Lying Media Bastards

September 30, 2007

Rock Band Destroys Capitalism

Well, okay, that title is a wee bit exaggerated.

BUT!

Mega-popular artsy rock band Radiohead have announced that you can obtain their new album in two ways:

1) You can buy the “discbox” for £40 (around $81), which includes the album on CD, the album on two vinyl records, a CD-ROM with more songs and multimedia, an artbook, and a lyric book.

2) You can pre-order a download-only version of the album (not sure what audio format, probably mp3?). The cost for the download-only version? Says the website, “It’s up to you. No really, it’s up to you”.

Yes, you go to their website, order the download album, and the site lets you manually input how much you want to pay for it. It looks like you might actually be able to enter £0.00, but they do add a £0.45 credit card fee to the cost. But still, Radiohead is letting you personally set the price for the transaction, and is willing to let it go for any price over $1.00.

In a way, this is a real kick in the balls to their record label. “Hey kids, want the new album by hugely popular band Radiohead? Do you want to pay $18 or $1?” ($18 is the cost of CDs in the store these days) But honestly, it might not be a bad business decision:

- $1 is much more than the $0 usually paid for music downloads
- the variable amount allows people (like me) who want to support the artists but don’t want to pay record store prices
- the $81 deluxe “discbox” will probably make a ton of cash from superfan collector types

Damn, now I feel compelled to end with a clever pun based on a Radiohead song lyric, but I can’t think of any that fit. Um…

“I’m a paranoid fake plastic creep in a cage on antibiotics.”

Brilliant.

Posted by Jake on September 30, 2007 10:30 pm

Like Scary Clockwork

And here it is, your quarterly piece by Seymour Hersh documenting Bush administration efforts to drag us into a war with Iran.

I don’t know what to think on this issue anymore. I read about all of these tactics and ploys to ready the nation for the Iran war, then I read Chomsky articles claiming that the conflict with Iran will be a “cold” war instead of a direct confrontation, and hear claims that top US military officers have vowed to stop that war from ever happening, or threatening to resign if the president orders it. War with Iran doesn’t make sense, even if you share goals with the neocons. But the Bush-Cheney crew seems to have no concept of the consequences of their actions, so you can’t rule things out just because they’re deranged or suicidal.

Posted by Jake on September 30, 2007 8:27 pm

Surprisingly, the Issue Is a Little Complex…

It’s a timeless tale, one we might hear repeated in the future.

Small town passes law to punish those who hire or rent homes to illegal immigrants.

Immigrants leave in droves.

Town economy goes to shit.

A little more than a year ago, the Township Committee in this faded factory town became the first municipality in New Jersey to enact legislation penalizing anyone who employed or rented to an illegal immigrant.

Within months, hundreds, if not thousands, of recent immigrants from Brazil and other Latin American countries had fled. The noise, crowding and traffic that had accompanied their arrival over the past decade abated.

The law had worked. Perhaps, some said, too well.

With the departure of so many people, the local economy suffered. Hair salons, restaurants and corner shops that catered to the immigrants saw business plummet; several closed. Once-boarded-up storefronts downtown were boarded up again.

Meanwhile, the town was hit with two lawsuits challenging the law. Legal bills began to pile up, straining the town’s already tight budget. Suddenly, many people — including some who originally favored the law — started having second thoughts.

So last week, the town rescinded the ordinance, joining a small but growing list of municipalities nationwide that have begun rethinking such laws as their legal and economic consequences have become clearer.

“I don’t think people knew there would be such an economic burden,” said Mayor George Conard, who voted for the original ordinance. “A lot of people did not look three years out.”

Who’d've thought? Laws which drive a significant number of people out of the community can hurt the community!

But there’s no lesson to be learned here, and you would be a fool and a terrorist to suggest otherwise.

[via Orcinus]

Posted by Jake on September 30, 2007 1:26 pm

September 27, 2007

Rantasaurus #2

Rantasaurus #2

To refresh our memories:

What is “Rantasaurus”?

Basically, it’s a short version of my LMB radio show, for those weeks when I can’t get into the studio to record a live one. 10+ minutes of me talking, two or three songs by more obscure artists, possibly more angry bitterness at the ugly world, approximately the same amount of snarky wit.

I recorded my talky bits for a new LMB show this past weekend, but just haven’t had the time this to smoosh them together with music to make an actual show. And each day that passes, the talky bits seem ever more slightly dated. So I decided to knock out a highly relevant, topical, and sexy edition of Rantasaurus in an evening, and assemble the LMB show when I get a chance. Tomorrow night, maybe.

So Rantasaurus #2 is me talking about Burma and assorted crazee geopolitics, with music by Edan, Blackholicus, and the Minibosses. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kill 20 minutes.

Posted by Jake on September 27, 2007 10:36 pm

September 25, 2007

Free Burma?

Has anyone heard about any solidarity actions for the protesters in Burma/Myanmar? It seems like all the Free Burma organizations have been taken off-guard by the current protests inside that country, but I would’ve expected some emergency protests outside embassies and whatnot.

Posted by Jake on September 25, 2007 7:04 am

September 19, 2007

Mocking Human Scum

All Hail The Onion!

Latest Onion Radio News headline:

Unemployed Karl Rove Forced To Live On Canned Babies

Posted by Jake on September 19, 2007 10:03 pm

September 16, 2007

Shock Absorbers

I have been very pleased to see a number of popular liberal/progressive blogs plugging Naomi Klein’s new book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. This attention is due primarily to one of the best book-marketing efforts I’ve ever seen for a non-fiction work: get an internationally-famous, Academy Award-nominated director to create a short film about your book and its themes, and put it up on the web for free (video embedded below, higher quality downloads here).

The director is Alfonso Cuarón, most famous for “Y Tu Mamá También”, the third Harry Potter movie, and the excellent Children of Men (if you haven’t seen Children of Men, stop reading this now and go watch it. I’ll wait). I believe that Klein and Cuarón first met via Children of Men; the DVD version of the film contained a documentary about the political, social, economic, and environmental trends that could lead our world to resemble the film’s in the near future. Klein was one of the talking heads who appear in the documentary. Here is Cuarón’s film for The Shock Doctrine (about 6 minutes long):

I haven’t read the book yet (it should be winging its way towards my home as we speak), so I don’t know much more about it than you do. I’ve just seen that short film, read this excerpt that appeared in the Guardian some days ago, and am familiar with a number of Klein’s other works. Her breakout book, No Logo, got her branded (heh) as a spokesperson for the “anti-globalization movement” (the media sucks that way. Instead of trying to understand and report on an immensely important and complex web of issues, let’s get soundbites from an attractive white person who wrote a book), and most of her journalism since has focused on the ruthless corporate power, exploitative trade policies (which do much more harm than people realize), and grassroots resistance against these forms of repression. Which covers a lot of ground: NAFTA, the WTO, sweatshops, military contractors, biopiracy vs. the zapatistas of Chiapas, socialist factory reclaimers in Argentina, labor unions in Iraq, anti-privatization rioters in Bolivia, displaced farmers in India. Attempts by the powerful to steal even more from billions of people who are generally invisible to American eyes. When we think of these struggling poor in other nations, we tend to think of them as the helpless and downtrodden, eternal victims of timeless conflicts. Klein’s coverage tends to show them as live people, struggling ferociously in the here and now, for their own survival and self-determination.

I have to grin at Klein’s cleverly formulated argument in Shock Doctrine. Basically, she’s saying that capitalism as we know it has little to do with democracy, and much to do with rapid, radical, top-down change while the public is reeling in catastrophe’s wake. In a way, that’s not a stunning thesis, the rich and powerful shamelessly taking advantage whenever then can. But by attaching this claim to the CIA’s “shock” tactics used on prisoners, she can also attack the US military’s ongoing interrogation and torture practices. Now the horrors of global capitalism are linked to the visceral and the personal.

But even more than that, framing the issue in this way helps make issues of globalization relevant to the generation of folks who’ve become politicized under George W. Bush. I’m frequently astounded by the number of modern activists who see nothing but this one war, this one administration. But I think Shock Doctrine might split some minds open, drawing these folks in by covering the issues and events that ignited their passion to begin with– Bush, Iraq, 9/11, Katrina– and showing them another side of it all.

The Klein/Cuarón short film ends by declaring that information is the best method of staving off “shock”, that knowing what is happening to you is the way to protect yourself from the disorientation and fear that governments will try to exploit to reshape your world. And this is true. As I’ve talked about several times on this site, in the tumultuous hours and days after the 9/11 attacks, I found that the people who were the most terrified, the most hysterical, and the most willing to wage war on anyone an authority figure said we should wage war on, were the people who were the most uninformed. And that realization is what launched me back into writing that year, after a long hiatus: the more informed I could help make people, the less afraid they would be, and the more clearly they could think.

Of course, “protecting yourself from shock” is not enough. Sure, an unexpected disaster knocks people off balance and makes it easier for the powerful to seize control and violently alter the landscape. But that doesn’t mean they’ll only push to get their way when it’s easy. They’re never afraid to pull out their wallets, or their propaganda, or let loose the billy clubs and bullets. We’ve got to resist the shock, but we’ve also got to resist every other fucking thing they can throw at us. And unless we can transform ourselves from consumers and spectators into something else– I dunno, builders, fighters, creators, communities– we don’t have a prayer.

[update]

Klein was interviewed this morning on Democracy Now!. Transcript and audio here.

Posted by Jake on September 16, 2007 10:25 pm

September 9, 2007

Pile of Red Herrings

As General Petraeus prepares to give his report to Congress, the debate rages: was the “troop surge” in Iraq a success?

Everyone debating that question is an idiot. “Is the surge working?” is totally the wrong question to be asking. This debate is like haggling over the price of a used car, without anyone mentioning the highly relevant fact that the car is on fire.

It was a clever PR distraction. The Bush administration managed to control the conversation, steering it away from questions like “is the Iraqi government on the verge of collapse?” and “why the hell haven’t we left Iraq yet?”, and shifted it to questions like “did fewer Iraqis die in Baghdad in August than died in February?” And then, for good measure, they lie about the answer.

And then good liberals take the bait, and begin arguing about the death statistics, losing sight of the big picture. I’ll admit, that’s the tactic I’m initially drawn towards. “They’re lying! I must research and prove that they’re lying, then we’ll Win!” But the warmongers aren’t after logic or truth, it’s just a stall tactic. “We’ve got to wait and see if the surge succeeds” bought them eight more months of war, and if the current debate keeps the waters muddy enough, it might get them all the way through April.

The surge was never a good idea. Never. It was such bullshit that there was never really any need to even discuss it. Help bring stability to a roiling civil war in a nation of 24 million people, by increasing the number of American troops from 130,000 to 150,000 (although, to be fair, I imagine they also added tens of thousands of contractors and mercenaries as well, without bothering to inform the American people)? Who the fuck in their right mind would believe that would be a “solution”? To their credit, most Americans didn’t buy it (according to the polls).

As I say almost every radio show, the real questions should be “if the vast majority of the American people want us out of Iraq, why are we still in Iraq?” Or even more poigniantly, “if the vast majority of Iraqis want us out of Iraq, why are we still in Iraq?”

That last one is a national disgrace (our nation, not theirs). How arrogant or racist do you have to be to figure that you know better than the 20+ million people who’ve lived their whole lives in a nation you’ve barely set foot in? The US talks so much about democracy, and about the good of the Iraqi people, yet keep our war machine in their neighborhoods despite their wishes? I imagine some American politcians would answer that with “what the Iraqi people don’t understand is…” No, they understand just fine! They fucking live there! They’ve always fucking lived there! They see the bullets and the blood every day, they have to navigate life through the militias and gangsters and occupiers! They know their government is a bunch of corrupt villains and could collapse any day. They know that things might change radically once the US troops leave. And, knowing all that, they still want the US to go home. Why can’t we honor that?

Yeah, I know the answers to my own questions. But it’d be nice if common sense, respect, and honesty fit into the equation somewhere.

Posted by Jake on September 9, 2007 1:36 am

September 5, 2007

LMB Radio 09-05-07

LMB Radio 09-05-07

(Really? Is he doing the show again?)

Yeah, haven’t done a radio show in months. You don’t want to hear excuses, though. I’ll try to get shows recorded and uploaded every couple of weeks.

- the Green Scare and the SF 8
- Iran moves towards center
- USA vs Iran: hot war or cold war?
- Johnny Cash <3 dinosaurs
- going in circles in Iraq
- upcoming “media surge”
- moving the goalposts, fiddling with numbers
- with such a nice embassy, how could we ever leave Baghdad?
- White House vs Freedom

Music includes Blood Brothers, Filastine, Pat Benatar, Orpheum Bell, Sleater-Kinney, Gil Scott-Heron, Union 13, Pharoahe Monch, Unkle, Anthrax, Hum, and more.

The background music (Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass) occasionally gets a little too loud, and I wish I’d spent more time planning out what I’d talk about. But otherwise, a pretty decent show with some nice muzak.

Posted by Jake on September 5, 2007 6:47 pm

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