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Wisconsin GOP: Winning hearts and minds, continued
03.15.2011
01:38 pm

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Class War
Current Events
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Mafia -style politics in Madison? This is the text of the email that went out yesterday to Wisconsin Republicans from their Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald. Stunning, isn’t it? It’s as if these people have no clue what is about to hit them.

From: Sen.Fitzgerald
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2011 3:52 PM
To: *Legislative Senate Republicans
Subject: Senate Democrat voting privileges in standing committees

Dear Members,

With the return of the Senate Democrats this weekend, questions have arisen regarding Democrat members’ participation in Senate standing committee public hearings and executive sessions.

Please note that all 14 Democrat senators are still in contempt of the Senate. Therefore, when taking roll call votes on amendments and bills during executive sessions, Senate Democrats’ votes will not be reflected in the Records of Committee Proceedings or the Senate Journal. They are free to attend hearings, listen to testimony, debate legislation, introduce amendments, and cast votes to signal their support/opposition, but those votes will not count, and will not be recorded.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact my office.

Thank you,

Scott Fitzgerald
Senate Majority Leader
13th Senate District

Below, Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald discusses his version of democracy(!!), but look what happened when the Wisconsin 14 actually did return. Fitzgerald thinks he can have it both ways. He’s wrong. What an appalling hypocritical scumbag this man is. I will look forward to his recall and hope it’s chock full of juicy Republican schadenfreude, because Republican schadenfreude is the best kind of schadenfreude there is. (And how fucking dumb—and politically tone-deaf—would you have to be to make a statement like this with THAT racket in the background? Fitzgerald only appears slightly less stupid than Sarah Palin did when she pardoned the turkey... and that’s nothin’ to be proud of, pal.)
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Morgan Spurlock sells out at SXSW
03.15.2011
02:41 am

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Movies
Politics
Pop Culture

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Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a riotously funny, dead serious look at product placement, advertising and marketing in entertainment and the world around us and how it literally fucks with our heads. The entire movie was funded by the companies whose products are blatantly featured throughout the film. The movie exists thanks to the cash that Spurlock managed to extract from the very system he is critiquing. Exploiting components of the $412 billion marketing industry, Spurlock has created the cinematic equivalent of a virus devouring its host. It’s an ingenious bit of guerrilla theater that makes its frightening points while being highly entertaining.

Spurlock describes the concept behind The Greatest Movie Ever Sold:

Brands are everywhere these days. It seems like I can‘t go to any event these days without someone ―sponsoring it. Sporting events, concerts, anything. So, why not a movie? Better yet, why not a movie that examines the whole phenomenon that is actually paid for by the companies themselves. That was the jumping off point.
The movie documents both the absurdity and pervasiveness of product placement in our daily lives and I saw my role on this film as both a filmmaker and an anthropologist.”

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold was funded by Hyatt, POM Wonderful, Sheetz, Jet Blue, Mini Cooper, Ban deodorant and half a dozen other brands. The product placement and commercials that occupy virtually every frame of the movie have made the $1.5 million documentary profitable before it even opens in theaters on April 22.

Here’s the Q&A with Morgan after the screening of The Greatest Movie Ever Sold at SXSW on March 13. This footage was shot on a Sony HD camcorder by Dangerous Minds’ Marc Campbell who was wearing Levi jeans and Converse sneakers while sucking on an Altoid mint.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Naomi Klein’s ‘The Shock Doctrine’: The Documentary
03.12.2011
05:37 pm

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Economy
Movies
Politics
Television

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The Shock Doctrine is a 79 minute documentary directed by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross, based on Naomi Kelin’s book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, and broadcast by the UK’s Channel 4 in September 2009. From The Times:

The Shock Doctrine examines the way that the free-market policies of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School were forced through in Chile, Russia, Britain and, most recently, Iraq by either exploiting or engineering disasters — coups, floods and wars. It’s an obvious fit for Winterbottom, a left-leaning director in the tradition of his one-time mentor Lindsay Anderson. He had long been a fan of Klein’s journalism and her bestselling first book, No Logo, though he admits that he hadn’t read The Shock Doctrine before Klein approached him about turning a shorter film she had made into something feature length.

Klein suggests a link between economic shock (radical spending cuts, mass unemployment) and the shock therapy practised in the 1950s by the psychiatrist Ewen Cameron, which led to the development of Guantánamo-style torture techniques. It impressed Winterbottom as “a simple and clever idea that makes you look at things in a different way”. He adds: “Naomi harnesses these events, especially the connections between what went on in Chile under Pinochet and what’s going on now in Iraq, which I hadn’t thought of before.

Winterbottom makes the point that when the current economic crisis hit, many people were not aware that to be pro-Friedman was to adopt a political position: his policies, implemented first by President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, were the water we all swam in. “I’m an optimist and I think this is a good time to be arguing this case because there’s a possibility we could be talking about a comeback for a Keynesian model,” he says. “Naomi feels differently. She thinks that the powerful people who have benefited from these changes over the years are going to hold on to them. Maybe she’s right. You only have to look at Goldman Sachs paying out record bonuses.”

Absolutely essential viewing, this is television at its best.
 

 
After the jump, The Shock Doctrine, Parts 2-8

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
President Obama Photobombed
03.11.2011
02:29 pm

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Amusing
Politics

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Update: It appears the woman is probably a sign language interpreter.
 
(via Wonkette)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Appropriation in the age of mediated struggle: Noam Galai’s ‘stolen scream’
03.11.2011
03:14 am

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Art
Media
Politics
Science/Tech

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New York-based Israeli photographer Noam Galai’s 2006 shots of himself screaming have become unexpectedly widespread emblems of angst and rage that could possibly reach the ubiquity in radical politics of Alberto Korda’s Guerrillero Heroico photo of Che Guevara.

Pro photography blog FStoppers got the exclusive on the fascinating story of Galai’s whim-turned-digital-phenomenon, which spans from his studio to about 40 countries and counting.

After much exploitation of his holler, Galai’s seen fit to cash in himself, which makes sense.
 

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
‘Solidarity Forever’: For the workers in Wisconsin
03.09.2011
11:22 pm

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History
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   When the union’s inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run,
   There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
   Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
   But the union makes us strong.

   Solidarity forever,
   Solidarity forever,
   Solidarity forever,
   For the union makes us strong.

   Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
   Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
   Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
   For the union makes us strong.

   It is we who plowed the prairies; built the cities where they trade;
   Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid;
   Now we stand outcast and starving midst the wonders we have made;
   But the union makes us strong.

   All the world that’s owned by idle drones is ours and ours alone.
   We have laid the wide foundations; built it skyward stone by stone.
   It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own.
   While the union makes us strong.

   They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
   But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.
   We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn
   That the union makes us strong.
  
   In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
   Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold.
   We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old
   For the union makes us strong.

Written by Ralph Chaplin in 1915.
 

 
Thanks to DM reader Tony.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Chosen One: Sarah Palin part of Bible prophecy?

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The mighty American Jesus blog brings us a new Sarah Palin viral video. Smug secular lefties will mock it. Conservatives will present it as an authentic example of a non-Caucasian’s enthusiasm for SP (and THAT it is!). This could be the start of a brand new bag for Mama Grizzly:

Today is Ash Wednesday- the beginning of the season of Lent.  It is a time when we reflect on our own humanity and recognize our need for the Chosen One.  To signify this, we use ashes and put the mark of the Chosen One on our foreheads.  That mark, of course, is a large capital “P” for Palin!  If your pastor/priest tries to draw a cross on you, just expose him as the socialist that he is and find a new church!

We try not to give in to stereotypes here, but if you thought that an African-American lady preacher would be the one to promote Sarah Palin as part of a Biblical prophecy- then kudos to you.

(The first part is a little slow, but things really get going around the 5 minute mark)

Boy do they! Fantastic!
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Hey Teabaggers: Rich Hollywood celebrities pay less in property taxes than you do!
03.08.2011
04:39 pm

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Class War
Economy
Politics
They hate us for our freedom

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There was a fascinating article in The Dever Post yesterday—it’s practically just a list—examining how certain extremely wealthy people pay very, very little in Colorado property taxes. Familiar names and faces like Tom Cruise, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Dick Ebersol of NBC and his wife actress Susan St. James and others pay far, far less in property taxes than most home-owning, God-fearing, rank and file tea-bagging Americans do. What’s a close-minded wingnut to make of this? It’s not what Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin want for America is it??? Or is it?

Hey, wait a minute, Brad Reed writes at Crooks & Liars, this could serve as an effective meme for making those amongst us who are totally impervious to “facts” and “reality” (I’m looking at you, teabaggers) understand how the rich often screw the rest of us over. It might even be a way of persuading the un-persuadable that they are actually acting against their own economic self-interests by their politically unsophisticated participation in far-right advocacy groups. From “How we can convince Tea Partiers to raise taxes on rich people”:

So The Denver Post has done us an extremely useful service today by highlighting just one of many ways that rich people in the United States get away with paying practically zero taxes. I think this could be useful because many of the rich people featured in the story happen to be Hollywood celebrities, who are often the bane of our conservative brethren on a great many issues. Let’s take a look:

Actors, captains of industry, an Ivy League astrologer, sports figures, politicians, energy giants, schoolteachers from Pasadena, Calif. All these are also considered farmers or ranchers for tax purposes in Colorado. They have secured low property taxes through agricultural designations on land they own even though they personally have little or nothing to do with producing food — the reason state legislators originally created a low property-tax rate for the agriculture sector.

In some cases, the properties where they have second, third or fourth homes were traditional working ranches before they were sold to the wealthy and became what, in real-estate lingo, are termed “gentleman ranches” or “recreational ranches.”

You can see where this is going, can’t you? And once you get into the gory details, things get really ugly:

Actor Tom Cruise owns five parcels of land on a scenic mesa northwest of Telluride that has become an enclave of high-end vacation homes. Sheep graze around the mansions for brief periods each year, according to the assessor’s office. Cruise pays just more than $400 in taxes for 248 acres for which he paid nearly $18 million between 1994 and 2002. He pays $11,380 in residential property taxes for the land where his $9.7 million home is located.

Yes, this is how poorly our tax systems across the country are designed: Tom Bleeping Cruise can get away with paying $400 a year in taxes for property that’s worth around $18 million, all because he occasionally allows sheep to walk through it.

Want another ugly detail? Check out this one:

David Tresemer, an astrologer and Harvard-educated psychologist, owns 191 acres and four structures that are listed as farm buildings or residences in the foothills west of Boulder where he operates the StarHouse. It is advertised as a spiritual and cultural space for celebrations of the seasons, the lunar cycles and rituals from ancient and indigenous cultures.

He pays $11.48 in taxes for 38 of the vacant acres and $3,699 for the remainder of the land with the buildings.

OK, even if Ma and Pa Tea Party are still Tom Cruise fans, there ain’t no way they’re happy that a Harvard-educated astrologer is paying just over $11 in taxes for 38 vacant acres of land. And remember, these are only two examples that demonstrate how the rich and their accountants have completely gamed the tax code to their advantage. A more thorough audit of other rich people in other states would no doubt unveil countless other horrors.

Hey, have you got time for another one? Sure you do:

Dick Ebersol and Susan Saint James own a 35-acre lot in the upscale West Meadows subdivision near Telluride. They purchased the land for $1.8 million in 1996 and pay $123 in property taxes on it annually because there is hay on it. They also own an $11 million home in the Mountain Village.

How many Fox News-watching slobs would feel good about themselves if they ever saw THAT story discussed on their favorite rightwing Republican propaganda network? It’ll never happen of course, but it’s worth daydreaming about…

Read more: In Colorado, some famous faces, names get ag-land tax breaks, too (The Denver Post)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘SHAME’: Angry Wisconsinites shut down GOP town hall meeting
03.08.2011
01:29 pm

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Class War
Current Events
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Wauwatosa, Wisconsin Town Hall Meeting, 3/7/11

“State reps Jim Sensenbrenner and Leah Vukmir, of the 5th Senate District, walked out on their unhappy constituents after about 30 minutes of threatening to do so because attendees wanted to discuss the political unrest in Wisconsin.”

As Wisconsin goes so will the nation…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Keep It Together! Mick Farren and The Deviants, LIVE, Hyde Park, 1969
03.07.2011
08:45 pm

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Heroes
History
Music
Politics

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Last week as I was reading Keep it together! Cosmic Boogie with The Deviants and The Pink Fairies Rich Deakin’s sprawling, exhaustively researched and extremely engaging biography of the ever shifting n’er do well personnel of the bands variously known as The Social Deviants, then just The Deviants, and eventually The Pink Fairies, I was annoyed to find that there was little video footage of the group—little? Try none! WTF?—on YouTube. What a difference a week makes because something amazing was posted there in the few days since I last looked.

I’ll let Mick Farren, one of the main characters in this rock and roll saga, take over. Quoting from Mick’s Doc 40 blog:

After waiting more than an unbelievable forty years to see the light of day or be seen by anyone, glorious grainy black and white footage of The Deviants in Hyde Park in September 1969 has finally been posted on YouTube by a crew called VideoHeads out of Amsterdam, led by the legendary Jack Henry Moore. It makes me very happy for a number of reasons, not least of which – after taking so much shit at the time as the allegedly “worst band in the world” – we actually kicked ass in front an estimated audience of 80 thousand in a manner that would have been wholly acceptable and even lauded some six or seven years later. Russell and Sandy are a rock solid foundation. Paul Rudolph’s guitar is mighty, and, as for me, when did you see jackknife shaman dancing the like which closes the show? Okay, so Rudolph and I engage, at one point, in some the atonal freeform bellowing that we called “mouth music”, but no one seems to have a problem with it. And we always attracted Hells Angels and crazy naked psychedelic women.

What you have up on YouTube right now is two sections of around nine minutes each, which – believe it or not – make two halves of one song – what the Pink Fairies would title “Uncle Harry’s Last Freakout”. I guess that was the real difference between the 1960s and 1970s. We could make a thrash last 17 minutes where the Clash or the Pistols would cut it off after three. And, by way of explanation for the opening harangue, the London Street Commune were staging a protest against homelessness by occupying the mansion at 144 Piccadilly at the other end of Park Lane. I’d been warned by the ranking cop at the park concert that my feet wouldn’t touch if I got into any kind of rant about the squatters who were about to be evicted in a massive police action. I just had to test the limits.

But don’t take my word for it. Here are some reminiscences from ukrockfestivals.com

“The most memorable bit for me was when The Deviants were playing and a semi-nude young lady got up on stage and began to dance. As she started to remove the rest of her clothes there was a huge cheer from the crowd. Then a Hells Angel also got on stage and took his leather jacket off to another great cheer but then he put the jacket over the young lady’s shoulders and guided her off the stage, this time to a chorus of boos from the disappointed audience. It was though, another wonderful afternoon in Hyde Park with great music and relaxed atmosphere.” – Steve Trusler

“I remember Al Stewart sitting down on a chair on stage and playing a mellow set of bedsitter folk songs. Quite a few people seemed to like him, but I found him rather wishy-washy (yawn). I remember that the Deviants were absolutely not wishy-washy ~ very aggressive and angry. I’ve heard them described as being the first real punk band. Works for me. But most of all I remember being entranced by the sublime musicality of the Soft Machine. A brilliant band. So totally outside. Imprinted on my memory is the sight of Robert Wyatt singing, and playing amazingly complex drum patterns, wearing just a pair of Y-fronts.” – Jeremy S.

Reading Keep it together!, I was listening daily to the music that Mick Farren has made over the years, primarily Ptooff! and the best of selection, People Call You Crazy: The Story of Mick Farren. Some of it’s pretty amazing stuff, but sadly unheard by many of the music fans who would appreciate it the most. The Deviants’ sound was quite obviously influenced by early Mothers of Invention, The Fugs and The MC5. It could be menacing and leering (“I’m Coming Home”), proto-punk protest (“Garbage”) and sometimes they just wanted to rock out with a Bo Diddley beat. Although I do like the Pink Fairies and also some of Twink’s solo material, I’m really mostly interested in the era when Farren was providing the radical, intellectual lyrics and fronting the group. The Deviants were the first British band who were true anarchists. “Street Fighting Man” was just fashionable pose, these guys lived and snorted their politics. Agitprop bands like The Clash, Crass and the Manic Street Preachers would most definitely tread in their ideological footsteps, whether conscious of it or not.

I also returned to Mick Farren’s autobiography, Give The Anarchist A Cigarette and spent some time looking over the issues of The International Times that are online. When I was in my teens, maybe 15 or 16, I found a whole stack of old issues of IT magazines (which Farren wrote for) in a used bookstore where I’d normally buy old National Lampoons, comics, Rolling Stone and Creem. How they got there, I will never know, but Mick Farren’s political rants and commie/anarchist screeds really resonated with me. Finding these underground papers demonstrated for me the existence of a world outside my hometown—an underground—that I had to become a part of myself. It was an amazing score for a kid like me, as you might imagine and I would read then over and over again. I’m sure that stack of mags had a lot to do with me picking up and leaving home when I was 17 and moving to London, where I lived in a succession of squats for a couple of years. Reading Keep It Together, I became much more aware of what a big influence Mick Farren had on me politically during my formative years and that influence, I think was major. Extremely important to me, thinking back on it. (Whenever I see that one of my own political rants makes it to Mick’s Doc 40 blog, I always get a kick out of it).

About that same time, I was a subscriber to The Trouser Press magazine, which Mick wrote a lot of each issue. Via that publication—which I would wait by the mailbox for each month, willing it to show up—he was probably the rock writer second only to the great Lester Bangs in turning me on to good music.

If ever there was a figure of 20th century counterculture who should be lionized and treated as a respected and revered elder statesman whilst he is still with us, it is the one and only Mister Mick Farren. Farren left sunny Los Angles to return to the UK late last year. People of Great Britain, a legend drinks amongst you! Where the hell is Mick Farren’s Guardian column already? Come on let’s pick up the pace.

“This is British amphetamine psychosis music and if you don’t like it you can f*ck off and listen to your Iron Butterfly albums”—Mick Farren

As intense as the MC5 and The Stooges and as irreverent as The Fugs, here are The Deviants, LIVE:
 

 
More of the Deviants LIVE after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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