Lying Media Bastards

March 31, 2008

Bleach

Number one box office draw this weekend, is the movie “21″. It’s based on a true story of a group of MIT students who use their math skills to scam casinos and make lots of money. Unfortunately, it seems that the ringleaders of this scam were all Asian-Americans, but these three characters miraculously become white on the silver screen. Even worse, the students’ ethnicity was integral to their plans. They felt that young white guys blowing a million dollars at the casino would look suspicious, while rich Asian youths with money to burn would seem less so, due to stereotypes of rich foreign tourists. They were going touse these stereotypes to their advantage. Meaning that to the filmmakers actually had to change the plot of the film so that they could successfully whitewash the Asian characters. That’s how important it was to them to make sure the main characters were white.

Of course, this is because movie studio executives assume that the predominantly white American movie audience wants to see white people on screen instead of characters from other racial groups. Are they right to think this? Or can white audiences get behind films with casts where whites are a minority, or absent altogether?

Posted by Jake on March 31, 2008 1:05 pm

March 24, 2008

Obviousness on the Record

This morning, on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, ABC’s Good Morning America aired an interview with Vice President Cheney on the war. During the segment, Cheney flatly told White House correspondent Martha Raddatz that he doesn’t care about the American public’s views on the war:

CHENEY: On the security front, I think there’s a general consensus that we’ve made major progress, that the surge has worked. That’s been a major success.

RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.

CHENEY: So?

RADDATZ: So? You don’t care what the American people think?

CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.

Well, we already knew that, but it’s nice to have him say it on camera.

And he’s right, you can’t be blown off course by fluctuations in polls. But since the majority of Americans have steadily opposed this war for over two years straight, you can’t exactly call these figures a “fluctuation”.

Posted by Jake on March 24, 2008 7:38 am

March 22, 2008

History Comes Alive!

Although I started the Lying Media Bastards blog in April of 2002, you can really only access posts going back to December 2005. This is due to a software upgrade I installed at that time, which was unable to import all of those old entries for some reason. The old posts are, and always have been available here, in an archives directory of the website, but they are hard to navigate/interpret/read.

Just recently, I have figured out an imperfect way to re-incorporate those archives into the blog, so I’ve begun that process. At this point, I’ve restored the entries from April 2002 through April 2003 (and ran into some new problems with those entries, sigh). I’ll try to get those up in the next week or so. With everyone reflecting on the five years of war in Iraq, it seems useful to have all those past entries available.

Anyhow, those old entries can be viewed here. I’ve also added a link to archives in the first set of links in the upper right column if you want to view them at a later date.

In addition, I made separate pages for my “special report”, when I travelled to NYC for the Republican National Convention protests in 2004. You can find those here. With many photos.

Posted by Jake on March 22, 2008 10:07 am

March 16, 2008

LMB Radio 03-16-08

LMB Radio 03-16-08

“Huh? He’s doing radio again?”

- Iraq: a nightmare, wrapped in a tragedy, wrapped in a farce
- neocons: even more batshit crazy than you guessed
- recommendations: The Power of Nightmares documentary, DMZ the book, It’s a Jungle Out There the book
- Obama Muslim rumor: it’s not a smear, it’s bigotry
- Music by Manu Chao, Santogold, and DJ Doc Rok

Had the epiphany earlier today that I could do radio shows in much less time if I gritted my teeth and left out my beloved background music. I look forward to the day when I have more spare time and can do my show in what I consider a proper fashion, but till then, maybe I can produce some of these short, stripped-down shows on a regular basis.

Also: I really need to stop doing “Iraq is so bad that…” posts and shows. It’s fucking bad. You know that. Do you need to know how bad?

The Power of Nightmares available for watching online here, transcripts here: Part I, Part II, andPart III.

Posted by Jake on March 16, 2008 9:48 pm

March 15, 2008

Bye Bye Hessians

Wow, a little bit of good local news for us San Diego folks. Blackwater USA, America’s favorite brand of mercenary, has been planning to construct and run a training camp in the rural San Diego county town of Potrero. This plan has been opposed by a dedicated group of activists, but San Diego is a pretty military-friendly town, I never knew how popular or unpopular the project would be.

But last week, Blackwater announced that they would no longer seek to build their training camp in Potrero. The activists are claiming victory, Blackwater is claiming that their decision is solely due to financial concerns and noise regulations, and I wonder how much last summer’s wildfires that tore through Potrero might have helped their decision along.

Any way you slice it, this is good news. Let’s keep an eye out for their next proposed base, and try to stop that one too.

Posted by Jake on March 15, 2008 10:22 am

March 14, 2008

There Is No Gaia

Handy chart that tells which major corporations own your favorite organic foods. True, organic farming produces food using methods less likely to kill the sun or turn topsoil to toxin, but it’s also a jillion dollar industry, which means some pasty, cigar-chomping capitalist with a monocle and a waistcoat will need to get his monied fingers all over it.

Posted by Jake on March 14, 2008 4:14 pm

Glamorous

“I must say, I’m a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed. It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger.”

- George W. Bush, to US personnel in Afghanistan, March 13, 2008

Posted by Jake on March 14, 2008 10:08 am

March 11, 2008

Bringing Aspirin to the Autopsy

US ally Turkey has invaded and bombed Iraq again last week.

The president of US enemy, Iran, visited Iraq last week, where he was warmly received by the Iraqi government.

Whose side are we on again?

I watched the documentary No End in Sight this weekend, a powerful and sobering film about some of the key decisions that led to the Iraq war, and the subsequent ruin of an occupation. If you’ve read Imperial Life in the Emerald City, not too much of the movie will surprise you, but it’s definitely worth a watch (and the book is worth a read). The one fact from the film that did take me aback was the time spent planning the post-war occupation of Iraq. The film tells you that prior to defeating Germany in WWII, the US government spent two years planning the eventual occupation of that country. How much time did the Bush administration spend planning the Iraqi occupation? 60 days, says the film, and even that answer gets undercut when members of that agency admit that they didn’t even meet until 10 days after they were hired, had a miniscule staff, and almost no resources.

The story of the Iraq war, is a simple one, really. A small group of arrogant idiots in the White House thought that they could spread “democracy” through the Middle East by replacing dictator Saddam Hussein with con man Ahmed Chalabi. By “spread” we mean “intimidate existing leaders and encourage coups against others” and by “democracy” we mean “any form of government that is friendly to US foreign policy and foreign corporate profit-lust.” I sometimes see this group of idiots (aka “neocons”) referred to as “reckless utopians”, as though we should applaud their intentions while weeping at the costs of their naivetie. But their intentions were not good, they were the same as so many people in power: the masses are sheep who should be controlled for the “greater good”; “leaders” like themselves are better than the rest of humanity; millions or billions of regular people may have to suffer or die to maintain “order”; since the leaders do such hard and important work, they deserve whatever power, perks and wealth they desire; and if the leaders can get away with all this, then the masses prove themselves to be the inferiors, and deserve whatever abuse and exploitation gets ladled out. That’s not utopian, that’s crass, ravenous, self-serving arrogance.

So that’s the story of the Iraq war. Powerful people who think they’re better than you and me decided that they could best maintain their dominance over other powerful people with deceit and slaughter.

Of course, discussing what got us into this war is sort of moot when compared to the question of what we should do in Iraq now, with its mountain of errors and rivers of carnage. And even that question is moot, as any answers provided by you and me won’t match up with the needs and goals of the folks in power who actually choose the policy.

Last batch of statistics I read said that around 70% of Iraqis want the US forces to leave their country. Many American politicians would quickly declare that if the US pulls out of Iraq, it will be a bloodbath. And it will certainly be terrible, no doubt about that. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Iraqi people, who know the situation far better than any senator or analyst in DC, still want the US to leave. And while large numbers of Americans are opposed to the war, a significant number seem to feel that we shouldn’t leave Iraq yet, either because it’s not right to leave the mess that we created, or because leaving without “finishing the job” will mean that the sacrifice and death of so many US soldiers was in vain.

Of course, the wishes of the Iraqi people should trump the wishes of the American public and American soldiers when it comes to what should happen in Iraq. Tragically, American soldiers were duped by this government, told that they were out to help the citizens of Iraq when the government did not really care about their desires and well-being (and increasingly shows that they don’t care about the well-being of the soldiers, either). Part of me is sympathetic, and does not want those soldiers and their families to have to accept these bleak and painful truths. But it is clear that the situation of Iraq is worse in by every conceivable measure since the invasion. And while it’s still possible for the US to do a little bit of good in Iraq, I don’t think it will be accomplished with bullets.

I don’t feel much need to address the “surge is working” point of view, but maybe I should. The “surge” was intended to reduce the violence in Baghdad so that political progress could be made in the Iraqi government. Violence dropped, but that was mostly due to the face that one side won. The Shia effectively control the city, and Baghdad has been ethnically cleansed. That’s why the civilian deaths are down. The reason US military deaths are down is a) Moqtada al-Sadr called a cease-fire between his Mahdi army and the US, b) the US is now working more through personnel-safe airstrikes, and c) the US has temporarily bought off the Sunni insurgency so that they’ll fight Al Qaeda in Iraq instead of American soldiers. But every savvy reporter that has spent time on the ground in Iraq says that Iraq does not really exist any more as a country, that the Iraqi government is a fiction, and that the Shia-Sunni civil war will likely re-ignite sometime between spring and fall.

How exactly are US troops going to fix this mess? Especially when the US government that gives them their marching orders has no real interest in actually helping the people we’ve fucked over?

Posted by Jake on March 11, 2008 8:37 am

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