Archive | just politics

More Bush, More Republicans, Same Crappy Media Enivronment. But Good for Real Independent Media?

I have no amazing analysis as to why Bush won, or why the Republicans managed to firm up their domination in both houses of Congress. It sucks, but we’ll live. We may even be able to galvanize more opposition. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that four years of the corrupt Bush administration has been good for oppositional and independent media.

That said, when it comes to issues like low-power FM and media ownership reform it’s the Congress that has much more effect than the Executive, and we can expect any and all progress in Congress to grind to a halt. John McCain, one of the strongest advocates of both these issues and a Republican, is leaving the chairship of the Senate Commerce Committee to be replaced by the much more reliably conservative and industry-friendly Ted Stevens of Alaska. That, combined with even less support in the Senate as a whole will probably put up a big blockade against further motion on media reform issues.

With Denny Hastert at the helm the House has never been cooperative in moving on media reform issues, and I don’t expect that to change.

So, I think it’s safe to say that the expansion of low-power FM is all but a dead issue now, and for the forseeable future. But, there is still unlicensed broadcasting, which I think is only growing, not shrinking.

And while the FCC has stepped up enforcement against prominent stations like Freak Radio Santa Cruz, we have to remember that FCC funding is always under threat. As John at DIYmedia notes, it appears that the FCC office in Denver has run out of travel funds for the year, at least partially due to chasing Boulder Free Radio, and so is very limited to how much it can chase pirates that aren’t in the city proper.

Republicans have always had a mixed relationship with the FCC — they like using regulation to keep the field safe for the NAB, but they love deregulation. They have a history of attacking the FCC’s budget, especially when it looks like the agency is making life tough for the communications industry.

The combination of no more LPFM licenses and a shrinking FCC budget should mean good things for unlicensed radio. No doubt the FCC will continue to go after the most prominent and public broadcasters, but will probably have to conserve resources to do so. That should leave things clearer for more clandestine broadcasters.

I’m not cheering, but, then again, a Kerry administration wouldn’t give me much reason to cheer, either.

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Bizzarro Illinois Political Ad Smears Candidate as “Weird Al Impersonator”


I’m not making this up. When I first saw it I thought it was some kind of strange joke, but several viewings leads only to the conclusion that it’s a real ad, taking down a political opponent for having been previously a Weird Al Yankovic impersonator. The ad features the subject, Scot England, with Weird Al hair, glasses and hawaiian shirt superimposed over his pictures.

Then, the ad continues on to say the guy would raise taxes, and that sort of typical local polital mudslinging. The candidates are actually running for the Illinois House. But what’s most disturbing is how poor Weird Al is getting dragged through the mud for nothing.

Luckily the ad appeared during a program I recorded on my PVR, so I could capture it into a quicktime to share with the world.

Download Quicktime video (3.7 MB)

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Louisiana’s Corporate Whore To Leave Committee & Congress

Republican Rep. Bill Tauzin of Louisiana is set to step down from his chairship of the House Engergy and Commerce Committee, which oversees telecommunications issues and the FCC, on Feb. 16, and leave the House altogether at the end of his term.

Tauzin was a tireless friend to the corporate media and the entertainment cartel, with such efforts as leading the good fight against evil technologies like low-power FM radio.

A testament to his whoring prowess is found in the jobs lined up for him as soon as he quits Congress. He’s already turned down succeeding Jack Valenti as head of the Motion Picture Association of America, but looks to have lined up a sweet gig as head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the trade group that represents drug giants such as Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. It pays to scratch a LOT of backs!

Whether it’s Television, Drug of a Nation, or the Prozac Nation, Tauzin has been and will continue to be there to keep us doped up, stupid and hemmed in from all sides.

Rep. Joe Barton is the man most likely to replace Tauzin as chair of the Engery and Commerce Committee, and it seems like he gets a fair amount of his bread buttered by telecomm and media industry (though not as much as from the auto and energy industries, bein’ that he’s from Texas). According to, amongst Barton’s biggest campaign contributors in the 2002 election were:

National Cable & Telecommunications Assn, $11,851
General Electric, $6,000
BellSouth Corp, $5,000
Viacom Inc, $3,000
National Assn of Broadcasters, $2,500
Motion Picture Assn of America, $1,000

Looks like ol’ Joe is going to be able to raise his prices substantially if he gets that chairship.

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A Free Corporate Media… Free To Serve Inverted Totalitarianism

Sheldon Wolin writes convincingly in the Nation that the Republican Bushist regime is effecting an “Inverted Totalitarianism”:

“By inverted I mean that while the current system and its operatives share with Nazism the aspiration toward unlimited power and aggressive expansionism, their methods and actions seem upside down. For example, in Weimar Germany, before the Nazis took power, the ‘streets’ were dominated by totalitarian-oriented gangs of toughs, and whatever there was of democracy was confined to the government. In the United States, however, it is the streets where democracy is most alive–while the real danger lies with an increasingly unbridled government.

Or another example of the inversion: Under Nazi rule there was never any doubt about ‘big business’ being subordinated to the political regime. In the United States, however, it has been apparent for decades that corporate power has become so predominant in the political establishment, particularly in the Republican Party, and so dominant in its influence over policy, as to suggest a role inversion the exact opposite of the Nazis’. At the same time, it is corporate power, as the representative of the dynamic of capitalism and of the ever-expanding power made available by the integration of science and technology with the structure of capitalism, that produces the totalizing drive that, under the Nazis, was supplied by ideological notions such as Lebensraum. “

And the media is their tool to ram it home. From the right-wing demoagogues of FOX News and Clear Channel, to the government-source lapdogs of CNN and ABC, and to the embedded military contractors at GE/NBC, they all do the bidding of those in power, unwilling to ask real questions of power and its expression. Their bread is buttered too thick to even think of flipping over.

The corporate media don’t need to be threatened by government censorship and direct suppression. The sweet honey of profit and favor are far stronger incentive to toe the line, whilst giving the appearance of freedom. Sure, the media may be free to ask questions of power (and occasionally they do), but what good is it if it’s mostly not expressed?

So now Mikey Powell and the FCC are ready to hand them their next mouthful of reward, in the form of ownership deregulation, for their service to the cause of his daddy Colin and his Texas cowboy pals. Hey, Clear Channel, keep throwing those Pro-America Rallies and maybe you’ll get to own 2400 radio stations and a few hundred more TV!

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FCC Gets Detention

The full slate of FCC Commissioners will be making another rare appearance at the House, this time at Billy Tauzin’s Energy and Commerce Committee. Tauzin and many other Reps are pissed that the FCC went the compromise route on deregulating the mandatory sharing of local telephone networks by the regional Bell operators. And they’re especially livid that the FCC decided to delegate to the states the authority to decide whether or not a particular Bell operator, like SBC, has to open its network to competitors.

Topping it off, the FCC made this decision with a slim 3 to 2 vote where Chairman Powell was on the losing side, as more moderate Republican commissioner Kevin Martin sided with the Commission’s Democrats. Now Tauzin, a strong advocate of handing over the store to the big Baby Bell monopolies, is calling in the Commissioners for detention and a good spanking.

Tauzin has even gone so far as to label Martin a “renegade Republican.” It will be interesting to see whether this will reign Martin in or if it will only strengthen his resolve to go his own way, even if that means bucking Powell and some powerful Republican legislators.

The full FCC made its last appearance in front of Congress just a month ago in front of Sen. McCain’s Senate Commerce Committee. It’s a very rare occasion that the full FCC is summoned to Congress, thus the fact that it’s happened twice in two months is a strong indicator of how telecommunications and media ownership issues are being moved to the front burner of domestic policy. Unfotunately, the mainstream press still treats this as a business story, not national news.

Finally, even though I’m not crazy about the decision made by the FCC last week, especially since it still hands over more power to the crooked likes of SBC, I still have to enjoy the political theater of it all. As it is, consumers like you and me are already getting pretty screwed by our local Bell companies who enjoy de facto monopolies in most cities, regardless of competitors. Since as citizens and consumers we have little or no say in how the FCC or a Senate committee runs its business, sometimes the healthiest response is to sit back and watch the coyotes fight over the scraps.

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