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No radio show today, but maybe I’ll get in some writing tonight.
No radio show today, but maybe I’ll get in some writing tonight.
Woo! Finally did my first Rantasaurus podcast!
What is “Rantasaurus”?
Basically, it’s a short version of my LMB radio show, for those weeks when I can’t get into the studio to record a live one. 10+ minutes of me talking, two or three songs by more obscure artists, possibly more angry bitterness at the ugly world, approximately the same amount of snarky wit.
Rantasaurus #1 = Jake talks about the cowardly Congress cave-in, popular opinion, civil disobedience, and the future of Iraq. Music by Rusted Shut, Ministry, Combat Wounded Veteran and the Au Pairs. A little less than half an hour (some of the songs are long). It’s not a perfect show, but it’s the best I could do on a limited time budget. Maybe I’ll do another one next week, and it will be the most elegant podcast known to man.
And finally, I am proud of the Rantasaurus logo. Drew it by hand, scanned it, colored it and touched it up via computerized sorcery. Again, it could be better, but how much time do I really want to spend perfecting a cartoon dinosaur?
Well, it appears that a significant number of Democrats in the House of Representatives are going to give Bush the Iraq war funding bill he wants, with no timetables for withdrawal. Despite the fact that about 2/3 of the country is against the war, and more than half the country wants a timetable for withdrawal. The Democrats are so terrified of being seen as “weak on terror” or “not supporting our troops” that they’ll let thousands more die, so that their political opponents can’t smear them with it in a campaign ad in the future. Cowardly fucking assholes.
Yes, Democrats, if you keep opposing the war, someone might claim that you’re anti-war and try to use that against you. And maybe, as forgetful and gullibile as some Americans are, that might cost you a future election. I don’t fucking care. If your political careers need to die to bring this catastrophe to an end, then fall on your fucking swords. You’ll survive, as an honorary professor at a prestigious university, or the head of a wealthy foundation, or making bank on the lecture circuit, or writing your memoirs. It’s not like you’re gonna starve.
Before and during the war, small numbers of dedicated antiwar activists put their bodies on the line to try to stop it, actually trying to prevent shipments of arms or supplies, trying to physically stop the activities necessary to start and/or maintain the war and occupation. They failed, and even if they’d succeeded, they would have made little significant impact. But had Congress chosen to stop funding this war, they have achieved those activists’ goals, on a massive scale– not stopping a single train, but stopping all of the military activities cold.
But they didn’t. It looks like they’re taking the cowardly, racist way out, calling for “benchmarks”, so that they can support the war, but blame the Iraqis themselves for the crisis we caused. Or, to paraphrase a bitter comment from an Iraqi journalist, we can blame their flesh for hurting our knives.
If you want to call your Rep and tell them to vote against this fucking bill, get the info quick and easy here. Maybe it’s not too late.
TV newsman Keith Olbermann ripped all these politicians a new one tonight, click here. It’s worth a watch, if only to envision what a free and adversarial news media might look like.
Somewhat related, you may have heard the recent news report that Bush has authorized covert actions against Iran, intended to destabilize that government. Of course, I think we’ve been doing just that for over a year now.
Well, between my 3 part-time jobs, I apparently scheduled myself for like a 60-hour work week this week. Hence, the amount of radio I create will be… small. I’m actually thinking of trying out the short-form podcast I keep threatening to do. Rant for six or seven minutes, cut and paste in a couple of songs, and y’all get sonic deliciousness.
But if you really need two hours of political radio per week, I really recommend listening to this week’s Ian Masters show (well, shows, “Background Briefing” followed by “Live from the Left Coast”, both involve smart guy Ian Masters interviewing other smart people about current events and politics). Topics include Palestine, Iraq, the new immigration bill, Bush administration lawlessness, and religious fundamentalism in politics. Good stuff.
This sounds kinda neat.
Submissions are being accepted for the Propaganda III World Tour. The exhibit is a series of political posters, all 18 inches by 24 inches. You have to submit 3 copies of your work by July 1.
There’s also a flickr gallery with some pretty cool submissions from around the world.
Hey, look! News articles relating to ingestible substances!
UC Hunger Strike Against Weapons Labs Passes 1-Week Mark- 44 students from University of California campuses have spent over a week on a hunger strike against their universities’ involvement with nuclear weapons research.
Study documents new interactive junk food marketing techniques aimed at kids- we all know that corporations that manufacture foods low in nutrition and high in fat and sugar spend jillions of dollars to encourage kids to eat them. This new and totally unsurprising report finds that these same corporations are advertising to kids more directly, and more hidden from parents, utilitzing the internet and cellphones.
Starving the Poor- I recently wrote about the international damage caused by US farm policies, and these next few articles tie concrete current events into the mix. The price of tortillas in Mexico has abruptly risen by 50%. Tortillas are a staple of the Mexican diet, so this is a huge deal. I’m not sure to what part of the American diet to compare it to show the significance. Bread? Soda? Ketchup? Anyhow, according to smart guy Noam Chomsky, this price jump is due to the new demand for corn-based ethanol, which means that there is less corn available for corn-based tortillas. The article also points out that it’s not just a demand for corn-based ethanol, but for US-produced ethanol; Chomsky points out that Brazil makes cheap, efficient sugar-based ethanol, but that US tariffs on Brazilian ethanol will remain high in the near future. Guatemala to Face Corn Shortage- corn will also be scarce in Guatemala because of the US-ethanol scam.
In other words, America’s desire to become environmentally-sustainable without making any sacrifice to its automobile habits, the rise in oil prices due circumstances surrounding the Iraq war, and the greed of corporate agriculture are inadvertently starving/bankrupting the poor in Latin America.
Lawmakers Find $21 a Week Doesn’t Buy a Lot of Groceries- a handful of US Congressmen are attempting to live on food stamps for one week, which works out to about 21 $1 meals. They’re not doing so good. Sure, it’s a publicity stunt, but it’s a stunt that could potentially add 12% to the yearly food stamp budget. If you want to read about their experiences, you can read their blogs here and here. Of course, there are 26 million other Americans trying to get by on food stamps who won’t get to celebrate the end of the week with a return to their usual diet of Starbucks and steak.
Damn. I didn’t think to reserve the RadioActive studio this afternoon, and DJ Faffs is using the equipment to teach a class on radio and audio editting to elementary school kids. Damn selfish elementary school kids!
So no show this afternoon, I’ll try to get in and record something this weekend. Guess I’ll do some writinating for now.
I have heard a million excuses for why the US should have invaded Iraq, and a million reasons why the US needs to stay in Iraq, each excuse more fictional and insulting than the last. One of these was the “Pottery Barn rule”*, which Colin Powell allegedly told to President Bush: “you break it you bought it”, implying that if the US invaded Iraq, the country would become the US’ responsibility. And since we did invade, the US was now responsible for the plight of the Iraqi people, and we couldn’t leave until we put it all right.
On a recent episode of the Colbert Report, comedian Stephen Colbert comes up with his own, more accurate version of the Pottery Barn rule:
“At Pottery Barn, if you knock over a lamp, you have to glue it back together, even if when your done it looks terrible and it doesn’t work. Oh, and you have to stay in the store forever. Oh, and it’s an exploding lamp.”
[via Crooks and Liars]
*Of course, it should be noted that Pottery Barn does not actually have this policy.
Today’s (Thursday’s) LMB radio show (podcast) is postponed till Friday (tomorrow).
I love (like) parentheses (()).
Today, I have learned a lesson that I think I have learned many times before. There are many lessons of this type, valuable wisdom about living one’s life, or about how one’s brain or emotions work, and that wisdom just erodes out of your memory over time, and you forget until you re-learn it.
I really haven’t done a ton of writing on this site for the past several months; thankfully, this lesson tells me why, and what I have to do to get back into writing. Basically, to do any significant writing, I have realized that I need to let myself get absorbed into the act of writing, to the point that I really lose my sense of place, time, or anything outside of the words and the thoughts and the keys on the keyboard. But for some time now, I’ve been distracted by real and imagined concerns, pulled in multiple directions, and haven’t let myself get sucked in properly. Therefore I don’t get much writing done, and when I do spend time writing, it doesn’t feel very satisfying because I’m already thinking about what I’m going to do a few minutes from now. I’ve gotten so good at multitasking that I started having trouble with monotasking.
But now that I know (or re-know) that, I know that to get some writing done, I need to mentally set that time aside, stop doing other shit like checking my email or downloading music or washing dishes or playing Guitar Hero, and just fucking write.
And, eight months from now, I will forget this again. Somebody bookmark this entry and remind me.
Oh, I also recently realized that this blog had its FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY last month. I’m old.
Today, Christian fundamentalist demagogue Jerry Falwell died.
He was a horrible person.
Here’s a picture of Falwell in a suit on a waterslide.
In April of 2004, Tony Blair and George W. Bush had a meeting about the Iraq war, in which Blair allegedly had to talk Bush out of bombing the Al-Jazeera TV network.
In May of 2004, a memo summarizing this meeting was leaked by British civil servants David Keogh and Leo O’Connor. Shortly after, Keogh and O’Connor were arrested for violating Britain’s Official Secrets Act.
Last week, the two were convicted and sentenced to short prison terms for making a “damaging disclosure”.
But most bizarrely, the judge in this case issued a gag order which prohibited journalists from mentioning the content of the leaked memo in any article about this court case. News outlets were allowed to say what was in the memo, but any such article would have to be pages away from any article talking about the court case concerning the memo. Even though the content of the memo had already been made public by the whole leaking-it-to-the-media thing.
Which is stupid and fucked up, of course.
But totally in line with the stupid and fucked up logic behind it. Apparently, the “damage” of this disclosure had nothing to do with revealing vital state secrets, but embarassing George W. Bush:
Margaret Beckett, the foreign secretary, hinted that embarrassment was the real issue at stake when she signed a certificate for the court last year. She claimed the disclosure of the document would have a “serious negative impact” on UK-US diplomatic relations. “The ultimate consequence would be a substantial risk of harm to national security.”
The prosecution admitted the leak did not contain any “actual damage”, though it could have put British lives at risk. Martin Howard, a senior Ministry of Defence official, said any damage to British defence operations it might have caused was “short-lived”.
In other words, the British government actually believed that embarassing George Bush threatened the US-UK alliance, and therefore threatened the safety of the British people.
No wonder Bush acts like an emperor; he gets treated as one. For fuck’s sake, governments will throw their own citizens in jail for spreading news of what the president actually said.
- comedia by Patton Oswalt
- government vs. Michael Moore
- confusing Congress action on Iraq
- Plundering Iraqi Oil Part XII
- XM and Sirius: biggest illegal radio pirates ever
- the free market is fucked up
- food subsidies destroy mankind
- the racism of chaos reporting
Music by Gnarls Barkley, Third Base, Swing Kids, Emile Simon, Dog Day, Bill Cosby, Scout Niblett, Franz Ferdinand, Coachwhips, John Legend, Clipse and more.
Yes, I will be doing an LMB radio show today. I think I’ll do it an hour later than usual to enjoy the amazing weather we’ve got this afternoon, so you can listen at 2-4pm PST, or just download it later, like y’all do anyway.
Once upon a time, America was a land of farmers who raised crops to feed their families, and sold or traded away their supluses to other farmers and merchants for other needed goods*. But in present day America, I’d say roughly 95% of Americans don’t produce any of their own food, and might even have trouble preparing meals that didn’t come out of a box. That change wouldn’t necessarily be bad, but frequently where we find ignorance, we find someone screwing someone else for money. With regards to American food, this ignorance results in foods with lower nutritional value, high amounts of harmful ingredients, and higher prices for most of the food we eat.
Part of the increase in American concern and knowledge about food comes from the books and movies that have made an impact. This began with the popular Fast Food Nation book which told America where its burgers and fries came from. It was a nauseating, eye-opener about chemical flavorings, slaughterhouses, meat-packing plants, and the unintended consequences of industrialized meal production for an entire nation. This book was soon followed by the film Super Size Me which again confronted the harmful impact of fast food industries and a fast food culture. In my own research, this book was then followed up by Marion Nestle’s Food Politics, about how the lobbying arms of the food industry shape policy and commonly accepted nutritional standards, and then Christopher Cook’s Diet for a Dead Planet, which I can’t recommend enough. Cook’s book is amazingly broad and amazingly deep in its analysis of the way food is produced, and its shattering consequences. And finally, I’ve read some excellent articles by Michael Pollan, although I haven’t gotten around to reading his best-seller The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
But to tighten our focus slightly, I want to highlight a recent Pollan article about a topic that seems crushingly boring at first: government subsidies for farmers. But as American farm subsidies play a huge role in the ongoing catastrophes of both the American obesity epidemic and global poverty in general, we really need to pay attention.
In his article, Pollan points out that there are five crops which receive huge, huge payouts from the US government: corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, and cotton. None of these five are all that nutritious (particularly the cotton), while healthier produce like broccoli and carrots and such get almost no subsidies. Look at the ingredient label of your nearest foodstuff and you’ll see how this plays out. I randomly grabbed four items out of my cupboard to check:
- box of crackers, includes wheat flour, soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, and wheat germ
- ketchup, includes high fructose corn syrup and regular corn syrup
- can of chili, includes soy flour
- Hamburger Helper**, includes wheat flour, corn starch, corn protein, soybean oil, soy sauce, and corn syrup
Of course, all of these products have many more ingredients than that, but it’s downright eerie how often the corn/wheat/soy shows up, and how rarely any derivatives of other veggies show up. No carrot flour. No broccoli syrup. No mango juice. Just a lot of subsidized, derivatized goodness.
The result? According to Pollan, “real price of fruits and vegetables between 1985 and 2000 increased by nearly 40 percent while the real price of soft drinks (a k a liquid corn) [he means corn syrup] declined by 23 percent.” Calories are cheap and nutrients are ’spensive.
So you’ve got your fucked up health priorities there. Obviously the situation’s a lot more complicated and there are a lot of other factors involved, but there’s a start.
The second catastrophe that these food subsidies is the destruction of foreign agriculture. If you get a jillion dollars in free government money for growing soybeans, you can sell them for much cheaper than the amount it cost to produce those soybeans. And if those subsidies encourage you to grow more soybeans than you can sell domestically (and they do), then you’ve got extra to sell abroad. And if your exported soybeans are competing with local farmers who do not get a jillion dollars in free government money, then your soybeans will sell over your competitors. Then your competitors go bankrupt, and whee, global poverty.
This is happening in Mexico right now, where thanks to the NAFTA free trade treaty, American-grown, American-subsidized, tariff-free corn is driving Mexican corn farmers out of business. About 2 million farmers thrown out of work since 1994. And while some of those ex-farmers found work in the lovely maquiladora sweatshops corporate America thoughtfully set up along the border, many didn’t. And many of those folks decided to risk the border crossing to find some sort of employment in the US. Tell your local Minutemen friends that US farm policy and American tax dollars are the direct cause of illegal immigration and watch their heads explode.
Which brings us back to The Farm Bill. It comes up for a Congressional vote once every five years. 2007 is a five year. Pollan seems to think that this year’s farm bill might be a bit different, as new voices are making themselves heard:
The public-health community has come to recognize it can’t hope to address obesity and diabetes without addressing the farm bill. The environmental community recognizes that as long as we have a farm bill that promotes chemical and feedlot agriculture, clean water will remain a pipe dream. The development community has woken up to the fact that global poverty can’t be fought without confronting the ways the farm bill depresses world crop prices… And then there are the eaters, people like you and me, increasingly concerned, if not restive, about the quality of the food on offer in America.
I wish I had more to say on the subject, or suggestions for how these subsidies should be altered for maximum benefit, but it’s still all fairly new to me. I’ll work on it and get back to you.
* Even before that, America was a land that was vastly uninhabited by humans. And the humans who did live there tended towards more of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle than a farm one.
** For the record, the Hamburger Helper isn’t mine. It’s my roommate’s. Really.
A lot of little funnies cracking me up this week. Maybe some of them aren’t even that great, but I can’t stop giggling about them.
- Earth-Like Planet Discovered. One of those “quotes from fake people on the street” segments in The Onion. This one hit me just right: “How Earth-like? ‘Temperate and able to sustain life’ Earth-like or ‘completely overrun with self-absorbed assholes’ Earth-like?”
- Pizza Hut’s New Pizza. Again from The Onion, don’t want to spoil it, click the link.
- Savage Love. Snarky, weekly sex advice column from Dan Savage, I love this line to a young man who’s attracted to his stepmom: “Ever since Oedipus gouged out his eyes, conventional wisdom has held that it’s better to err on the side of not fucking your father’s wife.”
- Patton Oswalt’s Dukes of Hazzard. Segment from the new album by comedian Patton Oswalt, mashing-up Bush administration corruption with the campy 80s TV show. I’ve heard a lot of this new album, I’ll play some clips on my radio show next week, it actually made me cry with laughter.
- RIP The New Standard
- May 1 LAPD brutality
- general cop provocation tactics
- net radio developments
- attorney general firing scandal blah blah
- traitorous treachery (unless we do it)
- media parrots scare cowardly politicians into keeping the war going
- those fuckers in the media. I hate them
Musically, we’ve got Ministry, Damien Marley, MDC, Jesus and Mary Chain, Mavis Staples, La Plataforma, Refused, Lambchop, Tomahawk, Immortal Technique, Vast Aire & MF Doom, This Machine Kills, Propagandhi, Death from Above 1979, Ladytron, and more.
Also, I’m putting out a call for y’all to email me your favorite song in mp3 format, for a future “all our favorite songs” show. Should be dope. Pick your favorite song, send me the mp3, lmbradio-at-gmail[dot]com. Gracias.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
There’s a big protest. Lots of cops in riot gear standing around, lots of protesters marching, chanting and mingling. Suddenly, the cops are on the move, demanding that the crowd disperse. The confused crowd pauses and asks questions, and the billy clubs, rubber bullets, and tear gas start to fly. After the rally is scattered, with dozens beaten and suffering from their rubber bullet welts and tear gas asthma attacks, the cops then claim that their actions were a “response” to unidentified protesters who allegedly threw rocks or water bottles at the armored officers. As empty bottles and rocks are easily found in most locations, their story seems vaguely plausible. Our brave mainstream journalists then report about the “violence” and “clashes” that occured at the protest, say that no one’s sure what happens, but manage to repeat the police claim that protesters provoked the action. They don’t bother trying to find out what really happened.
Latest iteration, Los Angeles, May 1, 2007
First of all, I doubt that anybody threw shit at the cops, mainly because I see this excuse used so frequently. But it also helps to note that these cops were from LAPD’s Rampart Division, who’ve got a reputation for lies, corruption, and violence. On top of that, I have now read several first-hand accounts claiming it was the other way around, that it wasn’t protesters trying to provoke cops, but cops trying to provoke protesters.
Secondly, how can anyone pretend that water bottles thrown at cops in riot gear justifies the forced removal of 25,000 people from a public park with tear gas and beatings? It doesn’t, and it’s bullshit.
As you no doubt have heard, today was the fourth anniversary of George W. Bush’s galling propaganda photo op in which he dressed up like a military pilot and declared “Mission Accomplished” atop an aircraft carrier. In honor of this occasion, I will recreate the two entries I posted on the actual day of that event, with much anger, sarcasm, and gnashing of teeth.
May 1, 2003
[Three Fictional Heroes]
May 1, 2003
My feelings towards George W. Bush usually hold steady at a cold, sullen anger, but today’s brass-balled manipulation have fanned it to a clenched-jawed fury. I hate lies, I hate exploitation, and I hate it when people let themselves fall for both the former. But since Bush’s heart pumps deceit like others’ pump blood, American lives are condemned to gullibility, repressed rage, or outright violence for the duration of his presidency.
The bullshit got an early start here in San Diego, where I’ve spent most of my days lately (long story, don’t ask). Regular TV programming cut off a little after 10am. “Oh, this must be the Bush speech I’d been hearing about,” I thought. Not so. The local networks felt that it was of vital importance that they show footage of Bush’s plane, Air Force One, landing at a San Diego airport, eight hours before he was scheduled to give his speech. And it wasn’t even good footage, just some cameraman on a beach a dozen miles away, aiming his lens at distant, blurry jetliner. A number of people were gathered on this beach, I guess to see the plane land from their best available vantage point (or possibly in hopes that if they stood near the TV cameras long enough, that they might get their picture in the news).
I was pleased when the TV reporter initially chose the wrong person to interview.
“Sir, why are you here today?” she asked, clearly hoping for an effusive display.
“I was out running,” he replied, “and I stopped to see why all these people were here.”
“So now that you’ve seen it, what do you think?” she asked, a bit breathlessly.
“Well, it’s just a plane being flown by your average airline pilot. No big deal, really.”
Thank you good sir.
But of course, the reporter did manage to track someone down to talk about how exciting it was to watch a plane land.
What followed was so much manipulative drivel I can barely stand it.
President Bush was going to give a speech to announce that major combat in Iraq was over. A pretty unnecessary thing to do, as anyone who’s turned on the TV or read a newspaper in the past two weeks knows that. Perhaps Bush was giving this speech to boost his popularity? Nah.
But it didn’t stop there. Bush decided to give this speech ON AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER. As you are aware, most presidential speeches are given behind desks or lecterns in various buildings around Washington DC, and not on the decks of nuclear-powered waterborne fortresses. But, if he gave his speech there, he would be surrounded by soldiers and weapons and look properly manly and imperial.
But it went two steps further. First, BUSH ARRIVED ON THE CARRIER IN A FIGHTER JET. He could’ve taken a helicopter or boat to the aircraft carrier, but instead chose to be flown there by a soldier in a combat aircraft. And, as you can see in the picture in the blog entry below, instead of simply being flown there in his usual suit and tie, Bush wore a military flight suit.
Bush got to look as though he was an actual fucking soldier who won the fucking war, even though all he did was sit in his office and say “go kill the bastards!” He got to look like a war hero even though he apparently deserted the National Guard back in the 1970s. What a fucking prick. His arrogance gland is going to run out of arrogance fluid, and he’s going to need a replacement, that he’ll probably take from the corpse of some veteran who’s benefits Bush cut.
And to cap it all off, the perfect ending to a miserable day, was Bush’s speech. It pretty much said what you’d expect, praising the brave men and women who risked Iraqi lives so that the Iraqis could live freely under American military occupation, with liberty and justice for oil. Saddam is bad, democracy is good, and America is even better.
But the icing on this cake of shit:
The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We’ve removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more.
HE’S STILL CLAIMING THAT IRAQ WAS WORKING WITH AL QAEDA!!!!
But now that he’s here in sunny California, it seems that Bush is going to go speak to his constituents out here, American military contractors. According to AP, this is part of a re-election strategy to “[bridge] the seemingly disparate themes of the economy and national security.” Of course, the message that sends me is that the only thing keeping the national economy afloat is massive government purchases of high tech weaponry that we’ve been frightened into thinking we need to protect us from the terrorist hordes abroad. But that could just be my formidable understanding of politics and economics talking.
I will go now, because it’s late, and I still have to bang my head against a wall several hundred times before going to bed.