Lying Media Bastards

May 31, 2005

Oh Yeah!

Fun Fact:

Methyl anthranilate, which is used as a metal corrosion inhibitor in jet engine lubricants and also to make grape ­Kool-­Aid taste like grape

.

Brought to you by Morgan Spurlock, director of “Super Size Me”, and now apparently author of a book about the same fast food & health topics, called Don’t Eat This Book.

Posted by Jake on May 31, 2005 8:31 pm

Radio Free Fuckface

Sigh. After writing about Clear Channel’s stealthy anti-promotion promotion, we now find out what its “revolutionary” new Radio Free Ohio station is going to be:

An AM “progressive talk” station.

Fucking pathetic.

Any real radio pirates in Akron? If so, we should talk…

Also, in the name of media criticism, I should also point out several errors in the article linked to above:

- the RFO website is erroneously referred to as radiofreeohio.com. It was a .org
- the story was not really “revealed” by Stay Free Magazine (although they did publicize it far and wide), but by messageboard users at woxy.com. I love Stay Free, but gotta give credit where it’s due.

Posted by Jake on May 31, 2005 9:13 am

May 30, 2005

Nature’s All Weird & Shit

We have a red tide going on in San Diego right now.

Red tides are a sudden surge in a particular type of plankton in a particular stretch of coastline. It turns the water a reddish/brownish color. But these plankton are bioluminescent, so when waves agitate them at night, they light up. I’ve been down to the beach the past two nights, and see the whitewash of the breaking waves glow blueish-green, or even a couple times when a section of wave seem to flash electric blue.

If you live in southern California near the ocean, I’d say it’s worth a look.

Posted by Jake on May 30, 2005 10:15 pm

I Bent My Wookie

Sorry folks, I keep getting the urge to write a lengthy article about Star Wars, the prequel trilogy, and Episode III. I think the only way I’m going to get past this is to cut to the chase and get my core criticism up in print. Then it’ll all go away. Yes, I am a geek. Shut up.

I really don’t see how Lucas managed to fuck this up. This second trilogy was supposed to all about the fall of Anakin Skywalker, how a seemingly good guy became the Lord of Evil and Invisible Choking. That concept really intrigued me.

And it didn’t seem like it would be that difficult. I mean, Lucas was only going to have to hit like four main points to connect the dots up to the prior trilogy:

- Anakin becomes a Jedi
- Anakin has kids
- Anakin becomes Darth Vader
- all the Jedi get slaughtered

Lucas gave himself three movies to hit those notes, 6+ hours of screen time. Yet for some reason, he fills it up with crap, and hurriedly throws all those key points into the final film.

Granted, Lucas’ decision to include the transformation of The Republic into The Empire ate up a lot of reel. But still: the Trade Federation? Pod racing? Midichlorions? R2D2 and C-3PO? The weird democratically-elected geisha queen? Jar-Jar? Clones and Jango Fett and Senate votes and Count Dooku* (truly one of the most poorly named villains ever)?

No, I wanted to see the tale of the seduction and corruption of a Jedi. It could either have been about a good man who’s spark of internal darkness was fanned into a flame of cold evil, or about a good man manipulated and used so expertly that he never noticed that he was on the road to damnation.

But no. We got CG Yoda fights and Jar-Jar stepping in animal poop.

And for fuck’s sake, the reason for Anakin’s fall is so pathetic! He has a vision that his pregnant wife will die in childbirth, and the Emporer says that he knows some Force Magic that will protect her. Don’t they have C-sections in your logn ago, far away galaxy? Or what about an abortion? Just think, maybe if their obstetrics were a little more advanced, maybe there wouldn’t have been an empire or Darth Vader.

Anyhow.

I’m just glad that just as I had a moving, moralistic, feel-good fantasy epic growing up, that so do young people today. It’s called The Lord of the Rings.

There. I feel cleansed.

*At the very least, this trilogy could have been vastly improved by not killing off Darth Maul in the first film. Seriously, he was a mysterious, bad-ass creation. In the second two prequels, they introduce second-in-command baddies Count Dooku and General Greivous. Why have either? They could’ve kept Darth Maul.

Hell, that could’ve made for an intriguing and even somewhat plausible explanation for Anakin joining the Dark Side. Darth Maul goes around killing and destroying, Anakin gets crazed for revenge but can’t beat the red & black guy. He gets all filled with rage and hate, the Emporer-in-Disguise teaches Anakin some Dark Tricks to defeat Darth Maul, and presto! Maybe a non-sucky trilogy.

Posted by Jake on May 30, 2005 10:13 pm

May 29, 2005

True Lies II

So, with his poll numbers slipping and assaults on mulitple fronts by popular “special interest groups” (like teachers and nurses), California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (still weirds me out typing that) has begun a counteroffensive in the way that Arnold knows best: staged press events.

Last Thursday afternoon, Schwarzenegger arranged such a photo op to highlight his plans to “improve transportation.” He and a road crew filled in a 10′ x 15′ pothole in a city street with asphalt brought in with a dumptruck.

The problem is that as of Thursday morning, there was no pothole there at all.

Yes, in what is surely the most symbolic representation of the Schwarzenegger regime, the governor hired city workers to dig a pothole in the street so that he could help fix it in front of the news media. Our California tax dollars were used to ruin a city street, then to help fix the damage that had just been done. So that the governor could try to manipulate our emotions and feel that maybe he’s not such a bad guy.

I wish I could think of the proper cliched Schwarzenegger movie quote to use here. “It’s notta tumah”?

Also of interest in that article: it appears that Schwarzenegger is so fearful of protesters appearing at all of his public events, that this Potemkin Pothole event was kept a secret from everyone–including the media– until the last minute:

Media advisories for the morning San Jose event were not issued until two hours before it started, and — in an unusual move — reporters were not provided with a location, but told to assemble in a parking lot where directions were distributed.

Stealth publicity. That’s a new one.

Posted by Jake on May 29, 2005 3:32 pm

May 27, 2005

Low Self Esteem

Wow, last week a bunch of radio pirates in Akron, Ohio calling themselves “Radio Free Ohio” interrupted the broadcasts of Clear Channel-owned radio stations to complain about corporate radio.

… except that if you investigate the “pirates’” website you find out that it’s registered to Clear Channel.

Yeah, it’s a publicity stunt. No pirates, no revolt, just cynical “guerrilla” marketing. CC seems likely to be changing the formats of one of its Akron stations to a “rebel” or “indie” station– possibly like LA’s Clear Channel-owned “Indie” 103. CC maintains covert ownership of 103.1 FM, but puts all the station’s programming in the hands of Entravision Communications Corp. And it’s so edgy, with such “underground” DJs as Sex Pistol Steve Jones, Chili Pepper Dave Navarro, Henry Rollins and Rob Zombie. Finally, a station that takes on The Man and puts real live, internationally famous, white, male millionaires on the air!

(Lesson from 103: playing the Pixies gives you instant street cred)

Anyhow, the RFO website contained many a screed against other local radio stations, but since their outing as everyday corporate hacks, they’ve wiped the site pretty clean, with just a logo and an email addy (although they’ve been archived here). Apparently the “revolution” will be starting on May 31. Mark your calendars and make sure that your favorite Che t-shirt is clean.

[update]

Oh, for fuck’s sake!

The “revolution” is that a Clear Channel “sports talk” station will now become a “progressive talk” station.

[/update]

(Fun fact: Clear Channel owns 86 radio stations in Ohio)

Clear Channel disses Clear Channel to promote Clear Channel. I’d say that this takes us through the looking glass, but this kind of weirdness seems to happen about every 10 minutes these days.

[via Stay Free! Daily and the woxy.com boards]

Posted by Jake on May 27, 2005 9:53 pm

Elderly

On a rare visit over to the popular Daily Kos website, I learned that they celebrated their 3rd anniversary yesterday. Which made me wonder when my site’s 3rd anniversary was.

Apparently it was about a month and a half ago, but I just wasn’t paying attention. Yay me.

Posted by Jake on May 27, 2005 9:03 am

More Radio

I’ve uploaded this week’s LMB radio show in two halves, for easier downloading.

Part 1
Part 2

Music includes tunes from Probot, Panjabi MC, Ride, the Pogues, Potential Threat, System of a Down, KRS-One, Justin Sane, Damon Albarn, Luminescent Orchestrii, Against Me, Indigo Girls, Mos Def, Sleater-Kinney, Wilco, Queens of the Stone Age, X-ecutioners, and an experimental/mash-up/reggae band I’ve never heard of called Shitmat.

I talk about recent Clear Channel shenanigans, dumbass Congressmen, lying-ass army recruiters, product placement advertising, Iraq withdrawl, the Minutemen, and genetically-modified foods.

I also had a special guest co-host, DJ Local Cat That Wandered Into the Studio. She didn’t contribute much to the broadcast, except for being fuzzy and sleeping upside down on top of my notes.

Posted by Jake on May 27, 2005 12:15 am

May 19, 2005

Smite Thine Enemies

Air Force Seeks Bush’s Approval for Space Weapons Programs

“The focus of the process is not putting weapons in space,” said Maj. Karen Finn, an Air Force spokeswoman, who said that the White House, not the Air Force, makes national policy. “The focus is having free access in space.”…

The Air Force believes “we must establish and maintain space superiority,” Gen. Lance Lord, who leads the Air Force Space Command, told Congress recently. “Simply put, it’s the American way of fighting.” Air Force doctrine defines space superiority as “freedom to attack as well as freedom from attack” in space.

So… the United States needs to put weapons into space… to make sure that no one can stop us from putting weapons into space. Let me get out my Moebius Strip… yes, that logic works.

After assuring us that we’re not really out to put weapons into space, the article slowly informs us that we already kinda have one, “XSS-11, an experimental microsatellite with the technical ability to disrupt other nations’ military reconnaissance and communications satellites.”

Then it tells us about the other “free access to space” weapons that they’re thinking about:

Another Air Force space program, nicknamed Rods From God, aims to hurl cylinders of tungsten, titanium or uranium from the edge of space to destroy targets on the ground, striking at speeds of about 7,200 miles an hour with the force of a small nuclear weapon.

A third program would bounce laser beams off mirrors hung from space satellites or huge high-altitude blimps, redirecting the lethal rays down to targets around the world. A fourth seeks to turn radio waves into weapons whose powers could range “from tap on the shoulder to toast,” in the words of an Air Force plan.

Wow, all this global techno-domination sounds pricey. What’ll it cost?

Fugeddaboutit. $220 billion to $1 trillion.

Given that the most devastating attack on America in recent times was a couple dozen hijackers with knives, this is obviously the cleverest way to spend our defense money.

And how is the rest of the world going to respond when we announce that we’re putting a weapon into space that can destroy any target at any time, anywhere in the world? That’d be like holding a loaded gun to the world’s head, and I don’t know if they’d stand for it.

[crossposted at New Noise]

Posted by Jake on May 19, 2005 9:14 am

Flushes

“You have no subtlety, Potter. You do not understand fine distinctions. It is one of the shortcomings that makes you such a lamentable potion-maker.”
- Prof. Severus Snape

In the wake of the Newsweek/Quran/toilet controversy, that line from the latest Harry Potter book kept swirling through my head. This is the second time in recent memory that “one of our pieces of supporting evidence turns out to be unreliable” is popularly interpretted as “we made a bunch of shit up.” The differences between those two perceptions aren’t even that subtle, but many folks miss them just the same.

The first of these stories was the Bush/AWOL/”Rathergate” controversy. CBS News did a story about George W. Bush getting special treatment with regards to his service in the National Guard. It turned out that some of the documents had not been proven to be authentic. And the final “conclusion” was that CBS and Dan Rather are big liberal liars and the president’s military service is beyond question. The truth of that matter is that there’s still plenty of gaps in Bush’s service record that seem most easily explained by his “desertion” or going AWOL or whatever the proper technical term is.

Imagine that for some reason, you jumped into a swimming pool with all your clothes on. You get out, and I run up with a wet t-shirt in my hand and say “A-ha! This t-shirt is proof that you just jumped in the pool with your clothes on!” and you say, truthfully, “but that’s not my shirt.” Then, Sean Hannity jumps out of the bushes and says “obviously this man did not just jump in a swimming pool with all his clothes on, you liberal homo! Your error proves that he’s never been in a swimming pool. In fact, he’s never been wet in his whole life.” He says this as you stand there, water dripping off your nose.

We could expect this type of behavior from Sean Hannity because he’s six kinds of brain damaged. But it’s stupid. The fact that I can’t prove that something happened doesn’t mean the opposite, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. It means that we don’t know what happened.

As I understand it, that is the situation at present. A Newsweek source said that he had read a portion of a soon-to-be-released report about Guantanamo, in which it said that interrogators had flushed pages of the Quran down the toilet, and Newsweek printed that. Later, the source said that he was no longer sure in which document he had read those allegations. Apparently the Newsweek piece was then read publicly and the Quran desecration was denounced by a popular Pakistani figure, and word spread throughout the Muslim world. These culminated in angry protest, riots, and several deaths.

Of course, to American conservatives this is a wonderful example of the liberal media, recklessly tripping over itself to spread their anti-American agenda, with no concern for truth or even human lives. Some of them have taken up the chant of “Newsweek lied, people died”. Nice to see that American conservatives can actually start caring about the lives of the Afghan people. True, they didn’t seem to care about them during the civil war of the 80s, during the endless warlord battles in the early 90s, during the Taliban conquest of the late 90s, or the US invasion and occupation of the 2000s. But when they can score some rhetorical points, BAM, they’re all over that compassion thing.

The “Newsweek lied, people died” thing is also the height of irony, due to the tens of thousands of deaths caused by the White House’s years-long campaign of lies and manipulation regarding Iraq.

We could go back to my original point now and say “setting the Newsweek article completely aside, did US interrogators actually flush pages of the Quran down the toilet?” There is a fair amount of circumstantial evidence which suggests that it did. But probably a more important question is “does it matter?”

I suppose that in the interest of complete truth, we might want to find out. But we know that the US prisons housing alleged terrorists and “enemy combatants” are fucked up. We’ve seen the Abu Ghraib photos, read the reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, heard about the legal trickery to keep the prisoners locked up, innocent or not. Do we really need full knowledge of every horrid thing going on in there? I’ve seen enough to make my judgement.

Posted by Jake on May 19, 2005 8:18 am

May 15, 2005

I am Jack’s Bored Eardrums

Fearful that they are losing audience to satellite radio and iPods, some radio stations have decided that they have to try something new. The “new” they’re deciding on is a new format called “Jack”.

Jack stations are music stations. They don’t play narrow genres like classic rock, oldies, or rap. They play “hit songs” from many genres from the 1960s through the present (they say they play “all” genres, which is true, if we pretend that rap isn’t a genre). They also cut back on DJs, ads, contests, and other random crap. The proponents of this format zealously proclaim that new research shows that the audience likes music! And variety! And they are just responding to that.

When I saw the TV ad for a local Jack station, with the tagline “we play what we want”, I thought I’d give it a listen. Unfortunately, they apparently like playing crap. No music revolution here. The Clash, Billy Joel, and Madonna all on one station? Break out the No-Doze, we’re dancin’ till dawn!

This trend fascinates me. The name of the format seems to come from the video game You Don’t Know Jack, which was vaguely edgy back in 1995 (Media professionals have their fingers firmly on the pulse of people in decade-long comas). The “Jack” concept does not have to use that name, however. Philadelphia now has a Ben station, presumably based upon famous Philadelphian Benjamin Franklin. And Champaign-Urbana has The Chief (which Mediageek tells us refers to the racist “Indian” mascot of a local college).

I’ve always been baffled by radio change-overs. I remember several times as a kid when a local station would abruptly change name and format, with zero warning to the listeners. You always had to wonder who decided it would be a good idea to abandon the entire fanbase and audience in hopes of building up the new station to something even more popular. You can actually read the tearful complaints of fans of San Diego’s Star FM, which recently turned into a Jack.

(I have to step in and say that Star was a fucking abomination, the epitome of what I call “iceberg lettuce pop.” Terrible music so soft and bland that your boss wouldn’t mind you playing it quietly in your cubicle at work. The people I knew who liked Star seemed utterly without passion, curiousity or creative impulses. I dislike Jack, but Star made me want to dunk my head in lava)

Also, I am fascinated by the fact that stations are throwing in with this idea with no idea if it will work. They say “the audience wants more music and variety!” But as that last link shows, there is no single audience. Some people want music and variety. Some people want radio personality banter to become part of their daily routine. Some people want right-wing ranting, some people want news, some people want sports talk. Hell, some poor souls even want smooth jazz.

What I’m saying is that anyone who says that their station went to the Jack format because “that’s what the audience wants” is a jackass or a PR spokesperson.

But the absolute most shocking thing to me is that if you own a radio station and want to switch to the Jack format, you must “buy the license for the format from Bohn & Associates Media in Vancouver.”

Yes, for the “innovative” concept of “more genres, less DJs”, you’ve got to pay money to the “creators” of said innovative concept. Well, I guess you also get the Jack name and the Jack catchphrase “we play what we want”, which puts me in mind of a seven-year old taking his baseball home so no one else can play.

Just another reminder that corporate radio still sucks.

I’d recommend any of the stations and shows listed on the right-side of this blog under “Sonic Resistance”, if you want some radio that’s not the same old boring shite. You might even learn something.

Posted by Jake on May 15, 2005 4:41 pm

More LMB Radio

Latest LMB radio show is up… mostly. We haven’t solved our recording issues yet, so I only managed to record the first half hour of the show in one file, then the last fifty minutes in another. Musically, we’ve got some Tom Waits, Smashing Pumpkins, Dangermouse, Ghostface, Rasputina, System of a Down, Reverend Horton Heat, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and more. The second half also contains discussion of the Jacob Faust case, a young San Diego man who was shot to death by cops under mysterious circumstances. Unfortunately, the only known eyewitnesses to the shooting are the cops who did the shooting…

LMB 05/12/05
Part 1
Part 2

Posted by Jake on May 15, 2005 9:41 am

May 12, 2005

Coup Averted

Oh, what a fool I’ve been! The scary bill I wrote about below was H.R. 1268, but I should have instead been looking at bill H.R. 1268 ENR. The second version, the one that was passed, does not have the “no judicial review” section that appears in the prior version. The final version does allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive laws, but his decisions are subject to review in Federal court.

So, hooray for that.

Thanks to Robby Simpson for catching my error.

Posted by Jake on May 12, 2005 9:27 pm

May 11, 2005

The Coup

[update]

I have been informed that the panicky article below is based upon an earlier version of this legislation, and that the final version did not contain all the scary bits. For more info, go here.

[/update]

We’ve been overthrown.

All hail our new leader!


Michael Chertoff
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

You want an explanation. Okey dokey.

Yesterday, the Senate approved an emergency spending bill for the war on terrorism. It’s already been passed by the House, and is scheduled to be signed by the president tomorrow.

Buried within that spending bill was the text of the REAL ID act, a shady “security” plan that will institute a National Identity card, that takes one more axe swing at that thing we used to call “privacy”. And it doesn’t keep us much safer either. For a cool $120 million.

But that’s just a footnote here. Buried within that bill is a small bit of text which essentially gives the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security the power to nullify any law he wants, and prohibits the courts from declaring his actions illegal or unconstitutional. For the exact quote:

House Resolution 1268, Section 102.

WAIVER OF LAWS NECESSARY FOR IMPROVEMENT OF BARRIERS AT BORDERS.

Section 102( c ) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1103 note) is amended to read as follows:

`( c ) Waiver-

`(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary’s sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section.

`(2) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW- Notwithstanding any other provision of law (statutory or nonstatutory), no court, administrative agency, or other entity shall have jurisdiction–

`(A) to hear any cause or claim arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to paragraph (1); or

`(B) to order compensatory, declaratory, injunctive, equitable, or any other relief for damage alleged to arise from any such action or decision.’.

Officially, this allows the head of Homeland Security to waive any law that he thinks it’s necessary to waive to get new barriers built between the US and Mexico border. However, since this bill essentially prevents the courts from second-guessing him, I don’t see what’s there to stop him from waiving any old law.

In other words, Michael Chertoff is the Emporer of the United States.

I’m not saying that I expect him to seize the White House, put an olive branch wreath on his head and demand the return of the Sudetenland. But unless I’m reading that legislation incorrectly, if Bush signs this bill tomorrow as planned, the Homeland Security Czar becomes above the law.

Yes, the rich and the powerful are often above the law in this (and any) country. But that’s usually off the books, the corrupt abusing their power. This abuse here is written into the law itself. And that’s kind of disturbing.

[Thanks to Wil Wheaton and Ars Technica for the scoop]

[crossposted at New Noise]

Posted by Jake on May 11, 2005 4:05 pm

May 10, 2005

Run Over by the Money Train

Don’t remember when or how I found the article “False Alarm”, but you’ve gotta go read it.

I’ve often said that reading the book Toxic Sludge Is Good for You is absolutely mandatory for understanding American life and politics. It is a long and damning account of the massive power of the PR industry, and absolutely sickening depths they will go to to spread their lies.

“False Alarm” is like Toxic Sludge in miniature; it is a small study of PR sleaze used to convince Americans that frivolous lawsuits are ruining the country. We’ve all been taught to laugh at these jokes, to believe that Americans will sue anyone for anything, and that it’s getting worse. The truth is that the total number of tort lawsuits has actually decreased by 8% since 1975, that about 75% of the plaintiffs lose their case, and that the average settlement when a plaintiff wins is about $37,000.

But instead of this fairly clear understanding, 50 years’ worth of corporate propaganda have helped convince us that we’re a nation suing for millions because we cut ourselves shaving or we fell while burglarizing someone else’s home. It turns out that many of these stories we hear were made up, or hyped beyond recognition when a PR ass finds a particularly juicy one (climaxing in the spinning of the McDonald’s coffee scalding case, the misunderstanding of which is one of my pet peeves). Hell, it turns out that 60% of all these lawsuits are minor traffic accidents where one guy wants the other guy to pay for the damage to his car.

I don’t post this to inform you about corporate scheming or the realities of American law. This is about the power of the PR industry. It’s dangerous and it’s evil. Let’s be careful out there.

Posted by Jake on May 10, 2005 8:43 pm

May 8, 2005

No Talking in Class. Or Outside of Class. Or Anywhere

I’m pretty pissed off about this.

There is a”charter” high school in Florida called Gateway Charter. Gateway is run by Charter Schools USA, Inc., a for-profit corporation. Parents of some of the Gateway students were concerned about the school’s policies and personnel, and created an online messageboard to discuss and vent their frustrations.

Last week, Charter Schools USA sent threatening letters, demanding that the parents “immediately cease and desist your continuous published libel and defamatory accusations, comments and statements”.

So once it’s corporatized, it is illegal to criticize your kids’ school.

Well, not really. This is clearly, blatantly a bullshit intimidation technique to shut up folks who might be exposing real problems with this school.

For these claims to be libel, these parents would have to be knowingly publishing information that was false, with the explicit intention of hurting the company. Hell, you could argue pretty well that no one was “publishing” anything, that messageboard posts are a conversation, not a newspaper.

This is the primary difference between public institutions and private ones. A public institution, like public schools, are supposed to be accountable to those they serve. A public school is supposed to actually listen to parents’ concerns and try to respond as best as they can. Hell, members of local school boards are usually directly elected by the community.

Private/corporate institutions are accountable solely to their shareholders, whom no one elected. If you have a question about their inner workings, you will likely be told that it is a “trade secret”, if they bother responding to you at all. And apparently, instead of listening to and trying to fix problems, they’d prefer to sue people to make them stop mentioning that there are problems at all.

Of course, that’s all theory. In plenty of ways, most public institutions are just as publicly unaccountable as their corporate counterparts (e.g. The Government). Still, why you’d take something from public hands and put it into private hands, to eliminate even a modicum of public responsibility, is beyond me.

However, the happy side of this story is that Charter Schools USA fucked up. Instead of managing to quiet 60+ anxious parents, they are now getting nation-wide press exposing them for the ruthless bastards they are. It’s so nice to see PR backfire.

Posted by Jake on May 8, 2005 6:27 pm

May 6, 2005

Ahead of the Curve

I wrote this article on my other blog earlier this week, about a newly declassified British document showing that

- Bush had made the decision to invade Iraq around July 2002
- that Tony Blair knew this
- that US intelligence was being twisted to support the war decision
- that the invasion would probably be in violation of international law
- that Tony Blair knew the invasion would probably be in violation of international law.

Perhaps this is a tribute to my own cynicism, but I didn’t think this new document was really a big deal. Weren’t we pretty sure that all this was true already? There’s a guy dead on the floor, a man standing over him with something pointed at him, the object in his hand is smoking. And, now we finally find out for sure that the smoking object is a gun.

Others see this as much more important. Middle East scholar Juan Cole has penned a outraged analysis of the memo, pointing out the level of lies and duplicity that this document reveals. And muckraker Greg Palast announces that this document is now grounds for impeachment. And he’s right, of course. Hell, this is probably grounds for trying Bush and Blair as war criminals.

Let’s see how much ink this gets in the American “free press”.

[update]

Well, it’s getting a little play. Democrat John Conyers of the House is supposedly asking the Bush administration about this memo, which gives the Chicago Tribune a way to cover the story and not cover the story at the same time. And the Knight-Ridder newspaper piece is pretty good, focusing on the substance of the memo and what it means.

[/update]

Posted by Jake on May 6, 2005 10:16 am

Get Thee Behind Me, Ted Kennedy

Apparently a pastor at a small Baptist church in East Waynesville, North Carolina, told his flock that if they didn’t support George W. Bush that they should leave his church forever. Many liberals are aghast, seeing this in a further religious war against them. While there is a strident Conservative Christian movement taking crazy actions against liberals every day I don’t know who widespread it is. I think most American Christians just want to go to work, raise their kids, and watch blockbusters at the movies, not turn the nation into a theocracy.

Anyhow, the folks over at Daily Kos (which I was recently disappointed to learn is pronounced “kose”, not “kahs”, like I’d previously thought) have come up with a number of action items to combat this church’s anti-liberalism. The first is to contact the IRS. Which is a good point, really. Churches are exempt from paying taxes, unless they also involve themselves in politics. This pastor’s fiery attack may end up crippling his church. Good work, guy.

Posted by Jake on May 6, 2005 10:00 am

May 5, 2005

Sketchy Upload

I’ve uploaded today’s LMB radio show here. However listen at your own risk: the recording software I used seems a bit on the dodgy side, and about 10 minutes of the 2-hour show just vanished, giving the occasional disjoint. Still, lotsa good music and political commentary from yours truly.

Posted by Jake on May 5, 2005 10:19 pm

May 4, 2005

Internal Memo

Some meta-comments.

- the LMB radio show is now running weekly over at radioActive sanDiego (anarchists and their kuh-razy capitalization), Thursdays 1-3pm PST. I plan to record my first show tomorrow, and if the sound quality is decent, I’ll go ahead and upload the file so y’all can download and listen at your leisure.

- Strangely, the LMB site is mentioned in the sidebar of an article about movies and activism in the current edition of Filmmaker Magazine. The quote: “Many of the new blogs, like the succinctly named Lying Media Bastards, fight the system with blow-by-blow challenges to news reports.” While I don’t know if my title is “succint”, I guess that is kinda what I do.

- I have a second blog now, called New Noise, over at the website of (one of my) day job(s), Axis of Justice. It’s just started, and I’ll need a bit of time to find the right tone and content. It’s sorta like LMB, but aimed at a younger audience, and focuses more on activism and music. I guess this puts me in the rank of “paid blogger”, except that I don’t get paid any more now than before we started the blog… which maybe means I’m blogging for free… dammit.

- My website statistics software tells me that people are posting this graphic I made all over their livejournals and messageboards:

It’s the LMB logo crossed with the sci-fi paranoia fest “They Live”. Not entirely sure why folks are so enthused about it, it actually looks kinda crappy to me.

- My attempt to upgrade my blog software has ended in a stalemate. I didn’t mess up what’s already here, but the upgrade refuses to take. Anyone with any WordPress advice, please drop me a line.

Posted by Jake on May 4, 2005 8:17 am

May 1, 2005

Ask Your Doctor About SnakeOilex*

Coulda sworn I wrote something about this last week, but I guess I just talked about it on my radio show.

New study from the Journal of the American Medical Association about the effects of direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals.

First, the article mentions two important statistics (sources unknown):

- the drug industry currently spends $3 billion every year to market medicines directly to the public, individuals who likely have no scientific or medical knowledge.

- 7% of patients walking into doctors’ offices these days ask for a medicine that they saw an ad for.

Then we get down to the study itself. It’s far from perfect, as they performed the “experiment” very few times, but still rather unsettling.

The experiment had actresses visit local doctors and describe a series of depression-related symptoms to the doctor. On 55% of the visits where the actresses mentioned Paxil to the doctor as a potential treatment, they were given prescriptions for antidepressants– not always specifically for Paxil, but usually.

When the actresses made these visits and did not mention Paxil or any other drug, they only received prescriptions 10% of the time.

This is, of course, the whole point of marketing to the public. They may not know what’s wrong with them, and they may not know the best way to treat it, but if they ask their doctor about a certain drug, their request might influence his choice of treatment. Which puts more money in the drug company’s wallets.

The drug companies argue back that this is about informing the public, so that they have the knowledge, not just the doctors. And if a single advertisement for a brand-name medicine had anything to do with informing, I might be able to buy that excuse. But they don’t. They show fields of flowers or cartoons or romantic couples, describe some symptoms, tell you to “ask your doctor”, then read off a litany of side effects as the music swells. I’m wondering how different this is than the old medicine show scam artists of the Old West. Someone tries to persuade you to buy a medicine that may or may not work for an ailment you may or may not have. The difference now is that the medicine is more likely to have some effect (whether it be what you need or not), and you need a doctor’s blessing to get your hands on it. And from the look of things, many doctors are free with the blessing.


*SnakeOilex is not for everyone. It is not for those with liver problems, or extra toes. And it is not for women who are nursing, pregnant, who may get pregnant, or might want to become pregnant at some point in their lives. It is also not for men. It has not been shown to treat any of the health problems we say it will, but you’ve probably stopped reading the warning label by now.

The most common side effects are gas, stomach pain, explosive diarrhea, vision loss, spontaneous combustion, swimmer’s ear, boneus eruptus, geriatric profanity disorder, bucktoothism, death, skin irritation, and zombification.

Posted by Jake on May 1, 2005 10:51 pm

Never Underestimate the Power of Rich Delicious Nougat

I have been amused lately by the promotions for the final Star Wars prequel. The Star Wars machine is trying to convince everyone that this film is actually the heaviest and darkest of all six films. And at the same time, the movie is being used in promotional tie-ins for other products so ridiculous that it would give the series a bad name– if George Lucas’ hackery hadn’t already done that in advance.

We’re supposed to go into the theater, be drawn into the characters and stories, and really care about Anikan Skywalker’s descent into darkness, just after seeing commericals with cartoon Chester Cheetah in a Vader helmet urging us to buy new “Cheetos Twisted”, which will turn your tongue “Dark Vader Dark” or “Yoda Green”. Of course, this isn’t the only tie-in, there seem to be hundreds, shilling all manner of soft drinks and breakfast cereals and collector cups and anal vibrators and whatnot (well, probably not anal vibrators).

It’s got me longing for a blockbuster version of Hamlet. I’d love to see what sort of Happy Meal toys and fruit snacks they’d design to promote that one.

Posted by Jake on May 1, 2005 9:38 pm

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