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April 09, 2003

After Saddam: an Arab Congo?- I usually don't like linking to other blog entries, but this one's pretty good. Educated and thoughtful analysis and predictions about the future of Iraq. I found it most useful to skip down to the section that starts "The Shia", then read the rest of the article, then skip back up to the top and read what I missed.

Deep Concerns- what I think is the first statement/essay from Noam Chomsky about the Iraq war since it began. Looks far down the road about the implications of the war and its related policies, and what we should be doing to oppose them.

Picking a Challenger- stuff I thought I'd never hear coming out of the mouth of our pal Geov Parrish, long-time anarchist: he more or less says "vote Democrat." But it's no sell-out manuever, let him say it in his own words:

For the long-term freedom, health, prosperity, and security of Americans -- and the world's other six billion people, and all its other species, too -- there is no more critical task in the coming months than to oust George W. Bush, and the lunatics surrounding him, in November 2004.

And y'know, he's got a point. I find American electoral politics repellent and hopelessly broken, I find the Democrats to be still pretty similar to the Republicans, and I'm not keen on the idea of government in general. But fuck, Geov's right. Getting Bush out of office will probably do more good than most other worthy causes or revolutions you could think of. Which, sadly, could mean working on getting a Democrat elected to the presidency.

Whose 'truth' is being reported?- really good look at differences in Iraq war coverage between American and Arab news networks. The author finds that neither is "bad" or "wrong," but each is playing to its built-in audience, Americans who want to see their troops achieve a safe victory and Arabs who are angry at the destruction caused by a foreign invasion.

The Real Face of War- up close from afar. War is an ugly thing, and if we choose to wage it, all decent people must take it all in and not look away.

Those awkward hearts and minds- a slightly out of date chart gauging worldwide opinion about the war.

Poor hardest to find on campus- I have always considered affirmative action in college admission policies to be a type of economic redistribution. If you're a person of color in the U.S., you're more likely to be poor. And with a college degree, you're more likely to get a high paying job. Some folks argue that affirmative action should be based upon personal economics rather than race, and that's not a terrible idea. The article above is good ammunition for that idea, pointing out the very small percentage of college students who come from poor backgrounds, the ones we might most want to redistribute wealth to.

Posted by Jake at 01:23 AM | TrackBack (0)

Okay, a couple of things:

I disagree with voting Democrat (or any political party for that matter) since it perpetuates the need for a state and the sham that is representative government. Corporate rule will still exist either way. Now, if you're talking about Democrats being less war-like than Bush and the Republicans, might I remind everyone of the Clinton-endorsed bombings in eastern Europe, Sudan, AND IRAQ! The liberal elites didn't complain one iota. As much as I hate conservative jingoists, they are right in pointing out the hypocrisy of Democrats (ironically the same chauvinists rally behind the Clinton bombings to claim how great America is, the bastards).

The affirmative action issue, particularly the class-based variety is an interesting one. Now, let me say that I oppose affirmative action (gasp!), but for far different reasons than the usual elite conservative rantings involving white fear, reverse discrimination, and the perfunctory "it demeans minorities" bit. As a working-class minority myself, I always get weird looks from my liberal friends (most of whom who are better off finanically) who say, "I didn't think you're a conservative." And then I start pulling my hair out. In a nutshell, I oppose affirmative action because it actually perpetuates state and capitalism. For one, it's another example of needing government to set up laws and enforce them as a benevolent Big Brother. Secondly, all it does is give a false front to corporations who hire a few token minorities to meet diversity quotas and make themselves look good ("Gee look at us, we have minorities!" and I'm not even getting into the glass ceiling scenario). I just think there needs to be a leftist critique (be it anarchist, radical, or socialist) of affirmative action, which IMO, is a fraud perpertuated by liberal statists and capitalists to make phony concessions to working-class and poor minorities and does little to eliminate the roots of discrimination and inequality.

Now some of ths stuff about class-based affirmative action is intriguing, but I still oppose it if it involves government. I think most of us here know how woefully lacking the state is in these matters.

I'm sure some of you disagree, but that's my bit.

Posted by: Eric at April 9, 2003 08:48 AM

As a supplement, affirmative action benefits a few well-off minorities, but does little for working-class or poor minorities or whites. I will also add that conservative capitalists use it to for their own ends too. How to get to the roots of racial discrimination and class inequality would take a dissertation, but I'm all for dismantling state and capitalism (decentralization at all levels and forms) since I think those two forces breeds all that is negative: authority, dependence, racism, classism, divisions, etc.

Posted by: Eric at April 9, 2003 09:03 AM


this is an open question directed to anyone, but somewhat pointed at you. can you tell me exactly what the benefits/negatives are of an anarchist type of state? i know very little about this position, other than the classical definition(which is probably wrong, therefore revealing my ignorance on the subject) of where an anarchist state is just devoid of any form of government be it state or federal.

i'm not saying what you mentioned above is wrong or right. i'm just curious to know what the position of an anarchist-type method of things is and what it really stands for. i look at the simplified definition of an anarachist type state is one without any rules or governing body. but what's the real deal?

your friend,

Posted by: art at April 9, 2003 11:24 AM

Hi Art,

I'm more of an individualist sympathizer of the anarchist movement, but I agree with its opposition to state and capitalism and try to apply its principles whenever possible.

Anarchists seek to eliminate state and capitalism and replace it with direct self-government (citizens deciding policies for themselves on the community level) and direct self-management and ownership of workers, consumers, tenants, etc. in all aspects of society. There are a wide variety of schools of anarchism (from non-state communism to non-capitalist individualism), but all oppose state and capitalism.

The benefits are just that complete self-determination at all levels. Anarchism has plenty of detractors: liberal/conservative statists and capitalists, Marxists, libertarian capitalists (and so-called anarcho-capitalist). Charges range from "chaos" fear, utopianism, impracticality, forced socialism, etc.

For more info on various anarchist positions of various issues, email me at eray36@lycos.com. Or check out some resources including the Anarchy FAQ - at http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/1931. It's a good, comprehensive guide to what anarchism is in theory and practice.


P.S. FYI, an "anarchist state" is an oxymoron. It would be more of a collection of societies operating independently of each other.

Posted by: Eric at April 9, 2003 01:07 PM


that is very interesting. i had a feeling there was more to it than the definition that most people assume it to be.

unfortunately i couldn't get onto that site you linked. maybe its just down or something is wrong on my end of things. i'll have to try it later. so if i ask a question that can be answered in the faq, please forgive me...

so essentially at the end of your post, you describe it as closer to a collection of societies operating under there own rules, wholly independent of each other. sort of like tribes in a sense, with their own rules/customs distince from other tribes...analogically speaking. so my questions are...1)practicality, how practical would it be to see this at a large scale 2)these societies...how large would they be? and how does interaction between each independent society work? is there a basic set of principles all societies would have to adhere to in order for interaction to happen?


Posted by: art at April 9, 2003 03:31 PM


Oops, I think it's because of the period. Let's try: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/1931

Yeah, independent collection of societies is basically right, though I hesitate to use the "tribal" analogy since it sounds primitive. We're not advocating a return to primitive conditions, BTW (though anarcho-primitivists do, but most anarchists do not).

In terms of practicality, again, that would take time to explain. It wouldn't be large-scale in terms of what we might think of a federal government or a nation. Everything would pretty much be localized, but to answer your second question, there would be free association and mutual aid involved between independent societies. Regarding how large they would be, obviously, it would be easier for smaller communities to govern themselves, but in large cities, there could be independent communities within that large concentration.

Posted by: Eric at April 9, 2003 04:17 PM

Yeah, I can't bring myself to support the Democrats either. I can't wholeheartedly buy into any party or ideology, but I'm more anarchist than anything else.

Posted by: Jake at April 9, 2003 10:52 PM

Call me a leftist whacko for identifying with that Chomsky piece, but he really nails it for me towards the end:

"There are two ways for Washington to respond to the threats engendered by its actions and startling proclamations. One way is to try to alleviate the threats by paying some attention to legitimate grievances, and by agreeing to become a civilized member of a world community, with some respect for world order and its institutions. The other way is to construct even more awesome engines of destruction and domination, so that any perceived challenge, however remote, can be crushed Ė provoking new and greater challenges."

Posted by: dack at April 10, 2003 08:14 AM
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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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