Category Archives: media culture

Radio Free Discordia launches

RADIO FREE DISCORDIA is finally launching! You can hear its birth pangs tonight at about 7 PM EST. If you’re interested in doing a show, whether it’s a one-shot or a weekly gig, contact Mourning Star, who can (often) be found in the #RFD chat room.

Refresh the above image to get a new one.

The potential for far-right terrorism in the USA

I’ve been kind of busy, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon, so instead of doing a writeup myself, I’ll just direct you with links.

Orcinus has the details about the potential (and, in my view, likely) re-emergence of the “Patriot” militia movement:

One of the more disturbing trends we’ve been observing is the return of far-right “Patriot” rhetoric about government oppression with the election of President Obama. Fueled in no small part by mainstream right-wing talkers proclaiming we’re headed into “socialism” — not to mention a “radical communist” who must be “stopped” or else America will “cease to exist” — the overheated rhetoric has been gradually getting higher in volume, intensity, and frequency with each passing week.

The initial concern that this raises is the possibility of a new wave of citizen militias, particularly when you have mainstream pundits like Glenn Beck out there helping to promote the concept. As Glenn Greenwald observed, the “Patriots” are back with a vengeance.

At least for the time being, however, there isn’t any evidence of new militias forming, though we may see numbers growing within the coming months within existing units, particularly as Fox News and radio pundits start fueling right-wing anxieties.

However, we are starting to see a trend that’s even more disturbing: Military veterans voicing Patriot-movement beliefs, including threats of violent resistance to the Obama administration.

If anyone is foolish enough to think these guys are actually about liberty, I suggest you ask them where they have been for the past 8 years, or their views on Bush’s leadership.  There is a disturbing proto-fascist element to the militia movement which is really worrying.

A look inside the corporate PR machine

There are two excellent pieces up on The eXiled right now which you need to be reading.  They are Is CNBC’s Rick Santelli Sucking Koch, and Koch activists teabag media.

I’ll leave you to read them in your own time, but I could smell the PR bullshit coming off these Tea Party protests from the start, I just didn’t have the time or the inclination to dig.  Nevertheless, an insight into how these things work is always nice.  As Ames points out

So today’s protests show that the corporate war is on, and this is how they’ll fight it: hiding behind “objective” journalists and “grassroots” new media movements. Because in these times, if you want to push for policies that help the super-wealthy, you better do everything you can to make it seem like it’s “the people” who are “spontaneously” fighting your fight. As a 19th century slave management manual wrote, “The master should make it his business to show his slaves, that the advancement of his individual interest, is at the same time an advancement of theirs. Once they feel this, it will require little compulsion to make them act as becomes them.” (Southern Agriculturalist IX, 1836.) The question now is, will they get away with it, and will the rest of America advance the interests of Koch, Santelli, and the rest of the masters?

Is George Friedman smoking crack?

Stratfor’s analysis is starting to show its bias much more:

Note the section on the US missile program in central Europe.  Unless something has changed radically, the last I heard was Obama was putting the kibosh on the project at least until the Pentagon could make the case it had to be in Europe, and in return, Russia was withdrawing its plans to put nuclear warheads in Kaliningrad, which would allow them to strike anywhere in Europe with even their smallest nuclear capable missiles.

Also on Kyrgyzstan, while the analysis is accurate, they in no way mention the cyber attack which was almost certainly undertaken by Russian proxies there – one which may have been a trial run to see how US forces coped with bandwidth poor environments.  The US military is massively dependent on using state of the art communication systems, and they did have problems in Central Asia when first moving into those bases, in 2001-2002.  Russian expertise in cyber warfare is nothing new, but running an attack which may have been designed to test US responses is.  In the Georgia/Russia spat earlier last year, the Russians were probably too busy actually attacking Georgian websites and communications to see what they could do to American bases in the country.  This time, they had an attackers advantage, in choosing the time and place.  Given Obama, just today, is reviewing cyberspace security, I would think this was much more important than Russia’s long standing objections to the US presence in its percieved sphere of intersest.

And just to confirm my suspicions, I get a new email:

In our 2009 Annual Forecast, we let Stratfor Members know that Russia is resurging–but can she really do it? The short answer is YES.

Russia needs more than economic power to mount a real resurgence–military power is an equally important aspect. So we’re introducing a special four-part series on the Russian Military.

UUUUUNNNNGGGGHHHHHHH.  Paul Kennedy is quietly weeping somewhere.  Military superpowers need to be economic powerhouses first and foremost.  Obviously, a super rich country with little population is not much of a military risk (see: Saudi Arabia), but equally a populous country with a weak economy is not nearly as much of a threat as one with a strong economy.

Russia had an economy comparable to Portugal, a thin strip of mostly barren land on the Atlantic sea, which makes the majority of its money from tourists who don’t realize they crossed the border from Spain, and from the quite frankly disgusting “firewater” drink.  Oh, and Port, of course.

And most of this was because of Russian reliance on energy resources, in particular oil and gas.  Oil prices have essentially collapsed, putting the Russian economy in dire straits.  Their weapons systems are their second main export, but with the economic crisis hitting their main clients hard as well, they cannot hope to pick up the loss of earnings there.

Russia still has a decent amount of firepower, of course.  It has the world’s biggest stockpile of nuclear weapons, for starters.  It has numerous WMD programs, including a very advanced biological weapons division.  They still maintain large numbers of missiles, both conventional and otherwise.  Its intelligence assets were primed towards Europe and America for 60+ years, and many of those assets are still around, if in a reduced capacity.  It also has its much vaunted cyber warfare capacity.

But those are costly to maintain.  Equally, Russia’s population is steadily decreasing, as is its economy.  Sooner or later, cuts will have to be made, in order to save the careers of those in the Duma and Kremlin.  And Russia is already well behind in certain technical innovations than NATO, China and Japan.  Can they sustain the economy necessary for high-tech research and their already existing military power, which is still a shadow of what the USSR possessed?  Highly unlikely.  Unless Russia can reverse its economic woes, presumably by seizing the Arctic oilfields and then orchestrating price fixing via Gazprom, its a power on the decline.  Again.


I think The Sun were having a stream of consciousness moment when writing this headline “oooh, poofters….rape…..blah Muslims….wurgh….time for a coffee”.

However, as Wired’s Danger Room points out, it is, apart from a pretty shitty piece of obvious propaganda, indicative of, shall we say, a general malaise that has set in among Al-Qaeda Prime?  AQP has tried to turn itself into a sort of “Big Vision” type of group, who go around exhorting others to actually take up the Jihad, and relying on local networks to do the dirty business.

But since earlier last year, when the focus shifted to the US elections, and with the victory of Barack Obama in particuar, they’ve been on the back foot.  Euphoria at Bush leaving, a guy with relatively sane policies and a guy with a background that includes at least one mostly Muslim country mean he has a lot of leverage, and people are willing to hear him out.  No-one was willing to hear a born again Christian who was part of the Texas oil set and hobnobbed with the Arab dictatorships out.  Especially after he bombed and occupied a country on erroneous (read: non-existant) evidence.  And the whole torture and contempt of human rights stuff didn’t help either.

Regardless of if Obama will have better Middle East policies or not, he is clearly better thought of than the previous guy.  People turn to terrorism through lack of seemingly viable options.  So when the guy in charge is trying to be a mediator instead of a commander, people think they have a shot at getting their points across.

Al-Qaeda is losing the media war.  Sun headlines aside, people think they have a choice now, that there are multiple options and a possible path to reconciliation.  Most people do not seek to join terrorist organizations when there are peaceful alternatives with a shot at getting what they want.  I suspect that will be the next opening in Obama’s strategic communication offensive, at least if he is smart.  Courting peaceful Islamist groups will defuse a large number of tensions if he can prevail on Arab leaders to listen to their requests and proposals.

And if that does happen, expect Al-Qaeda’s war to turn suddenly to “traitors within the Islamist ranks”.  They need to make sure they are seen as the only legitimate voice of oppressed Muslims the world over, and their best chance for success.  Any threats to that image must be taken care of, after all.

Attention: Revolutionaries

Capitalism hasn’t failed. The people who run it have. While at a basic level, Capitalism comes down to “I have greed, and you have need. Let’s do a deal!”, we all know there is much more to it than that. Otherwise none of us would get worked up over Globalisation(tm)and workers rights and the like. There is obviously a social element to Capitalism, both from “our” point of view, and also “theirs”.

Given this very human element, there comes a time where dead wood needs to be cut out of the system – for it to run at maximum wealth-creating efficiency. We normally call these recessions. The weak fall, the strong and the innovative survive. When you postpone a recession with massive public borrowing, that’s all you are doing – postponing it. Artificially propping up the weak can only last for so long before they fall off, like balancing a ball on a very thin stick.

When you get a recession, every weak element in the system will be tested. If you’ve postponed it, they’ll be tested massively. And they’ll fail, epically.

So, I state again, the reason why everything is completely fucked now isn’t so much the system (as flawed and distasteful as it may be), but the people who have allowed 2 or 3 recessions to hit us at the same time. Any system you replace Capitalism with will still be run by pretty much the same people. Even if they have different faces, they’ll still have the same flawed ideas. And we’ll be fucked again.

Change the ideas, THEN the system, and you may be onto something.

The Great Unfolding

Only time will tell…

If you believe what you see on TV, then you are expecting a great New Dawn to occur around noon EST next Tuesday.  Of course, I imagine most of us HERE know better than that. 

The Republicans ridiculed the Hope and Change message from soon-to-be President Barack Obama.  It was endlessly lampooned and satirized.  But they attacked it from the COMPLETELY WRONG angle.  They framed it as an empty message.  A skeleton of an outline and a no-logic model.  Anyone who was paying attention clearly understands that Obama DID have a plan behind his message of “Hope and Change”.  His campaign website had pages, and pages of plans and initiatives.  So the Republicans totally screwed the pooch and really should’ve looked at it from a more pragmatic perspective.

That perspective being, “Do you really think you can do all this shit?”  Oh sure, a couple of the Conservatives tried it, but after George F. Will and the other Republican egg-heads dissed Palin, the rest of the movement ignored anything they said.  And this is the question Obama and the rest of us have to wake up to every morning.  I’m not naive enough to think that he is naive enough to think he can actually do EVERYTHING he promised on the campaign trail, much less what was on his campaign website.  Obviously, there isn’t a politician that has ever lived that has carried out all of their promises.  Okay, well maybe Hitler and Milosevic did, but I digress…

Now, we know how a large chunk of our compatriots operate.  We especially understand how they react to messages that come from the television and other “news” media outlets.  And as technology has advanced, every other Joe on the block has a “news” blog.  Yes, even THAT Joe.  I’m sure we all have also witnessed how the pending Obama Presidency has been sold by many of the “news” media outlets.  I think there is an expectation among many akin to that scene in The Two Towers, when it looked like Saruman’s hordes were about to totally obliterate the Rohirim at Helm’s Deep.  But lo, the sun breaks and there is Gandalf with some huge army he’s conjured up from the wastes.  Switch Gandalf with Obama and the army with economists and you have the expectations for what will happen on January 20th. 

And it’s hard not to empathize with that sentiment.  Desperation will cause a person to latch on to any glimmer of hope that may present itself.  It is human nature.  And it can seem cruel to temper that enthusiasm.  But one also doesn’t want to succumb to reverse paranoia, the idea that someone out there is going to save you from your economic ruin.  Or, that if it does happen, it’s going to happen next week, when in reality, we’re probably looking at the next decade. 

Indeed, only time will tell how successful President Obama is able to channel that Hope and process it into Change in the people’s pockets and Change in the people’s prospects.  The past has demonstrated that these troubled times do come to an end.  The question on the table is if it will happen WITH Obama’s interventions, or in spite of. 

Or at least, that’s how I see it.
-Reverend What’s-His-Name?

I’m sure there are international laws against this kind of thing

The New York Times, in their neverending crusade against common sense and fact based reporting, has decided, in their infinite wisdom, to give a column to Bono.  Yes, that Bono.  And already, his first article is turning out to be a failure of near epic proportions.  Its like Thomas Friedman, on acid.  Bad acid.

Fortunately, you can read the condensed version of all future articles at the following link (hat tip to Jean-Lustine d’Hadamard).