Lying Media Bastards

March 29, 2007

LMB Radio 03-29-07

LMB Radio 03-29-07

- mic check
- Green Zone under fire
- war vs. occupation
- hurricane victims get a break. I think.
- funding and withdrawing and not withdrawing troops
- re-fighting the Vietnam war
- free speech = rape threats?
- FreEtech 2007: Woo!
- education, technology and activism meet racism, sexism, and cluelessness
- deranged Christian morality
- living within bubbles inside bubbles

Music includes Blackalicious, Bjork, J.A.C.K., Thee Stranded Horse, Public Enemy, Black Lodge, Yaphett Kotto, Le Tigre, Early Man, Wu-Tang, Red Paintings, the Von Bondies, Royal Treatment Plant, Fishbone, the Vandelles, Camper Van Beethoven, and more.

Posted by Jake on March 29, 2007 11:17 pm

Danger Zone

“Insurgents have struck inside the Green Zone, which includes the U.S. Embassy, on six of the past seven days, once with deadly consequences. A U.S. soldier and a U.S. government contractor were killed Tuesday night by a rocket attack that also seriously wounded a civilian.”

The Green Zone is the most heavily-fortified US position in Iraq. A river on one side, seventeen-foot high blast walls, and a hundred or more soldiers guarding it. It’s where the Coalition Provisional Authority ruled from, it’s where the US Embassy is, it’s where the Iraqi government meets. And this article now implies that the safest place in Iraq is not safe from insurgent attacks. That sounds… bad.

Posted by Jake on March 29, 2007 12:06 am

March 26, 2007

Up the Geeks!

About two weeks ago, djlotu5 excitedly approached me about organizing a radical technology conference to counter the Emerging Technology Conference (ETech), which takes place in San Diego every year. He explained how ETech talks a good game about free software and hacking and creativity, but that the conference itself costs $1500 to get in, and is sponsored by behemoths like Disney, Microsoft, and Amazon; hardly the meeting of underdogs and innovators it pretends to be. “That sounds like a great idea,” I said, “but that only gives you two weeks to put it together. Maybe you should wait until next year’s ETech.” Given my experience with activist events in San Diego, I thought that anything put together in less than two weeks was doomed to failure.

Undeterred by my words of pessimism/prudence, lotu5 went ahead and organized a very loose, day-long event featuring presentations, workshops, and skillshares aimed at techies, hackers, activists, and indymedia types. FreEtech 2007 was small, but very friendly, fluid, educational, hands-on, and thought-provoking. We had members of RadioActive, Borderlands Hacklab, San Diego Indymedia, Activist San Diego, Free Radio San Diego, the City Heights Free Skool, Bay Area Hackbloc, Indybay, vAPPOr Oaxaca, and probably some other groups I wasn’t aware of, with maybe a dozen people driving down from SF to join us. Fun to be surrounded with fellow geeky, sarcastic anarchists.

The core idea behind it all was spreading technical knowledge and skills, with emphasis on free software, and using that free software for social and political change. This lead to a long discussion about power, privilege, race and gender, and how they interact with tech, education, organizing, and community.

Also, there was pizza.

The event was a great success, and we had a great time. We talked about organizing a similar event for the Bay Area some months from now. You’re all invited.

Posted by Jake on March 26, 2007 10:49 pm

March 23, 2007

Bush Officials Show Glimmerings of Humanity

Wow, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are both arguing that the Guantanamo Bay prison camp should be shut down.

Well, okay, the Gitmo prisoners would simply be moved to military prisons inside the US. And the closure wouldn’t be out of kindness, it would be because the prison has become a symbol to the world of American hypocrisy and cruelty. But still, it couldn’t hurt.

Of course, yes-man Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was against the idea, and Dick Cheney cryptically replied “I will consume their still-beating hearts and gain their power!!”

Posted by Jake on March 23, 2007 7:27 am

March 22, 2007

LMB Radio 03-22-07

LMB Radio 03-22-07

- thanks for the free stuff!
- freEtech vs. Etech
- Iraq war birfday
- soldiers, death and guilt
- support troop mutiny!
- phantom Iraqi forces
- indyradio returns to Oaxaca
- McDonald’s Truth Tour 2007
- US Attorney scandal
- winning hearts and minds with bullets and contempt

Music includes KRS-One, CocoRosie, Paris, Bob Dylan, Mammut, Some Action, Nine Inch Nails, Minsk, Los Villains, The Coup, Beastie Boys, I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House, This Machine Kills, the Stray Cats, the Sugarcubes, and more.

Posted by Jake on March 22, 2007 11:28 pm

Those Huggable Spartans

Snarky video geeks say “what if a movie studio re-editted the movie 300 for kids?”. Hilarity and puppies ensue.

Posted by Jake on March 22, 2007 9:16 am

March 19, 2007

Happy Deathiversary

Four years in Iraq, going on Year Five.

Last year, I wrote a pretty comprehensive piece about the Iraq war, stretching from Gulf War I in the early 1990s, through the sanctions and post-9/11 buildup, up to 2006. It’s still pretty accurate, if you up the casualty numbers a bit.

Since then, the most relevant pieces I’ve written were probably this one, about the likely failure of Bush’s “surge” strategy to pacify Iraq, and this one about how the neocons in Washington are already forgetting the war in Iraq to fight a new battle against Iran and the rise of the Shia in the Middle East.

Add to that this new article by ABC News about the suffering of the average Iraqi citizen, this interview with Noam Chomsky, where he links the Iraq war to broader trends in US power, and this article by Matt Taibbi, where he predicts that once the war is lost, the pro-war folks won’t admit defeat, they’ll claim that the war was a great idea, and only failed because it didn’t get enough resources or public support.

Posted by Jake on March 19, 2007 9:26 pm

March 18, 2007

Scandalgate

I can’t seem to escape reporting on the current Washington scandals no matter how I try. But I’ve got a few things worth mentioning.

Plamegate
My guess is that Scooter Libby will try to keep his case in appeal until January 2009, when Bush can pardon him at the last minute and suffer little fallout for his decision. But it would be nice if Libby, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney saw the inside of a jail cell for at least one of their crimes. I do feel a slight bit of sympathy for Libby, because “Scooter” is a really terrible nickname.

US Attorney firings
As I understand it, the key thing here is that Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonzalez, and possibly Big W himself decided to fire US attorneys who had refused to launch investigations of Democratic politicians or back off of investigations into Republican politicians. They then replaced them with US attorneys more to their liking. In other words, hirings and firings for solely political purposes.

- before being appointed to Attorney General of the United States, Alberto Gonzalez was essentially George W. Bush’s personal lawyer (”general counsel”) since 1994. The fact that Bush nominated his personal attorney to Attorney General of the United States is so fucking shady that somebody in Congress should have, y’know, stopped it.

- the ability to replace US attorneys when there’s a vacancy is a new power granted to the Department of Justice thanks to the Patriot Act. Previous to the signing of the Patriot Act, one or two people thought “gee, maybe the government will abuse the new powers that this Act gives them.” Those people were clearly crazy.

- if these fired attorneys lost their jobs for refusing to give in to Republican pressure, how many other US attorneys were pressured also pressured to do so, yet caved in to keep their jobs? Frankly, that’s a much better question to be asking.

- author and Watergate whistleblower John Dean claims that “it’s a very standard Rove operation… to have people who are running against his… candidates to be under investigations that somehow disappear as soon as the election is over.” Basically, he’s arguing that these attorneys were fired because they refused to take place in a smear campaign that would influence the outcomes of state elections.

- the NY Times reported that Bush had spoken to Gonzalez about the attorneys back in October, to “to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud”. In recent years, “voter fraud” has been the rationale for Republicans to remove potential Democratic voters from the voter rolls (or in other cases, challenge likely Democratic voters, in hopes of having their votes invalidated. Or to harass likely Democratic voters so that they won’t make the effort to vote). And of course, this effort has largely been racist, as people of color are less likely to vote Republican. So either was asking Gonzalez to carry out a racist plan to steal votes, or perhaps he was innocently passing along requests to do so without realizing what they meant (as we know, Bush isn’t real bright).

Walter Reed scandal
Is anyone really suprised that an administration that would send people out to suffer and die in an imperial war would then shortchange those same people’s medical care when they came back wounded? “Support the troops” has never meant “support the troops.” It means “I am loyal to the president and his war”. However, the opposite phrase, like “you don’t support the troops” means “you hate America.”

That being said, a lot of those ill-treated American soldiers have a lot of goddam blood on their own hands. While huge numbers of Iraqi civilians have been killed by insurgents and death squads, huge numbers were also killed by American bombs and bullets. I’m sure that most of those wounded Iraqi survivors are not getting treatment half as nice as they do at Walter Reed.

FBI abuse
The FBI and Justice Department have now admitted that the FBI illegally gathered the phone records of thousands of people over a two-year period, and that’s just the stuff they’re willing to admit.

Basically, the FBI is allowed to demand phone records from phone companies without a warrant, if a) they send the company an official National Security Letter, b) they have also sent a request for a subpoena to the US Attorneys office, and c) this info relates to an imminent threat to national security. Instead, the FBI has sent phone companies thousands of a) regular letters, b) without applying for subpoenas, c) on cases with no imminent threat, that d) often had nothing at all to do with national security.

Even better, once the FBI has this data, they stick it into a database accessible by tens of thousands of federal employees (not just the FBI), private companies, and foreign governments.

The ability to gather these phone records with National Security Letters is a new power granted to the FBI thanks to the Patriot Act. Previous to the signing of the Patriot Act, one or two people thought “gee, maybe the government will abuse the new powers that this Act gives them.” Those people were clearly crazy.

Posted by Jake on March 18, 2007 2:11 pm

March 15, 2007

LMB Radio 03-15-07

LMB Radio 03-15-07

- SXSW
- Jake’s new podcast
- Viacom vs. YouTube and Viacom
- Rubber Rose Reportback
- marijuana bad; death good
- drug stores robbing you blind
- paying twice for tech (socialism for corporations)
- NPR vs. CRB
- Garrison Keillor, folksy asshole and hypocrite
- Abolition 2007

Music from Erase Errata, the White Stripes, La Plataforma, Memphis Bleek, Blackholicus, Dead Kennedys, Drumcorps, Ghengis Tron, Death from Above 1979, Busdriver, Billy Bragg, Autolux, Talib Kweli & Madlib, Balkan Beat Box, Le Tigre, International Noise Conspiracy, Rage Against the Machine and more.

Posted by Jake on March 15, 2007 11:02 pm

March 11, 2007

EcoSilly

Does anyone have a clear understanding of all the alternative energy options out there? Cuz I’d like to get a handle on it all one of these days.

This article raises a lot of the concerns I’ve been hearing about ethanol as fuel. Primarily that the fossil fuel-intensive style of American industrial agriculture (to run the farm machinery, manufacture the fertilizers, etc.) and the fossil fuel-dependent methods of turning harvested corn (or other plants) into ethanol, that there might not result in a net benefit. You’ve got to use gas to make ethanol to replace gas.

Anyhow, if anyone could recommend some sources where I could get the scoop on biofuels and hydrogen cells and solar power and such in a relatively straightforward manner, I’d appreciate it.

Posted by Jake on March 11, 2007 11:24 pm

Keep On Livin’

Happily, last night’s art and DJ event went well. I had been worried that due to the intense and somewhat horrific nature of the artwork, that nearly any sort of music would be out of place. But it turns out that the shirts I had seen before the event were only a portion of the collection. The pieces I saw were almost solely the artists’ anger, hate and grief over their abuse, but on the night of the show, I saw many more. And many of these new pieces were about overcoming fear and shame, about strength and determination, about refusing to let the attackers of their past determine their present or future. This mix of messages took place in the art gallery adjoining a shop about creative, consensual and joyful aspects of sex. And the gallery and shop were part of a larger art/music/food/drink/block party event, with friends and loved ones enjoying the spectacle, the night air, and each other’s company.

Not bad at all.

At one point, DJ Lotu5 started playing the Le Tigre song Keep On Livin’, and one of the gallery’s proprietresses walked over and cranked up the volume noticeably. To our quizzical looks, she said simply “this is tonight’s theme song.” And she was right.

Push thru their greatest fears and
live past your memories tears cuz
You don’t need to scratch inside just please
Hold onto your pride
So don’t let them bring you down and
Don’t let them fuck you around cuz
Those are your arms that is your heart and
No no they can’t tear you apart cuz

This is your time this is your life and
This is your time this is your life and
This is your time this is your life and
This is your time this is your life and….

You gotta keep on(keep on livin!)
Gotta keep on(keep on livin!)

Posted by Jake on March 11, 2007 11:11 pm

Propaganda By Subtitle

A blogger by the name of “jurassicpork” put together this pretty amazing compilation of Fox News stills. In nearly every shot, the captions below the talking heads either run counter to the truth (”Scooter Libby Found Not Guilty of Lying to FBI Investigators”), display right-wing fear-mongering (”Are Saddam’s WMDs Now in Hezbollah’s Hands?”), or betray a sickening ideology (”All-Out Civil War in Iraq: Could It Be a Good Thing?”).

Note also how many of the captions are accusations, allegations or smears, posing as questions. That’s some good journalism!

Posted by Jake on March 11, 2007 2:19 pm

March 10, 2007

Words Fail

I saw a number of headlines this week announcing things like “Anti-Bush Protests Heat Up in Latin America”, “South America Protests Bush Visit” and similar bland, vague descriptions. Let’s take a look at what that means:

Headlines don’t do it justice, do they?

More pics at the link above.

Posted by Jake on March 10, 2007 11:36 pm

March 9, 2007

Support Your Local Everything

Tomorrow night, me and a crew of RadioActive San Diego DJs (Lotu5, mariposa, and Los Conrads) will be spinning at the Rubber Rose sexuality boutique/art gallery. It’s part of a monthly event here in this part of San Diego called Ray at Night, little stretch of art galleries that throw open their doors, food, music. Ends up being a mix of locals, hipsters, and upper crust art snobs.

The Rubber Rose’s exhibit this month is powerful sad, The Clothesline Project. Inspired by the AIDS quilt, the Clothesline Project uses t-shirts on a line instead of quilt squares, and instead of being about deaths caused by HIV, it’s about victims of abuse and sexual assault. Quite frankly, after seeing the anguished tales depicted on these shirts, I’ll be surprised if a number of viewers don’t have some of their own repressed traumas spring forth right there in the gallery. Not sure what sort of music you play to accompany that. Guess I’ll have to gauge the tone of the room.

The Clothesline Project
The Rubber Rose
March 10, 2007
6-10pm
3812 Ray St
San Diego, CA 92104
Show runs through April 6, 2007

But I wanted to reiterate a point I made in my radio show yesterday. The Rubber Rose is a great, activist-friendly community space. All sorts of feminist events, workshops on sex and sexuality, activist group meetings, political speakers, art, concerts, etc. Places like this don’t continue to exist unless we support them. When I lived in Los Angeles, there were precious few activist-friendly places, and I watched a great many of them close down during my years there. Midnight Special Books, Cafe Luna Sol, Juvee’s, Arts in Action, Tia Chucha’s, Flor y Canto (although I believe that FyC was eventually replaced by a similar radical bookstore). When places like these die, you miss them, and their replacements are usually the same mall crap you see everywhere else, or they’re demolished to build apartments you can’t afford to live in.

So I’m saying that if you’ve got places like these in your area, support em, dammit! Spread the word, patronize their services, go to their events, donate money, volunteer, join, attend their fundraisers, something.

If there’s a place like this near you, do me a favor and write about it in the comments section, por favor.

Posted by Jake on March 9, 2007 10:23 am

LMB Radio 03-08-07

International Women’s Day Show

LMB Radio 03-08-07

- International Women’s Day, Global Women’s Strike, Blog Against Sexism Day
- the Hoo-Ha Monologues
- Lying to Cover-Up the Smears to Protect the Lies to Justify Conquest, Murder and Theft: The Scooter Libby Story
- ignoring Paris
- piracy: capitalism in action
- The Rubber Rose is cool
- Support your local activist-friendly spaces, dammit!!!
- kicking internet radio in the nuts
- “conservativism” as sexist authoritarianism

Music by Ladytron, Smoosh, the Rub, Portishead, Candypants, Bikini Kill, Elizabeth Mitchell, the Pipettes, Princess Superstar, Calavera, Johnny Magnet, Rasputina, Young and Restless, Nouvelle Vague, Camera Obscura, M.I.A., the Vandelles, Sleater-Kinney, and more.

Posted by Jake on March 9, 2007 12:41 am

March 7, 2007

Focus, People

The Associated Press newswire service recently began an amazing, weeklong, journalistic experiment, potentially altering their audience’s very perception of reality forever.

They decided not to cover Paris Hilton stories for a week.

Yeah, that’s it. Sorry for the buildup.

Here is the memo that the AP sent to their staff on the issue:

“Next week the print team is planning an unconventional experiment: We are NOT going to cover Paris Hilton.

“Barring any major, major news, we are not going to put a single word about Paris on the wire. If something does come up, big or small, we encourage discussions on whether we should write about it.

“Hopefully we will be able to discuss what ‘news’ we missed, the repercussions of our blackout for AP both editorially and business-wise, and most importantly the force that cause the world to be fixated on this person who, despite her shallow frivolity, represents an epochal development in our culture.”

Did you notice a lack of Paris Hilton news lately? Me either, not until I read AP’s article informing me after the fact (yes, they’ve returned to Paris coverage now).

To be honest, I suspect this whole thing was a mild publicity stunt. “Let’s not talk about Paris Hilton for a week, leak a memo, and get all sorts of buzz as news shows and pundits chatter about it.” So AP’s “experiment” was probably not even based on journalistic or ethical concerns, just dollars and sense.

Obviously, Paris Hilton’s antics, Anna Nicole Smith’s death, Britney Spears’ erratic behavior, should receive little attention at best. Their actions will have little impact on the world around them, and apart from their wealth and familiarity to millions, they are just like you and me. There’s nothing wrong with covering the trials and tribulations of Britney, but her troubles are no more worthy of coverage than any other struggling addict.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper recently vented on-air that all of the coverage of Anna Nicole Smith infuriated him because it seemed ridiculous to talk about her when there was an ongoing American war to cover. Days later, Fox News’ John Gibson contradicted and insulted Cooper, claiming that Cooper, and other journalists who might feel the same, was being “snobs” for not wanting to cover Smith. John Gibson is a Man of the People, who will tell us about the Stories We Want to Hear, while Anderson Cooper is an Elitist Snob Who Thinks He’s Better Than You (it’s my understanding that Cooper went on to do a story about Smith sometime after that, so the point is moot)

Which finally brings me to the topic I want to discuss.

Gibson is partially right. Some people do want to hear stories like Anna Nicole’s. But not because they think it’s “news” or because they link it’s important. They want to hear them because they like stories. Stories about Anna Nicole Smith, stories about Batman, stories about Harry Potter & friends, stories about the castaways of “Lost”. It’s one of my theories about the basic nature of humankind. We evolved big brains and language solely to tell and listen to stories. Once upon a time, I imagine the purpose of stories was learning and survival. If someone tells you about the time they went hunting mammoth in the next valley over and got bitten by a rattlesnake, maybe you know to be careful of snakebite if you’re even in that valley. If someone tells you a story that two of your neighbors are romantically involved, maybe you know not to flirt with one of them and because you could make the other one angry. Stories can give you important information without direct experience.

I don’t know that the human brain has evolved since then, and adapted to a reality in which huge numbers of our stories are fictional, or are about people who we will never, ever meet. Our brains still seem to think that these stories are significant, and we often treat them as such. We are story addicts, and our addiction can be used to manipulate us.

So John Gibson has a point, and plenty of people were drawn into the Anna Nicole story. But is it “snobbish” for a journalist to say “this is not news”? Well, would it be “snobbish” for a schoolteacher to say “no, I’m not going to teach you kids about video games”?

“News” is a business, so it does make logical sense for the news media to tell us the stories that will draw us in and make them advertising dollars. So we really have only two choices: wait for journalists to start risking their careers to give us hard news instead of the fluff that makes their owners money, or we have to keep our story addiction in check and tune out the fluff.

One of my favorite lyrics from politcal rockers Rage Against the Machine is from their song “No Shelter”:

From the theaters to malls on every shore,
The thin line between entertainment and war

That phrase, “the thin line between entertainment and war”, always sticks with me. When you’re under attack, distractions or diversions by the enemy could be a weapon, and could turn the tide in a battle. Imagine if you were so caught up in stories and drama that you were conquered, defeated, without even realizing it. Or what if the entertainment so was powerful that you weren’t aware that you were under attack in the first place? That would be a powerful weapon indeed.

I’m not saying that celebrity news, blockbuster movies, and prime time TV are a government scheme to keep us docile while they seize power and sell us out to their rich pals (although you could certainly make that argument). I feel that the media industries are separate, doing what they can to make money for themselves. But their goals, the goals of other wealthy folks, and the goals of the government often coincide in a way that bolsters them.

But the bottom line of what I’m saying is that we human beings have many, many weaknesses, and there are many folks out there who know how to exploit those weaknesses for their profit and our pain. And they will continue to do this forever. Which means that we have to be strong. We have to stay focused. Our collective lack of focus (and lack of action) has resulted in the deaths of several hundred thousand Iraqi people who never did anything to us. Our lack of understanding of even the most basic aspects of our day-to-day life– like “how did this food get to my dinner plate?”– maintains international exploitation and poverty. Here at home, many of us don’t seem to notice daily racism, sexism, homophobia, and other injustice. And every week seems to bring another governmental power grab which tells us that our our simplest actions of joy and survival make us criminals: that we are only free because they haven’t chosen to arrest us yet.

To roughly quote a fictional writer from a powerfully dark comic book:

Here in these streets are the things that we want: sex and birth, votes and convenience, money and guilt, television and teddy bears.

But all we’ve really got is each other.

You decide what that means.

Posted by Jake on March 7, 2007 7:02 pm

March 4, 2007

Blazing a Trail to 2001

The NY Times has a new editorial taking the bold stance that Congress should re-establish the Constitution as the binding document of American government.

It’s one of those sad, sad states of the times when we must actually applaud when a major newspaper says something so obvious. So way to go, New York Times, for saying shit you should have said 5 or more years ago!

Related, Glenn Greenwald has an article in which he agrees with the goal of the NYT piece, but argues that the tactics the NYT espouses will not be effective. Greenwald claims that since the Democrats don’t have enough of a majority to override a presidential veto, that they need to hold hearing after hearing and send out subpoena after subpoena, to put all the information regarding the Executive branche’s illegal behavior right in the face of the media and the public. Only then, he figures, will additional politicians be willing to take on the Bush regime and restore the checks and balances.

Unrelated, Greenwald also points out that after years of stalling and misdirection, the Bush administration has finally been compelled to hand over a video tape of permanent detainee Jose Padilla. The tape would allegedly show that Padilla had been abused or tortured by his interrogators. And now that the prosecutors have exhausted all their legal trickery, they now claim that the tape has… mysteriously vanished.

Posted by Jake on March 4, 2007 2:54 pm

March 2, 2007

LMB Radio 03-01-07

LMB Radio 03-01-07

“The Lazy/Dangerous Show”

- The Daily Show explains Dick Cheney
- arson at the radical bookstore
- get well soon, Steve Gilliard
- imprisoned Egyptian blogger
- the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And my enemy
- Costa Ricans protest CAFTA
- anonymity, Cheney style
- terrorism is cause of terrorism
- boycotting the RIAA
- corpse updates
- hypocrites, but not liars
- confusing North Korea story

Due to a busy, harrowing week, I decided put an idea into action that I’ve had for months: robo-DJing. Instead of sampling dozens of new tunes for potential rotation and playing live selecter from my vast music armada, I’d just set the mp3 player to “random” and let the CPU do the choosing. On the one hand, this would probably lead to a wider variety of songs that you’d usually hear on the show. On the other, there was a much higher chance of getting songs that were radio unfriendly, or just plain crappy. There was also the final danger: what if the random show was better than my usual shows? That would have been a crushing ego blow.

I think this show turned out decent, but I don’t think this is an experiment I’ll try again.

Posted by Jake on March 2, 2007 12:52 am

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