Lying Media Bastards

October 29, 2002

Can't Stay Away

Hopefully my last post till I leave.

War and peace- a really good blog entry by Tom Tomorrow about war, anti-war, the media, politics, deception and human rights. It's also full of links to other excellent--and scary--news articles.

Journalist Cronkite warns against potential war- ancient journalistics touchstone Walter Cronkite warns that a war on Iraq could lead to WWIII. Also has a fun quote about low voter turnout and a lack of political knowledge among citizens- "That means we donít have a democracy. Weíve got an oligarchy here, not a democracy. Our democracy is in some danger if we donít concentrate on educating the populace."

Making a Killing: The Business of War- 11 part series by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists about privately-owned military companies and their role in promoting war (full series not available till Nov. 20). Yes, you should be scared.

Posted by Jake at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)


The poor get worked
The rich get richer
The world gets worse
Do you get the picture?
The poor gets dead
The rich get depressed
The ugly get mad
The pretty get stressed
The ugly get violent
The pretty get gone
The old get stiff
The young get stepped on
Whoever told you that it was all good lied
So throw your fists up if you not satisfied

J-Live , Satisfied

Posted by Jake at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)


I'm out of town for the next buncha days. I might bring my laptop with me and do an entry or two, or I might say "fuck work" and leave the laptop in its cage at the homestead. If ya need news and blogs, go check m'links.

Posted by Jake at 08:02 AM | Comments (0)

LMB Playlist 10-28-02

Atari Teenage Riot- Revolution Action
Eminem- Lose Yourself
Cursive- The Martyr
J-Live- Satisfied?
Attrition- Cage
The Catheters- Nothing
Venetian Snares- Dollmaker
Jake on the sniper coverage
Scapegoat Wax- Almost Fine
Against Me- Baby, I'm an Anarchist
Interpol- NYC
Jefferson Airplane- White Rabbit
Mindless Self Indulgence- Bitches
The Liars- Mr. Your on Fire Mr.
Deseparacidos- Happiest Place on Earth
Jake on SUVs and anal rape
Refused- New Noise
Public Enemy- Son of a Bush
Bill Hicks- Hooligans
Tiger Army- Incorporeal
Mr. Lif- Home of the Brave
Flogging Molly- Devil's Dance Floor
Jake on Russia v. Chechnya
Prince- Kiss
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Mystery Girl
The Magnetic Fields- Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits
System of a Down- War

Posted by Jake at 08:00 AM | Comments (1)

October 28, 2002

Islam vs. Islam

I have some answers to some questions I asked in an LMB entry on Friday about the DC sniper. The mainstream media mentioned that he had converted to Islam after the Gulf War, and then implied a link to Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam organization. Although they use much of the same terminology and both call their members "Muslims," the two religions, Islam and Nation of Islam are very different, which begs the question "which kind of Muslim was John Muhammad?"

This is an important question to ask. If Muhammad was a "regular" Muslim, some of the speculation about his ties to anti-American Islamic fundamentalist groups like Al Qaeda would be reasonable. If Muhammad was a Nation of Islam Muslim, then his motives might be better traced to black militants in the United States.

We have a few answers. Farrakhan held a press conference this weekend where he admitted that John Muhammad was a member of the Nation of Islam since 1997. He also said that if Muhammad is guilty of these crimes, that he will be kicked out of the NOI.

My main concern in all this is that the sniper's link to "Islam" is just one more piece of imprecise evidence to support the widespread belief that "Muslims are violent," the sort of stereotype that is not very helpful to your average Muslim, American or otherwise. If John Muhammad was not a member of the Islamic faith, then maybe that piece of "evidence" can be excised. Or maybe it would be too late.

But honestly, I don't know if there are any religious, or political motivations for this crime. Didn't the sniper's note to the cops demand a $10 million payment to stop his killing spree? In the final analysis, was this all about making a buck?

Posted by Jake at 09:59 AM | Comments (4)

Global Unity

A few weeks back, I posted a link to the satirical Buy Bush a PlayStation 2 Campaign website. The site argued that President Bush simply needed the catharsis of video game warfare to cool his bloodlust would, and then the nations of the world could breathe a sigh of relief.

Well guess what?

The Campaign has been a success. Real live human beings donated enough money to buy a PS2 and the realistic military game "SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals". But money kept pouring in, and they now have almost enough to buy the more appropriate "Conflict: Desert Storm" video game, and an extra joystick so that Dick Cheney can play too.

I'm not sure what to say about all that.


Posted by Jake at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2002

Hitting the Trifecta


Marines Ordered into Colombia

"Two battalions of US Marine Jungle Expeditionary Forces have recently received deployment orders for insertion into Colombia this coming February, 2003."

It's from Narco News, and they usually know their stuff.

It's currently estimated that the U.S. will be attacking Iraq sometime in January. It's also unlikely that the U.S. will be completely out of Afghanistan by February. Meaning that the U.S. will be running operations in (at least) three countries simultaneously.

"We here at the Office of Homeland Security can't actually make you safer since our military is constantly invading and infuriating all kinds of unstable foreigners! But with our new National Valium Program, you won't care!"

Posted by Jake at 02:53 AM | Comments (2)

Lies, Parrots and Brainwashing

Retropoll is a new organization that seeks to "investigate, expose, and challenge bias in corporate medial polling." So far I think they have performed one small national poll about the war on terrorism, which honestly looks more like a questionaire designed to shape public opinion more than to measure it.

But their data analysis does show one interesting result. The respondents who supported a war on Iraq were frequently the same ones who thought that there was evidence that Iraq had worked with Al Qaeda. And a high percentage of those who opposed the war thought that there was little to no evidence that Iraq had worked with Al Qaeda.

The analysts argue that many war supporters are victims of false government propaganda, and that media misinformation is having a large impact on public opinion.

["Although," says Jake, donning his social scientist hat, "there is no proof that the beliefs about Iraq-Al Qaeda evidence are the direct cause of the respondents' support or opposition to the war. Perhaps war supporters are more likely to believe that there is evidence that supports their position, while war detractors are more likely to believe that their opponents' position has no factual support."]

But I'm going to work on Retropoll's assumptions here for a minute.

I have re-shaped my opinion of reporters in the past year. I don't see them as villains anymore. The news media doesn't do that much "lying," but more often just repeat the lies that they have been told. For example, when a reporter quotes someone and says "today the president stated that 'two plus two equals five'", the reporter isn't lying. The reporter is telling the truth, that person did say those words. But the words are a lie, and reporters usually leave those lies unchallenged. I'd prefer a world where the reporter then continued "but our research shows that the president's claim is false." I'm sick and tired of reporters refusing to draw any conclusions, even when they're obvious and in plain sight.

But if the Retropoll people are right, this "truthfully reporting lies" style of coverage has an effect. It doesn't matter that the reporters didn't actually tell us that there is evidence of an Iraq-Al Qaeda link; their repetition of the White House's claim has convinced people that such evidence exists. And (according to Retropoll) that erroneous conviction is directly supporting public opinion about a monumental government policy decision. Which sort of makes the public into puppets and the reporters our strings. The liars call the tune and we dance on command, with a little help from the press.

Truthful media bastards.

Posted by Jake at 02:38 AM | Comments (0)


I sure hope this guy they caught is indeed the DC sniper.

A lot is being said as the 24-hour news networks scramble to interview everyone who's ever known, talked to, or heard rumors about Muhammad and Malvo. As always, you have to wait for the dust to settle on breaking news. Everything looks kosher so far, but always remember how those "Florida terrorists" turned out to be innocent med students who's only crime was eating lunch in the same restaurant as a paranoiac.

Noticed a few strange things in's coverage.

"He described Muhammad as a strong believer in Islam who attended the Million Man March in Washington in 1995.

The Associated Press reported that a former neighbor of Muhammad's said he provided security at the march, which was organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Nation of Islam officials in Chicago had no immediate comment, according to the AP."

This is just confusing. The AP said that a guy who used to live near Muhammad said that Muhammad in some way "provided security" for the Million Man March. Was he hired as a security guard? Was he a self-appointed keeper of the peace? Does he have any relationship to Farrakhan at all?

Then we've got a bit of confusion when the news reports say that Muhammad converted to Islam, and then mentions the Nation of Islam. The religious beliefs of mainstream Islam and the Nation of Islam are vastly different. Frankly, NOI seems more of a political movement than a religion. As I understand it, NOI is a black supremacist theology which wildly diverges from the Qu'ran. Which kind of "Muslim" was Muhammad the sniper?

"The Seattle Times also reported that federal sources told the newspaper that Muhammad and Malvo were known to speak sympathetically about the September 11 hijackers and may have been motivated by anti-American sentiment."

"Federal sources?" Federal sources are currently telling me that Saddam Hussein is a threat. Federal sources tell me that the economy is doing just fine. If all you've got are vague allegations from "federal sources," keep your damn mouth shut and come back when you've got something resembling reliable evidence.

I'm just afraid that these allegations are going to be the final bit of "proof" that many Americans needed to justify their fears of Muslims. Any protests that this guy's actions don't mean that all Muslims are dangerous will frequently be met with "how many of us do these Muslims have to kill before you wake up?"

Posted by Jake at 02:34 AM | Comments (1)

October 22, 2002

Keepin It Real

"This is a commercial enterprise. This is not PBS. We're not here as a public service. We're here to make money. We sell advertising and we do it on the premise that people are going to watch. If you don't cover the miners because you want to do a story about a debt crisis in Brazil at the time everybody else is covering the miners, then Citibank calls up and says 'you know what? We're not renewing the commerical contract.' I mean it's a business."

- CNN anchor Jack Cafferty (American Morning, 8/5/02) [via FAIR]

Posted by Jake at 10:00 PM | Comments (3)

Port Authority

Remember the "dockworkers' strike" that happened several weeks ago here on the California coast that ended with Bush ordering the workers to return to their jobs? David Bacon does (all quotes below from Bacon's article)

"On the surface, it seems incomprehensible why the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), made up of shipping and stevedoring companies, would need a federal order to open the gates of the closed terminals. After all, they'd shut them themselves, and could have opened them at any time during the 10 days they'd locked out their own employees. Even at the end of that period, the workers had accepted a Department of Labor proposal that they go back to their jobs for 30 days, under their old labor agreement."

So there's common knowledge error #1 about this conflict. We've been told over and over that it was a strike, when in reality it was a lockout. The work stoppage is 100% the fault of the PMA, not striking workers. According to the PMA, they locked the workers out because they claim that the workers had organized a "slowdown," not quite a strike, but a lesser strategy employees can use against their employers. However, "according to the Journal of Commerce, 30 percent more cargo was crossing the docks than last year -- the greatest volume in history. In fact, the speedup on the docks was so strong that the accident rate shot up, costing the lives of five longshoremen since January. When the union told its members to work at a safe speed, the PMA called it a slowdown."

While Bacon is clearly a pro-labor journalist, he usually takes the good with the bad. Obviously the "working safer" explanation could be a lame excuse by the union, but if it were, Bacon would usually call them on it. So I'm going to buy Bacon's version of events, that the accusations of "slowdown" were false.

So what was this conflict all about?

"The PMA wanted two things. It sought a guarantee that the workers could be forced to continue unloading ships through the next two months, the peak of the shipping season, when the goods traveling from the sweatshops of the eastern Pacific Rim are en route to stores for the Christmas rush. And it wanted the union made so vulnerable that it would be unable to put any pressure on employers during negotiations and forced to accept a settlement on the association's terms.

For the PMA, the Taft-Hartley injunction is a step in a well-ordered campaign that has unfolded with inexorable precision since last spring. And its success in using the power of the federal government to tilt the collective-bargaining process completely in employers' favor should be a wake-up call to every union in the country. If it succeeds on the West Coast docks, the same strategy will appear in bargaining in industry after industry. Unions that are already suffering from declining membership will see their power to bargain drastically eroded as well."

Oh yeah. Class warfare.

Posted by Jake at 09:39 PM | Comments (1)

October 21, 2002

Well I'll Be Damned

Guess I won't be doing my radio show today. I can't get down to the studio because SOMEONE STOLE MY CAR BATTERY.

How wierd is that?

Looks like someone pried one of the windows to the side, unlocked the doors, and then made off with a handful of CDs and my battery. I'm not too upset, mainly because I know how much worse it could have been. The car's still there, no windows smashed, the car stereo still in the dash, just lost a bunch of CDs I never listened to anyway. Don't know how much car batteries cost these days. Last time I bought one I think it was 50 or 60 dollars.

I'm just grumbly irritated, but mostly baffled.

How much money you gonna make selling a very used Honda car battery?

Posted by Jake at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

Morning Satire

Bush Accuses Iraq of Hiding Nuclear Weapons in North Korea

The real president Bush is mad because he didn't think of it first.

Posted by Jake at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)

Absentee Blogger

Hey folks.

Sorry LMB has been a little scant lately. Not only are work deadlines suddenly drawing close, but I've spent the past week trying to fight off a fairly nasty cold. Not a fun combo, and this coming week looks to be just as busy (although hopefully not as germ-ridden). I'll probably manage to pop off a few entries, but I'll post some of my recommended substitutes, as seems to be the norm among political blog folk:

Cursor (Read Cursor every day. Seriously)
Common Dreams NewsCenter
Politics in the Zeros

And I suppose now would be the perfect time for a media critic like myself to write about the irresponsible press and the public panic they have induced via their coverage of the DC sniper. But I don't have the time, and it should be perfectly obvious, right?


But I will find time to do my radio show Monday, although due to the cold it'll probably be mostly music. Kill Radio has finally moved into our new home, and it's pretty sweet. I'll probably rebroadcast my interview with Garrick in the next two or three weeks.

Posted by Jake at 12:41 AM | Comments (2)

October 16, 2002

Ground Rules

It might surprise some of you to find that I rarely argue with people about politics.

I feel that if you get to the point of "arguing" with someone, both parties are probably so attached to their points of view that no one is going to convince anyone of anything. If your "argument" is really more of a debate or discussion, that's fine, either of you might learn something. But if you're just yelling at each other while not budging an inch, then you're really both wasting your time.

Which is why I just state my opinion, and leave it at that.

One key aspect of "arguing" about an issue is that each side will find their most compelling train of thought or piece of evidence that supports their position, and insist that this one portion of the debate is the most (or only) crucial factor. And of course, each side will seek to minimize or ignore their oppoenents' strongest case.

Example: abortion arguments. Pro-choice people say "women should have control over their own bodies," but ignore their opponents "abortion is murder" arguments. And vice-versa. Which of course doesn't really lead to any increased understanding for anyone. Many of America's long-standing political arguments continue unabated because they have a lot of complicated, messy, grey areas. If they didn't, they would've been resolved already.

Lately I've been seeing a similar trend of highlight/ignore in agruments (especially among bloggers) about the war on Iraq. So I'm setting up some rules. If you argue about the war without following these rules, I'm not going to bother reading it.

If you are arguing in favor of the war- it's fine for you to go on and on about Saddam Hussein's atrocities and how the world would be a better place without him. But you must then justify the massive loss of innocent Iraqi life that is bound to come from an US invasion. And, for extra bonus points, explain why the US should invade Iraq for the good of the Iraqi people when those same people seem to oppose a US invasion (extras special bonus points if you find evidence that the Iraqi people actually do support an invasion).

If you are arguing against the war- go ahead and talk about the probable casualties that will come with the war, but make sure to explain how the Iraqi people living under a tyranny is a good thing (or is better than the U.S.-instituted government that will come later).

Of course, alternate and more complex arguments are available, but these are the two most common and most irritating that I have seen.

And anyone--ANYONE--who says something like "it is a sad fact that people die in war" is off the team.

Posted by Jake at 11:33 PM | Comments (7)

October 15, 2002

And Now, a Word from Our Sponsor

Product "A" is better than Product "B"

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Choose product loyalty above loyalty to others

Thank you, and goodnight.

Posted by Jake at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2002

Happy Columbus Day

If you're reading this site, there's a good chance that you've read Howard Zinn's book A People's History of the United States. And if you have, this won't be anything new to you.

Zinn went back to the primary documents, Christopher Columbus' personal diaries, and the writings of Bartolome de Las Casas, a priest who lived among Columbus and his men in the New World. And the results aren't pretty for anyone who is a fan of Columbus.

Some relevant passages from an article Zinn wrote on the subject:

In his quest for gold, Columbus, seeing bits of gold among the Indians, concluded there were huge amounts of it. He ordered the natives to find a certain amount of gold within a certain period of time. And if they did not meet their quota, their arms were hacked off. The others were to learn from this and deliver the gold.


But Columbus could not obtain enough gold to send home to impress the King and Queen and his Spanish financiers, so he decided to send back to Spain another kind of loot: slaves. They rounded up about 1200 natives, selected 500, and these were sent, jammed together, on the voyage across the Atlantic. Two hundred died on the way, of cold, of sickness.

And we have a national holiday to commemorate this guy's first day in the New World.

On a similar theme, we have today's column by our pal Geov Parrish. Maybe, at least one day a year, Americans can spend a little time thinking about the country's past and present relations with the Native people living here.

I've got a bigger, broader take on this that I'm writing, I'll try to post it tomorrow.

Posted by Jake at 11:38 PM | Comments (6)

Daily Assortment

Was today a holiday? I'm self-employed and work out of my apartment, so I lose track of holidays, weekends, weekdays, and other markings of the passage of time.

Nike Asks Supreme Court to Overturn Calif. Ruling- the Nike corporation claims that it has the First Amendment right to lie to consumers about its business practices.

Clean Lies, Dirty Wars- "The media in their enthusiasm had labeled Desert Storm a 'clean war.' The years I've spent as a weapons system analyst told me otherwise, as did Desert Storm veterans I'd interviewed, who spoke of civilian slaughter and brought home photographs of blackened corpses melted by depleted uranium--bodies nicknamed 'crispy critters' by soldiers. And so I set out to uncover the dirty lie."

Reuters, Your Bias is Showing- quick blog entry by Politics in the Zeros that shows two nearly identical stories by the Reuters news agency, but with telling differences...

Iraqi Opposition Appalled by Occupation Plan- Iraqi dissidents aren't real pleased with the Bush administration's "after we kill Saddam Hussein, let's turn Iraq into a U.S.-run military state for a while" strategem.

Activists crash TRL- "Eight NYU students crashed the stage of [MTV's extremely popular show] Total Request Live yesterday, disrupting the show with an anti-war demonstration and angering Limp Bizkitís Fred Durst. The students, clad in white T-shirts with the words 'No war on Iraq' stenciled in green and orange spraypaint, hit the stage two separate times, interrupting the broadcast." The kids are alright.

Sharon Calls for Palestinian Change- Israeli PM Ariel Sharon calls on the Palestinian people to overthrow Yasser Arafat, because evidently his leadership is the cause of all Palestinian suffering, not the Israeli bullets and bombs.

White House Keeps a Grip on Its News- Ari Fleischer is an asshole.

Fleischer is Met with Protest- 1500 people protest Ari Fleischer, because he is an asshole.

Posted by Jake at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

Questionable Marketing

I saw a bizarre commercial on television today for the Saturn VUE sport utility vehicle.

The commercial depicted several men in their 30s driving out to the woods. The men unload their gear from their Saturn and set up camp. Then the opening strains of the song "Dueling Banjos" are heard. The men all freeze in place, eyes wide. They then throw all their gear back in the car and speed off.

Without proper context, that commercial probably doesn't make much sense. And with proper context, the commercial becomes outright disturbing.

"Dueling Banjos" was a song famously featured in the 1972 movie Deliverance. Deliverance is about four suburban men who go on a camping trip, only to be brutalized physically and sexually by some deranged backwoods residents.

In other words, the TV commercial's tagline could easily be:

The Saturn VUE- protection from anal rape by psychotic hillbillies.

Posted by Jake at 09:43 PM | Comments (23)

October 13, 2002

Listen to LMB Radio Online, Monday 2-4PST

Just reminding you that tomorrow's LMB radio show (Oct 14) on is an interview with Garrick Ruiz, L.A. activist recently returned from the Occupied Territories. As I, and most likely you, have never and probably will never visit this region, the next best thing is talking to someone who has. We'll be talking about his experiences. If you've got any questions you'd like me to ask Garrick, email me at . Or, if you've got a question during the interview, write to .

Lying Media Bastards radio
Monday, Oct 14, 2-4pm PST

Posted by Jake at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

Land of Make-Believe

As I've said many times now, I believe that this coming Iraq war is all about the US gaining control of more of the Middle Eastern oil supply, and about forcing US-friendly regimes/policy throughout the region. I think that all of the talk about "weapons of mass destruction" and "violations of UN resolutions" is just a smokescreen to cover up the unpleasant truth.

Yet I can't help but get caught up in some of the smokescreen arguments, because no one is talking publicly about the actual motivation. So I just have to spout off this one rant about the weapons inspections.

The main sticking point about weapons inspectors in Iraq is "unfettered access" to Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces. Maybe he's got WMD there, maybe he doesn't. Either way, his refusal to allow total access is understandable. How enthusiastic would US officials be if they were forced to allow inspectors to investigate the Pentagon, or the White House?

So let's say that this is indeed a limitation, one that can't be overcome.

I'd say send the inspectors in to investigate Iraq to the best of their ability. Let them make a full report about any WMD they have found and destroyed throughout the country.

Then, if Bush is still worried, go bomb the presidential palaces.

I'm not crazy about bombing, but you've gotta admit, it would save lives. This strike would destroy 8 large compounds and their inhabitants. The alternative is the Bush war, which will destroy the entire nation.

Posted by Jake at 01:10 AM | Comments (0)

Iraq War, You Are Cleared for Take-Off

As I'm sure you've heard, earlier this week, Congress went ahead and gave President Bush authority to use force to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq and enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq." Many people are upset about this. I used to be one of them, but I came to realize weeks and weeks ago that there was no way that a majority of Congressmen would choose to oppose this bill, in the face of severe White House pressure and under the threat that they would have to face accusastions of "being un-American" during their next election campaign. I eventually moved into a state of glum acceptance, because I didn't see any other alternative. Kinda makes you think about American democracy, a system in which no government official gives a fuck what you think.

I suppose there's still the off-chance that some sort of fancy UN negotiating could still prevent this war. I have never believed that this conflict had anything to do with Iraq's weapons, but the US has presented this as its prime justification. If Iraq fully cooperates with US demand, that justification for attack vanishes. At that point, the US has to choose whether it wants to attack anyway and lose all credibility and respect, or re-think their plans. Re-thinking their plans could result in a new, non-war strategem, or might simply mean that that the US fabricates an all new justification.

And just for fun:

CIA Feels Heat on Iraq Data- "Senior Bush administration officials are pressuring CIA analysts to tailor their assessments of the Iraqi threat to help build a case against Saddam Hussein, intelligence and congressional sources said."

U.S. Has a Plan to Occupy Iraq, Officials Report- "The White House is developing a detailed plan, modeled on the postwar occupation of Japan, to install an American-led military government in Iraq if the United States topples Saddam Hussein, senior administration officials said today. The plan also calls for war-crime trials of Iraqi leaders and a transition to an elected civilian government that could take months or years."

White House Seen Resisting Inquiry- Congress is trying to pass a bill that would create "an independent commission to investigate government failures surrounding last year's terrorist attacks," but the White House seems to be trying to delay or derail this bill. I don't think this is a sign of a "Bush knew" conspriacy, I just think it's part of the Bush administration's knee-jerk secrecy strategy. Bush could've taught Nixon a thing or two about secrets and deception.

Posted by Jake at 01:01 AM | Comments (1)

Bowling for Columbine

Saw a sneak preview of Michael Moore's new movie this past Thursday over at the Museum of Tolerance. The film is another documentary that takes a hard, satirical, liberal/progressive look at America, this time about guns, violence and American culture. It's called Bowling for Columbine. And at this particular screening, Michael Moore was in attendance, and was planning to answer some questions from the audience afterwards.

Actually, this movie was opening in Los Angeles the day after this particular screening. My main reason for going is that my boss, Tom Morello, was friends with Michael Moore, and I thought that there was a good chance if I went with Tom, that I'd get to talk with Mike a bit. He seems like a good guy.

The movie was good, I definitely recommend seeing it (Hell, it's almost worth seeing just because it's a documentary that is appearing in mainstream movie theaters. That only happens like once every 5 years or so). The film is a bit jumbled for taking on as many subjects as it does, but when a segment hits, it hits hard.

The first half of the movie is about America's love affair with guns. It veers from the wacky (banks that give away free guns for opening up new accounts) to the horrific (the Columbine school massacre). However, making the American Gun look silly or terrible is not a very difficult task. Moore manages to accomplish the task using a combination of legitimate humor, hard-hitting satire, and obvious cliches.

The second half of the movie is very intriguing. The film compares the huge numbers of American gun deaths (around 11,000 a year) to the numbers of gun deaths in other Western countries (usually around 300 a year). But just when you would expect the film to argue that the reason for the excess gun death is due to the huge numbers of guns around the country, the film points out that Canada contradicts the predicted argument; Canada has many guns, but few gun deaths. Which begs the question, what makes America different? What is it about American culture that brings about these gun deaths?

It's a question both fascinating and important. The remainder of Moore's film explores it, suggesting several broad theories, but doesn't try to give a definitive answer. You'll walk out of the theater with your brain chugging like a train uphill, seeking an answer, making slow-- but forward-- progress. My mind's still got this task running in the background.

The film also includes a short interview with Marilyn Manson, in which he postulates a link between fear and consumerism. My subconscious is also working on his theory, trying to refine it into something simpler about the nature of power.

But did my plan work? Did attending the Thursday screening allow me to meet Michael Moore?

Once the Q&A was over, Tom grabbed Mike's attention and invited him to go out with us. Mike told us that he'd love to, but that he had to stop by a party first, it should only take about 10 minutes. Would we like to join him?

Which is how I ended up at a posh Beverly Hills mansion, at a party being thrown by the head of MGM Studios.

I lead a strange life.

Dinner came later. Mike and Tom caught each other up on the events of their lives. We discussed Mike's movies and the pending war on Iraq. And, I was able to determine, Mike is indeed a good guy.

Posted by Jake at 12:32 AM | Comments (3)

October 11, 2002

Go Back to J-School, Bitch

Pretty sickening new report from our pals at FAIR.

Connie Chung: Skeptical of Skepticism

It describes an interview with Rep. Mike Thompson on CNN's Connie Chung Tonight. Key repulsive segments:

She then aired a clip from the speech that Bush made in Cincinnati:

"Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks.
"We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making, in poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September 11, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America."

After this soundbite, Chung continued: "Congressman, doesn't that tell you that an invasion of Iraq is justified?"

Thompson began to respond: "Connie, we haven't seen any proof that any of this has happened. I have sat through all the classified briefings on the Armed Services...."

She interrupted Thompson's answer, saying, "You mean you don't believe what President Bush just said? With all due know... I mean, what..."

What the hell are you talking about, Connie? The president's assertions are proof? Any decent journalist could take half a dozen cracks to the skull with a crowbar and still know that words aren't evidence.

And later, she spouted:

"Congressman Thompson, there are those who believe that you and your two colleagues who went to Iraq came back with the basic position of President Bush may be trying to tell you something that in his effort to get approval for an invasion in Iraq, that you shouldn't believe. So it sounds almost as if you're asking the American public, 'Believe Saddam Hussein, don't believe President Bush.' "

So in other words, since this Congressman finds all the anti-Iraq evidence he's seen unconvincing, he is obviously scheming with Saddam to destroy America, right?

FAIR's report then gives a link to what they think is a better, more thorough analysis than Chung's incredulous White House shilling, which you can read here.

Posted by Jake at 02:50 AM | Comments (3)

October 10, 2002

"Worshipping a dictator is such a pain in the ass."
-Chinua Achebe

Posted by Jake at 06:08 PM | Comments (0)

I Like the Funny

National Organization to Shoot Bill O'Reilly Into the Sun- "We are a group of people with a common goal for the common good. To shoot Fox News celebrity Bill O'Reilly into the sun. We do not wish any harm to Mr. O'Reilly, we simply feel that he could better serve mankind in a rocket ship, on a collision course with the center of our solar system."

The Buy Bush a PlayStation 2 Campaign- "Without the catharsis that video games provide, Bush has no way of fulfilling his militaristic fantasies other than actually fighting wars. Our course of action is clear, my friends: We must help this man, and in so doing, help those whose lives will be affected by a full-scale invasion."

Posted by Jake at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

Bleak Milestone

Happy Birthday, "Get Your War On!"

Don't miss the book tour.

Posted by Jake at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

Abortion Mysteries

There's a news story out today that seems pleased to announce that U.S. abortion rates dropped about 11% between 1994 and 2000 (the most recent data). The headline: Abortion Rate Drops Significantly.

But a bit later in the article, we find that the abortion rate jumped up about 25% for women below or near the poverty line.

The article focuses on the overall drop rather than the more specific increase in abortions. It suggests that the drop is due to "fear of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and more open discussion with youngsters about sex."

I haven't studied the subject much, but I would think that a drop in abortion rates might have something to do with Americans' limited access to abortion services. According to Choice USA, "in 86 percent of the counties in the United States, there is no doctor who provides abortions."

And I thought that this lack of access was increasing due to a surge in mergers between Catholic and secular churches in the 1990s. About half of these merged hospitals do not provide abortion or other reproductive health services.

As a side note, the AP article quotes "Kathryn Kolbert," a professor for whom I was a teaching assistant in 2000.

Posted by Jake at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2002

Fuck Santa Monica

The city council of L.A. beach community Santa Monica passed two laws yesterday which to try to drive out the city's homeless population.

The laws will more or less make it against the law for charity organizations to feed the homeless, and it will prohibit anyone from sitting or lying in a doorway from 11pm-7am.

The law's backers have convinced themselves that somehow depriving the homeless of food and a place to sleep is in everyone's best interest. But honestly, it's about the business/tourism district of town wanting all those icky people to go away.

Posted by Jake at 05:03 PM | Comments (2)

Enrique's Journey

If journalism is just another type of storytelling, we've got an amazing example of it here.

Lourdes lived on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, with her two young children, Enrique and Belky. In 1989, when her two children were 5 and 7 respectively, she left the two with relatives and snuck into the United States, hoping to earn more money so that her children could live a better life. If than poverty they would face she stayed in Honduras. Enrique longed for his mother, and eleven years after her departure, he decided to make the dangerous trip himself to see her once again.

This is his story.

Two reporters from the LA Times, writer Sonia Nazario and photographer Don Bartletti met Enrique in Mexico in 2000, as he began his 8th and final attempt to cross into the United States. After documenting his story and its conclusion, Nazario and Bartletti decided to retrace Enrique's steps. They took the same voyage themselves, to make their report as vivid and personal as possible.

Their result is pretty impressive, a six-part LA Times special report that reads more like a novel than news. It is supplemented with gorgeous photographs, maps, charts, and stories of other immigrants like Enrique.

It's certainly worth a read.

Enrique's Journey

Posted by Jake at 03:59 PM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2002


I'll just steal these links from Politics in the Zeros.

Military analysts at Stratfor predict that "A military coup attempt against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is imminent, according to STRATFOR sources in Caracas and the United States. The attempt could be launched within days or even hours."

This claim is further backed up by a reporter at Narco News, who claims "I'd say that a coup attempt is very likely, a successful coup attempt is very much less likely, but still a possibility."

This would make the second attempted overthrow of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in the past 6 months. You can read about the first attempt in my Stray Bulletins article here

Posted by Jake at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

Nazis, Bastards, Charlatans, Toadies, Critics, and Cops

(not necessarily in that order)

German Media Firm Discloses Nazi Ties- ever hear of the Bertelsmann corporation? Well, you should know them. They're one of the five largest media conglomerates on planet Earth, and the world's largest publishing company. Here in the U.S., they're probably best known for their mail-order record club, BMG. Well, Bertelsmann is now publicly admitting that during WWII they printed huge amounts of Nazi propaganda for Germany, and employed Jewish slave laborers.

Armey Seeks Provision in Bill To Punish Hometown Paper- "Furious at how the Dallas Morning News covered his son's failed congressional bid this year, House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) is trying to insert language in a military spending bill that would force the newspaper's parent company to sell off one of its Dallas media properties." What an asshole.

A Debate Erupts Over the Gubernatorial Debate- Yesterday, the LA Times held a debate for the California governor candidates Gray Davis and Bill Simon. Simon invited Green Party candidate Peter Camejo to join in the debate, but Davis stated that if Camejo were included, that Davis would cancel the debate. While that's good politicking (it is likely that Camejo might have drawn votes away from Democrat Davis), it's fucked up in all other ways. I'm not the hugest fan of the Green Party, but it is the closest thing the U.S. has had to a viable third party in quite some time. But the duopoly of Dems and Reps are doing their best to maintain their stranglehold on governmental power. The LA Times take on the debate controversy is here.

Disturbing Behavior: Police Response to the Riot Raises Troubling Questions- a local reporter describes his erroneous arrest by Eugene police simply because he was nearby a "riot" that the police were trying to "contain." I've been looking for info about this "riot" but I'm not having much luck. Sounds like a bunch of college students, for reasons I can't find, tore up a bunch of street signs and started a huge bonfire in the street. Cops then arrested 35 people, many of whom seem to have simply been standing around, not breaking any laws.

"Journalism is a total scam"- blogger and columnist Ken Layne points out how reporters were filing stories about W's big Iraq speech last night before he even gave it. Layne describes it as part of a journalistic farce in which reporters receive a copy of a politician's speech far in advance of his reading of it, and often get that politician's opponent's comments about the speech as well. The reporter then writes the story, and usually holds off to file it until the speech has actually been given, to give it at least a veneer of legitimacy.

Media Activists Impact Iraq Coverage- FAIR claims that pressure from average Jo(e)s like you and me has caused major media outlets to correct some of their recent shoddy coverage of issues surrounding the war on Iraq.

Media Guide: How to View the United Nations- cynical Media Beat column about the schizophrenic ways in which pundits and reporters regard the United Nations. When the White House supports it, a UN resolution is very important. When the White House doesn't support it, a UN resolution is irrelevant rhetoric.

Posted by Jake at 10:13 AM | Comments (5)


Jesus fucking Christ!

Police Foil White Plot to Recapture South Africa

Near as I can figure, South African police have arrested twelve white men who are allegedly part of a massive plot to return the nation to apartheid rule. I can't tell if this is just a handful of men with huge ambitions, or if there are actually thousands of men involved in a real live conspiracy.

The latest setback came on Friday when the police dug up a cache of guns, grenades and homemade bombs in the red earth of a farm near Modimolle, deep in the Boer heartland of Limpopo province.

It included 16 ammonia-nitrate cylinder bombs, time switches, chemicals, and thousand of rounds for various firearms, including shotguns, rifles and 9mm pistols.

Not a huge arsenal but significant, the police said, because it was intended to supply a rightwing conspiracy to take power through terror and to re-establish white minority rule in South Africa.

The alleged plot was breathtaking in its ambition. A few thousand men were to seize radio and television stations, assassinate cabinet ministers and expel hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of black people.


According to court documents, the conspiracy was to spring apartheid-era killers from jail, blow up dams, destroy the state's computer network and seize military bases.

A report intercepted by the police known as "document 12" shopwed how 3,772 men would initiate a five-phase plan.

The Western Cape was to be given to "coloureds", people of mixed race, in exchange for their collaboration and "all important traitors" were to be eliminated.

"Blacks and Indians will be told to leave the country. The 'push' action will be used by attacking blacks and Indians who refuse to leave. For the 'suck' action, food will be provided on the roads to motivate them to move," the document stated.

Posted by Jake at 12:23 AM | Comments (1)


Interpol- PDA
Korn- Falling Away from Me
Juan Esquivel- Mucha Muchacha
Bad Religion- Automatic Man
Faith No More- A Small Victory
The Blood Brothers- The Face in the Embryo
Jake on copyright and encryption
Refused- Tannhauser/Derive
Run DMC- King of Rock
The Beatings- The Ballad of Jimmy & Jenny
The Undertones- Teenage Kicks
Jake on Iraq
Anti-Flag- The System Doesn't Work for You (live)
The Liars- Grown Men Don't Fall in the River Just Like That
Bill Hicks- Artistic Roll Call
Public Enemy- Welcome to the Terrordome
Rage Against the Machine- In My Eyes
Fear- I Love Livin in the City
Harry Belafonte- Angelina
The Cure- Just Like Heaven (live acoustic)
The Clash- London Calling
DJ Keoki (?)- Speed Racer
System of a Down- War

Next week, interview with Garrick Ruiz about his recent time in the Occupied Territories.

Posted by Jake at 12:20 AM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2002

From the American Frontlines

Lots of anti-war protests took place across the U.S. today. I was at the L.A. rally/march in Westwood, seemed like a good turn-out. I am absolutely terrible at estimating crowd size, but I'm guessing that it was around 5000-6000 people. I was the guy with the homemade "No Blood for Empire" sign taped to the front of my shirt, and the pics of Rumsfeld and Skeletor taped to my back.

Some rally photos:

San Francisco, CA
Chicago, IL
Nashville, TN
New York, NY
Austin, TX
Asheville, NC
Salt Lake City, UT
Seattle, WA
Los Angeles, CA
Portland, OR
Fresno, CA
Corvallis, OR
Atlanta, GA

That's all I can find for now. According to protest organizers Not In Our Name, more than two dozen events were planned for the days between October 5-7, so I'll keep adding photo links as they become available.


IndyMedia is trying to catalog all of this weekend's peace protest news at this link


Sadly, I imagine most news stations will limit their coverage of the event to 60-90 seconds that will run something like this:

  • shot of well-dressed reporter in front of mass of people with signs. She says something about people opposed to the "so-called 'invasion of Iraq'"
  • shot of guy leading the rally shouting into a microphone, something like "we're here to tell George Bush to say NO to war!" Or "we're here to say 'no blood for oil!'"
  • shot that pans over crowd while reporter repeats the police estimate of crowd size.
  • brief soundbite given by the least sane and least coherent person at the entire rally, "Bush is an imperialist Hitler threatening our liberties and coated in blood. The Trilateral Commission...! Argh! The spiders!! The spiders!!!"
  • shot of the more attention-hungry protesters shouting at the camera, audio on mute.
  • "Back to you in the studio, Mark."
  • "Thanks Sally. In other news, the president announced that he's going to attack Iraq no matter what anyone says, and won't be satisified until Saddam Hussein is dead."
  • "That's right, Mark. In a speech at the White House today, Bush claimed that he would pummel Iraq until he is able to strut around the White House wearing Saddam Hussein's bleached skull as a codpiece."

Posted by Jake at 09:03 PM | Comments (3)

October 04, 2002

Garrick on LMB Radio

Just got off the phone with Garrick Ruiz, a member of the International Solidarity Movement, those folks from around the world who went into the Occupied Territories to try to prevent the Israeli army from killing Palestinians. As you may be aware, I have his email reports from his trip posted here.

Anyhow, Garrick is going to join me on my show next Monday, October 14, 2-4pm. We'll talk about his experiences in Palestine. Tune in, go to that day and listen to our webcast.

If you've got a question to ask Garrick, email me and I'll be sure to ask Garrick during the program.

Posted by Jake at 04:25 PM | Comments (1)

Angry at Fear

I know some extremely bright and reasonable people who support the U.S. war on Iraq. They feel that Saddam Hussein does have weapons of mass destruction, and that he might use them against the United States. They don't know if he is likely to do that, but they are unwilling to take that chance. In their minds, attacking Iraq will remove Saddam Hussein and any potential threat he might pose to us here in America. And since he is a bad man, the people of Iraq will certainly be better off. Anyone who disagrees with this position is either naive for trusting Saddam Hussein not to attack, or they "hate America," or they are needlessly letting the Iraqi people suffer under a tyrant when America could go set them free.

To me, their arguments are based upon one thing: fear.

They are afraid that they might be attacked by Saddam Hussein, possibly an attack as horrifying as the attacks of September 11. And a war against Iraq, which will be just another television program to most Americans, will eliminate this fear.

"But what about all the innocent Iraqis who will die?" you might ask them. To which many reply matter-of-factly, "people die in war." People also die in murder. And in lynching. And in genocide. The "people die in war" argument is absolutely un-fucking-acceptable.

I'm angry. I'm angry that so many Americans would be willing to allow the killing of thousands of strangers just so that these Americans don't have to feel afraid anymore. The lives of their loved ones are unimaginably precious, and the lives of strangers are worth less than nothing.

So here you go. Feel free to continue to support a war on Iraq, a war on your own fear. But I want you to read a few things first. These are the people who will die. These are the people who may soon become orphans or widows. Feel free to call for war, once you know on whom the bombs will rain.

Letters from Iraqi High School Students to American Students

Reflections from Iraq- peace activist from New Orleans brings medicine to Iraq, talks with the people there.

Voices in the Wilderness Photo Galleries- pictures of the people of Iraq.

Sorry folks, I'm really not a fan of self-righteous screeds like this, but I'm at the end of my rope. These peace activists returning from Iraq have really brought the message home to me. I've been ranting for months about injustice and death and war, but it's a different thing to read a letter from a teenage boy and his love of soccer, and then think "will he still be alive when the bombs drop next month? Or the month after? Or the month after that?"

I'll probably interview one of these returning activists on my radio show in the next couple of weeks. It might change a few minds, and it might not. And even if those minds are changed, will it make a difference?

Inside me there's little but a battle between fury and despair. And the battleground is so, so tired.

Posted by Jake at 02:06 PM | Comments (2)

Jake's Position Statement

I am opposed to the proposed U.S. war on Iraq.

The main reason I am against this war is that it will likely cause terrible death and destruction. The first Gulf War killed over 100,000 Iraqis and left their country in a shambles from which they have still not recovered eleven years later.

In addition, there is the possibility of much more far-reaching consequences. The aftermath of such a war could possibly bring civil war, strife or destabilization to other countries in the region, like Turkey or Iran. During Gulf War I, Iraq attacked Israel in an attempt to draw both that nation and other Arab countries into the fray. It is likely that he would do so again, and perhaps this time Israel would not be so restrained. Which means that there is a chance that the invasion of Iraq could bring about World War Three.

Any plan that has such potential for catastrophic loss needs to have an extremely important justification. I can find no such justification for this plan.

The Bush administration's primary given reason for this attack is that Saddam Hussein has, or seeks to obtain, biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The evidence of this is extremely flimsy, as no weapons inspectors have checked Iraq since 1998. Having examined all of the public evidence they have cited, I can only conclude that Iraq may have some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, but with very few effective means of delivering those weapons to enemies. Iraq does not seem to have any nuclear capabilities. One report claimed that if another country gave Iraq some uranium or plutonium, that Iraq could perhaps have a nuclear bomb within a matter of months. However that same report concluded that it was unlikely that any country would aid Iraq in this way. Without outside help, the report stated that Iraq would probably be unable to develop a nuclear weapon for at least five years.

Even if Iraq did have these weapons, that does not mean that the nation is necessarily a threat. Many nations around the world have some weapons of mass destruction, and no one seems particularly worried. After 12 years of media demonization, the American public seems content with "he has weapons of mass destruction" and "Saddam Hussein is evil" to consider him a threat. But Saddam Hussein seems primarily concerned with maintaining his own power. Using any of his weapons against the United States would be his downfall, because the Americans would not hesitate to retaliate. This U.S. attack would result in more destruction of his country, possibly his removal from power, and possibly his death.

And finally there has been some talk of the possibility that Saddam Hussein would give some of his weapons of mass destruction to terrorists who could then use them against the United States. Again, this seems unlikely because Saddam wants to stay in power. Most terrorist groups in the Middle East are Islamic fundamentalists who want to replace all secular governments with Islamic ones. Saddam Hussein's government is secular. Giving these weapons to the terrorists would be aiding potential enemies. Could he choose to ally himself with them against a greater foe, the United States? Perhaps. Could a terrorist-sympathizer in Iraq with access to these weapons give them to terrorists? Sure. Are these possibilities justification for war? I don't think so.

Perhaps there is other, secret evidence that the White House has which proves Iraq's danger more clearly? I don't know. It seems that if they did, they would present it to the public or at least publicly refer to it. They have been struggling to sell this war to the American people for months, and if they had this secret evidence, they surely could have used it in some way to be more persuasive.

So looking at the "weapons of mass destruction" argument, I find it extremely unconvincing. A dictator that may or may not have chemical and biological weapons, who would probably not use them against the United States unless he was under extraordinary circumstances, does not seem like much of a threat to me. Even more persuasive was the fact that, until the U.S. began trying to rally their support, none of the countries in the Middle East-- not even Iraq's neighbors-- were particularly concerned about Iraq or its weapons. If they live next-door and have no fears of Iraq, why should Americans when they're 10,000 miles away?

Given the flimsiness of this evidence, I conclude that it can't possibly be the real reason that the Bush administration wants to attack Iraq. I cannot believe that any world leader would look at the current dossier and feel that an attack on Iraq was more important than any other conflict or issue. Therefore this public reason must be a smokescreen to hide another reason for this attack, a reason that would not be acceptable to the American people.

So what is that reason? It's obvious that the sole goal of the Bush administration is "regime change" in Iraq. But why do they want that? The most popular theories I've read are: domestic politics; oil and control. "Domestic politics" argues that the sole reason the Bush administration wants to attack Iraq is to boost Bush's popularity and increase the chances that Republicans will win in the upcoming Congressional elections. "Oil" argues that this is simply the latest military venture to secure cheap oil for the U.S. I think that the best argument is "control," with the other two playing significant sub-roles.

In my opinion, the U.S. goal is to attack Iraq as the first step in trying to radically reshape regional politics in the Middle East. This concept is being tossed around by ultra-conservatives who have Bush's ear. I've read about it in terms of "democracy" and "defeating tyranny". I've also heard it referred to as "empire" and "Pax Americana".

In other words, given the importance of Middle Eastern oil to global politics, the United States government will take the steps necessary to turn all of the governments in the region into regimes that will do what the United States wants them to. This not only gives the US access to all the oil it needs, it also gives the country some leverage in deciding which other countries get how much oil for their own needs.

So that is my final stance. I oppose the war on Iraq because:

  • it will kill many people;
  • it will further destroy a ravaged country;
  • it will destabilize much of the Middle East, possibly causing even more death and destruction;
  • throwing the lives of millions into chaos to maintain one nation's global supremacy is utterly wrong.

Posted by Jake at 11:07 AM | Comments (4)

What They Want

I'll be printing a more comprehensive Iraq war piece momentarily, but I'll first address a question I raised some days ago.

Since some conservatives have been talking about the goal of a war on Iraq being to bring democracy to the people there, I wondered why no one was asking the Iraqis what they wanted. That's what democracy is, after all, people having a say in their rule (well, in a real democracy they actually do the ruling, but anyway). So if anyone was truly concerned about democracy and the Iraqi people, they'd find out what the Iraqis wanted, and do that. Perhaps they would want the U.S. to help liberate them from the rule of Saddam Hussein. Or, perhaps they wouldn't.

I haven't found any direct answers to that question yet, but I have seen evidence that they don't want war made upon them.

For example, we have this Toronto Sun article, Iraqi Children Live in Fear of Bombings. Or this article from the NY Times, in which Iraqis on the street tell the reporter that they will fight American troops with stones and knives if they have to. The reporter concludes that while many fear and hate Saddam Hussein, they hate and fear the United States more.

The reason I pursue this question is because I find it to be the only reasonable and morally justifiable argument that I've seen in favor of a war on Iraq. Obviously the U.S. has no plans to bring real democracy to Iraq, they will want to install a new government that is friendly to U.S. interests. But they will probably want the new government to kind of look like a democracy to make it seem legitimate to the world and to the American people. And part of me thinks that even a sham democracy must be better than living in a dictatorship. We haven't got a clear answer for the question, but it looks like the Iraqi people might prefer continuing to live under Saddam Hussein than a violent U.S. war that brings them a sham democracy. And if we actually care about what democracy means, we should respect that.

Posted by Jake at 09:55 AM | Comments (2)

Bad News News

The New Times company and Village Voice Media have signed some sort of deal which has resulted in the closing of the alternative newsweeklies the New Times Los Angeles and the Cleveland Free Times. That's a shame, because the New Times LA was a pretty good read. We'll still have the LA Weekly here in Los Angeles, which is a somewhat similar publication, but I liked having both around. Even the site seems gone, merged with the LA Weekly's site. Which means that a funny, mean-spirited piece about the band Creed that appeared in the final edition of New Times LA might be lost forever. Unless I reprint it here, in its entirey.

(by Tim Grierson, New Times LA, Oct 3-9, 2002)

Dear Scott:
Hope this letter finds you well. I'm glad to see you're recovering nicely from that unfortunate little fender bender back in April.
Before I get to the point, let me first say how much I appreciate the continued prayers and thanks for your band's success. Additionally, I don't want you to think that I am anything other than completely flattered by what you're trying to do in My honor.
But really-- and this time I mean it-- please, knock it off.
Scott, I have enough image problems these days. I've got my hands full with bad priests. The Middle East alone keeps me up nights. And, well, I don't need to tell you about the Pope, now do I?
Frankly, I can't afford any more P.R. nightmares. With that in mind, I think it's high time you guys got off the whole praising-Me angle. More importantly-- and I say this as a Friend, Scott-- you and the boys need to stop being such posers. I mean, Jesus, you sound just like Pearl Jam.
You're on top of the world right now, so I guess it's up to Me to give you a reality check: I don't care how much you celebrate My name, eventually people are going to realize you suck. Really really suck.
I'm sorry to be so blunt, but there it is. And don't think sucking up to Me is going to help. Listen, I'm telling you the same thing I told Amy Grant and DC Talk and Jars of Clay and King's X: God don't like no kiss-ass.
Have to run. But take what I said to heart. Next time, Scott, it won't be a car accident.

RIP New Times LA

In other media news, the Chicago Tribune is about to begin publishing a youth-oriented tabloid paper called Red Eye. This is a dumb idea that I think will fail. The CT wants the ad revenue that affluent young kids would bring in, but those affluent young kids likely get their news from their high-speed internet connections at work, school or home, and won't want to shell out money for the stuff they can get for free online. The article also notes that similar papers are in the works in Michigan and Long Island. I've been waiting to see the business world shift their news focus from the Baby Boomers to the GenX/GenY crowd. I can't wait for the youth-oriented pundit explosion. Sadly, since I hate Liberals, Conservatives and Moderates, I'm unlikely to get picked up as a GenX pundit. Guess I'll just have to keep shouting into the void.

And here's a decent article criticizing the radio industry from a recently unemployed industry insider.

Posted by Jake at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2002

Death of a Rich Guy

Plutocrat Walter Annenberg died this week, well-known for his former ownership of TV Guide and his philanthropy.

I'm not very sentimental about it, but I did want to mention it because there is a slight connection between me and Walter. Every year, he gave tons of money to the communications program at the University of Pennsylvania that bore his name. Because of this money, I was given a full scholarship to their grad school program. This scholarship led to me getting an internship with FAIR, which led me to getting a job as a web consultant for Rage Against the Machine's website. Which led to me getting promoted to their political advisor, which is leading to me running a non-profit rock & radical politics organization.

So you could say that without Annenberg's generosity, I wouldn't be where I am today. Or, you could say that I scammed him good as I now take potshots at the imperial corporate world in which he thrived.

But rather than wax nostalgic as so many eulogies do, I'm gonna link instead to this article which crucifies him for his mob ties, political cronyism, and attacks on freedom of the press.

Citizen Annenberg: So Long, You Rotten Bastard


Posted by Jake at 09:45 AM | Comments (2)

Today's Iraq War News

Bush Gets Strong Backing on Iraq- Congress seems to support the use of force in Iraq.

U.S. Losing Iraq Battle at the U.N.- the UN Security Council seems unwilling to draft a new "let inspectors in 'or else'" resolution for Iraq.

Iraq,UN Strike Deal on Inspectors' Return- Iraq agrees to allow free access to weapons inspectors, except some limits on their access to Saddam's presidential palaces. Which was enough of an excuse for the US to bomb back in 1998.

Bush: Iraq Force May Be Unavoidable- i.e. "I really, really want to attack Iraq!"

U.S., British Jets Strike Iraq Zone- the US & UK bombed Iraq again on Wednesday.

A Case Not Closed- every once in a while you hear that Saddam Hussein tried to kill (well, ordered someone else to kill) former president George H.W. Bush. This 1993 article examines the evidence of this claim, and finds it questionable at best.

The President's Real Goal in Iraq- you really should read this one. Argues that two US national security documents lay out quite clearly the hidden US agenda in Iraq.

Posted by Jake at 09:33 AM | Comments (2)

Jake's Spooky Psychic Powers

Iraqi vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan suggested today that the U.S. and Iraq avoid war by staging a duel between Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush.

Which I actually suggested back in August.

[cue spacey theremin music of mystery]

Why risk the lives of thousands when we can stick the tyrannical monsters in the ring and let em duke it out. Show it on pay-per-view and it'll help the economy. My poll showed that Americans preferred a chainsaw duel to war about 92 to 5.

Posted by Jake at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2002

Meet the Targets

Just found this post on the LA IndyMedia site.

"A series of e-mails that Loyola School of Law, New Orleans, Professor Bill Quigley has sent back from Iraq. He has been there on a Voices in the Wilderness delegation since Sept. 21. I hope they inspire us all to work harder for peace."

Bill Quigley went to Iraq with members of Voices in the Wilderness, a group that has been fighting against the U.S. sanctions on Iraq since their inception. They came to bring medicine to the stricken nation. What follows are six emails from Jordan and Iraq from September 11 through September 30.

Go read em.

Since some of you aren't the type to follow links, I'll post the passage that moved me the most.

While we were waiting in the lobby to leave, a man about 25 or 30 came up to us and introduced himself to us. He said his name was Adil Hameed Raheem, an English teacher and translator ... He had tears in his eyes. Then he reached into his satchel, and pulled out a small color picture of a little blue eyed girl with dark hair and a ribbon around her head. This was his daughter, he said, and he wanted us to have the picture and the words on the back. On the back, her father had printed:

"Dear US administration mems. I am Sala Adil. I am 8 months. I am iraqi. I would be very grateful if you let me live peacefully away of bombing and sanctions like all the children of the world. Sala."

Posted by Jake at 08:52 PM | Comments (0)

All the Nizews Ill Enough to Prizint

More on Headline News' plans to jiggify their broadcast for da youth:

Get ready for slang phrases like "bling-bling," "flava," and "freak" mixed in with the day's headlines as the AOL Time Warner-owned cable network turns to hip hop lingo to rope in younger viewers.

"In an effort to be sure we are as cutting-edge as possible with our on-screen persona, please refer to this slang dictionary when looking for just the right phrase," reads an internal Headline News memo obtained by the Daily News.

"Please use this guide to help all you homeys and honeys add a new flava to your tickers and dekos," the memo continues, referring to the graphics that appear on the busy Headline News screen.

On the CNN pick list of hip hop phrases: "jimmy hat" meaning condom, "fly" for sexually attractive, and "ill," meaning to act inappropriately.

I agree with media monitor Andrew Tyndall's comment on the situation, "There's nothing more ridiculous than people trying to act hipper than they are."

Posted by Jake at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

The Battle for Peace

If you have been a reader of this site for any length of time, I'd imagine that you share my opposition to a U.S. war on Iraq (anyone else would've left already). So maybe you want to get involved in fighting against this damn war and maybe saving some lives. I'm not optimistic about our chances, but it's certianly a worthwhile goal.

Your first, and easiest way of getting involved is this handy petition organized by Michael Moore. Basically, it says "I pledge to never vote again for any Democratic candidate for public office who has voted in favor of George Bush's war in Iraq." Could be a nice kick in the pants for Democrats to pose some opposition. And if not, you got to scare a Democrat, and that's fun in itself. But you might say to yourself "Jake, I want to oppose this war in Iraq, but I don't want to vote for a Republican next election if the Democratic candidate voted for war!" Then don't. The petition is public, your vote is private, your rep ain't gonna find out. Politicians lie to us all the damn time, I feel no qualms about lying back every now and again.

Next, you've got a proposal by Barry Deutsch to have a one-day mass letters to Congress/letters to the editor/blog postings binge opposing the war in Iraq. He's calling it the Open Letters BlogBurst.

Then, you've got a series of nationwide protests coming up this weekend, October 6-7. You can get a list of them here. If there isn't one near you, feel free to start one yourself.

Or if you're in it for the long haul, you can read about the direction of the peace movement and a number of its core organizations here, in a good column from our pal Geov Parrish.

And remember, you're not alone in this. Among people calling up their Congressmen, the majority seem to oppose the war on Iraq. And just this weekend in London, 150,000-450,000 Britons marched in the streets to oppose the war (although our friends at FAIR point out that the U.S. media chose to ignore the story of the largest protest in London in a decade).

"First, they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win."

- Gandhi

Posted by Jake at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

Bastards, Heroes and Fools

Defense Reporters Organize To Address Coverage- starting with the Gulf War, the U.S. military has gone to amazing lengths to control media coverage of its wars to control its image, with great success. Now, a group of American journalists has formed the organization Military Reporters and Editors, which will fight these government restrictions on reporting and access. Good luck, MRE.

In a related story, a BBC correspondent in Afghanistan ran into a rarely seen example of military image control. Some of the U.S. soldiers showed him laminated cards that they had been given with suggested answers to give to frequently asked journalist questions.

Substance Wasn't Uranium- another press debacle. Several days ago, the press reported that two men had been detained in Turkey for trying to smuggle 33 pounds of uranium into Syria, certainly a panic-inducing story in these days when weapons of mass destruction are on everyone's minds. Then the press corrected itself, that the men only had 5 ounces of uranium. And now today, they corrected themselves again, the substance wasn't even uranium, but some strange mix of other metals.

CF&M Heads Anti-Label PR Push for Biotechs- this November, the people of Oregon will vote on a ballot initative called Measure 27. Measure 27 would require all products that contain genetically-engineered ingredients to be labelled as such. Not surprisingly, a number of big biotech firms and food manufacturers are fighting the bill through sneaky propaganda. They have hired the PR firm of Conkling Fiskum & McCormick for $4.6 million to form the Coalition Against the Costly Labeling Law. Their goal, as implied by the name, is to convince Oregon voters that the law will simply raise the price of food without doing them any real service.

CNN Headline News Chief Offers 'Cool' Info, and Fast- the head of CNN's sister channel Headline News (very, very brief news reports) is bragging about how "edgy" and "out there" his network is, in order to attract viewers from the covetted 18-34 year old audience. He "compared his morning news readers to disc jockeys on a zany morning radio show and said announcers were working in slangy expressions such as 'whack,' 'ill' or 'sick.'" I can't wait to see this news hipness move on to the pundit-fight shows. "Dude, that militant Islamic fundamentalism is whack, yo!"

Beware al-Qaida, Branch Is On to You- Law enforcement officials in Michigan tried to spread the word that Al-Qaeda members may be engaged in telemarketing in the U.S.-- after reading about the story in the parody newspaper "The Onion." That's some nice footwork, boys.

Posted by Jake at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

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Media News

October 25, 2002

Lies, Parrots and Brainwashing

Retropoll is a new organization that seeks to "investigate, expose, and challenge bias in corporate medial polling." So far I think they have performed one small national poll about the war on terrorism, which honestly looks more like a questionaire designed to shape public opinion more than to measure it.

But their data analysis does show one interesting result. The respondents who supported a war on Iraq were frequently the same ones who thought that there was evidence that Iraq had worked with Al Qaeda. And a high percentage of those who opposed the war thought that there was little to no evidence that Iraq had worked with Al Qaeda.

The analysts argue that many war supporters are victims of false government propaganda, and that media misinformation is having a large impact on public opinion.

["Although," says Jake, donning his social scientist hat, "there is no proof that the beliefs about Iraq-Al Qaeda evidence are the direct cause of the respondents' support or opposition to the war. Perhaps war supporters are more likely to believe that there is evidence that supports their position, while war detractors are more likely to believe that their opponents' position has no factual support."]

But I'm going to work on Retropoll's assumptions here for a minute.

I have re-shaped my opinion of reporters in the past year. I don't see them as villains anymore. The news media doesn't do that much "lying," but more often just repeat the lies that they have been told. For example, when a reporter quotes someone and says "today the president stated that 'two plus two equals five'", the reporter isn't lying. The reporter is telling the truth, that person did say those words. But the words are a lie, and reporters usually leave those lies unchallenged. I'd prefer a world where the reporter then continued "but our research shows that the president's claim is false." I'm sick and tired of reporters refusing to draw any conclusions, even when they're obvious and in plain sight.

But if the Retropoll people are right, this "truthfully reporting lies" style of coverage has an effect. It doesn't matter that the reporters didn't actually tell us that there is evidence of an Iraq-Al Qaeda link; their repetition of the White House's claim has convinced people that such evidence exists. And (according to Retropoll) that erroneous conviction is directly supporting public opinion about a monumental government policy decision. Which sort of makes the public into puppets and the reporters our strings. The liars call the tune and we dance on command, with a little help from the press.

Truthful media bastards.

Posted by Jake at 02:38 AM | Comments (0)
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