traditional conceptions of propaganda involve crafting the message and distributing it via government media or independent news media. Current conceptions of information war go much further and incorporate the gathering, processing and deployment of information including via computers, intelligence and military information (command and control) systems. The key preoccupation for the military is ‘interoperability’ where information systems talk to and work with each other. Interoperability is a result of the computer revolution which has led to the ‘Revolution in Military Affairs’. Now propaganda and psychological operations are simply part of a larger information armoury.

    Such is the state of affairs in a country run by the war business. Truth is the first casualty.

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    war made easy… but you pay the price

    Posted by on Apr 11, 2008 | 0 comments

    Ralph Bernardo of Disinformation posted this trailer clip for “War Made Easy” and thought it worth sharing:

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    bush speak versus reality

    Posted by on Mar 20, 2008 | 0 comments

    At this juncture, pretty much everything that comes out of BushCo. is a lie. They just don’t have anything else it would appear.

    Film director Milos Forman, who lived through the occupation of the Nazi’s and the Soviet Communists in Czechoslovakia said of propaganda that the obvious stuff never worked. It was the sub textual stuff that worked. This is the obvious stuff. Excerpts from Bush’s speech today with responses:

    Because we acted, Saddam Hussein no longer fills fields with the remains of innocent men, women and children.

    Saddam is believed to be responsible for the death of an estimated 200,000 Iraqi’s during his three decades long regime. (Not including pinning all the deaths from the Iran / Iraq war on him, since he received tacit support for this war from a number of countries, including the US.) The US led war in Iraq has been responsible for the death of nearly 90,000 Iraqi’s in a short five years, so far documented. Does genocide beget genocide?

    Because we acted, Saddam’s torture chambers and rape rooms and children’s prisons have been closed for good.

    Saddam’s torture chambers may be gone, but in spirit replaced by Abu Ghraib, and rendition in Syria and Egypt. Orphanages in Iraq proliferate, estimates by Iraqi authorities of millions of orphans abound, and barbaric treatment of children during the US occupation has been in the news.

    Because we acted, Saddam’s regime is no longer invading its neighbors or attacking them with chemical weapons and ballistic missiles.

    Which doesn’t preclude the USA threatening to invade or attack Iraq’s neighbors.

    Because we acted, Saddam’s regime is no longer paying the families of suicide bombers in the Holy Land.

    Meanwhile, it’s okay for the US to bribe jihadist groups not to fight, groups which had previously killed Iraqi civilians and US troops. And, it’s still under investigation whether some portions of the Iraqi insurgency and possibly AQI was actually funded by billions of US dollars gone missing.

    Because we acted, Saddam’s regime is no longer shooting at American and British aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones and defying the will of the United Nations.

    IED’s and suicide bombers both continue to kill both American soldiers and Iraqi civilians nearly every day.

    Because we acted, the world is better and United States of America is safer.

    The US border is unsecured, so who knows who is coming and going and for what reasons, the Iraqi border is unsecured, the dollar is falling, the economy is in trouble, banks are failing, oil is up and down, the Chinese invest a trillion dollars yearly in US Treasury bills while the US economy continues to accumulate debt while not producing enough to balance it out, a major US city is devastated and the country lacks the resources to fix the problem, nuclear proliferation is still rampant around the world, anti-American sentiment is at a high world wide, an innocent man can be killed by mistake on a plane and people say it is okay, but we are safer because a thug turned despot with delusions of grandeur, who we were told was close to building a nuke but was not, is now gone.

    And, if you are a member of the club, you are making billions.

    Don’t ya feel dirty?

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    ciao tucker and other stuff for a monday

    Posted by on Mar 10, 2008 | 0 comments

  • Why it took MSNBC so long to cancel Tucker Carlson is a mystery. His ratings have been bottom barrel consistently since launch and Carlson managed by sheer force of arrogance, personality and intellectual flatulence to produce one of the most routinely mundane, prosaic and mendacious shows on the air. Not to mention that he openly supprted terror and proffered a general perspective towards the free press that can be best described as totalitarian. Jon Stewart was right.
  • Bill Maher notes that it would be impossible for George W. Bush to be in any way behind the 9/11 plot for the simple fact that Bush is a moron. But, of course, all good plots need a fool. Just sayin’.
  • Glenn Greenwald links to fellow former Jakeneck grad Julian Sanchez’s excellent analysis and “dissection” of the GOP talking points regarding the FISA issue. Really essential reading…
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    Cheney and the Iraq Energy Task Force…

    Posted by on Feb 23, 2008 | 0 comments

    …the weed that won’t die. Jon Taplin gets down to brass tacks. (via Boing Boing)

    There is obviously something to this… Not like it’s a state secret that the US needs and wants Iraqi oil. It really says a great deal about conservatives and others who have never really been able to readily admit that the entire reason the US is even involved in the Middle East or Iraq or Afghanistan is oil.

    Personally, I’d have a lot more respect for all the keyboard commando’s and the chicken hawks if they simply admitted this fact outright. But, they do not, as if doing so will cross some line in the sand where only real and evil fascists go, a line they’ve already crossed anyway.

    This is why they spend so much time trying to convince the world that it’s the other side that are the fascists. Sad.

    And, lest we forget, Cheney’s planning to invade Iraq prior to 9/11 is one of the numerous points listed in Bruce Fein’s well thought out article on impeachment of the Administration for violations on a number of levels.

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