Monday, October 10, 2005

Al Gore Drops the Hammer

Ivy Queen, Most Wanted Reggaeton exclusive

Divino y Hector El Bambino, Noche de Travesuras

Voltio, Maleante De Carton

Zion y Hector El Bambino, Miradanos

OG Black y Master Joe, Banshee Rabao

Pound for Pound brings the reggaeton heat again. In case you thought I was slipping, check out these tracks from the recent DJ 007 and DJ Outlaw mixtape, Most Wanted Reggaeton. Pretty standard stuff, hot tracks from a few months ago, but that don't mean it's bad. Make sure to peep the Voltio track, as it's my favorite. A crazy beat, with what might be a tuba providing an almost screwed reggaeton feel with its deeper, slower sound in the first half of the song. It sounds real good with the typically fast-paced rap over top, and builds steam for 2+ minutes. Don't know if there is a name to the Ivy Queen track, as it's just listed as an exclusive. I'm really feeling the stutter-step drums that come and go, as reggaeton has mastered that slightly off-kilter In fact, after taking a break from this shit, it all sounds real good. I figured that I would give you some of the newer, less-known artists, as the mixtape has lots of Daddy Yankee and Don Omar, as per usual.

Dedicated to the Lower East Side and North Philly, those wonderful places where you can hear this banging from car stereos at optimal (i.e. loudest) level.

-Okay, I'm sure that no one ever expected to read the heading to this post in print, especially after the disastrous 2000 Election when he ran a terrible campaign and cowardly acceded the presidency to our current head abomination. You know Al Gore, he's the guy who did the robot all the time; unfortunately he was sober and not at a wedding. But, lo and behold, the man has become an impressive public figure in the intervening years. He seems to have shed the influence of all the advisors and Democratic operatives, and has been speaking from his heart and wading into controversial territory.

Last week, he gave a speech on the decline of the media and reasoned public discourse, and the threats to American democracy. Go here and read the entire text of the speech, as it's worth the time. Gore hits on some of my biggest worries, from the decline of newspapers to the growing amount of TV Americans watch daily and the limiting and vilification of dissent. I mean, consider the last few years. We went to war based on lies, yet few journalists were asking any tough questions of the war architects. Hell, there was barely any debate amongst those who made the decision. Under the Bush administration, the federal government has paid journalists to defend certain policies, an act of propaganda unheard of in this country. Four years after the attacks on September 11, between a third and half of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein was involved. Frightening.

Gore stresses the value of "the marketplace of ideas," where citizens actively participate in the government and society. So, read the speech, as it will probably hit a nerve with you and give voice to your own thoughts. It's a wonderful speech, looking to the past to expose the bankruptcy of the present and disaster of the future.

-Karl Rove has offered to testify again in front of the grand jury on the leaking of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame's name and identity to the media. This story is a few years old now, but it's come to a boil over the last week. Rumors are flying, including one that has Karl Rove as a target of the investigation. This means that he is a focus, and would likely be indicted. I am trying to calm down, as all of this seems too good to be true, and I recommend that you do the same. Nothing has happened yet, and so it's best not to get ahead of the news. Check this post over at Daily Kos and this one at firedoglake, recapping the developments this weekend, in the wake of NY Times reporter Judith Miller's release from prison and discovery of more notes related to the case.

Making this a fitting follow-up to the Gore speech are the underlying stories here. First, the use of reporters to get out the administration's attack on Joseph Wilson, Plame's husband and critic of the Iraq war. The existence of conservative hacks pretending to be journalists (like Robert Novak, the only person to divulge Plame's name in print), parroting the administration's talking points. The central role of Judith Miller, the writer who wrote untrue story after untrue story on the existence of WMDs in Iraq. The lack of any serious journalism in the lead-up to the war. In other words, this case is a lot bigger than just the outing of a covert CIA operative.

Interested in catching up on this? Want to stay up on the gossip and up-to-the-minute news? Here are a few blogs that are good one-stop shopping, providing both background, news and thinking-aloud. Murray Waas has been on this story from the beginning, breaking quite a few stories. His blog, whatever already!, is an invaluable resource, a must-read for anyone interested in this story. The folks behind firedoglake have been all over this topic, coining the term "Traitorgate" even. Their links, rumors and free-thinking have made it an indispensable site. Think Progress has put together a helpful rundown of the cast involved in the Valerie Plame leak. Arianna Huffington has single-handedly destroyed the notion of Judith Miller as First Amendment warrior.

-What better soundtrack to get through these awful times than a new DJ Ayres mix? Go here and download his To Sweden With Love, another great one from Ayres. It's a lot more varied than his focused genre jawns, covering all the good stuff from Dirty South shit to reggae to soul to rock. I finally copped a few of his official mixes, and really cannot shout out this guy more. Consistent, and consistently focused.

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