Lying Media Bastards

November 30, 2006

LMB Radio 11-30-06

LMB Radio 11-30-06

- right-wing people are crazy
- battle of swearing (in)*
- Mormon underwear
- reasoning with immigrant-haters
- Iraqi civil war
- the Iraqi Study Group sham
- the immolated Iraqi “”"”"controversy”"”"”
- Oaxaca crackdown
- so you want to own a radio station…
- right-wing film festival
- gay James Bond
- Clear Channel fraudsters?
- Xmas shopping PR
- RIP Clamor Mag

Music includes REM, Rhymefest, Los Villains, the Ramones, Automato, NOFX, Maxi Geil & Playcolt, the White Stripes, Rasputina, Fear, Cat Power, Dangermouse & Jemini, Bob Dylan, Bread and Circuits, Two Tons of Steel, Happy Drivers, Ministry, and more.


* I talked about this issue on the show, but found out after the fact that it’s kinda based on nonsense.

Posted by Jake on November 30, 2006 5:38 pm

November 29, 2006

Good News, Bad News, Terrible News, Hope?

Take Back the Land Umoja Village Shantytown Full to Capacity- some weeks back, I wrote about Take Back the Land, an effort in Miami where people seized unused city land to make homes and shelters for people who had none. The community recently picked a name for itself, Umoja Village (”umoja” is Swahili for “unity”), and is now apparently full (they’ve run out of land), housing around 35 people. They’ve been up and running for over a month. Click that link above, and you’ll see many different ways that you can help out. Please do.

UK scientists invent male ‘pill’ that can be taken hours before sex- a team of British scientists have allegedly created a new drug that could be taken before having sex, that would prevent him from ejaculating, while not stopping him from having an orgasm. I haven’t found any scientific details, and am not even sure I would understand the science if I did. Still, sounds positive.

Radio for People Coalition- newly opened website and organization to help people apply for educational and non-commercial FM radio licenses in the US, which they anticipate will become available from the FCC for a short time in 2007. And while that sounds all cool and grassroots and stuff, it sounds like the process of getting one of these licenses requires lawyers, land, an open frequency in your area, and tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Closure of Clamor Magazine- This is sad. Clamor was a pretty good magazine of, by and for radical activists. They also did a lot of distrubtion of other radical publications, and hosted the yearly Allied Media Conference, which I was actually hoping to go to next year. Clamor’s “consulting editor” (I don’t know what that means) Josh Breitbart writes this article as a bit of a post-mortem.

Violence Erupts Again in Oaxaca- on to the terrible news. It sounds like the police and paramilitaries have taken control of the city. It sounds like the protest organizers have gone into hiding, and masked riot cops are arresting and “disappearing” people at will. Fuck Ulises Ruiz, and all his monsters.

The Coup d’Etat in Mexico- another article about the iron fist in Oaxaca, but broader in scope, and ending with some hope. NarcoNews’ Al Giordano references another police crackdown earlier in the year near Mexico City (Atenco), the seeming discord in the Mexican Congress (legislators who helped prevent President Fox’s state of the union speech, and who are threatening to stop president-elect Calderon from taking his oath of office)(yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it), and predicts that the incoming Calderon regime will be the most repressive and violent that that nation has seen in decades. He ends on a grim yet optimistic note:

The new regime is going to come in, most likely, with nightsticks and guns blazing. Not all of us are going to survive it. But the day is coming when millions will stand up, all at once, and overpower the powerful who have created two opponents for every one they have jailed, three for each they have killed. And from this small corner, that of an observer with a laptop, come what may, it has been the greatest privilege of this life to listen, learn, document and report over so many years from the first-rate country that is the Mexico from below. It has shown all of us, in every corner of the earth, a new way to fight. You won’t read it in the Commercial Media and there will likely be moments to come when they succeed in peddling the myth that all hope is lost, but the following conclusion is evident to anyone that has really been listening to the sound from below: The coup d’etat is here, but it will not stand.

Posted by Jake on November 29, 2006 10:04 pm

Your Bay Area Weekend Plans

2006 Anti-Corporate Film Festival

This weekend in San Francisco. Sounds fun.

Features movies about anti-copyright efforts, the Bhopal disaster, industrial food production, attacks on environmentalists, pirate radio, and a satirical horror movie about homicidal maniacs at a corporate “team-building” retreat. With some additional short films and Q&A with the filmmakers.

Posted by Jake on November 29, 2006 10:57 am

November 28, 2006

Won’t Touch Reality with a Ten Foot Pole

“There’s a lot of sectarian violence taking place, fomented, in my opinion, because of the attacks by Al Qaeda, causing people to seek reprisal,” Mr. Bush said.

Are you shitting me? The president of the United States is blaming the Iraqi civil war not on decades of tension between Shia and Sunni, but because they’re mad about Al Qaeda?

He’s lost his fucking mind.

How is it possible that I know more about Iraq than the president?

Posted by Jake on November 28, 2006 8:08 am

November 26, 2006

Media Poop

Hooray for Right-Wing Hollywood- since liberal Hollywood elites make Baby Jesus cry, our beloved right-wing culture warrior cabal is out to snatch up the American Film Industry in its Grinch-sack and replace it with, uh, bald-eagle-shaped lumps of coal.

Or, to de-joke-ify it:

Right-wing assholes are trying to take over the American film industry.

It’s adorable and horrifying that they have their own yearly film festival, which is called… (c’mon, you know this one!) the “Liberty Film Festival”. Anyhow, investigative lefty Max Blumenthal infiltrated (or bought a ticket to) this year’s festival (he also talks about it in this radio interview) and brings us interesting facts and fun insults.

The first fun fact is is regarding that weird propaganda TV movie “The Path to 9/11″ that aired on ABC a few months back, the that pretended that the Al Qaeda attacks were Bill Clinton’s fault and that George W. has Jack Bauer-like anti-terrorist cunning. The movie aired in two halves, on two different nights, in prime time, with no commercials. I’ve always wondered who paid for the damn thing, or if ABC decided to take a bath on the project for mysterious reasons.

Still not sure on where the money came from, but it does turn out that Right-Wingers had a man on the inside at ABC, in the form of Vice President of Special Project Judith Tukich, who the Liberty Film Festival honored with a “Freedom of Expression” award. According to Blumenthal, she’s an enthusiastic Christian Evangelical and wants to use her mass media influence to spread Jesus like delicious cream cheese all over this bagel of a nation.

Sadly, one of the “hits” from the festival looks to be “Border War”, which will give all the immigrant-haters just a little more fuel for their fire. Guess I need to find funding for my movie, “Will You Racist Pricks Lay Off the Immigrants Already?”

Also, it appears that the Liberty Film Festival is totally funded by conservative joke David “Look at Me! Look at Me!” Horowitz, who in turn is funded by actual harmful right-wing moneybags like Richard Mellon-Scaife and the Olin Foundation.

I’d recommend not visiting the film festival website. It hurt my eyes. Not in an “I looked into Ann Coulter’s cold, dead eyes and now I can’t feel my legs” way, just a bad color scheme.

And I’ll never understand how conservatives can bitch about the liberal film industry, when all the major (and many of the minor) studios are owned by multinational media congolmerates. I mean, Universal Pictures is owned by General Electric, who manufacture nuclear reactors and jet engines for military planes. 20th Century Fox is owned by billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch, who brought you Fox News Channel. I know that pinko George Clooney is powerful and all, but he doesn’t pull in $18 billion a year or own a fleet of satellites.

RAINN’s Social Norms Campaign- not sure what I think of this campaign. Anti-sexual assault group RAINN wants to use ads and posters to foster more of an anti-rape sentiment among college-age men. Obviously a worthy goal, I just don’t know how effective the tactics are.

Endless War- that clever fellow known as the Freewayblogger gives us a new logo for the war of our times:

Scum Season- fairly serious piece by gonzo journalist/snark-master Matt Taibbi, about murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and then stuff I rarely hear about modern Russian politics and media.

The Worst Show on Television- another one from Taibbi, his “election night journal”. Lots of fun smackdowns on both political parties, and the media. But one good insight:

With each passing election season the format for political coverage on TV morphs even further in the direction of sportscasting… Jeff Greenfield to Wolf Blitzer, just before midnight on CNN, sounded like a man talking wild card possibilities for the Jaguars three weeks short of the playoffs: “They need three of these four states to take the Senate,” he says. And choose your cliche, Wolf. Inside straight? Run the table?

The thing that people should be concerned about isn’t that the news networks are choosing to cover politics like a football game. It’s the idea that both televised football games and televised politics might represent some idealized form of commercial television drama that both sports and politics evolved in the direction of organically, under the constant financial pressure brought to bear by TV advertisers. Both politics and sports turned into this shit because this format happens to sell the most Cheerios, regardless of what the content is. If you work backward from that premise, and start thinking about what the consequences of that phenomenon might actually be, your head can easily explode.

The first part of that is Political Science 101, the “horse race coverage” that the media give to elections, who’s winning and who’s losing. But Taibbi’s right, it’s “evolved” into the same sort of stuff you hear discussed on sports shows: strategy, tactics, personnel changes, etc. Except they’re not saying “New England should work on their passing game”, they’re saying “the Republicans need to lie to the American people in the following way”. If our world wasn’t already in need of several billion straitjackets, the journalistic world would realize that this kind of coverage is useless and harmful, and do their damn jobs properly.

Seriously, what the fuck? Educated, respectable news anchors essentially saying “Hey Politician X, say some shit about the troops! The voters’ll eat that up with a spoon! Now something about freedom! Boo-yaa! What? No, no need to change your policies to match.” Free campaign consultants who tell these serial manipulators how best to hornswaggle us. No wonder people hate the media.

(Note to the media: yes, we hate you)

And the second half of Taibbi’s point is vital as well. News, sportstalk, and all “free” television exists so that we’ll watch long enough for them to run commercials in front of our eyes. And, sad little monkeys we are, we frequently let those commercials nudge our dollars out of our wallets in the desired manner. Which I suppose is slightly better than advertisers breaking into our homes with truncheons and taking our money by force, but still…

Wait, I had a point here somewhere.

Ah yes, media and politics. I am a bit concerned that the perceived need for “drama” in all aspects of media, including news, is increasingly eroding the concept that thought of any kind in America is imporant or desirable. I worry more that American culture is at the point where the drama actually is necessary.

Posted by Jake on November 26, 2006 11:42 pm

November 25, 2006

We Don’t Want the “Smoking Gun” to Be a Chipped Tooth

This is just weird.

Apparently, shortly before the US invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein recorded a video with some of his military advisors where he demonstrates the use of weapons that “can be made at home”, including slingshots, crossbows, blowguns, and molotov cocktails. He and his advisors then talk about the need to get these weapons into the hands of the Iraqi people.

Of course, your first thought has to be “THIS was the guy we expected to have weapons of mass destruction? Captain Crossbow?”

But I don’t think that’s the right interpretation. I think that Saddam was attempting to inspire the Iraqi people to rise up and defend his dictatorship from the US invasion by invoking the bravery and resistance of the Palestinians. We’ve all seen the footage of Palestinian youth trying to fight off Israel tanks and armed soldiers with rocks and slings, so I think Saddam (as out of touch with his people as our own president, apparently) was trying to paint himself as one of The People, the brave underdog guerrillas who will fight back against the invaders. Hoping desperately that his audience would forget that he’s actually a millionaire despot who’s had his boot on their neck for decades.

No one is sure if the video was actually aired on Iraqi TV or not.

No real point to this, I just thought it was weird.

Posted by Jake on November 25, 2006 9:29 pm

November 20, 2006

Yearly Thanksgiving Post

Here it is, the same Thanksgiving post I put up every year, based upon this article, about the history and evolution of the holiday.

1621- “The First Thanksgiving”
November 1777- The Continental Congress declares a day of Thanksgiving to thank God for an American military victory over a powerful British general.
July 1861- Confederate Congress declares a day of Thanksgiving to thank God for their victory over the Union in the First Battle of Bull Run
April 1862- President Lincoln declares day of Thanksgiving to thank God for the Union victory over the Confederacy at Shiloh
September 1862- Confederate Congress declares a day of Thanksgiving to thank God for their victory over the Union in the Second Battle of Bull Run
August 1863- President Lincoln declares day of Thanksgiving to thank God for the Union victory over the Confederacy at Gettysburg
December 1865- President Johnson establishes a national Thanksgiving holiday to celebrate the Union victory in the Civil War
October 1931- President Hoover becomes the first president to actually make a rhetorical connection between the national holiday of Thanksgiving and the pilgrims

In other words, Thanksgiving was first the “thanks, Indians, for helping us colonists survive in your harsh New World” feast. Then, for around 240 years, Thanksgiving was a string of unrelated “thank you, God, for letting us slaughter the people who disagreed with us” days. Then for another 60+ years, it was the “thanks, God, for letting the North beat the South in the Civil War” holiday. And now, for the past 70, it’s been the Indian & Pilgrim thing again. Well, the Pilgrim thing coupled with pleasant/unpleasant family reunions and the baking of turkeys, pies and casseroles.

[update]

This post by poputonian argues that there’s one more step to the history. Apparently, the 1621 “first Thanksgiving” was preceded by a group of Spanish settlers who had a feast to thank god near what today is El Paso, Texas, in the year 1598. The event seems completely unconnected to the Puritans’ Thanksgiving, or to the known evolution of the holiday myth, but it seems worth mentioning just the same.

Posted by Jake on November 20, 2006 11:37 pm

November 19, 2006

News Bullets

I think I’ll just make this a big messy article based on recent news clippings.

Bomb Iran- crazed, simplistic opinion column in the LA Times calling for the US to invade Iran. Written by a member of right-wing think-tank the American Enterprise Institute. Mainly, I want to say that whenever you see an article with the author’s affiliation listed as the American Enterprise Institute, you really shouldn’t waste the time to read it.

CIA Analysis Finds Iran Not Developing Nuclear Weapons- whoops! But I thought that “Bomb Iran” guy said that Iran had nukes and we had to stop them! Sounds like we’re “fixing the intelligence around the policy” again. I sure hope these fucking lunatics don’t actually try to take this country into a war against Iran.

Kissinger: Iraq Military Win Impossible- man, when Henry Kissinger says you can’t win your war, you know you’re fucked. “If you mean by ‘military victory’ an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don’t believe that is possible”, he says.

Blair: Iraq “a Disaster”- UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was interviewed on the new English-language Al-Jazeera channel last week, where he agreed with the interviewer who said that the Iraq war has “been pretty much of a disaster”. Now, backpedaling with blinding speed, Blair now denies that he meant that, that it was “a straighforward slip of the tongue.” But he “does acknowledge is that there are difficulties and he doesn’t in any way try to downplay those difficulties.” This reminds me of the good ol’ days, before the Iraq war, when Bush would say something stupid and gifted liar Ari Fleischer had to tell the press that the president hadn’t said what he’d just said.

Why Do “They” Hate Us? Is It Somehow Connected To The Way We Cut Off Their Limbs With Chainsaws?- depressing post by Jonathan Schwarz about death and terror in Colombia. Evidence is finally coming to light that members of the Colombian government actively worked together with the right-wing paramilitaries/death squads to assassinate countless people. Schwarz reminds us that the US taxpayer is giving over $600 million to the Colombian government this year in police and military aid, some of which is undoubtedly going to the death squads. And finally, Schwarz relays tales about how the Colombian death squads seem to be fond of killing people by lopping off their body parts with chainsaws.

House Passes Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act With Little Discussion or Dissent- in 1992, Congress passed the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, and last week, Congress decided to pass the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Under the old law, if you used civil disobedience in your animal rights activism, you were a criminal. Now, if you use civil disobedience in your animal rights activism, you’re a terrorist. Yes, terrorist.

An utterly transparent gift to the meat-producing industries and companies that do experiments on animals, as a result of intense lobbying.

Police Use Taser on UCLA Student- Most of you have probably heard about this one already. The student was at the university library, security asked to see his ID card and he refused to show it. They called in the campus police, who badgered him until he decided to leave. Rather than just watch and make sure he left, campus cops decide to look manly and grab him by the arm to escort him out. Student demands cop let him go, then goes limp to resist. Then the cops use a stun gun on him like six times, even after he’s already down, allegedly while they’re putting handcuffs on him. Sickening and ridiculous.

And apparently, when nearby students crowded around asked the abusing officers for their name and badge numbers, the cops threatened to taser them too.

The first bit of good news here is that the student is filing a lawsuit against the cops.

The university police are trying to spin the story in a more positive direction by saying that “four of the campus police department’s nearly 60 full-time sworn officers had won so-called Taser Awards” (which appear to be just a yearly PR gimmick by taser manufacturers) from an incident where “officers subdued a patient who allegedly threatened staff at the campus’ Neuropsychiatric Hospital with metal scissors.” You know things are bad when your story is “our officers are responsible professionals, as evidenced by this time when they tasered a mental patient.”

Then you get this prick who writes a column for the UCLA student paper, who argues (like many, sadly) that the student had it coming. Police are always right, the rules are always right, and if you disobey, you obviously deserve electrocution. The writer ends his column with “Send your favorite Rodney King jokes to Lazar at lazar@media.ucla.edu”. Oh, what a wacky scamp, with his irreverent wit! Remember kids, beating unarmed black men with clubs is funny! (Although I did have to smirk at the guy’s title. His column is titled “Beware of easy knee-jerk reactions”, which doesn’t stop the writer from blaming the tased student for the situation, days before the student told anyone his side of the story. I am also told that the student has shut down his email box because of all the irate email).

One bit of good news is that this attack is casting renewed attention on police brutality. The taser attack is getting a lot of attention due to its unusual nature (taser abuse) and the circumstances (student at an elite institution instead of poor black man on a street corner), but it comes on the heels of two other LAPD police brutality videos that have been released lately. I think the attack has also helped liberals notice other police assaults (even though they happen a lot), like the recent one on striking janitors in Houston, where the strikers sat down in the middle of a street and the cops trampled them with their horses. With this kind of attention, probably a few of the most violent cops will get fired and some of the rest will be more restrained… for a little while.

Posted by Jake on November 19, 2006 8:51 pm

November 16, 2006

LMB Radio 11-16-06

LMB Radio 11-16-06

featuring Rebeca, The Gal Who Might Join Our Radio Station

- Clear Channel for sale SOLD!
- most impolite punk band name
- Rebeca on Guatemala: war aftermath, genocide, resistance
- Guatemalan truth & reconciliation: not so much
- UCLA cops attack student with tasers
- Ground Control to Major Colonel Sanders
- secret Thanksgiving history
- the return of racist Trent Lott
- FOX NEWS IS MADE OF PEOPLE!! CONSERVATIVE!!
- NYPD harassment of Critical Mass bicyclists: $1.3 million
- Iraq: summary and a few ways out
- live DJ adventures: eclectic downtempo vs. fergalicious

Musically, we’ve got Manu Chao, Pearl Jam, Kultur Shock, Danger Doom, Marilyn Manson, Katie Rodgers, Le Tigre, Combat Wounded Veteran, Outkast, Parts & Labor, Ghost Mice, Billy Idol, Billy Bragg, Lady Sovereign, Stone Roses, Dropkick Murphys, Mos Def & Massive Attack, Camper Van Beethoven, Rasputina and more.

Posted by Jake on November 16, 2006 9:50 pm

November 15, 2006

Deep-Fried Ozone

When I find a news story that seems too weird to be true, I usually have to research it to find out.

Sadly, this one seems to be true.

Kentucky Fried Chicken has built a 2-acre mosaic of Col. Sanders’ face in Nevada, making it the first corporate logo visible from space.

Time to find a new planet, I guess.

[update]

Just minutes after writing this, I read that Target may have beaten KFC to the punch, painting their bulls-eye logo on top of many of their stores, and that these bulls-eyes were already visible from space. At this rate, we’re gonna need an intergalatic version of the Billboard Liberation Front.

Posted by Jake on November 15, 2006 8:15 am

November 14, 2006

President Moves Towards Center

US: Immigrants may be held indefinitely

Immigrants arrested in the United States may be held indefinitely on suspicion of terrorism and may not challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts, the Bush administration said Monday

Which apparently means that anyone on US soil who isn’t a citizen (illegal immigrants, resident aliens, people attempting to get citizenship) can be taken off the street and held in prison till they die, and they have no choice but to shut up and like it. True, the law says that they can only be held if they are suspected of terrorism, but if you don’t have any rights, there’s nothing to stop the cops from saying “I swear, he said he wants to blow up the White House. Put the hood on him!”

Well, this is the White House official argument, not necessarily the law of the land (although this interpretation was submitted by the US Justice Department). Sounds like a lot of gibberish to me. And to most Americans.

So Democrats, whatcha gonna do? Feel free to step in any time and stop this Soviet-style gulag.

Posted by Jake on November 14, 2006 12:18 am

November 13, 2006

Oaxaca Chronicles III

Revving up the dirty war in Oaxaca- updates on repression in Oaxaca by the police, paramilitaries, and PRI. Murders, arrests, “disappearances.”

Updates from Oaxaca- Audio report from Paul “Mediageek” Riismandel, as he interviews Oaxacan residents and journalists Nancy Davies and George Salzman about human rights violations by the Mexican police there.

Massacre in Chiapas: Six Women, Three Men, Two Children, Assassinated in Montes Azules- 11 murdered in rural area of Oaxacan neighbor Chiapas, presumably by paramilitaries.

Posted by Jake on November 13, 2006 10:17 pm

November 12, 2006

Broad Smear

Important question of the day, brought to you by Fox News:

“Are liberal bloggers sending the same message as terrorists?”

At first, I thought this was funny, the same old, inane “if you disagree with me, you’re my sworn enemy” bullshit. But I actually watched part of the clip (yeah, turned it off halfway), and can’t believe anyone buys this nonsense. The argument is “the terrorists and Iran are all saying that the defeat of the Republicans is because Americans are against the war in Iraq, and the liberal bloggers are saying that too!!!! Therefore it is clear that Atrios and Kos want to kill and torture Americans. There is no other conclusion.

I imagine everyone sees the logical fallacy there. Two strangers making a similar statement does not mean that those two people are similar, or that they share any other opinions than that one. Further, two people making similar factual (or probable) statements does not mean that there are any similarities between those two people at all. But Fox wants to muddy up those crystal clear waters, and they do it so blatantly. It’s like they’re spitting in our faces and saying it’s rain.

But it’s even a little worse. The clip opens with the Fox News host implying that the electoral repudiation of warhawk policy will make the terrorists think that America is softer and therefore ripe for plunder! What have we done? Oh save us, brave Fox News team!

And for some reason, they chose to interview a conservative blogger on this topic, who in his opening sentences, admits that he didn’t know who the leader of Iran was until just moments ago. They really couldn’t find someone, y’know, competent?

I get so tired of this. Just because someone disagrees with your political opinions doesn’t mean that he wants to slaughter innocent civilians by the score.

[graphic stolen from Crooks and Liars]

Posted by Jake on November 12, 2006 2:11 pm

Oaxaca Chronicles II

Things still pretty grim in Oaxaca. On the one hand, the massacre I expected weeks ago has not happened, and the people continue their struggle. On the other hand, the federal police are still there in force, which seems to have emboldened the thuggish supporters of Ulises Ruiz and the PRI party; it sounds like they are threatening and assaulting protesters, and there is an atmosphere of fright and intimidation throughout the city.

And then I got an email yesterday with a scary prediction. Stratfor, the private intelligence/political analysis company apparently reported that:

The Federal Preventive Police of Mexico said Nov. 10 it will switch its operations in Oaxaca from simply containing protesters to fully restoring public safety. The police entered the city Oct. 29 to disperse the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) protesters that were blockading several roads and a government square. After dispersing the protesters, the police remained in the square to ensure that the APPO did not resume its attempts to gain control. The police will now try to restore security in the city after the anarchy of past weeks left it at the mercy of different criminal and troublemaking groups.

It is my view that the Mexican government has refrained fron a crackdown because of the media attention that the struggle has been receiving. But now that so many eyes are focused on the outcome of the US Congressional elections, maybe the Mexican government feels safe enough to try. So now is a good time to remind them that we are watching. Might not hurt to write your own Congressman, or Congressman-elect, or local newspaper. Or if you want to help more directly, email me; I think I know some people going down to Oaxaca soon.

Posted by Jake on November 12, 2006 12:06 am

November 9, 2006

LMB Radio 11-09-06

LMB Radio 11-09-06

- short history of Republican sleaze and stomping
- bad analogy interlude
- fear is the (American) mindkiller. Sorry, rest of the world
- Republican party split?
- Bush & Rumsfeld BFF
- 80s flashback: Iran-Contra recap
- crooked, racist voting shenanigans
- Democratic Congressional platform 2006
- “Die for Oil, Sucker!”
- remember, Democrats suck, too
- early Republican post-election spin
- Uber Alles Ad Nauseum

Musically, we’ve got Prince, MDC, Le Tigre, Rezurex, Blackalicious, Atari Teenage Riot, the Von Bondies, Brother Ali, Depeche Mode, Morcheeba, Jello Biafra, Metallica, and more.

Posted by Jake on November 9, 2006 9:50 pm

Some Kind of Tide

If yesterday’s election results sent any sort of message to politicians, it was probably “we are not real fond of Republicans at the moment.” Not only do the Democrats seem to have taken both Houses of Congress, but no Democratic incumbent lost their seat to a Republican. The only places Republicans won were where two brand new, would-be Congressmen or Governors were duking it out.

The exit polls seem to be showing that voters were most influenced by the issue of “corruption”, and then the Iraq war. And most startling to me, almost a third of the white evangelical vote went to Democrats. The Republicans have had a near-lock on this voting block for a couple of decades now. Either voters are that disgusted by Republicans this year, or this is a major change that will effect all US politics in the months and years to come.

Of course, the election was dirty. Republicans or mysterious anonymous folks who supported Republicans engaged in all sorts of revolting, frequently racist, tactics. The worst was probably the intimidate Latino voters by pretending to be gathering signatures on a petition:

In the morning on voting day, two men — anti-immigrant crusader Russ Dove and his cameraman — showed up at precinct 49 in Tucson, at the Iglesia Bautista church, 4502 S. 12th St. Their plan: To harass and intimidate Spanish-speaking voters by using an “English-only” petition to screen for “illegal immigrants” trying to vote, videotape them, and post their likenesses on the Internet. Roy Warden also came, armed with a gun

Guy gets in your face, another guy puts a camera in your face, and their buddy is standing nearby with a gun. Smells like democracy.

And the weirdest Republican tactic was by the campaign of Maryland candidates Bob Ehrlich and Michael Steele. They went down to Philadelphia, hired 200 homeless people, and put them on buses to Maryland. These folks were then taken to a predominantly black neighborhood and were told to give out campaign literature. Literature which claimed that the Republican Ehrlich and Steele were Democrats, in the hopes to trick some votes out of people. Seriously, if you have to sink to this level to get votes, would it maybe occur to you “y’know, I don’t deserve to win.”

Yet despite all this, despite the warnings of Greg Palast, despite the new voter ID laws and unnecessarily high-tech voting devices, American voters were still able to hammer the Republicans*.

Bush responded to this massive defeat by doing figuratively what many of us would like to have done literally: throw Donald Rumsfeld under a bus. One week after saying that he wanted Rumsfeld to stay till the end of his presidency, that he’s doing a “fantastic job”, and that he “strongly supports” him, and mere hours after the Republican massacre, Bush suddenly decides that “the timing is right for new leadership in the Pentagon.” A sacrificial lamb, obviously. “If I give them Rummy, maybe they won’t come after me!”

True to form, Rumsfeld went out on a lie, “it struck me that this would be a good thing for everybody.” While it certainly will be best for everybody, I can’t possibly believe that Donald Rumsfeld spent even one second thinking about what was best for anybody other than Donald Rumsfeld. Any bets on how long he waits before going to work for a military contractor or lobbying firm, where he’ll make 10 times what he made at the Defense Department? I’m thinking 3-4 months.**

It’s also hilarious that just a day or so ago, Bush was out stumping for his fellow Republicans, more or less saying that the Democrats want terrorists to destroy America. And now he’s got to make nice and pretend that he didn’t just say all that shit.

So what can we expect two months from now, when the Democrats control the Congress? Here’s what they’re saying they’re gonna do in “the first 100 hours”:

A set of rules changes, which Mrs Pelosi said would “make this the most honest and open Congress in history”. After Democrat complaints that Republican leaders frequently excluded them from debate and other House functions, she also pledged to restore civility and give the minority party a broader role.

…increasing the federal minimum wage, enacting the homeland security recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 commission, promoting stem-cell research and reducing university costs, by making tuition tax deductible and halving interest rates on student loans. Other priorities include giving the government the power to negotiate with drugs companies to lower prices in the Medicare prescription drug programme, eliminating what they say are Republican-backed in-centives to shift jobs overseas and rolling back subsidies for big oil companies, using those funds to promote alternative energy sources instead.

Now, given all the talk about how this election was a referendum about the Iraq war, it’s kind of disturbing that their list of top priorities does not include the Iraq war. All I’ve heard them say is that they want to “redeploy” troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. No details as far as I know.

And in case y’all weren’t paying attention, my state, in its wisdom, decided to re-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, I’m a little embarassed.

More tomorrow, coupled with yammering about all this on my radio show.


* Well, de facto hammer. Many of the individual races were very close, which I find depressing. George “Macaca” Allen nearly won Virginia, even after reports that he proudly displayed a Confederate flag and noose in his home and office, and once put the head of a dead deer in the mailbox of a black family. Yet nearly 50% of Virginians seemed to think he was alright.

** Actually, Rumsfeld was a CEO before this, of a pharmaceutical company that was later purchased by Monsanto. So it’s possible he might go back into the corporate world instead of, as I so cynically suggested, whoring for the military industry. It’s also possible that he’ll get some cushy guest professor gig at a prestigious university, or work for a thinktank. But my money’s still on consulting for military contractors.

Posted by Jake on November 9, 2006 3:07 am

November 8, 2006

First Up Against the Wall

The good news: Donald Rumsfeld Resigning!

The bad news: now my nickname for him, “Skeletor”, will surely never catch on.

[update]

Well, I suppose my glee was a bit premature– looks like Rumsfeld’s chosen replacement, Robert Gates, is yet another fossil from Bush’s father’s administration, who may have had involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, and was accused of politicizing intelligence and “cooking the books” while he worked at the CIA. Robert, you’re going to fit in just fine.

Posted by Jake on November 8, 2006 10:30 am

Post-Electorum

I think a lot of Republicans cried themselves to sleep last night.

Posted by Jake on November 8, 2006 9:36 am

November 6, 2006

The Glorious Republican Meltdown, Part 2

So things look bleak for the Republican mafia. Their war is tanking, their poll numbers are in the sewer, their allies are standing up to them, and their followers are scurrying away as fast as their tiny rat legs can take them.

- The Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times, and Marine Corps Times (military newsmagazines owned by Gannett) have all published a joint editorial calling for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld

- the latest American Conservative magazine is denouncing Bush (and immigrants, natch), and all but telling its readers to vote Democrat.

- the latest Vanity Fair is quoting warhawk neo-cons (and Iraq war architects) Richard Perle and Kenneth Adelman pretty much saying “if we’d known how incompetently Bush would run this war, we never would have suggested it.”

- neocon and warhawk Michael Ledeen is not only saying that he is against the Iraq war, but that he actually opposed it all along*.

And most hilarious and revolting of all is the sleazy conservative pundits and bloggers who are now abruptly against the Iraq war, now that it’s the politically correct thing to do. Of course, they don’t ever criticize the idea of the war, just its execution. “Gosh darnit, dropping cluster bombs on Iraqi civilians and destroying their society was supposed to make the whole Middle East rise up against the Islamofascistians and build democracies and churches and Starbuckses. If only the president had shown more grit, if only we’d tortured more people and used more white phosphorous…”

We are also starting to see more visible splits in the Republican party. You’ve got the neocons (”invade everybody!”) vs. the realists (”we must build our empire wisely”), conservatives (”small government, traditional values!”) vs. the authoritarians (”tell us what to do, master!”), and now some of the fundamentalists (”Jesus 4 prez!”) seem disgusted with the whole party (partly because Republicans aren’t theocratic enough, partly because they feel duped, partly because they see the “immoral” behavior of their leaders, i.e. Ted Haggard**). Frankly, a lot of Republicans feel that their party is no longer Conservative. And they’re right, of course. Watergate whistleblower John Dean has a whole book on this subject out now, which argues pretty persuasively that the Republican party has ditched whatever political philosophy it used to have and is now solely about power and obedience.

It should also be noted, of course, that the new popularity of Democrats has nothing to do with people liking Democrats. The Democrats are as listless and uninspiring as ever. I have heard no new ideas out of them at all. I don’t even have any idea what Democrats would do if they won control of the Congress. Raise the minimum wage, I imagine. Then maybe… investigate somebody? Get vengeance on the party that’s stomped and humiliated them for years? Continue to feebly endorse the Bush agenda anyway?

Well, I do have some ideas what they’d do. More on that later…

We can’t count the Republicans out yet. There’s still plenty of time before the polls close for them to sleaze, lie, smear, and invade Iran.

- Greg Palast is all over the Republicans more recent electoral tricks, primarily using tricky rules to make sure that huge numbers of African-Americans and latinos have their voter registration challenged, or have their votes not counted.

[update]

At this point in time (8am Tuesday, 11/07), Greg Palast’s website has kinda… vanished. All blank pages. I don’t want to be paranoid, but…

[/update]

- The Saddam Hussein trial wrapped up and his death sentence was announced conspicuously close to the election date.

- In Orange County, California, anonymous letters were sent out to thousands of latinos, implying that if they tried to vote, they could be arrested.

- In Virginia, people (Democrats? The article doesn’t say) are receiving automated phone calls claiming to be from the state election commission, telling them that they are legally registered in another state and that if they try to vote, they will be arrested. Virignians are also receiving calls from live people (mostly from phone numbers out of state) claiming to be with the local Democratic senator’s campaign, alerting them that their polling location has changed (when challenged by informed call recipients, the callers hang up). And flyers have been hung up in an African-American community in Virginia with signs saying “Skip This Election”.

- Talking Points Memo is all over a story about “robo-calls” in at least 20 Congressional districts that seem aimed at slandering Democrats and infuriating voters. The recording initially sounds like it would be from the Democrat, but is followed by a number of attacks on that candidate. And if you hang up on the call, you receive another call. And another. And so on. So it’s win-win for the Republicans: if you listen, you get a smear on the Democrat. If you hang up right away, you’ll think that the Democratic candidate is responsible for the repeated, harassing calls that will follow. Ads produced by Conquest Communications and paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. And it sounds like this ploy might be successfully pissing people off and turning them against the Democrats that they think keep calling.

Frankly, I think this was Karl Rove’s “October surprise”, a sneaky, last-minute effort to win elections in a widespread campaign to irritate voters into voting against Democrats. Sleazy, novel, probably illegal, but I doubt it will work the electoral magic he’d hoped. As one newspaper famously put it, “Rove is decidedly not a genius; he is simply missing the part of his soul that prevents the rest of us from kicking elderly women in the face.”

Greg Palast and the Daily Kos have tips on getting your vote counted and reporting electoral skullduggery.

So obviously, polls, predictions, no one knows how this is going to turn out. A Democratic win would be a couple steps back from insanity, but they’ve got their own ways of screwing us. If they win, I’ll make sure to remind y’all how.


* there is a grain of truth to this claim. While Ledeen certainly seemed to support the Iraq war, what he really wanted was an Iran war. But of course, Ledeen is obsessed with invading Iran. I don’t think we could invade Iran enough times to satiate his lust for it.

** I find nothing wrong with this pastor having a desire for gay sex, but I couldn’t stop laughing when he tried to deny the sex scandal allegations by saying the he’d only gone to the gay prostitute to “get a massage.”

Posted by Jake on November 6, 2006 11:31 pm

The Glorious Republican Meltdown, Part 1

It’s nice to see a little sanity creep back into the American public.

9/11 did not “change everything forever”, as so many people liked to say. It did brutally notify many Americans that they were not living in the world they thought they were living in. The mudane comfort of the daily commute, fast food, and television were blown apart, as an uninformed nation, with little understanding the world outside its borders, was attacked by strangers. Without any knowledge or context, all Americans seemed to know was that this attack had been completely unexpected, which meant that an attack like this could happen anywhere, at any time.

I don’t think this can be emphasized enough. Americans don’t know much about the rest of the world. Our schools don’t teach it to us, and our media covers the rest of the world as a series of unexplained conflicts and natural disasters. As far as most Americans were concerned, the 9/11 attacks literally came out of nowhere, a horrific, unexplained enigma.

Then President Cowboy Guy stood up. He said words of comfort, words of revenge and action. A terrified public sank back, relieved. “Thank god! He knows what to do.” And I think for many Americans, their mental well-being rested solely on that. “I’m terrified because we were attacked and could be attacked again. I don’t know who these terrorists are or why they want to hurt me. I don’t know anything about Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan or Islam or Osama bin Laden, and I wouldn’t even know where to start learning. But the president sounds confident, and if I put my faith in him, I can set aside the terror and live my life again.” Because of this, I think any criticism of the president or the war was a threat to the psychological well-being of millions. “If you’re right and the president’s incompetent, then I have to be afraid again, and I can’t handle that. Shut up shutupshutupshutup!!! Traitor! Terrorist!”

And now, enough time has passed that the fear seems to have subsided. At least, subsided enough that these Americans can think rationally again. There have been no terrorist attacks on Americans since then, and the TV news has given us a little understanding of the Middle East. “Shia. Sunni. Fallujah. Okay, I’m starting to get the hang of this.” With this evolving relief and understanding, they’re looking around after years of tense haze, years of war and corruption and creeping racing authoritarianism and saying “wait, did the newsman just say that a Congressman has been molesting teenagers?*”

Which is a good place to start, Americans regaining sanity and assessing the situation.

Their biggest concern, of course, is Iraq. The ever-utilitarian American public is saying “if we were helping the Iraqi people fix their country, I could support the occupation. But it seems like we have no plans, and things are just getting worse. Therefore, we should leave.” Bush’s attempts to convince us that we’re making great strides in Iraqi stability and democracy are foiled by even the most cursory glance at the news. He also seems unable to express anything that would convince Americans that he has a plan to fix things. And therefore…

Now that Bush’s approval ratings have been in the low 40s and under for over a year, our media finally feels ready to spring into action. They finally feel secure that he’s not going to surge back to dominance, so they don’t have to fear his wrath quite so much. In addition to that, the Mark Foley scandal gave them something to work with (nothing gives the Washington press corps a manic high quite like a sex scandal).

Suddenly, it seemed like every Republican Congressional candidate had a scandal. Corruption, bribery, racism, assault. Hell, some Republican Congressmen are actually going to prison. American distrust of politicians was starting to rear it’s ugly head, along with some disgust, and anger. Fool me 1,874 consecutive days, shame on you. Fool me 1,875, shame on me.

The poll reporting helped too. I’m pretty sure that polls showing that Americans were tired of Republicans and leaning towards Democrats made it seem as though the Democrats actually had a chance. And if other people were voting Democrat, maybe it was okay for YOU to vote Democrat. Conventional wisom originally said that the Democrats would pick up a few seats in the House of Representatives, possibly enough to control it, but that the Senate would probably stay Republican. Now the predictions are that Democrats will overwhelmingly take the House and probably take control of the Senate as well.

And then John Kerry told a dumb joke.

At this point, I temporarily lost my mind. Not that I’m some big Democrat or Kerry fan, or supporter of the troops. The fact that the news media gave this any attention, let alone 1-2 days of blanket coverage… John Kerry, who is not running for any office this year says something, and Republicans who are not running against John Kerry call press conferences to denounce him and demand that he apologize? And then make the really lame stretch that this joke of Kerry’s shows his contempt for the military, ergo all Democrats feel contempt for the military, ergo you should vote Republican so the troops can stay and get their asses blown up in Iraq? What kind of idiots run our media? This was rumor-monging, the sort of shit you’d hear on a playground in elementary school. “Billy said something to Jimmy, and now Jimmy’s mad, and Suzy thinks Billy should apologize but he won’t, and now Sheila’s all mad too, and omigod I just Brian pick his nose and eat it!” Jesus Christ. Someone needs to keelhaul these motherfuckers.

OF COURSE John Kerry doesn’t respect the troops. None of our politicians do! How else could we explain sending 150,000 of them to risk their lives for oil, empire, or political expediency (depends on the Congressman)?

But now the media are back on course. Gay, drug-abusing pastor. Saddam Hussein’s trial verdict. Trained experts debating whether or not Michael J. Fox’s Parkinsons symptoms are real or fake. Illegal immigrants are crossing the border to convert you to Islam and abort your fetuses. New movie about exploding car detective cleans up at the box office.

Still, I’ve got a bit of hope.

More tonight. Just wanted to get something up on the site before the election craziness takes over.


* yes, I know that Mark Foley did not (to our knowledge) actually molest teenagers. But I think that the details of the story were often lost on a nation who’s greatest fear is that our kids will be kidnapped and molested.

Posted by Jake on November 6, 2006 8:06 am

November 5, 2006

Oaxaca Chronicles

A lot has happened since my lengthy post about Oaxaca last weekend.

After writing that story, I was pretty sorrowful. I didn’t see how this could end well. I felt sure I’d awaken the next day to headlines like “50 Dead in Oaxaca” following the siege by federal police. So I was actually relieved to hear that the anticipated massacre had not happened, that “only” three people had been killed. Which is still horrible, but not as horrific as my nightmares. At least not yet.

Then, to my surprise, the lower house of the Mexican congress called for the resignation of Governer URO. Then the upper house. The Mexican congress, no friend to the people of Oaxaca, was actually calling for URO to go. Not surprisingly, URO is refusing to leave.

Apart from that, the story seemed to be that while the federal police had succeeded in driving APPO out of the central square, the people were looking to come back in and reclaim it once they left. The police tried to (illegally) storm the campus of the local university (and home of Radio Universidad, which as served as the voice of APPO), and apparently were driven out by protesters.

I had planned to summarize the recent events in Oaxaca, but Narco News* and others are doing such an excellent job that I shouldn’t even bother trying.

Oaxaca: Solitary in Flames- none of Mexico’s political parties are supporting APPO, not even the “left-wing” one.


PFP Occupation of Oaxaca Reveals Growing Polarization Within the Populace
- interesting piece that acknowledges that not every citizen of Oaxaca is interested in this rebellion. Some just want an end to the chaos, and others (mostly light-skinned, middle-class Oaxacans) support the current administration. Most interestingly, the pro-URO factions seem to have adopted some of APPO’s tactics: marches, banners, slogans about “rising up”, and most interestingly, their own pirate radio station.

Radio Universidad in Oaxaca Still Broadcasting, A Miracle of People’s Resistance- first-hand account of the police invasion of Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca (UABJO in its Spanish initials), the resistance by the people.

The Battle of Ciudad Universitaria- more detailed and structured account of the police siege, popular resistance, and, to everyone’s suprise, the police retreat.

KeHuelga- live radio stream from Oaxaca with news on the situation there, in Spanish. My language skills aren’t great, but I think that translates into “K-Strike”.

La Luchita and Women of Color Blog have also been covering the story well. WoCB’s author, Brownfemipower, also says something in that needs saying (in reference to the shocking, inspiring footage and photos of the Oaxacans’ fight):

these people are taking considerable fucking risks to make that perfect picture that people ooh and aah at. can you imagine? can you imagine your life being that bad, that oppressive, that as an old grandma, you would run up with your flowers screaming at armed henchmen? can you imagine as a young twenty something, your life being so oppressive, that you risk getting taken away in a henchmen’s van? can you imagine, as a woman, the life you must live to risk even showing up to a protest where henchmen have been known to disappear women and rape and sexually brutalize them?

There are a number of actions online (and off) going on that you can participate in:

- petition for the resignation of Ulises Ruiz and removal of the federal troops from Oaxaca
- send letters to the Mexican government
- send letters to your US Congressman
- “electronic blockade” of the Mexican embassy website
- donate money to Narco News
- demonstrations in front of Mexican embassies in many cities

Do what you can. If the Mexican government feels like the world has stopped paying attention to Oaxaca, the gloves come off.


* “Narco News” is a misleading name for the site. It was founded to cover stories about the Drug War from a Latin American point of view, but now does muckraking on a wide variety of subjects, still with a focus on Latin America.

Posted by Jake on November 5, 2006 12:45 am

November 4, 2006

Lying Military Bastards

The headline of this ABC news article is “Army Recruiters Accused of Misleading Students to Get Them to Enlist”. Okay, we already knew that. You might see that headline and skip down to the next story. But you would be rewarded for reading at least the first sentence of the story. Well, maybe not rewarded. Astonished and foaming at the mouth, maybe:

“An ABC News undercover investigation showed ARMY RECRUITERS TELLING STUDENTS THE WAR IN IRAQ WAS OVER, in an effort to get them to enlist.” [outraged emphasis and caps lock mine]

Jesus fucking Christ. I read that and my eyes bugged out of my fucking head.

“Don’t you worry, little Johnny, we won’t send you to Iraq. And even if we did, there’s no war there anymore! Don’t you read the news? We won! There’s a Disneyland in Baghdad and everything! Just sign your name on this piece of paper here and everything will be fine. Boot camp? It’s great! It’s a big party, like Spring Break on MTV! You’ll earn $800,000 for college. And we’ll fly your girlfriend out to see you every weekend! And Don Rumsfeld will bake you cookies! Yes, just sign your name here… Ex-cellent. Now let me just get your measurements for your uniform. I mean coffin. No wait… uniform. Hey, where are you going?”

Apparently, about half of the recruiters that the undercover students visited tried to claim that the risk of death in Iraq was no greater than the risk of living your life in the US, and one guy even tries to claim that if you don’t like the army, you can just quit and walk away, no problem.

I don’t know my law too well, but this sounds like lawsuit territory to me. Does anyone know if you’d be able to sue the military if they lied to you to get you to sign on?

Video of the recruiters here.

Posted by Jake on November 4, 2006 10:58 pm

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