Lying Media Bastards

March 31, 2006

Over My Head

A few folks have noticed that I haven’t written anything about the anti-immigrant bill or the massive protests or the continuing student walk-outs. That’s not exactly true; I’ve started about four different articles on the subject, that immediately start turning into long dissertations on race, class, history, personal history, law, nationalism and globalization. At which point, I get overwhelmed and stop. So maybe I can just hit a few highlights (and lowlights) here.

First up, for any students in southern California walking out of class in protest, here are some phone numbers for free legal support. You might want to write them on your arm in case you get arrested:

San Diego - 619-917-7971

LA -
(english) 310-712-6373
(spanish) 310-712-7066

Now, some bullet points.

- HR 4437 is ridiculous, and I don’t think it is going to pass.

- This law is personal. Why are latino students protestings by the thousand? Because for many, the law says “we’re going to take your parents away.” Why doesn’t anyone understand that?

- Sadly, in public discourse, the words “immigrant”, “illegal immigrant”, “illegal alien”, “Mexican”, “Hispanic”, and “latino” are used almost interchangably, as though they all meant the same thing. So when Congress proposes a bill to make it a felony to be an “illegal immigrant”, and to deport them all, how do you think people respond to that?

- There is no moral component to illegal immigration. I keep hearing people whine about how illegal immigrants are “breaking the law”, or “not following the rules.” Something that helped put things in perspective for me were when I saw a white liberal Democrat, speaking on a totally different issue, say “I’d kill to protect my family.” I was taken aback, but realized it was true. Wouldn’t most of us kill to protect the ones we love, if we had to? What if instead, to make sure they had a decent life, we had to cross an imaginary line on a map? If we’d kill for our families, surely we’d break immigration laws for them.

- The number I keep hearing is that there are 12 million illegal immigrants in the US (wonder how accurate that number is). How did anyone think this was a practical plan? Were they gonna hire a million new police officers? And how was that going to affect this country, uprooting 12 million people (and their children) and sending them away? The national population right now is around 290 million. Losing 12 million would be like ripping off some fingers.

- A lot of white people seem upset that people are waving Mexican flags at these protests. This is mystifying to me. I think these folks think that the protesters should be more submissive, with American flags, like “we just want to be part of you, America”. But I think the Mexican flags are saying, rightly so, “we’re tired of your racist shit, America. You try to make us ashamed, but we’re not, we’re proud of who we are.”

- I just realized that HR 4437 is just like Proposition 24, the fictional ballot initiative cooked up by crooked mayor Joe Quimby on The Simpsons, to maintain his popularity when voters were angry with him. “Ducking this issue calls for real leadership”.

Bottom Line: This is scapegoating. American citizens afraid for their jobs and poor foreigners so desperate for work that they illegally enter America are both victims. Corporate America helped engineer all this, continually taking jobs from one group to give them to another group that’s even more desperate. Globalization means that working class Americans compete with poor Mexican immigrants compete with starving Bangladeshis. And all the “down with illegal immigrants” talk plays them off against each other, actually getting each group to attack people even less fortunate than themselves.

Well, that aspect is for the non-racist Americans who are afraid of losing their jobs (and there are some. I think). Just about every other part of the debate is good ol’ racism.

Posted by Jake on March 31, 2006 9:41 am

March 30, 2006

Punctuality

Hey, lookit everybody, Jake finally posted a new article in the Media News section! To the right, and down, in the gray box. Only took him four months. Lazy bastard.

Posted by Jake on March 30, 2006 10:33 pm

Another No Show

No LMB Radio show today. I’m sick. Gonna stay at home and feel sorry for myself.

Posted by Jake on March 30, 2006 9:03 am

Brownie Points

On Tuesday, former FEMA head Michael Brown appeared in his first post-FEMA interview on The Colbert Report, the vicious parody of right-wing pundit shows. I was surprised that few of the lefty bloggers were mentioning it. I browsed around the net, looking for summaries or opinions, to see if the interview was worth tracking down and watching. A few comments claimed that Colbert “asked the hard questions”. Frankly, I intended this post to be a “did anyone catch that interview?” post, to see if I should bother. But I found it online easily, so decided to kill the 7 minutes.

Meh.

Long story short, Brown claims that he worked his hardest to rescue Katrina’s victims, that they were doing a good job that the media happened to miss, that Michael Chertoff and the Department of Homeland Security were to blame, and that Brown himself had been trying to reform FEMA from the inside for 2 years.

Y’see, he’s not an incompetent fuck, he’s a hero!

Posted by Jake on March 30, 2006 9:03 am

March 29, 2006

Mr. Scumbag Goes to Jail

Jack Abramoff gets almost 6 years in jail for fraud (they got themselves a loan of $60 million by forging documents that made it look like they’d spent $23 million on partial purchase of a casino cruise company). It seems that he was up to all kinds of other shady stuff, but this was the easiest indictment to nail him with.

(Amusingly, some CNN headlines are referring to him as “disgraced lobbyist”, as though bribing legislators the legal way was some sort of noble profession)

In my opinion, bribery in Congress is pretty much the norm, and at such low rates! But Abramoff was extra scummy. I only bring it up because I have the facts of one of Ambramaoof’s more appalling cases at my fingertips here, and I may as well share.

The Louisiana Coushatta tribe had a casino right near the Texas border, and they wanted to drive a new competitor, a casino called Speaking Rock run by the struggling Tigua tribe in Texas, out of the game. The Coushatta turned to lobbyist Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, who in turn put them in touch with Abramoff. Abramoff then helped engineer a lawsuit by the Texas Attorney General to shut down Speaking Rock. During this time, Reed was duping his religious contacts in Texas to get behind the lawsuit, along moral grounds– for his casino clients in Lousiana. The lawsuit won, and Speaking Rock shut down in 2002.

Abramoff then contacted the Tigua and offered to lobby on their behalf for free, in attempt to get their casino back– but they’d have to hire this PR guy he knew, and his firm would cost $4.2 million. The Tigua agreed and paid Michael Scanlon the money; Scanlon then cut Abramoff a check for $2.1 million, a 50-50 split. Ambramoff then convinced the Tigua to donate $32,000 to Rep. Bob Ney’s campaign, and another $100,000 to fund a golfing trip for Ney to Scotland. Ney brought Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff with him. And all this time, Ambramoff & co. knew that the Tigua had no chance of getting their casino back (so it wasn’t really a bribe, just a con job).

And remember, this is just one of Abramoff’s schemes. I imagine he had others, involvign pushing pregnant women down the stairs, and stealing the wallets of people in comas.

[info stolen/summarized from Al Franken’s “The Truth (with Jokes)”]

Posted by Jake on March 29, 2006 5:04 pm

March 27, 2006

Furious Eye

I’ve been meaning to post this for quite some time.

Ümlaut is a Finnish speed metal band that focuses on militant politics, anger and motorcycles. Their single album, “Total Disfuckingcography”, is really more of a thick zine with a baggie attached containing a CD of 38 songs (most of which are under 40 seconds long). The zine is like all punkish zines, gritty, mismatched collage, xerox glory, with images of war, cops and death, and occasional cartoonishly over the top slogan (e.g. “Arms are for hugging and killing bigots”). The word “fuck” is also used a lot.

But in the middle of the fury and overload, there is a small essay that blew me away:

A note on the illustrations–

You’ve probably seen all these photographs of suffering and destruction reproduced a million times before. Pretty boring, aren’t they? What was once a brave woman facing execution or a child starving to death is now just a “shocking” image designed to sell punk records, no matter if it desensitizes you to the very atrocities it purports to decry. These pictures are of things that really happened, and are still happening– they should send you out into the streets, ready to fight and even die to make sure that they never happen again. But they seem normal to you, nothing out of the ordinary, situation under control and no reason to get excited… and if you were sensitive and idealistic enough to take to the streets, who would you find there to rally? Everyone is inside, watching the same images of carnage and misery on the news, on TV, in the movies. Maximum entertainment.

The future, if there is to be one, lies in rediscovering beauty. Only that can make us outraged by such ugliness.

In the midst of the assaults and ink splotches and gas masked portraits, these metal warriors take time out from screaming to call on us all to remember what beauty is, and to fuse that memory to our eyes and hearts.

That gives me hope.

Posted by Jake on March 27, 2006 11:02 pm

March 26, 2006

W is for WVigilante

So when Bush signed the bill on Friday which renewed the Patriot Act, he included a cute little note saying that the president is above the law.

Y’see, there are two main theories of how the US presidency works. The first theory is that the president is the head of the executive branch, one of three governmental branches that keep each other from getting too powerful (or, as a cynical part of my brain has decided, “the theory that the government works best when its branches are so busy fighting each other for power that they don’t have time to come after us”).

The other theory, favored by the Bush administration, is that we are all his bitches.

Long story short, Bush feels that the Constitution endows the president with the responsibility to protect the American people, and that this Constitutional duty supercedes mere laws. In this particular instance, the renewed version of the Patriot Act says that the White House has to regularly update Congress about how law enforcement is using their new Patriot Powers. And Bush’s “signing statement” essentially says “yeah, I’ll do that, unless I think that doing so threatens America.” Congress passed a law telling the president what to do, and the president signed it, and now the president says that he’s free to violate it. And being above the law, as mentioned in this article’s title, makes him a vigilante. Or an emperor, take your pick.

And it does get slightly worse. It’s one thing for Bush to claim his magical immunity, but apparently the Justice Department, headed by Bush pal Alberto Gonzalez, agrees.

Back in February, the House Judiciary Committee sent a bunch of questions to the Justice Department relating to the legality of Bush’s domestic spying program. One of the answers included this doozy:

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any statutes inconsistent with the Constitution must yield. The basic principle of our system of government means that no President, merely by assenting to a piece of legislation, can diminish the scope of the President’s constitutional power. . . .

Just as one President may not, through signing legislation, eliminate the Executive Branch’s inherent constitutional powers, Congress may not renounce inherent presidential authority. The Constitution grants the President the inherent power to protect the nation from foreign attack, and Congress may not impede the President’s ability to perform his constitutional duty.

Translation: “no law can limit the president’s power, if he is protecting the nation from foreign attack (or pretending to protect the nation from foreign attack)”.

So there you go, V is for W, or King George the II.

Posted by Jake on March 26, 2006 9:17 pm

March 24, 2006

LMB Radio 03-23-06

LMB Radio 03-23-06

- Bill O’Reilly flirts with human values
- Bill O’Reilly reverts to asshole subhuman status
- demonic power
- Christian fundamentalists: Nature’s apocalyptic jesters
- pro-choice Sioux vs anti-abortion law
- Barbara Bush steals your tax dollars
- “Break in the Road” Katrina benefit album
- protests in Belarus
- Iraq war: pre, present, future doom

Musically, we’ve got Gnarls Barkley (the new Dangermouse & Cee-lo project), Anti-Flag, Mystery Jets, the White Stripes, Cantankerous, Parts and Labor, Mos Def, the Pipettes, Rasputina, Boomerang Politick, the Replacements, the Death Set, Lady Sovereign, Gogol Bordello, Trail of Dead, and more.

Posted by Jake on March 24, 2006 10:38 pm

March 22, 2006

These Pipes Are Clean

Doh! I guess we made some sort of back-end changes to the blog when we upgraded, because dozens of comments that y’all made were waiting for approval by me, and therefore weren’t on the site (including one by the webmaster of a site I’d given a bit of a ribbing). Sorry about that. I went ahead and made the changes, and hopefully comments will get up in a timely manner from now on.

Several of the comments were pointing out an statistical error I made in this post. The entry now has a correction, thanks Andi and Fab.

Posted by Jake on March 22, 2006 5:09 pm

Power, Hope

Oglala Sioux say “fuck you” to South Dakota and its anti-abortion laws.

The President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, was incensed. A former nurse and healthcare giver she was very angry that a state body made up mostly of white males, would make such a stupid law against women.

“To me, it is now a question of sovereignty,” she said to me last week. “I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction.”

Hell yeah.

[update]

Click here for info on how to contact or support this project.

[/update]

[via I Blame the Patriarchy]

Posted by Jake on March 22, 2006 1:02 pm

March 20, 2006

Official Sources Say That Official Sources Rock

Fun little article from journalist Robert Fisk. It’s basically about him reading an article in the LA Times and then mocking its author for the high crap content. The article is called “In a Battle of Wits, Iraq’s Insurgency Mastermind Stays a Step Ahead of US”, and is about Abu Musab Zarqawi.

As I read through the report, I note how the Los Angeles Times sources this extraordinary tale. I thought American reporters no longer trusted the US administration, not after the mythical weapons of mass destruction and the equally mythical connections between Saddam and the international crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001. Of course, I was wrong.

Here are the sources - on pages one and 10 for the yarn spun by reporters Josh Meyer and Mark Mazzetti: “US officials said”, “said one US Justice Department counter-terrorism official”, “Officials … said”, “those officials said”, “the officials confirmed”, “American officials complained”, “the US officials stressed”, “US authorities believe”, “said one senior US intelligence official”, “US officials said”, “Jordanian officials … said” - here, at least is some light relief - “several US officials said”, “the US officials said”, “American officials said”, “officials say”, “say US officials”, “US officials said”, “one US counter-terrorism official said”.

I do truly treasure this story. It proves my point that the Los Angeles Times - along with the big east coast dailies - should all be called US OFFICIALS SAY.

Posted by Jake on March 20, 2006 9:30 am

March 19, 2006

Happy Birthday, Awful Terrible War!

Prologue

While many Americans seem to have awoken to politics and activism with the Iraq war, we need to remember that our ties to that country go back much further.

- From 1991 to 2003, the US and UK dropped a handful of bombs on the “no-fly zones” of Iraq between two and ten times a month.

-From 1990 to 2003, the US helped enforce stringent economic sanctions on Iraq. It is estimated that more than 400,000 Iraqi children under five years of age died during this period than had during comprable periods[1], some of which is certainly due to the lack of food and medicine caused by the sanctions.

- In 1991, of course, the US and its allies attacked Iraq for invading Kuwait, killing at least 20,000 people, soldiers and civilians.

And I won’t even get into the friendly relationship between the US and Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.

Searching for a Reason

I think I first realized what was going on around March of 2002.

Dick Cheney went on a tour of nearly a dozen countries in the Middle East to try to get them to support a war against Iraq. And to a man, every country said “yeah, we hate Saddam, but if you really care about the Middle East, you’ll work on the Israel-Palestine conflict first.”

Now, were we dealing with rational leaders, at this point the White House would have paused and said “wow, those guys have lived right next door to Saddam for decades and they’re not worried about him. Maybe they’re right.” But no, we were dealing with idealogues with an agenda and a bottomless bodybag. At this point in time, Americans should have scratched their heads and said “why does the president want to go to war with Iraq if even his neighbors don’t consider him a threat?”

The first credible answer to that question was “weapons of mass destruction.” The Bush administration claimed to have data showing that Iraq was filled to the brim with WMDs[2]. The world seemed sort of surprised by this announcement, as no one else seemed to think that this was true, after all the years of weapons inspections and economic sanctions. Personally, I thought it likely that Iraq had some small amount of leftover chemical and biological agents (I mean, it wouldn’t be hard to stick a test tube full of something evil in a fridge somewhere) but not the “stockpiles” that the White House implied. Nor did it seem likely that they had a nuclear program, as there would be some sort of tell-tale signs of that.

But the Bush team said that they had such evidence, but it was top secret and we couldn’t see it. That seemed… fishy. On top of that, even if Saddam had these weapons, what was the likelihood he would use them to attack the United States? Not only was there a logistical problem (attack a country thousands of miles away), but there was no motive.[3] He would want to attack the United States because…? Revenge? I guess that was possible, but the satisfaction of revenge wouldn’t outweight the costs. If Saddam Hussein attacked the United States, there would be instant retaliation and his country would be turned into a radioactive gravel pit.

Which then led to the terrorist alliance theory. To avoid retribution, Saddam would give his mystery WMD arsenal to Islamic radicals like Al Qaeda and they would use it against us. Somehow. However, the secular Saddam Hussein saw Islamic radicals as his enemies, and vice versa. The Islamists wanted to overthrow Saddam and replace his regime with a theocracy, and Saddam wanted to destroy the Islamists to safeguard his power. So while it was possible that the enemies could unite against a common foe, it was just unlikely.

Around this time, the international community seemed to think that it was a good idea to send weapons inspectors back into Iraq. The US actively opposed and undermined this possibility for quite some time. This seemed odd as well; if you thought that the country had illegal weapons, why not send people in to look for the weapons? You could always invade later. The Bush administration essentially argued that Saddam was just too sneaky for the inspectors, and as soon as they were gone, he’d take out his playset of evil and continue his pursuit of WMD… the WMD that he already had. Or something.

Once the propaganda campaign was in full swing, the Bush crew used language that was constant blurring the distinction between the dictator of Iraq and the anti-American Islamic radicals of groups like Al Qaeda. Government spokesmen were always intertwining the phrases “Saddam,” “terror,” “terrorist,” “tyrant,” “Al Qaeda,” “enemy” and “9/11.” To an American public that had scant education about the Middle East, its politics, religion and history, this blurring was highly successful in convincing many them Iraq was responsible for 9/11, and an invasion of that country would both protect American lives as well as get revenge for the loathed attack.

So the reasons given to attack Iraq seemed bogus on their face, yet BushCo continued to insist that we attack. Which obviously meant that they had another reason to attack, one that they weren’t telling us, one that they were sure we would not agree with. I spent a lot of time in the summer of 2002 trying to figure out what the hell that reason was. There were a handful of potentials, but all of them seemed somehow wrong, or incomplete. The sanctions were costing too much for Rumsfeld’s vision of a light, speedy military. The US wanted permanent bases in Iraq. Oil. Iran was about to change its oil currency to the Euro.

I remember hearing the term “neo-conservative” for the first time around September 2002. Jackpot.

The Neocons

At first, it just seemed too ludicrous. So ludicrous, in fact, that I was afraid to write about them at first, sure that people would think I was a conspiracy nut and never read my stuff again. But there it was.

Nearly all of Bush’s top advisors held the same insane view that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would be the first step in completely renovating the political landscape of the Middle East. This new Middle East would be friendly to the US and its goals, would agree with its forms of corporate capitalism, and would help find all the naughty terrorists. Once Iraq was quickly converted to a friendly “democracy”[4], the oppressed people of the Middle East would rise up and topple their dictatorial governments and replace them with their own “democracies”.

(Or, the governments of the Middle East would be so shit-scared of our ruthless invasion of their neighbor that they would realize we meant business, and obey our every command)

(And of course, the only reason the US cared about reshaping the Middle East was because of the oil reserves there)

No, seriously, this is why we went to war with Iraq. A bunch of fucking lunatics with delusions of grandeur thought that altering the ideas, goals, politics, and structures of a few hundred million people could be accomplished in months, with little to no planning, given the proper usage of bombs and bullets.

Of course, there are holes in this scheme that you could drive a truckbomb through, even in just the Iraq part. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the Bush administration felt so invincible that they didn’t even plan well enough to stabilize, rebuild, or turn Iraq into an actual democracy. They’re fuck-ups to the tenth power.

The Timeline

Here is a timeline of notable events from the Iraq war via Think Progress. “Mission Accomplished” in May 2003. Saddam captured December 2003. Abu Ghraib photos April 2004. US “transfers sovereignty” to Iraq June 2004. Dick Cheney claims insurgency in its “last throes” May 2005.

The Aftermath
(well, Duringmath)

Needless to say, things have ended badly. Around 2300 US soldiers killed, another 100 British soldiers, maybe another 500-600 mercenaries (”independent contractors”). No one’s sure how many wounded, but the Defense Department puts the number at around 16,000[4]. And there will be the broken families from soldiers in the field too long, the jobs lost for the same, and the mental illness that will come from the horrors of war. Get ready for a new wave of “Homeless Vet- Will Work For Food” signs.

But of course, it’s been far worse for the Iraqis. Somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed. I have yet to see an estimate of how many Iraqi soldiers were killed in the invasion itself, and no idea how many Iraqis have been wounded. Kidnappings, murders, car bombs, the rise of Islamic fanaticism, assassinations, a military fucking occupation. Lack of steady water and electricity. Saddam Hussein was a murderous tyrant, but the Iraqi people have simply gone from one frying pan to another frying pan.

Despite the neocons’ goals of turning the Middle East into an America-friendly paradise, it couldn’t have gone more wrong. The United States is pretty much reviled around the world now, what with our illegal invasions, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Fallujah, extraordinary rendition, bullying, propaganda, lies, and hypocrisy. US actions have also brought to power the most radical anti-American political players in the Middle East: Shia fundamentalists in Iraq, Shia fundamentalists in Iran, Sunni fundamentalists in Palestine, Sunni fundamentalists in Al Qaeda. And depending on who you talk to, the Iraqi Sunnis and Shia are on the verge of civil war (others disagree, saying that they are already in a low-intensity civil war). And if that happens, the conflict could easily become a regional war, drawing in Iran, Saudia Arabia, Syria and Jordan. And, of course, if the Kurds do try to declare their independence, they might be invaded by Turkey. I’m hoping that things aren’t quite as bad as all analyses lead me to believe, but I’m not exactly optimistic.

With all of these nations and factions at war, the flow of Middle Eastern oil could easily be disrupted, shooting oil prices through the roof. And as oil is the backbone of the global economy, that could easily fuck up most nations on this planet. The cost of anything that has to be transported goes way up, your gas bill is doubled or tripled, and companies looking to cut costs start firing people. The war comes home.

Bush keeps talking tough against Iran and their proposed nuclear program, but who’s he going to fight them with? The long invasion and occupation have depleted the reserves of soldiers and hardware. Maybe the wounded Iraq vets can line up along the border and throw their prosthetic limbs at the Iranian forces.

By the time the war is all paid for and the debts and interest are repaid (to China and Japan, who’s loans have largely kept the occupation afloat), it’s estimated that the war on Iraq will have cost Americans $2 trillion.

Conclusion

So what’s the solution to all this? There isn’t one. The majority of Americans want the troops to leave, the majority of Iraqis want the troops to leave, the majority of troops want the troops to leave. The US military is not going to solve Iraq’s problems; frankly, their attempts to do so, even their very presence makes things worse.

But a few positive steps that could be taken:

1) Alternative fuels. All this death and imperial insanity is due to oil reserves in the Middle East. If we’d spent $2 trillion on alternative energy research, by now we’d all be driving cars powered by sunlight, or foot odor or something. Our leaders would have to find a whole new reason for us to kill each other. Maybe religion. Or coffee bean reserves.

2) Philanthropy and solidarity to the Middle East. The people of that region have been used and abused by the West for centuries, and they’re well aware of it. I’m not saying we should go in there and give reparations or give money with strings attached. I’m talking about honestly helping people who need help. Or even crazier, seeing people in the Middle East as people just like ourselves, and talking with them about how we can all work together to make things better for us all.[6]

—–

[1] Technically, the number 400,00 is from 1991-2002, not 2003. Just didn’t want to get too complicated.

[2] Of course, WMD is a tricky term. Nuclear weapon is a horrific threat, while chemical and biological agents are less so, because they are hard to distribute to large groups of people. A vial of anthrax really shouldn’t be lumped together in the same group with a hydrogen bomb.

[3] This is one of the dangers of rampant demonization. The US media had done such a good job of making Saddam Hussein a villain that no one thought about his motives. He was an evil madman, capable of anything, and therefore the idea that he was hatching a crazy scheme of no value to him seemed not only likely to Americans, but quite reasonable.

[4] In the lingo of the US government, “democracy” usually means “friendly to us, whether they’re a democracy or not”.

[5] I don’t want to underplay the severity of casualties. Every person killed in this war, American or Iraqi, is a family smashed to pieces. It’s a kid growing up without a mom. It’s a husband dead. It’s coming home and finding your home blown to bits and your entire family gone forever. It’s spending every day of the rest of your life with only one arm, or one eyeball.

[6] At this point, surely some conservative reader will say something like “yeah, let’s go over there and help the terrorists, you stupid liberal hippie!” No, I’m not saying “help the terrorists,” jackass. Seems pretty clear that 99% of the people in the Middle East aren’t interested in killing Americans, they just want to live their lives. The terrorists are not going to be won over to our side, so the West will just have to learn to defeat/capture/contain them without killing more innocent Muslims (which would create more terrorists).

Posted by Jake on March 19, 2006 10:13 pm

March 17, 2006

Bad Motherfucker

You wanted it, you got it.

The trailer for the new Samuel L. Jackson movie, “Snakes on a Plane”.

No, I’m not kidding you. Someone said “hey, let’s make a movie about this plane, and there’s snakes in it, and the snakes get out and attack people!”

And somebody else said “yeah, let’s do that!”

And Samuel L. Jackson said “yes, I would like to star in that movie.”

Of course, I do hear it will be the Citizen Kane of movies about snakes on planes.

And you can’t argue with Jackson’s comment on the title, “you either want to see that, or you don’t.”

I…

Sigh.

Posted by Jake on March 17, 2006 9:15 am

March 16, 2006

Words

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center asked 710 people to give a one-word description of President Bush. The results:

Incompetent- 29%
Good- 23%
Idiot- 21%
Liar- 17%
Christian- 14%
Honest- 14%
Arrogant- 13%
Strong- 13%
Integrity- 10%
Ass- 8%
Leader- 8%
Jerk- 7%
Okay- 7%
Sincere- 7%
Stupid- 7%
President- 6%
Selfish- 6%
Untrustworthy- 6%

(Gotta love the mental wizards who chose to describe Bush as “president”. Good going, fellas)

[correction]

Readers Andi and Fab point out that the numbers above are not percentages, but number of people who used those words out of the 710 person sample. What the survey does say percentage-wise is that 48% of the respondents used negative words to describe the prez and 28% used positive words. My apologies for the confusion.

[/correction]

The same poll finds that Bush has an abyssmal 33% approval rating.

Posted by Jake on March 16, 2006 10:09 pm

Hooky

Skipping out on the radio show again today. Not sure if our technology is working properly or not. So I’m gonna stay here and do some writing (yay!) instead. But if you want the muzak and funniness, check out the LMB radio archives.

Posted by Jake on March 16, 2006 10:33 am

V for moVie

In a dismal era of movies, one of the few I’ve been looking forward to is V for Vendetta. It’s based on a pretty great comic of the same name, about a mysterious terrorist/freedom fighter/vigilante fighting to overthrow a fascist, near-future Britain. Lots of action, lots of ambiguity, lots of deep thought about the meaning of freedom and power.

Not sure how the movie’s going to turn out. Months ago, I heard that the directors had fiddled with the ending and I gave up hope. But when a preview of it was shown to the uber-geeks and comic nerds at Ain’t It Cool News, people who revere the comic like a holy text, they swooned and put it on their “Best of 2005″ lists. So I’m cautiously optimistic.

A group of anarchists are using the film to get people thinking about the deep issues and expose them to alternatives with a related site, AforAnarchy.com. Sort of CrimeThInc-ish.

Heidi McDonald, who runs a comics blog called The Beat, interviewed Vendetta author Alan Moore last year, and is just now posting the entire piece online. So far only Part 1 is up, but it’s interesting stuff. First Moore talks about the politics and genesis of Vendetta, and then his sordid entanglements with the entertainment industry (it seems that both the comic and movie industries have screwed him over so badly that he’s told them to take his name off of all their products and give his share of the money to the artist).

Probably the best summary:

“What I was trying to do was take these two extremes of the human political spectrum and set them against each other in a kind of little moral drama, just to see what works and what happened. I tried to be as fair about it as possible. I mean, yes, politically I’m an anarchist; at the same time I didn’t want to stick to just moral blacks and whites. I wanted a number of the fascists I portrayed to be real rounded characters. They’ve got reasons for what they do. They’re not necessarily cartoon Nazis. Some of them believe in what they do, some don’t believe in it but are doing it any way for practical reasons. As for the central character of the anarchist, V himself, he is for the first two or three episodes cheerfully going around murdering people, and the audience is loving it. They are really keyed into this traditional drama of a romantic anarchist who is going around murdering all the Nazi bad guys.

“At which point I decided that that wasn’t what I wanted to say. I actually don’t think it’s right to kill people. So I made it very, very morally ambiguous. And the central question is, is this guy right? Or is he mad? What do you, the reader, think about this? Which struck me as a properly anarchist solution. I didn’t want to tell people what to think, I just wanted to tell people to think, and consider some of these admittedly extreme little elements, which nevertheless do recur fairly regularly throughout human history.”

Anyhow, I hope the movie’s good. And if it isn’t, go read the book.

Posted by Jake on March 16, 2006 12:13 am

March 15, 2006

Live from the Hacklab

I wasn’t expecting to, but here I am, blogging from the first “OpenHack Night” at Voz Alta/SD IMC (art gallery and indie media center). What is it? Not 100% sure, but it seems to be a combo of technogeekery, art, media and activism. Folks interested in one or more of these things come to talk, share, educate and collaborate (and probably very little actual “hacking”). Or that’s the theory, anyway, this is the first one. RASD’s DJ Trashcandy is spinning, I’ll probably take a turn next time, as I think this is gonna be a regular thing. Come on down.

Voz Alta
1544 Broadway
San Diego, CA
6:30pm-8:30pm

Posted by Jake on March 15, 2006 7:14 pm

Dicks in Dixie (or, “Go Fuck Yourself, Go Directly to Jail”)

I had to work backwards slightly on this one.

Yesterday, a federal appeals court upheld a Mississippi law which bans the sale of sex toys.

Apparently the law had been challenged as a violation of privacy and a violation of free speech. But the court says that advertising sex toys for sale is not protected by free speech laws, and that the right to privacy does not include the purchase of sexual devices (however, interestingly, if your doctor or psychologist prescribes a sex toy for you, you may purchase said sex toy from your doctor or psychologist. Does this happen often?).

Which left me baffled. If you can advertise for any other product, I didn’t see why you couldn’t advertise for sex toys (I’m pretty anti-advertising, but if you can legally market a car, I don’t see why you can’t also legally market a dildo. Okay, I could see people wanting to limit the advertising to places and publications that kids won’t see, fine). And the right to privacy angle just seemed like the wrong one to use, in my opinion.

But the bigger question remained: maybe your “right to privacy” doesn’t guarantee your freedom to buy vibrators, but what the hell right did the government have to outlaw them? I mean, I ‘m pretty sure that there are no laws on the books that guarantee my rights to buy lamps, running shoes, sourdough bread, or monster trucks, but people would certainly see it as a violation of freedom to ban them.

So I had to dig to find out the rationale for the Mississippi law, and I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised: “protecting public physical and mental health and supporting public morality.”

Of course, public morality. I sometimes forget that Sex is Evil. Everyone knows that sex should be between a husband and his wife. Or a husband and his mistress. Or a man and a box of Kleenex. Or possibly between two single women on videotape. But never ever between single couples, men, or a woman and a vibrator. Lord only knows what might happen if a woman masturbated by herself and enjoyed it. It would lead straight to mass abortions, forced atheism, gay marriage! Rock music! Terrorism! Dancing!!!

Seems like life in The Sticks is getting downright unliveable. You Midwest and Southern folk might want to think about moving, or overthrowing your state governments.

Posted by Jake on March 15, 2006 10:34 am

Back in the Mix

As should be quite apparent, I haven’t been doing much writing on the blog lately. The drive just hasn’t been there (part of the reason I need to move out of my present suburbia. Lulls you to sleep). And after you go a while without writing, the unused ideas back up until it’s hard to write about any of them.

But I’m feeling a few mental tickles at present, some impulses to write on a few subjects, so I’ll type em up, and maybe that’ll be the start of a return. Or maybe not. What do I know about this brain, I just live here.

Posted by Jake on March 15, 2006 9:34 am

March 9, 2006

LMB Radio 03-09-06

LMB Radio 03-09-06

featuring DJ Luna the cat (who is actually a cat).

Table of contents:

- massive media merger threatens internet freedom
- anti-Islamic bigotry on the rise
- the Quran plugs Christianity
- International Women’s Day
- deconstructing the White Stripes
- Turkish war resister freed from prison
- gender twisting in video games

Featuring music by Anti-Flag, the George W. Bush Singers, Umlaut, the Slits, 2mex & Jean Grae, the White Stripes, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Immortal Technique, the Walkmen, Nirvana, Howling Bells, X-Ray Spex, Pissed Jeans, Massive Attack, Against Me, the Flaming Lips and more.

This was a bizarre show for me, as it wasn’t my usual “live show I happen to be recording” it was “show I’m recording, period”. I mean, I could’ve put on a song, eaten a five-course turkey dinner, come back and talked for a minute, ballooned over the Alps, come back and played another few songs, then editted out the gaps to make a quasi-professional-sounding show, and no one would’ve known (except the balloon pilot. And I would’ve made sure to… take care… of him).

Also, DJ Luna, a white cat who’s previous contribution to the show had been comprised of sleeping on top of my notes, now offered much more: nuzzling the mic to make an irritating noise, licking and tickling my mouse hand, and leaving half a wig store’s worth of hair on my lap. Luna also bit me twice, possibly to protest the homophobic slur in one song (or possibly because I’d stopped petting her, it’s hard to say with cats).

Posted by Jake on March 9, 2006 11:28 pm

Radio Misterioso

Hmm… Our radio station’s internet is still screwy, so one of three things will happen today:

1) I will go in and record a show that will not air live, and put that show on the internet tonight. Since most of you listen via download anyway, you’ll notice no difference.

2) I will go in and work on fixing our internet connection instead of doing a show.

3) I will go in, and we will successfully fix things before my show is scheduled to start, and do the usual record-while-streaming-live thing.

Posted by Jake on March 9, 2006 9:33 am

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