....LMB: "Jake at the RNC: Day One"....

September 11, 2004

...wherein Jake takes the redeye to New York City and groggily attends a pro-choice march

August 27

It began with two tiny dogs.

One of them was at the curb as we pulled up to the Burbank airport. It was the size of a large ball of yarn. Well, a large ball of yarn with bangs. Adorable as fuck.

The second tiny dog was on the plane, its tiny Chihuahua head poking out of a woman's carryon. "Do we need to get him any water or anything?" asked the stewardess. The tiny dog panted, but his owner said no.

I have to recommend the Burbank airport (AKA "Bob Hope Airport") to all Angelenos, unless you live in or near west LA. Burbank was empty and laid-back, the dead opposite of the nightmare that is LAX.

Took the tiny plane up to San Francisco late Friday afternoon. Saw one of the most fascinating sunsets I've ever seen out the windows: red, yellow and brown. No meal, just a cookie snack, which caused another bizarre moment. The stewardesses began to hand out the mint chocolate chip cookies to the passengers from front to back of the plane. As the passengers received their snacks, opened the packages, and bit into them one by one, a mint smell began to inch its way towards me. You ever have a smell roll in like a slow-moving fog bank?

Had a two hour layover in San Fran. I was quite pleased walking around the airport, people-watching, browsing the shops, chewing on bagels. Jesus, if Iím having a grand old time at an airport, I really need to get out more.

Long flight from SF to NYC, I'll arrive at the crack of dawn. I was unable to find a comfortable sleeping position, so the flight was an unpleasant combo of naps, startled wakings, and grumpily watching "Garfield the Movie." You ever watch a movie and actually feel insulted? Yeah.

I stayed with a friend of mine near Times Square. Before I'd left, she'd said that once I got in, I could nap a bit before any protests got started. No such luck. Took a bus into Manhattan, and had to leave for a protest within two hours. Sigh.

August 28

Before we left, I heard about the Critical Mass protest the night before. CM is a monthly event that takes place in many cities, where people just hop on bikes and take over a lane or two of traffic. Sometimes there is an underlying political motive-usually to make a point about cyclists' rights, or about the damage caused by car culture-and sometimes there isn't. At this pre-RNC Critical Mass, somewhere between 5000-8000 protesters on bicycles took to the streets, and police arrested around 250 of them for "disorderly conduct." About 1000 New Yorkers cheered them on as they began their ride.

Then it was off to the "March for Women's Lives", a protest against the Bush administration's anti-abortion and often anti-female policies. It started around 11 this morning at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn. Somehow, this was a protest I had not heard about in advance. My friend was doing legal support for much of the convention, and this protest was no exception.

The Brooklyn park was starting to fill up with people even as we arrived. The sunshine was nice, the heat and humidity less so. My first glimpse of the protest was the Radical Cheerleaders, a group of activists who dress up like cheerleaders and do humorous dance routines and chants about political issues. They performed cheers mocking pro-lifers, and just about every member of the Bush administration.

Walking farther along, we saw the stage where the opening rally would take place. Thousands were already in attendance, many with mass produced signs reading "I [heart] Pro-Choice NY." But there was plenty of message variety, possibly the funniest being the ones which argued that Bush should be "aborted before the second term."

I should take this time to mention that protest signs which make jokes about George Bush and pubic hair are not very funny.

We saw the mass of cops, out to protect the city from the dangerous pro-choice activists, as well as a contingent of undercover cops. I guess I don't know for sure that they were undercover, but at least four different people pointed them out to me. I mean, several beefy guys in crewcuts and baseball jerseys, at a pro-choice rally, not paying attention to the speeches, not holding signs, and only talking to each other. Did seem a tad suspicious. But this became a sort of theme throughout the convention: what's reasonable and what's paranoid?

The numbers grew.

Several speakers took the stage, most of them protest organizers and city politicians. Then they made ready to march across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Earlier in the day, we'd heard a rumor that some anti-abortion protesters were planning to fuck with the rally somehow, on the other side of the bridge, and that some of the pro-choicers had vowed to fight back if attacked. That's primarily why my legal support friend was there, to watch out for trouble. I followed the observers, who bypassed the bridge altogether to be ready. Actually, this was a much more difficult task than anticipated, due to rather arbitrary police blockades. But in the end, it put me in a great position to watch the procession.

The police only allowed the protests a thin strip of road to march upon, so the protesters crossed the bridge in a thin, steady stream lasting roughly 45 years. Or two hours. I forget.

I saw representatives from all sorts of groups, some well-known, some mysterious: Planned Parenthood, Med Students for Choice, Refuse & Resist, National Organization for Women, Secular and Religious Jews for Choice, Queer Fist, Move On, Asian Americans for Choice, and countless others.

The sign that best summed up the issue for me was the one that read "Keep Your Religion Out of My Health Care."

As it turned out, there was no conflict. In a rather pathetic display, the anti-choice folks could only muster up maybe 40 people to counter the thousands of pro-choice activists at the rally, and they didn't attack anybody.

The march ended in a rally that I didn't feel like watching. I was dead tired. While sitting on a bench watching the marchers go by, I think I'd fallen into brief, grumbly sleep about five times.

To be honest, I can't remember what happened the rest of the day. I think it primarily consisted of me going back to Home Base and passing out, while my friend continued to try to get people out of prison.

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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

Both projects focus on our media-marinated world, political lies, corporate tyranny, and the folks fighting the good fight against these monsters.

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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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