Lying Media Bastards

February 27, 2006

Retro

As some of you may notice, we’ve made some small but significant pages to the site this morning. We’ve finally re-added the Media News, Quotes, and Snapshot sections in the sidebar that were a big part of the site a year or so ago. We’ve also added a sidebar section with the latest LMB radio show, and the return of the LMB button sale (although I’ll actually have to have some made, all out at the moment). I used to harbor an insane idea that I could make a little money selling the buttons, but now I figure I’ll just sell em for cost, and the knowledge that some people, somewhere, are wearing my buttons.

We’ll be making a few more tweaks here and there over the next couple of weeks until the site is absolutely perfect. And by “we”, I mean Steven Vasilogianis the young web guru who’s helped me out more than a few times out of the goodness of his heart (or, possibly some sinister evil motive I can’t quite figure). Feel free to contact him for all your web development needs. Steven’s specialty seems to be making websites that are visible and accessible to as many different people as possible, no matter their browser, disabilities, nation of origin, etc.

More later.

Posted by Jake on February 27, 2006 1:30 pm

February 25, 2006

Thin Skinned

In Flordia, if you have want to make an official complaint about a police officer, you go to the police station, ask for a complaint form, and fill it out.

However, one news team found that if you try that in south Florida, most police stations will deny that such forms exist, tell you that the only way to complain is to speak to a police seargent in person, and then possibly threaten to detain you or shoot you.

The article includes the transcripts of the news team’s undercover operation, in which they simply ask the officers for a complaint form. It’s astounding how intimidating and belligerent some of the cops are. I imagine this reporter’s going to get a lot of speeding and parking tickets in the months to come.

If the police abuse you, but you are afraid to file a complaint, the report above handily provides a link to PoliceAbuse.org, “The Police Complaint Center”. I am not familiar with their work, but it looks like the PCC will file complaints on your behalf if you fill out their form, and investigate your complaint themselves.

Posted by Jake on February 25, 2006 10:08 pm

Wile E. O’Reilly, Super Genius

Keith Olbermann is a reporter and former sportscaster who hosts the daily news & opinion show Countdown on MSNBC. Olbermann seems mildly liberal, has a decent sense of humor, and has frequently mocked Bill O’Reilly, often featuring the pundit in Countdown’s “Worst Person in the World” segment. This could be politics, or it could be professional rivalry, as both of their shows air at the same time on two different networks.

I think all of Olbermann’s mockery has gotten to O’Reilly, because he has launched a new crusade He has posted this bizarre petition on his website, essentially asking MSNBC to fire Olbermann. In it, the right-wing O’Reilly expresses “concern” for the news network, and points out how much better ratings the network had when the politically progressive Phil Donahue held Olbermann’s timeslot (although, of course, the petition does not mention Olbermann by name). O’Reilly then speaks gravely of the “injustice” of MSNBC’s firing of Donahue back in 2003, and urges the network to restore him to his former time slot.

(To Olbermann’s credit, the day after O’Reilly announced the petition on his show, Olbermann reported about it on his own show, and signed the petition himself live on the air.)

Jesus, how pathetic! “Please MSNBC, please fire the bad man who makes the jokes about me!”

I wonder if O’Reilly thinks he’s cunning here. “I can’t just ask for them to fire Olbermann… but what if I instead innocently asked MSNBC to hire a new host… and air his show at the same time as Olbermann’s? O’Reilly, you diabolical… Wait! If I ask them to put Phil Donahue in that slot, maybe I can enlist the help of Donahue-loving liberals, who in no way will see through my pitifully transparent ploy! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”

See, that’s why O’Reilly’s head is so freakishly big. It’s full of smarts.

Posted by Jake on February 25, 2006 1:30 pm

February 24, 2006

Tables Turned

Ohio lawmaker to propose ban on GOP adoption

Seriously, who’s more dangerous, gay parents or Republican parents?

The answer, of course, is gay Republican parents. With fangs.

Posted by Jake on February 24, 2006 11:45 am

February 23, 2006

LMB Radio 02-23-06

LMB Radio 02-23-06

Table o’ Contents:

- refusing to mock Dick Cheney
- Jake works on his rock pronounciation
- UK vs non-terrorists
- Syrian torture for everyone!
- remember when the US dropped both food packages and cluster bombs on Afghanistan at the same time? Yeah.
- Iraqi civil war starts with a bang (sorry)
- United Arab Emirates port scandal thing
- the sorry state of port security in general
- abortion ban in South Dakota
- Rod Coronado arrest

Musically, we’ve got Massive Attack, ARE Weapons, Mudhoney, Eric B & Rakim, Editors, System of a Down, Mr. Lif & El-P, Tool, Bright Eyes, Jet, Jamie Lidell, Immortal Technique, Queens of the Stone age, and more.

I got the commentary on one song incorrect. “Just” is a cover of a Radiohead song by Mark Ronson, with vocals by Alexander Greenwald of Phantom Planet and horns by the Dap Kings. I mistakenly claim in the podcast that a member of Radiohead participates in the cover. Not so. But the song is so fucking great I’ll direct you to a free download of it.

If you find any problems with this show concerning volume or distortion, it’s all DJ Lotus’ fault.

Posted by Jake on February 23, 2006 11:31 pm

February 20, 2006

Retracing Our Stupid Steps

In 2001, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Ruhal Ahmed from Birmingham, England, went to a wedding in Pakistan. During their travels, they also ended up in Afghanistan, and were caught in the chaos of the US invasion. Despite zero ties to Al Qaeda or the Taliban, they were detained by US forces, and sent to Guantanamo Bay for three years.

In 2005, director Michael Winterbottom made a film about these men, a mixture of documentary and recreation, called The Road to Guantánamo.

Last week, Winterbottom, the three former detainees, and the actors who portrayed them in the film all went to Berlin to screen the film at the Berlin Film Festival, where it won a “best director” award.

And upon returning to the UK, the three former detainees and their actor counterparts were all arrested by British police and interogated under the “Prevention of Terrorism Act”.

Unfortunately, we’ve only got one source for this story; Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and current anti-torture crusader, spoke with witnesses to the arrests and re-told their story on his website.

Not only are we capturing and interrogating innocent people in the effort to thwart terrorism, we are now also capturing and interrogating actors portraying those same innocent people. Maybe next month the UK can start rounding up people and questioning people who watched the movie. Then we could all feel safe again.

[Update]

Okay, the mainstream media in the UK is finally getting on this

[/Update]

[via Politics in the Zeros]

Posted by Jake on February 20, 2006 9:39 am

February 16, 2006

We Will Fight the Heathens

I’m currently reading Kurt Vonnegut’s latest, maybe final, book, “A Man Without a Country”. It’s not good, really, (plenty of good bits, of course) just assorted rants from a grumpy, brilliant old man. He seems to have passed that point as a writer where you talk about social reality and human nature, and just mutter that the whole world is crazy.

The thing is that these mutterings are true. Vonnegut is horrified by man’s inhumanity to man and our seeming inability to notice that we’re rapidly annihilating the planet we live on. He writes our epitaph, saying “The good Earth- we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.” And he cringes at war, but he is right to. War is insane! War is the exact opposite of life; we spend our lives trying to build friendships and families and homes and happiness. War is about tearing all those things to bits, murdering loved ones, vaporizing relationships, demolishing homes.

(A crazy guy on a bus once told me that “war is the opposite of music”. I think he might be right, too)

But somehow, we let ourselves get spun around so badly that this suicide seems reasonable. Death gets hair extensions and a boob job and we take it to the prom. We ought to know better. We do know better. We all know that war is one of the worst things imaginable. Maybe we ought to try to cut down a little then.

Which has got me thinking. It’s looking like the Iraq war, when it’s all said and done, might end up costing about $2 trillion. What if that kind of money was used to try to prevent war instead of wage it? (yes, I’m well aware that the US government had no interest in averting war) What if that money was spent to remind people how utterly horrific war was so that no one would want it? Wave after wave of blockbuster films about it, Will Smith grieving over the bomb-mangled Angelina Jolie, Tom Hanks killed in a hail of bullets, Jennifer Anniston and Rene Russo crying over the twisted frames of their maimed husbands and sons. Better living through pathos.

I’ll end with Vonnegut, quoting a then-pacifist Abraham Lincoln bashing the war president of the time (James K. Polk, during the Mexican-American war):

Trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory– that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood, that serpent’s eye that charms to destroy– he plunged into war.

Maybe we should set all politicians to poetry like that. Sure, most of their works would suck, but I’d rather live in a world of shitty poets than one filled with skilled warmongers. Sadly, I get both (but I’d settle for neither).

Posted by Jake on February 16, 2006 12:30 am

February 15, 2006

Instantly

Crazy, insta-fame world.

Last month, the folks doing the new Harry Potter movie had tryouts for a new character named Luna Lovegood. 15,000 young girls showed up to audition for the role. On February 2, the studio announced that the part had gone to Evanna Lunch. She is not a celebrity and has not acted before.

And someone has decided to create a fan page for the girl.

In fact, looking at internet records, it appears that someone bought the domain name and started designing the page on the exact day that it was announced that Lynch had gotten the part.

Y’know, when you create a fan page for someone, it’s usually because you like their work. You think they’re a great musician, or an amazing basketball player or whatever. But this girl hasn’t fucking done anything yet!! Are you a fan of the way the letters in her name stand next to each other? Do you greatly admire the way she was able to not blink during her press photo?

In conclusion, world = fucking crazy, thank you.

Posted by Jake on February 15, 2006 11:54 pm

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

… well, glasses. And not so much in San Francisco. Oakland. On a plane.

Two weeks ago, I was frantically trying to clear my schedule so I could attend NCOR 2006 (the National Conference on Organized Resistance) in Washington DC. My bosses from my political job were willing to pay for me to go, and the list of workshop/discussion topics looked amazing: globalization, water, pacificism, anarchy, hip hop, racism, gentrification, and much more.

Unfortunately, I had volunteered to sub for a co-worker that Sunday so that he could watch the Superbowl, and shockingly, couldn’t find anyone willing to take that shift from me. So no NCOR for Jake. Stupid professional sports.

So just days later, when I heard about another activist conference the following weekend, I jumped on it. The United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) Winter Conference 2006 in San Frnacisco. Been a while since I was a student, but my org was thinking of working with them this year, so I figured I’d go see what they were up to.

Overall, I enjoyed myself. Saw some friends, hung out in SF, met some activists, and got some info. It is certainly uplifting to see so many folks dedicated to fighting the exploitation of thousands of people that they’ll never meet. My college was apathetic as fuck.

It was also interesting seeing this very narrowly focused form of organizing. A large portion of USAS’ campaigns are about making sure that their schools’ merchandise (e.g. t-shirts and caps that say UCLA) are not made in sweatshop conditions. And their prime means to accomplish this is to pressure their administration to affiliate with a labor monitoring organization called the Workers’ Rights Consortium. The WRC then visits all the factories and gathers all the data to make sure that the clothing is made ethical working conditions. It’s kind of a trip; most activism is so open-ended, in tactics, goals and means, but the USAS thing seemed pretty tight.

I went to a workshop called “International Solidarity: What it Means on the Ground” on Friday afternoon. It seemed like an informative topic. There’s someone in another country who’s working conditions suck. You want to help. What the hell can you do? This seemed like it would give some concrete answers.

But I was surprised. The workshop brought in workers from ex-sweatshop factories in Dominican Republic, Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, and Kenya. Kuky from Domnican Republic spoke first (with a translator), from a factory called BJ&B. His story started off positively, about how he and his fellows had suffered under their bosses, but had fought back, and with help from USAS, they had managed to unionize their factory. Their lives turned around and things were good. Until.

Sadly, that’s how everyone’s story went. They worked in a sweatshop, fought back, unionized and won. And things were good, until the orders started to dry up. The big clothing companies which had formerly purchased garments from these factories now declared that the newly unionized plants were “too expensive”, and moved their business elsewhere. Kuky told us that when they unionized in 2003, there were 3000 workers at the factory. Now, with the drop in orders, jobs have been cut back to 600. Kuky asked us to use our power to pressure companies like Nike and Reebok to place orders with his factory again. I was kind of stunned.

Which led to the New USAS Campaign. Now, instead of pressuring universities to affiliate with the WRC, they will pressure universities into agreeing to only purchase merchandise from unionized factories, so that workers aren’t punished for forming a union.

This was really depressing. On the one hand, seeing these people five feet away from you telling you how much their lives improved with their union made you feel how necessary such work was. Here was a real live person telling you so. Yet at the same time, I’ve never been more convinced that utterly revolutionary change is needed. People can fight to organize for years, facing all sorts of opposition, retaliation and violence. Yet their win can be overrun in a heartbeat, as companies just look down the next rung on the race to the bottom.

At one point, the phrase “their victims of their own success” entered my mind. Then I beat it back, horrified and angry at myself. These people are not victims of success, they are victims of greedy corporate bastards, exactly as they were before. Frankly, we’re on a path where the logical end is that all manufacturing jobs are done as cheaply as possible, most likely by forced labor in China.

Posted by Jake on February 15, 2006 10:57 pm

February 13, 2006

Cold Dead Hands

I really didn’t have much to say about Dick Cheney shooting his friend in the face. I mean, you don’t even need to write jokes for that, they’re embedded in reality.

But The Daily Show, who get paid for this sorta thing, did make some jokes, if by “make some jokes” you mean beat the vice president like a piñata. Relentless and over the top and made me happy.

Posted by Jake on February 13, 2006 11:32 pm

LMB Radio 02-09-06

LMB Radio 02-09-06

- the National Homelessness radio marathon
- crazy conference-travelin’ Jake
- Colbert’s class warfare
- Coretta Scott King funeral
- spy scandal lies
- Mohammed cartoon free speech/racism bonanza

Musically, we’ve got the Cure, Covenant, Sun God Sons, Black Eyed Peas, Sage Francis, “Best of Bootie” mash-ups, the Donnas, Immortal Lee County Killers, Sonic Youth, Ladytron, Good Riddance, Beck, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Cobra Killer & Kapajkos, the Beastie Boys and more.

2 points:

1) I apologize for being slightly distracted during some of my commentary. I was preoccupied with my pending travels.
2) Due to technical problems, the show is actually a frankensteined version of multiple files. Honestly though, I think I managed to sew them together well enough that you can’t tell.

No LMB show this coming Thursday. Wah.

Posted by Jake on February 13, 2006 5:07 pm

February 10, 2006

Poorly Planned, but Fast

I am in San Francisco.

With little forethought or preparation, I jumped up to the United Students Against Sweatshops Winter Conference 2006. It’s been quite a while since I was a student, but my political nonprofit is thinking of working with the group this year, so it seemed reasonable for me to go up and see what they’re up to. So it’s been a whirlwind, made possible by the help of no fewer than five of Jake’s friends and relatives. I’ll tell y’all about it later.

Oh, and due to the travel, Thursday’s radio show won’t be ready for download till Monday or so. And due to technical problems, it’ll be a bit of a Frankenstein’ed together thing.

Posted by Jake on February 10, 2006 10:20 pm

Radio Free Outdoors

Next week is the 9th Annual Homelessness Marathon. It’s “a 14-hour radio broadcast featuring the voices and stories of homeless people from around the U.S.” Starts Wednesday, February 15, 7pm EST and continues through Thursday February 16, 9am EST. Looks like there will be many stations you can choose from to listen, but if you’re not near those, you can tune into our rebroadcast (minus a pre-emption by the return of Radica Radio).

Posted by Jake on February 10, 2006 10:06 pm

February 3, 2006

Cop Rock

I love this article:

Surveillance Prompts a Suit: Police v. Police

The demonstrators arrived angry, departed furious. The police had herded them into pens. Stopped them from handing out fliers. Threatened them with arrest for standing on public sidewalks. Made notes on which politicians they cheered and which ones they razzed.

Meanwhile, officers from a special unit videotaped their faces

Sounds like most protests. The difference is that this particular protest was organized and attended by police officers regarding their contract with the city.

Now the officers, through their union, are suing the city, charging that the police procedures at their demonstrations — many of them routinely used at war protests, antipoverty marches and mass bike rides — were so heavy-handed and intimidating that their First Amendment rights were violated.

Cops are seeing their tactics from the other side, and they don’t like it. One would think that the cops filing the suit have a good idea of these intimidation methods, as they are the same procedures that they use on other protesters most of the time.

Will this change anything? Probably not.

Posted by Jake on February 3, 2006 1:24 pm

February 2, 2006

LMB Radio 02-02-06

LMB Radio 02-02-06

Not so much Jake-jabbering this time:

- Project Censored Top Ten
- Pundit battle: Olbermann vs. O’Reilly
- dangerous t-shirts
- State of the Union high-/low-lights
- figurative literalism
- pirating Stern

Musically, we’ve got the Clash, KMFDM, Los Lobos, the George W. Bush Singers, M.I.A., PJ Harvey, Saber Tooth Tiger, Emanon, Morrissey, Soundgarden, Lauryn Hill, Against Me, Beck, VHS or Beta, the White Stripes, Marilyn Manson and more.

Posted by Jake on February 2, 2006 9:37 pm

February 1, 2006

Metaphoriffic

Okay, this article deserves the full dissection.

One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America’s dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn’t mean it literally.

“Didn’t mean that literally? That’s possibly the worst presidential excuse I’ve ever heard.

Let’s see what he said exactly:

Breakthroughs on [ethanol production] and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.

Funny, I thought “will” meant “is going to happen.”

So what does it mean?

What the president meant, they said in a conference call with reporters, was that alternative fuels could displace an amount of oil imports equivalent to most of what America is expected to import from the Middle East in 2025.

But America still would import oil from the Middle East, because that’s where the greatest oil supplies are…

“This was purely an example,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

So “will” means “let’s all go to the Land of Make-Believe”. Or:

Asked why the president used the words “the Middle East” when he didn’t really mean them, one administration official said Bush wanted to dramatize the issue in a way that “every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands.”

Right. So it’s metaphorical. Personally, I don’t make my metaphors so… specific. I say things like “as big as the ocean” instead of “by 75% over the next 20 years.”

Okay, journo-pals? I know you don’t like rocking the boat, but let’s just call this what it is, okay? “The president made impossible claims in his speech, so now his administration is pretending that he didn’t make these claims.” Or, if you want to use the word “lied” in there, go nuts.

Posted by Jake on February 1, 2006 7:28 pm

Talky Talky Talky

So, Bush read the words off a teleprompter last night in front of Congress, surely written by people not him. Overall, they were boring and vague, meaningless until you look at the fine print of his propositions. DJ Al and I did our “Mystery Science Theater”-style commentary and mockery of the speech in real time, which you can listen to here if you like. It was fun to do, and we had our share of comedic moments, but still, it required listening to Bush talk for a full hour, which isn’t pleasant.

Just a few comments:

1) Bush opened his speech by invoking Coretta Scott King, the civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King Jr., who had died that morning. I did not know much about Ms. King, but listening to NPR on the drive to the station yesterday, I learned that she was actively fighting against many of Bush’s key policies (gay rights, racial justice, AIDS, Iraq war). Which means that he actually made her life worse and her fight harder, and yet he acted like they were on the same side. Bastard.

2) Every year, Bush seems to throw out at least one crazy item into the SOTU. In 2003, he talked about a Moon base. In 2005, he was abruptly worried about the use of steroids in sports. So Al and I tried to figure out in advance what would be his crazy proposition for 2006. Al guessed “to end Mad Cow Disease in our time” (Bush made no mention of this, although he did go on about curing malaria). The winner of the crazy Bush plan: a ban on the creation of human-animal hybrids.

No, I’m not kidding. Bush wants to ban the creation of werewolves or fishmen or something.

3) It was kinda funny when Bush mentioned the failure of his Social Security reform privatization plan, and the Democrats gave a standing ovation. It seems that Democratic opposition is limited to various forms of clapping. (As Al and I were watching a postage stamp-sized video window on our computer, we did not pick up on this during the speech)

4) Democrat Tim Kaine gave the rebuttal afterwards. What is up with that dude’s eyebrow? If you saw it, you know what I’m talking about. It was huge, and flapping away like a bird of prey on his forehead.

And while all the news outlets have seized upon Bush’s “addicted to oil” phrase, his policies don’t match up. According to the LA Times, Bush’s plan to “cut US reliance on Middle East oil by 75% within 20 years” literally means a cut of total oil imports by only about 8% over the course of the next two decades (surprisingly, the US only imports 10% of its oil from the Middle East). And while his plan would cough up an additional $264 million for “clean energy research”, “clean energy” doesn’t necessarily mean “not oil.” While I think all of us would like to see this country replace it’s oil use for clean, renewable energy like solar or wind power, it would take massive financing and massive changes to our entire society. And that’s unlikely to happen while there’s still a drop of oil that a corporation can sell to consumers.

[update]

Rock. Bush Boys are already backing off of his claims about oil reduction. More details in the next post, because the denials are so extensive…

[/update]

Posted by Jake on February 1, 2006 2:17 pm

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