Friday, August 31, 2007

What A Wonderful World

Hand-shadow puppetry taken one step beyond:

Comedy: Redstate Update - Larry Craig

Redstate Update has some thoughts about the Larry Craig incident. It has all become so surreal, perverse, hypocritical and tragic that I thought it was time to laugh.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Politics: The Largest Minority - Disney ABC Tries to Kill Off Dennis Kucinich

The Largest Minority is a progressive news blog that also posts videos and other imagery. In the above video the editor, Manila Ryce AKA John Harrison, addresses a growing scandal about the ABC news coverage of the most recent Democratic debate. This outrage couldn't come a moment too soon for me. I have been disgusted with ABC/Disney and George Stephanopolis in particular lately. It began for me when they allowed a political hack to create a miniseries that blamed Clinton for 9/11. More recently, Stephanopolus was interviewing Ron Paul and he flat out told him to his face, on national TV, that he was not going to win the election. This is not journalism or even newscasting. This is smug hackery.

I have been thinking a lot about the media's role in shaping public opinion about candidates and I wonder why this is not more heavily regulated by the elections commission. Why can ABC decide which candidates get more time to speak in a debate when it is happening on the public airwaves? How can they get the rights to this public process and then bury two seperate polls on their website that says it was Kucinich people liked and not the other candidates? Why wouldn't Kucinich coming out on top even be mentioned?

I have been wondering why it is that Dennis Kucinich seems to be saying all the right things and offering all the right solutions, yet, everybody seems to perceive that his will not win. Why is that? Who is it creating that perception that one candidate is a winner or a looser so early out? Why is it that polls that show one front runner are trotted out daily and polls that show another are buried? Could it be that when a mega corporation has massive manufacturing going on as well as massive media holdings that it would try to marginalize the one candidate that promises to crack down on corporate labor practices and strengthen unions? What about NBC who is owned by GE? Are they not just good capitalists if they marginalize the news coverage of the political candidate that will cost them money? Fox news is full of political hacks but this is an even bigger problem. Why can these companies with such a conflict of interest put a stage around the whole campaign season and literally tell us who the best options are? How is it that we put up with that?

Video Activism: Wanderingmind42 - The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See

Wanderingmind42 is a YouTube director who describes himself as a high school science teacher in the process of burning out. This is citizen broadcasting at it's finest if you ask me. It is very simple and low tec. but it cuts through the global warming argument and gets straight to the logic of it, something the old media has yet to accomplish. As might be expected, this video drew the wrath of the global warming critics who proceeded to throw insults and obfuscate the argument into infinity in some of the 1700+ comments that were left about the video.

This led him to produce a number of response videos that are quite entertaining as well as informative so I am including them all below. He is clever in his use of simple, low budget gimmicks to get people's attention. I particularly like the funny hats in video #1 and the way, in video #3 he pokes fun of the short attention span of people on the web by using all his science teacher skills to create a variety of explosions and neat chemical reactions to put in every minute or so.

He calls this series of answers "Patching Holes."

Patching holes #1

Patching holes #2

Patching holes #3

Monday, August 27, 2007

Journalism: PBS NOW - Voter Caging

This is PBS which I consider part of the mainstream media but it is not as profit driven as the commercial media so there is some room for more controversial stories. The stories about voter fraud in the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections, for example, is something the commercial media has turned it's back on completely.

How do you steal an election? Fix the electronic voting machines you say? Send crappy voting machines and ballots to districts that vote for your opponent you say? Not this time.

First, you figure out which populations might be voting for the other guy. Say. . . for example. . . you're a Republican. Black people unions and poor people are a safe bet to be voting for the other guy. Next, you begin collecting addresses of these people who are newly registered to vote. Then you send out a "congratulatory" letter to everyone on the list including the students while they are on break the national guard members who are serving overseas, and people who may have moved since they registered. You mark these letters DO NOT FORWARD RETURN TO SENDER. If the letter is returned because the person didn't happen to be at that address, you put their names on a new list of "caged" voters.

You then break this list up into voting districts and give it to party operatives who use their party's right to challenge fraud and stand at the polls on election day challenging everyone on the list when they show up to vote. In the case of absentee ballots from those guardsman overseas or the students on break, they just challenge it and it goes straight into the junk pile without the voter even knowing their vote won't be counted. In the case of real live voters who show up, they need to jump through several hoops which don't straighten things out until the election is over. Bada Bing! you just kept as many as 80,000 people from voting in one state alone. People whose civil right to vote is challenged because they didn't answer a piece of junk mail.

The real brilliance, however, comes when you get caught doing this. When that time comes you defend yourself by saying that there is rampant voter fraud on the part of Democrats and that this mailing gimmick is designed to help preserve the integrity of the election!! You jump up and down and point to all these lists of registered voters who "don't exist" because they won't respond. You call them "phantom voters" that are part of a fraud conspiracy. George Orwell would be proud.

This brings us to the scandal where 7 US attorneys were fired by the justice department for suspected political reasons. They are claiming that they were asked to push for the prosecution of Democrats for election fraud. This way, the Republicans could point to those cases and say "See there's the fraud we are guarding against!" Unfortunately, these attornies were not able to actually find any Democratic election fraud. They were then pressured to go after cases with flimsy evidence to make a show of it even if the accused were later found innocent. They refused to do this and were then fired, some of them directly by one of Karl Roves assistants.

Oh, and by the way, the Republicans were already caught doing this in the 80's and they signed a legal agreement as a result promising that they would NEVER do it again. Oh and by the way, Greg Palast, an American investigative reporter who works for the BBC actually has emails addressed to Karl Rove with attachments labeled "caging lists." These emails were accidentally sent to the wrong address ( rather than which turned out to be owned by an activist.

Moral values. . . .

Welcome to America.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Inspiration: Lighthouse Films - The Shift Movie

I thought it might be good to pick a day that highlights videos or films that are uplifting in some way and Sunday seems like an appropriate choice. These will not necessarily be religious videos but we will not be excluding them either. It could also include philosophical messages, information about positive organizations or just good inspiring stories. These will, of course, also be things that, in the Media Crashers Tradition, are taking a less conventional path.

We'll start this series off with The Shift Movie:

Lighthouse Films is an independent documentary production studio based in Del Rey California who focus on inspiring human interest stories. The Shift Movie is the latest production that Lighthouse is taking on. In a world that is full of corruption, war, global warming and an unsustainable lifestyle, there is a lot of focus on how screwed up things are. I'll be the first to admit I am one of the ones who constantly rails about all the screwups. There is also, however, a worldwide movement of people and organizations who are rising up in record numbers to make a positive difference in the world. Some are suggesting that this may be a global shift in human experience, an evolution of sorts. Here's how Lighthouse pitches the film:

A massive worldwide phenomenon is in progress, offering seeds of great hope for the future.

Millions of individuals, organizations and corporations around the world are waking up and embracing a new outlook with an emphasis on their responsibility to contribute positively to our collective future.

We are in the middle of the biggest social transformation in human history, The SHIFT.

At this critical point, it is imperative we make the masses aware of this global movement quickly. This evolutionary phenomenon is broader and deeper than the most visible SHIFT, the environmental movement. It involves our very understanding of who we are as human beings, and our responsibility to the world and to life itself.

THE SHIFT movie raises awareness to the story of our roles in an evolutionary shift in our collective consciousness.

As it chronicles the faces, the stories and leaders assisting in this social transformation, the film reveals its emergence & meaning.
This film is apparently still a work in progress and they offers ways to contribute on the website if you want to get more involved. From this trailer, however, it looks like they already have a lot of significant people on board.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday Feature: Free-Will productions - The Oil Factor: Behind the War on Terror

Free-Will Productions is a husband and wife documentary team from Los Angeles who have teamed up with a video editor and a composer. They have been making films since 1995 and they reinvest all the money they make from sales to TV and home video back into new documentaries. In this manner they operate with complete independence. As they put it:

"Free-will productions is proud to say that our only executive producer is our own public."
Their work can be purchased directly from their website linked above. In The Oil Factor, they explore all the various relationships, motives and human costs surrounding oil and the complete dominance of energy interests in the US government. They suggest a direct tie between out interest in Saudi Arabia and the attacks against us by terrorists. They did a great job in their investigations and they have a lot of notable people that contribute their voices to the project.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Journalism: The Real News Network - Margolis says TV news is hiding the truth about Iraq civil war

The Real News Network has released a new video where their Senior Editor Paul Jay sits down with Eric Margolis, a conservative journalist, to discuss the mainstream news coverage of this weeks events in Iraq.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Politics: The Iron Triangle, Carlyle Group Exposed

It is amazing to me that a video like this needs to be made by Dutch TV before people in America can get this information. I have been outraged by the inside nature of this investment group for a long time now. How is it that a former American President can be employed by an investment group that buys businesses that are directly related to government actions or regulations such as. . . say. . . military contractors? How is it that he can do it while his son is the current President? Is there any bigger conflict of interest? How is it that Carlyle can employ a huge roster of former Washington insiders and then use their knowledge to find insider scoops and get any meeting they want in Washington?

If you are a former politician and you know where a new highway and it's exit ramps are going to go, can you really leave office and then be employed by a company that buys real estate to advise them on what land along the planned route of this highway is the best choice? If you are the secretary of defense can you really set up policies while in office at the Pentagon that will then benefit you when you leave that office and become an "adviser" for a firm that invests in military contractors?

Yep. . . apparently you can. . .

Welcome to America folks. On Wall Street this is called "insider trading" and it's illegal but in Washington this is called being a good capitalist and leveraging your public service experience into profits because, lets face it, serving the people doesn't pay very well when you can just pick their pockets later.

Being that this video is Dutch, it has subtitles and brief segments are in Dutch but the majority of it is in English. The minute or so of introductory narration segment is in Dutch however. Just wait it out and things will become understandable.

Here's what they are saying:

The Bush family, the Saudi Royal family, Osama Bin Laden's family and Donald Rumsfeld's inner circle - these are just some of the high profile figures who have played a direct role in the rise of one of the most powerful and influential and secretive firms in Washington.

The company is called The Carlyle Group. And in the wake of the events of September 11th and the invasion of Iraq, its power and influence have become significantly stronger.

The company operates within the so-called iron-triangle of industry, government and the military. Its list of former and current advisers and associates includes a vast array of some of the most powerful men in America and indeed around the world.

This program exposes the history of the Carlyle Group, from it's inception as a private equity firm to it's precent status as one of the largest defence contractors in the world.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Journalism: Dan Rather - The Trouble With Touch Screens

Dan Rather, formerly of CBS, now has an investigative news show on the new High Definition TV network HDnet.

This is a cable HD network but I think this particular segment still falls into media crashers territory because of the importance of the subject matter. The traditional media has had ample opportunity to look into the scandalous conditions of our computer based election system and the people who run it but they have offered nothing but appeasement to the status quo. This kind of reporting cuts right into the subject and it's about time. Today there are even bigger problems than the computers but at least some people are trying to shed more light on this subject.

I am particularly disturbed by the revelations in this piece from several former Sequoia Voting Systems employees that many of the 2000 Florida ballots may have, in fact, been deliberately printed on inferior paper and with odd specifications at times, to create errors and shake people's confidence in the punch card system. This uncertainty then opens up the market for the new high tech and much more expensive electronic voting machines. . . . that Sequoia also happens to make. Imagine that. You put private corporations in charge of voting equipment and they game the market so they can sell the government and the people on upgrading to more expensive product. The only problem is that this is our democracy they are gaming.

Please consider Signing The Petition that is going around to open an investigation.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Comedy: Andy Cobb - The Orifice

Andy Cobb is a web video producer who works in conjunction with AmericaBlog, a very large liberal blog. He has done several very good videos including a call for impeachment done in musical form. This is the most recent video he has posted on his YouTube account and I think it is an excellent exercise in low tech satire.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Documentary: Yankees Roll Call

OK, so this isn't something that you are used to seeing on this blog, however I think it lives up to the Media Crasher idea.

I am a huge baseball fan, not a Yankee fan but rather an Oakland A's fan. But my brother showed me this video the other day and I thought it was great. I visited Yankee stadium one time and that was 12 years ago. But I could not remember the famous "roll call." My brother actually said to me after watching this, "You know , it's too bad TV just shows the games and doesn't let you in on what it really feels like to be in the park itself." Well, he's right! You would never see this if it wasn't for some guy, in this case Michael Stewart, who takes us into the heart of the Yankee crowd and shares this moment that happens at the beginning of every game at Yankee Stadium. As a baseball fan I'm sure you are going to love this, if you're not a fan, well, forgive me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Comedy: Oilwellian - American Sphincters

Oilwellan is a YouTube producer who offers some very powerful slide shows, also known as montage videos, using a variety of historical and candid photography in a Ken Burns like style with relevant pop culture music to go along. I am a big fan of this technique because photos can often bring us even closer to the reality of life than video or film does for a variety of reasons: still images can include paintings and other kinds of art that takes us much further back in history, more people have still cameras so there is a much wider variety of imagery available, still photographs are much faster to grab and far less labor intensive and it is far easier for someone with low resources to access full resolution stills through the power of the internet than it is to access full resolution video. This makes still imagery a goldmine as a creative outlet. The drawback is that pretty much everyone with a computer is able to take a crack at slide show videos so there is a nauseating amount of them out there trying to be seen.

It does take talent to do a really good montage, however, because it draws on the same kind of visual and storytelling skill that filmmaking does. This video had my jaw permanently dropped as I marveled at the idiocy that Oilwellian has uncovered. The description is very simply:

The 29 percent

Monday, August 13, 2007

Video Activism: BadAss Marine

So I came across this marine rapping about his feelings. I thought I would post it here for two reasons. One, this guy has something important to say and two, who knew someone could actually rap about something other than sex, money, and drugs?

You can find the lyrics at but I thought I would include them as they are a bit difficult to hear.


and She called...
Blacks, Whites...wait
African Americans and Caucasians, Asians, excuse me.
Vietnamese, Philipenes, Koreans and Jamaicans or
Haitans, waitin' Hispanics y'all.

Please be paitent
Mexican, Puerto Ricans, Venezualean, Cuban, v Dominican, Panamanian Democrats
I beg your pardon, you partied with the late, great Reagan?
Republican, Independent, Christian, Catholic,
Methodist, Baptist, 7th Day Adventist, 5 Percenters,
Hindu, Sunii Muslim, Brothers and Sisters who never seen the New York city
skyline when the twin towers still existed.
But still She called.

From the bowels of Ground Zero she sent this 911 distress signal.
Because She was in desperate need of a hero,
and didn't have time to decipher what to call 'em,
so she called 'em all Her children.
The children of the stars and bars who needed to know nothing more than the fact that she called.
The fact that someone attempted to harm us
this daughter who covered us all with her loving arms.
And now these arms are sprawled across New York City streets.
A smoke filled lung, a silt covered faced,
and a solitary tear poured out of her cheek.
Her singed garments carpets Pennsylvania Avenue and the Pentagon was under her feet.
As she began to talk, she began to cough up small particles of debris
and said, "I am America, and I'm calling on the land of the free."
So they answered.

All personal differences set to the side
because right now there was no time to decide which state building the Confederate flag should fly over,
and which trimester the embryo is considered alive,
or on our monetary units, and which God we should confide.
You see, someone attempted to choke the voice
of the one who gave us the right for choice,
and now she was callin.
And somebody had to answer.
Who was going to answer?

So they did.
Stern faces and chisled chins.
Devoted women and disciplined men,
who rose from the ashes like a pheonix
and said "don't worry, we'll stand in your defense."
They tightened up their bootlaces
and said goodbye to loved ones, family and friends.
They tried to bombard them with the "hold on", "wait-a-minute's", and "what-if's".
And "Daddy, where you goin?".
And, "Mommy, why you leavin?".
And they merely kissed them on their foreheads and said "Don't worry, I have my reasons.
You see, to this country I pledged my allegience
to defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic.
So as long as I'm breathin, I'll run though hell-fire,
meet the enemy on the front lines,
look him directly in his face,
stare directly in his eyes and scream,

And if by chance death is my fate,
pin my medals upon my chest,
and throw Old Glory on my grave.
But, don't y'all cry for me.
You see, my Father's prepared a place.
I'll be a part of his Holy army standing a watch at the Pearly Gates.
Because freedom was never free.
POW's, and fallen soldiers
all paid the ultimate sacrafice
along side veterans who put themselves in harms way.
Risking their lives and limbs just to hold up democracy's weight,
but still standing on them broken appendages anytime the National Anthem was played.
You see, these were the brave warriors that gave me the right
to say that I'm Black. Or white.


African American or Caucasian,
I'm Asian, excuse me.
I'm Vietnamese, Philipene, Korean, or Jamaican.
I'm Haitan, Hispanic

Y'all, Please be paitent.
I'm Mexican, Puerto Rican, Venezualean, Cuban,
Dominican, Panamanian, Democrat
I beg your pardon, you see I partied with the late, great Reagan.
I'm Republican, Independent, Christian, Catholic,
Methodist, Baptist, 7th Day Adventist, 5 Percenters,
Hindu, Sunii Muslim,

Brothers and Sisters We're just Americans.
So with that I say
"Thank You" to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines,
for preserving my rights
to live and die for this life
and paying the ultimate price for me to be...FREE!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Video Activism: Save Kenneth Foster

Kenneth foster is on death row in Texas and all of his appeals have been exhausted. He is scheduled for execution at the end of this month. It is now a matter of very narrow legal options and a the possible notice of the governor. Kenneth is unique in that he will be someone who the state is executing even though they admit he didn't committed the crime he is being executed for. Kenneth was driving the car that a different man stepped out of and, without the knowledge of anyone else in the car, got into an altercation 80 feet away and ended up killing someone. Because Kenneth and these men were driving around committing crimes earlier, he is seen as a party to the murder that one of them spontaneously committed after the fact and without his knowledge. The law making this connection is called The Law of Parties. Under this law, if you are participating in a felony and a murder results, you are guilty of the murder as well. The problem here is that the murder was not the result of the felony, it was a seperate incident that occurred while they were all heading home. The prosecutor has basically claimed that the crimes were still in progress. The Jury was instructed that if they believed Kennith was doing something wrong by driving the men around, they must find him guilty of the murder itself under the law of parties and, therefore, qualify for death. The man who committed the murder was executed already but, adding insult to travesty, the state is not applying the same standard to the other two men that they applied to Kenneth. Those men will simply go to jail like most other felons.

If I had to define my political views I would say that I am either on the progressive side of conservative or on the conservative side of liberal. One of the things that has always put me on the more conservative side is my support of the death penalty when it comes to the worst of the worst offenders who have been proven, with direct indisputable evidence, to have committed the crime. The story of Kenneth Foster, however, gave me an epiphany. It may have single handedly changed my mind because it proves to me beyond any shade of a doubt that the prevailing social culture and the government structure in the USA today does not have the wisdom or integrity to handle the grave responsibility of taking someones life on it's own terms. Politics is the result of society and government is the result of politics. If a society is "sick" with destructive attitudes and ideologies, the government, the laws it makes and the process of enforcing those laws will carry the same sickness.

American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition:

sociopath [(soh-see-uh-path, soh-shee-uh-path)]

Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others.
I think that the combination of advertising, dirty politics and a culture of consumerism, celebrity worship and rabid self interest has led our society as a whole into the realm of a collective sociopath. Until we have a society, a political system and, therefore, a government that doesn't reward this sociopathic behavior we have no business letting our government set up a system that decides how to take someones life.

Texas has now become the poster child for me of why the death penalty is too much for politicians and prosecutors to handle wisely. Not only have they killed almost 4 times more than any other state, they have allowed themselves to codify that lust for tough punishment onto the heads of people who didn't even commit the crime. This is the worst kind of perversion of justice and responsibility I can imagine. If this is the result that our society is bringing to our law enforcement today, then this whole level of punishment should be done away with completely, in the name of humanity, until we have a more socially stable, wisdom driven, society. Kennith Foster deserves to be in jail as an accessory to armed robbery and maybe even manslaughter or accessory to second degree murder if you want to be really tough. He should NOT be on death row for failing to realize a murder might take place. Go to If you want to see all the details of this case. There is also a Save Kenneth blog. There is an article from the Galviston County Daily News there with a good summary of the case.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Journalism: The Real News Network: Jeff Cohen On TheREALnews

The Real News Network is a project begun by and organization by the name of Independent World Television. Their goal is to create a non profit, independent, cable news network that will first launch on the internet this fall and then move to TV a year or so after that. An introductory video which they call The Promise can be found on the front page of their website and as the featured video on their YouTube account. They are hiring professional journalists from all over the world to contribute and they will have no financial ties to corporations or government and no commercials. The reasoning is that information should not be a for profit venture because that corrupts it. I happen to agree. Just think about the ratings mongers who run the news shows today and want sexy, novelty and celebrity content for ratings. Think about how they define their success on those ratings rather than the quality of the content or the service they provide. Consider that corporations have been known to pull advertising for their products if a news story on that channel paints them in a bad light. When you consider how one parent corporation could represent hundreds of products to be advertised that represents a whole lot of influence.

Jeff Cohen (not to be confused with the child actor) is a former cable news host and producer and today he is a respected media critic. He is also the founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting a watchdog group that collects information on the news media for analysis. They check things like how many liberal viewpoints are featured on cable news shows vs. conservative viewpoints (as many as 5 to 1 I believe). They also noticed that PBS has lots of investor shows and business shows that feature owners and business leaders but not one show that represents the labor movement. He is appearing on The Real News Network here to talk about the corruption that exists in todays mainstream media and to explain how important a project like this is.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Saturday Feature - Hacking Democracy

Bev Harris at Black Box Voting teamed up with Simone Ardizzone, Russel Michaels and Robert Carillo Cohen to create what was first called Voteregate. Votergate was a huge web success and it was later picked up by HBO, renamed Hacking Democracy and turned into a full length Documentary . It is very revealing about this whole new age of voting on computers and trusting that they count the vote correctly even though people these days are still afraid to buy stuff on the internet because of how hackable computers are.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Comedy: - Know Jack Schitt seems to have been an email list from back in the late 90's that would send out jokes. The best I can tell now is that it is no longer functioning. If I go to the website I get an offer for a money making scheme on myspace. This video is halarious, though so I thought it deserved notice.

Commentary: Sam Seder - On Brave New Films

Brave New Films appears to be reaching out more for video contributors to their blog. Sam Seder, a talk show host on Air America Radio introduces the concept. Sam also speaks to the importaincs of web video. Web video's influence over elections is becoming very important. For the first time the people are moving the conversation and creating their own buzz and the media is having a downright hard time controlling the narrative. The CNN YouTube debate is the most recent example of web video's direct effect on modern politics. The internet may just save America from complete corporate takeover if we can keep their grubby hands off net neutrality.

Thanks goes out to C&L for pushing it into the blogosphere proper.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Video Activism: Billy Vegas - How To Create An Angry American

Billy Vegas is the featured name on who posts these videos via their YouTube page. I Can't find much out yet about who they are but it appears to me like another great example of grass roots video activism. This particular video uses this administrations own words to show how corrupt they are. It also shows how some people are reacting to this outrage.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Comedy: Best Prank Call Ever

This made me laugh so loud I just had to post it. I don't have much info on the creators other than it is posted by a YouTube Account named ascensions and it is credited to the Greensboro Daily Planet Blog.